DIAMONDS IN WINTER

“ALLOW GOD TO USE THE DIFFICULTIES AND DISAPPOINTMENTS IN LIFE AS POLISH TO TRANSFORM YOUR FAITH INTO A GLISTENING DIAMOND THAT TAKES IN AND REFLECTS HIS LOVE.”

ELIZABETH GEORGE

Rays of sunlight turned the icicles hanging from a tree into a sparkling jewel against the creek’s green froth. The frozen tree tips had turned an average outing into an illustration of God’s steps to make me sparkle. Hadn’t I asked him enough times to make me a shining example of his love?

The fanciful sight may have been hidden to me had I not been picking my way through the icy side of the waterway as I walked our golden/rottie mix on a break from being indoors that day.

The slush covered dirt pathway made it tricky to traverse the narrow path of the Monocacy Trail.

But, warmer temps and blue skies were too much of a draw for me to venture out with our housebound pet. Had I not stopped to look more closely at the natural wonder, I would have missed out on the pristine picture right by my side.

Winter Seasons are times when we see little movement in our heart’s desires or our unanswered prayers. They can be times of great temptation to be discouraged, depressed or lethargic in doing what we know is right.

Some of the questions I have asked during my winter time are “where are you God?” “What did I do wrong?” and “Please make it stop.”

The last statement may sound exaggerated, but, as I’ve been in that time of seeing little fruit for the hard work of my labor, it has not been fun.

So, these clear crystals hung swaying just above the turbulent white ripples of the high waters in our creek. These nature’s gems stood out to me in the size of the orbs first of all. They must have been hanging out there for some time forming layer after layer of water build-up to produce the golfball sized orbs.

And, then when the wind caught them in a spinning dance, how the light sparkled off of them. They appeared to be diamonds.

The illustration reminds me that even when the landscape of my life seems to bear no fruit or, the work of my hands appear to be for nothing. All of the hardship I’ve experienced during this time like the turbulent waters, freezing winds and harsh elements are actually forming a cluster of treasures. I only needed to open my eyes to see.

A BREADMASTER'S TIPS FOR BAKING HEALTHY LEAN ARTISAN BREAD

I spent yesterday afternoon in the french country kitchen of a bread master. Between the chickens, beehives and vegetable garden right outside the  patio door, my brother and his wife 

have the DIY thing down to a science. Together, they make Chip and Joanna Gaines look like DIY amateurs. 

I figured if I spent some time there by the new year I’d be making bread like a boss.

As Bill mixed and waited and baked and waited I drank herbal tea and snacked on a tray of healthy baked goods Sherry had made. 

The room filled with the yeasty scent of baking bread and we chatted about the science of  creating the lean dough for artisan bread. As Sherry stated, creating the perfect healthy mixture for the dough and baking it into a crispy crust with a porous inside is an art form.

And as a thank you to my faithful readers, I wanted to share my twin’s secrets on how to make a great loaf of delicious homemade bread. 

Like any other good thing in life start with a good quality flour. Bill used a mix of Jovial flour, Organic sprouted spelt flour and whole wheat. One cup each.

He recommends using an electric mixer vs. kneading to save the extra time and trouble. 

Next pour one cup of warm water into the empty mixer. Add 2 tsp. of quality active dry yeast into the water. Activate the yeast with a “dash” of sugar, honey or maple syrup and wait from 3 - 5 minutes for it to bubble. 

When the yeast is happy and bubbly add the 3 cups of flour. Sound like fun? It is. Here’s one of the master bread maker’s secrets ~ when you add 2 tsp of salt do not allow it to touch the yeast. Apparently, this will kill the yeast action and cause the dough to lose it’s “rise.
Next, turn the mixer on low with your bread hook secured and watch the dough take shape. 

As the wet flour shapes into a ball begin to add more water a tsp at a time until the dough pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl. This takes patience and time. Another tip from the bread master ~ the wetter the dough the fluffier the bread. However, the wetter the dough the stickier your flour mixture will be. The mixer should be going about 10 minutes until the lean dough is ready.

Jovial flour and spelt flour produce a low gluten bread. If you’re like me, the less gluten in bread the happier my tummy will be. So be careful to develop the gluten in the above mixing process by testing the elasticity of your bread dough. If it breaks easily when pulled it’s not ready.

Now, cover the bowl with greased plastic wrap (so it doesn’t stick) and set aside until it doubles in size or for one hour, whichever happens first.

The oven needs to be preheated to the highest temperature ~ 550 on my bro’s oven. 

