Apr 21, 2016

Organic Whole Wheat Chocolatey Oatmeal Cookies

Food urges and pregnancy. Sometimes something just needs to happen; unexplained, out of the blue, just because. Today I had one of those moments. I had just finished eating lunch and I just knew that I had to make some oatmeal cookies. And then I had the idea to add chocolate to them...because of course. So I did a little research and I found an incredible looking whole wheat chocolate chip oatmeal cookie recipe from Two Peas & Their Pod. Maria, thank you for coming to my rescue in my time of need. <3

Sometimes we can find the everyday sacred in eating. And today was most certainly one of those times.

I made a few small edits to the recipe to create them according to the way I prefer. The main differences are that I used organic ingredients, full fat raw milk, and raw turbinado sugar.

If you're interested in creating these delicacies, check out the original recipe and then take a few minutes to make a batch for yourself!

Organic Whole Wheat Chocolatey Oatmeal Cookies 


  • 1 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour 
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pink Himalayan sea salt  
  • 1/2 cup of dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of raw turbinado sugar (or switch out the brown sugar for raw turbinado sugar and add in a teaspoon of molasses for a total of 1 cup of raw turbinado sugar) 
  • 1/2 cup of organic grass fed butter, room temperature 
  • 1 free range egg 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of real vanilla extract 
  • 1 tablespoon of raw milk
  • 1 cup of oats 
  • 1 cup of chocolate chips (we use Kirkland brand)


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • While the oven is preheating, mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and pink sea salt. Set aside. 
  • Cream together using a hand mixer the brown sugar (if using), raw turbinado sugar and the butter until light and fluffy. Add in the egg, vanilla and raw milk and mix for another minute until lighter in color and even more fluffy. 
  • Slowly add in the flour mixture to your wet mixture, mixing on low until just combined. Be careful to not over mix. 
  • Add in the oats and chocolate chips using your favorite wooden spoon; mix until evenly combined. 
  • Place 12 spoonfuls of dough on a cookie sheet, and place in the oven for 11 minutes. 
  • Allow to sit for a couple minutes once they are done baking before you transfer them to a cooling rack. 
  • Enjoy with a nice big cup of raw milk. <3 
Makes about 2 dozen cookies. 

Apr 17, 2016

Book Review: How To Be Here by Rob Bell

If you've been following along on my journey at all (on this blog and especially on Instagram) then you've probably noticed that being present and mindful and the idea of practicing the presence has been a big deal to me lately. So naturally when I heard about Rob's new book, I couldn't wait to read it!

Stuff I Loved

Rob Bell's writing style is stellar. It's as if you're having coffee, sitting right across the table from him as he tells you his stories and gives you doses of encouragement. The layout of the book lends itself extremely well to his writing style. It's pleasant to look at and it draws you right in. Props to the designer! 

How To Be Here is a hardcover 210 page book. The feel of the book is high quality, and I loved that it's not too huge and heavy. (It's important to be able to read books in bed, afterall!) 

I'm always up for an easy read, and How To Be Here is definitely that. Not in a bad way, but in a comprehensible down-to-earth sort of way. 

Mar 31, 2016

Faith shifting and the beauty of not knowing

My faith has shifted.

I still love Jesus, but I no longer think of him the way I used to. 

He isn't an out of reach God that I can't get to, that I can never quite please, that gets disgusted with me, or feels impersonal or kingly. 

My faith has shifted so that I no longer feel pressure to read the bible (have "devotions.") I no longer read the bible's poems and stories as inerrant and without mistakes and inspired. Actually I hardly read the bible at all right now. 

God is just here. 

Jesus is here in all the details. In the flowers, in the kneading of bread, in the digging of soil, in the fresh sprouts, in the rainbows, in the sunsets, in the towering trees. God is everywhere. God is so much more than just God. God just is. He's all these things and more. 

He's magical and mystical and beyond understanding, but at the same time, totally understandable. 

God is this paradox that I've begun to fall in love with - not like I used to "love God." But actually be in love with him. I'm fascinated with his mystery, and I'm content with not knowing things for sure about him. 

I don't have a religion anymore. I'm not a "bible believer." I'm not a "Jesus-follower." I'm not a "Christian." I've become resistant to the sticky side of labels - the things that people like to throw at you so that they are more comfortable with you and can feel like they understand or "get" you. 

I'm not really anything. I'm just a girl living her life and enjoying it. Can't that be good enough?

It is for me. 

My theology has been condensed to God is love. Love God, love people. 

