"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." Proverbs 3:5


Food Allergy + Art + Fun

If you have food allergies, or know someone with food allergies, you have to check out Food Allergy + Art + Fun. Thankfully, my food allergies aren’t life threatening, but they do make me very sick. Most of my family and friends are really supportive but I have met a few people who just have a hard time “getting it” and I know it’s probably just because they have never had anyone in their life with allergies before. Tiffany’s cartoons are hilarious and relatable. Here are a few of my favorites but you should definitely check out her website!

Homemade Lemon-Green Tea Sugar Scrub

Last week I was doing some research for Molly and came across a neat Lemon-Green Tea Sugar Scrub that she used in her  newsletter about lemons. I just ran out of my exfoliation scrub so I decided to try to make this one. It was so easy and works AMAZINGLY! I tend to get dry skin and this made my skin feel so soft and smooth. You should go make some right now! Here is how I made it: (Note: I changed the recipe a bit, but you can find the link to the original one in Molly’s newsletter.)


1 1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons Epsom salt
10 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons honey
4 green tea bags
1 large lemon to zest
1/4-1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon


1. Zest your lemon and set it aside.

2. Mix the sugar and Epsom salt together in a large bowl.

3. Open up your green tea bags and add in the loose tea.

4. Next, stir in the olive oil, mix in the honey, and then sprinkle the lemon juice evenly over the mixture and mix together thoroughly. If the lemon juice causes the mixture to clump, just pinch the clumps apart and spread out evenly. (Note: Be sure to do it in this order. The olive oil will help the honey slide right out of the spoon.)

5. Add the lemon zest last and mix again.

Store the scrub in an airtight container and enjoy! I don’t think I’ll buy any kind of exfoliator ever again. This stuff is amazing and it’s so easy to make!

A Caketastrophe

I’m a little behind on my blog.

For the 4th of July I had plans to make the most amazing cake. It called for four round layer cakes and the wow factor was high—a regular cake on the outside and an American flag on the inside when you sliced into it.

Except . . . I didn’t let the cakes cool long enough and sadly, they fell apart when I tried to take them out of the pans.

It was too late bake more but still early enough to make Strawberry-Rhubarb Dump Cake. This is officially going to be my old stand-by dessert of summer! I’ve made it twice for two different groups of people and everyone has loved it thus far. It’s really good and super easy. You should go make it right now!

Ok, back to the cake.

When we got home from the party I still had 4 broken layer cakes in my kitchen. It smelled divine in there, by the way. I considered dispersing them around the house to use as an air freshner. But that would be a waste of good cake so I decided to turn lemons into lemonade . . . or cake in to cake balls.

If you know me, you know I like direction, order, and following the rules. I’m learning that there are two situations where this isn’t always the case though—baking and building furniture. (That’s another story for another time). So, if you need specific directions, you might not like this recipe, but you can still do it. I promise!

You need two things. Cake and frosting. That’s it!

I’m allergic to soy so I make my own frosting.

Frosting Ingredients

Palm Oil Shortening
Powdered sugar
Orange extract


I just start with a little shortening and add powdered sugar and water until I get the consistency that I want, and then add extract and salt until it tastes good. It’s really easy. If I can do it, you can too!

Next you just crumble the cake into a cake pan and start kneading in frosting until it forms a big ball. The first batch (white cake balls), I scooped in a bunch of frosting to start with and it ended up being WAY too much. I thought I was going to keel over into a sugar coma after eating just one. Hubby loved them though. The second batch (the blue ones) were a little better but for the last batch (red ones) I only put enough for it to barely stick together. The red ones were yummy.

Once the cake and the frosting are kneaded into one big ball, you just break them off into smaller balls and roll them between your hands until they are smooth. Pop them in the freezer for about 15-20 minutes. This just makes them easier to frost. Take them out, add a little frosting to the top and enjoy! I made a chocolate frosting for the top just by substituting the orange extract for cocoa.

Even though I thought I had a caketastrophe on my hands, James was thrilled because he ended up with two desserts!

Chocolate Caramel Dream Cake

I made this cake over the weekend and it was so good that I wanted to share it with all of you. I got the recipe from my mom, but I’m not sure where she got it from.


