I made these cookies before Christmas but never got around to sharing them with you and for that, I apologize. Growing up, we would spend most of December making fabulous Christmas cookies and then eat them all throughout the holidays. It was one of my favourite parts of Christmas and I was excited to continue on the tradition into my married life. But we ran into some problems. Dan only likes one type of cookie and I am now gluten/dairy/corn free. So much for a wide variety of Christmas cookies.

But I have learned to live without all the frenzied December baking and can now appreciate a good cookie when I come across one. And in December 2013, I did just that. My sister-in-law Tara introduced me to her gingerbread cookies.

I immediately fell in love with them and asked for the recipe. I needed to make these cookies more often. I had every intention of making them throughout the year and being able to enjoy their chewy flavourfulness whenever I wanted to, but life got in the way and it was December again. Oh well. Once a year will have to do.

One of the reasons I love these cookies is that I can roll them out and make them into shapes. I feel like Christmas isn't really Christmas unless you have some classic gingerbread men to nibble on. Yes, they're a little more fragile than normal cookies but they aren't horrible to work with. And the end result is pretty darn good too.

I had some issues with my first batch (as you can see from the one legged man above) but for my first time making these, I think I did okay. I ate them all within four days of making them, so they must have been decent.

For those of you who can't eat gluten, dairy or corn, I would highly recommend these cookies. Just be careful with the cooking time, because if you overcook them, they tend to be super hard to bite into.

What is your favourite cookie?


Foodie Friday Mini Series, Take 2

Week 1: Banana Bread
Week 2: Butternut Squash Soup & Flat Bread 
Week 3: Nutty Chocolate Bark
Week 4: Lazy Sunday Casserole 
Week 5: Teriyaki Meatball Bowls
Week 6: Rosemary Garlic Beef Stew
Week 7: Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins
Week 8: Pumpkin Muffins
Week 9: Tourtiere
Week 10: Gingerbread Cookies

As I mentioned in Tuesday's late night post, we are doing our first medicated cycle this month. We've been waking up at 4:00am every morning for the last five days in order to make it to Toronto for 7:00am for our monitoring appointments. I am officially exhausted, with very sore arms from all the blood work.

But happy news, we didn't have to go this morning! Nope, lucky me got to sleep in until 7:30am! I pretty much wanted to sleep all day but I have things to do, so I forced myself out of my cozy bed.

This post will be short and sweet, because I honestly have no energy to write much and because I don't have very many topics to write on. I just thought you should all know that I am very brave. So brave in fact, that I gave myself an injection in my stomach!

I know that to some of you, it may not be that big of a deal. And for those of you who have to do this regularly, I really admire you. This was my first time stabbing a needle into my tummy and I was very nervous.

This medication is called Ovidrel and it triggers ovulation. So after injecting myself, I should ovulate in the next 36 hours.

It really wasn't that big of a deal and it didn't hurt too much, I'm just a bit of a dramatic baby. So I got myself all worked up and then felt nervous and a little sick afterwards. Especially since I really hate needles and the thought of them makes me queasy.

Fortunately, I only have to take this one, so I'm now done for this cycle. Well, injections that is. We are back to the clinic for another monitoring appointment on Saturday to confirm ovulation. But then we'll get a break from the travels for a couple of weeks!

Have any of you had to give yourself a needle before? Does it get easier the more you do it?

The blog is being a little neglected this week. I thought I would be able to keep up but this week is kicking my butt.

At first I wasn't sure if I was going to share with you guys when we started our first medicated cycle but then I decided that I may as well, I share everything else. Plus, I like to educate others by sharing my experience with infertility and I like to keep it real around here. And I also don't want you to think I'm a bad blogger. And I could totally use your prayers and good thoughts.

January 2nd marked the beginning of my cycle so I started the baby aspirin and called the clinic to set up my first monitoring appointment. We went in to Toronto on January 4th for our first round of blood work and ultrasound and to pick up our prescription for Letrozole.

Oh and did I mention we had a mini ice storm that day? The roads were really bad when we first left but improved the closer we got to Toronto. Good thing it was a Sunday and Dan could come with me, since I tend to get stressed driving in bad weather.

