Wednesday 30 May 2012

A Beacon of Light in Cardston

Previous to meeting my husband, I despised camping. I despised the bugs and the dirt and the cold and the craptastic food. My idea of roughing it was staying in a hotel without a pool. However, Trev is a solid camper and knows his shit about the rugged outdoors. Within a few months of us meeting, had me sitting in a hammock deep in the Rocky Mountains loving life.

Then we had kids and tried to camp in a tent. It was by far the stupiest thing we have ever done. The experience was so horrific, it made me question every decision I have EVER made in my life. It was like “SAW” was being filmed at Boulton Creek Kananaskis.

To make a long, hilarious story short, our last tenting trip ended with both kids scarred for life, me crying and trev throwing the tent in the dumpster and giving the dumpster the finger. True story.

So THEN we got a trailer and camping got AWESOME! We love traipsing around Alberta, BC and yes even Saskatchewan visiting some cool and some not so cool campgrounds. As long as I have a roof over my head and my spawn have dry clothes I am one happy lady.

One of the best things (I think) I do is I insist on trying new campgrounds, new little towns and new places to visit. I don’t want to go to the same places every single year. What can you learn from that? This May Long Weekend (for my Non- Canadian readers, it is a long weekend in honor of Her Majesty Queen Victoria) I decided that we and our friends should go to Cardston, a small town about two and a half hours south of Calgary.

After visiting the Remington Carriage Museum (which doesn’t sound cool but actually was uber awesome), we thought we might find somewhere for us all to grab a bite to eat. Now, I know, having Celiacs seriously limits my options here but I thought I would see if any selections were available. We found the visitor information desk in Cardston and to be honest, they were very nice but not very much help. They didn’t even have a phone book. Odd.

Anyway, there seemed to be a few main restaurants in town and two that the info ladies suggested would be good for lunch – although, they didn’t know their phone numbers. So we finally goggled them and I called the Smashed Tomato first. A very nice lady answered the phone. When I explained that I had Celiacs and was wondering if she had any options for us, she regrettably admitted that they might have a couple salads but that she had not done any allergy awareness in her restaurant. She apologized and said that it was certainly on her to do list. I thanked her profusely for her honestly because really, I would rather honesty than getting sick.

But there is honesty and then there is down right rudeness.

Rudeness is what I got when I called Athens Family Restaurant. Here is how the convo went.

Lady, “Athens”

Me, “Hi there, sorry to bother you.”

Lady, “Grunt”

Me, “Ummm, ya, so I was going to come to your restaurant for lunch today. The only thing is that I have Celiac’s disease and I can’t eat any Gluten. I was wondering if you have a Gluten Free menu or items?”

Lady, “Hold on,”


7 Minutes later – in Cardston she could have walked to me by that time

Lady (super snarky), “You will have to call back.”

Me, “Well, ya I would love to but I wanted to come in now.”

Lady, (snarky-ness continues) “And what did you want then?”

Me, “I have Celiac’s Disease and I cannot eat Gluten. I was wondering if you can accommodate anyone with Celiac’s?”

Lady (laughs – LAUGHS!) “No, nothing like that. We can’t serve you here and I don't have time to talk to you."


She should go and find our old tent and see what happens when you piss me off.

Anyway, the LAST hope in Cardston is the Lighthouse Bakery. The fact that it is called a bakery does not bode well but I call anyway. The lady on the phone could not be more thrilled to hear from me. Her name is Tessa and with her husband, run the Lighthouse bakery. She gleefully told me that she had a freezer full of gluten free baking and full knowledge of cross contamination issues and hidden sources of gluten so we hot-footed it over to the Lighthouse Bakery.

Once there, I had a lovely Gluten Free burger and a bowl of gluten free soup. It was delicious! Mix that up with Tessa and her warm demeanor and you have yourself a winner.

The only thing that I would ask for is a few healthier options especially for the kids; maybe baked and home-breaded chicken fingers rather than the fried popcorn chicken and some fresh veggies, salads and the like?

Huge thanks to the Lighthouse Bakery for being a beacon of gluten free goodness in Southern Alberta. We can’t wait to visit again on our next adventure.

Oh ya, and I gave the Athens Restaurant the finger on the way by.

Tuesday 22 May 2012

Count your Blessings

I am a huge fan of gratitude. I think that the more grateful you are…the happier you are.

This is a post about Craft Beer Market. I have to be honest that I have not always been thrilled with the Craft Beer Market. Back in August, I took my husband there for dinner for his birthday because I heard they had lots of Gluten Free options. I however, somehow got glutened. There was some sort of miscommunication and no one was notified of my Celiacs. Normally, Craft Beer Market has outstanding policies in place but everyone makes mistakes.

