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Gluten Free Vegan Pumpkin Gingerbread Pie

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A week or two ago, I posted about how I had always wanted to try baking a pumpkin pie from scratch. With it being the holiday season, I thought it was fitting to invite all of you to join me in a challenge of sorts. I thought maybe some of you might like to bake your pie from scratch too.

I understand that not everybody has the time, or the patience. For some people, pouring a can of pre mixed puree into a frozen pie crust is completely acceptable, and hey- whatever works for you. Some of you may have said "yes! I've always wanted to bake a pie from scratch, I'm doing it!", and then something came up, and it just didn't happen. Thats ok too.

Its never too late to get your pie on.

The day before Thanksgiving, I did it. I looked my baking pumpkin (that I had previously bought from the commissary), straight in the face, and told him to get ready for one heck of a day. I washed him up, cut him in half, and threw him into a hot oven, promising him that by the time the sun went down, he'd emerge a beautiful pie.

And that, is how you do that.

After my pumpkin was all pureed to a creamy orange mush, and I was good and proud of myself (really, I was beaming with domestic rays of sunshine)- It was time to bake my pie.

I had a kinda-sorta idea of the flavors that I wanted to mix, but couldn't find a recipe to match my plan anywhere. So I wrinkled up my forehead, looked awkwardly over my shoulder at my 3 year old, anxiously awaiting her approval for taking on another challenge, and dug both of my hands deep into the spice cabinet. I have failed (totally bombed, burnt, and been defeated) at creating many recipes in my kitchen, so I have to admit, I was scared. I had worked so hard on roasting my pumpkin, and made such a huge mess of the kitchen (I clean up as I go, though), I knew I'd be devastated if my pie turned out horribly. Too bad I had my heart set on a pumpkin gingerbread pie, huh?


I ended up creating the most beautiful pie in the world. Just like I had promised my nervous baking pumpkin earlier in the day. I try to hold true to my word like that.


The Crust:
-1 bag of gluten free vegan gingersnaps.
-4 tablespoons Earth Balance.
-2 tablespoons soy creamer.

Crush up cookies. Mix with melted Earth Balance and Soy Creamer. Put into greased pie pan. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.

The Pie:
-2 cups of pureed pumpkin.
-3/4 cup soy creamer.
-1 cup sugar.
-2 Tbsp Earth Balance.
-1/2 tsp vanilla.
-1 tsp ginger.
-1/4 tsp nutmeg.
-1 1/2 tsp cinnamon.
-1/4 tsp cream of tartar.
-1/2 tsp baking powder.
-1/4 tsp xanthan gum.
-1/2 tsp salt.
-4 Tbsp tapioca starch.

Combine all of the above ingredients in a blender. Blend it up. A lot. Pour into your pre baked homemade pie crust. Cover the edges of the pie with foil, so that your crust doesn't burn. Bake your pie at 350 degrees, for 90 minutes. Yes, 90.

Do not eat this pie until it has completely cooled. Wait until the next day if you can. I know, its hard, but- trust me?

And if all goes well, you'll have something that looks something similar to...

Did you bake a pumpkin pie completely from scratch? If you did, thats rad. Seriously, rad. I'm really anxious to see your pies. Please leave the link to your pictures and recipe on the link list below. I won't be surprised if my list looks a little empty, but I hope that as the holiday season continues, y'all will join in on the challenge. Because like I said earlier, its never to late to get your pie on.

I've made a couple of buttons, to display on your blog if you'd like (I've got mine over there on my right sidebar, tee hee).

pie button

pie button

And link up!

Trimming the Tree

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The day after Thanksgiving, as tradition holds, we put up our Christmas tree.

Growing up in Washington state, on a Christmas tree farm no less, we always had freshly cut trees. I'd go with my dad each year, he was dressed in a thick quilted flannel, carrying a chainsaw, and we'd pick the perfect tree, chop it down, and carry it back home. He'd throw it over his shoulder, and we'd walk down the gravel road back to the house together. I think there were a few years where we drove, but those aren't the times I remember. When I close my eyes and concentrate hard enough, I can still feel the sting of the cold on my finger tips and nose. I can smell the saw dust that lingered in the air, long after the chainsaw had stopped running. And best of all, I can hear my dads laugh, as if he were sitting here right next to me.

There was no announcement to indicate the last year of our tradition. No red flag, no hint of "enjoy this while you can Tia, because this is the end of the road for you". One year it just, stopped. Life got rocky, for my parents. We moved from our home on the Christmas tree farm, into a house in the city. 6 months after the move, our house flooded. We continued to live there for a few years, things never having gone back to normal after the disaster, but then moved from that house, to a new house, back out in the country- only to have that house taken away, for reasons beyond my parents control. By that point, my dad had turned into a total Grinch, and Christmas was more of a chore to him than anything else.

We never went out for another Christmas tree.

Maybe if our Christmas tree hunting would have ended on a better note, I'd be more interested in continuing on with the tradition, but because it breaks my heart to think about the transformation in my dads holiday cheer, I haven't wanted another live tree since.

My first Christmas in Portland, when I lived in my 300 square foot studio apartment, I had borrowed a little fiber-optic tree from a friend of my moms. It was beautiful though, perfect for me and my new downtown girl city life. By that point, I had met Christopher. He flew home for Christmas that year, to visit his family up in Boise, and I remember one night laying on my bed alone, watching my tree flash from one color to to the next, wondering what life had in store for me. I was laying in my apartment. Next to a fake tree. There were a few gifts under it, things that I had gotten for some friends of mine, wrapped in newspaper that I had gotten from the deli on the corner. It was a completely different kind of Christmas that I was used to.

