When Food Doesn’t Like You.

I mentioned in our “get to know you” statements that I have some food issues.  I call them food allergies.  I have been taken to task for this, because people say “If you’re not anaphylactic, they aren’t truly allergies”.  Fair statement, but if I don’t call these allergies, I am not taken seriously.  The things which I can, at this point, never eat again are dairy, gluten, nuts, soy, eggs, avocado and strawberries.  The reasons for not consuming these things ranges from full-on belly tsunamis to facial break-outs, to rashes.  It almost makes me chuckle when someone asks me “So, what can’t you eat?”  As I started rhyming off the list their faces go from sympathetic to horrified, and then the inevitable statement, “What DO you eat?”

One positive thing about having all these food issues is that I have really expanded my cookbook shelf in the kitchen.  I still have all my old cookbooks, which I use recipes from, revising them to suit my new dietary needs.  I’ve purchased new cookbooks as well, which I can just use straight up with no revisions.  In fact, when we had to replace the kitchen cabinets a couple of years ago, my one caveat was that there would be built-in shelves for cookbooks. Those shelves are well on their way to being full.

Food allergies are socially isolating.  My most recent experience was with a fine dining restaurant in the area.  I contacted the chef ahead of time, and outlined the things I could not eat.  He wrote me a lovely e-mail back, and assured me that he would cook in a designated area, keep things allergen free, etc.  And the last line was “However, bring your medication in case of cross-contamination”.  Seriously?  So…..I did not go.  Buffets and potlucks are brutal.

Here, then, are the top questions I have been asked as a person with food allergies:

  1. What would happen if you DID eat it? – keeping this answer simple, I will refer back to Kate’s last post on Claire in the library. (Read it if you haven’t – it’s hilarious.) I will tell you – a belly tsunami of epic proportions happens, and I am not one hundred percent for a few days afterwards. So just eating “it” would mean that I am basically saying “Yes, I would like to have the stomach flu soon, and for the next few days.”
  2. Is it really THAT bad? Um, yes. I am very careful, but still, some things slip through, since I have quite a list to watch for. While I am not anaphylactic, and this is not life threatening, it is quality of life threatening. It means cancelling things I have planned and subsisting on rice crackers and tea until I feel better.
  3. What DO you eat? I eat meat, veggies and fruit.  I have even found allergen free chocolate. There is actually a lot to choose from if you, out of necessity, start looking around. There is rice pasta. There are many ways to switch up recipes to accommodate for allergies. I’m still on a learning curve. It’s a steep one, but worthwhile for my health.

In future posts I plan to share different things I have made using recipes I already had, but switching them up for my specific eating requirements.  I would love your feedback!

And now watch this statement from John Pinette (a comedian who has since passed on), on what you might experience on being told you had to be gluten free.


The Library Bathroom.

As an introduction to who I am, I thought I would share a story with you from an outing with my mom. For all you single people – you’re welcome, here is some free birth control!

My mom called me up two weeks ago and asked if I wanted to meet her at the public library with the kids. Timing is always crucial, so we carefully planned out the exact time to meet based on a very intricate formula – Wake up time + snacks – energy released = Nap time. I put down the phone and began my 45 minute prep to leave the house. Get Jackson a quick snack, change his clothes, change Claire’s diaper, feed Claire, take Jackson to the bathroom, pack my bag, make some tea, get Claire in her snowsuit, help Jackson clean up a few toys, get Jackson’s coat and shoes on, grab a quick (very late) breakfast for myself, Jackson and the bag in the car, Claire in the car, and oh yes, don’t forget the tea.

Thankfully, the library is only a few minutes from our house, so even though we rushed out of the house at the time when I had told my mom I would be at the library, we arrived almost on time. As we were leaving the house, I could hear Claire’s stomach rumbling, but I thought, “Well, we are already late and she might not be ‘finished.’ I’ll deal with it later” I got to the library, grabbed both the kids and went inside to meet my mom. We camped out in the children’s section, playing blocks and talking. Claire’s stomach kept rumbling and rumbling and then…OH  MY, a noise that no little lady should be making! We could smell the after-effects of that noise through the cloth diaper, jammies AND snow suit.. My mom was holding Claire – warm lap, eyes watering – and begged me to take her back (you know something is wrong when Nana doesn’t want to hold the baby!). And I would take my darling, precious, putrid little baby to the bathroom, but, oh right, I decided to be all ‘loosey goosey’ mom on the fly and left the diaper bag in the car. So now, I am running through the library to the car and back upstairs…all the while reminiscing about working at the library during high school. Ahhhh….when times were as complicated as shelving books and coming home to a little math homework. I make my way upstairs and there’s no need to wonder where mom and the kids are, as I see the green vapour leading the way. I took Claire to the bathroom, thankfully a private room for us to enjoy the magic of changing a diaper in public all to ourselves.

