Tuesday, January 13, 2015


I have not been great at blogging. I just have so much life to live it seems and boy has it been busy. The Mr is working out of town for 2 weeks at at time, so most days it's 4 to 1 and I am losing.

My number 2 has been struggling with health issues for two years now with no end, or diagnosis being found. We are waiting to see a new team of doctors at the end of the month, but in the meantime, our pediatrician has suggested we try gluten free eating for 4 weeks. Now after having done some research, it looks like it takes more like 6-8 to see good results, so in for a penny in for a pound, we are going for 6 weeks at least.

Having said we are going gluten free, let me tell you, neither myself, the Mr, or my pediatrician actually think this will work. Non of us subscribe to being gluten free. Please do not take offense, if you love gluten free/sugar free/dairy free, whatever. We each have our own feelings and beliefs. It is just an option to try as we wait for biopsy's, sedated MRI's, sedated endoscopy, etc... super invasive non- fun treatments, but if you are going to try it, you want to really try it. Only can you really? Apparently there can be up to 20 % of gluten in any food item and the company doesn't have to record it. REALLY? So I can buy something that doesn't have any of the gluten names (Wheat, barley, MALT, rye, flour) and it might be in there? Plus if a farmer grows gluten grain on his field and then the next season plants oats (which are gluten free) then gluten gets in the oats. AND if it is manufactured in the same plant, it might have gluten in it. So can you actually be gluten free?  I am having serious doubts.

Not to mention, calling on all my gluten free mommies (and boy is there a lot out there) who tell me this product or that product is gluten free, but when I read the label that is not what it says (Mind you many of the things they recommend are 'organic', ' natural', 'healthy', but that doesn't make them gluten free). What I am saying is you have to do some of your own research.

Sigh.... see why I hate gluten? And really we eat everything at my house. We are not discriminatory, except when it comes to our wallets. Because, we are CHEAP. So gluten (not cheap) OH HOW I HATE THEE!!!..

Having said that, I am going to post normal (or at least as close as I can get), everyday things and recipes, we have come up with that are gluten free, maybe helping some other poor desperate mom out there, who doesn't want to be gluten free, but suddenly finds, for one reason or another that she has to be. I am trying not to make my life harder, so I am trying to find things we already eat that are gluten free.

So here's a list of gluten free: fruits and vegetables. sigh... we love fruits and vegetables, but would like a few other options. Just kidding, there is more out there. Potatoes and Rice. Ok it's not quite that bad, but some days it feels like it.

For breakfast we have several options, for normal things

Chex (vanilla is my kids current favorite)
Coco Puffs,
Eggs, any style,
 bacon (some meats you have to watch out for, gluten hides in them, so check your label)
Yogurt (although you have to check the label again) We buy Activia, because it might help this digestive process. Someday.

I have bought UDI bread (in the freezer section, Costco sells it the cheapest I think) But it is only good toasted(which seems to be the case with all gluten free bread)Oatmeal (but you have to really check and make sure it doesn't say may contain wheat)

My kids like Z bars and someone recommended them as gluten free, but in fact it says on the label, they may contain wheat.
KIND Bars are. There are quite a few options in protein bars. PURE bars also are gluten free (EXPENSIVE all of this, but man when the kid needs a snack I need something that will fill her up a little)

She also has fruit snacks (check your label)
vegetables and
most popcorn are safe snacks.
Chips and Salsa

Dinner is where it is the trickiest.

Here is our list for the week:
Pizza for everyone. She gets her own $5 UDI pizza. She liked it ok and it made her feel a part of everyone else's dinner, but I can't afford to do this all the time.

Chicken Salad (UDI makes a gluten free bagel, again SUPER EXPENSIVE, but little choice out there)

Frito Pie (check your chili)

Stacked Enchiladas (I use corn tostadas, and will try to post the recipe later)

Hawaiian Haystacks. Now here is where it gets tricky. Chicken Stock, Broth, Cream of anything soup- most have gluten.

I found that Swanson 100% natural chicken broth didn't appear to have gluten. Then I had to start researching making cream of chicken soup. Gluten free. sigh.... not a lot out there.

