{everyone needs a side of sparkle}


buttermilk peach preserve ice cream

Over the weekend I decided to overhaul some of my product shots and create some fancy "scenes" out in the garden. All was going well, the light was just right, the breeze stayed oh, so calm, and my little girlies were frolicking in the lawn playing so nicely together. And then my camera battery died. Dead. As. A. Doornail.

Rather than spoil the lovely summer Saturday with fuming and swearing my head off, I decided to mosey over to the kitchen and make ice cream... peach preserve buttermilk ice cream to be exact. Buttermilk is one of those oft forgotten kitchen staples of yesteryear. In the past year buttermilk has been a personal revelation for me - I use it at any opportunity in baking, and smoothies are a whole new, gut-friendlier experience. When it came to making ice cream, it just seemed like I couldn't believe I hadn't tried it yet. So I did. And the results were delicious.

1 cup heavy cream
2 cups buttermilk
1 cup sugar (I use brown, but white of light brown will do)
1 tsp almond extract
2/3 cup peach preserves
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum*

Place all ingredients into the chilled tub of your ice cream maker. Let churn until it resembles soft serve ice cream in consistency. Pack into container and freeze for several hours/overnight, until flavors ripen and ice cream hardens.

*Xanthan gum is an all star when is comes to making ice cream. It gives my ice cream a creamy, scoopable consistency that I cannot achieve otherwise. Find xanthan gum here (affiliate link).

photo credit, 1
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I've been up to something

Hello, Dear Readers! It's been a while, and perhaps my last post left a lot to the imagination (what, about the whole brain surgery thing). Right before that whole experience, I started a little side project based on the natural skincare products I've been making for my family and friends for years. "Precious Skin Elixirs" is now gaining some momentum - news I am so happy to share. After completing our first show at Shake The Tree in Boston's North End, a new website is in development and you may see me at a farmer's market or two these next few months.

More than just another skincare line, my goal with Precious Skin Elixirs is to really spread the word on how effective and wonderful natural, botanical, preservative-free skincare really is! I've had enough with synthetic, toxic ingredients and preservatives that are in products at the convenience of the manufacturer - they do nothing but aggravate and harm the skin and are present only to extend shelf-life and save on their bottom line. That's why I've created products such as a gentle exfoliating face scrub, a truly luxurious nourishing face cream, a natural herbal bug spray, and even a toxin free mineral sunscreen made with skin loving ingredients.

If you're passionate about caring for your skin naturally and have an appreciation for small batch, handmade goods, I'd love for you to check out the line and shoot me some feedback!

With love and intention,

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in pain there is wisdom

Good morning, Dear Readers. I'm happy to be alive...I didn't mention to you all that, up until a few weeks ago, skull surgery was in my future. It was really scary - I'm not going to pretend it was "no big deal" or that I'm all better as I type this post. In fact, I'm not really able to write about the experience (or much of anything) just yet, but I did want to break the silence and write just a little something to say how happy I am that I'm still here, enjoying my family while I recover, feeling the transformativeness (is that a word?) of physical pain and the wisdom it provides, still going to blog, and still loving life... among many many other things! Thank you for reading... until next time :)

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new in the shop: LAPIS

After pampering my skin by testing out the new facial clays I've been working on, I have enjoyed brighter skin that has that glow-ey look to it (the last time I saw glowing skin was when I was pregnant... not necessarily the most practical way to get glow-ey).  I haven't had many breakouts since I switched to moisturizing with oil blends and ditched my CVS "gentle" cleanser, but it's still good to be prepared when the inevitable happens - hormones, junk food, and sleeping in my make-up.

Thus, Lapis was created. This powerful combination of extracts and essential oils targets bacteria and underlying inflammation of blemishes. Argan oil helps to break up sebum build up while the exceptional trans-dermal properties of emu oil carries the healing powers of tea tree oil, seabuckthorn berry extract, and essential oils of lemongrass, clove, and oregano deep into the skin to clear up blemishes. Lapis Blemish Treatment Serum is in the shop!

