Category: Real Life

Gluten Free Thanksgiving

So we’re giving this a whirl this year – Gluten Free Thanksgiving! Because so many people are struggling with food sensitivities nowadays, I thought that I’d share our menu and maybe help someone out that’s looking for options at the last minute. I’ve included online links, but you may be able to find many of these alternatives at your local stores. The links are mainly to show the item, because I’m a visual learner.

This is NOT our feast! lol!

Our Menu:

  • Fried Chicken and Gravy (just me and the kids doing this, so I went with something I knew they’d love!)
  • Green Beans (see below)
  • Homemade Cranberry Sauce
  • Mac & Cheese
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Deviled Eggs
  • Rolls
  • Chocolate Pie
  • Pumpkin Pie

How does that strike your fancy? We are super excited!! Now… how to make this gluten free???

Fried Chicken

My Grandmama made the best fried chicken ever. In the history of the world. Seriously. And I watched her do it a few times, but I was little, so I don’t know if this is how she did it, but I’d venture to say it’s pretty close! I’m also attempting her macaroni & cheese recipe for the first time this year. Usually my brother makes it.

I’ll be using chicken tenderloin, since that’s what is easiest to fry and all my kids like them. I set up two bowls. One has about 3 eggs and a splash of milk whisked together. (I have used dairy free, unsweetened, plain almond milk to do this and it works just fine.) The other bowl gets my dry ingredients. I use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour, salt & pepper to taste, a sprinkle of parsley flakes, and 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast. Dip in the wet bowl, then into the dry bowl. If you’ve got time to kill and want to make it extra crusty special, repeat the dippings. I fry in refined organic coconut oil until done. Refined is important if you don’t want your chicken to take like coconut! I cook an entire two pound bag of tenderloins and we won’t have any leftovers! If you’re cooking for a smaller family, you’ll use less ingredients.

Green Beans

The green beans are just basic beans from a can. I do prefer DelMonte brand to others. Then I add a couple tablespoons of butter (or Earth Balance Soy Free Buttery Spread, for dairy free), and some spices. I like to use Mrs. Dash Garlic & Herb Blend and Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning, and if I’m feeling extra saucy, just a touch of cayenne pepper! One of my children appreciates the spice, but the rest won’t eat these anyway, so I make them my way!

Cranberry Sauce

We found an easy Cranberry Sauce recipe in The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays: 140 Step-by-Step Recipes for Simple, Scrumptious Celebrations cookbook. I couldn’t find the same recipe online, but this one is close: Cranberry Sauce by Ree Drummond on Food Network. The recipe in the cookbook has only 3 ingredients: cranberries, oranges, maple syrup.

Macaroni & Cheese

Mac & Cheese has been a challenge, but our diet has re-introduced dairy now, so I’m more comfortable trying this. Honestly, if we were still dairy free, I’d probably just skip the mac & cheese. My Grandmama made a baked mac & cheese and this is what my son has requested. She cooked the macaroni noodles per the package instructions, then in a 9×9 glass baking dish, sprayed with non-stick spray, she layered slices of cheese (cut from a block, not sliced cheese like for sandwiches) with the noodles. When I was young, it must have been cheddar that she used, but I’m told later in life she used colby jack. The noodles were salted & peppered, a splash of milk added so it doesn’t dry out (almond milk ok), then topped with another layer of cheese. This will be my first attempt at this style of mac & cheese. Fingers crossed… For the noodles, I’m using Skinner Gluten Free Elbows, found at my local HEB grocery store. I haven’t tried these yet, either, but based on the mix used in the ingredients, I think they were a good option.

Mashed Potatoes

This is pretty standard. To make dairy free, use the dairy free butter linked above and almond milk and nobody will know the difference!

Deviled Eggs

We love deviled eggs! I just might have to do a separate post about the eggs sometime! We raise chickens, so fresh eggs are killer to peel. This is the whole reason I got an Instant Pot! And it works! (works great for store bought eggs, too) Put a cup of water in the pot, then the trivet, then layer in the eggs. I’ve loaded my pot with up to two and a half dozen eggs before. It’s a beautiful sight. 6 minutes at high pressure, 6 minutes natural release then open the valve, 6 minutes in an ice bath. Cool completely, then peel.

Slice in half. Any whites that are not pretty go into the mash. There should be at least 3 whole eggs in the mash. Mash the yolks and the whites that didn’t make the cut. Add Kraft Sandwich Spread until moist. Salt & pepper to taste. If you’re not dairy free, drizzle in a little homemade ranch dressing. Skip that if you’re dairy free, no biggie. Spoon the mash into the eggs, then come back and add more. If you have any left over, enjoy your egg salad.

