Friday, December 20, 2013

EASIEST Broth EVER (Allergy Friendly)!!

I have come to love my crockpots dearly... & I now have 3 of them, after only having one for several years... yet all the while I really could have used 3 of them because I pretty much always using mine!

I have a 6 qt oval, a 6 quart round (it actually has 3 crocks to the set... so a 2 qt, 4 qt, & 6 qt, but I almost never use the med or sm ones, at least not for cooking but I do find myself using them to ferment pickles, etc.), & a 4 quart round.

One thing I have read over & over about is "old fashioned" bone broth & how healing it is to one's gut.  Healing the gut is especially important for anyone trying to heal their gut from damage caused by a food intolerance, medication, etc.

So here you go... the EASIEST broth ever.. seriously, it IS!!  If you don't have a crock pot you can make it stove top & simmer it on low for several hours (or less time if you need it ready sooner), but will obviously have to watch it more closely.


- chicken or turkey carcass, beef bones, fish heads & scraps, etc.
- water
- vinegar (optional)
- salt (optional)
- herbs (optional)


  1.  If using poultry or smaller beef bones, crack them open w/pliers or your hand to allow the marrow to seep into the broth - that's good stuff!
  2. Once cracked open put your carcass (the skin, fat, fatty meat, etc. that you wouldn't normally eat), drippings (from cooking the chicken or turkey originally if you don't use them all up for gravy, etc.), and bones (or fish heads & fish scraps, which don't require cracking open to my knowledge) into your crockpot (size can vary, don't stress about it at all!)
  3. Add water to about an inch below the rim of the crockpot (or stock pot)
  4. Add 1-2 TBSP of vinegar (white or apple cider both work) to draw the nutrients out of the bones; can omit if desired
  5. Add some salt, if desired (I tend to add the salt to the meal I am making from the broth instead of while making the actual broth, unless we will be drinking the broth as-is)
  6. Herbs, if desired (I usually add mine & let them sit in the broth for about 5 minutes before serving the broth after I shut the crockpot or stove off, which helps them not to get overcooked to the point where there is no flavor imparted from them)
  7. Turn the crockpot on low or high for several hours until is reaches the desired taste, color, etc. 
  8. Once finished strain out the carcass, bones, skin, etc; if you have pets be sure to break the bones up, they will crumble easily between your fingers if you squeeze them after they have simmered, but if they don't crumble easily do NOT give them any pet so as not to create an impalement or choking hazard.
  9.  ENJOY!!  

Didn't I tell you it's super easy?!  Ahhhhh, REAL broth ready to drink as-is or to be used in a soup, casserole, gravy, etc.!!

- There is no right or wrong really to the size of crock pot, etc.  You will find what works for you after making it a time or two.  I tend to let mine simmer for 12-24 hours in a crockpot. 

- If you want it to gel once it cools, then use less water.  If you don't care about it thickening up, then feel free to use more water freely.  

- If you desire the broth to gel up but want to make a lot of broth, you could also use 2-3 carcasses if using a smaller roasting bird (in order to have 2-3 at the same time, you can freeze the carcasses after you  until you have however many you want & throw them right into the crockpot frozen; I would break the bones open BEFORE freezing though to avoid trying to break open frozen bones)

<3 Mama Lee <3

Do YOU make broth from scratch??  Have YOU ever made bone broth??  What is YOUR favorite broth to make??  

Be sure to come back & let me know how you like your broth!!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

REVIEW: Safe & Natural Products By M & M Soaps

Is everyone busy getting ready for Thanksgiving??  Have you started your Christmas shopping??  We are getting ready for Thanksgiving dinner around here.  I've also started shopping & creating Christmas gifts for the grandparents in our lives.  I hope to get those completed ASAP so I can make a few things for the Lee kiddos.  We'll see how far I get.

We've have got a very busy December ahead with birthdays, crafting, a Christmas program & practices for the kids, etc.  The funny thing is, I was SOOO naive in thinking December wouldn't be as busy as October & November... seriously, WHAT was I thinking?!

Enough about me, right now I have some FANTASTIC products to tell you about that are creations of Arianna Mojica from M & M Soaps

My gift package arrived beautifully wrapped
I was given the blessing of a goody box from M & M Soaps.  Their slogan is "Nourish Your Skin From The Outside In" & they stand very true to that by using all natural ingredients, without any harmful fillers or additives.  They use high quality ingredients that will not only not harm your skin, they won't harm your body either!  Such products are very rare these days; especially ones that won't break the bank.

One VERY IMPORTANT thing to keep in mind is that our skin is the largest organ of the body & whatever we out on our skin will be absorbed into our bloodstream & then enter our other organs.  Think about that the next time you lather up, spritz perfume on, paint your fingernails, or apply your deodorant.

If you are using big name brand products right now, you may never see them the same if you really stop to think about the harmful effect such things can have on your overall health.  I know I sure thought differently after I read & finally UNDERSTOOD the product labels of things I had been using for years & years.  Honestly, I was upset when I realized what I had been dumping into my body day after day, year after year! 

Don't lose hope though, as we can help our bodies to heal just by reducing the toxin load, & we can further facilitate healing by replacing products that contain dangerous ingredients with ones that use safe & truly natural ingredients.

A good rule of thumb in the natural health community is that if you can't EAT it, don't WEAR it!  Now, I know as much as anybody that if there is a tight budget to adhere to (& who doesn't have a tight budget these days?!), that "rule" may be harder to follow.  For me & my family I try my best to buy the healthiest products I can within our budget.

I now make a lot most of what we use, so that really helps the budget.  I also do my absolute best to minimize & get only what we really need, so that I can have the budget capacity to buy the best products (or supplies to make products) I can within our means.

I no longer use things like perfume, hair spray, mousse, gel, lipstick, or body spritz, not only to cut down on our toxin load intake, but also to ease the budget to allow for the healthy versions of what are true necessities for our family... you may find you need (or just plain want) hair spray, lipstick, etc. & that is okay.. find what works for you!  I would suggest you look into the safest brand & formulation you can reasonably afford and/or trying to make your own to cut down your toxin load intake.

With things that we mist on, spray on, & breathe in we must be very careful as well.  Remember baby powder that was used on babies after every diaper change?!  Well, there is a reason they stopped recommending it & now even STRONGLY ADVISE AGAINST it... it is unsafe because the particles become airborne when applied & are then ingested into babies' lungs as well as those of everyone  in the vicinity.  Hair spray, body spray, & perfume all are airborne so you may want to reconsider if you really need them, & if so, if you can find a healthier alternative such as something homemade.

Some people claim it is too expensive to buy "safe" deodorant, shampoo, toothpaste, etc.  I can tell you that I have personally found many sources of "safe" versions of many cosmetics, toiletries, etc. for the same price or even cheaper than products chock full of toxic ingredients, so rest assured it surely CAN be done!!  I utilize online shopping for most of said items unless I make them myself, & then I usually order the ingredients online.

