Cold Weather, Hot Cocoa, Marshmallows, recipe

Recipe: Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix & Marshamallows

I don’t know about you, but hot cocoa is a pretty big staple of our family during the winter months. Although, I am on this paleo diet journey for my rheumatoid, I definitely plan on enjoying a few cups this fall and winter season! As a little girl growing up, I always looked forward to the holidays, when my Grandma Hess would make homemade cocoa mix for everyone. No matter what kind of winter holidays you celebrate, there is always so much love in a mug full of hot cocoa and marshmallows. So, today I am sharing our family recipe of homemade hot cocoa mix and marshmallows from our family to yours, to enjoy this holiday season!

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Hot Cocoa Mix

1 box of Nesquick chocolate mix (I get the no added sugar, to make it a little “healthier”)

1 container of French Vanilla Coffee Creamer (I use the sugar free again)

1 small box of dry instant milk

Dehydrated Marshmallows

Large Tupperware Bowl

Combine all the ingredients into the large bowl. Stir and mix well until everything is smooth and well combined. To make with the hot cocoa, mix about 2-3 heaping spoons full into hot water and stir well. Enjoy with homemade marshmallows!

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Homemade Marshmallows

2 Tbsp. Gelatin (I use beef, but you can use whatever kind you want)

8 Tbsp. Cold Water

2 cups Sugar

1/2 cup Cold Water

1/4 Tsp. Sea Salt

2 Tsp. Vanilla Extract (I use 1 Tbsp of the Watkins brand Vanilla just because my family loves vanilla! You can also use other flavorings like, coconut, peppermint, or mix flavors as well!)

Dust a 9X9 pan with powdered sugar and set aside. In a small bowl, soak gelatin in 8 tablespoons of cold water. Set aside. Combine sugar and 1/2 cup of water in heavy saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Add in gelatin and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and pour into a large mixing bowl (or your Kitchen Aid stand mixer, I LOVE my mixer!) Let cool partially. Add sea salt and vanilla extract. Beat with an electric mixer until soft and double in size, about 10-15 minutes (this is where the Kitchen Aid or stand mixers come in handy!). Pour into prepared pan to about 1/2 thick. Set to cool until it will not stick to your finger (I usually let mine cool for about an hour or so, just to be sure). Cut into 1.5 inch pieces and roll into powered sugar (toasted coconut can also be used instead or powdered sugar). Enjoy! These are so good, they go fast! You can enjoy them plain as well!

Culture, Feminism, Then and Now, What Happened

Feminism: Then & Now

If you haven’t already heard, there was a big controversy this week on a new video promoting feminism. (If you haven’t heard it, here is the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqHYzYn3WZw) I’ll warn you, it is very explicit, so turn down the volume or put your headphones on! I heard it yesterday morning after I heard the Kidd Kraddick Morning Show talking about it, so I thought I had to listen to it for myself, and now, I wish I didn’t. If you were as shocked and horrified as I was, you’ll want to start by washing out those girls’ mouths with soap, then yelling at their parents, and finally thinking about feminism.

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Seriously, what has changed and evolved in our culture that little girls at the ages of 4-8 know and use the f-bomb, flipping someone off, and knowing what a man part is?! When I was that age, I only was focused on going to grandma’s house, riding my bike, and learning 1+5!!! Not only that, but my parents would have spanked me till my booty was sore if I said any of these words! And, what would my grandma say?! This video made me so upset! I thought about my little nieces and cousins, and the wonderful and pure innocence that a little girl or any child has, and what little monsters our culture can make them into. What are we teaching our children? That it’s okay to f-bombs for a good cause!? What kind of crazy person thought of this nonsense?! So who’s to blame, the parents or culture?!

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First off, what does FEMINISM mean? According to http://www.dictionary.com, it means, “the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.” Sure, feminism got us ladies the right to vote, to be able to wear pants instead of huge dresses, to serve in the military, and to be able to work out of the home. True, feminism has done a lot of us wives that go to work and earn a living just as much as our husbands do, and I am one of them! However, in my opinion, having our young girls swearing like a sailor, isn’t feminine at all. Gone are the days when it was offensive for men to swear around a lady, much less a lady swear! What happened to the days, when  the feminists were still a lady? What happened to the days when more was left to the imagination, instead of nothing? What is going to happen when these little girls go back to school and start swearing around their classrooms or telling their parents, at age 5 to “F*** Off”?! Think about it, what is happening to our culture, but mostly to our women?!

