Good Livin’

“A good life is when you

assume nothing,life3

do more,

need less,

smile often,

dream big,

laugh a lot,

and realize how blessed you are.”

 

Living “a good life” takes intentionality. We can’t just sit back and wait to see what’ll happen… and then REACT. We must be purposeful.

I enjoy writing about my view of a good life and have dedicated part of my blog to highlighting choices we’ve made to live in a health-conscious way.

After 26 months at Reflections Of A Homemaker, I thought I’d offer some abridged portions of previous posts from the “HEALTHY LIVING” section of my blog.  cropped-beautiful-nature.jpg

If you’re intrigued by any of the samples, simply click on the colored words. It’ll take you right to that article. Hope you learn something new!

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~ Laughter is a wonderful medicine. Research conducted by the UCLA Medical School found that there are physical benefits of happiness… and that laughter and joy are the perfect antidote for stress. Did you know that the diaphragm, thorax, abdomen, heart, and lungs are given a massage during a hearty laugh? Yep. During a laugh, you get a massage on the inside! A hearty laugh is great therapy for the body, soul, and spirit. And it’ll build fun memories with your family, too

~ As the weather gets colder and the sniffles begin, add ‘whole chicken’ to your grocery list. According to Sally Fallon in her book Nourishing Traditions, “Properly prepared, meat stocks are extremely nutritious, containing the minerals of bone, cartilage, marrow and vegetables as electrolytes, a form that is easy to assimilate.” Both delicious and nutritious, chicken stock has been tagged as ‘superior’ to everything else, even more relaxing than Tylenol. ‘Good broth’, says a South American proverb, ‘resurrects the dead.’  Just don’t wait until then to try this recipe!

~ 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, Earth Paste. Wait till you see how easy it is to make! And when you read the ingredient list… you’ll love it even more!

~ Perspiring is the pits, isn’t it? It’s just awful! But let’s be honest. We all sweat. Sweating is a natural, normal way for your body to rid itself of toxins… but it doesn’t have to cause you to smell bad. Check out this simple deodorant recipe.

~ Here are some recipes for those holiday leftovers including steps to make the wonderful Creamy Crockpot Turkey Spaghetti.

~ Last winter when my six-year-old-sweetie began coughing and coughing and coughing, I grabbed for the Vicks Vapor Rub. When I turned it around to check for an expiration date and found, instead, an ingredient list that included petrolatum and turpentine*, I decided to check into making my own. Here are the instructions for a homemade vapor rub.

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Until next week, be intentional about living the good life

by realizing how blessed you ALREADY are!

 

 

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Trail Time

Scenic drives and nature hikes. I don’t think there’s a better season for those things than autumn.trail1

Fall officially began on September 23 this year and over the past two weeks the weather has been absolutely glorious in my neck of the woods.

As part of our schooling, we aim to go on an outdoor adventure once a week. It’s a right in the schedule book. But because it’s been so beautiful lately, we’ve gotten in a few more walks than normal – and I’m L.O.V.I.N.G. it!

A hearty hike will often lead to a hearty appetite, and I found a recipe for “Trail Mix Cookies” in my mother’s recipe box. They’re scrumptious and are a perfect way to end a walk in the woods.

If you need a new cookie recipe, maybe you could give this one a try. And if you need a new outlook on life, maybe you could try a scenic drive or a nature hike. There’s nothing quite like enjoying God’s creation to give a person a fresh outlook on life!

 

Trail Mix Cookies

1 c. sunflower seed butter

1 c. sweetened coconut flakes

½ c. semi-sweet chocolate chips*

½ c. dried cranberries

½ c. dates, chopped

¼ c. brown sugar

¼ c. sunflower seedstrail2

¼ c. maple syrup

1 large egg

½ t. vanilla

½ t. baking soda

¼ t. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Put all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well (using a stand mixer).

Drop by generous tablespoon full on a parchment lined cookie sheet.

Bake 12-14 minutes or until set but still soft.

Cool on the cookie sheet.

Store leftovers in a covered container.

Can be frozen.

 

*Warning: Most chocolate chips contain soy and some contain dairy. Read your labels.trail

However, if you use Enjoy Life brand chocolate chips you’ll have made a cookie that is

gluten, dairy, corn and soy free! And your food-allergy friends will LOVE you!

