Unless you live under a rock you have no doubt heard about Hurricane Florence, currently barreling straight toward the Carolinas. You might think, since I live in the Appalachian foothills of Western N. C., I am safe from the storm, but it's increasingly looking as if that's not the case. Therefore, all Atelier Mandaline shops will close tonight until further notice.
I hate to close up shop because honestly, I need the money and I am just starting to see the typical fall sales increase. However, I am all too well aware of the danger we're in. I'm trying not to panic, but the continual resurrection of Fran and Hugo by meteorologists has me scared. In 1996 I experienced the longest night of my life, the time I drove through Hurricane Fran. I was attending university in Greenville (considered part of NC's "Inner Coast") and Fran was supposed to hit us directly. We were told we would be without water or electricity for at least a month. My younger sister was also at ECU and my parents were making me share my car with her (even though I bought the car with my own money, incredibly unfair in my opinion... but that's a story for another day!) and the day Fran came ashore was her day to have the car. I wanted to go inland to our parents' house near Raleigh but she refused to leave and she also refused to bring the car to me. She had all the vast confidence in her knowledge of the typical college freshman and she had determined the storm wouldn't hit her. Besides that, she lived on campus and would have far more access to supplies than I. Finally around 4PM I convinced her to bring the car and I got out of town.
By the time I made it to Wilson, about 45 minutes away back then, it was apparent I waited too late to leave. The sky was pitch black, as though it were midnight and not 5 PM. Trees were bent nearly prone across Highway 64 and I had to drive in the center of the road. Rain lashed the windshield in sheets and branches and leaves and even several frogs blew into my windshield and the wipers were as nothing. I was rolling along, blindly, wondering what on earth I could do. Back then the highway between Wilson and Raleigh was a straight, empty stretch of road through apparent wilderness. I didn't want to face the storm from my car but I couldn't see any gas stations or anywhere I could shelter. Suddenly, seemingly from nowhere, an 18 wheeler pulled onto the highway in front of me. I could see the truck's tail lights and I pulled up as close behind it as I dared and stuck right behind it, following it all the way to Raleigh (To this day my children love to hear the story of the time my guardian angel saved me in the form of a truck!). There, I had to part with the truck and cut through downtown Raleigh to the bedroom town of Garner. The trouble was so many roads were closed due to flooding I kept getting turned around by police. After three or four detours I was hopelessly lost. The street signs were unreadable, spinning like tops on their poles. I drove on desperately in what I hoped was the right direction when I saw the Rialto theater and realized I was heading the wrong way. I turned around and after a bit the tall facade of Shelton's Furniture became visible, guiding me. The rest of the drive was a straight shot and I eventually made it. The drive, typically a two hour drive, took more than six hours.
Despite all that the storm hadn't reached its full potential yet. We spent a long and fearful night as it got increasingly worse. I slept in the basement, convinced the skylights in the roof were going to break open. Morning showed trees down everywhere and the entire back yard flooded. We were without power for several days and counted ourselves lucky, since we had water. Many in the area were without water or power for up to a month. It turned out the Fran forecast was completely wrong. It just brushed over the coast and hit Raleigh head-on. I had driven right under it the whole way. I ended up stuck in Garner, meeting the neighbors at our grill in the mornings for coffee, spending the days helping cut and clear fallen trees, taking cold showers at night. The worst part of it all was my sister's extremely annoying smugness for ages and ages afterward!
Fran taught me respect for hurricanes and contempt for meteorological forecasts, and I'll never forget those lessons as long as I live. Now I'm responsible for my children and my house and my business and since my husband is in charge of the power grid for the Carolinas, he will be at work and I will be on my own. We are praying for the best but preparing for the worst. I hope I'll be able to reopen soon.
Summer is ending. Yesterday we moved our oldest back into his university. Since he started a semester early he's already halfway through his sophomore year and this was his third move-in. It's almost unbelievable to me, my little boy could be starting his third semester of college. It seems as though I started my third semester of college fairly recently!
The third move-in doesn't warrant nearly the amount of shopping and planning and decorating and commemoration and tears of the first. In fact, I tried to snap a photo but got him looking at his phone and then it started pouring rain so I didn't even get my usual photo off all three kids in front of the campus fountain. We already have all the WCU shirts and hats and chairs and stuff so we didn't go to the university bookstore. Instead we went out for lunch, swung by Walmart to pick up some last-minute essentials, and then we hit the thrift store. I always love checking fresh out-of-town thrift stores when I'm traveling and this one didn't disappoint. My eagle-eyed kids spotted Funko Pops and then found this Tyco My Pretty Ballerina doll from 1990 still in her box. She works and was in such good shape I already got her restored and listed in my shops. You can link to my shops from the Home page.
