Monday, November 30, 2009

How Many Kings? Absolutely Beautiful!

If you listen to no other Christmas song this season, please listen to this one! Here it is on YouTube! Here it is on iLike. It's an absolutely beautiful lyrical picture of Christ's love for you and for me. It makes me want to fall on my knees and run into His arms at the same time with tears of joy and gratitude for His glorious grace.
To my sister Sarah, thanks for sharing this song with me. I love your heart!
If you don't have time to watch the four minute video. Here are the lyrics:

How Many Kings - by DOWNHERE

Follow the star to a place unexpected
Would you believe after all we’ve projected
A child in a manger

Lowly and small, the weakest of all
Unlikeliness hero, wrapped in his mothers shawl
Just a child
Is this who we’ve waited for?

Cause how many kings, stepped down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
How many Gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that has torn all apart?
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?

Bringing our gifts for the newborn savior
All that we have whether costly or meek
Because we believe
Gold for his honor and frankincense for his pleasure
And myrrh for the cross he’ll suffer
Do you believe, is this who we’ve waited for?

It’s who we’ve waited for

How many kings, stepped down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
How many Gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that has torn all apart?
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?
Only one did that for me

All for me
All for you
All for me
All for you

Friday, November 27, 2009

My son...

(Elliot recovering on Thanksgiving break!)
...has a great sense of humor! Those of you that know him, know that Elliot is a clever little fellow that can raise one eyebrow at you with the best of them. However, you know this about him when he is his chipper healthy self.
Sadly, we've all been feeling under the weather over this Thanksgiving break, especially little Elliot. Thankfully, I think he just has a cold. No fever, but an awfully runny nose and horrid cough. We've been taking baths and sitting in steamy showers with eucalyptus, tea tree and spearmint oils, wiping his nose with tissues until it's now dry and raw (don't you hate that?!), and of course, since he can't blow his nose, we've had to use a bulb syringe and saline drops and aspirate (a.k.a. suck the snot out) every night. He HATES it! He's such a good sport when he's sick too. A little trooper of a dude! But it's been difficult for him to sleep and drink his bottles (the ones the doctor says we should be weaning him off of...actually, our doctor said we should just stop - cold turkey. Just throw out all the bottles....but that's another story). Anyway, at least twice a day for four days of squirting in a couple drops of saline in and sucking all the snot out. Lovely, huh? I can understand why he doesn't like it. He fights with the strength of ten toddlers, I swear. Thankfully, my mother gave me a headlock tip before I left. Hold his arms and body still with one arm, and immobilize his head with the other arm, in which hand you hold the snot-sucker. (I'm sure any ignorant bystanders would question my parenting skills if they only saw my son and I during these tousles.)
Tonight we had a spa night, breathing in the steam and essential oils from the shower, before we got ready for bed. Then pajamas....then a drink....then ibuprofen (did I mention he has a tooth breaking through too? poor baby)...then time for the nose job. He sucked it all out, did a great job, he swore at me in his Elliot way, and then we settled down to watch some tv and eat some bread pudding.
About thirty minutes later, Elliot crawls to the end of the bed, picks up the saline drops, crawls back and starts trying to shove them up my nose...I guess I didn't realize how much I was sniffling. Not only that, but then he would yell, "AHH!" as if imitating himself, raise his eyebrow and laugh at me. He repeated this about five or six times. And yes, I let him stick the thing up my nose, after all, it's only fair! Don't you think?
He was actually able to drink his whole bottle before bed for the first time in several days and is now sleeping and breathing through his nose. Looks like we might be on the upswing!....Just in time to go back to work.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Shampoo Bars

My newest soap making adventure was embarked on this weekend, when I decided to make shampoo bars. I learned a lot from my last soap making endeavor that helped this process immensely. And I believe my hubby is going to make me a big soap mold for my next soap project. Below is the recipe that I used. Refer to this post for tips and links on soap making procedures, but I have two more tips for you.
First, stir your lye solution a couple times as it is cooling to make sure the lye doesn't just stick to the sides of the container. Second, keep on mixing that sucker until you're sure it has traced. This batch took about 30 minutes of mixing...that's a long time. But it helps it harden up really nicely. It will look like soup, then a milkshake, then pudding. Wait for the pudding look.
This recipe made 20 bars. Here's the recipe:

