Saturday, December 4, 2010

Our New Doorless Shower!

Yes, you read that right...a doorless shower and it's fabulous too! My husband and I were able to enjoy our first shower in it on Thanksgiving day, we absolutely love it!

After Christmas last year, we had some strange flooding in the flooring of our kitchen, we thought maybe there was a crack in the foundation, we called my dad who is in property management, and he sent one of his guys over to check it out. They had to pull up our wood laminate flooring (it was warped anyway) to check for the leak and luckily it was not a crack in the foundation, but the water was coming from the corner of the kitchen window, which upon further inspection was also warped and cracking. Our shower is directly above the kitchen window, so we logically concluded a pipe must be leaking from our shower. We were told to call our insurance company and report the damage, they sent a plumber out who thought he had found the problem and supposedly fixed it, they also sent contractors who proceeded to tear the kitchen apart and take pictures for their report. The insurance said they would not pay for the repairs and left our kitchen worse off then it originally was. After we recovered from the outrageousness of it all, we got on with our lives...with a torn up house. A couple of months ago we were able to start repairing the damage, we had planned to fix the most noticeable problem first, the flooring in our kitchen. We decided we wanted to go with porcelain tile for the whole downstairs floor, patch up the walls and paint the main areas of the house (our children had done quite a bit of damage to our walls).

As soon as the floors were done and the paint dry, our shower gave out again leaking water from the kitchen window...again! We caught it right away this time and dried up the water, no more damage was done thankfully, but we realized we had to take care of our shower now instead of later. So operation doorless shower took place a year sooner than we had wanted but we are happy with the results!

We will have to hold off on painting the walls until later, but we were able to put matching tile down on the floor of the bathroom that once had carpet...yes, carpet in our bathroom (put there by previous owners), not very practical at all!

Thank you Lord for this wonderful luxury!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Cosmetic Crowns...

I'm feeling a bit nervous and excited at the same time! Today I will most likely (according to my husband who has crowns) be getting temporary crowns put on my two front teeth...two perfectly good teeth by the way, except for the ugly stains from having taken the tetracycline anti-biotic when I was a little girl, before they knew what it would do to children's teeth.

I have been pretty self conscious of my stained teeth since I was old enough to care about my looks...and boys :) I never really looked into getting them fixed, since I figured it would cost thousands of dollars, so I learned to love and accept myself for who I am and how I look. I managed to snag a handsome husband, who later revealed to me that yes, he did notice my stained teeth, but it wasn't enough to turn him off (of course I am also deaf too, and that didn't deter him either!). I know beauty is more than skin deep, my life is living proof of that, but sometimes a gift lands smack dab in your lap when you least expect it! As I have mentioned in a earlier post, we have excess money in my husbands FSA account that needs to be spent by the end of the year. Part of it has already gone to an eye exam and new frames, but still there is much left (thank you Young Living Essential oils...but that is for another post). My new dentist happened to ask me about getting crowns to cover my stained teeth or rather just the ones that are really noticeable, and thought my insurance might cover them. So I agreed to see if they would, but alas it turned out they did not. My husband saw how much it would cost for two of them and said we had plenty in our FSA to cover them so here I am...nervous and excited! Two will be done this year on my two front teeth, next year we will do two more, my canines.

If you look closely, you can see what I mean about my's not that bad and I admit it, but I have a chance to cover it so I'm going to take it!

Please wish me luck and I will post some after pictures when the procedure is done!

Have you ever had crown put on for cosmetic reasons? I'd love to hear your stories!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Busy Thanksgiving Weekend!

It's Monday and I'm having a hard time getting back to my regular routine, I just want to sleep...sleep and digest all the food I ate over the weekend :)

I had a wonderful time with my family, my brother Frank and his wife Jennifer, who are expecting their first child in March of next year, came down from Virginia. My sister Eileen and her husband, Derek and their two cute little girls also came down from Santa Clara. They were able to come for Thanksgiving but unfortunately will not be down for we had Thanksgiving/Birthdays/X-mas/Baby shower all wrapped up in one weekend (not all in one day mind you). We did not do a full on X-mas, just our Secret Santa gifts among the adults and the kids got to open a few presents early.

What big eyes your turkey has, Sophie! My brother-in-law Derek with his daughter (my niece) Sophie.

My husband, Eric helping our daughter, Eilan with her turkey.

Gifts for my brother Frank and his wife Jennifer, since we won't see them until next year :(

Jennifer is positively glowing!

My niece Annie Bananie (OK, it's just Annie), isn't she just so cute!

