Homemade Toner & Fabulous Face Cream

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I’m in body care product making mode.

This seems to be a great time of year to do it and typically when I run out of all my favorites.

Yesterday I made gluten free, dairy free, non-toxic, fantastic for you Facial Toner.

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Love it.

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If you look carefully, you can see the “Mother” floating around in there. The “Mother” is made up of very beneficial living enzymes. You need to make sure you buy the good vinegar that looks cloudy and is organic. “Regular” vinegar manufacturers filter all of the good stuff out so they can have a prettier product.

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I also made my Fabulous Face Cream.

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I don’t know about you, but I’m 46 and my skin needs all the moisturizing and healthy products it can get.

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It’s been abused by my love for the sun, stress, and unfortunately Lyme Disease likes to take a toll in every area, even your skin.

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These are such relaxing projects, I can’t even tell you. It’s so much fun! Smells fantastic of course. Doesn’t break the bank like department store $$$$ creams, doesn’t load your body up with chemicals and toxins, and you can share the healthy love with your friends and family as gifts for the holidays. It’s win-win.

Have fun!

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Lavender & Lemon Facial Toner

(one recipe per bottle)

1 Part Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar with the “Mother” intact

3 Parts Filtered Water

4 Drops YL Lavender Essential Oil

5 Drops YL Lemon Essential Oil

Clean your bottles inside and out. Pour 1 part vinegar to 3 parts filtered water. Add essential oils, secure top, shake well. Label.  Shake well before dabbing on a cotton pad and cleaning face. Can be used in the morning and before bed.

Fabulous Face Cream

*Makes about 1 1/2 – 2 Cups

1 Cup of Organic Unrefined Virgin Coconut Oil, solid room temp

2 Tablespoons of Organic Jojoba Oil

2 Tablespoons of Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 Tablespoon of Filtered Water

4 Drops of YL Melaleuca Alternifolia Essential Oil (Tea Tree Oil)

4 Drops of YL Lavender Essential Oil

5 Drops of YL Lemon Essential Oil

Measure the coconut oil into a stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Beat on high for 5 minutes scraping down sides two or three times. On medium, slowly drizzle the Jojoba and Olive Oil in. Mix on high 5 minutes scraping down sides two or three times. Drizzle in the water and do the same. Turn off mixer and add essential oils. Mix on medium to combine, then high for another 5 minutes scraping down sides three or four times.

Spoon into containers and label. Can be used in the morning (give your skin time to absorb it before applying makeup) and in the evening before bed.

Homemade Essential Oil Body Cream

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Healthy, Chemical Free, Body Creams

Healthy, Chemical Free, Body Creams

In this age of technology we are becoming pretty savvy about what’s in our food and in the products we use every day. Typically, it takes a personal illness or an illness within the family or friend, before we come to the conclusion that something is seriously wrong with the way we’re being taught to care for our bodies.

Organic Oils & High Quality Essential Oils

Organic Oils & High Quality Essential Oils

It only takes about 30 minutes on the internet to find out all you ever needed or never wanted to know about the chemicals, additives, and things we consume every day that we’ve been told are “safe”.

Right now Americans are in a battle with the government about Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) labeling. A GMO is a new organism, not found in nature, created by scientists when they genetically modify or engineer food plants. An overwhelming amount of health and environmental risks have been identified with genetically modified foods. The government doesn’t think we need to know if our food has been genetically modified or if the livestock we consume has been fed GMO food.

The Essential Oil Bibles

The Essential Oil Bibles. Right now they are still purchasable online. If you have an interest in natural treatments, I would urge you to purchase the manuals now before they are no longer available due to FDA control.

Over the years we’ve assumed that the FDA regulates things that aren’t healthy for us. But that depends on your standards and what your idea of “healthy” is. So many things happen behind the scenes that we aren’t even aware of. Point in case…essential oils. The FDA thinks it’s OK for us to consume GMO’s and have all kinds of crazy inedible chemicals in our foods. They don’t think it’s OK for companies who have paid for and done all the science and research, companies who practice safe harvesting and manufacturing, and companies that are focused on health, to tell you that peppermint essential oil settles an upset stomach. Seriously.

Quickly do a little research on the benefits of essential oils (before all the suggested uses are removed) and you’ll be astonished by the benefits. The latest Twilight Zone FDA announcment? Diamond Foods in the past had listed the health benefits of Walnuts on their website and are now being forced to remove them. Why? Because the FDA says that if you’re going to list the health benefits of a food item, then you’re dealing drugs and have to follow FDA approved guidelines. Do a little research, the list goes on and on.

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In 2009 I became extremely sick and had to quit my job. When I was able to finally get out of bed, I was on a one woman mission to figure out what was making me so ill.  Part of my job had been research so I was no stranger to digging for information. I didn’t know at that time that I had Lyme Disease of course, but it seemed that my whole body was in a revolt. From my immune system to my hormones, to sleep, to a list of symptoms that would make your head reel…everything was out of whack. What I was also seeing though, was that there were all kinds of people sick and struggling with similar issues. And according to their doctors their illnesses weren’t able to be categorized or, they were being treated for auto immune disorders and other things as a last guess resort, a shot in the dark. And of course, they weren’t getting better and in many cases they were getting much, much worse.

