Thursday, November 28, 2013

Black Friday Game

So, last year I stumbled on what will surely be an annual tradition: finding the silliest Black Friday "doorbuster."  Clearly this is completely subjective. Please don't be offended if someone else's idea of silly is your idea of a doorbuster home run.

Last year's winner: Kmart's hourly doorbuster deal, 3 am Tupperware. 

"Set the alarm, I gotta jet to Kmart to get some Tupperware!" 

Have you been perusing the sale flyers? Has anything struck you as being just a tad out of place in the  "doorbuster" category? I'd love to hear about it.

On a different note, I maintain that I am not crafty, but I did manage to assemble this gorgeous 3d snowflake. Since I hear that no one but no one reads blogs this time of year, I figure I'll let the crickets chirp about it now thereby minimizing the risk of jeopardizing my membership in Un-crafty Anonymous. If you'd like to have a go at it, here's the link.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Too Good Not to Share IMMEDIATELY

What is it? Sunflower Seed Tofu Taco-seasoned Dip.

I know the hater's gonna hate, but hear me out! It's uber-creamy, flavorful and *does not* taste like sunflower seeds or tofu. It has the same consistency and flavor of any cream cheese/sour cream dip,  perhaps minus the zing that those cultured products impart.

I have picky eaters. These two, especially the handsome guy on the left, regularly spend up to an hour avoiding eating at meals. With that in mind, I think the picture speaks for itself.

I'm so excited to share this process with you, but alas, no time right now. In the meantime, I'd love suggestions of other things to try with this "cream cheese." I'm thinking some savory, some sweet. The key to this is that it has to have enough flavor to cover a mild/bland sunflower flavor. Perhaps some maple syrup for dipping frut, I bet I could add melted chocolate for a chocolate ganache of sorts, more savory flavors for dips. Oooooo, so much to try! I can hardly wait!

P.S. Here it is: Chocolate Ganache. It's the consistency of a thick pudding. It has the faintest nutty flavor, like a hint of hazelnut. Soooooooo good!

I gave Mark a small spoonful of each as he walked in the door from work. All I told him was that one was a taco-dip and the other was chocolate ganache. He loved both of them. He couldn't believe they were made with sunflower seed tofu. Win!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Recipes, News, Stores and more... 7 Quick Takes

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Whew. What a week. We are flying on through, as usual. First things first, immunity is back up for grabs HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MARK! Yesterday, hubby turned 34. And now you know that we're old and clearly watch too much Survivor.
Lucy gets her photo op, too
Also, a huge shout out to my awesome guy who fixed the formatting issues I was having. Something about adding CSS...I don't speak tech, so no clue here, but thank you!


I'd love to see a Myers Briggs test on cooks versus bakers. Cooks have large cushions when it comes to ingredient quantities. Bakers, well, that's more like kitchen chemistry. It needs to be precise. I'm an INFP and I'm not a baker. All that measuring? Boring, and too much clean up. I'm definitely a cook. I add, I add more, I adjust, I'm anything but precise. It's all about practice. You start with recipes and get to know look, feel, texture and then when you've got that down, you just start throwing things together on your own.


Tuesday, What's for Dinner? 

...was supposed to feature what we had for dinner on Monday, which means I'm writing Tuesday's post about Monday's dinner on Friday. Ok...
  • Mashed potatoes that taste like the real deal.
- Red Skin potatoes, skins on, diced and boiled in heavily-salted water. Drain.
- Add coconut oil, coconut milk (from a box not a can) a generous amount of salt and a sprinkle of pepper.
- Mash to your heart's content.
  • Leftover BBQ pork (garlic-free).
  • Pumpkin Custard for dessert. Allergen free! (unless you have an egg yolk allergy)
- One small can of pumpkin, some coconut oil, coconut milk (again, from a box), whatever spices suit you. I used cinnamon and vanilla, a pinch of salt, however much brown sugar you desire, and 2 egg yolks rinsed.
- Mix
- Pour into a greased casserole dish.
- Heat the oven to 400
- Place loaf pan filled with boiling water on the lower oven rack
- Put the custard on the middle rack, and bake for 30 or 40 minutes until the top is set.