It was at that moment, that I realized, Christmas can be whatever I want it to be. And I want it to be wonderful, no matter what. I want it to be magical.

Years later, after Christopher and I had gotten married, moved down to Texas, and had our first child, we decided to buy a tree. Not a real tree, but a fake tree, that we could count on being in our lives every year. Our tradition, would be to put up our 7ft Martha Stewart tree (we got it at a 50% off sale, snagged the last one right off the display) the day after Thanksgiving. We would listen to Christmas music and decorate everything in sight, until Christmas spirit is spilling out of our ears. There will be no bah humbugging allowed in this house, ever. No matter what.

You're going to be cheery, and you're going to like it.

Eleanore loved hanging up the ornaments. She got so overwhelmed by the excitement that she started tripping over her own feet, and stumbling on her words. She went on and on and on about "trimmings" and "Santa Claus". You know the part in a Charlie Brown Christmas, where Lucy is asking Linus to play Jingle Bells? Well that's Eleanore's favorite part.

"Play Jingle Bells. No, Jingle Bells! You know, like Santa Claus, and ho ho ho, and mistletoe, and presents for pretty girls?"- shes constantly making us reenact that scene with her, haha. And as annoying as it can get, we love it.

At the end of the night, our tree was set up in its corner, surrounded by Jingle Bears, Christmas records, and pinwheel ornaments. We're officially in the Christmas spirit. And the Grinch, well he'll be visiting us for the first time ever, in approximately 4 weeks. I think Eleanore, in her adorable red and green tutu, can show him a thing or two about how Christmas is done.

Week 18

Friday, November 27, 2009

I wanted to flashback to a past Thanksgiving, but as I was searching for proof that I've been eating turkey since I could sit up on my own, I realized that somehow Turkey day managed to jump out of the cameras view more than once. I can't find a single picture from mine and Christopher's first couple of years together. Being the OCD picture taker that I am now, I can't imagine not having taken pictures back then. I guess we didn't get our first digital camera until I was pregnant with Eleanore. Wow. How things change.

Eleanore was born in the summer of 2006. Shortly after, we moved from our training base, down here to good ol' Dyess. Before living in the luxurious 2 story house that we're blessed with right now, we lived in a tiny ant infested apartment. But to us, that tiny apartment was the best place we had ever lived. It was our first home together as a family.

Our first Thanksgiving dinner was prepared and eaten, all while the little one slept. She cozied up in her travel size aquarium swing, set in the center of the living room floor, while Christopher and I tucked ourselves away in the cave like kitchen, and playfully celebrated all of the things that we had recently become thankful for.

Our new home.
Our beautiful new baby girl.
Each other.

We didn't have a kitchen table, and we didn't want to wake up the babe, we sat down and enjoyed our first Thanksgiving dinner as a married couple, on the carpeted area that separated the kitchen from the rest of the apartment.

Share a flashback with us! By now some of you have become flashback regulars, and we love it! I sit down on Friday nights and reach each and every memory that you type out- who needs going out with the girls anyways? I'd rather stay in with my blogger friends *nerd alert*.

If you'd like to post a flashback, leave your link on the list below. Please make sure you link from your post, back to this post as well, that way more people can come along and play. I love it when I see a new face on the lineup.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I'm not a big fan of video blogs. I don't usually watch them when somebody else has posted one, mostly because I never turn the sound on when I'm at the computer (is that weird? Am I the only one that prefers the silence?), and also because I don't have the attention span to sit down and watch an entire video blog entry that lasts longer than 60 seconds (sometimes not even that).

Today, between mashing potatoes and grating carrots, I decided to grab the family, minus the sleeping baby (and did I mention I went for a 4 mile run this morning? woot woot!), and make a quick web cam video to say Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. I should have made a script for us, because after watching it, I see how nervous I was, and how awkward both Christopher and I feel in front of the camera, but- Eleanore's performance is classic, and I couldn't ruin it with a redo. If anyone has any idea what shes saying, please, feel free to chime in, haha...

So anyways, Happy Thanksgiving everybody!!

(Don't forget to take pictures of your baked from scratch pumpkin pies!!)

Your Turn, Boys.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Eleanore wasn't the only one that was due for a haircut. On my weekend to do list, was "cut Christopher's hair" and "cut Charlie's hair". I scratched both of those things off the list on Sunday afternoon, a pen in one hand, a pair of clippers in the other. The vintage red polka dot apron that I'm wearing in the picture is my "craft apron", even though its used for haircuts too. I'm pretty sure its one of the few things that I have left from the wonderland of a thrift store known as the Portland Bins, and I love it.

We sat baby boy down in his high chair with an assortment of Glutino crackers to distract him, and I did as much hair buzzing as I could, as quickly as I could. I meant to keep it longer on the top, but once I got started, there was no turning back. It doesn't matter how his hair is cut though, hes a handsome little man that looks adorable no matter what, amIright?

As soon as I finished Charlie's hair, I moved onto Christopher's hair. Same ol' same ol' for him. Short on the top, even shorter on the sides. I love it when his hair has been freshly cut. What I don't love though, is when his course little hair slivers get lodged into my skin like splinters, which happens way more often than not. I'll deal with it though. It beats paying $8 down at the base salon every two weeks.

