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You simply must see Salt Lake Acting Company’s “A Year with Frog & Toad”

2014 December 8
by Emily Hill

Disclosure: Our family received tickets to Salt Lake Acting Company’s A Year with Frog & Toad. All thoughts, opinions and newfound love for Salt Lake Acting company is 100 percent true.

*** Get $3 off your ticket price if you mention my blog! ***

Our family saw the most enchanting children’s play Friday night. It was pure joy from beginning to end—or spring to spring, depending on how you look at it. If you’re a fan of the Frog & Toad books by Arnold Lobel, you simply must see Salt Lake Acting Company’s production of the Tony-nominated musical A Year with Frog & Toad.

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Salt Lake Acting Company - A Year with Frog and Toad
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“Part vaudeville, part make-believe, all charm.” AMEN.

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SLAC A Year with Frog and Toad
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The Salt Lake Acting Company venue reminded me of Hale Centre Theatre only a bit more intimate, which was absolutely lovely. I’m a huge fan of smaller theaters because they allow playgoers to feel more a part of the story. Everything is happening front and center and you can’t help but be drawn in. There’s nothing like escaping into a whimsical world for a spell, especially amidst the holiday craziness.

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SLAC A Year with Frog and Toad
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The play, which runs about an hour, is perfect for kids of all ages. I looked over at my older girls a couple times and they were both smiling and giggling and thoroughly enjoying themselves (even if they played it down a bit). Those actors had enough energy and animation to keep the audience engaged the entire time, and that’s saying something considering the little ones in attendance. Frog and Toad were superb and the three birds (who also played squirrels, a snail, a mouse, a turtle, a lizard, the Frog family, and even moles) where phenomenal.

They all must be on hidden caffeine drips because they gave 110 percent for a full hour.

Here’s what critics (i.e., my kids) had to say:

  • George: It was like the best play ever because I love Frog and Toad. And it was so amazing how they, like, had to learn all the music in one week. They have awesome voices and they’re super hyper. And if you need one more thing, it’s the funniest thing ever. Besides a talking dog.
  • Madison: I liked it! I’m really glad the Frog guy was cute because that basically made it more fun for me to watch. And the birds were funny. They had some really cute songs.
  • Olivia: It was really really really really really fun! It was so fun I could hardly laugh! My favorite was the snail delivering mail. I liked the snail.
  • Lauren: I really liked it! It was kind of younger but it was really great. Entertained me and made me laugh. I was laughing todos los dias.

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Even more fun—and maybe this was just because it was opening night—the actors held a quick Q&A with the audience after the show. How awesome is that? The kids loved it!

Believe me when I say you don’t want to miss out on “A Year with Frog & Toad” by Salt Lake Acting Company. The story is all about two best friends celebrating and rejoicing in their differences—a story of a friendship that endures, weathering all seasons.

And it is absolutely lovely.

Here’s a little behind-the-scenes video with a sneak peek of our favorite “Cookies” song (oh my gosh, loved this song so much) and a few thoughts from the Director. Take this sneak peek and multiply it by 100 and you’ll have the pure delight that is “A Year with Frog & Toad.”

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“A Year with Frog & Toad runs from December 5th through December 27th and has performances most nights during the week and matinees on Saturday. For ticket information, click here.

*** Get $3 off your ticket price if you mention my blog! ***

DON’T MISS IT!

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ps post script

Feel free to “like” is this REALLY my life? on Facebook. It won’t always earn you an extra entry in a giveaway but it will give you warm fuzzies.

Don’t forget to sign up for free is this REALLY my life? updates via RSS or email so you don’t miss a single awesome post.
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Magical mint cookies

2014 December 5
by Emily Hill

I was browsing my cookbook of power (i.e., my overflowing binder of printed recipes, a third of which I’ve actually made) and stumbled across these magical mint cookies. Hello, chocolate + Candy Cane Hershey’s Kisses + powdered sugar. I am SO making those.

And I so did!

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Magical Mint Cookies -- chocolate cookies with a hidden candy cane surprise inside.

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I was surprised at how much my kids loved these cookies. There were a total hit, so it’s probably good we took most of them to our neighborhood’s annual Walk to Bethlehem.

Though they require a little more effort due to forming the dough around the Candy Cane Kisses, they’re well worth it. Just ask my kids.

Oh, wait. I did all the work.

