6 months =100 posts

 Hard to believe I started blogging A.Greene’s Adventures 6 months ago. 100 posts later, I have shared with you the ways I have transformed, transitioned, and transcended, into married life in Corning NY.

Looking back, since January we:

Survived our first NY winter

our little home covered in snow

our little home covered in snow

(See: A lesson in Independence2300 degreesmy new hometown)

Settled into our home, state, and name change

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(See: I miss my old lifeBecoming Mrs. ________________Passport to new beginningsThe Game Chest, The front porch project

Celebrated first married holidays just the two of  us

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A very Irish dinner complete with Luke's Irish red ale (I had hard cider).

A very Irish dinner complete with Luke’s Irish red ale (I had hard cider).

(See: Valentines Pie a new traditionHappy St. Patrick’s Day!A (new) Easter traditionHappy Mother’s DayHappy Memorial DayHappy Father’s Day4th of July funfetti cookies,)

Discovered the job market and applied to teaching positions (me).

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(See: The future ispatience: giving myself timeSummer projects, the waiting gameContentment is)

Enjoyed spring and summer festivals:

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(See: Strawberry FestivalStars hollow, fireworks, and minionsTwo festivals,

Learned from each other what our married life looks like:

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(See: Dispelling Marriage MythsMarriage myth busting round 2Sleep after Marriage isn’t always a Dream come TrueHappily Ever After is only the Beginning

Explored the area on drives, hikes, and kayaking

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(See: kayaking and BBqAn Ithaca Birthday Adventure,)

Checked out the best local events and food

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(See:  Sorge’s: local food and wineCabin feverGlassfest, )

Brewed our first homemade barley-free beer

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(See: Why I am barley free part oneA chemistry lesson for a B-day PresentThe home-brewing has begunBottling our first homemade brew,

Created and experimented with many new dinners

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(See: A Vegetarian Mediterranean meal,   A good Spring QuicheGreene’s Tilapia fish tacos

and dessert recipes and found our favorites:

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(See: key lime chocolate cupcakescookies n’ cream pudding popsMocha cupcake oreo brownies)

Reflected back on our wedding as we celebrated each new month of marriage

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(See: Who to choose for your bridal partyWow it’s been 6 monthsThe DressA pictures worthTo the Brides to be . . .)

Spent quality time with family and friends in Oregon

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(See: Our first VacationVacation highlights: Date Days,

Shared in the excitement of my brother’s graduation and engagement

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(See: Wedding Season has BegunFamily Time Vacation Highlights)

Celebrated our birthdays

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(See: Cinnamon Roll Bunt B-day Cake25 is Goldenbirthday in picture review)

Paid off all credit card debt and learned ways to save money after completing a budget class at church

Learned how to maintain and live with one car and no dishwasher

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(See: I’m a New Yorker?!Living without a dishwasherLiving with one car,)

Made new friends

Went to Washington to celebrate my brother’s wedding

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(See: Pre-wedding Jitterscongrats matt and stina! and I promise pictures and details from the wedding are coming soon)

And so much more. Thank you everyone for your encouragement, your comments (here or on facebook), and most of all for sharing in Luke and my lives through reading about our adventures.

If this is your first time exploring my blog, first of all welcome! Also to learn more about my last 6 months  click on the links above, check out the calendar archive ,or look into the categories on the right of my page.

Looking forward to sharing many more adventures,

-A. Greene

The home-brewing has begun

As I explained last month, one of the first things people think about when they hear I’m allergic to barley is that I cannot drink beer. But my husband Luke has chosen to turn this into a fun challenge. He is finally starting a hobby he has been wanting to do for awhile: home brewing his own beer (as mentioned in wait barley free means not beer right?). As I promised I would keep you posted and I’m excited to say the home-brewing process has begun!

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After reading up on the chemical process and visiting the home-brewing store several times to ask questions, Luke decided he was ready to begin.

So this past weekend I counted up how much of Luke b-day money was left and with that number in mind we went to the home-brewing store. The first step was picking up the one-time purchase supplies which included: glass carboy, primary fermenter, bottling bucket and spigot, no-rinse cleanser, triple scale hydrometer, siphon hose and shut off clamp, liquid crystal thermometer, 20 quart brew pot, drilled carboy bung, carboy brush, lid with grommet, airlock , auto-siphon, bottle filler, twin level capper, bottle brush, brew paddle, lab thermometer, 10 star sanitizer, and 10″test jar.

That is a long list! For all of  this, Luke decided it was cheapest if he bought a kit. And the only reason I know all that was included is because it’s printed on the box.With this kit we can make 5 gallons which amounts to about 53-21 oz. glasses of beer. If this experiment works, we won’t be buying beer for a long time, and have plenty to share 🙂

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Then it was time to pick out which ingredients to include in the beer. Luke knew what he needed: yeast, hops, a grain, and syrup but of those: what flavor? what variety? how much?