For my family it has been a s-l-o-w process buying things little by little.  Some months I will find a recipe for something I want to make, but it is not in the budget to spend the money to buy all of the ingredients at once, so I may even buy them over 2-4 months to avoid going over budget.  No matter how great something may be, it is not worth the stress of blowing the budget.

Anyway, back to the awesome products at M & M Soaps.  I was provided with some wonderful products to review: Clay Facial Soap, Chamomile Lavender Swirl Soap, Chai Tea Soap, a cupcake soap in cinnamon, & whipped shea butter.

I find their prices to be pretty reasonable, especially for the quality of the products & all of the love put each into each & every handmade product.    

The soaps are fantastic!  Not only are they beautiful, but they are long lasting, safe, & natural.  I love that their facial soap gently exfoliates my ((gasp)) aging skin, yet doesn't leave it feeling dry or tight.  

Doesn't that look YUMMY?!
The cupcake soap was the last to be used because it was absolutely too cute to use, but no worries, in the name of research & reviewing I used it.  Some of my children actually thought I was lying about it being SOAP, it was THAT pretty & realistic.  I think one of them may have even licked it when I turned my back because I saw some tongue wiping going on when I turned back around?!  Even the kids thought it was too pretty to use, but once I used it first they were more than happy to lather their hands with it.

The whipped shea butter had a fantastic, lemon-lime scent; one that was not overpowering or fake by any means, but one that greatly appealed to my sensitive nose.

I love infused products that are truly naturally scented because they don't give me a headache like the ones that can only CLAIM to be "naturally" scented.  I know if something is a fake within moments of smelling it because I will develop a headache instantaneously.  No headaches at all from the M & M products.  That is a huge plus for me, & you will not be disappointed if you try them too!

I asked Arianna to give me an intro so you can "meet" the woman behind the products:

"My name is Arianna and I am a mother, wife, teacher & healer who strives daily to live life aligned. I create healing soaps & related products using only what is in nature. My aim is to reach those that seek healthier beauty options.  We pride ourselves in the fact that we deliberately avoid the use of synthetic lab fragrances and colorants. We only use therapeutic grade essential oils as scents and we only use clays, herbs, minerals, botanicals, fruits and vegetables to add color to our creations. Our mission is a simple one... to provide you with a soap bar that is nourishing and healing to your skin from the outside in!"
 If you are in the market for any handmade soaps, lotions, shaving bars, salves, lotion bars, deodorants, and much more, be sure to check our M & M Soaps and tell them Mama Lee sent you!

They have many unique items so you may even want to keep them in mind while you do your Christmas shopping.  They have some DIY kits too for making your own healthy salves, lotion bars, & scrubs for those who would like to try their hand at making some great products without having to track down ingredients.  The kits even include the molds to make the soaps and/or containers for the finished salve.  If they are out of stock on something, be sure to contact Arianna directly to get what you need.

Now why don't you head on over to M & M Soaps to find some yummy goodies for someone on your Christmas list... or even for yourself?!

Don't forget to like them on Facebook, Twitter, and Google!!

Happy Thanksgiving,
<3 Mama Lee <3

What kinds of products do you use??  Are you trying to replace any of your current products with safer alternatives??  What products do you like at M & M Soaps??

** I was provided the some sample products for my review.  I was not paid for my review & the opinions shared are my own. **

Friday, November 22, 2013

EASY Cheesy Potatoes - Gluten Free, Grain Free, Allergen Friendly

Being a mama, & sometimes one who gets wrapped up in a project or task longer than originally anticipated, I sometimes rely on quick fixes for meals and main dishes.  Having to feed a family around food sensitivities drastically limits what I can quick quickly, or at least if I don't want to cook from a box or can't afford to.  Have you ever priced those crazy expensive
See the cheesy goodness?!
gluten free entrees and/or snacks?!  YIKES!!  Sure they are GF, but come on, how is a growing family (or any family on a tight budget) supposed to afford them?!  We'd need a crazy amount of them to feed us, & if I am going to spend that kind of money for one meal just for the entree, even for a quickie one, I am going to eat OUT and have a break all together.

Anyway, one thing we have gone back to eating is potatoes.  Before we had to go GF we had greatly reduced our potato intake because of varying information I had read about potatoes & the poor impact on health.  After we had to go GF & having to eliminate so many other foods from our menu, I decide to give potatoes another shot. 

Truth is that we LOVE potatoes of all kinds!  I have also since found other information that supports the fact that potatoes can be healthy, very healthy in fact.  I honestly think that since no 2 people are exactly alike, no diet, food, etc. will impact every person the same way and we don't experience any known negative issues after eating potatoes, so we will continue to enjoy them in moderation.

Oh yes, back to the recipe.  You will not even believe just how easy this is, as long as your potatoes are already precooked.  If not, this is still a super easy recipe, you just have to wait for the potatoes to cook first.  Patience, my friend, patience! 

You can use potatoes that have been precooked various methods - baked, pan friend, steamed, & even mashed!  We tend to like to get as much of the peel off if we use baked potatoes (unless the potatoes are organic) since they are on the "dirty dozen" food list, but feel free to leave the skin on, if that is your preference. 

Once the potatoes have been precooked you are ready to go!  Sometimes we will even bake the potatoes a few days ahead of time (& store them in the fridge after they are cooked) for this recipe so we are ready to go without any long wait time.  When we use baked potatoes we will break them apart with our hands as we add them to the pan.

This is a very forgiving recipe & we do everything based upon looks, from making this so many times, so I don't have any exact measurements. 

It is so easy to cook this & is also a great dish to allow a younger chef (a tween or teen) to prepare and help introduce them to cooking because of it being so forgiving, requiring little stove time, & the fact that it is quite delicious so no fear of messing it up!

This can be made dairy free (& other allergen free) by using oil instead of butter, & by using non-dairy "cheese" in place of dairy based cheese.


1. cooked potatoes (diced, baked, sliced, mashed, etc.) - feel free to fill up that pan!
2. coconut oil, butter, etc. - depends upon how many potatoes
3. salt - to taste
4. spices (cilantro, parsley, pepper, etc.) - as desired


1. Heat the oil or melt the butter in a skillet or frying pan

2.  Add the potatoes & heat through thoroughly (feel free to drizzle more butter & oil onto the potatoes to get the desired consistency & taste you'd like)

3. Sprinkle mozzarella, cheddar, etc. cheese on top of the potatoes & heat until melted

4. Once the cheese is melted, add salt (& spices, if desired) to taste

I like to serve this with a salad, and/or steamed green beans or broccoli, and sometimes a nice loaf of GF bread depending upon which meal it is being served for.


