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So many rooms, so little time! In the middle of our busy lives we have been renovating one of the boy’s rooms. One of the most fun parts of this job is drooling over all the inspiration I find online.  Since the room is almost complete, (but not yet camera ready) I wanted to share with you some of the creative ways others have carved out a little oasis for the little ones in their homes. I hope you have as much fun as I did looking over these inspirational kids rooms.

I would love for you to share rooms that have inspired you and check out any recently renovated kids rooms.  Lets encourage each other and discuss! xoxo

Sophistocated way to decorate a boy's room who loves sports

Sophisticated way to decorate a room  for a boy who loves sports

How easy it is to group yard sale airplanes to create a focal wall

 

Love the focal wall mural

Love the focal wall mural

Stripes!  They are so easy to do. And if you get bored after a while, just paint over them!

Stripes! Another simple project to add interest to your room. And if you get bored, just paint over them!

This playroom is gender friendly and so much fun! Can't you just see the warm breezes blowing through your child's hair as they swing in this whimsical playground?  Great basement idea for us northerners inside when its too cold to venture outside.

This gender friendly playroom makes me smile every time! Can’t you just see the warm breezes blowing through your child’s hair as they swing in this whimsical playground? Great playroom idea for us northerners.  When its too cold to venture outside, come swing in the basement tree! What makes it work?  Lots of warm light and light wood tones (and the beam made into the tree, of course!)

 

 

Boat rooms are one of my favorites for boys.  You can have so much fun with this theme. Just keep it sophisticated, like this one from Pottery Barn.

Nautical themes are one of my favorites for a boy’s room. You can have so much fun with this theme. Just keep it sophisticated, like this one from Pottery Barn.

This is a fun wall art installation for any age.  Love the white on white.  The wooden numbers add so much depth than if they were just painted on the wall.

This is a unique and simple wall art installation for any age. Love the white on white. The wooden numbers add so much depth than if the numbers were just painted on the wall.

Love this camp theme.  So much fun and not to difficult to replicate.

Love this camp theme. Creates a individual space and is not to difficult to replicate.

Yes, another boat room!  I love the wood wall and mural.

Yes, another boat room! I love the wood wall and mural.

What a fun way to add shelving to your boys (or girls!) room.

What a fun way to add shelving to your boys (or girls!) room.

How cool is this airplane installation?

How cool is this airplane installation?

For the seafarer in our home.  Check out the drapery.

For the seafarer in your home. Check out the layers of drapery.

~D

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Ode to Penny

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photo by Brian Ingram

Lazy days of summer were spent on the horse farm at the edge of our suburban neighborhood. School was finally out and all I wanted to do was get to the farm to claim my next adventure.  As I walked down the long dusty driveway, I breathed in the mix of fresh air and horses and listened for the whinnies of those asking for their morning feed.

The farm offered lessons, boarding and hourly riding excursions and there was always plenty of work to be done.  I considered myself cheap labor (free actually) for whatever chores needed to be accomplished throughout the day.

Looking out over the 50 acres of rolling hills, there were so many horses.  Too numerous to count.  Mares ran in the same fields as geldings, while ponies and large draft horses used the natural pecking order to eat the latest hay.  There was not a lot of organization, and it also didn’t seem to be a big deal that multiple mares were expecting their second or third foal.  Any foals born on the farm prominently displayed the ‘Chelsea Hill bump’; the softly rounded area of the face between the forehead and muzzle; a characteristic of all horses born on that farm.

After I helped out with morning chores, I would survey the fields and call out to Penny. The large grey pony would always whinny and trot my way whenever she heard my voice.  As I led her through the gate, I would let her know how happy I was to see her.  Her silvery grey coat glistened in the sunlight.  The white strip that began at the dock, widened as it crossed down to her stifle, then back over her gaskin to the hock as it joined the stocking was known as her “lightening leg” because it looked like a bolt of lightening zigzagging across her body. After a quick brush and adding another lead rope to her halter, I’d jump on her back and together we would leave the overcrowded paddock for the open fields so she could eat some fresh grass. I would dismount and pull up a seat on the soft ground as she devoured the fresh grass in front of her.  She kept one big brown eye on me as I shared with her the deepest secrets only a 12 year old girl would have.

Jeff’s mother Paulanna was the barn manager, and she would bring him along to work all summer.  Jeff and I were close in age and together we would hang out with the ponies between chores.  His little pony had a thick blond mane and a bad temper.  She pranced around like a little dancer with her shiny golden coat and would sneer and try to bite anyone who touched her.  Jeff thought that she was treated badly by the girl who owned her before him. But he somehow won her over and the petite golden mare only had eyes for him. They shared a beautiful bond, and just watching them together always made me smile.