"Auntie, are you stalking me?" Yes, my little Annie Bananie I was stalking you, your just too cute!

The boys (Kade, Aiden and Mattias) trying to get Annie to come over to them, by tempting her with a turkey.

"Please don't tell Mommy on me"

The next day we got together again for the Birthdays and a little X-mas.

My sister-in-law Camilla with her daughter (my niece) Madison and her Birthday gift, she loves horses!

My brother Garmon...just being Garmon :)

My sister Eileen, made and decorated these cupcakes for the Birthday people.

Aiden, Mattias (my nephew) and Kade, patiently waiting to devour a cupcake.

My brother Garmon and the princesses, Eilan, Madison and Sophie.

The princesses enjoying their cupcakes and ice cream.

Breaking out the leftover pie and ice brother Frank, Kade, Eric, my brother Corey and Camilla.

Sophie opening one of her early X-mas gifts...a Princess Dress Up Chest.
Mattias, Kade, Grandma Bekkee, Camilla and Eilan

Sophie getting help from her mom, my sister Eileen.

Wow, a princess! Sophie and Eilan

Kade is happy and excited about his new toy!

Aiden can't wait to tear open the packaging and fly his!

Eilan with her new princess Glo Doodle, it's very neat!

I'd love to hear how your Thanksgiving weekend went!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies!

I am thankful for God and his Son and his perfect plan of salvation, for all the blessings he has bestowed upon me and my family, for his love, guidance and protection and that his love and mercy is boundless!

May you all have a wonderful, happy, cozy, healthy Thanksgiving full of laughter and delicious food with your loved ones!

Here is a yummy cookie recipe...

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies (adapted from a recipe by George Duran of the Food Network)

1 C. (2 sticks) of butter, unsalted, softened
1 C. white sugar
1 C. light brown sugar (I used 1 1/4 C. of Palm/Coconut sugar)
2 Large eggs
1 tsp. of vanilla extract
1 can (15 oz) or 1 1/2 C. of pureed pumpkin
3 C. of gluten-free all purpose flour blend ( I used Namaste Perfect Flour Blend)
2 tsp. of baking soda
1/2 tsp. of salt
1/2 - 1 tsp. of cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. of pumpkin pie spice (or only 1 if you like the spice flavor more subdued)
2 C. of gluten-free chocolate chips (milk chocolate is recommended by George Duran, but I used semi sweet)
Parchment paper

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheet(s) with parchment or spray with non-stick spray.

Using a mixer, beat butter until smooth. Beat in the white and brown sugars, a little at a time, until the mixture is light and fluffy (may not happen with the palm/coconut sugar and that's OK). Beat in the eggs one at a time, then mix in vanilla and pumpkin puree. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. Slowly beat the flour mixture into the batter. Stir in the chocolate chips. Scoop the cookie dough by heaping tablespoons onto the prepared cookie sheet(s) and bake for 11 to 17 minutes or until cookies are browned around the edges. Let cool for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire rack with a spatula.

These are very light and airy and cake like, not your usual crisp cookie...very delicious!! I'd love to hear what you think of them!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Visiting the Optometrist

A few days ago I had an eye check up at my local Costco Optometrist, we have money in my husbands FSA account that needs to be spent on medical related things, so this is one of many that will take place till the end of the year.

I remember the first time I went to an optometrist all alone as a adult, it was a bit nerve wracking, but I was determined to do it and I did. My motivation was to acquire a pair of very trendy, cool looking glasses that would be sure to make me look beautiful, cool, confident, smart and I'm sure many more thoughts like that were going through my young, vain brain.

