Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy Happy New Year!

Despite the fact that I haven't blogged in ages (oops!)  I feel drawn tonight to put my year in review and my resolutions for next year down on paper.  And since my penmanship is pretty atrocious, I'm going to use digital paper.

My first thought for 2015 is that if you want to move through life in warp speed, have a child.  Somehow my son managed to turn five in 2015.  FIVE.  That's HUGE!  On top of that, he started school.  SCHOOL!  Like REAL school!  How is it possible that the little baby I tried so hard for is now in school?  And next month, he's going to be six.  I might faint.  But I have to admit, he is the coolest five (almost six) year old I know.  He's dealing with celiac disease and the constant food restrictions like a champ.  He's made a ton of friends in school and the teacher said she's pleased to see what a positive example he sets for his new friends.  I couldn't be more proud of him.  Looking forward to 2016 because I KNOW he's going to learn how to read, and I simply CANNOT WAIT.

2015 was the year of the wedding.  Holy weddings.  It started with my best friend's beautiful barn wedding (which I was honored to be a part of), then a friend and former co-worker's seriously cool looking black and white wedding, followed closely behind by a quick island pig roast/lobster bake for my cousin and then ended with a bang at my sister's AMAZING beach-side wedding.  I get to call it AMAZING because I worked my tail off to make sure it was everything she hoped for...and then a bit more. It was a perfect day, with so many cool people and delicious food, and beautiful fire works, and, and, and....  Despite the broken ferry and a major cake fail, it was still a beautiful day and an amazing way to welcome my new brother-in-law to the family.

On the personal front, I attempted NaNoWriMo for the first time.  My conclusion, it was harder than I thought.  I went in knowing that I probably wouldn't be able to finish, 2200 words a day for a goal of 50,000 words written during the month of November.  And I was right, I wasn't able to finish, which was disappointing, but not unexpected due to the fact that I've never attempted to write so much so fast, and that I wasn't at all prepared.  But I won't say that NaNoWriMo was a complete failure.  I wrote more than I've ever written on a single story and I realized that I can't just sit down and write.  I need a plan, an outline, some scene sketches.  It was definitely a learning experience.

So, what is 2016 going to bring?  I don't know.  But I do have some goals.  First and foremost, I want for Ben and I to feel WELL in 2016.  I have felt miserable for the majority of 2015.  Between my stomach, a lack of energy and constant aching in my back, hips and knees, I feel a hell of a lot older than 32 years.  I'm done with it.  Today I spent a small fortune on supplements and vitamins which I HOPE will start healing my stomach so I can finally start to feel better.  And yes, I have a feeling a trip to the friendly gastroenterologist is also on the agenda for 2016.  I'm also going to work on getting Ben in tip-top shape as well.  He's doing well and gaining weight, finally, but I think he could still be doing better, so we're going to try some new belly healing techniques for him as well.  I want to end 2016 feeling great.

My other goal for 2016 is to write.  I suppose I'm starting with this blog post, since it's turned into an essay at this point, but I'd really like to focus on writing fiction.  Probably for no other reason than to see if I can do it, but you never know.  I'm pretty sure there are worse books on Amazon (I think I've read some) than something I could write.  So hey, you never know, maybe in 2016 I will write the next War and Peace.  Or not...

2015 was a pretty spectacular year, can't wait to see what 2016 has in store for us!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

A Night with Diana

I have a very small bucket list.  Mainly because I can never seem to find a pen when I want to jot something down that I think I should do.  So it really only contains a few things, like going to Scotland, writing a book, making a successful spongecake...and up until recently, it contained "Meeting Diana Gabaldon" which was actually at the top of the list.

Last night, I crossed it off the list.  (Well, figuratively, still no pens at hand.)  A few months ago the first (and so far ONLY) useful Facebook ad I had ever seen popped up on my newsfeed announcing Diana Gabaldon making an appearance in Portsmouth, NH.  I had been waiting for years, YEARS, for her to make an appearance in New England and since I happened to see that ad before the event sold out, I was able to pick up tickets for myself and my friend Amanda.

If you know me, you will likely have heard me talk about my favorite book series.  I've probably suggested you read them.  And since the show premiered on Starz last fall, I've probably suggested you drop everything and watch it.  I'm passionately in love with these books.  I love the story, I love the history and I love, love, love the characters.  I have read a lot of books (a lot) and very few characters stick with me like Diana's.  I have read the series many, many times and find something new to love every time.  I've read them when I was bored, I've read them when I was happy and I've read them when I was very, very unhappy.  And they never fail to captivate me, usually so much that I am all but useless for the days/weeks it takes me to finish a book or the series.

