Archive for the 'Homemaking' Category
I have been spending a lot of time in this here corner of loveliness…it houses my baking corner and my bulk goodies. I have longed for a space like this forever…and oh how grateful I am to finally have it.
There is just something so wonderful about having everything I need right at my fingertips…and yet not cluttering up the kitchen. It’s inspiring to see them all on display and it makes assembling recipes so easy!
And so…we have been baking up a storm…in the snow storms We love baking something warm and delicious inside while the snow is falling outside.
I like to call this beauty “My Precious“. I LOVE having a full size oven again. Love love love. And it’s gas. Which makes me insanely happy. I think I would rather cook over a fire than an electric stove!
Our muffins must always be eaten with hot tea! I recently re-stocked my favorite tea, Rishi’s Citron Oolong…so I’m a happy girl. The muffin that we tend to make the most around here is the Delightful Banana Nut Muffins from The Garden of Vegan. It’s one of my most requested recipes from from friends and family…so I thought I would post it here!
Delightful Banana Nut Muffins
Cookbook: The Garden of Vegan
By Sarah Kramer and Tanya Barnard
1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour
½ cup dry sweetener (I like rapadura or turbinado)
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
½ t salt
¾ cup ground flax seed
½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)
2 bananas, mashed
1/3 cup olive oil
1 t vanilla extract
2/3 cup soy, rice, or almond milk
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sweetener, baking powder, baking soda, salt, flax, and walnuts. In a small bowl, combine the bananas, oil, vanilla and soy milk. Pour the liquid ingredients with the dry and mix together gently until “just mixed”. Spoon into a lightly oiled muffin pan and bake for 15-20 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.
And lastly, my friend Ellen gave me a yummy recipe for Sunflower Seed Cookies…and of course we made them right away! They were SO GOOD. Although, I think it had something to do with the copious amount of sugar in them You can always cut back or add alternative sweeteners if you’re so inclined. They can also easily be made vegan.
Sunflower Seed Cookies
Serves/Makes: 4 dozen
1 cup butter or Earth Balance
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs or egg substitute
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3 cups oatmeal
1 cup sunflower seeds
Mix together well. Drop onto greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 F for 8-9 minutes.
For more yummy muffin recipes, check out my food blog, Happy Foody, under the muffin category. If you’re a fellow muffin lover, be sure to check out this great article on “How To Make the Best Muffins Ever“. It’s a goody.
Next I’d like to get into baking homemade bread. I’ve done it before…but I would especially like to make sourdough and english muffins, along with some crusty, hearty soup breads.
If you have a tried and true recipe…please share it below! Also, please share your all-time favorite muffin recipe so I can stop making the same one over and over
“The moment in between what you once were, and who you are now becoming,
is where the dance of life really takes place.”
*Barbara De Angelis
…and it seems I’ve been doing a lot of dancing lately.
After 4 years of having Matt at home all day…pretty much every day, I am now in charge of raising these two precious girls alone. I know, I know…I’m being overly dramatic. But we have a lot of drama around here lately and it must be rubbing off.
Being a stay-at-home mom is the best job on earth. And it’s hard. And it’s beautiful. And I’m still figuring it all out.
It often feels like the only thing I do all day is make meals and clean the house. Over and over and over. But you see…I also want time in there to do amazing, life-changing activities with my girls. I want to sing and dance and tell them stories. I want to give them opportunities and experiences. I want to have art projects that rival the best of Waldorf schools! Oh my. I’m getting crazy now.
We’ve never really been a schedule-driven type of family…we usually just go with the flow. But I’m finding that having a loose schedule is helpful. Especially for Bella. She wants to know exactly what is happening and when. Every day.
I’ve given myself a couple of weeks now to try to work out the kinks…to get into our groove. And it’s slowly happening. I can feel a nice rhythm to our days. And it feels really good. The “everyday” of our lives makes all of us happy (thank you Erin for an amazing post that refreshed my soul). Reading the same books. Going to the same stores. Being with the same friends. Sweeping the same floor.
I am getting through the day with Jesus at my side…I can almost hear him whispering my name. Reminding me to have more patience, more love, and less perfectionism He is telling me to go to bed sooner and get up earlier…and that too will help immensely.
I would love to have a conversation in the comments about what really works for you and your family. Feel free to use these questions as a springboard…
- Tell me about the rhythm of your day.
- What is the best advice you’ve ever received as a stay-at-home or work-at-home mother?
- What has been your biggest struggle and how are you overcoming it?
- What is your deepest joy in being a homemaker?