Now when talking to people who do not know me or that I am hearing impaired, I don't usually tell them right away that I am deaf, I like to see how the conversation goes and if the need arises, I tell them. Talking to the receptionist was easy enough at first, she looked at me and talked straight at me, giving me a form to fill out, then she proceeded to look for my file behind this large bookshelf and I had a sinking feeling she was talking to me behind the bookshelf. Ever alert (as most deaf people need to be or least that is how I am) I was watching for her and sure enough she peeked from the side of the bookshelf and asked me what my first name was, it was then that I felt I should tell her about being deaf as she might continue talking to me behind the bookshelf. After I told her, I could see her face change from focused, determined to friendly and embarrassed, she apologized profusely and I told her it wasn't a problem, that I just needed to be able to read her lips when she talked to me. Relieved, she asked me the questions that she needed and proceeded to prepare my file for the optometrist. Now for the optometrist, he came out of his office, took my file and started walking back into his office and I could vaguely hear him talking, he turned around and was looking for someone (me) and then called my name, I sheepishly stood up and let him know I was hearing impaired and that I needed to read his lips, his face also changed, going from confused to smiling and reassuring which in turn reassured me and put my fears at ease. This is the difficult part...sitting down in the seat with this huge contraption in front of my face where he has to turn a series of lenses to get the right prescription and he says "One or two?" and his lips (or face for that matter) are not in my line of vision just a series of letters on the wall. Luckily I can hear and discern some speech using my hearing aid only ( my comprehension without the lip reading is a  measly 13%) and I knew from previous experience that he was going to say one and two so I needed to focus on listening for those words. He spoke loud and clearly and I was able to hear the words without much problem, so the hardest part went pretty smoothly...whew! I received the good news that there was no change in my prescription and my eyes were healthy...yay! Now comes the fun part, I took the yellow paper with my prescription information next door where many stylish frames were on display and tried on different frames till I found one that I felt made me look beautiful, cool, confident...wait a minute...I'm not that deluded anymore :)

Friday, November 19, 2010

ICAP Field Trip- San Juan Capistrano Mission

ICAP is a Charter School that my kids go to once a week to supplement their homeschooling curriculum. We feel this combination gives our kids a more well rounded education. This semester, both of my boys are taking History classes and my younger son is learning about California History, hence the purpose of our field trip.

My younger son, Aiden (with some of his classmates) is second from left and my oldest son, Kade is the one in orange shielding his eyes. Eilan my daughter is standing next to him at the end.
 I remember visiting this very Mission as a young child on a school field trip as well. It was nice to be able to take my kids and re explore this beautiful historical site. I love the look of the old buildings and the gorgeous designs that were painted on the walls, doors and ceilings...they just don't make things like that anymore!

They allowed the children to touch and play with animal pelts, toys and costumes...they loved that!

My husband helping our daughter figure out how to use one of the toys.

Wouldn't Eilan have made such a cute little Indian?

There were beautiful gardens and flowers all around the Mission as well as fountains containing Koi fish (this was also a big hit among the kids).

We very much enjoyed our glimpse of California history! If you are ever in the area of San Juan Capistrano, stop by and pay them a visit.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dung Balls! (Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls)

Sorry for the title, I hope it didn't cause you to lose your appetite, my younger son took one look at these delicious balls and proceeded to tell me they looked like dung balls so I couldn't resist ;-)

I love the show "The Biggest Loser" it is so inspiring watching those people work their rears off to get healthier. I know It really encourages me to get off my own rear and eat better too! I'm not a fan of low fat (unless it is naturally low in fat) or non fat foods, I believe whole foods are the best way to go. I also do not use artificial sweeteners like Splenda, so I'm leery of the cookbooks that are put out by "The Biggest Loser". I came across their newest cookbook "The Biggest Loser Dessert Cookbook" and found the recipes in it quite versatile, meaning I can sub the non fat or low fat dairy products and whatnot with their whole fat, whole food counterparts quite easily. Devon Alexander is at her best in this one!

Here is one of the recipes from the book that I have tried and love...

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls by Devon Alexander in "The Biggest Loser Dessert Cookbook"

1/2 C. + 2 TBSP of Old Fashioned Oats ( I used Gluten-Free Oats by Bob's Red Mill)
2 TBSP of honey
2 TBSP of unsweetened cocoa powder
1 TBSP of all-natural creamy peanut butter

Add oats, honey, cocoa powder, and peanut butter to a medium mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer fitted with beaters, mix until well combined. Lay a large square of wax paper on a cutting board or flat work surface. Using your hands, divide the mixture into equal portions (the mixture will be sticky), and place on the paper. Roll each portion into a ball. Serve immediately or store on the counter top in a resealable container for up to 3 days.

Steph's Tips: I recommend doubling or tripling the recipe (after you have made them and like them first). If you do this, then put the ingredients in a Kitchenaid type mixer otherwise using the mixer and beaters will make the mixture fly out all over the counter. Instead of dividing the mixture into equal portions, I just pull a small amount out and roll into balls and place on the wax paper.

Also you can use almond, sunbutter or any other nut butter you love in place of the peanut butter.

My husband would like to add a decorating tip...he thought it would be fun to add plastic dung beetles around the table top or around the dish containing the balls...cute huh?!

