About

Hi, I'm Shauna.

I'm married to Pete. We have two sweet little girls, Hailey & Charlotte.

I was a full-time employee in the corporate world, but half way into my 2nd pregnancy, I changed career paths. I am CEO of our household during the weekdays. I am a stay-at-home mom.

We strive to live a simple life. I did say strive...right? Things aren't always so simple. But the idea of simple is one I like.

I have a bit of a green thumb.

I also love all things related to home decorating and design.

For the most part, I feed my family organic food. I don't really want to eat pesticides, do you?

We are also gluten-free as of November 2011. Well, our house is anyway. My husband gluten-cheats when he's at work. Going GF was a hard task for me at first. After eating the same way for 31 years, it felt impossible. But you CAN change habits and I did. I had a rough 1st Christmas gluten-free, but I'm happy to say - it gets easier. I've picked up so many tips and tricks along the way, I look forward to sharing them here.

We love to travel. In 3.5 years, we've been to Costa Rica (honeymoon!), Italy (3 weeks with a 7 month old), Maui (twice), and most recently, we went to Mexico. Traveling with kids can be fun, you just need to know the basics (future post!).

It's busy around here and my kitchen is a perpetual mess...

I used to scrapbook (when that was the cool thing to do). I have a sewing machine and a serger (which I hardly ever use). I'm a cooking & sewing 4-H graduate - but I've forgotten much of what was learned. I wish I could take amazing photographs, but I don't really know what I'm doing with the camera when it's not on auto. All these things still interest me...so I might pick up some old skills and give em a test run - I'll let you know how it goes.

Follow me! Use the subscribe buttons on the right - pick your poison.

----------------------------------------------

I am in the Amazon Associates Program and some of the links to products will link to Amazon for your purchasing pleasure.

Marinated Flank Steak

This has been a family favorite since I was a small child. In fact, this was THE meal to request when there was a birthday in the house.

It's so easy to make, and delicious to boot.

I didn't have a meal in mind for this evening, but I did have a flank steak in the fridge just waiting to be used. It was a beautiful day, so I thought one last grilled meal would be a fitting way to bid summer farewell (it's supposed to rain tomorrow!).

Without much ado, here is our tried and true, family favorite recipe for the most amazing flank steak you will ever taste. Don't believe me? Make it, I dare you. ;)

Marinated Flank Steak

Ingredients:

Flank Steak

1/4 Cup Gluten-free soy sauce

3 TBSP Oil

2 TBSP Sesame Seeds

1 TBSP Brown Sugar

2 cloves crushed garlic

Instructions:

Remove fat and "film" and cut the flank steak into serving size pieces (optional) - place in a marinating container.

Mix the soy sauce, oil, sesame seeds, brown sugar and crushed garlic together - pour mixture over the flank steak.

Marinate 5-6 hours (I only marinated 1 hour tonight).

Broil or barbecue (for med-rare I leave it on the grill for 4 minutes per side).

Cut into thin slices against the grain.

-----------------------

By the way, see those purple fingerling potatoes next to the steak? Well, I must brag a little....I pulled those out of my garden today - they were my first ever harvest of home grown potatoes!!  I just might have a green thumb after all...

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Beets

I used to think that beets tasted like dirt. My opinion has changed, thanks in part to learning how to cook them in the most delicious (and simple) way. When paired with sweet potatoes, beets are like candy.

I am a fan of quick and easy dishes in the kitchen, so this is one of my favorite go-to side dishes. I made these for Easter, and everyone approved - even the kids!

I use organic sweet potatoes (I buy the orange ones, known as yams) and red beets (I don't think the flavor is near as good when using the yellow beets). I always use different amounts and sizes of beets and sweet potatoes, so I adjust the ingredients up or down depending on how many I'm using. I also don't use measuring spoons. Fewer utensils = less time cleaning up the kitchen! It's hard to go wrong with this recipe.

beets 002.jpg

1. Peel sweet potatoes and beets (save the beet greens for juicing, they are excellent!). NOTE: You might want to wear some gloves, as beets do stain hands. I remove beet juice from my butcher block by spritzing Vinegar on and wiping the surface clean with a sponge.

