niece or nephew?

This weekend we made another trek to Chicago for family time. Despite whiteout conditions along the shore and being stuck behind a terrible accident, we made it home safely. Pregnant sister and I just don’t have good luck with winter driving.

(Almost) our whole family was home this weekend, discussing family and the future full of new life and babies! After a four-year hiatus on babies, we welcomed little Juniper last June, and in just a few weeks we will welcome a new little niece or nephew. In November I got to throw my sister a shower, and now we’re just counting down days! My dear sister has been a rockstar as a pregnant mama, and I simply cannot wait to see her with this little pumpkin in her arms. I also cannot wait to get my hands on this little one, especially to dress him or her up!

For another shower this weekend, I made the baby a few options. For a boy (my guess!) I made a sweet little bow tie, and for a boy I made a great flower headband. I put the tutorials I used below. They’re both quite easy and perfect for any little ones!

Baby Bow Ties

This tutorial was pretty easy to follow. My only complaint is that I couldn’t figure out how to make the back more flat, which would have made a clasp easier to attach. I will continue messing with a few more bow ties to see if I can figure it out.
The clasp that I used was actually a clip-on earring backing. I bought the largest one I could find, and I think it will work out just fine! Just need to have a nephew to pin it on and see for sure! 🙂

http://www.kateanfinson.com/2013/03/22/tutorial-diy-no-sew-baby-bow-ties/

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Flower Headband
I can’t get enough of baby girls with big flower headbands on their heads. If this little baby turns out to be a girl, you better believe I will be putting plenty of these on her head!
I stood in the aisle at JoAnn fabrics for about 10 minutes, touching every spool of lace to see if it was stretchy. This is the one I found. There must be more, but this was about the thickness I wanted and a good amount of stretch.
I used the flower tutorial below to make a sufficiently big, fluffy, but soft flower for the headband. The bigger the flower, the better – in my opinion! I’m pretty excited about how it turned out. And I’m prepared to make more should baby be a girl.

http://emilys-little-world.blogspot.com/2011/02/how-to-make-t-shirt-fabric-flower.html

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diy deodorant.

My coworkers looked at me with questioning looks.
My husband said I was officially getting weird.
I didn’t break a sweat!

As I explained to my coworkers, I’ve been trying to look at the beauty products that are a part of my routine and attempting to remove as many chemicals from them as possible. I made an eye cream that has actually become my nightly makeup remover (instead of those oily chemicals!). I’ve tried a few different facial scrubs, still working to find one that I like the best. And then I decided that I wanted to make my own deodorant.

Why deodorant? Well, I have always been pretty sweaty, and it is not easy to find a deodorant that keeps that under control. Also, I hate (hate, hate, hate) that when I’ve worn a shirt for the day, and I’ve done my very best to not spill on it, the underarms smell like day-old deodorant. And that’s gross. And, most importantly, chemicals. The main ingredient in deodorants is an aluminum-based compound. While there are not any conclusive studies linking deodorants with cancer, the idea of aluminum being absorbed in an area where there are so many lymph nodes simply makes me nervous. I have no science behind that – only my deductive reasoning, which is not saying a lot. 🙂 But, for what it’s worth …

For my own peace of mind, I’ve made the switch. I found quite a few “recipes,” and put together this one. Baking soda is the main ingredient. Baking soda is a wonderful moisture absorber, and it also neutralizes odor! It balances out pH, so any time is comes into contact with anything too acidic or too alkaline, its natural effect is to balance it. So beyond using it as a deodorant, there a TON of other uses (freshen your mouth, clean makeup brushes, washing dishes, cleaning coffee pots, cleaning surfaces, and on and on!).

In addition to baking soda, I used coconut oil and a few essential oils. Most people know that I love my essential oils! Most are antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and can be used in so many ways! I use melaleuca (tea tree oil) daily on my skin to keep it clear. I use lavender regularly as a stress-reducer and an anti-inflammatory for my skin. And I use frankincense when I want to brighten my skin or as a mood balancer! When I know I’m going to have a busy or stressful day, I’ll put a drop on the back of my neck in the morning and have a sense of peace all day. It is also anti-cancer (there are some crazy stories), so I definitely included it in my deodorant.

I’ve used this deodorant for a week now, and I LOVE it. I have been completely dry, odor-free (if I smell like anything, it’s essential oils), and my shirts don’t have that terrible smell at the end of the day! It is definitely a little bit chalkier than regular deodorant (if you want, add a little more coconut oil or a little water), but for the most part, it is very comparable to any other deodorant!

DIY Deodorant

1/2 cup baking soda (if you have sensitive skin, try using 1/4 cup baking soda and 1/4 arrowroot)
5-6 T coconut oil, melted
10 drops lavender oil
10 drops melaleuca oil
5 drops frankincense oil

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Mix the baking soda and coconut oil together in a bowl. Mix in enough coconut oil until the mixture has a doughy texture, like this.

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Add in your essential oils. Mix well. Then spoon into an old deodorant container.

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(Shh… it’s not Secret :))

Enjoy!

routine and resolutions.

After the longest Christmas break ever, we got finally got back to school with little chaos! Despite being quite confused about what day of the week it was or what I usually do during 4th hour on Fridays (it took me 20 minutes to figure that out), I think students, teachers, and definitely parents were all ready to be back. We all need routine to some degree, and I thrive on a schedule. So as much as I love PJs until 11am, I think most of the time I prefer my 6am alarm and the day that follows.

