Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Quick & Easy Gifts From My Kitchen....


I love to make pampering gifts like my body butter for my friends. With all the cold weather outside and heaters working overtime inside a little bit of pampering can go a long way to keeping your skin healthy. This is a perfect time of year to spend a little bit of time to make personalized gifts for those special friends in your life.

Thanks to the wisdom of Cheryl Harris, I realize that I also need to take a little time for me so that I can be there for the people I love.

Cheryl hosts a December Sanity Retreat on her blog. My dear blogger friend Shirley of Gluten Free Easily introduced me to Cheryl's blog a couple of years ago. I did a post about it at the time. Please  check out Cheryl's blog, she's switching things up a bit this year with guest bloggers and has links to previous years' posts, I bet there will be something that speaks to your heart.

Taking a quiet afternoon to make with a hot cup of tea and happy noise in the background (and then actually setting aside a jar or two for myself) made the time feel indulgent, rather than stressful. How much more relaxing does that sound than running to a mall and running all over trying to find things your loved ones may or may not be able to use?

My goal these last few days before Christmas is to be mindful to avoid stress and find time to relax while caring for the people I love. Each day between now and Christmas is a little more booked than the last so I need to find time in each day for the things that count. For me that means Bible devotional time, getting moving and eating wisely to stay healthy. I have a great devotional app and am enjoying Advent messages through She Reads Truth. Moving is easy when you live with a dog so I'm trying to up our walks. Being outside is always good for me and the weather has been cooperating more days than not. Eating wisely is just that - no diets or deprivation at all. Just making good choices so I don't get glutened or get too much sugar which also causes issues for me.

So now to our gifts, since the ingredients overlap, it's easy to get everything out and make all three recipes, if you want to, in less than two hours including computer time for the labels.

Avery Labels are a great, easy and economical way to dress up your gift. Avery.com has lots of cute designs you can personalize with your own text. It took just a couple of minutes to find the cute bee design and customize each version. I bought my labels years ago and just print up a sheet with a different label with each batch.

I like to use four ounce ball jars for the scrubs and body butter. It's a nice size to give and a handy size to reuse. However, for those gifts I ship I have been using plastic. The PET plastic bottles and jars are easy to find online or at most any health food store that stocks essential oils. This time I used a couple of sturdy Rubbermaid containers for shipping that I had purchased for my last batch. I'm switching over to glass and PET as I go.

My beauty/body care supplies and tools are kept separate from my other pans and immersion blender. Getting melted beeswax and oil scented with lavender off can be a struggle. Having inexpensive doubles and keeping everything in a box together makes making so much easier.

There are a lot of quality essential oils to choose from. My own box of oils has Young Living, Plant Therapy and Florihana. You can use whichever you enjoy but for these projects Florihana was my choice. I buy them through Tropical Traditions, my favorite coconut company. Florihana's Bergamot is Bergapten free, meaning it isn't photo toxic. Most citrus oils are photo toxic, meaning you shouldn't use them on skin that is exposed to the sun, you may get patchy brown splotches. Citrus oils are a great choice for a hand cleanser/sanitizer making Florihana's Bergamot my first choice.

This is a great gift for a friend with littles to throw in their diaper bag. It literally takes five minutes to put this together, including attaching your labels. The recipe below is safe for young children but can be used by adults. If you aren't using it for small ones, go ahead and add up to double the essential oils.

Bergamot and Lavender Hand Cleanser/Sanitizer

1 2 ounce Pet Bottle with dispenser top

Aloe Vera Gel
9 drops Bergamot Essential Oil
1 drop  Lavender Essential Oil

Pour Aloe Vera Gel into clean Pet Bottle almost to the top, leaving room for your oils. Add the essential oils drop by drop right into the bottle.

Make a cute label and attach. I like to use clear packing tape over the label on these bottles to keep it attached and looking good.

I like to use mine (double strength) after leaving a store before getting into my car or in a public restroom that has awful soap (pink soap with scents and dye cause reactions for me). In that case I rinse and scrub my hands in hot water, dry and then rub in a squirt of my hand cleanser.

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A sugar scrub is wonderful to get the dry patches off and reveal smoother skin underneath. You can substitute Olive oil for the Avocado oil. An easy way to measure the liquid oil and the solid coconut oil is to pour one cup of the Avocado oil into a two cup measure and scoop enough coconut oil into to reach two cups. Frankincense and Myrrh were an obvious Christmas combination but you can certainly substitute oils you prefer one to one.

Golden Frankincense & Myrrh Sugar Scrub

3 Cups Organic Sugar (or more if you like)
1 Cup Coconut Oil
1 Cup Avocado Oil
1 teaspoonVanilla Bean Powder
30 Drops Frankincense Essential Oil
10 Drops Myrrh Essential Oil
Containers

Pour everything into a glass or metal mixing bowl and combine. If you like a more dry sugar scrub feel free to add a bit more sugar in 1/4 cup increments. Mash up the solid coconut oil with the back of your spoon or with an immersion mixer.

