/Decorating/:Alphabet Wall

Projects and decorating keep me sane are a much-needed outlet of mine, a fulfilling hobby. And when I can do these projects in the throws of active motherhood, all the better. See this post: An end table makeover with an added bonus. I have been on a mission over the last two years to convert an empty and unwelcoming basement into an inviting play space for my children and our family as a whole.

This alphabet wall was a treat to envision, a fulfilling experience to create and a breeze to install! Here are my oh, so basic steps:

Step 1: I found the size of letters I wanted from Hobby Lobby. The bonus is that they are thin and light-weight which was a benefit with the installation/hanging.

Step 2: This past summer during two weekend camping trips, we took this project with us. During the afternoons, this was a good diversion to paint away and let some creativity ride. Each of my four kids were given a letter, two or three paint colors (each color had a different paint brush) on a disposable paper plate, and the table was lined with newspaper. I did color coordinate the paint colors with my ideal image of the basement’s end result.

Step 3: When all of the letters were finished, the hanging process began. I had absolutely no idea how strong this Scotch Permanent (am just reading that word for the first time. oops!) Mounting Squares would be, so each letter got 2-4 or 5.

 

Step 4: I then laid out the pattern and general spacing of the letters. This was not precise, and I was much too excited to think about a ruler or any mathematical brain work.

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Step 5: Start hanging. I did use and would recommend using a level under your letters.

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Step 6: Admire and enjoy.

 

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Inspiration everywhere

adore the latest trend of wearing, drinking out of, journaling from, hanging on the wall, hiding behind closet doors, displayed as wall decor…inspirational messages! For all of us visual individuals, are you constantly seeking out these reminders of positive moods and choices? I am. And I need the help, the inspiration, the reminders of what I too easily forget.

My office space is dedicated to filling the walls with inspirational quotes. They are pinned to a bulletin board, printed out on white card stock and held up with cute washi tape, displayed and hung to be interchangeable with clothespins on a thick piece of burlap string.

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You will find these cues and permission for forgiveness taped inside the kitchen cupboards. They tell me that even though I raised my voice one too many times today, that I failed to give my full attention to my eager child, that I made the wrong choice to let grumpiness engulf my mood, that it is indeed okay because tomorrow is a new day.

Secret messages. Sometimes you want that gentle reminder without sharing it with the world. I admire this Secret Message Cuff Bracelet from timelessmaiden on Etsy. She Believed She Could, So She Did: Isn’t that the truth?!

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Messages on t-shirts. Love. Three Bird Nest now has a website dedicated to their products. Check out this Be Strong Black Hoodie.

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Kindness Matters. This has to be the most simple, clean and worthy message out there. I will have this shirt in my closet soon from Society 6.

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ChalkFullofLove on Etsy has upbeat messages on mugs like “Girl you are a Boss”. I could have used that reminder yesterday!

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Sometimes you and I will find these visual quotes from social media sources like Instagram. I cannot get this quote out of my head. It makes me laugh out loud. It makes me franticly recount the past week of interactions. Am I guilty? And it just makes me proud to be female. @hannaheden_fitness says, “Shout out to all the females that compliment each other. That jealousy shit is dead.”

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 So, in awe of @hannaheden_fitness, I give a shout out to a few females in my life:

To the mom taking a kite on a road trip to keep her children entertained, wow! You have got this piece of motherhood, using creativity and fun, nailed.

To the mom teaching her children to grow, raise and know the food they eat, fantastic! I adore you, and your dedication to good health is a gift for your children. Irreplaceable.

To the mom running miles pushing a stroller of not one but two toddlers, you go! I love that you have incorporated fitness into motherhood.

To the mom balancing motherhood and wifehood with her career, you have got this! You have very lucky children, a husband and more children at school.

To the mom with a smile on her face every. single. time. that I see you, yes! Your positive energy is contagious, and tomorrow I am going to try harder.

To the mom who showered, put on an outfit and makeup, all before you picked up your child from preschool, you look gorgeous!

To the mom taking her sons golfing to stay busy and to reduce sibling arguments, what an approach! I will remember this advice.

“There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called Yesterday and the other is called Tomorrow. Today is the right day to Love, Believe, Do and mostly Live.”