That concept is absolutely unacceptable to me. Finding the root of your body’s health issues and treating them with the appropriate medications and healthy living is imperative to feeling well and enjoying life. I’m not against modern medicine in any way. What I take issue with is the constant treatment of symptoms with medications that cause more symptoms, without trying to tackle and figure out the real underlying issues. Sometimes experimentation is necessary to figure out the right treatments for what ails you. But the first goal should be to have a physician who really wants to get to the bottom of what ails you.

Science Fun In The Kitchen

Science Fun In The Kitchen

More and more we’re recognizing that serious health issues cannot be overcome without paying attention to the entire body. When I became so ill I had been keeping a food diary for about a year and half and was already aware that I was allergic to both gluten and dairy. Then I started to learn more about the body, how it works, and how everything needs to work together in harmony for us to get the best out of our health. We have become a chemical laden, unnatural society. Many of the things we eat, drink, and put on our bodies are no longer natural and therefore, cannot be recognized by our body’s immune system. Basically, our immune system thinks we’re poisoning ourselves.

Which of course sadly, in many cases we are.

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Years of eating additives, not taking precautions with toxic chemicals, hormones and antibiotics in our livestock, lack of rest, stress, and slathering what we thought were luxurious “healthy” lotions and creams all over our skin has taken its toll. These things accumulate and research shows that it throws our body a major curve ball and chips away at our immune systems, damaging our body’s ability to handle life properly. Once your body has a toxic overload in one area, it’s like a domino effect. Healthy body harmony depends on what you put in your body AND what you put on your body. Your skin is your largest organ, and most of us have been abusing it for our entire lives.

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Did you know that there’s a significant amount of research that shows that chemical exposure actually interferes with the function of your DNA and can be passed down through generations? Frightening.

Have you ever researched any of the chemicals and their side effects in the processed foods you’re eating or the lotions and other things you’re putting on your skin every day? The most troubling part is that we go through life thinking that if manufacturers are allowed to sell it, then it must be “just fine” for us.

I like to mix my creams raw, but you can also melt them on low heat together, wait for them to solidify, and then whip.

I like to mix my creams raw, but you can also melt them on low heat together, wait for them to solidify, and then whip.

The good news is that you can control a lot of the harmful things you’re being exposed to.

By being more mindful about the quality and type of food you consume and by paying attention to the ingredients in your body care items, you have the ability to not only reverse damage on your own body, but change the damage that you would have otherwise passed down to future generations. You can help your body instead of hindering it and alter potential harm to your future generations.  Exciting!

And if you’re past the age of giving birth to a future generation, you can certainly still teach the next one how to live a healthier life.

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Now before you get overwhelmed and all of the voices in your head start yelling, “I’m TOO busy, I have a life, I have X number of children I have to focus on, I don’t have the financial means, I’m too tired, I’m already overwhelmed in my life…maybe next month, maybe next year I can focus on my own health…” You know the voices…

My goal is not to police every single thing or be so paranoid you can’t enjoy life. My goal is for you and I to go through the life we’ve been given at our healthiest level possible. To limit the toxic burden in our own little way.

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To begin to educate ourselves and make baby steps to change things one piece at a time, is not a radical thought process. Whatever tiny things we can do to increase our awareness and begin to treat our bodies better is worth it.

One really easy way that has a huge impact on your health…stop overburdening your body with chemicals by changing what you put on your skin. Simple as that.

Just baby steps, that’s all.

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Making home made lotion is simple! It’s fun. It smells fantastic. It makes wonderful gifts. It feels fabulous on your skin. It’s easy, and it’s healthy because its chemical and toxin free.

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It doesn’t have to be expensive because you control what goes into it. You can be as simple about it, or as extravagant about it as you wish.

In fact, if right now you’re on an extremely fixed budget, you could go as simple as purchasing a big tub of organic coconut oil at your bulk store, whip that up and just use that as your new luxurious lotion. Or you could purchase a bottle of  organic Jojoba oil, or even use organic light olive oil. I used to keep a bottle in the shower and use it before drying off.

There will be tiny pieces of coconut oil in the lotion, but they melt within 2 seconds of rubbing in your hands.

Because I used the raw form of the oils here will be tiny pieces of coconut oil in the lotion, but they melt within 2 seconds of rubbing in your hands.

Last year was the first time I decided I was going to start making my own chemical free body products. It was so much fun and they felt so good, I never looked back.

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Begin to think about taking control of your health just one little step at a time. Those steps add up to a healthier and happier daily existence for you and your family.

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Set aside a bit of time for yourself, turn on some relaxing music, and start experimenting.

*This is a fantastic family project that can easily be done with children. Just be mindful to NEVER leave children unattended with essential oils.

Have fun and keep in touch. I would love to hear what exciting experiments have worked for you!

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Joyful Day Body Cream

*Makes about 1 1/2 to 2 Cups

1 Cup Organic Unrefined Virgin Coconut Oil, solid room temp

2 teaspoons Organic Jojoba Oil

1 Tablespoon Purified Water

8 Drops of YL Joy Essential Oil

9 Drops of YL Stress Away Essential Oil

Whip coconut oil in mixer on high for 5 minutes, scraping down twice in between. With mixer on medium, slowly drizzle the Jojoba oil and the water into the oils, scraping down the sides once or twice. Turn off mixer, add the essential oils and beat on high for 4-5 minutes scraping down once or twice. Spoon into container and seal.

