Raw Truth

I’m spent. I am absolutely, unequivocally spent.

This yoga challenge has me raw. I am sensitive. I get angry easily. I am so raw that I’m afraid if someone looks at me for more than a quick glance, they will see my entire being.

As much as I post, talk, socialize, I’m a private person. Few people know me to the core. Hell, I don’t think I know myself to the core sometimes. But this yoga challenge is getting my core (and not just the ab part of it).

I didn’t have a great morning. My mind was too busy during my morning practice and I couldn’t get it to stop. I’m learning to slow my mind down, to let go, and to enjoy my meditation and practice. This has been a constant during this 30 day yoga challenge (of which I’ve just finished the complete first week! Victory!). I am constantly in an internal battle. I am constantly trying to quiet my mind while also trying to acknowledge what comes up so that I can address is and move on from it.

My morning was sluggish. Then right before lunch, Mr Man got hurt outside. He got hurt enough to make an emergency call to our dentist and to be really concerned. He will have to have dentist appointments and follow ups to make sure that his tooth that he landed on is okay and that his gums heal properly. He won’t be able to bite anything for a while with his front teeth.

I’m sure every mother feels the same way – I hate when my kids get hurt. We’ve been lucky so far – we’ve avoided stitches, casts, and anything else major. Sure, we’ve had 3 surgeries between 2 kids, but they weren’t injured. Seeing your child get hurt hurts your core. And my core was already sensitive.

Yoga makes me learn more about myself on a daily basis. A 30 day yoga challenge is hard. You go to the brink emotionally, and you’re pushed pretty hard physically. Even if you pick those gentler classes, you’re still getting deep into your muscles, and if you take a Yin class like I did this morning, you get pretty deep into the tissues. My body is tired and yet I’m fighting through it.

Every day that I learn more I grow more. Every day that I feel raw, I learn something about my strength. Yoga makes me strong – mentally and physically. When I practice yoga, my anxiety diminishes. In fact, looking back, I think I’ve only had 2 episodes of anxiety all week.

Maybe being raw is turning out to be more beneficial than I originally thought..

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Yoga Challenge: Days 3-6

I’ve just completed Day 6 of my 30 day yoga challenge.Catch up on the first few days here.  Why I love the challenge from Prana Yoga Studio is that:

1 – It’s the same people every day going through this journey.
2 – It’s at the same time every day. Set alarm. Get up. Go to yoga.
3 – It has a celebration near the end.

Lots of studios and online places do a 30 day (or 45 day) challenge but it’s a do-on-your-own-ish thing. You go to a class every day for 30 days and record your name and what class you went to. I think this is a fantastic way to do it for some people, but not for me. I like the routine. I like not being able to make excuses.

This time around, I’m experiencing things so differently. Although I know more the 2nd time in, I think that I set some expectations on what was going to happen naively. Towards the end of the last challenge (somewhere the middle of week 3 or so), I stopped being able to have sugar. I couldn’t drink pop, a chocolate bar was impossible – overall, junk just didn’t work. Really, I know I shouldn’t eat those things, and I don’t do it often, but I still do.

This time I’m already there. I tried to have a Ginger Ale yesterday and got 1/2 way through it. A few days ago I was craving chocolate – and extremely rare occurence for me as I don’t even really like chocolate (go ahead and faint now, but it’s true) – I had an aero and could eat about 6 squares and then I hit my limit.

This experience has also been extremely internal for me. I’m a fairly social person, and this time I don’t really want to talk to people. I’m not opposed to talking to them, and if they approach me I will definitely engage in a conversation, but I’m loving the introspectiveness of it all. Monday to Friday is silence before class and it’s bliss. You can smile and nod at others, but no words are to be exchanged unless absolutely necessary, and when they are, it needs to be in a whisper. It really makes me happy to be in silence. Life is so busy and kids are so LOUD that the silence starts my morning off right.

I’m also *really* not a morning person. My husband described me as a bear in the mornings and I’d agree with that. I need quiet. I need order. And I need to just be in my own head before waking up to the world.

But on to the classes.

Day 3:
Option 1 – Foundations Flow: Heidy
Option 2 – Core – Jaya

I missed out on a Jaya class on the Tuesday, so I went full on for core. Jaya worked us really hard and it was amazing. I didn’t feel like I couldn’t do it so I kept pushing on. Jaya is poetry in itself. Her meditation was awesome, the class was blissful and the savasana was so needed. I am a huge Jaya fan (as I’ve mentioned before) and taking her Core class solidified that. It also solidified my intense need to take more core. During this challenge I’m not taking extra classes – it’s expensive for one, but also, I don’t want to burn myself out. But once this challenge is over, Core will need to become one of my regular classes. If I have any hope of getting into handstand or crow continually, my core needs to get going.