These magical mint cookies would be the perfect addition to your holiday cookie plates, especially if you’re leaving a plate on my doorstep.

Printable recipe for magical mint cookies below.
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Magical Mint Cookies
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Cookies
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24
 
A chewy chocolate cookie with a hidden Candy Cane Hershey's Kiss inside. Perfect for the holidays! Makes about 4 dozen.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup butter or margarine
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • ¼ cup baking cocoa
  • 1 pkg Candy Cane Kisses, unwrapped
  • Powdered sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Beat butter, sugar, and vanilla together in a large bowl until creamy.
  3. Whisk together flour and cocoa in a separate bowl; add to butter mixture, beating until thoroughly combined.
  4. Mold about a tablespoon of dough around each Candy Cane Kiss, covering completely. Shape into balls.
  5. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake 8 to 10 minutes.
  6. Cool completely before rolling in or dusting with powdered sugar.

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Here are a few other cookie recipes you may want to bake this holiday season:


Triple chocolate grasshopper cookies -- chocolate cookie with semisweet chips, dark chocolate chunks and Andes Chocolate Mints melted on top. So good!

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Decadent triple chocolate grasshopper cookies

Soft and chewy pumpkin chocolate chip cookies


Soft & chewy pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

Chocolate chip Twix cookies

Chocolate chip Twix cookies

Old-fashioned iced oatmeal cookies

Old-fashioned iced oatmeal cookies

Salted caramel toffee Rolo cookies

Salted caramel Rolo cookies

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And if you absolutely love cookies (can I get a “heck, yes!”), you’ll definitely want to check out my “cookies” Pinterest board. It’s full of all kinds of drool-worthy cookie recipes.

Follow Emily Hill’s board desserts {cookies} on Pinterest.

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ps post script

Feel free to “like” is this REALLY my life? on Facebook. It won’t always earn you an extra entry in a giveaway but it will give you warm fuzzies.

Don’t forget to sign up for free is this REALLY my life? updates via RSS or email so you don’t miss a single awesome post.
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My new favorite makeup must-have thanks to Merle Norman in Draper

2014 December 4
by Emily Hill

Disclosure: I received sample product and a discount with no requirement to post but I couldn’t help sharing because I love supporting local businesses. All thoughts, opinions and true love for my new inner eyeliner is 100 percent honest.

Thanks to a friend of a friend, I was invited to Merle Norman in Draper for an express facial and makeover. When I first read “Merle Norman” in the email, I thought, “Isn’t that a mature woman’s store?”

If I’m completely honest, the actual phrase may have been “old lady’s,” not “mature woman’s.”

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Merle Norman Draper review
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I was more than pleasantly surprised to discover Merle Norman is for woman of all ages, even those of us who think they’re still 29. The Merle Norman store in Draper carries an impressive collection of makeup and skincare products. Just look at the sheer number of foundations, not to mention the pretty pots of eye shadow and blush.

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Merle Norman Draper review

Merle Norman Draper review

Merle Norman Draper review

Merle Norman Draper review
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What makes shopping at Merle Norman in Draper so fun is the boutique in the back half of the store. It’s full of unique clothing, jewelry, accessories and gifts.

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Merle Norman Draper review
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But I digress. As usual.

Chelsee (super adorable) greeted me at the door and started me off with their free express facial. Yep, it’s free! Feeling like you need a pick-me-up while out holiday shopping? Pop into Merle Norman and you’ll get a 10-minute mini pampering with one of four facials: Oat & Chamomile Soothing Facial; Pumpkin & AHA Retexturizing Facial; Lavender & Ginseng Hydrating Facial; Cocoa & Vanilla Brightening Facial. I went with the Cocoa & Vanilla Brightening Facial because let’s face it, at 40 my skin can use all the brightening it can get!

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Merle Norman Draper review

Merle Norman Draper review
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It’s amazing what 10 minutes can do for your skin and your attitude—both were brightened after a bit of masking and steaming.

I may need to pair an express facial with every visit to Costa Vida. Or Sonic.

Following my super fab facial, Chelsee started my makeover. She asked a ton of questions, which I love because that tells me she’s genuinely interested in figuring out a makeup regimen that works best with my skin and preferences (powder vs. liquid foundation; primer vs. no primer, etc.).

