Lip Balm

Several years ago I made some homemade lip balm. It involved olive oil, peppermint, beeswax and honey.  It turned out ok, but I noticed my big container started leaving a nasty aftertaste on my lips after using it. Yuck!   I don’t know what caused the taste, but it was probably just due to it being old.

Well, last week I decided to search pinterest for different lip balm recipes and found one that I had all the ingredients to!  I was so excited! The recipe is found at Nourishing Minimalism. 

Here are the ingredients I used:

DSC_4894 copyCoconut oil is my favorite oil in the world. I love the smell and taste of it! I also love the smell of beeswax, so this was the perfect blend for me. 🙂  I didn’t put very much peppermint (about the amount called for in the recipe) in my lip balm. Just enough to give it a subtle hint of it being in there. I also didn’t have the lip balm tubes – something I need to order sometime soon, especially if I make any more.  The little containers I used are to store extra paint in and are not very good for lip balm. They are hard to get into. lol

So if you didn’t click on the Nourishing Minimalism link above, here is the recipe:

1/2 cup coconut oil (I used more and will use probably use 3/4 cup or more next time)

1 ounce bar of beexwax. I had ordered this from some time ago.

8-10 drops of the vitamin E oil

6 drops of the peppermint oil

I put the coconut oil and beexwax in a small pan and filled up my medium pan with hot water on the stove enough to float my small pan in and let the wax and oil melt in there.

DSC_4888 copy

Once it was all melted I added the peppermint and vitamin E oils and mixed it up with a whisk.  Once it was all blended I put the mixture in a pourable measuring cup and poured it into each little cup and my other container (that I’m keeping for myself).  I love it!

DSC_4890 copy (1)

I took this same recipe and switched out the peppermint oil with lavender oil (10 or more drops to smell delightful) and made hand lotion bars.  It really helps that dry winter skin on the hands.

Bucket List

I don’t have a bucket list, but I’m thinking I should write one.  So far, since I stopped writing on this blog, I have done a bunch of things I could mark off such list, if I had one.

Last year I went to hunter’s safety course, and passed, so I could go hunting with my boys. Hunting was quite cold and not really on my list of things to do, but I did it. One of those things I never would have thought to put on my bucket list.

hunting hunting2 hunting3

Last December Eric and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary and our gift was a concert.  I had never been to a concert like that in my life. We went and saw Tran-Siberian Orchestra’s Lost Christmas Eve.  It was such an exciting and fun experience! 🙂

TSO2 TSO3 TSOticketsWinter lasted forever last year and I think this coming winter will probably do the same. It has been chilly these first days of October.  It’s a beautiful time of year though!  I love fall leaves!  Their smell, the crunch under my shoes and their beautiful colors!

Photography has been happening, though I haven’t been shooting a lot lately. :\ I did 2 photo shoots in September. One was a wedding and another was a maternity shoot.  Weddings are beautiful and I think I really love SMALL weddings! I’ve never shot a big wedding, but it’s not on my bucket list. 🙂 I get stressed out about small ones enough that a big wedding would just send me over the edge. hehe Anyway, it’s been an ok year as far as sessions go. I would definitely love more sessions.

This past July we went on vacation and had such a great time!  Vacation is NEVER long enough!  We decided to do a sight seeing trip and just enjoy the USA.  Our first stop was Colorado to visit my Aunt Cindy and Uncle Fred.  It was a visit that was too short, but we loved every minute of it!  My bucket list item from there was sitting on the summit of a mountain!  I had been to Colorado before, but never did that.  It was exciting, dizzying, and the road up the mountain was a tad scary!

DSC_0652 copyEric made a snowman in July because he could.

DSC_0496 copyDSC_0561 copy DSC_0582 copy DSC_0630 copyThe kids liked their mountain top experience ok, but Grace was a little freaked out over the heights.  Ryan experienced altitude sickness the worst out of all of us. He and Grace didn’t climb up to the summit of Mount Evans because it was freezing and scary. 🙂  Nathan came along!

