December Special!

If you’re looking for some great chapter books for kids, we’re having a big SALE! sale

Choose any 10 books for just $25 (includes shipping!).


Earth Paste – A Natural Tub and Tile Cleaner

Here is my favorite cleaner for the sink and tub. A year ago, I finished up my bottle of Soft Scrub and replaced it with this totally natural version. I love it!


In a bowl, mix 1 c. baking soda with ¼ c. liquid Castile soap.

Add 1 T. water. Mix with a fork until smooth.

Lastly, add 1 T. distilled white vinegar.

The mixture will foam nicely as you mix in the vinegar.

Spoon the cleaner into an 8 oz. plastic or glass wide mouth container

with a lid that seals tightly. (I use a 2 cup glass bowl with a plastic lid)


TO USE: Simply scoop out a small amount with your hand, a soft cloth or sponge and scrub clean the dirty item (sink bowl, tub walls, tub floor). If the mixture has dried a bit, add a little more warm water and stir. (Mine has never dried out and needed this, however.) When you’re finished, rinse the surface with warm water or vinegar. (I just use water!)

I think this is a fantastic cleaner!  It works really well.  I don’t inhale any noxious fumes when cleaning. I don’t need to wear a mask or gloves. I don’t even have to open the window and turn on the fan! Oh – and my kids can clean with it, too!  (Always a bonus!)

P.S. I’ve purchased Dr.Bronner’s Liquid Castile Soap in a 32 oz. bottle for $14 at a local big box store. (That’ll make 16 batches of the above recipe. In other words, it’ll last a LONG time!)  Smaller size bottles are also available.

Homemade Hot Cocoa – “The Mitten” Method

Hot chocolate recipes for the corn-free, soy-free and dairy-free individual are hard to come by. This is a very tasty recipe that works splendidly! It is taken from Jan Brett’s picture book, The Mitten, and slightly altered to fit our dietary restrictions.

Hot Cocoa

½ – 1 c. sugar (I use just ½ c.)

½ c. cocoa powder

¼ t. salt

2/3 c. water

4 c. milk (I use 2 c. Almond Milk and 2 additional cups of water)

2 t. vanilla

Combine the first 4 ingredients in a saucepan. Cook until just about to boil. Add milk and continue stirring until heated through (do not boil!). Add vanilla. Remove from heat. Stir. Serve.

Jan Brett’s The Mitten is not only superb for its tasty recipe, it is also an adorable book to read!

Here’s a summary of the story: When Nicki drops one of his new white mittens in the snow, he doesn’t even notice it’s missing. One by one, the woodland animals discover the mitten and crawl inside, each one larger than the last: a mole, a rabbit, even a big, brown bear! Several animals sleep snugly in Nicki’s lost mitten until the bear sneezes!

Enjoy that hot cocoa!

Black Friday and Black Holes

Once a year, a large number of Americans disappear from their homes on Black Friday. They disappear into the world of SALES. They wait in line as long as needed… starting at hours ahead of time for deals that go into effect the next day. They shop like maniacs until their feet go numb or their credit cards are maxed! Get ready, shoppers!  That day is quickly approaching!!!

An even larger segment of the population disappears regularly, however. Not just once a year, around Thanksgiving. Oh, no. This segment of the planet’s population disappears for hours at a time, every single day. They disappear into a Black Holea huge black hole that eats away at their time when they visit Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or other social media sites.


* 1 in every 9 people on EARTH is on Facebook

* People spend 700 billion MINUTES per MONTH on Facebook

* YouTube has 490 million UNIQUE users who visit every month

* Wikipedia hosts 17 million articles

* People upload 3,000 images to Flickr every MINUTE

* 190 million average Tweets PER DAY on Twitter

Black Friday shopping is one thing.  The Black Hole of social media is an entirely different matter. I found a very interesting article by Dr. Sylvia Hart Frejd at Dr. Frejd contends that ‘the digital invasion has stolen from our real life and relationships’.  She quotes from a Newsweek article printed earlier this summer that reveals that “the Internet can make us more lonely and depressed—and may even create more extreme forms of mental illness. Our digitized minds can scan like those of drug addicts, and normal people are breaking down in sad and seemingly new ways”.

