Monday, September 22, 2014

Goals for the Week + What We Wore

I honestly can't believe the craziness of the past couple of weeks! I feel like I barely had time to breathe with all that has been going on. So much of it has to do with my husband's health issues and a new position at work.

The rest of us have been keeping busy with school and several social engagements. We had a concert, a family get-together, a birthday party, and a bridal shower, all in the same week! 

The girls and I took these pictures as we were headed to the bridal shower tea party. My youngest daughter and I wore our matching Easter skirt/dress. I keep thinking I'll do a post on those sometime. I also made her pink flower headband.

Please don't ask me if I'm expecting...I'm not! I have a diastasis recti that keeps me looking a little like I might be pregnant. I keep trying to fix it, but so far I haven't had any success. A friend just suggested something else to try, and I might if I can ever afford it. 

I just love the cream lace dress my daughter Abigail is wearing on the right. I found it at ThredUp for only a few dollars! It came with the black ribbon belt. She paired it with black knit capri pants/leggings and a black layering tee.

We had a wonderful time at the bridal shower tea party. It was fun to fellowship with friends and enjoy some delicious food and tea!

One of the games we played was to make wedding dresses out of toilet paper! Each team designed and made their own dress, and then the judges picked the best one. My daughter Elyse is on the right. The adorable little bride below won! Isn't she cute?!

All the little girls loved getting a chance to hold a friend's newest blessing. She's so adorably precious!

I'm seriously praying that this week will be a bit calmer than last week. I love getting together with friends and doing fun activities as a family, but I need some down time, too. Here are the main things I'm hoping to accomplish this week:

  • Date with husband.
  • One-on-one time with each child.
  • Process apples. I'm hoping to make applesauce and also dehydrate some for snacks. I'm not thinking of canning, just making some to eat.

  • Exercise 3 days this week.
  • Read 5 chapters of my current book.
  • Be in bed by 11:30 (taking baby steps toward my goal of 10:30!).

How was your week? Do you have anything exciting planned for this week, or are you hoping for calm, like me? :)

Possibly Linking Up With: The Modest MomA Mama's StoryThe Art of Home-Making MondayA Wise Woman, Raising HomemakersA Little R&RWYWWWhole Hearted HomeLiving Proverbs 31Children Are a Blessing, Home Sweet Home

Monday, September 15, 2014

A Beautiful Marriage {+ Giveaway!}

I've been married to my best friend for over sixteen years. 

During those sixteen years, we've lived in five different locations, weathered debilitating morning sickness and other pregnancy-related trials five times, welcomed five beautiful babies into the world, dealt with a lay-off and long-term unemployment, bought and sold houses, lost money, gained money, nursed each other back to health after various illnesses, cried together, laughed together, fought with each other, made up, and prayed together.

We've had our times of joy and times of sorrow, and I believe our marriage has only grown stronger because of it all.

As a newlywed, I didn't have a clue about all the refining God was going to do in my life in the coming years. Marriage has definitely been a sanctifying influence in my life (and I know my husband would agree)!

A beautiful marriage isn't one where you never have any trials or difficulties--a marriage becomes beautiful as we commit our lives to Jesus and dedicate our marriage to Him and His glory. As we deeply love and serve each other, and as we grow together, that's when it gets beautiful.

I'm thankful for my beautiful marriage, even with all of its rough edges and messy parts. 

I know I've mentioned Darlene Schacht's newest book, Messy Beautiful Love a couple of times already. I enjoyed reading it so much! I think what really spoke to me the most is that marriage requires giving each other grace and being willing to forgive, even when it hurts. Because there will be times when we need to forgive. There will be hard things. But if we commit our relationship to the Lord and live for Him, our marriage can come out stronger and even more beautiful in the end.

In Messy Beautiful Love, Darlene vulnerably shares her own story and struggles, and I found it hard to put down. She exhorts you to love your husband sacrificially, look for the best in him, give him grace, be willing to forgive, and so much more. She points you to the wisdom of the Bible, and each chapter includes steps for taking action as you implement what you've learned.

I'm happy to have another marriage book I can wholeheartedly recommend to wives!

You can find out more at the Messy Beautiful Love website, and you can enter to win one for free below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received a complimentary book for review purposes. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Linking with: A Wise Woman

Knitting and Reading {Bunnies!}

Do you remember a year ago when I mentioned this little knitting project? Yeah, I figured you probably didn't. A year is a long time ago. I had forgotten about it myself! I actually finished these little guys way back then and forgot about them.

When I found them in my closet and brought them out last week, Ezra was so thrilled with them! He said, "What are these for?" 

I said, "They're for you. Do you like them? They're called 'bunny nuggets.'" 

He laughed at the name and answered, "Really?! You made them just for me? Oh, I love them!"

He spent a long time playing with them, and then he told me, "Hey, Mom, you should make more of these little nugget-things. They're so cute!" He even sleeps with them at night.

I originally planned to make them as part of his Before Five in a Row unit studies. There are so many bunny books in Before Five in a Row, and these would be a fun go-along for any or all of them. I got the idea to make these from Michelle at Delightful Learning. She always inspires me!

