Yummiest and Easiest Cauliflower Mac-n-Cheese (gluten free)

Ok, I happen to be a person who actually likes cauliflower. But all my life, I have LOVED macaroni and cheese. I could’ve solely lived on it actually. (Well anything with cheese.) 🧀🧀

But I’m also now trying to avoid gluten in dealing with this Sjogren’s and Lyme Disease. Sooooo I thought this might be a good combo and away I went with experimentation. 👩‍🍳

My husband is the official taste tester around here and if he says a recipe I come up with is delicious, like this cauliflower mac-n-cheese, then I publish it!👌🏼😁

And we BOTH really loved this, so we hope you do too!

Ingredients:

1 Head of cauliflower

1 Block of softened cream cheese

2 Cups sharp cheddar cheese

1/2 Cup parmesan cheese (opt)

1 Pint of heavy whipping cream

2 T. Plain Greek yogurt (optional) or sour cream

5 Strips of thick bacon (diced) or 1-2 (3 oz. pkgs) of “real” bacon bits

Panko bread crumbs

Seasonings: Black pepper, garlic powder, salt, smoked paprika, sriracha hot chili sauce. (To taste… but let me tell you, the more seasonings the better, in my opinion.😁 I’m kind of the seasoning queen, ha. )

Directions:

Chop up the cauliflower. Then boil till it is slightly tender. Drain the water. Mix all the above ingredients except the cauliflower and melt together on stovetop lastly add in the cooked bacon or bits. (But also save back some cheese and bacon bits for toppings.) Place everything in a baking dish and cover with bread crumbs, more shredded cheese, bacon bits and finish with sriracha hot chili sauce.

Finally, broil till everything is lightly browned and crispy on top. 😋

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. 🥄🥄

This is not a sponsored post, but I did find everything at ALDIS…Love ALDIS!

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Easter is My Favorite Holiday

If anyone knows me well, they know I love Easter!

No I mean I really LOVE Easter!💗

I was thinking about this the other day as we had a few sunny days and all this spring decor had me thinking about Easter and why I liked it so much. 🐥🐇


Well for one,  I grew up in southern California where it was always WARM and SUNNY, 😎 so Easter had us buying new, spring clothes with all the beautiful colors.

My mom sewed almost all my clothes and Easter was extra special as we browsed through huge pattern books and admired all the pretty pastel fabrics.

Then, what followed was looking for the accessories: white shoes, purse and little white gloves, with lace.

I loved my little, white gloves so much that I wouldn’t take them off when eating chocolate in Sunday school. 😂

And occasionally I had a “bonnet” or kerchief.

We had so much fun coloring Easter eggs.

And then there were the HUGE, SEE’S Chocolate Easter eggs beautifully decorated with pastel flowers. They were almost the size of an ostrich egg and usually filled with a rich creamy filling. That  big ol’ egg would be rationed to last me 2 weeks HA.

Oh, I just loved waking up to big, stuffed Easter baskets, putting on my Easter best, going to church with the family, singing all the special music, smelling the flowers in the air, then enjoying a big Easter spread.

Just lots of really warm memories.


Now, compare that to my first Easter in Indiana.

I was so bummed when I realized my pretty, new sun dress was going to be covered by a winter coat, and it was way too cold ❄️ to even want to take it off for any pictures.😒

Year after year.

Why did we even bother getting new clothes for Easter?🤷🏻‍♀️

Yep, Easter in the midwest has pretty much always been cold, rainy or overcast. Sometimes it even snows! Just makes you feel all cheery inside when looking forward to spring. (Insert sarcasm) 😒

Then, I grew up and my own kids came along.

SAME STORY.

I’d try to dress them in cute, little outfits but worried their little legs would freeze off, so I added tights, a sweater,

a parka. 😞

And we still tried to provide an Easter egg hunt…most were INDOORS.

But I mean, who wants to hunt Easter eggs INDOORS? 👎🏼

And guess who else likes little, white gloves?👇🏻

He just had to have a suit.

