About Me

My photo
I am mom to an 18 year old boy and identical twin 9 year old boys. I am the wife of a wonderful man. I have had celiac disease for 18 years, and love to share recipes I find or create!

Dec 31, 2011

DIY Ikea Ramvik Kid's Lego Table - and a fun Duplo game!

It's finally finished!!!

I used contact cement to glue down the 8 lego bases, ordered on sale from Barnes & Noble with free shipping. I attached the lego bases together using Big Kid's legos on all the seams, to make it easier to handle and assure the seams could be built on. I painted both the lego bases and the tabletop with contact cement, which dried in about ten minutes, and adhered once pressed together. The boys started building as soon as I brought it back inside! Contact cement is rather smelly. The lego bases also fit duplo blocks on them, so we figure they can use them with their duplos and then use the table with legos eventually! They are turning four soon, maybe they'll get legos for their birthdays :)

This is my very first Ikea hack!!! I did paint the two little Rast dressers, but that's not really a "hack" it's just color. This is an entirely new purpose for the table, yay!!! I freecycled the glass tabletop, it's now part of someone else's table :) I love how well freecycle works like that! Freecycle is an awesome organization - it's a yahoo group, every area has one, and it's sort of like a craigslist but everything is free. We have received more items than I can remember over the years - the perfect blinds for our new sliding glass doors, toddler beds, slides and picnic tables, routers, a beautiful set of Christmas dishes, you name it! We have given away tons and tons of items, from a mint condition game boy to a broken gas stove - all were happily received by someone who needed it! Freecycle rocks and I can personally attest to it keeping a huge amount of items out of the landfill, which is it's main purpose.

*Update* The boys and hubby have created a game with the Duplos and some dice they found - reinforcing counting skills and taking turns ;) They roll the dice, move ahead the rolled number of blocks, and the winner is the duplo character who reaches the pyramid first! I love seeing my family being so inventive - using their noggins!

Dec 30, 2011

Bakery On Main

If someone would have told me when I was a teen (ok, even 25) that I would jump for joy when I found a bag of granola at a store I would have laughed in their face! Yet there I was at the grocery store today freaking out because I bought not only two bags but two DIFFERENT varieties of Bakery On Main's gluten free Granola. Yep, I'm officially an old lady now, getting excited about eating granola in the morning. It's the little things apparently. I just got home from a grocery shopping trip and I'm all stupid with excitement - I shopped for myself for once! I'm all Oooooh I can eat granola in the morning, or have mac and cheese tonight, or make kettle corn popcorn for a snack, or eat a fruity pebbles bar for a snack... yes I get that excited over food. Normally I buy the absolute minimum I need, since gluten free food is so expensive and I try to stick to a tight budget. I don't eat much along the lines of snacks, and only have breakfast food until my box of chex runs out. However this trip for some reason fell on a ton of sales, and I was able to spend $160 (seriously it's usually $300) at two stores and get three week's worth of meat, boxes of cereal, snacks, sodas, 4 gallons of milk (lasts 4 days!), I could keep going! I got everything we wanted and stayed well below my budget - that meant I could splurge and get gluten free noodles, snacks, and cereal. I almost got myself a 4 pack of the oh so yummy Udi's blueberry muffins but couldn't stomach the $6.99 price tag. Yet. Don't worry, I'll drool over them just enough to pounce on them when they lower the price even by a dollar HA!

Did everyone else have a good gluten free Christmas? Ours was awesome - kids had an absolute blast and got a ton of presents they just love. Big Kid and I have been having a great time playing Skylanders, he has of course been lost in his new Skyrim game too. Hubby has been staying up late playing his new game, Battlefield 3, while I can no longer keep my eyes open past 10pm. Thing One and Thing Two got a walk in kitchen from Grampa, which they absolutely love. They take turns being the dad and being the son, and make pizza and donuts for each other. They'll spend hours in there with their Mario and Luigi and Toad figurines, doing this or that, making pizza with them or pretending the pizza is a pile of pancakes. It's so fun to see them pretending so much!!

Off to eat some yummmmmy gluten free findings :) Happy New Year everyone!!!

Dec 19, 2011

Ancient Times

So far this year Big Kid has blown through the Asia and the Pacific text, the Medieval Times text, and today we started Ancient Times. We're using the Prentice Hall World Explorer series. I have two other Ancient Times books, Usborne and Kingfisher, to supplement with. I think we're going to love them! Today was the first section of chapter one, and it was about early humans and specifically Iceman. So I got out my national geographic and he read an article about how scientists can now tell that Iceman was not being chased when he died, because his stomach was full when he passed away. Then he watched an hour long special we recorded awhile ago on PBS about Iceman. COOL! Next month we start studying Mesopotamia, and I have a ton of supplemental info for him to use with the text. I hope he enjoys it, I can't wait to get to studying ancient Egypt - that is my favorite subject to learn about! I know so much about so many of the Egyptian Pharaohs, I can't wait to start showing him some. I know he won't be as into it as I am, but I'm hoping he will enjoy learning about them and remember at least a little of it. I'm thinking we'll fit a museum trip in at some point, to see some Egyptian artifacts - maybe even some sarcophagus... sarcophagi? Ha!

Dec 7, 2011

Preschool projects

Each month I go by a theme for the twins. I use two of the curriculum programs I still own from teaching pre-k to write my own preschool curriculum, but it's a loose "schedule". This month is of course holiday themed, and we decided to talk about a few different ways people celebrate this season. We covered Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. There is an awesome Blues Clues episode that talks about the same celebrations, we have it on dvd and it definitely hit home what we talked about! We have made wreaths, santas, moose, and menorahs so far. Oh and we made gingerbread men using fun foam and glitter ;) The moose were cutting projects, they did an awesome job cutting on the lines!! I'm having so much fun doing projects with the boys, they are finally able to make recognizable shapes when they cut and draw! Even with glue they made faces on the gingerbread men, they were actual faces. I show them my drawing of each project, then let them go at it. I guess I'm just happy the noses and eyes are where they should be finally. I do miss the projects where the eyes were ears, the nose was hair, and the mouth was on the forehead :)

We decided to skip doing a specific letter this month, so they have been using the magnetic letters on a cookie sheet and playing "chicka chicka boom boom". Thing Two spelled "monster" but sat there going back and forth between "monster" and "monstur". Kids are so cool! The twins are making presents for our oh so awesome neighbors, they pawed through my supplies bins until they found "just the right things". They're so crazy!

Nov 26, 2011

Did you have a good Thanksgiving?

As you can see from the photos, we sure did! I tried a new recipe and brined a 14lb turkey the day before cooking. I cooked it at 400 for around 2 hours, and I am telling you it was so juicy and flavorful it almost wasn't turkey! Click here for the recipe :) I have cooked many turkeys in my day, and I am totally turned - I will never cook a turkey any other way! I stuffed some veggies into the cavity and around the bird, but by the time it was done cooking they were useless. Flavored the turkey nicely tho!

Hubby fried a turkey this year for the first time, and his bird was super moist too. It looked "different", I wasn't prepared for it to be so dark when it was cooked, but it still wowed me with it's moist taste. It was fun to see him out back with his pulley system to raise and lower the turkey, thank you Alton Brown!!! Very cool!!

Nov 21, 2011

Thank You Udi's!

Someone at Udi's loves me - seriously. Let me explain. I eat "normal" food - I can't stand health food, I called it all bird seed until I was forced into gluten free eating by the diagnosis of Celiac Disease. I still don't like health food, but I do eat granola type stuff for breakfast - sometimes. Gone are those warm bowls of oatmeal on cold mornings... turkey and swiss on toasted white bread... bagels with cream cheese and raspberry jam... drippy greasy bacon burgers smothered in cheese and thousand island dressing...

