Monday, March 30, 2009

An Explanation

I've made reference to my allergies and food issues in my blog, but I've never explained what is going on.

I have been coughing for almost 20 years. I coughed so hard people would ask me if they could be of assistance. My bladder was shot and I couldn't sing anymore-something I love more than even sewing! I've been to doctors, here and in other cities. Nobody seemed to have an answer. My lungs were clear and I didn't have any horrible disease. I did have really bad acid reflux, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome, so they finally did surgery for the acid reflux. It helped about 30-40%, but I still coughed when I ate, and other times, too, which made me wonder about food allergies. I've had multiple allergies since I was a baby, but no doctor made the connection or even seemed to care enough to pursue that avenue. I was really at the end of my rope. I was totally over the medical community! I kept giving it to God, and just kept telling Him that I knew He had the answer.

About two months ago, I was doing some surfing on the Internet, looking for more craft and sewing blogs to read. I found a couple of blogs that not only talked about crafts, but about the fact that they had problems with gluten. A light came on! I decided that I didn't need a doctor's guidance to give up gluten for a while. Anything was worth a try!

To my amazement, I started coughing less! I quit having diarrhea, and my heartburn completely went away. I figured I was on to something, so after my trip I went to see my GP, a wonderful lady who had been as frustrated as I was, trying to figure this out. When I told her how much better I felt and asked for the RAST blood allergy test, she jumped right on the bandwagon and immediately ordered the test.

The results were astounding! The celiac tests came back negative, but I'm allergic to all the stuff that has gluten, plus a whole lot more. Avoiding the gluten meant I was avoiding some of my allergens! It's easier to keep track of what I'm NOT allergic to than what I am allergic to. Avoiding eating foods I'm allergic to has been a real test. There are very few grains I can have, and most of the stuff I like to eat like garlic and marinara sauce are completely off limits.

I've started losing a little weight, partly because I'm hungry about 50% of the time, and partly because I'm not feeding myself things that are bad for me.

After not being able to sing for a long time, I can finally sing in church again! My voice does not seem to have any permanent damage, and it's getting better and better.

I give all the credit to God, He was the one who led me to the clues that brought the answer. He is good and always takes care of us. I don't know why the food allergy thing didn't come up sooner, but that's God's timing. Maybe I wasn't ready to hear it before, and maybe I wouldn't have been so willing to totally revamp my diet before now. Whatever the reason, I give Him glory for taking care of me!

Sorry for such a long post, but when one has good news it needs to be told! Stay tuned for updates and some ideas I have about dealing with my immune system.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Bye, Miss Anna

Anna's husband and mine worked together for many years-more than thirty, I'd say. I first got to know her when I worked at McDonald's and she would come in and buy an ice tea on her way to work. In those days, the only drinks that had free refills were coffee and ice tea. Being the frugal soul she was, on the way home from work she would swing by and ask for her free refill. We resisted for a while, but she was persistent so after a while we just gave in and refilled her tea.

In later years, when she began to have grandchildren, she would invite Stan to play Santa for them. She was nuts about Christmas and spent days getting ready. Everything had to be as Christmasy as possible. One year she had a surprise for us. The previous year she had taken a careful snapshot of Santa and commissioned a good friend to paint a portrait of him. It still hangs in our house and always will.

We said goodbye to Anna yesterday. Her body was done fighting, but it was very obvious that she touched many people and her legacy will live on for many years. It will for us, and we have the visual to keep it going.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I Want Spring!

Right now it's 30 degrees Fahrenheit, there's still snow on the ground and the wind is blowing. Maybe this picture will get us in the mood for spring. My friend gave me these violas and another friend gave me the little vase.

Wish hard!!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Finished Object

Gracie's sweater is done. It's a birthday present but since her birthday isn't until April 29, she'll get it in time to wear for Easter, if her mom wants her to. It depends on if she can find a dress to match. The green is much nicer than it shows here-kind of a celery green. Just happens to be my favorite color.

