New You for the New Year!!

February’s goal: Practice mindfulness.

February is a month to count your blessings. Be grateful for what you have — whether that is the love of your life, your beautiful children, or your drive for happiness and self-improvement. Being more mindful throughout the day can help you feel appreciation more deeply. You’ll be more patient, more understanding, and you’ll feel freer.

Part of being more mindful is engaging more with your senses. What are you seeing, tasting, feeling, smelling, and hearing right now? This applies during mealtimes too: instead of eating your food on the go, sit down and savor it.

Social media is a great distraction when you have some time to kill, but it’s also just that: a distraction. Instead of staring down at your phone, take those odd spaces throughout the day to observe your surroundings. If you are disengaged from your phone, it is easier for others to strike up conversation with you — and for you to strike up conversation with others. Who knows; maybe you’ll find a new friend.

Love & Sparkle,

Mackenzie

Cheesy Ham & Asparagus Quiche

Cheesy Ham & Asparagus Quiche is a rich and decadent recipe that is perfect for a special brunch or dinner. A creamy Parmesan layer is topped with an egg and cream custard that is studded with leftover ham and topped with fresh asparagus.

This Thanksgiving, I made 8 lbs of ham because my dad had requested plenty of leftovers in advance. Well, with only 4 people, we had more than enough leftovers for everyone! I decided to put some of the ham to good use for brunch and whipped up this quiche.

INGREDIENTS

  • Single pie crust
  • ⅔ c. cream cheese
  • 1 c. cubed ham
  • ½ c. green onion, chopped
  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • ¾ c. shredded Parmesan (divided)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1½ c. heavy cream
  • ½ tsp. salt (divided)

IMG_3834

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Preheat your oven to 350.
  • Press the pie crust into a greased quiche pan. Poke the bottom of the crust with a fork in three spots. Place on a cookie sheet and bake the pie crust for 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, mix the cream cheese and ⅔ c. Parmesan and microwave for 1 minute. Spread the cheese mixture over the par-baked crust and top with the cubed ham.
  • Whisk the eggs, cream, green onion and ¼ tsp. salt and slowly pour over the ham and cheese mixture.
  • Arrange the spears of asparagus around the quiche in a circular pattern. Spray the top of the quiche with non-stick spray and sprinkle with remaining ¼ tsp. of salt and remaining Parmesan.
  • Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the eggs are set and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

*The very center will still have a slight jiggle when moved, but will set as it rests.

IMG_3833

Love & Sparkle,

Mackenzie

Carrier Oils and Their Benefits

I’ve been posting a lot of recipes lately, and I hope you’ve been enjoying them. When a recipe has an oil, I give the one I used and sometimes recommend a few more oils. Sometimes I say that any carrier oil can be used. A few readers have asked what carrier oils are, so I decided to dedicate an entire post to them. I just picked up several new oils, so you’ll be seeing new oils in the near future.

You can usually safely substitute one carrier oil for another oil with great results. Coconut oil is one that doesn’t interchange well because it is solid at room temperature. Otherwise, you can pick the one that meets your needs or based on what you have on hand unless the recipe states otherwise. Some oils are better used mixed with other oils, such as avocado oil.

What Are Carrier Oils

Carrier oils are vegetable oils made from the seed, nuts, or kernels of plants. They carry essential oils and other absolutes so you can apply them to your skin. You can’t apply most essential oils directly to your skin, so you have to dilute them with a carrier oil. These oils are also used in sugar scrub recipes, lotions, balms, lip balms, and salves.

Carrier oils shouldn’t have a strong smell, except for unrefined coconut oil. They will have a slight nutty aroma that doesn’t affect your final product. If your oil has a strong odor, it could be rancid. Discard it and do not use it.

When you’re shopping for an oil, make sure you buy cold pressed oil. Heat can damage the good qualities of the oil, so it’s very important to get cold pressed oils.

