Saturday, June 30, 2012

June Foodie Pen Pals!

June was my first month participating in the Foodie Pen Pals program created by Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean, and boy was it fun! The way it works is this: sign up on Lindsay's blog and you'll be given the name of a person you'll put together a box of goodies (not to exceed $15) for. Another person will get your name and put together a box for you. Not only did I looooove getting my box of goodies from Dee, I had a complete blast putting a box together for my pen pal, Cassie. I definitely plan on participating next month. It's nice to get to know new people in a way that is so much fun and so unique!

Anyway, as for the goodie box, here's what was inside!


A delicious selection of chocolate flavored Justin's nut butters, which I totally love!



As well as a Justin's almond butter candy bar.


There was a bag of dark chocolate covered Goji berries, a jar of PB2, which I have been dying to try...I just kind of kept forgetting about it. I think I'm going to make a peanut noodle salad for dinner tonight using it in the sauce! Also, a grinder of pink sea salt!



Possibly my favorite items in the box are the two that are from local companies in her area: a bag of yummy looking raw granola and a sun dried tomato and asiago olive oil dip. I love shopping locally and I love trying local things when I travel, so it's a real treat to receive snacks from her area (although if I love them, I'm going to have to have her send me some more)!



I also adored her packing peanuts: a lululemon reusable bag! So cute and creative and environmentally friendly.



I love everything in my box! Thank you, Dee, for such an amazing selection of new goodies! And thank you, Lindsay, for all your work putting together and organizing the program!


If you are interested in participating in June's Foodie Pen Pals, sign up at The Lean Green Bean by the 5th of July and Lindsay will pair you with a pen pal! P.S. You don't have to be a blogger to participate, so if it looks like fun, don't hesitate to sign up!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Side effects

Yesterday I posted about the foods I miss since I can't eat corn or wheat. Today, I figured I'd balance it out by sharing with you the positive "side effects" the change has had.

1. I get ideas

I used to get these fabulous ideas for things I could do: creative birthday gifts, DIY projects around the house, new recipes, get togethers with friends, weekend plans. I think eventually my brain got tired of these ideas being rejected that it just stopped having them. I used to feel so guilty when I would come up with such a cool idea and then not have the energy to go through with it. I am finally starting to get these ideas back...and I'm doing them!

2. My apartment gets clean

I won't say that it IS clean because I've been in sort of a slump. The pain from my knee kept me awake at night for a whole week. Pair that with last weekend's adventure and I've been feeling less than motivated. I know, however, that it is temporary and will pass (that in itself is an amazing feeling!). And probably, with any luck, by this afternoon, our apartment will at least feel clean again.

3. I want to wear high heels

I have so many pairs of heels that I love. And in the past few years, it's just seemed like such a pain, so much more effort than I could afford to wear them....now I just need my dang knee to finish healing.

[caption id="attachment_933" align="aligncenter" width="572"] My fabulous wedding shoes may see the outside of their box again![/caption]

4. I've started writing again

I think I mentioned this one before. I stopped working on my large writing project just after we got engaged. I told myself I'd be too busy planning our wedding, but beyond that there was a little nagging feeling that I just didn't have the energy to produce anything good. And that's partly my own self-loathing speaking (fueled by a number of rejections of my first novel... "Can I really do this?!"), but somehow, I've found the courage and energy to pound out some words and have started a fresh draft of my current project. Wish me luck.

5. I want to redecorate

I won't claim to be the world's most amazing decorator. Hell, I won't claim to be one ounce of good at it at all, but ever since I was a kid, I've had this amazingly keen desire to redecorate, rearrange rooms every few months or so. I was actually a little hesitant to move into my first apartment after college because my bedroom was too small to move the furniture around. Could I really live like that? Well, I managed. And again, our room is too small to do much moving around. But for a while there, I had no desire to make changes at all, and while I still can't move the furniture, I have this desire to freshen up the decor and find myself often cruising House Beautiful and numerous home decor blogs in my free time.

6. I want to be my best self

And I feel motivated to make the changes necessary. Not major changes. Just little things like making time for exercise every day (and not just when I already have time for it). Taking time for MYSELF every day...to read, to write, to watch a television show. And sticking with my new diet...lifestyle really...because that's what makes all of the items on this list happen.