Another great tip to create a crusty loaf is by placing a cast iron pan in the oven while it’s preheating before the dough goes in. Shh…I’ll tell you why in the following paragraphs. Remember, I write suspense.

Here comes the fun part. Spread some corn flour or All Purpose flour on a wooden cutting board or other clean surface so the dough doesn’t stick. Carefully remove the mixture from the bowl without pressing out the fluffiness/ air bubbles. 

Shape into a rectangle by pulling on the outer corners of the bread dough. Now remember making those paper airplanes when you were a kid? Here’s the next part. Fold over the top right corner like you would for the airplane. Next fold the other corner so that the sides meet and a point forms up top. Next, take that point and fold it about halfway down. 

Next, starting with the point to roll the soft mixture into a long log. Press the seam where the dough meets at the end of the log, and voila! 

Place onto a parchment paper covered upside down cooking sheet, a loaf pan or if you’re fancy a v-shaped bread baking pan. 

It’s time to wait for the dough to rise yet again.  After 20 minutes or so it should have risen enough. 

Finally, the tip I promised you. As you place the prepared bread dough into the blast furnace, er, preheated oven, throw a handful of ice cubes in the heated cast iron pan next to it to create steam. 

In 10 minutes, turn the oven to 425 and enjoy the heavenly scent of baking bread fill your home.
The bread should be done in 25 minutes. Your hard earned product is ready to slice and enjoy.

Have a happy and healthy New Year from our family to yours!

                                                        Ingredients

3 cups flour ( All purpose, whole wheat, Jovial, organic spelt )

1 1/2 cups water

2 tsp. yeast

1 tsp sugar, honey or maple syrup 

2 tsp. salt

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TALKING TURKEY~ ARE YOU LOOKING FOR SOMETHING NEW TO SERVE THIS THANKSGIVING?

With Thanksgiving officially approaching it’s time to think about the details of the holiday.

At our house, we’re in a season of life where we need to be flexible for the changes we’re going through.

Over the years we’ve had a traditional Thanksgiving celebration with all the staples we’re familiar with in this country.

What’s Thanksgiving without turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, stuffing, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie?

I don’t know but we’re about to find out.

One of the benefits of this healthier version of the Thanksgiving Day feast may help us stay awake for the family talk, football games, parades and other fun activities.

Part of our family visits will include a trip to my parents about an hour and a half away. Over the river and through the woods to grandmothers house we’ll go. Remember that old song?

If not, look it up on the net, it’s a predecessor to “Grandma got run over by a reindeer

Anyway, I digress. My mom is scheduled for a procedure this holiday season and won’t be up to travel. So, I decided to make a roasted leg of lamb with the trimmings.

That way, I can make the meal (and the mess) at our house and bring the cooked meal down to Philly. There we’ll slice into the roast and veggies and have a nice visit without the trouble of all the preparations and clean up.

If you’re looking for something different to cook up for your family and friends this year, here is a recipe to help you on your way.

Roasted Leg of Lamb and Potatoes (Six Servings)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Prepare a 4- 5 lb leg of lamb (I buy organic or free range, it can be expensive but I managed to find one for half price at the local grocery store.)

Place the leg of lamb  flat side down on a shallow roasting pan and prepare the meat with salt, pepper and about a tablespoon of olive oil or other basting oil of your choice. You can spruce it up a bit with minced onions and your fresh herbs ~ oregano or rosemary are two options.

Clean and cut 6 pared potatoes into halves then quarters, slice into one inch pieces.  Then place the potatoes into a plastic bag with two Tbs of olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Shake the potatoes until evenly coated and spread them around the lamb. I use 3 russet potatoes and 3 yams and or sweet potatoes to mix it up a bit. 

I add cleaned and pared organic carrots cubed into two inch pieces and one cleaned small cut up cooking onion.

Place the roasting pan in the preheated oven and cook for 15 minutes.

Turn down the temperature to 375 on your oven and roast for 30 minutes per pound. 

When the lamb is done it will have an internal temperature of 140 degrees for medium rare. 

If you don’t like your vegetables carmelized or well done, then remove when fork tender and keep warm until the meat is cooked through. 

Remove from the oven, gather the clan around your table and enjoy!

Enjoy! Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Enjoy! Have a happy Thanksgiving!

SCALE THE SUMMIT

How can a heart thumping mountain climb on a rock strewn trail be restful? When you reach the summit of course.

Just like life, anything good is worth working for and a brisk paced ascent on the closest public peak will merit that kind of goodness. 

