Reality Checks

Ah, weekends. I had a great one, even with big old reality checks, level sets, priority checks and a boatload of sleet. Dallas, stop it. I’m being serious.

Remember when the fat envelope was a good thing? I was finally willing to walk down to the  freezing cold mail room to catch a few days of pile-up, and I had two big old envelopes from UT Southwestern. I assume kids today get an email or tweet or some other digital bullshit when they’re accepted to college, but we always looked for the fat envelopes. Skinny was a wait list or rejection for sure.

Well, these fat envelopes aren’t cool. Here’s my first reality check – the hematologist is at the oncology clinic.  Harold C. Simmons Cancer Clinic, to be exact. God that header is big.  HUGE!   I know cancer is a slim possibility with all this mess I have going on, but it’s still there. It’s almost like this letter is telling me, “Hey girl.  You probably do have Lupus. But at least it’s not cancer! Buck up, buttercup.”

And let’s be honest – we’re all hoping I’m in the 15% that have bad labs but nothing is wrong. Not having any reason my numbers are off is scary in its own way, because then there’s no treatment and all of the risk is still there, but I’ll deal with that when I have to deal with it. Inflammation is not a nice thing to have in your body, but again, it’s not cancer.  Even just thinking the word reminds me of the person I was once close to that died a couple years ago, and my heart just skips a beat.

I’m pretty good at shoving emotions aside and just using my head and logic to work things out, but I slip sometimes. I’ve joked that I’m emotionally dead inside, and honestly, sometimes it’s the best way to deal. If it isn’t going to hurt anyone else, fake it ’til you make it.  I enjoy a winning strategy.  So I’ll whine and freak out on my little online journal, and maybe some more to my mom, and otherwise I’m going to pretend it’s not happening until I have to. Most of the time I’m totally fine.

Happy, even.  There’s so much good stuff in my life right now, and I just need to count my blessings.

The second envelope is for the “Digestive and Liver Diseases Clinic.” You’d think my liver would be the issue if you’ve spent any bar time with me (just kidding mom! I say these things for humor!) but my liver is a-okay 🙂 I’m not even sweating this one anymore, even if shoving a tube down my throat to see why I throw up so much will probably just make me throw up.  Good grief. Sorry for the overshare, but it really is ridiculous. I’ve been good the past couple weeks, but I’ve been soooo careful and haven’t had much of an appetite anyway. Guess it helps.

Speaking of no appetite, though, I’ve been taking little chances here and there with my diet while I’ve been out and about this weekend. I know my blood reacts to gluten, dairy, soy, etc., which is why I stopped eating it. But I had some cheese and a couple bites of pita Friday  night, and the world didn’t end. I had some naan with my chicken tikka tandoori and masala sauce last night, and the world didn’t end. It did knock me the hell out though, holy smokes.  I slept for over ten hours last night!

I haven’t been sleeping well from all this stress, I guess, but that did the trick. Too bad I can’t take bread instead of a Tylenol PM. Reality check number two – bread isn’t worth the belly bloat and skin breakouts. I could feel my cheeks start to flush. Definitely not something I’m going to make a habit of, so don’t worry Mom!  I’ll get back to always carrying beef jerky and almonds if I get stuck somewhere without food I can eat. Fortunately I can eat the masala sauce without naan next time I’m craving Indian 🙂

Reality check three – I can eat my average of 1600-1800 calories a day, but throwing bread in the mix will put a pound of fat back on my ass. I actually only averaged 1400 calories the last couple days, and I still feel like I’ll have gained five pounds when I weigh myself in the morning. And I know I should have eaten more, especially since I worked out, but when you’re not hungry you’re not hungry.  And having six hour quilt classes really keeps you distracted 🙂

So this is me, casually freaking out. I quilt, I have cider, I break all the rules for a couple pieces of cheese and some naan.

Did I mention this was a great weekend? So fun going out Friday night, sleeping in, taking my quilt class, catching up with an old friend over takeout and a mani pedi today. The only thing that would have made it better would have been some sun. Please come back, sun. I miss you.

Here’s the quilt top from Saturday’s class – super cute “Playful” layer cake by Cotton + Steel in a disappearing four patch quilt class taught by one of the gals in my paper piecing class. I was so excited, and this will be a great piece for me to learn how to quilt on a bigger piece! More classes to take 🙂

Laying out the nine blocks so I can evenly distribute the prints.

