The Two Men.

I wasn’t sure how to even title this post. But after something I saw today, I felt compelled to write. 

Let me start this off by saying we all have faults. We all have issues. Some of us come with more “baggage” than others. I am one of those people. So when I see others hurting, I can relate.

I was driving home from a neighboring town tonight when I was sitting at a red light and I happened to glance over and see two men, probably in their 50’s, huddled together. I found it odd at first and then I saw one man stumble back. The other got out a lighter and helped the other man light up this tube. Now, my baggage has never been drugs, but I knew pretty clearly what they were doing. I could’ve looked on in disgust. I could’ve judged them harshly because they are making a poor decision in their life that I would never do. But instead, my heart broke for them. 

We are living in very dark times friends. I have stopped reading the news. It breaks my heart on all the horrible stories that are out there. Just like these two men, they need something to take away the pain. They need a quick fix. The need validation. They need love.

We can search for love in anything. Cars, more money, fame, extramarital affairs, shopping, big lavish things, the list goes on. But just like a drug…you get a high for awhile, but then reality sets in.

When you take a step back and think, what is making you feel so unloved? Are you looking into the right things to find this love, this happiness? Are you filling truly fulfilled by the end of the day?

With things in my life, I know I have struggled. I have an amazing husband, four beautiful children, a roof over our heads. But I was unhappy. You see, back in 2009 I asked the Lord into my heart. I was struggling with being a new mom and being completely and utterly overwhelmed with that. I didn’t know where else to turn because nothing was “fulfilling” me. I cried out to Him and told Him I just couldn’t do it alone anymore. He new exactly what I meant. At that moment my life changed. I found peace, happiness, validation. I felt like I could take on the world!!! 

Over the years, being a Christian, comes with its own struggles. Evil is very real and the devil is out to destroy. He has challenged me many of times, even recently. Sometimes I even feel like God has one arm and the devil the other, and I’m in the middle being pulled. God always wins. He always will. Just like when you will fight to your last breath for your child, He will fight for you. I can always trust that although we are human and we make mistakes, He will always be there to love us. He will always be there to fullfill us. He is the quick fix we need. 

My heart broke for these men because their hurting inside left them with numbing it with drugs. If they could only see what I see on the other side of the pain. 

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

Back to Homeschool.

back to school

It’s that time of year…Sandwiched between the July 4th decorations and Halloween, it’s the back to school supplies at every store around.

This is the time of year that I stock up on glue, washable crayons (we had an episode with a crayon, clothes, and a dryer), and anything else for crafting during the year.

We homeschool. Never in a million years did I think I would utter those words, but then again, I never thought I would have four kids! In fact, we unschool. Now that doesn’t mean it’s a free for all and my children can run around and do whatever they please. Believe me, that’s what I thought unschooling meant. It simply means in our home that our children are free to learn about what they are passionate about. 

Take my oldest for example…..she loves birds. She is obsessed with them. She can tell you what type of bird it is, where they live, what they eat, wingspan, the list goes on. And that is with hundreds of different birds. Through that she has learned all about science, math with calculating different problems dealing with birds, working with money to buy certain books about birds and raising them, geography by learning where different birds are located, and history how certain birds played a role in the making of our country. The list goes on. When we school with our children’s passions, it makes school more fun and honestly easy too. Sure, she may not learn a specific thing that some children her age in public school or other curriculums are learning, but their is always time for that. We have the rest of our lives to learn! We encourage our children to pursue their passions. We have found in the 5 years of schooling, this shows the best results. 

We do have time in the morning for a math lesson, and reflection time which also works on her writing but shhhh, I don’t think she is onto me with that one! But the rest of the day consists of exploring, creating, encouraging, and failing (a big one we often don’t think about). All these things shape our children into young adults. But I want my kids to be kids. I want them to play hard. I want to see them get dirty by exploring mud (ok, maybe not painting their youngest brother from head to toe in mud, but you get the idea). I want to see them be able to rest and relax. Enjoy nature. Watch a butterfly and observe what it does. Sit with a dying chick. Make a pulley system. Catch squirrels in a homemade trap. I want their little wheels in their heads to turn, problem solve, feel. And many children can do that in any situation. But you know what? I love being able to see that with my own eyes and not being told about it. I love to see one of my kids struggling with something and giving them a moment to figure it out and the look on their face when they do. Just like when all my babies took their milestones when they were little. To me, it doesn’t stop there. To me, that is only the beginning of the journey.

