Change is Bad …

Have you ever watched Big Bang Theory? If not, WHY????? Do you know who Sheldon is? If not. WHY?????
Seriously, if you haven’t seen it go watch Season 1 real quick and then come back and finish reading my post.

I have a 13 year old and he is Sheldon. OK, not literally, but if you want to know the personality of my 13 year old just think of Sheldon. He has his own chair that is only his and don’t even think about sitting in it, or near it, or even think about sitting in or near it. Heck, just don’t think about it at all.

This is the kid who tries so hard to understand and participate in sarcasm, but last therapy session admitted that he usually has no idea what is going on. He is literal. Period.

This kid knows the name of every single Star Wars Clone Trooper (even the ones with numbers instead of names) and if and how they died. One car ride he sat there rattling them off for 30 minutes before I finally said “Honey, I have no idea what you are talking about.” he continued rattling them off, but at a faster pace, until he was done.

If you already know what he is telling you and you tell him he doesn’t have to finish his thought since you already know….well, sit tight because he HAS to finish his thought. Things are always done in a certain order and in a certain way. This all creates a calm world for him.

Why am I telling you this? Well, it is Halloween and that means the kids will dress up and go door to door and ask for candy. The 13 year old will wear the same costume he wore the last 4 years, a Hershey Bar. And despite my best efforts to get his to say “Trick or Treat,” he won’t. He will say, much to my horror, “Please give me back my relatives.” People will look at him oddly but that is OK, he won’t notice. He will instead tell everyone just how funny he is and how everyone thinks he is hilarious and witty.

Hershey 2014

Halloween 2014 — I don’t remember which cloud storage the previous Halloween pictures are in!  

He tried his costume on today and looked at me and said “I don’t think this will fit me next year.” His look of horror broke my heart. He didn’t say it but you could hear “What will I do?” linger in the dead silence. I am glad he came to this realization on his own. I am glad he has a year to try to come to terms with this reality. However, I know that the future me will have to deal with the future 14 year old’s inability to really “go with the flow.”

Hershey 2015

This was the year we lost the brown knit cap … Halloween was almost canceled. 

So tonight I am going to treasure the last year of the Hershey bar. I am not even going to tell him not to ask for his relatives back. I might roll my eyes, but I will make sure he doesn’t see it.
Tonight is the end of an era. It may not seem significant to you, but it is to the 13 year old and therefor it is to us. Wish us luck!

Halloween 2016

Getting a picture of him is never fun, but he let me do a selfie with him. Not stellar, but I will take it.

~Andrea

It’s Beginning To Smell A Lot Like Christmas!

It’s beginning to smell a lot like Christmas! Yup, you read the right! SMELL! Mmmmm! I love the smell of Christmas! Today’s scents are brought to you by Perfectly Posh’s October Splurge. 

A Splurge is a once a month specialty item. It is available until it is sold out and if you don’t get it right away there is a chance you will cry when you no longer can get it.

So what are the fabulous scents I am smelling??

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First up is Nice Ice Glittery Skin Stick. This is so.much.fun! It glitterfies your skin, giving you an icy shimmer! I am in love! I love all things sparkly so this skin stick and I were simply meant to be. Loaded with Shea and Cocoa Butters, your dry winter skin will get seriously moisturized and nourished. It has a light, crisp, peppermint scent that invokes the image of the Candy Cane dance sequence in The Nutcracker. Leap, twirl, and dance your way to glittery happiness!

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This is going to be the best stocking stuffer for the glitter lovers in your life. It is also a great gift idea for teens; my teen has several friends he needs to get gifts for and this is perfect! Super fun, great quality, and the perfect size and price point!

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The second item is Holly Jolly Chunk. Perfectly Posh Chunks are amazing.
*they are huge and last 2-3 months, easy
*tallow free
*free of parabens, sulfates, SLS, etc
*uses moisturizing butters, like Shea and Mango Seed
*amazing scents
*sustainable palm oil
*most are vegan

Holly Jolly is one of the vegan chunks. It is also gorgeous; a deep Merlot color that makes me want to draw a bath and sip a glass of wine while I relax and drink up the intoxicating scents of my Posh products (Falliday Fizis, Bubble Up, and Holly Jolly make a perfect triple combo act!).

Speaking of scents, this glorious chunk is so juicy smelling! It has a sweet-tart pomegranate-meet-citrus scent that reminds me of all the warm and cozy scents of Christmas. I think of cranberry garlands and dried orange slice ornaments and cloves and cinnamon sticks. OK, so there is no cinnamon scent at all, but it is one of the scent memories invoked when I smell Holly Jolly. I love this and need a million!