Homeschool Wednesday

Big news in the Archibald home!  Come January, Iain will be enrolled in Minnesota Virtual Academy. We heard some good things from multiple families and, being newbies to the world of homeschooling, we like the idea of the structure it provides, and free materials. It's an online public charter school, so it's all free. They mail you everything you need: books, materials, a computer, etc. and then your student does a mixture of online and book work, with a teacher assigned to help as needed.

Additionally, since Lydia will be starting Kindergarten in the Fall, I like the idea of trying it with Iain for a semester before I have two students to juggle. If it works for us, great! If it's a terrible fit, we can make it through until the end of the school year and drop it. 


With that in mind, it was with less fear and trepidation for my bank account that I went to visit a store called Lakeshore Learning Store. Ohmygoodness. This store is a dreamcometrue nightmare. Everything you ever wanted as a homeschooling mom, a mom in general, or just a person who likes things and kid's crafts, or who hates things and crafts, but enjoys looking at them. So fun. Example: 29 cents per linear foot for self-service lamination. I may begin laminating everything my children do. Watch out world. Good thing I'm not crafty 'cause then we'd really be in trouble!

I limited myself to spending $20 and managed to keep it under $15, leaving with a pad of paint-with-water Melissa and Doug water color pictures for my kiddos who ask to paint at least once a week and have heard me say "yes" about three times ever, and these awesome twist-up crayons, desperately needed here in the land of break-one-break-all crayondom. 

I'll add that while this store is awesome eye-candy, it is a bit tough on the wallet. If you're on a tight budget and looking for similar items, other places to look are Oriental Trading or Dollar Tree.


Speaking of stores, Sam's Club or Costco?
I've had a Sam's membership for years. My Sam's shopping is down to a science. I know exactly what I need, where to find it, how much it costs, how long it will last. I could go on. So, here's the problem: I'm bored. Yeah, I know, it's grocery shopping; you don't get much more boring than that. But when there's a Costco not too much farther away, perhaps it's time to mix things up a bit? 

Since I happened to be in the neighborhood, visiting the Lakeshore Learning Store, I figured I'd peek around in Costco. I felt like a spy in enemy territory (Preview Pass in hand) writing down prices for the things I might buy. In the end, Costco looks a bit pricier. But they also have things that I would buy that Sam's doesn't carry: Gluten-free flour, Rice milk, Quinoa... 

Help a girl out. Costco or Sam's?


And, just for fun
Written by Iain. Translation: Annie I really love you

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

To the Woman at Goodwill

This here dern internet thingy is going to be my undoing. Again, I apologize about the formatting issues.

Today is supposed to be a Homeschool Wednesday post. I even had a topic all ready to go. In addition, I was going to share what I made for dinner on Monday 'cause it was pretty awesome. But, as happens from time to time, the Holy Spirit came swooping in and changed my plans. I'm sure you've never experienced that for yourself, have you?

Just a quick aside before I begin: while I type, I'm enjoying one of our anniversary treats, Cinnamon Almonds from Trader Joe's! After a wonderful dinner last night, I asked if we could drop by TJ's and see if they had them in yet. Low and behold, they arrived yesterday and were waiting on the shelf, just for me!

So, a little background is in order...

We had a couple of boxes of items waiting to be donated. First they were scheduled for pick-up by the VA. I had the boxes labeled and on our porch waiting for the truck that never came. Then it was Friendship Ventures. Again, a no-show. So, off to Goodwill I was determined to go, to just get them out of the house, once and for all. Two months later, today was the day.

Off Lucy and I went to Goodwill. Waiting for us in the donation drop-off was a woman. She caught a glimpse of Lucy as I was unloading the box by her carseat. She smiled at Lucy and mentioned somewhat wistfully that her youngest was now a toddler and also told me the ages of her two other young children.