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Merle Norman Draper review
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Though the application may have been a bit heavier than I’d normally wear, I loved everything I learned…maybe because I too asked a ton of questions. I had Chelsee show me how to:

  • Properly apply blush (something with which I’ve struggled).
  • Incorporate four eye shadow colors for the perfect date-night look.
  • Use a specific technique when applying eyeliner so smaller eyes look bigger.

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Here is the before (at home):

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Merle Norman Draper review
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And here is the after (also at home):

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Merle Norman Draper review
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And here’s how the makeover looked via Instagram after driving through Sonic:

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Merle Norman Draper review
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After asking a bazillion more questions related to skin care and makeup, I purchased the following. I wanted to purchase a few other items but I’m too cheap to throw out the stuff I’m currently using. Those other items will have to wait.

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Merle Norman Draper review
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Pictured:

  • Brilliant-C Cleanser
  • Clear Complexion Spot Treatment
  • Inner Eyeliner in Nude
  • Retinol Night Complex (one of their newest products)

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Though I love the Brilliant-C Cleanser because it does a fantastic job removing makeup using a very small amount of product, I’m not sure it’s brightening my skin as much as I’d hoped. But I’ll continue to use it because it smells amazing, contains Vitamin C and goes a long, long way.

The Retinol Night Complex is supposed to be a miracle worker due to the Retinol and AHA, and while I do think it’s helped with fine lines, I may have used it a bit too aggressively leading to some sensitive areas of skin. I’m going to adjust its usage and see what happens.

THE NEXT TWO ARE MY FAVORITES! They deserved their own photo.

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Merle Norman Draper review
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I swear the Merle Norman Clear Complexion Spot Treatment is the first acne blemish treatment that really works. Other salicylic acid products are either too drying or don’t do their job of cleaning up blemishes in record time. This stuff works, at least on my skin. I am in love with it!

Okay, guys. You have to buy the Inner Eyeliner in Nude. I’ve tried using a white eyeliner to brighten my eyes but I look like a wannabe teenager. This nude waterline liner (used on my lower lid), is magic—a couple swipes and my eyes look bigger and brighter. I will be buying this until the day someone else is doing my makeup, and probably even then too.
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*** Get 20% OFF your purchase at Merle Norman in Draper! Simply “like” Merle Norman Draper / Skin Esteem Spa on Facebook and show them you did when checking out. ***

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Each Merle Norman is individually owned and operated, so you’re buying local when you shop at the Merle Norman in Draper. You can get a free facial, pick up some amazing Merle Norman products for yourself and grab a gift or two for a friend. It’s basically one-stop shopping—my very favorite!

You can find Merle Norman in Draper on Facebook and Instagram. To learn more about Merle Norman products, visit MerleNorman.com.

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ps post script

Feel free to “like” is this REALLY my life? on Facebook. It won’t always earn you an extra entry in a giveaway but it will give you warm fuzzies.

Don’t forget to sign up for free is this REALLY my life? updates via RSS or email so you don’t miss a single awesome post.
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Lemon cranberry muffins & an interview with Melissa Chappell, author of “Melt in Your Mouth”

2014 December 2
by Emily Hill

Before I share the recipe for these surprisingly healthy lemon cranberry muffins from Melt in Your Mouth: Sweet Treats You Can Freely Indulge In, the latest cookbook from Melissa Chappell…

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Healthy lemon cranberry muffins -- you can not even tell these are healthy. The perfect combination of lemon and cranberries.

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…I need to give you a little background.

Only long-time readers will remember The Raw Melissa Project, a three-part series of posts in which I compared the contents of Melissa Chappell‘s fridge, freezer and pantry with the contents of my fridge, freezer and pantry:

Would a woman who is all about avoiding processed foods and eating as organic, fresh and local as possible have anything in her freezer? Would she have a completely bare pantry except for some grains and organic coconut for her to-die-for macaroons of which I can eat an entire carton by myself? And wouldn’t it be fun to take photos of her fridge/freezer/pantry and compare them to what we have in ours? Those thoughts—and an email to Melissa with all my crazy ideas—were the beginning of the Raw Melissa Project, a series of posts I can’t wait to share with you.

I unveiled my findings here (the contents) and here (the videos and Melissa’s recipe for a true breakfast of champions), and then I gave a thorough review, including recipes, of her Fresh Food Workshop. Since that time I’ve watched as Melissa Chappell has continued her mission of “a gentler and happier approach to health.”

