Welcome to Our Haven

Welcome to Haven Help Us!

I am so excited to introduce Haven Help Us, our very own Appleton Alliance Women’s website! We know how living in this crazy world can drop us off at our doorstep battered, bruised and breathless. We all need a respite, or a haven where we can be refreshed, regroup, and inspired.   

At Haven Help Us we have found a True Shelter in our faith in Jesus Christ.  Psalm 91:1-2 are our theme verses, and we want all of you to be able to experience this Safe Haven, and bring it into every area of your home and life, including the everyday routines and the unexpected interruptions.

psalm 911-2

A big part of what we want to do is introduce you to the “havenistas” in our community of faith here at Appleton Alliance Church. We are women who are not perfect, but are on the journey to living out our faith. On a daily basis, in our messy homes and hectic jobs, we seek what it means to live with the knowledge of a “haven” to sustain us along the way.  

It is our hope that sharing our stories can help us form a picture of what this “haven” can look like for us.  It is also another important way we as women at Appleton Alliance Church can connect with other women in our congregation whom we might not otherwise know. All of us need to be encouraged and supported in our faith journey.

We will be sharing a wide spectrum of ideas from fun activities, photos, music, creative homemaking ideas, parenting and marriage insights, fun things to make you smile and inspiring stories to make you cry.  All of it will be categorized under the topics of  Faith, Family, Favorites, Fitness and Featured  that seek to strengthen your connections not only to your family and friends but also to the God who loves you.  

Because we want you to get to know us here at Appleton Alliance Church, let’s start off by introducing you to the women who are working behind the scenes on staff and in volunteer roles to bring you regular posts here at Haven Help Us. Please click here to meet our Women’s Ministry staff members and blog contributors.

I hope you will find this website to be a place of refuge, fellowship, and encouragement. To stay up-to-date on our posts and other news from AAC Women’s Ministry, please follow us on Facebook and Pinterest, and subscribe by e-mail to receive every post in your inbox.

Thank you for joining us on the faith-filled adventure. Blessings from our homes to yours!

In Christ,

Judy Episcopo




Made To Crave

Have you defined yourself by the numbers on your bathroom scale long enough? Have you been on every diet your friends, family and the Internet have to offer? Have you given up more times than you can count and don’t know what to do next?

made to crave

Then come along for Made To Crave by Lysa TerKeurst to learn what the Bible has to say about diet, fitness and your deeper need. Settle the question of Who you are to God! This is a Bible study that will gently and firmly answer all those questions women struggle with weight and self image. Meet other women who are willing to walk with you on this journey to “satisfy your deepest desire with God, not food.”

To register or find out more information about this study being offered on Wednesday mornings at Appleton Alliance Church, click here.

Favorite Summer Side Dishes

 Summer may be coming to an end, but it’s not over yet! Have a look at a few of our favorite summer sides, and get to know some of our AAC women staff and volunteers. 

Zucchini Pie
A delicious side dish that can double as a main dish.
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  1. 4c Zucchini, sliced thin
  2. 1c Onion
  3. 2T Parsley Flakes
  4. 1t Garlic Salt
  5. 1t Basil
  6. 1/2 Tsp Salt
  7. 1/4 Tsp Pepper
  8. 1 Egg
  9. 2c shredded mozzarella
  10. 1 package refrigerated crescent roll dough
  11. Yellow Mustard
  1. Saute zucchini and onion until softened. Add parsley flakes, garlic salt, basil, salt, and pepper. Remove from heat. In a separate bowl, beat one egg and add 2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese. Stir into the zucchini and set aside. Press one refrigerator crescent roll dough flat in the bottom of a 9x13 pan, spread with yellow mustard. Spoon Zucchini mixture onto the dough and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cover with foil in the last 10 minutes if necessary to prevent excess browning.
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barb m pic

Find out more about Barb!

