Time To Rest & Reflect ~ My Corner Of The World

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2015-12-15 20.32.21

Another Christmas has come and gone.

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I am always a little sad about it as it’s my favorite time of year.

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I’ve even started decorating prior to Thanksgiving to try to stretch it out as long as possible.

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The snow, the music, the baking, the shopping, the decorations and just the whole feel of such a peaceful and joyous holiday should last more than a month, I think.

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I’m always saddened to hear there are people who don’t like it, or have a hard time with it.

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Sometimes I think it really is just as simple as “it’s all what you make of it”.

If you don’t like certain things about it, change it up.

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Make new traditions! Make it whatever you want, with whomever you want.

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Make it big or little or travel or stay.

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And yes it’s work and yes there’s a lot involved and yes, you’ll more than likely be whooped afterward like I am.

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But it’s a good tired.

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When you’re tired from having fun and baking and making things that people love, and spending time with friends and family, and enjoying the hubbub of the holiday, it’s a good tired. There are many worse ways to be tired.

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With the festivities over and everything winding down, now it’s time to rest for the New Year.

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I love fresh beginnings.

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Take a little time to yourself before the New Year.

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Take a little time to reflect.

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What did you love about the last year?

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What will you do differently next year?

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What do you look forward to?

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What will you do to be happier and healthier?

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Jot them down so you don’t forget. Place them someplace special where you’ll see them.

There’s been studies done since the 30’s that show that if you share your goals and resolutions with other people, you’re less likely to fulfill them.

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Doesn’t seem to make sense I know, but it’s best to wrap them up and keep quiet, and then celebrate with your favorite people when you’ve reached each one.

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Don’t do too many, just a few based on your reflections on the past year. Only things that are truly important.

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If we’re lucky, over the past year, we’ve learned a few good things we can take with us into the New Year.

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Even if it was a tough year, if you look closely, there’s always blessings and good lessons.

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So.

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Many.

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Blessings. 

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If you and I had kept track of every single little blessing over the past year, we would run out of places to put them. They pile up even when we’re not noticing.

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It’s all about perspective.

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I hope your holiday season was filled with fun and good food and  a lot of love.

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And beauty.

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And peace.

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For the New Year, I wish you health, overwhelming amounts of joy, and growth, and goals fulfilled, rest, and peace overflowing. That your eyes will be opened to all the good even in difficult times, that your worries will be few and your celebrations abundant.

~ April xoxo

2015-12-26 10.25.00

Merry Christmas Eve

9 Comments

2015-12-24 11.00.17

It’s 11:00….AM and I’m drinking a margarita and snacking on Christmas cookies.

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Someone has to test the cocktails before Christmas brunch tomorrow! We wouldn’t want to set out a disappointing cocktail.

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Food prep is well underway, the house is being straightened, last-minute gifts have been wrapped and everything outside is covered in a gorgeous, pristine white, blanket of snow. We will be having a white Christmas for the first time since moving back to Washington.

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We have a lot to be thankful for this Christmas and we look forward to a happy and healthy New Year.

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Blessings to you and yours and may your Christmas be peaceful and joyful and filled with the people you love. ~ April 

Grapefruit Margarita

Silver Tequila

Simply Grapefruit Juice

Simply Lime Juice

Perrier

Grapefruit & Lime Slices

Coconut Sugar

Sea Salt

True Lime Crystallized Lime

I didn’t really measure….it depends on how many you’re serving. I made a big glass pitcher. I’d say about 2 Cups of tequila, 3/4 jug of grapefruit juice, and 1/2 a jug of lime juice. I made mine yesterday, so it will “marinate” in the fridge until brunch tomorrow. Then when I’m ready to serve it I’ll rim the glasses with a mixture of coconut sugar, sea salt, and the crystallized lime. Put a good amount of ice in a tumbler, fill 3/4 of the way with the tequila mixture and then top off with Perrier. Add a wedge of grapefruit and a wedge of lime to the glass.

Enjoy!

Toasted Coconut Pecan Toffee

3 Comments

2015-12-21 14.13.04

I’m knee-deep in Christmas preparations but never too busy to make a few favorites. I love the Christmas holiday and I look forward to the family traditions we’ve established over the years. One one of them of course, is holiday goodies. This year I veered off the grain free path to make our favorite gluten-free and dairy free gingerbread, sugar cookies, and pie dough cookies.

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I usually make a few different types of candy but just wanted to stick to one this year (maybe two if I have extra time) and settled on toffee. I really wanted to try to use coconut sugar as much as possible in the baking this year as it is one of healthier forms of unrefined sugar.

