Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Gluten Free & Dairy Free

So I finally went to a functional doctor last week.  After 9 + years with two autoimmune diseases it was time to have someone take a second look at what would help me feel better.  I don't feel terrible but I think I've just gotten used to not feeling great.  While meeting with Dr. Chen he asked general questions about how I feel after I eat certain foods, how I sleep, skin conditions, etc.  At the end of 45 minutes he said well I know you should give up two foods at the very least.  Gluten because anyone with Hashimotos Thyroiditis should at some point avoid gluten and see if they feel better.  And Dairy because as I described to him I've had multiple incidents of not feeling well after eating dairy.  It got to the point where I'd feel nauseous thinking about Starbucks.  I always got lattes at Starbucks.

So of course I started right away.  After one last night of a gluten and dairy full meal, because we'd already made dinner plans.  Pizza!  Yum!  Best meal I ever had, knowing I might not get to eat it again, in all it's gluteny cheesy goodness!  I did so well too.  Eggs for breakfast, kind bar for lunch, fruit, meats, veggies.  We even went out to sushi with neighbors on Sunday night and I asked for gluten free soy sauce and red wine, not beer.  But then I came home and saw my kids delicious homemade chocolate chip cookies and before I even thought gluten or dairy I had devoured one (it was the wine I swear!)  The moment of realization did not come until I reached for cookie #2.  And then I gasped and held my hand to my mouth.  Two whole days of gluten and dairy free eating wasted on one single cookie!  My girls said "We wondered if those were gluten free but figured they were since you ate one!"

Monday I started all over with day #1 again.  Except that night I decided to make one of my favorite soups without the flour or the cream.   Minnesota Wild Rice Soup.  So good!  I had it Monday night and Tuesday for lunch.  Then on Tuesday afternoon I was reading up on Gluten free eating.  My doctor hadn't really given me any information about it and then I read that bullion and broths often include gluten.  What?!  Ugh!  Of course the bullion I used did not say gluten free.  Here's the soup recipe in all it's goodness!  I swear it's best on day two and beyond.  A delicious soup to make on a Sunday and enjoy all week.  Also works well at a party.  A definite crowd pleaser!
Minnesota Wild Rice Soup
(The Culinary Institute Of America Book Of Soups)
2 Tablespoons butter
3 carrots, finely diced (about 1 cup)
2 leeks, (white and light green part) finely diced. (about 2 1/2 cups)
2 stalks celery, finely diced (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 quarts chicken broth
3/4 cup wild rice
1/2 teaspoon salt--or to your taste
3/4 cup hot cream  ( I used 1/4 cup, plus 2/4 cup 1% milk)
3 Tablespoons dry sherry
1/4 cup minced chives
3 Tablespoons parsley
Heat butter in a heavy soup pot over medium heat.  Add the carrots, leeks, and celery and cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally  Reduce the heat to low and add the flour. Cook this for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
Add the stock to the flour and vegitable mixture, slowly, whisking to avoid lumps.  Bring the soup to a simmer. then add the wild rice and salt.  Simmer for 45 minutes until the rice is tender, but still a little chewy.
Add the heated cream, sherry, and chives.  Season with salt, if necessary.  Serve in bowls garnished with parsley.
Wednesday I started with day #1, again!  I've been gluten and dairy free ever since.  I've tried soy creamer in my coffee.  Not my favorite and people with hashimotos are supposed to avoid too much soy.  I then tried coconut milk when I couldn't find coconut creamer.  Just ok. My friend mentioned SO coconut creamer was best.    Who would think it could be that hard to find coconut creamer.  I checked Star, Roche Brothers, Target and finally I found coconut creamer at Trader Joe's.   I bought two in case I didn't stumble across it anytime soon.  It is good.  It almost makes me forget that I can't have the creamy goodness of half n half in my coffee.

I used to put cheese in my eggs to add extra protein.  No mas.  Gluten is in everything.  Dressings, condiments, sauces, etc.  So far my food has been a bit bland.  But I am surviving.  And I feel better.  Although my stomach now feels more sensitive to onions and other things.  Maybe because it was used to feeling bothered all the time.  We've gone out for sushi twice in one week.  Not as good without all the sauces but still quite delicious!  Salmon, Steak, Gluten free pasta.  We went to Yard House for dinner and I ordered off the gluten free menu where Hamburgers come wrapped with lettuce rather than a bun.  Apparently the truffle fries included butter so were not dairy free.  It was a pitiful gluten free menu because half of it described what you couldn't have compared to what others could have.  But that burger was so good, even wrapped in lettuce!  Potatoes.  Thank god for potatoes to give me that starchy full feeling.  I told Rod tonight that if the food intolerance test comes back positive for eggs and potatoes, I just might cry.

