Thursday, January 30, 2014

Gluten free at Walt Disney World - January 2014

Just got back from my trip to Walt Disney World. We try to go every two years.  This is my first trip being gluten free and all went well. I researched a lot before I went and found safe places to eat and new foods to try.

 On a daily basis my family and I actually eat Primal. Which means quality meats, vegis, fruits, nuts, seeds, full fat dairy and a bit of dark chocolate. It's like Paleo but with dairy. I do not eat grains or added sugar. I decided before this trip that I would be sticking to gluten free  but not Primal/Paleo as I tend to get pretty sick now when I consume even a little gluten. So lets be clear I was gluten free but not grain or sugar free as this was a vacation and I splurged quite a bit!

We stayed at the Wilderness Lodge for 9 days in January and did bring gluten free snacks like mary's gone crackers, dark chocolate, larabars, kind bars, home made trail mix, and  Choffy with us. I pack a bag with food items and use it for souvenirs on the way home.  I also ordered fruit, carrots, yogurt, cheese sticks, milk, half and half, water and seltzer for our room from Garden Grocer, which we have used in the past. They delivered the food to the hotel lobby on the date of our arrival and the perishables were refrigerated until we picked them up.  It is great to have snacks items to carry in the parks and options for breakfast in our room. Water is also very expensive in the parks (about 2.50 a bottle) and we figured that even with the delivery charge and tip we saved quite a bit just by ordering a case of water and bringing a bottle for each of us to the park each day. I actually wish we had ordered two cases because we ran out by day 5.

To keep things as organized as possible I am going to start by showing the meals we ate at our hotel first. We had 3 restaurants to choose from but the online reviews for gluten free at Artist's Point were not good so I opted not to eat there. This left Whispering Canyon Cafe which is a sit down option and Roaring Forks which is the quick service option.

We only ate at Whispering Canyon once and of course I forgot to take pics, but the Chef came to the table, and asked what I was thinking of for dinner and I told him the Build Your own Platter.  I was brought out a big slice of gluten free corn bread by the chef, while the rest of the family got the regular basket of corn bread to share. I was told that the meats were all fine except the fish which had some kind of breading, and the sides were fine except the baked beans which had some form of gluten in them.  So that is what my husband and I  ordered. It was delicious. Again, the chef brought out our platter and the kids got their individual meals separately.  I especially liked the sausage and the ribs included  and we got seconds of those.

We ate at Roaring Forks quite a bit. I was actually a bit bored with the limited menu by the end of the trip, but it was fun to have things I do not eat on a regular basis anymore. The managers were always so nice to help me with a gluten free order. They never made it seem like a big deal. I would usually ask someone working at the checkout or on the floor to get the manager for me for my gluten allergy and then order with the manager.

Here are some pics of some of the meals I had at Roaring Forks
Grilled Chicken sandwich on gluten free bun with a side of cucumber salad. 
This was a gluten free pizza that the manager made fresh for me. It was not too busy so she had time to take a fresh dough in back and make it herself. It was actually very good.  I also had a garden salad from the fridge with Kens Ranch which was gluten free and a milk.



Grilled chicken ceasar salad with no croutons, made in a clean bowl by manager!  Very tasty and filling.


Gluten free pepperoni pizza on our last day. It was very busy and I think this was an Amy's boxed pizza. Definitely not the same pizza I had earlier in the week.

On our last day at the Wilderness Lodge we were chosen to be the flag family. We did this on our first stay here in 2008 with Ranger Stan who has since passed away and this time we were lucky enough to go up to the top of the Lodge with Ranger Don. He was so nice to us, talked to us about the Disney property surrounding the Lodge and put up the Flags on the roof top of the building. It really is an enjoyable and informative morning and you can ask at check in if it is an option for your family.  We were then given a certificate to take home and allowed to get breakfast on the Concierge level in the Wilderness Club. My kids loved it there they had all sorts of gluten filled goodies and hot cocoa while I stuck with a bowl of fresh cut fruit and a milk. They had oatmeal too but I was concerned about all the add ins and what could be accidentally added to the big bowl of oats.



