To the boy who made me a MOM.

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Dear Aidan,

It’s your 18th birthday and I have so much I want to say to you. I’m not sure where to begin so I guess I’ll go back to the very beginning.

It was mid July, I was 22 years old and about 8 weeks post neck surgery. I had recently gone home for a visit and Uncle Jon’s high school graduation party. While I was there Nana and cousin Angie both made comments similar to “Dang Lis, your butt is getting big…you pregnant??” (Leave it to family to hold NOTHING back!) My instant reaction was “HELL NO!”.

After returning home I got to thinking and wondering if maybe I were pregnant and decided to take a home test. IT WAS POSITIVE. I couldn’t believe it, I immediately started crying. First, because I had to tell my parents. I was a 22-year-old woman who was living on her own and I was terrified to tell my parents that I was pregnant. I wasn’t ready to be a parent. I wasn’t married and I hadn’t finished college. Shoot, I still had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up! Second, I didn’t want children. EVER. I knew from an early age that children were not a part of my future.

I couldn’t just sit around and worry and wonder what the hell I was going to do so I went for a drive. During that drive I did what was second nature to me. I grabbed my pack of cigarettes and started to light one up. It took one puff for me to realize what I was doing so I threw that pack of cigarettes out the window.  It was that moment of “wait, this isn’t good for the baby” that knew I already loved you. A lot happened that day. I found out about you. I quit smoking and drinking. I told your dad, our best friends and my parents. And we named you. From day one you were Aidan Bradley.

Being pregnant with you was the best experience any new mother could have ever hoped for. I loved every minute of it and I didn’t need anyone to tell me, I knew I glowed.  It wasn’t the easiest time for me, my whole family lived four hours away. I had friends but there had been separation from that lifestyle for a while so it wasn’t the same and I had started feeling isolated and alone. I put all of my focus into being pregnant with you. I read book after book after book. I talked to Nana on the phone all the time for advice. I made sure I ate healthy and exercised. Feeling you grow and kick assured me that you were healthy and growing a new life made me feel so proud. Knowing you were there with me gave me the solace I needed. You were my peace of mind.

I worked up until the night I went into labor. It was three weeks before my due date and earlier that day I had noticed some changes but had a doctor appointment that morning and was told that we still had a while before you made your appearance, so I didn’t worry. I will never forget waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to get comfortable and feeling what was like a small muscle pull in my side. I got up to use the bathroom and low and behold my water broke. I was in labor and you were going to be here sooner than I thought! I remembered during my childbirth classes that it could be a while before I could shower and eat once we got to the hospital so naturally my first priority was to shower and my second was to get some food on the way to the hospital!

I believe we got to the hospital around 3 a.m. All was going well and things were progressing…until they weren’t. Nothing catastrophic happened but we did stall out and I was exhausted! During those childbirth classes we learned about C-sections and epidurals. Both of those scared me and I wrote in my birth plan that I wanted a natural birth. I was actually really terrified of having an epidural, plus I knew that it could affect your APGAR score and I wanted you to score as high as you could and be as healthy as you could so, no drugs. I remember around 4 p.m. hearing the doctor say to the nurses,”If she doesn’t go by 5 p.m. we will take him”. That meant if I didn’t give birth to you by 5 p.m., they would do a C-section. I like to think that hearing those words gave me what I needed to get the show on the road and kick you out. But really, did I even have that much control over the situation?? You were born naturally, healthy and drug free, at 5:07 p.m. You were a beautiful, easy baby. No other mother was as lucky as I was to have you be my first baby.

Nana used to give me advice all of the time. Most of the time I didn’t ask for it and didn’t want to hear it, but man she was a smart lady! I find myself living by her words every single day. I know you don’t want to hear me “nag” at you but I honestly think that one day you will remember these words of mine and you will find comfort in them, just like I do with what Nana used to say all the time. Here are some things I want you to remember and hopefully you will live by, from me and Nana.

Ask for help. No one is perfect but everyone needs help sometimes and it’s OKAY. It takes a village. I needed a lot of help raising you and I didn’t ask for a long time but once I did things got easier.

If someone asks you for help, help them in any way you can.

Think of others before thinking of yourself and treat others better than they treat you. You never know what someone else is going through so be kind, it might be the happiest moment of their day.

Work hard…Nothing will work unless you do. If you want it, work for it and make it happen. Nothing is given out for free and no one is going to do the work for you so if you want it, it’s up to you.

Play hard…Enjoy your life. Life gets hard and stressful so please, PLEASE remember that while you need to be serious to take care of business, you also need to have fun and laugh. You need to enjoy the simple things. What’s the point of working your ass off if you’re not going to enjoy yourself?

Do what you HAVE to do when you have to do, so that you can do what you WANT to do when you want to do it…I’ve been saying this for years. If you don’t handle your business when you need to then you won’t have time for fun.

Think outside of the box. What I mean is, I want you to think for yourself and figure stuff out. Don’t be afraid to find answers for yourself and don’t rely on others to give you the answers.

