MACAroons

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These tasty little morsels are the perfect answer for those looking for a sinless, sweet-tooth satisfying snack or dessert.  These are raw and supercharged with herbal powders- guaranteed to be healthier for you and the planet than similar types of packaged snacks (cliff bar, luna bar, etc.) If any of you have had the hail merry macaroons, these are even better!

Deemed MACAroons because they are filled with wonderfully healing maca root powder.  Maca is an absolutely amazing plant known for its abilities to improve energy, regulate hormonal imbalances, enhance fertility in both men and women, improve mental clarity and reduce depression (among so many other things!!)  It has this delicious malty flavor to boot.  In the spring and summer I love adding it to my smoothies, but in winter I prefer getting my daily dose through these ‘roons.

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MACAroons

1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut (set aside 1/3 cup)
1/3 cup cocoa or carob powder
1/4 cup maca root powder
2 tbsp. astragalus root powder
2 tbsp. cacao nibs
1 tsp. cinnamon powder
1/4 cup nut or seed butter (chunky almond is my fave)
1/4 cup maple syrup, honey or agave
1/4 cup sunflower oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine the dry ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl.  In a separate bowl combine the nut butter, syrup or honey, oil and vanilla.  Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir well until fully incorporated.  It definitely helps to mix it by hand at this point.  Now put them in the fridge for about 10 minutes, and then roll them into small balls, dipping them in the coconut that was set aside.  Place in a glass container and store in the fridge for 3-5 days!

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Other things that would be yummy added to this recipe….
take out cocoa, add oats + raisins
goji berries
eleuthero powder
slippery elm powder
chopped walnuts
take off coconut, dip into more cocoa powder

………

My Favorite Winter Tea

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If I am at home, you bet you are going to find me with a cup of this tea.  It is spicy and stimulating to the circulation, which creates warmth in the body, yet they are cooling to inflammation and indigestion.  Lemon adds a much needed boost of sunshine and vitamin C.  Sometimes I add in a little raw local honey, sometimes I drink it plain.  Sometimes I make it as a decoction, with fresh ginger slices and cinnamon stick.  Other times I just use the powders, like in the recipe listed below :-)

Winter Warming Tea

1/2 tsp. ginger powder
1 pinch cinnamon powder
1 dash cayenne powder
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 cup boiling water

Combine the spices in the bottom of a cup and add the lemon juice.  Stir together and add in honey, if using.  Slowly pour in the boiling water while also stirring the mixture together.  No need to let steep just enjoy it right away :-) Feel free to change up the recipe…add in clove or nutmeg, leave out the cinnamon..whatever strikes your fancy!

If you wanted to make a decoction instead, add 3-5 big slices fresh ginger root, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 slice lemon and a dash of cayenne to a sauce pan with desired amount of water.  Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and let simmer for 20 minutes.  Turn off the heat and let sit another 10-20 minutes before removing lid.  Strain out before serving, and add honey if desired.  You can keep adding water to the pan and reboiling until no flavor remains.

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What is in my winter skincare routine?

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I get asked quite often what I use for skincare and makeup, so I thought it would be fun to do a little series of “What is in my ____” (fill in the blank).  So here are my top 7 used items for radiant winter skin!

1) Shikai natural everyday conditioner- This stuff works really well for my hair.  It has borage oil among several other botanical oils that are all very beneficial for dry hair.  I will say that there are some ingredients in here that I would rather choose to avoid…not that they are not “natural” but I just don’t like using anything that sounds like it came from a lab.  That being said, in winter time my hair tends towards extremely dry and brittle, so any some-what natural conditioner that prevents that from happening is a godsend, and a must have.

2) Northwest Woods Soap- This is my favorite soap, and it comes from a lovely little shop called The Herbal Workshop .  A fellow Etsy-er, the owner makes an amazing soap line as well as hand knitted washcloths!  All of her soaps are organic and many are castille.  I am in love with this one, and I also love the Kitchen Spice.  Definitely check out her shop for some awesome soapiness!

3) Pure, organic ginger essential oil- Ginger is truly one of my favorite herbs.  One of my favorite things to do in winter time is a hot ginger body scrub.  I fill my bathroom sink with steaming hot water (being careful not to burn myself) and I add a drop of ginger essential oil.  I dip my hand knitted washcloth (see above) in the ginger water and slowly rub all over my entire body, dipping back in the hot water when the rag gets cold.  This boosts my circulation and brings warmth to my hands, feet and organs.  It encourages toxin release and creates glowing, healthy skin!

