Monday, April 29, 2013

More To Learning Than Reading, Writing, & Arithmetic

So, I promise that we will get back to sharing fun DiY projects with you soon, but this season of life has been more about rest and learning (and stretching).  ;) While we are always learning, I feel like this season of needing more rest is finally nearing an end with a much busier, exciting season ahead.

I am very blessed to be able to stay home with my four children. We homeschool. Right now, I have two in school; in the fall, I will have three in school.
To say that it has it's challenges is on some days, a big understatement. However, even on the most challenging of days, there is still no where else I would rather be than here, in our home, teaching my children and learning with them.

One of the hardest parts of our school is honestly me. That fact is a really hard one to swallow and even harder to admit but it's true.

Some days, my patience is far less than it should be; some days, it is hard to find. Some days, I simply don't feel like doing it and am tired. And most days, I feel inadequate; questioning whether they are getting it or not; questioning whether I have done enough. I want learning to be fun for them. I often don't feel like it is fun for them.

I want them to be given every tool and opportunity to learn and be successful.

As much as I dislike this and I mean, REALLY dislike this, I sometimes find myself comparing what my kids know to others kids their age. That becomes one more thing to make me feel more pressure and a bit a doubt. It also makes me put more unnecessary pressure on them, whether I realize I am doing it or not.

Here's the deal. I think most every mother, whether stay at home mother, working mother, or homeschooling mother, questions her abilities often, if not daily sometimes.
As for me, I am tired of these questions.

I was talking with a sweet friend of mine on the phone recently. She also teaches her children at home. We were sharing various things about this and she said to me, "Ya know Jen, there is so much more to learning than reading, writing, and arithmetic."
I know this, but man oh man, did I need to be reminded!
And I thought, "YES! Yes, there is. You are so right!"

This simple statement reminded me of the many reasons why our hearts were for homeschooling in the first place.

We want our children to learn so much more than simply reading, writing, and arithmetic. These are wonderful things and they are so blessed to have the opportunity to learn these things.
However, our hearts are for them to learn so much more; to learn about the Lord Jesus Christ, to learn His word giving them a firm foundation in this life, to learn what it means and looks like to love people, to learn what it means to be apart of a family, to learn how to care for a family, how to care for a house.....all of the practical things that they need to know to live in this world.

I want my little girl to learn what it means to be a godly wife and a mother and how to practically carry out these things in caring for her husband and children one day. I want her to learn how to be a lady and not just a lady, but a lady after God's very heart.

I want my boys to have time to explore nature as little boys should. I want them to learn what it means to be a godly husband and father and how to do so in practically ways that glorify the Lord and provide for their families.

I want my children to be free to learn and not be subject to any labels that someone else may give them.
Each one of my children are very different from one another. They like different things. And they definitely learn in different ways. I get to be here and learn the best way to teach them individually!

I want them to be free to be children throughout their childhood and not pressured into growing up too fast.
They are only little for so long and it is such a short time that goes by all too fast. I want them to be given the gift of being a child.

These are just a few of our reasons for our family.

The reading, writing, and arithmetic will come. It will click with each child when that particular child is ready. One day, they will just get it. Until then, what's the hurry?

Why waste another second of life worrying about when they will get it or the "what if's"? Why not just teach them what they need to know, enjoy that precious time that you get to literally watch them learn and grow, and trust that God will do the rest? feels good to lay the "what-if's" down and trust.

It's almost as if that is the way it is supposed to be! ;)

Enjoy right now, today....there will never be another day just like this one.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Growing Pains-They Hurt So Good!

How's that for a title? Hang with me for few minutes.

Let's talk about life a little.
Being a parent is super challenging, and super emotional, and super exhausting at times. But it is also super AWESOME, super rewarding, and super humbling.

It is the hardest job I have ever been given the privilege of doing. To be honest, I never thought it would be this hard before I had children. I had a bit of an unrealistic picture of how things would be. But if reality matched what I had envisioned then I would be missing out on all sorts of lessons, growth, and blessings.

