Wear Your Joy Altar

 

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This is an altar I created years ago. It’s a little wooden cabinet I painted and collaged but it’s been neglected and collecting dust for ages. The paint had faded and some of the artwork was no longer meaningful to me.  Now it’s been spruced up with fresh paint and new images.

I recently started a project, or more accurately a practice, called The Wear Your Joy Project by artist Kelly Rae Roberts (side note as of 3/28/16 Kelly Rae Roberts website is being redone, so the link will only take you to a placeholder until the site is live again).  It is a 30 day practice of getting dressed in joy. But it is so much more than just getting dressed.  It’s about being positive, dumping negative self-talk and old rules about dressing we’ve been told and learned or told ourselves.

Since we get dressed nearly every day of the year, that is a lot of opportunities to feel crummy before we’ve even left the house!

This project is helping me turn around the process and make it a joyful one. To be kind to myself and make getting dressed a positive part of starting my day. Starting the day on a good note helps to steer the day in a favorable direction.

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I’ve been a little low lately. I’m very busy at work and my craft desk has been a mess. At the end of the day my energy  just hasn’t been there for creativity. This project was appealing because I’ve had those negative gremlins in my head and they can really be insistent.

This project provides me with a daily blog post every day for 30 days, and tools which include a supportive private group on Facebook, guidance with cleaning my closet, suggestions and ideas for putting together my clothes in new ways, and plenty of journal prompts.  So I needed a journal dedicated to the project. Needless to say, I decorated the cover.

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And the inside.

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I haven’t stopped crafting or cooking completely. I just haven’t been doing as much as I’d like, and I miss blogging and connecting with you.  I keep writing blog posts in my head and wish there was a way I could quickly and easily share them with you. I’ll cook something, (like mini chocolate peanut butter pies to take to work for Pi Day, 3/14, after seeing this recipe, for example), but then I don’t have the energy to take photos and put together a post.

On Day 3 of The Wear Your Joy Project, the assignment is to create an altar. Although she suggests assembling a small altar, perhaps on top of your dresser, I already had this altar on my wall and remaking it as a Wear Your Joy altar was very appealing to me.

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From my bed I can see the altar. The images on the inside of the doors, a serene angel and a sculpture of a full-figured feminine form, are the originals, with some slight changes, like fresh paint and trim. Both felt like good images to keep for this practice.

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I added a picture of a pathway below the torso.  In fact, I included several paths in my altar as I think we’re all on some kind of journey.

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The outside of the doors show water images. I’m a water sign (Pisces) and I’ve included a little meandering brook on one side, foaming waves on the other.  On the inside, the view from a beach of sunset over surf.  A tiny abalone shell is one of the items inside the altar.

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The cherubim inside the top arch (made from a brie box) got some new embellishments – flecks of gold and turquoise mica.

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The little charms on a leather cord, too narrow for my wrist but perfect for this, are from a friend. Bird images, cut from cards and calendars, are also from friends.

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Inside the altar, I have included images of a strong oak tree, mountains, a rainbow, and more pathways – various pictures pulled from magazines that represent local places or things I love.

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Charms, shells, a chunk of crystal, a tiny turtle (slow and steady), a small mirror, a tin heart and a small feather are all little talismans to help me along in this process.  The LED candle is safe and convenient to use. A brief prayer of guidance is written on a card and other items and messages will be added or subtracted as I travel along the way.

I actually got started with cleaning out some of my baggage; clothes that don’t fit, that aren’t comfortable or flattering, ie: things that don’t spark joy, last fall when I read Maria Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  This, if you aren’t familiar with it, is worth a visit. I actually gave away, donated or tossed out 9 large bags of clothing including shoes and accessories.

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Getting it all out of the closet, the deep dresser drawers including the bottom one way in the back, the coat closet and the bin under the bed and going through it was very interesting. There was stuff I forgot I had, stuff I thought was long gone. Like, why was I keeping these dusty shoes that pinched my feet? A top made from pretty fabric with unflattering sleeves that looked great on a hanger but made me unhappy when I wore it.

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I didn’t think I had that much clothing but the reality was I didn’t have that much that I loved, that fit, that wasn’t stained, that was comfy. I had items that were gifts and items I liked but that didn’t fit – well, you know how it is. It felt really, really good to get rid of the discards and reorganize the rest.

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Now that I’ve sorted out the contents of my closet , I’ve started the work on all the other places I keep stuff – getting rid of old messages and discarding worn out rules.  I finally have a full size mirror so I can really see what I’m wearing and I write notes to myself on it. I try and remember to smile encouragingly when I see myself in it.

