Thursday, December 20, 2012

Teacher Gift Ideas

Put together Quinn's teacher holiday gifts today.
Quinny made the cards, and I packaged the cookies.
For the fabulous lead Teach, I made a pillow for her...she's too rad not to get a pillow!

Quinny's cards turned out stellar:

Packaging the cookies was as simple as grabbing a mason jar from the garage and tying some twine at the top.
A cute, inexpensive cookie holder:

In the end, a gift for a teacher is a way to express your appreciation for all they do for our kids. So, to me, a heartfelt message, written in the homemade card, is the most important part of all.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A-mazing Lemon Cookies

I would consider myself a rather modest individual, but shout it from the heavens- I just made the world's best gfcf lemon cookies!!!
I wanted a cake-ier cookie but could not find a recipe to support such- so I wrote my own!
After baking so damn much I had learned what the more common ratios were for cookies, breads, muffins, cakes etc. So my ratios support a crunchier outside and a fluffy, cake-y inside. And you wouldn't believe it, it actually worked!
Came up with this:

Jilly's Lemon Cookies

2 cups GF AP flour (note: my gf ap has xanthum gum already in it. If your gf ap is missing it, this recipe would call for 1/2 tsp xanthum gum).
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
(Mix all this is a bowl, set aside).

1/4 cup rice milk
1/2 cup veg. Oil
2 eggs
(Mix in kitchen aid. Once mixed, add dry ingredients).
Add to mixture:
1/2 tsp lemon extract
2 tbsp lemon juice
Mix for 1 min on medium speed.

I then scooped out balls and rolled them in powered sugar.
Placed the sugared balls on a cookie sheet and pressed down.
Bake for 12 ish minutes at 350.

Literally A-mazing!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Program: how far we've come

Last week Quinny's preschool held their Christmas Concert.

I was a nervous wreck:
No nap that day.
ALL her Grandma's and Grandpa's- uncles, aunts and cousin.
She barely ate dinner from the pre-game (concert) excitement.

It was super chilly, but dry- so we walked to the high school.
Christmas lights were glowing and Quinny was squawking with glee the entire parade.

She was just a bit hesitant to join her class, before the show- but by the time the kids climbed on stage- she was ready to roll!

(Front and Middle)
On stage she was just like all the other 3/4 year olds- shouting 'hello' to their moms and dads- laughing with their neighbors, forgetting most of the song lyrics while presenting their own rendition louder than their giggle partner's.
Of course Quinny added her own flavor by covering her ears at points and the faces she made of "woah this is loud" were ever so present- but keeping it together all a while.

I could not believe it.

On the way home Quinny was on fire!
"Mom, my play was so fun!"
"Did you see me Daddy? I did it so beautiful!"
The best and most important part:
Quinny loved it.
She had fun.
She felt SO good about herself.

When we got home, and quickly got the wee ones in bed- Jake and I sat back and took in the gift that was the night.
Appreciating how far we're coming as a clan.
How cooking, baking, eating GFCF every day is calming her nervous system down, and allowing her therapies to truly impact her everyday.
Scrubbing her down with her therapy brush and giving her a Qi Gong massage every night is working!
Sensory therapy is working!

Of course I know we will continue to bounce from left to right, up and down- that not everyday and every activity will be as successful and fabulous as it has been and has been becoming- BUT:
it's working.

To celebrate- hows about some fab family pics from the blessed event?

(So focused he was!)

(Look at that angel, furry vested kid).

(The face of one excited Mama!)

Felt Play House: Recycled

I had a little Kitty Kat remind me of the felt playhouse I made for Quinny, 3 years back. We thought re-posting the pics would be a fun reminder of another thoughtful, inexpensive child's Christmas present.
This house was a labor of love, and true novice execution- but the final product turned out so fun and we still bring it out for weeks of laughter and play (meaning I didn't make to many errors in its stability).