  • Almond oil (sweet almond oil) is moisturizing for your skin. It is very versatile, so it works in many types of recipes. It’s high in vitamins A and E to nourish your skin. Do not use this oil if you have a nut allergy.
  • Apricot kernel oil is very gentle, so it’s great for sensitive skin or recipes that you make for children. It’s also very versatile, so it’s a great substitute for almond oil. It’s often used in lotion recipes and for hot oil treatments.
  • Avocado oil is high in essential fatty acids and fat soluble vitamins. It’s great for sensitive skin or problem skin and eczema. Avocado is usually combine with other carrier oils and not used alone.
  • Castor oil is antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal. It’s often used on irritated skin. It’s usually combined with other oils and not used alone.
  • Coconut oil is one of my favorite oils because of the heavenly smell. It is also naturally antifungal and antibacterial, so it ‘s great for lip balms and lotions. It’s solid at room temperature, so it will harden a recipe when added. It can be combined with other oils so the final result isn’t so hard. Look for unrefined coconut oil, which is the kind that smells like coconut. Refining may use chemicals to extract more oil, and it also bleaches and deodorizes the oil. They may also add sodium hydroxide to extend it’s shelf life.
  • Evening primrose oil is used to combat skin dryness and skin irritations. It’s great for the skin and hair and is said to reduce the effects of aging. It’s also great for eczema.
  • Flax seed oil is high in vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids. It’s especially great for your hair because it promotes hair growth.
  • Grapeseed oil is a dry oil, so it isn’t as oily on your skin. It’s used in hair recipes and skin recipes. It’s a natural astringent, so it’s great for acne prone or oily skin.
  • Jojoba oil is a popular carrier oil because it’s very close to the oils your body naturally produces. It absorbs in to your skin easily without being greasy. It can clog pores though, so it’s best used with other oils.
  • Macadamia nut oil is a dry oil, so it absorbs quickly without leaving an oily residue. It’s great for skin and hair.
  • Olive oil is readily available in nearly any supermarket, so it’s a popular beauty recipe ingredient. It’s great to use to infuse herbs. It has good fats for your skin and hair, but it will leave behind excess oil that doesn’t soak in to your skin right away.
  • Rosehip seed oil is high in vitamins A and E for the skin. It also has essential fatty acids to promote elastin and collagen production. It’s often used in creams and balms for stretch marks, burns, wrinkles, eczema, and sunburns.
  • Safflower oil is high in linoleic acid, so it’s a great oil for acne prone skin. It’s also often used for oil cleansing because it removes oil and dirt from the skin without drying your skin or hair. It lubricates the skin, which traps moisture next to your skin.
  • Sesame seed oil is a light oil, so it’s often used in massage oils. It moisturizes the skin without being overly oily.
  • Sunflower Oil is often used in recipes to treat psoriasis, eczema, dry skin, or damaged skin. It’s a light oil, so it can also be used as a massage oil.

Hope this helps answer questions about carrier oils, my favorite oil to use is coconut oil.

Love & Sparkle,

Mackenzie

I’m sorry for the things I said when Mercury was in Retrograde

Mercury Retrograde: Here’s Your Survival Guide For This Time of Galactic Turbulence

Everyone is talking about “Mercury retrograde” but it seems like nobody can explain what exactly it is and how it rules our lives. Let’s begin with a short astronomy lesson to better understand what the hell is going on in our galaxy!

From our perspective here on Earth, planets move from east to west around the Sun. When Mercury is said to be in retrograde, it looks as though the planet Mercury is traveling in opposition, or from west to east around the Sun. Mercury’s orbit is closer to the Sun, therefore its orbit is much shorter than Earth’s. When Mercury speeds past Earth during this shorter orbit, we then experience a Mercury retrograde period.

Think of it like this: If you were in a car and another car passed you, it is obviously going faster than you. But if it slowed down and you then passed it, the other car would appear that it was moving in reverse. As Mercury speeds by, it’s like a bullet-train flying past, creating a forceful, and turbulent blast of “wind” in its wake.