2. Chop into bite size pieces and toss into a bowl. Cut the sweet potato chunks slightly larger than the beets as beets tend to take a little longer to cook - cutting the beets smaller will even out the baking times so you don't have to worry about starting beets before the sweet potatoes (I usually forget to cut my sweet potatoes larger than the beets, go figure).

beets 004.jpg

3. Drizzle Olive Oil onto the beets and sweets - use enough to lightly coat every piece. I used about 1.5 TBSP for the amount prepared.

4. Sprinkle in some Garlic or Onion Powder. I have used both garlic and onion powder. I prefer the onion powder as it produces a sweeter taste in the end, but they are both good, so experiment! I used about 1/2 tsp for the amount prepared as I don't want to have garlic breath when my husband gets home from work!

5. Grind in Salt and Pepper

6. Stir it up and spread the sweets and beets on a rimmed baking pan

7. Bake at 425 for ~30-45 minutes (stirring once). The larger the chunks are, the longer it will take to cook. They are done when the beets can be easily pierced with a fork.

Warning: If you are new to the world of eating beets, you should know.... After consuming beets, you will stare into the toilet in shock - don't be alarmed, pink pooh and pee is to be expected after eating beets. You aren't dying, it's just the beets! Your kids might think it's cool...

Do you like beets? If you don't think you do, I challenge you to make this - give beets a second chance! Also, I'd love to hear the popular vote - what do you prefer, onion or garlic powder on your sweets and beets?

<a HREF="http://ws.amazon.com/widgets/q?rt=tf_cw&ServiceVersion=20070822&MarketPlace=US&ID=V20070822%2FUS%2Fwholivinsea-20%2F8010%2Fe27db954-5b64-4f9d-8f94-e801ca2b8c47&Operation=NoScript">Amazon.com Widgets</A>

What we eat: Gluten-Free

When I first eliminated gluten from my diet, I felt deprived. Like utterly and totally deprived of all *good* food in the world. Oh how I loved that soft and fluffy french bread dipped in olive oil w/balsamic vinaigrette... Fly me to Italy and you may see me shed a tear (or 500!) as my husband and I pretty much survived on bread and cheese (and wine, oh my!) when we were there in 2009 (aka before going gluten-free).


Oh the memories...

When others find out that we are a gluten-free household, I'm often met with the response, "What on earth do you eat?!"

I felt the same way in the beginning.

The transition to a gluten-free lifestyle was not easy. It was a journey and it was a journey that I didn't enjoy {like, at all}. I would look at food in the grocery store and say, "I can't have this, I can't have that..." as I stumbled my way through the aisles.

Now, having been gluten-free for over 2 years, I have a totally different perspective! Now I eat real food, and for the most part, I don't find myself questioning the possibility that something I ate had gluten in it {unless I'm eating outside of my own kitchen}.

I'm going to give you a quick run down of what we eat, on a regular basis.

The usual breakfast options:

  • oatmeal (Trader Joe's GF) - I like to use unsweetened coconut milk (also from TJ's) or almond milk instead of milk or water. I also add cinnamon and raisins, the kids love it.

  • eggs (scrambled, omelettes, hard-boiled) - I like to throw in some peppers, mushrooms, spinach, and cheese when I do scrambled eggs or omelettes. I cut the vegetables up nice and small so the kids don't complain too much. ;)

  • protein shake - currently using SFH's chocolate whey protein powder. I use Zico coconut water as a base, add a frozen banana, lots of spinach and sometimes almond butter. There are a gazillion ways to spice up the vanilla or chocolate powders, I like to experiment.

  • pancakes or waffles (The Cravings Place All Purpose Pancake & Waffle Mix) - we only do pancakes/waffles if we're having eggs and the kids only get the pancakes if they eat their eggs. ;) I like this GF mix because it's so simple to make, and the pancakes taste great! I usually add some unsweetened apple sauce to the mix with water, unsweetened coconut milk, or almond milk. I don't measure, I just add liquid until I get the right consistency. Sometimes I add a little vanilla and cinnamon. The pancakes/waffles have the perfect texture - just like those gluten filled ones we used to enjoy.

The typical lunch (note: we usually have fruit and vegetables paired with one of the following items at lunch time):

  • Quinoa - we eat a lot of quinoa. I usually make a quinoa salad with black beans, garbanzo beans, red/orange/yellow peppers and artichokes all mixed in. Our girls love it.

