Monday, January 13, 2014

Here are a Few of My Favorite Things!

Here are a Few of My Favorite Things!

Happy New Year!

At MOPS this evening we were encouraged to share some of our favorite things. I wanted to share a few of those with you!

1) Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil literally has hundreds of great uses but I'm just going to list some of the ones I have found to be the most valuable and useful. It has health benefits when it is both ingested and used topically on your skin. It is recommended for adults over age 12 to use between 3-4 tablespoons of the oil per day. I have replaced probably 90% of my cooking oils with Coconut oil.

Type to buy -  I recommend an Extra-Virgin Cold-Pressed Coconut Oil, that way you can use it either topically or in cooking or ingesting. This is what I buy - Natures Way Organic Virgin Coconut. I bought mine online but I've noticed its popping up in stores all over the place. I don't find that it flavors any of my food coconutty but some people are more sensitive to that. If this is you look for an expeller pressed Coconut Oil.

Coconut Oil is:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antimicrobial
  • Antifungal
  • Antiviral
  • Improves nutrient absorption

General Health & Wellness
  • Fitness - coconut oil has been proven to stimulate your metabolism, improve thyroid function, and escalate energy levels, all of which help decrease your unwanted fat, while increasing muscle. 
  • Helps with weight loss & controlling cravings.
  • Digestion - the saturated fats in coconut oil have anti-bacterial properties that help control, parasites, and fungi that cause indigestion and other digestion related problems such as irritable bowel syndrome. The fat in coconut oil also aids in the absorption of vitamins, minerals and amino acids, making you healthier all around. 
  • Helps keep blood sugar levels stable and/or helps with cravings in those with diabetes.
Health Problems (that Coconut Oil aids, relieves or cures when taken internally)
  • Cholesterol - improves HDL ('good' cholesterol) to LDL ('bad' cholesterol) ratio in people with high cholesterol
  • Has helped some people improve symptoms of an underactive thyroid gland, results have shown subsequent thyroid blood tests becoming normal
  • Eczema – in addition to taking it internally, many have success applying it externally
  • Flaky, dry skin
  • Skin problems
  • Toenail fungus
  • Hot flashes
  • Bleeding hemorrhoids (can also be applied externally twice a day)
  • Improvements in menstruation regarding pain/cramps and heavy blood flow
  • Migraines (with regular use)
  • Mononucleosis
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Energy boost
  • May relieve acid reflux and indigestion when taken with each meal
  • Adrenal fatigue
  • Asthma, even in children
  • Circulation/feeling cold all the time
  • Helps with inflammation in Crohns
  • Mental Clarity
  • Depression
  • Stronger immune system

Health Problems (that Coconut Oil aids, relieves or cures when used topically)
  • Athletes foot
  • Back pain/sore muscles
  • Canker sores
  • Acne
  • Cellulite
  • Keratosis Pilaris (tiny bumps on the back of arms)

Personal Hygiene/Body
  • Moisturizer – simply scoop some out of the jar and apply all over your body, including neck and face.
  • Make up remover – use a cotton swab and a dab of coconut oil and you would be amazed at how well it works!
  • Eye cream – apply under the eyes to reduce puffiness, bags, and wrinkles. Use on the lids in the evening.
  • Preshave – coconut oil will prep skin for the pending damage caused by shaving.
  • Aftershave – coconut oil will help heal your skin after shaving without clogging pores. I have found that using it before and after shaving reduces the incidence of red shave bumps.
  • Deodorant – coconut oil alone can be used as a deodorant, but even more effective in combination with cornstarch/arrowroot powder and baking soda. I have friends who do this with great success. Using something that doesn’t contain Aluminum (which most regular deodorants have) is crucial in fighting breast cancer.
  • Chapstick – just rub a little into lips and it not only acts as a softening agent but it also has an SPF of about 4 so you get a little protection!
  • Massage Oil – pretty simple; grab some and rub!
  • Lubricant – it is an all natural, perfectly safe personal lubricant. Not compatible with latex!
  • Diaper Rub - very comforting on a rashy bum with no harsh chemicals.
  • Cradle cap – Coconut oil will not only nourish your baby’s skin, it also helps eliminate cradle cap. Just rub a teaspoon onto scalp daily.
  • Body scrub – mix coconut oil and sugar together and rub all over! Rinse off and your skin will be super soft! You can add in essential oils if you would like a specific smell.
  • Healing - when applied on scrapes and cuts, coconut oil forms a thin, chemical layer which protects the wound from outside dust, bacteria and virus. Coconut oil speeds up the healing process of bruises by repairing damaged tissues.
  • Bug Bites – when applied directly to a bug bite, coconut oil can stop the itching and burning sensation as well as hasten the healing process.
  • Skin problems – coconut oil relieves skin problems such as psoriasis, dermatitis, and eczema.
  • Swimmers Ear – mix garlic oil and coconut oil and put a few drops in affected ear for about 10 minutes. Do this 2-3 times a day and it usually works within one or two days.