This is pretty much par for the course whenever I'm out with Lucy. I've gotten used to the "Oh! What lovely red hair, I have a child/grandchild with red hair." or, "My baby is 25 now. They grow up so fast!" etc. I smile and move on, happy that the sight of my child/ren has brought a bit of joy to someone's day.

Today's meeting was on course for the same two-sentence exchange when it took a sharp left turn. As I mentioned to this woman that I also had other young children at home, I saw the pain in her eyes as she let slip, "I really regret my tubal."

In a split second my brain shot through the "polite interchange with stranger about cute kids" manual. That phrase was not in there. How does one respond to something like that?

All I could offer, gently, was, "You know, you can get that reversed, right?" She responded, again sadly, that she had looked into it but it would cost $4000. She followed by briefly sharing how it had all come about: That she wasn't sure she wanted one, and the Dr. wasn't sure he could get in to do it what with all her c-section scar tissue, but her aunt had talked her into it. My heart just broke for her as she shared this with me, a complete stranger with a cute baby who was willing to listen for just a brief minute.

How do you minister to a broken woman at Goodwill when there are other cars lining up to donate?

I don't even remember how the conversation ended. I just remember knowing from the depths of my being that this was why those other donation trucks never came. I was meant to listen to her, if only for a minute. I am meant to pray for her.

So dear kind soul at Goodwill. I'm praying for you. Today I'll hug my babies a little tighter and offer up the diapers and the sleepless nights and the tantrums and all the other not-so-glamorous parts of motherhood for you.

I wanted to add some links to resources for affordable tubal reversal or resources for women mourning sterilization, etc. but I don't actually know of any. Can anyone point me in the right direction?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tuesday, What's for Dinner?

Note: I'm having problems with this template, but parenthood calls. I'm posting this as-is.

Indian. At a restaurant. Today is our eighth wedding anniversary!

So, in lieu of sharing what I'm making for dinner tonight, I'd love to...

...Oh fudge, I need to go clean up some spilled milk. Dairy allergies take spilled milk to the next level. Call me haz-mat mommy.

...Ok, back on point. I'd love to spend a minute reflecting on some of the blessings of the past eight years.
  • Four beautiful children. Three of whom surprised us with their red hair! All four of whom fill our lives with experiences of all kinds: the good, the bad, the ugly and the hilarious.
  • Learning how to cook. Thanksgiving on our honeymoon was a disaster brought to you by a wife could only cook pasta, potatoes and eggs.
  • Bought, gutted and renovated the house of our dreams, largely thanks to my hubby who previously swore that if he never entered a home improvement store he would die a happy man.
Before: 1950s relic
Demo complete. 

Almost there...
Not a great pic, but you get the idea

  • Raising a daughter who I was convinced was a chip off the old block until I started to hearing stories from my mother-in-law. I guess we were asking for trouble when we married each other. 
    • I should've taken note when, upon asking my dad for permission to court me, my dad told Mark, "I should warn you, she's stubborn." This was followed by the pre-wedding meeting of the in-laws, when Mark's parents shared with my parents that Mark was, well, stubborn. Fabby-do. Ready, Set, Beware.
  • Praying the rest of my family here to this beautiful frozen tundra that we call home.
  • Being married to my best friend, Meyers Briggs opposite, disc golf obsessed, incredibly intelligent, wise, holy and ridiculously handsome hubby.
See what I mean?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Principles of Tomato Sauces: Ketchup, Enchilada, Marinara, BBQ, etc.

Hi. It's me again.

Today I'm going to share how I go about re-creating some basic condiment sauces. Why do I bother with this when the grocery store has aisles filled with this stuff? My daughter, Lydia, is allergic to garlic. Yes, garlic. Did you know garlic is in every savory dish on the planet? Not really, but it sure seems like it, sometimes.
Ugh. Garlic. Actually, this was a stomach bug. Garlic just gives her hives. But now you know that I'm that mom. "Oh, you're not feeling good? So sorry! Let me just snap a picture real quick."
This post is going to focus on the principles of working with tomato-based sauces, rather than actual recipes for these items.

