Social Media: Where No One is Allowed to Make a Mistake

This has nothing to do with recipes or natural products, but I still felt compelled to talk about it. Social media has changed our society in so many ways. Nothing goes unnoticed anymore. No matter how big or small, every moment and incident is captured and posted for all the world to see. One of the most disturbing trends I see is the documentation of other people’s mistakes, flaws, and moments of weakness. I’m not talking about traditional bullying, which we all agree is wrong, but the desire to make people pay in the court of public opinion for whatever manner of wrong they’ve done to someone else. If someone is rude, you’re going to see a viral video of their behavior. If someone makes a poor decision, you’ll find it plastered all over Twitter, Facebook, maybe even the nightly news. Grace is gone and mercy is totally missing. I’m not saying that people should never be held accountable for their actions. What I am saying, is that there are other ways for accountability instead of ruining someone’s reputation, maybe even their life by this impulsive desire to see them burn at the stake. And most of the time, these are mountains made out of mole hills. We aren’t talking about kidnappings or beatings. These issues are usually minor, isolated, and most of the time completely avoidable. I’m sure by now, most people know about the incident between the owner of a diner and a family with a crying toddler. This was simply an issue between two parties at a restaurant. This should not be a topic of discussion all over social media and it certainly shouldn’t be national news! There are total strangers arguing in the comment sections of various websites about the parenting skills of the child’s mom and dad. None of them even know these people or were there when the confrontation happened. Could you imagine if you polled the audience, who isn’t actually present for the argument, every time you had a disagreement with someone? That’s essentially what we’re doing. People are bringing the general public into every conversation. It’s exhausting. It seems that no one knows how to talk through differences and solve problems anymore. Instead, they would rather run to social media and skewer the person they’re angry with. Then there’s Britt McHenry, the ESPN reporter who verbally assaulted an employee of a towing company and was caught on video. After the video was released, people were demanding her job! Her job has no connection whatsoever to the recorded incident. Was her behavior abhorrent? Absolutely! Should she lose her job because of it? No. I’m not defending her actions, but I don’t think they have any bearing on her job as a sports reporter. If we fired everyone from their public jobs who had a moral failure in their private lives, unemployment would be at 100%. These are just two recent news items, while there are a thousand more examples floating around. We all know there’s no such thing as privacy anymore. Every member of society now carries in their hand a weapon to reveal your actions and whatever you do in “private” can be made public in a matter of seconds. With this understanding, I just want to ask some things of our society. Can we all show a little more grace to each other? Can we reach back to the old days where people talked face to face and settled differences respectfully? Can we forgive and just walk away without sharing the argument with the rest of the world? If I documented and posted every run in and crazy situation I encountered, I could write for days. But I have no desire to shame every person who is rude to me or does something stupid in front of me. Do you want to be humiliated for your failures? I know I don’t. The next time someone offends you and you have the knee jerk reaction to plaster it on social media, maybe think about the consequences and choose to have a personal conversation instead. I for one think it might make the world a gentler place to live.

Our Favorite Children’s Books at the Moment

We are a reading family. Once our boys are old enough to read for themselves, I imagine us all sitting around the living room with our noses in books. We started reading to our boys as soon as we brought them home from the hospital and they’ve always loved books. I hope that never changes. I think one of my favorite times of the day is just before bedtime when we all snuggle up on our bed and read to the boys. It’s such a sweet time and I get excited about a new book just as much as they do.

Louis was in nursing school when Luke was a baby and this picture of him reading one of his textbooks out loud to Luke still makes me laugh!

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Our boys are 3 and 4 now and I find them all the time in random places, huddled together, looking at books. They love to carry books outside and read on the trampoline. Here they are perched on top of the coffee table with their children’s Bible.

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I’m always looking for recommendations so I wanted to pass along some of our current favorites. We have a really long list of favorite books, so these are just the CURRENT popular reads in our house. I’m working to populate my Goodreads account, which is linked on the home page, with all of our favorite children’s books.

Chris Van Dusen is an author and illustrator who we’ve recently come to love. He has many books, but we’ve only read a few so far and are on the library waiting list for the rest. He is such a talented artist and equally gifted writer. The stories are interesting, funny, and never feel forced. We have thoroughly enjoyed A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee and If I Built a Car.