I love her manifesto so much I had to share. It’s something every woman needs to hear.
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This woman is amazing; everything I said about her still rings true: “I was immediately drawn to this woman who had a glow about her. She’s beautiful—I’m talking gorgeous hair, engaging smile, flawless skin, generous, easygoing and passionate. … You can’t help but absolutely adore this woman.”

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Melissa Chappell
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Back to her cookbook, those delightful lemon cranberry muffins and how you can get 20% off your purchase (because Melissa loves my readers as much as I do).

I’m going to be totally honest—I love my white flour, white sugar and all things butter treats. That’s why when Melissa told me about her new cookbook featuring treats I could feel good about baking and eating, I used it as the perfect excuse to catch up with her and find out more about what we could expect from Melt in Your Mouth. You’ll quickly learn why I love this woman so much.

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First, a bit about you…

Can you tell us a bit about the life experiences that have helped guide you over the past few years?

I am a single mother of three teenagers and one baby. The road to both doing what I love and making a living has been a very arduous and difficult one, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. My parents are entrepreneurs and I grew up knowing that doing what you love is the key to true happiness. I knew I could get some 9-5 job, and I respect people who do that, but it wasn’t for me. I saw great freedom in what my parents did and more than “stuff” and “things” I wanted a full life, so when I became a single mom, over ten years ago, I worked and worked and worked to have that big, challenging, joyful, tiring path because it ultimately meant a more meaningful life to me.

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Your manifesto is amazing. Why did you feel it was important to have a manifesto? (I love it, by the way.)

I took Marie Forleo’s B-School training this spring and it was AMAZING. One of the things she suggested is for us to write a manifesto. I’ve seen so many women over the years, in my work as a birth professional, as well as my work as a nutrition coach and food educator, berate themselves and literally become immobile in life because they are incapacitated by the negative thoughts about their bodies. I myself have been in that place. After much emotional and “soul” work, I’ve come to regard my body as capable and strong and valuable. I’ve seen positive changes in my physical body just by changing my thinking patterns and I wanted to share all this with women. I want women to take a more gentle approach to health. I want them to be happy and joyful and full and abundant TODAY, not in 30 days after they’ve completed the latest food fad challenge or hurt their bodies after working out too hard at the gym. The manifesto not only allows me to share with women exactly what my aim is, but it also reminds me what it is I’m trying to do. Of course, this particular manifesto is only one aspect of my life and I plan to write manifestos for every passion and desire I have.

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What is the most important thing women need to do in order to better love themselves unconditionally and wholly?

Learn to let go of guilt and shame. It’s so easy for me to say, but it’s so keenly important. Notice I said “learn to let go” instead of “let go”? It’s a years’ long process for many people and it’s not something we can usually do without resources and help. Women are trained to feel bad about everything they do that isn’t “perfect” and it’s a very hard learned behavior to let go of. There are many philosophies and ideas for how to let go of guilt. Brene Brown (see her on TED) has some of the best and most sound ideas for how to let go, however, I think the number one best way to begin is to realize that one’s purpose in life, the reason you were put here on this planet, will never be fulfilled as long as you are stymied by guilt. Women are nurturers, we love to serve others, so considering it from this angle can sometimes help women realize that they can’t ever serve the world in their own unique and purposeful way if they can’t let go of shame and guilt.

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What was your inspiration for your new website and how long was it in the making?

I’ve wanted to create a new website for a long time that isn’t related to “raw food.” If you looked closely at my old site, you realized that I wasn’t myself a raw foodist and that I wasn’t promoting raw foodism, but the name “Raw Melissa” obviously led people to believe that I was. It’s true that my products fit within a raw foodist parameter, but they also fit into many different parameters such as gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, etc. Ultimately, my goal was to create healthy treats that many people could indulge in freely. Still, I had a lot of people come to my classes that were coming because they had been told or had read that being 100% raw was the healthiest thing they could do. I got frustrated when I saw the guilt and shame, obsessiveness and physical harm that often came along with that. I didn’t want to be a part of making women’s lives harder than they already were, specifically around food, so I made the new website.

I started it at the end of March and we launched on June 21. It was a crazy and hard journey, but I have an amazing designer and had many people who contributed articles and such to make it happen. Side note: do you know how hard it is to make a website when you’re nursing a baby? I’m pro at typing with one hand. ;)

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What is your favorite thing about MelissaChappell.com?

Hands-down, my favorite thing is the cooking shows section. I love everything about the cooking shows. I love the planning, the creating of recipes, the securing and picking of guests, etc. The shows are intense and so much fun!