The first thing I do is read the ingredient list on a store-bought jar of whatever I'm going to attempt to make. If you like the sauce you're holding in your hand, try to gather those ingredients, or healthy alternatives if it has things like corn syrup or soy protein. The beautiful thing about sauces is that making them is, "A little 'o this, & a little 'o that." Throw the ingredients together a little at a time, tasting frequently and add what's missing as you go along.

Usually for these sauces I start with a large can of tomato puree. If I'm doing a chunky pasta sauce or a chili, I might use diced tomatoes with the juice, but tomato puree is my standard.

Tomato-based sauces yield two problems that are really two sides of one coin:

  • Too much acidic flavor
  • Not enough depth

Solution: Baking soda.

Yes, I'm serious. Add it to your tomato sauce base, a pinch at a time until those acidic flavors temper to your liking. I always try to get this balance right before I add any sugar. You may be surprised how much sweetness is unmasked once the acid is turned down a bit.

Note: I get a lame kick out of watching the fizz that's produced with each small addition of the baking soda.

Depending on what you're making, you might also find these ingredients helpful in adding depth:

  • Sugar
  • Cocoa Powder
  • Coffee
BBQ sauce and Chili tend to need more depth than Enchilada sauce or Marinara. But again, you can make it however you like by simple adding more or this, less of that, or none of the other stuff.

Depending on the final product, other ingredients might include:
  • Onion powder
  • Paprika
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Vinegar (I have a lot of vinegars - buy a few and get to know them)
  • Oil (I use Olive or Coconut)
  • Molasses
  • Brown Sugar
  • White Sugar
  • Ground Red Pepper
  • Horseradish (that's what was missing from my last BBQ sauce attempt!)
  • Dried Herbs: Oregano, Basil, Parsley
A note on using dried herbs in sauces: Begin your recipe by warming oil in the empty saucepan  adding the dried herbs to the warm oil; this releases their oil-based flavors. If dried herbs are added to the sauce later, they steep like tea which is no good. If you must add more herbs later, warm a small amount of oil in the microwave, steep herbs in the oil and add that to the sauce.

So, that's about all you need to know, except that the longer the simmer time, the more the flavors marry. Also, these sauces freeze well. I use glass canning jars filled about 4/5 of the way to allow room for expansion. 
This girl gets so excited when she sees me making "Lydia-friendly" sauces. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

School, Cheese, Dessert - It's my life

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We just finished school for the day. My brain hurts. Seriously? After all, we're talking preschool and kindergarten. Not exactly mental gymnastics, folks.

Usually I just work on reading with Iain (5) and call it a day. However, for a change of pace, I had Lydia (4) working on the alphabet, identifying vowels, and ordering numbers 1-20. She did great! I love realizing how much my little sponges have absorbed from their older sibling(s).

Iain did number ordering 1-50, counting by fives and tens up to 100 and then some clock work. In just a few minutes, he got the hang of the minute hand, as long as I said a time that was a multiple of five. Progress, folks.
Daddy's little Cricket player


I'm often asked what curriculum I use for school. The quick 'n easy answer is none. That will change next year, if not sooner. I'm hoping to find a Catholic Classical curriculum that's a good fit for us. I know there are a number of options out there. If you have opinions, pro or con, I'd love to hear them. I know every family and child is different, so your cons might be my pros, etc.


Switching gears, I'd like to go back a few days to my Pumpkin Seed Milk Cheese. Perhaps this has already dawned on some of you kitchen-savvy folks, but what I made was...Tofu. Pumpkin seed milk tofu (my kiddos have a soy allergy, so real tofu isn't an option in our diet). Exciting and yet so disheartening. What am I supposed to do with tofu? I want cheese, not tofu, darn it all!

Anyone with a soy allergy who wants to make pumpkin seed tofu, I'm your gal.


Speaking of non-dairy cheese, a lot of vegans enjoy a cheese-flavored substance called Nutritional Yeast. Do yourself a favor and "Just say 'no' and walk away." The stuff is a neuro-toxin. Specifically an excito-toxin that overloads your brain's glutamate receptors to the point of cellular death. Lovely, eh? Thanks but I think we'll just skip that cheesy flavor and keep the brain cells.


