Create a Fall to Remember!

Create a Fall to Remember!

Kristi F

I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.

I am a mother of 5 crazy, homeschooling children ages 10 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.
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Each season brings it’s own cravings and fun activities.  It also brings many opportunities to do some soul searching, encourage each other and reach out to others!  You’ll love these ideas to use either in your own family or gift them to others. We’ve gathered a great list of activities, crafts, recipes, printables, decor and more for you to create a fall to remember!

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creating-a-fall-to-remember-pinterestSoul Food

Let’s start by feeding our soul with a little of God’s fall flavor. McKenzie’s way of digging into Scripture through Bible Journaling is inspiring and definitely brings a new perspective to God’s word.

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Sharing God’s love with others is a wonderful way to kick off the fall! Go on a Scavenger Hunt with friends, family or church group. Head out to your neighborhood or one that could use some tender loving care and love on the people there by doing different mini-service projects.

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As we look forward to the changes of fall and all the things that we can create, we can pray for the Lord to create a pure heart in us as well!

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Food

Kick the Morning off Right!

The first thing you reach for in the morning is coffee, right?  Well, that’s my husband. I prefer hot chocolate or a protein drink.  But as soon as I saw this deliciously, healthy version of a pumpkin spice coffee creamer I thought of him.

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These gluten-free apple cinnamon protein pancakes are so good you won’t even need to drown them in syrup!

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These Apple Harvest Muffins are perfect for mornings on the go.

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Fall Inspired Desserts

Ever since I was a child, desserts were what I enjoyed creating in the kitchen the most. As an adult, I still enjoy them but so enjoy finding recipes like this healthier apple crisp that chooses to not use refined white sugar, but instead adds an wonderful fall flavor by using maple syrup.

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These frosted maple cookies have me licking my lips.  I can’t believe I’ve never had these before.  Have you?

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It truly wouldn’t be fall unless homemade pumpkin pie is included!

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Fashion & Home Decor

I’m not one that enjoys shopping for clothes.  I do, however, enjoy shopping with friends who enjoy shopping and finding cute things for me to wear.  Now that I’ve moved into a warmer climate, I found this post about dressing for fall in a warmer climate to be helpful.

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Weclome guest with fall before they even enter your home with this adorable Hoop Fall Wreath.

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There are several fall themed signs for welcoming fall into your house.

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If you prefer to just add subtle hints that fall has arrived consider adding these 3 accessories

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Arts & Crafts

It would not be truly fall without crafts!  Craft fairs and festivals are some of my favorite places to visit in the fall.  I love seeing all the creativity and finding pieces that are draw in the season!

Engage all the senses with the most amazing apple cinnamon no cook playdough.

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This Autumn Hand Print Tree is such a cute way to capture our children’s hand prints and this could totally be made into a card to send off to the first person that pops to mind.

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Get the modge podge out and create a peppier fall look by mixing up the bright colors with your pumpkins!

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Get inspired by nature to create fun art like this digi-leaf art project!

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Activities

There are so many wonderful activities to do during the fall.  Visiting pumpkin patches is probably the first thing that pops to mind but don’t miss enjoying these other activities:

Visiting an apple orchard and picking your own apples!

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Interact with our feathered friends by creating an apple bird feeder for them!

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Fall & football go hand in hand.  Find budget friendly ways to decorate when you cheer on your favorite team.

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Explore nature with the fun fall scavenger hunt.

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Make art out of pressed leaves and flowers by making your own DIY Nature Press!

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Winding Down

There is something about fall that makes me want to gather with friends around my favorite drinks. Of course, Hot Chocolate will always be my favorite but since this is a fall round up post, I’ll share some others that are tempting me as well.

My Mother’s Quick and Delicious Apple Cider is one people always as about when they come over. It also makes a perfect gift for your neighbors!

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One of my favorite fall treats is a caramel covered apple and this Caramel Apple Cider recipe seems to be the drinkable version of that treat!

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And if you still need more ideas to dive into fall, check out these posts:

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50-ideas-best-fall-ever-1024x691

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What are some of your favorite fall activities?  

What is a new fall activity you are looking forward to enjoying? 

 

Be encouraged by these posts as well!

