Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What I've Been Up To

Sorry I've been MIA lately.

I've been doing a lot of this:

(That would be my work laptop, not my home laptop.)

Drinking a lot of this:

And really wishing to go spend time in this:

Although this weekend I did forget work for a bit to enjoy this:

And this:

Does anyone else feel like they missed out on their whole summer? I sure do. I went to the pool once, to one frisbee tournament, and never saw the beach. I guess some summers are just like that!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Still Gluten-Free!

Well it's been almost two months and I am still moseying along with a gluten-free diet! I must say it's made a dramatic difference in my life. I'll spare you most of the details, but my bloated belly is gone and I'm no longer getting sick to my stomach multiple times a day. It's pretty liberating.

I met with a dietitian last week and she confirmed that she believes I am doing the correct thing with my diet. I was able to ask her about my concerns, such as any possible deficiencies my diet may have due to lack of gluten-containing foods and the possibility of Krew inheriting my gastrointestinal problems. She was incredibly supportive, and I left feeling all the more certain that I have made the right choice.

I can't lie, avoiding gluten is still sometimes difficult and frustrating, but it's getting much, much easier. I have had very few times where I've been in a situation where there's nothing I can eat to feel satiated. Would I rather have that whole wheat pasta? Do I wish I could chow down on that garlic bread appetizer? Do I want to whine and complain when my husband orders delicious takeout from the local Mexican restaurant? Yes. Most definitely. But I know that withstanding the pressure is not only keeping me healthy, but it's also growing in me an ability to overcome my food cravings, which is something I've seriously struggled with my whole life. (This girl loves to eat!!)

In case there are any readers who are thinking about starting up a gluten-free diet, I thought I'd fill you in on some of my tips and tricks.

1) Find support.
An old friend of mine, Nicole, noticed on Facebook that I was going gluten-free and jumped right in to help. I don't know what I would have done without her. She suggested books, talked through my symptoms with me, and helped me out with restaurant recommendations when I was back in our hometown and had no idea where to eat. I also had another old friend, Sarah, who talked through things with me and offered great support. You can find support through a friend as I did, through Facebook, through blogs, through forums, etc. But definitely find someone who can share in your experiences. It will help you immensely, both emotionally and logistically.

2) Be strict and strong.
You may feel impolite or uncomfortable sometimes, but remember that this is your health (and standard of living, if you get sick like I do) that you are talking about. It is not rude to ask questions to protect your body. Ask what ingredients are in your food when eating out. I know that most of Starbucks' drinks are gluten-free, but when I go to other coffee shops I ask to see their syrup bottles so I can check if they are safe. When in a sit-down restaurant, tell the waiter that you are gluten-intolerant. If they are not sure what food at their restaurant is gluten-free, then order a salad with a vinaigrette dressing (which is typically gluten-free) to be safe (no croutons!). If someone is cooking for you, make sure they are aware of your limitations ahead of time and don't be afraid to tell them that you can't eat something they've prepared. If they act offended, tell them you can get really sick from even a tiny, tiny piece of gluten.

4) Read read read.
I have read books, blogs, forums, etc. A lot. I'm feeling somewhat knowledgeable at this point, but there's always more to learn. I read the book The Gluten Connection and have also done a lot of online reading.

5) Download apps.
There are some GREAT iPhone apps for those who need to follow a gluten-free diet. My favorites are 1) Is That Gluten Free?, 2) Is That Gluten Free? - Eating Out, 3) and Find Me Gluten Free. Between those three apps and Google internet search on my phone, I've found that I'm able to either find a restaurant with food I can eat or determine if a certain food is safe usually within just a couple minutes.

6) Search your local stores.
You'll have to learn what's available at the stores around you. Trader Joe's has a GREAT assortment of gluten-free foods. If you ask someone at the store, they can provide you with the (5-page!) list. (Hint: Products that have a little "g*" on the front are guaranteed to be gluten-free, but not all items on the 5-page list have the "g*". So even if an item doesn't have the "g*", still check the list.) Whole Foods and Fresh Market are other great places to shop. Kroger has many items in the organic section of the store, and Target has many items spread throughout their normal aisles.

7) Search your local restaurants.
Check your local restaurants online or call the venue. Many restaurants are beginning to offer gluten-free options or even provide entire gluten-free menus. If you live in the Triangle area, you can eat at Daniel's, Carrabbas, Biaggi's, Chipotle, Jason's Deli, Bonefish Grill, Brixx Pizza, California Pizza Kitchen, Z-Pizza, and I'm sure many others. As I mentioned earlier, most (but not all) of Starbucks' drinks are gluten-free. (Yay!)

