Christmas in the Bus {+Trina’s Top 4 Tips for Online Shopping}

Ha. I got you with that title, didn’t I?

Ya’ll are thinkin’ “Aww, poor Trina! She has to spend Christmas in the Bus?!”

Christmas music is playing and we’re trying to make room for a tree…

I’m kidding. We are headed North by the end of November. But Christmas season will be in full swing by the time I get home, so I have to at least start working on Christmas while in the Bus.

I’d really like to ignore the fact that I have that looming list of Christmas to-dos and I’m stuck here on a bus in Alabama, but with Jeremy streaming the Peaceful Christmas station from our favorite Christian Radio station each evening, it’s a little hard not to feel the countdown.

Then I remind myself that I love to Christmas shop online, and that this can be done from the bus as easily as I do it from home, so I start breathing again. (Aren’t you glad?)

I love  online Christmas shopping more every year. I probably do over 75% of my shopping online anymore. It’s fast, easy, and leaves me more time for baking and Christmas crafts and spending time with the people the gifts are for.

So, if you’re like me, and like to to your shopping online, here’s my tips:

  1. Do your homework and scope out Cyber Monday deals ahead of time. (not that, ehem, I’ve done this yet, but I think it’s a great idea! which sales/sites are you watching????)
  2. Take advantage of Amazon’s free shipping! Order stuff in big enough clumps that you qualify for Super Saver Shipping ($25 and up). In my mind that’s the real money saver, because I’m not paying gas to get me to the gifts OR shipping to get the gifts to me.
  3. eBooks are a new way to bless your bookworm friends with the classic gift of a good read. (and cut down costs to mail gifts–just send it in an email!) All my favorite ebooks are in my side bar, BTW ;)
  4. Finally, USE AFFILIATE LINKS! Pardon me for shouting, but I’m trying to drill it through my own head, for Pete’s sake. Did you know that when you use a blogger’s affiliate link to get to Amazon, they receive a percentage on ANY purchase you make–even if it’s not the item they recommended--at no extra cost to you?  I totally forgot to do this last year, but I’m committed to using affiliate links for ALL my Christmas shopping this year. It’s a simple way we can bless our favorite bloggers for Christmas!

How about you? Have you started shopping yet? Is the sound of Christmas music playing in Walmart already making your heart skip or stressing you out? How much shopping do you do online? Let’s commiserate on ways to embrace the Christmas to-do lists while reducing stress, shall we?

Oh, and I’m gonna try to be as helpful as I can with your Christmas shopping by hosting at least one amazing giveaway in the next month, as well as letting you in on any good sales that I know you will love!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight…

P.S. if you’re in the mood to get some shopping done now, here’s my link to Amazon. *wink, wink*

 

 

Resources for Aspiring Authors

Some would say that I’ve ‘arrived’. I’ve actually published a book. I can officially claim the title of ‘author’. But most days I feel like the journey has just begun. I have many more books and blog posts I want to write, and dozens of ways I want to improve as a writer. The great thing is, once you’ve found your passion, you don’t care how many miles you travel on this road—it’s your road, your path, and you’re enjoying the ride.

“The trick here is to learn to be content with the journey, because you never fully
arrive. However, the true masters of the craft are those who never grow
complacent. They’re never fully satisfied; they’re always pushing themselves a
little further.” – Jeff Goins, “You Are A Writer

I’m enjoying this ride so much, in fact, that I want to invite you on the journey with me. I’m going to start  by sharing my favorite resources for writing and publishing. Do you aspire to be an author? You can be, in just two steps:

Step One: Be A Writer

You say, oh, “I can’t claim that title!”

Let me clue you in—a writer is someone who writes. It’s that simple. It’s not a matter of how well you write, it’s the commitment TO write that defines you.  Have you written anything today? Yes? Great!

Still having trouble claiming that title? Well, then you need to read Jeff Goin’s brand new book, “You Are a Writer”. I got an advanced review copy of this book  (which just released this morning!) so I can personally tell you how awesome it is.

In his fresh and relevant style, Jeff logically explains what makes a true writer, how simple it is to claim the title, and how your life can be transformed when you start living like you believe it. Once you’ve claimed your title as writer, you can start ‘practicing in public’ with a blog. As you follow the simple steps Jeff lays out, you will grow in the craft and eventually you’ll have the experience and connections to take a really great idea beyond the blog and transform it into the author’s holy grail—a book.

