Chocolate Chai Macaroons


Did you know I’m a klutz?

Some synonyms would be clumsy, stumblebum, butterfingers, awkward, accident prone…

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I don’t know why and it seems to come in waves, but really, I’ve been one all my life. In fact, I remember being called “Grace” on many occasions in my childhood and I don’t think it was because I was so angelic that I “graced” everyone with my presence.

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I’m not sure if I blogged about it, but right after we moved into our house in New Hampshire I fell all the way down the flight of stairs from our bedroom and tore my right shoulder. Shoulder tears are not fun and take months to heal if they heal at all. Luckily, mine eventually did.


Then, a few months ago I was reaching over the gate that leads to our basement to set something on the stairs… Why do we have a gate? Because the cat box and cat food are in the basement and we have very “inquisitive” dogs.  As you can probably already guess something went awry.

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I guess I leaned on it just a little to much and it slipped right out of the door jam. I went with it and got my foot caught in the cat door at the bottom of the gate and fell all the way down the stairs.

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Once my husband figured out I was OK and I only came away with just a few scrapes and bruises, he said, “You need to be more careful, you’re not getting any younger you know.” Then our son arrived for a visit a while later and Tony said, “Guess what mom did!” with such excitement I actually thought, what did I do? Then I heard, “She fell down the stairs!”

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Two weeks ago I was cooking dinner and I guess I must have left a cupboard open, because next thing I knew, I turned around and smacked right into it with my forehead. I didn’t even swear. I’m so used to being a klutz, it doesn’t even elicit naughty words anymore. Just a lot of, “WHY? WHY? WHY’s!” That one left a mark that had to be covered with makeup every day.

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A week and a half ago I was walking from the dining room down to our family room and I have no idea what happened but the stairs suddenly turned into a slide. Before I knew it, I was at the bottom and I fell so violently that the plastic padded glass water bottle I had in my hand broke. Four stairs. Not even a flight of stairs.

While I was falling, I reached out to grab something to stop myself like most people do I’m assuming, and tore the same shoulder again. This time my husband, lounging on the couch fully horizontal, didn’t even bother to get up. I just heard, “Are you OK?” Um….nooooooo. Later he did bring me ice packs for my shoulder and reminded me once again, “You know you’re not getting any younger, you don’t want to break a hip or something.”

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A few days ago, I bent down to put some things into a recycling bag that was set where it doesn’t normally live in the kitchen. I had placed it there because it was almost full and needed to go out to the big bin in the garage. Sure enough, when I bent down, I smacked my forehead on the corner of the bar.

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When my husband left for work this morning I deemed today, “Pajama and Chocolate Day”. I had breakfast and then I made myself a cup of hot chocolate.

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100% Coconut milk, 2 squares of dark chocolate, about 1 teaspoon of raw honey, a couple pinches of cinnamon and a pinch of turmeric. I also added a little dollop of coconut whipped cream made with pure vanilla and coconut sugar.

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So I guess it’s no surprise that I’m sore. Very sore. I think I feel like what really old people feel like. My shoulder still hurts, it’s making my neck tight and giving me a headache, and I’m almost positive I’m going to have a permanent bruise on my forehead. That calls for lounging around in one’s PJ’s and indulging in chocolaty things.

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The cookie recipe makes 15 cookies, and as you can probably tell, there are not 15 cookies on this plate. There are 11 because I ate four, in one sitting.

Which is as it should be on a Pajama & Chocolate Day.

Yours Truly,


Chocolate Chai Macaroons 

*Preheat oven to 325 degrees

2 Cups of Unsweetened Coconut Flakes

2/3 Cups of Unsweetened Shredded Coconut

2/3 Cups of Coconut Sugar

1 Tablespoon of Coconut Flour

1 Tablespoon of Sweet Potato Flour

1 Tablespoon of Chai Mix (see below)

2 Tablespoons of Cocoa Powder

1/4 teaspoon of Sea Salt

3 Eggs

1 teaspoon of Pure Almond Extract

1/3 Cup of Dairy Free Chocolate Chips

Mix all ingredients well in one bowl. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and scoop out 15 heaping Tablespoons of the cookie dough. Bake for 16 minutes.