Prior to finding out about these allergies, I wasn't sure I'd ever be able to feel "normal" again. I was sure there was a good possibility I would just be tired forever, unable to muster the energy to get through every day. The "side effects" have been amazing. Now I believe there's a good possibility I may actually find a bit of contentment in my life, a bit of happiness that lingers rather than falling away as soon as it arrives.

Have you ever been so discouraged by something you can't control that it feels like it may never go away? How did you cope with that?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I miss....

Since cutting wheat and corn out of my diet, obviously the food items I put into my mouth on a daily basis have changed drastically. But it hasn't always been in the ways you might think....ways that even I would have thought. Of course things like french bread and cupcakes are more obvious, but there are plenty of not-so-obvious items as well.

1. Vegetarian meat substitutes




[caption id="attachment_925" align="aligncenter" width="350"] source[/caption]

I can't tell you how many meals I've made in the past that were centered around these sausages...or veggie crumbles....or veggie burgers. I wouldn't have imagined they had wheat in them, but wheat protein is pretty much the #1 ingredient in most of these products.


2. Saltines

[caption id="attachment_926" align="aligncenter" width="373"] source[/caption]

Weird, I know. But Jim and I used to eat Saltines in bed with a glass of milk for our "nighttime snack" before we went to sleep. It's not like I'm overly in love with the crackers. It's just something we can't do anymore, and I miss it.

3. Baking

[caption id="attachment_927" align="aligncenter" width="720"] Baking snickerdoodles with Lil Man the first time I watched him all by myself[/caption]

Before I found out about the allergies, I was a baking fool. I loved to bake: cupcakes, cookies, brownies. You name it. It's not that I can't bake anymore, it's just that it's more challenging. And there's no substitute for a hot-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookie. I'm sorry. There's just not.

4. Caramel...specifically caramel macchiatos from Starbucks

[caption id="attachment_928" align="aligncenter" width="305"] source[/caption]

Yes, I've written them a friendly email stating that they shouldn't use corn syrup in their caramel, but the fact remains: it's there and I can't drink it and I miss caramel macchiatos like hell. (I actually had the genius idea to make my own caramel sauce, order a vanilla latte and drizzle away! Although that may end up kind of messy...oh well, it's worth a try!)

5. Corn...yes, just corn

[caption id="attachment_929" align="aligncenter" width="425"] source[/caption]

Corn on the cob is so delicious. It's one of my all-time favorite foods. Aside from that, I put corn in everything: rice bowls, pasta, soups, anywhere it can just be tossed in....at least I used to. I sure do miss corn.

Have you ever had to give up eating something you love?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Slight change of weekend plans...

Sometimes things don't go the way you expect them to. Sometimes you plan a nice relaxing weekend at home, prefaced by a casual Friday night dinner at your favorite winery with some of your favorite people. And sometimes, you get exactly the opposite.

Sometimes, it's even better than what you planned....


That's right, sometimes you randomly end up at Disneyland!



 

Can you tell I haven't slept in that photo? Can you tell we got a phone call, wildly packed up the car and drove 8 hours through the night? I'm so in love with the fact that we have enough spontaneity in our lives to just decide to do something like that. It makes me happy.

Of course, today my feet are in pain. I packed for a night at the vineyard, not a full day of walking around two parks in flat sandals. And I'm still tired because I think we got a total of 12 hours of sleep over the course of two nights...only six of which were in a bed. But how could we say no? How, when we had no other plans for the weekend, could we turn down a day at Disneyland? And at practically no cost?

We couldn't. Bottom line.

We got to the park around 10 am. We stopped by the hotel where BJ's son and his family were staying to drop off our stuff. They generously offered us the second bedroom of their timeshare suite, so we had a place to stay. They have three adorable little girls (hold on, let me see if I can't jack a photo from their mom's facebook page for ya)...ah, there they are!

Adorable, right?