Rolls

Once again, we’re entering new territory. I’m going to be taking my husband’s grandpa’s wife’s roll recipe (haha) and trying it with Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour. This is a yeast roll recipe, and I’ve had excellent results with this flour so far, so I’m going to give it a whirl. I will do a half recipe, however, since this is a test. If it’s a flying success, I expect to hear lots of complaining from the children that I didn’t make more!

Dessert

Again, I’m just altering standard recipes. And we’re going crustless. That’s a disappointment, I know, but it is what it is. I didn’t have time to perfect a gluten free pie crust this year, nor do I have time to make gluten free graham crackers. If you have a local store with GF graham crackers, you could probably make a graham crust pretty easily.

Using my husband’s uncle’s chocolate pie recipe, will really be more like a thick pudding without the crust. And that’s perfectly ok. It’s chocolate. This recipe is not dairy free. It uses whole milk, sugar, flour, etc. Again, we’re no longer DF, so I’m not altering the dairy in this recipe at this time. If I attempt a DF version in the future, I’ll let you know. For now, I’m switching out the flour and just dealing with the sugar. After all, Thanksgiving is a special occassion, they’re only getting one slice of pie and it’s not going to last long! Possibly whole fat coconut milk would work to make a homemade chocolate pie.

There’s so many recipes for pumpkin desserts on pinterest, and lots of them are gluten and dairy free! Thank you, internet! I’ll be using a Pioneer Woman (can you tell I love her??) recipe that was found on Walmart’s website! Pumpkin Pie by the Pioneer Woman. Alterations I’ll be making: No crust. That’s it! You could use sweetened condensed coconut milk, if you’re dairy free, but keep in mind that these cans are not exactly the same size as a standard can of Eagle Brand! Just be prepared.

Fruit can also be transformed into a delicious gf/df dessert! This fun turkey would be great for the kids!

As I’ve mentioned before, this is not a recipe blog, and I’ll have to go back at a later date and add pictures. Because I’ve never thought to photograph each item of food. Hopefully this may help someone that’s trying to figure out how to enjoy the holidays with dietary restrictions. This was my son’s biggest concern. The most important thing to remember is to relax and enjoy the holiday with your family. Let the kids help in the kitchen, even though it’s messy. Let them help with the meal planning. Nobody ever said it had to be turkey.

Have a wonderfully blessed Thanksgiving!

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Great Gifts for Mom

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My mom with me and my daughter at the Women of Faith conference in 2009.

Let’s face it.  Moms rock.  But even with all that awesomeness, sometimes we’re at a loss when it’s time to give them gifts.  Here’s a few ideas for gifts for Mom, whether it’s Mother’s Day, her birthday, Christmas or other special time.  If you’ve got some great ideas, leave them in the comments! 

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Mothering is hard work and often comes with little down time!  Pick a pretty container and make a Pampering Basket for her!  Include things like Rosewater or Sea Salt Spray, spa socks, relaxing lavender lotion, massage certificate, a Large Upin or XS Flexi, or a Sleep mask.  (Pictured at right are the boar bristle brush and rattail comb, Rosewater hydrosol mist and Bamboo Hair Towel.)

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When I was young, I did the pampering gift, even simpler, and got my mom some Calgon Bath Beads!  Easy for a kid with limited funds, and still appreciated by my Momma that enjoyed reading in the tub.  I was surprised to see you can still get Calgon Bath Beads –   and now even gift sets are available online and probably in stores, too.  She also enjoyed gift cards to bookstores along with her bath beads!

Blue Flowers

You can never go wrong with flowers!  Almost universally, moms enjoy getting flowers.  Whether a bouquet, a hanging basket, a corsage, or a perennial for her garden, flowers always tell mom she’s loved!  Make sure to include her favorite color either in the blooms or in ribbon accents.  (Never Lose Faith Arrangement by Twinbrook Floral Design. My mom would have loved this with the blue carnations, keepsake vase, and scripture reference.)

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For the holidays, my mom would have loved this wreath with blue accents, too!  To this day, I still always add blue flowers to her arrangements.

Of course, I must add my favorite accessories to the list, too.  Most moms deal with hair a lot, whether their own or that of their daughters.  And even though the “mom bun” is trending nowadays, moms do like to be noticed and look pretty.

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Enter Lilla Rose.  As you can see from this collage above (click to enlarge), there’s a pretty good variety of styles to meet the needs of most moms.  Of course, I went with the blue theme again.  My kids know to pick purple for me. (wink, wink)  If you’re shopping for a gift for yourself (because I’m a mom, too, I know how Mom’s stocking gets filled…) or for your mom, sister, aunt, or BFF, check out my sizing video or contact me to get you in the right size.  Excuse me?  Size???  Yes!  That’s one of the great things about Flexi-Clips – they are not a one-size-fits-all item.

