Gluten Free Expo to the Rescue again!

One of my favorite events every year is the Gluten Free & Allergen Friendly Expo.  This year will be my 4th year as a blogger for the event! I’m so excited!!

This event is coming at the perfect time- I am ready for some new food options!  I feel like I eat the same things over and over and over and over again and I’m so tired of the same things over and over and over and over again!

Last year I discovered Sprigati Sauce and I’m hoping they are there again!  I also found Aleia products and have been lucky enough to find some in one of my local stores.

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Gorilly Goods are one of my go to travel snacks that I have found at a few stores in town.  I am so glad I gave them a try at the expo.  They aren’t something I would pick up and buy without trying first because it’s not a flavor I typically have liked in the past.  They are great for when I am traveling or when I get too busy to eat at school and need something to fuel me for the rest of the day. I had some today in fact!

I’m already learning about new foods because the blogger sponsor of the event is BFree and they have bagels that I can eat!  No Xanthan Gum!!  I’m so excited!  I miss bagels!

Last year I went without kids and I will do the same this year.  I don’t want to worry about losing one of my kids in the super busy area when I’m trying to check out new foods.  It does get very busy, very fast and my 2 year old loves to run and hide right now.

Tickets are on sale right now for the event!  You get a goodie back with your ticket and it’s always full of samples and coupons!

If you buy your tickets now, you can get 30% off with the code EARLYBIRD until March 21st.  After that, you can get 20% off with the code ADVANCE.

You can win a FREE ticket from me by commenting below.  Tell me if you have been to an event like this- if you have, tell me your favorite part about these events.  If not, tell me why you would love to go! I have 5 tickets to give away for one day admittance to the expo!

Sewing adventures

I’ve been sewing.  A lot.  I was given a sewing machine last Christmas by my mother in law.  I wanted one.  Mainly so I could make things like poodle skirts for school events.  But it turned into so much more!

I started making clothes, and then blankets, and bags, and baskets….and now the people at Joann Fabric know me.  They may see me every week.  Well…ok, they do… I just LOVE the fabric!  I love to walk up and down the aisles and admire it and feel it.  I guess I do that a lot because Evelyn told me the other day that she was going to touch my material in my sewing area.

I made a lot of Christmas gifts this year.  8 blankets.  3 purses.  1 robe.  3 baskets.  1 hat.  1 stocking.  1 box.  1 chapstick holder.  2 coasters.  1 bag.  4 Pokemon backpacks.

And it hasn’t stopped.  I was set back for a few days with my injury.  But I got back into it quickly and am LOVING the new machine I got for Christmas.

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I upgraded my machine for Christmas.  The other one busted a few months back.  I think I used it to death….

Anyways- I was sending my dads blanket late because of my back injury, so I figured I would make my sister something who’s birthday is in January.  I decided she needed a mermaid tail blanket.  So I went looking on Pinterest and found a free pattern from Sew Much Ado.  You can find the pattern here: Adult Mermaid Tail

Annabelle helped me find material and I started cutting.  Then I realized it should all be fleece, so I cut fleece to line it all with.  So my first one was made harder by me not thinking…

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As you can see in the picture, I had the tutorial open on the ipad as I was trying to figure out how to attach the top.  It was tricky but I managed:

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And it turned out pretty cool!

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And of course Evelyn was up, so she had to test it out:

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And then I had to work on some for the girls.  I started working on Annabelles first and had it done in no time!  This time I used fleece only so I didn’t have to line it.

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She loves it and has been “walking round the house with her feet in the fins.  I made one for Evelyn but she hasn’t let me take a picture of her in it properly.

Now Annabelle wants me to make one of her friends a matching one…good thing I love to sew!!

 

My collapse…

I spent two days on my back.  On the floor.  With ice under my back.  Watching TV (after I had my husband show me twice how to work it, and screwing it up once and having him have to fix it…).  I haven’t watched anything on TV in probably 2 years.  Nothing that I chose anyways- kid things don’t count.

