Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Can I just first say how excited I am? Holy buckets of wonderful Christmassy things, it's finally December. It's finally Christmas time and I can celebrate with millions of others and not have to hide listening to Christmas music or shopping for Christmas presents. Here are my top 5 greatest things I am looking forward to this Christmassy season:

1. New ways to do cards. I don't like buying cards. Sometimes, I'll cave, but I try so so so hard not to. This card if made from rolling up wrapping paper to make a little Christmas tree. I don't think it was intended to be a Christmas card, but I think I just might give it a whirl. I need some fun ideas for the season.
2. Sparkly nails. I make excuses for reasons why I should not paint my nails. Especially sparkly colors. Usually the rational sounds something like this, "It'll take to long, then I have to do dishes and it'll start chipping, then I'll put on gloves and it'll catch, then I'll do most dishes and one whole nail will chip off... I guess I won't." Ridiculous right? Well, bring on the sparkles and some good ol' OPI nail polish. I'm ready, chipped nails and all!
3. Fun ways to do candles. This is possibly the easiest way every. Mason jar + broken glass + small candle = beautiful holiday-ness for a very inexpensive price! I'm in... these would look awesome going up the walk way before a Christmassy party.
4. Making your own wreaths. This one is made of buttons. All you'd need is a frame, fabric, glue, buttons and ribbon. Take the glass out of the frame, fit the fabric around the backing of the frame. Glue each of the buttons on (I personally would mix up the colors, but that's just personal opinion). Tie a bow and glue it on. Wahlaaaa! Christmassy Wreath! The best part is that you can make them all sizes.
5. New shoes. I actually bought these new shoes on Black Friday. Lauren Conrad's line and they were on clearance. I like buying shoes, especially boots. I don't know what it is, but I go all weak in the knees when I see a good shoe sale. These are my holiday shoes. Don't tell anyone, but I've worn them way too many days in a row to be socially acceptable, but I just can't help it. Lauren Conrad, I love your shoes.

Happy December 1st as you kick off you Christmassy season!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Weekend Highlights

Thanksgiving weekend & an early Christmas all rolled into one makes for a fantastic four days filled with friends and family. Here are some of my favorite highlights:

After stuffing ourselves silly with turkey and dressing (Not stuffing), cranberries, jello salads and everything else Thanksgiving related, we went for a walk in the woods. Remington came with and got to experience his first outing in the woods. It was great. My two men matched with their hunting orange, I just love it!

Black Friday Shopping. Starting with Target at midnight, the Hubs came with me. The line was RIDICULOUS. It wrapped around the store and we discovered where the loading docks were. The lines were roped off to keep people from cutting in line and they had "security" making sure it was enforced. At midnight, 30 people were let in every 60 seconds, there were carts ready to go as you walked in and Starbucks was handing out mini hot chocolates. We found the stuff we needed as were pushed and pulled out way through the hordes of people inside and then we decided to check out. We waited in line for an hour. 60 minutes people! The line wrapped to the back of the store and wove between the isles of books and magazines. If you hate Black Friday shopping, you would have been miserable. It was kind of fun though, the atmosphere was buzzing, people were excited and Christmas has finally arrived!!!

Since Christmas season has official arrived, the Hubs' side of the family welcomed it in with the annual family Christmas weekend. Usually we all get together for a big turkey dinner on Saturday and spend the day laying low before the cousin's exchange gifts in white elephant gift fashion. This year was done a little bit different. After our incredible turkey dinner, we played organized games. It was a mixed of Minute-to-Win-It, competitive cooking, competitive gingerbread building and puzzle solving. It was awesome! Divided into 4 teams that were each headed up by the Hubs' aunt and uncles, the competition was fierce. The competitive cooking ended up with pretzels covering the floor, oyster crackers in the rafters and upside down tables being held down by all the chairs. The gingerbread building was the most intense as each team had to solve a puzzle to find out what they were building (A John Deere Tractor). As soon as the puzzle was solved, the teams were off. Some of the creations were incredible - just look at the pictures above. Others were creative - see above. It was awesome though! So much fun!

