Archive | October, 2010

Preparing for the Holidays: Recommended Resources

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As we enter the holiday season, I compiled an archive of all the helpful holiday tips, recipes, and encouragement towards intentionality this holiday season that we have shared previously here. Let’s start the season off right by taking time to plan and prepare our hearts. I encourage you to embrace the “one thing” that is truly necessary this holiday season: resting and sitting at the feet of Jesus.

“Serving is important. Our Lord also taught us: “The greatest among you shall be your servant.” But serving is not the most necessary thing. There is only one thing that is truly necessary—listening to the Lord speak. So as we head into the holidays, as we face the temptation to be distracted with much serving, or tempted about many things, let’s remind ourselves of Jesus’ words. Should I be serving? There is one thing more necessary! Should I be worrying? This is completely unnecessary! There is only one thing that is necessary. And what is that? To sit and listen to the Lord’s teaching, that’s what!

Let’s take our cues from Mary. We shouldn’t wait until things settle down after the holidays. We shouldn’t postpone listening to Jesus until January 1. We must choose to sit and listen to the Lord’s teaching today: right in the middle of the Christmas craziness. And we must strive to do so every day after.” – Carolyn Mahaney (from Only One Thing is Necessary This Holiday Season)

Purposeful Holidays

Sharing Christ on Halloween - learn a creative simple means of letting your light shine on Halloween
Trick or Treat?
– learn the history behind Halloween and how we can still redeem this holiday
Thanksgiving Journal: Preparing Your Hearts with A Month of Thanksgiving
– take this upcoming month to focus on recording God’s goodness
Simplifying Thanksgiving
– tips and resources for a purposeful and simple Thanksgiving celebration (including crafts!)
Our Jesse Tree- A Focused Advent Celebration
– a fun, Christ centered way to celebrate Advent
Celebrating a Simpler Christmas
- 9 ideas to help keep it simple but purposeful this year!
Celebrating Christ’s Coming
Holiday Evaluation Questions - help get your heart in the right place
Christ Centered Christmas Dialogue – helpful questions to encourage productive conversations
Simplifying Christmas Events & Building Traditions – how to cut back on outside events while building fun family traditions
Simplify the Holidays by Focusing on Giving – fun and easy ways to give unto others this Christmas.

Operation Christmas Child is one of these wonderful ways to pass gifts of love and sharing to children around the world through a simple shoe box. National Collection week is November 15-22, 2010, so please check out how you can participate and motivate others to do the same. Watch this compelling video of a young girl from war-torn Bosnia whose life was transformed through a simple shoe box gift. It brought me to tears to see how God can sovereignly meet all our basic needs and the life changing power of the gospel! Pick up a shoe box and pack it today!

Resource Recommendations

Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember by Barbara Rainey – Barbara Rainey has created an excellent resource for enabling you and your family to remember the past, recognize God’s hand in our history, and express thankfulness to Him for His goodness today.

This story of the Pilgrims’ faithfulness and biblical thankfulness is accompanied by a CD of songs of worship and praise that will call your hearts to gratitude. It’s a wonderful opportunity to enrich your family’s awareness of our nation’s Christian heritage, provide models of courage and sacrifice for your children, and establish a tradition of sharing your gratefulness with one another, which will build a legacy of memories for the future.

Squanto And the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas – a solid historical based Christian retelling of the first Thanksgiving for young children.

This year I picked up What God Wants for Christmas, a new interactive kid-friendly nativity from Family Life that looks like a fun resource to use with your kiddos while you discover the true meaning of Christmas!

A fabulous collection of Advent readings can be found in Come Thou Long Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas by Nancy Guthrie, which is a collection of articles by John Piper, Francis Schaeffer, John MacArthur, Charles Spurgeon and many other solid Christian leaders from the past and present. We read this last year and gave it away to many as a gift and it kept coming back highly recommended!

Gift Ideas

Simplifying the Holidays with Homemade Gifts - an assortment of gift ideas
Homemade Creative Play Gifts for Kids
Gift Ideas for the Natural Mama
Homemade Vanilla Extract – this turned out delicious and a fun Christmas gift!

Frugal & Green Gift Wrapping Ideas – learn to be creative in your gift wrapping this year!

Healthy Holiday Recipes

Healthy Pumpkin Pie
Holiday Eggnog & Eggnog Ice Cream

Blender Gingerbread Pancakes
Cranberry Candy Canes

Praying we all have a peaceful Christ filled holiday season this year!

Comments { 21 }

How Do You Take Care Of Yourself?

By MerWing*Little Dear

This post is brought to you by monthly contributor, Vina Barham.

As mothers, we look after our husband and children’s well being on a daily basis. And quite often, we’re guilty of forgetting to tend to our own. We’re quite capable of going without for a long period of time and running on reserves until crankiness and all sorts of foul mood start to seep in.

I for one, sometimes forget to eat lunch. Seriously, right? How in the world does one forget to eat lunch? I mean, sometimes I snack all day but there are days when I suddenly notice how light-headed I’m feeling. And that a simple remedy would be to eat something! Or perhaps we go for days without taking a break for ourselves. Or go for an entire day without taking time for ourselves to recharge.