Oliver Jeffers is also both an author and illustrator. You probably saw his illustrations in The Day the Crayons Quit. The first book we read of his that he authored also, was Stuck. If I had had water in my mouth when I read this book for the first time, I would’ve spit it across the room. I laughed so hard! The humor of it completely caught me off guard. The boys found it hilarious as well and we quickly scooped up everything else of his that we could find. We are still working our way through them all, but so far we’ve enjoyed This Moose Belongs to Me, Lost and Found, and How to Catch a Star.

Sherri Duskey Rinker has authored two books that are always in the rotation at our house. If you have boys, you definitely need to pick up Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site and Steam Train, Dream Train. We love the stories and the beautiful illustrations.

Let me know what books your kids are enjoying right now and we’ll give them a read!

Chocolate Almond Butter Cups

I came across two recipes for a similar treat one day and decided to use the ingredients for one and the method for the other, plus a few changes of my own. They are incredibly easy to make and super tasty, which are two of the best qualities for a recipe! Feel free to switch up the nut butter. I was actually short on almond butter the last time I made them and I used half almond and half pb. They turned out great!

Ingredients:

5oz cup of shredded, unsweet coconut

1/3 cup of melted, unrefined coconut oil

1/2 cup of almond butter

1 tsp of pure maple syrup

1 cup of dark chocolate chips

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Instructions

1. Stir the melted coconut oil, shredded coconut, almond butter and maple syrup together in a bowl.

2. Spoon mixture into mini muffin tins, filling the cups a little over half way.

3. Place muffin tins into the freezer for about 5-10 minutes until the mixture has hardened.

4. While the cups are in the freezer, melt the chocolate over low heat. I like to add about 1tbsp of coconut oil to the chocolate. This gives the chocolate a sort of magic shell consistency.

5. Take the muffin tin out of the freezer and spoon the melted chocolate over the tops.

6. Put back in the freezer for about an hour until the chocolate hardens.

I store these in the refrigerator instead of the freezer so they aren’t so hard to bite.

The Easiest One Pot Chicken Dinner

This is a great option for those days when you just don’t have the energy to cook, but you still have to feed the people in your house. It only takes a few minutes to throw together and I usually have all the ingredients on hand. I also love that it can be cooked in the crockpot if I want to set it and forget it, or if I’m in a pinch for a last minute meal I can stick it all in a roasting pan and it will be done in about an hour!

Simple Directions:

Place a whole chicken in a crockpot and rub a thin layer of extra virgin olive oil all over it.

Chop even amounts of carrots, celery and onions and pile around the chicken. You can also include potatoes if you like.

Season the entire contents with your favorite spice blend. I like to use Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute.

Cook for about 6 hours on low or 3 hours on high. Always check the internal temperature of the chicken. No one wants salmonella!

It really doesn’t get any easier than that folks!

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How My Cholesterol Issue Was Corrected Naturally

Sometime last November I decided to get a physical. The only doctor I had really seen in the last several years was my OB, and after 3 years of infertility, then two babies in two years, we were well acquainted. Louis gets physicals on a regular basis for his job, but it was something that just fell off the radar for me. I had a complete work up with all kinds of tests and labs drawn. When I got the results, I was shocked to learn that I had a cholesterol problem. And when I say problem, I mean someone locate the nearest set of paddles because I could have a heart attack at any minute. At least, that’s how I felt. It was scary to learn that although you eat healthy and exercise consistently that your cholesterol is literally off the chart. Not knowing what to do, I contacted a friend who is a cardiac NP. She gave me the name of a local cardiology group that does preventative care and advanced testing. Basically, they don’t just slap you with a prescription, but they do further testing to find out the root of the problem and all that it entails. After my first visit with my new doctor, I was confident I was in the right place. This man is probably the smartest person I’ve come in contact with. He’s licensed in about six different areas of medicine. What I was excited to discover, is that although he’s a cardiologist, he’s a functional medicine doctor. Someone had recently suggested that I see a functional medicine doctor and here he was without even looking specifically. Not only that, but he’s an authority in the field and has written chapters in the functional medicine textbook. I know that God directed me to this guy and every time I see him I tell him how grateful I am for his care. He EXPLAINS everything in detail that’s going on in my body. He LISTENS to any concern I have and asks important questions to figure out the problem. He wasn’t just concerned about my cholesterol either. When I told him I struggle with anxiety, he spent about 45 minutes just talking to me about that one issue, asking questions and taking notes. His goal was to treat every facet of my health. When we got all the labs back, they confirmed that I have a genetic cholesterol problem, where my liver over produces cholesterol. We both agreed that prescription medication was a last resort. The side effects can be awful and the long term effects even worse. He sent me home with a very long list of vitamins and supplements. I was a little skeptical that they would do the job, considering how high my numbers were. I started taking the vitamins along with a few I was already taking, which put me at about 8 or 9 pills in the morning and about the same amount at night. I didn’t mind though, because I felt like I was simply putting back into my body things it already produces but wasn’t doing a good job of managing.