We traveled through 16 states total on our trip and the kids still talk about it and what a great time vacation was this year!  I’m so glad!  It was such a fun, family time together!  I hope we can do another trip next summer and make more memories like that!

We started school in mid-August and I am enjoying the school year.  Of course, I was more excited about starting school than everyone else in the family. hehe  We are in Paths of Progress this year and are enjoying learning about different inventors this year!  Nathan is technically supposed to be a 9th grader this year, but i decided to just hold him back one more year.  I figure it’s ok if he graduates at 18.  🙂  Ryan is 7th grade and Grace is 5th grade this year.  These last few years of homeschooling have been so wonderful!  We love the Trail Guide to Learning series, and I am so thankful for them!

Maybe I’ll sit and write out a bucket list of things I’ve already done and things I would like to do in the future and make a page for it on my blog.

God is Good.

GIVEAWAY at New Life On A Homestead!

New Life on a Homestead is a blog  I have been following for some time and I love her site!  All kinds of neat ideas for homesteading and how to do it!

There is a GIVEAWAY there for an awesome Homekeeping Kit.

I love to enter these kinds of things.

Can’t hurt to try, right? 🙂

So get yourselves over there and enter for your chance to win

a Homekeeping Kit  by Irish Twins Soap Co.

Check out their site too!  I love soaps! 🙂

An Awesome Recipe

           Grain-free, sugar-free, dairy-free and OH. SO. TASTY!

These are even Eric approved and he is a tough food critic!


They turned out nice and fluffy.  They taste wonderful.


This recipe is from the The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen.  Do cruise the site if you have a chance.

They don’t know me at all, but I am enjoying their site a lot!

Grain-Free Pumpkin Cupcakes <– you can click on that to see the site where I got the recipe.

Here is the recipe:

½ cup coconut flour
½ cup arrowroot 
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground 
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 tsp baking 
½ tsp sea salt

1 ¼ cups pumpkin puree
1 cup soft medjool dates, 
½ cup melted coconut oil
4 large organic 
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

I mixed the dry ingredients in a separate bowl.  
The wet ingredients were a little more tricky, but workable.
I don't have a Vitamix blender, but I did use my blender.
The only thing I did was soak my dates in water for a good 10 minutes to soften them up.
Then put all the wet ingredients in my blender and blended until smooth.

After blending I mixed the wet ingredients with the dry until mixed.

Baked them at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes in a greased muffin tin.
Enjoyed eating a couple after they were cooled off a little.

Then I decided to try making the dairy-free "cream-cheese" frosting the next day.
This turned out so good, too!
You have to scroll down the cinnamon roll recipe to find the frosting recipe.
It really did top off the muffins perfectly!
The only thing I changed in the frosting recipe was exchanging the maple syurp for honey.
Didn't have the maple syrup.  
It turned out just fine.

Survived and a Few Other Things!

Yesterday was the blog radio show and you can find it archived HERE.  Let me say that I was terribly nervous and you can probably tell.  Yes, me, the talker was nervous talking.  Weird, huh?  It was a great experience though.

Hopefully NEXT week (September 7th, same time as yesterday’s show) I won’t be as nervous and can make some sense when I do talk! 🙂   The other young ladies did excellent!  I’m not sure if Caitlin has a blog, but Caroline does.

I found Caroline’s blog through Pinterest, before I met her by phone (I LOVE pinterest, let me tell you!).  Her site is called GUTSY.  She follows the GAPS diet.  Her site tells all about her journey to change her life and her health.

I started this on Saturday, Sept 1st.   It has been a wild week, especially since I’m only just getting back to this post!

Tomorrow (Friday, September 7th) at 12:30pm will be another Blog Radio Show continuing with the topic of “What Are We Feeding Our Children?”  <—–click on those words and you’ll go the site.  Judy is a wonderful host and a very sweet lady!  I’m more excited about this week’s show and less nervous, even though I feel less prepared for this week’s show. 🙂

I am by no means an expert in this area (quite new to this actually), but I am a mom and a wife that wants to feed her family better foods and live a healthier life.  This journey is an interesting one.  You try to learn all you can and not be overwhelmed.  It is about taking small steps to healthier eating and living.  You can’t change everything overnight, but you can make little changes.

