Cookie Adventures

Edited to add on 2/3/16: I ate another of these today and I can hardly taste the beany taste I mention below. Perhaps time mellows the flavor!

I tried my hand at making gluten free cookies last night. The texture is perfect! They are slightly crispy on the outside and perfectly chewy on the inside. Yum. What’s funny to me is that they look better than the regular chocolate chips I made the day before for my husband. What you see below are the GF cookies. Don’t they look scrumptious?

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But the taste? Um, that part isn’t so good. They taste a little…bitter. I think that’s the best way to describe them. The flour I used is made from garbanzo and fava beans, so it would make sense that they would be a little bitter because those beans are a little on the bitter side anyway. I didn’t expect them to be so bitter though, especially after adding chocolate and then baking them. They are better the next day, but that bitterness is still there.

I think I’ll try baking something with a stronger flavor profile next time…maybe gingersnaps would work well with this flour. Chocolate chip cookies just don’t have strong enough flavors to disguise the bean flavor. After reading a few reviews, I realize that I’m not the only one with this issue and there are better, non-beany flours out there. I’ll get a different kind next time I need GF flour. *Note to self: Read reviews before you buy.

Also, a little bag of xanthan gum is ridonkulously expensive. Jeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeez.

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Noted, little bottle of vanilla from Oregon. Noted. On the plus side, I will have that little bag of xanthan gum for a really long time, so I will get my money’s worth. Oh, yes, I will.

How about you? Have you ever had any gluten free flour mishaps? Share in the comments! Please tell me I’m not alone!

February Goals

MonthlyGoals

This is so much fun! It gives me a chance to try new things in small ways. I’ve noticed that change doesn’t have to be monumental. It can happen in smaller ways and be just as effective. So, here’s my list for February!

Wear my hair down or at least half up at least 3 days a week. I can start the day with my hair down, but by noon it’s usually up in an ungainly bun or braid that doesn’t look professional at all. Also, I don’t “do” my hair. I usually just throw it up in a bun when it’s wet and then shake that out and let it air dry on the way to work. *Consider actually doing my hair. Or, at the least, comb it and let it air dry so it falls nicely.

Make one new recipe a week. I’ll note which ones I make here in the recap, so stay tuned!

Post at least one picture a day to Instagram. I’ve been falling behind on my 365 Grateful challenge. I’m about 5 days behind right now and I don’t like that. Photography and writing are two of my creative outlets and right now, both of them are suffering for want of time to do them.

Go for a hike. I’d like to take Jezebel along, so that’s something I want to take into consideration when I plan my outing. I think Toro Park  would be perfect.

Leave my phone in the back seat or the trunk while I’m driving. I’ve gotten into a very bad habit and I’m sure you can guess what it is. This is another goal that I’d like to make a permanent habit.

And that’s what I’ve got for February! I’ll do a recap at the end of this month and let you all know how I did! Enjoy your day, lovelies!

 

January Goals // Revisted

MonthlyGoalsRevisited

I wanted to start getting in the habit of writing down a few monthly goals and keeping track of them here. I found that if I write things down, I’m far more apt to do them as I am more intentional about it. This was exactly the case here. I’ve recapped my goals and whether or not I met them below. Enjoy!

Write at least two posts a week here. I found that scheduling posts when I had an hour or so to be creative was extremely helpful. I am happy to say that I met this goal and I look forward to keeping up with it every month!

Read at least one book a month. My husband and I recently finished watching the first season of Outlander and since then I’ve had the itch to read all eight books again {the author is working on the ninth book and I’m excited to see where the story goes!} and I’m considering it. I did manage to finish Epitaph for a Peach though and I thought it was a lovely book. I’ve since  moved on to Fingersmith.