<3 Mama Lee <3

Do YOU like potatoes??  What is your favorite way to prepare potatoes??  Do you think you will try this??

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Babywearing Benefits: Part 1

Before our 1st child was born we registered for a front pack type of baby carrier.  My first experience with it was when our oldest was just about two weeks old & Mr. Lee had to go back to work.  I still remember the sheer terror of being left ALONE with this perfect, helpless, yet needy little creation.

I quickly found out that ALL she required was breastmilk, a clean/dry diaper, & being in my arms.  I also quickly found out how that meant I was NOT going to get anything done other than holding her.  She was our first (you know, the one you make all your mistakes with so you can do better next time, should God ever bless you with any more children... not that you MEAN to make mistakes, but it just seems to work out that way, no?!) & I was WAY different then.  For starters I pushed myself way faster to get into the groove that everybody ELSE placed on me, rather than finding OUR groove, as a new expanded family unit.  That involved going to church & the store after 2 weeks and trying to be super mom, wife, & house keeper all in one.  Enter in that baby carrier we had registered for.

Remember how I said the baby was only two WEEKS old?!  Well, picture this... new mama, sweating bullets trying to care for her newborn AND make dinner because she needed to prove herself worth of the new awesome responsibility of not only being wife & mama, but a stay-at-home wife & mama for the first time EVER.

Let's face it!  People just expect so much of women & moms, and I was quickly finding out that they certainly expected far too much out of a stay-at-home-mama.  Only back then I had no idea that was THEIR issue & not mine.. NOW I do & NOW I know Mr. Lee has very reasonable expectations for our family and he would not give me any grief if our house looked like a laundry bomb went off as long as the kids were properly cared for (which they always are, of course!!).  But then, I just felt so much pressure, even though now I have far greater responsibility not only having more blessings now, but far more chores, cooking most everything from scratch, school work, etc.

Okay, so back to my first day alone.  I very vividly recall that "all" I accomplished was caring for the baby all day long... nursing every hour even though each feeding would take 30-45 minutes because she was a lazy nurser (& trying to sleep off her epidural still... like I said, I was a completely different person then... but that experience taught me so much... like how much I NEEDED to birth at home after that) who liked to suckle & snooze, but if I ever dared to try & pry her off my breast, well, let's just say I didn't because our bundle of joy made it clear that was NOT an option!  So I pulled out that baby carrier... strapped it on my chest & decided to skip reading the directions because dinner was going to burn on the stove... and since I have always been pretty technically inclined I usually figure more out how to use something just by diving in than reading those pesky directions.

Well, as straightforward as that carrier was things just did not go smoothly with it.  My 2 week old 9 POUND baby was TOO BIG for it... WHAT?!  Yeah, that's what I said... so the dinner I thought I was going to get to finish making was soon neglected because then my greatest need was trying to figure out how to get my newborn OUT of the carrier... perhaps those pesky directions would have helped, but I doubt it... that carrier was just too small, end of story... But since my child was a NEWBORN & the carrier supposedly went to 25lbs, I was determined it was going to work.

Well, guess who walked in from his first day back at work after becoming a daddy & the the first thing he had to do was help new mama get the baby out of the carrier she had the baby wedged into... who was also fussing (baby not mama.. LOL)?!  Talk about feeling incompetent... sheesh!!  I took that carrier back to the store a few days later & decided no more of those dumb things for me after I had such a bad experience... I felt my arms were a much better & safer option.

Since my precious wee one wanted to be with mama & in my arms, pretty much every waking moment, I was able to get little else done because she also decided that naps were just NOT her thing unless she was IN MY ARMS.  I knew she would soon be past that stage & tried to cherish it as much as I could... the time was precious... my baby & me...

As much as I tried to cherish those hours, days, weeks, & months of baby holding, that nagging from those around me and the unrealistic expectations they out on me as a stay-at-home wife & mama were stressful.  They made me feel lazy & guilty because there Mr. Lee was out making the money & "ALL" I was doing was taking care of a baby... surely I should be doing more than all day long.

One thing I am so grateful for is that I new enough, even being a new mom, to trust my instincts no matter what others around me would say.  Mr. Lee always was & always is very supportive and involved in hands-on, intentional parenting.  So there was never anything he said or did that made me feel guilty, but rather those on the outside.  At that time, pretty much most of our friends our age didn't have children yet, so I really didn't have a lot of understanding people to talk to.

Some of the best advice came from my mom, who was (& always is) very supportive of me & the way we were raising our new family member.  She said that being a stay-at-home mom of one child is so hard because YOU are their EVERYTHING... there are no siblings to entertain them & play with them, it is ALL YOUALL. DAY. LONG!  She also knew how unsupportive so many people were of moms, especially stay-at-home-moms, & it meant the world to me that she would listen & encourage me.

One day I met a new friend at church.. she had an older child & also a child the age of my first.  She was a tremendous blessing to me & she came into my life at the perfect time.  It wasn't that my mom wasn't good enough, but somehow having someone else, not related to you, that can encourage you, support you, & understand where you are coming from meant so much.  One not related to you who didn't HAVE to love you & support you, like Mom does.

That friend also introduced me to a baby sling & made me stop timing every nursing and keeping track (via pen & paper) of which side the baby nursed on.  Can we say Type A personality?!  Yep, baby was two months old & I was STILL timing & tracking her nursings.  Hey, what can I say?!  I had no idea how on earth I would know which side she'd need to nurse on unless I kept track of it with my trusty notebook & pen.  I also tracked how many wet & dirty diapers too... eeeks, that alone was enough to keep me busy all day since every time my baby ate, she pooped... EVERY TIME!!

Oh, yeah, back to the sling... there was seriously a halo around that woman, who became a good friend of mine.  She helped me to follow my God-given instincts to love, care for, & attend to my child without guilt & without shame.  If I had a bad day or confrontation, she was always there to give me a pep talk.  Anyway, one day she had me try her sling on.  I LOVED it!  My baby HATED it, but I was very excited at the idea of being able to both attend to my baby's needs (without having to leave her alone to cry for mama) AND do some chores, since clean laundry & food in our bellies was a nice thing.  I liked my friend's sling so much & then found one for sale on eBay for myself.

I tried for a while to get the baby to like the sling & she got to the point where she would tolerate it for a while, which was a huge blessing, but it wasn't until she was 8 months old that I actually felt confident enough to leave the house & nurse her in public (aside from being at my friend's house or at chuch).  See, not only was I harassed for not doing enough, but I was shamed for nursing.  Yes, you read it right, I was shamed for feeding my baby!

A couple of times I actually got enough nerve up to go to a store with just the baby & me, I was actually told I needed to go into a bathroom to nurse, gawked at, & given nasty looks by store employees.  I did speak up, even asking for a supervisor at one store, but I was tripping over my words & had tears in my eyes, so I am sure I looked like a weirdo!