As I undressed her, I realized that even a sturdy cloth diaper couldn’t hold the mess this sweet little girl had produced. I’m scared. So, here I am, trying to balance Claire on the change table, diaper bag on the floor, snow suit off, finding new jammies, getting out the wipes…all the while trying to not to pass out from the rancid smell. I mean, seriously, what DID she eat?! Oh shoot…what did I eat?? Claire is thoroughly enjoying the whole experience. She is totally calm, happy, kicking and squirming like it’s the greatest day of her life. Really though, who wouldn’t be happy to have something that vile and wretched leave their body?! Claire has this adorable habit of kicking and shooting herself backwards when you are trying to get a diaper on her, and this was no different. I pull back her diaper, and with the mess now exposed, I could barely see through the tears welling up in my eyes. So now, I am trying to find a place to put the dirty diaper, balance her on the change table, make sure she doesn’t land her foot right in the soupy mess, get the new diaper ready…and Jackson comes waltzing into the bathroom. Thankfully, it was like a sewage treatment plant in there, so he gave a quick hi and bye and took off. As I get back to my 15th wipe, Claire lets out a burst of excitement and in one fell swoop, she kicks her dirty diaper off the table onto the floor….upside down…on top of the small grate on the floor of all things. As I am staring at the diaper, realizing that I am essentially cleaning the entire bathroom at this point, Claire (still happy as ever) pees everywhere! The change table is all wet…pee is dripping off the table and now I am frantically grabbing paper towels to clean that up as I try not to step in the poop and diaper that is on the floor…. Oh, and yes, Claire is STILL not cleaned up.

Gut check time. Do I quickly clean Claire up  and just totally abandon the bathroom (and slap a hazardous waste sign on the door on the way out)? Okay, pull it together, Katie. I am finally making progress with Claire – her ankles are now clean, her legs are clean, all her rolls are clean, the pee is cleaned up….I think I’m finished! Good thing, too, because I’m almost out of wipes. Claire is dressed, I get my bag packed up and I am ready to re-join Jackson and my mom for playtime. Just kidding. With my hand on Claire on the table, I grab paper towels and begin to scrub the grate on the floor that has not been cleaned for about 10 years. I hadn’t even paid attention to what I was doing with the dirty wipes as I flew through this diaper experience. I look around and I had thrown a few in the toilet, the rest in the garbage. Okay, whew, I will just flush the toilet and FINALLY get out of here. Just kidding again. With Claire still on the table, the floor finally clean and my eyes still watering from the smell….the toilet clogs and begins to fill up. A complete moment of panic as I weigh out what’s worse – admitting to the librarian that I flooded the bathroom, or reaching in and grabbing those wipes. After all I had been through that morning so far, dirty toilet water was really no worse than any of the rest…as unfortunate as that is to say.

I joined my mom and Jackson in the play area…frazzled, hot, sweaty, smelling like literal crap, and a happy, smiling baby in tow. The only downside to cloth diapers is carrying around a hot mess for the remainder of your time out of the house. I am all for saving the environment and saving money, but carrying around poop is a definite downside. I give Claire to my mom, and back to the bathroom to wash out her jammies. The smell hits me and almost knocks me over, but I push my way through the gas vapours, wash the jammies, wash my hands for about 20 minutes and say goodbye to the library bathroom.

When I finally balance myself on a tiny kid’s chair and get a breath of clean air, I am so glad that my tumbler full of tea is there waiting for me! Without tea, that whole experience might have been a total bust. 🙂


The First.

Once upon a time there was a mother and daughter who loved to talk and laugh. From the moment the daughter could make noise and respond, they talked and talked, and laughed and laughed. Life carried on, and the daughter got married and had babies. Still, they phoned each other, visited frequently, e-mailed and messaged each other through Facebook and texts many, many times a week. And then an idea occurred to them – what if there might be one or two other people who would like to join in with them, laughing and talking? So the idea of this blog came to life. In this first post you will find some answers to questions which were answered independently, but still came out remarkably similar. In future days you will read life stories, recipes, book recommendations and general musings. Drop by as often as you like! But to be honest, even if no one joins us, we’ll likely still keep writing as yet another way to “be” with each other. Enjoy!

