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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!

Nov 22, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake

I'm trying a new twist to an old favorite - we love cheesecake at our house, and pumpkin pie is the only dessert we pine for when whispers of Thanksgiving dinner start. Here's what we're making this year!

Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake

2/3 C Gluten Free Pantry All Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs cold butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Either in a mixer with a whisk attachment or by hand, whisk together the ingredients until they look like coarse sand. Even in my kitchenaid mixer, I had to finish this task with a hand whisk. Press into the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan. Bake 10 minutes, and allow to cool completely.

2 8oz pkg cream cheese, softened
3/4 C sugar
1 Tbs vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 C canned pumpkin
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Using either a mixer or by hand, combine cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Add in eggs, one at a time, mixing after each egg. Add pumpkin and spices into the mixture, and blend until well mixed. Pour into the prepared springform pan.

Bake for 55 minutes at 350 degrees, adding 10 minutes at a time if the pie isn't set yet. The middle should puff up as it bakes, then will lay back down. Filling should be "set", meaning the cheesecake won't be really jiggly if you shake it a little.

To remove from the springform pan, run a knife around the edge of the pie BEFORE you open the lock on the side, and please wait until the pie cools before you take the sides off. It will make a huge difference, I promise :)

I topped my pie with cool whip and a dusting of nutmeg, you could get creative and make it pretty! Ours didn't last five minutes so we didn't mind the presentation.

Nov 7, 2012

Gluten Free Banana Streusel Muffins

I had too many bananas, and 6 over-ripened. I found this recipe and was stunned at how tasty the muffins were! I of course bent the recipe to my own gluten free wants, here's what I did :)

Banana Streusel Muffins
1 1/2 C Gluten Free Pantry All Purpose Flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3 over ripe bananas
3/4 C sugar
1 egg
1/3 C butter, melted
1/2 C brown sugar

1/8 C Gluten Free Pantry All Purpose Flour
dash of cinnamon
1 Tbs butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease muffin tin or use paper liners.

I always use my kitchen aid mixer, but you can do this by hand as well! Mix together bananas, sugar, egg, and butter. Add flour, baking soda, and baking powder (I pile these together into one large measuring cup and mix them a little before adding to the wet ingredients).

Pour into muffin cups or tin.

Combine topping ingredients and mix until crumbly and well blended. Sprinkle generously over muffin cups and lightly press into the muffin batter.

Bake for 20 minutes or so, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

*I think you could also make this as a cake, but I would use a greased 8 or 9 inch pan and bake it at 350 degrees, maybe for 30 to 40 minutes, using the toothpick test again. I haven't tried making it into a cake yet, so don't quote me!!

Celiac Disease and dishwashers

I was diagnosed with celiac disease 6 years ago, Big Kid was diagnosed 5 months ago. I still hover trying to teach him about gluten safety, I can't help it. About a month ago he started getting sick here and there, obviously glutened. I started to go nuts wondering if he was eating at a table after someone else did and didn't wipe their crumbs, if he made his sandwich on a dirty counter, really going insane because who wants their kids' guts ripped up by gluten?! One day I was emptying the clean dishwasher and noticed one of the forks had a bit of food stuck to it... and it suddenly hit me. What if our 3yr old dishwasher wasn't doing it's job already? I stopped using it completely and bam, Big Kid stopped getting sick. He hasn't had a single issue since I started hand washing our dishes!

So I'm thinking my pretty, all black, pricey dishwasher will be freecycled soon and I will install a set of drawers in it's place. So far hand washing isn't that bad, we even survived washing by hand after a good sized Halloween party! I fill one side of the sink with super hot, soapy water and soak and wash there, then put the washed dishes in the other side to rinse. I'm hoping I'm not being too wasteful with water!

The only thing I really miss about the dishwasher is how nicely it cleaned all the sippy cup valves and lids... I have yet to find the perfect brush to get into all the crevices of those darn lids!! Might be time to switch to an easier to clean brand (sorry playtex). I guess once I uninstall the dishwasher I just keep the water turned off on the pipe, since there is only a flexpipe coming out from under my sink to feed the dishwasher. Have to read up on that part.

Oct 27, 2012

Tim Burton's Red Queen DIY costume

My mom is helping me with the sewing, and we're about half done with the Red Queen Costume! I'll keep updating with photos as we complete more. I'm so excited! So far we have made the triangle in the front (since I am so not wearing a corset), and have attached the beads and roses. We used stiff interfacing and gold fabric, and my mom sewed maroon ribbon stripes down the front. We found a ribbon with pearly decorations hanging from it at Joann's, along with some gold ribbon to tie around my arms. Mom's going to make puffy sleeve tops, and she's in the process of making the gold outer skirt and the red underskirt. We're going to gather the skirts (separately of course) and put each on a black waistband, with an elastic loop and a button. That way it's adjustable. I'm using gold fabric and fusible web to cut out the hearts, my mom knows how to do everything! She showed me how to put a silicon ironing mat under the fusible webbing so I could iron on just the gold, then iron the gold hearts once cut onto the black backing, then cut those hearts out. Easy peasy! What we have so far:

For the black top I found a (still had tags) dress at Goodwill that had black lace sleeves and black lace across the top of the dress, and we plan to cut the bottom of the dress off, possibly using part of it to roll netting or stuffing into so the skirt stands out around my waist. We also shopped Goodwills for the gold fabric (shower curtain) and red fabric (tablecloth). I already had a crinelin from last year's Goodwill finds for my princess peach costume, perfect! I found the leggings on leg avenue's website, perfect fit. I watched this how to online for the hair and this for the makeup! Should be interesting, between back combing my hair for the first time and applying makeup (which I never do either), I'll be busy for hours just on my BLOODY BIG HEAD! I'll post pictures of the finished product. * I had an allergic reaction to some of the makeup (and glue for my eyebrows), this was the best I got while staying comfortable!

Oct 11, 2012

I love going to county fairs! The kids have so much fun and the colors are just amazing, both during the day and at night! Of course when you go at night you have to put up with all the local teens making out in every line, but if you can ignore that it's such a fun adventure :) 

Oct 8, 2012

DIY Spider Wreath

This was by far and away one of the easiest projects I have done for Halloween! I grabbed a grapevine wreath for $4.99 at Michael's and spraypainted it Krylon primer black. I bought three snakes from Walmart, used floral wire and wrapped them onto the wreath, painted them black with the same paint. It looks AWESOME!!! I might add more snakes to it, if I can find smaller ones. Make it look more "icky" :)

The spiders on the door are little clip on plastic ones I found for 20 for a buck, and I hot glued them to little cut up pieces of a magnet off of a used up to-do list. Yes, I'm cheap but I have SO MUCH FUN!!

Sep 17, 2012

Halloween is just around the corner!

This is when my inner geek truly comes out. I love Halloween!! I have pulled all the boxes of decorations and such out already, taken inventory and have a list in my purse of "wants" and "needs" if I see things on sale. I have decided I'm going to be the Red Queen from Tim Burton's Alice In Wonderland movie. I now have short red hair (thank you two awful haircuts for forcing me to go so short), but I think with some curlers and teasing and a lot of hairspray I can make it a heart! We hit Goodwill over the weekend and got a black dress with lace sleeves and a vneck, a red tablecloth for the underskirt, a gold tapestry shower curtain for the outer skirt, and two white sheets to use for draping over the furniture (we're going to make it look like an abandoned house sort of). I'm so excited!! I'm already planning a menu for our party (we have a HUGE party every year), this year I'm adding edible bandaids, jello worms, and shrunken heads to the menu. I CAN'T WAIT! And no, I can't sew, my mother has offered to help me make the costume. And I quote "this'll be fun and we can do it easily". She's a miracle worker with fabric! I'll post pictures of our progress :P

Sep 5, 2012

Gluten Free recipes... what?

