Day 12 Gluten free: Learning about cross-contamination the hard way…

Day 12: My husband bought me my first gluten free cupcake yesterday from Tu-Lu’s Gluten Free Bakery in Dallas. DELICIOUS. Feeling like a judge on cupcake wars, I took a bite and was won over by the moist chocolate cake and sugary chocolate ganache frosting. Yes, I am still on my diet blog world. It was worth every calorie! I have been under my calorie goal all week. It was worth the splurge!

I don’t want to feel deprived and isolated because of gluten. With all the gf choices in Dallas, I have a feeling my world will start to open up once I research and find more options. We went to a restaurant that is very conscience of gluten + allergens and the importance of not cross-contaiminating the food.

For instance, we had Chipolte for lunch. I watched them make my complete meal. I even asked them to change their gloves before touching my food. My glorious bowl of cilantro rice with chicken, cheese, lettuce, fresh tomato salsa, sour cream and corn chips…all gluten free. It’s the biggest meal I have eaten since giving up gluten and it felt good. We were able to have a normal day.

Cross contamination happened to me on Day 8 when I had a spinach salad at Le Madeline. I thought for sure I made good choices, but when you eat dinner in a restaurant that serves almost everything with gluten full ingredients…you risk the chances of getting burned. I did. After dinner, we went to Tom Thumb for groceries, and I barely made it through the produce section. After violent cramps and a dangerously close call to the bathroom, I vowed to never “take my chances” again.

Gluten is evil. My life for the last year has felt like the stomach flu every day.  No one should have to live in torture.

I love my husband so much for sticking with me through this time of transition. We are realizing that he can’t cross contaminate our food either. For example, we can no longer share our foods. He has to keep his gluten contaminated knife out of my jar of peanut butter. He can’t spill Raisin bran all over the counter without contaminating the entire counter surface. It has to be wiped down.  We have been married for seven months. I know that with my improving health…he will no longer have to see me at my sickest or weakest. I love this man.


Halloween masks Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Style

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles mask

Aunt Nana strikes again with her crochet!  Halloween is right around the corner, and I have to get these TMNT masks in the mail!

For Christmas last year, we gave our nephews several Teenage Mutant Ninja turtle themed presents. When I found a video tutorial on Ninja style masks in adult and child sizes,  I had to make them for my nephews for Halloween!

They love imaginative play, so I made one in red, blue, purple and orange in adult and child sizes. Over the top? Nah. Cowabunga dude!

Being a long distance auntie

LDA: Long Distance Auntie

I haven’t hugged or kissed my nephews in four months. This is the longest period of time I have been away from them. Big deal, I am not their mom…right?


It is not easy being a long distance aunt. It’s not so much that I am homesick for “home,” but I miss my family.

This is a HUGE transition. I was a spoiled auntie in Indiana. I had all the child-sized hugs, kisses, giggles, and snuggles a girl could want, and I never took it for granted.  Mr. Cooper and I both miss having our family time with Sean and Barry. We FaceTime once a week (more if we can), but that is it.

I can’t wait for them to visit Texas. We will have a Texas sized adventure!

So please hang in there with me blog world. I may craft a little too many crochet projects, sew a few superhero capes and write about two little boys that I miss with all my heart.


She’s my Bonus Mom…

We are having our first house guest tomorrow! Ann, my bonus mom, is coming to Dallas to visit for the weekend! Technically, she is my step-mom, but I like bonus mom better.

I’m in cleaning and fall decorating mode to prepare for her visit. Gabi is doing a great job supervising me as I clean.

So happy to have family time this week! If I miss one thing about Indiana, it has to be having family around to do things together.

We are going to shop in Grapevine, watch the Cardinals games, have brunch at Blue Mesa and possibly checkout the Texas State Fair.

Now…I have to get back to folding towels and thinking up some tasty dishes to serve!  Hope you are having a great week!

I may make her my new favorite Cilantro + Lime White Chicken Chili with jalapeño cornbread…YUM!


Let’s ring up some family fun time!

One way to build family relationships is to always have a plan for fun activities during family time. When I worked in behavioral health,  I heard a lot of complaints of “I’m bored,” or “There is nothing to do.” They were families reaching out for help on how to build better relationships, learn positive coping skills and communication skills. So, I came up with my seasonal family activities ideas on a binder ring. The photo above is an example of the ideas I made for my family using left over seasonal paper and stickers from my scrapbook stash.

Here is what you need:

  • Any kind of paper (it doesn’t have to be expensive scrapbook paper)
  • A hole punch
  • 4 binder rings
  • Your imagination
  • Art supplies you have around the house
  • Glue or glue sticks

I divided my family activities by season because there are certain things you cannot do at different times of the year.  It also helps with focusing and not to be side tracked by ideas you couldn’t possibly do (i.e. go trick or treating in April).

Have a brainstorming session with your family. Set out the paper and art supplies. Let creativity and imagination take over. The ideas do not have to be expensive! You may be surprised at what your family likes to do! Write it all down. Draw art for the idea. Use stickers to illustrate the activity. The sky really is the limit on this project. It does not have to be perfect, only perfect for your family.

You could also start new family traditions and add to your binder ring. You can throw away an idea that really didn’t work. This is the beauty of the binder ring. Plus, if you have a growing family…there will be new activities to do!