Somebodies gotta give the haircuts around here, and even though I might not be the best at it, and I might not be dressed up all cute like the girls with their cosmetology degrees, that loving somebody with the scissors and clippers in hand, will always be me.

Goodbye Goldilocks

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sometimes things just don't go as planned, do they? Sometimes you have to put down whatever it is that you're working on, grab a pair of scissors, and hack off your daughters hair.

I don't know what it was exactly that triggered my madness, but on Friday, I couldn't stand to comb even one more strand of tangled blond hair. When Eleanore answered "YEAH!" to "do you want to get a haircut?", that was it- I grabbed the scissors and went for it. I pulled her hair into a purple pony holder, told her to hold real still, and jaggedly cut off 6 or more inches of her beautiful hair.

My heart sank to my feet when I was finished. I had been holding onto her gorgeous hair for so long now, as if it were a symbol of her baby years. When she was around 18 months old and her hair really started growing in, I would daydream about the day that it would grow long enough to pull into french braids. That day came and went, and I loved it. The longer her hair got, the longer I wanted it to get. It was gorgeous. Unfortunately, the longer it got, the thicker it got, the more tangled it got, the more she cried when I brushed it-

Goodbye Goldilocks.

Random Pretties

Monday, November 23, 2009

Nothing makes me happier than getting mail. Postcards, notes, bills, catalogs (ok not always catalogs, but sometimes they're not so bad, right?), and especially- packages.

I'm not usually the one that goes out to the mailbox, Christopher typically pulls up beside the box on his way home from work to see if anything has come that day. Sometimes, if I'm really lucky, he walks in the door with a box. And the other day, I was really lucky.

I got a package (!!!) from one of my favorite Etsy shop, Random Pretties.

Not just any package either, it was a brightly colored super stuffed box full of awesomeness!

Inside my delivery, was a really cute tea cup zipper pouch- perfect for putting my tea bags and packets of stevia in. All of the supplies that I would need to make the cutest hand sewn pinwheel Christmas ornaments. And my very favorite part: a cute little sewing supply book, just my style.

The reason I got so excited over my new skull craft book, is I've never had my own sewing kit. Ever. I can't sew. I want to sew, I daydream about being able to sew, but I just can't do it. I took a home economics type class in both middle school and high school, and the results were less than presentable. I can't even sew a straight line on a brown paper bag. I suck at sewing. Christopher, my husband, has more sewing supplies than I do.

I couldn't wait to dig into my ornament kit, stab my fingers with my new needles (which I did, several times, and it hurt, and I hated it, but I loved it), and make some random pretties.

It took me two days to finish this project. Not because it was hard, it was actually really easy, which is rad for the no-sew kinda gal like myself, I just don't have time to sit down and focus on something for more than a little while at a time, ever. This was perfect, actually.

Um, I had Christopher help me iron.
Doesn't he look cute?

I hate ironing. Hate hate hate. I'm always afraid that I'm going to burn a hole into the fabric, burn myself, or burn the dang house down. Christopher had to iron his uniforms all by himself while he was in basic/tech school, so... hes had a lot of practice.

After two days of going back and forth to the dining room table (who really eats at their table anyways?), cutting a corner here, sewing a button on there- I was finished! I made 8 beautiful pinwheel Christmas ornaments!!

I strung the ornaments up together on a strand of red wire, banner style, above the dining room window, where our Christmas tree will be going (the day after Thankgiving, of course). Eleanore calls them "flowers", rather than ornaments. I call them perfect. The best part of all though, is that I sewed them myself.

You guys, I sewed something.

If you want to sew some of these super easy and oh so cute pinwheel ornaments as well, click here to get yourself the tutorial! You can make these for yourself, your friends, your family, using whatever fabrics you have on hand (or if you don't have any fabric, the recipe calls for very little, it will cost you next to nothing). You can hang them on your tree, or hang them up banner style like I did. Either way, they'll brighten your space.

Random Pretties is offering a discount to all of you! Enter discount code "TIA" at checkout (tee hee, thats me), and you'll get 20% off of your order. Heck yes! Nessa is pretty rad that way.

She has more than just ornaments in her shop too, shes got really cute clothes for the littles (I purchased a very cute custom birthday dress for Eleanore's 3rd birthday from her), little purses and pouches, bibs- lots of cuteness. You won't be disappointed that you clicked your way over there. Promise <3

Pictures By Christopher

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Before I met Christopher, he was really into photography. Not digital photography, but the old fashioned film developing kind of photography (a slowly dying, if not completely dead art, for sure). Over the past couple of years, I've kinda knocked him and his lens out of the way, with my big camera hogging butt. I'm not proud of this, I'm actually quite ashamed. His hobby became mine, though not with film, I prefer digital. I honestly didn't mean to take over, its just something that eventually happened.

Recently, I've been handing him the camera (I have project 365's set up for both of the kids, and sometimes I just can't keep up), and asked him to take some pictures. When I come home from doing whatever it is that I've been out doing, he greets me at the door, eager to show me the shots that hes snapped while I was away. I'm not as excited for his pictures as I am for my own, not because they're not good- they are, just because I'm not the one that took them. So while they don't hold quite as much meaning to me, because I wasn't there, during the editing process (I'm still the one behind the mouse when it comes to that part), I have noticed that hes gotten quite a bit better at capturing the moment (blurry pictures of electronics from 5 years ago just weren't anything to gawk at), his photos are beautiful, and I wanted to share a few of his recent frames with you...