Concierge floor fruit salad and milk

To finish up with the gluten free items at our hotel, I brought my insulated Choffy press from home. Yup I packed it in my suitcase along with a rubbermaid container of Choffy to make in our room in the morning. That thing is like a tank. No dents or breaks. It traveled well and got lots of use every morning. I just brought it down to roaring forks and asked if I could fill it with hot water each morning. No Problem!

We went to Port Orleans-French Quarter as I had heard that they had gluten free beignets and I really wanted to try them. Boy am I glad we went. The Chef there was Chef Raphael and he was amazing. He helped me with my order and made suggestions. He was so pleased to hear that people had been blogging about his gluten free options and he told me about his extensive breakfast and dinner options too! Talk about customer service! I was really in the mood for some protein that day so I decided on a bacon cheese burger with a gluten free bun, a salad with ranch dressing(gluten free) and a side of bean salad( gluten free) which was also very tasty and flavorful. The best part of this trip was the beignets though! They were so good we considered going back another day, but could not find the time.
Almost forgot to get a picture of my bacon cheese burger with gluten free bun, side salad with Ken's ranch dressing, and a dish of bean salad. 

These beignets were amazing. The four of us shared and each had 1 and 1/2. Yes my kids and husband all loved these gluten free beignets. Chef Raphael said that some people like the GF better then the regular ones!


At Hollywood Studios we only had a couple of quick service items. We had a giant Turkey leg from Toluca Legs turkey Co on Sunset Boulevard. They are so big that the four of us shared one as a light lunch with some snacks we had brought from home. The second meal we had was also on Sunset Boulevard at Rosie's All American. I got a hamburger with lettuce, tomatoes and pickles (cheese was not gluten free here) on a gluten free bun and french fries that were cooked in a separate frier to avoid cross contamination. The manager here was fantastic also. He came out to help me place my order and told me not to take my food from anyone but him. He put my meal together in the back away from all the others being prepared and came out with my meal separate from the rest.
My husband about to bite into the giant turkey leg!
Again I almost forgot to take a picture before I finished. This was the hamburger on GF bun and  GF french fries from Rosie's All American.

Animal Kingdom is really GF friendly. They actually have an allergy friendly booth in the park. They gave me a pamphlet with gluten free options at three restaurants. We also picked up a couple snacks there. They had a variety of Rice chips and we went with the honey dijon which were very tasty but you need a good teeth brushing soon after to get rid of the mustard breath. We also got a bag of caramel popcorn. My kids had been wanting some since we arrived but the regular version in the parks has wheat in it. So when we saw this blue bag we jumped at it. It was very good. We also got 4 pk of mini BabyCakes muffins-I will tell you about Baby Cakes NYC in a bit.



We chose to eat at the Flame Tree BBQ as I had read that I could get a gluten free meal there. They had me go to the cashier to order, she then had me wait at the counter for a person who worked with people with food allergies. She showed me the allergen book and helped me choose a meal and sent me back to cashier (who was just behind me- so I did not have to wait again)and I ordered my meal and my families regular meals all at once.  I ended up getting the chicken and ribs platter with coleslaw and pineapple spears. Their beans have gluten so that was not an option but the pineapple was fresh and delicious and a nice substitute. I was again told only to take my food from the woman who helped me choose my meal.  I forgot to take a picture of this meal until it was to late. Sorry!




So here is my favorite meal of the week. We went to the Kona Kafe for my daughters BDay dinner. She wanted Sushi and I knew she could get it after 5 and I could get a gluten free option here too. As per usual we were seated and after our waitress arrived she said the chef would be right out. Chef Brett came to the table and asked what I was in the mood for. I told him I had read about the wings, and he said he could bring me GF Ohana wings, I also got the Kona salad with out the blue cheese as it must have had gluten in it and I told Chef Brett I liked shrimp. He suggested a twist on the pan asian noodles using rice noodles and GF tamari. I have not had a noodle in almost 2 years so I was not sure what to expect. This was amazing. The flavors were so good. The shrimp was cooked perfectly, there were so many vegis, which I was craving and it was light on the rice noodles, but enough to be very satisfying. I can not explain how much I enjoyed this whole meal.
Ohana wing- coriander and other spices made for a very tasty wing!
Kona Salad without Blue cheese. Again another great part of the meal. The dressing was light but flavorful and I loved the nuts and fruit pairing too.