Don't worry, for our second baby & the others after, I was well equipped with a PRINTED copy of the state's breastfeeding law, & while I never actually had to pull it out to support my claims about my right to nurse in public, I was ready to.  I even printed out the laws from other states if we were ever going to go out of state.  In fact, I even did that a few years ago.

At present I would just tell anybody they would be hearing from my lawyer (which I would have to hire, shhhhhhhh!! LOL) if someone didn't refrain from continuing to harass me once I informed them of the state's law.  Currently, I think most people may glare, but not as many are quick to say anything directly to a nursing mother, or at least I have found that has changed dramatically over the years.  They may comment to someone WITH them, but usually don't have the nerve to say anything directly.  I am pretty much always so concerned with taking care of my nursling & any other children who may be out with us, that I really don't have time to notice if anybody else is staring at me or whispering about me.

Oh yeah, back to babywearing... there was a point I was getting to, so I will do that now.... I guess...

Babywearing was not only wonderful for helping me to get things done at home, but I found it also enabled me to be able to shop for groceries, and it was perfect because I could also nurse my baby while doing whatever else needed to be done.  Even though my newborn babywearing experience with my first child was a bust I didn't let that discourage me from meeting my baby's needs & from continuing to try to find what would work for me and my family.  I did hit a few roadblocks along the way, but I was finally able to navigate through them & reap the benefits of babywearing.

Aside from being able to grocery shop, get things done at home, nurse my baby, etc. while babywearing (or baby carrying rather, when my first attempts went awry to babywear), I also enjoyed extra bonding time and skin-to-skin contact (which helps regulate the baby's digestion, breathing, sleeping, etc., and it also helped extend the time frame between the return of mama's 1st post partum monthly cycle, which I am all about) with my baby; while my baby enjoyed a lot of quiet, alert time where she observed so much about me & the big world around her.  She also learned that she could trust me to meet her needs when she needed them met, not only when it was convenient.

I have since worn all of my babies, from birth through toddlerhood.  As my older toddlers transitioned into becoming preschoolers, I found that they have all liked knowing that they were getting bigger & older, yet there was always a place for them in mama's arms, sling, wrap, backpack, soft structured carrier, etc. if the need ever arose.  We are one of "those" families who always has a stroller with us, but the stroller usually has the diaper bag, snacks, etc. while the baby and/or toddler is being worn or carried.  There are times when baby may prefer the stroller for a bit, but overall all of the Lee kids have loved being worn (minus the first one who took a bit to adjust to it).

Throughout the years I have acquired a collection of baby carriers as I find that no two work exactly the same for every child & I have also been able to help other people try my carriers on & figure out which one may work for them.  While I have not tried every brand of every type of carrier, I have tried pretty much every style of carrier now.  Right now my favorite is a soft structured carrier (SSC), which is featured in a review post here: Boba 3G review.

 If you are new to parenthood or new to babywearing, my best advice is to hang in there & find something that works for you.  If your child is fussy in a carrier, they say to put them in & go walk around to get them used to it.  I find my little one gets really fussy while bring worn it is usually an indication they are fighting sleep & are usually happily, sound asleep in 2-3 minutes.

Have you ever worn a baby or child in a carrier??  If so, what is your favorite brand & model baby carrier??  Or do you tend to hold a baby or child instead of using a carrier??  Do you or your child prefer a stroller??         

Friday, November 15, 2013

Follow Up: Fun With A Phone Solicitor

YIKES!!  Three weeks have gone by since my last post.  I am still here, just even busier than usual.  We have some new things going on in our lives that have changed up our schedules, so we are now adjusting to a new "normal"... whatever "normal" means!! LOL  In addition to all of the activity craziness, I am now in birthday & Christmas mode, which entails making gifts for grandparents & great-grandparents, my children, Mr. Lee, etc.  Yes, busy, busy!!

Back to my post... one day my kids & I were sitting here when the phone rang.  Let me back up for a moment... a couple of nights prior to the phone ringing one of my children told me about a "stunt" they had read about in a book they thoroughly enjoy reading, The Best of Stuntology (NOT an affiliate link; it's just there for your enjoyment to check out the fun read :).  So 2 days later the phone rang.  I was actually sitting near it and could answer it.  I could plainly see it was a solicitor phone call & wasn't going to answer it at first... that is until I realized I had IMPORTANT research to do for my loyal blog readers.

If you recall my previous post Fun With A Phone Solicitor my loyal readers shared some tips about how to handle the pesky, annoying, intrusive phone calls.  While I LOVED one idea about handing the phone to a toddler, I realized that would probably not be ieal for my family because my youngest (who is able to talk on the phone) would probably say something I didn't want to be made public (not anything bad, but even something as innocent as a name and age) & that information could be misconstrued by someone falsely assuming my child was home alone.  I really didn't want to go there, so I opted for letting ME have fun on the phone instead.

The "stunt" involves answering the phone by speaking while not moving your tongue.  I chose to keep it down behind my bottom teeth & the words came out quite interesting, to say the least.  Here is how the phone call went... mind you my children were all staring at me wide-eyed wondering what on earth I was up to... the scene was quite hysterical because not only was I trying to keep my act up, but I was also trying not to laugh hysterically seeing my children's faces.

ME: Hewooohhhh!!

Solicitor: Uhm, is Miss Lewis there??


S: Uh, is Miss Lewis there??

ME: You have the wong numbah...


ME: You have the wong numbah!!

S: Uh, uh...

ME: WHAT?!  I can't heaaaaarrrrr yooooouhh!!!



No more calls from them... so far... we HAVE received numerous other automated solicitor phone calls, but none from actual live people... yet.  I am kind of looking forward to the next one.

I must say, the best part of it all, in addition to them FINALLY not calling me back at least 2-3 times a week for as long as I can remember, was the look on my children's faces.  When I hung up the phone there were high 5's & such excitement that Mama tried a "stunt" told to her by one of her children... who says parents don't listen & kids don't have good ideas?!

Well, I'd better run & get back to my exciting world of creating personalized gifts, amongst all of the everyday things already going on.  Speaking of which, on a side note... I am getting much better at creating said items, so I am hoping it won't take as long this year.  I make a whopping 18-20 personalized photo calendars that I design 100% on my own which I make with several different date sets, because while my family likes Mr. Lee's side of the family & vice versa, we don't all celebrate the same birthdays, etc.

I print them out at home on quality card stock bought at a warehouse store or Wal-Mart and purchase refurbished ink cartridges to bring the production cost way down.  I hand punch the hanging holes & the slots for binding combs, then I bind them at home too before packing them up to mail out.

