A Very Merry Christmas

21 Comments

I have such good news!

And I’m not even going to save the best for last.

DSC_7131

We are going home for Christmas!

DSC_7127

Now don’t get me wrong, we love New Hampshire.

DSC_7066

But home for me is where my mom and Brandon are.

(Not there of course, that is our shed.)

DSC_7105

So, we are packing up the dogs and driving 2,701 wintry miles home for Christmas.

DSC_6836

Spending time with my mom and our son, hugging him repeatedly and just being together…sounds like just about the perfect Christmas to me!

DSC_7135

Going home for Christmas makes me extremely happy, but there’s even more good news. I am now being treated for Lyme Disease.

It might seem kind of weird that I’m excited about this.

DSC_7146

Of course, Lyme Disease itself is not good news but the treatment of it can be.

So the goal is to feel better after 21 days on the antibiotic my doctor gave me. The results are kind of sketchy depending on how quickly you catch the infection. If it’s a new infection, then the antibiotic should handle it.

(This is our 11 ft Charlie Brown tree.)

DSC_7140

If it’s an infection from the past that we didn’t know about and I’m having a flare up, that can be a challenge to deal with. If I’m still ill at the end of the 21 days, then there will be other tests for other things as well.

But we aren’t dwelling on that right now.

DSC_7132

Each day is different as far as how I feel, so I’m learning to take each one as it comes.

DSC_7119

And although I have irritating symptoms and my body feels like that of an old lady on most days, I count any progress that I feel, as a major step in the right direction. If I’m not having a progressive day, then I think of it as just being in a holding pattern… there’s no going backward!

DSC_7138

 The past 8 weeks have been a lesson in patience and rest. I’m learning that baby steps are OK.

 And going home to see your mommy when you don’t feel well is a Christmas blessing to look forward to.

DSC_7136

So in case we don’t chat over the next couple of weeks, I’d like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a New Year full to the brim of blessings, a heart full of happiness, and a healthy body and mind.

See you soon!

~ April

DSC_7133

41 Fabulous Gluten Free & Dairy Free Breakfast Ideas For The Holidays

3 Comments

Have you decided what you’ll be making for breakfast on Christmas morning?

Just in case you haven’t, I thought it would be nice to gather all of my breakfast recipes into one place. There’s bound to be something here that will light up your taste buds and be perfect for your Christmas morning. Just click on the links!

Mixed Berry Crepes with Clementine Goat Cheese

dsc_0287

Salmon & Spinach Scramble

dsc_0108

Pumpkin Spice Smoothie

dsc_0002

Berry Scones & Bacon

dsc_0061

Cherry Braids with Almond Frosting

dsc_5577-e1376682997629

Power Packed Breakfast Granola

dsc_0087

Fried Eggs Over Potatoes & A Side Of Berries

dsc_5249

Frosted Banana Love Bites

dsc_0026

Veggie & Cheese Omelette

dsc_1075

Berry Clementine Snack Cake

dsc_0468

What’s In The Fridge Smoothie

dsc_0677

Blueberry & Walnut Banana Bread

dsc_0294

Peanut Butter Swirl Banana Muffins with Chocolate Chunks

dsc_0405

Lemon Coconut Pots De Creme

dsc_5308

Easy Granola Bars

dsc_0247

Blueberry Cornbread

dsc_0745

Going Green Smoothie

dsc_0697-e1339163414629

Anything Goes Granola

dsc_0797

Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake

dsc_1161

Because Sometimes, You Just Need To Start Your Day Off With Chocolate

dsc_1084

Banana Plum Tart

dsc_1130

Blogger’s Breakfast

dsc_1460

Apple Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread

dsc_1083

Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal with Pumpkin Spiced Almond Milk

