A photo of my distinguished parents :)
Welcome to our first Thankful Thursday! This edition is dedicated to life and business lessons that I learned from my dad. I hope though this series that those of you who don’t know me very well will get to know me better!
Since Sunday was Father’s day, I have had a lot of time to think about all the wonderful things my dad had taught me. I thought I would share a few with you! I am so truly thankful that he’s my dad, I’ve have learned so much from him. This is just a small portion of wisdom I gained by being his daughter. It’s funny because it took ME becoming a parent to REALLY value what he taught me, isn’t it weird how that works! LOL.
My dad immigrated from Nepal to America around 1965-1966 with a work visa to be a civil engineer with just $700 in his pocket. After 4 years at age 24 he bought his first house and went back to Nepal to marry my mom. Dad grew up as one of 12 kids in a VERY poor village, most houses were made of mud and straw, dirt floors complete abject poverty. His mother died giving birth to him, so his older sister raised him. To pay for school he tutored other students in mathematics so he could go to good school for his primary and high school education. This kind of tutoring continuted through his college years in India where he studied civil engineering.
Lesson 1: Gratitude is an attitude
As a small child, my dad would remind us to give thanks, with gratitude, for everything. Even if we did not like it. This included meals, clothes and well, everything else in life. We were reminded every time we traveled outside of the US that what little we did have was 200-500 times more then our family members in Nepal had. Dad made good money as a civil engineer and we lived a VERY VERY simple frugal life. We saved in cash to travel all around the world every 5-6 years as kids. It was through these experiences I learned to be thankful for everything, yes even the hard things. My dad’s favorite song was and still is “Don’t Worry Be Happy,” by Bobby McFerrin. He used that song to remind us that bad things would come, you can plan on that, but, you MUST find something in the midst of your problems to be happy about; no matter what! Because when you look too long and hard at negative parts of your problems, you miss the positive opportunities hidden inside them that might solve the issue in the first place!
Lesson 2: Persistence Wins!
My dad lived out the example of persistence by the way he lived his life and he always reminded us that giving up was NOT an option! We could rest and ask for help to get resources to help us overcome our obstacles, but there was no option to give up! We had to find creative ways to work through those challenges. Once we did, it was a wonderful achievement and my dad was there to cheer us on.
Persistence along with having an attitude of gratitude are required for not just having your own business but staying in the game of life. It’s true, that in both life and business, there will be successes. In the mix of those successes there will also be failures, and distractions, and that’s where these lessons have helped me most, to push through those storms and still stay on track. I hope it’s helped you too!
Congradulations to Hj the first commenter on the Father’s day giveaway! YOU WON! Please contact me via email and let me know what scent you what for your whipped cream soap and where to ship it :)
Thanks to everyone who played along!
Father’s Day is this Sunday!! And to celebrate we are asking you to share a story about your Dad! So feel free to share some fun, whimsical, stories about your dad or about a father figure in your life to celebrate and honor him in the comments section of this blog post!
The winner will be chosen at random using random.org at random on Sunday June 19, 2011 @ 11:30pm pst! All comments, stories must be in posted by that time.
Prize: The winner will get a FULL 7oz container of whipped cream shaving soap, a shave brush, and after shave for dad ( A 45.00 retail value) and a 20.00 gift certificate for YOU! Ready, set Go! :)
Every Saturday I will post a blurb about a product we a carry, what it’s made of, how it functions, feels and bubbles in day to day use. And of course a quick review or testimonial about it :) Today it’s Lavender Love Cocoa Castile Soap!
Story behind the soap:
When I first found out about handmade soap back in 2001 at a swap meet in downtown Phoenix, AZ I fell in love with castile soap. It was the only soap I felt like I could use because no matter what I used I always broke out in rashes, which made my painful dry itchy skin even worse. For a year I bought some amazing cold process castile soap and begain re-batching it adding oats, honey, herbs/flowers, ground nuts and other natural ingredients until life got to busy and I fell out of touch with the soap maker and got busy working 2 to 3 jobs at a time just trying to stay afloat.
With so much work and crazy hours I started making a tiny bit more money and bought some simple unscented castile soap to make it through, I soon got REALLY bored with unscented soap, although it did work ok. Later I returned to ‘high end’ store bought body washes because I missed having some kind of scent. But all in all it was a sad existence and I was often known as ‘the lotion’ lady as I always had some on hand and sometimes exploding all over my purse! My skin in the end became dry and irritated over time no matter what I used. It was EXTREMELY frustrating . I would sit and look at the bucket, lye and cold process soap making books and try to muster up the courage to hurry up and make soap using lye, but fear continued to grip me every time I thought about making lye soap. But that is a different story.