Fast forward three months. I had a second round of labs to compare my numbers after taking the supplements for a few months. My original total cholesterol number was 293. Gasp! The chart only goes to 240 people. I found out that my total cholesterol is now 180. 180!! That’s an unbelievable result you guys! I was astounded. My doctor just nodded and acted like it was business as usual for him. I couldn’t believe that you could get that kind of result from vitamins when there are millions of people on medication for the same thing!

As a bonus, my doctor also had a hunch about a few other possible abnormalities because of my anxiety. He tested several other things and discovered I have a gene mutation that 40% of the population has, but most people don’t even know it. It can cause all kinds of issues, but is easily treated with a vitamin. As he was describing the deficiency and how it works in the brain, everything he was saying rang true. I just sat there nodding and saying, “yes!” It was so validating and exciting to find out that there was an actual, physical element that contributed to my anxiety and that it could be corrected.

So, not only am I not on medications, but the vitamins I’m taking are actually working and making me FEEL BETTER! I have more energy, less anxiety and overall I just feel good. I’m not going to post details here about specific supplements, dosages or my doctor’s information. If you would like any information, feel free to contact me and I can pass along what I know, but everyone needs to consult with their own doctor. Hopefully you can find one that practices functional medicine! I’ve never been happier with a physician’s care.

I am not here to tell anyone what they should do in regard to their own medical conditions. I simply wanted to pass along my own positive experience with a natural treatment. Prescription medications definitely have their place, but I’m very grateful that I was able to avoid them in this case. I hope that someone else reading this will realize that there may be other options for them.

How Do I love Thee Costco, Let Me Count the Ways

If you know me very well, you know my affection for Costco. In fact, it’s inherited. My darling parents raised me in a Costco loving home and I’m a proud product of that environment. My parents have shopped in Costco stores all over North America and even in Hawaii. I think they should start documenting all their warehouse travels. I’m stunned when I meet someone who has never been to Costco. Silly, I know. I just think in my head, you’re throwing money away! I’m the kind of person who likes a good deal. Actually, I like the best deal. I don’t want to pay more for something if I know I can get it cheaper somewhere else and the gas/effort isn’t too great to cancel it out. I’m not going to drive to the other side of town to save fifty cents. You get the idea. You can trust me when I tell you that something is cheaper at one store vs another though, because I’ve probably investigated. So when I talk to someone who has never been to Costco, their reasons are usually the same. 1- They don’t want to buy 1,000 slices of cheese or 30 lbs of chicken. 2. They wouldn’t save money because the massive amounts of food would rot before they could eat it all. I understand these thoughts and decided to give a few tips and actual price comparisons.

Tips and thoughts for shopping at Costco:

1. Not everything is in quite as large of quantities as you might think and some things aren’t bulk items at all. They sell individual electronics, bedding/blankets, clothing, home goods, etc. And most of these things will be much cheaper than somewhere else.

2. They sell products that you won’t find easily in other stores.

3. They have excellent prices and quality on fresh meats. Instead of feeling like you have to eat it all before it expires, simply freeze a portion. Most of their meats come in large packs that are separated into 3 or 4 vacuum sealed sections that make it easy to use part and freeze part.

4. Not everything is perishable and you can save just as much if you don’t even buy fresh foods.

5. They run sales. Things are typically a better buy anyway, but when something you like goes on sale, you’ll want to do a happy dance.

