Trifecta of Celebrations

First up, a very heartfelt thank you to all who commented and offered support on my last post about my other writing life. Hopefully by outing myself as a fiction writer on this blog, I will keep up with my goals and not slack off. Fingers crossed.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

November was a big month for us as we got to celebrate a trifecta of festivities: Little Guy’s birthday, Thanksgiving, and Chanukah. Rather than torture you with three individual posts, I’m lumping it all together.

First up, my birthday boy. I can’t believe this guy is TWO.


Yet, I totally can because he is talking up a storm and can’t stop running around and dive bombing family members (leading, unfortunately, with his head). He also loves taking off all his clothes – and the clothes of EVERY single one of Bunky’s dolls. It’s really cute until he pees on the couch.

Last year I made him pumpkin muffins because that seemed like a responsible and healthy thing to do for a one-year-old. But a lot changes in a year, let me tell you. The kid still loves pumpkin, but that gourd has nothing on chocolate.

little guy second birthday cake

Everyone LOVED this cake. Courtesy of Gluten Free on a Shoestring’s Perfect Chocolate Cake. It really is perfect. Dense and rich and yet not overbearing at all. A sure thing for my chocoholic family. The fall foliage sprinkles were my favorite part.

Double thumbs up is the highest praise in our house.

Double thumbs up is the highest praise in our house. Little Guy only had one hand free.

little guy birthday cake close up

How cute is this kid? He’s totally trying to share his cake with me.

Which leads me to these leaf shaped sugar cookies I made for Thanksgiving. A GF Shoestring blog recipe. I highly HIGHLY recommend. My kids couldn’t eat them fast enough. And neither could my husband. Um, or me.

cookies close up

I frosted some with royal icing (not pictured), but it was a mistake. I’ve since realized that royal icing is more about making pretty decorations with a piping bag (which I don’t have). However, while the iced cookies didn’t look as pretty as I had hoped, no one complained as they were too busy cramming cookies into their greedy little mouths.

There was also chocolate pretzel marshmallow bark, because why not.

chocolate pretzel marshmallow bark

I jazzed up last year’s fail proof peppermint pretzel bark recipe and added mini marshmallows toward the end after the chocolate was cool. YUM.

Ariel view anyone? (Sorry, can’t help myself, it’s just so pretty.)

Oh, the lighting at my dad's house is just perfect.

Now let’s talk about PIE. Last year I made a cheesecake for my husband, but this year he requested (um, begged) for an apple pie. His absolute hand’s down favorite dessert.

My husband is a pie man.

My husband is a pie man.

I obliged because that’s the kind of awesome wife I am. Not shockingly, I went with another tried and true GF Shoestring recipe. I love Nicole Hunn’s pie crust recipe and helpful video. It’s worth mentioning that it’s the ONLY pie crust I’ve ever made from scratch (gluten and GF), but still, why mess with a sure thing? Here is one perfect looking slice. Seconds later it was gone, I’m sure.

apple pie

One of the best parts about Thanksgiving (in my opinion) is eating (a lot of) pie for breakfast the next morning. Nothing tastes as good, and for me, that pie must be pumpkin. Absolutely. No exceptions.

pumpkin pieLast year I made the mistake of attempting a graham cracker crust on my pumpkin pie. VERY bad move. The crust basically burnt to a crisp during the hour plus baking. Don’t cry for me because I ate the ENTIRE interior anyhow with a spoon. It wasn’t pretty, but it was good.

So, I stuck with the same decadent yet simple recipe as last year, but opted to make a double batch of traditional pie crusts to use for both the apple and pumpkin pie. This year I ate the whole pie, basically by myself (since my husband and daughter don’t like pumpkin pie?!?) but this time with the crust. It was DREAMY. I got a little fat. But it was worth it.

Besides the desserts, the other best part of Thanksgiving this year was the ease of it. Everyone was so chill and happy. It was hilarious watching Little Guy try to keep up with his cousin (three months younger but way faster) as they ran circles in the house. Bunky had a blast playing with the “big cousins” who are all college graduates. There was an adorable (though ear drum shattering) jam session with an electric guitar, a broken violin, a piano, and a mechanical singing Santa.

There was very little talk or anxiety over FOOD. Our kids ate our stuff, the rest of us ate their GF offerings, and we all shared dessert. Couldn’t ask for better, really.

Next up, or rather, simultaneously up, Chanukah.

