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  • National Celiac Disease Awareness Month

    May 1st, 2013 she Posted in Art, Vittles & Beer No Comments »

    It’s national Celiac disease awareness month (in the US, not sure about Canada) so I thought I’d reflect on one of those “small world” things. Like many new Celiac’s, when I was diagnosed a few years ago the first thing I did was search for resource websites like the Canadian Celiac Association, etc. I found a few awesome Celiac mailing lists and discovered a site that would become my go-to for information: Not Even a Crumb.

    I signed up for the newsletter, followed on twitter and became a friend to Ms. Wheaton on FB. ‘Cause I was bound and determined to learn as much about the disease as I could so I could FEEL GOOD again. I’d been sick so long I’d forgotten what “normal” felt like (or perhaps never knew).

    But going GF was more difficult than expected. I missed bread. And oats. Having a nut allergy meant that a lot of standard GF flours or mixes couldn’t be used in our house. We can’t purchase GF foodstuffs from bulk bins (where they appear to be most readily available) due to cross contamination concerns. Then Deb told me all about Gluten Free Prairie and my world became bright and sunny again. We can make meatloaf, hamburgers, and I can have porridge. Oh, and we can bake again.

    So of course, many moons later (a year or so I think), when I learned who her son was, I was a bit star struck. In reverse you could say. When I next met up with him in a convention line, we didn’t talk about his career but rather the impact his mom’s websites and the family GF Oat business made on my life. Best.Conversation.Ever.

    Today I’d like to thank Deb Wheaton for being an excellent resource for a newly diagnosed Celiac and in the few years post diagnosis. I still read every word and check out all the products and books you recommend!

    *psst* He’s really proud of your new cookie line 😉

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    February 17th, 2010 she Posted in Art, Vittles & Beer, Friends & Family, Frothing At The Bit 3 Comments »

    I have a funky eyeball. There’s no better way to explain it without getting into complicated ophthalmological terms that I barely understand. However, what it boils down to is that I’m pretty blind without my glasses, suffer spells of optical induced vertigo and can’t “see” 3D.

    So of course last night I went to Avatar in 3D with the hubs and a friend.

    I don’t know what I was expecting. In past trips to 3D movies, only small-ish elements were done in 3D so I could watch 90% of movies while missing out on very little. Drew really wanted to see the movie in 3D at the IMAX and we’d been asked to go with a friend.

    That certainly wasn’t the case in Avatar. With the 3D glasses on, everything was one giant blur. My eyes never managed to focus on anything. Not too much of a surprise there. I took the 3D glasses off at about the 15 minute mark. My regular glasses followed minutes later. Seeing nothing but fuzz was giving me a headache.

    So, there I was. Sitting in a seat a few rows before the IMAX screen completely unable to view the visual spectacle that is Avatar. I could have made due with that if it had had an engaging story that caught my attention. But it didn’t. The story is unoriginal and extremely dull in large stretches. Thus, I spent the next 2+ hours fidgeting in my seat. Watching all those around me sit enthralled. Listening to the Ooh-ing and Aah-ing while I counted ceiling tiles. Sleep eluded me because the theatre sound was too loud.

    It was a miserable way to spend an evening. I didn’t want to leave the theatre because I’d have to disturb other’s view and everyone around me seemed amazed. Granted, when we left none of the talk about the movie was about the storyline. I think it’s well and truly acknowledged that the storyline sucks donkey’s balls is awful.

    The entire visit to the IMAX left a bad taste in my mouth. I bought our tickets online. The system only provided an option to choose number of tickets. I thought they were quite expensive compared to what I’d normally pay for a movie ticket – $16.95 – but figured IMAX is probably a more expensive experience overall. Boy was I wrong. When the tickets were placed on screen to print, I discovered the ticket price was only $11.75 and change and the remaining $5.20 was for a pop and popcorn. Let me repeat the really annoying part here:

    I was FORCED to buy snacks from the venue. NO option to decline. NO option to get a refund on your ticket once purchased and NO advance notice that the ticket price listed included non-optional snacks.

    Even more unbelievable is that the food vouchers were date stamped so we couldn’t give them to friends who might be going to the movies on a different day unless they could attend within 10 days.