I woke up on a Monday in a lot of pain.  But I figured I could walk it off.  So I went to work.  My boss looked at me and said “go home” and I said “I’m fine…let me just walk around a little bit.”  Then I went walking through the hallways.  My left leg buckled but I caught myself.  I was walking so gingerly that our foster grandparent asked if I needed assistance.  I decided I needed to go lay on a heating pad for awhile and maybe I could make it back in the afternoon.

But it got worse.  I ended up having my husband drive me to the chiropractor a few hours later and she was alarmed at my state.  She said absolutely NO lifting my child, or anything for that matter.  And ice.  ICE!  It’s winter!  I was like you are crazy!  But I listened. Because I was in so much pain.

I told her I was dancing the next day at school.  For the students.  We choreographed this special dance….and yeah, no dancing 😦  My friend who was the other choreographer came over after school and brought me Ibeprofen.  That shows how desperate I was.  I hate taking pain meds, but I needed it to function.  She went to Target to get it for me because they are the only ones that label their medicines gluten free.

Tuesday seemed almost worse.  I stayed home.  Evelyn’s babysitter picked up both kids.  I laid on ice all day.  And tried not to cry every time I had to get up to pee.  I went back to the chiropractor later in the day and she said it was getting a little better, but she would see me the next day.  I told her I was going to work.  She said ok.

Wednesday I went to work.  Evelyn’s babysitter picked us up.  I got out of the car at student drop off and my principal took my bag.  When I asked for it back he handed it to a student and told them not to give it to me, no matter what I said.  It was nice to have that help.

I didn’t know how long I would make it so I did what work I could on the last day of school before winter break. A friend brought me an ice pack that strapped around me in a very tight fashion.  That helped.  A LOT!  I had it on when I went to the chiropractor that morning.  She was glad to see me walking better.  But she still said see you tomorrow….

I ended up making it through the whole day!

I’ve been on the upswing since then.  But I still haven’t carried Evelyn around.  She’s handling it better and better, and we do a lot of cuddling sitting down.  I’m not sure how it will go when it’s time to be back at work.  Most mornings I hold her while I’m getting ready.  I put her down to shower and then put her down when she gets in her car seat.

I carry my children until I drop.  Literally.  I told my mom recently that I was going to collapse with exhaustion soon.  Well, it happened.  I collapsed. Not just physically, but mentally also.  It is so hard for me to not be able to do what I want, when I want.  And I’ve been going full speed ahead for WAY too long, without giving myself a break in any way.

Some of my tears last week were from physical pain, and some weren’t.  My house was very quiet and I was able to think about how I was not taking care of myself.  I was neglecting myself in order to take care of others.

I collapsed.  But I got back up again.  And I’m working on taking better care of myself.  Starting with making chiropractic visits a priority.

Next will be exercise.  This isn’t a New Year’s Resolution.  I don’t make those.  This is an “I collapsed and need to change my ways” revelation.  I can’t take care of those I love if I don’t take care of myself first.

Have you ever literally collapsed from the weight of life?

My Gluten and Allergen Free Expo Adventure

I went to the Gluten and Allergen Free Expo this past weekend.  Alone.

Did you get that?

Alone!!  No kids!

And it was FANTASTIC!  I listened to music on the way- there may have been some dancing (ok there was definitely dancing), in my mom-van 🙂

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I started out at the Blogger Meet & Greet with San-J and learned A LOT!  I have tried one of their sauces, but hadn’t ever seen the others.  We learned about the company and were given some fun freebies to try out!

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I’m super excited about that little red container in the corner that holds a few packets of Orange Sauce! I will be doing a lot of travel this summer so this is perfect to tuck into my purse for when we are out to eat!

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These photo booth areas are so fun!  If you follow me on Instagram, you already saw these photos, but they are too fun not to share again!

I got home just in time to drop off my bags, take this quick selfie, and head out to my daughters swim meet:

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After the swim meet I was able to go through everything again!

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I was trying to get this all set up nice while Evelyn was trying to get into all the packages.

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My blogger bag had a Send Me Gluten Free box in it and I was excited about everything in there!  And the little envelope is FULL of coupons!