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I’m layering on multiple necklaces.

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And when I got my hair trimmed, I had some beautiful color added to it.

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So I’m wearing my joy all the time. It’s about more than getting dressed.

Thanks for visiting. It’s good to be writing again. I hope it isn’t as long before I get another post up to share.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hearts in a Tree

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I made these hearts for Valentine’s Day and hung them up in the tree in front our apartment to surprise Rem.

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The tree already looked pretty even before I added the hearts, covered in blossoms. It snows down white petals if you give a branch a little shake.

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People driving by smiled and some waved or gave me a thumbs-up.

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Rem thought I was out taking a walk in the neighborhood.

He was amazed when he saw all the hearts.

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Here’s some of my favorite hearts:

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Next January I’ll put up a post on how to make these hearts.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Sweet Little Valentine’s

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Although I didn’t need any new supplies for making my Valentine card this year, I couldn’t resist embellishments.

I’d already decided on a color scheme of pink and turquoise, with brown paper (reused from grocery bags). I think the brown balances out the other two colors and keeps them from being too sticky-sweet. Browsing in Once Around in Mill Valley after Craft Gym I picked up a few rolls of washi tape: gold arrows on pink background, white X’s on turquoise background, and the little skinny white tape with tiny gold printed love and gold hearts.

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I also got these Fancy Frills border stickers by Doodlebug Design.

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My inspiration for the design were these Downton Abbey Vintage Valentine’s on Doodlecraft, which I saw on Pinterest. Natalie Shaw of Doodlecraft used little brown cards embellished with lace and trim where I used strips of paper and washi tape, but with a similar result.

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Since I was using small leftover cards in cream and chocolate brown, and I also had a few sizes of small envelopes, I cut up brown paper grocery bags for the card fronts. It isn’t really sturdy enough for the card itself, but it worked as a layer.

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I used gold foil saved from inside of chocolate wrappers to make little hearts using a heart punch.

The other tip I picked up from Doodlecraft is the great graphics at The Graphics Fairy. This fabulous site has over 5,000 free vintage images and is a great resource. I chose the images I used on my cards and shrank them down to about 1.5 x 2.5 inches, or slightly larger, before printing.

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I used a glue stick to adhere the pages of printed images to card stock, cut them out with a paper trimmer and embellished each little picture with a date stamp, buttons, felt flowers, foil hearts, ink borders, sparkly little dot stickers, washi tape, etc. These are the centerpiece of each card and I stuck them to the card fronts with Zots glue dots.

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For some of the time spent on this project, I’ve been alone at my craft desk, or with the company of Kitty McNiblet who lives across the patio in our apartment building, but visits often. Here she is relaxing in the position I call “kitty loaf.”

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Last weekend I spent a lovely day making Valentine’s, eating a delicious lunch and talking and laughing with friends from grade school. We call our creative gatherings Craft & Flash.

My sister, Kathleen, joined us and brought her young dachshund, Stella. The hostess, Clare, also has a dog, Trip, who was SO nice with Stella, even when she took his chew toy!

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I stamped the inside of the cards with this stamp from Oh, Hello Friend, which I also picked up at Once Around. A few years ago I purchased some printed masking tape from this site and the order came with a tag with the same phrase, which has been on my bulletin board ever since.

YOU ARE

AWESOME

loved

wonderful

BEAUTIFUL

& ADORED

The back of the cards are stamped, signed and dated.

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I will give some of my Valentine’s away in person and some are being mailed, so the small envelopes are tucked into larger ones, big enough for mailing. After breakfast out with a friend yesterday, we stepped into PS Paper in San Anselmo and I came home with this Bird with Love Note stamp from Savvy Stamps.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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Pleated Paper Heart Garland

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I love a simple project that takes little in the way of both supplies and skill. These pleated paper hearts are easy to make and the results are really pretty. I learned how at Once Around in Mill Valley at the wonderful Tuesday evening free Craft Gym and their inspiration was here.  Although that post is in Swedish, she has great photos that show the whole project and it is to follow.

The hearts remind me of shells with their fan-like folds. They work best with lightweight paper (text weight) though I’ve seen them made from heavier card stock too.  You can make them any size and they look great made kind of short and plump, like these, or longer and more narrow.

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I used brown kraft paper, old sheet music and some lightweight scrapbooking paper in pale green and coral pink prints. For the two heart samples I’m using to show the technique, the smaller piece of paper is 3.5 inches by 7 inches and the larger one is 6 inches by 12 inches.

You want a curved end on each short side of the page. Either trace a large circular item, such as a bowl or plate to get a curved line on each end of your paper, or free-hand trim the paper.

