Motherhood, mothers day, Uncategorized

Mamas and strawberry lemonade

My mom is genuinely my best friend. My husband jokes about the amount of time I spend with her…but I explained to him how she’s not like “most moms”. How she will stand with me in the pit at a concert drinking wine and dancing or go totally natural with our similar wavy hair or the way she chases adventure and gets me to teach her how to ride horses. I explained to him how she was just nice to be around, a kindred spirit now that I’m older and out of the house. We’re just enough different and just enough similar.

I’m an old soul and my mom and I share a love for antiques and nature. So we both enjoy reading the old timey magazine called Victoria magazine. I saw where I could send in a letter for Mother’s Day explaining what I loved about my mom. I saw this at 8 am and not even 20 minutes later I had written something to send in before work. It was so easy to write and recall all the ways she was a good mother. It got published in the magazine for the May/June issue along with many other women writing about their great mother’s. It was cool to see my mom’s attributes displayed in a magazine we both loved alongside so many other amazing tributes to women’s mother’s. It made me realize how powerful womanhood and motherhood is.

I thought I’d go ahead and share with you what I wrote in honor of Mother’s Day and in remembrance of all the amazing mothers out there who work so hard to cultivate lives full of joy and peace:

“As a child, I would always tiptoe down the stairs in the morning-greeted by the aroma of fresh coffee-to find my mother wrapped in one of her pink or floral robes. Before doing anything else, I would crawl onto her lap and rest my head on her chest. Planting a kiss on my forehead, she would ask me how I slept. She always smelled like peonies, and I think this was because she adored them. I believe that what you love, you in some way become.

Today, newly married, I have a painting hanging in my house of a woman with auburn hair smelling roses. Her eyes are closed, and her head is lifted, as if she is inhaling the best perfume in the world. This portrait reminds me of my mom because it captures her approach to motherhood: soaking it up for all it’s worth and savouring it completely. She cooked heavenly food, cultivated an inviting and orderly home, and loved us with grace and kindness. As I grow older, I realize what a job that was and how she took it on as her purpose.

She raised five women, all of whom have grown and are thriving but still dearly love their mom as a friend and confidant. I notice qualities my sisters inherited from our mother in the way Claire cooks, how Mary loves coffee and can brew the perfect pot, the way Lauren nurtured so tenderly, and how Cate loves to keep things homey and clean. And me? I love flowers. I pray everyday that when I have children, they will see things in me that make them feel safe and warm inside, just like we all feel with mom. But more than anything, I hope I will smell like flowers.”

Here’s a recipe to treat your special mom with a refreshing drink you can make on Mother’s Day. It’s a delicious strawberry lemonade that she will love.

Simply smash in a sieve 4 or 5 fresh, ripe strawberries or frozen, thawed, into a two cup measuring cup. Squeeze two lemons into the cup. Add three teaspoons of sugar or stevia ( I use Pyure) to taste. Fill with water and stir vigorously. Taste and adjust sugar and lemon to suit your taste. Pour into glasses, add ice and garnish with lemon slice and mint.

Serve immediately to your mom!

Family Life, Motherhood, soup, wintertime, Uncategorized

Instant Pot Harvest Italian Soup


In the fall and winter when I ask my family for ideas for dinner I usually get back, how about soup? Nothing is as cozy as a steaming bowl of soup at the table on a cold winter night but I don’t always have time. Soup in my opinion takes a little effort. When all the ingredients are sautéed before liquid is added and when it has time to slowly simmer, I find that brings out the best flavor.

I used to make a lot of soup in the crock pot but I would often get this strange metallic taste. Sometimes the taste wasn’t there if the onions, veggies and garlic were cooked well before being added to the liquid but who has time for that when you’ve just thought of throwing something together before going off to work in the morning?

And at night when I’m trying to navigate homework, baths, babies crawling under my feet and trying to get into the cat food dish, I don’t have time to deal with fry pans and simmering something for an hour.

