Firemen & a Fabulous Dessert

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We had a visit from the fire department on Tuesday morning.

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Our fire alarms started and the automated system was saying, “fire, fire, fire”. We searched and searched and couldn’t figure out where this supposed fire was burning. After 25 minutes, some very freaked out dogs, and no sign of fire…the alarms were still blaring. Fearful that there was an electrical fire within a wall somewhere in the house I made a call to the fire department after calling the construction supervisor of our neighborhood to see if he had any ideas.

Dairy Free Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Base with Coconut Milk & Maple Syrup

Dairy Free Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Base with Coconut Milk & Maple Syrup

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The fire department of course told me to call 911. Which I felt uncomfortable doing because there wasn’t a fire, but did it anyway. Meanwhile, the construction supervisor showed up and began removing all of the alarms one by one. In every single room and hallway.

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The noise was deafening. I’ve never heard fire alarms blare so loudly.

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We’ll certainly never sleep through them if we have a fire in the middle of the night. In fact, the people in the town next to us won’t either. Dogs were moved to the garage where there aren’t any fire alarms. (I made a mental note of that fact.)  Abigail rested quietly on her dog bed in Tony’s “man cave” area of the garage while Romeo hid behind the truck, shaking like it was the end of the world.

The Beginnings of a Honey & Coconut Milk Caramel Sauce

The Beginnings of a Honey & Coconut Milk Caramel Sauce

So the fireman arrived. Extremely friendly and very good looking as all firemen are. Of course we had just returned from walking the dogs and I was dressed in exercise clothing, sweaty, and didn’t have a stitch of makeup on. They searched high and low and used some fancy equipment to test for hot spots in the walls, smoke, and any sign of gas leakage.

Nothing.

A Low Boiling For 7 Minutes.

A Low Boiling For 7 Minutes.

The construction superintendent assured us his electrician would be here at 1:00 PM and then he exited the house as quickly as he came to probably try to recover what was left of his hearing.

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The firemen assured us there wasn’t anything fishy going on. And then they were off to battle real emergencies. We were left wondering if our system really works, and pondering questions like, “how safe are we really?”

  But at least it was quiet again.

Sitting Out At Room Temperature Until Cooled.

Sitting Out At Room Temperature Until Cooled.

Well, 1:00 PM rolled around, then 2:00, then 3:30, then 4:30. I’m sensing a pattern in this neighborhood with the “construction” people and their inability to look at their watches. So I called the construction superintendent and left him a voicemail to let him know that his electrician never showed up.

After A Night of Refrigeration. Glorious!!

After A Night of Refrigeration. Glorious!!

He returned my call to let me know he had sent a text to my husband two and half hours earlier to let him know it would need to be rescheduled to Wednesday morning. My husband was upstairs in his office. Of course he didn’t let me know about the text until 2 1/2 hours later…right after I called the construction superintendent in my mother voice. I wondered quietly to myself how they get through life with such a glaring lack of communication skills.

I Really Wanted Fluted Edges So Baked The Cake In A Tart Pan. The Half Full One Will Be Saved For Non-Guests Only and Late Night Snacks.

I Really Wanted Fluted Edges So Baked The Cake In A Tart Pan. The Half Full One Will Be Saved For Non-Guests Only and Late Night Snacks.

So along comes Wednesday, which was my 46th birthday and the reason for the fabulous dessert. The electrician showed up in the morning, late of course, but he did show up. And as I had guessed, after checking all of the alarms and the electrical, had absolutely no clue as to why they went off the day before.

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Then he actually asked me for the fire alarm manual. Which he then read out loud to us along with 1,000 meanings as to why they flash a red light every 30 seconds, randomly, or continually and when the green light is going to be on and why, and how to reset them….and on and on and on.

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At that point I had checked out. I had enough of late people and no answers and was annoyed quite frankly by the very presence of multiple men who don’t know what they are doing.

A Taste Test of The Half Full Cake.

A Taste Test of The Half Full Cake.

So as I stood there in physical form, my brain had checked out and instead of listening to a grown man read me instructions that I could easily read myself, I sent thank you notes on Facebook to people who were wishing me a happy birthday. Smart phones and Facebook…the all natural relaxation remedy. Amen.

I Placed The Cake in A Cake Dish To Steam To Assure It Would Remain Moist.

After cooling for 15 minutes, I Placed The Cake in A Cake Dish To Steam To Assure It Would Remain Moist.

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 So the electrician left and we had no answers as usual.

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We moved on to enjoy a very pleasant birthday lunch with my mother in law and our son. I made simple chicken and vegetable kabobs and a coleslaw salad. We finished with a flourless cake, coconut milk ice cream, and an impressive dairy free caramel sauce made with organic raw honey.

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Romeo had been ill all day (intestinally) and we figured it was from the stress of the alarms the prior day, considering flies and bees will send him running for cover. But by afternoon, it hadn’t stopped. And then vomiting and panting began. At 5 minutes to 5:00 I called the vet to see what to do. They were closing in 5 minutes and said we needed to take him to the emergency vet on the other side of town because the combination of diarrhea, vomiting, and panting is serious business. So off Brandon and I went. Tony had to submit some paperwork for something or other to someone so he didn’t accompany us.

Absolutely Fabulous Vanilla Bean Coconut Milk Ice Cream.

Absolutely Fabulous Vanilla Bean Coconut Milk Ice Cream.