That night, I knew that I was getting sick but I was determined to not ruin Trev's birthday. So I insisted that we stop at chapters on our way home from the dinner so my husband could pick out a new book. I hid from Trev in the stacks so he would not see the pain I was in. I got many a strange look from customers as I crawled between the shelves stifling grunts of agony. Eventually, because he isn't a moron, Trev found me. He followed the moaning. I was lying in the kiddie teacup in the fetal position looking very much like livestock trying to give birth. He ended up almost carrying me to the car…happy fucking birthday doll.

I was telling this story to some friends at a movie theatre and they were all laughing at my pain when my dear friend Leisa said , “You should start a blog…” and that’s where this all started.

After hearing about my experience, the manager at Craft Beer Market promptly contacted me, apologized and sent me gift cards for the full amount of our meal. I have been thrilled with them ever since.

They have further redeemed themselves with their most recent Brewmasters Dinner. My sorority sister Demia invited me out on a hot date and she still treated me even though I made it clear that I wasn’t going to put out. She’s solid like that.

Turns out that this was the largest Brewmasters Dinner that Craft Beer Market has ever had and they nailed it.

Every course was paired with a Gluten Free Beer and featured the baking and cooking love from Kerry Bennett and her team at Care Bakery. Now, Care Bakery has perfomed some sort of Gluten Free magic in that they have created Gluten Free Breads that are better (that’s right BETTER) than their glutened counterparts. You have most likely eaten Care Bakery goods because they can be found at restaurants throughout the city.  For a list of where you can find their yumminess, visit their website.

As a matter of fact, Demia and I were lucky enough to be sitting at Kerry’s table. At one point during the SIX COURSE meal, I saw a server walk past with a bowl of buns. They looked like scissor buns (you know the ones your grandma made for thanksgiving? Ya, that’s what they looked like)

So I turn to Demia and I say, “It takes a special kind of asshole to walk through a room full of Celiac’s with a bowl of fucking bread….seriously.”

To which Kerry infoms me that THAT BREAD WAS FOR ME!!! They made it at Care Bakery, that morning, for me…..that’s right suckers….I got buns! And not just lame, brown rice flour buns that crumble….they were astoundingly good. So good in  fact that I took a moment of gratitude for the blessing of being a Celiac and being so lucky to have something so lovely. It was grand.

These are Gluten Free - should have tasted them. All soft and gorgeous!

The entire meal was amazing in fact. It truly was special to NOT have to check everything that came to my place. I didn’t have to worry one little bit about if I could or couldn’t eat something, for that, I was so grateful.  Demia and I were stuffed and yet just kept eating because it really was that good. It was a fantastic evening with a dear friend and an abundance of good, wonderful food made with so much love it almost hurt to eat it. Almost.

The Menu

 First Course – Chicken and Waffles (fried chicken - that's right people - I ATE fried chicken)

Second Course – Spragg Farms Roasted Pork Loin Taco (soft shell hmmmm)

Third Course – Double smoked bacon and Poplar Bluff Potato (perogies - you could taste the love)

Fourth Course – Braised Pork Shoulder (this is where the buns came in)

Dessert – Apricot Tart (so wonderful)

It was really fantastic. Craft Beer Market and Care Bakery really Spoiled us Celiacs.
So I count the blessings I was given:
I am grateful to Craft Beer Market inspired this blog which has provided endless hours of fun for me and hopefully for you. It also has shown great customer service and a dedication to the health and happiness of Celiac’s in Calgary

I am grateful for good friends like Demia for my hot date night and for Leisa for suggesting I write my crazy world down for you all.

I am grateful that there are places like Care Bakery who constantly strive to perfect their art. Trust me, taste their wares and you will know what I mean.

I am blessed.

Sunday 13 May 2012

Well, now isn't that special!

I am special

We Celiacs are special. Make no mistake, we are. There is a fine line between being a VIP and being a pain in the ass. This is the line I dance upon every single day, this is the line on which I live my life.

We Celiacs need to stop winching and whining about our Celiacs.



BE Special because you ARE special.

We need to stop seeing our Celiacs as if it is some miserable death sentence becuase life is about perspective.

You can be a whiner or you can be extraordinary. It’s your choice.

I choose the latter. And by choosing being extraordinary, I spend my time at places that treat me as such.

Case in point, The Ochre Grill. I know that I have talked about them before but they really need a second mention here. As far as Celiacs go, they make it clear that we are special.

I would say that 85% of their menu is available in Gluten Free, they have EXTENSIVE procedures in place to ensure that Celiacs and people with Gluten sensitivities are  safe at their restaurant. It is one of the only places that I eat at that I don't have to worry. When Trev asked where he and the spawn should take me for my Mother’s Day dinner, The Ochre was my first choice. I get to have things there that I can’t have anywhere else. For dinner tonight, I had French Onion Soup, Calamari, stuffed Chicken Breast and a Lava Cake. It was a joy-gasim type meal…completely rich and indulgent.

 Why did I get such a wonderful Gluten Free meal on Mother’s Day?

