Archive | September, 2008

My Favorite Natural Sweeteners

What would life be like without a little sugar to make the medicine go down? Okay, I admit. I have a sweet tooth! I have greatly enjoyed exploring the world of natural sweeteners to replace the abundant processed and bleached sugar that is in most recipes and kitchens. Did you know that the average American consumes around 175 pounds of sugar per year (that’s 46 teaspoons a day)? If you evaluate food labels more closely you will be surprised to see Corn Syrup or High Fructose Corn Syrup in practically every item.

This website informed me that: Eating sugar depletes B vitamins (which leads to premenstrual symptoms and depression, my sisters), promotes Candida albicans, bone loss and tooth decay*. Then of course there is obesity, diabetes and heart disease since sugar raises blood sugar, triglycerides, and cholesterol.

Did you know that certain natural sweeteners actually have nutrients and minerals that are good for you? Keeping in mind that all things in moderation is always wise…

Here are some of my favorites and how to use them from my house to yours!

Continue Reading →

Comments { 84 }

Mission of Motherhood: Servant Leaders

“…I’ve come to appreciate the importance of the many thousands of routaine moments in a mother’s life, for it is in these moments that real greatness tends to be taught and caught…It’s the way I respond to my children in everyday moments that gives me the best chance of winning their hearts. If I have integrity and patience in the small moments of life that are so important to my children, and if I approach them with a servant’s heart, then I have a far better chance of influencing them in the larger and more critical issues of life.”

What a fresh reminder chapter 4 of Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson gave me of the importance and beauty of leading our children by first being a servant. Meditating upon the Savior (John 13), we see one who just prior to the moment of his death, is willing to minister to his disciples by washing their feet. He is the upholder of the universe and yet he kneels down and feeds, touches, and ministers to their deepest needs by not only telling them the truth but showing them personally what servant leadership is all about.

As mothers, we are called not only to teach the truth to our children but also to model loving service so that they might receive something to emulate in their own lives.

“Choosing to be a servant-mother means willingly giving up myself, my expectations, and my time to the task of mothering – and choosing to believe that doing so is the best use of my time at the moment.”

I love the simple truth she reminds us of in that children are supposed to take up time! Far be it from me to get frustrated at my little one because she takes my time and energy. God designed her that way! If I would simply acknowledge that she will and should take up the majority of my time…life will be so much more simple! I am reminding myself right now…it’s not about me but about imidating the Savior!

In conclusion, Sally reminds us that servant leadership, especially in the midst of trials and messes, can only be accomplished through the power of the Holy Spirit! Remember your source ladies! It is walking in the Spirit and depending upon the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Press on in your mothering to the glory of God, dear sisters! Be strengthened in His Word and go forth to fight the battles for the souls of your children that together you might spend eternity in heaven!

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” - John 15:13

Did anything stand out to you in a unique way from this chapter? Please share how you were blessed or challenged!

Comments { 11 }

Menu Plan – Sept 29-Oct 4

Praise the Lord for a relaxing and enjoyable weekend! Aaron and I went out to see Fireproof on Friday evening and were delighted to see a packed theater. It was an excellent movie and greatly blessed and strengthened our marriage. I would definitely recommend getting out there and supporting this film. It was refreshing to see the miracle God can perform in any marriage no matter the state. Full of fun humor and tear jerking scenes.

Saturday we spent the day completing the re-organization of Aaron’s home office. We have been working on simplifying it for the last few weeks and I believe our job is complete! Praise the Lord for a clean office once again!

This weekend we look forward to heading north to Seattle and attending Mission Fest conference. We will be helping to man the Lightsys Ministries booth (the technology mission group we are joining), and maybe attend a session or two.

Now on to the menu plan…

Prep: make butter, soak oatmeal

Breakfast: Fruit Salad, Hard boiled eggs, toast
Lunch:  Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese sandwiches, fresh fruit
Dinner: Guests for dinner: Grilled Veggie Sandwiches (a great delicious frugal meal!), raw veggies or corn


Breakfast: Soaked Oatmeal, apples, raisins, bananas
Lunch: Peanut Butter & Jelly, applesauce
Dinner: Taco Salad

Prep: soak oatmeal, soak rice for dinner

Breakfast: French toast, fruit salad
Lunch:  Baked Potato Bar (using leftover chili from last week)
Dinner: Chicken Curry over Brown Rice, Green Salad
Dessert Guests – Berry Cobbler & Ice Cream- We are having an international student over for the first time through a ministry called ISI (read more here). Basically you become friendship partners with a student and build relationships through inviting them into your home on a regular basis. Will be sharing more in the future…but we would appreciate your prayers as we reach out to this gentleman from Belgium. His wife will be arriving on the 15th as well.


