Five Minute Fall Update
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I love updating my home decor. I am forever moving and changing things around. (Thanks mom… Wink Wink.) But my favorite updates are the ones that literally take 5 minutes, and not much thought. Can I get an Amen. 

I had some leftover magnolia leaves from a floral arrangement that were starting to dry out and I was loving the golden brown color. I couldn’t bare throwing them out, so instead of buying yet another wreath to go with the changing seasons, I thought I would just change out my ribbon and add in some of the golden dried magnolia leaves to my current wreath and viola, an autumn wreath for this fall!!!!

All you need is some floral wire, wire cutters and ribbon of your choice. You can dry any leaves you may have in your yard for color, I don’t have a magnolia tree, but maybe a neighbor does and they wouldn’t mind a missing branch… Otherwise you can grab lots of different varieties of fall colored leaves from a local florist. 

Ok, now that your ready, just place the leaves around your wreath to fill in color and use the floral wire to attach them. Change out your hanging ribbon and your project is complete! 


Have fun being creative and adding some fall color to your decor. 

Fall Succulent Pumpkin Planters

It is finally started cool off in Bakersfield this weekend. The mornings were down to 60 degrees and the high was only 75… Perfect! It is starting to feel like fall, so what better time to make some super simple fall decor for the back patio. How cute are these little guys.

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Here is what you will need to get started!

  1. Varying size styrofoam core pumpkins (I grabbed these at Michaels)

  2. Cactus potting soil

  3. A serrated pumpkin carver and a pen to draw your outline

  4. Clay pots about the same height and your pumpkin (also grabbed these at Michaels)

  5. Your favorite small succulents (I got these cuties at Cricklewood, but any local nursery near you will have them)

  6. Moss, I chose the grey for a fall look, but you can use any variety you like.

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Ok, lets get started…

  1. Take your clay pot and put it upside down and on top of your pumpkin stem. Draw a circle around the edge. Using your serrated pumpkin knife cut just outside your line. Discard your top.

  2. Place your clay pot inside your pumpkin leaving just a little of the edge of the pot showing.

  3. Fill your pot half way with potting soil.

  4. Now just arrange your succulents in the pot as desired.

  5. Finish with a little moss around the edge. Don’t forget to water these little guys and remember they don’t use much . I just use a water bottle and spray them.

Add to any table scape, porch or just around the house. They also make a great hostess gift! Hope you have fun with it and share how yours comes out. I would love to see some samples and maybe some spins or your own version. You can use any color pumpkins to go with your decor!

Lori Ovanessian
Botanical Steam Facial
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I recently found this recipe for a botanical steam facial and I love it! It smells amazing, it's relaxing and talk about unclogging pores! It's super affordable to make yourself and makes for a great gift for mothers day, a girlfriends birthday, or a hostess gift. I hope you love it as much as I do. 

Here is what you will need:

Dried Chamomile, dried rose petals/buds, dried lavender, dried calendula, a large bowl, and 3-4 cups of water, towel.  (I ordered all of these items separately on Amazon in an organic form, but I also found it as a bundled kit if you prefer. )

Combine equal parts of each ingredient together in the container of your choice. Place a spoonful or two of the mixture into a large bowl.  Bring 3-4 cups water to a boil and then pour the water over the mixture. 

Grab your towel and place it over your head to create a tent over the bowl. This will keep the steam concentrated on your skin. Keep a distance from your face so you don't burn your yourself, but close enough to feel the steam on your skin. Do this for about 12 -15 minutes and then wash off your face and moisturize as usual. I love this right before bed, its super relaxing. 

Hope you enjoy!

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Lori Ovanessian
Labor Day Sides
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Labor Day - well, it's always held on the first Monday in September to honor the American Worker, but I feel like the holiday has become a way to mark the end of the summer season and the start of the school year. The best part is barbecues, time spent with family and well the day off!

Even though it has been almost 28 years now, each September I am reminded of a labor day weekend where my contractions were heavy and I thought for sure I would be having a baby... Well he came, but days later. This year is no different. I will be buying items to barbecue and getting the ingredients of my sons favorite cake. 