Again, this makes a great holiday gift. The price point is phenomenal at just $9, so it meets the usual $10 price point for Secret Santa and Yankee Swap! Toss it is a super cute gift bag and the recipient will feel utterly spoiled.

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All I want for Christmas is parcel of Posh! (please tell me you  sang that to the 2 front teeth tune).

~Andrea

If you are interested in Perfectly Posh, I would love to chat! Drop me a line and we can connect!

A Surprise Gift

Zen Baby got a Secret Santa gift. Unfortunately, the generous person (people?) had no clue that a dishonest person had previously bought and returned the gift. This kind person bought a gift that, once opened we discovered, was used. It was missing pieces, the stickers were already added, and one piece was actually broken. Seriously people, be cool. Don’t return stuff broken and then NOT tell the store!

Zen is 2.5 years old, for those who have lost count. He was disappointed he couldn’t play with his toy. “But WHY, Momma? I want to play!”
Two year old toddlers aren’t always reasonable. I tried telling him it was broken and I was working on getting him a new one.

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Here is a recent picture of Zen. He is getting so big! 

 

I tried to figure out where the toy came from. I still am not sure.
Zen just kept pointing to the box and asking hopefully “I play with that?”
I felt so badly.

During one of my Goggle searches for the mystery toy I discovered Kohl’s has something similar enough that Zen would love. Even better, the item was on clearance. Top it off with the fact I have had Kohl’s Merchandise Credit sitting in my wallet for some time now and nothing important to spend it on.

Off to Kohl’s I went. I quickly found the toy. It was originally priced at $69.99. The website had it listed at $28 (for those wondering, it isn’t on the website anymore. My guess is they sold out).
The store had a clearance sticker price on it for $34.99. I went to the register and hopefully asked if they price match to their site. For the record, they do not. Darn. Oh well.

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Original price and clearance sticker price. 

The cashier rang it up and it came up at $27.99! One penny cheaper than online! Yay! Yes, a penny matters to me and I was thrilled! I also had a coupon for 15% off. This took $4.20 off the sale price. My total, after tax, was $25.60. Not bad considering retail value is $69.99. However, I was not done. I still had my Merchandise Credit to use. That took an additional $22.25 off my total. Out of pocket I paid an amazing $3.35! Can you believe that?

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Zen doesn’t have the original toy, but he has a pretty awesome substitute and he is thrilled with it! So what did I buy? I got him the Vtech Go!Go! Smart Wheels Ultimate Amazement Park Playset. The set we got is a Kohl’s exclusive and included an extra 15 pieces of track! Here it is:

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Pretty cool! Especially since I paid a whopping $3.35 for it! I am going to write another post about putting it together (I grumbled a lot more than I thought I would) and reviewing it. No, I am not being compensated in any way. I just want to review it on my own accord for those who are interested in it. You can get this set, without the extra 15 pieces, at other stores. It looks like the smaller set retails for $59.99, but a quick Google search tells me all the big stores also have this on post-holiday clearance!

Zen knows this is not really from me. It is a special gift from a Secret Santa; someone with a kind and generous heart who just wanted to put a smile on my baby’s face. That person is amazing and we send them our thanks and love.

~Andrea

Old-Fashioned Dairy-Free Butter Mints

I am not a huge candy person. I rarely eat it or buy it for my kids. I much prefer ice cream. Candy, to me, is more of a treat meant for holidays.
Due to the fact we have food restrictions I usually make our candy. There is an online shop I can buy some candy at, but it adds up fast. Besides, there is a joy in making treats that are special for those you love.

I have a few tried and true recipes. For example, every Christmas I make pomegranate clusters (recipe found here). This is a favorite and I only make it for Christmas in order to keep it special.

This year I really wanted to try something new. I found a recipe for butter mints and I wondered if I could make it safe for my kids. I managed to successfully change the recipe! Yay! So without further ado here is my recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as we have.

Old-Fashioned Dairy-Free Butter Mints

INGREDIENTS:

  1. 1 1/4 cup butter substitute (I use Earth Balance Soy-Free Buttery Spread)
  2. 3 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar plus 1/4 cup+, if needed**
  3. 1/3 cup Cream of Coconut (this is NOT coconut milk! Make sure you are getting cream of coconut)
  4. 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract*
  5. food coloring, optional (I use natural food coloring)

    **Due to the fact that store bought confectioner’s sugar has corn in it I make my own. All you have to do is put sugar, 1 cup at a time or 2 if you have a high-powered one like Vitamix, in a blender or food processor and make it into powder. Some people will tell you to add a starch but I do not feel it is necessary unless you want to make enough to keep on your pantry shelf. If that is the case here is a good recipe for you.