One of the first things I did was start to make my own laundry soap.  I did this to save money more than anything.  I also take small steps to try learning to be more self-sufficient.  It’s neat to be able to make things you can use here in the home.  There are many recipes for all kinds of things!  I’ve started making deodorant (for myself), toothpaste, lip balm, foaming hand soap, oil cleansing method (for cleaning my own face), and a whole list of other projects that I want to try!

Food is something I have been trying to improve on recently.  I make a lot of homemade meals and snacks, but I know I can do better.  My children are more resistant to changes, but I think fazing out some of the other foods and replacing them with tasty, homemade foods will be better for them.  Eric and I have not been eating wheat for over a month now.  We started as a way to lose weight, but I really like how I feel not eating it.  Eric likes losing weight without having to exercise. 🙂   I’ve been reading the Wheat Belly Blog and it sure does paint a different picture about wheat and its role in our lives (or rather how much better off we are without it).  It has been fun experimenting with other types of “flour” and just eating more vegetables and fruit.  I also have to say that I haven’t read the Wheat Belly book by Dr. William Davis, but I should some day soon!

These are just some of the small changes we’ve been making in our lives in recent weeks and months.

Week 1 – Done!

My kiddos on the first day of school.

I know it’s a repeat picture, but I can’t help myself.

Nathan  listening as his brother reads.  He’s so serious, I know.

Really, he was listening just fine until he realized I was about to take a photo.

Ryan doing his daily read aloud.  This is during our first day of school.

I LOVE Paths of Exploration.

It’s such a different way of schooling, but a wonderful different.

Grace is here doing her copywork.  She likes to do this part.  🙂

Now, I love POE because it covers so many different topics!

We’re still trying to find our groove and figure out how to make it work for us,

but it is going wonderfully.  At least in my opinion.

Grace minced a clove of garlic for the kid’s cooking part of the lesson today.

Ryan was using kitchen shears and cutting of the gross pieces from the chicken tenderloins.


Nathan cried his way through dicing up an onion. 😥

He made sure he let everyone know he was not really crying.

I was just having fun teasing him a little about it.

This is the almost finished meal of Chicken Paella.

Sooo delicious I tell ya!

I ate a whole bowl and then a little extra.

And a little extra after that.

The kids enjoyed their time in the kitchen and it was fun helping them out!

Fridays are a nice, relaxing day where we just catch up on what wasn’t done during the week.

That’s probably one of the things I love about POE.  I also love how everyone is involved in the learning processes!

They all learn differently, but it kind of appeals to everyone.

Wheat Free, Say What??

