Welcome! I'm Cookie's Mom. You can learn all about Cookie and why I blog here: About Cookie's Chronicles. If you're new here, you may want to SUBSCRIBE TO MY RSS FEED. Thanks for stopping by! Pull up a beach chair and be my guest, won't you?

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

So long, Two Oh One Three. So nice to meet you, Two Oh One Four.

I've been thinking about how to wrap things up here on Cookie's Chronicles for the year. As you all know by now, I am currently undergoing treatment for Lyme Disease. I have good days and bad days and days that are not so bad but that are still challenging. For example, today I am able to clean floors and dust, but it hurts to look at a computer screen. Still, I want to usher out this year and welcome the new year with a little something celebratory. After all, it's been quite a year and despite the challenges I have so much to be thankful for!

I see that some of my bloggy friends are writing question and answer lists to reflect on the year and set the stage for 2014. I like this idea. I think I'll add to it and send a nod out to some other bloggers at the same time.

Bloggers, if you've been tagged at the end of this post it means that however busy, sick or preoccupied I have been this year, I have noticed you. I appreciate you, your blog, your support, and your friendship. (If I haven't listed you, please forgive me! Blame my foggy brain. I want to hear from you too!!) Please participate only if you want to and have the time. I know how precious time is and I would rather you spend it on your personal priorities. If there's time, I'd love to hear your answers to these questions or any others you choose to reflect on.

Some of these questions are inspired by this post by Jen Ann Hall at I'm Dancing in the Rain. I'll keep it short(ish) and sweet.

Reflections on 2013:

What are you most grateful for this year? I am grateful for so many things, including my amazing friends and family. Honestly, the thing I am most grateful for this past year is my own inner strength, and whatever well that comes from. Without it, the outcome would have been something very different. The results of the past year give me hope and renewed strength to go at it again in 2014.

What did you learn about yourself this year? Lots! I learned that I am capable of just about anything and that accomplishment and fulfilment come in many forms. I have learned to be patient and to be grateful for small successes and that the satisfaction in this is far greater than waiting until I arrive at some larger achievement.

Did you try anything for the first time this year? I tried out my stand mixer for the first time. That was more exciting than it probably ought to have been. I also tried to go a whole day without potato chips once this year. Not pretty.

Did you choose a word to focus on for 2013? How did that word influence you this year? No, I was on  sabbatical at the beginning of the year, but I did choose one for 2012 that I have continued to reflect on. It was REJOICE. When dealing with a chronic illness or any sort of constant hardship, it's easy to get bogged down in the dull, depressing details. This word reminds me to include joy in my daily routine, and to take things less seriously. In fact, I have so assimilated this word that I look for joy in just about every moment. I almost always find it. How awesome is that?

Did you travel this year? Where to? Oh yes! Hubs and I had a fabulous trip to Hawaii early in the year while the grandparents looked after our son. We both so needed that break. What a beautiful paradise that part of the world is. I was also fortunate enough to spend a weekend in Montreal with my sister where we connected with old friends. We also spent a weekend at Disney with the little guy - a consolation for not being able to come with us to Hawaii. That was very fun and very, very exhausting! Someone remind me the next time I decided to travel somewhere for just three days that it is not the best idea!

Did you have a favourite song or songs this year? I got pretty hooked on Royals by Lorde. Still loving it, actually.

Did you learn anything new or pick up a new hobby? I did just recently acquire a pretty lucrative new skill known as Rainbow Looming. ;) Anyone else? I think this may be the toy of the year around here.

I also learned how to make all sorts of treats and staples gluten-, dairy- and sugar-free this year. Major accomplishment that helps with that whole rejoice thing!

Did you discover any new good eats this year? I have gone through such madness around food this year. Our diet restrictions are incredibly tough to manage at times. In the process, however, we have become even healthier eaters and I have learned new baking and cooking skills. We eat such good food at home now that it's often a disappointment to eat out. (Having said that, I rarely complain when I have an opportunity to not cook.)

What about books? Well, you know how I love books. I love books like some women love shoes! I read a lot of books this past year that I wish I had talked about on my book blog, but time and priorities - like reading - kept me from it. Best book of the year? Probably The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce simply because it was very well written and met me where I am right now. I highly recommend it.

What was you favourite movie of 2013? I'm going to go with Star Trek Into Darkness. Stellar cast and direction. High action and drama. Oh, and did I mention the cast? Chris Pine (yum), Benedict Cumberbatch, Simon Pegg!!!

Predictions for 2014:

How will you / did you celebrate New Year's Eve? By taking some time to reflect on what I have to be grateful for, and all that I have survived and accomplished this past year. I will kiss my two favourite boys goodnight and fall asleep long before most of the city does, tucked cozily in bed next to the love of my life.

Will you do anything differently in 2014? Resolutions? Goals? This year, I resolve to be more patient with myself. Also, writing is going to be a large part of my life. For years I have resolved to try to do more writing. In 2014, there is no more try. I am a writer.

Have you chosen one word for 2014? What is it? I have and it is REST. There are many things that I want to begin in 2014, but above all else I want to heal. When I am tired and ill and am trying to decide what I should do, this word will remind me that there is just this one thing that I need: rest.

Any travel plans for the new year? No plans yet. This is a treatment year - part of the reason we travelled so much last year - but Jeff's mom and step-dad gave us an amazing gift: funds to make a special trip and the promise of childcare while we are gone. Our trip to Hawaii last year, just the two of us, was such a retreat. I look forward to this next trip when I'm well enough to travel again. April? May? June? We'll see. So fun to have something to dream about!

Will you take a course or learn anything new this year? I thought about a number of writing courses, but have landed on self-directed learning. I bought a few writing books, and ultimately plan to just do the work to hone my writing skills. So, yes, lots of learning! Very, very excited!

