Gluten-Free Folly…

So hooray for me I was introduced to a health food store in the High Desert that sells TONS of gluten-free options! YAYAY. I was sooooo excited when I saw it. A beacon in the night. Oh, my heart skipped a beat. It was love. And it was SO much bigger and nicer inside than I thought it would be! I mean, where I’m living now…there’s no Trader Joe’s. There’s no Whole
Foods. 😦 But! We have BJ’s!!! 🙂 I’ll write the contact info for this place in Victorville at the bottom of this post. Hey–I’m here to help.

I was greeted by a very friendly employee named Eric who was terribly HELPFUL! He gave me a tour of the store’s gluten-free products! How sweet! And the store has everything gluten-free very clearly marked, which made my shopping über-easy.

This is what I bought:

So disappointing. :*(

Yah, so I bought these and ripped into them right when I got into my car since I was sooooo excited to be eating GLUTEN-FREE cookies. WELL, my excitement was quickly extinguished when I bit into one. BLECH. BARF. BLAH. This company missed the mark. Like, they were aiming for ___here____  but they ended up landing

all

the………………..way………………….

over……………………………………………………..______here______.

They used SORGHUM FLOUR (aka, Milo flour) which is *supposed to* have NO FLAVOR/TASTE…so I’m figuring the cookies’ sweetness tasted “off” to me because they used grape, apple and pear juice concentrates as well as date paste and brown sugar puree. That’s a lot of different “sweet stuff,” isn’t it? They also put in some rosemary extract…for what? I didn’t taste that in the cookies but the sweetness was not normal. It tasted kind of chemically, actually. Not normal. Not like normal sugary sweet. It could be from all of those fruit juice concentrates. Who knows? This brand is ICK. PASS!!!!! I’ll pass, thank yew ver-y much.

Here it is next to a Burt's Bees container. ^-^ They're small cookies...but thick and ICK anyway!

BJ’s HEALTH FOODS
12125 Balsam Road (at the corner of Bear Valley)
Victorville, CA 92395
760-955-6789  <—call them ’cause I know they have more locations. 😀

I definitely recommend BJ’s to ANYONE who is interested in Health Products, though. They have RAW stuff…good, organic produce…and a great staff. ^-^ Cheers!

“Why bother eating pre-packaged, ‘gluten-free’ breads and desserts that taste like toxic poison when I can make my own stellar, RAW breads and desserts? It’s a no-brainer!!!” —CT…who else?!

February 1, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Health, High Desert Life, RAW!!!!, Reviews of Stuff!, Uncategorized. 2 comments.

Pontoon

My old housemates used to listen to Garrison Keillor on public radio each Sunday morning (“A Prairie Home Companion”) while eating their gourmet breakfasts that they would prepare with great chef-like talent. I would come in from my morning run and grab a yogurt and fruit and watch them as they whipped up quiches, souffles, perfectly fried bacon and omelets, fancy COOKS-inspired french toast dusted with powdered sugar (made with morning fresh bakery bread…ahhh). And I would inhale the scent of their freshly brewed gourmet coffees from around the world. They sure did know how to appreciate the finer things in life. I’d be softly dipping my spoon into my soy yogurt cup, politely declining their offer to eat a side of a pig with them…even though it smelled suh good. 😛

So, I have them to thank for many things…expanding my horizon…teaching me about good food…not “Good/HEALTHY” food but fine foods…(they were Gelson’s shoppers…need I say more?) and I also have them to thank for Garrison Keillor. I wasn’t familiar with his show before I moved in with them  in 2003.  On Sundays when I didn’t have other plans, I would hang out around the breakfast table with them and listen to Garrison tell his Lake Wobegon stories. He’s a great storyteller and his delivery is perfect for his genre of stories (humor meets sarcasm). I bought his book Pontoon because of its opening line:  “Evelyn was an insomniac so when they say she died in her sleep, you have to question that.” Heehee. Witty, right?  I would recommend you to listen to one of his radio shows before reading any of his books, though. You have to be able to hear his voice, style and delivery…

But the book was a major disappointment and lacked focus, in my humble (oh-so-humble) opinion…I literally thumbed through the last few chapters since they seemed like they were just “filler” to make a whole book. He should have just stuck with a short story about Evelyn’s death. Instead, he starts talking about another character who’s getting married (perhaps as a way to show symmetry between life ending and two lives joining and beginning together?)  Dunno…I’m not a book critic. Eh. All I know is that I’m disappointed! I was expecting much more Garrison humor and really there are only bits and pieces sprinkled randomly throughout the book.

