Category Archives: Faith

Avoid Cross Contamination in Your Kitchen This Christmas

One of my biggest fears when eating somewhere else is do they know how to prepare my food. They may have all gluten free foods but do they know how to prepare it? Or has it been cross contaminated?

That’s happened to me before at the beginning of my journey. when someone said “Oh yea, we will check everything and make sure and prepare it all properly.” I know they meant that with all their hearts too but when we got there it was like a gluten fest, LOL. Bread, dressing, Mac and cheese, etc. etc. My heart sank, I couldn’t eat anything.

When I had to explain why I couldn’t eat it, they said ” We read the labels and none it had gluten on it so we thought that was fine.”

Label reading 101

What is gluten? Wheat, barley, rye, and oats.

“Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat (wheatberries, durum, emmer, semolina, spelt, farina, farro, graham, KAMUT® khorasan wheat and einkorn), rye, barley and triticale – a cross between wheat and rye. Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together. Gluten can be found in many types of foods, even ones that would not be expected.” Celiac Disease Foundation

It may not say the word gluten specifically. There are other words that hide gluten.

  • Barley
  • Breading, bread stuffing
  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Bulgur
  • Durum (type of wheat)
  • Graham flour
  • Hydrolyzed wheat protein 
  • Kamut (type of wheat)
  • Malt, malt extract, malt syrup, malt flavoring
  • Malt vinegar
  • Malted milk
  • Matzo, matzo meal
  • Modified wheat starch
  • Oatmeal, oat bran, oat flour, whole oats
  • Rye bread and flour
  • Semolina
  • Spelt (type of wheat also known as farro, faro, or dinkel)
  • Triticale
  • Wheat bran
  • Wheat flour
  • Wheat germ
  • Wheat starch

And there are more hidden names of “The Evil One” 🤣

So you gotta research, research, and research some more.

One thing you can do is look for the allergy warning on the products. That’s super helpful now but it’s not always there so you can’t depend on that.

Here are just a few tips for that Celiac or gluten allergy person in your life.

1. Always wash your hands, workspace, countertops before preparing anything gluten free.

2. Separate utensils when serving and preparing gluten free foods.

3. Use separate toasters when preparing bread.

Mine is labeled all over in red permanent marker “Gluten free” “Gluten free princess” and “No gluten allowed.”

4. Separate colanders when serving gluten free foods.

5. Use separate cutting boards and knives.

6. You can color code items to let others know if it’s gluten free or use labels for gluten free or gluten “filled”.

About 6 years ago at Christmas I got the flu and then my youngest got it as well. This is an example of our labeling 🤣🤣

7. Use squeeze bottles for condiments, that way you avoid people double dipping.

*Butter and mayonnaise are bigs ones that people don’t always think of.

8. If you cook gluten filled items as well, do the gluten free foods first.

Hope these tips help you and have a wonderful gluten free Christmas!

Big hugs,

Nicole💗

You Are The God Who Sees Me

“I Am the God who sees you!”

God says:

“I see whats going on in your life precious one…

That thing that no one knows about.

I see how you keep on pressing on, when it looks as if nothing will change.

I see your pain.

I see your tears.

I see the struggles that go on behind closed doors.

I see the prayers you’ve prayed.

I say NOW is the time to lean into Me, and remember I have overcome the world. Nothing is to big for Me!

Now is the time to give it ALL to Me.

Now is the time for healing.

Now is the time for forgiveness.

Now is the time for FREEDOM.

Precious one, I am close to the brokenhearted.

I long to bring healing to the broken places of your life and your past.

To the physical abuse you suffered from childhood…

A broken relationship…

A marriage that needs healing…

Sexual abuse that no one knows about….

The unborn child you’ve longed for…

An abortion you had because you thought it was the only answer…

The cruel words spoken over you, the words that you believed….

The things you’ve done to yourself…

Sweet friend, if your in dark pit and can’t see your way out…Call out to God and He WILL answer you.

He will rescue you.

He will protect you.

You are His Beloved, and despite what happened or what you’ve done GOD LOVES YOU UNCONDITIONALLY.

You are not your past mistakes, you have been remade.

YOU are loved.

YOU are chosen.

YOU are forgiven.

YOU are redeemed.

YOU are equipped.

YOU are blessed and highly favored.

And…YOU have purpose!

He is the God who sees you!

Big hugs,

Nicole💗

Our Christmas Traditions & The Greatest Gift Of All

Hey y’all! Hope you are doing well. As the holidays quickly approach, was wondering what your holiday traditions are and I’d thought I’d share some of ours.

