End of the School Year Blues

Only a few weeks left till the end of the school year and the beginning of summer. To say that I am counting down the days would be an understatement. The weather is warming up as I delightfully pull my summer wardrobe from the back of my closet to the front. My toenails are painted a cotton candy pink and the sun lingers a bit more each day begging me to stay out and play just a bit longer basking in its warmth.

With all the wonderfulness and warmth of summer surrounding me it’s no wonder why the last few weeks of school are like a warden breathing down my neck telling me to get back in my cell. I don’t want to pack one more lunch, sit in anymore carpool lines or help with any homework. I JUST DON”T WANNA! I want to go out and play.

I feel the school year is very similar to being pregnant. At the beginning you are so excited practically oozing with joy. As the newness wears off you begin to get a little squirmy. The last month seems to take an eternity How is it possible to cram a zillion days into that last month? Then you give birth either to an adorable bouncing baby or in my case summer break and you forget all about that last terribly long month.

Are any of you mama’s feeling this way? I can’t be the only one who has dipped into the depths of despair during this last LONG month. Hang in there summer break is on the horizon. We will make it! We will sip lemonade outside and watch our little ones frolic in the sun. We will. YES, we will!

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My Obsession and Passion for Ebay

Over a decade ago I set out on a mission to start selling on EBay. It took me many years to figure it out. The basic concept was like the stock market buy low sell high.

There are so many different niches on EBay. I found mine with clothing, mainly for the sole reason that it made it convient to shop for clothes for my own family a the same time. I am by no means rich but my children have worn some of the top designer’s clothes that only cost me a couple of dollars.

A few years back I had the opportunity to be filmed about my EBay business. It was such a fun experience. The best part was that I ended up becoming friends with the news anchor. She is just as sweet as she was on television. I thought it would be fun to give you a chance to see me in action, shopping and explaining my EBay business.

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Deep Dish Apple Pie

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My hubby is a lover of all things apple. Every year for his birthday I make an apple pie from scratch for him. It has been my quest throughout our marriage to take my pie making game up a level each year. This year after he tasted this pie he actually had a tear in his eye. Success!

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For the crust I found what I would consider one of the best pie crust recipes ever discovered. Click this link for the pie crust. I blended my pie crust ingredients in my Ninja blender on pulse. It was amazingly simple this way which is great for me since I HATE making pie dough. I then separated it into 2 equal parts and wrapped each one in plastic wrap. I let it rest for an hour. Then roll out one of the parts of dough and lay in a 2 inch deep pie dish.

Ingredient List:

10 apples of your choosing, red for a sweeter pie and green for a more tart pie

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 cup butter

Topping:

1 egg white combined with 3T of water

1/8 cup granulated sugar mixed with 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.

First peel, core and slice all of the apples. I use a potato peeler for all my apple. Next in a large bowl add all of the ingredients except the butter and toppings. Mix by hand until all of the apple slices are coated in the sugar and flour mixture. If your apples are extra juicy you may need to add more flour. Place the apple mixture in your prepared pie crust. Cut 1/4 cup of butter into small pieces and randomly place them on the apples.

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Then roll out the top crust. I don’t worry about the shape of the top crust as long as it is an even thickness and can cover the top of the pie. Once you lay the top crust over the apples I use kitchen scissors to trim the edges. After the top crust has been trimmed I pinch the bottom crust and the top crust together with my fingers.

Cut 4-6 slits on the top of the pie to let the steam escape while baking. Then take your egg wash and brush lightly all over the top off the pie. Sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar mixture over the top.

Place the pie on a baking sheet and put in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees for 60-90 minutes. Check every 30 minutes to make sure the edges of the crust aren’t getting too dark. If you notice the edges getting too dark remove the pie from the oven and cover the edges with aluminum foil then return to the oven.

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Just try and let all of this deliciousness cool before grabbing a fork and digging in.

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Flourless Chocolate Cake

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This is such a decadent chocolate cake. I have been making this cake for over a decade. It is always a huge hit with gluten lovers and haters. Most people don’t even know that it is gluten free.

Ingredients:

5 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

1 T. cocoa powder

2 tsp. vanilla

1 1/4 cup chocolate chips

1 cup unsalted butter

The higher quality of chocolate and butter you use in this recipe the better the cake will taste. I prefer Ghirardelli semi- sweet chocolate and Challenge or Land O’ Lakes butter.

After you gather all of your ingredients pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees.

First lightly grease a 10 inch springform pan (cheesecake pan). Next cut parchment paper the size of your pan and then lay the parchment on the bottom. Spray the pan with grease again. Then wrap the bottom and sides of the pan with aluminum foil. This will prevent the batter from leaking out all over your oven while cooking. It only took one messy oven for me to learn this valuable lesson.

