Sewing & Repurposing

Whipstitch Wednesday: Kitchen Cupboard Closures {using fabric scraps & buckles}

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Hi guys and welcome to Whipstitch Wednesday 😊 True, just like last time I’m posting on Thursday. But oh well. Maybe I’ll just do it that way from now on.

Anyways. So today I finished up my latest kitchen project, which was making buckle closures for my kitchen cabinets. I had sewn one for one set of cabinets but still needed to sew another.

The deal with kitchen cabinets is that young children need to be kept out of them because of various cleaning chemicals and such. But. The way in which these cabinets are sealed off from the kids needs to be kid-proof, yet easy for the adult to open.

In the past, we’ve been frustrated with the methods we’ve used so I brainstormed and decided on a buckle attached to a fabric strap.

So I made one and it’s worked marvelously. My youngest (nearly 2) cannot unbuckle the strap (so far), and it’s easy for my husband and I to undo. I don’t think my 4-year-old can do buckles yet either, now that I think of it.

So here is a tutorial of how I made these kitchen cupboard closures.


 

Kitchen Cupboard Closures

Difficulty: Easy (-ish)

Materials: Fabric scrap, matching thread, sewing machine (or sewing needle), pins, clothes iron, plastic buckle.

 

Instructions:

 

1. Cut out the fabric.

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The dimensions of your fabric scrap will depend on the measurement around the handles of your kitchen cabinets. After you measure, add about 4 inches, plus 1 inch for turning down the ends.

So for example: 10″+4″+1″=15″.

This is the length.

The width will be 2.5-3″, fitting the slots in the buckle when ironed and doubled over.

 

2. Iron your fabric.

 

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Place fabric right side down. Turn down fabric about 1/2″ on one long side. Iron down and repeat with other side.

Pin fabric, wrong sides together and slip into the buckle to ensure it fits. Un-pin and iron.

Then lastly, iron the short width ends, about 1/2″.

 

3. Sew it.

 

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Sew the fabric on the long side that has the opening, about an 1/8″ from the edge. Repeat with other long side.

Turn short width end over and sew. Repeat with the other short end.

 

3. Buckle time.

 

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Insert one buckle onto the finished strap. Sew as far away from the buckle as possible.

Check your measurements by sliding the strap through the kitchen cabinet handles. Pin the other buckle so that the strap will be tight but not too tight when buckled.

Now sew the other half of the buckle onto the strap.

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All done! Good job 😄😄😄 Now you have a homemade kitchen cabinet closure that looks great and keeps out the little kiddos (we hope!)

If you do try this out, let me know if it works for you. Thanks! 😎

~Rachel

Travel

5 Favorite Things {on our FL vacation}

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1. The beach, of course!

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We did a beach day yesterday and everyone absolutely loved it. How could we not? Sure there was sand everywhere and we all got a little burnt. But what is that compared to nature’s loveliness?

Something about the beach soothes my soul in a deep way. Beautiful, beautiful beach. We will miss you!

 

2. Knitting squares.

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In my last post I mentioned that I was just learning to knit. For our vacation I decided to bring my knitting supplies so that I could knit on the long drive. I do have some traveling anxiety and this has been awesome to help with that. Knitting is very therapeutic 😊

 

3. A favorite read.

I’ve been reading quite a few different books on vacation but one of my most favorites has been Gift from the Sea, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

It is absolutely wonderful the way she combines the beachscape and different kinds of shells with just life and motherhood. It sounds like a simple concept and it is. I just really fell in love with her soothing, yet relevant writing style.

 

4. Local flora.

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Some of you know I love looking at plants and studying them. This one seems to be very common in Florida. It is a weed but I still think it’s lovely.

After a quick bit of research I believe this is Bidens alba, also known as Spanish needles. Wikipedia says that the leaves are edible but I didn’t test that one out.

 

5. This salad.

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This salad was 100% wonderful. We walked down to a produce stand where I bought beet greens and Florida strawberries and oranges, among quite a few other things. So good and way better than anything up north where I live.

I wish I would have taken a picture of the aloe vera leaf (for our sunburns) I bought before I cut it up. It was as long as my arm…and only 90¢!

Wishing you all warm and happy thoughts!

~Rachel

Sewing & Repurposing

Whipstitch Wednesday: Learning to Knit {winter goals}

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I originally planned to post this yesterday, on Wednesday but a number of factors had a hand in the delay. Hope you enjoy it all the same! 😊

My Brief Absence & A Blogging Update

Hello everyone 🙂 First let me say sorry for my absence here on the blog and WordPress in general. I’m behind reading your posts and behind on my blogging schedule as well.

And it’s all because we got totally sick. It was so immensely not fun. The flu is no joke. I hope none of you get it but if you do you have my complete sympathy.

But anyways. Back to blogging stuff.

 

First of all, I wanted to say…

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A big thank-you to all of my readers because I made it to 100 followers 😊😊😊 Yay! Thanks so much you guys. You inspire me with your likes, your comments, your encouragement here on the blog (and some of you in real-life have been blog-encouragers as well). Many thanks. And here’s to more posts in the days ahead!

 

Introducing Whipstitch Wednesday

Today I’d like to introduce a new category I’m calling Whipstitch Wednesday.

I’ve been doing a ton of different sewing/stitchery projects and thought this would be a fun way to share things I’m doing, learning and any other helpful tips I’ve found.

One thing I’ve been doing lately is (trying) to learn to knit. It’s been a long-time goal of mine.

 

Found a New Hobby at the Hobby Lobby…

So a few weeks ago I went out with a friend to Hobby Lobby and bought some knitting needles. Then I got out some yarn (I’ve been using it for non-knitting projects) and attempted to started to knit. I consulted a ton of books btw, didn’t just pull this out of my brain of course.

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Casting on my first stitch.
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I was fairly proud, although I know this is far from perfect.

After awhile, I got the knit stitch down. Although it looked too loose and I couldn’t figure out why…then just recently I learned that the big needles go with the big (thick) yarn. This was part of the reason I was so frusterated with my knitting.

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Here I am trying to master the purl stitch.
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I’m not even sure what is going on here. I think maybe I was knitting when I thought I was purling. This is the reverse side of the knitting in the previous picture.

Sweet Success

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After many, many frusterated hours. I finally have it!
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Close up of the v’s distinctive to the purl stitch.

 

I’m so happy 👏👏😄😄 It was hard to get the hang of it but I’m proud of my efforts.

The yarn I used is Red Heart Super Saver in Monet. I think it would be classified as a “worsted” yarn. So better suited for size 6 needles, from what I’ve read, instead of my size 13 needles.

I happened upon a yarn site (loveknitting.com) that was having a sale soooo….yeah I’m hooked. Planning tons of projects. As if I need any more sewing projects haha. Oh well can never have too many. It’s great therapy and perfect for these icky winter days.

Have you been doing any winter sewing projects to de-stress? Do you knit or want to learn someday?

~Rachel


 

P.s.- I found these two videos helpful for learning how to purl.

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How To Do a Purl Stitch Knitting, by Howcast

 

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How to Purl – p Stitch Beginner, by GoodKnitKisses

Reflections

The pain in the quiet, healing flow

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Good afternoon everyone! I mentioned in my last poem post that I wanted to share some more recent poetry.

So today I’m opening up and sharing some of the difficult moments and emotions of motherhood.

Motherhood isn’t all hard days. But then wow. Some days hit you and the emotions are through the roof.

I wrote this last November when I was going through some very hard moments. Internally all these emotions were fighting to get out. To be heard and dealt with.

I never write to be pitied. I write to put struggle to page. Sorrow to ink. I write so that what is broken can begin to be mended.

Maybe this will strike a cord with someone. I hope this sharing of personal struggle can minister to someone’s soul and spirit.

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Still Mother

 

In real pain

Do we mother.

Do we act

And do we slumber.

 

A hot tear dashed away

When no one can see

The pain that it is

To mother.

 

When the days stick

Together.

Mind wrapped in fog

Thicker and thick.

 

Yelling names

Crushing my heart

Over and over

I endeavor to teach.

To teach what it means

To be kind.

 

Be kind to me.

For my job is not easy.

I’m full of wounds

But I know how

To heal.

 

He taught me once

He teaches still.

 

The pain that it is to mother.

Oh child, be still.

 

~Rachel

 

This poem is my own. All pictures are from Unsplash.

Food, Global Eats

Global Eats: The Philippines (Part 4, Dessert)

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Welcome to Part 4 of my Global Eats series! This has been a series of posts focused on the food and culture of the Philippines.

Brief Re-cap

Previously in this series I shared:

Post #1-Global Eats: The Philippines (Part 1, Intro)

Post #2-Global Eats: The Philippines (Part 2, Main Dish)

Post #3-Global Eats: The Philippines (Part 3, Sauce & Side Dish)

Feel free to check out the other posts, if you wish. Part 1 is an introduction post to the series, with some background info on the food of the Philippines. Last Saturday I shared Part 3, which proved to be unexpectedly delicious.

Today we have…..

Filipino-Style Flan (Leche Flan)

If you google flan, you will soon see there are many different types of it. So what makes Filipino flan unique?

From what I’ve read, it is the eggs. Filipino flan calls for egg yolks only, not the whole eggs. This makes a richer and denser dessert. To me this makes it more like a custard-style dessert.

(Side note: Flan came to the Philippines from Spain because Spain colonized the country from 1565-1898.)

Making the Flan

Psst….

I have never made flan before. 😝

It was a bit tricky. In this post you will see some imperfect flans. But this isn’t a cooking show..no competition here. Just lots of learning and fun 🙂

Recipe

Most recipes for flan call for evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk. Since I cannot have dairy milk, I sought out a recipe that gave a substitute.

The recipe I used is from the blog Grain-Free Belle.

(Yep. This flan is gluten-free and dairy-free.)

The recipe called for 3 beaten eggs and 4 egg yolks. It made a ton of filling. It also called for rice or hemp milk, but I decided to try something different.

I took a chance and used coconut milk. I thought it would be neat to use coconut milk in a Filipino recipe because coconut is a popular ingredient there.

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Aroy-D is the brand that I used. It is the same brand that I used for my coconut yogurt

Flan Batch #1

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For my first batch, I made the carmel syrup and my custard far too thick. Of course I didn’t know this until the end…and the recipe didn’t really extrapolate on how full to fill the molds.

It did say to use ramekins, which I did not have, wasn’t going to buy. So I used 8oz mason jars.

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The result: a rather thick, half-formed flan.

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Flan Batch #2

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Lesson learned…thinner flan.
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One of the better looking ones…looks kinda like a scallop.

