Friday, July 31, 2009

My First Garden

If you've been reading for awhile, you understand that one of my dreams is to become a master gardener. I had no idea that this dream would lead me to the organic, hippy-ish lifestyle that I have now grabbed hold of. I find it incredible, the joy that always bubbles up when I am able to spend time in creation. The truths and metaphors that you discover, the realities that show you that life can come from death (as crazy as that sounds), make me want to shout and dance and sing.In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul is talking about the resurrection. I like this chapter because it reminds me of how I might talk about something that I understand, but it's the first time I'm trying to explain it to someone in depth. I can't quite make it clear, so I say the same thing over and over again, just in a different way. One of the ways he tries to explain it is like this...

That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies;and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else.

But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own.

How cool is it that we can be compared to a bare grain now or a dirty bulb, but the body we will have when we rise again, is like the sleek wheat stalk in comparison or the gorgeous lily. Doesn't it just make you excited about being alive? And I mean...I love life....as a grain! How much more will I love it as the fruit of that grain?! Just one more observation. Isn't it cool that the type of grain we are is the type of body we will be transformed into? The original creation and our uniqueness and distinct characteristics will still separate us from each other like they do now. We'll still be individuals, loving our Father and King more fully!

Alright, now you can climb out of the bundle of neural connections that are my brain, and I'll tell you about my garden! :) I have one! Thanks to Sarah (check out her cool blog ---> here!) Hurray! I am looking forward to growing a bunch of things, and then eating, drying, curing, canning or making essential oils out of them! I am seriously excited!!!

Here's the spot we chose for the garden in the backyard!

AND....(drumroll please) here's the garden after!

We have one plant! His name is Adam (he's the first of all the plants), and he's a chive plant. Next on the list to plant that we can still harvest this year are lettuce, kale, collard greens, and others. We're also planting garlic soon!

My Favorite Little Corner of the Kitchen


So we've been moved for a week now...I guess a little more than that, actually. Things aren't moving along as fast as I would like, but they are definitely moving and I am so grateful for everyone's help. While Evan went to work straight away on the music room, my first project was the kitchen - I mean, you gotta eat right?!
So here's the product of my labor so far. I'm LOVING it! We had little to no natural light in our old apartment and a sort of galley-type kitchen. This is so nice for us!

I have my little produce prep and herb drying corner!
Complete with a fruit fly trap...I got the idea from Lindsey at Passionate Homemaking. Just put a bit of apple cider vinegar and a small piece of whatever seems to be attracting the fruit flys (banana, peaches, etc.). Make a funnel out of some scrapbook paper and stick it in the top of a nice glass jar or bottle. I like the little glass container that I have with a spouted top and the netting. That way I don't have to tape the paper on to keep the flies from escaping and I don't have to see them flying around in there. It works splendidly!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Bear with Me

I'm trying to get this whole 3 Column thing down, so bear with me as I fine tune everything. :)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

From Nature with Love


I found another great website and wanted to share it with all of you. Mountain Rose Herbs is still a favorite, but this is another one where you can get a lot of organic products for household and personal care. Check out FROM NATURE WITH LOVE for tips on soapmaking, essential oils, and even great environmentally friendly and appropriate bottles and containers!

Freebie - Deodorant Orders!

Okay, this might sound weird but ever since I posted that I was making my own deodorant, I've had a lot of people respond that they would like to try it. So...I'm going to order a bunch of containers and make a bunch! :)
Let me know if you'd like to try it. Just comment and leave me way to contact you so I can figure out the best way to ship it or drop it off. It might take me a couple weeks but I will get it to you.
Also, let me know if you'd like the unscented or scented. I would suggest the scented....because it smells great and the essential oils I use help keep bacteria, viruses, and fungi at bay, but I know some people are very sensitive to different smells.
I'll let you know when I have some other "NATURALLY FREE" products for you to try

Monday, July 27, 2009

Psalm 34:1-5

This is my shout of worship today. I just can't hardly say it without my heart feeling like it's going to explode with gratitude and joy! It just makes me want to dance with a flower in my hair. Thank You dear Yahweh, my first Love!

