August 2014

Versatile Chocolate Chip Cookies & Some Allergy Back to School Tips

When my kids were first diagnosed with allergies as babies, it was a scary diagnosis, but they were little. I figured, I was still in primary control of pretty much everything they were eating. I made a lot of their food, and when we ate out at restaurants, it was easy to just bring things a long for them.

Now, with their most recent diagnoses, and the fact that they are older. The fear is worse (so much worse). Between school, soccer, playdates, and all the other places they go where I am not there to oversee every piece of food that they come into contact with is terrifying for a parent of an allergy kid. However, I have always believed that the more everyone knows the healthier my kids will be. So with school starting, here are some things that I have learned along the way.

1. TEACH YOUR CHILD: Constantly remind your child what foods are safe for them to eat. Talk about how sharing foods with people at lunch, on the bus, on the soccer field, and anywhere else is not safe. Teach them to ask a trusted adult (parent, guardian, teacher, or anyone else who knows about their allergies), if they aren’t sure about a food before eating it. Teach them to look at labels, read them. Have them talk with their friends about their food allergies. Remind them that when in doubt, say, “NO thank you.” Talk about symptoms of an allergic reaction, calling 911, and using their Epi Pens.

2. TEACH EVERYONE: Anyone who is to come in contact with your child (family, friends, teachers, coahces, babysitters, everyone) should know what foods are safe for your children and not only how to administer the EpiPen, but when it should be administered.

3. READ: I know it seems like all allergy parents and kids is spend their time reading labels, but it is also important to also read up on allergy safe recipes, information regarding allergies, and treatments for food allergies.

4. FILL OUT FORMS: Make sure to fill out all of your child’s allergy forms completely, and thoroughly for school. If you have any questions, be sure to discuss them with the school nurse, teacher, and your physician so the proper precautions can be taken in case anything does happen. Also, make sure to make notes on all other forms of your child’s allergies, such as sports and activities forms.

5. KEEP IT UP: Sometimes things change throughout the course of the school year. For example, sometimes medications dosages change, EpiPens expire, treatments change, or a child may develop a new allergy or grow out of one. Be sure to keep everyone updated of any changes regarding your child’s health.

Now, that everyone is armed with the knowledge to have a safe and healthy school year, let’s have a fun and and allergy safe snack. I know this isn’t the healthiest after school snack, but every once in awhile a kid needs a treat, and chocolate chip cookies are just the treat. These cookies can be made a variety of ways, and taste awesome!

Versatile Gluten Free NUT SAFE Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 Sticks Unsalted Butter Room Temperature (NO DAIRY NO PROBLEM: Try a Dairy Free Butter Stick)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs (NO EGGS NO PROBLEM: Try ENERG Egg Replacer)
1 1/2 tsp gluten free pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups gluten free, nut free all purpose flour blend (NAMASTE brand is my favorite)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 bag allergy safe chocolate chips (Enjoy Life brand is my favorite)



Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl mix together flour, baking soda, and salt.

In an electric mixer bowl with paddle attachment, cream together butter, sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed until completely blended. Lower speed, and add eggs one at a time and mix until well incorporated. Add vanilla. Next, very slowly add flour mixture and mix until just combined. Finally, add chocolate chips.


Using a 1 Tbs cookie scoop, or two spoons, spoon 1 Tbs balls of cookie dough onto cookie sheets.


Bake for 375 degrees for 9-11 minutes. Cool.


Enjoy after school with milk!


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Thirsty Thursday: Back To School Celebration

The kids are back in school, and I’m over the trauma of summer being over. In fact, I’m happy to see the kids so excited. I’m happy to have the routine back. I’m happy for the silence.

In addition to being able to enjoy Target Solo like the gals at Whats Up Moms, I was thinking about having a Back to School Celebration for all my Mom Friends that would include some of the fun and fancy drinks I made this summer.

So here is a recap of some of the tasty and fun drinks (both virgin and alcoholic I made this summer). Go ahead and try them with your friends while you celebrate the start to school.

Fresh Pink Lemonade


Watermelon Slushies

Peach Iced Tea

Tequila Thyme Lemonade

Cherry Amaretto Sours

Cheers, Readers!


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Free Friday: Food Allergies

My kids have food allergies.

When they were little babies, they had eczema. So, with the guidance of our wonderful pediatrician, we had the necessary blood test to figure out what exactly they were allergic to. We found out at that time they were allergic to ALL NUTS, egg whites, and soy. We were advised to avoid those foods.

So began my life of cooking and baking and label reading.

Also, began my life of carrying Epi Pens.

A few weeks ago, almost 6 years later, we experienced our first ever serious allergic reaction at a professional soccer game. There was vomiting and hives, and it was terrible. A trip to the ER, a dose of epinephrine, steroid, and Benedryl, and we were on our way. However, it could have been much much worse.

We are lucky.

Oh, so lucky.