I'd like to toss in a semi public apology.

I'm sorry Christopher, for stealing your hobby. Your pictures are wonderful. I love you.

Its Bittersweet

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Here on base we have an air park, also known as the airplane graveyard, that spans from the front gates all the way down to the end of the entrance road- its about 3 miles long. The air park consists of old planes that have been grounded and put on display, but aren't completely out of commission, since sometimes the guys have to go out and take parts from them still, haha. We went down to look at the planes on Veterans Day. I took my camera, Eleanore played in flower patches, and we payed our respects. I may or may not have taken a Santa hat and forced the kids into Christmas card style poses.

We've lived here since the beginning of Christopher's enlistment. We had our beautiful baby girl, Eleanore Sue, while we were stationed at his first training base, and then when she was just a month old, we drove 3 hours south to settle in at Dyess, and call it home. We spent the first two years of our new life, wishing for nothing more than to get orders out. Every time he called me in the morning, I'd think "yes, he got orders", because why else would he call me so early? Half the time, it was his butt dialing.

When we got pregnant with Charlie, we were blessed with a brand new two story house, just built, tools still in the garage (along with a giant black widow, which I've heard is good luck- not if it bites you though, right? Har har.) upon our viewing. Maybe life here wouldn't be so bad? The house was perfect, our family was growing, and then with time I overcame some of my personal battles and realized that it wasn't where I lived that I hated, it was how I was living. I started to like Dyess. No, I started to love it.

Its become comfortable. Its become home.

And then the other day, at 7am, my phone rang...

Christopher has been approved for his retraining.

Just as I was starting to love my new home, its time to leave it. I've heard this is how things work in the military, "your last base is always the best base", they say, but I've never experienced it.

Of course I'll share more details as they come along, but for now we play the waiting game (hurry up and wait, all of my military friends are familiar with that one I'm sure). When do we move to his next training base? Its only 2 hours south of here, and we'll only be there for 6 months. When do we PCS (permanent change of station) to our new home? Will we go to California, or Virgina? Will we buy our first house? Will his new job make him happier? Is the best thing for our family? How do I tell my daughter how to say goodbye to her best friend? How do I say goodbye to the friends that I've made? So many questions that remain to be answered.

We can't wait to start this exciting new chapter of our lives.

But it sure is bittersweet.

Week 17

Friday, November 20, 2009

Did you ever have one of those super fun Polaroid izone sticky film cameras? One time while I was shopping at Fred Meyer (back when we lived in Portland, probably when I was still in high school) I found one on sale (who am I kidding, I would have payed full price if I had to), and it just happened to be Backstreet Boys themed. It came with stickers of their faces to stick on the camera, and BSB lyrics printed on the edges of the film. It was awesome.

I ended up buying sticky film by the truck loads, and taking my izone with me everywhere. Somewhere along the lines, this picture was taken...

Thats not a wig on my head, and Christopher isn't wearing that Santa sweater for a tacky "Christmas sweater party". Thats was how we really dressed. We still have that Christmas sweater, actually. We found it recently while going through a box out in the garage, and you can see a picture of me wearing it on this flashback post. I think since finding it burried with the old clothes, we've donated it to somebody else who can help it get its wears worth (so ignore the comment I made a few sentances ago where I said that we still have it, because as I've just corrected- we don't). We've given it all the love that we have to give.

Side Note: I think when I drove down from Washington to Texas, I must have left a trail of izone sticky film behind me, just in case I ever needed to find my way back home.

If you want to play along and post a flashback of your own (which you totally should! blogger, facebook, twitpic, flickr, photobucket- however you want to do it), add your link to the list below. I'd really appreciate it if you'd link back to this post in your entry, that way we can get more people to play the game every week. Can't wait to see your pictures!

Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken

Thursday, November 19, 2009

When the temperatures in Texas dip down below freezing at night, its time to bring out the crock pot. Nothing is better than the smell of sweet red bell peppers slow cooking while you cozy up on the couch with blankets, babies, and a movie. Its heavenly.

Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken

You will need:
-1 tablespoon smart balance (butter, oil, whatever)
-1 small onion
-1 bag of frozen pepper strips
-2 small cans of mushrooms (drained)
-1/4 cup soy sauce
-2 cups chicken broth (we make our own and keep it in the freezer)
-4 chicken breasts
-1 cup unsalted cashews
-2 tablespoons tapioca starch (corn starch would probably work the same)
-rice or pasta

How you cook it:
-Heat oven to 375, cook chicken breasts for 40 minutes.
-After chicken cools, cut it up, and slide it from the cutting board, right into the crock pot.
-Heat up butter in pan, cook onion (everybody knows how to cook an onion, right?)
-Toss in thawed bell pepper strips. Cook about 5 minutes.
-Remove onion and peppers from heat, pour into crock pot.
-Pour in broth, and soy sauce. Stir it all up.
-Put the lid on, set it to low, cook for 4-6 hours.
-About 30 minutes before you're ready to serve your chicken, take a couple of scoops of warm broth from the slow cooker, and blend it with your plain cashews in your blender or food processor.
-Stir cashew paste into chicken mixture.
-Stir in tapioca to help thicken.
-Serve on top of rice or pasta when you're ready!