This year it is starting to cool off just enough in the mornings to leave the doors open for a bit and here the hummingbirds buzzing outside wile I make school lunches. Yep, still in that faze of life. That is what happens when you have kids sixteen years apart. Ok yes chuckle, but it's becoming quite popular thing these days to have bigs and littles. LOL!!! Anyway, it's still warm enough in the afternoons to feel like summer and well while watermelons are still sweet for a little while longer, I will be grabbing one of those as well.. This labor day I will be making some watermelon pizza's to snack on and rosemary lemonade to sip on while the main course is smoking on the barbecue. Hope you have some fun time planned with your loved one's this Monday. Below is the recipe I use... 

Recipe: Watermelon Pizza

Ingredients

  • 1 watermelon
  • 1 cup coconut greek yogurt (Trader Joes) 
  • ½ cup strawberries, sliced in half
  • ½ cup raspberries
  • ½ cup kiwi fruit peeled and sliced
  • ½ cup blueberries
  • ½ cup pomegranate seeds

Instructions

  1. Using a sharp knife, cut off a slice of watermelon right down the middle, about 2-3 inches thick.
  2. Using a spatula, spread an even layer of your yogurt around the watermelon leaving a bit of empty space at the top. (where your "pizza crust" is.)
  3. Layer your fresh fruit on top as you please. You can add as little or as many toppings as you like!

 

For the Lemonade I just used 2 bottles of the Santa Cruz organic from Vons and I infused them the night before with some Rosemary sprigs. Makes a great twist… Flowers are from Vons and we just alternated colors in a box! You know me, I will have to have some festive flowers around. 

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Lori Ovanessian
Garden Chamomile
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The Chamomile in my garden is doing so well! This cute little flower helps take away the day’s stress and tastes great as a tea especially if you add a little Manuka honey, but also just as nice by itself. 

I like to have it about an hour before bed, it helps my body slow down and start prepping for a good nights sleep. The herb works on your nervous system and relaxes the nerves, making sleep a little easier. Chamomile also aids in cell and tissue regeneration, bonus!

Did you know this tea will naturally lighten your hair and skin. Why spend a lot on harsh chemicals to add highlights to your hair when you can get the look you want with all natural chamomile? You can also give your skin a brighter glow with chamomile. Your skin and scalp with thank you: chamomile has anti-aging and anti-acne benefits as well. (Remember this because next week I am sharing a steam facial with Chamomile as one of the ingredients.) 

If you’re looking for an all natural treatment for eczema, acne, sunburn, psoriasis, and small cuts and scrapes you can turn to chamomile. It has both anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians recognized chamomile’s incredible healing properties and used it to clean and dress wounds. Just make sure your tea has cooled to a lukewarm temperature before applying it.

If you have a nasty upper respiratory infection or cold, drinking chamomile will help relieve the symptoms. Its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties soothe sore throats and help eliminate the bugs making you sick. You can also use chamomile as aromatherapy, which helps it reach your sinuses and lungs.

Bottom line, this cute little flower is pretty amazing, and I highly recommend you get to know her. Wink Wink

Ok, so now that you know how great this tea is, lets talk more about how to make it. 

Once chamomile flowers start to bloom, you can harvest them! You want to harvest during the day when the flowers are fully open, but make sure it’s late enough in the day that the morning dew has evaporated. (I live in Bakersfield, Ca so we don’t see much dew this time of year… lol) If the plants are wet from dew, or if it recently rained, the flowers might mold as they are drying.

Harvest chamomile flowers as soon as the petals are full, and lay flat around the center of the flower. If the petals are still curled up around the center of the flower, it’s too early. And if the petals have started to droop down towards the stem of the plant, pick that flower right away! Ideally, you want to grab the flowers when the petals are perfectly flat and perpendicular to the stem; that’s when they have the most essential oils, which give them their flavor. 

Slide your hand underneath the chamomile flower, slipping the stem between two fingers. Then gently lift your hand until the flower head pops off the plant!