Chai Spice Mix

This spice mix can be used for all kinds of delicious things, you’ll have extra.

1 Small Jar

3 teaspoons of Ground Turmeric

4 teaspoons of Ground Cardamom

4 teaspoons of Ground Cloves

4 teaspoons of Ground Allspice

8 teaspoons of Ground Cinnamon

6 teaspoons of Ground Ginger

Measure all ingredients into a small bowl and whisk together until combined. Spoon into a storage jar.

One Grain & Dairy Free Bread Recipe ~ Three Ways



I’ve tried very hard, but I am just not one of those people who can live on meat and vegetables alone. Sometimes we just need something to sink our teeth into that says, “comfort”. For me, that food item is bread.


I can go days and days without it, but when I want it, my brain just won’t rest until I get it. I’ve tried on a few occasions to just sneak in a couple of pieces of Udi’s bread, but I am always greeted with swollen fingers and ankles the next day. Inflammation makes all Lyme symptoms much worse, so eating things that increase inflammation are hardly worth it.


I have to abstain from grains, gluten, and dairy (and most potatoes, legumes, and very limited refined sugar…). That’s the reality, and there’s no way around it if I want to keep the inflammation at bay. Once you embrace the reality of your food limitations and recognize how they affect your body, life will be more enjoyable for you.


A few weeks ago I set out to find a grain free bread recipe I could love. I had many fails but was pleased when I was finally able to share the Peasant Bread and Garlic Herb Twist recipes with you.


Amazingly enough, the three bread recipes I’m sharing today – French Toast Bread, Hard Rolls, and Cinnamon Raisin Buns all come from the same basic bread recipe used for the Garlic Herb Twists. So really, it’s 1 recipe made into 4 types of bread!


This makes it simple. Once you have all the ingredients on hand, you can bake to your heart’s content. I made the bread, the rolls, and the buns all in one evening. If you’re used to making your own bread, you’ll think it’s easy. If you’re not used to making your own bread, it will be a little bit of a challenge at first. There’s still the rising and baking time to be considered as well. You’ll get to know the dough the more you use it and before you know it, you’ll be impressing your family with all kinds of creations throughout the week.


If you come up with some of your own unique ideas, shoot me an email at with pictures of your favorite bread made from my recipe and I will post it right here on the blog to share with others. There’s no reason for anyone with food allergies to go breadless.

Happy Baking!

Basic Grain Free, Dairy Free Bread Dough Recipe

1/3 Cup Arrowroot

3/4 Cup Sweet Potato Flour

1/2 Cup Coconut Flour

2 teaspoons Xanthan Gum

2 teaspoons Double Acting Baking Powder

1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt

1 1/2 Tablespoons Yeast

2 Tablespoons Coconut Sugar

1/3 Cup Dairy Free Butter


3 Eggs Separated

1 1/2 Tablespoons Grass Fed Gelatin

1/2 Cup Cool Water

1 1/2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar


(There are step by step photos on the Herb & Garlic Twist post)

Measure all of the dry ingredients into a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Measure the dairy free butter into the flour mixture and work through with your fingers quickly until it has a large, mealy appearance. Set aside.

Separate the eggs. Whites into a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, yolks into a small cup or ramekin. Beat the egg whites on high until they are very foamy and at least doubled in size, but not quite to soft peak stage. Add in the yolks and beat until completely combined, just a few seconds.

Next, in a medium ramekin or in a glass measuring cup, add the 1/2 cup of cool water. Sprinkle the gelatin over the top and whisk in thoroughly with a fork. Microwave for 20 seconds. Set aside.

Measure the vinegar into the egg mixture and turn the mixer on low. Very slowly drizzle the warmed gelatin mixture into the egg mixture until fully incorporated. Turn off the mixer and switch to the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and beat on medium for about 1 minute. The dough will be soft.


For all recipes, turn oven to 400 degrees while the dough is beating in the mixer.