This oil is formulated to spot treat acne and is too strong to use as an overall treatment. The Agate Face Oil Blend is a wonderful choice for oily or acne prone skin - providing hydration and keeping breakouts at bay. Hopefully, none of you are visited by any annoying red bumps - they seem to arrive like unwelcome house guests at the most inopportune times. But, if you are you know where to find a solution!
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dinner tonight: coconut panko sole fillets

I had serious doubts about the frozen dover sole fillets I pulled from the freezer yesterday. "But they're from Trader Joe's," my inner voice of hope exclaimed, "nothing from Trader Joe's has ever disappointed you." "Frozen fish! Yuck! It's been in a deep freeze for months," said my other inner voice of doom and gloom... "when have you ever had success with frozen white fish?!"

Voices in my head aside, I carried on with a recipe I had seen a few years ago *!* in mind for panko crusted sole. After searching and searching, I couldn't find it. Drat! So, true to my "let's wing-it and see what happens (we may be ordering a pizza for dinner)" style I came up with this recipe below adapted from Dashing Dish. And let me tell you - it rocked our dinner table. Even my self-proclaimed "fishes" hating two year old devoured her dinner before she could say guppy.

Take that inner voice of doom and gloom.

{Served with coconut curry barley and steamed vegetables ~ serves 2-3 adults}

+/- 1 lb. sole fillets
1/2 cup  coconut flakes (sweetened is preferred)
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
dash salt
dash pepper
1 tablespoon tapioca flour (or any flour works just fine)
1 egg white

1.  Heat oven to 375 degrees. Set oven rack to the middle or bottom third. Line a baking pan with foil and arrange a wire rack on top. Spray with cooking spray.
2.  Combine coconut, panko, flour, salt, and pepper into a small bowl.
3. Lightly whisk the egg white in a separate bowl.
4. in assembly line style, dredge each fillet in the egg white, then in the panko mix, then lay flat onto the wire rack.
5. Bake for 16-20 minutes until the crust is lightly golden and the fish is cooked through.
*If you notice the crust browning too fast, spray the fillets with a bit of cooking spray to protect then while baking. 

image credit: dashing dish

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exciting news to report + a recipe

No, I'm not having another baby! But, starting a new business is kind of like having a baby... The exciting news is that I've made my first two sales of Precious Skin Elixirs. Both came about as people wanted to first purchase samples, so I now have trial/travel sizes of all seven blends.

Enough about my fledgling web sales... onto the recipe I'd like to share for gluten free pate choux. I don't have any pictures of the cream puffs I made with this recipe last week for our diner guests, but I will definitely be making these again (and again (and again (and again... ok, I'll stop))).

Pate choux is one of the work-horses of the pastry world. It's necessary for eclairs, profiteroles, cream puffs, gougères, etc. Having found a dynamite gluten free version just makes me giddy with gluten-less joy.

AND! they freeze well for a last minute "I need to impress my guests with a fancy dessert to match the over complicated menu I just spent all my time making" issues.* Just freeze them after they are completely cooled in an air-tight container and revive them in a 350 degree oven (right from the freezer no need to defrost) for 5-ish minutes before you fill them.

I filled mine with fresh sweetened whipped cream and a drizzle of melted chocolate to top things off. Bust out your favorite cake stand, pile the puffs onto a bed of strawberry slices and you have yourself a fancy dessert.

*that's never happend to me... riiiiiiiiiiiight.
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natural house cleaning with tea tree oil

When I was a foot-loose twenty-something I spent a lot of time in NYC doing trade shows for Marissa B. That meant walking everywhere and I'll never forget the myriad of smells I would experience as I navigated the city. One smell in particular would completely delight and capture me - the fresh, green, slightly astringent smell that wafted out of the day spas that dotted just about any given city block. It sounds a bit odd to articulate, but, man that herbal fragrance was totally intoxicating to me and I always wondered what the heck it was. Finally, crossing language barriers and my fear of looking like an idiot, I walked into one of these spas and asked the woman if she could pin-point the scent. Was it a perfume, a treatment oil...a cleaning product?! My efforts produced a bewildered shopkeeper and a slightly embarrassed self. It wasn't until one day, sick of the sneeze-inducing smell of Mr. Clean, that I decided I'd go grandma-old-school and use vinegar and water to mop my floor. To add an extra zing of cleaning power I dropped 1/4 teaspoon of tea tree oil and some peppermint essential oil into the mix. It was magic. I still don't know how that combination creates that "spa scent," but it does and it makes my house smell serene... taking me right back to strolling down a mid-August New York City street.

