4.09.2014

Gluten Free Almond Snickerdoodle Cookies


Over the last 4-5 months, Matthew and I have made a lot of positive changes in our diet.  Not that our diet was ever bad by any means because it wasn’t. We always eat very healthy, and indulge in our guilty pleasures occasionally, but these changes were much needed and ones that were necessary for optimal health. 

Back in November we faced some personal health issues that in turn, forced us to do things differently and in the end we are extremely better off.  We drastically cut out of our diet white flour, white refined sugars, and gluten, and started using a lot more organic foods and snacks at Trader Joe’s versus the regular supermarkets.  We weren't using these products in excess or anything but just getting rid of them for the most part has really paid off in the long run.  We feel great.

The snacks at Trader Joe’s are a lot healthier and provide taste and nutrients in place of just sugar and fat like the majority of stuff on the supermarket shelves.  (I will write a post on my top Trader Joe’s foods and snacks at some point because I do want to share them with you.)

We started cooking and baking with almond meal and coconut oil and using clover honey (amazing!) as a sweetener.  All of the ingredients I just mentioned are natural, healthy, and a delicious substitute in every day baking and cooking. 

Note: Cooking with coconut oil is really simple to work with, adds great flavor and health benefits, and the replacement ratio is 1:1 for vegetable oils, butter, and margarine (liquid fats).  That means, if a recipe calls for one cup of butter or margarine, just substitute it with one cup of coconut oil. 

Our favorite snack to come out of this diet change is definitely our Gluten Free Almond Snickerdoodles. Matthew and I call them, “Snickerdudes” for short. (: They have quickly become me and Matthew’s favorite cookie ever.  I bake these 2-3 times a week for us to have on hand for easy to grab snacks.

Here is the recipe! I hope you enjoy them!


Recipe: Gluten Free Snickerdoodle Cookies

Note: I would highly suggest using a KitchenAid mixer or an electric hand mixer to mix all the ingredients together! I found through trial and error that it makes all the difference in the world.

Ingredients

Dry Ingredients
2 cups almond meal (Trader Joe’s is recommended)
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda

Wet Ingredients
¼ cup clover honey (I HIGHLY recommend clover over any other honey for this recipe)
4 tablespoons of coconut oil (if your coconut oil is solid at room temp, just hold the jar under running hot water for 1-2 minutes and it will liquify)

Topping
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon

Directions 

Set oven to 350 degrees F
Mix topping ingredients together into a small bowl and set aside

In a KitchenAid mixer or regular mixing bowl, mix all dry ingredients together
In another bowl, mix all the wet ingredients together
Add wet ingredients in with the dry ingredients

Scoop out a small spoonful of the mixture and ball it in your hand until smooth (should be about 1 inch thick)
Roll the ball into the topping mixture so that all sides are evenly coated
Place on a cookie sheet
Do this until all the mixture is gone and you have 12-14 balls on the cookie sheet
Using a fork, flatten each ball to about 1/4 inch thick.  Try to keep it in a circular shape.
 
Bake for 9 minutes and no longer!

Enjoy!

Makes 12-14 Gluten Free Snickerdoodle Cookies

3.31.2014

I'm Alive + A Wedding Planning Update

Hey readers! I am so happy to be back here. Life has been very busy as of late.  I received so many messages and tweets over the last couple of months asking me when I was coming back to blog.  I'm so glad to know you want more and find my blog useful and entertaining.  That is why I started this journey- to share, to teach, and to inspire.  I will be back to posting a couple times a week until the wedding (34 days away!), sharing with you wedding related content, advice, and lessons I have learned throughout the planning process and of course recipes and other fun stuff.  After the wedding, I will be back to posting a lot more regularly.  I can't wait for all that is in store for Buttergirl Diaries.  Please let me know if there is something you would really like me to touch on in the coming posts, wedding related or not.  (:

When I started this blog last May, I was positive that I could devote an equal amount of time to both wedding planning and my blog but that was a lot easier in the beginning when we were just picking out vendors and colors.  I feel like there is more to do with 35 days out versus 5 months out.  Once you get closer to your wedding day, there are so many little things that you have to do to ensure that the entire day and weekend go smoothly.