1 box of chocolate cake mix (or you can make it from scratch!)
1 container of whipped topping
1 jar of caramel topping
4 Heath bars


1. Bake the chocolate cake as directed on the box or recipe. I used Betty Crocker’s dark chocolate cake.

2. Let the cake cool for a couple of hours.

3. Poke holes into the cake (I used a meat thermometer, mom uses a knitting needle). I made a round layer cake so I had to slice off the tops to make them flat. This exposed the natural air pockets in the cake so I barely had to make any holes.

4. Pour caramel over the cake letting it drip into the holes. (I smoothed a little extra over the top of the bottom layer to help the top layer of the cake stick and then poured the caramel into the holes of the top layer.)

5. Refrigerate the cake for a couple hours or overnight. This thickens the caramel back up so it stays in the holes rather than soaking completely into the cake.

6. Double bag the Heath Bars into sandwich bags that zip shut and smash them with a hammer until they are broken into crumbs. (My mom uses Score candy bars, but I’ve never seen them in CA. Any chocolate toffee candy bar will work fine.)

7. Frost the cake with whipped topping (I used Safeway brand whipped topping that is both soy and lactose free). If your house is warm, you will want to do this as quickly as possible before the whipped topping starts to melt.

8. Sprinkle the crushed up Heath bars over the top of the cake and then finish it off by drizzling a little caramel over the that.

We were taking the cake to a friend’s house so I covered it with plastic wrap and placed it in the freezer until we left so it wouldn’t melt on the way. If you do this, stick a couple of toothpick into the top of the cake before putting the plastic wrap on so it doesn’t stick to the caramel.

This has about a kazillion calories and at least a bazillion grams of sugar so I probably won’t make this cake often, but it tastes so good that it was worth every trip to the gym it’s going to take to work it off!

A Rock Em, Sock Em Valentine’s Day!

Um, hi Toni, did you know that it’s almost April?

Well, yes.  We’ve just had a lot of “life” going on around here the last few months and I started this post and never finished it. C’est la vie and so I write about Valentine’s Day a month and a half late. I thought about deleting it but James really wanted me to share his cake with you. Plus, I think you’re going to want to make the peanut butter cups below.

We actually celebrated on two days. We had been dealing with some stressful things and without knowing it, James and I both decided to get each other presents a little early.The really crazy thing is that we did it on the same day! James came home with this beautiful bouquet of flowers:

And then when he turned the corner he found this sitting on the kitchen counter:

He thinks I’m the coolest wife ever for putting toys on a cake 🙂

By the way, the cake was chocolate with orange flavored frosting. It’s the first cake I’ve ever made entirely from scratch. You can get the recipe for Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake HERE. But, I made it with Nestle cocoa. Shhhh . . . don’t tell anyone. I also used the same frosting recipe I always use, but added a little vanilla and orange extract for flavoring. It was yummy!

We celebrated on the actual day too.  I made these for James: (I think we are just now getting all these calories worked off!)

The cherries were super easy – I just dipped maraschino cherries in warm melted chocolate chips mixed with about a spoonful of shortening and let them dry on wax paper until the chocolate hardened.  Then I put them all in a sealed plastic container and stored them in the fridge. You can get the recipe for the peanut butter cups HERE.

I don’t have pictures yet, but James also made some new planter boxes for me.  He did a great job – they are really beautiful! I will be sure to take pictures when we get our plants planted in them this spring.

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup – Yum!

A few weeks ago we made homemade Chicken Noodle Soup for dinner and it was delicious. I’ve been wanting to make this for a long time but the noodles intimidated me. My mom and grandma have made homemade noodles for as long as I can remember. I’m not a very good cook, so I thought there was no way I could make them, but it was super easy!

Here is the recipe for my Grandma’s Egg Noodles, with my revisions:


2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk


  1. Mix eggs, milk, and salt together.
  2. Add flour slowly until the dough becomes heavy.
  3. Roll out the dough until it’s flat and let it sit for 2 to 3 hours to dry out.
  4. Roll up the dough into a tube-like shape. Starting at one end, make 1/8-inch-thick slices to create noodles.
  5. Add to chicken broth (recipe below) or water and boil for 20 to 30 minutes.