French Toast Bread

I use this bread for french toast because I have yet to be able to make it rise as high as a “real” loaf of bread. It works perfectly though for french toast! It is absolutely delicious. Allow it to soak in your egg mixture for several minutes before frying and spreading generously with dairy free butter and your favorite pure maple syrup. 

Spray a bread loaf pan and line with parchment. I like to do this for easy removal. Scoop the bread dough out of the mixer with a spatula into the bread pan and spread out carefully without flattening the bread too much. It will expand when it rises and then expand into the corners even more while baking.

Spray a piece of plastic wrap with oil, lay over the top loosely, cover with a tea towel, and set on top of the stove to rise for one hour. After 60 minutes, remove the towel and plastic and place on the middle rack of the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes. Allow to cool before slicing.



Hard Rolls

While the bread dough is beating in the mixer preheat the oven to 4oo degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment. Flour the counter with either arrowroot flour or the sweet potato flour. Scoop the dough onto the counter and flour the top. Pat it lightly with the flour. Cut the dough in half, then each half in half and so on, until you have 8 equally sized pieces. Do not work the dough too much. Take each piece into your hand and kind of plop it back and forth cupping it to form a ball. Place on the parchment and continue with the rest. Spray a piece of plastic wrap, drape it over the rolls, cover with a tea towel, and allow to rise on top of the stove for 1 hour. After the 60 minutes, remove the plastic wrap and towel and bake in the preheated oven for 14-19 minutes, until golden on top and sides. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.


Cinnamon Raisin Buns

*You will need raisins, cinnamon, coconut sugar, and dairy free butter. You will also need powdered sugar (I used corn free organic, if you have a Vitamix, you could also whiz up coconut sugar to powdered sugar), dairy free butter, and pure almond extract for the frosting.

In a small bowl, whisk together 1/3 cup of coconut sugar, 1/3 cup of dairy free butter, and a pinch of sea salt until smooth. Set aside.


While the bread dough is beating in the mixer, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and spray an 8×8 baking pan (or a pie pan would work fine too) and line with parchment. Set aside. Flour the counter with either arrowroot or the sweet potato flour. Scoop the dough out of the mixer onto the floured counter and flour the top, patting the flour slightly around. Cut the dough in half, then in half again and so on, until you have 8 equal sized pieces. Working quickly, flatten each piece into a circle. Dollop the sugar and butter mixture equally on each piece and spread around with the back of a spoon leaving the edges empty.


Sprinkle generously with cinnamon. Sprinkle with raisins (or leave them out, or add nuts, or whatever you like).


Pick up a round of dough and put it in the palm of your hand. Grab the edges and squeeze them up and together like a dumpling. Press all the edges together and flip it over into your hand. Cup it to shape it a bit, and put it in the baking dish. Continue with the remaining dough rounds. Don’t worry about excess room in your pan. They will rise and then rise and then come together while baking.


Once all of the buns are in the baking dish. Put a dollop of dairy free butter on each one. Sprinkle generously with coconut sugar and cinnamon, and then sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt.


Drape a piece of loosely covered plastic wrap and a tea towel over the top and allow to rise on top of the preheating oven for 60 minutes. Remove the plastic wrap and tea towel and bake for 30 minutes draping with foil after the first 10 minutes. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes before frosting.


Frosting: 2 Tbs of dairy free butter melted, 2 cups of powdered sugar (or powdered coconut sugar), about 2 teaspoons of pure almond extract. Whisk until combined, you may need a tiny bit of water to get it to drizzle/spreading consistency. Spoon over the rolls, wait a few minutes for it to set, and serve.


Immune Boosting Breakfast


Do you pay much attention to your immune system?

The immune system is a network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to defend the body against attacks by “foreign” invaders.


Many of us probably don’t give our inner workings much thought until we become ill.