Cilantro Lime Rice
It’s a very simple side that is versatile, really refreshing and great for summer.
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  1. 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  2. 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  3. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  4. 1 garlic clove
  5. 2T Water
  6. 1C Rice prepared according to package
  1. In a blender or mini food processor, combine cilantro, lime juice, oil, garlic, and 2 tablespoons water (I’ve been known to forget the water – optional in my opinion); blend until smooth. Cook rice according to directions and add to lime juice-cilantro mixture.
  1. Make up a large batch of the cilantro-lime mixture, freeze it in mini ice cube trays, and store it in an airtight container in the freezer for ready access when you need a little taste of summer in the depths of winter.
  2. Cook salmon your favorite way (grilled, pan seared or broiled) and serve over a bed of cilantro lime rice. For an extra special touch, drizzle a bit of raspberry sauce over the salmon for a great combination of summer flavors.
Haven Help Us http://havenhelpus.com/
Find out more about Carol!

Find out more about Carol!

Blueberry Salad
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  1. 1/2c finely chopped onion
  2. 3/4c sugar
  3. 1/3c red wine vinegar
  4. 1t ground mustard
  5. 3/4t salt
  6. 1c vegetable oil
  7. 1 1/2t poppy seeds
  8. 1 head romaine
  9. 1 head lettuce
  10. 3/4c slivered almonds, toasted
  11. 12oz bag frozen blueberries
  1. Combine onion, sugar, vinegar, mustard, salt, oil, and poppy seeds and set aside. Tear or chop lettuces into bite size pieces. Stir in almonds and blueberries. Add half of dressing to salad and toss to combine. Let sit for about 10 minutes. Add more dressing as needed. Serve.
  1. Left over dressing keeps well in the refrigerator. Recipe can easily be doubled to feed a crowd.
Haven Help Us http://havenhelpus.com/

Worn Out From Life’s “Ought-to” and “Should-do’s”?

It’s that one little word that scares me to death. I can’t say no, but I am learning to.  I come from a family of doers and worker bees. Being worn out from being a busy bee made me realize that I never learned how to “just be”. Saying no scared me because I thought some breathing room in my schedule or a blank day on my calendar meant that I wasn’t doing enough or serving enough. Can you relate? John 15:5 says “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” In order to be productive in our daily lives, we need to stay connected to the vine and let Him prune what is not best for us. God made this lesson very tangible to me when I recently tackled the project of pruning the the bushes in my front yard.

They had been in a sorry state for the past year or so, and the spindly little branches that were protruding out of the ground could hardly be categorized as a bush. Armed with my clippers, I started to trim away the dead branches. As I trimmed, pulled, and pruned that messy disaster, I noticed that the bases of the bushes were alive. Little green shoots and pink buds were trying to make their way into the world but were being choked by the surrounding chaos of dead leaves and branches that were no longer healthy. I pruned and cut until only the healthy green branches were left. A few weeks later, the bushes started to grow and were looking healthier than I had ever seen them. I felt the voice of God nudge my heart and it was as if He whispered to me this beautiful phrase. “I want that for your life, too.”

Sometimes we have to say no to very good things in order to protect the very best that God has for us. Some things that can be categorized as good end up choking what is best in our lives, and they become dead branches that just take up the vital sunlight needed to thrive. We are called to serve and minister to one another with the gifts that God has given us, but we must first realize that our connection with the Father is our most important relationship. One that we must not neglect. If you’re having a hard time with saying no or distinguishing what is best, you’re not alone. We can’t be everything to everyone, and that’s OK. I’ll leave you with this song that has helped calm my spirit numerous times, and I hope it blesses you as much as it has blessed me.

Kings Kaleidoscope ­ Seek Your Kingdom 

AAC Women’s Bible study this fall will be going through Susie Larson’s new book The Sacred Yes. In this practical and liberating book, Susie shares biblical ways to learn how and when to say no without guilt or shame.  To learn more about this study and others click here

Katie DeNure


Katie has had the privilege to lead music for hundreds of youth conferences, women’s retreats, young adult gatherings, special events, and church services. Katie started a program called “The Worship Circle” that teaches young musicians not only the fundamentals of music, but it teaches the character of a worship leader.

“It is my passion to pass down the lessons that I had to learn the hard way to a younger generation that is bombarded with self-seeking messages. Worship is not about playing music in front of your peers. Worship is about magnifying a holy God and making his name everything and our name nothing.”