 Because I am special, that’s why.

Just like you.

We as Celiacs need to stop asking permission for our disease, we need to own our special- ness. And yes, sometimes it sucks to have Celiacs but most of the time, it’s not THAT bad. We could have a life threatening disease, one that would inevitably kill us or one that would make us sick every single day – like needle in our arm everyday kind of sick. We could get a diagnosis and find out that our life timeline will end soon and all those precious moments will be spent in a hospital bed.

Perspective, now you have it…you are welcome.

We could be a shitty type of special but no, we are just special.

Find a restaurant that makes you feel special not because you are a pain in the ass but because you deserve it. If you are in the Calgary area, I suggest The Ochre Grill, they will be just as wonderful to you as they are to me. If you aren’t in Calgary, get looking for somewhere that makes you feel as exceptional as you are.

Stop whining, stop complaining, just breathe...because you can.

Every day, take a deep breath and know you are extraordinary.

 Just like me.

Tuesday 1 May 2012

Stupid is as Stupid Does


/ [stoo-pid, - adjective, stu·pid·er, stu·pid·est, noun


lacking ordinary quickness and keenness of mind; dull.


We have all done stupid things. Of course it is far more enjoyable to WATCH someone do stupid things. Case in point : The Three Stooges or Jackass. We love these things because they make us feel better about ourselves.

You watch as three men cannot carry a ladder without damn near killing themselves and you turn to your friends and say, “see? We aren’t the dumbest assholes in the world.”

You watch a guy snort wasabi up his nose and think, “Holy shit, I am the smartest Motherfucker in the world”

It doesn’t even have to be on TV.  Put your hand up if you watched some stupid drunk ass lady decide to stand up and sing at a wedding. You giggle with glee as she wrestles the mic away from the MC, wipes sweat from her brow and sways (not with the music) while belting out her own rendition of “I will always love you”.

Stupid is as Stupid Does

However, it’s not so great when YOU are the stupid one. It’s not good at all. Now don’t get all Deepak Chopra on me and say something like, “I have no regrets. I embrace all my mistakes with the clarity of my astrological sign”.

Shut up you liars. Don’t tell me that you don’t regret the time you thought a shopping cart was a clever mode of transportation. AND you intensely regret eating that “meat” burrito from the van under a bridge. Don’t lie, you do.

And I regret getting lazy. That’s me, lazy and stupid, well, I was for a short moment. I am generally a keen and astute human being but Saturday night, I had a brief relapse in my intelligence and I became deeply stupid.

We have been eating out a lot lately because we are getting our kitchen renovated. My new kitchen is going to be a stunner, but currently, looks like something that just suffered at the hands of looting rioters. So, on Saturday I took the youngest Spawn out for a girls dinner. We have gone to this particular restaurant many times and I have NEVER had a problem. The servers know us there, they know I have Celiacs and they have always taken excellent care of us. I ordered a soup and Caesar salad which is something that I have never ordered there before.

When it arrived, I broke one of my own rules. I didn’t make sure it was Gluten Free. My own server ran it out, I know he knows that I have Celiacs, I have literally eaten dinner at this same place for the last three days so…I got stupid and I got lazy and I didn’t double check.

There were no croutons on my salad so I (STUPIDLY) assumed that the little white triangles tucked around the salad were a rice wafer or GF bread (both of which they have served me at this restaurant).

I was stupid – hit me in the face with the shovel…I ate one.


The server came by and when I asked what these delicious little triangles were, he looked completely horrified and almost yelled, “you can’t eat that!”

Stupid Stupid Stupid Me

They could NOT have apologized more. They packed up the Spawns spaghetti and let me run out the door without paying before I got sick. They were so very sorry. And I appreciate how much they cared.

 But really, whose fault was it?

Yes, the chef put the bread on my salad after making sure that it had no croutons. Maybe a manager checked the bill too before it went out. The server took the salad out to me and put it in front of me.

But who’s responsibility is it after all?

Me stupid, that’s who.

I am responsible for what goes into my body, it’s my job to make sure what I eat is safe. Yes, we have to rely upon others to feed us at times but ultimately, it is our obligation to keep ourselves out of trouble.

And man was I EVER in trouble. I have ever only had Cross contamination problems since my diagnosis. I haven’t actually eaten bread for fuck sake.

*side note for the non-Celiacs out there. The longer you are away from Gluten, the worse your reaction is*

I almost went to the hospital even though I knew that there was nothing they could do for me there. I deeply felt like I was in serious medical danger - that I was injured and should be under someone’s medicinal care. It was really really bad. I would never go into the details because let’s be honest, you don’t care but I can tell you that I am at day 3 and it still feels like someone is stabbing me in the gut when I eat anything. Good times.

Stupid is as stupid does. Learn from my regret. Always, every time, no matter what, ask what you are being served. If you don’t, I have a shopping cart with your name on it.