Save Money on Groceries With This Simple Tip

I love talking grocery budget. L-O-V-E it! In fact, wrote a whole book about it. save money at the checkout. Buy store brandYes, I love it that much!

Today’s tip is a simple one that most people have heard before… but not everybody’s convinced. Unless you’re budget is super-dooper tight and you don’t have a choice, chances are, you have a few favorite brands of items that you love, and you’re loathe to try the dreaded “store brand” (or “private label” or “no-name brand”, whatever you choose to call it). Many people even swear that the private label brands are noticeably worse in quality, and therefore insist on paying the premium prices for the big  brands.

Side note: I hope you realize that  what you’re paying for is packaging and labeling. Most of the time. 

And, if you’re a whole-foods, health-conscious kinda shopper like me, you probably steer clear of a lot of packaged stuff, anyway, so you’re thinking this tip’s not for you.

What tip am I talking about, anyway? You’ve probably guessed it. This:

Save money on groceries by buying store brand, for example, Giant Food’s “Own Brand”, which includes their Nature’s Promise and Simply Enjoy lines of products. 

Recently, Giant Food sent me a box full of their own brand to try and to compare with my favorite items that I might buy elsewhere. I’m talking about stuff that you probably do buy packaged (and probably do have a favorite brand/source), like organic ketchup (Unless you make your own, in which case, kudos for you! Not an option around here because of my DH’s delicate tummy, but I get the best processed ketchup I can find.), organic olive oil or organic rice. Trust me, the difference between the Giant brand and any other premium brand was negligible, if any. Frankly, I didn’t notice a difference whatsoever!

If you buy those types of staples on a regular basis, you might want to save yourself a few shekels and try Giant’s Own Brand line of products and see if they compare favorably to your favorites. Chances are, you won’t go back to paying a premium again!

This is not a sponsored post. I received product to try, and was left to form my own opinion and share it with you.

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Einkorn, the Ancient Grain {Giveaway, Too!}

Win Einkorn Berries from Tropical Traditions #giveaway #ancientgrains #traditionalfoodAre you concerned about the effects of modern wheat on your health? There is certainly reason to be! Modern wheat has been blamed on a large number of health issues, and the rising numbers of people who simply cannot tolerate it seem to provide evidence that there is truth to the accusations. 

The Trouble With Wheat

My opinion, though, is that the issue is not with wheat in and of itself, because mankind has been enjoying wheat since the beginning of time (by which I mean Adam and Eve), and all of these health issues have only cropped up since the beginning of the Industrial Age. I’m thinking that the problem lies with all the changes modern science has forced on the ancient grain, turning it into a mere shadow of its former wholesome self. It’s now easy to grow and easy to harvest, and therefore very inexpensive… but at what cost? The cost of our health, it seems.

Now I haven’t turned my back on wheat entirely, but I have switched the bulk of my cooking and baking over to two ancient grains that are cousins (or forerunners) of modern wheat. These two grains - spelt and einkorn – have remain unchanged over history, unlike wheat, which has been tinkered with since the ’40s. As such, they retain a nutritional integrity missing from modern wheat.

wheatTry Einkorn Instead

Note: If you order by clicking on any of my links and have never ordered from Tropical Traditions in the past, you will receive a free book on Virgin Coconut Oil, and I will receive a discount coupon for referring you.

Today, Tropical Traditions: The Best Place to Get Virgin Coconut Oil, is generously offering one of my readers the chance to win a 5lb. bag of whole Einkorn berries that you can grind to make your own ancient flour! 

I had a chance to use these Einkorn berries myself, and I was very impressed! The flour I made with them worked much like regular ol’ wheat flour, and I didn’t have to make any adjustments to my recipes. The taste and texture were just as good – if not better – than those I made with wheat flour, as well.

The only thing that was different about the einkorn is the texture of the raw dough: for lack of a better word, it was significantly “stretchier” than the dough or batter made with wheat. I’m guessing it has something to do with the quantity or quality of gluten in einkorn, but it doesn’t affect the final product. Once baked, the texture was just like something made with wheat.

If you’re not sure where to start with Einkorn berries, here’s a great recipe from Tropical Traditions’ recipe site.