I will bless the LORD at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul will make its boast in the LORD;
The humble will hear it and rejoice.
O magnify the LORD with me,
And let us exalt His name together.
I sought the LORD, and He answered me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces will never be ashamed.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Shoe Organizer = Hanging Herb Garden


Imagine having a vertical herb garden growing on the side of your house. My hubby send me this one. It is SO cool! Check it out at Lifehacker.com and Instructables.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

DIY Vintage Herb Labels


Okay, so most of you know that I'm on this natural, herbal kick. So I was SUPER excited to find this tutorial on DIY Vintage Herb Labels on EatDrinkChic. She even has a free download of the labels!
She also has vintage labels for oil, vinegar, teas, and more --> here!
I'm going to try to start making some of my own essential oils next week after I do some picking at Victory Acres. So stay tuned for that herbal adventure! :)

Seriously Now?!


So we just moved in...wait, we're in the process of moving into our new home in Upland. Exciting stuff. Among the things that I'm excited about are the fenced in back yard, the sun room, all the natural light pouring into my kitchen, the glass top stove and the lovely pull out sprayer faucet. Ev just installed a programmable thermostat as well. So when he's home it can be cold as ice, and when he's not we can save on our electricity bill. AWEsome!!!
Our first night here, Elliot and I waited anxiously for Ev to get back from Chicago to surprise him with the move. My son crawled into the bathroom, looked at the tub, squealed and pulled himself up on it, looking at me with a big smile. At this point, I realized that Elliot had not had a real bath in about two days. I had washed him down before bed each night, but this messy little boy needed a bath. I was thinking, "Okay, Elliot. We'll have a bath before you go to bed." Like we normally do (routine includes: bath, massage, turning on music, dancing, reading a book, having a bottle, going to sleep). So I said, "Okay, buddy. We'll take a bath but come on out here for now." He scowled at me, threw himself over the side of the tub and started beating on it with both hands, yelling "BAAAAA!" Wow! Seriously?! That's hilarious!
I start to panic though because we don't have a plug for the drain, so I pick him and tell him that he can have a bath we just need to find something to plug up the drain. As soon as we walk out of the bathroom he starts to cry, there are boxes everywhere, and I don't know what to do. Finally, I find the sticky plastic that was laid down on the carpet for our move. I cut a piece of that off, stick it over the drain, run him a bath, throw in a bath bomb and some toys, and he is just happy as a little lark. I kid you not! As I'm running this bath, he is trying to jump over the side with his clothes on, which is just funny, cause he can't jump yet. As soon as I sit him in the water, he lets out this big sigh and starts singing to his toys.
Now at this point you might be thinking, "Wow, Megan. That's a cute story, but is it really deserving of the "Seriously Now?!" title?"
Oh yeah, just one more thing. The next day, I walked into the bathroom, looked at the tub and realized I just had to flip the little "drain switch" on the tub. No plug required! ----------> Seriously now?!?! That's ridiculous!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ribbon Beaded Jewelry


I've seen these several places and tried to make them on my own once and failed miserably. So I was really excited to find this simple tutorial on Little Birdie Secrets on how to make them. I'm thinking a necklace! Maybe navy blue with some polka dots?

Beautiful Bubbles


I love blowing bubbles!
originally uploaded by SaylaMarz on Flickr.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Adventura En Espanol

I'm going to take Spanish this fall for the first time! This is going to be quite the adventure, but I'm glad to be taking it with my friend and co-worker Jill and having a weekly Spanish-only time with Bill where no English is allowed. Jill has quite appropriately dubbed this time "Entrevista."
In recognition of this new journey toward bilingual-ness (hopefully, tri if I can just get my French vocab up to speed), I have put a new application on this blog that will give us all a new Spanish word each day.
So learn along with me!

Friday, July 17, 2009

U-Pick Season!


