Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Recipe: Peanut Butter, Honey, and Cinnamon Apple Dip

Good morning everyone! I hope you all had a great weekend. This week the post will be short and sweet because I was traveling last weekend and I'm getting ready to travel this weekend too. I love going on trips, it's always been something that I have enjoyed.

I thought I would share a snack I enjoy making when I'm craving sweetness. It makes a great snack for during the work day or an after dinner dessert. I will be mixing up a batch before our road trip later this summer because I think it be the perfect thing to eat on the road.

Ingredients

3 tablespoons nut butter (almond or peanut work great)
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 apple

Directions

1. Stir the ingredients together and taste. Do you want it to be sweeter? Add honey. Want a bit more cinnamon? Add it in. 
2. Cut or slice apple
3. Dip apple slices in yummy concoction and enjoy.


Blog advisement and editing by adreamingone.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Self-Care Sunday: Self Love and Hard Tuths

This week, Courtney and I agreed that I would write about Self-care, and tell you a bit about what it means to me. I believe that one of the most important aspects of self-care is self love. I also believe that true love is knowing and accepting everything about myself. This means getting to know all of myself, and sometimes means hearing hard truths. A few days ago, I had the opportunity to hear one of these truths from Courtney. 

You see, I was asked to interview with a business that I deeply respect. They work with battered women helping them to leaving abusive partners and get into safe living situations. The position itself wouldn't be taxing, but watching abused women come in and out every day would be for me, for two reasons. 

The first, and more obvious, reason is because most descent, and caring people hate knowing that another person is suffering. But in my case, I don't just dislike knowing it, I suffer with them as if it was my own. I forget that the way I can most help another is by staying healthy and whole myself so when they need support, I can be strong for them.

The other, and more personal, reason is because I have a very bad habit of adopting "strays". I'm that woman who feeds the feral cats, and brings the homeless person home to stay with her. I do this often to my own detriment. In a work situation like this, I could quickly end up jeopardizing not just my health and well being, but the well being of the women trying to get out of the worst situations.

This is where self love comes in. When Courtney pointed out to me that I have this habit, I had the opportunity to either take it as an insult, or embrace this aspect of myself. By embracing it, I can grow and change the habit into something healthier for not just myself, but the people I care about. I can also use my knowledge to make better choices in my life. 

Embracing all of my parts in the act of self love, is one of the hardest and deepest forms of self care for me. But it's harder for me to keep living my life hating myself for who I am, and unable to change because I keep denying who am I. 

What is self love for you? 


Many thanks to Courtney for inviting me to author this week's Self-Care Sunday post! 

Catherine

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Wildcrafting Adventures: Sweet Birch

I decided I wanted to wildcraft some sweet birch for the birch oil that goes into some of my products this past weekend. So, Brad and I ventured into the woods with his parents and gathered a bunch Saturday. We had so much fun playing in the woods with his parents and their dogs!

Brad and I playing in the woods
Normally I purchase my herbs from a local farm in upstate New York, but I wanted to give wildcrafting a try. Wildcrafting is the process of gathering herbs from the wild to use in herbal preparations. I've done this a few times with goldenrod and dandelion, but never with a tree. I was super excited to get out there and harvest my own birch.

Sweet Birch (Betula Lenta) leaves
Sweet birch or Betula lenta, also known as black birch, contains wintergreen. A lovely smelling oil which contains methyl salicylate. This is similar to the main component of Asprin, and can also be found in topical pain relieving products such as Bengay. The oils from sweet birch are anti-inflammatory, pain relieving, and especially useful for muscle and joint pain.

Brad's dad hard at work
Brad's dad was super helpful in identifying the proper trees, and cutting the branches down for me, and Brad carried the harvest back to the car. I was mostly along for the ride and to document our adventure.

Brad playing pack mule
One of my favorite things about this tree, is that whenever a branch is cut, you can smell the wintergreen. There's something about it that is comforting to me. This also makes the tree extremely easy to identify.

After harvesting, it's important to set the branches out so the leaves can wilt. This will prevent water getting into the oil, and causing the oil to spoil.

The full haul, laid out to wilt.
Sunday, I spent most of the day clipping leaves and shaving branches to make the oil. I prefer to use the double boiler method of oil infusion. It's much faster than other infusion methods, and it helps ensure there's no water in the oil.


I made tons of oil, and my house smells WONDERFUL! Seriously, I love how this stuff smells. I've also had my dehydrator running non-stop drying some leaves for future infusion. With all this oil, I will have plenty for weeks to come!

Have you ever gathered your own herbs? What's your favorite way to spend time in nature?