The button is one from my stash. I'm 20 miles from a fabric store, so I try to use what I have. What I have is hundreds of buttons, some vintage, some from Mom's stash, some from MIL's stash. I think it makes it nicer that I can use buttons that have been passed down. That said, I think I bought this one fairly recently. Oh yeah, the pattern is from Lion Brand.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday Afternoon

Listening to music on the public radio station, watching the rain, doing the Sudoku in the Sunday paper. Watching families walk by in the rain. Waiting for the ice cream maker to finish.


Friday, March 20, 2009

More Progress

The shawl is getting there-I have 11 rows left. They're getting longer and longer, so each one takes a bit more time. It doesn't help that I had to rip a pattern row out twice! After I get it off the needles I have to decide how I'm going to finish the edges. I hate fringe, so I'll probably crochet something.

This next sewing project is a design of my own. A hint-I hated my carry-on, it wouldn't fit anywhere, under the seat or in the overhead. This will be more than just a bag, so stay tuned.

A gripe-I mentioned to a waitress at the local cafe' that I found out I had many allergies. She scoffed at the idea that allergies are anything to worry about and declared she didn't want to know if she had any. I told her she's be happy to know if something could put her into anaphalactic shock. This is the same person that said people with peanut allergies should never be allowed to fly. If she keeps it up, I will have to really chew on her. She's lucky nobody in her family has allergies. I have told her that much. Some people don't want to ever think of anyone else. She also said if someone has allergies they shouldn't ever eat in a restaurant! Grrrrrrr!

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Just got a call from my Dr. She has the preliminary results of my allergy tests. The one test that came back OK was the gluten test. However, it seems that I'm allergic to everything else. The list includes but is not limited to:

Corn, wheat, rice, tomatoes, garlic, peas (?), peanuts, and walnuts. She said she's never seen so many positive results on an allergy test in her life!

I'm going to stop by her office and pick up a complete copy of the results. She is going to request a more in-depth test as well-things that might not normally be on an allergy test. She said the reason, of course, that I felt better without gluten was because I was avoiding the allergenic foods. Yup!!

Now just what the heck am I supposed to eat?

Update: Here's the full list of positives: Corn, garlic, peas, orange, peanut, rice, soybean, tomato (my worst allergy), walnuts, and wheat. In addition, she has called and requested that they test the sample for rye and oats,

This is going to take some creativity!

The good news? I am NOT, I repeat NOT allergic to chocolate!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

This One is a Yum!

First, I have to tell you my doctor finally ordered a full panel food allergy test, plus the celiac and gluten sensitivity tests. We just might have some answers-it takes a couple of weeks, so stay tuned for an update. I hear that the gluten tests might come out with a false negative if you haven't had gluten in a while-sure a good thing I had those beignets in New Orleans!

Until then I'm staying gluten-free. With that in mind, here is a recipe for everybody's favorite cookie, chocolate chips. This is a recipe that I had already altered to have less sugar and fat.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookes
1 C butter, softened
1 1/4 C brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 C quinoa flour
1 C rice flour
1 tsp soda
1 tsp salt
12 oz chocolate chips

Cream butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Stir together dry ingredients, mix into butter mixture. Stir in chips. Using a 2 tablespoon scoop, place on greased cookie sheet and flatten slightly. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.

These are cakey, soft, delicate cookies. They taste much better than the recipes I've used that have bean flours and the quinoa makes them rise nicely. Sometimes I mix in a tablespoon or so of milled flaxseed.

Makes about 4-5 dozen cookies.

Monday, March 16, 2009


I really need some spring!!!

It was awful to drive in, too.

Wait! Is that the sun?

Probably not.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Grandma Caved

All it takes is a clearance sale at Target and two little boys that are crazy about that certain McQueen character and you have Grandma opening her wallet.

They kind of look like they're waiting for the boys to show up, don't they?

Old Man Wiggle

On the cruise, I noticed an elderly gentleman who seemed to be traveling alone. He was in a wheelchair and walked it all over the ship with his feet. His table was next to ours at dinner, and that's when I saw the handwritten name tag, "Old Man Wiggle." My SIL politely asked him how old he was. He said, "Honey. I'm 97 years old."