My favorite part of my meal. The GF pan asian noodles made with shrimp, vegis, rice noodles, GF tamrai and other great herbs and spices. This was AMAZING!


I only ate one meal at Epcot an that was at La Cantina de San Angel. I was a little nervous ordering here. You go through the regular line and It does not seem like a big deal if you have and allergy, but the cashier knew right away what I could get that was gluten free. No Chips here for those of us who eat gluten free. I ended up getting the Tacos de Pollo with a side of rice. The tortillas were made of corn. I actually enjoyed this meal quite a bit, the chicken had a good flavor but I was nervous I might get sick as I did not feel enough precaution was taken. However I ended up being fine! I wish I had thought to ask for salsa and sour cream when I checked out because I did not feel comfortable using the salsa bar. To many things to worry about there.

Tacos de Pollo from La Cantina De San Angel in Epcot 


At the Magic Kingdom I had another surprisingly great meal at Be Our Guest. We received an email a few days before our trip which invited us to try a new service using our magic bands and fast pass+. Basically you get the email and preorder your meal through the link in the email. They even had allergy filters to use. My husband and I both had the gluten free version of the braised pork with vegis and mashed potatoes. It was delicious! The pork was cooked just right and very flavorful. I loved the vegis too. It is easy enough to find a salad at disney but I find the other vegi options are a little lacking. I also ordered a gluten free lemon raspberry cream puff which was also very good. A little on the sweet side for my taste but for the average joe it would probably be great.
Braise Pork with mashed potatoes and vegis at Be Our Guest.
GF raspberry lemon cream puff at be our guest. Sorry this pic is upside down! 


One of My favorite and most anticipated stops on this trip was Baby Cakes NYC in downtown Disney. It did not disappoint. The kids and I went twice to visit this shop which is "hidden" in the building where Pollo Campero and Fresh Apeel are. However there is no sign on the building for Baby Cakes.
I had read online that they had donuts, cookies, loaf breads and cupcakes that were all gluten free, refined sugar free, dairy free, vegan. I only make gluten free baked goods at home so my kids knew what to expect. The baked goods here are not overly sweet and a little more dense then traditional baked goods but they were all fantastic. The first trip we got a coconut frosted donut, a cinnamon sugar donut and a chocolate frosted donut and we each had a favorite. I loved the coconut frosted best. We also tried the banana chip slice and pumpkin chip slice which we all enjoyed also. The donuts were just a bit sweeter so I think those were the kids favorite. On our second visit we again had the chocolate frosted donut, the cinnamon sugar donut and the new favorite was the cookie topped donut.  It was a GF cookie crumbled on top of a donut using a glaze as the glue to keep it on. Again so good. We also brought a few GF chocolate chip cookies back as a treat for other days. As I said earlier we tried the GF mini cupcakes at the Animal Kingdom allergy booth and the kids enjoyed those also but the donuts were for sure the favorite. 
Baby Cakes NYC at Downtown Disney

Our first trip, the white donut is the coconut frosted which was my favorite. The back left is the chocolate frosted and the back right is the cinnamon sugar donut. We also got the two slices of banana chip and pumpkin chip in the front left, and they were all great!
Another Shot of Baby Cakes NYC goodies


Another highly anticipated treat on our list is the famous Dole Whip. We had this on our last trip and If you like pineapple you will love this. Dole whip is gluten and Dairy free. The line at Aloha Isle in Magic Kingdom was long, and my husband did not think we should wait, but my daughter and I really wanted to. My husband originally said he did not want one until we got to the window and he changed his mind. I was glad he did because I was not going to share with him. These are almost like a pineapple sherbet, and they melt fast, so you need to find a seat close by and eat it before it topples over. 
Dole Whip from Aloha Isle in Magic Kingdom

One of the last gluten free treats on my list for Disney was a Mickey Premium B
ar. It is a vanilla  ice cream bar covered in chocolate. They are rich and delicious but a little messy. We actually had these a few times on our trip and loved them every time. They can be found in all the parks and hotels but be sure you get the ice cream bar and not the ice-cream sandwich which does have gluten in it! The wrappers look similar.
Mickey Premium Bar





Mickey bar out of wrapper.

