2017 – The Year of Monsters

I think I will tell you the story of my butterfly.

I have a butterfly tattooed on my right arm immediately above my elbow. Under the butterfly is the code “M33.02” – it’s the ICD10 code for Juvenile Dermatomyositis. For 18 years I hated those two words, and still to this day I tremble at any words used to describe it: “sick” “disease” or “illness” because those were the adjectives used to describe my childhood. I didn’t get the fun, bright, and “normal” adjectives such as: adventurous, joyful and whimsical. No, I was none of those things because Dermatomyositis overshadowed anything good or bad in my life. I was never a little girl that had an autoimmune disease, but rather I was always the disease that became the little girl. Everything I was or was ever going to be was erased for me at the age of nine, and I have spent the last 18 years trying to figure out just who I am. Who am I if you take away the fact that I have a diagnosis only 1 in every 5 million children are blessed with? If I magically was cured who exactly would I be? How do I introduce myself? How would my life have turned out without the disabilities that I have and the challenges I have faced? What other identity do I really have other than “the sick girl”?

No, I didn’t do my math wrong, though it would not have surprised me if I had. Nearly 27-year-old me minus nine-year-old me = 18 years. My math is correct because this past year I have found my center. I have achieved a comfort I feel everyone strives to find. 18 years, that’s the time frame it takes to build an “adult”, a whole other person, and a whole other life. I spent 18 years of my life sick, embarrassed, ashamed, but more than anything I have felt anger. I have felt anger that I have never been able to capture into words. Anger so hot you can feel it in your bones, when your temples throb, your hands get so hot you think they may burn, and that tearing feeling straight down your clavicle. I have been so angry at times I truly thought my chest may crack in half, and all that would be left of me would be my hands clenched together and a torn open chest. Anger has lived inside this broken body for as long as I can remember. I don’t remember a time earlier than March of this year that I didn’t feel angry at the world, my body, and my life. Anger was a cloak I wore tight around my life to protect me from the sadness.

I live with a condition that never leaves. Myositis is my shadow, she is the pulse in my wrist, and the blood in these veins. If I live then she must choose to live along side me. I found my center this year by accepting my life with a chronic disease. You would think it wouldn’t take so long to find peace. You would think someone could never grieve for a life they never got to live. And, I am sure you would think it’s nothing but foolish to be angry over something someone can’t control, like their body. Yet, I was. I have never ever wanted to walk hand in hand with the monster that calls my body her home, but what I have found is that monsters can be beautiful, too. 2017 was a shift of perspective for me, a change in direction, a clear outlook, and a whole lot of desperately needed self-love.

I am writing a book. Did you know that? I began writing everything in life and about my life, again in March. The first chapter I wrote over during my new mission to complete one successful draft of a book by the end of 2017 was the chapter about removing my portacath. I had my portacath for over 10 years. It was a device I needed because, I was a “sick girl”. I would go every month to have it “flushed” with saline with all the other sick people. The port resided in my chest just under my left collarbone. Implanted in me like a collar that read “diseased girl”. I forgot the weight of it until the day it was finally dug out of my chest. A simple procedure turned life threatening, and if you didn’t get to hear the story maybe one day you will, but I’ll provide you with excerpt from the chapter that started this year for me in a positive light.

“Finally, I was instructed, again, to breathe in and hold, and I did. I then pushed out the air trapped in my lungs like it was all I had left to give in the world and it happened; the sound of plastic tubing running across paper. I cried, voluntarily this time. I was free. Right then and there I decided to get rid of anything in my life that wasn’t useful, joyful or beautiful.”

My life changed forever that day. The scariest day of my life began the first day of my new one. I wish I could start calling that day my birthday. March 10th, the day that device was torn out and the catheter later fished out of my heart was the day I was reborn. I cried all the way home because I was extremely high off drugs, in a tremendous amount of pain, but I was free. The weight of something like that and the symbolism it had greatly affected my life, and I never noticed how influenced I was by a silly thing until it no longer resided within me. Lying on that operating table, tears running down my face, and two nurses holding gauze to my neck so I didn’t bleed out; that was my jumping off point. I was brand new. I got to keep all my scars, all the hurdles, the experiences, and the pain, but I got a new chance to love myself.

