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Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Budding Photographer

My daughter is in her 2nd year of American Heritage Girls which has been amazing for many different reasons.  This year, her group is working on their photography badge.  Here's a sampling of what she's done so far.  I want to thank Cori Baughman for helping Allysha get her badge by being willing to be interviewed.  Cori is a great photographer!  You can find her at Cori B Photography on facebook.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Our Family Favorite Christmas Movies

It's a Wonderful Life

The Bell's of St. Mary's

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Samantha's Christmas

A Christmas Carol

The Nativity Story

Veggie Tales: The Star of Christmas

Kingdom Under the Sea: The Gift

Bible Hero Classics: A King is Born

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Celebrating Advent

(picture taken from Budget Wise Home)

I have seen some really neat ideas online on how people celebrate Advent in different ways.  The definition of advent is a coming into place, view or being; arrival.  As we move into December, we want to really keep our focus on Christ and what He did for us.  Here is a list of things we plan to do for Advent.  Do you celebrate Advent and if so, what are your traditions?  We don't have a fancy calendar.  We printed off pictures of the creche and wrote things on the backs of those pictures.  We then hang them up and depending on how the day goes, we pick one thing instead of going in order.  This helps ensure we actually get everything done regardless of what kind of day we have. 

Here goes. 

Our Advent List:

2. Read a Christmas story
3. Get our Christmas Tree and decorate
4. Make ornaments for the tree
5. Make goodies to take to neighbors
7.  Wrap gifts.
8.  Put lights up outside
9.  Draw and color a picture of Jesus birth.
10.  Go to a living nativity.
12.  Drive around to see all the Christmas lights.
13. Help a family in need.
15.  Look through all the Christmas cards we've received and pray for the families.
16. Write and send letters to shut-ins and soldiers.
17. Donate clothes and toys to Goodwill or other charity.
18. Make paper snowflakes.
19. In the evening only use candle light and talk about how Jesus is the light of the world.
21. Make a star tree topper for the tree.
22. Play with a nativity and have the kids tell the story.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Homemade Salad Dressings

I will be honest, I've had a hard time finding dressing recipes that I really like.  Thankfully, I've gotten a few thanks to my friends Kim and Jen as well as combining some good online recipes.  Hope you like them as well as I do.  They are frugal, healthy and yummy!

Ranch Dressing and Dip 
I think this tastes very similar to the ranch dressing from Logan's Roadhouse.  

1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon dried chives or 1/2 tablespoon fresh, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
milk or buttermilk 

1. In large bowl whisk together all ingredients with the exception to the milk or buttermilk.  This will make a dip. If you want dressing, just add a few drops of milk/buttermilk at a time till you reach your desired consistency.  
2. Refrigerate at least 1/2 hour before serving.  The more it sits, the better it gets.  

French Dressing:
1 cup olive oil
1/3 - 1 cup ketchup (homemade if possible), to your liking
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons white vinegar
1/4 cup water (or more to your liking)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

1. Blend onion first in food processor till finely minced.
2. Add in the rest of the ingredients and blend well.  Refrigerate till ready to use.

Poppyseed Dressing 
If you don't have the sesame seeds or the poppy seeds,  you can still try this.  Make sure to let it sit in the fridge a few hours before serving.  The flavor enhances tremendously!

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1/2 scant cup honey
2 teaspoons minced onion
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil

1. Mix all together and refrigerate.

Sweet Vinaigrette 
I don't have a name for this one so named it sweet since it is sweeter.  

1/4 cup oil
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley ( i used dried if I don't have fresh but not as much)
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Mix all together and refrigerate till ready to use.

I hope to find a really good Italian dressing as well as a Caesar very soon..

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Broken Heart, Mended

My mother told my daughter that we should listen to Hundred More Years by Francesca Battistelli, so we did with the new cd my mom picked up for Lyshie.  

The first part of the song is the way I feel about my Matt.  

"The future looks so beautiful and bright 
They can dance under the moonlight 
'Cause God is smiling down on them tonight
And she wants to stay right here
Make it last for a hundred more years"

Oh the memories of those first couple years before we got married and then afterwards.  
My knight protector
My comforter
My beloved...

The song goes on to talk about their baby girl and how she'll grow up, leave home...

Wait a Moment!

My goal is to raise my children in the admonition of the Lord and to raise them
to be a good spouse to their future spouse if that's where God leads them.
All this time, all this love, all this work
and in a few years, she may be gone.
The bulk of her love will transfer from me to him, her future spouse
the one we've prayed for.