Day 3 was my angry day. I don’t know why, but everything that happened ticked me off. I ranted, I vented, and I stewed. Looking back, I really should have taken 5 minutes to meditate, go into child’s pose, and just address my anger, but instead I spent the day trying to fight it off which didn’t help me at all.

Day 4:
Option 1: Vigorous Vinyasa – Isabelle
Option 2: Akhanda Flow – Erik

After my angry day 3, I wanted a class that involved many facets of yoga – chanting, deep introspectiveness, and flow. I did not want my ass kicked. I was feeling really raw from day 3, so I opted for Erik’s class. I loved it! Erik is funny!! I’ve taken classes from Erik before, but I honestly felt that this was the first time I really appreciated his class in its entirety. I was well rested after going to bed at 8:20 the night before, and I was ready. Erik does a traditional sun salutation with lunges as opposed to lots of forward folds. I like doing the traditional version now and again, but my hamstrings really love the loosening up for the forward folds. We chanted Anando Ham for a while, feeling the Bliss running through us. My top moment of this class was the Breath of Joy kundalini breathing. I had to stop myself from full-out grinning. I had a pretty big smile on my face during it as our arms flailed around to inhale-inhale-inhale-exhale. I had to leave early today since Chef Husband teaches on Thursdays at 8, but it was a great class.

Day 5:
Option 1: Yoga Flow – Brittany
Option 2: Happy Hips – Sean

On day 2 of the challenge I was sitting on my couch when all of a sudden I was overcome with a sense of dread. I felt that I would have to choose between Brittany and Sean and I didn’t want to do that. Then I thought I was maybe a) overreacting and b) crazy. And then I walked into the studio on Day 5 to see Brittany’s name on one door and Sean’s on the other. And I froze. And I walked up to Isabelle and said “Seriously Iz? Brittany and Sean on the same day?” and she laughed. Brittany and Sean are both super funny. I laugh out loud in both their classes. They’re both very strong people (I can’t even tell you how many facebook pictures Brittany has of herself in a handstand, and Sean can go into side crow on command). But mostly, when I’m in their classes I feel like I can do absolutely anything and that I’m safe. I was torn. I decided that I really couldn’t pick based on person so I’d pick based on what class I felt my body needed.

I stood for a minute and it came to me – I really needed to work on my hips. Happy Hips it was. And Happy Hips lead to Happy Amanda. Holy crow this class was mind-blowing. We did everything. My hips screamed; then sighed; then rejoiced. My back was loosey juicy. And my heart and mind were elated. I’ve taken many many yoga classes and Sean’s Happy Hips on Day 5 of my 2nd Yoga Challenge will go down as one of my favourite classes I have ever taken.

I did hear a rumour that there was some flying and some headstanding in Brittany’s class. Next time.

Day 6:
Option 1: Vinyasa Flow – Sean
Option 2: Restorative Akhanda Flow – Alethea

One thing I have learned over my time as a yoga practitioner is that I need balance. I need to respect my body’s need for rest. If I do more than 3 or so vigorous classes in a row and don’t through in a restorative or yin practice, I suffer. So I didn’t need to spend a lot of time choosing – I hope into studio 2. The funny thing is that by day 6, I haven’t actually stepped into studio 1 yet. It’s always been option 2 for me so far. Alethea was spectacular. She spoke of respecting the body, of self, and of listening to where we needed to be. We started with a guided meditation on our backs and eased slowly into warming up our bodies. We ended with supported bridge and spinal twists. My heart left happy. I think this might have been my first class I’ve taken with Alethea and I would absolutely take another. It was sweet, juicy, and gave me strength.

Although I haven’t yet, I may actually try to allow myself a nap today..

The beauty of Sunrise yoga is this – you actually start in the dark and when you emerge, the sun is shining. I caught a glimpse of the sunrise on Thursday when I left early. It was breathtaking – just like this challenge.

Insomnia, a Yoga Challenge and Learning to Live in the Moment

Every day I learn something new if I really think about it. Some days, they pass us by so quickly and if we don’t take the time to reflect back on them, we will miss it.