  • Salmon patties (purchased from Costco - WARNING: read the packages, some salmon patties have gluten in them!) - I use my cast iron pan to quickly grill up salmon patties for my kids. Dip a bite of  salmon patty in mayonnaise, and it's even more delicious. We usually pair the salmon with a green vegi (typically steamed broccoli)

  • Sandwiches (Udi's bread is THE best store bought bread) - on days I need to make something quick, my fall back is a good old fashioned PB&J, grilled cheese sandwich or a meat n'cheese sandwich (sometimes I sub hummus for mayonnaise - yum). I love panini's so I usually grill our sandwiches (I have a Cuisinart Griddler - absolutely LOVE it!).
The last-minute dinner:

  • Meat and vegi's. Seriously. We eat a lot of meat and vegetables for dinner. Whether it's shrimp, steak, fish or chicken (my least favorite), we eat it with a vegetable (the usual stuff in our refrigerator: asparagus, broccoli, sweet potatoes, beets, rutabaga, turnips, zucchini, peppers, and whatever else is in season).



This is a quick last-minute kind of meal at our house. I simply cut up a steak or two (or chicken), mix it with a ton of cut up vegi's, drop some olive oil in the bowl, sprinkle on some of Trader Joe's every day seasoning (great way to spice things up!), mix it up, then spread everything on a rimmed baking tray. Bake for ~15 minutes with the temp somewhere around 400-425 degrees (stirring once), and enjoy! SO SIMPLE! 

When I'm being a planner, I like to use meal planning services (my go-to GF menu planning site is gfreecuisine.com). I love that they provide menus that follow seasonally available produce. They also have monthly freezer meals which are quick and easy to prepare, and taste great!

So there you have it. A quick look into a typical day of eating in our gluten-free household.

I will be including more recipes and a deeper look into our food choices in future posts. Also, I will provide a list of our favorite gluten-free snacks {isn't it CrAzY how often kids want snacks???}. And if you want some tips for getting your kids to eat their food (including vegetables!), stay tuned. Dinner time doesn't have to be a war...

Gluten Ingredient Cheat Sheet (printable)

When we were first transitioning to a gluten-free life, I had the hardest time trying to remember the 'banned' ingredient list. Grocery shopping was a bit stressful. Trying to read all of the ingredient lists while toting my toddler and baby through the store was a challenge in itself, but throw in new dietary restrictions, and I was a hot mess.

I didn't have an easy to reference cheat sheet, but I wished I did. I was in 'tired mommy' mode as I balanced life with my newborn and toddler (19 months apart), so I never made a list, I just suffered through those early gluten-free shopping days.  Sometimes, I made mistakes and brought something home that had an ingredient on it that I forgot was another form of gluten.

Well, I finally found some time and was able to make a cheat sheet (it only took me 2.5 years!). This will be useful for you even if you don't need to be on a gluten-free diet. Maybe you will have some gluten-free dinner guests one night and will wonder what you can feed them, or maybe someone you know just found out that they have celiac disease - give them a cheat sheet to help them in their journey!

Without further ado, I give you my 'ingredients to avoid' cheat sheet:
See all those numbers in the "Check with manufacture" list above? Download the PDF (click the link below) and you will see an extra page with more information on why those ingredients may or may not be gluten-free (courtesy of celiac.com).

There are other strange ingredients out there that are 'glutenous' but since they have names like, Hing, Hordeum Vulgare Extract, and Hydroxypropyltrimonium Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, I left them off my list. If it has wheat in the name, don't trust it - pretty simple, right?

Going gluten-free promoted a great deal of processed food elimination in our home and it increased my 'whole food' mentality. My rule of thumb is, if something has really strange, hard to pronounce ingredients listed on the package, it's better for my health not to eat it.

Anyway, click the link below to download the PDF. Feel free to use the buttons at the bottom of this post to share this post with the world! :)

DOWNLOAD: Gluten Ingredients to Avoid - Printable

Post this list on your fridge, drop one in your wallet, give one to a friend! I hope you find this list as helpful as I would have back when I was just starting my GF journey. ;)

I am working on making the list in an easy-to-print wallet size (because wouldn't that be cool?). I will post an update with a download link when it's ready.

If you see anything missing from my list that you consider a 'normal' gluten ingredient, drop me a line!

Happy shopping!