Breakfast: Oatmeal, apples, raisins, bananas
Lunch:  Salmon Melts
Eat dinner on the road up to Seattle

Friday-Saturday in Seattle for Mission Fest Conference

For more menu plans, visit Organizing Junkie.

Comments { 10 }

Simple Saturdays: Simplifying Canning!

Welcome to Simple Living Saturdays, where we are all seeking to encourage one another in purposefully simplicity for the glory of God! Today of which I am honored to host this carnival for the second time due to Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home’s absence. Next Saturday it will be back over at her blog!

I was deliberating delaying in completing my tomato canning process due to the long and tiring day of canning my cousin and I had last week! We had six lugs of tomatoes to can (somewhere around 150 pounds) and it took us all day to just do half the job! Amidst the peeling, dicing, and canning, we had a tomato get kindly speared all over the carpet and a pile of dark dirt get drug in by the munchkins from my container garden on the back deck! Very lively indeed! We still had a great time of fellowship, but I was on a quest to find a simpler method to make this process easier and less time consuming…


Do you really have to peel the peaches? I found they actually come off quite naturally in their jars after processing them in the water bath canner. Most of the peels just slip to the bottom of the jar after opening. Cooking the peaches prior to canning also seems to be quite unnecessary. I sliced them, and put them immediately into the jars and then poured my syrup mixture over them to fill the jar. (using a little honey and water). I followed these instructions and just skipped step 6 (peeling) & 9 (cooking) and used honey to sweeten (approx. 3/4 cup honey in replacement for each cup of sugar in the recipe).


I did peel my pears with a regular peeler (due to the harder peel) but rather than cooking them in their syrup, I simply peeled and packed them right away in their jars. I filled the remainder of the jar with the same mixture that I used with the peaches (3/4 cup honey in replacement of each cup of water and hot water). I followed these instructions and skipped step 8.


After doing some searching, I discovered two simple methods that work for simplifying tomatoes.

1) Simply freeze whole tomatoes in Ziploc bags! When you thaw them the peel will slide right off. You will preserve more of the nutrients by freezing. You can then toss them in the blender or food processor and make your sauce. Great if you have the freezer space.

2) Cut your tomatoes (with the skins on and all!) into quarters (depending on their shape) and place in a blender or food processor. You can keep the core and everything (besides the tops) as desired. Blend till you get a chunky tomato sauce (about 5-10 sec)! Place in your jars and process. No additional heating is necessary.

Since my freezers are overflowing (Praise the Lord!), I chose the second option. I had a batch of tomato sauce in the blender in a matter of seconds (thanks to my mom’s blender – mine is still out of commission -boo hoo!). Wow! I completed my dreaded canning process this way in less than 2 hours (for the remaining 1 1/2 lugs that I had on hand – approx. 35 lbs)! It was so awesome I had to share it with you!

I use the oven to keep my jars warm. As I am preparing the next batch for the canner, I keep filling jars and keeping them warm in the oven.

Thank the Lord for granting me the grace to simplify the process, especially while juggling a little toddler and being pregnant at the same time! Canning can get very time consuming, and draining, but it can also save you a lot of money, thus I thought I would take the plunge!

Living Simply Saturdays are an opportunity to share what is bringing more simplicity and purposefulness to your own life, and to glean from the lives of others.

To join in, post your contribution on your blog, then come back here and add your link below. Please make sure that you link to the specific post, and not to the homepage of your blog, and make sure that you include in your post a link back to this post. Thanks so much!

If you don’t have a blog, I welcome your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section!

Comments { 22 }

Home Learning this Week

Karis is practicing clapping her hands like the seal!

Learning with Karis is such a joy! This week has been full of canning produce for the winter, and thus not a whole lot of time to devote to our beginning learning projects, but I have been amazed how much she can learn without a whole lot of effort. I love observing her enjoyment for reading. She is constantly looking at books and choosing her favorites. What a blessing to have a local library full of wonderful resources to draw from!

This week her favorite has been From Head to Toe by Eric Carle. I estimate I have read this to her at least a half dozen times each day this week! I have it all memorized now but how can I refuse her little pleading moans while she holds the book and hits it on my legs? The result…she is learning many different animals and the actions they do. This is a great resource for teaching physical actions, such as “the gorilla thumps his chest” and then it asks the reader “can you do it?” With each one we have been demonstrating these actions to Karis. She loves it and is learning to preform them amazingly well!