I take a pro-biotic, vitamin D, multi vitamins, adrenal support, and fish oil every day. I typically get outside and get fresh air and exercise myself and the dogs at least 5 days a week. I eat organic fruits, vegetables, meats, and grains. I’m dairy free and gluten-free. And even though I post a lot of sugary items on my blog, I myself don’t eat much sugar on a regular basis.  But sometimes, even when we feel we are doing all the right things when it comes to our health, something invades our bodies and down goes the immune system.


The last time we chatted I think I told you I was suffering from dreaded Vertigo. Well, I went from having the flu, to vertigo, to having to be put on blood pressure medication, to a cold sore on my leg about the size of the palm of my hand, to a list of other symptoms, and now my doctor is trying to figure out just what in the heck is going on. Right now we’re traveling down the Lyme Disease road. I’ve tested positive on one of the tests and now the next step is to test again and see what happens. I’d say it’s kind of a double edged sword, all of this testing. On one hand, there’s NO WAY anyone would want Lyme Disease and on the other hand, you hope something in some test will come out positive so you can put a name to it, get treatment, and get back to feeling like yourself again.

This was my Immune Boosting  Breakfast this morning.


Put a bit of organic olive oil in a small saute pan and heat. Add chopped spinach and stir until it wilts. Add one clove of chopped garlic, leftover wild caught salmon, and leftover organic brown rice. Gently toss around until everything is heated through and season with kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, Old Bay Seasoning, and dill.

Are you like me when you get sick?

I wage an ALL OUT war.

I research everything I can think of. Natural and mainstream medicine, ideas, and theories. I read blogs, I look for people who are talking about the same symptoms online, I look at all ways possible to get healthy again. Might sound a tad extreme, but educating yourself is never a bad thing. I like to feel good and healthy…doesn’t everyone? You’ve heard me say many times in past posts that you need to be pro-active with your health. Educating yourself and going to your doctor or Naturopath with ideas, concerns, and questions will only help you in the long run. Luckily, I have been able to find a practice that has an amazing nurse practitioner who so far is open to getting to the bottom of what is going on and exploring other options. I try to set aside my fears of appearing like a “difficult patient” when going in with ideas and questions. After all, what doctor has the time or resources to research every symptom, feeling, and question you have?  I remind myself that I pay big dollars for their time and help so I shouldn’t feel uncomfortable about taking an active role in getting better. Most doctors welcome pro-active patients. They can’t help you if you aren’t willing to help yourself. So, the war is on. We’ll get to the bottom of all of this eventually. Until then, I’m just taking it one day at a time.

If I feel good I do stuff, if I don’t, well then I don’t do too much stuff. Ha, sounds simple, but that’s my reality right now. I’ve been reading sweet little Christmas stories during my down time. I LOVE the Christmas season. When there are “things” going on in life, it’s fun and relaxing to read joyful, Christmas stories. These are fun and will really get you in the Christmas spirit.

A Nantucket Christmas by Nancy Thayer

Starry Night by Debbie Macomber

The Cat Who Came For Christmas by Cleveland Amory

A Virgin River Christmas by Robyn Carr

Angels At The Table by Debbie Macomber


If you’d like a list of foods that help to strengthen the immune system you can go here:

Foods To Strengthen The Immune System

8 Foods To Build A Strong Immune System

20 Health Benefits of Brown Rice

Cinnamon Blueberry Belgian Waffles



I love waffles.

More specifically, I love waffles with my butter.

The only problem I have with waffles, is the waffle iron itself.

We used to have a relatively expensive waffle iron (about $100) that I absolutely hated. It cooked the waffles just fine, but if I didn’t spray it with non-stick spray the waffles were difficult to remove. The problem with the spray or any oil you put on a waffle iron is that it builds up and it’s very difficult to remove completely if you can’t take the plates out and wash them.


So the last time we had waffles, I was at my limit with trying to clean it out with a skewer and a wet paper towel. Out to the garbage the waffle iron went because I was quite certain even Goodwill wouldn’t want it, and I began a search for a waffle iron that had removable, washable, plates.


It’s not as easy as one might think to locate a waffle iron with removable plates.