Anyway, they had so much fun! The oldest one went on Tower of Terror with us, and based on this photo, I think she had a better time than I did! (Actually, all three girls eventually went on the ride...I sure wouldn't have at their age!). She's the one on the far left, her dad is in blue, I'm the one next to him looking like I'm dying, and my husband...well, he just looks like a kid in a candy store, doesn't he?



Despite my face, I actually love this ride. But I have this thing: when I'm on a roller coaster, I pull the shoulder bar thing down, and for some reason, I always want it to be one more click tighter....so when we were on California Screamin', the roller coaster, just before Tower of Terror, Jim pushed down and gave me one more click. Well, that turned out to be a bad plan because it totally squashed my stomach and I got a bit of vertigo feeling all throughout the ride. I blame this mostly on lack of sleep. I never get that feeling on rides!


Well, we got off and walked to Tower of Terror, but my heart rate just wasn't slowing any. All the way up to the door of the elevator (in case you don't know about this ride, we are sitting in a "service elevator car"), my heart was racing and I wasn't sure I wouldn't puke with all the flying up and down this ride does. So that look was "Don't yack, don't yack, don't yack!" not "holy cow, this is scaaaaaary." Why I opened my mouth, I'm not sure.  If I did yack, that wasn't going to do me any favors. But alas, no yacking. I did, however, walk off the ride shaking like a mad person and almost fell into a wall. But that's okay. That didn't piss off and gross out a whole "Elevator car" full of people. And I got over it soon enough.


Most of the day, Jim and I spent doing our own thing. We spent a little bit of time in the morning with the girls and BJ and Ash, but they were doing kid stuff and we wanted to ride a few of our favorites while we were there. I was fully expecting lunch to cause problems for me with all of my allergies, but I managed to find myself a pretty delicious lunch (that doesn't mean we didn't peek in at six different menus before we chose, though...). There's a Mexican restaurant in Frontierland that served up this baby:



It's a roasted veggie tostada...except I had her leave out the shell. It had refried beans, lettuce, roasted carrots, zuccini, squash, two kinds of peppers and onions, guacamole, cheese, salsa, and sour cream. I was quite impressed. Sure it cost me $10, but for Disneyland food? This thing wasalmost worth it. I capped it off with a $5 plate of fruit which contained several kinds of fruit including papaya, mango, kiwi, oranges, strawberries, blueberries and three different kinds of melon. Lunch was good.


For a Saturday when school is out, the crowds were pretty tame. I don't think we waited more than 20 minutes for any ride. We only got one fast pass all day and that was for Indiana Jones, which is still, I believe, one of the most popular rides at either park.


We didn't, however, attempt to ride any of the rides at the new CarsLand. No fast passes and wait times soaring to 185 minutes (at least that was the highest I ever saw on mousewait...great app for Disney parks, by the way...and dern accurate). CarsLand itself was pretty cool, though, like you were actually walking down the streets of Radiator Springs (with 500,000 of your closest friends).



Kind of makes me want to go home and watch Cars.


We also cruised by the new Starbucks they put in California Adventure (but passed on the $5 tall drinks) and the new front section of the park where the giant fountain and the Golden Gate Bridge used to be. Overall, we were pretty impressed (sorry, by that time I was too tired and having too much fun to remember to take any photos).


After a small dinner debacle (ok, it wasn't small, but I don't really want to go into it again...), we went back to the hotel and practically fell into bed. It had been a long day, and we had another long day of driving ahead of us in the morning...bright and early at 5:00 a.m....


But holy moly, was it worth it!


How was your weekend? Did you do anything crazy or fun? Do you ever up and head out on an adventure on a whim?

Friday, June 22, 2012

It's Farm Fresh to Me Day + Five Rounds of Acupuncture

My Farm Fresh to You shipment has arrived!

As I've mentioned before, once a month I get a box of organic, local produce delivered to my doorstep. Today's shipment excited me....as most do...but this one included so much stuff that I love!

