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Archive for the ‘kitchen’ Category

We have moved.

The historic farmhouse that sheltered us, consumed our thoughts, weekends and wallets, is now in the loving care of another family.  My boys occasionally ask to go back to the “yellow house”. And there are times I find myself taking the long way home to drive past the place we called home for the last 8 years.

But its still too painful to share why we left Sunnyside Farm. I promise to tell the story with you as soon as I am able.

For now, I want to focus on our new house.  Its fabulous.  We settled  in the fall.  The little suburban home set on a little over an acre is nestled in a quiet neighborhood across the street from the middle and high school.  Within walking distance from the schools and a short bike ride to the elementary school, we have lowered our carbon footprint.  It’s good for the earth.  And therefore, it’s good for my soul.

As we cleared the counters for this year’s Christmas cookie baking extravaganza in our new home, I realized there is one corner of my kitchen that doesn’t get cleaned as much as it should. And it keeps attracting random stuff.  Days later I may find a clean dish that was never put away, a random plastic bag or a piece of celery masked by dark counters and no lighting.  Since I am the master of this domain, I am the only one who sees this dark space behind the juicer.  So I could let it go, but that doesn’t sit well with me for too long.  After a couple of days, I start to obsess about clean counters.  And the dark corner gets a good scrubbing.

Cleaning this area reminds me how much I loved my farm house kitchen.  There were no hidden corners.  Every counter in that kitchen was out in the open for all to see.  Lights shined down into all the nooks and crannies.  I like my kitchen corners that way.  It’s also how I like my life to be lived.  Let the light shine into every corner.

So until I can tackle my next kitchen renovation, this hidden corner will haunt me.  Each time I move the juicer to reveal what was left behind, I will be reminded to keep the hidden corners of my soul clean.   The dark corners no one else sees.  At the end of the day, not only will my kitchen be clutter free, but He can shine His light all the way through to the deepest recesses within me.

Is anyone accumulating needless clutter in the darkened corners of your “kitchen”?

I know I do.

xoxo

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Mean Green

DSC_1006My family has been drinking a juice or two a day and we are feeling great! My husband and I have more energy to chase around the littles, and our recovery is much quicker after workouts.  G plays in a hockey league and I ride horses, and we have both noticed that we are not achy the day after our sports anymore.  Not bad for a couple of mid-lifers!

After I spoke about this phenomenon with our friends, I have been asked to share my juice recipes.  I will start with one of our favorites- the Mean Green.

If you are like me and need a late afternoon pick me up to get you through the rest of the day,  the Mean Green will not only perk you up, but also add a few extra veggies to your day.   Its refreshing and tasty, and it has just the right amount of sweetness for even my picky preschoolers.

Mean Green Juice Recipe:

6 stalks of Kale

1 inch of ginger

3 stalks of fresh mint

4 green apples

1/2 peeled lemon

medium cucumber

4 celery stalks

Make sure you add it in this order to flush all the kale and ginger juice into your container.

Fill two 16 ounce glasses with ice and add two shots of Coconut water to each glass.

(For the over 21 crowd, I’ve mixed vodka with this recipe in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.  Fresh juice martinis are amazing! )

Enjoy!

Yields: about  24 ounces

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I am so excited to announce that our kitchen renovation is featured on Remodelaholic today!

Remodelaholic is a great DIY website that features many projects big and small.  I love checking in with Cassity weekly to see what other projects she is highlighting or currently working on in her own home.  With plenty of step by step information and lots of pics, their website is a great resource when you are interested in tackling your next project on a budget.

Thanks, Cassity, for spotlighting our kitchen renovation!Image

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DSC_0776In an effort to remove dairy from my diet, I started using raw coconut oil.  I am not a big coconut fan, but this oil is fantastic!  Its very subtle, and makes my meals taste lighter than if I had used butter or extra virgin olive oil.

Of course, I had to go on the hunt for some new recipes using coconut oil.  I came across this raw, gluten free, chocolate tart. To satisfy the chocoholic within, I gave it a try.  It is so easy and delicious! If you are looking for a rich, fudgy dessert to serve your family and friends,  but were afraid to get anywhere near the oven this summer, then this recipe is perfect for you.  Plus, this tart has only 5 ingredients!

