I’ve been in France over a week and I love it. The people are friendly, the countryside amazing and the food unbelievable.
Our little merry band of Americans are making out way across French wine country with relative ease. Unlike in the states, there are a lot more people here who speak a second language or enough of a second language that we are able to communicate. We have only run into one or two people that didn’t have a word or three of English. And we were still able to communicate with them either in our limited French or in Spanish.
Yes, that is right, we came to France and spoke Spanish.
We also made friends with the local cats who we have name Monsieur Chat and Madame Chat. They hang out in the little garden area of the house we are renting. We have been invited into local wine caves and tasted wine from 100 year old vines.
The first winery we stopped at spoke with us for more than a hour, gave us a tour of how the wine is made and recommend a place to get cheese. They even called ahead to make sure that someone would be there. The wine was divine. The company was extra ordinary.
Much of our visit here has been guided by luck. The local cafe gave us the information for a bakery just outside of town where the bread is made in a wood-fire oven. The bonus to that was that there was gluten free bread as well. Yesterday, the cafe that we found on google let to a conversation with other patron and another adventure to a completely gluten-free bakery in downtown Lyon.
There has been so much great wine and good food, I am not sure how I will go back to eating the American way.
Beautiful vines, beautiful country
One of the things that I love about France is they don’t change to suit the tourist, the tourist must adjust to France. Things in the countryside follow the same rhythm they have for decades. Breakfast is small, Lunch is the big meal of the day and dinner is lighter and much latter in the evenings. Many shops close for lunch around 12 and re-open at 2. You can still buy bread from the baker and meat from a butcher. And there are church bells that ring throughout the day.
Tomorrow afternoon, we make the return trip to Paris and Wednesday is the flight home. My heart and my tummy will miss this place and all of the wonderful people.
Please don’t tease me any more. Please don’t make promises that you are going to taste great or that I won’t be able to tell the difference. Seriously… I will know even though we both know that I can no longer have real pizza and don’t quite remember the taste of it.
I do know however what good food tastes like and please believe me that I will know the minute that I take it out of the oven if it is going to be good, bad or I can eat this.
Please let your pizza, be good. I am not asking for great. I would like a crispy crust and not to have to eat the pizza just because I pay ten dollars for it. Cause I will eat it because even my gluten free diet is not a health fad. When I eat gluten, it makes me sick. It isn’t a fashion statement and I am not rich.
So this week has been an adventure in what doesn’t not kill you eats your time up and you get to decide whether you want to be strong or not. Strength comes in many forms and sometimes being strong is all about deciding not to be strong.
Monday during third period I began to feel awful. My stomach started cramping and much to my embarrassment the only way to get any relief was to unzip my pants. Thank goodness I had a long shirt to cover it. It didn’t take long to figure out what was going on. I had ingested something with gluten from an unknown source which happens from time to time despite my best efforts. I made it through the day with the pain and discomfort, but going to work at night would have been torture. So I decided not to be tough and called out.
It was probably the best decision I made the entire day. It allowed me to get rest and do a little research on how to help heal my stomach. Broth, rice, bananas and toast (gluten free) have been my staples and allowed me to get back to work the next day. I am still not a hundred percent and spent much of yesterday resting, but things are better.
I was able to get a much need question about Blood Child’s publication answered and will finally be sending the manuscript off to be formatted this week. It is so easy to get distracted by little things allowing them to become larger than life. Strangely, while feeling ill I was able to shut out some distractions and really focus on what needed to be done.
Now, it is Sunday night. I am sitting in the dark typing while friends of mine are sacked out on the sofa and love seat.
Life is full of strange twists and turns. Sometimes things get away from you and everything still turns out for the best. You aren’t sure how, but they do. Right now, my house is clean and I feel good about this week even knowing that I am going into it behind. Honestly, I could ask for more out of life, but currently I know that what I have I earned and that feels wonderful.
This week the budget is going to get tight, skinny jean tight. So I thought I would share how I make it through on weeks like this without pushing my bank account into the red or throwing my diet out the window for some cheap processed food. It is time to get smart.
The first thing I am going to tell you is that my pantry is prepared for weeks like this, which I know as a teacher will happen. I have rice, gluten free pasta and sauces that make for quick meals and spices. I have to admit to hoarding gf pasta for times like this and special occasions. It is simply too expensive for me to have on a regular basis. Spices are the key or one of the keys, but I will get to those later.
If there is a sale on one of my staples and I can afford it, I buy extra. I just don’t go crazy. Buy One GetOne Free at Publix is one of my favorite ways to do this, even if they rarely if ever have something that I can eat or want to eat. I really don’t eat enough pickles in a year to justify buying them in large qualities. Chicken broth however is really useful and does go on sale every couple of months. (It is especially useful when you have accidentally gotten poisoned with gluten. I like to warm it up in a mug and drink it slowly until my tummy feels better.) Whole Foods on occasion offers either a BoGo or two for a four dollars on gluten free pasta. When I can I pick of Taste of Thai sauce packets which rarely go on sale. They have several that are gluten free, easy to make as well as delicious.
Sales and the occasional boon from Momma are the reasons that I have spaghetti and pesto sauce that can be supplemented with the chicken thighs that I found on sale at Target. Normally, I would have gone to Fresh Field farms, but I didn’t want to spend the gas and Target was on the way. I can normally buy meat and veggies for a week for twenty five to thirty dollars, this includes snacks like carrots and fresh fruit. Other incidentals normally run another ten to fifteen dollars.