(borrowed pix)

(borrowed pix)

My heart ached,
tears welled up, 
I couldn't stop myself from crying
and I am already missing her.

While trying to simplify my life a bit in general
I was reading a bit more out of the book
Plain Wisdom by Cindy Woodsmall and Miriam Flaud.
What a precious gift I was given when reading the words 
in those pages tonight.

"My fingers ached with cold by the time
by the time I hung up the last shirt, 
grabbed the clothesbasket, and trudged inside.
As I stood by the wood-burning cookstove, 
warming my hands, 
I looked out the window and across the field.
In the distance I saw a white shirt hanging on a neighbor's clothesline, 
and it reminded me that my son's shirt wasn't missing.
It was simply on someone else's clothesline - 
his wife's.
All his hopes for his future and his family's future
hung in the same crisp November air.

I had not lost a son.
His life was no longer under my roof, 
but it is in the same place I'd put it
when he was born:
in the hands of God."

(borrowed pix)
What good it did my soul to read that.  
Praising God for the time I do have
with my precious daughter (and children).

My prayers for her will continue
so will those for her future spouse
my love for her will never cease
and I will enjoy the time I do have with her
right here, right now.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Turkey Day Leftovers

Here is a stockpot that has the turkey carcass, onions, celery, carrots, thyme and parsley.  I also poured in the juices from the turkey then added in water to cover the bones well.

Here's a bowl of soup we had made for tonight.  When the stock was done I poured everything through a sieve and just kept the broth.  I threw all the dark meat into the pot and some fresh chopped carrots.  In a separate pan I made some basmati rice.  I don't like making it in the soup pot because all the leftovers become mushy.  So what we did was put a spoon of rice in the bowl, a scoop of cooked sweet potato and some of the meat and carrots out of the soup pan.  I then drizzled the broth over the top. 

We ended up seasoning only with salt afterwards.  This was lovely!  Just one of many leftover ideas.  I have more ideas posted below.  Have fun!

Pot Pie

Bone Broth


Turkey Avocado Wrap

White Turkey Chili

Turkey Tacos

Turkey Escarole Soup
Turkey Barley Sweet Potato Soup -

Turkey Hash - onions, peppers (lots of both) and salt to sweat out with a bit of oil.  also add in one diced jalapeno (seeded). very thin sliced potatoes in another pot with some diced garlic.  put diced turkey into veggies and cook.  put potatoes on one plate and put veggies on top.  sprinkle with paprika and drizzle with fresh lime juice.

Pumpkin Cheesecake With Natural Sweeteners!

Mmmm, Pumpkin Cheesecake with no guilt!

Baby loves it!

 Jon trying to make sure to eat it all quickly before brother asks for some.  lol!

I found a recipe online that was changed up from a regular pumpkin cheesecake recipe.  I did a little changing of my own as you'll soon see.  This recipe was fabulous!  I would definitely use less butter for the crust next time but that's the only thing I'd change up other than the changes I've already made that you see below.  I hope you enjoy this as much as we do.  It's fabulous!

Pumpkin Cheesecake by Miss Lizzy
1 3/4 cups ground almond and/or almond meal (I used almonds and pecans. I also added in some salt)
3 tablespoons honey (optional - I did not add this)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick melted salted butter

3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 (15-ounce) can pureed pumpkin
3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 - 2 cups honey (I used 1 cup honey, 1/2 cup maple syrup and then a bit extra honey to taste)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg (I used about 1/4 teaspoon ground (not fresh)
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
For crust:
In medium bowl, combine almond meal, honey and cinnamon. Add melted butter. Mix well. (If the crust seems too dense, just add a little more almond meal). Press mixture down flat into a 9-inch springform pan**. Set aside. 
For filling:
Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, sour cream, honey and the spices. If it needs more honey add more as needed. Add vanilla. Beat together until well combined. Note: The batter may seem sweet but it loses some sweetness in the baking. So better to add a little more honey to be safe.) 
Pour batter into crust. Spread out evenly and place in oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours.
Note: I had to bake my cheesecake for an extra 15 minutes or so, turning off the oven for the last 5 minutes.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

One Month to Live - Book Review

"Time once spent cannot be reclaimed.  Once an hour, minute or moment is over, it's gone forever.  However, we can redeem the remaining time we have."