But it is exactly that we are the nurturers and keepers of our family’s well-being that we need to be vigilant about taking care of ourselves. We can’t give what we do not have. We are called to serve out of fullness and wellness, not out of a sense of obligation and martyr-like service.

Here are some ways I’ve found helpful in making sure I am able to take care of myself:

  • Schedule a Time Out For Yourself. I am an introvert. And I’ve realized that I need half a day to myself during the week if I am going to thrive as a work-at-home mom. Before, our weekends were mostly family-time and were filled with social events. But we’ve worked it out so my husband takes my daughter out for a chunk of time in the weekend and I get to do whatever fills me up and breathes me Life. And it’s been a guaranteed refreshment for my soul. I’m then ready to start the week with a full cup.
  • Write a Mommy Time Out Menu. The very first day that my husband took our daughter out for a daddy date and I had blocks of free time on my hands, I honestly did not know what to do with myself. Although I badly needed recharging, I was not used to spending so much time just for me. Since then, I’ve made a list of Mommy Time Out Menu in which I write a list of things that I know would recharge me back to Life. Make sure that you dig deep in the Word of God as your number one priority on this list. Remember…a true woman is tethered to the Word. (Thanks to Lisa from The Well Grounded Life! for the idea!)
  • Incorporate Quick Life-Giving Remedies in Your Schedule. Read the Bible. A daily devotional. Get fresh air everyday. Go out for a walk as often as you can. Bring nature in your house. Talk with your girlfriends. Walk barefoot. Pray. Read. Listen to music. Or an inspiring podcast. Smile. Take a bath. Put on clothes that bring out the best in you. Wear your hair down (or put it up!). Hug your spouse. The list can go on.
  • Figure Out How to Do What You Love at Home with Your Family. I love to dance, read, and go out for a walk or a run. I make every effort to do these things with my daughter (and this can apply to our spouses too!),  in order that I am able to share my passions with her and she gets to see me do things that I’m really good at, things that make me come alive, things that help me feel the pleasure of God. If what you love seems incompatible with your life at home, think again. You might just find the best absolute bonding moment with your children when you share your passions with them.
  • Ask for help. If your day is starting to go really bad and you are in dire need for a break, ask for help. Tell your spouse. Ask your relatives or friends. Tell a trusted friend. Find a way to get the help you need. It’s not a sign of failure. It’s a sign of being human.
  • Practice gratitude, regardless of the situation. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of perspective. And giving thanks in all things is a practice in acceptance. Some people call it living in the moment, but on a much deeper level, it’s contentment fleshed out. Sometimes, I really feel the drudgery of the day to day tasks of what I do. And it is in that moment when I most need to practice gratitude. Because it is then that I am able to open up to new possibilities and new way of doing things. In accepting what is, I can then make space for the change that I need to happen.

What about you? Any other ideas to add to this list? I would love to hear how you take care of yourself. You need it, mama!

Comments { 32 }

Christian Literature for Kids Ages 0-8

Are you looking for some good solid literature recommendations which would be wonderful resources to add to your home library? I have received the question on numerous occasions and have compiled a list of high quality literature that will inspire your little tots towards godly living, building Christian character, and inspiring a love for giving and service. I hope you find this helpful! These are all excellent investments for birthdays and Christmas and will certainly be treasured for a lifetime.

Fool Moon Rising by Kristi & T. Lively Fluharty – One of our true favorites! It’s a crime of cosmic proportions: the moon is stealing the sun’s glory! This rhyming, rollicking tale teaches children the importance of humility and the dangers of pride.

Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name by Sally Lloyd Jones – The best Bible for little ones that we have found! Extremely sound and yet rich with insight as it traces God’s story throughout the Bible and how Jesus is seen in each story. Highly recommend!

The Tale of Three Trees by Angela Hunt – The sweet folklore story of three trees that dream about what they will become one day. They become key tools in the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado – A touching story about a disabled lamb who finds he has a special purpose and place in this world. Check out other excellent stories by Max Lucado – All You Ever Need, Because I Love You. All of these titles can also be purchased in the Max Lucado Treasury.

The Christian Mother Goose Book by Marjorie Ainsborough Decker – another favorite in our house with a sweet God-centered adaption of the Mother Goose nursery rhymes. Karis loves: “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, God has placed you where you are.”

Princess and the Kiss: A Story of God’s Gift of Purity by Jennie Bishop – A young princess learns the value of saving her first kiss for the right man. Check out the companion study guide that teaches valuable life lessons about purity. The Squire and the Scroll is the young boy’s version (although Karis loves this one too!) about learning to live your life in light of God’s Word.

The Three Gifts of Christmas by Jennie Bishop is a sequel of sorts to the Princess and the Kiss, where the young princess learns the important truth that it is better to give rather than receive. An excellent addition for Christmas and all year long!

My ABC Bible Verses by Susan Hunt – learn Bible verses and character stories that correspond with every letter of the alphabet. We have been using this while we learn our ABC’s and it has been extremely valuable for character education.