Kite Hill is a company that produces artisanal cheese made from macadamia or cashew nuts. Apparently, these are sold at Whole Foods in the cheese section. If you can eat nuts but not dairy, maybe this news will make you cry tears of joy. Your welcome! Now, if I could figure out their process and do it with sunflower or pumpkin seeds, I'd be all set...


Tired of hearing about school and cheese? Me too. How about some allergen-free dessert!

What do all these ingredients make? A really big mess...and Muddy Buddies (aka Puppy Chow). 

COCONUT BUTTER: from flakes to final product

The clear bag contains plain coconut flakes, bought in bulk. After about 5 minutes in the food processor they become the smooth liquid you see in the picture. After cooling to room temp for a few hours, that hardens to what you see in the jar.

Simply follow any recipe for Muddy Buddies, such as this one. Substitute coconut butter for the peanut butter and butter. Hey presto, gluten-nut-dairy-free chocolatey deliciousness! 

Btw, I don't usually use organic powdered sugar and I don't plan on buying it in the future. Let's just say, now I know why old recipes specify "sifting."


Do you recall my love for Trader Joe's Cinnamon Almonds? Well, apparently they're having trouble with their supplier. In lieu of being heartbroken (I try to avoid heartbreak when possible) I set out to find an equivalent. While in Menard's the other day, I thought perhaps I'd found some in their Old Mill brand French Vanilla Almonds...

Let's just say, it shouldn't take a genius to realize that almonds bought from a store that stocks roofing materials, Christmas decorations, washing machines, pasta sauce and toilets probably aren't going to be up to snuff. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Trader Joe's. Love it? Hate it? Yes and Yes.

Trader Joe's is one of my stores. I try not to go there more than once a month, so when I do, I buy like a prepper. I stock up on the essentials:

  • Vanilla Rice Milk, 64 oz. 10 boxes.
  • Chocolate Chips. *Allergen free. Heck yeah they're essential! 5 bags.
  • Sunflower Seed Butter. 4 jars.
  • Coconut Cream in a can. 4 jars.
  • Smoked Salmon, wild-caught, 1 lb filet. Again, definitely essential. 1.
  • Cinnamon Almonds. You got me. These are nonessential. Definitely a splurge. But so good. 1 bag.

Now, tally up those items and picture my shopping cart. I'm used to the weird looks from the cashiers. But lemme tell you, if there's an apocalyptic event in the next month, we'll be eating all sorts of yummy allergen-free goodies. (Note: not all the items pictured are allergen-free.)

Back to the weird looks, I give 'em right my mind's eye. I'm not a confrontational person. But seriously, who designed this crazy store with shopping carts that are too small for an infant car-seat and yet provide only one infant-seat-attached cart, that's inevitably in use? Yeah, that's right Trader Joe's, you're not perfect. Your shopping carts are awful, your parking lot feels like rush hour and you offer a horribly claustrophobic shopping experience.  But you stock some reasonably-priced essentials. So I have to love you.

If you're ever in Trader Joe's and there's a crazy woman who suddenly belts out, "EVERYBODY MOOOOOOOVE"  (Andre the Giant, The Princess Bride), check to see if she's struggling to get four kiddos, a stroller, and a bulk-loaded shopping cart through the narrow aisles of the store. That'd be me.

What are some of your favorite Trader Joe's products? I haven't branched out much, but can you blame me? There's no room in my shopping cart.

*This post explains why TJ chocolate chips are no longer "kosher" yet still dairy-free. It also includes a photo of someone's stockpile that makes my stash look meager.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Homeschool Wednesday

We have a cold running through our house. I managed to be the last man standing, but Sunday evening I realized I was unusually cold and tired. After a hot shower I was in bed at the same time as the kiddos.

Monday morning found me with a hoarse voice which convinced Iain that I really 'n truly wasn't feeling well. Not an entirely bad deal, since he was instantly very helpful, all the while explaining that he was going to be very helpful. And he was. Until my voice recovered. Then he was over it.

