Aside

Post-Thanksgiving Diabetes Update | How My Diabetes Management Fared with Dietary Restrictions

I did a lot of planning for our Thanksgiving menu. I wanted a delicious meal that would be enjoyed by everyone, even those used to eating gluten and dairy. I succeeded on that front! The day was so fun and everyone, including me, enjoyed themselves.

I did not share how my diabetes fared though. It’s all well and good to go to great lengths to exclude gluten, grains, and dairy from the menu, but if my blood glucose (BG, blood sugar level) is sky high at the end of the night, was it really worth the effort?

I am happy to report, my body managed the extra carbs superbly. I decided going into the evening meal that I wasn’t going to hold back. I wanted to see how my body would respond with a rich, indulgent meal.

**Note: For anyone not familiar with my story, I am a Type 1 diabetic (as of April 2017) who went on insulin after initial diagnosis. Upon finding the research of gluten’s effect on the gut and subsequent autoimmune triggers, I went gluten-free in April 2017. I have since refined my diet to be paleo (gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free) for continued blood sugar control. Here’s the kicker: I am not taking any additional insulin. My pancreas is still working and with diet and lifestyle control, it can keep up with the carbs I eat.**

Appetizers (4:30pm)
  • I ate 3 bacon wrapped dates. I guess I did hold back on these because truthfully I could’ve eaten the whole batch! I knew the dates are very high in carbs so I only had 3, which was wonderful and delicious.
  • I had a large scoop of the pumpkin dip with a handful of apples and maple-bacon pecans.
  • I didn’t weigh or measure anything.
  • I had one glass of wine.
Dinner (5:30pm)
  • I filled my plate with a little bit of everything.
  • Again, I did not hold back, measure, or weigh anything.
  • My plate was full, and I only went back for seconds of turkey and gravy because I really was full already (but those were SO good!).
  • I had one glass of wine.
Dessert (7:30pm)

Diabetes Glucose Meter

I tested my BG level before bed at 10:00pm: 118. Normal is around 100, and as a Type 1 diabetic, I am aiming for between 100 and 150 before bed. 118 is rocking amazing after Thanksgiving!

A.Maze.Ing.

The next morning I was a touch high for a fasting blood glucose reading: 169. This usually happens for me when (1) I don’t get enough sleep and (2) drink alcohol the night before.

Just for records sake, I ate Thanksgiving leftovers all day Friday, and my lunch BG was 117 and dinner was 106. I was high before bed (200), but I’d just had a slice of pie. 🙂

Main Point: Eating a large holiday meal did not derail my blood glucose numbers.

Holidays are not an event to dread if you have Type 1 Diabetes, any autoimmune disease, allergy, or really any ailment. You can plan a holiday meal that you and your family can enjoy without getting off track on your health management.

I wish I had a scale. Ours broke a few months ago so I don’t have proof of this, but here’s my hunch: I didn’t gain a pound over Thanksgiving. I ate mostly healthy food. Yes, we had more sugar in the form of maple syrup and honey, but everything was made from scratch: zero store-bought processed food, a little home-processed food, all in all: mostly whole foods. These homemade foods are things your body can process more efficiently, and since my body is being fed completely, without missing macros or nutrition, my body is not holding onto excess fat for a rainy day.

This can mean the same thing for you too. You can enjoy the holiday food within your diet restrictions. You CAN make it through a holiday season without gaining weight! You can flourish with the life and health you have.  

If you are suffering from an autoimmune condition. Start researching. Change your diet. You can change your life. If you have Type 1 Diabetes, get rid of gluten completely and you will greatly reduce your insulin need (potentially be able to completely stop bolusing for meals!) and have more stable blood sugar. Can you imagine the freedom?!?


Are you inspired??? I get so on fire about food nowadays. It used to be hard for me to believe that food affects your health. “You are what you eat” is TOTALLY true! The food we eat is so important. It can allow us to live healthy lives or slowly kill us. Crazy, right?! 

What changes do you think you should make? Have questions? Contact me!

Plaid Faux Fur Stocking
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Plush, Plaid Christmas Stockings | DIY Christmas Stockings You’ll Want to Actually Wear

My husband and I bought two Christmas stockings during Target’s after Christmas clearance eons ago…like 10 years. That’s an eon, right? We loved the faux shearling cuff, and kids were so far off, so why buy more than two?

Fast-forward 10 years and the 4 and 2 year old are using our old Christmas stockings. There’s nothing wrong with them, but we wanted a matching set for all of us.

I’m not sure I’ve mentioned before, but my husband is a go-big-or-go-home kind of guy. When we do something, we go all the way. So he requested a fully lined stocking with some heft, not the limpy ones that fold in half under their own weight. He would like it to keep its shape while hanging by the fireplace empty.

He also loves plaid, so that was a must when shopping for fabric. We decided on a quilted plaid for the outside of the stockings and a faux fur lining. The faux fur is SO soft, SO plush. It’s lovely. I want to sleep on it!

Let’s sew some stockings!


I look up a few tutorials. I ended up following this one on how to put the stockings together.

I deviated from the plan in the shape of my stocking and attaching the loop to the top for hanging by the fireplace. Ill point out those deviations as I go.

Making the Pattern

Most stocking tutorials use patterns that look a bit too small, either too thin of a stocking or too short. Remember, we want a substantial stocking?

I decided to use the shape of the Target stockings we already had. I simply laid the stocking on the fabric (with the cuff unfolded to account for that extra length) and traced it leaving a 1/2 inch seam allowance all the way around.

Xmas Stocking Pattern

For the toe and heal, I use my yard stick to measure 1/2 inch from the fabric and put a dot every inch or so. Then I just connected the dots to make the curves.

I used that pattern to cut out the rest of the plaid (outside stocking) and faux fur (stocking lining). Make sure to cut 2 outer fabrics with toes in opposite directions and 2 lining fabrics with toes in opposite directions. You need 4 stocking shapes for each stocking.

Stated another way, when you trace and cut out the additional pieces, cut one with the wrong side up and one with the right side up for both the lining and outer fabric. Turning the pattern over will ensure you get the toes in the right direction.

Christmas-Stocking-Pattern

Christmas-Stocking-Pattern

A note on pattern matching: the stocking will look better if you match the patterns at the seams. I tried, but I didn’t do it right. I cut it out with the plaid lined up exactly. It should’ve been shifted. Don’t be like me, look up how to match patterns correctly before you cut!

Plaid Stocking PatternSewing the Stocking

Again, I followed this tutorial, so my instructions will be very similar.

Place right sides together, toes in the same direction, and sew the lining and the outer fabric together at the top of the stocking. Do this for both side of the stocking.