I took the Letrozole from days 3-7 and had minor side effects from it. The most prominent ones were hot flashes, a small amount of nausea and being slightly overly emotional. I didn't feel like myself and was happy to stop taking them by the time day 7 rolled around.

We headed back to downtown Toronto on day 9, which was January 10th, for our monitoring appointment. And that's what we have been doing every morning since. Dan was able to come with me on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday but I had to go alone today. I felt very brave tackling the GO train and subway all on my own, especially considering that public transit scares me to death. But I didn't get lost and I am proud of myself for doing it.

Can I just say that 4:00am is an ungodly hour? It is brutal getting up at that time multiple days in a row. Especially since the purpose of such early rising is to travel an hour and a half away (that's only if there is no traffic) and then be poked and prodded. Having blood taken and an internal ultrasound done every morning is not a pleasant way to start your day.

Oh and that above picture showing 3 degrees? It lies. I had been parked in the garage over night so it didn't register the real temperature yet. It really should have said -22 degrees. Ya, add the freezing cold temperatures to the early wake ups and you have got  yourself one grumpy girl.

So faithful readers, this is where we are at right now. In the midst of our first cycle and feeling very overwhelmed and over tired. I knew that the traveling and monitoring would be tough but I really had no idea how tough. Being in the midst of it sucks. It really really does. I so admire people who do fertility treatments and with how well they hold up during them.

I realize that I am very fortunate that Dan has been able to come with me to most of my appointments, having him there for moral support means so much to me. I am also so thankful for understanding family members who listen to me whine and cry over the phone, it helps to get out the emotions. And I am also very appreciative of wise friends who explain things to me and keep me sane while I try to deal with all the confusing jargon that comes from doctors and nurses.

So please, if you pray, can you pray for us? Pray for strength to get through the rest of this week while we continue to go in for daily for monitoring. Like I said, it is exhausting and I am feeling very discouraged. Pray that everything continues to look good and that this cycle continues to move forward successfully. And lastly, pray that it works. The whole purpose of this is to get pregnant and I am so scared that it won't actually happen. I keep telling myself that all of these early morning wake ups and travel and blood tests and ultrasounds and medication will be worth it in the end. But that is only if the end results in a baby. And I am terrified that it won't.

Mists on Lake Ontario
I'll probably be back later this week to tell you about my experience giving myself a shot in my stomach and to update you on our cycle and how many more days we had to go to Toronto for. I hope you don't mind all this infertility talk, but it's what we're living right now and I have no energy to focus on anything else.

As you may have been able to tell by now, when Dan and I get an idea for a new project in our heads, we tend to jump in with both feet and just do it. No waiting around or lengthy planning processes involved, just get er done. <---- That is Dan's redneck influence wearing off on me.

We live in a three bedroom house and for the past three years, we have had a master bedroom, an office and a guest room. The original plan was to turn the office into a nursery when we had a baby. Except the whole baby thing isn't really happening as quickly as we had once hoped so we weren't in any rush to convert the office over.

Well for the last couple of months, we have realized that our small desk just wasn't cutting it anymore and we needed something a little bigger to accommodate our growing business.

Isn't it beautiful? We are so happy with how it turned out and love how much room we have for everything now.

For those of you who haven't memorized our house layout and don't know what used to be there, let me remind you.

The air hockey table came with the house, I'm assuming because the old owners didn't want to move it. And while it has been fun to have when our nieces and nephew come for their yearly visit, it was taking up valuable space and went mostly unused. I finally convinced Dan that we should post it on Kijiji (kind of like Craigslist) and move our office down to the basement.

But we weren't in a rush. Our old desk was still working okay for us and we decided we would take our time. You know, sell the air hockey table first then shop around for a good price on a desk, etc. But alas, that is not how we do stuff. When shopping at Costco the end of December, we came across the perfect desk for a really good price. So we took home the information sheet, measured out our area, decided we could totally make it work and then returned and purchased the desk.

Before building it though, we wanted to make sure that the layout we had planned in our heads would actually work in our space. So we took the tops of the desks and laid them out on the floor until we were happy with the set up.

