These last few weeks

It’s been a crazy week and few days and I’m sorry I haven’t written.  I have some blog posts ready to go but these last few weeks have been something else… I love cats and most recently (April 2016) adopted … Continue reading

The Salad is Gluten Free

Today I went to a luncheon at a local restaurant.  As a group, we had checked to see if they would have gluten free items for us at lunch.  We were told (twice, by the way) that there would be a gluten free option.  When I arrived, I spoke to the owner and asked about gluten free options and the answer was “The salad is gluten free”.

Now, if I had a dime for every time I heard that, I would be pretty well off.  Lettuce is gluten free.  What a concept.  I bet next you’ll be telling me that carrots are.

The problem was that it was so non chalant, like I didn’t matter as a consumer.  I explained to him that two of our membership had inquired so that we could make sure anyone that needed to be gluten free would be taken care of.  He responded that there were gluten free menu items but only the lettuce salad would be gluten free so I asked about the dressing, which was.

My issues were as follows:  1.  If you tell a group that there will be gluten free options, please stick by that.  I realize that salad is easy but it’s not the lunch I pay for.  2.  Don’t be non chalant about it.  This is something real, not something that I choose to do, and would much rather eat like a normal person.

All in all, this isn’t the first time I’ve had a run in with this place and will try to go there as little as possible.

Social Distortion

I love the band Social Distortion.  There is always a song for each happening in life and, although this may seem like it will be a band tribute, it isn’t. I’ve had some experiences in the past few weeks that … Continue reading

Review: Mission Tortilla

There are things that I really have missed being gluten free.  Egg rolls, although Feel Good Foods make them and I can’t get them in Western Colorado.  Good bread but there is decent bread out there, just not the same as regular bread.  Burritos and the like…because there was no good tortilla.  Until Mission Tortilla.

My parents had found Mission Tortilla’s when they visited Washington, I believe.  They brought a package home for me.  They were delicious.  Then they went to Arizona and found more and brought me a package…and then a drought.  Nothing in Grand Junction and I checked every time I went to any grocery store.  Then, behold, one day they were at my local City Market.  Goodness, I was happy.  Fajitas were on the menu that night!

The thing about these tortillas is that they are like the real deal.  Soft, foldable…so tasty too.  Of course, like any gluten free item, they price point is up there but it’s worth it even though there are only six in a pack.

If you miss tortillas I would highly recommend that you try these!

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Overwhelmed

It’s been a while since I’ve written.  The last couple of months have been crazy.  I went into sales in June and I’ve been concentrating on building my book of business and have been running on all cylinders.  I’ve spent quite a few days out of town as well.  Things are going well but it’s a crazy, crazy time.

I also moved to 2nd Vice President in Lions last month which means new responsibilities and learning more there.

It’s a lot of change at one time and while I embrace change, this week things have caught up to me.

You see, there have been a lot of changes in my personal life and my friend’s lives.  I have done a little “housekeeping” when it came to friends and have decided to weed out those that have wronged me or that use me.  It’s felt good to surround myself with positive people.

While I’ve been overwhelmed with what’s going on in my life, the worst thing is when I can’t help my friends.  I know that when things are crazy in my life I have a good cry and the weight is lifted.  But when I see my friends hurting, it overwhelms me in a different way.  There aren’t enough words or hugs or cards that can make things better.  Only time.  But all I want to do is fix things, make them right again and make sure everyone is happy.

The reality is that not all times are happy.  In fact, Ecclesiastes 3 says:

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

We take the good with the bad, we laugh and cry…and in these times of being overwhelmed I pray.

Taking Time

There are times in life when we are forced to slow down.  This was one of those weeks.

Monday I woke up, didn’t feel great and took my temp:  102.  I called in sick to work, a friend recommended that I go to the doc and by the time I got to the doctor, my temp was over 103.  The flu.  Whee!

So I was down and out for three full days.  My temp would go down during the day and then I’d wake up with a temp, Wednesday was the worst with 104.  Thursday my temp was gone when I woke up, I was on the mend.

I went to work on Friday and lasted half a day.  My body is spent from fighting this thing.  It was such a nice afternoon on Friday that I got a chair outside in my backyard and sat in the sun, breathing in fresh air.  I just sat.  I listened.  I closed my eyes and soaked the sun in.  I was forced to take time. My body was forcing me to slow down, take a breather and remember that I’m not invincible and that taking it slow isn’t a bad thing.

You see, we are always in such a hurry, always scurrying from one place to another, one thing to another, filling every minute of our day.  Because if we aren’t filling it, what are we missing?  Did I forget something?  That’s always my fear.  And it shouldn’t be something feared, it should be something that makes us happy, to have time.

