Sun Sense


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Ahhh Summer. Who doesn’t love laying out, soaking up the rays after that incredibly looooooooooooong winter? Feeling the warmth on bare skin and a soft breeze in your hair (and the occasional WHACK! of mosquitos). Unless of course, you are sun sensitive like me, and laying out in the sun is the very last thing your dermatologist and rheumatologist would recommend.  Sunscreen and I are old buddies, in fact you could say we are the best of friends, since I never spend time in the sun without it.  It isn’t my favorite part of the day but it does keep me from having a deep, glowing sun burn all year long.  I do take Vitamin D all year because of this but I am trying to spend 10-15 minutes per day in the sun without sunscreen when it is practical. I seem to be able to tolerate that short amount of time without my rash acting up.

My sun sense strategies include sunscreen as well as sun protection clothing.  I bought the cutest rashguards from for our winter trip to Mexico and they were comfortable and not as hot as I expected.  I got a the one pictured below, plus a long sleeve with a higher neck.  They shipped to Canada and there are stores that carry Roxy, just none with stock in January close to my house!

WHTBasically Roxy SS Rashguard by Roxy - FRT1

I also wear wide brimmed hats and ball caps when exercising.  I buy mine at Swim Co in Winnipeg, at Polo Park Mall.  I love these hats because they are “packable” – meaning you can squash them into a purse and they pop out looking perfect.  This makes toting a hat easier and more likely to be worn.  Plus they come in cool colours and styles.

Beach Basics Ribbon Hat

The last of my sun sense ideas is the simple stuff – sit in the shade, try to wear sleeves/cover your skin with clothing and don’t be out for long periods of time.  Our summers are so short that I find staying indoors the very hardest.  I’m thinking about having UV film applied to my car windows next to make traveling a little safer for me.

But, at the end of the day, and it is Friday, I just want to throw my head back and sing with the incomparable Sheryl Crow:


Stress Relief



Besides good nutrition, another important aspect of the Wahls Protocol is managing stress levels.  I know that the more stress I feel, the worse my rash gets. Unfortunately, we are now in year 4 of extreme rain and flooding.  Year Four.  This, in an area that experienced extreme drought in the 1930s, 1980s and even mid-2000s.  My grandparents have never heard of “too much rain”. 

I’m married to a wonderful farmer and this is the 4th year we’ve struggled to put in a crop.  There are approximately 6-8 weeks in the spring available to seed the fields and we’ve done about 10-15% of our acres.  It’s pretty hard to earn a living on 10% and worse, the crops that are in are drowning in the field.  Yes, there is some insurance.  No, it isn’t enough to live on.  We farmers are a pretty independent lot and relying on insurance, even though we pay huge premiums, is not a satisfying way to feed the family.

So, the 21 inches of rain we’ve had since April 23 does not help me in my quest for stress relief.  However, knowing it is important to stay centered, I have developed a few coping techniques.

1.  Epsom salt baths – not only do they soothe my tender skin, the salt relieves tension.  Plus, it is alone time in the bathroom.  Mothers understand how precious this is.

2.  Personal massage – I learned about this from Dr. Wahls book.  I use coconut oil and start by rubbing oil into my feet and work my way up the body, arms, chest and back if hubby is around.  I also rub it in my scalp if it is especially itchy.  It takes 5-10 minutes and is incredibly calming.  Try it!

3.  Exercise – a walk, a bike ride, a run.  Anything that gets you out in nature and moving.  I love listening to audio books while I exercise, available free from the local library.

4.  Cooking – I admit it, I’m a closet chef. I love to cook. I love making soup and bread and complicated desserts.  If I don’t try to cook a month’s worth of meals in a day (which I do regularly), the act of chopping and stirring can be quite relaxing.

What are your ways to relax?  Any tips for me?

Gluten Free Bisquick


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Do you know the three words that strike fear into my heart? That’s right “Mom, I’m hungry”.  You would think it would be something like “Mom, I’m hurt” or “Where’s my homework?”  But no, I have hollow legged boys who are always hungry. Does it matter that they just ate, exactly 12 minutes ago?  Does it matter that there is literally no food left in the fridge for their school lunches tomorrow?  Is there are a reason I ask such pointless questions??  Sigh.

