January 29, 2012

Fill in the Blanks: Pack Your Bags

This post was written on Friday, however, I didn't get to post it until now due to having a bit of a tumultuous day. More on that later...

Today is the kind of day when I want nothing more than to stay in bed with a nice hot cup of coffee, a cat asleep on my feet, and spend the day watching the Travel Channel. It's cold, rainy, dark, and the perfect kind of day to dream of going somewhere exotic, somewhere other than the dreary winter of New England. I am grateful for days like this, because they get my imagination cranking and the gears shift to thoughts of places I'd love to see, foods, I'd love to eat. So I was thrilled that Lauren from the little things we do had a bit of a jet-set theme for today's fill in the blanks. Also, a very big congratulations to her on her new little baby girl, Fern!

1. My favorite place I've ever traveled to is Mykonos, Greece. I loved everything about it. The food, the sights, the people. I wish we had more time there.

2. France is somewhere I'd love to go someday.

3. I pass the time on a plane (or bus, or car ride or train) by reading. I don't do a lot of reading in my free time, but traveling is one of the few times I can lose myself in a book for hours.

4. My three must-haves when I travel are my camera, snacks, and comfortable shoes.

5. My favorite travel companion is Sean. It's good to have an Eagle Scout by my side.

6. The craziest thing that ever happened to me while traveling is our day in Croatia on the Greece cruise. We did an off-roading jeep tour and we ended up in a ditch in the middle of nowhere, and another one of the 3 jeeps on the tour got a flat tire. Luckily, we had plenty of shade, a river, and our senses of humor to get us through. Also, it was Sean's birthday - the 4th of July. Talk about memorable!

7. The most exotic food I've ever tried while traveling is grilled octopus in Mykonos. Sean gets credit for ordering it, but I'd like to think I get some credit for trying a bite! It tasted like chicken.

8. If I could live anywhere else, I'd live in Napa Valley, California. It just seems like such a beautiful, relaxed place to settle down. 

9. I have been to 19 states in the U.S.

What have some of your favorite travel adventures been? Where would you like to go? As always, feel free to comment, or participate on your own blog!

January 22, 2012

The Goods

I had a freakishly vivid dream last night. I am not one to remember my dreams, which is a good thing because they are usually incredibly strange or scary. I especially hate the ones where you're in danger but you can't seem to move your feet. I also tend to have dreams where I can jump really high and stay suspended in the air for a period of time, kind of like Superman leaping over the tallest buildings. I enjoy those ones.

Last night's dream freaked me out in that there was nothing supernatural or strange. It felt, just, normal. I woke up thinking "What does this mean? Is this some subconscious desire? Or do I just have a crazy sweet tooth right now?"

In my dream, I opened a gluten free bakery shop called The Goods. I just decided to do it, and the very first day I opened it, it was a success. I decided to open it in the old store that my dad had his fishing and tackle shop in for nearly 20 years, which also happens to be in Sean's hometown in Massachusetts.

It was a small shop, decorated really funky and fun. There were a couple small cafe tables and chairs set up inside near the windows, a coffee bar at one end of the shop and a rack of books and magazines for customers to grab and read at their leisure as they munched on a cookie and sipped their coffee or tea. Outside, there were a few more cafe tables set up on a stone patio, surrounded by wildflower plantings and rustic lanterns. In the midst of a busy little part of town, it was a place of relaxation and enjoyment. No frills, just treats.

It wasn't a bakery where I made elaborate cakes for weddings and events, or even did mass orders for parties. It was just a place where I baked treats and people came in to enjoy them along with a cup of coffee, tea, or juice. I wanted people to be able to come and pick out a gluten free treat without worrying about the environment it was made in, and for there to be a selection beyond just a chocolate chip cookies or a blueberry muffin.

I am not sharing this to conjur up any ideas that this is something I am going to do, as you all know I do not consider myself to be a baker. But at the same time...wouldn't it be nice? I enjoy baking when I do it well. I enjoy talking to people and making them smile. I like the idea of having a small business that thrives and contributes something to a community.