Frejd shares a challenge to BE WHERE YOUR BUTT IS. She lets us in on the digital boundaries she’s chosen to set up for herself and she invites us to take a digital fast.

 “Living intentionally in this digital world means

you will need to AWAKEN to your relationship with technology,

ASSESS what technology has stolen from you,

and then RECLAIM your real life and real relationships”,

Frejd says.

I challenge you to go to The Digital Invasion website and take a peak around. Technology is not bad; it’s the use of it that we need to discipline. Black Friday shopping is one thing.  The Black Hole of social media is an entirely different matter.


Live FULLY, Fully Thankful

“How,” Ann Voskamp wondered, “do we find joy

in the midst of deadlines, debt, drama, and daily duties?

What does a life of gratitude look like when your days

are gritty, long, and sometimes dark?

What is God providing here and now?”

 While the turkey is baking in the oven, is it difficult to come up with a list of things that you’re thankful for this Thanksgiving? When you look around your home, your neighborhood, and our nation and world, do your eyebrows furrow in concern?

Regardless of the circumstances, you’ll find a ‘dare to live fully right where you are’ in Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts.  I was challenged and encouraged by her beautiful, poetic writing. I was moved to “pay tribute to God by paying attention”. Paying attention so that I could see God every day…not only in the good, but also in the hard, and in the seemingly mundane.

Here are 10 of my favorite lines from One Thousand Gifts.

  • When I give thanks for the seemingly microscopic, I make a place for God to grow within me.
  • We need to learn to be content, to find joy in all things…and learning requires practice. Practice is the hardest part of learning.
  • How my eyes see, perspective, is my key to enter into His gates. I can only do so with thanksgiving. If my inner eye has God seeping up through all things, then can’t I give thanks for anything? And if I can give thanks for the good things, the hard things, the absolute everything, I can enter the gates to glory. Living in His presence is fullness of joy – and seeing shows the way in.
  • It is impossible to give thanks and simultaneously feel fear. This is the anti-anxiety medicine I try to lay in my wiped-open palm every day.
  • God gives gifts and I give thanks and I unwrap the gift given: joy!
  • Joy and pain, they are but two arteries of the one heart that pumps through all those who don’t numb themselves to really living.
  • Take what is given…say it is enough…and give thanks.
  • I redeem time from neglect and apathy and inattentiveness when I swell with thanks and weigh down the moment.
  • While I may not always feel joy, God asks me to give thanks in all things, because He knows that the feeling of joy begins in the action of thanksgiving.
  • Giving thanks is the way we practice the presence of God…We don’t have to change what we see. Only the way we see.

In One Thousand Gifts, we follow Voskamp as she learns to give “thanks for the life she already had” in order to find the life she’d always wanted. That is the challenge I walked away with as well. It is what I’m striving to do today, to give thanks for the way things are at this very moment. For “the secret to joy is to keep seeking God where we doubt He is.”

In November of 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln said, “It has seemed to me fit and proper that the gracious gifts of the most High God be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged.” This Thanksgiving, let’s do what is ‘fit and proper’; let’s acknowledge ‘the gracious gifts of the most High God’. Let’s practice the presence of God by ‘giving thanks’, by accepting the gift of now as it is. Remember, “we don’t have to change what we see. Only the way we see”.

This Thanksgiving, may you live FULLY… fully THANKFUL!


If you’ve enjoyed this little taste of Ann Voskamp’s writing,

she has a blog that is well worth checking out.

Her writing hits you at the gut level… where you feel it in a deep way.

She is sincere and passionate and easy to connect with.

Trophy Buck, Trophy Child

All over the countryside, men and women are unpacking their camouflaged clothing and sighting in their weapons. Opening Day for Rifle Season here in Michigan is November 15. Daring Does and Baby Bambi – hide! The woods will be crawling with gun-toting hunters before the break of day on Thursday. And Big Bucks – run for cover! You’re the one everyone is hoping for. To have a magnificent rack on display would be, for many, a dream come true. But it’d ruin your life, Deer!

All over the country, moms and dads are preparing to put their children on display. The kid’s future in their sights, parents are doing everything they can think of to give their ‘little precious’ an advantage, the opportunities they (the parents) never had, one leg up on the competition. To have a magnificent child on display would be, for many, a dream come true. But it may ruin their life, my dear!