Finished product!

And I’m Instagram famous! Wish I had put some lips on 🙂

Cheer!

Food Hiding, Doctor Visits and Labwork

So it occurs to me as I sit in my truck and sip on my contraband iced Americano, I’ve mentally come a long way. I mean, instead of parking in a fast food lot of shoveling down a milkshake or crunch wrap supreme before someone can catch me, I’m sneaking a ten calorie coffee.

Btw, I had to google my usual thing for Taco Bell. And by usual, what I used to get pre-Seattle for the boozy fourth meal.  I couldn’t remember what it was called!  I’ve been there twice in the last four years, once on a drive to Boise Memorial Day weekend and another in Seattle when it just sounded good. I still love tacos, but I’ll likely never go to Taco Bell again because they have ZERO things I can eat. Even their plain tacos and “al fresca” items all have either gluten or soy. Insane.  Soy does NOT need to be in every little thing, America.

I digress, though. I’ve always been a food sneaker, a food hider. Calories don’t count if no one sees you, right? If you’ve ever seen me pig out, know that you’re probably one of my favorite people on the planet, because it’s taken me years to be comfortable eating around other people. YEARS.  And to be frank, I can’t remember the last time I binge-ate, other than a chip basket at a Mexican restaurant.  I do remember the last time I binge drank, though.  Don’t tell my mom.  Or my doctor.  Damn you, patio days.  Just kidding, I totally told my doctor and her nurse a real answer.  “Christina, how many alcohol beverages do you have a week?”  Me:  “Well, what’s the weather?  Was I sitting on a patio most of the day?”

So when I say I’ve come a long way, I mean it.  The only candy in my presence sits right on top of my desk at work – and I barely touch it.  It’s full of Jelly Bellys, and my co-workers grab them by the handful.  I don’t miss it, really.  The only thing I really seem to miss is cheese, and cheese isn’t something I ever stashed away.  Well, and the coffee, but I don’t think a cup of coffee, usually decaf, will get me if I do it 3-4 times a month.  Can I justify the occasional dairy splurge by saying I need the probiotics?  Guess not.

I mentioned last blog that I was excited to get labs done to test my progress, and I was able to get that completed this morning.  I established care with the fabulous Dr. Barreto, gave her the rundown of my intolerances, inflammation, low platelets, vomiting, etc.  I swear, when I’m giving my life story I feel like the biggest hypochondriac, but I guess labs don’t lie.  I AM anemic, I DO have cardiac risk thanks to my inflammation, I DO have a low platelet count and I DO throw up more than any human I know.

What does that net me?  Nine vials of blood.  Even the sweet lady taking it was like, whoa.  The labels just kept uncurling.  I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture!  Glad I wore a super cute sunny yellow jacket to keep me cheerful.  I got several compliments on both that jacket and my navy and silver polka dot overcoat this morning – yay!  That always puts a little spring in your step, right?

Anyway, here’s what I had done:

  • Comprehensive Metalobic Panel – I had this done in October with Seattle’s fabulous Dr. Brown, but I think she wants to see it all again.
  • Hemogram
  • H Pylori
  • C Reative Protein (Inflammation Marker)
  • ESR (For SLE Monitoring)
  • ANA (Antinuclear) abs
  • Vitamin B12
  • Folate (Folic Acid) Serum – looks like the prenatals I take aren’t enough.  God bless any poor guy I date that looks in my medicine cabinet and thinks I’m trying to trick him into having a baby.  It’s for my  hair and the iron, buddy!  I swear!
  • Lipase Serum

Last but not least, a referral to a gastroenterologist.  Awesome.  Hey Mom?  Maybe we’ll finally get me a doctor who can figure it out and/or does more than shrug their shoulders and tells us to deal with it.  That’s an awesome thing to hear when you’re a child, btw.  It’s only taken 37 years 🙂  Looks like there’s a throat scope in my future.  That should be fun.

I’m also weening off the Wellbutrin and switching over to Paxil.  Dr. Baretta thinks it’s a better match for me since it also deals with anxiety and is gaining popularity for patients with IBS.  I don’t have that as far as I know (maybe these labs will show otherwise) but since my gut, intestines, etc. is so damn sensitive it really can’t hurt.  And my anxiety has been pretty bad lately.  Not panic attack bad, thankfully, but I could certainly be more chill.