When I recommended them to my friend Amanda last summer as a good beach read I sent her home with Outlander on a Friday and on the following Thursday when I showed up to work she announced that her husband hated me because she hadn't cooked dinner or done any laundry for the past week because all she had done was read.  I handed her the copy of book two and my deepest apologies to her husband because I knew she would be a goner for the weeks it takes to read all eight books...

So last night Amanda and I took off early from our respective jobs and went to Portsmouth with our copies of Outlander.  We enjoyed a delicious dinner at British Beer Company, visited a cute little Celtic shop and oohed and aahed over the kilt collection and went to the Music Hall with 900 other women to see "Herself" speak.  (Ok, 896 women and 4 men)


(My phone couldn't handle the lights, but that is in fact "Herself" on the stage mere feet away from me)

She is hilarious.  She spent about 30 minutes telling the story of how she came about writing Outlander and began by telling us how she got the football players in her Anatomy and Physiology class to pay attention by announcing a discussion on the history of contraceptives and reciting the following rhyme:

In days of old when men were bold
And condoms weren't invented
We stuck wool cocks upon our cocks
And babies were prevented

That was the general tone for the evening...

After she spoke, a lady from NH PBS interviewed her asking questions about the books, the Starz show and a few audience questions (not my question, unfortunately-I probably put too many hearts on it) about when she is planning on ending the series. (She told the 77 year old audience member to keep taking her vitamins, so I think it might be a while)

After the Q&A, a line formed to have Diana sign books. We had already received a signed copy of her newest paperback so this was an opportunity to have it personalized or have her sign a different book. The line was quite long, but thanks to Amanda (who did NOT cut...merely "merged") we were towards the front and only waited half an hour or so to get her to sign our copies. So much anticipation! In the end I handed my phone off to an "assistant" who took several photos of me while she signed my book.

I feel a poster sized version of this may be necessary.

Our conversation went like this:
Herself: "Hello there (looks at my name on the post it on my book) Kyla, thank you for coming tonight."
Me: "Thank you so much for coming tonight!"
((We smile for my camera, she hands me the book))
Me: "Thank you so much, thanks!"

It was amazing. I seriously floated out of there. While I would have loved to bare my soul to her and tell her how much I love her writing, how important her characters are to me, how many times I've turned to them for escape or comfort of just out of happiness, and how much I just love her...I didn't.

Perhaps next time.... :)

This is me making really creepy eyes at Diana. (I'm so sorry about that Diana, I looked like I was going to eat you.)

This is me watching her write MY NAME on my copy of Outlander!

This is me trying to telepathically communicate with the person holding my phone, "Are you getting this?? She's writing MY NAME!! I'm STANDING NEXT TO DIANA GABALDON!!"

The final product. Pure Awesomeness!

Post signing selfie.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Makin' Bread

We are still putting up a fight against gluten.  It is much harder than you'd think.  Six months gluten free and kiddo is still testing positive for celiac.  While he is MUCH better than before, he's still not healthy yet and hasn't started to heal.  It's very frustrating.  I am beyond diligent when it comes to keeping him gluten free and yet it seems it's not enough.  So I continue to clean and read labels and hope that at some point something will be enough to get my kid healthy.

In the meantime, I've been asked frequently for the bread recipe I've been using.  It took me a long time to get a recipe I like and it's still not perfect, but I'll share should anyone out there want to give it a try.  It must be simple, because I can make it.  I started with this recipe from  It's a really good french bread recipe as is and I've been able to make it into rolls too so it's pretty versatile.  But I wasn't really happy with it so I made a few tweaks.  So this is MY bread recipe, or at least as it stands for now...

Sandwich Bread


1 cup white rice flour
1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup tapioca flour
2 Tablespoons ground Flaxseed
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast (1 package)
2 Tablespoons butter (melted) or oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vinegar


In the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, place flours, flaxseed, xanthan gum and salt.  Mix together on low or with spoon.  In a small bowl, dissolve sugar in water.  (Water should be about 110-115 degrees-I have had fine results with honey or brown rice syrup in place of sugar)  Gently stir in yeast.  Wait until mixture begins to foam and then add to dry ingredients with butter, eggs and vinegar.  Mix all on high for 3 minutes.  Scrape dough (which will look like batter) into greased bread pan.  Let rise in warm room until doubled in size (25-35 minutes).  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Bake for 40-45 minutes.  (Bread is done at 205 degrees if you use a thermometer)  Remove from pan to cool.