So, because I am constantly feeding the monsters, I need some cheats. I need a few packaged, easy to prepare, low brain power items for those mornings I simply cannot cope.  You know, Mondays.  And possibly Tuesdays, depending on how bad Monday was.

My new friend in GF world has become Gluten Free Bisquick.  I bought it on sale, thank-you Sobey’s, and thought it might save me from a meltdown someday.  Yes my friends, MY meltdown.  The monsters will eat whatever you put in front of them, the problem is getting it to them fast enough!! Today was that day, I needed carbs, sweet and fast.

GF Bisquick is made with rice flour, sugar, potato starch, xanthan gum but MAY contain soy.  So, if you are soy free and sensitive, maybe skip this one.  Also, the package suggests keeping it in the fridge once opened.  I made the waffle recipe right on the back of the box and it was glorious.  Perfection.  In fact, I think I might be in love.

Directions suggest 1 1/2 cups of mix, 1 1/4 cups milk (I used soy), 3 TBSP oil (I used coconut) and 1 egg.  I blended the ingredients:

photo 1

Dropped them by the 1/3 cup full on to my trusty waffle baker:

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And waited for them to be done. The first four, I cooked all the way through, so I could enjoy them immediately.  The next four I under baked just a tad so they finish cooking in the toaster later.  These babies freeze beautifully!

photo 4

A little coconut oil on top and some maple syrup and I was in GF Waffle heaven.  Love, love these waffles.  My only complaint? The package is pretty small, so probably 2 batches and it’s done.  But, it’s a small price to pay for convenience and bliss. Happy Monday!


Things that Suck


I’m feeling a little sorry for myself today.  I woke up with clearer skin on my front and itchy, rashy, miserable skin on my scalp and back.  It sucks.   I try really hard not to complain, not to be negative and to find the positive side of everything.  To be honest, I’m just not feeling it today.

Dermatomyositis sucks.  There I said it.  It’s ugly.  It’s itchy.  It causes otherwise perfectly polite people to stare, in horror at my skin and ask all kinds of (honest) questions.  I spent the entire summer last year agreeing that “yes, I do have a very bad sunburn” (I did not) or explaining that I suffer from a rare auto-immune disorder.  Neither one is any fun.  On the one hand, you have people thinking you must be some kind of a moron to go out in the sun without sunscreen.  On the other, you are sharing your personal medical history.

It also sucks because of my poor, sensitive hands.  I can hardly take plastic cards out of their slots in my wallet.  I can’t keep my nails anything longer than freshly trimmed because I scratch in my sleep.  I can’t get the cards out without their sharp edges digging into my very sensitive cuticles.  I’m currently on a mission to find a wallet where I will be able to manage better.

It sucks because I don’t sleep well.  I don’t feel well so I can’t sleep.  I don’t sleep, so I don’t feel well.  What a vicious cycle.

It sucks because I have to wear SPF 50 sunscreen ALL. THE. TIME.  In winter, on cloudy days, in the car, in the office. The methotrexate makes me even more sun sensitive apparently.  Great, a disorder that dislikes the sun coupled with meds that really, really dislike the sun.  I feel like a vampire.

It sucks because even when I wore a UPF rash guard, long pants, a hat and sunscreen but didn’t wear gardening gloves, my hands broke out in one of the worst rashes yet.  The rest of me was ok, but my poor hands.  Sigh.

It sucks because after a year of treatment, nothing has worked.  Once again, I am having to experiment because the doctors have no answers.  I hate being a guinea pig but I’m willing to try anything.

Ok.  Enough misery.  I’m alive.  I have friends.  I have family.  I have meaningful work.  I have enough of what I need and am fortunate in so many ways.  I have an auto immune disease but I live my life the best way I know.

Happy Methotrexate day.  Hope it brings us both some relief.

