Monday, January 13, 2014

My Word for the Year {And What it Means for This Blog}

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another." 
~John 13:34

As you know, I've been pondering my "word" and the coming year for a while. What one word could summarize what I hope to focus on for 2014? And then, one night as I was sitting at the kitchen table while the rest of the family slept, my eye caught the above verse on our living room wall. Of course, love was the answer I had been looking for.

What is the reason for all that we do? It is supposed to be love. Love for God, and love for people. As a wife and mother, what I do stems from a desire to love Jesus and love my husband and children. And then it all flows out from there, love spilling over onto neighbors, extended family, friends at church, our community. At least, that's the way it's supposed to work.


And yet there were other words that had been pressing themselves on my mind. Words like "order," "peace," "intentional," and "haven."

My goal is to (Lord willing) spend 2014 intentionally making a peaceful haven for my family through ordering our physical space and our days, and above all, to love

The intentional living, creating a peaceful haven, and maintaining order are all tangible ways to show love to my family. It all amounts to well-planned nourishing meals, clean clothes in the drawers, and time to give full attention to a young child's questions and the older child's dreams. Time for cuddling together on the couch, gardening and crafting together, or digging hands deep in bread dough.


It all amounts to a life well-lived. It all amounts to TIME.

For me, life has been moving entirely too fast. Days slip by, children grow up, and I'm not entirely sure that every moment has been spent the way I hoped.

Too much time has been given to deadlines and hurry and distraction. Fruitless projects that took up a lot of precious time but didn't really yield anything of lasting value.


And I see a little boy on the verge of manhood. A daughter, already a young lady, needing guidance and friendship. A husband who works so hard, his once-dark hair now peppered with gray.

Where will we all be in five years? In just five short years, my oldest will be almost twenty. How did we get here so fast?


I don't want to arrive at the future and wonder where the time went. I want to face the future boldly, to smile with anticipation and pleasure as I think of what it holds. And when I get there, I want to know that I was faithful and lived joyfully and abundantly. But in order to live that way, some changes need to be made.


I must live each day intentionally. Not walking around half-awake and distracted. I must be fully awake! I must live each day as it is given, and not try to live in the future or the past. I've got to live out today, and give it the best I've got. Embrace it.

"Memories, important yesterdays, were once todays. Treasure and notice today."
~Gloria Gaither

We each get the same amount of time. The question is, how are we going to use it?


I need more time. More time to give to what really matters. Time equals love to my family. 

In addition to a strong desire to be more intentional with my time, I'm also dealing with some health issues that are demanding more undivided attention. I really just need some time to rest. Time to think and focus and figure out how I might regain the health and energy that I once enjoyed.


Since we only get twenty-four hours, and I'm finding that it's not enough, that means something has to go. And I've decided it's this blog.

I just don't have time for blogging right now. I do enjoy it, but I just don't have the time for it. And I don't have time for Facebook either, so I won't be continuing on with either of my Facebook pages (and they weren't showing my posts to anyone anyway).

Is this goodbye forever? I'm not sure, but I doubt it. I don't know how long I'll be gone, but I just know that I need to go. And most likely for an extended period of time. If I do come back to blogging, it will only be after sensing from God that it's time.


I will still be continuing on with Lilla Rose. If you've ordered from my Lilla Rose website in the past year, thank you so much--what a blessing you have been to our family! If you would like to be notified when I return to blogging (assuming that I'm able), feel free to sign up for email notification here.

Thank you all so much for reading here! Thank you for the kind notes and words of encouragement you've sent my way. I so much appreciate your prayers. I pray that you will be blessed in 2014, and I hope to meet up with you again someday!

Many blessings,

Friday, January 10, 2014

Coconutty Granola {Soaked}


We are huge fans of granola at our house! So, several years ago, when I found out about the benefits of soaking grains, I was sad to think that we would have to give up granola (since I had read that it was not very easily digested, and I didn't have a recipe for soaked granola). I occasionally continued making our usual granola recipe, but we weren't able to enjoy it as often as we had previously.

Recently, I was sent a copy of The Healthy Breakfast Book to review, and the first thing I made out of it was this wonderful recipe! We loved it, and I know we'll be making it again (the only thing I'll do differently next time is double or triple the recipe)! If you don't eat grains, still check out The Healthy Breakfast Book, as there are lots of gluten free recipes included!

Ingredients:
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat or buckwheat flour
  • 1 Tablespoon whey + warm water to make 1 cup (you can substitute lemon juice or yogurt for the whey)
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons melted unrefined coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup coconut (I used coconut chips)
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
I like to use these large coconut chips from Tropical Traditions.