Gilmore's Shampoo Bar Recipe

33 oz. Extra Virgin Organic Coconut Oil
10 oz. Pure Organic Jojoba Oil
16 oz. Distilled Water
6 oz. Lye 
.25 oz. Essential Oils (I used 6 parts tea tree, 3 parts spearmint, 1 part patchouli)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Getting Published we heard back that Shanna Conner (a coworker and former grad school colleague) and I are going to be published! We have a few minor revisions to make to our article but then it will appear in an actual real-life academic journal. Student Retention and Persistence to Graduation: Effects of an Introductory Life Calling Course will be published in the Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory, and Practice.
Most of you will probably find this article overwhelmingly dull, so I won't force you to read any of it. :) Just some exciting news to pass along.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My Desired DIY Projects

When I get about fifteen minutes to sit down, breathe and spend a little time in my DIY renewal zone. These are the things I will be making. I LOVE them! And they're super easy.

This Barney's inspired bracelet was made with some thread, ribbon, and some faux pearls by Tricia at Oh So Crafty. I love the classic black and white, but I also think it would be super cool with some wooden beads and a colorful ribbon.

I have been thinking about making this kind of headband for awhile. But Erin at Today I Made has a great tutorial for it. I think I'd want to do peacock feathers, but I really like the neutral tones she used too.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Trying Toothpaste - Homemade and Natural the Gilmore house we now make our own soap, deodorant, and laundry detergent. Next on the list, shampoo bars this weekend! But first, I think I'm going to try a homemade toothpaste.
Let's just say it, "The overabundance of fluoride that we ingest FREAKS me out!" So...:) I found several toothpaste recipes online and a way cool new blog (check out The Organic Sister).

Gilmore's Original Toothpaste Recipe:

3 T. Baking Soda
2 T. Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
1 T. Hydrogen Peroxide
1 t. Salt
5 drops of Tea Tree Essential Oil
5 drops of Spearmint Essential Oil

Since I haven't used it yet, I'll have to get back to you and let you know how it goes. From what I've read about the ingredients, it should be a killer combo, but I'm no chemist so we'll see! At any rate, it has to be better than fluoride and sodium lauryl sulfate, wouldn't you think?

(Author's note: Tried this toothpaste the day after posting the recipe. Worked great!!! Pretty salty to the taste, which most people probably will not like, so you can eliminate the salt from the recipe if you think that would be a turn off for you.)

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Last Christmas for the Gilmores was....let's just say....a little less than stellar! God blessed us with amazing family that were close by, so we could spend it with them and my husband was a gem through it all! However, we're now looking at our first set of holidays as a family in our new home. And well....I love traditions! I love the meaning and closeness that they bring.
BUT, since we're still in the process of forming some of ours, I wanted to hear about yours! What are your favorite traditions? Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years. Past or Present. As a child or an adult. What do you look forward to each year?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What to do about Christmas

I know that it's not even Thanksgiving yet, but I LOVE CHRISTMAS! I love the traditions. I love the twinkling lights, the smell of cinnamon spice, the snow (on that one day of the year), staying in pajamas all day long, the warmth, the excitement, the giggles, the love. The thought of a God that loved me so much he restricted himself to human flesh and limitations just to be closer to me! Amazing!
One of the traditions that my mom started in our home awhile ago was Operation Christmas Child. Each year, Samaritan's Purse International Relief organization collects thousands of shoeboxes filled with gifts and distributes them to needy children across the world. Their mission statement is as follows:

The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to demonstrate God's love in a tangible way to needy children around the world, and together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Next week is their collection week! Even if you don't know of a church or organization around you that is collecting boxes, you can find a drop off location that is closest to you by checking their website --> here! Their website also has instructions for packing the boxes and all the forms you'll need. You just need to print and fill out the label, fill a shoe box or small plastic box with a removable lid, and drop off your shoebox with $7 for shipping and other expenses at the closest dropoff location.
Our family will definitely be having a fun family night getting our boxes together next week! A couple other ideas for gifts that keep on giving are...