Time to stop, wash some windows, trim a shrub and then sit and watch the world go by.

Getting Glutened

For those of you who aren’t Celiac, gluten intolerant or have a wheat allergy, you are probably saying “what is glutened”?

It’s a term that means that we were, essentially, poisoned.  We accidently ingested something with gluten and have exited the building.  If you are anything like me, it leaves you curled up in a ball with pain like someone has taken your intestines and just yanked on them.  A lot.  Hard.  You can’t stand up straight and it’s PAINFUL.

I hadn’t been glutened, at least to this degree, for a long time but it happened on New Year’s Eve.  Yup, way to bring in the new year.  Glutened.  Anyway, before I went to the party where I was to spend the rest of the evening, I stopped to have a beer with two of my friends:  Don and Craig.

Now, I hang out with those two guys a lot.  We talk politics, sports and anything else.  So, when I walked in, Craig orders himself a Bud Light and me an Angry Orchard.  Gotta love friends who know what you drink!  The server brings the beer and typically I take a sniff because Angry Orchard has a sweet smell to it.  This was the one time I didn’t do that.  I was deep in conversation or distracted  or something but all I know is that I took a sip.  ONE sip.  It wasn’t Angry Orchard.  It was Bud Light.

Two thoughts ran through my head:  1.  Oh crap.  2.  How did I used to drink this stuff?

I put the beer down, said “This is NOT Angry Orchard”.  Craig got a hold of the server, told her that it wasn’t the drink I ordered and she brought me my correct drink.  Don recognized that it was an issue and I was grateful for an opportunity to tell him what happens when I’m glutened.  I should have spoken to the server and/or manager but it was so busy and…I missed an opportunity.  An opportunity to educate, to help someone realize that it wasn’t just a simple mistake.

I got sick.  It was more gradual than it had been in the past.  Usually it takes about 15 minutes to an hour and then, BAM!, you won’t see me for a while.  This time it took a few hours, I kept getting more and more bloated and ended up going home late that night.  I slept all night but the next day I just sat on the couch.  I was tired, lethargic and didn’t want to do anything.

I guess the moral of the story is that when things like this happen, when I KNOW that a mistake has been made, to educate.  To use the opportunity.

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Memories of Grandpa

Five years ago we lost a great man:  my grandpa.  I wrote this the evening that we found out he passed away and  I found it appropriate to post it here as I have been thinking about him a lot lately:

Memories of Grandpa

The last week has been one of remembering, little things will happen and trigger a thought, beautiful memory.

 

 

I was remembering how, as a child, there was always a hot cocoa jar.  I don’t know where they got the hot cocoa but on cold winter days we would always have some after playing in the snow.  It was “different” hot cocoa, probably because it was at Grandpa and Grandma’s.  It was always there and Grandpa was always willing to make it for us.

 

Fishing.  It was what Grandpa did all summer and when we would visit, we would go fish.  I remember learning how to put a bobber on the line, how to put a minnow on (he used mostly minnows) and then catching the fish:  sunfish, blue gills and crappies.  It was SO exciting catching those little fish and we would always take them along.  I’m sure they were too small for anything but Grandpa made sure we took them along, no matter what.

 

Grandpa always had heart issues and had lots of surgeries:  open hearts, bypasses, etc.  I remember a specific time we were up there visiting after one of his surgery’s.  We went for a walk and it was so special, just me and Grandpa.  I don’t remember what we talked about or how far we went but it was a special time for me.  Those one on one moments with him.

 

And Grandpa LOVED his garden.  Not just the veggies he grew but especially the flowers.  He made his own flower boxes to set in the front yard, always had a little flower bed around the birdbath and had other flowers everywhere in the yard.  He took time picking the flowers: petunias, marigold, zinnias, etc. and made sure that they were colorful.  He would spend so much time in the garden weeding it and making the plants grow to their best.  Grandpa was always a farmer at heart and carried his love for growing into his garden in town.  He also did a lot of woodworking, making vases, flower boxes and toy animals.  I remember helping him by painting some of the things he made.  We would spend time in the basement painting and cutting things out of wood.

 

The one thing that was always close to his heart was his love of this country.  Grandpa fought in WWII, one of the brave Army souls that marched across Europe and lived in foxholes.  I always knew that Grandpa had been in the Army and served in the war because he went to a lot of Army reunions and kept in touch with his Army buddies but it wasn’t until I was in college that I really knew what Grandpa had done.  That’s when I learned that Grandpa had seen some horrible things in Europe.  He helped liberate both Dachau and Auschwitz and had seen what the Nazi army had done to the Jews.  He lived with the horrors he had seen and didn’t talk about them for decades.  He told us stories of friends dying for their country, of nearly freezing their feet and hands off and then telling stories about the people he met along the way, like the German family who took him in for a Christmas.  He still kept in touch with that family, all these years later.  Grandpa was a proud Army soldier and was a part of the Turtle Lake Legion from the time he returned from war until his dying day.  What he did for our country was of utmost importance to him and I’m proud of his dedication.