Actual products that we save on regularly:

Perfect Bars – You can read about these yourself on their website to see the quality of the bars. I can tell you that they’re delicious and function perfectly as a meal for me when I need something quick. These are only sold at Whole Foods and similar stores. They cost between $2-2.50 per bar. Costco sells them for $20 in a multi pack of 12 bars. That’s about $1.67 per bar. Last month they went on sale for $15 a box and we were buying like 4 boxes at a time! That’s a huge savings!

PB2 – This is a powdered peanut butter that we love to put in our protein shakes and smoothies. I was skeptical at first but it’s really delicious! It costs on average between $5-6 at a grocery store or Target for a 6.5 oz jar. Costco carries a 16 oz jar for $5.32. When I discovered it last week I was thrilled!

Garden Fresh Salsa – This is THE BEST store bought salsa. You will pay $3.99 for a small container at a grocery store, but Costco sells a 48 oz jar for only $1 more. And when it’s on sale, it’s exactly the same price. Score!

Frozen Pizza – I know, I know. It’s junk food. But who doesn’t like to have a frozen pizza on hand when you need it? Costco sells a 4 pack of their Kirkland brand pizzas for $9.99. Not only is that an amazing deal, but they’re also really good!

Sabatasso’s Gluten Free Pizza – Most gf pizzas will cost you an arm and a leg. I’ve tried making them myself and end up spending way too much money and they never turn out close enough to the real thing. I finally gave up the hassle and just started keeping these in the freezer. Costco sells them in a 2 pack for only $12.

Kind Bars – If these are on sale at Kroger, they’re $1.50/ea. Costco sells an 18 bar multipack for $17.99. When they’re on sale, they’re less than $1/bar.

Gummies – I know. All the super paleo moms are making their own with homemade gelatin. Well I’m not. My kids love gummies like a family member. I would have to make a batch every day to keep up with the demand around here. We already have to limit them on a daily basis or I’m pretty sure Fisher would eat 2 lbs in one sitting. As long as they don’t have artificial colors or flavors, I’m ok with buying them. Costco sells a box of 80 pouches for $10. One small box of 10 is about $4 at the grocery store.

Sheets- Did you know you can buy a really nice set of sheets in ANY size for $20? When they were on sale I actually got them for $18.

Pillows- I recently bought a 2 pack of king size pillows for $17. Now I will say, this is our second set of these pillows because they tend to wear out after about a year. I’m pretty sure it’s good to change your pillow every year though so I think it’s an excellent deal!

Those are the items I know the price comparisons for off the top of my head. I know for a fact that we save money on so many other things that I don’t have exact numbers for. They have so many organic products that are much cheaper than a grocery store like green beans, carrots, butter, meats, etc. Because we shop there regularly, I can post updates with great deals as I see them.

I wish they were paying me for all this advertising. Jerks. I hate Costco. I’m just kidding Costco, I love you!

Health and Beauty Trials

I recently got the bug to start making some of my own health/beauty products. My lovely sister in law has done this and I always thought it seemed like too much work. I changed my mind on that when I needed a better solution for Luke’s irritated skin (see below). While I was at it, I decided to make deodorant since it was the same process and a lot of the same ingredients. While on the topic, I came across other skin care remedies and decided to get crazy and try those too! I used recipes for each of these things from the same site so click the links below for instructions. These things are all in the same post because I did in fact make them all on the same day.

Deodorant – I used this recipe, and although I like the results, I think I will do a little tweaking next time and either use a little baking soda (which I opted to leave out last time) or increase the amount of arrowroot. I also want to change the essential oils up a bit. I’ll post an update when I make another batch.

Eczema Relief Lotion Bars – We’ve been spending a lot of time in the pool this summer and the chlorine was making Luke’s skin super dry and irritated. Although our lotion was organic and fragrance free, he still cried and said it burned when we put it on him. That’s when I decided to make these lotion bars. Not only did it smooth his skin out quickly, but there was no pain and he was even able to put it on himself since it’s in a deodorant container. He loves having his own lotion bar!

Oil Cleansing Method – This is how I wash my face now and I LOVE it! I wish I’d discovered this about 15 years ago! Personally, I use a combo of castor oil and coconut oil, although I know coconut oil doesn’t work for some people. You really have to find the right oils for your personal skin type. I cleanse with oil every night and wash with raw honey in the mornings. I love washing with honey just as much as the oil and I find my skin to be at the perfect moisture level now. It isn’t dry at all but I don’t need moisturizer either. Yay!