The main drawback to einkorn is the price. Gulp! It’s almost twice the cost of either wheat or spelt! If you can afford it, I say go for it! But if not… enter the giveaway below. 

Win Einkorn Berries to Try For Yourself

This giveaway is only for residents of the United States aged 18 and older. It will end on Tuesday, March 11, at midnight. Winner will be notified by email and has 48 hours to respond or will forfeit the prize.

Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.

Curious about coconut oil? Click here for more information on its many uses!
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How to Help a Friend: Just Do It

How to Help a Friend in Need #justdoit

Not sure how to help your friend? Just do something! Anything!

You didn’t hear from me at all last week (I know you missed me, didntcha?!), and it wasn’t because I was busier-than-usual (I’m always busier-than-usual, so that’s not a good excuse). I had all these great plans to write a post or two detailing how my DH and I celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary on the cheap (I think I still will, but in the meantime, check out a few Instagram pics), but just as I was about to sit down at the computer and start typing out my thoughts, my husband made a phone call that unexpectedly and dramatically changed our plans. 

He called his dad for the purpose of checking on our kids, who were staying with his family for the weekend while we were busy celebrating; but as it turns out, God had divinely appointed that he check on his dad with that phone call instead. As soon as my father-in-law had answered the phone, my DH could tell something was wrong, and he was right. As it turned out, Dad had suffered a stroke and ended up spending the next few days in the hospital, undergoing various tests and treatments.

Change of Plans

We cut our anniversary celebration short – and I never did sit down at the computer! – and made our way as quickly as we could to the town about an hour away where his family lives. We got there just in time to see his dad before they whisked him away to start the medication for stroke, and we spent the rest of the week juggling our time between filling our responsibilities here in town and visiting with family an hour away. 

During the course of the week, the entire family experienced such an outpouring of love from the dear folks who know and love my father-in-law,  the founding pastor of a thriving church, that we cannot even begin to properly express our appreciation. Amid the uncertainties and fears of the first few days following the stroke, it was a tremendous blessing to witness love demonstrated in tangible ways. 

My Certain Little Someone, reading with Grandpa not one week after Grandpa’s stroke.

Encouraged and Provoked

As happens when the Body of Christ operates as it should, I was encouraged by the loving response of God’s people to our need, but I was also personally “provoked to good works”, as the Bible says. You see, I always have this trouble – and I know I’m not the only one – of knowing exactly what to do when someone I love has a need. Certainly, I always offer help, but just as certainly, they always turn it down. The conversation typically goes like this:

Me: Is there any way I can help you?

The Person in Need: Oh, I appreciate it, but we’re fine, thank you!

Me: Ok, but I’d love to help. Let me know if you think of anything.

The Person in Need: I will, thanks!

Ever had that conversation? And, of course, the person in need never actually calls on my help because they hate to be a burden to anyone. And I go on my merry way when the reality is, there are things I could do to be an encouragement and a blessing.

What I learned this past week has a familiar ring to it, and it’s this: Just. Do. It. Don’t wait for your friend to call on you, don’t wait for the “perfect opportunity” to be a blessing, don’t hem and haw and second-guess yourself. Just do it. Whatever you can think of that seems like it would be helpful, just do it.

How to Help a Friend in Need {Just Do It}

A few things done for us and for my father-in-law that were greatly appreciated and might spark an idea for you: 

