are internet friends imaginary friends?

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today, after wishing two of my long-time friends happy birthday (via twitter) and realizing that I’d never even met either of them, I began to think about all of the people I easily call friends, yet we’ve only communicated via the web. does this make them any less of a friend, or more? my internet friends (most of whom I’ve connected with through the old etsy forum or twitter) know more about me than some of my family. they’ve been there through the end of my marriage, the milestones and struggles of my three kids, break ups and make ups, job loss, job attainment and more. they’re always there—and gladly offer support, advice or just humor without hesitation or prejudice. the seemingly unconditional friendships I have with my online friends is a comfort I’ve grown accustomed to, and would miss dearly if the inter-webs collapsed.

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several of these online relationships have grown into long time ‘real life’ friends, whom I chat with, have visited in their home states….one of whom actually dropped everything in her life and drove five hours upon hearing I was in the hospital. (that’s a serious friend). but I really believe these now IRL friends became who they are to me from those years of fostering the relationship on the internet. getting to know someone without any preconceived notions about them, their appearance, where they live, etc. creates a relationship that is truly just built on friendship and support…..and is not imaginary at all.

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for: anna, jon, tina, beth, sarah, kate, vanessa, katie

xoxo

time to bake.

(finally)

looking back, and realizing that we have moved six times in the past year helps me understand why lately I just feel like sitting on the bed zoning out to back episodes of shows like “keeping up with the kardashians” and “brooklyn nine nine”.

mindless brain numbing occupiers of my time.

 

but last night I decided I needed a treat, preferably a gluten free one….and even better if I could bake it myself.

so

I did just that.

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behold; the shortbread crust.

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reserve 3/4 cup of the crust, blend with brown sugar and 1/4 cup gluten free flour.

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I used frozen organic cherries….tossed with a tiny bit of sugar (about a teaspoon)

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sprinkle the crumb topping on top.

bake!

 

Gluten Free Cherry Shortbread Crumble

Ingredients
  • 2 cups (280g) + ¼ cup (35g) high-quality all-purpose gluten-free flour
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
  • ¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 16 tablespoons (224g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup (109g) packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup frozen (organic) cherries, thawed and tossed with a teaspoon of sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch square pan. Set the pan aside.
  2. In a large bowl, place 2 cups flour, the xanthan gum, (if needed)  granulated sugar and salt, and whisk to combine well. Add the butter, and mix to combine. The mixture should come together as a soft dough. Remove about ¾ cup (150g) of the dough and transfer it to a medium-size bowl. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon and the remaining ¼ cup (35g) flour to the reserved dough, and mix to combine. This is the crumble topping. Place the bowl of crumble topping in the freezer to chill.
  3. Scrape the remaining soft shortbread dough into the prepared square pan, and press into an even layer with a spoon, or well-floured hands. Set aside.
  4. Layer the cherries on top of the shortbread evenly.
  5. Remove the crumble topping from the freezer and sprinkle it in an even layer on top of the cherries. Press down on the topping gently but firmly.
  6. Place the pan in the center of the preheated oven, and bake for 45 minutes, or until the top is uniformly light brown in color and seems set. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool completely (place in the freezer to speed the process).
  7. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Freeze any leftovers, tightly enclosed in freezer-safe wrapping.

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so.

 

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sometimes things don’t go as planned.

so, alas we are moving again. moving; and moving on.

I am ready for peace, and to focus on our goals.  life this past year has been seriously crazy. I means seriously crazy; the stress landed me in the hospital the other night.

 

but now, I’m ready to attack the next year.

 

and hope it doesn’t attack back.

 

snack time.