Home-brewing has become a big hobby especially among the gluten-free community. So supplies such as sorghum (which replaces the barley as the sugar /syrup component) are not difficult to find. There is a large variety of recipes online and in beer making magazines. The number of which are gluten-free is limited but available. These recipes use replace barley and wheat with corn or rice.

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But the market for barley-free recipes and supplies is even smaller. See what makes our chemical concoction possibilities different is that I can have wheat, rye, or any other grain that is not a malt aka barley. What we have found though is that most wheat beer recipes are actually 50/50 wheat and barley. So Luke doesn’t have a specific recipe to work off of.  As with any food/drink making there is a science to it, but also a lot of guess work.

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So after checking out the options and asking me what I thought we ended up with: a larger yeast, cascade and UK challenger hops, midnight wheat, and sorghum syrup. This is our first try and we have no idea how it will go. With excitement (and a little hesitation) Luke gave me the look of “here we go” and we took everything to the register.

This weekend we will start putting these ingredients to work. I don’t know as much about the process as Luke, but as his designated “beer-making helper” I’m sure I’ll learn. And as before I’ll fill you in on how it goes.

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Any of you trying a new challenging hobby?

Do you like to experiment with new recipes?

Patience: giving myself time

We live in an impatient world. We are used to instant gratification or easy access to all commodities we would need (and almost all we would want). We are constantly being told we deserve the best, fastest service in every industry from drive-thru coffee, vending machines for movies, to self-checkouts at grocery store.

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This makes it rather difficult to teach, learn, or live-out any form of patience. Patience is more than a virtue-it is a mostly forgotten way of life. There are many areas I desire to learn to live out patience, but today I am writing about patience with myself.

As you probably know by now, I am working on transcending this issue of self-judgement. (see self-judgement a story definition) I wrongly accuse myself for circumstances out of my control. I expect the world of myself. So you can imagine I do not show myself much patience.

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When I moved this past November to New York, I was like a dog chasing it’s tail. Luke started a job right away. But I had hours upon hours by myself, with no particular agenda or aim. I kept trying to accomplish everything and anything but got nowhere. Slowly I began to discover what roles/responsibilities to take on: to maintain the home and to support Luke as he worked. But I expected to find a job,  set up the home, find a friend network, get involved in church and be established within the first two months. (If any of you have moved  you realize how impractical these expectations were.)

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my pocket watch necklace

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The truth is, I was not ready to take on the world the second that we moved. I needed time. Time to adjust to dramatic change, to let go of the life I had in California. Time to embrace life here in New York, to adjust to married life away from family and friends. Everyone told me to embrace this break, to enjoy it: after a chaotic year I deserved it. But that was hard for me to hear. I love having a schedule, having routine, feeling involved and connected.

Once I began to embrace the time I had,  a flexible routine formed. Now six months into marriage and more than 5 months here in New York, some of my expectations have been fulfilled; (see spring is coming) the home is (mostly) set up,  the name changing paperwork complete (see Becoming Mrs. ____________), and we are getting involved in church.

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Still my patience is being challenge all over again as I work through job searching. It is a challenge to find a job in a state where you have no connections. Job searching feels often like a rush and waiting game. You find a position you are interested in, you turn in the paperwork and forms-then you wait. If the door closes then you start over. If the door opens you set up time for an interview and wait. Then you have then interview and wait. It can be an exhausting process of elimination.

At times I worry about having a more than 6 month long jobless gap on my resume. But I have to believe the right job won’t care. I have to keep moving forward toward what is right in front of me.

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 What I struggle to see is that giving myself time is not wasting time. By not insisting that I accomplish my daunting list of expectations right away, I learn flexibility, to not try to control what is out of my control,to trust, and that time to learn more about myself is a blessing. Being patient with myself is recognizing the time in the waiting room is not wasted. Giving myself the gift of time helps me understand myself better and it is in the waiting that I am prepared for what I am waiting for.

Any of you waiting on something important?

Do you struggle with our instant-gratification society?

In what area of your life do you want to learn patience?

Leftovers night

We all have those nights. Sometimes once a week, or every other week, where there is enough food left over in the fridge to make a meal. So we get creative and have a mismatched dinner.

The Greene’s don’t often make big enough portions of any meal for it to be “left over” for long. But we will have veggies or fruits left unused from the past week’s meals that are still fresh but need to be eaten soon. These are our leftovers.

Usually this occurs Monday night. (After the weekend and before I hit the store).