“The best way to practice is to do it publicly.” Jeff Goins, “You Are A Writer

Jeff covers everything an aspiring writer/author needs to know in today’s publishing world. I loved his advice on branding, his practical tips for pitching your work, and especially his personal journey toward being a writer. It’s seriously inspiring.

Step Two: Publish!

Specifically, an eBook. Why? Because you can. For the first time in history, anyone can self publish their creation through the venue of electronic publishing. For free–or a few hundred bucks if you have to delegate the technical side of things–you can upload your book and deliver it to your followers, not to mention the whole wide world.

I first got the idea to self publish an ebook by watching two of my mentors in the online world – Amy Andrews and Sarah Mae. I read their work, and soon became a passionate advocate of their books and ebooks in general. EBooks are powerful because they’re relevant. Traditional publishing takes 2 years minimum from proposal to publishing. If the content is time sensitive, by the time it reaches your audience, it could be out of date or that need met by someone else. Conversely, an ebook can be written, published, and available to its audience all in a matter of weeks.

Also, self publishing means you don’t have to wait for a publisher to choose you. You can pick yourself and get the ball rolling. You can begin your career as an author by your choice, right now, thanks to electronic publishing.

“T his is the magic of the age in which we now live. We are all publishers. And
peers to those whom we previously used to pitch our work.” – Jeff Goins, “You Are A Writer

If you are interested in self-publishing an ebook, I can’t give you better advice than to read Amy and Sarah Mae:

“W e writers have never seen a time like the day in which we now live. I hope you
take advantage of it.” – Jeff Goins, “You Are A Writer

Stick around this month as I give a behind-the-scenes glimpse into my own publishing journey. I hope to encourage you that if you have a book inside you, it may finally be time to share it with the world.

What book do you hope to write someday? I’d love to hear about it in the comments…

Making Money on Your Blog, Part One – Are You Ready?

This post is inspired by an email I sent to one of my readers who wanted to pick my brain on developing and monetizing her blog. She’s someone who, like myself, has caught the vision of how a blog – this thing most of us did for fun in the beginning – can actually become a viable source of income and still be fun. If you’re ready to take the next step, here’s my latest list of tips and resources.
First, you MUST manage your computer time. You can not add blog development, personal branding, guest posting, networking, and research to all the other stuff you do online. Browsing facebook, blog hopping without a specific purpose, checking email and statuses multiple times a day has to stop. Figure out what your goal is for your computer time, and don’t let yourself get distracted. Read how I learned to keep facebook in balance in my life, and buy Amy’s e-book to finally learn how to take control of your time, computer or otherwise.
My new strategy for keeping from getting sucked in to too much time online is to keep a running to-do list for when I get online, and focus on that list when I do sign on. My goal is to have a specific task in mind when I sit down at the computer, such as “check email”, “answer comments”, or “research this or that topic”. No more just sitting down to wander through the web entertaining myself. There is really no need for me to check my email 6 times a day!

Second, you must get over the whole idea that making money from your blog is tacky.
  I believe blogging is a viable form of income and an exciting opportunity for stay at home moms. I’m convinced the Lord would have us be good stewards of the opportunities we have in front of us. There are two main ways I’m working to make money on my blog:
1.Advertising Just think about it – people buy stuff off Amazon every day – if your readers are encouraged to go through your site on their way to the check out, you make 15% off their purchase. Nothing wrong with that, and most readers would love a way to support a blogger they appreciate at no extra cost to themselves! You can also sign up as an affiliate for a product you love. We make recommendations every day – affiliate programs allow you to actually get paid for it. Check out the affiliate program for my book.

2. Selling Your Own Work If you actually make the effort to put together a collection of the best informative or inspirational content from your blog, or develop an idea into an ebook and publish it, the income potential skyrockets.
Sarah Mae’s book, 31 Days to Clean, was created from a month-long series on her blog. She took it down of her site, polished it up, added a bit more content, released it as an ebook, and made $20,000 the first month. (Obviously, she’s a marketing genius – that’s why I bought her “How to Market and Sell Your E-book” as soon as it came out. It’s just $4.99! That’s an affiliate link – I get 30% if you purchase it through my link!)
Come back tomorrow to find the list of people and blogs I’m following as I learn and develop as a blogger.Further Reading…
Why I’m Learning to Be a Better Blogger and Why You Should, Too.

