Thursday, November 21, 2013

What our Christmas looks like

 Our Christmas looks a little different than some.
I want it to look a lot different.
Every year God is giving me ways
 - pushing me to change.

About three years ago,
we decided to forgo Santa.
We were struggling keeping our focus on Jesus.
Our kids were making lists.
Being good to get a big present.
We were budgeting and trying to only spend what we had in hand.
We were not being truthful with them.
It just didn't fit for us.
The kids were 10 and 6.
They didn't care one bit.

I used to place little knick knacks and decoratioons all over the house.
Now I feel like it would be cluttered.
I like simple.
We used to put up lights outside.
Now, we will wait until I can afford the nativity I have always wanted.
It will be lit with a single light.
Signifying what we are celebrating during this time of year.
Showing the passersby that we follow Jesus.
The dramatic impact he's had on our lives.

We decided to do our gift-giving differently.
For friends and family we focused more on homemde.
From the heart.
Things that mean as much to you, making them
   as they do receiving.

Our children now get 3 boxes to open on Christmas morning.
Three gifts like the ones symbolized in the bible.
Three gifts with a purpose.
Three gifts that allow for discussion of that Holy Baby.
The one who has changed each of us.
The only one who deserves to be celebrated this day.

One gift is the GOLD gift.
This is usually something larger.

Something they've been wanting.
We don't purchase a lot for our kids throughout the year -
 besides the necessities. 
This allows them something fun. 
It symbolizes the great gift we received in Jesus.
How big of a deal this little baby is.

Another gift is the MYRRH gift.
Myrrh is an oil they would put on their bodies.
Especially when someone had passed.
Some say this was symbolic of preparing for the death of Christ.
This gift is something for our children's bodies.
A new outfit.
A pair of shoes.
Maybe some jewelry.
A way to show their needs are met -
   our God is so good that we have the means to purchse new clothing.

Finally the gift of FRANKINCENSE.
They would use this as incense during prayer time.
They believed it helped them to be more spiritual.
It would bring them closer to God.
This gift is to bring our children closer to HIM.
To remind them throughout the year what Christ's birth meant for them.
To help them grow.
To help us teach and guide them.

This isn't for everybody.
How we do Christmas is not how you have to do Christmas.
We were struggling with how to keep our season focused on Christ, and this was what God showed us would help our family. 
It has,
   but I'm always looking for more.

This year, I think I'd like to pick up the new book the Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp.
She has a reading every day through Advent to really focus on what the season is all about.
It really focuses on  the events leading up the the Birth of Christ.
The amazing Faith of the earthly parents.
The amazing ancestors that gave of themselves.
Here is a something Ann put out to urge you to keep Christ in Christmas this year.
It is so very worth the time to watch.

I would love to hear what your family does - what traditions you have - studies you do to keep focused on Christ though the holiday.  The HOLYday.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

What's the big deal???

I don't want to be that girl.
You know that one.
The one that joins into some new multi-level marketing company.
That's all she can talk about.
How you need her product.
How hers is the best.
How it's a miracle and it's changed so many lives.
Even worse, how you can get rich joining!
You avoid her.
You feel like you can't be her friend if you aren't in to her product.

Here's the deal.

I have used essential oils for years.
I use them for homemade body products.
I use them for cleaning.
I use them for sicknesses.

Last year, I realized there was a difference in essential oils.
The ones I had been buying were not cheap, but they weren't the best quality, I learned.
I decided that I wanted therapeutic grade for my family.
If you google it, there are all sorts of articles on whether or not that word should even exist.
For me, it meant a company that took care from the soils, seed, plant, picking, and the type of distilling used.
It meant we could open up a whole new world of ingesting our oils without worry.
Here's an article I read about the process.

I reached out on facebook to my friends all over the US to see who had experience.
Seriously I was shocked when the only response I got was - 1 aunt was into it and one friend from high school.
I immediately asked all my questions of my friend.
For me, I thought that DoTerra and Young Living were equally aligned and it didn't matter much to me which one I purchased from.
She had wonderful experiences and answered all my questions.
I decided that since there was NO one around me to order from, I'd just sign up.

By signing up, I get 20%-ish off
and can add my friends orders to mine so they can share the discounts!
I can do an auto ship every month to earn points toward free products.
If y orders are around $200 in a month, I can earn a free promotional product or two.
I can sign others up and make a small commission, if I desire.
Most excitingly, I get emails every week about the amazing products and their benefits.

I have no desire to start a business.
I don't want to "talk" my friends into this brand.
I for SURE don't want my friends to sign up for my benefit.
I do want to teach others.
I do want to pass on what works for my family to my friends.
I do want to do everything possible for my family to stay out of the doctor's office.
Whether that means herbs, tinctures, teas, oils.....

God created all these amazing plants.  It's all there.  They can heal us.  We have to know how to use them! ( There are many references to oils in the Bible - I do believe he intended us to use them)

This brand is expensive.
I decided that meant I could only purchase a certain amount every month and that would just have to be good enough.
I've made a LOOONG list of what I want to try.
I'm crossing them off as I get them.
I plan to pass along my thoughts in the blog as I try things.
Sort of a "review" so you can learn from our experience.
We'll be the guinea pigs ;)

For starters, if you're local and you want to learn,
we are doing a fun girls' morning the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
We'll make vapor rub, shower disks, and an herbal tincture.
All my oils will be out so you can see them, smell them, and learn what they do.

Let me know what you think about essential oils....

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Different sort of baby gift....