In Southeastern Pa it’s a couple hour ride in either direction and our seasons are built for the beach on the warmest summer days, and as close as a one hour drive for a trek on the Blue Mountain range that surrounds our valley.

The park system in the Lehigh Valley is wide and varied. On any given day there are choices of

a well kept city park or a dirt packed winding path next to a trout sourced creek, or mountain trail. Either way, it’s easy to spend time every day outside.

Our Golden/Rottie mix dog is a natural runner, and on days when I can run, I will. Which got me thinking of the health benefits of outdoor fitness. 

Did you know one hour of trekking can burn off over 500 calories?  

According to Forbes.com, exploring in nature elevates mood, improves sleep, promotes bone growth, helps strengthen the immune system and lowers blood pressure.

 In addition to the physical benefits, research shows that a few hours walking, hiking or running can be healing for the emotions. A study of breast cancer survivors showed that those who spent time doing these activities were more likely to heal faster from the trauma of the disease. 

It’s cheaper than a personal trainer, easier on the joints than exercise classes and equipment, and more fun. 

Some studies have shown that this type of outdoor activity works to help promote health and immunity towards preventing skin cancer. As a cancer conqueror that is great news for me!

So take your favorite people and furbabies and load up a backpack with treats this weekend to head for the closest nature trail. 

Do me a favor when you reach the top of the mountain or end of the trail take a breath and enjoy the view. Sometimes all you need is a new perspective. 


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LET'S DISH ON FALL RECIPES ~ chicken fingers a family fave!

Who doesn’t love comfort food in the fall? Soups, stews, and fresh bread top the list with a pumpkin spice latte to follow. Over the years,  I can’t wait to begin making slow cooker meals, my favorite minestrone soup and chili. But, the family fave has always been chicken fingers.

I started making chicken fingers before the Colonel. After tweaking the recipe for the last 35 years I’m thinking they’d rival any fast food restaurant’s including the one that closes on Sundays.  And, they are healthier. 

The kids will have fun helping with this recipe as well. There’s nothing homier than the family gathered in the kitchen preparing dinner.

So when Sunday rolls around and you need a new recipe -try these and let me know how they turn out!

FAVE FAMILY CHICKEN FINGERS with dipping sauce

Ingredients serve 4

1 lb. organic chicken 

If you can afford it use the chicken tenders. If not, use a mallet to pound out chicken breasts and slice into tenders with a good sharp knife.  I found that the smaller, thinner the chicken the less oil you need to cook it through. 

1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup of Panko coarse white bread crumbs

1 or 2 large brown eggs

 1/4 cup olive oil or vegetable oil of choice (enough to make a thick coat the bottom of the pan you use to sauté chicken at least )

Directions

Rinse and pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Dispose of the paper towels right away as you don’t want to cross contaminate while cooking. 

On three separate plates place flour on one, beat eggs and place on the other and panko bread crumbs on the third. 

Dredge each piece of chicken in the flour both sides, into the egg mixture, and finally cover well with panko. 

Once you have the chicken ready, put the oil in a large frying pan ~ cast iron or cephalon both work well. 
Heat oil on high until water drops pop off the surface.

Before you place the chicken in the oil season tenders well with salt and pepper. This is important as it helps seal in the moisture and flavor while cooking.

Carefully place each piece away from you into the oil so it doesn’t splatter. Chicken should cook through about 3 mins per side. If not completely done after turning brown put them in an oven for a few minutes preheated to 350 degrees. 

For the adults, or any children who prefer fish, I let the chicken rest while I pan fry or bake the fish which cooks quickly.

Serve with mashed potatoes, pierogies, rice or pan fried potatoes, and veggies. Or, for watching the football game, just serve them up with finger foods and dipping sauce on the side.
























RETREAT~ DESTINATION COEUR D'ALENE

What do you get when you fill a football field- sized room with comfy loveseats, overstuffed armchairs and tables set up for your laptop? Add a great group of women, Brandilyn Collins, and wonderful food?

You get a perfect formula for one amazing weekend in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho. 

The Fantastic Fiction Retreat held in Brandilyn's home is a cozy place to learn with other writers the art of creative writing while enjoying a stunning view of the area. And though the retreat I attended had only women, men are welcome too!

Brandilyn's workshops and time spent with other writers made this storyteller's dream come true. 

My family lives in Coeur d’Alene so my husband and I also were given the treat of seeing the area through my sister and brother-in-law’s eyes. 

One of our sightseeing tours included a boat ride around beautiful Lake Coeur d’Alene. The sunny 80 degree day  was perfect for an interior look of the hidden jewel that is this place.