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This was my best-formed flan. The top cracked but the shape was good 🙂

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Taste

Ok but what did it taste like? Well, T.R. you are right. Flan is a bit bland. To me, this flan tasted fairly similar to custard pie. The caramel sauce added a nice element to the dessert.

Texture

Rich tasting. Smooth. A bit of a velvety texture.

It was a bit like sweetened scrambled eggs. But smoother, if that makes sense. It was good, but not particularly my cup of tea.

Flavor

Sooo sweet. For me it was an almost overpowering sweetness. Creamy, sweet desserts are not really my thing. Unless it’s chocolate! Haha.

A bit of carmel taste, a smidge of vanilla. But mostly a rich creamy flavor. I couldn’t especially taste the coconut.

 

Conclusion

Ginisang Togue. Banana Sauce with Rice and Leche Flan.

Thus ends the Filipino edition of my Global Eats series. Hope you’ve enjoyed our journey through the Philippines!

It’s been far from a complete culinary experience but I’ve had a lot of fun learning about so many unique dishes and flavors. And I’ve enjoyed sharing some of what I’ve learned with you guys. 🙂

The next country will probably not begin until 2 weeks from now. I’m still deciding if I want to do a European or Middle-Eastern country. And you know. Preparation and all that fun stuff.

 

Take care & stay warm!

~Rachel

Food, Global Eats

Global Eats: The Philippines (Part 3, Sauce & Side Dish)

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Welcome to Part 3 of my Global Eats series! This has been a series of posts focused on the food and culture of the Philippines.

Previously in this series I shared:

Post #1-Global Eats: The Philippines (Part 1, Intro)

Post #2-Global Eats: The Philippines (Part 2, Main Dish)

Check it out if you wish! Post #1 will give you a bit of background if you are not familiar with the food/culture of the Philippines.

Today’s post is all about…..

Banana sauce!

I talked a little bit about banana sauce (also known as banana ketchup) in post #1. I mentioned 3 foods unique to the Philippines: ube (purple yam), calamansi (citrus fruit) and banana sauce.

I’ve read that one of the things that banana sauce goes really well with is rice. 

Ok. No problem.

I made the banana sauce first. (Recipe from Serious Eats) It wasn’t too difficult to make. There were quite a few ingredients and about 20 minutes cook time but nothing too hard.

I did leave out the jalapeno and substituted the rum for water. And after cooking, cooling and blending I got this:

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I think it looks like peanut butter.

Then I made up some brown Basmati rice. I think steamed rice is more of a thing in Asian countries but I don’t have the proper equipment for that so the rice was cooked my usual way.

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And you know, I won’t lie…I was fully expecting to not like this.

The sweet banana flavor, mixed with savory, salty, tomato paste, vinegar and ginger? Plus seasonings like allspice? I was not too sure about this.

But you guys…guess what?

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It was incredibly delicious. I had 2 bowls. Seriously.

I’m not sure what it was. It truly did have a ketchupy taste to it. The sweetness I could taste right away, then a combination of flavors, the vinegar and then I could definitely taste a tiny bit of the cloves in the aftertaste.

It is amazing. On its own it was ok. But with rice somehow it was really delicious.

What a cheap and easy way to spruce up a cheap bowl of rice, right? I usually just have butter and salt on mine, or the usual serve it with stir-fry (the Americanized version) or whatnot.

Yum.

Ever had banana sauce on rice? 100% recommend 😄

Stay warm out there!

~Rachel

p.s.-Next post (and last from this country) will be a special Filipino style dessert 🍮 I’m planning on having it up on Tuesday. Enjoy your weekend!

Food, Snacks

Easy Strawberry-Apple Fruit Leather

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Howdy ya’ll 🙂 Just checking in on this fine Wednesday evening from my beautiful corner of the globe here in the midwestern U.S. Its been super cold lately…one evening it was even -16 with the windchill. Way too cold.

Some of you guys might have even colder winters than that though. I follow a Canadian blogger who said it was like -34 where she lives. What?? How do you even?! Yikes. It’s no wonder people are so incredibly happy come Spring.

Oh Spring! Come early this year! Please do!

Alright enough of my belly-aching and onto the real stuff.

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I don’t know if you remember my post on preserving apples, but in it I included the above picture.

Know what I did with all the peels and leftover bits of puree? Yep I put it all in the blender, made a puree and froze it.

Because I knew I wanted to make fruit leather with my dehydrator.

However…I couldn’t at the time because I had lost my fruit leather tray and was too lazy to find/think up/buy a replacement. So I found it. Yay! That’s what happens when you deep clean 🙂

Now I could finally make some! I took a big tub of apple puree and added it, along with some frozen organic strawberries to my blender to mix it. My ratio was 3 cups apple to 1 cup chopped frozen strawberries.

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This is the puree about halfway through the 4-6 hour drying process. 
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Dry texture ontop when finished.
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Shiny texture on bottom when done. My edges were a bit too thick and didn’t dry properly.
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Cut off the underdone parts and the remainder into strips with kitchen scissors.

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These make for a super-delicious snack. My almost 2-year-old daughter agrees. And why not? These fruit strips taste just like candy. They store well too. But that point is irrelevant because they won’t last long!

Do you like fruit leather? Have you ever tried it or maybe made your own at home? If so, what flavors are your favorite? I’d love to try some different flavor combos 😋 🍏🍓🍑🍒

~Rachel

Sewing & Repurposing

Repurposing Receiving Blankets to Make a Toddler Quilt {for Under $35}

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Ever wanted to make a baby or toddler quilt but don’t know quite where to start? How about with something you probably already have…

I made my first-ever quilt last month. First. ever. And guess what? It cost me less than $35 to make. 

But the best part is that this toddler quilt is not only a sewing project but a repurposing one as well.

I looked at a huge stack of flannel receiving blankets awhile ago and wondered what on earth to do with them. I thought about throwing them out…using them as rags. But no. They still had some use. A lot of them were cute prints.

Then I thought…

Quilt.

Yes I will make my daughter a toddler quilt. She will be transitioning to a toddler bed soon and a new quilt will be nice to have.

I wanted to share the process I went through to make this quilt. So the following post will be largely composed of pictures for your viewing pleasure.

So here you go. 2 ½ months of work squeezed into just a few minutes! Enjoy fellow sewers, crafters, repurposing junkies and lovers of art!

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To begin, I cut out 300 little 4″ squares and laid them out in a design. The quilt will be 20 squares long and 15 squares wide.

 

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Then I stacked up the rows and labeled each row.

 

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They were pinned, 2 at a time.

 

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Then those groups of 2’s were sewn together till each row of 20 was sewn. This part was pretty time consuming.

 

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Now I’m ready to start sewing rows together.

 

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I started with row 1 and 2 and pinned right sides together.

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Yeah woot look at that!

 

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Except the backside was totally messed up. And I only realized about halfway through sewing ALL of the rows. Time to re-do 😦

 

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Now 2 rows have been sewn together for rows 1-20.

 

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Then those rows of 2 were sewn together, giving me rows of 4. At this point, the quilt top is in 5 peices.

 

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One more seam will complete the quilt top, joining the 2 peices.

 

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Sewing the last seam!

 

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Completed quilt top.

 

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The back.

 

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At this point I got out my flannel backing and the pieces of the old quilt I had cut apart and assembled the quilt.

 

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Then I took out the quilt top and ironed the back peices down flat.

 

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About to cut the inner layers to size right against the quilt top. (Notice my cat in the bottom right hand corner. Cats love it when you lay a quilt on the floor.)

 

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Complete!

 

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Then one of the most nerve-wrecking parts, cutting the flannel piece to the proper size and pinning. I had to cut, fold, pin and then re-do to get it right.

 

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Notice my daughter trying to pick out the pins. She did that the whoooolllee time!

 

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Finally. Here I am sewing the last side of the quilt.

 

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The last step was tying the ties. About 150 of them, which took longer than I anticipated. And yep the quilt has been well loved and thus the wrinkles.

 

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Back of the quilt. The ties go through all layers of the quilt and hold everything together. It also makes for a more “flexible” blanket.

 

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I love the swirling pattern.

 

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Close-up of the nursery print with a tie.

 

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Love this print.

 

It was a relief to finally finish this project just a few days before Christmas. I made a few flukes but I don’t really care. The proof is in the pudding, as they say and I think I have a good one.


 

Price breakdown

 

Thread

4 spools beige thread @ $2.90 each= $11.60

2 embroidery floss (60¢ each)=$1.20

Fabric (all new)

-Flannel fabric, for backing, 53″ wide× 64 ½” long= $12.90

(This was from a 110″×54″ peice, or 1 ½ yards.)

-Nursery print flannel fabric, 1 yd= $7.50

Free stuff

-Roughly 8yds (1 yd each color/pattern) of flannel solids & prints.

-inner layer of the quilt from 2 layers of an old quilt.

 

Total cost= $33.20


 

God Bless & stay warm! It’s a cold one out there for sure…it’s been 20 or below here in the midwest for for-ev-er. (So it seems. Probably 10 days at most.) I can not wait for it to warm up!

~Rachel

 

***Measurements: This finished quilt measures 49″ wide × 60 ½” long

Food, Global Eats

Global Eats: The Philippines (Part 2, Main Dish)

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Welcome back to the Global Eats series! Last week I posted Global Eats: The Philippines (Part 1, Intro).

This is Part 2, out of 3 or 4 total posts.

Re-cap

To re-hash, this is what inspired the series:

I wrote in my latest blogging update post that I wanted to make a variety of dishes that are common in other countries and cultures. This idea was inspired in part by a post from the blog My No-Fuss Kitchen.

The blogger shared how she saved money by making Chinese-Malaysian stir fry dishes out of leftover ingredients.

My intent is to answer 3 basic questions:

  1. How do people in other cultures save money on food?
  2. What ingredients are staples in other countries?
  3. What new flavors will I learn about?

So in my last post I covered #2. I learned a lot about the foods of the Philippines and I still have more to learn! I’m amazed at just how much there is to learn.

And I just love it. I love learning this stuff.

The Main Dish: Ginisang Togue

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Ok so the photos I am sharing today are guided by the recipe for Ginisang Togue which is from the website Authentic Filipino Recipes.

So check out the site for the recipe 🙂

The words “Ginisang Togue” mean “sauteed mung bean sprouts” in Tagalog. So that must be the main ingredient, right?

Right.

I hadn’t made sprouts before but I heard it was easy. Can I get mung beans in the US? Yes I could.

Making the sprouts

I purchased a sprouting jar lid for $4.75 and 4oz organic mung bean sprouts seeds for $3.79 from iherb.com.

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All you need to make sprouts: quart mason jar, sprouting lid, sprouting seeds and water. (Plus a bowl and a towel.)
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I wanted some longer sprouts so I rinsed and drained every 12 hours for 5 days.
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Ta-da! Sprouts!