The vet visit turned out fine, nothing horrible thank God… besides the bill of course. $700.00 for blood work and x-rays to make sure nothing of extreme emergency was going on. The doctor said that Romeo’s blood work was SO fantastic that he actually had never seen test results so great. They gave him an anti nausea injection, an antibiotic injection, sent us home with antibiotic pills and recommend ice chips and water for the rest of the night. They also had no answers and figured that he had “eaten or drank something on our walk the previous day that didn’t agree with him”.  After I paid that horrific bill I then felt nauseated and wondered why they didn’t send me home with a prescription included in that price, or at least a cocktail.

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So at 7:30 PM after being up and on my feet since 4:00 AM, I dropped the kiddo off at his house who was kind enough to come with me, even though he had been suffering from a terrible headache all day.

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I then hauled Romeo home, but not before sitting in front of the gate to our neighborhood trying to find the stupid code I had typed in my notes area of my phone. I finally arrived in our garage just in time to have the fact pointed out to me, that the gate opener to the neighborhood was right above my head, on the visor in the truck, all along.

Upon walking in the house I was faced with the luncheon mess that hadn’t cleaned itself up and kitchen that needed cleaning.

I cleaned the kitchen and dining room, ate leftover chicken and vegetables for a late dinner in front of my computer, and thanked all of the amazing people on my friends list who had sent me the most heart-felt, loving, birthday notes that made me cry.

I slathered myself in Lavender oil, and went to bed.

I prayed for rest, and thanked God that Romeo wasn’t suffering from anything serious, said my thank yous that our house was still standing and my health is still holding, and finally… that I had made it through another year.

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Flourless Chocolate Cake

A light and airy texture, but not as intense or moist as I would have liked. Still delicious and very good with the ice cream and caramel sauce. Next time I will experiment with more coconut oil and more chocolate.

(Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cakes)

3 Tablespoons of Raw Unrefined Organic Coconut Oil

6 ounces of 70%  Dark Belgian Chocolate, chopped

6 Large Organic Eggs, yokes and whites separated

1 Cup of Organic Coconut Sugar Crystals

1 teaspoon of Instant Coffee or Espresso Powder (decaf is fine!)

A Pinch of Iodized Sea Salt

2 teaspoons of Pure Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees (I use convection). Line the bottoms of 2 tart pans or one 9 inch cake pan with parchment paper and rub the paper and pans with coconut oil. Place the 3 Tablespoons of coconut oil and chopped chocolate in a small glass bowl over a steaming pan of hot water. Stir until combined and fully melted. 

Remove bowl from steaming pan, wipe bottom of bowl with a towel to avoid any water dripping into the chocolate. Set aside. In the bowl of your mixer, beat the egg yolks and 1/2 cup of coconut crystals on medium high until thick and fluffy and crystals have dissolved completely.  Add the instant coffee or espresso powder, salt, and beat until combined and coffee has dissolved. Add the vanilla and slowly drizzle the melted chocolate mixture and beat for about 1 minute until combined.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites and a pinch of salt until foamy. Increase beating to high and slowly add the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar crystals in small batches. Continue beating on high until stiff peak. Gently fold the egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture in multiple batches. I did three. Pour batter evenly in one 9 inch pan or 2 tart pans. 

Bake at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until middle is just set when jiggled. Cool and cover until ready to serve. I warmed ours slightly (15-20 seconds) before topping with ice cream and caramel sauce.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with Coconut Milk & Pure Maple Syrup

So far, this is my favorite dairy free ice cream recipe…and I have tried several. The egg yolks make all the difference!

(Adapted from Against All Grain)

27 ounces of Full Fat Organic BPA Free Coconut Milk

3 Large Vanilla Beans, slit and scraped

1/2 Cup Pure Maple Syrup (Use New Hampshire or Vermont, they’re the best!)

4 Organic Egg Yolks

2 teaspoons of Pure Vanilla Extract

In a cold saucepan add the coconut milk, vanilla pods and scrapings, maple syrup, and egg yolks. Whisk to combine. Heat over medium low, stirring constantly until the mixture coats the back of the spoon, about 10-15 minutes. Do not let boil.

Transfer to a large, shallow dish, allow to cool for 10 minutes. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on liquid to prevent condensation and refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours. I always refrigerate over night. When chilled, remove the vanilla pods, pour the liquid into an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. I use the ice cream attachment for my KitchenAid mixer. LOVE it.

When it reaches a thick soft serve consistency, spoon into an airtight container and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the ice cream under the lid to prevent freezer burn. 

Allow the ice cream to sit at room temperature for 10-20 minutes before serving with an ice cream scoop.

Dairy Free Caramel Sauce

This  has a delicious intense honey flavor with the consistency of caramel. Wonderful!

(Adapted from Against All Grain)

1 Cup of Raw Organic Honey

3 Tablespoons of Spectrum Shortening 

1 Cup of Organic BPA Free Full Fat Coconut Milk

1/2 teaspoon of Iodized Sea Salt

Boil the honey on medium heat in a deep saucepan. Simmer for 5-7 minutes swirling the pan occasionally to ensure even browning. Remove from heat and carefully whisk in the shortening, coconut milk, and salt. Return to heat and continue cooking for 15 minutes stirring occasionally to ensure the coconut milk doesn’t scorch on the bottom of the pan. You may need to lower heat slightly.

Pour into a glass container and allow to cool at room temperature, uncovered. Chill in refrigerator over night before serving. Will keep refrigerated for 2 weeks.

*When I checked it in the morning, the honey had slightly separated at the bottom of the glass dish and the caramel sauce seemed too thick. I stirred it thoroughly with a spoon put it back in the fridge for a bit and it turned out fabulous! Hasn’t separated since.