Once the flower comes off in your hand, turn it over and gently shake it or blow on it to remove any insects. Or wipe them away with your fingers if they’re really stubborn. Bugs like chamomile (just like humans do!) so make sure your flowers are bug free before you dry them!

As long as you didn’t spray pesticides on your plants as they were growing, you shouldn’t need to wash or rinse the flowers. In fact, you shouldn’t get them wet or you might wash away some of the pollen, and the flowers might mold as they dry!

To air dry chamomile flowers, remove all stems and leaves and place the flowers on a screen. Set them aside for a few days until they are dried.

Once your flowers are completely dried, put the whole flowers into an airtight container for storage. You don’t want to crumble the flowers if you can help it; crumbling the dried flowers will release their flavor, so it’s best if you crumble them right before you use them, rather than right before you store them!

Most herbs will last about a year in storage as long as they are in an airtight container and don’t get wet.

Chamomile Tea Recipe

Chamomile tea has a light, refreshing flavor, especially if you make it with homegrown chamomile!

You need about 1 to 1.5 teaspoons of dried chamomile flowers per 8 oz cup of water, depending on how strong you want your tea. Chamomile is supposed to be a light flavor, so even though I normally like my tea quite strong, I err on the lesser side and use about 1 teaspoon per cup.

The secret to tea is, if you want your flavor stronger, use more dried flowers rather than leaving the flowers steeping for longer. Most herbal, green, and white teas will get bitter if you leave them steeping too long, so for a stronger flavor, add more dried tea but stick to the recommended brew time.

If you stored your flowers whole, feel free to crumble them slightly just before brewing them; it will help release more of the flavor stored in the flowers.

Measure the dried flowers into your tea strainer (or tea bag, or tea ball, or whatever!) Boil a full kettle of water. Once the water boils, pour the water into the teapot immediately. Green and white teas are delicate and the leaves will burn and become bitter if you steep them in water that’s too hot. When making green or white tea, it’s better to let the water cool for about a minute before adding it to the tea leaves. But herbal teas are quite hardy and can handle extremely hot water temperatures, so pour that boiling water in right away!

Let the tea steep for 5-7 minutes, then remove the flowers, pour the tea into a cup, and enjoy!

 

 

Lori Ovanessian
Is Food & Lifestyle affecting your Happiness?
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Is food and lifestyle affecting your happiness?

Food isn't the final answer but it’s the place to start! 

Sleep, Hydration, Diet, Exercise and healthy relationships makes for a much happier life!  

Unhappiness can occur when you have nutrient deficiencies. A few nutrients I personally like to make sure I’m in balance with are Magnesium, Vitamin D, Omega 3’s, Folate, probiotics (from fermented foods). You can get all of these in the foods you eat, when you make wise food choices… that is self care…

Self-care isn’t selfish, nor is it indulgent or frivolous. It’s actually a life-saver. You cant expect to keep running efficiently and feeling well if you never take the time to feed your body properly, recharge, relax, and reconnect with what matters. Self care isn’t always fancy or Instagram worthy. Sometimes it may be as simple as putting your phone on silent for the afternoon. 

Truly caring for your well being can be unpopular and sometimes uncomfortable. Saying no to invites or certain obligations, going to bed early, or taking some “me” time isn't always easy, but yes, its all worth it! 

Let’s talk a little about each of these nutrients and how they help and then lets cook something that fulfills all thats listed!!! This will be fun and yummy!

Magnesium - Magnesium is important for over all general health. Every physiological function involves magnesium in some capacity. One of its primary jobs is to guard the receptors in our nerve cells, but adequate magnesium levels also help prevent the type of low level, chronic inflammation that can lead to depression, anxiety, and other brain based disorders. The best sources of foods for magnesium are dark leery greens, nuts and seeds. 

Vitamin D - Vitamin D affects our mood and facilitates the conversion of tryptophan into serotonin. (serotonin is thought to be a contributor to the feeling of happiness). Although most of this we make from our UV exposure, we can fulfill a significant amount from food such as whole eggs and wild salmon. 