 

Time to Cook!

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The recipe called for a lot of veggies. Garlic, onions, red and green bell peppers, sprouts and carrots.

It also called for tofu, which I didn’t use. I just used extra shrimp because I try to stay away from soy products.

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So a little bit about these ingredients. The recipe called for a large tomato, cubed. I didn’t have one and wasn’t about to run to the store just for that. So I used part of a can of my homemade crushed tomatoes.

I also used a bit of chicken flavored soup base instead of the chicken cube.

What is oyster sauce? 

According to The Spruce, “Oyster sauce is a thick, brown sauce with a sweet, salty, and earthy flavor. Oyster sauce is a popular ingredient in Vietnamese, Thai, and Cantonese cuisine.”

A good kind will be something like a combo of oysters, salt and soy sauce.

Mine was not high-quality and did not contain oysters. However, being many miles from acquiring good quality oysters, and also not seeing these recipes till just now, bottled “oyster” sauce was what happened.

To me, it just tasted like thick, slightly sweet soy sauce. Boo. Still, it made for decent flavor.

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The final product.

Flavors

What did this dish taste like?

There were a few different flavors going on. There was sweet, from the red bell peppers and carrots. Salty, from the soy sauce, oyster sauce and chicken soup base. And the sprouts, to me were a bit bitter, but just from the seed part. There wasn’t any big pop of flavor but I think all of the ingredients complimented each other.

Definitely an interesting flavor combo and a wonderful texture. I tried to keep the veggies slightly raw and that made for a nice crunch. I enjoyed eating this and I would make it again.

Saving money

To me, this recipe is frugal because…

  • Lots of veggies are added. And veggies are cheap. The ones used here I can buy year-round.
  • Sprouts are also easy to make yourself and cheap. Mine cost me about 95¢ for this recipe.
  • Rice is always a frugal ingredient that can feed a crowd.
  • Protein, starch and veggie in one dish makes for an easy meal. Yay easy!

Just a tiny peek into the flavors and ingredients of a Filipino dish 🙂 Not 100% authentic but a fun experience all the same.

~Rachel

 


 

Resources:

www.tagaloglang.com

Toge

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www.recipeland.com

Homemade Oyster Sauce

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www.thespruce.com

What Is Oyster Sauce?

Motherhood

Stinky, Poopy Diapers {and what they’ve taught me about being a mom}

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I really hate poopy diapers. Not always, mind, but much of the time.

It happens at inconvenient times. At least, inconvenient to me.

As if to prove this point my daughter, reeking of dirty diaper, sat down right next to me as I began this post.

So I got up to change her, as I always do. As must be done. As is my duty as a mother.

But let me ask you. As a mother, do you ever feel resentment when confronted with this? Frusteration? Feel inconvenienced?

Sometimes I forget that my daughter is not toliet-trained like her brother. And giving her the care she needs seems hard.

Maybe that’s the seasonal depression talking. It happens in the winter. I know I’m not the only one in that. I know that January is a hard month to be a mom. Fyi It’s often difficult to blog during this month. When its cold and when isolation and sickness bring challenges.

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But that is not the point of this post.

Awhile ago I started reading Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe, by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson. I fought with the idea of reading it. I knew reading would push me, change me. And I didn’t know if I was ready for that.

But finally, 10 chapters in I feel like I am getting somewhere. And I feel like I’m maybe beginning to learn.

Ok, but what’s that to do with poopy diapers?

“The ability to last in motherhood requires giving up expectations for our own lives, deciding that sacrificing our desires and wants for the sake of our family is our gift of worship to our heavenly Father.”

-from Desperate, Chapter 10 by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson

One day after reading the bulk of chapter 10, I looked at my daughter who had decided to fill up her britches. I was im the middle of something, but instead of feeling inconvenienced I felt a mental shift. I found I could manage a smile instead of a frown.

This is not always the way of things. I am no Mary Poppins. Human I am, human I will remain. But that brief blip. That small, slight shift. I hope it will become more and more a part of me as I seek to treasure my children. Treasure not just the happy and the beautiful moments but also the difficult, the hard times.

Not because I’m some kind of higher-than-thou person. But because to learn to treasure my role as a mother I need to continually learn the art that is shining light where there is dark. A smile in the face of a challenge. Gladness of heart in the face of trying circumstances.

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Motherhood is balance. And I think what I’ve most struggled with is the idea that to be a good mom, I need to give up on taking care of me. Which is misplaced. I don’t have to give that up to be a good mom. It’s not my time or my self-care that needs to go but my negative thinking that damages my relationship with these sweet babies I love so much.

Perfect mom syndrome? Haha far from it! (A fly on the wall today would have seen something else entirely.) But I’m learning. One step at a time 🙂

~Rachel

 

All photos are from Unsplash.

Food, Global Eats

Global Eats: The Philippines (Part 1, Intro)

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Introduction

Welcome to the first post of my Global Eats series! This is a series I’ve been planning to help myself (and hopefully others) learn more about the value of food from other countries. This is a cultural appreciation, history lesson and culinary education all rolled into one.

I wrote in my latest blogging update post that I wanted to make a variety of dishes that are common in other countries and cultures. This idea was inspired in part by a post from the blog My No-Fuss Kitchen.

The blogger shared how she saved money by making Chinese-Malaysian stir fry dishes out of leftover ingredients.

My intent is to answer 3 basic questions:

  1. How do people in other cultures save money on food?
  2. What ingredients are staples in other countries?
  3. What new flavors will I learn about?

Question #2 will be answered in this post. The others I hope to answer by the end of this series on the Philippines.

I am very excited to begin learning as much as I can about the foods that are popular and loved in different countries around the globe.

Disclaimer: I am not Filipino but I will try my best to share what I have learned. To anyone who is Filipino or is more knowledgeable on the topic, please feel free to share info or correct me if I am in error at any point in my posts.

 

History of Food & Melding of Cultures

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Question: what is the history that shaped present day food dishes in the Philippines?

Because the Philippines has a tropical climate, and because of its location in the Pacific and southeast Asia there are foods like coconut, bananas and rice that were well established in the country.

Then there are influences from neighboring countries. The Philippines are close to China, especially but also Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. Trade and the mixing of cultures helped introduce new foods to the Filipino people.

Filipino-Chinese Food

From China there was an introduction to noodles, vegetables in a wrapper (like spring rolls or eggrolls), also things like steamed and filled buns and dumplings were incorporated into the Filipino diet.

Fil-Hispanic Food

One of the most unexpected things I found was that certain types of food have Spanish and even Mexican influences.

The Philippines were colonized by Spain for 333 years (1565-1898). Throughout this time dishes like flan (a custard-like dessert) and Paella (a seasoned rice dish with meat/seafood) were introduced and recipes were slightly modified.

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When I think of food in a specific country, I tend to (wrongly) think that the food there will be unique to and consistent throughout the country.

What I’ve found instead is that a country typically has many dishes that are not initially from that particular country. And within that country, dishes will vary by region.

That being said, there are a few foods that are unique specifically to the Philippines.

Common & Unique Ingredients in the Philippines

Three totally unique ingredients I’ve learned about:

  • banana ketchup
  • calamansi
  • ube

What are these things??

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Banana ketchup (advertised as banana sauce). source: Wikipedia

The story here is that when the US “met” with the Philippines, certain foods like ketchup were introduced. Tomatoes are not as common there, so a sauce was made using bananas. The ingredients are similar, but banana ketchup is sweeter. Read more here if you’re curious.

 

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Calamansi. Called calamondin in the US. Said to be similar to a lemon or lime in flavor. source: Pixabay

Calamansi fruit or juice was one ingredient that I saw in Filipino recipes over and over. It is available in the country in all seasons and has a pleasantly tart taste (like a lemon-lime combo), I’ve heard.

Most recipes I saw had pictures of the green fruit but when calamansi are ripe, they look like a tangerine. Very unique, beautiful fruit.

 

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Ube. Also called purple yam. source: Wikipedia

Another incredibly gorgeous food found in the Philippines is ube. It is naturally colored purple yam that is found most often in desserts. Google ube ice cream. Gorgeous. I totally want to grow some!

 

Tying it All Together

How to explain the flavors of Filipino food? I’m not Filipino and my knowledge is limited. I only know what I’ve read from others that are Filipino and have tried those foods they have written about.

I saw ingredients like rice, shrimp, onions, bell peppers, garlic, soy sauce, carrots, pork and fish sauce over and over. 

My general impression is that there is a lot of pork, chicken or shrimp cooked along with a lot of veggies in a somewhat simple sauce. There wasn’t a lot of the seasonings I’m used to, like oregano and thyme.

What I’ve read is that Filipino food doesn’t have heavy seasonings like we might have here in the US. Flavor comes from liquid sauces..not often made of tomatoes either.

 

Plans For the Series

As I go on in this series on Filipino food, I hope to more accurately describe the flavors I taste. The textures. The new ingredients I’ve used and the fun that I’ve had trying it all out.

Currently I plan on making and posting about 2-3 Filipino dishes. At least one will be a main dish and the other 1-2 will be a side, sauce or dessert.

This is as close as I can get to physically trying Filipino food in the Philippines. I am not a global food expert, but in doing this Global Eats series I hope to educate myself and learn a bit about the good food from other countries around the world.

~Rachel

All photos unless otherwise noted are from Pixabay.


 

Sources:

The Multicultural Cookbook for Students, by Carole Lisa Albyn and Lois Sinaiko Webb

~

www.buzzfeed.com

24 Delicious Filipino Foods You Need In Your Life

~

www.foodrepublic.com

Banana Ketchup: The Philippines’ Answer To A Lack Of TomatoesCondiment of the Week: Filipino Banana Ketchup

~

www.asian-recipe.com

The Philippines-Then and Now

~

Wikipedia

Calamondin

Yam (vegetable)

~

www.authenticfilipinorecipes.com

~

Junblog

~

Books, Celebrated Authors

25 Reasons Why Jane Austen Is Awesome

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“Know your own happiness.

You want nothing but patience-

or give it a more fascinating name,

call it hope.”

-from Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 19, by Jane Austen

Oh I have been looking forward to this post for quite some time. This day, today, was the day Jane Austen was born 242 years ago in Steventon, Hampshire, England.

She is one of the most famous, most beloved, and most intelligent writers in all of history.

Most people have heard of her, but maybe don’t really know exactly why she was such a sensation. Why her works are so important.

To be honest, I couldn’t formulate such reasons myself. So I endeavored to read up on her life and write up a few reasons why I think Jane Austen is awesome.

Enjoy, fellow Jane Austen fans!