While I mean to think outside of the figurative box, I also mean to think outside of the literal box…the phone. Look up and see the actual world through your eyes and not through the screen of a device. There is so much more to be said about your own actual experiences and not just reading or watching someone else’s.

You only get one chance to make a great first impression and you never know when you’ll be in the position to make that impression. With that said, shower. Wash your face. Wash your hair. Brush your teeth. Wear clean clothes. Basically, take care of yourself everyday. Some people will tell you not to care what other people think, I believe otherwise. It’s okay to be yourself and stay true to that, I don’t ever want you to conform to something you do not believe in. However, there are certain people who you are going to want to think highly of you. There are certain people that you should care about what they think of you.

I hope that for as much as you have given to me and taught me, that I have been able to do the same for you. As you turn 18 there are so many things I want to tell you but I’m never sure if what I say conveys what I really mean. I want you to have the world. I want you to love yourself and be confident. I want you to know that you are amazing, you really are. I want you to know that no matter how many times I tell you you’re being a jerk that deep down I’m hoping you know that I still love you so much. And that even though we fight, you are still my first baby…and we are probably fighting because I am so completely torn up inside that you will be leaving home soon and I don’t know how to handle it. I want you to know that you will always have a home where ever I am. I hope you know that no matter how hard college gets or how terrible life seems in the moment, it’s just that, a moment. It will pass and it will make you stronger, smarter, and more prepared for the next moment.

Watching you grow into the person you are has made me so very proud. You are such a sweet old soul with more knowledge than most adults I know. You love your family, it is obvious when you are interacting with your baby brother and hanging out with your little sister. You are a kid who has always known who he is and what he wants and you have never wavered. That is something I truly admire about you because sometimes I still don’t know those things about myself. You don’t ask for much and are happy with what has been provided for you. You’re sense of humor is uncommon for a kid your age, but very much appreciated. I love the empathy you have for others when they are down, the way you want to do something to help and make it better. You are a great person and we are very lucky to have you!

I was a selfish twenty-something before you came along and it is because of you I am who I am today. I grew up because of you, and thankfully we’ve grown up together. You’ve taught me how to care about someone other than myself. You’ve taught me to be a fighter and how to be courageous and strong. You’ve taught me what it means to work hard for what I need and want. You’ve taught me what true, deep unconditional love really is. Honestly, you have taught me things I never knew I needed to know. Finally, you have taught me that not only did I need you, I really wanted you. All along my heart belonged to a child but I couldn’t see that because you just hadn’t arrived yet.

Aidan, you are the first best thing that has ever happened to me.

I love you more than I could ever express in words alone and I can only hope that you feel that love always.

Happy 18th Birthday, Kid! Love, Mom.

 

 

 

 

 

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Creamy Potato Dill Soup

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Saturday night my husband and I went out to a nice local restaurant, which is known for its seafood, to celebrate Valentine’s Day. I already knew I was going to stray from my vegan diet for the night. I love seafood and I told myself that every once in a while it is perfectly okay to fall off the diet, especially for special occasions like celebrating love LOL!

I ended up choosing a shrimp and scallops dish with sautéed veggies, mashed potatoes and a creamy potato dill soup. I had never had this kind of soup and was pretty excited to try it as I recently discovered how much I actually love dill. It’s become somewhat of an obsession and if you haven’t tried Dill and Black Pepper Popcorn, hit me up and I will hook you up!! I was nervous about indulging in this soup because I wasn’t sure how my stomach would handle the cream in the soup and the milk and butter in the potatoes. When my soup came I dug right in. OH MY! It was so delicious, I was in heaven and I am ecstatic to say that I had zero tummy problems the next day!!! This vegan diet is doing wonders for me!

I knew right away that I HAD to learn how to make this at home, but a vegan version. A day or two later I grabbed the almond milk soup base from my pantry to see how I could use it. I ended up grabbing it two weeks ago from the grocery store in the off-chance I might need or want it for a new recipe. Low and behold, right there on the carton is a recipe for creamy potato soup! I also decided to use my handy-dandy tool, Pinterest to see how adding a dill component would work. I didn’t look too long though, instead I just looked through my cabinets and came up with something I thought might work. Enter……my Young Living Dill Vitality essential oil. *insert happy dance here*

Now here is the part where I wanted to say how amazing my soup was and how jazzed I felt to have recreated such a yummy dish. I really wanted to do that. But I’m not going to and this is why…I’m not a chef. Nor am I a food blogger or recipe developer. I’m not even a veteran vegan. I am just an okay home cook trying out a vegan diet to improve health and wellness and who really enjoys cooking meals for my family, when they actually eat them, and who loves the satisfaction of making things from scratch. Not only that, but I don’t want to mislead you or be fake. I had a real life experience and I want to share that not some glorified version of what happened in hopes you will follow me. I still hope you’ll love what I’ve provided you, but I what I really hope is that you’ll appreciate the honesty and maybe even help me out with some tips to make my dream soup even dreamier!!

