Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Year in Review

It amazes me that today is the last day of 2011.  Where has the time gone?!  Last night David and I went to see the movie, The Way. It is a delightful film about walking the Camino de Santiago in Northern Spain.  Well, its about more than just that, but it centers around The Camino.  David's father, Damaso, who is originally from Madrid, Spain told us about the movie while we were in Charlotte for Christmas, and when I noticed it was playing in Boise, I made sure David and I checked it out as soon as possible.  Anyway, seeing the film was the perfect way to close the year and give us both inspiration for our dreams for 2012.
2011 was a year of sickness for both David and I, but especially for me- from the Swine Flu last January where I fainted and fell through the shower door and I had to get 5 staples in my head, to David's ACL and micro-fracture surgery, to kidney stones, and the flare up of Ulcerative Colitis I've been dealing with, to David having bronchitis in September and the stomach flu on our last day in Charlotte... it was a mess of a year for us.  So our number one goal for 2012 is to do everything we possibly can to have a healthy year(s) ahead.

I've found a doctor in the New York who is doing some very promising research on Ulcerative Colitis, and he has agreed to take me on as a patient.  The success rates of his mentor/colleague in Sydney, Australia are 90%, and I am a good candidate for the treatment, so wish me luck!  The Specific Carbohydrate Diet is definitely helping, combined with the antibiotics (Xifaxin) and probiotics (Florastor) I'm taking to combat the imbalance in my gut. 

David has done a great job rehabbing his knee, and as he continues to heal, we are looking forward to getting back on the slopes for a great year of skiing (weather permitting- snow, please snow!)  We're both trying to get into better shape... who isn't after all that rich holiday food?!  And our goals of getting to the gym and to hot yoga are at the top of the list.

This year has also been filled with great little travel adventures.  We started the year by going to San Francisco for a few days last January.  We made a bunch of trips to McCall, Idaho for skiing, camping, and playing with friends and it's one of our all time favorite places to be so we feel very lucky its so close.  We also took a trip to Leavenworth, WA over Memorial Day weekend.  It's the most charming little Bavarian town in a very beautiful and lush part of the Northwest.  I took a week to visit the midwest: my family in Wisconsin, where my dad and I won the father-daughter golf tournament at his golf club, Iowa to see David's sister and family, and then on to Chicago to attended the wedding of my dear high school friend, Maren Baker in June.  David took a trip up to Montana and Yellowstone in July, (which I was supposed to go on as well, but sadly those darn kidney stones kept me home.)  In September, David surprised me with a trip to Portland, OR for my birthday.  We had a blast watching the season opener Boise State game against Georgia with a crowd full of BSU Alumni and supporters at The Grand Central Bowl.  And we finished our year of adventures with a trip to Charlotte to visit David's family.  Man looking back, we were very busy!
Our goal for 2012 is more of the same.  However, we'd also like to make sure we fit in some international travel as well.  Although we can't find two months to walk the Camino de Santiago this year, we might be able to find 10 days or so to bike it.  We'd also like to get up to British Columbia and the San Juan Islands to do some kayaking this summer.  Neither of us have been to that part of the Northwest, and we are dying to check it out.

David and I would also like to spend more time with both of our families, but because we live so far from everyone, its hard to fit both sides into one year, but we are going to do our very best to make that happen.  We have a standing invite to all friends and family to come visit us too... our door is open if you feel up for an Idaho adventure!  The start of our travel this year will be a trip to Portland for some post holiday shopping without sales tax... win-win for good deals.  I can't wait!  We're also planning to check out the Portland museums and possibly attend the symphony for a well rounded cultural experience.

With the economy the way it is, David and I are trying to pay off all of our debts including our mortgage as quickly as possible so that we can pay for everything in cash from then on.  We're close to having only house debt, and its a very empowering feeling.  Cash flow can sometimes be an issue, but its amazing how many things people spend money on that they simply don't need... and we're all culprits of this behavior.  Our goal for 2012 is to be as close to debt free as we can be, and we're working really hard to get there.

My personal goal is to procrastinate less.  I've been working on several projects over the past year, and I want to get them all finished.  I've also gotten back into writing again, which I haven't done much of since college (10 years ago... where has that time gone... oye!) and I'm trying hard to focus my attention on finishing the various writing projects I've started.  I know I have a best seller in there somewhere!  But it all comes down to procrastination.  I have the ability to do great things... now I just have to do them.  What are your techniques to avoid procrastination?  I'd love to hear them!

