Saturday, January 29, 2011

Gluten-Free Foods I Love (or at least like)

Since I made a whiny post about foods I miss, I figured I'd focus on the positive today and post some gluten-free foods I absolutely love (or at least like).

1. Eggs

I was never a huge fan of eggs before my celiac diagnosis but now I love them. They're high in protein and other nutrients, and they are VERY versatile! In fact, my husband is making us omelettes (along with thick-cut bacon, mmm) at this very moment!

2. Cheese

Before I was diagnosed, I thought that lactose intolerance was what was causing all my stomach/intestinal issues. Though I was relatively sure of this, I refused to give up dairy. I have loved cheese since I was a wee babe and this has only continued into adulthood. Provolone, Monterey jack, cheddar, goat cheese, mozzarella, brie, camembert...makes my mouth water to even think about it. I joke with Rob that I would inject cheese straight into my veins if I could.

3. Tinkyada pasta

Talk to most people who eat gluten-free and you'll find that generally they each have their preferences brand-wise. I have a friend who prefers Schar pasta, but Tinkyada is my (and my husband's) favorite by far. Difficult to overcook and not mushy at all, this pasta tastes incredibly close to real pasta, something even my gluten-loving husband agrees with.

4. Glutino Crackers

These are a wee bit of a guilty pleasure for me since they aren't particularly nutritious. But even gluten-freers need something unhealthy every now and then, right? Glutino crackers taste remarkably like "real" crackers and are absolutely delectable with goat cheese.

5. Udi's Bread

I could sing the praises of Udi's bread all day. Most gluten-free bread needs to be frozen and then toasted or microwaved; however, the magic of Udi's is that it can be taken out of the freezer for about a week (around the same shelf-life as "real" bread) and tastes infinitely better/more realistic than any other gluten-free breads I have tried. I love Udi's so much that my mother buys it for me in New Hampshire and ships it, since we don't have a store that sells it locally.

6. TastyBite Microwavable Indian Meals

These meals are amazing. They come in pouches that you can easily microwave or cook on the stovetop. TastyBite meals (particularly Bombay Potatoes) have gotten me through a lot of potentially hungry situations - I always carried one in my suitcase while traveling in case I got stuck at a hotel with no gluten-free options, and when I traveled to Boston with my in-laws (again unsure of the GF situation) I packed about 5 of these so I'd always have dinner. These are specifically marked gluten-free and have all-natural ingredients.

7. Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Brownie Mix

As you have probably ascertained, I am not a person who went gluten-free by choice in order to eat healthier. I was forced because gluten physically destroys the lining of my intestine and could cause health problems later in life, including colon cancer, diabetes, and infertility. In contrast with a lot of people who go gluten-free, I tend to pursue what tastes good over what is the most healthy. Hence, these brownies. I undercook them a tiny bit (for 27 minutes rather than 29) and they come out moist, fudgy and delicious. I made them for a family event and they were eaten quicker than brownies made from my grandmother's recipe.

Any other gluten-freers have brands that you love?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Life, and a few pictures here and there

The last few days have been pretty busy. I got a ton of work assignments and spent the week plugging through those.

Last weekend I went back to the tattoo shop, where my artist spent 5 1/2 hours on the poppies on my arm. So my arm looks a little bit less like a giant burning bruise now that it has bright red flowers, but it is still decidedly incomplete-looking. Maybe I'll post a picture once it's done peeling...looks pretty damaged right now. Now that I've started this tattoo it's inspired me to begin thinking of other designs. My goal is to be at least moderately tattooed by the time I decide to stop...whenever that might be.

Things with Robbie have been lovely. I've loved being able to spend more time with him as I've been working from home. We've officially canceled two upcoming vacations for various reasons which bums me out, but we're also big homebodies. Sometimes I worry how we don't actually DO anything aside from sitting at home. Combine my anxiety with his army-induced desire to avoid crowds of people means that being home is typically a lot easier than braving the great outdoors. I just worry that we're not living our life to the fullest before children come (whenever that may be).

Other than that life has been moving forward as boring-ly as always.

