Shutterfly

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We love Shutterfly! We have been trying to catch up on making our photo books as of late. We take so many photos and it can take some time to sit down and do the editing (cropping, adjusting light, etc.). Selecting the perfect shots to print seems to be an endless task! Today we were able to design one more photo book with Shutterfly and we took advantage of their free card offer today as well. We highly recommend their printing services to anyone looking for awesome print quality, fast service, and endless options!

5×7 Folded Card
View the entire collection of cards.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Brownies {Gluten Free}

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Chocolate Chip Zucchini Brownies {Gluten Free}
1 cup almond meal (we just ground up raw almonds)
1 cup organic light brown sugar
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup sweet sorghum flour
1/2 cup unsweetened organic cocoa powder
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup packed shredded zucchini, patted dry
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
Optional: 1/2 cup chopped nuts

Method
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Line the bottom of a 9-inch square baking pan with a piece of parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the almond meal, brown sugar, brown rice flour, sorghum flour, cocoa powder, xanthan gum, baking powder, and salt.
Add in the eggs, coconut oil, and vanilla extract.
Beat till smooth.
Add in the shredded zucchini, dark chocolate chips (and chopped nuts, if adding).
Stir to combine.
Scrape the brownie batter into the baking pan and spread it evenly.
Bake in the center of a preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes until firm and set.
Use a cake tester to make sure the center is baked, if you like.
Cool the pan on a wire rack until it is cool enough to handle.
Enjoy!

Chocolate Angel Food Cake {Gluten Free}

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Chocolate Angel Food Cake {Gluten Free}

½ cup potato starch
½ cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 ½ cups sugar plus 2 tablespoons
¼ baking cocoa
1 ½ cups eggs whites, room temperature
1 ½ teaspoons cream of tartar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Method
Sift together potato starch, cornstarch, xanthan gum, ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, and cocoa.
Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl beat egg whites, cream of tartar, salt, and vanilla until foamy.
Add remaining ¾ cup sugar 2 tablespoons at a time.
Continue beating until stiff peaks form.
With a rubber scraper fold in flour mixture a few tablespoons at a time.
Mixture will be thick but do not over beat the mixture.
Gently fold in the flour.
Spread into a 10 inch tube pan (not a bundt pan).
Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes or until the top of the cake springs bake when lightly touched.
Immediately invert the cake and leave upside down in the pan to cool.
Once cooled run a knife a long the sides of the pan and remove cake.
Serve with chocolate whipping cream if desired.
This is also good with fresh fruit.

Pancakes {Gluten Free}

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Pancakes {Gluten Free}

1 cup rice flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/2 cup ground almonds
3 teaspoons sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method
In a large bowl, combine the rice flour, potato starch, almonds, sugar, baking powder and salt.
In another bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, butter and vanilla; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.
Add more milk if needed.
Pour batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto a hot griddle coated with cooking spray; turn when bubbles form on top.
Cook until the second side is golden brown.

Stuffed Baked Parmesan Eggplant

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Stuffed Baked Parmesan Eggplant
2 medium/large eggplants
½ cup onion, chopped
1 medium bell pepper, chopped
3 tablespoon oil
1 ½ cups cooked rice
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt & pepper to taste
2 slices of cooked bacon, crumbled (optional)
butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place eggplants in boiling water for 10 minutes.
Remove, cool enough to handle, then cut lengthwise.
Remove pulp within 1/2″ of skin.
Chop and reserve pulp.
Sauté onion and bell pepper in oil for 5 minutes.
Add bacon and eggplant pulp; simmer for 2 minutes.
Remove from heat.
Add cooked rice, tomato, grated parmesan and seasonings.
Gently mix together.
Fill eggplant shells, sprinkle with parmesan cheese cover and bake 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees.

Vanilla Cake {Gluten Free}

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Our Summer Solstice Vanilla Cake with Fresh Fruit & Flowers

Gluten Free Vanilla Cake
1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
2/3 cup tapioca flour
1/3 cup potato starch
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) softened butter or margarine
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup milk (any type-we use rice milk)

Pre-heat oven to 350.
Grease pans-this recipe makes 16-18 cupcakes, 2 6-inch round layers, 9-inch square, or a 10-inch round (we often double the recipe to make a layer cake).
Throughly combine the first 8 dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
Place softened butter in mixer bowl and beat until fluffy.
Add flour mix to butter, blending on lowest setting until combined, then changing to setting “2” on the mixer until mixture is crumbly, about 1 minute.
In small bowl, lightly whisk eggs and vanilla together.
Add eggs to mixer and mix until smooth and thick, about 1 minute.
Add milk and mix for 1 more minute.
Pour into prepared pan and bake until toothpick is clean.
Time will depend on the shape of your pan, but should be about 24 minutes for cupcakes, 45 minutes for a loaf pan.
Allow to cool in pans for about 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack.
Frost when cool.

Light Vanilla Frosting
5 tablespoons flour (we use rice flour)
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar (not powdered sugar)

In a small saucepan, whisk flour into milk and heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens.
You want it to be very thick, thicker than cake mix, more like a brownie mix.
Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature.
It must be completely cool before you use it in the next step.
Stir in vanilla.
While the mixture is cooling, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
You don’t want any sugar graininess left.
Then add the completely cooled milk/flour/vanilla mixture and beat the living daylights out of it.
If it looks separated, you haven’t beaten it enough.
Beat it until it all combines and resembles whipped cream.

Serissa picking the flowers for our summer cake.

All the beautiful flowers Serissa choose for our cake.