Better Beans for Black Bean Salad

There are numerous quick, easy, and healthy meals that can be made using beans.

(I’m going to share a super-tasty black bean salad recipe with you today!)

And opening a can of beans is train-a-monkey-to-do-it easy!

But is it best?beans1

 

Don’t get me wrong. BEANS are GREAT!

They’re inexpensive, versatile, full of protein & fiber, and loaded with nutrients.

They’ve even been called “the undervalued superfood”. They’re fabulous!

I hope you’re using lots of them!

 

But today I’m asking you to

rethink your bean-BUYING…

if you’re buying them by the can.

 

Here are three things to ponder when considering a can of beans vs. a bag of dried beansbeans

        1. COST. Buying them by the pound, in a bag, is much cheaper.
        2. HEALTH. When you get them in a bag, you control what goes into them. Ever noticed the level of sodium in canned goods?
        3. FLAVOR. Beans can be cooked to perfection with your own spices and flavoring added… not taken from a tin can processed who-knows-how-long-ago.

 

When I was first married, I would grab a can of beans from the store shelf to add to a meal without a second thought. But as our family grew and I became more money and health-conscious, I began to purchase my beans by the pound, dried.

 

It did take a while getting used to preparing the beans myself… but it really isn’t difficult.*

And sure, it takes a bit of planning ahead. But it also cut back on the grocery budget (as “planning” often does!).

I like to soak my beans overnight and then cook up a big batch the next day, saving a few cups in the refrigerator and packaging the rest up to store in the freezer for another meal.

 

I’d encourage you to consider the benefits of buying and cooking up your own beans.

And while you’re considering it, check out the scrumptious recipe I promised you at the beginning of this post!

 

BLACK BEAN SALAD

Combine these first five ingredients. Whip them together to be used as the dressing.

½ c. lime juice

½ c. olive oil

1 minced garlic clove

1 t. saltbeansalad

1/8 t. cayenne pepper.

In a separate bowl, combine the following:

½ c. chopped fresh cilantro

4 c. black beans, rinsed and drained

½ c. corn kernels

1 avacado – peeled, pitted and diced

1 red bell pepper, chopped

6 green onions, thinly sliced

2 tomatoes, finely diced

 

Mix the vegetables and beans together and toss with the dressing. Refrigerate for 2 hours or more. Serve with tortilla chips.

Goes great with burgers on the grill.

Tastes wonderful eaten as a side dish.

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*For a free “Cooking Guide for Dried Beans”, click HERE.

To learn nine reasons why YOU should eat beans, click HERE.

When Life Gives You A Lemon

When life gives you a lemon, make lemonade.

 

Summer’s almost over… and for many kids that thought is sort of like getting handed a big ole’ lemon. The news is a bit sour.

(You mean I have to get up with an alarm in the morning?

I have to go to school all day long?? I have to do homework? What???)

 

How do you handle that kind of information? Any news that is bitter, unpleasant, or disagreeable???

 

Maybe this is a good time for a family discussion,

an opportunity for you to share how you handle the things in life that are difficult to swallow,

an opportunity to reveal both your success and failures

in the area of attitude and choices.

 

“We cannot change the inevitable.

The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have,

and that is our attitude…

I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.

And so it is with you…we are in charge of our attitudes.”

–Charles R. Swindoll

 

Care to tackle the topic of attitude and choices with your kids?

As in so many other areas of parenting,

food or drinks always make a pondering session

a bit more palatable,

so how about some ‘easy peasy lemon squeezy’ recipes

to sweeten your talk?

Here you go:

 

Lemonadelemonade

4 c. water

1 c. lemon juice

2/3 c. sugar

Mix the first three ingredients in a pitcher. Then add ice cubes and serve it up. This recipe makes 5 eight ounce glasses.

 

Pink Lemonade

Make a simple syrup by heating 1 ¼ c. sugar and 1 c. of water in a small saucepan until the sugar is completely dissolved. Set it aside. Now stir the syrup with 3 additional cups of water, 1 c. lemon juice and 1 c. cranberry juice. Chill, then pour over ice.

 

Lemon Cakelemon cake

Mix 1 c. sugar and 2 eggs.

