4th of July Paleo Mocktails

The fourth is coming up next week and that usually means lots of good food - preferably Texas brisket or at least some BBQ for me - and drinks.

However, I'm doing my best to stay on track with strict Paleo due to several recent injuries on top of my adhesive arachnoiditis. I've had to really cut back and modify my workouts so I'm making up for that in the food department.

Next week - July 4th will be the ultimate test since I will also be on vacation, visiting #leohusband's family in Florida. I've never fully been able to stay strictly paleo when I'm there. Too many tempting treats!

This year I'm hoping to be on track especially since one of my sisters-in-law is a complete health nerd like me. Hopefully, she and I can hijack the kitchen and keep things healthy.

I'm optimistic that I can make this mocktail and maybe my Whole 30 Pulled Pork next week to stay on track. I came up with the recipe last year for a friend who has Type 1 Diabetes. It has no added sweeteners at all! Stay tuned tomorrow for this yummy goodness...

4th of July Paleo Mocktails

1 c of filtered water
1.5 lbs of Strawberries hulled
1/4 c of Raw Unfiltered Honey
1 Full Spring of fresh Rosemary or 1 drop of Doterra Rosemary Essential Oil
Zest of 1 Lemon
1 T of fresh lemon juice
Ice Cold Cran-Raspberry LaCroix
Rosemary sprigs for garnish
Blueberries for garnish

Sauce Pan
Blender or blending stick
Mason Jar

Make It:

Wash all produce and herbs.

Chronic Pain Warriors - for quick hulling of strawberries, I like to make a V cut in the top of each with a sharp paring knife and then slice them in half, working over the saucepan and sink.

Add the water, rosemary, and honey to the pot and bring to a boil. While the strawberries are coming to a boil zest the lemon, cut 1 in half and juice it. Once the strawberries have come to a boil, reduce to a simmer and add the 1T of lemon juice and the lemon zest. Stir well. Simmer for 5 minutes and allow mixture to cool.

When the base has cooled off, take out the rosemary sprig making sure to get any yummy strawberry goodness off. Either pour the base into a blender or using a blending stick, thoroughly blend the base. Pour into a wide mouth mason jar through a sieve. Chill for 1 hour.

To serve:

Add 1-2 T of the strawberry base to the cocktail glass of your choice, top with ice and Cran-Raspberry LaCroix. Garnish with blueberries and a small sprig of rosemary.


Review: Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Pancakes

There are some things I just miss. I think this is been a recurring theme in my blog posting lately.

I really miss pancakes sometimes. So cruising through my local grocery store I saw Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free pancakes.

I’ve worked with these over the past month to get the best pancake recipe I can find, and this is what I came up with.

Instead of using coconut milk or almond milk, I found the best thing to use was the Lifeway Plain Organic Kiefer.

This key ingredient gives you the fluffiest pancakes and the most pancake like texture.

I even got super fancy and added some dry nut mix this time.

This was the ultimate prebought gluten-free pancakes that I modified and they were simply delicious.

I like to make a bunch and then reheat them in my toaster oven during the week for a quick breakfast.

I purchased Bob’s Red Mill with my own funds, I did not get this product for free to test.

What are you using your living spaces for?

I treated myself a few weeks ago to a beautiful BHG Organizational Magazine. It was a nice under $10.00 Treat Yo Self moment.

The gorgeous cover caught my attention mainly because if I could sell everything in my house tomorrow and start fresh, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

I don't know if it's that everything reminds me of better times or I'm a new person since my disease so I feel weird and out of touch in my surroundings. Maybe both.

As I browsed through the magazine at first glance an article about addressing the true needs of a room caught my eye. It really got me thinking that although I have a small home office set up in the guest room and an art nook, I always end up grabbing my finances or supplies and hauling them downstairs to work on in front of the TV.

What are you using your living spaces for?

Bullet Journaling? In front of the downstairs TV.

Crocheting? In front of the downstairs TV.

Calligraphy? In front of the downstairs TV.

XBox? You can guess what I'm about to say.

Seriously. Art through XBox occurs in our downstairs living room. $10 says you can guess where I'm blogging right now. So why don't I have a desk in there?

Ooh! Let me look at 'desk in the living room' layouts on Pinterest.

6 hours later...

I have confirmed that a desk in the living room would rock and that yes, I should totally sell everything in the house and start over. Sigh. Back to square one!!!