Well that is all the pics I took this trip. I hope this helps anyone going to Walt Disney World in the near future with a gluten allergy. We really enjoyed our time and found that Disney is super accommodating to those of us with allergies. Just be sure to add your allergy info to every reservation you make online or in person. It makes it so much faster and easier. If you have any questions about any of the meals feel free to message me!

MAURA



Thursday, December 5, 2013

Personalized

I try to make at least one homemade gift for friends and family each year and this year that gift is personalized bookmarks. I got an early bday present this year and I am putting it to good use. My Silhouette is quite the beauty. She knows how to do just about everything with paper, vinyl and fabric. I am sure there is more she can do but I can only try do so much!

So the Silhouette comes with a bunch of free shapes to start with and one was a bookmark. So I cut out bookmarks from many different patterned papers, used adhesive to stick them back to back and cut out names from white card stock. I then had them laminated at a local postal center added some ribbon at the top and for a few dollars I made quite a few bookmarks.

One of the things I have been wanting to make for a while, is a sign to go above my bed. I have a very tall head board and it has been hard to find something to put above it. I thought making something custom size was the perfect idea.  I knew I wanted it to say Goodnight, Love you, See you in the morning as that is what my kids, my husband and I say each night when we kiss them goodnight. So I started by having my brother cut a large plank of pine to a 4 foot length as I knew that would be appropriate for above my bed. I then put on a coat of pink paint which I custom mixed by using some acrylic folk art paint and some pure white Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. 

I then cut some contact paper on my silhouette, used transfer paper to transfer the letters to my board and then put on a top coat of Annie Sloan Pure White mixed with Florence.
When that was dry, I used an exacto knife to remove the contact paper letters and then did a coat of clear wax. It still looked to bright to me so I then added a coat of dark wax, and buffed till shiny. It turned out great but still looked brand new. I then sanded around the edges and roughed it up a bit.
My husband hung it on my bedroom wall tonight, and here is the final project in place! I am so happy with how it turned out and I look forward to making more with my Silhouette. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

I am in love with Chalk Paint!

I had an idea. Many months ago I decided my lowly kitchen needed a little more storage, and so I decided to look for a sideboard to use as a beverage center in my kitchen. I searched for a few months on craigslist, but everything was either too expensive or too far away. I was then invited to join a local yard sale group on Facebook. Low and behold I found a piece I liked, at a price I liked and it was in my town. I went over to check it out with my husband, liked the quality of the piece and picked it up for $100.
So I really liked the bones of the piece, but that was about it. It had a few scratches on the top and door, some hardware was off, and the doors stuck. I decided to make it my own. I searched pinterest for coffee bar ideas as I have so many items I use for my Choffy business and I needed a place to store it all.  This includes my french presses, choffy, my husbands coffee, all my coffee mugs, my kids lunch boxes, straws, sweeteners and tea bags. I saw a few pieces I was drawn to and decided to go with the stained top and painted body. Only problem is that I do not care for cherry finish so I knew I had to start by stripping, sanding and staining the top a darker color. This was probably the most time consuming part of the project.
sanded top
I sanded and then put on my stain (I used an ebony stain), the first time I put it on I left it on too thick so the next day I had sticky spots.
first try with stained top
 I thought I was going to have to strip and sand it all again but found(through online research) that I could just add more stain and wipe it off better a second time and the sticky spots were gone. I let it dry a few more hours and started with the first of 5 coats of semi gloss poly. I let the poly dry 2 hours in between each coat.
top with 5 coats of poly
So now it was time for the body. I had thought long and hard about what I would use for paint and choosing the color was probably the hardest decision of the project. I finally decided on Annie Sloan Chalk paint. I loved all the projects I had seen online and knew from reading that I should go to a stockist to really take a look at the colors in person. I went to my local shop Counting Sheep Antiques in Berlin Ma.  I looked at the books and many pieces throughout the store but was still not sure what color I wanted. Luckily the owner Sally was there to guide me. I mentioned that I liked Aubusson Blue and she said that she had a door upstairs which she had just painted that color. She took me to see it and  I knew that was the color for me. We went back downstairs and Sally helped me pick out all the supplies I would need to start using my Chalk Paint. I bought a quart of Aubusson Blue, a can of clear wax, and a can of dark wax. I bought two wax brushes, one for each kind of wax. I also bought an Annie Sloan Paint brush. When all was said and done I spent about $200 on the supplies, but the brushes and wax will be used many times more and I only used about 1/4 of the paint on this project so I can use it for many more things.