Omega 3’s - Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory! Yay!!! Comprised of three different acids—ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)—omega-3s are considered to be “essential” fatty acids as the body isn’t capable of producing them on its own; therefore, it’s necessary to consume enough omega-3s through diet. Foods rich in Omega 3 are, fish, walnuts, flaxseeds, egg yolks, spinach, kale. If you decide to supplement, be sure to take fish oil that contains both EPA and DHA. DHA only supplementation doesn't seem to help mental health. 

Folate - Folate is a B-vitamin that is naturally present in many foods.Our bodies need folate to make DNA and other genetic material. Folate is also needed for the body’s cells to divide. Without adequate folate, we have trouble producing neurotransmitters. That is crucial for basic mental health, so its a critical player in our happiness. The best way to get folate from foods is to eat liver (especially chicken liver), leafy greens (such as spinach and kale), eggs, and asparagus. 

Probiotics - Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, especially your digestive system. We usually think of these as germs that cause diseases. But your body is full of bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics are often called "good" or "helpful" bacteria because they help keep your gut healthy. Probiotics are good bacteria that primarily line your gut and are responsible for nutrient absorption and supporting your immune system. Probiotics are essential for your digestive health, but did you know there are hundreds of other health benefits of consuming probiotic-rich foods that you might not be aware of?    

•   Stronger immune system

•    Improved digestion

•    Increased energy from production of vitamin B12

•    Better breath because probiotics destroy candida

•    Healthier skin, since probiotics improve eczema and psoriasis

•    Reduced cold and flu

•    Healing from leaky gut and inflammatory bowel disease

•    Weight loss

You should eat a variety of types of probiotics as each one offers a different type of beneficial bacteria to help the body in a variety of ways.

Two examples are, Apple cider vinegar  Great for controlling blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes and even weight loss, apple cider vinegar is a great daily addition that will bring many benefits — including providing probiotics. Drink a 1/2 teaspoon or one teaspoon each day or use it as a salad dressing. Kombucha –  Is an effervescent fermentation of black tea that is started by using a SCOBY, also known as a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. Kombucha has been around for over 2,000 years, originating around Japan. Many claims have been made about kombucha, but its primary health benefits include digestive support, increased energy and liver detoxification.

Of course listen to your body, seek advice from your doctor and don’t count on one magic supplement to fix you. Instead, focus on food, then fill in the gaps with smart supplementation. Food isn't the final answer, but it’s a place to start…

 

So lets incorporate what we know and get cooking!!!

Salmon, Sweet Potato and Avocado Baby Kale Salad

 

Salad:

2 medium sized sweet potatoes (peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks. 

1tbsp olive oil

Celtic Grey Sea Salt and Pepper to taste

1 lb wild caught Salmon

1 bag baby kale

1 medium sized granny smith apple cored and sliced

1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions 

1 medium avocado pitted and sliced

 

Dressing:

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar 

1 Tbsp Fresh lemon juice

1 Tbsp raw honey

2 tsp Dijon Mustard

 

Preheat oven to 400 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the sweet potatoes on one and the salmon on the other. Drizzle the potatoes with olive oil and salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Season the salmon with salt and pepper to desired taste. 

 

Place the pan of sweet potatoes in the oven and roast for 15 minutes. Add the Salmon in the oven and roast both pans until the salmon flakes easily when tested with a fork and sweet potatoes are tender. Approximately 15 minutes. Set aside and let cool to room temperature. 

 

In a large bowl combine the Kale, Scallions and Apples. 

 

Flake the salmon with a fork and add the salmon and potatoes to the Kale mixture and toss gently until combined. 

 

In a small bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients and pour over salad and toss gently. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add diced avocado and serve. 

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Little Sis has a baby bump....

So I can't believe my little sister is finally having a baby! The sister that swore she would never have kids, is pregnant!!! Eeeek! The whole family is over the moon about it. It's such an exciting time. What is better than the anticipation of a new family member... but let me back up a bit.

