Saturday, December 12, 2015

Keeping Christmas About Christ - Why We Don't Do Santa

We didn't tell our daughter that Santa Claus is comin' to town. We didn't tell her that he knows if she's been bad or good, and that she better not pout, or cry, because he's checking his list. We don't leave milk and cookies, or take the requisite screaming baby/Santa photo each year either.

It wasn't a no-brainer - parts of me were worried. Would she still have an imagination? (Yes.) Would she still think Christmas is magical? (Resounding yes.) It's funny how the "magic" of a secular Christmas gets eclipsed by the wonder and awe of the greatest miracle that ever was, is or will be: the birth of GOD, Emmanuel, God WITH US, in a stable, laid in a manger, to a virgin girl. If we can't woo our children's imaginations and creativity with The Creator, how can we expect them to be captured by The Greatest Love Story Ever? God loving us. God watching us, seeing if we are naughty or nice, and then sending His Son - REGARDLESS of our status on "the list." No one gets coal in that story. No one is left out because of behavior. Behavior, in fact, is a non-issue. Instead, Because God so loved the world. Instead, He gave His only Son. Instead, HE is our present, our gift, our eternal prize. That's magic.

We read the Polar Express. We watch Elf and Rudolph and Prancer. Santa is a character, one actor in a cast that completes The American Christmas Story. And since we are American, we talk about him. We read stories about him. We sing songs about him. But he's not Christmas himself. No, that would be Christ. And I want to make no mistake that He is the reason we celebrate. And so we set up our nativity, and read about his birth. We sing Christmas carols about that Silent Night, we bake cookies to give away and bring gifts to friends and neighbors, and send cards to those we love. Our Christmas is creative, inspiring, fun, and very similar to yours - except we don't hype up what's coming down the chimney.

This is a choice our family made. Many people choose to instead include Jesus and Santa, and every family has the freedom to choose what resounds in their hearts. I am working with my daughter to not "ruin it" for your family. But I hope even when kids who believe do find out, Christmas isn't ruined. I hope they can find the deeper, truer "magic" that Christmas is really all about.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Baked Stuffed Fish with Creamy Collard Greens

Can I just put this out there?

I'm not a great food photographer. No one will be giving me any special blogging awards for my orangey-yellow food pics. That said, I think what I make tastes pretty darned good. So there. You'll just have to trust me. And go to those other food blogs for visual inspiration. They're really pretty, but I can't guarantee the final product.

So this pregnancy, I've been craving fish. (If you've been following me for more than four years, you may remember that the last pregnancy consisted of lots of goat cheese and homemade sourdough bread, so fish is certainly a step up!). I normally make the same pan fried buttery garlic haddock, which is easy and delicious, but I wanted out of that rut.

Enter: baked stuffed flounder. You can use any white fish you want, but flounder has a high omega-3 count (and maybe it was on sale too...), so I opted to expand my horizons. If you're not a collard greens fan, just stick with me on this one. You'll hardly know it's there, and afterwards, you'll feel all healthy inside for consuming so much good stuff in one sitting.

This will whip up and be plate-ready in 30 minutes. You have no excuses.

For two servings
2/3 pound of white fish
bunch of collard greens (spinach, kale, or other greens will do just fine!), chopped into 1/2 inch ribbons
3 T butter
1 red or yellow onion, chopped
3-5 cloves of garlic, minced
8 ounces sour cream (my favorite)
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup cheese, shredded or just cut up small (I used gouda and parmesan)
salt and pepper

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • On stove top, add butter to saute pan. 
  • Melt, and add onion. Cook about 5 minutes, til soft. 
  • Add garlic. Cook a few minutes.  
  • Add greens and cook until soft, about 8-10 minutes for collards.
  • Add sour cream and wine. Stir well.
  • When sour cream and wine are thoroughly mixed into greens, add cheese. Cook until melted, about 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat.
  • Arrange fish pieces on top of a bit of butter in an oven safe dish. 
  • Spoon green mixture onto one half of each fish piece, and fold over, to make a "sandwich." Bake until the fish is flaky. It only took about five minutes for my thin flounder. 
  • Take a picture, and I'll post it on my blog. 
 I served it with some left over rice. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

You, The Great I Am

Inspired by a night of wind, a morning of grace...

start all my songs, all my stories--
but not just mine. Every good song,
every good story.

clean and bind and heal
my wounds
even when I think I'd rather hurt
in familiar pain.

lavish gifts of love, acceptance, joy
more than I deserve
You are good.

sacrificed The Most Precious
for me, for people, for togetherness.

You, Lover of my soul.
You, Lord of my life.
You, King of all kings.
You, Glorious, Majestic, I AM.

Yes, You ARE.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Dishwasher Detergent Recipe

Mix equal parts:

Citric Acid (I store separately to avoid clumping)
Washing Soda

Use 1 T per load. Vinegar in the rinse compartment is helpful for shiny, residue-free dishes!

Homemade DIY Laundry Detergent

Easy, peasy.

  • 1 Cup Washing Soda
  • 1 Cup Shredded Soap (I used Ivory-it takes a few minutes to grate, or put in your food processor)
  • 1 cup Borax
  • ½ Cup Vinegar (optional: added to rinse compartment)
Mix. Store in an airtight container. Add 1 T per load.

I'm hoping to cut out the Borax because of health concerns, but it's not on the top of my to-do list. Anyone else have a recipe that works well without the Borax?

This one looks intriguing...

Monday, October 29, 2012

Morning Glory Muffins (grain free)

I just can't let this recipe come and's one of our new favorite snacks. Enjoy!

