Peppermint Almond Chocolate Bark

Recently Young Living got the go ahead in Canada to label a select few of their essential oils as food grade. Though in the US they have been able to label them this way for quite a while.

This opens up so many more possibilities on how to use the oils! Though the label is different the actual oil inside the bottle is the exact same so if you have the oil from before you can still use them this way.

I’ve been on a chocolate kick lately and have seen several versions of this recipe floating around the Internet. It’s not my first time making chocolate, but I normally use cocoa butter and cacao etc. This time I just wanted a fast and easy recipe and I thought it would be fun to try out some essential oils in it too.

This took me less than the time it took to make a cup of tea – I know that because I made it while waiting for my tea to steep. I usually have a bag of this in the freezer and grab a piece or two whenever I’m craving chocolate (usually daily!).

So without further ado:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 1-4 drops peppermint vitality essential oil
  • Handful of crushed almonds
  • Sea salt (optional)

Directions:

Melt chocolate and coconut oil together. I prefer to use the double boiler method but putting it in the microwave in 30 second increments and stirring after each time also works.

Once melted add the peppermint oil to taste. I love lots of peppermint flavour so I added 4 drops.

Line a cookie sheet with wax or parchment paper. Pour out the chocolate and spread with a spatula. Top with almonds and sea salt if you want.

Put in freezer for 30 minutes.

Take out break apart and EAT!

Garden Update August 5, 2017

I wrote this post sitting in a  car, driving to my parents.  It’s a long drive and an even longer one with two kids – one being 4 months old.  I figured it was a good time to post another update! We are enjoying our very short trip and I’m really hoping the garden is still doing well when we return! That’s the downside of gardening – travelling is hard to do unless you have someone to tend to the gardens. 

It’s been a busy week around here but I still managed to get some gardening done.  I finally have all the tomatoes supported, including catching up on the big gardens tomato weave – the pictures I have were taken on Tuesday before I finished the weave.  The greenhouse tomatoes have almost grown taller than their supports and still look awesome.  The outside potted tomatoes don’t look amazing but they’ve all been fertilized now so hopefully they perk up.  The garden peppers seemed to have liked the fertilizer, there are lots of peppers popping up now and they look a lot greener and healthier.  We are eating a zucchini a day and I think I’ll be making a lot of zucchini baked goods.  I put up a garden net securing it to the garden box and then to the fence for the butternut squash, watermelon, and cucumbers to climb.  I haven’t had any flowers or fruit on any of those yet – next year I definitely have to start them early in the greenhouse.  

I think that’s it for updates this week.  Seemed like the tomatoes are all getting ready to start ripening – then the fun begins! 

Disclaimer: you are about to see my yard in its truest form – always cluttered with various things Ezekiel drags around.  I did clean it right after these pictures but in the spirit of keeping it real didn’t retake them! 


That’s it for this week! Happy gardening friends! 

Garden Update July 24, 2017

Another weeks gone by and it was incredibly busy for us, full of baby showers, play dates and medical appointments.  I found it hard to keep up with the housework so gardening was not happening.  The most I got done was making sure everything was watered and the greenhouse tomato plants fertilized.  Thankfully the gardens are at the point where a week of neglect isn’t too bad and barely noticeable.  I will say that I’ve basically given up on pruning the tomatoes.  I do some here and there but keeping up with 91 plants is just too much! 

Anyways the garden seems to be doing well! I ate my first tomato – Amish paste variety, it was tasty! The tomatoes are all growing like crazy, I’m especially happy with how the greenhouse plants are doing, the shade cloth has proved to be a great purchase.  The greenhouse peppers are also doing amazing, the peppers in the garden however are still not doing awesome.  I’m going to try a bit of fertilizer but I actually think it’s too much sun.  There are a couple plants being shaded by the zucchini and they are green and amazing, so maybe I need to get another shade cloth and rig it up somehow.  Also a lot of the peppers are splitting, I thought maybe the hail we got before had damaged some but now there are more.  From what I read online it’s probably due to inconsistent watering – which makes sense, so I guess I’ll try to be more consistent with the peppers. The greens, carrots, and onions are status quo.  We ate our first half zucchini last night from Ezekiel’s little garden and he’s getting a couple pea pods to munch on per day which makes him happy.  I  cut our first dill harvest today, made some dill potatoes and froze the rest.  

So here’s the garden in pictures! 


Tomatoes like crazy! 


The pictures make the peppers look happier than they are.


Despite them not looking happy there are still some peppers growing.


I can’t wait to dig up those heads of lettuce! 


Zucchinis are taking off!