We looked through several broth recipes online and ended up taking bits and pieces from a couple of them. James made this part of the dish and here is how he did it:


1/6 cup chopped onion
1/6 cup chopped green onion
1/3 cup chopped celery
2 cans chicken broth
1 can vegetable broth
8 ounces chopped, cooked chicken breast
2/3 cup sliced carrots
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Homemade noodles
Salt and Pepper to taste



  1.  Add all ingredients to a large pot and bring to a boil. 
  2. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the noodles are done all the way through.


That’s it!  Easy-peasy. It made enough to feed us both for dinner and then I had the leftovers for lunch the next day.

Enjoy! 🙂

Our Super Bowl Menu

James and I love football. I mean, we really love it. And the Super Bowl is sort of like a 2nd Thanksgiving to us, except without the pressure to cook a big ham. We still end up over-doing it on the food though. This year’s spread was so good that we ended up snacking on it again for dinner last night so I thought I’d share it with you.

Canadian Bacon-Pineapple Pinwheels

James made these and they turned out delicious!  You can find the recipe here. He of course left out the garlic. For the dipping sauce we used tomato paste with a little bit of non-garlic Italian seasoning.  I am the luckiest girl alive, having a husband who loves to cook!

Chips and Two Types of Salsa

We had two types of salsa this year. A very tasty pineapple Mango Salsa we got from Ralph’s. This is the only garlic-free salsa we have ever been able to find. It’s pretty pricey but once you taste it you almost forget how much you paid. We also decided to venture out and make our own for the first time. James made an amazing Roasted Corn Salsa. He grilled the corn on the BBQ and then added the ingredients listed here. I don’t believe he followed the recipe exactly though- he just started adding things until it tasted how he wanted it. This was much less expensive than the Pineapple Mango and tasted so good that we will definitely be making it again. Maybe next time we’ll throw in a little pineapple!

Little Weenies with Sweet & Tangy BBQ Sauce 

1 pot on low-medium heat + 1 package of little weenies + 1 jar Sweet & Tangy BBQ sauce. Easy-peasy.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

I used this recipe to get the ingredients, but in all honesty I didn’t follow it. I took a regular old spoon and scooped out a chunk of shortening and put it in the pan and then started mixing in chocolate chips until it looked like there was enough chocolate to cover all the strawberries. I found it helpful to alternate putting the heat on “2” and “low.” If I kept it on low for too long it started to get too thick and made it hard to cover the strawberries. But, if I kept it on 2 for too long it started to burn the chocolate.  Also, I didn’t have any styrofoam so I just layed them out on wax paper. The side they were laying on dried flat but it was ok. 

They don’t look all that pretty, but I have to say, they were really yummy. You should go make some right now!

Valentine M&M’s

James snuck these in without me seeing and now I can’t stop eating them. Help!

Fruit Tray

Complements of the Becks! 🙂 Mmmmm pineapple.

It was a super fun night, but I am a little sad that football season is over. Oh well. That just means that baseball is right around the corner! 🙂 Go Mariners!

My Sugar Cookie Adventure: From Monstrosity to Perfection

I learned something really important from my mom the other day.  There is no way to make sugar cookies “healthy.”  Duh, right?  Ok, let me clarify.  I knew that you can’t make them healthy.  I wanted to use less butter for both lactose intolerance sake and for healthiness sake.  So, I used this recipe (be sure to look at how cute their cookies are!) and substituted 1/2 the butter for apple sauce and half the flour for whole wheat flour.   And then I got this monstrosity:

Are those not the ugliest, most deformed sugar cookies you have ever seen?!  You can click on the photo to get a clearer view, giant air bubbles and all, if you dare.  Apparently, you can’t use applesauce in sugar cookies because it bakes them into a strange bread-like texture.  In addition to that, it creates a sticky mess that makes it almost impossible to roll out or cut. Trust me on this, you don’t EVER want to put applesauce in your sugar cookies!  I spent a ridiculous amount of time on these, only to get the above sad result. 