With that said, my soup came out okay. Not amazing, but okay. Even though I simmered the potatoes for the time suggested, they weren’t cooked all the way through and didn’t mash all the way. I didn’t mind them not being completely mashed because I like a chunkier soup but it ended up being a thinner soup than I was anticipating and I think that’s why. I did try to thicken it up with some cornstarch and it helped a little but still not creamy like I was wanting. As far as spices and herbs, the dill was PERFECT in my opinion. However, I had too much garlic and it made the soup a little darker and heavier than I had anticipated. I didn’t think my garlic press was working so I dumped some garlic powder in. For whatever reason I retried the press AFTER I already dumped in garlic powder and it worked so…I added the minced garlic in as well. I should have left it out but I always hear, “you can never have too much garlic”. Apparently that isn’t always true. My soup could have had a lighter, brighter taste with a thicker, creamier texture but I am so happy I experimented with it!

I want to touch on Dill Vitality essential oil from Young Living. I ordered it for a popcorn recipe and I was somewhat skeptical about it but it was easy enough to make so I went for it. From the moment I opened the bottle I was hooked. Just smelling it makes me happy!! To my surprise Dill Vitality essential oil has more uses than just being used for recipes. It can help aid in digestion and it can also help with weight management. If you rub some on your wrists, or simply smell it straight from the bottle like I do, it can help curb those cravings that get in the way of a healthy diet!

Honestly, I didn’t do anything special, aside from adding the Dill Vitality oil and some dried dill, I just followed the recipe on the almond milk soup base box. I did use a vegan butter rather than a cow’s milk butter to make it vegan. As far as the Dill, I added 2 drops of oil and about a half of a tablespoon of dried dill right after I added the vegetable broth and let it simmer. Once that was done, I added the soup base and another drop of dill vitality oil. At the very end I used some dried dill for garnish. I paired the soup with a fresh garden salad and fresh homemade drop biscuits. The meal was almost fully vegan, I had to use cow’s milk butter in the biscuits because I didn’t have enough of my vegan butter…wah waaaah.

 

And now what you’ve been waiting for…the recipe!!

Creamy Potato Dill Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk soup base
  • 3 drops Young Living Dill Vitality Essential Oil
  • Dried dill for seasoning and garnish

Directions:

  1. Melt butter in large pot. Add onion, salt and pepper. Cook for 2 min.
  2. Add potatoes and garlic. Cook 1 min.
  3. Add vegetable broth and 2 drops of Dill Vitality oil and dried dill. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes.
  4. Mash potato mixture to desired consistency.
  5. Gradually stir in almond milk soup base and one more drop of Dill Vitality oil. Bring to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste and dried dill for garnish.

The soup wasn’t perfect but it was easy and there is promise for a better version…I definitely find beauty in that!!!

Potty Training Blues

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Before I go too far into it here are a couple of things I know already. I know that it could sometimes take a child up until they are four years old to be potty trained. I know that my child is still considered a little young to be potty training. Finally, I know that every child is different and will potty train at his or her pace. With that said, I don’t need to be told “he is too little” because he has already been trained…mostly. That is why I am writing this post.

Just after Gavin turned two I decided we should see where he is at with the potty training. My husband thought I was nuts but he was showing signs of being ready. For instance, he would tell me when he would pee and poop in his diaper. He also wanted to watch us use the bathroom, as well as the older daycare kids who were being potty trained at the same time. I figured, why not!?

I went into it with the mindset that it was just a check in. If he didn’t get it at all then we would back off. Surprisingly enough, within a few days he was staying dry all day. Within two weeks of being taken potty regularly and staying dry throughout the day he was telling us he had to go potty! I was so happy…shocked!

When my older kids were potty training I did what everyone else did, I used Pull Ups for them. My oldest was trained by the time he turned 3 (it was a nightmare because I was a first time mom and clueless). My daughter had a harder time and it wasn’t until around 5 years old that she was staying dry throughout the day. But with Gavin I decided to follow a tip from the of the mom of a boy I took care of. The advice was actually prompted by his Montessori School and I was completely on board when mom asked if I would be okay with doing the same thing. It’s simple, no Pull Ups. That’s right. Go straight from diapers to undies. That little boy was potty trained in less than 2 weeks!!! It was amazing. I strongly urged another family to try the same thing with their little girl as she was pushing the four-year old mark and once we all got on board she was trained in about a week as well. Of course because they were little, there were some accidents but we had what I would call potty training success pretty quick. So when it came time to try it with Gavin I said no to Pull Ups. Like I said, it didn’t take long at all before he was staying dry and then asking us to go potty.

Fast forward about 6 or so weeks….REGRESSION. ????? Why does this have to happen??? So while Gavin was asking to go pee on the potty, he still wasn’t going poop on the potty. He refused and started a pattern of going early morning, or right as he was waking up from nap, while he still had a diaper on. I was fine with that because I know that part of training takes a little longer. Then all of a sudden he started having TONS of accidents, stopped telling us he had to go pee pee, and became constipated. I decided to back off because I didn’t want him being constipated. My daughter had issues with constipation and it has been a really hard road for her where that is concerned. So after putting Gavin back in diapers to avoid pooping problems he absolutely refused to go back to peeing on the potty.