So I went to my favorite recipe blogger- Mel's Kitchen Cafe and looked at her recipehttp://www.melskitchencafe.com/homemade-condensed-cream-of-chicken-soup-and-how-to-sub-in-recipes/, to get a good idea of what goes in a flavorful cream of chicken soup. Her recipes are no fail, crowd pleasers. We have never had a bad one. Then I started calling gluten mommies and asking about recipes and substitutions. Some garlic powder and onion powder says may contain gluten/wheat. I found the big container of garlic powder at Sams Club didn't . I opt for using dry minced onion in place of onion powder and I don't use anything that is a mix, because it almost always contains a wheat product. So here is my recipe for

Gluten Free Cream of Chicken Soup
3/4 cup Swanson Chicken Broth
a pinch of black pepper
1/8 tsp thyme
1/8 tsp sage
1 tsp minced onion
1 tsp garlic powder (make sure yours is gluten free)
pinch of parsley
pinch of paprika
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup rice flour (so far I have found gluten free flours to be a bit denser so go easy on the 1/4 and you can substitute almost any gluten free flour in any recipe)

1. Bring broth and season to boil
2. In a separate bowl mix milk and flour (whisk)
3. Pour slowly into broth, continue whisking until it thickens 2-4 minutes

Use immediately or keep in fridge for up to a week.

I hope this helps someone else who is hating gluten and all the complications from trying to find a way to be gluten free. As I create recipes and stumble on recipes that are already gluten free.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Upcycled firemans uniform

I just finished one of the most unique custom orders that I have ever done. A wife brought me her husbands old firemans uniform. They had cut it up, planning to try to make a bag out of it, but then were overwhelmed and didn't know what to do. She thought of me and brought it to me asking if I could make it into a bag for Christmas to surprise him.
Upcycling is my fav, so yeah!
I came up with a design for a duffel bag.
Here is the result:

This is the bottom of the bag, I thought the leather knee would make a good support for the bottom.

I also went through 2 blades, 10 needles and lots of time with a seem ripper.

I even used the inside of the suit for lining. That is possibly the messiest material I have ever used. It was all over my dining room.
Fireman uniforms have really cool hardware, I would have loved to use, but they had cut it out so close I couldn't sew it onto this bag. This duffel bag is probably my all time favorite order!

Easiest Christmas Pillow EVER

I seriously needed some throw pillows for my couch. It sits too far back and is not that comfortable. I had seen a post a long time ago about making pillows from placemats, and being somewhat lazy about decorating my own house, decided I might try this. I tried to go back and find the post, only to find there are hundreds of posts on pillows from a placemat!

First I picked up a couple of really cute, fun placemats from Kohls for around $1-$2. However I did not take a before pic :(

It needs to be double sided

Using a seem ripper remove a section of stitching from the top center of the placemat, I just made sure my hand could fit into the hole. Then I used some stuffing I had from another project and filled it. I pushed the stuffing away from the opening and pinned it down. Then I used my sewing machine and stitched it back up, but you could do it by hand just as well. I have some really elegant placemats that I don't let anyone use because they might get dirty. I think they might just become pillows!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Pallet into a ballet bench

I found 4 little legs, from a table that was long gone, at a garage sale for $1 last year. I knew they would be perfect for the little bench I wanted to build at the entry to my living room. I love pallet projects and knew I could use it for the bench. So for the last year the pieces have resided on my back porch.
Now my little dancers and tumblers can come in and have a place to sit to take off their shoes and change into ballet shoes.
It has an added bonus of masking my a/c intake vent.
I added a cute little sparkly heart to the corner. I think the girls will love it. What do you think? Other than my phone take bad pictures!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Some days are just good. Take Tuesday. It was joy #4's, 5th birthday. And he is a joy. He loves anything and life makes him happy. Oh, how I wish I could be like that.
It is the little things. He played the wii (his newest love) as soon as he got home from preschool. And boy can he jam to Just Dance 4. After awhile he got tired of that and switched to wii sports. As of yet, he has only bowled, but on this momentous day, he wanted to try all of them. And his, oh so non-techie mom, had to figure out how to attach all the gadgets to learn to box. Well give the kid, two minutes and he has it figured out. Then to his utter joy, his dad got home early from work and they began to 'box' together. 
I was working in the other room and listening with a quiet, joy in my heart as they laughed and slugged their way through the game. I came in to check on them and they are sweating and swinging away. Just a couple minutes passed and joy #2 came home from school, saw the boys playing and asked to join.
For like, ten minutes. The 'boys' were having so much fun and she had to repeatedly ask. Finally, dad says, we should let her play for a minute.
The remote gets handed over and 2 seconds later. I hear her tell them, "that's how a girl does it, thanks" and she gives the remote back.
I come in to see what has just happened and dad and boy are looking, with big eyes at joy #2. She and dad both say " two punches" . Then she says, "that's all it takes when your a girl" with her mischievously, beautiful smile and a little wave, she goes to ride her scooter and play outside. 
Love that girl to pieces. And the two men, but boy just loving that girl today!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Canning, one of the joys of summer

Of all the joys of motherhood and being a wife, cooking and cleaning are my 2 least favorite. Not to say they don't get done, but they are the drudgery part of my life. They are a viscious circle. You must eat to survive. If you want to be frugal (and let's face it, most of us need to right now) you must cook at home. Cooking makes a messy kitchen. Not once a day, but at least 3 times (if you don't have monsterously hungry midgets, who are constantly biting at your heels begging to be fed)

Like you didn't feed them an hour ago. My kids are never NOT hungry. I have no idea how they survived a 100 years ago, because my kids need constant fuel. Sorry totally different rant, back to cooking and cleaning!