Well, that was fun! I am so glad that I returned to blogging this year. Thanks to you, my readers and friends for your understanding and patience and for your support.

Here's to a restorative and lovely 2014! All the best to you and yours.


And now to tag some of my bestie bloggers! If you're not already following these lovely ladies, pay them a visit and you'll know why I heart them.

Jen of I'm Dancing in the Rain
Bruna of Bees With Honey
Bianca of Bits of Bee
Deborah of The Monster in Your Closet
Amanda of Lilahbility
Lisa of Schwartz Chronicles
Robin of Farewell Stranger
Nadia of Mama and the City
Beth of Far From Camelot
Christine of The Aums
Theresa of A Mountain Momma
Barbara of Footprints in the Sand
Greta of Time out for Mom

Monday, December 09, 2013

Gluten-free, Dairy-free Chai Spice Cookies

Here is another recipe reworked for those who can't have gluten or dairy. I recently attended an Epicure party and fell in love with the Chai Spice. I knew right away that I wanted to use it to make cookies. My six-year-old loves these cookies without the powdered sugar coating.

Gluten-free, Dairy-free Chai Spice Cookies
Adapted from this recipe for Chai-Spice Cookies

Prep time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 15 minutes
Yield: ~ 36 teaspoon-sized cookies

These cookies contain:

vegan butter (oils of palm fruit, canola, olive, soy, flax), coconut palm sugar, gluten-free flour blend (brown rice, tapioca, arrowroot and sorghum flours, xanthan gum), soy, spices and salt

These cookies do not contain: 
gluten, dairy, or white/brown processed sugar (unless coated in powdered sugar)


  • Preheat oven to 350°F
  • Beat vegan butter with coconut palm sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl or mixer until well blended. Stir in the gluten-free flour blend, chai spice and salt until just combined.
  • Scoop and roll dough into small teaspoon-sized balls and place about an inch apart on two large baking sheets lined with parchment paper or silicone mats. Bake until lightly golden, approximately 15 minutes. Do not overcook or they will be too dry.
  • If desired, roll warm cookies in powdered sugar. Let cookies cool completely on a rack.
  • Store in an airtight container. These cookies freeze well.

Admittedly, these cookies do taste best rolled in powdered sugar, but I love them without as well. They would work just as well with Xylitol instead of coconut palm sugar if an even lower-glycemic sugar substitute is desired (click here to view the glycemic indexes of various sweeteners).

I hope you enjoy these lightly sweetened, deliciously spicy cookies. I'm having one with peppermint tea right now!


I'm linked up with:

Thursday, December 05, 2013

How do you feel when you have to write something?

Here were are on the 5th day of my December daily writing challenge. So, how has my writing been going, you ask? Well... pretty well.

It was challenging early this week because I didn't have as much time as I thought I would. We've had blizzard conditions here and a lot of snowfall, so kiddo was home from school for two days. I LOVED having him here with me - now that he is in grade one I really miss him during the day and he's so tired by the end of his day that it's not the highest quality bonding time. That change to my plans though meant that my writing was pretty distracted. I couldn't get into 'the zone'.

I've been posting my daily challenges on my Facebook page and on Twitter. Have you been following along? I want to talk about today's challenge. I found this exercise to be pretty effective at working through some things that have been on my mind anyway.

December Daily #Writing Challenge - Day 5: "How do you feel when you have to write something? You can answer this question in general, or you can think of a specific writing project you must produce." Once done, "ask yourself: What did I learn from this exercise?" (Source: How to be a Writer, Building Your Creative Skills Through Practice and Play ~ Barbara Baig)

My tendency is to resist writing exercises that feel like... well... exercises. I hear the words writing and any kind of structure - write about xxx for xx minutes - and my body utters a visceral "ugh".

Once I begin writing, I am most always pleased with the result. It seems a lot like going to the gym, a different type of exercise. It is work, not play, not down time, not 'me' time... at least this is not how I tend to think of it. Yet I know that once I get to the gym, most days I am glad I went. There is the direct benefit of physical exercise as a reward, but more importantly the reward of a feeling of perseverance and increasing fortitude.

The more often and the more regularly I go to the gym, the easier the physical exercise becomes and the more benefit I get from it. Writing must be like this. The more I write and the more regularly I write, the easier the process will become and the greater the benefit. My skills will improve, confidence will improve, and the final product will, hopefully, improve.

It occurs to me that we tend to think that if we have found something that we love to do or that fulfills us, it should always be effortless. For various reasons, even what we love to do can feel like work. It is work, but that fact does not have to make it unenjoyable.

Procrastination is all about that feeling. If we see a task as stressful or not pleasurable, we will often postpone it in favour of things we would rather be doing. If we love to write, then why do we procrastinate when it comes to a writing challenge? It's all in how we see the challenge. If we see it as something negative, a "have to", then we are dragging ourselves to the desk to complete it rather than simply sitting down to do what we love. We are struggling with how to begin it instead of just beginning to write.

When you have a chronic illness, as I do, everything can feel like work. There's a lot of self-talk required to brush away the negativity that comes with pain and fatigue and a sense that the day will be a difficult one. I can't accomplish what I used to in a day. I need to make choices. We all do. The fact is that if everything is work, why shouldn't we choose to work hard at something that satiates us. If I love to write, then I ought to choose to do that work and allow myself to enjoy it.

I do enjoy it. Perhaps not as much today as on another day, but here I am doing the work anyway. Last night I hardly slept, but my son had a bus to catch and I always like to send him off to school in good spirits. It's -24°C outside. I am now freezing cold after the walk and wait for the bus. Just as soon as my electric blanket has had a chance to warm my bed, I'll be back in it. Not the day I had planned and lots of other 'have tos' are going to have to wait, BUT I did manage to write! I didn't think I'd be able to articulate much today, but I did write something. Is this the best job I could do with this topic? No. But it's good enough, AND I've left some room for improvement. :)

I hope that whatever you love to do, you will do it often and regularly so that it seems less like work - though it will sometimes require hard work - and more like the fulfillment of a life that is uniquely yours.