Those foods were all gone until I discovered Udi's. I have tried multiple varieties of Rudi's bread, which all fell apart and were just not my cup of tea. I have tried a few of the Ezekiel breads, all great if you like health food and don't expect wonderbread. I expect wonderbread. Since discovering Udi's bread stand at my local grocery store I have been regularly buying their white bread. It's awesome bread, just very small ;) Not wonderbread soft, but who cares if it tastes really good, doesn't fall apart, or mold in an afternoon! I absolutely love Udi's hamburger buns - I use them for their intended purpose as well as in place of biscuits, as rolls, I even toast them and put jelly on them! Yummy! Then I found Udi's bagels, and my toasted bagels with cream cheese and raspberry jam dreams returned. I went to the store over the weekend and found - drumroll please - Cinnamon Raisin Bread from Udi's. Of course I paid $5.99 for the loaf, I would have bought two if they had another one! It's sweet, toasts well and stays together just like "real" bread, and it tastes just like I remember Pepperidge Farm Cinnamon Raisin Swirl bread tasting. Yes, that was my favorite bread of all time. I am in heaven! I have had four pieces already, toasted with a little margarine on top. HEAVEN!

So thank you Udi's for making such wonderful make mommy happy products! I still haven't seen the hot dog buns, I can't wait to have a hot dog IN A BUN! It's been what, 8 or 9 years now since I had a hot dog wrapped in bready awesomeness, drowned with ketchup and sweet relish, topped with some cheese... ok now I'm drooling ;) And no, I did not get paid for saying any of this!

Nov 17, 2011

Being Thankful

My first thought today is this: be happy with who you are.

I realized years ago while I was cooking hamburger helper for my little two year old (don't judge!) that I was angry all the time. It was quite an epiphany for me. I realized that if I wanted to be truly happy I had to accept the things I couldn't change about my life, like my red hair or having to wear glasses. I set out to change the things I could in a way that I could be happy with! It's much easier said than done, but I am one of those people who are doers, not procrastinators. It took me a few years of trying this and that, but over the years I have found my "happy place". It's not about what I have, or that I'm better off than so and so - it's about me and what makes me happy. I'm no better than anyone else, but I smile a lot!

My kids make me happy every day - even when I'm angry if Big Kid just has to be right, or when the twins play "gotcha" and make each other scream, I still love being their mom and know in my heart they are amazingly good kids. I have learned to choose my battles carefully! I married a man I cannot imagine being without, who makes my life brighter every day. I find homeschooling the most rewarding thing I have ever done other than parenting. My mother and I have an awesome relationship. I hate that I have celiac disease, but I can't change it so I don't dwell - I find foods that still make my mouth water and are gluten free. I had to wear braces as an adult, and was in pain daily - but kept the end result in sight. We have the same family issues everyone else does, I promise. I don't know how else to put it into words, other than after hitting many potholes in the road I have learned to avoid the big ones and make repairs when I do hit one. I have bad days, who doesn't - but I have realized that the good ones far outweigh the bad ones if you have the right attitude about dealing with things! If I wake up in a bad mood it can quickly ruin an entire day - I try to realize that and find something do that makes me happy. It's usually laughing with my children ;) Just take a step back and enjoy what makes you smile today!

A day in our homeschooling life

I started homeschooling Big Kid a year and a half ago. We have been hugely successful schooling at home with him, and I am very proud of him (and of myself!). I am, however, caught off guard every time someone asks me "well what do you do with your twins all day" when they learn I homeschool! What do they think I do, duct tape them to the wall until the school bell rings at the end of our day?!

I have to stop for a moment and remember, if you have never been exposed to a homeschooler's day it is foreign. Since I only have one child "in school" right now and he's 12, I do not sit at a table all day and lecture. I feel it necessary to explain this since I am asked questions often! In an average day I talk "at" Big Kid for collectively ... one to two hours, depending on the material and my involvement in it. Yesterday for example we worked together for an hour on his documentary about being a knight in feudal Europe. He has never written a documentary, I helped. We had the argument that because I am "Mom" he does not get to hand in a paper with stick figure drawings across the top. He is 12! Other days I barely sit for an hour with him! I am always nearby, and there to help, but he is pretty independent as far as school goes. I grade before cooking dinner, so I can still talk to him about things if something went the wrong direction.

I "lecture" from our Social Studies book (see curriculum at the bottom of my blog) and I usually talk to him about science lessons. For math, we read a ten minute lesson then he does practice problems, if they're correct he moves onto homework. I certainly don't hold his hand during homework, if he hits an issue he finds me and we work it out. My mother does an art lesson once a week if we can manage it (she does not live with us). Latin is a video that he watches, then I check his retention with a lesson page he fills out and we have various worksheets to reinforce the material. He reads out of a literature book every other day, and takes a quiz on what he read after the selection. On certain days we talk for five minutes about his grammar lesson, most days he just flies through his Easy Grammar book. We use a Reader's Digest word quiz book for vocabulary building. He reads every day for an hour from a book either he or I choose. Right now he's reading The Book of Three, which is one I picked since it seemed to fit with what we are studying in European history (medieval times). He takes tests, quizzes, and such just like every public school child does, the difference is I am right here to see if something fails and work with him on it. I still grade just like I would any child, I don't curve ever, and if he gets a 58 I record a 58.

So after reading that I hope more people understand how I fit in housework, reading to the twins, doing projects and puzzles and painting, playing playdoh... you get the idea. My kids come first no matter what, and we do take days off when we just don't feel like school. It's a homeschooling bonus! I am a tad bit curious about how to fit in Big Kid's school with twins in say, first or second grade, but honestly things go so well for us right now I feel we'll take it all in stride! We already have "preschool" for the twins, and have just about everything you would find in a preschool room, minus the germs and overcrowding. And my kids still get "one on one" from ME! I do NOT feel like we are together too much, nor do I feel "trapped". I'm happy in this role, and am happy I have the opportunities I do!

Nov 12, 2011

Beef Stew

Another reason I love cold weather :) This is one of my favorite meals of all time, and it's excellent with Udi's new hamburger buns, toasted and buttered like a biscuit!

Beef Stew
*as always, if you are making this as a gluten free recipe check your ingredients to ensure gluten free status! I have brands I am very loyal to, but I still check every time I buy a new container to ensure nothing has changed on the ingredient list.

2 lbs stew beef
1/4 C flour (I use GF pantry's all purpose, but used to make it with *normal* flour before going gluten free)
6 C water
bay leaf
beef boullion cube
small bag of mini carrots, sliced
3 to 4 potatoes, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
dash of worcestershire sauce

In a large pot stir together beef and flour, and stir over medium heat until beef is browned. Add 6C water and cover, simmering on low for 2 hours. Add bay leaf, boullion cube, veggies and worcestershire sauce. Simmer uncovered until veggies are soft and ready.

This recipe has no salt in it because my mother doesn't eat salt - however if you like salty stuff feel free to add some! This is the basic stew recipe, and we love it. You can add lots of things to jazz it up - throw some peppers or onions in, maybe some ketchup or A1 sauce, maybe even some franks red hot!

Nov 9, 2011

Ikea Rast Dressers

Well, this will be my second Ikea furniture purchase. The first purchase was a set of coffee/end tables, and they have lasted surprisingly well and we really like them! This time we bought the twins two little unfinished dressers, and let them pick out paint - screaming green and electric orange. The dressers were super easy to put together, and so far I have primed and sanded both dressers. The green one is finished and in their room, and it looks awesome. Orange one will get painted this weekend! This was a really easy project, and made a huge difference to the boys. Well worth the $35 per dresser ;)

Update 11/26/11 - The green dresser is just awesome. One coat of gray gripper primer and two coats of green and it looks amazing! The wood grain still shows through just a little since I used very thin coats of paint, I am very pleased. The orange one is awaiting sanding after I used the same gray primer on it, not knowing it would never stop showing through the orange paint. Live and learn.

Nov 8, 2011

Easy Gluten Free Meal!

Yep, I'm trying to push myself back into making good gluten free meals. I usually cook good meals every night my husband doesn't, we sort of share that duty, but lately I have just been in a food rut. Trying to get out of it!

Mandarin Chicken Salad
*as always, if you are making this as a gluten free recipe check your ingredients to ensure gluten free status! I have brands I am very loyal to, but I still check every time I buy a new container to ensure nothing has changed on the ingredient list.

1 to 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast
10 to 12 oz can mandarin oranges
1 can crushed pineapple (or chunked)
1 Tbs miracle whip
walnut pieces (optional)

-Boil chicken for 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the thickness of your chicken. It should be completely cooked through when you're done! Drain and cool the chicken enough to handle.
-Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces, and throw in a big bowl.
-Reserving the juices, drain the fruit and add the fruit to the chicken.
-Stir the juices with the miracle whip until well mixed.
-Add the juices to the fruit and chicken, throw in walnuts if you want, and cover. Throw in the fridge until ready to serve!

