Nicholos Cleves

This article. Man, does it deserve a read.  In the wake of all this senseless gun violence in the United States this fall, it's hard not to feel helpless, overwhelmed, anxious, deeply afraid, and devastated.

One thing that always comes to my mind is how quickly the news cycle moves on, jerking the spotlight away from those who were directly impacted.  The dead.  The wounded.  Why don't we ever hear about the wounded?  They may not have died in the tragedy, but their lives were forever changed.

For all of the nameless, faceless people that our world quantifies in numbered headlines, "26 dead," "9 dead," etc...these individuals who may not have been important people in your life, but are important people to somebody, this article sheds remembers the gift and circumstance of one man among many, someone who died too young, and is remembered by his heartbroken friends.

Weekend Baking: Birthday Cake (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

Was channeling my inner domestic goddess this weekend as I made two birthday cakes from scratch for my son's birthday party.  For the majority of our gluten and dairy eating guests - my son included, I made this delicious chocolate cake which is my go-to for birthdays, topped with this peanut butter frosting.

Since my best friend was in town (who's been GF/DF for years) and not wanting to miss out on the cake festivities myself, I made this gluten and dairy free chocolate cake with coconut cream frosting (note: recipe reads as vegan, but I subbed 4 flax eggs with 4 eggs).  Not trying to toot my own horn, but the cake was pretty delicious!  Highly recommend for anyone with dietary restrictions that just wants a real honest to goodness moist and flavorful chocolate cake that tastes like chocolate cake!

Friday Fun

It's the weekend!!  What a gorgeous week it's been in the Seattle area, crisp blue, cloudless skies, and the vibrant fall colors bursting on the trees, just beginning to carpet the ground.  My favorite time of year!  This weekend we're hosting friends for a little birthday party and friend gathering to celebrate our little guy's 2nd birthday, and other than that, planning to get outside to enjoy a lovely fall weekend!

+ Did you know Bill Gates and Steve Jobs raised their kids tech-free?

+ the aftermath of a canceled wedding

+ For Washingtonians, many recyclables are ending up in landfills - here's why

+ more than 800 people have been shot to death since the Las Vegas massacre...

+ if you've had a rough day, or read too many articles like the one above and just need a little laugh, watch this lip sync battle (if you don't have time for the whole clip, start at the 4:00 mark, Paul Rudd is hilarious!)

+ the return of Stranger Things! anyone else watching this weekend?

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September Favorites

+ nutpods dairy/gluten-free, whole 30 approved coffee creamer

+ these handy dandy name labels for my kids clothing and supplies

+ la la land and hidden figures (both now on HB0 streaming)

+ speaking of movies, have you seen captain fantastic, so, so good! (streaming on amazon prime)

+ reading a bunch of chic lit "beach reads" by this author, so far my favorites are the perfect match, waiting on you, and anything for you

+ this "pizza" spaghetti casserole (paleo, gluten/dairy free)


+ this Ed Sheeran song...swoon

Weeknight Baking: Chocolate Zucchini Bread (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan)

While our summer garden is fading fast, we recently picked the few remaining zucchini off the vine, and with no other plans for the produce, we opted to make zucchini bread!  My daughter made chocolate zucchini bread at a cooking camp this summer, and has been eager to replicate the recipe in our own kitchen ever since. Thus, my little sous chef and I decided to make this delicious chocolate zucchini bread together.  While it wasn't quite her recipe, she did enjoy grating the zucchini, sifting the cocoa powder, and stirring the various ingredients into the batter.

The recipe listed is vegan, but I substituted 3 eggs for the flax eggs listed, and it turned out just fine; moist, flavorful, and oh-so-chocolatey.  You really can't tell there's any zucchini in this bread, and it was sure was delicious!

Again

Frustrated, saddened, devastated, angered.  Again.  This keeps happening.  As if Sandy Hook wasn't enough.  No one needs to own an automatic assault rifle.  Look where it has gotten the United States.  We can change this, we need to change this now. Look at Australia who took strides in changing their gun laws.  If you feel helpless, confused, and want to do something, I encourage you to become a member of Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action and contribute your support to this fight. And read this.

Feeling all the emotions today.  My heart and thoughts are with the victims and their families.

Atypical

I've found that a key marker of a good book is one where eager anticipation of what is to come supersedes schedules, priorities, and healthy sleep habits.  This may also the marker of a good TV show.  One where you are itching to find out what happens next, wide awake despite the late hour, and feel paralyzed when the screen casually rolls into the next episode and you agreeably, willingly follow along.

This is Atypical.  While I was sad that it was only 8 episodes, this show is well rounded, and on the whole, an insightful and heartwarming comedy about one individual's life in high school with autism. Meet Sam Gardner, a quirky, Antarctic obsessed high school senior with high functioning autism.  The show invites us into Sam's little world, giving the viewer insight into how he thinks, what he feels, and how certain situations downright frustrate him and why. In addition to navigating the daily challenges of high school life, Sam triumphantly decides that he is ready to start dating and acquire a girlfriend.  However, this turns out more challenging than his research suggests, and Sam finds himself completely unequipped and perplexed on how to date.

The cast is excellent, Bridgette Lundy-Paine shines as Sam's blunt, often abrasive younger sister Casey, who is equally annoyed and protective of her older brother.  Sam's dad, Doug, is earnest, frank, and likable.  As the show develops, we learn how he's struggled to connect meaningfully with his son, having attempted many times, only to be rebuffed as his efforts - while genuine - did not resonate with Sam. As the show unfolds, they soon turn a corner as Sam begins to see his dad as the most suitable candidate to dole out advice on how to get a girlfriend.  With this shift of parental involvement and trust, Sam's mom, Elsa, (played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, my least favorite character in the series) finds herself in the throws of a mid-life crisis as she struggles to understand her identity apart from being Sam's advocate and mom.  The cast is well rounded with strong supporting characters such as Sam's friend Zahid, his friend and co-worker at the electronics store is ever present with string of cheesy one-liners and sage advice to pick up girls.  Also likable is Casey's persistent friend turned love interest, Evan, who wears her down with his affable, stoner charm.

While I recognize that this show doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of what it is like to live with autism, I think it's a good place to begin a dialogue about autism and educate oneself.  Having worked in the public school system as a paraeducator and teacher for many years, I myself have taught many students on the autism spectrum,  and while it is important to note that while no two students with autism are the same, I recognize attributes, language, and mannerisms of former students in Sam.  I was pleasantly surprised at how heartwarming the story is, while being sensitive to the challenges that may come with parenting, and being a friend, and sibling to a child with atypical needs.  

If you haven't yet, go check out Atypical.  It's worth a watch!

This post is part of my partnership with Netflix where I share what my family and I are watching each month on our favorite streaming platform. All thoughts and opinions are my own.  #StreamTeam

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