My sweet mom gave me all the yarn to make these. I only had to buy the little eyes at a local craft store. I still have lots of yarn left, so maybe I will make some more! It's hard to resist when my kids actually request a handmade item! You can find out more on my Ravelry page

So, while it's bunny books for my youngest, I've got several books going for myself. 

I think I've mentioned that I love making soap. Last year I was able to make all of our family's soap, and I also gave some away as gifts.

It's about time to stock up on soap again (I try to make it all at once, to last for the whole year). I've been enjoying looking through Jan Berry's book, Natural Soap Making. Even though I already know how to make soap, I like getting new ideas for scents and colorings, and I'm always looking for ways to improve the skills I already have. 

What have you been creating or reading lately?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Simple Homemade Coconut Oil Lotion

I've been using coconut oil for my lotion for a long time now. I usually apply it in the morning after I shower. I do have other lotion (from Vitacost) that I use before bed and some that I keep in my purse, but coconut oil is my favorite morning moisturizer.

This is so simple to make that it hardly requires any instruction! All you need is:
  • 1/2 cup virgin coconut oil
  • about 25 drops of essential oil (I used a combination of lavender and a few drops of wild orange)
  • a 4 oz. glass jar with a lid
  1. My coconut oil was already liquid since my kitchen was hot, but if yours is solid you can melt it in a pan on low heat.
  2. Add the essential oil and stir to combine.
  3. Pour the mixture into the jar and let it harden. It will harden if your house is cooler, but if it's really warm (like at my house) it might firm up some but won't be completely solid until cooler weather arrives. I actually put mine in the refrigerator for awhile to get it to firm up a bit.
  4. Store in a cool, dry place. 
  5. To use, I just dip some out with my fingers.

In the winter, during cold and flu season, you can add something like Breathe essential oil (Breathe is a doTERRA blend I like to keep on hand). Added to the coconut oil lotion, it makes a natural version of Vick's VapoRub. 

I've been using plain coconut oil for lotion for a long time, but I'd never thought to add essential oils to it!

This recipe comes from the book Easy Beauty Recipes, by Kelly McNelis. And guess what--it's part of the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle!

Every year during the bundle sale I always buy one for myself because there are so many great resources included. Here are a few more that I've either already read and loved, or some that have been on my wish-list for a long time and I now have the opportunity to dive into them:
  • The Nourished Metabolism--this book normally sells for $30, which is more than the cost of the whole bundle! I've been eyeing this one for months and now that I have it I've already started reading (and loving) it.
  • The Eczema Cure--I suffered from a bout with eczema last winter, and I saw this book but the price ($29.95) was more than I could afford for just one book. I'm glad I'll have it on hand for this winter!
  • Natural Soap-Making
  • Clean & Simple
  • Essential Oils & Natural Health--this e-course retails for $95!
Normally $95, I got this e-course (along with lots of other healthy-living resources) for just $29.97!

So, even though I wasn't interested in every single resource in the bundle, I still got quite a few books and e-courses I had been wanting, and all for a very low price--much less than I would have spent on each one individually! (And if there are books in the bundle you already own or don't need, you can always give them away.) And several of the freebies were products we already use and love (like TriLight and Orawellness), so I got a great deal on products I would be buying anyway.

It's really over $1000 worth of the very best resources to equip your health journey, all for less than $30! (Find out more here.)

This post contains affiliate links.

Linking Up With: A Mama's Story

Friday, September 12, 2014

Nurturing Your Family's Health

Every year when cold and flu season approaches, I take stock of my natural medicine cabinet and see what needs to be added or replenished. 

Herbal Remedies I Keep On Hand

I like to keep plenty of basic natural remedies on hand (things like echinacea, goldenseal, fresh garlic, cod liver oil, and vitamin C). But I also make sure we have available some more specific remedies, such as those for sore throats and coughs. There's nothing worse than being awakened in the night with a sick child and finding you don't have what you need!

Some of my favorite herbal remedies for children come from TriLight. We've been using their formulas for over ten years now, so we always feel safe and confident buying from them. 

I was so excited that one of the bonus offers for the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle was a $15 store credit (or a free 2 oz. liquid herbal formula). Since I was needing to place an order anyway, I was able to get what I needed with free shipping and $15 off! And, if you're new to TriLight and you sign up for their newsletter, you can also get a free bottle of Lympha Rub, which is one of my favorite products! I'm never without that stuff!

Making Your Own Herbal Remedies

In the past few years I've also been trying to make some of my own tinctures and other herbal medicines. I really enjoy learning about herbs (and growing them) and making my own formulas. It's really easy when you buy a pre-packaged kit from The Bulk Herb Store. I've used a couple of theirs in the past. 

I've had the first volume of Bulk Herb Store's Making Herbs Simple for a long time (and love it). It's a fun and informative video to watch and learn from. I'm so excited that Volumes 1 and 2 are also part of the bundle sale! Now I can finally watch Volume 2!