So, I feel like so much has happened in the last 2 years. My sister got married to her now wonderful and talented husband Nate Jester on 9/5/2015. Angie had an amazing wedding (one I will never forget). We had so much fun dress shopping and planning out her big day. They were married in San Diego, (where Angie is from), but shortly after she moved to Seattle Washington to be with her hubby and her new step son, Brecken.

A few months later they bought a house. I think back to that event, it was such a fun time visiting Seattle for the first time and seeing her very first place! Of course helping decorate (did I mention I love couch shopping) didn't hurt either.  There was an extra room and we all wondered if there would be an addition some day. Hee, Hee.... Then came the phone call last summer, guess what we are pregnant!!!.

So as the big sister I get to help with the fun stuff, like decorating the baby's room. Picking out cute outfits and holding him until he cry's, then I get to hand him back... I get to be the fun auntie who gets to spoil him. Can't wait, and wait I did not... So this past week I got to go visit Seattle again and see the whole clan. I was excited because she finally has a bump big enough to photograph. Can I just say pregnancy looks soo good on her. She is carrying a little boy named Jett and right now he looks like a basketball. So proud of her, she has worked out so hard and eaten super clean. Did all of her due diligence on what was healthy for baby and what wasn't. Truth be told, I think she did better than I did. She has been so disciplined, lucky baby.... I think it is so great that there will be a younger brother for Brecken. He will be an amazing big brother. 

Well the visit was a blast. Seattle has great shopping and well you put two sisters together to shop and lets just say we had a blast... But the baby's room is done, mission accomplished. We are all ready for Mr. Jett to arrive.  Clothes are all washed and folded and crib is ready. Pictures are hung and the rocking chair and rugs are in. The room is blue and orange and has leather and gold accents and lots of cute baby animals... (I will share pictures of the room once baby Jett is in it.) 

For now I will share pictures of this cute family on the day this adventure began (her wedding day) and pictures of them and her bump now! Wow has life changed, but they are both still cute as a button. 

Love you little sis and I love your growing little family. I am such a proud big sis...(You may be taller, but I will always be older. hey, not sure that is a good thing, chuckles) 

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Scalp Rubs... I just love self care!
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Spring Hair Growth

 

Spring is coming….

I just love Spring in Bakersfield. It’s sunny, yet has a cool breeze. It reminds me of when I lived in San Diego with 70 degree temps year round…  I also love that spring brings new growth in the garden and my yard smells of roses, lavender, rosemary, thyme, mint and new blooms. Yay!

Did you know spring also brings new hair follicle’s? This peaked my interest since my bathroom floor seems to have more hair then my head since I turned forty something. Your hair hits its peak growth season in spring… (I always thought is was summer). So why not take full advantage of this season. 

To promote thicker, healthier hair, I am making a conscious effort to eat more protein, zinc, and  iron, all of which will help promote healthier hair growth. Spinach and kale salads with salmon will be hitting my plate twice a week. I am also trying this amazing homemade scalp rub recipe I found. It’s scalp stimulation and cell renewal properties should help with the constant shedding…. Plus I get to use fresh rosemary from my garden. 

Coconut Rosemary Scalp Rub

Lets all agree that a scalp massage feels like heaven. Knowing that rosemary is said to stimulate follicle growth, why not incorporate the two. 

This is a self-care routine with a built in stress buster. I love to do it at night before bed, as it helps relax me for sleep and allows the oil to soak in overnight before I wash it out the next morning. The Bakersfield sun and days at the barn have dried out my hair. I only do this once a week, but find it deeply relaxing and it has seemed to fulfill the love my scalp needed as the shedding has decreased

Ingredients:

1/2 cup raw virgin coconut oil

1/4 cup fresh rosemary leaves, washed and dried

Directions: 

In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over low heat. When its hot, add the rosemary. Use a wooden spoon to stir and and massage herbs against the bottom of pan. Keep on the heat for about 15-30 seconds and then remove from heat. Cover the pan and let sit for 2-4 hours to infuse. 