  • Use 1 cup to 1 cup ratio when replacing other oils/butter in recipes with coconut oil.
  • Replacement for butter/lard/Crisco/PAM in it’s solid form – greasing pans, pie crusts, etc.
  • Replacement for various oils in liquid form – baking, cooking, sautéing, etc.
  • Generally, the melting point of coconut oil is 76 degrees F (24 C). If the temperature is above 76 degrees, the oil will be liquid. If the temperature is below 76 degrees, it will become solid
  • Nutritional supplement (can be added to foods such as smoothies)
  • Tips - I keep some oils in different places for different things. In Texas its hot so I keep some oils I want solid in the refrigerator and then regular liquid oil out in the cupboard. I also keep my reserves for various body applications separate from what I use for cooking. Wouldn't want my Diaper Rub oil finding its way into the kitchen :).

Other Uses:
  • Insect repellent – mix coconut oil with peppermint oil extract and rub it all over exposed skin. Keeps insects off better than anything with Deet! Tons safer too.
  • Chewing Gum in Hair Remover – just rub some coconut oil over the stuck chewing gum, leave in for about 30 minutes, then roll the gum between your fingertip. Voila! It’s out!

    -adapted from (Hybrid Rasta Mama)

2) My Thankfulness Journal

I, like many others have read the book, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and it inspired the creation of My Thankfulness Journal. It is my own journey to find 1,000 gifts and more things to be thankful. My eye is always searching for the wonder and specialness in the everyday-ordinary and this has made a profound change in my life. Restored Joy. Restored Hope. Restored Meaning ... and so much more.
... expressive baby shoulders ...
... dance parties in the kitchen ...
... JOY ...
... crooked baby grins ...
... eyes that sparkle ...
... belly button lint ...
... the shutter click of my camera ...
... my Savior who became nothing so I could have everything ...
... growing tiny humans inside ...
... a pantry full of provision ...
... the living word of God ... 
... blue lips turning red ...
... a God who meets me at the Park ...
... friends for the journey ...
... the trust of a child to bring relief ...
... birth marked bottoms ...
... a crowded kitchen bustling with helpers ...
... modern medicine ...
... back rubs from loving hands ...
... smell of printers ink ...
... music notes that bend & blend ...
... smiles so big they swallow your face ...
... green pastures & still waters ...
... amazing grace ...

3) My Heirloom Necklaces
I grew up in a small town and had both my paternal and maternal grandmothers living in that very town with me. I had no clue just how blessed I was to live close and grow up in their warmth and wisdom. Since then I moved away from home and I wanted to keep them close so I created these heirloom necklaces. I wear them often and keep them close to my heart. 
4) Chia Seeds

This little seeds does amazing things! I have found a variety of opinions but settled on a recommendation that a good amount is about 2 tablespoons per day.

  • Omega-3 - chia seeds are the richest plant source of Omega-3 (the vital fats that protect against inflammation, such as arthritis and heart disease). In fact, they contain more Omega-3 than salmon! (I also can't stand to take my fish oil pills so this is a great alternative for me!)
  •  Help with Weight Loss - reduce food cravings by preventing some of the food that you eat from getting absorbed into your system. The blockage of calorie absorption makes addition to a great diet plan.
  • Feel Fuller Faster - chia seeds absorb 10 times their weight in water, forming a bulky gel which helps you feel fuller faster.
  • Hydration for athletes - the "chia gel" can hydrate the body.
  • Reduce your blood pressure - there's evidence to suggest they can reduce blood pressure.
  • Benefits for diabetes - because chia seeds slow down how fast our bodies convert carbohydrates into simple sugars, studies indicate they can control blood sugar. This leads scientists to believe chia seeds may have great benefits for diabetics. (I also believe this makes sense for insulin resistance making them great for me too. 
  • Energy Boost - I don't know the scientific reason behind this but I most certainly feel a boost of energy when I use the chia seeds in the morning. 
  • Easy to Use - They are easier to digest than flax seeds. You can eat them as seeds or ground up and they can withstand cooking, making it usable in virtually all kinds of cooking since their flavor is so very mild. I've eaten them in practically everything - yogurt, toast w/ peanut butter, spaghetti, tacos, soup - you name it. Its easy!