Being stretched is hard and when you need the stretching, it hurts. But just like when I sit on the floor and stretch my tired legs out in front of me, touching my fingers to my toes; the first thing I feel is a bit of pain but very soon, the more I stretch, that pain turns into relief. And after stretching my body this way daily for a while, the pain begins to fade and go away until I introduce new stretches. The result is a healthier and stronger body.

Growth does not happen without pain. Ask my oldest son whose legs hurt from time to time from what we all know and call "growing pains." But guess what? When he has these pains, we stretch his legs to relieve the pain.

Our heart and our spirit are stretched in the same way. Without this stretching, we do not grow. Without the presence of growth, there is no life.
The result of this growth: strength; deeper roots of faith and trust in the One who is stretching us; a heart and spirit that is strong enough to stand when life is shaky.

How are we stretched in this way? How can we grow?

Let me ask this question: Is it important to know the right ways to stretch your physical body? Do we need that knowledge first before gear up and begin stretching? Without the right knowledge, can we actually cause our bodies harm? So we need to ask someone who has knowledge of the physical body and stretching? We need to find a good source for this information.

In the same way, before our hearts and spirits are stretched, resulting in growth and life, we must know the source in which to learn and gain the right knowledge from. The source of ALL life. The One who knows ALL and created ALL.
See where I am going with this?

Without the stretching, we are left stiff, hard, and in pain.
With the stretching, we will experience some pain but the pain is temporary and is followed by relief, growth, and life. We are not left in that pain.

I have noticed that I have been in a season of being stretched. It hurts because often when I am stretched, it is through trials and through seeing the ugliness of my sin. But rather than this season being temporary, it has seemingly been quite lengthy. I have wondered why at times. I have asked why at times.

And yesterday, I got my answer. I realized that I have not been going to the source as often I as need. I have been running through life, regardless of the growing pains, because life keeps going so I must keep going...right?

Life does keep going, but if I keep running through it when my body and my spirit are screaming "STOP" then it will ultimately result in pain. And if I don't go to the One who can ease my pain, well then, my pain might last a bit longer.

We often think that we are too busy to stop and sit at His feet. But truthfully, if we are too busy for that, then we are in fact, too busy.
As I said earlier, where this is growth, there is life. I want life. And I want it abundantly. This is what God has offered for those who repent, believe, and follow Him. Abundant life.

"The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." John 10:10

You see, if we don't stop to sit at His feet, to nourish and replenish our souls, it is much like a runner that though he is tired, thirsty and hungry, he just keeps running. His lips are parched and his body aches from hunger and exhaustion, but he does not stop. How long do you think he will make it?
Not long.

Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst."  John 6:35

My heart has been weary which has resulted in my body being tired. I have tried to carry the weight of so much and so many under the umbrella of compassion and love. While we are to bear one anothers burdens, we are not meant to carry the weight of them. We are to lay them at the feet of the One who cares for His children, the One who has already taken the weight of these burdens and sins upon Himself, the One who rose victoriously.

"Cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved." Psalm 55:22

I have tried to carry the weight of breaking hearts around me.  I have tried to play "peace-maker" all the while knowing deep down that I, in and of myself, can bring no one peace. I have worried about sick family members, lost family members, hurting friends, and all of the incredible darkness in the world that is causing hurt pain around the world. I have worried that I will fail my children as a mother and a teacher; that my sins and short comings will cause them pain and trials; that my failure to be the best teacher will harm them academically. I have had fear in my heart over things that I simply cannot control and really and truly, things that I do not even really want control over. I find myself stressing over things like the laundry, the house, what to cook for dinner, how to help this person or the next....and so on and so on and....