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Crochet my niece {I have five nieces now…this one is my brother’s oldest} a stuffed animal. I did this! I actually got it in the mail before her birthday too! And what’s more is that she loves it and that makes me so happy! Here’s visible proof that I finished the giraffe:

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Go for walks on my lunch break at least 3 days a week. The first full week of January found us getting drenched in some much-needed rain, so I didn’t get out for walks that week. Honestly, I didn’t do very well with this. I got out a couple of times, but didn’t do well at all with walking during my lunch breaks. I’ll try again in February!

No coffee for a month. Truthfully, I started this a few days early because I felt like it. It was a good decision :-) This was no problem at all for me and I consider it a nice weaning phase from caffeine. I’m considering gradually weaning myself off caffeinated tea as well. Rather, I will use up the upteen boxes of tea that I have and not buy any more after that.

Stay tuned for February’s goals!

Just Some Random Thoughts….

I saw so many things on my walk with Jezebel this morning that I wanted to photograph, but I left my phone at home. I was a little bummed, but I needed to be unplugged more than I needed to take pictures. Going for a walk without any distractions other than making sure Jezebel heels when I ask her to is something I need. I spend far too much time in front of a computer screen or with my phone in front of my face. If I leave my phone at home, that means I take fewer pictures and it also means I’m currently behind with my 365 Grateful challenge. I can catch up though!

Still, I would have liked to share the sunlit mushroom with dew on it, or the hawk on the telephone wire, or the eucalyptus leaf with pretty patterns on it with you, but since I didn’t have my phone, there are no pictures.

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I burned the heck out of my finger this morning when I was making bacon for breakfast. Thankfully, it hasn’t blistered since I burned the pad of my ring finger  and I must have rather thick skin there. Note to self: Don’t pick up the electric griddle by the back lip after you plug it in. Duh. They put those plastic handles on the side on there for a reason.

I want to make these. I’ve had a hankering for sweet potatoes and yams lately and I want to start incorporating them into our meals. However, I’m the only one who likes them without the brown sugar syrup {I like them that way too}, so it may take a bit of doing to get my guys to try them without marshmallows or brown sugar syrup. We’ll see. Also, Arman {creator of those healthy flourless sweet potato muffins} is hilarious and how did I not know about his blog?!? *crawls out from underneath rock*

It’s taken me far too long to get this ready to go, so I’m going to stop rambling here and get this posted. I hope you all have had a wonderful day and I hope you can put your feet up and drink a glass of wine this evening!

Enjoy, lovelies!

Lifestyle Change – From SAD {mostly} to Gluten-Free!

Folks, The Boy and I are transitioning to a gluten-free lifestyle. Why? For a few reasons, one being that my side of the family has varying issues with gluten ranging from Celiac to gluten allergies. We really do run the gamut. One of the other reasons that we’re doing this is because we think gluten may not be helping The Boy during school, especially if he does have a gluten allergy or intolerance. The third reason is for me, mainly, because I didn’t want him to be alone with it.

There have been quite a few studies done that support the hypothesis that gluten inhibits  blood flow to the brain {just google “gluten” and either “brain,” “frontal lobe” or “ADD/ADHD” – there’s information everywhere, but this study overview is rather comprehensive and if you don’t want to read, here’s a series of videos from a neurologist}. Anyway, I’m sure you’ve heard of gluten-free before and I’m sure you know why people may choose to omit gluten from their diets. I do think there may be a connection between gluten and the brain that may just keep a person from remembering much of anything…perhaps.

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My breakfast from last weekend. The Boy is a fan of avocado and greens, but loathes eggs. I’m happy he gets some good fat and some green stuff at nearly every meal!

It can’t hurt, but I’m hoping that he’ll be better able to focus and that school will come a bit easier for him. We plan to taper him off gradually so it’s not a complete shock to his system, because that boy can eat some simple carbohydrates. If you give him a choice, he’ll go straight to the bread and pasta {I am the same way}. I, however, went cold turkey on January 23rd.

We’re joining the ranks, so to speak.