Today I tried being lazy - I have a pound of ground beef in the fridge and not a clue of what to do with it. I thought I would make meatballs, but don't have a good crockpot recipe. I googled and googled, read and re-read recipes. Shot down all the ones that require bread crumbs, because I don't keep gluten free bread crumbs on hand. They're icky. Then I shot down all the ones that call for a bag of frozen meatballs, gross! I got desperate and googled "gluten free meatballs" and suddenly everything had mushrooms, veal, pesto, cornmeal, cranberries, instant potato flakes (I don't even know what those are), cereal, rice, even crackers in the recipes. Um, what happened to good ol' meatballs? And I'm not putting crackers in my meatballs - gluten free crackers are so awful I won't eat them plain - what makes anyone think I want to eat them stuffed into meat?

I have my new assignment, and will post my results good or bad. I'm making spaghetti and meatballs in my crockpot today!!!!

Aug 28, 2012

New Pluot!

Every time we go grocery shopping, I try to buy whatever fruit is in season to keep a variety in our fruit diet. This month it's been pluot season, and oh my are they tasty! They are a cross between apricots and plums, and there are many varieties. I have no clue what variety this is but I was stunned when I cut it open! The outside is tan and spotty, but the inside is a vibrant red! And wow is it tasty :) I look forward to eating pluots every summer, waiting for them to show up in local shops! I'm thinking a pluot tart recipe is going to be coming soon...

Aug 27, 2012

Today's American History class

We are reading William Bennett's America: The Last Best Hope in our American History class. Today we read the introduction to the book and the first two chapters. I was both amazed at how much it moves you as you read, and that my son remembers so much of what I taught him two years ago, when South America was being explored by the Spaniards. The book's wording really makes learning about history engaging for a student who normally could care less about history in general!

One thing that specifically touched us was this excerpt, quoted from Ronald Reagan's farewell speech:

Finally, there is a great tradition of warnings in Presidential farewells, and I've got one that's been on my mind for some time. But oddly enough, it starts with one of the things I'm proudest of in the past 8 years: the resurgence of national pride that I called the new patriotism. This national feeling is good, but it won't count for much, and it won't last unless it's grounded in thoughtfulness and knowledge.

An informed patriotism is what we want. And are we doing a good enough job teaching our children what America is and what she represents in the long history of the world? Those of us who are over 35 or so years of age grew up in a different America. We were taught, very directly, what it means to be an American. And we absorbed, almost in the air, a love of country and an appreciation of its institutions. If you didn't get these things from your family, you got them from the neighborhood, from the father down the street who fought in Korea or the family who lost someone at Anzio. Or you could get a sense of patriotism from school. And if all else failed, you could get a sense of patriotism from the popular culture. The movies celebrated democratic values and implicitly reinforced the idea that America was special. TV was like that, too, through the mid-sixties.

But now, we're about to enter the nineties, and some things have changed. Younger parents aren't sure that an unambivalent appreciation of America is the right thing to teach modern children. And as for those who create the popular culture, well-grounded patriotism is no longer the style. Our spirit is back, but we haven't reinstitutionalized it. We've got to do a better job of getting across that America is freedom--freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of enterprise. And freedom is special and rare. It's fragile; it needs [protection].

So, we've got to teach history based not on what's in fashion but what's important--why the Pilgrims came here, who Jimmy Doolittle was, and what those 30 seconds over Tokyo meant. You know, 4 years ago on the 40th anniversary of D-Day, I read a letter from a young woman writing to her late father, who'd fought on Omaha Beach. Her name was Lisa Zanatta Henn, and she said, "We will always remember, we will never forget what the boys of Normandy did." Well, let's help her keep her word. If we forget what we did, we won't know who we are. I'm warning of an eradication of the American memory that could result, ultimately, in an erosion of the American spirit. Let's start with some basics: more attention to American history and a greater emphasis on civic ritual.

And let me offer lesson number one about America: All great change in America begins at the dinner table. So, tomorrow night in the kitchen, I hope the talking begins. And children, if your parents haven't been teaching you what it means to be an American, let 'em know and nail 'em on it. That would be a very American thing to do.

Aug 26, 2012

Banana Shake - great for kids!

I first want to say these are naturally gluten free, most fruits don't have any gluten in them!

I have been making these shakes for my kiddos in the mornings, and I always polish off whatever's left in the blender! This makes more of a flavored milk than a shake consistency, which is perfect for my fussy-about-food twins. I just give them a sippy cup filled with the banana shake instead of their morning milk, and they chug it right down. The best part is it's full of good nutrients like protein! They are definitely in a weird food stage! They went through a period of not eating any meat, and now are against all fruits except apples and bananas. Ugh! At least I can hide good fruits and veggies in shakes, potatoes and mac n cheese! Yes - I'm that mom who puts sweet potatoes in my mac and cheese, and I sneak cauliflower into my mashed potatoes. Whatever works, right?!

To make the shake I throw everything into my blender until it's creamy! I use 1 banana, 1 1/2C milk,
blob in some honey (I don't know, maybe 2 to 3 Tbs), 1/2 C ice and depending on what's in season I might throw another fruit in. Today I added a little flavor grenade pluot that was too mushy to cut up and eat. Sometimes I add peaches, or some mango, but whatever you throw in don't put the skin in too - it'll change how it tastes and the consistency. That recipe will usually fill two sippy cups and give Big Kid a glass he's happy with. I do from time to time make a second batch, because I can't double this and still fit it in my blender. I have an antique blender that wasn't too great when it was new... I'll get a new one someday!!!

My favorite taste in my shakes is the honey. I bought a gallon (yes, a gallon) of honey from a local bee farm, and ohhhhh is it wonderful. I ordered the sourwood honey this time, if we ever run out I'll try the wildwood maybe! I am secretly hoping some of it crystallizes, my grampa used to spread crystallized honey on his toast when I was young and I haven't had any since he passed away. I love bees! We have a bee/butterfly garden out back, and most of my flowers up front are well loved by the bees. Bees are too beneficial to ignore!

Aug 18, 2012

High School Science

Here's where I admit I'm a total science nerd. Chemistry was my absolute favorite thing about high school! I can't WAIT to start "real science" with Big Kid! I made an amazon wish list of things I will need for 9th grade Biology, and realized I'm super excited even to start Biology. We'll be dissecting all sorts of creatures, getting a REAL microscope, making REAL slides to study... I CAN'T WAIT! See, my inner nerd is showing! I don't have the text I plan to use yet, Pearson's Biology: Exploring Life, but I have been poking around the used bookstores to see if it's available used. I feel it would be worth it even if I have to pay full price for it, everything I have read about it makes me think this is the book for us. I'm really torn about chemistry at home - I want Big Kid to experience a true chem lab for experiments, which of course I can't provide at home, but he could take chemistry at college as a senior as a dual enrolled student... or I could just give him 10th grade chem at home and do my best and he can really dive in when he's a freshman in college... lots to think about!!