 

25 Reasons Why Jane Austen Is Awesome

 

 

A. Her Life

 

1. She was a woman disappointed in love.

But she was also a woman who said no to at least one proposal of marriage. Because of lack of love, maybe. But also because it gave her the freedom to write.

 

2. But thwarted love didn’t derail her.

She could have let her disappointed romantic hope lead her into a life pf bitterness and depression. Instead, I believe it motivated and inspired her work.

 

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3. She possesed the loyalty of a most beloved sister.

She was best friend to her older sister Cassandra all her life. Her sister lost her fiance to yellow fever and, same as Jane, never married. They had an unshakable bond and I imagine we owe Jane Austen’s novels in part to the encouragement of her sister.

 

4. I suspect her relationships weren’t perfect.

I’m sure her mother must have scolded her at some point. A “Mrs. Bennet style” scolding. Had she married, could she have saved her mother and sister from (supposed) destitution? And yet, she still wrote.

 

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5. Her life wasn’t always easy.

She was human. During the time she lived in Bath (1801-1806), she could write nothing.

 

6. She preferred walking.

She was fond of walking, especially throughout the countryside. I think that this was admirable in an age when physical fitness was not particularly encouraged.

 

“I walk: I prefer walking.”

-from Persuasion, Chapter 19, by Jane Austen

 

B. Her Writing Style

 

1. Her witty descriptions of people make me laugh.

They are so on point. And so ridiculous. But true. 200 years later and we still know silly people, meddling people, etc. Which is what makes them so funny.

 

2. The Palmers, of Sense and Sensibility.

Still hilarious, every time I read. Check out Hugh Laurie and Imelda Staunton in the 1995 version of Sense and Sensibility. Guarantee it will make you laugh.

 

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3. A woman ahead of her time.

As most great artists/writers are. Her characters were not appreciated by her critics. I find that hard to believe…what’s not to like about Elizabeth Bennet?

 

4. Her heroines.

She produced strong, intelligent female characters. Elinor Dashwood. Elizabeth Bennet. Fanny Price (strong in her own way). Emma Woodhouse. Catherine Morland. Anne Elliot.

 

5. She urged love over comfort in a time when comfort, money, was highly prized.

 

6. Jane Austen wrote of true love over social duty.

Which we applaud today (mostly). Yet in her time people did not appreciate or understand this way of thinking.

 

7. She wrote what she knew.

She wrote about women. Their thoughts, desires, struggles, conversations, joys and amusements. From this, we get a brilliant picture of the life of a woman in the 18th and early 19th century.

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8. Austen fine-tuned her craft.

Like all great writers, she grew and developed. She took what talent she had and built upon it.

 

9. Her books are relatable.

She infused real-life family issues into her books. This is another big reason why her books are so loved. Ever been ignored and underappreciated like Anne Elliot? Trampled on, like Fanny Price? Been a rock for your family and hid your own struggles like Elinor Dashwood?

 

10. A unique style.

What set her apart as a writer was not what she wrote about but how she wrote it. It was her style that made her unique. So many people wrote about the same things she did. Yet she stood out. Why? One reason is that she was more concerned with the psychology of her characters, how they thought, than in describing how they looked.

 

C. Her Works

 

1. She had 4 books published in 4 years.

It took her 13+ years to reach this level, but once she started, she never stopped until illness forced her to.

 

2. Sense and Sensibility. (1811)

Two sisters. One ruled by her heart, the other ruled by her mind. Their lack of fortune becomes an element closely tied to the futures with the men they love.

3. Pride and Prejudice. (1813)

Four sisters. Headstrong Lizzy (Elizabeth, the main character) and sweet Jane (the eldest) find love where it is unexpected. Their sisters have their shares of adventures as well. A very happy and balanced story.

4. Mansfield Park. (1814)

This is the story of Fanny, a shy and poor girl who in a sense is adopted by wealthy relatives. She is timid, but in other ways brave. In my eyes, this is Austen’s most complex novel.

5. Emma. (1815)

Emma is the one novel I have not read through completely. I couldn’t like the main character, which is something Jane herself expected from her readers. Emma is somewhat strong-willed and delights in matchmaking…even though she makes a mess of it.

6. Northanger Abbey. (1817)

A satire on the Gothic novel. A story about a girl named Catherine, as she is grows up and finds her true purpose in life.

7. Persuasion. (1817)

Anne’s story of how others can persuade a person which path to take in life and of second chances with past love.

8. Her books have been translated into 35 languages

 

9. She was proud of her novels.

Particularly Pride and Prejudice, which she referred to as “my own darling Child”.

 

Thanks for tuning in to my long Austen-themed post! 😃😃😃

What do you love most about Jane Austen? Which of her works are your favorite, or least favorite?

~Rachel

 


 

Sources:

www.stylist.co.uk

Jane Austen: An Influental Woman

~

www.bbc.com

Why Is Jane Austen Trending 200 Years After Her Death?

~

www.famousauthors.org

Jane Austen

Food

What to Eat for Breakfast When You Would Rather Have a Donut {6 ideas}

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Honestly, some mornings I’m dragging. Like hardcore dragging and the only thing I want to grab is something super-easy. And what is easier than reaching for sweet tasting baked goods from the store?

I mostly do pretty well when it comes to my first meal of the day. But other days begin poorly when I’ve convinced myself that I can eat something deficient in nutrition just because it pleases my taste buds.

The result is always, inevitably a sugar crash which leaves me feeling ick. Never a good idea. But somehow I always have those moments when I think, “hey…maybe sugar for breakfast will be ok today.”

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Source: Pinterest

6 Healthier Breakfast Ideas (When You Would Rather Have a Donut)

 

1. Whip up a colorful fruit salad.

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I made this simple fruit salad last week from sliced/diced kiwis and mangos. Try to make a fruit salad that has as much color as possible for visual interest and nutrient value. The natural sugars will help curb the cravings.

 

2. Bake some good muffins.

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Muffins are always my go-to when we need a healthy breakfast food or healthy snack. I’ve been using the same ole recipe for like 4 years so recently I decided to try a new one.

The muffin pictured above is from a batch of Applesauce Oat Bran Muffins, from the back of a box of Hodgson Mill Old Fashioned Oat Bran Cereal. I tried it out and they were good! The kids liked them too. Even my pickier child (my son) ate them up.

Here is the recipe for the muffins I tried:

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A good muffin recipe will give you fiber, will be low in sugar and include some sort of mashed or pureed fruit or veggie.

3. Make some healthier donuts.

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My first attempt at making chocolate donuts…I think I filled the molds a bit too full.

These Chocolate Donuts from The Nutty RD are absolutely the bomb. (Lol do people still use that phrase?) No refined sugar, gluten-free and dairy-free. They also have healthy fat that will help you get your energy back. And not in a dramatic way like the other kind of donuts.

And if you don’t have a donut pan no worries 🙂 Check out this tutorial and video from Tip Hero on how to make your own makeshift donut pan with tinfoil and a muffin tin.

 

4. A big ole old fashioned breakfast. (Or a hot breakfast that appeals to you.)

Sometimes what your body really needs is a veratible smorgasboard of hot, yummy food. I do not do this very often. We are a small family and no one person seems to like the same thing. Except french toast. We are lovers of french toast 😋

Usually a hot breakfast for us is things like buttered toast and tea, scrambled eggs with lots of stir fried veggies, or my favorite…sweet potato hash. These things are super easy to whip up and will leave your body feeling satisfied. The protein/fat/fiber combo that will keep you feeling full for longer.

 

5. Oat bran cereal with apples, raisins and cinnamon.

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This is a new favorite for me and a change from my usual oatmeal and raisins. I cook the oat bran in a mix of water and almond milk. I will also cook up some apple chunks and raisins in a bit of cinnamon and water. I add the fruit, some of the liquid and a bit more almond milk over top the cooked oat bran.

The texture is smoother than cooked oatmeal and tastier, I think. Pleanty of fiber and the cinnamon and fruit will help tame your sweet tooth.

 

6. Homemade granola bars.

These are great because you can make them beforehand and just grab one when you wake up.

I finally found a recipe that I love…the Rock-n-Rolled Oats and Quinoa Energy bars from Sadie Nardini’s book The 21-Day Yoga Body are my absolute favorite. Ok so yeah they aren’t technically granola bars but might as well be.

They are full of awesome ingredients like cooked quiona, ground flaxseed, raw almonds and dried fruit. They hold together pretty well and its not because of a massive amount of sugar. Yay!

~Rachel

Caturday

Welcome Home, You

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“Welcome home you,

I know you by name

How do you do?

I shine because of you today

So come and sit down,

tell me how you are

I know, son,

it’s good to just see your face.”

-lyrics from Welcome Home, by Brian Littrell.

I have the best welcome home kitty in the world. Shadow is always so good at being right there by my car door whenever I come home. Last month I came home and the kids had fallen asleep in the car, as they usually do. It was just me and Shadow and the sunshine was beautiful.

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He is so good at being welcoming. I think its probably 80% he wants fed and 20% happy to see me…but I’ll take what I can get!

The poor guy has been out in the cold lately. Really wish I could let him in but he has fleas and such so I (ok yes it was mostly my husband, with a bit of prodding) just made him a little box, and then insulated it as best I could with newspaper.

His little “house” needs a bit of straw to make it nice but at least he has a spot to block the wind. I’m not sure if he’s using it or not but maybe he will get the hint eventually. Cats are funny about new things.

Shadow (or Begheera as my husband calls him) has a very thick coat of fur so I know he’s warmer than I think he is. Still, I feel bad for animals that are out in the cold like that 😦

There are a lot of cats around here though. They all stay outside so they’ve all made it through the cold winters somehow. I expect they have their little nooks where they like to stay and sleep sheltered from the weather 🙂

Do you have any furry friends to welcome you home? How do you keep them warm in the winter (if they stay outside)?

~Rachel

Natural Skin Care

My Top 5 Favorite Lip Balms {stocking stuffer ideas}

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Lip balm, anyone? Lip balm, to me, is life. I’m a bit obsessed, yes. But who doesn’t need a bit of lip balm in their life? And it’s a super-easy and cheap way to pamper yourself.

Or, as we scoot closer to Christmas, giving away lip balm is a simple way to bless others.

I’ve rounded up my top 5 favorite lip balms that make great little gifts or stocking stuffers for the special people in your life.

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My favs!

 

1. Aubrey Organics. Treat em Right Lip Balm, Raspberry flavor.

This is the best raspberry flavored lip balm I have ever tried. The eos Pomegranate-Raspberry lipbalm is similar but not quite as good.

What I love:

I love it that this product is organic (not vegan because of the beeswax though).

It has rose seed oil and vitamin e in addition to the 4 other oils listed.

