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Getting Married!

Getting Married!

Wondering where I’ve been? I’m getting married on June 7, so these last few weeks leading up to the wedding are incredibly busy. We decided to DIY most of the décor, and I’m still wrangling bridesmaids and groomsmen into their last minute duties.

Luckily, I have finally found a bb cream that works: Maybelline Dream Fresh BB. Since the wedding will be in the heat of a Southern summer, foundation would be a bit much. This BB cream just smooths out flaws without being too heavy. Plus it’s SPF 30, which means no sunburn on the big day!

Now all we have to do is keep me drinking lots of water so I don’t wind up with a last minute, stress induced POTS flare. I am tempting my EDS and ankle instability with my tiny heels, but it’s my big day! I have to look good, right?

Mellow Mushroom, Chattanooga, TN

I love pizza. All pizza. Pepperoni, cheese, veggie, it doesn’t matter. Before I was diagnosed with celiac, I was eating a large Imo’s bacon pizza for every meal. And although I still think that Imo’s makes the best bacon pizza in the world (don’t talk to me, Provel haters), I just can’t do that anymore. Sadly, gluten-free pizza just doesn’t live up to it’s glutened counterpart.

Sometimes I suck it up and eat subpar pizza. Sometimes I just can’t bring myself to do that to my tastebuds, so I eat healthy salad bowls and pretend like they’re covered in cheese and bacon.

When I heard Mellow Mushroom had revamped their gluten-free crust, I was skeptical. Would it be soggy? Burnt? Just kind of weird? Well, I am nothing if not philanthropic, so I decided to try their crust before you did, so you would be prepared with the kind of information you need to make smart purchasing decisions.

At Mellow Mushroom, I found out that all the staff have been well-trained in preventing cross-contamination, the crust is made of ancient grains and not rice flour so it doesn’t break into an awful crumbly mess in your mouth, and that even if you don’t gluten yourself, eating an entire pizza is not a good idea.

To be honest, the only thing I didn’t like about the Mellow Mushroom pizza was the price. It’s only a 12″ pizza, as are most gluten free pizza crusts. Okay, whatever. But to charge the same price as a 16″ pizza, and then say there’s no upcharge because it’s priced the same as a medium pizza? Look, this pizza is missing four inches of medium. After being gluten free for two years, I’m used to ridiculous prices, and I still got sticker shock.

If you can get past the sticker shock, this pizza is good. We ordered a Kosmic Karma, a Mighty Meaty, a Gourmet White, and a House Special.

Image The Gourmet White is a white pizza, as you could guess by the name. Olive oil and garlic, sundried tomatoes, onions and mozzarella topped this one. Then the Kosmic Karma, my favorite, was a red based pizza with pesto, sundried tomato, Roma tomato, feta and mozzarella. The House Special is just Mellow’s take on a Supreme pizza, with meats and veggies. Then the Mighty Meaty, with five types of meat on a red base with mozzarella cheese.

Image The crust is thin and crispy. Since I’m a huge fan of Imo’s pizza, this wasn’t really a deterrent to me. (Can we please throw some Provel and bacon on one of these crusts? Please?) Mellow Mushroom uses top quality ingredients, which can disguise even the worst crust- and I know, I’ve been ordering their pizza since before they changed to a decent crust- but you really could tell that this was a good crust.

It had the texture and taste of a whole grain crust, which I’ve been told is because it is a whole grain crust. Just not the whole grains you’re normally used to. It’s also soy free, rice free, dairy free, and egg free, which means this is an option for vegans or people with other common allergies.

Image If you want to try the new and improved gluten free crust, there are two Mellow Mushrooms in Chattanooga. One is located on Broad Street in downtown Chattanooga, and is my preferred location. The building is older, the area is more interesting, and so are the decorations. It’s a pizza place with a lot of personality. The other location, Mellow Mushroom Waterside, is located near Hamilton Place mall. It’s in a brand new building complex, and seems much more “chain restaurant” to me when I eat there.

If you’re not near either of these locations, you can always search for the nearest Mellow Mushroom if you want a quality gluten-free pizza and have some extra spending money burning a hole in your pocket.

Image Have you tried Mellow Mushroom’s new crust? Where’s your favorite place to get gluten free pizza?