I can't wait until summer, running in the sand and swimming and having hands that don't crack and bleed.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Foods I miss

In early June, I was diagnosed with celiac disease and, following a celebratory meal at Ruby Tuesday's I have completely ceased to eat gluten (at least intentionally). And while a lot of people switch to gluten-free by choice, or with at least some ease, mine has been a little bit maddening. There are some foods that I always turned to and that I absolutely loved. Perhaps a little unhealthy, but what can I say, there it is.

That all said I thought I was chronicle the foods that I miss the most.

1. Pizza

Though I'm sure it exists, I have yet to find a gluten-free pizza that is as delicious, greasy, and amazing as mainstream pizza. Rob and I used to nom on Digiorno Four-Cheese Thick-Crust pizza and we haven't now for close to 8 months. Pizza was also really convenient for me as a consultant, since I could always grab a slice of Sbarro at the airport.

2. Lipton Noodle Soup

This was something my sisters and I ate constantly as children, so it's a big comfort food for me. Clearly it has noodles in it which makes it off-limits but I still crave it relatively constantly.

3. Lipton Herb and Butter Rice

This is yet another childhood comfort food. I thought it would be alright, since it's rice and rice is naturally gluten-free, but for some reason the company sees fit to put pilaf in it which has wheat and semolina. Sigh.

5. Tomato Soup with Saltines

When Rob and I first started dating, we spent a lot of time hanging out at his house (since it was closer to our high school). Rob would always make me Campbell's Tomato Soup (which has wheat flour) with saltines (which basically are solely made of wheat flour). I would crush up about a billion of them in my soup and it was absolutely delicious. This is yet another comfort meal.

I'm sure there are more but these are my top five. Maybe in another post I'll list gluten-free fod that I do enjoy. :)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Caitlin and Rob, 8 Years

I saw this on another blog I read and I thought it would be fun to do (and a nice walk down memory lane). My husband and I have been together for eight years, since December 28, 2002, and our adventures have been well-documented photographically. So, I give to you, Rob and Caitlin through the years...

This is our first picture together and maybe my favorite. This is shortly after we got together in '02. I was nearing my 17th birthday and Rob, his 18th.

Christmas 2003, nearing our 1-year anniversary together.

This picture makes me a little bit sad - this was taken around Easter, 2004...just weeks before Rob left for the Army. Boy, would I like to go back and have a talk with me about what to expect...

I don't have many other pictures of us from 2004, and the ones I do have are all in 'real' format rather than digital. So this one is from August 2005, during one of Rob's leave times from the Army.

Us in Alaska (where Rob was stationed), October 2005.

Look at my awesome hair and stomach! HA. Anyway this picture was taken in my dorm room in September 2006, just a month before Rob deployed to Iraq.

It was hard to pick a picture from midtour leave (June 2007) since we took so many, but this one made me smile so I chose it. This was taken on my dad's pontoon boat during Rob's 2-week break from Iraq. This was both a joyous time, as we hadn't seen each other in 8 months, and a horrific time since when we said goodbye this time, we knew how hard we'd have it for another 6 months.

He's home! This is me and Robbie at my mother's for Christmas, 2007.

Skipping ahead a wee bit - this was taken Summer 2008, after I had graduated and Rob had ETSd, and we were free from the binds that kept us apart for four years. We moved in together in May 2008.
This is Rob and I at his brother's wedding, June 14, 2009. I love this picture of us despite the fact that my husband is absolutely wasted here...

Skipping ahead once again to our wedding day, July 10, 2010...the happiest day of my life so far.
So there you have it, a photographic essay of US. :)

Busy week

This week I agreed to come to Boston with my sister-in-law, Jessi (Rob's brother's wife) as she gets a prophylactic mastectomy. She already had her cancerous breast removed last year, but this is a preemptive strike to prevent a recurrence. Anyway last night we drove in the blinding snow/sleet/freezing rain at 35 mph on the highway to catch a train to Boston. Thankfully we made it and we were up early this morning to go to the hospital. Jessi's in surgery right now and if everything goes as planned, she should be out tomorrow! This would truly be a blessing since her past hospitalizations and surgeries have been nothing short of disastrous (nothing life-threatening, just a series of unfortunate events). So for those of you reading, please keep her in your thoughts (or prayers if you're a praying kind of person).