dsc_1519

Pumpkin Pancakes with Apple Maple Compote

dsc_1553

Immune Boosting Smoothie

dsc_2821

Savory Potato Pancakes with Fried Egg and Bacon

dsc_01751

Breakfast Parfait

dsc_2984-e1359815441327

Blueberry Raspberry Corn Muffins

dsc_2950

Start Your Day Off On The Right Foot

dsc_1788

Banana Apple Muffins

dsc_1905

Pineapple Pick Me Up Smoothie

dsc_2043

Peanut Butter & Shaved Chocolate Pancakes

dsc_3335

Cinnamon Blueberry Belgian Waffles

dsc_4026

Apple Blueberry Crumbcake

dsc_4157

Crumb Cake

dsc_3458

Scandinavian Kringler

dsc_3103

Pumpkin Coffee Cake

dsc_6831

Blueberry Yogurt Muffins

dsc_6807

Twenty Nine Gluten Free & Dairy Free ~ Holiday Cookie & Candy Recipes

9 Comments

The holidays just aren’t the same in our house without our yearly traditional recipes. Each Christmas season I always tell myself I’m going to add something new to the list, but there are just those favorites that I’m not willing to give up.

Below you’ll find pictures and links to all of my traditional holiday recipes, as well as other cookies and candies I’ve made along the way that can easily be incorporated into your list of favorites if you’re looking for something new.

Pecan Pie Bars

dsc_0826

Clementine Carrot Cookies

dsc_0753

Gingerbread Snowflakes

dsc_0107

Cranberry & Pepita Bark

dsc_0026

Grandma’s Divinity

dsc_0064

Double Chocolate Chunk Rum Balls

dsc_0078

The BEST Sugar Cookie Dough 

dsc_0046

Fig Pillows

dsc_0447-e1342965566369

Clementine Shortbread

dsc_0122

Caramel Heavenlies

dsc_0351

Chokecherry & Raspberry Thumbprints

dsc_0423

Gingersnaps

dsc_0511

Triple Chocolate Cherry Brownie Bites

dsc_0614

Toasted Coconut & Pecan Haystacks

dsc_0819

Not Your Momma’s Sugar Cookie

dsc_01641

No Bake Peanut Butter Cookies

dsc_1552

Raspberry & Apricot Pie Dough Cookies

dsc_1353

Peanut Butter Balls

dsc_02241

Rum Fudge with Macadamia Nuts & Coconut

dsc_2291

Chocolate Chunk & Dried Cherry Oatmeal Cookies

dsc_2324

Pumpkin Macaroons

dsc_5872

Pumpkin Biscotti with Drizzled Belgian Chocolate

dsc_3778-e1364933813573

Wild Blueberry & Orange Bars

dsc_5221

Pecan Sandies

dsc_7085

Dark Chocolate Cherry Surprise

dsc_7099

Peanut Butter, Pretzel, & Cherry, Chocolate Clusters

dsc_07741

Orange & Sea Salt Chocolates

dsc_0764

Fruit & Nut Tea Cookies

dsc_1873

Dried Apricot & Almond Butter Granola Bars

dsc_0095

Dark Chocolate Cherry Surprise

6 Comments

DSC_7094

This candy is incredibly easy and fast to make and has a big payoff. Cherries and chocolate are a match made in Heaven and with the addition of salted pretzels and a few soft marshmallows…very tasty!

I would say from start to finish, making this candy will take you about 25 minutes, if that. Perfect for a dinner party or for decadent little holiday gifts to give to your favorite neighbors.

DSC_7096

I was running out of daylight for pictures…so the chocolate is still warm here. They will set up once they cool. The coconut oil will keep them from getting too hard.

~ Dark Chocolate Cherry Surprise ~

1 1/2 Cups of 70% Dark Belgian Chocolate, chopped

1 1/2 Tablespoons of Organic Virgin Coconut Oil

1/2 Cup of Dried Cherries, chopped

1/2 Cup of Salted Gluten Free Pretzels, broken up into small pieces

1 Cup of Miniature Marshmallows

A Tiny Amount of Sea Salt

Melt the chocolate and coconut oil slowly in a double boiler or microwave. Add the cherries, pretzels, and marshmallows and stir. Spoon into miniature foil lined candy papers. Sprinkle the tiniest amount of sea salt on top of each one. Allow to set. If you want them to set quickly, allow them to rest in the refrigerator for a half an hour.

DSC_7099

Pecan Sandies

7 Comments

DSC_7085

Pecan Sandies have been a part of my family’s traditional Christmas baking for as long as I can remember. I love how filling the house with baking scents bring back such good memories of Christmas past.

