Thirty One

It’s funny how, sometimes, the words just don’t come.  I’ve tried to write this post a dozen times, approached it from several angles, scrapped it and rethought it and rewrote it again.  I have so many thoughts and emotions on a daily basis, but events (like holidays or birthdays) intensifies them to such a degree, and sometimes what flows from my nostalgia is easy and other times, it feels just as chaotic on paper as it does in my brain.

The irony is, the real message I want to get across is one of simplicity.  Because what I want out of this next year is simple.  My goals are not simple; further education in holistic nutrition, selling art online, writing books, hosting classes, frequent blogging.  There are so many roadblocks and challenges in my path, and it often feels like I’m exerting a lot of effort for very little return.  But what I really want….it’s not that complicated, and it’s completely within reach.

I want to say yes more.  I want to say yes to little hands asking to help.  I want to say yes to talking or cuddling or laughing with my husband even though I’m tired.  I want to say yes to friends who ask to hang out, or opportunities that scare me.  I want to say yes to one more book at bedtime.  I want to say yes to unexpected visitors or impromptu dates or homeless people asking for change in the parking lot.  I want to say yes to pausing and recognizing the beauty around me.

I want to say no more.  I want to say no to mindless relaxation that doesn’t actually refresh me.  I want to say no to the path of least resistance.  I want to say no to looking at my phone when I should be looking at my kids, or a book, or my husband.  I want to say no to the things that really and truly cause me stress and anxiety.  I want to say no to the fear that people are always judging me, or my house, or my parenting, and no to the way I let that fear shape my interactions.  I want to say no to the lie that my bad attitude will somehow make hardships easier, because it doesn’t, and it never will.

I want to be braver with my words.  I want to be bolder with the Gospel.  I want to be quicker with a smile.  I want to be ready with the Word.  I want to be loving with my actions, not just my words.  I want to be graceful and compassionate and empathetic.  I want to be concerned with modeling Christ before I’m concerned with the nuances of being a good wife, or mother, or friend.  I want to trust that the success of my life isn’t wrapped up in what I can accomplish, but in how I follow my Savior.  I want to pray, all the time and without ceasing, and not try to shoulder this life on my own.

Before my next birthday, I have 52 weeks to be industrious.  I have 365 days to wake up with joy.  I have 8,760 hours to use to His glory…whether sleeping or serving or learning or teaching.  I have 525,600 minutes to choose to respond in love, even if I’m tired.  Or frustrated.  Or worried.  No matter what happens, this time can be fruitful because time spent in the pursuit of Christ always is.

What I want to characterize my time as a thirty-one year old, beyond all the stuff that I hope happens, is choosing what is right over what is easy.  Hard to practice, sometimes, but actually pretty simple when you think about it.  I choose that this year, no matter what it brings, will be filled with joy, and contentment, and so much gratefulness for more time I can spend serving my God.



Challenge Week 6; Lemon Water

This week’s challenge is pretty easy, but it also comes with an addendum…I want you to make chicken stock again.  I really think this is such a vitally important part of a healthful diet, and having a good grasp of the method and confidence in execution makes the process simple and manageable.  I made stock last Sunday, then Wednesday, then Sunday again.  Making it once a month used to phase me, and now, making it twice a week is nothing.  Getting to that point takes practice, and I think it’s well worth it to have a few times under your belt before moving forward.

So with that in mind, I chose a habit to work on that takes little extra effort or cost.  To be honest, the only real difficulty here is actually remembering to do it.

Challenge… Before eating or drinking anything else in the morning, have a mug of warm lemon water.

Why?… While there is nothing I look forward to more than a nice, steaming, black cup of coffee after I wake up, I choose to have water first because of numerous wellness benefits.  First of all, water is hydrating.  Now, I’m coming out of a season where I was up multiple times a night to nurse a baby, and that meant I was frequently having water.  But now, and for most people, you aren’t drinking a whole lot when you’re, you know, sleeping.  Hydrating your body first thing with water (versus dehydrating it with coffee) is good for your system overall.  Warm water adds benefit to the digestive system, as it helps “wake it up” and get things flowing.  When your digestive system is ignited and working properly, it’s more efficient at flushing out toxins, which is also aided by the lemon.  This is not only good for digestion but can also improve other bodily functions and wellbeing, like skin health, as toxins and waste materials are being adequately removed.

When I did it… It took about a week of “ugh, I want coffee NOW” before I was actually waking up wanting the lemon water first.  Now, I even look forward to it.  I used to start to get a little stomach ache towards late morning, I’m assuming because coffee is acidic and can be harsh on an empty stomach.  I have definitely noticed, since starting with lemon water, that this has decreased in regularity.  It also seems to help me drink more throughout the day.  The brain works in funny ways and I’ve read some articles that indicate when you satisfy that morning “craving” for warmth and liquid with water, you are training your body to want water more.  On a more practical note, I find that I actually finish my coffee faster.  Perhaps it’s because my stomach feels better, in general, after some water, but I don’t experience the multiple-warm-ups, finish-the-cup-at-naptime routine I was falling in before, but rather, are usually rinsing out my mug long before lunch.  Naturally, I then reach for water, which just means I am drinking more of it overall.  When it comes to making it, fresh is ideal, but I often don’t have a good supply of organic lemons.  So I usually keep a bottle of organic, pure lemon juice in the refrigerator as a backup.