Sunday, December 01, 2013

Everyone else is doing it.
Why shouldn't I?

I'm talking monthly challenges. Have you done this? It involves picking one thing to focus on each day for a whole month. It's a commitment, but it's a short-term commitment. Anyone can do anything for 30 days, right?

Some people choose exercise or diet. I'm saving those for the new year...

For the month of December, I am going to write every day.

That's SO last month, you say. Well, yes, November was NaNoWriMo, and everyone else just got finished trying to write a novel in a month. I'm not doing that. Someday, maybe even next year. For now, I just want to make daily writing a part of my practice.

This month, I am going to simply commit to writing something every day that isn't about blogging.

I'll share some prompts on my Facebook Page and on Twitter, so follow along if you're like me and you're looking for inspiration.

Wish me luck!

What will you commit to this month?


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Stock Your Freezer:
Nine Meals Under $3.00 Per Person!

This past Sunday, a friend came over and we worked hard for five hours to make this:

Well, in fact, we made more than what you see in this picture. This is just my half of what we made (and there's one chicken dish missing... 'cause we ate it right away)!

That's nine meals prepped for my freezer at a cost of $2.20 per person. Nine meals that, even with the addition of one or two side dishes and/or pasta, cost under $3.00 per person. Note that many ingredients, such as the tomatoes and chicken, were organic, so that's an amazing cost. The cost would have gone down even further if I had planned meals around sale items. Here's what I put in my freezer:

2 x Lemon chicken with carrots and olives (one not frozen because we ate it right away)
1 x Pepper-lime chicken
2 x Adzuki bean and yam burgers
2 x Tomato sauce
2 x Tomato sauce with meatballs that I prepped the day before (plus one more small batch of tomato sauce with meatballs just for mama... I'm dreaming of a delicious submarine sandwich...)

We also had some leftover boiled and mashed yam. I froze mine in one cup portions that I will use in muffins. We also made some mashed potato mounds that can simply be heated up to pair with a steak or one of the chicken dishes. We also had a couple of baked potatoes left over that can be defrosted, sliced and fried to accompany a nice weekend breakfast or breakfast for dinner on a busy night.

I have to say, this is really the way to go. I had a nice visit with a friend, we both stocked our freezers with a couple of weeks worth of meals and sides, we saved money and we freed up some time in the future. Having these meals ready to go means not having to spend an hour in the kitchen at the end of a long day. Yes, prep day was long and tiring, but it was just half of one day. It was also cheaper to prepare the food all at once - one trip to the store and no waste when you realize a meal you planned to make but had no time for has been in the fridge too long and needs to be thrown out. There is some work to do ahead of time to choose recipes, decide how many batches you will make, create the grocery list, buy the groceries and prep some of the food. For example, I boiled and mashed the yams the day ahead and my friend cooked the beans ahead of time. To me, it was totally worth it to not have to ask or answer the question, "What's for dinner?" for at least a couple of weeks!

You can find the recipe for the Roasted Chicken And Carrots With Olives And Lemons here:

Happy cooking!


I'm linked up with:

Saturday, November 02, 2013

HELP Lyme Disease Patients Receive Proper Diagnosis and Treatment
SUPPORT Elizabeth May's Private Member Bill C-442

Canadians, please support Elizabeth May's Private Member Bill C-442 and help Lyme Disease patients to receive diagnosis and treatment.

Will you please sign a petition that, if passed, will result in a conference between ministers, medical professionals and patients to develop "a national strategy to ensure the recognition, timely diagnosis, and effective treatment of Lyme disease" in our Country? Currently we follow the American guidelines that do not adequately diagnose and treat this treatable disease while patients suffer more and more disability. If you are able to get additional signatures from friends, relatives and people where you work that would be helpful, but please know that even if you can only send in your own signature it will help. There is no charge for postage (mailing instructions are at the bottom of the petition). The cost to you is time, the cost to print the petition, and an envelope. The reward, in addition to my gratitude, is immeasurable in terms of the number of people that may be helped in the future, including perhaps even someone you know and love. This is something that would need to be done fairly soon. The bill is fourth in line to be presented at the House of Commons. It may be presented sometime this month, and perhaps even by mid-November. Thank-you so, so much!

Note that only signatures on paper count. Online signatures are a show of support only and are not counted as a petition signature.

Click on the following link to access and print the petition. Instructions can be found at the end of the petition. http://elizabethmaymp.ca/wp-content/uploads/bill-c-442-lyme-disease-petition.pdf

Lyme Disease Rally, May 2013, Victoria, BC Canada - Avery's speech from Graham Goertzen on Vimeo.

For more information on Lyme Disease, visit CanLyme.

Also see CBC's The Nature of Things documentary on Lyme Disease in Canada, Ticked Off: The Nature of Things.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Ten Ways to Say, "I love you"

Monday Listicles (a little late)

I've been spending more time lately sharing what's going on in our world since being diagnosed with Lyme Disease. There's a lot to manage and I want to share this aspect of our lives as honestly as I can, but I also want to provide hope and optimism and a bit of cheer. To that end, I'm participating in a really fun link up that I have not been a part of for quite a while. I sure have missed trading lists with the listicle owner and her band of listicle makers!

I'm linking up with NorthWest Mommy's Monday Listicles, because it's never too late to say, "I love you" (even if it is... ahem... Thursday).

Sometimes, in the midst of my own struggle, I forget to acknowledge the small things that my husband does to make life a little easier for me. I even become frustrated when he forgets or seems to neglect to do certain things. To do so, at times, he would need to read my mind. The truth is, that despite not always knowing how to help, he ALWAYS tries, and the one thing I never question is his love for me.