It’s been a few months since being back in diapers and recently he is showing signs of being ready to be trained again. For instance, he will pee in his diaper and then tell me he just did it. He has woken up a few times recently with a completely dry diaper in the morning and at nap time. And he will TELL me when he is about to go poop, then go into the foyer to do his business. His current pattern though is the most frustrating. The last few weeks he has been pooping right after I lay him down for nap, or shortly after. It’s been brutal because after I change him, and hope with will go to sleep, he stays up. My kid will not nap anymore. I’m lucky if I get one nap a week out of him. I’m losing my mind!!! Okay, back to business…this post is about potty training and not my depression over my kid not napping!

Because he has been showing the other signs of potty training, and I’ve seen this pattern of pooping, I’ve decided to use it to my advantage. I’ve started putting him on the potty to poop right before nap time in hopes that he will go because it’s around the same time he has been going. NOPE. He waits me out and then poops as soon as he gets into bed. I’ve been told and I’ve read that a drop of peppermint essential oil in the potty could help. I’ve tried it a few times and I can tell it’s starting to work and then just like that he closes up shop…the little turd! I really thought I was more stubborn than he is but he is proving me wrong. After two attempts today, one before lunch and one after lunch, totaling about an hour and twenty minutes, I put a diaper on him and laid him down. This was after all of the things I tried to keep him calm and relaxed and encouraged to go…essential oils (peppermint in the toilet and Digize on his tummy), hand holding, switching potties three times, Dinosaur Train, Monkey Potty (YouTube it, it’s ridiculous), and some classical music. He passed right out today but the kid was exhausted from waiting me out and holding it in…and because I put a sleepy blend on him during lunch because dammit if he’s not gonna poop on the toilet then he is at least going to sleep!

I’m really trying to find the beauty in potty training…I’m guessing it comes when they are actually trained LOL…but for right now I’m struggling.

 

Why Essential Oils?

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Essential Oils are all the rage these days and after having my own success with oils I fully know why. Most of my friends and family know my love of oils but they don’t all know why I have chosen to start using them or start working the business.  This blog isn’t a chance for me to educate you on essential oils or explain my business. It is however about me, my story, and my journey.

WHERE IT ALL STARTED…Peppermint oil was my first experience with oils, about 7-8 yrs. ago. A Co-worker offered it to me while I had a migraine. I was surprised a few minutes later when my pain had started to ease up. After that, anytime I had a headache I went to her to “dose” me up with her peppermint oil. Slowly I started hearing more and more about oils and started buying some and experimenting, not paying attention to quality and not even knowing that it mattered much. In March of 2016, when I was pregnant with my third baby, I was about to take a flight with my older 2 kids and had a lot of anxiety. I couldn’t drink or take any Xanax to take the edge off and so naturally I whined about it to my friend.  She suggested this calming blend you could buy at Walgreens. I bought it and used it. I was pleasantly surprised that I did notice a difference. During the next year I continued to use drug store brand essential oils and even started diffusing them. I still didn’t know a ton about how oils worked, where they came from or how to be safe with them.