 

Do you want to make money from your blog? What’s holding you back? Why DO you blog?

Facebook: Keeping the Tool in the Tool Box

After confessing to my affair with facebook , sharing what I learned from a month-long facebook fast, and telling you all the other places I’d rather spend time online, many of you have asked,


Did I delete my facebook page?

No. All that time away from facebook helped me see that facebook was a time waster for me. But all the time spent learning to develop my blog made it clear what a great tool facebook is. I did not feel I could afford give up facebook. I realized it was a tool I should learn to use properly, rather than something that controls me.

So, how did I find balance in my facebook usage?

Here’s my secret to keeping facebook in its place.
Are you ready?
It’s really, really simple, but it works:
I only go on facebook ever other day. And no weekends. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
That’s it.

Setting these simple boundaries of ‘facebook days’ and ‘non-facebook’ days is the easiest way I have found from getting sucked into hours wasted online. I don’t have to set a timer, have an accountability partner, or even deal with withdrawal symptoms. Limiting my usage of the site automatically helped me keep the perspective of ‘it’s a tool’ – when do get on, it’s with a purpose. I check my profile, respond to friends and notifications, and then scroll through the homepage IF I have time.

Do I miss stuff?

Yes.

Has it killed me?

No.

As entertaining and fun and cool as facebook is, I’ve never read anything on facebook that I couldn’t have lived without or found somewhere else. 

 The difficulty is that so many people use facebook as their primary communication and relationship tool, and if you don’t keep up with them on facebook, you can’t keep up at all. I’ve decided that’s a price I’m willing to pay. I don’t want to get sucked into the majority of my relationships only existing in the electronic realm. I don’t want hours on facebook stealing precious moments talking and praying with a friend on the phone, or busily tidying my house so I can host a friend for dinner. I never want electronic relationships to steal time from face-to-face fellowship with my husband, my children, or the wonderful friends God has given me.

What DO I use facebook for?

It’s helpful for me to have a goal in mind whenever I sit down at the computer, especially when I sign in to facebook. My goal on facebook – the primary reason I’m there – is to deepen relationships. Here’s how I do that:

  • I’m on facebook to guide people to my blog, where I invest more of me and the communication and sharing is deeper and fuller.
  • I use facebook  to connect with old and new friends. Once we find each other, I get their blog, email, or phone number so we can connect on a deeper level, eventually getting to the point of meeting face-to-face. (This is really fun!)
  • I only follow a few close friends – ones for whom facebook is their primary online presence. I will visit their page to check out photos and links they have posted so that I can stay current with what’s important to them.   
  • I only post a personal status when I feel I have something worthy to say (with the occasional exception because I love randomness!) 

Have I ever broken my own rules?

Yes. But not often, ’cause I really like it when facebook stays where it belongs in my life (pretty far down on the list, let me tell you). I have made some exceptions:

  1. When I read something cool online and want to share it, I’ll click the ‘share on facebook’ link, but once I’ve posted it to my page, I x out of the window and move on. It’s how I keep the tool in the tool box unless I’m using it. 
  2. My All That Is Good facebook page – I try to keep that current as it is an extension of my blog and part of my system for growing my blog. But if I’m on ATIG’s page, I try to resist the temptation to switch over to my personal profile.

I love facebook. But I’m no longer addicted. And if feels great.


How about you? Do you struggle with facebook stealing time, or is it something else online? How do you keep your computer time in balance? 


Did you like this post? Then share it on facebook! Just click on the cute little button my web designer installed for me at the bottom of this post. I appreciate every time someone links to me and shares my blog! 

Recommended Resources for Learning Herbal Remedies

 One of my readers (Hi, Emily!) asked if I could share sources I recommend for learning more about natural medicine. This is a broad topic and I am by no means any sort of expert. BUT my mother treated her children with herbs and I helped her gather and make tinctures and we treated ourselves at home, rarely visiting the doctor at all as I grew up (I’ve only been twice in my life, in fact). We enjoyed good health and the satisfaction of caring for ourselves naturally. So it is with that background that I recommend these resources…

Making Herbs Simple -This video was great – covering a variety of ways to preserve and utilize the medicinal qualities of herbs. I’d highly recommend it for those who like to learn things hands-on rather than from books. It’s all very clearly demonstrated.