Another good line that is worth mentioning, though: “I do not wish to be embalmed and stuck in the ground to rot. I wish my ashes to be placed in the green bowling ball that Raoul also gave me, which somebody can hollow out (I’m told) and then seal it up and I would like the ball to be dropped into Lake Wobegon off Rocky Point where Jack and I used to fish for crappies back years ago when we were getting along.”

See…now why couldn’t the whole book be that enjoyable? Who knows. Perhaps all of those isolated lines from the story won’t mean much to you…I just think they’re well-written and entertaining.

There's the famous bowling ball! 😛

Even if you’re a Garrison Keillor fan…mmm…I wouldn’t strongly recommend this book as a MUST-READ! If you’ve got plenty of free time on your hands and you’re a fast reader…then by all means! Read it. 🙂 But if it’s between Keillor’s book and another book you’ve heard good reviews about, well… that’d be a no-brainer. 😛

“If you read a lot of books you are considered well read. But if you watch a lot of TV you’re not considered well viewed. —Lily Tomlin 🙂

January 16, 2011. Tags: , , , , , . Reviews of Stuff!. Leave a comment.

My Korean Facial

I have gotten a facial in Korea once before. It was my first year here and since I was used to getting facials every month back home I immediately booked myself an appointment once I discovered a skin care boutique. Well, the woman who gave me the facial must have done something wrong because the very next day a gi-normous crater burst out of my chin that seemed to be stemming from the very dark depths of my being. It was un-poppable and unstoppable. It stayed on my face…like a beacon in the night for about 3 months. Yeppers. No joke. So, after that experience I was convinced that another facial in Korea would give me another huge-ass pimple.

Take Two: I’m now living in the middle of a construction zone and my skin looks the worst its looked in my whole life. I’ve even started breaking out with tiny bumps (blocked pores) on my forehead. Every night I will stand in front of the mirror with my flashlight and magnifying glass to get out all of the gunk (dirt, grit, grime, etc) After a long night out a couple weeks ago, I noticed 2 zits getting ready to rise and shine on my face. First of all, they are in really ODD places for me to have a breakout. My breakouts have always been on my chin and/or around my mouth. One of my recent breakouts is on my left cheek and the other zit is next to the left side of my nose. Hmmmm. What’s this all about? Dunno. So, the zits have been around for a week or so and they have been sooooo stubborn and not caving under the pressure of my fingernails. !!!  Grrrrrr….this means: WAR!

So, I put my old fear of getting a facial in Korea behind me. After all, I already have zits…how much worse could my situation get? haha. Ha ha. Ha ha haaaaaa…

I booked myself an appointment at the pricey Lohas Club for Women. It’s the same place where I used to take my Hot Yoga classes. It’s located super close to my work (same building ^^) so I scheduled a 1:00pm appointment thinking I could head straight down to work after my appointment. I paid 70,000 won  ($58 with today’s exchange rate) for the (oh garsh, I forgot the name of the facial) mid-price range. The cheapest was 50,000 won and the highest was 100,000 won for some facial that included only Lord-knows-what in addition to the straightforward:  Cleansing, Mask, Yadda Yadda, Yadda Yadda. I went to Lohas because I’d heard about it from my Korean co-workers and everyone said it was a good place. (((insert horror movie music)))  Just-uh joking!

When I went to Lohas the prior day  to book my appointment I was reading the menu with the woman who works there. She was helping me with some of the words because most of them are actually in Konglish. For example, 그렌징 (cleansing) means, CLEANSING!!!  hahaha  So, if you can READ Korean, you will understand *most* of the features of the facials. There must have been some features of the massage that were left out because well…well…you’ll see. >-<  doh*!

The day of my appointment:  Lemme break it down for you!!

1) I walked in and was shooed into the changing room, given a pink (of course p!nk!!!) smock to change into…instructed —two times— to take “EVERYTHING OFF.” (The gal must’ve studied that phrase in her English-Korean book)   The second time the girl told me that I said, “YES, YES!!! I KNOW!”  (((insert glare here)))

2) I went into the treatment room. It was different than I had imagined. Of course. Duh. It was a large room with 6 tables (?I think?) in it. The tables were set-up 2×2. In between each set of 2 tables was a beaded curtain. But the bead strands were each hung individually and about 3 inches apart from one another. So, basically the entire room was open.