All Those Vegetables!



As I journey along the Wahls Protocol, I find myself eating a wider variety of vegetables than ever before.  For instance, I had never tried kale, beets (other than pickled, yuck), or leeks.  I have always enjoyed my veggies, it’s just that I tend to stick with peas, carrots, broccoli, corn and cauliflower.  My kids think they’ve won the lottery when I serve broccoli (they are weird, I know) so I guess I must have done one thing right as a parent.

The point though, is that the seemingly never ending need to eat 9 cups means I get full or bored, sometimes both, of eating my vegetables.  I’m not ready yet to go totally into Wahls Paleo, though I am trying to incorporate more animal protein, particularly the fish.  I saw a suggestion to use smoothies to fit in the greens, and that my friends, has been a lifesaver. 

Next tip, soup.  I love leek soup with mushrooms, garlic, onion and bone broth.  Broccoli and cauliflower soup are also great choices to get in those sulfur rich vegetables.  A cup with lunch, a cup with supper and I am well on my way.

Newest tip – veggies and dip.  I adore veggies and dip to eat up all the coloured vegetables.  Mashed avocado and a bit of lemon juice and salt makes a tasty dip for carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms (sulfur!), peppers and peas.  I like my vegetables raw as much as possible.  I’m not sure Dr. Wahls cares, it’s just my preference. 

How are you getting in your 9 cups?



Wahls Week One


I have completed a full week plus on the Wahls protocol. Specifically I am following step one – the Wahls diet. It’s been a bit up and down getting it right but I’ve managed to stay completely gluten free and nearly casein free. 

I won’t pretend it has been easy but it hasn’t been as hard as I thought either. I haven’t been tempted to cheat even when I made the family cookies and muffins.  Not even to lick the spoon. Besides, my weakness is cheese. So far I have managed to just ignore it. 


The toughest part is getting the leafy greens in. I get tired of salad, salad, salad. It’s fine during the week but eating them all weekend gets a bit tiresome. 

I discovered green smoothies today and think this might be a solution. 2 cups of spinach and four berries plus a bit of milk equalled tasty goodness. That’s the first cup of leafy. Then, a lovely salad for lunch and some steamed greens for supper. 

I also made what I’m going to call sulfur soup. I made it with 4 cups beef bone broth,  2 cups of kale, 2 cups baby bok Choy, onions, garlic and some salt. So good. I’m calling 1.5 cup = 1 cup sulfur. Next time I make it I will try to post photos. 

First week results:  redness on face much lighter. Lost 5 pounds. No improvement in sleep patterns. No improvement in energy levels. Back still very red and dry.  Hands got very bad after being outside. This is one area that I hope will soon improve. 

Dermatomyositis Humor




(Credit )

Have to take it.  Think I hate it.

I’m not one to just start a medication because a doctor says I should, up until methotrexate.  I just blindly said “OK” when it was offered.  Honestly, nothing else was working, I was seeing a new doctor and it was “something else” to try.  Does it work?  Sort of.  I think the rash has improved a lot since starting it but reached a point where there was no further improvement.  So, we upped the dose.  Now I have to take it in 2 doses on Fridays which is a bit of a pain.  Two weeks ago I developed painful mouth sore.  They are finally healed up and I am hoping don’t return because that means I can no longer take methotrexate, at least at this dosage.  This is my 4th dose at 25 mg, so if there is no more improvement, I’m going to say it didn’t work.

Did you know methotrexate is a chemotherapy drug?  I didn’t.  Not for months.  This really bothers me and I do want to quit taking it.  But, I also can’t continue to suffer from the disease.  It does keep me from tearing my skin off, though I won’t kid you, I still itch.

So, I’m trying my best to follow the Wahls Protocol.  I am hopeful that combined with the medication, I will soon see improvements that eventually allow me to decrease and even eliminate the methotrexate.  It seems like an impossible goal but isn’t everything until you do it?

