25 March 2020

make your own moon sand: the easiest DIY

I have a happy DIY to share today! This will give your kids hours of play time and is great especially for sensory play:
Make your own moon sand!
Here's what you need:
8 cups of all purpose flour
1 cup of vegetable oil
8 drops essential oil
Add your essential oil to your vegetable oil. I love using Peace & Calming, Orange, Lavender, or Gentle Baby to promote all kinds of happy, chill vibes for my little ones.
Add your flour to a plastic bin. Bonus if it has a lid to store for later use! Then just pour the oil over the flour and mix well with your hands. Mixing might take a few minutes, and then you're done! You have moon sand that will last for ages! Add food coloring if you want to make it even more fun!
Grab some fun accessories - cups, cookie cutters, baking molds, measuring spoons... and let your kids go to town! I don't know about you, but I am looking for creative ways to scale down the screen time during this "break", and this simple DIY is such an easy answer to keeping little hands busy and entertained.

We made this one morning and my kids played for hours - from my four year old to my ten year olds, they couldn't get enough!

Happy making, friends!

01 March 2020

make your own elderberry syrup!

I've been making elderberry syrup since we started school last fall - studies are starting to show that is super effective in warding off all the gross stuff we encounter out and about. And especially with six kids coming and going from school, we want to be totally armed and ready.

Making it is super easy, which is always nice. You can infuse the syrup with dried spices, but I have found it's just as easy and effective to use my Vitality oils from Young Living! They're 100% pure, non-GMO, and safe for ingestion in the right quantities. I am excited to share my favorite recipe with you and hope you'll find this a happy addition to your immunity boosting arsenal!

Here's what you need:
1.5 cups dried elderberries (we use these)
6 cups water
2 drops Clove Vitality oil or 2 teaspoons dried cloves
2 drops Cinnamon Bark Vitality oil or 2 teaspoons dried cinnamon
1 drop Ginger Vitality or 1 teaspoon dried ginger
3 drops Thieves Vitality*
2 cups raw honey (we love this)

Add water and elderberries to a stockpot. If you're using dried spices, add them now. If you're using oils, wait. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and let it simmer for about 45 minutes, until the liquid has reduced by about half. 

Remove from heat and allow to cool down a bit, but not completely. Once it's cooled down, pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl or large jar. Push the berries down with a spatula to get all moisture out and then discard.

Combine honey and Vitality oils. Pour into the elderberry mixture to combine and stir well. Voila! You can store your homemade elderberry syrup in the fridge for up to two months. Each of us use a teaspoon every morning before we head out for the day. 

If you don't think you'll go through as much as we do, feel free to halve the recipe! A pound of elderberries makes about three big batches.

Stay well, friends!

Interested in grabbing your own Vitality oils? You can grab them here!

30 October 2019

caramel apple upside down cake

Fall is in the air here - the mornings are cool and frosty, the sun is shining bright, leaves are crunching under our feet wherever we go. Not to sound too basic, but my heart couldn't be happier this time of year. Fall weather calls for fall baking, and our family loves apples. I think I must buy five pounds a week, and the kids go through them like crazy.

I grabbed a bag of Granny Smiths and decided to create a caramel apple cake, because it just seemed like the right thing to do at the time. The whole family ate it up as soon as it was served, not a crumb left in sight. My nine year old told me the next one should probably be bigger, but I'm pretty sure we all got an adequate serving.

Here's what you need:
for the topping
2 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt

for the cake ***
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs 
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Melt the 1/4 cup of butter in a skillet. Add in brown sugar, cinnamon and salt, and whisk until melted. Remove from heat and arrange apples evenly in the butter/sugar mixture. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350.
In a mixer, beat together the remaining butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in eggs, one at a time, and beat them into the mixture well. Mix in the vanilla. 

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt, and whisk with a fork to combine.

Slowly pour your flour mixture into your butter mixture and mix on low until just combined. Pour batter evenly into your skillet, carefully covering your apples. Use a spatula to spread evenly.

Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes. Check for doneness with a knife or toothpick. Bake until just set.