Everything else doesn't matter to me right now. Isn't that enough to focus on? Loving God better and loving people better? 

The driving force of everything I do and the reasons I do it is love.

My theme song goes something like this: 

But if we'll try I know that you'll agree
Our love is something that can change the world 

That's the thing about us
We got love love love
If you think you might break,
If you think you might fall,
If you think you've got nothing at all
But you got us, you got love love love
I only got love

Jan 24, 2016

Facebook boundaries and a few other things

Since Thursday of last week, we've been sick. So so sick. Thursday was by far the worst of it, and ever since we've been getting better but still feeling the little tentacles of the flu hanging on. On this bright and beautiful Sunday morning I *think* I can say that today marks the kids feeling 100% and me about 90% better.

I felt so good this morning that I got out of bed before the kids were even awake and made homemade gluten free biscuits and bacon and eggs. Yeah, that's how good I'm feeling. We'll see how I feel when it comes to eating them in a little while.

This blog post has been swirling around in my head for a few days now. I feel like there are a bazillion things I want to talk about. Only, I can't talk about that many things in a single blog post because...I just can't.

We are just about 10 weeks pregnant. For some reason I still feel like we are only 7 weeks pregnant, but whatever. This pregnancy has been nothing like my previous two which has been fun and weird and a little odd. I'm showing way quicker than I ever would have dreamed. Maternity clothes are already my best friend. My weight hasn't changed yet, but my body has. The kids are obsessed with my stomach and look at me quizzically when I mention the baby in there.

I'm trying so very hard to treasure each and every moment of this pregnancy. Going into this pregnancy I knew I wanted it to be a mindful one, being that I'm planning on it being my last. And even only 10 weeks into it, I've found myself wishing away the days. "Once the first trimester is over, this will be easier." When I find myself telling me things like that, it's a good reminder to pull back to the present and be in the moment. Because that is what I really really want for this pregnancy.

Meal planning. Since a little before Christmas, I've pretty much let my meal planning slide. Whhhhyyyyy I ever thought that was a good idea is beyond me. I mean, yeah, I'd plan out a few meals, go shopping for them, and yes, we have the ingredients in the house to make meals. But then when it would come time for me to prep them, I just wouldn't make any of what I had planned for and instead would do something different.

Add to that Chuck getting laid off in early January, and then a week later being offered an incredible new job, well yeah. We've been doing some celebratory eating. And my body is all up in my face like "FEED ME HEALTHY FOOD WOMAN." and I'm over here like "Ughhhh. I know. Thanks for the reminder." So yeah, my task this week is to get back on track with that.

Speaking of meal planning, I've gone back and forth with SO many styles of eating lately. I mean, juicing...Whole30...traditional eating...Paleo...you name it. I've done so much reading I'm like a walking lifestyle diet book. I guess the reason for this is because I've been trying to figure out what is right and best for my body. And that's apparently a lot harder than it seems. And you know what the conclusion I've arrived at is? There is no single right way. It's different for everybody. And that is ok. So for me, a mix of traditional and Paleo is my groove. I feel great when I eat this way. I feel amazing about what I'm feeding my growing children, and it is INCREDIBLE for our bodies.

For more on these ways of eating, I'd recommend these books:
The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook
Nourishing Meals
Nourishing Traditions

Facebook. Mid last year, I did a blog post on why I was basically getting off of Facebook. It was a terrific experiment for me! I learned a lot about the reasons why I have Facebook in the first place. And if you're wondering, I'm back on Facebook but with a few rules for myself.