Big Truth for Little Kids by Susan Hunt

Sammy and His Shepherd by Susan Hunt – the sweet account of a little sheep called Sammy while he takes a delightful trip through Psalms 23. A picture of the precious love of our caring Lord Jesus, our Shepherd.

Dangerous Journey by Oliver Hunkin – a child’s adaption of Pilgrim’s Progress with beautiful pictures.

Do You Want A Friend? by Noel Piper - A sweet story that helps children ages 3-7 recognize that potential friends are all around them, while reinforcing that Jesus is the best friend of all. This is a sequel to Most of All, Jesus Loves You.

The Gospel (Big Thoughts for Little Thinkers) by Joey Allen – A clear, doctrinally sound, introduction to the gospel for little kids. So cute! Others by this author: The Trinity, The Scriptures.

The Story of St Valentine by Voice of the Martyrs – want to learn the true history of St. Valentine’s day? This series of books published by VOM are extremely well done with beautiful colorful pictures and intriguing stories. Check out: The Story of St. Patrick and The Story of St. Nicholas for holidays throughout the year. VOM also offers other Kids of Courage books covering the lives of Paul, Stephen, and Richard Wurmbrand. Highly recommended!

My First Book of Question & Answers by Carine McKenzie – This is an excellent first little book for teaching the catechism.

The Creation Story for Children by Helen Haidle – Focused on God’s wonderful handiwork in Genesis 1-2 and Psalms 139, it is one children will enjoy over and over again! Also check out: D is for Dinosaur by Ken Ham.

The Prince’s Poison Cup by R.C. Sproul is an allegorical story about the fall of man and Christ’s sacrifice for our salvation through the story told to Ella by her Grandma during her illness and evaluating why medicine has to taste bad in order to make us better. Other in this series: The Lightlings & The King Without A Shadow.

The True Story of Noah’s Ark – learn the true story of Noah’s Ark with beautiful imagery.

The Beautiful Girlhood Collection by Tracy Leninger – Sweet stories of the lives of great women of the past who demonstrated true femininity, courage, and virtue. Included in this series is the life of Dolly Madison, Priscilla Mullins, Sacagawea, Nan Harper.

What is God Like? By Beverly Lewis – Before a father departs for his longest business trip yet, he encourages his children to remember that, “Even when I’m not here, God is always with you.” After he leaves, the boy and his little sister spend a fun-filled day and star-filled night remembering everything their father told them about their heavenly Father. Also by this author: What is Heaven Like?

Tell Me About Heaven by Randy Alcorn – Follow 10 year old Jake who learns about the reality of Heaven after the death of his grandma.

I’ve Got a Job to Do by Dandi Daley Mackall – help children understand the importance of the Great Commission and how they can practice it in their home, school, and extended family.

Our Home Is Like A Little Church by Lindsey Blair – This little book was written to teach preschool children the Christian doctrine of the home as a place of worship where the father teaches his family God’s commands and leads them to worship the one true God.

The Beggar’s Blessing by Mark Hamby – A true story from the 1800s about a little girl who sacrificed her savings for a starving beggar. Full-color illustrations will capture the hearts of children as they learn that sacrifice is the cornerstone for surprising blessings.

God Gave Us You by Laura Dyrant – When a charming polar bear cub climbs into bed one night, she asks her Mama a very important question–one that little “human cubs” often wonder about, too: “Where did I come from?” Mama Bear answers that “God gave us you.”

Hand Commands: The Ten Commandments for Little Ones by Ann Dunagan – Hand Commands is an easy-to-use tool to teach your children to love God’s law. It follows the most traditionally held numbering and the Biblical account from Exodus 20. This darling book can help you to train your little ones to love God and to love to follow Him.

What are your favorite godly reading materials for little ones?

Stay tuned for more recommendations for ages 8-12!

Comments { 52 }

True Woman 2010 Recap

We had an absolute blast at True Woman ’10 this past weekend in Fort Worth, Texas! We were challenged again and again by the beautiful high calling and design that God has for womanhood right alongside 3,800 other women attending. I was blessed to meet 7 lovely blog readers as well at the event. How fun! We helped volunteer at the event by running cash registers in the resource center. My sisters and I had so much fun meeting so many ladies and getting numerous, “Are you sisters?” inquiries. Apparently we look a lot alike. I highly recommend you check out all the sessions, which are available to download from the three conferences held this year. These messages will surely impact you and help build your marriages, strengthen your calling, and give you hope and vision for the future. I just wanted to highlight the main points of the conference that stood out to me.

Thursday night started with a powerful call to watch out for worldliness in our lives by Crawford Loritts from 1 John 2:15. He asked the question, “Aren’t you tired of the world defining us?” As women, we have been defined by outside sources for far too long. We find our satisfaction, our value, and position in what the world calls beauty, success, and the like. Crawford challenged us to see the world for what it really is. Worldiness is the celebration of self. It elevates me. Self-idolization. Don’t worship the world! This pursuing love belongs only to God. This is a fallen world with its system and will not bring fulfillment. He gave three challenging questions to help evaluate the things of this world.

1. The motive question: Why do I want this?
2. The worship question: Does what I want consume, control, or change me?
3. The purity question: Am I clean? Is my heart contaminated?