I searched online and in stores for several weeks. Then finally, while I was wandering around Target one day, I ran across this:

The Breakfast Master


It’s perfect. 


And even better, it was only $39.99! Evidently you can do all kinds of things with it, but I have only used it for waffles. The cooking plates pop right out for easy cleaning…problem solved. The only thing I can think of that might be a negative is its size for larger families. It only cooks one waffle at a time. But heck, at that price, you could buy a couple and your pocket-book will still be happy.


Cinnamon Blueberry Belgian Waffles

**1 3/4 Cups Artisan Flour Blend

1 Tablespoon Baking Powder

1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt

1 1/2 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon

2 Eggs, separated (whites whipped to stiff peak)

1 3/4 Cups Almond Milk

1 1/2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla

1/2 Cup Dairy Free Butter, melted

1 1/2 Cups Frozen Blueberries

**I substitute the cornstarch with arrowroot flour, make sure you read the substitution directions

Preheat Waffle Iron.  Mix together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a medium-sized bowl. Add the egg yolks, almond milk, and vanilla and stir until combined.  Add the melted butter, stir to combine. Whip the egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff peaks form, carefully fold the whites into the batter.  Fold in frozen blueberries.

Cook according to your waffle maker’s instructions. I cook mine until there is no longer steam coming from the waffle iron. I like them lightly crispy on the outside.

Top with dairy free butter, pure maple syrup, and blueberries.

This little neighbor joined me for breakfast this morning.


Wild Blueberry Banana Buckwheat Muffins


IMG_0215[1]Well, it appears as if my camera issues are beyond my expertise. Really irritating. I’ve cleaned it, oiled it, and fiddled with all of the doo dads…and it still won’t take pictures. I’ve fixed it twice in the past, but I guess the inevitable has finally happened. I will have to pay someone a ridiculous amount of money to take my camera for a ridiculous period of time to get it back into shape. So until my camera is returned to me, I will have to live (and so will you) with pictures from my iPhone.


Now that we’ve all come to grips with that…

I’ll give  you yet another reason why I love New Hampshire. It is full of quaint beautiful towns, as you’ve seen in my previous posts. And with quaint beautiful towns, come really interesting local and neighboring state goodies. The shops are full of locally made crafts, jewelry, homemade jams and jellies, maple syrup, goat’s milk caramel, local milk, eggs, cheese, and cream, furniture, hand-made soaps, lotions, candles, pottery, quilts, scarves…I could go on and on. I love that I can support my local community as well as the neighboring New England states when I shop. New England takes pride in its communities. You can see that by how beautifully the towns are maintained and decorated, by the genuine kindness of the people that inhabit them, and by the support that is given to local craftsmen, jewelers, and other crafting gurus.

While my mom and son were here visiting and we were out exploring, they wanted to check out a cheese shop in Brattleboro, Vermont. Something I don’t get all that excited about, because of course, if I ate the amount of cheese they consumed while perusing the cheese shop, I wouldn’t want to get out of bed for at least the following three days. But, as with most of the quaint shops in New England, there were plenty of other goodies for me to see.

This little 7 ounce jar of Wild Maine Blueberries (touted The Caviar of Maine), has added its delectable flavor to our  pancakes and the muffins I made this morning. It went a long way. It’s just beautiful, little blueberries in white grape juice. Nothing freaky added and no artificial sweeteners. Yum!



I’m on a buckwheat and coconut oil kick. Have you done your research on both? The benefits of coconut oil are particularly amazing to me. If you haven’t already watched this video on the benefits of coconut oil for Alzheimer’s disease, please do so. It will leave you in awe. Truly amazing.


According to, coconut oil has all kinds of benefits. “The health benefits of coconut oil include hair care, skin care, stress relief, maintaining cholesterol levels, weight loss, increased immunity, proper digestion and metabolism, relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV and cancer, dental care, and bone strength. These benefits of oil can be attributed to the presence of lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, and its properties such as antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial and soothing properties.” Crazy, huh? And so simple to add to your diet.


