Product Placement in Novels

It doesn’t happen much in the novels I read but I notice it and wonder when I run across it. Right now I’m reading Patricia Cornwell’s Port Mortuary. The story has drawn me in but I don’t remember the regular cast of characters as it’s been quite awhile since I’ve read her. Her earlier books were enjoyable and then some later books, not so much. This one has a lot of description about helicopters, military and government agencies, technology and mechanical things that I skim over. Anyway, she mentions fragrant Neutrogena oil, which the main character uses after a shower after doing an autopsy on a charred corpse.

The other book I’ve recently read is Robert B. Parker’s Split Image. His books are enjoyable when I have information overload and they are so spare and to the point that they’re refreshing. This is a Jesse Stone novel–my favorites are the Spenser ones. In addition to the detective part, I like the relationship Spenser has with his shrink girlfriend and the descriptions of the meals and sandwiches he fixes. In one book, I recall that P. F Chang’s was mentioned as a place they like to dine.

Earlier books Parker has written introduced me to my favorite beer, Rolling Rock. No one I knew drank it and I would have never tried it except for the way it was written about in the novels. It’s a pale ale and I like it better than the Miller Lite I used to go for. They serve it in some of the places around here but it’s more difficult to find in bottles in the more casual places.

This year I’ve given up dining out and also drinking alcohol. But not for life, I’m sure. There is a gluten free beer called Redbridge that I’ve tried but it’s a lager and has a stronger taste that I don’t care for. It also has yeast and other stuff that I need to avoid, so when I do choose a beer again, I’ll just go for the Rolling Rock. One will do it for me.

We like to think we’re too sophisticated to be influenced by product placement, I guess. But I’m thankful I didn’t miss out on Rolling Rock in this life. I used to squeeze a little lime in it.

Craft Day

It worked out well to do bookkeeping and business on Monday in longer blocks of time so yesterday I planned to spend time with my art and a craft project I’ve been thinking about.

Working on the craft project made me happy and I forgot about all the problems I need to solve for awhile. Part of why it worked out was that my fingers were more dexterous than usual. I first noticed it when I put some post earrings in while waiting for the computer to get going. It usually requires patience and time but I inserted them easily for the first time in years. And without looking in a mirror.

Later when I threaded a needle several times to sew by hand, that went well also. Slow, but it wasn’t frustrating. I also had the stamina to handle the ironing board several times.

The painting didn’t go so well. It would make more sense to practice drawing for awhile but I want to paint too. I’ve been taking digital photos of the various stages and in hindsight, I see the best stage was three photos ago. Then they look progressively worse to me. The best thing to do, I guess, is set it aside and enjoy doing a painting of a person. Which is what I feel like doing.

The biscuits I made from a gluten-free mix taste good and I have the energy to bake like that, but it has aluminum phosphate in it and I’ll be looking for a healthier brand mix.

Today I intended to get a lot of housework done but the day is half gone and I’m not feeling well. I have a sore throat and less mobility than usual. I guess I could force myself but that hasn’t worked so well in the past. I know many people say you have to have structure, schedules and goals, but when I think back to my most productive times last year, it happened in bursts of spontaneity. Just like farmers and like occupations need the cooperation of the weather, if my body doesn’t want to go along with the plan and it can be reasonably postponed, it makes sense to do so. I have noticed that I do better as the day goes on and perhaps there will be some sort of compromise here.

It seems like when I get further along with my structural alignment exercises, it might relieve some nerve pressure to my hands and I could become more productive. I have hope.

Gluten-free Snacks I Like

hard to live without snacks

gluten-free snacks

If you’re gluten-intolerant you know it isn’t a stroll through the park managing grocery shopping, meal planning and food preparation. If you aren’t and know someone who is, any annoyance and inconvenience you might feel because of their dietary needs pales in comparison to what they’ve gone through and are dealing with. Sometimes these things are cumulative and you never know when you might begin to have food issues.

Mostly I eat veggies. There are other food dilemmas I have besides the gluten thing that makes eating in restaurants very problematic so I’ve been avoiding them. When getting involved in projects at home, I don’t want to change gears and cook all the time so I rely on snacks. There are numerous excellent bloggers who write about gluten-free living and post recipes. The snack reviews here are about my preferences and not all of the products are totally healthy. There are not-so-good ingredients in some of them and it’s your responsibility to always check labels.

One of the most convenient for me is the Blue Diamond Nut-Thins because I can spread them with various things and they are found not only at the expensive food co-op but in regular stores. There are pecan, almond and other flavors and all of them taste good although the cheddar cheese nut and rice crackers are messy. Usually I’m snacking while doing something else.

The Mi-Del cookie brand has regular as well as gluten-free cookies. My favorite flavor is the ginger snaps. The chocolate chip are O.K. The Mr Krispies rice chips have lots of flavor–the co-op only carries a few of them and the sour cream is my favorite. These snacks are very expensive compared to the crappy non-food available otherwise and I don’t eat a lot of them. It’s just too painful to go through life eating only veggies and a little meat.