    Drew hates popcorn and I’m dieting so I didn’t want it. Even if I wasn’t dieting, I certainly wouldn’t have eaten 2 bags of the stuff. The venue refused to allow Drew to exchange the popcorn vouchers for a bag of candy instead. We were handed two bags of unwanted popcorn and left to rot. While we ended up giving it to our friend T at the end of the night (she’s bring it to work today) the whole forced snacking really left a bad taste in my mouth both before and after the movie.

    What I’ve learned is that I’ll never buy tickets online to this venue again. In fact, it’s damn unlikely I’ll ever spend a cent of my money at the Scotiabank Theatre in the West Edmonton Mall again.  I would have happily sucked up not enjoying the movie. That happens all the time. People’s tastes are different. No big deal. But the forced purchase of snacks, that just roils my stomach and gets my ire up.

    Yeah, I’ve already submitted a written complaint about the online ticket purchase process. Not much else I can do other than boycott the theatre. And warn poor gimpy people like me; if you’re visually impaired you may be bored out of your ever lovin’ gourd if you bother to watch Avatar.

    Like I was.

    UPPERDATE: It’s been a week and the theatre company hasn’t bothered to even acknowledge my complaint. Fabulous business practices you have going there…

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    Slow beginnings and bounces of excitement

    January 15th, 2010 she Posted in Art, Vittles & Beer, Learning & Education, Random Burbling 1 Comment »

    Apparently the new year did not bring with it more time to post. A few short days after we rang in 2010 I was back to the mad dash scramble routine of reading articles and texts, writing papers, and prepping for yet another semester. All while I wait to receive my grades from last semester (they’re not posted yet).

    I’ve got another three weeks – two minor papers and a research paper – before my International Relations class is over. Add to this my Psych and History course this semester (they both have papers due this month too) and I’ll likely poke my head back out in the real world sometime near the end of April. Funny how that co-insides with the two weeks I have off between semester.

    Have I mentioned that this is my last year in school? Not entirely as I plan to go on to grad school (if they’ll take me) in 2011. But the last year working on this particular degree. Including the three courses I’m currently enrolled in, I have 7 courses left to complete before I can boogie my way across a dance floor and party like it’s 1999.

    Yeah, I’m planning on throwing a huge party once I’ve finished this degree. Everyone better be there with bells on.

    On an “I have the most awesome mentor in the world and am thankful every day that I had an opportunity to meet and work with this wonderful individual” note, I just got word that the group paper we were working on for CNIE has been accepted. The 2010 CNIE conference is taking place in my home town 16 – 19 May 2010. With the carrot of possibly getting to help present the paper if I can get to the conference dangling in front of me, I’m trying to determine if a flight home will fit in the budget. I don’t think I need to worry too much about food and lodging expenses since mum has been asking me to try and come home this year for a while. Flight costs are pretty exorbitant for a family on a budget and I’ll have to arrange for a few days off work (possibly unpaid as we have a family cruise vacation & the hubby’s tour trip planned later in the year). A flight home is often over 700$ – before taxes in many cases – and more lost pay this year is going to make an impact on the budget so going home isn’t as easy as it sounds.

    Speaking of the hubby, he’s off once again. For now it’s the exotic locale of Montreal. Ok, not so exotic. He’s been there a million times. Plus one. He’ll survive. After that, he’s off to Jacksonville for a little bit before arriving back home in February. It’s shaping up to be one of those years where he’s gone more than he’s home. With a 9 month tour looming on the horizon, it’s hard to expect anything else.

    Finally, I’m hoping that this time next year will see me half way to my goal of a whole new fitter and healthier me. I’ve been needing to take this step since I fell off the eating right/exercise wagon in the summer of 2004. Dad got sick. I ate. Dad died. I ate a bit more. Who am I kidding? I ate & drank everything “bad” for me and didn’t give exercise any consideration at all. I ballooned from a semi-normal size 12 to a massive size 18. On my small frame size 12 was hefty; size 18 puts me in the realm of obese. Not chubby. Not pleasantly plump. Not all the other little things I’d tell myself rather than admitting I’ve reached orca size.

    With my dr.’s help, I’ve mapped out a plan to change that in 2010-2011. On the plan, it’ll take between 18-24 months to reach my weight and fitness goals. I’m refusing to call it a diet since it’s an 18 month plan requires a complete lifestyle change on my part. I didn’t gain all this weight in a short time and I certainly won’t be able to lose it rapidly.