1) TOMS Shoes - For every pair of shoes you buy, TOMS gives a pair to a child in need.
2) TWLOHA TShirts - To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movemendedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide.  TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery. Their first tshirts were sold to pay for their friends treatment and worn by a few well-known Christian bands (Switchfoot and Anberlin), before they became popular.The profits from the tshirts go to funding treatment and recovery.
3) - Tons of fun handmade and green items you can buy. Every purchase goes toward giving books and education to children in need. Click here to find out how!
4) WearPACT Underwear - Another opportunity to promote literacy! Buy this fun 826 National underwear design to support young writers. (Other causes you can contribute to include rainforest preservation and protecting our oceans and marine life...kind of treehuggerish, but hey!)
5) XO Laptops - Right now, the One Laptop per Child movement is doing a Get One, Give One promotion. Where for a discounted price ($399) they will send one laptop to your child and one to a child in need, to provide them with educational opportunities and the power to create and collaborate.

(**Values disclaimer: While I can vouch for the vision and values of Samaritan's Purse, TOMS, and TWLOHA. I don't know about the last three. I've only heard about their charities, but I'm not aware of other alternative causes that they may or may not support, so I'll definitely do a bit more research on those before I purchase anything, and I would encourage you to do the same.**)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Umm...Is this still good?...Sniff

Have you ever found yourself staring at a food item - be it canned, frozen or fresh - and thinking, "Is this still good?" And then, what about when you open that random piece of something and you have no idea how you're supposed to store it or for how long?
Enter my newest bookmarked website --> The Ultimate Shelf Life Guide. Way cool website! Did you know that you're not supposed to keep opened cheese in plastic? That's right! The plastic in a ziploc bag or seran wrap messes with it. Instead you're supposed to wrap it in parchment, wax, or freezer paper, and then in plastic, if you please. (my hubby told me this first, and StillTasty confirmed it).
You can search for anything and everything, how to keep it and store it. Also, each day they answer a new question. Some recent ones include:

Check it out!

A Window Farm?

"WHAT?!" ....I know! That's what I thought too. But this is aMAZing! The folks at Re-Nest show you how to make a garden in your kitchen window (or whatever window you'd like). A window farm! With some piping, some water bottles and a few other materials. I think this is SO COOL! It looks like it'd be a little difficult to put together originally, but once you have kind of sustains itself!
I'm thinking herbs! What do you think?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Beautiful Fall Day

Today has been a fun day so far. We're actually staying home this weekend, which is quite refreshing and it's been beautiful outside! Last night we had a lovely "cookout" (the men and children cooked out while the women folk stayed inside) with Ev's coworkers and their families. It was really nice to get to know them a little better and meet all the kids and such.
Today, we slept in...a little, had breakfast and watched a few shows and then I went out to look at the state of my little plot of land that I used to call a garden. Despite the frost, the herbs are still looking great and I think I'll be able to pick some of the kale still. Then I'll have to hoe it and cover it for the winter I think.
Anyway, Evan finished up mowing the front yard while Elliot and I worked with the leaves in the back. He had a blast crawling through the woods and then when I had finally gotten a big pile together...we PLAYED! I completely forgot how great the smell of a pile of fall leaves is! Below are a few pictures from our adventures.

In the Hammock

In the Woods

In the Leaves

Our attempt at a family picture (Elliot and Rory weren't really interested)

My favorite me kisses!

Then we went into the garage and helped Ev finish cleaning some of it out. Our goal was to be able to get our car into it by the end of the day, because neither of us are too keen on scraping our windshield if we don't have to.
I know...we've been living here for about four months and our garage is still not cleaned's pathetic! But we're actually almost there. In fact, the car is presently sitting in the garage! Then we all came in to clean up and have some snacks and now Elliot is napping peacefully while we play on our computers. If we accomplish the goal of cleaning up the kitchen by the end of the day. I think we'll have been quite successful.
Anything you're trying to accomplish before it gets too cold? This might be just the weekend to try!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Short Word on Tea

Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast, 
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column and the cups 
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us Welcome peaceful ev'ning in.
-William Cowper

As the air starts to chill and frost creeps across my windshield in the morning, I am beginning to open up my pantry on a more frequent basis to peruse my selection of teas and choose one that is just right for the day. If you haven't known me for long, you should know now that I LOVE tea! I love the smell, the warmth, the taste, the experience that it brings, the friendship and conversation it sparks. My husband got me a Tea day calendar in my stocking last Christmas and it has seriously brought me joy and relaxation almost every day at work. Here's a couple of fun facts about tea:

1) Did you know that the custom of tipping servers was created in England's tea gardens? Locked, wooden boxes were placed on tables inscribed with the letters "t.i.p.s." - to insure proper service. If a guest wished to guarantee that his tea arrived hot from the kitchen, he dropped a coin in the box when seated.