Spiritual Bucket List Favorite Soups Confessions of a Homemaker Shine on Halloween

Un-Crazy Your Summer (Plus a Great Easy Recipe)

Un-Crazy Your Summer (Plus a Great Easy Recipe)

Elizabeth P

I am a recovering Army brat who loves to travel and start new adventures. My handsome husband and I met at Oklahoma Christian University and he whisked me away to Kansas. So, I bought some ruby red high heels and made Topeka my home. I have a rough and rowdy Princess 4-year-old girl, amazing twin boys (almost 3) and a newborn baby girl who all make every day an adventure. We are grateful to be part of an amazing church in Topeka who regularly challenges and encourages our whole family. I have been both a full-time working mom and a stay-at-home-mom and/or both at the same time at one point or another. I am constantly seeking God’s wisdom on “balancing it all” and following His plan for my life, not mine.
Elizabeth P

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It’s time to un-crazy your summer.

A mentor I deeply respect once told me, “Busyness is not a spiritual gift.”

This sage piece of wisdom has resurfaced in my mind more frequently as my family grows. To some degree, life is just busy! It is busy in all sorts of ways, and honestly, we are busy in some way or another in every season of our lives.

How many times have you answered, “Oh, we’ve just been busy!” when someone has asked how you’ve been doing lately? Is that what we should accept as the norm for our families?

As we face a spring and summer full of extra busyness with graduations, trips, weddings, family events, block parties, and holidays, I want to encourage you to consider a couple tips.

Tips to Un-crazy a Busy Summer

1.  Don’t let a busy summer and routine change keep you from reading your Bible and spending time with God. As we see with Martha in Luke 10, Martha was anxious and troubled with all her preparations but Jesus wanted her to sit and listen to the “good portion” like her sister Mary.  Guys, if I’m like anyone in the Bible, it’s Martha. Don’t be like Martha and me, spend extra time with the Lord.

2. If you have kids, try not to over-extend your kiddos for the sake of attending something. Sometimes, certain family gatherings scheduled smack in the middle of nap time just aren’t going to work. That’s OK.

3. Be intentional about days of rest. My family recently went through a four-day event binge which ended on a Sunday evening. My husband and I realized we never got a day of rest together as a family. There’s a reason God built that in…and even Jesus encouraged his disciples to rest in Mark 6:31. Anyway, that’s not a schedule we plan to replicate any time in the near future.

4. If you’ve committed to “bringing something” find three easy crowd-pleaser recipes for rotation. Easy and delicious is the key. One of my favorites is below. It’s fresh, healthy, and so easy.

In the end, there are some things we need to do and some things we don’t. Setting boundaries for yourself and your family through your decisions on calendar commitments can make all the difference.

Texas Tabbouleh

This is my version, which I adapted from this original recipe.

  • 2 cups of cooked quinoa (cooked according to package directions, cooled to room temp). I also like couscous if I don’t have good quinoa on hand.
  • 2 medium fresh tomatoes, diced small
  • 1/2 cup very finely chopped red onion
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 can (15 ounces) of sweet yellow corn, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped (2 if you like heat)
  • 3/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup lime juice, plus a few dashes more to taste before serving
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) crumbled queso fresco or feta cheese

Directions:

Mix everything together in a big bowl. Refrigerate for at least an hour, but overnight is better. Before serving, taste and add a little bit more oil and lime juice if it’s dry.

 

 

Banana Walnut Chocolate Chip Muffins

Banana Walnut Chocolate Chip Muffins

Lindsay W

Hi! Born in the great state of Texas and raised in the northern suburbs of Atlanta, this Daughter of the Alamo/Georgia Peach is still adjusting to life in Razorback Nation! My husband and I live just outside of Little Rock, Arkansas with our two toddlers and two crazy pups. I’m a small business owner, chocolate aficionado, and travel lover with a 2pm coffee hour no matter what time zone I’m in!
Lindsay W

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Don’t you just love it when one of your always-on-your-grocery-list items is in season?

It’s that time of year when almost all of my favorite fruits and veggies are in season, which is great news for parents going through baby-led weaning, like me!

My baby girl LOVES bananas! I call her Banana Girl. So, I pick up a few bananas every time I pop into the grocery store.

The double score? My husband LOVES banana walnut chocolate chip muffins.

So, you can guess what’s being consumed on a daily basis in our house right now…yep, bananas.

Whether they’ve been rolled in rice cereal, mashed into a muffin, or blended into my smoothie, everyone is eating bananas.