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When God created women, he created us extra special. He created us strong, but not strong enough to be a man. He created us with a special “motherly” bond. A bond that is caring, compassionate, gentle, and loving in ways a man could never be. I think, there are certain things that we are older women can show our daughter, nieces, cousins, etc, and be a roll model for them. Including in our marriages, being our husbands help-mate, allowing/encouraging our husbands to lead. And no, I am not saying that we all need to stay home and be meek little housewives and have 30 kids running around, but we do need to live our lives and show our girls that it’s okay to be young and innocent. It’s okay to hold on to that innocence as long as possible! To this day, I wish I would have enjoyed being a kid more. Kids grow up too fast and constantly wish they were older. For some reason our society makes growing up so glamorous that kids don’t even get to enjoy growing up and their childhood. And we as parents, uncles and aunts, and grandparents need to encourage them to be young and enjoy it, and not exploiting our young girls and boys to the ugly, explicit, sex-crazed, dark world we live in. As women, it is our jobs to make being a woman feminine and as beautiful as possible, with using our feministic rights, but also staying to true to our morals, and showing them what a truly good cause is without having to use f-bombs.

And there is my rant for the day.

Have a fabulous weekend! xo

AIP Diet, Autoimmune, Paleo Diet, Rheumatoid Arthritis

Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis: AIP Diet

After a week of trying to be pretty much Paleo (Paleo Diet), it is time to kick it up to the next gear! For the next month, (my goal is from now until Thanksgiving weekend), to try the AIP Elimination Paleo Diet (Lord help me). Bear with me as I whine through this post…

This will be HARD. I LOVE food. I LOVE cooking AND baking food. I LOVE sweets. And I LOVE eating out. Is it possible… YES! If you have never heard of the AIP Diet, it stands for the Autoimmune Protocol AKA: The Elimination Diet. Basically you eliminate a lot of foods for a month or as long as you feel your symptoms, and then slowly bring them back one at a time, to see how your system reacts to the certain food. The biggest part is the feeling part. So many autoimmune suffers like myself, have had amazing results, even remission on this diet. Thank goodness, there are websites and actual recipes for this diet. It’s so overwhelming for me, right now, but at the same time I know I have to for my health. The hardest thing for  me this week was knowing I couldn’t eat it, made me want it more. That is why, AIP is even harder.

In the next month, I hope to have less pain over-all. Just recently, my right knee has started hurting just in the evenings. That is why I knew I had to start on this AIP diet ASAP. I originally wanted to do a few weeks of solid Paleo just to get adjusted, but when my knee started aching, I knew changes had to be made. I hope it keeps me motivated (along with documenting it all to you via blogging), to avoid eating all the things I have to avoid. Here’s the LONG list of AIP no-no foods:

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And here is the AIP Food list of included foods:

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What makes this even harder, which I hate to say it, but my husband! I can’t force him to eat this way, so I’ll have to live around an ice cream, pretzel, potato chip, soda, chocolate, brownie, and bread-loving husband for the next month and longer… GLUP! Not exactly sure how I will do it, but I know I have to. Dieting is so much different when you actually HAVE to do it to save yourself and your body. My “Against All Grain” cookbook is on its way here, so until then, I’ll be eating fruits and vegetables and well, not much else. Think of me when enjoying your next pumpkin spice cappuccino or pumpkin pie or vanilla bean ice cream. Okay, I am done whining now! Let you know how it goes, whish me luck! xo

Anyone else on the AIP diet? Tips and recipes are appreciated!

Arthritis, cooking, How To, Paleo Diet, Pomegrante, recipe, Rhuematoid, The Farmer's Wife

How To: Cut a Pomeagranate the Right Way & a Recipe

After one week of being pretty Paleo (Paleo Diet), with the exception of the little ghost and pumpkin Halloween sugar cookies. I have been enjoying lots great food, and learning a lot! I also ordered the “Against All Grain” Cookbook from Amazon this week, and I am very excited to get that! I have enjoyed eating a bigger variety of veggies and fruits this week, which I eat a lot of anyway. I have really have been enjoying pomegranates with strawberries and raspberries! How many of you have never eaten a pomegranate? Have you eaten one, but don’t know the proper way to cut into it? Well, today I am your life saver!

You’ll need a knife, a bowl of some sort, and pomegranates!

First, start off by putting on an old shirt or apron, pomegranate juice stains!! Then, start by cutting around the point that sticks out on the end (I call it the bellybutton)!