― Dalai Lama XIV

Choose Chia

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Chia seeds are a simple, favorite way for me to add impressive amounts of vitamins, minerals, and a good balance of omega 3 and omega 6 fats to my family’s diet. (If you’re not sure why these fats are important, don’t skip this post on fat: “Don’t Fight the Good Fat“.) They came onto the scene after flax seeds, also a good source of good fats.  Unlike flax seeds, chia seeds don’t have to be milled for your body to be able to absorb all of their nutrients.

Now I haven’t said goodbye to flax altogether. Because it’s flour like when ground, it’s a great addition to baked goods.  I still use it in smoothies, and I even throw it in chili every now and then.  However chia has a unique characteristic that lends it easily to other dishes. You see, these pretty little seeds thicken and gel when added to liquids. Of course, it’s still so easy to add them to a smoothie ~ the old stand-bye ~ but I’m in love with the way they thicken coconut milk into a smooth, creamy pudding.  This is a food swap for me, as I can’t enjoy all the wonderful benefits of yogurt while I abstain from dairy. For all of you out there that can tolerate milk products, keep enjoying your full fat yogurt (but low in processed sugar).  Just enjoy this recipe as a simple way to add fats, vitamins, and minerals to your life.

Just so you know, before we get into the nitty gritty of the recipe…Chia seeds are an excellent source of:

  1. omega 3 fats
  2. calcium
  3. antioxidants
  4. iron
  5. fiber
  6. protein
  7. magnesium
  8. I could keep listing minerals, but I’d rather eat some chia pudding. You’ll find my favorite version below.

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Banana Chia Pudding


Ingredients:

  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 3 T chia seeds
  • 2 t real maple syrup
  • dash of vanilla
  • 1 ripe mashed banana

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl.
  2. Cover and place in the fridge at least several hours, overnight is best.
  3. Stir and enjoy!

If you’re looking for another good use for your chia seeds, you can try this recipe from twopeasandtheirpod.com with me.  What an easy way to make jam for my kiddos! Let me know how it turns out.

 

Don’t Fight the Good Fat

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“Everything in moderation” – A phrase I’ve heard quite a bit these days. But that’s not really true is it? Take broccoli for example. Have you ever heard someone say to practice moderation with broccoli?  Me neither. Truthfully, moderation applies to items we consume that are bad for us in limited or large amounts – sugar, alchohol, sugar, refined (and I would argue unrefined) grains, sugar…You get the idea.

We’ve been sold an idea in the United States that’s proven to be very detrimental to our health – this idea that eating “low fat” will actually make you store less fat on your body and make you healthier. It began with a seemingly obvious assumption, fat makes you fat. Then it perpetuated in a misinterpretation of some meta-analysis and became so mainstream that it changed the way an entire society thought about food. The truth has always been out there, but it’s voice was much quieter than the masses that followed the trends.  Definitely quieter than the pharmaceutical companies stacking money made from cholesterol drugs.

If you also fell prey to the low fat, high carbohydrate diet, you’ll find no judgement here. I couldn’t begin to tell you how many low fat products have lined my fridge and pantry – processed cheeses, “light” yogurts, “healthy” granola bars. The truth is, these products did nothing for my actual health, not the good kind anyway. They certainly weren’t beneficial for my waistline either, as I was hoping at the time. Truth: fat doesn’t make you fat, carbohydrates do. When you eat a quick burning fuel like sugars or grains, you’re body experiences a spike in insulin levels while converting them to sugars your body can use.  If your body can’t use all the sugar immediately, it’s stored in fat cells, usually around your waist. When this process happens over and over again, it causes hormone problems in our body and a resistance to energy inducing insulin. These hormone irregularities and excess sugar storage certainly translate to weight gain, but more troubling than that, they result in so many of the health problems on the rise today. I’m not saying we should cut carbohydrates entirely, but I am saying we generally consume so much more of them than our body can use.  I’m also saying we should try to get the bulk of them from vegetables and fruit, and practice strict moderation where grains and sugar are concerned.