  1. Facebook exists for me, I do not exist for it. This means that I will only keep a Facebook account if I'm able to manage it, and I'm not allowing it to manage me.
  2. I manage Facebook by keeping my "friends list" pretty trim. I only keep friends who I jive well with.
  3. I don't "unfollow" people. This is a great tool for some, but for me, if there is someone on my friends list who's stuff I don't want to be seeing, then I don't need to hide the fact by "unfollowing." I will simply "unfriend." 
  4. Facebook and real life are not the same thing. If we aren't friends on Facebook, it doesn't splash over into real life. We might be best friends in real life and not friends on Facebook. And that's fine. 
  5. I "unfriend" ruthlessly. If something triggers me, I take care of it. 
  6. To a lot of people, it looks like if someone doesn't agree with me, then we can't be friends. But that's just not true. I love a good discussion, and even a good debate sometimes. But when it comes to Facebook, I treat it like a customizable magazine, and if there's something I don't want in my face, I get it out of my face. Simple as that.  
  7. I take self-care and protection very seriously. I've identified that Facebook takes up a lot of my time, and that I feel the need to voice my opinion to people who don't care about it. Because of this, I only keep "friends" on my list who aren't triggering in this way. 
  8. Groups are my thing. I love Facebook groups and am pretty active in them. I love groups because I am more easily able to see the benefits of participating in them. Much more so than personal interactions on Facebook where people are spouting their opinions for no reason. 
  9. I LOVE FACEBOOK. I am not even kidding. It's like my best friend sometimes. And because of that, I guard it pretty carefully when it comes to adding friends and "unfriending" friends. Sometimes it's personal, sometimes it isn't. But it's just Facebook. NOT real life. 
  10. Like #1, Facebook exists for me, I do not exist for Facebook. This past year I have learned so very much about protecting my space, influences, and emotional well-being. And taking control of Facebook is one of the ways I am learning to do that. 
So, all that to give an update and flesh out where I currently am. Everyone uses Facebook differently and for different purposes. And that is totally fine and right and good and awesome. But your ideas for Facebook and mine don't have to match up, and you don't have to live by my rules, and I don't have to live by yours. So that's that. 

Today is an adventure day. We're going to pack everyone up in a little while, grab some coffee, and hit the park for a morning stroll. I do love days like this. Family, coffee, exercise, fresh air, pictures... 

When I was in one of my apps earlier I saw a quote I had saved that I just loved all over again. I thought I'd leave it here today: 

Peace in ourselves, peace in the world. <3

Dec 31, 2015

The new year, rituals, changes, and an update on life

2015 has been a good solid year without any huge changes. We didn't move. We didn't have a baby. Even though nothing monumental happened, changed so much, that I'm not sure if people who don't currently know me would even recognize me. 2015 was a year of spiritual growth for me - spiritual growth like I've never experienced before. Things changed inside of me that I didn't know could ever be changed, and things changed outwardly as well.

The inside things are quiet and personal and big and obnoxious all at once. Chuck is about the only person that's been able to hear about these things in great detail. And I don't mind that. Our spiritual journey is so intimate, and so very personal and magical, that I believe it should be reserved for only yourself and a chosen few.

But the outward changes...these are changes you might have noticed for yourself. I started finding myself in ways like: wearing the clothes I want to wear, I started talking about things that were personal - huge decisions like how many kids we wanted to have, dreams of the future, my past, things I'm struggling with, intimate details of our marriage. And strangely enough, I found so much freedom in just being open and real about this stuff.

I realized that life is just life. There's no reason to guard and protect things so closely that it becomes your all consuming passion. People are personal beings, that's no secret. People have real life sh*t happening, and that's ok. There's no reason to cover up and hide; to never talk about these things; to act like they don't happen.

Where is the beauty in that? It's all fake. The real beauty is found in realness. In getting down and dirty and vulnerable and ugly. That's where it's at. And this is such a big thing I've learned this year.

How freeing! Freedom, love, realness...these could all be my "words" for 2015. I never want to forget this year. It's funny because as I was living this past year, I couldn't pin-point these things. I couldn't see that what I was going through were these huge growing experiences that were helping me slowly shake off chains I had tangled around my ankles. But now, as I'm sitting here early in the morning drinking my hot cup of coffee and spilling my heart, 2015 was monumental in ways that I could have only dreamed about before.

There is sooooo much freedom in just being you. In detaching yourself from people's expectations of you, the rules, the bondage. I realized that there's a time in everyone's life when they become separate from everything they knew and become their own. And I think that this year, that's what I began to do.

There were also lots of great things that happened this year aside from finding myself. I discovered yoga and mediation. I started to truly understand what a toxic relationship was/is and how to deal with that. I started realizing that if I don't like something, I can change it; and that if I don't want to do something, I don't have to do it. I also started saying "sorry" less and just let things be. (It's a terrible habit of mine to say sorry when I mean to say "thank you" or when I'm trying to just make someone feel better.)

Some friends and Chuck and me finally started a home church gathering that meets on Saturday nights. This has been such a huge thing for us. We've talked of something like for quite a while, and I'm still so excited that this is actually a reality now! We gather at one of our homes, eat dinner together, let the kids play, and then talk...spill our hearts...cry...laugh...joke...read the Bible... It's amazing!