A Week In The Circus

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Do you ever reach Sunday and feel so thankful that your week has come to an end? I don’t feel like that often, but this week has definitely been “one of those” weeks. Kind of felt like we were the ringmasters of a three-ring circus.

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This morning’s breakfast was organic creamy buckwheat hot cereal. Buckwheat is actually a fruit seed related to rhubarb and sorrel, not a grain like many people think. I added organic unsweetened almond milk, organic nectarine, organic cinnamon, organic walnuts, and a tad bit organic raw honey.

A few unsavory things transpired this week that we had to deal with, but the highlight of our delightful week?

My husband was let go from his new job along with over 100 other employees including his boss who had been with the company for 17 years. His boss was informed 20 minutes before my husband who had worked for that company for 3 months was informed. They brought in a new CEO and that person revamped the company’s sales force and gave three-quarters of them their walking papers. If you have any experience with the corporate world, you know unfortunately, this is not unusual. Business is business. And business in this day and age is not what business was like “in the good old days” where you devoted your expertise to one company who was equally loyal to you for your entire career. So now we begin a new journey (another one!), trusting that everything most certainly happens for a reason and for our good. Prayers for stress protection for both of us and employment opportunities for Tony would certainly be welcomed if you feel it in your heart to add us to your prayer list.

We chose a see through fence along the backside of the property as it is owned by the county and not allowed to be used for housing.

We chose a see through fence along the backside of the property as it is owned by the county and not allowed to be used for housing.

As you can see we’re still staring at a backyard full of dirt. We switched landscapers after getting a rather frightening quote from the first guy. We had to put off the landscaping for three weeks with guy #2 but the price was worth the wait and we didn’t have to set aside any landscaping ideas like we would have with guy #1.

Even with the dirt backyard, watching the sunrise and breakfasts on the deck are delightful. A peaceful blessing!

Even with the dirt backyard, watching the sunrise and breakfasts on the deck are delightful. A peaceful blessing!

Our experience with the fence company has been…problematic. They didn’t show up two days in a row when they said they would. I had to make a call in my serious mother voice in order to get them out here. Then, we had to have one of the posts removed so the landscapers would be able to get into the backyard with their equipment. When the fence people were removing it with a borrowed piece of machinery from the builders next door, they destroyed the post. Then when they were backing up…destroyed another one. I kind of had to chuckle after all of that. What’s left to do?

And of course, they were the more expensive gate posts. Prior to this happening, my husband came in from out of town and realized they had cracked our bran new driveway with their big truck when there was plenty of room for them to avoid the driveway all together. Not a good situation. Thankfully, the posts will be fixed (not on our dime), the driveway has been “patched” although not to my husband’s satisfaction, and fingers crossed, they’ll hang all the gates properly when the landscaping is finished.

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They hung a temporary gate while our gate is being powder coated to keep the dogs from roaming. However, they left an 8 foot gap in the fence on the other side and didn’t hang anything temporary as discussed. At this point, I just had to shake my head. Such lack of attention to detail. Then I noticed several of the fence boards are dented and scratched. So I had to make another call in my serious mother voice and have them come out again to hang the orange temporary mesh and remove the posts they dug out of the holes and just left lying in the yard in the path of the landscapers. We were told to place painter’s tape on the damaged fence boards and they’ll be replaced.

We went with a 5 foot fence on this side of the house as no building will be permitted their either.

We went with a 5 foot fence on this side of the house as no building will be permitted there either.

Abigail is mortified that she has to pee in dirt. She stands in the middle of the “yard” and looks back at us like, “you want me to pee in THIS?”  Romeo is fine with it and has found it quite entertaining to jump around smacking his paws in the dirt and making huge dust clouds.

Abigail and I would never make it in the old west.  Dust…ugh. Notice the cat is on the inside of the screen. We hadn’t realized she was out the other night and spent the entire night outside and then the entire next day in a window well that she was too old to get herself out of. She’s typically a grumpy, snobby cat, but after that adventure, I noticed she was quite happy to see me and be back inside the comfort of a home full of self feeding cat dishes and kitty treats.

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That’s what’s happening in our neck of the woods. Never a dull moment with us. Looking forward to an uneventful Sunday a peaceful week ahead, and wishing you the same!

Tuna & Sauerkraut on Paleo Herb Bread

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No, I’m not pregnant.

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We can all breathe a collective sigh of relief over that one. That would be quite the surprise for my upcoming 46th birthday, wouldn’t it?

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Nope, not pregnant but I am craving some interesting things. I told you a few posts ago that I was going to be tweaking my diet some more and trying to battle the Lyme Disease symptoms with food.

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I can tell you that going off of all grains and refined sugar (except for extremely special occasions) makes you crave some interesting things. Like sauerkraut and tuna fish, for some reason.

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I started a Paleo diet last Monday. Today I had finally hit my limit of protein, vegetables, and fruit. So I grabbed my new Against All Grain cookbook and set out to see if I could find something I could sink my teeth into that didn’t crunch, moo, or cluck.

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I found a recipe for her hamburger buns. A little tweaking, and I had the perfect “bread” snack.  I made three little mini sandwich loaves. Lowered the salt, added lots of herbs, and came up with this.

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The reason I’m choosing to try the Paleo (ish) diet is because it is supposed to be very helpful in preventing inflammation, something people with Lyme Disease really struggle with. Inflammation can wreak terrible havoc on your body in so many ways.

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Fermented foods are also excellent for inflammation and the gut.

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And if you haven’t tried Trader Joe’s Skipjack Line Caught Tuna, you should. It’s delicious.

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Add a little olive oil mayo, a little dill, some ground pepper…yummy.