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Lift Me Up Body Cream

*Makes 2 1/2 – 3 Cups

2 Cups Organic Unrefined Virgin Coconut Oil, solid room temp

1 Tablespoon Organic Olive Oil

1 Tablespoon Purified Water

25 Drops of YL Lemon Essential Oil

25 Drops of YL Peppermint Essential Oil

16 Drops of YL Tangerine Oil

Whip coconut in mixer on high for 5 minutes, scraping down twice in between. With mixer on medium, slowly drizzle the olive oil and the water into the oils, scraping down the sides once or twice. Turn off mixer, add the essential oils and beat on high for 4-5 minutes scraping down once or twice. Spoon into container and seal.

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Rest Well Bedtime Body Cream

*Makes 2 1/2 – 3 Cups

1 Cup Organic Unrefined Shea Butter, solid room temp

1 Cup Organic Unrefined Virgin Coconut Oil, solid room temp

1 Tablespoon Organic Jojoba Oil

25 Drops of YL Valor Essential Oil

13 Drops of YL Lavender Essential Oil

 Whip shea and coconut oil in mixer on high for 5 minutes, scraping down twice in between. With mixer on medium, slowly drizzle the jojoba into the oils, scraping down the sides once or twice. Turn off mixer, add the essential oils and beat on high for 4-5 minutes scraping down once or twice. Spoon into container and seal.

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Miracle Relief Sore Joint & Muscle Body Cream

*Makes 1 1/2 – 2 Cups

1/2 Cup Organic Unrefined Shea Butter, solid room temp

1/2 Cup Organic Unrefined Virgin Coconut Oil, solid room temp

2 Tablespoons Organic Olive Oil

72 Drops of YL PanAway Essential Oil

50 Drops of YL Frankinsence Essential Oil

75 Drops of YL Eucalyptus Globulus Oil

Whip shea and coconut oil in mixer on high for 5 minutes, scraping down twice in between. With mixer on medium, slowly drizzle the olive oil into the oils, scraping down the sides once or twice. Turn off mixer, add the essential oils and beat on high for 4-5 minutes scraping down once or twice. Spoon into container and seal.

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Acne Zapper Night Time Blemish Treatment

1/2 Cup Organic Unrefined Virgin Coconut Oil, solid room temp

1/4 Cup Organic Unrefined Shea Butter, solid room temp

15 Drops of YL Frankinsence Essential Oil

30 Drops of YL Lemon Essential Oil

25 Drops of YL Malaleuca Alternifiolia (Tea Tree Oil)

Whip shea and coconut oil in mixer on high for 5 minutes, scraping down twice in between. Turn off mixer, add the essential oils and beat on high for 4-5 minutes scraping down once or twice. Spoon into container and seal.

**I am not a physician or health care practitioner. These opinions are my own and the cream recipes are in no way meant to treat any ailment or illness. 

The 11 Foot Tree That Could…Or…The Russians Saved The Day

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I think I told you a couple of blog posts ago that this year I finally decided to indulge my dream of having more than one Christmas tree. We now have a house that is set up in a way that I can do that. And do it, I did.

The week prior to Thanksgiving I decorated the house and we bought our first artificial tree (tree #1) for the family room. I had my doubts and opinions about an artificial tree, but it’s gorgeous and boy was it nice not having to string the lights. The thing I like most about this tree is that it’s well behaved.

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Last weekend we drove to our favorite place to cut tree #2. It’s beautiful and smells amazing, and is 11 feet tall.

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It’s quite a sight. Especially when you get out of the shower and come downstairs to find it lying on the floor.

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First, I just stood there at the top of the stairs. Then I believe the phrase, “shit, shit, shit” came out of my mouth at least once. And then when I finally decided this was not just a bad dream, the dogs and I had a conversation about what we were going to do. Because when things like this happen, you’re always home alone. With an 11 foot tree on its side, in your bare feet.

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Ornaments were shattered everywhere. Beautiful  ornaments I purchased in New Hampshire that I won’t be able to replace. Water was all over the carpet and flooring.

Thankfully, the wrapped Christmas presents are in the family room under the well behaved tree #1.

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Allow me to back up a minute. When we originally put the tree in the stand, it was malfunctioning. It wouldn’t lock and the tree kept tipping. I mentioned that I thought we needed to run and buy a new stand because the last thing I wanted was an 11 foot, decorated tree, with expensive ornaments on the floor.

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Tony didn’t like that idea because it meant taking it out of one and putting it in another, which he thought would be too difficult. This was his solution. “Gorilla Tape”. Because men think that almost everything can be remedied with a little duct tape. Well, when I saw the tree on the floor I immediately thought, DAMN that duct tape! But it was still fully intact, so it seems that the innards of the stand just gave up the ghost. You can see where the plastic is broken.

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So after texting our son and texting Tony and trying to get someone to come over here to help me get it off the floor…I had to resort to construction workers. Having them around the neighborhood all the time is quite handy.

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I threw on some clothes, put a coat on and walked to the end of our street to one of the new construction houses where I could see a worker’s car. I walked in and yelled, “Hellllloooo?” I heard, “Hello?” I found them, an older gentleman and his young son, and my hair wasn’t done, I had no make up on, and I’m sure I sounded completely crazy. “Hi, I was just in the shower and our 11 foot Christmas tree fell over and there’s glass and broken ornaments and water all over the place and my husband isn’t home and I have to get it off the floor before the water ruins the flooring and I obviously cannot lift an 11 foot tree all by myself can you help me lift it up no big deal really we just need to get it into the corner until my husband gets home would you guys help me lift it into the corner just really quickly it won’t take long at all?” All in one run on sentence and one breath.

