I’m back….

First off, Happy Mother’s Day to ALL of you fantastic food allergy mama’s out there who work tirelessly to keep your kids safe and happy every day. I hope you are baking something sweet and fabulous with your incredible children today. Or maybe perhaps they’re baking just for YOU!

Second, I deeply apologize for completely dropping off the face of the earth, at least in the blogging world. I jumped on here recently and saw that my last post was in February. In February?? I could hardly believe it and thought something was actually wrong with my wordpress. But then I quickly realized I was a total loser and yes, literally dropped the ball all these months and haven’t posted a darn thing. BUT…I’ll give you the readers’ digest version of the past few months and you’ll see why.

Right after my last post, I sold my house in Wilmette, IL. During this time I was also juggling house showings (which means lots of house cleanings) and writing my next book, The Food Allergy Mama’s Fast and Easy Family Meals for Everyday. Writing this book was a labor of love as it includes lots of amazing recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and treats as well as menu ideas. However, writing roughly 140 recipes means creating them, testing them, retesting them and then cleaning it all up! Which, with 5 kids, virtually no help (except for my beloved Halina who lovingly cared for my kids 4 hours/twice a week while I wrote), and an insane kids’ sports/activities schedule, I was literally using every minute of every day to accomplish every necessary task. So then, after I received an offer for my house in February, my husband and I flew off to sunny CA in search for our new family home. No easy task, yet I did all the legwork and research months before, so I knew EXACTLY where I wanted to live. We spent a weekend in SoCal’s San Clemente and looked at TONS of houses. We found one, put an offer in, and after some multiple offer craziness we got it. Next up was finishing my book manuscript and recipe testing. After I finished that, it was time to cook like a madwoman for the book’s photography. I used the same photographer as my last book, Robert Knapp, who is such a creative genius. He has the most amazing sense of style. However, the process of shooting food photos is more work than meets the eye. And I do all my own cooking, food styling, etc. so the process can be very labor intensive. However, after a few days of that, we wrapped the shoot and I sent the photos and manuscript off to my editor. I took one day off, then got our whole family ready for a trip to Disneyworld….

Disneyworld is truly a magical place and I am so happy we went, even despite the craziness of those few weeks. My friend and AMAZING food allergy mama Lissa Critz at My Magic Journeys set up the entire trip for us, and took care of every single detail from where we stayed to where we ate. And yes we ate OUT!!! That alone made this trip the most amazing experience for us, and especially for John. It felt like a real vacation, one in which we could be carefree and feel as safe as possible. I love Disney and how they make EVERY child feel special and cared for, even those with food allergies. Many of you have feared going for obvious reasons, but please, take my word for it, it is worth every expense to go. It will be the trip of your child’s lifetime. Contact Lissa, she’s the BEST of the BEST and will ease your every fear. She’ll send you detailed printouts ahead of time as to where you and your FA child can eat, along with other special touches. I am forever grateful to her for making this trip one of our favorites.

After we returned from Disneyworld, I attended and spoke at FAAN’s Food Allergy Conference in Chicago and shared my favorite recipes and cooking tips. It was an honor and privilege to be there, and like every other year I’ve attended, met so many wonderful and dedicated food allergy parents. It never ceases to amaze me how much I learn from these conferences. I am so thankful for FAAN and everything they do for families like ours.

After the FAAN conference, I was off to speak at my BFF’s middle school in my hometown in Illinois. That was truly one of the most amazing experiences. Those kids were so special, full of love, wonder, and had a great capacity of understanding and concern for learning about kids with food allergies. Afterward they each wrote me these amazing thank you letters, and they all brought me to tears. Every single one of them.

Then a couple of days after that I was off to Orlando again for my own weekend at the Ritz. I was supposed to go on my own as a treat to myself for finishing my book and meeting an old friend, but my one of my BFF’s was actually in FL too, and joined me for the weekend. We had a blast, and it was great to see old friends and meet some new ones too. Love that Ritz!!

After that trip I came home to pack for 10 days, wrap up the kids’ last days at school and get the final details in order for a cross-country move. Oh my Lord, that was no easy feat. In fact, much of it is still a blur. But I do remember landing at John Wayne Airport in Orange County thinking, “I finally made it”. It was a very emotional moment for me, as moving out west has a been a dream of mine for a very long time. The fact that we actually did it still shocks me. I love Chicago, was born and raised in the midwest, and I’ll always be a midwestern girl, but my heart and soul have always longed to be here. I am an outdoorsy-type of girl, one likes to roam and explore, and my spirit could no longer handle the brutal extremes of Chicago weather. In fact, I loved to be outside so much that I was always the dumb ass who could be found running outside at 5am in 15 degree temps and lower wind chills, many times even during snow and sleet storms. I NEED to be outside, all the time. Now that my kids are getting acclimated to the beauty and warmth here, they are loving it just as much.

So now it is May 13th, I’ve been here nearly a month and still getting my sea legs. But I can tell you that I’ve never felt more at peace, or more at home. Every day I wake up, run along the Pacific Ocean and count my blessings. I am a VERY LUCKY girl. I am surrounded by the love of my family, the beauty of SoCal, meeting new friends whom I already adore, and looking ahead to bigger dreams. I think about the past year, and all my dreams that have come true, and have wondered, “now what?”. I’ve always been a daydreamer, someone who is constantly looking to learn more, know more, and see more. Now that I’m here with my family, and we’re getting settled, I’m already planning for new dreams and experiences. Hope…it’s what keeps us all alive and kicking.  Just like I have hope for a cure for food allergies, or hope that our kids won’t feel excluded at school, or hope that our kids stay safe and happy forever.

I sincerely apologize for being MIA these past several months, but now you know why. It’s going to be another fun and fantastic year as I prepare my next book’s release for you, and will be posting some new recipes (Mac and Cheese anyone??) I love you all and am grateful for your support all these years. Your comments, questions and advice make this journey a blast.

Happy Baking Everyone!!!