Monday, September 1, 2014

Meal Plan Monday - September 1

It's September! Happy Labor Day! If you, like me, have the day off of work, then I hope you are doing something fun.

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday: shepherd's pie with side salad

Monday: chicken and mushroom quesadillas

Tuesday: tuna sandwiches and fries

Wednesday: leftovers

Thursday: hash browns, eggs, bacon

Friday: cheesy ground beef casserole

Saturday: leftovers

What are you eating this week?

Friday, August 29, 2014

Gluten-Free London

We had a fabulous time in London AND we were able to eat gluten-free, unlike in Paris. Here is a list (with pictures!!) of some of the gluten-free food my husband ate and whether or not we would recommend these places.

1. Wahaca - If you like good Mexican food (yes, Mexican food in England), then you'll like Wahaca. The food was very good, especially the grilled corn with a chili-sugar-mayo spread on it and the chicken taquitos. My husband liked the chicken caesar salad tostadas the best. The service was good, too, with a very friendly and helpful waiter.

2. Pizza Express - We actually ate at Pizza Express twice during our stay in London. Yes, we enjoyed it! I had a chicken caesar salad when we ate there the first time for lunch, but then we both got pizza when we ate there again (at a different location, though) for dinner. It seems like these places are ALL OVER London, so you're sure to run across one while you're out sightseeing. It bills itself as a family friendly restaurant, so it's good for the kiddos.

3. Cotto - While I REALLY enjoyed my regular pasta formaggio, my husband was not wild about the gluten-free pasta offered at Cotto. He said it tasted like the pasta hadn't been cooked long enough. The service was also not very good. It took forever to get the check, and the two hostesses just stood around and chatted with each other. There was another couple sitting next to us who were ordering gluten-free, too, and they seemed like locals, so I guess they like the place.

4. Snog - We are kind of obsessed with fro-yo, and so for lunch one day, we hit up Snog. They have gluten-free cones and brownies! My husband didn't get a cone or brownie, though. He went, as he always does, for the healthy stuff like fruit. I piled my fro-yo with chocolate!

5. Honest Burgers - This was my husband's favorite place we ate in London! We are always down for a good burger, and the fries here were really good! Good service, too!

6. The Truscott Arms - If you're looking for a gluten-free pub experience, you can find it at The Truscott Arms. We went there during lunch, and it was pretty empty, but I bet it gets crowded when the after-work crowd swings in. I had the traditional fish and chips, but my husband got another gluten-free burger!

So as you can see, it's very easy to eat gluten-free while in London. I can add that to my list of MANY reasons why London is one of my all-time favorite international cities. 

Oh, and we also found gluten-free food at Tesco!!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Circle of Stones - YA Book Review

image credit
Told by three narrators, each from a different time period, Circle of Stones by Catherine Fisher combines myth and history to create a mysterious story.

Sulis lives in present-day Bath, England, and she's hiding from her past and from someone who keeps following her. Zac is an architect's apprentice in the 1700s, helping to build (or destroy?) what his master is trying to complete. And in ancient England, a druid king discovers the healing waters at Bath and sets up a new kingdom.

While it's interesting to see how each story is connected, I was a bit disappointed. I kept waiting for a big reveal, for something truly thrilling, for more of a connection between the three stories, but the book just didn't deliver. It does make me want to visit Bath, England, though, because the history of the place sounds intriguing.

This book is age-graded for 12+, and I'd say that's pretty appropriate. There are no bad words or teen sex or teen drug use, so that's always a positive in a YA novel!

Circle of Stones is published by Dial and is available to purchase today. I received a free review copy for my honest opinion.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Gluten-Free Paris

When we go on vacation, we always have to research gluten-free restaurants in advance so that we're never caught in a situation of "Well, now, where do we eat?" In 99% of the places we've visited, finding gluten-free restaurants has never been a problem. We've discovered some really cool and really yummy local places. And sometimes we just have to hit up a Red Robin, which is totally cool, too. 

We picnicked near the Eiffel Tower just like real
Parisians, except our picnic lunch was from Subway.
But eating gluten-free in Paris was ... a challenge. To start, there are only about three gluten-free restaurants in the entire city. And only one of those restaurants, Cafe Galette, was in an area where we were sightseeing. We were excited to try out its gluten-free buckwheat crepes. However, when we arrived at the restaurant, it was closed for vacation.

So.... yeah.

I'm not saying that if you have Celiac Disease you should never go to France. But you should just know what you're getting into. (And lack of gluten-free food is not the only thing. Think crowds, the constant smell of urine, pickpockets, and a terrible subway system. Not impressed.)

Jardin du Luxembourg: One of the only places we
enjoyed in Paris. Eat some sorbet while strolling through here.
We had thought about bringing in some of our own food, but we weren't sure what food would be allowed into Paris from out-of-country. (Turns out, we needn't have worried. When traveling to Paris by train, there is no customs when you get there, so I guess they just don't care.)