This make a lot (obviously, if it uses 4 chicken breasts), but we don't make things in small batches here in our house. We buy in bulk, we cook in bulk. Expect to have leftovers. Delicious leftovers.

Homemade Christmas Wrapping Paper: Part One.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ok. Its getting down to the end of the wire here. The holidays are two feet away, and I've still got a to-do list at least ten miles long. We're almost completely finished with our holiday shopping (for the kids at least, we haven't even thought about what to get for each other), since we did most of it yard sale style. The more that the various My Little Pony items stack up in our bedroom the closet, the more I realize that things need to get wrapped. I don't know what I'll do if little Miss nosy pants barges into the closet without my knowing it, and gets into everything.

That right there, is only a portion of the brown paper bags that we've collected over the past couple of months from the Commissary. We do have a bunch of the canvas reusable bags, but we always forget them. So much so, that I have no idea where they are, not a single one of the twenty of them. When we get to the checkout and the bagger asks whether we want paper or plastic, I always answer back "paper", because I know I'll be able to recycle it one way or another. I can't say the same for plastic bags, which are scattered around underneath bathroom sinks, up on top of shelves, and sometimes, more often than not, find themselves going straight into the garbage (I never claimed to be perfect).

This year, I'm making our wrapping paper from scratch. I've been planning on it for awhile now, thinking about all of the different kinds of designs that I'll try and put together, and even if it turns out looking horrible, which it very well might, there just isn't any option for backing down.

I want the gifts under our tree to look beautiful.

I don't think I made it to any of the after Christmas sales last year (I'm one of the crazies that gets to the store at 8am to get 50% off on ribbons and bows), because I gave birth to Charlie on the 26th (can you believe hes going to be one?). I think I maybe have one backup roll of wrapping paper out in the garage, and some leftovers from last year, but really- I'm a packaging snob, and I want them all to match.

Today while the babies napped, I sat down on the couch (rare, these days) with a pair of blue handled scissors, and a giant stack of bags. Gotta start somewhere, right? The first step, is just finding the time to cut the bags up. A little bit here, a little bit there, I just do a couple while I'm watching a show I like (today it was Rachael Ray), and before I know it they'll all be ready to be ironed. Originally I was going to wait and try and get it all done in one day, but as I'm learning (through my various un slashed to do lists lying around the house), I'm only one person, and I need to pace myself.

I've wrapped gifts in brown paper bag material before, but I've never made actual gift wrap from it. I've never sat down and flattened out the creases left from the previously made folds, or glued the cut out bags together to form larger pieces. I've never got out the ink and stamps and printed designs onto the kraft colored base sheets. And the way that I'm looking at it is, I'd rather have too much, than too little. With all of my family coming down for Christmas this year (my Grandparents in just a month, and my parents the week after that), I have a feeling I'm going to want to be on the "oh that's way too much" side of things, rather than the "this looks good, that's enough" side, falling short and needing to either rush at the last minute to get more made, resort to the backup roll in the garage, or even have to go out and buy some. Its just not happening. If I'm going to do this, I'm going to do it to the best of my abilities.

Obviously, homemade wrapping paper isn't for everybody. Last year, it definitely wasn't for me, I was 10 months pregnant and completely against anything that required me lifting more than my pinky finger. Next year it might not be for me, I might have a stash of beautiful clearance steals in silvers and purples. But this year, I'm on it.

These are going to be the most gorgeous presents that our artificial tree has ever seen.

Beautiful Wooden Spoons For My Babies

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A very precious memento that I have leftover from my childhood, is a rusty safety pin that my mom used to hold my cloth diapers together, decorated with a plastic yellow duck on the end. I don't remember when she gave it to me, but I know exactly where it is (for some reason I keep it in an old converse box filled with band and tour related keepsakes?), and its the first thing that flashes onto the projector in my mind when I concentrate on memories from my youngest years.

I wanted to get something special for my kids, that will be kept forever and ever. Nothing big or expensive, just a little something that has the option to hold a lot of love, and hopefully represent some of their most important memories. Something just for them.

The other day I was browsing on Etsy, looking for inspiration for something completely unrelated to my kids (ornament ideas, for some upcoming swaps that I'm involved in, which slipped my mind as I stumbled upon these), and I came across the more adorable, most perfect gifts for my babies.

I ordered them right then and there.

Today my package came in the mail. Inside of it was a beautiful handwritten note, and my children's neatly wrapped heirlooms.

I am in love with these spoons. Aren't they the most precious things that you've ever seen, ever? I can't wait to give them to Charlie and Eleanore on Christmas morning. Charlie will stick his straight into his mouth, the way that he does with everything, and Eleanore will probably toss hers to the side to get to the good stuff (shes got some really fun stocking stuffers this year, so it won't come as a shock when she'd rather play with her kaleidoscope or new bath squirters), but- either way, for me its going to be magical.

If you want to get some beautiful wooden spoons like these ones for your little one, please visit Etsy shop ElementalHandcrafts. The spoons are only $6.50 each, which is more than affordable, and really I can't think of a more perfect gift.

The Bomber in B&W

Monday, November 16, 2009

For anybody who might be confused about what it is that Christopher does for a living (we've never really gone into details on the subject have we?)... hes a hydraulics mechanic in the US Air Force. So, basically, he fixes airplanes. There are two different kinds of planes at the base that we're stationed at (Dyess AFB, in Abilene Texas), the C-130 and the B-1. Some people work on one or the other, but he works on both.