This my friends, is the shit storm that we are experiencing during the three or four times a year this occurs.

Here are the 2018 dates for when Mercury will retrograde:

March 22 – April 15

July 25 – August 18

November 16 – December 6

Being skeptical of Mercury retrograde is common and even encouraged. It is important as an educated society that we look into trends, thought processes, and even astronomy to better understand this existence for ourselves.

Basically, this retrograde period is reminding us to slow down and evaluate where we are in life. Be patient with – and grateful for – the things we take for granted like technology, communication, and transportation. Our modern society is built upon the foundation of technology, and we often forget how incredible but also volatile technology can be.

As Mercury speeds by, it’s like a bullet-train flying past, creating a forceful, and turbulent blast of “wind” in its wake.

Take this time as an opportunity to approach the different aspects of your life with a fresh perspective. A lot of this will come from necessity – we are beginning a new year, and changing old systems is a great way to start fresh.

Many times we can understand things more in-depth once we dissect them and reevaluate what’s working and what’s not. Not only for our cognition but for our emotional needs as well; realizing that something isn’t working is the first step in changing its outcome.

My Personal Experience With Mercury Retrograde

Personally, I blew off Mercury and it’s perceived influence on my life until I saw something about it online and googled it. From everything I have read, Mercury has influence over communication, perception, and transportation, among many other things.

Another “feature” of Mercury retrograde is the appearance of old friends, acquaintances, or even lovers. During this time you will notice that people from the past somehow reach out or make their way back into your present.

I have had numerous old friends text me to hang out, an old coworker (whom I actually thought didn’t like me) asked to get a beer, and a college roommate texted me out of the blue to say “Hi” and give me a quick life update. All of which I was pleasantly surprised to hear from and happy to see!

A Few Important Things to Remember While Mercury is Retrograding:

  1. Have Patience

Do yourself and the situation a favor by taking a deep breath and reminding yourself to be patient. The Earth has been around for 4 billion years and you my friend, are a mere blip on the radar. Slow down. Enjoy your time.

  1. Back Yo’ Shit Up

Save, refresh, backup, and keep an eye on your car keys. This applies to all facets, technology, mental status, and where you put your things. Now is the time to watch how you’re doing things and what you can do better. Get systems in place to keep you sane and organized!

  1. Remain Open

This retrograde period is one of reflection and alteration of chosen paths. Realize that just because something isn’t how you envisioned it doesn’t mean it lacks value or is deviating you from the end goal. If you’re not open to change, you’ll never grow.

  1. Travel Like a Pro

Factor in all the things that could take longer during your travels, whether that’s your daily commute, your next big trip, and all the little travels in between. Plan in advance, pack your bag the night before, leave your house 10-15 minutes earlier and keep the stress – and potential complications – at bay.

  1. Acknowledge That Life is Multidimensional

There are times your life may seem chaotic – your job, personal life, relationship, health, and habits may all become convoluted. Understand that like all things, your ability to seamlessly balance everything ebbs and flows. Give yourself time to focus on what you have control over and realize that all is coming.

  1. Commit to Something

Mercury’s current retrograde period also brings attention to the need for commitment. To truly look at something you’re involved in and assess whether or not you are invested and going about it in the correct way. Words of wisdom: maintain a single-pointed focus to reach your goals – don’t become too convoluted by spreading yourself too thin.

  1. Watch What You Say

Communication is key right now. Our actions speak louder than our words so maybe button up your lip and stay out of trouble. Right now it is better to say less and do more.

Communication is skewed during retrograde, so consider waiting for it to pass before signing contracts, agreeing to big commitments, or making serious decisions. While we can’t always put our lives on hold just because Mercury is retrograding, but it definitely can’t hurt to take precautions whenever possible!