Hope your Thanksgiving was just as great and you are ready to start the Christmas Holiday season!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Apple Streusel Pie

Here is another treat from Thanksgiving... It's the first non-pumpkin pie I have ever made and it turned out way better than I even hoped for. Non-gluten restrained people even commented on the tastiness! Yay for good gluten free food!

Apple Streusel Pie
(Gluten Free)

Crust: by from the store, I prefer Whole Foods' brand, they are fabulous!

5 cups apples, peeled, cored and cut in small slices
1/2 tablespoon lemon
3/4 cups of sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3/4 cup Gluten Free Flour (I prefer Pamela's Baking & Pancake Mix)
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup unsalted butter


1. Before anything else, preheat your oven to 375*F. 
2. Now, let's talk about these apples. Really quick, I just want to give a quick plug for Pampered Chef. There are two ways to do apples. The first way is with a peeler to get the skin off, then you core it, then you cut it up and six hours later you are done. The second way is to use the weirdest looking contraption: 
 This contraption is so easy: stick the apple on, 
turn the little crank and it does all of the work for you!
Needless to say, making Apple Pie is whole different game 
when you have one of these things handy! 
SO! Peel, core and cut your apples, then we can move on.

3. Mix together all of the Topping ingredients with the apples EXCEPT the butter, we'll use that in just a minute.Stir together the mixture so that is thoroughly coats the apples.
4. Pour the mixture into the pie crust. 
5. Cut up the butter into small cubes and spread evenly on the pie.
6. Put the pie in the oven and cook for 30 minutes on the center rack. 
7. While the pie is baking, make the streusel topping by mixing together all of the ingredients in a medium bowl.
8. Once the pie is done cooking, sprinkle the streusel topping on the apple pie and cook for an additional 10 to 15 minutes- or until the topping is turning a bit brown. 
9. Once the pie is done, allow is to cool and serve at room temperature. It is exceptionally good is served with whipped cream.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Wild Cranberry Rosemary Turkey

Having Celiac Disease has is moments of awesomeness, though they are few and far between most times. I experience one of them a couple of weeks ago as I entered the gates of organic, celiac heaven found at Whole Foods. One recently opened not too far from us and as the Hubs and I perused around the store, I experienced intense moments of awesomeness. From that moment I was inspired to make this Thanksgiving one incredible holiday where my diet would not hold me back. Needless to say, after baking two pies, two pans of fudge, turkey and dressing- I'd say mission accomplished. I know that I am not the only one out there that struggles with finding holiday food that is tasty and easy to make... so, here's is the first of my Thanksgiving Holiday recipes:

Wild Cranberry Rosemary Turkey
(gluten free, of course!)
1/3 cup Pacific Natural Foods Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce
4 wild turkey breasts  (the only reason mine is wild is because the Hubs shot a bird this spring and it was about time to use it up!)
2 tablespoons of butter
1/2 small onion, diced
1 tablespoon rosemary
1/2 cup Pacific Natural Foods Chicken Broth

  1. Add all of the ingredients to a large crock pot
  2. Turn  the crock pot on low for 2 hours, the slower you cook the turkey, the more tender it will hopefully be
  3. Turn the crock pot on high and cook for 1 more hour
  4. Dish up turkey & serve!
Gluten Free Dressing & Turkey
 Additional options: scoop out the remaining chunks of onion and celery. Using what is left of the juices, add cornstarch and mixed up your own gravy to go on your turkey! 

It's super easy and really does not take a whole lot of time to make. Our kitchen smelled like a small slice of heaven this morning as I was cooking away.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Extreme Makeover: Minnesota Style

Most people have seen  Extreme Makeover: House Edition on ABC. If you haven't seen it, chances are you are you have heard about it at some point. It's known for it's week long renovation of a family's home as it usually completed demolished, redesigned, rebuilt and lives are completely transformed. It's an incredible and moving show to watch as you see fathers and mothers of child crumble to the ground in tears after seeing their own brand new house for the first time. It's moving to see disabled children and war veterans be given the opportunity to live a normal life with the necessary equipment provided for them. Equipment they would never have been able to purchase on their own. However, rarely do people - as in you and me- actually get to see something as magnificent as the simple outpouring of love and generosity to a family in need right in their own backyard. Rarely do we get the opportunity to participate, whether through monetary giving or giving up some time to help raise the walls or nail shingles on a house.