  • Meals Provided: No fewer than three people simply called and said, “Hey, I made some food for you, when is a good time to drop it off?” If those people had called and said, “Can I make you a meal?” we would have said, “Oh, no, thanks, no need to put yourself out!”, and then both parties would have missed out on a blessing. On Friday night, our entire family sat around and enjoyed a veritable feast, and we barely had to lift a finger to fix it (which was a good thing, after the week we’d all experienced!); and our enjoyment of the meal was enhanced by the fact that our friends had made it for us in a sheer demonstration of their love and care for us.
  • Snacks and Treats: Maybe a full meal doesn’t fit your budget or your time constraints, but a snack of some kind is totally do-able! As we sat around my father-in-law’s hospital bed, we all enjoyed some homemade fudge that a friend had prepared for us. Another friend brought a towering basket of fresh fruit! Other options include breakfast foods (a batch of muffins, maybe?), or lunch supplies (a loaf of bread and a package of lunchmeat, perhaps).
  • Care Packages: One sweet friend ran by the grocery store and picked up a few things she thought my mother-in-law might find useful while at the hospital: snacks, tea bags and a mug, lip balm and lotion, and more.  This was so thoughtful and was the perfect thing for Mom, who was so busy caring for Dad that she didn’t properly take the time to care for herself. Many care-givers find themselves in the same boat, so a gift that helps them relax and regroup is perfect.
  • Messages: Words are powerful healing agents (Don’t believe me? Read Proverbs 16:24.) and they can be communicated in so many forms: in person, over the phone, via text, on Facebook, on email, through video, or even an old-fashioned card. We received all of those this past week, and each one was treasured. We read them to my father-in-law and I know he was encouraged by the loving words of many friends.  And don’t forget… laughter is the best medicine! It was a treat to be able to laugh together with various friends… even one who put together a short video with an inside joke that was appreciated by all.
  • Prayer: Talk about healing power! Ultimately, God is the One Who heals, and we have the privilege of coming boldly to His throne and asking for His healing. We witnessed my father-in-law progress from the point on Sunday night where he could barely say simple words like “OK” and “Bye-bye” to the point exactly one week later where he and my DH maintained a lengthy phone conversation about a variety of topics. I firmly believe his progress had just as much to do with the prayers of God’s people as it did with any medication or treatment he received. People were praying literally all over the world – in the Philippines, in France, throughout the United States, and more – and their prayers were as effective as Scripture promises they will be. When you can do nothing else, you can certainly pray!

Remember the phone call my DH made that launched us into the week we weren’t expecting? Well, at exactly the same time a week later, my DH made another phone call to his dad, this time with dramatically different results! We were amazed and so grateful at the progress Dad had made during the week, and we are confident that he is going to make a full recovery and be back in the pulpit where he loves to be. I can’t help but think that every single person who prayed and helped in any way they could think of had a tangible part in his healing, and they will in turn be richly blessed.

So now if I have a friend or loved one facing a crisis of one kind or another, I know what I can do. It doesn’t really matter so much *what* I do… as long as I just do it. 

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Simple Wall Art: Fill Those Empty Walls

Win your own free wall art from Bigstock!

Win your own free wall art from Bigstock!

It shouldn’t be a secret to anyone around here that I like it when things are simple. (Hence, authentic simplicity. Yeah, that’s where that comes from!) I don’t really consider myself lazy (most of the time), but for sure I’m not going to put extra effort into anything that isn’t worth it.

Home decor is one of those things, right up there with crafts and making the bed. (Changing the sheets, now. That’s important!) In the past year, the craftiest thing I’ve done is making some monogram-esque picture frames for our living room. They turned out pretty sweet – if I do say so myself – and weren’t all that difficult; but trust me when I say the easier the home decor is, the better.

Ya with me? Ok, good, because I have a fantastic idea (and a giveaway!) for you today. See that fun vintage wall art in the photo above that is now gracing my kitchen wall? It’s actually a photo from Bigstock, printed in poster size and framed. Very cool, yes? And very simple!

Bigstock has tons of photos available to purchase and download… and then print on a large scale and hang on your wall. With over 17,000,000 (yes, that many zeroes) photos to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect one for that bare spot. (Unless you’re really really picky, and then I’m afraid I can’t help you.)

FIFTY Images FREE!

And guess what?! Every single one of you – yes, even you! – gets to try Bigstock out for free! And I know you love free stuff, because you’re just like me. Here’s the deal: Bigstock is generously offering my readers a free 5-day trial of their site, which means that for 5 days, you can download up to 10 images absolutely FREE! The standard free trial only includes 35 images, so this is an extra 15 just because you like my blog (you knew that had to be good for something someday, right?).

Bigstock wall art

Click here to start your free 5-day trial. Browse through Bigstock’s massive selection of photos and start dreaming of all you could do!

That’s Not All, Folks!

One lucky reader also will win a free poster-size image for themselves! You can choose the cute vintage coffee one I chose, or you can choose another from a list of selected images (something for every style). Please note that the frame is not included.

This giveaway will end next Monday at midnight and is only open to residents of the United States, aged 18 or older. The prize will be shipped directly to you by Bigstock. The winner will have 48 hours to respond with their shipping information or will forfeit the prize.