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Then slather the bread with horseradish mustard. So many bold flavors!

But not so bold they outweigh each other.

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I would say the texture is in between bread and a biscuit if that’s possible. Very tasty and stayed together quite nicely until the last couple of bites. I would say it’s probably best if you’re going to use it for a sandwich to use it the day you bake it. Otherwise, it will probably need to be toasted to stay together.

It did satisfy my grain craving. For today anyway.

I’ve already been thinking I may bake a batch in the morning without the herbs. I’m thinking it would be delicious warm with whipped coconut oil and medicinal honey.

I’ll let you know!

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Mini Herb Sandwich Loaves

1 1/2 Cups Raw Organic Cashews

3 Organic Eggs

3/4 teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar

1/4 Cup Organic Unsweetened Almond Milk

1/4 Cup Spectrum Shortening

1/3 Cup Coconut Flour

1/3 Cup Blanched Almond Flour

1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt

1 teaspoon Baking Soda

1 1/2 teaspoons Fresh Rosemary, chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons Fresh Thyme, chopped

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 Tablespoon Almond Milk – for brushing on tops of loves

Braggs Organic Sprinkle – for seasoning tops of loaves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Place the cashews in a food processor and process until ground into course crumbs, about 20 seconds.

Add the eggs, vinegar, almond milk, and shortening. Process until smooth. Add the flours, salt, and baking soda. Process again until smooth. Spoon into three even mounds on parchment paper and smooth into loves with wet hands.

Brush tops of loaves with almond milk and sprinkle with the Bragg’s seasoning. Bake for 35 minutes. 

Vegan Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

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Paleo Chocolate Chip Peppermint Ice Cream

Paleo Chocolate Chip Peppermint Ice Cream

I absolutely love cookbooks. Don’t you?

 When I buy a new cookbook, I go through it page by page and place a sticky note on the recipes that interest me. My cookbooks get dog-eared, spilled on, written in. You know…used properly.

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 Against All Grain has a lot of delicious looking and interesting recipes.

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A few days ago I made her banana bread. Yesterday I made a tweaked version of her mint chocolate chip ice cream. SO easy.

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If you don’t have an ice cream maker and you own a Kitchenaid mixer, I would highly recommend the ice cream maker attachment. You pop it in your freezer over night, attach it to the mixer, and in 20 minutes you have soft serve ice cream. Leave it in longer and it will become more solid or you can put the ice cream in your freezer and it will firm up in a couple of hours.

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Paleo/ Vegan Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

1 13.5 ounce can of full fat coconut milk

1/2 Cup of organic raw honey

2 Cups of  organic unsweetened almond milk

1 1/4 teaspoons of pure peppermint extract

1/2 Cup of ripe organic avocado

1 Tablespoon of melted organic unrefined coconut oil

3/4 Cup of Enjoy Life chocolate chips (you can also use chopped dark chocolate)

Measure the coconut milk into a small saucepan and heat until bubbles form around the perimeter of the pan. Remove from heat and whisk in the honey. Stir in the almond milk and the peppermint extract. Pour into a bowl and place in the refrigerator to chill for 4 hours.

Pour the chilled mixture into a blender and add the avocado, blend until smooth. Pour in an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. When it reaches a soft serve consistency (or a bit thicker), stir in the chocolate chips, spoon into a freezer safe container and freeze for about two hours. If you’re going to eat it later, let it defrost in the fridge for 1 hour before serving.

Look at the sunrise this morning. Pretty neat coming over that hill. Bright orange though because there’s also a fire in the mountains nearby. Right now it’s not threatening any houses, let’s hope it stays that way.

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Notice anything else? Besides the clouds of dirt billowing up behind the dogs….

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You guessed it. The fence guys didn’t show up yesterday. After a kind but direct phone call to them this morning, I’ve been told they’ll arrive this afternoon. We’ll see.

Luckily I had other things to occupy my mind and hands instead of fuming over the fence last night. I made the ice cream and then I potted and added some tall plants with the help of our son, to the “formal” living room and several other plants around the house. I put formal in parenthesis because we are anything but formal. Ha. We like to be relaxed and comfortable.

So much more cozy with the addition of more greenery. I read online that a minimum of 15 plants are required for optimal house air health. We have far exceeded that amount, so bring on the healthy air!

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When we looked at this house (several times before deciding to buy it), I was concerned about all of the dark colors. Dark floors, cabinets, doors and moldings, carpet, counter tops, tile, bathroom counters, etc. It’s a big difference from the bright and lightly colored house we had in New Hampshire.

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But now that we’re getting settled in, I love the rich, dark, colors.

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The open floor plan on this level allows for plenty of light throughout the day. I’m really enjoying the quartz counter tops. So easy to work with and take care of.

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 That’s all for now. I’m feeling like I may need a nap but instead I’m off to figure out something for dinner and maybe work on a good paleo bread recipe.

Hope you’re having a happy Wednesday! See you soon ~ April

Settling In

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Good morning!

Have you tried Chia seeds? They’re on my list of  new favorite things. I put them in my morning smoothies or add them to dairy free yogurt. But really, you can add them to anything, even a water bottle. Just hop on to Pinterest, and you’ll find all kinds of neat uses for them.

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They have a tiny crispness. They can gel with water for an egg substitute for baking. You can make jam with them and forgo the pectin. They make an interesting pudding, and best of all, they taste good…not gross and they’re extremely good for you.

My favorite dish as of late: stir fried broccoli and cauliflower with olive oil, sea salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. SO GOOD. You won’t believe it. Light and aldente, a tiny bit spicy, and perfectly, simply, easy. I have no idea why this picture is so small, I took it with my phone…but I promise it’s delicious.