4) Pliny’s Peppermint Lip Balm- This lip balm is from my shop.  It is a simple beeswax, oil and peppermint blend that is refreshing and healing to sore chapped lips.  I carry one with me everywhere!  It was inspired by Pliny the Elder, an ancient Roman who was a naturalist among many other things. He is known to have said “All kinds of beeswax soften, warm and also regenerate the human body…” and was a firm believer in the healing properties of all bee made substances.  If you want to find out more, click here!

5) Glow face mask- This is another one from my shop.  This face mask is super gentle and moisturizing so it is perfect for winter time.  I use it once a week just to keep my skin in balance.  It was inspired by the goddess of love and beauty herself. Aphrodite was known to have a radiant, golden glow- and this kaolin clay, rose and lavender mask definitely gives me a golden glow too!  Check out more about Glow here.

6) Marseilles Oil- This is a blend of pure essential oils and is my take on the classic “thieves” oil.  I diffuse it throughout the air in my home, put a drop or two on the shower floor for a light aromatherapy steam, and I even put a drop on the bottom of each foot to boost my immune system.  I add it to homemade cleaning products, dryer sheets, dishwashing soap…pretty much I use this for everything.  It isn’t for internal use, and it definitely needs to be diluted because it is extremely potent as is.  Read more here!

7) Miss Sprule’s Lavender Serum- My favorite, lovely and light facial serum.  This is a serious winter must have for me.  I have skin that is all over the board as far as dry to oily, and it really depends on the season.  Winter is dry time for my skin, and applying this serum in the morning really does wonders to protect my skin from the harsh Iowa elements.  Since I do not have a car and instead choose to walk or bike everywhere, my skin gets a lot more outdoor exposure in winter than most.  Without this serum I would certainly be fighting chapped, inflamed skin all season long.  Deemed Miss Sprule’s Serum after Sarah Sprule, “Purveyor of Lavender Essence to the Queen”. Queen Victoria was so enthralled with the scent and abilities of lavender, that she had her own purveyor appointed and began using it for every purpose imaginable! She is truly the reason for its popularity as an ingredient in many a home and body recipe.  Read more here!

 

10 Moments to Find Happiness During Winter

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1. Know and celebrate the true meaning of the season.
Winter is the perfect time for kindling relationships, including the one you have with yourself.  The cold temperatures and dark days make us stay indoors, giving us the excuse we need to finally take time for ourselves.  Be gentle during this season, making sure to stay warm and to get plenty of rest.  All of the days leading up to the solstice, give thanks to the darkness for bringing you this time.  After the solstice has passed, give thanks to the light, for heralding spring and the return of warmth.  Don’t feel pressure to celebrate in ways that bring you down i.e. drinking too much, eating too much sugar, spending too much money…Instead celebrate by meditating, decorating with  things found outdoors, and all of the below ideas :-) Celebrate the fact that you are alive, and celebrate the other loved ones you have that are alive. Be ever so thankful, and above all, be present.  See #9.

2. Indulge your inner child.
Tis the season for being a kid again!  If you live somewhere that snows, go outside and make a snow angel, build a snowman, have a snowball fight, catch a snowflake on your tongue!  If it hasn’t snowed or doesn’t snow, climb a tree-with no leaves left you can have a great view! Go ice skating with a friend. See #5 and make a gingerbread house or gingerbread men :-)

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3. Make snowflakes.
I never had been very good at making paper snowflakes…that is until I learned about pinterest-ing ‘snowflake patterns‘.  Do it!  It is really fun to do, and would be a fun holiday party activity.  It is rewarding to see how cool they turn out, and it is always a surprise :-)

4. Make herbal tonics. Fire cider, cordials etc.
Making herbal concoctions during winter is the perfect thing to do with all of those dried herbs you have around.  Winter is a tough season for plant lovers, so what better way to overcome the emptiness!  Fire cider is probably the most classic recipe to make during this time of year.  You can find my recipe here. Cordials can also be fun to make and are really delicious.  These are herbal extracts diluted with whole fruit concentrate which you drink as an aperitif. You can find my recipe for cordials here. Of course, there are many other yummy and delicious herbal recipes to make this time of year, too! 

