My Homemade Renaissance {Over at Se7en}

Not too many years ago I was pretty much the worst eater. Ever. I made really bad food choices, very rarely ate any fresh fruit or veggies (salad was a personal nemesis), fast food was a rather regular occurrence in my diet, and the things that counted as a serving of ‘vegetables’ on my plate were… let’s just say pretty ridiculous.

An important conversation with the Hubs took place when we were dating, and, although I didn’t realize it at the time, it was the start of a personal Renaissance that got me asking questions like — how can I do it myself? Cook it from scratch? Make it without putting rubbish in it or instead of buying it? And having an old friend visiting a couple of weeks ago helped me realize just how far I’d come.

{You know the DIY Granola made the list!!}

I’m sharing about that important conversation, along with a list of Se7en + 1 of my Homemade Favourites, over at Se7en’s site today. {Remember Se7en {and the Travelling Tuesday from when we visited her in the Cape}? She’s the awesome homeschooling mom of Se7en + 1 … meaning EIGHT … kids, who lives back in beautiful South Africa.} She has Guest Bloggers join the fun at her site on her Blogoversary each year, and what a treat to get to guest post there!

My guest post is up and running… but before you click right here to go read it, don’t forget to take a moment to put your thinking cap on for thirty seconds, come up with a name for our Senior Portraits, and perhaps win a free 8 x 10 canvas from Quiver Tree Photography… our photo or yours! {Click here to visit the giveaway post!}

I hope you enjoy the visit with Se7en, and start thinking about your favourite Olympic moment, because we’ll have another giveaway right here, soon!


On Believing You Can Change Things

Hi friends! I try not to make it a habit of always linking up to anything and everything I ever write anywhere else on these here internets, but there’s a post up over at Signposts I wanted to make sure I mention to you. (How do you feel about that? Would you rather I always link places?) Part of the magic of this post (in my opinion) is that it’s drawing some quality truth out of sort of mundane section of a tough to read section of the Bible — I Chronicles. Yikes!

All joking aside, I’d love for you to take in this simple encouragement today — in a lesson from the life of David and his generation, recognizing how one person can actually change the shape of a nation, and why you can be that one person who is the catalyst for change.

If you’re a little dissatisfied with the world around you, or even if you just need a reminder that you truly were created for greatness, I hope you’ll click over, and get inspired to be brave!

You are awesome!


Whole Foods Holiday: Food for Thought {and Chocolate Cookies}

Hi e’dybody (as the Bear would say), my friend Eve is sharing a wonderful Whole Foods Holiday guest post today! She is super. I’ve made you wait long enough for this edition of the Whole Foods Holiday posts…so without further ado…

Born Up a Tree!


Food for Thought

When I was pregnant the first time, I have to admit that I didn’t eat very well. Maybe I should say that I ate really well, but I just didn’t make good choices about what I ate. I gained 50 pounds and had a 6 pound 13 ounce baby. I nursed my bundle of joy and when it came time to feed him solid food, a light came on for me. Would I feed him the same things I had been eating? Um, NO.

I tediously made all of his baby food- it was easy by the way. Recipes are easy to find and as long as you have a food processor and a freezer, you are good to go. Since I am a full time mom and have a full time job, it took a lot of planning and a lot of cooking on the weekends. Out of desperation one evening because of a busy weekend, I stopped at the store and picked up some baby food in jars. All I had to do was open them, take a whiff, and I knew that I was not feeding that to my child.

As my son grew, I realized he was an extremely picky eater. I am blessed that my son is not allergic to any foods, and we do not have any behavioral or developmental issues that require special diets. I know lots of people who have to put lots of love and care into meals because of special dietary needs- and I admire you. But he is still a picky eater, which also requires love, care, and patience with every meal.

Since I do have to balance my workload with my mother load, my son goes to a great Christian pre-school/day care that I dearly love. They feed him, but it is certainly not what I would feed him at home. At home we eat as many whole foods as possible- potatoes (usually sweet), rice, whole grains, whole fresh or frozen veggies, whole fruit, and whole meats.

And when I say whole, I simply mean not processed and with no added ingredients. If I buy something that has a label, I make sure that there is nothing on there that I can not pronounce or anything artificial. I firmly believe that this whole food is what my Creator created me to eat. I can’t afford to purchase all organic foods. So I do the best I can with what is available in my rural community. Fortunately, there are lots of natural and non-processed options to choose from.

It takes some creativity to not eat the same thing every day. Especially with a picky four year old. We have some favorites that we rotate through that my child loves to eat and I feel good about feeding him.

Image 2

One favorite is something we call Chocolate Cookies, for lack of a better term. The ingredients are simple- and you can use organic or conventional products.

Recipe for Chocolate Cookies

2 ½ cups rolled oats (old fashioned Quaker Oats work fine)

½ cup cocoa (dark cocoa is a bit healthier)

½ cup milled flax seed (in the baking aisle near the flour)

½ cup wheat germ (near the cereal)

½ cup honey

½ cup peanut butter

about 1 cup HOT water (hot as you can get it from the tap)

Optional: for a little extra protein boost, add 1 tsp Spirulina Powder, available at health food stores)

Image 1

Mix all the ingredients except the honey, peanut butter, and water until well blended.