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I don’t have many toffee prep pictures for you because I burned the 1st batch so I kept an eagle eye on the 2nd batch and kept my spoon moving which made it impossible to take prep pictures. The first batch I didn’t add water and I cooked it the traditional way. Once it started boiling I didn’t stir it and allowed it to get to 280 or so. One second it was looking fantastic and I was sending pictures to my friend Kelly in Florida and to my husband where he was getting the car repaired….and the next second it was smoking and completely separated. It turned ugly very quickly. That’s what I get I guess for sending out pictures and boasting about my beautiful toffee!

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So the second batch I added a little water and stirred it the entire time. I also stayed off the phone and didn’t pay much attention to the thermometer. I just eyeballed it and about 10 seconds before I felt it was going to get too thick and burn I whisked it off the burner and poured it into the pan. Less than 8 minutes from the beginning of when it began to boil. Then I topped it with dairy free mini chocolate chips and toasted coconut and pecans and crossed my fingers that it would set up properly. Thankfully, it was a success and tastes wonderful! The coconut sugar gives it an extra strong toffee flavor and the color is a deep and rich, velvety brown.

Great for snacking and beautiful for gift giving.

Toasted Coconut Pecan Toffee

About 1/4 Cup of Unsweetened Shredded Coconut

About 1/3 Cup of Chopped Pecans

1 Cup of Dairy Free Butter

1 1/3 Cups of Coconut Sugar

1 Tablespoon of Water

1/4 teaspoon of Sea Salt

1/2 Cup of Miniature Dairy Free Chocolate Chips

Measure the coconut and chopped pecans into a large skillet and toast on medium heat until the coconut is golden and you can smell the nuts toasting. Set aside. Line a small baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

In a heavy pan or dutch oven, measure the sugar, butter, water, and salt. Heat on medium stirring constantly. It will take a couple of minutes for the sugar and butter to incorporate. Once it starts boiling, keep a good eye on it and stir it the entire time. You can use a thermometer but with the first batch I did, it was clear that coconut sugar and dairy free butter don’t need to get up to 280 to form toffee and if they do, they will likely burn and separate. I removed mine from the burner when it was getting very thick to the point where my spoon marks were remaining in the mixture as I stirred.

At the point where you pour it out of the pan, you’re going to have to work very quickly. Pour it and then pick up the pan to spread it around. Don’t use a spoon or spatula as it will glob up and stick. Then, sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top, wait for about 3 minutes and spread them out over the top of the toffee. Sprinkle with the coconut and pecan mixture and chill for 20-30 minutes to set.

2015-12-21 14.13.04

Chocolate Chip Gingersnaps

7 Comments

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I love gingersnaps and so does my husband. Especially this snowy time of year with a good cup of tea and a bit of coconut milk. I try to have a homemade treat available to snack on when he returns from traveling for work and this time it’s grain free gingersnaps.

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I’m working on creating more and more grain free recipes as even gluten free grains don’t agree with me much these days. If you’re just looking for a gluten free gingersnap recipe, you can find another very tasty one HERE.

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It took a couple attempts to make these work. Grain free baking is a challenge! With a few tweaks, the second batch turned out fantastic in texture and taste.

Crisp on the outside and chewy in the middle, and so aromatic. Your house will smell wonderful after you’ve baked them!

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Grain Free Chocolate Chip Gingersnaps

*Makes about 2o cookies

1/4 Cup of Spectrum Shortening

3/4 Cup of Coconut Sugar

1 Egg

4 Tablespoons of Unsulphured Molasses

2 teaspoons of Pure Vanilla Extract

1 teaspoon of Baking Soda

1/4 teaspoon of Sea Salt

1 1/2 teaspoons of Ground Ginger

1 1/2 teaspoons of Ground Cinnamon

1 teaspoon of Ground Cloves

1 Cup of Sweet Potato Flour

1/4 Cup of Arrowroot

1/2 Cup of Coconut Flour

1/4 Cup of Dairy Free Mini Chocolate Chips

Extra Coconut Sugar For Rolling & Pressing

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment.

Place 2 Tablespoons of coconut sugar onto a small plate and set aside. In a mixer, beat the shortening until fluffy and scrape down bowl. Add the sugar and mix until combined. Add the egg, molasses, vanilla, baking soda, sea salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. Mix until thoroughly combined. Add the sweet potato flour, arrowroot, and coconut flour and mix until thoroughly incorporated. Add the chocolate chips and mix until distributed. 