8) Figure out what you can eat and find replacements for your favorite foods that are on the no-go list.
I found substitutions for Oreos (KinniToos, found at Target and Kroger), brownie mix, refrigerated cookie dough, canned soup, penne and spaghetti pasta, egg noodles, and bread (Udi is the best). I also discovered that I can still eat most Baked Lay's, Tostitos (just not the new flavored kind), Chex, Butterfinger, and Snickers, to name a few of my indulgences. There are so many options and work-arounds, you just have to do a little digging and researching until you get your menu established.

So those are my main suggestions for anyone considering or struggling with a gluten free diet. Please feel free to chime in if you have any more advice. :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


It has been an ongoing struggle for me to decide whether I should be shooting my photos in RAW or JPEG format.  I've read various viewpoints from photographers who take either side of the argument, and it's never been clear to me what is best.  Currently I have my camera set to produce both a RAW and a JPEG file for each image...which takes up a lot of storage space and requires more time in post-processing, but at least has me covered until I make a knowledgeable decision.

I thought I'd share the following articles, which I just recently read (and watched) to help make my choice.  Check them out:

1. RAW vs. JPEG at Digital Photography School
2. How are they different? RAW vs JPEG by Elizabeth at Pretty Presets
3. RAW vs JPEG (JPG) – The Ultimate Visual Guide at [SLR]Lounge

My final decision?

  • If I'm out site-seeing or in a situation with a lot of shadows contrasted with bright light, AND I will have time and motivation to spend time adjusting my pictures later, I will use RAW.
  • If I'm in a really difficult lighting situation AND, again, will have time and motivation to edit later, I will use RAW.
  • Otherwise, which will mostly consist of at-home shots that I want to be able to quickly upload for family viewing, I will use JPEG.  Reason: I want my editing to be quick.  For the times I do want to fiddle in editing, there is still tons I can do with my images in JPEG format.  Plenty for me at my current editing level...especially considering that my photography is just a hobby and not a money-maker.
Photographer friends, what are your thoughts? RAW or JPEG?

Monday, September 19, 2011

FDA/Industry Statistics Workshop

My company has paid for me to attend this weeks's FDA/Industry Statistics Workshop in DC, which is pretty exciting.  I came with one coworker (Dora) and a good friend from grad school (Hilary), and we've run into other people we know along the way.  It's kind of neat to be back in a learning environment again.  As much as I was sick of classes and learning by the end of grad school, I've found myself somewhat missing it over the past year or so.  (Which is pretty surprising, since I said after getting my master's degree that I would never ever ever ever go back to school.  I still don't intend to, but I could see how it would be somewhat desirable. :) )

The only negative about coming was leaving my men.  Especially Krew.  I cried twice before we even left for the airport, and then broke into tears again saying goodbye.  I felt silly but couldn't stop the tears.  Luckily Hilary, who was with me, was sympathetic and understanding.  (Thanks, Hil!)  This is my first time leaving town without Krew, my first time being away from him for over 24 hours.  Crazy how attached you get to being with your kids, even though they exhaust you and drive you nuts the majority of the time.  Such is the love of a parent I guess.

Well, I've got free time at the conference but actually have some work I need to do.  (I'm swamped at the office right now...which had very unfortunate timing given that I'm at a conference for 3 of my 4 work days this week.)  So gotta jet.  Hope you're all having a splendid start to your week!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Edit Me: Week 18

This week's Edit Me challenge was a fun picture of a ferris wheel.


My edit:

First I ran the action Stained from My Four Hens. Then I added a purple gradient (top to bottom), used curves to add a pop, then used another curves layer to brighten only the ferris wheel sign through masking. I wanted the image to have a feel that was both vintage and bright, and I think I got it mostly to my liking. :) I then sharpened a bit and added my watermark.

Head over and check out the other edits at My Reflection of Something!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Link Love 15.Sep.11

Here they are, my latest favorite blog posts!
I love to track my favorites like this, not only so I can share them with my readers (YOU), but also so I have them for future reference.

Courtship Contradictions
How to Glorify God at Work
Amish Proverbs
Homeschool Blindspots - An enlightening (although long) excerpt to read whether you plan to homeschool or not. (I do not.) It digs deep into the theology of Christian parenting.  To read the even longer original article (which is probably worth your time!) go here: Solving the Crisis in Homeschooling
The Joy of a Stable Mother - Relevant to ALL women, mothers or not...especially those that tend to be emotional. :)

Also, I had started a list maybe a month ago, but it never got published. Here it is, although a wee bit late.

A Stripped Down Version

These posts made me feel so much better about my child's recent tantrums:
The "Mini-Fit"
Pre-Toddler Goal: Don't Lose Ground

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Practical Definition of Forgiveness

This past Sunday's sermon at my church focused on dealing with anger, resentment, and unforgiveness. There were many things I enjoyed about the sermon, but below were the main points I wanted to remember:

Anger itself isn't a sin, but is very likely to lead to sin.

Anger always feels righteous in the moment.

It was once said that everything you can do with anger, you can accomplish better without. Do you agree?

We tend to think that people don't take us seriously unless we're angry. But the problem is really that most of us don't know how to achieve those things without being fueled by anger.