Also, when I looked up the link on Amazon I found they have an ‘instant play’ version for $1.99. Is this like instant netflix? If so – that’s cool! $1.99 to watch a great introduction to herbs and tinctures – everything you need to know to make your first batch of echinacea tincture.

One of the books my mom always referenced a lot was “Prescription for Nutritional Healing”. Now there is a whole series of these books, and the one I would like to add to my bookshelf would be “Prescription for Herbal Health”. I haven’t seen the Herbal Health book myself, but I have an old copy of “Prescription for Nutritional Healing” and have always liked the format and being able to look up any disease and see the description of symptoms and recommended treatments.

Lindsay also recommends “Prescription for Nutritional Healing” and her other favorite book over at Passionate Homemaking.

 

Another hand-me-down from my mom (she figured I could use them more in my season of mothering than she in hers with only teens left in the house!) is “An Encyclopedia of Natural Healing for Children and Infants”. This book has a list of common childhood illnesses as well as a list of herbs used commonly in treating children, so you can search the book for information from both angles.

The fact is, however, that I have not had a whole lot of experience treating my own children for typical childhood illnesses because, frankly, they are rarely sick. I think that is owing largely to this book – “Nourishing Traditions”. All three of my kids have been on a real food, limited processed foods diet their entire lives, and the results seem to be that their bodies fight off disease the way God designed. I am very grateful for this – even if it means I don’t have much practical experience in natural healing!

Prevention seems to be the best cure, after all.

This summer I do plan to make some of my own tinctures and herbal tea blends and even venture into the realm of creams and salves. Mountain Rose Herbs will be my source for the oils and beeswax I know I’ll need for these creations! They have a wide variety of herbs and stuff for making your own remedies. Check out their ad in my sidebar!

Linked up at:
Real Food Wednesdays at KellyTheKitchenKop

Do you treat yourself naturally before you go to the doctor? What are your favorite resources for caring for you and your kids? Please share books and websites – I’m looking to study this more myself!

Green Pastures Fermented Cod Liver Oil – Review and Giveaway!!!

I am so excited about this post, I should write in all caps – but I will restrain myself. ☺ Today I have the privilege of reviewing the new Emulsified Fermented Cod Liver Oil from Green Pastures. Why am I so excited about this Cod Liver Oil?

Because this is the best Cod Liver Oil out there.
It’s fermented - when I first heard about Green Pastures, their oils where not available yet ’cause they were still fermenting. The traditional and most beneficial cod liver oil is fermented for 6-12 months. It’s now available and offers these advantages:

  • Fermented CLO is easier to digest than regular CLO
  • Absorption is increased and the nutrients are easier to assimilate
  • Contains 2 1/2 times more Vitamins A & D and uses no heat during production therefore retaining the precious enzymes, vitamins and other nutrients
  • Fished from pristine waters off the Alaskan Aleutian Islands to ensure purity

It’s Emulsified -
From Green Pasture’s Website –

“The  Emulsified FCLO products are different from other emulsified products in the market today.  The high level of nutrient dense FCLO included in each serving allows for small amounts to be taken with great effect.  The ingredients we use are healthful such as real soluble fiber to assist the bulking of the product.  The bulking/emulsified condition allows for the flavors to have a better impact on your tongue and coats the oil. Many will find the new Emulsified FCLO more pleasurable experience compared to taking real FCLO liquids we currently offer.”

(emphasis mine) The new consistency makes it easier to just swallow down a small amount on a spoon, rather than trying to mix it into something to swig down. 

It’s got great Flavor - 
  I know, I know – you can’t believe Cod Liver Oil could ever ‘taste good’. My previous experience with trying to get my kids and myself on this stuff resulted in several gagging sessions and promptly selling the bottle off to a friend with more will power. I figured the only way for me to take it was via pill, and my kids would have to learn how to swallow pills before they could enjoy the awesome benefits of cod liver oil in their diet. I wasn’t going to make them take something I couldn’t even get down.

Then I tasted Green Pasture’s new product, with brand new, kid-tested flavors and I said – “Oh! Hey, that’s not that bad!” Again, I quote Dave at Green Pastures – “the emulsified’s are not only easy to take but .. do i dare say, enjoyable.”

My Personal Review
When I first opened the jar, I was a little disturbed by the consistency – mostly ’cause I wasn’t expecting it – it’s kinda gloppy. But that’s what the emulsification process does to it, I guess – and it does make it easier to spoon it and take it (the other oil I tried was very runny and messy).