The wedding planning process is going really great but it has definitely been very stressful at times.  Blogging had to take a back burner because wedding planning and nurturing my relationship with Matthew has been my #1 priority.  We have grown a lot closer throughout this process and for that I am so blessed.

Weddings are a lot more expensive than you could ever expect.  Even the small weddings can be expensive if you aren't careful.  Oftentimes I look at something the industry says you "need" to buy for your wedding and think, "$300 for 100 boxes of chocolates for guest favors? Please."  Most of the time guests forget to take their favors home.  That's just a tiny example of things that I think are kinda ridiculous.  I've learned that it is important to stick with your vision and not let the wedding industry (and yes, that includes you too Pinterest) tell you what you should do or need to buy to have your "dream wedding."  Everyone's dream is different.  Just use these mediums for information and inspiration!

I have had so many crazy dreams too.  Dreams where I have woken up screaming in a sweat.  Mostly about my gown not being ready or about it being dirty and tattered the day of.  I even had a dream where a huge chunk of my dress was missing on my wedding day!! 

As I promised in my last post, here is our Save-the-Date card.  I love it so much! We received some great feedback from our family and friends.  Shutterfly was wonderful as always to work with and we are so pleased with how our cards turned out.  Not bad for taking our own engagement pictures!

1.13.2014

Our DIY Engagement Session

Happy Monday everyone! A couple weekends ago, Matthew and I did our own little engagement shoot.  We got all of our photography gear (Nikon yeah!), including the tripod, and hit the trail behind our house in route to good ole' Shelley Lake.  Our favorite stomping ground.

These photos were done for our Save-the-Date cards for our wedding in May.   Making the save-the-dates is one of the most fun things I've done for the wedding so far.  I love how you get to be creative with your photos and play around with them in the thousands of pre-made stationary cards.  There are so many options on Shutterfly, Wedding Paper Divas, and Paperless Post, among others.  Which card to pick??? That is the hardest part of all.  I think I spent a total of 3-4 hours just looking for a card.  Crazy! We picked our favorite card and our favorite pictures for the save-the-dates and in the end the hard work paid off...our card is adorable.  I love it so much! I will share it once it arrives. 

Why do our own, you ask?  Unfortunately, our engagement shoot with our photographer got rescheduled 4 times thanks to all that rain NC received this past November and December.  Then the holidays hit, our photographer went out of town, and yeah...we were frustrated.  We had to come up with some pictures last minute so we could even have save-the-date cards.  I just wanted simple and lovely photos. So, Matthew being the awesome photographer that he is, helped me create these beautiful pictures of us for this special time in our lives. 

Our DIY Engagement Session. I think we did pretty awesome, don't you? Matthew did the picture taking and I did all of the editing. We make a great team.


And just so you know we really did take these ourselves...

an out take!

This is what it REALLY looks like behind the scenes when we take our own pictures. Perfectly imperfect. (:

1.09.2014

4 Bassets and a Bulldog

I have really been in a photography kick lately.  Since Matthew upgraded his camera, I have been practicing with his trusty old Nikon D90.  A great Nikon camera for beginners, I might add. I have come a long way and all I want to do nowadays is go take pictures.  The learning process is slow but just getting out and practicing makes all the difference.  

A couple of weekends ago, I photographed some pretty cool canines.  Mom and Dad's basset hounds (Penny Rose, Scooby, Molly, and Boudreaux) and my bulldog (Mr. Truck).  I spent the afternoon photographing them playing and running amongst the grass.  Mr. Truck has known them since he was a tiny bully baby.  They are like brothers and sisters to him and watching all of them play together brings me so much happiness.  

No dog loves Trucky more than Boudreaux.  Even if they saw each other the day before, Trucky and Boudreaux act like long lost friends, meeting up again, after 10 years apart.  It's hilarious to watch them be super playful together.  Boudreaux is an old man, but when he plays with Mr. Truck (who is 2 1/2) he acts like he is a puppy again.  It's so precious.  See picture 5 for that cuteness.  (:

I used a Nikon D90 and a 35mm lens during this mini-pet session.  

Enjoy!

Happy Thursday!

1.06.2014

A Moment in Time: B&W's of an Old Childhood Tree House

Happy Monday everyone! There are so many great things I want to share with you this week. 

