New Food Allergies: Corn and Tomato Leave the Estate

kids and food allergies- corn, gluten, tomatoe, and pineapple

Just when you think you have this whole diet thing under control for your kids-they develop new food allergies!  Monkey can no longer tolerate corn.  Of course, we buy “good corn” (I’m sure my paleo readers will battle with this one)-organic and non-GMO.  I will not get into detail of the hell we have been through the past two weeks, but it’s been ugly and uncomfortable and straight up AWFUL.  At least, Monkey understands corn=hell for him. It’s awesome that he also can read labels.  C-O-R-N…no thanks, Mom! Corn is worse than gluten, people.

Yes, it’s a commodity crop and it’s evil I get that.  But I’ve been trying NOT to be as uptight about food, that was until the terrible-horrible-situation happened a few weeks back with Monkey.

See I was raised on Tang and Wonderbread, and now I’m a health nut.  I have cousins who were raised as health nuts and now feed their kids drive-thru food.  Go figure, right?

kids and food allergies- corn, gluten, tomatoe, and pineapple

The CORN s in EVERYTHING, especially the GF stuff.

Now, the tomatoes.  Taking wheat out of this Italian mama’s diet is one thing, but tomatoes…holy high hell.  Seriously.  I die.  I’ve been reacting to it also.  More of a histamine reaction on my end: just hives and an itchy face.  But tomatoes, is Sir Moose.

I keep a food journal, and odd enough, Moose started reacting to tomato right as winter was ending last year as well.  There must be a connection.  I have an appointment pending with our internist this month.  And come to think of it, he also did in the Spring when he was 2.  Weird, right?

Poor Moose.  He loves his GF pasta and meatballs (adapted from my great-grandmother’s recipe from Sicily) and his ketchup- but no longer.  Within minutes of consuming an acid-high food: pineapple, orange, tomatoes…Moose’s face turned into a red blotchy mess.

Moose usually has incredible milk skin, but eczema now covers his little body.  Just freakin’ awful.

My pediatrician’s response: put some pharma creme on it.  My homeopath is on the case, and I’m off to get some allergy testing from our internist. My response?  Look at diet first.

I’ve learned a few things over the years.  Don’t put all your faith in one place.

Tomatoes have been in heavy rotation here, so as in all things food: it’s back to the drawing board for us.

Stay tuned for new recipes and such.

So, here’s to life more unprocessed than it already was.

If you need me, I’ll be in my kitchen dreaming up new ideas that are now GF, corn and tomato-free.

Damn it.  Let’s hope that this is just a change of season thing, and not permanent!


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Gluten-Free Granola Bar Bites Recipe

gluten-free granola bar bites recipes from

So, the other day at the grocery, I spied a box of, gasp, gluten-free granola bars.  Seriously, I remember 4 years ago, going to grocery stores and crying because I couldn’t buy the easy things of motherhood like goldfish and cherrios, but now GF goodies abound.  Albeit, still with many strange ingredients, but at least there’s options now.

After scanning the ingredient list, I was a little grossed-out by canola oil, brown rice syrup, and a few other scary additives, but I tossed them in my cart as an experiment of sorts.  My four year old has never eaten a granola bar, because we’ve been gluten-free since before he entered the delightful world of solid food.  Frankly, my experiments with GF granola have been a hot mess, until now.

The store-bought granola was rock-hard and was way too sweet.  I knew I could make it way better.

This recipe is from bowl to mouth within 20 minutes, and seriously, will be a weekly staple until kingdom come.

I welcome all things hippie and granola back into our lives.   This has been a hit in the Moose’s bento box the past week.  Even the King was sneaking a few despite my lashings of “it’s for the kids’ lunches!”.