This is a transitional time in my life, as well as the year. My oldest persuaded me to enroll in entrepreneurship and microeconomics classes to help me run my business better. And finally, after nearly eight months of effort I finally found a trustworthy (I hope!) manufacturer and paid a deposit on my first order of custom-designed doll eyes. The order costs more than I've ever spent on inventory and this is the first time I've ever taken out a loan to purchase goods for my stores. I lay awake for hours after sending the payment! As you know, I've had few of these deals fall through, so please send me all the good vibes you can muster in hopes this works! To begin I ordered eyes to fit American Girl and similar dolls with a wider, shallower eye pocket than most dolls. I designed four colors. If these turn out and sell well I hope to eventually expand my color and size selections.
I took a business trip earlier this month and picked up two huge consignment lots, mostly fashion for girls and women, but also some cameras and electronics and men's shoes. I'm working on getting these listed. All my stores are getting more fall and winter pieces. I'm now a Top Seller Stylist on Poshmark, which means you can request I style you for a season or a specific event, like a wedding or vacation. Just ask for styling and make sure your style card is filled out with your size and preferred brands and styles and I'll create one or more outfits for you and send you a discounted offer.
I really feel like I'm on the cusp of expanding my business in a big way, and it's frightening and exhilarating at once. The entrepreneur classes are helping me feel like I have more of a grasp of what I'm doing, although fitting in yet another thing isn't easy.
I've been working on my personal transition, as most of you know, for almost a year, ever since our son's Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis. I've been going slowly and deliberately. First I researched the disease and changed our diet to ketogenic. After a few months I added intermittent fasting. For the past month or so I've been adding new activities, like mountain biking. I would love to see a faster transformation, but I don't want to burn myself out and quit like I have in the past. August has not been kind to me. I strained a muscle in my shoulder or neck three weeks ago. It seemed like it was better so I went biking and swimming last week and inflamed it all over again. Sitting on the couch with a hot compress on my neck combined with eating out during my business trip (even though I only ate one meal a day) and a couple cheat meals with wheat or potatoes requested by my son before he left combined to pack on four pounds. I know it's not the end of the world, and it doesn't erase all my progress. When my son was diagnosed I was wearing a tight 2X in clothes, but yesterday, even with some weight gain, I wore a size M shirt and I tried on a size L shirt I was planning to sell and found it fits so I'm keeping it. Even so, I don't want things to get out of hand so I am planning at least a few days of meat-heavy zero carb. Several doctors in my Instagram feed have switched to the carnivore diet and transitioned their patients to it and they report great improvement in health from joint pain to diabetes, so I think it won't hurt to try it for a while and I know from experience how well it beats bloating and whisks off weight!
You might remember my tutorial a few months back on how to clean and re-flock a flocked doll which featured the Ideal Baby Dreams Velvet Skin doll. I finished the doll and put her aside planning to make a new bunting but with all the housework and all the ketogenic cooking to support my weight loss journey and our son's diabetes and trying to get a big consignment lot listed I didn't get to it. Now my husband announced he wants us to go through the attics and clean them out, so the kids got out the toys they want to sell and stacked them all over our bonus room, so I guess I have to find time to get to that too. We are going out of town tomorrow until the 9th, and I'm trying to get everything ready to pack and this morning we had to replace rotten fence post so our dogs won't escape while we're away (our son will be here but we didn't want to take chances), so I'm a mess right now trying to finish a thousand things at once. True to life, when things get hectic there's always something more that gets added! I had a customer request to buy the Baby Dreams doll I restored in the flocking tutorial and she wants her dressed, so I stayed up way past midnight to get that done. Please know, I am not complaining! I love when people message me to purchase things they've seen on my website; it makes me feel like it's worth paying the fees to have a personal site!
I used my mint-in-the-box Baby Dreams (she's not for sale) to make a pattern for the bunting. I've done this before, but could I find the pattern anywhere? Of course not! Organizing my office is another thing I really need accomplish, and soon, before the holiday season rush! I used pattern tissue to trace the garment and constructed it the same way. Our Walmart, the only place to buy ribbon trims in town, was sold out of the lone white eyelet they carry so I drove 68 miles round trip to go to Joann Fabrics, and I was glad I did, because they had a nearly identical trim! Pretty impressive since this doll was made in 1975! You can see my outfit is actually much nicer than the original (on the right) because I used better fabric and didn't skimp. You can straight-up see through the original bunting! My mint doll is a later version of the Baby Dreams, and they aren't as nice as the first ones the company produced. The first Baby Dreams had flocked legs, which the later ones don't, and much thicker, longer hair. By the end of production Ideal was clearly cutting costs wherever they could. You can see the difference between the first and later production dolls in this post from a few years back. I think Baby Dreams was made for just one year, so it's odd they would cut back so much in the quality for such a short run.
I'll tell you what, that little face just gets me every time! It tugs at my heart just like looking at pictures of my real babies. I guess since this was my first baby it makes sense! If my client decides she doesn't want this doll after all I will have her listed in my shops. You can link from the Home Page to see all the dolls I have available.
And just a reminder, here's what the doll looked like when she arrived. I'm so glad I was able to save her! It's a good thing the original outfit has a hood, since the hair is probably this doll's greatest weakness. I did my best on it and it actually turned out better than I feared it might because I was able to save it and didn't have to give her a wig! I'm always watching for Baby Dreams. She's my favorite doll to restore! If I find another I'll be sure to post about it!