~

This product is currently $5.03 on Amazon.


2. Burt’s Bees. 100% Natural Moisturizing Lip Balm, Beeswax.

This one is a true classic. I use quite often. I have yet to find another minty lip balm that holds a candle to Burt’s Bees.

What I love:

The flavor and texture of this lip balm is perfect. Beautifully minty, but with a touch of rosemary to give it that extra layer of flavor.

Lanolin has been added to it, which is great for chapped skin.

~

This lip balm is $8.62 for a 4-pack on Amazon but can be purchased in single at just about any store or drugstore.


 

3. Covergirl. Natureluxe Gloss Balm, in anemone.

This lip balm is a cross between lip gloss and lip balm. Although to me, it is more like a sheer lipstick.

What I love:

This lip gloss/balm isn’t as natural as most of my other lip balms, but it does have slightly better ingredients than most lipsticks..like lanolin, calendula wax and shea butter.

Plus I love the colors. I have one in anemone (coralish red color) and hibiscus (a mauve-ish berry shade).

~

I’ll tell you a secret. These are typically $9 at places like Wal-Mart but I bought mine from a discount store (Odd Lots) for $1!


 

4. Primal Pit Paste. Chai Pucker Paste Lip Balm.

This is a new lip balm that I ordered with my deodorant from Primal Pit Paste just to try it out. I’m a sucker for chai flavors and I was very pleasantly surprised with this one.

What I love:

I love pretty much everything about this stuff. It has 6 ingredients, 4 of them organic. There are no harsh chemicals, propylene glycol, aluminum, parabans or synthetic fragrances in this product. Sweet!

The texture is nice, a tad on the buttery side and the fragrance is wonderful. I’m not sure what they’ve used as fragrance but I imagine it has cinnamon and cloves, which gives off a slight tinglyness.

~

Primal Pit Paste is currently having a 6-day sale on their products and this lip balm is currently $3.96.


 

5. Smith’s Rosebud Salve.

This salve I tried for the first time 5+ years ago and it is everything they say! A true beauty classic. And versatile! A salve can be used on any dry skin, not just lips.

What I loved:

The smell is lovely and the texture is similar to Vaseline. It does work very well. The ingredients are somewhat mysterious so I’m not 100% sure what makes this stuff so awesome. I like it that this product comes in a tin or tube, because the tin is super hard to open.

Because I do not currently own any, this is what it looks like⤵⤵⤵

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photo credit: Amazon

I first purchased this product at Bath & Body Works. It is available on Amazon for $6.50.


 

Found any new favorite lip balms lately? Or have any old favorites that you’d like to share? I’d love to hear all about it, I’m always looking for more lip balms to try 😊 And, er, gift. 😉

~Rachel

Note: I did not receive compensation for my reviews of these products. I just really like them!

Books, Celebrated Authors

Marilla’s Famous Plum Preserves {from author L.M. Montgomery}

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Lucy Maud Montgomery was born on this day in history, 143 years ago, in Clifton, Prince Edward Island.

She was a brilliant author and one of my favorites. And because I am such a nerd of all things AOGG, I wanted to bring a particular aspect of the books to life.

So I will share a few of my favorite plummy quotes about Marilla’s famous plum preserves.

And why plum preserves? Well, I guess you’ll just have to wait and see 😉

 

Yellow Plum Preserves

The rarer of the two types of preserves was the yellow plum preserves. Reserved more for special company, and for Davey, apparently.

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“We’re to have two kinds of jelly…and fruitcake, and Marilla’s famous yellow plum preserves that she keeps especially for ministers…”

-from Anne of Green Gables, Chapter 22


 

“Anne had came home from school the previous evening, to find Marilla away at an Aide meeting, Dora asleep on the kitchen sofa, and Davy in the sitting room closet, blissfully absorbing the contents of a jar of Marilla’s famous yellow plum preserves…”company jam, ” Davy called it…which he had been forbidden to touch.”

-from Anne of Avonlea, Chapter 14

 

Blue Plum Preserves

More of the regular sort, these blue plum preserves were still fit for a king. Or even an Earl, as Anne points out. I imagine that these plums were picked by Marilla from her own tree on the Green Gables farm.

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“Your dinner is in the oven, Anne, and you can get yourself some blue plum preserve out of the pantry.”

-from Anne of Green Gables, Chapter 18


“I daresay even the English earl himself wouldn’t have turned up his aristocratic nose at Marilla’s plum preserves,” said Anne proudly.

-from Anne of Avonlea, Chapter 2


“Anne’s laugh, as blithe and irresistible as of yore, with an added note of sweetness and maturity, rang through the garret. Marilla in the kitchen below, compounding blue plum preserve, heard it and smiled…”

-from Anne’s House of Dreams, Chapter 1


So…what about Marilla’s plum preserves? Well…I happen to have some. Ok I admit it. I cooked and canned them on purpose because of the particular reference to it in the Anne of Green Gables books.

And folks, it was divine.

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Preserves aren’t jam exactly. They are thicker, with peices of fruit left unmashed. Not chunky but not smooth. Very rich, flavorful and good.

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I had a cup of Celestial Seasonings Sugar Plum Spice tea with my toast and preserves, keeping with the plum theme.

What do you think? Do you like plum preserves? Have you ever tried it? Have you ever made any particular book-themed treat?

~Rachel

Books, Celebrated Authors

Remembering Louisa May Alcott with Favorite Quotes from “Little Women”

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Happy Birthday, Louisa May Alcott! She was born 185 years ago *today, in Germantown, Pennsylvania. She was the second oldest of four daughters. Anna, Louisa, Elizabeth and Abigail were the four girls born to Amos and Abigail Alcott.

Louisa May Alcott wrote quite a few books and short stories in her lifetime. Little Women is the most well known of her works and is followed by the books Little Men and Jo’s Boys.

Her contemporaries were such authors as Charles Dickens (1812-70), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930), Henry David Thoreau (1817-62), Alexandre Dumas (1802-70) and Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821-81). One of my favorite time periods for literature for sure.

Since I posted an in-depth e-book review on The Courtship of Jo March last week, I thought it would be fun to write up a simpler post full of my favorite quotes from Little Women.

Enjoy!

Favorite Quotes from Little Women

From Part 1 (Chapters 1-23)

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“Meg’s high heeled slippers were very tight and hurt her, though she would not own it, and Jo’s nineteen hairpins all seemed stuck straight into her head, which was not exactly comfortable; but dear me, let us be elegant or die!”

-from Chapter 3


You don’t look a bit like yourself, but you are very nice.”

-from Chapter 9, Sallie to Meg.


I don’t like fuss and feathers.”

-from Chapter 9, Laurie to Meg.

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You’d have nothing but horses, inkstands and novels in yours,” answered Meg petulantly.

Wouldn’t I, though? I’d have a stable full of Arabian steeds, rooms piled high with books, and I’d write out of a magic inkstand, so that my works should be as famous as Laurie’s music. I want to do something splendid before I go into my castle-something heroic or wonderful that won’t be forgotten after I’m dead. I don’t know what, but I’m on the watch for it, and mean to astonish you all some day.”

-from Chapter 13


From Part 2 (Chapters 24-47)

“By-and-by Jo roamed away upstairs, for it was rainy, and she could not walk. A restless spirit possessed her, and the old feeling came again, not bitter as it once was, but a sorrowfully patient wonder why one sister should have all she asked, the other nothing.”

-from Chapter 42

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“The boy early developed a mechanical genius which delighted his father and distracted his mother, for he tried to imitate every machine he saw, and kept the nursery in a chaotic condition, with his “sewin-sheen”-a mysterious structure of string, chairs, clothespins, and spools, for wheels to go “wound and wound”; also a basket hung over the back of a chair, in which he vainly tried to hoist his too confiding sister, who, with feminine devotion, allowed her little head to be bumped till rescued, when the young inventor indignantly remarked, “Why, Marmar, dat’s my lellywaiter, and me’s trying to pull her up.”

-from Chapter 45 (the antics of John and Meg’s twin children Daisy and Demi).


 

Have you read any books by or about Louisa May Alcott lately? Which novel is your favorite? I’d love to hear about it 😊

~Rachel

*For some reason, WordPress marked my post as 11/30, when I wrote it at 8pm on 11/29, which is Louisa May Alcott’s birthday. Not the 30th.

Caturday

Eater of tape and other things…

**11/26/17-This post has been edited. I was super busy cooking a Thanksgiving dinner (yesterday) and that contributed to the quality of the post. So here is the edited version 🙂

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I like boxes,

I like tape.

Lick, raspy lick.

Crinkle, crackle crink

In the middle of 

The night.

~*~

Stella has this lovely habit of eating random things at night. Not completely random, I suppose. Said thing must be box-like, or tape-like, or string-like for her to be interested.

 

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I have no idea what you’re talking about. I’m shocked you would even think such a thing of me.
  • Licking boxes=fun!
  • Chewing tape=super fun!
  • Eating a long peice of string and freaking me out=the best!

I do not know. Why she does it. It’s not like we have tons of boxes lying around. But if she finds one and fancies she needs fed or fresh water…she will definitely let me know. This is one of her quirks. I still love her for it.

But I wish she wouldn’t do it at night. Ah well. Who needs sleep anyway? (Says the tired Mom, who dearly loves her sleep.)

I still love you Stella, in spite of your quirks 😊❤🐱

Happy Caturday!

~Rachel

Books

Book Review: The Courtship of Jo March

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Introduction

In October, I purchased the e-book anniversary edition of The Courtship of Jo March. It was written by Trix Wilkins and released in August of 2017. Before reading, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I don’t like it when my view of a classic is altered. However, I was looking forward to an alternate ending, one that myself and other readers craved.

In this post, I will share a summary, my initial thoughts, as well as my opinion of the major characters, plot and writing style.

You may encounter some spoilers. Fair warning! 🙂

Summary

From GoodReads:

“It’s the classic story of four sisters we’ve come to love, and yet we can’t help but wonder. Why did Jo refuse Laurie? What might Laurie have done on the European Grand Tour? What became of Jo’s writing, Amy’s art, Laurie’s music? Would a school have existed without Aunt March? And could Beth possibly have been saved?

This re-imagining of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women is for all who have ever wondered how things might have worked out differently for the beloved March sisters – the life Beth might have led, the books Jo might have written, the friends they might have made, and the courtship that might have been.”

First Thoughts & Background

First off, I loved the cover design on this anniversary edition. And as I started to read, I was impressed with how the book began and how well the characters almost seamlessly resemble their counterparts in Little Women

Characters (Spoilers)

The characters in this novel are very well done. They were consistent, with only a few exceptions. Trix has 100% done her research here and I was impressed.