💗 Courtney

Blog advisement and editing by adreamingone.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Self-Care Sunday: What is Self-Care?

I am so excited to be bringing this series of posts to you. Self-care, self-love, and self-compassion are incredibly important topics to me and I am so glad I get to talk about them with you.

Love! by Farid Iqbal Ibrahim via Flickr, License
Self-care is consciously making choices that take care of your mind, body, and soul. These actions can be daily rituals such as yoga and meditation, or decisions we make on a daily basis to care for ourselves.

It's similar to the safety demonstration you see when you get on an airplane. Every time the oxygen mask demonstration is done, the flight attendant says to attach your own oxygen mask before you help anyone else. You need to take care of you, before you can take care of anyone else. Another similar saying is: "you are not required to set yourself on fire to keep other people warm."

This means that if you don't take care of yourself first, you can't help other people. I experienced this often during my teens and early twenties. I spent so much time worrying about other people, their feelings, and how I could help them, I didn't take the time to take care of myself. I was burnt out, exhausted, and eventually, I had nothing left for them, let alone myself. 

By CongerDesign via Pixabay
Sometimes, self-care is saying, "no, I'm sorry, I can't today, but I'll be there tomorrow." Sometimes self-care is taking the kids to the grandparents, or a friends for the day and going home to read a book, have some tea, or go on a date with your partner. Sometimes self-care is forming good habits, like showering regularly, brushing your teeth morning and night, or doing your laundry on a regular basis. Sometimes self-care is running errands, making phone calls, and doing chores. Sometimes self-care is building an exercise and healthy eating routine, and sometimes, it's having a glass of wine with dinner and ice cream for dessert. The list goes on...

You see, self-care is highly individual, and it is most important to do what is good for you. Your self-care routine is different from my self-care routine. Self-care is a conscious decision to take care of yourself in the best way you can.

There is no right way to practice self-care, and it is an ever evolving journey that will morph and change over time. 

Start small, pick one thing to do to take care of yourself, and see how that can change things for you.

What are some self-care practices you would like to start? 

💗 Courtney

Blog editing and advisement by adreamingone.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Introducing Self-Care Sundays!!

Happy Wednesday everyone! This week I am introducing a new series I will be doing called Self-Care Sundays. Each week I will share something that I do, my friends or family do, or new ideas about self-care. I would like to do this because an essential part of my business is promoting the ideas of self-care, self-compassion, and self-love. 

Church by Kasper Florchinger via Flickr. License
I chose Sunday's for this series because I like the alliteration for the title and Sundays are often looked at as a day of rest. I grew up in a family that went to church every. single. Sunday. This was followed by a large egg and bacon breakfast, and sometimes an outing of some sort. But most often we spent the time on Sunday at home, finishing chores, completing weekend homework, and getting ready for the week ahead. This was how a majority of the people I grew up with spent their Sunday. Many people all over the world still do this every week.

I don't go to church anymore, and haven't for very many years, but I still think of Sunday as a day of preparation for the week ahead. I plan out our meals, we go grocery shopping, clean the house, do laundry, and spend some time together. I think of all of these things as self-care for Brad and I. We are doing what we need to do in order to be the most successful we can be in the coming week ahead. 

And really, isn't that what's important? Doing the things that set you up to accomplish your goals?
Brad's favorite self-care is hiking by the
waterfalls in the area. Buttermilk Falls,
Ithaca, NY. Taken by Bradley Benjamin
Some Sundays are better spent doing absolutely nothing and resting on the couch bingeing a show on Netflix. Other Sundays are better spent hiking, walking, or just being out in nature. What is most important is that the time is spent doing something that is good for you, and your mind, body, and soul.

Some people work on Sundays, other people have children's activities, and chores, or a whole to-do list. The idea behind these posts is to give you some inspiration for ways to take care of you. Some of my posts will be quick easy face masks you can make in a few minutes and keep on while you continue chores. Other posts will be about an inspiring book I've read and would like to pass on to you. Others will be about my personal self-care routine on a daily basis, and I will have guest posts from other people who practice self-care and compassion in their own lives.

These posts will be kept here on the blog so you can come back to them anytime you need for inspiration.

The series will be starting this coming Sunday, and I hope you enjoy it. Please feel free to share your own self-care and compassion ideas. No action of self-care is too big or too small.

💗 Courtney

Blog advisement and editing by adreamingone.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Healthy Comfort Food Recipe

I'm really bad at taking pictures. It's not just the framing, focusing, lighting, etc that I'm bad at. I'm bad at remembering to take pictures. I just don't take them. You know, if my cats are adorable and my phone happens to be nearby, I'll snap one. But I am just not a picture taking person.

