Going Gluten Free

Here are 5 tips on how to make your transition to a gluten-free diet easier!

I spent most of 2019 and all of 2020 fighting the fact that I needed to eat gluten-free. Even though I do not have celiac disease, I am very gluten sensitive. When I eat gluten, I get incredibly bloated, my stomach does not work right for days, and I have slight chest pains for days after.

My diet is 98% gluten-free right now, and both my parents eat gluten-free. This means I know a lot of the best gluten-free food in grocery stores, restaurants, and even some yummy recipes. I want to share some tips and tricks of going gluten-free because it honestly isn’t that bad. There are so many products and foods nowadays that make it pretty easy to follow a gluten-free diet.

I want to offer community and guidance about beginning your process of starting your gluten-free journey. It can be an overwhelming and daunting process. Even though it has become easier to be gluten-free in recent years, it can feel kind of isolating and time-consuming. Here are 5 tips on how to make your transition to a gluten-free diet easier!

  1. Understand different terminology used for gluten. An example, gluten is different from yeast, but many products that contain yeast also have gluten. Learning to read labels is crucial for your success. There are resources that can help you begin to understand how to find gluten in any product. Check this website out to begin to understand reading labels: https://www.verywellhealth.com/how-to-identify-gluten-on-food-labels-562666
  2. Think about and write down the food you regularly eat and identify where gluten could be present. Write down all your favorite foods and figure out which foods are not gluten-free. This will help you search for gluten-free alternatives for them! For example, if you love Italian food, you can search online “gluten-free Italian food near me.” This works for just about anything you can think of! There are always gluten-free alternatives, whether you have to make something yourself or find a restaurant that makes good gluten-free food.
  3. Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 flour is the best! Don’t understate the power of good gluten-free flour. With 1 to 1 flour, you can make just about anything, and the food feels the most like regular gluten food. You can use this flour in baked goods, breakfast foods, use it as a thickener, or even coat something to bake or fry.
  4. Find a grocery store that carries gluten-free foods. Hopefully, you’ll have one near where you live, but if you don’t, many online grocery options carry gluten-free options like thrive market. Identifying a grocery store that carries many options allows you the opportunity to not worry about those times where you don’t want to think too much about being able to buy something without thinking about too much.
  5. Give yourself grace and time. It can be very emotional cutting out some of your favorite foods. You might not find an excellent alternative right away, and that can be very sad. Just know, you will work through this, and with time, the gluten-free diet gets easier.

I wish you the best of luck in your gluten-free journey! I hope to write more about good gluten-free foods, restaurants, recipes, etc., so keep an eye out if you like this article!

Buying A House in 2021

We are Home Owners!

On May 18th, my significant other and I bought our first home. We have been working on this goal slowly since we moved back to NEPA in June 2019. Job changes, lots of saving, and the pandemic later, here we are with a home.

As I am sure you know, the housing market is on fire right now. It honestly feels like a miracle that we not only bought a house, but we found one we LOVE! Everything about this home is what we wanted. It’s a pre World War 2 built home in Scranton, PA. It’s everything we could have dreamed of getting! It took a lot of effort emotionally, mentally, and physically to get here, though. I have a ton of advice for anyone looking to buy a home. We were blessed to have family that knew the home buying process well and a stellar realtor.

Here are 10 Tips for buying a home!

Tip #1

Find an area you want to live in. Make sure you want to live here. I have heard to make sure you want to own a home in that location for at least seven years. There are penalties if you sell your home too quickly after buying it. I like to think of a home as a longer-term investment. Whether I plan on living in it forever or I plan to rent it out when it’s time to move on, I don’t recommend buying a home if you only plan to live there for a few years.

Tip #2

Prepare yourself financially. There are a ton of costs to factor in when purchasing a home. There is also a ton of conflicting advice on the right amount to save, etc.
With conventional mortgages, you only need 5% right now. If you do put less than 20% down, though, you will be paying private mortgage insurance. You have to weigh the pros and cons and figure out what works for you!
Work on your credit scores and increase them as much as you can! The better your credit scores, the better your mortgage interest rates are going to be. You by no means need a perfect credit score, just a good, healthy one.
It can be hard to find advice on what your credit score should be and how much you should have saved. I did some self-education through the podcast How To Money. I learned a lot about mortgages and credit scores. I recommend talking, reading, or listening to reputable resources to create your financial plan. Don’t just listen to your friend or family member who may have never bought a house ever or it’s been many, many years. Their advice is helpful but having current and relevant information is crucial.
Set your plan and your budget, and stick to it!

Also, on the topic of mortgages, make sure you are working with a good company. Many good Realtors have connections to lenders that, because of that connection, things move smoothly throughout the buying process. If you do go with a lender outside of the realtor’s recommendation, which might also be a good move based on your rates, make sure they are accessible. Being able to call or email them with any questions you have and get a quick response is crucial.