Our final goal is the most important one to me: to start a family.  We are currently exploring all options for starting a family, including attending an adoption seminar next week, and looking more closely at finding a potential gestational surrogate willing to carry a baby for me at a cost we could afford (an angel carrier (no fee- angels require only the cost of the medical expenses involved in pregnancy) would answer my prayers!).  I'm also continuing to work on curing the Ulcerative Colitis I have so that I could possibly one day have a healthy pregnancy of my own.  Having just come from a big family Christmas in Charlotte, I'm craving a baby now more than ever.  Our families and friends make our world, and both David and I are very excited to have a family of our own.  No matter how annoyed or angry you get at your family, there is something so healing about the bond and kinship in family, I find it almost magical.
Guess who?!
The thing I can most definitely say about looking back on 2011, is that we are so grateful.  We have an abundance of goodness in our lives and I couldn't feel more thankful if I tried.  We have amazing family, friends, neighbors, a cool-albeit eccentric dog, great jobs, a very nice house, and most of all, each other.  If I were to say one thing about 2011 its that it is easy to look back upon the year with 20/20 vision and notice all the flaws, but to see all the goodness that comes from each moment and decision of our lives is a lot harder, but its certainly worth doing.  I'm even grateful for this darn Ulcerative Colitis... it's made me a much more compassionate person.  I'm aware of others more than I ever was before, and if I'd never had to deal with the pain and embarrassment its brought me, I'm not sure I would have ever felt the kind of compassion for others its also given me, and that is a gift.

I hope you have a fun New Year's Eve where ever you plan to spend it.  Be safe and I look forward to seeing you next year!


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Birthday Boy!

Today is a special day in our household, because today is my wonderful husband David's birthday.  

Happy Birthday Lovie!  

photo by Krakora Studios
I have a few special things planned to make his day especially wonderful... and I hope you'll all join me in wishing the love of my life a happy happy happy birthday!  

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Hello Everyone!

This evening David and I made it safely home from a wonderful trip to Charlotte, NC to celebrate the Christmas Holiday with the Lopez family.  My in-laws went all out for Christmas, and we really had a great time catching up with everyone.  Plus, my mom was there too, so I had such fun snuggling with my mommy on Christmas.

The only hiccup in the entire trip was the 24 hour stomach bug that the entire family came down with on the last day.  It definitely put a damper on the final day's festivities, but it was a minor flaw in an otherwise wonderful trip.  My two sister-in-laws and I were the only ones not effected by the bug... cross your fingers it stays that way!

When we are with family, David and I both wish there was a way we could move Boise closer to Madison, Boston, DC, St. Louis, Charlotte, Dubuque, etc. so that we could see each other on a more regular basis.  We're lucky to have such a nice group of people to belong to!  But we're torn, because we love everything about our western lifestyle, so we don't want to leave here, but maybe we can somehow convince everyone to move out west?!  Portland could be a good compromise to Charlotte, St. Louis, Boston, and DC, no?!  And Madison and Dubuque could possibly compare to Boise, right?!  I know, I know, I'm just dreaming!

Anyway, as I'm sure you'll all agree that no matter how great any trip you go on is, coming home is always so nice!  Our little Linus Lopez was over the moon to see us walk through the door (even when we made him wear his Christmas antlers!), and everything seemed so calm and steady the minute we set foot on Boise soil.  I love coming home!

Since we've been singing this song from the minute we stepped off the plane in Boise, I thought I would share it will you all.

We hope you all had a lovely Christmas and have a (safe and) Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Best Christmas Cookies ever... and they're SCD approved!

Hello All!

Last night I made the most delicious cookies I think I've ever had... and they are completely SCD approved, which makes them even better!  My wonderful husband thought they were so delicious he arranged them all on a plate for me and told me to take a picture of them and post the recipe on my blog.  So, I've taken his advice... I hope you enjoy these as much as I do!

I took a recipe for "Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies" found on Elana's Pantry, and altered it a wee bit to make it SCD approved.  Here's what I came up with:

SCD Snickerdoodles
2 ½ cups blanched almond flour
½ teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup butter or ghee
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

½ cup honey
Cinnamon to taste

  1. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl
  2. Stir together wet ingredients in a smaller bowl
  3. Mix wet ingredients into dry... let the mixture sit in the fridge for about 30 minutes
  4. Form ½-inch 1-inch balls and press onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet
  5. Bake at 350° for about 10 minutes or until golden brown
  6. Cool before removing them from the parchment paper.
  7. Either sprinkle cinnamon on top of each cookie, or put the cookies in a paper bag and cinnamon and shake.
  8. Remove and serve.
Makes 24 cookies

As a side note, I've been following the SCD program now since the beginning of November, and although I'm not having perfect results, I'm feeling so much better over all.  And I'm able to do things like go for a hike with out panicking and jumping into a bush, and even get through my hot yoga classes (although I'm still not able to do all the poses, but I'm working toward it!)  But either way, better is better, and if following this diet for only a month and a half has made me feel this good, I can't wait to see how well I do in six months!  Bon Appetite!    

