Sunday, June 27, 2010

I'm big in Europe

This experiment has officially changed continents.  For the next 6 weeks I will experimenting with truth in France, Spain and who-knows-where-else.  I packed one small suitcase and a carry-on backpack.  I'm starting my trip with 5 dresses, one skirt and a bunch of underwear.  I have zero cell phones, hair dryers, straighteners, ipods nor close-toed shoes.  I brought one rain jacket and hope to never use it.  Wish me luck as I flit about Paris in dresses eating cheese for dessert and croissant for breakfast.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

This weather isn't helping

I thought this was supposed to be June!  Everyone is crying out about the terrible, grey, wet weather. 

While they bellyache, I scan my closet for my turtleneck sweater dress and leggings.  Add a scarf and some galoshes, and I'm good to go.  Sheesh.  This month I had envisioned frolicking in light cotton dresses around beautiful parks with fountains bubbling in the background.  Instead I hear the swish of rain water under tires and drops pattering on the roof.  Despite the dreary weather, I did take my dog for a nice long walk in my sweater dress...with grey sweatpants underneath, an old fleece jacket and hiking boots.  Wow, what a look that must have been!  It's a good thing I don't know any of my parents' neighbors or I might have considering feeling embarrassed about my crazy outfit.  Just call me the kooky dress lady from now on.

photo courtesy of David J. Nightingale

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

No Dresses at Field Day!

Today my fifth grade students tasted the glory of their favorite school day all year: Field Day.  They each got dressed this morning fantasizing about sport centers, the playground waterslide, face painting and the snowcone station. 

Meanwhile, their teacher scoured her closet, searching for an appropriate skirt or dress for the occasion.  I have one jean skirt, but it's long and would be incredibly awkward with tennis shoes.  I dreamed of a sporty tennis dress, but realized that would be way to short for a teacher.  I perused my collection of leggings as a way to add coverage.  In the end, I admitted defeat and wore jeans and a school t-shirt for Field Day.  It is my first challenge, and I wimped out.

The whole experience reminded me of my childhood.  After two boys, my mom was thrilled to finally have a girl.  She proceeded to buy all of the pink, purple and lace she could find.  I remember watching the lace get torn and pulled off a pretty red dress as I pedaled along on a tricycle at daycare.  I remember complaining that my dresses flipped up when I twirled upside down on the bars in first grade.  I also remember rebelling and outlawing all pink and purple from my closet after getting teased by a classmate in fourth grade.  So here I am again, complaining about my dress (or lack thereof) on the playground.  Better luck next time, Senorita Nicole. 

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Month 6: Pants Free

Don't get the wrong idea...I will be clothed.  In celebration of the upcoming summer season, I will be wearing all skirts and dresses all the time.  While in my house, I am allowed to wear pajamas and other comfy clothes.  But every time I leave the safety of my condo, I will be sporting some sort of feminine attire.  I am eager to feel my reaction to this extra effort and elevated fashion demand.  I don't own many casual dresses (yet), so it will be a month of dressing more fancy and formal than usual.  I'm ready to bare my legs, strap on some sandals and see how this experiment unfolds.

Monday, June 7, 2010


"Man, I'm glad I'm not actually allergic to gluten!"  This statement has popped out of my mouth more than once during this experiment.  The truth is that living gluten-free is difficult.  It's emotional, challenging and at times, very frustrating. 

A good friend of mine has celiacs disease.  She generously let me interview her for an insider's perspective.  Before this experiment, I knew that she had to maintain an unusual diet, but I didn't know much about it.  Now when she talks about her experience, I have a very real point of reference.  She and I studied abroad together in 2002, and I remember the first signs that something was wrong when she would get sick (stomach aches, bloating), sleepy and grumpy after eating or trying to enjoy a couple beers.  She reminded me of one trip to Florence, Italy, when we ate pasta all day and then went to a crazy disco with racy japanamation, greasy Italian dudes and vats of nutella loaded with breadsticks.  Obviously, that wasn't her favorite day of the trip.  As she leaned on me during the bus trip home, neither of us realized what was going on in her body, specifically her small intestine.

Celiac disease is a digestive condition triggered by consumption of the protein gluten, which is found in bread, pasta, cookies, pizza crust and many other foods containing wheat, barley or rye. If you have celiac disease and eat foods containing gluten, an immune reaction occurs in your small intestine, causing damage to the surface of your small intestine and an inability to absorb certain nutrients.  Eventually, the decreased absorption of nutrients (malabsorption) that occurs with celiac disease can cause vitamin deficiencies that deprive your brain, peripheral nervous system, bones, liver and other organs of vital nourishment. This can lead to other illnesses and stunted growth in children.  For more information check out:

My friend told me that traveling is the hardest part for her.  During a recent trip to Russia, she ate a few pieces of salami for breakfast due to lack of other safe options.  She was sick for the rest of the trip.  The smallest traces of gluten matter.  I mentioned receiving a salad at a restaurant with croutons.  I pushed them to the side and kept eating, but someone with celiac would have had to send the plate back.  She asked me to mention to just be nice.  People with celiac disease often feel uncomfortable having to deny foods or constantly explain.  They're not trying to be picky.  They just have to take care of themselves.  It's not worth the alternative.

This weekend I attended a Sounders game at Quest Field.  I hadn't had time to prepare dinner beforehand, so I had to find something at the stadium.  Big mistake.  My choices included pizza, pretzels, nachos, hot dogs.  It was not looking good.  Finally, I saw a rice bowl option with beef.  I ordered it thinking that I would just skip the soy sauce.  It was pre-prepared, so the meal was already swimming in sauce.  I had the luxury of just shrugging my shoulders and eating it anyway.  Someone with celiac disease could not have done the same thing.  It would have meant possible stomach cramping, diarrhea, bloating and a host of other symptoms for days.  I feel so grateful just to be able to eat.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


This week I have given myself permission to eat.  In the constant quest to save money, be thin and require little, I hadn't been allowing myself the resources necessary to really cook and thrive gluten-free.  This week I abandoned my strict food budget and let myself go to the grocery store twice and stock up on new foods including a beautiful, juicy steak.  After tasting a sample of this tender meat at the store and listening to the simple cooking instructions (about 7 minutes on each side, top with a little balsamic vinegar), I walked home dreaming of the herby, fragrant steak with asparagus on the side. 

It was truly divine.  Smoking up the kitchen, throwing myself at my 1925 heavy window to slide it open and sitting down to savor each satisfying morsel made me appreciate the many foods yet to cook and enjoy.  From here on out, I give myself permission to cook, spend money on high quality foods and enjoy each bite I put in my body.