Sausage Zucchini Boats

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Everything from this meal came from our garden except the sausage. And what an amazing meal it was!! I’ve been really trying to utilize what we have in our garden to feed our family as well as our livestock (by that I mean our rabbit and chickens). I figured why not give this a try….and well, I’m glad I did!! Here it is:

Sausage Zucchini Boats

1 Lb of sausage

1 Green pepper chopped

1 Onion chopped

1 Jalapeno pepper chopped fine

1 Medium tomato chopped

Real salt

Pepper

Granulated garlic

Olive oil

Directions: Slice zucchini in half and scoop out the seeds. Rub with olive oil and spices. Take sausage out of its casing and brown with the pepper, onion, jalapeno pepper, and tomato. Add spices, stir, and add to zucchini. Bake at 350 uncovered for 25 min. Let cool 5 min and serve. AMAZING!!!

You could add so many things to this.I’m going to try this as a breakfast dish with egg too!!  I love zucchini for this reason. It has such a mild flavor that you can pair it with just about anything!!

Tuna Cakes with Avocado and Quinoa

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Tonight I had no meal plan. I have been running around today, and forgot to thaw something out so I needed think fast. The kids had the usual gluten free pasta and sauce, but I decided to give this a try for us grown ups. The tuna with the horseradish sauce topped with the creamy avocado makes for an explosion of flavor in your mouth!  I came up with this and honestly, I will definitely be making this again!! Here’s how to make it:

Tuna Cakes with Avocado and Quinoa

2 Large cans of tuna (drained)

1 Egg

1/2 Small onion diced

A few sprigs of flat leaf parsley (minced)(reserve some for garnish)

Onion powder

Celery salt

Pepper

Garlic powder

1 Avocado sliced

Horseradish sauce (mayo and horseradish mixed together)

Quinoa (prepare according to package)

Red beets (for garnish)

Olive oil

Directions: In a bowl, add drained tuna, spices, onion, egg, and parsley. Mix. Heat olive oil in cast iron skillet. Form tuna into balls the size of your hand and flatten to make a patty. When oil is heated, place into skillet. Cook until browned and crispy on both sides (approx 5 min). Cook quinoa and plate. Place cakes on top. Drizzle with horseradish sauce and top with avocado and parsley. Add cooked red beets for a beautiful finish.

You could definitely use crab meat instead and that would taste amazing!! In fact, that is now on my list!! You could also try out different sauces. Tuna really can go with anything. Plus, it’s cheap. And when you’re on a budget, I welcome that!! Enjoy!!

 

 

 

 

Fire Roasted Stuffed Peppers with Quinoa.

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With an abundance of peppers coming into the garden, I wanted to make something for dinner with them. Traditionally, I usually make stuffed peppers with brown rice but I wanted to try something a little different. The meal itself is simple, just a few things here and there, but the taste packs a punch. Here is how I made them.

Fire Roasted Stuffed Peppers with Quinoa

1 Can of organic fire roasted tomatoes

1 Lb grass fed hamburger

4 Cups of cooked quinoa

3 Peppers sliced in half

Garlic

Real salt

Onion powder

Celery Salt

Pepper

Olive oil

Directions: Cooked hamburger in a little olive oil and spices until brown. Set aside. Cook quinoa using package instructions (double). Slice pepper and place into a pot of boiling water for 3 minutes. Place in baking dish. When quinoa is cooked, add ground hamburger and mix. Stuff peppers with quinoa mixture. Spoon roasted tomatoes on top. Bake uncovered at 350 for 20 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes and serve. Enjoy!!

Guacamole Chicken with Cucumbers.


Need a way to use up all those cucumbers in your graden? Here is a really easy recipe that is a staple in the summer! This recipe is gluten free, healthy, filling, and would be great for entertaining. Here’s how to make it.