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The third thing on my new favorites list? Turmeric milk. Sounds gross, but is extremely good for the healing of your tummy and for inflammation. Super easy too. You can go here to Melissa Ramos’ website for the recipe. You’ll love her, she’s hilarious.

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We are getting settled into the house now. What a relief! Everything is unpacked, put away in an organized fashion, and the house is mostly decorated. Minus curtains, but we do have blinds installed for privacy at night and sun protection during the day. Curtains always throw me for a loop. I never know if I like them or need them, or not.

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We have beautiful molding around the windows, I’d hate to hide that. But they do seem to be missing that “something”. We’ll see.

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This house has 5 bedrooms and 3 1/2 bathrooms, yet is still smaller than the house we had in NH. I was hoping it would take me less time to clean it. Having construction going on around us makes for a lot of dust and it took me several hours to clean the house from top to bottom yesterday. I need to find a routine so I’m not spending one entire day of my week cleaning house. Maybe 1-800-Maids? Ha.

They installed the fence posts last week .

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The rest of the fence was supposed to go up “yesterday…maybe today”.  I say supposed to because in the construction world, I’ve noticed time is relative.

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Time for me is concrete and when someone says they’ll be here to install our fence on a certain day, shockingly, I expect them to be here on that day.  They didn’t show up yesterday of course. It’s 9:30 AM right now and supposed to be 101 degrees today. It will be interesting to see what time they do end up rolling in… If it were me, I would rather install a fence in the morning when it’s 70 degrees than in the afternoon when it’s 100 degrees. But what do I know.

We’ve gone from a HUGE backyard in NH to a more reasonable size. It’s nice and private though which makes it feel a bit bigger. All the land behind us and to the right of us has been deeded to the county for walking trails with the stipulation that no houses will be built. It’s a gorgeous, wide open view. We love it.

So far we’ve seen lots of deer including babies, hawks, doves,  and have heard coyotes close by at night. The coyotes drive the dogs crazy and have made for some restless nights for us. I’m hoping they’ll move on and get as annoyed with the dogs barking and growling as we have.

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The landscaping for the back yard and side yard will start next week. Although the quote we received was astronomical as I had guessed it would be. Still made me gasp and shake my head in disbelief. Clearly, we’re in the wrong business. We had to move to plan B and set aside a couple of our more grandiose ideas for a later date. I’ll be SO thankful to be rid of the dirt. It’s been hot here, very hot. That makes the dirt fluffy and powdery and perfect for sticking to dogs and then to floors, and then to my feet which really grosses me out.

This is the beginning of the stormy sunset off the front porch the other night. I’ve missed the Washington sunsets.

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I received my co-infections testing results the other day. Negative!  It can mean a couple of different things, but for now I’m looking at it as a major blessing. If I was infected years ago, which I believe I was around 2009, then it’s possible I was “lucky” enough to have been bitten by a tick that only had the Borrelia Burgdorferi bacteria and wasn’t infected with the numerous co-infection bacterias. The Borrelia is bad enough on its own, no need for extra problems. If I was infected in New Hampshire last year, then it is possible that I do have co-infections but my body has not had time to create anti-bodies and they aren’t showing up in my bloodwork yet. I choose to believe the first scenario until if and when, someone can prove me wrong.

Soon I’ll need to get down to brass tacks and seek out a Lyme Disease professional. We need to figure out why I’m still symptomatic and what to do about it. That’s where all the controversy begins of course. Should make for an interesting journey. Right now I’m able to keep my most uncomfortable symptoms at bay with the use of Vimovo. An anti-inflammatory prescription drug that is combined with something to protect the tummy and pretty close to a miracle worker. I’ve been able to drop the dose from 2 a day to 1 a day with the help of turmeric, cinnamon, chia seeds, medicinal honey, blueberries, and tart cherry juice. Sometimes I flare up and have to go back to taking 2 for a couple of days but overall, it’s being controlled to a point where I can function properly on most days.

I’m also doing a no grains trial. I hate to say Paleo, but I suppose that’s what it is in today’s language. Extremely low sugar, no grains, lots of veggies and healthy fruits. Coconut flour and almond meal in place of grain flours. It’s likely that because I’m already allergic to gluten and dairy that I have other allergens lurking that are causing joint issues along with the Lyme Disease.

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Grains and sugar are both major inflammatories, so aren’t helpful when it comes to joint pain and swelling. We’ll see. I can’t see myself ever being 100% “Paleo”. But I am going to reduce the amount of inflammatory foods in my diet. I’d say 80/20 or 90/10 seems like a reasonable ratio.

I made this paleo banana bread day before yesterday. Quite tasty and extremely moist. Fluffier than the dense banana bread I’m used to, but delicious none the less. You can find the recipe here.

Today I’m making paleo mint chocolate chip ice cream. I’ll let you know tomorrow how it turned out.

That’s what’s going on in my neck of the woods. My goal is to blog more often and kick this once a month posting thing to the curb. I have tons of recipes planned for you and now that things are slowing down, I should be able to get back on track.

Have a great day and I’ll talk to you soon!

Did You Think I Had Gotten Lost?

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I can hardly believe my last blog post was a month ago.

How time flies!

Father's Day desserts ready to go in the oven. Mixed fruit pies with streusel topping.

Father’s Day desserts ready to go in the oven. Mini Mixed fruit pies with streusel topping.

In case you missed the last couple of posts, we are back home in Washington state. I cannot even begin to explain how good it feels to be able to spend time with our son whenever we want!