Good Dog, Chattanooga, TN

One of my favorite places to grab a bite to eat during mine and J’s weekly date day is Good Dog on Northshore. I’m not sure if it’s the fun menu- seriously, gourmet hot dogs?- the funky decor, or the fact that it just tastes pretty good. No matter what the reason is, whenever we’re not feeling adventurous enough to try out a new place, Good Dog is our safe bet. They’re gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian friendly, so there’s something on the menu for everyone.

Image We go to Good Dog a lot, so we’ve picked up one of their reward cards to save up for free drinks, free fries, or even a free Good Dog Made Fresh sausage! Other than filling up our rewards quicker than other people might, the guys behind the counter know us now. They’re already getting out the gluten free buns when we walk in the door at this point.

This week, we decided to try something different. J got the Dutch Frite Dog, which was loaded with fresh frites, fritesaus, and onions. I got the BLT dog on a gluten-free bun. It has tomato, arugula, and bacon along with mayo. We also split a small order of frites. I know, you’re thinking one hot dog and half an order of fries apiece is totally not enough, but you would be wrong! I’m not sure if it’s the toppings or what, but after a hot dog and some fries, I’m always stuffed. It’s the perfect amount of food for lunch. 

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Other than hot dogs and sausages, Good Dog offers meal frites, which is a cone of fries layered with toppings. They also have a few sides, such as baked beans, potato salad, slaw, salad, and tomato soup. You can round off your meal with soda, Velo coffee (locally roasted!), or a selection of beers- both canned and bottled. They even have a gluten free beer, although the guy behind the counter advised me against it. “It doesn’t taste bad,” he said, “but it’s only like 3% alcohol. Might as well have an O’Doule’s.”

Image Anyway. So, when you walk in to Good Dog, you order at the counter, then sit down and wait for them to bring you the food. It’s always piping hot when they bring it to you, but since it’s made to order, you may have a bit of a wait, especially if it’s busy. While you’re at the table waiting, you may notice a variety of ketchups sitting on your table. They’re housemade! Along with traditional ketchup, Good Dog also offers Curry Ketchup, Wasabi Ketchup, and a Honey Mustard sauce. If none of those strike your fancy, you can grab some fritesaus from a shelf loaded down with hot sauces, malt vinegar, and other sauces that you might happen to need. Fritesaus is essentially a fancy European mayo for fries, and dang, is it good. 

Image Actually, all of their sauces are good. So good, in fact, that you can usually buy them by the bottle for all your homemade fries and hot dogs. You can also order Good Dog shirts, boxers, and bumper stickers. I bought a bumper sticker for my car the last time we were there.

Good Dog has something for everyone, which is surprising from what is essentially a fancy hot dog joint. It will surprise even your most diehard hot dog haters, and I know, because I used to be among them. If you’re looking for a quick lunch on Northshore, consider checking out Good Dog for a quick bite or a picnic in the park. 

The Search for the Best BB Cream.

So, I spend a lot of time outside. On my back porch, in my hammock, at my grandpa’s farm, as long as the weather’s nice, I can be found outside basking in the sun. Unfortunately, the sun does not love me like I love it, and skin cancer runs in my family. Between that and a super-sensitive surgery scar on my neck, I’m always trying to find the best products to keep my relationship with the sun in balance.

Image The area I’m most concerned about getting burnt is my face. And yeah, I could put on sunscreen, then put foundation on over it- but that’s a lot of junk on your face when it’s 88 degrees and 80% humidity. There’s nothing worse than getting your makeup done for the day, then walking out side and looking like the melting witch from The Wizard of Oz. 

Last summer, I discovered tinted moisturizers and BB creams. While many BB creams are indistinguishable from tinted moisturizers- and they both work great for your everyday summer look, some BB creams actually deliver on the supposed benefits they offer. This summer, I’m on the hunt for the best tinted moisturizer and the best BB cream. After finishing up a tube of Covergirls AquaSmoothers BB Cream, which worked decently- very light coverage, great when applied with a Beauty Blender, but basically a tinter moisturizer:

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 I have decided to branch out. This week, I ordered a trio of Stila Beauty Balm samples. I have several Stila products that I swear by, so these seemed like a great investment. Especially since they were on sale! Of course, since I order from Ulta, they came with three free samples: Biolage Matrix Exquisite Oil Shampoo and Conditioner, which is the best thing to ever happen to my hair, an Argan Oil hair treatment, and a strange shiny purple lipstick. I was really not expecting the last one- I tried it on and it goes on very sheer but definitely purple. Kind of a “Jack in the water while the Titanic is sinking” chic, I guess. 