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Then, cut little quarter segments on the top where you cut out the belly button. Don’t cut in too deeply, or you will puncture the juicy seeds!

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Then disassemble it by taking it apart where you cut the little segments. And wiggle the seeds out into the bowl. It will take some work and be time consuming, but it will be worth it when you get to eat your pomegranate seeds with out having to do all the work later!

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There! You have cut and de-seeded your first pomegranate!

Like I said, this week, has been interesting. Food prep is not something I want to do after getting up at 5 AM and driving to work, and working for 8 hours. When I get home, I like to relax or go for a run, when the weather decent. The last few nights, my right knee has had shooting pain through it, so I backed off the running. Last night, I left work a little earlier and came home and did some food prep, including cutting pomegranates! I also made mug Paleo English Muffins, yes mug, and Paleo Eggs Benedict! I was pleasantly surprised and it tasted almost like the real thing! Here is the recipe!

I started by making the Hollandaise sauce first, because it is the most time consuming. (This recipe is from Against All Grain by Danielle Walker)

What you Need:

3 Tbsp of coconut oil heated to about 95 degrees F

2 medium egg yolks

1 Tbsp Lemon Juice

1/2 tsp Salt (sea salt)

1/8 tsp Paprika

Fill a blender with boiling water and cover with lid. Let sit for 10 minutes. Thoroughly dry the blender, then blend the juice and eggs. With the blender on low, slowly add in the heated coconut oil in a steady stream. Season with salt and paprika, then pulse a few times to combine.

While you are waiting for the water to heat the blender, make your microwave mug English Muffins.

What you Need

1/3 cup of Almond Flour

1 tbsp. Coconut Flour

1 Egg

1/4 tsp Salt (sea salt)

1/2 tsp Baking Soda

1 tsp Olive Oil

2 tbsp. Water

Combine all ingredients in mug and mix well. Then microwave for 2 minutes. Insert knife around edges and take out muffin and cut into halves. Easy as pie!

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Then continue making the Hollendaise Sauce and poach your eggs. Also remember to get your meat ready. I used turkey ham, sliced thin. Serve warm with fresh squeezed orange juice!

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Arthritis, Fighter, Joints, Paleo Diest, RA, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Treatment

My Diagnosis: Living with Rhuematoid Arthritis

There it was. Waiting for me in my mailbox. A letter with my results from the hospital from a week ago. Let me take you back…

A few years ago, in college, I noticed I had some joint pain, stiffness, and swelling in my left pinky finger. It came and went, and mostly, I ignored it. This continued off and on until this spring. This spring, I had severe joint paint in all of my fingers. It was hard to hang on to the church hymnal or even write. I am a civil cad technician, so movement in my hands and joints is crucial to my career. I finally went to the doctor in July this summer and the doctor did some blood work, and it turns out my ANA (AKA: Antinuclear Antibodies) test came back very positive, which indicates lupus or other auto-immune diseases. I was terrified, but tried to stay positive. My doctor got me an appointment with my grandfather’s rheumatologist (he has had rheumatoid since age 28, and he has suffered severely) in Bismarck, in October. So two weeks ago, my husband and I made the trek to Bismarck to find out results. I got my letter back last Friday stating that no, I did not have lupus, but I have rheumatoid arthritis. My test came in at 206 and normal is 19, so the doctor wants to put me on meds that will take down inflammation and avoid flare-ups as much as possible.

First off, what is rheumatoid arthritis? It is an auto-immune disease where your own body attacks your joints. No, it is not your grandma’s arthritis. It can be diagnosed as early as a teen and as late as well, your grandparents. My grandpa was 28 when he was diagnosed, and I am 23. Auto-immune diseases can be genetic. My great-grandparents had RA and so does my maternal grandfather, and now me. About 1.5 million people in the United States have RA, and women are 3 times as likely to get it than men. I have also heard that women are more likely to have crippling with the disease than men. My biggest issue, is that I am constantly tired. Some days, I feel like I was hit by a truck. In fact, I could go for a nap right now. And that does not go over so well for a working woman during the day and the farmer’s wife at night. My other issue is the crippling part. No, I do not have it now, but what does my future hold, especially with my career.

Treatment? Yes, there is treatment by medications, many of which are steroids and mostly cause a million other problems along the way, which is why I have decided to try going paleo. Along with taking my meds for flare ups, combined with the paleo diet, and staying active, I know I can beat this or at least make it better in the long run!

