Christmas: The Aftermath

I hope everyone has enjoyed their holidays so far.

Here in my house we talked about Chanukkah, opened presents on Christmas morning, and hope to ring in the New Year as a family quietly at home.

We put up a tree every year. Always a fresh one. We once had an artificial tree. I was so proud of that tree. It was absolutely beautiful. It had like 1200 points and was 7 1/2 feet tall and looked exactly like a douglas fir. The best part; I bought it at 75% off and put it away for the next year. I had it all planned in my head. Never again would I have to vaccuum up dropped needles out of the carpet. No more watering the tree everyday to avoid having it dry out and catch fire. Never again having to lug the tree out in the days after Christmas. It was all for naught. Our crazy cat kept showing up with these nickel-sized plugs of skin and hair missing. He stayed indoors and it took me a while to finally link the artificial tree to his missin hair. Poor thing. He looked terrible with all of these huge scabs all over his head. I never have figured out what he was doing to pull his hair out.

Anyway, that was the end of the artificial tree. I held on to it for about 8 years.  This year I ran into a friend and her daughter shopping for an artificial tree in a local craft store. They were looking at trees that cost around $200 and, in my opinion, were just plain not worth putting up much less decorating with precious ornaments. Anyway, I remembered the beautiful tree in my barn and asked her if she was interested. Her response, “Uh, it’s free. Yeah I’m interested.” So she drove up to the farm and now is the proud owner of my beautiful tree.

I didn’t take a single picture of this year’s tree. I couldn’t find my SD card for my camera. It was only after I went all the way to Atlanta and met Ree and then promised you pictures that I found out it wasn’t in my cameral. Apparently, my youngest wanted to take pictures with her sister’s camera and needed an SD card, so she took mine and put it in the camera in question. I haven’t found my camera’s USB cord, but when I do I will download the pictures of me and my new best friend (okay, okay, she doesn’t even I know I exsist except for the second when she almost misspelled my name), Ree.

So, in the aftermath of the holiday rush I am still am really busy.See,  I am having UFE done next week and am trying to get  everything in order for my husband and girls to run the house alone for a week or so.  Wish me luck. I am going to need it. For anyone out there who is contemplating this procedure, I will let you know about my experiences later.

Y’all Come Back Now.

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December 28, 2009. Notebook. Leave a comment.

My Own Stupidity.

So, like an idiot, I still had shopping to finish up today.

DUMB, DUMB, DUMB MOVE ON MY PART.

I really know what I wanted to get my husband so dd and I headed to Bass Pro Shop. We were in and out of there pretty quickly.

I should have known then that it wouldn’t stay this way.

We ran in the pet store and got the dog a present. Don’t ask. The child insisted that Chloe needed a new bed because the one she has now is on it’s last because she has dug into it and torn out all the eggcrate material.

So far, so good.

We go into the next store. Go to the department to get my dad’s last gift and then make our way to the front. There is a line around the corner for the 5 checkouts. I wait, patiently I might add, for my turn. While in line, the woman behind me just keeps talking and talking. Not really about anything, just talking to hear her own voice I’m sure.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am a talker, but I leave time for the stranger that I have struck up a conversation with to respond. If they aren’t really into it, I leave them alone. Here in the South, we are all talkers like that. When you wait in line at the checkout, we will talk to you. You don’t really have a choice.

Anyway, we can’t find exactly what we want for my niece, so we head to the mall.

Big Mistake.

You knew that, didn’t you?

Why didn’t you warn me?

The maul (yes, I know how I spelled it) was atrocious.  There was actually almost a fist fight over a toy in the toy store. You couldn’t move through the sea of bodies that were present. The worst part was that most of the people there didn’t look to be shopping. They looked as if they were just there to be seen.

We got what we needed, but it took us more than an hour and a half to get in and out of the place and we only bought something from one store.

Next year, everything is coming via the internet.

Y’all Come Back Now, Just don’t go to the maul.

December 23, 2009. Notebook. Leave a comment.

Perfect Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

I apologize in advance for the lack of photos of these wonderful cookies, but my camera is on the fritz at the moment.

My daughter and I made these to take with us to a holiday party, knowing that they would probably be the only cookies that we could eat there. I also made some brownie cheesecake  bites (also gluten-free) that I will post separately.

Perfect Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 stick of butter softened

1/2 cup light brown sugar (packed into measuring cup tightly, it should retain the shape of cup when placed in bowl)

1 tsp vanilla

1 egg

1 1/2 cups gluten-free baking mix (one with leavening added. I used Pamela’s Baking Mix)

1 1/2 cups of chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.

Cream butter and sugar together until well blended. Add egg and vanilla beat until light and fluffy. Add baking mix and chocolate chips and stir by hand until all mix is well incorporated.