- Are there certain blogs that you love for homemaking/mama inspiration?
- Do you use a “system” for cleaning your house (i.e. Flylady, etc)?
I look forward to reading about and discussing your life as mothers, wives, and keepers of the home!
Photo credit: Flickr/shutterbugchik
There have been hundreds and hundreds of books and articles written on the Proverbs 31 woman. Many of us have probably heard those verses too many times to count. However, like any scripture, it must be “chewed” on, meditated upon, and processed over and over so that it can permeate our daily lives. I want to work through some of these verses and share my thoughts on them…and as always, I look forward to hearing yours!
I have heard so many women get frustrated as they read these verses…feeling like they could never live up to the “standard” that is set forth in this passage for a godly woman and mother. But take heart and don’t be discouraged! These are words of encouragement…to uplift and guide you in your journey…not a list of rules. So read on with an open heart and let God speak to you where you need it the most.
Bring Good, Not Harm
Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
In the early days of my marriage, I decided that I would never speak harshly about my husband in the presence of others. Not even in jest. No matter how frustrated or annoyed I might be with a situation, it was between Matt, myself, and God. I didn’t run to my girlfriends, my co-workers, my mom, or the message boards. I spoke directly to Matt about my feelings and also to God. And in 7 years of marriage, we have never had a “fight” that lasted more than a few minutes. We never go to bed angry. I attribute those things largely to the fact that I focus on “bringing him good, not harm”. I don’t talk to others about our home life and let harsh feelings brew and brew all day.
Of course, it goes without saying that if you are in a verbally or physically abusive relationship, you must speak with someone about it. And if you and your spouse cannot get past certain issues, you may need counseling with a third party. But those interventions are very different than speaking with others about him and bringing him “down” in their eyes. Build him up! Help others to see him for the amazing man that he is.
I also want him to be confident in my abilities to run our household whenever he is away. If he knows that he doesn’t have to worry about what is going on at home, then he is free to focus on the other important things in his life.
She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.
She considers a field and buys it;out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.
In our consumerist society, we are constantly fighting against messages of “buy me!” and “pay later!”. These three verses are each speaking against impulse spending and frivolous purchases and calling us to shop wisely with consideration, eager hands, and resourcefulness. We can apply these verses to our life whether we are grocery shopping, browsing eBay, or trading services. A few ways that we can do this:
- Make a grocery list and menu plan before going to the store.
- Stretch what you have and “make do”.
- Plan ahead.
She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and
portions for her women servants.
I’ve posted about this before, but for my own sake, I need to talk about it again. This is something that FEELS almost impossible for me to master. When I was in college, I went through a phase of about 6 months where I was getting up every day at 5:30 a.m. and reading the Word…preparing for the day ahead. It was an amazingly sweet time of fellowship with Christ and I benefited greatly. However, since getting married and having a child, this discipline of getting up early has eluded me. There is just no comparison between having your quiet time in the early morning hours and having it later in the day. It is a battle with my flesh to get up early…especially if I have stayed up late.
This verse doesn’t speak directly about getting up early to pray or meet God, but I am assuming that this is a given. She gets up while it is still night (BEFORE) the rest of her family and feeds HER soul first so she can then feed her family (body and soul).
E.M. Bounds, a pastor who was born in 1835, wrote one of my favorite passages on the discipline to rise early:
“A desire for God which cannot break the chains of sleep is a weak thing and will do but little good for God after it has indulged itself fully. The desire for God that keeps so far behind the devil and the world at the beginning of the day will never catch up.
It is not simply the getting up that puts men to the front and makes them captain generals in God’s hosts, but it is the ardent desire which stirs and breaks all self-indulgent chains. But the getting up gives vent, increase, and strength to the desire. If they had lain in bed and indulged themselves, the desire would have been quenched. The desire aroused them and put them on the stretch for God, and this heeding and acting on the call gave their faith its grasp on God and gave to their hearts the sweetest and fullest revelation of God…”
This man is completely amazing. The “chains of sleep”? Oh yes. I can realate. Read more of his thoughts on prayer here. Several other authors have fueled my desire to rise early over the years. Becky Tirabassi, author of Let Prayer Change Your Life (you all must read this!), made a vow to God that she would get up early and pray for one hour every day for the rest of her life. She has an amazing story. Another woman, Laine, is a beautiful woman of God and she writes “letters of encouragement” to other Christian women. She speaks extensively on this topic…in a very convicting fashion!