Time to get out there and pick your own fresh fruits and veggies! We went out and picked some fresh blueberries yesterday, and Elliot had a blast, especially when he found a car battery in the middle of the field. SERIOUSLY?! Who does that?! After we moved down a few rows from that hazard, he had fun picking blueberries and definitely decided that the blue ones were better for eating than the green ones!
I'll be getting some more herbs today. The pesto that I posted the recipe for was fantastic! I mixed it with a little Laughing Cow cheese, spread it on some bread, and topped the sandwich off with some cucumbers. SO good!
We've missed the strawberry picking season. But right now, you can do blueberries, green beans, herbs, etc. And we still have raspberries and lots of veggies still to come!
I'm picking up some Kohlrabi from my CSA today. First time to even HEAR of that, but I'm excited to see what we can do with it.

For the Tea Lover

To my fellow tea lovers. I have a couple of resources for you to try. First, have you ever tried making your tea in a French Press? If not, join me on this adventure. A new co-worker told me about how she makes hers and I think it's a fantastic way to brew your loose-leaf tea without having to worry about getting the right/best/most economical/most environmentally friendly tea bags.
Also, I have two websites for you to try. If you're a creative, artsy type, try out Teavana. You'll learn a lot about different types of teas, and you can even mix up your own. If you're more of an organic, earthy type try out Mountain Rose Herbs. They have lots of different loose leaf teas with information on the health benefits of each. I think you might be able to put together a little sampler pack there as well.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Seriously Now?!


We went boating on Winona Lake this weekend....SO FUN! We went tubing as well. I went tubing on a couple runs by myself and then on a couple runs with Emily. I had never gone with two people before and that was a blast too. Here's the thing, I woke up this morning, after being thrown around the lake yesterday like skipping stone, pulled myself out of bed after a pretty restful night (Elliot slept for over 11.5 hours!), and then came the problem. You see, I thought that I could still walk normally, like I could about seven hours earlier when I lumbered into bed. I also thought that I would be able to take a shower and raise my hands enough above my head to wash my hair without my body telling me that was a bad idea. I was REALLY sore.
Seriously now?! I'm 25, not in bad shape. Plus, I carry a loveable 20+ pound weight with me just about everywhere. What is the deal?!
So, I decided my body and I were going to have a discussion! This was ridiculous! I felt like an old, OLD woman. I'm not saying I felt like woman past middle-age with some gray hair and carpel tunnel. I'm saying I felt like I had the range of motion of shuffling, walker-toting woman. C'mon Body! What's going on? Seriously now?!
So here's how the discussion went (mind you, I was pretty sure from the get go that I was going to win):

Me: Ugh! What in the world?! C'mon!
Body: (remains silent, except for the slight cracking in my shoulder)
Me: Okay, we're going to talk. I am 25 years old and should not be having problems like this. I feel really old!
Body: Really?
Me: Yes! And in case you didn't notice, I'm not old. I'm young.
Body: Hmm...so just let me tell you what I'm hearing. You think that I should be able to go through 25 years of germs, illnesses, accidents, injuries, and surgeries. Then I have a baby, you don't exercise me regularly, and you give me an average of 6 hours of sleep a night. THEN! You fling me around a lake on a tube at the end of a rope and beat me against the water. You don't want to feel any of that right?
Me: (sheepishly) I'm sorry Body.
Body: C'mon! Seriously now?!
Me: (remains silent, except for the slight cracking in my ankle)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