Stocking InstructionsNow there should be a front and a back to the stocking, like this:

Front Back Xmas StockingHere is where I deviated from the other tutorial. I sewed my strap into the lining side of the stocking in the next step. I cut a piece of the outer fabric in a 1″x8″ long strip, over edge stitch along the sides, folded it in half, and placed it 4″ down from the top edge of the stocking.

Xmas Stocking Loop

The loop should go on the lining side (faux fur in my stocking) and on the heal side of the stocking. That way when it is hung by the fireplace, the toe hangs down. Don’t put it on the toe side because you will have to seam ripping through faux fur to move it, and that is not a walk in the park. Ask me how I know…

Before you sew the front and back of the stocking together, this is how the pieces should look.

Xmas Stocking LoopPlace front and back of stocking together with right sides together. Begin by lining up the middle seam between the lining (faux fur) and outer fabric (plaid), then work your way down each side to the toe.

Stocking Front BackPin the sides together. I put pins closer together at each curve (toe and heel) especially on the lining side (faux fur). The fur shifted very easily, and since, I’m a beginner sewer, I tend to think more is better in the pinning department.

Stocking Pin PlacementLining Side:

Stocking Pin SeqBefore beginning to sew, mark a space on the lining side of the stocking to leave an opening so the stocking can be turned right side out. The opening will be hand sewn closed later.

Then start sewing at the green dot and work your way all the way around the stocking, clockwise, ending at the other set of double pins.

Stocking Sew SeqI cut my pattern based on a 1/2 inch seam allowance, but at the recommendation of this tutorial, I sewed the lining side at 5/8 inch and the outer side closer to 1/4 inch. I say “closer” because my sewing is not that precise! Doing this will allow the lining to be slightly smaller than the outer fabric which should make it lay nicer once finished. These stockings definitely needed the extra help to lay flat. If your outer and lining fabric are closer to the same thickness, you might not need this adjustment.

My lining is thick. I mean THICK. Take a look…

Thick Stocking Lining

So I also made my stitch length longer when I sewed the lining side. This seemed to allow the fabric to move easier through my machine. See, it was kind of eating my pressure foot. 🙂

Sew Stocking LiningFinished stocking – finished with the machine sewing at least…

Xmas Stocking SewnBefore turning it right side out, trim close to the seam on the lining side and notch the curves on the outer (plaid) side.

Stocking notched

Turn the stocking right side out, carefully pulling it out of the opening left on the lining side. Voila!

Stocking Right SideHand sew the opening shut using a blind stitch. This was very difficult to do precisely on the faux fur. It was so plush, I couldn’t tell if each stitch went all the way through! The great thing about putting the opening here is no one will see it! It will be inside the stocking so none will be wiser if your hand sewing isn’t up to par, like mine!

Stocking Hand StitchCarefully work the lining into the outer fabric side. You will likely need to work the lining into the heel and toe.

Plaid Christmas StockingTurn that cuff over, and you are done!

Plaid Faux Fur StockingRevel in your handiworkXmas Stocking Finished

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

Fireplace with Stockings

Stocking LoopTake a look at that fur! It goes all the way to the toes! Just stick your arm down these stockings, and you’ll see why I want to wear them. They are SO plush and warm!

Faux Fur LiningOne more look…


I am so happy with how these stockings turned out. Our fireplace is now symmetrical and complete for our family, and Dan approves wholeheartedly! They are the thickest stockings I’ve ever seen. Much more substantial that anything found in the store.

The total cost of this project was $35 for 4 stockings: $8.75 per stocking. Not bad at all! I bought 1.5 yards of both the plaid fabric and the faux fur for the lining. It was just the right amount too. I have very little waste.

This really turned out to be a simple sewing project, so if you are a beginner, like me, you can handle it!

Christmas Stocking Tutorial


Are you making any Christmas decor this year? Stockings? Tree skirt? Garland? Wreath? Do share success or failure!

Main Bathroom Vanity Refresh
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Main Bathroom Refresh | A Low Budget (less than $700!) Face-lift

I’m working to update my Home Tour page, and I realized there are so many rooms I never shared the “finished” update. Today I’ll cover our main full bathroom. We have one full bathroom with all the bedrooms upstairs (sniff…no master bath!), and we made giving it a refresh our project last winter. Wait…2 winters ago! Wow, time flies!

Here is the bathroom when we bought the house: pinkie-beige laminate counter tops, oak vanity, and vinyl floor that I’m pretty sure was in my parent’s house growing up. The green on the walls was not a terrible color, but the finish was looking very flat and dull. It needed freshening up.

Full Bathroom Before

Full Bathroom Before

We set a budget of $500. The bathroom was fully functional. Our main complaint was it wasn’t our style. For that reason, we only planned a face-lift rather than an extensive renovation. The plan was to paint the walls, frame out the mirror, paint the light fixture, tile above the shower, add a backslash to the sink, and re-stain the vanity.

Paint the walls

I tackled the walls during nap times (naptime with a 6 month and 2 year old…how I miss you!). I painted it using Valspar Reserve. I cannot find the paint color anymore. It’s not listed on the mixer tag the store put on it. Bummer.

Frame the mirror

To frame the mirror, we bought trim from Home Depot, mitered the corners then glued it right to the mirror with mirror adhesive. We roughly followed this tutorial. We did have to notch the trim for the clips that hold the mirror, but our were much lower profile than Young House Love’s. Just a few chips with the chisel was enough to hide our clips.

We did not fully connect the frame prior to gluing it to the mirror though. We glued it one piece at a time to the mirror. This was a mistake because we weren’t able to do a good dry fit since we had four separate pieces. We were off quite a bit on the corners. I spent some time filling, sanding, filling, sanding, then more filling and sanding to make those corners look decent. Don’t do it like we did! Put the whole frame together first!

Framed Mirror Backsplash

Paint the light fixture

The light fixture was fully functioning, and although I didn’t love the style, I didn’t want to spend precious budget dollars on a new light fixture. So I spray painted it using Rustoleum’s Universal Metalic Spray Paint in Oil Rubbed Bronze. I happened to have this on hand, so all this update took was a few hours of prep and spraying then a couple days to dry. Voila, a whole new feel!

Tile Above The Shower

Here is where our super quick, super cheap update starts to fall apart. We have never laid our own tile. I always get ambitious and say I will, but then time gets tight, and we hire our friend to lay the tile for us. He’s so good, so precise, so we don’t have a hard time rationalizing hiring him! This project ended up being the absolute perfect one to hire someone to help us.

