Tag Archives: gluten-free

Sometimes Blooming is a Bunch of Dooky (and some Fabulous Friday GF cookies)

Since Laura’s last post, I’ve been thinking about what success means to me. And my inspirational gem is:

Sometimes “bloom where you are planted” is a bunch of dooky (yes, I said dooky).

Back in 2006, Nick bought a vanilla orchid cutting. For those of you not as nerdily awesome as my husband, a vanilla orchid is a vine on which vanilla beans grow. They need hot, humid, tropical climates. You know, just like Iowa. The vines typically grow to be 10 feet long before they are ready to flower, and then the flowers last only one day (and are usually hand pollinated). And – voila – you have an expensive vanilla bean!

With Nick’s plant magic, the vine actually grew and we started dreaming of financing graduate school with our mini vanilla farm. Nine years and 20 feet of vine later, still no flower. Because (gasp), we don’t live in the jungle and don’t own a tropical greenhouse.

Property of Kristin Giuliani

*** ***

It has taken me three decades, but I finally have a grasp on my gifts and talents. I am creative, spontaneous, laidback, and compassionate. I can reroute a derailed plan with ease. I am a global thinker who can uncover the most unlikely connections to build my case. I love creating and unconventional projects and letting the girls skate on a thin layer of flour sprinkled on our kitchen floor.


My brain cannot grasp organization. Setting and maintaining a routine is about as easy for me as running a marathon (or a 10K). I am not a natural cook. I get overwhelmed by too many choices, so trying to plan meals takes me hours and hours. I can handle detail, but in small doses. Planning ahead and sticking to the plan feels like walking through a giant vat of rubber cement. Keeping my schedule straight, without even adding in the schedules of four other people, is exhausting.

Property of Kristin Giuliani

So, if you can’t already see where this is going, I am that vanilla orchid. In this particular setting of my life, which demands way more organizational acumen than I possess, I will never bloom without constructing a completely artificial environment around me.

Over the years, I have tried hard to bloom. I vacillated between making minute-by-minute schedules for every single day and throwing my hands up in surrender. I tried every organizational tactic, method, and fad. The not-so-subtle message drenching womanhood is that you can (and should!) be organized if you just learn how. If I could just get the time to finally get everything organized, I thought, my problems would be solved. I wasted so much time and energy trying to become organized like the rest of my non-ADHD friends with Pottery Barn-like houses that I lost myself. My unique gifts were suffocating inside all my disorganized organizational bins.

But this past fall, I hit a low (for the third time in seven years). I let everything go. Clutter filled every horizontal surface and we ate lots of painfully expensive gluten-free mac-n-cheese.

As I crawled out of the gutter, I realized it wasn’t that I lacked the time to do everything, I lacked the brain capacity. I finally acknowledged my limitations and embraced my strengths.

Property of Kristin Giuliani

In the last few months, I have found a (mostly) happy medium. I recognize that we have an uncontrollable, demanding schedule where Nick is largely unavailable and all three girls need to see medical specialists on a regular basis. I stopped consulting to seek work with consistent weekly hours. I clean less than I would like, but everything has a place (even if it’s a teetering pile in the corner of the kitchen). We enforce consistent dinner and bed times, but everything else fluctuates daily. The girls have weekly chores and are not allowed to keep something unless they can find a place to put it (even if it’s a teetering pile in the corner of their closet). We only eat mac-n-cheese once a week.

Property of Kristin Giuliani

I am a happier, more creative person, but there are still days where I lose it. On my bad days, I worry that my chaotic way of doing things is stressful for my routine-needing girls, and that they will leave home not knowing how to be functional adults. On my good days, I trust that by respecting my gifts and limitations (and not screaming at them on an hourly basis), I will be able to help them become confident and creative enough women to fill the gaps.

I may not be able to bloom right now, but I can grow. Perhaps not as quickly as those orchids in the jungle, but the growth is there. And, I can even offer a completely different kind of beauty – evergreen beauty during the gray Iowa winter.

So here’s my measure of success instead:

Grow where you are planted and recognize that sometimes, blooming is just pure dooky.

