Monday, December 31, 2012

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Pie and Gluten Free Pie Crust

For Christmas Eve dinner, I decided to make a pie. A gluten free pie, and it was delicious. My family is really crazy about peanut butter, and years ago we encountered a delicious peanut butter pie in the middle of Kansas. My mom has figured out the recipe and shared it with friends and family.

The most difficult, and daunting part of making pies for most GF (gluten free) people is really the crust. So I did a little searching and found an amazing recipe for a GF crust, and all you really need to get is Gluten Free Bisquick.

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Pie

Gluten Free Pie Crust*
1 cup Gluten Free Bisquick
5 tablespoons of cold butter, cut in to 1/2 inch cubes
3 tablespoons of cream cheese
1 tablespoon of white vinegar
3 tablespoons of water

- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly coat your pie tin with a bit of butter.
- with a fork, or pastry blender, or food processor, mix all ingredients in a large bowl. The texture should resemble course crumbs.
- press the dough into the pie tin, shaping it with your hands.
- bake 15-20 minutes, or until the tops are a golden brown.
- let cool, and fill with your pie filling.
*adapted from Gluten Free Test Kitchen

Peanut Butter Pie
4 cups of milk, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla (check to make sure it's gluten free)
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon of salt
3 tablespoons of butter
2/3 cup of sugar

Mix the cornstarch, salt, 1 cup of milk, egg yolks, and vanilla with a wire whip until smooth. Set mixture aside. Heat 3 cups of mil, butter, and sugar until scalding, stirring constantly. Add cornstarch mixture to hot milk while stirring with a whisk. Cook until thickened (this takes awhile, it will thicken to be like jello pudding). Do not allow mixture to boil. Remove from heat and chill.

Crumb Mixture:
1 cup of powdered sugar
1/2 cup of crunchy peanut butter

Mix powdered sugar and peanut butter with a mixer or pastry blender until small crumbs form. Place half the crumbs in the bottom of the GF pie shell. Spoon chilled pudding onto crumbs. Place remaining crumbs on the top of the pudding, reserving a little also place above the whipped cream.

 Gluten Free Peanut Butter Pie

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Favorite Projects of 2012

This year has been such a journey for me, and for my little family. In February, after Sean had lost his job and we were a one income, we had to look for new ways to make the budget work. And after we did the math, well, we discovered we'd do better, budget-wise if we bought a house and moved, than if we kept our rental.

We started our search for a home, and candidly, we went through two realtors in February and March before we found the right one. And boy, Lisa was fast paced. Our search started in late April, when we bid on this little short sale:


We got our keys on June 20th, and took a week to do the floors and paint the inside of the house. We really lucked out on our gorgeous hardwoods, hiding under the grossest carpet ever:


One of my favorite transformations involved repainting the hall bathroom, and updating the medicine cabinet above the sink. I loved this project, and loved the impact it had on the room.


Another very favorite project was repainting an Ikea hutch. I'd had this for over twelve years, and I can't believe the difference that a little paint makes!


By mid-July, I'd started dreaming of ways to update our kitchen. You can see some early moodboards, and my choices for curtains on this post.

And lastly, a little more progress in the kitchen, I finished the curtains and created a small desk for the corner by the window. I love that I have a little personal space in my kitchen now!


I'm really excited about the changes we've made and the direction that the house is taking. In 2013, we're planning on making even more updates :)

Linking up to:

Toddler Art: Napkin Rings Made from Toilet Paper Rolls

This last week Zoom and I had some time to tackle a craft project. I'd been saving* toilet paper rolls like a wild woman because there had been a bevvy of toilet paper roll creatures all over Pinterest, and then it hit me! Get out the finger paint and make some napkin rings.

I showed him one, and then just let him go.


We started with the red paint, and later moved to green.

Once the paint had dried, I covered them with Modge Podge, and let that dry. I later cut the rolls in to thirds, and had to reshape them a bit. We hosted Christmas Eve at our house, and that's where the napkin rings made their debut: napkinring Here's the whole table. Zoom picked the Perrier, too ... when we were shopping he ran over and got a bottle, which in hindsight, adds a lovely pop of green to the table. tablesetting (*OK, it was totally did get to the point where Sean asked "If there was some good reason that we had toilet paper rolls stashed all over the house")

Linking up to:

Friday, December 21, 2012

Back to the Beginning with Christiane Amanpour

This evening, as I was wrapping presents and after watching The Muppet Movie, I stumbled upon "Back to the Beginning with Christiane Amanpour."

And wow, what a show. Amanpour goes back to the big stories of the Old Testament, and traces them with scholars, visiting the places of the Bible. While watching, you get to see all of the countries in the Holy Land. It's beautiful. It makes me want to visit Israel again.

You need to watch this.

Here's the part about Abraham. I love that people are exploring his path, and in doing so are searching to find the similarities amongst Christianity, Judaism, and Muslims. We all share the same roots. The same initial patriarch.
It's inspiring.
Or how about this clip, which is the search for Noah's Ark, the search for the proof of it's existence?

This is the stuff I LOVED studying at Divinity School. I sat, mesmerized, by this series. The second part runs next Friday night on ABC.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Easy DIY Christmas Gift: Candles and Washi Tape

On Sunday we were putting up Christmas decorations. I'd come across a candle that I bought over the summer, and that was sitting in the hutch. It was looking a little worse for wear, and it didn't seem that festive: Untitled Add to it the fact that the scent is called "Oceanside" and I figured it was a prime candidate for a little DIY magic.

I'd bought some washi tape at Michael's a couple of weeks ago. It cost about $2.50 on sale for two. I'd snatched up a green and red polka-dot pair, figuring I'd use them to decorate Christmas gifts. I measured out the length I'd need to wrap the tape once around my candle, and then cut out a few more pieces. Untitled

 I placed the red tape on the top and bottom, and two pieces of green in the middle. Untitled

I lit the candle for a test run and voila!