She also tells me that losing around a pound a week on a 1600-1800 calorie a day diet is fine, and if I cut calories more I would have to do it under a doctor’s supervision and that I would want no part of it.  So I guess if I want to drop pounds faster, I’m just going to have to do that much more at the gym and also make sure the content of my calories is as healthy as can be.  No booze, less processed crap and more fruits and veggies.  Sigh.  Good thing I just gave up alcohol for Lent.

Thanks for reading through my overshare, friends.  Hopefully I’ll be posting positive lab results in the next few days!

Giving Up (More) for Lent

So, every year I give up something for Lent. I’m not Catholic, so maybe it’s a throwback to my Catholic school days. Mostly, I do it to curb some bad behavior. Or to get back on track 🙂

I got my Mardi Gras fun in this weekend, with no vodka soda left behind. I didn’t manage to get a pic with both my beads and my mask, but at least I made it home with both! Such a fabulous time at the Krewe de Roux ball. Plus, I got to wear sparkles.

IMG_1374

IMG_1337

I have a few hours left of Fat Tuesday to decide, but I’m pretty sure I’m giving up booze again. Crazy in a year that I’ve already given up gluten, dairy, soy, wine (save a glass or two), coffee (mostly), beer, Mom’s pie, stuffing, blueberries, ginger, honey, etc. etc. etc.

Seriously, what’s left to give up? Why am I even considering this madness?

Well, here are the facts. Alcohol is a big fat inflammatory, and I’m really supposed to reduce my consumption. I’ve done a good job on that front since October, but fabulous Dallas patio weather has definitely increased my boozy treat time. Plus a super fun new drinking buddy. Bad, Christina.

Secondly, my weight loss has stalled. I’ve only lost about six pounds since Christmas, and that’s despite staying pretty steady at 1600-1800 calories a day. Sure, I have a desk job, but I should still be dropping at least a pound a week. Maybe even two. Especially since I’ve also stepped up my game at the gym.

I like what I see when I look in the mirror, certainly more than I have for the past couple of years, but there’s still a way to go before I feel back to myself. Good, bad, otherwise, I don’t feel like me. I don’t feel strong, and there are still days I don’t feel pretty. And that’s not a good way to be.

Besides, alcohol is a depressant, and combining this cold and nasty weather with booze just adds to the dreariness. My wise friend Erin told me back in college after a night of boozing, “Alcohol is a depressant, yo.” Words of wisdom. So when I’m trying to shake off the depression and shake off some pounds, the booze gotta go.

Crap, now I have Taylor Swift stuck in my head. “Shake it off! Shake it off!”

I will reserve the right to have bubbles for two occasions. The St. Patrick’s Day parade, if we go, and if I close on a house before April 5. My lease is up at the end of April, and I’ve been looking!

So here’s to the next 40 days and 40 nights. And mimosas on Easter Sunday. Perhaps a smaller sized Easter dress, too. That’s right – those are Easter eggs labeling the mixers. As God intended.

IMG_1373

Airplanes, Long Weekends and the Little Joys of Life

Oh man, first things first.  Sometimes you can’t see in the mirror that your ass really is smaller, but American Airlines is happy to let you know.  Seat belts are just as good as showing progress as a notch on an actual belt, not that I’ve worn one in years.  When you’re super short waisted and very large busted, there is nothing less flattering than a tucked in shirt with a belt.  You can validate this statement by looking at any picture of me between 1994-1999.  Shudder.  Not okay.

I know the vast majority of people reading this have no idea what I’m talking about, but there is nothing worse than the day that stupid airline seat belt won’t fasten.  Not even with Spanx, not even when you skipped breakfast.  It sucks, and it’s a pretty humiliating experience.  Not the worst one I’ve ever had, but right on up there.  I have had countless experiences in my life that you’d think would humiliate me right into motivation at the gym, but you’d be wrong.  Hell, I’ve been offered a new car if I would get down to a normal weight for my height.  No dice.  The human brain is a stubborn beast.

