A Story Worth Telling

A story worth telling

A lot has happened since my last blog post and I figured it was about time I put it into writing.  I have a feeling that the story I am about to tell is going to be one of my favorites.  Actually, I’m sure of it.  I am telling this story for me, for you, but most of all, for my son.  I don’t ever want to forget the details because, after all, they are what make the story. Continue reading

Dream Chaser

dream-chaser

For as long as I can remember, I never really knew what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I had a brief stint where my aspirations included being a professional cheerleader, a waitress and a flight attendant.  All of those phases passed quickly.  As I prepared to enter college I realized that not knowing what I wanted to do was a bit of a problem.  I decided that I wanted to be a lawyer in the Army and joined ROTC.  About halfway through my freshman year of college, that phase passed, too.  It may or may not have been directly related to the revelation that military officers can’t date enlisted soldiers.  I mean where’s the fun in that?  (Kidding. Kidding.)  Continue reading

Joy Bringer

joy-bringer

As I continue my quest to find joy among the chaos, I realize that sometimes finding that joy is difficult.  When you’re forced out of your home due to a fire.  When you get a not-so-great report from the doctor.  When your business isn’t growing as quickly as you’d like.  When your child  waits for you halfway across the world.  When the streets are filled with litter.  When someone else ate the last cookie.  I mean it’s *hard* to find joy in those circumstances, right? Continue reading

Crazy

Walk on the wild side

We are a family with wild ideas (or perhaps I’m the one with the wild ideas and the rest of the crew just goes along with it.  No need to split hairs.).  One of these ideas is to see all 50 states with our kids before they graduate high school.  I would like to tell you that this idea came solely out of our desire to show our kids the United States and let them experience all this country has to offer.  That certainly is part of it but then there’s also the fact that we really want to see all 50 states, too! Continue reading

You are.

you are

Four.  That’s the number of months left before we send our precious daughter to kindergarten.  Now, its important that I be forthcoming with you.  In years past I’ve seen all of the “first day of kindergarten” posts filled with sweet words and pictures.   I enjoyed the pictures and then thought, “I just don’t see myself being that sentimental when my time comes to send my oldest off to school”.  I lied.  To myself.  I am here to tell you that I am totally going to be that parent.  Its inevitable. Continue reading

Make It Monday: Window Cleaner & Slow Cooker Caramelized Chicken

My Make It Monday series continues with more of my favorites!  I would love to hear what you guys think of the series so far so feel free to leave a comment!

Window Cleaner- for FB

First up- Window Cleaner.

In our house we have two little blessings and one furry pal (our first “baby”).  As a result, we have no clean windows.  At least no clean windows below the 4′ mark.  I have tried all of the store bought window cleaners and none have really impressed me by leaving my windows streak free (and, come on, if I am going to take the time to actually clean I want to at least have 2 seconds where I can admire my streak-less, dirt-less handy work).   After finishing up my last bottle of the store bought stuff, I found a recipe for a homemade window cleaner with three ingredients: white vinegar, water and lemon essential oil.  How easy is that?!  Here are the instructions:

Fill a small glass spray bottle halfway with white vinegar, add 5+ drops of lemon oil and then fill the remainder with water.  Shake before each use

That was it!  The stuff works like a charm and the lemon oil leaves my house smelling amazing.  It’s an added bonus that I’ll also end up saving myself quite a bit of money, too.


Healthy eating can be hard.  It costs money and, sometimes even worse, it costs time.  That sweet precious time that we never seem to have enough of.  That’s why I am a sucker for a good slow cooker recipe.  Fix it and forget it and it’s healthy? Yes, please.  This particular recipe, Slow Cooker Caramelized Chicken, is from SkinnyMS.  She posts a lot of really great recipes although not all of them fit the bill for our clean eating lifestyle.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup low sodium/lite soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 pound chicken breasts, cut into 1″ cubes
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice

Directions

Combine all of the ingredients in a slow cooker. Cook on low heat for 3-4 hours until chicken is tender. Remove from the slow cooker, lay chicken out on a foil lined sheet pan and cover with the liquid from the crockpot. Broil for 4 minutes or until chicken is caramelized. Serve with your favorite vegetables.