I took the plunge and sold our loveseat and couch on Nextdoor. I used the funds to buy a desk and thanks to my awesome parents - they bought me a sectional that is comfortable enough to stretch out on for my arachnoiditis leg. I will be doing several covers for my mom and a few book layouts pro-bono to repay her.

I challenge you this week to really examine what you do in your rooms at home and set up that room according to how you actually use it.

Here is what I came up with...

5 Ways to Defeat Painsomnia

Friday night I had a pain flare that dramatically increased from a 5 to an 8 within minutes. I was already in bed and knew I wasn't going to be able to sleep due to the intensity of the pain.

So I started my 5 step process to get the pain under control in order to fall asleep. I think that if you suffer from chronic pain the things that I recommend are worth talking to your doctor about.

5 Ways to Defeat Painsomnia

1. Lidocaine Patches

I immediately slap on a lidocaine patch. It is my first line of defense. I set a 15 minute timer and...

2. Headspace SOS Pain Flare Meditation

I listen to the Headspace Mediation on Pain. If my heart is racing and my body is tensing from the pain this helps it calm down. If the pain is not coming down within the 15 minute timer, I go to the next step.
3. TENS unit

I put on my tens unit around the pain area and then set a 30 minute timer. I either turn on the TV and put a funny show on to laugh or listen to a book on Audible. When the 30 minutes is up I access my pain, if I'm still in as much pain as when I started...
4. Frontline medication

I take my muscle relaxer. It's a prescription and while it does absolutely nothing for my nerve pain, it helps my muscles relax because they are tensing and tense muscles lead to more pain and migraines. The last thing I need during a pain flare is a migraine. The muscle relaxer can also help me sleep, so it's a piece of my bedtime pain strategy in combination with my sleep medication and melatonin.

5. Ice

Last I get ice, and this is last because I will fall asleep with it, which isn't great for your soft tissues.

If it comes to it there is a 6th step and that is my last resort and frankly, #leohusband usually has to talk me into it.

If nothing has worked I finally break down and take my prescribed pain medication. I usually have a Larabar or an RX Bar in my nightstand drawer for emergencies.

I feel that in today's climate it's important to talk about the people who actually need pain medication. I do. I'm not a drug seeker or an addict. I rarely take mine and I go through all of the above steps before I do. Treating people with serious conditions like Adhesive Arachnoiditis like criminals bodes ill for the future of medicine and medical treatment.

Even then, my pain medication sometimes doesn't work. Then I'm stuck until the nerve pain finally decides to just turn off.

There have been many times that #leohusband has come downstairs to find me asleep with my cell phone still playing Netflix. Luckily we now have an Amazon Fire Stick in the bedroom so I can watch TV during emergencies.

Jicama Chili Pepper Summer Salad

I get tired of salads very quickly. Luckily I've started experimenting with different ideas of salad...especially those without lettuce.

I've always been into throwing fruit into salads. Weirdly I know there are some people super against this. Well, get over it and try new things.

This is one of my newest favorites:

Jicama Chili Pepper Summer Salad

It's super easy to make, and for you chronic pain warriors out there, you can buy pre-cuts which make this salad super easy to put together.


1 Jicama
4 Mangoes
2 Cucumbers
1t chili powder
2T lime juice
2 sprigs of mint roughly chopped

Peel the jicama with a potato peeler and then chop into 1" cubes. Peel and chop the mangoes into 1/2" cubes avoiding the large pit in the center.

Cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise, and then in half lengthwise again. Cut 1/4" slices of cucumber

Put all ingredients into a large bowl except the chili powder. Toss with the lime juice. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Lastly, sprinkle chili powder over the whole salad before serving.

Goes great with my Paleo Beef Enchiladas

Paleo Cashew Butter Cups

I miss Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. This is one of those memory items since childhood that I carry with me. My mom would always fill a Santa jar with them every Christmas. Coming home, you'd see the jar and immediately know what was in there.

Easter was always the Reese's Eggs.

Halloween was the Hershey's Mix with the full size Reese's Cups.

The things that derail me from my healthy eating regime are usually nostalgic. My mom's lemon meringue pie or her strawberry cupcakes will immediately bring up heavenly memories of birthdays and holiday meals shared with my siblings.