Once that step was finished, we got to work tearing up carpet and laying a new laminate floor. We originally planned to just buy one of those chair mats that you can get at an office supply store but once we priced them out, we decided that wasn't the way to go. Since our carpet in the basement is considered plush, we would have to buy a heavy duty mat and they cost approximately $140. We priced out laminate flooring that was on sale at Home Depot and it cost about $100. So the flooring won, especially since we knew it would look nicer too.

Doesn't it look nice? We later got transition strips to go along the edges but I didn't get a good finished picture of it, so you'll just have to trust me on that one. We put down the flooring in an afternoon and immediately wanted to get to work putting together the desk. Fortunately for us, the instructions were well written and it came together quickly. By the end of the first night, it was looking a lot more like an office!

The next day we got back to work on it and finished off the flooring (transition strips) and put together the rest of the desk. Weekend project, done.

We also bought a new chair since our old one was breaking and an extra filing cabinet for more space. Our office totally rocks now.

It feels like it was always there and we don't miss our old desk at all. We went from a small cramped space to a large beautiful office in one weekend.

We sold the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey light and our old desk within a few days of posting them on Kijiji but have yet to sell the air hockey table. So it's still in the basement, leaning against the wall, taking up space. If you know of anyone who wants one, let us know!

I now have a mostly empty room upstairs that has no immediate need. No nursery for us yet. Any of you have any ideas on what to do with the room? Other than storage that is.

What do you think of our new office? Do you like it? Do any of you need to have a dedicated office space for a home business? Or do most of you not even have an office?

I haven't posted a Foodie Friday post since November, what a slacker I have been. I hope you guys will forgive me though, especially since I have some good recipes lined up for the next few weeks. I guess that's one perk to taking a month off from posting recipes, I have a bunch ready to share with you now.

Growing up, we usually had a special meal on Christmas Eve and I thought it was a really fun tradition. I decided that Dan and I should continue on the tradition but find our own special meal to have. Since I have so many food intolerances, it was a little hard to come up with a good one but we finally landed on tourtiere. Now I am quite aware that some of you just read that word over a few times and still have no idea what I'm talking about, so I thought I would enlighten you by sharing Wikipedia's definition of it.

Tourtière, also popularly referred to in Canada in print and in its pronunciation as tortière) is a meat pie originating from Lower Canada (now Quebec), usually made with finely diced pork, veal or beef. Wild game is often added to enhance the taste of the pie. A traditional part of the Christmas réveillon and New Year's Eve meal in Quebec, it is also sold in grocery stores all year long.

So, are we clear on what it is now? Basically it's a meat pie. And really, what is better than pastry and meat combined into one delicious dish?

I use a recipe that has been handed down to me from my grandmother and personally, I think it's the best one there is. Probably because the flavour is so familiar to me, since this is the one we grew up eating. Either way, it's delicious.

Here is the tricky part though, the crust. Have you ever tried making gluten/dairy/corn free crust? If you have, you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, imagine the least cooperative pastry you have ever dealt with and then times that by ten or so. Basically, it sucks.

Here is the good news for me though. I have MAGIC FLOUR! Seriously, it's amazing. I've talked about it before and I really do feel bad for those of you who don't have access to it. So far I have only seen it for sale in Sherbrooke, Quebec. But I'm hoping that most of you who are gluten-free have come across a mix that works well for you. If so, use that when it asks for flour. And for those of you who don't need to worry about allergies, use your favourite pastry recipe!

The pastry was still hard to work with and was super fragile but it worked and I got it into the pie plates.

The best part though, was that it actually tasted good! So not only was the pastry workable, it didn't taste like sawdust in the end. So yay!

The filling recipe makes enough for two pies so we cooked one and froze one for later. We usually serve our tourtiere with mashed potatoes and veggies but really you can have it with whatever you want. Or by itself. It's that good.

Here are the two recipes, one for the meat filling and one for the gluten-free crust. I doubled the pie crust recipe since I had so much filling.