Saturday, December 17, 2011

World Religions Series: The Episcopal Faith

Grant Wiseman was a counselor and student events coordinator at the boarding school, Wayland Academy, I went to for my Junior and Senior years in High School.  And, Grant's wife Heather was my Spanish teacher, my dorm "mother," and my boss, so I got a chance to know the Wisemans fairly well during my time at Wayland.  (In fact, I remember being so nervous to knock on their door the night I was having appendicitis... so I waited until the next morning... good thing I finally did knock!)  I tried to dig out old pictures of Grant and Heather from our days at Wayland, but the box full of photos was too difficult to get at without my husband's help, and he was no where to be found this morning.
Heather and Grant with their twin girls, Abigail and Audrey
I remember Grant was very passionate and excited about working with kids.  His office was in the Student Union, and he had Manchester United stuff on the walls, which I thought was especially cool because my last name was Manchester.  He also played fun music and was a very encouraging force for the students.

I also remember always knowing that Grant wanted to be an Episcopal Priest, and back then, I remember thinking, "Why would anyone want to be a priest?"  Frankly, until otherwise explained to me, I thought that becoming a "priest" meant that Grant would have to end his marriage with Heather like in the Catholic Religion, and when I knew them, they were still newly weds, so that was a bit confusing to me.  I actually remember the day Heather explained to me that that was not the case.  It was like a light bulb went on, and I suddenly got it!

I re-connected with the Wisemans through Facebook, and I was so happy to see that Grant was able to work in the church as he wanted to do when I first knew him.  They are living in Aiken, South Carolina with their twin girls, and Grant is a Rector at St. Thaddeus Episcopal Church.  Grant and Heather had a real influence on me back in High School, and I will always have find memories of that time.  Thank you Grant, for taking time during this busy Christmas Season to participate in my World Religion quest.  And now, in Grant Wiseman's words, The Episcopal Church.

What religion do you practice, and how did you come to practice it? 
I am a Christian who practices his faith in the Episcopal Denomination

Tell me about your religion. Describe what the tenants of your relgion are in your words.The tenets of our religion are described in 39 articles formally. They are also found in the Catechism in the Book of Common Prayer. The thing that makes the Episcopal Church unique in comparison to others of the more Catholic leaning denominations and sects is that we have a bicameral body that makes major decisions regarding practice and doctrine. For that reason, we find ourselves challenging some of the more traditional beliefs of the Christian faith. In some ways it is more like the church in its beginning stages. While we have bishops, and dioceses like many other catholic churches, we give significant amount of decision making to the individual dioceses. Unlike Roman Catholicism where the Pope has ultimate ruling power, we have no central leader. Our “Presiding Bishop” is nothing more than the ‘greatest among equals” and has no power over other bishops. She (that is another difference) is the president of the House of Bishops. We have a House of Deputies as well that is made up of laypeople (every day members) and clergy (Priests and Deacons).We practice our faith using a liturgy that is found in the Book of Common Prayer. It has services for the Daily Office that has its roots in the monastic traditions. It is still practiced both individually among our members, as well as in the monastic communities that still exist. Our regular Sunday services include the Eucharist. The Eucharist is also called Communion. It is an important part of our faith. The other major Sacrament is Baptism. Sacraments are important to Episcopalians and they are defined as “Outward and visible signs of an inward and spiritual grace” What does your religion mean to you?It is life. Practicing as an Episcopalian is for me the best expression of may faith in Christ as my Redeemer. It expresses for me the best way that I celebrate what God has done for me. It is imperfect, just like me. So many of the unexplained events in my life are best understood by my faith.

What are five things you love about your religion?
1. The liturgy, how the service is expressed in its various ways. Whether it is High Church. We call that Smells and Bells or Low Church much more casual. High Church is chanted and is incredibly powerful. Whereas Low Church, is for many people very accessible.
2. Music
3. Community. Like most religions, the strength of the community is an important part of it. Actually most of this is somehow food related. We like our potlucks, barbeques and any other reason to eat.
4. Wide interpretation of scripture and doctrine. This is both a thing I love and hate in its practice. It is messy and causes stress, but that allows our church to respond to the reality that we live in an ever evolving understanding of reality.
5. How it challenges me. Both how I live my daily life, and how it challenges my world view.

What are five things you don’t particularly agree with about your religion?
1. I struggle with those within my faith that see the Bible as infallible. It diminishes the power of the story that is contained in the Bible and the reality that it took us almost 500 years to come up with the Bible in its final form.
2. The way we fight. Often it is done with the most hurtful and least Christain Language.
3. General Convention. It is the equivalent of Congress for the Episcopal Church. My main reason for not liking it is that it is not run well and lasts too long. Done right, it could be incredible.
4. Wide interpretation of scripture and doctrine. Sometimes in our haste to become what we believe is socially or morally correct that is outside of our tradition we don’t take the time to form a defined reason for our changes. It then also becomes a problem where we ostracize those who are not on our side whether it be the side of the innovator, or the traditionalist.
5. Lack of Leadership. We don’t train our leaders well enough and that inhibits growth spiritually and physically.