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I can’t be the only one who feels creating fresh, healthy and seasonal meals is time consuming and expensive. What do you tell people like me?

I agree with you! It’s sometimes overwhelming. I think the number one best thing that people can do is to learn to cook, and I don’t mean learning to make mac and cheese. That’s not cooking (though it is helpful to know in college). For example, tonight I was able to make a nice pasta dish and a side dish of cabbage salad for dinner. The extraordinary thing is that I’ve just been out of town teaching a training in another state! I have no fresh groceries in my house and I’ve been spending so much time catching up, that I haven’t made it to the grocery store. Still, I was able to make a nice meal because I knew how to combine ingredients and spices and the odds and ends I do have into a nice meal.

Another thing that works well is to eat whatever you’ve got (yes, even mac and cheese) but add some peas to it or some chopped tomatoes and serve it with a bowl of grapes and a bowl of carrots and a bowl of almonds or whatever you’ve got on hand. The point is that even when you don’t have time to cook, you can still produce a healthy meal just by putting things on the table that require no preparation or cook time and are fresh and healthy. Being healthy doesn’t mean you should eat only good food all the time and stress out so much about it that you end up hurting yourself emotionally. That defeats the purpose!

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And now a bit about your new cookbook, “Melt In Your Mouth”…

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Melissa Chappell - Melt in Your Mouth Cookbook. Full of desserts you can feel good about indulging in. Love this!

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When did you first realize you had a passion for food, specifically healthy food?

Very early in my life. I remember having small notebooks as a little girl where I wrote down recipes that I made up. I also learned to cook at a very young age. The very first really hard thing I ever made was a lemon meringue pie. My mother facilitated the whole project and she helped me make it. I helped a lot with cooking as I grew up and I watched my grandmother and mother make food all the time, they even catered events every once in a while. My grandmother was very into health food and it spilled over into my mother’s cooking, as well. I remember my grandmother taking me to a tiny little health food store that smelled like herbs and spices and we used to sit at the counter and eat “Bible Bread Sandwiches” with Spike seasoning. To this day, I use Spike seasoning on the whole wheat veggie sandwiches that we sell commercially.

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You used to focus mainly on raw foods. What was the first raw recipe you tried and was it a success?

Wow. That’s such a good question. I don’t remember the first recipe I tried because when I first decided to become a personal chef for raw foodists, I went to a raw food restaurant and ordered a couple things so I could get an idea of what I was doing. I then bought a fat raw cookbook, read it from cover to cover and made plenty of notes along the way. I picked out about five different dishes, bought the ingredients and ended up spending a full day making them all. I tested the finished products on my raw foodist friend who had previously owned a raw food catering business and she loved them! We also took samples of those products to some potential clients and they ended up loving them too, so I guess you could say, yes, they were a success.

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Other than a focus on desserts, what should readers expect?

Speaking of desserts, they should expect to find some of their favorite traditional treats like oatmeal cookies, chocolate pudding, vanilla ice cream and banana cake, but done in a really healthy way. Additionally, they should expect to find that the recipes are almost all very simple, with a couple being a little more technical for the foodie/cooks out there.

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Did you learn anything while publishing your first cookbook that changed the way you approached this one?

My first cookbook was self-published and my second, Melt in Your Mouth, has an actual real-life publisher, so you could say that is one thing I learned. It’s nice having a publisher and mine is very flexible, allowing me to be completely in charge.

The biggest thing I learned with the first one is that deadlines are meant to be missed. Truthfully though, deadlines are meant to keep us on track, but aren’t meant to kill us off. I had to push my deadline back several times because of life events and work-related situations and I realized that it was okay in the big scheme of things. I love deadlines, though, because they keep us focused and continuing to work on the goal without quitting.

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What did you most enjoy about writing this cookbook?

I just love testing recipes. I also love the whole creative process of sitting and coming up with ideas for recipes. Sometimes, in the early stages of this cookbook, I would fall asleep by dreaming up different combinations and ideas for what might work. I also love choosing the colors and photos for the cover and taking the pictures that go with the individual recipes.

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What do you think will most surprise and delight readers when they buy this cookbook?