I can’t remember the first time I needed an extender.  I’m sure I was embarrassed and I was probably flying alone, but like most bad experiences, I just try to block it out and move on.  (Yes, I know I probably need therapy.  Bill my bio-dad.)  I’ve been within 20 pounds of my highest weight just a handful of times, thank goodness, and each time I swear I’ll never be there again.  Right around my high school graduation, my last year at TCU, right around graduation from SMU and of course right around one year ago.  Crazy how fast I packed on those pounds.  Clearly school (and work) stresses me right into the fridge.  When you’re making your way closer to the largest pant size at LB, it’s time for a little talk with yourself.  I’m not sure of the day or time, but an AA flight attendant took pity on me during one of those time frames and told me to just hang onto my extender.  No more asking!  I kept it right with my shoe bags.  For someone that earned status on AA before she started traveling for work, that was GOLD.  Not having to ask every time just brightens your day.

I think it was official the last time I flew, but not only did I not need an extender today, I actually had three extra inches on the seat belt.  I think it was the particular plane I was on, but I don’t care.  Extra inches?  I didn’t have to suck in and pray?  YESSSSSS!  Happiness abounds.

Not as happy was the lack of leg room since I was too cheap to pay the extra scratch for my typical seat in 9E (14B would suffice.)  Life will go on, though, and I can start booking the exit row again.  Did you know you can’t have an extender in the exit row?  I didn’t until one insanely crowded flight had an empty exit row, and I was sympathetically told no when I asked to move into one.  The girl that ended up in that seat looked substantially larger than me, but hey, the seat belt doesn’t lie.  I’ve avoided the exit row for a while because you lose a couple inches of precious ass room, but bah.  The exit row is mine again, bitches.  These long legs can stretch out ALL. DAY. LONG.

I need it, too.  Hard to juggle my healthy, soy/dairy/gluten free oatmeal (thanks Starbucks!) coat, scarf, water and a neighbor with only four millimeters between my knee and the chair back.  I guess that extra leg room up front does make a difference.  I’ll try not to pout that I was number two on the upgrade list and still didn’t get it.  Sigh.  At least the person in front of me didn’t decide to lay back on my legs for his inflight nap.

IMG_1093

So great to see the Nestlerodes and meet their darling baby.  Hard to believe it’s been 2.5 years since I’ve been to Chicago!  Just like my visit a few Februarys back, I was blessed with sunny skies and moderate temperature.  I didn’t even mind the snow – Katie and I walked up to the local TJ and quilt shop and I was happy as a clam.  Don’t mind the puffer coat, I am totally skinny underneath it.  Promise.

FullSizeRender(3)

Back to the grind of the week – meal planning before I leave work today and stopping by the grocery store on my way home.  I was a little less strict than I’ve been in the past this weekend, and my foot definitely paid the price.  I had an amazing hostess that let me pick out my own groceries, but I didn’t ask about vegetable oil (soy) at any restaurant, enjoyed the hell out of some french press coffee both weekend days and best of all, had a couple bites of the most delicious butter cake in the world at Mastro’s Saturday night.  That steak!  Insane.  I hobbled around all Sunday morning, but I suppose I can split that blame between wearing heels on Chicago streets and having some of the things I know aggravate my inflammation the most.  Oops.  Worth it, though.

Cheers and stay warm, east coast friends!

Meal Planning & Going Out

The story goes, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”  That is so true when it comes to me and the kitchen, and it’s always been that way.  I will freely admit I’m not the best at planning my week, and I’ve thrown away my fair share of rotten veggies…big old sad face if they came from Whole Foods and/or were organic.  I don’t mind paying extra, but you gotta use what you buy.

When I lived in Seattle with Jason and Ben, I got a great lesson on meal planning.  Every week, Jason would sit down with his pad of paper and plan our lunches and dinners for the week, and then derive the grocery list from there.  When we were all in town and work wasn’t crazy (never often enough!), we had an excellent system down.  Monday was grocery night, and we almost always had tacos – super quick for a tight week day schedule.  Jason would cook while I would sit at the breakfast counter with wine (and whine.)  Ben and I had clean-up duty, which usually meant Ben was scrubbing and I was packing lunches.  We all got to do the things we liked best, or at least tolerated the most.

BTW, Ben – I’m sorry.  I leave dishes in my sink, sometimes overnight.  I didn’t do it while we lived together, but I’ve gone back to my bad ways  Bad single girl behaviour is real.  I’m ashamed and will look to find ways to improve this terrible, lazy habit of mine.

