Monday, July 28, 2008

Dairy free and soy free now

Oy! It has come to my attention that I now need to be dairy free and soy free, thank you celiac disease, not! So, I'm a big girl and can take this and Susan has to be dairy free anyways so why not do it with her right? So let the the search and experiments begin. I am now in search of a dairy free, soy free, gluten free maragrine and mayonaise and possibly cheese and even though I have zero energy thanks to the constant pain from the arthritis I am not opposed to making some thing myself. I tell you, I am in serious need of a grocery overhaul and by that I mean my grocery bill is WAY too high every week and I need to trim the fat. So, it is time to make a list of staples for my cupboard and do a pantry challenge to clear out stuff we no longer can eat (Dan will finish those up for us) and list what I will always order from Amazon (my beloved Better Batter flour and Pamelas bread mix) and find where to trim fat. I also need to make a list of foods we always eat so I have a master list of dinners to choose from. Boy, talk about work! Good thing I can't do much moving right now. It will give me some thing to do.

Speaking of not moving, lately the arthritis has been bad and I've been having to take the Vicodin a lot more than I like. A little more than a week until my first RA appointment so that is good.

I have been a little down lately due to my not being able to move much and I really miss sewing so I am now working, very slowly, at cleaning out my sewing room closet for easy access to my fabrics and tools and cleaning off the piles on my sewing desk. I plan on sewing for little bits at a time when I can and hopefully the RA doc will put me on a nice anti-inflammatory that will work and that I am not allergic to. I also will get my cross stitching together and place it next to my chair for picking up to work on while sitting here listening to the t.v. Maybe I can get some ornaments done for a few gifts this year and for my tree. I do have some wall hangings I really want to finish and a quilt for Susan I want to make for a Christmas gift and another quilt in progress that needs finishing. I'm not sure on the size of that one, either it will be a throw or queen sized. And Susan's will fit her new full sized bed. Oh, I am itching to sew just talking about it.

Tonight Dan took a day off so we can go to the drive in and see Step Brothers and Hancock. This is the first time we've gone to the drive in since I was diagnosed with the celiac disease and in the past we've always stopped and bought pizza on the way and had our dinner there so I really wanted to keep that tradition going and have decided to make a new chicken nugget recipe that I got from some one on the fabulous yahoo sillyaks group and some fries to take with us. It will be like we stopped at McDonalds hopefully. I'll review and post pics of the nuggets in the next few days after I make them. The recipe has tons of potential though so I know we will like it. And speaking of movies we saw the Dark Knight the other day and what a great movie that was. I love the Batman movies but never thought anyone lived up to Michael Keatons version of Batman but this one was awesome and Heath Ledger as the Joker was fantastic. What a shame he passed so young and before he could see how much everyone loved it.

So, to end this long post I will mention the cute and adorable and challenging kittens we have here. My kitty Rosie had them and let me tell you it was a shock when she started fattening out. She is so scared of everything I never thought she would let another cat near her and the very few times she would go out she stayed under the front porch. Turns out our outside cat Meanie was not doing his job and another cat was living under the porch. Yikes LOL! So now the kittens are 11 weeks old tomorrow and love to climb on tables and such so they were introduced to the squirt bottle the other day. Boy they do learn fast don't they. She had 3 kittens. 2 healthy and 1 born with an obvious problem with his leg. He could not use it at all and it stayed up against his body so I was skeptical he would make it. Well Rosie gave him the same attention as the others and he could get to the food so I just waited to see if he would be able to get into the litter box when that time came and low and behold he could. So he was a little slower than the other 2 but now he is fast and strong and can jump on everything just like the other 2 and he just limps around not using that leg for anything but support. He could not extend the paw forward or control the 2 claws he has on the paw. Did I forget to mention when he was born either Rosie chewed half of two of his paws off or he was born that way? They were bleeding so I'm leaning towards she did that for some reason. Well, last night I was watching him and shocker of all shockers he is using that paw like a normal paw while walking, extending it forward. He still isn't putting weight on it and limps around but this is progress! I am now hopeful that he will be able to use it eventually even just a little. What a nice suprise and my mom will be really suprised as she is taking him. So just because I like a blog with pics in every posts here are some pics of the adorable kittens. The first ones were taken about a month ago and the third one of them nursing was taken about a week ago. I took it just because I thought it was funny that they still nurse every once in awhile for comfort. Rosie has weaned them for the most part but they still nurse every once in a great while.

Okay, so this is Chip and Mini. Chip is the tabby and Mini is the grey. Susan named them and we are not sure of the name Mini but that is what it is right now.

This is Gimpy.