For the first time ever this past summer I had my very own hugely successful garden. I'm already looking forward to this coming spring and summer when I can start all over. <3 We also got a little flock of baby ducks last March, and our ducky daughters will be one year old soon. We've learned a lot from having ducks. Mainly at this point I'm looking forward to them laying more frequently.

2015 was a year of great books as well. Well, these books weren't published this year, I just happened to read them then. I had previously read Thrashing About with God and even reviewed it on my blog, but wow, when I read it this year, it was just as if Mandy was telling MY story and releasing freedom over MY life. Funny how things like that happen, you know? I also read The Shack by Wm. Paul Young and I am already looking forward to reading it again. I was introduced to a new picture of God that I had never seen before - one that made me rethink so much and made me start treating God like a friend rather than a frightful king.

We got pregnant. Only about 5 weeks ago, so just in the nick of time to be able to count it for 2015! We're due sometime in the summer of 2016. We're super excited. I just feel like so much is culminating with this pregnancy. Will this be our last baby? Will this pregnancy be the same as the other two were? What will the birth be like? I can already see differences in my desires and plans and my body. I know one thing for sure, it's all going to be so good no matter what happens. And I can't wait to see how the kids respond throughout this pregnancy. They are both so excited that I have a baby growing in my "tubby."


Now, for a quick update on the coming year. The biggest immediate change is my Whole30 challenge that I've undertaken. I did a small W30 style challenge mid last year and was quite successful, but since it was only for 1 week, there wasn't much impact. And woah boy, after this past month of indulging in whatever I wanted...I need a reset to get me kick started back into our normal way of eating. Plus, I want to fit back into my skinny jeans!

In March (end of Feb?) we're travelling to Michigan to to visit family. My grandpa was really sick recently, and I ached to get out to see him. Thank goodness, his cancer is gone and he's healing and recovering, and our visit will be a joyful one instead of a sad one. I can't wait! I'm also glad that this trip is coming before I'm too big and pregnant for it to be uncomfortable to travel.

I've chosen my word for 2016 after much thought, and I settled on the word soften. I read an amazing article on that word a few weeks ago that came at just the right time. This word means a lot for me. The reminder to soften during stressful periods, to soften when I feel angry or frustrated, to soften my muscles and jaw as I lay down to sleep, to soften my voice when I'm talking...there was just so much I needed to be reminded of.

I'm planning on getting my first tattoo near the end of 2016 (it would have been sooner, but hey-yo preggo!) It's going to be an outline of a crescent moon a couple inches below my wrist. There's a lot of symbolism in this for me, but I'll wait to talk about it until I actually have the tattoo.

I have decided to not write resolutions for the new year. Normally at this time in the evening on New Years Eve or during the afternoon on Jan 1, I'd be sitting with pen in hand writing all these things I wanted to accomplish through the year or by the year's end. This year, though, I'm setting intentions. I actually did this about a week and a half ago. In my journal I wrote things that are much deeper than resolutions, much deeper than goals or promises. Intentions have a lot more meaning and weight for me than resolutions, and I'm really excited to have been able to do this. As part of my intention setting ritual, I wrote a prayer and folded it up and sealed it with wax and buried it in the back yard with some dried sage. I chose to bury it next to the garden - which is a place that brings me so much joy and connection. 

Without resolutions, I feel a bit more freedom to ebb and flow as I always do; but this time, I have permission. It's ok to not always follow through if something isn't working for you. And it's totally fine to quit or start at any moment. It doesn't have to be only in the beginning of a new year. 

Special things I have found wholeness and meaning in this past year which I intend to bring with me into the new year are: prayer, healing stones and crystals, meditation, yoga, gardening, boundaries, friendships, nourishing foods, community, and the practice of being in the moment. 

2015 has been a good, full, exciting year. I feel like it's been the year of pondering in many ways. 2016 is going to be full of the same, but with a bit of added excitement and change. I'm excited - so so excited - to live this life. To be the BEST wife and mama I can possibly be. The commune with Jesus in an even deeper way. To practice living in the present moment more and more every second. To let go of fear and embrace love and security. 

Cheers to the new year! 

Dec 4, 2015


**I know that the Dressember challenge has already started, but it's never too late to join! If you've been thinking about or maybe even just now learning about it, please, hop right in and start helping!**

This is my first year participating in Dressember. I remember hearing about it last year in my local mom's clothing/style/awesome group called Look Good, Do Good, Feel Good. I so enjoyed seeing everyone's pictures each day showing them wearing dresses and going about their daily lives.

My outfits from the first four days of Dressember