For instance, last night I learned that part of the reason my marriage is so great is because I go to bed first. My husband works late. I need a lot of sleep. So before 11 I’m usually out cold. He rarely gets in bed before 11. Reportedly, I snore (I don’t actually believe this, but I’m just repeating what I’ve been told). But I’ll tell you one thing. My Chef Husband could rival a motor he snores so loudly. Last night we went to bed at the same time, chatted for a while, and then he fell asleep (in roughly 42 seconds). I did not. No, instead I lay there willing myself not to kick him, it was that loud. Eventually around midnight (over 1.5 hours after I got in bed), I fell asleep.

Now normally, if I fall asleep around midnight I’m a write-off the next day. I honestly need a minimum of 7 hours of sleep, but ideally, 8-9 is perfect. This is something that I know about myself and try to adhere to for the sake of myself and my family. But I do suffer from periodic insomnia – not to the same extent as my aunt or my mother, but it’s still there. It was rampant back in high school but back then, I had a good friend who also was an insomniac. On nights where both of us were away, we’d talk until 4-5 in the morning, finally pass out, then go to school. Now that I’m post-children, it doesn’t hit me as often. When it does, I’m up until somewhere between 1 and 3, and it sucks.

Back to last night. Like I did back in April/May, I’m doing a 30 day sunrise yoga challenge. Every day I wake at 5:30, get my yoga clothes on, and head out the door, mat in hand, in the pitch black to do yoga. Willingly. I love what this challenge did for me last time and I’m excited to see what the differences between the first and second challenge are, as well as what differences I see in my body.

So I got 5 hours sleep. And now, I’m tired. So tired I feel like I could fall over. So tired that I really had to focus when making the 1o minute drive from my kids’ school to my house. So tired that I fully plan on going to sleep before 8pm tonight.

The last time I partook in this challenge, Chef Husband was in exam period and not teaching, so I didn’t have to worry about the time. Hockey season was over (put to an end by a concussion), so it was really, all about me. This time though, a couple of mornings a week he teaches at 8, so I have to leave early. It’s not something I like to do – leave a yoga class in the middle of it, but in order for this to work, I need to be respectful of a) my need to complete this challenge and b) his need to work and teach.

I’m going to blog about my experiences this time in the challenge. Also, because as my mother says, I like to do too much, I’m also going mostly vegan. That’s kind of a cop-out I know, but I don’t really have any great desire to be vegan exclusively. I care very much about animal rights, and when I do eat meat, I’m very selective about where we get it from. But I really need to cut out dairy, and I just need to reboot my system. So mostly vegan it is. I’ve been eating pretty much like a queen.. amazing wraps with fresh vegetables, tacos with kidney beans, quesadillas with beans, vegetables and daiya cheese. Tonight was Portobello mushroom fajitas from the Happy Herbivore. Life is good.

Day 1
Option 1 – Yoga Flow Foundations (Donna)
Option 2 – Akhanda Yoga Flow (Isabelle)

I went for Option 2 yesterday for 2 reasons. 1 – I didn’t really want a foundations class and 2 – the combination of Isabelle and Akhanda is exquisite. The class was amazing, but I did something wonky to my knee. Or my hamstring – I can’t figure out which. I think maybe I over stretched my knee? It doesn’t hurt, it just feels really weak. So I’m being really careful about how far I go in the asanas (poses). Since taking the Grow Your Roots workshop, I find that I’m very particular about my alignment. I also find that my legs start to shake sooner and I need to come out of poses more often. I think that I’m using more muscles now that I might actually be doing the postures right. We chanted So Hum in this class – I am that. It’s one of my favourite chants and I sang it to Mr Man that night before he went to bed. This class was wonderful for a first day of 30.

Day 2
Option 1 – Vinyasa Flow (Jaya)
Option 2 – Yoga Flow Foundations (Angela)

I again went for option 2. Jaya is one of my absolute favourite instructors. You go into her class and feel like you’re a poem by the time you come out. Her words are magical and rhythmical and all over amazing. She’s a very strong practitioner and I run in her direction just to be in her line of energy. But this morning I had to leave early. I also indicated that one of my intentions of this challenge was to “Start Slow”. I know that when I get to, I will love to be in the Jaya Vinyasa, but this morning was not the right morning for it for me. So I went into foundations. I found this class to be a little slow for me (personally), but then, it was perfect for an introduction class. Angela’s voice is so melodic – I really think she should record meditations. Her guided meditations are among my favourite to listen to. The meditation went for 15 minutes and though it was amazing, I was selfishly sad that I didn’t get more asanas in given the short time I had.

