Echo- summer concert series

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Chris and I are in a band called Felling Giants and we are pumped to be launching a summer concert series here in Castle Rock! Our June event will include The New Skeptics and Strange Girl. It will be a night of awesome music, and a chance to hang out with friends and family at a free event. Bring a chair and invite everyone you know!

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my introduction to dōTERRA essential oils and migraine relief

oilsI have had a few bottles of essential oils knocking around my house for years. They made my house smell nice, but for the most part, they sat in a cupboard forgotten, until I would  dig around for something and come across them.

I suffer from severe migraines. (I’m not just spouting random facts about my life, these things will come together in a minute). I’ve tried many things to stop my migraines but nothing brought any relief. They came, knocked me on my butt, then left many hours later with me reeling from the experience.

I only get a few migraines each year, but every single one of them manifests in the same way. I would begin to loose vision (things would disappear from view like creepy magic), then I would loose my speech (not all of it, but I often can’t think of things as common as my parents’ names), after I started slurring and talking like a drunk, the pain in my head would come in a tidal wave and I would be sick to my stomach. I would empty my system and then dry heave until I hurt. Stay with me, we’re passed the gross stuff.

I never knew essential oils could be used for medicinal purposes, so when my dear friend Barb told me that people were finding migraine relief through dōTERRA essential oils, the skeptic in me chuckled. I am generally interested in having a healthy body, so I bought a kit of oils and began using them, almost out of curiosity. The morning I woke up with a migraine, I knew my little bottles of oil would be put through a hefty test.

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hand stitched Italian Leather Clutch and phone case

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When I came across this gorgeous Italian leather, I knew exactly what I wanted to make with it. I wanted the beauty of the leather to shine through the design. I constructed a simple envelope style clutch and used a button stud for the closure. The clutch is modern and sleek, and just the right size for the essentials.

IMG_0973The phone cases are made to fit the IPhone 5C and have an opening on the bottom corner so that headphones can be plugged in while the phone is in the case. Each piece is hand stitched and will stand up to years of use.

These pieces are available in my shop, but the selection is limited, and these are going fast!

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rustic leather clutches

For as long as I can remember my dad has collected vintage leather jackets. He would find them at thrift stores and he would always “confirm” that they were real leather by giving them the sniff test. To this day I can’t smell leather without thinking about his jackets. They would hang in the basement or sit in a box until he would come across a project that needed some leather. Then he would select just the right jacket and cut the leather he needed. A couple years ago I requested a few jackets for some projects of my own. I had some ideas in mind and the leather was beautiful. Since I’m new at working with leather, I’m starting off with some very basic purses and clutches. The already-broken-in leather feels amazing.

These clutches are for sale in my shop and would make wonderful Christmas gifts!

 

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I love the wrinkles and texture in these pieces (and they smell great). The following is a large hobo bag made from the same batch of reclaimed leather. The original seam lines are beautiful, so I left as many as I could. This one-of-a-kind bag is for sale here.

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4 ingredient chocolate, gluten and dairy free.

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I do love chocolate. I always have, and I will until the day I die (likely with a bit of melted chocolate gripped tightly in my fist). When I cut dairy out of my diet, I knew right away I’d have to say goodbye to milk and ice cream, but I had already been drinking mostly almond milk, and have found some sorbets that aren’t bad. It wasn’t until I was standing in the grocery store, looking at the selection of chocolate and realizing 99% of it was made with milk, that I knew had to figure something out- fast. It didn’t take much time online before I discovered a few gluten and dairy free recipes that promised delicious chocolate. I tried a few and came up with my own adaptation.

IMG_4977The beauty of chocolate is it’s versatility. You can flavour the chocolate itself, or add things to the mix for some extra crunch or texture. I have used mint and orange essential oil separately and love them both. Keep in mind that essential oils are considered “volatile oils” and need to be handled with caution. If you are using true essential oils in a recipe, you must have a carrier oil so that you can eat the food safely. Coconut oil is a natural carrier for these oils, so with these ratios, you don’t have to worry about the safety of essentials in this chocolate.

I must say that a few squares of the mint chocolate makes a pretty awesome mocha… make sure it gets melted completely in hot espresso, then top with hot almond milk. You can even froth some almond milk for the top if you’re getting really fancy!

IMG_4871Chris loves peanut butter (for some reason). In the interest of keeping my “good-wifey” status in the house, I made a batch of peanut butter chocolate for him and he loved it. I just let the first layer of chocolate harden, spread a layer of peanut butter on top (it could have managed a thicker layer), poured another layer of chocolate overtop the peanut butter and stuck it in the fridge for a few minutes while it chilled. I made a batch of “Aero” type bars too by mixing the chocolate with some Rice Krispies. In another batch I added a scoop of espresso to the chocolate mixture for some delicious kick. There are so many options!

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birthday weekend 2013

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I love the fact that Chris and I have birthdays in the same week. We usually celebrate both on one weekend, we make one cake and often receive our birthday cards in the same envelope. This year we took to the mountains for a long weekend. Since we both work from home, taking a weekend off while staying at the house is pretty much impossible. There is always a project that needs to be finished, a website to be coded, dresses to be sewn… One of the many challenges of working from home is that the work is always pushing in on our home life until it has consumed it. We both needed a few days away and the mountains promised a welcome solitude.

