Sharing the Love

Anika has always been this blog’s biggest fan. She could spend hours and hours going back over all the pictures, and reading the funny things Kaylia used to say when she was learning how to talk. She skips the “boring” posts (anything written while I’m feeling deep and spiritual), and usually sticks to the pictures. But the other day, she told me it had been too long since I’d written a post about what we’re loving around here right now.

This fall has been good to us – we’ve discovered a whole list of new things to love, so I’m delighted to share them with you today!

Chocolate Hummus

Cheap, fast, easy, and very intensely chocolatey. There, that should be enough to get you pulling out your food processor already. The recipe can be found here, and you’ll have your loved ones happily eating beans. Yes, this is related to black bean brownies, so I understand that it’s a love/hate kind of thing. Fortunately, my family loves it, and the girls are picky when it comes to beans, so this surprises me. There’s also a recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Hummus on the same site, but we haven’t had time to try it yet, because everyone is so obsessed with the chocolate.

Chocolate Hummus

The Martian

I rarely watch movies anymore, because we prefer to watch a quick show instead, but Ben and I did watch “The Martian” a couple of months ago, and I’ve been wanting to see it again ever since! I loved it, and I didn’t think I would. Usually, I don’t like space movies, but Ben was very sure I would like this one, it’s on Netflix, and the trailer looked promising, so I decided to give it a shot.

It was so good!! Matt Damon stars in it, and it’s a story about an astronaut who is left behind on a mission to Mars. He has to find some way to survive until the next space ship lands on Mars – in four years. Here’s the trailer:

Swiffer Cordless Vacuum

A few years ago, a friend told me to go buy myself a small vacuum to use instead of a broom. It sounded like a good idea, but I just never got around to it, because it didn’t feel like a pressing need.

Oh, my word. If you have hardwood floors, this actually IS a pressing need! We bought it a couple of months ago, and have used it often. It is much faster than sweeping, and I love not having any cord to worry about. It’s so much fun to use, the girls like to vacuum now, and chase Everett around the house with it while he squeals with delight-verging-on-terror. He also loves to be the one controlling the vacuum, and I’m happy he has something to entertain him! If he actually happens to pick up any garbage, even better! Win/win.

Everett vacuuming

Francis Chan’s Bible App

This is an app to use if you want to read through the Bible in a year, and you’d like a better understanding of the background of each book of the Bible. There’s a really cool video at the beginning of a new chapter that breaks down the theme and background of the book. The artwork is fantastic, and it helps explain things very well. I started using this a few weeks ago, and I’m really enjoying it. Plus, I’m a check mark girl, so I like being able to mark it off when I’ve finished my reading. The drawback is that I tend to get into a “finish the reading for the day!” mindset, rather than a “meditate on Scripture” focus, so I’m trying to take time for both.

Francis Chan app


Last spring, one of my trusted alternative health people told me about this new gut health product called “Restore”, and it only took a couple of weeks of trying it to start noticing it’s benefits. We felt like it gave us a lot of energy, Ben said he didn’t get his mid-afternoon sleepiness, and the girls were able to eat gluten again for the first time six years.

But during the summer, I made a mistake with ordering options, and we ran out of Restore. After a few weeks without it, I felt exhausted, I had issues sleeping, we felt like our digestion was sluggish, the girls went back to getting sick from eating gluten, and we just felt all-around a bit yucky.

We were pretty excited when a new bottle arrived! It took a few weeks to get back to our “new normal”, but we seem to be back on track now!

Besides the fact that it makes us feel great, here are the other things I love about it:

  • No multi-level marketing
  • Not a bad price, compared to some of the other popular products out there. A bottle will last one person for three months, but our family of five goes through one bottle in a month, which costs $109.
  • it seals all the gaps in the intestines within 20 minutes of taking it, and lasts for five hours
  • It restores healthy bacteria in the gut, so it’s recommended not to take probiotics while on Restore. The best probiotics have five to seven strains of good bacteria, but we’re supposed to have 30,000 strains. Restore balances the body, and brings back a much higher variety of bacteria than a bottle of probiotics.
  • the science behind it is available on the website, including pictures of what cells look like before and after using Restore

Here’s a quick video if you want to hear more about it, and it can be ordered here, if you feel like giving it a try! No strings attached.;)


And finally, my recent favorite book:

Secrets of the Secret Place

This book is changing my devotions. It’s inspiring, practical, and really beautiful – like this gentle invitation to get away with Jesus on a daily basis. I love practical suggestions for how to bring about change, and this book is full of them. I’m about halfway through, so I’m sure I’ll have more to say once I’ve finished it! I’ve copied out many quotes, but here’s one of my recent favorites:

“The longer you’re in God’s presence, soaking in His word and basking in His love, the more power you’re ingesting into the very fiber of your being. The only way we change is when we come close to the Lord. His presence is the place of change.”