One of my favorite gifts that I gave to my mom was a new Bible cover similar to this one. She was with me when we were shopping that day. I told her I was looking for a gift for someone that really loves blue, and since she really loves blue, too, maybe she could help me pick out something? I showed her several Bible covers and she picked one with a beautiful tapestry of flowers on the cover. Of course, the background was blue and it included little blue flowers in the design. I told her that would be perfect, and I bought the gift for my “friend.” When Christmas rolled around and she unwrapped the gift, it was quite memorable! I’m smiling now just remembering the time.

So what else should I add as great gifts for Moms? What gift have you given, or received, that were extra memorable?

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Direct links to the hair accessories in the collage (left to right):

20th Anniversary!

20th Anniversary!

I had an awesome getaway with my hubby for our anniversary! We celebrated our 20 year wedding anniversary on the island of St John, US Virgin Islands! We spent a lot of time face down in the water, marveling at God’s creation. (Snorkeling – I got sunburned on the back of my legs only! LOL!) Still in recovery from category 5 hurricanes, Irma and Maria in 2017, we also saw much devastation.

The hiking trails, beaches, and reefs were definitely changed by these natural disasters, but recovery is coming. If you’d like to learn more about the recovery efforts, and how you can help, please visit USVI Recovery.

I’ll have to do another post on the gorgeous flora and fauna because the underwater pics are on hubby’s camera.

Y’all, this crab was huge! That big claw was bigger than my hand!

Meanwhile back home, Lilla Rose announced an exciting discount on New Stylist Kits!

With $25 off and about $15 saved on shipping, this is such an awesome value! That Fast Start option comes out to well over 50% commission when you sell those items, too!

Highlights of the Lilla Rose opportunity include :

  • Fun times playing with hair!
  • Wholesale access to all the hairthings you and your family could ever need!
  • Free website with no fees for upkeep!
  • No monthly or quarterly minimum requirements!
  • Free weekly training sessions and lots of Home Office support!
  • A strong community of Lilla Rose sisters (and a few bros)!
  • Opportunity to add to your family’s income through commissions and bonuses!

We have a neat Remarkable Opportunity group, too. It’s a place where you can gather with friends to learn about the LR business opportunity in a fun, casual, no-pressure way! You will be able to read and watch testimonials from other stylists, as well as get a small taste of the wonderful close-knit community we stylists enjoy! It is truly a powerful insight into Lilla Rose culture!

To keep the group a supportive and safe place for everyone, we do have a few guidelines: Guests must answer the entrance question of who their stylist is, and/or who invited them. (That would be me, Sue Ellen Hale, unless another Stylist invited you first.) Stylists do not try to recruit you in this group, they always refer you back to your own Stylist, and no recruiting for any other companies is allowed. Let me know if you join the group so I can welcome you! Or comment below so I can add you.

So, between the anniversary, the trip, and the enrollment special, wow what a week! Now if I can just get my body to catch up with these time changes…

When life gives you zucchini

My kids’ favorite vegetable is zucchini. Yep, all of them just LOVE the stuff!  They’d eat it morning, noon & night!  Here’s the recipe I use that got them hooked on this amazing vegetable:

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

  • 1 1/2 c shredded, raw zucchini
  • 1 c whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/4 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t pink Himalayan salt
  • 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 t ground allspice
  • 1/2 c applesauce
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 c dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 3/4 c chocolate chips (I mix milk chocolate & semi-sweet chips)

Preheat oven to 350* and grease or spray loaf pan.  Grate zucchini and set aside.  Does not need to be squeezed dry.

In mixer bowl, beat together the applesauce, sugars, eggs, vanilla until well blended.  With mixer running, add in the dry ingredients, starting with the spices first, then cocoa, then flour.  Slow mixer, or fold in grated zucchini.  Fold in chocolate chips.

Scrape into the prepared pan and bake until tester comes out clean, about 55 minutes.  Of course, if you hit a chocolate chip, your tester will not be clean, so it may take several tests. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to cool on a rack.

So, that’s why zucchini is my kids’ favorite vegetable.  Go figure.

Photos possibly coming soon…

What does it mean to work from home?

I work from home.  There’s a number of ways you can work this type of business, but for me, I do about 12 vendor shows a year, mostly work my business online, and sometimes do in-home parties.  With the ever-changing “algorithm” to deal with, and rural internet service, online work can be a challenge.  I’ve done a number of online parties, where I intended to do a live video.  Thankfully, I have a pre-recorded video stored on YouTube, I can link to when I’m in a pinch.

Imagine my surprise when my live actually worked last week!