“You cannot be God’s true woman, without first being God’s.”

Nancy Leigh Demoss brought the next session with evaluating the question: What is a true woman? from Titus 2. I love this quote: “A true woman is tethered to the Word of God. Sound doctrine is the solution for the chaos of this world.” She is one who heeds the Word of God and her calling to love her husband, love her children, being devoted to her domain in the home, and seeking to mentor those younger than herself. It truly matters because if we do not follow God’s plan for womanhood, then we risk the word of God being reviled (Titus 2:5), the enemy will have something to slander us with (2:8), and we will not adorn the doctrine of God our Savior (v. 10). She left us with this question: Does your life adorn the gospel? Are you displaying a redeemed life so others can believe in a Redeemer?

I was struck by the challenge by many speakers throughout the conference by the important of God’s Word in our lives. We do not prioritize it enough. If we truly want to be women of God, women of influence, we must be anchored in the Word. Kay Arthur challenged us so profoundly: “What is your influence dear sisters? Is it for good, evil or nothing? Neutral is sin.” It is important for us to see if we just choose to not engage, not fight for truth, but rather sit back and go with the flow, we are walking in sin.

We must dig deep roots into His Scriptures. We must embrace God’s lifeline. It cannot be neglected. Even in the midst of busy motherhood, we must find God and moments of prayer in the midst of our day. Two way conversations should always be happening – between you and your children, and between you and God. While washing the dishes, thank the Lord that He is going to cleanse the heart’s of your children.

The final challenge that stood out to me was presented by Pastor James McDonald in his session on Suffering and Trials from James 1:1-5. He compared the difference between happiness and joy. “Joy is a supernatural God-given delight in the Person of God—who He is, in His attributes.” “A thimble full of joy will obliterate what the world calls happiness for a lifetime.” He opened my eyes to see the true meaning of enduring under trials. The Greek word for endure is hupomone: to remain under.

“But let endurance [perseverance, steadfastness, patience—let hupomone] have its perfect result so that you may be perfect and complete [check that out], lacking nothing.”(James 1:5) Hupomone is the funnel through which all Christian virtue flows. There will be no true women without hupomone. If every time trials come we lash out, bail, complain, despair and fold, God’s purpose is not accomplished. Some of us have been going round and round the same trial, not for weeks and months, but for years and decades because we haven’t learned what it is to quiet our hearts and to humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand.”

By remaining under, rather than folding, running, or complaining, we be participants in displaying the superiority of Christ to a lost and helpless world.

“The reason I get to draw another breath, the reason why you and I are here, is so that we can display the superiority of the life lived in God. That’s why Christians get cancer. That’s why Christians have prodigals. That’s why Christians go through painful financial times.”

Overall, my heart was stirred, challenged, and blessed, and I have much to ponder. I pray you would take advantage of these sessions by listening or reading them, and allow God to work and change you as well into a True Woman!

Listen to the True Woman sessions here.

Comments { 18 }

What Every Mom Needs To Know After a Bad Day…

Photo Credit

This post is written by contributing writer, Kat.

A few months ago I had one of those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days that all moms have every once in awhile.

Sometimes every two or three times in awhile.

After finally putting the kids to bed, with a deep sigh felt through the ages, I buried my head in my husband’s chest and in true Anne of Green Gables fashion, I proceeded to pour out my frustration and deep despair at what a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day it was and what a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad mom I was.

I mentally calculated the future therapy bill my kids would require after our rotten day.

Finally, in an expression of true blogger angst, I said, “…and what the WORLD am I doing writing a blog about motherhood?!!! I’m a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad mom!!”

But I’m not dramatic. Obviously.

Yet my wonderfully patient, wise husband gently replied, “Sweetie, it’s not about the mom you were today. It’s about the mom you’re FIGHTING to be. And you? You’re FIGHTING to be a great mom…”

His words of comfort silenced me.

Friends, we all have bad days. Sometimes we have bad weeks. Maybe you’ve had bad years. But those are the past. We can learn from them, but they DO NOT define us.

Our mistakes are part of our journey. They are NOT our definition.

In light of the magnificent purpose to which we have been called, we cannot waste time nurturing our regrets. They require too much of us.

We can learn from our bad days, our mistakes and then we must lay them down, leave them behind and fight on.

Comments { 46 }

Boosting Nutrition in Your Fruit Smoothies – Greens & Herbs!

Do you feel like your diet is lacking good nutrition? Do you have any picky eaters like my kiddos who don’t particularly care for their vegetables? Are you looking for a simple inexpensive way to boost your health without the added expense of supplements? Enter smoothies.

Since beginning my journey on preparing fruit smoothies, I am continually amazed what you can add to a simple smoothie to increase the health and nutrition of this wonderful beverage and get all your supplements for the day in whole food form. In fact, it seems to be the best means of getting good nutrition in your kids diet. I have never seen a child that doesn’t love a good fruit smoothie. It is a refreshing beverage for any day of the week! And they are also a great item for any meal. We’ve had them for breakfast, lunch, snacks, and even a light dinner on those extra tiring days. Lately, I have been starting to add various herbs to our smoothies and have noticed some significant improvements in our overall health.