So, behold and enjoy.

gluten-free granola bar bites recipes from


Gluten-Free Granola Bar Bites Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Perfect for those bento lunch boxes, or with yogurt in the morning. These little gluten-free granola bar bites are loaded with protein and healthy fat!
  • 1 cup gluten-free oats
  • ¼ cup gf flour blend
  • ½ cup sunflower butter (or nut butter of your choosing)
  • ¼ cup organic honey
  • ¼ cup organic shredded coconut
  • (optional mini chocolate chips-I use Enjoy Life brand…the only soy-free ones on the market!)
  • a silicone mold with small compartments (I used the brownie bites mold from Wilton)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix the oats, flour, and shredded coconut together.
  3. Over medium heat, melt the honey and nut butter, stirring often.
  4. Dump honey/nut butter mixture into the dry ingredients.
  5. After the mixture cools enough to touch, use your hands to meld them together.
  6. Then, fill up the silicone molds about ¾ of the way.
  7. Bake for 7-9 minutes.
  8. (Recipe can easily be doubled or tripled)

Off to sneak a few,



sharing at Whole New Mom, Fight Back Friday

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Disney’s Frozen, Autism, and Letting it Go…

let it go-disney's frozen, autism, and acceptance

Last week, after I picked Monkey up from preschool, I took him on a date to see Disney’s Frozen. Even packed a lunch to eat in the minivan. In ten degree weather. In Chicago, we get desperate this time of year, so it’s my version of a polar vortex picnic.

I think I cried nearly the entire movie. Well about, 75% of it.

See, I haven’t cried much in years, especially since Moose’s diagnosis back in 2011. This was the most I’ve cried, ever.  Man, did I need a good cry.  It was like this film struck a geyser of emotion that has been brewing for years, to the point that my 4.5 year old Monkey turned to me, and said, “Don’t worry, Mom, I’ll take care of you.”  Then he patted my hand.

I’ve been the proverbial ice queen, not allowing myself the space and time to feel what it means to raise a child with autism.  In real life, I am the type to withdraw and go quietly within myself.  I’ve never been able to really “let it go”.   By letting it go, I mean the guilt, the anger, the rage, and of course, the worry.  Autism has taken so much away from our life, but at the same time, autism has given my family back so much more: a deep understanding of health, learning, education, food, unconditional love, and acceptance.

This post will be filled with spoilers, and though I’m sure since I’m so late in the game, this won’t be new to you. I’m probably the last parent on earth to have seen this film, and judging by the nearly empty movie theatre, I’d say so.

The waterworks started for me during this song, “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” Why? The premise of the song is about the younger sister, Anna begging her older sister, Elsa ,to play, despite Elsa shutting Anna out.  This is autism right here.  The isolation. The lack of social interaction and engagement.

This song paralleled my boys at the height of Moose’s autism: Monkey would try to engage him constantly, and Moose would shut Monkey down and tune him out.

It was like watching the cartoon version of my sons as Disney princesses.

For me, it was heartbreaking watching my sons struggle with the most basic forms of play. Monkey wanted to connect with his brother, but Moose didn’t know how despite years of intervention and “thera”pay”.


Like all autism siblings, they never give up. They see the beauty inside of their brothers and sisters. They persist and persist. Now, nearly three years later post diagnosis, the proverbial break appears in the clouds.

Moose is functioning better each week.  He engages with his brother.  I even watched them wrestling in the snow today. Sure, they are not running about playing superheroes, but I’d say, it’s on the horizon.

So, after the movie began with that snowman song, I of course, dusted off my analytical skills during the rest of the film.  I’m sure this could be applied to any marginalized population: special needs, LGBT, etc.  But, frankly, for me, Frozen was a film about acceptance.  Learning to master your gifts, despite being outside “the norm”.


Later in the film, the song “Fixer-Upper” had me thinking about therapy and autism. Anna meets a character, Kristoff, who is “socially impaired” and would rather talk to his reindeer than real people. Again, this song highlighted an autism struggle for my family: choosing the best for your child.  Even if people are outside the biomedical/homeopathic/nutritional realm of helping autism, most families do try some sort of therapy to “fix” their child be it speech, OT, PT, ABA, RDI, SonRise, Floortime, etc.

The message of this song, is that, the only thing that can fix people is love, which is in line with the type of “therapy” we’ve been doing the past few months. Simply, spending quality time engaged with our child rather than having a parade of therapists in and out of our home.

An autism diagnosis doesn’t mean life without a childhood. Which in some families, it becomes a hectic nightmare of therapy to therapy.  We lived like that for years with little improvement.