Ezekiel’s garden goods.


Loving having an herb garden! 


The greenhouse is just so much fun this year! 

That’s it for this week! I’m predicting that I’m going to be incredibly busy with tomatoes in the next three weeks.  I’m mentally gearing up the busyness of canning in the fall.  I think I’ll be doing a lot of baby wearing ūüôā

Garden Update July 16,2017

Look at me go, an actual week update! 

It’s been a bit of crazy weather around here and it’s kept me on my toes hoping the garden survives! We’ve had a heat wave but with heat waves come storms.  I’ve thought we were going to get hail a few times and we did get hail once.  I watched and hoped it didn’t ruin everything and thankfully we had no complete casualties although there was some damage.  There were a lot of damaged leaves to the tomatoes and peppers, a couple peppers that were growing ended up ruined, the greens were pelted pretty bad but there’s still lots left to grow and eat.  The watermelon, cucumbers, squash, pumpkin and zucchini all had damage, the most being to the watermelon and cucumbers – I don’t think we’ll get any harvest from either of them anyways.  The other damage was to the flower gardens, they are now laying down and leaning everywhere so I’m going to try and hold them up somehow. 

Otherwise, this week I’ve been working away at getting the tomatoes all supported, pruned and fertilized – still not done, and never will be I’m assuming. I also hung the shade cloth in the greenhouse with some trial and error, but it’s hanging! The plants seem to love the shade, it still gets smoking hot in there but the sun isn’t scorching them.  I got all the peppers either potted up or planted in the garden.  I’ve now realized my big mistake with all the peppers in the garden – I didn’t bother to harden them off. See, I haven’t hardened off the tomatoes at all and they’ve done well so I didn’t even think about gardening off the peppers! So they’ll survive I’m sure but their growth won’t be nearly as good as it would have been had I taken the time to harden them off.  I’ve also thinned out all the carrots and we’ve been munching on the babies.  

Whew – when I write it all out I realize how much I’ve actually done! Sometimes it feels like I’m just spinning my wheels and getting nowhere.  That’s another reason I like doing these updates, to remind myself that although some days (right now it feels like all days) seem like all I do is feed kids, put kids to bed and clean up all the messes that I am actually able to accomplish much more than that. 

So here’s what the garden looks like:


The herbs are flourishing! I can’t wait to use these in my cooking soon! The fill definitely needs to be harvested, I’ll be using it in a lot of roasted/BBQ potatoes. 


Ezekiel’s gardens are doing pretty well! I think the carrots and peas are going to be great! 


The potted tomatoes seem to be doing great! I’ll need to fertilize these ones real soon. 


You can see the greens, carrots and onions had some hail damage but I think they’re bouncing back. 


The squash, zucchini and pumpkins are taking off but the cucumbers and watermelons suck.  



The peppers! So many of them! Some days I look at them and think “they’re doing so well!” Then the next I look and think “they look so sad!” Despite that all, there are quite a few peppers growing and lots of flowers so hopefully we’ll get a good harvest. 


The tomatoes….. allllllll the tomatoes.  One is going to be ripe soon, and I can’t wait to eat it! The tomatillos are going nuts, I seriously under estimated how much room they would need, unlike most of my tomato varieties which growing like a vine and are easily contained – they grow up and way out! They are really pretty though. 


The potatoes look like they’re growing well. It’s always a nice surprise at the end of the season to see what’s underneath the green! 


I love these gardens more and more each day. 


The greenhouse is doing fantastic, and I love it more this year than last.  

Well, that’s it for this week.  Always lots and lots to do, but it’s slower work and I can do a tiny bit each day.  It’s been nice to slow down before the craziness of harvest comes and I’m drowning in tomatoes. 

Ciao friends! Happy Gardening!

Garden Update June 22

I’ve been trying to sit down and write this for a couple days but each time I try a little person needs my help.  I suppose that’s the life of a mom – especially moms of younger ones.  So I’ve resorted to writing this on my phone – convenient but not as trust worthy when it comes to spelling (dang autocorrect!) so forgive any grammatical and spelling mistakes.  

It’s been a good week in the garden. We are going to be having fresh salads next week and I cannot wait! There’s several tomatoes forming, some of the plants have sun damage but there’s lots of healthy new growth which is what really matters. The hot peppers seem to be struggling I guess I should have been a bit more patient before putting them in the garden.  I have a lot still in the greenhouse to fall back on if they don’t produce anything.  My paprika peppers, jalape√Īos, and sweet peppers all seem to be doing well though! The rest of the garden is sprouted and growing – I’m most surprised by the watermelons, really hoping to get at least one! The wildflower gardens are thriving as well – it’s going to be fun seeing what pops up there when they start to bloom.  