Why You Need an End-of-Summer Bucket List

How does it happen every year? Summer launches with high hopes and open calendars, only to wind down too quickly beneath a pile of activities and back-to-school sales. It’s easy to stand at the top of August and see your summer as two-thirds gone. Or is it one-third full?

Make the most of it. Write an end-of-summer bucket list.


The concept is simple. As a family, discuss with your kids what you and THEY want to do before summer ends, then write the list and stick to it. Within reason, of course, I mean “Disney World” may not make the list this year. But “go swimming at the lake” and “buy a treat from the ice cream truck” can. By focusing on what your children want to do, you’re investing in their memory bank and showing them you care about their interests. (Think of it as a Philippians 2:3–4 thing.) And you’re maximizing what time you have left before the fall routine sweeps everyone away.

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

In our house, we tack our bucket list to the fridge and check off activities as we do them. My kids enjoy tracking their summer fun, and they feet a sense of accomplishment at the end of August when they realize they had a blast doing most of the things they envisioned for us. And—major bonus for us moms—whenever the kids whine those infamous words “I’m BORED,” all we have to do is point to the bucket list. Choose something, kiddos! No complaining allowed.

Need a little inspiration? Here are some ideas from our own bucket list to get you brainstorming as a family.

  • Visit every playground in town
  • Eat fresh-popped kettle corn
  • See a free concert in the park
  • Make Something Monday (That’s what we call our weekly craft project.)
  • Spend a weekend at the cabin
  • Build a fire pit and make s’mores
  • Go biking
  • Learn to jump rope
  • Play tennis
  • Read Little Women and Anne of Green Gables
  • Watch a movie outdoors
  • Go to a water park
  • Dig for shells at the beach
  • Visit a farm
  • Eat corn on the cob
  • Run through the sprinkler
  • Buy fresh veggies at the farmer’s market
  • Go to the Milwaukee County Zoo
  • See the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago

And so much more!

What will be on YOUR end-of-summer bucket list? Enjoy!



Big News for the Future of Haven Help Us

Hello, friends! We are so thankful for each of you who came alongside us for the Haven Help Us launch in January 2014, and for everyone who jumped on board to read and share our posts. Following a writing/blogging conference we attended together last summer, God led us both in different and wonderful directions.

Future of Haven Help Us

Heidi is now doing behind-the-scenes work for bloggers and authors and running her own site that encourages women to “be the boss” of their households at heidimaranell.com.

And Becky is launching her first book in December, The SuperMom Myth: Conquering the Dirty Villains of Motherhood (Barbour Publishing), as well as investing more time and energy into her devotional blog, Time Out with Becky Kopitzke.

God is good.

And we are still dear friends.

In fact, we are each other’s biggest cheerleaders. Not a day goes by that we aren’t instant messaging, e-mailing, or brainstorming about our shared passion for blogging. We come up with any excuse to have a “meeting” (a.k.a. a play date in which our children occupy each other while we work side-by-side on our laptops, like co-workers across the cubicles).

Today we are very excited to announce the future of Haven Help Us. We told you it wasn’t going away—just changing. And indeed, it is in very good hands. Drum roll, please . . .

Haven Help Us is now the official blog of Appleton Alliance Church women’s ministry. Appleton Alliance is Becky’s home church and a vibrant, growing community of believers. Becky will still be involved as a regular contributor, and the blog will be led by the amazing team of women who head up women’s ministry at AAC—with the one and only Judy Episcopo at the helm.

So, with much anticipation and a few sniffles of adieu, we pass the baton to Judy and crew. If you’re a subscriber, we invite you to stick around for some great posts and godly wisdom from Haven Help Us in the months to come. Judy will be making her debut here soon. Until then, blessings to you all! And keep making those homes your haven!

Things Are Changing Around Here

Well, God sure is funny.

A couple weeks ago, we (Heidi and Becky) attended an AMAZING conference for women writers and speakers called She Speaks, hosted by Proverbs 31 Ministries (love those gals). We went expecting God to show us the next big thing for our blog. And he did.

It just wasn’t quite what we expected. Not by a long shot.

Did I mention God is funny?


There’s a wonderful story in the details, but for now we’ll give you the highlights.