Wahls Protocol – Initial Impressions


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I have dived head first into the Wahls Protocol. I finished the audio book and am armed with all of Dr. Wahls enthusiasm and knowledge. I made extensive notes and will probably have to listen to it again, just to pick up even more of the hidden gems. I’ve been eating my 9 cups of vegetables and fruits for most of a full week now, gluten free and almost dairy free. (Turns out there is casein in my coffeemate, sigh)

Here are my initial impressions:
1. Watch the Tedx Talk you tube video here, even if you haven’t read the book. It’s 18 minutes and really fired me up to commit to the protocol.

2. It is a “Protocol” not a “Diet”. Remind yourself this at every opportunity. We cheat on diets. We follow medical protocols. This is as important as taking your medication.

3. Do NOT stop taking your medication. Oops, learned that one the hard way. In my defense, the drugs don’t seem to be “doing anything” so I quit taking the Plaquenil. Two days later, there is Dr. Wahls on my audiobook reminding us to continue all medication until your doctor says otherwise. Ask me how awful my skin was. How it burned and turned blotchy, red and hot. Yes, it was brutal. I am back on my drugs, it seems they actually ARE “doing something”.

4. Because it is a protocol, there is more to it than just food. Stress management is extremely important too. Detoxification is also vital.

Initial Results:
Spoiled probably, because I quit taking my medication. Having said that, I did go through a serious sugar craving day. I also had a “false start”. Meaning, I went GFCF during the week but went off the protocol for the weekend. I did not suffer too much from this and it was kind of a last au revoir to gluten and dairy. (So glad we did the Pizza Hut pizza, not going to lie, that is a weakness for me) The sugar day was after I finally gave up the gluten and dairy. I have not experienced serious cravings or die-off which I did expect but maybe it is because I am so committed that I can ignore them.

My skin is not better. My energy is not better. My mouth sores have completely cleared up. (Which was the last straw for me to finally give in to the protocol. I couldn’t brush my teeth with mint toothpaste) I am not sleeping better.

I have lost 3 pounds (!) and I have discovered that I love beets and asparagus. I am not so excited about blackberries, but they are ok.

This week:
Focus on following the 9 cups of vegetables and fruits. No tomatoes or nightshades. No peanuts or other nuts. (I have a pre-existing suspicion of intolerance to these) Increase water consumption to at least 6 cups per day. Meat, 4-6 oz daily. Personal massage with coconut oil daily, as described in the book. (It is so relaxing) Sleep at least 7 hours daily, more if possible.  I’m also taking detailed notes, which I won’t post, unless I start to see some patterns, positive or negative appear.

Upcoming steps:

Order Dulse flakes, more organic coconut oil, Avalon Organics shampoo (no sodium laurel sulfates) and Nordic Naturals Omega 3 from  I have a terribly itchy scalp and my pharmacist suggested an SLS free shampoo.  Why not try it?  The dulse flakes and omegas are suggested as part of the protocol.

(Just a little plug, if you’ve never ordered from, use coupon code MEN348 for a small discount.  It is my go-to source for natural, organic and hard to find supplements, foods and personal care items. We live so far from Natural Health stores that it is a convenient, low cost way to access these items.  Orders under 4 pounds ship Canada Post (I’ve never yet paid customs/duties), for $4.00)

Research & Action


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In my quest to solve my auto-immune disorder, I have spent the weekend reading and honestly, getting frustrated. There is so much conflicting information. Eat plants. Eat meat. Don’t eat Gluten. Don’t eat Dairy. Don’t eat meat – it causes cancer. Eat whole grains, they are essential for health….

I personally have sadly, reverted to the Standard American Diet (SAD), (and while yes, this IS a Canadian blog, I think SCD is already taken as an acronymn). The SAD in my case involves a decent amount of fresh food, meats, a slowly increasing amount of processed junk and plenty of coffee. I’d tell you I eat pretty healthfully, but I did have a Timmies plus 2 pop tarts on Friday, so who am I kidding. To be fair, I felt awful all weekend. Itchy, tired, sore. It is clearly time to take back some control.