Don't carry contempt toward someone. It leads you to see them as less than you and to develop a superior attitude.

Remember that change starts from the inside. If you want to learn to not be so angry, it must start from the heart.

At the heart of anger is entitlement. We feel that we did not receive something that we deserved. And so we carry anger and resentment over those things we did not get. The problem is, most of the things that we think people owe us, they can never pay back. Forgiveness is not a feeling. It is a decision to say "you don't owe me anymore".

This last sentence is what really struck me the most. I've never understood what people meant when they said, "You have to make a decision to forgive, even if you don't feel like it." I didn't understand what that looked like. I couldn't comprehend how to do such a thing. But when our pastor Jonathan said "It is a decision to say 'you don't owe me anymore,'" something inside me just clicked. It was a total 'aha!' moment. And it was wonderfully freeing. Suddenly I had a new understanding of how to forgive others, even when I still may be hurting inside.

If you'd like to check out the sermon, please do. An mp3 recording can be found here: http://www.crosspointe.org/messages/mp3s/2011_09_11.mp3

You can also check out all the messages in the current series here: http://crosspointe.org/messages/current_series/

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
- Romans 12:17-21

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
- Ephesians 4:31-32

Go dig into some other encouragement at Call Me Blessed!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Edit Me: Week 17

I haven't participated in an Edit Me challenge in quite a while, and I miss it!! So I finally decided to buckle down and jump back in.  Each week's challenge closes on Saturday, so I'm cutting it a bit close (it's currently 9:17pm on Saturday), but hey, at least I'm getting it done. :)

Here is the SOOC:

And here is my edit:

I did most of my editing in Camera Raw. First I cropped the picture to give it more of a landscape feel and to focus more on the barn. I also straightened it slightly. I used the Vintage Portrait preset from Pretty Presets. I then increased the fill light, lowered the exposure, and increased the hue a bit on the reds. I also added a slight vignette. After these edits, I opened the image in Photoshop to apply just a bit of sharpening and add my watermark.

My initial plan for the photo didn't include as much of a blue/purple hue, but once I saw it I decided I liked it. :)

Be sure to check out the other edits over at My Reflection of Something!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Blogger app has arrived!

I was pretty stoked to discover today that Blogger FINALLY came out with a Blogger app! It's lacking in quite a few options, so it's no good for detailed posts (no preview, no scheduled publishing), but it's exciting for quick posts or if I want to jot down an idea.

Check it out if you have an iPhone! Supposedly it exists for Android too.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Just a few of my latest favorite reads:

Disturbing Diet
What getting fat taught me about focus.
Inspire Me Tuesdays — Embracing the Present

Monday was Krewson's 18-month birthday! (Do you call it a birthday? Maybe it's better referred to as his 18-month birth anniversary? Hmmm.)  So our baby is now a year and a half old.  Crazy.  His 18-month checkup at the pediatrician office isn't until for a week or two, so I'll have to fill you in on his growth stats later.

This next month looks like it's going to be the busiest of the year, so please forgive me if my blogging posts are sparse.  According to my calculations, I have just one (yes, one) evening with no activities planned until September 26th.  Whew.  Keep me in your prayers.

God bless!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Prenatal DVD Giveaway Winner

I used handy-dandy random.org today to determine the winner of last week's giveaway.

And the winner is...


Vanessa is one of my awesome frisbee girlfriends.  (Meaning: We have grown close through several summers of sweating bullets all day in the hot sun while being pregnant and/or watching our kids so that we can support our hubbies' loves of ultimate frisbee.)  She blogs over at http://vanessawashburn.blogspot.com/ if you'd like to check her out. :)

Congrats, Vanessa! Hope you enjoy the video!! It will be on its way soon. :)

Friday, September 2, 2011

My Parenting Books To-Read List

I desperately need to read some parenting books.  I feel like I am flying by the seat of my pants these days.  Krew is, bit by bit, becoming defiant, independent, and stubborn, and I'm incredibly torn on how to handle it.  It's not that he's a bad kid, he's most definitely not.  He is a wonderful child, and many people say he's the easiest to take care of out of most kids they know.  Still, like all of us, he has that thing called sinful nature, and as his parents it is the responsibility of Dave and me to help him learn to recognize those sinful temptations and learn to resist them.  And the way we do this is through that painful but necessary thing called discipline.

Books that have been suggested, which I plan to read and then choose bits and pieces from and smoosh all together, include:
I'd love to hear if you've read any of these books, and if you have any other suggestions??  Also, I fully realize that some of these books are controversial, so please no rude comments.  Feel free to share your thoughts, but don't tell me that I'm a horrible parent if I follow something that one of the books suggests.  I'd like to make decisions about the books and my child on my own (with Dave of course)...and besides that, I want my blogging community to be one of support and love, not judgement.

Alrighty, with that said, share away. :)