This fall, that all changed for our little community in Maple Plain, Minnesota.

Meet Rick and Karen Sampson. An incredible couple who give hours upon hours of their time at Maple Plain Community Church as they work in the kitchen, often starting 5am to prepare meals for various events. From Awana dinners to the Mens' breakfasts, the Sampsons are probably behind the scenes. They are also actively involved in the community helping at the local food shelf, driving those around who either do not have a car or cannot drive any longer, or  .  Despite serious health concerns, the Sampsons are an incredible couple that is always seeking to give. Despite prostate cancer, heart problems, surgeries, respiratory issues and other concerns, the couple continues to give and serve the community.

Meet the house. For 21 years, the Sampsons have lived in their home. The original house was a 24x22 cabin built in the 1920. Since then a two story addition was put on in the early 2000's. For 12 of those 21 years, the roof has been leaking, allowing a partition of the house to begin to rot. The leaking roof allowed in water, which in turn created the perfect atmosphere for black mold. Last but not least, the original part of the house never had a foundation to sit on and hold it firmly in place. All in all, these conditions were not favorable for the Sampsons and their health conditions.

Meet Operation KARE. Once Maple Plain Community Church members learned about the house conditions along with the mounting health concerns, action had to be taken. A group of seven people began planning and organizing what would be Operation KARE. Meeting once a week over coffee, the meeting of minds has driven the project and enabled the Maple Plain community to give back to a family who has given so much despite health concerns. One of the driving forces behind the project, Justin McCoy shared some of his thoughts in a recent interview..."Everything so far has fallen into place," said McCoy. "We have faith that will continue." They plan to have everything completed for the Sampsons to move back into their home by December 1.

Meet Your Part. While the deadline is closing in, there are still opportunities to help out, especially financially. If you are interested and would love to help out this serving couple so intricately connected to the Maple Plain community: 
Send financial contributions to
Operation KARE
6250 Highway 12
Maple Plain, Minn., 55359

If you live in the area and want to volunteer opportunities,
e-mail Justin McCoy at

Check out another article about Operation KARE:  
Lending a Helping Hand
By Gail Lipe

Happy Friday!

Happy Friday!

Okay, it's only Tuesday, but today is my Friday which will then be followed with 5 days of baking, cooking, eating, reading, shopping, driving, eating more and being with friends & family. I cannot wait. I've explain my love for weekends. Well, take that and times it by twenty and we have my love for holidays. They are like weekends on crack. More time off, more food, more people. Yup, holidays are something to live for.

Just because it's Friday for me, it might not be for you... but cheer up, here are some super cute pictures of the cutest puppy in the entire world.... 

  Have a great Tuesday/Friday!!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Apple Crisp (GF)

Apple Crisp
(Gluten free, of course)
Apple Part
4 cups thinly sliced apples
6 tablespoons packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons hot water
2 teaspoons vanilla

Crisp Part
2 cups gluten free oats
1 cup flour
4 tablespoons maple syrup
4 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

Before we starting anything, preheat your oven to 375* and grease a 13x9 pan

1. Peel, core and slice up apples 
and put in a large sauce pan on the stove

2. Mix in brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, 
salt, butter, lemon juice, 
hot water and vanilla with the apples
3.  Cook apple mixture until apples have soften
4. While the apples are cooking, 
mix together the Crisp Part: gluten free oats, 
flour, maple syrup, butter, vanilla, 
cinnamon and salt.
5. Once your apples are soft 
and your Crisp is ready, 
pour the apples into the 13x9 pan
that we greased in the beginning. 
 6. Pour the Crisp on top of the apples, 
making sure to cover the entire surface.
7. Put the Apple Crisp into the oven on a center rack 
and cook for 25 minutes (or until the topping is crispy).
8. Allow the Apple Crisp to cool slightly,
but it is best when served warm!


