12Mar

Our Real Food Journey (Week 1)

Follow our Real Food Journey | Serving Joyfully

Well, we survived our first week of non-processed food! I thought I’d share some general observations from our first week. But first, I will recap our “rules.”

Our Rules

(For now). We are not doing the 100 Days of Real Food pledge, but we are following similar rules as far as what constitutes “real food,” with a few exceptions.

1. We didn’t throw out everything. Though we got rid of 95% of the processed ingredients in our home, there are a few things we kept. Things that aren’t so bad, or things we eat a lot and just couldn’t bare to waste. These are things like peanut butter, cheese (with mold inhibitor and/or coloring), a loaf of whole wheat bread, and maybe 2-3 more things. We won’t be purchasing any of these again, but we didn’t throw them out yet.

2. We are making exceptions for social events. We are making exceptions for all social things. So, we will eat at church fellowship meals which is good food, but not completely whole, real food. Our kids still have treats at Sunday school and AWANA, and if we are invited to eat at a restaurant with someone, we’ll do the best we can but not stress about it. These type of things really aren’t that frequent for us, so we feel fine about these exceptions.

3. We aren’t eating all local yet. We’re working toward it, but we have a VERY tight budget, and we need to ease into some things budget wise. Eating all local meats is a goal, but not a reality just yet.

Positive Things

1. Now that we are being more conscientious about what we put into our bodies, it’s kind of hard to ignore all those yucky chemically, manufactured ingredients. One of the things we’d saved to eat until we run out and then not buy again, was some garlic bread that I had literally just purchased before we decided to start this.  The other night, we had a long day and I threw together some spaghetti and salad with garlic bread. We ate it, but it was hard for us to get past the fact that the ingredients list was a mile long.

2. Our kids are on board. For years, I have been the mom who says no to a lot of sweets, candy, etc. My oldest didn’t have his first sugary treat until he was 2. I am so thankful for that now! My younger son has my sweet tooth and he asked for candy one time and I reminded him that we’re eating healthier now, and offered him fruit. He was happy with that. Yesterday, I pulled out one of the things hubby and I decided not to throw away–homemade pancakes made with white flour, sugar, and a sprinkling of mini-chocolate chips from our freezer. Both of my children commented on how we aren’t supposed to be eating these anymore because they aren’t healthy. (I promise I’m not trying to turn them against treats all together!) I’m glad they have a base of healthy eating to make this easier for them, and glad they understand what we are doing. Though they still happily accept their processed treats at Awana and Sunday School.

3. It has been easier than I thought. I have to give God the praise here for helping me through it. It really is amazing how when I give up things during Lent it’s like a whole new outlook. It’s so interesting how much easier things get, mentally, when it’s completely off the table. Maybe one day I will try and share the extent of my food addiction, but it has been a major stronghold in my life. Obviously, there are things that each of us still miss, but overall it has been easier and without cravings.

Challenges

I’d be lying if I said everything about this is easy! It’s possible. But it hasn’t been completely easy.

1. The budget thing is super hard. We’ve always cooked with mostly real foods, but had snacks and some lunch things (lunch meat, etc.) that were processed, along with having white flour and refined sugar as staples in our cabinets. The white flour goes on sale here every few months for $1.50, and I would stock up at that time. The whole wheat isn’t even available in my town, I have to travel half an hour to the next town over to get it and pay $3.69.  A 4 lb bag of sugar which would last me 3-4 weeks usually, depending on how much I’m baking, regularly goes on sale here for $1.50. A 32 oz. jar of honey that will last us probably half that time is $9. And 16 oz. of maple syrup is $7. That is a HUGE difference! I’m trying not to be a nazi about it, but for a girl who has been conditioned to be very frugal in order to make ends meet, it’s hard. I have found myself asking my husband things like “what? You put maple syrup all over your toast this morning? Do you know how much that stuff costs?” and “How much did you put in your oatmeal?” Need some more prayers on this one because my poor hubby works very hard and has been a great support in this HUGE lifestyle change and he really doesn’t deserve to be grilled about putting maple syrup in his oatmeal in the morning by a crazy person! Also, I know God led us to make this change, and therefore, He will provide for it. I’m super thankful for our maple syrup, too!