Here’s the pictures this week: 


Gourmet, rocky top, and midnight ruffle lettuce in the back.  


Arugula (super delicious!) and kale in the back.  Swischard and spinach in the middle.


Butternut squash, cucumbers and watermelon, peppers in the back. 


The tall pepper plants are paprika, then there’s the tomato forest! 


The rest of the peppers and the squash at the back. 


I’ll never tire of looking at this! Greens in the back, carrots in the center and onions in the front. 


Barrels of potatoes are doing well – time to add more dirt.


Ezekiel’s gardens are also doing pretty good.  I’m interested to see for how long they do well.  Carrots in the top picture and peas in the bottom.


Wildflower beauty.


Last but not least – the greenhouse.

How are you gardens growing? Any fun surprises? Or hard challenges? 

Happy gardening friends! 

Garden Update July 17

How did three weeks go by? It’s been a busy time around here. ¬†The first of those 3 weeks was full of work for me, I worked 6/7 days which was nuts. ¬†After that I spent time catching up around the house and garden and then we were off to Saskatchewan for a wedding. ¬†This past week I’ve been doing things here and there around the house, doing a TONNE of walking (a post on that to come soon with an update on my health) and a couple night shifts thrown in there. ¬†So to say we’ve been busy is a bit of an understatement but it’s been good, so so good.

The rain hasn’t stopped in what seems like weeks. ¬†The yard and gardens are water logged and squishy and I’m really hoping for some sun this week to help the veggies grow. ¬†Despite the lack of sun things seem to be doing well although my tomato plants are really begging for sun, a lot of the fruit is split on the bottoms and the leaves are curling on a lot of plants – sure signs of overwatering.

I’ve had quite a bit of harvesting to do, mostly leafy greens, lots of kale and swiss chard. ¬†There have been 4 tomatoes that we have enjoyed and 2 zucchini’s which have been saut√©ed and loved. ¬†The spinach and radishes are completely done, pulled and composted and I’ve replaced them with three different types of lettuce. ¬† I thought we would be drowning in greens but actually we keep running out and having to harvest more! ¬†I’m finding that I’m just becoming more creative in incorporating them into our meals and so far everyone has enjoyed it which is a very good thing :).

Despite me not writing posts with updates I’ve been taking pictures with intentions of blogging so here’s pictures from the week of July 3.

Now from the week of July 10:

Finally, this past week:

Well that’s it for now. ¬†Hopefully this week I’ll have time to do some more blogging that’s not just gardening.

Ciao friends!

Garden Update June 26

I’ve been waiting all day to be able to post this. ¬†I literally had these photos done by 730 this morning and here it is 1030 at night when I should be sleeping. ¬†It’s been a good day but a day that has been full of family and friends being together and the in between has been time to sit and just be. ¬†So I may pay for this in the morning but I really wanted to get this update up.

The garden is thriving and I couldn’t be happier. ¬†We are now enjoying garden goodies daily. ¬†One of my regrets is not planting more lettuce earlier on but I will be planting more this week.

Let’s start in the big garden,¬†the tomatoes are doing lovely. ¬†I must admit though, they are now getting to the point of growing like crazy and I’m a little overwhelmed with the upkeep. ¬†I thought I’d be able to do weekly up keeping but I’m finding it now has to be done every few days. ¬†I can’t complain though, they have some beautiful looking tomatoes on them!

 

I have thinned everything out to the best of my ability and now it’s just weeding and harvesting to do. ¬†One variety of carrot did really well, the other is pretty sparse. ¬†The seeds were a few years old so that’s likely why. ¬†My terrible planting is really evident by how much (or little) space is between things. ¬†I’ll be pulling all the radishes this week. ¬†We aren’t huge radish eaters so I didn’t plant a lot but what I did plant has done really well. ¬†I’m actually really impressed because I’ve tried to grow them several times with no luck. ¬†The three varieties of lettuce I tried growing did absolutely nothing – there is some romaine growing though. ¬†In the place of the radishes and where the lettuce didn’t grow I’ll be planting a mixed variety of lettuce which I have been growing in a container and we really like. ¬†I’m not sure how the beets are doing, but judging by their tops I think they are ok. ¬†The spinach and kale are¬†doing really great, I did a big harvest today which is almost gone already, we are eating greens like crazy lately.

Now the smaller garden:

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The butternut squash plants are struggling, I’m not sure if I let them grow too long in small pots before planting them. ¬†I’m going to pick up a plant tonic to try out and see if that makes them happier.