While routine is usually where I am most comfortable, I eventually find myself annoyed by the mundane. The day-to-day, the commonplace, the norm … they wear on me. I find it hard to seek the Lord in the day-to-day. I lose focus of the important in the midst of the commonplace. The norm becomes a life of going through the motions but not really living. But it is in all of these seemingly unimportant and mundane moments where we are supposed to be walking where the Lord leads, going where He calls. The moments of great rejoicing or the moments of deep sorrow are wonderful in that they call us to the Lord in a hurry. But they are not the norm. And we are to walk with Him not only in the thanksgiving and desperation, but also in the beauty of the routine.

People near to me know that I love resolutions. I don’t really know why. I think because I love fresh starts. I love that the Lord’s mercies are new every morning, but those mercies feel “extra new” at the start of a new year, a new season, a new beginning. And while it is a cliché to set some big resolution, which usually ends up  lasting three weeks (a whole month if you’re really dedicated), who’s to say that those few weeks weren’t worth anything? At least there is effort.

Well, I try to set resolutions that will be lasting. I like to think I do a pretty good job – last year my resolution got me through September, and the year before I went the whole year.

My resolution for this year … memorize a passage of scripture every week. That is 52 passages. Some may be a few verses. I have a few chapters I’d like to memorize. And pastor-husband listed a bunch of Psalms I should memorize as well. My hope and prayer is that as I work to write the Word of the Lord on my heart, I will be able to hear His voice more readily in the routine. I want to truth to break in to my everyday, so that my commonplace is transformed into a life full of joy.

Since we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in the time of need. -Hebrews 4:14-16

For a tasty, routine meal that I put together often, here is my chopped salad. I think we “overdid” it a bit this summer, so it took a little break. But I made it again today and realized that this is one routine meal that I always enjoy. It is healthy and versatile and easy to tweak to cater to your own tastes.

Chopped Salad
1 head of romaine, chopped
1/2 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 can corn (use fresh in the summer!)
1 can artichoke hearts, chopped
1/4 cup feta cheese
Dressing of choice (see below)

Throw everything into one huge bowl. Top with dressing. Mix really well.

Options to add: cherry tomatoes, avocado, various beans, zucchini, anything else you like!

Dressing (this is a simple dressing I use the majority of the time)
approx. 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
approx. 1/4 olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

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Enjoy!

bourbon ice cream.

Christmas break should be over, but turns out, it’s not! We are holed up at home, with -20 temperatures outside and snow mounds up to our waists. It’s quite the scene! But I don’t think anyone is complaining about 3 extra days of Christmas break (1 ice day on the front end and now 2 snow/cold days on the back end).

The week of Christmas was beautiful. It was full of rest, Christmas cheer, and beautiful winter trees. My parents drove up from Chicago to spend the week with my sister and I. We spent two days at our house and two days at sister’s, playing a lot of Mexican train, going on winter walks, and watching Christmas movies. I also got to host Christmas dinner, with the help of my mom and sister, of course. But, any excuse to use my wedding china is good for me!

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Seriously, look at those trees!

The following week we made the drive out to Iowa to be with Bryan’s family. We were home in October, but only for a quick weekend, so this was the first real trip home since last February. It was just what we needed. A total break from life (for Bryan, that is … my life of Christmas break wasn’t too tough :)) and a lot of time with our family. We spent most of our time in small-town Sully … which I love! It is a short 6-block drive to Grandma’s, a few miles to the next town where there is a cute antique store, and we run into all sorts of family at the local watering hole – the gas station. I don’t know if I could ever live in a town of 800 people, but I certainly love to spend my vacation time there. We experienced downtown Des Moines for a night with our siblings, which was lovely. It reminds me a lot of Grand Rapids – great breweries and food joints, a lot to do, but not overwhelmingly busy.

Break has been so restful and relaxing. I am having a hard time reminding myself that this is not real life (yes, teachers are the worst). But I am truly looking forward to getting back to school. I miss the students and my co-workers. We are a real family and have so much fun together. The students we work with never cease to put a smile on my face, and my co-workers are the craziest, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything!

Bourbon Ice Cream
This treat was part of our Christmas dessert (with some pumpkin-chiffon pie, made special for my Dada). It has been a go-to since this summer. We visited friends in Sacramento and our lovely hostess made this one night. I don’t remember where she got it from, but I nabbed this easy recipe and have made it countless times since. Seriously, it’s the best.

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Pour 2 cups of whipping cream in your mixer. Set your mixer on high and let it run for about 5 minutes.

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While your mixer is running, combine a can of sweetened condensed milk with 2 T of vanilla and 2 T of bourbon.

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After about 5 minutes (maybe a tad longer), your cream should be fully whipped. It should form soft peaks – that is, when you lift the whisk out, little peaks should form, but it is OK if they fall over.

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Combine your whipped cream with your milk mixture. Pour into a bread pan. Put the bread pan in the freezer, and you’re good to go! I always do this the day before so that it sits overnight, but I would think 8 hours would be long enough for the cream to harden.

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Ingredients
2 cups whipping cream
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 T vanilla
2 T bourbon (optional)

Whip the whipping cream in a mixer until soft peaks form.
Combine the rest of the ingredients in a medium bowl.
Combine the whipped cream with other ingredients.
Pour into a bread pan and freeze for 8 hours or overnight.
Enjoy!

*Since this is such a simple recipe, it is great for with any other dessert! But I also think you could get really creative with your flavors here. Experiment a little!
*I found that once I’ve dug in to this ice cream, it is only good for a few days longer. It gets a freezer burn that is more like really sticky/frozen sweetened condensed milk. It’s not awful … but it’s not good. I guess I didn’t wrap it up after re-freezing, though. That might help. Try wrapping and get back to me! 🙂