Directions:
  1. First, you're going to soak the oats overnight. In a large bowl, combine the oats and flour. Add the whey (or yogurt or lemon juice) to a glass measuring cup, and then add warm water to make one cup. Mix the whey/water into the oats, and stir well. Cover, and allow to sit at room temperature for 12-24 hours.
  2. When you're ready to make the granola, melt or soften the coconut oil in a saucepan. Add the honey and vanilla and whisk together well. You can also add up to a few tablespoons of water if it seems to need it (mine didn't).
  3. Add cinnamon, coconut, chopped nuts, and sunflower seeds to the soaked oats.
  4. Pour the liquid coconut oil/honey mixture over the granola and mix well (I found that a fork works really well for this step, but you can also use a couple of butter knives to make the clumps smaller).
  5. Spread the granola on a rimmed cookie sheet greased with coconut oil (or butter). Make sure to spread it as thinly as possible.
  6. Bake in a 250 degree oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, flipping about halfway through. Then turn the oven off and leave the granola inside to finish drying (this will take several hours or you can just leave it overnight). I baked my granola for about 2 1/2 hours and then turned the oven off. I left it in the oven to dry for several hours, and it was nice and crispy when I was ready to remove it. ***If you have a dehydrator, spread the granola on your dehydrator trays and dehydrate at 135 degrees for 12-24 hours or until crisp.***
  7. Store in airtight containers (Mason jars work great and look pretty!) at room temperature. You can also store this in the refrigerator or freezer for longer-term storage.
  8. This recipe made almost 2 quart jars full. I definitely need to double it next time!
Mixing the granola before spreading it on the pans to bake.

I'm so happy to have found this recipe! I'm kind of addicted to it. I just like to sprinkle a little bit over my greek yogurt, but it's also good all by itself. 


If you're looking for more delicious recipes for breakfast, I highly recommend The Healthy Breakfast Book! In addition to several other soaked grain/oat recipes, Katie's book also includes lots of creative gluten free options! 

And, Kitchen Stewardship is having a Huge eBook Sale until January 18th! All Kitchen Stewardship eBooks are "Buy 3, Get 50% off the entire order," when you use code "2014."

This sale includes packages that are already discounted, and also applies if you order more than 3 items.

The Healthy Breakfast Book by Kitchen Stewardship

I highly recommend Katie's books, especially The Family Camping Handbook (which we relied on heavily for last spring's camping trip, and is where I got this recipe fo Homemade Granola Bars and the basic instructions for these Campfire Cherry Hobo Pies). We've also used and loved Healthy Snacks to Go, and of course, The Healthy Breakfast Book!



This post contains my referral links.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Homemade Coconut Mint Toothpaste


I've been experimenting with different toothpaste recipes. I started with making my own tooth soap, and now I'm making powders and pastes. Here's the one I'm currently using, which I originally found a couple of years ago on Pinterest (and then saw on several other blogs). I like knowing what's in my toothpaste, and it's a lot cheaper than most of the natural toothpastes that are available. In fact, these are all ingredients that we keep stocked in our kitchen, so I didn't have to buy anything to make this.

Homemade Coconut Mint Toothpaste

Ingredients:

Directions:
  1. Melt the coconut oil, if necessary.
  2. Add baking soda to the coconut oil and stir with a fork until it forms a paste.
  3. Add the peppermint essential oil and optional xylitol powder. I used closer to 20 drops of essential oil, and about 1/2 tablespoon of xylitol powder (I used granulated xylitol and ground it in the coffee grinder to make a powder.).
  4. Mix all together and store in a covered glass jar. 
Notes: I just dip my toothbrush in this (each family member would have their own jar of toothpaste). If you prefer, you could also keep a popsicle stick or a small measuring spoon near the jar and use this to scoop it out. You can also find tubes that might work to make a toothpaste that would squirt. I haven't tried this yet.

I get my essential oils from Mountain Rose Herbs or Vitacost (That's my referral link. If you order through this link and you've never ordered from Vitacost before, you'll get $10 off your order (of $30 or more), and I'll get $10 for referring you!).

Have you ever made your own toothpaste?

 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A Peaceful Home


"Do not grow weary in your mundane tasks. Mundane tasks are the hidden treasure to creating a home that is a haven."  ~Courtney Joseph

The best homemaking book I read in 2013 was Courtney Joseph's book, Women Living Well. I finished it right before the new year, so it's still fresh in my mind.

Courtney is so great at inspiring women to make their homes peaceful and inviting havens. Here are some of my favorite ideas that she shared (slightly modified, with a few of my own thoughts added):

How to Change the Atmosphere of Your Home

  1. Light a candle. Courtney says, "Purchase an extra-large candle and light it every day in your home. I start mine in the morning, but you can start yours at dinnertime. Do what makes sense for your family. I often have a candle burning in my kitchen, the main hub of my home. Each time the candle catches my eye, I say a prayer for peace in my home." We have plenty of candles (people know how much I love them, so I often receive them as gifts, and I also make my own soy candles). I love having one burning in the kitchen, and Courtney has inspired me to be more purposeful to light my candle daily, and let it be a reminder to pray.
  2. Turn on some music. (I'm a big fan of David Nevue or similar peaceful music most of the time, but when we're doing chores or dishes, we turn on something a bit more upbeat and energizing).
  3. Set a timer and go through the house de-cluttering for twenty minutes straight. It's amazing how much we can accomplish in just twenty minutes.
  4. Bake some brownies. My family would love it if I did this more often! They're satisfied with homemade chocolate chip cookies or even healthy homemade chocolates, which I do make pretty regularly.
  5. Put fresh flowers in a vase (this reminds me that I need to plant more flowers for cutting this spring.)
  6. Smile at your family.
  7. Use gentle and encouraging words. Remember to speak life to those around you.
  8. Hug your children and husband!
  9. Share some read aloud time or play a board game together as a family.
  10. Pray.
I thought these were very encouraging tips from Courtney's book (and I highly recommend the rest of it, too!). 

"Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."
~1 Corinthians 10:31






Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Healthy Chocolate


In addition to the fact that these chocolates are delicious, they're also a great way to get in your daily quota of coconut oil. I'm currently aiming to include 3-4 tablespoons of virgin coconut oil in my diet daily. Mostly I dissolve it in my hot tea and drink it, but sometimes I indulge in some of these for a treat, and I'm glad to know that I'm just getting more coconut oil with my dessert!

Ingredients:
Directions:
  1. In a saucepan, melt the coconut oil and honey together on low heat. Add the vanilla extract and stir (I use my stick blender to get them really well-mixed). 
  2. Add the cocoa powder and salt, blending well (you can use a whisk, fork, or a hand immersion (stick) blender). 
  3. Pour liquid chocolate into a candy mold or onto a plate lined with parchment paper. Silicone ice cube trays work really well. I found the flower and strawberry ice cube trays at the dollar store for 99 cents. We also have a heart-shaped one found at the dollar store around Valentine's a couple years ago. But pretty much any container will work, including paper or silicone muffin cups.
  4. Put your chocolates in the freezer for about 30-60 minutes or until they're firm.
  5. Store in the fridge or freezer.

Notes: 
  • You can use a different sweetener in place of the honey, such as stevia or maple syrup. You may need to adjust the recipe to get it just right. 
  • We also like to occasionally add nuts or dried coconut. You could also add peanut butter or mint extract. The possibilities are endless!
My favorite variation (on the left) with dried coconut sprinkled on top.
  • I have found that these chocolates turn out best when an immersion blender is used for all the mixing. I use a larger pot to melt the coconut oil and honey, and then I use the stick blender to blend the oil and honey together. Then I add the vanilla, salt, and cocoa powder, and blend well again with the stick blender. This keeps the oil and honey from separating and makes the chocolates smoother and better.
  • This chocolate will also become firm when drizzled over ice cream (just use it when it's in the liquid state, rather than freezing it in molds).
  • If you want to make these even more of a superfood, you can add maca powder:

Here is the chocolate I made with maca powder:


I have been taking 1 teaspoon of maca powder every day, but I didn't care for it in the chocolate. :) I prefer to sprinkle it on my greek yogurt (which I sweeten with liquid stevia drops and then add frozen blueberries--that kind of masks the taste of the maca powder).

Have you tried making your own chocolate?


Linking to: A Wise Woman, Walking Redeemed, Growing HomeRaising Arrows

The Value of a Day

Dear mother, what you do at home matters. The simple and seemingly mundane tasks are so necessary and beautiful. You are beautiful. Be encouraged today!

This video brought tears to my eyes~it was so sweet. It reminded me of my days as a young mom of one little baby, and I have so many precious memories from that simple and uncomplicated time. (If you're an email subscriber, you may need to click through to the blog to see the video.)


A whole life can be lost in minutes wasted, small moments missed. ~Ann Voskamp

Could I be walking through the years but not even be alive? ~Ann Voskamp


It’s wonderful to dream and plan for the future. It’s good to set goals and work hard toward them. But don’t let that keep you from savoring the here and now.
Today is the only day you are guaranteed. Don’t waste it wishing you could be somewhere or someone else. Soak up the beauty right in front of you and be grateful for the blessings you are already surrounded with.

Even if you never make it to where you want to go, contentment in the here and now will make the journey a sweet and rich experience. For truly, “Gratitude turns what we have into enough.”  ~ Crystal Paine



Linking To: A Wise Woman, Walking Redeemed, Raising Arrows

Monday, January 6, 2014

Roasted Winter Vegetables


This is a simple recipe, and it highlights the goodness of some less popular vegetables. On winter evenings, I actually crave these roasted vegetables (sorry, the photo doesn't do them justice). The kids prefer it when I roast potatoes, but it's nice to change things up occasionally.

Ingredients:
  • 6-8 cups winter vegetables, such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, turnips, parsnips, rutabagas, beets, winter squash (peeled and cut into 1/4" to 1/2" slices)
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 Tablespoon dried or 3 Tablespoons fresh herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, parsley, or oregano
  • sea salt and pepper, if desired
  • Optional: onions (if you want to add onions, add them to the pan 10 minutes into the baking time, as they cook faster)

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Grease a baking pan with coconut oil (or whatever you like--I use coconut oil)
  3. Wash, peel, and slice vegetables. 
  4. Toss vegetables (except onions), coconut oil, and herbs together in a bowl.
  5. Spread vegetables in a single layer on greased baking pans
  6. Sprinkle vegetables with sea salt (and pepper, if you desire--we just usually use salt).
  7. Roast for about 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.