So my Instant Pot has been so wonderful for this busy working mom. Only one pot to clean and while I still add each ingredient to the sauté feature it only cooks for about 30 minutes. But it tastes like it’s been simmering for hours.


This is my husband’s favorite. It’s like Italian wedding soup without pasta and the variations are endless. As long as you have a base of mild (or hot if you live on the edge) Italian sausage, white beans, rosemary, onions and garlic with tomato and greens, you can add from there. I like peppers and mushrooms. Sometimes kale sometimes spinach. Red wine or maybe a splash of really good balsamic vinegar. It tastes different each time I make it.

I’m not a big recipe follower and I hope if you make this and if you like it, you’ll do it again a different way, adding what you think might taste good. That’s the fun of cooking.

Of course if you don’t have an instant pot this can be made on the stove or the crock pot. You’ll still sauté everything but simmer on the stove for about one hour. In the crock pot it can cook for 4-6 hours on low. I don’t recommend cooking it on high as rapid boiling will break down the beans and greens too much. 
Here goes.


Harvest Italian Soup


  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/2 pound ground Italian sausage (I like the sweet variety)
  • 4-5 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 -14 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 cups shredded kale or spinach
  • 1- 14 ounce can white beans, drained
  • 3-4 drops hot sauce (optional)
  • Fresh grated parmesan cheese (optional)


Pre-heat Instant Pot on the Sauté setting. When it says Hot, add olive oil and diced onion, with a light dusting of salt. Sauté until starting to sweat or becoming translucent. Add celery and green pepper and sauté for about 5 minutes. At this point you can walk away to pretend like you know enough about math to help your daughter with her homework.

Add mushrooms and sauté until they start to lose a little water. Add garlic and rosemary and stir just until you can smell the garlic. Don’t let it get any color. Don’t leave the area.

Add sausage to the vegetables and another light dusting of salt and brown the meat. When nicely browned, pour in the red wine and deglaze pan. Be sure to scrape any of the browned meat off the bottom of the Instant Pot so it doesn’t burn during cooking. This can take about a minute.

Add chicken broth, tomato sauce, tomato paste, white beans, kale and a generous amount of pepper. Add more chicken broth if the soup needs to be thinned out. Stir well. Set Instant Pot to high pressure and set timer for 25 minutes. You can now give the baby a bath and wrangle him into his PJ’s. When done, let the steam out and stir in hot sauce (optional).

Season soup to taste with salt and pepper if needed. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with fresh parmesan cheese and serve. Can serve with crusty bread. Also great the next day.



Family Life, Seasonal, Thanksgiving

11 Topics for your Thanksgiving Meal

Thanksgiving meals can be both fun, joyeous and somewhat predictable. We all come prepared to answer the lovable questions of “what are you up to now? How is school? What are your plans?” These questions are sweet and asked out of politeness and curiosity and while some of us may jump at the opportunity to talk about our plans, some of us may not feel as enthusiastic about providing boring answers. I love family and the wonderful occasion of gathering together and catching up on life. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. We are reminded of what life is all about. What really matters. We get to eat and eat and eat wonderful delicious homemade food! And while Thanksgiving may look different for everybody, I think we all long for that sense of community and fellowship.

We’ve put together some table topics for you to enjoy using at your own Thanksgiving gathering this year. Table topics can be a fun way to encourage everyone to share and to share about things that everyone can be interested in. They help us to remember why we celebrate Thanksgiving. Simply copy and paste these on note cards that you can tuck under everyone’s plate at the table. When everyone has eaten enough to start carrying on conversation, interrupt to explain you’ve hidden a card under each plate and you’d like each person to take a turn answering the question. Then allow everyone else to briefly chime in and share their own answer to your question.