With so much to keep up with in the kitchen, with the kids, with the house, with the cursed laundry….keeping myself healthy and tended to can often fall by the wayside.  I’m a mom, and that’s ok, and I know that I will be making sacrifices for my family for many, many more years (and what a blessing to be able to!).  So I love finding easy, inexpensive, small things I can do to help my body and mind perform it’s best.  This has been one of my favorite habits to form in 2019 because of the simplicity and overall result of feeling better.

What do you drink first thing in the morning?


Challenge Week 5; Whole Chicken Broth

Chicken broth.  It’s a staple in our home.  You will always find some in my fridge, with a nice layer of fat hardened at the top, and if you don’t, I’m probably making more.  My kids drink it at every meal, I use it in almost everything I cook, and it’s, not surprisingly, the base of our weekly soup.

When I first started learning about the benefits of regularly drinking this home-cooked goodness, I made bone broth.  Even as my methods and ingredients changed, I still called it bone broth.  However, as I’ve delved farther into the terms and meanings, I’ve realized that what I make cannot accurately be classified as bone broth, but rather, is chicken broth.  The differences have to do with the way the liquid is digested and the kind of nutrients it provides; both are amazing, and both have a time and place.

For our purposes, today, we’re going to be making chicken broth.  If you are familiar with the GAPS diet, this is the type that is recommended during the initial stages.  Later in the week, I will give a bit more explanation on the reasons why this is ideal, but for now, I just want to get in the kitchen and get cooking!

I have an Instant Pot, and that is my preferred method for making broth (I highly recommend buying one…I use it so frequently!).  It is super fast and yields the most tender meat.  The downside is that it is significantly smaller than my stockpot, so I can’t make as much at one time.  However, while my stockpot can fit two chickens and makes at least double the amount, the method is more tedious, requires more attention, and I find the chicken to be quite dry and stringy.  That being said, you can use an Instant Pot, crockpot, or stockpot and end up with a super nutritious broth for your family.

First, you need a chicken.  I don’t buy organic chicken when I am buying breasts or thighs, but I do for making stock.  We consume so much of it, and it’s not too expensive per pound, so I feel it’s worth it.  I typically buy mine at Costco, but I watch at Sprout’s or Frys for special sales as well.


I’m disappointed that this chicken didn’t have any giblets (which is super ironic because I used to require my husband to remove them for me…while I wasn’t looking).  In the Costco chickens, they are contained in a long, thin paper bag that is stuffed inside the chicken.  It allows you to conveniently pull them out without having to dig around inside, which I appreciate.  Even if you aren’t planning on eating them, just rip open the bag and pour them in your pot.  I typically turn my chicken over to drain out any liquid on the inside, but I do not rinse it.  Then I place it in the pot.  I add water until it is just covering the chicken.  There really isn’t a wrong way to do this, it’s just that the more water there is, the less potent and gelatinous the stock will be.  I used to try to stretch it as much as possible, but now I am trying the approach that maybe uses a little less broth, but has it at a better quality.  I know that, ideally, your stock should have a “jelly” texture, and I accomplish that when I use a tad less water.


I don’t add anything else.  You can, of course….vegetables, herbs, garlic.  All will add both flavor and nutritional benefit.  However, for our family, we’re working with a lot of unknown or slight food sensitivities, and I prefer to keep each thing I make as “pure” and single-ingredient as possible so that symptoms are easier to track.  So for me, it’s better to know that the stock is 100% safe and inflammation-free for my kids.  It’s also really, really simple, so if you are just starting out, don’t feel the need to be all fancy and keep fresh herbs around and all that…just chicken and water is perfectly fine.  DO use filtered water.

Next, I add about a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.  Why?  Because it helps leech amazing nutrients from the chicken.  When you buy your ACV, make sure it states on the container that it contains “The Mother”.  While it may sound weird, it simply means that the vinegar still contains those beneficial bacteria that fermented it, similar to a SCOBY in kombucha.  That’s why it looks murky and has tiny particles floating around in it.  Might look gross, but so good for you.  And in this context, you won’t even guess it’s there.


That is it!  Using the “Manual” button, set your instant pot to 120 minutes and go do laundry.  Chase some kids around the house.  Take a bath.  Mop a floor.  You know, mom stuff. When it’s done, I typically let it release pressure on its own for about 20-30 minutes.  Then, I will manually release it the rest of the way.

Bam!  Cooked chicken, and a bunch of stock!  At this point, the chicken is super hot, so I use a couple of kitchen tools to remove it (it will fall apart, which is why the draining spoon comes in handy!).  I let it sit in the bowl for a little bit to cool so I can handle it.


When I’m not in danger of burning my fingerprints off, I shred the chicken onto a parchment lined baking sheet to freeze.  I take the leftovers in the bowl and dump them back into my instant pot of broth because there is usually quite a bit of liquid that has settled into the bottom of the bowl and I don’t want to waste it.


