May 20, 2016

Recipe: Sustaina-BALLS

Every once in awhile I like to try my hand at creating a recipe. Yesterday was one of those days! I've had a breakfast ball recipe that I've been making for a year or so, and from that recipe, I created a breakfast cookie. Both of those recipes had aspects that I didn't like. The breakfast ball base is oatmeal, and the breakfast cookie base is oats and bananas. While both dairy and gluten free, I just wanted something that I was IN LOVE with. And so, I present to you...Sustaina-BALLS! Thanks to my awesome local What's Cookin', Mama? Facebook group and one of it's members, Ashley B. for the epic name suggestion!


  • 10 medjool dates, pitted 
  • 1/4 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes 
  • 1/4 cup of ground flax seed
  • 1/4 cup of gluten free oats* 
  • 1/4 cup of hemp hearts 
  • 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds 
  • 1/4 cup of chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract 
  • 1 cup of your choice of nut butter*, or a mixture of nut butters and/or coconut oil
*Notes: You can choose to omit the oats if you'd like a grain free snack. If you do choose to omit the oats, be sure to lessen the amount of nut butter you use. Alternatively, you could add a pinch more of the rest of the dry ingredients to equal a 1/4 cup and keep the nut butter ratio the same.

If you would like to add sweetener, you can choose to add some raw honey or pure maple syrup. If you do this, be sure to lessen the amount of nut butter you use. However, these are delicious without ANY added sweetness! And much healthier for you. ;)

This recipe makes around 20 balls, depending on how large or small you create them.


  1. Put all of the pitted dates into the food processor and then blend until they are a paste. 
  2. Add in the rest of the ingredients, holding back a little of the nut butter for later. Blend.
  3. Test to see if you need to add more nut butter by seeing if the mixture stays together when you squeeze it in the palm of your hand. If it sticks together without falling apart, then it's done! If not, add some more nut butter and blend until it's the correct consistency. 
  4. Shape into balls using your hands and set on a plate. Place the plate in the fridge for about an hour to allow the Sustaina-BALLS to harden up, and then store them in an airtight container for later snacking! These will last a couple weeks in the fridge, or a handful of days out on the counter.
  5. Enjoy! 
This recipe is SO flexible and you can change up the ingredients and ratios any way you'd like!

These balls make a great all-occasion snack. As long as they are in a container that can't crush, they travel well and provide lots of good protein! They also will make you thirsty, so be sure to have water on hand. Pack them to take camping or hiking, or just for a picnic in the park. 

What are your favorite go-to snacks? I'd love to hear about them since I'm always on the lookout for new things to add to the kitchen! 

May 19, 2016

Product Review: Pengie's Products - Salves

It's one of my favorite things when people contact me wanting me to test out their products and review them to share with you - especially when the products are handmade and amazing!

Today I want to tell you about Pengie's Products, a small business created and run by Megan.

Megan mainly specializes in salves, but will sometimes offer other speciality items (she is currently offering Bug Bite Relief Sticks, for instance! I didn't get to test these out, but they look and sound amazing!)

I was sent a collection of each one of her salves to test out. They came beautifully packaged, and in my opinion, it's one of the BEST parts about receiving something in the mail! It says a lot to me when I can tell the person on the sending end put time and thought and love into the package. <3 And we're not even talking about the salves yet!

Pengie's Products salves are made with wild harvested herbs (or when not available, herbs sourced from a reputable company), Young Living essential oils, and organic base components. Megan has created each salve recipe herself, which I think is my most favorite part! All of the salves are non-GMO and organic.

Pengie's Products offer a variety of salves for all sorts of different ailments.

  • Burn Salve 
  • Deep Tissue Salve
  • Healing Salve 
  • Drawing Salve
  • Scar Salve 

My favorite out of all of them was the Healing Salve - most likely due to the fact that this is the one I most commonly reached for throughout the week. The Healing Salve has garlic in it, which I adore. I thought it was incredibly clever to add garlic to a salve, especially since garlic is one of the most powerful healers out there. Having it in a salve to spread on the largest organ of your body will get it into your bloodstream and tissues in a timely manner and jumpstart the healing process. I felt almost immediate relief when I applied the healing salve! 