DSC_7089

The Christmas season was a very special time during my childhood. How thankful I am that I had a mother and grandmother who loved the holidays as much as I did. For many years throughout my childhood the whole family would gather at my Grandma and Grandpa’s house on Christmas Eve and stay the night so we could all open gifts together in the morning and spend the day together. Often, we would spend a couple of nights at grandma and grandpa’s, even though we all lived in the same town. I think the adults enjoyed the holiday together just as much as the children.

DSC_7074

I can’t count how many years I sneaked downstairs in the middle of the night to sit in front of the big picture window and watch the snow. Behind me would be a gorgeous tree that my grandma had decorated and draped perfectly with tinsel and the house was silent. And because we were all together, the room was filled to the brim with packages. Our stockings would always be filled with the funnest things and a mandarin orange of course.

DSC_7076

And then the food. Oh the smells, and every type of cookie, candy, pie, and traditional Christmas item you can imagine.  I used to tell my grandpa that I wanted us all to buy a huge house so we could all live together forever. After packages and breakfast it wasn’t unusual to see one or two napping here and there, others playing cards, people milling around in the kitchen. I loved the peace that came with having us all together.

DSC_7077

Times have changed of course, as they must. People have passed on, moved away, grown up. How can I complain that times have changed though when I was blessed with so many years with the people I loved so dearly and such wonderful memories?

I cherish the times I can bring back family memories even with just a simple afternoon of baking.

DSC_7080

Vegan & Gluten Free Pecan Sandies

1 1/2 Cups Dairy Free Butter

4 1/2 Cups Mama’s Almond All Purpose Gluten Free Flour

2/3 Cup Sugar

2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract

2 Cups Pecans, finely chopped

1 teaspoon Xanthan Gum

1 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar

Preheat oven to 325°. In an electric mixer add the dairy free butter and sugar. Beat until thoroughly combined and fluffy, scraping down once. Add about half of the flour and the vanilla, beat until thoroughly combined. Add the remaining flour, xanthan gum, and pecans. Mix thoroughly. Take spoonfuls of dough and roll in a ball, place on parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 17-20 minutes. Measure the powdered sugar into a medium bowl and roll the cookies while warm until coated. Cool on wire rack. Before storing, sift with another layer of powdered sugar. Store in an airtight container.

Wholesome & Happy

11 Comments

DSC_7030

I recently discovered that many of the beauty products I’ve been using have gluten. It started with my face lotion that was making my eyes puffy, my nose itch like crazy, and my face feel rashy. I sat down at my computer and researched every ingredient. Whoops…gluten. Then I went to my body lotion, lip balm, hair spray, body soap, shampoo and conditioner, toothpaste…and you guessed it, almost every single one of them had gluten. 

You can find all kinds of recipes on Pinterest for making your own body care products. Once you do a little research and get the basic idea, you can get creative using ingredients that appeal to you. You can order all of the ingredients I used on Amazon.com. I purchased all of the containers online from specialtybottle.com. I found they had the best variety and the best pricing.

DSC_6973

On Day 1 I started with a couple of easier projects so I could experiment with solid and liquid oils and essential oils. Turns out, it’s incredibly easyAnd SO much fun to create your own textures and scents.

DSC_6984

This mixture set up very quickly! As soon as it hits a cooler object it starts to set up.

DSC_6990

I made these the consistency of chap stick by just allowing them to cool in the tins. If you want a fluffier, kind of balmy or creamy texture, allow the oils to cool and set up in a mixing bowl, then whip with the whisk attachment on your mixer. Then just spoon it into the tins and smooth.

DSC_7034

~Luscious Lemon Lip Balm~

6 ounces of organic virgin coconut oil, 1 teaspoon pure almond oil, 2 ounces of pure beeswax, 1 Tablespoon of raw wild honey, 1/4 teaspoon of lemon essential oil. Melt the coconut oil, and beeswax in a double boiler slowly until completely melted. Add the almond oil and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Add the honey and essential oil and stir.