I know what my readers really want to know, though, is if my kids could hack it. I lie not – I gave Claire a spoonful and she swallowed it down,
didn’t even make a face,
and asked for more!

Jesse was a little tougher – mainly ’cause he’s old enough to have an opinion. No amount of bribery was working on my part, but he swallowed it right down when daddy gave it to him (hooray!) and actually admitted it wasn’t as bad as he feared. I reward them both with juice or milk to wash it down, and then we go on with breakfast.

We plan on making cod liver oil a regular part of our morning. I usually take the pills (I won a bottle from Modern Alternative Mamma a few months ago) but will change to the oils just to give the kids an example. I found that with the oils I tend to have some fishy burps for the rest of the morning, but the kids haven’t complained of anything. (If I sandwich the pills in the middle of a meal I don’t burp at all)

The flavors are great – strong and pure thanks to the essential oils. I’m really impressed. Our favorite flavor so far is the Spearmint. I liked the Ginger, however, ’cause when I burped, they were ginger burps rather than fishy burps. TMI? Oh, sorry! I was also impressed with the Licorice – though that is not usually a flavor I prefer, again, the purity of the essential oil flavoring appealed to me.

As for Seth Franklin – I think he likes it best! Doesn’t seem to notice in my milk, but I love that I’m adding to the nutritional value of his milk by taking it myself. 

In Summary – as far as Cod Liver Oils go, this is the best. 

Why take Cod Liver Oil?
I’m gonna let Kelly, over at KellyTheKitchenKop educate you on that – she’s done a great job with a collection of posts highlighting all the benefits.

You can also read Kate’s review of their product here. She also answers the question “Is it affordable?” I found her tips and view very helpful.

One of the main reasons I wanted to incorporate it into my diet was for the positive effect  it can have on hormones. Having three babies in 5 years has my body depleted, and it has taken me longer to recover from Seth Franklin’s birth. After finally getting in the habit of remembering to take the capsules regularly, I at last feel my hormones evening out – hallelujah!

It’s one of those traditional supplements – a real superfood – that I am convinced will benefit my family – that’s why I’ve gone to the trouble of researching and finding the best brand AND contacting the seller so I can offer it to my readers as well!

The Giveaway
So, here’s the deal. I get to give away a bottle of Green Pasture’s Emulsified Cod Liver Oil to THREE of my wonderful readers. Here’s how you get your name in the hat:

  1. Go to Green Pastures, check out their New Emulsified Cod Liver Oils and choose what flavor you’d like to try.
  2. Leave me a comment – with your name-  telling me what flavor you want if you win!

It’s that simple. Of course, if you want to up your chances:

  • Facebook about the giveaway – say something like “I’m gonna win Green Pastures Cod Liver Oil from Trina at All That Is Good!” and be sure to share the link to my blog
  • Tweet  “I’m gonna win Green Pastures Cod Liver Oil from Trina at All That Is Good!” – again, including the link to this post.
  • Blog about this giveaway!

Leave a separate comment for each way that you spread the word about the giveaway and increase your chances of winning!

The Contest is open until Friday, May 6th, 2011, and the winner will be announced Monday, May 9th.

Added Bonus – While exploring Green Pasture’s website I found that they are doing a giveaway for their blog readers – a free book (Nourishing Traditions is one of the picks!) with purchase of 3 bottles of cod liver oil. Go in with some friends and get the free book of your choice with your order!

Be sure to visit Green Pastures Today!

Giveaway is now closed – congrats to our winners, Beks, Kristina, Maria!

6 Things I’ve Having A Blast With This Week

1. I was privileged to be one of the recipe testers for Kate’s soon-to-be-released e-cookbook, “Against the Grain” Delicious recipes for the Whole Food and Grain-Free Diet. It was a blast helping her test and refine a few of the recipes – first, because it was like someone else took over menu planning for me for a few nights (the hardest part of putting food on the table for me), and second, because the recipes were so good and required no reverse-engineering or substituting ingredients to bring them up to my nutrition standards. Oh, and they were delicious. Wow. I totally recommend the book when it comes out. See more details here.

2. Traveling South. Jeremy took me with him on quick business trip to Philadelphia at the beginning of the week. I took the opportunity to visit some stores they don’t have in our area.

A friend of mine spoke truth when she said, “Everyone should have the chance to visit IKEA at such a young age!” I was 28 years behind, but it was awesome!