Remove from the oven and let cool a bit. Once the pan isn't too hot to the touch, carefully cover it with a platter or large plate and gently flip over to transfer the cake.

Voila! You're ready to enjoy! Delicious on its own or with a little whipped cream. Makes eight (generous) servings.


*** if you live near Trader Joe's and want to save some time, grab a box of their Vanilla Bean Cake Mix and use that instead. It's dreamy!

12 September 2019

parenting with the enneagram in mind

I learned about the enneagram in 2001 from a couple I knew in Washington, DC. They'd spent years studying it, and I was blown away by the insight it offered when you really dove in deep. This was before a quick google search would tell you all you needed to know, so with the overabundance of information out there now, I am loving just how much insight is out there!

A few weeks ago, I was wondering if there were any tools available for discerning what numbers your kids might be leaning toward. I know that it isn't recommended that your really assign a number before late adolescence, but getting an idea of how your kids are wired can make such a difference in how you relate to them!

I found this quick questionnaire that someone developed to help assess your children. I went through it, and I felt like I could identify where five out of my six kids fell (my 3 year old is still very much a 3 year old). I had my husband do the same, without any input from me (that's a feat in and of itself because I might share my opinion pretty freely?) and he came up with the exact same numbers.

I can't even tell you how awesome this has been! Knowing my kids numbers - it has changed the way I relate to them and celebrate them. I feel like it's given me a better understanding of where they're coming from and why they react to certain situations the way they do, and it's helped me to lean into their strengths, and find practical ways to encourage them in those hard, teachable moments. 

Parenting isn't a gig that's filled with blanket answers that cover a general audience. Our kids are all so different (the more I have, the more I realize this), and fine tuning our responses to things can help them thrive in who they were created to be. It's alleviated a lot of angst in those moments where no one really feels like they know what they're doing.

So, if you love the enneagram and you feel like it can help you relate better to your kids, I highly recommend this little inventory! You can grab the link here - I hope it helps!

08 June 2019

starting your day with intention

It took about ten years of parenting to come to grips with the reality that my day is off to a much smoother start if I am intentional about waking up before my kids. This is harder to do when you are still in the throes of babyhood, but as my kids have developed a regular sleep routine, planning my morning has made all the difference in the world!

With a few simple steps, creating an intentional morning routine can transform your entire outlook on the day. Mine looks a little like this: I set my alarm to go off about 90 minutes before we need to head out the door. I have my Progessence Plus sitting on my bedside table so that before I even get up, I can put a few drops on. (This oil is a hormonal game changer, happy to chat if you want more info.) I head into my bathroom to wash my face, and I moisturize with jojoba oil and Frankincense... really, any chance to incorporate Frank into my daily routine, I'll take! I think I use it at least four times a day to stay grounded and keep my skin well cared for. I brush my teeth, put on my (non-toxic) makeup, run a comb through my hair, and feel instantly brighter. If I need a little extra pep, I'll take a few deep breaths of Wintergreen before I leave the bathroom.

I head into the kitchen, set up my diffuser, and make my coffee. I am all about filling up my diffusers before I go to bed so that they are ready to go first thing in the morning. My favorite to diffuse lately is Common Sense, which has oils like Frankincense, Ylang Ylang, and Lime, and helps promote rational thoughts and has been known to provide a big mood boost - and who doesn't need that in the morning? Tangerine and Peppermint is another favorite to promote happy thoughts and put a little pep in our step (see what I did there?).

I turn on some music to set a happy, peaceful tone for the morning as my little ones start to wander out of bed. I try to take a few minutes to give the day over to God, reflect on my hopes for the day, and approach it with gratitude. I guess it shouldn't surprise me, but I really am amazed at what a difference it makes in my whole demeanor when I take those 15-20 minutes before everyone wakes up to set the tone for my day. It means the whole family is less harried and frenzied as we get ready to head out the door in the morning. Not every morning is perfect, or goes as planned, but what a difference it makes when this is our intention!

Like I said, it took years for me to come to this realization. Anyone that knows me in real life probably knows that I LOVE sleeping. So I leave room in my life for that, too. (Hello, Saturdays!)

What is your favorite way to be intentional with your morning routine? I'd love to hear!