It took me one day to paint the sideboard. I did 2 coats of Aubusson Blue and then 1 coat of clear wax and  1 coat of dark wax. I made sure to wipe off all the excess wax with a lint free cloth after applying it with the brush.  I also spray painted my antique brass hardware with an oiled bronze spray paint. I did not want to have to find new hardware and the spray paint was a quick and easy fix.
Painting in progress, you can see my mugs and french presses in the lower cabinets.
In the end I LOVE the final piece. The Annie Sloan Chalk Paint really is gorgeous. The wax brings out a depth in the paint. I would do this again in a second. I am actually now thinking of doing my dingy old kitchen cabinets over now also. They are 70's dark would cabinets and anything would make them look better, but I think that Chalk Paint may actually make them look great! I will keep you posted on this!

The final product! Annie Sloan Aubusson Blue!
 My husband loves it just as much as I do. He actually walks by multiple times a day saying, "I can't believe how nice this turned out, It looks so professional." It is also very functional, which is my favorite part! If you have any questions about using Chalk paint let me know. I am not a professional by any means but I can tell you what worked for me. Have a great day!

Maura

Friday, August 16, 2013

Finished Whole30!


Well my whole30 is over. I learned a few things.

1. I eat way to much dairy.
2. I eat way to much dark chocolate.
3. fruit is like candy when you are not eating dark chocolate.
4. I want dairy back- but in smaller amounts
5. Choffy can sub for dark chocolate

I am pretty happy with myself right now. I have been eating a primal diet for almost a year and a half now, so the switch to Whole30 was not super extreme, but it was harder then expected. Little things caught me by surprise like no ketchup on a burger and no butter on my sweet potato. I lost 8.5 lbs which surely shows I eat too much dairy and chocolate.
From here on out dairy will be a treat every few days and dark chocolate will be a once a week thing except for my daily Choffy. I do not really crave either one at all anymore but I feel like eating out would be very hard if I skipped dairy, you find it in pretty much everything even salads.

I feel like my goal of revving up my metabolism worked and I wonder how I can transition back to dairy without a major stomach upheaval.  I do not have a plan to purposely eat dairy today but I want to be prepared when the time comes to have a very small amount to start, so my stomach can adjust.

I am due to get bloodwork done, and may stick with the plan for a few more days to see what kind of difference Whole30 has made on my numbers? Anyhow. To anyone thinking of doing whole30 I highly recommend it. If nothing else you will feel good about making the effort and using your will power. Any questions just ask. Have a great weekend!
Maura

Thursday, August 1, 2013

I am half way through my whole30!

The past two weeks I have been doing my version of whole 30. I have already been grain free and almost all sugar free for well over a year. I decided to cut the last of the sugar...dark chocolate, any paleofied baked goods, and the dairy from my diet for a month. The first few days were really hard, I felt pretty bad and was not eating enough. I guess I use dairy as a crutch. I filled in gaps between meals with a cheese stick and have quite a bit of cheese on burgers, salads, eggs etc. However after the first few days I  found a few new meal options and started feeling like myself again.
This is an example of my lunch. Applegate farms ham with whole grain mustard, guacamole, cucumbers,carrots, and some macadamia nuts.