And this is Chip and Mini nursing about a week ago. They love their mama and they still sleep with her in the afternoon and at night.
It's cute.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Birthday time

This past weekend Susan turned 15. Unbelieveable that she is ready for drivers ed and going into highschool as a Sophmore this year. Time flies. For her party with her friends I made a gluten free icecream cake. I got the instructions from some one on the Yahoo group sillyaks. I used a chocolate cake called the garbanzo bean cake for the cake part. From the name I'm sure you can guess what it's made from. Personally, while the icecream cake was good I did not like the garbanzo bean cake when I tasted it. I could taste the beans very easily. I will make the ice cream cake again but next time I will make it using the Namaste brownie mix like was originally suggested to me. The cake turned out good and we were pretty happy with it.

The second day was a party for the family. We grilled food and Susan requested a swedish nut cake.

A nice pic of the birthday girl.

Lately it has been hot and humid out and my joints have been so painful! I actually never knew how much the weather affected my joints until we were in Las Vegas. In Las Vegas I had some pain when waking and first getting moving but I did not have to take any pain meds or have near the joint pain I have here. It's amazing. Just a few more weeks til I see he RA doc. I probably have my hopes up just to get disappointed but I hope not.

I haven't been working on my hobbies lately but I did take some time lastnight to get ready to do a painting so I will start on that today. I enjoyed the prep of it. I'm really wanting to get my sewing desk cleared off to and the closet in there so I would like to start that and do a little bit at a time. I have some reorganizing to do in the closet, it is a mess and stuffed full so it's time to reorganize it. I will try to remember to snap before and after pics.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Yummy gluten free pizza!

I made this pizza the other day trying out my new Better Batter gluten free flour. It's the first time I've ever used it and ordered it due to the fact it has no dairy in it so my daughter can eat baked goods without taking a pill to digest the lactose. It is fantastic stuff. I've tried many flours since going gluten free and this is the best. I had excess dough after shaping 2 pizzas so I made some bread sticks and small crusts to freeze for whenever the mood strikes me for a small pizza. I did the first bake and then cooled them and froze them and to make them I top it while frozen and bake for 15 mins in the toaster oven. Here's a pic of the large pizza I made before it's second bake and the small ones I've been making in my toaster oven.

I also made bread sticks using some of the excess batter and those were just delicious. They were crunchy on the bottom and chewy on the rest on the outside and nice and soft in the center, and I'm talking a softness that rivaled when I used to make gluten filled bread sticks, yum! We had them with a gluten free nacho cheese sauce. Talk about delicious! Here's a pic of the sticks.

I love that you can use this in your old recipes cup for cup. I will be making my daughters birthday cake this week with it and will share pics again and my experience. I have no doubt I will be just as pleased.

And since I'm sharing food pics here are some delicious potato skins I made the other day. I used some nacho cheese and turkey bacon and shredded cheese. They were awesome. I really liked this turkey bacon too. I'm not sure how much more healthy it is since it's made from turkey thighs but it sure was tasty.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Vegas-Day 6 Thursday

The final day and day I was not looking forward to. Not only was I sick but check out was by 11 am and our fight wasn't until 11:45 pm so many hours to fill and an over night flight. It wasn't too bad though. We drove the car to the other end of the strip and checked out New York New York, the Excalibur, the Luxor and MGM. MGM was first and did not disappoint. Their lion habitat alone was worth the trip to see. They had a tunnel made from Plexiglas and the lions would lay on top. It was really cool.

The inside of the Excalibur and New York New York were kind of disappointing. The guide book said there were things going on like jugglers but nope, nothing of the sort was going on, just a lot of casino floor and shops.

And this picture I just thought was a hoot.

Now here I wanted to discuss New York New York a bit more because we had lunch there. It was a restaurant called America and had food from all over the U.S. I asked if they could accommodate a gluten allergy (I find it's just easier to say allergy than celiac disease) and they said "no problem". The chef came out and sat with us and asked what I would like from the menu and then told me how he could change it. It was great. He told us all their fryers were dedicated. One for chicken, one for fish, one for potatoes, etc. I asked how he filtered the oil and if it was all filtered together and put back. To me this makes a possibly gluten free fryer unsafe and he stopped mid sentence and said "huh, I never thought about that" so I'm guessing he will look into it and decide for himself weather that makes it unsafe or not. Everyone seems to have different opinions on this topic. Of course mine is that it contaminates all of the oil so I will not risk it. Anyways I had the pot roast dinner and he made the necessary changes and it was delicious and no sickness. He also sent out one of his chefs to make sure everything was okay. I would highly recommend this place to any celiac.

After that we checked out the Luxor. They had a very interesting display from Chris Angel who is doing a how there soon. Here is one of his motorcycles.

After that we went to the movies jut so we could sit for awhile.

A few hours before we had to be at the airport we went to the Stratosphere to go to the top. I'm not a big fan of heights and did you know they have rides up there that go over the edge? People are crazy. It was a great view of the area.