Other than that, Adam called yesterday and told me that he now has this Friday free and Saturday free, and that we probably could tackle the poppies in my tattoo. Still not sure if it'll work out, since I may still be in Boston, but would definitely be cool if we could work on it two weeks earlier than previously thought.

I wanted to share this picture of my husband, who made a delicious brinner for us this week, including omelettes with cheese, onion and mushroom and thick-cut bacon.

My husband is awesome. :)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Half-Sleeve Session #1

So on Saturday I wandered on down to ye old tattoo parlor to start my lovely half sleeve I talked about a few posts ago. Here is the [frickinamazing] design my tattoo artist came up with:

Adam Gordon of Mr. Adam's Tattoos, Farmington, ME

So gorgeous. I love the colors and the dimensions, absolutely everything. We talked about it and I think it'll take around 3 sessions, maybe more but hopefully not.

I spent around five hours in the chair which blew by like nothing. We managed to get a greyish outline of everything (since most of the tattoo isn't going to be with harsh black lines, just a vague outline so he can see everything) and a few accents here and there (the paratroopers, the insides of the flowers, parts of the plane, etc.). Suffice it to say, it doesn't look absolutely fabulous right now...kind of like a big bruise with black marks, but you can totally tell that it's going to be the most amazing thing ever regardless and so I don't mind showing it off!

I have to wait for A MONTH to get the next part done. My artist was pretty bummed that he had some event going on at the three-week mark, so we had to push it to Saturday, February 5. I've never realized how impatient I am until right now. He said that next we'll work on the blue of the sky and maybe the plane, and on the last session fill in the flowers and do any other touch-ups that are needed. SO EXCITED. I'm hoping to kind of chronicle this journey here so that I have it to look back on later.
Funny story: there was a girl that came in just after me to get her very first tattoo - the medical symbol with the word "Diabetes" on it since she is a diabetic. We were kind of chilling out while Adam and Doug drew our respective designs into stencils, and her mother asked "Is this your first tattoo as well?" I grinned and said, "No, my seventh." Doug, the artist who did the birds on my left shoulder said something like "Don't be fooled by her, she's peppered with tattoos, you just can't see them!" That's why I'm excited for this one - my first truly visible tattoo :)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Book Recommendations

I realized that though I am an avid reader I have never really talked about books on my blog. So, as we head into this weekend, I offer you, my 3-4 (or fewer) readers a book recommendation list!

1. In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote

I don't think other people are as into true-crime books as I am, but this is still my favorite book so I'll put it on this list. I've read this 4 or 5 times since college and I still love reading it to this day. It's a pretty sad book (you know the plot if you've seen the movie "Capote") but I really like the perspective it gives on both murderer and victim. I have a first-edition copy of this book AND a copy on my Nook.

2. Under the Banner of Heaven, by Jon Krakauer

This is probably my second favorite book after "In Cold Blood." It is both a true-crime story and a reflection on Mormonism, Fundamentalist Mormonism and faith in general. It's a fascinating look at the origins of Mormonism. I know that some in the Mormon community have denounced certain facts in this book or complained about anti-faith bias, but if you read this book for what it is (a book written by an avid researcher but not a historian) you really can appreciate it. The crime behind the story (two fundamentalist Mormons brutally murder a woman and her 15-month old daughter claiming they received a revelation from God) is absolutely horrifying.

3. The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold

I've read this book twice - once in high school or college and another this past year. When I read it the second time, I started in an airport and found myself crying at my gate within the first 50 pages. A wonderful book with lovely language and fantastic imagery.

4. Little Bee by Chris Cleave

I read this in one travel day. It's a fictional account of a young woman whose village in Africa is attacked and who ends up in England. In England she connects with a British woman she actually had met in Africa. It was a really well-written, emotionally-charged book and I couldn't put it down.