Image The Stila Beauty Balms are: Original, Illuminating, and Bronzing. I haven’t tried them out yet, because I can’t move my head or neck very well after my recent car wreck. However, I know that they are very thick and lightly tinted, so I plan to apply them with the beauty blender or maybe a brush- although if they are thick enough to need a brush, they probably won’t be on my list of things to order again. 

The Beauty Balms are all spf 30, which is fantastic for someone like me! They have a very mild makeup smell, which is totally tolerable. The sample size is perfect to try for a few days and see which one you like best of the Trio. I will definitely be updating you guys later about my impressions once I get to use the products!

Do you use BB Creams or tinter moisturizer in the summer, or do you stick to foundation? What’s the best BB cream or tinter moisturizer you have found?

 

Very Aware of EDS for Our Awareness Month

Hi guys! This week there won’t be much new stuff on the blog. My family got rear-ended by a distracted driver, and although luckily all our injuries are minor, mom and I took the brunt of the pain from the crash. We spent last night at the ER after I took an ambulance ride to the local trauma hospital- seriously, we were there maybe six or seven hours. Then today mom wound up at the ER for her own injuries. We’re all gonna be okay, but since it’s Ehlers Danlos Awareness Month, I thought I would talk about a few Ehlers Danlos things that are important when you’re in a trauma situation!

Image With Ehlers Danlos, our faulty connective tissue can mean any trauma- even the kind normal people would be able to walk away from unscathed- can quickly become major. Hypermobility in the neck means that whiplash will be worse, and although neck trauma is always considered an emergency, neck trauma with EDS is an emergency that will have four or five ER doctors looking at your before you’ve even made it to a room, especially if you’re at a teaching hospital that specializes in trauma. However, if you’re lucky enough to get an ER doc who actually knows about Ehlers Danlos, like I was, it’s going to be the best ER trip of your life. (Well, as far as ER trips can go.)

Since you have a connective tissue disorder, you’re going to have a lot more tests done than a normal person. There were other trauma patients at the hospital, and they all got out sooner than I did. An MRI, three CT scans, X-Rays, and more people poking me and asking questions than I can remember, and it still took six hours before they would even un-immobilize me. 

However, everyone wanted to make me comfortable, which was an experience I have never had at an ER before. The doctor wrote up zofran and dilaudid before even looking at me, and once I had a burst vein from trauma complications and a faulty IV (hint: if you think your shoulder is dislocating, tell a doctor before they try to use the vein in that arm. It will end in nothing but tragedy), he had me up in warm compresses and IV medication in the other arm before I even knew what was going on. 

Everything turned out to be minor- I’ll recover from the head and neck trauma, I need to keep an eye on my rib and liver area, and the huge swollen arm on my left side should return to normal once my body slowly works the stuff out of my system.

The worst part is, if you have EDS, your worries don’t end once you walk out of the ER. You’re given a list of signs and symptoms that should immediately send you back to the ER, a list to call your doctor about, a stern warning to follow up with your doctor no matter what, and you’re rolled out with an Aspen Vista cervical collar still on. Compared to my ER visits before I knew I had a connective tissue disorder, the amount of follow up necessary is incredible! It’s enough to make me more than a little paranoid.

And with that, is my ribcage looking a little swollen dangerously near my liver, anyone? Haha- just kidding. Probably.

Sofa King Juicy Burger

Today was J and my weekly date day. Normally, it would be on Tuesday, but since J’s work schedule has been hectic recently, we stole a few hours together today. We’ve both been craving burgers recently, and since we still haven’t found the perfect grill- possibly because neither of us know what we’re looking for in a grill- we can’t exactly make them ourselves. What we can do, however, is head across town to Sofa King Juicy Burger.

Sofa King is owned by the same people who own the semi-famous Chattanooga restaurant Aretha Frankenstein’s, and the connection is obvious when you see Sofa King’s onions rings, dipped in Aretha Frankenstein’s pancake batter before a trip to the deep fryer. Pre-Celiac, I had been to Aretha’s a few times. They offer a pretty solid breakfast menu, and I have to admit I was a fan. Sofa King had some pretty high standards to live up to.