   My bloggy friend, Tracy, had a really good post about a week or so ago.   It was her openness about her issues with weight and how she’s tried so many different things to lose weight, but it just doesn’t go away.  She then shared a link in her comment section to Wheat Belly Blog.   Well, I’m not hugely overweight for my size, but I’d like to lose a few.  I wasn’t really thinking about myself so much while reading that blog link, but I was thinking about my husband.  He has had a hard time losing weight for years and I thought “Why not give this a try?!”   Of course, it was all well and good in my mind, but I didn’t know what Eric would feel about it.  So the morning after I read that Wheat Belly Blog, I texted him a message about going “wheat free” and see how we’d do with it and he agreed to it – amazingly!  
  My husband is very skeptical when it comes to anything like this.  🙂  He made a “deal” with me.  He said, “I’ll just not ‘believe in’ this and go along with it and you can ‘believe in it’ and we’ll both see how we feel at the end.”    Today marks our first whole week without wheat.  Well, we had 2 days where we did cheat . . . our son’s birthday was this past Friday, so we HAD to have a cupcake Friday and Saturday, lol.  Insanely sweet, but so good for a few minutes.   Eric says he doesn’t feel any better or worse not eating wheat.  I, on the other hand, do feel a little better.  Not as draggy and overstuffed and bloaty.  I lost nearly 5 pounds in the first couple days and I do believe it was water weight or something.  Eric has lost about 5 pounds, too.  He said he’s happy if he can lose weight and NOT exercise. . . work has been extra stressful for him these days and he hasn’t had the energy for much of anything else after he gets home at the end of his 11 hour work days. 
Right after we decided to go wheat free, I started looking online for wheat free ideas and recipes.  Of course, Pinterest has TONS of wonderful, tasty ideas. 
The almonds are soaking in water here.   I got the idea to make my own Almond Flour @ ADDICTED to VEGGIES:  How to make raw almond flour .  Don’t know if I did something wrong here or what.  She said the almonds will just pop right out of their skin after soaking them for 8 hours.  Mine soaked for, oh, a good 12 hours or more and none of my almonds just “popped” out of the skin.  I was very saddened by this.  My almonds needed peeled and my poor thumb nail got cuts underneath from the skins.  It was a painfully long process, too.  I had 3 cups of almonds soaking here.  They bloat up a lot, too.  It was not a fun experience for me. 
The next day I decided to dry them out in the oven.  They are still sitting on my counter, in a storage baggie, waiting for me to grind them in the blender.  I still am having trouble looking at them.  🙂 
We have a local organic food place and I’ve been there once before just to window shop.  Last week, I decided that since we are going wheat free, that I wanted to order some wheat free flours to substitute from time to time.  I ordered Brown Rice Flour, Spelt Flour, and Coconut Flour.  I’ve made a loaf of bread with the spelt flour in my bread machine.  It turned out ok, but is definitely different in texture than regular bread.  It was a no-go for Eric.  The coconut flour bags have recipes on the back, so I tried both of them.  One was brownies and the other was chocolate chip cookies.  If you like coconut flavor, you’ll like these wonderfully tasty snacks!  They are different in texture, but not grossly different.  They are Eric approved and he DOES like coconut. 🙂 
This whole “wheat free” eating is a whole new ballgame.  There are lots to learn and I’m always obsessed with something when I’m trying to learn it. 
Here are a couple other snacks I attempted.  The first picture is kind of a ‘larabar’ type snack bar.  I took dates, almonds, and craisins and blended them and mixed them together.  I put them in a long, skinny bread pan I have and put them in the fridge for a bit.  They cut easily and I put them in baggies and put them in the fridge.  Another recipe I want to try is Apricot Coconut Energy Bars.  I found it on Pinterest, of course.   The middle and last pictures are my attempt at Gluten-Free Quinoa Thins.  These were definitely tasty, but not that crispy of a texture.  I had taken my quinoa and put it in the blender to make it more powdery.  Little did I know even MORE powdery would be way better and probably cooking them on a regular cookie sheet instead of my Pampered Chef stone would be a better choice, too.  Or maybe leaving them in the oven a lot longer on the stone?  I don’t know for sure.  Guess I’ll have to experiment some more.  I put more quinoa in my blender and decided to sift out the bigger parts and just keep grinding.  I think I have 2 cups of  mostly ground quinoa now.  It was a long process and I’ve been hoarding it since. 🙂  I’m thinking I really want a vitamix or some really good blender or food processor.  My old Oster brand blender is great, but it’s just not as versatile as I’d like. 
The kids are not doing a “wheat free” lifestyle change at this point.  Ryan said, “Don’t take away my bread!”    I couldn’t help chuckling over that one.  I do joke that he is my ‘breadatarian.’  Some day I’ll get them weaned off the stuff (maybe), but for now I’m just happy they like fruits and vegetables and will eat them most of the time. 
Now I need to go shop for more vegetables!  They really do help fill you up.  We do eat a lot more protein and vegetables.  It’s sort of like an Atkins or South Beach type diet, I guess.  I’ll do updates from time to time about how things are going.  It has been an adventure to this point!  


Just had my 29th 37th birthday the other day.  It was a really nice day!  In the morning I went for a run and completed my first 5K.  That was a great feeling itself!  I can’t help being kinda proud of that accomplishment! 🙂  It turned out to be a VERY hot day.  Upper 90’s, very humid.  It was one of those days that made me so thankful for air conditioning!