Sometimes great recipes come from disaster. One of our favorite pre-ketogenic treats were "Ooey-Gooey Sandwiches". These were sold for a while by a restaurant at the Sea Pines Resort on Hilton Head Island, SC. They were pimento cheese, bacon, and pepper jelly sandwiches on grilled homemade bread. The restaurant no longer serves them but whenever we visited Sea Pines we would purchase a jar of pepper jelly and loaf of bread from the Farmer's Market and make those one night. I found a recipe for the "Best Keto Bread on the Internet" and tried it for BLT sandwiches one night. It was okay but didn't rise at all so the sandwiches were tiny. I decided to try to double the recipe for Ooey-Gooey sandwiches but it didn't work at all. It wouldn't get done in the middle and it stuck to the pan and fell all apart when I tried to remove it. I was distraught, as I'd been cooking for hours with no supper to show for it, but my son had a great idea: Southern Style Nachos, with the bacon as "chips" and the pimento cheese and pepper jelly as the sauce. It was delicious and is sure to become a new favorite! Maybe my son created a new food genre: instead of Tex-Mex it's NC-Mex!
Southern Style Keto Nachos
3 pounds nitrate-free bacon, cooked and broken into "chips"
6 Tbsp sugar-free pepper jelly
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp onion powder
4 ounces diced pimentos, drained
1/2 tsp dry mustard
To make the pimento cheese: chop or shred the cheddar cheese in a food processor. Add all remaining ingredients and pulse until blended. For chunky cheese just stop blending before the pimentos disappear. I make mine pretty smooth because it's easier to scoop with the bacon.
After cooking the bacon drain it on paper towels and let it cool some so it becomes crispy like chips. Break it into chip sized pieces. Plate each person's pimento cheese and drizzle a little pepper jelly over the top. Surround with bacon chips and serve.
I couldn't find sugar-free pepper jelly so we just used a tiny drizzle (I used more for the photo to make it more visible). My garden is just about to produce a ton of banana peppers and when it does I plan to try a sugar-free jelly recipe with those. If it turn out I will certainly share it!
Last night we took the kids to The Adventures of Kesha and Macklemore concert. It was our youngest kids' first rock concert. Unfortunately we had outdoor seats and had to sit out in tremendous thunderstorms and rain. We didn't get to hear all that much of Macklemore because of it, which I really regretted since he's a favorite of mine. We can't afford stadium food for the entire family so we planned to tailgate and I needed picnic foods. We ended up eating in our car while it rained, so it was a good thing I made finger foods! The music pavilion sells pimento cheese tacos, this being the South, so I decided to use our leftovers from the nachos and make my own. These are low carb rather than Keto, since I used low carb white wheat tortillas. If you have a recipe for grain free tortillas that don't fall apart please let me know! I noticed looking at photos from before and then after we ate that I had a puffy face and rash on my neck and chest after eating the tortillas, so I know I don't need them.
Low Carb Pimento Cheese Tacos
Pimento Cheese (1/2 of recipe above)
12 low-carb taco sized tortillas
1 pound extra-sage country sausage, cooked and chopped into ground beef texture
6 Tbsp sugar free pepper jelly
1 large tomato, diced
Pan-fry sausage, drain, and chop. Set Aside. Spread a layer of pimento cheese on each tortilla, completely covering it almost to the edge. Drizzle pepper jelly over the cheese. Add sausage to the center of the tortilla. Top with diced tomato pieces. Fold the tortilla in half. Serve hot or cold. For picnics I wrap each taco in aluminum foil to make it easier to hold when eating outdoors or standing.
I'll tell you, it's sad to be so old! It took me several days to recover from the Weezer concert last week and now I have to do it again, with the added muscle strain from dancing all night holding a 9-year-old for much of it so he could see over the crowd! My arms feel like they've been ripped from the sockets! I am also trying really hard to avoid my typical summer visit to the Urgent Care and month on steroids and antibiotics due to allergic reactions. Several days ago I got what I suspect is a spider bite while I was working in my garden. I didn't feel it when it occurred but I have a dark red blotch on one hand that is starting to sting and blister. Often the next step for me with stings is I become tachycardic (my heart beats way too fast) and develop a system-wide allergic reaction and infection. Unfortunately besides the bite I've been exposed to second-hand marijuana smoke twice in two weeks at these rock concerts. I am extremely allergic to marijuana so that even second-hand smoke has landed me in the Urgent Care before. After the last REM concert I attended I was at the doctor early the next morning with tachycardia and an eye infection even though it was an outdoor concert. I hate to even imagine what will happen to me if they ever legalize pot here! They don't seem to enforce the law at all as it is and it's incredibly dangerous for me. It infuriates me, too. If you want to take internal drugs and just hurt yourself, whatever, but don't force me to breathe in smoke that can literally kill me! So, I'm just applying all the essential oils I can think of and taking my allergy oils and drinking tea and resting. I did find the time to list some toys on Amazon today, so please look for me as the seller when you're shopping on that site!