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Weekend Highlights

Highlights of the weekend:

 Putting on flannel sheets just in time for the first snow fall of the season. Last year, I thought I had lost these beautiful flannel sheets. I guess in all of the moving craziness before the Hubs and I got married, I stuck them in a suitcase, telling myself that I'd remember for later on. Well, I didn't and our bed was always a little ice cooler at night when it was time to crawl into bed. This fall and beginning of winter, it's warm and amazing and warm and amazing... I think you catch my drift. 
Minnesota + flannel sheets+ winter = absolute must.

 Exploring around the farm with the Hubs and Remington, finding cool old glass jars, milk cans and an antique scale in the old boxcar. Yeah, that's right, we found all of that in one afternoon.You never know what else you are going to find in the barn or machine shed. There's pieces from a covered wagon (Oregon Trail anyone?). There's an old tractor from way before I was born or even thought of by my parents. There's old harnesses, anvils and on and on. It's like walking through history, being transported back to different time. I love looking around the old farm.

 Coffee with friends while watching Survivor. Need I say more? Every Thursday, it's great. We all draw names and root on our person. Who ever gets voted off bring dessert the next week. I was voted off this last week - poor Jim. So, I'll have to think of something delicious to make.

 Friday afternoon sunsets before stormy clouds roll in. Talk about a way to start a weekend!

The Hubs and I got to go a Hillsong concert for free and had the opportunity to worship with thousands of other Christians people. Moving and incredible.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cold Noses & Christmas Shopping

I woke up to a freezing cold nose this morning. I know when my nose is cold, the rest of me is going to be a whole lot colder as soon as a drag myself out of bed. A whole lot colder. I tried to pull on sweats and a sweatshirt as fast as I could, but I was still shivering when I got to the kitchen. I discovered it was even colder in the kitchen. You might wonder, why don't you just turn up the heat? Well, we have one source of heat. A grate in the floor in the dining room. This means that two rooms that have doorways out of the dining room/living room area are frigid as soon as colder temps move in for the season. So, welcome almost-winter (we don't have snow yet), I'm ready to freeze my buttocks off...

 Last night, the Hubs and I went Christmas shopping. Okay, settle down. Some may think it's too soon. Like the lady we talked to at one store who asked if we had an early Christmas party. When I informed her we were actually Christmas shopping, a look of utter dumbfoundedness is all I got in response. Yes, we went Christmas shopping. There were NO crowds. NONE. It was great. The Hubs and I just meandered through stores and it was awesome. It really felt like Christmas when we Santa at the mall. Santa. I thought that the shopping malls and retail stores got an early start on Christmas, well I guess it's all okay because Santa got an early start too. Has he ever left the North Pole before Thanksgiving? I don't think so!

Happy Hump Day! Hope your Wednesday is fantastic!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Weekend Highlights

All great things must come to an end. In my world, all great weekends must come to an end. Despite the jammed pack full weekend activities, I don't really feel like it was all that busy. Finishing up a visit event at work, decorating for Christmas (42 more days), landscaping a good part of the yard, enjoying an afternoon with the Hubs' family at the Waterpark of America and finishing it off with Outback Steakhouse. All of that in 48 hours or so, I say the weekend was successful. Here are some of the highlights:

1. Decorating for Christmas. 'Nough said with that one.
2. Enjoying yet another eggnog chai on a wonderful fall morning this morning - nothing quite satisfies a hungry breakfast tummy like eggnog chai.
3. Sliding down water slides with my niece and nephew. Their perspective is so different from mine. Every water slide is a high as a mountain and as long as an hour to get to the bottom.
4. Discovering Whole Foods. Gluten Free Heaven On Earth. Freezers and shelves full of food that are okay for me to eat. For the first time in three and half years, I had two choices of which oreo cookies to buy. TWO!
5. Making yet another successful hot dish - Tuna Noodle Casserole. Thanks Mum!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

My Christmas Tree is Ready!