DIRECTIONS:

Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth; about 1 minute-ish on medium-high.  Add 3 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, cream of coconut, and peppermint. Beat on medium-low speed until a dough forms. If the dough seems wet add additional confectioners’ sugar until dough combines; being careful not to add too much. The dough will be crumbly but will come together when squeezed into a ball.

Taste the batter. If needed, add additional mint extract.*Be very, VERY careful how much mint you add; you cannot undo this!!*

This is what the dough looks like pre-color.

This is what the dough looks like pre-color.

If you want multiple colors remove dough from the mixer and separate into smaller balls. I opted for red and green (Christmas colors). Add the food coloring (I started with 8 drops) of your choice to the ball and mix on low speed until the color is well blended. Add more color as needed to achieve the desired look.

Red and Green mints for Christmas! Yes, I realize the red is more pink than red, but I use natural food colors and I think this is more retro looking; very cool.

Red and Green mints for Christmas! Yes, I realize the red is more pink than red, but I use natural food colors and I think this is more retro looking; very cool.

Wash the mixing bowl and the paddle in between each color change and repeat until all the balls are colored. Make sure these are completely dry or they will mess up your dough consistency!

Place a golf ball sized amount of dough in your hands and roll dough into long, thin ropes. I found it easiest to roll all of the dough of one color and place each rope next to each other on the counter. I then used a pizza cutter and cut through all the ropes, creating bite sized pieces. I did have to add a bit of powered sugar to my counters as my house was a bit warm and the dough was getting slightly sticky, but be careful not to add too much!

I cut the mints about 1-1.5 cm long.

I cut the mints about 1-1.5 cm long.

Store mints in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They they will keep for several weeks.

These mints are seriously good. I had to cut my children off or they would have just sat and ate them all! I think 4 at a time is more than enough. I am guessing we got about 200 mints out of this batch.

These mints are seriously good. I had to cut my children off or they would have just sat and ate them all! I think 4 at a time is more than enough. I am guessing we got about 200 mints out of this batch.

*Please note that mint extracts are far more intensely flavored and potent than vanilla extract; You will NOT use a 1:1 ratio! It is more like 1/8 teaspoon of mint extract to 1 teaspoon of vanilla. It is best to add very little and add more as needed since you cannot undo the flavor.
There are different kinds of mint extracts available. You will find mint, peppermint, spearmint, etc.  I used what I had on hand; Watkins Pure Peppermint Extract. Next time I will use Frontier Mint, which has a more spearmint smell to it. Use what sounds, smells, tastes best for you.
I do think I will try other extracts for different holidays. I am thinking that for Easter I will try lemon or orange. I imagine cinnamon, rum, coffee, etc could also work. If you try any of these let me know how they turn out!

If you want to make the dough and walk away for a bit you can store it in the fridge. Wrap it with plastic wrap and place it in an airtight container until you are ready to roll it out.

Enjoy!
~Andrea

Saying Good-Bye to 2014 and a Welcome message to 2015

I think 2014 was better than 2013, but 2013 was a mixed year; sweet Zen arrived but Mark lost his job and my grandma died. Was it better or worse than 2014? A baby sure is a pretty amazing thing, but so much “yuck” happened also. As I sit and think about it 2014 was mixed also; we moved back to MO (yay!) but we are still struggling to get back on our feet. It is hard. Every time we feel like we are getting ahead something happens. I could rattle the list out for you, but I am not sure if it would be uplifting (some really cool things happened) or depressing (some really yucky things happened).

I think I will refrain from the list and instead simply say “Good-bye 2014. I will take the lessons I learned and apply them to my life as best I can. I will remember what needs to be remembered and I will let what needs to stay in the past, in the past. Thank you for the good times. Thank you for time in general because it does pass all too quickly.”

“Hello 2015. What will you bring? Can I tell you my hopes? My dreams? My wishes? I hope Mark finds a better job so we can do more than just barely survive. I would love for him to find a job with health insurance so I am not in constant fear of “what ifs.” My dream is that he would, for the first time ever, have a normal job schedule so that we can see him every day instead of just twice a week. My wish is that those in my life fighting illness will be cured. I pray for them every day and I see glimmers of hope, but I also see the reality that chronic illness holds. I wish them to be healthy and fully alive.
I would like you to pass slowly so I can savor the moments better, but not so slowly that the appreciation of time wears thin.
I would like more laughter and less tears. I want more sunshine that is warm on my face. I want my children to have time to run and play and that their innocence lasts another year; please don’t take that from them.
I pray earnestly that you are the year that creates families for my friends and family who have waited so long. Too long.
Please be gentle, 2015. We, the world, have seen enough sadness. Please let this year be a year filled, not with fear, but with love and acceptance. Welcome 2015. I hope we can be friends.”