I do love Christmas time, actually I’m a Christmas junky. My ringtone on my phone is the Elf theme song….ALLLLL year long🤣🙈

“Best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” My philosophy all year long🤣

And YESSSS! Elf is my favorite movie.

We have quite a few traditions, I can’t wait to hear y’alls.

I usually decorate my house November 1st, yep I’m THAT person! 🤣 Well, everything but my tree and the outside.

When it’s finally time to decorate the tree 🎄 we can only do it with White Fudge covered Oreo’s. It started many years ago. I bought them one year when the girls were little and we ate them while we decorated the tree. The next year rolled around and they were like “Mom, where are the cookies?” So I had to run out and find them before we could decorate the tree…..and so a tradition was born.

When I was diagnosed with Celiacs I had to make my own with gluten free with Glutino Chocolate Vanilla Creme and vanilla almond bark. Easy peasy and delish😋

Another one is every year we make cookies for Santa. We’ve had lots of little ones and friends join us many years. Last year we did it at our daughter and son in laws house. It was so much fun! We usually have a contest as well. My hubby likes to try and make the ugliest one. Meanwhile I’m trying to create a Pinterest picture of some designer cookie, lol knowing full well it will be an epic fail🤣

Another Hopkins family tradition is every Christmas we go to Kingwood Church to see Scrooge. It’s so amazing, like a broadway play. So many talented people at Kingwood and usually 1 or more of our daughters and son in law are in it every year as well.

The next one is on Christmas Eve we always eat yummy finger foods. Sausage ball-regular and gluten free, peanut butter balls, cheese and crackers with summer sausage, pigs in a blanket regular and gluten free, chips and rotel cheese dip, little quiche, corn dip…I’m sure I’m forgetting something. So much food 🐷 and as always, there’s last minute gift wrapping.

Even though the girls are 28, 26, and 23 my husband makes them sleep downstairs on Christmas Eve and no one can come up until he says so LOL. Now 2 are married and their husbands go along with it🤣

For breakfast I make homemade quiche (the day before) and cinnamon rolls. Oh and you can’t forget the Barnie’s Santa’s White Christmas coffee, it’s Ahhhmazing if you’ve never tried it. Treat yo self!😋

We still leave cookies and milk out for Santa and he loves them, even the gluten free ones😉 My husband also still leaves a Santa note to them which are always hilarious and something they look forward to reading.

I still do Santa gifts🙈 and have often done a scavenger hunt.

We watch A Christmas Story every year. Well, I mean it’s on 24 hours so you kinda can’t help it.

The last several years I’ve done an Elf party. It’s always so much fun.

Last years Elf party.Me and my girls😍😍😍First Elf party The first Elf party 🎉

When the girls were little we use to go to Callaway Gardens for the Christmas lights but we lived closer. Now we at least try and go look at lights somewhere over the holiday.

Another one we did when girls were little was we made a happy birthday Jesus cake. They loved doing that. Have you done that before?

And lastly, for the last 3-4 years I’ve started The Secret Christmas Elves, and we collect donations to go and pay out as many kids layaways at Walmart as we can and a gift card to at least one single mom. This tradition is super special to me and close to my heart because there are so many struggling families and 1 person may not be able to make a big dent in helping but when you come together and join forces we can do so much good and help so many! Making some little kid smile on Christmas Day and some parent who has worked hard and just needed a blessing…..it just warms my heart💗💗💗

So what are some of your family traditions?

As our kids grow up and get married, I’m reminded that some of our traditions will be passed on and some will go away, and then there will be new ones made as our family grows and I’m perfectly fine with that.

The best thing though is whatever day you celebrate on, it’s all about JESUS and being with our friends and loved ones.

So often the true meaning has gotten lost in hustle and bustle of the holidays. Parties, baking, gifts, and shopping…it’s all great. Who am I kidding I love me some shopping 🤣 but it’s not about all that. It’s about the greatest gift of all. JESUS. God gave his only son to save us.

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6-7

The gift of Jesus brings the greatest joy to our lives and we need to share this gift so the whole world will know the love of our Savior. He gives us JOY, HOPE and everlasting love….and it’s all for you!

Jesus is the reason for the season!

God bless each one you. May you enjoy your friends and family so much this holiday season. Please share your traditions and I hope you make lots of new memories this year.