Now you are going to put the chocolate chips and butter into a microwave safe bowl. Melt for 30 second intervals, stirring in-between. Once completely melted and combined set aside. Then beat all of the remaining ingredients together for 1 1/2 minutes. Slowly drizzle in your melted chocolate while you continue to mix at medium speed.

Once you have everything mixed together pour into your springform pan. Place the pan on a baking sheet and put both in your pre-heated oven for 35-40 minutes or until set. Remove from the oven and let cool for 20 minutes.  Don’t freak out when you return to check on your cake. The cake will decrease in size by about half. Remove the foil and the ring around the pan. When the cake is completely cooled invert it on to a cake plate removing the remaining part of the springform pan and parchment paper. Lightly dust with cocoa powder and add a cluster of fresh raspberries to the top. Voila! Now you have a decadent gluten free dessert to please the masses.

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Still a Little Chilly in Colorado

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This high end thrifty find cost less then you can imagine. Here is the breakdown.

Versatile denim dress $5.99

La Donna Italian made brown leather boots $12.99

Hat $1.99

Burberry light-weight khaki jacket $7.99

Grand Total: 28.96

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I get to wear authentic Burberry for the price of a few cocktails! Hope this inspires you to dress thrifty. I would love to see your thrifty fashions. Be sure to tag me on Instagram with your thrift store outfits @upcycled_goddess.

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My Favorite Shortbread Cookies

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These cookies are to die for. Melt in your mouth and have you begging for more type of cookies. The cookies I made today are lightly sprinkled with colored sugar but these cookies are extremely sturdy and perfect for frosting.

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Here is the recipe:

1 1/2 pounds of unsalted butter, softened (the higher quality of butter the better the cookie, I use Challenge butter)

2 Cups powdered sugar

2 pounds and 4 ounces all purpose flour

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. vanilla or almond flavoring

In a mixer blend the butter and powdered sugar together. Add the salt and vanilla then gradually add in the flour. Mix only till combined. Do not over mix. Divide the dough in 2 equal parts and wrap in saran wrap. Let rest for about an hour.

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This dough is so wonderful to work with. I lightly flour my counter top and just use my hand to press the dough out to 1/4 of an inch thickness. Use your desired cookie cutters and then place on an ungreased baking sheet. For the above cookies I used and egg wash (1 egg white mixed with 2 T. of water). After I brushed the egg wash on the cookies I then sprinkled the tops of the cookies with colored sugar. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Once they have cooled for at least 2 minutes the cookies can be removed from the pan.

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Hope this recipe will become a family favorite.

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Grace

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We all want grace, grace from our friends, family and spouse. The question I want you to ask yourself is, do you allow yourself to give grace to others and yourself?

There are two areas of my life where I feel giving grace is a struggle for me. The first area is with my children. I do a fairly good job of giving them grace in their everyday life. I give them grace to learn at their own pace, to make mistakes and to fail. Where I struggle is giving them grace to find their own place in this world and to make their own path. We all have visions of what we want for our children and who we think they should be. The truth is they are only a part of us, not an exact replica.  I don’t think life would be as interesting with 4 mini Gretchen’s. I have a Samantha, a Caleb, a Logan and an Ellaray. They are all unique and very different from myself and each other  Letting them explore and forage in this great big world is hard for this mama bear. I want to shield them and guide them; as a parent should, but I often want to over guide. I forget that they are learning to be who God made them to be. They may not turn out who I thought they would be but they could turn out be someone even better. I hope I am able to give them grace on their journey.

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The part of my life that I yearn for grace the most is with myself. As a mother I am continually racked with guilt and worry. The loop of thoughts that continually run through my brain daily and nightly go something like this; did my Ellaray get enough to eat, I forgot to tell my oldest daughter to never park by a big van for fear of being a target for kidnapers or are there tidbits of advice I’ve neglected to tell my sons about how to treat a lady. It’s enough to drive one crazy. Sometimes I imagine that a padded room at the sanitarium is being prepared for me and how I long to just take a nap there where there is no noise or responsibilities. Alas though I am a mom, and these struggles are not unique to me. We all struggle with these thoughts. I encourage you to give yourself grace in this area of your life. Moms we are human! I know that’s novel idea. We will fail. We will forget things, even important things. It’s ok you can wallow in your failures and forgetfulness but only for a moment then accept grace and move on from this.

I pray that I will continually learn to accept grace into my life along with being able to give it abundantly to others.

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