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Gift Ideas: on a budget with love

Adding a third to the mix motivates Jake and I to be even more thoughtful with our spending.
It is foolishly challenging to keep my spending under control during the hustle and bustle of Christmas time- BUT this year I kept myself busy by crafting and sewing most of our gifts.
Jake and I have a pretty rad 'kid gift' under way, but for now I wanted to share two of my thrifty holiday gift ideas:
Personalized Mugs
Personalized Pillows

The Mugs:
Mr. Pinterest showed me that if you take a Sharpi and a coffee mug, you can make a thoughtful mug for those coffee/ tea lovers. So that is what I did. Personalized the hell out of these bad boys, popped them in the oven 350 degrees for 30 minutes and BAM:
Made this one for my Grandma- made a couple more for other loved ones. All different. All thoughtful.

The Pillows:
Who doesn't need an extra fancy pillow kickin' it around their house, eh? Coolest bit of this project is that it literally cost me nothing. I used all scrap fabric I had been hoarding from prior projects. I was also able to stuff them with extra filler I had hanging around.

Super excited to complete the kid's Santa gift in the next few days- Quinny has been begging for a Doll House, and with limited time and resources, Jake and I were able to put together a doll house for $3. Yes, $3. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Cookie Prep

It's that time of year:
Holiday Baking!
By the looks of my Kitchen Aid this morning, I've got a lot of work ahead of me!
Practicing some new recipes before gifting any of these new concoctions.
For those of you who bake GF style- any fabulous suggestions??
Let the baking begin!

Monday, December 10, 2012

5 am Runs

I start my days super early now: 5am.
I hit the pavement with the stars shinning bright and the cold air burning my lungs.

It really is the only time of day (or night) that I have the time, or energy, to get back to my basics:

My moments and minutes to be alone.
To be quiet.
To be lost in my mind.
To push myself, for myself.

Who knows when I'll run another marathon, or stretch and reach to Ironman- but for now, I am still having a love affair with my running.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Gluten Free baking: Quick Tip

This morning I thought I'd try a new technique with our pumpkin muffins.

Normally once all dry and wet ingredients are combined, I load directly into pan- but this morning I thought that maybe if I allow the Kitchen Aid to beat the mixture for a while longer, I could add air to the batter, resulting in a fluffier muffin.


In normal baking, over beating can cause the mixture to turn goopy/ glue-ish; this is because of the gluten!
Since we bake without the big G, this eliminated the Elmers result!

Warm, fluffy pumpkin muffins at 7a- happy kids at 7a.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Tree Shopping

For all who know me, they are fully aware of my obsession with this JOYUS time of AMAZING year!!!

I have done a really awful job at keeping Quinn's limitations and sensory sensitivities into consideration during the past 4 holiday seasons. I just get so excited, and caught up in my traditional hoopla that come Christmas morning I have had a fried, falling apart baby girl.

Last year was my last year being selfish.

This year:
No expectations.
No line standing.
No late night Christmas light adventures.
No endless gluten-full cookie baking and deliveries.
No Christmas decor that is breakable and "no touch".
No community services projects.
No caroling house to house.
No matching Christmas jammies.

I'm going to allow my three to start forming new traditions that feel good to them.

Let the FUN, FABULOUS and calm (er) season commence!

Tradition #1. A Tree.
In the past we went to a tree farm that had a santa, music, bazaar, petting zoo...all the ridiculous-ness you can think of. Everything not fabulous for a kid with SPD and Asperbergers.
This year we found (Thanks Am) an incredible farm 2 miles from our home.
A fire pit.
A shed.
A super cool old dog (Rudy) who followed us around.
BEST tree experience we have ever had.

A Family of Five

Finding the time to sit and type...with two hands...seems to be one of my greatest challenges from this Mom of three (still crazy to think/ know I have 3 kids!).
Between breast feeding, chasing a ridiculously active 2 year old, hitting up weekly therapists, cooking, baking, diapering, cleaning, picking up...breast feeding (did I say that already?) these two hands are rarely without something in them.
But this morning:
Crew is asleep.
Carter is eating her second breakfast.
Quinny is at school.
Picked up and cleaned last night.
Finished Enrich All paperwork.
Grocery shopping getting done tonight.

I have never been more busy in my life, but I have never had more fun either. Having three kids who need you and your love, patience and gumption all day and night is exhausting- but having three kids who give you their love, creativity, smiles, laughter, hugs, and tenacity all day and night...makes it all worth it.

We had a Harvest season full of family, friends, gatherings and adventures:

A Halloween party brought wonderful neighborhood kids, costumes, snacks, crafts and some pretty cool games.

