Jun 1, 2015

allow me to reroute you...

I've moved! Go HERE (or, cassidynoga.wordpress.com) for all old posts, along with new ones. (Note that the old posts will stay on this site also, but I won't be posting new ones here.)

Why, you ask?
There were a few reasons. First, let me say that I really like blogger. It's fun. However, I started a new, more professional blog (here) on WP, and IGGPPC uses WP for +5 Charisma, of which I am now a contributor! (Squee!)
Anyway, it just made more sense to stick to one blogging site. That way, I learn all about ONE instead of a little about both. We'll see how it goes, but for now, head over there to read more.


May 9, 2015

April Showers Bring May Bonfires

That doesn't rhyme. Whatever. It's 4am, I'm exhausted, and really, REALLY hungry. That's actually why I'm still awake. My stomach has deemed food to be necessary before sleep.
Anyway, one of my best friends is moving this summer, and for the first time since we've been friends, she's not coming back in August. Instead, she'll be heading to Chicago for law school. While I"m super stoked about that - so many more visits to Chi-town coming up now, with promises of exploring downtown and all that twenty-something fun stuff... like finding coffee shops and book stores... because that's what we're all about - I'm super sad that I've got like a week and a half left in the same city as my twin.
And now I'm going to try not to think about that too hard, because it's FOUR IN THE MORNING and crying right now would be kind of a bad idea.

Getting back on track, I hosted a bonfire tonight. I've done a few of these, and I figured I'd share some tips I've learned the hard way. Note that these apply specifically to a bonfire on the beach in South Texas... but, you know, take from this what you want.

1. You apparently don't need a deep pit to build a nice fire - even when it's windy. In the past, we've always dug down pretty far, and made a fun little seating area... but then the fire was always too hot to use said seating. This time, my boy and one of our friends were in charge of digging... and they dug something that I could probably sit crossed-legged in and my knees would be just a tiny bit lower than the sand level (so, small compared to normal). I was VERY skeptical, but they proved me wrong. It worked great.
2. If you can let boys dig the hole and build the fire, do it. I am the first person to admit that I'm a feminist. I claim it, I own it, and I'm proud of it. HOWEVER. I'm also aware that I'm not very strong, and pretty dang clumsy. Digging a fire pit, even a small one, gives me the chance to both hurt myself right then AND be sore the next day. Building the fire - I'd rather not break a stick over my leg, or get a splinter, or even burn myself (I did that enough anyway). So yes, I'll let the boys do the hard work while I sit back with a drink and make sure Waters (Bruce's dog) doesn't try to play with a passing stranger out riding their bike or funky three wheeled scooter. That's just being smart.
3. A VW Beetle convertible trunk does not have a very big opening. Remember that when buying a cooler. That's all.
4. If it can't get sandy, don't bring it. I have so much sand in the tiny little openings in my phone, it's almost scary. Every single one of us left the beach covered in sand.
5. Let's talk about bringing drinks to the beach. So when I do bonfires, it's totally BYOBeverage. However, in the past, I've gotten 12 packs of various kinds of soda (sprite, Dr Pepper, coke), and basically let anyone that wanted a can, take it. This time, I opted for a 3L bottle of DP and a 2L bottle of coke, along with red solo cups. This was in part because Bruce talked me into it, and in part because I didn't want to mess with a zillion cans. Lesson here: deal with the cans. Because I'd so heavily stressed BYOB, and because another friend ended up bringing cans, the people that just wanted a soda picked a can and the giant bottles went mostly untouched. Looking back, that's much smarter. The opening is much smaller on a can, so your drink gets less sandy. It also has less of a chance of spilling. While the cups were better for adding alcohol (I'm 22), it would have been just as easy - if not easier - to add it to the can. Then, I'd be left with unopened cans of soda, instead of giant bottles of soda that will end up going flat before I finish it. I'm not a huge soda drinker. My point here is that if you're doing BYOB, go with cans. If you're setting up for a party in which everything's set out nicely, the bottles probably work best.
6. Also, food. I do s'mores. I really like them, but the thing I like the most is the toasty marshmallows. Nom. Anyway, when I do this, I have to get regular and gluten free graham crackers. I also split up the marshmallows into GF and nonGF bags to avoid cross contamination. My friends are pretty good about that, but far fewer nonGF people eat s'mores. (Turns out, it's because they don't want to make them, and I won't make a nonGF s'more for anyone.) Next time, I'm putting like four or five marshmallows in a snack bag, and making maybe four bags of those, instead of one bag for nonGF. That way, only a limited number of marshmallows get cross contaminated, and the rest are still safe. I've also started keeping both the marshmallows and the chocolate in the top bin of a cooler, because it's HOT in SoTx, and chocolate melts pretty easily.
Bruce brought sausages this time and several people ate those. Another friend brought hot dogs. I realized at the last bonfire that I don't actually really like hot dogs, so I'll probably pass on that one. I might try the sausage thing next time, but we'll see. Right now, my plan is set at eating before I go. And apparently, when I get home.
7. Bring a chair. It makes life so much easier. If you have pickup trucks with tailgates, or hatchbacks, that works too.
8. Coat hangers make great skewers. I'll write more about this if anyone's interested.
9. Music is good, if you can hear it over the wind. I bought a cute little speaker that packs a pretty big punch... but Travis told me that we probably wouldn't be able to hear it over the wind. After that, I didn't want to expose it to the crazy sand (see number four) for a maybe.
10. Don't forget to bring water! Every single other time, we've gotten this down fine. THIS time? None of us thought about it. A few of us had a water bottle, but nothing for refills or anyone without one. That's definitely important.
11. Take a warmer set of clothes. It's hit or miss as to whether or not I'll get so cold that I need to change out of my tank top and shorts, but you can stay a lot longer if you have that option.