I spent the weekend brainstorming how to get more fruits and veggies into his diet. He and I talked quite a bit about it and he was on board. We went to Whole Foods and he asked what he could and couldn’t have from the bakery section. I showed him how to read the labels and what to look for and where the GF goodies are. We got mango smoothies and he got cioppino for breakfast. And a bagel for him too because I’m a softie and we decided that we’d start the tapering process on Monday.

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My smoothie and my butternut apple soup. So delicious. #eatallthemarigoldthings

Yesterday, however, he was not excited about his homemade breakfast smoothie. I expected the excitement to wear off sooner rather than later, so I wasn’t surprised at his lack of enthusiasm. He dutifully slurped it down, though, and I sent him off to school. I hope he’ll pay a little bit of attention to how his body feels as we transition him to a GF diet. I expect him to be grouchy and to have a headache for a few days. I also expect him to be surly about me saying, “No, but you can have this instead of that,” to him A LOT. Ah, well. :-) We’ll survive.

I’ve been on a recipe hunt too, since all of my recipes are in storage and I found one that I must make: Paleo Butter Chicken. And naan, because naan. That is happening soon and I cannot wait. I have had such a craving for Indian food lately.

Last night, I made nachos, recipe courtesy of Skillet Season and they are soooooooooo gggggooooooooooooood. Added bonus: I got to use up the three ripe avocados I had. I seem to constantly overbuy avocados because I think I’ll use them so much faster than I do. Time to start keeping them in the ice box!

Okay, now I’m rambling a little bit, so I’m going to wrap this up. Have any of you ever transitioned your kid from a SAD {Standard American Diet} to a gluten-free one? Please share any tips in the comments!!!

Friday Flim-Flam

Is flim-flam even a word? I think it’s not, but it embodies the sort of mish-mash that this post is so I’m just going to roll with it.

My arms hurt. Thank you, Fitness Blender. No, seriously, thank you! I’ve discovered that I love cardio + body weight exercises + a little weight lifting thrown in for good measure! Honestly, I think I’ve known that for the last four years, I just didn’t want to admit it. Fitness Blender’s videos give me the type of movement my body and brain like. It should be noted that what works for me may not work for you. Go try something different if what you’re doing doesn’t make you want to get out of bed with a smile in the morning.

This quote:

What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are. ~ C.S. Lewis

And also this quote:

We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are. ~ Anaïs Nin

Some of those online dating sites didn’t get the message that I am now a married woman. They keep sending me emails. Thankfully, I only see them when I check my spam folder. I tried the online dating thing about 3 years before I met my husband and we began dating. They must have kept the information handy, you know, just in case. *snort*

What are you all up to this weekend? I don’t have any plans, other than going for walks with the dog and reading and calling my mom on Saturday because it’s her birthday. And, I want to find some pretty things to take pictures of around here.

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This is an older photo from last year sometime. I think it was perhaps June 2015. Anyway, my point is that I want to work on getting my feet flat to the ground and my shoulders less rounded. Also, can anyone recommend a good yoga mat that my feet and hands won’t slip on if they’re a little sweaty? Someone, anyone?

Enjoy your weekend, lovelies!

 

Currently / January 2016

Hello, lovelies! Here’s what’s current with me! Here’s December’s post if you’d like to have a gander at it. :-) This one is short and sweet as I typed it on the fly.

Current book:

I just picked Fingersmith up the other night and I’m really enjoying it so far. It’s about an orphan in London in the care of a baby farmer. That’s really all I know at this point. It seems like it will be a bit of a page-turner and I’m excited to read more! Also, I had no idea there was a mini-series….

Current music:

I haven’t really been listening to much lately, though I’ve been listening to and half-watching The Graham Norton Show. Oh, heavens, if you need a laugh, watch any of those clips.

Current nail color:

Same as last month, plain jane and natural.

Current drink:

Water and hot tea and red wine. This bottle of Pinot was particularly lovely.