[caption id="attachment_908" align="aligncenter" width="614"] Isn't that beautiful?[/caption]


Garlic


Carrots


Plums


Peaches


Lettuce


Potatoes


Zucchini


Broccolini


Bell Peppers




I can't wait to dig into this stuff and plan some recipes when I get home! Does anyone else loooove summer produce more than any other season? I can't get enough peaches and nectarines and strawberries and tomatoes and zucchini and plums! Although I am a pretty big fan of squash and pumpkin and lentils and carrots and most fall produce too. I guess that makes sense, though, being a non-meat eater and all. Most of my diet consists of produce and grains. And cheese. Although I try to limit that. :)


Acupuncture


On a...mostly completely different note, I finished my fifth round of acupuncture this week. I can't believe it's been over a month since I stopped eating wheat and corn and started getting poked with needles once a week. I feel so incredibly different. I feel myself wanting to do things again, want to start projects, create things. I've started writing again (yes, I know blogging is writing and I've been doing that, but I've got sort of a its-got-to-be-big-or-it-doesn't-count mentality. If I'm not writing a novel, it doesn't count. I'm working on it. One thing at a time. My overachieverness is just going to have to wait for a tick). I'm feeling so much more like...me.


And it's amazing to think a handful of needles once a week can help so much.


I'm going to post some photos now. If you hate needles and you are squeemish about it, don't scroll further.


But I went into this thing knowing nothing about what to expect...okay, that's not entirely true. My mom had told me about it, as well as my friend Christie, but I had no idea what the needles looked like or, more importantly, how big they were. And it's really not all that scary, but I figured I'd share in case anyone else is curious or contemplating acupuncture, but is maybe a little afraid or intimidated. And I apologize for the crappy cell phone photos. I wasn't about to bring my Canon in the room with me, so these will have to do...oh, and my mom took them. I'm not crazy enough to attempt that maneuver while acting as a human pincushion!




He has always put these two in my legs. Not sure exactly why but each point treats a different part of the body. The 4 he put in my lower back are supposed to treat fatigue.




This one is in the top part of my ear. You are looking from the top of my head. The white is the paper-covered cushion. This one is supposed to relax you. I'm not sure it did much the first few times...it'll take more than a needle in the ear to relax that kind of anxiety, but the last three or so treatments were actually pretty relaxing.


Overall, the acupuncture experience was pretty...tumultuous. My first treatment was okay...the second was borderline traumatizing. The third one was surprisingly good, and the fourth and fifth were probably what they're supposed to be: relaxing and a little rejuvenating. I'm glad that I did it.


Now if this darn knee would hurry up and finish healing, maybe I could get back into a normal routine of sleeping and working out and I'll feel good as new.


Have you ever had acupuncture? If so, what was your experience? If not, would you ever consider it?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Vote for Lil Man!

Hi friends! I need a huuuuge favor. I need you all to click this link to Tucker's Photo Contest and vote for him! The winner gets $10,000 for college and his face on the cover of Parents Magazine!


Isn't he just too cute?! Thanks so much for your help!


(P.S. You can vote every day!)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

My knee is feeling better...my brain feels like mush

It's been a full two days since I injured my knee, and its gotten a lot better. I can bend it. I drove to work today all by myself. It still hurts. It's still bruised. It still feels tight. But it's getting better.

It is not, however, allowing me to sleep yet, and the past three night's worth of not sleeping is taking it's toll today. I can't concentrate. I keep dazing off. I think I've yawned more times in the past hour than I do on most days. When I don't sleep, my tummy does weird things, so I've got this rumbly, upset, sort of sour stomach thing going on. Three shots of espresso couldn't even save me this morning.

I'm cranky. And all I want to do is sleep.

So I think that's pretty much all you're getting out of me today. Let's hope tomorrow is better.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Book Review: Under The Tuscan Sun

I don't know if I've mentioned it or not, but I'm in two different book clubs. And as such, I figured I'd start sharing my opinions of the books we read with you.

As I mentioned in a previous post, in one of my book clubs, we read Under the Tuscan Sun for our June meeting.

[caption id="attachment_864" align="aligncenter" width="300"] amazon.com[/caption]

I had a love/hate relationship with this book. It was written like a journal of sorts because the author took the content from a notebook that she kept beginning when she and her boyfriend, Ed, purchased the house in Tuscany. That being said, there was no plot, no storyline. It was simply a collection of thoughts, observations, recipes and tidbits from the experiences the author had purchasing, remodeling and spending summers at a house in Tuscany.