The thing I've really been needing is true down time - time without the computer or making notes on what I can do/get done next.  True down time!  That will only happen if I make the decision to make it happen.  If you feel like you don't have enough time to have some down time - the reality is you can't afford not to. "A regular time of rest and recovery…" is essential according to this book.  

"…we're designed to require rest and to crave beauty."

Lately I've been in a season of my life where I feel like I need to purge so much of what we have in our home.  Most of what we have acquired has been free or very inexpensive.  I think that is one of main reasons why we have so much stuff.  Couple that with us being home educators with 3 kids and that also adds "stuff".  For months (even a couple years) I've felt the need to purge and simply our lives.  It's such a hard thing to do when there's so much we could join in our around us.  Co-ops, troops, art classes, sports, activities, etc…. Yes we're involved in some things but I like to keep it at a bear minimum.  If we add too much in our schedule, we run here and run there.  We end up being late everywhere and aren't able to even give 50% to one of those areas we're involved.  For that reason among others we're trying to simplify even more.  It's those times when we're in our home as a family learning and creating together that we have those special bonding moments.  I'm so thankful for that and pray we can simplify things even more.  This book suggests keeping a journal for a week and seeing what our time wasters are and then either cutting them out or cutting down on the time we do those things.  I already know my main time waster.  Now it's time to put things into action.

Matthew 11:28-29

" A ship is safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for."  
~ William Shed

When I first read that quote, it really struck me. Kerry and Chris use this analogy to ask us what we are holding on to that we're not willing to trust God with.  They talk about how we cling to monkey bars not willing to let go and let God catch us in the different areas of our lives.  The question for you is, what is your monkey bar moment?  I believe that for most if not all of us, that problem is fear. Oh how Satan uses fear to make us feel trapped.

Another great point in this book is, if we were told we only had one month to live, how would that change things and our perspective?  Would we loosen up and do some more radical things for the Lord?  Would we put down those things that hinder us and our relationships and make the relationships more meaningful?  I believe we all would do those things when faced with the possibility of close death.  The sad thing is, why do we wait so long to take any action?  Why can't we all be living so much more fulfilled lives?  The answer is we can, we choose not to.

Things that stood out that I can do now are these:
1. If I only had a month to live, who would I spend time with and what would I do in order to make sure I had good time with them.

2. Unload on Him; write a letter to God and tell Him how others have deeply hurt me leading to bitterness.  Ask for his help because on my own, I cannot do it.  

3. Diagnose each relationship you have and determine what you need to do to make it healthier.

4. Write down 5 different gifts you know you have, then ask family members to tell you what gifts they think you have.  Compare lists then find a way to use those lists.  Start out by praying to God to see what He'd have you do with them.

5. Try to take time at least once per week being still and alone for an hour.  No books, email, phone calls, etc…  Just stare out the window, take a walk, or sit somewhere quietly.

6. Look for those around me in most need and help them.  

7. Figure out how much time I spend in God's word a week and then figure out how much time I want to spend in it, and do it!  This is the one thing in life that will produce fruit even after I'm gone.

8. Find 5 people (not family or co-workers) that share my convictions and commitment to godly character.  How often do we see each other?  How can I encourage them and get together with them more often?

9. Make a list of 1 to 5 things I desire and be honest with it.  Take them to God and ask what His perspective is regarding them.

Sayings that I really enjoyed in this book.
The only people with whom you should try and get even are those who have helped you.
~John E. Southard

There lives in each of us a hero awaiting the call to action.
~H. Jackson Brown Jr.

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, "I used everything you gave me."
~Erma Bombeck

If you don't like something, change it.  If you can't change it, change your attitude.  Don't complain.
~Maya Angelou

Pain is inevitable, but misery is optional.  We cannot avoid pain, but we can avoid joy.  
~Tim Hansel

Guard the secret theatre of your heart.  See nothing there that you do not want to see happen in reality.
~Roy H. Williams

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.  
~Edmund Burke

My children will not remember the words of wisdom I've passed along over the years, nor will yours remember the good advice you've given.  However, etched in their minds and planted in their hearts is a permanent picture of who you are and how you've lived before them.  
~Dorothy Kelley Patterson

Though no one can go back and make a brand-new start, anyone can start now and make a brand-new ending.
~Carl Bard

For someone who has never really thought about the possibility of possibly leaving this earth in a month…this book is a great eye opener.  I would recommend this to everyone I know.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Gentle & Simple Ways to Detox

(Borrowed Picture)

Here's a few things that are easy to implement and can have more of an impact on your body than you might realize.  Especially if done more often than not.  There are many other things you could do but I tried to focus on things the average person can do without having to go out and buy a whole bunch of new foods and such.  

