Thursday, December 7, 2017

Peppermint Hot Chocolate + Christmasy Vlog

 Friends of mine!

I am on a recipe and vlog roll this month! I have a Christmas-y vlog, complete with wood-working ambitions, salsa dancing, and a Paleo peppermint hot chocolate recipe, over on Youtube today.

Here's the video (click HERE to be redirected to Youtube):

And here's the hot chocolate recipe!

To make one mug of peppermint hot chocolate you will need:
  • 1 1/4 c. of coconut milk*
  • 2 Tablespoons of cocoa powder
  • 2 Tablespoons of maple syrup
  • 2 honey-sweetened chocolate peppermint patties**
  • A splash of vanilla

*I use canned coconut cream without added guar or xanthan gum. I skim off the thickest cream and use it for whipped cream (just whip the cream with a splash of maple syrup, and voila! You've got yourself some whipped cream!), and then use the more watery milk for the hot chocolate.

**I like the honey-sweetened chocolate mints from Trader Joe's (see my video for example), but you can use THESE more expensive mints, too. 


Put all the ingredients in a sauce pan. Cook over medium heat, whisking continuously, until the mints have melted, the cocoa is incorporated, and the mixture is steaming hot.

Top with whipped coconut cream, and enjoy!

A very merry Thursday to you, my friends!

Keep marching on, you Warriors, you.


© by scj

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Anti-Inflammatory Blueberry Muffin Recipe + Road Trip Vlog

Jay and I continue to adjust to this whole marriage thing, and it feels like we are settling into a good rhythm. We have figured out how to keep the fridge stocked for both our needs; we can pack for the beach in a moment's notice; and we are pros at prepping for a road trip.

I made Jay his most favorite blueberry muffins for our recent trek to Oregon, and since they are so good — AND they are anti-inflammatory (that means they're gluten, dairy, and cane sugar-free)— I made a how-to video for all of you! The first half of the video is the muffin how-to, and the second half is a video blog of our road trip to Oregon.

Photo disclaimer: We didn't take the above photo until days into our trip, at which point the leftover muffins had been squished and left in the car for four days. Do not let this photo fool you; the muffins really look delicious when they're fresh! (Jay ate the days-old muffins. He has a special gift for eating muffins).

See, fresh muffins!

Here's the video for all you bakers and road trip watchers (click HERE if the video below won't play for you):

And here's the written recipe for all you visual learners:

  • 1 1/2 cups of oat flour*
  • 3/4 cup of coconut or date sugar
  • 1/ 2 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 egg or 1 chia seed egg**
  • 1/3 cup of coconut oil or butter***
  • 1/3-1/2 cup of coconut or nut milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
  • About 1 cup of blueberries (I like to use frozen blueberries)
*You can make your own oat flour by processing 1 1/2 cups of rolled oats in your food processor or heavy duty blender, or you can buy it at most grocery stores. I especially like Bob's Red Mill oat flour!

** To make a chia seed egg, mix 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water and let sit for 15 minutes, until the mixture is thick and gelatinous.

*** I use a mixture of both coconut oil and butter, although I avoided butter when I adhered strictly to the anti-inflammatory diet.


Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Mix the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

In a measuring jug that holds at least one cup, add the oil and egg. Then use the milk to fill the jug to the one-cup mark. Add the vanilla, and whisk with a fork until combined.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and mix until combined. Then fold in the blueberries until they are evenly distributed throughout the mixture.

Scoop equal amounts of the mixture into a muffin tin with baking cups or a silicon muffin mat. If you'd like, sprinkle coconut or date sugar on the tops of the muffins.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes (some ovens may take as long as 25 minutes).

Let the muffins cool before removing them from the mat or tin. They are gluten-free and will crumble if removed too soon.

HANDY DANDY TIP: Use an ice cream scoop to distribute the muffin batter across your baking cups!

I hope you enjoy, my friends!

Hopeful, light-filled Thursday, folks!

I'm cheering for you, Home Skillets.


facebook iconinstagram, new iconpinterest iconheart icon

© by scj

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Road Trippin'

Yesterday Jay and I got back from Bend, Oregon, where we spent Thanksgiving with family. We drove the 1700-mile trek, and it was such a long trip, I thought we might grow old and die in that car before ever seeing the horizons of Orange County again.

At Smith Rock in Bend

But we can do hard things, so we forged ahead and eventually arrived in Orange County; and today we are recovering with Netflix, Paleo fudge, and a walk along the beach. Well, I am, anyway. Jay has to work, so I am resting for the both of us. This whole healing and participating in life thing is glorious, but it has me plumb tuckered out some of the time!

We had such a lovely time in Oregon with most of my side of the family.