There were parts I really enjoyed. The book evoked in me a desire to experience life in another country, a completely different culture, a simpler way of life. It also made me consider the merit in cooking simply, eating in season and instilled in me a strong desire to grow an herb garden.

On the other hand, I wished there were some photos of the house, a floor plan maybe, some before and after photos of the things that were changed. There were parts of the book where I had a very hard time visualizing what she was writing about. At the end, there's a whole chapter about taking up the floor and there being layers and layers of stone below it. I just couldn't picture it. I ended up skimming the chapter because if I can't see it in my head, the words are just words.

There wasn't a lot of dialogue, and I found that left something lacking. I had a hard time relating to the author. There was very little about her life, about her personality, about who she really was. Pair that with the fact that she obviously has unending wealth (buying a house in Tuscany, spending a ton of money to fix it up and then flying there twice a year...she can't be simply "getting by") and it was entirely impossible to relate to her. I didn't feel for her, I couldn't see the world through her eyes, and I couldn't imagine what it might be like to be her. If you ask me, these things are crucial to really being able to enjoy a book.

So overall, I don't think I would recommend this book to anyone. Someone in our group asked "Did this book make you want to go to Italy?" I can't say that it did. In fact, I think, based on the book, my opinion and desire to visit the country has lessened. Of course that's not to say I wouldn't go given the opportunity or that it's no longer on my list of places I'd like to visit. It just didn't strengthen my desire like I would have expected a first-hand depiction would have.

Weekend Highlights

I'm writing to you today from the serene comfort of my couch...rather than the far less serene location of my desk at work. Why, you ask? Day off? Vacation? No, nothing quite so exciting or fun. You see, I'm pretty much confined to this couch...to our apartment anyway...because I was a complete dummy and evidently make poor snap decisions that, on occasion, leave me unable to drive myself anywhere.

But let's start from the beginning. It was a warm Saturday morning, perfect for a trip to the lake.






[caption id="attachment_876" align="aligncenter" width="491"] Yes, my rod is pink. :)[/caption]

There weren't yet too many people on the lake, so the water was nice and calm, the breeze still felt refreshing on your cheeks and the day was young and full of hope. Even the geese were out for a morning stroll.




[caption id="attachment_878" align="aligncenter" width="614"] don't they look like they're strolling?[/caption]

Jim was at the helm.



And I was in my usual spot at the bow.



It was a lovely morning....until the hoards of other people found their way out of bed and to our lake, which happens pretty much most summer days at this particular lake.


We even caught a fish.



And then we both posed with him before throwing him back. We decided his name was Oscar.



It was a pretty good day....until it wasn't anymore.



Let's just say a combination of things created a less than ideal situation where I needed to think quickly, and somehow lunging for the boat as I felt it slipping away from me, my feet on the dock and my hands still holding on to the boat, seemed like a more favorable idea than just falling into the water.


Fortunately, I didn't need stitches and I didn't break anything, but I think given the opportunity again, I'm going to choose the water.


I could barely walk the rest of Saturday. Yesterday it was...better. I could bend it, and move it a little. But even today, I can't lift it on its own. To get onto my bed, onto the couch, into the car I have to lift it up with my hands and put it where I want it. It makes it quite hard to push in the clutch and drive.


So here I sit, catching up on recorded shows and trying to "relax" and heal. Eventually I'll try to take a shower. Yes, I know it's gross. I haven't had one since...Friday night? Yuck, right? But maybe the dip I took in the lake after gashing my leg counts?


Later I plan to make myself a citrus salad with lunch, like this one I made Friday afternoon:



It's so simple: a grapefruit, an orange, a few mint leaves and a splash of my favorite olive oil, scented with lime.



It's a local company that makes a ton of different flavors of oil. The garlic is my favorite overall. But they also have the lime, orange, jalapeno and a variety of unflavored ones as well. They have a store in downtown Placerville, and my mom and I always make it a stop when we are there.