So, my thoughts going way back to sunny California have always brought fond memories. ☀️

As I reflect, I can say one constant has remained.

That Easter really has NOTHING to do with any of this.

Not weather, not new clothes, or a big yummy meal, not even another “holiday”…

That it’s all really only been about Jesus.

Easter always caused me to reflect on what Christ has done for me, personally.

Rereading the resurrection story and the hours Christ submitted to his father’s will just grips my heart every time. I try to slow down taking in each detail of what really took place.

The torture, the betrayal, the extreme love and sacrifice for all mankind.

Every year of my life, even as a kid, I tried to imagine the scene, and it always moved me to tears.

No matter how I try to contain myself, the tears always flow.

Because I know no one could ever love me that much, nor willingly sacrifice their life for me.

And so it’s not the new clothes, the candy, the sunshine…not even being with family.

It’s about pure love. Unimaginable tenderness for ALL mankind.

You never have to earn this love nor question his love for you.

Bottom line…

He came as a baby

to die as a young man.

For you and for me. ❤️

He created us and He wants to see us again with Him someday.


Hope you have a very blessed Easter!

What are your traditions on Easter Sunday? Please tell me in the comments.

Today I Reflect

Have you ever been betrayed? Betrayed to the point it will cost you your life? Choices. Today, Maundy Thursday is observed by Christians everywhere…the Thursday before Easter. 🌷It also signifies the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with his apostles prior to his betrayal and ultimately his death. Can you imagine loving another so much that you’re willing to die for them including the one that betrayed you? Heavy, heavy choices. Today I pause to reflect on both the turmoil and burden Christ must’ve had in his heart. Life brings many choices… some, very difficult. You just pray you’re hearing correctly. Yesterday, I had to help make such a choice for my mother who could not make the choice for herself. Seeing her cry, being continually scared 💔(esp since her cardiologist stroked her) just put through SO MUCH since October and now yet another, major, choice followed by surgery. I sure hoped and prayed I was doing the right thing on her behalf. AND praying the doctors were right this time. My heart felt like it would burst. Only time will tell if we made the right one. So today, I lean hard on my Lord and reflect on choices and the heavy decisions that Christ would face as he walked this lone road. 💗 Life can be hard, not at all like we expected and yet we still have to believe this is the path God intended us to walk. Ultimately, he is in control and knows beginning to end. It’s our path to walk. Our story. Our testimony. Hard or not. May I make the right choices and may I be found worthy in the end. 🙌

My backyard

Travel to Virginia (Battle of Bull Run, Jamestown, and Virginia Beach)

Recently, I decided to leave with my husband on his business trip to Manassas, Virginia. A lot has happened these last 5 months, with mom’s stroke, then my surgeries, just life issues always coming at us, and even though I was fighting pain and trying to walk, I was so over this cold weather and really needed a change of scenery, so we decided to go for it. We hesitated whether to drive or fly but ended up having to drive. (At least I could get out to stretch and could wear a tens unit without TSA thinking I was packing a bomb. 😁)

In my husband’s 30 yrs, he hadn’t been to this particular city and was meeting with a new company. So, we decided that it might be nice to also drive a little further to Virginia Beach, after his meetings, just to check out the area.

We have been part of a ministry, for many years, called Operation Blessing that gives to those in need here and overseas, and had watched some beautiful testimonies through the years on the Christian Network CBN. So, we also thought it’d be interesting to visit the studios as well as see Regent University there. The campus was beautiful with it’s colonial style buildings and brick paved pathways.

Video of the campus here: https://youtu.be/dlHcI_kGA2k

We knew the weather wouldn’t be as warm as we would like but the two full days we had there (in Virginia Beach) still were warmer than at home.

There happened to be a St. Patrick’s Day marathon run (along the boardwalk) that we could view from our balcony, and we also enjoyed some great seafood while there. We even visited our first Trader Joe’s where we picked up a few things. The employees were so helpful there!

