Day 28

Day 28.  I have a lot of catching up to do.  I’ll start with the Natural Food Styling & Photography Workshop by Lara Ferroni.  I spent day 28 driving three hours to Seattle, and spent half the day attending this class.  In less than five hours Lara packs in a lot of information on the basics of food styling.  We charged through many topics; lighting techniques using natural light, setting up the shot, camera angles, tips and tricks of bouncing and absorbing light.  Then onto props and simple plating of food for the most attractive shots.  She shot first, then let us pull props of our own, plate our own food, and have fun with our cameras.

It was fantastic!  I loved every minute of it, and now I am hooked.

These photos are a few of my best shots of the day.  Unedited – straight out of the camera.

So many tips.  So many lessons.  One big lesson – over ripened fruit should not be cut in half and photographed because it appears mushy and unappetizing.  I loved that she let me figure this out on my own.

Now it’s time to keep practicing and build my prop collection.  I’m on the hunt for a couple of plates like the one used in the fruit shot.  I bought this little gem the day after the workshop while on a mad search for vintage housewares on etsy.

Now I just need to figure out my shooting area where I can get loads of natural light.  If you’ve been to our house, you’ll know that I’m challenged by our galley kitchen with only a little space next to a south facing window.  During the summer our huge east facing, single pane window is covered in space age reflectors to keep our house cooler.  I’ll be happy when I can take those down and use our dining table as my shooting area.  For now I’ll have to get creative.

Lara’s Seattle loft studio has two grand, north facing windows.  I’m not sure how tall the ceilings are, but I’m guessing close to 15′, maybe more.  The walls and ceiling are painted white which just floods the space with amazing light.

I definitely need a new tripod.  My cheap little piece of crap can’t even hold the weight of my camera anymore, especially at a portrait 45 degree angle.  That will most likely be my next investment.

Of course I’m dreaming of a Canon EOS 5D Mark II which will soon go on my vision board.  In addition of dreaming of a new camera, I’m dreaming of my perfect kitchen.  Like this north-facing gem in Chris and Lisa Goode’s NYC rooftop home featured in NY Magazine.

Kitchen image courtesy of NY Magazine.

I’m off to dream a little dream, and will continue catching you up with more posts later.

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Day 27

Day 27.  I know, I know… this car is not food.  But it does lead to food in a round-about way.

I was excited to get to pilates to show Holly how well my feet were doing.   On the way out the door I had grabbed my SLR because I intended to go to the farmer’s market after my session for veggies, fruit and a few snaps for August Break.

I decided to take my time getting down the to farmer’s market, and was sure glad I did.  An unexpected surprise for the day, a street fair right in front of the pilates studio.  I was met with all kinds of fun surprises; a kids on bikes parade, a dog parade, a vintage car parade.  So fun.  It reminded me to just slow down for the day, have no agenda and just see what happens.

On day 25 another box for the pantry arrived – La Tienda’s Organic Purple Corn Flour from Peru.  How exciting!  After my first semi-successful baking project I was ready for another.  Last month I spied this scrumptious looking Gluten-Free Purple Corn and Banana Muffin recipe over at Cannelle et Vanille.

I used agave nectar in the recipe but used all the other ingredients, following the recipe exactly.  I was feeling a little indifferent as I started making the batter, kind of expecting it to look like the batter from the previous day’s muffins.  Not at all!  It looked like muffin batter, it behaved like muffin batter.  I filled the muffin tins and added fresh blueberries to half.  Fifteen minutes later when I peered into the oven I let out a squeal of delight.  I started dancing around the kitchen.  They rose beautifully, they browned beautifully, they smelled delightful.

So good!  And they were delicious with our Kickin’ Collard Greens and Rice dinner.  Especially good with a little drizzle of honey on the plain ones.

Now I’ve got the baking bug.

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Day 26

Day 26.  It’s time to start baking again.

I love baking, and miss it.  Gluten-free, sugar-free and dairy-free baking will be a new challenge for me.  Due to a larvae and moth infestation over a month ago, we had to throw out most of the food in our pantry.  The timing was actually quite good.  For the last two weeks I ordered a couple of books, been reading blog recipes and stocking our pantry.  Day 26 I was ready to bake.

The first book I received was Easy Gluten-Free Baking, by Elizabeth Barbone.  Her book received a lot of good reviews on Amazon, and I was impressed that she does not have allergies or gluten intolerance, but as a professional baker liked the challenge gluten-free brought to baking and wanted to create a book of classic recipes just as delicious as ones with traditional ingredients.  The recipes aren’t sugar-free or dairy-free, but that shouldn’t be a problem substituting.  After the first review of her bread recipes, I realized I need to find a good dairy-free, dried milk substitute – I’m on the hunt.  But for now I have everything I need for her quick bread recipes.  Since I had just picked a bunch of blueberries recently the blueberry muffin recipe seemed to be a good place to start.

I followed the recipe, deciding to try date sugar as my sugar substitute.  Mixing up the batter I noticed it didn’t have the consistency of regular muffin batter.  It was thick and wasn’t  pouring into the muffin cups.  My intuition told me to add an additional binder, like another egg or applesauce.  Intentionally I didn’t.  I wanted the first attempt to have just one substitute and no adjustments.