She asked about his hat-he had a "Retired Coast Guard" cap that was covered with cruise ship pins. (The kind you get as a repeat cruiser) Turns out he's been cruising for 25 years, first with his wife, then after she passed away he started going alone. "How often do you go?" one of us asked him. "Once a month-I'd go more if I could afford it!"

As the week went by more of his story came out. The crew knew and loved him well. Every cruise he tells jokes and sings in the talent show. Between meals he plays the penny slots in the casino. Don't know for sure how he came by his nickname, but we heard his waiter call him "Mr. Wiggins."

After his wife died, he sold his house, moved into a retirement community, and put the money in the bank to use to pay for his cruises. His daughter told him he should save his money so his two kids could have an inheritance. His son told him to spend the money-it was his after all. His daughter died two years ago at the age of 75. He said, "Guess she didn't need the inheritance as much as she thought!" He was really quite the celebrity-by the end of the cruise, many people had their pictures taken with Mr. Wiggle.

Mr. Wiggle has taught me so much. Never again will I allow the little things in life to keep me from doing what I want to and going where I want to. If he can budget a cruise every month, I can budget a couple of getaways a year. If he can do exactly what he wants to do with his life, then by golly I can too! The possibilities have just become endless! As a former pastor always said, "As long as you can still fog a mirror..........." You fill in the blanks.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


I started this before we left so I would have something to work on on the plane. It's just Red Heart, but it's really a pretty yarn and will wash well. What can I say-I was in Walmart and we were leaving soon, and I was getting desperate because I couldn't decide what to make!

I hate circular needles, but I gritted my teeth and put the project on a circular so the TSA would approve, but at the last minute I chickened out and shoved everything into the side pocket of my checked bag. Didn't matter anyway, since I have to take Dramamine and I slept through every single flight we were on. I only knitted three rows and that was in the hotel in New Orleans.

This is the triangle shawl pattern, "Feathers and Fans" from Ravelry. I love this pattern, this one is for me but I see three shawls for three DILs at Christmas. You can see I've already put it back on straight needles. I don't know how long that will last-I want the thing pretty big, so I may have to knuckle down and get out the circular again. I'm using size 10 1/2 needles (US) and it goes really fast. This pattern has tons of freedom. You can use any yarn and any size needle, just figure out your gauge and how many stitches it would take to make it as wide as you are tall. If I keep it up it might be ready for spring!

Friday, March 13, 2009


Our friends, Wayne and Connie, took care of Chloe while we were gone. Wayne and Connie have a menagerie and love having Chloe join the fun. Chloe has a best friend at their house-Tucker the cat. She and Tucker play together, eat together, sleep together. They are inseparable!

Since we brought her home she's done nothing but lay on the back of Stan's recliner and stare out the window. She really misses her best buddy!

I informed her this morning that I was NOT getting her a cat! I guess we'll have to arrange a playdate!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Cruse Ship Food

First I want to say that Carnival cruise line is fantastic at dealing with special diets! They smoothly handled my gluten free requests, with no complaint and with delicious results. I had lamb, cheesecake, grilled red snapper, creme brulee', chocolate melting cake (extremely decadent), prime rib that melted in my mouth. They provided gluten free bread that was pretty good. Every evening, just before dessert, the hostess would bring me the next night's menu and I could choose whatever I wanted and they would make it gluten free. I don't know if other cruise lines are so accomodating, but Carnival certainly is.

We ate in the dining room for dinner, but used the buffet for breakfast and lunch. I could find enough to eat there without consuming gluten so that worked out, too. We kind of got overwhelmed by all the eating, so by the last day we were eating ice cream for lunch and nothing else. Compund that with climbing stairs I came home a couple of pounds lighter. We only used the elevator if Grandma and Irene were with us. You don't have to gain 20 pounds on a cruise ship. I did see some people eating enough for three, but I think they were the exception. There was fruit and vegetables, salads, yogurt, and other low calorie snacks that one could eat if you wanted to eat lean.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Another One Off the List

Another entry in my "bucket list" is visiting New Orleans. How convenient that our cruise left from New Orleans! We spent one night before the cruise and one night after. We had a decent amount of time to take in the sights.