Well, two episodes of Pretty Little Liars are beckoning, so I am going to go fill my brain with someone else's drama for a while. Have a wonderful Monday!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Today is a "blah" kind of day

It really is. I woke up, exhausted still, rolled over and was fully back to sleep before Jim woke me up when he got in the shower. I meandered through my morning routine, making Jim's lunch, putting together snacks for myself, making lattes and getting dressed. I almost forgot to bring Under the Tuscan Sun, which I'm supposed to have finished by tomorrow...and I'm supposed to make a recipe from the book to bring to book club. That part I'm actually looking forward to. Reading the rest of the book? Not so much. I'll try to remember to post a review when I'm finished.

When I got to work, the Lil Man showed up shortly after I did, so that made my day a little. But then I had to take him to my mom's house to have a nap. At her house, I weighed myself, anticipating the "losing a few pounds" that I was supposed to be doing as a result of cutting out the wheat and corn. I've lost 5 in the last month...it seems like it should be more. I think the hypoglycemia is messing me up there. I have to eat so often, and I think I may just be losing track of what goes into my mouth. I'm thinking I may start chronicling that here...to help me keep better track.

As I sit here typing this, I feel like I'm going to throw up, and I can't seem to pinpoint why. I can't think of anything I've eaten that would make me sick.

Today, so far, I've had:

a muffin I made the other day

1/2 an Odwalla Vanilla Al'mondo Super Protein Drink (a little heavy on the calories, but super tasty)

[caption id="attachment_870" align="aligncenter" width="295"] source[/caption]

about a cup of blueberries and raspberries

a double tall soy latte from Starbucks

a handful of blueberry almond rice pops (if you haven't tried these things, you should. I got them at costco, but you can also get them at the company's website: www.180snacks.com)

[caption id="attachment_871" align="aligncenter" width="222"] source[/caption]

And now I've had a cup of mint tea, hoping it will settle my stomach a little bit. So far, not so good.I'm hoping this day takes a turn for the better or it's going to be a long stretch to 4:30.

How is your Wednesday going?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Does place equal identity?

I'm reading Under the Tuscan Sun for book  club this week, and I'll be honest with you, it's not the easiest book to get through. There are parts that just drag me through. I think it's due to the lack of dialogue..and the fact that while you see the world from the author's eyes, you don't really get a great sense for who she really is. It's hard to relate to her.

[caption id="attachment_864" align="aligncenter" width="300"] amazon.com[/caption]

In the course of reading this book, though, I've picked out a few morsels that were worth underlining and page-marking. The one I found last night is this:

"Where you are is who you are. The further inside you the place moves, the more your identity is intertwined with it. Never casual, the choice of place is the choice of something you crave."


This caption spoke to me. I've always felt like I was in the wrong place, like my life was supposed to exist in another location. I always chalked it up to dissatisfaction with my life, discontentment with myself that would transfer to another physical location with me. "Wherever you go, there you'll be," right?

But then I read this section of Under the Tuscan Sun last night, and it made me wonder whether I've been shutting up valid voices. What if I really should be considering the possibility that my life would be better, I would feel more like me if I lived in a location that I felt something for. Because let's face it. Roseville is nothing to me. It is simply a location that's far enough away from where I grew up to be tolerable and close enough to "stuff" (ie grocery stores, a mall, etc) that I feel a sense of convenience (even if not when it comes to feeding my face). It's also within driving distance of work (back up there where I grew up) and close to family. Those are about the only good things about it.

Ever since I was a kid, I've felt like I belonged somewhere else. The East Coast, specifically. Even before I'd been there, I had this sense that that was where I belonged. I'm not sure where I got it from. Maybe I watched too much television...more likely I read too many books. We didn't have power where I spent the majority of my childhood, so I was either reading books or climbing trees...or reading books up a tree. We would watch a couple of shows in the evening, as a family, using the generator that powered our necessary electronics. So it was probably more likely I got the idea from a book than from television.