This is my current day-to-day bread.  It tastes AMAZING right from the oven, but gets dry quite quickly.  That, unfortunately, is the nature of gluten free bread.  The good news is that it toasts up quite nicely so it can still be used despite being dry.  Also, it can be left out to dry for a day or so and then ground up in a food processor to make awesome gluten free bread crumbs.  Inevitably I will tweak this some more, maybe someday I'll figure out a bread that stays moist for a few days.  If so, I'll be sure to share!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A bit of a "de-bra-cle"

A couple of years ago, for no reason that I can recall now other than perhaps boredom, I measured myself for a bra.  I discovered that, lo and behold, the bras I owned were four inches too large.  Since I had always just bought the smallest size I could find, which was the smallest size most manufacturers make, this posed a bit of a problem.  After a bit of googling I stumbled on a company, with very positive reviews from bra-uthorities like Good Housekeeping, that specialized in bras for petite people, like myself.  Delighted at the prospect of having clothing that actually FIT, I placed an order, slightly less delighted with the cost.  These you will not find in a two pack on clearance at, no my friend, these will cost you dearly.

The box came with an inconspicuous label and I was delighted to discover the enormous difference between a properly fitted bra and one that was two sizes too large.  After counting my pennies for a few months to order another I finally picked one out to add to my meager collection of clothing that actually fits.  I awaited the box anxiously.

In the meantime, my son started playing T-ball.  He loved it and had  a great time, he had a wonderful coach, who happened to be married to a friend of mine.  He also happened to be our mail carrier.

So imagine my delight, and then inevitable dismay when my next package came NOT with the inconspicuous return label but a much larger label announcing to the world, and by default my mail carrier and son's T-ball coach, my recent purchase from "The Little Bra Company."

It's a damn good thing I like the bra.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Party Time!

We celebrated a birthday this past weekend.  My beautiful little baby boy:

Turned FIVE!!!!

I'm still not sure how it's possible that I have a five year old human being that I call my own.  I am unbelievably lucky.  I am also unbelievably lucky at how well he's growing up!  The past five years have been amazing and we've been blessed to float through the terrible twos and horrendous threes with very few battle scars.  Four was a wonderful year as Ben matured and learned how to question, how to be kind and how to recognize how his behavior (and bad behavior!) affects others.  We've also learned that despite having to change his entire diet and give up some favorite foods, Ben is very positive and happy to eat gluten free!  And we're very happy that he's finally starting to feel better!  

So to celebrate turning five, (FIVE!!!) Ben wanted a Lego birthday.  Not surprising.  Ben has been very big into Legos for the past year.  He likes to build and is learning how to make pretty basic structures.  What he really likes is to play with the assembled Legos.  At any given time during the day I can find him making the Ninja Turtle Legos talk to each other, or leading Police Officers in endless pursuit of the bad guys.  He has a ton of Legos, thanks to some smart shopping on his Grammy's part for a stash of used Legos.  I was asked several times leading up to his birthday if I really wanted him to have more Legos and my answer was, of course!  If he wasn't playing with them or seemed to be losing interest I would say no, I've stepped on and vacuumed up enough Legos for one lifetime already.  But he loves them and I love that he gets to use his imagination and some basic engineering skills while playing.  I love that it's not tv or game related.  And I love that he's happy.  So bring on the Legos!
Ben's mini LegoLand

Yellow Balloons + Sharpie = Adorable!

Putting some Legos to good use holding our napkins and silverware!

Needed some gluten free Lego candy for goody bags so made some homemade gummies with fruit juice and gelatin.  Not everybody's favorite candy, but Ben liked them and we had fun making them!

Some handcrafted Lego goody bags made by my mom...

And some handcrafted goodies to go inside!  Made homemade Legoman crayons and a mini-coloring book!

Lunch was homemade gluten free pizza which, surprisingly, everyone ate and enjoyed!  Even the kiddos!  What a relief to be able to let my son eat one of his favorite foods with his friends and not worry about making him sick!  Dessert was gluten free birthday cake which tasted pretty amazing!  I lucked into finding this recipe and have had good luck tweaking it to meet my needs.