Did you know that buckwheat is a fruit seed? It’s related to rhubarb and sorrel. That of course, makes it gluten-free and a fantastic substitute if you and certain grains don’t get along. Not only can you bake with it, but you can eat it as a porridge as well. Something I wasn’t aware of until I researched the benefits.


(buckwheat seed photo courtesy of


But there are also some other very interesting benefits of buckwheat. It’s high in manganese, magnesium, copper, and zinc. It also contains all 8 essential amino acids. It’s high in fiber and studies have shown that it slows down the rate of glucose absorption making it a healthy choice for people with diabetes and blood sugar issues. It has been shown to have significant cardiovascular benefits for post menopausal women, it helps prevent gall stones, breast cancer, and when you combine the whole “grain” benefits of buckwheat and fish oil, it’s been shown to be highly protective against childhood asthma.

When everyone decided that carbs and fats were bad for us and mass quantities of protein or even just living off of vegetables and raw foods were good, we didn’t take into consideration the benefits of certain grains and seeds and fats that would be missing from our diets. Carbs and many fats are not bad for you, in fact, according to the information above, they can be very beneficial.

Combine the benefits of buckwheat, coconut oil, a little protein, the benefits of banana (vitamin A, iron, phosphorous, potassium, high fiber), the benefits of blueberries (high in fiber, the highest in any fruit in antioxidants, and 1/4 of your daily need of vitamin C), and you have a pretty tasty and pretty healthy muffin. You could probably even replace the brown sugar with a grated apple or applesauce.


Wild Blueberry Banana Buckwheat Muffins

Preheat convection oven to 350°

3 organic free range eggs

2 overripe organic bananas

3 Tablespoons wild blueberries

1 Cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/2 Cup organic coconut oil, melted

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon organic cinnamon

1 1/2 Cups Mama’s All Purpose Almond Flour

1/2 Cup buckwheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Lightly mash the bananas ( I like mine chunky) in a medium bowl. Add the eggs, sugar, coconut oil, vanilla, cinnamon, and blueberries.

In another bowl add the flours, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt. Whisk. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and fold with a spatula carefully until fully combined.

Fill muffin papers almost to the top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 23-25 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.

Crab Stuffed Artichokes & Cherished Memories


Throughout the time that Brandon attended grade school and middle school I volunteered. I volunteered a lot. I worked in kitchens, in classrooms, in the office, copied papers, corrected papers, made classroom snacks, did recess duty, went on field trips, and was involved in many, many, auctions.

We had heard about an “out of the box” public middle school when Brandon was leaving his private grade school. They have a somewhat open concept based on relationships and do hands on, project based learning. They also have a “city” in the basement of the school. The students are taught how to create resumes, how to interview appropriately, and each student interviews each semester for jobs as police officers, judges, attorneys, small business owners, IT people, cafe managers, waitresses, maintenance, etc… They even have an aquaculture business that raises fish and grows hydroponic vegetables. A real greenhouse where they grow flowers and vegetables for sale in the spring. A full running cafe during lunch that the students take care of, and they all earn city money that they can spend in the marketplace on Friday afternoons. The marketplace is where enterprising young minds bring their small business ideas and sell crafts, food, and fun activities. They can also receive tickets for inappropriate behavior…that explains the need for a judge and attorneys.

Fresh Crab Salad

It was at that school that I had the opportunity to do a type of volunteering that I had never done. Brandon was in the 6th grade and I was asked to teach an 8th grade Leadership class. By myself. It was terrifying and awesome. It was an eye opener. It was heart wrenching and unbelievably stressful at times. But most of all, it was a huge blessing and I learned so much about young people and life.

Crab Salad & Rustic Crackers

My first class was so nerve-wracking I couldn’t believe how terrified I was to have an entire room full of teenagers staring at me. What am I doing? I had to keep telling myself, “You are an adult for crying out loud, in a room full of children, get it together!” Ha! Hard to believe when more than three-quarters of them were bigger than me. They were just waiting for me to prove that I was just like a lot of other adults in their lives, there to babysit and not participate in their lives and not care what they had to say.

