Friday, August 31, 2012

Dairy Free Caramels, Caramel Sauce & Milk Duds! OH YEAH!


My hubby is allergic to dairy. I have mentioned this before. Well, I am a soul that enjoys a good challenge, so while boasting about my abilities to figure out non-dairy recipes for things that my hubby used to love my son offered up this challenge: "Mom, I will not believe that you are the master of all things non-dairy (Ok, maybe not his exact words, but close) until you can figure out a way to make dairy free Milk Duds!"
This little turkey! Surely he thought of the most milky pleasure my husband had ever indulged in and tossed it out to me as an impossibility....but alas young one, don't you know that your mother thrives when faced with such a challenge?! 

Jakob, Ladies and Gentlemen, my dear previously Milk Dud deprived husband....allow me to introduce to you not one, but THREE heavenly creations! I give you......


All divine! Caramel as good as the original milky version...with just the slightest coconut flavor to push it over the edge of amazing! ENJOY! 

(and now I shall go and find my humility once again! I let this one get to my head a little!) 

Alright, before we get too far into this, please make sure you have an accurately working candy thermometer, wax paper and I highly suggest parchment paper....cause it is amazing! 

The ingredients you will need for the caramel portion are: 
*1 cup Dairy Free Butter - Unsalted. (I used Best Life Butter)
*1 cup Light Corn Syrup
*14 oz of full fat Coconut Milk (I like Taste of Thai best)
*2 1/4 cup Brown Sugar
*1 tsp. Vanilla

You will also need around 1 hour cooking time, plus time for wrapping caramels. This recipe should make about 50 caramels, depending on size. 

Alrighty! Let's get started! 

  • Cut butter into smaller, even sized pieces, so it melts evenly. Melt over low heat. 

  • Carefully add sugar to the center of the pan. You don't want the sugar to crystallize on the side of the pan, or your caramel will turn out grainy. Not good. Just stir it in until it is well mixed, like this.....

  • Now stir in your Corn Syrup. 

  • Then your Coconut Milk. (Coconut will separate if refrigerated. That is great for recipes where you want to make a whipping cream out of Coconut Milk, or if you need the solids. For this, I just pull a can off the pantry of the shelf, shake it to be sure the solids and milk/water are combined and use it all.)

  • Cook and stir on medium heat. After one minute at medium, raise the temp to medium high until it starts to boil. You are only gradually raising the heat because you don't want to "shock" the candy.
  • Continue stirring. As you stir and as it comes closer to boiling the milk and butter will begin to blend. It should be blended or close to once it starts boiling. Be sure to keep with the stirring! It will get there! 

  • Once it starts to boil clip your candy thermometer onto the side of your pan. MAKE SURE the thermometer isn't touching the bottom of your pan. 
  • Reduce your heat to medium, and adjust as necessary to keep an even rolling boil. 
  • KEEP STIRRING! If you don't stir your caramel enough the butter will separate and you will end up with a greasy batch of caramel! Caramel takes a lot of time and a lot of work, but it is SO worth it in the end! 

  • Temperature does not raise at a steady rate! Watch carefully! 
  • When your thermometer reaches 230-233 degrees if want to pull any caramel out for caramel dip or sauce for ice-cream, apple crisp, or whatever, this would be the time to do it.  
  • At 234-240 degrees, caramel is ready for apples, if you want to go that route....or any other sort of thing you might want to dip for a caramel coating.

  • When the thermometer reaches 244 degrees (which will take about 30-45 min or so, from the start), remove the caramel from heat. 
  • Stir in Vanilla.

  • Pour Caramel onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. 
  • Non-Dairy butter separates different from normal butter. This caused a different look to my caramel when I poured it out. No worries! It evened out and looked and tasted fantastic!
  • Cool for several hours! 

  • Once it is cooled you can use a knife, scissors, pizza cutter or whatever you fancy, to cut the caramels into pieces. Wrap in wax paper. 


  • Oh thank heavens for Ghiradelli semi- sweet chocolate chips! They are dairy free....did you know? Yes, they are semi sweet, so you don't get the same milk chocolate sweetness, but for a man deprived of all things chocolate until the discovery of these treasures, it was manna from heaven! Besides, the sweetness of the caramel counters the semi sweetness of the chocolate! They are delish! 
  • I melted a bag of these chips in a bowl in the microwave. Remember to melt for 30 seconds and stir, then melt and stir, until they are totally melted. 
  • I dropped each piece into the chocolate and picked it back up using 2 spoons. If you can find a better way, go for it! Just be sure to work fast! The caramels will melt in the hot chocolate and the chocolate will gradually get harder. 
  • Place each piece on a parchment lined cookie sheet and place in the fridge to harden the chocolate. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Letters to English Teachers

The other day Jake came home with a homework assignment for me. His English teacher wanted me to write her a letter about Jake. She wanted to get to know him a little more. She said it was to be in "1 million words or less". LOL! That's a lot of words....even for me! :) Here is what I wrote about my Jake......