Guacamole Chicken with Cucumbers

1 Cucumber sliced

2 Avacados mashed

2 Small chicken breasts grilled and diced

Granulated garlic

Real salt

Lime juice

Red onion for garnish

Directions: Slice cucumber while grilling chicken. Pull chicken off grill and let cool. Mash avacados in bowl adding spices and lime juice. When chicken cools, dice into small pieces. Add to guacamole. Mix. Place sliced cucumbers on platter and add chicken/guacamole. Garnish with red onion. Enjoy!

This is an amazing recipe. Definitely one to add to your recipe box!

Gluten Free Fried Green Tomatoes.


I would say, “why should gluten free people suffer and not enjoy the things they once did”? But it’s a mind frame. I don’t “suffer” because I choose to not eat gluten. I suffer when I choose not to eat gluten free. So a part of me fell off the wagon this week. I tell you this because nobody is perfect, and we all have setbacks. This week was mine. I was quickly reminded about my choices with a sore foot, water retention, exhaustion, etc. I was never so glad to eat a salad in all my life. It just isn’t worth it. It’s amazing even in people who say that gluten doesn’t effect them, what it is really doing on the inside of your body. 

So what do you do when you have these hiccups in your relationship with a new idea of eating? Make better choices. Now I’m not saying eat fried green tomatoes every night. After all, they are still fried. But once in a while, sometimes you want to have something like this. Mine will make you happy and satisfy any craving you may have. Here’s how to make them:

Gluten Free Fried Tomatoes 

1 Large green tomato

2 Eggs (egg wash)

Gluten free flour (I used brown rice flour)

Granulated garlic

Real salt

Chili powder

Pepper

Onion powder

Olive oil for frying

Directions: On two plates place the eggs on one slightly beaten. On the other, flour with all the spices (choose the amount of spices if you wish). I use at least a tablespoon per spice (except salt) for 1 1/2 cup flour. Mix and set aside. Slice tomatoes at least a 1/4 in thick. In a cast iron skillet heat olive oil. Place tomato in flour both sides, then egg wash, then flour again. Put in hot oil. Fry approx 2 min each side or until golden brown. Make dipping sauce and serve. Enjoy!

Dipping Sauce

2 Tbsp mayo

2 Tbsp horseradish 

Mix and serve

Why Living with Less is Best.

living with less

I remember like it was yesterday…I owned at least 10 pair of stilettos, a huge wardrobe, and probably every hair care product on the market. We had a brand new car, spent money on things we didn’t need, but it was okay because we were both working and only had one child.

Fast forward 9 years…. I own 1 black pair of stilettos, a wardrobe from the salvation army, and a brush, a few bobbie pins, and coconut oil for my hair. Our car is used (nice, but used), only spend money on things we need, because I now stay home and raise our four children.

That’s a huge difference in 9 years huh? Not really. It was gradual. I’m a pretty impulsive kind of person, but with scaling back on things? Not so much. So you ask, “well why did you scale back then”? I got tired of being able to buy whatever I needed whenever I needed quite frankly. It is so easy to say you need something and pick up a computer and buy it. It doesn’t even give us a chance to think if we really need the item.

So we stopped buying new and started shopping thrift stores and yard sales. I really liked it!! I liked the challenge of not knowing what treasure you were going to find, and when you did it was more than half the price. This began my journey into the frugal world.

But it didnt stop there. I wanted more by having less. What I mean was, I wanted to learn skills I had never learned before such as gardening or changing a cloth diaper on a wiggly baby (yes, that is a learned skill folks). I wanted more time with my family too. When we surround ourselves with “things”, it takes the focus off of the people in our lives. For example, my brain goes insane with clutter. I shut down. So I decided one day to revamp the kitchen (really donate a bunch of things I didn’t need but revamp sounds so HGTV right)? I started there because that was the biggest headache. I only kept things I needed. Ice cream maker? Gone. Extra plates so when we have 100 guests over ( um, we never)? Gone. Stuff on the counter that was just cute but served no purpose? Gone. What I kept were cute mason jars filled with spices, and different grains, etc. Everything I have in my kitchen was there because it needed to be there. I wasn’t stressed anymore. In fact, it was great. I went on to do the other rooms in the house. I sold or donated things we didn’t need and it was cleansing.