There's probably something that I forgot, but that's all for now! What are your bonfire tips and tricks?

Apr 13, 2015

doctor-pharmacy-gluten free triangle of hell

I'm on hold with the pharmacy.
Nope. Back on hold.

This is fun. I'm trying to get antibiotics for the start of an infection.
My doctor prescribed me Bactrim. It's gluten free, but it's also a brand name. My insurance is not a fan of using the brand name if there's a generic substitute.

Six months ago, I tried to get a birth control prescription. My doctor found the brand she wanted - and it was gluten free - so she just wrote it out. I didn't realize it, and when I picked my script up, it wasn't the brand version. There was no information on it being gluten free... and luckily, the pharmacy took it back. (Not a normal thing, FYI.)
What happened, as I'm sure you've figured out, is that the pharmacy did what it does and switched out my "normal" script with the generic version.
I ended up finding a different version - one that was already generic - and had my doctor write a script for that. One issue dealt with.

So back to today (or, okay, Friday. In the interest of full disclosure, I started this Friday while I was on hold, and finished it today while watching NCIS: New Orleans).

I asked my doctor to write "must be gluten free" on the script, so when they switched it to the generic version, they'd check.
Instead, she wrote "brand medically necessary. Must be gluten free". What that meant, of course, was the pharmacy couldn't switch it to the generic version. It also meant that two week's worth of pills would be around $50 (like I said, my insurance doesn't like brands). The generic is $2. So.

You know what? Let's do this as a timeline of my day.

9:15 am - doctor's appointment
9:20 am - went into the room
9:45 am - the doctor came in
10:38 am - left the doctor's office
10:45 am - realized the $50 vs $2 difference; picked up one prescription
10:49 am - sat down to wait for a shot
11:06 am - actually got my shot
11:10 am - called my doctor and left a message about the script I wanted
11:20 am - went home for lunch
12:07 pm - called my mom, updated her on what was going on.
12:54 pm - got a call from my doctor, telling me that the medicine I wanted wasn't available in the US.
12:57 pm - finally logged into the Express Scripts website and found out what they say is the generic version of Bactrim. It's something called sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim. I couldn't find it on the gluten free drugs website.
1:18 pm - called the pharmacy to see what they subbed Bactrim out for normally. The answer? SMZ-TMP. That was staring me right in the face on the drug list. It's the same thing as the sulfamethsomehtingoranother. I hate drug names and abbreviations.
1:51 pm - called the doctor back to see if she could prescribe me Bactrim, without earmarks. Turns out, she wasn't there anymore. The receptionist said that if the pharmacy called her, she could verbally change the prescription
1:54 pm - called the pharmacy and the pharmacist that gave me my shot agreed to call the doctor. All's well that ends well.

I thought that would be a little more interesting. For the record, I didn't make up the times. I used my phone's call log. I'm a nerd like that. It's okay, I know.

So what's the takeaway from this? I learned a few things. Cue a numbered list, below.

  1. If possible, check the generic options of drugs while still at the doctor's office. Get her to write a script for that specific generic, and note that it can't be changed. 
  2. Call the pharmacy and find out what their go-to generic is. Check that against glutenfreedrugs.com. If it's safe, your doctor can write the script for the regular, brand name drug. DO NOT label "brand medically necessary". 
  3. Don't trust the internet blindly on generic versions. Use resources provided by your insurance (I use Express Scripts). 
  4. Always make doctor's appointments in the morning. 
  5. On glutenfreedrugs.com, try searching the web page for the drug in question. I searched Bactrim and found the actual drug, along with the SMZ-TMP listing which had "generic Bactrim" listed in parentheses after it. Sigh. 
  6. If you do need to get a script changed (because of a handwritten notation; I'm not sure about changing it totally), the pharmacy can call the doctor and the doctor can verbally change it. 