Thankfully, we weren't in Paris that long. Here are a few things that saved us: 

1. Subway - If you don't mind a bit of cross-contamination, you can always get a salad at Subway. There was a Subway by our hotel, and we finally came across a Subway on the day that Cafe Galette was closed.

2. Amorino - If you don't mind having gelato or sorbet as a meal, then I'd highly recommend Amorino. I had mango sorbet at the New York City location, and the raspberry sorbet in Paris was just as outstanding.

3. Chipotle - Yes, there was even a Chipotle within walking distance of our hotel at the Beaugrenelle Mall. However, it was closed due to an equipment malfunction, so that didn't really help us, but I'm sure it's open now that we're not there.

4. Marks & Spencer - As a last resort because the Chipotle was closed, we walked into the Marks & Spencer (or as the Brits call it "Marks & Sparks") on the same floor of the Beaugrenelle Mall and stumbled upon this sandwich. All the writing was in French, so we didn't understand much of it, but we did understand "sans gluten". WITHOUT GLUTEN!!!! 

It appeared to be some type of vegetarian, gluten-free sandwich. My husband bought it for dinner and actually liked it, so we went back to Marks & Spencer for dinner again the next night. 

When we went to Disneyland Paris, we knew in advance that the allergy-free meal you could order in the park was void of 16 potential allergens and therefore void of taste. This is NOT the experience you get eating gluten-free at Disneyland or Disney World, just so you know. So during our day at the park, my husband ate a salad at Planet Hollywood (bread is not listed as something that comes with the salad but it does, and it's on the same plate as the salad so ASK FOR NO BREAD) and ice cream for dinner.


And that was our gluten-free dining experience (and overall experience) in Paris. The first part of our trip was spent in London, and it could not have been more different! Thank goodness! Stay tuned to the blog for gluten-free London tips!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Dad is Fat - Book Review

My husband and I are fans of Jim Gaffigan's stand-up, so I was excited to see that Gaffigan's book Dad is Fat was one of the options through the Blogging for Books program. If you've got kids or if you don't have kids but like to laugh, then you'll like this book. It's jam-packed with Gaffigan's humorous musings on parenthood.

Gaffigan and his wife have five kids, so they have a lot of hilarious material. Some of what's in the book I recognized from his stand-up specials. (Oh, he's talking about home births again?) But that didn't make it any less funny. In fact, I almost LOL'd but I was reading the book on the bus and in Starbucks and didn't want people to think I was weird, so I made them think I was weird by stifling the laughs from coming out my mouth and bull-breathing them out through my nose. (Don't lie. You've nose-laughed, too.)

There are two things I really liked about this book. 1. Pictures! 2. Gaffigan's endorsement of the children's book Go, Dog. Go! It's such a great book, right? A classic from my childhood!

You should definitely follow Gaffigan on Twitter (@JimGaffigan) because I'm sure there is even more funny to be found there. Not to put undue pressure on the guy or anything. I'm actually going to tweet this review at him, and I expect one of two things to happen. 1. He never reads it because he has better things to do with his time, like parent five kids, or 2. He reads this and thinks, "This woman is weird. I bet she goes to Disney without kids."

Yes, Jim Gaffigan. I do.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Meal Plan Monday - August 25

We're finally back into the swing of things after vacation (which I'll be posting more about later this week), so Meal Plan Monday is back! Here's what we're eating:

Sunday: hot dogs, corn, side salad

Monday: chicken, bacon, cheese, and ranch salad

Tuesday: eggs, bacon, gluten-free waffles

Wednesday: on our own

Thursday: gluten-free macaroni and cheese with hot dogs

Friday: burgers and fries

Saturday: on our own

What are you guys eating this week? Any plans for the holiday weekend? I'm doing a Color Run and super excited for it! More on that later!

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Importance of Scrapbook Preparation

A few weekends ago, I attended a six-hour scrapbook crop through a local MeetUp group. I was a little nervous about going only because I usually have a hard time scrapbooking away from home. What if I need different sticker letters? What if I need an extra embellishment? What if I forget the adhesive? (That has happened to me before.)

So I decided to get my act together well in advance. I grabbed some empty 12 x 12 plastic bags, sorted through my pictures, and put together mini kits with all the stuff I could possibly think I'd need to get my pictures scrapped.

And because I was told that outlet space was limited, I brought one of my scrapbook sketchbooks so that I wouldn't have to rely on wasting the battery on my phone trying to access my Pinterest scrapbook board.

Did it work? Does finishing 10 scrapbook pages in six hours count as "yes"? YES. And here are just a few that I finished while at the crop.

our flat tire on vacation

first page of our visit to the
Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame Museum
at the county fair last year

The crop I went to actually went from 10 a.m. to midnight, but you had the option of only doing 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. I think six hours was PLENTY of time for me. Not sure I could keep up the momentum through midnight. Besides, midnight is past my bedtime anyway. 

What about you? Have you ever been to a scrapbook crop? How long can you last?