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Current food:

I made a chicken casserole that was delicious. Cowboy even liked it and he usually is not a fan of casseroles at all. I may post the recipe here later in the week.

Current favorite thing:

Molasses. I put it in my oatmeal, on my peanut butter sandwiches and even on my vanilla ice cream. Delicious.

Current craving:

Dare I say it? I’m not craving anything at present. I have been drinking water and I’ve had plenty to eat. I moved my body in a pleasing and fun way this morning {Thank you, Fitness Blender workouts!}. I think I’m good.

Current need:

Nothing, really. Maybe some more water.

Current bane of my existence:

The laundry. It’s exploding everywhere.

Current blessing:

Counter to the bane, my current blessing is having clothes to wear that I actually like. Also, finding shoes for The Boy that he likes and are within my price range.

Current procrastination:

Thinking about what to cook for supper. I think we’ll just have leftovers.

Current confession:

If I could take a nap every afternoon, I would. I love naps!

Current excitement:

The Boy and I are going to see the latest Star Wars movie on Monday {again}. I’ve seen it a couple times and he’s also seen it. Still, it’s a fun movie!

Current mood:

Impatient, but I’m trying not to be.

Current phone wallpaper:

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I like this one because it always makes me happy!

Obsess / Obsession / Obsessive

I’ve noticed that this word is making its presence known on a few blogs I read and podcasts I listen to and it seems that we flippantly throw this word around. Obsessed. I am not a fan because the word has negative connotations for me.

I think of the perfume. I think of unbalance. I think of lack of freedom. What do you think of when you think of obsession?

obsess {verb}

  • to dominate or preoccupy the thoughts, feelings or desires {of a person}; beset, trouble, or haunt persistently or abnormally
  • to think of something unceasingly or persistently; dwell obsessively upon something.

{source}

I also think about my own obsessive thoughts in regards to diet, exercise and even intuitive eating. As human beings, we sometimes flit from one obsession to another. With the diet and exercise industry, for example, they are banking on the fact that you’re going to obsess over the current exercise regime {if I do that, I’ll look just like her!} or the current diet craze {if I eat what she eats, I’ll lose all of my extra weight!} until you discover that it doesn’t work for you and then you’re going to move onto the new and exciting thing they have for you to try and obsess over. I’ve been there. So. Many. Times. I have a shelf full of exercise DVDs because I went from one obsession to another. I have a shelf full of cookbooks for the same reason. I use the DVDs and the cookbooks occasionally, but they are not my favorites and they don’t always make me feel good.

With intuitive eating, I can give you my own experience too. I went from obsessing over my calorie count and exercise burn to obsessing over whether or not I was hungry or full or if I was somewhere in between and what exactly my body wanted to eat. I basically traded one obsessing thought for another. My thoughts were dominated by thoughts of my body and how it felt, what it looked like, whether it was thin or full or empty or fat.

Was that healthy? For me, no, it was not. I wasted so much time, emotion, thought and brain cells thinking about similar body-related things and it was just exhausting.

“Obsession is the single most wasteful human activity, because with an obsession you keep coming back and back and back to the same question and never get an answer.”
~ Norman Mailer

I do think it was part of the process I needed to go through in order for me to realize that I wanted to spend my time thinking of other things. I didn’t want to be preoccupied with thoughts of food and my body all the time. I wanted to be going and doing and reading and walking and thinking. I wanted to think about so many other things and I couldn’t do that if I was obsessing over food and body.

So, I began to retrain my brain to spend its time thinking about other things. I began to substitute other thoughts for the intuitive eating thoughts, just like I substituted the intuitive eating thoughts for the diet/exercise/calorie thoughts. I decided to replace the obsessive thoughts I had around intuitive eating with thoughts of the love I have for others, prayers for those who are hurting, lovely things I notice during the day, better ways to be a better wife and mother, prayers for my husband and son, etc etc etc. I found that if I quit thinking about food, the food will take care of itself. My body will take care of itself without my obsessive brain getting in the way. I want to note that I am not awesome at this. I struggle daily to keep my thoughts from going down that obsessive path. Every day gets a little easier.