They looked fine right out of the oven.  The date sugar made them darker in appearance.  So the taste?  They were good.  A little gritty which I think was from the date sugar, and they crumbled apart a bit.  If I made them again and used date sugar I would add another egg or applesauce for much needed moisture and take away some of the gritty texture.  All-in-all, not bad for my first gluten-free baking experience.

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Day 24-25

Not at all related to my August Break sunflower photo is a subject I’ve been obsessed with lately.

Poop, kaka, guano, number two, bowel movements, BMs, elimination.

You get the picture.  Does anyone mind if I talk about pooping?  Because everyone poops right?  There’s even a book.  Okay, not just one, but many.  This happens to be a favorite book for children.

It a big topic in our house.  Before becoming GF/DF/SF/CF/AF I had a hard time eliminating every day.  Often it would be two, three, maybe four days before I’d have any need to go.  I know, I know… TMI.  You may or may not relate.

Most of my life I’ve been the jealous type.  Jealous of you regulars, and you know who I’m talking about.

But lately, I’m a changed person!  I’m like a parent with a toddler learning to go number two!  There’s a lot of rejoicing, and mainly by myself because I work out of my home.  Yes, me, myself, and I are jumping around every morning.  All in the name of poop.

Day 25, I’m on a call with a colleague and get this amazingly sharp pain in my lower abdomen.  Immediately it felt like it was female organ related, but my cycle is still further out.  I end my work day and lay down for a moment because I’m in great pain.  Then it shifts to my left stomach, large intestines.  I think – gas bubble?  I continue on with my evening, making dinner, eating, writing a post for the blog.  Oh the pain.  By the end of dinner I am doubled over.  I can’t find a comfortable position laying down in bed, or sitting in a chair.  The chills begin and I start feeling nauseous.  I tell Josh because I wasn’t sure if I was going to need to go to an emergency room or just need help.  All through the night I was in this condition.  By morning I was better, but still in a little pain.  By mid-morning my system called for an immediate trip to the bathroom.

Okay… I just want you to know, if it weren’t so gross I would have taken pictures to share.  I pooped an enormous amount.  A freak show amount.  What had left me debilitated the night before I’m certain was a gigantic gas bubble.  Because I felt much better immediately.

Reviewing what I ate the day before that might have caused such a reaction?  We had fish for dinner that turned out to be bad (see below).  I thought food poisoning, but Josh felt fine.  The rest of the meal was nothing new to my system.  The only other food that was new was cantaloupe.  I had not had any cantaloupe yet this summer, and I had eaten half a cantaloupe that day.  I think that my body was either intolerant of said fruit, or it was in there cleansing my system like no other.

For another two days my large intestines grumbled and were very tender to the touch on my left side.  Poor Josh.  I really scared the poop out of him.  He’s really been through a lot with me and my health.  What a trooper!

Oh, that fish.  I was so disappointed.  I had picked up what appeared to be a beautiful slab of salmon that day.  Hoping to recreate some elements of that fantastic chef meal we had the previous Friday, I roasted fingerling potatoes with garlic, red and green onions.  Even though our meal looked lovely, it sucked.  The fish was bad (it didn’t smell bad when I opened the package), and the fingerling potatoes were so dry.  Not a satisfying meal at all.  Good news, is that QFC refunded me for the salmon.

Sometimes I just loose my cooking goddess in the kitchen. The glazed salmon recipe was inspired by A Chow Life.  Too bad it was inedible.

So, how about you?  Have you pooped today?  Do you love my topic?  Did I make you laugh, squirm, or nod your head in agreement and understanding?

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Day 23

Day 23.  My August Break picture for the day – juicy kiwi fruit.  I love to take a small spoon and just scoop the fruit right out of their skins.  The perfect afternoon snack.

I trip to the doctor today confirmed a 5 lbs weight loss and a 4% BMI reduction.  My feet are getting better once again.  Now I just need to get my energy levels up more and get my feet in order so I can start working out.

When I work out now my feet get really angry.  If I just walk down the street my left shin will start to burn and then my foot will start cramping.  Sometimes my toes will actually curl up.  It’s painful and not so charming.  It’s much like the ‘Silly Walk’ skit straight out of Monty Python.  Sometimes I end up in tears and completely frustrated.  Some people have told me to suck it up and just keep trying everyday.  I have but things didn’t improve.  I’ve tried different shoes.  Even a few minutes on the Wii Fit Plus marching or running in place will result in cramps.  The Segway routine is really challenging because I’m balancing on the front part of my foot.  It’s also interesting that in the documented photos of my swollen feet, it is my right foot that swells up more, and it is my left foot that is numb and gets the angriest.

So dear readers, I promise you and me that soon I will try going for a neighborhood walk.  I may even take my camera along to record the event.

On day 22 I mentioned that I have taken an interest in making big improvements in my photography.  Before I started this blog I found so many gorgeous gluten-free bloggers with amazing photography like, Cannelle et Vanille, Gluten-Free Goddess and so many others.  It inspired me to seek out a food styling and photography workshop.  On Day 27 I will head to Seattle to take an afternoon workshop from Lara Ferroni.