At a follow up appointment with our pediatrician, we decided it was time to do some more testing, see an allergist, and see what could have caused the reaction. After two appointments (and with a few more to come), we know the kids overall allergy counts are high. This means that not only are they allergic to foods, but there are environmental things such as pollens, molds, pet danders, and dust mite allergies. One of my children is asthmatic. One of the kids’ peanut, tree nut, and egg allergies have worsened over time, and they also may have developed some other food allergies like to wheat.

We were always careful and diligent before, but now knowing that perhaps things could be worse, we are treading new waters. Every day, I am learning how to be even more careful as the kids might be more sensitive to these allergens, and until we can find treatment.

So, in the interest of educating myself, my family, my friends, and anyone who has an allergy sufferer in their life who they love, I think it is time I start FREE FRIDAY. This is where I will share any information, recipes, tips, or guest posters on living a life that is allergen free.

Stay tuned next week for back to school tips and a GREAT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE recipe!

Don’t those look awesome?

Thirsty Thursday: Cherry Amaretto Sours

Every time I walk into the store or roam around the famers’ market this time of year, I cannot resist heading straight for the cherries. They are in season, on sale, and going fast.  I was trying to think of a way that I could make a THIRSTY THURSDAY recipe with them. Sure, I could add them to a classic vanilla milkshake for the kids, but that wouldn’t have quite the kick I was looking for to get me through the school supply shopping I have yet to tackle (yes, I know, time’s a tickin’ and I am clearly in denial).

One of my favorite cocktails is an amaretto sour, and everyone knows cherries and almonds are a good mix, so I thought why not mix up some sweet and sour cherries with some amaretto and see what happens. It was hard finding a recipe with amaretto and fresh cherries, but I was glad to see I wasn’t the only one with the idea, and saw this recipe from The Pet Lamb Girls. I, of course, doctored it up a bit, and when I did this is what happened and it was awesome:


Cherry Amaretto Sours (makes two)
1/2 cup fresh pitted cherries
1 lemon cut into wedges
2 Tbs light brown sugar
4 oz amaretto liqueur
4 oz lemon lime soda


Add ice to two small glasses to chill, and set aside. In a large glass, muddle together cherries, sugar, and lemon wedges until lemon is fully juiced and sugar is dissolved and cherries are juicy  Divide this mixture among glasses. Then top with divided amaretto and soda. Garnish with a cherry.


Enjoy and think about school supply shopping another day.


If you like cherry drinks, check out these cherry rum and cokes. For all things beverage related, check out the THIRSTY THURSDAY page for recipes for all kinds of drinks, cocktails, and all things drinkable!

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School Year Organization: 10 Things I’m Doing Now to Keep Myself Sane Later

Yesterday, I was lamenting about my internal struggle about how this time of year seems to be quite difficult for me as there is so much to do and not do all at the same time. In an effort to make the beginning of the year go smoothly, I organized some parts of the house over the summer so that we can spend the last bit of summer relaxing.

Here are ten things I did while the kids were home to get ready for back to school.

1.) Got Rid of Old Clothes: There is no sense cluttering up the kids drawers with clothes that are too small or clothes that have tears or stains from summer. I typically don’t do any “back to school” clothes shopping until the weather starts to change a bit (and I can hit up sales) as they have plenty of clothes to get them through those first few warms weeks of school. This way it is easier for them to find what they want to wear, and there is room for new clothes.

2.) Organized High Traffic Areas: The craft table, desks, and front hall closet got an overhaul. These are areas that typically see a lot of traffic during the school year. The kids tend to drop school bags, shin guards, ballet shoes, homework, and everything else in these places. I tried to make sure that everything has a place so that when we are in a hurry, we can find everything in a jiffy.

3.) Found a Place for All the Papers: So much for the digital age! Since my kids have started school, I cannot believe the amount of paper they come home with every day. Try as I might to get rid of a little bit every day, there are still some papers that I have to hold onto. I found a way to organize everything perfectly, while still allowing me to save time.


4.) Got the Kitchen Ready: I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like my kitchen get a break in the summer, and when school starts I am back to cooking, baking, fixing meals multiple times a day. Since I was cooking less this summer, the kids helped me do a little kitchen organization.

5.) Went Through the Toys: Once the school year starts, our family doesn’t have a lot of wiggle room in our schedule. So, I try and take an afternoon to talk toys with the kids and talk about what they don’t play with anymore and what can be donated. This helps make room for upcoming birthdays and holidays too.

6.) School Supplies for Home: When I do decide to go school supply shopping (I’m the worst), not only do I try and purchase school supplies for school, but I also try and purchase a few extra of everything for home. This helps especially for homework or craft projects at home, and everything is cheaper and can be bought in bulk this time of year.

7.) Got Everyone Back on Schedule: Over the summer we are all going to bed a little later and sleeping a little later. The last part of summer, I am slowly but surely trying to get my kids to bed a little earlier and to wake up a little earlier too. I don’t want to their teachers to experience how cranky they can be when they are sleep deprived that first day of school. We have been doing this in about 20 minute increments, little by little. Rome wasn’t built in a day after all.