I think readers will be surprised by the photos and how I took and edited them. I think (hope!) they will be delighted by the way that I write about the backstory of each recipe, as if I’m writing to a friend, which I really felt I was doing. I think they’ll also appreciate the detailed ingredient list which describes each of the most common ingredients, so that they have no questions when sourcing ingredients. I think readers will also enjoy the famous “Guess What?” sections that I also had in my last cookbook. These are sections that talk about the health properties and history of some of the ingredients used in the book and people really seem to love them.

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What do you hope readers will most take away from your book?

I want readers to realize that this is a fun, light-hearted cookbook that is first and foremost about treats. The fact that they happen to be healthy and use whole food ingredients is a delightful but secondary perk. I hope readers will read through the different recipes and will be thrilled with the selection of treats and excited to get into the kitchen and make some of their favorites.

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Of course I have to ask, what is your favorite dessert recipe from the book?

Oh wow. Let’s see here. This is almost like choosing a favorite child, but not quite. I think I can do it. Can I say more than one? Ok, here goes: I LOVE the chocolate puddings, the Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream about kills me, it’s so good, and, (lest I name all chocolate containing recipes) I have to say that I really love the Lavender Bread Pudding with Toasted Hazelnuts and Dried Cherries.

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If you could use only three words to describe the new cookbook, what would they be?

Guilt-free (can that be one? haha), happy, indulgence.

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Do you have plans for a third cookbook and if so, can you share what kind of recipes we can find among the pages? I promise I won’t tell!

I do have plans for a third cookbook. It’s a meatless main dishes cookbook. One of the recipes I’ve already tested several times is a Savory Bread Pudding with farm eggs, tomatoes and spinach. It’s SUPER easy and delicious. I want to fill it with recipes that are so good and hearty and filling, you don’t even think about the fact that there’s not meat in them. I think the dishes will end up being very ancestral and traditional (think Old England or the South of France) and will use lots of hearty ingredients like artisan breads and grains, vegetables, and cheeses.

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Final question. Over four years ago (yes, four!), you were kind enough to let me interview you for what I affectionately called The Raw Melissa Project. I was able to compare what was in your fridge/freezer/pantry with what was in mine. It was no surprise yours looked a heck of a lot healthier. After four years, are they still packed with whole-food goodness? Have any of your habits changed since then?

I would say it pretty much looks the same. I remember that we had a homemade cheesecake in the fridge, along with all the healthy foods, and that is still largely my philosophy, that is, cooking from scratch is first and foremost the most important thing anyone can learn or teach when it comes to food education. More than food education, learning to cook is a valuable life skill that is necessary for better health, better food production practices and good financial health.

Oh, incidentally, I’ve got a homemade Tres Leches cake in my fridge right now, but yes, I made it from scratch. :)

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If Melissa’s recipe for lemon cranberry muffins is any indication of what you’ll find among the pages, then Melt in Your Mouth is a must-have cookbook this holiday season. It makes the perfect gift for yourself and friends and family.

You know what else makes the perfect gift? Melt in Your Mouth at 20% OFF!
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*** Use code ITRML to get 20% OFF your order of Melt in Your Mouth: Sweet Treats You Can Freely Indulge In. ***

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Healthy lemon cranberry muffins -- you can not even tell these are healthy. The perfect combination of lemon and cranberries.

Melissa was nice enough to let me share this recipe with you. I guarantee one bite and you’ll be jonesing for the entire cookbook.
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Healthy Lemon Cranberry Muffins
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Muffin
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
These lemon cranberry muffins are so yummy you won't believe they're actually good for you. Just one of the many delicious recipes found in Melissa's new cookbook, Melt in Your Mouth. You can get your copy here: http://melissachappell.com/shop/shop.shtml.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour or organic sprouted wheat flour
  • 1½ cups frozen cranberries
  • 1 cup sucanat or coconut sugar
  • ½ cup almond milk, coconut milk, cow's milk, kefir or yogurt
  • ⅓ cup walnut or sunflower oil
  • 2 T fresh lemon juice
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 T apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
Instructions
  1. Mix everything but the cranberries in a bowl. Once ingredients are well incorporated, fold in the cranberries.
  2. Fill muffin papers about ¾ of the way full. Bake at 350 degrees until brown and the middle springs back to the touch, about 20 minutes.

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Learn more about Melissa Chappell by visiting her website MelissaChappell.com. You can watch her cooking shows, read health and wellness articles and shop for all kinds of yummy things like her incredible macaroons and cookbooks.