I’ve been benefiting greatly from the use of essential oils lately, and sharing them with my friends and family to help them has become one of the best benefits. from helping my little nephew find a solution to his tummy aches, to the awesome sight of my brother in law inhaling peppermint oil for the first time and being able to breathe through both nostrils for the first time in years! (priceless)

using oils in cooking is something I’m just starting to experiment with, and this recipe from doTERRA we’ve made several times, in that it’s so easy and delicious. you’d never know there was no refined sugars, gluten or dairy in these tiny pops of power and flavor.

give them a try–and if you’d like to have more information on the benefits of oils for your family, feel free to contact me here with the link above.
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let’s bake a cake.

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gluten free white velvet birthday cake.

for a special boy turning nine

  • 2 3/4 cups sifted all purpose gluten free flour 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup vegetable shortening; I used solid Crisco (at room temperature)
  • 2 tablespoons good quality vanilla extract (if you want a pure white cake, use clear vanilla extract)
  • 3 large eggs (at room temperature)
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk (at room temperature)
  1. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  2. Grease and flour 2 eight inch round cake pans and line the bottom with 2 circles of parchment paper. (for this cake I used one larger pan)
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat together the vegetable oil, shortening, sugar and vanilla. Beat well at high speed with whisk attachment until light and fluffy
  4. Beat the eggs in one at a time.
  5. Fold in the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk.
  6. I always add dry ingredients in three divisions and liquid ingredients in 2 divisions. End the additions with the dry ingredients. Do not over mix the batter. As soon as it has no lumps in the batter, pour into the two prepared 9 inch cake pans.
  7. Bake at 325 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the pans for 10 minutes before turning out onto wire racks to cool completely.

frost with dairy free marshmallow frosting:

  • 4 egg whites
  • ¼ tsp cream of tarter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • ½ cup corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup water

In a small saucepan combine sugar, corn syrup and water. Bring to a boil over medium heat and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer or when a teaspoonful of the mixture dropped into ice water forms a soft ball that holds its shape when cool.

Whip the egg whites, cream of tartar and vanilla extract to soft peaks in a large bowl. Keeping the mixer on medium high speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the egg white bowl in a thin stream. Continue to whip the frosting until it forms stiff peaks.

Frost your cake immediately while it is still slightly warm, this is much easier as it gets sticky when it cools.

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serve to a happy birthday boy (or girl).

beds.

the last morning with these two boys, in my tiny studio apartment on the Hudson River, I told them they could only watch a movie if they made my bed.

“we don’t know how to make a bed!”

figure it out, I told them. and you need to do it together, with no fighting.

it was a big bed, a king, with lots of pillows, two blankets and a quilt. they struggled for a few minutes, and then put their heads together and sure enough….they made that bed. I hope they take that lesson with them, and realize that by working together, they can face any challenge, and get things done if they stick by each other, as a team.

Imagenow, here I am in Ohio and making new beds. of the garden variety.

the plan calls for five raised beds (one for herbs, up near the house and the remaining four down near the stream will hold vegetables of all kinds)

as we planned them out; measuring, estimating, researching costs…we realized that the largest expense would be the wood to frame out the beds. finding old wood seemed like the best solution. and just as we asked for it, the Universe (or garbage day) supplied it in the form of a neighbor ridding himself of a picket fence. the pickets were the perfect, pre-cut size and add an adorable home-made re-purposed farm look to the boxes.

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we ordered up some good clean dirt and got to filling our herb garden box. my nephew was in his glory. “dirt!”

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planting the first plants…. 

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the final boxes awaiting their dirt delivery….

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and this old guy just enjoying being in the sun (and photo bombing most every shot I seemed to take)….

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our team working together to get things done.

 

that time we packed everything we owned in my car, and got the hell out of new york.

(otherwise known as The Day We Became Minimalists Without Even Trying)packedCar

 

2013-14 will be the Years of Change. I’ve moved three times in less than twelve months. From a fourth floor apartment in a building filled with dying old people (literally, dying. when we moved out we were one of only three apartments with viable human life still in them: all previous inhabitants had left feet first). to an amazing high rise on the shores of my beautiful Lake Erie, waking up feeling like it was vacation every day (until I lost my job, and then it became a glorious prison) and then on to the mountain top cabin in the Hudson Valley to care for two motherless boys and their lost father….which slowly turned into a prison of a whole different sort as we realized there is no helping those who won’t help themselves.

which brings us to last week. and the sudden, yet well thought out decision to just throw the towel in on New York and seek refuge in the open arms of my sister and her house full of animals, kids and a blues singer husband.