May you overflow with JOY unspeakable and remember that it’s all about JESUS! Prince of Peace, King of Kings, Mighty God, and Wonderful Counselor.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year sweet friends!

Big hugs,

Nicole💗

I Am Grateful

My Gratitude List:

My Jesus tops the list.

My Bible, the word of God.

My hunky hubby.

My 3 precious girls, and my 2 awesome son in laws.

My family and friends. Where would I be without y’all.

My Trophy of Grace blogging family.

My Ladies Small Groups.

My mentor.

My Spark in the morning, lol but for real. It gives me energy and clarity.

The beauty of sunsets everyday.

Thankful for being able to buy the groceries we need, the kitchen to prepare the food to nourish our bodies.

Our home that keeps us safe and dry, cool in the hot, humid summers and warm in the winter.

The dry cleaner who does my husband’s clothes because I can’t starch them enough, haha. He likes them to walk on their own lol.

The doctors who care for me. They give me the right treatments for my body and the medications and supplements I need.

My health, although I have challenges there is still always something to be thankful for. I may have to look a little harder and longer on rougher days but they are still there.

Thankful for my arms, while they might be a little flabby these days 😉 they are perfect for hugging and lovin’ on my family.

Hot water to shower with.

Clean water to drink.

The mere fact if you just open your eyes this morning, that’s a gift and a blessing.

Your worst day with God is better than your best day without Him.

My advice is just be present in the moment sweet friends, even in the tough times there are still blessings in disguise we just have to look for them.

Lastly,”Every good and perfect gifts comes from above.”

What are you grateful for?

Seeds of discouragement can’t take root in a grateful heart.”

Happy Thanksgiving y’all!

Big hugs,

Nicole💗

2 Turkey Pardons Coming Right Up

Y’all!!! I just can’t even!! LOL🤣 This just cracks me up.

“Bread & Butter, the turkeys that will be pardoned by President Donald Trump, hang out in their hotel room on Monday.” Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo

All these years I never knew this was a thing until my Dad and I were talking about Thanksgiving and turkey.

“The turkeys arrived at the Willard Hotel on Sunday to enjoy a luxurious stay in a historic D.C. suite ahead of Tuesday’s time-honored White House tradition in which the sitting president publicly spare 2 lucky birds from becoming Thanksgiving dinner.”

These hobnobbing turkeys stay in the hotel until they go to “Gobbler’s Rest,” an agricultural education facility at Virginia Tech University.

This tradition goes back to President Lincoln. His son grew attached to a turkey that happened to be brought to the White House and Lincoln unofficially pardoned the turkey from his demise and so a tradition began.

There will be no “Bread & Butter” served up this holiday season but I do love your siblings 😉

Have a great day y’all!

Big hugs,

Nicole💗

Gluten Free Cornbread Dressing

One of my favorites, Cornbread Dressing. Oh it makes my heart so happy.

Personally, I prefer cornbread dressing over stuffing. My grandmother who was an amazing cook, use to make oyster dressing for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was so gross, like a nasty moist glob in a bowl🤢 She always thought I loved it…..like she thought I loved the prune juice she use to make me drink every day🤢 She’d say “Tori, did you have a BM today?” LOL🤣🙈 Sweet memories.

Moving on…now that I gave you a laugh. If I don’t make my homemade GF cornbread I use Krusteaz Gluten Free Honey Cornbread Mix. It’s so easy and delicious.

I use this cream of chicken. Walmart now carries their own GF cream of chicken which is ok I just prefer this one.

Preheat oven 425 degrees.

2 Boxes Krusteaz Gluten Free Honey Cornbread Mix.

– Cook cornbread to directions on box and then crumble

2 Pacific Cream of Chicken

1/2 Large onion chopped (Or more of you desire)

Optional Add- Celery ( 1 cup chopped)

4-5 Boiled Eggs diced

6 Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs chopped bite size

-Boil chicken and save chicken stock.

Garlic Salt and Pepper to taste. Sage optional.

Add in chicken stock as needed to add in a little moisture.

***I usually put a little bit of chicken stock on the top of the dressing before I put in over.

Mixed all your ingredients together.

Spray pan(s)

Bake for 15 minutes on 425, then LOWER to 375 for 35-40 minutes depending on your oven.

Check to make sure the middle is done, if not, cook a few more minutes and then enjoy! 😋

Serve with Cranberry sauce.

Hope you enjoy our Cornbread Dressing.

Happy Thanksgiving y’all!

Big hugs,

Nicole💗