Thursday, July 28, 2011

First Days Gluten Free

Well, I've made it a full 48 hours being gluten free.  I'm happy to report that I've had just about zero digestive issues (which is pointing toward YES I have a gluten problem) and that I've somehow not starved yet.  Suffered and drooled over bread?  Oh yes.  But not gone hungry.  At least not for too long.

Tuesday when I decided to give up gluten, I made a mad dash to the grocery store when I realized that 90% of the items in our pantry are not gluten-free.  That trip was a bit overwhelming.  I headed straight to the Kroger organic section to begin my search, and quickly realized that all the gluten-free items were randomly dispersed among the gluten-filled items.  I had choices from like two boxes of cereal, three types of cookies, two types of pasta noodles, and two types of bread.  At least from what I could find in the mix.  I was on a tight timeline, so no time for advanced searching.  I grabbed a few items of each and headed home after paying $432.67 at the checkout.  (Exaggeration. But not far off.)

The first thing I attempted to eat was the bread.  Um...can I say cardboard???  Seriously.  Tasted and felt like cardboard.  I couldn't even finish my sandwich.  (Fortunately since then I have read that there are good brands and bad brands of gluten free bread.  I'm going to pray I was eating a bad brand.)

Then I took a bite into some cookies.  Very crumbly, but very good.  Thank goodness. I was not going to have to go cookie-less.

The next morning (yesterday) I tried eating my gluten-free rice-krispie-type cereal, and after one bite announced to Dave, "Cardboard".  I then had him take a bite.  His response?  "I think I'd put some sugar on that."  Me - "Do you think it tastes like cardboard?" Him - "Yes."

Fortunately, I can eat all the fruits and veggies and meat I want.  (As long as there is no breading, and as long as I'm not dipping it in a sauce or dip that contains gluten.)  Yesterday for lunch I had leftover rotisserie chicken, three different colors of tomatoes, and carrots dipped in ranch sauce that I ensured was gluten-free.  Then I had some of those yummy gluten-free cookies for dessert.  I actually felt pretty satiated.

Last night at dinner was a different story.  We met our church small group at a local Italian restaurant.  I was thrilled to read ahead of time that they served most of their dishes with gluten-free pasta for an extra dollar.  When we got there, I asked the waiter what pasta came gluten-free.  He said all of it, very matter-of-factly.  To which I responded, "Ravioli?"  "No," he said, "Not ravioli.  But anything else."  I didn't want lasagna, but just to find out I said, "Lasagna?"  "Nope," he responded, again in a very matter-of-fact tone.  No apology, no 'here let me specify which is available', no nothing.  Just "Nope", like hello I should know this stuff.  Despite the fact that he had just told me that all the pasta came gluten free.  So I ordered penne alla casa.  Then I sat and watched as everyone else at my table indulged in buttery garlicy appetizer bread.  My stomach rumbled and gurgled, begging for bread.  But I resisted.  When the food finally arrived about 45 minutes later (yes, really it was that long), the waiter placed a plate with spaghetti noodles in front of me.  I sat and stared at it dumbfounded for a moment, then said to Dave, "Didn't I order penne??"  After my husband confirmed that I did in fact order penne (ya never know, I could have been confused), I asked the waiter about it.  Whattayaknow, those are the gluten-free noodles they have, and that's what I get.  Um, wouldn't that have been something to mention WHEN I WAS ORDERING AND ASKING WHAT KINDS OF PASTA CAME GLUTEN-FREE????  A simple statement of "the only noodles we have gluten-free are spaghetti noodles, but we will be happy to substitute them into any dish for you" would have been perfectly appropriate and MUCH NICER.  But no, heaven FORBID he be kind and just tell me everything up front.  Leave it to the newly gluten-free (and very frustrated and hungry) girl to figure it out on her own.  Let her struggle through the menu, then receive a dinner that looks nothing like what she ordered.  I mean, cuz it's not like she's paying EXTRA for this gluten-free dinner or anything.


Ok, yes, I know I am complaining.  And I know we just discussed complaining in my Bible study on Tuesday night and I am not supposed to complain because it is sinful and just makes me ungrateful for the things I have.  So I will stop now.  I am going to justify the writing of this post by saying that I needed to document my first couple of days gluten free.  Because, you know, documentation of life is important.   (And by the way, is it gluten-free or gluten free?  When do I add the "-"?)