Cut along the curved line. I folded my paper in half to make the cutting a little simpler.

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When I cut this out, I actually cut the curve a little deeper on the sides, to better form the heart shape.

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Now unfold the paper and from one long side, fold it accordion style, with folds between 1/4 and 1/2 inch wide.

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I opened it out a bit for the photo.  If you have a bone folder, it is helpful for making crisp, sharp folds.

Fold the pleated paper in half to form a heart. Carefully glue the two halves together. I like to use Tombow mono adhesive, but a good glue stick will work as well. Just pinch it together and hold it for a bit and don’t pull on the pleats until the glue has dried.

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The finished heart is about 3.75 inches wide by 3.25 inches tall.

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The larger heart is about 5.5 wide by 5.25 tall.

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To thread baker’s twine or string to hang the pleated hearts, use a big needle or a small hole punch, and sting them along the twine.

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When I looked at the Swedish blog I saw she hung her garland from higher on the lobes of the heart – either way will work.

Here’s the finished garland.

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Here you can also see the Heart Strings that I keep up all the time.  I put up two other garlands: Needle Felted Hearts, and Punched Paper Heart Garland.

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More Heart Strings are in the corner by the windows.  On the front door is another Craft Gym creation: my Coat Hanger Heart.

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The apartment is decorated for Valentine’s Day. I’ll show  you some Valentine’s in my next post. You can use the search bar for other Valentine projects  – put in “Valentine” and “card” and you will pull up more than a dozen posts.

Thank you for the visit.

 

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Past Projects: Cards and Little Foil Tape Houses

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Just after Christmas, Rem and I went up to Sea Ranch with my mom. Although I planned a marathon of crafting and bought a bunch of supplies, the actual crafting that took place was more modest in scope. Sitting and gazing out the window interrupted by the occasional nap seemed to be the best use of my time.

I did manage to create a batch of cards, making sets of similar cards with variations in the paper and stamps.

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I make cards for my mom that she can use whenever the occasion calls for it. I try to give her some cards that will work for guys – with a color scheme or designs that aren’t too frilly or feminine.

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Several of the cards had illustrations from a vintage style alphabet poster, printed on scrapbook paper. The picture below was for “W – wave.”

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This “Wish” card is one of my favorites.

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I made these cards before the end of last year and it has taken me a month to post them! Since I’m catching up, here’s another project from last year.

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These little houses were primarily made as Christmas ornaments, but with a pin-back glued on the back, they were also very cute on a lapel. Made from thin cardboard recycled from cereal and cookie boxes, they’re covered with aluminum foil duct tape and copper tape (used to repel snails in the garden) – two great craft supplies from the hardware store.

These ones were made at a holiday party on the campus where I work, that included a few craft tables. I brought the supplies and gave a hand if needed.  A little something layered under the foil tape, or covered with the copper tape and glued to the front of the houses adds interest.  I also like to press tape over corrugated cardboard for the roof.  The tip of your finger is a great tool to start, but for getting all the details, I used a bone folder.

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You can find directions here at Mich L. in L.A.

They are also quite similar to these projects: Pumpkins, Charms, and Leaves.

Thank you for your visit.

 

 

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Five Years of Blogging

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Yesterday marked my 5-year blogging anniversary. Five years! I also recently posted my 500th blog post. In that time, I’ve shared much more than I anticipated when I first started out. I thought it would be primarily crafts with a few recipes. In reality, it has also been about life, with all the heartbreaks and blessings.

I decided to scroll back through my blogs and pick out some favorites. It was the perfect activity to indulge in on a rainy day, nursing a cold.

It wasn’t easy choosing my best-loved posts. On another day I might come up with a different list. But I jotted down ones that were dear to me for one reason or another and then went back and selected these.

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I’ll start with these Heart Strings. I made them in 2012 and we still have them in our apartment. They’re an easy project and timely as well with Valentine’s Day a little less than a month away.

Chocolate is a winner for me, and so is Chocolate Nutella Fudge and Truffles.

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Art journaling is one of my favorite creative endeavors. I could have picked any one of my Art Journal posts, but I think this one, Art Journal: Home, is the one that deserves a spot here. It includes this quote by artist Darlene Maciuba-Koppel which is so true for me.

Art Journaling is a gift I give to myself.  After a few pleasurable hours of choosing images, painting, cutting scraps of paper, and pasting, I feel a sense of calm envelope me.

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Looking at the different crafts I chose, I’m putting these Little Clothespin Dolls next. I’m imagining that they could live in these little houses.

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A certain pasta recipe has made it’s way into two posts and been mentioned in at least a third. You really should make this pasta! It’s easy to put together and it is delicious.