A while back I made a trip to Durham, NC to see my family and decided to take a quick trip across the street to photograph my old neighborhood tree house.  I had no idea what it would look like or if it would still contain evidence from the past.  I was pleasently surprised when I saw how intact it still was.  I could hear the sounds of us kids, as if it was yesterday.  That was 16 years ago...

My childhood friends and I found this cool tree in the woods back in 1997 and decided to make it our own.  With our parents help, mostly my dad of course as he was the handy man of the neighborhood, we mowed the grass around the tree, cut down the brush, nailed make shift stairs to the trunk, added a tree ledge, and hung a swing.

Not impressive I know, but this "tree house" was perfect to us kids and we played it in a lot that summer.  See, back in the 90's, all kids did was play outside.  You couldn't get us to play inside.  The simplest things, like this random tree, became our lives.

The password to enter the tree house? Hot chocolate fifty cents.  Hah!

We spent so much time on this tree that almost all of us kids came down with the worst case of poision ivy we have ever had in our entire lives.  Pretty sure Dad got some too! Some of us were on medications and missed school and all of us had swollen faces.  Embarrassing didn't even begin to describe it.  Painful!  Life was absolutely miserable being covered head to toe in oozing poision ivy.  After that the tree house faded from our priorities... we grew up fast, moved away, and we never went back.

Until now...

1.02.2014

why do people make fun of bloggers?

It's a question I've asked myself since I started this blog.  Why do people make fun of people who have a blog?  Is it our quirky web designs, our humorous and sarcastic writing sense, or is it just the fact that we devote so much of our time to writing and sharing intimate details of our lives, for complete strangers?  I don't understand why people hate on bloggers so much.  

Time after time I read fellow bloggers explain how they often get made fun of for having a blog.  Did you know that the Huffington post is a blog?  It's hugely famous.  Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, has been a pioneer in the true sense of the word because she has given bloggers like me, the constant reminder to always do what you love and what brings you happiness because someday it may become something extraordinary.   Both of these blogs produce quality content that is catchy and attention grabbing.   Content that millions of people find useful and informative.  I don't think these ladies care one bit now if people made fun of them along the way.  They had a dream and ran with it...

In my opinion, bloggers make a difference in cyber space and in real life.  You know that lovely website, Pinterest? Yeah it's pretty awesome, isn't it?  It will become your best friend when planning your wedding. (: A good majority of pins on Pinterest are thanks in part to bloggers!  Those delicious recipes, clever crafts, and awesome fashion ensembles?  Those are bloggers at work.   I don't think Pinterest would be what it is today if it were not for bloggers.

My favorite blog statistic that I check daily is the "keyword analysis".   It shows me what search terms people are typing in Google in order to find my blog.  I love checking this stat because it tells me a lot of things:  for one, it lets me know which of my posts are the most popular, and two, it lets me know what information people are trying to find.   Keyword analysis allows me to gauge what normal every day internet goers want to know.  It's super helpful for me as a writer because I can base future content on this information.

These are a couple Google search terms that brought people to my blog just today:

torn between 2 wedding dresses
up the amp mac lipstick review
what qualities to look for in a life partner
 i'm nervous about buying a wedding dress online

The point of this is that blogs make a difference.  One person obviously needs help finding a life partner and a couple other brides-to-be are hesitant about their wedding dress selection, just like I was.  I hope I was able to help those people through my writing, my truths, and my relateability.  And if I did, then mission accomplished.

I set out to blog to make a different for people and I hope I am.  If I get made fun of by others throughout the process, so be it.  It really doesn't matter.  But at least I know there are people out there who are genuinely finding value from my blog just as I am finding value from other blogs I read each day. 

Bloggers shouldn't be made fun of because we add value to the internet.   You may not realize it, but the next search term you enter in Google may lead you to a personal blog that teaches you something you may not have known before: a life lesson, a funny story, or a different perspective...


12.31.2013

A 2013 Favorites List

Another year is over??!? Wow, it flew by.  I just turned 29 a few weeks ago so this is the last year of my 20's.  I'm sad about it, I really am because I'm at that point where I feel like I'm getting old and really growing up, but I'm truly going to make 2014 the best year ever.   2013 was full of lots of ups and downs for me but overall it was great and I'm looking forward to everything 2014 has in store for me and Matthew. Here is a fun list of things that I loved from 2013...