I have selfishly loved myself this year. I have enclosed myself in rooms that were quiet so that I could ignore my husband and dogs, because I needed to write. I have maintained a blog about the things I love to cook and eat. I take time every night to visualize the things I want in life and plan out my next steps. I buy things that I want because I work extremely hard. I am selfishly in love with myself. I am proud of myself and my accomplishments, and you know what? It’s okay. All of those things are okay. I have found this beautiful balance between speaking abut my disease, living with her, embracing my struggles, but still I am solely just me. I am me before I am anything else. I am Krystal, and I choose to love and live in unison with my autoimmune disease, and not the other way around. I have quite literally been reborn, and I am so excited for 2018.

I am now the butterfly. My scars are all still here but I am telling you my skin feels brand new. My broken joints still don’t work but my body has been given the gift of life. This balance, this center, this energy, and this girl have been a long time coming. I am actively choosing a life I felt was buried a long time ago. I choose to walk with the monster that calls my amazing and resilient body her home, because if you let your monsters into the light they no longer have the power. Love your monsters intensely. Be the butterfly.


Thanksgiving Day Macaroni & Cheese

I make macaroni and cheese……like……a lot. An unholy amount of mac’ n cheese has been put into this body. I didn’t plan to make mac’ n cheese for Thanksgiving this year, but when the night came to make my scalloped potatoes I just couldn’t resist making one more thing. Over achiever much? The sauce for my scalloped potatoes was a base for mac’ n cheese so how could I really say no? This is what I refer to as “last minute mac” because I used penne in replacement for elbow noodles, because, hello, I didn’t know I was making this so of course I didn’t have the right pasta on hand. I threw in some spicy Jimmy Dean sausage because Kyle is constantly bitching at me that the freezer is too full….so I used something from the freezer, probably the smallest item in the freezer, but still counts!

1 box of penne pasta (or elbow if you’re smarter than me)
3 Cloves of Garlic (minced)
3 Cups of Whole Fat Milk
3 Cups of a three cheese blend or the cheese of your choosing
1 Stalk of green onion diced
1 package of Jimmy Dean Spicy Sausage
1 Cup of Panko
4 Tablespoons of Kerrygold Butter
4 Tablespoons of Flour

How To
Don’t be an idiot like me and wait until you are done with the sauce to boil the pasta – you should do that first. Remember the pasta trick with the water – your pasta water should look and taste like ocean water – more flavor!

I fried up my sausage next, and once it was completely cooked through I added the garlic and onions. Next, I added the butter (all in the same pan, sausage fat and all, this is Thanksgiving!), let the butter melt down over medium heat, and then add in the flour. Cook this mixture for about 3-4 minutes, and then stir in the milk and begin to whisk. Whisk until your arm falls off OR you no longer have lumps of flour/butter. Cheese, cheese, and more cheese, but only add one cup at a time and wait until it’s melted down into the sauce to add the next. At this point I also take a small ladle of the pasta water and place it into the cheese sauce. The starches released from the pasta while it bowls will help the sauce really adhere to the noodles.

Butter a casserole dish and mix your sauce and noodles all together. I bake this at 400 covered for 30 minutes, and then take it out, place panko all over the top, drizzle the panko with olive oil, and then broil for 5 minutes. Delicious! Last minute mac!


Thanksgiving Day Scalloped Potatoes

The most decadent recipe I have made to date, I believe. Now, I have talked about these potatoes in several Sunday videos, and last Friday Mikaela and I actually made them over live stream. What a beautiful disaster that video was. I encourage you to go watch it before making these.

The biggest debate during thanksgiving was: are scalloped potatoes the same as au gratin potatoes, and the official answer is no. “Scalloped potatoes are a milk based potato dish. The potatoes are usually sliced very thinly although what technically makes it ‘scalloped‘ is the milk base. A gratin on the other hand is any dish that is topped with cheese and/or bread crumbs and layered with bits of butter and is baked until brown and crispy.” – Thank you Google. I did however make au gratin macaroni and cheese which I will be posting next. On to the potatoes!

3lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes (Slice these about 1/8 of an inch)
3 Cloves of Garlic (minced)
3 Cups of Whole Fat Milk
3 Cups of a three cheese blend or the cheese of your choosing
1 Stalk of green onion diced
Pancetta or substitute bacon, but I love pancetta for the holidays. Pancetta and bacon are extremely similar as they are both cured pork belly, but pancetta is typically sliced paper thin, and gives off a less salty taste.
4 Tablespoons of Kerrygold Butter
4 Tablespoons of Flour

How To

About the potatoes, I sliced mine long ways as I am sure you can tell in the photo. Do not ask me why as it is just what I decided to do in the moment. I also sliced my potatoes by hand to give a more rustic approach. I slice my potatoes first because let’s be honest it is the worst part of making this dish, and then I place them in a bowl of ice water to prevent discoloration.

Cube and fry up that pancetta baby. We want it to be nice and crispy! Save the fat though!

Remove the crispy pancetta, and throw in your garlic and green onions. Let them cook for about two minutes to just wake those babies up.

Now, the roux. We have been over a roux a many times on WWB. Place your butter in a medium heat pan, and a dash of olive oil to prevent the butter from burning. Wait until your butter is nice and bubbly to throw in the flour. Let the flour and butter get along for 3-4 minutes or until it no longer smells like raw flour. Pour in your milk and immediately begin to whisk. Bring this to a simmer once there are no longer clumps of flour/butter. Your sauce should coat the back of a spoon when you test the thickness. Turn down the heat to low, and add your cheese one cup at a time and whisk whisk whiiisk. S&P for taste, and the sauce is complete!

Oven should be at 400 degrees.

I layer this dish like lasagna. I ladle a spoonful of sauce on the bottom of a buttered casserole dish, layer of potatoes, layer of pancetta/green onion/garlic mixture, and repeat until you just can’t fit anymore potatoes in there! I cover this with foil, place it on a cookie sheet because it will boil over, and let it bake for 45minutes, then remove the foil and let bake for 15 minutes, and last but not least add a fine layer of cheese and broil for 5 minutes.



Sweet Dozen Cones – Historic Folsom Ice Cream Shop


Save the drama for your mama and go get some ice cream! I am a firm believer in if ice cream doesn’t make someone happy nothing will.

Sweet Dozen Cones opened up on Sutter Street in Historic Folsom about a week ago, but probably two by the time I publish this, and BOY has it been a mad house! Crazy busy! Crazy unique! Crazy fun!

Sweet Dozen Cones
Donut (Chimney) Cones
807 Sutter Street
Folsom, CA
Hours: Wed-Sun 12-8pm

This is a family owned and operated business, and when they say that – they mean it. Kyle and I went on a Saturday 4 minutes after they opened and both owners were there working and getting ready for the day. Want to know why their product is flying off shelves? One: it’s delicious. Two: they don’t just make ice cream and stick it in a pre-made cone. Their cones or what they call “Chimneys” which is sweet pastry that they then bake rotisserie style until golden brown is unique to Folsom. The very friendly lady making them while we waited for our order explained the entire process to me, because when you watch them make the cones it definitely does not look like they are frying them, but the finished product is crispy and flaky as if it were fried! I later looked up the technique that is very popular in Europe, and Hungary which the woman told me as well. How cool is that? Folsom got a culture lesson today, y’all. Chimneys (known as Kürtőskalács in Hungarian or Trdelník in Czech) are delicious and unique, bread-like freshly baked Hungarian pastries, named after their hollow, cylindrical shape. They have a satisfying crunch on the outside and a soft, fluffy dough on the inside. THIS is what your ice cream goes into you guys!

Ice cream…..it’s not really ice cream but gelato. Gelato is better than ice cream in my humble opinion. Really, the only difference is that gelato uses less cream, more milk, and usually more sugar, BUT it has less fat than ice cream. I obviously do not know their personal recipe at Sweet Dozen nor do I think they would share it but the gelato is creamy, holds it shape, and my favorite part – not overly sweet! Remember, you are getting fun ingredients with your cone so you wouldn’t want an overly sweet base.