At any rate, I’ve adopted Jason’s method for meal planning for myself. Lunches on the left, dinners on the right.  Lunch is usually leftovers from the night before, but if it’s something too messy or random to pack for work, I’ll just keep it for dinners.  I even tossed Chipotle on here – I knew I would be running errands all day yesterday. Their allergen menu is fantastic!

.  FullSizeRender

The key to success for me is prep work. By the time I get home, I’m just fried and don’t feel like cooking.  If I’ve already done the work, great!  Prep for lunches this week was easy – chicken sausage with veggies.  The sausage is pre-cooked, so all I have to do is make the veggies, dump it into a container and call it a day.  I keep single serve hummus on hand, so I bundle that up with carrots and celery, bag up some hard-boiled eggs for snacks, divvy out fresh fruit for fruit salad, and all week it’s grab and go.

BTW, why do sausages look so dirty?  I had to laugh when I took this pic.  I know, I know.  I have the mentality of a fifteen year old boy and I’ll admit to it.

Aidells Chicken & Apple sausage paired with sweet potatoes and a kale/quinoa mix:

IMG_0977

No big deal to eat this for three days.  Tonight I’m making tacos (ground beef, Trader Joe’s taco seasoning, a can of rotel) and I’ll rotate between tacos and taco salad the rest of the week.  I’m already planning dinner out on Thursday night, and I know I’ll screw up one night and be off my schedule.  I stock soup for those nights, or I’ll have a Daiya frozen pizza.  I’ve mapped out my other activities as well, so I’ll have an idea of what’s going on when I’m grocery shopping.

The party planned for Saturday is a bit trickier, because I adore the couple hosting and a little one’s birthday party could likely turn into an all day event.  It’s a Saturday, we’ll have great company, cocktails may be poured.  Just saying.  I’ve shown up to Susie and Charlie’s with my own cooler of beer to watch football, but this time it’ll likely be a mix of booze and healthy snacks to help keep my face out of the birthday cake.

Eating outside of my house isn’t necessarily hard, but it requires the same amount of planning on my part.  House parties are the trickiest, though usually I can dig up some fruit and veggies and I almost always have almonds or beef jerky with me in a pinch.  And let’s be honest – I’m not going to starve.  I’ve got some reserves, kind of like a hibernating bear.

Local friends – I promise I can still go out!  I like going out!  I like going to dinner and I love going to brunch!  If you want to go out, let’s go out.  I can always find something, I promise.  PROMISE.  I’ll do the research ahead of time and I’ve gotten the hang of ordering.  Big ups to Anna and Colleen in particular for vetting restaurants and being patient with me in the beginning when I had a hard time figuring it out.  Tito’s Vodka is everywhere and if all else fails, there’s salad 🙂

I am super thankful to have friends and family that are way supportive of my admittedly somewhat restrictive diet, but I know some of y’all worry.  Thank you!  The best comparison I can make is that if you think of me as being on Paleo, or low carb, or whatever whole food diet is out there – it’ll cover 90% of the stuff I can’t eat.  No biggie.

XO

Dairy Free Macaroni and Cheese is the Worst.

Seriously.  I can’t even.  CAN’T EVEN.  Not to be a basic bitch about things, but I give up.  Sure, I miss Pumpkin Spice Lattes because Starbucks only has soy as their crappy non-dairy alternative.  Boozy brunches just aren’t the same without an egg bennie because carbs don’t count on Sundays, okay?  The gluten thing is mostly fine, whatever.  It’s so common that it’s common and I didn’t need a damn bread basket at dinner anyway.

Dairy substitutes, though?  UGH.  So much fail.  I’ve mentioned Daiya cheese probably in every post I’ve made, and it does have its place.  It’s good on the Daiya pizza, because it gives the right texture (sort of) and it stretches.  You’re so distracted by the amazing pizza sauce that you don’t notice the cheese is all wrong.  At least that’s what I’m going to keep telling myself.  Daiya even has an only to be found one time across eight grocery stores jalapeño jack block that even my (admittedly drunk) friends liked.  It’s disappeared.  Such a bummer.