Now, life feels like life.  We can breathe.  Go on playdates (despite the fact I hate that term).  Go to movies.

Now, we bring Moose to community classes.  We take him out and about.  For years, it was easier to avoid the tantrums and meltdowns than to face them.  Now, that stage of autism is past for us, and he’s a joy in public. The hardest part of his autism was in the 2-3 year old range, and  today Moose is happy-go-lucky most of the time.  Despite attacking the treasure box of lollipops at Trader Joe’s, he is a sweetheart.

Frankly, this “Fixer-upper” song made me realize my approach to therapy has changed. We can’t afford another thing at this point. It’s PDI: Parent-Directed Intervention (my term for it), but the basis of it is love. Maybe one day, I’ll write a book, and change the face of therapy for our kids.

Not $150 per hour and data sheets. Love. Engagement. Unconditional acceptance.

That’s the message that Frozen gave me in the end: finding it in your heart to accept and love. On those down shitty days, and yes, in the autism world there are a few-you may find me and my sons doing our “music therapy” by spinning and laughing to the Frozen soundtrack.

Finally, now, I’ve really let it go.

Something happened while watching that film, a tide shifted in me.  I can’t quite explain it, but I realized that my negativity has held my son back.

By me letting it go- letting go of all the anger, rage, guilt, and worry: my son will be able to truly thrive.

let it go-disney's frozen, autism, and acceptance

With love,


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How to Save Big at Target (with $1,000 Giveaway!)

how to save money at target

I’ve declared 2014 the year that I will pay off all my debt.  So, I’m on the hunt to save as much money as possible on the essentials.  A few months ago, my cousin recommended the beta version of Target’s new Cartwheel app.  This app is my secret weapon to making the most of my money at Target. how to save money at target Basically, the Cartwheel app is downloadable coupon treasure box (about 700 coupons at any given time) RIGHT into your phone that can be used on in-store purchases at Target.  So, come along with me on my usual Saturday trip to Target, and I’ll show you the ins and outs of this app! First, download the app into your phone. target cartwheel app login You can chose Facebook as your login, or simply use your related email.  If you do use the Facebook option, you can choose not to have the app post on your behalf to your Facebook timeline . You can also manage the app in privacy settings.   menu cartwheel app When you first start using Cartwheel, you get ten spots for coupons.  For those of you who are extreme with coupons, you can use each coupon spot on 4 offers 6 times per day. For example, if you needed massive amounts of copy paper, you could essentially buy 24 packs of copy paper in any given day.  That’s the max allowed. As you start using the app more, you can earn more “badges” which equals more coupon spots.  You can earn badges when you hit savings milestones, post to social media, and add items from special collections.  The Cartwheel app rewards its heavy users. Here’s what the collection section looks like.  You’ll find a ton of seasonal deals here. target collections What’s the best about this app, is that Target allows for coupon stacking! I’ll give you an example.  Coffee.  I’m very particular about my coffee. It must be an organic whole bean dark-roast that is also free trade certified.  Imagine my delight when I saw this:

coffee at target sale price cut

  Then, of course, being the savvy shopper I am, I checked my Cartwheel app:

check cartwheel

Wait, it gets better! I had a Target coupon for $1.50 off two bags of Archer Farms coffee. Finally, I also received an additional 5% off because of my RED Card.  So, my coffee would have ran me: $7.49 a bag normally before the price cut. Which, the grand total, for two bags of my high-quality coffee came to a mere $9.42.

I’m still rather proud of myself.

receipt from target how to save at target with cartwheel, coupons, and redcard

A steal.  Seriously.  I usually pay nearly $16 for two cans of comparable free trade organic coffee at Trader Joe’s. The Target coffee will last me until Spring arrives. Not bad, eh? Thank you, Target, for making my morning jolt more affordable.

So here are the four secrets to saving big at Target:

1.) You can use your Target coupons.

2.) On top of that, you can use a manufacturer’s coupon.

3.) Then, scan your Cartwheel app to check for additional discounts.

4.) At the end, ring up the purchase with your Target RedCard Debit or Credit Card for an extra 5% the total.

I love watching the total fall at the register to the amazement of the customer behind me.  You should have seen my total at Christmas, I saved over $100!

