Is gluten-free really a thing?

Thursday, January 12, 2017

I have to admit, I've been very skeptical of the whole gluten-free business from the get-go.

I tended to agree with my allergist, who said the only people who truly need to be gluten free are those with celiac disease. The rest of these people, he averred, are middle-aged privileged women with nothing else to do but buy into the latest food fad.

This was a few years ago, before gluten free became as big as it is now, but even then I was a little shocked at his blatant dismissal of a whole group of people, especially since I could be considered one of its members!

But still, I tended to secretly agree with his assessment. I, myself, have got on too many bandwagons to count over the years, eagerly following the latest health trend, only to discover that it would soon be replaced by the next "life-saving and -enhancing" miracle supplement or food. 

But no, not now. I am older and wiser.

Except when I'm not.

You know, I think I really have found there's something to this gluten-free thing.

Several years ago, beautifully baked nice crusty French baguettes were a regular feature on our dinner table. Like three nights a week. There's nothing I liked better than biting into that crispy outer shell and the soft bread underneath. Slathered with real butter of course.

But then I decided I had to lose some weight. And to do that I gave up the white flour and white sugar. 

The first thing I noticed was that my joints didn't hurt anymore. (This was long before I lost all 30 pounds, so it wasn't the extra weight.) My fingers and elbows had been achy and arthritic-feeling, and all of a sudden, they were fine.

Hmmm . . . I thought, but then kind of forgot.

So fast forward to this past holiday season. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas I ate a lot of white sugar and white flour, more than I have for a long time.

I had totally forgotten about my achy joints as they hadn't bothered me in more than a year and a half.

And what do you know? My fingers became swollen and achy. It was a real "aha" moment.

Now I don't think I need to be one of those persons who scrupulously avoids every form of white sugar and flour forever. But I certainly have my eyes opened to the real experience of inflammation resulting from white flour. And I'm going to reduce my consumption of it to a very occasional thing. (I almost typed "treat," but I don't want to think of it as a treat I'm depriving myself of. It's all in the mindset, isn't it?)

And you know, the culprit could be the sugar. That causes inflammation, too.

In any case, these two, white flour and white sugar, are bad actors. And I have the evidence for myself now.

So I am no longer secretly rolling my eyes at my gluten-free friends. Sorry, people.


 So what say you? Are you gluten-free? Where do you weigh in on this? Do you think it's a fad, or a real issue? What other side effects, if any, have you noticed from gluten?

Romantic bridal shower tea

Friday, January 6, 2017

Instead of putting away all my Christmas decorations last week, I saved out the pink and silver and white baubles, and re-decorated for a bridal shower I hosted this week with the help of my amazing book club friends.

The same friends who gave my daughter such a beautiful shower this past June.

This time, the shower was in honor of another book club member's daughter. 

What a perfect opportunity to use all my favorite china and linens. A lot of pink was featured.

This Royal Albert teacup in Cheeky Pink was a Christmas gift from my daughter and son-in-law. It made its debut.

This blue teapot is new to me from eBay. I love the color and shape. The blue and pink teacup was a gift from a dear friend.

In fact, every teacup I own has its own special story.

This tree was so fun to do. I'm thinking I may keep it up for awhile.

 I had fun bling-ing up the chandy, too.

And changing out the Christmas wreath on the front door for a wintry and feminine one.

Oh, I adore this retro pink and gold-starred teacup. And these linens are probably 100 years old. Soft with age and sturdy still.

I usually complain when the next up-and-coming holiday is rushed in before the current one is even over. But I was happy this year to find Valentine's Day decor already in the stores. 

I found this cute little sign at Target. Perfect for a bridal shower.

And this one, too.

And little heart-shaped cinnamon candies. I put these in some cranberry hobnail dishes I also found at Target. (I loved the matching glasses so much I went to four Target stores and bought up all the ones they had!)

Another sweet find -- glittery pink candles. I've displayed them on my grandmother's red transferware plates.

I put together little favors for the guests in keeping with our tea party theme. Little muslin bags I found on etsy filled with four different teas and tied with a sweet pink ribbon and a little tag.

"The Perfect Blend" . . . with the bride and groom's names and wedding date.