Add 3T. lemon juice and 1 c. almond milk. Mix.

Add 1 ¾ c. rice flour , 1 ½ t. guar gum (or xanthan gum) and 2 t. baking powder. Stir.

Add ½ c. oil. Blend.

Pour into a greased 8×8 pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

(This is a recipe my kids originally found in a High Five magazine. We made a few adjustments to it so this is the gluten and dairy-free version, made just for our family! I’m sure it’s wonderful with a layer of frosting, but we eat it sans topping!)

 

Yes, when life gives you a lemon,

make lemonade…

or a lemon cake…

or at least an attitude adjustment.

It’ll make a big difference in the outcome!

 

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“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.

Attitude, to me, is more important than facts.

It is more important than the past, than education, than money,

than circumstance, than failures, than successes,

than what other people think or say or do.

It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill….

The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day

regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.

We cannot change our past…

we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way.

We cannot change the inevitable.

The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have,

and that is our attitude…

I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me

and 90% how I react to it.

And so it is with you…

we are in charge of our attitudes.”

(Charles R. Swindoll)

Cool as a Cucumber

cucs3Mary, Mary, quite contrary,

How does your garden grow?

 

While it was Mother Goose* that first officially asked the question

back in the mid 1700s,

this same question is still brought up today

-especially this time of year-

in the mid-west.

 

How’s your garden growing?

After planning, planting, weeding, and caring for all of those precious plants,

we are now reaping a harvest and enjoying incredibly tasty food

-just one of the benefits of having a garden **

(followed closely by improving your physical & mental health

and reducing your environmental footprint).

 

Are you finding plenty of ways to enjoy the vegetables

that you’re getting from your plot?

My family’s been eating a lot of zucchini sauté lately.

{You can find the scrumptious recipe we use HERE.}

And soon we’re hoping to put up some refrigerator cucumbers.

 

Here comes an easy recipe for that.cucs1

And, pssst!, once they’re made, you’ll be able to enjoy them for several weeks.

Now THAT’S what I call a good recipe!

Here it is:

 

Refrigerator Cucumbers

  • Get a one-gallon glass jar.
  • Slice a whole passel of cucumbers (but don’t peel them).
  • Slice 4-5 small onions.
  • Layer the cucumbers and onions in your one-gallon glass jar until it is ¾ of the way full.
  • Add 2 cups of sugar, ¼ c. canning salt, 1 T. mustard seed, 1 T. celery seed, and 1 T. turmeric. Pour it over the cucumber and onion layers.
  • Finish filling the jar with cucumbers, pushing down to pack it well.
  • Now add 3 cups of white vinegar.
  • Shake it and then leave it set on the counter.
  • After a few hours, push down the veggies again and add more cucumbers.
  • Now that it’s packed to the brim, refrigerate it, shaking it once a day for 5 days.
  • After five days, they’re ready to eat! Open the jar and enjoy. Snack on them throughout the day; set them out at your next barbeque. When you’ve had your fill, recap the jar and place it back in the fridge. You’ll be able to savor those cucs for the rest of the summer!

 

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When company stops by unexpectedly, you won’t find yourself in a pickle.

No. You’ll open the fridge, pull out the refrigerator cucumbers, and serve up a tasty treat.

You’re so cool.

Cool as a cucumber!

 

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 *Just WHO was Mother Goose? Answer: Many different writers from many different times (some female and others male). Hundreds of children’s stories, songs, chants and games have been attributed to Mother Goose, although her(?) exact identity and origin is still unknown!

**For a list of eight benefits of backyard gardening, check out http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=1275.

Pass the Mustard

Mustard is a very popular condiment in many American households! That’s true of our home as well. My one son in particular finds mustard irresistible… I mean he LOVES it. (He’s happily received a bottle or two as gifts in the past!) This guy will put it on any foods we allow him to, consuming as much per day as we’ll tolerate. He uses so much of it that I’m always watching to see if his skin is starting to turn a bit jaundice looking!