Don't worry they are far from tasting like dung ;-)

Finding Humor in Homeschooling

I frequently check out The Pioneer Woman blog written by Ree Drummand, I love her sense of humor it reminds me of myself, she however, really lets it all out... in a good way! As a home school Mom, I can relate to this post of's an hilarious way to vent frustration that can inevitably build during the school year ( OK, I would not actually do this, but you'll get a good laugh I promise).

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Roasted Vegetables

I have been on a roasted vegetable jag this past week, it's a delicious way to get more vegetables into my diet. It's also a tasty way to use up any vegetables you have laying around so they don't go to waste. The best combination in my opinion is:

Potatoes or sweet potatoes
Carrots (I like baby carrots, no chopping required)
Red Onion (you can use any onion you like, red onions are my favorite)
Broccoli (optional, but so delicious when roasted)
Beets (optional, so full of fiber and delicious!)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium or large bowl, depending on how much you are making, add your vegetables after you have peeled and chopped them (peeling is not absolutely necessary). When all the vegetables have been added to the bowl, drizzle olive oil (enough to coat) over them, then drizzle some balsamic vinegar as well. Add plenty of salt (several good size pinches depending on how much you are roasting) and some pepper. With your hands mix them all together to coat evenly. Have a baking sheet nearby covered with some parchment paper, pour onto parchment and spread out evenly. Bake for 20-30 min. depending on how much you are roasting. After 20-30 min. take out baking sheet and with spatula, mix the vegetables around a little, then put back in oven for another 20 min., they should look nice and caramelized and smell wonderful!

I love the savory, sweet flavors, it makes me feel all warm and happy inside...perfect comfort food! I would love to hear what some of your favorite combinations of veggies to roast are!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

How I lost my hearing

It's natural for humans to be curious and I've never been offended by someone asking me how I came to lose my hearing. In fact I love to talk, I talk too much, that it gets me into trouble sometimes but, I digress...I was not born deaf, but it does run in the family on my mother's side, most of her family wear hearing aids. However only my mother, myself and my sister lost our hearing when we were children. I have two brothers in their thirties who have not been affected at all and we have a theory for seems to only happen to the O blood types, my brothers are blood type A like my Dad. My mother and her family are blood type O as I and my sister are...pretty interesting isn't it?

Because I was not born deaf, I learned to talk well as a baby, my paternal Grandmother used to tell me I would imitate the roosters that crowed in the morning. When I was two, I came down with Rosiola and developed a high fever that went above 106 degrees, I was taken to the hospital and put in a tub and flushed with alcohol. They were able to get my fever down thankfully, but my audiologists feel this incident caused me to lose my hearing at a very young age (my mother and sister were around the age of 11 when they lost theirs).  I was four years old when my parents noticed that while talking to me when my back was turned, I would not hear them. They finally took me to have my hearing tested and I was found to have profound hearing loss and would need the help of a hearing aid. Now 35 years ago technology was not as it is today, unfortunately the hearing aid was not well fitted and I was only four years old, I didn't know any better. I ended up losing even more hearing because of that. It is at this time that I naturally learned how to read lips, from just watching people's lips as they talked.

There were times when I was not very happy with my parents decision to send me to public school. It was challenging sometimes to say the least, but I made many memories...good and bad...made many friends who helped support me and get me through the tough times. I had some wonderful teachers who went out of their way to give me a little extra attention and of course some who felt I should be treated as any other student, because life isn't fair and you have to either sink or swim.

With the help of a hearing aid, I can hear almost normal, however I am very reliant on the lip reading, my comprehension without it is terrible. I've had many people ask if I know sign language, but I don't, I would love to learn though. I am delighted that technology is making life a little easier for deaf people, we have closed captioning, subtitles for movies, texting features on our cell all helps tremendously!

 I'm thankful for all the experiences that I've had in life, it has shaped me into who I am today...a good person ( I hope). I am happy, I have a wonderful life and I don't have any regrets!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Time to break the vicious cycle

"Insanity- doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." Albert Einstein

This quote really resonates with me because I know I do this in so many areas of my life. Now at age 40, I am obese and experiencing some very scary health problems, if I continue to stay on this loop trail, I'm not going to make it much longer. I have so much to live for, my husband, my young children and just plain life. I want to live!

I finished reading "Dr. Bob's Drugless Guide to Balance Female Hormones" By Dr. Robert DeMaria, he mentions that if we don't change our eating habits, how can we expect our health to change. Too many people, myself included, want the magic pill, that will make us healthier and cure all our ailments, because we have developed so many poor eating habits that it's too hard to change.