    My goals are laid out in 6 month increments. By June, I want to be wearing clothes that are 2 pant sizes & 1 shirt size smaller. By December I want to be wearing clothes that are an additional 2 pant sizes & 1 shirt size smaller. June 2011 should see me another pant & shirt size smaller.  That’s my goal in a nutshell. I want to be 5 pant sizes and 3 shirt sizes smaller. I want to be able to buy clothes in any regular size store. I want to be fit enough to climb to the top of Whistler’s mountain. I have business to attend to there.

    To help me reach my goals I have a daily calorie range to meet. There’s wiggle room but I have to eat a minimum of the bottom end of the range and no more than the top end. I’m supposed to eat 3 smaller meals and 2-3 snacks each day. I’m planning my meals at least a day in advance. My portions are being weighed and measured before being plated. I’m eating breakfast each morning, bringing my lunch to work each day, and most importantly, I’m keeping a detailed food diary. There are a few reasons for keeping the food diary:

    1. To ensure that I eat the minimum calorie amount outlined in my plan each day. If I don’t eat enough I won’t get the health benefits I’m looking for since my body will react poorly (so I’m told).
    2. To ensure that I’m not eating too much sugar/carbs each day. I don’t have a minimum amount in my plan but it does have a maximum daily intake that I’m supposed to try to stay faithful to. This has made me a lot more conscious of the added sugars in a large number of products and is driving a number of my food choices. For example:I used to drink a large amount of fruit juice because it was a convenient way to get some of my daily fruit/vegetable servings. However, juice is often filled with sugar. It might take a bit longer to prepare or eat but I’ve quickly learned that eating the fruits & veggies as opposed to drinking juice fits my sugar/carbs limitations better. Raw, cooked, or frozen fruits & veggies have naturally occuring sugars but they’re often at a much lower level.
    3. To know exactly what’s going into my mouth and when I’m eating. I never ate large portions in the past but I ate all the wrong things. Often at the wrong time. I’d skip meals. I’d eat 800+ fat and sugar laden calories just before bedtime. I’d drink multiple glasses of sugar laden juices within an hour. Because I use my food diary to help me plan the next day’s meals, it forces me to be more aware of what I’m putting in my body and where I’m obtaining my daily calories from.
    4. To have a complete record of what I’ve been eating/drinking or doing for my Dr. should my next checkup have results neither of us were expecting. I should be getting all the minerals and vitamins I need on my plan, but just in case I’m not, the Dr. should be able to figure out where I may be lacking by reviewing the food diary.

    As for exercise, at the moment I have a daily treadmill routine. I’m a bit slow and it’s more of a meander than speed walking. As I get fitter I’m hoping to expand the walking to a jogging/running routine and perhaps add trips to a gym. Right now I’m not ready for that – physically or psychologically.

    I’m also not ready to go out to eat or drink with friends anytime soon. I’m still learning proper portion sizes and healthy eating choices. My intent is to learn that through routine weighing and measuring of foods when I make my meals. I’ll tackle social eating once I have a good handle on what a serving size really should look like on a plate. I think being able to recognize this will go a long way towards helping to ensure I don’t overeat or choose the wrong types of foods. For now I’m sticking to Casa Mia at mealtime.

    The most important thing for me to keep in mind is that I’m eating healthier, getting some exercise that increases my heart rate, and working on a plan that I can manage. The manageable plan is the key. I know me. If it’s too difficult to do or I’m expecting miraculous results that don’t appear quickly, I’ll eventually end up becoming disheartened and giving up.

    Which makes me doubly glad that we don’t have a working scale in the house. There’s no temptation to hop on and off the scale on a daily basis. I have to measure my successes in other things – better sleep, lack of hunger, improved moods, decreased clothing sizes.

    If you see me this week don’t expect to see many changes. I’ve just started the plan this past Sunday and don’t expect to lose more than 2 lbs a week – but more likely it’ll be just 1 lb a week – so I doubt we’ll see any visible signs of improvement for at least 8-12 weeks.