I can’t find the quote I’m looking for, but Angela told us a quote from Rumi that went something like this:

If you life in the past, or in the future, you don’t live in the moment.

In 2 days I already remember how to go into a more zen mode. Because of illnesses, my pass expiring, and a general feeling of September being too insane for me to bear, I hadn’t gone to yoga in 2 weeks and I noticed a huge difference in my ability to cope. When I do yoga, I feel like the meditative state lasts with me through the day.

Today, I’ve been living in the moment. And it’s been amazing.

IT Happened.

It happened.

There was nothing I could do to avoid it. It was going to happen whether or not I was ready. And I wasn’t ready.

My children started school.

I’ve been through some schooling with them already. Both of them did 2 years of playschool each, and Mr Man had already done his stint in kindergarten.

But there was something that was still so … fluffy … about it all.

I mean, my kids learned a TON in preschool. They had amazing teachers that truly made an impact on their lives and gave me extremely high expectations of teachers in the future. They learned more than I had expected to be honest, and they were prepared for the next steps of their schooling.

Last year, Mr Man went to a great school in the west end that was an art-based school. (In our town, you have the ability to pick your own school as long as you can get your child there and pick them up – you don’t need to go to the neighbourhood school). This year, we decided that we would switch to French Immersion. Both Chef Husband and I grew up in french immersion and we lived in Montreal for 2 years working mostly in french. We felt that it would be a good idea for our kids to learn the other official language of our country.

We had friends going to this school. Mr Man’s best friend from preschool went there as did another child from his class that he was close to. Miss A’s best friend from preschool was going to be going there and her older brother had been there for a few years. We heard positive things about both the school and its principal. So we went for it.

Heart palpitations, cold sweats and holding my breath. Oh they were fine. But I was being a nervous mom. This was a big choice. Was it the right one? I knew nothing about how they dealt with allergies or celiac disease. I didn’t know the teachers. I didn’t know the community.

Fast forward to last Tuesday. Mr Man’s first day. We found out on the weekend that he and his girlie bestie from preschool would be in the same class. Sigh of relief from all of us. This would make the transition for him easier. I brought him to school that morning and a tear came to my eyes. Well, if I’m being honest it was more than one tear, but they did not escape my eyes that morning. He found his friend before going in to class and they were glued together. He was going to be fine. I told his teacher about his peanut allergy and his celiac disease. Her response was that she was very familiar with gluten-free living. I exhaled a little bit.

(*Note: I have since sat down with Mr Man’s teacher and when she says she was very familiar with the disease she wasn’t kidding. I feel very comfortable with her knowledge of celiac!!)
Mr Man is very well versed in his allergy and his inability to share food, touch others’ food, etc. I’ve taught him to be his own advocate and it’s paying off. He’s found another “buddy” in class with a peanut allergy too. He’s going to be okay.
Miss A’s first day was Wednesday. That day, the tears flowed. She’s my baby. My last little one being sent off to school and it’s shocking me to the core. She’s so little, and I just want to cuddle with her and keep her close. I know that I need to let her soar and discover her own way, and I’m trying to let her do that, despite the fact that I don’t feel ready. But it can’t be about me.
Miss A’s teacher didn’t know what celiac disease was. But she’s learning. I sat down with her on the 2nd day and provided her with some literature on celiac disease. I’ve spoken to her about allergies and prevention within the classroom. I will be her expert, and I will help to keep Miss A safe. They do kinder-cooking in kindergarten at this school once a month. I’m going to provide class-friendly recipes that everyone can enjoy so that no one gets left out and no one needs to stay home that day. I will teach her so that next time she has an allergic child or celiac child in her class, she will be confident, and she will know what celiac disease is.
This week I sit down with the principal to find out all about their allergy policies and how they keep children safe. I’m excited to do this. It’s my responsibility as a parent to do this. I’m ready for this part.
I’m just not sure I’m ready for them to grow up quite yet.

Thankful for Thanksgiving

This post might be depressing. Not because I’m going to write sad things, but because I don’t have pictures of it all yet.