As most of my go-to recipes, this is one that came together after trying a few I’d found on Pinterest after my husband’s first request for banana walnut chocolate chip muffins. He thinks they’re great for breakfast as he’s running out the door to work, and I think they’re great with a cup of afternoon coffee!

Banana Walnut Chocolate Chip Muffins
Ingredients:

1.5 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1 Tbsp ground flaxseed

1 egg

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 medium-size bananas (or 1.5 large bananas)

1/8-1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips (per personal preference)

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, flaxseeds, and salt.

Combine egg, oil, milk, lemon juice, and vanilla in a separate bowl.

Stir the wet ingredient mixture into the dry ingredients.

Mash up your bananas with a fork in your now empty wet bowl. Add your chocolate chips and walnuts. Then fold them into your batter.

Grease your muffin tin or drop in muffin tin liners. Fill each cup 3/4 full. Bake at 350 for 20-25 min or until golden brown on top and a toothpick comes out clean.

Enjoy for breakfast, like my hubby, or for snack time, like me!

Do you have an always-on-your-grocery-list item that everyone in the house eats but in different ways? Comment below! I’d love some inspiration to give my grocery list a little more versatility!

Lindsay

Copycat Trader Joe’s Green Tea Muffins

Copycat Trader Joe’s Green Tea Muffins

Lindsay W

Hi! Born in the great state of Texas and raised in the northern suburbs of Atlanta, this Daughter of the Alamo/Georgia Peach is still adjusting to life in Razorback Nation! My husband and I live just outside of Little Rock, Arkansas with our two toddlers and two crazy pups. I’m a small business owner, chocolate aficionado, and travel lover with a 2pm coffee hour no matter what time zone I’m in!
Lindsay W

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Once upon a time, Trader Joe’s carried a very special and unique boxed muffin mix. Like many of Trader Joe’s unique items, I nor anyone I knew, had ever seen or heard of this kind of muffin before. And once you whipped up a batch of them, you never wanted any other kind of muffin ever again. Because no muffin could compete with a homemade green tea muffin- well, no muffin could compete with a Trader Joe’s green tea muffin.

The Quest to Copycat Trader Joe’s Green Tea Muffins

One day, a little over 10 years ago, I showed up on a Sunday afternoon to my sunny Trader Joe’s in Buckhead, GA to complete my weekly grocery shopping and to my horror couldn’t find the green tea muffin mix. I asked an associate, in his happy Hawaiian shirt, if there were any in the back of the store. But to my dismay, he told me they didn’t have any, and he was pretty sure they’d been discontinued.

So, I purchased a boxed banana muffin mix instead, drove home to my little apartment, opened my laptop, and found the Contact Us link on Trader Joe’s website. Oh yes, I did. Hopeful, I asked if there were any stores anywhere in the United States that were selling the boxed mix since mine wasn’t anymore. A nice guy from Trader Joe’s quickly emailed me back with the sad news… No, there weren’t. The product had been pulled and wasn’t available for sale anywhere, and it wasn’t likely they’d be bringing it back.

And so my quest began- I had to recreate that recipe. After several miserably failed attempts, I gave up. I hung my white flag and resolved that green tea muffins would just be a college memory of sorts.

The Quest Rekindled

But then, a few weeks ago, while shopping at my local Kroger, I saw a cute little container of Matcha and was inspired to give it one more go.

Maybe my baking skills have just improved or maybe I finally found the right kind of Matcha to give my muffins that unique green tea flavor, but whatever it is, I figured it out. I’ve finally recreated Trader Joe’s Green Tea Muffin.

Extra Secret Ingredient!

It gets better. The recipe I’m about to share with you is not only packed with the health benefits that green tea has to offer, it also has ZUCCHINI in it!! (Insert praise hands!) I’m giving you all the good stuff here people. And if that wasn’t enough, these muffins are also toddler approved. My 2 year old loves them.

So here it is, the recipe for Copycat Trader Joe’s Green Tea Muffins:

Ingredients:

1.5 cup all purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup canola oil

2 tablespoon lemon juice

1 egg

1 large zucchini (pureed)

2 tsp Matcha powder

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Puree zucchini.

Mix wet ingredients (including pureed zucchini) except egg.

Add dry ingredients (except Matcha). Mix together. Add egg.

Mix together. Add Matcha. Mix together.

Spray muffin tin with non-stick spray or line with muffin liners. Fill each muffin cup 2/3 with batter.