2. Trying to keep snacks available is hard. I’ve been so used to falling back on semi-healthy processed things–store bought granola bars, storebought popsicles, graham crackers, gummies, etc. They’ve always had some better things like fruit and cheese for snacks as well, but now we’re trying to replace all of those other snacks with new things for 2 boys who have bottomless stomachs! I have found some great recipes which I’ve added to my Real Food Ideas & Recipes pinterest board. But I haven’t tried them all out yet, and I have been so busy that we’ve mostly been having fruit or triscuits for all snacks, which means that they are probably eating too much fruit (I’ve been conditioned to limit fruit because of the natural sugar content…any thoughts on this?), and I’m running to the store several times a week instead of my usual once. This week I’m planning to get a better handle on the snack thing, so hopefully I can have a better report on this next week. My kids are usually super good eaters, but they do not like any raw veggies at all.

3. We are always hungry! I’m not sure if it is a part of the sugar detox or what, but we are always hungry. All of us. My boys are begging for snacks in between meals (healthy ones, but still) even more than usual and my husband and I have felt hungry more as well. I’m hoping that as our bodies continue to adjust, this will get better. I’m having a hard time keeping up!

4. Sugar Detox. For a junkfood junkie (and sugar addict) like me, this has been rough. I have felt absolutely miserable, physically. I have had even less energy than normal, have had horrible headaches, and just felt overall yucky. But, I have ever confidence that I will feel much better after I cross this hurdle.

5. Buying Local, farm fresh! Just yesterday, I bought my first farm-fresh milk! I’m very excited about that. We’ve also been buying farm fresh eggs, which honestly we didn’t make a priority before because it is so much more convenient to just grab them at the store than it is to drive all over creation to the house with fresh eggs. But, we’re just going to start doing it, because it’s important to us. Next on the list is to find local meat suppliers if possible. We are in a tiny town, so some things are more difficult in that area.

6. It’s a ton of work. It really is a lot more work in the kitchen when you are making literally EVERYTHING from scratch! I have always made most things from scratch, but that step from most to everything is a big one. When you eat every meal at home and from scratch there is a lot of cooking, cleaning, dishes, etc. But, again, it’s just getting into a better routine and I feel like next week I’ll be able to have a better report about this.

So, that’s the report from our first week! Sorry this is so long. I apparently had more to say on the subject than I though!

 

21Feb

25 Ways to Beat Cabin Fever with Little Ones!

This post may contain affiliate links. 

25 Ways to Beat Cabin Fever with Kids | Serving Joyfully

It’s that time of year. The children have been cooped up due to cold and nasty weather outside, and they are restless! Here are some fun ideas to beat the cabin fever.

1. Bundle up. Put on your big girl {long} underwear, mamas, and let your littles go play in the snow! I know many of us would probably much prefer the warmth and comfort of your couch, but the memories are outside in the snow! Enjoy these moments.

25 Ways to Beat Cabin Fever | Serving Joyfully

2. Make Homemade Hot Cocoa. If you do go outside in the cold, nothing warms you up like homemade hot cocoa. And, it’s pretty yummy, even if you haven’t been outside in the cold! The kiddos can help with measuring ingredients or counting out mini marshmallows to add to the cups :)

3. Make Snow Cream. It’s a yummy treat, and as one reader mentioned on my snow cream recipe, it’s like practically free dessert delivered to your door.

Snow Ice Cream from Serving Joyfully

4. Game Night. Our family loves to play board games! There are tons of great games you can play indoors–get creative! We also have lots of made up games like the birthday game, that we enjoy playing.

5. Read a book. Or twelve. I love to read and I have a great desire to cultivate that in my children. Make it even more fun by adding activities–crafts, have a theme meal, etc. We’ve also had fun acting out our own little play of a book. See how I get free/cheap books to read.

25 Ways to Beat Cabin Fever

6. Printable Activities. There are tons of great printable activities and games to be found on the web! I have several here on my site for FREE like my fall themed dominoes, and ice cream social pack. I also have some printable packs in my printables store, including my All About Winter fun pack.