I made this dessert using a 9″ pie pan, but I would recommend using the tart pans to make the crust look pretty for guests.  In addition, I made my own almond meal because I could not find it in the local grocery store.  I blanched raw almonds to easily remove the skins and finely chopped them in the food processor.

ENJOY!

Crust:

1 1/2 cups almond meal (finely ground)
6 tablespoons dark cocoa powder (such as green and blacks)
3 tablespoons maple syrup
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Filling:
1 1/2 cups dark cocoa powder
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Directions:
Pour all of crust ingredients into the bowl of a food processor. Process until all ingredients are blended. Divide crust into four servings and press crust in the bottom and up sides of oiled pan(s). Clean food processor bowl and blade.

Place all filling ingredients into the bowl of the now clean food processor. Process until ingredients are smooth. Divide filling among tartelettes and spoon over crust. (There will be 2-3 tablespoons of filling left over) Place tartelettes in the refrigerator and chill for 2 hours before serving. Serve cold.

Can be stored in the refrigerator up to one week. Makes one 9″ ‘pie , 4 tarts or 18 tartlettes.

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* recipe courtesy of http://deliciouslyorganic.net/

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Lately, I have been feeling, well, for a lack of a better word… old.  Just old  Back pain is a daily issue and shooting sciatica pain knocks me off my feet.  And I refuse to take pain relievers.  This drives my husband bananas every time he opens the door to a ransacked house and a moaning wife immobilized on the living room floor. Ironically, my sweet, angelic boys become escaped monkeys on those days.

Days begin so slowly that I need to chug my sweetened coffee to get going.  And the extra few pounds I have been carrying around is making matters worse.  Game over.  I have finally come to the realization that I have to make some changes.

One night, after I put the kids to bed, I curled up on the sofa to watch “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead”.  The documentary followed a man named Joe Cross on his 60 day journey to cleanse his body with juice.   After a few days, his medical symptoms began to subside as he lost weight and increased energy.  Watching his story really made me evaluate my eating habits.  Was my diet making me feel old?

I ate a salad every day, but I was still not healthy.  I realized I also ate what ever I wanted.  And too much of it. I had to cut out the junk and add more fruits and veggies to my diet.  After doing some research,  I learned that eating a raw carrot took close to one hour for the nutrients to get where they need to go.  If I juice the carrot, my organs will get the nutrients they need within 15 minutes.  In addition, I can add kale, an apple, celery, a beet and some parsley to get more nutrients in the same amount of time as eating one carrot.  I decided to give juicing another go.  But this time, I consulted a friend of mine who periodically juices and asked for her help.  We decided to go shopping for a  juicer and then went to the farmer’s market to fill up my refrigerator with groceries.

I highly recommend a juicing buddy.  My friend is there for me when I’m feeling weak, and she helped me feel better after I cheated.  She asked thoughtful questions and listened. She helped me realize that I was an emotional eater. Instead of focusing on the negative, she became my cheerleader and kept me motivated to continue to meet my goals.

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I also found a lot of joy having my children help me with juicing.   “Mom, can we make a juice?” is the daily question that greets me as the morning sun filters into our room.  Its so adorable.  My four year old can’t wait to put the veggies and fruit inside “the machine” to watch in amazement as pieces mash up in seconds.

Here is my Juicing Journal:

Day 1:  Watermelon for breakfast  and juice with peach, apple, mango and kale. Quite a departure from my regular breakfast of coffee with hot chocolate mix.  Throughout the day I made different concoctions to satisfy my hunger.  The juice was tasty and kept me from running to the refrigerator to snack (my worst habit).

I cheated around 5pm by eating some leftover chicken off my children’s plate.  After a conversation with my J. bud, I realized I ate it not because I was hungry, but instead as an emotional response to something that happened minutes before.  We did not focus on the negative.  It doesn’t matter.  She gave me the confidence to keep going.

I spent the evening cuddled up on the sofa with my boys instead of rushing them to bed for my ‘alone time’.  I tucked them in with prayers and headed to my room for a good nights sleep. I dreamed about food.