I know what you are thinking. “What! Trina eats fast food!???” Yup. There is a time and season for everything, folks. I like to say I eat well at home so I can afford the occasional splurge or treat when out and about. Chick-fil-A is my fast food of choice -when the time and place call for a quick bite of fast food, I love me a good chickfillet sandwich. Think about it – It’s a business that honors the Lord’s day (closed on Sundays), plays Christian music in the restaurant, always has FRESH FLOWERS on the tables, and supports marriage counseling and 7 other outreaches with some of their proceeds…If I’m gonna do fast food, this is where I’m gonna eat.
I just blocked my mind to the fact that every single item on the menu has sugar, and all but the fruit cup have soy in it. And that my kidney’s positively ached after that vanilla milkshake….

3. Letter Writing. My soldier wrote me back! Wow, I was so blessed that my brother used  a few of his precious free moments to send me a letter from boot camp.

He was so thankful I had written, so, of course, I sat down immediately to write him again. I am reveling in reviving the lost art of letter wrting around here. I think receiving a personal letter in the mail is so often the highlight of that day or week because it is a gift of TIME – pure, undiluted, quality, intentional time…

  • Letter writing is something you can’t multitask while doing.
  • It takes longer than any other form of communication.
  • It produces something tangible for the recipient. 

It is a gift worth the time.

4. I’ve been sewing. It’s too soon to tell you exactly what, but I’m thinking a another tutorial (like this one) might be on it’s way. I’ve had such a breakthrough in the sewing room, I just have to share it with you. Get ready – gather some old t-shirts or raid the plus-sized section of the thrift store!

5. I’ve been playing in the kitchen. My absolute favorite thing in the kitchen is transformations. I love baking ’cause you turn a sloppy, gloppy liquid (dough) into a light, airy, dry texture (bread!). You take solids and make them liquid, liquids to solids, colors and textures change – it’s all so exciting.

So this week I was practicing my mozzerella cheese making again. And it failed. Again. BUT, I think I’m on the right track. I tried not to let the failure get to me, and turned around to make the leftover whey into ricotta (something I’ve always had success with after failed mozz.) Well, that failed, too.

Then I was mad.

Wow, I can’t believe I’m putting this photo up here for all the blog-world to see. This is me, with my failed clump of mozzerella cheese right before I threw it in the garbage.

 6. So, I turned to pasta making. That was a huge success. And so much fun.  I have the extruder attachment for my kitchen aide
 

It’s like the ultimate play-dough experience – except you get to eat it when you’re done. (and it doesn’t have that awful saltiness, either! :))

First successful elbow noodle experiment.

Now I need to get off the computer and work on the next thing – lasagna noodles!


What have you been doing this week? Is it spring where you are?

Why I Don’t Have Time For Facebook

I told you about my affair with facebook. I told you about my facebook fast. Next week I’m gonna tell you how I have brought more balance into my computer time and broken the addiction to facebook.

But this week I just wanted to share with you the awesomeness that has left me with little or no time for facebook or other time-wasters online.

Congrats to all you people who have used facebook as a ministry tool or formed deep friendships as a result of your time there. But me – I’ve realized I personally can’t afford to be on Facebook. I feel it is one of the cheapest forms of interaction on the web, with the lowest quality content. Think about it -  the easier it is to post something, the less time it takes (and facebook is all about small, short, easy bits of whatever) the lower the quality. Unless your Emily Dickenson or somebody who can spell a life in 3 short lines. Which I am not. In case you hadn’t noticed.

But I am an aspiring writer. A busy homemaker. A child of God who yearns for more – more life, more grace, more joy, more God, and more chances to tell of Him. That’s why I don’t have time for Facebook. Because I’m feeding my passions and my soul with things more worthy.

I’m so excited – I’ve been gathering this list of links and books for two months in preparation for this post! Here’s what I’m doing, where I’m hanging out online and what I’m reading when I’m not.

Websites
I had an epiphany last month. I thought, if I want to be a better mother, I should get myself some mentors in that area. If I want to improve my writing, I should read good writers. It occurred to me that, just as Passionate Homemaking is my inspiration blog for all things nourishing in my kitchen and home, there might be blogs out there that could feed my other passions. Then one of my readers mentioned the Relevant Conference. I went on the site to fantasize about going and saw the list of speakers. And all their blogs. I immediately added every one of them to my RSS feed. The weeks since have been a slow digging through the rich content on these blogs and deciding which ones are custom fit for me and that I will keep in my feed.