Now it’s time to bottle it up!  I prop my strainer on one of my jars and just ladle the broth into it.  You can toss the bones and bits, but even better, you can set them in a bowl to cool and then freeze.  Once you have a bunch of bones, you can make more broth…it won’t be the same, and it won’t be as potent, but it’s a way to make this stretch even further and have a fantastic cooking liquid for boiling or reheating that will be more nutritious than using plain water.  I totally forgot to save my bones this time (insert eye roll).


My family goes through this stuff so fast, but if you don’t think you’ll use it up in a week, you can definitely freeze it!  Just make sure to leave enough room at the top for some expansion so your jars don’t break.  Isn’t it beautiful?  When it gets cold, the layer of fat at the top will harden.  Just shake it well before use to break it up.  It will dissolve and add so much richness and flavor when it’s warm.  It’s also such a good source of nutrients and…well, fat!  We fear fat in today’s culture, but it’s a completely misguided idea and one of my personal pet peeves.  Our bodies and brains depend on fat to function, and getting it from pure, natural sources like this is ideal.


Remember all that shredded chicken?  Once it is frozen, break it up (it’s really easy!) and put it in a plastic bag to keep in the freezer.  It is SO convenient to pull out and add to meals.  It’s especially good in dishes like fried rice or spaghetti squash chow mein, but I’ve even just heated it in broth or oil and served it as the meat at lunch or dinner.  If I’m being totally honest, my kids will eat it frozen.  They are THAT weird.

What if you don’t have an Instant Pot?  What if you hate detailed explanations and pictures and just want the succinct directions?  Here they are, below.

Chicken Broth

Instant Pot Method-

  1. Defrost chicken.
  2. Remove giblets and add to the pot.
  3. Add enough filtered water to cover (do not fill past “MAX” line).
  4. Add 1Tbsp. of unfiltered apple cider vinegar (with Mother).
  5. Use the “Manual” button to set for 120 minutes.
  6. Allow to release pressure naturally for 20-30 minutes.
  7. Remove chicken and set aside to cool until it is able to be handled.
  8. Shred the chicken and spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Freeze.
  9. Pour remnants back in the Instant Pot to secure any broth in the bowl.
  10. Using a fine mesh strainer, strain your broth and pour into bottles.
  11. Refrigerate until use.  Keeps for about a week.  If you won’t use it, make sure there is room at the top of the bottle and freeze until you need it.


Crockpot Method-

  1. Defrost chicken.
  2. Remove giblets and add to the pot.
  3. Add enough filtered water to cover.
  4. Add 1Tbsp. of unfiltered apple cider vinegar (with Mother).
  5. Set to low (10 hours….great to start before bed and leave to cook at night!)
  6. Remove chicken and set aside to cool until it is able to be handled.
  7. Shred the chicken and spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Freeze.
  8. Pour remnants back in the crockpot to secure any broth in the bowl.
  9. Using a fine mesh strainer, strain your broth and pour into bottles.
  10. Refrigerate until use.  Keeps for about a week.  If you won’t use it, make sure there is room at the top of the bottle and freeze until you need it.


Stockpot Method-

  1. Defrost chicken.
  2. Remove giblets and add to the pot.
  3. Add enough filtered water to cover by about 4 inches.
  4. Add 1Tbsp. of unfiltered apple cider vinegar (with Mother).
  5. Bring to a boil.
  6. Once the mixture is boiling, skim off any impurities that may rise to the surface and discard (will look like grey foam or bubbles).
  7. Reduce to a simmer.
  8. Cook for about 8-10 hours.
  9. Remove chicken and set aside to cool until it is able to be handled.
  10. Shred the chicken and spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Freeze.
  11. Pour remnants back in the stockpot to secure any broth in the bowl.
  12. Using a fine mesh strainer, strain your broth and pour into bottles.
  13. Refrigerate until use.  Keeps for about a week.  If you won’t use it, make sure there is room at the top of the bottle and freeze until you need it.


Later in the week, I will be talking more about why I choose this particular method of broth-making and some good ways to use all the broth that you’ve made, so follow me on Youtube so you don’t miss it!

Have you ever made stock or broth before?  What is your favorite way to incorporate it into your diet?




Challenge Week 4; Kitchen

Our last organizational challenge!  This week we tackled the kitchen, which is where I spend a large portion of my days.  Having a tidy space makes all the cooking and cleaning so much more efficient and enjoyable.  If you missed my walkthrough, you can find it here.

One of the main difficulties in the kitchen right now is the fact that our dishwasher doesn’t work, which means all dishes are done by hand.  On top of that, without any drainage or way to clean it, the dishwasher is pretty gross on the inside.  So we basically ignore it and stack the dishes on the counter.  If I stay on top of them during the day, washing immediately after a meal and then putting them away right before I wash new ones, we can keep it contained to one dish-drying mat, which helps not take up too much counter space.  Still, we also stored fruit on the counter, and things always felt super crowded.  One of my goals was to have a space for fruit in the pantry.  Which, as you might guess, required the pantry to be cleaned out.