A very, VERY, happy mama.

A very, VERY, happy mama.

How surreal it is to think that we spent the last almost two years in New Hampshire. I’m not sure why it feels surreal to me, but it does.

The dogs are equally happy to be back home with Brandon!

The dogs are equally happy to be back home with Brandon!

The cats at my mom's house however...not as happy to see the dogs as the dogs were to see them.

The cats at my mom’s house however…not as happy to see the dogs as the dogs were to see them.

The oddest thing I notice is that I only miss two things about New Hampshire. Our huge bathtub that was surrounded by windows, and my favorite restaurant in Boston that has an amazing gluten-free menu, Legal Seafood.

Seriously, I miss nothing else.

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Strange because I loved so much about New England while we were there.

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Now that we’re back home and I’m able to spend all the time I want with our son and my mom, enjoy a city and all it has to offer, and have the convenience of good organic grocery stores… I can’t quite believe I made it almost two years so far away from family and city life.

Mixed fruit salad with brown sugar and lime juice dressing.

Mixed fruit salad with brown sugar and lime juice dressing.

I suppose the good thing is, I proved to myself that I’m able to adapt. Because while I certainly am extremely happy being back in Washington around my family, I wasn’t unhappy in New Hampshire.  And, I survived living 2700 miles away from our only child.

Yay me…Ha!

Marinated chicken skewers and marinated steak and onion skewers.

Marinated chicken skewers and marinated steak and onion skewers.

But I will tell you, there would have to be some extreme or unusual life circumstances for me to ever agree to something like that again. Life is just too short to live so far from the people you love.

We hit the ground running when we arrived in our hometown. We looked at numerous houses that all got the thumbs down, and right when I thought there was no hope of finding anything close to what we were looking for, we finally settled on something we could both agree on. All papers should be signed and sealed and we’ll be moved in (fingers crossed) by the end of this month. It’s new construction so after the move in, we’ll focus on fencing and landscaping. One of my favorite things in the world to do is fiddle around in the yard and garden. I’m hoping I can get my hands dirty at least a little bit before we run out of summer.

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Life has been crazy and we keep waiting for it to slow down, but of course that will probably never happen, and it hasn’t all been work.

There’s been lots of visiting and hanging out, enjoyable meals with friends and family, walking the dogs on their old stomping grounds, eating at our favorite restaurants, and basically just enjoying being back home. Tony has started working again and I’ve been promised that his travel schedule will not be nearly as demanding as it was in New Hampshire. We’ll see…

A family friend recently had a baby. We arrived in town just in time to get sweet new baby cuddles.

A family friend recently had a baby. We arrived in town just in time to get sweet new baby cuddles.

The other day I went to our storage unit where our entire house is stored and dragged out all of my jewelry making supplies.

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It’s been years since I’ve made any jewelry and I spent one entire day last week fiddling around with it and watching movies.

Incredibly relaxing!

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I tested positive on my second Lyme test in NH after 2 waves of antibiotic treatment, did a third wave after we left NH, and am supposed to be resting to “boost” my immune system. Rest does make a major difference in how I feel, but as with anything, it’s easier said than done. But I’m working on it! Oh yes, and low stress is key also. I just have to laugh at that one. I’m not feeling fantastic, but things could be much worse, so I choose to focus on the now and worry about the later, later. I should be getting the test results for the Lyme co-infections testing soon. I’ll worry about that and finding a specialist when the time comes.

Until we move into the house we’re staying in our 25 foot camping trailer.

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Some people gasp and shake their heads when they hear that. As if camping is a punishment!

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It’s a lovely trailer, and has made the last month and a half feel like a perpetual vacation. It’s incredibly relaxing and I have to admit, I’m thankful to not have to clean that huge house in New Hampshire any longer!

Romeo feels quite at home.

Romeo feels quite at home.

In fact, both dogs seem perfectly comfortable.

In fact, both dogs seem perfectly comfortable.

We’re camping at a Gun Club and it has been so peaceful. A lovely, dog friendly, place to stay. This weekend there’s a giant shin dig with tons of people, but typically several days a week we have the place all to ourselves.

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Once we’re settled in the new house, I promise, promise, I’ll get back to posting regular recipes for you! My diet will be changing to boost my immune system, so you can look forward to experimenting with me and trying new things.

We’ll talk soon, and until then, many blessing to you from Gluten Free Zen!

The Road Home

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After weeks of packing and the anticipation of moving back to our home town, we finally headed out of New Hampshire on May 1st. I have to say, that even though New Hampshire is beautiful, the people are wonderful, and we enjoyed our stay there over the past almost two years, I had absolutely no regrets leaving. Not even a sprig of emotion.

We had a couple of neat stops on our 6 day trek back to Washington State. We’re in our home town now and boy does it feel wonderful. Crazy, and busy, and surreal, but amazingly wonderful. It even smells like home. I didn’t realize until we returned, that nothing in NH was familiar. Even the smells. And I didn’t realize how nice familiar is. A wonderful feeling!

Niagara Falls, NY

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Yes, that’s ice floating in the water. The east coast had what seemed to be, a never-ending winter. It was 38 degrees when we left on May 1st.

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This is looking over at the Canada side and below is a big iceberg.

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Getting closer to the wide open spaces we missed so much!

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This was our 4th trip across country by car, and the three prior trips were all done on the same route. This time I wanted to make sure we visited Niagara Falls before leaving the east coast and then we decided to head toward Wyoming and drive through Yellowstone through the east entrance. In the east entrance and out the west entrance.

It was not a disappointment, but Yellowstone never is.