So, to start talking about positive things again, I would like to report that the spaghetti-not-penne meal was in fact very tasty, and I couldn't tell one bit that it was gluten free.  I ate the leftovers for lunch today and it was still delicious.  So I'd probably go back to that restaurant to get my Italian carb fix...and pray ahead of time that I get a different waiter.

Alright, time to be off and get to my packing.  We are headed to Philly in the morning for a wedding.  But before I go I want to send a huge THANK YOU to all the friends who have emailed and corresponded with me over the last couple of days to help me along my gluten-free endeavor.  You've made the short but difficult journey already so much easier with lots of advice, tips, and support.  So thank you. :)

And maybe tonight I'll sip on some tea while I'm packing.  Ya know, my green tea that very conveniently says on the box "GLUTEN FREE".  (Check your box - it probably says it, too.)  Why, thank you manufacturer of my green tea. :)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Gluten Be Gone

I've been having a lot of digestive issues lately. In reality, I've been having problems for years, but the problems have been especially severe the last six months or so. After discussing my past attempts at remedies and other possible solutions with my doctor last week, she suggested I may want to try a gluten free diet to see if I have a gluten intolerance.

I must be honest...I kinda blew off her advice. It sounded so extreme. It would require so much work. And I figured since my symptoms come and go, that couldn't be what it was. Because wouldn't I be sick ALL the time, like every day?

Fast forward to today. When I finally decided to do some reading. And discovered that actually, it IS extreme, but it's also really important. Because if I have a gluten intolerance and continue to put gluten into my body, I could be doing a lot of damage to my body. Not just temporary damage, but long term damage. And not only that, but the symptoms can come and go, just as mine are. Some people don't even show a lot of obvious symptoms, while internally their body is really struggling.

What really caught my attention was when I filled out the following questionnaire:

Do any of the following apply to you?
Weight gain
Unexplained fatigue
Difficulty relaxing, feel tense frequently
Unexplained digestive problems
Female hormone imbalances, (PMS, menopausal symptoms)
Muscle or joint pain or stiffness of unknown cause
Migraine like headaches
Food allergies/sensitivities
Difficulty digesting dairy products
Tendency to over consume alcohol
Overly sensitive to physical and emotional pain, cry easily
Cravings for sweets, bread, carbohydrates
Tendency to overeat sweets, bread, carbohydrates
Abdominal pain or cramping
Abdominal bloating or distention
Intestinal gas
“Love” specific foods
Eat when upset, eat to relax
Constipation or diarrhea of no known cause
Unexplained skin problems/rashes
Difficulty gaining weight

Have you suffered from any of the following conditions?
Osteoporosis/bone loss
Iron deficiency/anemia
Chronic fatigue
Irritable bowel syndrome
Crohn’s disease
Ulcerative colitis
Lactose intolerance

I got a pretty high number of "Yes" responses, so I also had Dave fill out the questionnaire for me. I wanted to make sure I wasn't just getting hyped up and being a crazy self-diagnoser.

He counted 11.

Guess what the scoring sheet says.

Test Interpretation Guide (combine both sections)
Number of “Yes” Responses = Potential for Gluten Intolerance
4 or less = Not likely
5 – 8 = Suspected
9 or more = Very likely

Hm. Not what I wanted to read.

(Check out the full questionnaire and some very helpful information about gluten intolerance here:

I probably wouldn't have been as eager to jump on this bandwagon had I not already gone through all the other giant possibilities for my health issues.  None of the other big diagnoses fit.  Foods that should upset my stomach don't, foods that shouldn't do.  I was getting sick at times that it just made no sense.

So I've decided that I will be trying the gluten-free diet for a while.  One recommendation I read was two months.  (Ouch.)  If in fact I have a gluten intolerance, my intestine should be healed by that point and my symptoms should be alleviated.  If that's the case, then I'm to remain gluten-free for the rest of my life. (OUCH.)  And if I am gluten-intolerant and choose to ignore it and continue to just eat gluten?  Well, I could be facing a lot of digestive issues and also predisposing myself to muscle cramps, hormonal issues, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, lactose intolerance, fatigue, weight gain, and food allergies to just name a few.  That's a whole slew of stuff that is NOT worth having my Oreo cookie or bowl of Cheerios in the morning.

I'll try to provide updates on how the diet goes.  My digestive issues have actually been a lot better the last day or two, and I felt a mix of surprise, relief, and sadness when I realized that my diet has incidentally been very low in gluten over the last two days.  It would be great to have an answer, but I must be honest and admit that this is not the answer I wanted.  I was hoping for a quick fix, a medicine.  Not a permanent rest-of-my-life diet change.  If you know me, you know I like to eat.  Especially carbs and sugars.  What oh what is this girl gonna do??