Heidi scored her dream gig as a virtual assistant to the fabulous Miss Courtney DeFeo of Lil Light o’Mine blogging/product designing/book writing fame and is now hard at work launching her multi-client virtual wonder woman business, aptly named Sidekick Adventures. God has opened wide the doors, and our favorite havenista is going places, y’all.

Becky got some encouraging affirmation to refocus on her writing pursuits—stay tuned for exactly what that means (she’s figuring it out, too), but the bottom line is this:

We lifted Haven Help Us up to the Lord. And he told us to let it go.

What does that look like? Well, we’re not quite sure yet. We’re considering selling or transferring management of the blog so that someone else of God’s choosing can take what we’ve started and run with it. Maybe we’ll stay on as contributors. Maybe not. We’re trusting God with next steps because let us just tell you, he showed himself FAITHFUL at that conference and continues to affirm us every step of the what-in-the-world-are-we-doing way.

You all have blessed us beyond words with your support and encouragement for Haven Help Us, and we only hope this little online space has blessed and encouraged you as well. Please know we are not disappearing! Becky would love for you to stay connected through her devotional blog, Time Out with Becky Kopitzke at www.beckykopitzke.com. Like her on Facebook, follow her devotional board on Pinterest, or subscribe to receive her weekly encouragement straight to your inbox. Her posts offer inspiration and solidarity for fellow frazzled, flawed and fabulous moms, wives, and just women in general.

And Heidi will be hard at work behind the scenes to make other bloggers’ lives easier, which is a gift God has given her, and we’re thrilled he’s giving her the opportunity to use it for his glory.

So. If you know anybody who wants to run a blog . . . let us know.

Because God is funny.

And wouldn’t it be just like him to deliver a new Haven Help Us manager from out of our very own community here at HHU. Much love to you all. We’ll keep you posted on the transfer details once they come together. Meanwhile, blessings from our havens to yours!

Becky-Name-2  Heidi-Name-2

How to Support Friends with Food Allergies

Chances are, we all know someone with a food allergy. Peanuts, dairy, eggs, wheat—the list of food allergens seems to grow along with our food supply. Even if your own family is untouched by food allergies, your kids are probably in school, daycare, or church groups with children who cannot tolerate certain foods. So, given the increasing prevalence of food allergies in our kids’ environments, how can we support others with these restrictions?

Our friend Shannon Yang is here to give us some helpful insight. Shannon’s son copes with several serious food allergies, including a potentially life-threatening airborne peanut allergy. We want to spread the word that by taking some simple steps, fellow moms and kids can help provide a safer, more accepting environment for friends with food allergies. Here’s how.

How to support friends with food allergies

Intolerance vs. Allergy

First, it’s important to realize there is a difference between a food intolerance/sensitivity (i.e., gluten intolerance, lactose intolerance, etc.) and a food allergy.

A food intolerance or sensitivity may cause discomfort in the body such as GI issues, headaches, congestion, etc.; however, people with sensitivities can still consume the food either by eating it or touching it without suffering life-threatening harm. Think of how a seasonal allergy (grass, pollen, mold, dust) can cause itchy and watery eyes, congestion and sneezing, and so seasonal allergy sufferers take an over-the-counter allergy medication (Zyrtec, Claritin, Allegra, Benadryl) or get allergy shots to address their symptoms. Without meds, they might be miserable, but not typically in serious danger.

A food allergy, however, is life-threatening, and coming in contact with the allergen may cause a severe anaphylactic immune response resulting in death. Coming in contact with the allergen can include:

  • touching a surface that someone else touched when they ate/touched the allergen
  • eating the allergen because it is contained in something the person with the allergy eats, not knowing it is in there
  • breathing in the allergen because it’s in the air (this can occur for wheat/gluten allergy due to flour dust in the air, or peanut/tree nut allergy if cooking with peanut/sesame oil or serving snacks with peanuts or peanut butter in them)

What can you do?

You can help keep everyone safe by following some simple habits.

1) Have your child wash their hands with soap and water when eating something that they know playmates/classmates are allergic to.

2) If a friend with food allergies visits your home, clean any surfaces that may have come in contact with an allergen using Clorox wipes. Clorox wipes are the only wipes on the market proven to actually “kill” food allergen proteins.