Few things warm my heart like Christmas. As cheesy as it sounds, Christmas is the one time of year that I feel like I can be sappy and truly embrace whatever true Martha Stewart I have stored deep down inside. Christmas is the time when it's okay to bake six pans of goodies and deliver them in decked out boxes and ribbon on top to friends just because you want them to be as excited about the Holidays as you are. Christmas is the time when I will listen to Michael W. Smith and belt out my favorite Christmas carols. Christmas is the time when I will take time to coordinate my wrapping paper and strategically organize the tree so as to look the very best they can. Christmas is also 43 days away. At least that's how most people see it. I see it as there are only 43 days left where it is okay and acceptable to celebrate the Christmas season. There are ONLY 43 DAYS PEOPLE! Only! Therefore, I am celebrating starting yesterday. With Lady Antebellum belting out Christmas songs from their album last year, the Hubs and I decorated our Christmas tree.

Thanks to Target's Birchwood Chalet, our reprtaire of holiday decorations has seriously grown over the past couple years. Last year, our tree was sad. It looked like we were on a strict budge and chose to get a really cool big real tree and chose NOT to get the decorations to put on it. So this year, we have more. Which, from the looks of it in the picture above, the decorations need to be moved around a bit. That is one serious and very bad bald spot right in front. I'm going to need to fix that.
At least the front looks a bit better. 

Along with decorating for Christmas, there are so many other things that really make the holidays special. Things like having the whole family together, all five girls, their men and mum and dad. It happens about twice a year now, which may seem sad but just makes it all that more special when we are together. Everything else that makes the holidays special seem to fall under the family category, like going for coffee together, watching reruns of friends, talking until late at night, having a banagrams tournament (yes, you heard me, it should be a competitive sport!). Christmas means so much more than decorating a tree or the house. It means so much more than getting awesome presents. Christmas is family. Christmas is my favorite time of year. And I just can't wait. 43 more days to go.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Bestie Betsy

My Besty Betsy. 
She is fabulous lady. 

She is also probably going to bring some serious butt whooping after I post this picture. Regardless, she is my bestie. Someday, she'll have to tell you the story of how we became friends. It includes us meeting as she was rifling through my dorm room drawers trying to find pens and paper. It also includes her asking me to room with her the next year. Our story also includes lots of laughs, tears and heart sharing. More than anything it includes patience. She is an incredibly patient and loving woman of God who has been a great friend to me. College brings transition. Celiac brought even more transitions. She was there for it all.

We FINALLY celebrated her birthday a couple of weekends ago. Only 4 months late. We painted pottery. If you have never painted pottery. You must go. Absolutely. We had so much fun!


Happy Late Birthday to the Best Bestie!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Sometimes life gets a little bit blurry. My eyes begin to water from the fast speeds and before long I get caught up in a whirlwind of craziness and rushing about. It's incredible to me how easy it is to get caught up in this cycle and even more amazed at how quickly I seem to sink under the weight, always failing at what I value most. I want to be a woman of God, yet busy creeps in and all I think of is sleeping a little longer in order to make it through a meeting packed day. I want to be a woman of relationships, yet it always seems that the most important relationships slip through the cracks the easiest. Relationships like the ones with sisters. I know they'll always love me. Even when I forget birthdays, or just send a million texts to the wrong number. I want to be a woman of love, yet busyness seems to absorb all patience and gentleness.

I know I am not alone is saying it is easy to get caught up in the busyness of life. I often hear expressions like, "it's just this stage in life," or "it'll pass eventually." Yet, I don't know if it will. Perhaps someday I'll just become accustom to it. Maybe someday I will just have a new type of busy and think this was so much easier. Whatever the case might be, taking a second to sit, reflect and gain a new perspective is a good thing. It is a healthy thing. It is something I don't do enough. 

How do you live with busyness?

Monday, November 7, 2011


go picnic.
ready to eat meals.