5. Sh*t My Dad Says, by Justin Halpern

I bought this book on my nook just for a good laugh, but when I started reading it I realized it's actually a lot deeper than I thought. I really enjoyed reading the stories about he and his dad and the hilarious quotes after each anecdote, and I particularly enjoyed seeing the connection between him and his father.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

About as Crafty as I get

I am not a crafty person. I salivate at blogs like Apartment Therapy, Hipster Housewife, etc. and marvel at how these people can take a milk container, a few lengths of ribbon and a boiled egg and can somehow make a gorgeous entertainment center with nifty shelves and baskets and crap.

I rack my brain trying to come up with ways to manage our enormous piles of clutter. Though I am only 24 and my husband only 25, we have somehow accrued so much CLUTTER that our tiny little apartment is jam-packed. I feel claustrophobic on a daily basis and I end up scouring websites and blogs all over the interwebs trying to find ways to manage it all.

One thing I found the other day were two relatively large boxes, each filled with the letters we received from each other during the four years we were apart. When Rob was in Basic, we had no way to communicate for 16 weeks aside from letters. Sometimes I would write him 2, 3, 4 letters in a single day...and I would wait impatiently by the mailbox every day for a letter from him, which he wrote when he should have been sleeping. Once he graduated Basic in July '04, he had a little more freedom and we both got cell phones, but we never stopped writing letters.

An interesting note: we actually wrote far fewer letters when Rob was in Iraq. I attribute this to the fact that the deployment was so difficult on both of us that the words didn't need to be said anymore. We both knew, unequivocably, that we were in love and that nothing would tear us apart. The words became unnecessary, is the only way I can explain it.

Anyway, here are our boxes of letters from high school through his time in Alaska (January 2003-Summer 2006):

Any idea which one's mine and which is his? I'll give you a hint - mine is the one where the letters are clearly grouped by date range.

I realized that I wanted to use these letters for some sort of decoration idea in our house. As it is they sit in a box and we never read them - some haven't even been opened yet because they were sent at a time when Rob was really busy (we decided to keep the unopened so that our children or grandchildren can read them someday). While I want to preserve and protect them, I also want to enjoy them. So Rob and I came up with a few ideas and I've put them into action (keep in mind that this took little talent):

Idea one: Rob thought it would be cool to gather envelopes with different to/from addresses, since we both were at so many different addresses. Rob was in Georgia, Alaska, then Iraq; Caitlin was in various Maine locations and Wisconsin. This one isn't complete because we need to dig out a few of the letters I wrote to Rob while he was in Iraq.

Idea two: This was also Rob's idea. We took a bunch of different letters in different sizes, two of mine and two of his, and folded them together to create a no-glue, no-cut collage. I found a letter written on yellow paper and a letter written on a small notepad to make it a little bit more interesting.

Idea three: This was actually my first idea. I took a single letter that Rob had written to me in high school and framed it. It's in a place in our bedroom that isn't immediately seen by anyone who walks in, so it's more of a personal decoration.

My next plan is to get an even bigger frame, maybe 11x14, and add even more letters. Then we'll hang them all next to each other in our bedroom (we're thinking above our bed) and put the rest of the letters away for later viewing.

So that's it, the absolute apex of my creativity. Any other fun creative ideas with love letters? I take submissions!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Getting back into blogging

I decided to start this blog with a picture:

I created a 365 Photos blog for 2011 and I decided to mostly use my cell phone rather than stressing over using the Nikon D60. I want to make sure I don't get burned out on the project and am easily able to take a picture each day. It's been an interesting experience.

Robbie and I had a rather eventful day. I am no longer on my Houston project and am therefore working from home for the foreseeable future. This has its ups and its downs, since working from home takes a lot of motivations and can lead to a lot of frustration and boredom (at least in my experience). Anyway, today we took the dog to the vet because of goopy-eye syndrome (pink eye, we think). She did very well and we were proud pet-parents.