The deals on Cartwheel change often, so it pays off to check in on the categories you use most.  When you check out with Cartwheel, just show the barcode on the app to your cashier.  All the coupons you add into your spots are in that single barcode.  Easy, right?

Thank me later about introducing you to the happiness that is the Target Cartwheel app.  Ah, the joy of saving money.

Speaking of money, how about $1,000 giveaway? Tell me a few of your Target must-haves in the comments below for your chance to win a $1,000Target GiftCard®!

Good Luck,



Sweepstakes Rules:

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You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

  1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 72 hours to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 1/30 – 2/28.

Be sure to visit the Target Cartwheel brand page on where you can read other bloggers’ posts!



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the autism marathon: a letter to a new autism parent

side effects of quitting coffee

There’s nothing more in this world, that I want right now, to hoist you on my shoulders and carry you to the finish line.  Nothing more in this world.  I know the pain, the anguish, the worry, the late nights spent on google, I know it all.

It’s an ugly, raw, and shitty place to be.  You are in the sewers of parenthood, looking up at all your friends and relatives with their perfect lives and happy birthday parties and easy days, and you are all like: where the hell did we go wrong?

Sure, there are a lot of wrongs that got you here.  In this place.   We all know what they are, so I won’t go into the gory detail, for now, I want to focus on the HOW to get you out of here.

I want to tell you there’s a magic pill or therapy, but that would be all wrong.  Sure it’s some of those things, but not ALL of the things.

If my Moose, the most textbook case of autism, can transcend the prognosis of his asshat developmental pediatrician: YOU CAN TOO.

He is potty-trained.

He knows words.

He engages and shows emotions.

He is no longer a textbook case of autism, but a case of autism in remission.

You will fight each day, as you will have to. Some family members and dear friends will remark, I don’t know how you do it.  You get up, put your boxing gloves on, and fight.  Some days you will drink wine and coffee.  Some days, at the same time.  You will fight insurance.  You will fight school districts.  You will fight and fight and fight until you realize the biggest fight you are fighting is the fight within yourself and your expectations of your child.

Your child is here to teach you that there is no recipe for the perfect child.

You will find love in their many challenges.

In the bite marks on their teachers’ arms.

You will find grace at three a.m. when they laugh and jump on their bed.

One day, you will wake up, far too early, and look in the mirror.

You will see bags under your eyes, new grey hairs forming, and see the beauty of yourself in that fight.

You will open your sons’ bedroom door.

And start, again.

side effects of quitting coffee



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Gluten-Free Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese Recipe

butternut squash mac and cheese recipe, gluten-free mac and cheese recipe

It’s winter. Comfort food takes precedence, right?  Now that we’ve added grass-fed dairy back into our diets (can I get an Amen?), I’ve reintroduced my kids to some family favorites.  I grew up on the boxed powdered stuff.  Homemade mac and cheese is heaven in comparison.  I dreamed up this recipe, because frankly, butternut squash is the right color and texture for sneaking it in to mac and cheese.

Despite my profound love of healthy eating, my kids, like many American kids, aren’t crazy about many vegetables in their normal form.   So, it’s my duty to be as sneaky as possible.  Butternut squash loads this dish with vitamin A, and the grass-fed dairy actually activates the vitamin A, because it’s a fat-soluble vitamin.   Meaning, without fat, your vitamins A, D, E, and K just don’t work.  True story.

butternut squash mac and cheese recipe, gluten-free mac and cheese recipe

 So, behold!  This gluten-free butternut squash mac and cheese reheats well too.  Why?  The squash and cheese mixture doesn’t congeal!

I’ve made this probably 50 times at this point.  It’s a fast meal if you prep a lot of frozen pureed butternut squash in ice cube trays.  My kids like the goat cheese version of these.  Why?  My kids are weird.  They love goat cheese, hummus, and green smoothies.

Hope you like this new plugin I found! Now you can print my creations and have my caustic wit forever in your cookbooks and recipes boxes. I’m working through my catalog of recipes (some with really BAD photos from 4 years ago, so stay tuned!!)

