5 Home Remedies for Pink Eye

5 remedies for pink eye #conjunctivitis #essentialoils #youngliving #homeremediesPink eye (or Conjunctivitis) is one of those annoying little illnesses that is more inconvenience than anything, especially since anyone who sees anybody (or hears of anybody) who has pink eye seems to think that the Black Plague of Death is nigh at hand and reacts with horror. Henceforth and therefore, one is required to sequester themselves away from all society until doomsday has passed and the eye is no longer shedding icky goopy stuff…. which can take up to a week. Like I said, an inconvenience.

It’s not life-threatening. It’s not dangerous. It’s just annoying. Totally no fun at all.

Recently, both of The Boys got to experience the bacterial version of Pink Eye (as opposed to the viral kind, which usually accompanies a cold, and has happened around here once or twice, or the allergy kind which we haven’t had to deal with yet), so I got to experience the fun of treating it. Yay me! What I discovered was that home remedies are more than adequate to stop Pink Eye in its tracks… if you apply them repeatedly and frequently until the symptoms stop. 

Tiger Cub was the first to get it, and unfortunately, I was not as faithful to his treatments as I should have been, so his case kind of dragged on for a few days. When my Certain Little Someone got it (wasn’t it so nice of the brothers to share?), I determined to try every home remedy readily available to me, and apply them repeatedly through the course of the day. His case was knocked out in two days! Who needs antibiotics? 

1. Lavender Compress

The first thing I did with both boys was a lavender compress, which is very easy to do and requires only a bowl, lavender essential oil*, a washrag, and some warm/hot water. Place a drop of lavender oil in the bowl, and fill it with hot water. Put the washrag into the water until it’s thoroughly wet, then wring it out. Place it over the eyes (keep them closed) for as long as the kid can stand it. For my Tiger Cub, that was about 30 seconds. My Certain Little Someone made it to a few minutes. Ideally, it should be at least 5 minutes, but that wasn’t happening around here.

I tried to apply the lavender compress at 3 different times throughout the course of the day, but especially at night.

2. Eucalyptus Radiata Essential Oil

Eucalyptus* is another essential oil that’s very good for conjunctivitis and is  safe for children. Dilute 1-2 drops of the oil in a teaspoon or so of carrier oil, then apply in the following manner:

  • Dab just a bit of the oil on your finger – just enough to moisten it – and carefully run your finger across the brow. Repeat with the other brow. Be sure there’s not enough oil on your finger to drip onto the eyelid, because… ouch! If you do happen to mistakenly get the oil too close to the eye, use some carrier oil (olive, coconut, etc.) to remove it, don’t try to rinse with water as that will make it worse.
  • Dab just a bit onto the temples, rubbing in a circular motion.
  • Massage a bit of the oil onto the pads underneath the 2nd and 3rd toes of each foot.

You can also diffuse Eucalyptus Radiata. Once again, I applied the oil approximately 3 times a day.

3. Honey Wash

Add a teaspoon or so of raw honey to about a cup of warm water. Stir until it dissolves. Making sure it’s not too hot, apply it to the eye in any of the following ways:

  • Use an eye dropper to drop it into the corner of the eye.
  • Use a small medicine cup and pour it over the eye, beginning at the inner corner. To facilitate this process, have your child lean over the sink with their head to the side and tilted slightly up.
  • Dip a cotton ball in the honey wash (use a clean cotton ball for each eye) and firmly swipe it across the eye, once again beginning at the inner corner.

No matter which method you use, you’ll have to follow up with wiping the eye clean and dry. I applied the honey wash rather frequently through the course of the day, maybe as much as 5 times.

4. Tea Wash

For this remedy, many people recommend chamomile tea, but I didn’t have any, so I used black tea. Based on what I’ve read, you can use pretty much any kind of tea, but if you have chamomile, that might edge out as the best. 

For the tea wash, all you have to do is make a strong cup of tea (I used 2 tea bags) and cool it to a safe temperature before applying. Some people stick the tea bags right on the eyes, but I knew my guys wouldn’t go for that, so I opted for the cotton ball method described above. Works just as well, apparently!

The tea wash I also applied pretty frequently – I alternated this and the honey wash throughout the day.

5. Breastmilk

Now this wasn’t an option for me, but everybody and their brother will tell you that breastmilk knocks out pink eye like nothing else. If you have access to it, go for it! Apply it in much the same manner as you would eye drops.

Of course, it goes without saying that I’m not a doctor; I can’t diagnose illness, and I can’t prescribe medication. I’m just telling you what worked for us and if you decide to try it, you do so at your own risk. 