I didn’t do a super great or very thorough job, but enough that I can see what’s here and easily access those things I use daily or weekly.  We have always used the pantry as a bit of a “root cellar” and stored items there like squash, potatoes, and onions, but I also cleared a shelf for fruit, which I am really excited about.  (also, please note the pizza box in our recycling area….sometimes a week calls for an adult-only dinner after the shopping is done at 8:30pm)


The other big area of stress for me (like the total-exasperation-every-time-I-opened-the cupboard kind of stress) was where we keep our food storage containers.  Seriously, are you even a mom if you don’t have an area where plastic Tupperware and lids come pouring out the minute you open it?  I got it all organized and orderly and it felt so good.  I also matched every container with a lid and eliminated the pieces that didn’t have a pair.  Lastly, I fixed the cupboard door!  I broke a toothpick in half and put it in the hole where it connects to the cupboard before I attached the door, so the screw had something to grip.  I can’t take credit for the idea; my mom told me that my dad once did the same thing, because my dad is basically a genius.  I am so happy to have the door back on, regardless, and it has already started helping with the kids’ tendency to pull everything out.



The last thing is purely cosmetic… I had some little wire baskets hung in my old apartment and used it to store kitchen towels and fruit.  I really liked the functionality, but also the way it looked from a design standpoint.  In this house, the only place I had to hang it was above the counter, which makes it a lot harder to get to.  I can’t really use it in a practical capacity because of the placement, but I still like the way it looks.  I just can’t figure out what to put in them.  I would love some sort of plant or succulent, but obviously, the wire baskets won’t allow for dirt or rock.  I suppose I could just buy some “decoration” towels, but I feel like four baskets of towels would look bland.  Fake fruit?  A small potted plant?  Any ideas or suggestions for me?


And with that, we come to the end of our organizing!  I hope that you were able to make some progress too, and have found an impact on your day-to-day tasks.  I am really enjoying walking into my kids’ rooms and having things so tidy and neat.  Having a schedule and a place for everything has such an impact on my productivity during the day, and my ability to get done the things that I need to.  Cleaning stuff out has gone a long way to getting me in a place where staying on top of the housework is more attainable.  What are some of your tips for maintaining order?  In what areas would you like to improve?


Challenge Week 3; Downstairs

If you missed my walkthrough of our downstairs areas, you can watch it here.

I didn’t have a ton to do in these areas (unless you count dusting…there was a lot of dusting.)  We don’t keep a lot of stuff in the living room.  The toys are stored somewhere else, which I like, although I try to have most things in bins or tubs so it’s easy to carry over to the rug for the kids to play.  For the living room, I just did some basic housekeeping tasks to bring it up to speed.


The computer area was another matter.  The way we had it set up made it really hard to actually use the desk for very much, and it was crowded and difficult to keep wiped down.  We just rearranged that area, I straightened out the random papers, and we even made some space at the end for the kids’ little interactive learning desk (it was previously kind of stuck by the piano and really got in the way.)

Next was the bookshelf where I store arts and crafts materials, games, activities that require supervision, and some books.  Before, there were a lot of old textbooks on there that I’ve kept because I want them for when I start homeschooling, but I moved those upstairs since I don’t need to access them for the time being.  I went through everything and re-organized it and added some bins I had leftover from upstairs tidying, to keep things more contained.  The very top has “sensory” aids…kinetic sand, dried beans, and dried peas.  The next shelf down has some fun busy bags my mother-in-law made for the kids, and little games like Bananagrams and Memory (Teddy’s two favorites!).  Next comes drawing/craft supplies.  Those are all shelves that are out of reach and have the “huge messes would occur if the kids got into this stuff” items.  A bit lower, I have alphabet puzzles, a felt board, magnets, and a brown chest, which is Teddy’s “Idea Box” where he can collect fun and interesting things.  The books are ones that Evie isn’t allowed to look at (she’s an absolute monster and l-o-v-e-s ripping and eating books) and I wanted to have them separate from the cardboard ones so it was easier for her to distinguish.  At the bottom are the Little House books, which Teddy and I are reading through, and our Bible time Bibles.

Right after Christmas, I took a lot of the kids’ toys and put them in our closet under the stairs.  The kids would drag everything out and then whine and not even want to play with it.  I get it…messes make me feel anxious and restless, too.  Having only a few toys out makes it harder for things to become a disaster, which means the house stays nicer, the kids stay happier, and it makes the toys in the closet a bit more of a novelty when I do bring one or two out to play with.


It has been so nice to work through my home and really get in and get things placed in an orderly manner.  Life happens, and it didn’t take long for my bedroom to accumulate laundry, random stuffed animals, and tiny cars strewn all around the floor.  But because there aren’t also overflowing boxes and bins and chaotic, stuffed cupboards, it only takes a few dedicated minutes to put things right again.  I still feel like I have way too much to do and I still often feel like I’m running around like a crazy person just trying to keep up with everything, but having my home (slowly) become more neat and organized has done so much for my mental clarity and motivation.  I hope you are finding that is beneficial to you, too, and are enjoying a more relaxed environment!