By all means, eat more fat! Moderation doesn’t really apply to fat, as long as you choose your fat wisely.  If you need some research-based reasons to add more fat to your diet, neurologists are coming up with quite a list for you these days. It seems that because the brain runs on fat (it is the “fattiest” organ in your body), a low fat diet is linked to:

  • Dementia & Memory Loss
  • Depression
  • ADD

You can find a more extensive list, as well as a thorough and fascinating explanation of good vs. bad fats in the current issue of Mother Earth News.

If you need more reasons to add some good fats to your diet, don’t just do it for your brain do it for your body. My favorite reason to eat fat, it’s very satiating. When I cut grains and dairy from my diet, I have to admit, I was hungry for a while. Mostly because I had to learn how to eat correctly. Once I realized I could eat all the veggies I wanted and increased my protein, the hunger pains started to go away. What really made the most difference was adding fat to my diet.  I started eating things I had never enjoyed before. I didn’t have to make myself do it either. My body was asking for them and enjoying them. I was eating egg yolks and bacon. Both would have made me gag not long before. My hunger was gone too. There are many other reasons your body, not just your brain, is asking for good fats too:

  • Your amazing body knows how to convert fat to energy
  • Healthy metabolism – helping your body burn fat instead of lean muscle
  • Absorption of nutrients – like the fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K

Another truth about fat is that it is a complex topic, due to the many different types of omega 3 fats (includes DHA) and omega 6 fats and the ratios that are beneficial to our body. I’m attempting to make a tricky topic a quick and easy read here, but I will include a list of books below that have been helpful in understanding fats and carbohydrates in our house, if you’d like more information.

So what fats are “good” fats? I’m glad you asked. Before you read the list, know that pastured animals and their byproducts are, across the board, significantly higher in omega 3 fats. I’m talking well over 3 times the amount than industrial raised meat and poultry. This means the ratio of omega 3 fats to omega 6 fats is much better for our bodies. While they may be more expensive at the store now, if we vote with our dollars (definitely use local producers when possible), they should become the norm and less expensive in the future.  I have to constantly remind myself, that I pay now or I pay later when it comes to my health.  In my case, the “later” came when I was just over 30 years old in the form of an autoimmune disease. Here are some fats your body and brain will thank you for.

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  • olive oil
  • dairy, eggs and meat from grass-fed animals – Yes! You can eat IMG_20151017_144957829bacon and sausage, but choose those not cured with nitrates and nitrites.
  • wild game
  • wild, cold-water fish
  • nuts
  • seeds – Chia (whole) and flax seeds (ground) are our favorites and easy to add to a smoothie.
  • coconut oil – least processed, solid
  • avocados

Try to avoid:

  • vegatable oils – corn, soybean, canola
  • sunflower oil
  • hydrogenated fats and oils

Following is a list of resources that have helped our family evolve our position on fats and food in general.  As always, research and knowledge are ever evolving as well. What I’ve said above is to the best of my knowledge at this time. Where do you stand on fat? What is your favorite way to incorporate it into your day? Please help us continue evolving by commenting below. We love to hear from you!

Enter the Zone and other books/products by Dr. Barry Sears

The Great Cholesterol Myth by Jonny Bowden and Stephen Sinatra

Grain Brain and Brain Maker by Dr. David Perlmutter

The works of Weston A. Price and the Price-Pottenger Foundation

The documentary The Perfect Human Diet

Or try this yummy breakfast full of good for you fats – {New Year Breakfast}~Avocado Egg Bowl.

 

 

 

 

{New Year Breakfast}~Avocado Egg Bowl

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The new year left us looking for something full of healthy fats and plenty of protein, after over indulging on all the goodies full of grains and sugars over the holidays. We had fun, but our body was ready for some good old nourishment.

And because we feel a bit lacking in the breakfast department (scrambled eggs with plenty of veggies become more than boring after a while) this breakfast bowl was a new, exciting departure from the ordinary. It’s so simple and filling, you might as well give it a try too!


Ingredients:

  • 2 hard boiled eggs
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1-2 Tablespoons cilantro
  • squeeze of half a lime
  • half a small cayenne (or pepper of choice) pepper (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Peel, cut and quarter hard boiled eggs.
  2. Place in bowl and top with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. In a separate bowl, place one diced avocado.
  4. Squeeze the juice of half a lime over the diced avocado.
  5. Mix 1-2 T cilantro, salt, and pepper into avocado and lime.
  6. Top the eggs with the avocado mixture.
  7. Sprinkle with the sliced/chopped pepper for a little spice.