Enter the giveaway here:

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How to Win Your Child’s Heart

How to Win Your Child's Heart

How to Win Your Child’s Heart -

Image(s) courtesy VintageHolidayCrafts.com

You hear a lot in various circles these days about the importance of “winning your child’s heart” … but what does that mean exactly? And more importantly, is it even a Biblical concept?

I’ve been contemplating both of those questions for a little while now, and I’ve arrived at some satisfactory conclusions for myself. (I’ve also realized how terrible I have been in this department!)

free-vintage-valentine-card-boy-and-girl-dont-give-me-the-brush-off

Image(s) courtesy VintageHolidayCrafts.com

I’ll start with my thoughts on the latter question:

Is “winning your child’s heart” a Biblical concept?

Well, certainly the Bible does not command us to do as such, at least not in the way it commands us to discipline, train, and teach our children. I haven’t found a verse yet that says, “Go win your child’s heart!” But here are some verses and Biblical principles for your consideration:

  • Obedience springs from a heart of love. John 14:23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.
  • God instructs children to give their hearts to their parents. Proverbs 23:26 My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways.
  • Our Heavenly Father pursues us. I John 4:9 We love Him because He first loved us.
  • Parents are to engage with their children in a loving manner. Matthew 18:5, 6 “Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me. “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” and Ephesians 6:4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
  • Jesus rebuked the disciples for disregarding children, and made a point of reaching out to them. Matthew 19:13, 14 Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

Win Your Child's Heart

Image(s) courtesy VintageHolidayCrafts.com

How to Win Your Child’s Heart

I think it’s safe to say that it’s a Biblical concept, so now what about the question of how exactly to go about it? I’m embarrassed to admit this one has stumped me for some time. The best I could come up with until recently was that I needed to spend more time with my children. Relationships are built on time, right? But that didn’t seem to be cutting it for my love-hungry Certain Little Someone, and I could sense a building anger and frustration in his heart that worried me. We could spend the whole day together doing all kinds of fun things, but it was like his love tank still wasn’t quite full.

As I pondered the problem, I lightbulb went on in my (admittedly dim-witted!) head: “Winning someone’s heart” is exactly what goes on in a courtship! Now, clearly, at some point this analogy totally breaks down, but there are a lot of similarities that are applicable to the parent-child relationship.

Win Your Child's Heart

Image(s) courtesy VintageHolidayCrafts.com

I mean, think about it. Exactly what happens when a young man has an eye on a girl and sets out to woo her? As I imagined a courting couple, I began to develop a clear picture of what it would look like to win my child’s heart (minus the googly eyes and raging hormones):

  1. I must spend time with him. This is where it all starts. Time – copious amounts of time – spent together, doing whatever. What’s being done doesn’t matter so much as the actual fact of spending time together. Typically, a couple falling in love can’t wait until the next time they get to see each other or talk on the phone because they just love spending as much time as possible with that person.
  2. Time together is a good starting point, but it’s not enough: What’s even more important is the interaction that takes place during the time spent together. For one thing, a courting couple will generally participate in activities they don’t necessarily enjoy simply for the sake of spending time with the other person. This means, I must sometimes play games and other activities I do not enjoy simply because my son enjoys them and I want to spend time with him. This is hard for me because I’m a girly-girl and both my boys are ALL. BOY. Playing outside is something I just do not love to do – never have – and yet, I must do it if I want to win their heart. My Certain Little Someone, in particular, absolutely loves the challenge of trying to hit a baseball with his big foam bat and literally could spend HOURS practicing this skill. I have never ever enjoyed baseball in any form, and it’s sheer torture for me to throw him the ball over and over and over and over… and over … and over again! (It’s probably also sheer torture for him to try to hit my wild throws, poor guy!) But I’m learning that this is something very important to him that I need to do – with a good attitude – whenever I can, just to show him that I love him.
  3. I must speak kindly, gently, and respectfully to him. A fledgling courtship will break up pretty quickly if harsh words are exchanged! And yet, harsh words escape my mouth so often when speaking to both of my sons. Harsh words and harsh tones build walls and drive wedges between people; they don’t win hearts and they don’t build relationships, and they certainly don’t win a child’s heart! I find my boys respond to me so much better when my words are spoken in kind tones. And when they are misbehaving and require correction, I still must guard my tongue and my tone of voice and make sure my words are respectful and loving even as I discipline them in one way or another.
  4. I must praise his success… and his effort! Flattery will get you nowhere, but well-worded sincere praise can secure a heart better than anything else. Just think of how a courting couple compliments each other on just about everything. I have never seen a child who didn’t blossom when praised, and it’s common knowledge that the more you praise a little one, the harder they try to please you and earn that praise. Whether they experience success in behavior, academics, sports, or some other endeavor, I need to pay attention to it, notice it, and praise them for it. And even if they don’t succeed, if they tried their best, I want to notice and praise that, too.
  5. I must see his potential. One of the quickest ways to a person’s heart (besides food, of course) is to notice not so much what they are but what they can be. See the person hidden deep inside (sometimes pretty deep) and seek to draw it out by making the other person aware of it. This is particularly an area I need to improve in with my children! I’m oh-so-quick to see their faults and failings that I overlook their potential to be more. I don’t want to tromple on their potential; I want to bring it out!