I made it to day 15 and I am feeling great. My kids feel bad for me, but I do not feel bad at all. I feel great as a matter of fact. I feel like I have lost a few pounds and I have been sleeping like a baby at night. I also have a lot of energy. At this point I am still having cravings for dairy and the chocolate, but everytime I want chocolate I make myself a cup of Choffy with some coconut milk (full fat from a can) in it. It fills me up a bit, gives me a little energy boost and gets rid of the chocolate cravings.  
Choffy with coconut milk
With two weeks left I still feel as though I will go back to dairy but not to the extent I was having it before. As for dark chocolate, I am not sure yet. I am thinking I may try some 90% dark which has less sugar then the 85% I was eating. I think it will taste very sweet to me now that I have been without it for so long.
If you read my post on going primal, then you know my total cholesterol dropped by 87 pts. I am planning on getting my numbers run again after I complete my whole 30 to see how it affects them. It is time for my yearly thyroid check and physical anyhow.  So far I feel like this has been a success. I have 15 more days to learn. I am already so proud to have made it halfway. It does take some will power and it makes me feel like I am accomplishing something great.
Have any of you done Whole 30? What did you think. Did you make it 30 days?

Hope everyone has a great day!
Maura


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Choffy

So as you know I am now eating a primal diet but that does not mean I am going without. I still bake with dates and a tiny bit of maple syrup, I eat whipped cream on fruit all the time (I make it in my ISI whipped creamer so I can control what goes in it and I have 85% dark chocolate. I also have a new love for a very special drink called CHOFFY. It is made of one ingredient, which is ground cacao beans, and that my friends makes it primal!
                                                         drinkchoffy.com/maura
Even if you are not eating primal, CHOFFY is a great way to start, end or just get through your day. All you need to make it is a french press, a mug and some CHOFFY. The beauty of Choffy is you can add as much or as little to it as you would like. Right now my favorite way to drink it is with some full fat coconut milk from a can and a little cinnamon, but I also love it with half and half and whipped cream.  You also have the option of hot or cold Choffy!
You can even make it a great after dinner drink by adding some baileys or Kahlua to it.
I also use it to bake with by adding it to my banana bread, you can go to my Facebook page here to get recipes I use for grain free baking.
Choffy is such a versatile drink and a great ingredient to use in baked goods. It is high in antioxidants and is very low in caffeine, It is a great coffee alternative or a great thing to pair with your coffee. 
So I enjoy Choffy so much and I decided to become an independent distributor. If you would like to order  Choffy, you can go to my webiste  drinkchoffy.com/maura and order online!

Monday, December 17, 2012

My new primal way of life.

So two years ago I started making some changes in my life and in my diet.   I started eating whole foods, whole grains, and no processed foods. I started making everything from scratch. I made granola bars for the kids, made homemade bread, ate more fruits and vegis, cut the fats  and did just what you are supposed to do to live a "healthy" life. Or so I thought. In June of 2011 I had some blood work done and found that my cholesterol was sky high. My total cholesterol was 239 while my  LDL was 145 and HDL 36. Now hear comes the shocker , my triglycerides were 352! I was a heart attack waiting to happen. My doctor suggested that I add more whole grains and cut back on fats etc. Just to give a little background I called my 30s my hurty thirties because for ten years I would wake up with a stomachache, I was diagnosed with IBS in high school, diverticulitis and ischemic colitis in my 30s I had 1/2 my thyroid taken out after the birth of my son, I constantly had knee pain. I was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune skin disorder called wells syndrome. I always felt awful.
january 2012


Well  I went on another six months after getting those results doing what I had been doing until I went to visit my sister in Arizona.  We had been talking on the phone before my visit and she had mentioned that she cut out grains and cut added sugar from her diet and I thought she had flipped her lid. She said her blood work had come back better and her doctor told her to keep doing what she is doing. How can anyone give up grains and sugar? It can not be possible, at least that was what I thought. Well before I left my sister gave me a book by Gary Taubes called Why we get fat.  I had nothing to do on my flight home so I started reading and reading and reading until I finished it a few days later. It is a tough read with a lot of examples and data showing that carbs are the real reason we get fat and not fat we eat. My sister had also suggested I read a blog called Marksdailyapple.com which I did. I read success story after success story of people who ate according to marks Primal Blueprint diet which is similar to what Gary Taubes suggested in his book.  I decided on april 1 of 2012 to give it a shot. I now avoid all grains except quinoa once a week and cut out almost  all added sugar. I do have 2 pieces of Trader Joe's 72% dark chocolate each day as the benefits of dark chocolate out way the little bit of sugar . I eat whole foods at home and my kids and husband do the same.   We eat a lot of meat and organic eggs, seeds and nuts, lots of fruits and vegis and full fat dairy including whole milk, cheese, yogurt and grass fed butter. I also cook with olive oil and coconut oil and have a few pieces of coconut each day. No bread, no pasta, no rice no crackers.