In short, I gave my brain something else to think about. The more I think about something, the more power it has. Have you found that to be true?

This video sums things up nicely:

Also, do consider adding molasses to your next peanut butter sandwich. Thanks to Audra {her YouTube channel is here}, I’ve been adding molasses to my oatmeal with peanut butter and I’m in heaven.

I don’t know if anyone else has experienced this or if it’s just part of my process and I make the use of the word obsession something bigger than it really is. I’d love to hear your thoughts below!

Ask Away # 1

I picked this up from E over at A Sign of Life who got it from Fish of Gold who got it from Samara. Basically, it’s made the rounds and I figured I might as well participate. I’ll type this out whilst I hold an apple between my teeth, taking intermittent bites as I type and attempting to not get apple juice on my hands.

1. What were your best and worst subjects in high school?

My best subjects were anything that required writing complete sentences in a descriptive manner. Anything that required numerical or scientific answers were abysmal subjects for me. My high school Calculus teacher gave me a B out of pity. It really was that bad.

2. Did you get in trouble a lot at school?

Snort. No.

3. What is your biggest regret?

My biggest regret is spending so many years trying to make everyone happy and that one is closely followed by not listening to friends and family when they tried to tell me that my relationship choices were not the best. Lessons learned.

4. What is the strangest thing about you?

I had a hard time with this one…I don’t see myself as all that strange. I suppose maybe my belief that people are mostly good is kind of weird. Yes, there are some who are not, but it’s probably not their fault {to a point – at some point, people do choose to continue being a mess}. Maybe that isn’t very strange a tall. I pop my knuckles…is that strange?

5. What is your weirdest fear?

My weirdest fear is that I will be boring, that I won’t have anything to say at the end of the day, that I’ll stop learning, that I’ll be bitter and grouchy. Those are my weird fears.

6. If you were an animal, what would you be?

That’s easy. I’d be a horse. Preferably a wild one.

7. What’s your most annoying habit?

See the popping of the knuckles comment above. I don’t like it either and I’m considering rubber band therapy.

8. What’s your favorite holiday?

Any holiday where I get to see family members. Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter take the cake for me.

9. What’s your current desktop background?

A single candle burning. I find it beautiful.

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10. What is your favorite book?

I have to pick one? I think I would pick American Gods by Neil Gaiman {really, anything by Neil Gaiman is my favorite.} or Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall or The History of Love by Nicole Krauss or Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. I also have to include both the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon and the Game of Thrones series by George R.R. Martin. I simply must.

11. What are you reading now?

I’m still slowly working my way through Epitaph of a Peach: Four Seasons on my Family Farm by David Mas Masumoto. While well-written, it’s a bit emotional, so I’ve been taking it slow to let it all sink in. So much is tied up in this peach harvest and then the grape harvest. Farming is not for the faint of heart.

11. Put your music player of choice on shuffle & list the first 10 songs.

I don’t have a music player of choice. I mostly just stream Pandora and get my music that way. I’ll list a few channels for you instead :-)

  • Fryderyk Chopin
  • Hozier
  • David Crowder Band
  • George Ezra
  • Enya {what?}
  • Mo Kolours
  • Billie Holiday
  • The Velvet Underground
  • Indian Classical
  • Meghan Trainor

12. Are you good at accents?

Not so much that I sound native. I can pick up some accents rather easily, but I do not believe that I would even be remotely considered a native.

13. What question do you hate to answer?

I have to say the same as E: What do your tattoos mean?

I have three, one of which is never seen because I don’t bare my midriff {if you’re curious, it’s a kanji in the middle of my back. No one ever sees it and I mostly forget that I  have it. The other two are a turtle and an anchor, one on the inside of each wrist. The turtle I got to remind me to stick my neck out {try new things, be adventurous, etc.} and the anchor I got to remind me to stay grounded in the things that matter {faith, hope, love, family}. And that’s usually what I say when people ask. Most people also ask if I’ve been in the Navy since I have an anchor. Nope.

