essential oils // holiday glazed shortbread cookies

the holidays are coming and it's time to get baking!  every year i enjoy getting my arms elbow deep in flour and powdered sugar and butter to make treats for our dear friends that live both near and far.  here in the watters household we feel a baked goods spell "love" so we tend to go a bit overboard making goodies both savory and sweet to give as little holiday gifts throughout the festive seasons of thanksgiving and christmas.  as i've been slowly growing my essential oil pantry in our kitchen, i decided 'twas time to incorporate a few of my oils into my favorite glazed shortbread cookie recipe.  this time, i went with orange, nutmeg, and rosemary and they turned out better then i could have dreamed! 

why use essential oils in cooking or baking?  essential oils are more potent than dried and fresh herbs.  unlike dried herbs, which lose a majority of their healing nutrients during the drying process, therapeutic-grade (not aromatherapy grade, there is a significant difference between the two) oils do not.  oils from young living are safe for cooking and dietary supplementation because they have a chemical structure similar to human cells and tissues, thereby making them compatible with human protein.  when consumed, young living oils are readily identified and accepted by the body. 

i love learning about oils and their hundreds of uses for my family.  another mama whom i respect and admire, casey, is on the same journey as i given that we both use young living oils with our families and in our homes.  she is a wealth of inspiration when it comes to learning about more ways to incorporate essential oils into your everyday routine.  her website is fully dedicated to young living essential oils and is a resource i use frequently as a resource for new ideas.  she is a distributer, like myself, and is loving the positive impact the oils are having in her life.  i love crossing paths with beautiful mothers that have the same goal as i: let's make a healthy, happier home. 

now, onto the cookies! 

not only are these shortbread cookies fairly simple to prepare, but they are extremely versatile when it comes to the essential oil you can use in the recipe.  a simple substitution can make these cookies completely different.  i think a lavender cookie with lemon icing sounds divine.  in keeping with the holiday season we made our shortbread gingerbread cookies with nutmeg, rosemary, and orange.   below you can find a list of other oils that would be perfect flavors substitutions, whether it be for the cookie itself or for the icing glaze.  it is important to know these oils are very, very concentrated and a little goes a long way.  i have found that my herbal oils (like rosemary and sage) are extremely potent.  you may want to put even a half of a drop into a recipe and test it before adding more.   i feel like i should also mention that not oils are safe to consume.  you should check the label on the oil and do your own research before ingesting any oils, no matter the brand.  it is important to practices caution with any oil or natural remedy you are using at home to ensure the safety of you and your family.  i get my information from the young living website and literature they have recommended in helping one understand the oil's potential.

essential oils good for cooking / baking:

lemon essential oil
lavender essential oil
basil essential oil
lime essential oil
peppermint essential oil
cinnamon bark essential oil
black pepper essential oil
dill essential oil
sage essential oil
tangerine essential oil

shortbread cookie ingredients: 

2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
1 cup (two sticks) of unsalted butter room temperature 
1/2 cup of powered sugar 
3 drops of nutmeg oil or 2 drops of rosemary essential oil 

to prepare: 

in a separate bowl whisk the flour with the sea salt.  set aside. in the bowl of your mixer (or with your handheld mixer) beat the butter until smooth (about one minute).  add the sugar and beat until smooth (about two minutes).  beat in the oil of your choice.  gently stir the flour mixture just until incorporated.  flatten the dough into a disk shape, wrap in plastic, and chill the dough for at least an hour or until firm.  preheat the oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the middle of the oven.  line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  

on a lightly floured surface roll the dough out into a 1/4 to 1/2 inch circle.  using your cookie cutter, cut your shapes using a lightly floured cookie cutter.  place on the prepared baking sheet and place in the refrigerator for about fifteen to twenty minutes.  do not skip this step!  this will firm up the cookies so they will maintain their shape when cooking.  bake your cookies from ten to fifteen minutes or until they are light golden brown.  cool on a wire rack.

orange essential oil glaze ingredients: 