I want to thank all of you who have been following my switch to the ketogenic diet for the past several months here and on Facebook and Instagram. If you're new to my site, back in September my oldest son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. It came out of nowhere and surprised us all. In the time since his diagnosis I've learned just exactly how much I didn't know about T1D and how much I thought I knew is incorrect. As it turns out, the typical age for diagnosis as T1D is the late teen years (my son was 18) and not early childhood. T1D isn't usually inherited; researchers have isolated a strain of Enterovirus, an extremely common childhood illness, which attacks the pancreas and they are now formulating a vaccine for those lucky enough not to have contracted the illness yet. Eating whatever you want and flooding the body with insulin is not a good way to treat T1D; insulin can cause hangover symptoms just like alcohol and when taken in excess can kill you, just like alcohol. It is far more advisable to follow a ketogenic diet that keeps blood sugar levels stable and reduces the need for mealtime insulin. Do any of these statements surprise you? They sure as hell shocked me! I'm a researcher at heart and I've read everything I can find about Type 1 Diabetes and all the newest trials and studies since my son's diagnosis. It led me to put the entire family on the ketogenic diet. Even though my son attends college, I didn't want to have to cook separate foods for him when he was home and I didn't want everyone eating stuff he couldn't have, and quite frankly, the more I read the more I could see the ketogenic diet is by far a healthier diet than we had been following and may prevent the rest of us from developing Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, and other inflammatory conditions so common in America.
I won't lie, when I put us on Keto I sincerely hoped it would help me lose weight. When I became pregnant with the very same oldest son I started gaining weight like crazy and for no apparent reason. Dieting didn't help; I restricted food throughout my pregnancy and still gained about 50 pounds. When I became pregnant I was a size 4 with a 25 inch waist and at the very lowest range of my BMI so I had trouble getting doctors to pay attention. "Just eat less," they would say, when I was already restricting myself to 1000 calories or fewer per day. After my son's birth I developed a host of "female" problems that lasted for 15 years and which none of the plethora of doctors I saw could explain. Thankfully, when my son was 15 I discovered essential oils and found one in particular, Young Living's Progessence Plus, that solved my female hormonal problems in ONE month. After 15 years of visiting different doctors, 4 drops a day of this oil fixed me in one month! That is when I became to passionate about essential oils, and Young Living oils in particular. Sadly, I still couldn't solve my weight problem. The photo on the left (above) was taken in February of 2017. At the time I was following what I thought was the Keto diet with intermittent fasting and very strenuous exercise, after the advice of a website I found on Pinterest. I was actually just starving myself and working out way too much. When I saw that photo I switched to a vegan plan and actually gained another 15 pounds or so while also giving myself IBS symptoms. There are no photos of me after that; I made myself scarce or hid behind other people. I was terribly depressed and felt horrible, exhausted all the time. Neighbors would always comment on how much they saw me out walking (I was walking 7-10 miles a day as well as lifting weights and doing aerobics) and I knew they were really wondering how much I could possibly be eating to still be so fat. The reality was I was starving myself and yet I couldn't lose weight. It was absolutely a horrible nightmare. When we got the call our son was in the ICU with his blood sugar over 700 it felt like the last nail in my coffin. I honestly didn't know how I would be able to pick myself up and keep moving forward.
My research into treatment for my son's diabetes led me to discovering Dr. Jason Fung. His books, The Complete Guide To Fasting and The Obesity Code, threw me a lifeline and gave me hope I could improve not only my son's outcome but mine as well. Through Dr. Fung I discovered the Diet Doctor website, which has been another amazingly beneficial site for me. As you can see from my photos, Keto is working for me as nothing else has. In the photos of my face, from February 2017 to July 2018 I actually weigh more in the "After" photo. The photos of my torso above are from April 2018 on the left and July 2018 on the right. I am about five pounds lower in the "After" photo. Weight on the scale doesn't count for as much when you're following a ketogenic diet and you should track your progress with your measurements and photos instead. You will see people who lose a lot of weight very quickly doing Keto but I think they are probably healthier to begin with. After following starvation diets and strenuous exercise plans for my entire adult life and beyond (I started going to the gym with my mother and doing Slim Fast when I was 12) I had a severe Vitamin D deficiency and most likely extremely low bone density. I don't know because I could never get my doctor to test me. Even with Vitamin D levels that didn't register and a Nowegian genetic background (Norwegians have the highest rates of osteoporosis of anyone in the world) they still would just repeat their policy is they don't test before age 50. Thank God I discovered the ketogenic diet before then! I would probably have been a hunchback by age 50! Keto rebuilds your bone and connective tissue. These are heavier than fat. So if you've spent many years on fat-free and low fat diets or the processed and fast food SAD (the Standard American Diet), you will most likely need several months to repair your health before you will see significant weight loss. Dr. Fung explains this best, I think, when he says weight loss is a hormonal illness and yet we try to treat it with caloric intake. Does your body come with a calorie counter? No, it does not! The calories from sugary candy are totally different than the calories from grass-fed beef. Your body can't use GMOs or artificial flavors or hydrogenated fake butter, so those calories just get stored way in fat cells as your body tries to protect itself by isolating these unknown chemicals.