This list is inspired by my husband and just one way that I can say, "I love you", back.


1. When your partner is broken and nothing you say seems to help, help anyway. Even if it's the 'wrong' thing to do, do it anyway.

2. Her feet are almost always cold. Warm up the foot of her bed and warm her feet with your hands as she prepares to sleep. She won't ask you to do this. Do it anyway.

3. When she collapses onto your lap, massage her aching back, shoulders and neck. Run your fingers through her hair. She seems to really like this.

4. When she hasn't the strength to take care of herself, don't nag or remind her. She has the list memorized. Instead, do it for her.

5. Pour her the warm bath you know she needs and offer your hand to lead her there. Turn on her favourite classical music and set her books at the side of the tub. Blow her a kiss and close the door.

6. Do the things that you always do even if no one else notices or says thank-you. Mow the lawn. Take out the garbage. Check the mail. Pay the bills. Do these things and expect nothing in return, for you do them out of love and love is its own reward.

7. Text her when you are out to see if there is anything she needs. Chances are she has a grocery list or drug store list and no interest in leaving the house to fill it. Do it for her.

8. When she is too tired to care what's for dinner, and though you have just arrived home from work and are tired yourself, make something you know she will enjoy. Do this day after day after day during the difficult times, until one day she can cook a meal. When she does, express your gratitude for something most husbands would take for granted.

9. When she feels guilt and worthlessness despite having every reason to feel the way that she does, remind her of all of the good that she does. And when she argues with you and refuses to give herself credit, remind her again.

10. When your partner is exhausted and overburdened by life's demands and has nothing left to give you in return for all that you do, love her all the same, for your love for her is unconditional and you would have it no other way.

My husband is pretty great, isn't he? People sometimes ask me how I do it. How do I keep on keeping on, despite my family's challenges, and with such a positive outlook? Well, I work hard at it, but no one is perfect. No one is up all of the time and when I'm down, my husband picks up the pieces and carries them for me until I am ready to carry them again on my own. He seriously rocks!

I love you too, honey. Thank-you for all that you do.


The View From Here: Guest Posting at I'm Dancing in the Rain

Finding Joy on an Unpaved Road

Today, I'm guest blogging at I'm Dancing in the Rain (formerly Just Jennifer). Jennifer has a moving new series called The View From Here, which hosts a new blogger each Thursday. Bloggers share their perspective in their own voice from where they are in their journey.

(click the title to access my guest post)

Today, I open up about my experience as a mother of a child with Lyme Disease, while I myself am struggling with Lyme Disease and several other autoimmune disorders. I hope you will visit Jennifer's blog and share your thoughts with me. I know that I am not alone in this struggle, that many other moms have children with chronic illness and other special needs while struggling in their own ways to survive. I am sharing this piece of myself in the hopes that you will know that you are not alone, that you can share your story too, and that there is healing and hope and even happiness even in the midst of the struggle.

Click here to access my post.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

HypoAllergenic Cooking: Homemade Sub Saves the Day!

If your a mom of a kid with allergies, you will understand why today was a big day for us.

Jack's school had another "special lunch day". While most parents might welcome the opportunity to pay a few bucks and order a meal for little Jimmy that they don't have to prepare or pack, for those of us with kids with allergies, it's a recurring nightmare.

I get that our schools want to treat our kids and to provide what they feel is healthy food, but what if it's not only not healthy for your child it could make him sick or even kill him? It's tough to get excited about a special lunch day that your child can't participate in. Will he feel left out? Will he be made fun of?

If you are the mom of the child who can't have that special treat, you know that you will do almost anything to make it up to your child, however irrational that behaviour might be.

Would you like a pony, honey?

Perhaps that's overkill.

You will at the very least make your child, from scratch if necessary, something that is as similar as possible to what the other kids are eating. If it's going to be different than it helps if it is also better.

Today was special lunch day at Jack's school. The caterer? Subway. Does subway have a gluten-free sub bun? Oh, no. Can you buy a gluten-free sub bun anywhere on the planet? I have yet to see one.

So, what do you do? That's right. You make one from scratch. And then you toast it just so, pile turkey slices on it and bacon (no else's will have bacon on it) and all sorts of lovely veggies, hold the dairy. Next you put it in a special container (no one else has a special container)...

and it is a beautiful thing to behold:

I made two sub buns so that I could have one of these gorgeous sandwiches today too! 

The recipe that I used for the sub buns is a hamburger bun recipe from a Donna Washburn cookbook called The Gluten-Free Baking Book. If you are new to gluten-free baking, pick up one of her books. Every one of her recipes just works, which is not the case for all gluten-free recipes. I have been using this recipe for a couple of years now. I made substitutions to remove dairy and sugar. The adapted recipe is below.

I used this perforated bun form which I ordered from the Canadian Celiac Assocation. This type of pan helps release moisture so that baked goods are not soggy on the bottom. I doubled the recipe to make two hamburger buns, two hot dog buns and two sub buns. 

Sadly, The CCA no longer sells this pan. If you see it anywhere, please let me know as I would love to buy another one! I have seen similar pans for baking just one type of bun that would also work well.

When Jack came home from school today, I asked him how he enjoyed his sub. He said it was DElicious! He went on and on about how good it was, and I had to fight back the tears of joy. If you have a kid with allergies, you get this. A successful meal is a big deal!

Bon appétit!

Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Sugar-free Buns
(great for hamburger, hot dog and sub buns)
Adapted from the Hamburger Bun recipe by Donna Washburn
The Gluten-Free Baking Book: 250 Small-Batch Recipes for Everything from Brownies to Cheesecake
page 99

My changes and notes are in italics below.