Tile above the shower seemed like such a cool idea, right? At that time, I was seeing it everywhere as an easy update without the cost and hassle of installing a whole new shower.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

The cement board above a fiberglass shower unit is not straight. Not anywhere. Not by a long shot. The corners are not square, which rarely are in any corner of any house, but the bowed walls exacerbated this issue. This “easy” tiling project quickly turned into a nightmare, took two days with the help of a professional.

Look at that curve! The curve goes all the way around the shower where the fiberglass insert slips under the cement board.

Tile Above Shower Pitfall

Dan and our friend had to cut every side of every piece of tile. I specifically picked these tiles in this arrangement to minimize cuts, and it turned out not mattering a bit. Those poor guys had to make SO many cuts.

We did do all the grout and sealing of the tile ourselves after much thanks, blessings, and beers to our friend. 🙂 That process went as planned. It was lots of rinsing and wiping, but all went as it should.

The finished shower:

Tile Above Shower FinishedBackslash Around Sink Area

Thankfully, the vanity was level and the walls were not bowed. Tiling this section was a breeze. Whew!

new faucet

Re-Stain the Vanity

Last bit of bad news on this project: the re-staining of the vanity took FOREVER! It’s really all my fault. I should’ve used a new can of stain from the get go, but I just didn’t know what would happen with old stain. Now I do: it doesn’t soak into wood. Don’t use old, improperly stored stain like I did. Buy new!

For my first attempt to stain, I used the aforementioned leftover stain from my dining room table project (years before with improper storing in between, I’m sure). It did not soak into the wood. I, of course, thought it just needed more time. So I left it on overnight. What a mistake! The next morning, I was met with a sticky, gooey mess! I had to strip the entire vanity to get it off. Since I had little kids in the house, I used a more eco-friendly stripper, and it took several coats with many days of work. This was such a morale buster. I spent so much time on this vanity. I’m happy with the result now, but I was quite demoralized during the transformation of this beast.

The second time around, I bought a fresh quart of stain, and it worked beautifully! Even though I wanted to rip this sucker out and heave him to the trash, I’m glad I stayed in budget and persevered. It is a super sturdy, fully functional vanity. Truly nothing wrong with it! Now it looks better with its fresh new clothes on!

Re-Stained Oak Vanity

But wait! That’s not the end!

Bonus Features!

That completes our original plan, but while we were in the midst of the tiling debacle, our tiling friend got a hold of some close-out vinyl wood planks. He said it would be cheap, did we want to re-do the floor?

Hmmm, well, we really wanted to keep this refresh reasonably priced, but new floors would be nice…how much?

You’ll never guess, so I’ll just tell you: $30. Thirty dollars! What?! Score of the century.

Our friend also works in flooring; hence, his access to super reasonable, close-out vinyl wood planks. He installed it for us while we were gone for the weekend, and we came home to this:

Main Bath Vinyl Wood PlanksThe floor was a game changer! The room still looked tired and old until the new vinyl wood planks were installed. Now it feels like a fresh new room!

The other score of the century was the laminate to apply to the existing counter top. We bought it in a sheet and glued it to the old laminate. The sheet of laminate was $40. Now if we hadn’t had the expertise of our friend (who also owned the right tools!), we couldn’t have installed this so cheap. (Full disclaimer: I don’t think I cleaned the edge of the counter well enough before gluing, so we chipped off those two corner pieces within a week of re-doing the counters. Sigh. Clean well before gluing anything! We still need to glue the pieces back on…another project for another day!)

One more bonus: a new faucet! We somehow landed a gift card to Amazon, and I can’t for the life of me remember how we got it. We used it though to purchase this faucet as we thought the old one was just glaringly off in light of all the newness around it.

With those three bonuses, here’s the finished look on the right side of the room:

Main Bathroom Vanity RefreshJust look where we started!

Full Bathroom BeforeAnd the left side of the room:

Main Bath Vinyl Wood PlanksFull Bathroom BeforeSo much lighter and fresher…it has new life!

 


Since I waited 2 years to share this update, I don’t have all the specs and costs for this project. We did go over the budget of $500, but not by much! I believe the total was about $660.

This project made our bathroom so much more enjoyable. I still love walking into this room two years later. The floor, the tile, the mirror frame, everything makes me smile every day!


Have you scored any awesome decor or renovation deals that just MADE the room? The faux wood planks did it for me!

Any plans to plan a low-cost refresh of a room? Do share! I love hearing other people’s plans to maximize the impact within their budget!

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Holiday Host Tips | How to Plan and Execute a Holiday Meal On Your Own

Pulling off a holiday meal for extended family takes practice. Thanksgiving this year was my most successful to date. I prepared all the items I planned (with only 1 bomb!), and they were all served at the appropriate temperature! This is no small feat, in my opinion.

I can remember my first holiday in my first house. I had my whole extended family there to help. We were using 2 microwaves, the stove and the oven, and yet somehow, not everything was hot at meal time.

The difference then versus now was a good plan. Back then, I remembering handing a recipe card and ingredients to my sister-in-law and asking her to make it using the microwave in the laundry room. Not ideal instructions nor location for cooking! Poor delegation, Emily!

I’m much more organized and prepared now (although still much to learn!), so I will share my schedule in the hopes of making your holiday meal more successful than some of mine have been.

Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start (name that tune!)…

Research and select menu

In this post, I discussed my Thanksgiving meal plan. I have dietary restrictions (gluten-free, grain-free, and dairy-free) so finding recipes took some time. I primary use Pinterest to find recipes, and you can find my ideas for my Thanksgiving menu here.

I look for recipes to follow a well rounded meal. Well, actually, I look for recipes that mimic how my mom makes Thanksgiving dinner. Those foods you grow up eating for a holiday always stick out as the best, right?

My menu would look something like this:

  1. Appetizers – I wasn’t looking for anything specific, but 3 easy recipes for hand-held/finger-food.
  2. Dinner
    1. Meat and gravy – Dan was handling this, so I didn’t actually plan anything for this.
    2. Potato – My diet is limited to sweet potatoes so that helped limit my search!
    3. Green Vegetable – Any would do, but I was partial to green bean casserole which did end up winning!
    4. Bread/Roll – Tricky, tricky with the gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free restriction!
    5. Sweet/Fruit – This category is a stretch. I was looking for fruit salad, cranberry sauce, any sort of sweet-fruit-like concoction.
  3. Dessert – Again, not looking for anything specific, and i ended up making 3 of the 5+ recipes I liked.
Grocery List and Shopping

I am a firm believer in menu planning and making a list before heading to the grocery store any time of the year. However, I can’t emphasize enough how much you need to carefully make a list if the entire holiday meal is on your shoulders.

