{everyone needs a side of sparkle}


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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chocolate, like love, can be complicated

Love is not always easy. But it's so worth it and we grow from making it through the difficult parts, making the smooth parts that much sweeter.  Love and chocolate have a lot in common. Both can be complicated, yet with sweet results. Is that why we give chocolates on Valentine's day? Is it the perfect metaphor for love?

I'm not going to pretend this recipe for red velvet  bonbons is easy or simple... but it's not overly complicated either. First you bake a cake, then turn it into the liquid center for the bonbons. The chocolate requires tempering and the final product is firmed up in a candy mold of your choosing. The entire process really embodies what love is all about. If you make these bonbons for your valentine, tell them how much work it was, and tell them how much you love them. I think these are a sweet homage to love. Oh, and they look freakin' delicious!

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valentine's day, you say?

It's a good thing I was late dropping off Violet to preschool today because I would not have overheard another mom asking the teacher about how many valentines to bring in on Thursday. Valentines! On Thursday? I had a small panic attack as I didn't even think about such reverie. Admittedly, I've been preoccupied. I sheepishly inquired of the same teacher "how many did you say?"

Turns out I'm not that daunted by the need to craft a dozen or so cards seeing as how there is a wealth of ideas out there {thank you, Pinterest}. Here are the few I'm debating over making. Personally, I like the non-candy idea of the goldfish crackers.

Here is a round up of some creative and straightforward valentines ideas for kids and their schoolmates. Oh, and this gorgeous diy valentine topiary that reuses all that beautiful card stock you have laying around! p.s. you will need this hydrangea punch

 Bunny Valentine Cards via smallforbig 

 Goldfish Valentine via tammymitchellphotography 

Caped Crusader via spoonful

Fish Bowl Valentine via i heart naptime

Valentine's Day Topiary via house by hoff

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something new

It's been well over two years now that I have been using a homemade oil blend to moisturize my face. From the moment I first patted it onto my skin I knew I would never go back to commercial (ahem, chemical laden) creams. Friends asked me to make some for them and pretty soon it dawned on me that I might have a new venture in the works! Through the magic of PBS kids and mini marshmallows I whipped up a website last Thursday while the lovelies (can't believe they're already 4 and 2.5) were entertained.Without further ado, I would be honored if you checked out Precious Skin Elixirs.

This is the beginning of what I think will be rather successful. Chemical-free and toxin-free living is something I am passionate about in my own life and I am thrilled to be sharing something that has helped me stay true to that commitment. Plus, my skin has never looked so clear and vibrant! What do you think - do you like the concept? Would you like a free sample? Ask me in the comments!

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Ever talk yourself out of doing something new because the "what if's" start piling up? What if I fail, what if I don't like it, what if no one understands my decision? I'd like to know why the "what if's" are typically fear and doubt based and not pointed toward positivity. Why not ask what if I succeed, what if I love it, what if it doesn't matter what others think?

My reason for discussing this topic today comes from my realizing that I've spent too much time in the negative "what if's" and less time exploring the positive direction I want my life to go in. The mind is a powerful thing. Our thoughts are like arrows; and depending upon which direction you aim them, they might hit the target. Wouldn't you want that target to be something beneficial? Just something to think about today!

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