Friends and Family nearby thought I was crazy, just like I thought my sister was crazy. However after two weeks and a little "carb flu" I was feeling amazing, I was starting to lose weight and my stomachaches and everyday aches and pains went away.  I was starting to feel great.  I started walking and then running and I am back to walking again due to a knee injury.  I only walk or run 2 days a week so I am not going crazy with exercise, but the weight keeps coming off. So now it is November 2012 and I am down 25 lbs. which is great but to top it all  off I recently got my numbers back and my total cholesterol went from 239  to 145, my LDL went from 145 to 100 and my triglycerides went from a whopping 352 down to 53! I have been waiting for my blood work to comeback before I "talked about it" on the blog but I can say 100% now that I suggest this to anyone.

december 2012

Let me know if you have any questions.

Maura


Saturday, February 25, 2012

It really is a place where dreams come true!

I just returned back from a ten day trip to Disney World with my husband and two kids. It is my favorite place to vacation. My husband and I thought that after taking the kids to Walt Disney World three times in four years that they would be bored with it or tired of going, but much to our surprise they had as much fun this trip as we did two trips ago.

I put a huge emphasis on planning these trips. I want to enjoy my vacation, but i think if you just show up with no plan your Disney vacation will be a bust. I start by printing out the time schedule for each park and by using Touring Plans park attendance predictor to put together a rough schedule. I always leave wiggle room to change things around. For example, this trip was full of sunny warm days but our first full day in orlando was really warm and sunny so we moved things aroung to allow us to go to the waterpark (Blizzard Beach) instead of epcot.  Typhoon Lagoon was closed for refurbishment. Be sure to check out closures ahead of time so you are not disappointed.
View from our room at the Beach Club

We usually pick a hotel together as I want everyone to feel as though they are a part of the planning.
This trip we stayed at the Beach Club. This is on Disney property and was just a quick 5 minute walk to EPCOT and the Boardwalk area. We could also take a ferry to Hollywood Studios and the bus to Animal Kingdom , Magic Kingdom, Downtown Disney and the Water Parks. My kids loved making smores on the beach each night and swimming in the hotel pool. They have a great water slide here.
My kids making smores on the beach
My only issue was some construction at the pool, which made it hard to get from one area to another. We loved eating at Beaches and Cream for dinner, and We had breakfast and dinner at the Cape May Cafe. My husband loved the crab legs at Cape May and even my picky eater found something he liked at the buffets. I really liked the location of this hotel. We have stayed at Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom Lodge in the past, and enjoyed each hotel for different reasons.  Based on my kids ages this trip we knew we could keep them up a little later and the EPCOT fireworks were on our to do list. We actually saw the fireworks 3 times as it was so easy to walk over for desert and Illuminations as we had the park hopper option on our tickets.

We packed a lot into our 10 day trip including a side trip to Universal Island of Adventure for my daughter's 12th Bday.  The rides were very intense compared to Disney.  My son who is a short 9 year old could not go on many of the rides at Island of Adventure.  We did enjoy going to Hogsmeade and riding on the Forbidden Journey and the Flight of the Hipogriff. Butter Beer was on our list of things to do in the Wizarding World. The kids loved it but I found it to be very,very sweet. We split one mug between the 4 of us and I think it was plenty.

Mr CC enjoying Butter Beer
 We went on a couple easy going rides at Suess Landing and the Pteradon flyers ride (only for a tween and an adult). We also went on the Spiderman ride and the Bilge rat Barges. We ended the day with the Barges as we were soaked to the bone. We had ponchos on and still all manage to get soaking wet feet and shirts. Over all we had fun but I don't think we would splurge next time for one day at Universal  as it was quite expensive.