If you focus on restoring your health by eating properly, fasting when you aren't hungry, and sleeping enough, I promise you will see results! Lately I've been running my SEVEN online stores, enjoying summer with my kids, swimming, working in my garden, keeping up with my housework, creating new Keto recipes, and even learning to ride a mountain bike. I've read four books in the past two weeks. I still have a really long way to go, don't get me wrong, but my health and mood and just my enjoyment of life are so much better than they were. I have hope for the future now, which I did not for many months. I no longer feel like sleeping all day. I can see from the photos how much my health outcome has improved. I used to carry most of my weight in my neck, chest, and abdomen. Visceral abdominal fat is one of the greatest indicators for heart disease and the fat releases hormones that harm your organs. I'm very pleased to have lost so much weight from the area around my heart!
Besides the ketogenic diet I feel like my oils have also been helping me with my weight loss. I actually formulated my Tighten Up blend as a breast reduction tool. If you've been following my blog for a long time you know how much I suffered as a teen when I was already in a D cup bra size at age 13. Over the years it just got worse and worse. And yes, I know there are women who get breast augmentation because they want larger breasts, but personally I think they're crazy. My neck and shoulders hurt all the time just a few months ago, and I have to special-order bras online because no local stores carry a G or H cup with a relatively small 38 band size. The oils I used in my blend are all oils that help reduce bloating, support the liver, help flush the lymphatic system, and improve skin tone and tightness, and in the case of frankincense, prevent and treat breast cancer and other cancers. I apply this oil under my arms before I put on my deodorant so it creates a protective shield, because here in the South the natural deodorants just don't cut it.
Even with all my weight loss my cup size has not gotten any smaller, and although that's been quite disappointing, I am happy to say it's as if I've gotten a breast lift. I've had permanent little sores under my arms since I was 13 from the underwire in my industrial strength bras digging in to my skin, but now I've completely switched to wire-free bralettes, Never in a million years did I think I could go without wires! I can wear little tank tops with built in shelf bras! For me this is amazing and life-changing. To go without some huge bra when it's 100 degrees out is just wonderful! Part of this is my discovery of Cosabella and their Curvy Sweetie line, which is specially made for women with large cup sizes compared to their band size but it's also definitely due to the oil (I'm not getting any compensation for recommending Cosabella; I just think they're wonderful!). I've started using it all over and I'm not seeing much sagging skin after weight loss, even being in my mid-40s! Make sure to apply it at night or if you use it during the day, cover up before going out because it WILL make your skin sun-sensitive. You can purchase the ingredients for this oil from the link on the Home page.
Tighten Up Massage Oil
1 bottle Young Living Cel-Lite Magic massage oil
20 drops each Ledum, Frankincense, Cypress, and Citrus Fresh essential oils
10 drops each Sacred Frankincense, Patchouli, and Geranium essential oils
5 drops each Rose, JuvaFlex, EndoFlex, and Blue Cypress essential oils
Add essential oils to the Cel-Lite Magic massage oil. Close the lid and gently turn upside down and right side up while rubbing the bottle in between your palms. The heat from your hands helps the oils to blend. Massage for several minutes 1-2 times per day anywhere you want to see tighter, firmer skin. This oil is also wonderful as a bath oil and for use with ayurvedic dry-brushing. Make sure not to expose the areas to sunlight as you will burn very fast.
Some of my Instagram Keto followers have been patiently waiting for recipes I posted recently, so here I am am, staying up late, writing a second blog post, so you can have them. You're welcome! I just want to remind everyone, no food can be "keto". I see so-called Keto experts all the time ranting about people who insist on eating some food or another that isn't "keto". However, ketosis is a metabolic state, and any food that allows a particular person to stay in ketosis can be a "keto" food. I'm mentioning this because one of these recipes has an ingredient that contains coconut palm sugar. So, before you start messaging me and hating on me, let me explain that I can eat both maple syrup and coconut sugar and stay in ketosis. If you can't stay in ketosis on these foods, then you can adapt the recipe to suit yourself.
The other night we had another sushi cheat meal for our anniversary date night. I can eat sushi and stay just barely in ketosis, so it wasn't too much of a cheat. Dr. Fung explains this is likely due to the vinegar in the sushi rice, which is protective of insulin surges. I do notice I have more hunger and cravings when I cheat, and that is why I don't do it often. My most recent cravings have been for Chick-fil-a chicken nuggets with sauce, so I set out to create a Keto version. I did so well the nuggets were gone overnight. You can fry the chicken nuggets if you want. I just didn't feel like putting in all the effort so I oven fried them.