Classic castile soap is made with 100% olive oil, and nothing else. It makes a soft small bubbled soothing lotion like lather. But I am a bubble nut…and I wanted to kick up the bubbles and add some moisturizing and skin protective properties to this classic soap; so I decided to change things up and add castor oil and cocoa butter.
What it’s made of Ingredients
Extra Virgin Olive oil: This stuff is simply the BEST all purpose cleanser AND moisturizer for your skin. When saponified it creates small gentle, deeply moisturizing and nourishing bubbles that will make your skin gently cleansed but softly moisturized.
Castor oil: Castor oil provides a rich, bubbly creamy lather to soaps, while leaving your skin softly moisturized. It also creates a protective soothing barrier on the skin. One of the reasons why we love it so much is because of it’s humectant and lubrication properties, it’s simliar to glycern because it also attracts moisture to your skin.
Cocoa Butter: A pale-yellow, pure edible vegetable fat extracted from the cacao bean. It’s one of the most stable fats knonw rich in natural antioxidents, excellent emoliant properties that keeps skin soft, smooth and hydrated. In a recent study in Seuol, Korea showed that the compoud cocoa polyphenol (CPE) found in cocoa butter known for it’s antioxident properties inhibited pathogens of inflammatory disease like cancer and psoriasis. (source). We use it primarily to super fat our soap. So each time you wash with this soap you are getting a little bit of cocoa butter rubed into your skin! What’s not to LOVE?
Lavender Essential oil & Lavind
Function, Feel & Bubbliness
Function: This soap is excellent for anyone with super dry, sensitive or tender skin. It’s perfect for babies and kids too! In fact we use this soap on our kids when we bath them at night before bed.
These cookie recipes were originally adapted from the cookbook: The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book; I modified them to fit my needs for this project.
Equipment needed for both recipes:
- food processor
- 2+ medium or large cookie sheets
- parchment paper or silicon baking mats.
- 2 bowls for mixing/combining ingredients
Lavender Vanilla Shortbread Cookies (p. 197)
2-1/4 (11.25oz) cup all purpose flour or
1 cup + 2tbsp (5.75oz by weight) all purpose flour +1 cup + 2tbsp (5.75oz by weight) almond meal ( 3/4 cup whole almonds, processed in the food processor until made into a light mealy texture, soft light and fluffy, but NOT almond butter.)
- 1/2 tsp table salt
- 16 tbsp unsalted organic grassfed butter (2 sticks or 8oz of butter)
- 1/2 cup vanilla lavender powdered organic sugar** (recipe follows)
- 1-2 tbsp granulated organic sugar
- 1-2 tbsp organic or chemical free lavender flowers/buds for topping
- Whisk together the flour and salt together in a medium bowl. In a large bowl beat the powdered sugar and softened butter with a hand or stand mixer until light and fluffy, about 3-6 minutes, scraping down the bowl and beaters as needed. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly mix in the flour mixture until just combined; about 30 seconds.
- Using your hands ( I use gloves at this point or with super super duper clean hands), press the dough into a ball and sprinkle lightly with flour in the large mixing bowl and knead it until very smooth, about 3 minutes. Lay out 2 large sheets of plastic wrap and divide the dough in half. With the help of the plastic wrap shape each half into a round long log. Wrap and let it sit in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to solidify.
- After an hour take out one log and slice into rounds, roll each round cookie in granulated sugar and taking a fork twines lightly pierce the cookie so it has a pretty pattern on it. Using your fingers, gently bruise the lavender flowers to release the essential oils and gently press a few into each cookie. Slice, roll and repeat until you have used up all the cookie dough. I was able to make about 24 cookies
- Preheat your oven to 300F. Place the cookies on a parchment or silicon mat (my favorite) on a cookie sheet and place in the fridge to cool again! For at least 20-30 minutes, if you don’t your cookies will spread VERY VERY thin, some people like that though..I don’t.
- After resting bake the cookies for 40 minutes. Turning each cookie sheet around after 20 minutes to get even browning.
- Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let it cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes.
**Vanilla lavender powdered organic sugar
- In the bowl of a food processor pulse the sugar and lavender flowers together until powdered. Remember to use short bursts so you don’t burn out your food processor’s engine.