I'll tell you what I'm gonna do.  I'm going to follow God's instruction to try this diet.  He's been throwing tidbits or reminders about this diet in my directions quite a bit lately, and I've been ignoring it until today.  But now it's time to listen.  And if this is His answer to my prayers to be healed, then this is His answer and I will accept it with a grateful and content heart.

But whew.  No Oreos??

Monday, July 25, 2011

Bridal Shower!

On Sunday a bunch of us threw a bridal shower for my wonderful friend Kristin, who is getting married to the awesome Joey on September 17th.  It was a wonderful shower, with yummy food, fun games, and great company. :)

The cupcakes that Debbie ordered for the shower were AMAZING!!

Get your own fancy cupcakes at Bitsy Bakes!

Happy almost-wedding Kristin!! Love you! :)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Friday, July 22, 2011

Girls' Craft Night!

My friend Erin invited me to a girls' craft night last night at her friend Katie's house. Complete with craft supplies, pizza, wine, and cookies. It was very nice to get out sans child for a while. I love spending time with Krew dearly, but sometimes I forget what it's like to just be me instead of me with a child.


Me and Erin.

My finished product. I think I'll hang it on the wall.

All pictures courtesy of my iPhone. And thanks for leading our craft night, Katie! :)

It's going to be a fun day today, with lunch with Ann and then Marbles Museum with Casey (and maybe Erin). The hubs has got lots of frisbee practices this weekend so more friend time may be in store. Or I may just stay home and get stuff done. But boy is that hard with a toddler!

Hope everyone has a great day!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Edit Me: Week 10

My Reflection of Something

I really love these weekly Edit Me Challenges! And I'm especially motivated since there's always a prize for the winner. It would be awesome to win a prize. :)

I thought this week's Edit Me photo was super cute.


My edit:

I did most of my editing in ACR this week. I used one of Pretty Presets' just-released ACR presets, Vintage Portrait. Then I lowered the exposure, increased the fill light, and sharpened a bit. I brought it into Photoshop to add my watermark, then resized for the web and sharpened a bit more.

Be sure to go check out the others!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Wish List

There are several items on my wish list right now that I would just love to have.  Given that I've spent a butt-load of money purchasing camera lenses and photography learning resources lately, I'm not exactly in a place to be dropping more cash.  I think my husband might kill me.  And I'd get that icky stomach ache that you get when you know you're spending more money than you should.

BUT...if any of you lovely friends and family are looking for a gift to buy is a handy dandy list, ready for your perusal at any time. :)

1. Giraffe camera strap cover


Yes, this is the exact same strap cover that my friend Ann has.  No, I don't really want to look for a different fabric.  I like hers, and she doesn't mind matching. :)  Although I do also like this one.  Hmmmm...

2. Yahweh (Live) by Hillsong Chapel


I got the Hillsong sample CD for free from the Christian bookstore and I really like the sampler songs from Hillsong Chapel.

3. Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst

I've heard good things about this book, so it's now on my must-read list.

4. Camera bag


This shop lets you pick a vintage bag and the fabric that you want your inserts made out of, then they make it personally for you.  Um, AWESOME.  :)  I also could just get a camera bag insert to stick in a bag I already have.  That might be a smart option.

5. Glee music


Alas, I cannot help myself.  I love, love, love Glee music.  (Well, most of it.)

6. Juice box holders

{via} and {via}

Preferably either the brand JuicePal or Dwink.  I love giving Krew a squeeze pouch of juice or a juice box as a treat once in a while, but he usually ends up squirting a beautifully arched juice stream straight onto our kitchen floor. Which leaves me with just one more thing to clean up.  Because I don't have enough to clean up already.  (Sarcasm.)  Hence, I think it's high time we get juice box holders.

What's on YOUR wish list??

Must Reads

Read up:

to love their husbands.
Motherhood Is a Calling (And Where Your Children Rank) (To be read in light of the fact that your marriage is always to come first!)
Grace on a Thursday: My gripe with the Christian talk show host
5 Ways Media Could Be Affecting Your Marriage

Recipes I want to try:

Hawaiian BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches


Monday, July 18, 2011

Taste and See

Taste and see  that

                the Lord is good...

                                    - Psalm 34:8

Give Him an honest chance.  He will lead you home.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

My Goofballs and My Loves

These pictures are from a couple weeks ago, but I came across them and just had to share.