Mrs. Otto,

Jake is hands down one of the best, sweetest, smartest kids I know!

Jake is the first child in our family. When he was younger he was ALL OVER THE PLACE! Full of energy and curiosity, it was hard to keep up with him! As he has grown, it has been amazing to see the young man he is becoming.

I would have to say that the event that most contributes to making Jake who he is, was the birth of his twin, and only, siblings. Mallory and Dawson were born when Jake was 5. They were born 3 ½ months early. We lived in Idaho at the time, so Jake lived there with Dad, and Mallory as soon as she was released from the hospital at 3 months. I lived in Utah at Primary Children’s Hospital for 8 months, until Dawson was released. I missed all of Jake’s kindergarten year. That was so hard for both of us!

As soon as the twins were born Jake became a big brother to two kids that required a lot of extra help and therapy. He has always been so sweet and treasures both of them so much!

Dawson and Jake had a particularly strong bond. They shared a room and Jake was constantly playing with or reading to him. Dawson ended up in the hospital almost all of his 4 ½ years. He had over 40 surgeries, including 27 brain surgeries. He couldn’t see much, but he could tell who was around by their energy. It was really something to see. Jake and Dawson were best buddies. Dawson didn’t say much, but he had mastered “Bubba”, which is what he called Jake. Jake was the best helper! He helped with therapies, massages and playing with Dawson. He also loved to push him around in his wheelchair and make him laugh by tickling him or making funny sounds.

Two and a half years ago Dawson’s little body was tired. He had lived 4 ½ years, but that was all he could do. He passed away, with Jake by his side, on January 5, 2010. This was obviously a very life changing event for Jake. He misses Dawson so much, but he knows Dawson watches over him all of the time now, and that they will be together again! It has been amazing to see Jake experience things that have changed his life so much. He has the insight and spirituality of a 40 year old. He is such an amazing kid!

Jake’s mission in caring for a sibling with special needs has not ended. Mallory has residual brain damage from her early birth, but she is, with much thanks to Jake, really making miraculous advancements! She is in 1st grade this year. She reads like a 4th grader, but struggles a bit socially. Jake is constantly including her in everything he does. When he has friends over, they know that Jake will make sure she is included in whatever they are doing. They are the best of friends! His patience and love for teaching her things and playing with her speaks a lot about the kid that he is! It is really something amazing to watch!

Jake is very smart! He has an amazing ability to learn and absorb things he is taught. He does have a tendency to worry a bit much about perfection, but it really is him trying to do his very best.

One thing that would be great this year is to really push him on his creativity. He is a creative story teller. We really had a great experience with his 6th grade teacher bringing that out in him. I would love to see that taken even further!

Thank you so much for everything Mrs. Otto! Jake is thrilled to have you as his teacher! He tells me how nice you are and that he really likes it at Lincoln Academy! We look forward to a lot of good changes over the next few years! Please forgive me for coming painfully short of 1 million words! J However, perhaps a couple of pictures will make up the difference!

Thanks for everything!
Amy Lindstrom

The picture above was included, along with this one.......

Wednesday, August 29, 2012



Oh, I think I am in love! So clean! So fresh! So simple! It needed to happen! And I am glad it did!
Not all of the links are totally done or working. There are only so many hours in a day! However, they will be soon enough, my pretties!

So, why don't ya take a sec and help a girl out. See the button link to the right? ---------->

Click on it....when you are done reading this, of course!

Then, I will give you each a million bucks if you share it, or update your old one with it. A million bucks! Ok, not really! Please refer to yesterday's post about us being starving college students now. Shoot! I wish I could, but how 'bout instead I just give you all my love and gratitude! That's better anyway, right?! Right?!

If you see something that needs a little tweeking, don't be afraid to shoot me a message and tell me so. I am in the fixin' mood! Who knew the behind the scenes of this thing was such a tangled mess?! Sheesh! I guess that is what happens when you start blogging back when you had to fix everything through html....and you don't know html, but you can fake it a little here and there! Life is so much easier nowadays in blogger land, and I am thankful for that! :)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Back To School.....for the Old Man!

Oh, does this picture ever make me laugh! 

Since March my hubby has been voluntarily out of a job. I'm not going to lie, I have enjoyed the livin' day lights out of it! There is not another soul on earth that I would rather spend every second with! I never get tired of him and we always find something fun to do! It has been awesome, to say the least. And now, it is time to get on with it, I suppose.