1. What has happened to you this year that makes you thankful?

2. What makes Thanksgiving special to you?

3. If you had to eat one Thanksgiving dish for the rest of your life, what would it be?

4. What is your favorite Thanksgiving memory?

5. What’s the most unusual food you’ve eaten on Thanksgiving?

6. Name any movie where they celebrate Thanksgiving.

7. Describe your perfect Thanksgiving.

8. Who are you most thankful for? Who has had the greatest impact on your life?

9. What is your favorite Thanksgiving tradition? And why?

10. What hard thing that has happened to you this year, that you have learned and grown from , are you thankful for?

11. What are some of God’s promises that make you thankful?

Happy Thanksgiving from Iris+Hart, in particular Cate, Nancy and Lauren. We hope each of you have a fun and memorable time with family and friends. We are thankful for each of you.

Enjoy your conversations with each other and let’s us know how it went. We love hearing from each of you.

**Possible answers for number 6: The Blind Side, Home for the Holidays, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving etc.

In the Kitchen: Recipes and More, Uncategorized

Healthy Homemade Nutella

If someone told me they did not like Nutella, I would just stare at them in absolute wonder. How could one not?? It is heaven on a spoon! Nutella was the reason I wanted pancakes, toast, crepes, waffles and ice cream. It was amazing on anything sweet. Then when I wanted to detox from sugar I went a whole year without eating any. It was just one of those things that I knew if I kept in my pantry I would always be wanting to find ways to have some and I would just rather not put myself through that torture.

Recently I realized my food processor was capable of making nut butters. It’s actually a lot more economical for me to make my own almond butter sugar free than to buy it sugar free. Obviously my love for Nutella was strong enough for me to remember after all of this time how wonderful it would be to have my own sugar free version as well. That is when I began the process of making my own!

This recipe yielded me a pint size jar full of thick, creamy smooth, luscious, sweet and rich nutella. I am still always looking for an excuse to add it to my snacks but now I can without the guilt! This recipe will not cause you to have any insulin or sugar spikes and it is even dairy free.  I could not believe how amaaaaazing it was and it gave me all of the wonderful feels that the classic Nutella brand gave me! It is a dark chocolate spread and very rich so a little bit goes a long way 🙂

You can enjoy adding this spread into your shakes, ice cream, yogurt, of course on toast, waffles, pancakes and even layer it in cakes!

Healthy Homemade Nutella


  • 3 cups raw or roasted unsalted hazelnuts
  • 3 TBSP cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • Stevia or honey or maple syrup to taste.


  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Roast raw hazelnuts for 12-15 min or pre-roasted hazelnuts for 8-10 min then let cool slighty

  1. Loosen off any skins by shaking around in a bowl or with a towel on the tray
  2. Transfer nuts to food processor and let blend until smooth and liquidy (anywhere from 3-10 min depending on food processor)

  1. Add cocoa, salt, vanilla and sweetener to taste (If using honey or maple syrup add it very slowly because there is a small water content there it can cause the nutella to clump if too much is added. I recommend a ratio of stevia and maple syrup or honey.

  1. Store in glass jar and can let sit at room temperature for 2-3 weeks or more. For thicker spread store in fridge.


Nutrition Per Serving (1 of 20 Tbsp)
  • Calories: 152
  • Fat: 10g
  • Saturated fat: 2g
  • Sodium: 58mg
  • Carbohydrates: 5.6g
  • Fiber: 2.6g
  • Sugar: 1g
  • Protein: 3.5g
  • Calcium: 25%
  • Iron: 2%

essential oils, In the Kitchen: Recipes and More, Superfoods, Uncategorized

Skin Healing Strawberry Starburst Smoothie

There is something that we at Iris+Hart do every day. Yes, we brush our teeth and make our bed, at least I do, do you Cate? We do lots of the same things every day, but this is something we choose to do each day. We choose to make healthy choices when we eat and/or cook. It’s just something we do because we feel better when we do and we know that we are worth that. And it doesn’t mean we have a special diet we follow, although we are partial to THM. But we love to eat homemade food. Id rather eat something I have cooked than go out to eat. I know what is in my food and I also by quality ingredients. I choose to put my money towards our grocery bill, for health and for taste and for enjoyment. Yes, we both love to cook, its fun for us.