1// Song: Alive by Krewella.  I am so happy that this type of music is being made and even played on the radio.  I love techno-trance-dance music and this song is exactly that.  This is the type of music I love jamming to, running to, and dancing too.  It's awesome! Can't get enough.  Be sure to check it out.
 

2// Makeup Product: Sigma F40 brush.  This was by far the best product I bought all year hands down.  Make up is a heck of a lot more fun when you have the perfect brush to apply your foundation.  Read my review post here!

3// Blog Post: Musings on Middle School Years and the Mid 90's. I loved this post more than others because it was a true reflection of a special time in my life.  One that I think about often.  A time that was so innocent, awkward, and easy. 

4// Photo:  A fall photo of my bulldog.  I love this picture of Mr. Truck.  I think it's beautiful.  I took it one day on our afternoon walk.  He ran off and started playing in the leaves and turned around just in time for me to snap this picture.  I love it so much and it is definitely my favorite photo of the year.


5// Moment: Booking our wedding venue was one of the best and most exciting moments of the year.  Matthew and I celebrated with a champagne toast.  The venue we chose is absolutely gorgeous.  So excited!

6// Place:  The Angel Oak Tree was my favorite new place I visited this year.  This tree is unique and eccentric.  Magical and mysterious.  I had never seen anything like it.  Read more about it here.


7// Movie:  Kings of Summer.  I loved this movie because it reminded me of the summer back in 1997 when my friends and I built a fort in the woods in our neighborhood. This movie made me feel like a kid again.  It's an all around feel good movie that everyone can relate to.

8// TV Show: The Profit on CNBC.  So glad I stumbled upon this show one night.  Immediately I was hooked.  I know absolutely zilch about owning and running you own business and from what I gather from watching the show, it's SO hard and extremely stressful.   This investor helps failing businesses get back on their feet.  I have learned so much from this show...things that I can take away and use in real life and things that will even help me become a more successful blogger.  All in all this show is very interesting, informative, and of course, entertaining. 



9// Internet Article: You Named Me What?: The GQ Guide to Naming Your Baby. This article is hilarious and honest.  I think society goes over board with baby names.  They get sillier and sillier every year.  I don't know if I would want to be named Apple out of fear of name calling and being ridiculed all of my life.  Middle school is hard enough as it is, right?

Happy New Year!

12.30.2013

Veterinary Care is Ridiculous

I'm not the best pet owner when it comes to getting my animals to the vet every 6 months like some pet owners do.  In my opinion, my pets don't need veterinary care biannually unless there is a serious issue going on or they are in need of a routine vaccine.  Twice a year is silly to me but then again that is my pet parenting philosophy- to each his own.

I had the craziest vet visit a couple of weeks ago.  I switched to a new vet for distance purposes- I didn't feel like driving 30 minutes to our old vet in Durham anymore, so I found a closer one with good reviews.  

I took Mr. Truck and my cat Sir Didymus in to get a routine exam, the rabies vaccine, and 1 pill for Dids.  Long story short, I was being "recommended" tons of unnecessary treatments, procedures, and unfamiliar vaccines that my pets do not need and in the end was told that the total would be $815!! I almost laughed at the lady.  I thought, "You are joking, right?  No really, you must be...."  Side note: I am on a budget like I have never been on a budget before due to my upcoming wedding- you think I have an extra $815 bucks lying around? Dream on.  I went into the vet that day expecting to pay a couple hundred dollars.  I was okay with that because like I said, I don't go often so I was comfortable spending money on my babies.  But never in my wildest dreams did I expect to be told I needed services approaching the $1,000 mark. Ridiculous!

The veterinarian wanted to do a fecal test, a bordatella shot (among others) and a complete blood panel on both of them ($300) as well as some national registry blood test on Mr. Truck- never heard of the thing.  And of course, no matter what I bring my cats in for, they absolutely insist upon a feline leukemia test.  Every single time.  I said no to almost all of those procedures and ended up paying $289, with some free ear medicine thrown in the mix--she said Mr. Truck had an ear infection in one of his ears.  I was skeptical.  More on that later.