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Yellowstone Lake, still frozen solid in May. In many areas around the east entrance there was still 5 feet of snow.

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A little thermal pool off to the side. I kept thinking how wonderful it would feel to slip right in there and soak for a while. However, thermal pools in Yellowstone have a very unpleasant sulfur smell. Not to mention that many of them will burn your skin off. They have warnings that tell of stories where children were walking where they shouldn’t have been, fell through the crusty layer and were burned to death.

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There were more Bison in the park than any other time I’ve visited. They are HUGE. Just their heads alone are an incredible sight.

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This time of year they are grazing and wandering around with their babies, very relaxed. Evidently come Fall, it’s rutting season and they are not pleasant to be around. One of the park officials told us, “that’s when people get gored”. Eek.

This little sweet thing was looking right at me.

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A geyser I can’t remember the name of.

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Our selfie while we waited freezing for Old Faithful to faithfully blow.

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It blew, we watched, we took pictures…then we raced back to the car to the heater and the dogs.

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Surprisingly, the park had only been open a few days, and there were still a lot more people than I would have guessed. It was fun to listen for accents and languages and try to guess where everyone was from while we tried to ignore the cold.

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This guy looked like he had a rough winter.

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You would not believe how close people were standing to this Grizzly.

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The park rangers say stay away 100 yards, but people were being people and it sure looked to me like they were a lot closer than that. Bears can sprint at over 30 miles an hour people, remember that. Yellowstone is not a zoo.

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I stood on the seat of our truck and stuck my head out the sunroof.  I’m fully aware of the fact that I can’t run anywhere near 30 miles an hour.

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This Bison looked at me so intently it made me a little nervous. But I took the majority of our pictures through the safety of the sunroof.  This time of year they meander and they could care less that the road is full of cars and people are taking pictures. But like I said, Fall may be a different story. Not only that, but if you visit in the Fall and have young ones, you may be explaining the birds and bees a little sooner than anticipated.

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We creeped along for at least 15 minutes.

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This family crossed the river. They were very cautious and slow and I was impressed that the one in front was clearly their leader and they trusted him.

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It took them about 10 minutes to cross. A neat thing to watch while we were waiting for Buffalo to make their way down the road.

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This is Earthquake Lake, located in Southwestern Montana. In the 50’s there was an earthquake and then a huge landslide that did not turn out well for many campers.

It’s beautiful now, but still kind of eerie.

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That area with the snow and no trees is the site of the landslide.

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Once we hit Montana, it was starting to feel more and more like home. Abigail couldn’t wait to get out of the car and run through the wide open spaces. In case you don’t know, New Hampshire is very dense and in the spring and summer it’s like a jungle. There are mountains, but people from the west coast would call them tall hills. Even the dogs were happy to see the mountains and get a fresh breath of wide open spaces.

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Always excited to sniff around.

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And finally, back in our home town, reunited with our favorite kid in the world.

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The dogs were elated to be back on their old stomping grounds.

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Happy, happy, happy.

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Organic Breakfast Salad

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Good Morning!

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We are up to our ear lobes in boxes around the house and looking forward to the moving company’s arrival next week. We’re leaving a month before our house sale closes and praying that everything goes smoothly. 

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I’ve been trying to adhere to an anti-inflammatory diet at least 5 days a week. Breakfast is a tough one. I’m lowering my intake of eggs, grains, and heavy animal protein as much as possible.  Easter threw me for a loop with turkey, stuffing with bacon, mashed potatoes, giblet gravy, and berry crisp with coconut ice cream (all of my favorites!). Then of course, we had to have leftovers last night for dinner because it was just so delicious on Easter. Lots of salt, sugar, and other foods that inflame.

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So this morning I’m back to healthier eating. Since the whole Lyme Disease thing started in October I’ve been having increasing issues with major joint pain and arthritis. The doctor prescribed the anti inflammatories Diclofenac and Celebrex for me to try. Although I hate taking any type of medication and prefer to go with natural remedies, the pain from this arthritis and the swelling of joints doesn’t always make that possible. I prefer the Diclofenac. The Celebrex made me feel weird and didn’t work at all for the pain. I try to only take the Diclofenac for 3-4 days and then go off for a week or as long as I can stand it because it can be very hard on your stomach. But the key is to not allow the arthritis pain to get too bad because then it takes more medication to get it under control.

Along with trying to stay away from foods that cause inflammation and lessening my intake of animal protein, I’m also doing other natural remedies that are known to be helpful for arthritis. In the mornings I drink Organic Lemon Verbena Tea with medicinal honey to boost my immune system and fight bad bacteria. I made a fresh batch of turkey bone broth yesterday, and I also take high quality supplements daily. A multi vitamin/mineral, 8,000 IU’s of Vitamin D3, a probiotic, and a supplement for adrenal support.

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 I try my hardest to drink 90 ounces of filtered water every day, and every night I take two Tablespoons of Organic Tart Cherry Juice Concentrate before bed. Tart cherries also have the added benefit of natural melatonin which aids in sleep. And it tastes delicious, which is a nice change from most supplements.

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That’s what’s going on in my neck of the woods. More packing to be done today. Hope you all have a wonderful day and if you have any arthritis remedies that work well for you, please share!

Organic Breakfast Salad

Organic Spinach

Organic Apple

Organic Strawberries

Organic Blueberries

Small Portion of Organic Turkey Breast

Organic Walnuts

Organic Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice

Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

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Pure & Simple Organic Body Lotion

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There is some controversy in the allergen world about beauty products.

There’s basically two schools of thought.