A few weeks ago he was able to take us down to the B-1 bomber, for a family day sort of thing, where they open it up, let you look around, and then hubby can proceed to talk your head off about how this exact bomber is the next plane in line after the plane that was featured in the movie Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen (hes worked on that plane too though).

I didn't write about our trip down to the Bomber immediately after we went, because at the time, I was so absolutely crazy upset with my husband, that I could hardly stand to look at him, let alone think about him and write about him in a positive manner. I'm over it now (obviously), but-

On the day that we went, a wicked cold front swept though, dropping the temperatures when we weren't paying attention, down to about 50 degrees, with a windchill of 40 (don't laugh, this is Texas, that's cold for us!). So there we were, standing there under this enormous plane, teeth chattering, lips turning blue, when it was finally our turn to go up into the plane. I was holding the baby, who was wearing a hat and wrapped up in a warm blanket, but I'm sure he was still freezing, and Christopher was holding hands with little Miss Eleanore. Next thing I know, Christopher and Eleanore are up in the plane, and Charlie and I... are not. Without pulling all of the potty words out of my vocabulary toilet, let me just nicely say that- my husband forgot about me and the baby. By the time he came back down, I was so mad (and throwing a silent tantrum that would later explode out loud) that I just wanted to leave. There were plenty of other people standing out in the cold waiting to go up into the plane after Christopher and Eleanore, that there wasn't time for Charlie and I to go up, and I wasn't about to stand in line for another hour. It just wasn't worth it.

Now that I've calmed down and don't give a crap whether the baby (or myself) got to sit in the pilots seat or not (see, totally over it, pffft), I'm able to share some of the pictures that I took before I blew my steam top and stomped and pouted away from the plane.

Have you ever seen a giant bomb up close? Its one of those things that you wouldn't normally think about, ever, until you're standing right next to one, reaching out and running your fingers along its tail, thinking about all of the things that this one bomb could do. Its both frightening and exhilarating at the same time. Of course, when my 3 year old reached out to touch it, my voice pounced out of my throat and snapped "Don't touch that!". Its ok for Mommy to get blown up (even though we're standing 5 feet apart, and they're not fingerprint activated), but you can't.

Eleanore loved it though, going up inside the plane with her Daddy. She got a little scared on the way up the ladder, and I heard some tears after she got situated inside, but overall she loved it. Who wouldn't? Hopefully next time it won't be cactus freeze degrees, and Christopher won't forget about half of us. Oh, and maybe next time it will be plane number 6122 (the one that was in transformers).

Bake Your Pumpkin Pie From Scratch!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Something that I've wanted to do for a few years now, is bake a pumpkin pie from scratch. No cans of puree, no store bought crusts (which really isn't an option for me anyways, since we're gluten free), no marshmallow fluff (that seems so weird to me, that people actually buy marshmallow fluff. And use it.)- none of that fancy stuff. I'm going to do this the old fashioned way.

Gut a pumpkin, cook it in the oven, and then blend it into goop, myself.

I was thinking: maybe I'm not the only one wanting to make a pie from scratch this year? Some of you probably make it from complete scratch every year- which is absolutely amazing, and I bow down to you, but for the most part, we're all probably followers of Libby and the traditional orange wrapped can. I remember when I was younger, my parents would just pick up a pie from Thriftway for a few dollars. There was nothing wrong with that, but, it just seems so impersonal. I'm sure my mom must have made a couple of pies herself over the years, I just don't remember them. Maybe I don't remember them, because I didn't help?

My daughter is for sure, going to help. Shes only three years old, but, as annoying as it is to have her throwing tantrums in the kitchen when I take the wooden spoon away after 100 too many "tastes", she needs to learn how to cook. And more important than that, she needs to learn the importance of tradition. We're still developing our traditions, our family is young, but when I think about our future, 5 years from now, 10 years from now, there are a few things that stand out in my head. Baking a pumpkin pie from scratch, is one of them.

So here's how this is going to work, dear friends.

This Thanksgiving, bake your pumpkin pie from scratch.

Simple as that.

Ok, there are a few rules and guidelines, hehe.

1. No canned products allowed. No pureed pumpkin. No evaporated milk (every other kind of milk is ok, whole, butter, soy, rice, 2%, etc). No crust in a can (it exists, really). Nothing. Lets keep it fresh.

2. No pre packaged items allowed. Baking mixes are ok, I know that my family and I would be living off of rice alone if baking mixes weren't available to us (living gluten free isn't easy). Cookies are ok, as long as they've been crumbled and mixed with other ingredients. Graham crackers are ok, as long as they've been crumbled and mixed with other ingredients as well. You kind of get the point, right? Just as long as you're not grabbing a freezer tube of cookie dough, laying it down in your pie dish, and calling it good. A little extra effort, will go a long ways.

3. Write down everything that goes into your pie, and your crust. You're going to have to share your homemade pumpkin pie recipe with us, of course! So take pictures while you're at it.

If this is all too overwhelming for you, do it a couple of days before the actual holiday (or don't do it at all, no pressure). Store it away in the fridge or freezer until the night of your big dinner. That's exactly what I'm going to do.

A few helpful sites for basic instructions are: AppleJade. RecipeTips. PickYourOwn.