This meal is great served over cold lettuce, or (like we serve most everything) over white rice! I hope you enjoy it as much as we do, it's a well loved recipe in our house!

I love fall

Fuzzy sweaters, slippers, snuggling into flannel sheets with the love of my life, knowing happy family holidays are coming, and the amazing colors Mother Nature throws into our surroundings. Fall is such a perfect season!

Nov 7, 2011

Brownie Pops done easy!

I wanted to try brownie or cake pops for our annual Halloween party. I read some horror stories about how these are those mythical recipes that only Martha Stewart can make look good, but I figured why not - I am a pretty good baker, I could take my best shot! I did, and they turned out very tasty and not so bad looking!

I used a regular old box of brownie mix, and baked it for three minutes under the recommended time. I let them cool enough to touch, and cut the edges away in a 9x13 pan. I scooped up the warm brownies and smooshed them into balls in my hand, spraying my hand with Pam from time to time. I put the balled brownies in the fridge overnight, and the next day I melted my candy wafers in the microwave in a mug, and I CAN'T SAY THIS ENOUGH - dip your sticks in melted candy and shove them into the brownie pops AND LET THAT HARDEN. If you skip that step (as I initially started to) your brownie balls will fall off your stick and get lost in your melted candy! Once your sticks are "stuck" in the brownie balls, go ahead and dip them in the mugs of melted candy. I chose white for ghosts and green for goblins.

The white was great, because the candy sort of pooled at the bottom when I put them on wax paper, so they looked like ghosts once I put the faces on. The green ones were just blobs of green lollipop with chocolate inside, but they were all gone at the end of our party anyway! I tried drizzling melted dark chocolate over the cooled dipped pops, and they looked awesome. I just didn't leave myself enough time to melt chocolate, load it into my frosting bag and drizzle each pop individually. Next time ;)

I wanted to post this because after I read all the other bloggers' posts where they failed miserably at this, I felt like I couldn't do it. Well I did. They don't in fact look like something Martha Stewart created, but they worked and I was proud of what I did. Maybe they'll look better next year!

Operation Christmas Child using coupons!

I don't ever talk about religion, I feel it is a very personal subject. I do post every year about filling my shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child, because I think it is such an awesome program. Google it if you have never heard of it, it's run by Samaritan's Purse. I pick up little things throughout the year that I get either for free or next to free, and put them in shoe boxes for OCC. Last year I did two boxes I think, this year I was able to fill four boxes for under $18!! We made two boxes for the 2-4 age group, and two for the 10-14 age group, one girly and one boyish. In the little kiddo boxes we put puzzles, crayons, barrettes, johnson's soap buddies, toothbrush/floss/paste, puppets, sidewalk chalk, mittens, small playdohs, books, mini mr. potato heads and little coloring books. In the bigger kid ones we put things like composition books, pencils and cases, little lego sets, deodorant, toothpaste/brush/floss, games of jax and small cranium games, crayons, small playdohs, starburst, knit hats, and one box got a dreamcatcher I won online.

Seriously, this is so easy and it's fun for me to think I'm making a less fortunate child's holiday season happier! We certainly can't afford to donate money, but I can afford the shoebox items thanks to couponing! I got the playdoh's free on clearance with a kohl's coupon after halloween, the composition books for $.15 each, crayons for $.25 each, puzzles came free with other purchases, soap buddies were free with coupons, tooth items were all free with coupons, puppets came free with purchase at Ikea, mittens were $.25 each at Target, pencil cases were $.25 at the Dollar Store, knit hats were purchased online for $1.79. It's overwhelming if I try to fill a box all at once, but once I got it in my head to just keep adding things to the box as the months went by the box quickly filled with next to free items! The back to school sales are awesome to find items for the boxes, as well as the right after a holiday sales.

Hopefully my family understands that while these items didn't cost us much they mean something to another child! I think the twins get it, they thought the boxes I made for kids their age were "awesome" and while I don't think they understood the "less fortunate" part, they totally got that we were making the boxes for other kids who didn't get presents like they do. They wanted to add some of their hot wheels to the boxes! Big Kid was impressed with how little I spent, and after I showed him the website for OCC I could see he was happy I had filled four boxes to do our part :)

Gluten Free Slump

I have totally been in a food slump lately. I grabbed some Udi's bread last week, which usually inspires me to make awesome sandwiches - toasted ham and cheese, tuna melts, maybe a good ol' grilled cheese. The last few weeks have been just bleh food weeks for me! I have been using the bread to make jellied toast. Not very exciting! I have been eating black beans, salsa, corn and boiled chicken thrown together on chips instead of real meals, since it's faster to make "normal" meals compared to gluten free meals. I just haven't had any "get up and go" to make gluten free meals! Maybe I need some inspiration... or maybe it's just knowing I have a lot of cooking ahead of me with the holidays coming! I can't stand getting everyone together and worrying about gluten - it's so much of a pain when people ask "oh, what can I make for you?"! My immediate response is "don't worry, I'll bring my own". I know it aggravates the person inquiring, but they won't get sick if they mistakenly mix their noodles and my whatever stovetop. I will. Nothing is worse than being violently ill all night Christmas night! I wish gluten free was easier to understand...

I do enjoy baking Christmas cookies. Every year I'm torn between making them with normal cheap flour and possibly breathing too much in, wiping my face by mistake... or using my expensive flour to make cookies to give to neighbors and friends. At $4 per small box my flour gets expensive fast, but do I want to risk using real flour? I have a month to choose. In the meantime maybe that is what has me off cooking - knowing I have a LOT of cooking ahead of me!

Nov 1, 2011

Winterizing our house

We are seeing a hard frost every morning now, which means to me it's time to winterize the house. I can't stand feeling a cold breeze sitting INSIDE my house with all the windows and doors shut, I just feel like I should be warm inside and it feels like money just pours out our heat vents when cold air comes in unwanted! So I do a few things to try to help prevent cold coming in. I thought sharing what we do could help others, since I was online researching forever when we first bought our house, trying to find ways to better insulate this, weatherstrip that...

I have eclipse brand thermal curtains. I bought mine a few years ago and boy have they helped. I close them at night and keep them open in the afternoon, to let the warming sun in. I have levolor brand thermal shades on every window facing west on our house, to help cut the summer sun baking our house all afternoon. That seems to help in the winter as well, even if it's just a barrier to cold. We install small bubble wrap in every window we don't need to see out of in the cold weather. Seriously, it really helps. We have double hung windows, from '95, and they are just awful. Spray a little water on the window and place bubble wrap (bubble side to the window) and bam, you have an instant layer of insulation on those freezing cold windows! This is our first year trying out the Mortite brand caulking rope. It's sort of like clay, and I stuffed it into the edges of all of our downstairs windows, where the windows meet the frame. I have aluminum windows, and every one is crooked. Thank you lovely builders. Since I don't have $20,000 to replace the 26 windows in our home, I instead seal them shut through the cold weather. It works for us! I will say I put the Mortite in and the bubble wrap up yesterday, and felt a huge difference coming downstairs this morning. Yesterday I froze, today it's pretty nice, and the temperature has been 36 to 37 both mornings! I feel victorious ;)

Last year we replaced our patio doors with sliding glass doors, and that made all the difference in the world to our temperatures downstairs. The patio doors were old, crooked, and leaked terribly. $600 later our sliders are more air tight than we could have dreamed of! We also put in new weather stripping on the two exterior doors, and put in new sweeps on the bottom. The front door is so crooked (frame as well) that until we can replace it I keep it locked tight all winter and hang a quilt over the entire frame. It's ghetto but helps. We put in a storm door, it helps a little, but cold still pours in over the top, side and bottom of the door. Again, awesome builders!

We have gone through the entire house using Great Stuff and sealed all the gaps around pipes, vents, etc. coming in from the outside. Last year we also realized there was cold air POURING in under our mopboards on every exterior wall. So I got sick of freezing cold feet and pulled the rugs back a little, sprayed Great Stuff under the mopboards to seal it tight, and put the rugs back when it dried. I had to cut the excess off, and if you look hard it does look trashy, but I tell you what my feet stay warm. Why the heck would the walls leak cold air under the mopboards?!!