3) Consider asking allergy parents if there are alternate snacks/treats for classroom birthday parties, or choose to hand out non-food items so that everyone in the class can be included. Allergy parents are often grateful when others are sensitive to their child’s food allergies and can offer safe ideas for snacks/treats that all kids will enjoy. Please also remember, that allergy parents will often provide their own safe snacks/treats for their child.

4) Parents can educate their own children about being sensitive to food allergies and how to advocate for their friends. The very first time my son had an allergic reaction in his classroom at school, his classmates noted the reaction and notified the teacher.


Here’s a list of helpful resources for more information and allergen-free products!

1. Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) website, http://www.foodallergy.org/ 
2. Libre Naturals (Canada)
3. The Green Polka Dot Box (requires membership to take part)
4. Gimball’s candy online and seasonally at some local stores (Festival Foods, Walmart)
5. The Natural Candy Store online
6. Peanut Free Planet (Canada)
7. Vermont Nut Free online
8. Divvies
9. Trader Joe’s
10. Whole Foods
11. Amazon

Local stores for Fox Valley area friends:
Happy Bellies Bakery on Richmond Street in Appleton
The Free Market in Appleton
Red Radish in Neenah
Copps/Pick ‘n Save


10 Tips for English-Style Bedroom Decor

Today we have a special guest from across the pond, our new friend Alice from the Yorkshire Linen Co. in England. She’s here to give us some lovely tips on incorporating English charm into your bedroom decor. We’re talking authentic English charm . . . from a genuine English gal. This is the real deal, folks! Take it away, Alice!
* * * * * * * *
Hello! I am 20-something and my name is Alice. I love to decorate homes and do home makeovers. I am so flattered to be coming over here today. For more posts like this one, you can find me at Yorkshire Linen Co in the UK, or like us on Facebook!
English-style décor is a very subtle yet attractive décor style. Here is how to introduce some restrained English loveliness into your bedroom.

Classical English Beauty

Reproduce a beautiful English bedroom by opting for floor length drapes that start high, near the ceiling, and puddle slightly on the floor. Invest in several sets of bedding that is comfortable and attractive but not over-modern, edgy or trendy. Bear in mind, at all times, that you are aiming for comfort and reliability first with aesthetic appeal coming a close second.

Foot of the Bed

No English-inspired bedroom can be considered complete without something large and bulky at the foot of the bed! You can choose a traditional ottoman (perhaps even one that matches the bed?) or a large old truck, suitcase or similar, depending on your tastes and budget.

Restrained Charm with Bedspreads

The true beauty of English décor will not strike you straight away; there is none of the drama and impact of more cosmopolitan, modern décor. Choose bedspread features with demure colours and muted patterns, ensuring that they will all work together to create the right subtly understated effect. Bedspreads that are inclined to English décor  themes are available at Yorkshire Linen and I would suggest them to everyone.

Natural Essence


The English countryside is known for its tranquil beauty—gently rolling hills, brilliant green grass and a scattering of wildlife. Infuse your bedroom with a country air by choosing bedroom fabrics that pick up on the small details of Nature. Pictures or photographs of animals and landscapes will help to enhance this décor theme.

Sturdy Respectability

Old English bedrooms tended to feature large wooden furniture (think wardrobe to Narnia!), the plainness of the wood offset with good quality rugs, thick warm curtains and other soft furnishings. Genuinely old English pieces are hard to find at car boot sales as they are so strong and sturdy that they tend to be kept in use, by generations sometimes, but you will occasionally find bedroom sets at auctions and estate clearances. Failing this, you may have to opt for modern reproductions to complete your lovely English bedroom.

Four-Poster Bed

Traditionally designed so as to afford the sleeper some privacy in the days before solitary use bedrooms, four-poster beds are making something of a comeback. While they used to be thickly swagged with curtains to keep out any stray breezes and annoying early morning sun beams as well as prying glances, the modern ones tend to feature lighter fabrics and are generally more attractive than practical. Classic four poster beds and bedsteads can be obtained from OBC Store.