Plan. Plan. Plan. Write. It. Down.

I don’t use a fancy app for my grocery lists. I just use a Google Sheet with a tab for each store. I regularly shop at Aldi, Meijer, and Costco with occasional stops at Harvest Health (local health store). My shopping list Sheet has 4 tabs, one for each store.

Are you ready for my crazy method?

Go through each recipe and type each item needed on the appropriate store’s tab.

Earth shattering, right??

I know it isn’t, but sometimes I just need to hear the simple things. Oh right, that’s how I would make sure I don’t miss any item.

When I need onions, I put “onions” on the list then start a count in the next column. I doubt I will only need 1 onion or even 1 bag on onions. So I keep a running tally of onions as I go through all of my recipes. Then when I get to the store, I know I need at least 14 onions. Then I can decide to buy individually or in bulk. I use this method for any commonly used item (garlic, potatoes, eggs, etc.).

Yes, I needed 14 onions! I was shopping for the entire time family was in town though, not just Thanksgiving. Want some other fun facts? I needed 17 sweet potatoes, 74 eggs, and 9 apples.

preparation the Day before the holiday

The day before the holiday is the “get as much as you can get done DONE” day.

I started with the vegetable dishes and appetizers that would keep well or reheat well the next day. The pumpkin spice dip, maple bacon pecans, and cranberry sauce were very simple to whip up then stored in the fridge (pumpkin spice dip and cranberry) and counter (pecans). I also had the sweet potato mash doing its thing in the slow cooker while I tackled all these recipes. These were done by the end of the night, cooled, covered, then put in the garage.

The cranberry sauce was made early too because I used it in the Cranberry Cookie Crumb Bars. Make sure to think about the order you make things in your prep day! It will be so much easier when cooking if you take a moment to sit down and write a timeline of all you need to make and the ideal order to make each item.

The next items I tackled the day before were the desserts as those keep very well; although, I did hesitate because some gluten-free flours spoil quickly. I ended up making my desserts Wednesday night before Thanksgiving, wrapping tightly in plastic wrap, and storing in the garage (outside was refrigerator temperature here in Michigan!). Every dish was still fresh the next day, and even still fresh 3 days later as we nibbled on leftovers. (I’m eating pumpkin pie as I write this, 4 days after I baked it!)

To tally that up, I made 7 (rather 6.5, the sweet potatoes weren’t all the way finished) of the 13 dishes I had planned. While Wednesday ended very successfully, I didn’t get the paleo cornbread recipe made which I thought might mean it wouldn’t get done on Thursday. I had to let it go. Even if I don’t get to the paleo cornbread stuffing, the meal will still be enjoyed.

The Big Day

It’s the big day! The holiday you’ve planned so much for is here! What should you do first??

First, don’t sleep in. Yes, it’s a holiday, but if you want it to be successful (meaning stress-free for you and therefore your guests), you need to be on your A-game.

Second, make a cup of coffee then make two lists:

  1. The list of dishes still to be made in the most efficient order you can think
  2. The “oven schedule” – This list states the time, temp, and dish that needs to be reheated before the main event. Ideally, everything is finished and hot at the same time!

Third, get to work (with a good attitude!). This is where I have gotten burned in the past. I let the joy of cooking leave my kitchen. I got stressed. So my kids got stressed. Then my husband gets stressed, and before you know it, the whole household is angry and bitter. This is not how to have a good holiday!

I know you know this, but I say this to remind myself, the host sets the tone. If the host is happy and relaxed, so will the rest of the family/guests. On busy days like this, I start my day asking God to multiply my time and efforts that I may accomplish all He wants for me that day. Guess what? He hasn’t failed my request, and I’ve prayed this prayer many times.

I wish I had kept my handwritten timeline of 1) and 2) above. Because it really wasn’t too daunting or long.

List of Things to Make:

  • Green Bean Casserole
  • Paleo Stuffing
  • Coconut Flour Biscuits
  • Topping for the sweet potatoes

Oven Schedule

  • 4:00 – turn slower cooker on low and top sweet potatoes with pecans
  • 4:45 – Bake stuffing for 30-40 at 350°
  • 5:00 – Bake green beans for 20-30 minutes at 350°
  • Meanwhile Dan was carving the turkey and making gravy on the stove-top

I only had 2 casserole dishes in the oven at the same time! Thanks to the slow cooker, big green egg, stove-top, and oven; we had 5 hot dishes ready and piping hot at the same time with no overcooking! Other than our grill, we have a very typical kitchen: no fancy huge range, no double ovens. We cooked this delicious meal in the kitchen you have in your home + a grill (which you just might have!).


As I reread my thoughts, it all boils down to a plan:

  • Research and Select the Menu
  • Grocery List and Shopping
  • Preparation Day
  • The Big Day
    • “Everything Still To Be Made” List
    • The Oven Sdchedule

I did make this entire meal (except the turkey and gravy) by myself. Yes, I did have Dan home to care for the kiddos, and yes, I did spend almost all day in the kitchen. It was a labor of love that was richly rewarded both in good food and good time with family.

Was your most recent holiday meal a success? Did grumpiness take over? It has for me many times, but it can be better, you can be better!

Stress-Free Holiday Meal

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Thoughts and Reflections | 5 Steps to a Use-What-You-Have Transformation

Thinking through Micah and Betsey’s office revamp, I had lots of odds and ends thoughts, ideas, musings. I’m going to wander through them in no particular order in the hopes to encourage you to love your space more and take the leap to make it work for you.


You don’t need to spend money.

We approached the home-office-with-reading-nook dilemma with a budget of $0. It’s not that we couldn’t think of ways to spend money. Au contraire, I had LOTS of ideas to add more style and function (brighter overhead light, pendants over the work space, matching desk and credenza, curtains, rugs, etc. etc.). You could spend oodles of money updating a space, all in the name of function or style. However, Micah and Betsey revamped a space to make it more functional and displaying their loves and interests all by shopping their own home. Betsey is content with the space every time she walks by. Spending money on your space will not give you more joy or make you content with your space.

You don’t have to change the quirks.

Micah and Betsey did some painting when they first moved into the house. Surprise, surprise, the colors they chose didn’t turn out the way they envisioned. This room in particular. The accent wall is the deep shade of purple that was intended.

The other three walls? They are lilac. Lavender. Periwinkle. Heather. No two ways around it, they are purple.

What were they supposed to be? Grey. Oops. I totally understand how that happened because I’ve misidentified undertones myself (lighting and other colors in the room play a role too!). I’ve cried over mis-tinted paint myself. True Story. Ask my husband. In my defense, I was pregnant and hormones were raging.