I enjoyed this dream. It made me happy and felt effortless. Even if it was just a dream, it was nice while it lasted. And who knows, maybe someday...

January 16, 2012

Two Years

What do you get your husband for your second wedding anniversary to express your love and appreciation for him? Given that year two is "cotton" for traditional gifts, I went with this:

Today we celebrate two years of marriage, and all I can say is it keeps getting better. This year we went to the Metropolitan Opera to see La Boheme, we went on a cruise in the Caribbean, we moved to a new apartment, we attended the weddings of two great friends, and we accomplished quite a bit personally. There's a bit from the movie 500 Days of Summer that says "I love us", and that's how I feel in a nutshell. He is the best match I ever could have dreamed of, and I can't wait for what year 3 will bring!

Photo by the wonderful Jennifer Bacciocchi
Photo by Jennifer Bacciocchi
Photo by Jennifer Bacciocchi
Photo by Jennifer Bacciocchi

January 12, 2012

Happily Ever After + My First Giveaway!

After years of making wishes, Sean and I are finally taking one of our dream vacations together...

And we will likely visit this place everyday...

Babycakes recently opened a branch of their amazing bakery in Downtown Disney, and when it comes to cupcakes, there's no such thing as too many.

Sean went to Disney several times as a kid with his family, and I went once with my high school music trip. But when he was diagnosed with Celiac, he learned that Disney is actually an awesome place to travel if you have a food allergy! We've already planned out most of our meals, and notified them with our reservation that he has Celiac, so we can go an enjoy ourselves for a week in the parks without worry!

I. Can't. Wait.

Now here's the fun part...

While we can't pack you in our luggage and take you with us, I am so excited to announce my very first giveaway! I've been writing this blog for two years and I figure it's about time I give something away, and there is no time like the present!

It's no secret that baking is not my strong suit (but I'm getting there), but I love me some Babycakes baked goods. My mother-in-law, recently diagnosed with Celiac, gifted me with Babycakes: Vegan, (Mostly Gluten Free, (Mostly) Sugar Free Recipes From New York's Most Talked About Bakery for Christmas. I think she wants me to start bringing some of these treats when we visit home, what do you think? Well, hopefully I won't disappoint!

I am stoked to try my hand at these recipes, knowing the end result is soooo delicious, and I want to share this book with one of my lucky readers! The photography is fun and mouthwatering, and Erin McKenna's writing just makes me want to be her biffle (that's BFFL = tweenspeak for "Best Friend For Life"). There's also a really cool forward by the sexy Chef Tom Colicchio. The hardest part about having this book is not knowing what to make first! Sean votes for carrot cake cupcakes. I am leaning towards chocolate.

One winner will be chosen at random from all entries and receive one copy of Babycakes: Vegan, (Mostly Gluten Free, (Mostly) Sugar Free Recipes From New York's Most Talked About Bakery. The winner must live within the United States of America or Canada. Members of my immediate family are not qualified to enter (as you will reap the rewards of my baking for years to come - mwa ha ha). 

Here's how you can win!

You have 2 chances to enter this giveaway!

Entry 1 - Comment! Leave a comment on this entry telling me what your favorite baked good is!

Entry 2 - Fan TGFW on Facebook! Become a fan, and then come back here and comment to let me know! Already a fan? You can still use this as an entry by simply letting me know you're a fan in another comment! Woot!

Again, that's two separate chances to enter this giveaway - leave a comment, and become a fan on Facebook! And don't forget to tell me here if you became a fan! Just becoming a fan does not count as an entry. Be proud of your fandom! Fly your gluten-free freak flag!

The winner will be chosen at random on February 2nd (Groundhog Day!). That means the last chance to enter will be Wednesday, February 1 at 11:59pm Eastern Standard Time. I will announce here on the blog, as well as email the winner to let them know how awesome their day has become!

