Homemade apple butter

Crock pot small batch apple butter

Ingredients
  • 4 large apples of your choice (I used gala)
  • ½ cup of white sugar
  • ½ cup of light brown sugar (not packed)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or a blend of 1 tsp cinnamon, ¼ tsp ground ginger, ¼ tsp nutmeg, and ¼ tsp allspice)
  1. Peel and core your apples. Chop them as finely as you can, it’ll make them easier to blend!
  2. Place the apple bits in your crock-pot and top them with the sugars, spices, and vanilla extract. Stir until the apple bits are completely coated.
  3. Bake the apples on high for 5 or 6 hours, depending on your crock-pot’s settings. Stir once halfway through the cooking time. When the apples are ready to be pureed, they will be dark brown and soft.
  4. If you have an immersion blender, puree the apples directly in the crock-pot until smooth. If you have a normal blender or bullet blender, carefully spoon the mixture into the cup and blend the mixture. Word of advice for the blender route: let the apples cool off a little before blending so it does not crack the plastic or glass. I personally used a bullet blender with good results.
  5. Refrigerate immediately. The butter keeps for 2 weeks in the fridge, or you can freeze it for later.

Go forth and put this sweet taste of autumn on everything, my babies!

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Soothing Essential Oil Blends

After acquiring my first essential oil diffuser, I have become obsessed with trying out new scents and combinations. Living with anxiety and the insomnia that frequently accompanies it, I tend to gravitate toward “sleepytime” or “calming” scents. These four mixtures have been in heavy rotation lately and they really do help ground me* when I am feeling particularly high strung.

I mostly diffuse Edens Garden* oils, but Rocky Mountain Oils and Mountain Rose Herbs are also great companies to purchase from. I do not condone the MLM sales model so I cannot speak for doTERRA or Young Living, though they are quite popular. Be sure to look for therapeutic grade oils, as some oils you purchase at grocery chains can be diluted or have additives included.

*Personal Disclaimer: EOs are great for supplementing your medicinal routine but they are NOT meant to replace proper psychiatric care. Take particular care if you are pregnant, nursing, or have small kids in the house as some herbs are unsafe for children.
** Affiliate link: If you purchase through my link, I get 50 Aroma Notes, which is EG’s reward currency.

Bullet Journaling: Arc Customizable Notebook

As someone who was new to the world of bullet journaling, I started with one of the most popular notebooks, a Leuchtturm. While I loved the dot grid paper and its sturdiness, I did not like using a bound journal. I am prone to ripping out pages and rearranging things a lot, so dealing with numbered paper and how tightly the book was stitched together bugged me.

I decided to switch it up.

There are a few disc bound systems on the market; The Happy Planner uses discs, along with Office Depot’s TUL line. I went with Staples ARC because I had a coupon, ha! You can use products from each line interchangeably as long as you heed the dimensions.

I chose a clear 6 3/8″ x 8 3/4″ (aka A5, “junior” or “mini” size) poly notebook because I had planned to stick stickers all over it. The mini notebooks are easily distinguishable by their 8 discs.

Since I was not 100% sure if I would like discbound journaling, I bought pre-packaged paper to keep costs down*, but you can make your own from cardstock / A5 printer paper and a special hole puncher. (From cheapest to most expensive: one, two, three, four) If you do not want to purchase a new hole puncher, you can use a single hole punch and make a small slit in the middle of the hole. This method is quite tedious, though.

*The paper is thin and most highlighters make it pill. My typical Sharpie pens also bleed through much worse than the Leuchtturm paper did. I will be crafting my own in the future.

Stickers from Redbubble.

Using Martha Stewart tab dividers and my trusty label maker, I created subsections. The biggest issue I had with my LT was how disorganized it got over time; I would have a weekly spread, then turn the page and I would have a to-do list with notes on how yesterday’s meal made me feel in the margins. *twitch*  

Here is the breakdown:
  • Monthly has a calendar print out of each month left in 2017 with important dates circled and defined.
  • Weekly is where the weekly spreads and running logs go. It is the “meat and potatoes” of my bujo.
I’m not thrilled with the look of this spread, no more highlighters until I switch paper.
  • Under the Log tab is where I keep things like my food diary, daily gratitude, and other day-to-day things.
  • Charts houses more long term tracking, like my gastro grid, mood chart, and debt trackers.
  • Etcetera so far has various pages dedicated to spirituality and meditation, as I am trying to be a more balanced individual. This is where everything that does not fall between the first four categories goes.
Anyone else wild about the moon? No?