If using a perforated non-stick pan like the one above, no pre-greasing is necessary. Otherwise, lightly grease a pan large enough for 4 hamburger buns, or 4 hot dog buns, or 2 sub buns. (Double this recipe to fill the form pictured above to make 2 hot dog buns, 2 hamburger buns and 2 sub buns.)


1 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup potato starch
1/4 cup tapioca starch
2 tbsp Xylitol (or preferred 1:1 granulated sugar replacement)
2½ tsp xanthan gum
1 tbsp bread machine or instant yeast
1 tsp salt
1 large egg *
1 large egg white *
2/3 cups non-dairy milk (rice milk works well)
2 tbsp vegetable oil (I use cold-pressed olive oil)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar

* For vegan diets, substitute 1½ tbsp ground flax seed + 4½ tbsp water


  1. In a bowl or plastic bag, combine brown rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, sugar-substitute, xanthan gum, yeast and salt. Mix well and set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, using a heavy-duty electric mixer with paddle attachment, combine egg and egg white (or flax seed-water mixture for vegan buns), non-dairy milk, oil and vinegar until well blended. With the mixer on its lowest speed, slowly add the dry ingredients until combined. Stop the machine and scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. With the mixer on medium speed, beat for 1 minute or until smooth.
  3. Spoon dough into prepared cups of pan, dividing evenly. Flatten tops slightly. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 45-60 minutes or until dough has almost doubled in volume. [If desired, sprinkle the tops of the buns with sesame seeds before the dough rises.] Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
  4. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until internal temperature of buns registers  200°F (100°C) on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from the pan immediately and let cool completely on a rack.

Doubles and freezes nicely.

Note: This is a sticky dough. It is difficult to press into moulds, BUT the result is really worth it, and if you make a point of exaggerating how challenging it is to mould the dough, your sweet child (spouse, significant other, etc) may make you a special treat to thank-you for your efforts. Mine was sliced apples and segments of mandarin orange. :)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Happy Hallowe'en: Don't be mad. It's just cute fruit!

I read a blog post this morning that inspired me to write this one. The author, a guest poster on Scary Mommy's blog named Marnie, claims to be "Taking Back Halloween" from "curmudgeons" who, according to her, want to ruin her holidays.  Do you know how these "hate mongers" do it? By providing Hallowe'en themed fruit and TREAT-sized treats. GASP!!! The horror of it!

I mean, just look at these clementine pumpkins and banana ghosts! What sick twisted child-hating parent would force these on your child?

I am so totally making these! 
Find lots of other fun & healthy 
Hallowe'en treat ideas at 

Good Lord, what's next? Diet candy??? Actually, these lollipops made with Xylitol are really good, and suitable for diabetics. 

The author is fed up, it seems, by articles that suggest healthier or diet-based holidays. She's so fed up that she and her kids are not only going to eat processed candy at Hallowe'en, they're going to gorge themselves on it. And she's taking her kids to "where the rich people live", because this apparently means they will get "the whole effing candy bar". She's also going to egg the houses that give them "some sort of homemade shit or raisins". 

Alright, Marnie might be exaggerating for comedic effect - surely she's not really so ungrateful a person that she would vandalize the house of someone who spent time and money on a treat that they thought she and her kids would enjoy. Marnie just wants what she wants. Fair enough.

I want what I want to, and at the root of it all Marnie and I probably want the same basic thing. We want our kids to be happy. She believes that super sized candy bars will make her kids happy. Me? I want my kid to have fun on Hallowe'en too. I want him to have 'treats'. But I also want him to live a long, healthy, disease-free, pain-free life, and that means no super sized candy bars for him.

You know what's possibly worse than having to put up with people who make fancy Hallowe'en decorations out of fruit? It's having a child who can't eat anything else.

I hope that people don't assume that if I bring clementine pumpkins to my son's Hallowe'en celebration at school (which the kids would LOVE), it's because I want to dictate what other people should be eating or because I think anyone needs to go on a diet. I do these things so that my child can not only participate in the fun, but feel like he contributed - so that he can feel normal.

If you have any kind of allergy or diet restriction, you know what it's like to look down a buffet table and see that the only thing that is safe to eat is a vegetable or piece of fruit. I'm a grown up. I can deal with that sort of thing.

Now imagine you're a six-year-old boy and you have to watch every other kid eat whatever they want from that table. Sad, right? I think so too, so I make up for that any way I can, and that might just mean making ridiculously cute pumpkins and ghosts out of bananas and clementines.

What will I hand out at my house on Hallowe'en? Probably the same things I have handed out for years: bags of chips, lollipops and chocolate bars. Standard, treat-sized treats. We are not "rich people" and even if we were, I wouldn't feel the need to give out huge bars of candy just to win some other mom's approval. I have seen the articles suggesting handing out healthier Hallowe'en treats, and I've considered it, but for now I'm giving the people what they seem to want, in treat-sized portions.

And what about my son? Even if you don't have anyone in your family with diet restrictions of any kind, you can probably imagine what trick-or-treating can be like for a kid with multiple allergies. My son can not have gluten, dairy or sugar. Sugar! Can you imagine a Hallowe'en without it? Well, I can. I have to, because I want the same thing Jill wants. I want my child to be happy.

We could choose not to participate, of course, but, at least for now, he enjoys dressing up and going door to door. He collects candy, brings it home and I trade him for it (and donate the candy to someone who will love it). He can choose coins, safe treats (like those Xylitol pops I mentioned earlier), a mystery (dollar store) 'prize' from a Hallowe'en themed canvas bag, and so on. This way, the whole experience is fun for him.

All I ask is a little tolerance and understanding. Not everyone who offers a healthy Hallowe'en treat is out to ruin another kid's holiday. I think it's safe to say that almost no one is concerned with ruining anyone else's holiday. Most of us have the best of intentions and if I have a wish it is that people assume this to be true.

I hope you all have a safe and very happy Hallowe'en!


