Hate Shopping? Avoid Black Friday and Still Give the Perfect Holiday Gift!

Hate Shopping? I know. It can wear you out. It’s always been easier for me to buy a little here and a little there throughout the year. By the time Christmas rolls around, all I have to do is wrap.

This year, I haven’t felt inspired to buy very much. A major remodeling project ate much of my time and I just haven’t run across anything that seems fun. That means that today, Black Friday, could be very tempting…except that I hate marathon shopping, typical gifts, arriving early, and crowds!

Luckily, I still don’t have to struggle or wait until the last minute. I have a lot of gluten-free flours on hand and a lot of gluten-free relatives. I’ve also consumed plenty of Bulgarian yogurt in the past few months. It comes in glass jars that I washed and saved. That means I have the perfect gift already available. All I have to do is throw it together!

Here’s how easy it is…Remember that Gouda Muffin recipe we posted in May? Take all the dry ingredients and put them in a clean jar:

1 cup white rice flour

1/2 cup brown rice flour

1/2 cup potato flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp xanthan gum

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda


Gluten-Free Mix


Decorate the jar and include a card with these instructions:

Gouda Muffins

12 medium muffins


1 jar muffin mix

8 oz whole milk plain yogurt

2 eggs

1/4 cup melted butter

6 oz gouda cheese, diced

Preheat oven to 425º.  Grease muffin tin or line with muffin cups.

Shake jar to remix ingredients. Place mix in a bowl. In a larger bowl, combine the yogurt, egg, and butter. Slowly fold the dry mixture into the liquids until you have a firm, non-sticky dough. Stir in cheese and spoon dough into muffin tin. Bake at 425º for 12-15 minutes or until top is brown. Remove to rack to cool.

Boom! You just created the perfect gift!

I’ve done the same thing with pancakes and biscuits. These mixes have become some of my sister’s favorite gifts. She asks me to give them again and again. (You’d think she’d return the jars.)

It’s sometimes easy to forget that simple gifts that thoughtfully fill a specific need are often the most appreciated. Of course I tend to remember this the minute I walk into a store during the holiday season!

Have shopping tips to share? We’d love to hear them!

Gratitude Is My Best Defense

Today I’m going to share my gratitude list. Yes, next week is Thanksgiving, but don’t be fooled, this post is only inadvertently timely. I am struggling. I can see that I’m not functioning as well as I usually do.

In an attempt to stay focused on a healthy routine, I headed for the lap pool yesterday. When I got in the shower at the gym, I discovered my swimsuit was on backward. I KNOW. I’m not sure how you can put a swimsuit on backward either, but I did it! How distracted am I? Leaving, I forgot to change out of my pool shoes, and then I almost hit a pole in the parking lot.

What has me feeling so discombobulated? A perfect storm of L-I-F-E. We all have them. Mine happens to be accompanied by the worst dermatitis herpetiformis (DH) I’ve ever had. I’d say at least 3/4 of my body is covered in the unbearably itchy rash. It is wearing me out and driving me to distraction at a time when I feel like I need to be on top of my game.

I’m usually full of solutions, but right now I simply don’t know what to do. I feel vulnerable and alone. The best defense I have against becoming overwhelmed is to focus on something for which I’m grateful.

So…I am grateful…

 That my mom was released from the hospital yesterday

That I took my truck in before the universal joint totally fell apart and left me stranded

That there is chili in the fridge so that I don’t have to cook dinner

For sea salt caramel gelato

That my plants haven’t died even though I’ve neglected them

That I have a back scratcher when I can’t stand to leave this rash alone

That my new walking shoes are finally feeling comfortable

For Nutella

For the smell of cinnamon rolls

For silver jewelry with filigree

For purple, and orange, and paisley

That it’s raining outside

For soft clothes

For funky eyeglasses

For crushed ice

For warm blankets

For laughter

For books

For the approaching holidays

For snow

Anyone else feel like this? Want to join me? What are you grateful for?