You can also find Melissa on Facebook and Instagram where she posts some of the most delicious photos of her recipes.

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ps post script

Feel free to “like” is this REALLY my life? on Facebook. It won’t always earn you an extra entry in a giveaway but it will give you warm fuzzies.

Don’t forget to sign up for free is this REALLY my life? updates via RSS or email so you don’t miss a single awesome post.
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Loving: Reclaimed wood signs from Signed Yours Truly {GIVEAWAY}

2014 November 26
by Emily Hill

Disclosure: I received a reclaimed wood sign from Signed Yours Truly to review and one to giveaway. All thoughts, opinions and true love for my sign is 100 percent honest.

If you follow me on Instagram, then you’ll remember this beautiful reclaimed wood sign I had custom made by Signed Yours Truly on Etsy.

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Signed Yours Truly reclaimed wood sign -- these signs are absolutely beautiful and you can customize the saying.

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I first saw this saying in a shop at Gardner Village. The full quote read: “Being a family means you are a part of something very wonderful. It means you will love and be loved for the rest of your life no matter what.” It wouldn’t fit on the sign, so Carolyn tweaked it.

I may love it even more.

And how lovely is the “Signed Yours Truly” handwritten on the back of the wood.

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Signed Yours Truly reclaimed wood sign -- these signs are absolutely beautiful and you can customize the saying.

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I want this reclaimed wood sign to be front and center in our home but I haven’t yet found the right spot. I think it will go in my entryway, which we are having repainted in the next few weeks. Until then it sits on the dining table where the family can see it daily.

Because my dining table is a dumping ground for backpacks and coats, I know my kids see this sign every. single. day.

Carolyn Canington from Signed Yours Truly specializes in customized reclaimed wood signs. Here are a couple of my favorites:

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Signed Yours Truly reclaimed wood signs

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Signed Yours Truly reclaimed wood signs

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If you’re looking for a unique holiday gift, you really ought to consider a custom wood sign from Signed Yours Truly. Each design features carefully handcrafted techniques that create an authentic, distressed look with a vintage, modern appeal. Plus you can feature your favorite quote, scripture verse, personal motto, wedding date—if it can fit on one of Carolyn’s signs, she can do it!

Carolyn will work with you to create your unique design (size, materials, colors, etc.). Once you’ve settled on a design, she will send you a blueprint sketch before payment to ensure your order is exactly what you want. And if you’re not 100 percent satisfied with your final product, she will refund your payment. How awesome is that?

I’ve met Carolyn and she is truly sincere about making her customers happy and producing high-quality work…and she does both, trust me.

You can find Carolyn’s work in her Etsy shop at SignedYours.Etsy.com.

And now for the giveaway!

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Signed Yours Truly Etsy shop giveaway

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One lucky ITRML reader will win a $50 credit to use on any pre-made or custom reclaimed wood sign from Signed Yours Truly on Etsy!*

* Winner must pay for any amount over $50; shipping not included. Credit may not be used toward any item that does not fall in the “Reclaimed Wood Signs” category.


You can enter this giveaway using the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Peanut butter chocolate trifle

2014 November 25
by Emily Hill

Remember those peanut butter swirl brownies I posted last week? They truly are my favorite brownies because they are the perfect combination of peanut butter and chocolate and the perfect dessert without an embellishment. Of course, if you feel the need for embellishment, why not go all out and throw them in a peanut butter chocolate trifle because how could that not totally work?

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Peanut butter chocolate trifle - if you love peanut butter AND chocolate trifle, you must make this ASAP.

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This peanut butter trifle was George’s birthday request. He’s been a fan of my chocolate trifle since he was old enough to shovel it into his mouth; I was happy to tweak the recipe to incorporate a bit of peanut buttery flavor. Hello, we’re talking chopped Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. And those dang good peanut butter swirl brownies.

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Peanut butter chocolate trifle - if you love peanut butter AND chocolate trifle, you must make this ASAP.

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I’ll be posting my classic trifle recipe in a couple weeks. Believe me, you don’t need trifle more than once a quarter, but since you’re only looking at photos and (hopefully) pinning the recipe, you’ll be able to avoid the sugar coma that inevitably sets in with too much trifle.

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Peanut butter chocolate trifle - if you love peanut butter AND chocolate trifle, you must make this ASAP.