Jesus modeled getting up early to pray over and over…along with other disciples. This is one of the disciplines I am actively working on in my life right now, and I would love to hear those of you who have “mastered” it! I take comfort in knowing that because it’s something that is God’s will for me and that He will be pleased with, He will not hesitate to answer my cries of “HELP ME GET UP LORD!”.
She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.
The definition of “vigor” is “energetic activity; energy; intensity”. I want to apply this to my life immediately. When it’s time to do dishes, I want to do it with INTENSITY! When it’s time for
laundry, I want to do it with great ENERGY! Not only will it get done faster, but it will be a great workout, which completes the rest of the verse. My arms will be STRONG for my tasks. If I can do housework in a speedy fashion, I will have less need to work out every day because it will come naturally. I like it.
Be Generous To All
She opens her arms to the poor and extends hands to the needy.
A generous woman is a beautiful woman…one who is constantly looking to help people. Looking for opportunities to bless others. When it speaks about the “needy”…it doesn’t necessarily mean someone needing money. It could be a friend who just needs a word of encouragement. “Extend your hands” today to someone who needs help…whether it be someone on the street or someone in your family.
Clothe and Take Care of Your Family
When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothes in scarlet.
Basically, take care of the needs of your family. Clothe them. Feed them…be prepared FOR them. Make sure there is enough food on hand. Have a plan for the day. If you see clothes that will fit your child next year for 25 cents…buy them. If they are “scarlet”…that’s even better. hee hee…
Be Crafty and Make Your Home a Haven
She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothes in fine linen and purple.
She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.
Not everyone is blessed with the desire to “make” things…but I think these verses go beyond just “sewing” and making things. Just the fact that she is making things leads me to believe she is concerned about the “feel” of her home. We are called as wives and women to make our homes inviting, cozy, and wonderful to be in. It’s part of the way we can bless our family and our husband…creating a haven for him to come home to every night.
Laugh At The Future
She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
Wow. This is one of my favorite verses. To be clothed with strength and dignity is an amazing picture of a Godly woman. Think about the Christian women in your life…I’m sure you can pick out a few that embody this description…I know I can. Even amidst life’s difficult times, they can still LAUGH at the days to come. I recently heard John Piper speak about this verse…and he said that this type of woman is not naive…she KNOWS that there is difficulty ahead, but she can still look to the future with HOPE. Here is an excerpt from his sermon (which you all should go listen to or watch). Powerful stuff:
The deepest root of Christian womanhood mentioned in this text is hope in God. “Holy women who hoped in God.” A Christian woman does not put her hope in her husband, or in getting a husband. She does not put her hope in her looks. She puts her hope in the promises of God. She is described in Proverbs 31:25: “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.” She laughs at everything the future will bring and might bring, because she hopes in God.
She looks away from the troubles and miseries and obstacles of life that seem to make the future bleak, and she focuses her attention on the sovereign power and love of God who rules in heaven and does on earth whatever he pleases. She knows her Bible, and she knows her theology of the sovereignty of God, and she knows his promise that he will be with her and help her strengthen her no matter what. This is the deep, unshakable root of Christian womanhood. And Peter makes it explicit in verse 5. He is not talking about just any women. He is talking about women with unshakable biblical roots in the sovereign goodness of God—holy women who hope in God.
Speak With Wisdom
She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
I went to the commentaries for this one…
Matthew Henry: She not only takes prudent measures herself, but gives prudent advice to others. The law of love and kindness is written in the heart, and shows itself in the tongue. John Wesley: She is neither sullenly silent, nor full of impertinent talk, but speaks discreetly and piously, as occasion offers. In her tongue – Her speeches are guided by wisdom and grace, and not by inordinate passions. And this practice is called a law in her tongue, because it is constant and customary, and proceeds from an inward and powerful principle of true wisdom.
The tongue is a powerful thing…especially one wielded by a woman. It’s very easy to use it for harm and not for good. I pray that my words would be full of wisdom and grace, not “impertinent talk”. Every word is counted in heaven…have I said anything today that I would not want to have “counted” by Christ?
Watch Over Your Household and Don’t Be Lazy
She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Another great commentary by Matthew Henry: Her heart is full of another world, even when her hands are most busy about this world.
Wow. It is possible to be overwhelmingly busy running your household and still have a heart focused on God. I love the phrase “watches over the affairs of her household”. A woman of God will know what’s going on. She knows when she’s out of dish soap and she does something about it. She knows when her children need her undivided attention…she knows when something needs to be taken care of…she just KNOWS.
