Thursday, December 21, 2006

I Forgot

I realized that I forgot to share a photo of my tree. This is what it looked like when we first decorated it. Notice the large number of ornaments in the lower half of the tree. Right at kid height, no?

The Countdown is On, Baby!!!

My children are officially busting at the seams due to their excitement over Christmas. The photo is from a party held at the clinic where Zoe receives her speech and occupational therapy. The people there do a wonderful job with Zoe, and every year they throw a fantastic party to celebrate another year of helping kids get stronger. I can't thank them enough for all their hard work and support.

It's been a challenging week before Christmas here. Everyone at Casa de Flamenco is sick. The kids have strep throat, hubby had some kind of nasty funk, and I'm afraid my bronchitis decided to rear it's ugly head again. Good news: the kids and hubby are on the mend. Bad news: I'm still wheezy, and I don't mean like "the Jeffersons".

We're sticking to a low-key holiday this year, and I'm so glad we made that decision. We're going to have just a few extra dinner guests, since my sister-in-law and her hubby and two kids will be joining us. I'm sticking to my guns about making a totally gfcf dinner; though I did give my sister-in-law the green light to bring a dessert of her choosing. I'm serving a turkey, gfcf stuffing (thanks to Gluten Free Girl for the recipe), sauteed spinach with peppers, sweet potato casserole, salad, and a gfcf pineapple upside down cake for dessert (recipe courtesy of Cooking Free). I'm thinking of making some type of holiday cocktail, like a cider or coquito(a traditional coconut and rum drink made for the holidays).

While our family has been recovering from being sick, we've spent a lot of time watching Christmas specials and Veggietales DVDs. It's been fun; I barely notice my dying Christmas tree anymore. I've got a few last minute people to shop for, and then I will be all set.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Joy to the World

According to the start bar on my computer, today is December 15th. My tree already appears to be dying. Yes, I've been watering it daily. No, I don't have it near a heater. WTF?? I'm probably overreacting (I'm been known to do that; shocking, I know), but I actually have reservations about turning on the lights for fear we're going to have a fire without a fireplace.

I'm having visions of us with a tree reminiscent of the one in "A Charlie Brown Christmas." Anybody have tips for trying to keep my tree alive until the 25th?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Versatile and Delicioso

Growing up in Puerto Rican home, I never had the pleasure of eating food prepared with this Harina PAN. This is a pre-cooked white corn flour which is used throughout Latin America in preparing a variety of dishes. The dishes have different names, but they are remarkably similar in their preparation and in their accompaniments. This flour, combined with some warm water and salt, comes together to form a masa. It's the same as how fresh tortillas are made. The masa is then shaped into round patties, and fried in a pan or griddle.

The yummy part comes when you slice these things open (like pitas), and fill them with all kinds of good stuff. In Venezuela, the patties are called arepas. Many people fill them with scrambled eggs and/or cheese. Believe me, it beats an Egg McMuffin by a mile. In fact, the arepa filled with egg and cheese was my first intro to this wonderful treat.

While I was a student at the University of Miami, I made friends with a lovely girl named Gabriela, who was born in Costa Rica but was raised in Venezuela. Gabi and I eventually became roommates, and one day she made this for breakfast. I made her swear that day that she would make this for me at least twice a week. Of course, she had to teach me how to make the dish as well. She did, but she found it funny that I had to be taught to put together corn flour, water, and salt.

In El Salvador, the dish is called pupusas. The patties are served as an accompaniment to a meat dish, usually either a stewed beef or pork, served with a delicious slaw. Now, I've been meaning to head over to this Salvadorean restaurant not far from me--and you'd better believe this is what I'll be eating. From what I've heard, Los Angeles has a tremendous array of Salvadorean restaurants to try; so if you're in that area, check it out.

I've been trying to figure out what a good American equivalent would be to arepas, to give people something to compare it to. I guess if you've ever had hoe cakes that's getting pretty close. Think of a delicious corn fritter, then slice it open and fill it with one of your favorite things. That's about as close as I've been able to get to an American version.