Jo

Jo and especially Laurie had very consistent and detailed characters. I thought that Jo appeared softer and less brash, even than her adult self in Little Women.

The way Jo behaved in chapter 11 doesn’t sit well with me. Jo came off as very flirtatious, which is not consistent with the Jo I know. Maybe it was too sudden for me as well. The shift from “just friends” to something a little more seemed a bit over the top for me in the way it was expressed.

So Jo’s dress I am kind of in love with. At first I thought red was a scandalous choice, but recently researched it and found that a deep red color was highly fashionable in the 1870s. But was it entirely proper for Laurie to buy her a dress? All the same, I think it is highly romantic.

It made me smile, and think of the scene when Amy and Laurie are picking roses at Valrosa in Nice, France.

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Laurie

Laurie’s character was portrayed very well. I enjoyed seeing more of how he acted around Jo and away from her (and away from Amy as well). His motives, his speeches and everyday activities matched what I knew of him. I loved what Trix has done here to expand upon his character.

Beth

Beth’s story was beautifully done. Certain parts I wasn’t so sure about, but I did so enjoy her story.

Beth approaching Frank at the concert was not something I expected of Beth. That Beth went to the concert at all suprises me, but Beth could sometimes do surprising things. She possesses a quiet strength.

I still wondered at some of her decisions in the book. Beth was not physically a strong person and she was exceedingly shy. I wonder at the wisdom of her decision.

Would Beth have been so brave as to talk to Frank, alone, in a crowded concert? To accept his hand when Jo dissaproves and her family cautions?

Yet I do see that if Beth’s story changes, every one else’s would come apart.

Plot

As a whole, I thought that the story flowed together nicely. However, the sisters, I felt, were married too soon. Within the first few chapters, all but Jo have been married. It seemed almost too rushed and left me with questions about the husbands that weren’t answered until later.

A Favorite Chapter

There is a proposal in Chapter 6, after Laurie’s graduation, just as it is in the original.

I love the way the proposal scene happened. Much, much, so much better. It ended as I anticipated but the wording was much softer and much more satisfying. My heart didn’t feel ripped out of my chest.

Writing Style

I agree with other reviewers on GoodReads who said there was slightly more modernity here than there would have been in the 1870s. However, for me it wasn’t a deal breaker. I thought the particular instances added to the romance of the story.

On my kindle, the e-book was 243 pages long. Some of the chapters were a bit long, which made it a bit difficult for me to finish a chapter in one sitting.

Also of note is the Pride and Prejudice references tucked away in a few places, like pretty flowers hidden in the pages.

I am a huge Austen fan, as some of you probably know 🙂 🙂

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Conclusion

I really enjoyed reading this book and would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone. Regarding rating, I would give this book 4/5 stars.

I had mild problems with only a few parts of the book, such as portions of Jo and Beth’s stories and the longer chapters.

Overall I was impressed with the level of care and detail that is apparent in the way the characters are portrayed. There are many powerful, romantic and humorous moments which made this book an enjoyable read 🙂

~*~   ~*~   ~*~   ~*~   ~*~   ~*~   ~*~   ~*~

Visit Trix Wilkin’s blog here to read more about her, her book and view purchasing info for The Courtship of Jo March.

~Rachel

Blog Updates

Blogging Update #2 {goals for the winter}

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The best cure for writer’s block is to write through it. And so I shall try. Thus this blog post serves a dual purpose. Planning for the blog, and writing my way out of Stumpville.

 

Caturday

Later this month, I plan to post my November Caturday post, most likely featuring Stella.

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Books

1) Book Reviews

In the books category, I’ve found I really enjoy reviewing e-book(s) from bloggers I follow. I’ve written a review of Kate Singh’s e-book The Homemade Housewife so far and I can’t wait to add more reviews to the category.

If all goes well I should have another e-book review up next week. I’ll give you a hint: it may have something to do with Louisa May Alcott 😉

2) Celebrated Authors

A few of my favorite authors have birthdays later this month, so I plan to do at least a small post about them next week.

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Food

In the food category, which people seem to be loving lately (which is great!) I aim to make a new, slight change to my posts this winter.

I was looking at this blog, My No-Fuss Kitchen, which I thought was really cool, as she, the blogger, saves money on food by making stir fry dishes of leftover ingredients. Her dishes are also inspired in part by her Chinese Malaysian heritage. There were a lot of ingredients in her dishes that both intrigued and suprised me.

I’ve been looking at more ethnically diverse food dishes lately and really appreciating the variety and different flavors that these dishes all have.

So this winter I want to make it a goal of mine to make a variety of dishes that are more common in other cultures.

I’m excited to learn…how do people in other cultures save money on food? What ingredients are staples in other countries? What new flavors will I learn about? I’m looking forward to it.

Will you join me on the journey? I hope to post one new dish I’ve tried each month, starting in December (next month).

I will share a photo of the dish I make and make reference to the book or blog post where the recipe can be found.

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Other Categories

So *counts on fingers* Caturday, Books, Food, and of course there will be some posts in the Motherhood and Reflections category (those categories where I share deep thoughts and lessons learned).

Oh and maybe some sewing projects will make it to a post or two. Sewing is one winter indoor activity that I’m learning to love more these days.

And maybe some more Nature posts if we manage to brave the cooler air to explore outside. Can you see me tapping my fingers, waiting for my kids to get over their colds?

 

Until then,

~Rachel

 

Beverages, Food

Mama Chia {Copycat Recipe}

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Finally. I have finally concocted a cheaper version of the Raspberry Passion Mama Chia beverage my daughter and I love so much.

It was much easier than I expected it would be. I’m not sure why I kept putting it off.

I began by looking at the ingredients list.

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Already I had decided to use pomegranate juice. Odd that that isn’t one of the ingredients listed. Pomegranate juice to me tastes like a combination of juices…like a raspberry/grape/cranberry combo maybe?…so I was confident that this would work.

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Raw honey, soaked chia seeds, pomegranate juice and lime juice.

First I prepped the chia seeds. I took about 1 ¼ cups of dry seeds and poured them into a mason jar along with about 30 or so ounces of water.

I actually miscalculated the amount of water I would need initially. I filled my glass bottle (see pictures below) 3/4 full with chia seeds, then added water.

That is not the way to do it.

Chia seeds absorb a lot of water. Like 3 times as much as the actual seeds. 

So after that sat in the fridge for awhile I was ready to throw it all together.

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One teaspoon of honey was just right, once I figured out how to stir it up (stir with a metal skewer then shake vigorously).

A bit of lime juice added to the pomegranate juice added another element to the flavor that made it pitch-perfect, and just like the Mama Chia beverage I remembered.

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Rachel’s Copycat Mama Chia Recipe

Makes about 10oz (1 serving).

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup soaked chia seeds*
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1 teaspoon raw honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon lime juice

Directions:

  1. Combine ingredients in liquid measuring cup.
  2. Pour into desired container.

*To make about 25oz/3c. of soaked chia seeds, I put about 1 ¼ cups dry chia seeds into a quart (32oz) mason jar. I filled the jar with water, shook up the jar and let it sit in the fridge about 24 hours.

Cost:

For 10oz of this Mama Chia brand drink from Aldi, it was $2.29. My version was only $1.28 for the same amount.

Granted, my recipe doesn’t have the same exact ingredients. But the taste is very similar and still delicious.

Enjoy!

~Rachel

Books, Reflections

Little is Much

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Turkey day approaches. In some ways I’ve been mentally preparing myself for the rush of the holiday season.

Then at other times I just want to tuck into a good book and forget about things for an hour or so. One book out of 10 in my book stack is the Lark Rise to Candleford series, by Flora Thompson.

It is a book that follows the life of a young girl who lives in a tiny hamlet (or village) in England called Lark Rise. Her community is very poor but oddly very happy. It is set in the late 1800s, one of my favorite time periods. Early on in the book I came across one of those quotes that I read over and over.

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“People were poorer and had not the comforts, amusements, or knowledge we have to-day; but they were happier. Which seems to suggest that happiness depends more upon the state of mind-and body perhaps-than upon circumstances and events.”

from Lark Rise, chapter 3, by Flora Thompson

I finished the book a few days ago and it ended with a description of harvest days and feasts. The hard work and sweat and subsequent festivity and joviality.

The scene put me in mind of another feast day, of a story told long ago.

There was a kingdom where dwelled a wealthy King and his grown son, the Prince. The Prince was to be married, to have a wedding feast and the invitations were sent. But those invited responded with scorn and violence. And so the King, enraged, did away with the violent men.

“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find. So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.” (From Matthew 22:1-10)

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I’ve always pictured this as a beautiful scene. Full of warmth and cheer and happiness. Everybody is there. Young, old, rich, poor, outcasts, knights in shining armor. Everybody. All were there. All were invited in.

And its always put me a little in mind of Thanksgiving.

The goodness, the plenty, the laying aside of differences just to be together and be happy and grateful for the blessing of harvest, and most importantly for the blessing of family.

And at the banquet scene, who was most blessed? The King was The Giver of blessings. And I imagine those who felt least deserving were most blessed. For they had nothing to recommend them to attend the feast of a King. They had little. But little was much.

This story speaks of God’s gift of salvation and grace. It is a gift of much to one who has little. Once upon a time, as a young girl that person was me.

And as I’ve gone through life I’ve seen this beautiful pattern. The times I’ve had less have been the times I’ve had more. Less in the material world. Less comfort maybe. But more room for cheer and love in my heart.

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Life gets simple. And when life is simple, it forces you to look within.

Looking in to see what you value most when you have little.

A simpler life, a shorter budget, it is a gift. So enjoy it. Enjoy your life amidst the harships. The scrimping and saving. The wondering. Enjoy your family and friends, one of life’s purest and greatest gifts. May you be blessed. And well stuffed with stuffing!

A very Happy Thanksgiving to my readers here in the U.S. 🙂

~Rachel

Yes I know it’s early yet to be saying Happy Thanksgiving but if I don’t say it now I’m liable to forget! Mom brain 😛

Desserts, Food

Gluten-Free “Toffee” Apple Crisp (no refined sugar)

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This is the recipe that I’ve wanted to make for so long. I’ve said several times on the blog that I wanted to share an apple crisp recipe.

Yesterday I thought that I had totally blew it. I made a few alterations to my mama’s apple crisp recipe and wasn’t sure how it would turn out.

It definitely did not look like my mom’s version. And before I had even tasted it I thought, “Well..I can’t share this. It looks like a disaster. I’m not even sure it tastes good.”

So here I am, eating my words. My husband (who is my greatest cheerleader) was enamored with this apple crisp. He loved it. A lot. So because of his encouragement, I am sharing this with you today.