Aug 9, 2012

Gluten Free Weekly Menu

People ask me all the time "What DO you eat" after I tell them I can't eat wheat, oats, barley or rye. I laugh and tell them I eat the same things I used to, just gluten free! They look at me with very strange eyes! I thought I would post a week's worth of meals at our house, just to show that we really do eat "normal" foods!! Now keep in mind I'm now feeding a 13yr old giant gluten free as well, the child eats like he's going into hibernation he's growing so quickly. I don't eat every single thing listed here, but he does!

I put all my veggies and snacks into ziploc bags to keep serving size from becoming an issue, so if I say "kettlecorn" it means a ziploc bag of one serving ;) And we drink all sorts of juices and water at our house - once in awhile we'll throw a bottle of Dr. Publix or cream soda in the mix. Our fave juice is V8 Splash, mmmmmm! I also want to note I use what is in season and what I have laying around, so this week for example you'll see lots of seasonal fruit, some of my zaycon chicken, and a bunch of tomatoes we received from a friend's garden. Our menus change weekly with the meat and fruit sales around town, and of course as the seasons change our menus change to reflect the new "in season" foods!

Day 1
Fruit bowl for breakfast, yum! Right now we have pluots of varying colors and flavors, kiwi, strawberries and blueberries, bananas and some nectarines and peaches.
Midmorning snack of carrots dipped in Kraft buttermilk ranch dressing
For lunch we made hot sandwiches using Udi's bread, miracle whip, lettuce, swiss cheese, and Boar's Head maple honey turkey. YUUUM! 
Afternoon snacks for Big Kid - kettlecorn, envirokids rice bar, bag of fresh cherries
Dinner has been in the crockpot all day - roast beef with veggies, it's a very flavorful yummy roast! Here's the recipe I use:

Crockpot Roast Beef
a few pounds of roast
2 Tbs butter
1 C water
1 Tbs worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic
1 bay leaf
1/2 onion, sliced
1 tsp sugar
1 envelope Sazon Con Azafran (found with taco makings, usually at Publix for us)
1/2 C ketchup
dash of flour (I use The Gluten Free Pantry's All Purpose Flour)
veggies - I use carrots and potatoes

Put crockpot on high, place sliced onions and butter in crockpot. Sprinkle with flour. In a medium bowl combine the water, worcestershire sauce, garlic, bay leaf, sugar, sazon and ketchup. Set aside. Once the butter melts stir until pasty, then place roast on top of onions. Pour the liquid mixture over the meat, and turn the crockpot to low. Now here's where tastes will vary - I don't like firm veggies in my stews, so I boil my cut up carrots and potatoes for a half an hour then throw them in with the meat. If the liquid won't cover them I add another cup of water. Some folks like firm veggies, I personally don't! You can cook the veggies first or just throw em in raw, your choice. Once everything is in the pot cook on low for six hours.

Big Kid will usually have some sort of ice cream or popsicles as dessert. I join him from time to time!

Day 2
Scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese for breakfast 
Midmorning snack of cauliflower with dip (few spoons of miracle whip, dash of worcestershire sauce, squirt of dijon mustard, and squirt of ketchup - until it's light peachy colored)
Lunch today is macaroni and cheese (quinoa elbow noodles and the packet of cheese from a box of velveeta shells and cheese, just wash the cheese packet off before using!)
Afternoon snacks of a kiwi, banana, and Smart Puff cheesy poofs
Dinner is Buffalo Chicken Wings with sweet potato fries - baked chicken wings with oil rubbed on the skin, then buffalo sauce is franks red hot mixed with margarine. MMMM good!

Day 3
This is our errands day so we have Envirokids cereal for breakfast
Steak and Shake provides lunch, frisco melts without the buns
Afternoon snack is the leftover mac and cheese 
Dinner turned out to be easy, tacos! We like Old El Paso's kits, everything is gf except for the soft tacos
A friend gave us tomatoes out of her garden, so we made baked tomatoes. Omg these are good! I bake them in the oven drizzled with oil, minced garlic, rosemary and oregano. 
Dessert is Big Kid raiding the snack bin - cheesy poofs and kettlecorn I think

Day 4
Breakfast was another fruit bowl, this time we found starfruit to add
We ate carrots with Kraft buttermilk ranch for a snack
Big Kid requested sandwiches for lunch, more honey ham and turkey with Udi's bread - he ate two sandwiches by himself and wanted more
For snacks we eat a bowl of Trix cereal, and have a bag of cheesy poofs
Dinner is chicken breasts with Chef Paul Prodhomme's poultry seasoning, with veggies

Day 5
Yogurt serves as breakfast for me, Big Kid had a bowl of Envirokids cereal and a banana
Snacks are plentiful today, Big Kid is hungry! He raided the snack bin a few times - envirokids rice bars, cheesy poofs, tortilla chips, and I think an apple
Lunch is more sandwiches, my child is addicted to lunchmeat!!
Snack is a fruit bowl and some cauliflower with dip
For dinner my hubby made a dish I don't get very often - sweet and sour pork with white rice! We steam the rice in a steamer, here's the pork recipe:

Sweet and Sour Pork
pork tenderloin or leftover loin (we used the ends of a big ol' loin we cut into chops)
3 Tbs cornstarch
1 egg
La Choy's Sweet and Sour sauce
oil for wok or skillet, maybe a cup and a half total

In a medium bowl stir together cornstarch and egg. Add cut up pork and stir to coat meat. Heat up a coating of oil in pan. In small batches fry meat until coating turns a golden brown, we still cut a big one open here and there to make sure the pork is white throughout. Place the cooked meat on a paper towel to remove excess oil. When all meat is cooked remove oil from the pan and return all meat to the hot pan. Add sweet and sour sauce and heat throughout. It's now ready to serve! See, it's not that hard :)

Big Kid hit the banana flavored popsicles for dessert.

Day 6
Breakfast is a fruit bowl, and cereal. Can't keep Big Kid full!
Morning snacks are cheesy poofs, toast with nutella, yogurt
Lunch today is leftover sweet and sour pork with rice
Afternoon snack for me was carrots with buttermilk ranch dressing, Big Kid ate ice cream, carrots and ranch, cheesy poofs, tortilla chips, and cherries. 
Dinner is my old reliable, teriyaki chicken. I use my sauce recipe and chicken breasts cut up, yuuum. Served over white rice with sugar snap peas, and this time I threw in some starfruit - I always say use what you have! 
Dessert was ice cream, not sure but I think I heard Big Kid in the pantry again hitting the snack bags. It never ends with a teenager.

Day 7
Breakfast today is something new - hot quinoa! I had to seriously sweeten it for Big Kid, I liked it with just a little brown sugar and raisins. I guess I want it to be oatmeal... sometimes it's all about expectations. 
Morning snacks are starfruit and strawberries, and cheesy poofs during a test (homeschooling)
Lunch today is hot sandwiches, like grilled cheese (Udi's bread) - Big Kid eats two!
Afternoon snacking is all over the place! Yogurt, nachos, popcorn, carrots, Big Kid just can't seem to eat enough lately.
Dinner tonight is undecided as of yet, I have chicken breasts thawed... might make italian chicken in the crockpot with the leftover tomatoes we still have (cut up tomatoes, oregano, basil, garlic, chicken breasts for 6 hours on low - last half hour throw in black olive slices for fun), or maybe chicken and beans dip in the crockpot (can of black beans, jar of salsa, can of corn, chicken breasts on low for 6 hours) 
Dessert is GOING to be breakfast apple pie tonight, I'm totally craving it!