And I do this without really even realizing that I am doing it. It seems like such a long list to be able to do it and not know it, but I keep running alongside life.
I keep trying to be the wife God has called me to be; to encourage my husband and care for him. I keep trying to be the mother God has called me to be; caring for my four precious children, making sure everyone is fed, has clean clothes to wear, is learning what they need to learn, and then stressing over whether each one of them has had enough quality time with they really know how much they are loved?  I keep running. I keep trying to be the friend that God has called me to be. I keep trying to find ways to love the many who feel unloved.

Just typing this list is exhausting.

But it's true. And do you see the phrase that is repeated throughout that last paragraph?
It is "keep trying."
Oh my....I should know this by now! I should know that every time I try to make things happen on my own, in my own strength, and even with lots of love and good is going to fail at some point and everything will eventually fall apart.

"I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing..." John 15:4

I believe so many of us do this very thing, especially women. We do it out of heart that wants to do right and succeed but our efforts are actually sinful.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."  Philippians 4:6

"And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?" Luke 12:25-26

 "Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." Proverbs 12:25

I am so thankful for the good Word that I took in yesterday. I am thankful for the Lord's grace and mercy that He continues to shower upon me when I don't deserve it.

I am thankful that He came to give life and life abundantly.

I am thankful that He does not expect me to carry the weight of the world, or even of my little life and family.

I am thankful that Jesus carried it for me on the cross.

I am thankful that the Lord has invited me to lay these things at His feet and trust Him.

I am thankful that...
" your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." Psalm 16:11

and I am thankful for a precious friend that God gave me to share this last verse with me just yesterday, which also makes me thankful for the Lord's perfect timing. :)

So, today, I am still feeling some of the stretching but God has allowed me to see some growth too. It's the good kind of pain.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Clothes on the Floor - Confession

This morning I woke up to a text from a friend that I was going to get to spend some time with (one who has just recently had a new baby to round her family off at 6). We hadn't discussed the details the day before but she said she was coming my way because she wanted to get out of the house. So at 8:10 (Key was sleeping in and this momma didn't mind a few extra zzzs) she says she'd like to do 9:30! Ok, I'll jump in the shower and see you there. I did just that. Jumped in the shower got ready, got Keylee ready, and flew out the door. She had decided to leave all the kiddos at home with her hubby and take a few minutes to relax and have breakfast with me. We had a great time talking and laughing and doing things girls do. It wasn't a ton of time, a little over an hour we got to spend together but so full and a perfect start to this lovely day.

We parted ways and Key and I ran off to run a few errands that we needed to tend to. Once we got home and I got little bit settled down for a nap I made a potty stop. Why in the world am I telling you this? Because, as I looked around my bathroom I saw an unfamiliar site, some of my clothes in a pile on the floor. WHAT? Ok, so clothes on the floor happens at our house, but my husband and I are pretty tidy folks, so we do our best to scoop them up into the laundry basket as we exit the bathroom. But, this little pile of clothes meant a little more to me than one might think. To me it means growth. I know it sounds crazy but stick with me...

I maintain a pretty tidy house. Maybe not spotless or dust free but I try to keep junk put up and stuff in its rightful place. This, at times, has been something of an issue for me. I've never been able to just swing my door open to unexpected visitors very easily. If someone happens by and the house is a mess I tend to feel uncomfortable. As though a few pieces of clothing in the floor or an unmade bed might seal my fate as the worst housekeeper ever or give that person a bit too much insight into the possibility that I'm not always perfectly organized. Ironically, I've always wanted a home that people felt comfortable in, one that someone could just swing by unannounced and grab their own cup of sweet tea from the fridge.

Today, I feel like I am one step closer to opening myself up. That a few unorganized toys, clothes, or other misc around the house is just life and maybe we had too much fun today to clean up. That the next time someone stops in unannounced I might just smile, let them in, ignore the dirty dishes or the sticky floor; sit and chat and enjoy their visit. No, I don't intend to leave my dirty clothes lying in the floor as a tool toward growth, but I do intend to relinquish the thought that that my tidy little world is worth being closed off.

