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Friday, February 12, 2010

Getting ready for a 5th birthday

I can't believe my big girl is turning 5 on Sunday. I know we all say that the time flies but I never knew just how true that was until looking at my children's lives. My oldest is turning 5 on Valentine's Day and as we have for the past 5 years we're having a family get together to celebrate - only this year it is actually ON Valentines Day. We usually celebrate the Sunday after V-Day but since it falls on Sunday this year we get to 'spoil' every one's Valentines Day plans. Whoops.
The real bummer is that I usually go to our local grocery store and get free decorations for the party because we celebrate AFTER all the celebrations are over. They very freely give me dozens of helium balloons and other seasonal decor items. Sorry kiddo no helium heart shaped balloons this year - mamma's just too cheap to have to pay for them. But hey what can I say. We like to help the stores recycle instead of just throwing them away. Maybe I'll go in Monday and get her some anyway just to save face.
This year she is having her very first party with school friends. Last year we had a party with her playgroup friends but these are the girls that she is going to go through school with for several more years. It should be interesting too because this is our first drop off and go party. YIKES! We kept it small just for this reason. What on earth do 4 & 5 year old girls like to do to occupy 3.5 hours??? The birthday girl has put in a request for a movie but we'll see what really happens.
Alright well I'm baking muffins and trying to figure out how to decorate them so I guess I'd better get back to it. Wish me luck. I hope no one notices that our goodies are all Gluten Free... I'm trying my best to keep it 'normal' but it has to be safe for us all. I let you know what happens.

Monday, February 8, 2010

I love my Home

I don't know how many times I have been sitting beside Brian and thought how wonderful our home is here at the 'new' place. He always laughs at me because I let him know it. I'll look over at him and just say 'I love my home.' He almost always answers with some comment about how I'd better love it because its making us broke... Which is of course only a half truth.
We moved into our new place nearly a year ago. We took possession March 26th, 2009 and officially moved in April 9th. Gee can you tell that it was a significant moment in my life? Our old place was nice but unfortunately I never REALLY felt like it was mine. We also had some neighbours that left a lot to be desired and because of that the thousands of dollars we spent on landscaping a play area for the kids and garden area for me really just went to waste. Although they likely helped us sell the house faster. I wasn't very comfortable letting the kids play outside while the not so great neighbours were fighting and drinking and swearing a blue streak. Because of that we tended to stay inside.
Like I said in an my Year in Review post this house was meant to be ours. The speed of selling our old place was crazy. The fact that the owner accepted our offer here and everything else that fell into place so fast just reaffirmed that THIS is our HOME!
So why am I bringing this up? Well for a multitude of reasons. I just feel so blessed and thankful for the things in my life and my home. At the top of the list are of course my children. There is NOTHING like watching and listening to them running around our home. This place has SO much room for them to do just that. Not that we always encourage them running like maniacs through the house but it is fun to watch most of the time. We have a nifty loop that they can circle around and the laughter that comes with their running is infectious. Now that's the kind of infection I like!
The fact that I can be in the kitchen and the girls can be either in their playroom or bedroom and I can easily go see what they're doing without climbing up the stairs is a godsend. I know I should get the exercise of stairs but after falling down our old stairs at least once a year, except for in 2008, made me a lot wary of stair climbing to just check on the kids. Yes I'm a klutz! I fell down 6 months pregnant with Miranda to boot and that was a big one. Really quite scary considering I was already on bed rest and dilating at that point of the pregnancy. I love being able to run to any of our most regularly used rooms without 'doing' the stairs.
We have over 1600 square feet on each of the levels of this place, so its huge! Maybe some people won't think so but boy I think its more than enough space. Sure there are some storage issues but every house has those. Our rec room is fabulous now that we have renovated it and we're starting to actually use it too. The kids love having the big open space to play in and watch tv and they, like their momma, love the fireplace too. But now that Brian has his "Man Room" we're all set.
Every man deserves a little piece of heaven in his own home. Now that the pool table is in working order and Brian has his room finished (ok so its not 'finished but 90% is) he has a pace to go and do his own thing. I just hope that he loves having his own space as much as I love having mine (my sewing/crafting room). I can't wait for him the have the chance to have some friends over for a poker/pool night. I really hope that after having the pool table at the old house and not really using it he gets to make better use of it and have some people over to 'play with' once in a while.
Sorry I got side tracked there. I was vacuuming a little while ago and I just felt so blessed to have such a wonderful home. I was thinking about people who don't have what we have and I am glad that we have had the opportunities afforded to us by Brian having a secure job during the recent difficult economic times. By living in a country that doesn't have wars waging around every corner. By having health care that is accessible when we need it... by just about everything in my life. We don't often stop to just say 'thanks' but today I feel the need to do so. I'm not sure who will be listening or who will read this but thanks.
I'm going to take a few more minutes appreciating my life.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Worlds Best GF CF Banana Cake

I'm still learning about my new Gluten Free lifestyle and modifying recipes that were once loved, tried, tested and true for regular ingredients. I hadn't found an easy solution for certain favourites yet. But now I have for my banana cake/muffin/bread recipe. I couldn't believe just how easy it was too.
I have a new favourite all purpose flour mixture that I posted back in December. All I had to do was use that for the recipe, add some xanthan gum and let it sit for a while before popping it into the oven. This is one for the books if you love banana cake/muffins/bread. Especially if you like a nice moist cake that will be devoured by days end (if you're not careful).
I'd post a picture but my family ate it before I had the chance to get a photo. My husband (who can be quite skeptical about the taste and consistency of the GF CF recipes) said he couldn't tell that it was GF CF. I amazed him yet again.
Here's the recipe:
Wet Ingredients
2 eggs (room temperature)
1/2c CF ghee, CF shortening, margarine or regular butter if casein isn't an issue
1/2c Almond Breeze, or other milk substitute or milk again if milk isn't an issue
1tsp vinegar (add it to the milk now and let it sit at least 5 minutes)
1tsp vanilla
3 very ripe bananas
Dry Ingredients
1/2c white sugar
1/2c brown sugar (I use sucanat)
2c all purpose flour mixture (- if you're not GF just use regular baking flour and NO xanthan gum)
2tsp baking powder
1tsp baking soda
1/4tsp salt
2tsp xanthan gum
Mixing Instructions
In a large bowl -
1. Peel and mash the bananas
2. Add sugars and mix well
3. Add the eggs and mix well
In a separate bowl
4. Combine all dry ingredients and sift a couple of times to be sure they're well mixed
Then -
5. Mix dry ingredients into wet about 1/3 at a time and mix well
6. Add the milk and the vanilla and mix well
7. Let mixture sit covered with a moist cloth for at least 30 minutes and at most 1.5 hours this allows the xanthan gum and baking soda and powder to do their thing and make the cake fluffier.
Pre-heat the oven to 350F
Now for the tough part - decide which type of desert you are making and pour into 9x13 pan, muffin tins or bread pan.
For the 9x13 cake it takes about 30 minutes at 350F
The bread and muffins are around the same but make sure you test with a tooth pick before removing from the oven for good. You want to be sure the tooth pick comes out clean in several areas of the muffins, bread or cake as it could 'look' cooked in one spot but not be on the other side of the item. (I ran into this problem when I made a double batch in a larger cake pan - I think my oven cooks hotter on one side too).
If you want to ice the cake or muffins let them cool completely before making an icing of your choice. They freeze well too but I've never had the muffins in the freezer for longer than about a month. They're too tasty to leave sitting around.
There you have it. SOOOOO tasty. Let me know if you enjoy them. I'll see if I can get pictures next time we make them.