I am making the choice right here and now, that I'm not going to continue eating ice cream, brownies, cookies, white bread, french loafs and cake and expect myself to be in excellent health. I plan to practice Dr. Bob's eating recommendations to balance hormones since mine are pretty out of whack! I have hypothyroidism, my progesterone is low, I had to take natural progesterone during each of my pregnancies and lost one because I did not know I was pregnant and didn't get on the progesterone in time. I have been plagued with acne since I was in high school. I thought one of the benefits of getting older was that the acne would go such luck for me ;-)

I will be cutting out gluten, dairy and refined sugar and adding more vegetables and healthy fats to my diet. It will not be easy, but I am very motivated right now, I want to live, Lord willing, to see my children grow up, attend their weddings and meet my future grandchildren. I would also love to travel the world with my husband after he retires.

Come join me on my journey to health, break the vicious cycles in your life, let's live life to the fullest!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Delicious, healthy toppings for your yogurt.

Now that you've made some crock pot yogurt or you have some of your favorite plain store bought yogurt, what do you do with it? Good news, your options are boundless! Here are some of my ideas that you may find tempting...

1. Sweetener- I have found liquid types like raw or regular honey, agave and liquid stevia to be best for yogurt since they blend well and keep the yogurt texture nice and creamy. Granulated sugars will be gritty, however stevia powder may work. I personally like NuNaturals Pure Liquid Vanilla Stevia (can be found online at iherb or in certain health food stores), it has a very nice vanilla flavor and is not bitter.

2. Fruit- Any fresh or frozen fruit can be a topping for your yogurt. If you have some fresh strawberries (if frozen set them out to thaw for a bit) put a cup of them in your food processor and pulse a few times if you like them chunky or longer if you want a nice, smooth puree. Add some honey, agave or stevia to sweeten the strawberries to your liking then add to your yogurt. Fruits like raspberries or blackberries have seeds that can bother your teeth, so puree them in your food processor or blender then strain the juice through a fine mesh wire strainer.

3. Essential Oils- Adding pure, food grade Essential oils can be a delicious and healthy way of flavoring your yogurt. I would only flavor the amount you will be eating right away, as EO's are naturally anti-bacterial and may effect the beneficial bacteria of your yogurt. Lemon and Orange are wonderful flavors...and I recommend using Young Living's pure, food grade EO's, they can be found on my Young Living website.

4. Nuts-Using your favorite nuts as a topping, adds a wonderful crunch and a pleasing, tasty layer of texture as well as a source of beneficial, heart-healthy fats.

Here are a couple of my recipes to get you started...

Baked Cinnamon Apples

Organic Braeburn Apples (or your favorite kind)
Hormone free butter
Cinnamon sugar (see recipe for this here)

Preheat your oven to 400 Degrees. Use 1 TBSP of butter for each regular size apple, if using small apples like I did, use a approx. 1/2 TBSP of butter for each one. Use a TBSP of Cinnamon Sugar for each regular size apple and only 1/2 TBSP for the small ones.

Peel and slice your apples in thin slices, here I'm using my Apple, Corer, Peeler, it! You'll end up with these little, cored out, spiral sliced apples.

Slice them in half and you'll end up with crescent shaped apple slices...perfect!

Put all your apple slices in a bowl and melt your butter either on the stove or in the microwave for approx. 30 seconds. Pour melted butter over the slices as my oldest son is demonstrating here.

Sprinkle your Cinnamon Sugar over the buttered apple slices. My daughter is helping her Mommy with that.

Here is my younger son mixing it all together. Are you detecting a trend? Yep, this is perfect for kids to help make, it's fun and tasty!

Pour the contents of the bowl in a 13" x 9" baking pan. No need to butter the pan! Place in preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes, take out the pan, stir the apples and put back into oven. Bake for another 20 minutes.

Stick a sharp knife into apples to test for tenderness, if they pierce easily then the apples are done. Let sit and cool on the counter top, then...

top your sweetened yogurt with could add some nuts on top as well.

Blackberry Sauce

2 C. fresh or frozen blackberries
Your favorite sweetener ( I used 5 drops of NuNaturals Vanilla Stevia liquid)

Put blackberries in food processor or blender and blend till you have blackberry puree. Place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and pour your puree into the strainer. Using the back of a spoon, smoosh the puree through the strainer till all you have left is seeds...and there will be a lot of seeds! Add your sweetener to the blackberry sauce, adjusting as needed to your taste.

Spoon over yogurt, ice cream, oatmeal, etc...

Your taste buds will thank you, your body will thank you, your family will thank you...need I say more ;-)

What are some of your topping ideas?