Going Paleo. My new diet will consist of lots of fruits and veggies, and meats. No grains or starches(except coconut and almond flours), no sugar (including zero calorie sugars, only honey and pure raw maple syrup), no dairy, and no legumes (rice or beans or potatoes, sweet potatoes can be okay). Oh, and no coffee. It is going to be so tough, especially for a coffee lover like myself, but from the things I have researched, it really heals in the long run. The paleo diet can “heal” anyone with just about any issue. It is recommended for athletes, people with heart disease or irritable bowl, basically anyone can benefit from going paleo. Another neat thing is that whether you are over-weight or under weight, going paleo will help you get to your right weight for your body, by either losing or gaining weight, until you are at you correct weight. There is no calorie counting, you eat when you are hungry and not just snack eating. The only hard thing about this for me is that I work everyday, 40+ hours a week, and commute 55 miles one way, there is not much time to meal prep. So, well see how that goes… However, I need to make a change, a drastic change, and it needs to be now.

I know there will be some days when I can’t move or I am so tired, I probably won’t be able to get up. I know there will be good days and bad days. There will be cheat days, when I eat ice cream and pizza ALL DAY, and then I regret it after. I know there will be days when I physically can’t do something. However, I plan on taking it one day at a time. In fact, I plan on running a 3K or 5K next summer! I want to stay active and healthy, as much as possible.

Are you living with RA? How do you cope?

Craft, DIY, Internet, Social Media, Technology

Becoming “Un-Tangled” from Technology & a DIY Craft

“The internet is so big, so powerful and pointless that for some people it is a complete substitute for life” – Andrew Brown

I know, I know… We all do it these days. Blogging, Facebook, Pinterest, Snap Chat, Twitter, Instagram, Emails, Vine, you get the idea. We are so tangled up in all things social media. Too many passwords, too much time, but not enough time. All things social media, internet, and technology are wonderful, don’t get me wrong. Not to mention, I have accounts for several social media sites and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t check them at least once a day. Let’s face it, we are glued to our phone because we are addicted to social media. Have you ever timed yourself while you pinned on Pinterest or checked Facebook “quick”?! What seems like a “quick” check, can end up being 10, 20 or even 30 minutes of brainless activity. I love pinning recipes on Pinterest, but am I really ever going to make the Oooy, Gooy, Goodness, Double Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake Pie Bars or the other 189,276 pins of crafts and recipies?! (Okay, I a exaggerated a little!)

Recently, I just read an article from Time Warp Wife Blog on this exact topic titled “How to get less Entangled by Technology and More Connected to Your Loved Ones” written by Arlene Pellicane. I recommend reading this full blog, but in summary it basically talked about this wife who couldn’t put down her phone, whether she was in the car, watching tv, eating, etc… And her husband couldn’t stand it! I know, because my husband is farmer and rancher and he is not a social media person at all. There have been times when he has been frustrated with me “bearing all” on social media. Since we have been married, I consider his thoughts and post carefully. We also have a no phones Sunday or even week-day evenings when we can watch a show or talk about our day, rather than mindless scrolling on our phones or lab-top. At first it was annoying that my hubby was so “anti-social”, but now, I actually enjoy it. It has “freed” me. I no longer feel pressured to take a selfie or a picture of Instagram worthy food. After working on a computer screen 8-9 hours of the day, the last thing I want to do is look at another screen after that. I feel like the article from Time Warp Wife captures that and gives simple tips on how to become more un-tangled.

1. Don’t pick up your phone right after it beeps or vibrates! It is so tempting not to view that text or like or comment on Facebook, but don’t do it!! Try to distract yourself for a few minutes to an hour and that same message or notification will still be there, plus many more! And Wahla!!  You just saved yourself some precious time with family or doing something productive!

2. Take a break. Set aside an evening or full day where phones and all technology is off. Play a board game or call a friend, even better, write a letter! Trust me, you will be happier and less tangled.

3. No phones or media at the table or while eating. Simple. Don’t take your phone with if going out to eat or leave it in a different room at home.

4. Timer. Do as I suggested earlier, time yourself. Do it one time to see how much time you actually spend on your phone or social media. I know it is tempting to pick up your phone and scroll during commercials during the football game, but get up and do some laundry instead! All those minutes add up. You’ll be shocked and more time conscious overall. Or set a certain time of the day when you specifically check you social media accounts for a set time limit only!

Ever since I have put down my phone, my marriage is better. My husband and I actually talk! I get more things done. I don’t feel the pressure or urge anymore. It is great! As the article says, “no one likes to compete with a screen for affection”. We are going on vacation in December, and I honestly can’t wait to get unplugged and unconnected from everything! And I plan on taking my camera to take pictures, not my iphone! I can’t wait!