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I began with the usual ingredients. I forgot to include the almond flour (Bob’s Red Mill brand).

I chose to use coconut palm sugar and honey because of my current goal to avoid as much refined sugar as possible. It’s important to remember that sugar is still sugar. However, coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index, which I think makes it a better choice of sweetener. It won’t give you that jolt of energy and subsequent crash if used wisely.

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Mixed together the dry ingredients, along with the honey.
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The topping turned out to be rather on the wet side and a bit sticky.

The butter for the topping sat out for a bit, which I think is what made it sticky. I usually use cold butter, but you know..blog stuff. It turned out ok though 🙂

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Right before I popped it into the oven. Made it in the evening, so apologies for the bad lighting.

The original recipe said to bake the apple crisp for 30 minutes. Mine took a little bit longer, probably about 35 minutes.

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“Oh no it’s a flop!”

The apple crisp did a weird thing where it looked soupy but wasn’t. It ended up having a nice, moist topping with perfectly chewy portions (not hard or overdone but just right) that reminded me of toffee a bit.

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Quite the opposite, thankfully.

 

Gluten-Free “Toffee” Apple Crisp

Serves 4-6.

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 apples (granny smith preferred), peeled, cored and roughly chopped.
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup quick oats**
  • 1/3 cup+2 Tablespoons+2 teaspoons coconut palm sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons+2 teaspoons raw honey
  • 1/3 cup cold butter
  • 1 teaspoon+1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, divided

**If you are gluten intolerant you probably already know to buy gluten-free oats. If you are cooking for guests this is important. Somehow I had 3 containers of the regular kind, so I used what I had since I can still tolerate gluten.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 395°.
  2. Place apples in a 9×9″ baking pan. Add 1 teaspoon cinnamon (or more if desired) and toss.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix flour, oats, coconut sugar, honey and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Cut butter into small pieces and work it into the dry ingredients by hand. This topping may be a bit sticky.
  4. Add topping to apples in globs and lightly press together.
  5. Bake about 30 minutes, or until well browned.

Cost:

This recipe cost me $4.30. Not bad but not really great. Almond flour is expensive!

But if you break it down, it is only $1.08 if divided into 4 servings and 72¢ if divided into 6 servings.

But it’s so good that it probably won’t make it that far. My advice is to 100% double it if you are cooking for 3+ people.

Enjoy!

~Rachel

Beverages, Food, Reflections

Roasted Dandelion Root Tea {First Impressions}

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The foraging adventures continue! I wanted to harvest some dandelion roots this fall with the intention of making roasted dandelion root tea.

It sounded interesting. And every single source said the health benefits of the plant were numerous.

According to learningherbs, dandelion roots are good for liver health. And because the liver affects many other parts of the body, dandelion root helps with a lot of different things. (The recipe I used can be found through the above links as well.)

As livestrong mentions, dandelion root has a lot of potassium and “It also contains high levels of iron, boron, calcium, silicon [and] vitamin C.”

Super-healthy? Sign me up. I can get it for free from my own yard? I’m on it.

And so I grabbed my shovel and I wandered about outside looking for some good-sized dandelion roots. The kids were mostly good enough not to wander too far from sight 🙂

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Here are some of the largest roots from some of the biggest plants. I harvested about 7 or so roots total.
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After scrubbing, chopping and air drying the roots completely they were ready to roast.
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The finished product. I sorted the pieces and discarded the blackened ones. I had exactly 2 Tablespoons the recipe called for.
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Here you can see the difference in color.
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After simmering the dandelion root for about 20 minutes I had a very dark tea, similar in shade to coffee and somewhat similar smelling.
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I blended the liquid with about a Tablespoon butter as directed.

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And then I took a sip. I immediately made a face. It was very bitter. As I expected. Somewhat like coffee but not as…warm? Flavorful?

I had to add things to it to make it drinkable. First, a bit of vanilla, cinnamon and honey.

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It was still too bitter. More honey and a lot of unsweetened vanilla almond milk were added. And then I ended up adding a spoonful of coconut palm sugar before I was happy with the taste.

I’m trying my best to avoid refined sugar. It’s been hit-and-miss so far. But this time…victory 🎉

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Afterwards…heavy on the sweeteners and milk.

Oh my it was so bitter. But tasted rather good in the end.

I couldn’t help but think about bitterness as an emotion, as opposed to a taste.

I remember my son when he tasted cocoa powder for the first time. It smelled like the chocolate he loved but left a bad taste in his mouth.

“Grace given when it feels least deserved is the only antidote for bitter rot.”

from Uninvited, chapter 7, by Lysa TerKeurst.

But tempered with sweetness and mixed into the cookies he loved, the bitterness was transformed. It was the same for the tea. Bitterness transformed was a pleasant thing instead of a thing almost poisonous to swallow.

As I battle bitterness threatening to overwhelm me, this lesson hit quite close to home. I’m grateful for the lesson so gently revealed.

And I enjoyed my cup of tea 🙂

Any coffee drinkers out there? Have you ever tried roasted dandelion root tea? If so, what was your impression?

~Rachel

Motherhood

Havoc in My World, Peace in My Heart

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If I was a superhero, I’m pretty sure my name would be Mother Mahem. Oh wait…yeah that’s my reality already.

I’ve been feeling the pull to write about this for a week or so. People seem to like the moments of vulnerability and honesty that comes with sharing the everyday moments and struggles of motherhood.

I’ve got one for you. Actually I’ve got several. Ok I actually have way more but I can’t remember them all, and maybe that’s a good thing.

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Do you ever have a moment, a day when your kid does something and it just breaks your heart? Sometimes these things just happen and I’m like “Why?? Why me? Why this?” And I’m mad and sad all in one.

This happened to me one morning. And I get it. Out of all the things that are going on in the world, this is small. But small things can seem big at the time.

I woke up to discover a mess. It was partly my fault for accidentally leaving my sewing things out. They were all in my sewing bag but not put away. An obvious temptation. Especially tempting, apparently, were my sewing scissors.

And so a certain someone took the liberty of refashioning a few things about the house.

My daughter’s quilt (in progress project) I was able to fix. Thank goodness.

However, this

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One of the “doors” to our t.v. stand.

This was done for. As you can see, it looked a bit trashy. So instead of wallowing in despair (tempting) I decided to fix it.

I had some fabric scraps that matched just right. So I cut, sewed and ironed, pinned and sewed some more.

 

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I used a modified blanket stitch to attach the fabric.
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Finished product. Now for the fun of re-attaching the door!

And how did I manage to complete this with two little munchkins running around? I sat them down with a mountain of playdough.

They “played”, a word here which is loosely correlated to playing and tightly correlated to throwing it all over the floor. But hey, I finished my project 🙂

That’s what motherhood is all about. We take the messes, the difficult things along with all things bright and beautiful. We get through it. With our sanity intact? Doubtful. But maybe just maybe as we learn to let things go and repair what we can we can restore a measure of it unto our hearts 🙂

A toast. To motherhood. May your moments of mayhem be short and give way to deep breaths of peace.

God bless.

~Rachel

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Uncategorized

Before You Shop…{12 ways to save on groceries}

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There was a time in our not-so-distant past when our family had a very limited grocery budget. Each and every penny was dear.

I knew, just knew there were resources out there to help me. I knew that I wasn’t the only one. So I dug through the internet, and all the cookbooks and e-books that I could get my hands on so I could find some frugal solutions to bolster my courage and expand my knowledge of the art that is grocery shopping.

And what was most important to me? I wanted to be as frugal, but as healthy with my choices as possible.

I wanted to pass on some of the things that I learned for anyone who is where I was. I still practice a lot of these things, though our grocery budget is slightly larger than it was in previous years.

Plan

1. These items are at the core of any frugal meal.

  • beans
  • rice
  • canned tomatoes of all kinds
  • chicken
  • eggs
  • noodles
  • potatoes
  • onions
  • garlic
  • herbs & spices
  • frozen veggies

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2. Shop the sales and build meals from sale items. This goes hand and hand with meal planning.

3. Meal plan. I use this printable from Just a Girl and Her Blog. It’s got a newer design but it’s the same one I use. I write the sales items from local grocery stores on the back, as well as meal ideas. Then the names and dates of the meals go on the front of the shopping list.

I think of it as a game. I use a sale ingredient, good. I use it twice or even 3x or more, very good. See how many ways you can stretch the same ingredient. 

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Example: celery. I use it in chicken noodle soup, then I use it to make casserole spaghetti. I dice up the rest and freeze it for when I make chicken or beef bone broth.

4. How much do you need?

Believe it or not, when I was newly married I thought I had to follow a recipe exactly and I often made way too much food. Nowdays I will cut a recipe in half or even in fourths to suit my family.

I know about how much meat we will eat (1/2lb-slightly over 1lb, depending on recipe) and what size of pot, pan or baking dish I will need. When you know what everyone will eat, second helpings and all, you can plan better and save money.

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What Is In Season?

1. Fruits and vegetables that are often cheap and available (but not always locally in season) year-round:

  • garlic
  • onions
  • broccoli
  • carrots
  • potatoes
  • bell peppers
  • celery
  • sweet potatoes
  • bananas
  • grapes
  • apples

2. Here are some (typically) cheap, in season foods for October and November:

  • apples
  • pears
  • cranberries
  • grapes
  • kiwis
  • pomegranates
  • some citrus fruits
  • beets
  • cabbage
  • cauliflower
  • eggplant
  • kale
  • mushrooms
  • pumpkins
  • rutabagas
  • spinach
  • squash
  • turnips

It is good to pay attention to The Clean 15 and The Dirty Dozen. But don’t get hung up on it. If you can afford organic, awesome! If not, remember you are still caring for your family by buying them good and fresh produce. Eat as well as you can afford and don’t worry about the rest.

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Shop

1. Shop the perimeter of the store.

It is typical for produce, meat and dairy products to be on the outskirts of the grocery store. This is a common tip, but still worth mentioning 🙂

2. Buy (selectively) in bulk. 

When you see something on sale that your family loves, buy as much as you can.

Example: when our favorite bread goes on sale for BOGO, (Buy One Get One free) we buy 4, sometimes 6 if our freezer space allows.

Staples of course are good to buy in bulk. My family is small and my children have tiny appetites so much of what we buy in bulk is shelf stable. Honestly lately I have not bought much in bulk.

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3. Buy and preserve favorite fresh foods.

When a fruit or veggie is in season and your family loves it, see if you can buy a very large amount and preserve it in a way that they would most enjoy.

Freezing, canning and drying are all options. This often works best if you buy as close to the source as you can. This way you can maximize your savings and get the freshest and best produce. I’ve done this with apples, plums and corn this year.