Lavender Vanilla Sugar Cookies (p. 158-159)
- 2 cups lavender vanilla sugar
- 2-1/2 cups all purpose flour or a blend of 1.25 cups all purpose flour + 1.25 cups almond meal/flour ( about 1.5 cups whole almonds, processed in the food processor until made into a light mealy texture, soft light and fluffy, but NOT almond butter.)
- 1/2 baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 14 tbsp (1-3/4 stick) organic grassfed unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tsp lavender vanilla extract
- 2 lg eggs
- Adjust your oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment or a silicon mates for easy clean up. Spread 1/2 cup of the sugar in a shallow dish for rolling. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt together.
- In a large bowl, beat the butter and remaining 1.50 cups sugar together with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3-6 minutes. Beat in the vanilla, then the eggs, one at a time, until combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl and beaters as needed.
- Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the flour mixture until combined, about 30 seconds. Give the dough a few final stirs with a rubber spatula to make sure its well combined.
- Using a tablespoon measure pull out 2 tbsp of dough and roll it into a smooth ball using wet hands, then roll the ball into the reserved sugar to coat. Laying the balls of dough on the prepared cookie sheets, space them about 2 inches apart flatten the cookies to 1/4-inch thickness with buttered and sugared bottom of the drinking glass. Sprinkle remaining sugar over the flattened tops.
- Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, until the edges are set and begining to brown but the centers are still soft and puffy, 10-12 minutes, rotating each baking sheet halfway through baking.
- Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then serve warm or transfer to a wire rack to let cool completely.
What you’re seeing above is part of the handmade loot I’ll be sending off to friends and relatives this week. Today I’ll cover making your own quick and easy vanilla lavender sugar and extract. We’ll start with the sugar first:
Quick Vanilla Lavender Sugar
- Food processor
- empty jars, bags or cello bags to package said sugar in
- cheese cloth and ribbon or unbleached washable cotton muslin bags like these
- 2 cups sugar ( we used organic cane sugar)
- 1-2 high quality vanilla beans ( good quality beans can be found in bulk at your whole or natural foods stores; we get ours for about 1.50 a bean)
- 4 tbsp organic lavender flowers/buds
- 5 drops lavender essential oil (optional)
- In the bowl of your food of your food processor pulse and or grind your vanilla beans in short burts until almost powdered.
- Add in your sugar and pulse until just combined. If you want to add lavender essential oil you should add it now, one drop at a time; pulising a few times to be sure it is broken up and evenly distributed. Make sure you don’t have any lumps of lavender essential oil.
- Cut about an 10 inch square piece of cheese cloth out or use a small cotton muslin draw string bag and stuff in the organic lavender buds and bury it in the vanilla sugar undisturbed for 2 weeks.
- After two weeks just remove the bag and use it as you would any sugar.
Normally to make vanilla sugar you would let used up split vanilla beans sit in sugar for at least 8 weeks. By grinding it up you are saving yourself a bit of time.
Lavender Vanilla extract
- 1 10-16oz sanitized jar w/ lid (a pint canning jar works) + 1-4 containers to strain the finished extract into :)
- unbleached cotton muslin bag or cheese cloth with ribbon to close it
- 8oz vodka
- 4-8 high quality vanilla beans
- 2 tbsp lavender buds
- Pour vodka into container
- split vanilla beans about 3/4 of the way drop it into the jar with vodka
- Allow this jar to sit in a cool, dark place for 6-8 weeks. Shake it at least 3 times a week
- After 6 weeks add the lavender buds to the cheese cloth and close with the ribbon or cotton muslin bag and allow it to steep for 15 minutes max! If you leave the lavender buds in there too long it will turn the extract bitter!
- Using a cheese cloth lined strainer drain the extract into the containers you want them to be in for long term storage. I STRONGLY recommend using dark colored glass bottles.
Enjoy! Tomorrow we will cover lavender honey, chamomile honey and lavender vanilla butter almond cookies :)
- 15-20 peppermint candies or 10-12 peppermint candy canes
- 1/2-1 cup powdered sugar/sweetener (I like a blend of Stevia and xylotal)
- 1 1/2 cup dutch processed cocoa powder
- 2 1/2 cups powdered milk (any kind)
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp arrowroot or cornstarch powder
- 1 pinch chili powder or cayenne powder to taste. (optional)
- 10 drops peppermint essential oil (optional)
- 3/4-1 cup mini chocolate chips
- Food processor or zip lock bag and a rolling pin or aluminum can for bashing candies
- medium or large mixing bowl with pour spout (a 4 Cup Pyrex cup is good)
- whisk for mixing
- In the bowl of your food processor dump in the unwrapped peppermint candies or candy canes. Pulse until the candies are almost powdered. No food processor? No problem put the candies in a empty zip lock type bag and smash with a rolling pin or can until almost powdered and dump into a bowl.