Hopefully I have inspired someone to stay a little warmer this year, maybe save a few dollars on their heating bills. Our big project we are trying to get to before the new year is insulating our eaves. Our bonus room is over our garage, and has slanted ceilings. Some idiot created little "cubbies" of sorts where the ceilings got too low, and never insulated the cubbies. At all. So the walls of the room are uninsulated, and part of the ceiling is uninsulated. It's about 40 outside right now, and I guarantee that room isn't warmer than 50 right now. We might as well leave a window open in there, it has the same effect! So we bought two rolls of insulation, and plan to install it this month. I really hope we have time to get it done!!!

Oct 31, 2011

Halloween is just about over...

and now it's time to start the Thanksgiving projects! Does anyone else feel like the world of retail skipped Halloween and Thanksgiving? I am making a point of teaching my kids EVERY YEAR what Thanksgiving is supposed to be about, and how much we have to be thankful for. It was frustrating to see all the Halloween merchandise on 50% off clearance the first week of October... to make room for Christmas ornaments?! I had a $10 off anything coupon for Kohl's yesterday, and half of the store was on clearance (which I liked thank you), but the other half was Christmas decorations, huge toys on display, and Christmas themed clothing! What happened to giving thanks? Maybe a shirt with a turkey on it at least? A roasting pan?! I know, I must be weird! We have a bunch of projects planned for the twins, because we can learn a lesson each time we sit together and make something. I have pilgrim hats to make with them, while I explain (in three yr old speak) what pilgrims are. I have turkeys to make then I'll show them how we're eating a turkey for dinner! Wait, will they still want to eat the turkey? Hmmmmm...

Oct 21, 2011

Best Haunted House ever!!!

You have GOT to check this out - I don't personally live near it, but the photos on the flickr pages had me DYING laughing! The place is called Nightmares Fear Factory, it's in Niagara Falls. I have been to tons of haunted houses, I love them all! If you want to see some awesome pics of people while the are going through the house, google the Nightmares Fear Factory flickr site!!! A few girls do look genuinely scared, I feel bad for people like that who get talked into a haunted house. I wonder if I look like these people when I go through a haunted house - mouth all open, screaming, body all tense! Why do I like to be scared so much?! HA!

Oct 19, 2011

How to make Mario and Luigi hats

I am going to send you to an amazingly easy how to on someone else's blog, because it's so perfect! Took my mom minutes to do using scrap fleece she already had at home and my twins think she's superwoman for making them. Just awesome!!! Anyone wanting to make Mario Bros hats needs to see this!!!

*we used actual iron on letters from the craft store for the M and L on the hats. We just put a few stitches in them (no ironing!) and they have hung on through four months of play so far! The hats are surprisingly durable :)

Oct 15, 2011

I love County Fairs

Our local county fair has arrived, and we all had a blast. I love how colorful county fairs are! I couldn't stop taking pictures of all the colorful lit up rides, and all the flags on the food tents. Big Kid had a blast riding everything, and got on the Cyclops at least four times :) A good time was had by all!

Oct 14, 2011

Princess Peach Crown DIY!

Yep, I have decided what I want to dress up as for our Halloween party this year. I'm going to be Princess Peach from Mario Bros! The twins helped me decide, and find my costume. They want to be Mario and Luigi from Mario Kart, and thought I would make a great princess. How fun is that?! I hit up the local Goodwill stores and a few thrift shops before finally finding a perfect pink dress, and a crinelin (that's what it's called right? that puffy slip thing that goes under long skirts to make them poofy), total cost so far is $11.76 for the dress and $5.35 for the slip thingy. The dress is sleeveless, but I'm not a cosplayer so who cares if it's not exactly the dress Peach wears. I sure don't! The fact that the twins think it's the perfect Peach dress is enough for me :) I made the chest jewel using half of a Christmas ornament kit from Michael's, spraypainted the inside blue and hot glued it to an oval cut out of sparkly fun foam. I hung it with clear craft line as a necklace. I spray painted two ping pong balls the same blue, and put silver wire in them with a loop to hook to earrings. My mom offered to make the boys hats instead of buying baseball hats, yay! My mom ROCKS!

My Princess Peach crown, made out of fun foam!!! I just grabbed a few sheets of gold glittery fun foam, and cut out the shape of the crown. It was sticky on one side, so I stuck the top half of the foam sheet to the bottom half after I cut it out - making the crown sparkly on the inside and outside, and in the process it became very sturdy! A few hot glued jewels (bought everything at Michael's for under $6) and voila! Thing One and Two have crowns too, they were so impressed with mine they needed "prince hats". I love it!!! Super easy!!!

Oct 12, 2011

MC Hammer??!!

I let Big Kid listen to music while he does his math homework. My attitude is this: as long as his grades are fine he can have the music, but only for math homework. So he usually gets his ipod and listens to pandora. Sometimes we fight because he loves Ludacris, and most of what pandora finds is uncensored... you get the idea. Well today he was jammin out first to "Can't Touch This" (hammertime!), then he was listening to "I Like to Move It, Move It". Remember those songs? Is this my "I'm officially old" moment?! I heard my son listening to those songs and just died laughing. I can't believe he likes MC Hammer and Reel2Real! All I can think to say is wow. I knew he liked the move it song from the Madagascar movie, but where the heck did can't touch this come from?!

I'm already seeing all the skinny jeans I hated as a young teen coming back into style, and the flourescent colors coming with it. Yes, I used to tightroll my jeans, and no, I did not have the legs for it even then. I swear if Tiffany comes back I'm moving to sirius radio! Now I could get into some good ol' Max Headroom! I love Matt Frewer ;)

Oct 4, 2011

Chicken and salsa and beans, oh my!

No clue what to call this recipe, but it's all over the internet and a friend served it once to me too! We made it stovetop last night, crockpot lid broke last week :( Thought I would share the recipe since it's so darn yummy!!

*as always, if you are making this as a gluten free recipe check your ingredients to ensure gluten free status! I have brands I am very loyal to, but I still check every time I buy a new container to ensure nothing has changed on the ingredient list.

1 - 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
can black beans
small can corn
jar of your fave salsa

*if you want soup, don't drain the beans and add a little water. I personally don't make it this way because I looooove to eat this with tortilla chips and melted cheese!

Crockpot: pour in salsa, then chicken, beans and corn. Cook either on low for around 4 hours, or on high for 2-3 hours. Shred the chicken in the crockpot, it should fall apart really easily, and serve!
Stovetop: Boil chicken for 30 minutes, and shred. Pour shredded chicken along with rest of ingredients into large pot and simmer on low for half hour. Yum!!!

Sep 29, 2011


Does anyone else ever have one of these days, when you get the doe-eyed "I didn't hear you say that" response when you remind your child he has not done something you told him to do in plain simple words?


Sep 10, 2011

Udi's Gluten Free Foods Giveaway

*Thank you to all who participated, this giveaway is now closed and the winner has been notified!

I'm hosting my first giveaway!!! Udi's Gluten Free Foods has graciously offered to send one lucky reader a reusable shopping bag and three Udi's products! Check them out here to explore their awesome product line. I am personally enjoying one of their blueberry muffins this morning, heated with butter. Mmmmmmm!! I love their breads, they are a much better alternative to what I was attempting to make at home! Udi's has made eating as a celiac so much more enjoyable for me, I am eternally grateful!

If you would like to enter the giveaway, leave your info below (this is private of course!) and for two additional entries:
*leave a comment sharing your favorite Udi's product
*follow this blog and leave a comment letting us know you do so :)

I will stop accepting entries 9/17, and will email the winner!

Sep 8, 2011

Halloween is coming!!!

Yes, I am that girl - I have already started Christmas shopping too!

I love halloween, and I mean loooove it. It's absolutely my favorite holiday, and I can't even really explain why! We have a party at our house every year, kid friendly of course, and I just have an absolute blast decorating the house, putting together costumes, it's so fun! This year I'm considering being one of the princesses from Mario Bro's, since the twins want to be Mario and Luigi. I found them overalls at a consignment sale, and just have to get the shirts and hats now. We're going to start hopping consignment sales for a princess dress, and possibly a suit to use to make Big Kid into Dr. Who...