THE TURNING POINT…I have GERD, along with some old injuries that lend to my body feeling pretty crotchety at times, and anxiety. By May of 2017 my GERD had started getting really out of control and I spent the next 10 or so months feeling MISERABLE. I had eliminated what seemed to be ALL of the food. I think I was down to eating oatmeal, eggs, toast, fruits (but not all) and veggies, rice,…you get the idea. My stomach hurt ALL of the time and I was always afraid of eating my next meal. I had a lot of headaches, my joints hurt, and I wasn’t sleeping well.  I had taken turns eliminating gluten and dairy and when I eliminated dairy for the first time I saw small results and I lasted about 4 or 5 months. I did not see any difference when I eliminated gluten. I was taking obscene amounts of anti-acids and too many OTC pain relievers for my headaches and pain. I lost a lot of weight in a very unhealthy way between July and November of 2017, my anxiety was through the roof that summer.  In March of 2018, after a day out with a friend, we ended up back at her house having some dinner and wine and we started talking about essential oils. I was super surprised that she used Young Living essential oils because by now I had heard of the company, but she didn’t seem the “type” to “buy into this stuff”, meaning a direct sales company. Yes, I was Judgy Mcjudgerson. BIG TIME. I had resigned myself to never buying into another direct sales company again. She explained her simple routine and how much relief she had gotten in a short amount of time. I was pretty intrigued and when I got home I started researching essential oils and GERD and became excited that there might be something out there that could actually help me, and it wouldn’t be a pharmaceutical. And not only could they help my digestive system but maybe I’d find help with my anxiety and pain as well. I’m a little bit of a hippie and love all things natural so this was right up my alley! The only reason I decided to do some research and start believing in the possibility of these oils and this company is because while my friend told me her story, she wasn’t trying to sell me. She doesn’t even work the business. She uses the oils in her daily life to help improve her health, simple as that. That spoke volumes to me. So, after a couple of days of doing some research I sat and talked with my husband and said “hey I want to try this and this is why”. I broke down the pricing, what I would get, the benefits and how it all worked. He said, “okay! But only if you promise to not make it a business”…So, I promised. In April of 2018, I got my premium starter kit and within 2 weeks of starting a routine for my GERD I had stopped taking almost all of the anti-acids I had been for almost a year and started EATING again. It sounds drastic but I will never forget the day I decided to celebrate those two weeks of feeling awesome with a piece of Portillo’s chocolate cake! I might have jumped the gun a little on that celebration because I paid for it the next day, but I quickly recovered and got back on track. Have I regressed here and there? Yes.  I am human and to tend to eat when I’m bored and give in to cravings way too easily. Am I currently still on an anti-acid? Yes…however, one a day. If I over indulge then I may have to have a back-up, but I usually get back on track with my oils first before reaching for an OTC. My ultimate goal is to be medication free! Speaking of OTC’s…Advil and Tylenol. I rarely take any these days. The only reason I might take an OTC these days is because of a headache. I get terrible headaches but thankfully not nearly as often as I used to, maybe once or twice a month, and I have yet to reach a point where I don’t need a little extra help in headache relief. Body pain? Yes, I still have pain, but it is so much more manageable and I reach for the oils first and avoid the OTC’s. My anxiety? Almost completely under control now. I still have some moments of panic and anxiety but they aren’t as frequent and they don’t last as long. I will add that about 9 months before I started using the oils I was hypnotized for my anxiety and I saw tremendous results, but for me the oils are what help me maintain and keep myself spiritually and emotionally in check. Since October I have added CBD oil to the mix, as well as a vegan diet shortly after that. A quick FYI – Young Living has announced they have partnered with a company to provide a quality CBD oil that is infused with Young Living essential oils and I cannot wait until it’s released! Between the essential oils kick starting my journey to a healthier body, the CBD oil, and the vegan diet I’ve had a huge amount of progress in under a year!! It hasn’t happened overnight but it is happening and I am so thankful to experience it first hand. I’m actually excited to eat…not only to eat but to try new flavors. I’m not afraid to work out because I don’t want to have to use pain medication the next day which will then in turn hurt my stomach. It’s been an awesome journey so far and I know that I still have a lot more to experience with essential oils. Wanna know my favorite part of this process, aside from how great I feel?? My whole family, husband included, ask for essential oils. It took a few months but the first time my husband said, “What oils can I use for this and can you show me how to use them?”, I practically did cart wheels through the house! To have him on board and really understand the power that these little bottles hold was very exciting for me. My teenagers ask for oils as well for anything from pain to needing some motivation to finish up their homework. I love having my whole family on board and learning about the natural way to help improve their health!

THE JOURNEY IS REALLY JUST GETTING STARTED…I didn’t start working my business until November of 2018, just a few months ago, six months after incorporating essential oils into my life. Remember, I promised not to! Because I have had such great progress I decided that I wanted to share essential oils and hopefully teach as many people as I can how to utilize something so pure and natural. My husband and kids have been so extremely supportive making this process so much more exciting! Early on in my essential oil journey I started making roller bottles for myself and my family. Eventually I started making them for friends and now it has snowballed into an Etsy store that will be open very soon!!!

Now that you know my story I hope you are encouraged to do some research on essential oils and what they can do for you. I hope you are inspired to start your own journey to a more natural, less chemical filled, way of life. Finally, I hope that you remember everyone has something they’re dealing with and while it might not seem like it in the moment, there is beauty lying there waiting to be seen.

My Quick Cleaning Experiment

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This morning I woke up super grumpy. I asked my husband for some time alone and went back upstairs. I diffused some Frankincense while doing a morning yoga flow to help ease my workout soreness from yesterday and hopefully ease up my mood. It helped but I was still wearing the grumpy pants. So while my husband and older son were gone playing football, the baby was sleeping and the daughter was doing homework I got to cleaning. Deep cleaning of the kitchen, in particular the stove. I don’t know why but I enjoy cleaning when I can do it alone and for whatever reason cleaning and organizing tends to make me feel better. Can anyone else relate?

Now, you might judge me based on the pictures you will see. You might not. Either way I am confident you will be impressed because I definitely was.

I cook a lot. I’m guessing the people who lived in the house before us cooked a lot as well because we inherited some pretty gooked up stove burners. I promise that in the 4 years we have lived here I have tried many, many things and scrubbed until my hands hurt to get the black off of the stove. Nothing has come close to what I was able to do this morning.

Here is the before of my stove top. So gross! I am a little embarrassed to be revealing this. I’ve even bought drip pan thingys (that’s what they’re called right?) to go under the burners to catch droppings and to hide the black. Can you tell which side of the stove we usually cook on?? Oh look, there’s a little bottle to the right…wonder what that is!?