Scoop 1 tbsp mounds of dough onto Silpat or parchment paper lined cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. I get 12 cookies on standard 1/2 sheet pan. Press cookies slightly flat with fingers. They will spread slightly when baking.

Bake at 350 for 10 to 12 minutes or until starting to brown on edges.

Cool on pans slightly (2 minutes or so) then remove from pan with spatula to cooling rack.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Y’all Come Back Now.

update: Our cookies were a hit with all the kids. As an extra bonus we met another gluten-free family who was glad to be able to eat something other than just what they brought too. Yay!!

December 18, 2009. cooking. Leave a comment.

The Gluten Free Bread we Love, so far

So, we have been trying several different recipes for gluten free bread in the last two weeks trying to find one that the little one and I both agree on as acceptable.

We tried this one and we both like it.

http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com/2009/02/delicious-gluten-free-bread.html

It turns out well, but it still lacks the lightness that I am looking for in a sandwich bread. It is great with soup or buttered on the side. My daughter said it tastes like Chik-Fil-A.

I love this site:

http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/

and while she doesn’t center on gluten free cooking, she does cook that way for her family.  She oftens mentions Pamela’s baking mix in her recipes. I did she research and Pamela’s products are rated pretty highly among those they are gluten free. 

I have also been running all over 3 towns trying to find the different flours to use in the recipes and that in itself is a great investement not only of time, but money when you live so far out like we do.

So, I went online and ordered some Pamela’s Bread Mix and some Pamela Biscuit and Baking Mix from Amazon. I had searched locally for them, but only found the cookie and brownie mixes in my local health food store and only found Bob’s Mills in the local Publix. Neither store is local really, but 30 minutes away.

One of my main reason for ordering these products was that they were in essence, just blends of  flour and not just designed to make only the one product. They are flexible, no different than buying a bag of flour from the grocery store based on it’s use. Cake flour for cakes, regular all purpose flour for cookies and such, and bread flour for breads. They are meant to be used for the purpose that they are best suited and you will get reliable results based on the type of flour you choose.

We made the basic bread recipe as directed on the package and have been extremely pleased with the results. The crumb is soft and chewy like good bread should be, the crust develps well and is neither crispy or chewy, but just right. It is just right for using in sandwiches or eating just buttered with good soup or stew.

I am glad that I ordered three 4 lb bags because it looks like this may be the bread for us.

Y’all Come Back Now.

December 10, 2009. cooking. Leave a comment.

Just Got Back From Atlanta and I Met HER!!

I went to the Pioneer Woman Cooks book signing in Atlanta tonight.

I am sooo excited about meeting Ree Drummond.

Will post more info and pics tomorrow, but suffice it to say, I had a great time and met lots of great people.

And of course I met Ree, Betsy, and Hyacinth. Lucky girl, That’s Me!!

December 8, 2009. Notebook. 1 comment.

One Gluten Free Week and Counting

So, after the wonderful wheat straw incident I got to thinking.

I have been back and forth to doctors for going on 12 years with stomach pain, cramping after eating, rushing to the bathroom everytime I eat, heartburn, reflux, skin rashes, body aches, joint pain, and just a long, long laundry list of symptoms.

Something has to give. The last several months since the car accident have been the worst. I have constant pain in my shoulders, body aches, and on and on the list goes.  I have been seeing a rheumatologist trying to get some answers. Recently he told me that he is at a loss. My bloodwork show inflammation, but nothing specific. My symptoms are all over the place and multi-focal.

I am willing at this point to try anything to feel better again. I long for the days when I could play with my children without pain.

So, I have been researching some things. I have a lot of autoimmune stuff that has surfaced over the years. Thyroid problems, fertility issues, clotting factors, diabetes, gastro stuff, etc. Lots of time autoimmune issues go hand in hand with each other.

Gluten sensitivity and Celiac are autoimmune issues.

So, I have been gluten free for a week.

I feel better.

Not perfect, but better.

I walked to the bathroom this morning and realized something major that I used to take for granted. MY FEET DIDN’T HURT WHEN I WALKED.

I mean not even a little.

I can’t remember the last time that I put my feet down in the morning and didn’t hobble to the bathroom.

I mean no pain at all.

I am in Awe. Not speechless, that just wouldn’t be me.

But, in awe no less.

My family has been on the diet as well. I mean, come on. If I am going to do this, and after all that I have read, they could benefit from this as much as me.

And you know what?

They feel better too. My 6 yo is sleeping better. Her stomach doesn’t hurt. Her attention span is better (yay for homeshcooling!!) and she is making leaps and bounds in her studies.