Tip #3

Find a great realtor in your area. This was key for us finding out home and having our offer accepted. Our realtor was phenomenal. She knew her stuff and was a wealth of knowledge through the process. I feel a good realtor is not only someone who is a great resource and good at making deals but also someone who knows the specific area you are looking in. If they know your area, they will know common issues and perks of the area and help you navigate all of that.

Just because I love our realtor so much, if you are looking for a home in the Scranton Area, please reach out to me, and I will connect you with the one I used!


Learn what you want and don’t want. Spend time paroozing listings and seeing a variety of different houses. See houses below, at, and slightly above the price range you have in your head. CAUTION: don’t look at a house over the amount you are preapproved for; you don’t want to fall in love with something you are not qualified to buy. It’s crucial to see a variety of houses on various streets/ areas within the area you are looking at. You may find you have deal breakers you never thought you would, or you may fall in love with a particular style of house once you see it in person.

Tip #5

Find someone you are close to who knows the process. This is crucial to have an outside perspective on the process you are going through. We were lucky enough that my significant other was very familiar with the house buying process and my parents, who are familiar with the house buying process. This allowed us to educate ourselves and get those insider tips that first-time homebuyers where someone who bought a house years ago might not know. I think having someone outside of your realtor to talk about offers and house issues is helpful. They can serve as a voice of reason if you are feeling unsure or overwhelmed.

Tip #6

Ask all the questions! Don’t be afraid to ask your realtor and your trusted outsider all the questions! If your realtor cant answer your questions or can’t figure them out, maybe it’s time to find someone else. Your realtor should work to help get your questions answered. You should not feel pressured to commit to anything without your questions and concerns being answered. Also, as someone who hasn’t recently gone through the process, I love sharing my knowledge with others. Most people who know the process want to help you!

Tip #7

Don’t get caught up in the hype/ market. Especially right now, it can be easy to get caught up in this hot market. Don’t. Please do not spend money you do not have. Figure out your budget at the beginning of your process and stick it no matter what. Do not compromise your financial health for a home out of your means. Your house is out there, and it will work out within your budget. Trust that.
You’ll learn what reasonable prices are for what you are looking for in which you can adjust your price point based on calculations. You might also need to make a competitive offer, but there are ways to do that without going beyond your means. A good realtor will help you through this.

Tip #8

Take a break when you need it. It can be discouraging to put in offer after offer and not have a house. The house that is meant for you will come to you. It can be easy to just put in an offer on just about anything that seems nice. If you need a break, take one. Houses will still be coming on the market when you’re ready to start looking again.

Tip #9

Put in an offer you are comfortable with. Nothing more. I mentioned this in the don’t get caught up in the hot market. I think this point is crucial, though. In a hot market, you will be very tempted to overpay and outbid anyone for a house. Do not let the hot market or your realtor tell you that you absolutely need to put in a particular offer. You are in the driver’s seat, and you make the decisions. Good realtors know strategic ways to make offers more appealing.

A good example would be writing a letter to the current owner, talking about how much you love their house and your hopes for the home. If your offer is similar to other offers, you might grab their attention a bit more with a letter.
There are so many ways to put in strong offers on a house without going beyond your means and drastically overpaying.

Tip #10

Be prepared for after the offer is accepted. Things right now are moving quickly. Our original closing date was 45 days after our offer was accepted. It moved to 30 days because things moved smoothly.
Understand and ask questions about closing costs. When you buy a house, you don’t just need your down payment; you also need closing costs. You can get sellers assist in helping with closing costs, but it’s better to be prepared to pay them. In a hot market like this, sellers like when you cover your closing costs. I recommend financially preparing a bit beyond your down payment and closing costs too. When the inspection report comes back, and I highly recommend getting an inspection, you want to feel comfortable that you financially can handle any issues the house may have. No house is perfect, and all houses will need some money put into them, even if it’s just painting, getting your furnace services, etc.

Hopefully, this advice helps any potential home buyers out there! Buying a home is a stressful yet very exciting process. I have complete confidence you will find a home that you love!

TL;DR When looking to buy a house, don’t get caught up in the hot market. Make sure to financially prepare for a down payment, closing costs, and other home costs post-closing. Find a knowledgeable realtor in your area; it is crucial to finding a great, sturdy home and getting a good deal, even in a hot market.

House Hunting in 2021

* this is a sponsored post *

Buying a house is no small feat, but in 2021, it’s nearly impossible to navigate with the housing market being so hot. I want to share my experience, tips in the buying process, and one of my deal breakers for a home. 

My significant other and I planned on starting our search slightly before the spring market. We thought that February 2021 would be an excellent time to begin our process. Funny enough, this coincided with the market becoming hot in our area. 