Aug 1, 2012

Baking Soda and Vinegar Fun Experiment

Today the kids made "magic in a cup" as they called it! This was a really fun experiment. I had seen it many times online, and decided the twins were finally old enough to do it. Big Kid thought it was cool, but the twins were just amazed and were very disappointed when we ran out of spoons! 

I put a drop of food coloring on each spoon, then covered the spoons in baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). 

Then I partially filled little cups with water (plain H2O) or vinegar (acetic acid) and moved the cups around so we couldn't tell which was vinegar and which was water. They don't need much liquid in them, really! The boys got to pick a spoon and mix it into the liquid in the cup. Some were "magic" and others weren't :) This one here was definitely magic! The cups with water turned colors because of the food coloring, but the cups with vinegar made colored foam and erupted out of the cups. 

It's a double replacement reaction. The acetic acid reacts with the sodium bicarbonate to form carbonic acid, which is very unstable. The carbonic acid immediately comes apart into carbon dioxide and water, a decomposition reaction. The bubbles are the carbon dioxide being released! CO2 is heavier than the air so it pours out of the cup down the sides. You're left with a colorful solution of sodium acetate and water! It was fun to mix the colors when we were done too, as my four year olds figured out :)

Jul 27, 2012

Bad meat at Publix :(

Today I am so glad I bought all that chicken from Zaycon. This is the third and last time I have been burned buying meat at Publix. First time it was packs of nasty chicken breasts, brought home and every single package smelled like rotten trash. Then it was the pork spareribs fiasco. We had guests coming over for chinese spareribs. I bought a huge rack, the next morning it smelled horrible in the fridge. Brought it back, was given a second rack. Got it home and it too stunk. I threw away the meat and gave up. I wrote to publix through their website, but sadly got no response.

Jul 26, 2012

Zaycon Chicken

This is my first time buying meat in bulk. My first time ordering from Zaycon Foods, first time getting fresh chicken. I had nothing in my new chest freezer, and had no clue how to use the new foodsaver machine I bought in anticipation of the bulk chicken order from Zaycon!

So first I have to say it was super easy picking up my order. There was a refridgerated truck in the parking lot at the given address, I gave them my name and bam - they put plastic down and put the box o' chicken in my car and I was off. Did you know that fresh chicken actually has a pleasant odor to it? I have always bought my chicken from a local grocery store, and even if you use it right away - when you first open the package it has a little smell of death on it. You know what I'm talking about! The fresh chicken smelled... well, nice! I was floored. The chicken breasts you get from Zaycon are collosus and I mean HUGE. I am totally impressed with the quality of meat I received and will definitely be ordering from them again!!

It took me two and a half hours to trim and bag all the meat, but keep in mind I was a newbie to using my food saver. I put the bags of chicken on cookie sheets and in my freezer, so I could work with one bag at a time and not spoil the rest. It was awkward because I didn't find my rhythm until the last bag. I washed my hands at every turn until my hands were stinging, so I looked at it logically. I ended up trimming an entire bag, throwing away the fat (there wasn't a lot!), washing hands, and putting a breast and a half in each foodsaver bag. I figure with six of us eating that is plenty - that's how big the chicken breasts are! I went through two 10ft foodsaver rolls, but it took me awhile to get the size of the bags right. I also had to let the sealer cool off a few times - but overall I'm very pleased with the little machine I bought. I got the 2400 series, and it just rocks. Of course, I have yet to look in the freezer to make sure everything I did yesterday is still sealed... but I have high hopes!!

Overall I am extremely pleased and I saved a ton of money!! I paid $1.79lb for the boneless skinless chicken breasts, and around my parts if the chicken isn't on sale it's $4.99lb. Substantial savings for us :)

Jul 23, 2012

Gluten Free Chicken and Pineapple Kabobs

These came out super tasty - but a fair warning they need to be cooked either on a grill or on foil. They get sticky!

Teriyaki Chicken Kabobs

boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
pineapple chunks
veggies of your choice - we think peppers would be awesome, add what you think would work!
teriyaki sauce recipe

Alternate meat, veggies and pineapple on the skewers. Grill or bake until almost cooked through, and brush with teriyaki sauce. Finish cooking and pour more sauce over them to serve! Super easy and yuuuummmy!

Gluten Free Smoothies

Lately I have been into making my own smoothies at home. Most are tasty, but I have had a disaster once or twice. Most recently I bought a maradol papaya - they are huge! They aren't sweet or gooey like the payapa's I'm used to, they're firm and not sweet at all. I grabbed a mango to go with it, and blended the papaya, mango, and some ice. It was ... savory I guess? Not quite what I expected, so I added some honey. Now THAT was a money shot - they were just awesome!! I usually put fruit with vanilla frozen yogurt into the blender and so it's like a fruity milkshake - this was something new for me. Yum!

Jul 13, 2012

Gluten Free Thai dish

Yes, I officially call this "Redneck Thai". I have no clue what originally made us put hot dogs instead of chicken in, but it came out just gold. The saltiness of the dogs goes so well with the peanuty yumminess of the sauce, and the noodles are just awesome! Ok, noodles are awesome compared to other gluten free noodles available in my local stores. It's slim pickins. It's officially called Thai Peanut Noodle Kit, but once we put the dogs in it we felt completely redneck, and out came the name. No, it's not the healthiest dish in the world but seriously once you're forced into eating gluten free (thank you celiac disease) sometimes you just have to indulge. Everything can't be all fresh fruit and vegetables!! I used to totally indulge myself and eat two huge bowls of Sugar Smacks cereal, since going gluten free Redneck Thai is my two bowl indulgence. A few times a year. Someday I'll figure out how to make gluten free Sugar Smacks then it's watch out world... and my waistline!

A Big Shout Out To Udi's!

Thank you Udi's for the most wonderful thing - hot dog buns!! I now eat hamburgers and hot dogs just like everyone else does, on a bun! I just grab one from the freezer, heat it up in the microwave and it's just heaven. Heaven! I'm so glad these are available in our area, since Big Kid will now have to eat gluten free with me. He would be upset if he could never again have a burger on a bun :) Udi's you make gluten free life so much easier! We also enjoy Udi's gluten free bread loaves and chocolate muffins, omg are they amazing. WOOHOO! GO UDI'S!

The end of a long hard day of homeschooling

This is Diesel, resting after a long day of laying on our books while we homeschooled :) We have one cat who is the typical cat, he loves us but acts like a prince. Diesel is just a fool. He's more like a dog than a cat, and is completely loyal to Big Kid. He cries when Big Kid sleeps at a friend's house, and lays next to him just about every day, all day. I use Diesel as an excuse to never have to put up with owning a dog!!

Jul 12, 2012

Red Velvet and Yellow Cake Gluten Free Cupcakes

I must first admit I use Paula Deen's recipe for the red velvet cake, and just substitute The Gluten Free Pantry's All Purpose Flour when she calls for all purpose flour. I didn't make the frosting, since I was crunched for time I used Betty Crocker's whipped cream frosting. It was white and tasty, fit the bill perfectly. Yes, it's gluten free. I used my favorite go-to awesome recipe from Chef Talk - this recipe - for vanilla cake, and just added blue food coloring until it looked good and blue. The layers looked awesome when they came out of the oven, I had no idea they would color the papers too! They looked so fun frosted with red white and blue sprinkles! And as always, both cake recipes were just amazingly moist and tasty.