The wind was pretty fierce when we first arrived, and we were pelted with sand as we tried walking along the boardwalk. I noticed horses along the beach and felt sorry for them.

When we first arrived, we heard, then felt, the thunderous jets flying overhead from the nearby Oceana Naval Air Station.

This is where fighter jet pilots are trained and boy what a rush it was hearing them fly overhead, one right after another. Since my husband works for the Navy, later on, we decided to go on the base to view some of those jet fighters.

We also viewed many a ship using the ocean like a highway.

Each day there were large cargo ships lined up along the horizon; more than we’ve ever seen on any coast.

On the last night, I managed to catch some magnificent sunsets with the sky continually changing by the minute.

Since the trip came up rather suddenly, we hadn’t realized that major Civil War battle sites were literally 7 minutes from our first hotel in Manassas, VA. Both the first and second battles of Bull Run took place here.

The grounds provided some beautiful views stretching out to the horizon and it was sobering to think how many lives were lost on the very land we were walking. There was a free museum there as well as a self guided driving tour. We got out at one point and walked a few miles down a trail noticing points of interest.

I thought it was interesting that the northerners had a different name for the battle than the southerners.

Wiki: The First Battle of Bull Run (the name used by Union forces), also known as the First Battle of Manassas[1] (the name used by Confederate forces), was fought on July 21, 1861 in Prince William County, Virginia, just north of the city of Manassas and about 25 miles west-southwest of Washington, D.C. It was the first major battle of the American Civil War.”


And it was just sad to think that this war cost some 3,000 Union casualties, as well as 1,750 Confederate deaths.


Later, as we drove away from Manassas, I mentioned to my husband I thought Jamestown might be near. I looked down at the map and realized we were then only 20 minutes away, so we took a slight detour and at last minute, toured the Jamestown settlement. Again, I learned many facts I had not realized before.

Check out our Jamestown video link here:

https://youtu.be/IPCVR6xrSqI

So, we saw a lot for the short time we were there and our 12.5 looong drive home took us more southerly through the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and Smokies. Then, we came home to find our refrigerator had gone out, again, like it had 7 years ago. What a welcome home. 😞

*For more travel videos and pics across the country, check out our YouTube Channel: https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCB07TgWeL-brVsLv–C7yYA

or see Instagram highlight video “Midwest to VA” : @Thentherestwo

My Valentine to the Readers

Even if you don’t have that special valentine today, or you are feeling sad and low… I, even a stranger to you, want you to know that someone DOES love you and saw you before the beginning of time. You are important; you were designed to come into this world, you have something to add, and you are still here for this purpose.

Be you…but be kind.

Don’t listen to naysayers.

Dig deep.

Keep going.

Happy Valentine’s Day❣️

 Psalm 139:15-16 (NLT) – “You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. 16 You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”

Twenty Creative Ways to Leave Love Notes

Twenty creative ways to leave love notes for people.

When my husband and I started dating, we enjoyed leaving love notes for each other in creative and clever ways. ❤️ Later on, I tried to do the same with my two kids. And, I sure got a kick out of seeing them doing the same for us, each other, and now with their spouses.

But, you don’t have to wait for Valentine’s Day to surprise someone with a love note. We have left notes for all sorts of reasons…a job promotion, a Geography Bee winning, a note of encouragement or note noticing your kid helped another person…the skies the limit!

Here, I snuck out after the snow stopped to leave love notes for my hubby to find before he left for work the following day. 🙂 ⛄️

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OK, so here’s the list of things we actually did throughout the years, or ideas I came up with.

(More pictures at the end of the post. 🤗)

THE KEY IS… USE YOUR IMAGINATION!!



❤️Twenty Creative Ways to Leave Love Notes❤️

• Hide notes in lunch boxes, books, backpacks or under and behind items for someone to find when they clean the house.

• Sneak out at night and write a sweet message on their car with shoe polish paint.

• Leave a note under their favorite coffee cup or hygiene item they use every morning.