[caption id="attachment_862" align="aligncenter" width="300"] One of my favorite books as a child, about a girl who flies across the country with her grandfather in a Piper Cub[/caption]

But I digress. The point is, somewhere along the line I drew up this fantasy of "living on the East Coast." And you know what? Being over there makes me immensely happy. I won't lie. My dream come true is to have all of my family and friends and Jim's family move to Connecticut. Although I'd take North Carolina too...or Rhode Island. I adore Newport! Or the Boston area. I LOOOOOVE Boston. I've spent so much time trying to learn to love myself so that I can be happy wherever I am. But is that really the answer? Would I really be just as dissatisfied if I lived somewhere I loved instead of somewhere I nothing?

[caption id="attachment_865" align="aligncenter" width="672"] Seriously, look at this house! They don't have houses like these where I live...not that I could afford the $7.7 million price tag, but still, it's there if something comes up... (source)[/caption]

Roseville is full of chain stores, chain restaurants, cookie cutter houses. It's a total suburb. It bores me. I long for a quaint downtown with little cafes and cute shops. Roseville has a downtown, but it's sorely lacking in the cafes and shops. I long for streets lined with trees that change from green to vibrant yellow, orange and then red as the year progresses toward its end. I want to feel the pride of a place, the history, the culture, the little quirks that make it unique.

[caption id="attachment_863" align="aligncenter" width="442"] Famous Bannister's Wharf in Newport, RI. Photo taken on Jim's and my trip around the country two years ago[/caption]

There isn't a single unique thing about Roseville. If you closed your eyes, someone could pluck you out of any spot in Roseville and plunk you down in any spot in any other suburb, and you'd barely know you'd moved. I feel miserable when I think of living in Roseville for the rest of my life. But I feel trapped, some of which is my own doing. I can't help that I would miss my family, Jim's family, our friends, if we were to move across the country. And even though he says he would consider it, I think Jim really wants to stay here. And why wouldn't he? He grew up in San Jose. Roseville is probably paradise in comparison.

[caption id="attachment_867" align="aligncenter" width="504"] At least you could ask the neighbors for decorating advise...they have the same house. (source)[/caption]

But there's another element to my hatred of Roseville, too. It's still far too close to where I grew up. I feel like I haven't branched out, started my own life yet. I don't want to live a reasonable distance from where I grew up. I want new experiences. I want to feel like my life is of my choosing, not someone else's. And who knows? Maybe I would choose blasé old Roseville. But how will I know that unless I try something else first?

My question to you is this: do you love where you live? And if so, do you think it has anything to do with your sense of self? If you don't, do you feel like a relocation would change that?

 

Friday, June 8, 2012

No more convenience eating for me + Tucker turns one

I remember the days, not so long ago, when I could arrive home exhausted, feeling lazy and simply order a pizza to be delivered to my door within an hour's time. Or I could call an order of sushi in at the place down the street or a burrito bowl from our favorite Mexican place and have Jim pick it up on his way home.

But the burrito bowl has corn in it. And the pizza is obviously filled with wheat flour. And some of the sauces they use on sushi have soy sauce in them, which is fermented with wheat, so questioning must be done before I eat any of it. So any convenience eating I used to do has effectively been removed from my life.

Last night Jim really wanted pizza, so we decided to pick up a frozen one for me at Whole Foods, and get him a take-n-bake from Raleys. Well, after a small meltdown in Whole Foods as a result of their being out of my favorite rice crust pizza, we did some research and learned that our local favorite pizza place, zPizza, carries a gluten-free crust. I called them up and confirmed they used to corn products in it, and placed an order (Jim got his own pizza there...with regular crust).

[caption id="attachment_852" align="aligncenter" width="571"] Yummy frozen Whole Foods rice crust pizza[/caption]

 

I was a little hesitant at first because there had been some not so lovely reviews about this gluten-free crust from this particular pizza restaurant. Much to my pleasure, the crust was quite similar to the one I had planned on getting from Whole Foods. Was it as good as the crust on Jim's pizza? No. Was it as bad as the rice crust my mom bought last week? Far from it! I'm aiming more these days for "Satisfying" rather than "blow me over delicious." I can't have the things I love anymore, so I have to satisfy my cravings with alternatives that are, well, satisfying.