Well as you may or may not know, we have a pretty large population of Russians & Ukrainians in our area and they aren’t exactly the chatty type. Or known to be overly excitable or even all that outwardly friendly compared to what Americans consider “outwardly friendly”. They’re very serious folks. Kind of like people say how New Yorker’s are, just less…exuberant.  Dad looked at son like he would rather be doing anything other than helping the crazy lady and did not move a single muscle along with looking a bit disgusted. I wasn’t entirely sure he understood me so I had my laser focus on the son. He said something to his Dad, asked me where I lived and put his coat on. Dad stayed put.

I told him I had two big dogs but they they were very friendly and LOVED people. We walked in the house, and it took all of 2 minutes to get the tree off the ground. I guess Dad had decided to come down to help after all and right at that point we were getting it off the floor he walked in. He looked at the mess on the floor and the tree up against the wall.

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I looked at him, shook my head, and said, “I-Yi-Yi”. He looked at me very sincerely with a sad look and said, “Yes. I-Yi-Yi”. I thanked them both profusely for their help and as they were leaving Abigail growled at them and acted like she was going to bite them. That’s the first time she has ever growled or been aggressive toward a human being. Way to be thankful, Abigail.

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Evidently Tony was actually in town, he just wasn’t answering his phone because he was having a hair cut. Once he finally took a look at the pictures I had texted him he called and we decided a new tree stand was in order. And not even once did, “I told you so” come out of my  mouth.

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So I swept up the glass and the glitter and the needles and moved the furniture because they were on top of, and under everything. Vacuumed the rug as best I could, rolled it up, and hauled it to the garage. It was soaked and dirty and luckily just an inexpensive piece to have in the living room so Romeo wouldn’t ice skate across the floor anymore. We’ll have to go today to get something else because he’s already noticed it’s gone and won’t step a foot in there.

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We devised a plan on how we were going to lift the tree out of the broken stand and into the new one without breaking more ornaments or dropping it. The thought of un-decorating that tree and re-decorating it was far too much for me to wrap my head around. After a few minutes, we had it figured out. I held it so it wouldn’t tip over, not an easy feat considering it’s 6′ taller than I am. Tony got below and somehow lifted it out of the old stand and into the new one. A couple of adjustments and maybe 5 minutes and it was done. And oddly enough…. right now as I type this I’m looking out my office window… the construction boy is outside taking a picture on his phone of our house…obviously an entertaining story to be told to friends and family about the crazy American woman and her insane need to have two trees, and her very un-thankful, vicious, dog that she said was friendly.

After we got it standing again I didn’t even want to look at it for the rest of the night. I waited until this morning to put the remaining unbroken ornaments that had somehow hit the floor and not shattered back on. I removed more broken ornaments that were still stuck to the tree and straightened the lights. I took a good look at it and noticed it was a bit wonky from the fall.

I shrugged my shoulders, and said, “so be it”.

Незалежно буде , то буде .

“Whatever will be, will be.” (In Ukrainian)

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Thanksgiving Afterglow

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Ahhh…nothing quite like the holiday afterglow.

The past week has been an absolute whirlwind. All of the photos in this post are courtesy of my phone…so bear with me, I think it’s been dropped 100 too many times.

The dogs are basking in the afterglow as well.

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I threw caution to to the wind this year and decorated for Christmas before Thanksgiving. Perk #10,452 of being an adult. I also got a head start on wrapping gifts. I am on the ball!

This is our Woodland themed tree in the family room. This year we’ll have two trees…but more about that in a bit.

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Romeo had surgery last week to remove a tumor from his cheek. We were so thankful to find out that it was benign.

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I would have to say that Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday meal.

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Lots of dairy free better, sea salt, and Bragg's Organic Sprinkle

An organic turkey from Organic Prairie, pricey but worth every penny. Lots of dairy free butter, sea salt, and Bragg’s Organic Sprinkle

There are few things better than stuffing, mashed potatoes and giblet gravy. Are you pro giblet or anti giblet?

Neck and "parts" simmering in bone broth while the turkey roasts.

Neck and “parts” simmering in bone broth while the turkey roasts.

I admit though, the Thanksgiving meal is my least favorite to prepare. I honestly have no idea how my grandma cooked for so many people for most of my life. Definitely a labor of love. I cooked for 4 people. Only four. By the end of dinner the kitchen looked like I cooked for an army.

Toasted stuffing cubes made with gluten free Udi's bread, olive oil, poultry seasoning, garlic, and sea salt.

Toasted stuffing cubes made with gluten free Udi’s bread, olive oil, poultry seasoning, garlic, and sea salt.

Organic bacon. Because bacon is the star of the stuffing.

Organic bacon. Because bacon is the star of the stuffing.

Brown the bacon first. Remove, and then fry the onion and celery in the bacon fat. Add back in the bacon. To. Die. For. Add to the toasted bread, a generous dollop of dairy free butter, organic broth...and you have an amazing gluten free and dairy free stuffing.

Brown the bacon first. Remove, and then fry the onion and celery in the bacon fat. Add back in the bacon. Add to the toasted bread, a generous dollop of dairy free butter, organic broth…and you have an amazing gluten free and dairy free stuffing.

Fresh organic cranberries, orange juice, orange rind, coconut sugar, and a pinch of ground cloves.