So, today I'd like to talk about tea tree oil. A friend of mine recently asked what I do with the stuff and I realized there was no short answer. What don't I use tea tree oil for? Definitely not for anything involving food since it's toxic when taken internally, so don't ever do that! 

First, a brief history: Tea tree oil, or melaleuca oil, is an essential oil derived from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia, a shrub native to Australia. It is widely accepted as an antifungal and antiseptic and is used to treat eczema, skin abrasions, dandruff, yeast infections... basically tea tree oil is mother nature's Tinactin. 

I love using tea tree oil in my cleaning products. I love that it has natural disinfecting properties without the harsh lung-irritating effects that bleach has (not to mention that bleach is to blame for too many be-speckled black yoga pants). Here is a list of all the things I make with tea tree oil. Mopping the floor is actually something I look forward to, knowing that my house will smell like a spa when I'm finished. You may not agree that the scent is as enrapturing as I've talked it up to be, but I hope you will agree that is much healthier for you than commercial cleaning products!

All Purpose Cleaner (for everything BUT granite and marble):

1/2 cup Citrus infused white vinegar (basicaly, anytime you eat an orange/grapefruit/lime/lemon put the peels in a jar of white vinegar. In a week you'll have upped the cleaning power of your vinegar).
1/2 teaspoon liquid castile soap
1 teaspoon baking soda
10-15 drops of tea tree oil
2 cups water

Pour all into a spray bottle, wait for the vinegar and baking soda to stop fizzing, put the spray top on, give a gentle shake and you're ready to rock. The reason you don't want to use this on granite or marble, is because the acidity of the vinegar is stripping. This formula works great on everything else, though!

Granite and Marble Cleaner

1/4 cup rubbing alcohol
1/4 teaspoon liquid castile soap
5-10 drops of tea tree oil
1 2/3 cups water

Pour all into a spray bottle, give a gentle shake and spray away! Clean you natural stone tiles with this too.

Natural Floor Cleaner (for ALL floors: wood, tile, linoleum, etc)

4 cups white vinegar (you could also use the citrus infused vinegar)
1 gallon of warm water
2-5 drops liquid castile soap
10-15 drops tea tree oil
5 drops peppermint essential oil

Mix all together in your mopping bucket of choice and enjoy a healthy (maybe even spa-like) cleaning experience. 

There you have it - my favorite three cleaning solutions that have tea tree oil in common. I haven't even gotten into the healing properties of topical applications for tea tree oil... that's a whole other post. In the meantime I hope you enjoy safer cleaning by trying some of these natural recipes - there's just no need to use a product that has disclaimers right on the package! Here's some further reading on the matter:  
the harsh reality of household cleaners 
10 household cleaners to avoid at all costs
why clean healthy
I only recommend products that I wholeheartedly believe to be valuable or that I use myself. - See more at: http://www.rubiesandradishes.com/2013/09/12/diy-all-purpose-cleaner/#sthash.jX9yaQn5.dpuf

affiliate disclosure: links to products in some of my posts will lead you to amazon.com links where you can purchase the items being discussed. I receive an affiliate kick-back from any purchases made through the links. I love sharing my experiences and what I hope to be helpful tips. I appreciate your support - it's how I offset the costs of running my blog! Please know that I only endorse products I use myself or wholeheartedly believe in!
I only recommend products that I wholeheartedly believe to be valuable or that I use myself. - See more at: http://www.rubiesandradishes.com/2013/09/12/diy-all-purpose-cleaner/#sthash.jX9yaQn5.dpuf
I only recommend products that I wholeheartedly believe to be valuable or that I use myself. - See more at: http://www.rubiesandradishes.com/2013/09/12/diy-all-purpose-cleaner/#sthash.jX9yaQn5.dpuf

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fave x five

Happy Valentine's day to y'all. I wish that "y'all" was natural to my vernacular, but growing up here in New England, it never feels right when I say it (or type it). Anyhoo, I'm starting a new series here on a Side of Sparkle called "fave x five." In addition to what I hope will be life-altering, mood-boosting, thought-provoking original content, I'll be featuring a smattering of, you guessed it, five favorite things I've been burning about all week to share. So, here's the first Friday fave x five (yeah, I like alliteration).

seriously cute baby shoes

the goings on in the New England seacoast area

how to say no

so romantic you might cry

is this possible?

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