Well, that’s a super random list of favorites! Let me know if you happen to give anything a try! Share the love.



Life With Kaylia

We celebrated a birthday this weekend, so it’s time for a birthday post!


Kaylia turned six, and this morning when I climbed up into her bunk bed, we had the following conversation:

Me: How do you like being six so far?

Kaylia: I like it, but I’m more stressed than when I was five.

Me: Really, why is that?

Kaylia: ‘Cause, like, I get more angry now.

Hopefully, she’ll be able to work out these new anger issues, but in the meantime, here’s a bit of what she’s loving right now:

Food: chocolate chip pancakes, Popcorn Twists, watermelon, carrots, fried potatoes, Honey Cloud Pancake

Clothes: fancy clothes

Books:  Stolen Magic and anything else by Gail Carson Levine, Little House on the Prairie books, the Pixie Hollow series, and anything to do with Disney princesses

Toys: The new princess set that she got for her birthday, Lego

Favorite Things to Do: Rainbow Loom, playing with her friends Cadence and Lexy, helping in the garden, being read to, playing downstairs with Anika, swinging outside, coloring

birthdayWe don’t usually ask our kids what kind of job they want to have when they grow up, but try to encourage whatever they come up with on their own. This year, Kaylia has talked a lot about becoming an art teacher. She loves anything to do with coloring, painting, cutting, and gluing. she gets her most creative, energetic ideas when I am most exhausted, or when I’m in the middle of making supper. This is usually how these things go around here:

Kaylia: Momma, can I have some cloth so I can sew a doll?

Me: I’m sorry, but I’m in the middle of making supper. I can’t help you sew a doll right now.

Kaylia: Can you get me some felt?

Me: I can’t do that right now.

Kaylia: Oh look, I found some felt! Can I have some scissors and a needle?

Me: Kaylia, I can’t help you with that right now. I’m making supper.

Kaylia: Momma, can I have a cotton ball?

Me: We don’t have any cotton balls.

Kaylia: I’ll just use a Kleenx instead. Where’s the glue?

Me: It’s in the cupboard, but I can’t get that for you right now.

Kaylia: I found it! Can you help me sew a dress for my doll?

Me: Not right now. Aren’t you hungry? I’m making supper.

Kaylia: This isn’t really working. Can you help me?

Me: No, I can’t. What did I say I’m doing right now?

Kaylia: Making supper. Maybe I’ll do a different craft instead. Remember that gluing craft my art teacher taught me? I’ll do that….

And in the end, she produced a very creative picture “painted” with so much glue on blue felt that it took 3 days to dry.

tentsKaylia set up camp for the princesses and fairies.


Kaylia always knows exactly what she wants. I’ve learned not to ever straight out ask her to do something – things always go better if she’s given a choice.

She is feisty, independent, determined, and creative. She will always find a way to get things done.

She is quick to apologize, to share, and to comfort.

She never wears the same outfit twice (unless she REALLY loves it, and then she wears it every day for a week), and the more stripes, polka dots, and plaids she can combine in one outfit, the happier she is.

She would gladly play with Anika every day for the rest of her life, and one or two more friends make her perfectly happy. She doesn’t want a crowd of people around her.

She loves to sing, dance, and make up actions for everything. For her birthday, a ukalaili was her heart’s desire.

snugglingShe adds color, laughter, silliness, and deep thoughts to our life. She keeps us on our toes, but that’s what she likes best anyway – in her world, life should be a dance or a musical.

She has taught me everything I don’t know about parenting. She has taught me to slow down, pay attention, and listen like I mean it.

I’m so thankful for this sweet girl!


Last Day of Birthday Favorites!

Hey, Friends! It’s that time again – this week is my birthday, and it’s tradition around here to share everything I’m loving right now, and the things that have made this last year enjoyable/delicious/successful/positive in any way.:)

Leave a comment sharing YOUR favorites, and you’ll be entered in a draw for a prize….