After this time, if the oil has hardened return it to low heat just until it melts. Remove and strain through a cheese cloth to separate and discard the rosemary springs. Pour the infused oil into an airtight container and let cool completely. It’s ok that it returns too at least a semi solid state. Store in your bathroom out of sunlight exposure. 

To use, scoop out about 1/2 teaspoon with your fingers and melt by rubbing in your fingertips. Apply directly to your scalp and using your fingertips to massage small circles over your entire skull. Begin at the base of your head and work your way to your forehead. You really don’t need that much so don’t overdue. I like to sleep with it on my scalp and was out the next morning. I use a towel on my pillow just to avoid any oil stains. (On occasion I might go overboard and use too much. It just smells soo good!) 

Simply wash and condition as usual after, or the next morning. Whatever you prefer. 

Happy relaxing… X

 

Vista Verde Ranch
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My favorite color is white... and well white snow is just so magical to me, especially in pictures, or viewing through a window while sitting by a nice warm fire.  I am not one who likes the cold, bring me to the beach any day...but, it's been on my bucket list to go sledding with dogs and photograph majestic horses in the snow. So when my friends told me Gigi Embrecht's would be at Vista Verde Ranch hosting a workshop, you better believe I was on board! 

At Vista Verde Ranch you are made to feel like family first and foremost. I am not even sure where to start. When I arrived in Hayden, Colorado an employee from the ranch was there to pick me up and drive me to Clark where the ranch is located. Clark is just a hop, skip and jump from Steamboat.  The cabins are wonderful, warm, have views of the horse pasture. Your beds are turned down nightly, your floors are heated, there are snacks and drinks stocked daily in your room. You are served 5 star meals three times a day and there are more fun activities to do than I could squeeze in on one trip. (Guess I will have to go back to and finish the list). The staff is always so happy, positive and so well informed about the ranch, you just can't help but feel elated every day of your stay. 

I went a day early so I could swing by Grizzly-T Dog Sled Works and finally check off dog sledding from my bucket. It was beyond what I had imagined. The dogs truly love the snow, the run and the job! They were breed for this for sure! There was lots of yelping and jumping and excitement, but as soon as you said go, it was dead silence and then you just took in the beauty of the snow all around you. 

Back on the ranch Karen Hutton and Gigi Embrechts were on site shooting for the ranch and working on their collaborated workshop for next year! What a team that will be. Talk about talent and learning to connect through art! If your on the fence about going, let me just push you off the fence and on to filingl out that registration for 2019! You will love it! 

Gigi I am so motivated by your work and your lifestyle and I thank you so much for all you shared and taught me. I will never forget the light painting and received my light pen in the mail this week! Cant wait to share. Karen, thank you for reminding me to truly connect and to allow myself to just enjoy the experience and know its just as important as the art created. 

Well friends, below are some of the shots from my trip. I am hoping they speak for themselves and tell the rest of the story. Enjoy!

Love is more precious than gold...

Don't laugh but I'm that girl you see rocking out in her car and doesn't realize anyone is watching. These days it has been Chris Stapleton's new song, Millionaire. I seriously can't listen to it enough. I agree with the lyrics deep in my soul... They say "Love is more precious than gold" Can't be bought and it can't be sold. I got love, enough to spare. That makes me a millionaire. 

I get pure joy out of loving others... for me life is about LOVE! Loving myself, loving others. Speaking of love, I am currently sketching out cookies for Valentines Day. My sweet friend Stacy from The Cookie Monger will be making them for me. I get a kick out of surprising people with sweet treats and of course flowers on Valentines Day! I love that she takes my sketches and makes them look like sugar masterpieces.  She is truly a talented artist when it comes to anything sweet. (I will share pics upon delivery, keep your eyes peeled come Valentines Day.) But for a fun treat even the kids can make try these little cuties at home. 

I found these super cute Organic Crab Apples the other day and suddenly got a craving for salted caramel apples... Yum. So a snagged a bag. I got them home and pulled out my jar of salted caramel sauce, grey celtic sea salt and some wooden skewers and dipped away. Super cute and easy. Have fun. (I cored out the seeds from the bottom so the skewer on top still held and they were easy to just pop in your mouth).