Many of the items were samples or packages given to me as a blogger, but others are ones that I purchased.  I love finding new things, and if they are xanthan gum free, I buy them to see how I like them.  A lot of these items are not currently available where I live, but I will order online if I like something.

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These are some of my favorite snacks!  They used to stock them at Festival but I haven’t had luck finding them lately, so I stocked up!

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This was something new to me and it is DELICIOUS!  There was actually another flavor that included chocolate, but I preferred this one!  The man at the booth told me that these are stocked at Woodmans so I’ll have to pick some more up when I’m there next.

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These were in everyone’s goody bag that bought a ticket.  I was most excited when I walked up to their booth and saw their big signs that said “xanthan gum free”!!!!!  I have never seen a company advertise that!  I tried a sample and was immediately a fan!

I had a nice talk with one of the women there about xanthan gum and how frustrating it is that it is used in many products.

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I had quite a few conversations with companies about xanthan gum.  One person told me they are expecting there to be a change in the use of this gum soon because it is getting a lot of bad press on social media.  I would not complain if it was removed from products 🙂

There is more than just food at this expo.  I was given this nice little collection of personal care items:

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I am excited to try them out.  They do not have xanthan gum.  I also purchased deodorant at this booth.  That was one of the things I was looking for so I was glad to find some.

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These are Evelyn’s favorites from the expo.  I had a sample that I brought home last year and she loved it, so I was glad to see them back.  She tries to eat a few packages a day, but I limit her to less than one bag a day.  I will have to order these online as they do not stock them in any local stores.

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This is her other favorite.  She loves them, and so do I!  This was her smile face 🙂

The expo was as packed, if not more, than the previous years.   It gets to be so packed that you can’t really move around.  For someone like me, who knows some companies use xanthan gum in everything, and who would like to skip a booth here and there, it was hard.  You pretty much had to just stand in a very slow moving line to get up to any booth. If you try to squeeze through anywhere, chances are that you will hit someone with your bags.

Besides the large crowds, I have no complaints about this expo.  It is such a great way to get to know new foods, and to talk to the company about their products.  I encountered so many friendly representatives and delicious samples!  I definitely got more out of this expo, going kid free, than I did last year when I had her with me.

I would recommend this expo for anyone who eats gluten free, and I will be going for sure again next year!

Here we go again! To the Gluten Free and Allergen Friendly Expo!

I am SO excited to be attending the Gluten Free & Allergen Friendly Expo as a blogger again this year!  Evelyn and I had a blast last year!  And we were introduced to so many new things we can eat!

Just today I asked my mom “do you ever get tired of food?” And she said yes!  Some days I just don’t want to cook and I don’t want to eat because I’m tired of the same old stuff!  I can’t just pick anything off the shelf and eat it.  I have my gluten free shelf in the pantry, and some days I look in there and think yuck!  I need some new options! I am excited to find new products and new companies to look for in the store!

Last year I learned of so many new things, and that they would be available at Meijer (which we just recently got!!).  I left with so many goodies in my bag and I can’t wait to see what new stuff I find this year.

Some tips for you to help you make the most of the event:

  1. Bring cash.  Some booths do accept card, but it’s much easier to pay with cash, and some places don’t take card and you don’t want to miss out on anything you want to buy!
  2. Go early!  It fills up fast!  I get there right when it opens and it is packed in no time!
  3. Bring a backpack.  You will get samples and you will purchase things and your bag will get heavy!  Plus a backpack will make it easier when you are moving through the crowd (you won’t bonk anyone with the ginormous bag on your shoulder!)
  4. Bring friends.  There were several booths that were offering special pricing if you purchased more items and it’s nice to split that with friends. Plus, bringing friends to an awesome event is a great way to be a good friend 🙂
  5. Buy your tickets early to get the early bird pricing!
  6. Enter my giveaway for tickets!

Now that I’ve convinced you to go, here are the details:

The Expo is on May 14 & 15 and is in Schaumburg, IL.  There is always a lot going on at the venue, but there is a shuttle for the parking lot that is farther away.  And parking is free!