7. 365 Things to Make & Do. This is a great book with tons crafty activities! My boys love to make things :)

8. Build a fort in the living room. Pull out some blankets and pillows. If you’re feeling especially fun, make some indoor s’mores to enjoy in there. Read books, tell stories, sing songs. Enjoy!

9. Make cards. Pull out some art supplies–construction paper, markers, paint, even coloring books and crayons and make some cards to brighten someone’s day! .

10. Make Birdfeeders. Lots of birds hang around during the cooler weather and this is a fun activity! (I’ll be having a full post about this soon!) My boys loved watching the birds outside eating the seed from their toilet paper roll + peanut butter + bird seed feeders.

25 Ways to Beat Cabin Fever

11. Spring Cleaning. Okay, so this isn’t exactly fun, but if you’re stuck inside you might as well make the most of it and purge some things!

12. Throwback Thursday. My boys LOVE looking through old albums and photos of themselves as babies and toddlers. And it’s fun for mom and dad, too. Were they really ever this small???

25 Ways to Beat Cabin Fever

13. Go to the library. Sometimes you just need to get out. of. the. house! The library is a great (and free) choice!

14. Work a puzzle. My boys love working puzzles, and bigger ones can be a great family activity as well!

15. Perform for one another. My boys made up this game. Take turns singing silly songs and dances while the rest of the family is the audience. Hubby and I like to take a song and sing it rap style, country style, etc. It’s a fun thing for the family.

16. Play with boxes. What is it with kids and boxes? But, they really bring out the creativity. You can make vehicles, or a little town out of small boxes, or a playhouse out of large boxes. They are great fun either way.

17. Cook something. My boys love to help in the kitchen! They can help with anything, and if you plan ahead for an afternoon of baking, you won’t be concerned about them taking too long or making an extra mess. One fun and simple thing they can do is decorate cupcakes. PS–isn’t this little Chef Set the cutest?

25 Ways to Beat Cabin Fever

18. Play dress up. We don’t celebrate halloween, but my boys love to dress up, so they play with costumes all year long. My kids’ favorite right now is Buzz Lightyear!

25 Ways to Beat Cabin Fever

No costumes? Let them dress up in mom or dad’s clothes! My boys love to dress up like daddy.

25 Ways to Beat Cabin Fever

19. Make homemade playdough. It’s very simple to make, and they get to have fun making it and playing with it! A quick pinterest search yields lots of great recipes and play dough activities.

20. Build. Build with legos and other building toys. You can also get creative and use toothpicks with cheese cubes, grapes, marshmallows, etc, and let your children build a structure out of food.

25 Ways to Beat Cabin Fever

21. Busy Bags. These bags (or boxes) are made up of activities to occupy your children for just such a time as those cabin fever days. I have a post coming up on these, but Money Saving Mom has a lot of great busy bag ideas on her site. And, here is another list to get you started.

22. Kiwi CrateI have shared before how much I LOVE these activity kits! They are very affordable (approx. $20 each) and offer great learning activities as well. You can purchase them individually, or subscribe.

23. Make paper airplanes. Here is a great post with some tips and ideas.

24. Play Hopscotch. Use masking tape to create an indoor hopscotch board. Something about playing outside games inside is always fun for my boys.

25. Science Experiments. Since you’re stuck inside, it’s a good time to pull out those fun science activities from pinterest! Homemade slime anyone? If you’re not feeling creative, you can also get some great science kits like this one or this one.

And, of course, it’s always a fun treat to have a movie party with PJ’s and popcorn in the middle of the afternoon!

What are your favorite winter activities for kids?

13Feb

Happy Valentine’s Day (Get my book for $.99 and free printables!)

Intentional Marriage Book---One Day Only Flash Sale.  Get it for $.99!!!

Update: due to the huge response, I am extending this sale through the weekend! Thank you all for your support!

Because I am one frugal mama, I love a great deal! So, from the time I released my book, I was brainstorming about how I can offer a great deal for you all!  And, what better time than Valentine’s Day?!?