Not much blogging at the cabin this weekend! We were without power for most of our time out there, so we’ll wrap up birthday favorites today, and I’ll announce the winner tomorrow.

So, last list of favorites: Things I Learned This Last Year!

1) Avocados can be frozen.

I think I learned this on Pinterest. Fantastic to know, because they’re so expensive that when we find them on sale, we buy a bunch, but then they ripen before we can eat them all, so now we freeze them! So handy for throwing into a smoothie.

2) Maxi skirts are as comfortable as sweatpants!

And they’re also awesome during pregnancy! I wear them all the time and I love them.:) Who knew you could be so comfy while looking dressed up!

maxi skirt

3) Lanolin Cream is the best moisturizer ever.

I use it on my lips ever night before I go to bed, and it’s fantastic for any area of skin that’s continually dry. Anika has a lot of trouble with cracked, bleeding hands in winter, and she doesn’t like the feeling of greasy lotion. I smear lanolin cream on her hands at bedtime, and it clears up the driest skin. It’s super thick, so a little goes a long way, but it isn’t very nice to use during the day, because it feels very heavy. But it’s perfect at night, because you wake up in the morning to a moisturized miracle.:)

4) Green Onions grow again after cutting them!

This seemed hard to believe at first, but it totally works! I stick them in a glass of water on our window sill, and they actually grow fast! Crazy!

green onions5) Magnesium is a natural sleeping pill.

If you ever have trouble falling asleep at night, this is the stuff to take! Since most people are deficient in magnesium, I’ve been told it’s safe to take. But I’m not a doctor, so don’t quote me.;) You know you’re taking too much if you get diarrhea, apparently. I take three every evening, and after struggling with insomnia for years, I sleep perfectly almost every night. Pregnancy has made things a bit interesting every once in a while, but for the most part, magnesium is my secret to an awesome night’s sleep.


There, that’s my completely random list of things I’ve learned. I’d LOVE to hear what you’ve learned in the last year! This is your last day to comment, and get entered in the draw!

Birthday Favorites: Spiritual Growth

Hey, Friends! It’s that time again – this week is my birthday, and it’s tradition around here to share everything I’m loving right now, and the things that have made this last year enjoyable/delicious/successful/positive in any way.:)

Leave a comment sharing YOUR favorites, and you’ll be entered in a draw for a prize….

Today I want to talk a bit about the spiritual growth opportunities I’ve been exposed to over the past year. Some exciting, uncomfortable, awesome things happened in my 35th year of life! Here’s what impacted me the most:

1) Taking a Prophesy Class at Church of the Rock

I’ve written about this a number of times before (like here and here), but I’ll say it again: This class changed me. I didn’t want to go at all, but I’m so glad I did! Here’s to taking risks. Let’s see what this next year holds!!

2) Leading a Prayer Class at my Church

Another uncomfortable experience that ended up being one of my favorite things this year! I’ve led that class for a year, and by the time it ended in June, I still didn’t feel like I had a clue what I was doing. But God is so awesome, and did so many amazing things in that class, we were just all glad to be a part of it, I think.

3) My “December Challenge”

Another one I wrote about a number of times in the past (here and here). Probably the most life-changing experience of my year. If I hadn’t taken that leap of faith, I would not be sitting here today with our little baby boy in my belly, kicking me repeatedly as I type! Still can’t believe it – God has done what seemed impossible, and I’m blown away by it all!

4) Beth Moore’s Bible Study on “Jesus, the One and Only”

This was such a powerful Bible study! It’s always hard for me to drag myself out of the house on a cold, dark winter night, to get over to our church for a Bible study. But every time I do, I’M SO GLAD I WENT!! Learned a ton from this one. If you ever get the chance to do it, go for it!!

Jesus, the One and Only

5) Speaking About Moses at a Ladies’ Retreat in Spring

You know how they say the one teaching always learns the most? True, yet again! I loved learning about the life of Moses and Egyptian history as I prepared for this retreat. There was an absolute TON on information I devoured but never shared, and I would love to find a way to share it at some point. Not sure how. But much of what God taught me during that time about faith and believing God to do the impossible held me together in the months after that retreat.