The day after Thanksgiving, we'll proudly reveal our pies! Well, I understand that we won't all be able to get to the computer the day after Thanksgiving, so... correction: the week after Thanksgiving we'll proudly reveal our pies! I'll get to working on a cute button that says something like "I made my Thanksgiving pumpkin pie from scratch", or something, for all of us to show off on our sidebars (ok, so maybe I'll be the only one sporting it, but, I'm ok with that, haha). Feel free to spread the word. The more homemade pies, the merrier.

Eggs, no eggs, ginger, vanilla, pineapple- whatever your ingredients are, I can't wait to see what you come up with!

Week 16

This weeks flashback is a little bit different. I'm not going to post a picture (I'm going to post two) and follow it up with a story that I've glued together with font, using bits and pieces of antiqued memories. I'd just like to take a break from the usual today.

When I was going through my homemade photo box (our very first diaper wipe box) earlier, (someday I'll have something a little more sufficient) I came across two very different photographs. An old one of Christopher, standing in a hallway dressed up in a beautiful pinstriped suit (oh how I love pinstripes *drools*). He wanted me to make it clear to everyone (seriously, he specified that I write this), that he was not going to a school dance that night. He wasn't going anywhere. He just dressed like that, all the time, for no reason at all. ...So anyways, I picked up a picture of him in his pinstriped suit, set it down on the dryer (I was sorting through the box in the laundry room, which is still clean, by the way), and then the picture that I pulled out immediately after his I'm-not-going-anywhere-I'm-just-really-weird picture, was a shot of me at the beach with my friend Jenny, my hair blowing in the wind, a huge smile on my face.

I set that picture down on the dryer as well.

As I continued flipping through prints, I thought I saw something out of the corner of my eye (I thought it was a spider, ok, I'm paranoid), and after I caught my breath again (it was lint), my eyes scanned very quickly over the photos sitting side by side on the dryer top, before settling their gaze back inside the baby wipes box.


My eyes went back.


It was day and night. Night and day. My heart skipped a beat, and I let out a little "aww", even though nobody was in the room with me to hear it. That's perfect. The perfect flashback.

Do you have a flashback of your own to share? An old photo that's been posted on your Facebook, a Twit pic, your Flickr, your blog- you get the point, anywhere you'd like to post it. Add your link to the list below, and make sure to add our link somewhere in your post. Can't wait to see and hear about everyone's memories!

My C25K

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I know its clean week, and I'm supposed to be blogging about all of the dirt and grime that I've been scrubbing off of my refrigerator shelves, but- this is important.

For the past 8 or 9 weeks, while I've completely lost track of time, I've been training to run a 5k.

Its not something that I wanted to shout from the rooftops. I didn't want to document my every move in the same way that I did with my 30 day shred. I didn't want to crack under the heavy pressure that my computer screen has the power to put on me. After I did my shred, I decided that I needed to get healthy and lose weight for me. Not that I was doing it for anybody else before, I just felt that if I kept it to myself, the details and struggles, I could keep my goal more personal, just me and the track, and I would commit to it for no reason other than I wanted to. Do you know what I mean? Sometimes we lose ourselves in the efforts of not wanting to let somebody else down. And I needed to overcome that. Which I have.

2 1/2 months ago, I dedicated myself to becoming a runner. This isn't something that I took lightly. I've always, always, wanted to be a runner. Back in elementary/middle/high school, I couldn't even do one lap around the track. I was so overweight, that I couldn't even jog a quarter of a mile. Hidden under my embarrassment for my lack of physical fitness and less than beautiful exterior, was jealousy. Severe, anger filled, envy. I wanted to be better.

When I was 19 years old, I battled with a rush of anorexia, combined with a diet pill drug addiction, topped off with an unhealthy lust for my StairMaster. I locked myself up for days, and emerged 40 pounds thinner. I was thin. My skin was yellow, I was always exhausted and dizzy, but I was thin. Shortly after meeting my husband, but long before we were married, tragedy struck (something I don't think I'll ever be able to bring myself to write about), and just as quickly as I had lost the weight, I put it all back on... and then some. My weight sky rocketed to an out of control 238 pounds (256 while pregnant with Eleanore). Part of that was food allergies (gluten, dairy, fructose), but most of it was depression, both postpartum and non. I needed help.

Over the next couple of years I was diagnosed with IBS, Barrett's Esophagus, and Endometriosis (not to mention, I had two kids!). A real party in the out patient surgery department. All of those things combined tore my obese body apart, cell by cell. I had to change my diet drastically, and slowly, very slowly, I started building my depression and sickness, into strength and brilliance.

After things got on track with my diet, which I thought would never happen, I decided to take on the physical. I started out with walking. Then hit the rowing machine a couple of times. And then, The 30 Day Shred. I was thinning out, I was feeling great. Everybody that had watched my transformation asked me, "What are you going to do next, what are you going to do next?", and I froze. I stopped working out altogether. I took a break.

That brings me back to 2 1/2 months ago, when I decided that I can be a runner. One day while browsing blogs and such, I came across the "couch to 5k" program. Basically, a program for folks like me, who want to get off their lazy asses, put on some running shoes and a sports bra (or if you're me, three sports bras), and hit the track. I didn't even stop to think about it for a second, I was dedicated right then and there. I said out loud to Christopher, who was sitting on the couch next to me (see, literally, couch, to 5k, hah) "I'm doing this running program, I'm starting tomorrow". And that's exactly what I did.