1 cup of powdered sugar 
2 tablespoons of water

to prepare: 

mix all ingredients in a bowl with a whisk.  once your cookies have cooled on your drying rack, use your whisk to drizzle the orange glaze over your cookies.  the messier the better!  

my past essential oil posts: for a post on cleaning with essential oils head here & for a post on stress relief head here!  


motherhood // a puj approved collection

the lovely company puj asked me to curate a collection of items we love and use for our little ones that have made parenting for us more simple and beautiful.  i was honored to be asked as a contributor because it gives me the opportunity to share some of our favorite and most useful baby items with all of you.  everything you see here are can be found on their blog.  they are items we have in our home, whether it be in theodore's nursery or in my diaper bag.  i hope you enjoy!


recipe // french apple tart

one of our favorite things to do as the weather starts to turn brisk is to host dinner parties for dear friends.  we go from dining on outdoor patios around the city to time spent indoors, a fire crackling in the other room, with forks, candles, seasonal greenery, spoons, linen napkins, stemware and bright white dinnerware dispersed around our dining table.  a beautiful mess.

it is one of our greatest joys to feed others with food we have lovingly prepared.  i feel that there is nothing cozier nor more intimate than to share a delicious home cooked meal with those you care about.  food is surely my love language and when i get to share something i've cooked and put a lot of passion into with others my heart swells.  lingering conversations about travel and family and the like, combined with bouts of laughter of course, add to our love of hosting gatherings such as these.  they make for beautiful memories and bring us closer to those we have over.  the nights usually end in calling a cab ride home and the all to serious debate of whether or not to open yet another bottle of wine. we always do.

for this particular party we were hosting my brother in law jason and his french friend, pascal.  perhaps i got a little too excited that we would be hosting someone with a seasoned french palate, hence, we had (mostly) parisian bistro fare: savory creamy cajun soup as a starter, anchovy greens to follow, a big, glistening roasted leg of lamb submerged in a red wine rosemary jus resting on creamy pureed cauliflower with scallions as our main, and a french apple tart ala mode to put a bow on our evening.

tarts in particular are my go-to desserts when hosting a coursed dinner party, or really any party for that matter.  because roasts tend to take more time, and courses can get hectic, i prefer beautiful desserts that need no warming when served.  also, i'd rather spend my saturday napping instead of at my stove if we are being honest.  this apple tart looks rather impressive but is really quite simple to prepare.  i promise.  in all, it takes about twenty minutes to assemble and about forty five minutes to bake.  i hope you give it a try for the holidays and let me know how it turned out!


for the pastry:

1 store bought puff pastry sheet
3-4 granny smith or honey crisp apples
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
1/2 stick of cold butter in small cubes

for the glaze:

1/4 cup of citrus marmalade
1 tablespoon of cognac

to prepare: preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  i usually wrap the whole thing in foil before i do this to avoid a huge mess because the apple juice tends to burn the baking sheet.  lay out your sheet of puff pastry.  peel and cut your apples into little half moon slices.  place overlapping slices across your pastry, making any pattern you desire.  i tend to lean more toward classic layering.  sprinkle all the sugar across the apples evenly and dot with butter.  bake for 45 minutes or until the apples are golden brown.  when the tart is done, heat the marmalade and cognac together and using a pastry brush, coat the top of the apples.  allow your apple tart to cool completely or serve at room temp with vanilla whipped cream.  bon appetite!


halloween 2014

andrew and i returned from our little trip to the caribbean just in time to enjoy halloween as a family.  this year, stella chose her costume.  after watching hocus pocus, which she hilariously calls "pocus pocus pocus," she decided classic was how she was going to play this game.  alas, we've had ourselves a little witch running about casting spells on us for about a week or so.  i have been turned into both a unicorn and a rock.  but because stella strives for originality, she insisted that an ordinary witch would not do, thus the laughing witch was born.  so we painted her little face emerald green and listened to her sweet cackle for strangers that coaxed her with their sugary treats.