1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) raisins
1/2 cup oats
1 cup almond meal
1/2 cup ground flax
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 T minced fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large carrots, grated
1 large apple, peeled, cored, and grated
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup nuts, like pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, or pecans

3 large eggs
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted (or just use all butter)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or 1 whole vanilla bean)
1/4 cup liquid - apple, orange, pineapple juice, or milk

Mix together all dry ingredients (raisins to nuts)
Blend wet for several minutes (eggs to liquid)

Mix together. Pour into muffins tins. Bake at 350 til set.

Friday, March 18, 2011


I've been MIA. I know. It's pretty pathetic. I have some other projects, and cooking has taken a backseat. I'm still diligently kefiring and trying to eat clean and green. It works most of the time, but moderation is my new mantra as a mama.

The first project I'm working on is a non-fiction book called The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby's First Year. It's been loads of fun - I'm researching and working with experts in fields that are relevant and interesting to me at this point in my life. Plus, we're reviewing products, which means learning about cool new companies. You can find us on Facebook, where we often have lively discussions with our fans. We're hosting some pretty cool giveaways too.

The second project is the young adult fiction novel, Filling in the Gap, that I wrote about in an earlier post. I'm done with it, but am revising a final time. I entered the manuscript in a contest on Wattpad, an online eBook community. I haven't marketed it well at all, because I'm inundated with Other Baby Book stuff, but I think I have a shot at winning, if I can just get through the first round, which is the "popular" vote. From there, my pieces goes to judges.

If you're interested in reading the first fifty pages and/or voting for me, I would be so appreciative! If you don't have a Wattpad login, you will have to sign up. I know that kind of stuff can be a pain, so thank you thank you!!

I'll be back again someday...just not sure when. Our goal is to finish The Other Baby Book and have it published by August!!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Green and Healthy Routines

I had a reader ask about my skin care routine. I used to do the Oil Cleansing Method, but for whatever reason (I think it was my trip to Italy, actually), I stopped. Ironically, I was thinking of starting again, and you, dear reader, were the kick in the pants that I needed. I'm loving the new routine! (I was previously using Mountain Rose Herbs cleansing grains, which are totally awesome as well.) I feel like I've rediscovered an old friend. I use extra virgin olive oil, castor oil, and a few drops of jojoba and almond oils, rub a quarter sized amount into my face for several minutes (ah, massage), and then follow with a "steam facial" - a piping hot, wet washcloth - for at least a minute. My skin feels wonderful and moist afterward. I do rub some jojoba oil once it's dried though, because it can feel tight. I mixed up a big batch to save time each day, but playing around with different oils is fun, and something you can definitely do. Just remember that castor oil is drying and cleansing, and olive oil, jojoba, coconut, avocado and almond oils are moisturizing. Adjust according to your needs. And maybe I should add, I only wash my face once a day. And I probably shower far less than the average American. My sister would cringe if she ever read my blog.

UPDATE: 1/13
I'm currently loving a version of the OCM. I stir equal parts white sugar, honey, and coconut oil together until they are well mixed. I store it in a little ramekin, uncovered, in my bathroom, and scoop out a little every morning. It's got the exfoliation which I missed with the OCM, but the moisture I missed with the cleansing grains. Best of both worlds!

My latest favorite "product" are tooth chips. I won a sample of tooth chips from Rose of Sharon and I admit, I was skeptical. Something that tastes like SOAP? No TUBE? But I'd been wanting a more sustainable alternative to toothpaste for awhile, so I took the plunge. Why use tooth chips? Well, here's what their site says about the chips:

  • We use Organic Oils

  • It is FREE of Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS)

  • It is FREE of Fluoride

  • It is FREE of Tricosan

  • It is FREE of Sand and Silica which brushes away gum tissue and enamel

  • It really CLEANS your teeth and doesn't leave a glycerin film to coat your teeth

  • It CLEANS so well that after brushing your saliva naturally begins the re-mineralizing process

  • It's SAFE for your entire family

  • It's MADE in the USA 

  • I can attest that it is an amazing product. My teeth feel so very clean after brushing. Despite my lacksidaisical attitude toward showering, I'm pretty fanatic about having a clean mouth. I floss regularly, and I do use an electric toothbrush every night, which makes a big difference. (I just use a manual one in the mornings.) These chpis are a keeper. I don't know that Anabella will ever taste tooth paste. As an added bonus, there's no plastic tube. Gotta love it! (You do have to get over the fact that it tastes like soap though...)

    Rose of Sharon has some fantastic shampoo bars too. Again, no plastic bottle, just a bar of soap. My hair feels seriously clean, and smells a lot better than when I tried no 'poo with baking soda. They're very reasonably priced, can be used on your body, and contain no chemicals or yucky stuff that I wouldn't want to seep into my blood stream. When we consider that hot water in the shower opens our pores, if you use lots of products that have unpronounceable chemical ingredients on your hair and skin, they are going to make their way into your body. I'm especially aware of this fact because I'm breastfeeding. Anyway, I digress. After shampooing with the soap bar, I follow with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, drop of lavender oil, and drop of tea tree oil, diluted in two cups of water. My hair feels really soft. It doesn't have much body though, so I'll be working on that end of things soon. I'm just glad it doesn't smell or look dirty...most of the time.

    As for deodorant, I did make some homemade stuff, but mostly I forgot to use it. I think I applied it a total of 5 times the whole summer. I figured that God gave us a certain body odor for a reason. And I wanted my daughter to smell ME, rather than some fragrance masking me. Now that it's getting cooler, the chance of me using it is going toward nil. Mark is my barometer. He's never once told me that I smell, and he would if he could!

    So, that pretty much sums up my "beauty" routine. I still use castor oil to take off make up if I've put any on, (got a great natural mascara that I'll have to dig up the name of when Anabella's not sleeping). And coconut oil is a fantastic all purpose moisturizer as well. Any questions??