~Andrea

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Christmas At Our House

Twas the morning after Christmas at quarter past 9,
All the children were still snoring, including the canine.

I could go on and reinvent an old classic, but I think one line will do.

Our Christmas was different this year.

For the very first time ever my children woke way too early. My kids are not morning people. They sleep in. On Christmas, however, they were awake at 4:15! Gah! We told them to go back to bed; they didn’t. Mark, the baby, and I all stayed in bed until a more reasonable hour.

C-Dog tried to sleep under the tree. Silly boy.

C-Dog tried to sleep under the tree. Silly boy.

Really, it all started on Christmas Eve. The children and I carefully followed Santa’s course on NORAD. The anticipation was heavy and the chatter was nonstop as I made the last of the Christmas goodies. Each child opened a gift; a new ornament for the tree. We read Christmas stories and THE Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke. Bug played his guitar and the others sang carols. We put out cookies and celery (we figured the reindeer are sick of carrots) and the kids went to bed. They were so anxious and filled with excitement though! They had trouble settling. How fun to be a child and have such wonder!

Zen tracking Santa on NORAD

Zen tracking Santa on NORAD

My children get stockings that are not filled with candy for allergy and cost reasons. They were happy to receive bouncy balls, silly putty, bookmarks, and holiday socks.
They each received a toy, a useful item, and a special gift from Santa. Santa gifts were pretty amazing this year. They all had a hand-crafted element. Santa took great care.
C-Dog got his reindeer bell. A very heavy and solid bell that Elf declared as genuine. They also got one gift each from my parents (much needed clothes) and a group gift from Mark’s parents (Magic Fort for all our indoor and outdoor building needs, lol). The family got a new game. This year it was Scrabble. Sunny Day got a new Frisbee. The minimal Christmas is far less stressful and clean-up is a breeze. They were all happy and the day went on quiet and peaceful as they happily played. The weather was pleasant so they spent time out back. mid-afternoon Elf sat down and before we knew it she was sound asleep! We had to wake her for our meal.

Santa gifts!!!!

 

 

Elf zonked out on the couch. This is what happens when you are too excited and can't sleep at night.

Elf zonked out on the couch. This is what happens when you are too excited and can’t sleep at night.

Zen was an utter delight. Last Christmas he was too little to know what was going on. This year he was wide-eyed and filled with awe. It has been fun to watch his reaction to decorations and lights. He spends a portion of every evening simply sitting in front of the tree and just looking at it all lit up.

Through out Christmas day we nibbled on the many goodies I had made through the week. Gluten-free chocolate crinkle cookies, fudge, coconut crack, coconut shortbread cookies, chocolate pomegranate clusters, and dairy-free old fashioned butter mints (Oh my stars these are insanely yummy!).

Mark and I spent the day in the kitchen. I found a delightful bread recipe that is safe for every single person. We also made spinach lasagna; traditional and gluten-free. Elf loves spaghetti, but we never make it. Her safe spaghetti is very expensive for the entire family so we save it for special times like Christmas! She was thrilled. For dessert we had Peach Crisp.

It was a quiet and peaceful Christmas. This was probably one of my favorites. How has your holiday season been?

~Andrea

Gingerbread Train

In an effort to make memories many families make gingerbread houses for the holiday season. I saved up and opted for a train. I also opted for a pre-packaged kit because, even though we can’t eat it, it is cheaper than trying to make a gluten-free version that might not even work.

I brilliantly opted to set up the train station (hee hee, see what I did there) while Zen napped. He usually naps, at the very least, an hour but usually 2-3 hours. My plan was perfect.

The kids and I set out. I squirted out the Royal Icing and the kids built the train. We started decorating and the train was turning into a masterful work of art. Our hands were sticky with sugar and we were laughing and suddenly Zen was in the kitchen with us. No one heard him wake up. No one heard him make his way over to us. He is stealth-like. Next thing we know his hands are grabbing all the candies faster than we could say “Stop eating our gingerbread train!”

Our peaceful decorating turned into a crazy scene of “Fast! We need to finish this before he eats it all!” Between squirting frosting, flying shreds of coconut, and candy being pried from chubby baby hands we finished the train….mostly. It sure isn’t pretty any more. It is wilty and a bit sad, but it was fun and we laughed a lot. Score 1 for memory making!

Sure Zen made the moment crazy, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. He made us laugh a lot. He got to be a part of the process. It is OK he pulled wheels off and took the roof off and made the train tip over. We all had a fantastic time and that is really the point.

Merry Christmas!

It may not be pretty, but it was lots of fun!

It may not be pretty, but it was lots of fun!