Oh, Chanukah why are you so long?

Oh, Chanukah why are you so long?

The first night or two was sweet. Candles, singing dreidel songs, opening presents. But then a few days in, things started to go south. My husband grumbled about it, muttering about how at least Christmas gets it all done in one day. At first I defended my holiday, insisting how great it was to get eight nights of festivities, until it wasn’t. The truth is, one gift a night can be kind of frustrating for a kid. At least on Christmas the meh gifts get pushed aside for the great ones, but on Chanukah some nights end up being only meh – which translates to horrendous amount of whining around my house.

All that said, the last second to last night picture is pretty sweet. Bunky loves her waitress costume.

last night of chanukahI am pretty relieved it’s over, though. Until next year.

Now that I’ve got all that out of my system, I leave you with an image that will hopefully be symbolic of the rest of the season: may we all kick up our feet in green high heel shoes and relax.

little guy heelsHope you all survived November and I wish you the best of luck during December’s shenanigans. If the going gets tough, just be glad you’re not trapped in a jar like this poor lady. (Totally random and unrelated aside, but I am strangely in love with this picture.)

princess in a jar

My family will be spending Christmas in our pajamas watching movies. The kids will get one gift each, IF they’re lucky. Greedy ungrateful little boogers.

Just kidding. Mostly.


I’m so happy to be part of Vegetarian Mamma’s Gluten Free Friday recipe link-up! Click the badge below for more great GF recipes.

gf friday badge

Taking a Stand

pie baked

I don’t take stands very often. To let you in on a little secret, I’m a little bit ambivalent when it comes to stands. Which is terrible, right? Taking stands is important, I know. Well, I’m going to take one now. Are you ready?

My stand is to stop GFGF. Don’t know what that means? Oh, but I think you do. It’s the comment many people say after sampling a homemade or store bought gluten free treat. “Oh, this is good for gluten free.”

Good for Gluten Free. It makes me nuts just to type those words. Why can’t a GF cookie just be good? Or how about really good, or awesome? Every time someone GFGF’s it proliferates the falsehood that GF is somehow lesser. It creates an unnecessary comparison of the two and the unspoken sentiment is that G is “normal” and GF isn’t. People say GFGF because they think they’re being kind, complimentary even. I know they don’t mean any harm, but it makes my list of things NOT to say.

Check out my VERY first homemade pie crust ever – GF or otherwise. Rolled out in front of a class of four-year-olds at Bunky’s preschool. I was sweating up a storm, but it turned out great.

pie unbaked

The masterpiece, before baking. Bunky is the girl in bright pink with excellent posture.

I made an apple pie for the class’s Thanksgiving Feast. I used this recipe for the crust and it was awesome. Not for gluten free, but in and of itself, awesome. Yet, I was the perpetrator of GFGF here, because in my excitement I said to B’s teacher: “You’d never know it was GF!” She agreed, but I wanted to bite my tongue afterwards. I should have said, “The pie came out great,” and left it at that.

My tray of allergy free pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, gobbled up in minutes.

My tray of allergy free pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, gobbled up in minutes.

The truth is, if I really want GFGF to stop, then I also need to change what I say.

Another way to help eradicate the myth that GF is less tasty is to bake delicious treats for people. My plan is to bake yummy holiday cookies and breads for Bunky’s teachers and staff at school. If I wasn’t so tired of pumpkin (yes, it’s true!) I might have made more of Nicole Hunn’s Pumpkin Chips Ahoy cookies. There is a frozen roll of these in my freezer for when I’m ready to pumpkin again. Which might actually be this afternoon now that I’m looking at the picture.


Every year my cousin Peeps gives out baked goods as gifts and this year she is making them ALL gluten free. For everyone. The reason she’s doing it is partly practical, because this way she doesn’t have to worry about cross contamination, but also it’s because her GF creations are super tasty and there is NO NEED to make a G equivalent. Take that all you GFGFers! Check out her guest recipe posts here and here if you want to try some exciting and unusual flavors in your holiday baking.

[By the way, if you’re looking for original holiday gifts, Peeps has beautiful handcrafted bibs, totes, and clutches for sale at her Etsy site. The girl is crafty in and out of the kitchen!]

Do you share my irritation with GFGF, and if so, how do you handle it? Take a stand with me. Come on, it’s for a good cause. And besides, taking a stand by yourself isn’t nearly as much fun as taking it with your friends.