First CSA Experience


My friend Kayla clued me in to this Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) movement that's sweeping the country. Maybe it's not a movement, maybe it has been going on forever, and I'm just now learning about it. But there is a CSA farm in Upland, where we're moving.
Basically, you buy a share of this farm for a year, and then you get a portion of their harvest during that season. Our season lasts from the beginning of June through October. So we are going to have fresh, organic, locally-grown produce for that amount of time. Our CSA does mostly vegatables and herbs. Then they have pasteur-fed chickens and eggs as well. After you've paid for your share, it equals out to about $1 per pound of vegetables.
So at Victory Acres this is how it works --> You go and check off your name and pick up your veggies and herbs. They have this list of how much of each thing you get, and you get to gather it from these crates and pick which ones you want. This week we had summer squash, red & yellow onions, cucumbers, swiss chard, and basil. If you get a vegetable that you and your family don't particularly like, or you have too much of it, you can take it and leave it in the "swap box." Then if there is anything that you particularly would like more of you can check the "swap box" and just take it. Also, if there is anything they have in over-abudance you can pick as much of it as you want by yourself. This week they had quite a bit of basil, so they supplied pesto recipes and let us go pick a ton of it. We were able to pick basil, oregano, thyme, and chives. Let's just say, my car smelled was a very fragrant vehicle!
I would encourage you to check out a CSA in your area, most people don't even know they exist, but several farms have drop-offs in larger cities too.

Here's the pesto recipe that we'll be trying this week!

Pesto

3 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves
3-4 large cloves of garlic
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup parmesan
Optional: 1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts, lightly toasted
Optional: salt & peper to taste

1) Place basil and galric in a blender or food processor and mince well
2) Add nuts, if desired and continue to blend.
3) Drizzle in olive oil as you continue to blend. When you have a smooth paste, transfer to a bowl and stir in parmesan.
4) Season to taste with salt and pepper, refrigerate in an air-tight container.

Pesto is often used with pasta, fish, etc. One of my favorite uses for it is to mix it with cream cheese as a sandwich spread. Enjoy!

Pill Towels


Find a tutorial on how to make your own Pill Towels on Instructables. My advice would be to use castile soap, since it is the best for you and is biodegradable. Also, even though they're a little more expensive, it would be best to get the most cloth-like paper towels that you can for the project.

I haven't done this one yet, but I plan to this week. I'll let you know if I have any more tips.

The possibilities for this are endless! I'm excited about them for camping, traveling with Elliot, and keeping a couple in my purse for clean-up emergencies.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Delays

Sorry for delay in updating. I've been incredibly busy lately, and I'm very tired tonight. However, I do have a lot of things to put up here as soon as I get a minute when my mind is working and my eyes can stay open.
Until then...thanks for reading, and I'll have some great stuff up soon.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Book Suggestions

I co-coordinate a book club for my office and I was wondering if any of you out there had some suggestions on some great books that you've read recently. I have already received some suggestions from a few co-workers, but I'm always open to more. I'd like to be able to come up with some kind of tickler with a list of books that we can vote on discussing and read through together.
So leave me a comment and let me know about a really good book you've read lately. :)
Thanks for your help!

Explore - Dream - Discover


LOVE THIS!!! (from kindovermatter)
157|365 ||| explore, originally uploaded by .bella..

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Headbands!!!


Okay, so I'm totally a headband sort of girl. I just saw this one featured on One Pretty Thing and had to go to the tutorial. I love it! Super excited about making one soon. Check out Jessica's blog at for the tutoral at HappyTogether. She has so many good ideas!

A Festive Fun-Filled Fourth!


Amidst the drizzle yesterday, we had a great time! Beth and Evan worked on laying down some tracks for her demo in the morning and then we headed out in our red, white and blue to the festivities at the Smith Ranch.
We had a lovely cookout with family and friends, and after calling the Fire Department to make sure that the horrible rumors about postponing fireworks were indeed false, we headed into town to take our traditional spot in the high school parking lot and watch the fireworks. Elliot wasn't quite sure about them, as you can see from his facial expressions on the bottom left.
Then back to the Ranch for more fireworks and Patriot Pops - YUM! (Thanks to Amy at TheIdeaRoom for the recipe - we used Dixie Cups and Toothpicks, because I don't have those cool tupperware freezer pop things. Check out her creative fourth of July treats here)
Also, even though you can't see it well in any of these pics, I made my headband from the tutorial on UCreate --> Here!
Today we stopped by Upland to drop off some boxes and were able to meet one of Ev's new co-workers and his wife, which was lovely. Now we're back home, doing laundry and gearing up for another big week.