You see, I try to connect everywhere with other people like me. With people who are food restricted in some manner. One of my favourite “groups” on facebook is that of the Canadian Celiac Association. We’re a pretty jovial bunch over there. We help each other out whenever we can; from figuring out weird symptoms, to giving suggestions on meals, to helping with travel. I feel very thankful for that group. I feel like I can say “Hey, this happened yesterday” and at least 10 other people are going to respond with “Oh, yep, you’re not alone.”

And that summarizes why finding others with food restrictions is so important.

I’m not alone.

In Mr Man’s grade 1 class, he’s found a buddy. This buddy is allergic to peanuts. Mr Man is ecstatic. He doesn’t want other kids to be allergic to stuff, but he’s so happy that someone else “gets it”. His words were “mom, he gets it! He’s like me!” And in grade 1, that’s pretty important.

In Miss A’s class, it seems like all the kids with allergies in my part of town decided to go to kindergarten in the same school at the same time. In her class there are multiple anaphylaxis allergies including peanuts, dairy, and eggs. Then there’s Miss A’s celiac, and there are other food restrictions on top of that. Needless to say, I’m taking this school as a huge education opportunity. They can educate my children, but I can educate them on the ways of allergic life. I’ll do my best – it’s my responsibility as a parent.

But I digress.

None of us are alone, and for that, we should be thankful.

One of the things I’m most thankful for, especially around the holidays, are my next door neighbours. You see, while many of you are celebrating with parents and siblings and aunts and uncles, we aren’t. All of our family lives 3500km away, and hopping on a plane to head out for Thanksgiving just isn’t really financially feasible. Since having kids over the age of 2 where they aren’t free anymore, going back for Christmas is also not entirely possible. We haven’t been back for Christmas since Miss A was 7 weeks old. We were back 2 years ago in early December when my grandfather passed away, and both sets of parents held their own mini-Christmases for us (the kids were stoked.. 3 Christmases in one month!), and last year, Chef Husband’s grandmother passed away a few days before Christmas, so he jetted back for a quick 3 day round trip.

But our neighbours invited us in. I think it started with Thanksgiving.. but truthfully, I can’t even remember.

What I do remember is the food. The copious amounts of food and all of us sitting around willing ourselves to move because we were so stuffed. I remember washing all the dishes year after year not because I particularly wanted to, but because if I sat down I was afraid I’d never get back up. I remember wishing I could roll myself home without it being embarrassing I was THAT full.

This Christmas will be my 4th anniversary of being gluten-free. And over those 4 years, my neighbour’s sister joined in the celiac posse, then Miss A, and finally Mr Man. Over those 4 years, we’ve mastered the art of cooking up a storm and keeping everyone safe.

J-Money (sorry BBF, it was seriously the only nickname that I could think of and kept me laughing..) cooks the turkey, vegetables and potatoes. We cook the ham and dessert. We each make a stuffing. We each make a gravy. And then we eat.

One year on Thanksgiving I had to work. J-Money’s sister was over as was all my family and they called me, at my store, to get my recipe for stuffing because the sister and my family couldn’t go without. Now that is the sign of a good stuffing.

Maybe I’ll make it this week. Just because I can. And just because it’s so darned good.

What you’ll need:
A loaf of bread – doesn’t need to be stale. We’ve used store-bought and home-made.
Butter – we use vegan, GF butter, but any will do.
Stock – vegetable or chicken
1/2 cup of diced onion
1/2 cup of diced zucchini OR celery (if zucchini from our garden is plentiful, we use it)
1/2 cup raisins
1 tsp savory
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tbsp basil
salt and pepper to taste

Chop the bread up into rough pieces. Make them bite sized. You don’t want people having to cut it up.

Stick all the bread in a big casserole dish (I’ve used shallow oval dishes, deep round dishes.. whatever you have on hand, but it should have a cover.

Add the diced onions and zucchini, and the raisins.

Mix.

Add the spices to 3/4 cup of melted butter then drizzle over everything. Mix again.

Now, you want to add some stock. This is the only part that involves a bit of guessing. You want to drizzle the stock so that the bread is a bit moist, but not so that it’s WET. You don’t want a pile of liquid. Sometimes, you only need about 1/4 cup of stock. I usually start with a 1/4 cup and mix, and see – if everything looks like it has some liquid on it, then I leave it. Otherwise, I add up to another 1/4 cup.

Cover, toss in the oven at 350 for about 30 minutes. Take it out and make sure everything smells good. Then put it back in uncovered for about 10 minutes, just to brown up the top.

And voila. Serve with poultry or do what I do.. eat it on its own.

