mister man turns thirty.

what else can i say about this man on his thirtieth birthday that i haven’t already said?

he is the love of my life. he is my partner in crime. he is the father of my child. he makes me laugh every day. he is a provider and a caretaker, a nurturer and a protector. how i ended up sharing my life with this one never ceases to amaze me and inspire my prayers of gratitude.

and today he turns thirty.

cheers to you on this special birthday, and to many more. i love you Mister Man.

p.s. i didn’t know he could do a one-armed pushup until last night. BUT HE CAN. the man is incredible.

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a gluten-free birthday.

are you guys ready for yet another family birthday post? i know you’re up for it. yesterday marked the end of hooley family birthday season, while zauner family birthday season starts later this summer. woo! and if you’re keeping count, you’ll know that yesterday belonged to my brother patrick (but we call him patyick).


my baby brother turned twenty-five yesterday. you’ll notice i didn’t say little brother, because he has literally never been smaller than me. we are only thirteen or so months apart, and when he came home from the hospital, he was taller than me and weighed almost as much. even with that, i still thought he was my own personal babydoll. i was a one-year-old who thought she was going to take care of a giant infant herself. i called him “my baby” for a very long time, and would always ask if i could “hold my baby?” or “feed my baby?”, which i’m sure my mom and dad thought was hilarious.

i have a history of being extremely bossy towards patyick. like, THE bossiest. i think it stems from thinking i was his mother? that’s a theme i hope to dig into in therapy one day. i forced him into musical performances with me on the daily, and was a total micro-manager when it came to performance direction.

“no, you don’t come out yet!” “no, stop dancing like that, stand still and sing!” “no, keep that tutu on we are doing a ballet!”

i also really liked to play house with him, but my version of house was me being the mom, patyick being the dad, and since my dad went to work everyday, i would make patyick a plastic breakfast, then send him off to work in the closet. and only i knew when the workday was done. i think i once made him stay in there so long that he fell asleep on the vacuum. THE BOSSIEST!

that all ended when he realized he was bigger and stronger than me, although he never got me back for all the grief i put him through. which is why he is such a great brother. he just rolls with the punches and asks for another jellybean if things don’t go his way, like when he got four sisters instead of that brother he asked for. i love my brother a lot, he’s such a good man, and gets better and better every year. someday he will live in saint paul near us, and then life will get really fun! i hope twenty-five is the best birthday yet patyick, thanks for being my life-size babydoll for the last quarter century!


my brother recently found out he has a lot of food sensitivities. for the next year or so, he has to be on a gluten-free, potato-free, dairy-free, egg-free diet. yikes, right? don’t fret too much, he should be able to add back in dairy and eggs after a year if all goes well. but for the time-being, he is pretty limited to fruits, veggies, rice and proteins, which can get pretty boring. so i thought for his birthday i would make him some cupcakes that he could actually eat.

cupcake ingredients

this was my first foray into gluten-free baking, and these actually turned out WAY better than i thought they would. they are a little sticky (because of the rice flour, i think the sorghum flour would have a different effect), but taste delicious! and come on, these are for sure the healthiest cupcakes you’ve ever heard of, right? i KNOW!


cupcakes 2

cupcakes 3

cupcakes 4

gluten/egg/dairy-free vanilla cupcakes with mocha frosting (slightly modified from this recipe on gluten free goddess)

for the cupcakes:

  • 1 C. white rice flour (the original recipe called for sorghum or brown rice flour)
  • 1 C. tapioca starch
  • 1 C. organic cane sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. gluten-free cornstarch (the original recipe called for xanthan gum) (what?)
  • 1 C. vanilla coconut milk
  • 1/2 mashed banana + 1/4 tsp. baking powder (to replace 1/4 C. or 1 egg)
  • 3 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
  • 1 Tbsp. bourbon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. lemon juice

preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. whisk flour, starch, and dry ingredients together. add in non-dairy milk, banana mixture, coconut oil, vanilla, lemon juice. beat until smooth, but don’t overbeat. use an ice cream spoon to spoon into cupcake tins. smooth tops with a wet finger. bake until firm and dome-shaped, which in my crappy oven took about 23 minutes, but could be anywhere between 18-25. let cool for about a minute, then transfer to a cooling rack so the cupcakes don’t steam on the bottom.

frosted cupcakes

for the frosting:

  • 2 C. powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 2-3 Tbsp shortening (the original recipe called for vegan butter, but you could use regular butter too if you don’t need dairy-free)
  • 2 oz. cold coffee
  • 1 tsp. bourbon vanilla

starting with a small amount of coffee, beat in the sugar, cocoa, shortening, and vanilla. add more liquid if needed. beat for about two minutes, until smooth. add more sugar if you need to stiffen it. chill the frosting for about an hour before use.

don’t frost until you are ready to serve. if you need to frost a bit beforehand, pop the frosted cupcakes in the freezer for a while before taking them out and allowing them to warm up for about ten minutes.

frosted cupcakes


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happy birthday to my mama hools.

get the kleenex mama. for anyone that knows her, you know why i say that.

for any of you that don’t know her, i’m sorry for you. and i’d like you to meet my mom. she turned 50 today, and even though she is still in maui with my dad and i’m a little mad at her for that, i think she still deserves a happy birthday post, don’t you?


you know her as the mastermind behind many of the delicious recipes i post on here, as well as the inspiration for all of my deepest wishes to better myself. and i’m going to need all the inspiration i can get if i ever hope to be as awesome a lady as she is.