Fresh organic cranberries, orange juice, orange rind, coconut sugar, and a pinch of ground cloves.

It took two days of preparation and cooking, about 45 minutes of eating, and two hours of clean up. Clean up is the point where I think every person who hosts Thanksgiving wishes they had hired kitchen help. Imagine if you had someone there for those two days of prep who did nothing but clean and do dishes. Heavenly!

Organic sweet potatoes or yams...depending on where you're from. Peel, slice, pour a generous amount of melted dairy free butter over them, add pure maple syrup, sea salt, and a generous sprinkle of coconut sugar. Let rest over night. Then back with the turkey until they are soft and candied.

Organic sweet potatoes or yams…depending on where you’re from. Peel, slice, pour a generous amount of melted dairy free butter over them, add pure maple syrup, sea salt, and a generous sprinkle of coconut sugar. Let rest over night. Then bake with the turkey until they are soft and candied.

This is Brittany Angel's Club Angel paleo Coconut Flour Pie crust dough. You'll need to join the club ($14.99) to get the recipe. But believe me, she has amazing recipes and it's worth every penny! She also has all kinds of free recipes on her website that are worth a look see.

This is Brittany Angel’s Club Angel paleo Coconut Flour Pie crust dough. You’ll need to join the club ($14.99) to get the recipe. But believe me, she has amazing recipes and it’s worth every penny! She also has all kinds of free recipes on her website that are worth a look see.

Rolled out like "real" pie dough crust and was very easy to handle.

Rolled out like “real” pie dough crust and was very easy to handle.

I experimented with my pumpkin pie this year. It's a basic pumpkin recipe but I used half hemp milk and half heavy coconut milk and sweetened it with coconut sugar. It turned out very well, but next time I will add an extra egg and possibly just do all coconut milk.

I experimented with my pumpkin pie this year. It’s a basic pumpkin pie recipe but I used half hemp milk and half heavy coconut milk and sweetened it with coconut sugar. It turned out very well, but next time I will add an extra egg and possibly just do all coconut milk. I would also add coconut sugar to the crust.

Topped with whipped full fat coconut milk, organic powdered sugar, and pure vanilla extract.

Topped with whipped full fat coconut milk, organic powdered sugar, and pure vanilla extract.

Sliced organic granny smith apples and wild huckleberries.

Sliced organic granny smith apples and wild huckleberries.

Apples, huckleberries, lemon juice, coconut sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Apples, huckleberries, lemon juice, coconut sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Gluten free organic oats, coconut sugar, sea salt, dairy free butter, and diced walnuts.

Gluten free organic oats, coconut sugar, sea salt, dairy free butter, and diced walnuts.

All in all, Thanksgiving turned out very well.

And of course, the absolute best part was being back in our home town and being able to celebrate and visit with family. And for that, we will be forever thankful.

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On Friday we managed to drag ourselves out of bed, hit Starbuck’s and take the dogs for a walk.

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Still so thankful for the wide open spaces here at home.

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New Hampshire has a dense forested beauty all its own, but boy did we miss the mountains and pine trees of Washington.

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Nothing quite like your fur babies peering over the edge of a cliff to wake you from your turkey fog.

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 Yesterday we woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed ready to head to Camden Ranch and cut tree number two.

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Perk #10,453 of being an adult…you can have as many Christmas trees as you want. Cutting our tree at Camden Ranch was our tradition for many years until we moved to New Hampshire for the past two years. It’s hard to believe that last year we were 3,000 miles from here cutting our Christmas tree in Maine!

Tree #1 is 7.5 feet tall and this tree that Tony is cutting for tree #2 is 11 feet tall!

Tree #1 is 7.5 feet tall and this tree that Tony is cutting for tree #2 is 11 feet tall!

Their property is huge and there are thousands upon thousands of trees to choose from. Different types and sizes.

Their property is huge and there are thousands of trees to choose from. Different types and sizes.

You cut your own tree with saws provided, bring it down to the road...sometimes not an easy feat! Then they tag it, give you a receipt and haul it down to the barn to shake it, bale it, and load it into your vehicle for you.

You cut your own tree with saws provided, bring it down to the road…sometimes not an easy feat when you’re carrying an 11 foot tree! Then they tag it, give you a receipt and haul it down to the barn to shake it, bale it, and load it into your vehicle for you.

They also give you a ride to and from the cutting area if you don't want to walk. There are bonfires at each end to keep you warm.

They also give you a ride to and from the cutting area if you don’t want to walk. There are bonfires at each end to keep you warm.

Tony having a cup of their complimentary hot cider.

Tony having a cup of their complimentary hot cider.

They have a very nice holiday gift shop with all kinds of decorative and edible fun things.

They have a very nice holiday gift shop with all kinds of decorative and edible fun things.

This gal is working on a fresh wreath for our front door. This is in the entrance of the gift shop and smells absolutely amazing.

This gal is working on a fresh wreath for our front door. This is in the entrance of the gift shop and smells absolutely amazing. They were very sweet and helpful with advice on which wreath would look the best with the color of our front door.

Right here in their gorgeous "barn" where they also host all kinds of events like weddings and parties, is where they shake the loose needles out of the trees with a machine and then bale the trees.

Right here in their gorgeous “barn” where they also host all kinds of events like weddings and parties, is where they shake the loose needles out of the trees with a machine and then bale the trees.