I was scared to death, my first run. I had never run before in my life. Wait, I take that back. I tried to run, back in May, I got maybe 50 feet- and then I sprained my knee. Yeah, that's how awesome I am. I messed my knee UP (did you read that in the ghetto voice that I was using in my head when I typed it? I did my best with the fonts, but- ). I knew nothing about running. I didn't understand how to breath properly (really though, it takes a lot of concentration and rhythm, it took me awhile to get the hang of it). I thought everybody was staring at me (and lets face it, I kind of stand out). My first run, was rough. Even though I was only running 60 seconds at a time, it was extremely difficult, and my body sure let me know it.

My second run, not quite as bad, but I was still positive that everybody was staring at me. Running on a military base, where everyone is clearly in excellent physical condition, SUCKS.

From there on, things got harder, and easier, both at the same time. I knew I wouldn't give up, I couldn't give up. The running sets got longer. I struggled with chest pains, ear aches, pulled muscles- everything. I wondered if maybe I just wasn't cut out to be a runner, but, until I snapped a bone mid jog, I wasn't quitting.

The most memorable night in my dedication, was somewhere around the 6th or 7th week. I had to go run. I had been planning on doing it all day, I knew that my body needed it, my brain needed it too, I had to go. It was late at night, freezing cold outside, and pouring rain. I'm not the type to workout inside on a treadmill. That's the kind of exercise that you do to lose weight, not to feel good. I like to feel good. I can only run outside. I put on my workout clothes, plugged my ipod earpieces into my head, and took off. I, got, soaked. I was the only person out on the track that night (the same as most nights, since I have to go after Christopher gets home, which doesn't really give me the option to pick and choose when my workouts are), the water was coming down so hard from the sky I couldn't see where I was going, my clothes had gained an additional 20 pounds in water weight alone- and I wasn't stopping. I ran my heart out. I ran until my tears mixed with the rain, similar to something from a movie scene. And when I finished my 2 miles that night, I realized that I was doing it. Could I officially call myself, a runner?

Tonight my neighbor came over to our house and watched the kids for us (I'm not good leaving the babies with anybody else, even if they're a good friend, I'm that kind of mom), and Christopher and I went down to the track together. We forgot bug spray, so that was awesome, and we forgot the camera, even more awesome, but- this was it.

Tonight, I ran a 5k with my husband.

I didn't do this for anybody other than myself. I didn't do it for the jerks in middle school that called me fat, which, I was. I didn't do it for my husband, who will love me no matter what. I really, truly, did this for me.

When I crossed the finish line tonight, I burst into tears. I was crying so hard that Christopher thought I had hurt myself. I had run so fast that last quarter of a mile, faster than I've ever let myself go, that I had no breath to tell him otherwise, (not that I would have, even if I could have, because emotional moments like that aren't the kind of moments that you want to interrupt with an explanation of "no dear, I'm alright, nothing is broken or sprained or pulled, I just ran a freakin' 5k for Gods sake!"). I walked around the track with my hands on my hips, slowly catching my breath, my chest pounding, thinking about how my life has changed. With every burning exhale, I thought about how 5 years ago, I would have never pictured my life ending up like this.

I saved myself.

Since starting my training, I've lost 4 pounds. Nothing spectacular in the way of numbers, but, damn, I feel good. I'm stronger. I'm in better shape than I've ever been in before. I'm down to 185. And... did I mention I can run a 5k?

The face of accomplishment.

Clean Week. Day 3. The Stairs.

We've lived in this house for a year in a half now (the longest amount of time we've lived in any one place- we have a bad habit of hating where we live), and in that time, we have never cleaned the stairs. I think I went over them with the Swiffer wet jet once, which is kind of cleaning it, in a lazy attempt to get off whatever was spilt on the the third from the top step 8 months ago, so I knew it was time to get down on my hands and knees (3 days into clean week, my knees are killing me), fill up the mop bucket with a lemon scented throat burning liquid hell, grab a hand towel (I don't have any nice ones, thanks to Christopher's mechanic hands coming in and ruining them. All of them!), and show those wooden stairs who's boss!

As you can see, I hated it. I hated how the cloth got cold in between bucket dunks, I hated how I started seeing twinkling purple colored (and dancing) lemons out of the corners of my eyes due to the intoxicating (and not the good kind of intoxication) citrus aroma, and I especially hated scrubbing with my fingernails down into the creases of the wood, scraping out what can only be described as dirt from the planet Mars. I'm almost positive that most of the mess was probably here from before we moved in, because there is no way that I've ever taken a tube of toothpaste and squeezed it along side the molding while shaking cat hair from a burlap sack so that it could rain down and stuck to the surprisingly clingy baking soda solution. But- I don't know, maybe I did? Anything is possible at this point of my motherly insanity.

Clean week, day 3, the stairs ARE DONE! And they look great. I'm tempted to do my entire downstairs like that, on my hands and knees with the hell bucket. Think I could do it?

On a completely unrelated note: Today is Veterans Day, for those of you who might be living in a cave, reading my blog on your cell phone that only has one bar of signal. Take a minute to give some thanks? We're going down to the air park here on base with the kids in a little bit. And then later coming back to clean some things upstairs.

If you've done some cleaning of your own, taken before and after pictures, and want to help motivate the rest of us (y'all were slacking yesterday), link up!!