I told you we have seven babies coming in the next FOUR MONTHS!
That is a lot of babies!
The same thing happened last year.
Somehow, our friends just know how to "be fruitful and multiply" :)

One family is due very soon.
They are expecting a boy.
They already have two boys.
I couldn't imagine what they might need.
I know in the past they have cloth diapered,
so diaper wasn't even an option.

This took a little creative thought
 - and pinterest looking,...
But I settled on a hooded towel.
Everyone needs towels, right?

I thought this tutorial looked simple.
and it was!

I whipped it together in no more than two hours.  
I really thought the finished towel was cute!
I threw in a bundle of baby lotions and soaps.
I also made a set of booties and a hat.

I really like to include a gift for the big siblings when I can.
Especially if they are young
and can't really understand all this
new baby

What can you do for boys???
I settle on this.
It's a carrier for their little hot wheels!
They only took about 1/2 yard of fabric each.
I split a pack of hot wheels between them.
Cute, huh???

I think this gift will be enjoyed!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

ummm.... PEPPERS?

What do you do with this many HOT peppers?

We were graciously given an entire plant by a co-worker of Jimmy's.
I had NO idea what I was going to do with them.
I figured I'd just dry them all and put one or two in every time I made chili.
At that rate, this would lst me about 30 years!
Then, I came across this recipe.

We go through TONS of hot sauce.
For some reason, my family loves it.
The kids put Franks on everything.j
Jimmy uses a different one from Fronterra.

Definitely couldn't hurt to try!
I added about 8 big cloves of garlic to a quart container.

Then I added 5 teaspoons of Real Salt.
Next, came the trimmed peppers.
Green tops are OK.

Give it a lid and a shake, and it sits for 2 weeks.

Here it is after 2 weeks.
Make sure you open it S-L-O-W-L-Y and in the sink.
It WILL spray.

Whirl it up in the blender, and use!


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Project Day!

So, the kids slept in today. (that never means the baby - you know that, right?)
9am came and went...
10am came and went...
11am came and went....

By 9 or so, I had all their school work ready for them.
I decided not to get upset.
After all, it is their choice to have to sit and do school all day.
I'd much rather get up and get it done so I could play the rest of the day.
Not them.

I figured I'd get some projects done.
We have a baby boom in our life again.
Seven babies so far - all coming before April.
Of course I want a fabulous gift for each one.
Of course it has to be somewhat homemade.
I am slowly chugging away at each one.
Here's a sneak of what I did today.
It deserves a post of it's own, so that will come.

 I have to put down the baby gifts, though.
Christmas is coming.
I have a few (not too many) homemade gifts to work on.
Here's one that I finished up this morning.
It, too, will have a post soon.

I still had FIVE WHOLE pomegranates in the fridge from our produce baskets.
I decided to finally get at those delicious, juice, jeweled seeds.
The kids and I LOVE them.
They are so good!
I used to dread getting the seeds out and then picking from the white pith.
I watched this video not too long ago, and now I don't mind.
So much easier than even the water method.

If you saw my facebook yesterday,
 you saw that Arabella is teething.
Poor girl, doesn't have a fever,
 or is even showing much pain.
She is taking LONG naps,
 and today she has a clear runny nose. :(
I can feel her top molars coming.
Those are big ones.
I diffused thyme oil overnight.
I diffused eucalyptus during morning nap.
She takes a probiotic.
I have given her a small amount of elderberry syrup.
She's drinking broth.
Anything I'm missing?
I don't want her to get congested -
 or run down and a cold.

I'm loving the Gungor station on Pandora lately.
So much worship - and folk going on.
Today, I realized how much I love the mix of a rock band and an old hymn.
I had to listen to this one over and over!

Monday, November 11, 2013

I finally conquered a coconut!

Well actually TWO!

We received them in our bountiful baskets last week.

I use coconut a lot, but any time I've ever had one, I can NOT figure out how to easy get at the meat.
I've pounded and pounded and pried at that shell and only ever hurt myself!
Seriously - I've been injured in the act of opening a coconut.
I dread them.

Today, I cam a cross a video.

I thought - "I can do that!"

I used my trusty thermometer to poke through the soft eye.
I drained the juice.  Each one had about a cup of coconut water!

I then, put them in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes or so.
They cracked. Just like in the video!

When they came out, I hit them with the hammer and they cracked right open.
What didn't pop right out of the shell, I used the flat head screwdriver separated it.
Easy Peasy!

I peeled the brown skin off with a vegetable peeler and put it all in my Ninja.

I added about 4 cups of near boiling water.  Not quite boiling though - you don't want to kill all the good coconutty enzymes.

I gave it a whirl and it made 4 cups of delicious coconut milk.
I strained it in cheese cloth and put it in a jar.

The pulp left, I dried out in the oven at about 200 degrees.

SO EASY!!!!!

I also cooked up about 6 cups of acorn squash and 10 cups of pumpkin!
Looks like some baking in my future!

We finished the lazy day with dinner at HuHot.
Have you ever been?
It's delicious!!!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

What to do with fennel.....

I received fennel in my bountiful basket last week.
First time for everything!

I decided to make a soup as a side to something I already planned for dinner.
In case we didn't care too much for it.
Just in case :)

I chose this recipe.

Lots of yummy veggies in there!
Chopping all the veggies....

The pureed soup!

We didn't love it.  
It is really sweet and cooked carrot-y
I'm not a fan of cooked carrots.  
The fennel part was good though!
Arabella, on the other hand LOVED it.
But she loves anything.
She's like our very own Mikey.