We didn’t paint this room, but we did hang art on the wall that complemented the lilac. Is it everything Betsey envisioned? No, but it isn’t an eyesore. The colors are working together not fighting each other.

You do need to invest time.

Time planning. Time mulling over your issues with the space. Time contemplating solutions to those issues. Time dedicated to doing the work.

Time. Time. Time.

A well thought out space doesn’t happen overnight with little effort. All good things take work, even $0, use-what-you-have projects.

Before you start moving furniture, buying paint, knocking out walls, take some time to ask and answer a few questions:

  1. What is the primary (and maybe secondary) purpose of the space?
  2. What is prohibiting the space from being used to its fullest potential for this purpose?
  3. What do I need (furniture, lighting, space, filing cabinets, etc.) and do I currently own an item that could fulfill this need?
  4. How could I rearrange what I have to make this space more functional?
  5. Do I need to get rid of things in the room that don’t fit the purpose of the room?

Then spend some time creating a mock-up of potential floor plans either on graph paper or use a free floor planner website (I used floorplanner.com for this project.).

You do need a buddy.

Tackling projects are so much more fun with a friend. Grab your BFF, spouse, sister-with-irrational-love-of-organizing, or whoever and have them do it with you. You will have infinitely more fun and be more likely to finish the project with an extra set of hands.

A buddy will also add an objective opinion as you sift through the accumulated stuff in a room.

  • My “Most Improved” cheerleading trophy from eighth grade? Sweetie, those days are long gone. Donate to a worthy cause or toss it.
  • My half-read books that didn’t interest me? Honey, if they didn’t keep you interested the first time you tried to read it, they never will. Find another person who might enjoy it, donate it, or toss it.
  • Wedding gifts I’ve never used (I’m looking at you ceramic canisters, glass serving plate, and cracked cake stand!) It’s been 11 years, Emily. It’s time to let go. Let’s give someone else the opportunity to use that item. Donate the usable stuff, junk the broken.

You need someone to give you these honest opinions. It is so easy to get attached to all the stuff in our house, and yet, if we can only keep the stuff we love, we will find so much more peace and contentment in our homes.

Do re-think, re-purpose, re-use

Do you have a basket you like? Put the kid toys in them!

Unused coffee table? Use it to make a functional “L” desk! Extra end table? A perfect, sturdy spot to hold the scale for your home business! (Obviously very specific to Betsey and Micah’s office, but you get the idea. This can work for any area in your home!)

Want to implement new organization in your dresser or closet that needs small boxes? (Ideally like these or these) While the store-bought boxes, do look nice and tidy like in my dresser below.

Shoe boxes work too, and they don’t cost anything! In my closet, I’ve used a combination of store-bought and regular shoe boxes to organize my clothes.

Use Shoe Boxes to Organize Your Closet

Think outside the box! I love new things as much as the next person, but I the joy and satisfaction is just as great by using what you have (and your wallet will thank you!). Think of the pat on the back you can give yourself for finding an use for an item collecting dust (Gifts from your wedding!), organizing a closet in bad need of purging (ahem, linen closet, ahem), or actually using that lovely tray someone gave you (A perfect spot for all your coffee items)! I’m speaking to myself here with examples of my own home! Purchasing another “just right” item for a project introduces “more” into your home. The items collecting dust are still collecting dust. The overflowing closet is still overflowing and may even house this “just right” item too one day. Use what you have first. The solution to your issue is probably right under your nose!


So there you have it! A brain dump straight from me to you!

I left the office project so inspired to work on various areas of my home. I cleaned out my garage before I even unpacked the car from our trip. I was motivated. I am starting on other rooms in my house too. I’ll share when I have some finished.

What are you perplexed by in your home? What would you like to change if you could? Are you working on any of these $0 transformations?

Transform Your Home

Thanksgiving Menu Review: Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, and Dairy Free

Thanksgiving at my house was full and lovely! I spent all day in the kitchen, but I enjoy doing so. I did have a little fear in my mind that I would not be rewarded with delicious food after all that effort.

Thank goodness, that did not happen. The food was delicious!

I thought it might be helpful to review each of the recipes we ended up making, and I also included my variations and tips/tricks. Many of these dishes are great any day of the year, so don’t think this menu is only for Thanksgiving. Make it for Christmas, New Year, Easter, or a birthday! You can find my inspiration board here.

I planned for the big meal to be at 5:30pm. This was for various reasons (1) it gave me more time to prepare, (2) it gave family more time to get into town, and (3) allowed for time to fix anything that went wrong in the cooking process. Appetizers were served at 4:00pm, and the family was barely hungry by 5:30. Looking back, I think I should have served the appetizers earlier or had dinner later (or both). Dessert was served to coincide with our boys bedtime snack routine: 7:30pm.

Thanksgiving Meal TimelineOverall, everything I made was delicious, but I did tweak the recipes a bit.

Appetizers

Bacon Wrapped Dates

  • Review | So Delicious! These were loved by young and old alike!
  • Tweaks | I left out the additional sugar on top. As a Type 1 Diabetic, I try to avoid unnecessary sugar. There were superb without it!  I did not have a cooling rack to bake these on so I used my cast iron grill pan (similar), and it worked great.

Pumpkin Spice Fruit Dip

  • Review | Very tasty! I paired this dip with apples and Korean pears. I went great with those an truly anything you would dip in it. I dipped the Maple Bacon Pecans in it too. Yum!
  • Tweaks | I did not make any changes to this recipes. One thing to note, it does start to separate in a warm house (i.e. one filled with people and an oven that’s been running for 12+ hours). Set it out right before you serve and put away immediately when finished.

Salted Maple Bacon Pecans

  • Review | Good! These were enjoyed by all, and my mother-in-law even asked for the recipe. Win!
  • Tweaks | I did not make any changes to this recipe, but I should have sprinkled more salt. My sea salt is a bit course so I went easy on the sprinkle. It could have used more.
Dinner

Turkey and Gravy

  • Review | Excellent, moist turkey! All adults raved about the most, tender meat. Light and dark meat alike were so juice and delicious. Our gravy was good, but not as good as previous years. Because…
  • Tweaks | I am dairy-free so we couldn’t use butter, and I think this was a huge factor in our gravy not being quite as good. It was still great gravy, but it is out-of-this-world as written in the recipe. We also didn’t use butter on the skin of the turkey. We used oil, and that worked just as well, in my opinion.