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Chris took the photo of these pine cones, and it’s one of my favorites from the trip.

We packed our little car full of food, cameras and puppies, and drove about two hours to Lake George. The mountains are still covered with snow, and the air got chilly as we gained a couple thousand feet in elevation. Continue reading

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mediterranean pilaf

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This has been one of my favorite childhood recipes that I’ve adjusted a little bit. The original dish contained only rice and raisins and was served as a side dish. It works great as a side, but I’ve added protein and a few vegetables so that it can be an entire meal on it’s own. This is a gluten and dairy free meal that has a refreshing mediterranean flavour and is wide open for variations.

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Pilaf can be made with either beef or chicken stock and just about any protein. Most of the in-store brands of stock contain wheat products but I found that Knorr concentrated stock pots do not contain gluten, and they work wonderfully for this recipe. Continue reading

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fruit salsa and cinnamon chips

 

 

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Fruit salsa is one of my favorite summer dishes. It is fresh, full of colour, and best served on the back deck with a glass of white wine. I’ve made this several times in the past with flour tortillas, but recently I’ve swapped them out for corn tortillas to eliminate the gluten.

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I find the chips turn out best when they are baked on a pizza stone, so first preheat the oven and stone to 400° then mix the melted butter, cinnamon and sugar in a bowl. If the sugar mixture is runny, set it in the fridge for a few minutes until it is “spreadable”. Spread the mix onto the tortillas, place as many tortillas that will fit onto the heated stone and bake them for 10 minutes, or until they are nice and crispy. I realized (after some butter melted onto the stove and started a teeny, tiny fire) that the butter can sometimes melt and cause a teeny, tiny fire in your oven, so I suggest placing a piece of tinfoil on the oven rack underneath the pizza stone.

 

 

 

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See the complete recipe below.

 

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camp elim

Chris and I were asked to be leaders for our youth group’s camping outing a couple weeks ago at Camp Elim in Woodland Park, CO. The snow was perfect, the fires were warm and we had a great couple days with the kids. Camp Elim is a beautiful Christian-run retreat west of Colorado Springs. The staff does an amazing job running the place, and the pastors involved were free to schedule lots of activities and chapel time.

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At the end of the weekend Chris and I were both exhausted, but charged up. The theme was Grow Down and each message was from the Parable of the Sower in Luke. It is always exciting to see God work in young lives and to have some of our own teens give their lives to Christ.

These photos are just a few of what Chris and I took over the weekend.

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gluten free granola

This recipe is based off of my mom’s granola that she has been making ever since I can remember. While I was convinced that the rest of the world was scarfing down bowls of sparkly, chocolaty, marshmallowy, wish-granting cereal in the morning, I would be served a bowl of nuts and seeds that mom would say was “good for you”. When I was seven I knew this slight made my life extremely unfair and unfun, but as an adult I do give her granola the appreciation it deserves (also my husby loves it, so it’s an easy choice).

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This recipe is completely gluten and dairy free, but the beauty of granola is that you can add whatever you want. As is, this batch has a very mellow taste without any overpowering flavours. I use raw, unfiltered honey to sweeten, and the raisins give a great texture with the seeds. Substitute raisins with dried cranberries if you want a bit of a tang, or throw a handful of semi-sweet chocolate chips in after the batch has cooled for more sweetness.

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I have fond memories of my dad making granola bars by adding marshmallows, but I was too young to remember how he did it… The way I’ve done it is the same way you make Rice Krispy treats: melt the mini marshmallows on low heat with a 1/4 cup of butter until the marshmallows are half melted, then add the granola to the goop and mix well. How much you use is up to you, but two cups of marshmallows and four cups of granola should stick together. Pour the mix into a greased dish, pack down the mixture firmly, then refrigerate overnight. (FYI, Rice Krispys are a tasty addition to this recipe if you don’t mind the extra sugar.)

Okay, back to the healthy.

This granola is packed with goodness that your body will thank you for. I haven’t always cared how healthy my breakfasts or snacks were, but lately Chris and I have been putting more effort into taking care of the bodies that have been entrusted with, so finding a tasty and healthful cereal gets us off to a good start in the mornings. I want to give you a quick run-down of some of the nutrition that’s packed into this bowl of nuts and seeds.

Rolled oats control glucose and insulin levels and are considered to be one of the best foods for weight loss. Oatmeal reduces the risk of heart disease, works as anti-depressants and can speed up healing in the body due to it’s beta glucan.

Sesame seeds contain antioxidants that fight off diseases and several effects of aging. They contain many vitamins including vitamin E which enhances the immune system, as well as several minerals that support body functions such as bone growth and nervous system functionality.

Sunflower seeds have anti-inflammatory properties and contain selenium which is proven to bring about DNA repair and can protect against cancer.

Flax seeds contain lignans which can act against the formation of tumors. Flax also fights diabetes, inflammation, heart disease and prevents constipation.

Chia seeds swell up when they are put in liquids, so they cleanse the intestines and colon while also cleaning away toxins. Adding chia seeds to your diet will help in weight loss, they also help to stabilize blood sugar and make nerve transmission more effective, improving brain function.

I know this may be not be the most interesting read, but every piece of food we put in our bodies will either build us up, or break us down. Knowing some basic info on what your food will do to your body can make it easier to make healthy choices.

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Without further ado- continue reading for the recipe.

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