First, we found a realtor to help us on our journey. We are lucky enough to know a realtor in our region who recommended a fantastic realtor in the specific area we are looking for houses. Our realtor was able to walk us through what the market looks like, what to expect, and the next steps for getting pre-approved for a mortgage. Finding a knowledgeable realtor is an essential step in beginning your house buying journey. They will be able to help you navigate the market, understand potential issues with homes you are seeing, and making your offer on the house very attractive. 

Because of covid, getting pre-approved for a mortgage is encouraged and, in some cases, required before going to look at houses. Many sellers need to see pre-approvals before allowing people into their homes. We got pre-approved through a mortgage company that our realtor suggested. In the long run, this helps the process run smoother, and we luckily got a great rate from them. I have heard lots of advice about shopping around for mortgage rates at different banks, credit unions, and other mortgage lenders. We choose to stay with the lender our realtor suggested because we got a great rate, and the process of closing on a house we choose to get will run smoother since our realtor has worked with our lender many times, and they are super reliable. 

Once we were approved, we searched for houses for our realtor to show us! We were originally using realtor.com and Zillow to search for homes. We use realtor.com because we have heard they have very accurate listings. I like Zillow because you can see house cost history, and for duplexes, you can see what rent could be for a unit. 

Unfortunately, the market has been hot, and we have put in offers on houses that weren’t accepted. When it’s time to put an offer in, I recommend thoroughly looking over the disclosure agreement. The disclosure agreement is something that the seller fills out about the house. Your realtor should provide you with the disclosure agreement. Anything that has happened to the house, like a water leak or electrical issues, would be noted on this disclosure agreement. This will help you navigate potential costs you may face in the near or far future. For example, if the roof is 20 years old and isn’t a long-lasting type of roof like a metal roof, you might need to factor in replacing a roof in the first 5-10 years of owning the home. Factoring these costs in when making an offer is essential, and you will need to make sure you can handle these additional costs down the road. 

With a good realtor, putting in an offer should be relatively easy. They will talk you through the process and prep the paperwork for you to sign. My biggest advice is knowing your budget, not getting into a bidding war you can’t afford, and not paying for a house that costs anywhere outside of your means. Don’t let anyone talk you into bidding more money than you have or an amount that’s out of your means. I know it can be tempting, and you will want the house so bad but, if you don’t get the house, it’s not meant to be. You will get a home when it is meant to be, and it fits into your budget. 

When looking for houses and figuring out what you like and don’t like, it’s important to know or learn your deal breakers. What are the things you cannot live with or without? 

For me, a healthy home that is free of water leaks and mold is crucial. I am incredibly sensitive to mold and do not want to buy a house that could already have a water leak and mold issues. We have seen some beautiful homes that we know we cannot buy once we get to the basement. Basements can hold moisture and water, which could lead to mold. I am a stickler for checking for how well the basement is cared for in a home. Once we find a house we love, I will be a stickler for getting the house tested for mold and then potentially treated for mold. 

Companies like Nash Everett are experts when it comes to identifying and removing mold in your home. What I like about Nash Everett is that their approach to eliminating molds. They have a remediation approach and clarify that not all mold remediation/ removal are created equal. They go the extra mile and take removing mold very seriously. They also note that any company you use for mold remediation should have certifications, licensing, and insurance. It’s crucial to find a company and a contractor that you trust! It has to do with the health of your home, after all! Not only does Nash Everett has services in New Jersey, but they also have mold removal in Durham PA

Buying a home can be a daunting task, and it will be the biggest purchase of your life! Don’t rush it! Take your time to plan your budget, put in the work to get pre-approved, find a good realtor you trust, and make that list of deal-breakers. 

Happy House Hunting! 

February 6th: Morning Cup

Yesterday was busy. I woke up early, went to work, checked out the Scranton Ice festival, and unplugged for a few hours in the evening.

On Saturdays I work, I treat myself to Henry’s on Clay. They recently rolled out some new specials, and I have been eyeing them up all week.

I went with the Chocolate covered Strawberry iced latte. It was amazing!

Hope you had a great Saturday! ✨

February 5th: Morning Cup

Another day, another whipped coffee.

I am working from home today and needed something sweet. It’s been a week! I don’t know about you, but for me, this week has moved so slowly.

To treat myself, I made whipped coffee this morning! It’s crazy how this is the 3rd time this week having whipped coffee.

All I gotta say is TGIF! ✨

February 4th: Morning Cup

Today is the first day I’ve been back physically in the office since last week. Between a day off, snow days, and work from home days, I was at home all week. It feels good to be in the office! I feel productive in the office after multiple days working from home in a row.

On my way to work, I wanted to get coffee that sparks joy. I work Saturday, so today is like my Wednesday. I worked late last night and needed something that’ll get my brain moving too.

I choose to go with one of my favorite drinks ever: a Large Nitro Cold Brew at Kay’s Daily Grind.