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I would say this tree will definitely be a focal point...ha They always end up being so much bigger when you get them in the house.

I would say this tree will definitely be a focal point…ha They always end up being so much bigger when you get them in the house.

 I may regret having two trees when it comes time to put everything away, but for now, they’re gorgeous and add so much Christmas spirit to the house.

This is what 1,950 lights looks like.

This is what 1,950 lights looks like.

After getting the tree arranged and the lights on last night we decided we’d made it to the end of our energy and would finish decorating it today.

I made a quick meal to tide us over until morning and we spent the rest of the evening relaxing in front of the fire watching movies.

Chebe Foccacia Mix (Paleo), vegan pesto, organic tomato paste, goat mozzarella, and goat parmesan.

Chebe Foccacia Mix, vegan pesto, organic tomato paste, Diaya cheddar, goat mozzarella, and goat parmesan.

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And finally, some rest and relaxation. Romeo has made it clear he doesn’t want me getting up and going anywhere.

Lastly, one of the many things I’m thankful for is you! I am thankful you enjoy the blog and are always so kind and supportive!

Hope you have a restful, wonderful, week ahead that is full of blessings and endless reasons to give thanks.

Week In Review

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Monday is here again!

I hope last week went well and your weekend was peaceful, fruitful, and relaxing…as all weekends should be!

A hike in the hills behind our house.

A hike in the hills behind our house.

Our week was a bit hectic with this’s and that’s, Tony traveling here and there for interviews, and a couple of days of us both feeling under the weather. But we still managed to make the most of it.

Friday night we had breakfast for dinner...because bacon is fabulous any time of day.

Friday night we had breakfast for dinner…because bacon is fabulous any time of day.

We had a lovely, relaxing weekend.

Sunday morning breakfast.

Sunday morning breakfast. Sausage and egg scramble with spinach and tomatoes.

Sunday night's dinner grill.

Saturday night’s dinner grill. Grilled veggies with chicken & spinach sausages.

Mornings are getting chilly.

Abigail thinks the mornings are too chilly.

We got some fantastic Monday morning news.

 My husband has accepted an offer with a company and is now once again, employed!

Sunday night's dinner theme, "Go big or go home."

Sunday night’s dinner theme, “Go big or go home.”

It’s been a mixed blessing having Tony out of a job. You may think I’m crazy for thinking being unemployed has been a blessing.

There’s been oodles of stress of course, as we’ve been through so much change over the past three years. But on the other hand, its been an amazing experience to be given the opportunity to step off the merry-go-round and make some important decisions about what we want our lives to look like from here forward. I ran across this quote and I loved it. Because I will tell you with certainty, that no matter what kind of struggles you face, life is packed full of all kinds of blessings all day, every day.

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Tony typically travels for work, so with him home, we’ve been able to spend and incredible amount of quality time together. It has been fabulous!

There''s a big rock in the hills behind our property that he has dubbed "smoking rock". Gorgeous views.

There’s a big rock in the hills behind our property that he’s dubbed the “smoking rock”.

The biggest blessing to come out of this crazy life we’ve had for the last couple of years?

The view of our neighborhood from "smoking rock". The neighbors probably think we are looney tunes.

The view of our neighborhood from the “smoking rock”.

Time. 

The Free Dictionary calls it, “a period at one’s disposal”. And let me tell you, it’s been heavenly.

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They say you can never have more of it, but I disagree.

You have to learn to live in the moment and appreciate that experience. That’s the key to making the most of the time we’re given. Just by focusing on the moment, you create the feeling and enjoyment of more time.

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So we’ve been focused on soaking up the moments, whatever that may bring.

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Our leap of faith to make changes in our life has come back to us tenfold. Being able to focus on what is important makes for a richer, deeper, more incredible life experience. Has it been easy to make a whole heap of life changing decisions? Of course not. Life is not unicorns and rainbows, I don’t need to tell you that!

But, it has been so unbelievably rewarding in so many ways, I wouldn’t trade the stress or uncertainty for anything.

Catching up and visiting with friends.

Catching up and visiting with friends.

Soon we’ll have to get back into the swing of things and learn to manage our time differently again with Tony going back to work. But we’ll take these life lessons we’ve learned over the years and apply them for a more fruitful experience. That’s what so much of life is about. Learning. Learning to tweak and mold and fight for what you want so that you can experience the absolute best of what you’ve been given.

I’m certainly no expert on life, but if I had to give one piece of advice it would be this:

No matter what, take that leap of faith.

My two favorite men in the entire world.

My two favorite men in the entire world.

We’re looking forward to what the next chapter will bring!

Many blessings to you in the week ahead.

~ April

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My Corner of The World ~ Labor Day Weekend

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Everyone is enjoying spending time on the patio and loving the grassy back yard.

This is our cat, Chloe. She doesn’t get much camera time because she’s kind of a snot. But loving in her own way. Basically, she loves you when she feels like it and you’re allowed to scratch the top of her head for 3.5 seconds before she gets totally annoyed with your presence.

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These two of course love to love people and typically you can hug them, kiss them, and love on them as much as you want.

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They look like they’re fighting, and sometimes sound like it too. But it’s all just fun and games; they live for fun and games.

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Even the back yard Hawk came for a visit. Someday I’m hoping he’ll land on our fence-line so I can get a proper picture.

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I love watching the dogs watch the birds. They’re so observant! Especially Abigail. Romeo is usually preoccupied with making sure the bees aren’t after him.