New Artist Records at my House!

*Photograph by Kristi Michelle Witek*
Bethany Smith...aMAZing lyricist and song writer...recorded at my house this weekend! Not everything is up yet, but you can check out a few of her rough mixes on PureVolume and she's got her website up and running with bio, news, photos, etc.
Beautiful girl, great songs - she makes a sister proud!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Changes, Planners, & Rainwater

Visionary, planner, learner – these are not characteristics that I ever set out to build into my life. As far as I know, they have always been a part of that person that is uniquely me. Because I am always interested in learning new things, I don’t learn much about anything. I’m one of those jack-of-all trades, master of none sorts. I could probably talk to anyone about anything for five to ten minutes and sound somewhat knowledgeable (except for maybe taxidermy), but as soon as we hit that ten minute mark, it’s obvious to the expert on the other end of the conversation that I should probably transition to a new topic of interest.

My mom bought me my first planner at a very young age. Five, I think. She would write in the daily activities for me to read, because I wanted so badly to know how to structure my little girl day that I would ask her incessantly about what was coming next. Unlike the traits listed above, flexibility and availability are qualities that I highly value, but have had to take pain-staking measures to incorporate into my person and still struggle apply in day-to-day situations. I seriously have to write “free time” into my calendar like a seventh grader at summer camp to make sure that I don’t book every hour of every day.

I truly believe that one life can change the world, and I believe that every life makes a significant impact on it. I can usually see problems coming before they happen, and I have pictures in the various corners of my mind of how the world can be better. I feel like it’s my responsibility to make that better-ness happen and I try to plan how I can take some sort of quantifiable or measureable action to move us toward this slightly more heavenly place. When I was a little girl, I strategically placed kitchen bowls along the sidewalk outside our house to collect rainwater to bathe in because I was sure that rainwater was more natural than the water that came out of our house faucets so only it could make my dry skin softer and my hair glisten and flow like a fairy’s. I hope that my current aspirations and strategies aren’t quite as na├»ve, but I also never want to be the girl that C.S. Lewis describes as one that insists on making mud pies in the slums when a holiday is offered for her at sea – far too easily pleased.

I have few constants in my life, among them are change, love, and grace, but about 8 years ago, I added a new one. It was a vision. A dream that has stuck by my side and directed my education for almost a decade. I’ve had these years to refine it and plan my points of action, so this sucker is specific: a faith-based multi-dimensional residential therapy center for troubled youth. In times of transition, grief, and joy, it has remained in my heart as the way I will make my mark, serve my Lord, leave my significant impact. I’ve attacked this thing head on, aggressively pursued internships, purposefully built a network of supporters, maintained memberships in professional organizations and more. It sounds more serious and noble…more admirable than washing my hair with rainwater. But the little girl with her naivety and kitchen bowls filled with magic liquid is still with me.

I didn’t count on being a different person at 25 than I was at 16. I didn’t plan on working in the job that I have, and loving it. My sweet, little boy was a few more years down the road in my mind’s list of action points. My husband and I hardly knew each other 8 years ago. But if someone would have told me all this, I don’t think I would have listened, and I’m glad that I didn’t. As a learner, these eight years have taught me so much, and I know that they have not been in vain! I have also learned in the past few months that I need to take my dream, part of my internal consistency and stability, back to the drawing board. It doesn’t change my life calling of healing emotional pain and developing potential, but it might alter my method of achieving it. My heart does grieve this loss, but my mind is excited about what God will teach me through this process. His love and grace are constants that will not change and give me a rock to stand on through those things that do.

So…if you happen to see a girl walking around with a planner and kitchen bowl filled with some water and a couple twigs. Give her a hug and tell her hair looks especially fairy-like today.

Let Freedom Ring!