Now, there are other things to eat here, but who really cares about those? It’s all about the cones. I joke. Kind of. They have a wide variety of pastries, you can get cones just by themselves loaded with cream cheese, nutella, peanut butter, etc. They have drinks and coffee and plenty of napkins. Now, the important part – what did we eat?


I ordered the Cereal n’ Milk with Fruity Pebbles (they also had corn flakes and cinnamon toast…..my next one to try) and Kyle ordered the MVB – Maple Vanilla Bacon.


I am not a big sweets eater, but I had been determined to get on of these bad boys since the night before. We drove around and could NOT find parking, so we left, was I bummed? YUP. Did I have a fit that I was going to have to come back? Nope. What did I do? Placed my order the next day at 12:04PM and they open at 12PM. I love these cones. They are not loaded with sugar other than the outside, but the pastry itself has little to no sugar, and it is STRONG. These cones are FILLED with gelato not just the top part you see, but the bottom portion is loaded with your treats and MORE gelato. My favorite part? I am not a fast eater and by the time I conquered that MOUNTAIN of top gelato my cone wasn’t even soaked through in fact it was still nice and crunchy by the time I finished the goodies inside as well. The cones hold up to the filling they are stuffed with. The flavor combinations here are unique. I am listing their website info below so you can check out all the cone flavors yourselves.

Final thoughts: I love it here. Everyone I met was friendly and more than happy to talk about their product. The inside seating can fit about 20 people give or take. Are they busy? You bet your butt they are. There were already 5 orders ahead of our own less than 5 minutes after they opened and every order besides ours was a family. Sweet Dozen is a unique experience with their doughnut like cones, gelato ice cream, and flavor combinations as far as the eye can see. And, it’s kind of good for you since the cones are baked, right? I will absolutely be returning and telling everyone I know about this place. Please remember when you visit local eateries such as this 90% of their products are HOMEMADE which is what makes them SO GOOD. I watched these cones being made and they are not easy and a lot of work is put into them, and then add on house made gelato. These guys are the real deal. They are worth the wait. They are worth the return.


Dry Diggings Distillery – Whiskey Tasting Adventure

This blog probably should have been WWWB…Wine Whisk WhiskEY & Bliss as it is no secret that I love my whiskey. What do you think my answer was when 2nd dad aka Mikey aka Uncle asked if I’d like to go whiskey tasting? Um, YES. Not only does this blog support local and small business but so does my entire family!

Y’all Dry Diggings Distillery is the Hogwarts of whiskey: magical, secretly hidden, and extremely educational. Nestled in the heart of El Dorado Hills this local business/distillery gave us one exciting afternoon. Now, if you’re a whiskey hater…..why are you here? Just kidding. In all seriousness there is a wide variety of spirits available at Dry Diggings and ALL made in house, AND the people running the show are incredible so go anyways for a fun afternoon and memorable experience!


Please welcome Michelle, my aunt to the blog! She isn’t cooking anything on this post but she went along for the tasting because that’s just what family is for. Kyle and my amazing grandpa went as well but apparently we didn’t take pictures with them….oops. Next time! Mikey and I collab quite a bit you may remember him here & here. We continue! All of us in attendance being whiskey tasting virgins.

We take the short drive to the distillery and upon parking Michelle looks over at me from the backseat with bewilderment across her face and asks “is this it?!” Hogwarts. The distillery is located inside your run of the mill business building! It is totally awesome. We walk through the door, were immediately greeted with a smile, and continued down a short hallway that then transported us into the magical place of Dry Diggings Distillery.


Our tasting was hosted by Darci and she was absolutely delightful. My family is loud, funny, the best(slightly biased), and memorable and Darci put up with us the entire time! Whiskey and spirits tasting is not what Michelle and I initially thought which was taking numerous shots of whiskey until you can’t remember your name. No, the tasting in TOTAL is only equal to about 1 and a quarter shots. You also can pick your tasting here from whiskey exclusively which is what Kyle chose or the rest of the party’s choice: a mixed flight of both whiskey and spirits. Darci loves where she works and we all could immediately tell the minute she began to explain each bottle, how the idea for it was conceived, the entire process from start to finish, and the uniqueness in taste for each whiskey/spirit. The love for the art of spirits and whiskey absolutely radiates here. I am not going to give too many of the secrets/facts/education away here(sorry) but I feel it is absolutely imperative to hear and experience in person. If you are in the Sacramento area…if you are in California make the drive to this amazing local business. I am telling you that you will not regret it.

