Memories of Grandpa

Five years ago we lost a great man:  my grandpa.  I wrote this the evening that we found out he passed away and  I found it appropriate to post it here as I have been thinking about him a lot lately:

Memories of Grandpa

The last week has been one of remembering, little things will happen and trigger a thought, beautiful memory.



I was remembering how, as a child, there was always a hot cocoa jar.  I don’t know where they got the hot cocoa but on cold winter days we would always have some after playing in the snow.  It was “different” hot cocoa, probably because it was at Grandpa and Grandma’s.  It was always there and Grandpa was always willing to make it for us.


Fishing.  It was what Grandpa did all summer and when we would visit, we would go fish.  I remember learning how to put a bobber on the line, how to put a minnow on (he used mostly minnows) and then catching the fish:  sunfish, blue gills and crappies.  It was SO exciting catching those little fish and we would always take them along.  I’m sure they were too small for anything but Grandpa made sure we took them along, no matter what.


Grandpa always had heart issues and had lots of surgeries:  open hearts, bypasses, etc.  I remember a specific time we were up there visiting after one of his surgery’s.  We went for a walk and it was so special, just me and Grandpa.  I don’t remember what we talked about or how far we went but it was a special time for me.  Those one on one moments with him.


And Grandpa LOVED his garden.  Not just the veggies he grew but especially the flowers.  He made his own flower boxes to set in the front yard, always had a little flower bed around the birdbath and had other flowers everywhere in the yard.  He took time picking the flowers: petunias, marigold, zinnias, etc. and made sure that they were colorful.  He would spend so much time in the garden weeding it and making the plants grow to their best.  Grandpa was always a farmer at heart and carried his love for growing into his garden in town.  He also did a lot of woodworking, making vases, flower boxes and toy animals.  I remember helping him by painting some of the things he made.  We would spend time in the basement painting and cutting things out of wood.


The one thing that was always close to his heart was his love of this country.  Grandpa fought in WWII, one of the brave Army souls that marched across Europe and lived in foxholes.  I always knew that Grandpa had been in the Army and served in the war because he went to a lot of Army reunions and kept in touch with his Army buddies but it wasn’t until I was in college that I really knew what Grandpa had done.  That’s when I learned that Grandpa had seen some horrible things in Europe.  He helped liberate both Dachau and Auschwitz and had seen what the Nazi army had done to the Jews.  He lived with the horrors he had seen and didn’t talk about them for decades.  He told us stories of friends dying for their country, of nearly freezing their feet and hands off and then telling stories about the people he met along the way, like the German family who took him in for a Christmas.  He still kept in touch with that family, all these years later.  Grandpa was a proud Army soldier and was a part of the Turtle Lake Legion from the time he returned from war until his dying day.  What he did for our country was of utmost importance to him and I’m proud of his dedication.


And Grandpa loved his family.  He loved his kids, his grandkids and the time he got to spend with them.  He loved visiting his kids that were spread throughout the US, seeing the different areas.  Time he could spend telling stories, playing games or just being with them were cherished by him…and by me.  I was just telling Dad that Grandpa was down here six years ago for Christmas, it was the Christmas before I moved.  I remember taking the trip to Gateway and his amazement at the geography and then his disappointment of the little town of Gateway (this was before Gateway Canyons was built).  I remember him telling stories, stories I had probably heard a million times before…but I listened.  Each word was important, because it was Grandpa.


And now he is gone.  He has no more pain, will no longer have a weak heart and has his final wish of being with Grandma, who was the love of his life.  We are happy because he no longer has pain but mourn because he is no longer with us.  I miss you Grandpa and love you…




As the Year Ends

2015 has been a wild and crazy ride.  I will do a wrap up soon but as I bought a house and have been painting like crazy, things have gotten away from me, including this blog.  Add in the holidays and, well, I’m amazed that 2016 is just a little over five days away.

Christmas was a fun, relaxing day, just as needed.  With most of my time spent priming, painting and repairing items, rest is needed and that’s what I’m doing.  I apologize to my readers for the lack in content and will be back at it in a couple of weeks.  Thank you for your patience!

Recipe: Chocolate Whiskey Bundt Cake

When it comes to holidays, we don’t do much tradition for meals.  Yes, for Thanksgiving we have turkey and stuffing but then it kind of varies.  For Christmas we don’t do ham or turkey (or rarely do turkey), we do things like shrimp scampi or steak or something like that.  For Christmas Eve this year we ordered in pizza from Chicago’s Pizza in, where else, Chicago.  I can’t even tell you how excited I am about that!

So when it comes to dessert, I usually take it on.  I LOVE baking and for a holiday is no different.  I want to do something that is unusual, last year for Thanksgiving I did tiramisu.  This year I found a recipe that will remain close to my heart:  Chocolate Whiskey Bundt Cake.  Anytime you have whiskey in the title, you have my attention.  The only issue was that this wasn’t a gluten free recipe and, if you have tried converting recipes in the past, sometimes you have luck and sometimes you just throw it away.  This one turned out SO good!  I have to share and, maybe for Christmas, this will be your dessert.  Also, I found this recipe at, I want to give credit where it’s due!