Whenever my kids get hurt they ask for "cream" which means salve to them. ;) A cat scratch, a head bump, a bug bite, a burn from the stove, a bruise - whatever it is, they always ask for their cream. I am so pleased to have found Pengie's Products to offer a variety of creams to keep stashed in our home. I usually only keep one all purpose salve on hand from our local herb shop, but it's so handy to have specific salves for certain ailments. The slaves go on cleanly and smoothly, and once you've massaged it into your body, you won't even know it's there.

Each salve comes in a 1 ounce or 4 ounce tin with the name and ingredients listed on the lid. I love that Megan chooses to list her ingredients on each product! I had been keeping my salves next to the bathroom sink, but I moved them up because when water splashed onto the lids, it would wash out the sticker. Now I know! The ingredients for each specific salve are also listed on her website which is great for reference. 

Ordering from Pengie's Products is quick and easy with PayPal. The Pengie's Products website is easy to navigate and understand, everything being well laid out in an intuitive fashion. 

I would highly recommend Pengie's Products as a staple to your medicine cabinet. You won't be disappointed in these high quality salves! 

I am super excited to be able to say that Megan has offered you a special discount if you decide to order within the next few days! 

The first 5 people to order between now and May 31, 2016 will receive a FREE Bug Bite Relief Stick! You only have 12 days to take advantage of this generous offer, so make sure to move quickly! Be sure to mention in the notes upon check out that you're coming from 

And when you order $30.00 or more worth of merchandise, you'll receive TWO FREE Bug Bite Relief Sticks! This is a limited time offer! Be sure to mention in the notes upon check out that you're coming from

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on Pengie's Products if you end up deciding to get some for yourself. Which one did you decide on? How is it working for you?  

I'd also like to thank Megan for reaching out and sending me free salves for the purpose of this unbiased review. It has been such a pleasure working with you! 

May 16, 2016

More on faith shifting

I'm reading Kathy Escobar's book Faith Shift right now and am thoroughly enjoying it. I'm almost halfway done, and once I am all the way finished, I'll be writing a full review that I'm sure will end up jam packed with big thoughts and feelings.

I'm in the middle of the chapter called When It All Comes Apart in which she describes the unraveling stage that faith shifters tend to go through. So far it has been described as the most scary and difficult stage, and I must say that I agree.

It's the stage that I most identify with right now. Everything I once knew is unraveling. My life is composed of questions and no answers (as I've said before, there is only one thing I know for sure.) When people ask me what I think about something, my answer is "I don't know." and I can tell that makes a lot of people uncomfortable.

I am irked when people tell me they are praying for me or when they suggest super Christian answers to very real problems. (Admittedly, I even got upset at Chuck for praying for me!) I have some sense of God, but it's not strong (at least by my fundie standards.) It's a place of loneliness and freedom and lightness all at once. (How weird!) The bible is extraordinarily off putting to me. I feel drawn to it, but can't read it. I have a lot of animosity towards fundamentalist's way of thinking. I'm very open to exploring other faiths and religions (and have in fact found a lot of healing doing so!) I'm not calling myself a Christian right now. I go back and forth between feeling lots of peace about where I am and deep confusion...

All trade marks of a faith shifter's unraveling. 

There's also an element of shame that I was just now able to identify. Shame is different from guilt in that it's a feeling of "I am bad" rather than "I did something bad." I realized that I am nervous and hesitant to share with my friends (even my closest ones) about the ways that I have changed. I feel shame because only a few short months ago I was so sure of what I believed and now, suddenly, it's so different. It almost feels embarrassing. I'm worried that the more I share, the more people will back away from me - and that doesn't feel very good.

I have a couple of friends especially that have asked basic questions about certain things and this awkward unwelcomed feeling of embarrassment and shame wash over me as I struggle to answer their questions.

It sucks to not have answers!

But it shouldn't. It really, really shouldn't.

I'm working hard on becoming ok and comfortable with uncertainty and the "I don't knows" that seem to be the theme of my life right now. It's easier than others sometimes, but it just feels so yucky and heavy when it comes up. Especially when the person doing the questioning is obviously curious and a little disapproving.