Oh, the real kicker? I'd gotten prescribed Bactrim last May... and it was subbed out for SMZ-TMP. All of this could have been avoided. I thought the name Bactrim sounded familiar... oh well. Live and learn.

Happy Monday, y'all.

Apr 8, 2015

Thoughts from State: 2015

Well, the number one thought from State is that I really should have written this AT the SLC. Sigh. Maybe someday I'll learn.

Here we go with the 2015 Dallas version of TFS. (If you're unfamiliar with this, go read the others here and here).

  • State really is always cold. I flew up to Dallas in jeans, a comfy sweater shirt, and my business heeled boots. That was great - until I actually got to Dallas. It had snowed the night before, so I was navigating the DART bus/train system in heels and with a suitcase... through snow and slush. Not fun. All in all, it wasn't terrible. 
  • The DART was great leaving the airport. I paid $5.00 for a day pass - and in hindsight, I could have gotten away with a $2.50 2-hour ticket (I thought I would leave the hotel again...) - and it got me from the airport to about a minute away from my hotel. 
  • I really need to plan better for leaving the conference. This year's trip was littered with cancelled flights and last minute plans... It was a mess. Don't ask. 
  • The Dallas Love Field airport has a Jason's Deli on the secure side. If I ever fly through or to there again, I need to check out their gluten-free options... even if I have to go get my bag from baggage claim. I'll have time. (I didn't this time, and regretted it later.) 
  • On that same note, I should just take a sandwich with me when I fly. 
  • I still never leave the hotel once I get there. Even with the DART system as an option. 
  • I would really like to visit downtown Dallas in the summer. Or whenever it's not freezing cold. 
  • Always check delivery times in the morning. I waited too late one night, and Pizza Hut wasn't delivering anymore. 
  • Both room service and delivery take at least 30 minutes... give yourself an hour wait time. 
  • Never order milk (for cereal) from room service. Put your cereal in a cup and go downstairs. The conference has milk for coffee. Use that. 
  • Eating cereal out of a starbucks cup will get you some weird looks. It's a great plan regardless. 
  • If you're working behind the curtain, make sure you have a snack. Once you get there, you don't leave. 
  • The same goes for a phone charger. 

This year, I tried on my business outfits before I left and made sure that I packed things that worked together. It was great. It saved so much time in the mornings, and I knew FOR SURE that what I had would work. 

I also helped two teams prepare for prelims. Here's what I have to say about that: 
  • Financial Analyst Team: Your reports better be damn good. Not only does your technical score determine if you make it to finals (and get to present), but it also plays a role in your final score. If you have the lowest tech score at finals, you probably won't make it. Mathematically, it doesn't work. Trust me. We tried to send a team to NLC, but their tech score was so much lower than another teams that we had no choice but to send the other team and make them 3rd. 
  • If you make it to finals, bring a copy of your report to the judges. 9 times out of 10, they didn't get a copy of your report. If you're the first group to present, be aware that the judges might not even have the prompt. Be careful about asking, but don't be surprised if they ask you what's going on. 
  • I've said it before and I'll say it again - don't believe that your judges don't know what they're talking about. I have a BBA in Finance and Accounting, and I asked more than one group if Earnings Per Share was what the investor got back for investing in the company. (Note: it's not.) I also asked if the current ratio should be high, because "higher is better, right?" I also asked how "that stuff" worked. The point here is that if you don't know the answer to that, don't just blindly agree. We don't always try to trick you, but in finals, it's a matter of sending the best team to finals. (And a note: the team that won first place knew that the CR shouldn't always be higher. There's a range, and they knew it.) 
  • A note that doesn't come from judging - if you have an issue that makes presenting unfair, go to headquarters and tell them right away. In this case, it was an issue of people in the hallway being loud and playing music, which distracted from the student's presentation. After hers, the judges made them quiet down. By the time she told her advisor and the advisor told us, there was nothing we could do. If she had told us right away, we could have let her present again under the quiet (non-distracting) circumstances. 
  • Use the WSAP. Seriously. Look at the grading rubric's and follow them. That's what the judges get. 

I'm sure I'm leaving things off - I always do. If you have questions, feel free to ask me! Whether it's now or next year or whenever - ask, and I'll either know the answer or find out. 

The 2016 SLC is in Corpus Christi, so let me know if you'll be there! I will :p 

Apr 1, 2015

March Favorites

We're already several days into April now, so I'm going to only hit a couple highlights and catch the rest at the end of this month.