14. Name three things you could pick up from where you are:

Phone, travel mug of very hot Irish breakfast tea and two cuties.

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15. Do you have any connections to celebrities?

Nope.

16. If you could be anyone for a day, who would you be?

I would want to be one of those people I follow on Instagram who gets to travel around and take pictures and get paid for it.

17. What physical trait do you get complimented on most?

Eyes, I suppose. Maybe hair.

18. What perfume do you wear?

For special occasions, I wear Coco Chanel or Inis. For everyday it’s whatever essential oil I used for deodorant that day.

19. Put these in order from your favorite movie genre to least favorite: Horror, action, thriller, science fiction, superhero, romance, drama, comedy, musical and documentary.

  • Action
  • Science fiction
  • Superhero
  • Comedy
  • Drama
  • Documentary
  • Romance
  • Musical
  • Thriller
  • Horror

20. Why are polar bears called polar, while foxes, wolves and hares are Arctic?

No idea. Anyone know?

21. Why are aliens in science fiction usually shown as bipedal humanoids?

I have no idea and honestly, I don’t care.

22. What are five things you want to do before you die?

  • travel the world before it gets too small
  • meet a few of my Instagram friends
  • be a grandma
  • raise chickens and honeybees
  • laugh more and love more

Anything you want to ask me? Share in the comments!

One Pan Roasted Root Veggies and Chicken

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a recipe, hasn’t it? That’s mainly because I haven’t found a recipe worth posting. I went through a bit of a dry spell with cooking and baking, but I’ve come out of the Sahara now and I’m enjoying finding new recipes and making them. My friend sent me this recipe and I knew I had to make it because she and her husband are foodies and also because her description of it had me drooling.

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Do pardon the horrible lighting. I did use thighs, rather than the larger pieces of chicken the recipe initially called for because I find that thighs are more flavorful and are not nearly as expensive. I also added more garlic, because it’s delicious. If you like a lot of roasted veggies like I do, you could easily chop a few more while you’re at it, season as desired and bake a separate pan.

Here’s another photo. Feast your eyes!

One Pan Roasted Root Veggies and Chicken Thighs

3/4 lb red potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
3/4 Brussels sprouts {no larger than a golf ball}, trimmed and halved
1/2 lb shallots, peeled and halved
4 carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces {I don’t peel my carrots, do you?}
1 head garlic cloves, peeled
1 T olive oil {original recipe calls for vegetable oil}
4 t minced fresh thyme
2 t minced fresh rosemary
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper
2 T unsalted butter, melted
8 chicken thighs, rinsed and dried

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees.  Toss potatoes, Brussels sprouts, shallots, carrots and garlic with oil, 2 t of thyme, 1 t of rosemary, sugar, and a liberal sprinkling of salt and pepper together in a large bowl. 

Combine butter with remaining 2 t thyme, remaining 1 t rosemary and another slightly less liberal sprinkling of salt and pepper in a small bowl.

Arrange vegetables in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Place chicken, skin side up, leaving about two inches between each thigh.

Brush chicken evenly with herb butter, and roast until chicken breasts register 160 degrees and thighs/drumsticks register 175 degrees, about 45 minutes, rotating pan halfway through cooking. 

Transfer chicken to a serving platter.  Tent platter with aluminum foil and allow to rest 5-10 minutes. Toss vegetables in pan juices, and transfer to plate with the chicken.

Strongly consider serving with thick slices of crusty bread to sop up the juices. If you don’t, you’ll only wish you had.

Serves 4

This was a hit and I even got The Boy to try a sprout, which he deemed “alright.” I consider that high praise considering his previous reactions to Brussels sprouts. :-) I’ll take what I can get!

I hope you enjoy this recipe!