So, if you are around and would like to stop in, please do. Maybe you can help me grow a little more.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

An Artful Afternoon-Crystal Bridges Museum

We are having some amazing Spring weather here the past several days. I am loving it!
Our family got to completely enjoy some of this weather over the weekend. We took a little weekend trip to visit family and also visit the Crystal Bridges Museum. I have been wanting to go and take the kids but it is quite a drive for us so it worked out perfectly for this trip.
beautiful drive...beautiful reading material (A Homemade Year)....beautiful Starbucks treat :)

This place is amazing! The architecture is breathe-taking and the beautifully manicured grounds and hiking trails are equally so.

 We had such a great time. We got to see some amazing pieces in the art gallery and had some fun on the trails...until we got lost. Yeah, seriously, that happened. We plan to go back with more comfy shoes and a picnic lunch in tow for a day of hiking.
It was pretty cool to introduce the kids to an art gallery for the first time. They got see some life size portraits of George Washington which they thought was pretty cool since they have been learning all about him in school recently.
 And then there were cool pieces like these!

 Okay, so most people's responses to this piece seemed to be along the lines of "creepy". To be honest, it is a bit creepy, but only because it is so completely amazing! The detail and work put into this piece are astonishing. I couldn't quit looking at it and then coming back to look complete awe.

If you haven't been, it is worth the trip.
Hope you are enjoying this beautiful weather too!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Be Strong- Vintage Poem Wall Art

Little by little, I have been making some changes in the decor around our house over the last couple of months. I plan on sharing a lot of these changes with you next month.
For now, I thought I would share a simple way to spruce up your walls using vintage book pages, markers/colored pencils, and a frame. 
One of the things that I was given when my grandpa passed away many years ago was an old book of poetry that he loved. He actually wrote little notes in pen throughout the pages of this book. I love it.
And so, one day, when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do/change in our hall bathroom, I thought of this book.
I love art that is meaningful and has a story.
I love this book of poetry so much that I thought, why not have it hanging on our wall where I can see it everyday.
(and remember the vintage girl piece that I scored at a flea market....there she is!)
I simply picked out a poem that I really liked and that spoke to me and grabbed my fine tip sharpie markers and began drawing.
I chose a simple tree outline and then later decided to add a little bit of color with some green leaves and a heart with my grandpa's initials on the tree trunk. I also added a few brushes of a tea stained color stamp pad around the edges.
I really love the poem. It inspires me throughout the week. I seem to look at it and really pay attention to it on just the right days and at just the right time.

Be Strong!
We are not here to play, to dream, to drift;
We have hard work to do and loads to lift.
Shame not the struggle, face it! Tis God's gift.

Be strong!
Say not, "the days are evil. Who's to blame?"
And fold the hands and acquiescence- oh shame!
Stand up, speak out, and bravely, in God's name.

Be strong!
It matters not how deep intrenched the wrong,
how hard the battle goes, the day how long;
Faint not; fight on! Tomorrow comes the song.

I am pretty happy with the outcome. What do you think?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Cute & Easy DiY Notepad/Journal

I have quite a few projects that have been swirling around in my head for a while now and I am SUPER excited to finally be feeling well enough to begin working on them!

Last week, I worked on planting some flowers, cleaning up the yard, and planting our garden. Over the weekend, I worked on a few smaller projects; the kind that only take about 15 minutes or so and do not require much brain power but simply fun and a little creativity. I love these types of DiY projects for busy days when I don't have a lot of time to tackle the big stuff but still need to do something creative.