Do you know what this is not at all helpful for? Blogging.

The problem is, I make this beautiful meal, focusing on the ingredients and flavors I will be tasting soon. I finish cooking, eat the whole thing, do the dishes, go about the rest of the night, and hours later remember "I wanted to blog about that! I don't have any pictures!"

Maybe someday I will get this picture taking thing right.

So, I did that whole routine, again, this week, but I'm still going to share this recipe from Pinch of Yum, because it's delicious and it's my favorite healthy comfort food for when I'm not feeling the best, and it would probably be a bad idea for me to eat mac and cheese.

I love this recipe because it has turmeric which is anti-inflammatory, and as a person with multiple inflammatory diseases, anti-inflammatory herbs and spices are always a welcome addition. If you are cooking with turmeric or making a turmeric tea, always add black pepper to the mix. This makes the anti-inflammatory compound in turmeric more available to our bodies. 

The original recipe can be found here, I did make a few of my own changes.

Healing Bowls with Turmeric Sweet Potatoes, Poached Eggs, and Lemon Dressing


Ingredients

Fresh and Dried Turmeric by Ayurvedic India via Flickr

2-3 sweet potatoes
Olive oil
2 tsp turmeric powder
2 cloves of garlic
2 cups broth (for vegetarian use vegetable broth)
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tsp honey
1/4 parsley
1/4 tsp salt
Scrambled, poached, or fried egg
Brown rice or quinoa
Arugula, spinach, or other greens
Walnuts or nut of choice

Instructions


1. Cook the brown rice or quinoa.
2. Cut the sweet potatoes into chunks. Small chunks cook faster, but keep them similar sizes.
3. Heat olive oil on medium high heat in a pan and add sweet potatoes.
4. Add turmeric, garlic, and broth to the pan and mix them all together.
5. Cover the pan and let the sweet potatoes simmer. When they are almost cooked, take the lid off the pan. Once the liquid is mostly gone and the sweet potatoes are soft, turn off the heat and mash. Season with salt and pepper.
6. While the sweet potatoes are cooking, add the lemon juice, olive oil, honey, parsley, and salt to a small food processor or blender to make the dressing.
7. Make up your eggs. When I have more time I will poach my eggs, and when I have less I will fry them up really quick. 
8. Assemble your bowl: Add quinoa or brown rice to the bowl, followed by sweet potatoes and greens. Add the egg and nuts and top with the dressing. 

This is the bowl I made for lunch today, it was scrumptious.
I hope you like this recipe as much as I do. It can be customized any way you would like for your own preferences.

What are your favorite healthy comfort foods?

Blog advisement and editing by adreamingone.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

How to Make a Pain Bar

It's been a busy few weeks, and it will be a busy few months. I've got some new products planned for the shop, exciting blog post topics, and we've got a summer full of road trips, concerts, and weddings. It's going to be crazy and I am super excited about it. 

This week I thought I would give you a peek behind the scenes, into my process. My mom and I made pain bars this weekend and we took some pictures along the way. 
Personal information blacked out.
Step 1: Gather all your ingredients

At the bottom left is menthol, peppermint essential oil, and beeswax. Starting at the top left is previously infused sweet birch oil, arnica oil, and cocoa butter. Not pictured: coconut oil and shea butter.


Step 2: Weigh the ingredients out into a bowl. I'm not going to lie, this was one of the more exciting purchases I made. Balances and scales are some of my favorite pieces of instrumentation. 


Step 3: Set up the double boiler. I fill the lower pot with water and set to simmer. The large glass bowl with all of the weighed out ingredients is set inside the pot. The steam from the simmering water heats the bowl and the ingredients gently. This prevents burning and over heating of the oils and waxes. 

...and now we wait.

Different pot and batch of oils than showed previously.
We forgot to take the picture before. 
...for this!! All the ingredients are melted and ready to be poured. 
  

Step 4: I pour the liquid into the molds. This is done on a scale to ensure each bar is 2 oz. This is often the most messy part of the whole process. There is definitely some skill needed when it comes to a good clean pour. The bars are left to cool for about 24 hours. 


Step 5: The last step! Wrap and label bars for sale.


That's it! This is the general process I follow for most of my products. It's simple, easy to execute, and makes my house smell lovely. 😄

Thank you for taking a look at what I do, I apologize for my poor photography skills. It's a skill I am currently working on improving.

I hope you enjoyed this peek behind the curtain. 

Have you ever used a double boiler? What for?

💗 Courtney

Blog advisement and editing by adreamingone.