WaysYou Can Win Your Child's Heart I could go on, but I think you get the general idea! What it comes down to is this: a courting couple is generally on their best behavior, treating the other person in the best way they can in a concerted effort to win their heart. Parents can do the same thing for their children, but it’s a lot harder because it has to be balanced with the need to train and disciple them. It’s also a lot harder because in the parent-child relationship the heart-winning is usually one-sided; whereas in a courtship, as long as there’s mutual interest, both parties have their best foot forward.

And clearly, the analogy falls all to pieces at some point, because in a courtship there’s that added element we’ll call “romance”. Obviously, that doesn’t come into play here!

But I’m taking a cue from the lovelorn and making a concerted effort this Valentine’s Day (and all year long) to win my child’s heart so that they will more willingly accept my instruction and discipline.

What steps do you take to ensure you win your child’s heart? 

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Easy Spice Cake {#BakingMyHeritage}

Spice Cake, Easy and Delicious

 

Do you follow me on Instagram? Well, why not?! You are missing out, my friend! Because if you had followed me on Instagram, then you would have known that I picked up an AWESOME cookbook while I was in Michigan last Christmas, and that I proceeded to bake some AWESOME deliciousness from it.

See this picture here? It was on Instagram. Live. In the moment. My excitement was almost palpable!

Well, at any rate, I was excited so I had to share with everybody on Instagram. And as I bake things from the book, I’m going to continue sharing on Instagram, so if you wanna keep up with me as I go around #BakingMyHeritage, then follow me on Instagram.

But first, check out this cake. (It’s from the book.)

Easy and Delicious Spice Cake It’s AWESOME. Easy, delicious… and Finnish. Say what??

Head on over to Baking Whole Grains to get the full scoop.

 

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How to Get Your Kids to Listen When You Call {The “Yes Ma’am! Game”}

How to Get Your Kids to Listen Without Raising Your VoiceLately, I’ve gotten seriously fed up with having to repeat my kids’ names , each repetition rising in volume until the entire neighborhood (probably the entire city) could hear my roar. I’ve gotten fed up with my kids for not responding like they know they should… and I’ve gotten fed up with myself for allowing this to continue. That’s just some straight up bad parenting right there. 

As I considered how to go about remedying this situation I found myself in, I remembered some advice our pastor had given a few months back about training your children in obedience and respect: He recommended training your children before the need arises. As it applies to this particular problem, that means training them to respond to your call in the way you want them to before you actually try calling their name. In other words, don’t try to train them to respond politely and respectfully when you’re irritated in the heat of the moment. Nope. That’s just more bad parenting. To really train them well, you have to train them before the fact, not after. 