Now…for the next part. Eating the bread of idleness. An interesting word play for me…because I LOVE bread. Bread is tasty. Bread smells good. Bread is warm. But too much bread is bad for my body. Just as too much idleness is bad for my household, my spiritual life, and my family. Two other verses come to mind regarding this:
Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us…yes, establish the work of our hands.
God wants to help you be productive. He wants to help you effectively “run” your household. He wants to show you HIS plan for your day…but you must let Him. Pray that He will reveal that plan…even if it’s at the expense of YOUR plan.
Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.
If you are striving to be a woman of God…focusing on all of things things talked about here…your family should be happy! They will be happy because they will be taken care of, fed and clothed…and the household will be running smoothly. There is no greater joy for me in earthly endeavors than to have Matt praise me for how I am doing as a wife and mother.
Beauty Is Fleeting
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
We live in a nation obsessed with looks. Hair, nails, clothes…how much time did you spend today making sure that all of that was how you wanted? I hope that we can all spend MORE time with God each day than we do getting ready in the morning. Piper had wonderful words on this from the same sermon that I linked to above:
And this leads to a third feature of Peter’s portrait of womanhood, a focus on internal adornment, rather than external. First Peter 3:5 begins, “This is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves.” This adornment refers back to what is described in verses 3-4:
Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.
We know this does not mean that all jewelry and all hair styling is excluded because then all clothing would be excluded as well, because it says, “Don’t let your adorning be external . . . the clothing you wear.” What he means is: Don’t focus your main attention and effort on how you look on the outside; focus it on the beauty that is inside. Exert more effort and be more concerned with inner beauty than outer beauty.
And he is specific in verse 4. When a woman puts her hope in God and not her husband and not in her looks, and when she overcomes fear by the promises of God, this will have an effect on her heart: It will give her an inner tranquility. That’s what Peter means in verse 4 by “the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”
I bolded the part that I really like. Our MAIN attention in life should be inner beauty: getting to know who your heavenly father is…learning His will and studying His word. If you can do that, it will transform you from the inside out and will affect much more than just you. It will affect your family, your friends, and everyone you come into contact with.
There is a book that I have been reading consistantly over the years and it has had a profound impact on my views of womanhood and motherhood. It’s called “A Woman After God’s Own Heart” by Elizabeth George. I am going to devote an entire post to this one book because I know that many will benefit from her words. If you’ve ever wondered or struggled with the “submission” part of a Christian marriage, stay tuned In the meantime, I will leave you with a passage from that book called “The Heart of the Homemaker”. My post on the book will go into more depth, but I felt that it coincided well with my desire to be a Proverbs 31 woman:
The Heart of the Homemaker
- I will get up before my family, in order to prepare myself spiritually and physically.
- I will prepare breakfast for my family and sit with them while they eat.
- I will work diligently to send every member of my family off in a good mood.
- I will consult my husband every day to see if there is anything special he wants me to do for him.
- I will keep a neat and orderly home.
- I will respond positively.
- I will meet my husband’s needs.
- I will put my husband before my children.
- I will personally meet and greet each family member as he or she returns home.
- I wlil be predictibly happy.
- I will prepare special, good food for my family.
- I will make dinner a special time.
- I will grow DAILY in the areas of Lord, marriage, family, and homemaking.
She wraps it up by saying…
Is yours the heart of a homemaker? If not, ask God for His transforming touch. As He empowers you to obey, He will give you JOY at the task to which He calls you and enhance the beauty of the tapestry you are weaving.
I’m off to ask God to TRANSFORM me and make me JOYFUL about my alarm clock ringing at 5:00 a.m….wheeeee! Bring on the coffee!
I adore Apartment Therapy and have always wanted to enter one of their contests. So, with this last apartment, I finally did! Our apartment was listed today…in the running for the “Coolest Smallest Apartment” for 2007. Click here to check it out and vote! Pretty please? Can I bribe you with promises of posting more often? tee hee!
Photo credit: Flickr/strph
Hello friends. I apologize for being gone for so long! It’s been a crazy couple of weeks…we are still getting settled, my mom flew in from Des Moines and was here all week, we don’t have a consistent Internet connection, and well, I’ve been busy living life. Please don’t fret if I’m not “keeping up” with my blog. I have lots of ideas…but not a lot of free time. Thanks for your patience!
I’d like to share a few of my thoughts on cleaning products…both for home and for body. The cleaning product industry is BIG business. Just walk into Target or any drugstore and count how many items you have to choose from to clean your floor. Or you face. Or you toilet. It’s madness. Even the natural cleaning market is easy to get sucked into. There is a better way!