Refrigerate dough for 1 hour. Roll into balls, then roll in coconut sugar and press down with a fork.

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Bake for 7-9 minutes until golden and allow to rest on baking sheet for 3 minutes before removing with a spatula to a cooling rack.

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Incredibly Easy Instant Pot Pork Ribs

6 Comments

2015-12-16 18.11.56

I’m in love with the Instant Pot. What more can I really say?

And no, they aren’t paying me to promote their product. It’s just that good. Although I wouldn’t argue if they wanted to.

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I’ve been battling the flu or a flare or something, and yesterday I used all my energy so by dinner time, I felt like death. But as most of you ladies out there know, people still need to eat whether you feel like death or not.

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That’s where the Instant Pot comes in very handy. Normally, I would slow bake and baste the ribs in the oven for three hours, then, either put them on the grill with extra sauce or under the broiler to finish. But with the Instant Pot, it took exactly 40 minutes from beginning to end and I also made a huge salad and homemade salad dressing in that time.

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I didn’t miss the three hours of basting, broiling, or grilling, either. The ribs were delicious! Tender and extremely flavorful.

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I’ll take 40 minutes over three hours of waiting and basting and grilling or broiling any time.

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Incredibly Easy Instant Pot Pork Ribs

1 Rack of Pork Ribs

1/2 of a Large Onion Sliced

2 Cloves of Garlic, minced

1 1/2 Bottles of Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey Chipotle BBQ Sauce

A Couple Pinches of Sea Salt

A Few Grinds Of Pepper

Arrowroot Powder

Place the onion and garlic in the Instant Pot. Pour half of the BBQ sauce over the onions. Cut the ribs into two’s or three’s and layer on top of the onion and garlic. Season with salt & Pepper. Pour remaining BBQ sauce over the ribs.

Put the lid on and secure it. Make sure the pressure valve is closed. Click the meat setting and increase to 35 minutes. I don’t like the meat to be completely falling of the ribs, just nice and tender. If you want your meat to fall of the ribs, then I would increase the cooking time to 40-43 minutes.

When the timer goes off, release the steam, and remove the ribs to a plate and cover with foil. (After removing the ribs I laid a paper towel lightly over the top of the sauce to wick up any unwanted fat. Do it quickly and then just toss. So much easier than trying to skim it off!)

Next, click the saute button, the sauce will come to a boil quickly. Mix a couple of teaspoons of arrowroot powder in about 1/8 cup of water and stir well. Drizzle slowly (about 1/2) into the BBQ sauce while stirring. Add the remainder of the arrowroot mixture only if it needs more thickening. Turn off the Instant Pot and serve.

Easy!!

2015-12-16 18.11.56

Headache & Migraine Relief Roller

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You may be one of the lucky few who never suffer from an occasional headache or migraine. If that’s so, you can also use this essential oil combination for sore, tense muscles, and nausea.

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But, for those of us who do have those dreadful headaches, we’re always happy to have something we can either take or put on to help us get through it. I like to rotate hot and cold packs, take a shower with a few drops of essential oils, and rub a little of my Headache & Migraine Relief on the back of my neck, temples, and forehead.

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I find the scent amazingly calming and it’s full of oils that help with pain, inflammation, and nausea.

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And although these rollers are very small, just a tiny bit goes a long way. High quality essential oils are extremely concentrated and if you choose to use any of my oil recipes on your children, do so with caution and dilute even further.

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Essential oils have some really amazing benefits. I’m always excited to research them on my phone app or in one of the huge manuals I purchased. There’s an oil for everything! And why wouldn’t we want to try something pure and natural before we head to the doctor just to be given medications with a laundry list of unsettling side effects? Another huge benefit is that you can make your own remedies using the oils that most suit you and your family.

People are very particular about the oils they use. When you make your own combination remedies, you don’t have to worry about wasting money on oil mixtures you may not like. There are many oils that I don’t like! It’s nice to have a stock of my own favorites to get creative with.

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I use essential oils in lotion, body oils, lip balm, in our humidifier, in my plants when I water, when I clean, in my vacuum cleaner, on wounds, on acne, for body aches, in the shower to ease brain fog, for nausea, for headaches, for mouth bacteria, for colds, for disinfecting, for air purifying, when I change the bed sheets, in the laundry….you name it!

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Here’s a list of the oil benefits in my Headache & Migraine Relief Roller:

German Chamomile is said to easy nervous tension, ease upset stomach, eases muscle tension, is anti inflammatory, and promotes rest.

Vetiver is said to help calm the body, reduce stress, reduce nervousness, improve circulation, and is anti inflammatory.