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Teaching with Heart – Printables from Love. Laugh. Teach.

20% off #teachercreated resources #printablesA couple years ago when I was doing preschool at home with my Certain Little Someone, I came across an amazing resource that I wished had been around back in the day when I was teaching K5. And now that I’m once again teaching preschool (K3 this time), I’m ever so grateful I live in this age of internet technology when I can access creative printables and other teacher tools at the drop of a hat… without dropping a ton of money! 

Teachers Pay Teachers

The resource I speak of is Teachers Pay Teachers, and I love the concept: all the material available is developed by actual teachers who’ve actually used what they’re selling. It’s totally a win-win all around, because the teacher who developed the material gets a little money on the side for all her (or his) hard work, and the teacher who purchases it receives a high-quality resource that does exactly what she needs without costing an arm and a leg.

Another thing I love about Teachers Pay Teachers is that the majority of what is available is very specific, so instead of buying a big huge $20 book full of printables, and using only a few pages, you can find – and pay for – only exactly what you need and only what will work for you.

So far, I haven’t created a lot of my own printables to sell on TPT, but my sister, who teaches K4/K5, has her own store on TPT where she offers printable worksheets for math and phonics. She currently targets a K5/1st grade level with the various worksheets she has available.

file0001694774604Love. Laugh. Teach.

Each of her sets focuses on a particular skill – patterning, for example, or consonant blends – and drills through that skill in a progressive fashion, starting with easier tasks, and continuing until the student achieves mastery of the skill in question. Because of their targeted focus, her printable sets are perfect for anyone who needs extra work on a particular skill, or to use as supplementary seatwork or homework to really internalize a concept.

One of my favorite resources she offers is Simple Addition Word Problems for Beginner Readers. What I love about this one in particular is that it is uniquely designed for emerging readers who are just figuring out how to sound out simple words – I don’t think I’ve ever seen word problem practice worksheets written with that skill level in mind! It’s perfect for your student who loves math but isn’t so great with reading, and/or your little kindergartener/first-grader who could use a little practice with word problem skills but can’t quite read the more complicated ones.

My sister’s store on TPT is very appropriately called “Love. Laugh. Teach.” Since my class is right next door to hers, I can attest to the fact that she loves her students and they love her… and there certainly is a great deal of laughter going on! Follow her on Facebook here.

From now until Tuesday, April 8, you can purchase any product in the Love. Laugh. Teach. store for 20% off! No coupon code or secret handshake necessary. This is your perfect opportunity to check out the wonderfulness that is Teachers Pay Teachers, while supporting a teacher at the same time… and getting a good deal for yourself! I tell ya, win-win all around.

Whether you are a homeschooler or a school teacher, trust me, you’ll love what you find at Teachers Pay Teachers. So what are ya waiting for? Go check it out!

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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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DIY Furniture Polish – 3 Ingredients!

DIY furniture polish #yleo #essentialoils #nontoxic #naturalcleaningFirst off, let me start by being completely authentic with you. The absolute and total truth of the matter is that my natural tendency in life is NOT to polish the furniture. Meh. Polish shmolish. If it were up to me, dusting would be the extent of my furniture care (that and attempting to avoid liquid spillage on its surface).

But then I had two little boys (wonderful, darling boys), and I discovered that two little boys – no matter how small they are – can do quite a number on dining room furniture. Ya know, the wooden kind. Those little hands somehow always get sticky at every meal – or snack –  and those sticky little hands somehow find their way all over the chairs. And all over the table. And the table legs. And the chair legs.

You get my drift.

And suddenly, my polish-hating-self (please note that is “polish” with a lower case “p”) was forced to realize the unwelcome truth that nothing would remove the sticky, gummy residue but… furniture polish. *Sigh*. Believe me, I tried other, simpler methods, but nothing quite did the trick until I actually broke down and polished the dad-blasted thing.

Thankfully, this polishing chore is only necessary once every couple months or so – we get by in the meantime by wiping down every single chair and every inch of the table top with a wet washrag on a daily basis. And thankfully, I’ve come across a super-simple, inexpensive DIY, all-natural (and any other adjectives that apply) furniture polish that literally takes seconds to mix up. And what’s more, it actually works. Woot!

This particular recipe makes a little batch that is just the right amount for our dining room furniture (a table, chairs, and a buffet, which, sadly, is no stranger to sticky fingers either). I don’t make anymore than this at a time because I don’t want to bother with storing it… and I certainly don’t need any reminders hanging around that there is polishing to be done!

DIY Furniture Polish



  1. Pour the ingredients into a small jar. Seal the lid and shake well until combined.
  2. Dip a rag into the mixture, dab it on the furniture, and polish it into the surface.

*You can also use lemon or any other citrus essential oil.

The vinegar is optional, but it does help cut through any sticky stubborn particles of food left behind on the furniture. It also helps the mixture go further and absorb more easily.

Happy polishing!

Well, as happy as it can be. 

I’m happy to recommend Young Living essential oils as the highest quality oil readily available today. So much goes into Young Living’s quality control that sets it head and shoulders above almost any other oil on the market.  Anyone is eligible to open a wholesale membership with Young Living, simply by purchasing a starter kit (these range in price from $40-$150). After that, the only requirement is to purchase $50 within the first year; otherwise there is  no commitment to maintain your wholesale membership status. Check out my Young Living page for more information. 

Uh, and in case it’s not obvious, I’m an independent distributor of Young Living Essential Oils.

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Super Simple Learning {Review & Giveaway}

Win a copy of Super Simple Songs DVD

Win a copy of Super Simple Songs DVD

Boy you guys are spoiled! Right on the heels of the Einkorn Berries giveaway from Tropical Traditions, I have another awesome little gift for one lucky reader.

Today it’s a copy of the “Super Simple Songs” DVD from the folks over at Super Simple Learning, a great company with some wonderful resources for anyone working in early childhood education… or any mom of littles. 

Learning with Songs

My class of 2- and 3-year-olds got to review this gem of a DVD during our weekly Friday morning “movie” time, and they thoroughly enjoyed it. The songs are easy to sing along with and engaging, which can sometimes be quite the feat for children this age. What’s more, I found the graphics and videography to be very professional and well-done, a refreshing sight in a world full of cheap and (let’s be honest) crappy children’s videos.

Trust me, children know when a video is of less than stellar quality, and it won’t hold their attention for very long at all. You’ll have no such problems with this DVD, which was designed to match the pace and attention span of preschool-aged viewers. I think any child 18 months to 3 years of age will have fun watching and singing along with all the short clips found on Super Simple Songs.

Sample Super Simple Learning’s work by checking out their YouTube channelI particularly love the phonetic alphabet song, which introduces the letters by their sound rather than their name. My phonics-teaching heart thrills a little at the thought! Watch it right here:

If you’d like to purchase the DVD for yourself (ahem, I mean for your children), you can get a digital download for $13.99 or order a hard copy for $16.99. Whether or not you’ve embarked on formal preschool education for your sweet little one, the songs on this DVD will help them learn the basics of their age range: letters, numbers, days, months, etc. Plus, they’ll get a chance to work on their motor skills as well by mimicking the actions shown on the video. All of that put to music means a well-rounded mini-education in 30 minutes at a time! 

Super Simple Learning also has some great resources for moms and teachers on their website, including printables, flash cards, crafts, and more.

Win a copy of Super Simple Songs

If you’d like a chance to win this DVD, enter below. Please note this giveaway is only open to US residents aged 18 or older. The giveaway will end on Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at midnight, at which time a winner will be chosen randomly by Giveaway Tools. This giveaway is sponsored and fulfilled by Super Simple Learning, and I am not responsible for ensuring that you receive your prize. The winner will be contacted and will have 48 hours to respond with their information in order to receive their prize, or another winner will be selected.

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Groceries for a Month for a Family of Four

OAMS Monthly Shopping ListI realized recently that it’s been a long time – a really long time – since I’ve updated you all on our OAMS (Once-A-Month-Shopping) experience. It’s been almost 3 years since I last shared a sample monthly shopping trip with you, which is a bit too long, don’t you agree? A lot has changed since then – our location, our shopping habits, and even our diet to a certain extent.

For those of you new to the concept (you can read about it more at length in my eBook, Your Grocery Budget Toolbox, or by browsing through the OAMS archives), OAMS is a method of grocery shopping that saves time and money because you’re only shopping once a month, as the name suggests. Technically, though, I shop twice a month, because I usually include a mini-trip mid-cycle to re-stock produce and milk. However, the bulk of my grocery shopping is done in one weekend every month, and that’s what we eat on until the next monthly shopping trip.

This past weekend was my OAMS trip for March/April (I do my shopping in the middle of the month because that’s when we worked it into our budget), and it involved 6 stores over a span of about 4 or 5 hours (including a pit stop for lunch and a quick trip to the dollar store). Also included in this list is the meat and eggs delivered to me from a local farm. Here’s what I hauled home:

Meat #oams #frugal #wholefoodsMEAT & SEAFOOD

1.6 lbs Wild Alaskan Pollock $6.42

1.3 lbs Ground Lamb $4.58

2 6oz cans Skipjack Tuna (pole-caught) $2.98

8 oz Black Forest Ham $3.49

2 lbs Grass-Fed Ground Beef $11.21

2 Pastured Roasting Chickens $23.81

Produce #oams #frugal #wholefoodsPRODUCE

5 lbs. Grapefruit $1.99

2 lbs. Strawberries $3.99

3 lbs. Organic Apples $4.49

2 pkgs Blueberries $3.18

2 pkgs Blackberries $2.78

1 Mango $0.99

3 lbs Bananas $1.31

5 lbs. Pears $4.49

2 lbs. Organic Carrots $1.78

1 Onion $0.89

4 Organic Avocados $3.99

1 Pineapple $1.99

2.3 lbs Green Beans $2.98

1 bunch Cilantro $0.50

.5 lb Ginger Root $1.24

2.3 lbs Broccoli $2.26

1 Cantaloupe $2.49

.6 lbs Persian Cucumbers $0.63

1 Cauliflower $1.99

1 lb Sweet Potatoes $1.47

2 lbs Grapes $4.24

5 lbs Potatoes $1.99

1 Napa Cabbage $1.12

Dairy #oams #frugal #wholefoodsDAIRY & NON-DAIRY

2 cans Coconut Milk $2.58

2 cans Coconut Milk Cream $4.58

1 pt. Organic Heavy Cream $2.99

2 lbs Organic Yogurt $2.99

2 6oz cups Coconut Milk Yogurt $2.98

<1 lb Goat Cheddar Cheese $4.80

1 pt Open Nature Coffee Cream $1.79

1 gal. Low-Temp Pasteurized Pastured Milk $5.69

1 box Coconut Cream $2.49

Dried Fruit #oams #frugal #wholefoodsDRIED, FROZEN & CANNED FRUITS/VEGGIES

1 lb. Raisins $1.89

1 can Pumpkin $0.89

Organic Banana Chips $2.99

1 bag Frozen Spinach $1.49

1 bag Frozen Organic Corn $1.79

1 bag Frozen Organic Peas $1.99

8 oz Dried Cranberries $1.99

1 lb Prunes $3.29

Flour & Baking Supplies #oams #frugal #wholefoodsBAKING, ETC.

5 lbs White Whole Wheat Flour $2.99

1 lb Quinoa-Brown Rice Pasta $2.99

12oz Spelt Pasta $2.49

1 lb Organic Coconut Sugar $3.99

1 lb Cashew Meal $4.99

1 bottle Organic Ketchup $1.99

12oz Fair Trade Coffee $3.99

2 lbs. Local Maple Syrup $15.99

2 lbs Coconut Oil $15.99

1 large bottle Cinnamon $2.59

4 bottles Organic Grape Juice $10.00

TOTAL COST: $236.41

A few notes about this month’s shopping trip:

I was unusually under my $250 budget – typically I go over by a few dollars!

Yes, this is really all the food we will eat for the next month, EXCEPT that I will go buy some more produce (apples, bananas, pears, etc.) in about two weeks and I will also probably buy another gallon of milk. Do keep in mind that I’m also working off of food I already have here at home -there’s more meat in my freezer left over from previous month’s shopping, as well as potatoes, pasta, rice, beans, and other staples.

Also note that I purchase grains in bulk about twice a year, and that is not included in the regular grocery budget. One of these days I’m going to start buying meat in bulk as well, and that also will come out of a separate budget.

I didn’t think to take pictures of my shopping trip, so the pictures here are just randomness.



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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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Cheese-Stuffed Meat Rolls #BakingMyHeritage

Stuffed Meat Rolls #bakingmyheritage #groundbeef #FinnishcuisineBack in January, I introduced my new obsession, to which I very appropriately ascribed a hashtag, namely, #bakingmyheritage. In case you’ve forgotten the details, my mom is of Finnish descent; and when I was visiting her over Christmas in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, I happened upon The Finnish Cookbook in a consignment store there. I’ve been having tons of fun baking and cooking all sorts of recipes from this awesome treasure of a cookbook. (Oh, and PLUS! It’s a vintage cookbook! You know me and vintage cookbooks...)