- In the bowl of your food processor or regular bowl add in sugar/sweetener, dutch cocoa powder. salt, arrowroot powder, chili or cayenne powder (optional) and blend until thoroughly mixed.
- Remove the blade from the food processor bowl, dump into a regular bowl and whisk in the peppermint essential oil,drop by drop, breaking up the clumps with the whisk then add the mini chocolate chips; be sure they are evenly distributed.
- Divide the mixture into cello bags or pretty container.
If you are giving this as a gift or if you are keeping it for yourself here are the directions to use this wonderful mix:
Scoop out 2-4 tbsp per 8oz cup of hot water, and stir until dissolved. To make a richer cup just use hot milk instead of water! Enjoy!
The holiday’s are my favorite time of the year because I really have the time and excuse to just go nuts and get crafty with food and everyday items. I love creating tutorials to help give you ideas for gifts without needing to hit the big box stores. Easy, simple frugal gifts made from easy to find items or just stuff you may have sitting around the house. This year I’ll be covering more foodie gifts with chocolate, some beaded ribbon bookmarks, spiced nuts and more!
Let’s start with double chocolate peppermint bark. It’s a take on the same stuff you can buy at Wiliams-Sonoma but my version has a bit more semi-sweet chocolate and some wonderful organic almonds for a tiny bit of crunch and a smidgen of health.
Here’s a quick list of what you will need.:
- 1.5-2 cups raw or organic roasted almonds
- 3 bags of organic/fair trade chocolate chips ( we like 6o% cocoa or semi-sweet)
- 2 bags of white chocolate baking chips (make sure it actually as cocoa butter in the ingredient list! Yes it matters!)
- 10-12 organic peppermint candy canes or 25-30 peppermint candies.
- 2 tsp peppermint extract, divided (buy the highest quality extract you can afford..it really does matter)
- A double boiler insert or a heat proof pyrex glass or stainless steel bowl
- A large enough pot for the double boiler insert or bowl you are using to sit on without touching the simmering water.
- A rimmed cookie sheet, lined with a silicon mat or unbleached wax paper/parchment paper or foil
First heat your chocolate chips and temper the chocolate so it does not bloom or discolor. If you don’t know how to temper chocolate you can learn it here. Once your chocolate is tempered it should look something like the picture below:
Spread your almonds out on your sheet tray
Remove the melted tempered chocolate from the pot of simmering water and quickly add 1 tsp peppermint extract and mix, mix and mix it together to fully mix in the peppermint extract in. Arrange your almonds on your lined rimmed sheet pan and begin pouring the melted chocolate liberly over the scattered almonds, using the back of a spoon or a frosting spatula and spread it around so that everything is evenly coated. It should look something like this :
Let it cool for a little while and grab your candy canes or hard peppermint candies. Unwrap them and place them in a ziplock bag like this one:
Then by yourself or with the kids help smash them to smithereens and I forgot to take a picture again..ugh! Ok moving on now clean the double boiler insert or choose a new clean, sanitized bowl and start tempering the white chocolate!
And again temper the white chocolate..when you are finished it will look like this:
Remove the melted tempered white chocolate from the pot of simmering water and quickly add 1 tsp peppermint extract and mix, mix and mix it together to fully mix in the peppermint extract in. And pour it over the chocolate almond bark, using a spatula or the back of a spoon try to lightly spread the chocolate across the slab. Like the picture below:
Yes that’s an action shot my husband took…it’s not too clear but you get the idea right? Except you may want to layer it a BIT thinner then I did.
Here’s what it would look like spread out with the back of a spoon
And finally add the crushed peppermint candies to the melted, tempered white chocolate… and it should look something like this:
Let it cool overnight or if you need it to cool super fast stick it in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Cut it into strips then triangle type wedges and package in either clear compostable cello bags or a beautiful recycled tin lined with unbleached wax paper on the bottom and in between the layers of chocolate almond peppermint goodness :).