4mustardAs a cautious parent that tries to make careful decisions about the foods we devour, I’ve done quite a bit of reading and research in the fodder department but I’d never checked into ‘mustard’. For self-condolence, I’d always told myself that of all the condiments to choose from, mustard must be the healthiest choice, right? (I mean it’s gotta be a lot better than ketchup anyway.) But until now, it was a bunch of uninformed self-talk. I was just telling myself what I hoped to be true about this best-loved sauce … (ever done anything like that before?).

Well, August 5 is National Mustard Day! And since mustard is getting some national attention today, I did a bit of digging and found a few items of interest to share with you. (And they make me pretty happy with my son’s yellow-bottle companion.)

 

Health & nutritional benefits of mustard:

*Mustard seeds have been used for about 5000 years.

*The mustard seed used in the favorite yellow condiment mustard is packed with omega-3, omega-6, potassium, magnesium and calcium.

*Mustard seeds have antiseptic and anti-fungal properties… making them very useful for purging the digestive system and increasing the body’s natural defense system.

*Both the Romans and the Greeks used mustard seeds both in the kitchen and medicinally.mustard

*It is actually one of the most popular spices traded in the world today.

* Mustard seeds can (ready for this list???) help control symptoms of asthma, can help you lose weight, can slow aging, can protect you from gastrointestinal cancer, help with migraines, relieve joint and muscle pain, lower cholesterol, stimulate hair growth, fight infection, hydrate skin, and improve immunity.

 

Of course, all bottles of mustard are NOT created equally. You’ll want to choose the brand with the shortest, simplest and most recognizable ingredient list… the one that contains no artificial colors, sweeteners, or preservatives. But after that? Go for it!

Pass the mustard, Son. I’m going to raise the white flag and surrender. I guess your mountainous mustard consumption isn’t a big deal after all.

 *************1mustard

A search on “health benefits of mustard”

will reveal a number of interesting articles.

Here’s one great source that’s

easy to read

if you’re looking for more information :

www.stylecraze.com/articles/amazing-benefits-of-mustard-seeds/

Sweet Candy for Sale!

Having five children with food allergies is challenging on a daily basis,

but even more so when you try to find ‘special treats’ –candy

more specifically, CANDY

that they can all enjoy… like ‘normal’ kids!

 

Of all the food issues we deal with,

a corn-allergy is one of the most irritating.

Corn is in everything!

Okay, not really EVERYTHING, but it sure feels like it!

Have you ever investigated all the hidden names for corn in common products? Aye!

 

candy1This month, June, is NATIONAL CANDY MONTH.

And while it’ll be quite some time before you need to stock up

for the events in which candy is inevitable… Halloween, Christmas, & Easter…

there are often parties and parades in the summer where candy is handed out.

Might as well be prepared!

 

Here’s a fabulous website, www.naturalcandystore.com, that has all sorts of candy for sale.

It is an amazing site! Their slogan is ‘All the FUN without the FUNNY stuff!’candy2

Here’s just a taste of how specific and specialized (and FUN) this candy store really is.

 

You can sort by:

candy types (27 different types, to be exact! Breath mints, brittle, candy bars, candy canes, candy coated chocolate, candy mixes, caramels, and on and on and on!),

featured candies (new, best sellers, sale, staff picks, current FREE samples, and so forth),

brands (Amy’s, Enjoy Life, Jelly Bellys, Yummy Earth, etc!),candy3

baking (natural food colors, sprinkles, drops, add-ins, sauces, DIY kits),

bulk (want a 12-pack? How about a 10lb case? You choose!),

party (baby shower candy, birthday candy, piñata candy, wedding candy… search by color, search by flavor),

gifts (get a gift certificate for that special someone!!),

& seasonal (depending on what holiday is closest, you’ll find special candies for Easter, Halloween, Christmas, etc).

 

Here are a few more categories to browse at this great site:

Organic, dye-free, GMO-free,

Allergy-friendly (free of all 8major food allergens),

Gluten-free, vegan, fair trade, made in USA,

& special diets advanced search

(my FAVORITE!!! 39 choices…or any combination of those!!!)

This site is absolutely incredible.

 

Since this store isn’t just around the corner, it would be best to get a nice size order togethercandy4

and have it shipped all at once. It may as well be on your shelf,

waiting for that next big party! And, hey, since it IS national CANDY month,

why don’t you put an order in real soon?

Sounds like a sweet idea to me!