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

Property of Kristin Giuliani


Aside from the first snow of the season (for which the girls have been waiting since MID-JUNE), my Fabulous Friday this week is my proud creation:

Property of Kristin Giuliani

Kristin’s Awesomely Soft and Chewy Grain-free, Gluten-free Totally Unhealthy Chocolate Chip Cookies


  • 1 stick of unsalted butter (at room temp)
  • 3/8 cup each of brown and white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • ¾ teaspoon of baking soda
  • 2 1/3 cups of blanched almond flour (Honeyville brand works the best – Bob’s Red Mill can be too grainy)
  • ½ to ¾ cup of chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350. Whisk almond flour, baking soda and salt together. In a separate bowl, cream butter, sugars, and vanilla together. Add eggs one at a time and beat until light and fluffy. Add flour mixture and beat until well combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoonful onto a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake 9 – 12 minutes, until just starting to turn golden on top. Watch them carefully so they don’t burn. Let cool on the sheet for 3 – 5 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack. Enjoy! Do NOT store them in an airtight container – they will get soggy.

Property of Kristin Giuliani

Fabulous Friday: Gluten-Free Playdoh

This post is a throwback to my old blog. Feels good to be creating again!  

For those of you who don’t know, after several different diagnoses and a surprisingly wide range of symptoms, including all the digestive issues we’ve had, three of the 5 of us have been forbidden to eat gluten by our physicians. 

Now although Playdoh is not a food, it is made out of wheat flour. And we learned the hard way that 3-year-olds like to lick their fingers while playing with Playdoh, which is enough to…well, let’s just say that it was unpleasant. So Playdoh, one of the sheer joys of childhood, had been off limits for the past 4 months. 


Until now. 

This Playdoh is awesome – it is pure white when you make it, so it turns the vibrant colors you see here. It has a fantastic texture and is so easy to make. It travels fantastically and made for a great distraction on our recent 8 hour car ride to visit cousins

Gluten-Free Play Dough Recipe – taken from Celiac Family


1 Cup White Rice Flour

1/2 Cup Cornstarch

1/2 Cup Salt

1 Tbsp Cream of Tartar

1-1/2 tsp vegetable oil

1 Cup Water, hot but not boiling

Food Coloring, as desired



1. Mix all dry ingredients together in a medium pot.

2. Add the vegetable oil & water, and mix thoroughly.

3. Heat the pot on the stove over low heat for about 3 minutes. Stir frequently with a heavy spoon.

4. When the dough starts to stick together,  change consistency, and pull away from the sides of the pot, turn out the dough onto something you can stain (we used cookie sheets). Let it cool briefly until you can knead it with your hands.

5. Knead well, adding more cornstarch as needed, until you have a nice, uniform consistency. Add food coloring and knead into the dough until you get the color you desire. Gel colorings work great. 

NOTE: Add more water or cornstarch after cooking to adjust consistency, especially after adding food coloring. Be careful not to over cook (no more than 5 minutes) – it will get crusty and hard. I accidentally added a bit too much water in mine and had to cook a little longer to make the right consistency. If you double the recipe make sure you use a pot with large surface area on the bottom – I didn’t and it got hard to stir. 


And, for those of you in need of a chuckle (especially if you have to be GF, too), check out this hilarious video on How to become Gluten Intolerant


Fabulous Friday: Silence (and a Smoothie)

I had a Fabulous Friday post all ready before I went on my retreat. But after the retreat, a post on playdoh just didn’t seem fitting.

Because what has really made my life fabulous this week has been silence surrounded by a landscape that is prancing toward fall. I loved wandering among the silently welcoming sisters of Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey who honor and respect the nature that surrounds them and the fruits it produces.

In honor of simplicity and fall, I thought I would share another way to prepare the abundance of squash that seems to explode into our kitchen this time of year. Last week, I discovered a delicious, simple, healthy smoothie that celebrates fall. And the girls actually begged me to make it again!

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie (adapted from this recipe by Whole Foods Market)

Serves 2 adults or three little stinkers

  • 1 cup of some sort of squash puree (I used leftover spaghetti squash with much of the liquid squeezed out)
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 cup of some sort of milk
  • 2 tablespoon of honey or maple syrup (more or less to taste)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
  • 5 ice cubes (we skipped this)
  • Chopped pecans to sprinkle on top (optional – we also mixed our pecans with gluten-free graham crackers and ground flax seeds to add a pie crust-like flavor and texture)

Throw ingredients into a blender or food processor and mix. Go sit outside on a beautiful fall morning. Enjoy in silence. 🍁