We got to spend more time with the cutest dog in the world AND the cutest baby in the world, and we were the happiest aunt and uncle in the world.

Roo has a red hoodie that she wears when it is cold. It is too cute for words.

Aria has recently discovered her tongue, so we spent much of the long weekend ooohing and ahhing over her brilliance. "What AMAZING tongue control she has! Just LOOK how she smiles AND sticks out her tongue simultaneously! Is there ANY baby in the world with greater tongue dexterity?!"

And then we sat around and watched her jump in the jolly jump up, and we decided she will be an Olympian, because how could she not be with jumping skills like that?!

I also enjoyed a number of limbic system retraining victories on our trip.

I drank normal hot chocolate and whipped cream for the first time since I got sick! I limbic system retrained with hot chocolate for over a year before I could drink it, so all 8 ounces of it felt especially victorious.

I also played tennis and hiked a little, and a few nights I only got 5 hours of sleep and nothing bad happened. And then, glory of glories, I ate these Trader Joe's cookies that I've been training to eat for over a year:

This last road trip brings our road tripping total to 4,000 miles since we got married. When Jay and I first met, I struggled to be a car passenger for short treks across town, so we are joyfully celebrating this massive limbic system retraining victory.

Oh my, what a wondrous week!

Keep on soldiering, you DNRS warriors, you. All your hard work will pay off!

Happy, glorious Tuesday to you all, my friends.


facebook iconinstagram, new iconpinterest iconheart icon

© by scj

Monday, November 20, 2017

My first cooking video!

Oh my, I've made my first cooking video, and it was so fun! It turned into a bit of a vlog of our life, which made it even funner.

On today's show: how to make Paleo fudge.

You should make this fudge this week if 1) you like chocolate, 2) you like fast, easy treats; 3) you follow a Paleo diet; 4) you don't follow a Paleo diet; 5) you're trying to reduce inflammation but still want to have gastronomic fun; and 6) you will be with family this weekend and you want to make them good eats.

This stuff is LEGIT.

Here's the video (or, click HERE to watch)!

A most joyful Thanksgiving week to you, my friends!

P.S. Do you know how to watch Youtube videos in high def? Click the gear icon on the bottom right; click on "quality"; and click the highest number!

facebook iconinstagram, new iconpinterest iconheart icon

© by scj

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Worthiness and Brain Chemistry


My second video in my series on surviving chronic illness is up! This week's topics are worthiness and brain chemistry.

This is my second video on depression, and although I had my fellow chronic sickies in mind when I made it, it's really for anyone struggling to manage and overcome their depression.

Click HERE if you're having trouble getting the video below to play.

 Hopeful, glorious weekend, my friends!


facebook iconinstagram, new iconpinterest iconheart icon

© by scj

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Our little life

Boy have things been busy 'round these parts!

Jay has been leaning into the many roles related to his ministry: shepherd, organizer, developer, fundraiser, accountant, teacher, mentor and a whole bunch of others. He is a faithful servant with serious hustle. I love watching him respond with fervency and intentionality to the opportunities God has put before him. I also love watching him unscrew stubborn pickle jar lids, because BICEPS. Also triceps. Also deltoids. Also whatever muscles make up the forearm.

In this season, I have stepped out of my teaching role and am on leave from my PhD program so I can continue to rest and heal. I have been craving this sort of rest for many years, and I'm so thankful for the many ways that God has made this possible!

My free time and healing body have made it possible for me to more fully support Jay in his ministry. I am surprised by how much I am loving this support role! I always thought I would enjoy a rich, permanent career in academia, should my health allow it, but I'm so happy to be doing traditional wifely things.

I cook, clean, run errands, and when I can, I help Jay brainstorm and develop leader training and club activities. I think this work is so satisfying because I'm excited about how God is using Jay to build the Kingdom of Heaven, AND I have never had anyone champion my gifts the way Jay has. He is my number one fan, and his support makes me want to lay aside many of my ambitions to come alongside him. It's just so special.

Jay and I are living in Little Saigon, in the heart of Orange County. Our neighbors are primarily hard-working immigrants whose dinners send delightful aromas dancing through the apartment complex. We also have a handful of neighbors in their late teens and early twenties who have transitioned out of the foster system. The businessmen who own our complex offer a cluster of the units at a very reduced rate to these young adults to help them get on their feet, and we will be developing a mentorship program for them in the near future. I can't wait to meet them!

In the meantime, I'm enjoying getting to know the neighbors nearest me, particularly a group of young gals I've been doing a fair bit of baking with. We've made cookies and, most recently, rainbow waffles; and our next project is French macaroons.

You guys, I have never made French macaroons, but I watch the Great British Baking Show, so I know they are, quite possibly, the hardest cookie on the planet to make. When the girls and I were making our macaroon plans, I suggested we keep our expectations very low. They were game, and so we are forging ahead.