Challenge Week 2: Kids’ Rooms

This week, I tackled my kids’ rooms.  You can see what they looked like before here.  Getting these rooms done has been bugging me for so long.  I love being able to access what I need to easily and have pleasant, tidy spaces for them to sleep in.

Teddy’s actual room didn’t need much work.  He only has a few toys in it, so it’s easy to pick up.  There are a lot of design elements that I don’t currently have the time or funds to complete that I would love to incorporate, like refinishing his dresser, adding art to the walls, and adding a rug.  But for now, it’s open and clean, and that’s what is the priority.


The closet was a different story.  The closet took up 98% of my time this week.  It was such a disaster.  So many clothes.  It wasn’t anything difficult, just a ton of going through, separating, and putting in appropriate bins.  I ended up with two full bags of stuff to give away, and I still have so many items.  We’ve been incredibly blessed by hand-me-downs! I used the bins I had and the dresser to store old clothes, and the clothes they will be growing in to.  I also hung up a bunch of stuff, since there is so much rod space!  I needed more small hangers, so my husband ran by Goodwill for me and bought 30 for about $4.50.  I always encourage buying secondhand if possible, and in this case, it also cost me about half of what I would have paid on Amazon.  I also hung up an organizer that used to be in my closet at the end.  It isn’t currently holding very much, but I like knowing the space is there if I need it.  All the books on top of the dresser are because our bookshelf broke and we haven’t replaced it yet.  The shelf up top is a bit difficult to use because of the ceiling slant, but I was able to store some small miscellaneous items on it.  I also have shoes (to use if Evie ever decides to start walking) and blankets in here.


Evie’s room really just needed a bit of tidying.  I’m not thrilled with the arrangement of everything, but it’s a bit forced because I don’t want the crib by the windows or under the vent (scorpions).  I got all of the “storage” boxes out of her bedroom and into the closet.  I organized the changing table, removing all of the infant items I no longer use for her.  That gave me space to add some bins (they previously had some art supplies in them that I am doing something different with) and arrange the cloth diapers in a much more accessible way.  Her clothes are stored in the plastic drawers.  The hanging organizer holds some headbands and socks. I wasn’t able to get the curtains hung in time for this post, but I will take a picture once they’re installed.  I am so excited to be able to let some natural light into her room!  I haven’t done it yet, but I am also going to make some curtain tiebacks for the kids’ rooms like I did in mine.


It is a huge load off my mind to have these rooms done!  It’s been so nice at nighttime to walk into such tidy rooms, including ours!  And I love knowing that there aren’t things stuffed in drawers or closets, but everything has been gone through and put in its place.

What is your kid’s room(s) like? What are your favorite ways to organize their space?


Challenge Week 1: Master

My first challenge of the year was organizationally minded.  While I want to primarily focus on diet and eating, a natural and whole-foods lifestyle admittedly takes a lot more time and preparation than one that can rely on pre-packaged or pre-made items. As any mom knows, time is something that we’re always short on.  From my own personal experience, we feel way more confident and capable when things feel ordered, and for things to feel ordered, they have to be…well, organized.

So, we are organizing.  And we started with the master bathroom and bedroom.  As is typical of me, it’s going to take a while to get used to all the steps necessary to document these things well online.  I did a live video on Instagram and walked through my bedroom and bathroom, pre-tidying.  I didn’t download it.  I forgot to take before pictures.  I’m three days late in posting this summary.

Live and learn, yeah?

If you were (un)lucky enough to see my video, you saw that my room was pretty messy.  There were random picture frames on a small bookshelf.  There was a ton of art stuff piled on a night-stand-turned-paint-drawers.  There was an ironing board in my bathroom that was doing what all empty surfaces do in this house…collecting an assortment of items that I didn’t have a place for or the time to put away.  In general, things were haphazardly stuck in cupboards and on shelves, and it wasn’t a very pleasant place to be.

After a week(ish) of hard work, lots of reminiscing (both my husband and I went through boxes of stuff we’ve had for 10+ years!), and so.much.dust, our master bed and bath is actually at a point where every single thing has a place, is where it needs to be, and is in such a way that I can easily get to it.

I started in the bathroom.  One of the issues I discussed in my video is that I don’t have any working drawers…in any bathroom in the house.  I’m not sure why someone designed it this way, because drawers are amazing and helpful, but there you have it.  It was particularly difficult to store makeup items and all the tiny little tubes, brushes, and compacts in a way that was convenient and accessible.  Not long after posting my video, I got a message from a friend of mine, Kasey Van Egmond, who suggested I use my tall, standing jewelry box for my makeup.


It was such a perfect solution, especially since I had a ton of extra space after going through and cleaning out my jewelry.  I was considering getting rid of the box because it took up so much room, but now it serves several purposes and prevented me from having to spend money on an organization system for makeup.



I’m a little bummed because the drawers are different sizes, and so they can’t be switched around, which means the earring drawers have to come between two makeup drawers, and that just irks me a bit.  Ah, well. C’est la vie.