My favourite hobby:
Sandy – Reading. Newspapers, magazines, books, cookbooks…..all sorts of things. And for me, they have to be hard copy, in my hand, not on a Kindle or online. I love to have the physical print in front of me. If I can be the first one to get a new book out of the library, and it still smells new, that is just the BEST thing.
Katie – I love sports – both recreational and competitive. Oh how I miss volleyball. *sigh* I really hope to maybe get back into softball this summer (it seems I am on an every third summer I have to take off due to pregnancy) and maybe even a volleyball league again this fall. I enjoy working out, but not as much as playing a team sport. Being an introvert, I enjoy the camaraderie of sports, and you can sit back and enjoy or have a great conversation (or just a lot of excited shouting).

Dream Vacation:
Sandy – I haven’t been on a “real” vacation in a very long time, but in my head a dream vacation includes sun, warmth, sand, water to wade into, some family around, and some peaceful quietness.
Katie – Does a trip to Target without the kids count? Oh shoot, they’re closing. Okay…how about a trip to my parents’ basement with the TV (Hello, cable!), fireplace, comfy couches and quiet? Now, if I am being truthful, I actually have an amazing (totally free!) vacation WITH my husband…and our baby girl…to Costa Rica in a month. So, no complaints here! It IS our first vacation in six years, so I think my Target vacation is the next best before and after the trip

A food I could never give up:
Sandy – Easy – chocolate. As for food groups I could never give up…..I’ve had to give up so many due to allergies/sensitivities that I just won’t even go there. When I can find chocolate with none of my allergens in it, look out. If I’m making something (cake, pudding, cookies) you can almost guarantee there will be chocolate involved. Chocolate – which comes from cocoa, which comes from a bean, which makes it a vegetable, right? 🙂
Katie – All of them. I find new foods that I enjoy all the time. I rediscover old loves, reinvent foods, and re-imagine staples to fit everyday life. Things like ‘spaghetti squash boats‘ and ‘dates wrapped in bacon‘ are among my list of things that I would have never considered eating that now I love.

One way I am totally like the other person:
Sandy – I think that we both have a fierce love of family. I would suggest that crossing either of us where our children are concerned would not be a good idea. Ha. (I say “Ha”, but I mean it.) 🙂
Katie – You know you are like your mother when people tell you…all the time…at all ages of your life. We have the same voice and laugh, almost the same face (just add in Dutch features), and then though she will tell you she’s not quirky, we have a lot of the same quirks. OCD…it’s a beautiful thing. It is a VERY common occurrence for us to be typing to each other and to say the exact same thing.

One way we are totally different:
Sandy – Kate is much more relaxed than I am, and that is a good thing. I am way more tense and stringent about how and when things get done, and Kate is able to go with the flow much more easily.
Katie – That’s a tough one. Every time I think of one, I realize it’s actually just a similarity. One small one is that I am a more leadership oriented. I love leading a team. I went through College and lead many teams/clubs/groups there. I then worked at that College recruiting students. I loved leading a team of students, and leading others as they made big decisions. I now am a leader with Steeped Tea and so look forward to our monthly meetings and all the interactions I have with my team. It’s a real honour to lead people, and I love doing it, even when that involves big presentations and speeches! I think the main difference between my mom and I here is that I love to lead, my mom loves to teach – though both are similar, but my mom prefers to teach on a smaller scale – one-on-one.

My favourite season:
Sandy – Fall. In order, for me, the seasons go fall, summer, spring, winter. Since we are now wallowing in the pit of winter, you can imagine that I’m just clinging to my remembrance of sunny warm days, and waiting for the first robin to wing its way back to us.
Katie – SUMMER LOVIN. Fall, Winter and Spring…I respect you, I admire your tenacity, but I just love summer so much. The temperature, the activities, the sun, the clothes…it’s perfect. Now, saying that, I find great joy in aspects of all the seasons – tossing the football and crunching leaves at Thanksgiving, curling up by the fire with a cozy sweater and blanket, the smell of spring and getting back outside – there are joys all year and I do like the variation, but don’t take my summer away from me!

What tea describes me:
SandyAfter Eight. I’m no good before 8:00 a.m. I’m up, but I’m no good for anything. Also, I’m better after 8:00 p.m. I’m a night owl.
KateAfter Eight! (Black Tea) -I love the evening. It was very common for me to stay up until 2 a.m. or 4 a.m. when I was in College. Life is different now, but ‘After Eight’ now means that the kids are in bed, so that is a beautiful time! -It is also a beautiful, strong, creamy chocolate peppermint tea! It reminds me of Christmas, which I LOVE, chocolate & peppermint, a favourite combination (though my husband despises it!), and strong like my character and drive!

So, there you have it! That’s us in a nutshell. We promise for shorter posts in the future…but for now, thanks for reading!