Another chip I tried recently and liked is Boulder Canyon’s Rice & Bean Snack Chips with adzuki beans. Adzuki beans are better for my blood type and they don’t have lectins in them. (The slow-cooker lentil recipe I love and have recently been making, needs to have adzuki beans as a substitute which I’ll experiment with soon.) I had the chipotle cheese flavor and only bought them because they were on sale. Otherwise I won’t be getting them for quite awhile because of the price.

The brownies I made from a mix yesterday, that I’ll make again are Gluten Free Pantry’s chocolate truffle brownie mix. They are from the Glutino company who also makes the frozen personal size pizza crusts that I can’t tolerate so far. I use the Kinnikinnick brands frozen crusts instead which cost about $3.00 more for a package of four personal size but also don’t make me gag.

Just looking in the freezer, I noticed the breaded cod by Starfish, which also makes gluten-free breaded halibut and haddock. The cod is less pricey so it’s what I buy and I like it.

Rice Chex cereal is an old standby and I use rice milk with it. After awhile you get used to it. Actually, I have trouble with lots of different grains and need to make sure I’m not overdoing rice because one can easily build an intolerance to foods that are used often in a diet.

The Hodgson Mill cookie mix in the photo above, I didn’t care for so much. It had that sandy texture and broke apart. I didn’t use the teaspoon of vanilla that it called for and I doubt that make a difference. The Sun Mills cookie mix I wrote about awhile back worked better for me.

There’s a biscuit mix in the cupboard I’ve never tried and will do so today or tomorrow because I have eggs right now. It’s from well-known national brand that I’m not recalling the name of.

When the farmers market gets going again, I’ll be eating more seasonally and less of these products. Variety and the uses of spices and herbs is making my restricted diet more tolerable.


Sometimes I don’t know what day it is. It is quiet today and seems like a Sunday. It was sunny, dry and the wind wasn’t blowing too hard so I got out for awhile and walked around. Also, downtown, where I live, was deserted and that’s kind of nice.

I chose fabric from my stash to go with the photos I laminated yesterday. I love fabric. This is a project that will require having my ironing board out for awhile. No way am I going to keep putting it away and taking it out. It never gets used for ironing clothes and I’m aware that many people don’t have irons these days.

Last night I made gluten-free brownies from a mix and they taste good enough. I don’t remember ever making brownies before and they’re kind of messy to cut–they broke apart when I took some from the pan. The suggestion was to freeze them an hour before cutting, which I didn’t do. They are a little bit sandy textured, which I don’t like in gluten-free products, but they’re chocolate truffle brownies and I like the taste. Surprisingly, I only needed to eat one–I used to have a raging sweet tooth.

I’m making different plans for my physical alignment exercises because I’m having trouble with the ones I did this week. I find I need to switch them around because as the body shifts, it causes instability and it also hurts. I wouldn’t mind walking with a cane so much if I had three hands.

Other changes are being made in my goals for the week as an experiment. I wrote them down and will review them next weekend. On great weather days, I’ll go outdoors instead.

My difficulties went undiagnosed for years as they gradually became worse. Now those people who told me I was lazy, clumsy, stupid, slow and that I didn’t care are no longer around. But as I expand and stretch what I do, their voices still echo in my head. Especially when I drop things, which happens quite often. Just thinking about it makes me more twitchy. So a main focus today and for the week is to do things anyway and carefully choose the encouraging self-talk I want and dial down those old, critical voices that got those people the opposite of what they wanted from me.

Gluten-free Snickerdoodles

gluten-free cookie mix

A lot of gluten-free baked goods do not taste good to me. I can’t say I’m at 100% with my gluten-free diet but I’m really working at it.

Yesterday I made snickerdoodles from a mix and I’d make them again. The day before I had a regular cookie from a local coffee shop. It was sweeter and the inside was chewier. But it had gluten in it.

The ones I made are good enough and taste better to me than the gluten-free cookies I buy in a bag. They’re probably more economical too, but I’m not sure—I got the mix awhile ago. Yes, I checked the expiration date and it was still good to go. 

These could be simple sugar cookies instead but I had cinnamon and sugar. The recipe called for eggs, margarine and vegetable shortening. I happened to have the shortening around for seasoning some cast iron skillets. I much prefer butter to margarine but when I asked about it, the person doing the food demo told me they’d found that margarine worked a lot better. When it comes to food I’ve learned that I often have to compromise a bit.

The mix comes from Sunflower Mills. The company is in my neck of the woods which was why they were at my local co-op awhile back with samples and answering questions. When I looked at the products on their website a little while ago I saw that the sugar cookie mix had been changed—improved, I’m sure. It looked like some of the mixes called for oil, instead of margarine and shortening. I’ll try more of them although many of my baking utensils are long gone and the healthy new things are very expensive. Le sigh.

I’m mostly disappointed in the gluten-free loaves of bread that are ready made, usually found  in the freezer. Some I’ve tried have been gag-awful. Sunflower Mills makes bread mixes and I may check them out if it looks like I can manage the recipe. I hadn’t used a mixer in years and it was a bit awkward at first but I’m so pleased to have been able to make cookies during this time of the year.