I thought making a Lego 5 would be easy.  It was way harder than I thought, but it still came out pretty good.   Thank goodness we found some willing Legomen to hold Ben's candles!

The party was wonderful and Ben was very happy to have friends and family join him.  I am looking forward to the next year and how many more amazing and wonderful things he can learn.  He will start school in the fall and I'm sure we'll be able to watch him grow in leaps and bounds.  I am one lucky mom to have such an amazing kiddo on my hands!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Gluten Free Party Problems.

I don't know if you noticed, but it snowed a bit today.

My husband noticed, since his face froze while snow blowing this afternoon.  I was out there helping too, but my facial hair is a little less substantial and, let's be honest, I was only out there for about 15 minutes before I wimped out.  

This is going to be a busy week.  I will also likely find myself in tears by the end of it.  My baby is turning 5.  5.  FIVE!!!!  How did this HAPPEN???  How is he FIVE?!?!?!  Needless to say I am not handling this well.

So with his party coming this weekend we have been wrestling with a party planning decision.  Ben has asked for pizza to be served at his party for him and his friends.  Since Ben cannot have gluten, this presents us with a decision to make.  I can make only gluten free pizza and force all his guests (kids included) to try out and pretend to enjoy gluten free pizza crust.  Or, I can make a couple gluten free pizzas and order a few regular pizzas from the store down the street.  While the second option sounds like the best and most logical option there is one slight problem with this.  Ben really shouldn't be around ANY gluten.  Even the gluten he's not eating.  If I let the other kids eat regular pizza I run the risk of Ben getting cross contaminated and then possibly quite sick on his birthday.  And that's just not fair.  But, is it fair to expect other adults AND kids to eat pizza that, while not terrible, is quite a bit different than what they're used to?  We've been back and forth over about this for a couple of weeks now.  While I really feel strongly that our house remain a "safe" zone for Ben, I think we are going to have to order a few "alternative" pizzas to serve to our guests.  Also, gluten free pizza crust is expensive and a pain in the balls to work with.  It will make my life easier to order a few pizzas to fill in the cracks.  (And, for the record, Don often orders pizza that he eats at home, but he is very careful about avoiding contact with Ben when he does so.)  So in hopes of avoiding cross contamination on his birthday, all Ben's friends will be under strict hand-washing orders and will have to keep their food away from him.  While this isn't my ideal plan, I think it will work and will make the party enjoyable for Ben and his guests.  If not, well, we'll try again next year!  Lego Pizza we come!!!

Monday, January 19, 2015

He is Literally Hilarious

From time to time I find myself having to stop and remind myself that my son is only four.  Well, nearly five now, but you get my point.  He's always been a very articulate speaker and asks really good questions for a four year old.  (He's brilliant.  And I am not at all biased.)  But then there are those times where I am reminded that he is VERY literal still.  Sarcasm, jokes, even some imaginative thinking is still beyond him at this point.  It's not to say that he doesn't have an imagination, good grief, the kid has an awesome imagination, it's just that he's still very literal.  Take for example his sound effects.  Onomatopoeia is pretty much beyond him.  If he is mimicking an action the sound effect is usually the action.  IE "Mom, I'm going to get your nose!"  As he reaches for my noise he will say "take" and then move to put my nose on his face and say "put on."  Yup.  That's how Ben rolls.  No "pop" or "rip" or "honk" it's "take."  I'm pretty sure that's normal.  It is weird though...

Another good example are jokes.  I told him the infamous knock-knock joke:

Who's there?
Banana who?
Who's there?
Banana who?
Who's there?
Orange who?
Orange you glad I didn't say banana again???

He now assumes that all knock-knock jokes are about fruit.  And punch lines are just beyond him.

Who's there?
Grape-banana who?

See what I mean?  He just doesn't get it.  Not even a little.  His little kid brain just doesn't work like that.  Which is fortunate, because it means he can get away with things like this:

This is Ben's Lego invention, a "Poikey-eared Hooker"

Ben:  "Look Mom! I made a poikey-eared hooker!"
Me: "Ummm, what is it?"
Ben: "A poikey-eared hooker.  You know, because it has a hook!"

He's just so damn literal....and it can be pretty hilarious!