Here is the after!! Now I know it might not seem so drastic to you but I swear I have been trying to get this junk off for a long time. It’s not perfect but man it is so much better!!

I bet you’re wondering what I used, aren’t you? You might want to sit down for this because it is super simple. Drum roll please…..I used Young Living Thieves Household Cleaner and Lemon essential oil. Oh, and a bit of elbow grease. THAT’S IT!

I sprayed my diluted cleaner all over and added a few drops of lemon essential oil to each burner and let sit for a while. I did a second soaking after getting the first layers off. Honestly I couldn’t believe it!! And I certainly can’t believe that I’ve been sitting on this treasure of a combo for almost a year without trying it! As a bonus, my kitchen smelled so fresh and clean afterward!

I don’t know if it was the improvement of the stoves appearance or breathing in all that lemon essential oil, but I definitely felt better after and was able to find the beauty. I hope you did too today!

From Young to Gray Part Two

I am just about a week away from the one year anniversary of the blog I wrote about letting my gray hair run wild. I am extremely over due for an update but better late than never, right?? I’m super happy to report that I have stuck with it. I have not colored my hair in over a year!! I’m not gonna lie, there have been a few times, especially when seeing a picture of my pretty colored hair, that I almost told my stylist to get the dye out and cover those bad boys. But in all honesty, I’m really digging my hair. I have natural highlights, I’m saving money and I am not going to the salon every 4 weeks for touch ups. Oh, and let’s not forget I’ve reduced the amount of chemicals I’m exposing my body to! There have been things to get used to, like my appearance. Maybe it’s just me and some lingering insecurities, but I feel like I do myself up just a tad bit more than I would have normally because I want to maintain a youthful appearance. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not high maintenance and of course I leave the house without makeup. Actually I rarely put makeup on. But when there is an event or a get together I feel like I am putting in a little more effort. Texture. The texture of my hair has changed and it was something I noticed immediately with the outgrowth.  It worried me at first because I have been so used to smooth hair due to dyeing it but to be honest I feel like my hair is just as manageable. Confidence. I mentioned lingering insecurities above, and that might be true. But the confidence I feel regarding my hair and my appearance far outweighs any lingering insecurity! I only have a hair cut or two before my hair is completely grown out and I cannot wait!!! I love the variation in the white and silver against my dark hair. So, unless I find myself in some crazy midlife crisis, my hair is staying in its natural state! Wait, maybe me deciding to let it go natural is due to a midlife crisis!?? Either way, I’m happy with it and my hubby likes it too!!

Now for what you really want…the pictures.  My hair is naturally curly, but lately I have been blowing it out and that’s what you will see in these pictures…along with my tired eyes. You can also see the last bit of color that is there. Not too much longer!!!

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So, what do you think? Have you considered going the natural route with your hair?

Until next time, find the beauty friends!

 

 

From Young to Gray

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This post is a long time coming. Well, a few weeks really but it’s been in the back of my mind for a very long time. The decision to let my gray hair grow out was not easy to come to and I had a LOT of anxiety over it. So much so that I consulted with three hairstylists and LOTS of internet and Pinterest pictures. I’ve always been pretty adventurous with my hair. Everything from length to color.  I’ve also always been told I look so young. My girlfriends always tell me my face looks too young to let my gray hair grow out. I was even told by a friend to not let it grow out because no man finds gray hair sexy. I asked my husband if he will still like me if I grow my grays out..he said maybe. (Okay, don’t get up in arms, he was joking!) While all of that went through my mind in deciding my next step I couldn’t help but wonder…What do I even look like with gray hair? What kind of gray do I have, silver, white, dull, bright? Am I even fully gray or is it nicely dispersed throughout? I am not a “high maintenance” kind of woman but I do care what I look like. In my day-to-day life I am extremely casual but when it comes time to be part of functioning society I enjoying getting dolled up and looking cute.  Lately, about a week after getting my hair touched up and colored I would start to see shimmery outgrowth within a week. By the time 4 weeks were up and it was time for my next hair appointment my hair was looking skunk-ish.  I think this was more detrimental to my self-esteem than anything. I always wondered how noticeable my hair was to other people.  Aside from that, trying to fit in appointments every 4 weeks was starting to get stressful…and not to mention pricey.  It was just all starting to seem like a lot more work than I might really be willing to do for just my hair.

Before coming to this decision I did a lot of research on how to grow out the grays and looked at a lot of pictures.  Thankfully in my search I was pleasantly surprised to see many women my age, (I turned 40 last summer) and even younger, rocking out their gray hair.  The hair styles all ranged from short fun bobs to beautiful flowing locks and every shade of gray you can imagine.  Seeing these photos gave me inspiration and a positive outlook on my decision and I was starting to not feel so “old”.