About a year ago, I decided that I wanted my house to be completely safe…and I didn’t want to spend a lot of money doing it. I gave away all of my old cleaners…Lysol, Clorox Wipes, 409 spray, etc. It was amazing how much space I had under my sinks and in my closets after they were gone. I replaced it all with a simple spray bottle of vinegar, water, Dr. Bronner’s, and essential oils. I use this mixture as a multi-purpose spray for everything. For windows, I use straight vinegar and wipe with newspapers. For scrubbing the counter, sinks, tubs, and toilet, I use baking soda and essential oils.
I love letting Bella help me clean now (and she loves it too) because I know there is nothing that could hurt her. She sprays and I wipe…we’re a great team. There is no way I would have ever let her help when I was using traditional cleaners. I have noticed that I am much more sensitive to the harsh smell of cleansers now that I don’t use them. I usually have to tell hotel staff to not clean the bathroom while we are there because the chemicals are much to strong.
When you make the change to natural cleansers, the first thing you might notice is that they don’t “smell clean” like you are used to. There is no bleach smell. No chlorine. No watery eyes, itchy skin…no turning the fans on and opening the windows. You may get a slight vinegar scent, but it fades quickly. The smell of the cleaner is not what cleans…don’t be deceived
I also think that we, as a culture, have become so phobic about germs, etc. There is no need for artificial anti-bacterial soaps, sprays, etc. They actually hurt your body’s natural ability to fight bacteria. Plain ‘ol soap and water is the best defense again spreading germs.
Adding essential oils to your cleansers is so fun…because you can choose your scents! I especially like tea tree oil for it’s natural anti-bacterial power and lavender for it’s soothing scent. Lemon, peppermint, rosemary, and sweet orange are also high on my list. The sky is the limit…there are so many options.
I stick with a very basic concoction…I just fill a spray bottle up about 1/4 way with white vinegar, add a little Dr. Bronner’s (so many scents to choose from there as well), add my essential oils (just a few drops) and fill the rest up with water. That’s it. Simple. One bottle.
If you need a “recipe”, check out this site. And more here. They have everything from furniture polish to drain cleaner to air fresheners.
I use a natural soap for washing dishes. I will be switching to my own mixture for laundry soon. Here are the recipes I am checking out. Baking soda is an amazing help in the laundry room and everywhere else. Being that we don’t use bleach, our whites tend to look a little dingy. Sunning is a great natural way to bleach things. Even in the winter, you can lay or hang things in sunny windows. We don’t have a dishwasher right now…but please be aware that traditional dishwasher detergent is one of the most poisonous items in your home. Go natural!
There is a huge market for all natural cleansers…but they are SUPER expensive. I do purchase them sometimes…but there really isn’t a need. If you read the ingredients, you will see that all it is is exactly what you can make at home. You can make wonderful, inexpensive cleansers for pennies.
Shampoos and conditioners have insane amounts of disgusting things in them. I can hardly believe that our government allows us to purchase some of these items and put them on our delicate bodies! Some of the main ingredients to avoid are sodium laurel sulfate and any parabens. Yucky!
Your skin is your largest organ and it drinks in everything you put on it. I like the rule “If you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your body!”. You can check your own beauty products here. There are 8 ingredients/chemicals that have been outlawed in America, but over 1,000 that have been outlawed in Europe. I urge you to do your own research on the ingredients in your makeup, shampoos, soaps, etc. If you aren’t scared, alarmed, and angered…something is wrong with you. However, if you have trouble believing it…it might be because there are billions of dollars spent on commercials to tell you otherwise. You will find contradictory information on everything, but you have to think for yourself and make the best decision for you and your family. There is a lot of money at stake…if everyone switched to natural body care, the beauty product business would be in a lot of trouble. I’m sure someone is making sure that doesn’t happen. It’s always about the bottom line.
What are the options? Natural shampoos and conditioners. Pure bar soaps for shampoo or body. Many people go without soap altogether because it’s so drying. Hot water and a wash cloth work great. Pure toothpastes (fluoride is poisonous …I’m not crazy…do your research). You can use baking soda for toothpaste, flavored with essential oils. You can use Dr. Bronner’s to brush your teeth as well…it’s very sudsy, but it works. The other (and I think better) option is to go completely natural and use baking soda to “wash” your hair and apple cider vinegar to rinse. You can also use honey and other foods to condition. It’s wonderful.