4. Know when to spend.

I know. That’s not frugal. Well no it’s not. But knowing when to spend and when to save can save your sanity, which in my opinion is priceless.

Know when to cut yourself some slack and buy convenience foods or non-sale pricier items. For me, when I was pregnant and when my daughter was a baby I let a lot of things slide. My tastes, cravings and energy all varied by day and my goal was simply to stay healthy and get out of the store as quickly as I could.

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At Home

1. Explore MYO.

I learned early on from reading frugal cook books that one of the easiest ways to save money is to make your own convenience food. That may sound backwards but let me explain.

By making your own mixes, snacks and baked goods you have created a special stash of healthy or at least home cooked food for your family. Is it convenient in the sense that it saves you time? Well, not always. But consider the amount of time you spend going to the store and shopping. Is it faster to make some cookies or to buy them?

I maintain a balance of store bought things vs. homemade. Sometimes I make my own, sometimes I buy it.

Generally I make all my own spice mixes…taco seasoning, chili powder, pumpkin spice, etc. I do make my own granola bars because it’s cheaper, healthier and fresher that way.

2. Reduce waste.

There is this awesome blog Don’t Waste the Crumbs that got me started on this. It is amazing the amount of food I waste. It is an almost continual process to brainstorm ways to save as much as I can and make sure it is all used.

Example: save vegetable scraps for bone broth.

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And that’s a lot of what I’ve learned!

It takes practice, but it can be done. Being frugal can be a challenge, but it can also be fun if you look at it as a game 🙂

~Rachel


 

A few resources:

Grocery shopping list printable from A Girl and Her Blog

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Complete Mix Recipe Index from Budget 101

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12 Simple Ways to Avoid Food Waste from Don’t Waste the Crumbs

Caturday

A Small Furry Usurper Attempts to Overthrow King Shadow Kitty

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Caturday has returned! Last week I didn’t do a post for a number of reasons. Mostly because 1) I was tired of it and 2) the stories were getting super boring…which is why I was tired of it.

So I’ve decided to do a Caturday post I hope at least once a month. Provided I can come up with interesting stories. Because let’s face it, it’s not the cats faults that they are sometimes (ok a lot of the time) boring. They are cats. Cats like routine.

However…

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Found this guy/girl (lets just settle for the male gender for clarity) in the backyard trying to sneak some cat food. Mostly just annoyed Shadow. Because lets face it pal, my cat can take you 😜 He had a brief spat with Shadow and then lurked around.

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Watching. Waiting.

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I was able to get gradually closer, hoping I would be able to pet him. But no luck. He was more interested in Shadow’s food. Sorry kitty it’s food for one, sadly I can’t feed the whole neighborhood.

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Yes I see you!

After this picture was taken, he decided to run into the cornfield and I didn’t see him again.

But right after that another cat approached from the opposite direction. I saw him from inside and chased him off. Seriously! Scram! Haha. I do love cats but there are a lot of cats around these here parts (haha) and I’m totally not feeding them all or the husband would put his foot down. And we’d have to eat rice and beans. And the kids would not have that. Because I cannot get them to like either.

What kind of frugal mom am I anyway? The kind who keeps away stray cats, bar one so her kids and husband aren’t forced to eat unsavory food I suppose.

What about you? Any issues with small furry usurpers? How do you keep them away?

~Rachel

 

Food, Main Meal

Super Yummy Spicy Mexican Lasagna

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The first chilly days of fall have arrived! A few days ago I was really in the mood for something spicy. Maybe it was the chill of fall. Maybe it was the change of seasons that prompt my tastebuds to say, “We crave something different!”. Whatever it was, I came across this recipe from allrecipes.com for Mexican Quesadilla Casserole. It looked good but I didn’t have corn tortillas. Or some of the other ingredients.

So I improvised this and that and decided to make it a Mexican lasagna instead.

It turned out wonderful. Like pitch-perfect, 100% awesome flavor yet still easy to make perfect. And my husband loved it. So it was a must for me to share 🙂

I do not have a lot of pictures of this one. I’ll just be real…it isn’t always easy to get a picture of my food creations. I’m hungry, my family is hungry. Time is limited. Kid raising takes a lot of energy! But I am learning, I promise. And busier women than I have done more and made it work. I will keep at it.

Anyways. Enough about my blogging aspirations. Sometimes I just have to get real with ya’ll. Sometimes it feels like my blog is a stage. And I’m the performer, manager and back stage crew all combined! Any one else feel that way too?

Haha well anyways here’s the recipe!


 

Super Yummy Spicy Mexican Lasagna

*Servings: 9+

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb grassfed ground beef
  • 1 onion, diced
  • (2) 8oz cans tomato sauce
  • (1) 15.5oz can organic black beans, drained and rinsed
  • (1) 10oz can diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 1 cup frozen sweet corn (GMO-free, if possible)
  • **2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 9 whole wheat lasagna noodles
  • 8oz shredded cheddar cheese

*This recipe can easily make a 9×9″ pan of lasagna. But there will be leftover filling. It could also be made as a 9×13″ pan, if you stretch it a bit, or as (2) 9×9″ pans (one could be frozen for later!)

**I make my own chili powder and this is the recipe I use.

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a 9×9 pan with cooking spray or lightly grease with oil.

2. Put a large pot of water on to boil. Add noodles and cook till al dente.

3. Mix the next 9 ingredients together in a medium sized pot. (All but the noodles and cheese.)

4. Cook beef and onion in a large skillet till beef is barely cooked through. Deglaze pan with 1/2 cup water, scraping the pan to remove any browned bits.

5. Add beef to the tomato mixture, stir and simmer for 5 or so minutes to combine flavors.

6. Layer the lasagna. Beef mixture, noodles, cheese. More noodles, beef mixture cheese and repeat, if desired. I stopped at 2 layers.

7. Bake at 400 for about 30 minutes, or until bubbly and cheese has melted.

Cost:

Pricing this recipe proved a bit tricky as I wasn’t sure of the price of certain items. But I can say for sure that this entire recipe makes at least 12 servings for $12 or less.

I used frozen sweet corn that I blanched and froze myself, which turned out to be 46¢ a cup. I also bought a block of cheddar cheese and grated it myself which cut the cost a bit as well.

~Rachel

Awards and Tags

The Fall Tag

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Many thanks to Maggie, of the blog Dreaming of Guatemala for creating this Fall Tag. What a neat idea! Kinda like spreading Christmas cheer, but with fall. I love it. I have been tagged by T.R. Noble, of the blog Peaking Beneath 🙂 Thanks T.R.!

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Rules:

1. Put the tag badge and rules in your post.

2. Answer the 10 fall-related questions.

3. Tag at least 5 other bloggers to join in the fun!

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1. What’s your favorite fall outfit?

Skinny jeans, probably with an orange shirt and my favorite long purple cardigan. I am decidedly not fashion minded, more comfort loving. I do love wearing fall colors and cozy scarves though.

2. What is the fall weather like where you live?

I live in the midwestern area of the USA. Typically fall weather begins a bit earlier than it has this year. For October, it has been uncharacteristically hot..reaching into the upper 80s earlier in the month. We are in deep fall now though. The temperature has dropped and soon I gather it will become wet and ick. But for now, we enjoy our crisp and picturesque fall. Short as it may be.

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A few years ago we went to The Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Vermont. We got to see the cider being made & it was sooo good!

3. Your favorite drink to have in the fall?

I am a mulled apple cider girl. I love it. And it must be hot! So many memories I have tied to this special drink.

4. Does your family have any fall traditions? If so, what are they?

We enjoy doing a few things. We have fall snacks and typically carve a pumpkin. I save and dry the seeds. We rake leaves and let the kids play in them. Last year I took the kids out to a farm where they got to play in a giant swimming pool full of corn, which they loved. My daughter was a baby and wanted to eat it. My son never wanted to leave. We all had a lot of fun. Sometimes we go to a festival or two as a family. Music, vendors, food. All that good stuff.

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5. What are some activities and events you enjoy going to in the fall months?

Haha so I guess I went on a tangent in the answer to question #4. (See above.)

6. What’s your favorite fall scented candle? 

Oh my so I got these wax melts from Aldi that are pumpkin brulee scented and they. smell. so. divine.

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I don’t use candles much bc I’m afraid I’ll forget about them. (I’m slightly paranoid, ok?) So wax warmers are my thing. I’m dying to try this one but my lightbulb gave out on my wax warmer. So I need to buy another. I think that’s the problem anyway.

7. Tell us about one of your favorite fall memories?

One of my very best memories I have is of my brothers and I raking leaves and jumping in them. I loved that. We all worked together. Giggling. Having fun. Mom would take our picture. It was a fun time.

8. What are some fall movies you enjoy watching?

I guess I don’t particularly have any. Although we used to always watch The Christmas Story (with the Red Rider bb gun and the leg lamp) on Thanksgiving.

9. What’s your favorite fall treat?

I love apple dumplings. I don’t eat them often. Typically only once or twice a year. And that’s what makes them special 🙂 They are so good with that warm cinnamon sauce!

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10. If you celebrate Halloween, what is the best outfit you’ve worn?

Oh boy I haven’t gone trick-or-treating or worn a Halloween costume in a long time. I can’t remember many of my costumes, or how many years my family did trick-or-treating. I remember one year my Grandma made me a Jasmine costume because I was a hardcore Aladdin fan. That was special and so thoughtful of her. I appreciate it much more now than I did then.

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My tags:

I’ve decided to leave the tags open! It’s a bit tricky to decide who might want to participate. So if you want to and have not been tagged yet, go ahead! It’s a lot of fun 🙂

Happy Fall!

~Rachel

Uncategorized

healing instinct

I loved reading this post by bam, of the blog pull up a chair. I found her blog after reading her book Motherprayer: Lessons in Loving. Her thoughts on the troubling current events in the US and the world as a whole resonate with me deeply. It’s hard to make head or tail of the difficult things in this world. The world can seem dark, but it doesn’t have to be. There is goodness, and it begins with us. Take a look at her post 🙂

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healing instinct the steam tent: steaming hot water + peppermint essential oil + not-so-raggedy towel = deep breathe

if you listen to the news, and i do, if you read the news, and i do, it is hard not feel this old globe is a raw wound right now, gashed with despair, pocked with pure evil.

i am haunted, especially, by a story i read of the atrocities that rained down on rohingya women and mothers and children. babies ripped from their mothers’ arms. babies tossed into infernos. worse and worse and worse. i can barely stand to spread the poison. (it’s here, from yesterday’s new york times, written by jeffrey gettleman, a kid from the town next door, who grew up to win the pulitzer prize for international reporting.)

i am haunted too by the ghostly images coming from northern california. charred silhouettes. hillsides exposed, stubbled with blackened bits…

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