• Use dry erase marker to write a love note, positive thought or verse on their bathroom mirror.

• Print out a sign and tape it to a wall where they’ll see it when they open their door or behind a door they will close. (i.e. bathroom door)

• Find your kids’ homework agenda and leave a congratulatory, encouraging, or fun message on a particular day. (i.e. a tryout days, their first week of school, a birthday, a milestone.) 🗒

• Kiss the back of a card’s envelope with lipstick on and print S.W.A.K. (Sealed With A Kiss) 💋

• Leave a note on the rear view mirror or in their car seat.

• Write a note on the toilet paper using a Sharpie. 😉HA

• Slide a creatively designed note under their door at night, so they see it first thing in the morning.

• Use dry erase marker or permanent Sharpie to write on a coffee mug or favorite glass.

• Make a unique plate to be used for special occasions ONLY. (i.e. “You’re So Smart”, “You Did IT!” “Congratulations!” “We’re Proud of You!”) 👍🏼

• Tuck a note in a pant pocket, coat pocket or glove.

• Leave a note inside their glasses case. 👓

• Leave a note on top of a stack of  clothes you’ve folded.

• Leave a card or note under the car windshield wipers while they’re at work.

• Leave a note taped to their computer, the remote or TV. 📺

• Tape a note to their favorite food item that they use every day. (i.e. creamer, cereal or coffee can.)

• Place a note under their pillow or pinned to a favorite blanket. 🛌

• Tape a note to their car keys.

• Leave a note in their suitcase as they leave for camp or a business trip.

• Lastly, of course, you can always just send an e-mail or text. 😉 💌

JUST HAVE FUN WITH IT❣️

Tell us in the comments below what you have done before. 👇🏽


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Fall in the Midwest

This past fall was some of the most beautiful scenery we’ve had here in Indiana for a few years. I did a lot more driving up through southern Indianapolis, Danville, Mooresville, and Plainfield due to the sad fact my mom had a stroke in October. She is fairly young and went in for a rather routine heart cath and stroked. (The odds were less than 1/2 percent.) All our lives changed that day.

I still have a hard time wrapping my head around it completely. When you see someone go from totally functional, driving, etc.. to needing help with everything and their mind just not all there…well, I still think I’m in shock. It all happened within an hour. It wasn’t a slow degredation, nor something we saw coming and could attempt to prepare ourselves for as we did with my husband’s father. He dealt with Parkinsons. It has just been a lot in such a short time with sudden adjustments.

Not only is mom dealing with a severe stroke, but they also found her heart to only be working at 25%. (According to her doctors, this heart thing could’ve been going on for years.) She had already been dealing with severe, undetermined pain for decades, along with pain from fibromyalgia. So, my poor mom has been through A LOT, and having entered that arena of severe pain, especially these last ten years myself, I am realizing just how REALLY TOUGH my mom truly is!!

Mom was over an hour away from us; first in the hospital, ICU, then went on to a rehab facility. So, I had a lot of time to drive and think. As I drove (and prayed), I thought of how much my mom would’ve loved these vibrant colors. She LOVES fall. She used to paint, and I thought she would’ve loved painting all this beautiful color!

While on the road, I positioned my camera to catch some of the fall foilage. (You may have already seen some of my IG photos.)

But here’s some of my video links: Driving through the Indiana countryside.

Driving the new I69 from Bloomington, IN up through Martinsville.

AND my YouTube channel: thentherestwo

I’m not a professional by any means but someday maybe my grandkids will see the clips along with everything the grandparents were up to. 😉

Garlic Buttered Shrimp and Asparagus

When I was younger, you couldn’t get me to eat ANY kind of seafood. None. Nada.

The thought of going to Red Lobster after church…just yuck.