Nanny's Tourtiere
Makes enough for two 9" pies
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
2 small onions, grated
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp salt
1 tsp savory
1/2 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 c bread crumbs or crushed crackers or small cubed cooked potato

Fry meat with onions, garlic and spices. When it is nicely browned, drain off fat and then add crumbs/crackers/potato. Let cool completely before putting into prepared pie crusts. 

Cook pies at 400 F for 30 minutes or until golden brown and heated through. 

Flaky Pie Crust 
Makes two 9" pie crusts 

2 c all-purpose gluten-free flour mix
1/8 tsp salt
2/3 c Tenderflake pure lard (or Crisco vegetable shortening)
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 c cold water

In a large bowl, mix flour and salt. Cut in lard using your hands or dough cutter until mixture resembles coarse oatmeal. 

Add water and cider vinegar to flour mixture and mix well. The mixture will be sticky and this is normal. Gather into a ball and refrigerate in a sealed container for a minimum of 3 hours. 

Once cooled, divide into portions and roll out each of them on a lightly floured surface. If necessary, gently lift the dough and add flour to the surface and rolling pin. Always make sure the dough does not stick. 

Once rolled, fold the dough in half, place it into pie plate and gently unfold. Uncooked dough may be placed in freezer, separate using wax paper.

Do you have a special meal you only eat once a year? Have you ever had tourtiere? Or is this your first time hearing about it?


Foodie Friday Mini Series, Take 2

Week 1: Banana Bread
Week 2: Butternut Squash Soup & Flat Bread 
Week 3: Nutty Chocolate Bark
Week 4: Lazy Sunday Casserole 
Week 5: Teriyaki Meatball Bowls
Week 6: Rosemary Garlic Beef Stew
Week 7: Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins
Week 8: Pumpkin Muffins
Week 9: Tourtiere

It has been cold here lately and this picture sums up my feelings over the past few days, so I thought I would share.

It's Tuesday and I don't really have any cool things to share with you guys. But since it is January, the month of new beginnings and fresh starts, I have so many random things going through my head! Which means I should probably share them with you, right? Right.

1) I have the sudden desire to go through my entire house and purge everything. And by that I really just mean the storage room and our bedroom, all the other rooms can stay as is. But the storage room and bedroom, they need a good cleaning out of junk. It's time.

2) As you may have read in my goals post, I want to read 30 books this year. Well so far I'm off to a great start, having already finished two by this point. Go me! But combined with my goal of 30 books, I'm also trying to work off a cool list I found on Pinterest, which encourages you to read a variety of books you may not have chosen yourself. I won't be sticking to this list like crazy or anything but I like it as a general guideline.
3) We've been doing some rearranging of furniture and rooms at our house and so now I am stuck with a completely empty room. And by empty I mean it has a futon and a dresser in it. I have no idea what to do with that room now. Ideally, I want it to eventually be a nursery but in the meantime? No clue. Any suggestions?

4) I'm still in my housecoat. That's how lazy I am starting off the new year. I don't even get dressed before 9:00am.

5) It is COLD here today and is supposed to be cold for the rest of the week. We finally got some snow after having a completely green and wet Christmas, so outside now looks a little nicer. Too bad it's too cold to enjoy it. It's like -12 Celsius (feels more like -17). I know it can still get worse but this feels brutal after being 2 degrees on Sunday.

6) I have been flossing my teeth almost every day for over two months now. I'm feeling pretty proud of myself.

7) We are going to see Josh Turner in concert on February 20th and I CAN'T WAIT! We rarely go to concerts so this is kind of a big deal for us.
Josh Turner
8) I really want to get back into the habit of blogging every day but I'm super struggling for topics. I feel like we aren't doing enough cool projects to share and then I feel bad for that. Which is stupid, because I know that you guys are just happy to read whatever I write. Mostly.

9) After going crazy knitting a ton of Christmas presents, I haven't picked up my needles and yarn in a month. I guess I need a bit of a break before diving headlong into my next knitting project.

10) I told myself that I would do better at cooking Dan and I good healthy meals come January. It's now almost a week in and I have yet to make a decent meal for us. Total fail on my part.

There you have it, my random thoughts on this cold Tuesday morning. What is everyone else up to?