Add the honey, peanut butter, and water (a little at the time), and stir until the “batter” is the consistency of mashed potatoes, with everything mixed well.

On wax paper, pat the cookies out by hand into patties about the size of a small hamburger.

Using wax paper between the cookies, store in an airtight container in the fridge for at least 6 hours before you eat them- they will firm up.

This recipe makes about 8 cookies and will keep for a week or more in the fridge, but at my house I have to make them twice a week.

Don’t be fooled by the appearance- they do NOT taste like the no-bake-oatmeal-peanut butter-sugar-cookies that you may remember from your childhood. The texture and flavor is very earthy, due to the flax seed and wheat germ. My son has eaten these since he was old enough to hold them in his hand. You can tell by the pictures that he enjoys eating them, but they are a little messy. He loves them for breakfast, and sometimes for a quick snack.


If you would like some more ideas on how to add more whole foods to your families meals, I will be happy to share. Send me an email at


Thanks so much for sharing with us, Eve! That was definitely some good food for thought for me — and I’m hoping to make “Chocolate Cookies” with the Bear soon!

We might have one or two more Whole Foods Holiday posts on the way, but in the meantime, do you have something to share? Just add a link to the link below if you have a Whole Foods Post or Recipe somewhere else on the net that you’d like to share!


Have a Whole Foods Holiday: Roast Tomato Sauce

Hi guys and gals! I’m kicking off a Whole Foods Holiday series today {pause for a round of applause} with a wonderful step-by-step from the awesome magician/Mom behind a site I’ve shared with you before, Se7en. {Here’s the Travelling Tuesday where I showed you around her place!} Mrs. Se7en and her Se7en + 1 kididdles do some amazing things in the kitchen. Often involving food. But also arts and crafts. And homeschool. Today she’s introducing a simple way to make your own Tomato Sauce in Se7en easy steps!

Born up a tree!


Many folks think that cooking from scratch is quite unachievable, and it is easier to just buy instant meals, instant sauces and well instant everything!!! What we have discovered as a family is that we eat more and more food, cooking from scratch. It all began with having an allergic child and I started reading food labels.

While I was looking for allergens, I discovered just what we were eating and I didn’t want to feed it to our children. The trouble with pre-prepared food is that it is packed with heaps of sugar, and filled with unnecessary additives and colorants. We made a decision to start cooking from scratch. It is not only healthier but it is a whole lot cheaper. Remember the more an item of food has been processed or packaged and the further it has traveled the more expensive it is going to be. Often it is just so much easier to buy bulk and save and make a batch of something.

It wasn’t really an overnight switch, just a consistent and conscious effort to change and eagerness to try new recipes with our kids.

Now don’t for a moment think that cooking from scratch means that we spend hours bent over a sweltering stove and neither do we have fields of vegetables growing in our backyard. Okay, I confess we do keep our salad planted in the garden!!! It just turns out that not only is it a lot cheaper to cook from scratch, but it is a lot of fun. And I want food with my kids to be fun, I want them to enjoy the process of food preparation and I want them to feel a sense of pride in a meal well-prepared.

We started by baking our own bread and then we moved onto pasta and before we knew it we were cooking all our meals from scratch. My older kids have become adept at them and I tell you, you will never want to eat shop bought pasta again — you just won’t!!! The first few attempts were a grand mess, and nothing like the smooth ease that you see when watching the “Food Channel,” but practice really does breed success.

Today I am going to show a really easy way to make sauce and a standard recipe in our house: Fresh Roast Tomato Sauce From Scratch in Se7en Steps:

Let’s Meet The Players:

  • A Batch of tomatoes.
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • Crushed garlic, you can use whole garlic cloves as well.


Let’s Play The Game:

  1. DSC_0017

    1. Begin by roughly chopping your tomatoes – I usually cut them into eight… quick and easy, no time for perfection!!!

  2. DSC_0024

    2. Pop your chopped tomatoes into a roasting pan.

  3. DSC_0027

    3. Lavish salt and freshly ground pepper onto your tomatoes And pop your crushed garlic into the mix as well. If you only have cloves of garlic – all the better. Drop the whole cloves into the tomato mix

  4. DSC_0034

    4. Sprinkle some olive oil over your tomatoes and then pop the tray of tomatoes into a hot oven and leave them there to roast.