What are the most common misconceptions about your religion and how do you address them?
That we are elitist. While many of our parishes are very comfortable, even wealthy, most are small and barely making it financially. Hard to overcome when people see the National Cathedral which is Episcopal, and Trinity Wall Street as our main churches. In middle America it is easier. Highlight what we do in Haiti which is actually the largest diocese in population in our church.That Bishop Robinson speaks for the Church. He is the first openly Gay bishop in our church. He does not act like a bishop who happens to be Gay, but seems to relish being the “Gay Bishop.” That is the wrong order or emphasis. He is a bishop, and a generally good man who can’t help but jump into every public argument and speak as if he is speaking for all of us. As to how to address it, hope he retires soon.

How does your religion affect your family life? Your work life?
It is our life, as I am a Priest. My daughters and wife are very much a part of how our faith. We are all active in various ministries and ways. It is where my passions are best expressed. If you could leave people with one idea that most closely describes the way you see and understand your religion, what would that be?If you are looking for a place that you can struggle comfortably with your faith, then the Episcopal church is a good place. It allows you to ask questions, not just follow everything without being able to question the doctrines and practice. It prays well.

Is there anything else you’d like to add? 
Not at this time.

To check out the rest of my World Religion Series, click on the links below:
The Story of Old Turtle
The Greek Orthodox Faith
The Christian Science Faith

Thursday, December 15, 2011


This morning I was reading the news online, and I noticed this article about retouching photographs.  For some reason, and I don't mean for this to sound weird, but it made me feel prettier.

I hope it does the same for all of you: Retouched or not? Tool spots photos too flawless features

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Best Christmas Prank Ever!

I love a good prank, and when I saw this, I knew I had to share it with my readers.  Jimmy Kimmel got some hysterical responses when he asked his viewers to play a little joke on their children.  Frankly, I think you could pull the same joke on adults and get an equally funny response, but kids are so awesome and unafraid of telling you how they really feel... I just love it!  I hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sticking To It

So I've been on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet for almost a month now, and I'm really seeing a difference.  My gut isn't having quite the same amount of cramping and uncomfortable bloating after each meal, and my energy level is much better.  I also switched medications, which definitely helped!

Sunday, however, we tried to go out to eat to this great local Mexican Restaurant, Cafe Ole´ for dinner.  After being seated at the table with waters and chips and salsa served to us, we realized that there wasn't really anything on the menu we could eat and still stick to the plan.  Including the mouth watering chips and salsa sitting at the table in front of us.  This was especially frustrating to David, who was starving after a 10 mile jog in the Boise foothills, so we decided to high tail it out of there and eat at this place we both enjoy called Fork.  

The thing is, David was still frustrated.  I just assumed that he felt, as I did, that it was still fun to go out to restaurants even though there were limitations to our eating.  I also thought that he liked the whole grazing style of eating better than set meals.  This was not the case.  Note to self: quit assuming.  This lifestyle was exhausting him.  When it came down to it, I was expecting him to follow this program, but not helping him understand it or follow it, apart from telling him to "read the book."  It truly wasn't fair to him.  So, yesterday I sat down and came up with a great (albeit simple) solution:  Weekly meal plans.

I sat down yesterday armed with The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook, Breaking the Vicious Cycle Cookbook, and my favorite online SCD food blogs, Roost and Comfy Belly, and I picked out a weeks worth of great meals and I made a delightful plan to follow.  I made the appropriate adjustments to the recipes to make them SCD compliant, of course, but for week one, I think we're going to be eating pretty well and almost all the recipes are very quick and easy to prepare too.  Here's what I came up with for this week:

Dinner: Seared Salmon with Cilantro-Cucumber Salsa

Breakfast: Fruit
Lunch: Left overs from the night before
Dinner: Beef Stew with Fennel and Shallots and Carrot & Beet Salad

Breakfast: Fruit
Lunch: Left overs from the night before
Dinner: Braised Chicken with Mushrooms and Pearl Onions and Spinach Side Salad

Breakfast: Yogurt
Lunch: Left overs from the night  before
Dinner: Mahimahi with Macadamia Nut Crust and Apple Walnut Salad

Breakfast: Yogurt
Lunch: Left Overs
Dinner: Spicy Beef Kabobs with a Greek salad

Breakfast: Veggies and Scrambled Eggs
Lunch: Left overs from the night  before
Dinner: SCD Chicken Croquettes and SCD Cheese Bread
Desert: SCD Cheese cake

Breakfast: Omelet
Lunch: Left overs from the night  before
Dinner: Left Overs and Salads

Last night's meal of Seared Salmon with Cilantro-Cucumber Salsa was AMAZING!  It was absolutely delicious and it made us both happy.  I only wish I'd saved the fresh-caught fish my friend Thad gave us about a month ago for this recipe.  Oh well... I'll just have to beg him for another one of his catches!  

The other thing we both noticed about the meal was how nice it was to sit and enjoy it together.  We used to do it all the time, but we'd gotten out of the habit lately.  David and I both feel that with our completely opposite work schedules, these meal plans will both help us save money on groceries, and give us an opportunity to enjoy quality time together.