I just ordered my free jello brain mold online, thanks hip2save! Excellent timing, I have been going through my halloween recipes (in my total lack of spare time!) and have started a big ziploc bag full of recipes I want to make for our party. I always tell people they are welcome to bring a dish if they want, but not everyone cooks - I usually make things like chili with breadstick bones, putred punch with floating eyeballs, once we made meatloaf rats (they were yummy but ewwy looking!), chicken cordon bleu mummies, I have so much fun!!! I have been ordering invitations all year whenever an online card company offers a free card - I have at least ten from shutterfly alone! I can't help it, I love being thrifty - it's what makes our family budget work!

Our budget has been so tight lately my mom felt bad for me (total lack of gluten free food AT ALL in the house) so she drove up last night and brought me Udi's bread, cookies and hamburger buns (OMG!!!), and various brands of gf cookies, granola (oat free of course) and cereal. My mom is so awesome!!!

Sep 4, 2011


Our twins love geotrax sets! They are the coolest trains for little kids!!! The trains are almost indestructible and the tracks are so easy to snap together. We bought timbertown railway as our first set because we found it on clearance at Target - someone had stolen a train car out of the box. As soon as we got it home we realized one train and one track set was not enough for twins! We eventually found a craigslister who had some for sale at a reasonable price (they are very expensive new in my opinion), and bought what he had. That included a few almost complete sets and some push trains. Right after that we found a bin full of geotrax and trains for sale at a second hand shop, $29! Of course I bought it, so we had enough track to make a good sized set (or two smaller ones) for the twins to play on and not fight over. We also finally had two remote control trains, yay! We go through an amazing amount of AAA batteries around our house.

Yesterday one of our freecycle friends gave us another big pile of Geotrax! We now have two more remote control trains (Aero the train is now the hottest toy in our house) as well as two buildings that the airplane tracks attach to, and two remote control planes to fly on them! We went out to dinner last night, and the planes came with us ;) She also gave us the Geotrax Grand Central Station, which made Thing Two's life complete. Who knew?! He has had the little train conductors up there loading little items into trains, putting people on and off the trains, he is having such a blast! I have never seen the twins pretend so much, they are at *such* a fun age! We happened across the Christmas in ToyTown set early spring this year on seasonal clearance for $40, we bought it and have kept it well hidden for this Christmas. WOOHOO!

Sep 2, 2011

Riding tricycles

The twins have been asking to ride their tricycles, and I thought it was time to get them some helmets. Our twins' heads are so big they couldn't fit into the 3+ helmets, or the 5+ helmets... they had one 8+ helmet that would fit them, and it was a skateboarding Cars helmet! The adult sized helmets fit them perfectly (good lord!) but the chin straps were way too long. We spent 45 minutes in Walmart trying on helmets before we finally found some that would fit well!!! I had no idea my offspring had heads THAT big!!! Big Kid tried on an adult sized bike helmet, it was too small!! I keep telling them they just have big brains...

Aug 30, 2011

Glutino makes gf bread crumbs?!!!

WHAT?!! I have tried making bread crumbs at home and end up with croutons - bad tasting ones. I just went on Glutino's website to sing my praise of The Gluten Free Pantry's All Purpose Flour (do it every few years, it's time again!) and they have BREADCRUMBS?? Ohhhhhh, how I would love to make some fried chicken... crunchy baked pork tenderloin... fried chicken... I could finally try fried green tomatoes, maybe with some fried chicken?! I have GOT to figure out how to get my hands on some of these breadcrumbs! I'm cheap because I have to be, so my last resort will be to order online (hate paying shipping for food) but if I must I must! The search starts next payday!

Aug 29, 2011


So a few weeks ago I bought two loaves of frozen Udi's bread at a local Publix, and set one on the counter to thaw. The next morning it was the stalest bread I have tasted in fifteen years! I emailed Udi's to see if I had done something wrong thawing it on the counter, and they sent me two coupons for a free Udi's item as an apology, even though it wasn't their fault! Something going on at Publix... the loaves I buy at Kroger that are room temp are amazingly tasty and fresh.

So I went to Kroger instead and planned to grab two room temp loaves, and much to my surprise there were packages of Udi's HAMBURGER BUNS on the shelf below the bread!!!! I started jumping up and down, Big Kid thought I had lost it, and grabbed a package like someone was going to come tell me I couldn't have it.

Tonight we made cheeseburgers with swiss cheese, miracle whip, lettuce, and ketchup - your classic American burger. Before you say anything, I hate tomatoes unless they are cooked into oblivion in a recipe. It's a texture thing. My first bite of my burger just sent quivers of pleasure through my body. Today is the first time I have had a burger ON A BUN since my diagnosis with celiac disease July 11th 2006. I have waited five years for that moment, and let me tell you there wasn't one bite that was disappointing! I almost forgot to make the twins' dinners it was so distractingly good. I never even ate anything else, mashed potatoes were totally ignored and I forgot I had even cooked peas in butter sauce. It was that good. I enjoyed the burger so much I was full after the last bite!!

*UPDATE! I have now eaten these buns in all sorts of ways, and wanted to share my yummy findings! I used them like english muffins (toasted with butter and jelly), toasted with tuna and cheese, grilled with runny eggs on them for breakfast, I'm telling you the possibilities are endless! Next stop, creamy chicken with biscuits ;)


Cranberry Crockpot Chicken

Last night we had such a nice dinner, I'm giving thanks to The Gluten Free Pantry's All Purpose Flour!!! We made cranberry crockpot chicken, with macaroni and cheese and a salad. For dessert we had Breakfast Apple Pie, yummmmm!!! It reminded me of family get togethers, maybe because of the cranberries? We usually only have cranberries on Thanksgiving! It was so darn good I thought I would share. This is a sweet dish, if you like savory not sweet it may not be for you.

To make the mac and cheese I just used a packet of cheese powder from a Kraft box, and used Mrs. Leeper's Corn Noodle twists. We make salad with whatever we happen to find on sale, so last night it was spinach leaves, matchstick carrots, cucumbers, iceberg lettuce and either Kraft Ranch or Catalina dressing. We are not watching calories, just gluten ;)

*as always, if you are making this as a gluten free recipe check your ingredients to ensure gluten free status! I have brands I am very loyal to, but I still check every time I buy a new container to ensure nothing has changed on the ingredient list.

Cranberry Crockpot Chicken

3 to 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts - cut into strips
3/4 C dried cranberries (I used craisins!)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
3 Tbs honey
1 C orange juice
3 Tbs flour mixed into 2 Tbs water

Place everything but flour mixture in crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours. Add flour water and check consistency. Depending on how much chicken you used you may want to cook it for another 15 minutes or so, to get the gravy like consistency. Sometimes when I use a lot of chicken I don't have to turn it back on at all, the residual heat thickens it nicely!

Aug 21, 2011

Lysol No Touch Systems

The first one I bought I used two coupons and with the sale price it was free. I was so impressed, I ran out and got another one for free. The second one broke, the company reps were jerks about replacing it, so I waited until there was another sale where I could get them for under a dollar and ended up with a total of three at home, having paid twenty four cents for all three. I have one in our downstairs bathroom and love how easy it is for all the kids to use! I have one on our kitchen sink, because it's so great when you have raw chicken all over your hands to just stick your hand under the sensor and get soap. I had the bright idea to put dishsoap in the third one we weren't using, and did so - it works perfectly!!!! Now all we do is stick the sponge under the sensor, and get the perfect amount of dishsoap every time we need it, no more squeezing too much out of the bottle. SCORE!

*Notice I have cut a hole in the top of the soap holders, because I refuse to spend $3 to $4 on a refill when I can simply refill the ones I already have. I used a box cutter. Yes, I am cheap ;)

Chex Muddy Buddies, mmmmmm

I happened across the muddy buddy recipe yesterday while poking around in my cookbook. It was stuffed in a page protector with marker on it, saying "make again". So I did! Mmmmmm is it yummy! Have you made muddy buddies lately?? I love that Chex is gluten free!!! Here's the recipe I pulled from online:

9 C Chex cereals (corn or rice will work)

1 C semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 C peanut butter
1/4 C butter
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 C powdered sugar
Pour cereal into large bowl and set aside. Combine chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter in 1 quart microwavable bowl. Microwave on high for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until smooth (stir after 1 minute). Stir in vanilla. Pour chocolate mixture over cereal and stir until all pieces are evenly coated.