As for face washing routines…I use the oil method. I’m sure many of you have heard of it or use the same thing. Basically, you wash your face with oil…because oil dissolves oil. It’s the best face cleansing “system” I’ve ever used…and I’ve tried MANY. My skin is acne prone and oily and this really helps to keep blackheads under control. Here is how you do it:
- Combine 1 part extra virgin olive oil (organic is best because pesticides are concentrated in fats) to 1 part castor oil and add whatever essential oils you want. I like tea tree oil and lavender. Store it in an airtight glass container. If your skin is super oil, you may want to increase the amount of castor oil…to keep it lighter.
- Tie all your hair back and have a wash cloth handy. Pour a liberal amount of the oil mixture into your hand and then start massaging it onto your face. Think of it as a mini-facial. Massage the oil into your skin for 30 seconds – 1 minute.
- Wet the wash cloth with STEAMING hot water. Ring it out and lay it on your face. When it cools, do it again. And again. You’re steaming out the impurities. Just be sure to make the water as hot as you can stand. Sometimes I’ll just sit on the bathroom floor with the wash cloth on my face and enjoy my facial.
- Rinse the wash cloth out and use it to wipe the oil off of your face. Be sure to get all of it…especially on the jaw and hairline. This is the part that exfoliates…your skin will be silky smooth!
- Splash more hot water on your face and pat dry.
- Use extra moisturizer after your done if you want…you can just use a small drop of the oil and rub it in your hands and then on your face as well.
I was hesitant to use this at first because I thought it would make my face more oily, but it doesn’t at all. It’s wonderful and my skin is amazingly soft and glowing. It does take more time and energy, but it’s worth it.
Another wonderful, cleansing practice is dry brushing. I first heard of it when I was on my raw food kick last summer, and I love it. Check it out.
It’s really easy to make your own lip balm, lotions, salves, etc. But if you want to buy them…one of my favorite sources is Prairieland Herbs. I have met the mother and daughter who make and sell the products and they are wonderful. I love the lotion bars and the cheek gloss. The soaps that they sell on the site are amazing too.
The only mainstream brand I will buy is Aubrey Organics (if I do buy something…which is not very often). All of my research shows that they are the purest and “cleanest” brand out there.
Please be aware that the phrase “natural” is not regulated by the FDA. Any company can put “natural” in their advertising and get away with it. Even many of the brands you can find at Whole Foods, Wild Oats, and your local health food store contain the ingredients I have told you about. Be sure to read labels…and then read them again! If it’s a long list of unpronounceable ingredients…don’t buy it!
There is a lot of information here…and it can be a bit overwhelming. Try not to become cynical…it’s easy to just dismiss it and say “well, everything is toxic…who cares?!”. But please consider how many times a day you put on that chemical lip gloss, and the 12 gels and lotions and concoctions when you’re getting ready in the morning. Every day…for your entire life. There are so many cancerous chemicals that we willingly put on our bodies. Educating yourself is the first step.
Go check out your bathroom right now…and make the choice to go natural!
Self-discipline does not come naturally. We are born with the desire to do whatever feels the best, and it’s difficult to overcome. However, once it is mastered, it makes a huge difference in every area of life.
Self-discipline defined: the act of denying yourself; controlling your impulses.
Ah-ha! No wonder it’s so hard. When is the last time you heard a commerical on TV telling you to DENY yourself? It’s a dual struggle…against our flesh AND the culture we live in. The only way for me to gain control of my impulses, as the definition implies, is to pray continuously. Here are some of the areas that I struggle with:
- Sleep. I wrote about this yesterday…so no need to go into detail. I have a hard time denying myself of more internet time and my bedtime gets pushed later and later and later. Consequently, I am too tired to get up at 5:30 a.m…which is when I desire to meet with the Lord.
- Exercise. I used to work out daily at 5:30 a.m. 6 days a week. But that was back in year 2000 BB (before Bella). I have the desire now…but no discipline. For the time being I get my “workout” by chasing Bella, lifting her on my legs, climbing the stairs, etc. But it’s not enough to maintain a healthy heart. Maybe I will add that to my things to do when I get up at 5:30 a.m.
- Money. I have battled money issues throughout my adult life. It started in college…they told me I could have a free t-shirt if I signed up for their credit card. Sweeeeet! Next thing I know, I have $5,000 on that card and it’s only the end of my freshman year. Luckily, I snapped out of that, paid it off, and met Matt. We still had to learn a lot of money lessons the hard way when we were newlyweds, but it’s under control now. Especially with the Compact in full swing. We have no consumer debt and we only pay with cash, using an envelope budgeting system. However, even though we are following a budget, the struggle is with the DESIRE to buy things…not actually buying them. Wanting more, when I have more than enough. Even while on the Compact, I have choices to make regarding what we do spend. For example, I went grocery shopping today and I could have easily spent $100 if I would have allowed myself to buy everything I “wanted”… bread (instead of making my own), a sandwich for lunch (instead of going home to eat), apples (they are so expensive right now!), crackers for Bella (instead of making our own)…the list could go on and on. Instead, I stuck to my list and got an amazing amount of food for only $55.00. It was exhilierating to deny myself in this case, because it resulted in saved money.