We had a lot of discussions. Sometimes there were days I had things planned but I could tell they just wanted to talk about “life” and relax, so that’s what we did. I loved listening to their perspectives on life! I used my relationship with Brandon as an example, a lot. Brandon didn’t care for that much… But what else did I have to draw from? I tried to convey to them that their parents loved them insanely and that’s why parents do what they “do”, all the time understanding that they would never “get it” until they had children of their own. I tried to talk to them in a down to earth and very honest way. Up front…another thing I learned about young people. They want you to be up front with as little of “adult talk and tone” as possible, and totally honest. Even if they don’t agree with what you are telling them. They also like to hear about some of your life mistakes, how you got through it, and what you did differently the next time you were challenged with the same situation.

I was supposed to be teaching them, but really they taught me. They taught me about the power of being present for someone. How just being aware of how a younger person felt, even if I knew they would get over it or that it was a silly emotional day for them, just listening and being there for them made a huge difference. All of their unique little personalities blessed my life tremendously. Some of them were well-rounded and relaxed and some of them had very hard lives and were rough around the edges. Others were very tough to get along with and I had to work hard to get through their thick shell and see past their smart aleck natures. A couple refused to ever let go and have fun and enjoy the class for what it was. Those were always the complicated ones that had issues that we couldn’t resolve with just creating a “community” within a classroom. Those kids were hard to let go of. I wanted to take them home and give them real attention and cook them real food, and show them what a loving family feels like. I learned a lot about letting go.

Some of them were so smart is was shocking. Some of them were very wise for their age and yet still so vulnerable to all of the peer pressure that comes with being a teen. I gained an enormous amount of respect for teenagers and an unsettling understanding of the stress and pressure they are under not only at school but also in their private lives.

I am happy to report that seven years later, many of them still keep in touch with me! They are 20-23 years old now…so hard to believe. They are in college and working and a few are even married. One who was particularly hard to get along with, but has since kept in pretty close contact with me, has been through an enormous tragedy and has managed to keep his head on straight when most of us would have crumbled. They are getting to the age now where they have had to experience the “real” world of serious consequences, pain and hurt, sick parents, and bad relationships. They are strong…so strong, just like I knew they would be after listening to them talk about their lives in the classroom.

I’m so proud of them. Proud of them and thankful that they allowed me a small glimpse into their lives and that they trusted me and they shared with me and chatted with me and were just so incredibly loving and forgiving of me because seriously…I started from scratch and picked activities for us to do together with no experience in teaching anything ever.

They disproved a lot of the hubbub about teenagers and their “typical” attitudes. They grasped onto each activity I planned and stepped out of their comfort zones many times and did it all with honesty, which isn’t easy to do in a room full of your teenage peers. Some of it was hard too. Soul searching stuff and things they had to do within the school…”pay it forward” kind of things toward people they would normally ignore. They were thrilled at how good it felt to get out of their own groups and get to know or do something nice for someone they would normally not associate with.

I loved going to a class every day filled with teenagers! Can you imagine? I could not wait to get there to hear what they were going to say next. Teenagers are supposed to be difficult, ill-mannered, little creeps who are hard to get along with and even harder to understand. Self absorbed, eye rolling irritants, snotty…you know all of the labels.  I’m sure they have their moments, but I was proven absolutely wrong on more occasions that I can count. I had to hold back tears of joy numerous times because I was so shocked by some of their responses to our projects. I was absolutely floored at the depth of their feelings and thoughts.

The crab for my lunch today comes from two of those students. Every year their family heads to the Pacific coast to go crabbing. They have the funnest family I have ever metThey are all extremely close and loving and live for fun.

Crab Stuffed Artichokes

4 Organic Baby Artichokes, steamed and cooled middle leaves removed

About 1 Heaping Cup of Fresh Crab Meat

About 2 Tablespoons Organic Red Bell Pepper, diced

About 2 Tablespoons Organic Red Onion, sliced

1 Organic Avocado, diced

About 2 1/2 teaspoons Organic Dried Dill

About 5-6 Tablespoons Olive Oil Mayonnaise

Juice of 1 Lemon

Kosher Salt & Freshly Ground Pepper To Taste

Mix all ingredients together (except the artichokes of course!). Chill and spoon into the middle of the baby artichokes.