 

And Grandpa loved his family.  He loved his kids, his grandkids and the time he got to spend with them.  He loved visiting his kids that were spread throughout the US, seeing the different areas.  Time he could spend telling stories, playing games or just being with them were cherished by him…and by me.  I was just telling Dad that Grandpa was down here six years ago for Christmas, it was the Christmas before I moved.  I remember taking the trip to Gateway and his amazement at the geography and then his disappointment of the little town of Gateway (this was before Gateway Canyons was built).  I remember him telling stories, stories I had probably heard a million times before…but I listened.  Each word was important, because it was Grandpa.

 

And now he is gone.  He has no more pain, will no longer have a weak heart and has his final wish of being with Grandma, who was the love of his life.  We are happy because he no longer has pain but mourn because he is no longer with us.  I miss you Grandpa and love you…

 

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Recipe: Chocolate Whiskey Bundt Cake

When it comes to holidays, we don’t do much tradition for meals.  Yes, for Thanksgiving we have turkey and stuffing but then it kind of varies.  For Christmas we don’t do ham or turkey (or rarely do turkey), we do things like shrimp scampi or steak or something like that.  For Christmas Eve this year we ordered in pizza from Chicago’s Pizza in, where else, Chicago.  I can’t even tell you how excited I am about that!

So when it comes to dessert, I usually take it on.  I LOVE baking and for a holiday is no different.  I want to do something that is unusual, last year for Thanksgiving I did tiramisu.  This year I found a recipe that will remain close to my heart:  Chocolate Whiskey Bundt Cake.  Anytime you have whiskey in the title, you have my attention.  The only issue was that this wasn’t a gluten free recipe and, if you have tried converting recipes in the past, sometimes you have luck and sometimes you just throw it away.  This one turned out SO good!  I have to share and, maybe for Christmas, this will be your dessert.  Also, I found this recipe at www.loveandoil.com, I want to give credit where it’s due!

Chocolate Whiskey Bundt Cake with Whiskey Caramel Sauce

Yield: 12 servings

Total Time: 2 hours

Ingredients:

For Cake:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups gluten free flour
  • 3/4 cup dark or dutch-processed cocoa powder, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup whole buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup decent quality Tennessee whiskey or bourbon (I used Pendleton)

For Caramel:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • pinch cream of tartar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream (I ended up using light cream, that’s what I get for shopping the night before Thanksgiving)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons whiskey or bourbon
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Generously butter a standard (12-cup) bundt pan. Dust with 1 tablespoon each flour and cocoa powder, and tap and turn until pan is completely coated. Dump out excess.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, whisking until thoroughly combined. Add eggs, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla and mix with an electric mixer on medium-low speed until dry ingredients are almost incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add warm water and whiskey and mix until just combined and no dry ingredients remain (do not overmix). Pour into prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the deepest part of the pan comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack until cool enough to handle, then gently invert onto a wire rack. Allow to cool completely.
  4. To prepare caramel, place sugar and cream of tartar in a medium, high-sided saucepan set over medium-high heat. Pour water around edges. Bring to a boil, then cover and cook for 2 minutes (the steam buildup will help dissolve any stray sugar crystals on the sides). Remove cover and continue to boil, without stirring, until sugar caramelizes to a light amber color, about 5 to 7 minutes. Watch it carefully, as it can go from golden brown to burnt in no time if left unattended.
  5. Remove from heat and quickly whisk in cream and butter (mixture bubbles a lot, this is normal), then return to low heat and whisk until completely smooth. It may seem like it is seizing, but keep whisking and most of the hard caramel chunks should dissolve.  I had a few left and strained them out. Remove from heat and let cool for about 2 minutes, then stir in whiskey. Transfer to a heat-proof container and let cool to room temperature, about 1 hour, or until thickened yet still pourable.
  6. Pour about half of the caramel over the top of cake, letting it drip down the edges and pool at the base. Slice and serve and drizzle with additional caramel as desired. Cake will keep, stored in an airtight container, for up to 5 days.

Chocolate Whiskey Bundt Cake
For a gluten free cake, this kept SO well.  I’m talking that it was still moist after four days, which is unusual.  This is a recipe I WILL make again…and why not?  It’s amazing!