I asked mom for her recipe and tried again.  (Side note- I bet the recipe above works just fine too . . . if you follow the directions.)

Viola!  I don’t mean to brag, but these cookies came out perfect.  Here is her recipe if you would like to try it yourself:

Ethel’s Sugar Cookies (with mom’s revisions)

3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon flavoring. I have used strawberry, orange peppermint, vanilla anything works.
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder (in date, newer the better)

Mix butter, sugar, eggs and flavoring thoroughly.

Add flour and baking powder slowly. Chill at least 1 hour.

Heat oven to 400. Roll dough to 1/4 ( it calls for 1/8 but I roll mine thicker) on lightly floured board. Cut out cookies, place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 6-8 minutes It says until they are a light golden color, sometimes they are over baked then. Just try one to see. That’s it!

This time I followed the directions exactly except that I used 1/2 cup butter and 1/4 cup shortening (soy free).  Our oven cooks at the speed of light so I only left them in there for 5-6 minutes.  And then I made homemade soy free vanilla frosting.  I’d give you a link to the recipe, but I didn’t follow it.  Basically I just put in a chunk of shortening and then started adding vanilla extract, salt, warm water, and powdered sugar until the taste and consistency was to my liking. After frosting the cookies, I dusted them with some sprinkles, of course. And here is the final product, just like mom used to make them: 

We enjoyed these cookies Christmas evening with some hot cocoa after a brisk, but lovely stroll down Christmas Card Lane. And boy were they yummy.  Hope you all had a merry and blessed Christmas too! 🙂


Homemade Coffee Creamer

This weekend we ran out  of coffee creamer. *gasp!* I love coffee so it’s a bit of a tragedy for me.  We’ve been to the store twice since then.  This is a little embarrassing, but both times we went without our  list and both times we forgot the coffee creamer. 😦

I’ll still drink coffee when I don’t have creamer but it’s just not as fun, so I thought I’d do some experimenting.  I was really excited to find a Pumpkin Spice Latte recipe in Econobuster’s newsletter this week!  I was especially excited about this since I’m not able to try the one at Starbucks you all brag so much about, lol. 🙂  If you want to try it too, you can get the recipe HERE.  It was REALLY good and I think I’ll make it again tomorrow!  I of course used non-fat Lactaid milk and Safeway brand whipped topping to make it lactose and soy free.

I tried a few more experiments that worked out pretty well too!  I don’t have exact measurements because I just started adding things until it tasted good but if you’re feeling brave and want to give it a whirl, here are the other two things I tried:

Caramel vanilla flavored coffee- Milk ( I have no idea how much- I just poured it in until the coffee was the right color)  about a half a cap of vanilla extract, a smidge of sugar, and a spoonful of caramel (the kind you put on ice cream).  And then I topped it with a spoonful, ok, maybe two spoonfuls of whipped topping.  It probably gave me 3 cavities but it was yummy. 🙂

Vanilla cinnamon flavored coffee- Milk (same thing, I just poured until it was the same color the creamer would have made it), around a 1/2 cap of vanilla extract, and 1-2 pinches of cinnamon.  Also very good but the Caramel Vanilla wins as my favorite 🙂

If you  prefer syrups to creamer, here are some actual recipes for coffee syrups using similar flavors.


You Win Some, You Lose Some

Sometimes we shop at the $1 store.  I’m not embarrassed to admit that- we’ve found some really fantastic deals there!  We’re pretty picky about what we buy though.  We mostly stick with name brand things (It’s not that we are snooty, it’s just that you can find some strange and funky things there so we just feel it’s safer that way).   It’s a little trick we’ve started doing to save money.  We write-up our grocery list, go to the dollar store first, and then get whatever is left at the grocery store.  Sometimes we hit the jackpot and other times . . . well, not so much.

Here’s what I’m talking about.  This summer I found Loreal’s self tanning lotion for $1. Since I’ve moved here, I’ve made it a practice to never walk out of the house without sunscreen on my face.   I’m pretty fair-skinned anyway, but in the summer this makes my face several shades lighter than the rest of my body.  I’ve used this kind before and it’s usually around $8-10 so it was a GREAT find.