I think it had something to do with the fact my dad used to take me fishing with him out on Balboa Bay in California. We used to be out for hours trying to catch fish…many a time we caught seagulls. 🎣 They’d sweep down and pick up our bait as the line was spinning out into the sky. Oh, the memories. But during those long hours of baiting, and smelling stinky fish all while drinking V8 out in the heat of the day, 🤢 well, it just seared it in my brain. “NO, YOU WIll NOT LIKE SEAFOOD!” 🐟🐠🦑🦐🦀

And I didn’t for many many years.

Then, somewhere between high school and college I was asked pleaded with (more than once) to try fried shrimp, and I actually “tolerated” it. (I think because it was fried, so I barely tasted anything seafoodish.) I later graduated on to trying grilled shrimp and scampi.

It was a big leap for me. 😂 I guess anything with garlic and butter on it has resonated with me.

So, here I am. Now sharing my own shrimp dish. Unreal.

But this turned out better than I would’ve thought as I’ve literally only made shrimp twice in my life. It met the hub’s satisfaction, so it’s going on the blog. 🙂

You will need:

1 lb peeled and deveined shrimp (Yes, I actually did this myself..I know!😱)

Olive oil to coat your pan

5 cloves of crushed Garlic (or jarred minced garlic can be used.)

1 stick of butter

Salt

*Red pepper flakes

*Smoked paprika

1 & 1/2 Lemons

*Parsley

*Asparagus cooked


*optional items

Instructions:

In a hot skillet, add olive oil just to smoking temperature. Next, add in the shrimp, constantly tossing till slightly pink (roughly a minute) and then add in your garlic and red pepper flakes (small amt) turning everything for about another minute being careful not to burn seasonings. Add butter to your liking. (If your butter is salted no need to add salt.) Add paprika, and finish with chopped parsley and lemon juice. You just want to toss your shrimp till they turn a darker pink and curl slightly. I then added steamed asparagus mixing it all together and added a bit more of the seasonings also more lemon juice. (This is all to taste.)

It assure you it will be delicious! 👌🏼

Just ask my hubby and this shrimp 🦐 eatin’ gal now. 😉

What is your favorite seafood and where would you like to be eating it about now? We just got a snowstorm, so I vote Hawaii!

Items to buy:

I love my pan: https://amzn.to/2DkT2Ar

Peeled & Deveined shrimp: https://amzn.to/2MoNqbC

WOK: https://amzn.to/2Cv7l3W

Chicken Salad Recipe

We recently bought some organic chicken breasts on sale and cooked them on the grill. They were so large, we had a lot of chicken left over, and I thought hmmm…what else can I make out of this chicken? 🤔 I remembered I used to make chicken salad often and hadn’t made it in a long time.

We just had a snowstorm overnight and since my hubby was preparing to watch the Colts playoff game, he asked if I’d make him some sandwiches.

Every time I’ve made chicken salad, it has turned out differently adding or omitting different ingredients.

But, I did my best to try and keep track of all the ingredients as I used them today. (You know me, I rarely follow a recipe, never measure anything, and just throw stuff together. 🤪)

Ingredients:

3 large, diced chicken breasts

Red grapes halved

1 diced boiled egg

4 diced celery stalks

3 diced green onion stalks

Mayonnaise as needed (I used low fat.)

Seasonings: onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and fennel. (But you could use just about anything you want.)

Instructions:

I previously seasoned the chicken and grilled it. You could also boil your chicken, use canned chicken, or make things really fast and simple and go buy a rotisserie chicken.

Next, I cut the chicken up smaller to make it easier to add to the food processor. And, I added a little mayo to help it break down easier.

Food Processor: https://amzn.to/2TVcnh9

After the chicken was the consistency I wanted, I added it to the bowl of diced celery, green onions, and egg and added about a cup more mayo till it was even creamier.

I then added the seasonings to taste and that was it!

You could even add walnuts, cranberries, or apples to your chicken salad. Initially, I thought about using sweet pickle relish until my husband requested grapes. There’s really 1 million ways you could make it. Ok not a million, but you get it.