Fun fact: Whiskey/Spirit tasting is totally different than wine tasting! Duh, right? Michelle and I are expert wine tasters but had quite the learning curve here and Darci walked us through every step of the way. A fun trick we learned was to breathe in, take a sip, and then breathe out to really capture aromas and flavors while tasting. We tasted an odorless and tasteless vodka….this is how vodka is supposed to be guys if done right. Interesting, right? We had a white rum, cherry brandy, rye whiskey(one of the favorites), an apple brandy lovingly referred to as Apple Jacks(also a favorite of the day), and plenty more whiskey. Darci had a memory for every drink she poured which made the afternoon personal as we in turn told stories and laughed until our hot jaws hurt. Christine, the owner’s daughter joined as well and had a laid back fun personality to match. The tasting itself takes just a little over an hour. We all bought at least 2 bottles for our homes, in addition to her two bottles Michelle got some ginger soda for moscow mules, I bought hot sauces, bloody mary mix, Apple Jacks, and Kyle got a whiskey, and Mikey bought the amazing vodka.

Overall this was a forever memorable day not only because I got to spend it with my family but by the time we left Dry Diggings they also felt like family. Anyone that doesn’t kick us out for crude jokes, asking for a coke with whiskey, likes camping, and puts up with us becomes family. An event you will surely not forget is spirit and whiskey tasting at Dry Diggings Distillery! Check them out and tell em I sent ya! The whole group is going back in October for the official tour so stay tuned! Also stay tuned as one day we’ll get grandpa and Mikey to go wine tasting!



Wine @ 815


There are three things I am exceptionally good at in life: cooking, writing, and wine tasting. The struggle with wine tasting (and I use struggle lightly because we all know I still get in my car and go) is that the nearest wine country is about 45 minutes from where I live. Amador County is where I go to giveaway all my money to grapes less fortunate than myself. Napa is about an hour and a half away, and so realistically reaching wine country is not too bad, but then Wine @ 815 moved in 5 minutes from my house. Girl, we are in trouble. Rayann and I did not walk we ran to see what this was all about.

From all stand points Wine @ 815 is genius.

Genius #1 – it is actual wine tasting in Historic Folsom. $5 per flight (5-6 tastings) which is extremely reasonable and tasting fees are waived if a bottle is purchased.

Genius #2 – Marketing. Wine @ 815 consists of 3 wineries: Rempfer Cellars, Fiddletown Cellars, Los Portales. Cross promotion makes me swoon, and these guys are doing it right. All 3 are local as well.

Genius #3 Atmosphere. I really just want to take my laptop and setup shop there while sipping on wine all afternoon, and I might actually get something done(probably not cause I totally love Lia the Tasting Manager). The shop is small but they have kept the floor plan open so the feeling of being in a tiny space never sets in. Dimmed lighting is key, because everyone looks better in dimmed lighting, right?

Genius #4 Make your own cheese board. Okay, so I almost never order cheese boards, because they always consist of cheese I can’t pronounce and I don’t want to look like a fool AND there are more creepy cheeses than anything else. 815 has changed the game, though. They have a tiny fridge filled with a wide variety of cheeses, pickles, olives, crackers, and snacks. You pick what you would like, pay for those items only, and grab a cheeseboard to eat off of. Unique and fun.


Genius #5 Experience. I am not going to give too much away here, because wine tasting is really something that absolutely has to be experienced in person. I will tell you that I would have been more than happy to stay at 815 all day and chat with Lia. The education provided while tasting is the perfect blend as all highlights about each bottle, awards, and regions are discussed, but not so in depth that you need a full glass of wine just to be able to listen about the next. Having only 3 wineries provides a more in depth discussion for each pour, and each back story is extremely unique. Lia is fun, smart, and you can really tell she has passion for what she does.