Keto Copycat Chick-fil-a Nuggets & Sauce
1 Tbsp garlic powder
Dill Pickle Juice to taste, about 1/2 cup
2 pounds chicken thighs, skinless and deboned, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 cups almond flour
1 Tbsp black pepper
2 Tbsp granulated monk fruit sweetener
1 Tbsp Paprika
1 1/2 Tbsp Sea Salt
8 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 Tbsp Sugar-free BBQ Sauce
Dill Pickle Juice to taste, about 1/8 cup
3 Tbsp monk fruit sweetener
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 Tbsp mustard
Beat eggs and mix with garlic powder and pickle juice. Toss mixture with chicken pieces. Melt 4 Tbsp butter in a 13x9 inch pan while the chicken marinates in the egg mixture. Mix dry ingredients and pour over chicken and egg mixture. Toss to evenly coat. Place the chicken in the pan with the melted butter. Spread into a single layer. Cut the remaining butter into cubes and spread over the chicken. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes or until golden brown and crunchy. Using a slotted spoon transfer to a bowl lined with paper towels. Dab with paper towels to remove excess oil. Serve hot with dipping sauce. You can also fry the chicken in peanut or coconut oil; I just didn't feel like cleaning the fryer!
While the chicken is baking, mix all the sauce ingredients except the pickle juice. Stir in pickle juice until the sauce is as thick or thin as you desire. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
For dessert I whipped up some low-carb edible cookie dough, which is something I've been craving. I used powdered peanuts, or peanut flour, as the base for this, and this ingredient has coconut palm sugar. Although this recipe comes out to 9.6 net carbs per tablespoon, coconut palm and coconut sugars are low-glycemic and don't affect blood sugar the way cane sugar does. I don't see any difference between eating this cookie dough and other versions made entirely with monk fruit. I also started Keto to help my diabetic son and not for weight loss, so my goal is different than many people who do Keto. I do want to lose weight, but my main focus is on feeding my kids so they can remain healthy, and as an insulin-dependent T1D, my son does need some carbs. If you don't want to use the peanut powder you could grind peanuts into flour yourself or you could substitute almond flour for the peanut powder and sub peanut butter for half the butter. I used an entire package of sugar-free chocolate chips but these get very hard in the fridge and they are still kind of high-carb, so next time I would probably use less.
Keto Edible Chocolate Peanut Cookie Dough
1 cup peanut powder
8 Tbsp melted butter (or for softer dough, sub in 4 Tbsp peanut oil)
2 Tbsp granulated or powdered monkfruit sweetener
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
Sugar-Free chocolate chips to taste
Mix all ingredients. Roll into balls about 1 tablespoon each. Refrigerate.
I want to apologize sincerely to all my doll readers; I know it's been ages since I wrote any doll-related posts. I've been in kind of a funk lately. I haven't been able to find a manufacturer for my eyes. Although I have a large inventory of dolls to restore the ones I have finished haven't been selling much at all for years now, so it's not really worth it financially to spend my time restoring them. The things I enjoy are designing and making my own dolls and fashion and thrifting. I'm really good at making things and I have a good eye so I'm good at finding abandoned treasures. In fact, my biggest finds from my out of town thrift trip last month, the Wedgwood plate, ARTEL cowboy hat, and Peter Millar cashmere sweater vest, all already sold and provided a great return on investment. The problem is, I have so much inventory to list, from my kids' outgrown clothes and toys to a huge consignment lot I just got and another on the way, I can't really justify buying anything else. Our dining room has once again been taken over by inventory, so I need to move it, but I just can't seem to find the motivation. My oldest heads back to college in just a couple weeks, and then my younger kids will go back to school, and I've been focusing on spending the last bit of summer with them as much as possible. I'm considering just sending whatever I can off to thredUP and selling the other clothes in big lots. Even if I don't make as much profit it may be worth spending my time on something more enjoyable so I don't get burned out.
In an attempt to wake up my doll sales I have an ad running online through Google Ad Words. Unfortunately, instead of increasing my sales it's mainly just turned up people wanting things from me. So far I've had many responses from people wanting me to purchase their marketing services (these messages in particular are ALWAYS misspelled... WHY would anyone want to buy marketing from people who don't even proofread their own marketing messages?!), feature their product in my blog, or to buy their dolls. It's incredible the number of people who have monster collections of dolls, 3000 in one case, and then decide they don't want them. They want to sell them but they don't want to do it themselves, so they email me and beg me to buy them and when I tell them I don't have the money or the room they insist they don't want much for them. So after days of begging and pleading I will agree to view some photos. The dolls ALWAYS need restoration. And they are ALWAYS all the way across the country so shipping will be ridiculous. And then I make my offer and the people get mad and decide they aren't selling them to me. It's just such an enormous time waster for me. So, if you are considering emailing me and begging me to buy your dolls, just don't. PLEASE. I can assure you, if you bought your dolls prior to 2014 you paid too much to get your investment back in today's market and I don't have the space to keep thousands of dolls until the price rebounds, if it ever does.