Happy Monday!

Make It Monday: SLEEPY CREAM and HONEY WHEAT BREAD

The very first recipe I made after digging into my essential oils was the infamous sleepy cream.  This cream was basically being called the savior of sanity for parents so I knew I had to give it a try.  Before trying the sleepy cream, our bedtime routine would last about an hour (on a good night).  We would tuck our blessings in and then they would pop back out of bed only to repeat the process a few times.  It was tiring.  For everyone.  So, what did I have to lose?

I made up my first batch and that night I applied it to the feet of both of my blessings.  To my surprise, no one came out of their room after the first “tuck”.  Could this be true?!  Well, I’m happy to report that this wasn’t just a one time occurrence.  After months of using this cream, a “bad” night for us involves one of our two blessings coming out one time.  That’s it.  I’m in love.

To sweeten the deal even more, this stuff works on adults, too.  My husband often wakes up several times during the night so he decided to try the sleepy cream.  Sure enough, he slept the entire night and woke up well rested.

Sleepy cream for the win (and for everyone in our house)!

Sleepy Cream- for FB


Speaking of recipes that are a “win” in our house, I need to share this one with you: Honey Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread from 100 Days of Real Food.  When we decided to clean up our eating, one of the first things this carb loving girl was in search of was a good bread recipe. I can’t tell you how many recipes I tried before I found this gem.  The 100 Days website, as I mentioned in an earlier post, is such a great resource for people wanting to move to a clean eating lifestyle.  Unlike many other websites that I found, this one actually makes clean eating sound manageable.  A huge plus for this busy mom of two.  So, without further delay, my all-time favorite clean eating bread recipe (adapted from 100 Days for those of us without a bread maker).

BreadINGREDIENTS:
4 1/4 c whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 c warm water
2 1/2 tbsp yeast
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 c honey

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Preheat oven to your lowest temperature and turn off as soon as it preheats.
  • Add your yeast, olive oil and honey to your warm water and let sit for approximately 8 minutes to allow the yeast time to rise.
  • Meanwhile, add your flour and salt to your mixing bowl equipped with the dough hook.  (This can also be done in a food processor if you don’t have a mixer with a dough hook)
  • When yeast has risen, add to the flour and salt mixture and mix on the lowest setting for 1 minute.  Then for 2 more minutes on the medium setting.
  • Transfer dough to a large glass bowl that has been greased with olive oil and top with plastic wrap.  Put into the oven (which should be warm- not on) for 45 minutes to allow to rise.
  • Transfer dough to a greased loaf pan, cover in plastic wrap and return to the oven to rise for another 45 minutes. * Remove plastic wrap, preheat oven to 375 degrees and bake the bread for approximately 25 minutes (including preheat time).
  • Enjoy!  (You’ll want a slice while its warm.  Trust me.)

Please note that my bread doesn’t seem to rise just by setting it on the counter, hence why I put it in the oven which has been warmed.  If your bread rises on the counter, you can skip the first step and just let it do its thing on your counter.

Happy Monday!

Resolutions

ResolutionsResolutions.  They’re popping up everywhere now that we are just one day away from closing the book of 2014.  I’m a waffler when it comes to resolutions.  Some years I make them.  Other years my resolution is simply to not make a resolution.  (those were the only years that I actually kept my resolutions)  Last year I sat down with pen and paper and made detailed resolutions and then lost that notebook about two months later.   I think its important to have goals in life and I do agree that it seems fitting to make these goals at the beginning of something–a new year, a new month, a new day even.  Without goals we can sometimes forget the bigger picture and stop striving for something better.  After all, there’s always room for improvement, right?