The Final Word on Mercury Retrograde

When Mercury is in retrograde, we need to be taking extra steps of precaution. We should be backing up our memory drives, re-reading our messages to ensure we are communicating effectively, and factoring in a little more travel time into our days.

During this sensitive time, we are encouraged to reevaluate, reconsider, revamp, and recharge.

It is actually quite serendipitous that this retrograde period has coincided with the beginning of the New Year. It gives us even more of a push to reflect on the past and how it has influence over our present. Old friendships may resurface, a project or plan may rear its head again, reminding us to tie up loose ends and keep moving forward.

Mercury being in retrograde doesn’t have to be a negative thing. Putting a positive spin on something negative can change the entire reality of that situation.

Acknowledge and accept that things are weird, timing is off, and your plans will be disrupted. Also realize that in the cracks of these intentions is where true self lies. Honor that and see yourself succeed.

Love & Sparkle,

Mackenzie

10 Uses for Thieves Essential Oil

Have you ever heard of Thieves essential oil blend?

Chances are you have a friend who raved about it, or a family member who swears by it. Well, I’m here to demystify it for you and explain what it is and what it can do for you. I’ll also explain how to order and where to get Thieves essential oil (trust me, you can’t just get it from a health food store).

What is Thieves Essential Oil?

Thieves is an essential oil blend and one of the best-selling products available from Young Living. It’s a blend made with Cinnamon, Clove, Eucalyptus Radiata, Rosemary and Lemon essential oils. It’s one of my favorite essential oils. It smells like fresh-baked cookies (it’s spicy and earthy), and can be used as a dietary supplement.

But trust me, not all Thieves is created the same. Young Living has the original Thieves essential oil blend.

And they actually have two options: Thieves (for topical and aromatic use) and Vitality (the white label – for dietary/internal use). Why two bottles? It’s the exact same oil, but a product cannot be used for topical and dietary, according to product labeling standards. But do know that it IS the same oil.

So how do you use Thieves essential oil? I’ve got 10 great uses – keep reading…

  1. Make a Wellness Tea

Add a drop of Thieves Vitality and a spoonful of raw honey to a warm cup of water. Enjoy in the morning or anytime you need a boost.

  1. Spice Up Apple Cider

Add a drop of Thieves Vitality to a cup of warm apple cider. It can help to spice it up and enhance the flavor of the apple.

  1. Add Flavor to Applesauce

Add Thieves Vitality to a batch of homemade applesauce to spice it up. Start with a drop or two and add more Thieves as needed.

  1. Support Healthy Immune Function*

When taken internally, Thieves Vitality can help to support health immune function*. Add a drop to a spoonful of honey or even add a vegetable capsule and top with coconut oil to take as a dietary supplement.

  1. Support a Healthy Respiratory System*

The Thieves Vitality essential oil blend contains Eucalyptus Radiata essential oil, which may help maintain a healthy respiratory system, when taken as a dietary supplement.*

  1. Add to Your Toothpaste

If you like to DIY, you can make homemade toothpaste and add Thieves Vitality essential oil. It tastes fantastic. Ready-made Thieves toothpaste is also available from Young Living (how to order).

  1. Ditch Your Air Freshener

Make your home smell like fresh-baked cookies (that’s what I think Thieves smells like in the diffuser) or like your favorite fall scent. Just add a few drops to your diffuser. If you have friends or family over at your home or need to showcase your home (realtors, listen up), Thieves is the perfect essential oil to diffuse. Everyone will be looking for the batch of cookies.

  1. Clean Your Home

You can make your own DIY household cleaner with Thieves essential oil or use Thieves Household Cleaner to clean virtually every surface of your home. It smells great too.