Bake for 20-22 min. Enjoy!

And try not to eat them all as soon as they come out of the oven!!

Do you have a favorite food you’ve managed to create a copycat recipe for? I’d love to hear about your journey to mastering it in the comments below!

Lindsay

(Lindsay Tip: My 2 year old and I LOVE all of the homemade muffins we bake, so to avoid eating all of them in one day, as soon as the muffins have cooled, I put them all in gallon-size freezer bags and put them straight into the freezer. Whenever someone wants a muffin, I just microwave it for 20 sec, and wa la! Easy for snacks and easier on the waist line!)

Healthy Holiday Habits

Healthy Holiday Habits

Julie W

I am a certified fitness instructor and have been teaching group fitness classes for over 22 years. I am also a board certified holistic health counselor with a degree from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City. I am 48 years old with a 25 year old daughter and a 23 year old son. My husband Chris and I have been married for 28 years. I have been a member of the Church of Christ my entire life as well as my mother, father and both sets of grandparents. I am the owner of a local food service based business and currently teach conditioning classes here in the Edmond area. I have been a strict vegetarian for many years but I will walk 10 miles barefoot in the snow for a good piece of chocolate! ;)
Julie W

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I am such a huge fan of all things fall and the holiday season!  What I am not such a fan of are all the years I spent feeling guilty for days after the holidays because of all the so-called bad food I let myself go crazy with.

I have since learned some simple healthy habits that keep me feeling totally satisfied with my entire holiday experience. I have determined to rid myself of the food-guilt relationship once and for all.

These tips also come in handy for that very purpose.

1. Focus on having a super-healthy couple of days prior to the BIG day.

Have a few meat-free days, load up on fresh produce, and try to reduce your sugar intake for several days, which will curb your desire for sweets a bit before you are bombarded with tons of desserts and treats.

2. Focus more on the gathering and the people present than on the food itself.

Yes, eating is a huge part of our American tradition, but take the time to really be present with your guests. Set a beautiful table and engage your friends in conversation and laughter, prolonging the eating experience. Statistically speaking, we do the most calorie damage in the first few minutes of eating. We power through the meal, and before we know it we have overeaten to the point of discomfort. Take time to savor the flavors and the simple joy of eating together. In a nutshell…slow down.

3. Keep some healthy go-to dishes on hand and even offer to bring a dish or two if you are the guest and not the cook.

Survey the table and fill your plate with the healthier options, filling up on those first. Then with the bit of room you’ve saved, go ahead and have the treats you look forward to every year. This strategy works wonders! You still enjoy the things you love, but you have nourished your body with some good choices first, which allows you to have your cake and eat it too, so to speak. Here are a couple of my must-haves.

For me, the sweet tooth queen of the world, if I have these two backups on hand I am a happy camper and not totally at the mercy of the dessert buffet!

Click here for the recipe printable  – Healthy Holiday Habits

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My Favorite Apple Cider

In a slow cooker combine:

  • 64 oz pure apple cider
  • 2 cinnamon sticks,
  • 1 split vanilla bean
  • 6 chai tea bags
  • Cook on low for 4 hours.

Remove all the bags, cinnamon sticks, and vanilla bean and add ¼ cup lemon juice, stir, and serve.

Pumpkin bread that will rock your healthy world

In a large bowl combine:

  • 5 cups pure pumpkin
  • 2 cups coconut sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • ¾ cup safflower oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla.

Thoroughly mix with a large spoon until combined. In another large bowl, combine:

  • 4 cups spelt flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¾ cup chocolate chips (I use grain-sweetened chips such as Enjoy Life brand)
  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts or macadamia nuts.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and thoroughly mix until well combined. Note: if you want to hold back a little bit of the chips and nuts you can sprinkle them on the top before baking.

Bake in three greased loaf pans (I like to use coconut oil on a paper towel to grease the pans) at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Let the loaves cool in the pan for a few minutes, then turn them out onto a baking rack to cool completely.  ENJOY!

Happy holidays! Share love and Jesus with everyone who comes into your presence!

 

 

 

 

Quick and Easy Apple Cider, Three Ways!

Quick and Easy Apple Cider, Three Ways!

Kristi F

I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.

I am a mother of 5 crazy, homeschooling children ages 10 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.
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When the north wind starts to drive the warm weather away, the air turns crisp as the leaves begin to fall, and the days start to hint at winter, memories of apple cider dance into mind.