Here’s a silly picture of me, my husband, and Brandon, at one of the girl’s 21st birthday parties in the “photo booth” area.

Stephanie’s 21st birthday…time flies.

Stephanie is outgoing and sweet and comfortable in her own skin. I love that about her. At her party  one of her friends was talking about getting eyelash extensions because she doesn’t like the length of hers. Stephanie looked at her, shrugged her shoulders in an “oh well” kind of way, giggled, and said, “I like my eyelashes!” I could have jumped up and hugged her. I’m happy she likes who she is.

So Sunday, Stephanie’s sister, Morgan, surprised me with a text asking if I would like some crab. Are you kidding? Of course!

This is Morgan, picking out the best crabs!

Not only does she share beautiful fresh crabs from the Pacific with me, she’s also an excellent house sitter, cat feeder, and plant waterer. Morgan is solid. She’s well thought out, organized, extremely thoughtful, and has an impressive shoe collection.  She’s also shy and quiet and I’m thankful that doesn’t stop her from coming over and chatting with me every now and then.

What an incredible blessing it is to have people in your life who think of you. All of this learning, life experience, friendship, and wonderful memories…

just from a little volunteer job.

Fried Chicken Livers & Smashed Potatoes with Pan Gravy


A meal like this is just where all of those bacon drippings you’ve been hoarding come in handy. You do that too, right?

This is how I keep my bacon drippings in the fridge. It lasts a very, very, long time and then you always have it handy for those special occasions when you’re making something extra delicious.

You MUST have a splatter lid when frying the chicken livers. Number one, because it makes clean up of your stove much easier, and number two and most importantly, because you do not want exploding chicken liver all over your kitchen ceiling. You need a splatter guard, which is a mesh screen, because if you cover the liver with a lid, it won’t crisp.

When you flip the livers, hold the screen in front of you and your face. Hot bacon grease and exploding chicken liver is painful.

Fried Chicken Livers

1 Container of Chicken Livers, organic if possible, rinsed

Organic Almond Milk

1 Organic Egg

Mama’s All Purpose Almond Flour

Organic Garlic Powder

Kosher Salt

Freshly Ground Pepper

Bacon Grease/Drippings (from all natural bacon)

First, let’s remind ourselves that this is a special meal. An indulgence meal…I only make it about once a year. So we won’t be counting calories or worrying about our hips and thighs. We will simply enjoy the comfort and memories of childhood that these types of meals bring with them.

Melt a generous amount of bacon grease in a large skillet. I used about two heaping serving spoons full.

In a medium dish or dinner plate, add about 1 cup or so of the flour and generously season with the garlic powder, kosher salt, and freshly ground pepper. Remember, it’s just a dredge so the majority of the coating stays on the plate. You want what ends up stuck to the liver to be flavorful!

Pour about 1/2 cup almond milk into a cereal sized bowl and whisk in the egg.

Once the bacon grease is heated on medium to medium high, dip each chicken liver into the milk and egg mixture and then into the flour mixture. Coat well, shake off, and lay carefully into the bacon grease.

Cover with the splatter shield. Allow to brown thoroughly before flipping. I would say about 6-7 minutes on each side or more, depending on the heat in your pan.

Smashed Potatoes with Pan Gravy

Both the smashed potatoes (basically the lazy cousin of the mashed potato) and the pan gravy are a no brainer. I’ll just give you the ingredients that I used. You can go here for pan gravy instructions if you’ve never made it. It’s SO easy!

Organic Yukon Gold Potatoes, skin on

Almond Milk

Dairy Free Butter

Kosher Salt

For the pan gravy:

Leave drippings in the pan

Mama’s All Purpose Almond Flour

Dairy Free Butter

Organic Chicken Broth

Kosher Salt

Freshly Ground Pepper