One thing I want all pet owners to know is that the only thing that your pets must have BY LAW is the rabies vaccine.  Other than that, nothing.  Most vets "require" an exam just to talk to you which can range from $60-$85.  But you are not required to give your pet anything except the rabies vaccine. Another thing many pet owners aren't aware of is that your pet does NOT need the Boardatella shot unless you board them or they attend pet daycare centers.  There are a lot of articles on the internet that can back this up...some veterinarians even coming out, shamefully admitting that this vaccine is one that they administer to make extra money on unsuspecting clients.  Sad.  And low and behold, every single time I go in for anything, they tell me that my animals are due for their Bordatella.  Um, I think not.  If you don't kennel your pets (which I don't and never will) you don't need it.  Don't be fooled.  Don't let your vet make you feel guilty about your choices as a parent.  Learn to say no and be confident in your decisions. 

A week after that appointment, I got a voice mail from the vet's office asking me to bring in Mr. Truck again soon so they could examine his "ear infection".  Remember how I said I was skeptical? Something inside of me told me they gave me that free ear medicine because they figured I would bring him in for the ear exam follow-up a few weeks later, which would allow them to make more money off of me and in turn, get their money back for the "free ear medicine".  Yeah right.  His ear is fine, I see no signs of an infection, no drainage, nothing.  Mr. Truck is doing great!  Part of me wonders if he really had an ear infection.  I will always be skeptical.  Mothers intuition is a powerful thing!

Ready for the kicker?  Here it is.  A few weeks ago I received a postcard in the mail from the same vet's office telling me that Mr. Truck is now due for 'such and such' vaccine.  Boy, they must be desperate....

Vets make tons of money off healthy pets.  It's important for pet owners to be informed and educated before receiving care.  I don't have an issue with the field of veterinary medicine or veterinarians for that matter, as I think they are wonderful and extremely valuable advocates for our beloved animals.  But what I do have an issue with is feeling like I'm constantly being taken advantage of every time I take my animals in for the simplest thing.  

I don't know anyone, especially in this economy, who can just fork over almost $1,000 on a single "well pet" visit.  Get real. 

12.24.2013

The Classic Chex Holiday Party Mix

Growing up, my mom would always make chex party mix during the holidays.  She got me hooked. I just love the stuff.  It's so easy, yummy, and is just as good room temp as it is warm.  It's a cute little holiday treat bags and give them as small gifts to your family and friends.  

Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients
3 cups Corn Chex cereal
3 cups Rice Chex cereal
3 cups Wheat Chex cereal
1 cup mixed nuts
1 cup bite-size pretzels
1 cup garlic-flavor bite-size bagel chips or regular-size bagel chips, broken into 1-inch pieces
6 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder  

Directions
In large microwavable bowl, mix cereals, nuts, pretzels and bagel chips; set aside. Heat oven to 250°F. In large bowl, mix cereals, nuts, pretzels and bagel chips; set aside. In ungreased large roasting pan, melt butter in oven. Stir in seasonings. Gradually stir in cereal mixture until evenly coated. Bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on paper towels to cool, about 15 minutes. Store in airtight container.

12.23.2013

Christmas Tree Cookies Tip Dipped in Chocolate



In my opinion, short bread cookie dough makes for the best Christmas cookies.  It is a dough that requires no egg, just the basics + some love!  These cookies come out so delicious and after they cool are perfect for decorating with icing and sprinkles...even warm melted chocolate like these.

The one thing about shortbread cookies that can be frustrating is that they are very delicate when they are finished and can crack easily.  But the pro is that this recipe makes about 30-35 cookies so if a couple do end up breaking- no problem.  Plenty more to work with.

And if you are like me, you will end up eating a ton of cookie dough before the cookies are even made, leaving you feeling full, fat, and jolly just like Santa. (:

Ingredients

3/4 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 to 7 ounces very good semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In your kitchen aid mixer, mix together the butter and 1 cup of sugar until they are combined. Add the vanilla.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together.

Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough 1/2-inch thick and cut with any Christmas cookie cutters you wish to use.  Place the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes (I RECOMMEND 19-20 because I like my cookies soft and whiter in color- if you leave them in too long they will get really brown which in my opinion, isn't as pretty to look at and doesn't taste as good), until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Leave some out for Santa!

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