Well, that is it in nut shell. A small amount of what we did and a review on trying to eat gluten free. I was happy to get back to my safe zone.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Vegas-Day 5 Wednesday

On this day I was not feeling well. Fighting a cold that just would not go away. Dan called and told me to meet him by the entrance to our hotel at 11am so I did. We went to lunch at the Imperial Buffet. Sorry, I can't remember the name of the hotel but it's the one with the auto show in it. You can find it in a guide book I'm sure. Anyways, as always, I get nervous when I hear buffet, especially when I didn't know ahead of time so had no way to be prepared. It turned out to be pretty easy to eat gluten free at this buffet. Lots of plain veggies and some breakfast potatoes and a nice roast beef. It was quite good and I did get a little sick but I think that was from the eggs. When I took that first bite I thought they were a little too fluffy. I don't know why. But it wasn't too bad and I would risk it again and take a better and more careful look at what I choose next time.

We had to be finished and walk back by 12:15 pm to see a special speaker who turned out to be John Edwards and then Barock Obama (I'm sure I am spelling the name wrong)videoed in after Edwards speech. That was a treat. I was sitting in the back of the room so the pictures are a little fuzzy.

This evening we decided to go to Fremont Street and check out old Vegas. The laser show thing was really cool and the place was nice but it seemed to be all souvenir shops and we did find some nice souvenirs and saw some interesting things. This guy was making paintings using spray paint! It was really neat and the paintings were beautiful.

And there were these guys who were in the Guinness Book of World Records for riding 5 motorcycles in this ball of death thing. This show had 3 of them doing it.

And this is a shot from the laser show.

We stopped in to have dinner at a Tony Romas in one of the casinos. I ordered a steak and potato plain and potato skins. One bite of the potato skins and I told Dan it was too crunchy to have been baked. So he went and asked and sure enough they were fried. That will teach me not to ask abut gluten free again. I was having some serious stomach pains the rest of the night. We walked around looking at everything and even played some slots in the Golden Nugget and called it a night.

My cowboy pic is a little fuzzy but here it is.


Vegas-Day 4 Tuesday

This day we woke up and decided to try breakfast at Bill's Steak house across the street. We could see it from our room. I had steak and eggs and hash browns an told them no toast anywhere near my food. I knew it was a risk eating breakfast out but I was happy enough with the results. I did not get sick at all but the quality of steak for the price was so poor it was crazy. Maybe I'm just spoiled by country living and buying sides of beef from local farmers but me and DH both agreed we paid too much for very poor beef quality. The service was really bad too. They weren't that busy yet we sat over 20 mins waiting for service. There were there were other problems but it boils down to very bad service.

Before Dan left for his meeting he told me to find some place nice for dinner so I did some thinking and looking up things in my paper work and decided to try the restaurant in the Eiffel tower in Paris. I walked over there and discussed gluten free with the person who was taking reservations and she told me no problem so I made reservations for 8:30 p.m.

Before dinner we went to the Flamingo to see the flamingos! I love flamingos so that was a treat.

Cool right? And here were some fish they had as well.

So we then went to dinner and it was beautiful. We had a great view of the Bellagio fountains so got to see all the different shows it does and the service was excellent. Our server was prepared for me. Knew what was gluten free and it was so nice. Quite a bit of their menu was gluten free as is and she told me of things that they could change to make it gluten free. It was so nice and I loved it. By the way, this dinner was a celebration of our 15Th wedding anniversary. It was fun and delicious.

This picture our server took. Not the best of me at all but Dan looks good.

Only 2 more days to blog about.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A new hobby.

Well, I'm still not done posting about Vegas and I still have a lot to talk about the dining experiences I had there and some very good reviews on a few restaurants but right now I want to talk about a new hobby for me. I'm sure my husband is pulling his hair out with all the hobbies I keep finding myself get into. I have quilting, which I haven't worked on in over a year due to the back pain which I now know is from my arthritis. Once that is under control I will be back to it. I have scrap booking, which is so much fun and I take a ton of pics and develop for it. I also do basket making ad take a class once a week and I love that as well. And now, dadadada..... painting! I've always wanted to learn and took a class with my mom and Susan and learned a lot just in that one class. My hang up was how to use the paints and how to get the shape you want. I learned some techniques that once I get a few supplies I will be off and running. I need tons of practice. Here is the painting I did in class, my very first one ever.

This one is Susan's, which I think turned out pretty good but she said she was going to tell people she painted when she was 5, haha!

Last night I had basket class and finished a basket I have been working on for a year now. No, it wasn't hard and it doesn't normally take that long but this was some thing I was doing in my spare time and just worked on it when I was done on one basket an waiting for on reason or another to start the next one. I love this basket and love the colors. The shaping could be better but I am happy with it. We are starting our fall basket next and I'm looking forward to that one. Here is the one I just finished.