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This peanut butter chocolate trifle is a fantastic holiday dessert because it:

  • Serves a huge crowd. (Trust me, you only need about a half cup or you’ll have instant cavities.)
  • Needs to be made a day ahead, so less prep (and dishes) on the big day.
  • Makes just about everyone happy, even those who don’t love chocolate.
  • Works really well as a late-night snack.

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Yep, it’s pretty much a no-brainer crowd-pleasing dessert—and those are the very best kind. Printable recipe for peanut butter chocolate trifle below.
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Peanut Butter Chocolate Trifle
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
This peanut butter chocolate trifle is a total crowd-pleaser. It features peanut butter swirl brownies, chocolate pudding, whipped topping and chopped Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.
Ingredients
  • 1 9×13-inch pan of peanut butter swirl brownies, cooled (see recipe here: http://www.isthisreallymylife.com/2014/11/peanut-butter-brownies/)
  • 1 (3.9-ounce) package instant chocolate fudge pudding mix
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (8-ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 1 (16-ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 6 to 8 Reese's Peanut Butter cups, chopped
Instructions
  1. Cut brownies into 1-inch squares.
  2. Combine pudding mix, water and sweetened condensed milk in a large bowl. Mix until smooth; fold in 8-ounce container of whipped topping until no streaks remain.
  3. Layer half of the brownies, half of the pudding mixture and half of the 16-ounce container of whipped topping in a trifle bowl or similar large glass bowl.
  4. Sprinkle half the chopped Reese's. Repeat layers. Refrigerate at least 8 hours before serving.

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Don’t forget to sign up for free is this REALLY my life? updates via RSS or email so you don’t miss a single awesome post.
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Salted caramel eggnog milkshake

2014 November 24
by Emily Hill

This post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Blendtec and contains affiliate links.

Remember that amazing gingersnap cookie butter I posted on Friday as part of my Blendtec Designer 725 review? It was the inaugural blend for my new Blendtec blender…and it was a super tasty one.

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Gingersnap cookie butter recipe

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But of course I had to make sure Blendtec was as good at making festive, frosty milkshakes as it was at blending cookie butter because let’s be honest, smoothies and milkshakes are the best thing to pour out of a WildSide Jar.

With this being the season of eggnog, and with my love of salted caramel (I could bathe in it), I thought a salted caramel eggnog milkshake would make for the perfect blended treat. And I was right.

I’m always right, but this time I was, like, 147 percent right.

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Salted caramel eggnog milkshake

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It did take me a couple attempts to figure out the best settings on the Blendtec Designer 725 for blending the perfect milkshake. A manual high-speed blend/puree caused the shake to become too runny due to a bit of heat from friction, so I gave the Ice Cream setting a try. It turns out it was the ideal option as long as I stopped it about 3 to 5 seconds into the high-speed blend. (It starts slowly and picks up speed.)

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Salted caramel eggnog milkshake

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Trust me when I say the entire family devoured this salted caramel eggnog milkshake. Madison and I both had at least two glassfuls and neither of us is drinker of the eggnog.

I wish the pictures did this milkshake justice; you’ll just have to believe me when I say you need this in your life, at least from November to January.

To discover why I want to marry my new blender, you can read my Blendtec Designer 725 review. To discover a new love for salted caramel eggnog milkshakes, print out the recipe below.
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5.0 from 1 reviews
Salted Caramel Eggnog Milkshake
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Milkshake
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Your holidays are not complete without one (or more) of these salted caramel eggnog milkshakes. Even those who aren't fans of eggnog will devour this frosty treat!
Ingredients
  • 2 cup eggnog
  • 4 cups vanilla bean ice cream
  • ¼ cup salted caramel sauce (I used Smucker's)
  • Whipped cream
Instructions
  1. Place ingredients in blender in order listed.
  2. Blend on low speed until thick and creamy.
  3. Serve immediately topped with whipped cream and a drizzle of salted caramel.

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My blender can obviously blend gingersnap cookie butter and salted caramel eggnog shakes, but if you want to learn more about Blendtec, visit them online at Blendtec.com or connect with them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube (their “Will It Blend?” videos are my fave!), Pinterest and Google+.


Save an additional $30 on Blendtec Factory Recertified Blenders + Free Shipping

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Feel free to “like” is this REALLY my life? on Facebook. It won’t always earn you an extra entry in a giveaway but it will give you warm fuzzies.

Don’t forget to sign up for free is this REALLY my life? updates via RSS or email so you don’t miss a single awesome post.
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