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    October 25th, 2009 she Posted in Art, Vittles & Beer 2 Comments »

    For years we’ve had season tickets to the opera and it’s one of my favourite entertainment events. Last night Drew and I attended the Edmonton Opera Company’s season opener, Rigoletto. Out seats aren’t as good in Edm as they were in Wpg but they’re not bad. The music was wonderfully performed by the members of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and Tracey Dahl was, as always, brilliant. Robert Breault and Theodore Baerg’s performances were acceptable.

    While I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve yet to be disappointed in Tracey Dahl, the same thing can’t be said for every production I’ve seen her in on stage. Sometimes the productions are awe inspiring. Othertimes they can be pretty “meh“. Mostly that just means that I’d be less likely to see the same opera a second time. Rigoletto falls into the “meh” category for me. This was somewhat unexpected since I adore Verdi’s Aida. Later this season we’ll be seeing another Verdi opera, Otello, and I hope I’ll enjoy it more.

    Drew was looking forward to seeing Pirates of Penzance this season but will likely be away when it runs. Guess I’ll need to find myself a date that evening.

    Before we left we did buy tickets to the traveling Broadway production of A Chorus Line for next month. Looking forward to spending another evening out. All dressed up with some place to go.

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    The good, bad and ugly at #yegfringe

    August 18th, 2009 she Posted in Art, Vittles & Beer No Comments »

    Sunday night found me cramped in a hot church basement desperately wishing I were anywhere other than there. For the first time in my Fringe going history I witnessed people walking out of a play. A large part of me was desperately wishing I could do the same.

    Perhaps it was the off-key singing. Although that was forgivable considering the performers age and (possibly limited) experience levels.  The actors performing in Sherlock Holmes: The Musical were young. The cast included a variety of ages. I’m not the best judge, but I’d hazard a guess that they members anywhere from 10-17 years of age. Some had obvious dance or vocal training. Others were less seasoned and uncertain in their roles. There were some bright and shining stars in the show – the young woman who played Watson comes immediately to mind – and a lot of potential. More importantly, most of the cast seemed to be really enjoying themselves. Sometimes, a whole-hearted effort can go a long way; especially in a youth production or Fringe performance. Snappy writing leading to good dialog doesn’t hurt either.

    Perhaps it was the sweltering heat. Who knew a basement would become so hot and uncomfortable when jam packed with people? And packed-in we were. Sardines would be hard pressed to tell the difference between the venue and a rush hour LRT car.

    Most likely it was the incredibly uncomfortable seating arrangements. I know I seriously contemplated walking out a number of times as a direct result of the seating. I didn’t think I’d manage to make it through 90 minutes. How I managed to walk out of the venue post show is still a mystery to me.

    To call the venue ugly is understating it. For theatre patrons at a 90 minute show it was horrific. 

    The seats were standard church basement wooden stackable chairs. Not too bad all on their own. Then again, they weren’t “on their own”. The chairs were taped together!

    If you were “lucky” like me and had a very obese man seated next to you and taking up half of your chair, you spent the evening perched on one the side, desperately trying NOT to fall off the chair and interrupt the show, while the curved wooden back of the chair dug into your back. Add to that the heat in the venue and my neighbour’s continual sweating – all over me. I was soaked on one side. Cramped and in pain on the other. 

    Did I mention this was a 90 minute show and I likely wasn’t the only person in this predicament?

    I’m sure the organizers thought that taping the seats together would make layout easier and would help ensure that there was sufficient room for the number of  seats they wanted to sell. Or some such nonsense.

    The remaining space wasn’t sufficient for the performance. An area was curtained off to contain sets and, on average, the performers did a decent  job of switching sets between scenes. What little space remained gave them far too little room to move, sing, and perform choreographed dance routines. Performers occasionally ran into each other as they moved through their numbers. I suspect the area they practiced in was much larger than the venue’s stage area.

    The size of the venue’s “stage” also played havoc with the stage make-up. Whoever dolled the youth up certainly wasn’t thinking of what the drawn-in facial lines and pancake make-up would look like when the actor is standing one or two feet in front of the audience. When standing close to the back wall of the stage the make-up job didn’t look as bad.  Had the youth been delivering their performance on a proper stage in an auditorium I have a feeling it all would have looked just fine.

    Summing up:

    • The good– Eclectic youth cast. Humourous script delivered with great enthusiasm. Great costumes.
    • The bad – Inappropriate stage make-up for venue size. Lack of climate control.
    • The ugly – Venue. Stage. Seating.

    And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

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