Today my 4th grader came home from school and disappeared up in her room for a while.  She came down with a present all wrapped up and handed it to me.  I said "Oh honey why don't you wait for Christmas?  It's just around the corner. " And she answered "No, you need this now!"  I opened it and almost cried.  Especially when she told me she bought it with $18 of her own money.  So sweet.  She was so excited to have seen something I needed at the school book fair and bought it with her own money.  Love this girl!  So thoughtful!

I read it tonight and the food looks delicious.  Of course I have a list of about 20 gluten free staples that I need to buy if I want to make some of the recipes.  I'd like to try some of the easier recipes that don't include the specialty items to start before I invest in a gluten free pantry.     Looking forward to expanding my meal repertoire!  There is also a store in the town next door called Twist.  Everything in there is gluten free and the majority of items are also dairy free.  Perfect place to go because you're not looking at a display thinking about all the things you can't have.  We've tried a few things from pumpkin ginger scones and whoopee pies to a turkey sandwich.  Our friends say the meatloaf cupcakes with mashed potato "frosting" are delicious!  Nice to have a go to place nearby.

In the meantime I'm making do.  Mostly meat, fish and vegetables with a little gluten free pasta, brown rice or quinoi thrown in.  I've lost 5 pounds in a week.  My joints feel less swollen and I haven't had any tendon pain.  Perhaps this is the answer.  We shall see.  Still waiting on the test results.  I'm hoping to have them before we head to NY for Thanksgiving.  I know we won't be having Turkey while we're watching our oldest dance in the Macy's day parade but I was at least hoping for a slice of NY pizza pie.  Don't worry.  I'll pack Kind bars in my purse, just in case.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


We went up to the cottage last weekend for Rod's birthday and to do a little winterizing.  We also  brought very little with us in terms of supplies.  We were only there for one day.  We brought cream for our coffee and stopped along the way for a quick lunch in the car, picked up pastries for breakfast the next day and went out to dinner that night.  We only really needed pjs and a change of underwear and socks.  Oh and dog food.  But we forgot that.  That's how light we were packing.  We forgot food for our dogs! We went to a good little Mexican restaurant in Claremont called Revolution Cantina.  It was fun because it was the day after Halloween and also Day of the Dead so the restaurant was all decorated for the occasion and the waitstaff were all wearing day of the dead masks.  The food was great but the margaritas were just ok.  I was starting to get sick, so maybe that's why.  I went to bed at 8:00 and Rod stayed up with his girls watching Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure.

Someone was tired from Halloween the night before!
Yes my selfie camera lens needs to be cleaned!  
Back at the cottage we had a few things to do to winterize the place.  We had to check on the spray foam insulation that was added to the underside of the house, see how the heaters that were just installed were working, and add an alarm that will call us if the house gets too cold.  We also put away the boats, although we left out the canoes if someone is feeling brave and wants to go for a paddle on a warm November day.  The paddles, oars, outdoor furniture and hammock are all tucked away safely for the winter.   We put the hammock in the house near the washer and dryer.  We've had mice eat our hammock before at home when it was stored in the garage during our kitchen renovation and we didn't want this hammock to suffer the same fate.

Hopefully this new spray foam insulation will keep our house
and pipes toasty warm this winter!

System is set up to call us if the temperature drops below
45 degrees or if the power goes out. 
Of course my idea of winterizing involves greens and decorations.  I wanted to get greens in the window boxes before the soil freezes.  I don't really want to go crazy in terms of decorating for the holidays at the cottage since we aren't going to be there for Thanksgiving or Christmas but will be back and forth during the season.  We also don't have a lot of storage up there for a lot of extras so I want the changes to be minimal but also to reflect the seasons.  I want the house to feel cozy and wintery.  Ready for cold or snowy days at the lake.

The girls helped collect berries and greens and handed them
to me up on the ladder doing the front window boxes. 

Next time we have to get rid of those leaves.
It rained and snowed a bit while we were there so they were too wet to blow or mow.  
We also made some quick little changes inside on the mantel.  Rod has always had a thing for deer decorations.  So we bought this guy for NH while shopping on Friday for Rod's birthday at Marshalls.  We saw two real deer on the side of the road on the way home from dinner.   The girls were thrilled.  Lindsay said it was the first time she'd seen them in the wild.  Last time we were up we saw a porcupine on the way home from dinner.  Apparently that is the time of night for animal sightings.  She did have her camera aimed out the window the day before hoping for a moose sighting.  Maybe one of these days we'll see one!