Here are some of the goodies we add to our smoothies:

1. Kefir

I love using kefir as the base for our smoothies because it is one of the most nutritious probiotic available. Kefir, which means ‘feel good” in Turkish, is an ancient cultured, enzyme-rich food filled with friendly micro-organisms that help balance your “inner ecosystem” to maintain optimal health and strengthen immunity.

Kefir’s tart and refreshing flavor is similar to a drinking-style yogurt, and it contains beneficial yeast as well as the friendly ‘probiotic’ bacteria found in yogurt, but is more nutritious. When used regularly, the naturally occurring bacteria and yeast in Kefir combine symbiotically to help balance your intestinal flora and boost your immunity. Learn how to make your own kefir here.

Whole milk yogurt, coconut milk, coconut kefir, coconut water, or kombucha are also excellent bases for your smoothies, depending upon your needs and preferences. I have used and love all these alternatives as well. I use about 3/4 – 1 cup kefir or alternative for my base.

2. Greens

We have been making green smoothies for some time now. Adding fresh greens can assist in boosting energy, building your immune system, detoxing impurities, and loosing weight. Greens are rich in magnesium and alkaline minerals like calcium and are superb in their Omega-3 unsaturated fat content.  Believe it or not, greens are one of the richest sources of protein. I have used organic spinach (as it is a highly sprayed crop) predominately as it is easy to add without affecting the texture. I can add half of head of spinach and it blends in well with all the frozen fruits.

We also use the Green Magna Plus Powder if I don’t have greens on hand or want to boost it a bit more. I will add 1 Tablespoon of this mixture. Magma Plus contains barley grass juice powder plus 56 other natural ingredients. It provides a full range of phytonutrients including active enzymes, antioxidants, carotenoids, flavonoids, vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, amino acids, prebiotics, probiotics, and chlorophyll.

3. Herbs

Lately, we have started adding herb powders to our smoothies with excellent results. Adding herbs is like preparing your own vitamins. They are real food and easily digestible. God has provided all the health and nutrition that we need in His creation, and this is beautiful to behold as you study the different kinds of herbs and their functions in our bodies. These herbs may affect the texture somewhat of your smoothies, so start small and build up as you go to get your full dose.

Daily Boost Herba-Smoothie – This product is compiled by Bulk Herb Store and is specifically designed to give you full balance in your health and perfect for your daily smoothies. This mixture of herb powders contains the following:

  • Ginkgo: Brain food, better concentration and improves memory
  • Oat straw: Excellent source of the major minerals
  • Hawthorn: Best herb for strengthening the heart
  • Burdock root: Blood purifier, helps with varicose veins, detoxing, and more

Adding 1 heaping teaspoon of this herb powder is wonderfully nutritious! It blends in so well with fruit and you cannot even notice it is there. I have had increased energy and sleep since taking these herbs.


Spirulina powder is a blue-green algae that grows on freshwater ponds. Spirulina is 55-70 percent protein by weight and considered my many to be the greatest plant source of usable protein and is rich in B vitamins and gammalinolenic acid (GLA). We add 1 heaping teaspoon to our smoothies currently, and hope to boost it up as we go. Spirulina is certainly a superfood!

Kelp Powder

Seaweeds are the richest plant source of minerals, providing 10-20 times the minerals in land-based plants. They contain a more well-balanced and broader spectrum of minerals necessary for the body than any other organism. They are used to promote longevity, prevent disease, and boost a healthy metabolism to those courageous enough to consume them. The easiest to come by and disguise is kelp powder and can be added to smoothies. We add about 1 heaping teaspoon to smoothies and will build up to about 1 Tablespoon.

Slippery Elm Bark Powder

Slippery Elm is a “mucilaginous herb that helps absorb toxins in the bowel. In fact, it is very soothing to the entire digestive system. It is useful especially for diarrhea, bowel weakness or as a mild nourishing food for sick children. Since the herb is slightly sweet, it is one that children will often take readily if it is mixed in some cereal, applesauce or fruit juice.”

We have been adding another heaping teaspoon of this powder with our smoothies.

My cousin Amy introduced me to the idea of adding herbs to my smoothies. I asked her to share her recipes and herb combos. Amy is dairy-free, and offered these helpful recipe suggestions. The liquids can easily be changed out for whatever base you would like (yogurt, kefir, coconut milk, kombucha, etc). Each recipe is prepared for 4 servings.