my mom is not only a gorgeous lady on the outside (if you remember, she and my dad have incredible anti-aging abilities), she is made of pure gold on the inside.

are you sick? she will be the first one to bring you a meal.

are you hurt? she knows exactly what is wrong and if you need the ER or just a couple of advil and a heating pack.

are you just having lots of feelings in the grocery store and need someone to talk to? she’s your listening ear.

mom and me

if you can’t tell from those things i just wrote about her, then let me spell it out for you. mama hools has always dedicated her life to taking care of others, and everyone who has been touched by her love over the past 50 years is better for having known her.

all of this to say, she is the best mom i could ever have asked for. she raised five pretty awesome kids who she taught to be very functional adults. she is the reason i have empathy, the reason i can laugh at myself, the reason i have self-confidence. she has been my support for my whole life and almost half of her own. my mom is my role model for how to be a good wife, a good mother, and a good person.

mom and joe

so happy birthday to a lady who deserves a living sainthood. i hope your next 50 years are even better than the first, and i want to thank you for setting the bar so high for all of us! i love you so much more than coffee.

mom and me

you can put down the kleenex now mama.

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weekend goodness.

this is mostly the only photo i found from my birthday bowling extravaganza on friday night, courtesy of miss lauren:

mostly because i get all jumpy and wacky and needing to TALK TO EVERYONE ALL AT ONCE when i get in a group of people i like a whole lot. but bowling at memory lanes was amazing! they were so nice to us there, they got us a good deal and gave us extra beer. which really helped my night along….yea, i may or may not have overimbibed. i don’t know you guys, i’m not my mother’s daughter. all i know is that fern’s served us a wee bit too late into the night and i woke up on saturday feeling a lot like Mister Man said i looked. so, beautiful. because he would never tell me i looked rough. never!

when i finally felt up for getting off my couch, MM and i took a little walk around our little neighborhood in cathedral hill. i grabbed my camera so you guys could see how cute it is where i live. i love it here. if only we could afford to buy a decent house in this zip code. i think we may have to wait for retirement.

mister man

there are tons of little shops up and down our street, restaurants, salons, bars. you can walk to pretty much everything. and i especially don’t mind walking when that cute guy up there walks with me.



sometimes we like to look at houses on summit avenue and imagine what they look like inside. i say houses, but you should imagine mansions. MM has some pretty grand plans for a couple of them.

that wooden statue of a lady creeps me out every time i pass by. i just don’t get it.

mister man and me

i finally got a photo of us that doesn’t make us look too special! i treasure these.

look at those skillz. i love this little rink on the corner. it’s one of those charming places in the city that just makes you happy to be here.


damn he’s a good subject to shoot. so is my husband. (baha! jokes. i am so good at them.)

st. paul


this walk was much-needed. i got a little inspiration from getting out around my stomping grounds, and some good fresh air. winter here just feels like you’re always inside or rushing from place to place before you freeze. so any chance you can spend more than five minutes out and about is cherished.

my in-laws made me birthday brunch on sunday. i have to tell you guys, birthday season around my family is almost more dangerous than holiday season. so much good food, so much. and both of our parents are fabulous cooks. i’m bummed that i didn’t get any photos of my birthday meals. i was spoiled. and i’m feeling heavier. they were so good!

the rest of sunday was spent doing homework, organizing finances (student loans, woof), and meal planning for the week. i have a really great recipe i made tonight that i’m sharing tomorrow! it was really productive. i even went grocery shopping while my main man went to hockey. and i’ll just leave you all with this little gem that pretty much sums it all up. happy monday everyone!

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doesn’t that just sound like a boring number? that’s how old i turned today. i’ve never felt like i was getting old before, but i feel like this birthday might be the one where that feeling starts creeping its way in. and yes, i can already hear a lot of you telling me, “26 is not old! quit your whining!” and yes, i know that. i think it’s more that this is the first year that i feel that time is hurtling forward like a rocket, and i’m not altogether sure how to slow it down.

but here’s the thing. i don’t know if i should ask it to please slow down or scream that it should go even faster. because i think that 26 is going to be one of the best years ever. Mister Man and i are going to start looking for a house to buy pretty quick here. and contrary to both of our initial plans, we might be looking in the city for the first casa de zauner, which makes us both very happy for now. because i know someday we will move away from this wonderful place, but for a while at least, i can keep being a city girl.

greasy hair camouflage

i might even have the chance to be a city mom. you see, this is also the year that we are starting to think about adding the first baby z to the clan. this is no secret to anyone that knows me or has ever had a conversation with me that lasted longer than ten minutes. i love babies. and i definitely want one lots some of my own. and i think that the mister and i have managed to come to a consensus on when to expand this little family of ours. he loves babies too, he just doesn’t know how much yet.

tonight for my birthday dinner we made a pizza on our pizza stone for the first time. this is what it looked like:

ugly pizza

it was one of the ugliest things i’ve ever laid eyes on. but it was so delicious. and i decided it was a metaphor for my 26th year. i might not like it on the outside, but it doesn’t matter how it looks to me, it is all going to be so good.

plus, my husband’s last birthday surprise for me was a pack of gorgeous, metallic sharpie markers. and who wouldn’t look forward to a year of writing with these babies?



i’m sure there’s a metaphor here too, but i think my capacity is one per day.

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