Old Wood is Good Wood

Older furniture used to be made with pride, featuring smoothly curved wooden lines and wonderful varnishes and stains. The best look for wood is a carefully-looked-after aged patina, but not everyone can afford antiques. If you are determined to achieve this rich look for your bedroom without breaking the bank, be prepared to spend hours trawling through car boot sales, auctions and junk shops looking for individual pieces to bring home and restore to their former glory.

Colonial Hints

Colonial style décor has fallen out of favour somewhat as we come to realise that the scramble to take over as much of the world as possible was undignified and disrespectful to other civilisations and nations, but it is still a wonderfully exotic look that encapsulates the best of British! Obviously, eschew the more unsavoury aspects of colonial décor such as elephant’s foot dustbins and immense tusks mounted on the wall, and opt for tribal print fabrics and art.

Sweet and Simple

A very basic bedroom can be given an English appeal with just one or two touches of cosy luxury. This works best in very small bedrooms where there is little room for ornament. You will find that the addition of a luxury throw and matching cushions can make for surprisingly attractive bedroom décor.

Pet Friendly

The English traditionally love their animals, treating them like part of the family, so be sure to accommodate man’s best friend too! Photographs or paintings of loved pets, a snuggly pet bed and perhaps a favourite doggy toy will add the right pet-lovers note to any bedroom. 
Photo credits: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10

Cinnamon Granola with Honey Roasted Almonds

My kids are addicted to carbs. Graham crackers, breakfast cereal, Goldfish, scones—if it crunches or tastes like a cookie, they want it. That’s why I’m so excited about this fantastic homemade cinnamon granola (with—bonus!—sweet honey roasted almonds, yum).

Hearty cinnamon granola with honey roasted almonds

This recipe comes compliments of our good friend Heidi Scott. I love the list of wholesome ingredients packed with protein and fiber, like wheat germ, whole oats, and ground flaxseed, plus natural sugars (honey and maple syrup). I even snagged a jar of locally produced honey at a farm stand a couple weeks ago just for this recipe, although, I confess I swallowed a few spoonfuls first just for fun. Every good chef taste-tests her ingredients, right? This rule is especially true when dealing with chocolate.


I hope you enjoy this homemade cinnamon granola as much as my family does. It’s delicious by the handful for snacking, mixed with dried fruit, sprinkled over yogurt or ice cream, or served with warm or cold milk and sliced fruit for breakfast. Yum!

Cinnamon Granola with Honey Roasted Almonds
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For the granola
  1. 1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
  2. 3 c. oats
  3. 1 c. shredded coconut
  4. 1 c. wheat germ
  5. 1 c. ground flaxseed
  6. 2 T. cinnamon
  7. 1/2 c. water
  8. 3/4 c. coconut oil
  9. 1/2 c. honey
  10. 1/4 c. maple syrup
  11. 2 t. vanilla
  12. 1 t. salt
For the honey roasted almonds
  1. 1 c. sliced almonds
  2. 1/4 c. sugar
  3. 1/8 t. salt
  4. 2 T honey
  5. 2 T water
  6. 2 t. vegetable oil
To make the granola
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. In a large bowl, mix the flour, oats, coconut, wheat germ, flaxseed and cinnamon. In a small saucepan over low heat, mix water, coconut oil, honey, maple syrup, vanilla and salt until the coconut oil melts and everything is well blended. Pour over the dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Spread into two 15-inch jelly roll pans or cookie sheets and bake 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours (depending on whether you prefer your granola softer or crunchier) or until dry and golden brown. Stir with a spatula every 30 minutes and break up large pieces. Watch after 1 hour to prevent burning. Cool completely, then add the honey roasted almonds.
To make the honey roasted almonds
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut a large sheet of wax paper or parchment paper and lay it on the counter for later. Spread almonds onto a cookie sheet and bake 4 to 5 minutes or until fragrant and light brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and salt; set aside. In a small saucepan, combine honey, water and oil. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir in the almonds and cook until the almonds have absorbed the liquid, about 5 minutes. Stir in the sugar mixture, remove from heat and immediately spread the almond mixture over the waxed paper. Allow to cool and break apart. Stir into the granola and store in an airtight container.
Haven Help Us http://havenhelpus.com/
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