I actually have quite a bit of space under the cabinets, which is nice to know for future storage needs that may arise.  Since I wanted to easily be able to grab my makeup by the mirror, I put the jewelry box next to my sink.  It blocks one of the cupboard doors, so I just placed a couple things back there that I rarely use at the moment, like breastfeeding stuff.  Next comes hair dryer/curling iron, some lotions and hair product, and plastic drawer storage that holds bobby pins, ponytail holders, and ribbons.  The little case on top has a few bottles of lotion or perfume that I super rarely use, but can easily access if I want them.


Here we have cleaning supplies…the pink bin holds rags and microfiber cloths for wiping.  Having this all right here will (hopefully) encourage me to give the counters and sinks a quick clean every night, which will go a long way in keeping things neat.  There are also some bath toys, feminine products, and toilet paper.


I didn’t do much in the closet.  The big giant mirror is still leaning against the door on one side, but it really doesn’t impact my day-to-day.  The hanging black shoe rack houses brushes, Q-tips, nail supplies, cotton balls, and other small things like that. The bins hold extra toiletries.


I haven’t received it yet, but I plan on ordering a hanging shower caddy on Amazon (about $15) to hold shampoos and things.  Like I mentioned in my video, Teddy frequently uses our shower, so I’m constantly removing the bottles so he doesn’t try to “wash” his cars in our expensive natural soaps.  It will be nice to have them permanently out of reach in a place of their own. My husband figured out how to fold up the ironing board, too, so I didn’t have to get a new one!



The sticky notes are verses and lyrics I wrote out and put there because I do that kinda thing a lot even though it looks the opposite of classy. Also, you can see bottles of makeup and toothpaste over in the corner, under the medicine cabinet.  Not for long!  My sweet Aunt Lori offered to get me more shelves for the cabinet through her work!  With it fully functional again, I will be able to store all that stuff in there in a tidy way and I am so excited about that!  My husband’s black box of toiletries is still that…a black box of jumbled toiletries.  I want to figure something out for that soon, but for now, it really doesn’t affect me too much, and so I didn’t stress about tackling it.

Moving on to the bedroom!  It was basically just a bunch of cleaning up and reorganizing.  I dusted under the bed and arranged things in such a way that I could fit more under it.  I wanted to get something nice to use as a dirty-sheets basket, but I went to Goodwill and couldn’t find anything, so instead, I just washed the sheets for the picture.  I’m planning to keep my eye out for something I can use in the future.


I cleaned off the small bookshelf and utilized some of the frames for art that I hung around our room.  The rest I put under our bed with some more items I hope to fill with photographs/artwork soon.



This was a fun find!  I wanted some little kind of trash can or bucket by my bed, and I found this tin bucket at Goodwill for $1.99.  It’s actually an IKEA bucket and is $7.99 on their website.  It’s missing a handle, but I don’t need one anyway.  I added a burlap ribbon I found in my wrapping paper stuff and it looks cute and rustic and perfect!


I cleaned off my art drawers and gathered some things to move downstairs.  The big tub of papers I tidied and put in the closet.  You’ll note that the cord for the antenna is still draped across the room.  Once again, doesn’t really affect my productivity, so I decided not to worry about it right now, and look for a solution in the future.


One thing I really, really wanted to beautify this space and make it a welcoming place was a way to easily pull back the curtains.  I love the blackout curtains for nighttime, but having a good view of the outdoors during the day is something that makes a huge difference to my mood, and these curtains are so heavy and thick.  I looked online for tiebacks and they were kind of expensive.  I bought a roll of thick white ribbon ($9.99) and some hook screws ($4.97) and made them myself!  I just sewed a loop in each end of the ribbon so it can be held by the hook.  I love this system because when they aren’t in use, they can just hang discreetly behind the curtain.  It was actually super easy.  They don’t look that great up close, but since they are mostly obscured by the drapes, I don’t mind.


The closet was quite a project.   I did some better stacking on the high shelf so it could accommodate more stuff.  Having the floor mostly cleared is something I really appreciate.  There are some things I’m storing randomly against the wall, but not too much.  And with it all cleaned out, I can roll my laundry hamper in the closet, which is so cool.  I went through my big box of craft stuff and rearranged it in such a way that I can easily access different items.  I had a ton of loose ribbon and used old toilet paper and paper towel rolls to keep it neat.



For gift wrap supplies, I cut a hole out of an old wipe box to store my paper in.  It doesn’t look very nice but it works.  I used these darling cloth bags my mother-in-law brought birthday presents in for items like ribbon and bows, and party supplies.



There we have it!  My organized room!  Honestly, it feels so good to walk in here now.  It’s tidy and neat, and everything has a place.  I’m determined to keep it this way.  With the open floors and cleared surfaces, things won’t get as “lost” in the chaos and will help encourage me to take care of them immediately.


How did your tidying go?  What was the most relieving thing you tackled?



2019 · Uncategorized

Little Steps

I’m an all or nothing kind of person.  I don’t say that as a brag…it actually works against me, more often than not.  The gesture has to be big, or it’s not worth it.  It has to be total and consuming, or it isn’t admirable.  If it can’t be perfect, why waste time?