My mother makes THE BEST apple cider!

Her recipe will have all your guests coming back to refill their mug and asking if you made that delicious apple cider when they walk in the door. The best part–it is so easy to make!

Today I’m going to share three easy ways to make apple cider.  One is my mom’s traditional apple cider recipe, which is a staple at all our family and friend gatherings once it turns cold.  The other two are my ultra-simplified version of an already simplified version.  Why?  Because I stumbled upon these variations and found them to be amazingly simple yet still yielding the great taste that the traditional cider brings.

My Mom’s Traditional Apple Cider Recipe

For this recipe you will need:

  • Apple juice
  • Apple cider
  • Orange juice
  • Cinnamon sticks (do not use powder)
  • Whole cloves
quick-easy-delicious-apple-cider

I purchased whatever organic products were on sale at my local store. Choose whatever brands you like best!

You can make as much or as little as you want.  Typically, my mom makes an entire crock pot full of cider.  She simply puts all the ingredients into the crock pot and uses the following amounts:

  • 3 parts apple juice
  • 2 parts apple cider
  • 1 part orange juice*
  • cinnamon sticks (usually 4-5 if filling the crock pot)
  • whole cloves (almost a handful, if filling the crock pot)

So, for example, if she uses three cups of apple juice, she’ll use two cups of cider, and one cup of orange juice.

*Depending on what kind of orange juice you buy, you will need to alter this amount.  If you use fresh orange juice, you might want to add it a little more than one part orange juice.  If you use a canned or frozen concentrate, then you might use less than one part orange juice.  Basically, you want to taste it along the way and adjust it to your liking.

Turn the crock pot on high and let it simmer 10-15 minutes. Then it will be ready to serve!  How easy is that?  Your house will smell great, your guests will be impressed, and you will have spent hardly any time slaving away in the kitchen, which means more time enjoying your guests!

(Of course, you could use a pot on the stove as well.  We just don’t like to use up valuable stove top real estate when we are cooking holiday meals, so we use the crock pot.)

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The Modified Apple Cider

The first time I decided to make my mom’s cider, I did not have cinnamon sticks or whole cloves.  Using the powder would have left a not so palatable film in the liquid, so I grabbed what I had on hand.  Can you guess what it was?

Thieves essential oil!  Thieves actually has cinnamon and cloves in it as well as some other oils, including lemon, eucalyptus radiata, and rosemary. I know that combination might seem a little strange, but let me tell you, it tastes great!  I just used a few drops and still received the rave reviews that my mom always gets.

(This post contains affiliate links.)

thieves essential oil

Just a few drops gave the cider just the right amount of warmth!

The Faux Apple Cider

This version of apple cider I happened onto by complete accident.  I had a sore throat and was trying everything to get rid of it.  I remembered that gargling with the aforementioned thieves might help, but I did not want to gargle it.  I was tired and just wanted to sleep.  So, I put a drop of thieves into a cup of apple juice and drank it down.*  The thieves numbed my throat and calmed my cough so I could go to sleep.  I was totally impressed with how it worked but even more impressed with how my apple juice tasted like apple cider with just one drop of added essential oil.

Call me lazy if you want, but my mom’s recipe went from being already easy to super easy!  Of course, this last version I did not heat up because I wanted the full effects of the oils to work.

Perfect Gift

Although I do enjoy sitting while reading and sipping on my apple cider, I believe apple cider should be enjoyed with others.  Actually, most of my memories involving apple cider are with a house full of people. We are having fun, talking, laughing, and sharing life.

Apple cider would be a perfect gift to share with others this season.  I found this great bottle at a local store for about $3. After we enjoyed the lemonade the bottle originally contained, I simply removed the label and now we can recycle it as an apple cider gift!

apple-cider-makes-a-perfect-gift-1

What memories do you have associated with apple cider?

With whom might you enjoy sharing a cup of apple cider?

 

Items you might consider using for this recipe:

 

*(Thieves is a blend of essential oils. I believe in the French philosophy of using essential oils, which allows for the ingesting of some oils. There are other philosophies that do not.  I do recommend using safety precautions, learning about essential oil safety and not just doing it because I do it this way.  I don’t recommend drinking large amounts of thieves but I’ve found a drop every 4-6 hours does help me when I’m not feeling well.)

apple-cider-pinterest

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