Orange-Vanilla Brown Sugar Scrub

I’ll admit I have an obsession with sugar scrubs. They smell delish, feel luxurious, and taste good too! You think I’m kiddin? Ewww who eats their body care products anyways? I may or may not be guilty of that. In reality, aside from the part that sugar is sweet, I actually prefer sugar scrubs over salt scrubs because I find that the sugar is more gentle and is less prone to burn your skin like salt does occasionally. In particular, I have found that brown sugar is better than white sugar; for some reason the particles are finer. Sugar scrubs are so easy to make you have everything in your kitchen already. You don’t have to go out and buy fancy ingredients to make this… Unless you want to. Sugar scrubs are perfect for dry wintry skin, which if you’re anything like me, you are very prone to it this time of year.

The scent of the scrub was inspired by a product a friend gave me recently which smells like the classic Dreamsicle popsicles we grew up with. Of course like everything, I always have to try to recreate it in my own way. Not to mention, as I mentioned before, which means that I actually already mentioned it, I really enjoy sugar scrubs a lot. When you are a mom of three kids, shower times can easily become spa times with the addition of sugar scrub… It’s that yummy.

So back to the part where I suggested you eat it. I don’t actually recommend that you get a spoon and eat it spoonful by spoonful, however, it makes a very lovely facial scrub and lip scrub. And in case you accidentally lick your lip you might actually crave more. I’ll leave that to your discretion. On a serious side note (cue putting on your smart hat)…the ingredients contained within are all food ingredients, hence why I’m suggesting you taste it. However! Homemade things don’t last as long as store bought body products. If by some miracle this lasts more than a month, of toss it and make a fresh batch. If it smells weird don’t rub it on your body. Mk? On another safety side note I have used essential oils from a company that I am very proud to be a part of and I trust their quality. If you are interested in finding out more and supporting a stay a home crunchy mama visit my oils page! For all my oil geeks out there and those who would like to know this information, the dilution ratio for the essential oils is 1% or less, depending on how many drops you choose to use. This scrub would be safe for the whole family to use (except delicate baby skin…don’t scrub that!) Finally, while orange oil is considered a phototoxic oil (meaning if applied to skin and then exposed to sunlight for extended period of time it can cause burns), since this application is a rinse off product this is a non issue. There is no need for concern about that effect in this use method.

Okay so on with the recipe so you can go get in the shower!

Orange-Vanilla Brown Sugar Scrub

Ingredients:

Directions:

In a clean bowl place the coconut oil, and using a hand blender, or mixer, blend until fluffy. Add your avocado or grapeseed oil and vanilla and continue to whip it until it is again fluffy. If your coconut oil is not solid (ie its over 76 degrees in your house) you may put the mixture in the fridge to allow it to cool down so that it will whip better. Or, don’t worry about it…might look a little different than picture, but it won’t effect the end product.

20150115_111551 (1)

Next, add your brown sugar and mix it in. Finally, add your EOs. Start by adding 5 drops of orange, smell, continue adding until you reach your preferred strength up to 15 drops of the orange and 4 drops of the Stress Away™.

Place in a glass jar and leave it in the shower or near the shower if you have little ones in the bathroom! Glass is important here due to the presence of citrus oils. Citrus can breakdown plastic, so we want to be careful that doesn’t happen here. No one wants to rub plastic chemicals all over themselves. Oh…one more thing…then I promise the over-protective mama will go drink a cup of coffee…be careful getting out of the shower as the floor might be slippery from the coconut oil.

20150115_112231

Good Morning Costa Rica!

I submit that there is nothing that a cup of coffee and some cinnamon buns will not fix. Coffee is a good deal like wine. Certain cups blend themselves well to certain foods. One of the Ethiopian varieties that we’ve tried, for example, does very good with blueberry muffins because the blueberries in the muffins make the hint of blueberry in the coffee so much more noticeable and enjoyable… [Read More at monroepostcoffee.com]