So, here ya go!
My Baby Girl and I got to go on a date over the weekend and do a little shopping. We were on the hunt for many things, but one of them was fun, crafty things for two of my nieces.
We found some fun things, purchased a few and then made these to add to their bags of creativity!
All you need is:
-white copy paper
-washi tape
-scraps of fun paper
-glue dots, photo mount squares, glue, something to hold your cut out designs in place

I took my white paper and folded in half lengthwise, then used my paper cutter (because I cannot cut a straight line to save my life!) and cut down the middle. Now that I have the size of my notepad, I can cut my card stock accordingly. I cut my card stock to be just a tad bigger than the white paper.

Once everything is cut, then all you do is fold them in half, card stock serving as the outer cover. I took my stapler and stapled (while folded close) right along the top edge of the notepad, three times across in a row.

Next, I covered those staples with some fun washi tape. Then I added more washi tape on the bottom too. You can't go wrong with more washi tape.....ever! ;)

Lastly, play around with your papers and create your chosen design.

The options are endless! You can make the notepads bigger, smaller; use different colored or patterned card stock, etc.

I think I need one for myself now! As always, once I get started on something, then "the swirlings" in my head won't stop!

Have fun!

Friday, April 12, 2013

A Little Friday Inspiration

I am pretty excited that it's Friday! The weather is looking to be amazing, the hubs will be home to enjoy it with us, going to finally get my garden planted, and even have a few DiY projects up my sleeve to work on.....finally!
I have SO been missing working on projects but life has been a bit crazy around here the past few weeks so basic necessities have topped the list. Who am I kidding, basic necessities have been very lonesome on the list and not always do they get a happy check mark lately either.

So, check back next week and I will finally be sharing some creative inspiration in the form of DiY's again! Woo Hoo!
But for now, check out some of my favorite blogs. They inspire me in all kinds of ways.

Under the Sycamore

A Beautiful Mess

Hope and Honey

the Jolly Goode Gal

dearest someday


life in grace

I would love to sit down with each one of these women, talk about life, share inspiration; all over a cup of coffee.
But for now, I am super happy to have their blogs to read. They are inspiring and encouraging.

Check them out. Get inspired. And enjoy this amazing weekend ahead!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Giving Our Best

Before I had children, my thoughts were more along the lines of things that I would be teaching them. Now, having four little ones, I am often amazed at the things that they have taught me and continue to teach me.

Their hearts are so pure. Not in the sense that they do no wrong because they do. But pure as in, not yet tainted,jaded, or hard, just as a child's heart should be; tender.

They see people differently, often the way that we should. They see the good. They see things for what they are, period. And they are compassionate.

They tend to give with open hearts and they give their best.
My littlest boy has been picking me flowers by the handful lately, literally by the handful. They are smashed, crumpled and usually paired with blades of grass and a few ants that have taken up residence. But they are presented to me with such joy, pride, and love....every single time.

He runs to the back door yelling, "mama, mama, see flowdas!" He hands them to me one by one, placing each into my hand until I have a pile of them. He is smiling the entire time.

This is his best right now. He has carefully spent time searching in the backyard for these "flowdas" and has picked each one until he has a bouquet to present to me. This is what he can do right now and he does it for me. So, I squeal with delight each and every time and his little face just lights up. I don't care what the flowers look like. I am just in love with his heart of joy and love.

He isn't worried that what he has to offer isn't good enough. He hasn't over thought it. He doesn't have anxiety about the flowers not being the right color or even having a stem for that matter! ;) He is giving with his heart.

Isn't this the heart of God? To give our best and to give it with a full, joyful, and loving heart.
Don't you think that is pleasing to Him as our Father?
I think so.