What we've also decided is that we'll make the meal plan every Saturday or Sunday.  Then we'll do the shopping for the week on Saturday or Sunday as well so we won't be scrambling to find the ingredients to prepare each meal on the night we are trying to cook it.  Makes such logical sense, and yet we weren't doing it that way.

I think we've finally figured out how to stick to the SCD program and keep both of us happy.  It's such a relief... And I think I'm really going to get into this whole weekly meal plan.  I love a good plan, and lists are my favorite!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Movie Magic... "Hugo"

David and I just returned from a night of dinner and a movie.  I got to pick the movie tonight, and I chose, Hugo.  Have you seen it yet?

It made me feel like a child again!  It was purely magical.  I'm not sure when I last saw a film that made me see things through the youthful eyes of a child quite like this film does.

Hugo is directed by Martin Scorsese.  The casting is superb, with Sasha Baron Cohen (Borat) playing an awkward detective out to get our hero Hugo (Asa Butterfield), and Ben Kingsley (Gandhi) playing the miserly old owner of a toy shop.  Jude Law and Emily Mortimer also have small roles.

The film is based on a book by Brian Selznick called The Invention of Hugo Cabret.  Rather than wreck the magic of the film, I'm not going to give you the plot line... but if you absolutely must have one, click here.

Just go see it!  

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Homemade Christmas

Hello Everyone!

I'm sure you are all as busy as me these days trying to get ready for Christmas... and a wreath on the front door was the extent of my decorating because we're spending Christmas with my in-laws in Charlotte.  Instead, I'm working away making gifts for friends and family.

This year, instead of giving away cookies or breads or meaningless trinkets, I've decided to make a nice jar of homemade yogurt for friends and co-workers.  This is a really neat idea as well from Coco at Roost Blog: A spiced Ginger Cake with Rosemary Apple Butter. And I found this fun craft idea this morning on Design Mom: Sharpie-Dyed Clothes.  Most of my homemade gifts I'm keeping secret for the surprise effect on Christmas morning, but I'll be sure to post them after Christmas.

I've been noticing that the more thought I put into Christmas, the more meaningful it is.  I'm actually at the point where I get angry about spending tons of money on "stuff" for Christmas.  I'd much rather have someone buy me a gift randomly, because they saw it and thought of me, then just give me something because its Christmas or my birthday.

Last night David and I watched Charlie Brown Christmas on Hulu. If you haven't seen the movie, its about Charlie Brown's search for the meaning of Christmas.  Charlie Brown confides in Linus that even though Christmas is approaching he still feels depressed, despite all the presents, cards and tree decorating, due to the over-commercialization of Christmas.  Boy did David and I identify with that!

Our favorite things about the holidays are the little things... I don't remember the gifts I got as a child, but I do remember the time my dad took us down to frozen Lake Wisconsin in our old Willy's Jeep and threw a rope off the back and then pulled us around on sleds whipping us all over the place.  We had so much fun we laughed until it hurt!  Or the bonfires... My family made legendary bonfires on our land.  Those, I will never forget.

I'm curious, what makes Christmas special for you?  How much do you think is too much to spend on a Christmas gift?  At what point does spending money become more about yourself and less about the gift or the person you're giving it to?  What is your best technique for maneuvering the holidays while keeping Christmas cheer in your heart?    

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Rabbit Rabbit!

Rabbit Rabbit!  Have a happy and lucky month filled with Holiday cheer!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My new favorite TV Obsession: Once Upon a Time

Has anyone seen the new ABC show Once Upon a Time?  I LOVE it! 

Besides having a great cast including Ginnifer Goodwin of Big Love fame, Jennifer Morrison of House, and Robert Carlyle from one of the best British comedies ever; The Full Monty (among a host of others,) the story is, well, enchanting.

It's about this town in Maine called Storybrooke where all the fairy tale characters are trapped in our world because of a curse.  Oh, and they don't know that they are fairy tale characters... that is most of them don't know.

It's cute, clever, and much deeper and more intriguing than I'm making it sound.  Check out the Wiki description and the Imdb description... or better yet, check out an episode on

This year must be the year of the Fairy Tale, because NBC also came out with Grimm... which is the darker side of Fairy Tales.  It's like the SUV version of fairy tales.  Its good.  I prefer Once Upon a Time because every episode leaves you wanting more.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Making SCD Yogurt... yum!

For the Specific Carbohydrate Diet that I started recently to heal the Ulcerative Colitis that I've been plagued by, I've started making homemade yogurt and its DELICIOUS!

David and I are both huge fans of its tart yet creamy flavor, and I am an especially huge fan of how easy it is to do.  In fact, it was so easy, I've decided that it's the perfect gift to give to friends for Christmas instead of hoards of cookies or bread that everyone usually gives and gets... delicious and nutritious!

For excellent (easy) directions and the great SCD approved recipe, check it out here and here.