I know that any food attached with heavy nostalgia is my kryptonite. I've made peace with my derailments though because I'm always back on Paleo the next day or my entire day was Paleo except for that cupcake of deliciousness.

So in my efforts to at least avoid refined sugar, I sat down and worked on a good substitute.


Paleo Cashew Butter Cups

I adapted my Paleo Fudge recipe so check that out here so you can make the chocolate portion of this recipe.

If you use the chocolate silicone mold I suggest in that recipe you should have enough left over chocolate to make about 8 of these. If you want to make a big batch then just go for it.

To get that classic Reese's Peanut Butter Shape I used these.


Chocolate Fudge Recipe - Melted and Warm
8 oz of roasted cashews (if unsalted you will need to add a 1/8t of salt)


For the Chocolate:
Sauce Pan
Food Scale (helps with the chocolate part)

For the Cashew Butter:
Food Processor with the cutting blade or High Powered Blender
Scraper or Spatula for the food processor
Baking Sheet sized appropriately to fit on a shelf in your freezer
Silicone Cups
Measuring Spoons
Cleared Freezer Shelf

Make it!

First, you want to make the chocolate so follow that recipe here.

After the chocolate is ready, set the burner to low. You are going to spoon 1T into each of the silicone cups and place in the freezer.

Now you are going to make the cashew butter while the first layer of chocolate sets.

Dump all the cashew ingredients into the food processor except for the vanilla and cinnamon. Making cashew butter isn't hard it just takes patience and 10 minutes. Make sure you have roasted cashews because raw cashews will not come together as a butter.

Set a 10-minute timer and turn the processor on.

About a minute in scrape down the sides. Turn back on.

Stop the food processor about every minute or so to scrape the sides down until 5 minutes are left. At the five minute mark try to keep the processor on until 2 minutes and 30 seconds left. Stop and scrape.

Turn back on. These last two minutes are when the magic happens. The heat from the blade helps things come together so don't be surprised if the butter is warm to hot.

After the butter is together and warm, take the frozen cups out of the freezer and place a teaspoon of cashew butter in the center and spread out. Place back in the freezer.
If the chocolate sauce has started to solidify then turn up the heat and give it a quick whisk to get it back to a nice fluid state.

Check the cashew layer to see if it has cooled. If firm, using the back of a spoon smooth out the top of the cashew butter. When done, put 1 T of chocolate on top. Tap out any air bubbles and freeze for an hour.
Pull the silicone cups off, store in a Tupperware in the freezer or fridge.

Try not to eat them all at once!

Upper, Mid, and Lower Trapezius Stretch

I'm constantly having issues with everything around my shoulder. #leohusband is sweet when he says my angel wings hurt all the time.

They do and unfortunately, it's now reaching my down my arms. So working with some physical therapy stretches and yoga poses I came up with this simple series to work on my trapezius muscles.

I totally had a brain fart and couldn't remember that the last pose was called boat - so forgive me!

Gardening for Plant Killers and Chronic Pain

They say that gardening can be a great stress reliever.

I find it just plain stressful. I kill plants like crazy. I either water them too much, forget to water them, and since I got arachnoiditis, bending over to water is just not a thing I can do. I'm working on this problem by getting plant stands for my next go.

However, it went from cold to blazing hot overnight in Texas so my third attempt at a garden and herbs is going to have to wait.

Until then, I indulged my creativity with a felt succulent garden and it was very relaxing. Plus, no watering required.

Gardening for Plant Killers and Chronic Pain

In the unboxing, you get four felt rollup strips. One of which is two layered together. Three geometric vases, decorative stickers (which I chose not to use), Four specialized rubber bands and two pieces of chalk, green and purple.

I loved the process of rolling each succulent up. Coloring the leaves was dirty fun!

Former Art Teacher Pro Tip:
The chalk can be hard, scrape the sides on the plastic holder to get the outer layer off.

I also recommend doing the inside petals darker than the outside. Feel free to experiment and if you don't like it, it's felt and chalk...gently wash the chalk off and let it dry.

I kept them in their geometric cardboard vases for now but I will eventually put them in the ceramic pottery I made in graduate school.

If you want to try your own...

9 Things for a Waiting Room Survival Kit

If you are like me you spend a lot of time in doctor's office waiting rooms. Why for the love of Pete can they not get comfy chairs? I mean my old neurologist's office had the worst chairs I've ever sat in, in my life. They were the decedents of medieval torture devices.