I personally find it really easy to pour my cake batter into disposable icing bags and just clip the tip, and squirt exactly how much batter I want into each cupcake liner. Less mess, less frustration especially when you are using bright red batter! I don't use the bags for icing, for some reason I always blow a side out when I use them for frosting. Maybe it's the way I squeeze the frosting out, or how I hold the bag in my hand. When the side pops frosting goes everywhere ... and it only has to happen a few times before you use a different bag! I am in love with my stained old Wilton white frosting bag, and now I have so many frosting tips I really should learn how to use them all!! Someday, when my children are grown I'll need something to do to keep me occupied. I'll learn how to use frosting tips then :)

Jul 5, 2012

Patriotic Toenails

Yes, I am a redneck. My husband laughed and told me I can no longer call myself a "yankee" with the paint job I just put on my toes! I am by no means a professional stylist and I promise I don't have the talent it takes (ok or the patience) to paint straight little white lines. Here's the secret - you know how after your kids take all the stickers off a sheet of stickers, there is a sheet of sticky paper that the stickers were cut out of? I cut that into tiny little strips then stuck the strips onto my nails. To make the X blue I cut the four corners off the sticker sheet and stuck them on my nail - painted two coats of blue, and took them off. I used the same white strips on both nails, and just cut the strip into tiny little squares to make the stars. Not perfect, but I did at least get 13 stars on the confederate X to represent the 13 colonies! I could not however fit 50 little stars into the American Flag nail. Still, pretty spiffy for a half an hour and some sticker leftovers! I painted them with two coats of topcoat once I was done. They'll last at least through the weekend, we're having a Fourth of July bash :) Yeehaw!

Jul 3, 2012

My son has celiac disease

:( Unfortunately I have passed this lovely disease onto my oldest son. He's 13. I think I am taking it harder than he is. When I told him he simply hugged me and told me he doesn't blame me. He then asked if we could make custard and creme filled donuts at home! Priorities I guess ha!

I have been dealing with celiac disease and the gluten free diet since July 2006. I feel like I have a pretty good handle on it yet I'm going to the doctor in a few days to find out if I am anemic. Apparently I don't have a "great" handle on the diet! I certainly don't want my son to become anemic, so I may make an attempt to find a dietitian who actually knows about celiac disease. The one I went to when I was diagnosed couldn't get past the "no wheat" part, and kept telling me to eat toast and oatmeal to help my body recover from the years of diarrhea. Um, no thank you. I have a hard time giving some health professionals enough credit. For six years I was told I had HIV, then when the tests came back negative I was told I had IBS and was sent on my merry way. For six years. I knew the doctors were morons, IBS does not make you have the symptoms I had. I assumed I had cancer and they just couldn't find it, even with all the colonoscopies they did. I bled a lot, it really was horrifying. Now I know it was my body busily killing the villi in my small intestine! Who knew?!

All of that said I guess I should just be really, really thankful that my son didn't have to go through what I did before finding out we were celiacs! And yes, I'm willing to give dietitians another go, maybe I'll find someone who wows me. I still can't believe I have passed celiac down to my child :(

Jun 29, 2012

Happy Independence Day!!

We're reading The Story of America's Birthday, to familiarize the twins with the holiday in general.  It's hard to explain religious freedom to four year olds, it was easier to tell them that the colonists didn't like the King of England so they started a new country. Was that the wrong thing to say? LOL!

Our July 4th projects are mostly planned to start in July, since we took a week off for summer vacation. The twins wanted to make a flag, so this is what we came up with! They cut blue and red paper up, then drew their version of a flag - just the box and the stripes. Then they glued the pieces on, and put white star stickers in the blue box. They loved the project, and were very proud when they were done. They couldn't bear to see the Octonauts go so we still have Kwazii, Peso, Pinto and Captain Barnacles on the red white and blue bulletin boards! I think today we might make fireworks with glue and glitter on white paper :)

Jun 21, 2012

Octonauts Projects

I posted maybe a month ago about the boys wanting to do some Octonaut projects. We ended up making their four favorite characters and using both of their art bulletin boards to make an underwater scene. They did a lot of projects to make more ocean creatures, our monthly theme was Ocean Life so it was perfect timing! We're starting a new theme and I really need to take the Octonauts and their fishy friends down, but I'm sad to. I know it's silly, but this was my favorite boards they have done so far!! The twins are growing up so quickly - Thing Two can now count to a thousand by 100's, count to 100 by tens... and Thing One can read! Yes, my child suddenly popped out with a level 1 reader and had almost no hesitations reading things like "The fat cat sat on the wet mat". OMG! I read to them constantly, and I knew they had a serious love affair with letters, but that just blew me away. Almost all of the Explode the Code level 1 book I bought is review for them - who knew?!! Math is fun for them, we're using the BJU Math 1 book. It's a little easy for them but they need the practice writing their letters. They are so not babies anymore, and zoomed right past being toddlers! But they do still fall and hit their heads a lot... poor boys are top heavy!

Summer Days of fun

I love nice summer days! We filled the 6ft snapside pool (found at Walmart on clearance last fall, yay!) and put it on our patio, so it would be a little warm but still refreshing by afternoon. We waited for the house to shade the back patio, and let the fun begin! Big Kid likes to break out with the sprinkler, the twins for the most part stay in the pool and shoot Big Kid with the foam water shooters. It's so nice to have a backyard with soft grass, a shady spot with a table and comfy chairs to sit in, and kids who love playing outside so much! We played for hours yesterday, and it hit me all of a sudden how lovely the afternoon really was. I usually hate summer because I get so darn hot, but playing in the backyard is just awesome in my book :)

Jun 4, 2012

Gluten Free Chinese Spareribs Recipe

I used to eat at a Chinese restaurant in Lexington Mass with my grandparents when I was young. It was a big deal for us all to go out together, and it felt very special to me. They served the best spareribs I have ever tasted - until last night! Seriously, you'll be amazed at how simple this recipe is and how exquisite the taste is. The bonus is they can be made gluten free or with regular soy sauce!

Update: a "reviewer" told me that this is also excellent on salmon fillets, I can't wait to try it on fish - 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.

Chinese Spareribs

3 to 5lb pork spareribs
1/2 cup soy sauce (I use La Choy, it's gluten free and low in salt content)
1/3 cup honey

Preheat oven to 350. Line the bottom of a deep cookie sheet with foil. Either use one piece or really pinch the edges of two pieces together - with sauced recipes like this if the liquid leaks under the foil it will become part of the sheet.

Cut spareribs between the bone into individual ribs. Place on lined cookie sheet meat side down.

Mix the soy sauce and honey together, and brush or pour lightly onto ribs. Bake covered with foil for one hour.

Remove tray from oven, throw away covering. Pour the remainder of the sauce over the ribs into the pan, and bake uncovered for another 30 minutes. Cool for five minutes if you can stand the wait!

Jun 1, 2012

Butterfly Garden

I love butterfly bushes! Ok, I love flowers in general but seeing butterflies flock to a bush in my own backyard is just awesome. I'm also really enjoying seeing all the hard work we have put into our gardens come to fruition! My flowers are BLOOMING like crazy!!!

This photo is from the first year we planted our butterfly garden, ordered for $29.99 from Spring Hill Nursery. 

And here it is two years later, wow! I have already had to seriously trim back the blue butterfly bush, the pink one is uncut still. The bee balm took off like crazy, I moved half of it up front and I still have probably 30 blooms in each area. I did lose a few plants, the dianthus never came back and the coreopsis came back but never bloomed again after the first year. I have added some verbena to cover up the dirt, it's tiny but it should take off nicely. I moved the lilies to the front garden to make room for the lantana (keeps coming back every year!) and bee balm to spread. Woohoo! I love it when gardens work!