Anyway, just a few thoughts from my brain this afternoon. :)

May 9, 2016

Book Review: The Sin of Certainty by Peter Enns

I really enjoy it when people are brave enough to say things like "It's ok to not be sure." and "It's ok to question and doubt." These permissions go deeply into my soul because I am at a place of doubt and questioning in my life right now.

Knowing that it's ok to question, doubt and be unsure about things is freeing, and if there's one thing that you will take away from The Sin of Certainty it's just this: it's ok to be uncertain.

Growing up in a conservative fundamentalist household, (even if not intentionally drilled into us) we were trained to know things for sure. You the New Testament says: "Know what you believe so that you'll have an answer for anyone who asks." (1 Peter 3:15) I remember as a kid when I was about 13 or 14 years old sitting at a desk in a house we were staying at and reading over 1 Peter. Being the good little Christian kid that I was, I underlined anything that sounded remotely important. This was one of those verses that gave me pause after I underlined it. Did I know my stuff well enough to give an answer for what I believe?

Back then (at least for a young teenager) yes, yes I did. And in the years that followed I knew my stuff even better and better. I even used my first blog (that I started when I was 14) as a platform for calling people out who believed differently than me and the way that I was taught to read the Bible. (And we won't even get into what that stuff was because I'm embarrassed about it! And no, you can't go read my old blog because I have it locked down for obvious reasons, haha!)

Almost 10 years have passed since the time that I remember first pondering 1 Peter 3:15. And a lot has changed. In fact, I'm pretty excited to be able to say that I'm not even recognizable as the girl that I once was.

Some have looked at me and said "You've changed." as if it's a bad thing, because in their mind, it is. It's during those moments that my heart feels the lightest because thank God, there IS a difference if people are noticing it.

Even the fact that I was excited to pick up a Peter Enns book to read, enjoy and glean from instead of pick apart, get angry over, and speak out against says a lot. (Greater Cincinnati Homeschool convention throwback anyone? Yeah, I was one of those kids wearing an "I stand with Ken Ham" button on their shirts!)

I have been so drawn to physical objects, people, books, blogs, etc. that give permission to just be. Be whatever it is you need to be in this moment. Be here. Be present. Be uncertain. Be unsure. Be sure, even. Be yourself. Be honest.

Peter Enns writes like an old friend. His humor and sometimes humorous stories sprinkled throughout the book make him feel more like a real person who, even though he's a super smart guy, is willing to get down and real you. It takes a lot for someone in his position to admit that he has doubts, that he went through a whole season of doubting, and that even know, it is ok to be uncertain. I appreciate that kind of realness. Keep in mind that up until the past couple of years, Peter Enns has been a sort of "off-limits" type of guy to me and my conservative homeschooled friends and siblings. And just like any other area of life, I'm learning to peel back those layers and actually see things for what they really are.

And again, just like every single other area of my life, I'm learning that what I was told (on purpose or not) about people, things, ideas, theories, other religious, (the list goes on forever and ever) are just simply not true.

People NEED room to explore.

People NEED room to doubt.

To question.

To shift their faith.

And sometimes, even to leave.

And every single one of those things are ok and they are good.

If you are at a place in your life where you need to be reassured that not having all the answers is not dooming you to "hell" then you will find this book extremely helpful. Enns is a frank, well-needed voice for those coming out of "having to have it all together." And having someone come alongside you and tell you that you don't need to know the answers to all the questions and that yeah, of course you can still love Jesus and doubt him and things about him at the same time is SO comforting and so needed and so welcomed.

As for me, I only know one thing about God right now. And I think that it's all I'm going to know for a long, long time. And I am finally 100% ok with that.

That one thing? It's that God is love.

Even coming to that was a long and difficult journey because I had to work through my understanding of hell, inerrancy, sovereignty, church, violence, and a whole list of other things. And I'm still pondering these things, but I'm no longer trying to figure them out.

I've decided to camp out in this place of uncertainty for a while. And thankfully, there are folks like Peter Enns, Kathy Escobar, Mandy Steward, my husband, a handful of real life friends, and a whole crop of online friends are who walking this journey with me, holding my hand and saying, "It's ok to be unsure." 

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.