**Note: Dan took complete care of the turkey and gravy. It was awesome, and that’s all due to his insane grilling skills!**

Healthy Green Bean Casserole

  • Review | A-MAZE-ING. Seriously, this rivaled the Alton Brown green bean casserole I’ve made in the past. It was not lacking in any way from being dairy free. I may even prefer this version. The cashew cream sauce is excellent!
  • Tweaks | I did not use gluten-free bread crumbs on the onions because I guessed they would have grain (I didn’t actually look for any though!). I used almond flour for both the bread crumb and flour coating on the onions. The almond flour did not stick overly well so the baked onions weren’t as crispy and beautiful, but they still tasted good. I also used chicken stock to think the sauce rather than white wine.

Slow-cooker Sweet Potato Casserole

  • Review | Very good! It was easy and reminded me of the sweet potato souffle my mom made growing up. I made the potatoes the day before as suggested. About an hour and a half before dinner, I turned the slow cooker on low, sprinkled the pecan on, and let it cook. It turned out so good!
  • Tweaks |  I did cut the maple syrup in half when I made the potatoes. I don’t use a lot of sugar in my cooking, so even at half, I thought these were overly sweet. I’ll cut down the sugar a bit more when I make it next time.

Cranberry Sauce

  • Review | This is one of my favorite dishes in the fall. I’ve made this recipe many times, and it does not disappoint. It was tart and delicious! I even used it in the cranberry bar recipe below.
  • Tweaks |  I cut the amount of honey in half in this recipe. It makes the sauce tarter but still A-ok! Again, as a Type 1 diabetic, I need to watch my carbohydrate intake, so I try to cut back where I can, especially for special meals like this with lots of rich dishes.

Coconut Flour Honey Biscuits

  • Review | The taste of this biscuit was good, but the presentation was lacking. I just looked more closely at the post, and I think she only made 7 biscuits from her recipe (The yield is not stated clearly in the recipe). I did not notice this when I made them so I stretched my batter way too far. The muffin cups were not filled enough so the biscuits barely rose. User error! The taste was good, so I will make again, but I will double (maybe triple??) the recipe to make 12 muffins. I may reduce the oven temp too, my biscuits were a bit brown on the sides for my liking.
  • Tweaks |  I used coconut oil and followed the rest of the recipe exactly.

Paleo Thanksgiving Stuffing

  • Review | I LOVE stuffing, and this recipe made me LOVE paleo stuffing. It was SO GOOD! Everyone loved it and couldn’t believe it wasn’t made from cornbread.
  • Tweaks |  I made the recommended paleo corn bread, but I under-cooked it. So drying it out before making the stuffing took quite a bit more time. I added a heaping teaspoon of sage to the vegetable mixture. To me, sage and stuffing belong together. It was the right thing to do, I think. 🙂
Dessert

Paleo Cookie Crumb Cranberry Bars

  • Review | Tasty, tasty, tasty! I used the Alton Brown cranberry sauce recipe mentioned above, and I think this dessert was on point!
  • Tweaks |  I forgot to buy coconut sugar, so I used organic cane sugar (shame, shame!). Sometimes it doesn’t matter how good my grocery list is, I miss things! Other than that, I followed the recipe exactly.

Paleo Pecan Pie Bars

  • Review | De-Li-Cious. This was great as dessert, but possibly even better the next morning for breakfast with coffee. So. Good.
  • Tweaks |  Again, ahem, I forgot to buy coconut sugar, so I used organic cane sugar. It still turned out great and delicious.

Paleo Pumpkin Pie

  • Review | I love pumpkin pie, and this one did not disappoint! It was loved by the whole family!
  • Tweaks |  Guys! This is a gluten-free, grain-free pastry crust, and it worked! What?!? I followed the recipe exactly, but my pie ended up a bit underdone. The crust was a bit gummy and the pumpkin barely held together. This is user error, I’m sure. I just didn’t cook it long enough!

Coconut Whipped Cream

  • I ended up making up my own recipe because I didn’t want any more additional carbohydrates from sugar in this meal. I used 2 cans of coconut cream (leave the can of coconut milk in the fridge overnight then scoop the cream off the top) and whipped it with 1 teaspoon of vanilla and a dash of stevia, to taste.

Thanksgiving Menu Review


The meal was a hit. I was so relieved. Everyone was more than happy to go along with my dietary restrictions, but I wanted to cook a delicious meal. My hubby pulled me aside later and said everything was delicious. He didn’t feel like his Thanksgiving meal was lacking at all. Yay! That made my heart happy! I love to cook, but really, I love to cook for the people I love to enjoy it. Mission accomplished!

How did your Turkey Day meal turn out? Any disasters? Anything even more delicious that you thought it would be? Try anything new?

 

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Micah’s Office, Part 2 | A Use-What-You-Have Home Office Transformation

See the first part of the story here. The problem, thought process, and rational behind the decisions.


Quick reminder: here is where we started:

Desk/Work Area

Following the floor plan mentioned before, the L desk arrangement was rotated to have the coffee table along the left wall and Micah’s desk jutting out into the middle of the room. This puts Micah’s work space directly under the overhead light. Light issue resolved! Yes! Well, partially, the coffee table is still somewhat shadowed (because the light is still behind Micah once he turns to work at the coffee table) so we kept the desk lamp on the desk but switched the side it’s on so that it illuminates the coffee table area.

The tall thinner bookshelf was purged (Betsey and I were on a mission to get this room functional, so we used this time to also get rid of anything they didn’t need anymore.) then relocated to their guest bedroom.  Yay for more breathing room!

The tall and wide, cube bookshelf was moved to the center of the back wall. It is no longer looming on the left when you enter the room. It gives more balance in this location. (Pardon the blurry composite photo…I did not spend enough time getting the right shots of this room!)

The short cube bookshelf was moved to go in front of Micah’s desk. The purpose here was threefold (1) to hid the cords and other disarray from the computer, printer, and label maker; (2) to provide a landing zone for the books Betsey and Micah are currently reading (and will need to grab to make use of their reading spot); and (3) to provide an area to display the decor items they love and have special meaning.

In the back right corner of the room is the first spot that was free to use the decor items Betsey had collected and loved but couldn’t figure out how to make work in a room. Notice the two baskets in the bottom left corner of this before picture.

Betsey had two lovely baskets, but they didn’t have a good home. They had wandered around the room, more out of being in the way than adding to the visual pleasure, if you will, of the room. I love the blue in the wicker vase. Whatever faux plants these are, they play well off the lavender walls.

Their home is now the right front corner with a bird print above it. The colors play nicely with each other and the wall, and we’ve put to use some pretties that have been homeless for years!

The Reading Nook

Betsey has a love of papasan chairs. She has two double papasan chairs in her home. I wanted this chair to look homey and intentional in this room.