The Wine. Have ya’ll just been waiting for me to talk about the wine? Shut up, Krystal and talk about wine. Okay, here is the main thing. Just go there. Seriously. I will tell you the most shocking reason you should take all your friends and go. Wine @ 815 is red. Red. Red. Red, and some more red. They did not have Los Portales in when I visited so I was only able to taste Fiddletown and Rempfer which are both red. Let’s be honest California is red. Krystal (me) is a white girl living in a red state, and I loved every.single.pour, AND bought with REAL money Rempfer Cellars Petite Sirah and my life was forever changed. I have been to Amador more times than I can count and I have NEVER brought home a red. I thought I would be the girl that loves bubbles and German wines forever, but I am very excited to say that my favorites are now changing thanks to 815. I will put the tasting flights below. I am not going to repeat the fun facts about either the wineries themselves or each wine because it is such an amazing experience to hear Lia tell you for yourself. I will be back. I might live there. I may have them on speed dial. Follow them on Facebook!




Party with me in Limbo 

“Where Did You Go?”

Day 1

I stopped apologizing for my absences a few years ago. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, but not in my case. Neglect makes me resentful. Absence makes me bitter. Yet, I find it fairly easy to drown inside this heart of mine and find even the task of breathing to be an inconvenience. Where have I been? Right here. Where have I gone? Nowhere.  I call this place Limbo. I call this place grief and you are welcome to take a look inside.

Sometimes it seems fitting to start a sentence saying “often times with chronic illness” but fuck that. My tragedies and my struggles are not my identity. When I bury myself in this place of in-between it’s because I’m experiencing disconnect, and not because I am a sick girl crying for your sympathy. Do not ever associate me with her.  I was made to be her my entire childhood and my main sense of pride as an adult is that I am me not my disease.

 I experienced identify theft at the age of nine and often I find myself mourning for a life I never experienced. I grieve for a child that never got to live. Occasionally my heart aches for a life completely different than this while my brain slaps me upside the head saying “silly girl, move on”. It’s hard to run when your feet won’t move. It’s hard to fly when you do not trust your own wings. I have created this imaginary ledge to keep me in my place.

 “Don’t walk too far, don’t dream too big, don’t wear yourself out, and don’t do too much, Krystal”. My entire life in one sentence: “Don’t (fill in the blank) too long, Krystal”. You’re a fragile China doll. You will fall. You will shatter. Shatter to pieces. They can put you back together, but you will never be the same, because once your skin tears it doesn’t fit back together the way it should. Bruises go all the way to the bone. You will no longer be smooth, soft, delicate or porcelain. You’ll be harsh, ragged, and dark. You’ll just be the broken China Doll someone sells at a yard sale for 50 cents, but really you’re worth only 10. So, remember – not too much, not too long, Krystal. My limbo is a place where every hope, goal, and dream of mine comes to be erased. It’s where I go when the logical part of me takes over. It’s where I go when the sick girl wins. It’s where I have buried her.

 I am writing, again. Here it is. Raw and unedited. You ask where I have been and it is just right here in the in-between. My brain wants logic, order, organization, and for me to make a damn story board for once in my life so my writing falls into place. My heart just wants the words to come out.  I have this chronic urge that pulses in my chest 24 hours a day to write. Write something, Krystal. Anything. The feeling of needing to remove something from your body so badly you can’t even think straight until you do. I felt that way about my portacath. If that thing was not going to come out of my body I was going to rip it out myself, and had thoughts (or delusions) of actually doing it! Imagine wanting a cookie so bad you’d slice your own arm off in exchange for one, and you make the deal with the devil only to find the cookie jar is empty. I’ve made the deal. It is still empty in here. I’m writing for some kind of relief.  

 Give me something to write about. If there was ever a time to learn about me it is now. I’m starting something new. Or, I can just write nonsense like I did above. I’m a writer with a blank page and you’re a reader. What do I write? What do I say to you? The world is a blank page for me just as much as it is for you. Let’s start over. Im leaving Limbo. Not at a fast pace but nonetheless, I am walking towards the exit.