5) Dreamfields Pasta

Ok another favorite falls into the category of accommodating my low glycemic diet and my love pastas and breads! My nutritionist suggested Dreamfields Pasta.

This pasta tastes so good and has only 5 net carbs per serving!

  •  Digestable Carbs – 5 grams - the recipe protects all but 5 grams of the carbohydrates per serving from being digested and therefore lessens post-meal blood glucose rise as compared to traditional pasta.
  •  High in Fiber – 5 grams - contains inulin, a 100% natural prebiotic fiber found in common foods such as artichokes, asparagus, garlic and raisins. By providing a food source for the healthy bacteria living in the gut, prebiotics such as inulin may: help promote healthy digestion, support a healthy immune system, and improve calcium absorption. Inulin is a soluble fiber (like that found in oats, peas and apples) which means it dissolves easily in water and may improve regularity. Soluble fiber can also help reduce cholesterol and glucose levels.
  • Low GI – 13 - Dreamfields Pasta has a low glycemic index – hooray for me! 13, that’s super low for a carb!
  • It’s Yummy! – I had been eating the whole wheat stuff, which was ok for the most part but Dreamfields has all of the taste and texture of traditional pastas because it’s made primarily with durum wheat semolina just like other high quality pastas.
So basically you enjoy your pasta, your body only digests and uses parts of it – the good parts and the rest of it … well it just keeps on going through to the, as we say in our family – poo poo! :)

What is your favorite thing?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Jude & Zeke turn 2 Down on the Farm!

Jude and Zeke have turned 2 already! To celebrate we had a little get together "Down on the Farm" with friends and family.

Zeke really loves animals, he has a little soft rooster and pig he carries around all the time and Jude loves wearing his sister's boot and wearing hats! So I thought we'd combine both of their interests into a Farm theme!

I had to get the boys little cowboys boots and hats. When I got them they had trouble walking in them but soon figured it out! 

The hats didn't  last long!

As always I really enjoy putting together fun decorations for their party. 

This is the front gate to our courtyard. It has a little welcome sign and a cowbell.

Here are a bunch of the animal balloons we made -- there are chickens, roosters, pigs and cows. 

Then I just wrapped jute around letters from Hobby Lobby and hung those on the front doors. See little Jude poking his head out to see whats going on!

 Matt and I got our patio lights hung up! It was a bit chilly so we did not get to enjoy them much on the party day but we will this spring and summer!

We had a little "Farmers Market". Here is a sign that I made and hung above the food. I just used chalkboard paint and a frame I found at goodwill. Matt's mom, Annette did all the writing, it is her signature writing that she uses on all her craft items.

All the food was Farm themed. This is what we had:


 Chicken Feed" - Chex Mix
"Chips & Green Mud" - Chips & Guacamole
"Jude's Strawberry Patch" - Strawberries of course!
"Mud" - fruit dip made of greek yogurt, nutella and chia seeds
"Hay" - potato strings 

"Fresh Eggs" - deviled eggs
"Tractor Wheels" - oreos

 "Murphy's Garden Salad" - green salad mix
"Zeke's Apple Orchard" - apples :)
"Piggies in a Blanket" - little smokies wrapped in croissants
"Beef Burgers" - hamburger patties
"Chicken Burgers" - chicken and spinach burgers with garlic

"Fixins" - all the fixings for hamburgers

I made all the little chalkboards with boards from pre-cut boards from Hobby Lobby and painters tape and chalkboard paint.


We used mason jars with straws as our drink cups and I got some little barnyard paper cups for the little ones. 

For drinks we had:
Chocolate Milk
Honey Ginger Lemonade
Watermelon Juice with Mint and Lime
(we juiced a watermelon with the rind and some fresh mint and lime)
Sun Tea

The cake was really fun for us! Matt's mom Annette used to make cakes professionally back in the day but can't anymore so we call her out cake consultant :). The fun thing is that she used to teach her boys how to decorate and let them play all the time, so Matt is quite good at making cakes too :). So Matt made this fabulous barn cake!

The cupcake toppers were made by a wonderful Etsy shop owner Cara Weatherby from Clementinescupcakes.

She custom made all the adorable little animals and as a special request I had her make two of each animal since the boys are twins and a special tractor with each of the boys' first initial on it. She mailed them to my home in plenty of time for the party and they were such a hit! Here are close ups of her fabulous work!

 The boys enjoyed them too!

At the end of the party I made these party favors for the guests to take home. 

These are the small mason jars. I painted the lid with chalkboard paint and wrote "Happy Trails" on the lid and filled the inside with trail mix.

So that's all the party details. Here are the fun pictures of us enjoying the day! 

 Big Sister Ayla

 Big Sister Eden