Secondly, she has been exploring the piano with great enthusiasm this week. Even if you just have a keyboard of some sort, or a simple drum, this is fun way to expose them to exploring with making their own music. Thankfully my piano has a quiet pedal to keep the tone down, but she will sit there and just bang around for quite awhile. Headphones would be a nice feature for a keyboard and little ones!

Lastly, even at just 16 months of age, she has found a new interest in sitting on the counter next to me and help preparing food. This week she started mixing batter for me with a mixing spoon. I was pleasantly surprised!

I love how simple learning can be so much fun, free and simple without too much planning and preparations!

Comments { 6 }

Fireproof: The Movie

The movie “Fireproof” is opening this weekend, September 26. For a preview and more information, visit here or click on the link above. This appears to be an excellent movie by the same producers of “Facing the Giants”. Their goal in making this movie was to be a change agent in our culture and save marriages.  Marriage is one of the corner stones that God set up and it is a picture of Christ and the Church.

The movie is about a marriage in crisis and the “love dare” that the husband’s father gives to him to help his son win back his wife’s heart. Christians purchasing tickets and showing support at the  opening weekend for this God- honoring film is critical to keep it in theaters.

Let’s help encourage Sherwood Baptist Church in their desire for this movie to be a change agent in our culture: go and see it this weekend, invite others to join you.  The opening weekend will decide if movie will continue in the theater or not.

Aaron and I had a few friends and family attend pre-screenings of this movie and highly recommended it. I personally was greatly blessed and encouraged by “Facing the Giants” and thus want to get behind the efforts of this church to supply our culture with Christ-honoring films. We will be there!

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
Heb 10:24

Comments { 15 }

Christ Centered Childraising

Laura at Joshua’s House honored me with a request to write an article for her ministry on why we have a vision for keeping our child training Christ centered and how we are seeking to go about this. We are always in need of further growth and maturity in our own parenting, but I pray this might provide some encouragement to other families that there is reason to pursue Christ in everything. You will find it here.

Laura is seeking to provide families with resources to encourage spiritual growth. She has a great list of family fun activities to complete together to not only build relationships but also strengthen their love for the Lord. Thanks Laura for your efforts and the invitation!

Comments { 5 }

Simplifying Your Wardrobe – Part 2

Welcome back for part 2 with further tips on Simplifying your Wardrobe! For part 1, visit here. In part 1, we discussed how to build a simple wardrobe through evaluating how much clothing you really need and how to build a selected color scheme. Now on to other ideas…above all, remember that the reason we should ultimately seek to simplify is that we might reserve more resources, time and energy for the Lord’s use…in order that we might have more to give (read more about this purpose here)!

Select clothing that is timeless

Rather than following all the fashion trends that change with each season, I like to keep my wardrobe simple by choosing more timeless attire. I may choice one or two more fashionable items (because it is fun!) on an annual basis but they still remain in my color scheme. I love denim skirts and pants, and assortment of black and brown which never grow old!

Select clothing that is versatile

Choosing clothing that works for more than one occasion/event is also very helpful. I like to wear a variety of casual skirts that work well for both around the house, dinner or evening out, and at church. I have one or two fancier dresses for weddings and such, but the main collection of my wardrobe is appropriate for both casual and semi-formal events.

Continue Reading →

Comments { 12 }

Variety in Your Grains

There is such a variety of grains out there ready for our use…why limit ourselves to whole wheat? My recommendation for beginning on the pathway to more nutritious eating is to try and eliminate white flour and replace with whole wheat (read more here). This is a huge step in the right direction! As you become more familiar with whole wheat, it is very nutritious to start including a variety of grains in your diet!

Here is what we use around our kitchen. There are many more quality grains out there, but I have simplified my kitchen to use some of the easiest to work with…

Continue Reading →

Comments { 21 }

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream

If you are anything like me, you love homemade ice cream! But not just any homemade ice cream…but a healthy and naturally sweetened dessert!

Our family absolutely loves homemade ice cream from our Cuisinart maker that we purchased awhile back (highly recommended by the way!). In a matter of 30 minutes we have a fresh batch of delicious ice cream! We can use quality raw milk and cream and an array of ingredients!

Here is our favorite concoction:

4-5 cups fresh whole milk (preferably raw – for more info on this, check out realmilk) – best texture is achieved by replacing 2 cups or more with heavy whipping cream (we scrap the cream off the top of our raw milk for this purpose)
1 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2-3/4 cup rapadura (our favorite natural sweetener choice, but you can also experiment with maple syrup, agave nectar, etc)
2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine together in a mixing bowl and pour into your ice cream machine, as the manufacturer’s instructions suggest. If you don’t own an ice cream machine…you can also just put it in your freezer till frozen!

For our coconut ice cream recipe, visit here.

Comments { 31 }