8.) Got Myself on Schedule: This school year, I will have pockets of time where I will be alone, so I want to be able to fill those with productive things so that when the kids are home I am able to make time for them.

9.) Bought a Surprise: I bought each of the kids a special surprise for their first day of school. It is nothing expensive or lavish, but it is just a little token to let them know we are thinking of them that day. These are things I keep my eye out for over the summer and buy when I see them. This year, I got them each a book about the grade they are going into this year.


10.) Pack in the Fun: I scheduled a ton of playdates, events and fun for the last few weeks of summer as I could so we can spend time playing and enjoying the nice weather and each other.

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The Best/Worst Time of the Year

This time of year, I always have such mixed emotions. My love of school/office supplies, organization, school, and new beginnings always of course makes my heart all a flutter with possibilities with what is to come with the upcoming school year. Then, my heart is aching a teeny bit too. No more flying by the seat of our pants to take trips to the zoo, no more sweaty heads learning to ride two wheels, no more popsicles on the front porch for lunch, or running through the sprinklers.


This year brings an extra whole set of mixed emotions though. This year, my youngest is heading off to school a few mornings a week. I know it isn’t much, but for the first time since becoming a mother six years ago, I will be alone for a few mornings a week.

When I tell other mothers this, they all give me this mischievous smile as if to say, “I know what you’ll be doing.” I want to ask them, “What? What should I do?”

Will the laundry get done? Will the house be cleaner? Will I exercise during this time? Perhaps a pedicure? Shower? Write? What? What is your secret? Why are you winking at me!?

Maybe all of those things will get accomplished. I am sure I will be a little more productive during this time, but what I think those Moms are really saying with their winky eyes is that: I will ecstatic to be by myself for once.

That’s where the mixed emotions come to play. You see, I actually enjoy being home with my kids. While I would say it is the most difficult job I’ve ever had, I am not so quick to kick them out at the end of every summer, and I am especially not so quick to get my youngest out the door to school. Especially not at a time in their lives when we all truly enjoy each other’s company so much (Two Words: Teen Years).

However, I am so proud of my kids’ independence, their love of school, and cannot wait to see all they accomplish this year. There is a kind of growing that happens through school that I love to see. The relationships they are forming with their teachers and friends makes me happy and proud. The sense of accomplishment they feel each day, or the discussions we have each night at dinner about all they are learning are all things I love about sending them out into the big wide world.

So, this is the time of year when I am having a complete internal struggle. I am completely re-organizing the house, buying school supplies, and taking on projects to get ready for the beginning of the school year, while still trying to soak up every last bit of summer by running through the sprinklers.


It is a very confusing time, but I look at it this way: You cannot get that awesome smiley tight hug from your kids coming off the bus at the end of the school day because they missed you so much, unless you send them off in the first place.

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Hi Honey, We’re Home!

The saying, “I need a vacation from my vacation,” most definitely was created by a parent. I would be willing to bet it was more specifically coined by a parent who had just taken a road trip. While I could use a good nap and a foot massage from all the walking we did, I have to say I am already looking forward to another family vacation, but not for the reasons you may think.

We drove to Washington D.C. with a stopover in Columbus, Ohio as it is about halfway. Breaking up the drive into two days was perfect for the little ones and for us parents too. Also, there were some tips and tricks I learned along the way that really helped keep everyone happy on such a long car ride. I will share all our tips and tricks (like headphones) in an upcoming post.
Once we were in the D.C. area we stayed in Bethesda, MD and were easily able to navigate our way around the area using DC’s public transit, The Metro. Also, with a little help from some locals and our GPS systems on our phones we managed to see some amazing sites.
On our first day in DC we headed out to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum near the Dulles Airport. Washington D.C. has two air and space museums, one is in the downtown area, and then there is the one near the Dulles Airport. Brian and I had seen the one downtown when we were younger, and had done a little research about them both ahead of time, and after reading about all the planes, the control tower, and that the space shuttle, Discovery, was there, we decided the kids might have more to see here.
On our second day, we took the Metro to The National Zoo. We love visiting the zoo in our own hometown and are frequent visitors, so we were excited to see a new one in a new city. The kids were thrilled to see the Pandas. Our favorite animals to see the new lion cubs, and the otters.
On our third day, we packed in a lot of sightseeing, but we were able to do it easily via a bus tour of Washington D.C. The kids were able to take in all of the sights and learn so much.
Day four we headed to Baltimore for a tour of Oriole Park and Camden Yards, a stop at Charm City Cakes (for me), and to take a picture of Pimlico Racecourse where the Preakness is run (my kids have a thing for horses).
While we are glad to be home, the memories made on this trip are going to last us all a lifetime. Watching the kids so filled with wonder and awe the entire trip was, as a parent, amazing to see. Yes, I am exhausted and I would love another vacation, but not because I’m tired, because we had so much fun!If you like this post and would like to read more about all things domestic with a touch of humor, become a Home Everyday follower! For blog updates or to see other places I write such as ChicagoNow or Chicago Parent follow Home Everyday on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

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