If you’re not sure you could spend less time on facebook, I challenge you to find some higher quality content in an area of personal interest and then see if you run out of time for facebook like I did.

These are some of my favorite blogs (both new discoveries and old favorites). I wish I had time to read all the archives, they’re that good.

Passionate Homemaking – My favorite Nourishing Living blog ’cause I can relate to Lindsay so much.
Pleasant View Schoolhouse -  She quit blogging over the summer but she’s back!
Gypsy Mama -Writing Inspiration (Five Min. Fridays), Relevant Speaker
A Holy Experience -Author of “One Thousand Gifts” and Relevant Conference Speaker
Pioneer Woman – Eye candy and a good laugh
Modern Alternative Mamma – For well-researched info on all things alternative.
Resolved2Worship Beauty, Inspiration

Books.Then, there’s the books. Oh, my, the books! Have you been spending so much time online that you don’t read books anymore? I had forgotten my goal of being a lover of good books. On a recent Amazon Spending Spree, I added some delicious titles to my to-be-read pile. Seriously, people. Facebook can’t hold a candle to the content here…

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons - My first official curriculum perchase. My sis-in-law has taught all her kids with this book – wore out her first copy and is on her second. That and the fact that it’s phonics-based was enough recommendation for me. I’ll let you know how it goes.

When the Hurt Runs Deep – I received a free copy of this book to review from Blogging for Books. I’m half way through – review coming when I finish!

The Lost Mission - I love Athol Dickson! And this was my favorite of his works so far – the best novel I’ve read this year.

Confessions of a Transformed Heart – It’s been a while since I’ve read a missionary biography. These things ought not so to be! I knew I needed to read this when Alyssa mentioned it and how Nancy writes of her affirmation addiction and how she learned to live for Christ alone. Workin’ on that. Yeah.

One Thousand Gifts – Totally stayed up too late reading this last night. It’s like chocolate. No – Coconut oil for the soul (those who know me know mow much I love coconut oil!)! Buy this book asap and read it in every spare moment and experience spring in your heart. All the hubub about this book is valid – it really is awesome.

For the Children’s Sake – Haven’t started this one yet – but I can hardly wait. It’s a favorite of my mother’s, though she loaned her copy and never got it back so I hadn’t read it yet.

When You Rise Up – One of my readers recommended this one to me (thanks, Jessica!). Only one chapter so far – it’s deep. It’s good. I’m reading it to Jeremy when we are in the car together. This book is going to help shape our family’s approach to education.

ESV Bible – My husband picked up this portable little edition of the ESV Bible. After reading KJV all my life, it’s like the Bible has come alive again. Don’t get me wrong – I love my KJV. But I’m really getting a lot out of this version, and it’s a translation I trust. I highly recommend it.

Letters. Last, but not least, I don’t have time for Facebook because I’m writing letters. Another lost art. Don’t let it be. It had been a long time since I wrote a letter – I write thank you notes and little notes of encouragement (and that not often enough) but a letter? I wrote one this week to this handsome man…

My brother…joined the Marines and entered Boot camp this month. “Letters are a life line for recruits” the information letter said. I’m trying to be a faithful letter writer to someone who needs encouragement. Some one I’m very proud of. Have you written a letter lately?

How about you? What’s your favorite place online? What books have you been reading lately? Please share in the comments!

A Little Chat About Vaccinations

 I’m going in depth with one of the topics from the list of “12 Things That Work For Me” in my posts about living intentionally.

We don’t vaccinate our children. This is a highly personal topic, and the only reason I’m posting about it is because I want to make sure you know YOU have a choice, and to encourage you to make an informed decision. So, I’ll share some of my reasons and research, then you go do your own, ok?

Here’s some reasons we don’t vaccinate - 

  • We believe that, while vaccinations may have been a life-saving invention, better hygiene and nutrition have been the biggest factors in controlling epidemics.
  • We believe that in modern times, mass vaccinations for an increasing number of diseases is driven by drug companies profits more than people’s health.
  • We do believe that there is a link between vaccinations and auto-immune diseases (like allergies, autism, and other developmental disabilities)

Personal Stories…
I have personally known two precious young ladies who, after vaccinations at the age of 2, began to regress in their development until they were non-verbal, wheelchair bound, and almost completely unresponsive…one died by the time she was 16. Seeing that makes you think twice and want to do a little research into whether vaccinations are the best choice for your family.