The biggest downside to the disc system is that I have heard that the discs are fragile and can break apart if you carry your planner around. You can alleviate this issue if you put your journal in a separate pouch before putting it in your travel bag.

Fear

“Neurotic” and “Type-A” are fun little buzzwords that people use to make themselves look like busy little worker bees who maintain an air of impeccability. The truth is darker. My neurosis often leads to paralyzing fear. I wish I were someone who could dive into a new hobby with zest, ready to stumble until things click. Instead, I freeze on the diving board, unable to process.

I bought a calligraphy book a few weeks back and made an excited Instagram post about how I am finally going to give a long-desired hobby a shot since I want to take back the love of creativity that depression stole from me. What ended up happening is that I collected all the pieces I needed to start practicing and then I put them on a shelf.

I have not made a single stroke in my tracing pad because I am scared to.

You would not believe how many things I have self-sabotaged throughout the years because of my fear of failure. I stick with what I know, things that I am already good at, and quit whenever something becomes too much of a challenge. And it’s not even my conscious choice to quit, I just… shut down. I turn to ice.

Jesus, this sounds stupid to even admit out loud. Like, SomePeopleHaveWarsInTheirCountries.jpeg.

I am sick of living like this. It’s time to put myself out there, it’s time to try. And if that means I mess up along the way, I will try not to hate myself for it.

Bullet Journaling: An Introduction

If you are even faintly into organization or journaling, you have more than likely heard of Ryder Carrol’s Bullet Journal system. It is kind of a big deal.

Even if you are not the kind of person who gets giddy over office supplies, stay with me! I promise that if you need an analog system to keep your shit in order, this one is pretty dang awesome.

What makes the Bullet Journal unique from other planning systems is that it was created to be forgiving. You do not have to wait until January or August to start, like most standard planners. I literally began my bujo journey in the middle of June!

While there is an “official” branded Leuchtturm1917 Bullet Journal, there is no obligation to use it. In fact, you are encouraged to use whatever kind of notebook that works for you. That could be anything from a spiral notebook you snagged during a killer back to school sale or an artisan crafted travelers notebook. Your journal can be as simple or as complex as you decide; some users keep bare boned to-do lists, while others turn their spreads into works of living art. Me? I am kind of in the middle. I am no artist but I enjoy the use of colour and I try to keep things aesthetically pleasing.

One of my “bare bones” weekly spreads before the week began.

The biggest appeal I saw to the bujo over traditional planning was the option to track my mental and physical health. Taking the time to write down how I feel each day and logging tasks that I complete helps me keep better in tune with myself. I live with major depression and adult ADHD, so I need structure. My life without structure spirals into a nightmare. Being able to turn to a page and see that the last time I showered was last week is helpful with recovery, as is the ability to look over what I could have ate that upset my stomach.

I deal with chronic nausea and various gastro issues, so I keep daily notes to how food makes me feel.

My next post about bullet journaling will be how I made Staples ARC system work for me.

Come Clean

For a while now, I forced myself into a niche that became stifling. As the great American philosopher* Hilary Duff once sung, “Trying to fit a square into a circle / is no lie.”

* I am full of shit and early 2000s pop culture references. Excusez-moi while I Defy.

So, truth bomb: I am not some effulgent Lilly-donned prepster with a closet full of expensive, vividly hued shifts and accoutrements. To be frank, the cut of the brand is unflattering on me, I genuinely hate wearing dresses, and I prefer neutrals to the neons used in Pulitzer palettes. Also, since this is Honesty Hour and I am letting it all out, let me tell y’all that LP is way out of my monetary comfort zone anyway. $98 yoga pants, say what? I am a broke-ass struggling millennial crying into my avocado toast, not a Lady Who Lunches. Zero shade to the country club set but I do not belong and they know it.

It is not difficult to let social media mold you into somebody else, bit by bit. What starts as innocuous browsing can trap you in a gilded cage, trying, trying, trying to keep up with the bloggers and Instagrammers whose lives appear so effortlessly glamourous. Questions, so many questions haunt you while you Frankenstein a new personality. If I had slipped more easily into the Classy Girl in Pearls persona, would I have been better liked by my sisters during my time as a sorority active? Since the fit was off, did the repugnant scent of desperation to be liked escape through the gaps, repelling people instead? Could I have clawed my way into the blogosphere as a top influencer if I had the disposable funds to blow on pretty, meaningless baubles to inspire envy? Perhaps if I had rearranged my life just so, I would be a Somebody now.

While I will never have the answers to those questions, I found myself through the charred remains of burned bridges and wasted cash. I know who I am.

And I like her.