Do Our Fantasies Keep Us From Being Healthy?

I don’t…I can’t…Do our fantasies keep us from being healthy?

No Football

No Left TurnHave you ever noticed that you’ve inadvertently created a fantasy world in which you follow certain rules? Some of those rules may start with I don’t. For instance, I don’t go to football games. I don’t take taxis. I don’t ride the subway. I don’t mix my groups of friends. I don’t make left hand turns in my car.

Or maybe we go a step further and say I can’t. I can’t stay up past 9. I can’t leave work before 6pm. I can’t learn to ski. I can’t fly in a small plane. I can’t give up my mom’s homemade dinner rolls. I can’t give up the handmade pasta at my favorite restaurant. I can’t give up my grandmother’s cherry pie.

Cherry Pie

I don’t… I can’t ….. Why do these fantasies become our reality? I’m guessing that most of us make these rules so we will feel safe. We probably don’t even realize that we’ve restricted ourselves until life throws us a curve and the only way to get home from the airport is a taxi. At that point, we recognize we must make a choice. We can choose to stay on an airport couch until other transportation is available, or we can move past our self-imposed limitation.

If you’re tired, hungry, and ready to be at home, a taxi ride may not seem too ominous. I’ve noticed that when I have to shift, I often find that I’m more comfortable than I thought I would be. I’ve finally learned to be grateful for those circumstances that put me in a position to challenge my self-imposed limitations.

After I started writing this post, I took a lunch break to attend a lecture by Dr. Eben Alexander III, the author of “Proof of Heaven”. As I listened, I recognized that he was describing the same phenomenon, but on a much grander scale. Dr. Alexander describes our brains as filters of consciousness as opposed to the place where consciousness begins. Our brains filter through the tiny bit of consciousness we’re willing to experience, but he says that what’s available to us is much greater. He also postulates that there is much to healing we do not understand that is beyond the physical, rational, and emotional. It seemed that he shared all of this in gratitude for his journey through coma – not so much his gratitude for full recovery, as for the journey itself.

It seems that many of us only recognize our journey in retrospect instead of embracing it in the moment. I want to have a full, adventurous, exciting journey to look back on. I can facilitate that by embracing adventure, excitement, and healthy physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual choices in each moment. This thought excites and motivates me to give up my self-limiting fantasies, embrace my fear, and live each moment to the fullest.

Want to join me?


Pei Wei Does It Right!

I’ve got to hand it to Pei Wei; they really do it right. Not only do they have a gluten-free menu, their customer service is superb.

Today was a hectic one. We had planned to clean out the office so I was expecting a relaxed, jeans wearing sort of day. Of course things rarely turn out as expected.

First, we had no internet, which meant no email. Most of our business moves back and forth via email with very large attachments. When that method isn’t available, much driving around is required.

Then there was an urgent pick up, and before I knew it, I was two hours behind and needing to grab a quick lunch. I was close to Pei Wei, so I called 411, got the number, and made a call.

A friendly girl answered my call and asked how she could help. I said, “I’d like to place an order to go.” She asked, “Is this Cheri”? “Yes,” I replied feeling surprised. “Would you like gluten-free edamame, and a gluten-free Pei Wei spicy chicken with brown rice?” she inquired. “That would be perfect,” I said still feeling a bit dazed.

Pei Wei

It really was that easy. When I arrived 10 minutes later, my order was ready. Each container was marked with a gluten-free sticker, and the enclosed soy sauce packets were Tamari. A quick debit card swipe and I was headed back to my card with a bag of food in my hand.

Since I don’t often order from Pei Wei, I did not anticipate this personalized interaction. They used technology to create a customer service experience that exceeded my expectations. Not only that, but they made getting gluten-free take out easier than pie on a day when I was already overwhelmed. For that, I am grateful.

If you’re in a hurry and need to stick with your gluten-free plan, give Pei Wei a call. They may already know exactly what you want to order.



Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”