Any awesome classes, Bible studies, or books you took in this past year? How has God been challenging you? Give me some new book ideas!!

Anika’s Birthday Favorites 2013

Tomorrow our girlie turns 10!

She’s been counting down the days since last October already. Her motivation doesn’t seem to be the desire to grow up quickly, but rather just her deep love for a good party!


She had BIG plans for her party this year, but unfortunately, Stressed Out Mommy had to put a stop to some of her ideas. We did do a Tinkerbell party, but there was no Pixie Dust Tree in the front entrance, or flowers and grass covering every available surface in the house.

Once again, Ben saved the day with his Children’s Entertainment skills, and led all our little fairies in some games very fitting to Pixie Hollow, such as bouncing the “dew drop” to the spider web…


The party is over, but we still have lots of things to look forward to, as we continue to celebrate.:)

AnikaPhoto: Morgan Braun

Anika’s writing assignment for school today was to make her annual “Birthday Favorites” list:

Breakfast Foods: pancakes, waffles, sausage, bacon, cinnamon apples, tatertots

Lunch and Supper Foods: fried potatoes, mashed potatoes, fish, beef, peas, steamed broccoli, mushrooms

Snacks and Treats: vanilla cupcakes (made from a Betty Crocker gluten-free mix), Popcorn Twists, any sweets

Things to Do: read, play, dream, spend time with friends, draw

Toys: Lego, Barbies, Play Mobil, Polly Pockets

Books: Mandie books, Watership Down, The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit

Colors: blue and pink

What she wants to be when she grows up: author, artist, actor, photographer

My favorite things about her: There are many, but I’ll list the ones that come to mind first!

– Her wild, fun imagination, her sense of humour, and fun-loving personality

– Her love for stories, adventures, reading, and being read to

– Her love for people and fierce loyalty to the loved ones in her life

– Her laugh, her appreciation for a good joke, her ability to play along with Ben’s silliness

– Her desire to care for people, especially Kaylia, but also any other small child around

– Her love for talking things out, especially at bedtime, her inability to keep anything from me, and her desire to learn and understand all things around her

– Her huge conscience, and intense desire to do what is right

– Her strong leadership skills, and her ability to share her ideas with everyone around her so passionately that they all get drawn into the fun

Oh, the excitement and drama she brings into our home! It is my hope and prayer that God will use all these gifts to bless the people around her in powerful ways. We love her so much, and are so very thankful for each of the wonderful years we have enjoyed with her so far!









My Happiness is Growing

There is a garden center close to my house that always has the best gardening quotes on their sign. Anika and I had a favorite:  “We’re sow excited about spring, we wet our plants.”

But they have a good one up right now, too: “He who plants a garden, plants joy.”


I think it’s true. One of my favorite things to do each day is go out to our garden in the evening. I love to see how everything is growing. I love to water it or pull a few weeds. I think it’s right and good when we take joy and pleasure in growing things. I think God wants us to enjoy the beauty.

lettucegardengardenIt doesn’t really even make sense how happy my garden makes me, except that I think it’s a little taste of how God felt when He made the world and called it good.

Are you growing a garden this summer?

35 Days of Favorites Winner!

Today is a good day.

I’m wearing a new pair of shorts. I accomplished the impossible yesterday, and found a pair that actually fit just the way I want them to. (Actually, I should probably give the credit to my friend Sarah, who will be my personal shopper from now on.)

I’m eating chips for breakfast. (That’s for all of you who think I’m too healthy.) My green smoothie just wasn’t filling me up enough!

I’m packing up for the cabin, and we’re celebrating my birthday there this weekend.


A friend I haven’t seen in years is visiting Manitoba, and is coming over this afternoon.

And…we’re finished 35 Days of Favorites! I get to announce a winner, and then we can return to normal blogging, which I’m looking forward to.

So. I’m pretty excited about today’s winner, because she really, really deserves to be the winner! She has entered every contest I’ve ever had on this blog, and has written the most comments for Days of Favorites, both this year and last year.

She is also a continual source of encouragement to me, both with blogging, and many other things in my life, so it’s fun to be able to give her a prize! 🙂 (Although I would have fun giving any of you a prize!)

The random number generator has decided that Chantelle Falk is this year’s winner!

Thanks so much for all of your comments, Chantelle! I’ll be getting your prize to you soon!