1 1/2 med. bananas
1 large mango
1 1/2 c. strawberries
1/2 c. kombucha
1 Tbsp flax seed
approx. 1 1/2 c. water

2 med. bananas
1 c. frozen strawberries
1 c. frozen blueberries
1 c. water

1 large mango
2 c. frozen blueberries
1 c. frozen blackberries
1-1.5 cups liquids

3 small bananas
2 c. frozen strawberries
3/4 c. kombucha
1 c. water

2-3 c. frozen blackberries
1-2 bananas
6 TBSP coconut water
1/2 c. kombucha
1 c. water

2 bananas
2 cups frozen peaches
1-2 cups water

To each of the above combos, add any or all of the following (start smaller and gradually increase herbs as desired). Again this is per 4 servings:

1 Tablespoon orange juice concentrate (helps balance it out if a smoothie needs a bit more flavor or sweetener)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (does wonders for adding flavor!)
1/4 teaspoon stevia powder, as needed
2 tsp ground Daily Boost Herba Smoothie Combo
2 tsp ground slippery elm
1 1/2 tsp ground nettle (increases liver and kidney function)
3 tsp ground kelp powder (this is the strongest flavored one, if I think the smoothie isn’t strong flavored enough to mask it, I’ll reduce the amount I add, or skip it altogether for that day)
3 tsp (or more) ground spirulina
little under 2 TBSP cut leaf alfalfa (rich in vitamins and minerals, chlorophyll, blood purifier)

Our family is currently using the herba smoothie combo, slippery elm, spirulina, and kelp powder and hope to start adding a bit more of other herbs as we go. A great option of getting real food in your smoothies without expensive supplements!

My kids love these smoothies, as you can see in the pictures!

These herbs can be purchased through Bulk Herb Store or Mountain Rose Herbs (with the exception of the Herba Smoothie mix), both of which are companies that I love!

What healthy additions do you like to make to your smoothies?

Please note that this information is shared for educational use. We are not licensed practitioners in any way but love to share out of our own personal experience. As far as I understand, all these herbs are perfectly safe for pregnant and nursing mothers.

Announcement: The winner of our Christa Taylor giveaway was Tara ([email protected])! Congrats!

Comments { 59 }

Easy No-Peel Canned Applesauce with a Blender

I have done the strenuous work of preparing applesauce for several years by laboring over chopping, cooking, pureeing through a food strainer (a great tool, but still extra work), and finally cooking again and seasoning. It takes a lot of time and effort and required a huge family crew. When this year came around, I knew I must simplify the process. My children love applesauce and it makes a lovely quick, easy, and healthy snack.

With my new technique, applesauce preparation was a breeze! No peeling and no straining! No need for any extra special equipment, just a blender or food processor. I used my favorite tool – the Blendtec – but you certainly can use what you have on hand. You may have to prepare smaller batches, but it will still readily save you a lot of time and effort. Plus, keep the peels on will give you more nutrition, since the majority of the vitamins are directly under the skin! You also are cooking the apples far less (just heating to warm before processing) and thus preserving more nutrition there. I made two dozen jars in just over an hour!

We also used the Tattler reusable and BPA free canning lids this time and were very pleased with the results. They do take a little extra effort, in that you have to tighten and then unscrew 1/4 inch before processing, and then tighten immediately after removing from the water bath (which can be very hot and difficult to accomplish without a thick towel), but I believe the re-usability factor out ways any disadvantages. I had one lid pop off while tightening and one pop off in the processor, so I assume it just takes a bit of time to get used to the process. I love how they are BPA free as well, so we don’t have to be exposed to this unnecessary toxin which is present in the standard Kerr/Ball canning lids. (Thanks to Stephanie at Keeper of the Home for her review of this product!). For my local friends, the Tattler lids are available at Mirador Community Store in Portland.

Here’s my video tutorial:



1. Prepare your water bath by filling with water 3/4 way up the side of the pot. Cover and bring to a boil. In the meantime, sterilize your glass canning jars in the dishwasher by running them through a cycle. Place a small pot on the stove with the canning lids to sterilize as well. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer while you can the applesauce.
2. Cut your apples into large chunks, removing the core and seeds. No peeling is necessary!
3. Place the apples in small quantities in a food processor or blender and add approximately 1/2 cup before pulsing/blending the mixture until smooth. Add more water as necessary.
4. Transfer pureed apples to a large stock pot and season as desired with sugar and cinnamon (we use about 1 Tbsp cinnamon and 1 Tbsp or more sucanat for a large stock pot full of applesauce). Heat sauce until just warm.
5. Once the applesauce is heated and sweetened, pour carefully into your sterile glass quart size canning jars (a funnel is ideal for this process). Place hot lids on jars (whether your standard Kerr/Ball canning lids or Tattler lids).
6. Place jars in a boiling water bath. Once water bath is full of jars, cover, and return water to boiling point. Once it is boiling, process for 20 minutes. Transfer to the counter to cool completely.

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Let Your Work be Your Worship

Photo Credit

I was overwhelmed with my assignment today – my mothering and homemaking. My little ones have been bickering like crazy fighting over toys, food, and whatever else with piercing screams. I forgot to turn on my dishwasher, leaving me with a kitchen full of dirty dishes. A Realtor calls to show the house and gives me a 20 minute notice. I fly crazily around the house to get it picked up and then out the door with my kids, only to have her cancel just after we had loaded everyone into the car and drove away. I found myself asking myself, “How on earth can I ever train them to love each other? How can I manage all of this? How can I keep the peace when my emotions wants to stress out?” You would have seen me crying if you had been present today.

Then the Lord gently reminded me that maintaining joy in my tasks is my opportunity to worship my Creator. He has designed us, as women, to establish a peaceful home for God’s glory.