Thursday, October 17, 2013

HypoAllergenic Cooking: Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Spaghetti Pizza Pie

I recently stumbled across this recipe for Spaghetti Pepperoni Pie and thought, I can easily convert this recipe and make a delicious gluten-free, dairy-free one pan meal for the family... so I did!

Doesn't this look yummy?

Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Spaghetti Pizza Pie
(adapted from this recipe for Spaghetti Pepperoni Pie)

Total Preparation Time: 1 hour 
Actual Cooking Time: 40 minutes
Number of Servings: 6-8
Special Features: Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Sugar-Free (unless an ingredient in packaged breadcrumbs or bottled pasta sauce)


1/2 pound gluten-free spaghetti, broken into thirds
1/3 cup gluten-free breadcrumbs (I used Kinnikinnick Panko Style Breadcrumbs)
1 Tbsp gluten-free italian seasoning (see my recipe below)
1 tsp salt
2 cups pasta sauce
1 cup Daiya Mozzarella Style Shreds
4 ounces gluten-free sliced pepperoni or salami, chopped
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 Tbsp grated Parmesan (some people are okay with Parmesan because it has little or no lactose, but if dairy is a problem for other reasons, substitute Daiya shreds or use ~ 2 tsp salt)


1. In large saucepan of lightly salted boiling water, cook spaghetti 1 minute less than directed on package. Drain.
2. Mix breadcrumbs with italian seasoning and salt. Set aside.
3. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat 10-inch nonstick skillet with nonstick cooking spray. If skillet handle is not ovenproof, wrap with aluminum foil. Coat with crumbs.
4. In bowl, combine cooked spaghetti, pasta sauce, Daiya mozzarella style shreds and pepperoni or salami. Stir in beaten eggs. Spoon mixture into prepared skillet.
5. Bake in 350 degree F oven for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan, Daiya shreds or salt. Bake until cheese is golden brown or for about 10 minutes more. Let cool 10 minutes. Cut into 6-8 wedges. Serve with cut up fruit or a light green salad.

Easy peasy, right? Even my picky six-year-old liked it!

If you don't have or don't want to use pre-packaged italian seasoning mix, here are the ingredients for my homemade version. Just mix all the ingredients together and store in a spice jar or sterilized baby food jar in a cool, dark place. It should last for at least 6 months.

Italian Seasoning Mix

3 Tbsp dried basil
3T dried oregano
3T dried parsley
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

Bon appétit!

I'm linked up with:

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Response to "Is True Happiness Possible Without Gluten?" by Jeffrey Steingarten, Vogue Magazine, September 27, 2013

In the article, "Is True Happiness Possible Without Gluten?", the author outlines his views on gluten and those who avoid eating it. It's worth a read since it represents views I have heard expressed by others. A caution though: If you have any sort of food intolerance or dietary restrictions (particularly gluten or lactose), it may irritate you at least as much as the author is irritated by those who avoid gluten.

Here is my response to the author of this article:

That last phrase, "who am I to judge?", is interesting and exactly what I kept wondering the entire time I read your article, Jeffrey. Who are you to make such bold and ill-informed statements about both gluten intolerance (as well as lactose intolerance) and gluten-free food? I had to 'Google' you to learn that you are the Vogue food critic and have been for some time. I assume that is why you feel you are in a position to judge such things as the eating habits, preferences and dietary requirements of others. The last phrase is interesting because you do nothing BUT judge those who choose not to consume gluten for whatever reason. 
The article was well-written, yet, despite your attempts, not well enough researched. You have not sampled enough gluten-free food to state that, "If you can’t eat gluten, then you can’t eat" the excessively lengthy list of food items you provided. That's simply not true. I have eaten and prepared extremely tasty gluten-free versions of most if not all of the things you listed. While you did as good a job as most people - which does not say much - of describing celiac disease and it's relationship to gluten, you make it clear that you are not well-informed about the seriousness of either lactose intolerance or gluten intolerance. 
I'm not going to go into the data that supports the avoidance of gluten for a very large group of people with ailments outside of the two you acknowledge (celiac disease and IBS). These are things you should have investigated prior to writing this article, but it is clear why you did not. It is clear that you did not intend to present an informed investigative report. Your intention was to complain about a group of people that irritate you. 
You finally - after doing much damage by labelling anyone who avoids gluten (and does not meet your narrow criteria) "food phobics" - acknowledge that the science does not agree with your view. Yet, you go on to include yet another population of people who may fake being gluten intolerant and close your article on that note as if to lend support to your close-minded view that gluten is good, healthy and even holy (unbelievable), while gluten avoiders are nothing but a bunch of annoying posers (excepting, of course, the population to whom you so graciously offered your respect - those with celiac disease). 
This is a witty article, and if I too was easily annoyed by other people's dietary choices I might have found parts of it amusing. 
In answer to the question posed by your article's title, "Is True Happiness Possible Without Gluten?", I suggest that for you the answer is clearly a resounding, No. You are not, however, in a position to judge (as you yourself acknowledge in your last phrase) whether this is true for others. A better title for this article would have been, "Why I people who don't eat gluten annoy me."

What do you think?
Should the author have done a little more research?  
Do you agree with me that he ought to live and let live? 
Do you agree with the author? 
Is anyone else hungry after all of this food talk?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Healing with kindness and giggles

I have a confession to make. I am not strong. Not always. Not as strong as people think I am.

A friend recently said about me, "The author of this blog is one of the strongest and bravest people I know. I am proud to call her a friend." I was awed by the fact that she had gone to the trouble of sharing that sentiment and it was incredibly helpful to me on a day when it was all I could do to feed myself and my son. It reminded me that little things, a few kind words, can make a huge difference to someone. Thank-you friend.