- Food. I have always had a fast metabolism…and didn’t really have to watch what I ate. Now that I’m getting OLD…I need to be more mindful of what I put in my mouth. I have a horrible sweet tooth, and if I let myself start down a sugar path…it’s hard to come back. With that being said, I have incredible self-discipline when I want to…especially in the area of food. Eating only raw foods for an entire month? No problem. No meat for 2 years? No problem. It’s all the other little battles. Having another peanut butter cup doesn’t really seem like a spiritual battle…but it’s the attitude of that heart that matters. If I can practice self-discipline in the little matters…it will be easier during the bigger trials.
- Maintaining my home. When I discipline myself to clean the apt. throughout the day and put everything away after each use, I am a MUCH happier person. Disciplining myself to create a “place for everything” blesses my family. If I decide that I don’t “want” to do the laundry for 2 weeks…there are big problems. Isn’t it amazing how God can teach us lessons even through the mundane?
- My mouth. After high school and college, gossiping became a thing of the past for me. However, I still have to be very careful about my use of sarcasm…and my tone of voice in everyday conversation. It is especially important as a Godly wife to never speak badly about my husband to others. Every word out of my mouth is counted in heaven…I long to please Him with every breath. So challenging…
Basically it comes down to denying myself now for a greater reward/benefit in the future. Getting up early might not feel great now, but the long-term spiritual benefits are plenty. Deciding to exercise and eat healthy even when I don’t feel like it will bring health to me through the years of my life. Not buying everything I desire will allow us to save for more important things in the future. Having a discplined mouth brings honor in the present and no regrets in the future.
“Everything is permissible for me”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”—but I will not be mastered by anything. 1 Cor 6:12
I want only to be “mastered” by the Lord…who knows my struggles and my heart. He knows how to best teach me in this area. He displayed the ultimate self-discipline as He willingly went to the cross to die for our sins. My prayer is that I will die to myself daily…for I am not my own.
It’s the simple pleasures in life that make everyday fresh and new. This weekend, while visiting with Matt’s family…I realized that I had the rare opportunity to wash clothes and hang them OUTSIDE on the line. Oh the excitement! I’ve never had a clothesline of my own…so it’s quite a novelty for me. It was a gorgeously sunny fall day, and I savored every clothes pin. Every breeze. Every piece of clothing was lovingly adjusted to look just right on that line. What are some of your simple pleasures?
Filed under: Conservation, Environmentalism, Green Living, Homemaking, Simplifying
This is a common sight in our living room. We’ve started to air dry our clothes. This handy dandy drying rack holds smaller items, jeans, Bella’s clothes, etc. and we hang shirts on hangers and hang them on the shower rod. You could also use a retractable line like this. Or one of these beauties. By hanging our clothes to dry, I am accomplishing several things:
- Our clothes last longer when they aren’t dried in a dryer. Less shrinking, fading, etc. Dryers break down elastics, distort the shape of clothing, and they eat socks! Because the clothes last longer, you don’t need to buy them as often…thus saving money and time.
- Less energy consumption…the dryer is one of the worst.
- Saving money … $1.00 a load.
- Eliminating static cling
- Cutting down on ironing
- It causes me to realize how many clothes we actually own and makes me want to downsize our wardrobe even more. It’s a more purposeful experience…as I take each item, one by one, and straighten it, hang it, dry it, and take it off.
Stop using your dryer today!
Filed under: Compact, Consumerism, Green Living, Homemaking, Possessions, Self-Discipline, Simplifying, Thrifting
The empty shopping cart. Symbolic of my first day of The Compact. I wrote about it last week, but never got around to starting it. So this is it…I’m really doing it this time. I’m actually really excited to explore and conquer my tendencies to want, want, want things all the time.
My first “compact moment” came today as I was heading home. We had a birthday party to go to tonight for one of Bella’s friends who was turning 2. I decided to stop and get a balloon for her. I also wanted to buy a couple plants to go in some cute little pots I have at the apt. And then I remembered…
“I started the Compact today…what am I thinking?!”