Happy Independence Day! I hope you all have a chance to celebrate and enjoy liberty in a new and fresh way today. I know that there is a lot going on with our country and anyone can find something to complain about or be worried about, but I would encourage you, even if it is just for today, to realize the beauty around you an recognize the sacrifice of those that serve in our government and military. Let's stand resolved to affirm what is good about living in America, and tomorrow, if you find that you like it better, we can go back to our typical way of talking about our country.
It may be someone you know that serves our country in official role, or it may be someone who has fought for your freedom on another level, but find them today and thank them!
Thank you Dad for the work you do both inside and outside of your home! You are an exemplary patriot and soldier in the army of the Lord.
Thank you Evan for protecting freedom in our home and in my heart! Thank you for leading our family as a warrior poet who stands for truth and justice and loves openly and unconditionally. You are my hero!
I couldn't end this post without a big "THANK YOU!" to my Jesus! You have taught me what freedom truly is, regardless of where I live or what I do. Thank You for your sacrifice and deep, wide, boundless love, and for the amazing grace You give to a girl that deserves to be in bondage. I want to better live with the fullness of life that you offer, reflect the radiance of your light and truth, and display and dispense your grace and love that offer freedom and peace!


Friday, July 3, 2009

Herbal DIY - Part 2



Today, Beth was over and we decided to try a couple little projects. We were inspired by some recipes at www.craftbits.com, but by the time we actually made the items they were far from the recipes that we started with. Here are our two creations:


Miracle Milk
Leave-In Hair Goo
**Leaves hair feeling OH SO soft and manageable**
Mix the following ingredients together and put in an airtight container (We used Gerber baby food jars, painted the lids, and put labels on them).
Use 1/2 tsp. on clean, damp hair, and then style as usual.

3 Tbsp. Good quality Organic Conditioner (we used Aubrey Organics GBP Balancing Conditioner)
1/4 Water
1 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
Essential Oils (we used Lavendar, Sweet Orange, & Tea Tree)

Elliot's Evening
Bath Bombs
**Soothes baby's senses and skin to prepare them for bed**
Mix dry ingredients. Then slowly mix in wet ingredients and essential oils. Roll into 1" balls and place on wax paper to dry for at least 12 hours.
Run a bath and throw the bomb in to dissolve.

2 Tbsp. Citric Acid
1/4 Baking Soda
Dash of Stevia Leaf Powder for Color
2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
1 Tbsp. Jojoba Oil
15-30 drops Essential Oils (we used Lavendar, Sweet Orange & Patchouli)

I'm working on a soap recipe with the soap nuts, but it might take me a few days before I have it down.

It Ain't Hellmann's Folks!



I am SO stoked to try this recipe. A healthy mayonnaise? Really? I wanted to share with you all right away.

This recipe is from Tropical Traditions, where I get my coconut oil (thanks to Mama G), but you can also get some from Mountain Rose Herbs.

Coconut Oil Mayonnaise

1. Put the eggs, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, salt, and pepper into a food processor or blender: Then with the processor or blender running on low speed, start adding your oils very slowly. Start out with drops and then work up to about a 1/16-inch stream. It should take about two minutes to add the oil.

2. Continue blending until there is no free standing oil.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

My Radiant Little Boy

My little boy playing his song with Aunt Bethany.

Moving 'Round the Bend

I realized that I hadn't posted our news on here yet! We did get the house that we were wanting in Upland and we signed the lease agreement on Wednesday. The house is ours on July 15th. We feel so blessed to be able to be there. I am excited about having more time with my family, and we've already been invited to a church there, as well as found a CSA - Victory Acres (thanks to Kayla!) Mimi went out and found us some amazing appliances...she's such a resourceful, bargain-hunter...we now have a refrigerator, washer & dryer.
Evan is loving his job, and they've started to introduce him as their part-time new employee that they want to make full-time as soon as possible. I just started back to work this week, and I am really excited about this coming year. In addition to my normal responsibilities, I will be teaching two other classes. One of them is new for me and the other is a class that has existed for awhile, but I will be completely restructuring into a research initiative, which is really exciting.

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