Pour cereal mixture into large container (with seal) with powdered sugar. Seal securely. Shake until all pieces are well coated. Spread on wax paper to cool. Store in an airtight container. Makes 9 cups.

Play sand!!

I picked up a bag of blue crayola play sand from a freecycler, that had never been opened but was left outside and was very wet. I baked it on cookie sheets in the oven at 200 degrees until it all dried out, which was an all day affair for a 20lb bag! It was worth it, crayola play sand is just about the best out there. Yesterday we took the boys out back and let them play in the sand, with shovels, sifters and buckets we found on summer clearance sales ;) They had such a great time! It was a bit nerve wracking watching them to make sure they didn't flick sand into each other's still healing eyes, but they had such a great time it was worth it. I had completely forgotten we always had a sand table in our room when I taught pre-k! We just dunked into their little swimming pool once we were done, and all the sand came right off outside. Much better than rinsing off into our tub!

Aug 18, 2011

Does your washing machine smell musty?

Mine sure did, every time I opened my laundry closet the entire little room stunk like mildew. It was so noticeable that I pulled both the washer and dryer out, to see if water had leaked or something had died! Nope, just a huge pile of dryer sheets, lint, hangers, and a tank top I wore to paint the house a year or so ago. I poked around online and read that a few other people had the same smelly washer after a few years of use, and they suggested running two cups of white vinegar through the washer with hot water, and nothing else in it. While it went against every "be green, conserve water" vein in my body, I did it - and voila! No more smelly laundry closet! I mean that room smells wonderful!!! I do still wonder why my washer started stinking after three or four years of almost daily use... ha!

Aren't Children Amazing?

My children amaze me every day. Whether I sit there astonished at how quickly they can get over an argument, or I listen in wonder to Big Kid play the piano (after 10 lessons he went from knowing nothing to playing actual songs with two hands!), or I walk in the room and find Thing Two's favorite Mario Kart character's name spelled out in letters on the floor! My twins love letters, they can type all sorts of words but can't hold a pencil to save their lives.

I know every parent can look at their children and be amazed at who they are, what they have accomplished and what they will do in the future! I just hope every parent can slow down enough to notice that. I see so many parents shuffle children from breakfast to daycare to school to dinner to bed, I used to do that myself... it's just too important not to give your kids uninterrupted time and see who they really are, and let them know you are interested and proud!!

Aug 14, 2011

Christmas Shoe Box Donations

Did anyone participate in Operation Christmas Child last year? I did, I gave three shoe boxes full of items off of their list. I decided to see if I could put together three boxes this year with items I get for free or for under a dollar, taking advantage of sales and coupons. So far I have a box for a 10 to 14 yr old girl and a 10 to 14 yr old boy. I had one box for toddler items, but had to expand to two boxes because the first was so full! I have a toothbrush, toothpaste, washcloth, soap, crayons, stretch gloves or mittens, and floss in each box. Thanks to the recent clearance sales with back to school items and toy clearances I have been able to add some awesome puzzles, memory games, puppets, and sidewalk chalk to the younger kids' boxes, and have been able to put pencil boxes full of pens and pencils, composition notebooks, scissors, jax games, decks of cards, and various other small school supplies in the older kids' boxes! And I have kept a running tally of what I have spent on all the boxes - $3.12! My boxes are almost full, just a few more free finds and they will be ready to journey to a child for Christmas! I did have an issue trying to find a donation site nearby, but there are so many participating churches around I just asked friends until I found someone who could take them to their church :) YAY! It feels nice to know we are helping a child's Christmas be a little nicer, and we will spend less than the cost of one lunch at a fast food stop for four boxes full of presents!!!

Aug 13, 2011

I love clearance shopping

I can't stand shopping for myself, nothing ever fits or is the right price in the right size for me! However, I love clearance shopping for my boys. Big Kid is in men's sizes, which are so pricey compared to the kids section! However, I found a ton of $2 tank tops for he and hubby at Kohl's a few weeks ago, which was great both for the rest of this summer and for next summer! The twins are growing so quickly I know we have nothing for them come fall when the weather cools down, so whenever I get a coupon in the mail for a clothing store I'm all over it for them. Today we went to Kohl's armed with two $5 off $30 coupons and 20% off. We found a lot on clearance as well as a lot of Carters and Osh Kosh marked 50% off for some doorbuster sale. Spent $23 and got two zip up sweatshirts, two long sleeved thermal shirts, a Mario Kart tshirt/short pj set, and a two pack of winter Mario and Luigi pj's. Clearance is my friend! Score! OH and I got $10 Kohl's Cash for shopping today, so did my mom, so I have another $20 in Kohl's Cash for next week to spend! Double score!

Then we went to JC Penney with our sticky $10 off $25 coupon from the paper, and got the twins four Mario and Luigi tshirts (omg in a size 4, finally!) for $21. Seriously, these shirts are always at least $15 each and two of them even came with a little Luigi and Yoshi toy! BONUS! I am so pleased. I know I spent money today - $44 to be exact - but I got a lot of fall/winter clothing for the kiddos and feel I spent the money well. If I wait until it's fall and the twins have no warm clothing I will spend a lot more buying what they need! At least doing it early I can hunt down sales and use coupons as they pop up, to save in the long run.

Aug 11, 2011

A little bit goes a long way

I gave the twins each a wooden ruler, and they have measured everything they can find - Big Kid's feet, Mommy's feet, the dining room table legs and tabletop, each other's feet, arms, backs, pants, it's so funny to see!

It makes me realize how much fun (and education) can come out of one little item! They are addicted to Leap Frog Bingo right now, it's so fun to see their excitement when they play! They played the drums for the morning, and had SUCH a great time. Who knew they were little drummers! Thing One asked where the microphone was, guess I need to look for one of those next ;)

Aug 10, 2011

Mini M&M cookies gluten free!

We made our good ol' chocolate chip cookies last night, but added mini m&m candies with the chocolate chips, so yummy! It makes me happy to be able to make yummy, soft cookies that look like the ones in the bakery at the store - gluten free! Man are they good too, woohoo!

Mini M&M Cookies
*as always, if you are making this as a gluten free recipe check your ingredients to ensure gluten free status! I have brands I am very loyal to, but I still check every time I buy a new container to ensure nothing has changed on the ingredient list.

3/4 C butter flavored crisco
1 1/2 C brown sugar
2 Tbs milk
1 Tbs vanilla extract
1 egg
1 3/4 C Gluten Free Pantry All Purpose Flour (never tried anything else once I realized how great this flour was)
3/4 tsp baking soda
now comes the fun - you can add a cup of mini m&m's and mini chocolate chips, or you can just add chocolate chips - you can try white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts (a personal favorite!), or any other mixture of add ins you desire! This cookie recipe is so versatile!

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix together crisco, sugar, milk and vanilla until blended. Add egg, mix again. Add flour and soda and mix well. Stir your add ins into the mixture.

Drop by spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet, maybe 2 to 3 inches apart (they will spread!). Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, for me it depends on the time of year for bake time. Weird, right? Sometimes I bake them for 13 to 15 minutes, to make them good and crispy. Other times 8 minutes is all they need to be soft and chewy, depends on what I'm in the mood for. You can tell they are done when the entire cookie looks "set" - if they are not done the cookies will look raw in the middle still!

Aug 7, 2011

Peanut Butter Pancakes Gluten Free Style!!

Pawpaw got hubby an awesome griddle a few weeks ago, and the package came with a recipe for peanut butter pancakes with cinnamon glazed bananas. I didn't have the bananas but had everything else, so we tried the pancakes this morning and WOW were they awesome! I just had to share it - with credit given to Nordic Ware of course ;)

Peanut Butter Pancakes with Cinnamon Glazed Bananas
*as always, if you are making this as a gluten free recipe check your ingredients to ensure gluten free status! I have brands I am very loyal to, but I still check every time I buy a new container to ensure nothing has changed on the ingredient list.