The first, is that it’s perfectly safe to use your food allergens like gluten and dairy on your skin. I’ve read all kinds of posts where people are touting that they have no negative outcome from doing so. 

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This includes body lotion, soap, face lotions and washes, and make up. They believe little, if anything, is absorbed through your skin and into your blood stream.

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The second school of thought is much different. They know that your skin is your largest organ and considering that people wear hormone patches, drug patches, allergy patches, slather hormone cream, cortisone and all kinds of other things on their skin prescribed by medical physicians that are meant to absorb…that our skin does in fact absorb all kinds of things and then shuffles much of it along to our blood stream and then through our liver.

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I of course reside within the second school of thought. I once read a blog where the woman said she uses absolutely nothing on her skin that she cannot eat right out of the jar. This made sense to me.

If you’re allergic to gluten and dairy or numerous other things, why would you rub them all over your largest living organ, every single day?

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Soft peaks after about 10 minutes.

There are lotions on the market that are free of dairy and gluten. However, have you ever read the ingredients list? I’m not willing to lick that off of a spoon.

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Stiff peaks after about another 10 minutes. It will end up being the consistency of butter cream frosting.

This home-made lotion is simple. Anyone can make it, it only has 2 ingredients that most of us have on hand. You can add a few drops of essential oil if you have those on hand too, but it’s not necessary if you don’t. I added a few drops of lemon and a couple of drops of peppermint.

Pure & Simple Organic Body Lotion

*Makes 2 Cups

2 Cups of  Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

1/2 Cup of Organic 100% Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

I filled a small saucepan halfway with water and set a glass bowl in the top. Bring the water almost to a boil and add the coconut oil. Stir until thoroughly melted. Remove the bowl from the hot water and allow to cool for 30 minutes. Add the olive oil. Pour the mixture into the bowl of your mixer and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Attach the whisk. Whisk the oil mixture on medium high for 10 minutes and on high for 5-8 minutes until it emulsifies and is light and fluffy. Scoop into a container with a lid and keep in a cool place in your bathroom. Apply all over your body after a warm shower or bath.

Blueberry Lemon Bread & An Early Morning Walk

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Good Morning!

Glazed Lemon Blueberry Bread is on the menu for breakfast this morning.

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I’m sure I’ve told you before how much my husband loves sweets. I’ve been trying to really reduce the sugar content in my diet since I’ve been having some health issues, which means he has had to suffer as well.

So this morning when Tony left to go on his morning run, I decided I would surprise him with a sweet bread.  What kind of wife would I be if I didn’t take pity on my poor, sugar loving, husband?

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For some reason on Saturday morning we were both filled with early morning energy and decided to hop out of bed and take the dogs for a walk.

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Red Winged Blackbird

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The Rindge/Jaffrey Rails to Trails trail has beauty at every turn.

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Everything was so calm the forest was a perfect mirrored reflection in one of the many ponds.

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Every time the Geese quacked, a little puff of breath floated through the air.

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Going for an early morning walk rather than an afternoon walk certainly paid off.

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For several weeks we’ve walked without my camera and every time I mentally pinched myself for not bringing it along. This time I made a point to remember, and was rewarded with the Great  Blue Heron.

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They usually fly away as soon as they see the dogs, but this one allowed me several shots before deciding he’d had enough. They’re so huge, it really is amazing to see them fly so gracefully.

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The walk was peaceful and beautiful, and the wildlife was stunning. They were extra patient with me and my camera, almost as if they knew I wanted a few last, very special, shots.

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We’ve seen almost every animal and water fowl  New Hampshire has to offer since we moved here with the exception of the Fisher Cat and Moose.

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And I can certainly live without seeing a Fisher Cat.

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I thought for sure with the presence of so many swampy areas that we would see at least one moose on our early morning trek, but no such luck. We have a couple of weeks before the moving company comes at the end of the month, maybe we’ll spot one before then.

Even the dogs were photogenic.

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The Bear made a visit the other night.

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It never crossed my mind that he would be interested in our bird feeders now that we have a fence.

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Silly me, bears aren’t worried about fences and only have one thing on their mind. Food.

There are big bear claw marks on a few of our trees along the back fence line. This one must be pretty light on his feet because he barely bent the thin wire fence as he climbed over.

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Luckily the vinyl fence was a quick fix, but we have yet to receive the bill, so it may not be a painless fix.

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Needless to say, all of the bird feeders have come down and have been packed away until we move back to an area where bears aren’t usually a worry.

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Plenty of exciting and beautiful things to miss when we leave New Hampshire, but the West also has a beauty all its own.

Getting excited to move in the direction of home!

Blueberry Lemon Bread with Lemon Glaze

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

2 teaspoons of Baking Powder

1 teaspoon of Xanthan Gum

1/4 teaspoon of Sea Salt

1/2 Cup of Organic Evaporated Cane Sugar

1 Cup of “Buttermilk” (1 cup almond milk with juice of 1/2 lemon)

3 Organic Eggs

1/2 Cup of Avocado Oil

4 teaspoons of Lemon Zest (about 2 lemons)

1 1/2 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

1 1/2 Cups of Organic Frozen Blueberries

Whisk all of the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Whisk all of the wet ingredients together and add to dry ingredients. Fold until fully incorporated. Fold in the frozen blueberries. Bake at 350 degrees for 65 minutes. 

Lemon Glaze

1 Cup of Powdered Sugar

1 Tablespoon of Dairy Free Butter, melted

2 teaspoons of Freshly Grated Lemon Zest

2-3 Tablespoons of Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice

Whisk in bowl and drizzle over cooled bread.