A few weeks back I heard an interview with Ted Cunningham on his latest book (released in September) Trophy Child. He talked about how parents today are doing everything they can to promote and exhibit their children. A trophy child. I immediately thought of the many hunters I know and their tireless pursuit for “the big one”. The trophy buck.

The book sounds intriguing. I have not read this book – yet. Another book, similar in topic, that I have read is titled “Raising Kids for True Greatness” by Tim Kimmel. I would highly recommend either one.

Sometimes it’s easier to get advice from someone on the ‘outside’ – not our neighbor or co-worker or mother-in-law. Sometimes hearing what we really NEED to hear from an unbiased source lets us look a bit more objectively at our lives.

‘Saving parents from performance, preparing children for something greater than themselves’ is the subtitle to Cunningham’s book, Trophy Child.

When I get down the road a ways and can look in the rearview mirror of life, I’ll be able to see things more clearly… but then it’ll be too late to put the van in reverse! Reading books like this help me to see life (and parenting issues in particular) through a clearer perspective. Did I ever tell you about my five fabulous children? Oh yea – no more trophies on display! ______________________________________________________

Want more info on Trophy Child? The following is part of an article from where Cunningham, author of parenting books such as Great Parents, Lousy Lovers and Young and in Love, was interviewed on this latest title.

According to Pastor Ted Cunningham, “Parents today are accelerating the childhood milestone and delaying the adulthood milestones. For the first 10 years or so we push our kids with programs like ‘My Baby Can Read,’ potty training by first birthday, accelerated reading, gifted programs, and launching their professional sports career in kindergarten,” Cunningham continued. “Our children become conditioned to run, run, run.

Then at age 10-13 (tween years) something happens. Our children begin to differentiate and separate from mom and dad. They pick their own clothes, friends and activities and mom and dad freak out and start to apply the brakes. This is when we start delaying the adulthood milestones. We pushed our kids for 10 years, now we want them to slow down and not ‘Grow up too fast.’ I think the teen years are more about a parenting crisis than a teen crisis.”

The Christian author noted that Scripture speaks to two seasons of life: childhood and adulthood. “The real question is when does your child become an adult? 13? 18? 22? With prolonged adolescence, some are holding off adulthood well into their 30s. When will you allow them to take on adult responsibilities, and that includes their own opinions and choices?” he asked.

“Don’t bubble wrap and helmet your kids for everything. Be most concerned about their character, not comfort.” “Our character is developed through difficulty. Take a step back from the playground and allow your child to develop those critically important life negotiation skills without interference from a helicopter parent,” Cunningham concluded.

Yummy Gluten~ Free Bread (to bake in the oven)

Yummy Gluten~ Free Bread (to bake in the oven)

3 eggs (room temperature)

1T. apple cider vinegar

¼ c. oil

¼ c. honey

2 c. liquid warmed (milk/water)

3T. coconut oil or applesauce

1T. yeast (in a bit of the above warmed milk w/ 1T. sugar)…let rise

3 ¼ c. bread flour mix (I use 1 ½ c.brown rice, 1c.white rice, ½ c. potato starch, ¼ c.tapioca flour)

1t. salt

1T. xantham gum

¼ c. millet (optional)

2T. flaxseed meal (optional)


DIRECTIONS: Put wet ingredients in a mixing bowl (after yeast has risen).  Slowly add dry ingredients.  Beat on high for 3 ½ minutes.

Grease and flour 2 pans. (8×4 loaf pan)   Put batter in pans. Smooth tops.  Cover w/ paper towel.  Let rise about 45 minutes.

Uncover and bake in preheated 375* oven for 25 minutes… then cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes longer.  Remove from pans and cool completely before cutting.


TIPS: Delicious warm, yet always easiest to slice thin when totally cool.  Refrigerate or freeze leftover slices. Best to reheat or toast GF bread for sandwiches, etc.


For an easy Pizza night, simply use your bread slices as crust…  Lay them on the pan, top the bread with sauce, meat, cheese, veggies, etc. and bake them in the oven (400* for 8-10 min??).