May 24, 2012

Memorial Day

Let us take a few moments this Memorial Day to reflect on the meaning of the day, to observe the day and be mindful of the sacrifices of others before we go and enjoy the freedoms they bought for us.

May 19, 2012


This little guy spent most of the day on our blue bush yesterday. That has to be comparable to a year at least for us, butterflies have such short life spans! I was honored to be able to witness his beauty :) This is why I was so supportive of Big Kid planting a butterfly garden a few years ago. I cleared a good sized area for him and helped him order two butterfly bushes (pink and blue), scarlet and magenta bee balm, and some dianthus. The dianthus didn't make it through the year, and never came back. Three years later the blue bush is HUGE, the pink one is doing alright! The bee balm is just lovely, and comes back thicker every year. They attract tons of butterflies, it's so fun to watch!

May 3, 2012

I have discovered gluten free cookies - that taste GOOD!

I have tried the crap that is offered as gluten free cookies in our area, and it's a joke. Pamela's cookies fall apart in the package before you even get them home, and feel grainy for some reason when eaten. Eating sand is NOT enjoyable. I have tried a few other brands I found around, and they were just ... lacking anything a cookie should be. Vitacost had a coupon out and a great shipping deal, so I ordered some Kinnikinnick oreo type cookies and Schar shortbread cookies. I really miss buttery shortbread cookies, and I seriously have considered the consequences of eating a few oreos, I miss them so! The Kinnikinnick oreo type cookies gave me the worst indigestion I have had in years, but I still find myself eating one every few days... glutton for punishment I guess. The Schar are AMAZING!!! They're buttery, not sandy at all, and taste JUST like those girl scout shortbread cookies I used to devour. FINALLY!!!!

Thank you Schar, for making one of my food dreams come true :) Now I just have to find a place locally to purchase them, since there is no way I'm spending $6 on shipping alone for shortbread cookies. They're amazing, but I'm still somewhat of a cheapskate and don't "need" cookies to survive. Yet.

Octonauts Project

My twins love the Octonauts. They watch the show daily and pour over the books. Yesterday I started our ocean life theme, and read a few books - Fidgety Fish and Commotion in the Ocean. We made octopus as a project, and while Thing Two was finishing putting the "suckers" on his octopus legs, he stated that he wanted to make a Captain Barnacles project. I was totally caught off guard, but managed to cut out enough pieces to make Captain Barnacles, Kwazii Kitten, Peso, and Pinto. Thing Two is a perfectionist to a degree, his eyes had to be straight etc. but Thing One just went at it with the glue bottle and had a blast! I was impressed at their finished results - they look pretty darn great if you ask me!!! Thanks to this show (ok and a few Diego episodes) the boys know all about whale sharks, oar fish, sea stars, it's just amazing how much they retain and enjoy learning from tv shows and books! I'm glad there are so many nice educational shows on tv these days, because while we don't watch a lot of tv it's really nice to know when they do sit down to watch a cartoon they can watch Little Einsteins, Octonauts, Doc McStuffins, Wild Kratts!

Do you make folder games?

We love folder games! We have tons of them, but the boys' favorite has always been the pickle game. It's simply pickle jars with dots on them, and they put the pickle in with the right number on it! They love all the games, and have been playing them for at least two years... I know I should introduce more challenging games, but they so love the ones we use now!

Raid Bug Barrier is AMAZING

Ok I can't say enough good things about this product. I spray around the outside bottom of my house every spring, summer and fall. I rarely see a bug in my house. The few that I do usually are either dead, or a sign that it's time to spray again! This specific wolf spider (the largest I have ever seen by the way) wandered in somehow and died right out in the open on our carpet. I had cleaned that area not fifteen minutes before Big Kid found it, so I know it was a recent visitor!

This morning I found a small trail of ants coming from our front door down the hall to our kitchen, they were happily stealing bits of dry cat food! I have battled ants every year, and knew exactly what to do - got out the raid bug barrier and sprayed outside, and the interior doorstep and jam. No more ants. Before I found the raid spray I tried everything from ant traps to cinnamon to mint. Don't laugh, ants can drive a woman over the edge!

So if anyone is in the market for a good bug barrier, check out raid bug barrier spray. It's cheap, the sprayer is reusable, and you can spray it inside or outside. I have only sprayed inside twice, and simply sprayed the doorstep and jam. I kept my kitties away until it completely dried for safetly.

Thought I would share an email I recently got from Rudi's bakery, for all my Rudi eating readers :) I had no idea May was Celiac Awareness Month!

Did you know May is Celiac Awareness Month? At Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery, we want to help you and your readers celebrate through our second annual Spread the Bread campaign—we’re going to give up to $30,000 back to the amazing organizations making a difference in our community and we need you and your readers’ help!

Starting today and through the rest of May, fans of Rudi’s Gluten-Free on Facebook will be able to select one of four celiac organizations (Celiac Disease FoundationCeliac Sprue AssociationGluten Intolerance Group and National Foundation for Celiac Awareness) to receive a $1 donation from Rudi’s Gluten-Free and will then be able to download a $1 off coupon for any Rudi’s Gluten-Free product. It’s as simple as, “Get a Dollar. Give a Dollar.”

Apr 20, 2012

Haflinger Shoes make my feet happy

Yes, these are my feet. I have VERY high arches. I may have mentioned (ok posted a photo and gushed) about my awesome Haflinger wool clogs. They are by far my most comfortable shoes, and my last pair lasted me 14 or 15 years. I take good care of my shoes, they are very expensive! I had the worst time last summer trying to find a comfortable pair of sandals, and eventually gave up and just wore cheap flip flops or sneakers, none of which were comfortable. Wool clogs are not "cool" in the summer, and I don't want nasty summer foot sweat in my clogs. Two days ago I went to two high end shoe stores, and tried on Wolkys, Naots, Finn Comforts, you name it and I had them on. A few were rather comfortable, but were in the $250 to $300 range. Too pricey for me! I went home and ordered my first pair of Haflinger sandals. They came today and oh my gosh are they just heaven on my feet! They support my arches when I walk, and are the perfect fit. It's not easy having "problem feet", but Haflinger makes it pretty painless - literally! My haflingers are right around $100 each pair, and are worth every single penny. Thank you Haflinger!!!!

Freecycle strikes again!

I just love freecycle. I live in an area with a fairly active freecycle group, and man have we used it! We have given away tons (yes, tons) of items and saved thousands picking up what we could use. And the best part is it truly lives up to it's mission - to prevent items from hitting the landfills! We have given away clothing, toys, baby items, furniture, appliances (both broken and working), you name it and we've probably given it away on freecycle at one point! We have received toddler beds (the cool fire truck and car ones!), a mini fridge box packed solid with baby boy clothes that carried us from size 9 months to 3T (clothing twins, it really really helped), a mandolin slicer, preK books, a wonderful train table, bulletin boards, school materials, an ikea toddler table and chair, seriously I could just go on and on.

I love the idea that instead of just throwing something useful away, you can find someone who the items will be useful to! Just today I freecycled a year's worth of our Popular Mechanics magazines. We are done reading them, but someone else who doesn't have a subscription was super excited to get them all for free! Our most recent pick up was this awesome pocket chart and stand. It was missing a screw and end cap, so I emailed the company and they shipped the missing parts to me free of charge, two day shipping no less!