Riding bikes on the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes is an amazing experience. The trail is a 72-mile paved path that spans the Idaho panhandle between Mullan and Plummer. It is known as one of the most spectacular and popular trails in the western United States. Other than the macadam path, the area remains visibly untouched by man~ an outdoor adventurer's delight. 

 While sis and I hiked on Tubbs Hill  also known as one of the best 10 places to hike in the area, we caught up on life and had more fun than we have in years. Nothing like rounding the bend of the foothill to face a monstrous dog that resembled a black bear to keep a sister on her toes. 

Honestly, the best part of our vacation/retreat was spending precious time with my sister, brother-in-law and our nieces. All and all an unforgettable trip!

So next time you're planning  a vacation think retreat. 

 

NEW WHEELS OR A HAMSTER WHEEL?

Isn’t it a panicky time when you are transitioning into a new phase of life?

Due to a shift of responsibilities I've been driving more now than I have in the last thirty years. As a result, we've been car shopping for a vehicle to replace the automobile I've used for the last ten years. 

I don’t care if it’s that scary woman teacher in kindergarten who had a mustache and made you sit down with your head on the table. Or, the training you need to undertake on the new job, or that first apartment you rent when you leave your parents house. It's hard to take a leap of faith. 

Life is a compartmented hamster wheel that once you climb to the top there is an inevitable fall to the bottom and then back to the climb.

Our college age daughter just returned from a successful freshman year full of the anxieties of contemporary environments. Learning advanced life skills with interpersonal relationships, untapped subjects in biblical study, technology in her field and her first article being published.

It’s all so exciting!

On occasion the endless circle does come to a screeching halt. When you think you’ve reached the place where you can attain the goal at the pinnacle instead you’re sliding down the back side of the wheel and somehow end up on the sawdust littered floor. We all experience it. 

I’m not sure why my metaphor is so base. Except sometimes that downward fall can knock the stuffing out of you or the wind out of your sails. Cliche upon cliche piles up on the hard work you thought would yield a successful outcome. Where is the pay off?

There is so much more to learn. No more apparent then when you think you’ve seen it all, lived through it all…the unexpected morphs into a different challenge you never saw coming.

The “place” of finally -I’ve- arrived becomes broken dreams. The breather just ahead becomes push harder and longer than you ever expected. The normal response is to wonder if you ever got it right before? 

Awkward self doubt is revisited from early on as puberty but one look in the mirror reminds you that those days are long gone.

What do you do?

You pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start over. 

Because surprisingly, life is full of wonders and delights you can’t see while you wait on the hard bottom. Eventually, the air fills your lungs again, strength returns, maybe not like it used to, but something like the first breath when you cross the bay bridge down the shore. Salty, brine tinged cool air helps you recollect  warm sand between your toes, long lazy playtimes in the waves. Or, cool starlit nights reminiscing of other crystal skies in the mountains after a day of skiing, hot cocoa and friends laughter. Times that draw you closer to the mysterious person who set all of this in place for you. 

Souvenirs to relay that this is still a wonderful world. Life is beautiful and God is good. It will get better. I promise. 

So enjoy the ride!

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO PACK FOR A BUSINESS TRIP/PLAYCATION

I don’t know about you but I start packing WAY before the day of my flight out to unknown places. It's one part OCD, one part excitement and the rest is ‘I don’t want to miss any fun’. Heaven forbid.

Here are tips to make the chore of packing for business trips, vacations or even playcations easier for you. 

1. Use two basic colors to build your wardrobe on whether you work or play. On an upcoming trip, I will be attending a writer’s retreat while hubby enjoys some time on the links. We'll be visiting family as well so that adds to the excitement. 

 It’s a late spring/early summer trip to the Pacific Northwest. My sister lives there and so I already know that dress is casual there.

Navy blue or grey are good choices for business casual or play (denim) wear while visiting a new area.

 I’m a redhead so I have plenty of peach in my closet already as well. 

 Look in your closet to see what colors you tend to use. After you choose the two basic colors you use the most ( i.e. grey/black, tan/brown, blue/orange) you can start to fill in with other coordinating pieces.

2. Pick out some mix and match pieces that travel well and don’t wrinkle easily. Some materials to look for are denim, heavy cottons or chinos, permanent press blends, and throw in lightweight seer sucker for spring!  Classic doesn’t have to be old and stuffy. If you throw in a few trendy pieces you will be modern and professional for whatever weather you might experience.

