Category Archives: Holidays

What? Sparkling Cider Is Not Gluten Free

The holidays call for festive beverages to toast the season. Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy New Year! Weddings also call for festive beverages to toast the happy couple, the father of the bride, the DJ, and whoever else makes the party rock.

When alcohol isn’t an option, sparkling cider fits the festive bill. In our family, we break out the Knudsen sparking cherry and sparkling pear cider. It looks so lovely in my parents’ etched wine glasses. For an extra splash of special, I put a frozen cherry in the bottom of each glass. My niece and nephews have grown up tipping glasses of Knudsen Family’s sparkling cider at every holiday dinner. They look forward to it.

A few weeks ago, I noticed a large display of new Knudsen specialty flavors at Sprouts: caramel apple, green apple, cranberry, and glogg. I got really excited, especially about the glogg, which we tried for the first time last year when Crate and Barrel offered a pricey non-alcoholic, gluten free, non-sparkly version. We waited until Crate and Barrel slashed the price in half and then we guzzled eight bottles. It tasted best when served warm. Why not try this new sparkly version, which had a much more palatable price tag of $2.99 per bottle? Continue reading What? Sparkling Cider Is Not Gluten Free


Holiday Lessons: #2 The Gifts of Giving and Being Gifted

I’m a list maker. Lists are wonderful little gifts to myself costing nothing except the paper on which I write them and the ink used to pen them. I love making lists before I go grocery shopping so I remember to buy what I’m out of, about to run out of,  want to try, or have but it’s on sale so I should get more. I’ll admit that half the time I forget to bring the actual piece of paper on which the list is made when I leave the house, but the act of making the list puts about 80% of what’s on the list into my short term memory so I’m better off than if I didn’t make a list at all. What I forget to buy, I just add to the list for the next shopping trip.

I also love making Christmas lists. Lists of things to do to get ready for Christmas; things to buy for the various Christmas meals; things to make for the various Christmas meals; and events to attend (and things to buy for said events, such as hostess gifts). Checking off each item on the list feels really satisfying. Vacuum. Check. Clean the bathrooms. Check. Check. Check. Nap. CHECK! Each check feels like a gift, maybe an affirmation of my value or at least evidence of my efficiency. Continue reading Holiday Lessons: #2 The Gifts of Giving and Being Gifted

Ten Lessons Sans Carols: #4 The Bright Thing to Do

In the post “Gift #9” I talked about my neighborhood and the curmudgeons who circle around the cul-de-sac. In the interest of fairness, I have to say not everyone here in Pine Bluff Trace is mean. There’s also my neighbor who leaves post-it notes on my windshield early in the morning saying, “I’ve gone out of town for two days. Can you take care of my dog?” There’s also the neighbor who hosts popular hot tub parties well attended only by attractive young men at least twenty years younger than said neighbor, but that’s none of my business. Continue reading Ten Lessons Sans Carols: #4 The Bright Thing to Do

Ten Lessons Sans Carols: #7 Glögg Glug Gluten Free Good (With Frogs)

I’ve been gluten free for five years now and it’s greatly improved my health. I became alcohol free (AF) nearly three years ago and that also has improved my health…and saved my life. Alcohol’s a deadly chemical for me, far more deadly than gluten, so consuming any amount of it is akin to jumping out the window of a tall building into a mound of ravenous fire ants. If the fall doesn’t kill me, the ants will, and the dying process will be excruciating for me and my loved ones. By the way, alcohol totally aggravates dermatitis herpetiformis, the skin rash some of us with celiac are extra winners to have. It won’t bring on an outbreak, but if you have an outbreak, it will itch more and spread more and bleed and scar more. My poor legs and arms bear witness to this. Once I went alcohol free, the outbreaks were much less severe in intensity and in damage.

Two weeks before Christmas, Crate and Barrel put all their holiday food fare on sale with free shipping. At 30-50% off and delivered to me for free, I settled down for some serious online shopping. I immediately snapped up seven adorable boxes of chocolates shaped like mice to give as gifts. I’m glad I did because everyone who received a box squeaked with delight at both the cuteness and the yumminess, although my cousin’s son wanted to know if she had any more chocolate rats after scarfing half the box. No? Rats. Continue reading Ten Lessons Sans Carols: #7 Glögg Glug Gluten Free Good (With Frogs)

Ten Lessons Sans Carols: #8 Gluten Free Food Is Good

When people find out I have celiac disease, they react either with horror or pity, and both stem from the mistaken belief that food free from wheat, barley, rye or oats can’t possibly taste good.

“Oh, you poor thing. That’s awful! I couldn’t eat like that,” they say, managing to sound both sympathetic and superior.

I like introducing them to good gluten free food.

The Friday before Christmas, to celebrate the start of the kids’ two-week holiday school break, we made cookies. We had to skip my mother’s time-honored and beloved cookie recipes because they call for copious quantities of white wheat flour and other glutinous ingredients. I won’t even try to handle white flour because that stuff has incredible hang time. Add the sifted flour to wet ingredients in an electric mixer and watch how it billows from the bowl, wafts through the air, and sticks like snow on every proximal surface, including the baker’s hair and clothes. There’s no way not to avoid contamination, unless one pops into a hazmat suit with filtered ventilator and then turns the fire hose on to clean up afterward. Continue reading Ten Lessons Sans Carols: #8 Gluten Free Food Is Good

Holiday Lessons Sans Carols: #10 It Takes A Village

Happy New Year! I hope 2015 is off to a lovely start for you. It is for me, in a low-key sort of way.

I really enjoyed the holidays this year, even though the clock rapidly ticked on no repeat, big band swing time from dawn of Day of the Dead through dusk of Happy New Year. The calendar showed twenty-seven boxed days between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. Seemed like ample time for shopping and cooking and celebrating and wrapping and attending and laughing and cleaning and serving and watching and resting and giving, but standing here on the other side of January 1, I can’t help but wonder why the boxes couldn’t contain the holly jolly season for a little longer.

So much happens during Advent, even when nothing is happening: just standing in a long line to pay for grabbed gifts sent ten minutes sailing by on a tide of classic Christmas muzak. Perusing the wares of just three stores devoured an entire Saturday, leaving only three more for cookie baking and party throwing. Mondays felt like Fridays as the seasonal warm fuzzies blurred one day into the next. Half the workdays got swallowed by online holiday bargain shopping and the rest were eaten at this or that holiday luncheon, reception, open house, dinner party, or cookie swap.

I loved it all. There’s not a bit of complaint here; rather, I’m brimming still with gratitude and joy. The only negative feeling, if you could call it that, is a touch of sadness that it’s all over until next November. To retain some of the special glow of the holiday season, and to maintain my gratitude, I made a list of ten holiday activities or occurrences that inspired personal growth as well as joy. It’s warming me while the Arctic chill pushes further and further into our neck of the suburban Atlanta woods.

In and OutWriting the details for each item list is taking longer than I thought it would because I have to jump up every twenty minutes to let the office assistants in and then out and then in and then out again and then feed them and then let them out and then in…and then out and then in. It’s what happens when he feline desire for adventure battles with the feline love of warmth. Go out the front door and then break a personal best record to race across three front lawns, a side lawn and three backyards to get to the back door: seventeen seconds! The Feline Winter Games are on!

And now, here is the first of Ten Lessons Sans Carols: Continue reading Holiday Lessons Sans Carols: #10 It Takes A Village