The obvious problem with this perspective is that nothing is perfect.  Even with the most ideal of circumstances, I’m going to mess up, because I am a human.  And as a mother, and a wife, and a person who has to pay bills and taxes and deal with home ownership issues, I’m never working in ideal circumstances.  Usually, my situation is more chaotic.  The funding is falling short.  The time is definitely less than it needs to be.

It’s not a failure of mine if the days are hard, or I go to bed at night without completing everything I wanted to.  What is a failure is if I let this discourage me from progress. I could list a whole bunch of cliché, inspirational quotes here;  We fall down so we can learn to get back up.  Strive for progress, not perfection.  But no matter how cringey these sayings might be, they are actually true.  Sometimes progress feels more like one step forward, two steps back, but that doesn’t give us an excuse not to try, not to learn, or not to grow.

When we discovered our son had extreme food sensitivities in 2017, we had to drastically change our lifestyle.  It was overwhelming.  So overwhelming.  But as time went on, it became less so…and less so.  Nothing changed in what we were doing, I just became more accustomed to it.  I don’t make bone broth any less often, it just isn’t as mentally taxing as it used to be.  I don’t make less food….goodness, we make….but it’s become second nature.  It’s totally normal.  It’s a habit.

So what’s my point?  I want to help you make good habits.  Not because I’m perfect, or because I have all the answers, but because I care about these things and I want to learn as much as I can with you.  Because I think that the idea that we have to be “experts” to have a say is ridiculous.  Because I think that we, as wives and mothers and household managers and co-workers and friends, have a chance to influence culture for the better.  And, as simplistic as it sounds, I think it starts with a tidy home and bone broth and elderberry syrup.

So join me.  Join me as I build habits in 2019.  Join me as I make these habits, no matter how strange they may seem in our Western society today, natural and easy and manageable.  Join me to talk about what you know and what I know and how we can make our families healthier and happier.  Join me to do hard things.  Join me to do valuable things.  Join me to do worth-it things.



I am all about new things…new years, new notebooks, new pens, new journals.  I love that feeling of a fresh start.  A blank page.  A (re)newed determination and the possibility of sticking with a resolution.  I’ve always been like that.

But with age comes wisdom…at least, that’s what I hope.  I’ve learned that even my most successfulness-minded and driven goals can amount to absolutely nothing if my circumstances become constrictive.  I’ve also learned that not accomplishing these goals is by no means an accurate representation of how successful my year was.  2017 was, to date, the hardest and most emotionally difficult year of my life.  It was also a year of incredible growth and immense learning.  Enjoyable?  No.  Goal-reaching?  HAHAHA.  No.  Good?  Yes.

So in 2018, I decided to pick a word, instead, that I wanted to focus on throughout my year.  A word that would encompass an attitude that could be applied whether or not I had the time, capacity, or resources to pursue my other goals or not.  I picked the word intentional.  So much of my life has been spent doing and saying and choosing without actually thinking.  I wanted to truly consider every single aspect of my life.  Was it worthy?  Was it wise?  Was it efficient?  Was it edifying?  I wanted all my choices to have meaning and merit.

I didn’t perfect it, obviously.  I will never reach a point where I will stop pursuing intentionality.   But this year was hugely eye-opening as I began to call to account so much of my life.  In a lot of ways, it made me feel even worse about my choices…once I began considering them, a lot of pride and foolishness was exposed.  In other ways, I look back and see growth…more time spent listening, more books read to my children, more times that I said “yes” instead of “no”, more nights spent tidying and more meals thought out.  It was also a year of doing hard, brave things…things I haven’t done in years.  As I self-analyze, I see a trend of fear and pride that has influenced almost every area of my person.  If I don’t try, I can’t fail.  And so I’ve spent my life not trying…not trying to create, not trying to get better, not trying to look nice.  I began this year not having done art in any meaningful or consistent capacity since college (perspective…I graduated in 2011).  I end this year having greatly improved my typography and having actually sold a few pieces.  I have developed better habits that improve my mental health and relaxation.  I am learning how to wear makeup like an adult.  I’m getting better at considering my options and making the most worthwhile choice, one unaffected by what I think others will want or expect, but influenced mainly by how it equips me to do my duties…as a wife, as a mother, and as a Christ-follower.

This year, my word is abide.  Abide.  Abide means to “remain stable” or “continue in place”, according to the online Merriam-Webster dictionary.  When I hear the word abide, it makes me think of drawing close and staying near, immovable.  It makes me think of eliminating anything external and being all in.

What does that mean for me?  I want to be present.  In every moment.  I think a huge blessing…and struggle…for us, especially as moms, is the pull to multitask.  Indeed, a certain level of multitasking is necessary.  You can’t be like, “Hey, kids, just freeze for a bit while I clean this bathroom.  Cool?  Cool.”  If you don’t have one ear out for glass clinking or something crashing or, heaven forbid, that dreaded sound of silence, you will have a clean bathroom and an absolute disaster somewhere else.  But I think that this necessary skill can be taken too far.  I know that it’s a personal struggle of mine.  Take the kids outside and try to get an Instagram post in at the same time.  Feed the kids breakfast while also making sure the budget looks like it should.  Have Bible time but also check the weather.  Fold laundry but also check Facebook every couple of minutes.  Play with the kids while trying to menu plan.