That was a week ago, and despite being home with a sick child and feeling under the weather myself, I was coping. I was keeping it together. But then, last night happened. Despite being exhausted, I couldn't sleep: feet too cold, head too foggy and dizzy, body aching from head to toe, worst-case scenario thoughts about the future racing through my mind...

I gave up and got up. I cried. A lot. I was too tired and sad to journal about what I was feeling even though I knew that would be most effective. I opened my computer and desperately hoped that someone was on Facebook at 2:30 am. I needed to talk. I needed help. No one was online, so I did other things - anything - to take my mind off my dark thoughts. I retweeted some great stuff on Twitter. I pinned and scooped some intriguing articles. Eventually, at 4 am, I attempted again to sleep and got maybe 2 hours. 

I missed seeing my son off to school this morning for the first time ever. Not the end of the world, but on top of my deeply depressed mood it was the straw that broke the camel's back. My husband was around then and I thank the universe for him. It's not that he helped me work through the emotions or the negative thoughts - that's no so much his forté - but he got me to laugh. He helped me to not take things so seriously, and like my generous friend with her kind words he reminded me of all the good that I do.

And then I saw this video, and all was right again with the world:

It's funny, because it's true and it's ridiculous. This really is what we sometimes sound like - especially we Twittery bloggers.

Seeing the humour in things and taking things lightly has immense healing power.

Thank-you to my friend for her kind words. Thank-you to my husband for being my rock. 

And thank-you to Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake. Without your special man-friend creative union, this world would be a much darker place.





Until next time,


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Last night I had the strangest dream...

Prepare to be disgusted.

I had a disturbing dream last night.

I had... lice. Yes, okay, I said lice. (Cue the shudders and groans.)

Jack came home from school with lice last year and it still creeps me out! I have a lot of hair and the thought of it being overtaken by a blood-sucking parasite has haunted me since then.

As the bugs fell from my hair into the sink, they grew to be about the size of rats! I grabbed the closest thing to me, a spray bottle of something. As I sprayed each one, it got smaller and eventually disappeared, but there seemed to be no end to them. It felt like I was at the centre of some perpetual twisted carnival game akin to whack-a-mole... spritz-a-louse.

Jack woke me up just then, crying because his throat was sore from a terrible cough. I felt bad for him - I had that pit in the stomach a parent gets when their child is in pain coupled with the understanding that I would be next and that whatever plans I had for the next few days would have to be changed - while at the same time I was grateful to be done with the lice. Mercifully, I had no time to ponder the dream, immersing myself in his care.

Yet hours later the dream returned to me. I wondered what Freud would think of it! Then it dawned on me, and I knew what my fellow "Lymies" would say. (Remind me to come up with a better name for those dealing with Lyme Disease. To be discussed...) Clearly the external parasites of my dream are a symbol of the internal parasites of my reality.

When people ask me about Lyme Disease - if I will be well again - I tell them what I know, which is little. I know that treatment will be difficult at times, that I will likely feel worse before I feel better as the parasites (Borrelia Burgdorferi and his friends) launch counter-attacks, and that with luck the parasites will all but disappear. I say it that way, because I imagine that they are now a permanent part of who I am, since I have likely had them for roughly three decades. It may be impossible to completely eradicate them, and perhaps this is not the best way to envisage the healing process, in any case.

I am torn at times between feeling like I am in a fight for my life, and recognizing that parasites are a very real and necessary part of life. (Witness this recent reflection of my inner turmoil!) For now, I am treating the parasites - they at least need to be managed, if not destroyed - and improving the host by such therapeutic means as yoga, meditation, journalling and so on.

The dream was a bit of an epiphany in a way. It helped me to realize that fighting this thing called Lyme Disease is probably futile. Better, perhaps, to think of achieving a mutually beneficial symbiosis with the organisms that now call me home.

Still... I don't know about you, but I can't stop itching!

Until next time,


"With every rising of the sun think of your life as just begun." 
~ Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Guest Post:
"Caught in the Act"
by Borrelia Burgdorferi

Today I bring you a guest post from an entity I have known about for some time but have only recently been introduced to, not a friend so much as an uninvited guest.

Be sure to read my comments and links following his post.

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"Caught in the Act"
by Borrelia Burgdorferi

I've been found out.

I managed to escape detection for years, being called things like chronic fatigue and MS. Please! As if MS could do what I do. Sometimes they told her I was nothing at all, or all in her head. But she persisted. Slow and arduous as her mission has been, she has not let up! And now I've been caught in the act.

Way back when I first infected her, doctors tried to kill me with antibiotics. Oh, they had no idea I was even here, or why she was ill, but they tried anyway. When all of the antibiotics made her sick, they gave up, as doctors do, and told her she had mono - the virulent Epstein Barr.

Good old EB just looooves to take advantage of a weak immune system. I did that to her. In fact, I paved the way for a whole bunch of my viral buddies. Some of them may have even hitched a ride on the same tick I did: Babesia, Bartonella, Rickettsia - these guys are awesome! We're way stronger as a team. Alone I am just a spirochete, vulnerable to antibiotics and her immune system, but with them I create more disease and protect myself against her attempts to get rid of me!

My buddies and I, we exchange information all the time - bits of what my host calls DNA - and we learn how to defend ourselves against all kinds of attacks. The antibiotics give us information too. They make us stronger, or - here's another of her words that I love - resistant.

We are strong, but is she stronger? Only time will tell. If she thinks she can kill all of us, she'd better be in it for the long haul. I don't give up. Ever! And I only replicate once a day, so she's going to have to find me first!

I have to admit, she's worked hard to find and eradicate us. Another host might have given up long ago. She thinks her immune system is weak - that she is weak. Well, after all, that is what they have been telling her for three decades. But we are strong, and if she had been weak she might very well be dead by now or at least far worse off.

