Sunday, January 25, 2015

Hallie|Birthday Celebration

 My sweet niece, Hallie, turned ONE at the end of 2014! But it wasn't until last weekend that we were finally able to celebrate the milestone with pomp and circumstance. I had decided back in September that I wanted to create something really special for her first birthday. After seeing this idea for a stove that fit over a kitchen chair on Pinterest, I decided I would tackle the project. After all, how hard could it be with all those straight angles. Throw in some hand sewn felt food and I was set. Little did I realize how time consuming this would all be...and frustrating to make up all the patterns. Of course, since it was for my one and only niece I kept stitching....including creating an oven mitt and apron to complete the gift. If you are thinking of doing this, my suggestion is just buy your niece a miniature pony or buy a kitchen and felt food from Ikea.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Pursuit

New year, new thoughts, new ideas, new adventures, new goals. January rolls around every year [crazy, right?!] and people start making mile long lists of goals for the new year. I think lists and goals are great, when they are done with an intentional plan in mind to execute said goals. Two years ago I made one of those long, lofty lists filled with new things to try and places to go. While I checked several things off, I didn't hit them all. When 2014 rolled around I decided to not even make one and let my motto be "Que Sera, Sera".

Enter 2015, I sat down and made a list. A short one at that, only containing 5 goals, all obtainable within the year, but all challenging. One is where I want to be financially when the year ends, one is memorizing Scripture, and two are where I want my health/athletic ability to be by year end. 

 I also decided to pick a word for my year: diligence. I love how Dave Ramsey defines it as, "excellence over time." It's not something that happens overnight, it's an intentional pursuit of doing your absolute best over a period of time to achieve the end result you desire. I know I have a bad habit of starting things, becoming overzealous, lacking patience, and giving up when the going becomes hard not as fun as I thought it should be. This is poor character in me that needs nipped in the bud.

What are you setting out to achieve in 2015?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Homemade Granola Bars//Basic Recipe

 I've been on the hunt for a granola bar recipe that I felt good about starting my day with. This recipe is just that, and is able to have so many variations to fit those with diet restrictions. It's also a very basic recipe with a lot of wiggle room to play around with. 

Basic Granola Bar Recipe:

2 cups oats
2 cups of whatever nuts/seeds/chocolate chips/dried fruit. I used roasted pumpkin seeds. But the skies the limit. You could even just do all four cups in oats. Play around until you hit a flavor you love. 
2/3 cup nut butter [peanut, almond, sesame seed, etc]
2/3 cup honey [go with raw...way better for you] 
2/3 cup coconut oil or butter
Spices to taste: cinnamon, pumpkin or apple pie spice, carob powder, coarse sea salt, etc.

In a small saucepan, heat together your nut butter, honey, and coconut oil/butter until melted together and warm. I'd advise stirring it and scraping the bottom to ensure it doesn't burn. . Add to your dry ingredients and stir. You'll want to add chocolate chips after this has cooled so they don't melt!  Press into a 9x11 pan and refrigerate for 2 hours. Because these need to be stored in the fridge, I cut mine into bar sizes and layered them in an air tight container making it an easy, to-go breakfast.

The first time I made these I used coconut oil and coconut palm sugar and added carob powder. I loved the flavor with the carob powder, think peanut butter and chocolate. Yum! But unfortunately, the honey is needed to bind everything together, so I ended up with a cross between bars and granola. The coconut oil was also too strong for my I used butter instead this time. 

I've found other healthy recipes that I want to try soon here:

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Life Update|November

Now that Ohio has gotten it's first real snow of the winter, we can officially start discussing Christmas! This snow blew in Sunday evening through Monday, and by the time  it was all said and done, around 3 inches had accumulated. We had a Sunday family dinner which was to include bbq chicken roasted over the fire pit, regardless of the snow falling. Coveralls on, I manned the fire, gladly inhaling the scent of meat roasting and enjoying the new silence brought on by the snow.