*Fills up 1 happy tummy.


 

Want to know more about the whys and whats of healthy fats? Read our post called, Don’t Fight the Good Fat.

Technology and a Better You

Thankfully, I married a husband whom routinely reflects on improving and bettering himself as a husband, as a father, as a businessman, as a human being. With the fresh beginnings a New Year can bring, the number of ways to be a better me are flooding in…or some are a rushed, passing thought that I did not know how to put it into a tangible action. It is a good thing to have the desire and mindset to be often aware of your shortcomings, your mistakes, your opportunities to improve; it is escalated to an entire new level when you get to put these thoughts into action.

That is where the end of the year left me: positively aware and with ideas but without a real plan. My husband found a pertinent app—a physical way to capture intentions and put them into action— that I am excited about and want to share it with you: Lean PD. The iTunes description:

“Lean PD is the most effective way to develop yourself! Lean=efficient or elimination of waste. PD=personal development. So, Lean PD is the efficient way to personally develop yourself to reach your maximum potential. The whole concept is based on the idea of developing daily habits that support your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal). This app comes populated with examples of habits the developer has used to improve the quality of his life…”

The Samsung app is free but has more limitations in personalizing. However, the Apple app is $.99 yet allows for just the right amount of flexibility to change headings and prioritize. I have the these categories/headings entered so far:

  • Food
  • Exercise
  • Family
  • Home
  • Intellectual
  • Creativity

For now, in this new beginning, this is a good place to start so that I do not feel overwhelmed or self-pressured to have it all together as of January 1. Within these categories/headings, I have entered 3-5 of my top priorities such as “Focus on fruits and vegetables”, “2 minute plank”, “Do not carry phone around at home”, “Make bed”, “Read for 15 minutes”. And the best part, for all of you list makers out there, is that you get to check each item complete as you accomplish your goals/habits of the day. This is enough for me, but the app does go on to give you percentage complete (or stars to complete).

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{Food Find}: Alpendough

I recently made an unspeakable mistake, grocery shopping when I was IMG_20151216_114831678_HDRhungry, really hungry. Gasp! I know you’re thinking, “Rookie”, with a little sneery-face right? This was not good for my budget, and sad to say, not good for my sugar-free, refined grain-free lifestyle either. However…

Good news! Something great was born of this mistake ~ a boastable product find that I just can’t help but share. Welcome, Alpendough.  You had me at “Double Chocolate” and gluten/dairy free.  Under $5 didn’t hurt either. (I know it sounds like a lot, but when you put “vegan” and “gluten-free” on something in a “natural” grocery store, the price automatically jumps at least $3.) But then, I got you home and read your packaging.  “Eat raw cookie dough”, you say in step 1. of your directions.  You’re giving me permission to do what I already planned on, AND I don’t have to worry about possibly contracting salmonella?  (My heart just skipped a beat.) Okay! I can follow directions. Then as I turn the tub over in my hand I read amazing (still has sugar, so only as a splurge) ingredients AND you’re made right here in Colorado (Durango).  It’s not like I needed another reason to put you on the top of my Christmas list (hint! hint! ~ not so subtle) and run out to buy every flavor to try, but now I have one.

So I couldn’t hide this from you any longer.  Sorry to say I don’t have an actual picture of the dough or cookies, because they quickly made it to my belly. (Yes, they taste amazing too.) I can share their site here. Not because they’re paying me to…or giving me free cookie dough (wouldn’t that be something)…a girl can dream, but because I’m a big softy for small, local companies doing things right.

Here are the ingredients: “Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Whole Grain Oat Flour, organic evaporated cane juice, organic maple syrup, water, organic coconut oil, organic dutch cocoa powder, organic semi-sweet chocolate chips, tapioca flour, less than 2% of: organic vanilla extract, baking soda, sea salt, almond extract, xanthan gum, baking powder aluminum free”

Run! Run now! Run and get you some!

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