So what do you do with leftover fruits and veggies? We get creative. Two common ingredients left over alongside the veggies or fruits are potatoes or eggs (or both). This particular leftover night we had potatoes, zucchini, and tomatoes left in the fridge.

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So the zucchini and potatoes went in the cast iron skillet with some parmesan and olive oil to pan-fry.

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I then mixed the tomatoes with garlic, pepper, salt, and beat in a few eggs.

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Then I poured the egg mix into a pan and added spinach and cheese, making a messy (but tasty) omelet.

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Together it made for a easy brinner (breakfast for dinner) veggie delight.

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This is not our only leftover meal. If we have pasta and sauce, then it is a veggie pasta dish. If we have an abundance of potatoes, we eat baked potatoes with a steamed veggie medley on top. If it’s eggs, we make an omelet or scramble. If there is fruit, then we have a berry salad or a smoothie for dessert.

The options are endless. As I come across more I will try to post them. Our leftover meals are almost always vegetarian,   barley-free, and sometimes gluten-free.

How does your family define leftovers?

What do you do with leftover food in the fridge?

What is your favorite creative leftover dish?

Barley-free living

Last month I shared with you my journey to discover I was allergic to barley. I also explained what it looks like to be married to a beer loving ex-bartender (See Barley-free means no beer right?)

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            When I shared about my allergy to my family, my grandmother told me her father is allergic to barley-Wow!  I didn’t know allergies went that far back genetically.

See the barley-allergy was probably always there, but latent until I was exposed to a large amount. On my trip to the Philippines in ’07 (see Part One) we drank something called Milo every morning instead of coffee. One of the main ingredients=barely. And while I was on prednisone and starting the new job (see The Conclusion) I was eating Cliff Bars every morning; their main grain=barley.

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My first step towards living barley-free was reading labels at the store for “barley”. I have grown up reading labels and asking questions because of my tree-nut allergy (that is a different story). But in addition to this, I also had to look  for “malt” or “malt flavoring”. This obviously includes malt based items like: beer, whoppers candy, malt shakes, or malt vinegar. But malt flavoring is common also in: soups,  protein/candy bars, cookies, brownies, and most cereals. Unlike my allergy to tree-nuts, I soon also learned my reaction to barley does not occur immediately. Three days after eating barley I will get a rash and/or itchy skin.

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If you remember Why I am barley free: The Conclusion the PA at the dermatologists said to me “Well fortunately barley is not in too many foods, so you should be ok” .  Boy was that misleading!

Because barley is in more foods than you know. The real shocker came a few months into barley-free living.

I went with Luke to the store to buy flour for homemade pizza (see Pizza a la Greene). Out of curiosity, I looked at the back of the all-purpose flour we picked up. Guess what?  Barley is a secondary ingredient to all-purpose flour! I proceeded to check every brand of flour in the store and even most of the organic flours contained organic barley!

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That is when I realized this allergy would change my diet for life.  I began to eat gluten-free at all restaurants. And I now often fix gluten-free meals at home (as you know from some of my recipe posts).  So this means when I go out to eat I cannot have: hamburger/hot dog buns, pizza, sandwiches, croutons, or any other form of bread, (most) cookies, dough-nuts, anything breaded or fried, flour tortillas or pita bread, pies, or sauces or soups thicken with flour.

For all of my at-home baking I use Gold Medal Organic all-purpose flour or their whole wheat flour. As I left the grocery store that day with Luke I thought back to every Christmas season in which I felt sick to my stomach and got a headache. I now realize it wasn’t because I ate too many pieces of coffee cake or had too much sugar (although I probably did sometimes) but more so because of what I ate.

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What is  difficult about a barley-allergy is it not common.  I can have wheat and many other grains but it is a gamble to determine whether flour is safe or not.  If I am lucky ,when I read labels at the grocery store, the ingredients will say what the flour is enriched with. If it is enriched with chemicals and vitamins I’m fine, but often it is enriched with barley or it is not specifically labeled.

Still I have also found some wonderful exceptions.  Most pasta places use pure semolina, and cake flour doesn’t contain barley. So I was blessed at my wedding to be able to eat the same cake as everyone else.

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My wedding cake: bottom and top layer were chocolate with raspberries in a french creme and the middle layer was spice cake with a cream cheese filling

In the end, barley-free living has helped my skin cleared up. I’m not irritated, frustrated, distracted, or itchy (most of the time) and I can wear tank tops without a care. Healing from this has required time, prayer, sacrifice, and support from family and friends. You know who you are and thank you.

Have you been on a similar journey?
How have you learned to live with restrictions?
How have your family or friends helped you along the way?