I will say some items we have picked up on freecycle are being given away because they have something wrong with them - for example the train table we picked up was given to us because after minimal use a child stood in the drawer and broke the bottom of the drawer. We took the drawer apart (six screws) and took the broken piece to Home Depot. $4 later they cut a new piece to size for us, and bam - brand new train table. We asked if anyone had any wooden trains their child had outgrown, and we received a Brio bin overflowing with wooden train tracks! I went on craigslist and bought at least ten wooden Thomas trains for a buck or two each, and after a trip to Michael's I painted the chipped areas and clear coated them all - they looked brand new. So in total I probably spent $15, and maybe two hours of my time, and my twins have an awesome train table with more tracks than they really need, with a bunch of Thomas trains to play with!

The best pot roast recipe ever

I created this recipe after hearing my husband's polite comments on how bland my grandmother's pot roast and beef stew recipes are. She was a New Englander, and made pot roast with flour, a bay leaf, some boullion, and potatoes and carrots. Not my husband's first choice for dinner. So I threw half the kitchen into the crockpot with the roast and OMG I couldn't stop eating it. Hubby said it was just as good if not better the second day as leftovers! I highly suggest having some sort of bread on hand to sop up all the amazing goodness! You can use either all purpose flour - gluten free or not, and this will be show stopping :)

2 Tbs. butter
4 Tbs. flour
1/2 a sweet onion, sliced
1 C water
1 Tbs worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. sugar
1 envelope of Sazon Seasoning (I use Goya, found at any local grocery store)
1/2 C ketchup
small bag baby carrots, sliced
small bag fingerling potatoes, sliced
*this is amazing with some sweet potatoes thrown in, cubed into small pieces!

Put your crockpot on high while you start getting the ingredients together. Put onion slices, butter and flour in the crockpot and stir until the butter melts. Place the roast then the veggies on top of the onions once the butter has melted and the flour is mixed in. Combine the rest of the ingredients in medium bowl and once well stirred, pour over meat and veggies. I'm serious, this is magic in the making. Turn the crockpot to low and cook for 6 hours, covered.

You could make this with other vegetables I'm sure, I just like the reliable vegetables I'm used to. I used fingerling potatoes because I knew they would soften nicely and I happened to have them on hand - most any potato would be fine I'm sure! Mmmm, next time I might try sweet potatoes, oh wouldn't they taste yummy!

Apr 14, 2012

Vtech Digital Cameras ROCK!

The picture says it all - these are now the coolest things in our house, other than of course the pile of Mr. Men books. The boys have taken pictures of everything! Thank you Vtech! They did put games on the camera, but my kids don't know that and are very happy just using them as cameras. Excellent Easter present ;)

Bisquick Gluten Free Mix - it's not that bad!

I made the biscuits using the recipe on the back of the box, and was really happily surprised when I tasted them. I browned the bottoms a bit too much, but overall they tasted very much like the biscuits I remember eating before I went gluten free! I imagined chicken and gravy with biscuits drowning in the gravy... chicken and dumplings with biscuits to dip... a recipe using the mix with pot pie ingredients in it... my imagination went wild!

Apr 2, 2012

I glutened myself :(

I did something really ... really ... stupid. Two days ago I was making myself gluten free noodles on the stove, and when the doorbell rang I just put the wooden spoon down on the stove, and answered the door. Went back to cooking and just picked the spoon right up and finished cooking my noodles.

Once I started getting really sick I realized what I had done. The stove was not cleaned off from the night before's cooking, and there was gluten on the stove. I NEVER do that - I either clean the stove or just leave the cooking spoon right in the pot. Shame on me! Well I have definitely suffered. After puking almost nonstop for two hours then suffering awful diarrhea until I passed out (you really wanted to know that, didn't you?) I felt like death warmed over. Thank goodness my children just go to sleep when the lights go off, I would not have been able to attend to anyone's needs!

Yesterday I felt like someone had kicked me in my lower back, and all of my muscles felt like I had participated in a triathlon. I know these feelings well, I get them whenever I get more than a crumb of gluten. Well, here we are today and I'm losing my voice. It hurts to even try to whisper at this point. My wonderful husband is bringing me home Whole Fruit popsicles to try to soothe my throat. I can't believe I made myself this sick just from making one stupid move!!! Halls cough drops are doing *ok*, but nothing is making the pain in my throat go away enough to not be completely distracting.

Days (ok weeks) like this I really hate having celiac disease. I can handle not eating all the foods I used to love, I can handle the mediocre bread... Udi's muffins make it all ok. Feeling like this is not ok - it's horrible.

Things like learning about Al Gross make homeschooling AWESOME!

Today opened my eyes to how charmed my children's education really is. Big Kid was watching a National Geographic show about ancient Nubia on netflix, and the twins wandered in and couldn't stop watching. Maybe it was the deserts, or statues, or camels. Whatever it was, the twins were riveted! Big Kid said he liked the show too! The twins finally came in and started playing with their Marble Madness, talking about the paths of the marbles. Much better than any morning I ever had at public school!

I sat at my computer reading an article about Al Gross. I wrote a report for science class years and years ago in high school about some of his technology, and I never connected all of his projects! Al Gross really was an amazing man, up there with Einstein and maybe Steve Jobs. Al Gross invented the Joan-Eleanor radios in WWII, which used a higher frequency so the Germans never even knew the American soldiers had radios. He invented CB Radios, walkie talkies, and the basis for cellular communication. Here's a great article about him if you're ever interested! My grandfather was a great inventor himself, held many patents in the field of instant photography - I just have the utmost respect for inventors!!!

Mar 29, 2012

Gluten Free Rice Krispies

Ya, so I was all excited when I first saw these. Grabbed a box for almost five dollars! I assumed they must taste like the "real" Rice Krispies, if they had the same name! No. The similarity ends the moment you taste them. The gluten free version has a grainy texture (it does still pop tho!) and has a rather nasty aftertaste. Nothing about the taste screams YES IT'S AWESOME! I still miss Rice Krispies. My mom (who does not eat gf) tried a bowl and said the same thing - the texture is off and the taste is far below Rice Krispy standards. I even tried making Rice Krispies Treats with them, and even that couldn't hide the funny texture! Anything drowned in marshmallows should taste good, this just didn't pass the test.

Sorry Kellogg, keep looking on that one! I am guessing that a lot of people who have eaten gluten free their entire lives would enjoy the cereal, not knowing what they're missing. I sometimes wish I was one of those people, who had no clue better tasting food was so readily available to non-celiacs... my expectations would be much lower than they are :(

Mar 28, 2012

Septic Field Leak.... ew.

We noticed a part of our yard has been wet for a few months, and even last year the clover grew amazingly thick in that area. We're killing the weeds this year, and apparently the clover was covering up the leak in our leach field. We had an inspector come out, he stuck a metal pole into the ground where the wet grass is and black "liquid" came squirting out... less than 8 inches down!!! His advice was to pump our septic tank and wait to see if the wet area dried up. If it doesn't we'll be installing a new leach field in our backyard. The wet area is really really far down our leach field, so it doesn't smell and he said it was not a threat to our neighboring kitties - but who wants a puddle of "effluent" in their yard?!!

I was so proud we were able to afford our new air conditioning unit out of pocket, felt like we were ahead of the game. Not anymore! There's always something when you own a house, isn't there :(

Mar 26, 2012

Turbinate Surgery!!