  5. DSC_0043

    5. When your tomatoes start to brown then you take them from the oven and leave them to cool.

  6. DSC_0044

    6. Once they have cooled you can put your roast tomatoes through the blender.

  7. DSC_0045

    7. Blend away and keep it in the largest jar you can find on the shelf in the refrigerator.

  8. DSC_0046
    And the Se7en + 1th Step:
  9. 8. Now when we make the sauce we keep it really simple, and then add whatever we want to it later when we use it for our meals. You can use your sauce in so many ways:
    • Plain with a few crushed basil leaves on fresh pasta, top it with a pile of parmesan.
    • As the topping for a pizza, We use it for lunch a lot. Roll out your batch of pizza dough, top with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese and it is almost instant pizza.
    • Brown an onion or two and add the sauce and you have a fabulous sauce for Spaghetti and Meatballs.
    • Brown some onions and mince and then add your tomato sauce and you have almost instant bolognaise sauce.


Really a jar of tomato sauce is indispensable, so quick to make and then so useful in any number of dishes. If you would like to try more recipes like these then feel free to follow the link:


Thank you so much for sharing with us, Se7en! So glad you were willing to share some well-tested (and good-tasting) wisdom with us today!
Note to the readers:

After reading the recipe, I asked Se7en if you needed to peel the tomatoes because I wondered if you’d notice the peels in the sauce. She replied:

I am the laziest cook in the world and when a recipe asks for peeled tomatoes I often skip it and then I always regret it. However, with this recipe the skins are so soft after the roasting, and then once you have blended them you don’t notice them at all… really – and I have a few fussy folk who would mention it!!!

Thought you’d like to know! More Whole Foods Holiday is coming your way soon!


P.S. It’s not too late to join the Whole Foods Holidays party. Get in touch if you have something you want to share! Or, if you already have something on your blog that you’d like to link to, let me know — I might just host a little link-up for this occasion. 🙂

Do You Say I’m Sorry?

It doesn’t always look like this.


And these days, when it doesn’t look like this, the Bear often has some ‘splaining to do. Then he probably has an apology to make.

We’re cultivating the habit of look-me-in-the-eyes-good-and-serious apologies round these parts, and it has me thinking about how often I make apologies, and how often I perhaps should.

Are you one to say you’re sorry? Do you mumble an excuse and move on?

I’m chatting about that over at Signposts today, and I’d love for you to click over and join the conversation!


{Guest Post} A Soul Searching Transformation

Reflecting on where life was ten years ago last week, a friend of mine wrote a piece of her story, strong and brave, and offered to share it here. You might remember her from {Thanks}giving Week last year. May Laura Anne’s words challenge and encourage your heart…what a strong reminder of the amazing God who loves us they are to me!

Once upon a time, there was a girl who was known as the Bacardi Queen. She was a bubbly caring sort of lass who loved to dance, with a thick Scottish accent and quite the potty mouth. She liked to drink Bacardi and often got a little tipsy as her teeny body filled up with alcohol and sugar, and the Bacardi would turn into tears and anguish of all the hurts she’d kept locked inside of her. The queen wanted to be away from all the hurt, so she came up with a plan to escape.

And then a chance came! The Bacardi queen gave up on her love of dance and studied hard hoping it would earn her a ticket to another world, a world free of all the people that had hurt her.


The Bacardi queen got her ticket, but at a high cost. She had to sacrifice the life of her unborn daughter in order to keep it. She made the sacrifice, and got to keep her ticket, and so she ran away to a place in the far North where she met people from foreign lands.

There seemed to be a never-ending flow of Bacardi in this land, and the queen drank and soon all the tears came out and the queen felt all the pain that she’d not allowed herself to feel before. Soon the pain began to overwhelm her and she went on a search for something that would ease it.

She met some strange people. They called themselves Christians. These Christians were funny characters, and did things and said things the queen found very bizarre. One day she asked one of them to take her to the place where they all gathered, and she saw them all together for the first time. There was an energy she had not encountered before, and being a curious sort of girl she decided to investigate further. What was this energy they had that she did not? She wasn’t sure what it was but her instincts said it was good.

After some months of observation and a little bit of study, she found out what it was. Agape. Love.

But could the queen partake of this love after the sacrifice she’d made for her ticket?

She decided to dance again, but it did not bring her the same kind of love that the Christians had.

One day the Christians caught her singing, and they asked her if she would lead them in songs. But the songs were about the love she couldn’t have and she didn’t know how to tell them that.

The more she tried to sing, the harder it got to hold in the hurt, until she finally told one of the Christians about why she couldn’t have the love they had. “There’s a bigger sacrifice that was taken up and it makes up for the one you made”, said the Christian. “Look! See!” And he showed her in a book that it was true, and he explained to her how to receive the Agape.

And that day, the Bacardi Queen began a transition…gradually she put down her Bacardi crown, and she got a new crown of laurels, and could now use the name she was first given:

Victory. Grace. Worshipper of God.


Laura Anne, thank you for so bravely sharing your story. Knowing the work you do now, considering the life you are living for the Lord — it is such a beautiful picture of the God who Redeems. Thank you for living it and sharing it with many.

And friends, Laura Anne blogs at Learning from Sophie, if you haven’t checked her out already!


P.S. Do you have a story to share and want a space to share it? I’d love to create an opportunity for you to step up to the metaphorical microphone. Please get in touch!