2) Did you know that if you've been handling fish and you can't get the smell of your hands that washing your hands with a strong tea gets rid of the odor?

3) AND...since it's fall, head to the store and get some pumpkin spice seasoning while you still can. It blends great with black teas!

Come along inside...we'll see if tea and buns can make the world a better place.
-Wind in the Willows

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Psalm 104:30-34

When you send your Spirit, 
       they are created, 
       and you renew the face of the earth.

 May the glory of the LORD endure forever; 
       may the LORD rejoice in his works-

 he who looks at the earth, and it trembles, 
       who touches the mountains, and they smoke.

 I will sing to the LORD all my life; 
       I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

 May my meditation be pleasing to him, 
       as I rejoice in the LORD.

Parenthood and French Fries

There are so many things that people don't tell you about becoming a parent. We're not even talking about pregnancy and childbirth (it's ridiculous what they don't tell you about that), but just basic life changes you have to make. For example, do you realize that once you become a parent, french fries are never the right temperature? (This isn't a shock to those of you that have been parents for any amount of time, however, to those of you that haven't, I thought I'd give you a heads up.)
So you go through the drive thru because your son/daughter has been a doll of a child that day and you didn't remember to thaw the chicken or beef sirloin or whatever it was that you were planning on having for dinner. Here's the thing. The fries smell great, and they are steaming hot...too hot for your child to hold in his/her little hands or put in his/her little mouth. So you blow on them, shake them, drive with the window down and the french fries flying in the wind. You do whatever you can do to cool them off as quickly as possible, because your child knows they are there and they want them. Does it occur to you to snag a couple bites of these steaming fries? Maybe, but you can't really prepare them the way that you prefer, whether it be with extra salt or ketchup or whatever. Plus, if you do dare take a bite, you better LEAN way over so your child cannot see you putting them into your mouth, and by all means don't make a noise as you chew! With all of these concerns, our first priority is usually the cooling of the fries. So we cool them off eventually and hand a few to our child(ren). Then we do at least three other things (pick up the spouse from work, bring stuff in from the car, let the dog out)........and reach for a french fry.....a cold one.
I would say, "Seriously now?!" But I know you're way ahead of me on that one! It just makes me think, "Why did I buy these gross things in the first place?" But then I look at my sweet son, gnawing happily on his cold french fries and which makes me smile and remember, "Oh yeah! That's why."

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My Cool Dude!

This boy knows how to rock. He dances and sings and just last night learned the coolness that comes with a pair of great headphones.
Seriously now! Could he be any cuter?!

Monday, November 2, 2009


A bit ago, Evan and I watched the movie, Food, Inc. It is a grrreat documentary about the food industry in America. With astonishing facts, that were sadly not that astonishing after reading about food and other products that we use on a regular basis. I have thoroughly enjoyed my community supported agriculture adventure through Victory Acres. So now that I have my produce supplier for about six months out of the year, I've been on a journey to find healthy local meat for my family.
I think I might have found one! Seven Sons Meat Company is a small beef and pork farm, run by a couple, their seven sons, and the sons' families. The cattle are born and raised as grass-fed cattle. They also have a partnership with a free-range poultry farm where you can get turkey and chicken. They have their own free-range eggs, and a partnership with a dairy farm that offers shares in raw milk. 
On their website, they mention that they have a store that's open pretty much all the time, so I thought, "Wow! What an operation!" Then we went grocery shopping on Sunday....our first stop was Seven Sons Meat Company Store.
I was not expecting this! It was a little shack in the middle of this farm, with no attendant. You went in, served yourself, and paid. Then went on your way. However, it was delightful! Very clean, exactly what we were looking for. So we signed up for half a cow! Wow! Actually, we're going in on it with our parents, so we get about an eighth of a cow, which is plenty for us.

(I love Elliot's face here)

I also love this way of life, because honestly, where can you go grocery shopping, get amazing, nutritious food and your son gets to play by pumpkins outside while you do? At Victory Acres, he watches the chickens and plays with the dog and picks green beans. I just get so much joy from discovering these places and watching my family enjoy them too!


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