Day 1 shed light on my relationship with food.  Not only was I an emotional eater, but  after I would put the kids to bed, I would plop in front of the TV and snack on stuff that was not fit to give my children. I have to change my end of day habits, too.

Day 2: Visibly more energy this morning.  I made a mango, strawberry, blueberry, and kale juice and had some watermelon.  Not tempted as I made breakfast for the boys.  At lunch, my carrots, celery, apple, kale and ginger juice satisfied me as I made pb and j for the boys.  The sun is out now and we are heading out for a bike ride.

It is a little after 5pm, and I am sick.  Really sick (aka: nausea and vomiting). I have a pounding headache and neck pain and the smell of fresh produce sickens me.  I cannot open my eyes.  The light hurts.  I think its time for bed. Texted my juice buddy and got some encouragement.  I think I am dying, but I will stick with the plan.

Day 3: It’s 1am. I still have a bit of a headache.  I realized I was not drinking enough fluids during my bike ride and I was probably dehydrated. Dehydration during sugar and caffeine withdraw is a toxic combination.  I actually feel like a detox patient.

Now I know why so many people are afraid to quit their ‘bad habit’. It hurts like hell.

I have been praying a lot.  Last night, it was a lot of “Why God, Why?” and “Help!”

I cannot believe I allowed my body to become addicted to all that bad stuff.  As I sat in my suffering, a part of me needed to feel that pain.  I felt I deserved it.  I have taken advantage of my hard working body for far too long.   My God-given body.  Tears stream down my face as I write this.  We fall into these patterns to take the easy way out.  We avoided matters of the heart.   We eat away our feelings.

This morning its all about thankfulness.  I am thankful I am on the road to recovery.  I am thankful I am still young enough to fully enjoy my life.  I am thankful I am healthy, and have two healthy boys.  I am thankful for my husband who came as a knight in shining armor and rescued me last night.  Our Heavenly Father deserves all of my gratitude for my perfect blessings.  I am so not worthy. And yet, he still blesses me.

Carry on with juices all day.  No snacks or treats, and I am feeling better.

Day 4:  Feeling really good. Woke right up and juiced throughout the day while eating eggs and watermelon for breakfast and fish and salad for dinner.  No cravings, no overeating.  I feel like a new person.

Day 5: Juiced throughout the day with eggs for breakfast.  Found a great juice from Bolthouse that keeps me juicing while on the road.

At a friends BBQ I found watermelon and ate a hamburger with no roll.  Did not give in to the homemade brownies and other desserts at the party. Although I did have two glasses of wine with friends, I also drank lots of water and went to bed feeling healthy.

Day 6:  Woke up feeling great.  Went out looking for more juice before church.  Had seared tuna over a salad for lunch and another salad at dinner at my friend’s 40th Birthday party.  Before this new diet plan, I would crave the desserts while I was eating my dinner. But this time, I am not even interested in the gorgeous cupcake tower and decadent chocolate desserts.  I am no longer a slave to my cravings!

Day 7: More juicing courtesy of Bolthouse and sushi and a salad for dinner.

Day 8-9: Back home to make my own juices.  My morning juice filled with kale, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, an orange, two apples and a mango kicks off my day.  I drink this while eating fresh watermelon all morning long.  I love the summertime!

Peppers, onions and eggs for lunch and shellfish with veggies for dinner all while having veggie juice finishes out my day.

We are currently living in our vacation home at the shore this summer.  One of the many blessings we have is access to fresh fish daily. Having befriended my local fish market people, they were happy to share recipes with me so  I can prepare and serve more of a variety at home.  Our family will be able to continue our healthy eating well into winter with the advice found in the fish market.

Its Day 11 and I have made it through the tough part of totally overhauling my diet.  I have the occasional weak moment, but it is during these times that I have to rely on our Heavenly Father. He and my juicing buddy give me the confidence to get back up on that horse and move forward.