I contemplated how to go about this for a while before it hit me: Turn it into a game! Kids love games, right? And usually, the simpler the better. The game I came up with is definitely simple, but it is amazing how much fun The Boys have playing it!

yelling

photo credit: sideshowmom

The “Yes Ma’am! Game”

I call it the “Yes Ma’am! Game” and it goes like this:

  • I call one of The Boys’ names in a sing-songy voice.
  • If they respond with a prompt “Yes, ma’am!”, then I say, with great excitement a la a carnival caller, “Ding-Ding-Ding! You’ve won a prize! Mmmmm-Wuah!!” The “Mmmm-Wuah!!!” part is, of course, an air kiss, and is as exaggerated as I can make it. They collapse into giggles and absolutely love it.
  • If, however, they fail to respond, or worse, respond with a “WHAT?!?!” full of attitude, then I say, “ERRRRRR (think of a buzzer sound)!! You lose!”, followed by a sad face. This usually prompts them to say a cheerful “Yes Ma’am!” but it’s too late for the “prize”.
  • Repeat until you’re sick and tired of it.

Told ya. Simple!

The Boys

The Boys!

How it Works

To be honest, when I first started this whole game, I wasn’t sure how it would all play out; but I figured anything was better than hollering their name at the top of my lungs, so I just dove in and did it with gusto. 

It played out much better than I expected! Here’s how it all went down:

  • Day One: On our way to school, we played this game for the first time. The whole way. Over and over and over. And over again. I was quite surprised by how much fun they had, and every time I tried to stop playing the game, they literally begged me to play it some more. I was tickled pink. They had no idea that training was in session! Sneaky ol’ mama!
  • Day Two: The evening of the second day, Daddy had a chance to get involved in the fun, and we all took turns calling each other’s names. Yes, The Boys even called out “Mommy!” and “Daddy!” and we had to answer with either a “Yes, sir!” or a “Yes, ___Kids’ Name___!” After all, everyone should be treated with respect, not just mommies and daddies. And Tiger Cubs’ little “Mmmm-wuah!” air-kiss was so precious, it was a prize worth getting.
  • Day Three: The Boys were too good at the game by this point, so I introduced a new element: surprise! This time, no matter how much they begged, I wouldn’t call their name when they were asking for it or expecting it. I explained that they had gotten too good at this game, so I needed to make it a little harder. They were pleased with that explanation, although Tiger Cub (the younger one) still kept asking for me to call him, so occasionally I would indulge him.
  • Day Four: Honestly, I was a little surprised that by this time, the “Yes Ma’am!” response was starting to become automatic, whether we were actually playing the game or not. I started intentionally calling them during times when they were involved in something else to see how well they would respond. And I would keep the game going – if they responded the right way, I’d give them an air kiss at the very least, but if they did not, then I’d make the “wrong” buzzer sound. I did find, though, that they responded best when I called their name with a bit of a sing-song in my voice, even when I was serious about needing their attention. One little problem did arise, though: as soon as they had said “Yes Ma’am!”, they would go back to what they were doing without waiting to hear what I had to say to them, which kind of defeats the purpose, so I had to learn to grab their attention quick while I had it.
  • Day Five: Mission Accomplished!! I can truthfully say there’s a lot less name-yelling going on around here and a lot more “yes-ma’am-ing”. An unexpected benefit of this whole game is that I as the parent am doing a better job of addressing them with the respect they deserve, which means that they in turn address me with more respect. You reap what you sow, you know?

I plan to keep this game up until we’ve got it down pat and the “Yes Ma’am” answer is automatic every time, and then I’ll resurrect it as I need to when the habit slips.

Listening

photo credit: sgarton

Will It Work For You?

No guarantees, friend, but here are a few tips to at least give it a fighting chance:

  • It probably works best for kids in the preschool/early elementary age range. Any older and they’ll just look at you like you’re cross-eyed. Trust me, your teenagers will not have fun playing this game! (I don’t have teenagers but somehow I just know this. Such great wisdom I have, I know!)
  • You can choose whatever phrase you want your kids to respond with. I know not everybody has their kids call them “ma’am”, and in fact, we didn’t start out doing that. In the past, we’ve had our kids say, “Yes, Mommy” or “Yes, Daddy” instead of “ma’am” or “sir”, so that will work just as well. Or maybe just a polite “Yes?” is good for you. Whatever works, as long as it is in a polite tone.
  • Don’t play the game in the heat of the moment when you’ve called them the thousandth time and they have not even looked your way. Wait until a time when everybody is relaxed and happy and introduce the game in a fun and inviting way. 
  • Don’t be afraid to be silly! That’s a lot of the charm of this little game.
  • Your “prize” can be whatever you want: a hug, a real kiss, a sticker, singing a song, whatever. I chose an air kiss because I was driving at the time, and it was some way I could show them love and affection without taking my hands off the wheel. I think intangible prizes have more value than tangible prizes, personally, and whatever you do, don’t go with candy.

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Upside Down Cranberry Cake

Upside Down Cranberry Cake

Mmmm ain’t it gorgeous?! And being the terrible photographer that I am, trust me, the real thing was a little prettier. There’s something about the vibrant color of cranberries that just begs me to use them up this time of year. When everything else is drab and dreary, that brilliant splash of color is refreshingly beautiful.

Oh, and it tastes pretty good, too! The tart flavor of the cranberries matches particularly well with a sweet dessert, as I have discovered after multiple experimentations with that particular combination this winter. Yummy!

Today, I’m over at Baking Whole Grains with a delicious whole-food-ized recipe for Upside Down Cranberry Cake. Click here for the recipe!

PS. It calls for spelt, but wheat flour will work just as well. Just use about 1/4 cup less.

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5 Stomach Bug Remedies

5 remedies for tummy bugBesides the crazy extreme winter weather my family endured during our Christmas vacation to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, we also endured a crazy extreme stomach bug. It started with my cute little niece and spread like wildfire from there to almost every member of my extended family (20 out of 31 people succumbed to the bug to one extent or another).

Thankfully, my sister and I had brought along our essential oils, which we used extensively, both on ourselves and our ailing family members. There were a few other great tips shared between the suffering and we all managed to enjoy our Christmas – and even the long drive back – in spite of it all.

I’m going to share the home remedies we found to be most effective throughout the ordeal, but first, a little poem my brother wrote for the occasion: 

‘Twas the night before Christmas a little past ten and not a sound could be heard save the sound of us pukin

The buckets were lined on the floor with much care, in the hopes that projectiles would find their way there.

*snort*

And now that that’s out of the way, let’s move on to some helpful remedies we employed to get over this bug:

5 Stomach Bug Remedies

peppermint oil

1. Peppermint Oil

Peppermint oil ($21.50 from Young Living) is a classic oil for all kinds of stomach ailments, and can be used in several different ways to treat vomit, diarrhea, general nausea and queasiness… and even constipation!

  • For children, rub heavily diluted peppermint oil onto the soles of the feet whenever they’re experiencing tummy trouble.
  • Diffuse peppermint oil into the air to ease nausea and other stomach complaints. This can be done simply by putting a drop or two on a cotton ball and sticking it into a vent, or you can use an actual diffuser if you have one. I diffused peppermint oil in our car on the ride home (when I was feeling kinda seasick) and it helped tremendously. I never did throw up, and I only had vague nausea throughout the course of the bug.
  • Dilute peppermint oil and massage it into the stomach.
  • Take a sniff straight from the bottle!
  • This one is a little bit of a delicate matter. Ahem. So…. if you’ve got it coming out both ends, you know what happens: when you sit down to do the one, the… um…. odor… can be a little overwhelming and often provokes an eruption of another kind, right? Yeah. Hate it when that happens. Know what helps? Keep a wet washrag on the sink and put a drop or two of peppermint oil on it. Hold it over your nose whenever you sit down to do your business, and… problem solved. Ahem. Moving on… 

2. Essential Oil Blend for Diarrhea

My sister did a quick google search and found this great page full of advice for diarrhea and other tummy ailments. We used a variation of the recommended oil blend for diarrhea:

  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Eucalyptus
  • Tea Tree Oil

Put a drop or two of each oil in your hand, and then add about a teaspoon of carrier oil. Rub the mixture together between your palms and then massage your tummy with a circular motion. 

My DH and I both applied this blend and neither one of us ever had any diarrhea (TMI, sorry), so it seemed to help. Two of my sisters also applied the blend, and the one never really got sick, but the other one did, so your mileage might vary. (I will mention, at the case of overloading on the TMI here, that most of the  patients were suffering diarrhea on a lengthy road trip, but we had to make very few pit stops, and there were no accidents.  *shew* I’m guessing this is due at least in part to the oils being spread around all the different tummies.