Ryan has done Heating & Air Conditioning his whole life. His Dad started a company when Ry was young, and so he started learning the trade early on. After we got married he became the Residential Manager in the company. However, he still struggled. He didn't have a passion for what he was doing for work, and since that is where you spend such a huge chunk of time, it's kind of important to be happy with least that is how we felt. So, he decided to move on, which resulted in the offer to run the Harris-Dudley branch in Sun Valley, ID.

Back again! Out of one, and right back into another. However, neither of us can deny that this was the right move for us. The Lord wanted us in Idaho and that is right where we went. Every person, every experience, especially having the twins while we were all was just as it should have been. We met friends that had a profound impact on our lives, friends that we will love forever! Ry ended up becoming an equal partner in the ownership of that company. They had a good company! They were successful! One of the best...if not the best in the Valley. Ryan was designing systems for 18,000 sq. ft. homes and doing work for Tom Hanks, Arnold Schwarzenegger and other uppity ups. He was providing well for our family and we were able to do whatever was required to take care of Dawson's needs. Including taking the time off work or working from his home office so he could care for Jake & Mal while Daws and I stayed in the hospital. All seemed just right.....except it wasn't.

I totally believe that each of us was sent to the earth with a "To-Do" list, of sorts. We have missions to perform, things that only we can do. When we are living our lives in a way that fulfills those purposes, then we experience joy and fulfillment. We have peace. When we are not, we may be busy, but we will still feel a lack of joy, peace and fulfillment in our lives. 

Ryan was experiencing just that. The lack! Ry has never been one to define success by money or position. Success comes for him through feeling. Feelings of fulfillment, joy, peace....all of those feelings only come when we are living our lives inline with what our spirit knows we have been sent to do.

After Dawson died the feeling of that part of our lives coming to an end started becoming stronger and stronger. We didn't know what would happen next, but we knew the Lord's will would be done. Ry worked hard. The area we lived in started to feel the weight of the economy in the area suddenly taking a nose dive. Remember when we lived in our RV? We were trying to find a way to heal our hearts by having an adventure together. The Lord knew that this was a step in helping us financially for our next big move, the one we didn't see coming, but we could feel something was going to change. And change it did! With 10 days notice Ry and his partners decided that they weren't willing to go into a hole trying to save the company. We were even more anxious to move to the next step in our lives, and suddenly the opportunity was in front of our faces. The down fall was that we only had 10 days to pack up and move back to Utah. We barely had a chance to say goodbye to the friends we loved so much!

Once we got to Utah, we tried to find the next step for us. Was this the window to getting Ryan out of HVAC and on to his place in this world. Well....not yet!

Ry was asked to start a solar division for a friends company, and so he did that until we could sort out what to do next. We just kept feeling that there was purpose in the timing. And there was. He had a job, we found the house that was the right fit for us, and we were able to buy it. Then Ryan was givin the opportunity to go work in North Dakota for my sis-in-laws Dad. One week gone, 3 weeks home. January-March. It was a sweet arrangement. Then March came. We had enough in savings to take a step back, live on it, and sort out our next steps.

The last several months have been a lesson in faith for us. Each week we went to the temple, prayed constantly and sought the Lords will in our lives. We felt that was the best way to help us find the right path and opportunities. All along, every time a job was offered or a little stress was felt, we were met with a reassuring, "not yet, just be still". Occasionally we would have a strong feeling to do something, like build a music studio in our garage. We don't know why for sure, other than it gives Ryan a place to record, write & play music and for me to sing at the top of my lungs without disturbing a soul....and I like that! :) When we would start to worry, we would go to the temple and again, "not yet, just be still".

And then it came.....SCHOOL! Ryan had a career planned for him, since he was 11! He knows all there is to know about the industry. College wasn't something he chose to do. It is something he regrets so terribly. Not anymore! As of yesterday, Ryan started attending his first classes at UVU, with hopes to quickly transfer to BYU. We feel very good about him getting a degree in Mechanical Engineering, as of right now. He is wicked smart and totally could do anything he ever wanted to do. For now, this feels good, and we feel that as he starts in that direction either other doorways will open, or this will remain confirmed.

And so it starts! Ryan, Jake & Mal in school. Ryan at nights, for now, so he can find something to do, or start a business that will provide for our family in the meantime. Funny thing is that just the other day I felt a strong prompting to start school this January! Can you imagine?! 2 College Students with 2 kids in school! I laugh when I think about it, but it makes me excited to think about what lessons we all, and most importantly our kids, will learn through this experience! Certainly college will play a huge roll in their lives!