I still have 24 hours to decide whether or not I’ll join the resolution movement but either way I know that 2015 will bring a lot of changes to our family.  We are praying, God willing, that in 2015 we will see the face of the child who already holds our hearts in Ethiopia.  Our oldest child will be starting kindergarten and will continue to brighten our days in new ways.  Our youngest child will continue to learn and grow and amaze us.  In 2013, God called us to do something we had never imagined.  In 2014, we pursued that calling with everything we had.  In 2015, we plan to continue to follow His lead and hope that the world is changed for the better simply because we said “yes”.

Today, as I was browsing social media, I came across a resolution written by a girl whom I do not know.  I should clarify–she had almost 10 resolutions.  It was what she said next that got my attention– “and when I fail at these, my resolution is to rest fully in His goodness and grace”.  YES! I love that!  No matter what I vow to change/lose/gain/eliminate/quit/start tomorrow, God covers us in grace.  That isn’t dependent on me being able to successfully cross something off of my goal list.  That’s a fact.  Doesn’t that just make you feel so….loved?  Even safe?  Its okay to screw up, He loves us anyway (even with those extra 5 pounds).

While I’m still on the fence about my resolutions for 2015, I do know one goal that have: to be a better version of my 2014 self.  What about you?

Oil Feature: Thieves

THIEVES v1.1

Thieves.  Oh, how you have saved me.  You see all of those uses listed up there?  They just scratch the surface.  Thieves is another one of those oils that I make sure to have an extra bottle of at all times.  In fact, just seeing that the bottle is getting empty gives me jitters. This oil has moved mountains the last couple of weeks for our little family.  How, you ask?  (I’m so glad you did!)

sore throat: I woke up one morning and felt like I was starting to get a sore throat so I made myself some thieves tea and instantly felt better.  In an odd circumstance on another day, I started to lose my voice.  While this could be considered a blessing to some (that would be my two blessings), I need my voice.  I applied thieves to my throat and my voice came back…again, instantly.

runny nose and the common cold: As to be expected with two blessings in preschool, the days of the runny noses have begun as school is in full swing.  As soon as I heard the first sniffle and saw that little nose start to run, I applied thieves to those little feet and stopped that cold right in its tracks.

clean and germ-free: We’ve all seen the news and have heard about all of the germs floating around that we need to be diligent about.  As a result, I made myself some hand sanitizer using thieves oil to be proactive against those germs.  Unlike the other hand sanitizers that I used to carry around, my blessings could lick this stuff off of their hands and be unscathed.  (please note: I’m not encouraging them to try that)  I actually know what I’m putting on those little hands and that means a lot to me.

You’ll very rarely hear me say that you need something but, trust me, you need this little guy in your arsenal this winter.  As always, I would be happy to hook you up!

Oil Feature: Lavender

Lavender

Panic.  The feeling that you are consumed with when your bottle of lavender runs out several days before your new one arrives.  (please note: this is only a slight exaggeration)  This little purple bottle is my friend.  I don’t know how I survived without it.  You’re wondering why, right?

Before having children, I always joked that if I were to ever have a boy, I would need to immediately enroll myself in first aid classes.  My little blessings just so happens to have the most adventurous daddy in the world.  Oh, the stories that man can tell…and oh, the injuries he has to show for them.  I knew a little boy would inevitably mimic his daddy and let’s just say like father, like son.  Lavender is the go to oil for scrapes, cuts, burns and bites.  We have at least one of these occurring on a daily basis in our home and, as a result, lavender is the oil we use the most around here.

Here is the effect of lavender on an ant bite–the picture on the left was taken when the bite happened and the picture on the right was taken less than 2 hours later (you can’t even tell he HAD an ant bite!):

biteYou may not realize how huge this difference is but, without the lavender, Jay’s arm would have gotten redder and the whole area would have gotten swollen.  He tends to have *big* reactions to bites so this is a really big deal!

Not accident prone?  Lavender has so many other different uses as well.  I use it every day to clean my face and it smells wonderful!   There’s more, too:

LAVENDER v1.1 Bottom line: we love lavender and I know that you will too!  Let me know if you want more information on what these oils can do for you!