Chocolate Whiskey Bundt Cake with Whiskey Caramel Sauce

Yield: 12 servings

Total Time: 2 hours


For Cake:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups gluten free flour
  • 3/4 cup dark or dutch-processed cocoa powder, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup whole buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup decent quality Tennessee whiskey or bourbon (I used Pendleton)

For Caramel:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • pinch cream of tartar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream (I ended up using light cream, that’s what I get for shopping the night before Thanksgiving)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons whiskey or bourbon
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Generously butter a standard (12-cup) bundt pan. Dust with 1 tablespoon each flour and cocoa powder, and tap and turn until pan is completely coated. Dump out excess.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, whisking until thoroughly combined. Add eggs, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla and mix with an electric mixer on medium-low speed until dry ingredients are almost incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add warm water and whiskey and mix until just combined and no dry ingredients remain (do not overmix). Pour into prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the deepest part of the pan comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack until cool enough to handle, then gently invert onto a wire rack. Allow to cool completely.
  4. To prepare caramel, place sugar and cream of tartar in a medium, high-sided saucepan set over medium-high heat. Pour water around edges. Bring to a boil, then cover and cook for 2 minutes (the steam buildup will help dissolve any stray sugar crystals on the sides). Remove cover and continue to boil, without stirring, until sugar caramelizes to a light amber color, about 5 to 7 minutes. Watch it carefully, as it can go from golden brown to burnt in no time if left unattended.
  5. Remove from heat and quickly whisk in cream and butter (mixture bubbles a lot, this is normal), then return to low heat and whisk until completely smooth. It may seem like it is seizing, but keep whisking and most of the hard caramel chunks should dissolve.  I had a few left and strained them out. Remove from heat and let cool for about 2 minutes, then stir in whiskey. Transfer to a heat-proof container and let cool to room temperature, about 1 hour, or until thickened yet still pourable.
  6. Pour about half of the caramel over the top of cake, letting it drip down the edges and pool at the base. Slice and serve and drizzle with additional caramel as desired. Cake will keep, stored in an airtight container, for up to 5 days.

Chocolate Whiskey Bundt Cake
For a gluten free cake, this kept SO well.  I’m talking that it was still moist after four days, which is unusual.  This is a recipe I WILL make again…and why not?  It’s amazing!

Don’t forget that you can follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more information on what’s going on in the gluten free world and my life!


When I meet someone else who has Celiac Disease, I feel an instant connection.  I instantly feel less alone and feel free to talk about my life with my autoimmune disease.

It’s similar when I meet someone else with an autoimmune disease of any type.  You can talk about struggles and get to know what other people struggle with, help educate others about their disease and spread the word for awareness.

One such person is the daughter of my best friend, Shawna.  Her name is Courtney and Courtney has cystic fibrosis or CF.  According to the Mayo Clinic, “Cystic fibrosis is an inherited disorder that causes severe damage to the lungs and digestive system…But in people with cystic fibrosis, a defective gene causes the secretions to become thick and sticky. Instead of acting as a lubricant, the secretions plug up tubes, ducts and passageways, especially in the lungs and pancreas.”  In short, this disease makes it hard to breathe, breathing is necessary for life so this is a disease that can be life threatening, if not handled correctly.

Ever since I’ve known Courtney, she has tackled this disease head on.  She’s always had a smile on her face and had been an advocate for those that have CF and has been vocal about what the disease is and is always educating people.  Yes, she’s been in the hospital a few times in the past year and a half for “tune ups”, to get her lung function back where it needs to be.  She plays guitar and sings and doesn’t let this disease stop her from doing things she loves.

Courtney turns 16 tomorrow.  This is key because there are several people with CF that don’t make it into their 20’s.  Even less into their 30’s and, well, you get the picture.  Yes, treatments and, now, experimental drugs are helping life expectancy but with CF, the simplest things can trigger shortness of breath.  As a teenager, Courtney loves going to haunted houses.  This year I went with her and Shawna and the fog machines started affecting her ability to breathe.  Things that I wouldn’t think about if it wasn’t for Courtney.  And, as an advocate, she isn’t afraid to stand up for herself in cases like the haunted house or to make sure that a restaurant doesn’t allow smoking, and many other instances that I wouldn’t think about.

Speaking of experimental drugs, Courtney was one of the fortunate ones to be able to take this drug that is meant to keep her lung function where it’s at, giving her a longer life with the lungs she has and, hopefully, to not have to have a lung transplant for a long time or ever.

Why am I writing about another disease?  Because Courtney and I not only have autoimmune diseases (and both agree that they suck) but we also share a birthmonth.  Poor Shawna, having to deal with both of us and our birthday talk all December.

Two things as I end:  1)  The more we understand about other autoimmune diseases (Shawna and Courtney, please forgive me if I got info wrong!), the more we can help others and they can help us educate and advocate for Celiac Disease.  2)  I want to wish Courtney a very happy Sweet 16th birthday!  Here’s to many more, dear!