Seriously, how divine are her images?  Just gorgeous.

I told you about purchasing new, white dinner dishes.  Everywhere I go now, I’m looking for the perfect dishes for plating food.

Of course I couldn’t show up to a photography workshop looking non-professional, so I ditched my old camera bag, which I hated and my cat had chewed up, splurged, and picked up an Epiphanie bag.  The ‘Ginger’ to be exact.  I thought I could make my own, but over the last few months, it just hasn’t been a realistic goal.  Maybe I’ll make a bag some day.  Then I’ll have two fabulous camera bags.  For now… the ‘Ginger’ will do.

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Day 22

Day 22!  Woot!  Half way there.  A successful 22 days of GF/DF/SF.  Some days are just bananas.  (that’s me trying to be funny).  Who knew I’d be mourning cheese or a latte?  I’ve quit coffee and sugar before, but at different times.  The first time I went off sugar I was incredibly fit and my body just didn’t need it.  Actually the taste of it disgusted me.  It’s all different this time.  This time I’ve given up so many things.  So many foods that were part of my emotional coping mechanism.  There is some fear when I think about reintroducing certain foods back into my diet.  I just don’t want to EVER be where I was three weeks ago.

My plan is to remember the goal I set for myself.  Five weeks ago I started taking action to figure out my health and well-being.  I felt I was headed down a dark path and I seriously was not happy.  Just before I decided to purchase Dr. Hyman’s Diabesity Prescription I found this Are You Happy mind map image in my vision board file.  I found this image a year ago when I started Unravelling, and quickly filed it away.  When I saw it again, I thought – NO is not an option.

I just love the simplicity of the image pointing out your choice of happiness.  I love mind mapping.  Ask my friend Jana, the last time I saw her I demanded we lock ourselves in her studio and mind map the entire afternoon around her business marketing.

Out of curiosity I just Googled, “happiness mind map” and looked at the images.  There are so many fabulous ones that appear, which lead me to  An entire site dedicated to the world’s finest mind maps.  I searched on Lifestyle – Spirituality and found this beautiful mind map.

I think I need to step it up a notch.  Now I’m completely inspired to do some mind mapping with nutrition, health, happiness, spirituality, relationships.  Are you?  Do you mind map?  What do you love about it?  Has it helped you resolve issues, set intentions or create your BIG HAIRY AUDACIOUS GOALS (BHAG)?

Continuing on the happiness topic.  My wok.  I think I’ve fallen in love with my wok again, and that makes me happy.  I think it makes Josh happier because he loves stir fried rice.  Last night I decided to break out the old wok and do a shrimp fried rice. My beautiful wok took about two years to get seasoned this well.  It’s a thing of beauty, right?  Sadly, I haven’t used it a lot in the last few years.

I had all the ingredients for this dish in the fridge, and the dish came together quickly.  I found the recipe on Steamy Kitchen.  Her recipes are good, and her food styling and photography is scrumptious.

I’m learning more about my food styling.  I’m sure the photo featured on her site was shot before the soy sauce or tamari was used to season the dish.  Because her dish is so bright and white.  You can also tell her shrimp were cooked separately and placed carefully in the dish before shooting.

My dish is darker, and the shrimp are covered in the rice – making them hard to find in my photo.  I still like it, and am excited to see my photography improve daily.  So excited that on Day 21, I went and purchased new dinner plates – all white.  Stay tuned for more photos of dishes on our new plates.

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Day 21

Day 21.  August 1.  Wow, summer sure is flying by.

I’ve decided to participate in Susannah’s August Break.  I currently have a 365 self-portrait project up on Flickr, and now this daily update of my health.  So, I’ve decided that during August I will post images that may or may not relate to health-related journey and share them here with you, and on Flickr.

My feet are continuing to improve.  In the latter feet photos I realized my pedicure was looking a little sad – my feet were in need of some TLC.  Nothing beats having a pedicure done by a professional.  Ahhhhh.

Day 21 puts me at the halfway point of this program.  I decided to step on our scale which also calculates BMI.  My BMI has decreased 4% and I’ve lost a 3.5 pounds.  A long way towards my goal, but I am learning to stop, center myself and celebrate the smallest of victories.  A more nurturing approach than I’m used to, without the ego battle – and by all means, NO food rewards.  The pedicure seemed like a good idea to help me relax and celebrate.

Today seems like a good day to share another week of smoothies and outtakes of a few of our meals.  We’ve been trying new pastas.  So far my favorite is Ancient Harvest Quinoa Pasta

The pasta dish in the middle was a simple Tuscan Bean Pasta recipe from Budget Bytes.  The Lemon Butter Green Beans also from Budget Bytes.  OH goodness these are good.  Especially if you let the lemon infuse with the butter for a while.  Mmmmm.

I’m still loving smoothies in the morning.  My preference are the ones with green tea matcha that actually provide a good rush of energy along with the protein powder, and all that natural sugar from the fruit.  The most unusual so far was the sweet potato and date smoothie – but it was delicious.

Pasta image courtesy of Ancient Harvest.

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