Eye Exams for Your Child

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Eye Exams for Your Child
As a parent, you may wonder whether your preschooler has a vision problem or when you should schedule your child’s first eye exam.

Eye exams for children are extremely important, because 5 to 10 percent of preschoolers and 25 percent of school-aged children have vision problems. Early identification of a child’s vision problem can be crucial because children often are more responsive to treatment when problems are diagnosed early.

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), infants should have their first comprehensive eye exam at 6 months of age. Children then should have additional eye exams at age 3, and just before they enter the first grade — at about age 5 or 6.

For school-aged children, the AOA recommends an eye exam every two years if no vision correction is required. Children who need eyeglasses or contact lenses should be examined annually or as recommended by their optometrist or ophthalmologist.

Early eye exams also are important because children need the following basic skills related to good eyesight for learning:
• Near vision
• Distance vision
• Binocular (two eyes) coordination
• Eye movement skills
• Focusing skills
• Peripheral awareness
• Hand-eye coordination

For these reasons, some states require a mandatory eye exam for all children entering school for the first time.

Scheduling Eye Exams for Your Child
The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) says on its Web site that your family doctor or pediatrician likely will be the first medical professional to examine your child’s eyes. If eye problems are suspected during routine physical examinations, a referral might be made to an eye doctor for further evaluation. Eye doctors have specific equipment and training to assist them with spotting potential vision problems.

When scheduling an eye exam for your child, choose a time when he or she usually is alert and happy.
Specifics of how eye exams are conducted depend on your child’s age, but generally the exams will include a case history, vision testing, determination of whether eyeglasses are needed, testing of eye alignment, an eye health evaluation and, if needed, prescription of eyewear.

After you have made the appointment, you may be sent a case history form by mail, or you may be given one when you check in at the doctor’s office. The case history form will ask about your child’s birth history (also called perinatal history), including birth weight and whether or not the child was full-term.

Your eye doctor also may ask whether complications occurred during the pregnancy or delivery. Other questions will concern your child’s medical history, including current medications and past or present allergies.

Be sure to tell your eye doctor if your child has or displays any of the following:
• Delayed motor development
• A history of prematurity
• Frequent eye rubbing
• Excessive blinking
• Failure to maintain eye contact
• Inability to maintain a gaze (fixation) while looking at objects
• Poor eye tracking skills

Also, be sure to mention if your child has failed a vision screening at school or during a visit to his or her pediatrician.

Your eye doctor also will want to know about previous eye problems and treatments your child has had, such as surgeries and glasses or contact lens wear.

Inform your eye doctor about any family history of eye problems requiring vision correction, such as nearsightedness or farsightedness (refractive errors), lazy eye (strabismus/amblyopia) or eye diseases.

Eye Testing for Infants
Babies should be able to see as well as adults in terms of focusing ability, color vision and depth perception by 6 months of age. To assess whether your baby’s eyes are developing normally, the doctor typically will use the following tests:
• Tests of pupil responses evaluate whether the eye’s pupil opens and closes properly in the presence or absence of light.
• “Fixate and follow” testing determines whether your baby’s eyes are able to fixate on and follow an object such as a light as it moves. Infants should be able to fixate on an object soon after birth and follow an object by the time they are 3 months old.
• Preferential looking involves using cards that are blank on one side with stripes on the other side to attract the gaze of an infant to the stripes. In this way, vision capabilities can be assessed without the use of a typical eye chart.

Eye Testing for Preschool Children
Some parents are surprised to learn that preschool-age children do not need to know their letters in order to undergo certain eye tests, even when they are too young or too shy to verbalize. Some common eye tests used specifically for young children include:
• LEA Symbols for young children are similar to regular eye tests using charts with letters, except that special symbols in these tests include an apple, house, square and circle.
• Retinoscopy is a test that involves shining a light into the eye to observe the reflection from the back of the eye (retina). This test helps eye doctors determine your child’s eyeglass prescription.
• Random Dot Stereopsis testing uses special patterns of dots and 3-D glasses to measure how well your child’s eyes work together as a team.

In addition to nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism, common vision problems of schoolchildren include:

Lazy eye (amblyopia): Your eye doctor will want to rule out amblyopia, or “lazy eye,” which is decreased vision in one or both eyes without detectable anatomic damage. Unfortunately, amblyopia is not always correctable with eyeglasses or contact lenses and may require eye patching to strengthen the weaker eye.

Misalignment of eyes (strabismus): Crossed or misaligned eyes (strabismus) can have different causes, such as problems with muscle control in the affected eye or eyes. Strabismus is a common cause of amblyopia and should be treated early in childhood so vision and eye teaming skills can develop normally.

Inability to maintain eye alignment when viewing near objects (convergence insufficiency): Eye doctors will assess the ability of eyes to pull inward (convergence) and maintain proper alignment for comfortable reading.

Focusing ability, depth perception and color vision: The eye doctor also may test your child’s focusing (accommodation) ability. Depth perception or ability to gauge distances between objects also may be examined, and color blind tests may be used to assess your child’s color vision.

Anterior eye and eyelid health: Your eye doctor will closely examine your child’s eyelids to look for abnormal or infected eyelash follicles, bumps (papillae), discharge and swelling (edema). The doctor also will examine the cornea, iris, andlens to look for cloudiness (opacities) or other irregularities.

Vision Screening and Your Child’s Performance in School
Remember that appropriate vision testing at an early age is vital to insure your child has the visual skills he or she needs to perform well in school.
A child who is unable to see print or view a white(black)board can become easily frustrated, leading to poor academic performance. Some vision problems, such as lazy eye, are best treated if they are detected and corrected as early as possible while the child’s vision system is still developing.

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