Eucalyptus Globulous is said to ease muscle aches and pains, boost the immune system and is anti inflammatory.

Lemon is said to reduce stress, improve circulation, reduce anxiety, it’s anti inflammatory, promotes rest, and is detoxifying.

Peppermint is said to give a cooling effect, is calming, relieves pain, is an anti inflammatory, helps with nausea and muscle tension.

Frankincense is said to ease nervous tension, ease anxiety and depression, it’s anti inflammatory, and stimulates the immune system

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Headache & Migraine Relief Roller

**The essential oils are drops per bottle & I use high quality Young Living Oils**

6 – 1/8 oz Clear Mini Glass Roll On Bottles

1 Drop of German Chamomile Essential Oil

3 Drops of Vetiver Essential Oil

15 Drops of Eucalyptus Globulous Essential Oil

4 Drops of Lemon Essential Oil

15 Drops of Peppermint Essential Oil

2 Drops of Frankincense Essential Oil

Organic Jojoba Oil

Add the drops to each bottle and fill the remainder with organic jojoba oil. Shake well.

Instructions: Roll a small amount onto back of neck, temples & forehead (avoiding eyes!). Roll a small amount into palm, rub hands together, and cup in front of nose. Breathe in for 30 seconds.

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Slumber Bedtime Potion

4 Comments

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I’m happy to say I survived four days of granola and nuts. I don’t get along with nuts and grains very well.

We have a love hate relationship.

I love them, and they hate me.

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I tied and labeled the last of it a couple days ago and after snacking on them two days in a row, by bed time I had grandma ankles and had to pry my rings off my fingers with lotion.

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But I have to admit, old lady ankles and swollen fingers were worth a few handfuls of candied almonds and caramelized walnuts and pecans.

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 I’m thankful they’re tied up now though because I’m not sure I could keep my hands off of them otherwise.

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With the granola wrapped and ready to go, I’m moving on to a relaxing bed time oil you can make for your feet and hands. There’s nothing better after a quieting tub than slipping into your favorite nightwear, crawling into a cozy bed, and giving yourself a little foot and hand massage.

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It works the parts we use most during the day, and it prepares your body for rest.

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You could use anything for the massage of course, but I’ve created something extra special for you.

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A combination of soothing, wonderful smelling, stress reducing, pain relieving, sleep enhancing, essential oils.

Rest well!

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High quality essential oils are extremely concentrated and if you choose to use any of my oil recipes on your children, they should be diluted even further with a carrier oil. For children under 12, I would simply do a 1/4 teaspoon of carrier oil (jojoba, olive, coconut) to 1 drop of the mixed oils.

Slumber Bedtime Potion

**The essential oils are drops per bottle & I use high quality Young Living Oils**

6 Glass Bottles with Droppers (1 oz) 

6 Drops of Lavender Essential Oil

4 Drops of Frankincense Essential Oil

3 Drops of German Chamomile Essential Oil

4 Drops of Valor Essential Oil

3 Drops of Cedarwood Essential Oil

4 Drops of Copaiba Essential Oil

2 Drops of Eucalyptus Globulous Essential Oil

Organic Jojoba Oil

Add the drops to each bottle and fill remainder with organic jojoba oil. Shake Well.

Instructions: Massage a few drops (only a few are needed!) of oil into hands and feet at bedtime.

Scroll down for the benefits of all the oils used in my Slumber Bedtime Potion.

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Essential Oil Benefits:

Lavender ~ Calms nerves, mood balancing, restful sleep, eases dry irritated skin, allergy relief, aids in burn healing, eases sunburn pain.

Frankincense ~ Eases nervous tension, eases anxiety and depression, anti inflammatory, stimulates immune system, eases restless leg, disinfects cuts & wounds, eases arthritis, eases allergies, promotes healthy skin

German Chamomile ~ Eases nervous tension, eases upset stomach, antibacterial, anti inflammatory, promotes sleep, eases muscle tension, promotes skin health.

Valor ~ Calming, eases anxiety, eases joint pain, eases tension headaches, eases snoring, eases sciatic pain and joint pain.

Cedarwood ~ Supports the lymph system, eases anxiety, eases insomnia, antibacterial, eases respiratory issues, aids sleep.

Copaiba ~ Relieves pain, anti inflammatory, aids in digestion, eases joint stiffness, eases aches, antibacterial, aids circulation.

Eucalyptus Globulous ~ Eases muscle aches, cough suppressant, boosts the immune system, anti inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, decongestant.