3. Comfortable foot wear is a must. Yes, but it doesn’t have to be the crocs you use to garden either. Don’t laugh, I've seen people wear their muddy gardening shoes in public. And, I’m guilty of it too.  

As hot weather approaches there’s a temptation to expose your toes in flip flops or sandals. But,  airports are no place to wear flimsy or fancy foot wear. 

I bought a good pair of slip ons to use for easy removal at the check in areas with plenty of room to be comfortable for long flights. 

4. Find a good suitcase that fits your needs! After over thirty years of travel I suggest a wheeled garment bag for the well rounded traveller. 

Hubby and I went shopping and recently found a London Fog Navy and white checked bag for myself at Macy’s for half price. If you noticed that I chose navy to coordinate with my clothes you get extra points. 

5. There are many ways to pack a bag efficiently. I’ve found the roll and tuck method to save the most space.  Imagine your space inside the suitcase cut into squares of equal size. Take each bottom with a matching top and roll together tightly into a 'square'. Repeat until each outfit is neatly packed together.  Once again, packing with a color coordinated pants, tops, jackets and shoes saves you space and time. 

When you are packing for a business trip, you’ll need work related clothing (dresses, suits, and skirts) to lay on top of your exercise or play clothes. The garment bag is excellent to use for this purpose. 

6. TSA approved pre-packaged toiletries are available at drug stores and even some supermarkets. I tend to wait until my skin care company offers free or more reasonably priced travel sized products to restock items so that I have them when I need them. 

7. Don’t forget your swimsuit even in the winter. Most hotels offer inside pools/jacuzzis for after work hours. 

Finally, enjoy your trip~ take some time to explore the sights in your new city or town. 

What are some ways you've learned to make packing for a trip easier? I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments below. 

 

photo credits Pexels. com 

photo credits Pexels. com 

READY TO REFRESH? 7 SURPRISING WAYS FOR A MENTAL HEALTH DETOX THIS SPRING.

 

Weathering through the bone chilling cold this winter had my skin cracking from the constant blasts of dry heat of our furnace. 

While I treated myself to a replenishing facial at the local day spa, I began thinking about ways to take care of myself during the long months of December, January, February and March.

After brainstorming I did some research for new ideas on a quick refresher. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money and these short breathers have long term effects for your health. I wanted to share  them with you~ now all I have to do is use them myself!

  1. Read a good book during your lunch break.
  2. Sit in your heated car at a park or near a creek and watch the water or the wildlife nearby.
  3. Do a digital detox. I keep going back to this but with so many handheld devices grabbing our attention, it only adds to the stress of our already full weekday.  Turn off that phone for a few hours. Get away from social media, the news, the fitbit and do something you’ve wanted to do but have not had the opportunity. 
  4. Call a relative or a friend to watch the kids for a few hours.
  5. Take some moments for a DIY facial, manicure and/or pedicure.
  6. Take a day off from work and relax. 
  7. Take up stretching exercises. I have found relief from years of sitting at a computer by incorporating stretches. You can find a good book or tutorial on youtube on the subject. 

Finally, Here is a bonus recipe for you to use for a basic body scrub made from ingredients you can find in your kitchen. 

Sugar Scrub Ingredients

        1/4 cup sugar (Large granulated brown sugar works best!)

        1/4 cup oil (olive oil or coconut oil work great)

        Optional: essential oils of your preference. (I love lavender or similar floral scents)

Let me know what you think! What are some ways you treat yourself?

HIS LAVISH LOVE

Even the strongest among us slip up once in awhile.

We assume life will go on as usual in an unconscious attempt to control the universe around us.

Then the unthinkable happens and our crown slips. Just a little. The bills are paid, somehow. Our child gets over the flu, hopefully. Work issues are resolved, eventually. And then, we move on to the next best thing.

Everything is 'doable' at some point. We face the shadows of the valley of death and lose our loved ones. Prayerfully, we hope to see them again on the other side of the veil. 

Our faith can weaken after hits from life's trials. Or, as love would have it, our faith grows strong. 

That is the ultimate in the purpose of our time on this earth. 

We can cover up painful feelings of abandonment, loneliness, or feeling out of control. But, our father is always there. 

Whatever you are dealing with right now~ maybe you are even thinking ... "where are you God?" "Have you forgotten me?" "What possible good could come out of the fiery trial I'm in?"

I guarantee these questions are inevitable. They are also valuable and even necessary to face. 

And, it's not a symptom of weakness to bring your deepest doubts and heaviest sorrows to him. He is rather waiting for you to bring them to him. 