My hubby loved it and wanted his chicken salad on Hawaiian bread. He’s presently waiting for the Colts to play in this snow. (They’re one game away from the AFC Championship game.) 🤞🏼

As for me, I went gluten free, so mine was on top of greens. 👌🏼 Once again, my chicken salad was a different recipe, but oh so good!!

Don’t Be Demanding During the Holidays

As the holidays roll around, I often talk with people and hear about how stressed they are trying to please their family members at this time. It makes me reflect on family dynamics and why people act the way they do, or get so bent out of shape at this time of year. I just heard a lady (while at the hair salon) speaking about how she works SO hard, is super busy, then has to cook a huge meal while off work…yadda, yadda, yadda, BUT this year she was choosing to stay home, just her and hubby, and she thought it sounded glorious. Why is the holiday season SO stressful for us…women, especially?

I believe it’s because some family members have preconceived expectations about how things should go. I hear friends say that their family members don’t understand their hectic life or work schedule, that they always are the one to cook and never get help, they mention they don’t get much time with one side of the family over another, or they ate 3 huge meals in one day just to please everyone. Geeze!

Why can’t people talk with each other and just be honest explaining their reality like grown ups should be able to?

As I grow older, I reflect on these situations and have created a series of posters entitled, “The older I get…” All are observations I’ve had while talking to people or while encountering certain social situations.

So, my own kids are now married. And I refuse to be that parent that pressures them (silent or not) into feeling they have to meet my needs or be somewhere that causes them undue stress. I don’t want to apply that kind of pressure to anyone! I haven’t liked it myself, in the past, and I don’t want it for them. No holiday, or get together is worth that feeling of guilt, or the added stress of trying to please everyone. You can end up resenting family holidays. I mean, even if it doesn’t seem fair at times, I refuse to put that pressure on my family because I’ve seen what that kind of hurt can do to relationships. It causes problems or misunderstanding for years! And I don’t want that! I want my family to visit me because they love me and want to be around me. I don’t want anyone feeling stressed over trying to make an engagement because they fear my disapproval. That’s not love, nor dying to one’s rights, nor is it even enjoyable when they do show up because it’s begrudgingly. Am I right?

I have seen so many family splits over such stupid nonsense.

I know of occasions when my own mother felt she didn’t have an adequate home (not completed due to constant remodeling nor enough beds for everyone), and she would ask if I could house family coming in from out of state. That really never bothered me because I liked hosting them and just being together all in one place was fun to me, and it brought joy to my parents. However, I always felt bad mom worried about many a holiday season. She wanted things to be just perfect, nice and cozy, creating good memories for grandkids she wasn’t able to visit with all that often, and I understood that. But, to be able to just do what you can, and be okay with that, and everyone giving grace to each other and just being thankful to be together…that would be more enjoyable. That’s what truly mattered, still does.

So, you can’t make it one year, or you’re cramped and everyone sleeps on the floor, or you’re not a good cook, so you get takeout, or you can only buy a few gifts…no biggie. It’s really not important and it’s sad people don’t realize that sooner. We really need to let go of OUR wants, OUR expectations, OUR needs, and try to put ourselves in the OTHER person’s shoes.

Not everyone has the same upbringing, not everyone celebrated Easter, Thanksgiving, or Christmas the way you did. Not everyone understands your traditions, norms, or your family’s customs. And guess what? That’s perfectly fine. We all are unique. We were all raised differently. And that’s okay, too! There is no perfect way to do things. Why do we think everyone should be like us, do like us, sound like us, think like us, celebrate like us or just conform to our ways? The way “we’ve always done it!!”

Life is a mix. A mix of people…ideas, wants, and needs. We all need to just chill and learn to enjoy one another because time is shorter than we even realize, even at this moment.

I’ve seen many a family go through extreme crisis, and I bet they would tell you that just being with their special loved one, doing nothing extraordinary, or having any great plans would be just fine. Letting go of any differences. In fact, I would bet they would be happy to just let go of everything and just be.

Be present.

Because, being there in the moment with their loved one, would be gift enough. ❤️