Monday morning started off with a blanket of snow and a two hour delay for school, which for me translates into the same hours I normally work. I headed out and as I pulled in front of our building, I get a call from my "Aunt" Shawna that school just closed and did I want to go get coffee. And that is how I had my first official snow day of my entire life. #homeschoolproblems Though, hopefully the next one will be called before I leave my house. ha.

I've been working on gathering and creating Christmas gifts since September, and thankfully, I'm getting closed to being finished! Between two classrooms of kindergarteners and preschoolers, there are 44 students I wanted make sure I had Christmas presents for. A little Pinterest browsing for ideas, and wa-la, Kool Aid play dough kits came to life...for around $0.60 a kit. Can not beat that price, and hopefully it'll be something fun for them to get to make over Christmas break. These would also be great birthday party favors, or just an inexpensive way to bless some little people in your life.

 Found these and other darling treat bags at Jo-Ann Fabrics.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Fall Around the Farm

Ohio may not be quite as amazing as New England's autumn beauty, but most years, we hold our own with vibrant shades of orange, red, and golden yellow dotting our land. I've loved watching the transformation of our trees as we've somehow crept into mid October already. Before we know it, the first flurries with be flying and Christmas festivities will commence. Until then, I'm going to finish enjoying the crisp autumn air and savoring the joys of this season.

Two weeks ago we got 2 new babies on the farm, and being freshly weened, they spent their first week bawling for their momma. I went out one afternoon to start getting acquainted with them, but much like the others they weren't particularly interested in me. Only one of the steers has been named, Brutus, and the other four steers and two heifers remain nameless. Since the heifers will be around the longest, I've suggested naming them. It's a shame they are my brother's or I'd have named them Beatrice and Henrietta, or Lucy and Ethel, or something else along those lines. As you can imagine he always vetoes my great suggestions. ;)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Honey-Lime Sweet Potato, Black bean & Corn Tacos

For starters, is that not the longest recipe name you've ever heard of? At that rate, they may as well have listed the rest of the ingredients in these delicious tacos! I found this recipe a week or so ago, on Pinterest, go figure....and decided to actually make them.

I was the only one really excited about trying them. Mom and dad both agreed they were good. Morgan ate one little piece of sweet potato and could taste too much onion. Jared wouldn't even try. My cousin stopped in, tried and liked them. Hallie wished she could have one. And I, personally thought they were delicious and super simple to make.

Recipe can be found on Cooking Classy's website. I omitted the fresh cilantro and coriander since we had neither ingredient. Served them on warm corn tortillas with avocado and lime juice. I almost tried making my own corn tortillas...but I wasn't feeling it.

 Eating the sweet potatoes just like this would be great too! They have an awesome kick to them.
 We love having Hallie & Morgan over for dinner on nights when Caleb is working late at Cedarville University!

Life has stayed busy lately! Work, babysitting a variety of kiddos, working on planning Hallie girl's 1st birthday in December, hikes with friends, spending time in the kitchen, and enjoying this awesome fall weather God has provided us with! Planning on still posting my recipe for crock pot yogurt and overnight oats soon! The last batch of yogurt flopped, so I was a little disappointed and never got around to posting the recipe that is normally fail proof! Soon though!

Monday, September 29, 2014

For Sale!

Hey blog readers! I just wanted to alert you to the Instagram closet sale that will be taking place THIS afternoon. My sweet sister and I have gone through our closet to make room for some new clothes and we need to say goodbye to some items. We've seen the success and fun others have had with these pop up sales, so we've decided to give it a go too! We've created a special Instagram just for this, which is @mandoclosetsale. We're going live around 3:30pm eastern time THIS (9.29.14) afternoon. Go ahead and follow and check out the rules of how it all works.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Health, Fitness Goals, & What Not To Eat....

For several years now, I have loved learning about healthy, natural living. This past spring I became a certified personal trainer, with a slight interest in working in the fitness industry, but mostly for my own knowledge and desire to learn more [and I felt like it was something the Lord was nudging me to do]. The interesting thing about the health and fitness world is the vastness of opinions on food, exercise, and supplements. Healthy recipes, exercise routines, homemade remedies, etc. fill the internet and book stores, easily accessible to all, making it a popular topic to discuss (and debate).