I’m not abiding.  I’m not investing in my task at the moment.  I’m multi-tasking to the point of a spastic, disjointed schedule that, in actuality, diminishes my efficiency and makes me feel less productive.  Funny how that works.  I think I try to cram things in and shove tasks here or there so I can get more done, but since I’m not dedicated to any one thing at any one time, I end up feeling unsatisfied with my efforts.  Instead, I want to make boundaries so that I can be fully present to whatever my duty is at the moment.  If that’s laundry, I want to tackle it until it’s finished.  Of course, my kids will always be nearby and a priority, but you know what won’t be a priority at that time?  Dusting.  Facebook.  Menus.  Instagram.  I want to block out time to spend with the kids to actually spend with them.  I want to my ears and eyes and smile to be readily available, for them, without any other distractions.  I want to spend some time organizing my day, thoughtfully considering what to do and when, so that I can be confident that each task has a place and a time, and I won’t be frantically trying to fit things in between other things.

I want to abide in rest, too.  I almost always feel guilty for not doing something.  My mind is constantly reminding me of work, or tasks, or surveys, or practicing, that I could be doing.  And certainly, I want to be diligent.  I want most of my day to be spent in productive pursuits.  But when rest comes…when it’s time for rest…I need to shut everything else down.  Have you ever dejectedly and exhaustedly sat on the couch to watch some TV and three hours later, you’ve watched three hours of TV and still feel exhausted and miserable?  I have.  My rest isn’t productive because I’m not actually resting…I’m sitting down while I beat myself up mentally that I’m not up.  At the end of the day, when I’m relaxing with my husband, or when I’m taking a break with the kids, or when I’m winding down before bed, I want to abide in that rest.  I want to savor it and enjoy it.  And I want to do those things that actually make me feel rested.  Sometimes that’s TV…most the time, it isn’t.  I find other things so much more relaxing, like reading, or gentle exercise…journaling or taking a bath.  I want to make the choices that might not be as mindlessly easy, but that help my body and my brain shift gears and take a well-thought out, productive pause.

I want to abide with people.  This is hard for me because…people.  I’m in all ways an introvert, and I don’t think that is inherently wrong.  But I do think that people…relationships…are not only important, but are Biblical.  I want to be with people without thinking about what they are thinking about me, or what I have to do when I get home, or hoping my kids aren’t, well, acting like kids.  I want to have the kind of home where, if I have visitors, I can be confident in the comfort and cleanliness and not be bustling around trying to fix things.  I want to be a Mary, not a Martha.  When I’m talking to someone, I want to look into their eyes.  Not to a list, not to my phone…in their eyes.  When I was a kid, we learned little phrases to help us remember how to display character virtues, and it definitely worked, because I still remember them.  “Attentiveness is showing the worth of a person by giving undivided concentration to their words.”  That’s not over-the-top.  How I act when someone is talking to me speaks volumes about how much I value their words.  I want them to feel worthy, whether they are my husband, my friend, or my three year old.  I want to abide.

So this year, I have goals.  I have dreams.  And I’m going to work really, really hard to make them happen.  But if everything falls apart and I don’t paint, or read, or walk, and my whole year is spent working and cuddling and cleaning and serving, I want to abide in that life.  I want to savor it.  I want to remain in it, physically and emotionally, embracing this beautiful opportunity I have to live another year for the glory of my King.



Oat-Flour Pancakes

Guys, I am so excited about this recipe I found.  So excited.  Probably more excited than my two year old, who gets to have pancakes for the first time in his life.

I am going to guess that I’m more tormented by his food restrictions than he is, sometimes. There is so much I want to be able to share with him and, usually, I can’t.  I try not to overdo grains, so we don’t eat stuff like this very often, but I was determined to find something he could have this morning, since Dad’s Father’s Day request was pancakes.  So I set about to find an oat-flour, no egg, sugar free, dairy free pancake I could whip up for Teddy.  And guess what?  I did.

I’m linking the recipe below, after a few personal tips-

  1. Need applesauce?  Peel and cube a couple apples and stick them on the stove, covered, with a splash of water.  Cook on low heat until the apples are tender.  A quick pulse in the food processor, and you have homemade applesauce!  Add a pinch of cinnamon or cardamom to up the deliciousness.  (a great way to used bruised or browning apples!)
  2. When you’re also avoiding soy and nuts, finding a “dairy-free milk” is a bit more difficult.  There are actually some pretty varied options, like hemp, flax, and oat.  I used oat milk for this particular recipe.
  3. These are thick, so try to spread them thin, and cook low and slow to make sure they are finished on the inside.
  4. I noticed as I finished making these that there was some oat flour collected at the bottom of my blender, so I’d recommend giving a mix halfway through the blending process to fully incorporate all ingredients.

So check out the recipe here and definitely make them.  Now.

The best part….these are delicious even without butter and syrup.  I mean, I’m assuming.  It’s not like Teddy and I are snacking on them before breakfast.