I have been struggling over whether or not to buy this book:

The book is "Encyclopedia for the Art and History of Tattoing" by Henk Schiffmacher. Basically one giant comprehensive encyclopedic bible of tattoos written by probably the most famous tattoo historian in the world. I finally caved in and bought it despite the $100 price tag because it seemed like an absolutely awesome addition to our home (especially the coffee table, I'm thinking).

Though I got my first tattoo at age 20 I've found myself even more excited about them of late, specifically with my lady tattoo I got in October. Tattoos to me (despite having only a few myself) feel "right." It feels like some sort of deep-seeded urge that I can't explain or justify, necessarily. I just love how they look, how I feel with them. It's hard to put into words, so I'm going to use this answer to a FAQ by might as rella that really struck me:

Are tattoos addictive?

I'm gonna say no. Not physically. In fact, I'd say not at all. I think that it's somewhere deep in human nature to get cavemen did it, and cultures around the world have been doing it forever, and we are just living in an extremely repressive society in that regard. I think the 'addictiveness' comes from getting a tattoo and realizing that it's not such a big deal. You just kind of cross the line, from not having tattoos to having one, and then why the hell not get more? Yeah, that's my weird answer to that question. Or maybe I'm wrong and people love endorphins and being totally cool or some shit. I'm no expert.

Other than these things life has been pretty boring. My husband is on vacation so it's been nice spending all our time together. He has started taking me to the gym with him and has served as my unpaid personal trainer. I feel amazing and I can't wait to go every actual non-destructive thing on which I can focus my obsessive energy. Only problem is, he kicked my ass the last two days and I literally can't move today for pain. I'm hoping I get to go tomorrow but if I'm still sore I might just lay in bed.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Newest Tattoo

After getting the tattoo I talk about below (which turned out really well) I was motivated finally to go for an upper arm tattoo (a half-sleeve). This was a difficult decision to come to, as I have a corporate job that does not look kindly upon visible body modifications. However, I spoke to a few professional mentors, my husband, and most importantly, myself, and realized that this was the right decision at the right time.

Then came the design. I knew I wanted something in a vintage sort of style, perhaps war-related in some fashion. The idea of paratroopers came to mind, as my husband jumped out of airplanes in the Army. He spent 13 months in Iraq, during one of the most tumultuous times in the war and in what was at the time the most dangerous area in Iraq. I have a lot of pride in my husband and what he did, and I feel that it shaped both him and me, as well as our relationship and our marriage.

So I had the plane and the paratroopers, but I needed a way to tie it all together. A good friend of mine suggested poppies, a flower that is typically associated with World War I and, more recently, soldiers who are killed in action or just military service in general. I thought the red poppies would be a great pop of color, and initially thought that the tattoo would be predominantly grey, black, and red.
I gave my artist the following collage:

I wanted the plane to be a C-47, the plane that WWII paratroopers jumped out of, as sort of an homage to military members past (including my grandfather, who served as a doctor in World War II).

On the 28th I revisted my tattoo artist, who had come up with a design. I wish wish wish I had taken a picture of it, but I didn't want him to think I was "stealing" it or being obnoxious, so whoever reads this will just have to wait! :)

Anyway the design he created was even more amazing than I could've ever thought. Describing it can't really do it justice...basically, the perspective is looking up from a field of poppies to a plane overhead with paratroopers falling from the plane. My artist is super excited, as am I!

My first of maybe 3-4 sessions is next Saturday and I couldn't be happier. :)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Goodbye, 2010.

Well 2010 was a pretty big year in our home. I was gone for most of the year for work, we got married, Rob ended his sophomore year and began his junior, I worked my ass off in a project in Houston, got a tattoo (the one listed below - came out GREAT and was an extremely spiritual experience for me), celebrated holidays together, laughed, cried, and enjoyed life.

I would have to say that 2010 was one of the best years of my life, but 2011 can only get better. This year I'm working on getting into shape and loving my body, focusing on our marriage and making sure we're ready for whatever comes next, and becoming more positive about my life in general.

Also, I'm about a week away from getting my biggest and most awesome tattoo...a great start to a (hopefully) great year!

By the way, I started a new 365 Photos Blog at Check it out!

Happy New Year all!