Several years ago I was asked what I wanted for Christmas by my mom-in-law & I responded with, "A comb binder!!"  Not every woman hates gadgets & appliances as gifts... I much prefer underwear (the good kind that don't go in places they shouldn't... like Fruit of the Loom or Hanes Her Way, bikini style... the ONLY time I wear bikini anything! LOL :), measuring spoons, pots & pans, paper cutters, & hole punchers to jewelry, candy, flowers, etc. any day.  I am not a high maintenance woman, which I know Mr. Lee appreciates.  He isn't a high maintenance guy either, which I appreciate!!

Back to work...

<3 Mama Lee <3

Has your fall schedule gotten crazier than usual??  Have you had any fun with phone solicitors??  Are you making any Christmas presents??  Have you started shopping yet??  What kinds of things are YOU doing this time of year??  

Please share w/me & my readers what is going on in YOUR lives!!

Monday, October 21, 2013

EASY, FAST Ranch Dressing & Dip - Gluten Free / GF

One thing that is a staple in my home is dressing for salads.  Around here we also use dressing on dishes like quiche, scrambled eggs, fried eggs, rice, chicken, noodles, french fries, and more.  

Since going gluten free I had to learn to make my own dressing after I realized the dressing we used was a hidden source of gluten, in the form of MSG (monosodium glutamate).  I thought we were entirely GF, & then I became informed about the MSG we were unknowingly consuming & that it meant we were also consuming gluten.  Once that was eliminated many of the sporadic symptoms of gluten exposure were then gone for the most part (the final piece to the end of sporadic symptoms was put into place when we realized we had to make our home GF & had to stop allowing even guests to consume gluten in our home, as discussed in AFFORDABLE Eating Away From Home While Traveling or Just Out & About - YES, Even With Allergies!! ).

During that time I also learned that traditionally, before the age of chemical preservatives, dressings & condiments were fermented.  Why were they fermented??  Fermented foods not only provide great, healthy bacteria for our guts, they also help us digest our foods better.

Could the lack of fermented foods in our present day diet be a huge reason for all of the acid reflux, bacteria overgrowth, & oodles of health issues that are so rampant?!  While I am not a doctor I don't believe it takes one to realize that if we don't process & digest our food properly, our health will be impacted in a negative way.  More on that in future posts!

Anyway, while searching for a good GF Ranch dressing recipe, I discovered that the recipes vary almost as much as advice on how get your child to sleep... almost!

I took the most common ingredients in most of the recipes I found & came up with my own Ranch dressing recipe to suit what I usually have in my kitchen.  I didn't want to come up with this awesome recipe that I would need to constantly worry about having the right ingredients on hand for.

I also make it in a thicker version to double as Ranch dip & have received many compliments on it from even non-GF eaters.  It is a forgiving recipe, meaning measurements don't have to be exact, like when a little person wants to "help" & ends up dumping 1/2 a CUP of salt into the mixing bowl instead of 1/2 a teaspoon (YES, I was able to get most of the extra salt out of that batch by scooping as much as I could out & by adding a little more of this & that to balance our the extra salt).

While this recipe isn't fermented itself, it does contain fermented ingredients, which add some flavor,  beneficial bacteria, & extend the shelf life of it.  We truly enjoy this recipe & hope you do too!  I use a Vitamix to make it SUPER quick, but you can use any blender or even just whisk it all by hand.


1 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup sour cream plus 1/4 cup of water OR 1 cup buttermilk
1 T. apple cider vinegar or kombucha
1 T. lemon juice
1 T. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. dried dill weed (optional, but it REALLY imparts the Ranch taste)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp tsp onion powder (minced onion, etc.)
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground pepper


1 1/4 - 1 1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 1/4 - 1 1/2 cup sour cream plus OR 1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1 T. apple cider vinegar or kombucha
1 1/2 T. lemon juice
1-2 T. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. dried dill weed (optional, but it REALLY imparts the Ranch taste)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp tsp onion powder (minced onion, etc.)
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground pepper


Using a Vitamix or blender for the dressing or dip:

1. Place all ingredients into a Vitamix (or other blender) container in the order listed and secure lid.
2. Select Variable 1 for Vitamix (or low for another blender).
3. Turn machine on and quickly increase speed to Variable 5 or 6 (or medium speed in another blender).
4. Blend for 10-15 seconds or until smooth.    

Besides ease of use, quick cooking, & quick prepping in a Vitamix, clean up is also a breeze!  Fill 1/2 way with water, add a drop or 2 of liquid dish soap, & turn the blender on high for about 15-30 seconds, rinse the container well, & air dry.  All clean, easy as 1-2-3!!  

I imagine you can also do a super quick clean up in a standard blender, but I haven't tried it yet so I don't know for sure.

By hand for either the Ranch dressing or dip:

1. Place all ingredients into a mixing bowl. 
2. Stir or whisk vigorously until everything is smooth & creamy


- Refrigerate in airtight container (For Ranch dressing I use a repurposed glass bottle that some grapeseed oil came in, which is perfect because it has a handy, dandy pour spout & is just the right size.  For storing Ranch dip I try to use a repurposed glass jar but have been known to reuse a sour cream container too)!


What is YOUR favorite dressing??  What is your favorite dip??  Do you buy them or make them??  Do these recipes sound quick & simple enough??  Will you try making either the dressing or dip (or both)??

<3 Mama Lee <3  

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

EASY Allergy Friendly BAKED French Fries - Vegan + Gluten, Soy, Sugar, Dairy, Corn, Nut, & Egg Free

Who out there loves French fries??  While exploring what we could & could not eat once going gluten free, French fries was one of them. 

While we didn't eat them very often at all at that stage of our lives, we did enjoy them if we did happen to go out for dinner or if we hit a $1 menu drive-thru (I know, GASP!! But sometimes that was better than starving), which even then we usually only ate them maybe 1-2 times per YEAR.

During my research I found that potatoes themselves are not gluten containing, but when they are prepared in a fryer with oil, the oil itself  is also usually used to deep fry things that are breaded, like chicken fingers/nuggets, fish, etc. and that made French fries (or anything else deep fried, even if that food itself didn't contain gluten) off limits.  At first it was no big deal since we rarely ate fries as it was.  Oddly enough, after a while it became something we actually missed though since we had to give up so many other foods.... all at once too!

For anybody who has ever cooked for allergies, you know already that it is usually not fast to prepare a meal that avoids allergies.  This is simply because of the fact that usually most allergy friendly foods one can purchase at a store that would help to speed up meal preparation are outrageously priced.  An example is a gluten free cake mix.  Those can easily run $4.50 - $5 for ONE cake mix... and the finished cakes are usually 1/2 the size at that price too.  Compare that to a cake mix that runs $1- $1.50... YIKES!!  It is not only far cheaper to eat gluten, but you usually get far more too!!

Anyway, with that said I prepare near everything myself at home from scratch, almost always without pre-made store bought gluten free mixes.  I do make my own mixes at home, but I don't buy mixes at the store.  I also make things like salad dressings, bread (which we don't eat every often), cookies, cakes, pasta dishes, cake from the homemade mixes, hot cocoa mix, cream soups, broth, etc.