I’ve tried three different kinds of dairy free macaroni and cheese now, and they are all disgusting.  And way more fattening than the real thing!  And by real thing, I mean something nasty and dirty like Velveeta shells and cheese, which I personally prefer to be made with Rotel or salsa and it’s so yummy.  You’d think all that processed yellow goodness wouldn’t actually be cheese, but it is.  I’ve checked.  Twice.  Just to be sure.

Tonight I tried the Gluten Free Say Cheez by Namaste Foods.  It has a super tragic rating of -4.7 on the MyNetDiary app.  -5 is the worst score they give.  For something that isn’t insanely delicious, so not worth it.  But I’m committed, and this is a very, very occasional treat.  Well, boo.  I so appreciate that these companies make the effort, I truly am, but I just need to find some sort of delicious pasta with sauce that isn’t mac and cheese for my grumpy Saturday comfort food.  Like the spaghetti I originally intended to have today, except I forgot to thaw out my hamburger.  Whoops.  Plus tomatoes still jack up my face.  They don’t give me inflammatory issues according to my 4000 blood tests, but there’s really no disputing the red rash I get all around my mouth and on my cheeks anytime I eat chili, spaghetti, or my friend Suzy’s amazing taco soup that she doctored so I could eat it.  (I have some of the best friends ever, insanely tolerant and way willing to deal with my bullshit.)  And I’m excited to eat the leftovers she gave me anyway, that’s how good it was.

So anyway, to this four serving package of dairy free yuckiness you have to add three tablespoons of oil, butter or margarine.  I’ve actually been pretty happy with all three of the Earth Balance buttery spreads I’ve tried (also a -4.5 rating), but let’s be honest.  It’s oil, hence the fat factor.  Because it ended up being kind of bland, I added some Daiya shreds to try to help it out, and then I gave up and dumped in a bunch of salsa.

Here’s the damage:

1530 calories

83 grams of fat (18 g is saturated)

168 carbs

Pretty bad for something that isn’t delicious.  There are probably a million things I could have for that same amount of calories.  Thanks to my super over-informative app, I’ve noticed my fat intake has been pretty high compared to the suggested fat/protein/carb ratio, and it’s all these substitutes that are doing it.  I love whole foods, I love just about any kind of veggie (tho some are better with bacon) and I love fruit.  No reason to put these chemicals and crap into my body when they don’t even taste good.  And bacon is technically a whole food anyway.

Ugh.  Time for some cereal.  Coconut milk is amazing and I’ve found some killer gluten free cereals, which btw?  I totally didn’t eat before this all happened.  I never wanted to waste the Points.  These days, though, sometimes it’s the only thing that will do.

Good Lord I’m grumpy today.  Must be because I’m taking down all the Christmas stuff.

Cheers!  At least I learned how to add a link, just in case someone needs a giggle about Ugg wearing, Pumpkin Spice Latte guzzling basic bitches that can’t even.

Surviving New Year’s – Boozy Treats, College Football, and Cooking

Happy New Year, everyone!

This might be the first year I haven’t made any resolutions – I made all the bad behavior changes I cared to make in October.  For 2015, I resolve to give up beer!  Lasagna!  Bubbles and cheese plates!  Oh wait…already did all of that.  I will keep working towards my goal of getting healthy and feeling better, though, and I definitely need to bank more time at the gym.  I’ll probably find myself at the complex gym by the end of the day, because it is way too nasty to venture outside.  I purposely dressed in gym clothes today, all the way down to my kicks and sports bra, so no excuse to not go.  And hey…no hangover!

It’s been ages since I went “out” for NYE.  I’ve spent the last few years hiding out from drunks and crazies with Jason and Ben or hanging out with friends at their annual house party.  The party skipped a year, thanks to an out of town wedding, but luckily for me, Jason and Ben extended their Dallas visit and were in town!  Yay!  And with the doggies too, which is such a treat!!!  Love them.  Anyhoot, if I’m remembering last year correctly, Jason made homemade alfredo sauce, oodles of pasta and ridiculously good rosemary bread, and we no doubt drank many bottles of wine and other boozy treats.  None of that for me this year, but fortunately the boys were totally on board with my plan for steak, brussels sprouts with bacon and potatoes.