(This post is linked up to a blog hop here: Laura's Gluten Free Pantry)

How to clean crayon off a chalkboard

My kids had the lovely idea to use their crayons on the chalkboard one day. Has that ever happened to you?

I tried to clean the crayon off by using a variety of household cleaners, including vinegar, all to no avail. So I did what any modern mom would do, I googled it.

The top 2 suggestions I came across, were to use either WD-40 or Simple Green. I was pretty sure I had tried to clean the crayon off with Simple Green in the past, and I didn't recall that working, but since my memory was a bit cloudy, I couldn't rule it out. It was, after all,  recommended as a way to get crayon marks off a chalkboard.

So I decided to do a side-by-side test with the top two chalkboard crayon removal recommendations - and to set the record straight!
The contenders: WD-40 and Simple Green


I spritzed some of each solution on the chalkboard where the crayon marks were prominent, then I used a paper towel to wipe away the crayon - or so I thought! The WD-40 removed the crayon from the board with ease, while the Simple Green ended up on the paper towel, leaving the crayon wax (and chalk residue) on the board. *scratches head*

Notice that you can barely see the area I scrubbed with Simple Green in the pic below (the spot on the right). Why was this solution recommended as a crayon remover for chalkboard, anyway??

Once I determined the winner (this wasn't hard!), I used WD-40 on the whole board and got it super clean in no time.


WD-40 left a thin shiny film on the board, so just for good measure, I sprayed some vinegar on a paper towel and did a once over on the board - just to get the grease off.

Through this trial, I also learned a lesson about using chalk. If you want to leave long-lasting, hard to erase marks on a chalkboard, write on the board when it's still damp (or use wet chalk). I was being hasty when I was documenting the crayon removal process and wrote on the board when it was still a bit damp. Then I tried to erase it...


See what I mean? I ended up cleaning the board with vinegar. And then, I let it dry before we used it again.

NOTE: Using vinegar is the 'teacher recommended' way to clean a chalkboard - it just doesn't remove crayon wax, so if you need extra cleaning power, trust the WD-40!

My girls woke from their nap and quickly discovered their newly cleaned chalkboard. They promptly created a ton of chalk dust in our living room (and some cute little drawings, too). 

Thankfully, I'd hidden the crayons. ;)


Recipe: Almond Milk

I eliminated dairy from my diet (what a challenge it was in the beginning!) and began using coconut milk (Trader Joe's Unsweetened) and almond milk as a replacement for dairy.

It hadn't even crossed my mind to make my own almond milk until I went on a weekend getaway with friends and one of my eco-conscious friends was toting around a jar full of homemade almond milk. A light bulb turned on in my head and I realized that I could be saving a few bucks if I made my own, too. So I returned from our weekend trip, purchased a huge bag of almonds from Costco, and dove into making almond milk. It is surprisingly easy to make and tastes great!

We use almond milk most often on cereal and in smoothies, but I'm happy to report that I've even used almond milk (with a splash of lemon) as a replacement for buttermilk in recipes (the results were delicious).

You can soak the almonds in water overnight for added nutritional benefit if you want. I never soak the almonds because I tend to 'need it now' when I'm making a new batch. I don't add a sweetener, but in the future, I might add either flax or chia seeds to it in order to boost the nutritional benefit. Don't add these if you plan on straining the milk. I don't strain my almond milk because you lose the fiber (and the seeds!) if you strain it.

I store almond milk in a canning jar in the fridge and give it a shake before pouring, as it will separate (see above).

Here's a quick and easy recipe for almond milk:

Almond Milk Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup raw almonds (you can also use cashews)
  • Flax or chia seeds (2-3 tablespoons)
  • Sweetener (i.e. honey, vanilla, agave, stevia, sugar) to taste (optional)

Directions

  1. Place all ingredients into the blender in the order listed and secure lid
  1. If using a Vitamix, select Variable 1
  1. Turn machine on and slowly increase speed to high (if using a Vitamix, increase to Variable 10, then to High)
  1. Blend for about 1-2 minutes (longer for standard blenders) until a desired consistency is reached

If you want to strain away sediment, place a thin tea towel, cloth napkin or cheesecloth over a large bowl. Pour almond milk slowly into sieve and allow it to filter through. To get the last little bit through, pick up the corners of the cloth and squeeze the milk through.