First up, Udi's Gluten Free Italian Sausage Lasagna. It's easy, tastes great, and is the first frozen meal that I finished wanting more. I'd like to do a whole review of it, but school is tough right now, so just bear with me on this one.
Next, the decaf iced caramel macchiato from Starbucks. It's my summer drink, and in South Texas, March is summer enough to switch from hot coffee to iced.
I've also been loving the kinnikinnick gluten free Vanilla Wafers. Can you say, GF Nilla Wafers? FINALLY. They're a little harder than I expected them to be, but I really enjoy them.
 To put a bow on this month's (short) favorite's post, I'll leave you with the Pillsbury Funfetti Gluten Free Cake and Cupcake Mix. It's sweet, but not too bad. I'll do a full review of it later, but it was great. The batter was thick, but the cupcakes were light. I really enjoyed them (and so did my non-GF boy. Also: my parents)!

Mar 5, 2015


Good morning! I'm writing this the day before it's scheduled to post, which is weird for a conversation post, but there's a good chance I won't actually get to finish this entry in one sitting. I'm a little all over the place this morning (it's 10:30am) - my tea is too sweet, I'm sniffling thanks to whatever cold front is blowing in, I'm kind of exhausted after being up until 2am researching gluten free options in downtown Dallas (and how to get there without a car or walking crazy far in the cold), and I desperately need to pack.
Also, wash my hair.
I want to give you a little heads up, my dear reader, as to what's coming. I went to the Gluten Free Food Allergy Fest last weekend, so that super fun post will go up... soon. It's mostly written as of now, but I just have to get the pictures where they belong and that takes a bit of time.
I've got BPA State this weekend (I leave the day this goes live), which I will write about. However, I have two exams next week, so studying is going to have to come before blogging.
The exciting part is the week after that is my spring break, so depending on the weather, I'll either be inside or at the beach. I'm sure you can figure out which one would be more productive...

I also have a couple recipe posts I want to share, as well as some product reviews. I'm thinking about doing a personal finance series because 1) I need a more fun way to study for the class I'm taking about it, and 2) it's really good information. Let me know if you have thoughts on that, or just hang around. It may show up soon(ish).

I used to write for my local GIG branch's newsletter (almost every month for six and a half years), and when we disbanded (almost a year ago), I stopped writing. I miss it, so in order to get back in the swing of things with that regard, I'm going to post some of the articles I wrote. Not every single one is good or relevant - several were simply meeting reminders and some were time sensitive, but I can think of a handful off the top of my head that I'd like to share. So, those will show up every now and again (starting sometime after spring break).

Let's see. I still have some tea left. What else is there to say?
I'll most likely try the gluten free Pizza Hut pizza in Dallas. It'll be the first time I've ever had a pizza delivered. I'm so excited and really nervous.
I found out last night that someone in one of my grad classes also has celiac. I'll have to start watching what he snacks on in class... I'm pretty sure he's not as careful about the diet as I am, which worries me. Guys, just a reminder, health comes first. Don't chance things. Come on.
I bought the Baymax movie (Big Hero 6) a few days ago and watched it again with Bruce. He agreed that it was good. (Tissue warning.)
I went to call the hotel this morning and accidentally clicked on the iPhone favorite of my house phone. I'm IN my house. I decided to wait until I was a little more coherent to call the hotel. Sigh.
I have a laundry list of things to do today, so I'll leave this as it is and go deal with life. Have a great day! (:

Mar 4, 2015

product review: Smart Flour Gluten Free Uncured Pepperoni Pizza

I'm probably an even bigger fan of pizza than I am of mac 'n cheese. That's a strong statement, but it's true. I could eat pizza for long periods of time and be a happy little penguin. I've tried so many kinds of pizza, and only a handful do I go back to repeatedly. I might make a whole post ranking my favorite pizzas. That would be a very fun post. I would also get very hungry. Anyway. Here we go.

Last year, Miranda and I went to a Gluten Free Allergy and Wellness Fair and they had a zillion samples... and one of them was Smart Flour pizza. I'd never had it before, but had heard wonderful things about it. I tried a slice, and it was wonderful. Cut to this month, where I finally saw Smart Flour pizza. It came home with me. This was it right out of the package:
I added extra pepperoni, a little bit of cheddar cheese, and some Boar's Head ham... because why not. This is normally how I eat my pizza (but to be fair, usually I have more cheddar cheese, and it goes under the pepperoni and stuff... but since this one already had the giant pepperonis, I just added on).
I had it in the oven at 400F for about 16 minutes and then on broil for maybe two or three. That was a few minutes over the box's recommendations, so just make sure to cook it to how you like it.
The very edges are crispy, but the rest of the crust isn't. It's not quite chewy, either, but a happy medium. I didn't really cut the slices thin enough to have them try to fold down like "regular" pizza does, but I'm pretty sure it would, given the chance.
I really enjoyed it. REALLY. It was somewhere between 7 and 9 dollars (I'm not sure because I bought three different kinds of pizza in one felt swoop and I can't find the receipt right now. Sigh), so that's not TOO bad. It's definitely a little more of a treat because it's pre-made, and there are cheaper options that I like as much or more... But I will repurchase it, and I give it five stars

 Have you tried this? What do you think? AND what pizzas should I try?