So what did I learned from all of this? When we got rid of “stuff” it opened my mind to calm. I spend more time with the kids because I’m not constantly stressed about what needs to be done. I did less housework (that right, that is enough for me to have a spriritual moment!!), I was happier. Then I began to think “what if we decluttered every aspect of our lives”? So we did. Instead of having something planned everyday, we took breaks in between. We let the kids have downtime…we had downtime. Instead of going to an amusement park, we went to the lake and fished. We saw a difference in our kids. They were calmer and happier. Not that we don’t do fun things like that with our kids, we just scale back and let them enjoy nature around them. They learn so much about themselves through that.

And I’m not finished there. I would love to live off grid. Or in a tiny log cabin house and have only what we need. That will have to be someday. To everything there is a season. But when we get to that season, the possibilities will be endless!

 

Cucumber Salad


Summer would not be complete without this dish. This is a great way to find something quick and easy as a side for breakfast, lunch, or dinner! They have many recipes out there, but I make mine super easy because sometimes you just don’t have time! Here is how I make mine:

Cucumber Salad

3 Cucumbers peeled and sliced thin

2 Tomatoes seeded and chopped

1 Small red onion sliced thin

1/2 Bottle of Italian dressing

Directions: Wash your cucumbers and tomatoes. Peel off some of the peel so it makes strips of green. Slice thin and place in bowl. Cut tomatoes. Take as many seeds out as you can. Chop and put in bowl. Slice onion thin and add to bowl. Pour dressing on top. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Serve and enjoy!

You can also use white vinegar and honey instead of dressing. I have made them both ways. Honestly, I just mix vinegar and honey together until it tastes good! No recipe for that!! I didn’t want to use up all my honey since the budget only allowed for a little jar of honey this week.

Enjoy!

How we healed our dogs scratching naturally.


We had tried everything for Maggie. Our Lab/Weimaraner mix has suffered from allergies since we got her 7 years ago. We adopted her when she was 1 from a local shelter. She was on medication at the time for lymes disease, but aside from that, she was a healthy, happy puppy.

Then, in her second year with us we started to notice her breaking out with yeast all over and scratching. She would scratch so bad that she would tear open her skin and she looked miserable.

So on the steroid she went. And again. And again. She was gaining weight, lethargic, ate more, and was miserable. We didn’t know what to do for her. She stopped itching, but her quality of life was slim and null.

The vet would take her off and put her back on the steroid which we were not happy about, but we couldn’t find what was wrong. We switched her food to grain free and made sure she didn’t eat table scraps. It helped, but she still scratched.

The vet put her on a low dose of steroid and she still scratched. It was heartbreaking. I knew something had to give. I went to the holistic pet store that opened in our town and talked to the young man. He knew his stuff. He told me how canned dog was actually the better of the two (dried vs. canned). I put her on venison because I know beef and chicken make her itch. Then talking to two different friends, one suggested flax meal for itching and the other Greek yogurt. Both would reduce itching and put good flora back into her gut. Last, the yeast overgrowth. I did some reading and saw that apple cider vinegar aids with that. So, I tried all of them. And…….it worked!!!! After about a month, I noticed a HUGE difference. She no longer was scratching, she stopped sleeping so much, and she looked happy. She has been eating this way for about 6 months and looks fantastic! Here is what I give her:

1 can Nutripe venison (1/2 morning, 1/2 evening)

1 tbsp Greek yogurt plain (each meal)

1 tbsp ground flax meal (each meal)

1 capful of apple cider vinegar (each meal)

Direction: Add to dog bowl. Yogurt on side. Dog food on other side with apple cider vinegar on top and then ground flax.

Always make sure your dog has fresh water and plenty of exercise.

As for the cost? It costs about 80.00 for the canned food. About 20.00 more than the dry food we had her on. The other medicine the vet wanted to put her on cost 80.00 a month and all it did was block her system from feeling like she has to scratch and came with a ton of side effects. To us, this is money well spent.

Maggie is now a healthy and happy dog. She no longer scratches. Her immunity is back up. She lost weight. She is happy. All from doing it naturally.