When I think of a reading nook, I think it needs three things:

  • Comfy, cozy place to sit or lay
  • A light source
  • Meaningful decor
  • A place to set a drink or book

We accomplished almost all those things in this space:

  • Comfy, cozy place to sit or lay – double papasan chair
  • A light source – I moved the unused, not even plugged in, floor lamp from the back left corner to sit in the space behind the chair. Since this is an upward facing light, it also helps to illuminate the whole room. Micah could even turn it on for more light while working. Double win!
  • Meaningful decor – Betsey had a motivational collage she’d created that we hung above the chair. This is very personal, but I think your home should speak to you and give you pleasure when you see it. This picture gives her pleasure and reminds her of things she strives for. This is perfect and lovely for this spot.
  • A place to set a drink or book – We didn’t get this in place yet. The office was quite crowded with books (remember, Micah had just brought home 300!), and I didn’t want to over crowd the space. I may revisit this later with them, but for now, there’s no where to set your cup of hot cocoa while you read. 🙂

After the furniture was all moved into its new home, I had Betsey lay out on the floor all the art work and decor items she’d collected over the years. We set to work hanging things on the walls. I think hanging pictures/artwork and curtains do wonders to make a room feel like home.

We hung the motivation poster above the papasan chair.

We hung the bird print above the baskets in the corner.

We created a collage with a bunch of different pieces above Micah’s work space. This is my favorite part. We laid the arrangement out on the floor first and moved pieces in and out, and tweaked and tweaked until we had an arrangement we liked. The best part of this? Using beautiful pieces they received for their wedding (8 years ago!) but had never had a home. All of these pieces hold meaning to Micah and Betsey in some way.

Well, except the clock. I made them put the clock in. It was left in the house by the previous owners. It doesn’t even work, and Betsey hates the noise of a ticking clock so she wouldn’t let me put new batteries in. Ha! So I guess not everything has meaning. 🙂

Micah’s had a couple weeks to work in the new space, and I’m happy to report it is working out well! We are still finding a solution for his scale.

The best part of this project? It cost $0 and only 3 hours of elbow grease. The elbow grease would’ve been significantly less if we didn’t have 300+ books to move out and then back into the room. We moved all the furniture, purged, and organized during naptime on a Saturday (about two hours) then decorated for about an hour the next morning.

All of this was great fun for me, the planning, thinking, mock-up of the design, but the best part is this:

I️ just love that everything is in a place with purpose.

I like purpose, function, AND beauty in a space.

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Micah’s Office, Part 1 | Rekindling an old flame: Organization, Flow, and Home Decor

Not THAT kind of old flame, folks! Get your minds out of the gutter!


I had an opportunity this month to work with my sister and brother-in-law (Betsey and Micah) to reorganize and decorate their home office. I have to tell you; it was so much fun. I haven’t done a home project for anyone else before, and it was invigorating, therapeutic, and just tons of fun.

How it all began: during some discussion with my sister, she mentions her husband’s, Micah, office set-up is less than ideal. She rattles off a couple issues quickly: lighting, surface space, and a room that looks like everything just landed in the room.

The bells immediately start ringing in my head: I could help her reorganize. I could probably help troubleshoot the layout and space issues. This is something I’ve always wanted to do – would she let me help?!

I offer my assistance, and she says yes! Woot! I’m so geeked! I love organizing and decorating my own home, and it has been a dream of mine to help others make their homes beautiful and comfortable too. Here’s my first chance!

So let’s walk through what happened!

Setting the stage: Micah works from home selling books online. So when he brings a bunch of books home, the room is littered with books. Quite literally, stacks of books everywhere. When we scheduled the weekend to do the reorganization, he had just brought home 300 books. 300. It’s quite the mess until he gets them processed and shipped out. The great thing about this is I got to see the office in action. I saw the version Micah has to work with everyday, not the cleaned up version. So it turns out, it was perfect time to re-do the office that weekend.

Before

Disclaimer: These are a photos Betsey sent me as we were working through the design process. This is not post-300 book invasion. This is a more “normal” amount of books.

Problem Areas
  1. Lighting – There is only one overhead light, centered in the room. Micah’s desk is currently along the back wall putting the light behind him and casting a shadow over the desk when he’s working. To compensate for this, he has the tall desk lamp on the desk to illuminate his work area. Never mind the floor lamp in the corner. It’s not even plugged in!
  2. Scale – Micah weighs each box of books before they are shipped, and he does not have a spot to put his scale. He currently puts it in another room so he’s walking the books back and forth as he works.
  3. Dog Stuff – The precious pooch’s accessories need a home. Currently it’s an overflowing basket that sits on the floor.
  4. Intentional Design – They would like the office and reading space to look intentional. It has a “it just landed here” look about it.
Design Process (aka Mulling it Over)
  1. Lighting – Personally, I dislike furniture pushed against the wall. It makes the most room for walking in the middle of the room but makes for poor aesthetics. If we move his desk under the light, then we don’t need to buy new lights, rearrange outlets, or ceiling lights.
  2. Micah clearly needs an L-shaped desk for his work. He does data entry on each book then uses the coffee table to sort, package, and mark boxes for shipping. So the desk/coffee table arrangement needs to stay.
  3. Scale – I completely forgot to work in the scale. Sorry, Micah! Working that out with him now, I’ll update when that is worked in to the room. **Update – We’ve found an unused end table to hold the scale. Now the desk area is roughly “U” shaped. See after photos in the next post.**
  4. Dog Stuff – Betsey actually worked this out before I arrived. She found an open shelf in the closet by the front door so she popped the dog basket up there. Problem solved!
  5. Intentional Design – I rolled this issue around in my mind for at least a week before coming up with a new, intentional room arrangement. Our budget was $0 so I had to work with the pieces either in this room or shop their house for other options.
Floor Plan

All the bookshelves were on the left wall. They were both tall, which is fine, but they were too heavy, visually. The room was heavier on the left than the right. The design plan needed to keep the cube bookshelf as is very functional when Micah brings in 300 books to sort and ship. The other bookshelf held their personal books (but not books that were read often, just ones they didn’t want to part with) and was not necessary to keep in that location. Done, that piece is out of this room!

I suggested to move the large cube bookshelf to the center of the back wall. (1) It does not need to be well-lit as Micah is usually slowly loading or unloading it throughout his work day. It is simply there to hold books until Micah can work with them at his desk. (2) It is a large piece of furniture that could balance the room if in the middle rather than to one side without anything opposite to balance it.

Betsey has a double papasan chair that she wants to stay in the room and create a reading nook. I like it’s placement in the front right corner of the room, but any good reading nook needs a light and some decor.