 

 

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so this will be the #summerofhealing (yes, we’ve already discussed a hashtag for it). we’re designing an organic garden, plotting out a wildflower area and chopping firewood. and naps, lots of naps….most of them on the porch, some in the hammock.

the lesson learned from the past year (so far) is that it is time to take care of myself. (have I said that before?) well, this time I mean it.

sisters.

sisters.

 

 

 

seriously.

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Renting often means ugh, seriously?

and in this case, it was a lot of. well, “OK let me just go ahead and clean that mysterious weird splattering on the wall because apparently you were in too big of a hurry moving two floors up (and now you have to see me EVERY DAY) to take of that yourself.” seriously.

yesterday I had finally made my way to the stainless steel sink in the kitchen. at least I hoped it was stainless, it was an odd shade of rusty brown…..a mix of the high iron content water around these parts and what I’m guessing is years of never being scrubbed.

now, typically I would take out the strong powdery cleaner in the round green can that I was raised on, but this day, this day I had received my ‘Oil Mail’ containing doTERRA’s concentrated cleaner. so, I sprinkled some baking soda, a little bit of kosher salt for added grit and about 10 drops of OnGuard Concentrated cleaner all directly into the sink and went to work with a scrubby.

worked a charm! and smelled heavenly. (OnGuard contains: wild orange, clove bud, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and rosemary essential oils)

seriously.

(ps: oh, and it’s on sale this month. 10% off. talk to me about oils on twitter, facebook or by using the form via the link up above.)

clean that kitchen! (and other fun things to do while we wait for spring….)

it seems like it will never get here.
I hear the birds outside my window in the morning.
some days the sun is even shining.
the mountains of snow are slowly becoming just piles of gray icy mass.
yesterday it went up to 52 degrees here in the Hudson River Valley.

but still, no spring.

so I look around this tiny apartment for more things to….well, clean.
because that’s what I do when I’m cooped up and have run out of things to organize.

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it’s been a long hard winter here. but now it’s time to move forward, face new challenges and find the silver lining in that brutalness.

I’m going to start by cleaning.

(if you’re interested in the onGuard cleaning deal this month from doTERRA, click on the essential oils link above)

xoxo

using oils; where to start?

I recently received my second package of doTERRA essential oils in the mail, and after opening them all, inhaling them all….I wondered, now what? it can be overwhelming, this new approach to health. do I drop them in my mouth? do I sniff them? sprinkle them around the room? where’s the instruction manual?

so I thought I’d run a few posts on the different oils I’m using, and how I’m using them, to help others who may be wondering the same thing!
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my current favorite oil blend from doTERRA is Serenity which is a blend of essential oils all with known calming properties. The oils are: lavender, sweet marjoram, roman chamomile, ylang ylang, sandalwood and vanilla bean combined together to create an awesomely subtle aroma.

applied to the bottom of the feet at bedtime, is one way to support restful sleep. added to a warm bath, Serenity creates the perfect escape with its peaceful, renewing fragrance. if you have a diffuser, diffused in the room at bedtime or throughout the day for it’s calming properties.

I recently started applying it to the back of the neck of the four year old that I nanny for who has some behavior difficulties at school to see if it will help him get through the day….he reported an “awesome day” yesterday, so I think I’ll keep going with that! and at night, I put drops on a hot washcloth for his older brother to put over his face to help him get to sleep.

I carry Serenity in my purse so I can pop it out and just take a quick *whiff* if I need it!

I hope these ideas help–let me know if you have any of your own tips or need any questions answered!