Gluten-Free Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
If your kids are veggie-haters, this is a perfect way to sneak them in!
Recipe type: Lunch/Side Dish
Cuisine: Americana/ Sneaky Veggies
Serves: 4
  • medium butternut squash, roasted
  • 1 cup of cheese* (goat, romano, or even Kerrygold- opt for grass-fed dairy here!)
  • 2 T of milk or alternative milk
  • *if you are vegan: use soaked 1cup cashews with 2 Tables of nutritional yeast. You need a high-power blended like a vitamix or Blentec though.
  • ½ bag of Trader Joe’s GF organic brown rice pasta spirals. One of the best and cheapest GF pastas out there.
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Cut off the top and bottom of the squash.
  3. Place face down in the glass pan
  4. Bake for 40 minutes.
  5. About 20 minutes in, start boiling your water for the noodles.
  6. Cook noodles for 9 minutes. Perfect every time! Set aside.
  7. Let the squash cool slightly, then scoop and toss the seeds.
  8. Scoop out flesh.
  9. Add to a high power blender (I use a Vitamix. Worth every penny.)
  10. Add cheese.
  11. Add 2 tablespoons of milk.
  12. Blend on high for one minutes.
  13. Pour the happiness on your cooked GF pasta.
  14. Be amazed at how the color looks like the “mac and cheese” you used to eat as a kid in the blue box. Pat yourself on the back that your kids will eat roughly ½ pound of squash without knowing.


linking up at: food renegade,Sunday Showcase

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10,000 Steps a Day: A Solution for Gym Haters

police walk

I have a confession to make.  I hate “working out”.  I really hate “the gym”- which is ironic that I am married to a man who lives at the gym.  I am amazed by people who have energy to run marathons and play sports.  I did whatever I could, even as far back as elementary school, to get out of gym class.  Sports, meh, not my thing.   I’ve always been the artsy reader who would much rather park my ass in the sand with a good book than swim or snorkel or whatever.

I love walking and yoga.  Yoga studios are my thing: quiet, serene, and a real escape from the everyday grind.  Problem being, here in Chicago, we are talking upwards of $17 bucks a class.  Not good for a family trying to pay down debt.  I guess I will stick to cheesy rented yoga videos for now.

But, my friends, I did find something that has motivated me plenty.  Despite being a woman of letters, I’ve developed a fondness for numbers and tracking things. I blame google analytics and the classroom for that one.  When I was teaching, we were challenged to wear a pedometer by one of our principals.  I found myself moving more because I knew I was being watched.

Now, I’m my own Big Brother.

I’ve applied that same principle to my not-so lofty fitness goals for this year: move more and relax.  I’m wearing a pedometer to track my steps.  It makes me move more.  If I look at my pedometer, and it’s 2 p.m., and I’ve only moved 3,000 steps, I know I need to start moving!  It’s hard when a lot of your life is spent starting at a screen, sitting on your butt.

Apple needs to invent some computer that forces you to move, like that Nintendo jump pad thing from the early 90s.

I do struggle with energy issues.  I know the more I move, the better I feel.  But I’m allergic to gyms. Seriously. The smelly dripping men.  The creepy tan people in January.  I get really grossed out seeing other people’s sweat on the machines.

I’ve always subscribed to the European idea of working out…just walk a lot!

So, I’ll stick to this pedometer thing until we get out from the Polar Vortex.   At the end of each day, I write my steps on my calendar.  It’s that simple.  I’ve been secretly bribing myself with money each day I hit 10,000. $10 to spend on whatever I want.  Maybe a yoga class. Not going to lie, it’s been rough this month.  It’s Siberia here in Chicago.  I can’t walk the dog.  I’m stuck in the house with my sons in 1000 square feet.

I’ve read that 10,000 steps equates with 5 miles, and that studies show it’s the ideal amount of movement to have in a day for health and wellness.  The average American walks about 100 steps a day, to the car, and to the sofa when they get home from work.  I kid. I believe the average is between 3,000-4,000 for most Americans.

But  I wanted to share this with you, in case you need a kick in the butt.  Or if you hate the gym like me.