Get your tickets here:

Gluten Free & Allergen Friendly Expo Tickets

30% off  w/ code EARLYBIRD (thru 4/13)
20% off w/ code ADVANCE (thru 5/13)

If you want to win a ticket, leave a comment below telling me what gluten-filled thing you miss the most and that you hope you will find in a gluten free form at the expo! You have until April 10 to enter.  I will pick 5 winners on April 11 (I will use Random.org to pick the number of the comment that wins).  That way, if you don’t win, you can get your tickets for 30% off still 🙂

Here we are last year, and probably how we will look this year (only she won’t have a bink in her mouth anymore and hopefully she will be happier) :

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Disclaimer: I was provided with a weekend pass to the expo in exchange for promoting it.  All ideas and opinions are my own- I do absolutely LOVE this event!

 

Misadventures with my Mom

My mom was flying in to Midway airport today.  There.  I said it.  The two words that usually cause some kind of misadventure- Mom & Midway.

Midway is by far the cheapest place to fly into when it comes to visiting me.  It’s the farthest airport from my house, but her and I both like less flying time and you can fly direct from Buffalo to Midway.

EVERY time I fly there or she flies there, we have some kind of misadventure.  Whether it’s traffic getting there, or delayed flights….it’s never really smooth sailing.

Today was no different.  Her flight was set to arrive at 6:50am this morning.  It takes at least 1.5 hours to get to this airport.  So my husband and I decided to get a hotel room close to the airport the night before.  So Thursday after work we got in the car and were on our way.  We left at 4pm.  We got to the hotel at 7pm.  Traffic was horrendous.  And then it snowed.  On March 24! (We got less than the people up north so I shouldn’t complain!)

The hotel was nice.  The girls enjoyed swimming.  We had the pool to ourselves.

I woke up at 4am because Evelyn woke up.  I checked my phone to see the time and saw a text.  From my mom.  Her flight was cancelled.  What!!!!!!!??????

She received an email around 2am that her flight was cancelled.  Not delayed.  Cancelled.

So my aunt called and they booked her on the next direct flight.  It was set to arrive in Chicago at 6:50pm.  12 hours after the first flight.  In Chicago.  Where we were with our two children.

I was not equipped to spend the day in Chicago.  We had to check out by noon.  People with food allergies can’t just eat anywhere.  So then we’d have to find a place using my app that claims to be gluten free.  Then I would have to go in and ask my 20 questions (not really 20 I’m sure…well, maybe..). And we would have a cranky baby. (I should really stop calling her cranky.  She is a spirited/high-needs baby according to the internet.)  We also didn’t have our passes to get into any of the museums.  My husbands work gives us passes, but we weren’t planning on going there, so they weren’t in our wallet. (Yes, I now realize I should keep them in there no matter what.  But I have SO many cards!)

I started looking at flights on any airline.  Nothing was going to work. Then I checked Milwaukee. It was more expensive, but so is another night in a hotel, or spending the day in a big city like Chicago- with 2 children.  My mom agreed to Milwaukee, even though it was longer fly time, and a layover.  (I prefer to avoid those things too.  Layovers cause me stress and anxiety.)

I called to change her flight.  I politely told the nice woman named Diane that I was not pleased with the airline just canceling a flight with no explanation except for “operational”.  There was no bad weather to blame.  There simply was no explanation.  She said it could be that a lavatory was out of order.  Give. Me.  A.  Break.  They don’t CANCEL and ENTIRE flight because a bathroom isn’t working!  I was nice though.  And she said I might have luck calling customer relations on Tuesday.  (Monday will be a busy day since it’s Monday, and after a holiday.)

So, flight booked.  Hotel room packed.  Wait- where’s Evelyn?  Oh, just unrolling the ENTIRE roll of toilet paper in the bathroom.  Time to check out!