I made the decision to grow out the gray hair a month ago and I’m almost 3 weeks from my last hair appointment.  At that point my hair was already 4 weeks grown out. I took a little length off the back and added some foil highlights only, no touch up to the roots, to help transition the grow out phase.  My stylist initially was hoping for a lighter blonde and not so much a copper color but my hair is pretty dark. Even so, I do think that the highlights helped a lot because I would look like a skunk otherwise. My next appointment is in about 3 weeks to see what the progress is and where we go from there.  So far my hair is growing out really fast and I have to say, I am not that upset.  My curiosity for what I look like with my natural hair grows more and more every day and I think I’ve embraced this transition fully.  I am still a little self-conscious because I can’t help but think that people who see me out and about probably think that I am homeless.  Okay, maybe they don’t but either way I remind myself of the goal and feel reassured that I am doing the right thing for me. And hey, if in the end I don’t like it I can always cover it back up, right?!

So I know you are all thinking, show us the before pictures already!!  Okay, okay…here you go. Just keep in mind…I am not a model and I don’t always think ahead enough to put on make up because I will probably take before pictures later…so basically I look a little rough around the edges, but hey there’s beauty in that, right!?

Here is my before. 4 weeks post all over color. Pretty scary.

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Same night, but after foils to add highlights. Still scary.

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Two and a half weeks post foils. For some reason not as scary.

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So, there ya’ go! The beginning phase of my gray hair grow out.  If any of you are thinking of doing the same, I hope I’ve provided some relief and inspiration.  I’ll continue to update this post with pictures as my hair grows out.  My next appointment is in three weeks!!

Here’s to finding the beauty in gray hair!

 

Protein Pancakes with Juice Pulp

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A few years back I was introduced to protein pancakes. I know there are a lot of different versions but I really like this recipe and recently brought it back to life. There are just three main ingredients and then you can add more if you like.

This simple recipe calls for equal parts oats, egg whites (I use what I have on hand so full eggs it is), and cottage cheese.

I used to mix it all together and throw the cakes onto a heated griddle. But recently I decided to powder up my oats in my Cuisnart Portable Blender.

Once the oats are how I like them I add the eggs to the blender until mixed and then the cottage cheese. So simple! What’s even better is this recipe is easy to double!

Lately I’ve been juicing. A lot. I got into it years ago but recently got a used juicer for a great price and have been drinking at least one juice a day…I’m so proud of myself! With juicing comes pulp. I always feel guilty throwing it away. I might feel better if I had a compost, but I don’t. I started doing a little research on what to do with the pulp and low and behold, there is a ton you can do with it! I decided to throw it my protein pancakes.

The first round went great and everyone ate them up. They were a great consistency too! The second round this morning I was really nervous about. I added beets to my juice and when it came time to mix my batter with the pulp it turned bright red.

I was scared for a moment and thought “this didn’t happen yesterday!!??”…but duh, there were no beets in yesterday’s juice!!

However, I continued on to make 3 small cakes each for my little ones and 3 big cakes. One for myself and one each for the big kids. To my surprise, all the little ones gobbled them up, even though they were red!! (I’m sure it had everything to do with the taste of them and nothing at all to do with the little cups of syrup they had to dip into!! 😁) I was a happy momma!

They don’t look very pretty but they were good. I do think yesterdays batch came out better, consistency and flavor wise, but I would make the red cakes again. Like I said, the little ones ate them without complaint so I consider that a win!

I just love this recipe so much. It is easy, quick, and versatile. These pancakes can be made with just the three base ingredients, you can get crazy with add ins, and they can be savory or sweet!

Recipe:

1 cup oats

1 cup egg white or about 4 whole large eggs

1 cup cottage cheese

1-1 1/2 cups of juice pulp in medium sized bowl.

Add oats to a blender of your choice and powder them up. I like to use the pulse option because I have more control over the texture I end up with. Next, add eggs and pulse until blended together. Then add the cottage cheese and again, pulse until blended. Pour batter on top of pulp and hand mix. I like to add a little cinnamon at this point! Pour batter onto heater griddle and cook until done. Easy peasy!

My New Obsession

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I’ve always been a big DIY-er and crafter. I have done home projects, home repairs, paper crafting and pretty much everything in between. I enjoy it all.  As of July 2017 though my world was rocked when I opened a gift at my 40th birthday party (which my husband threw for me and somehow managed to keep a secret for months!!).  My dad and aunts bought me a Cricut *insert angelic singing praises here*.  I had heard of a Cricut but never knew exactly what it was and I was really excited about figuring it all out. Honestly, it couldn’t have come at a better time than my 40th birthday. A time when many women are feeling lost, confused, run down and in need of a transformation. I definitely fit into all of those categories.  This gift tied in with a gift my husband gave me before my birthday.  A brand new Canon digital camera. Again, my very first one. I was so stoked and surprised and couldn’t wait to get going with it…which I did and have had a blast. Receiving these gifts was rejuvenating for me! It meant I could tie my photography skills and my crafting skills together and run! It’s been a marathon sort of run rather than a sprint, but I have had a blast using my camera and making crafts.  Aside from learning what the Cricut can do with paper I was introduced to vinyl crafting *insert a second round of angelic singing praises here*.  My world will never be the same and I couldn’t be more excited! Since getting these two amazing gifts I have entered three craft fairs, sold some of my hand made crafts, had custom orders, made ALL of our Christmas gifts, done a few photography shoots, and in a few days will help out a local Girl Scout troop earn their photography badge! This to me has been a dream and I am so eternally grateful for the opportunities.  It also means that I can keep expanding my little business and make crafting my full time career.  Like I said before, it will be more of a marathon rather than a sprint, but being able to do it at all is so exciting to me!