Twice we have found mini roses and a few other beautiful potted flowers.  In fact, about half the flowers on our patio are from the $1 store!

We have found spices without garlic.  These spices are not name brand, but spices are expensive and usually have garlic so we gave it a shot.  Our food has flavor again and my husband is a happy man.

We found sweet and sour sauce without garlic.  Also not a name brand since we’ve never seen sweet and sour without garlic we gave it a shot.  GREAT find.

Crest toothpaste, Aquafresh toothpaste, Campbells soup,  Reach toothbrushes, Soft Soap liquid hand soap, holiday decorations, picture frames, etc, etc, etc.  All GREAT finds.

We have been wanting new pot holders and dish towels and have decided to redo our kitchen in red and sage green (not to be confused with Christmas green).  We found a great deal on dish towels at big lots in exactly the right shades (That is until the green towels turned yellow) but have yet to find pot holders in those colors . . . until one glorious day at the dollar store we found oven mitts.  Not just in the right shade of red, but also the right shade of green.  We bought one of each.

We were so excited that we got home and threw away our old pot holders, and I put the green one in the wash . . . and viola!


It shrank 2 sizes.  This darn oven mitt barely fits my hand now.  James has to fold it in half and use it like a pot holder.    I still haven’t washed the red one- partly because I’m waiting for a big enough load of reds and partly because I’m afraid it will come out child sized.

Oh well.  You win some, you lose some.  And at $1 each I still think it was worth the gamble!

Chocolate Pumpkin Pudding

I am falling in love with all things chocolate and pumpkin!  Last night I made Chocolate Pumpkin Pudding.  It really only took about 5 or 10 min to make and it was yummy.  James thinks it would taste great in a pie crust too.  Does anyone out there know of a way to make it a little stiffer so that we could use this as pie filling?

Check out the recipe here.  There were 4 of us eating it and plenty left over to have again tonight . . . unless James eats it for breakfast. 🙂

Allergy/Intolerance note: We used Safeway brand whipped topping.  Free of soy and not a significant source of lactose.

Chocolate Pumpkin Bread

On Wednesday I made chocolate chip pumpkin bread for small group.  It was a huge hit!  I didn’t take a picture but you can trust me, it looks like pumpkin bread with chocolate chips.  😉  This is the 2nd time I’ve made this and it has been a crowd pleaser both times.  You can find the recipe HERE.  If you haven’t made bread or anything from scratch before, don’t be intimidated.  This recipe is super easy!  It should be noted though that this recipe is for muffins and I made bread.  Both times I’ve made it I had to turn the temperature up halfway through and cook it a little longer because it wasn’t getting done in the middle.  I have no idea how to combat that so I’m hoping an expert baker out there might be reading this and share their thoughts. 🙂  Oh, and as always, I used a little less butter than it called for.

I have a little bit of pumpkin left so I may have to try another one of their pumpkin recipes!

Strawberries, Rhubarb, and Friends

Ok, so the title of this blog post might be a little bit misleading since there aren’t actually any strawberries in the recipe.  BUT you could add them and it would make it even better!  When I was home last month, my friend Sara introduced me to Strawberry Rhubarb Dump Cake.  It was so good that we ate the entire pan in about 3 days, just the two of us.  It was so easy to make that I made it for our life group.  They liked it so much that I had to share it with you too!  Very sorry to say though, you may have to wait until next year to make this as rhubarb is now out of season.  😦  I actually made it a few weeks ago and even then had to go to two different stores to find it.

The recipe I used was Aunt Kaye’s Rhubarb Dump Cake  from allrecipes.com but used a little less sugar . . . maybe 3/4 of a cup or so and just a teeny bit less than the recommended amount of butter.  Our oven bakes faster than a sprinter on race day so I only put it in there for about half the time.   You can eat it hot or cold- I actually preferred it cold . . . and for breakfast.  Yum! 🙂

Here is a picture of the end result.  It’s not pretty, but it tastes amazing and no one will ever know that it only took you about 10 min to make!