I started out my SCD program by making yogurt in a yogurt maker my mom gave me years ago, which had been sitting in storage untouched.  It was super easy to use and it turns out awesome individual servings of yogurt, but we were going through it so fast I was making yogurt 3 times a week.  Although hooked on the yogurt because it makes my belly feel so good, I needed a way to make it less time consuming.

I tried making it in the oven, but I didn't do it right, and it turned out badly.  Oh well.  Then I read about making yogurt in the food dehydrator, which is another tool my mom gave me years ago and had been sitting in my basement unused... except for a few batches of apple chips I've made, so I gave it a whirl... perfecto!

I'd also been saving some glass Peanut Butter jars for a while and David was getting on me to either do something with them, or throw them out... they ended up being the perfect thing to make the yogurt in.  So, now I do both the yogurt maker for individual servings and the dehydrator for larger batches.  It's great!

Once the plain yogurt is made, I add honey and vanilla to mine, although you can add whatever you like.  David prefers adding cinnamon, and my friend adds fruit to hers.  Either way, it all tastes wonderful!

The yogurt is also great for making things like SCD approved cakes and frostings, which I haven't tried yet, but I'm planning to with my next big batch.  I've been using the Yogourmet yogurt starter, and its really nice and tart.  For the yogurt to be SCD approved it has to be cultured for 24-28 hours to cook off all the lactose.  This makes is more tart and also easy to digest.  I use whole milk, but you can also use any kind of milk including coconut milk, and nut milks as well.  Whatever works best with your system.  I'm planning to try a batch with coconut milk next because my doctor would like me to limit my dairy... I'll be sure to let you know how it goes!
Euro Cuisine Yogurt Maker

The Excalibur Food Dehydrator
As the great Julia always says, "Bon Appetite!"

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Post Turkey Day Report

Hello Everyone!

I trust you all had a lovely Thanksgiving!  David and I think it might have been our best one yet.  We did all the things we love to do, and of course, as cheesy as it sounds, we were together, and for that, we couldn't be more thankful.

We woke up slowly.  I got the turkey ready and into the oven along with the first batch of pumpkin bread. Once that was set, we met up with our new neighbors for a hike in the foothills.  It was the perfect thing to get us going.  The hike was followed by a visit our Boise family the Wilcomb's for an hour or so to watch the end of the Packer game... Go Pack!  By the way, has anyone else noticed how much better looking Aaron Rodgers has gotten in the past year... a stylist must have finally gotten their paws on him, cuz he's looking really good these days.

When we got home the house smelled delicious.  The turkey was cooking perfectly, and I started in on the second batch of pumpkin bread, the mashed cauliflower, and the kale salad.  I decided that I was too tired to make the upside down pear cakes, however, I think I'm going to try them tomorrow.

Everything turned out to be amazing... except for the kale salad.  It would have been perfect, but for the olive oil I used.  Even though it was newly purchased, it had gone rancid, and the flavor destroyed the kale.  David was so sweet and told me it was delicious, but then I tasted it and almost spit it out at the table.  Oh well... not everything can be perfect on the first try... I'll just have to try, try again!   

I must say, this may have been our best turkey ever.  And definitely the best gravy ever.  I didn't follow the recipe exactly, but what I did made the bird the juiciest I've ever tasted... even the leftovers are juicy!  The pancetta helped keep the flavor in the bird.  Wow!  I highly recommend trying the recipe.
Best Gravy Ever!
My Cauliflower mashers still need some work, but they tasted great.  I should have used the food processor instead of the hand masher.  Oh well.

The pumpkin bread may have been the winner of the holiday though.  The almond flour made it light and the eggs gave it a moistness that was just perfect.  David almost devoured the entire thing... this is definitely a recipe I'll be cooking more often.

After eating we were stuffed, so we held off on cleaning the dishes until later.  Instead we watched an old movie and then worked on some of our creative projects.  Then watched another movie... the laziness was divine!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A SCD Thanksgiving Feast

First of all, Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

After much consideration, careful research and planning, I've come up with my Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) approved Thanksgiving feast thanks to the bloggers at Sunset Magazine, Elana's Pantry, Comfy Belly, and Roost.  Here's what their Recipes look like:

Turkey covered with Sea Salt, Rosemary, and Pancetta

Cauliflower "mashed-potatoes" with Herb gravy

Kale and Cranberry Salad

Pumpkin Bread

Upside down Pear Cakes with Vanilla Honey and Cardamom Cream

Sounds good right?!  I'll let you know how it all turns out on Turkey Day... wish me luck!

I hope you are all able to be with someone you love this holiday season!

Best Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is here, so our minds have turned
To what time has taught us, to what we’ve learned:
We often focus all our thought
On shiny things we’ve shopped and bought;
We take our pleasure in material things
Forgetting the pleasure that friendship brings.
If a lot of our stuff just vanished today,
We’d see the foundation of each happy day
Is special relationships, constant and true,
And that’s when our thoughts go directly to you.
We wish you a Thanksgiving you’ll never forget,
Full of love and joy—your best one yet!