This drink is not only incredible, but it also fuels me and kicks my brain into gear. I am feeling great and ready for my day ahead!

February 3rd: Morning Cup

This morning I woke up craving something creamy and sweet. After drinking black coffee the past two days, I wanted something more decadent.

I decided on quick and easy whipped coffee with oat milk. It’s creamy and sweet without being overpowering. It was the perfect treat for this snowy Wednesday!

Cheers to Wednesday ✨

February 2nd: Morning Cup

It’s day two and a half into this snowstorm. The northeast is getting pounded with a snowstorm, and it just won’t stop. I believe we have over 30 inches of snow by this point. My work has us working remotely, which is nice since I wouldn’t be able to leave my house anyway, haha.

This morning was also an early one for me. I have recently gotten very into Animal Crossings Hew Horizon in the switch, so I woke up before work to search for a new villager for my town. It was well worth waking up early since I found a great new villager to add to my island.

It just feels like one of those days, though. Up early, not incredibly motivated, and wishing for the days past if true snow days. This made me turn to my French Press. Quick and easy to brew with high flavor impact.

Today I choose my Tanzania coffee I have from Atlas Coffee Club. I love being a part of Atlas Coffee Club and love the variety of coffees they send me!

This Tanzania coffee was a lighter roasted coffee with complex flavors. The tasting notes are black tea, blackberry, and milk chocolate. I get the mouthfeel of black tea, the blackberry’s tartness, and the subtle sweetness and flavor of the milk chocolate.

Cheers to Tuesday! ☕️

3 Ceramists You Need To Know About

One of my absolute favorite things on this planet are hand made pottery mugs. I have been collecting pottery mugs since 2019 and would love to have an extensive collection on the day. It is easy to grab a $10 mug at Target or Home Goods, and I have plenty of regular mugs, but there is just something extraordinary about a handmade pottery mug. Ceramic mugs cost a reasonable amount more than a mug you can pick up in a chain store, but I like to think of them as little pieces of art. People spend hours and their talents pouring themselves into these small mugs for people to enjoy. I find them worth every single penny and do not question the price set by the ceramist.

I am not recommending going out and exclusively buying expensive pottery mugs but adding one here and there to your mug collection not only brightens your mug collection but it also helps real people pursue their passion and talents. I find that my handmade ceramic mugs feel different in my hands when drinking my coffee. They give me lots of joy each time I use them. They are unique and one of a kind.

I want to share some of my favorite ceramists out there. I have followed these ceramists for years and have mugs from 2 of them. The last one I will share is on my list of ceramists I dream about purchasing one day.

  1. Sugar House Ceramic Co.
    By far, this couple producing gorgeous mugs at Sugar House are my favorite ceramists out there. Their work is stunning, and their mugs are unlike any I have seen to date. Their mugs are incredibly cozy, and I think their prices are fantastic since some ceramic mugs can be upward of $100 easily. I have 3 of their mugs and 2 of their Christmas ornaments, so that in itself is proof of how much I believe in their ceramics and the quality of their ceramic. You can check out their website here: https://sugarhouseceramicco.com/

2. Lily Calabrese Pottery
I found Lily while on vacation in Vermont in the summer of 2019. She was set up at a little outdoor market, and I instantly fell in love with her work. She had a gorgeous and unique cactus mug that I bought instantly. She is known for her Late Bloomer mugs, which I find to be one of a kind and show incredible talent. Her ceramics are always evolving, and I purchase a need outer space themed plate for my sister that went over exceptionally well. I am very thankful I stumbled upon this ceramist and hope to buy from her again in the future! You can check out her work here: https://www.lilycalabrese.com/

3. LaLePottery
This ceramist’s work is on my dream to own list. I found her on Instagram and cannot wait to own a mug of hers one day. Her mugs feel eclectic and showcase her immense talent as an artist. I love the gold accents she adds to her mugs. I feel like her mugs would bring a little whimsy into anyone’s life. I especially love her mugs with bees on them! They make me swoon, haha. You can check her out here: https://www.instagram.com/lalepottery/

I hope you love these ceramists as much as I do! If you can’t purchase a mug, show these ceramists some love on social media. It is crucial to support small businesses in these times. Cheers to small ceramist businesses!

January 31st: Morning Cup

This morning was slow. Thank goodness! I have been very busy the past week, and I was thankful to get some extra rest this morning.

I didn’t have the drive to pull out all of my brewing gear, so I went with coffee this morning that was easy and delicious. Since the whipped coffee trend hit the internet last spring, I have made this treat many times. I love frothy coffee, so I instantly fell in love with this light and frothy coffee drink.

I am thankful for this delicious and easy coffee today and having a slow Sunday!

Happy Sunday! ✨

If you are interested in learning more about my whipped coffee recipe, you can check it out here: https://mariadoesthings.com/2021/01/31/my-whipped-coffee-recipe/