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The spaghetti squash, zucchini’s, and cucumbers are doing well though:

The pumpkin seeds I thought were duds finally sprouted. ¬†I doubt anything will produce from them but I’m willing to wait and see.

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The flowers are doing well other than the Violas which I’m pretty sure never germinated, there are some plants growing there that I’m almost positive are just weeds but I can’t pull them just in case!

The greenhouse gardens are doing well.  Everything is coming up, some more slowly than others but I have high hopes.  I ended up deadheading the snapdragons after this photo.

The greenhouse plants seem to be doing well – the peppers especially. ¬†The tomatoes I’m not sure about, one of them seems to just be shooting high with very little branches. ¬†I’m interested to see if it produces much. ¬†I’m really excited about the amount of blooms starting on the habanero’s and there’s a few peppers growing already.

The deck tomatoes are doing so much better than I expected and our container strawberries started to really produce!

Now it’s way past my bedtime and 5am is going to come quickly! I have some posts brewing in the back of my mind so I hope to get some time to jot those down. ¬†For now I’ll just say see you next week! If you have a garden blog please share it with me, I’m obsessed with browsing gardens ūüôā

Ciao friends!

Mid-June Garden Update

Well, now that we are already in the middle of June and the garden has been planted for two full weeks I figured it was time to do a catch up post in anticipation of starting a weekly update.  I’m very optimistic about this years garden, things seem to be flourishing early on.  I learned last year that it’s not what happens in the beginning that matters but the maintenance throughout the season that will make the difference.  This year I’m trying to be very intentional with things like thinning out the plants so they have the appropriate amount of space to grow, as well as pruning the tomato plants.

I apologize in advance for the length of this post but I do promise to try and get out a weekly update on the gardens.  Maybe I’ll even cut this into a couple posts, we’ll see!

When I left off last time we had just finished filling the two biggest gardens with soil and I was just waiting to plant.

Here’s what the greenhouse plants looked like before I transplanted them into the gardens.  I didn’t harden them off before putting them into the gardens which wasn’t the best decision but everything is still alive and growing! 


Here’s a snapshot of the containers that I had planted – they were doing well aside from the rectangular lettuce container that barely grew at all.  When I moved them outside the majority of them declined rapidly.  I’m ok with that, I’ll try some more again soon. 


It was finally time to plant! I planted 4 days before our last frost date on May 25 and had a slight scare with very light frost the next morning – thankfully it was just a scare! 

First thing in the ground was the squash plants and of course tomatoes.  I did 24 in the large garden and 14 in the medium one.  My husband saw me struggling and was kind enough to help out ūüôā . Then over the next couple days I planted the rest of the seeds.  I (very) roughly followed a square foot pattern and it seemed to work ok.  Definitely not the wisest or prettiest ways to plant but it worked.  Also I’m actually really terrible at the planting of seeds part of gardening but I’m trying to get better at it as well as thinning out the young plants to make room for actual growth.  


Finally, here’s some progression shots in chronological order – my favourite way to see progress! 

May 26


May 28 (flower seedlings started in the greenhouse) 


May 31


June 1: repotting the remaining tomato plants (18).  I’ve since got rid of 9 of those, I’m growing 4 on the deck and 5 in the greenhouse. 



June 6



June 9 


June 11


Ok, I think that’s enough for now! You’ll notice that I’m still obsessed with coffee ūüôā

If you don’t already – be sure to follow me on Instagram for more up to date pictures.  I will definitely try to do weekly up dates – they are my favourite way to see how well everything grows.  

Ciao friends! Enjoy your week! 

Monday’s in the Garden

I’m back to the grind of 6 day work weeks – whomp whomp. ¬†It’s really not as bad as I sometimes make it out to be since I actually love both of my jobs the problem lies in the jobs I also love at home! The garden is on that list and this week is more of the same!

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My pumpkins still have no actual pumpkins but they have been producing lots of male flowers. ¬†I read a tip on Instagram about taking off all the male flowers until a female shows up on the scene, so I’ve been diligently picking the flowers. ¬†I’m hopeful for at least one tiny little pumpkin that I can make pumpkin pie with. ¬†I’ll settle for a pumpkin tart even!

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All my flowers are not yet flowering and I’m becoming more and more impatient! ¬†These are the morning glories – they are doing lots of climbing and no blooming.

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Sweet peas are more of the same – lots of climbing no blooms.