I went to a birthday party last night and my friend asked if I wanted some cheesecake and I had to explain that no, I couldn’t just not eat the crust, when someone overheard us. She hurried over to ask if I was a celiac. Apparently her husband was diagnosed not too long ago and she was excited to find a kindred spirit in the group. I explained to her, the short version, about was is going on and then she asked if I was going to have a biopsy. I quickly told her no. I mean now that I feel better I don’t want to eat gluten again and feel worse just so I get can get a diagnosis that says I can’t eat gluten. Right?

The conversation also caught the ears of my girlfriend’s college age daughter who has been suffering from severe abdominal symptoms for the last few years. She came over and started asking about the diet because she had also been doing some research after undergoing some testing recently. She is also scheduled for an upper endoscopy during Christmas break.

Of course, being a teenager and living on pizza, she asked THE question.

“So, you just have to avoid gluten, like, most of the time, right?”

I explained that, no. You have to avoid gluten, like, ALL THE TIME. EVEN THE LITTLEST CRUBMB CAN CAUSE INTESTINAL DAMAGE

A look of disappointment crossed her face. I quickly followed this up with foods that I know she likes. I told her that all meat, vegetables, and such are inherently gluten free. I explained that it the breading and such that causes the problems. She seemed a little less sad, but that was pretty much the end of the conversation.

Anyway, I tell you this to tell you this.

My future recipes will be working around being gluten free. I have decided that our entire kitchen and anything I make in it will be made as such. That way I don’t have to worry about cross contamination and my family can have the benefits of a gluten free diet along with me.

My ramblings may include more information about gluten free eating and living and I hope that you enjoy them.

I hope to help others out there who are going through the same thing and maybe inform others of what we are doing and why.

Y’all Come Back Now.

December 6, 2009. Notebook. Leave a comment.

No Snow After All That

Well, true to historical precedent, there was no snow here in the Heart of Dixie last night. At least at our house.

My oldest daughter and I went shopping in a nearby town and there was a few sprinkles of rain and rumbles of thunder in the background, but no snow was seen.

My youngest was disappointed. My oldest really couldn’t care less. And I, for one, was glad to see the frozen stuff pass us by for a few more months (or years, you never know).

See, when it snows here in The South some people, we’ll call them the Ricky-Bobbys of the world, like to take thier big trucks and go drive around. Just to look at the snow. Now that in itself is not so bad. What is bad is that Ricky-Bobby has absolutely no idea to steer into a skid, take it a little slow, or that bald tires and slick roads don’t mix. All he knows is that that kit that jacks up his suspension puts him high enough up that he can look down the shirt of the woman at the red light.

Anyway, these Ricky-Bobbys get in thier trucks and drive around. And about half of them end up upside down or sideways in the ditch where they lost control because they have absolutely no idea how to drive in that kind of weather.

 If it were just them I would say they get would they ask for, but inevitably there are other people, maybe even people who have to drive to get to work at the hospital or firestation or police department who are on the road when Ricky-Bobby decides to go joyriding who get hurt when his careening truck hits their car. Or who have to drive the ambulance on the roads to come cut thier butts out of thier vehicle.

Anyway, no snow is good news in my opinion.

Y’all Come Back Now.

December 5, 2009. Notebook. Leave a comment.

Sitting By The Fire

Tonight we are expecting a very unusual oocurence in our area.

Snow.

In December.

 In Alabama.

I have lived here for 22 years and this will be the very first time it has snowed this early in the year and only one of a handful of times that it has snowed at all.

My kids, of course, are excited.

Our exchange daughter from Spain is planning to get up in the middle of the night to take pictures of this strange occurence.

Me, I am cuddled up in my rocker/recliner next to the fireplace, secure in the knowledge that when, not if, the power goes out we can all curl up in the living room and stay warm.

See, my husband and I planned for occasions such as these by having a gas fireplace installed when we built our house a few years ago.

I know, I know, there are fireplace purists out there who are screaming at thier computer screens because we didn’t put in it woodburning fireplace. We had one of those and we rarely used it and when we did, we spent more money on firewood than it was worth. Not to mention, have I ever told you how much I abhor housework. Especially cleaning up dirty, dusty things fireplaces included.

With my gas logs all I have to do is make sure and call the propane man once every few years (200 gallons supplied both our gas logs and my cooktop for 2 1/2 years) and light the pilot once the cold weather comes to stay. Sometimes the last part is the hardest because in Alabama we swing from t-shirts and shorts one day to sweaters and gloves two days later and then back again within a week.

Maybe later I’ll brew up a hot pot of coffee and slip a little Irish Cream in and relax.

Y’all Come Back Now.

December 4, 2009. Home and Garden. Leave a comment.