Now I know a lot of people don’t like to cook or have a lot of time to cook. We overheard a conversation between two women at church one day, while waiting for the service to start. One woman was talking about her kitchen renovation and how she loved her new stove. The other lady said,” How nice, now you will enjoy cooking on it”. “No way,” said the first woman,” I just store my kitchen towels in there”. No kidding! So obviously some people just don’t like to be in the kitchen other than for simple tasks or to admire the beauty of it! But eating healthy doesn’t require a lot of time or culinary school knowledge. A simple salad of organic lettuces, vegetables and perhaps a piece of grilled chicken on top. (maybe you have someone in your family who will grill) and voila…. you have a meal better than Chik fil a! Our goal is to give you some of our favorite and simple recipes over the next few weeks.

Here is one that we like to have in between meals or after a workout. Cate created this, so here she is to tell you about it…

“This is a simple smoothie but it’s not just any smoothie. This smoothie is both tangy, sweet, energizing and tastes just like one of my favorite candies. In my humble opinion it tastes even better than smoothie king but without the yucky syrup! It is a great choice for a protein packed, energizing and nourishing snack but the BEST part about this smoothie? It nourishes your skin from the inside out. Yes-it’s a health and beauty drink.



First-I named this smoothie Strawberry Starburst because it tastes exactly like a strawberry starburst candy. I couldn’t believe it!! It might be the best smoothie I’ve ever had and I just stumbled upon it while experimenting. I so encourage you to give this one a try! Especially because it is loaded with vitamin C. The vitamin C in this smoothie is key to its tangy yet sweet flavor.

Vitamin C is essential to our wellbeing. Most mammals produce their own vitamin C however we are one of those that require it through our diet.

Adding as much whole food C to our diets as we can is one of the BEST things we can do for our health. Even better, we can supplement with more potent forms of vitamin C like Ascorbic Acid. In this powdered form, it is vitamin C that occurs naturally in nature but just very concentrated. If taken to bowel tolerance it will donate electrons to free radicals throughout the body and help heal all kinds of illnesses, repairing the body at a cellular level. Not only will it take care of the oxidative stress throughout your body, it will be the BEST thing for your complexion.

You may notice the whites of your eyes are brighter, your skin is tighter and brighter as well. It heals on all levels. Vitamin C is essential for the synthesis and maintenance of collagen, the most abundant protein in the human body.

These are some of the benefits for your skin that I’ve experienced from higher dosing vitamin C!

  • Helps protect the skin by promoting the production and migration of fibroblasts that support normal wound healing.
  • Protects against skin wrinkles seen in premature aging.
  • Increased vitamin C uptake by vascular smooth muscle cells increases the synthesis and maturation of Type I (aka Type 1) collagen.  Type I collagen accounts for about 90% of the body’s total collagen content.
  • High concentrations of vitamin C stimulate synthesis of Type IV collagen, which has important filtration characteristics in the kidney, the blood-brain barrier, and the arterial lining .

So, I definitely recommend upping your intake of vitamin C and not just in whole food form! Whole food form is a wonderful way to get the benefits of vitamin C but it’s not enough to repair on a cellular level. You need something like AA to accomplish that! Or eat 200 oranges at once! Here is a link to the brand that comes recommended by doctors and that my family and I have been using with great results! (Click image)”

Skin Healing Strawberry Starburst Smoothie

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk 39777279_225806624782138_5965305984657129472_n
  • Handful frozen strawberries
  • Few ice cubes
  • 1/2 tsp of glucomannan powder (optional, but it’s rich in fiber and makes this smoothie ultra thick and luscious.
  • 2 tsp baobab powder (PACKED with vitamin C and TONS of antioxidants)
  • 1 1/4 tsp Ascorbic Acid (vitamin C)
  • 3-4 pinches of 100% stevia powder (or 3 tsp of Super Sweet).
  • 2 TBSP Collagen Peptides
  • 1 drop grapefruit essential oil (or your favorite citrus oil of choice or citrus extract of choice)
  1. Add all ingredients to your blender and blend really well until smooth, pour and enjoy!