1 1/2C gluten free all purpose flour
1/4 C brown sugar
2 Tbs sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/4C milk
1/3C peanut butter (I always use honey roasted pb in recipes, yum!)
1 Tbs veggie oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
Glazed Bananas:
1/4C sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
4 firm ripe bananas, sliced
2 Tbs butter
1C maple syrup
Combine milk, peanut butter, veggie oil, vanilla and eggs in large bowl or mixer. Add flour, sugar, and b. powder and stir until smooth. Heat griddle and grease with butter. Pour batter by quarter cupfuls onto griddle. Turn pancakes when tops are covered with bubbles and edges look cooked. Makes about 12 pancakes.

In a medium bowl, stir together sugar and cinnamon. Gently toss sliced bananas in cinnamon sugar. Heat 1 Tbs butter in heavy skillet over med high heat until frothy, then add half of the banana slices in a single layer. Cook until golden, maybe 1 minute per side. Remove from heat and add half of the remaining syrup - spoon onto pancakes. Repeat with remaining bananas and syrup.

YUUUUUM! Ours were just the pancakes with plain ol' aunt jemima syrup on them, and they were just awesome! Even Thing One liked them!!!

Glutened AGAIN but I figured it out!!!

I drank a coke every time I got sick, last night it was the ONLY thing I had eaten or drank before getting the stomach pains followed by the awful half the night diarrhea. Yep, it's coke. They claim that most of their products are gluten free, but only to 200 parts per million. Um, that's not gluten free at all!!! So no more coke for me, and to all you celiacs beware - you are still hurting yourself drinking coke :( DARN!!! It must be something in an ingredient that changed, because six months ago I was not getting sick from drinking the occasional coke, and I get sick from the teeniest amount of gluten. Maybe it's the caramel coloring?

I found this very interesting article on a new site (new to me) on gluten free information - http://www.glutenfreeclub.com/Article.aspx?nid=806 - and it helped me to better understand what was going on. I even went to the Coca Cola website and couldn't find anything!!! I have GOT to stop believing something is gluten free simply because the company claims it is. When will the FDA step in here?!!!!

*I apologize, the tool that turns things into links on my blog is not working. You'll actually have to cut and paste the article link yourself :(

Aug 4, 2011

FDA regulation open for comments

If you have something to say to the FDA about regulating the labeling of gluten free foods, head over to:


Sorry, the link thingy won't work on my blog editing for some reason!

Back to normal

You ever have one of those months where you just keep holding out for when things go "back to normal"? That is what we are doing. The twins are pretty much back to normal, they are still a tad spoiled from being held so much during those first few days after surgery, but are fine. Next week we finally get back to five days of school a week, we had a deal for four day weekends through summer. Glad to have that over with, it's hard to accomplish much in a three day week! We did finish watching Gandhi, that movie with Ben Kingsley. It was excellent and really changed Big Kid's opinion about both Gandhi and India in general! Nice to have a visual like that sometimes :)

We are taking our first field trip of seventh grade, to a history museum, to start the year off right. I'm crossing my fingers that the twins do well, the last time we went to a museum it was an art museum and that backfired in my face. The twins were scared of the paintings on the wall, and we ended up in the little kids' room all day while Big Kid toured the museum! We happened across a website with field trip ideas for our area, and are so happy to have found it! We live near so many museums and educational centers, and had no idea! I am trying to make a tentative plan to visit some of them over the next few months. Yay!

I am just ready for life to swing back into the routine I am happy in - school five days a week, twins happy and learning, Big Kid happy and learning, and hubby happy with work! It'll come together soon, I know it will. In the meantime I'll wipe crusty eyes, put up with video games, and tackle the last of the little fixes I can accomplish on our house!

Jul 28, 2011

Surgery a success!

The twins had their surgery today, and the doctor said both were textbook surgeries - went extremely well and should yield the results we are looking for! It was so cute seeing them in the little hospital gowns!! I can't wait until the boys feel better. It was such a surreal experience today, lots and lots of waiting and lots of comforting the boys. The whites of their eyes in the corners are definitely very red, but overall they look ok! Thing Two won't open his eyes, has slept all afternoon and is already in bed - Thing One is still trying to convince us he's fine and to let him play Mario Kart Wii!! I know they are both exhausted and I am guessing since it's so quiet up there they are both asleep now. Phew, this day is finally over! I still don't know how to feel about it all, seeing your kids go through this is such an experience. Just seeing my little boy put under with the gas mask brought tears to my eyes, I couldn't help it.

Jul 26, 2011

Sunburned eyes?

I took Big Kid to an amusement park over the weekend, and since then both of us have been complaining about dry eyes, our eyes are a bit red, and he has mentioned feeling like something is in his eyes on and off. I just looked up "sunburnt eyes" and got that exact definition - bloodshot eyes and the feeling of "foreign objects" in eyes. Great. It's been three days, will it ever end? I'm tired of feeling like I look like a drug addict and my eyes are sore!!! I'm using visine but it doesn't help, I'm going to move to the blink lubricating drops. Maybe that'll soothe them. Problem is I hate wearing glasses all the time, I want my contacts :( Anyone have any remedies?

Jul 23, 2011

How to clean sterling silver at home

Yesterday I picked up some really nice silver serving platters from a freecycler, who funny enough turned out to be Big Kid's chess teacher from his public school days! Anyway - the silver was extremely tarnished, and I didn't have any silver polish. I read an article online that mentioned the chemical reaction between boiling water, aluminum foil, salt and baking soda. I took an aluminum roasting pan and poured boiling water in it with the salt and soda, and put the first small piece of silver in it. It didn't look like anything was happening for the first two minutes, then suddenly all of the tarnish disappeared right before my eyes!!! Seriously, it's awesome to watch. So I put all the pieces in one at a time, and they all came out almost completely free of any tarnish! A few spots I had to rub off with a clean cloth, but I was just floored with the results. I'll do my best to post the before and after photos properly, I have a hard time getting two photos on one post :)

Jul 22, 2011

Preschool is so fun!

We officially started preschool at home with the twins, and it has been really fun. As a parent I had already given them some playdoh, let them paint a few times, and we of course read every day - but having a theme for the month, and getting into the preschool attitude has really got me going on a lot! I was a pre-k teacher for a few years, and have all of my old lesson plans and a number of the books. I have been given/freecycled a ton more preschool items, we are ready to go! I decided to go with a theme for each month, and loosely follow one of my old pre-k curriculums. I make a one page lesson plan for the month, and list books I want to read with them, projects to do for art and for the letters and numbers of the month, and what skill we want to focus on for each month. Since they aren't school aged yet I don't have to report to the state so I'm not keeping track of times, etc. we'll have years and years of that ahead of us!

This month we have started cutting with scissors, and have painted with brushes and hands so far. They love playdoh (seriously, at least an hour a day of playdoh time!) and have loved almost every book we have read, their favorite being The Very Greedy Bee. Thing Two got up and walked away after a few pages of Where the Wild Things Are, he really didn't like the book. That's a first for me, maybe he didn't like the monsters! I am just so excited to see the boys learning and laughing so much, and am so happy we decided to start school now. We have a little bulletin board we use every morning, and pin up what month it is, day of the week, weather, and their names. They love it! We also have their behavior charts up there, which they are counting stickers on constantly. I haven't decided on a reward yet... have to soon!

Jul 20, 2011

Sick from gluten

I "glutened" myself twice over the past few weeks, and still am unsure exactly how. I get sick from the tiniest crumb of gluten, so it's hard to trace where it came from. I sit wondering, did I kiss one of the twins after they ate a cheese it? Did I not clean the table or counters well enough? Is it the potholders I used? In the end I never really figure out what made me sick, and it took a week the first time (this month) and at least a week and a half the second time to get over. I have glutened myself in the past, but certainly not often and not twice in one month!

I am one of those celiacs who get sick off any gluten at all - Amy's brand gluten free products make me sick sometimes so I have stopped eating them. And I know when I'm sick from gluten, it's a special sick that only comes from eating gluten. So all these new fad products that slap "Gluten Free!" on their box aren't really completely gluten free!!! Makes me sick... literally and figuratively. When I eat any gluten at all I am sick for about two hours after the crumb, all night if we use the wrong pancake mix by mistake. After that I sort of go numb in the abdomen area, to forget the pain. Every time I eat it will hurt for an hour or so, just a general feeling of malaise. And I always feel full for the first few days after eating gluten, I can't figure out if that's physical or mental! Oh and just for fun I usually break out with a few rockin pimples, I'm guessing from the stress.