Jeremy said one evening when we were discussing our decision not to vaccinate, “We like our children to talk to us!” I can’t imagine Seth, or any of my children, suddenly losing the desire or ability to smile at us, and maybe never learn to talk. If there’s the slightest chance that vaccinations can cause these kinds of diseases, I’m determined to be cautious and informed.

Another personal story has to do with the pertussis vaccination – for Whooping Cough. My mother stopped taking us kids in for our vaccinations when I was about 10, so I and three of my siblings had received some of our vaccinations. (I’ll never forget the the day Mom said we were not going in for the appointment for our shots – I was almost physically sick with relief. So not a fan.) Later, when our family had grown to 7 children, 3 of whom had never received vaccinations, we got the whooping cough. The interesting thing was that those of us who had been vaccinated (including Mom and Dad) got it worse than the kids who had not. Hmmm.

In some ways it was easy for me and Jeremy to choose not to vaccinate our children – our parents had already gone counter-culture and broken the trail for us. But a conversation with the doctor who circumcised Seth, questions from curious friends, and the topic coming up frequently on the news motivated us to look again at the research so we could articulate why we had chosen the route we were on. It’s amazing what you find if you turn your ear from the propaganda promoted by the drug companies and do a little digging. We have been thoroughly convinced that this is the right choice for our family.

Care to do some digging? Here are some sites where you can get started.



1. Modern Alternative Mamma thoroughly addresses questions like, “Do Vaccinations Cause Autism?” and uncovers the myths behind the need for vaccines. I appreciate her posts – they are balanced, discussing both sides of the issue, and she always posts links to the actual studies and all her sources.

“Contrary to popular belief, vaccines did not reduce the rates of diseases nearly as much as other measures did. In fact, in the early 1960s, rates of measles cases and deaths fell over 99% — before the introduction of the vaccination in 1968“. - Modern Alternative Mamma, Argument Against Vaccinations

2. Keeper of the Home has a good collection of articles for those exploring the whole Vaccination Issue. Start with “The Thoughtful Parent’s Guide to Thinking Through Vaccinations”. Here’s some of the 10 Questions they encourage you to ask when considering a vaccine for your child -

  1. What disease(s) is this vaccine aiming to protect against?
  2. What is the a) probable outcome of this disease, and b) worst-case scenario outcome?
  3. Today, is this disease treatable and/or preventable by other/natural means?
  4. What are possible dangers in this type of vaccine (look up whole list of ingredients)

3. Kelly the Kitchen Kop has a whole slew of posts on vaccinations, including the saga of how she has legally avoided vaccines for her public-school-enrolled children.  If you are really questioning whether you could ‘get away’ with not vaccinating your kids, the fact is, you as a parent still have the right to choose what is best for your child. Kelly has literally put dozens of hours into each of her posts on the topic.

So, if I don’t vaccinate, what do I do to protect my kids from disease? Build up their immune system naturally. Breastfeed. Feed them whole, nutrient dense foods. Let them play in the dirt. Pray for them, and thank God for the privilege of raising them and the freedom to make wise choices for their health.

This post is part of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday!

Best Marriage Advice EVER

I was privileged to attend Mark Gungor’s Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage Seminar last October with Jeremy. I have never laughed so hard while ingesting such sound Biblical counsel. That is why I was delighted to hear that he would be on Focus on the Family this week. I just finished listening to today’s broadcast for the second time and just had to get on here to encourage you to do the same.

Married or single, difficult marriage or smooth sailing, you absolutely must listen to this 30 min. episode. The first day was much the same content that we heard at the seminar, but today was a question and answer session and it was just awesome. Mark is so funny, you will love his humor, but his wise advice and Godly perspective on marriage and men and women may change the way you look at marriage for the rest of your life.


Yesterday’s Broadcast of Mark Gungor on Focus on the Family
Today’s Broadcast (my favorite) of Mark Gungor on Focus on the Family


Mark Gungor’s website – lots of free content – video clips of his seminars, and a daily online tv show on relationships – makes me wish (for the 47th time this week) that we had faster internet!

Be sure to let the man in your life hear it too – I promise he will love it – Mark is real affirming to guys (unlike many marriage speakers) and Jeremy is a real fan of his stuff.