We drove in the parking lot over to another hotel that had a Starbucks inside.  The plan was for me to run inside and get one.  A venti.  Because I couldn’t make it home without one.  I run in.  Find the Starbucks.  Order my drink…and then “sorry folks, our card reader is down so we can only take cash…”  I thought it was a good thing I actually had cash.  I never have cash!  It still took about 10 minutes.  But she gave me a card for a free drink.  So there’s that…

It’s a good thing I had that drink.  Evelyn screamed the entire ride home. Thankfully it didn’t take 3 hours because traffic was much lighter heading OUT of the city.  As soon as he opened the garage door, her eyes closed.  Figures!  But she woke up when we opened the doors.  I managed to get her back down, but I didn’t dare set her down, so I held her while she napped.

A few hours later, I loaded the girls up in the van and headed to Milwaukee.  The drive was easy peasy!  Of course when I got to the parking garage I started to panic.  Oh my gosh!  Will my van fit??  It did.  I tested it slowly, just in case it started to pry off the top of my vehicle.

Of course in my heightened state of mind, I totally wasn’t paying close enough attention and I went the wrong way down a lane.  But there was no one else there.  So we parked and went in and found my mom!  Yeah!!  (First we found a Starbucks and got some treats.)

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The drive home was easy peasy and now everyone is asleep. Except me.  The person who drank a grande caffeinated coffee at 9pm tonight…

 

In fear of gluten

I live in fear of gluten.  It’s true. No, I won’t have an anaphylactic reaction to gluten.  No, I don’t think it will kill me.  But it will make me vomit.  And I HATE to vomit.  I hate the feeling before and the feeling after- it’s all miserable.  And there is no way for me to guess how long it will last.  Or if it was really gluten or a stomach bug of some sort.  So I live in fear.  Of gluten.  Mostly of the crumbs that may contain gluten.

I live in a house full of gluten.  I am hyper-aware of anything that contains it and I will avoid it.  And wash my hands excessively.  And wash things over and over again.  With new sponges.

And I watch people in my kitchen.  I’m sure I drive people nuts.  If I see someone set a utensil down on the counter I wonder if there is a crumb there.  When was the last time I cleaned the counter?  Are they planning to put that back in the food?  How can I distract them and put a new clean one out, on a clean plate that I’m also pulling out of the cabinet.  Fresh.  Gluten free.

I try to tell myself to chill out.  Relax.  Trust people.  Uh-huh.  You true them.  You vomit.  That’s what happens.

Even at work, on treat day, when people bring in a bag of something thats gluten free, or a fruit or veggie, I am very suspicious.  If it’s an unopened bag of chips I try to sneak in and get some in a bowl before anyone has the chance of sticking their hand in there.  A hand that may have a glutinous crumb on it somewhere.  If it’s fruit they prepared at home, I don’t bother.  They could have cut it on a counter that had crumbs.  Or used a knife that they just used to slice bread with that was put back in the drawer without being washed because it’s not “dirty”.

I scan everything with an app on my phone that tells me if an item has gluten in it.  I also have it alert me to aspartame, but that’s another story… I even scan bottled water. You never know what they will put in something.  The one time it said it was an at your own risk kind of thing because it didn’t have information about the water company.  So see?  There could be gluten floating in that water!

It was my birthday the other day.  I bought candles to put in the cupcakes I had made by someone I trust (imagine that! I do trust some people!) but there were no ingredients listed. So I wouldn’t stick them in my cupcake.  I put one in my older daughters and my husbands cupcake and I blew those ones out.  I couldn’t risk the fact that maybe they had gluten in the coloring of the candle.

Someone tole me about a new cafe in town that advertised gluten free goodies.  I walked in. I walked out.  They had a big display case of pretty, delicious looking food. But it was all in the same case.  Gluten filled and gluten free.  That to me does not mean gluten free.  That means crumbs of all shapes and sizes are floating around in there and contaminating the gluten free items.

Have you seen Monsters, Inc?  When they freak out and sanitize the monster that had a sock on them.  That’s my reaction to gluten.  I freak out.  Because I don’t want to vomit.  There is no pill I can take to lesson the effects gluten has on me.  I can drink some aloe to try to soothe my stomach.  I can use an oil blend to rub under my ribs to hopefully lessen the burn. But I can’t just pop a pill  and feel better.  Who knows, that pill might have gluten in it even if one did exist!