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

Take me out to the ball game!

As you’ve probably already noted, I am a huge Chicago Cubs fan. I bought my tickets and I was ready to go to the Cubs/Rockies game in Denver, all that was left was to start singing “take me out to … Continue reading

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.

Review:  Udi’s Pizza

I will admit:  since going to Chicago last year, pizza just isn’t the same.  I find myself more picky and not eating pizza a lot.  Maybe that’s not a bad thing.

This past week I sat down with my parents to go over their website, which needs an overhaul.  They brought Udi’s pizza along.  

They were cute little things, as most gluten free pizzas are.  Normal baking time, pretty easy for a quick meal.  They came out looking pretty good but…remember the Totino’s pizzas from college?  So much like that!  Part of me was excited by my throwback but I also remember buying those at 10 for $10. 


I know this pizza was not that cheap.  So here is my opinion on this item:  if you are craving a Totino’s kind of dinner, grab one of these.  If you want a higher quality then this isn’t your pizza!

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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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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Going…

There’s so much fun in traveling.  I love going to a place and seeing what that place has to offer.  I just arrived home to Grand Junction from visiting my brother and sister in law, and their kiddos, north of Seattle. 

When you are flying people ask “where are you going?”  “What is your final destination?”  On the way to Seattle I love the question.  On the way home it’s a different story.  I love visiting my family up north.  I see them about every year to year and a half, depending on how my money flow is.  And going home gets harder as the kids get older.  My niece is 4 1/2 and my nephew 2.  My niece is starting to get that auntie comes…and leaves.  It’s starting to get harder as we play harder and I find out things like my niece loves running and photography, two passions of mine.

And I sit on the Tarmac in Salt Lake City watching videos she and I made and pictures we took and the tears roll down my cheek.  I’m sure I look a little crazy:  yoga pants, ball cap and tears but going home is the hardest right now.  

Miss these two munchkins, and their parents, a lot right now…and always…

  

The Struggle is Real

I’ve been putting off writing on this topic for a while.  I mean, who wants to talk about depression, being sad and struggling?  No one.  When someone on the street, in the store, in your social group says “How are you?”  they really don’t want to know for the most part.  What would they do if you said “Actually, I’m going through a rough patch, am struggling with depression and don’t know how to pull myself out of it.”  Eyes would get huge and they would probably stumble through a “I’m sorry you’re going through that” and find the nearest exit.  And who can blame them?

At the beginning of the year, there were a lot of changes in my life.  We had major change at work that resulted in a lot of stress at work and with that came a bit of depression.  I started researching the Celiac-Depression connection at that time.  Then quit researching and from time to time have gone back to the research.  For some reason, now is the time to write about it.

Because I promised myself, and my readers, transparency I’m going to write things super honestly in this starting with the fact that I’ve struggled with depression on and off throughout most of my life.  Most people who know me, if you ask them to describe me, will say that I’m an outgoing and happy person.  Which I am most of the time but there are times, sometimes weeks where I struggle to even pretend that things are ok.  In fact, there are few friends, when I’m like that, that can pull me out of my shell where I’m hiding.

In my research I found some interesting things.  The first is that there is a strong connection between Celiac Disease and Depression.  People without Celiac do get depressed but there was a higher incidence with those with the disease.  In fact, a 1998 study showed that there was a 31% higher chance of an adolescent with Celiac having depression, compared to 7% in an adolescent without Celiac. (Carta, Hardoy, Usai, Carpinello, and Angst, 2003).  A survey of 177 women (yes, I know that’s a small pool) with Celiac showed that 37% of them met the diagnosis of depression.  (Arigo, Anskis, and Smyth, 2011).  Now that is a HUGE number!  And yes, women with Celiac are more likely than men with Celiac to be diagnosed with depression.  I am assuming that this is because more women than men have the disease.

So WHY?  Why the connection?  There are a few ideas on why.  Some say that it’s a B vitamin deficiency, that because of the malabsorption of this vitamin, there is a link to depression.  Others say that the malabsorption of tryptophan (which is needed for production of serotonin and helps with moods) is a cause.  Another reason could be that, even though you’ve gone gluten free, you are still getting “glutened” and that is a cause for depression.

I think one of the biggest reasons is the gluten free diet all together.  All of  sudden you can’t eat the things you love, when you go out you are “that person” asking for a gluten free menu and modifications to your meal.  When you go to a friend’s house you have to ask about EVERYTHING on the table or be left out or bring your own food which leads to odd conversations.  Nothing is normal anymore because all social events revolve around food.  The birthday cake in your office is off-limits and you have to explain why even a little piece could hurt you.  All of a sudden you feel like an outcast…and it’s painful sometimes.

So sometimes the easiest thing is to hole yourself up in your house and not go out because you know that you’re safe in your own kitchen.

This has been a long, emotional journey to get me to write this.  I honestly sit here writing and crying and thinking about a couple people I’ve been talking to the last couple weeks who are struggling with the isolation and my heart hurts for them.  My heart breaks all of the people who deal with this because I understand how hard it can be and I hate that we have to live like this but the struggle is real, folks.  And you’re not the only ones going through this.  Just KNOW you are not alone.

If you are struggling with depression, get help.  Find someone to talk to, have friends who can sense that something is going on and that you need someone to talk to or a shoulder to cry on.  Have people in your life that you know you can go to.  If it’s advanced, PLEASE seek medical help.  While the world is a tough one, there is SO much good in it.  Let’s find the good…

My hope and prayer in writing these blogs is to help people.  To see the good in the world despite the fact that we have to eat differently.  To become stronger despite the fact that we are different.  Together we can make a difference it the world, I believe it.

By the way, there is a lot more research out there on the Celiac-Depression connection.  I’d be happy to share it with you if you are wanting to know more.