So instead of going into the store and spending money on a balloon, 2 plants, and inevitably more (because I was hungry and would have bought snacks and who knows what else too)…we continued on home. When we got there, Bella and I made an adorable homemade card together to bring to her friend, and I am going to see if I can find some plants on my local Freecycle. Whew! I passed my first test.
With that one little decision, Bella and I were able to spend time creating something together. She learned that it’s ok (and BETTER!) to make a homemade gift for someone. And I saved myself at least $25.00. Wow!
Now for the rules. I tend to get very strict with myself whenever I commit to something like this…to the point of making myself crazy. So I will try not to be so hardcore that it causes me unnecessary trauma…but committed enough to make a difference. So, here is what I will do:
- I will not buy any NEW items for one year.
- I will only buy items that I NEED.
- I will not buy any convenience foods when grocery shopping with the exception of bread and chips. I will strive to eat in season, buying as local as possible. I will bring cloth grocery bags to the store, and I will create a weekly menu/grocery list EVERY week.
- I will not go out to eat at a restaurant if I have the option of eating at home.
EXCEPTION: I will allow printing of photos. Photography is one of the things I love, and to take that away would greatly decrease my quality of life…which is not what the Compact is about.
- To gain perspective and learn contentment.
- To be a mindful consumer and live lighter on the earth.
- To become more patient and learn to plan ahead as I borrow, barter, buy used, re-use, and recycle.
- To payoff the remainder of our student loan debt.
Thanks to Chelee for getting me started on my rule list!
Here is the “Compact Pledge”:
In light of the destructive effects of personal greed, we pledge to curb our purchases, cease frivolous buying, and choose to simplify our lives. Excepting only those things needed for work and the health and safety of our families, we pledge not to buy new. Further more, we will actively seek to pass on possessions we no longer want to those who are in need. In doing so, we hope to educate both friends and family about the corrosive effects of being in a constant state of want, nurture in ourselves the uplifting state of giving, thus reducing the load on the environment and creating a more sensible path for our lives. For these reasons, we join the Compact.
- SF site (paraphrased)
Here’s to the journey! Who is with me?
Photo: Eva Marieville | Flickr
Last night, I listened to a lecture titled “Not So Big Steps Toward a More Sustainable Community” given by Sarah Susanka, author of “The Not So Big House” and other related books. It was put on by the Center on Sustainable Communities, a new group in Des Moines that is doing some great things. I have read several of her books in the past, and I was so excited to see that she was going to be speaking.
Here are some of the highlights from her talk:
*Reproportioning…we shouldn’t be so focused on square footage. You just need to find the right size for YOU/YOUR FAMILY. It’s usually about 1/3 less than you “think” you need. The feeling of home has nothing to do with square footage…it should be quality, not quanitity.
*Building bigger and bigger homes is just kind of “expected” in our society. When you make more money, you should buy a bigger house. Status comes with the size of your house. What we really need to start doing is building smarter. Take the money you would have spent making it bigger than you need, and put it into green/sustainable design and give your house beautiful, unique features.
*We have no language/words in the real estate business for “small = better”. We only talk about cathedral ceiling, spacious, 3 car garage, etc. We need to re-create the language so there isn’t such a negative stigma to being smaller. We also don’t have a model for knowing when enough is enough.
*It’s important to create/decorate your home so you are inspired everyday. If you don’t want to paint your walls, for fear of lowering the re-sale value…that’s silly! PAINT THE WALLS! Whatever color will make you the happiest! Don’t keep looking to the next place you’ll live…live fully in the space you are in NOW.
*”Kids understand implicitly the pleasures of a cozy nook. Adults can learn something from our children as we go about designing our homes.” I loved this topic, because I could totally relate. When you were a child, did you have a special place you went to where you felt safe and cozy? I did…I had a little cubby under the stairs where I would hold “secret” meetings and set up my toys. I was so happy in that space. I’m still like that today…I love a nice, cozy nook to “hide” away from the world in.
*New Urbanism…building for community and liveability.
*Have spacial awareness…don’t forget the 3rd dimension. She talked a lot about adding different ceiling heights, and other architectural details. But I feel like you can do this in an apt. as well…by using hanging lamps, mobiles, etc. to create that 3rd dimension.
*Paul Ray and the Cultural Creatives…an interesting concept. I really connect with all of their ideals…I’ll have to research this one more.
All in all, it was a great night. Even though much of the audience was made up of builders, architects, people who own homes or are building (and I am none of the above)…I really enjoyed it. She has a great sense of creating “home” and the importance of creating a home that you love and can’t wait to come back to every day.