When we walked in, a waitress greeted us and told us we could sit anywhere we liked. The tables are almost all lined up against a long booth bench attached to the wall, except for a few tall tables with bar chairs and a few low tables in front of sofas. The decoration is sparse- sofa posters, menu chalkboards, and stickers proclaiming some of the things Sofa King considers itself famous for.

The menu is unusual, offering classic burgers and sides alongside unique flavor combinations and intriguing appetizers, like deep-fried cauliflower. If you’re vegetarian, fear not, you can order a falafel patty or portobello mushroom instead of traditional beef.

As I perused the menu, I cursed my Celiac before ordering a “Nutty Burger” on a gluten-free bun. The Nutty burger comes topped with peanut butter and bacon along with the traditional bibb lettuce and tomato, a combination which immediately caught my eye. J chose a slightly more traditional burger, the “Awesome Burger.” His came with bibb lettuce, tomato, strawberry jam, and boursin cheese. After some gentle upselling from the waitress, when she mentioned that the french fries were in fact, gluten free, we decided on a order of plain fries as well. Rounding out the meal was a water, vanilla coke, and a “Liquid Nitrogen Milkshake.” We picked the “King Creme” flavor, which would impress Elvis with it’s combo of peanut butter and banana.

Image Our food came out quickly, and was piping hot. Except for the milkshake, obviously, which was thick and creamy. The milkshake texture is almost like soft-serve ice cream, which I think is perfect because I hate runny milkshakes. Some people think the thickness of the milkshake is an abomination, and they’re totally entitled to their opinion as well. (Even though they’re wrong.)

J and I were both surprised with how much we liked our burgers. The Awesome Burger lives up to it’s name. Creamy cheese, gooey jam, and traditional burger toppings crown two beef patties between a bun. It’s a messy eat, especially on the gluten-free bun, which was slightly dry. The Nutty Burger took a few bites to get used to, but I am a peanut butter fiend, so I was definitely impressed. I had never thought to combine bacon and peanut butter before, but I could definitely get used to the combination. J and I were full after our burgers, so the fries were slow eating. We were impressed with how crispy they were, and they were good even before I doused them in salt.

Sofa King is a bit pricey, with our total coming out to $21 for two burgers, and order of fries, a milkshake, and two drinks. However, it’s not unreasonable given the portion sizes and the fact that the staff was knowledgable about Celiac and gluten-free. I am willing to pay extra for safety of mind when it comes to my Celiac any day.

ImageAs you can see, J and I left full and happy. We’ll definitely be heading back to Sofa King soon. If you’re in Chattanooga and you’re craving a good burger, you can check them out too. Their menu is available on their website so you can be ready when you arrive!

Also: Aldi’s special buy this week includes a bunch of new items from their expanded gluten free line! You should all go buy their new products to convince them to make this a permanent fixture in their product line-up.

Image See? Tasty gluten-free frozen pizza for only $4.99. Considering I just paid $10 for a frozen gluten free pizza at Whole Foods the other day, this pretty much made my week.

 

My Weekly Discovery:

Discovery of the week: If you’re a member of Amazon Prime, you can check out a book a month from their Kindle Lending Library for free. There aren’t a lot of new or big ticket books on the list of books you can check out, but I did see that The Hunger Games series was available. I picked up “Gilded,” a story based in Korean myth with a modern twist. Gilded wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read, but it was a free read, and perfectly filled this sunny afternoon. I saw many more light reads among the lending library, as well as educational texts, and the odd cookbook. One book a month is not a lot for me, but since I already use all the other features of Amazon Prime, it’s definitely a nice perk to have. 

Image Of course, using the lending library means having to switch over to J’s Kindle instead of reading on my trusty Kobo, and it’s definitely an adjustment. For one, the Kindle is not a touchscreen, which I didn’t realize until I had passed several minutes determinedly swiping an unresponsive page.

I’m pretty sure I’m the only person who subscribes to Amazon Prime who didn’t know about this perk, but I’m pretty happy with my discovery. It’s going right up there with the First Look bonus on the Kindle and the Cheap Reads section of my Kobo and Samsung Galaxy Tab. (Yes, I have three different eReaders. Judge me, I know you want to.) I can’t wait for our local libraries to make ebooks available to check out. Unfortunately, the libraries in my state are severely underfunded, so I’m not sure when/if this will actually happen, but it would make my life so much easier. If you’re in Chattanooga, however, the Chattanooga library system has ebook lending available now! 

Have you found any good books in the Amazon Lending Library? Does your library have ebook lending?