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Did I tell you the fence gates are finally up? Yep, but not without that irritating dance we’ve become accustomed to with that company.

Make an appointment but don’t show up…one two three…we have to track them down…and one two three four…then make excuses….and twirl your partner…two three four…and then install it like a 10 year old did it…this is the point when you hear the needle scratch the record and the dance inevitably gets ugly.

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Yes the gates are up but…this one shouldn’t have a black frame, it should be powder coated to match the rest of the fence. And what’s with the major gap between the post and gate? This company really makes us appreciate Monadnock Fence in New Hampshire. They were so professional and did such a fantastic job on the fencing with that house. Too bad they don’t travel…

So for now we’re stuck with the current fencing company which shall go unnamed because honestly, I don’t want to promote them in any way, positive or negative. There are scratches all over the fence and the big double gate in front.

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Now, some may think we’re being too picky I suppose. Maybe people like scratches and dents on their new, very expensive, fence?

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Some of the bolts are in so tight they dented the fencing…along with scratching off all the paint and scratching the surrounding area. Attention to detail is not their strong point.

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Prior to this handiwork, Tony had to listen to the installer whine about how understaffed and over worked they are. And how somehow he just never gets the emails or messages his boss leaves him that he’s supposed to be at our house working on the fence. This of course is after he didn’t show up for our appointment to hang the gates, then rescheduled for the next day. The next day rolled around…and guess who wasn’t here? So Tony called him and that’s when the missed message excuses started and finally the guy wanted to reschedule again. Well, Tony had finally had enough.

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He hung up on him.

Yep. I was surprised too. Finally, someone willing to put their foot down besides me. Of course the worker called him right back. Maybe getting the hint that we are at our wits end. You would think that’s the case. So he showed up after all and installed the gates. But later when we walked the fence and looked at everything, we noticed all of the scratches, dents, and otherwise really crappy craftsmanship.

Do all of these scratches, and scraped paint look like a new fence to you? Me either.

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Tony had to put in another call to the job foreman “discuss” all the areas of concern last week. They played phone tag a couple of times and Tony let him know he’d be here all week and wanted them to make an appointment to come out here to talk about the fence.

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We also have not paid the second half of the cost of the fence which you would think would be a motivator to get them out here. But guess what? It’s now Saturday…the call went out on Tuesday…and nothing. I can already see where this customer service road is leading us. They could care less.

This is where you have to constantly remind yourself to count to 10 and take deep breaths and all that happy inner child bull$hit.  And stop trying to mull over in your head why such a popular fence company in this area has such incredibly negligent customer service. Because really, you’ll drive yourself mad with all the thoughts of “if this were my company I would…” and “why would someone scratch that all up like that?” and “why are they not out here taking care of this?” and finally, the inevitable shaking of your head and the “what THE HELL look?”…anyway, I guess this story is to-be-continued, unfortunately.

Luckily we had other more enjoyable things to concentrate on.

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My husband is a hang glider. Have I told you that? He’s checking the wind speed.

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He talked me into going with him last week and “helping” him launch.  It’s necessary to have someone to keep your wings steady when you’re getting ready to launch, because it’s typically windy.

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Set up and safety checks are extensive and took about 35 minutes or so. Not easy on a hill like that…in strong winds.

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Now, keep in mind, I’m not the adventurous one in this relationship. I like little adventures like road trips, trying new restaurants, reading, and being a food blogger. Strapping wings to my body and running off the side of a mountain?

That will never happen.

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In fact at this point, it was so windy and just the thought of watching him run off that mountain made my stomach feel sick. Call me un-adventurous or paranoid if you like, but I know a storm when I see one coming.

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Apparently in flying there’s some kind of mathematical formula for wind and force. When it’s windy, the gusts are 4 times that speed in force….or something like that. So I kept asking…”are you sure it’s safe, it’s awfully windy?” The wind was coming in at 18 miles an hour. The gusts were extremely powerful.

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Wanting to be as positive as possible and not an un-adventurous negative nelly…I just tried my hardest to follow his directions and be of help. And I prayed. I did A LOT of praying.

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My job was to hold the hang glider down so it didn’t take off without him. That’s how windy it was. And it was not easy.  I am 5′ 4″ and although I’m not as skinny as I used to be, I am not a big person. The glider is at least 20 feet wide from tip to tip and weighs around 58 pounds. It’s awkward. Similar to holding an umbrella in a massive wind storm except bigger and heavier.

So he strapped into his flight suit and clicked into the glider and we had to wait for the perfect wind and not so many gusts. I had to stand on the bar to hold it down, because once he’s clicked in, if he gets a gust and it’s not under control…off he goes, unprepared, and it could end up with an ugly outcome.

Sounds like great fun, doesn’t it?

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We watched the weather which was getting increasingly worse and more than once, the glider tried to take off with both of us.

At the point where it lifted me completely off the ground, I finally had to tell the truth. My knees were shaking, my stomach was sick, I’d had a full body workout…and finally I admitted, “I am NOT comfortable with this.”

Luckily, we work pretty well as a team and he agreed. The weather was too crazy. So we had a few hairy moments as he clicked himself off the glider, got it turned around so it wouldn’t take off, and then began to tear it back down in the wind.

I’m not a fan of watching the people I love do dangerous things.

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There will be many more opportunities to fly in safer weather…and hopefully with a stronger helper than me. I did get some really beautiful pictures though.