So to anyone else who suffers through the severe sensitivity I have developed, you are not alone. I can't decide which is worse - to get sick from even a microscopic crumb of bread or to not know you aren't completely gluten free and continue to hurt your insides...

Jul 14, 2011

Bliss, in a 13x9 pan

I bought the box of gluten free Rice Krispies, came home and after doing my usual six million chores I made a batch of rice krispies treats and ate three before I could stop myself. What a great treat - I have been yearning for this moment for years!!

Now I'm crossing my fingers that Kellogg's will come out with gluten free Corn Flakes - then not only could I have GOOD corn flakes with sugar sprinkled on them again (gosh I miss those, never thought I would say that!) I could also make holly cookies that I CAN EAT again at Christmastime!!! Hint hint Kellogg's!

Gluten Free Rice Krispies??!!!

How did I miss this?? Are they new? I was shopping at the store today and walked right past a box of Gluten Free Rice Krispies... and almost had a heart attack. I had quite a love affair with rice krispies treats before going gluten free, and the thought of eating one again just made me warm all over.

Jul 10, 2011

Gluten Free PF Chang's - for FREE!!

A few days ago PF Chang offered a coupon for one order of complimentary lettuce wraps with any purchase on facebook. I happened to be online as they released the coupon, and I got one!!! We didn't feel like cooking tonight so we ran over to PF Chang's and picked up our free lettuce wraps (gluten free of course) and paid $6 for a huge container of egg drop soup (always gluten free there). It was SOOOO tasty, I love their food!! We used to go eat there, throw down $80 and eat until we almost burst... now not only can we not afford that but I don't think the twins would last through us eating that much ;) It was still amazing food, omg yum. THANK YOU PF CHANG'S!

Jul 7, 2011

Very moving...

click this link

I follow this site for coupons and deal finds, but what she is doing for the tornado victims just leaves me speechless.

Jul 4, 2011

ever wonder...

I remember listening to women around me talk when I was a child - while I was sitting in the hair salon while my mom's dye sat, or in line at the grocery store, places like that. I would listen to the "talk" around me, and sometimes I would hear these women gossip about how certain hairsprays could make your hair fall out, or that cell phones were going to kill everyone, or that video games would bring the end of civilization. I really did hear all of those at one point or another, sometimes over and over again!! I would sit there wondering where the heck these women heard these tall tales and why they believed them enough to warn others about them!!!

Well, today I got my answer. My mom brings over magazines from time to time for me to read through when she's done with them - I like Martha Stewart's Living especially around holidays. Lots of great ideas. Today I read the Health she brought, and it actually had an entire article on 11 things you should only buy organic, and listed the "scary" reasons why. Before I go any further let me state that I have tested buying organic options and it tripled my grocery bill. Tripled. The article stated that milk is bad for you because it can account for 60 to 70 percent of the estrogens we consume. Do these people not understand we are drinking "breastmilk" from a lactating cow - c'mon, how could it NOT contain hormones?!!! The article went on to say BPA is hiding everywhere and soaking into our food - in the lining of cans, in tupperware, water bottles. So we're not supposed to buy canned tomatoes now because the BPA in the lining can kill us. Thanks. One part of the article actually quotes part of a book stating that we can give our children leukemia using yard pesticides then walking it inside! It states we could be losing our memories because of chemicals in our mattresses, our all purpose cleaners are going to make our boys sterile, and eating beef is going to give us breast cancer because of the hormones used to treat the cow. The best one was that our pots and pans emit toxic gasses that are giving us "allergy like symptoms".

So to sum the article up, I'm going to get breast cancer from eating burgers, get allergy symptoms from the pan I cooked the burgers with, and zero my husband's sperm count with the reheated corn I stored in tupperware and the bottle of water I gave him with dinner. I will further raise my chances of getting breast cancer by using canned tomatoes in our rice and drinking a glass of milk with dinner. I'll make my boys sterile cleaning up the kitchen after we eat. This after my husband treats the ants out back, giving our children leukemia. But it won't bother me because my mattress will erase it all from my memory while I sleep.

I started laughing out loud when I read that our mattresses could be causing memory loss. Where the h*ll do these women get those idiotic ideas? FROM THE MAGAZINES THEY READ!! No wonder women have to constantly fight the stereotype of men being the smarter sex!!

Jun 28, 2011

Eye Surgery for the twins

Our twins have esotropia, which means their eyes cross even with the correct prescription glasses on. The specialist we see has spoken with us about surgery to correct the crossing, and we have agreed it's time to go ahead with it. We meet the surgeon next week. I am of course a bit nervous at the thought of my little boys getting surgery, especially on their eyes, but I have great confidence in our doctors and trust their ability. It has been hard to watch our three year olds switch from the left eye to the right eye back to the left eye, trying to focus on something continuously. I can't watch them while they watch movies, it makes my eyes hurt for them! I can't wait until they see like everyone else does :)

Jun 27, 2011

Comic Book Fans

Yes, Big Kid is a comic book fan. Nahnah has a friend who a few Christmases ago sent Big Kid a shoe box full of comics, and he has been hooked ever since. Every year on free comic book day we go to a few area comic book stores, and every year they give away free posters - we always grab them! It's fun to put them in a frame and decorate Big Kid's playroom with them, I think he has around ten to fifteen posters now. Some are huge, some are 8x10 - they are just really fun and make his playroom look so "boyish". The green was not my idea by the way, that was our compromise on him wanting camo walls and me saying not a chance. Looking at it now I may have been better off going with camo, the green is really wearing on me!! We have two rooms this color, I'm thinking of replacing it with a nice light aqua color... someday ;)

Stormy Sky

I love summer storms down south... when they aren't killing our trees! Our 'hood lost at least fifteen trees last storm, and it lasted three minutes tops. Amazing how mother nature has been reminding us southerners ALL SUMMER how strong she is! I couldn't believe this sky, it was rolling like a bunch of rolling pins all lined up. Just stunning. This was the view standing on my front step!

Jun 24, 2011

What to call this recipe...

A few nights ago we made the most amazing meal, partly using a Publix Aprons recipe and partly going with what we thought would taste good. The result was so awesome it still wowed us as leftover lunch! I don't really know what to call it yet though, any suggestions?

*as always, if you are making this as a gluten free recipe check your ingredients to ensure gluten free status! I have brands I am very loyal to, but I still check every time I buy a new container to ensure nothing has changed on the ingredient list.

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
olive oil
1 Tbs italian seasoning
1 Tbs parsley
1/2 C water
dash salt and pepper
1/2 pkg cream cheese
1 can diced tomatoes (I always use the italian diced to add more flavor)
squash, or any other veggie you think would be good! (our squash had already been grilled but still worked nicely)

We sprinkled kosher salt and a bit of pepper onto the meat and cooked it in a little olive oil in a skillet. We cooked it completely, and kept it in there until it got a little brown. We added the water, seasoning and parsley and simmered it covered for five minutes. We removed the chicken and threw in the remaining ingredients and simmered it just until the cheese had completely melted and it was a nice creamy pink sauce. We poured the tomato sauce over white steamed rice, then put the cut up chicken on top. It was DIVINE!!!

Jun 18, 2011

Freecycle is just amazing!!

I posted a wanted message on freecycle for pre-k items, to see if anyone had something that might work in a preschool room I am setting up for the boys. A very nice woman gave us boxes and boxes of books, wooden train tracks, movies and a few games. I was floored, it was around 6 or 7 boxes!! I cleaned it all and filed away the books and movies we wanted, and cleaned all the wooden train tracks and the few Thomas trains. I decided I only wanted to keep the trains and tracks if I could find a train table for free, since we already have geotrax and we love them. So I posted a wanted message on freecycle for a train table, and got a response within minutes! I was shocked! This morning I picked up an imaginarium multicolored train table that after cleaning and a quick $5 fix is in new condition. We have given tons and tons of toys, furniture, all sorts of items on freecycle, and I'm of the opinion that what goes around comes around!!! YAY!

Our preschool room is coming along very nicely, the boys are only three but are asking for "school papers" like Big Kid does. They colored in the letter C Thursday and Friday drew C's on paper by themselves! I guess they really are ready!! I used to teach pre-k with a good friend, and have all our lesson plans, projects, clifford readers, all sorts of awesome stuff. Now I have the room to go with it!! WOOHOO!