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How to Go Gluten-Free

how to eat gluten-free -

I’ve been gluten-free for four years.  I can’t believe something I had to do on the advice of my doctor is now a “trend”.  I’m rather grateful that it’s more popular now, because believe you me, I’ve eaten some rather nasty things in the past four years.  What was once a small section at Whole Paycheck or a health food store, is now an entire aisle at any grocery store.

Four years ago, when we embarked on this major lifestyle change, gluten-free was in the margins. Now it’s on the packaging of every food product you pass at your local Target.  Even the mainstream restaurants are catching on.  Hell, even Dunkin’ Donuts has a GF option.

What’s next: a gluten-free Happy Meal?

Don’t get me started on the crap in fast food.  A whole nother’ blog post.  A book.  Actually…

Regardless, I am grateful for the word GLUTEN’s move into the spotlight.  At least, it makes the diet was are on more “socially acceptable”- not that I care much about that because I’m the unwilling poster child for all things health food and what not.  Part of the job as an autism mom.  I’m the first one to wax about GMOs, food dye, food allergies, yeah.  You know if you’ve read me for any number of months.


how to eat gluten-free -


This begins a month-long series of everything I’ve learned.  The tips. The tricks. The ins. The flours to avoid.  The tests to ask for before you even attempt this lifestyle change.

It’s not a diet to me, this truly is a lifestyle.   I have a genetic disorder that doesn’t allow me to eat fortified foods (namely everything with regular wheat flour), in addition, I have years of bloodwork showing extremely high levels of immune reaction to both wheat and gluten.

So, before you even THINK about pulling all gluten out of your diet, please make a doctor’s appointment.

Ask for the CELIAC panel.

Ask for the HLA-DQ2 and DQ8 CELIAC genetic testing.


If you go gluten-free BEFORE testing for Celiac Disease, you could skew your results.  Gluten needs to be in your system to accurately gauge your IMMUNE REACTION to gluten.   If you are in the dark about this, PLEASE VISIT: The University of Chicago’s page- it has an incredible Celiac Department.

Celiac Disease, isn’t a trend, this is a serious disease which is the immune reaction to gluten, and requires a strictly maintained gluten-free diet for life.

Many Americans walking around, with loads of health issues, have it and don’t know it.  Which angers me on a whole other level, because so many doctors are looking in the wrong places for answers.

It’s time for a gut check, literally.  So, make that appointment with a knowledgable doctor first.   Be pushy. This is your health.

When I went for my genetic testing for MTHFR, my doctor looked at me like I had three heads.  She agreed to the testing, placating me that “I most likely won’t have it”…and sure as shit, I did.  Trust your intuition.

If those tests come out negatory, then the next step is to evaluate your health.  Do you have migraines? Anemia? Brain fog?  Skin issues?  IBS?  Anxiety? Depression?  Compromised digestion? Diarrhea? Constipation?  A combo of both?

You may be gluten-intolerant.

If you answered yes to any of those questions, then I’d suggest a gluten-free trial of at least 1 year.  According to all the doctors I’ve worked with for my son, it takes 6 months for the digestive system to clear gluten proteins.  So doing this for a few weeks isn’t going to cut it.

It sucks.  Yes.

Socially, it sucks.

I’m not going to lie.  It’s the hardest thing I had to do in my life.  I’m Italian. From Chicago.  I grew up on pasta and bread.

But, you can do this.

You can.

If I could be on this “diet” for 4 years…it’s not a diet.  It’s merely a different way of looking at food.

I feel better at age 34 than I did at 23.  Now, that I live without the gluten.

But first, get all the blood work done.  Please.


Stay tuned for more info on going gluten-free,



sharing @ Sunday Showcase

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Books I’m Reading in 2014

We are seven days into the new year, and already, I’ve read three books!  I should qualify this with three books that aren’t related to health, autism, and special needs. I’ve always been a bookworm, a bibliophile.  My house is full with thousands of books.  Yes, thousands.

This year, I’m taking more time to read. In years past, I’ve taken classes and gone out to do.  I’m just too tired to “do” much this year.  So I’m going to return to my roots and read more.


I swear my bookshelves (and Kindle app) have swelled in the past few years with all nonfiction I’ve consumed.