Note: I highly recommend Young Living Essential Oils brand! They’re pricey, but anyone can purchase them at the wholesale price by becoming a distributor. You can become a YL distributor simply by purchasing one of their starter kits, which are as low as $40 (although, if you can swing it, the premium kit for $150 is a fantastic deal – it’s the one I started with, and it’s even better now because it comes with a diffuser!). To maintain distributor status, all you have to do is make a $50 purchase within the year. No obligation to sell or recruit or any of that stuff, just access to the 25% off wholesale price. You can sign up here on my Young Living site if you are interested. 

3. Grape Juice

My sister swears by this prevention tip: whenever someone in your family comes down with a tummy bug, start chugging grape juice. Get the purest, best juice you can find/afford, and drink away at it for as long as you can stand it. No idea why it works, but it really does seem to help (unfortunately, we didn’t have ready access to grape juice over Christmas, so we couldn’t fully test it this time around, but I’ve seen/heard it work in other situations).

4. Probiotics

My DH is one of very few people who was not even remotely touched by the illness (yet. I suppose there’s still time for that.) and I can’t help but think that it’s because he takes a very high dose of probiotics for his colitis. If your stomach can tolerate some good yogurt, that’s a great way to get probiotics in, but if you’re well into the throes of nauseous agony, it’s better to go with a probiotic of some sort. My two pregnant SIL’s both found that taking probiotics was what finally helped them to give this bug the boot, since it seemed to want to stick around them a little longer.

5. Crackers & Ginger Ale

I’m talkin’ Saltines and Canada Dry here, people. I know, I know, it’s  hardly whole foods, and it’s hardly nourishing, but it’s what I grew up on and it helps. It really does! I sipped ginger ale throughout my first trimester of both pregnancies, and it was one of very few things that helped keep the constant nausea at bay (that and peppermint candy). It also helps whenever I’m feeling a wee bit queasy from a stomach bug. When I’m recovering from a bout of stomach nastiness, crackers are a comforting food that manages to stay down, so I always reach for them first.

How do you fight the tummy bug?

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Out With the Old, In With the New

New-Years-2014-HDHappy New Year!

Happy New Year! 

May we all have a vision now and then…

New Year, New Vision

Wow, this past year has really been quite the roller coaster ride for me personally, how about you? I’m excited to get started with a new year with the potential for some big changes in my personal life… and on the blog as well! I’ve been recharged recently with some new motivation and inspiration for this ol’ blog and where I want to go with it, and I’m so thrilled you’ll be going there with me.

Nothing super drastic is going to happen – not like when I totally changed the name and the design and everything all in one fell swoop. Not gonna go through that again! (At least not any time soon. Can’t promise anything for the distant future.)  But here’s what you’re likely to see happen around here:

  • More authenticity: I intentionally chose the name “Authentic Simplicity” because I wanted to challenge myself to be more authentic with you, my readers, and with myself. Transparency and honesty can be difficult for me in some ways because I get a little nervous about what people might think of me if they really know who I really am for real. I feel like I have been more transparent and honest in the past year, but I also feel like I can do better.
  • More about what is important to me: namely, my family and my God. This falls in line with the previous point. I’m not truly authentic here unless I’m posting about what is truly important to me. Recipes, crafty ideas, and rants are all part of my life… but not the real part. Expect to see a little more of the real me. Like it or not!
  • More focus: My DH and I have put our heads together and come up with a plan for investing a little more into our online lives to see what we can reap from it, but unfortunately, in our current situation of life, the most time we can commit on a regular basis is three little measly hours a week. But that’s better  than the nothing we’ve managed to put in for the past month or so… and as the old hymn says, “Little is much when God is in it.” So we’ll have to take our three little hours and maximize them to the extent  we can. So that means not necessarily more posts… but more focused posts.
  • More better: Hey it ain’t great English, but it says what I mean and it fits with my “more” theme going on here, so I’m a-gonna stick with it. This blog is overdue for a little sprucing, cleaning up and redesigning, so those are all in the works for 2014.
  • More you: I can’t believe people actually come to my little spot on the web and appreciate what I have to say here. It’s an honor and a privilege and one I don’t take lightly. I want to invest a little more time in listening to you, interacting with you in this virtual space and having fun together!

Here’s to a Wonderful New Year!! 

What big plans do you have in store for 2014? 

 

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