0307359980My first book was Meals That Heal Inflammation by Julie Daniluk, RHN. I bought it at Chapters. You can too!  The premise of the book is that you spend 8 weeks on an elimination diet and then add back, one at a time, potential allergens.  GF/CF/SF/Corn free/Additive Free/Beef & Pork free among other things.  Full of interesting recipes, none of which I have tried.



My second book was “The Wahls Protocol” by Dr. Terry Wahls.  Dr. Wahls has Multiple Scelerosis (an auto-immune disease) and experimented on herself to find a way of reversing much of the debilitating effects of MS.  She advocates a Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free (because she is allergic to eggs, and the protocol is actually in clinical trials, it has to be exactly what she did) diet in step one. In step 2, she moves to a Paleo diet and in step three, what she calls a Paleo Plus diet.  (I’m still reading, so forgive the lack of detail)

The Wahls Protocol initial step is to clear out all the gluten and casein from your diet and incorporate 9 cups of vegetables and fruits into your diet daily. NINE CUPS.  People, that is a lot of rabbit food.  It needs to be 3 cups leafy greens, 3 cups brightly coloured, 3 cups sulpher rich.  GF/CF fare is ok in this step.  She even talks about the opioid and leaky gut syndrome.  Seems like all that “crazy stuff” I did with my son 5 years ago isn’t so crazy after all?

My third book (and documentary) was Forks Over Knives.  Interesting.  They advocate a plant based diet.  No meat.  No dairy.  No fish.  If it had a face or a mother, don’t eat it.  But, gluten is allowed.   The authors have good research that plant based diets prevent heart problems, diabetes and cancer.

So, what to do.  What to do?  I haven’t been this overwhelmed since I first started GFCF so long ago.

I needed a plan.  Could I go GF/CF again?  All the books are in agreement about casein.  It is apparently evil.  To be avoided.  To be banished from my kitchen.  (But oh how do I love thee mozzarella cheese)  Could I really eat NINE cups of vegetables and fruit a day?

Do I really want to ever feel as bad as I do now ever again?  Do I want to get worse?

The plan:  follow the 8 week elimination diet as advocated by Meals That Heal Inflammation, supported by the Wahls Protocol.  Meaning, avoid all the allergy suspect foods while still going GF/CF and eating the 9 !! cups of vegetables & fruits.

Today’s Menu:

Breakfast:  Cornstarch pancakes, 1 cup of cherries, mangos, strawberries and pineapple  (it was either corn or gluten, take your pick)

Lunch:  Carrot soup, salad with Kale, Cabbage, broccoli and other greens, plus some cranberries and a GF poppyseed dressing.

Supper: Apricot Chicken with rice and vegetables, more salad

Snack: fruit and organic strawberry tea


So far, at lunch, I feel satisfied.   I’m still concerned my nose is going to start twitching before the week is out…


Coconut Oil


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photoHello readers. It has been months since I last did any blogging. But, since this is my personal space for getting thoughts out, I’ve got a new “something” to share.

I’ve been recently diagnosed with a rare skin condition called “Dermatomyositis”. Don’t worry, it’s practically impossible to pronounce.  It looks like eczema, acts like rosacea and is incredibly frustrating!

It is an auto immune disorder that leaves me with an intensely red, itchy rash that I am taking boatloads of medication for. Not to mention the topical creams and lotions. None of which is curing the problem. Just providing some itch relief.

Thank God for Mary Kay makeup. Otherwise, I’d look like I had a permanent sunburn on my face. But I digress…

The point of this posting is to start a log of my trial of Coconut Oil. I am going to try it on my hands (the worst and most impossible to see results spot) first.

I put some on my hands today and think maybe I used too much, since they are still pretty greasy. And, we’re talking maybe a 1/4 tsp. However, I read that 1 TBSP will do the whole body, so there you are.

On an aside, I do love coconut oil for baking in place of other oils. It melts easily and doesn’t leave too much taste in most things. Be careful with really light flavoured stuff. It is awesome in banana bread. Yummmm.. Think maybe I should go make some.