LydiaPartyVidScreenShotAll that to give you an idea of what it means to work from home.  So here’s the scene…

I did my live video outside, on the back porch, because my daughters & husband were watching Hello Dolly (rather loudly) in the house.  I called one of the clips by the wrong size.  Goats were bleating in the background.  Sometime, when I turned around to show my hair, I was out of the screen.  My son walked in on the video, then wiped his mouth on his arm in the background.  At least he wasn’t picking his nose, right?  Then a goose started honking loudly.  All that happened within a 10 minute video.

Obviously, working from home is not always picture perfect!  If you’re waiting for everything to be in order before you start your work from home business, you’re going to be waiting forever!

But if you don’t get started, you’ll never be a business owner!  And you’ll never be growing a real business!  It’s work and it’s real life.  It’s balancing homeschool, customer follow-up, and healthy meals.  It’s things not always going as expected.  It’s stretching out of your comfort zone, but the freedom to do it from your comfort zone, with all the craziness going on around you.  It’s earning the title, “work from home mom.”  It’s teaching children to be entrepreneurs, to be responsible, and how to put labels on materials straight.  It’s having a cheering squad in the back seat when you open an incentive award package at the post office.  It’s teaching them that success is within reach, without giving up bedtime prayers.

“Network marketing isn’t perfect; but it is better!” – Eric Worre

Resources:

One of those days

wordswag_1525988318961808452499.pngHave you ever had one of those days?

No, not a bad day (that’s coming); but a day when you saw yourself and thought, “Wow! That’s me? That actually looks good!”

I had one of my daughters take a picture of my hair this morning because I was going to use it for Instagram, if it turned out ok. I did a simple hairband tuck with a Flexi twist in the back.

You can’t even see the hairband in the photo and there were about 15 blurry shots to this one shot. But I liked it! And that surprised me. And then I realized that God was using this to teach me something.

 

In our homeschool, the kids and I have been studying James.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.

– James 1:2-3

We’ve been having some deep discussions about trials and having a firm foundation. I’ve explained to them that my goal is to give them a firm foundation, to hide the Word so deep in their hearts that it automatically comes out when they face trials. That was my experience. I know it works to get me through horrendous trials. I want that for them.

I tell them, it doesn’t matter what the trial, what the world throws at you, what the deceiver tries to convince you of. If you know who God is and what the Bible really says, you don’t have to fall for it. I even wrote down a few things for them to make this point. These things I know to be true, based on who I know God to be and what His word says…even through the trials:

  • He is faithful and true to his word.
  • He is always for me.
  • He always loves me and follows hard after me.
  • He will always protect me, even through the darkest night.
  • He will never change.
  • He can never be taken away from me.
  • He will always give me direction if I ask him.
  • He will always make himself known to me when I feel alone.
  • He knows pain of betrayal.
  • He knows loss.
  • He knows what it feels like to be mocked and rejected.
  • He knows me inside and out. He loves me anyway!
  • He knows my heart when I draw it back from everyone else.
  • He will not let me stumble.
  • He will carry me through.
  • He was with me from my first breath and will be with me beyond my last.
  • He walks with me every day of my life.
  • He will never leave me.
  • He gave his life to be with me.

Now let me tell you a few things that have happened the last two weeks. We returned home from the trip to California (think vacation laundry) to discover that our washing machine had died. In the next three days, two of the children had a stomach bug. Still no washing machine. Hubby was working extra days and not home much. We have a fencing project going, and were ready to stretch the goat wire. Again, failure. The washing machine part arrived but the washer still doesn’t work. Then it started smelling hot on top of not draining. The lawnmower launched a projectile across the yard, completely shattering the back window of my van. Completely. Then the other lawnmower quit.

And one of my daughters was practicing her memory verse, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds…” on me. Thank you, Child.

Maybe it seems like this doesn’t do with the hair picture, but it does. Our (very relative, third world) trials and my seeing the bad in myself are working together. How will I respond?

I’m going to be thankful.

  • I’m thankful that I still have my hair and my accessories always look good!
  • I’m thankful that I don’t have to carry my laundry to the creek and wash it on a rock!
  • I’m thankful for a hard working husband!
  • I’m thankful that only two of six got the stomach bug!
  • I’m thankful that my husband’s car wasn’t damaged!
  • I’m thankful that none of my children were in the way of that projectile!
  • I’m thankful that my son is strong and still able to push mow!
  • I’m thankful for so much more that I can’t event write it all out!

So…all that came pouring into me today from one surprised reaction to a good hair day. I can choose to consider it all joy and look for things in which to be thankful! I can choose to give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for me! And whether things look up or not, I still have that firm foundation…And God will see me through.