And so, another lesson learned through my children. :)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls

It's a cloudy, rainy day here today so cinnamon rolls for breakfast just felt right.
The best part about these cinnamon rolls is that I can actually eat them! I am cheating a tad bit because there is butter in them but there is no processed sugar or gluten. I plan on trying this recipe with coconut oil in place of the butter in the future.
The recipe calls for brown sugar but I used coconut sugar instead.
These are such a treat for me. They are gooey in the middle like a cinnamon roll should be with just the right amount of buttery crisp around the outer edges.
I sprinkle them with crushed pecans on the top because pecans make most baked dishes even better!
Are you ready for the recipe? Well, this is where it gets even better. I love homemade, from scratch everything and while I prefer to do things that way, sometimes the ease of a mix is what your morning calls for. I appreciate those types of recipes on those types of mornings. ;)

Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls

Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix 
Simply follow the Cinnamon Roll recipe on the back of the package
Coconut sugar
Add crushed pecans to the top before baking

Enjoy with a cup of coffee! I said, enjoy with a cup of coffee. :)
Isn't this the coolest?! I ordered it here. It just came in yesterday and I LOVE it!
I mean, really, how could drinking my morning cup of coffee get any better? How about drinking it from my "camera lens", yeah, better. :)

Have a great day!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

10 Things

So, I have been doing a lot of thinking/reflecting lately, on life, myself, our family, our future, etc.

I LOVE blogging. I love the creative outlet it gives me. I love that all in one place I get to do so many of the things that I am passionate about; writing, photography,making things, sharing my heart, etc. I love the people that I have already met because of this blog.

However, there is so much more to life than this blog and the whole blogging world. Blogging has provided so many wonderful outlets for people. It encourages and inspires and connects people from all over the world. But sometimes, it is easy to make false and harmful assumptions about the real people behind these blogs.

My heart is to be "real" with people, in person and on this blog. I never want to portray an all together, perfect life lived out within the walls of a magazine ready home.
I want you to know that behind the pretty photos and DiY's , there is a real person who messes up A LOT.

So, here's to being real!
10 Things You May Not Know About Me

1. I once played soccer. Literally, once. I played my first game in Kindergarten, fell one time and got a nasty grass stain on my uniform, ran off the field and was DONE. Seriously people!

2. I long to be an early riser; to be up before everyone else, have some time alone with the Lord first thing in the morning when all is quiet, get my workout in, get ready for the day and have breakfast started by the time my husband and kids awake. Most mornings, I am stumbling out of bed in a hurry to get the coffee going so my husband can grab a mug of it before he leaves for work.

3. I was a pageant girl; from 1st grade to my senior year in high school. I loved that I got to dress up in pretty gowns, have my hair fixed and be the ultimate girly girl. Pageants taught me to stand and speak with confidence in front of a crowd. Unfortunately, they also taught me that what I looked like was of the utmost importance and that is why people liked or would like me. So, my confidence was built upon a very shaky and vain foundation, rather than in the Lord God who created me and loves me for me....period.

4. I struggled with an eating disorder most of my teenage years and continued to battle self image issues and condemnation all the way to adulthood. I am free from these things now because of the Lord, but it is certainly my area of weakness. There are days that I feel weak in this area and the Lord is faithful to remind me of the truth.

5. My cousin and I once secretly took a puff of my grandpa's cigar when we were definitely smelled better when my grandpa smoked it! I have never forgotten that.

6. I smoked a lot of cigarettes in college. You would think that the whole grandpa's cigar incident would have ruined me. So thankful that the Lord got a hold of me and took every single one of those desires away. It was Him that I needed.

7. I cannot cut a straight line to save my life! It seems like such a simple thing and a silly thing, but it's true and has caused me many "do-over's" in the DiY world!

8. I used to want a picture perfect house, a nice car, and recognition from everyone in my life to affirm that I was loved and that life was good.

9. I now long everyday for the day when the Lord brings to life what He has been doing in my heart. The day that we sell most of what we have and go to the ends of the earth, taking only our family, the necessities and the gospel of Jesus Christ and His saving grace and endless love.

10. Patience is a virtue.......that I apparently do not excel in. OK, that I don't have at all MANY days!

It feels good to be real with you! And trust me, there's so much more! Recognizing the areas where I am weak and fall short, simply makes me realize my need for my Savior that much more. It highlights all of the areas in my life that He has transformed and made new. Most importantly, my weakness brings glory to Him.

