In the Kitchen
I feel like I’m going through a mourning period in the kitchen. Before, I was baking batches of chocolate chip cookies every other day, trying recipe after recipe to see if I could narrow it down to a few favorites (I never really could); I was pinning quick bread recipes to dream up new uses for browned bananas and wrinkled carrots; I was dreaming of the cakes I would make out of The Baking Bible (aff link), which was a Christmas gift to myself I bought with some gift money I’d received. Now, ever since Matt’s celiac diagnosis, I’ve almost not baked at all, save for two batches of these gluten-free oatmeal banana muffins (with chocolate chips, of course, which is a small consolation…well, the fact that they’re genuinely delicious helps, too).
I don’t know why I feel so bummed out about the diagnosis–I mean, I’m not the one who has to stop eating gluten! But the inescapable fact is that baking for others is one of my love languages, and I feel as if my ability to express myself in that way has been severely limited. Yes, I know there are many, many delicious gluten-free recipes out there. Yes, I know that we are beyond lucky to live in a time when there is such an array of gluten-free options to choose from, both premade options and myriad types of flours, non-gluten thickeners, and more.
I’m hoping that someday soon, I will see this as a fun challenge to rise to—as a way to make myself stretch even more as a baker.
Now I just look at the huge 25-lb. bag of all-purpose flour in our pantry and sigh every time I see it.
We’ve been eating a lot of rice this week, as that’s a naturally gluten-free option that’s also cheap, which is more than I can say for many of the other things we’ve picked up in the past couple weeks (like gluten-free oats, flour blends, and bread, which is $5.99/loaf). My mom ordered us six–SIX!–huge bags of the Namaste GF flour (aff link), which is one of the favorite flour blends we discovered when I went gluten-free for a half year to get my autoimmune disease under control. For awhile, I toyed with the idea of making gluten-free meals half the time and making Matt something separate the other nights, but I don’t think I can do it–I don’t think I have the energy, and I still feel bad whenever I make something delicious that he cannot eat.
We will get used to this, and in a year, I probably will laugh at the melodramatic reaction I had to the whole thing. But for now, consider my baking and cooking motivation to be almost nil.
On the menu this week: Chicken Fajita Pasta (using GF penne noodles), our go-to quick dinner of corn tortillas topped with melted cheese, avocados, and hot sauce, and Instant Pot Indian Butter Chicken with Potatoes (over rice).
In the Yard
I was getting sick of looking at last year’s dead annuals in the two flower pots that flank our front door, so I finally broke down and picked up a couple six-packs of pansies on my final (for real) trip to the grocery store this month. I’ll pick up a couple more annuals to fill them out more in May, but for the time being, it makes everything look much fresher and a little more well-kept than before.
Raven especially got into it the business of planting and was all about loosening up the roots, placing them–alternating the colors–in each of the holes, and patting down the dirt. Mathias did his part to “help” too, though we largely encouraged him to run around the yard rather than get *too* involved, since a couple of the pansies almost got beheaded by accident.
I direct-sowed a few more sweet pea flower seeds and normal pea seeds (since we finally found the missing seed packets, and we discovered to our chagrin that it might not have been the children’s fault after all that they were misplaced, though no one remembers for sure), but they haven’t sprouted yet–hopefully in the next few days. The tricky thing is that we have a bunch of seedlings pushing through in the raised beds, but it’s hard to know at this point what’s stuff that we’ve sown and what’s simply weeds. We’ll have to wait until everything is a bit bigger, but by then, we might discover that we simply have a weed patch that’s thriving on all the direct sunlight and frequent watering we’re giving them. Only time will tell.
Blooming this week: grape hyacinths, the beginnings of one of the forsythia bushes, all the daffodils.