As Ginger Plowman puts it so well in her book, Heaven at Home,God created you, the woman, with a wonderful uniqueness that enables you to build your home and family in accordance with his perfect plan. To follow his calling and accept your uniqueness is to fulfill your purpose….The Proverbs 31 woman…as productive and respected as she was, was nothing without the atoning grace of God. She delighted in serving and worshiping her Creator in all the mundane duties of life. She knew that God created her as a woman, to be a wife of noble character, a nurturing mom, and a homemaker. She glorified God in her femininity.”

Did you hear that? To be a godly woman means we worship the Creator in all the duties of life – everything from diapers, to dishes, to scrubbing toilets, to preparing meals, to decorating our homes. Each task is an act of worship to our Creator, because we are faithfully walking in His beautiful design. Worship is not limited to Sundays, or to actual singing, but it is doing all that we do for the glory of God, with a heart that desires to please Him. These are acts of worship when completed with a joyful heart. “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor. 10:31).

Don’t fall under the lie that your assignment in the home is worthless, or less important. You have the opportunity to bring God glory through every mundane task. Washing the dishes is an opportunity to worship my Savior! Training my children is an opportunity to radiate God’s beauty. Sing while you work, inwardly and externally, and God will be greatly glorified. The important thing is to keep your eyes on Jesus and do the next thing.

Ginger shares later, “True beauty radiates from a woman who gracefully walks the path designed uniquely for her. To walk the path of God’s will is to show others the beauty of Christ. ” God has assigned me the task of dedicating my life to nurturing my children, loving and working side by side with my husband in fulfilling the mission God has assigned us to love God and reach out in demonstrating that love to others. That is my calling and every small task will be my act of worship and He will give me wisdom to faithfully walk this path! His grace is sufficient!

Romans 12:1
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.

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The Benefits of Lacto-Fermentation & Lacto-Fermented Salsa Recipe

Our beautiful salsa ingredients

I have always been intimidated by the idea of lacto-fermentation. I mean, just listen to the name. Sounds scary! I always thought it was time-consuming with not so tasty results. And if it weren’t for my sweet cousin, Amy, I probably would still be in that scared state. This last week, Amy, invited me over to her home to make lacto-fermented salsa. I thought, why not? I discovered how incredibly easy this process is! And how fun to learn something new with friends. Couldn’t get much better than that – inspiring one another on in our healthy homemaking pursuits. So find a friend, and dive in with me to the world of lacto-fermentation?

What is Lacto-Fermentation?

Rather than go into all the details, I will just share a few quotes with you and direct you to my lovely friends on the web who have explained this so well previously.

Lacto-fermentation is the process of cultivating lactic acid as a natural preservative to prevent putrefication. Starches and sugars in vegetables and fruits are converted to lactic acid by the many species of lactic-acid producing bacteria. It has multiple health benefits as described by Sally Fallon in Nourishing Traditions:

“The proliferation of lactobacilli in fermented vegetables enhances their digestibility and increases vitamin levels. These beneficial organisms produce numerous helpful enzymes as well as antibiotic and anticarcinogenic substances. Their main by-product, lactic acid, not only keeps vegetables and fruits in a state of perfect preservation but also promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestine.”

I have discovered that is is a simply, easy, and worthwhile means of adding wonderful vitamins, enzymes, and especially probiotics to your diet.

Fermented Foods for Beginners by Nourishing Days
Benefits of Lacto-Fermentation by Nourishing Gourmet
Wild Fermentation – a great resource as to the whys and hows of fermentation

Lacto-Fermented Salsa

Recipe adapted from Nourishing Days

Makes 1/2 gallon

1 large onion cut into large chunks
1 large green, red or yellow pepper, cut into large chunks
6 large cloves of garlic, peeled
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, unchopped
1 jalapeno pepper, cut in half
3 lbs of tomatoes, cut into quarters (approximately 4 cups)
2 Tbsp lemon juice (or juice of 1 lemon)
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp sea salt (definitely sufficient!)
1/2 cup whey (Take yogurt or kefir and place in a cheesecloth/cloth napkin and drain over large measuring cup. Squeeze the cloth gently with your hands until you get enough liquid. The juice that drains will be your whey! It’s very easy!)
1/4-1/2 cup water (UPDATE: we found this completely unnecessary and made it too watery, so use your judgment.)


  1. In a food processor or blender, place onion, pepper, garlic cloves, cilantro and jalapeno pepper. Pulse several times until mixture is nicely diced. Transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Place tomatoes in the food processor or blender and pulse several times in likewise fashion until nicely diced. Add to large bowl.
  3. Gently combine all ingredients in the large bowl and add lemon juice, vinegar, sea salt, and whey.
  4. Transfer to a 1/2 gallon glass jar (or 2 quart size jars), and carefully add 1/4-1/2 cup water until all the ingredients are submerged. Make sure to leave 2-3 inches of headspace for expansion.
  5. Cover tightly with a lid and leave on your counter for 2-3 days until the salsa is bubbly. Transfer to cold storage or the top shelf of your refrigerator. Best used within 3 months.