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5. Bake. Or enjoy the product of someone else’s baking.
I think everyone can agree that the smell of freshly baked whatever brings to mind the holidays.  I personally love to bake and have been making rolls, cookies, and other goodies left and right.  It warms the house from the oven heat and makes the entire place feel sooo cozy.  And then you get to eat the stuff! If you don’t bake, go to a friend or family member’s house who does and ask them to bake for you :-) Decorating cookies is a fun activity for any age group, and so is making a gingerbread house! 

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 6. Stay Cozy.
Staying warm during winter is crucial to maintaining overall vitality.  Pull out every blanket you have and place them all around your home, so that wherever you are there is a blanket to curl up into.  Wear big comfy socks or slippers, warm sweaters and scarves inside your home.  Traditional Chinese Medicine says that there is a place in the back of the neck where we absorb and release chi.  In winter it is important to keep the back of the neck warm at all times to avoid loss of chi and illness.  Allow yourself to spend some time all bundled up by the window or by a fire.  Meditate or read a favorite holiday story.  Draw a holiday picture! Whatever you want to do.

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 7. Make tea. Mull cider.
Warm beverages are my best friend in winter.  Herbal teas are wonderful, and they can even brighten a blue spirit or lull a restless mind.  Mulling cider is a fun activity and it makes the house smell amazing!  Cinnamon stick, whole clove, apple stars, orange peel, and other herbs can be added to make a most warming and nourishing cider.  I have one recipe I like to make here.

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8. Make hot chocolate on the stovetop.
Do not just open a packet of powder and dump it into hot water.  That is not hot chocolate. Make it from scratch by warming milk over the stove, slowly melting in real chocolate.  Don’t forget to top with marshmallows!  This one goes along with indulging your inner child…who doesn’t love a hot, sweet cup of cocoa!

9. Enjoy ‘presence’.
This goes along with celebrating the true meaning of the season.  Be present. Be here now. See the miracles of life, the miracles of Earth.  I wrote a post on presence instead of presents last year.  You can read it here.  Learning how to be present can bring you the greatest gift you’ve ever known…it is certainly difficult to do all day, every day…but it is definitely something to work towards.  By simply taking a moment to focus on your breath you can retrieve so much peace within yourself.  Try saying “I breathe in, I breathe out” while taking big deep, slow breaths.  I guarantee you will feel so much better with just a few breaths.  

10. Hibernate
Go for it.  Stay in bed all day long.  Or curl up on the couch and watch your favorite holiday movies.  Definitely make sure to take several days this season to just lounge around in your most comfy pajamas and truly relax.  

I’m Back pt. 2

After just a few short weeks of being home from Amsterdam, my grandfather passed away and I flew home to Washington.  As much as I have grown to love Iowa, my heart will always lie in the Pacific Northwest.

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I love Seattle and it was amazing to be there so suddenly.  I lucked out and it hardly rained the whole time I was there!

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Of course I went to Pike’s Place Market :-) I went to my favorite store there, Tenzing Momo, and bought some beautiful frankincense incense.

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Walking around downtown, I just happened to stumble upon the tallest cuckoo clock in America…It was strange to say the least!  I also went to the Seattle Art Museum for the pop art exhibit.  Very cool stuff!

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I also stopped by one of my favorite coffee shops in Seattle, Analog Coffee.  They are super cool and they have vegan donuts from Mighty-O’s which are SOOO amazing.  And they have the best coffee :-)  Absolutely love that place.

The rest of my time in Seattle was spent with family, and that was wonderful.  I have an amazing family and I am so glad I had that time to share with them :-) After the funeral I headed down to Portland, OR and spent much needed time with my parents.

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I went to this great cafe I used to work for when I lived there, that is me standing inside of it next to some Frida Kahlo merch.

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I wasn’t very good at photo documenting the last leg of my journey, so here is the last picture I have to show, my feet at the PDX airport!

All in all I needed that time away desperately, to gather my thoughts and realign my priorities.  I am so happy to be back home and I am ready to unleash my full creativity!  I look forward to keeping up this blog, and I may change it around a little bit…who knows.

I am open to suggestions and if there are any topics you love reading about on my blog, or any you don’t like, or something new you would like to see…whatever it is please let me know! :-)

-Rachel