Holiday candle with Washi Tape

Super cute and super easy. Now I really want to run out and buy some cheap candles and spruce them up with washi tape for stocking stuffers :) Linking up with:

Friday, December 14, 2012

Perspective Given, and A Prayer for Those Who Mourn

I woke up this morning worried about having money for Christmas gifts, concerned about getting Christmas cards out in time. About getting Sean a birthday gift. We just paid for our new roof. We have a new home. The last six months have seemed like one major expense after the next.

Today at work we took part in the "Executive Elf Challenge," which brings local companies together to help wrap gifts for the needy.

The event is a friendly team competition. In my team's pile of gifts were three boxes of diapers, each for a different child. Not small toys, not a doll, not even clothes, but diapers. I had tears welling up as I thought of what this meant; a family so poor that the thing they needed most was so basic. I was grateful for the opportunity to help them, proud that I was helping wrap an important gift for a tiny baby.

And I quickly found myself saying a silent prayer of gratitude and thankfulness for the many things that my family has; my own worries from earlier in the morning having been rightfully put in to perspective.

Heading back to the office we heard the news about Sandy Hook, and the incomprehensible tragedy there. Parents that would never seen their precious babies again. Small children being frightened in a little town that seemed so safe.

These things stayed with me through the day. I was moved by President Obama's message, and his raw emotion over the tragedy.

As I drove home tonight, my heart began to fill with prayer. A prayer for the children, the families, the communities that had been met with tragedy. For the smaller, silent tragedies that hit poor families daily. The words rounded themselves out to a mantra in my heart. I could not shake the need to share them.

Our hearts are broken
May the Lord lift us up
may He help shoulder the pain
may he surround us in Love
Our hearts are broken today.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Gift Ideas for Toddlers - Toys that Kids and Parents Will Love

Family and friends have been asking what our two year old, Mr. Zoom,  wants for Christmas. He doesn't really talk much and I'm not sure that he fully understands the concept that gifts will be coming and that he can ask for specific things. He's more Zen than that, and kind of lives day to day. I appreciate that in him.

So, here's my list of suggestions for toddler Christmas gifts, or really gifts for any time of year. These are all characters that I think parents will like as much as the kids.

The Octonauts
The Octonauts are by far one of the cutest and simultaneously coolest things I've seen in a long time. Originally from a series of books by Meomi (one was gifted to me for Zoom by coworkers), it has also become a TV show on Disney Jr, starring a set of animated animals that are ocean adventurers. There are a set of toys that recently came out as well. The show is just finished with its second season and we have already seen every episode. Admittedly, I get the closing song ("Creature Report!") stuck in my head on a regular basis.

The Pigeon Books
The Pigeon was another gift; Zoom loves both "Dont Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus" and "The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog." We often sing the "Hot Dog" song from The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse while we read the hot dog book. It just seems like a natural fit. Zoom loves to yell "NOooo!" at the appropriate times in the stories, and often flips through the pages and reads the book to himself. And Sean and I have adopted the phrase, "Of course, enjoy." into our every day lexicon.

Chuck the Truck
Chuck is an adventurous truck who comes up with a good lesson in each episode of his TV show. He's a little boy truck, and he has truck friends and a lovely set of parents. The theme song is catchy, although don't even try to google the lyrics, as they are surprisingly hard to find. For awhile I thought they were saying "Over, round, and through, Trucks can't sing and chew." (which made no sense, but you know how lyrics get stuck in your head? for the record, it's "Over, Round, and Through, Trucks go see and do.") I like the stories in the show, and the fact that its not overly cutesy or dumbed down. It's a great show for kids who love Disney's Cars, and have already seen those movies and shorts a million times (like us).

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Welcoming Spirit Blog Hop #16: If You Work Hard..

"If you work really hard and are kind, amazing things will happen."

A little pinspiration for us on this Wednesday. I know that over the last few weeks, I've been amazed by the world, amazed in the best of ways. I went looking for a new job, just networking to start with, and in speaking to an old client of mine, found out she had a perfect job for me in her department. I'm grateful for the chance to work with her again, grateful for the opportunity to be going back in to marketing. (I can't even believe I've said that!)

What most impressed me about this woman who will be my next boss is that she works really hard, and she is kind. Her daughter has Celiac, and she's one of the first people who offered ideas on what to eat when I first went gluten free. She's smart, she has high expectations, but I know she cares about the people around her. I find that I respect and admire her for that.

It's time for a blog hop! Any kind of positive, uplifting story is welcome here. If you share a link, I'll be sure to stop by and say hi  :) I can't wait to see what you all have been up to!

It's time to link up and get hopping! If you'd like to support the hop and grab the code for your blog, that would make me smile, too :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Home Office: Rearranging Furniture for Better Flow and More Room

While I was visiting my parents a couple of weeks ago my Mom and I decided to rework the flow of their upstairs office together. We put in a few hours' of work, and I think we came up with a layout that works much better for them, and gives the room a better flow, to boot.

Here's where we started. My parents had three desks placed into a long narrow room, that created an L shape.


And apologies for this grainy picture:


Here's a quick drawing of the layout, to give a little perspective.


My parents had been wanting to eliminate one of the desks, and give themselves a little more room. My Mom mentioned that she really missed being able to look out the window from her desk, which is something she'd been able to do when her desk was in another room.

So we decided to flip the desks to face the window, and dismantle one of the desks to save room.

Here's a look at the room with just two desks against the window:

And another angle:

It's amazing how much bigger, and how much more like an office, this space looks by just making a few simple changes.