I was recently travelling which took me through the Chicago O'Hare International Airport. Travelling for someone with celiac sucks, which is actually putting it quite nice. Traveling with celiac is so difficult, unless you are okay with juice, fruit or a boring salad. All of which are not my favorite. On my recent travels, I just happened to stop into a Hudson News. To my absolute delight, I found a gluten free meal ready to go, just waiting to be picked off the shelf! Three different options. Not one, but three. Are you kidding? And they were a wide variety! One offered Tuna & Crackers, another Hummus & Crackers and the last one Turkey sticks with Crunch Chips. Fear no longer gluten free travelers. Hudson News is the place to stop. Otherwise, you can stock up on them before you go. Check out Amazon.

Halloweenie, a bit late

Yeah, I'm a bit late getting ya'll my Halloween pictures. We hung out with family and friends and had a fabulous time. We decorated sugar cookies, ate loads of pizza and of course carved pumpkins.
We went all out this year. By we, I mean the Hubs. He was definition of a true pumpkin-carving-Halloween-man. 

Allow me to show you just what I mean...

Step 1: Adhere crazy deer head pattern
complete with massive antlers to large pumpkin. 

Step 2: Turn on the power tools and start carving away. 
Careful to not ruin the paper.

Step 3: Admire your handiwork.

Step 4: Really admire your handiwork once it is lit up. 
The Hubs gets the award for the challenging and awesome carving ever. 

Mine was not near as exciting. A cat. Yup, just a cat. HOWEVER, There were no power tools involved at all. Notice the struggling curves. Yeah a knife just didn't quite do it justice.

There's to a happy Halloweenie. Even if it is a bit late!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy Days

Sometimes, I just have fabulous days. Have you ever had one of those days when everything that happens just seems to be good? Well, allow me to fill you in.

 Event #1: Hair Cut Success
It started last night. I got a haircut. This is not something that happens often. It's not that I'm afraid to go (no, that would be the dentist and that awful drilling sound that sounds like a mouse being tortured - hate that!). I'm not afraid to get my hair cut, I just make horrible decisions when I am in that chair. Horrible. Like I say things that just fall out of my mouth no matter how hard I try to control them. Things like, "Oh yeah, let's try a bob..." or "A pixie cut would sure look cute." Are you kidding me?!? Who is this person who takes over my body and looses all opinions and abilities to stick up for herself. Last night, I went to get a haircut. My normal stylist wasn't working, so I got another gal. Everything went as normal. I struggled to explain exactly what I wanted, stammered and stuttered through an explanation and then hoped for the best... not sounding too good right? It turned out FAB-U-LOUS! I am so excited! I know I cheated on my other hairstylist, but she understood when I said I want dramatic-but-not-too-dramatic layers, thinned out-but not stingy, and not any length off. SOMEHOW with those incredible directions, she actually pulled it out. Seriously. We may have a serious relationship here people. This is huge. [photos will come later]

Event #2: Happiness in a Cup
I'm on a quick business trip just a bit outside of Chicago. I left early this morning. Early mornings in my life mean coffee is necessary. I recently gave up caffeine. No, I am not crazy. No, I am not preggers. I hadn't been sleeping well and sometimes got chest pain. I gave it up and feel so much better. Despite my abstinence from caffeinated coffee, decaf is always an excellent substitute. AND LET ME TELL YOU WHY! Starbucks has two incredible drinks back for their Fall and Winter line up: EGGNOG CHAI LATTE & PUMPKIN SPICE LATTES. These drinks are a very space, tiny slice of heaven in a cup. I love them. Any time I can squeeze one in and justify spending a whole $5 bill, I will. Every time. No exceptions.

Event #3: Special SUVs
I'm on a quick business trip just a bit outside of Chicago. Meaning = renting my first rental car ever. Not only did I successfully navigate O'Hare International Airport, I rented my first car. I feel like it's a gateway to becoming an adult. Yay me. Okay, that's not the exciting part though. I signed everything, got my rental agreement and went off to search for space S20. I found S20. Guess what was in space S20? An SUV. Not any SUV, the Ford Edge. Comes with a beautiful sound system and integrated bluetooth system. Yeah, that kind of stuff makes me get all giddy and excited. I can talk, just normal, and have my phone hooked up to the car. THATS INSANE. I love technology! Do you think the car company would notice if I took the car home? A girl can dream, right!?

Have a fabulous evening!

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