Big Kid has been snoring for about a year now, and I could slap him across the face and he wouldn't even move while asleep (seriously, I did it once and he wouldn't believe me until the pink cheek showed up!). He had a sinus infection that was so awful it gave him ear infections at 12yrs old... and the sinus infection lasted about three months. The ENT immediately said he has a severely deviated septum, and his turbinates were very swollen. He had lost 75% of his breathing capacity in one nostril, 50% in the other. Wow, no wonder he snored! He was at high risk for sleep apnea, which no mom wants to see her child go through.

After trying nasal sprays to make darn sure it wasn't allergies causing the swelling, Big Kid had his turbinates surgically shrunk last week. The first night he was home he slept all night, and breathed through his nose for the first time (while sleeping) in at least a year! SUCCESS!! I wake him up every morning now with just a touch, it's so nice to not have to shake him for ten minutes to get him up. He has had no pain, there was no packing or anything involved, and he's almost completely healed already. The surgery took fifteen minutes, I'm so happy he had it done!!!

We had so many pre-0p appointments, and throw in Thing One getting his cast off (FINALLY!!!) we just gave up and canceled school for the week. It was really nice not having to worry about getting this or that done for school, but I'm honestly ready for the routine again. Feels strange to just be cleaning the house, running errands, and being with the twins. Is that weird?

Mar 23, 2012

Chinese Fringeflower Bushes (lorepelatum)

We found these in various places on our property when we bought our house, and two years ago moved them to our foundation planting. I know they'll get big, that's ok! Right now I'm trying to trim them so they will thicken then they can get all "army" and pretty :) I looove these bushes! They bloom like mad in the spring, and then again a few times between now and fall. The leaves turn a deep purple on and off, and never fall off - so I have purple or green bushes out front throughout the winter. They happily bake in the sun all day long, just the perfect low maintenance plant for me :) They look really nice as a backdrop for my daylilies too!!

Mar 19, 2012

Mangos and Kiwi

Ok so I love kiwi. The crunch of the seeds with the sweet/sour fruit itself is just divine!!! It's super easy to peel once you get the hang of how to - I took a knife and cut either end off, then slid a spoon just inside the flesh. I went around the kiwi like that with the spoon, just inside the flesh, and bam I had a skinned kiwi without wasting any yummy fruit. I'm hooked!

I like the mango too, but it was a more tropical flavor for me, so I mixed it with strawberries and bananas and ate a fruit salad of sorts with a bit of cool whip. Mmmmmmm!

Mar 8, 2012

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Our boys love Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. Dad reads it like a rap, and they just eat it up. I read it like I learned to do teaching preK, and they love that too. They read it to each other, in sing song voices, and laugh and laugh. I saw a really cool blog that inspired me - both about the Ikea bookshelf and making a tree on the wall! So now we have our own version of a coconut tree on the wall - and it's a big hit! I ordered it online and laminated it with contact paper. I love it!

Bookshelf in the school room!!

I drove all the way to Ikea (ew) and bought the bookshelf I have been drooling over. I had no idea we had so much "school related items" until I had to empty a bookshelf to make room for the new one! This is from just one of our bookshelves...

Who knew three kids could "need" so much for homeschooling? I sure didn't but I promise we use it all or I wouldn't keep it. I have most of Big Kid's curriculum for the next year or two, because I fell across it at a homeschool book store that was closing. That takes up space. I have some K and 1st grade curriculum for the twins, someone gave it to us, and who knows when they will actually start using it, so I keep it handy. Everything else is used on a regular basis - wow!!

I love the new bookshelf - it brightens up the room and stores everything we need in that room! I have a bit of extra space on the shelves, hopefully we can keep it that way. I honestly don't have to buy any curriculum for Big Kid until 9th grade, but I really don't know what I'll need for the twins as they grow because I have never homeschooled a child younger than 6th grade! It's an adventure :)

New Fruits to try

Our family is trying new foods. So far we're taste testing fruits we have never tried, then we'll move on into veggies. I don't like many veggies so this is going to be difficult for me, and I have to set a good example!

Have you ever eaten a pluot? They're really yummy!! A pluot is a mix between a plum and apricot, but is mostly plumlike. It's got a smooth skin and a sweet taste. There are many varieties of pluots, we have tried a few and our favorite so far are the dinosaur eggs and the flavor grenades.
The skin has that bit of tartness to it like plums do, we find these to be a very satisfying treat! We also like to add it to our gluten free chex cereal to jazz up the same old breakfast :)

How about a star fruit? This one didn't go over quite as well as the pluot in our house. It's citrusy, is a bit lemony and doesn't have a burst of flavor like you would expect from fruit. However we all tried it, which is a step in the right direction! To prepare it I washed it, and sliced the brown edges off of the "star points", then sliced it. It has seeds similar to apple seeds, so I flicked them out as you can see in the photo. All in all it wasn't a bad taste, but we probably won't be buying it again... unless we make a citrus salad, then it would be great! Or maybe I'll try it with a little grenadine... I wonder if it has any good vitamins in it?

Feb 28, 2012

Easter is coming again!

And here I sit, for the fourth year now with two of my three children hating candy. Big Kid's easter basket is super easy - chocolate, candy, and a few fun gadgets. He's happy. I have a hard time with the twins! Four years old is a little easier than the last few years, but they already have so many toys between Christmas and their birthdays just passing! I just ordered a really fun looking Mickey bowling lane rug from Kohl's on sale, I'll put that in their easter pile, but what else I will want to put in their baskets is a mystery still. They hate candy, have millions of hot wheels (hand me downs!), and have a ton of wooden Thomas Trains (found on craigslist and repainted). They have so many crayons they won't need any until they have children, and have drawers of coloring books. They have three bookshelves bursting with books to read, and have an entire preschool set up in the school room. What the heck can I put in their baskets?? Why is easter all about candy?

*I wanted to update this post. I ended up with the Mickey bowling rug, six of the Mr. Men books they don't have (the boys loooove Mr. Men books), two Vtech digital cameras, and a 3 disc set of children's songs. I think that'll be plenty! Big Kid will still get a pile of candy and a few fun things... maybe a gyroscope? Haven't been to the educational store yet to play with their new offerings!

I got a new car!!!

Ok you saw this coming if you read my blog regularly ;) I just couldn't happily shove the family back into my Pilot once I had a rental van! I traded it in and got a Honda Odyssey. I love it. Surprisingly I even like the looks! The engine is great, powerful, and it feels very much like "home" inside. I was very drawn to the gold color, probably because it has tan leather inside just like my Pilot did. I really liked the light silver exteriors, but the silver leather interior just felt cold. Hard to explain.

I didn't get a brand new one for a few reasons - 1, I feel it's a waste of money to buy brand new. 2, I can't afford a brand spanking new van with all the options I want. 3, the new Odysseys have NOT grown on me. I got exactly what I wanted for a great price, and the kids are beside themselves they are so pleased to have our own "magic car"! I was surprised when I first started looking at used vans, because they all had so many stains all over them! Duh, I'm looking at mommy mobiles and I'm surprised that they are kid ruined? Shame on me - didn't think that one through. Thankfully I found the perfect van - owned by a man working at a dog rescue (left a few items in the trade in!), and he had seat covers on all the seats, Odyssey rubber mats on all the floors, and a "bedliner" of sorts on the back. It looks brand spanking new! No stains, one small scratch on the exterior, otherwise it's perfect. A bird already bombed it, that's not the scratch in the photo! LOL! Absolutely perfect van for me too :)