Of course, we like that she is strong, because if she dies we die too. I don't want to die. I wonder if we will reach an agreement. I have no need to be greedy. I'm happy with the current size of my army.

And anyway, I live beyond her. We became part of her DNA long ago and now we are in him too! Her son is strong like her, perhaps even stronger, but he must fight or we will lose him. He must stay alive so that he can pass us along to his wife and his children.

Well, now that we have him, maybe we don't need her... Then again, the more hosts we occupy, the better able we are to spread to new ones. Most people don't know that we can spread through breast milk, saliva and other secretions. Oh, yes! If we remain smart and stealthy, we are practically invincible!

Perhaps it is in our best interest to be a little quieter. She'll never go back to ignoring us. I can feel that change. But if we are just quiet enough, maybe she will let us be.

I don't want to die.


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Recently, I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease (not in Canada, but via a US diagnostic test), a tick-borne illness that if not treated immediately and completely can have chronic, damaging effects... to put it mildly. I have had suspicions for years, but since Canada does not have appropriate testing procedures in place to accurately diagnose Lyme and does not see Lyme Disease as the epidemic that it most certainly is, I have been led to believe that I did not have Lyme Disease until recently.

My five-year-old son also has Lyme Disease.

As you can imagine, this news has changed my focus dramatically. I have not blogged much these past many months, because I have been ill and because of shifting priorities. Last year, my son was given a diagnosis of Celiac Disease and I hoped that this was all he had. But a dark cloud of uncertainty has been hanging over us this past year as I wondered why he has not fully improved since adopting a gluten-free diet.

Since my focus has changed dramatically, so too will the focus of this blog. If you suffer from Celiac Disease; Chronic Fatigue; Lyme Disease; and/or other autoimmune disorders, syndromes or diseases, I hope to provide help for you here. I'll continue talking about parenting (the original inspiration for this blog) and my beautiful, joyful, talented young boy, as we navigate our way through this new world. I'll also never stop injecting humour into what I write, because if not for laughter I shudder to think where I would be.

I hope you will join me, as I turn now to an honest look into my life as a patient with Lyme Disease and a mother of a child with Lyme Disease. I am currently detoxing and preparing for Lyme Treatment, which I am told is like a living hell. I hope that it will be more than just that.

Once I have gone through some of the treatment phase and know what to expect, I will begin treating my son. I will share this experience with you when I can, as well as what I learn so that you can learn too, because there is so much mis-information out there about disease and wellness.

And there will be food! I am currently working on, when time and energy permit, some delicious gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar free recipes. Lyme Disease patients often have many food restrictions and little energy or interest in preparing food, understandably. I hope to bring some joy back into the kitchen.

I wish you great happiness, much love and relative good health! Until next time.


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Lyme Disease is making the headlines lately. Here is some of the latest news:

NOTE: Today and for the next three days, you can participate in a free online health and wellness event for Lyme Disease patients, featuring 12 speakers. Register at http://lymelesslivemore.com/live/. After the event, you may purchase these sessions.

For more information about Lyme Disease, check out these resources. I will spend more time on each of these resources in future posts, and will have many more resources to share, but I want you to have a place to start. When reading articles about Lyme Disease, be aware that there is much mis-information out there.

Under Our Skin, the movie (I highly recommend that everyone see this award-winning documentary. Don't miss the special features section, and particularly the segments featuring Dr. Alan MacDonald.)
Lyme Disease Association, Inc. (LDA) - U.S.
Alabama Lyme Disease Assocation
Lyme Disease Association of Alberta - LDAA
Lyme Disease Support
Cure Unknown, the book
Out Of The Woods, the book
Lyme Light Radio
Dr. Rebeca Risk, Lyme-literate doctor and patient

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Hello! It's been a while...

Testing, 1, 2...

Is this thing on?

Are you still there?

Well, if you are all still there, hello! I've missed you! Thanks for hanging out while I sorted through some stuff.

As you may recall, my son was diagnosed with celiac disease last year which means that he can have nothing with gluten in it (and I also discovered that I can not eat gluten). When I last wrote, I anticipated taking a few of months off to regroup. Well, that few months turned into just about a full year, and what a year it's been!

At the beginning of 2012, I chose one word to focus on:

That's been very hard to do, but taking time to rejoice was important to us and it's part of the reason why a few months became a year.

We had a lot of adjusting to do, some healing to do, and then took some extra time to just appreciate what we have. We have a lot to be grateful for, but it's easy to forget that when most of our time is spent worrying about and attending to health issues.

First the house had to be purged of anything containing gluten, except for the few items kept on one shelf in a small cupboard that my husband would eat.

Once the purging and disinfecting was done, the restocking began, and I started the process of learning how to bake and buy things that were both nutritious and tasty!

There was much time spent researching, talking to others, meeting with support groups and attending information sessions.

Still, we did find many ways to rejoice! It was important to me that my son's life not be too interrupted and that he feel as 'normal' as possible.

We are beginning to understand how to navigate the world as celiacs, and every month I discover a new resource. In July we attended our first Celiac Stampede Breakfast. Thank goodness for our local Celiac Association, or we would have missed out on this beloved tradition altogether.

In September, Jack started kindergarten. The school and his teacher are fantastic about caring for Jack and his dietary restrictions. There's a girl in Jack's class who also has celiac disease and the two of them are the best of friends! In fact, they've been overheard discussing plans for marriage. They are too cute!

While we were 'away', Jack also celebrated his fifth (WHAT?!) birthday at one of his favourite places on Earth, the Calgary Gymnastics Centre at the home of the 1988 Winter Olympics. Shortly after that, his paediatrician told us that he was back on track with his height and weight and looking healthy! Music to a mother's ears.

To those of you who have been 'around' during this past year, keeping in touch on Facebook and Twitter, thank-you SO much for your support.

I'm happy to be back and I'm looking forward to connecting with you all again!