My goofballs and my loves.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Edit Me: Week 9

My Reflection of Something

Time for another Edit Me challenge over at My Reflection of Something!

Here's the SOOC shot:

And here's my edit:

First I cropped a bit.  Then I lightened his undereye circles a little by using a blank layer to paint a low opacity skin color over them.  I removed the speck that was on the collar of his shirt, added a Florabella texture, and popped his eyes a bit using an action from Everyday Elements.

Hope you like! Head over and check out the others!

Photography Learning Resources

I thought I would share my favorite resources for learning about photography and post processing.  Most of what I've learned, I've learned from these sites.  They are constantly updated with new tutorials and information, so there's always something new to learn.  I also did a one-on-one mentoring session with Mandy from A Sorta Fairytale and a live group workshop with Amanda from Everyday Elements.  Other than those two events, I've learned it all on my own.  And I firmly believe that you can too if you're truly into it. :)  Back in April I provided the steps that I went through when getting into photography.  You can check them out here: Photography Help.

If you you're looking to buy a DSLR, I found this blog post:  Looking to buy a camera? Here is my obnoxious advice.

Here are the links to the sites that I visit on a somewhat regular basis.  I will add more if I think of them.  Also be sure to check out the links to blogs in my "Photography Blogs" blog roll to the right -->.  If you have any recommendations that don't appear here, please feel free to comment!

My Reflection of Something
Everyday Elements
MCP Actions (direct link to tutorials list:
The Creative Mama (direct link to photography-related posts:
Texas Chicks Blogs & Pics
My 3 Boybarians (direct link to 31 Days to a Better Photo:
The Coffeeshop Blog (direct link to tutorials list:
Anna Gay
Ramblings and Photos
Kim Klassen (direct link to eCourses, one of which is free:

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I'll Fly Away

Last night I went for a run despite the hot summer heat (it was around 100 degrees) to relieve some tension I was feeling.  As I pushed myself through the muggy air, "I'll Fly Away" by Jars of Clay came on Shazam on my iPhone, and I closed my eyes and just felt the music and the air hitting my face.  And for a moment, everything else melted away and my soul felt full and I could imagine what it would be like to be with God in heaven and be past the worries of this world.  It was wonderful, and just what my heart needed.  Somehow God uses running and music to give me tastes of the glory of being in His presence eternally.  It's like for a moment, I forget everything of this world, and I feel His presence surrounding me and in me and I feel complete.  I know it sounds crazy, but it's one of the ways He touches me.  I am so grateful to Jesus that because of Him, I can know with confidence that one day I will get to fully experience that peace and joy.  Not just for a fleeting moment when the circumstances are right, but eternally, forever.  Sometimes I ache for that time so so bad.

What about you?  Do you have any of those moments?  Where you can actually imagine what it will be like to finally be with Him eternally?  When, for just a brief moment, everything of this world slips away?

I'll Fly Away by Jars of Clay, from the album Redemption Songs

Monday, July 11, 2011

New Shoes + Supportive Husband = Kara Runs

My hubby sure has been taking care of me lately. He could tell I've been frustrated with how little I've been working out, so he ordered me these pretty things

and told me he's going to figure out a way to start letting me go for a run at least 3 days per week. Which is quite the challenge given our schedules.

He is such a sweetheart. And just the support I need.

And he's doing a good job going through on his word. Last night he reminded me that I hadn't run yet, then told me to drop what I was doing and go. So I did. And it felt great.

me red-faced post run.  i have to wear over-the-head earphones 
because no ear buds will stay in my ears.  seriously.  it's bizarre.

I am so grateful to God for such a wonderful husband.
And new shoes. :)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Everyday Elements Workshop Recap

I had a great time at Amanda's live photography workshop yesterday!  If you're interested in learning lots about photography and also meeting others who share the same hobby (or profession) as you, you should definitely check out her next one.  It was tons of fun, and Amanda is incredibly sweet.

My biggest takeaways from the day were probably
1) I understand metering much better now
2) I'm now a bit quicker at adjusting my manual settings
3) I learned about reflectors (and got one to take home, yipee!)
4) I loved meeting others who have the same interests as me
5) I got a goody bag of stuff to bring home
6) I learned more about gradient maps
7) I won a nice large picture frame from Ikea
8) I learned that 8-year-olds are much easier to shoot photos of than toddlers
9) I understand more how to avoid blowing out colors in editing

and much much more. :)

Here are some of my pictures from our workshop photo shoot.  (The little girl is Amanda's daughter who was sweet enough to let us practice on her.  The other people were just random men in a park. :) )