Here are some of the things I have created since July! I’ve had a blast creating my own designs or simply finding things on Pinterest to create. These items are a mix of things I made to gift to friends, to sell in fairs, or custom orders.

I can’t wait to see what comes of my crafting in the near future…especially since my husband has declared himself my business manager ;D

I keep finding the beauty.

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Chocolate Banana Bread

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This post was first written in September of 2015 and has been sitting as a draft ever since…WHOOPS!!! A month after drafting this post I found out I was pregnant with my third child.  Not much writing, planning, or crafting was done during that time or the first year after my son was born! But I am happy to say that a few months ago I got back into the swing of crafting with much thanks to my dad and aunts.  They bought me my first Cricut for my 40th birthday and I have been addicted to it since! Now that I have found my groove with my crafts I am ready to find my groove with writing….again.

I am starting with this past draft because after reading it over I realized how valuable it could be to someone who is wanting to implement some healthy baking into their homes.  I love finding different ways to make things healthy and this is a reminder for me that I’m not half bad at doing so! My only regrets with this post is that I failed to take a picture of the bread after it was baked and I haven’t made the bread since. So without further ado, here is my post from over 2 years ago…

I’ve been wanting to write about cooking and meal planning for a while and today I was moved to plan, cook and write. Today I’m going to share how I found a recipe and made it my own and healthy. Just a warning, I’m no professional!!! I’m definitely an amateur but I enjoy sneaking healthy stuff into our diet (I should probably do it way more often than I do) and this time EVERYONE loved the bread and no one suspected how healthy it actually was.

Today I baked chocolate banana bread with my little daycare children. They were so cute and more than willing to help out…and gobble up the bread at snack time! I had pinned a recipe for chocolate banana bread on Pinterest a while ago, but never got to it. Honestly, who REALLY does??

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Here’s the original recipe: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/259942209718832824/

While I’m a huge fan of sweets and junk food I want to feed my kids healthy food. I’ve been motivated lately to do so even more because my son has been eating really bad and he’s an athlete. He’s a typical teenager though and grabs whatever is easy and convenient to eat. If he has to prepare anything, forget it. Of course, there is always room for improvement. I’m by no means Miss Susie Homemaker and even though I have really good intentions, I’m not that consistent. As I read over this recipe I immediately saw where I could make some adjustments and substitutions and got to work.

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First, I gathered all of my ingredients and supplies. It just makes the process a little bit easier for me!

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Second, I measured everything out. Doing this made it easier for the little ones to help, and shortened their wait time while helping.

I have to say, watching little kids get excited about cooking is really sweet. They really do love learning and soak it all up. At one point there was a bunch of coconut flour on the table and my little guy was swooshing it all around the table, smelling it and clapping his hands so the flour would fly through the air. My little girl enjoyed smelling all of the ingredients and rubbing brown sugar through her fingers. Not only did they get to learn and experience cooking, but they got a sensory activity out of it as well!

Okay, back to the recipe…I’m going to begin by saying that the ingredients I have pictured I happened to have at home already, I did not go out and buy anything special. Also, this was a total experiment and I was kind of nervous. Sometimes I’ll substitute one ingredient, this time I substituted 3 ingredients and left out 3…talk about living on the edge!!! The three things I left out were the vanilla extract, the chocolate chunks and the mini chocolate chips. I know, I know. I left out three of the most important things, but I didn’t have any on hand, but I felt confident that what I was putting in was going to make a good banana bread.

Here are my substitutions:

3 ripe bananas –> 2 ripe bananas = That’s what I had and it worked out great!

1/2 cup unsalted butter –> 1/2 cup applesauce = So much healthier than butter, still maintains the moisture and adds a serving of fruit.  I use Indian Summer applesauce because it’s the only one that I’ve found that doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup in it. (EDIT: there are now many brands that offer applesauce without high fructose corn syrup)

1 cup all purpose flour –> 1 cup coconut flour =

1/2 cup cocoa powder –> 1/2 cup of Ovaltine = Again, I had it on hand. (My kids love Ovaltine and use it after work outs instead of traditional chocolate syrup and I don’t feel as bad letting them have it on a regular basis) I figure why not add some vitamins while we’re at it!

Added 2 tbsp of Chia seeds –> Why not add a little bit protein and fiber!

I followed the recipe, just with my substitutions, and put it in the oven. It turned out great and we had no left overs!

See ya’ next time!