This year, I’m trying to only a.) thrift books or b.) read things in my shelves that I’ve been meaning to read or c.) beg, borrow, or steal from the library/friends/etc.

So, here’s a peek at what I’ve been up to reading.  It’s nothing earth-shattering.  I already read all the indie meta-fiction in my 20s, so I’m not going to impress you with my love of David Foster Wallace, or anything McSweeney’s.  I haven’t read a lick of fiction since Moose was diagnosed with autism in 2010.

So, here’s the reads so far:

1.) Malcom Gladwell’s Outliers.  I bought this at a thrift store for a quarter.  Could NOT put it down.  Gladwell is a master at page-turning, and crafting storylines.  Fantastic read for anyone who wants to really understand what makes “self-made” successes…truly successes.

2.) For Christmas, my brother bought me Tim Ferriss’ 4 Hour Work Week.  Anyone who has read this blog for any length of time knows I started an educational business with a friend, and frankly, this was another great read for those of your with an enterpreneurial spirit stuck in dead-end jobs.  There was a ton of great, immediate take-aways that I’m already incorporating into my work day, and frankly, my life.

I’d love for Tim Ferriss to write a book on parenting.  I don’t think he has kids yet…but that would be a read.

3.) Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover.  Yes, the Christian-get-out-of-debt radio host.  I borrowed this book from a friend a few years back.  It’s time to pay down all those lingering student loans from grad school and credit cards that ballooned from autism expenses over the past few years.  So, the estate begins the debt snowball in the middle of the polar vortex.


I seriously wonder if I will ever read fiction again.  There’s just so much to learn about everything else, that stories, seem to me, just well, escapist.

I should escape more.  I barely watch tv.  I am drawing and blogging often.

So, here’s my list so far for 2014.

I will update this as I go.


January 2014:

1.) Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers

2.) Tim Ferriss’s The 4 Hour Work Week

3.) Dave Ramsey: The Total Money Makeover.

4.) ?


Any non-fiction you suggest?  I’m ready for my next read!



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Chicago Takes Hollywood: An Indie Filmmaker Dreams Big

support kickstarter anna musso indie filmmaker

I met my best friend Anna in Algebra class during my freshman year of high school now, 20 years ago.  Over those years we’ve grown from insecure poetry-writing teens into women with ambition and dreams.

support kickstarter anna musso indie filmmaker

Her dream: filmmaking.

For nearly the past decade, she’s worked on incredible films with the Ad Hominem production company in Los Angeles headed by visionary director Alexander Payne.

In 2011, Anna wrote and directed a short film, L Train, which was shot here in Chicago during our second worst snowstorm to date.  L Train, won many awards, was shown at Sundance, and was up for Oscar-consideration.  You can watch that moving short film below:

If I had a million dollars, I’d hand it over to her right now.  She’s that talented.  Hollywood needs more storytellers like Anna.  In a field dominated by trite storylines and, frankly men, Hollywood needs her voice-  a strong-willed brillant mind from a middle-class family here in Chicago.

Someone who will tell the stories that deserve to be told.

The only thing standing between Anna and her next film, is of course, the almighty dollar.  Making this second short film, RUN FAST, will be her ticket to making a feature-length picture in the next five years.

I’m not one to use this blog for profit or purposes as such, so when I am asking that if you have read and enjoyed my stories, recipes, and ideas…if you could help support the dream of one of my oldest friends- it really would mean the world to her and to me.

Even a dollar.  The change between your cushions.

Kickstarter is linked to Amazon now, which seriously, makes donating a no-brainer.

I know in the next two decades, as Anna continues to prove her brilliance, you will be glad you helped back this film.

Anna thanks you in advance.  Even the smallest amount helps.  Click here to learn more about her campaign at Kickstarter which ends THIS MONDAY, and more about her upcoming film, RUN FAST.

With love,


p.s. She will kill me for telling you this but Glamour Magazine named my dear Anna Musso one of their 35 UNDER 35 TO WATCH IN HOLLYWOOD! Her nickname in the article is THE UPSTART.

p.s.s. There was a nun in high school that terrorized Anna and me, and told us, despite our honors classes we would amount to nothing. I’d like that Sister to now eat those words.

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