So back to Disney...

Have you ever been to Disney? What's your favorite ride or attraction? Do you think it really is the happiest place on Earth? We are going for 5 days at the end of February, and I can't wait to experience it all with Sean. What I am most excited about? The fireworks. There's nothing more magical to me than fireworks. 

And quality time with my husband. 

January 9, 2012

New Year, New Goals and Don Draper - OH MY!

Change is good. Growth, evolution, lessons learned, setting goals...all good things, which we should be doing and embracing.

I've been thinking a lot about this blog and the direction it's going. There are days when it feels like it's not going anywhere, that it's stuck. At the core, I really just love writing. I am not an amazing baker, I am not a chef...I'm just me: a woman married to a man with Celiac disease, enjoying life to the best of my ability. Sometimes I feel like I pigeonholed myself into writing about gluten-free living, when in actuality, I just want to share bits and pieces of my life and our marriage without necessarily having it revolve around all things gluten-free. After all, we don't sit on the couch at night discussing what it is to be gluten-free, the struggles and unfairness and misunderstanding we come across. We're more than that. Gluten-free living is a part of us, but it certainly doesn't define us.

This year I am going big or going home. This blog will be changing, evolving, and growing. It has to, or it's going to die, and I don't know about you, but I like being here. I love writing and that anyone could be reading this or no one could be reading it. This will be a process for me, but I'm really excited. More sharing, more discussion, more openness. Loving more, laughing more, unleashing myself from inhibitions and going after things I want. To fear less, to encourage more, and to milk 2012 for all it's worth. It's going to be a crazy ride, and I am seated, buckled in, waving my arms in the air and ready for take off.

If that's not enough to get psyched about.....OH MY! Mad Men returns on March 25th!

Pardon me while I drool just a tiny bit. He just smolders, doesn't he?

Anyways, have yourselves a great week and stay tuned for an exciting announcement later this week that has to do with being seated, buckled in, and waving my arms in the air!

January 6, 2012

Fill in the Blanks and Free Time

The word of the weekend is purge. I have 2 whole days to get my Christmas things tucked away until next year *tear*, clean out some closets, rearrange things so Sean comes home and can't find anything, and do a real deep clean. Winter is a tough time to stay on top of things. I am not Wonder Woman (although I do now have WW pajamas), but I definitely feel restless when things are in disarray. It bothers Sean to no end, I just can't sit and relax when there's "mess". So I guess it's a blessing on weekends like this where he's working all day and I have 8 solid hours a day to go all ninja on the joint.

And confession time: I like cleaning. 

I am weird. But it relaxes me. I like being on my feet and moving around the apartment, cranking up some tunes and freaking out Loki with the vacuum cleaner. So at the end of the day I can collapse on the couch and watch a movie or read my magazines or lose hours on my new iPad without getting a nervous twitch in my eye. 

Another confession: I am jealous of people who are not bothered by mess. Maybe someday I'll be that person. But for now, I'm a freak to the umpteenth degree who likes things put in their place. 

So today's fill in the blanks courtesy of Lauren at the little things we do talk about free time. Now that you know my deepest, darkest, freakiest secret...

1. One of my favorite things to do when I have free time is snuggle/play with Loki, watch Netflix with Sean, read blogs, Pinterest...I can't choose just one thing!

2. When I have free time I get distracted easily and usually end up spending half my time reading Facebook or pinning on Pinterest. If I'm going to actually clean or do something, I have to shut down the computer and walk away.

3. If I had an entire day completely to myself I would go into NYC with my camera and see where my feet take me. I'd request a window seat and eat breakfast at a little diner near Grand Central Station, Bloom's Delicatessen. I'd make sure to stop by Babycakes for a cupcake but mostly just walk around and do some street photography. Maybe I'll do that on Sunday.