I also found these beautiful laser-cut paper wraps on etsy. They go around paper muffin liners, and are perfect for little treats for guests. Again, I was happy to be able to find pink Valentine's Day M & Ms already available in the stores. Along with some salted cashews and almonds, they made a pretty table decoration, too.

I didn't get any food photos, as I took all the pictures before anyone arrived, and my friends brought all the food. Except for the scones. I made lemon poppyseed and cherry pecan scones.

I also made clotted cream. I had never made this before. I guess I always thought clotted cream was really just whipped cream. But I decided at the last minute I better look up a recipe just in case. Oh. It's not whipped cream at all. 

You take heavy whipping cream, not ultra-pasteurized. I had to go to a second store to find some cream that was only pasteurized. You pour it into a shallow glass dish and put in a 180 F oven for 12 hours. Skim the cream off the top, and that's your clotted cream. (Save the thinner liquid underneath for biscuits or pancakes or another recipe).

So, by the time I figured this out and went to the store, it was afternoon. I got it in the oven, but because I had to let it cook for 12 hours, I had to get up at 2:30 a.m. to take the stuff out of the oven!

Wow, was it worth it, though. Delicious!

This is one of the serving stations set up in front of my dollhouse. My book club friends brought chicken salad croissants, tiny cucumber and egg salad and salmon sandwiches, bite-sized quiches, and an array of desserts.

And a pink sherbet-y punch.

The guest of honor was seated in a specially decorated chair.

I also redecorated this little Christmas tree with some Twinings Winter Spice tea bags and some silver beads and bulbs.

And how cute is this little elephant teapot and her little creamer and sugar babies?

One of my favorite china patterns is Royal Albert's Lady Carlyle.

 I love to bring out all my lovely old things, many of them heirlooms, others gifts from special friends, and others found on trips to the antique store or found during happy etsy or eBay searches. It seems sad to let them languish in the cupboards. 

Hosting a tea party/bridal shower using all linens and china and silver and flatware is definitely more work than going the paper plate and napkin route, but it adds such a special touch of elegance to an event. I think it says to the guests and the guest of honor "you're special and deserve the very best. We love you and want to honor you."

But thank goodness for a china cycle on my dishwasher! And friends who stayed to do the hand washables. 


Thanks to everyone who commented on my last post about foundation. Some of you had some great tips. I don't think I'll be giving it up anytime soon. Love playing with makeup almost as much as playing with my teacups!

Do you wear foundation?

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Yesterday I was reading one of those articles that are always popping up in my social media feeds. It was something like "20 Beauty Mistakes You're Making." Okay, I always, almost, waste time by clicking on these articles. And it struck me how many of the "mistakes" listed had to do with wearing too much makeup. There was the one about not wearing shorts too short, but I guess I don't have to worry about that anymore.

Long, fake nails, super-heavy false eyelashes, too black or too much eyeliner, too heavy on the eyebrow pencil. Too much bronzer, too much foundation.

At one point I thought, gee, why bother with it at all? 

I've already given up on concealer (too cake-y, too fake, too hard to blend, argh . . . ).

I never really used powder or bronzer (powder just settles, and I never cared about mastering all those complicated bronzer/highlighter charts).

I don't often pencil in my eyebrows.

Now I'm wondering if I should even bother with the foundation.

Okay, I know that "too much foundation" is different than "no foundation." But sometimes I don't get it blended perfectly. Or it settles in the cracks. Is it worth it?

These are my two favorite foundations at present. I use only a large pea-sized amount. 

This primer is wonderful, and sometimes I use it all alone, with no foundation. No worries about blending, and it just glides on. Is this enough?

Oh, dear. A dirty doily. Why do I notice this stuff after I post the picture?
I think my foundation might go on a little more easily if I remembered to exfoliate on occasion or to use a facial mask. I bought the ladies in my family some of these for their Christmas stockings, and a few made their way into mine, too.

I do like the French concept of le no makeup look. But we all know that it takes careful application of some makeup to achieve it. Or else they are just taking super great care of their skin.

Do you use foundation to cover the little spots and imperfections? Too smooth out everything? Or do you face the world Unmasked and Unrepentant?
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