Trick or Treating with our wonderful cousin/ niece Olivia.

Thanksgiving- we hosted at our house. Family and friends filled the tables, food was amazing, and a Disney movie, with our Besties, after was icing on the cake.

We're still a GFCF home. Doing really well with this actually:
We were having some rough weeks with Lou, so I wanted to see if having the family on GFCF was really "worth it". We gave Quinny a few bites of pie crust one day (both gluten and casein filled) and within an hour she was falling apart with any transition and unexpected noise, touch, feeling from others.
She also got a massive tummy ache and pooped her little heart out all night long (yes, I know, mother of the year).

Bottom line: GFCF DOES truly make a huge difference in all our lives. On our hard days, it is difficult to remember how much more challenging it used to be- but I know in my heart (and by experimentation) that GFCF is an incredible gift of healing for our entire family.
So I'll keep baking and cooking while breast feeding.
I'll keep spending more money on groceries and cutting back on play money.
and I'll remember how lucky we are to have found such a wonderful, healing solution for our baby's ailments and challenges.

All in all, we are counting our blessings each and every day:
Three wonderful babes.
Our cozy home.
Loving (most of the time) marriage.
Fabulous community.
And a future looking brighter and brighter each day.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pumpkin Bumpkins

Our darling trio at the Pumpkin Patch.

Quinny was a bit overwhelmed at this joint- what ever happened to good old fashioned patches, where the hay ride was the biggest event?
Trains, boutiques, tractors, cannons, corn maze, hay maze, slides, towers, tunnels,'s overwhelming for me, let alone a kiddo with sensory processing disorder.

From now on, I will be on the hunt for old school establishments that give our children beautiful memories without the mid patch melt downs.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Crew Cotton Snell

Our handsome, calm, sweet sweet little boy:

I was induced on Saturday September 15th due to high blood pressure. I was 39 weeks along and ready to bring this baby into the world.

No epidural.
Two solid pushes.
Healthy baby boy.
Incredible experience.

I spent 39 weeks full of anxiety, juggling all of the 'what-ifs' and 'how the hells' in my mind. It has been two and half weeks of mommy-ing 3, and without a doubt, not a single was not nearly as cool without this kid.

I definetly have less time on my fanny.
My organizational skills are a MUST.
My face is (and will continue) to be a tired, no make up palette.

But I have never been happier.
Never been more fulfilled.
Never been more at peace.

Crew, you're an incredible little fella.
You've completed us.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Baking Basics

I was telling Jake tonight how I have gone through more dry baking food items in the past four months, then I have our entire marriage (6 years).

Who knew how expensive REAL vanilla was (but so worth the price), or how it is so much cheaper to buy yeast in bulk and keep in the fridge. How ratios and chemical reactions make and break your products...things I never thought I would know, but love that I do.

So in the spirit of this bakin' babe's (yes, I just called myself a babe) growth and discoveries in the kitchen, let's talk about some of my faves:

The all purpose gluten free flour (I make/ mix this on a weekly basis).
I stole the recipe from my "Cooking for Isaiah" cook book; truly the best ratio of flours I have found thus far- I use it in all of my softer baked goods (cookies, pancakes, cakes, bread, scones).

6 cups of white rice flour
3 cups tapioca flour
1.5 cups potato starch
2 tbsp. xanthum gum
1/2 tsp salt

Mix (messy bit, but lots of fun)

Put on shelf and ENJOY!

Speaking of shelf- here is the rest of the gang, my go-to's if you will:

Bob's Red Mill GF all purpose flour (which I use to make my flavored breads, thickening agent, and muffins).
Bob's Red Mill GF Oats
Isaiah's GF all purpose flour
GFCF pancake mix (made from my Isaiah gf ap flour, I just add a bit of sugar and baking powder)
GF baking powder
GF coco powder
GF granulated, powered, and brown sugar
Bob's Red Mill xanthum gum
Bob's Red Mill gf baking soda

Still building my baking empire over here on Olive Street...and when I say empire I mean my shelf, my fridge, my freezer, our tummies- but adoring the learning, the mistakes and the messes each and everyday.

Sunday, September 9, 2012