4. I would prefer to spend my free time (alone or with others...) .... a mix of both. I value my quiet time because I spend time during the day in an office with people, eating lunch with people, and every other weekend we're with friends or family, so generally I like to spend free time doing my own thing. But I do enjoy catching lunch or grabbing a cup of coffee with a friend.

5. Most of my free time happens on weeknights. Sean usually works until at least 7, sometimes until 11, so the time between getting home and him getting home is mine. My weekends usually end up fairly busy, so a weekend day that has no plans or shoots is kept to myself.

6. The best thing about free time is that you can spend it however you choose! Sometimes I have nothing to do, but turn down seeing friends so I can have time to myself with no obligations. I think it's healthy to be able to spend time alone being still. If you're not cleaning or running errands, it's always good to have other interests to occupy your time that you truly enjoy.

7. The next time I have free time I am going to spend the day housekeeping so on Sunday I can play.

Stinky Face has all the free time in the world....don't mind the laundry pile on the piano. 

January 4, 2012

Diving Right In

New year? What? When did that happen? Look, I know New Year's kind of a big deal, but we are total party animals and spent Saturday night on the couch, Sean with a sinus/ear infection, watching Xmen: First Class. We climbed into bed around 11:55 and when the clock struck midnight, we kissed and fell asleep. Try not to be jealous.

Call it what you will, this year I was a-ok with not dressing up, driving somewhere, drinking copious amounts of wine and champagne, and spending Sunday with my head in the toilet. I have done that in years past, and this year was pretty damn nice. And easy. Just the two of us.

With said sinus/ear infection, and the cold I am currently nursing, I have been pumping out my chicken soup like it's my job. My husband called me a goddess Friday night when i delivered a fresh bowl of soup to him at work. It was the least I could do for a miserably sick man who had to drag himself to work despite not being able to really breathe. It's nice being called a goddess, though. I think it might be a trick of his to get me to bring him fresh dinner every night to work. I am on to your games!

Whatever his intention was (I think it was good ol' gratitude), I worked up batch #2 tonight, and added an couple little dashes of cayenne pepper and chili powder.

One of Sean's Christmas gifts - never be afraid to touch hot things again!

My dad always said there's no such thing as too much vitamin C in the winter. I think he's right. And the smell of fresh orange slices can do amazing things for the spirit.

A major perk of having a quiet New Year's Eve was getting up nice and early the next morning to go surprise friends in Philly for a visit. Kelly Anne's birthday was last week, and her fiance Dave planned our surprise visit beautifully. We had an awesome time with them bopping around the city.

King of the Photobomb

Park behind the art museum.

Behind the Art Museum

Dave and Sean hanging out with some peeps at the Comcast Center

The Philadelphia Mummers Parade

Sean tore his pants in this park, necessitating a trip to Macy's. 

City Hall

Lights Show in Macy's, narrated by Julie Andrews circa 1967.

A couple is serenaded by a street musician playing Auld Lang Syne.

I didn't take pictures, but we scarfed down burgers and fries (and I enjoyed a milkshake) at Bobby's Burger Palace, which is comparable to Five Guys Burgers and Fries, but dare I say it...better? Yes. They had more selection, less grease, and have dedicated fryers for their fries so you can enjoy them without worry. They don't have GF buns, but you can go bunless, or opt for "topless", where they serve your burger over a salad.

On our way home, we stopped off in Secaucus at Cheeseburger in Paradise and enjoyed some dinner. I loved the atmosphere at this place. Sean said it was "my kind of place" and boy was he right. The food was good - not amazing, but good - and it was nice to find another place in the area where Sean can dine comfortably and without worry.

So we eased into the new year pretty easily. We have some exciting things up our sleeves for 2012. High hopes and big dreams, as well as new adventures and experiences. So while this week I am a sniffling mess, I am excited to start writing some more fun stuff, sharing more photos, and making this a really fun site to visit.

For now, I am sadly undecorating our tree and contemplating leaving it up year round. It just makes me so happy. And I'm sure I could find some pink flamingo lights to decorate it with...