My Mom and Dad came over for dinner that evening.  Yes, I did cook on my birthday this year.  Made a couple Chinese favorites – Sweet N Sour Chicken and Cashew Chicken, served with rice, of course!  My parents brought me that wonderful DQ Ice Cream Cake and do I love that stuff!!  No, I really do love it!  I would much rather have ice cream than cake any day, so ice cream cake works for me.  🙂  Thankfully my husband and kiddos feel the same way!

My sister and her husband surprised us with a visit that evening, too!  It was a really great day!  God has blessed me way more than I ever thought and definitely way more than I ever deserve.  I’m so thankful for my hardworking husband and for the 3 children He blessed us with.  They are good kiddos and I pray we don’t ruin them too much.  🙂

I’m so thankful!

Chicken Dirt

   We (by “we” I mean I) usually use straw in the chicken coop, but my husband wanted to harness the power of the chicken poo we get, so the kids found me some awesome dirt that I have been using in the coop.  This is the 2nd week using dirt.  Chickens are by nature, dirty.  They bathe in dirt, lay in dirt and just love the stuff.  Eric was thinking, well, why not try to collect as much of the droppings as we can.  With straw it was hard to do because it would collect in there and it was hard to get out.  And I am not going to pick through it for the chicken “nuggets.”

Eric suggested dirt and I figured, “Why not?”  I would just scrape the poo off the floor when it falls through the straw anyway, so scraping it up with the dirt isn’t that much more work.

It works out just fine really.

 The coop always smells so nice when you put in fresh dirt.  I love the smell of dirt.  In the spring I look forward to the garden getting plowed just so I can smell the fresh dirt!  Anyway, the kids found this wonderful, gloriously brown dirt in the woods by a fallen, decaying tree.  I really want them to just dig it all up and put it in the garden next spring. 🙂

The chickens don’t really care what is in their coop to collect their messes.  As long as they have food and water, they are content.

Bye-Bye June!

Where did June go?  This has been such a fast month!  I can’t believe how quickly the time is going.

The kids have been home for a week now.  We did lots of laundry and cleaning up after they came home and it took a few days to get all the laundry done.

While the kiddos were gone, a lot happened with me, too.  The lovely, elderly woman I was visiting each week  did some scary things, so her family decided it best to move her closer to them.  It really was best for her!  Her memory was getting worse and sometimes I was nervous to leave her after visiting.  Please pray for her and her family as they go through all the adjustments of her being in a home.  The blessing is that she is closer to her daughter and grand daughter now and they can see her often.  At least I got to spend a lot of time with her her last week here in PA.  🙂  I’m so thankful for the people God bring into my life.  For Rose, Linda, and Tiffany.  Such sweet people!

Grace had to visit the doctor’s on Monday.  She keeps having issues, but we are trying to figure out what is up.  She had a kidney test and thankfully it was negative.  Just waiting on a urine culture (I know, TMI).  She hasn’t been sick just gets some blood in her urine from time to time.  It’s so weird.

The boys have been put to work this week.  They are helping out their dad by digging a hole on the side of the basement that leaks every time we get a lot of rain.  The boys seem to like the work and it’s good for them to keep busy outside for a while.  They are learning the value of work. 

Grace also is working.  She helps me out in the house and garden and also scraping up chicken droppings that are always on the porches and sidewalks (she is also helping the boys because she wants to, as you can see in the photo above).

The guineas are growing up.  They are very noisy birdies, but still adorable.  I love how they stick together.  They are loving the sand in this picture.

On Wednesday I ordered the kid’s new school books for the coming school year.  We are using Trail Guide to Learning’s Paths of Exploration this year.  I’m excited about it and hope the excitement spills over to my children.

  The box came on Friday and I am so excited as I get more into the books, looking them over and seeing what is going to happen this school year.  The kids seem moderately excited about the new stuff they’ll be working on this year.  I am definitely excited!

When I started writing this post, it really was the last day of June, now it’s July 2nd.