How do I know? Because he tells me so. "Come to me..." "Cast your cares..." "I love you." 

So when all you do is like spinning the wheels on a hamster wheel and your hopes are running dry. Know that this is the time to pour out your soul to the soul keeper. YOUR soul keeper. He will listen, he will answer, he will attend to your wounds. And wash away your weariness. Rest your head on his shoulder for he knows your deepest desires. 

Then straighten your crown, pull back your shoulders and keep going. You've got this! 

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SIMPLE SMOOTHIES AND JUICE RECIPES FOR THE BODY AND SOUL

It’s January. All the Christmas decorations have been taken down. 

The once bright snow lies dingy on the side of the road and cabin fever is setting in.

The geese are only now beginning to fly south for the winter and spring time seems light years away.

So what’s a person to do?

One thing that makes my winter days brighter is to start the morning with a glass of fresh squeezed juice.

 Especially from the citrus family.

Orange juice, grapefruit juice, mandarin and tangerines. My taste buds are popping at the thought. 

I have a friend who believes that typically healthy people get sick more in the winter not because of germs but, because of eating habits.

Think about it~ halloween arrives in October with it’s sugary treats. Quickly followed by Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. That’s three months of treats and overeating rich foods that we don’t normally enjoy. 

Along with the added stresses of shorter days, less sunshine and heavier work/school loads we have a cocktail of pressures to suppress our immune system.

Our bodies have now been subjected to an overload of excess sugar, adrenalin and mental burn out. 

I agree with Andrew Weil who says, 

 

                               “You can’t afford to get sick, and you can’t depend on the

                                  present health care system to keep you well. It’s up to

                                  you to protect and maintain your body’s innate capacity

                                  for health and healing by making the right choices in how

                                   you live.” 

 

If you have a blender, and most folks do, why not whip up some sunshine with a quick and easy smoothie?  Also, an investment in a good juicer will go a long way to help you stay healthy and happy through the rest of the winter. 

To help you get started or if you are already juicing, here are a few of our favorite recipes. 

RECIPES

1. Hubby’s favorite Smoothie

 

2 bananas

 12 ounces Strawberry kefir

1/2 cup of cut up strawberries

Add sliced fruit to the kefir in a blender and enjoy! 

 

2. Hello Sunshine

6 organic oranges~ peeled 

3 tangerines (or other sweeter orange)

1/4 cup of organic raspberries

This one is my absolute favorite! If you have a juicer 

throw the ingredients in, mix the juice well and enjoy!

If you don’t have a juicer remove the seeds before putting 

the fruit in your blender. 

 

3. For Your Sweet Tooth

6 unpeeled large organic carrots (scrubbed well)

1 organic honey crisp or other firm apple that has a bite to it will do

We use the juicer for this delicious vegetable juice when we want

to give our digestion a break from the holiday goodies.

 

So now that you know some of our healthy drink favs, feel free to use the comment section to share yours!

 

12 WAYS FOR HOSTING EFFORTLESS HOLIDAY PARTIES

A meteor shower is scheduled for tonight 12 days before Christmas.

Are you ready? 

35 years of hosting Christmas Eve festivities have taught me a few things to make life easier in this hectic home.

In fact it has become a tradition we look forward to all year.

Let me tell you a secret— Christmas does not have to equal chaos.

Unless you like that of course. If you're like me, a clean house, delicious food and good company help make wonderful memories for years to come. 

Here are some quick ideas to help you keep your focus on the important things of the season.

    1    Delegate the work- every year hubby contributes by building the artificial tree.

    2    Our creative designer youngest daughter helps decorate the house.

    3    Over the years family has shared preparing a great meal for the night. With our different busy schedules the best format seems to be an open house. Come when you can leave when you must.

    4    It’s okay to buy a yummy pie or appetizers so you have more time to spend with your guests.

    5    Use crock pots to create dishes that will stay warm.

    6    Cook meals that are easy to prepare with ingredients that are fresh and in season.

    7    Some of the best dishes can be made ahead of time.

    8    Save your time for last minute cleaning in the living area/kitchen for right before guests arrive. That way you won't be going over the same areas again and again.

    9    Ask someone to bring fun games/activities to play.

    10    Have separate areas to serve appetizers, main dishes, coffee and dessert.

    11    Set up a coffee/drink bar on a table for self service.

    12    This year I will be serving breakfast for dinner. This makes preparations ahead a pretty smooth affair.

Keep your holidays simple superstar~ your family will love you for it!