I orginally made this recipe back in 2007 when we started getting a local csa box and i had to find a way to ‘use up’ extra greens (spinach, chard, kale, basil or any combo of them). It was orginally called ’spicy spinach walnut pesto’.
I have since modified it to fit into a seasonal diet with more ‘exact’ measurements. Well ok not really ‘exact’ as it totally depends on how ‘thick’ or ‘thin’ you want your pesto to be. It’s a personal decision. I LOVE super thick pesto that I later dilute to taste.
This is a great pasta sauce, sandwitch spread, appetizer dip or flavorful garnish that will turn up the volume of any veggie or tomato based soup you serve. This also freezes beautifully in ice cube trays, and can be stored in Ziploc baggies or hard sided containers for long term storage. It will last in the fridge for about 7-10 days.
Four season pesto
- 1lb by weight of organic local spinach, kale, chard (beet greens/tops), basil, arugla or a combination of all
- 4-12 cloves of organic garlic, peeled ( we loveeee garlic at our house)
- about 2oz of fresh organic basil or 2 tsp dried basil (optional)
- 1/4-1/2 C raw organic walnuts ( depends on how thick and creamy you want it, add more nuts for a thicker texture)
- 1 whole organic lemon juiced ( about 1/4 c fresh lemon juice)
- 1/4-1/2 C Organic Extra Virgin Olive oil, plus more to store it.
- 1/4-1/2 C grated hard organic cheese ( Parmesan, Romano, Grana Padano)
- Add spinach, garlic and basil to the bowl of your food processor and pulse until it resembles a course mealy texture.
- Using a 1/4 cup measure dump the raw walnuts and lemon juice into the feeding chute of your food processor and pulse to combine with spinach garlic mixture. Add the last 1/4 cup of walnuts to processor if desired.
- Slowly stream in extra virgin olive oil into the chute of the food proccor 1/4 cup at a time, pulsing to combine with spinach garlic mixture. Add remaining extra virgin olive oil if desired and grated hard cheese. Pulse just enough to combine mixture. *
- When storing pesto in a container, pour a little extra virgin olive oil over the top to seal in the moisture so the pesto does not dry out.
* For a thinner sauce add low sodium/low fat chicken or veggie broth until desired texture is created.
Yield: 2.5-3 cups thick pesto sauce or 5-6 cups thin pesto sauce
Every Friday we will be running some kind of contest or giveaway!
This week on the blog I will be posting clues about the ingredients in one of our products. Once you have the full ingredient list you can search our online webstore here or at Artfire.com to find the product and post it as a comment :)
I try to keep rules simple around here so here goes:
- If you want to guess the product with just one clue you can, but you ONLY get 3 chances to answer what the product is
- If one or more person gets the answer right the tie will be decided by random draw or at my decision both people just might win.
- The contest will end when someone posts the right answer or if no one answers correctly (I doubt this will happen) the contest will end on Monday 11/22/10 12pm.
I am found all over the world but during the next few months I am usually harvested in and along the Ivory Cost of Africa, Venezuela and Brasil. What ingredient am I?
I am a shrub native to northern Mexico and the southwestern United States, I am used as a glazing agent, lip balm or lotion bar hardener and have a hard, brittle texture and a opaque to tranclucent yellowish-brown color. What am I?
Feel free to respond in the comments section of the blog or on our facebook fan page.
When we live a life grounded in gratitude, thankful with our eyes focused on what we have. Our lives become a beautiful picture of grace where we live with our hearts, hands, eyes and ears wide open, ready to recieve the blessing in every situation that comes our way. Being open to the greater purpose of how or why things happen and as a result we are able to see opportunities hidden in the momentary or situational hard chips. That ultimately there real and GOOD reasons why things happen and how we can grow despite our pain or difficulties. If you’re breathing, you have people in your life that know and love you. There is SO MUCH to be grateful for!
Verses living a life focusing on our problems and shaking our fist at our problems and the people or circumstances in our life that causes them. When we live a life focused on just our problems we star too long at them and miss the opportunities hidden in those problems.
I’m not perfect and like you and so many others I don’t always live with a heart or lifestyle of gratitude. so I hope you’ll join me if you blog to write about what you are grateful for! I’ll put up Mr. Linky next week where you can post a link to your blog and share what you are grateful for!
What I’m grateful for this week: 11/18/10:
- An amazing husband who loves and encourages me
- My kids who light up my life
- Those who believe and support me in what I am doing with my life.
Feel free to write your gratitudes in the comment box below or link to your own blog on this topic!