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong."
-2 Corinthians 12:9-10

 What I also love about reflecting on such things is that it serves as a wonderfully encouraging reminder of who I used to be and who I am now in Christ. I am simply not the same person as I once was and I am so thankful for that.
I still mess up A LOT and fall short, but I know that God uses even those times to teach me, make me stronger and bring glory to Himself.

My hope and prayer is that I would continue to decrease and He would continue to increase in my life. (John 3:30)
I also hope that my short comings are an encouragement to others and to you. :)

Blessings to you today!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Spring is Finally Here!

 Pretty pink blooms suddenly appear on the branches...
little ones exploring the wonder of roly poly's...
containers around the yard are transformed into habitats for bugs and carefully watched after...
surprises in the garden of plants that survived the winter...
green, crisp...
aroma of rosemary...
basking in the sun together...
bringing new life to the front porch...
...Spring is finally here!

Thankful for the new life, cool breeze, and sunshine that it brings.
Enjoy today!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Random Friday

So, today's post is a bit on the random side.
There hasn't been much time for diy projects or crafts or creative anything around here lately. Upon my return from Texas where I attended my grandmother's funeral, I found a very sick husband and a mildly sick little girl. Once they were all well and our home was disinfected from that nasty stomach bug, I then began getting sick with cold/sinus junk. So early to bed it's been for me.

By the way, I shared the other day how I deal with my allergy/sinus symptoms naturally and after one day of doing these things, I could breathe again!

Okay, let the random begin!
 Trader Joe's! Why oh why don't we have one of these where I live? While in Texas, we stopped in for a few minutes and my addiction has begun...for Trader Joe's and also for these little golden nuggets of goodness!
This little beauty arrived on my doorstep this week. I have been waiting and now it's here and I can't wait to dig in! I was able to read the first couple of pages and so far, it is everything that I hoped it would be. I'll share more later, ;) But for now, you can go visit the gal behind this little lovely here.
I got my essential oils intro kit in this week too! Woo hoo! I am really excited about this. I have read up on essential oils before. I know the health benefits and I fully believe that they work. However, it is quite an investment to begin using essential oils especially when your goal is to replace other forms of medicine, etc in your home with these oils. I never knew anyone personally that had been using the oils either and as much as I read and believed, I think I just needed that testimony from a friend in order to dive in.
Recently, a handful of ladies that I know and call friends, have begun using these oils and a few of them, even selling them too. I was really excited to find this out!

So, what I am starting with is the doTERRA Introductory kit which includes a bottle of lemon, lavender, and peppermint. I also ordered an oil blend called Past Tense which is supposed to be amazing for headaches and a bottle of Slim and Sassy, which is supposed to help rev up your metabolism and shed some pounds.

My good friend Amy let me try out some Past Tense one day and within in 15 minutes, the headache that I had already had for a day and a half, was gone! That was enough for me to order my own bottle.

The Slim and Sassy....I felt kind of silly ordering this bottle. However, after almost of a year of giving up gluten, dairy, sugar and exercising regularly, I still have 10-15 more pounds to lose. I have lost 30 pounds, but that last 10-15 is being extremely stubborn so I figured it was worth a try!
I'll keep you posted! Until then, you can learn more about doTERRA oils here.

And I will leave you with this.
Happy Friday!!!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Kitchen Table Idea Board

Ok friends. I'm going to redo my kitchen table. We've looked around for a new one and I can't seem to find one I want to pay good money for. So instead we've gotten some new chairs and I'm going to repaint the table. The chairs that came with the table are top heavy and not very comfortable so they needed to go (the tall ladder back chairs). We got the set with a matching buffet at a yard sale for a steal...$150. is the table and chairs (the buffet is another project altogether):

Here are some ideas...