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Some things don’t go as swimmingly as this pasta recipe; see the photo at the top of the post. I attempted to make chocolate bowls by painting melted chocolate on small balloons. Big, messy fail! I think we’re still finding splatters of chocolate on improbably far reaches of the kitchen ceiling.

Other times the rug is pulled out from under you in unexpected ways and you learn to exist in the new reality: Sometimes Life Just Piles Up.

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Sometimes, it’s just the desk piling up.

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Something I come back to in my posts is taking care of myself; to be gentle with myself and with others. With that in mind, I think I will make a new batch of Take What You Need flyers and post them on campus for the start of the new semester.

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Sometimes what I need is a treat. And though I adore chocolate, a savory snack is often just the thing. Here are two: I’ve made these Cheese Wafers for a family holiday potluck and there was some disappointment this year when I brought something else.

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The other, Corn Dog Mini Muffins, are perhaps more lowbrow, but so good, especially with mustard, when you want a big ol’ deep fried corn dog and they’re a healthier choice too.

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So, there you have it: my favorite posts.

What I love most of all is sharing all of it with you. Having a blog means I am putting ideas and projects out there and readers all over the world are seeing them. That is amazing and wonderful.

Thank you for being on this adventure with me. Let’s see what 2016 brings.

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Really Good Granola

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Happy New Year! Thanks for reading this, even though I don’t post as often as I’d like.

I had the idea of making granola as a Christmas gift for some friends and family.  I wanted something that would be a bit of a treat, but not quite the guilty pleasure of  cracker toffee. I read a few recipes and set out to make a toasty granola that would have lots of clusters, be a little but not too sweet and have plenty of nuts.

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My Smitten Kitchen Cookbook has a recipe for Big Cluster Maple Granola that seemed like a good place to start. I was also inspired by Nigella Lawson and the olive oil granola she made on Simply Nigella with lots of seeds and nuts.

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I fiddled around and made two batches, each slightly different than the other. I didn’t achieve the big clusters I was seeking, but I also didn’t follow Smitten Kitchen’s Deb Perelman’s recipe to the letter. I was kind of disappointed, but with the holiday hustle and bustle I just shrugged it off and went on to the next project. I didn’t have the time or energy to fiddle around with granola. I didn’t give away as much as I’d originally planned, but that was ok too.

In fact, I tossed the notes and didn’t have any photos of the granola. I wouldn’t be sharing it here now except my friend, Lisa, wrote to say it was some of the best granola she’d ever had! In my focusing on the lack of clusters, I hadn’t been paying as much attention to the flavor. She was right, it was really good granola. And, good news, I still had ingredients enough for another batch.

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This recipe uses golden syrup: I’ve seen this ingredient mentioned in some British recipes but I’d never tried it. Than I happened to notice a bottle at Cost Plus World Market and decided to give it a try. It is an amber syrup that is made in the process of refining cane or sugar beets into sugar. It has a delicious sweet flavor that reminds me of toasted marshmallows and is worth seeking out. I’ve already gone back to purchase more.  However, you can use maple syrup or honey instead.

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Really Good Granola

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

3 cup rolled oats

1 cup nuts or combination nuts and seeds – I used whole and sliced almonds, pecans and pumpkin seeds for this batch. Walnuts and sunflower seeds would also be good choices.

1/2 to 1 cup unsweetened flaked or shredded coconut

1/4 cup chia and/or flax seeds – Trader Joe’s sells Ancient Grains Seed Mixture that has both of those as well as millet, buckwheat, hemp, quinoa and amaranth. I used this mixture.  In the Smitten Kitchen recipe, she uses 1/4 cup of wheat germ here, so feel free to use that in place of the seeds. Maybe you will reach granola cluster nirvana if you do.

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/2 cup golden syrup – maple syrup or honey would also work, each adding a different flavor and level of sweetness. If you like it sweeter, go to 2/3 cup.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract

1 large egg white

1 1/2 cup dried fruit such as cherries, cranberries, golden raisins, or goji berries

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Instructions: Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Combine the oats, nuts, coconut, seeds, salt, olive oil, vanilla and golden syrup and toss together. Beat the egg white until foamy and combine with the mixture until coated.

Spread on a parchment covered rimmed baking sheet, and bake for about 50 minutes. Turn with a spatula about halfway through the baking for more even browning.

Granola will be moist while warm, but will become more crisp as it cools.

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When cool, add dried fruit.

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This is a delicious snack alone or I like it with coconut Greek yogurt. It is also a great bowl of cereal for breakfast.

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Thanks for the visit.

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