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I took a trip to Seattle…

Yes, the great Northwest.  If Chicago is for foodies, then the state of Washington is for those of you who like your food and adult beverages.  My brother is a graphic designer and owns his own business, Fresh Bread Design.  He works almost exclusively with distilleries and breweries in the area north of Seattle as well as some in Seattle.  So I had the inside track on what was amazing to sip on while in Washington.  And it was a fun time!

I love flying into Sea-Tac on a clear day, the views are amazing!  I arrived at a good time in the morning and my dad and brother, Scott, picked me up just in time for lunch.  Since we had plans on going to Ghostfish Brewing Company when they opened at 3pm, we had time to kill.  Scott found a little fish and chips place that had a dedicated fryer for gluten free foods.  I loved the fact that he did research ahead of time, read reviews and planned this for us.  It meant so much!

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The fish and chips place that we went to was called Emerald City Fish and Chips.  It may not be the biggest place to eat but it packed a punch!  It turns out that they only batter their items in a Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free batter so the only things that aren’t gluten-free are their sandwiches.  It was awesome getting a great meal and knowing it was totally safe!

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We then headed downtown-ish Seattle.  We parked close to Ghostfish Brewing but Scott wanted to take us to Letterpress Distilling.  It was a gorgeous, sunny fall day so we walked there.  Letterpress is right around the corner from SafeCo Field, home of the Mariners and they currently make vodka and Limoncello.  Their vodka is super smooth with a hint of vanilla at the end, very enjoyable.  The Limoncello was smooth as well and lemon-y but not overpowering.  More like a lemon drop without too much sweetness.  We also got a tour of the facility which was really cool!

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Ghostfish was a place I was DYING to go to.  They brew only gluten-free beers and it was awesome to get to go to a brewery and drink a beer!  Since I’d never been there, I had a flight and my brother and dad shared a flight with other flavors.  I’d never had a saison before and fell in love with the light flavor with a hint of flowers.  Just a beautiful blend!  The other flavor, much to my surprise, that I loved, was the stout.  I’d never been too much of a stout fan, it’s usually got too much of a coffee flavor for me, but this one is less coffee and more chocolate.  Wow!  Talk about a beer you can sip and savor!  Needless to say, we took some beer home with us.

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A couple of days later we ventured to Anacortes.  If you have never been there, go visit.  It’s a beautiful sea town with a marina and fresh sea air.

IMG_4746 IMG_4745 IMG_4747We ate breakfast at the Calico Cupboard.  They have many gluten-free items including thick, fluffy pancakes for breakfast and carrot cake (my favorite!) and cookies to take home.  I didn’t get a picture of the carrot cake the next day but it made for a great breakfast!  IMG_4744On the way home, we stopped at a store and picked up a bottle of Ground Breaker Dark Ale.  This was also a great beer with a full flavor.  Not as deep as a stout, obviously, but had a great finish to it.  IMG_4791

That Saturday was our “Tour day”.  Scott took mom, dad and I out to see a couple more of his clients.  Our first stop was Temple Distilling.  Temple, for the time being, makes gin.  Disclaimer:  I’m not a gin drinker.  I always think that someone put Lysol in my drink.  Not Temple’s London Dry gin.  Super smooth, no bite, it might make me a gin drinker.  Put it into a gin and tonic and…wow.  So good.  You have to try it to believe it, really.  They also just released a Navy Gin which is a bit more potent.  (I’m also a photographer and the next day Scott and I did some publicity photos for Temple, they turned out so good!  Sorry, a little self promotion).

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After Temple we headed to Elemental Hard Cider.  Elemental does all gluten-free hard ciders and MANY flavors.  They also have lunch which is all gluten-free sandwiches. Whoa…lunch and cider and it’s all gluten-free?  I’m in heaven!  I decided to go with the classic grilled cheese and it was amazing.  But the ciders…oh, the ciders!  From a classic dry apple to cherry to spiced apple to spiced pumpkin to acai…these are just a few flavors.  And they just introduced a root beer, not for the kiddos to try!  All of them are so good but the acai was bottled and I took one home with me.  The root beer was to be bottled a few days after I left so I may have some mailed to me.  It really was hard to pick a fav but I loved the spiced apple or the spiced pumpkin.  Two distinct flavors and perfect for fall!

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It was an amazing trip and I had a great time visiting family too, it wasn’t all about the beverages.  My family is super important to me and I got to surprise my 4 1/2-year-old niece and my 2-year-old nephew.  Spending time chasing them around was so precious to me.  Seeing my brother and sister-in-law and having time to hear about their future was amazing as well.  It’s so hard being so far away…but the memories of this time helps get through to the next time.

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