We try to stay within our budget and in order to do that I pack one suitcase with snacks, drinks, cereal, bowls, utensils, and I ordered bagels, cheese sticks, fruit, water and milk from a local service called Garden Grocer. It was delivered to our room on the second day and It worked out very well. We ate breakfast in our room most mornings. The kids had some healthy snacks to munch on and we brought our own water to the parks everyday. Waters are about 2$ a piece in the parks so this was a major money saver. I also use the empty suitcase for souvenirs on the trip home. We always fly on Southwest so we don't have to pay any extra fees for the bag.

Well, we really enjoyed our trip, If anyone has any questions about Disney trip planning don't hesitate to ask. Hope everyone is having a nice night!

Maura

Monday, November 7, 2011

The two year tree.

Well, it's that time of year again. The holiday season is upon us and I am proud to say that after two years of working on it I have finally finished my large sequin and beaded christmas tree. Two years ago I worked on two smaller trees, one in silver and one striped in silver and green. I also started on the last and largest of my set. Christmas came and went and I put the tree aside thinking I would work on it the following fall. Well, then came the shoulder surgery and poking pins with little beads and sequins into a foam christmas tree was out of the question.

So when September 2011 rolled around I started back at it. I tried to get 2 or 3 rows done each night while my husband and I watched tv. While I might have missed a night or two here and there, I was totally committed to getting it done. Tonight while at my son's swim practice I finally finished it! The cutest thing happened while I was working on it also. A little girl about 7 came over and I could tell she was watching me. I said hello and she asked me what I was doing. I told her my story of the "two year tree" and she started rooting me on. With each pin I poked in the tree she would get more and more excited. "You're almost done", "just a few more"and "this is the last one and then it will be perfect". It is not perfect, some lines are not straight and some pins are too close, but I love it as though it is perfect. I worked so hard on this tree and my perseverance has finally paid off.  This last tree used up over 3000 pins.  Some might call me crazy for even making a small tree but I absolutely adore the way they all turned out.

I told my kids that someday the two of them will be fighting over who gets moms beaded trees. Remembering me sitting on the couch for months, working on them.  I never gave up and I feel good about that. I hope you all find something to commit to this holiday season. Wether it be a good deed, a project or a loved one. Don't give up on your "Two year tree".
Maura

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I need a fresh start!

Waterfall in Bar Harbor Maine 
First of all I had a manipulation done on my shoulder back in march as after my shoulder surgery I ended up with a frozen shoulder. So basically they put you to sleep and wonk on your arm to break up the scar tissue that has built up.  I am happy to say that I am actually going to my last physical therapy appointment in the morning and after 10 months I will be able to get back to my regular routines. I was going to pt 3 times a week for 2 hrs a day.

So my next set back was about 6 weeks ago I got this horrible rash/ welt on my leg. Now 2 years ago I had the same thing and both times my doctor ( and a few other doctors) put me on antibiotic after antibiotic trying to heal it up. Well none of those worked and one even gave me an allergic reaction. Both times I was finally treated with prednisone and the welts cleared up. This time however the on call doctor at my primary care office sent me to see a dermatologist who did a biopsy on my leg. Come to find out I have a rare skin disorder called Well's Syndrome or Eosinophilic Cellulitis. Basically something like a spider bite or a cut or a medication can turn into a large painful itchy cellulitis( to many white blood cells called eosinophils go to the injured area, causing swelling and itching). I guess my body just over reacts to certain triggers.  The treatment is prednisone for now. If it gets worse or more recurrent then we move onto another medication. So my last flare has finally healed (other then my skin being discolored on my leg which goes away in about 8 weeks) and then it happens.

The latest setback started as another spot on my leg and then a spot on my face and then another and another. I went to the dermatologist again thinking my Well's is at it again only to find out I have poison ivy on my leg and face.  I am itching like crazy and a little embarrassed by my blotchy face.

Any how I am turning 40 in December and I have decided that I am due for a fresh start. I had nothing but health problems in my thirties. Shingles, thyroid surgery, GI problems, shoulder surgery, hernia, Wells and poison ivy and I have decided I am ready for the fabulous forties. Please send any and all good karma my way and I promise I will be posting and back to projects asap.  I have decided I need to look into hiring a landscaper so I can avoid spiders and poison ivy for a while! Have a great day.

Maura