See all that white stuff on there?  That’s cake mix that didn’t get wet.  I think next time I’ll mist it lightly with a spray bottle before putting it in the oven.  It doesn’t taste bad and it’s still fine to eat if it comes out like this.

A note for fellow allergy sufferers: If you are allergic to soy, you know that it’s really difficult to find cake mixes without soy in it.  My allergy isn’t life threatening but it does make me really sick.  Betty Crocker’s cake mixes say “and/or soy” in the ingredient list and I’ve found that most products that say “and/or soy” have very little soy and I feel only slight discomfort after eating it.

I’ll include some pictures of our life group too.   This group has been such a blessing in our lives.  We’ve done several studies together, pray regularly for each other, and just have a lot of fun!

Girl's Night Aug '10

Iron Mountain March '10

Camping/Hiking March '10

Mariners Game! June '10

Turtle Bread

Last night I tried to make turtle bread. See Betty Crocker’s recipe HERE.  Noticed how cute her turtle is? Mine didn’t exactly turn out like that, lol. I’m going to tell you about this turtle baking adventure so you can try the recipe too, but without making my mistakes.

This was my first time baking with yeast and didn’t really know the difference between the different kinds. Realizing that I had active dry yeast instead of quick active dry yeast, I followed the directions for active dry yeast. Do any of you know if that makes a difference? And does using wheat instead of white flour make a difference?

I decided to make two smaller turtles instead of one big one. Everything seemed to be going fine but after letting the turtles rise, their eyes fell off. If you decide to give this a try, you really have to stick them in there good… and before the bread rises. After sticking the eyes back in their heads deflated and deformed and had to be reshaped.

Next I tried to make the shell as instructed in the recipe. As soon as I touched it the shell started sinking a bit. I’m thinking if I had made the full sized turtle this part might have been a little easier. Instead of cutting into the dough as directed, I found it easier to take a table knife and make a ridge by gently pushing into the bread dough all the way around the turtle. I covered them back up and let it sit a little longer hoping they would rise up again, but they didn’t so in the oven they went.

I started to walk out of the kitchen. BANG! I jumped, the cats jumped… and the turtles jumped. Uh-oh. Note to self: don’t by cheap baking pans. Running back to the oven I immediately saw two very flat turtles and a contorted pan. I should have taken a picture. It was impressively contorted. It jumped one more time after this, but it didn’t seem like anything else could be done so I just left the turtles in there hoping they would at least taste good.

Betty Crocker recommends that you bake for 20-25 minutes. I took the turtles out after 12 minutes and they were a little well done. However, it should be noted that our oven tends to bake a little willy-nilly. Some things take 3 times as long and others take ½ as long. I’m not quite sure why but I have gotten in the habit of checking about half way through just to be safe. 

The turtles were a little dense, but tasted ok especially with honey. On the back of the flour bag there’s a recipe for honey wheat bread. I think I’ll try that next time.

Spiced Peach Puffs

Last night I made spiced peach puffs for dessert.  They aren’t really the kind of dessert we would normally choose, but they were really good!  You can find the recipe HERE.  I’ve actually wanted to try them for quite awhile but the filling calls for heavy whipping cream and I’m lactose intolerant.  I’m also allergic to soy so I wasn’t sure I’d find whipped cream that we could use… until the glorious day we stumbled upon Safeway brand whipped topping.  Free of soy and not a significant source of lactose. Hurray!

Substitutions and recommendations: 

  • This recipe makes more puffs than we could ever eat so I made half a batch and made the puffs twice as big.  I’ll probably make them the correct size next time as they rose up and then sunk back down just a little. 
  • Do make sure you scoop out the inside while they are still warm.  As they cool the inside becomes a little mushy making it harder to get out.  
  • I of course substituted the heavy cream for the whipped topping.   
  • The recipe doesn’t call for this but I sprinkled cinnamon over the top. Yum!

Note: If we were unable to find whipped cream, we were planning to use Breyer’s Lactose Free Vanilla ice cream.  I’m pretty sure this is the best vanilla ice cream ever made.  If you know me you know I’m not a big fan of vanilla, especially in ice cream, but I could eat this all day.  James even prefers it to regular ice cream!