Pour into jars and put the lids on and then label. You will probably get about eight four ounce jars or more depending on how much sugar you added.

They are a admittedly a bit more beige than golden, but humor me so the name works!

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Body butters save my skin this time of year. This one, is one I've been making for ages. I love it and it works well but I wanted a more simple version. One that had fewer ingredients and no whipping required.

Simple Hand and Body Butter

1/2 cup Organic Beeswax Pearls
1 cup Coconut Oil
1 cup Avocado Oil
1 teaspoon Lavender Essential Oil
Containers

Pour everything but your Lavender Essential Oil into your pot and let melt slowly over low heat. While everything is melting I measure the Lavender Essential and pour it into one of the small jars. Stir to mix and once everything is combined turn off heat and pour the Lavender Essential Oil into the mixture. Stir again to combine and pour into your jars. Depending on the sizes you use, you will have about five four ounce jars.

Let cool completely before putting the lids on. Put on your label and you're done! Easy Peasy.

I spent more time at the post office today standing in line to ship some than I did making any one recipe.

When I use the sugar scrub I rinse well at pat dry. Rubbing in a little of the hand and body butter afterwards will keep your skin soft and glowing. Try the combination on your hands at night before bed, you should wake with nice, soft hands.

Wishing you a peaceful and relaxed holiday season so you can focus on what's important to you.

Happily shared on Gluten Free Wednesdays, thanks one last time Shirley! You are the best!!



Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Real Jules, Real Good Giveaway Winner!

The winner of a yummy box of Jules' cornbread and cookie mix is "kledford"!

Please email me at chachamueller@gmail.com as soon as possible with your mailing address so Jules' can get these to you!

Congratulations!

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Real Jules, Real Good Giveaway Update!


Jules is at it again! She's giving you her Jules' Gluten Free Holiday Baking ebook absolutely free! 

Just follow this link to Jules' site, copy and paste this code  gfjuleschacha5478d9c862fd0 into the coupon section and it will automatically take the price off the shopping total. 

No purchase is necessary. You can download link in the confirmation screen.

What a great gift to help you plan all your December parties.

And remember to check out this post and enter to win Jules' amazing cornbread and cookie mix! The contest closes December 1st!



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

I'm A Celiac's Magic Five Layer Bars!

Pam Jordan of I'm a Celiac is a super busy working, running, gluten free blogging and speaking mom of three who's niche is delicious, fast family meals. She's written yet another ebook just in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas, called Easy Gluten Free Holiday Recipes.

You'll find great tips for not getting "glutened" while eating out. The recipes are quick and easy and everything sounds delicious.

Appetizers, main dishes, sides and desserts are all laid out for you and there's a list of resources in the back. Easy Peasy.

The recipe that jumped out at me was the Five Layer Magic Bars. I used to love the similar bars my grandmother used to make. For some reason I've never tried to make them gluten free. Pam's genius idea is using gluten free gingersnaps instead of graham crackers. 

Even with the quick crushing and chopping of nuts these came together in about ten minutes. They are decadent and awesome.

The photo shows them after cooling about an hour, still warm and a little gooey and oh so yummy. After another hour they were cool enough to hold together into beautiful, perfect squares.

A batch will definitely make it to the Thanksgiving dessert table this year. 

Pam is kind enough to share her recipe from Easy Gluten Free Holiday Recipes here!

Pam's Five Layer Magic Bars

2 cups of GF ginger snaps
1/2 cup of butter, melted
14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1 1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 1/3 cup flaked coconut

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x9 casserole dish. Place the GF ginger snaps in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin. Pour the crushed ginger snaps into a bowl and combine with the melted butter. Firmly press into the casserole dish for the first layer. The second layer is condensed milk over the ginger snap layer. Theird comes the nuts, fourth the chocolate chips and the fifth layer is the coconut flakes. Bake for 25 minutes. Let cool and serve.

Check out Pam's site and book and follow her on Facebook, too.

Don't forget to enter to win two great products from gfJules HERE.


Monday, November 24, 2014

The Real Jules, Real Good Giveaway!



I am so excited to take part in The Real Jules, Real Good Giveaway! Jules Shepard has done so much for the celiac and gluten-free community. She's authored books and co-founded 1in133.org to advocate for issues like gluten-free labeling. In 2007 Jules founded her original company as a single mom and sold great gluten-free mixes.

Shirley at Gluten Free Easily first introduced me to Jules' products a couple of years ago. Her products and ebooks were all great. Unfortunately, there was an ugly separation from her partners who still operate under her original name. 

Jules is now starting from scratch with her new hubby. To help get the word out and make sure you know about gfJules.com, Jules is doing a great giveaway for you!


Jules was kind enough to send me a package of her cornbread and cookie mixes to try. The cornbread choice was a purely selfish one. I love it but my guys have never been crazy about it. Well, everyone here absolutely loved it. The texture is light and the flavor is amazing. I had some for breakfast with butter and honey from our bees and it was just as good as it was the night before. I've already ordered a "Value Box" tonight if that tell you anything.