DSC_7031

~ Dreamy Sleep Salve ~

1 Cup of organic virgin coconut oil, 1 Cup of organic olive oil, 4 Tablespoons of pure beeswax, 1/2 teaspoon of pure almond oil. Melt the coconut oil and beeswax in a double boiler slowly until completely melted. Add the olive oil and almond oil and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Add 40 drops of cinnamon bark essential oil,  60 drops of ginger essential oil, 80 drops of peppermint essential oil, 80 drops of lemon essential oil, and 80 drops of grapefruit essential oil and stir.

The Dreamy Sleep Salve recipe was courtesy of onegoodthingbyjillee.com. I used almond oil instead of vitamin E oil because vitamin E oil is typically derived from wheat germ which means it’s not gluten-free. And I tweaked the amounts on the oils just slightly.

Day 2 I moved on to a more involved experiment. But still SO easy!

DSC_7008

DSC_7012

Piping it into your jars of choice is as easy as using a zipper bag and cutting a small opening in one of the corners. I would avoid using your good piping bags.

DSC_7014

You won’t believe how your skin feels after a night of being pampered with this cream.

DSC_7039

~ Calming Chamomile Night Cream ~

8 ounces of organic raw unrefined shea butter, 8 ounces of virgin organic coconut oil, 2 Tablespoons of beeswax, 4 ounces of pure jojoba oil, 4 ounces of organic virgin olive oil, 2 Tablespoons of raw wild honey, and two tea bags with chamomile flowers, blackberry leaves, lemongrass, rose petals, spearmint leaves, lemon balm leaf, hibiscus flowers, lavender flowers, marigold flowers. You can purchase them already together or do your own. Mine are the Tazo Calm Chamomile tea bags. Add the tea bags to a double broiler and melt the shea butter, beeswax, and coconut oil slowly. Add the jojoba oil and olive oil and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the tea bags. Add the honey and pour into a mixing bowl. Allow to rest in the fridge for about an hour. Place mixing bowl on stand mixer with whisk attachment and whisk until light and fluffy. This process will take some time. You will need to scrape down the sides and bottoms frequently until all is incorporated and smooth.

On Day 3 I decided to try my hand at making shower fizzies. When I have a migraine or I’m not feeling well, I love to shake a few drops of eucalyptus globulus, peppermint, or lemon essential oils onto the shower floor. If you haven’t tried it, DO! It helps a headache and nausea tremendously. The one downside is it washes away so quickly. A shower fizzie drenched in essential oils washes away slowly, allowing you to linger.

DSC_7002

Scoop them into muffin papers (I found that the tinfoil lined ones worked better) and allow them to completely dry.

DSC_7003

DSC_7053

~ Sinus & Migraine Shower Bombs ~

1 1/2 large boxes of baking soda, 3 Tablespoons of potato starch, about 1 1/2 cups of warm water, 3 Tablespoons eucalyptus globulus essential oil, plus more for the tops after they dry. Add the baking soda and potato starch to a large bowl and whisk. Slowly add the water, mixing until you have a thick slurry, but not too thick and not too wet. Add the essential oil and spoon into muffin tins lined with muffin papers. Allow to dry completely, about 24 hours. Once they are dry and you’re ready to package them, put a few more drops of essential oil on the top of each one.

DSC_7050

~ Rise & Shine Shower Bombette! ~

1 1/2 large boxes of baking soda, 3 Tablespoons of potato starch, about 1 1/2 cups of warm water, 2 1/2 Tablespoons of Lemon essential oil,  and 60 drops of peppermint essential oil, plus more for the tops after they dry. Add the baking soda and potato starch to a large bowl and whisk. Slowly add the water, mixing until you have a thick slurry, but not too thick and not too wet. Add the essential oil and spoon into muffin tins lined with muffin papers (I used mini muffin papers for the Rise & Shine and regular for the Migraine).  Allow to dry completely, about 24 hours. Once they are dry and you’re ready to package them, put a few more drops of essential oil on the top of each one.

So by the end of day 3 I was feeling pretty darn proud of my creations. It’s quite addictive! Not only that but it’s fun and relaxing and no too labor intensive.

Day 4 brought a luxurious body lotion with five different types of butters and oils and three kinds of essential oils.