There is something being made in our kitchen at least every day, if not many things being made all day long.  It is the nature of cooking for food allergies/sensitivities, & especially for a large family.  Oh, & all of our cooking is done with a toaster oven, stove top, or in a standard oven... we do NOT use a microwave & have been microwave free for 7-8 years.

The house we are in now actually came with a microwave, but we have never used it to cook.  I do love using the microwave fan, light, & timer though which is why we kept it.  In fact I love those features so much that we had to replace some of the kitchen appliances so we bought a new to us (thank you to Craig's List) over the stove microwave because the previous one was almond & everything else was black & stainless.

Now I am not one to need matchy-matchy everything but we were able to find the used one for not much more than what we were able to sell the old one for so we figured, why not swap it out too.  Originally we priced just an over the stove fan/blower with a light and then the same thing but with a timer too, & the range hoods with just the light & blower started at about $125.  The hoods with a timer started at $300.  It was CRAZY!!  I believe we paid $60 for the microwave (& sold the other one for $50), so that was a no brainer.

Anyway, after going GF & having to basically give up bread (we had to give up bread for a long time because at first we couldn't afford the GF bread mixes that run $4-5 per mix & at that they only make a SMALL loaf that is maybe about 8" long, 6" wide, & 5" high, nor could we afford to BUY the GF bread because that also runs $4-7 per loaf, and we didn't yet have all of the different ingredients to make bread from scratch), we had to start eating other things that would fill us up at mealtime.  So one of the things we started eating was potatoes.  We baked them, boiled them, & mashed them.  We REALLY started enjoying a food we hadn't been eating much of at that time. 

We kept eating our potatoes in those traditional ways for about 2 years.  Then we went to a restaurant that offered truly gluten free French fries fried in a dedicated fryer ONLY for gluten free fries!  It was the 1st time we had eaten fries in over 2 1/2 years at that point, and man, were they ever good great!!

Note, I didn't claim they were healthy because they were deep fried, but I can tell you that our bellies really loved them & they really restored a sense of comfort for us while we ate them.  It reminded us of the good ol' days when we could eat whatever we wanted off of a menu (as long as it was priced in our budget, of course!) without having to worry about paying the consequences not long after eating.  Would you know that we STILL talk about those fries, 2 YEARS later... it was just so nice to enjoy food without worry & to actually be able to eat our entire meal without having to pay for a burger and fries, but only being able to eat the meat patty.

Well, that one meal that included fries spurred Mr. Lee on to make something similar at home for our family.... YES, you guessed it, he made French fries!  Being a guy though, he took it even a step further... he eliminated the deep frying with baking the them (partly because of the mess & y'all know how much I do NOT love to clean my stove, and partly because of the health factor or so he said) & added some seasonings that were simply spices with no worries of hidden gluten (like MSG, extracts, etc.).  WOW, did he ever become the popular guy around here... & he started to get regular requests for his fries... so naturally I had to start making them too!!

We learned which is the best fry cutter gadget by trial & error... we 1st tried a knife, & while it works well, it does take a while.  If making fries for a few people, it isn't a bad way to go, but if cooking for more I would look for one of these fry slicers.

Our second gadget was one of those awesome looking fry cutters where you slice the end off of a potato, put the tater in the cutter, pull the handle down kind of like a slot machine & out come the potatoes cut into fries (now, now don't judge me... yes, I have pulled a slot machine handle or two in my day, but no worries it has been at least 15 years as I am WAY too cheap to throw my money into a slot machine now... if I am going to gamble my money I'd much rather put it into a vending machine & hope what I selected will come out...LOL), but Mr. was convinced the handle was going to snap right off of that gadget so it went right back to the store after which he came home with the one pictured.  It is very much like the press-down apple slicer and corer gadgets that slice & core apples at the same time (we have one of those too & LOVE it!).

Anyway, enough blabbing... here it goes...

The EASIEST French fries ever (aside from the ones you take out of the freezer & throw in your oven, smarty pants!! LOL)....

See our handy dandy fry cutter?!
  1. potatoes
  2. oil
  3. salt
  4. spices/herbs (cilantro, parsley, garlic powder, etc.)


  1. Preheat oven from *350 to 400 degrees
  2. Spray baking dish with spray or *oil to prevent sticking
  3. Slice potatoes into wedges, fries, etc. (we have a handy dandy fry cutter, but if you don't have one a sharp knife will do)
  4. Add sliced, diced, etc. potatoes to baking dish, drizzle with *oil, sprinkle with salt (I use kosher or unrefined sea salt as we prefer the larger granules), & herbs (we love cilantro & parsley, but will use just parsley if we're out of cilantro)
  5. bake for *30-50 minutes
  6. Enjoy!


  • The baking temperature varies based upon your preference as far as how fast you want them done.
  •  We have a Misto sprayer that we refill with high heat safflower oil instead of using a cooking spray that contains propellants & other chemicals (the link does NOT contain an affiliate link for me to earn money if you purchase the item.  I use my Misto sprayer daily & sometimes multiple times a day & want to show you what I am talking about when I mention a refillable sprayer). 
  • It is preferable to use an oil with a high smoke point like coconut oil, high heat safflower oil, grapeseed oil, etc.  Do keep in mind that if you use coconut oil they will no longer be nut free.
  • Baking time varies based upon how thick the layer/s of potatoes are, how thick the cut of the potatoes is, etc.
  •  You can also add fun extras like cheese, sour cream, chives, chili, etc. if you'd like to dress them up a bit, but then they wouldn't be vegan, dairy, etc. free if that is a concern.  We like to use beans, chili, and or cheese from time to time as an extra treat.

What is your favorite way to make potatoes... mashed, baked, fried??  Do you have a fry recipe you like to use or do you prefer frozen fries??  Will you try these as fries or wedges??  Do you have a fry slicing gadget too??  How do you usually cut fries when you make them??  Or are your favorite fries from a drive-thru??

<3 Mama Lee <3 

Friday, October 11, 2013


A friend shared this recipe with me for lemonade that contained whey from yogurt for the probiotic benefits.  Since I don't strain the whey from my yogurt & rather strain it from my milk kefir, it has a pretty tangy taste.  Thinking about that in my lemonade made me kind of gag, so I decided to try kombucha in place of the whey.

The result?!  A FABULOUS, refreshing, tangy lemonade that everybody has LOVED & asked for more of.  I wanted to use honey, but since there is conflicting information whether or not the antibacterial properties of honey would destroy (or at least compete with) the beneficial bacteria in kombucha, I opted for white cane sugar that I had on hand.  Feel free to substitute with sucanat, stevia, etc. but I can't give quantities for stevia as I don't use it in larger amounts.  If you do, please come back & let us know how much you used and how it turned out!  I didn't use fresh lemons as they are not in my budget to use in large quantities, so I used bottled lemon juice.