1-Day Only Flash Sale

So, today only (2/14/14), I am offering my book for just $.99!!! If you were on the fence about it, now is the time to get it. You can read what others thought about it, or see the reviews on Amazon to see what others are saying.  Being intentional in your marriage is for all year long, but what better time to start than now?

Intentional Marriage Book

Get the book for Kindle $.99 

Get the PDF Version $.99 

 

Free Printables

And, of course, in addition to a great sale, I also wanted to remind you about the Intentional Marriage Printable Pack, which includes date night idea cards, conversation starter cards, and love/message cards.

Intentional Marriage Resource Pack

Download your free printable pack

PS–I rarely ask this, but can you do me a little favor? If you know someone who might like to get the 1-day only price on my book, OR the free printables, can you share this post and spread the word?

28Jan

Women Living Well Book

Disclosure: I received a copy of Women Living Well for review. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.

chapter-7-marriage-in-the-age-of-media

This post is a part of the Women Living Well Book Club.

If you’ve read my blog for a while, you might know that I am a huge fan of Courtney from Women Living Well. I love her passion and enthusiasm for God’s word and encouraging women to live well, which can only be done through Him. I love her posts and her videos, and always leave her meaty posts having gleaned some encouragement or challenge.

So, when I had the opportunity to read a copy of her book, I had high hopes and the book didn’t disappoint. Although a lot of the info covered in her book are the same concepts she covers on her blog, it is put together in a different way and includes some personal stories that aren’t shared on her blog.

I love the familiar tone of the book–never preachy, but always sharing as someone who is going through life herself. She writes as if she is speaking to a friend.

The chapter this week is Chapter 7: Marriage in the Age of Media.

For me, it goes along really well with my Intentional Marriage book. Because I believe it is perhaps more important now than ever to be intentional in our marriages.

We need to be intentional about who we spend time with online–no old boyfriends on facebook, ladies! That is just asking for trouble. We need to be intentional about what we put into our hearts that could make us discontent.

And for myself, I need to be more intentional with my time  spent on media, particularly my computer, social media, facebook, blogging activities…As I have shared before, sometimes blog-related activities can seem to take over, and I need to be intentional about that.

If you aren’t familiar with Courtney’s blog, go check out her archives–they offer a wealth of wisdom!  And check out her book as well!

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Did you see my big news???  I have officially released my Intentional Marriage book!  And it is available for a reduced price of $2.99 thru Friday 1/31! You can get the PDF, or Kindle Version, or find more information here.

26Jan

It’s HERE!!! My Intentional Marriage Book + FREE Printables!

This post contains affiliate links.

Intentional Marriage: The Art of Loving Your Husband (A 31 Day Devotional) | By Crystal Brothers

 

I am so excited, I can barely contain myself! Confession:  I tend to be a habitual…putter-offer-of-things. Okay, so that’s not a real word. But, it’s what I do. I have an endless list of half-finished projects, and my “someday” list is filled to the gills. But, that is on my list of things to change, and over the last few months I have been making huge strides toward leaving fear behind and actually accomplishing things.

Today, I am releasing my very first eBook, and I am terribly excited about it!  I have prayed over it, and I know this project was God-led, and I know He has a purpose for it. Regardless of how big or small His purpose may be, that fact alone gives me peace.

If you’d like more information about the book, you can visit the Intentional Marriage Book page. There, you can get more information about the book, including a sample devotion and other resources. You can also join my affiliate program and earn a 50% commission on sales you refer!

Or, you can purchase a PDF copy of the book or the Kindle version.

Now is a great time to purchase the book because it is releasing at a special promo price of $2.99. This price will be good through midnight on Friday. After that it will increase to the regular price of $4.99.

I will be having a facebook party to celebrate the launch.  We will have special guests, giveaways, free printables, and MORE.  I can’t wait, and I hope you’ll be there on my Serving Joyfully Facebook Page at 9 pm EST.

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To get started in the fun, here is a FREE printable just for you. A set of 50+ date night cards. Each card contains a date night idea. Print them out, cut them apart, and put them in a date night jar. When you need inspiration, simply draw out a card.

Download the Intentional Marriage Date Night Cards

Intentional Marriage Date Cards


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