 Do you ever feel overwhelmed with what to eat or what not to eat? Some say yes to raw honey and pure maple syrup, some say only pure stevia extract. Yes to grains, no to grains, only soaked grains. Full fat dairy, low fat dairy, no dairy. Limitless fruits and veggies, limit fruits. Naturally raised meat, selective meat, no meat. No butter, lots of butter. Olive oil on everything, non heated olive oil. It is SO confusing! My theory on it all is...go with what works for your body if it is real food. Real food being food that is as close to it's original form as possible. I'm not a food purest, I don't eat real food 100% of the time. But boy, I try really hard least breakfast and lunch since I do still live at home and I am not in charge of dinner...which I will say, is normally pretty healthy too.

The past year and a half I've been on a quest to straighten out some hormonal issues I have, specifically thyroid and pituitary, potentially others since they all tie together [and let's be real, it could also be a deficiency of some sort too or a combo of things]. I go to a natural chiropractor that has been working with me to get this figured out.Currently we are on an uphill swing, but it has previously caused me to just not feel like myself, and I wondered if I was imagining all these things. It was normal for me to feel lethargic most days, have poor sleep/insomnia, gain weight without being able to lose it, low basil temperature/constantly cold,  heart palpitations, brain fog, and excessive hair loss. I am currently taking a supplement for my pituitary because that feeds the thyroid and I wasn't noticing any changes with the thyroid supplement. Health issues can be frustrating.
 This past May my dad had a seizure in the middle of Lowes, the first [and we pray the last] he has ever had. After months of doctors appoints and tests to see what caused it, we found out he is hypoglycemic. Meaning his blood sugar can sore high, then crash dangerously low, which is what caused his seizure. The morning of the seizure he had decided that McDonald's pancakes sounded good, so on his way to the bank, he got some. For anyone, white flour with fake maple syrup on top just turns into pure sugar in the body. Maybe he wouldn't have had the seizure if he had eaten some protein to balance some of the simple carbs out, I don't know. About two hours after he ate his breakfast,  he was at Lowes with mom. They were talking to a sales associate at the time when mom noticed his head tipped back and his eyes rolled back in his head. With the help of the Lowes employee, they were able to lay him down and the man held dad's head as mom went to find someone to call 911. We are so thankful that he wasn't driving at the time and mom was with him. I beat them to the hospital as I had been getting re-certified in CPR/First Aid that morning and had surprisingly finished hours before I was scheduled to. Our diet has been tweaked a bit as he is learning how to keep his blood sugar balanced to avoid spikes. That's a little difficult for a man who loves ice cream, tons of fruit, and will often skip breakfast and sometimes lunch. He's also happy to have been cleared to drive again, after about 5 months of being chauffeured around by mom.It is normal for someone who has had a seizure to not be able to drive for 6 months after they've had an episode.
 I try to avoid drinking from plastic water bottles..I have two glass ones and a metal one I use. I also have been putting liquid chlorophyll [the stuff that makes grass green] in my water. It has several benefits.

I guess to tie this random post all together [blaming the brain fog. ha] here is what I do. I try to focus on staying healthy physically, spiritually, and mentally. I try not to stress over the little things in life and I make time to relax and do things I enjoy that destress me. Read a book, take a walk, organize my room [you think I'm kidding]. Spiritually I strive to be diving into God's Word daily so that His truths are on my mind and are growing, challenging, and changing me. Physically I exercise and eat well. Biking, running, and strength training are my go to's. I avoid sugar as often as my sweet tooth allows, eat butter in moderate amounts, oats for breakfast many mornings, make my own yogurt, eat fruits and veggies everyday, and always have a water bottle with me.The best thing you can do is move and be aware of what you are putting into your mouth, sounds simple right?

Coming soon.....

Homemade yogurt recipe & overnight oats w/ chia seeds.