The amount of lemon juice & kombucha varies depending upon how long the kombucha has been fermenting & how sour it is.  I use more lemon juice & less kombucha if the kombucha is really sour.  Feel free to experiment & find the taste that suits your taste buds!

Also, I don't want someone to not like whatever I make because I didn't use enough sugar so I use 1/4 - 1/3 C more when making it for guests, etc.  When making it for my household, I use 1 C because I try to use as little sugar as possible and we are used to having less sugar, & things taste good to us even with less sugar.  Again, feel free to tweak it to suits your needs!

INGREDIENTS for 2 quarts:
  • 6 1/2 - 7 C water
  • 1/2 C lemon juice (according to taste & according to how much kombucha I use)
  • 1/2 C kombucha (I use more kombucha if it isn't as sour & less if it has been fermenting for a while)
  • 1/2 C sugar or sweetener (I usually use a tad more if making it for others)

I add 1/2 the water & the rest of the ingredients to avoid spilling out of the container while stirring.  Once sugar is dissolved I add the rest of the water & stir it all up.  Put in the fridge for a couple of hours or more to chill & then enjoy!!

Do YOU make any different flavored lemonades??  What do YOU make as a refreshing drink when you'd like something besides water??  Do you add any probiotics to your beverage??  Try this & let me know what you think!  Feel free to substitute the kombucha for whey as the original recipe calls for, as well as water kefir, etc. and come back to comment so you can tell me what you used & how you liked it!!

<3 Mama Lee <3

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

AFFORDABLE Eating Away From Home While Traveling or Just Out & About - YES, Even With ALLERGIES!!

How many of us have traveled, will travel, or will be away from home during a meal and have to eat around food allergies??  For our family food allergies have changed much of how we eat, what we eat, when we eat, & where we eat.

Before we leave our house we need to know where we are going, how long we will be gone, if food will be involved (if we are going to someone else's home, a picnic, social gathering, a random outing, etc.) or if a meal will be missed driving to and/or from, etc.  It really can be quite challenging & daunting some days depending upon the logistics of it all.

Remember, we can't just hit a drive-thru & order a burger, taco, etc.  Even if someone says they will have "safe" food for us, it really isn't anything we can usually count on because of the dreaded cross contamination (as in someone using a utensil or even their hands in a food item that contains an allergen & then putting their unwashed hands or utensil into our "safe" food, which then renders it unsafe for us), improper preparation that has allowed cross contamination (i.e. using the same prep place for preparing a gluten free food as a gluten full food without properly sanitizing the area between preparation), a hidden allergen (MSG is a gluten source as are various types of yeasts, etc.), etc.

I know, you are thinking would a few crumbs or a tiny bit of gluten in our food make a difference?!  I ask you, would you feel same way about PEANUTS if someone said they had a nut allergy?!  Everybody seems to really fear, pity, & respect NUT allergies, but people fail to realize that ANY food can have just as severe of a reaction for some people... just like bees & nuts can.  YES, one can have an anaphylactic reaction to gluten... & yes, even a few crumbs or a bit of gluten food CAN cause a reaction... and a very serious one at that! 

Think of it like this... you come to our house for a meal.  As we are eating I tell everyone how I cleaned up dog poop in the yard before I prepared the meal... and that I did NOT wash my hands before preparing the food; but no worries I was careful not to get any poop on my hands.

I know, your first reaction is EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW, gross!!!!!!!!!  Am I right?!  You would be completely grossed out & maybe even ANGRY... you may push your plate to the center of the table in disgust even though I said I was careful not to get poop on my hands so the chances of there being any poop in the food was very minimal.

So now YOU tell ME how that is any different than gluten?!  NO, dog poop isn't clean, but remember I was very careful & if there is any poop in the food, it is very minimal; no worries at all, right?!  Do I make my point?!

One time we went to a party during a regular meal time, so we were hungry as we had not just eaten like we tend to do when going somewhere when we don't know if we will be able to eat there safely.  We were were told there would be tons of safe food we could eat... Mr. Lee didn't ask specifics, but trusted in what was said... mistake #1!

Anyway, we got there visited for a while & then it was dinner time.  Out of all of the food there, all we could eat was potato chips & potato salad.  YES, you read correctly... potato chips & potato salad... for dinner....

Mind you, the party goers were eating Italian beef on rolls, pasta w/bread & butter, pasta salads, oodles of finger foods, all different kinds of flavored chips, cake, cookies, etc.  The house smelled like, well, delicious catered food.  The Lee kids & I ate our potato salad & potato chips and we had a little lemonade...we ate mostly potato salad because we were starving & of the two choices, it was the healthiest & most filling.  We were even hungrier because of seeing everybody else's plates heaped w/food.... all of our former favorite foods, no less.  I felt absolutely terrible for my kids.  They didn't complain one bit, but I learned a BIG lesson from that experience.

First, Mr. Lee is not a detail kind of guy... I will find out the details MYSELF from now on.  Second, what other people think you can or should be able to eat, is often completely different from the reality of what you actually can eat.  Third, ALWAYS have a back up plan so you don't go hungry.

I will be quite honest... after that experience we didn't eat anywhere else for quite a while.  I didn't care to repeat it... not the sadness, disappointment, or hurt feelings (read on for those details). 

The WORST part of  it wasn't that we had eaten potato chips & potato salad as a meal, but the comments made TO my children & ABOUT my children, as if I couldn't hear... how deprived they were because they couldn't eat cake, how awful it was that they couldn't eat the name brand tortilla chips chock full of flavorings & chemicals, how they couldn't drink the soda, & the list went on & on & on...  it was REALLY ridiculous!! 

I bit my tongue for quite a while & I finally had to speak up... not because of pride, not because of anger, but because I knew that those same comments could actually possibly make my kids believe that stuff.

The world is full of far too many people who feel ENTITLED because they are or were deprived, or so they claim.  I am certainly not about to foster that characteristic & attitude in my children as well!!

I firmly told the hecklers that gluten is a POISON to OUR bodies... that it makes us feel terrible & even makes us sick.  I said that I would NEVER feel bad about not offering something POISONOUS to THEIR child (or children), so don't feel bad for mine.  WOW, where did I come up with that?!  I have no idea... definitely a God thing!  There was that deer in the headlights look for a few moments from everyone & the comments stopped.  WONDERFUL, or so I THOUGHT...  

Behind our backs, they started to give the kids lots more lemonade & hard, sticky, chewy candies... the kinds that are HORRIBLE for dental health... which is nothing to mess with. I am not a stick in the mud & do allow some candy here & there, but our kids get sick easily from sweets... that night was no exception either.  