In the Playroom
It was Raven’s birthday on Sunday–she loved being able to share it with Easter this year. We did our egg hunt and Easter baskets on Saturday morning, then reserved Sunday for birthday celebrations and our at-home church service. Two sets of Raven’s grandparents braved coming up, face masks and all. We enjoyed a lunch of pot roast, orange salad, potatoes, and rolls, and Raven had a blast with the present scavenger hunt I’d created for her (and even read several of the words on the “clues” all on her own, without hesitation!). She has impressed me time and again with her positive attitude toward everything going on right now—she’s just taken it all in stride, in a very matter-of-fact way. No complaining, very few tears (and 99% of those were shed over our Hawaii trip being canceled). She’s probably the wisest and most kind-hearted 5-year-old I know, and she helps me out SO much at home with her brothers. I love that all last week, when we were doing little things throughout to make her birthday week extra special, she would frequently say, “Mommy, thank you for doing all these special things for my birthday. I just love you!”
Matt’s parents, who recently came home (early, due to COVID-19) from their mission in Hawaii, came to the house yesterday for the celebration. Mathias, who was only 10 months old when they left last April, was extremely wary of them for the majority of the visit. He just kept staring and staring at Grandma Meidell, and when we tried to explain that she was also Grandma, he kept looking over at my mom (who was also there) like there couldn’t possibly be TWO grandmas. (His head will probably explode when he sees his third grandma next, since he hasn’t seen her in even longer!) Eventually Sherry won him over with little tricks like putting his car on her shoe and sticking her foot closer to him and playing silly hiding games, so hopefully it won’t take him too long to warm up to her when we’re able to see them again after all this is over.
We were worried Hyrum’s fussiness over the past couple weeks might have been due to an ear infection, but now we’re just pretty sure it’s due to constipation and gas issues. Yesterday, after a particularly loud and long crying spell (when even Grandma Allred couldn’t calm him down!), we gave him an ounce of pear juice, and he finally let it all fly over the course of the next few hours and was MUCH happier and less tense as a result. He’s also napped a whole lot better today too, so I’m crossing my fingers it’s a little easier from hereon out. Pear juice for the win!
In the Home
I often have to kind of “trick” myself into doing housework, since it’s just something I will probably always loathe. One of my tricks is the old, “Just pick up 10 things” or “Do 10 short tasks that will make the biggest difference visually in this room.” We had quite a bit of picking up to do before the birthday party yesterday, so to motivate myself, I decided to photograph the three main spaces I was cleaning every 15 minutes to show the difference over time. I’m planning on doing a little post just on that, because it was kind of fun to see the changes!
The roller/wheel thing on our garage door broke the other week, so Matt went early to our local hardware store on Saturday, got a replacement part, and fixed it in about 10 minutes. Matt was really not a very handy guy in the first several years of our marriage, but ever since buying our house three-ish years ago and with him taking his cabinet-making class and doing woodworking projects for fun, he’s really getting to the point where I’m thinking there will be very few things he can’t do himself! It’s so nice that he has such a natural inclination to learn things like that—I’ve felt very lucky.
In the Soul
We’ve got a big life decision weighing on our minds lately (which I’ll do its own post on soon), so my stress levels have been a bit on the elevated side. I’m the kind of person who feels much better AFTER a decision has been made (not before), so living in a state of limbo over the past few weeks has done a number on me when I actually take the time to think about it.
On Good Friday, Matt and I participated in the worldwide fast that our church leader, President Russell M. Nelson, challenged all church members (and all people of all faiths) to do. I didn’t do a full fast from food because I’m nursing, but I did do about a 17-hour one and then fasted from my beloved chocolate and Diet Dr. Pepper for the remaining 7 hours. I don’t think it’s coincidental that here in Utah, where so many people were participating in the fast, there has been a definite drop in the growth percentage of new cases over the past few days.
Easter Sunday yesterday was such a beautiful day—it felt wonderful to be with family again (we were still within the county guidelines of avoiding gatherings larger than 10 people), even if we didn’t have nearly as many hugs as usual. The whole day, I just felt so GRATEFUL—so grateful for our parents, so grateful for our beautiful children, so grateful for my husband and all he does for us and the man that he is, and so grateful, most of all, for my Savior Jesus Christ, who is the true source of ALL hope. I just had the sense all day that not only will life get back to normal, but that when it does, we will all be better because of what we’ve been through together.