Do you have any ideas for me? Share your thoughts.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Soothing Spring Allergies/Sinuses Naturally

Spring and I have always had a love-hate sort of relationship. I love when the flowers and the trees start blooming and the birds begin chirping outside my window. I love the cool breeze in the morning and in the evening with the warmth of the sun in between.
I don't so much like the fact that as soon as that very first bloom appears, my body feels it. I start sneezing, my eyes begin to feel heavy, my head feels full, and then it happens....I can no longer breathe through my nose!

Now, I will say that these symptoms do not arise near as often as they did before I began eating clean (no gluten, dairy, sugar or processed foods). However, they do still show their ugliness more than I would like. As in this week, right now, I cannot breathe.

So, based on the assumption that many others are probably experiencing similar things right now, I thought I would share a few natural ways that help me during this season.

 Drink lots of lemon water!
The excess of water will help flush your system, keep you hydrated, and loosen up all of the junk in your head that needs to come out!
For more info on the health benefits of lemons, check an older post here.
It's so sad to me that we have been trained to immediately call the doctor and run to the drug store to load up on anything that says it will give us fast relief. I used to do this very thing.
Why not educate ourselves on the many natural ways that we can come along side our bodies to help strengthen and boost our immune system rather than continue to get sick and take medicine that simply masks our problems?
Now, there are certainly things that do require a doctor and some serious illnesses that modern medicine can really help. I am talking about the sniffles, stuffy noses, etc. Things that our bodies can handle if we just know how to take care of our bodies.

In the photo above, you see:
-BioAllers Outdoor Allergy- a friend told me about these and they have replaced medicines like Claritin and Zyrtec for me. Not only does this help my symptoms, but it is building a strong defense in my body against these allergens so that eventually, they do not cause my body so much grief.

Fenu-Thyme- LOVE this stuff! It works just like sudafed used to work for me-relieving me of all of the sinus pressure and helping to clear my stuffy nose. Only now, I am taking a pill that simply has 2 herbs in it and not a pill that is filled with harmful chemicals and dyes that are hurting my body and actually weakening my immune system.

 Vitamin C Powder- this stuff is the bomb! Yes, I just said that, but I don't care because it is! 1 little teaspoon of this boasts 5000mg of straight Vitamin C! I put this in a small glass of OJ or water and chug it.

Calcium Magnesium Zinc- this little pill helps tremendously in boosting your immune system and making your body strong. Read more here.

Elderberry Zinc Lozenges- I just found these at our local health food store this week and am loving them. Did you know that if you start taking zinc within 24 hrs of a cold, it can literally knock it out by shortening the life of the cold and lessening the symptoms? And these have elderberry in them as well. Check out this old post to learn more about elderberry.

When I am sick like this and can't breathe or taste anything, all I ever want is soup. So, I whipped up this recipe today for my lunch.
I knew I wanted something that had a lot of broth to warm my throat but I also wanted some substance so I added a small handful of brown rice noodles as well.
I also wanted something that would open up my sinuses a bit so I threw in spices such as: cayenne pepper, garlic, and ginger.

Soothing Sinus Soup
1 can of organic chicken broth
3 green onions- diced
1 TB olive oil
Small handful of brown rice noodles
1/2 to 1 tsp of garlic powder
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
*you can add more pepper or ginger if you want it a bit hotter.

Add your oil to your saucepan, toss in your onions and saute  for a few minutes. Add your broth, spices and noodles and cook on med-low for a few more minutes. That's it!
This soup hit the spot for me today. It warmed my sore throat and helped my breathe a bit easier. Perfect!

And now, I think I will sip a cup of hot tea. This is the Yogi Echinacea Immune Support tea. I added a bit of honey and enjoy.

Do you have some natural remedies for allergy season? Share with us.
Stay healthy!

*disclaimer- I am not a licensed anything. What works for me might not work for you. I am simply sharing my journey to better health in hopes to inspire and help someone else. Please read, enjoy and decide for yourself.