The Real Joy-Giver

Joy-Robber. That is his name. The one who seeks to kill, rob and destroy. He has been fighting hard at our family these past couple of weeks. Trying to steal Joy. This is the season that invokes so much Joy in hearts. It is not surprising he is pulling out all the big guns. Battle after battle after battle. Joy doesn’t surrender. The continued tap tap tapping on my patience and sanity has led to me my knees crying for grace. Things given that I do not deserve. For most of these days, I have needed abundant grace. I have failed in miserable ways. Selfishness, angry outbursts, control-freakish tendencies…its all been rampant around my mind. But there is also a Mercy-Giver, who can look past all of my short comings. All the while Joy still bobs her head above the surface, never sinking. It is the whispers of Joy that keeps me moving on…”keep going, keep going, you got this, you got this.” Many times for me, Joy-Robber comes in the form of a panic attack. My mind completely lost. But I have found a strength amidst the teeth grinding that helps pick me back up again…helps put the pieces back together. I find this strength in Joy of those surrounding me. You see, I have been given so many  Joy-Carriers. My husband, my strong tower, who deals ever so gently with my broken pieces and helps me recollect them to take them to the Puzzle Fixer. My Mom and Dad who are always there as relief…taking burdens away so that I can breath and always reminding me who gives air. My in-laws for the selfless help and un-exhaustible patience. For my children who even admist their struggles manage to tug my heart towards Joy- their smiles, their jokes, constant need for me. Finally, (but not least!) my faithful friends. My listening ears. My secret keepers. They are the warm touch of Joy…the balm that soothes the wounds.

There is a need deeper still…that the Joy-Carriers cannot meet. Somehow Joy-Robber still manages to squeeze his way into the cracks of human relationships. Frustrations, mis-communications, annoyances, incessant crying…But there is One who can meet needs. One who Robber cannot touch. It’s wonderful. There is someone far more capable of Joy creating because He is the Joy-Giver. Joy-Robber meet Joy-Giver. And Robber never can win because Giver never stops giving. Take what you may Robber, it will be replaced in full plus more by the Great Giver. Ha.

So this season, in the midst of our hardships, our heart-ship, that is that which makes our hearts go astray in the vast oceans of confusion, let us find the Peace-Giver and the Joy-Giver. For He is the only constant, and always giving. More, more, more than we need. More than the Robber can take. Joy to our hearts, to our bones. Let us rejoice for He has given us a spirit of Joy in the midst of the struggle.

Merry Christmas from The Monroe’s. May you find the Joy-Giver.

 

 

Sweet Potato Cornbread

I know we have been focusing on coffee a lot around here on the blog. Life seems to have revolved around coffee for the main of this summer. I barely got a chance to tell you all about my exciting garden adventures this year. Maybe I’ll tell you about that next. I figured you were due for a recipe. Of course it will involve sweet potatoes. Did I mention that we harvested over 200lbs of them babies out the of garden this year? Man it’s been a while, I don’t even remember my last few posts. Regardless. Here’s a simple, yummy fall recipe perfect in time for eating festivities that are going to be taking place THIS VERY WEEK. Can you tell I get a little excited about eating? Someday…someday…I may convince my mom to let me post her family secret stuffing recipe. Ya’ll will go nutso crazy over that. Just ask my husband. He came into the family hating stuffing. He’s a believer now. Weren’t we talking about cornbread though?

Cornbread really has a special place in my heart. Over the years I gradually evolved my cornbread palate away from Jiffy mix. Yes, I really did eat Jiffy mix at one point in my life. I would eat a whole box of muffins by MYSELF. I was pregnant. Nevertheless, there’s something about cornbread that makes me happy. However, I have yet to actually “settle” on the perfect recipe. I can’t tell you how many recipes I’ve actually tried. Probably like 100. I rule out any that call for 3 cups of sugar or a can of creamed corn. I just don’t have that stuff sittin around if you know what I mean. No judgement here if you do! Bet you actually have a dy-namic tasting cornbread. My ideal recipe calls for a lot of butter, a pinch of sugar, and heavy on the cornmeal. I stumbled upon a sweet potato cornbread recipe that actually tickled my tail feathers. I actually made the recipe more than once…so that speaks VOLUMES. Of course I have since tweaked it to my liking and thus present you with my final product. Please do not make this if you don’t plan to slather it with more butter and honey. Mk?

Sweet Potato Cornbread

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups mashed sweet potatoes (boiled or baked doesn’t matter-I boil to save time!)
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2 1/4 cup thin yogurt
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 1/2 cup non-GMO cornmeal (we fresh grind it, so it’s more of the stoneground variety)
  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar or sucanat
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray or butter a 9×13 pan. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl mix sweet potatoes, eggs, oils, yogurt and lemon. In another bowl mix together the remaining dry ingredients.
  3. Pour the dry ingredients into the sweet potato mixture and gently mix just until all flour is combined. Pour into pan. Bake for 35-45 minutes until top is brown and toothpick comes out clean!
  4. Serve with butter and lots of honey!

What is YOUR favorite thing to eat on Thanksgiving?