Here’s our little video demonstration amidst all of our 5 little ones! We had the little girls cut up the tomatoes for us and they loved being included in the process. All in all, it took about 2 hours to make 3 gallons of salsa with interruptions so it was a very easy process. Amy is allergic to dairy, so she offers her dairy free alternative to using whey, which is Body Ecology veggie culture starters, as described in the video. Join us for all the fun we had!


Easy Fermented Beverages

Kombucha is a simple way of getting some of these fermented benefits into your diet regularly! We love this beverage! Kefir is another easy one that we have used forever for our smoothies and for soaking our grains.

Easy Fermented Condiments

After our successful salsa makings, I knew that a few other easy means of getting probiotics would be through our condiments. I love homemade ketchup and whipped it up in a few minutes and it is currently on my shelf fermenting away. Here are a few recipes:

Lacto-Fermented Ketchup
Lacto-Fermented Mustard

Lacto-Fermented Mayonnaise

I have made lacto-fermented sauerkraut in the past, and I don’t recommend the standard recommendation that you can replace whey with an extra tablespoon of salt, as we did with that attempt. It makes an extremely salty final product! Best to use the simple process of making whey as described above!

So that is a simple start on lacto-fermentation!

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Natural Morning Sickness Remedies

This post is by contributing writer, Michele Augur.

If you are that queasy early pregnancy season, I just want to let you know that I empathize with you!

Once you are experiencing morning sickness, there are a some things you can do that might help. However, any remedy will likely not eliminate your discomfort 100%. During my seasons of morning (all day!) sickness, I have found it incredibly helpful to meditate upon Psalm 23 in the midst of it. (It really was surprisingly refreshing!)

Just as in any other challenging season of parenting, our Lord is faithful to walk with us, and can use these times for refining us. He may be calling you to simply rest in Him (and on the couch at times), and we cannot necessarily expect to complete all that we had before pregnancy. Give yourself grace, dear one.

Nourish yourself and your little one.

Get Your Protein

Keep pursuing the high-protein diet. Even if it doesn’t seem to help with the morning sickness right now, it can have many benefits in the long run. Referring to the Brewer Diet checklists may be helpful in setting meal/snack habits. I actually found it most helpful to begin this diet (as well as including some “detoxing”/cleansing herbs) several months before conceiving, in order to establish a healthy foundation.

Eat Often

Small, regular nourishing snacks (every hour or two, if needed!) can help prevent that intense queasy feeling. Keep finger-foods handy in the fridge or your purse to munch on. During the day, you can keep a slow cooker filled with a protein-dense snack, such as oatmeal & peanut butter (add some cinnamon, raw honey, & coconut) or brown rice & cheese (stir in some sea salt, herbs, and sunflower seeds). You can quickly spoon out a small bowlful for a snack. Eat even if you feel too sick to eat. You’ll likely feel better, not worse (if it comes back up, oh well).

Eat at Night

This tip from my midwives made such a difference for me. Whenever you wake up in the middle of the night (pregnant mamas know about those potty trips!), before heading back to bed, grab a half cup of whole milk yogurt from the fridge. Drizzle it with a bit of raw honey. The combination of whole milk fats, the probiotics, and the benefits of raw honey help with balancing blood sugar and with digestion (both of these issues can contribute to nausea), as well as helping you fall back asleep.

Don’t Wait for Breakfast

I found that I was less nauseous in the morning, if I ate before getting out of bed. My husband would bring breakfast to bed (or I would keep snacks at the bedside), and we would eat together before I sat up (moving too quickly started that motion sickness feeling!).

Eating an early breakfast (before 5 or 6 am), helped me start the day. (Waiting for a later breakfast meant intense nausea from hunger.) After eating, I could either doze or get up. I would then feel ready to get up and take care of my toddler’s breakfast by 7 or 8 am when she awoke.

Take a Nap

Tiredness from “overdoing it” can lead to feeling poorly. Make sure to take times throughout the day to rest. Little ones can certainly be playing nearby while you rest. A half hour or so of laying down can make such a difference.

Try to grab a chance to put your feet up, by snuggling up on the couch or pulling out a lawn chair while children play in the yard. My little girl enjoyed books on tape, Signing Time DVDs (we learned a lot of sign language last year!), reading preschool books together, nature “treasure hunts” in the backyard, and tearing pictures from catalogs. (We would save these special activities for “Mama’s Resting Time.”)

Drink Your Tea

Drinking a quart of “pregnancy tea” throughout the day provides quality nourishment. Find (or make) a tea that includes herbs for digestion, such as peppermint or ginger.

Add Some Lemon

Friends and I have found that drinking homemade lemonade or lemon water has helped refresh us and provide some nausea relief during pregnancy. (You can add some carbonated water to make it bubbly, if that is additionally soothing for you.) Toss some lemon slices in your water bottle while on outings. You might also find a natural ginger ale helpful, as well.

See a Chiropractor

Regular chiropractic care has been one of the best elements in our family’s pursuit of wellness. A chiropractor can help correct any imbalances that may be contributing to extreme symptoms.

Try Acupressure

I’ve never tried it myself, but I have heard of some mamas benefiting from the use of acupressure bands (originally designed to prevent sea-sickness).

What natural remedies have worked for you?

{Photo Credits: Esparta, Plinkk}

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