Or pour gravy on it.

Now I’m drooling. How many more days until Thanksgiving?

A new way of cooking

My name is Amanda and I’m addicted to Pinterest.

[For those who don’t know what Pinterest is, I suggest you go check it out and join. In short though, it’s basically a virtual buletin board system. You see something you like and you “pin” it on your board. You can have multiple boards. And people can follow all of your boards or just one at a time.]

I joined Pinterest kind of a long time ago. Back before it was an obsession with the vast majority of people actually. I pinned a couple of things and then ignored it for a good 4 months. In that time, a lot of people started talking about Pinterest and I realized that maybe I didn’t give it a fair shot.

I’m a particular pinner. By that I mean that I have rules. (For those of you who know me personally, you’ll realize I have rules about everything. From how to open Christmas presents to when movies are allowed to be watched, there are rules.) My rules are:

1 – I only pin things that I will not only think about doing, but actually WANT to do and WILL do.
2 – I pin things that I see as useful.
3 – I have a lot of boards and I think the most pins I have in one board is just over 50.
4 – I double-check everything I pin. I don’t pin it unless I’ve gone directly to the source where I can see the instructions clearly. The only exception to this is for things that I just need to see a picture to do, like a card.
5 – I do have a couple of “inspiration” boards mostly yoga-based that I actually go and look at relatively frequently when I’m feeling blah.

I even created a photo album on my personal facebook page titled “Pinterest in Real Life” where I post pictures of things I’ve done from facebook.

So fast forward to today. Today I wanted to use apple cider. We have a giant jug of it that we got on sale because its shelf life was coming to an end and I wanted to use some of it up. I knew that the odds of finding something gluten-free AND containing apple cider were relatively slim, so I just went with the regular stuff. And then I gluten-freed it. Yep, that’s a verb.

First up was the pin for Apple Cider Muffins. I went to the blog and followed the instructions with a couple of tweaks in order to make it gluten-free and still good.

1 – I use a gluten-free flour blend that already contains xantham gum, so I omitted the gum. I found that the batter was a bit too liquidy so I added another 1/4 cup of flour. This made it perfect.
2 – After everything was blended, I tossed my mixer on low-medium (about a 3 on kitchen-aid) for 2 minutes.
3 – It took my muffins about 24 minutes to be perfectly cooked.

I made 12 muffins and we’re down to 5. I should note that I made 12 muffins at 4:30 pm. They were a hit. Both kids have requested a muffin in their lunch tomorrow. Done and done.

 

Note: These muffins did sag a bit once they came out of the oven and cooled down, but they did not turn spongy or heavy so I’m okay with it!

I also had stumbled across some Pull-Apart bread on Pinterest. The recipe was based on garlic and parmesan but because my kids are weird, they don’t like garlic. I decided for a first go, I’d just make plain old bread. Miss A liked it so much she was eating it before it was cooked..

This bread was super easy to make and I’m fairly certain that you could use an egg replacement and make it vegan too. The bread was soft and warm, and the outside was crusty thanks in part to the (vegan) butter we rolled them in first. Miss A helped out which was pretty gross. She basically took a smidge of dough and proceeded to smush it between her hands multiple times until I had to literally scrape it off with my fingernails. She had fun though so what the hey.

I was a bit disappointed that Mr Man didn’t seem to like the bread. I’m not sure if it’s because he was tired and cranky when he tried it or if he truly didn’t like it. We’ll try it again tomorrow. The rest of us like it so I’m pleased.

And finally, I leave you with yet another Pinterest find. I had a bunch of Stampin’ Up! fabric leftover from various projects that I wanted to use up. I had been intending to make Miss A a couple of skirts for the summer but I never got around to it. Miss A is a girly girl. She wears pants only when absolutely necessary but 90% of the time she throws a skirt over top. Sometimes she even wears a skirt on top of a skirt because she can’t decide.

So when I saw this skirt, I knew it had her name written all over it. It took me about 45 minutes to make, and Miss A ran around for hours in it yesterday, then wore it to school again today. I’d say that’s one successful skirt.

Now you should probably all go over to Pinterest and start pinning.. and while you’re there, check out my boards!

Mmmm… pizza.

When you first get diagnosed with Celiac Disease, it’s pretty normal to have a bit of a hard time with it. It’s also pretty normal to have a giant meltdown over it. Everything that you’ve ever known is changed in an instant. That soft texas toast – no more. Triscuits and wheat thins? Uh-uh. Chips Ahoy? No way.