We are still feeling so blessed to be back home.

We loved so much about New Hampshire, but we really missed the wide open spaces of Washing state!

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Moose like to hang out in that little area of dense trees at the bottom of the mountain.

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Farmland as far as the eye can see.

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The glider is so long the front of it rests on the dashboard.

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One last check just to see what the wind speed looks like before we head back home.

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Say Goodbye to The Dirt ~ My Corner of The World

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The majority of the landscaping for this season has been completed.  What a relief!

Remember the cracked driveway I told you about? (The fence workers drove their big truck on our driveway and broke the concrete.) That has one more day of dry time before we can drive on it.

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That machine is unbelievably loud. Prior to removing the whole square of concrete, they tried to drill out the crack and patch it. Not even two weeks later it cracked again so the fence company had to foot the bill for the entire section to be replaced. I’m betting they were not happy about it.

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These are the cement guys that handle all of our builder’s cement needs. Just so happens, I recognized the one in the red baseball cap who owns the cement company. We went to junior high and high school together! It’s been fun visiting with him over the past several weeks when he’s working in the neighborhood.

Right after this picture, Skip realized that they didn’t bring him the amount of “mud” he requested. Evidently, they charged him for it though. Then they had to wait for more and then they were going to charge him another delivery fee of $250! Well, after a lot of colorful language was spoken, they brought him a second load of what he ordered with no charge.

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Once the cement on the driveway was poured the landscapers got started.

Sprinklers lines being dug. That’s Jamal, he was our favorite. The whole landscaping crew was great, but he was here first and left last every day and had a keen eye for detail. He is also just a genuinely, nice, guy.

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Top soil and boulders for the terraced area and yard.

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We called Matt and Ken the “rock whisperers”. They knew just how to maneuver the fork lift prongs on that machine to spin all the rocks so they would have their best face forward.

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Contemplating where the best place would be to start the concrete curbing on the side of the house. It breaks easily if run over by a car and is $250 to have the curb guy come out and fix it.

We’d like to avoid that.

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More contemplating and the beginning of one of the beds. Tony and I purchased and planted all of the trees, bushes, plants, and flowers. We worked as a team with the landscapers and it worked out very well. Saved some big $$$$ by purchasing and planting our own greenery.

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Men seem to do a lot of contemplating. I knew exactly what I wanted and where I wanted it.

Women are weird like that.

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The house came with front landscaping but we felt it needed a little tweaking . We removed a few things that didn’t look like they would make it through the winter and added two trees and a few bushes and flowers.

I am in love with these two trees. I love their “uniqueness”. The nursery lady suggested I name them.

I may just do that. Is that weird?

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This is a Weeping Atlantic Cedar.

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And this is a Topiary Pine…but I can’t remember what type.

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These are the curbing guys. What none of us know at this point of my picture taking is that their FIVE hours of hard work will be destroyed by a massive rain storm three minutes after they drive out of our neighborhood.

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You can see the storm brewing…

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I asked him about the sky, but he said, “a few sprinkles won’t hurt”.

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We got more than just a few sprinkles and all of the edging was destroyed. They had to return the next day, dig all of it up and replace it.

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I spared him photo taking on the second day. I figured when he returned to replace all of their hard work on his weekend off, it was probably the last place he wanted to be. So I stayed in the house and kept my camera off and my mouth shut.

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Once the majority of the beds were in, greenery planted, and new edging was dry, they started placing the sod.

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Finishing touches were made to the beds, sprinklers were adjusted, drainage ditches were dug along the driveway, and the  gravel for the parking space for our trailer on the side of the house was completed.

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More men contemplating.

Nick on the far left, Tony my husband in the middle, and Jamal on the right.

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Then flagstone was brought in for the path to the future hot tub and the small terraced corner.

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Jamal cutting out grass for the flagstone path.

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I think all landscaping was accomplished in under 10 days.

To the right is a Maple Leaf Hydrangea. Gorgeous. I can’t wait until next year to see what it can really do.

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All of the hills beside us and behind us were sold by a local farmer (right next door) to the county for walking trails. We’re blessed to be able to enjoy that view every day and the wild life that goes along with it.

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Two Magnolia trees (Alexandria Magnolia), and a Fernleaf Buckthorne in the corner.

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A Flowering Cherry (Little Twist Cherry) that will only grow to be about 6-8 feed wide at the top…we’ll see. The area with hose and gravel will be the home for the hot tub.

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A Bloodgood Japanese Maple. Right now up close it looks like it’s in shock. Hopefully it will perk up. If not, we have a one year warranty on all the trees. Phew.

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A Crabapple tree (Prairifire Crabapple).

All the trees in the backyard are flowering trees with the exception of the Buckthorne.

A beautiful water feature will go in on the left side of this bed next spring.

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The tree in this bed is a Vanderwolf’s Pyramid Pine Tree. It will grow to be 35 feet tall and will live for at least 100 years.

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Gates go up this sometime this week.

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Then we’ll get our trailer out of storage and pray that it fits in the space its supposed to. Behind that fence post and future gates.

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Another gate will go on this end and they’ll finish off the fence.

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So all in all, working with our landscaping crew was an enjoyable experience. I actually kind of miss not having the hubbub going on outside and their funny personalities here every day.

Enjoying our coffee and tea on the patio and not having to deal with a dirt backyard and filthy dogs?

Priceless.

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