By Joanna Fuchs

Monday, November 21, 2011

Getting Holiday(s) Ready

What are you doing for the holidays?

Well, David and I are going to be enjoying a quiet Thanksgiving by ourselves at home (which will at some point include the film Home for the Holidays because their family disfunction cracks me up and its a great way to start the holiday season).  My oldest nephew, Cody, usually joins us for Turkey Day with a friend or two, but this year he's 21 (and no longer needs us to buy beer for him, (wink!)) so he and his friends are doing their own thing together in Salt Lake City before he heads off to his first year of college in Lake Tahoe, NV at Sierra Nevada College.

I remember those first holidays away from home... they were not as sad as my family thought they would be for me, but exciting and different.  I missed my family and the traditions, but I felt happy to be on my own at the same time.  We'll miss Cody this year, but we hope he has a delightful time with his friends making amazing memories.

We also have a Boise State game to go to against Wyoming.  It feels a little anti-climatic after our big loss last weekend, but hey... we still love our Boise State Broncos.

For Christmas we will be with David's family in Charlotte, NC.  They've also invited my mom to join in the festivities, which is a special treat for both me and my mom this year. David is looking forward to re-connecting with friends from his hometown he hasn't seen in years during our visit, and I'm looking forward to all the Christmas lights and smells.  I've always loved Christmas lights, hot cider, pine needles, oh and Christmas carols- especially the Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers Christmas Album... Once Upon a Christmas. I'm sure we'll all be found old movies in the Lopez's den like White Christmas, which is my favorite Christmas movie, and It's a Wonderful Life, which is David's favorite.

There is so much to do to prepare for the holidays.   It's not even Thanksgiving, and I'm already feeling the pressure.  From making our house slightly (I'm not doing a tree this year) festive, Christmas shopping (although this year we are doing homemade gifts for the adults so that makes it a little bit easier- at least on the pocket book) to sending the gifts ahead of time, to getting a flu shot, to baking holiday treats for friends, to doing a run through with my house/dog sitters, to packing, and everything in between.

From a food aspect, the holidays are going to be difficult for us this year.  David and I are in the process of beginning a new dietary plan, The Specific Carbohydrate Diet, together to help with my health problems.  Many of our holiday favorites like mashed potatoes and stuffing are off limits, so I'm going to have to come up with some new holiday favorites to replace those with.  Any ideas?  Please send them my way!

I'm sure the holidays will go by like a breeze, but that doesn't make me any less stressed about getting ready for them.  In my humble opinion, the best way to have a great time in almost any activity is to be fully prepared in advance so everything during said activity is easy and fun.  And I am all about making this holiday trip easy and fun... so watch out as I cross things off one of my many super organized lists!

Traveling across the country during any holiday time from a smallish airport like Boise is never easy, especially in the winter, so say a little prayer that our flights are all on time and we don't catch colds from the re-filtered air in the planes and airports!  Last year after a little weekend trip to San Francisco, I caught the swine flu and was out of commission for two weeks or more, and even fell and cracked my skull open in my delirium- don't worry, I won't post that picture!  It was not good, and I'm not looking to do a repeat!  Maybe I should move to Australia where Christmas occurs in the summer?!

Anyway, best of luck with your holiday preparations this year!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

World Religions Series: The Christian Science Faith

Hello Everyone!  We got our next submission... yeah!  

The next person to respond to my questions about their religion was my older brother, Chet.  When I thought about having Christian Science as one of the religions in my search to understand World Faiths, Chet was naturally the first person who came to mind for me to ask for answers to these questions.

Chet is an incredible artist, lecturer, and spiritual practitioner.  He travels the world doing what he is most passionate about: discussing God and spiritually.  

I've always felt that Chet and I are the most similar in our interests of all of my siblings (there are 5 of us including me) - we both love creating art.  Chet's artistic eye, his desire to travel, and his vision for what is possible (everything!) is something I have tried to pattern myself after for as long as I can remember.  In fact, when I was little Chet was living in Africa, and I remember I would frequently go sit in front of this huge world map in our house and stare at Kenya where he was living at the time, and think, "I'm going to travel and make art just like my big brother Chet one day."  I really couldn't wait to start on my world adventures just like my big brother.

Chet and I have the same father, but different mothers, which is why Chet was raised in Christian Science and I was raised in the Methodist church.  However, because all three of my older siblings were raised by their mother in Christian Science, it has always been an influential part of my life.  I've always found it to be very loving and peaceful, and its always had a valuable place in my life.

The Manchester siblings... Morgan, John, Me - Anabel, Chet, and Katie
Check out Chet's lecture series here and here and here.

Chet Manchester
Thank you Chetter for taking the time to help me along in my journey and for your very honest and heartfelt answers to my questions... 