The cookies are wonderful, you can bake them soft and chewy as I prefer or give them a couple of extra minutes for a thin, crispy cookie that my hubby loves. Sometimes gluten free cookies have a grainy texture and taste like rice. Not these, the flavor is well rounded and the texture is perfect. 

Would you like to try these two products? Of course you would! 

So leave a comment below. For additional entries, please go and "like" gfJules on all of her social media:

Instagram and/or sign up for her 

Let me know is a separate comment that you have connected with each.

On December 1st the winner will be announced!

So please spread the word and stay connected with Jules at:

 


Monday, November 10, 2014

GFJules - Gluten Free Thanksgiving with Jules EBook!

I'm so excited to share this amazing Thanksgiving ebook with you! 

Gluten Free expert Jules Shepard is sharing her newly updated 60 page ebook with us absolutely free if you download it before November 13th.

I've already downloaded my copy and love it. I think you will, too. 

Are you a guest at someone else's home this Thanksgiving? Jules has loads of tips. Are you hosting? Again, Jules has you covered.

There are delicious looking photos and recipes for the entire Thanksgiving spread and Jules has added a planning checklist to keep you on track. Even substitutions for other allergies are included. And so much more.

The link to the eBook page is www.gfjules.com/shop/gluten-free-thanksgiving-ebook/

Your code is: gfjules54601c422cb45

After you put the eBook into your cart on the gfJules site, you can just copy this code from this page and paste it into the box next to the orange "Apply Coupon" button in the gfJules cart. (You can also paste it into the 3rd box at the top of the Checkout page). They hit "Apply Coupon" and the $12.95 price will be deducted instantly, making the book available for immediate download. You'll see Download File: Gluten Free Thanksgiving EBook in red. Click it and start reading!

Hurry because this free offer expires on November 13th!

I'm looking forward to receiving two of Jules' yummy products soon and can't wait to tell you all about them.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

b.good - healthy, local, delicious and gluten free


b.good is a restaurant we fell in love with on a recent trip to Portland and Wiscasset Maine. We visited the Portland store at least three times in our five days in Maine. The other two days we were in Wiscasset.

The Portland, Maine store employees were friendly and helpful in keeping our food gluten free and so delicious. The six of us tried just about every gluten free item on the menu from burgers to salads to kale and quinoa bowls. Everyone absolutely loved everything. Especially awesome are the kids meals. We loved it so much it just didn't seem worth the bother to look up other safe restaurants.

The photo on the right is our last visit up in Maine. Loved the brick and the photos of the local farmers.

So the wait for the Raleigh store seemed ever so long. But open it did last week!

Chris, Joe and I went on Friday for lunch. This was their second day open and the line started clear across the restaurant. We obviously were not the only people anxiously waiting for them to open. The line moved quickly and the young man taking our order was friendly and capable. He quickly told us the couple of items we couldn't have and assured us the rest were safe.

The look of the Raleigh store is fresh and new and the farmer photos are local to our area. I was happy to later hear that JMF Photography took their photos.

We ordered and found a spot at the counter in front of the window to sit.  While I all but stopped drinking sodas years ago, at b.good I indulge with their outstanding Maine Roots soda. My family loves lots of their flavors but I always get the root beer. It's just like what we had growing up ages ago - creamy and perfect.

The guys' burgers and my chicken sandwich were perfect. The toppings are fresh and local, as are the burgers and chicken breasts. The veggie patties are house made and vegan (but not gluten free).

But the fries are amazing. If you're gluten free you know what a big deal safe gluten free fries are but at b.good you can get sweet potato or regular fries. Both are absolutely awesome.

The next day Marc, Marie, Aiden and I ran in for lunch. We arrived just before the doors opened and by the time they did open there was another family waiting with us. Several others filled tables before long.

The crowd Friday at lunch was definitely a work crowd and the Saturday lunch crowd was mostly young families. Steve Woodward, the owner said he was pleased with the lunch turnout but also pleasantly surprised by the dinner crowds, many of whom live in the apartments above the restaurant. How convenient would it be to just pick up dinner and take it right upstairs?? It seems a perfect location for everyone.

Marc and Marie ordered burgers and I ordered the spicy avocado lime kale and quinoa bowl.  It was my first b.good bowl and I ordered it as a healthy and maybe lighter choice. It was such a great combination of fresh veggies with a very spicy and flavorful sauce that I have a new favorite. So fresh and satisfying.

One thing I really love about b.good is their kids meals. Our sweet Aiden loves to eat and Marie and Marc feed him real, whole foods. The kids meals at b.good live up to their requirements and Aiden loves them.

Saturday he enjoyed a bunless turkey burger (freshly grilled and juicy) and a side of veggies. He loved the tomatoes, mushrooms, carrots and kale.



Aiden - so happy and busy with his kid's meal.

It's so nice to be able to walk into a restaurant and know that we can all enjoy healthy, local and delicious food without a worry about gluten. I can't recommend b.good highly enough.

Happily shared on Gluten Free Wednesdays at Gluten Free Easily!