We hope you have a very blessed Thanksgiving. We have so much to be thankful for!

Summer Projects Wrap & a Winter Plan

I run my life on lot’s of to-do lists and goal scheduling. It feels so incredible to write down a list and then check things off. Ahh sweet checkmarks. So for my own peace of mind and satisfaction I present to you my summer project check list…and that which was checked off.

  1. Put in vehicle gate to back yard (for mulch/sand/wood) deliveries. 
  2. Build kids a playset and sandbox. 
  3. Build the kids the “Ultimate Slip and Slide”.
  4. Put gutters on the house
  5. Can LOTS of tomatoes
  6. Begin renovations to garage for coffee roasting business.

Wow, that was a crazy summer that actually merged into fall…hence why I don’t have any fall plans. I’m tired.

Winter plans. Well…I’d like to say I’m going to cozy up and never venture outside. There are a few things on the list.

  • Christmas Vacation!! It’s been over 5 years since we have ventured to Michigan to visit the rest of our family. We are looking forward to taking the kids to the “real snow”.
  • Insulate well pump. (Froze last year=not fun)
  • Organize House
  • Spread mulch for next years garden
  • Research apple tree pruning
  • Roast lots of coffee

That sounds do-able. Doncha think?

Alright ya’lls. Sorry for this terribly boring post. It was kinda a brain-dump kind of night. I promise more exciting things soon. In the meantime…Go buy some coffee.

 

What's Going On: 10 O'Clock Contemplations

You may have wondered where I have disappeared to recently. Maybe you haven’t. I secretly wish that you did miss me. What have I been doing for weeks without posting an amazingly entertaining blog post? Well…we have been a tad busy around here lately. I’ve also gotten into some writers block. I know! Crazy! Out of amazing ideas! Nevertheless, I’m back tonight. Thought I would deliver you some updates and some changes.

WHAT?
Wow were getting so close to having the coffee shop open. Cleaning and a final inspection to go and we’re ready! I honestly don’t even know what to say about it all as I am so overwhelmed with emotions. This has really been a challenging and exciting time for us as a family…but it’s been hard and we are ready for a break…a break in manual hard labor that is! No more drywall, paint, plumbing, digging, or cleaning. We are ready to just do the business work! Which does lead me to the announcement of a few things. In just a few days we will be launching our very own eCommerce site for coffee. Wanna sneak peek? Visit MonroePostCoffee.com and poke around 😉  We’re not accepting orders quite yet…but we will be very soon. With that we also have the ability to ship orders to anywhere in the country. Woo! It also means we have to deal with pesky things like taxes. Just part of the package. So that’s the nitty gritty’s. Lemme move on to more emotional topics.

WHY?
I have found myself asking myself (as I am sure others have wondered the same)…WHY? Why are we doing all this. Pouring our heart and soul into a business…swiping the card endless amounts of time at Home Depot for yet another few parts and materials. Why is a good question. One I am not sure we can fully answer right now. We have been dreaming for many years about the idea of starting a family business. The first reason is because we love coffee…we always have. We got passionate about the organics and fair trade industry and wanted to make a difference. We also were passionate about connecting people with missionaries in foreign countries through the use of coffee. We began Coffee with a Mission at church to bridge this gap. It has really grown from there. The second reason why we wanted this business is to pursue self-sustainability. While it seems a far fetch of a dream that this business could actually support our family entirely without Alex having to work away from home, we cannot make any progress towards that goal unless we are willing to take some steps in that direction. Thirdly, the feeling of “making the dream happen” is such a satisfying experience and we wish everyone could experience it. So that’s the nutshell.

HOW?
How have we been able to do all this? Afford all this? I’m going out on a limb here…pure honesty. I struggle with feelings of guilt and unworthiness. How was I so blessed to even have this ABILITY to begin such an adventure? Deep down I am afraid of making others feel bad or jealous. I hate that feeling. If I could just give all the coffee away I would (although my husband would surely come after me). I want to be real though. We have NOT done this alone. While we have followed in God’s leading of taking a leap of faith, it has certainly been very backed by supporters. Our parents have been generous supports both in work and financially. We literally could not have started this journey without them. The help and hands they have provided over the past months has been invaluable. With three young children running around, it would have been near impossible…scratch that…IMPOSSIBLE to ever accomplish this single-handedly. We have been very blessed with hardworking parents who are willing to lend their skills & child wrangling abilities. We have also had major support from close friends who have offered their help and encouragement along the way. This has kept our head above water, esp when times got hard and tried to pull us under. So all this to say- we’re really trusting God through this process and letting Him guide the next steps. This is not the result of some ability of ours…but rather the Grace He is pouring out. My mom wrote me a beautiful letter and I love the verses that she wrote.

Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. John 4:36

I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor. John 4:38

Those who have sowed into our lives will be blessed just as we are being blessed. There have been those who have gone before us and worked hard in order to help us now. We are reaping the blessings of our parents and grandparents’ hard labor. We are so grateful and full of joy. So when I start to feel those lies creeping in of guilt or fear…I just recall the Grace which He has lavished and rejoice that we get to share that with YOU through the practical means of coffee. Man that’s a win-win. So…that How. That’s how we did it.

Alright ya’ll deep thought for the night are shuttin down. Gotta put the brain to rest! We have a big business conference we are attending tomorrow! Stay tuned!

Coffee Biz Update: Plumbed & Painted

Hey ya’ll thought I’d give you a quick update…we have been SWAMPED busy here lately…which is probably why the blog has been rather quiet as of late. Whoa life is busy. But good…mostly good.

Where we at? How are we doing? We are getting SO close. These past couple of weekends we have knocked out the final huge project of bringing plumbing into the space. We had to dig yet another trench…about 80 feet worth. It was terrible, miserable, curse-worthy work. I helped, so that gives me permission to complain. OK…sorry, no complaining here, we don’t do that. Let’s just say that was definitely NOT the highlight of the project. We were blessed to have some help from a friend and we got all of the plumbing in and tied into the septic system. Yikes! I would really like to re-iterate God’s blessing throughout all of this. We got a quote from a plumbing company on how much they would charge just to tie into the septic system…no digging included…it was going to cost us $1,200. Wow, yeah no. Thankfully we have a very skilled plumbing friend who helped us FO FREE…well some labor bartering and Mexican food. Come on, who can pass that kind of wage up? 😉 Thank you friends.

In other news, we got all of the drywall up, plastered and painted…with free paint mind you. 😉

So what’s up next?

1. Get plumbing inspected.

2. Install crown molding (high class, I know!) & base molding.

3. Trim out windows

4. Install flooring (linoleum)

5. FINAL INSPECTION!

We’re getting super super close ya’ll! This is so exciting. Do we really have any idea what we are doing?! No…not really. We are just trusting God and His leading. He is always faithful to light the next step. I am quick to doubt sometimes…and really scratch my head thinking “what in the world girlfren, you done gone crazy.”

Well, crazy or not, were here, we’re moving forward. Another step towards the dream. Thanks for following. 

Cardamom Ginger Snaps

My house smells so good right now. I am really craving the fall and winter festivities. The pumpkins, the warmth of spices, curling up on the couch in blankets…cookies…

photo 5

Alright back to reality…or at least toss out the idea of afternoon naps. Sigh.

I had a craving for some ginger snaps today…random,  I know. I think its my subconscious reacting to my poorly digested Mexican food from yesterday.  Ginger snaps are one of those things I think you either love or you hate. So if you’re on the hater side, you prob want to skip this recipe. Unless you think you might be cured from your hating by trying my awesome recipe. I claim no cures…

On the other hand, these cookies make a lovely home freshener. Pungent ginger smell mixed with cinnamon and a pop of that super fresh cardamom smell…ahh…it’s good for the dreary day. And the uneasy stomach if you happened to eat something you probably should not have.

photo 1 (3)

Before I proceed with the recipe…I should go ahead and address that look on your face…the “Holy dude what the hay is cardamom?” look. It’s ok, I promise it’s not that scary. And I promise to refrain from all bad jokes regarding moms or cards or anything like that. If you know this amazing spice and its super powers…proceed to the recipe. For the rest of you…

photo 2 (2)

Cardamom is a spice that comes from a plant in the ginger family. (No wonder it tastes so good in these cookies!) The variety I use comes in a small green pod. The seeds inside the pod are what we use for cooking. It’s often used in middle eastern dishes. It’s a very different flavor than you may have experienced before…almost like a spicey, citrus, floraly flavor. It’ truly unique. You gotta try it! There are a couple different types of cardamom, but the kind I use is called green cardamom. It’s not that hard to find in stores, although I think you would have best of luck finding it Indian food stores or in stores like Whole Foods in the bulk section. I recommend that you only buy it in the whole pod form. They sell ground cardamom, but this is one of those spices that you loose a TON of flavor after its been ground. Soo, it means more work for you but its worth it. So how do you work with these strange little things? First off, each pod has about 6-8 seeds in it. The easiest way to get these seeds out is to gently smash the pod with the side of a chef knife. Then use your fingers to break it open and dump out the seeds! You will then need to crush the seeds a bit as you probably don’t want to bite an entire seed…they are strong tasting! I use a mortar and pestle. You could use a coffee grinder, or even just the blunt end of a butter knife in a cup or bowl that won’t break from you hitting it with metal! Make sense? Just crush the seeds however you can…they aren’t that hard!