Moving the L desk arrangement to the middle/left side of the room leaves the back of Micah’s desk exposed, and the back of any desk that holds a computer is rarely pretty. Cords galore! To solve this unsightly issue, I suggest moving the small cube bookshelf to back up to Micah’s desk. This will give Betsey a place to decorate and still hold personal books to grab when she’s reading in the papasan chair. Also moving the small bookshelf creates some empty space on the right side of the room, allowing for an area to decorate and let the room breathe.

Extra shipping boxes – For the most part, Micah buys new boxes to ship out the books, so he needed a place to keep the flat boxes. I suggest at the end of the coffee table, in the back left corner of the room. This way they are close to the coffee table where he loads up the boxes, but they are purposefully placed in the nook created in that corner.

Betsey and Micah had collected many pictures and artwork through the years but never took the time to put it up on the walls.

Tary no longer! Those lovelies are being hung! Tune in soon to see the afters!

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Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, and Dairy-Free Thanksgiving Menu

Thanksgiving is almost here! Holidays with dietary restrictions can be tricky, but with a little bit of research and preparation, you can enjoy the holiday meal just as much as the next guy.

I did some searching on Pinterest, and there are recipes a PLENTY for modified traditional Thanksgiving recipes. You can check out my Thanksgiving board here. Quick reminder, due to my Type 1 Diabetes (an autoimmune disease that is aggravated by some foods) we are currently eating grain-free (which also means gluten-free, just more strict) and dairy free.

Don’t worry, folks. There is still so much to enjoy even with these restrictions! Shall we begin?

Appetizers

Multiple courses makes any meal feel like a party, and Thanksgiving is the perfect time to pull out all the stops! There is a very practical need for appetizers too: my kids get hangry. We will be having our traditional Thanksgiving meal at dinner time which means my kids will be eating their legs around 4pm. Or my legs…

I’m planning bacon wrapped dates, maple bacon pecans, and a fruit tray with a pumpkin spice dip. I think that will hold them over until the main event, which just might be late…you never know!

Main Course

Turkey

Dan and I went to college with a local turkey farmer, so we’ll be picking up our bird from Otto’s Turkey Farm in Middleville, MI. The turkey is Dan’s territory so I know he’ll be smoking it on his grill (we’ve got a Big Green Egg), but beyond that, I don’t know his method. Likely he’ll create a spice rub and cover the bird in that along with oil. Spices are gluten-free (as long as plain spices are used, not pre-blended ones), and butter will be avoided. We do have ghee though (clarified butter) so maybe he’ll use that instead of oil…we shall see!

Gravy

Also Dan’s department. He’s made some rockin’ gravy in the past so I’m quite excited about this. He goes a traditional route that includes the drippings, gibblets, and veggies. I will post a how-to or a link to the recipe if he’s following one. This gravy is to die for. It is so much richer and hardier than other types.

Bread

I will be making these coconut flour biscuits. I hope to get a trial run in before the big day, but I’m not sure I’ll get it in. I’m very curious how the texture and flavor will be.

In general, I don’t miss bread, but I want my family and extended family to have a bread at the meal. I think this one looks tasty.

Potatoes

White potatoes are not a part of my diet right now, so I’ll be making a sweet potato casserole instead (or maybe this one). There are so many delicious looking/sounding sweet potato recipes out there these days. This dish will be delicious, I know!

Cranberry Sauce

Alton Brown never lets me down! I’ve been making his recipes for years, and they are delicious and foolproof! I will be making his cranberry sauce, as I have in the past, it is gluten/dairy-free as is!

Dressing

I love love love dressing or stuffing, not sure what the difference is. I’m slightly concerned that this dish will bite me as not quite as delicious without gluten. I won’t be making it ahead of time, so it’s going to be great or a great disappointment!

I do love the flavor of celery, sage, and butter in my dressing, so I think I’ll alter the recipe a bit and add sage. I’m sure it won’t hurt!

Green Bean Casserole

I found a couple recipes, and I think this one looks the best. Read the ingredient list carefully! There are items with gluten, make sure to make a substitution.

  • whole grain bread crumbs –> GF bread crumbs or maybe almond flour
  • all purpose flour –> I think coconut flour or arrowroot powder would work
  • soy sauce –> tamari or coconut aminos
  • white wine –> most are fine as long as not barrel aged, chardonnay is NOT ok, use something else

Dessert

This category is the most likely to change. SO many good options! I’ll list some I’m considering:

  1. Pumpkin Cheesecake – I’m so curious how this will be without dairy! This has a more “normal” list of ingredients. I did come across one that had cauliflower and cashews as primary ingredients…Dan vetoed that one.
  2. Pumpkin Pie – I’m intrigued by the pie crust. I haven’t tried a grain-free pastry crust yet. I do love almond crusts though (like a graham cracker-style crust but with crushed almonds).
  3. Pecan Pie Bars – I think a spin on traditional pecan pie would be great!
  4. Cranberry Crumb Bars – Yes, please. I just love anything with cranberries!
  5. Coconut Whipped Cream – to lather liberally on ALL desserts!

So there you have it! Way too much food for 6 people, but Thanksgiving is all about leftovers, right? I hope this encourages and inspires you. With a little research, every meal, even holidays, can be delicious with diet restrictions.

What are you having for Turkey day??

A Thanksgiving Tip: An Airpot for Hot Beverages

In our house, we love our coffee, and when we love something, we go all out.

We grind our own beans (coarseness of 26 on our grinder), heat water to an exact temperature (I like 194°, but Dan likes 185°.), we pour in a specific pattern, and we weigh the beans and water (50g of beans to 900g of water). A touch obsessive you might say, but it makes AWESOME coffee ever time. I like awesome coffee every time, not burnt one day and weak the next.

The biggest drawback of this method is serving coffee to guests. Our coffee pot is only big enough for the amount of coffee Dan and I drink in the morning. Keeping extra pots hot is an issue, we don’t have a warmer, and when we have guests, we spend a lot of time brewing coffee that we’d rather spend chatting around the table.

Our solution: the airpot!

This little beauty is not a big investment at all. I think we spent $35 on Amazon. It holds 101 ounces (3 liters) of a hot or cold beverage. For us, that translates into 3 pots from our Chemex.

While it does take some prep, warming the pot then brewing 3 pots of coffee to fill it. It is so nice to have your guests wander into the kitchen in the morning to hot, fresh coffee which they can refill without having to ask to brew another pot! Life changing, I tell ya!

With Thanksgiving next week, we will be using this everyday, likely a couple times a day! Fully caffeinated brew in the morning and decaf with dessert in the evening, It will be getting a workout for sure!

Any other tips to share for making the holidays easier and more enjoyable?