The one last thing to show is what I picked from my garden the other day. I was making a round to see what was growing an check out what I found!

Isn't that some thing?! I've been eating cucumbers already and there are a ton of Roma tomatoes on the vines. I think those will be ready in a few weeks.

Well, I will make sure I finish up my posts on Vegas in the new few days.


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Day 3 in Vegas-Monday

First I just want to say that I realize I posted the same pics on 2 different days so here are different pics of the strip.

Well today was Dan’s first day of meetings and I stayed in the room recovering from all the walking the day before and using the internet. I believe I posted about that in my first Vegas post. Not too much planned for the evening. The Steel Workers are putting on a buffet and entertainment. Now when I hear the word buffet from Dan I, as any other celiac does and will tell you, just figure I had better eat some fruit before I leave the room, grab a Lara bar for my purse and figure I will find something gluten friendly later after the show. To my surprise they had a very nice buffet with a great vegetable pick and even oven baked potato skins that I could eat and everything was in it’s own place with very little chance of cross contamination. When you are a celiac you always take a risk of cross contamination when you eat out and we all know that and have our own things that we carry to try to combat symptoms if we have to. Anyways no sickness this night. I was so thrilled and the potato skins were so good I’m going to make them here at home, I just need to find a recipe. Anyways the show was great! It was a singing impersonation show and was a good time.
When the show was over we went over to see the Bellagio fountains. That was cool!

After that we just walked around Caesars hotel and checked out the shops. Here's some pics of Caesars.

And this was in the Cher and Bette Midler store. They are both performing there right now. It's the microphone Bette Midler used on opening night. Can you believe the price!

We even checked out FAO Schwartz. Here’s some pictures of Caesars and FAO Schwartz. I picked up a puzzle of the strip that is 2000 pieces. Good thing I like puzzles huh. And can you believe these prices? I couldn't imagine paying a price like this.


Day 2 in Vegas-Sunday

We got up early and had breakfast at a little place in the hotel called Nosh. It’s all pre made sandwiches and stuff brought over from one of the other restaurants in the hotel. Dan had a breakfast croissant and I had a fruit cup. The prices of those were reasonable, the prices of the small bottles of apple juice was outrageous. If I had seen the price I would have stuck with my bottle of water I grabbed before leaving the room. $4.00 each is a little over the top when the fruit and sandwich were $5.00 each.
So after we ate we stopped and talked to someone at the front desk about the refrigerator that was supposed to be in our room. Here’s the background on that. About a week before we left I e-mailed the hotel asking about gluten free info about the hotels restaurants and a refrigerator in our room and they said no problem. So when we got to our room after check in, about 3 pm, Dan called down to ask about it because it wasn’t in our room. They said, oh yeah the request is right here it’s on it’s way up. So we left in our search for the grocery store. Got back and no fridge. Dan called down (this was now 10 pm) and they said it’s on it’s way up. After about 2 more hours Dan went down stairs and they then tell him they are out of refrigerators. Who wee was he mad. So we packed our stuff in ice and went to sleep. So on our way out we stop to tell them to cancel the fridge when one becomes available and decided to just buy a Styrofoam cooler for the week. Went through this whole thing about switching to a suite but it was a smoking room (no thanks!!) and off we went to the Hoover Dam. Whew!
On our way we stopped at the Vegas sign and snapped a few pics.

Hoover Dam was great and we took the full tour and it was very interesting. Here's a few pics.

On the way back to the hotel we came across a largely talked about gluten free friendly fast food place where they only have burgers and fries so the fries are gluten free, the Inn and Out. That place was hopping like crazy and knew what I was talking about when I said gluten free. We sat down and ate and it was good but honestly neither me nor Dan were impressed. The fries had a funky taste and even though the burger was pretty good we felt we could make better at home. It is a good place if you are out and need of some thing to eat though.

That evening we walked the strip for the first time and went to the M&M store and it was cool. 4 stories of M&M everything. Even a floor of Christmas stuff.

We went to the Coke store too and that was a disappointment. Not near enough of anything.

So, anyways, on the way back we spotted P.F Changes on the strip. Wonders of all wonders! I was very excited about this as we had kept our eye out for one since we had arrived. I’ve heard they are great and have a great gluten free menu. Well, we were sat pretty quickly and yes they had quite a gluten free menu. Boy was I excited! I miss Chinese food. Well, not now. I haven’t been that sick in a long long time. I was glutened big time and will never go back to that restaurant. I was assured they knew what they were doing and nope, they apparently did not. Never again.

On the way back to our room I snapped a few pics down the strip. I'm sharing these because Paris was my favorite hotel on the whole strip and not just because out hotel was connected. Just some thing about it was great.

Got back to our room and guess what, a fridge. Darn and we had already bought a cooler. Oh well.