This week though with Luke still under the weather, I didn’t want to take the time to prep my salad jars or cook up a big pot of curried meat and veggies. The two combined really stretch my budget. Prepping meals ahead of time is the best way I have found to make things easier on myself and keep cost down. Cooking individual means would be time consuming and it would be too tempting to say the heck with it and go out to eat.
This week, I put together my menu based on what I had on hand and could purchase from Publix and Target which were both on the way to my folks house.
Last night’s- Udi’s Gluten Free Pizza sprinkled with feta cheese. The cheese was left over and the pizza a comfort food splurge to help me de-stress.
This morning, eggs with onions, peppers and salsa. Everything in this meal was left overs from the last week’s shopping. I normally buy two dozen eggs at Fresh Field Farms. These I can turn into snacks by hard boiling them or like I did this afternoon assist in the making of cookies. All made from ingredients on hand. (The gluten free flour that I use was purchased in bulk and order slip between three people.)
Lunch was skipped by accident which brings me to dinner. (Sorry Momma) Coconut Salsa Chicken served over rice. I portioned out the chicken I purchased at Target (It was on sale other wise I would have waited.) I placed the chicken in a zip-loc bag and spooned in leftover Coconut Salsa. I kept one out and frozen three others for use for dinner or lunch. I also have frozen Talapia that can be cooked up quickly and served with some frozen veggies.
Breakfast is Van’s gluten free waffles. I toast one and put some peanut butter on it. (For ingredients not label gluten free or unprocessed, I used the ShopWell app to check if they are safe or not.) This week, I got lucky and didn’t need to buy peanut butter. The biggest part of my budget this week went for gluten free burritos. I like to call them emergency burritos. One is actually enough for lunch although I prefer two. Normally, I would supplement an emergency burrito with some carrots, but not getting to Fresh Field Farms means no carrots.
The keys for keeping to my gluten free diet when the budget is tight are as follows:
1. Taking advantage of sales whenever possible and stock piling versatile ingredients like rice, broth and fish.
2. Keeping spices on hand to add flavor to food.
3. Keeping meals simple and preparing a head of time.
4. Letting myself have small things like waffles and burritos which are pricier in their gluten-free forms, but save me time where I need it. They also keep me from straying and over-spending by eating out.
5. Use internet or other coupons to save money whenever possible, but not stressing over having to have a coupon for it.
6. Avoiding most overly processed ingredients.
All total I spent around thirty-five dollars for this week’s food. Next week, I will have to spend more thanks to wearing down my stores, but most likely not as much as I planned to go back to Fresh Field Farms. I feel a curry week coming on.
The biggest and probably the best thing that I did for myself was falling in love with food. Fresh food can be found at reasonable prices at a farmer’s markets and places like Fresh Field Farms. I expect to pay more for some foods so over time I have weaned them out of my diet and gotten used to using the K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple, stupid!) rule when it comes to cooking. I used my freezer and pantry to my advantage whenever possible.
I know that being able to cook is the most useful skill I have in keeping to a food budget and while I woke this from the perspective of someone who is gluten free I hope everyone can find something useful in it.
One more day until my birthday, well actually just a couple hours. I am sitting in my birthday dress after having gone out to dinner with Sonia, one of my best friends and a true blessing. There are times when I forget to count them. This week, they have been coming to me; making sure that I know that I am loved.
Last night, I cooked dinner for three of my dear friends. I loved being able share my bounty with them. The look on Ashmarie’s face when I told her that I would make her more sweet potato fries. Even better was the look when I told her that I was going to make a chocolate cake.
She is just a lovely soul. Her daughter, Carly, only nine days old is so very lucky to have her as a mother. And I am so fortunate to have her and Mr. H, her partner, as friends.
Blessings surround me, I know it and I am so very grateful. That is the lesson from this birthday challenge and celebration. I am blessed..no matter what is going on in my life or how much money is in the bank, I am still blessed. My family and friends are the greatest gifts in my life.
Pure and simply. They aren’t perfect, but they are mine. They love me and I love them.
I am too tired to really do my beloved forum justice this week, but I feel bad letting a Moonday go by without a post.
This past week, I have done a lot of resting and reflecting after an impromptu trip to Florida Hospital. I was the youngest person in the cardiac observation unit, a feat that my friends tell me is something not to be proud of. These of course are the same friends who refused to bust me out.
Not to worry I am fine and didn’t escape. I was released and have the papers to prove it.
The doctors, nurses and technicians took excellent care of me. Now it is my turn…the good news is that I am cleared to start riding my bike to work again. Sure, I could drive, but it isn’t nearly as peaceful nor as good for me.
This weekend, I went back to work at job #2 and caught up on lesson plans. Well, not quite caught up, but I did make a lovely dent. I also rested a great deal; naps aren’t just for babies. If you haven’t had one in a while, I suggest taking one or two. They really do help energize you or at least they do for me.
Thank you to my Mamma for driving me about.. it really did help. And Zee Mamma for checking in on me last night.
Today, I took my time, did a little cleaning, napped, read in bed and then walked up to my favorite restaurant, Spooky’s, for some supper. The moon was full on my walk back and simply beautiful.
Mother Moon, thank you for reminding of my own beauty and the strength of making choices.
If I had been driving tonight, I might of miss you.
I might have also miss the wonderful conversation with an old friend and a new one.