Without further ado... Chet Manchester and The Christian Science Faith:

What religion do you practice, and how did you come to practice it?
I grew up in a Christian Science Sunday School but didn't take a serious interest in its teachings until I was in my teens.  One of my dad's good friends was a doctor and one of my mom's close friends was a Christian Science practitioner.  So, when health issues came up, I got to "test" these difference approaches to healing in both ways.  After taking antibiotics for a serious case of strep throat, I decided to call a Christian Science practitioner for help when the same issuesr ecurred.  This time, instead of taking a few weeks to heal, I was completely well overnight.  I'll never forget the profound sense of God's love that I experienced through Christian Science treatment.  It wasn't just that I was better physically - I felt deeply comforted, healed of fear and anxiety, secure in the care of a good and loving Creator.  Love is the essence of Christian Science and it's why I still practice it. 

Tell me about your religion.  Describe what the tenants of your religion are in your words.
Christian Science is essentially the science, the daily study and practice, of what Jesus lived and taught.  Rather than seeing him as a miracle worker or a myth, we see him as a man who was deeply scientific.  He healed naturally because he understood the spiritual nature of life better than anyone ever has.  He began from the premise of everyone's innate wholeness and perfection.  He saw God as infinite Love and pure Spirit.  He taught that good overcomes evil and love disarms hatred - he even called evil a "lie" - a mistake or misconception.  Jesus healed people's fears and their mistaken sense of being "sinners" by recognizing everyone as the perfect, flawless expression of a perfect, flawless God. 

What does your religion mean to you?
It helps me put spiritual ideas into practice every day.  Christian Science is both a religious teaching and a system of healing.  It’s about seeing the wholeness and interrelatedness of our thought, body, experience – it’s all ONE.  So, it doesn’t even feel so much like a “religion” but as a way of BEING that is spiritually natural and naturally spiritual. 

What are five things you love about your religion?
1.  I love that it encourages a thoughtful, reasoned approach to understanding God, myself and others.
2.  I love how practical it is: both as a religious teaching and a system of healing.
3.  I love how universal it is and how it helps me see everyone as a brother or sister.
4.  I love how revolutionary it is: it challenges centuries-old assumptions about sin, death, evil, matter.
5.  I love that it puts no pressure on me to be anything but what I am. 

What are five things you don’t particularly agree with about your religion?
The disagreements I feel have more to do with the religious culture that sometimes surrounds Christian Science - or any church:
1.  That Christian Scientists sometimes think and act as if they "own" the truth
2.  That our culture can be too judgmental of one another
3.  That we are too focused on the "letter" and lack the spirit of love that is the heart of all true religion
4.  That we are stuck on traditions in how we hold church services and are afraid of trying new ideas
5.  That we are not humble and honest enough about our shortcomings

What are the most common misconceptions about your religion and how do you address them?
  • People often confuse Christian Science with Scientology because of the name but there is no relationship between the two.  Christian Science is a Christian religion founded by Mary Baker Eddy in the 19th century.  Scientology was founded by science fiction writer, L. Ron Hubbard in the 1950s.
  • People confuse Christian Science with faith healing or think that we are "against doctors."  There's no teaching in our religion that forbids us to use medical care.  The spiritual method of healing we practice is so consistent that we generally don't need medical help.  In fact, a lot of people turn to Christian Science for healing when they aren't finding permanent answers in conventional medicine.
  • Conservative Christian theology sometimes views us as "non-Christian" because our religious teachings are not mainstream.  Most Christian theology was crafted by an elite council of religious leaders hundreds of years after Jesus lived.  We study the same Bible, the same Gospels, as other Christians; we feel the same profound love for Jesus and for what he taught.  We just look at some of his teachings very differently.

How does your religion affect your family life?  Your work life?
It helped me through a tough divorce and through some failed business ventures in my twenties.  Christian Science lifted me out of depression and led to my meeting the woman I've been married to for 21 years.  It provides daily inspiration, stability and joy to our marriage and parenting.  Christian Science helps us solve little and big problems through prayer.  My work life now involves practicing spiritual healing as a Christian Science practitioner, so it's an hourly, daily focus on growing spiritually and sharing what I'm learning with others. 

If you could leave people with one idea that most closely describes the way you see and understand your religion, what would that be?
Christian Science is about seeing beneath the material surface of life to the reality of what an all-loving God has created. 

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I'm so glad you're doing this project!  I just think we're living in a very exciting time spiritually.  That the more deeply we look into our own and others' faiths, the more commonality we will discover.  A century ago, there was such confidence in science and medicine that many people believed that all our problems would be solved in the 20th century - there would be no more disease, poverty, disfunction in society and no need for the "myth" of God.  Well, clearly, there's much more for us to learn!  I believe it's time for the artificial wall between religion and science to come down - for the world to discover that there is a true science underlying all religion and a religious dimension to all true science.  We're just barely scratching the surface in our understanding of the spiritual dimension of life.  If we can all speak from our hearts and from our experiences instead of from our theologies and our dogmas, the earth is going to be a much happier, healthier place!
Chet, Me - Anabel, David, Chet's daughter Moriah, and wife Anne at our wedding. 

If you haven't already, be sure to check out the rest of the World Religions Series...