Here’s some excitement! One of my peppers is turning red! Hooray!
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The zucchini aren’t fabulous – I had this big (or little) ol’ dud and two more that weren’t duds but weren’t big or fabulous (scroll down to see them)
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There’s still hope for some bigger and better zucchini though! Seems to be lots going on.
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The tomatoes are still out of control, and I’m still at a loss at how to control them. ¬†I just tie this one to that one and tie that bamboo stick to the side etc. etc. ¬†It’s a hot mess for sure, but I’m still so proud of them!

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My Zinnia’s are so close to blooming it’s not even funny! Next year I will start all my flowers from seed – hopefully in a greenhouse!

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My corn seems to be doing ok. ¬†It’s so interesting to me watching every day what develops in the garden. ¬†I’ve seen corn grown before but I’ve never closely observed each step the plant has to go through to eventually produce and supply our food.

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In this garden the onions, peas, zucchini and flowers are growing well. ¬†On the other hand the cucumbers, squash, carrots, beets and broccoli I am losing hope for. ¬†I’m going to be patient to the end of the season though!

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I went to a local greenhouse to buy a plant for a friend and they happened to be having a 50% off sale on roses. ¬†I’ve never thought about/desired to plant roses but the sale all of a sudden put visions of pretty cut roses in my head. ¬†I bought these two varieties and planted them on the opposite side of the yard from the gardens. ¬†I had no plans for that side of the yard but now I’m liking the extra foliage over there.

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I’ve been eating a handful of cherry tomatoes and peas each night this week. ¬†Not enough to make a substantial snack but enough to let me enjoy the fruits of my labour. ¬†I also picked the two zucchini’s which were becoming odd shaped. ¬†I’m going to have to research why that happens.

How are you garden’s coming along??

I’ve

Game Changer

IMG_8847This past week I’ve made what could possibly be one of the biggest life game changers for me. ¬†I’m actually astounded at what a huge difference this little change has made to my life. ¬†The crazy thing is it’s not a new concept, it’s not something I haven’t tried before, but this last time of trying it has been exactly what I needed.

I started doing food prep.

That’s it! I know, not earth shattering for most people. ¬†If you’ve been here for a while you’ll recall when I started doing some food prep before going back to work after maternity leave. ¬†Well I went back into shift work and for the last 7 months I haven’t been doing shift work, I’ve been doing Monday – Friday 8-430 and then Sunday’s 7-7.

I thought being home every evening would give me plenty of time to prep food each night for Ezekiel and my lunches. ¬†What actually ended up playing out is that I would get home, try and prepare supper with an incredibly “hangry” toddler at my feet. ¬†After finally getting some food into him I would march him upstairs we’d play for a few minutes while he bathed and then he was off to bed. ¬†I’d come downstairs, run the diapers through a rinse cycle, clean up supper, and then prepare lunches. ¬†After the lunches were prepared I’d do any little extra tasks that were needing to be done – water the garden, mow the grass, sweep the floor, clean a bathroom etc. ¬†When all was said and done I was falling into bed at 930 never having a moment to sit and relax, it was always go go go go go, and I was so exhausted all the time.

So last Saturday I spent Ezekiel’s nap prepping and dividing food for our lunches. ¬†Everything was placed into individual containers, literally all I have to do is grab the containers and put them in our lunch bags each morning. I’ve also decided I would plan 3 easy one pot and/or crockpot meals for our suppers each week and then just eat leftovers the other nights. ¬†My husband will cook Friday-Sunday normally anyways.

WHAT??!!

That’s it! It’s been an absolutely life altering change to my routine and I’ll never go back.

This week has been a dream! Every night this week Ezekiel and I have had over an hour of playtime together not including bath time and supper time. ¬†We’ve walked the neighbourhoods, we’ve read books and cuddled, we’ve put together puzzles, we’ve wandered outside and watered the garden (one of his favourite tasks). ¬†Having the one on one time with him where I’m not distracted by trying to finish up all my tasks has been amazing. ¬†Not only that but every evening this week I’ve had time to myself. ¬†I’ve been able to do whatever I feel like from 730 – 930 each night. ¬†I’ve read, I’ve browsed, I’ve watched and I’ve loved it. ¬†The last major thing it has changed is my energy every day. ¬†I’ve been asleep by 930 every night this week and up around 515 in the morning and I’m not struggling through my days. ¬†I’m awake and able to focus, I don’t feel like I’m on the verge of sickness every day and that is incredible.

So this is me advocating that every person start food prep! It has completely changed my life, and I really think it would be a game changer for most people. ¬† I’ll document my process this Saturday and take you through step by step how I do it next week.

Ciao friends!