In other news, my niece Aria is still the Cutest Baby in the World, but ONLY because I haven't met my second little niece or nephew. That's right, my littlest brother and his wife are pregnant with their first!!!

I am so happy. And I wish I lived closer to these babies.

Thankfully, my brother and his wife were in southern California a few weeks back, and Jay and I were able to join them.

We camped next to a water ski lake and spent our days doting on Aria.

Can you read Jay's shirt? "This is what an awesome uncle looks like!"

It was wonderful, and we are scheming to see her again soon.

We're also celebrating the limbic system retraining victories I experienced on that trip! Eighteen months ago my vertigo and nausea were so bad, I could not have fathomed getting on a boat, but I hopped right on a water ski boat on this trip, and my body did great! I daresay, it felt almost normal! It is such a joy doing things I thought I'd never be able to do again.

I've said it before, but I'll say it again: if you're on the fence about doing DNRS, do it! It'll be the best $200 you ever spent.

And with that, I'm signin' off.

Happy fallish Tuesday, friends.

I'm cheering for ya, Home Skillets.


facebook iconinstagram, new iconpinterest iconheart icon

© by scj

Friday, November 10, 2017

Overcoming depression when you have Lyme disease, POTS, CIRS, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, Part 1: "First Steps"

My friends,

I've got a new thing in the works! As I heal, I'm able to collect and compile so much of what I've learned on this gnarly, glorious journey. At first, I planned to put everything in a chronic illness survival handbook as a resource for my sick friends. But as I've prayed, I've decided that the best way to put this information into the world is via Youtube.

And so, today I've linked the first of many videos in this series.

Today, I share some of my journey with depression, and I share some practical steps you can take to confront and manage your depression.

Although this series was born out of my desire to help my friends with systemic illness, this video is for anyone who is dealing with depression — for those who have other illnesses and those who don't.

In the latter half of the video, I describe three activities that can help you confront and manage your depression. One of these activities requires a handout that I have linked HERE.

Find the video HERE, or watch below.

I hope this video is helpful, my friends!

I'm cheering for ya, Home Skillets.


facebook iconinstagram, new iconpinterest iconheart icon

© by scj

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Our Home

Today is the day: our couch was delivered! We love love love it. And now the living room lounging possibilities feel rather luxurious. 



Jay is so excited to have living room furniture big enough to lie on.

Lying on couches is one of his specialest pleasures. Along with blending green smoothies, playing beach volleyball, and going barefoot.

I'm lucky I've married such an easy-to-please guy. His happiness makes my life so much happier.

We are both so thankful for the generosity of our friends and family whose wedding gifts have helped us make our home so cozy!

Now that our new couch is safely home, I feel ready to tackle some projects. The guest room is piled with boxes, the back patio needs some major TLC, I have a fair bit of decorating I want to do, and we want to make and hang floating shelves on the wall opposite the dining room table.

When we first got married I vowed I would not undertake any large DIY projects that required an electric sander and varnish, such as refurbishing furniture. But then we started looking at furniture, and I have just one thing to say: INFLATION.

The nightstand I bought two years ago has DOUBLED in price. The mattress I considered buying two years ago is almost 33% MORE. I've been known to walk around the house muttering about inflation; and if you've been a guest in our home, I've likely regaled you with facts about inflation.

We were delighted to find our allergen-proof couch on double clearance last month; and since we weren't having the same kind of success with a dining room table, we determined to make our own farmstyle table. The upside of this decision: we were enthusiastic and committed. The downside: we are not builders. We don't even own an electric drill.

But enthusiasm has accomplished great things throughout history, so we proceeded with our DIY dreaming.

Within days of deciding to take on this rather monumental project, we had committed to making three more tables — one for the patio, a coffee table, and a side table.

Our list of projects only grew as we got more settled into our place: a wood plant stand, floating shelves, a rocking chair.

Just kidding about the rocking chair. I just wanted a good laugh, and imagining us trying to make a rocking chair gave me one.

And then we discovered high grade pine is quite expensive, because INFLATION; and we realized we were so busy there was no way in the world we were going to make one table, much less four. So we have settled on making wood floating shelves, a bench for our dining table-that-seats-8, and a plant stand.

We have borrowed a drill from a friend as we look toward beginning our projects, but it has sat in our guest room for two weeks. So, baby steps.

And also: our farmhouse table from Craiglist is just beautiful, and procuring her was approximately 27 times easier than building our own.

It's so fun to watch everything come into place.

And now: on to the drilling. But first the sawing. Anybody have a saw they want to lend us?!

Happy Wednesday, friends.


© by scj