Take-out pizza? Don’t even think about it.

There are very few things that I miss after almost 4 years of gluten-free living. Subway and take-out pizza are probably the only 2 things that really give me cause to daydream anymore. Other than the odd french fry or sundae, I haven’t eaten at McDonald’s since I was about 14. Same goes for Wendy’s, BK, Taco Bell and everything in between. I just was never a big fan of fast food because it always made me feel gross (a point I now see as slightly amusing). But Subway was where it was at. I flip flopped between the turkey and the veggie. I always loaded it up with tons of good veg and a touch of light mayo. And it was always divine. I still miss it, and my goal is to make a sandwich bun that I can sink my teeth into a melt a little like Subway buns used to make me do.

But I digress. For this post is about pizza. For a while (and soon to be again), Boston Pizza had Gluten-Free pizza crust so I could eat there (a lot has come up about their cross contamination and I will admit there were a couple of times that I didn’t feel so fabulous after eating it, but I always assumed it was the cheese laden on top of the pizza). There’s just something about getting that pizza in the cardboard box with the sauce and toppings. So, so good.

I miss take-out pizza. But as we move on in our world of gluten-free living in our house, we stop missing the things we used to eat and start embracing our ability to cook and to eat well.

My mom just came to visit for a week for the first week of school. My mother carries the gene for Celiac Disease which she unknowingly passed on to both myself and my brother. I’m the only one of the 3 with active Celiac Disease at this point in time, and I really hope both my mom’s and Matt’s stay dormant so they can continue to eat as they do. But over the years, my mother has become increasingly more knowledgeable about our disease. Let’s face it – her daughter and both of her grandchildren have Celiac, so when we go and visit her, it’s not like she can avoid it.

Both my parents have become amazing with cross contamination. We have our own toaster at their house, and as of this last visit, our own cutting boards. They label things in their fridge as Gluten-Free so that they don’t contaminate our butter, hummus, or anything else that they may typically not think about. We have our own shelf when we go with our food on it. Best of all, they try to cook everything gluten-free when we visit. I think my parents found it somewhat daunting at first to have to be so vigilent, but almost 4 years later, they are doing amazing and I feel very comfortable eating in their house.

When my mom came last week, I had told her about this pizza that I had made. It was loaded with what I would typically think of as “mom-food” – ingredients that my mom would salivate over. I think the only thing missing was black olives. When she arrived, it was 2 hours past her lunch time and right at ours (it’s amazing how a 2 hour time difference can make such an impact!). We split the leftover pizza and she was so impressed that the crust was soft and delicious.

Though my mother did eat sandwiches while she was here from my husband’s mini wheat stash, she at 90% gluten free and I really don’t think she missed gluten for one minute.

I’m not saying that cutting out gluten is easy, but it is sometimes surprising at how much our food is naturally gluten-free if we just take a minute to think about our ingredients.

And now, for the pizza.

For the crust I used Pamela’s Bread Mix. The one difference I do in relation to the instructions is that I bake it for 15 minutes before putting the toppings on. I forgot to do that this time, and the middle of the pizza was very doughy and soggy. The outsides were good, and midway through I remembered the trick of baking it first. We also use the entire crust as opposed to splitting it in 2 because we eat most of the pizza and we like our crust slightly thicker than the very thin-crust pizza.

I make my own pizza sauce:
1 small can tomato paste
1 tbsp oregano
2 tbsp basil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder or 1 clove garlic minced
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tbsp rosemary

Add all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.

Bake the crust for 15 minutes at 350. While it’s baking, cut up all of your toppings, grate your cheese and then have a drink while you’re waiting.

Spread the sauce on the crust when it comes out of the oven. Add your cheese, then your toppings, then bake for 15 minutes.

When it comes out of the oven, let it sit for about 4-5 minutes. Slice with a pizza slicer and eat. Yum!

In our house everyone likes different toppings so I divide it up. My kids are still wee so they get 1/3 of the pizza and Chef Husband and I get 2/3 (I should add that we always have leftovers. It’s not like we actually EAT all that pizza in one serving).

Mr Man had chicken and cheese on his.
Miss A is a strict cheese-only girl and next time, I don’t even think I’ll put sauce on hers.
Chef Husband had onions, peppers, chicken and artichokes.
I had onions, peppers, artichokes and cherry tomatoes sliced in half.

Who needs take-out?