Of course we walked down Bourbon Street:

We wanted to eat lunch in the Acme Oyster Bar, which was featured on the Travel Channel, but the line went way around the block, so we went across the street to Felix's Fish House. My SIL got to have the oyster po-boy she'd been craving. I had some pretty good blackened shrimp. It was full of flavor but not screaming hot.

The two mornings we were there, we ate at Cafe DuMonde. They have legendary chicory cafe' au lait and beignets:

Yes, I fell off the gluten bandwagon for this, but I didn't suffer too badly, just wheezed a little. There must be a half pound of powdered sugar on these things. They were heavenly. A lady at a table behind us picked up her plate after finishing her beignets and with a spoon ate all the remaining powdered sugar. Ugggggggh! By the way, World Market carries both the chicory coffee and the beignet mix.

We visited Jackson Square, a tribute to Andrew Jackson. The St. Louis Cathedral is there-the oldest church in the United States:

Walked the Riverwalk and checked out the riverboat. We could have ridden, complete with lunch and entertainment for $30 but decided that we could save our money:
We walked around as much as we could, given my MIL being 93 and my SIL recovering from chemo. Grandma actually held out better than Irene. Stan and I could have walked for hours and hours (one of our favorite shared activities), but they couldn't do nearly as much walking. We spent quite a bit more on cabs than we would have otherwise, just so the two ladies could see the sights without pooping out too quickly. I wish we could have hired a cab to take us around the Denver airport. That place is brutal! But that's a story for another time.

One unexpected treat came when Stan and I decided to leave the ladies to people watch in the Riverwalk park and we walked a little further down the Mississippi. We found a Holocaust memorial right there on the river in Woldenberg Park. The center structure was set up so depending on where you stood, you saw a different image, each one meaning something different. Here is the website and an explanation of the different positions. A few of my pics of the memorial:

The first is, of course, the Star of David; the second a menorah; the third has six colors to represent the six million Jews that died in the Holocaust, with the seventh color representing the others that fell victim to the Third Reich and Nazi hate.

We ate at a restaurant across the street from the hotel-called Luke. Pretty good upscale German food. The ladies had gotten too tired for more French Quarter, so this was our compromise. It's a good restaurant/pub with super service.

Why didn't we eat more Cajun food? We have a place in Bozeman that's owned by a man from New Orleans that serves all of the best in Cajun food. We decided to go for fish instead, something that's kind of hard to get fresh here in Montana.

A nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live somewhere that you had to rebuild your home every so many years.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Scratch this one off my Bucket List

When we docked in Progresso we had a chance to take a short excursion to the Mayan ruins of Dzibilchaltun. This is something I've always wanted to do. And...I was determined to climb all the way up the Temple of the Seven Dolls....and I did! (Ignore the German tourist in the sombrero behind me!)

This temple is a fascinating tribute to the Mayans' intellect and ingenuity. The windows on both sides are constructed in such a way that at solstice, exactly at sunrise, the sun shines through the center door onto these structures a half mile away:

During Equinox the rising sun shines through the side windows onto the pillars. Smart people!

All this has just made me hungry for more exploring!

We're Back, but First.......

We came home to the terrible news that four buildings had exploded in downtown Bozeman. Five businesses were destroyed, all in over 100-year-old buildings. Worst of all was the loss of a life, Tara Bowman, the manager of the art gallery that was destroyed. I didn't know Tara, but my heart goes out to her family, especially her young husband.

My DIL's sis works just a block from the disaster, and in fact was on the corner when it happened. How scary!

The cause was ruptured gas lines. All those lines are close to the same age as the buildings. Hopefully there was no foul play. There was another gas line explosion about a year ago downtown, and the word is that line was actually cut.

Anyway, I'll be posting pics soon, maybe even today, but I had to post this first.

Some pictures of the disaster: