Posted in Featured Inspiration, Mental Health, Quick Project, sensory processing disorder, Uncategorized

Summer Break: Parents, Don’t let it Break You!

Parents, need ideas to keep kiddos occupied so you don’t go insane…without micromanaging their every move this summer?  AND without them being glued to screens?  I’ll be honest…I was kind of dreading summer, until I remembered I’m in charge of the way things go, and if I determine to plan a fun summer, I’ll most likely get it!  Our family vacation will provide a change of scenery (and checking out dinosaur bones!) but after that, I know I will come back to our everyday reality, and when I do, I’m prepared!  I’ll share what we’re up to as we go along!

The key isn’t to smash a billion activities into the weeks during summer.  That will add stress (to mom, especially), even if you are keeping everybody occupied.  The solution is providing opportunities for self-led play, discovery, and creativity.  And I feel really lucky that my daughter received an ideal birthday gift for montessori-type fun just in time for summer!

This kinetic sand gets my vote for most amount of active playtime in one sitting!  So far, they’ve been playing with it more than any other toy or activity opportunity in our house.  This week since we’ve been back from our trip to Ohio over Memorial day (when we weathered a tornado), it’s been out by my kids’ own volition three days in a row, over an hour each day at a time, and for several hours yesterday morning! And it’s already been out this morning again!

My kids are 5 an 6, but I think it would be a hit for younger and older kids as well! I even like playing with it because it doesn’t leave a weird feeling on my hands like play dough can. 

It’s easy to sweep up if some falls on the floor (but if I’d thought to have them use a rimmed tray that wouldn’t have happened), no drying and gunking things up!  (In fact, another part of occupying themselves has been customizing it with glitter…and you know how glitter gets everywhere…and setting them loose with a cordless hand vac like this one:

Which of course with a lot of praise about their skill and thoroughness makes for a proud, happy kiddo…and mom.)  Check out the full kinetic sand assortment on Amazon if you want to see the different varieties…dino digs, sand castles, Paw Patrol, etc.!)

#Summerbreak #summeractivity #notbored

(*For your convenience, I’ve used affiliate links to the products on Amazon. Saves you time finding the product I’ve talked about, no extra cost if you purchase the item, and helps support me in creating more content!  Thanks so much!)

Posted in Gluten Free, healthy diet, recipe, saving money

Post-Easter Instant Pot Ham and Bean Soup

I bought my Instant Pot  in Nov. 2016…I have used it about every day, multiple times a day, and can’t imagine my gluten-free life without it!!  It reduces my stress levels involving food prep significantly, especially since my diet has had to evolve so greatly.

This is one of my son’s favorite soups, which he calls “camping soup” ever since we read about what cowboys ate back in the day.  Recently I became aware that onions and garlic really upset my stomach (possibly due to chronic SIBO issues) and I had to start removing that from my cooking.  While beans are not Low FODMAP in general, they do not bother my stomach when I’ve soaked them overnight.

(We’ve also been using these digestive enzyme capsules for myself and my husband, and for the kids chewable digestive enzymes , and nobody felt bad or gassy after eating.  With chronic fatigue and high stress overall in our family, I felt it necessary to use digestive enzymes for a time until we’re seeing improvement.  After all, the saying “You are what you eat” is not so accurate; it’s more like, “You are what you absorb.”  Malabsorption issues (leaky gut) can do a number on your health no matter what organic, healthy stuff you’re eating.  If you’re not digesting well, nothing else goes well, at least in my experience.)

I keep shredded or sliced celery and carrots in the freezer for easy meal prep. This turned out so tasty that my son, who is learning a lot of new vocabulary, told me “Congratulations for how well this turned out.” hahaa

IP Ham and Bean Camping Soup

1 lb.  soaked beans (I used red beans, white beans or other are good too)
1 lb ham or ham bone with meat
2 c. shredded carrots
1/2 c. diced celery/celery leaves
2 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. smoked paprika (optional, but adds depth of flavor)
2 qt.s broth or filtered water, up to the fill line on the IP
3/4 c sliced fresh chives (or 1 Tbsp dried)
shake or two of cherrywood smoked sea salt
pepper to taste

1. Combine the above ingredients in the instant pot.
2.  Set IP to manual for 25 minutes, and release pressure naturally, or 30 minutes and release when it beeps.

( These are affiliate links. I hope to save you time searching for something I mention that you may find helpful, too.  If you make a purchase there is no extra cost to you, but it provides me with a small commission as an Amazon Associates member that helps me as I continue providing content for you! Thanks for your support!)

Posted in Day in the life of a mom, Mental Health, sensory processing disorder

My Favorite SPD Books and Resources for Families

When my son began having disproportionately large meltdowns around the age of two over how things felt and big emotions, and in turn I was struggling to parent him well, figuring out how his mind works really helped me.  I read all these books and they helped me piece together the puzzle of my precious, smart, but inflexible and easily frustrated child.  I hope you can find encouragement and enlightenment in them as well! But first, check out this helpful checklist of common symptoms of SPD in age-specific groupings: https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/child-learning-disabilities/sensory-processing-issues/sensory-processing-issues-what-youre-seeing

( These are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associates member, I hope to save you time searching for something I mention that you may find helpful, too.  If you make a purchase there is no extra cost to you, but it provides me with a small commission that helps me as I continue providing content for you! Thanks for your support!)

Posted in Uncategorized

My Biggest Goal yet…a goal within a goal..

I just posted about committing to paint more and doing a portrait for my friend, and here’s the video of the process below.  It was actually my biggest goal yet since starting my productivity journal.  But it got even bigger when I decided to document the process and make a youtube video about it.

The editing process was a BEAST! I lost four hours of editing on Shutcut due to a corrupt file.  I like to stick with something when I learn how to use it…but man…I think I’m going to switch to something else after Shotcut did a LOT of malfunctioning on me, quitting and kicking me out of the program a lot.  Phew.  May have even been more agonizing to me than labor.  But, I hope people enjoy the video and are inspired to set their own creative goals!

Posted in Uncategorized

Got Creative Goals? Why they’re Worth Pursuing in my life:

Have you thought of yourself as a creative person yet realized that you feel like you have too much to do to take the time to be creative?  That has been me.  I keep my calendar pretty simplistic to keep stress low. (In my opinion, that’s a MUST when you have either a chronic health challenge [for me currently it’s the hormone and digestion/food intolerances issues mainly] or a high-support-needs child or two).  Navigating life’s challenges while trying to stay sane AND keep the house from becoming a complete disaster while also maintaining some semblance of a social life left me feeling like my schedule was pretty crowded.  So I’d say I didn’t have time for anything else.  I believed that, too.

And the truth is, I DON’T have time for things that cause more stress and drain me. I’m in a season where I do not volunteer much unless it doesn’t stress me out, because I can love my family and others better when I’m not a cranky ball of angst. I also recently stopped attending a moms’ group that has been so meaningful to me EVEN THOUGH I love it!  Why? I need to give my “best yes,” and right now there isn’t enough capacity in me to attend that and also build the relationships I’ve been feeling led to grow more in my community.  

Yet I realized something.  You know the crazy thing about productive, resilient, remarkable people?  They don’t have any more hours in the day than you or I yet somehow they MAKE time for exceptional activities.  So I thought, Well, I want to be resilient and not settle for merely surviving!  I need to make time for things that energize me, give me a zest for life, which in turn helps me be a better version of myself for the world!

I value art and consider myself a creative person, yet that was one area I had let go to the wayside.  I’m not sure how to express it, but doing art (or a garden, etc.) awakens something in a person, at least in me, that invigorates the soul.  I wanted more of that along my journey out of survival mode.

In learning about goal-setting and knowing the fact that 40% more of our goals are accomplished when we write them down, I committed to doing more artwork.  My friend was the catalyst for action when she saw one of my smaller pieces of art I did 10 years ago and challenged me to do more.  I’ve done maybe one painting a year to give as a gift the past 10 years, if that.  So when she said, “Will you do one for me?” I felt like that was confirmation and the reason to get to it!

As an aside, realistically, artists cannot do art upon request to give to people for free very often, if at all in some cases (especially if that is their livelihood).  Not to be too woo-woo, but artists put some of their heart into every piece of art.  I personally have to consider the pull on my time taking me away from more focused attention on my family, or say, re-organizing that disaster of a basement, if I’m doing art for someone else.  But her genuine enthusiasm and encouragement for something that was already stirring in my heart before she even spoke it just made me want to say yes, kind of as a thank-you for being the impetus.  

Saying a goal out loud to another person and putting a time frame on it helps light your fire.  Also, doing my Youtube channel with the idea of living creatively and intentionally also was something that motivated me.  If I’m hoping to share my love for intentionality and creativity to encourage others to be creative…well, I kind of have to be actively and intentionally creative.

Doing the painting was not only an exercise in goal-setting, reigniting a passion, and connecting with my friend, it was also just about being.  What do I mean? I had to stop all the commotion of my life and just be in order to do that, to be still with paint and a paintbrush and a blank canvas. I had to be an artist who knew what her subject was.

So I did a portrait of my friend and her two cultures.  I wanted to capture what matters to her and who she is as a person–someone with a big heart. The world is better and more beautiful with her and her perspective, which is the sentiment behind my painting.  The validation of that,  the whole process of goal-setting and creating art, and growing along the way makes it worthwhile to me.

 

 

Posted in Edible Awesome, Featured Inspiration, Gluten Free, healthy diet, recipe, saving money

5-minute DIY Cream of Mushroom Soup Recipe! (using TJ’s Umami seasoning)

I LOVE mushrooms.  Chunky or not, they’re right up there with olives for me on my list of top flavor pops.  But I understand that not everybody is a fan of their texture, which is why I am super excited about Trader Joe’s Mushroom & Company Multipurpose Umami Seasoning Blend.  First of all, I can have all their ingredients, which in seasoning blends is becoming more and more rare for me (they usually have MSG or soy mixed in, or tomato, or something like that on my intolerance/list of no-no’s).  It’s just porcini and white button mushroom powder, salt, dried onion powder, ground mustard seed, crushed red pepper, black pepper, and dried thyme.

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I’ve heard umami described as that “something something” that just makes a dish taste more enjoyable.  For my sensational kids  and husband (others might call them picky, but sensory processing disorder is a thing), texture with food is a biggie, and now I can use this mushroom-packed powder in recipes without them detecting squishy little chunks of “yuck” yum. ( Please note it does have the crushed red pepper in it, so if you are sensitive to spiciness, go easy on it.  I’m not a lover of too much spice, but I do like the level in the recipe below. )

We got the flu, and it was not fun.  I made a bunch of chicken broth that week to try to speed the recovery process, and after chicken noodle soup, I wanted to make GF stuffed manicotti.  My mom’s no-bake recipe for manicotti growing up used a can of condensed cream of mushroom soup.  As I have to read food labels for gluten, MSG, soy, etc., I find it rather challenging at least and expensive for sure to buy considering those parameters. 

When I went GF and dairy free, I knew there were ways to make your own.  But previously, when I used pre-cut mushrooms, it came out gritty when the ones I got turned out to have dirt in them.  Now that’s disgusting! So this time I wasn’t going to mess with actual mushrooms, plus I was sick and wanted something easy, and considering the aforementioned sensory issues, was delighted that I’d recently bought 3 of the mushroom seasoning mix jars at TJ’s the week before.  (A risky move, since I’d never tried it before.  But as I said–mushrooms=love.  So that was enough for me. )

Below is the Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Cream of Mushroom Soup Recipe I came up with in order to use it in the Instant Pot Manicotti recipe I attempted!  (Son asked for seconds of the manicotti, so since he’s generally the pickiest of them all, I consider that a win!)  I used the organic chicken stock (a little thicker than broth because it uses the bones, too) I’d made, which was already flavorful, but I am sure you could use store-bought as well.  I also used my GF flour blend mix.  This recipe only takes about 5 minutes to make!
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Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Cream of Mushroom Soup Recipe

6 TBSP gluten-free flour

2 TBSP dairy-free butter (or coconut oil, ghee or regular butter if you can tolerate those.              I used nitrite-free bacon grease since I am not opposed to some fat in the diet for                good hormone synthesis.)

2 Cups organic chicken stock

2 TBSP TJ’s Umami Mushroom seasoning

1 cup dairy-free milk (or regular works too)

Directions:  (You could choose to saute’ some onions prior to step one…but I was tired and didn’t).

1. Melt dairy-free butter (or whatever fat/oil fits your diet) and mix the 6 TBSP GF flour in to make a roux.

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2.  Pour chicken stock and stir with a whisk/fork until the roux has dissolved.

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3. While stirring, mix in the Umami seasoning.

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4.  Keep stirring occasionally until you see bubbles and thickening occurring.
(At this point I kind of wanted to eat it all like that, condensed-soup style, but I needed it for my next recipe.  If you want to freeze this recipe, stop here before adding the dairy-free milk, which you can add after thawing).

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5.  If you want it to be like soup and not condensed cream of mushroom soup, add 1/4 to 1 cup dairy-free or regular milk and stir until incorporated.Easy pleasey!  (Not peasy…there are no peas in this recipe.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

A Portal to Discovery

I moved a lot growing up (and since getting married for my husband’s job) and there were two places we’d check out first to get settled into a new location.  First, as people of faith, we’d find a church which would be our surrogate family in our new location.  This last time almost three years ago, I was really struggling with hormone issues I didn’t know about and it felt like chronic fatigue, anxiety and depression.  The playgroup and moms’ group at the church down the road was a place of acceptance and care where I could recharge and connect with other moms a while with my kids under the care of some grandmotherly-type volunteers.

The second place we’d find was a library.  I believe libraries, too, are key for a healthy community.  It’s a place where you do not have to have anything to offer, and yet be given so much.  There you can find tools for life, productivity, and your interests in the self-help section, or just some fun entertainment or serious research. I used to joke that I need a wheelbarrow for every library trip…but now I just got one of these carts and let the book-grabbing spree begin!  What most people don’t know is that the library is a richly experiential place too, with clubs, classes, and opportunities for even things like 3D printing or fishing!

When I was a kid, I used to listen to Adventures in Odyssey, a radio broadcast where fictional characters would learn life lessons by climbing into something called the Imagination Station and traveling somewhere, maybe back in time to a historic event, and seeing for themselves.  To me that’s what the library is as well.  A portal to discovery, awakening the imagination and possibilities.
(By the way, several of my friends work at libraries, and they’re some of the coolest people around because they are passionate about discovery, too!)

I made the following video to share my excitement for our real-life imagination station.  In my opinion, it is the best trick in the bag for moms.  Rainy day?  Whiney kids? Need a change of scenery?  Trying to save money but have the urge to shop? Trying to be a minimalist but want all the books and things?  The library is the solution! Give your kids an experience, and give them the keys to their own entertainment instead of trying so hard to entertain them yourself!  Get them to love books and learning so they can be equipped to cure their own boredom.  And that can start even before they can read!  Picture books are a wonderful imagination-prompter.

You may be surprised what is waiting at your local library!

Posted in Day in the life of a mom, Featured Inspiration, minimalism, Ponderings about life

Still Learning

While I enjoy being creative with the video editing itself as I attempt this Youtube channel endeavor, it has been a struggle learning the right way to store the videos (and not lose all my many hours of edited videos.  *sigh*).  My phone quickly runs out of storage, so my husband showed me how to use the network storage.  However, if a video I’ve used in Shotcut is no longer where it was originally accessed when editing, the edited video shows up as missing, and the Shotcut file won’t play.  Heartbreak, truly.  Oh well, live and learn.  The beat goes on!

Here’s the channel intro I did, and a few other videos are in the editing/planning process.

My favorite part, as always, is my dog Kody (he’s a 4-yr.-old chihuahua-shitzhu mix) wanting to be in the spotlight on my lap or racing around at the end of the video.   But the Fabric Magic embroidery project/Instant Pot part was also a lot of fun.

Posted in Day in the life of a mom, Mental Health, Ponderings about life

From Survival Mode to Creative Zone Again

When life was just about day-to-day survival and I wasn’t feeling very creative, I knew I needed to do something to get un-stuck. Four years of deeply wading through the weight of everything that was keeping me in survival mode, praying for hope and joy despite my circumstances, and trying to discover what my unique purpose was, and something finally started to grow in me.  It started with me determining to let go of anything that was weighing me down.

First, I got some counseling to uncover the root of my anxiety and start working on better ways to cope with stress.  Soapbox moment: I wish everyone thought of counseling as normal and ok, like a tuneup on your car, instead of viewing it as a stigma. (BTW, if you think you just can’t afford a counselor, there are sometimes scholarship programs available.  You might have to do some digging, but you’re worth the effort! There are also low-fee options like TalkSpace, $25 for a month and be able to text a counselor when you need.  Michael Phelps shares his experience with therapy here: at Talkspace ).

We all have issues (like the pressurizing problem of perfectionism) and limiting beliefs. It’s not a mark of failure, but of wisdom to ask for help to get you optimized.
and having an unbiased individual to help sort them out is kind of like hiring a professional organizer who helps you declutter and put things in a more ideal setup.  

Speaking of which, back before I ever heard of Konmari, I thought I needed to get my house organized, because my mess was overwhelming me.  That ushered me into the idea of decluttering, which ushered me into the realm of minimalism (which, for me, isn’t a strict set of rules, but rather the idea of not keeping more than I can deal with without overwhelm, and only what adds value and beauty to our lives.)  Which is where I am now, trying my utmost to live intentionally.

Intentionality changed me from somebody who could barely peel herself out of bed in the morning at 8 a.m., who dreaded the sound of busy little bodies awake before me (although I love them dearly), and had little to no structure in my day to someone who is awake closer to 5 a.m., who has goals for the day and longer term, and a plan to achieve them.  It changed me from someone who thought it would be a good idea to exercise to someone who regularly walks a mile (and sometimes my kids do it with me).  It changed me from someone who thought I’d like to paint more to someone who gets out the paints and creates.

Intentionality starts with better habits, which create momentum.

As a SAHM, recognizing I’m the CEO and in charge of the way my life and home works has been key to changing what I didn’t like and what wasn’t working.  We all have the same amount of hours in our days, so learning better time management (essentially self-management) has been essential for awakening a dream in me.  Putting plans  into place for better health and productivity has reduced overwhelm and given me the space to be creative.  I feel less like I’m surviving and more like I’m on my way to truly thriving creatively again.  My dream is being able to encourage others to do the same, because it’s powerfully and literally life-changing.

Leave a comment (scroll allll the way down on this post) sharing your dream and one thing you could do to get started on it!  If you don’t have one yet, share what’s weighing you down from getting there, and if you have a step to take to overcome it today!