3) I got on the massage table and lay down. Closed my eyes and hoped for the best. (((fingers crossed)))

4) I had my eyes closed when a woman walked up behind the table, sat down and immediately started aggressively massaging my scalp. It felt so good. Niiiiiiice. I opened my eyes to see her but all I could make out were her nostrils. 😉  Thus, I closed my eyes again and she started washing my face with a creamy cleanser. While she was wiping it off, she put some damp cotton squares over my eyelids and started re-applying the cleanser for a second application.

Yes, this was me at the beginning of my massage. Before the surprise came along…

They always tend to glob the masks on so close to my eyeballs…nothing like in this picture. The masks always feel as  though they’re right near the corners of my eyes and I’m afraid to open them lest I get mask in them—oooh, and it burns!

*THIS*  is completely commonplace!! THIS is what goes on during a NORMAL facial!!! (Just put cotton squares over the eyes)

5) My facial girl wasn’t really talking to me but she would tell me what she was doing when she was doing it, which I liked. And she soon started talking with another girl. So, I knew her voice. Well, the voice got up and walked away after she’d put some  toner on me. I was laying there for a few minutes…just chilling. Then, another person (2nd voice) came over to me and asked the first voice what the next step for me was. I want to say that the 1st voice said, “mask” or 마스크. 😛  So, this new woman (2nd voice), who had a significantly larger presence than the first girl (energetically-speaking) and bigger hands  😀    started moisturizing my face…or putting some other cream on it. Then she stopped. Then…

6) 2nd voice inched down my smock (you know, like facialists usually do when they’re gonna treat your neckline area)…and as she was inching down my smock I thought, “Whoa there lady, any farther and I’ll be exposed!”  Well, yah. Nevermind any worries I had about her inching it down too far. She went from gradually inching the smock down to lifting it UP AND OVER my breasts and setting the elastic band resting on my waist. !!!  LORD HAVE MERCY, PEOPLE!! I need to be warned about things like this! I wondered, “WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON? IS THIS PART OF THE DEAL? HEY!?!?  DO YOU DO THIS TO EVERYONE???” Sighhhhh. But before I could even object, she was vigorously massaging “the girls.”  Oy vey.

7) So…I was laying there. Still. Trying to comprehend where and how my massage had gone awry. How did I miss the bit about a 5 minute breast massage in the menu? Why didn’t the lady act out in a bout of charades the fact that a boob massage was part of the deal? Then I could have politely declined the service and said, “Ummm, thanks but I’ll skip that part.”  But nooooo. I’m the waygookin. Who’s gonna tell me? Who’s gonna give ME the heads up?!?!?!?  Uh-huh. That’s right. NOBODY!  La la la la laaaaaa. Oh, and I DID mention that she had rubbed some sort of moisturizer all over my face right before she stripped me down, right??? Yes, I did. So, I couldn’t open my eyes because I was afraid I’d get product in them (ouchie…) so I was temporarily blinded, couldn’t see what was going on around me and I had some lady whose voice I’d hardly heard…whose face I’d never seen (not even nostrils) now massaging my chest.

8) I couldn’t help but smile. I almost started laughing but then I stopped myself because I didn’t want to draw attention to myself…there were at least 6 other people in the room and I was praying to God they were all involved in either cleaning bowls and brushes (the workers) or blinded by cotton squares laying on their own tables (the clients). I thought, “Sure, they do this to everyone, right?  Riiiight???” But I’ll be damned if I could really say YES to that question. I’m just not so sure. =/   There was a woman on the table next to me (right next to me –part of the 2×2 set) and I’m gonna say I never heard the whisking massaging sound coming from her table…

Be forewarned ladies of Dongtan. Be forewarned. You’re LUCKY you have ME to report on these things. You should be down on your knees graciously presenting me with fine wines and cheese sets, in my humble opinion. Or, maybe after reading this you’ll run over and book yourself an appointment for every day of the week. Hey, whatever floats your boats!  😛

I actually think both of these quotes are apropos for this blog. 😀  Enjoy!

“Surprises are foolish things. The pleasure is not enhanced, and the inconvenience is often considerable.” —Jane Austen

“The secret to humor is surprise.”  —Aristotle

June 23, 2010. Tags: , , , , . Korea 2010, Reviews of Stuff!, Uncategorized. 7 comments.