My ad did turn up one good thing: a new friend! Amanda Volley, of the Jolly Volley blog, featured me as an expert in her recent post about a walker doll she picked up. Her blog is wonderfully funny and well-written and I sincerely hope you will check it out. At the very least you can get the doll posts you desire until I get it together and start restoring dolls again. You can also find Jolly Volley on Instagram (the profile is shown above). I will begin my holiday trunk sets soon. Last year I sold out by the first week of December, so I'm trying to make more this year. At least it's good to know dolls are still popular in trunk sets, even if it takes a long time to make them!
It's hard to believe it's already July! With the start of the new month, there are all kinds of new things happening in the Atelier Mandaline shops. The biggest development is a new branch on Depop. Depop is an exciting new sales platform that I'm proud to be part of. I hope you'll visit and follow me and watch the evolution of the Atelier Mandaline Depop shop. Fees are much lower on the platform, which means I can pass my savings on to you. I envision Atelier Mandaline Depop as a showcase for my more unique and artistic inventory.
Speaking of new inventory, I am stocked! I recently got a large new consignment lot of women's designer clothes, some worn only once! The same weekend I shopped several thrift stores out of town and really hit the jackpot with some of the amazing stuff I found. I have new inventory across all my shops, which you can visit from the Home page links. My July 4th sale on eBay, Etsy, and Poshmark continues through Sunday, July 8th. Things are selling out fast, so make sure to stop by sooner rather than later!
I just placed a big wholesale order from Poshmark to begin stocking my Fall line. My weight loss efforts resulted in a pair of my pants actually falling off while I was in public cleaning our boat yesterday, so I raided my boutique for some new, smaller clothes. I've lived in stretchy pants and oversized tops for far too long and I'm ready for a change. You'll always see my personal life reflected in my shops, so look for more daring, fitted fashions on the way. I'm happy to announce I actually fit into a couple size M pieces now! I still haven't lost a significant amount of weight on the scale, so my clothes keep me motivated. I'm obviously building a lot of muscle; I can see it in the mirror as well as on the scale, and I want to show it off. You can watch a slideshow below of the styles coming soon to my boutique.
My last post covered my Keto Aid drink that helps me through extended fasts and Fat Fasts and Zero Carb Challenges. I completed four days of fat fasting and then we went to my parents' house to pick up our kids. My parents always have a ridiculous amount of junk food, almost none Keto, despite that one of our kids is diabetic and another allergic to wheat, and this time was no exception. My mother had my daughter bake a bunch of iced shortbread cookies and also had all kinds of pasta and chips and bread and juice and ice cream. I did okay the first night but the second night I ate a bunch of Cheez-It crackers and a cookie and drank way too much wine. I recovered my equilibrium once we got home the next day (the amount of junk food is one reason we rarely stay long at my parents' house) and did a week of all-day fasts with just one meal each day and some days a snack added. I found, however, my craving for Cheez-Its just wouldn't go away. Anyone who does low carb or Keto knows that once the carbs leave your body and you get fat-adapted (meaning your body and brain starts using your body fat for fuel rather than recently-consumed carbohydrates), you don't have many (if any) cravings, so this surprised me. Maybe Cheez-Its have some addicting ingredient or maybe it's just that they've always been my absolute favorite snack, but I just couldn't stop thinking about them all week.
I looked for Keto Cheez-It recipes online. I've made similar "cheese chips" and fried cheese in the past but none of them were exactly like Cheez-It. I only like Cheez-Its, too, not any of the store brand copies or Cheese Nips or any of those. I had to find a Keto recipe for classic Cheez-Its, and I'm happy to say, with the help of someone in my Keto Instagram feed, I've done it! It turns out re-creating the authentic Cheez-It flavor requires four things: the cheese must be aged, the cheese must be Gouda, paprika must be added to the seasoning, and the salt must be coarse salt. I have to admit, these are pretty much just as addictive as regular Cheez-Its, so you'll have to exert some will power to keep from snacking. Maybe just eat them as meals, the way I do!
Keto Cheez-It Crackers
12 slices Gouda pre-sliced cheese
Coarse Sea Salt or Himalayan Salt to taste
Paprika to Taste
First age the cheese. Place four slices of cheese on a paper towel (or you can use clean absorbent cloth towels) as shown, layer with another paper towel, and repeat until you've used all the cheese slices. Cover with a paper towel and leave at room temperature for three days. On the third or fourth day cut the cheese slices into quarters. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet so the pieces aren't touching each other. Sprinkle with coarse salt and paprika. Bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes until the cheese begins to brown. For maximum crunchiness, blot the crackers with a towel to remove any excess oil and store in a covered container at room temperature.