I tell my children frequently that while we may have food allergies, it has to be THEIR conviction to eat properly to avoid the allergens because they have to make their own decisions one day, when I am not there to help them, like when they get jobs, go to college, get married, etc.

Way back when we first went gluten free, we would try to eat some gluten here & there, to see how our bodies responded.  We would get flu-like symptoms... achy, belly aches, headaches, etc.  If it was during my monthly cycle, it would severely INCREASE... so much so I would have to stay home during that time.  One child got their FIRST ever ear infection at age 10 after eating gluten at a party.  We went to a party & about two hours later the child woke up from her ears being in tremendous pain, she had the shakes, she started to vomit, etc.   

She has NEVER wanted it again, & can you blame her?!  Oddly enough, there have been a few people who have commented to her that she isn't "allergic" to it, so to just go ahead & eat it.  Uhm, REALLY?!  She puked, got her 1st ever ear infection (a DOUBLE ear infection too!), etc. yet it didn't affect her?!  I beg to differ & I resent someone telling her that she should eat it.

If someone told YOU to eat something you knew could be harmful to YOUR body, would you?!  I guess that is a moot point since people dump so many chemicals into their bodies every day, all day long, in the name of food.  But how about a little arsenic?!  Believe it or not, but SOME arsenic is actually okay for us, depending upon the source, but we can only have a little of it or else THAT is when the harmful affect can happen.  Yet if I told someone to go eat some arsenic, they'd think I was NUTS & tell me so, no?!

In the beginning saying no to gluten was challenging because it just felt like we had given up pretty much everything we had eaten our whole lives... and we pretty much had.

During a weak moment, before we fully realized the severity of the reactions (& actually put two & tow together to realize how violent the reactions were & the correlation), I would allow them the choice if they wanted to eat gluten.  Do you know what they would say?!  Uhm, LAST time I had it I felt H-O-R-R-I-B-L-E!!  NO, thank you... I don't want to feel that way ever again!!

So, anyway, after we left that party  & our kids got sick, it was ME holding their hair back as they puked, ME cradling them telling them they would feel better once it was all out of their tummies, ME comforting them ALL. NIGHT. LONG!!  I asked my kids WHY they ate the candy & drank the lemonade and they thought WE said it was okay.  Yep, ADULTS stooped to the level of telling the kids it was okay with us... some heroes, eh?!  YES, I was L.I.V.I.D!!   

After that whole, er uhm, fiasco, our choice for eating was to either eat at home, from home (meaning to bring food from home, prepared at home), or to eat ONLY where we KNEW it was safe by verifying ALL of the ingredients, etc.  We went on a road trip a while ago & I was very concerned about what we were going to eat, how we were going to eat, & where we were going to eat.  Enter in Mr. Lee, my hero!!

As we all know eating out can be very expensive... factor in eating out for allergies & the cost can be exorbitant.  Imagine ordering a burger w/no bun & not being able to eat fries, salad, soup, bread, etc.  So you are pretty much left w/a beef patty to eat & some water to drink.  Mind you, you are paying FULL price, yet only eating PART of the meal... AND you will most likely still probably be HUNGRY after that, longing for the days when they used to serve the parsley sprigs on the plates too.  Yep, makes perfect sense... let's eat out so we can spend all kinds of money, only to STILL be HUNGRY after?!  Oooooooooooo, race you there!!  Uhm, NOT!!

Doesn't that look DELICIOUS!?
Oh yeah, so Mr. Lee said that even if we bought our food from grocery stores, paying retail prices (retail price is like a curse word to most of us, but hear me out!!), we'd still save a lot of money, PLUS we'd KNOW it was safe to eat because we'd know the ingredients & it would be prepared by yours truly.   We brought a cooler with us so we could safely store the leftovers for a snack or meal later on.

One thing we ate during that road trip was sandwiches, either on gluten free bread (yeouch, retail price) or unflavored rice cakes.... yum... pickles, meat, cheese, mayo, etc!!  Those were some of the BEST tasting sandwiches & we remember them fondly.  My lap was covered in crumbs from making the sandwiches, but our bellies were happy & full!

Since that road trip we will frequently bring a cooler with us with food and/or snacks from home... sometimes we run into a grocery store to buy the fixings to make sandwiches if we will be gone during a meal and/or have a long drive time, etc.  We know we can't expect our kids to leave a place during a meal time & wait another hour or more to eat because we don't have the luxury of being able to eat via a drive-thru.  Not that a drive-thru meal is healthy, but it sure beats going hungry if it won't make one sick.

Adjusting to a new way of eating can be a challenge.  Changing old habits is also a challenge.  For us so far, the biggest obstacle & stress has been the way OTHER people treat us, handle things, etc.  We NEVER expect anybody to bend over backwards or change their own way of doing things for us.  We don't expect any certain food.  We don't expect nor want people to feel sorry for us (there is no reason to).  HOWEVER, we do feel quite disappointed & awkward when someone says they are going to do something (like have a certain food, etc.) and they don't follow through.  We have been INTENTIONALLY excluded from invites to certain events because of our food issue.  How about leaving the situation in OUR hands & letting us decide if we want to participate or how we could make it work for our family?!  Talk about hurtful! 

Just recently someone said they would make a snack for a kids' group activity & that they would make sure it was gluten & peanut free due to issues with peanuts for one child & gluten for our kids.  Well, we went there & snack time started.  Guess what?!  They made sure there were no PEANUTS but what they served was entirely gluten (store bought cookies) & my kids couldn't eat it.

I have to admit, it was VERY hurtful to me as a mother to see my kids KNOWINGLY excluded from something by someone who VOLUNTEERED to make sure the treat was safe for ALL of the kids, not just the ONE child with the peanut allergy.  See what I mean?!  All hail the mighty peanut allergy (please don't think I am minimizing it or saying it is less important, because I am not... I think ALL allergies/sensitivities should be equally regarded, respected, & considered).

The story does have a happy ending though... remember the potato salad & potato chip party?!  Well, knowing I can't usually count on anybody else (aside from few really amazing people in our lives)  my when it comes to feeding my family safe food, we made cookies for our family to bring with so my kids didn't have to feel as awkward if the snack was unsafe for them.  Good thing I know I can't  depend upon others.

I admit, it is kind of sad when I think about... someone saying they will do something for a child(ren) & only doing it for a select child.  That said I won't let them steal my joy & will just add them to the list of people I can't count on.  I DO like knowing whom I can & can't trust.  In that respect it is a worthwhile lesson & another teachable, trainable moment for my children in life, trust, respect, courtesy, & how important it is to keep our word.  For that I am grateful!

Do YOU have to consider food allergies too??  Do you ever run into a grocery store to make sandwiches or to grab something to eat while away from home??  What is YOUR go to on the road meal??  Do you bring a cooler w/snacks when out & about??  If you have food allergies to deal with, what do YOU do??

<3 Mama Lee <3