Hot cross buns and Berry salad: A (new) Easter tradition

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Hot cross buns rising on the preheated stove

My family (Halvorsons) never had any “traditional” Easter foods. Sometimes we had homemade brunch after church, other times it was a ham dinner after Easter egg hunts (some salt to balance out the sweets). But being that this is our first married Easter I thought I’d ask Luke if there are any Greene family traditions.

The answer is yes: Hot Cross Buns (yes just like the song-sorry if I got it stuck in your head).

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Baked brown and ready for frosting

Apparently there were a few years Diana (Luke’s mom) was working that she bought the buns from the store. After this Luke took it upon himself to make them! (even though he claims to be a cook; not a baker).

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The hot-cross bun recipe is a family thing for now (sorry).

But a few times for Easter brunches I have made a simple and delicious berry salad I’m willing to share with all of you.  🙂 I thought this would pair well as a light  side for our weekend of homemade Easter carbs. Plus this is an excellent gluten-free and vegan addition to consider if you are bringing something to an Easter brunch or hosting one yourself.

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Here is the easy recipe for my berry salad:

1 16-ounce container strawberries (halved or quartered depending on size)

1 8-ounce container blueberries

1 6-ounce container raspberries

1 8/6 ounce container blackberries

2/3 T powdered sugar

2/3 lemons

1.If you bought frozen fruits then semi-defrost the berries. If you bought fresh put them into the freezer until you are ready to make the salad.  Leaving the berries frozen/semi-defrosted will insure that you don’t end up with a mushy salad.

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2.Grate 2/3 lemons into a small bowl then cut and squeeze about 2/3 Tablespoons of their juice in as well.

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3. Add the 2T of powdered sugar to the lemon juice and zest and mix together (the powdered sugar will absorb and coat the berries easier than regular sugar ). You can also probably use honey but use your discretion for portions diffrences versus powdered sugar.

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Tip: Do not throw away the lemons after this. Instead place the leftover lemon slices rind and all into a water pitcher!

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4. Add all ingredients into a large bowl and mix gently with a slotted spoon.

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5. Let the mixture sit in the fridge covered for a few hours or for best results for a day before serving so the berries can soaked up the sugar and citrus juice.

Possible variations: You can choose to use orange juice or lemonade in exchange for the lemon/powdered sugar mixture or add fresh mint as a garnish.

Or if you want a fancier grow-up version: Use a citrus liqueur such as Grand Mariner or Lemon-cello.

Do you have any traditional Easter foods?

What is your favorite brunch dish?

Why I am Barley-free: The Conclusion

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This is the conclusion to a three part blog about how I discovered my barley allergy. If you need to get caught up click on : Part One or Part Two.

I was discouraged and tired of the games by the fall of 2011. I didn’t feel the dermatologist and his team were listening to me .

In one meeting they explained to me that “dermatitis” was a generic term for some internal irritation causing an external reaction. That got my mom and I thinking. We asked if an allergy could be included in this list? They said yes.

So we requested another blood test-this time for allergies. Allergies run rampant in my family so why couldn’t it be an undiagnosed allergy resulting in a rash?

During all this, the dermatologists recognized my frustration and pulled a last resort move: putting me on prednisone. Prednisone it is a steroid (with a lot of side effects) and my type A personality doesn’t do well on steroids.

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To add to this, October of 2011, I started my first career job teaching and substituting at a private English Language Institute. I was under a lot of stress and my skin began to break out on my neck and face. I was concerned about my students reaction to my appearance even though I tried to hide marks with make-up.

I scheduled an appointment, sooner than my check-up not only because the my skin had gotten worse but also  because the prednisone was making it impossible to sleep.

After assuring me the rash was not related to the prednisone they shared the results of my allergy test. As  they read the results I nodded: She said you are aware you are allergic to: mold?-yes, grass?-yes, cats?-yet, tree-nuts?-yes dust?-yes you have had hay-fever?-yes.

Then she said “barley?” and I said “excuse me?” I told her that was a new one. And her response: “Well fortunately barley is not in too many foods so you should be ok” (boy was that misleading! But that is another blog).

After announcing this, she looked at my charts and got very upset. I asked why? The person in charge of writing out my prescription had made a huge mistake: I was on more than double the prednisone I was supposed to be!!! No wonder I couldn’t sleep! After that appointment I never went back.

I began to wean myself off the steroid as they had instructed and started the journey to remove barley from my diet. As I did I discovered: it was the barley causing the skin problem all along! Such a simple issue that cost so much time, money, and frustration.

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I am now barley-free it has required some adjustments to my diet, label reading at the grocery store, and limited the foods I eat out, but is well worth it-the puzzle was finally complete.

Any of you discover that final puzzle piece for yourself or with a family member?

Still in the middle of a frustrating puzzle?

Anyone else have similar accounts to share?