Then you must clean the mess from cooking. And eating. And drinking. No matter how many times, you declare " All food must stay at the table!" it falls on deaf ears, at least at my house, because I always find the remains of what was lunch, snack, dinner, etc.. crumbled across the floor, trailing to the door. Sigh..... I hate cleaning. Have I said that?

 One thing I don't mind cleaning and probably falls in the cooking category, is the mess from canning. I don't know why, but seeing, my food (especially food I grow at my house, in my garden) all sparkly and nice in rows of jars, brings me so much satisfaction.

It takes time. It is hot. But oh, be still my little heart. I always feel a glow when I look at the rows in my pantry (or currently my guest bedroom, aka the fabric store) ready to eat come the fall and winter, when all the prices skyrocket on our favorites, like peaches. Or when I go to make salsa or spaghetti sauce, which I make regularily, and the tomatoes are ones grown in my backyard.

This is a summer of plenty. I have canned tomatoes, peaches and my newest Double Berry Vanilla Peach Syrup.

So yummy on cheesecake, ice cream, waffles, pancakes. Served over cream cheese with crackers. Oh, I am sure there is more. I stumbled on this, quite by accident, several years ago. I was making peach jam and I didn't have enough peaches for all my jars. So not wanting to waste anything, I looked into my freezer and had a bag of frozen triple berries. I don't even know what kind of berries were in there, it was called frozen triple berries. I added it to my peach jam and it was a hit. My husband had a fit, if I shared it with anyone. It is his! Period. He is not normally like this, so I knew success was in the bag. I experimented from there. I found a recipe on Food.com for Vanilla Peach Syrup and adapted it to what I wanted. Here's my recipe for Double Berry Vanilla Peach Syrup.

5 cups peaches/berries (choose 2 of your favorites) Fresh is always better, but frozen works too!
2 Tbl lemon juice
1,5 cups of sugar

Puree all this in your blender or food processor
Simmer for 5 minutes
Add 2 Tbl vanilla

Pour in sterilized cans
Water bath for 20 minutes (just means put the cans in a large stock pot with water over the top of jars, boil for 20 minutes)

Take them out and let them cool ( I leave'em out for 24 hours and then make sure the lids are sealed)

Then lable and store!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

A 2 Year Project... sigh

Two years ago, my oldest wanted to decorate her room and she wanted crafty things to do... (she is a bit like her mom) so I had this fabulous plan. My awesome sister and her kids, made rugs for their rooms. I thought, we will do this too! We will have fun, doing a project together. Kill two birds with one stone. SO, I paid for the materials, wrapped everything up and Christmas here we came. Should have known, life is never  what we picture in our head.

She wasn't that excited about her present, but seemed willing. My sister helped her choose a design and we opened up the mat and drew it on the mat. Then we started the project. My daughter actually did two strips of fabric before she was bored. I kept after her. I became a giant nag. No matter. She got about 13 strips total done and then told me " it gives me a headache and makes me dizzy", "forget it, I don't want it". This was not the project I thought it would be.  I put it away for awhile and would randomly get it out and try to tease and tempt her into working on. I could get everyone but her to try. So the project would be put up for awhile, but it takes up a LOT of room. The mat we purchased was huge. There was only one size at my fabric store and it was not the same size as my sisters. We should have cut it down, but... we live and we learn.

Just before Christmas this year, I decided this thing was gonna get done, one way or another and I buckled down and tried to do some work on it every day. SLOWLY but, surely, it did happen. The rug actually got done. The closer I got to finishing it, the more the members of my family took interest and wanted the rug. Even my husband. He kept telling the kids we were keeping it in our room. I feel a little like the Little Red Hen. I couldn't get a bit of help, but everyone wanted it when it was done. I actually put it, in my oldest's room, but it was her Christmas present and I spilled a can of paint in the middle of her room, right after we moved into the house, so we needed something to cover up the spill.

Here is the finished product.
I am so glad this is done! I am not sure I will ever make a rug again, but it is awesome. I used fleece and it is thick and cozy.