Stuffed Meat Rolls #bakingmyheritage #groundbeef #FinnishcuisineMy first post about my Finnish baking adventures was this deliciously awesome (and very easy!) Spice Cake, which I actually plan to bake this weekend for our church’s annual International Banquet.  Today’s post goes in a decidedly different direction with a savory recipe (which I suppose would then be #cookingmyheritage. Nah. Doesn’t have the same ring to it.), known in Finnish as “lihamurekekaaryleet”. 

Stuffed Meat Rolls #bakingmyheritage #groundbeef #FinnishcuisineYeah, we’ll just call ‘em “Stuffed Meat Rolls”. (Although my DH calls them “the bomb”… or maybe it was me that was “the bomb” because I made them. Huh! Anyway, they have his stamp of approval!)

If you want to keep up with my Finnish baking adventures, follow me on Instagram!

Stuffed Meat Rolls #bakingmyheritage #groundbeef #Finnishcuisine


I used 1 pound of ground beef because I didn’t feel like defrosting another package (ha!), and it turned out OK. I only got 12 rolls instead of 16, and the mixture was not quite as sturdy, but they were still very good.

I also used cheese sticks, which were very easy to use.

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5 Steps to a Healthier You {and Me!}

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for supporting Authentic Simplicity!5 steps to a healthier you #gethealthy #health #fitnessOK, folks, there’s nothing earth-shattering or groundbreaking here. Just some simple (do I really need to say that still?!) basic truths that we all need to be reminded of occasionally.

This gentle reminder is intended largely for myself, because I have totally let these healthy habits slide in recent years, and it’s time to reclaim them. I have some minor little health issues that keep niggling at me, and I can’t help but feel that if I just took better care of myself, they would disappear.

So here goes: my 5-step plan to improving my health! These basic steps are applicable to anybody, no matter the circumstances, so this post serves as a reminder for you, too.

Here’s to good health!

5 Steps to Improving Your Health

1. Reduce Caffeine Intake

At this point in time, I’m not ready to say definitively that coffee must be completely eradicated from my diet. However, I’ll readily admit I have allowed myself to indulge in it far too much in the past year or so, and it’s time to cut way back! It used to be that I drank only one cup a day, maybe two. Recently, I’ve been experimenting with various coffee substitutes like Teeccino  and Pero, and they’ve actually been a lot more satisfying than I had anticipated. I’ve also started drinking more tea, especially chai, which delivers a nice bold flavor that I love, and helps me forget that it’s not coffee. I still do drink coffee in the morning, but I’ve successfully eliminated caffeinated beverages in the evening, and my overall coffee consumption is back to no more than two a day.

2. Drink More Water {And Then Some}

I have always, always been bad at this: I can remember even as a child my mother telling me to drink more water. I’m pretty sure that, as a result, I’m walking around with a permanent case of dehydration, and I’ve got to get better at increasing my water intake! I’ve already started this one (so maybe it should have been step one?) by drinking a glass before going to work, drinking two glasses at work, and then drinking at least 2 more glasses in the evening. That’s probably 60-75% of what I should be drinking, so I’m getting there!

3. Exercise

Ugh. I hate exercising, frankly. I just don’t find it fun – I’m totally not one of those perky kind of fitness people. (Sorry if I totally wrecked all your illusions about me there.) I do enjoy Pilates, and when I have exercised regularly in the past, that’s been my chosen poison (albeit a relatively pleasant one). However, recently, I finally took the plunge and bought Teresa Tapp’s  book “Fit and Fabulous in 15 Minutes a Day”, which details her basic “T-Tapp” workout. I’m currently on Day 4 of the 2-week “bootcamp” kickstart, and am anxious to see how it goes. If it works as well as everyone says it does, it seems like it’s pretty much the perfect exercise routine! I’m also interested in purchasing a small trampoline for exercise purposes – it seems like a fun and energetic way to stay fit and healthy, yes?!

4. Avoid Sugar

I go back and forth on this one; sometimes I’m good at this, and sometimes I’m not. Back before I had kids, I used to be perfectly happy going a whole day without anything sweet; but I find that harder and harder to do as I get older. Generally, my rule nowadays is one sweet a day. When I stick to that, I feel so much better! I’m hoping that I can get to a place where I am once again allowing days to pass before I realize I haven’t had any sugar… that would be marvelous!

5. Sleep!

This is another one I’ve already started working on. Over the holidays, my DH and I developed a really bad habit of staying up until almost midnight, and I feel like it’s really taken a toll on me. Now I’m trying to go to bed between 10 and 10:30, with a wake-up time of around 7:00, which gives me 8+ hours of sleep. I feel so much better when I manage to do this, so hopefully that feeling will motivate me to continue!

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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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