Save me a seat, I'll take the iron maiden in the corner.


Of course, it's ok because the doctor always runs on time. Oh wait, they don't.

So you are now stuck on a modern-day version of the rack and you are there for...the longest I've waited in a waiting room for a doctor's appointment was 6 hours. Add an hour drive both ways to that and it's an 8 hour day. Note that I never actually got to see the doctor, I finally had enough and walked out.

Talk about massive pain flare.

It took me 2 full months - 8 weeks - to recover from that visit. I actually didn't know if I was going to make my sister in law's wedding because of my pain levels.

That's when I knew...waiting room survival kit.

If you have chronic pain or illness you need one.

9 Things for a Waiting Room Survival Kit

1. Get a lightweight, small suitcase.

First, you do not want to carry anything. That will fatigue you beyond reason, so you want to get a bag that rolls. The heavier a bag is the harder it will be to get out of the car.

I initially got an 'under the seat' suitcase for travel purposes because I do not need to be lifting a suitcase into the bin. I really loved its handiness and lightweight, I started taking it with me to doctor's appointments.

2. Get a Honeycomb Gel Seat Cushion

#leohusband calls my cushion The Bear Pad. It sounds way cooler than 'my gel cushion' but that's what it is. I specifically recommend the honeycomb ones because they reduce the pressure on your points of pain. It makes sitting with Adhesive Arachnoiditis a little better and lets me stay seated longer.

I really need to sew a new cover for mine because we have definitely left it at friends houses and restaurants. That black cover just blends right into some chairs. Oops!

3. Old School Screw Top Ice Bags

Someone somewhere has access to ice. Maybe it's the Starbucks in the hospital lobby or an ice machine in the staff lounge, you can get ice and put it in your handy 'old fashioned' ice bags. Get it on your pain before it spirals out of control. Ice works best for my nerve pain but...

if heat is more your thing...

4. Heating pad

Seriously, take a heating pad. There are plugs in every doctor's office waiting room. Use them. I have a small travel sized one for my endometriosis. I have no problem plugging it in and sitting with it, of course, I'm kinda at the I don't give a damn flip what people think stage of my life.

There are also microwavable rice packs and I know every doctor's office has a microwave. Just ask!

5. Headphones

I don't know about you but when I'm in pain the last thing I want to hear is other people's phone conversations or screaming children. I just plug in my headphones and lose myself in an Audible book.

Music is great but a good story can take you away from the hurt and frustration. Also, nothing is better than having people staring at you for laughing out loud at what appears to be nothing.

Here are some of my favorites:

My earbud covers make my apple headphones super comfy, and with that new plug, your options are limited.

6. Coloring Book or Bullet Journal

While I'm listening to my book I like to either work in my bullet journal by setting up the next month or color in one of my adult coloring books. #breadwinnerbff and I always laugh about the 'adult coloring books' like they're illicit. Yeah, we're immature but it's still funny.

Keeping my hands busy and my brain busy is a key combination to surviving a long wait time for a doctor's office.

7. Yoga Towel

I've also been known to do yoga in doctor's waiting rooms or in the hallway. I have to do my yoga anyway so instead of doing it in the morning, I save my exercise time to keep moving instead of sitting for long periods of time at the doctor's office.

I get the best looks when I do this. I don't mean to brag but I make excellent people watching material.

It also doubles as a great blanket or if you need to lay down because of pain then you don't have to lay on that nasty floor.

8. Pain Management Supplies

I do feel that this goes without saying but have whatever pain management medicine or devices with you. For me, that's my IFC/TENS unit, Lidocaine Patches, pain rub, and breakthrough medicine.

Right now I'm super into Hemp Rub. It's amazing and totally takes away the pain for 6-8 hours. I've been putting it on my shoulders and knees.

9. Extension Cords

Sometimes that plug you need is across the exam room. Sometimes there's a jerk that won't give up their seat in the waiting room. Either way, having an extension cord to plug in your heating pad or TENS are a must.

Make packing your bag a priority the night before an appointment so you are not rushing around the day of. Put it by the back door so you don't forget it on your way out.
Hope this helps! I know until I put this together getting through a day of doctor's appointments was hell on earth with long recovery times afterward.