On a side note, let’s talk crafts!! A while back, I had been using a tall, square vase from Walmart for storing extra toilet paper our master bathroom (yes, Thanks Pinterest!). I finally decided it needed a little glam! So I got some large width lace ribbon and just tied a simple bow around it, and added some hot glue so it would stay in place! It looks fab, AND it covers up the crack where I accidentally knocked it over! Plus, it cost me under 5 dollars (vase not included). Craft WIN!!  (Oh, P.S. Please feel free to follow me on Instagram!)

Have a Happy Thrusday!

xoxo

Toilet Paper Holder Glam

autumn, baking, canning, cooking, decor, DIY, fall, farm, jam, mason jars, pie, recipe, wreath

It’s Fall Ya’ll (and Jam & Pumpkin Butter Recipe)

Well, it is officially fall here in the Dakotas. The leaves are in full splendor of changing from grass green to only the most beautiful reds, yellows, and oranges you have ever seen. The air is crisp and you can almost smell the soy beans and corn that are being harvested. The mornings are cool and the days are shorter. The days of cozy sweaters, boots, boot socks and leggings are back….

And thank goodness!!

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Don’t get me wrong, I love every bit of summer and hot weather, probably more than the days of autumn, but there is just something about sweaters, changing leaves, boots and jackets, and of course pumpkin everything that just makes my soul sing. Just a few years ago, I used to absolutely hate fall and everything about it. You could say a part of me died whenever fall rolled around. Now, maybe because I am older, I appreciate the seasons more. I just couldn’t imagine living somewhere, where there was not four seasons. It’s so nice to be able to shop for summer, fall, winter, and spring outfits, and my personal favorite, seasonal décor!

I did a little seasonal diy sign. My dad made the sign for me from pallets (he runs a seed business, so he has a good supply of pallets to supply my craft addictions).. I painted it and hand lettered it. I also used a vintage cream can found here on Zenker Angus and used some corn and pumpkins from my garden to finish the look.

Fall Decor

Our dining room table…

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A mesh and burlap wreath I made for our front door… I will post a tutorial later!

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Lately, fall has really inspired me to make pie! I used freshly picked apples and made two pies and froze some apple mixture to make more fresh pies this winter. One pie was traditional apple and the other was apple, peach, strawberry pie, which was wonderful!

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I also made a batch of my Grandma’s homemade hot cocoa mix, which will last us all fall and winter. It is so yummy and so much better and cheaper than the brands you buy in the stores! I will post that family recipe soon! BUT, my biggest accomplishment of autumn was…

Making homemade jams! I made strawberry, peach, apple, and pumpkin butter! Today, I am sharing with you two recipes, which are our personal favorites, strawberry and pumpkin butter! They are both super easy and don’t take much time at all!

Strawberry Jam

4 lbs of strawberries * 1 1/2 cups water * 5-7 cups of sugar (I used about 6 1/2) * pectin (I got the bottle size from Walmart) * Mason jars (I used pint sized)

Wash jars in dishwasher or by hand. Wash and slice strawberries. Then combine strawberries, water, and pulse just a couple of times in the blender, so mixture is still chunky, but in smaller pieces. Add sugar and combine in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Add pectin (I used quite a bit, I feel, but add enough so you can see it starting to gel up). Stir constantly until everything looks dissolved. Immediately, spoon into jars and seal up. You will hear the lids pop. Store in a dark place (I store mine in those small kitchen cabinets above your fridge or stove = good place for jam!) Refrigerate after opening jar!

Jams

Pumpkin Butter (in Crock Pot)

2 big cans of Libby’s Pumpkin Puree * 3 cups sugar * 1 1/2 cups brown sugar * 1 tablespoon cinnamon * 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg * 3/4 teaspoon ginger *  1/4 teaspoon ground cloves * Washed mason jars and lids

Combine everything in slow cooker and let cook on high for 3 hours, stirring about every hour. Taste occasionally to make sure the spice combination and sugar is right for your taste. Immediately, put into jars and seal up. You’ll hear the lids pop. Refrigerate after opening.

Trust me, those jams and butters go fast! My hubby eats some on toast just about every morning and I gave some away, but that only means I get to make more!!! Next time I want to try pumpkin apple butter, to use up some fresh picked apples! Enjoy the jam, chilly air, pumpkin spice lattes, and cozy sweaters!