[caption id="attachment_854" align="aligncenter" width="368"] The gluten free zPizza pie[/caption]

In other news, I don't remember if I mentioned it or not, but my favorite Lil Man turned one year old on Tuesday. His party is tomorrow and I'm making a zillion cupcakes as well as his personal cake tonight when I get home. I'm a little nervous, I won't lie. I'm so tired, I'm not sure how I'm going to get it all done tonight AND get my doctor recommended 30 minutes of elevated heart rate in. But I'll do my best. Maybe a nice walk after dinner will cover it. He did say walking counted....

[caption id="attachment_853" align="aligncenter" width="446"] Eating (and thoroughly enjoying) his banana...the wrong way[/caption]

Here are a few more photos for you from the first year of his life. I can't believe it went by so quickly! It's weird because the first few months went by slowly as I was waiting for my wedding day to arrive, but after that, time sure did pick up speed!




[caption id="attachment_855" align="aligncenter" width="431"] Me and Tuck at one week old. He was so tiny![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_856" align="aligncenter" width="431"] Probably still less than a month old[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_857" align="aligncenter" width="442"] Love this one. Doesn't it look like he's trying hard to fart?![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_858" align="aligncenter" width="446"] He was four months old, helping me get ready to walk down the aisle[/caption]

This little guy sure does bring a smile to my face. I'm so glad he came into my life a year ago. I can't wait to see what the next year is like and the man he eventually grows into.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Strawberry, basil and balsamic cupcakes

One of the great challenges of living with food allergies is satisfying cravings. My biggest weakness is sweets. I have to constantly have something sweet on hand or else I go completely mad trying to find something. And now that I can't have corn or wheat, my selection has narrowed immensely.

Most prepackaged sweets these days include corn syrup. Even some gluten-free ones use either that or corn starch. And what would streamline baked goods be without flour? Add to all of that my mom's allergy to sugar and we are a sad pair when it comes to satisfying a sweet tooth.

So Saturday I went about trying to find an alternative that we both could eat. I wanted to make a strawberry cupcake and upon finding not one single recipe that didn't include either a cake mix or a box of strawberry jello (gross!), I decided to wing it a little bit. I was entirely nervous about it, though. Winging baked goods is risky for me anyway because I'm always so scared I'll mess it all up and then waste all of the food involved. But winging gluten-free baking? Super scary. But it turned out pretty well, so I figured I'd share the recipe with you.

Strawberry, basil and balsamic cupcakes



Strawberry cake


(adapted from Sprinkles Cupcakes' strawberry cupcake recipe)

2/3 cup whole fresh strawberries, pureed (you can use frozen if that's all you've got, but it's summer and strawberries are aplenty!)

1 1/2 cups Bob's Redmill gluten-free all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup brown rice syrup

1 large egg, room temperature

2 large egg whites, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a small glass measuring cup (easier to pour from...but you can use a bowl), mix together milk, vanilla, and strawberry puree.In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat butter until creamy. Add brown rice syrup and continue to beat until well combined. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and slowly add egg and egg whites until just blended.With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the milk mixture; mix until just blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary, until just blended. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Transfer muffin tin to oven and bake until tops are just dry to the touch, 22 to 25 minutes. Transfer muffin tin to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool completely in tin before icing.


Balsamic whipped cream frosting


2 cups heavy whipping cream

4 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp brown rice syrup

Whip it all together in your mixer until light and fluffy. Apply to cupcakes and garnish with fresh chopped basil and chopped strawberries. (I did overbeat my frosting a little bit...it still tasted ok, but it looks a little like cottage cheese in some photos)


The response to these was varied. My mom, who can't have sugar loved them (although she, of course, wished they were sweeter). My sister-in-law, the one who adores almost everything I bake, wasn't a fan. Not sweet enough for her either. My nephew devoured hers. Friends of ours, Christie and Nic, loved them to Japan and back.



Jim and I liked them enough. They're great considering what they are. The cake is moist and pretty dense as most gluten-free stuff seems to be. There wasn't enough basil flavor really, but I'm remedying that one in the next round. I'm going to make a small batch for my mom and do the rest with sugar...a simple syrup infused with basil and a regular old buttercream frosting...with balsamic in it.


I'll let you know how it goes.