DSC_7020

DSC_7044

~ Body Quench Luxurious Body Lotion ~ 

1/2 batch of my body butter without essential oils, 6.5 ounces of pure cocoa butter, 16 ounces of pure almond oil, 3 ounces of organic virgin coconut oil, 1 Tablespoon of spring water, 12 drops of lavender essential oil, 25 drops of peppermint essential oil, 20 drops of lemon essential oil. Make the 1/2 batch of body butter first. After it’s been whipped in the mixer, add the cocoa butter, and coconut oil (solid). Whip with the whisk attachment until thoroughly combined. This will take a while, you’ll need to scrape down the sides and bottom frequently until it is fully incorporated. With the mixer running on medium to medium high, slowly drizzle the almond oil into the whipped mixture about 1/4 cup at a time, allowing it to mix in thoroughly and fluff before adding the next 1/4 cup. Do this until all of the almond oil has been added. Whip on medium high scraping down the sides for 5 minutes. Slowly drizzle the water in a little at a time, whipping in between additions. Once all of the water has been incorporated, whip on medium high for 10 minutes, scraping down the sides and bottom about every 2 minutes. 

And lastly, Day 5 was completed with a scrub. This scent reminds me of the Seattle Market Spice Tea. Heavenly!

DSC_7055

~ Sugar & Spice Hand and Elbow Scrub ~ 

12 Cups of raw turbinado sugar, 2 1/2 Cups of pure jojoba oil, 40 drops of grapefruit essential oil, 40 drops of cinnamon bark essential oil, 20 drops of lemon essential oil. Measure the sugar into a large bowl and add the oil. Stir until combined. Add the essential oils and stir. Scoop into wide mouth containers.

The Battle With Inflammation

4 Comments
My morning anti-inflammatory elixir. Organic green tea and Manuka honey.

My morning anti-inflammatory elixir. Organic green tea and Manuka honey.

Not all inflammation is a bad thing. The inflammation response is meant to heal and protect our bodies from invaders like bacteria, viruses, cancer, etc. However, when you have food allergies your inflammation mechanism sees the allergen foods you’re eating as invaders of your system. If you aren’t aware of your food allergies and continue to eat foods that your body sees as the enemy, then inflammation in your body goes haywire leaving you with a lot of uncomfortable symptoms that can also eventually lead to numerous auto-immune diseases and many other dangerous, unwanted issues.

Manuka Honey from New Zealand. Golden & delicious!

Manuka Honey from New Zealand. Golden & delicious!

Up until about 8 weeks ago I had most of my inflammation issues under control. I of course, no longer eat dairy and gluten which helps immensely. I also take fish oil, vitamin D3, drink a lot of water, try to get regular exercise, and eat as many anti-inflammatory foods as possible. Unfortunately, even when we feel like we are working really hard at doing all of the right things, sometimes something gets thrown into the mix and gets our bodies off kilter.

A body that has been inflammation hyper for so many years is sometimes easily triggered when something foreign is thrown into the mix. So while I patiently (ha) wait for some test results and someone more educated than I to figure out what the heck has thrown my body off kilter, I’ve been researching Manuka Honey and thought I would give it a try. Everything I’ve read touts its amazing healing abilities as an anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-wounds, anti-gut issues, and anti-joint inflammation. And the best thing I like about it right now is that it’s not a steroid. I’m trying to hold off any major drug taking until we figure out what exactly is causing all of my symptoms.

I ordered the Manuka Honey on Amazon, it’s 8.8 oz and a bit pricey, but you only need a little each day. I’ve read that you can just eat it right off the spoon, mix it in a glass of water with a little apple cider vinegar, or in a cup of luke warm (not HOT!) tea. Drinking a glass of vinegar and honey first thing in the morning didn’t appeal to me, so I went with organic decaffeinated green tea (also excellent for inflammation) with about a teaspoon and a half of the honey. I’ll give it a week or so and check back in and let you know what I think.

If you’d like to learn more about Manuka Honey, Inflammation, and Anti-Inflammatory Foods, you can click on the links below:

Inflammation, The Silent Killer

How Inflammation Affects Every Aspect of Your Health

The Hidden Dangers of Inflammation

Manuka Honey for Inflammation

Manuka Research

Understanding the Chemistry of Manuka

The Benefits of Manuka Honey

7 Foods That Fight Inflammation

Eat To Beat Inflammation