1. Drink lemon water.  Some people like to drink warm water with 1/2 fresh squeezed lemon.  I don't do well with this so I drink mine at other times during the day.

2. Drink chlorophyl water.  I get mint flavored from Nature's Sunshine.  It tastes pretty good and mild.  

3. Take detox baths.  This can be done by adding the following into your warm bath water.  Make sure to fill it up.  Make sure it's dissolved well.  Make sure to drink some water before, during and after to get the toxins moving out.  Soak from 20 - 40 minutes for the average person and rest for at least 1/2 hour afterwards.  Since I have adrenal issues, I use about half the recommended amount for about half the time.  I get sleepy afterwards but feel better the next day.
Detox Bath Ingredients:
1 cup epsom salt
1 cup baking soda

4. Clean up your diet!  Take one full week and eat only real food.  If you drink pop or coffee, cut way down or cut it out completely.  Make sure to get lots of fresh veggies raw and cooked.  Eat real butter, coconut oil, olive oil, meats (not processed) and fresh fruits.  This will give your body a chance to better filter out the toxins you've been putting in it from refined foods.  

5. Work on your lymphatic system by skin brushing or lymphasizing.

6. Go to bed earlier. 

7. Reduce stress.  Whether it's turning off your phone or computer at certain times, or simply taking the time to laugh, do something to reduce your daily stress. 

8. Spend some time in fresh air daily.

9. Drink plenty of water.

In case this seems impossible, here's a sample plan for a day.  I realize this may not work for everyone's schedule.  You can totally change this up to fit your plan.  

~ Wake up and drink warm water that has 1/2 lemon squeezed into it.

~ Eat breakfast within 1 hour of waking.  Start out with some raw soaked oatmeal (recipes online), eggs and toast or eggs and sausage on a bed of spinach drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with basil (Dr. Mercola).  

~ Drink some chlorophyl water and step outside.  Either sit out there in the fresh air soaking up some sun (vitamin d) or take a walk.

~ Get some yummy lunch.  Try eating a nice wrap of leftover chilled shredded chicken, greens, onions, peppers, sprouts and mayonnaise.  You could also make a yummy salad with the same items and your choice of dressing.

~ Do something you enjoy even if it's for only 15 minutes.  Read a book, watch a video, knit, crochet, etc…  Drink some water.

~ 2 hours after lunch, lymphasize if possible.  I start by getting up on my trampoline and slowly bouncing without my toes coming off the trampoline to start.  After I've warmed up for a bit, I move into some walking/fast walking.  Keep at a good pace and start out.  

~ Get yourself a nice snack of fruit and cheese, a fruit/veggie smoothie or a protein shake.  I like making a protein shake out of frozen bananas, water, nut butter and plain flavored whey protein powder.  Drink some water too.

~ Go ahead and take a nap if you've been extra worn out/stressed lately.  

~ Have a dinner of some kind of protein and fresh and cooked vegetables.  

~ 2 hours after dinner run a full bath of warm water and add in 1 cup epsom salt and 1 cup baking soda.  Soak in bath for 20 minutes or so.  Make sure to have some water on hand while bathing.  To kick it up a notch, play some soothing music and light some candles.  Lay back and relax.  Once you get out, get dressed in something warm and comfy and lay your head back on your pillow.  Rest for at least 1/2 hour afterwards.  This would be a great time to pull out a great comedy and laugh.  Laughter actually helps the body tremendously.

Now that didn't seem too bad did it?  Try doing this for a whole week and keep a diary on how you've done and how you feel.  Who knows, maybe you'll want to keep it up.  If you need help with Whole Food Recipes, check the right hand side of the screen for a free download of my cookbook.  


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Black Bean, Rice and Feta Salad

This is pretty yummy!  It tastes like the pasta salad we used to make in the summer only with rice.  And of course you have a rice instead of noodle texture.  That said, this is pretty yummy.  Next time I might use a bit less rice and more veggies.

Bean, Rice and Feta Salad
1 1/2 cup leftover, cold rice
1 - 15oz can black beans drained and rinsed
1/2 small sweet onion, chopped finely
1/3 pepper (color of choice), chopped 
1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup italian dressing
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

1. Mix together all ingredients and refrigerate till ready to serve.