20 some odd days out:  I have been drinking home made juices twice a day and making one for whomever visits us at the beach.  Our juice cocktails are a big hit, too.  We began to add coconut water to every juice for its health benefits.  We mix things up so we don’t get bored, and except for the occasional ‘treat’ we have cut out sodas, sweets, starches and all processed food.  I also removed beef, chicken and dairy products from my diet.  I will use the occasional pat of butter to saute, but this is also considered a treat.  This is a new day, and for the first time, I feel that I am truly honoring my temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

On a superficial note, my skin looks better, my waistline is back, my eyes are brighter and I am not ‘puffy’ anymore.  My clothes fit better, my face looks thinner and I have more energy than I have had in years. The only negative I have encountered is the task of cleaning out the juicer every afternoon.  Although the extra few minutes of cleaning up becomes a blessing after I learn of another loved one who has jumped on the juicing band wagon in search of a healthier lifestyle.

As I sit down with my mother in law, Meema, to enjoy our morning juice, she shares with me how her Rheumatoid arthritis has settled down and she has consulted with  her doctor about decreasing her medications.  After adding a daily juice to her diet, she feels better then she has felt in a decade.  She looks forward to the day she is pain free and off medication.  Meema is now in the market for a juicer.

I went to my optometrist and my eye sight has improved!! I cannot believe it, but my prescription went from -1.5, to -1.0!  I have to give the glory to God because I have been praying for my eyesight to improve.  Wow, He listens, and He asks us do the work.  I love these results, so I have to say I am a God-loving juicer for life!

Hopefully I will get my cholesterol and weight checked sometime this fall when I visit my doctor.  I will share the details to let you know if my new lifestyle has changed my health.

 Please keep the emails and phone calls coming!  I love to hear your experiences with juicing because it motivates me to keep going and sharing!

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Birthday Muffins

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My oldest son, Connor, turned 4 last week and I made Strawberry Cheesecake muffins for his morning preschool class.  I love this recipe and wanted to share because these muffins are sooo good.

I copied this recipe from Sandra Lee’s Cherry Cheesecake Muffin recipe, and switched out cherry for strawberry because we love strawberries in our house.

Enjoy!

Ingredients
1 box moist white cake mix
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1/4 cup plus 1/2 cup sugar
2 cups graham cracker crumbs (crushed with rolling pin)
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup strawberry preserves
Cheese Filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
Directions
Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin pan and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

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To make the batter, in a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, softened cream cheese, sour cream, eggs, and 1/4 cup sugar. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes.

To make the crust, combine graham cracker crumbs, 1/2 cup sugar, and melted butter in a small bowl. Set aside.

In a smaller mixing bowl, beat together all ingredients for cheese filling until smooth. Set aside.

Divide half of the graham cracker mixture among the 12 muffin cups and lightly press into bottoms. Fill cups all the way to the top with muffin batter. Place 1 teaspoon of strawberry preserves on top of muffin batter and with a teaspoon, lightly cut preserves into batter.

With the back of a spoon dipped in water to keep from sticking, indent the batter and top with a dollop of filling to cover the strawberry preserves. Sprinkle remaining graham cracker mixture over the top of muffins. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before removing muffins from pan.

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A wall in my kitchen is begging for personality. Its a wall that is hard to dress up, because its plaster covers stone and an old doorway.  It’s also a wall that runs along a high traffic area.  Artwork would have to be bolted into the wall (because of the stone), and I couldn’t find anything that I was willing to commit to by putting huge gouges into the wall.

Almost two years later, we now have our house on the market, and I wanted to find something that could fit the size of the wall but did not cost a lot because we didn’t know how long we would be here.

Inspirational Wall Ideas

Modernized traditional wallpaper

I love how they took a traditional wall paper and modernized it with silver and chocolate brown.

vinyl wall art inspiration 2

vinyl wall art inspiration A designer used this vinyl wall graphic in a high traffic area just like mine.

This unexpected touch gives this kitchen a rock and roll vibe.

I found a great deal on vinyl wall words over the holidays ($20.00) and added them to the wall for now.  G really likes it, and it’s a great way to teach my preschoolers their letters and words while reminding them of the house rules.

What do you think?

DSC_0403 It took a few days to get the layout and then touch up the paint.  I think I need modge podge to make sure they stick as some of the letters have been pulling away from the wall.

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