Tomorrow morning it's going to be arepas with scrambled eggs at Casa de Flamenco. My kids have renamed these crabby patties (a la Spongebob Squarepants). Hey, whatever gets them to eat their breakfast, right?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Rocket Man

We just got back from watching one of the coolest things I have ever seen: the space shuttle launch. We drove our SUV to an overpass on I-4 and rolled down the windows, and watched the eastern sky turn a vibrant shade of tangerine. We saw a bright orange ball ascend at breakneck speed, gradually turning into a streak of orange light. After travelling a few more seconds, the light turned blue, then white, as the shuttle joined the billions of twinkling lights in the sky.

To say that we were excited about what we saw would be the understatement of all time. My kids were cheering and just absolutely giddy with enthusiasm. My husband had seen a launch before, but for the kids and me, it was the first time. I've still got a huge perma-grin on my face; my kids are beyond thrilled. Zoe is on the other computer as I write this, looking at the NASA site, learning about the astronauts and the mission. Ayden wants his own rocket ship. I wonder if they sell one at Target?

*The photo above comes from the NASA website. Believe me, I'm not that good a photographer.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Clearly Marked for Your Convenience

My friend Azure called to tell me about a neat website called Jeeto ( They make all sorts of cute tees and patches and things for kids. What attracted me to this site is that they have a collection called the "allergy collection," which features t-shirts, patches, and stickers that will alert people of a food allergy. They've got gluten free, dairy free, egg free, nut allergic even. For parents of kids, especially kids that cannot communicate to others what their allergies are, this could certainly be very beneficial. I can't even count how many times the day care gave Zoe cookies and milk, even though I provided them a list of acceptable and unacceptable food items.

I decided to send them an e-mail today to see if they would consider making a product that lists gluten-free/casein free (hey, kill two birds with one stone). Besides, since putting "dairy free" doesn't mean the same as casein free many times, I figured there'd be no harm in asking the folks at Jeeto. I'm curious to hear what Jeeto thinks about my proposal. Hopefully I'll hear from them soon--and I'll be sure to update on this site to let everyone know what they had to say.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

And Because I've Got All the Gifts I Need

We took this photo on our trip to North Carolina in October. This particular photo was taken on our hike through Linville Falls. Surrounded by all the beauty around us, we had a perfect day together, enjoying each other's company and taking in all the scenery. I love this photo. I look at it, and am reminded that I have everything I'll ever need.

Because They're Just Too Adorable

My boys don't get much face time on this blog. And since I've been experimenting with getting photos to work on this thing, I figured this would be a perfect opportunity to show off my two favorite guys.

And We're Off!

I apologize for my lack of photos lately--since I updated to blogger beta (and subsequently had to change my password; don't ask), Photobucket went all wonky on me and won't let me post photos on here. I'm going to try using some of the "nifty" new features beta is supposed to offer and see if I have any luck with that. Gosh, I just have had no luck with this photo stuff. Anyway, I have a beautiful Christmas tree photo to share--eventually.

So prep is underway for our Christmas celebrations (plural). We're having a quiet dinner for five (DH, me, kids, and mother-in-law) Christmas Eve/Christmas Day; we're driving to my mom's on the 28th to do the holiday with my family; and we're having all the in-laws over to celebrate on Jan 5 (MIL and I will be cooking for that one). It is my intention to make our dinners at home completely gfcf so that I don't have to make a million different dishes. I've been inspired by other gluten free and gfcf bloggers (thanks, ladies), so I have faith that I can do it.

I'm going to do my best not to stress over the holidays. My husband and I joke that my major meltown of the year always happens sometimes between the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Orange Bowl; this year I'm going to try to buck the tradition and have a serene holiday and really enjoy the season without getting wrapped up in all the hooplah.

Now that my little guy is three, he is WAY into Christmas. And my daughter is loving teaching him the ropes of the whole naughty list/nice list. I must confess that I am using Santa and threats of lumps of coal as a motivator for good behavior. Okay, so mother of the year I'm not.