Wanting to keep the kiddos occupied without a lot of effort on my part, and without resorting to videos, which are my parenting nemesis. I can't stand their behavior after watching anything. I turned to one of my favorite websites: Free audio book versions of books in the public domain. If you have kiddos who love to be read to, you must try it. Most of the morning we listened to Peter Pan. 

The kiddos have also enjoyed:

Beatrix Potter
Just So Stories
Aesop's Fables

Some that we look forward to listening to:

The Jungle Book
The Little Engine that Could
Raggedy Ann/Andy Stories
The Velveteen Rabbit
Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales

Are there any children's books [in the public domain] that you particularly love?

And, just for fun, here's another addition of Items Not Where They Should Be.

Spiderman's dance partner.

Disc golf discs in the tupperware lid drawer. Put there by...

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tuesday, What's For Dinner?

Tuesday is our busy day. Being a homeschooling mom, my idea of a busy day is when we leave the house more than once. I know. I'm spoiled.

One of these Tuesday outings is for dance lessons that end just as the dinner hour begins. Therefore, dinner must, for the sake of my sanity, be something that is crock-pot-able or otherwise long-cooking.

Today's dinner is from Like Mother Like DaughterAunt Leila's Boston Baked Beans 

I'm thrilled to say that this recipe is "everyone friendly" i.e., no allergens specific to our family. It's a rare treat to find a mainstream recipe that requires no modifications.

In other exciting news, I'm working on creating a dairy-nut-free cheese. This is one of my current obsessions. I feel it is the thing that distinguishes our meals from the meals of other families. I can not tell you how I would love to make a dish with cheese in it that our whole family can eat!

I am inclined to not share the recipe until I've perfected it. This is my first attempt and far from perfect. All you need to know about this is that it's made with raw pumpkin seed milk, hence the green color. The flavor is definitely too, well, green. For my next attempt I will try roasted pumpkin seeds.
Annie, one of my dairy-allergic kiddos, licked out the jar I used as a mold. I guess that says something, right?

Friday, November 8, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday

You may have noticed that the landscape is a little different in these parts. Mark and I decided to mix things up a bit. What do you think of the improved, or at least new, look?

Let me know if you find it challenging to navigate or hard to read. Those are my main concerns. Is it too complex? Do you prefer the other version? Honest but polite opinions are welcome.

One mylar balloon plus one baby. Pure happiness. In this video, Lucy's a little distracted, but I tell ya, this thing keeps her happy for quite a while. Closely observed, of course. Call me momma hawk-eyes.

Do you ever put things away in bizarre places? Me either. Except for that one time, oh, and that other time, and the time I tossed the car keys on a kiddo's bed, walked out the door for our big road trip...and couldn't find the keys for the life of me. Mark found them by retracing my steps. Good thing I'm married to such a smart guy.

Well, it seems my little loves have inherited this talent. I may have inherited it from my mother, but of course, I would never tell you stories about finding leftover mac & cheese in the tupperware cupboard. No, that might embarrass her.
Exhibit A: The First Aid Kit. Bread emergency, you say? I know just where to look. 
Exhibit B: The Linen Closet. No crib? No problem. Place baby [doll] on shelf, close door. Problem solved.
Sadly, I have no photographic evidence of my favorite incident from this week. Where do we does Annie keep the box of Chex? The bottom shelf of the fridge. I was thinking of recreating it for a photo, but one peek in the fridge and I came to my senses. To be honest, Annie's the only kiddo that picks up after herself. Misplaced non-perishables are a worthy casualty of this trait. I hope it sticks.

On the other hand, I definitely need to crack down on unauthorized fridge entry. In my blog post the other day, I included a recipe and picture of "The Good Stuff". That picture shows 13 cubes. After breakfast on Thursday, the count was down to eight. After my shower a couple hours later, Annie had a suspicious oily substance all over her mouth and chin. Further inspection revealed the count was now at two. She ate six cubes! ...and later had the tummy ache to prove it.