But beyond all of that I have to say, I have 100% respect and admiration for Ryan! He has my complete support, come what may! How could I not support him?! He is a 38 year old man, willing to walk away from a comfortable living to pursue his mission and purpose. Not everyone's mission is directly related to what they do for a living. Ryan's is. We know this, because of his Patriarchal Blessing...and from what we feel! I have mad respect for his willingness to sacrifice and become the OLD MAN on campus! THAT is living with Eternal Perspective! THAT is LifeUncommon! And I love him for it! We may be starving college students, and life might get a little crazy, but it will be yet another adventure under the belt of the Lindstrom Family! No doubt about it! 

So buckle up my friends! You are along for this ride! Wouldn't it be interesting to be able to flash forward 10 years to see what your life looks like?! Well, it would, but since it can't happen, we are just going to trust and enjoy it as much as possible!


Monday, August 27, 2012

It Is Time For My Return.....

Have you missed me?! :) 

Maybe not. 

Man, I have had a lot on my mind lately. A few months ago, when I went on hiatus, I felt like I was in a slump. Blogging slump, life slump, etc. Since this blog is a lot about the little thoughts running through my mind, with a blah sort of mind, it was getting hard to find the drive to sit and blog. I needed a change. So change we did. Over the last few months I tried to decide if I was going to come back to blogging or not. But guess what.....I MISSED IT! So, over the last couple of weeks as ideas for posts have finally started running through my head again, I decided that now was the time! I'M BACK!  

We started blogging over 7 years ago, when our twins were born. All of that went down on the now named "Our Life Uncommon" blog. (Link Above) I don't think there will be a moment in my life when I am not grateful that we did that! Personal moments were shared, some were not, but as I read back through those posts I am reminded of both and the blessings that came to our family through that entire chapter of our lives. Priceless pictures and moments with Dawson, pictures and moments that remind us of the miracle that Mallory is. Pictures and moments that remind me just how strong and great our Jake's spirit is, to be able to endure such things as such a young boy, and then, pictures and moments of Ry and I enjoying, enduring, being strengthened through and basking in every experience we feel privileged to have been given! Blogs are a wonderful thing! 

Over the last couple of weeks I have thought about the origination of this blog. The idea was based on feelings I had in connection with what I had personally learned being Dawson's mom. I had experienced something that forever changed my perspective, and I wanted others to feel the same hope. Weeks before Dawson died this blog was launched. I remember an article in the Magic Valley Times News about our family came out just after the blog launched. I remember feeling so overwhelmed and proud of Dawson and the impact he was having on so many lives because of the sacrifice he was making. I won't go into too much personal detail here, but I had a very special experience with him that left me without doubt that this blog was very much something that he intended for me to do. Having this blog as a venting place for me to express and grow by the things that inspire me, by internalizing the things I am learning all of the time, or because of the countless emails and endless love and support I have received from all of wide, which is incredibly humbling....these are things that have been a blessing in my life. Months ago I received an email from a reader in Ukraine. She stumbled upon this blog while looking for a craft to do. She sent me an email expressing her testimony to me about how the Lord answered her prayers through a post I had done, and shared some feelings about it. I was overwhelmed by it. How else would I, little ole Amy, have the opportunity to share my testimony and passion with this woman in Ukraine?! The internet is an amazing thing! So many times since then I have received emails from people whose lives have been touched by Dawson's. It is simply amazing to me! As I have thought about this over the last little while, I couldn't help but think that the part about this blog that I am most grateful for would have to be the opportunity I have to be able to show my gratitude to the Lord for all He has given me...and for the amazing gift of being Jake, Dawson & Mallory's mom and Ryan's wife! If He asks me to bare my testimony and take opportunities to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others, then I will, with all of the energy of my soul! I have a fire in my gut to help others find hope through gaining an eternal perspective, and I guess that is what YourLifeUncommon is all about! It is about us living according to Eternal Perspective! We make different choices and follow different paths, we live far outside of the "normal" box society would like us to live within, when we live with Eternity in mind! THIS is exactly what brought me back! The fire I feel about this needs an, there is a whole lot of craziness going on in the Lindstrom home that needs expression! :) 

What I feel is that I am back to living with, it seems that I do a lot more fun things when I have somewhere to blog about it! :) 

So, big changes lie in store for our family! Going back to school...not for just the kids, and a whole lot of craziness! It should be a lot of fun! I will, on occasion, continue to post on "Our Life Uncommon", but I think that a lot of our family activities and goings on will make there home here on this blog! And perhaps tomorrow I shall start by telling you about the changes in our family, which included a sort of retirement and now a "Back To School" 38 yr old....and soon to be 35 yr old! We might be totally insane! :) 

Anyway, it's good to be back! And if you hung on through this post....THANKS and if you hung on through my months of MIA.....BLESS YOU! I hope that you enjoy the changes ahead! :) Love you all! 


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