I rarely cook meat unless it’s in a slow cooker or warming up pre-cooked chicken sausage  (Aidells!  I’m addicted. Thank you for selling in bulk at Costco.)   Maybe I’m just paranoid because of my overly sensitive stomach, but I’m always afraid I’ll poison myself.  Cooking classes definitely need to be added to my developing list of hobbies.  My knife skills are atrocious.  Ask anyone who has spent thirty seconds in the kitchen with me.  I’ve been playing around with a new cast iron skillet, though, and thanks to my growing adoration of The Pioneer Woman, I made perfectly done steaks!  SO GOOD!

Cooking shows, what?  I know, I know…why torture myself with food porn?  It’s a fun new game where I try to redo every single recipe with foods I can actually eat.  The jury is permanently out on macaroni and cheese.  I’ve found excellent gluten free pasta, and the Daiya cheese is okay for certain things, but it’s just not the same, will never be the same, and I remind myself that I always felt like hell after eating it anyway.  So there.

You know what doesn’t make me feel like hell?  Bacon grease, at least in moderation.  Have I mentioned that the foods I can eat aren’t necessarily healthy?  And I swear I’ve consumed more salt in the past two months than I did all year.  That’s why I’m using the food tracker too – I love that I can see every detail and track what I’m really taking in for the sneaky things like sodium, iron, calcium, cholesterol, etc.  Frying bacon was an excellent way to continue seasoning my skillet, and it made for even more delicious brussels sprouts.  Sure, I should have roasted them, and I normally would (thanks for teaching me how, J!!) but what a nice treat!  Set those aside, sear the steaks for 90 seconds on each side and toss that skillet in the oven to finish.  Thanks again, Pioneer Woman!  I can’t just read a recipe, apparently, I have to watch it happen too.

So that was my NYE meal, and I’ve had excellent leftovers for football watching today, but where do the boozy treats come in?  College football without beer?  Toasting the new year without champagne?  Madness!  As for as liquor goes, distilling supposedly removes all gluten.  The Celiac foundation doesn’t agree, though, and I just don’t want to risk it.  Reading other blogs about gluten intolerances over the past couple of months has made me very leery.  Surrendering my beautiful bottle of Grey Goose L’Orange was painful, but it’s good in the long run.  Besides, I’m sure I can stock up on potato vodka next time I’m in Idaho, and I can even support (sort of) local business and drink Tito’s Vodka and Deep Eddy Vodka.  Win!

I’ve been a fan of Deep Eddy Grapefruit for ages now, and though I had to quit Deep Eddy Cranberry thanks to my sensitivity issue, finding substitutes has been no problem.  I was even fortunate enough to find two 99% corn distilled bourbons when I went to Nickel and Rye last month.  Such a good treat!  That said…alcohol is a well known inflammatory aggravator.  It’s a stomach and intestine irritant and increases gastric acid.  I already have enough issues with bad belly, nausea and throwing up, so I have to be very cautious about my consumption level.  Club soda is a good friend, though, and alternating a vodka/soda with a soda/soda keeps it pretty level.

Beer wasn’t a major loss, though I will miss going to breweries and trying craft. Oh, that chocolate stout at Icicle Brewery in Leavenworth! And a Guinness beef stew! For every day boozing, though, I’ve always preferred hard cider – generally gluten free.  Yay!  It’s packed full of sugar and will murder some calories, though.  Woo.  Other than the occasional Summer Shandy or Blue Moon, though, I haven’t had much beer in ages.  All of the Seattle sports teams sold cider in their stadiums and most bars have at least one on tap.  Easy breezy.

Speaking of sports…tough day for my Baylor Bear friends and a beautiful day for my Michigan State fans, but what an exciting game of college football!   I love a good come back against all odds, except when Baylor did it to TCU.  Bah.  At any rate, I’ll admit that quilting and drinking water at home isn’t quite as fun as watching at Buffalo Wild Wings with friends, but I certainly feel pretty good.  (And by the way, at BWW, have the naked tenders with mild or medium sauce with fries.  Not a “healthy” choice but gluten, soy and dairy free!)

Signing off for now – over the next week I’ll check in on cooking shows and substitution games, madness at the gym, dating adventures and of course, any more progress towards getting into my grad school clothes.  They’re in my closet in a plastic tote, just waiting for me to fetch them!

(p.s. – made another lucky stars quilt square today!  Showed Jason how to paper piece last night and I can’t wait to get to Urban Spools and use the gift card they bought me for Christmas on a new project.  I was so spoiled for Christmas!!!)

Cheers!