Annnnnnd, speaking of tummy aches... I know this goes against the grain of this blog, but when Halloween candy is 75% off, and it's not just the gross stuff no one wants, you have to make some exceptions! Huge bags of fun-size (or are they called snack size now?) Twix, Milky Way, Reece's Peanut Butter Cups, 3 Musketeer, Snickers for $1.60 each. Peanut M&Ms and Skittles for $1. There. was. so. much. It was mental anguish to walk away from all that. But I did. Well, except for the four bags I brought home with me. I hope chocolate freezes well. And if it doesn't, that's just as well.

I'm getting closer to opening my rosary etsy shop! It's so nerve-wracking making things to sell. I had no idea! I love my rosaries, and I'm eager to share them, but there's a difference between sharing and charging money for something. I want to make sure they are durable as well as beautiful, and I keep backtracking and redoing them to ensure that's the case. I'm glad I'm taking the time to do that, but at the same time, fears and concerns nag at me, "What if I'm missing something? What if someone isn't satisfied? ...or what if no one ever buys them at all and I'm just wasting time, money and mental energy?" Any etsy sellers out there with words of wisdom for me?

Lastly, if this blog is inspiring anyone to try eliminating wheat/gluten from their diet, please read this article: The Great Gluten-Free Scam. To summarize, it says, if you need to be gluten-free for health reasons, more power to you. However, it's not the panacea that it's sometimes made out to be.

I say, "Here, here!"  I feel a zillion times better without regular doses of gluten in my diet, but I also don't substitute much for the missing products. For example, I don't eat gluten-free baked goods except as rare treats. I eat a lot more fruits and veggies than I used to. I have definitely inched my way toward a lower-carb diet. Well, at least I had, but now that frozen chocolate beckons.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Homeschool Wednesday

This morning the kiddos woke to what Annie called, "Baby snow". Despite the small amount, it might as well have been Christmas. They were so excited about playing outside. So, today's homeschool lesson is a hands-on experience of seasonal weather. No doubt the snow will be melted by the time the school kids get home, but Iain has been outside since he woke up. He skipped breakfast and got into his snow gear all by himself. He's growing up!

Speaking of breakfast, in an effort to streamline the before-I've-had-coffee-don't-talk-to-me-yet meal, I concocted this stuff. Looks like something you would leap out of bed for, doesn't it? Before you accuse me of feeding my kiddos homemade dog treats, let me explain. It's "The Good Stuff." Really, it is!


1/3 cup Coconut Oil, melted
3/4 cup ground Pumpkin Seeds
1/4 - 1/3 cup Brown Sugar
*These amounts are approximate, please adjust based on your preferences.
Iain ate two bowls of this after finally coming inside.


1. Combine ingredients
2. Pour into ice cube tray, filling 3/4 full
3. Refrigerate until firm.
4. Pop out and store in air-tight container in the fridge.

To use, place one cube in bowl of hot cooked oatmeal. Mix in as it melts.
And just for fun, here's our baby. She's growing like a weed. A really, really fat weed that smiles and drools and on very rare occasions has been known to poop. We love you, Lucy!
Lucy, 4 months old

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Smoked Salmon Dip with Cucumber Slices

This is a gluten-free recipe. It contains dairy in the form of cream cheese.

Absolutely one of my favorite snacks. Easy to make, full of protein, omega 3 fats, veggies, and so delish!
Cucumber slices act as crackers for this simple dip.


4 oz WILD Smoked Salmon, 8 oz Cream Cheese, 3 Green Onions 

Simply cut salmon into roughly 4 oz pieces. Freeze individually for later use.

Please note I use wild-caught salmon. Farmed salmon is full of things you don't want in your body, trust me. Wild-caught is a bit pricier, which is why I buy a large portion, as it costs less per ounce.


1. Using kitchen shears, cut salmon and green onion into mixing bowl with cream cheese.
A good pair of kitchen shears is a mom's best friend.
2. Beat with mixer until well-combined, about 2 minutes.
3. Slice cucumbers and spread with dip. Enjoy!

Note: I honestly don't know how long this will last in the fridge. Between Mark, Lydia and me, it never makes it beyond an afternoon.