And thanks to everybody else for all of your kind words, lovely comments, and birthday wishes.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! I’ll see you on Monday. Time for me to go party.

35 Days of Favorites: Some Things Never Change

I was trying to figure out what favorite to write about today, on the last day of Favorites, the day of my birthday. I had a different post written up, but when it came down to it, I realized that I couldn’t skip over these favorites in my life:

girlsBen and meOh, I love my family. I am so very thankful for them, and for all the love and laughter and every other good thing they bring into my life. They are always the best part of each and every year, no matter what new things I might find or experience.

And I’m also very thankful for all of you. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my little list of favorites.

As I wrap up this year’s edition of Days of Favorites, I want to say this:

Be intentional about being joyful. If you are unhappy, figure out why. And then do something about it. Don’t sit around waiting for other people to make you happy.

Think about what you truly love. Look for joy in the small things. And then make those small things happen regularly.

I came across this quote the other day:

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” (Dr. Wayne Dyer)

And when you go looking for joy and beauty, you will find so much more than if you sit around waiting for it to come to you.

Maybe some of my favorite things were silly. Maybe I made a big deal about something really small. But my life has gotten so much better since I started noticing.

But as much as I find joy in the small things, I need to also say that finding joy in the things that last is even more important. Make a big deal about the little things, but keep them little.

That’s what I’ve learned this year. (Some of it, at least!)

Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to comment, and share your own favorites with me. That is always the best part of this.

*You have all day today to make comments on any 35 Days of Favorites post, and I will announce the winner tomorrow.

35 Days of Favorites: Restaurants

This post is part of a series called “35 Days of Favorites”, in honor of my 35th birthday. You can read more about the details here

Our friends introduced us to Taco Del Mar this spring, and my life will never be the same.

I LOVE Mexican food.

I also love having someone else make my food for me, but there are very, very few cheap, fast restaurants that serve anything I can eat, because of diet restrictions.

But Taco Del Mar has saved me!

Taco Del Mar

AND…kids eat free on Sundays! Even better! Our girls will be completely sick of Mexican food long before they’re adults.

For those of you who haven’t tried eating at Taco Del Mar, you most definitely should. It’s like Subway, but with tacos.

Taco Del Mar

So delicious.


If we’re going for something slightly classier than Taco Del Mar, my other favorite would have to be Mongo’s. Make your own stir-fry.

That’s just wonderful with me, because I love stir-fry, and I also love not having to order in a restaurant. With all my silly food restrictions, ordering at a restaurant is a huge pain. Everyone always wants to try to understand what exactly my food issues are. Since that’s fairly complicated, and I barely understand it myself, I really, really don’t like trying to explain it to some random stranger I will never see again.

Mongo’s is simple. You grab your little bowl, wander through the display of chopped veggies that are so colorful and beautiful, it just makes you want to eat super healthy, pick out anything and everything that appeals to you, and then get in line to have your food cooked.

The only time you have to talk to anyone is to tell them if you want your meat and veggies on top of rice or pasta. That’s it! The perfect dining experience, in my opinion. The only way it could be improved on would be if I could go into a restaurant, they could read my mind, and what I most wanted to eat would magically appear at the table, without me needing to talk to anyone, OR having to get it ready myself.

There’s a date idea for Ben – order for me as a surprise.

What’s your favorite restaurant to eat at?

35 Days of Favorites: Finishing Projects.

This post is part of a series called “35 Days of Favorites”, in honor of my 35th birthday. You can read more about the details here

I am much, much better at starting projects than finishing them.

For example. Remember this?

entrance after

I started that project last summer, and I only needed to do a few small things to finish it up – buy picture frames, have photos printed, sew some cushion covers, find a plant pot, but…it took me an entire year to get around to it!


That kind of thing happens often around here. There’s probably some deep, mind-blowing, psychological reason for why I avoid following through on the projects I start, but I have no clue what it is.

In the meantime, whenever I do finish something, IT FEELS AMAZING!!

I love it. And then I get super-motivated to…start a whole bunch more projects. Which I don’t finish. Oh, dear.

Anyway, I finally finished last summer’s project, and it makes me really, really happy. It feels good to be done.


Do you have any projects you need to finish? What shall we accomplish today?!:)

*You have until Thursday to enter the 35 Days of Favorites draw for a prize! Comment on any 35 Days post as many times as you want to have your name entered.