So in the past I've done the "chips" you make by baking shredded Parmesan cheese on parchment paper, and I've made the ones where you bake sliced cheddar or fry it in a pan, and those are good, but none had the Cheez-It flavor. I also tried to make cheese crackers by adapting the Fathead pizza crust dough. Those had great Cheez-It flavor but the texture was wrong. They were way too soft. I knew from reading the Cheez-It ingredients on the box they use paprika, which is the difference between them and other similar cheese crackers. Maybe I'm addicted to Paprika! Revelation came when someone in my Keto feed mentioned when they use aged Gouda cheese they get the real Cheez-It flavor. I tried aging the Gouda and the result was really good, but still not 100% Cheez-It. For that batch I used regular fine salt and they were just too salty.
For the next batch I tried the most popular recipe on Pinterest, which calls for cheddar and isn't aged, but I substituted Gouda. That batch wasn't salty enough and the texture was all wrong. When you don't age the cheese it has too much oil in it and the chips puff all up and end up chewy. You can see in the photo above the aged chip on the left and the larger, puffy, un-aged chip on the right. They taste like stale Cheez-Its! The reason you need to age the slices in a single layer on absorbent towels is they soak up the oil from the cheese, which allows the crackers to become as hard and crunchy as those baked with flour.
For my third batch I tried using coarse Himalayan salt on aged Gouda and it turned out perfectly! I don't think you can get closer to the real Cheez-It than this! Real Cheez-Its have those big pieces of salt on them, which I love, and the coarse salt adds that part of the Cheez-It experience.
After getting myself back on track I ended up losing almost another inch off my waist, so now I've lost nearly four inches off my waist in the last two weeks. I know I could do even better on another fat fast, but it's really hard to do with the kids home, so I've just been trying to fast for at least 18 hours a day. Maybe now that I have the Cheez-Its down I'll be more successful at fat fasting!
If you've been following my weight loss journey you know that after hitting a months-long plateau I decided to participate in the Operation No Scale Challenge from June 1st -July 1st. I'm supposed to be focusing on meeting my macros and how much better it makes me feel instead of just the number on the scale. The trouble is, I'm not feeling all that great! I've been having muscle aches and cramps and dizziness, especially when I stand up suddenly. Reading up on it, I found Keto, and any other diet that causes rapid weight loss or water loss, can deplete your electrolyte balance. Thankfully, this is a quick fix with some Keto-Ade. It's a terrific Keto aid, ha ha! Keto-Ade is easy to make and besides helping with muscle cramps it can ease other unpleasant side effects of Keto, Zero-Carb, and Intermittant Fasting, like constipation and insomnia. Here's the recipe:
6 cups water (I use distilled water)
1/2 tsp. Himalayan Pink Salt or Sea Salt
Juice of 1 lemon or 1 TBSP bottled lemon juice
2 tsp. Young Living MegaCal calcium and magnesium supplement
10 drops Young Living Lemon Essential Oil
1/4 cup Monkfruit Sweetener, Granulated, or to taste
Mix all ingredients in a glass or metal container (NEVER use plastic with citrus juice or essential oils as it etches the plastic and causes chemicals to leak into the water) until the salt, MegaCal, and sweetener are dissolved. Drink as needed throughout the day to replenish electrolytes. One cup has 2.5 calories and a trace amount of carbohydrates. Please note, magnesium has a laxative effect, so add this drink to your diet gradually to see how much you can tolerate.
This week since my kids are out of town I decided to try to do either an extended fast or a week of Zero Carb. Yesterday (Monday, Day 1) I tried the full fast, with just water and coffee with a splash of cream in the morning and afternoon, and Keto-Ade, but I was starving to the point I was having trouble concentrating by supper time, so I had four pieces of bacon and a few macadamia nuts. Basically, I'm doing a modified version of Dr. Atkins' "Fat Fast" with some actual fasting. His version was a 1000 calorie per day diet of as close to pure fat as possible, three meals a day, for one week.
My one little meal, with a few more cups of Keto-Ade before bed, was enough to fill me up and I was actually able to sleep last night. That's wonderful, because both fasting and zero-carb cause me to suffer from insomnia most of the time. So far today I've had only coffee and Keto-Ade but I'm getting really hungry so I will probably have a small zero-carb meal tonight. Yesterday I swam laps and walked and today I worked in the garden, so I may just be adding too much activity for a complete fast. I'm still barely in ketosis, which is quite disappointing. This could be due to my little Sunday night red wine and Halo Top fest before starting my fast or possibly the sugar alcohols in the monkfruit sweetener I used in my Keto-Ade are affecting me like carbs. If I'm not deeper in ketosis within the next 12 hours or so I will either remove or change the sweetener. Monkfruit usually isn't a problem for me so I'm thinking it was my indulgence the night before my fast.
If you wanted, you could remove the juice all together from the drink and substitute essential oil to taste and then you could change the flavor. Lime would probably be really good, or orange. Keep in mind, only Young Living developed Vitality essential oils especially for internal consumption and they are the only brand of oils I recommend. Most essential oils are NOT safe for ingestion. You can purchase the oils and MegaCal supplement from the Home page of this website. I hope you find this recipe as much of an aid to your Keto diet as I have!
My name is Amanda, but my childhood nickname was "Mandaline". I am a mother of three turning my passion for creating into a full-time business.