  1. Enjoy with a Shot of NingXia Red

One of my favorite ways to enjoy Thieves Vitality is to add a drop to a shot of NingXia Red, an antioxidant drink made from wolfberries (which are gogi berries from China). It’s spicy, refreshing and great for helping to support a healthy immune system.*

  1. Make a DIY Breath Spray

I have a fantastic recipe to make a DIY breath spray with Peppermint Vitality essential oil to freshen breath, but Thieves Vitality is another alternative – kind of like a red, hot cinnamon gum flavor. Just add 2-3 drops of Thieves essential oil to a mini spray bottle and fill with water. Use as needed to freshen breath.

What’s your favorite use for Thieves? Please comment below and share with us.

Love & Sparkle,

Mackenzie

 

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Anybody else feel a little better about what they are eating when they wrap it in lettuce? Hamburger in a lettuce wrap… must be healthy, right? So let’s take another one of my favorites, buffalo chicken, and wrap it in lettuce too! Then wIcan eat it all day and never feel a bit bad about it, right?! I’d say it certainly has to be better than deep fried wings smothered in massive amounts of sauce, no? Let’s go with it and create these wraps that are perfect for lunch, dinner or an appetizer while watching the football.

A simple 4 ingredient sauce gets drizzled all over some boneless chicken breasts. Think chicken breasts are boring and been searching for new ways to use them? This is easily your answer.

Once the chicken is done cooking, we pull it out to shred it and then can do the optional step of thickening the remaining sauce by simmering it with a little cornstarch.

Put all that shredded chicken back in to finish soaking up all the sauce. I believe the word you are looking for is YUM!

All that’s left is to whisk up a little of my homemade blue cheese drizzle and wash up some crisp cool lettuce lettuce leaves.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup buffalo wing sauce
  • 1/4 cup BBQ sauce
  • 1/4 cup apricot preserves
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch (optional)
  • 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 head bib lettuce

Instructions

  • Place chicken in slow cooker
  • Whisk together buffalo sauce, bbq sauce, apricot preserves and honey and pour over chicken
  • Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8
  • Remove chicken to bowl and shred
  • Optional: Whisk together 1/4 cup cornstarch with 1/4 cup water and stir into sauce from slow cooker. Bring to a simmer for about 5 minutes in a saucepan over medium high heat or in multi-cooker until thickened
  • Return chicken to sauce in slow cooker and let soak up sauce for 5-10 minutes
  • Whisk together yogurt, blue cheese, milk, lemon juice and salt and pepper, add additional milk as needed to get to desired consistency
  • Serve chicken on washed lettuce leaves topped with blue cheese sauce

IMG_2867

Love & Sparkle,

Mackenzie

Essential Oils for Women’s Health

I don’t know a single woman who doesn’t say she needs to take better care of herself. All the wives, moms, grandmothers, career women, stay at home moms, homeschoolers, volunteers… they ALL seem to say that taking care of themselves is next on their to-do list. Well, essential oils are a helpful and effective way for us women to make some progress in this area. Here are some essential oils for women’s health that are fantastic for physical and mental well being, with some fun ways to use them.

Clary Sage – Antidepressant, immune support, respiratory support, hormone balance, etc.

Oregano – Antiseptic, edema and cellulite remedy, respiratory health, intestinal health., etc.

Frankincense – Mood lifting, immune and respiratory support, aches and pains, skin care, etc.

Lavender – Relaxation, sleep aid, antidepressant, digestion support, skin care, etc.

Bergamot – Calms stress and anxiety, helps with yeast issues, relieves water retention, etc.

Ginger – Stimulates circulation, digestion aid for nausea, flatulence, morning sickness, etc.

Neroli – Aids with better sleep, depression and anxiety, and skincare issues such as fading stretch marks, etc.

Lemon – Deodorizing, digestive care, immune booster, relaxation, concentration, etc.

Rose – Skin care, reducing scarring, helps aging skin, aphrodisiac, mood lifting, etc.

Chamomile – Skin care for sensitive skin, cleansing, reduces puffiness, hair care, first aid, calming, etc.

Basil – Mental clarity and concentration, digestive aid, pain reliever, anxiety, etc

Love & Sparkle,

Mackenzie