Of course those turquoise, green and red felted mittens had to come to the cottage too.  
Rod bought me these antlers for christmas last year.  He was at an antique store picking up a vanity I had been admiring online to surprise me for Christmas!  (Aw shucks!  I love it!)  And he happened to spot these antlers and thought it was just what I wanted for a pinterest project.  (I had a silver deer or antler set in mind for christmas decorating).  Needless to say the girls and I were grossed out and these real antlers were relegated to the garage.    Haley recently said they creep her out in the garage, plus she needed space for her dad's Bruins wall she made him for his bday, so they came to NH.  I actually kind of like them here.  Maybe just for the winter months.  I also think they will look much cuter adorned with a plaid scarf or perhaps will work well as a scarf & mitten hanger.  And I'm not convinced some paint won't be involved in their final look at some point.  

These snow shoes came with the house and I replaced the
ski NH pictures they had here with ones that were more our style.
They are always there year round but maybe I'll have to find
something summery to switch them out for.   Off to pinterest to start looking! 

We also added some more blankets around the house.  Including this wool MacLeod plaid one from my mom.  Anything to keep us cozy till the house warms up.  Outside we added twinkle lights to the bushes at the waters edge and I want to add some to the dock too.  I think it will look so cozy to look out there on winter nights and see them twinkling through the snow.  

Indoors I've been wanting to add a shelf in the kitchen above the artwork so we made one for the time being from an old in our basement at home.  We added a few decorations to make it colorful and cottagey.  It was just what that corner needed.  To tie in with the white cabinets and to finish out the space.  We also got some stacking stools too to add more seating in the kitchen for when we have a crowd for supper or for when we want to sit while preparing dinner or are just hanging in the kitchen chatting with the chef.  

Upstairs I added some Annie's chalk paint to this wood mirror we had found in the barn.  Painted it while it hung right there on the wall.  Two coats and done.  A quick ten minute fix.  It makes it stand out on the wood wall and I like the cottage look.   And I had the paint out anyway to touch up the wood plugs on the headboard we had made and been meaning to finish.  Love chalk paint and the ease of usability!  

Funny that my idea of winterizing and Rod's idea of winterizing are two completely different things.  A fun getaway weekend to celebrate a great guy.  A little relaxing, some work, a few projects, a bunch of games of Sorry, and a gorgeous sunset on the drive home to top it all off!  Happy Birthday Hon!  

All Hallows Eve

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays.  All the fun and none of the stress!  We have a few annual traditions that we love to partake in every year besides decorating and spooking out our house.  One is to go to the party store to pick out our costumes.  The girls usually have something in mind already or a theme they are doing to go along with their friends but it is fun to find different masks to try on and personas to play.  The girls have always been my butterfly, ladybug and bumblebee so I couldn't resist this photo op!  Nice contrast to the picture below when they were so little!!

Based on the bat incident at the cottage we already had a bat themed family costume idea going for an annual Halloween Party we go to.  So that night we picked out all our props and supplies.  The girls also got some small things to make their Halloween night costumes work.  We save all our costumes in bins in the attic from year to year so we have a lot of old props and costumes to choose from when we need any extras.  
Bat mask, bat man shirt with PJ pants and black "batwing" bow (hard to see in pix),
Rabies (bat in hair, caution tape belt, various shots sticking out of neck and wounds on legs, batman and batgirl.

Her neighbors always do a his & hers theme. 
Her fight club buddies in all their Halloween finest. 
Our walking buddies.  I imagine we'd scare a few
people if we walked through the woods dressed like this. 
We also partake in some other Holiday traditions throughout the month of October.  From events with friends to pumpkin carving and the Pumpkin Walk.

A trip to Witches Woods with K and her friends. 

We always go to the graveyard with friends to do
gravestone rubbings the week before Halloween.  

Our own queen of Halloween!
We overdue it with shirts, headbands and halloween dress leading up to the big day.  
Carving pumpkins is always a big deal.  This year we had to squeeze it in early before the Pumpkin Walk at Choate Park.  The girls came late after dad's work party.  It was a great night!  Gorgeous weather, lots of pumpkins, 6 fires in the pond, beautiful stars, and a huge crowd.
What happened to my little girls?  Stop growing up
so quickly!!!

It all culminates with Halloween Night.  Trick or Treating with friends.  Beers with neighbors.  And of course candy.  Lots and lots of candy!   This was the first year none of the girls trick-or-treated in our neighborhood.  Sadness.  They were all off elsewhere with friends.  My one stipulation was they had to get dressed before they left so I could get a photo of them all together.  This will probably be K's last year trick-or-treating!  

Bat Girl, Captain America and a Robber

Lots of masks. 
Super Girls in tutus!