Using Essential Oils for Health

I've been using essential oils for years, but I never truly knew how to get the maximum benefit from them. A friend from church, who was recently widowed, started selling doTERRA, and I signed up under her. I always look forward to her fun and informational home parties.

We buy essential oils from various places (not just doTERRA). Some come from Vitacost and we're also hoping to try out the ones from Tropical Traditions. I'm not loyal to one particular brand.

That said, there are a few blends from doTERRA that I've become a bit dependent on, though. I like to keep these on hand:
  • Breathe (respiratory blend)
  • DigestZen (digestive blend)
  • PastTense (this comes in a roller ball bottle, and cures headaches for me!)
  • On Guard
  • Deep Blue
I also regularly use the single oils, too:
  • lemon
  • peppermint
  • lavender
  • oregano
  • melaleuca

Learning More About Essential Oils

After I signed up with doTERRA, I found myself using essential oils more than I had in the past. I have a reference book that I use regularly whenever someone has an ailment, big or small. But there's still so much to learn!

There are two resources in the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle for learning about essential oils. There's this helpful beginner's guide:

And then there's this amazing 3-week e-course (and this is what I'm really excited about):

Did you know that the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle includes access to this amazing Essential Oils & Natural Health e-course? I have a couple other Vintage Remedies courses, so I know to expect excellent content from them. 

I wouldn't have been able to afford the $95 retail price for the course, so getting it with the other books in the bundle was a huge bonus for me. This is a 3 month e-course that will be available for a whole year to anyone who purchases a bundle

So, for only $29.97, you get all of the 80+ resources in the bundle, the 10 freebie offers, and this amazing e-course (that usually sells for $95)! 

Here's part of the course description:

"Tired of getting conflicting information on essential oil safety and appropriate uses? Get the facts on how you can use essential oils in your home for healthy living, medicinal benefits, and a wellness focused lifestyle with a practical approach to aromatherapy and aromatic medicine in this online course. The program includes a close look at 12 different essential oils, an evidence based look at potential interactions and contraindications, and step-by-step instructions for dozens of useful and effective household must-haves ranging from body care products to natural medicine for kids.

Techniques and skills include both traditional aromatherapy and the controversial internal use of these potent oils.  Course content is delivered in our interactive student portal through audio lectures, pdf downloads, video demonstrations, interactive quizzes, and a personal course instructor for feedback, guidance, and encouragement!"

The course does require a high-speed internet connection for the best results. I really like the fact that I'll have access to the course for a whole year so I can pick a time that works best for me to get started.

In case you missed it, you can see all that's included in the bundle here, or you can purchase one below.

How do you prepare for the coming cold and flu season? Do you stock up on any particular products or herbs? Have you ever made your own herbal remedies?

This post includes affiliate links.

Linking Up With: Mama Moments

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Dutch Baby Apple Pancake Recipe {Gluten Free}

I crave this delicious pancake. It's a perfect fall treat, and it's made of healthy ingredients, so you don't have to feel bad about eating it. It makes a wonderful breakfast, especially when accompanied by a glass of cold raw milk.

The recipe follows, but I thought first I'd quickly go through the simple steps to make this.

First, you cut up the apples in about half-inch pieces. Melt some butter in the cast iron skillet, add the apples and spices, and fry them until they're soft. 

While that's frying, whisk together the eggs, milk, and other ingredients.

When the apples are tender, remove the pan from the heat and let it cool off a little bit. Then add the milk/egg mixture to the apples in the pan. 

Pop the skillet into a preheated oven, bake for about thirty minutes, and you have a delicious breakfast!

Dutch Baby Apple Pancake

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 or 4 medium sized apples, cored and diced into 1/2" pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup rapadura or maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup finely ground almonds or almond flour (I used some almond meal from Azure Standard, our food co-op)
  1. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.
  2. Melt the butter in your cast iron skillet. Add the apples, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Stir.
  3. While the apples are cooking, whisk together the eggs, milk, rapadura, sea salt, and vanilla in a bowl.
  4. Add the almond meal to the egg/milk mixture and whisk until well-mixed.
  5. Once the apples are soft, remove skillet from the heat. Allow the pan to cool a bit, and then pour the egg mixture over the apples. Gently move the apple pieces around to allow the egg mixture to flow around them.
  6. Put the cast iron skillet into the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the top is golden.

The kitchen smells delicious while this is cooking!

This recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, From Scratch, by Shaye Elliott. I absolutely love it. I love the recipes, and I also just love looking through it.

Shaye's cookbook is full of "easy recipes for traditionally prepared whole-food dishes." There are lots of basics here, and tons of gorgeous pictures (my favorite cookbooks include lots of pictures!). And, it's part of The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle

In addition to this cookbook, there are several others included in the bundle that I'm looking forward to using as I make my fall meal plan:

It's only available for 4 more days (or until they sell out), so if you want one, don't wait too long!

This post contains affiliate links.

Linking to: Hearts for Home, WYWW, Raising Homemakers, A Little R&R