photo (3)

Cardamom Ginger Snaps

Ingredients

  • 2 cups + 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 6 cardamom pods worth of seeds. About a 1/2 tsp crushed cardamom seeds. (See note above)
  • 12 tablespoons butter at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 teaspoons grated fresh ginger (I find that the microplane does an excellent job!)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup organic molasses
  • For coating: 1/4 cup sugar + 1/2 tsp powdered ginger mixed

Directions

  1. In a small bowl combine flour, baking soda, and spices.
  2. With a hand mixer, cream butter and sugar together in a large bowl.
  3. Add egg, fresh ginger, vanilla extract & molasses and mix.
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix. You may need to use a spatula at this point! Dough should be thick!
  5. Scooping a spoonful at a time, roll the dough in your hands to make a ball.
  6. Drop the ball in the sugar coating mixture and roll around until coated.
  7. Place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 mins. 12 min will yield a softer cookie, if you like crunchy traditional “snap” cookie bake longer…maybe even closer to 16 min.
  9. Let cookies cool slightly before transferring to a cooling rack.

While I was sitting here working on typing up this post earlier, Elyse decided to sneak into the kitchen, get a chair and start chowing down on these. I was obviously too focused. I eventually caught her…this is her running away with a handful of cookies laughing her head off. Oh children…

photo 2 (3)

Coffee Biz Update: I've Got the Power

You read that right. Oh boy…we have been waiting for this day for a LONG TIME. I can’t even remember when we started running power to the garage…but I am pretty sure it was last fall. Wow. That took a.very.long.time. But as of August 30th, 2014, HOUSTON WE HAVE POWER!! Big thanks to my Dad, and Paul for getting this thing DONE. Phew. My dear sweet husband can now plug in his table saw in the garage without having to run a 75′ extension cable from the house. If you can’t tell I am beyond excited about this. We have LIGHTS in the garage (no longer hanging flashlights from the rafters to work in the dark.) Doesn’t everyone work in their garage after dark…or is that just us crazy country folks?

photo 3 (1)

So…that’s big news on the coffee front too! Means we can actually power our roaster, run an a/c unit, turn on a light, and listen to music…ALL at the same time. Like whoa. Ok, I’ll stop with the dramatics and the all-caps. In case you are wondering what kind of crazy electrical set-up we gots going on out there…I might have to leave that post to the Wise One. It’s something like a subpanel with 60amp circuit, with like 220v plugs…or something. I’ll stop now, lest I make myself look entirely dumb.

photo 1 (1)

We have also finished all the insulation…eww, thanks Alex’s Dad for handling that bear of a job. Finally, we got the ceiling dry-walled. I actually helped with that. I’m not trying to brag or anything, I am just making a note that I did help. And it was hard. Really hard. Not sure my arms have ever burned so hard trying to hold something heavy above my head for that long. Someone sympathize for me, please…I know my husband won’t…He works this hard all the time! Nevertheless, ya’ll better believe I was soaking in my Epsom salts that night.

photo 4 (1)

I think that’s about the round up for this week. Power, insulation, drywall. Tons accomplished! We have been blessed with so much help…but there’s always room for more! And, we pay in beans!

What’s next? Plumbing. This is going to be a bear. (As if the other isn’t!) We have decided to do a sump pump instead of the above ground gravity fed pipe like we originally considered doing. This means digging a big trench, jackhammering part of the concrete floor, etc. Thankfully, we are blessed with talented friends and family so we are escaping all of this without the cost of hiring anyone.

photo 2 (1)

I look over these things…sometimes I question why are we doing this? For us, it has kind of been an Abraham journey. We don’t see the big picture and how this is going to go. God has lit the path only for the next step. We have big dreams for this business, but they all seem so overwhelming in light of where we are and how far we have to go. In the meantime however, we are taking steps in faith in the direction of FORWARD. The journey has taken a lot of courage, but we are confident that He who has begun a good work will bring it to completion (Philippians 1:6).

Check out more in the Coffee Biz Series:

Starting a Biz in NC

Water Works

Walls Up