and theodore.  oh my word.  he was all set to be a tiny, innocent turtle but as soon as andrew got home that changed real quick.  he scooped our darling boy up with one arm, whisked him away to our bedroom, and thus emerged a fierce one year mutant ninja turtle clad in arm, knee and a band.  this was one hard-core turtle, friends.  i had never seen anything so darn cute in all my life.  i think i spent the rest of the evening kissing his chubby ninja turtle cheeks and squealing in a high-pitched mama voice, "you are the sweetest little turtle, yes you are!"  lesson: dads know how to halloween.  and what do you suppose our ninja turtle baby did when we got home?  ate candy?  nope.  he fell asleep on our bed and slept through the whole darn holiday.  i secretly wished i could have joined him for the evening.


essential oils // stress relief in motherhood

yesterday was hard.  i pulled back the tangle of unmade covers around eight forty and fell into bed feeling worn out and past the verge of tears.  i think i was too tired to cry, thursday had taken its toll.  it was one of those days where everything culminated to a feeling of utter fogginess, the inability to pinpoint anything that had contributed to the difficulty of the day.   just everything, everything felt so heavy.  i suppose all i need to say to explain is that staying home with a stair-crawling one year old, a no napping three year old, and a diaper eating dog (sorry for the tmi) can wear a person out if they don't take a time out now and then.

as said by loving mothers around the world since he beginning of time: motherhood is the hardest thing one will ever do, yet the culminating point of joy in one's life.  i love it so much it hurts and can say with absolute certainty that it is the most beautiful aspect of my life, apart from my marriage.  as a little girl i knew i was destined to be a mama.  it has always been my calling and i would rather have a handful of exhausted moments and take the chance of getting worn down and be a mother than not have these amazing babies at the center of my world.  they are my everything.  but it is also really hard, too.  seriously, ridiculously, inexplicably hard.  as in no one could ever really prepare you for how difficult being a parent is if they tried their with all their might.  but, at the same time, what a blessing it is to be a mother.  to take care of these precious little humans.  there's nothing like it nor nothing better.

that night after the kids had been fed and bathed and read to and tucked in, and after i posted a little lament on instagram, i remembered i had something that could possibly give me respite and help.  after all, what i was really needing in that moment of gloom and anxiety was a bit of relaxation.  i was in need of being uplifted, the knots of my self-directed doubt and the stress of my worry unraveled.  my emotional state was in needed of nurturing, a little hug, perhaps.

so i grabbed my oil diffuser, plugged it in next to my bed, grabbed a glass of pinot, and diffused four drops of stress relief and four drops of lavender.  i put joy on my wrists and on the back of my neck.  i smelled orange and put a drop of it in some ice water.  i sat there, eyes closed, and felt like i was in a spa somewhere far away, tucked in the mountains.  despite the blatant fact that there were stale cheerios and several bottles (probably spoiled) of half drank milk on the floor of my bedroom and i felt like i was at a fancy resort.  pretty magical, i'd say.  if i had had more energy, i'd put a few drops of lavender in the bath.  bliss, my friends.

sometimes in life we just need a little push in the right direction to gather momentum.  we need the opportunity to nurture our emotional needs, giving our soul well deserved attention that most times goes neglected.  that being said, i think it's pretty neat that i have these uplifting oils at my disposal to help me out if i need it.  i went to bed that night feeling hopeful.  relaxed.  happy.  and in the morning, rejuvenated and ready to spend the day mothering the best i can to my little ones.  now i am not saying that you just rub oils everywhere and feel completely better, but boy do they help.  i am thankful for them.

for those of you who are wanting more information, here is a link to help you learn a little more about them and how they work and inspire you to have a more positive emotional state.  i found it to be really fascinating as i love learning about how these oils and how they can help our family.  if you are interested in purchasing these same oils i use (which is the premium starter kit plus a few other gems) you can get a 24% discount on your order if you choose to use sign up as a wholesale member (nope, you don't have to sell anything if you do).  all the steps to do so are located at the bottom of this link:  click here.   happy oiling, friends!