The owner of the horses actually rented the land, and he was around, but he only spoke to his two daughters, Sonja* and Beth* and Paulanna. As Jeff and I helped out Paulanna, we would joke about how the girls were a little off, but I really didn’t care.  I was just very appreciative that they all let me hang around the farm, and I didn’t want to upset anyone.  At the end of the day, we were all just a bunch of kids who loved horses as we kicked around dust in the sweltering heat spending quiet afternoons together building obstacle courses, falling off our ponies  and laughing at each other.

There was an old man that would come out to work on the machinery from time to time.  The odd thing was he would sometimes want to hang around us kids.  We all just thought he was really creepy. When he would come looking for us, we would scream, run away and hide, laughing the whole time.

One day the old man sat on the front step as Sonja begged me to go in the house with her.  I reluctantly followed her inside and I looked around.  The walls were dirty plaster and the hardwood floors looked as if they had never been cleaned. Dirty dishes topped every surface, and the house smelled like urine from the dogs that lived there. Beth started yelling that her sister was in trouble as she held a wooden spoon and started banging an empty pot she found on the stove.  I watched as Sonja started to cry as her father pushed her up the stairs.  I turned away to find the dirty old man too close to my face calling me a pretty girl. I screamed and ran outside to let the warm sunshine melt away the weird moment I just encountered.

Later on the same day, some other girls from the neighborhood came out and wanted to ride the ponies to the convenience store across the street. Sonja told me that I wasn’t allowed to take Penny across the street.  Then I asked to take her pony, and she said that her pony was too tired.  As I watched Jeff saddle up and ride out with the girls down the long driveway, my heart sank. All I ever wanted to do was ride with my buddies.  I faked a stomach ache and asked Paulanna to call my mom to pick me up.

Days turned into weeks and Penny had started to show her pregnancy.  As I rode bareback out to the grassy fields, the creepy old man followed us along the path.  His incessant rambling made me nervous, and I asked Penny to trot.  All of the sudden, Penny kicked the man so hard in the stomach.  He fell to the ground with a moan.  I turned her around to ask if he was OK and he choked a raspy “I’m OK”.  As Penny and I turned back toward the open field, I smiled a little and quietly patted Penny on her silver neck. I never saw the old man again.

I returned to school and my busy fall schedule.  Winter turned to spring and somewhere along the line, Chelsea Hill Farm closed even though no one was surprised.  As the school year drew to a close, I realized I would never return to the farm.  I missed Jeff and the gang.  But most of all, I missed Penny.  The endless summer days of my teenage years were left with only dreams of horses galloping across open fields and memories of my silvery grey friend.

I did not know what was going on at the farm until I ran into Jeff 10 years later.  It turned out the owner was abusing his two daughters.  Someone had inquired about the girls at their school and he hurried his dysfunctional family to another town in the “middle of night” and took all his horses to auction.  Jeff also told me that the creepy old man that hung around had “serious issues”.  Everything seemed to make more sense to me now.  I felt so bad for the daughters.  I guess I was just too young to really know what was going on.  I was so immersed in the horses, that I failed to see the people around me.

As I grapple with the idea that something so evil went on right next to me, I remember the blessing. The day Penny seemed to have protected me from that man suddenly came into focus.   Its as if she ‘knew’ something was up and used her lightening leg to move the negativity away from us.

I think about Sonja and Beth every time I see a preteen in a dysfunctional situation.  I used to beat myself up about not being able to help the girls on the farm. But now I believe my experience has fueled my desire to encourage high risk teens.  A few years ago, I mentored a preteen and listened to her as she shared her hurts and how it affected her academically.  She was spending more time with a tough crowd and less time in school.  As I shared how my older brother was in jail at her age and how my parents messy divorce left me to seek solace in a four legged friend, she marveled how my story mirrored her life.  Then I told her “You have two choices.  You can either be part of the drama, or you can rise above the drama. But right now you should focus on you”.

After more conversations and multiple broken dinner plans, I prayed for her and let her go to tend to my young family. I prayed for her to let go of the ‘pregnancy pact’ she made with her pregnant cousin.  I prayed that she would rise above the drama of her drug dealing brother in jail, her divorced mom’s alcohol addiction and her wayward dad’s drug addiction. I prayed for her to submerge herself in academic life, to go out for the track team and write for the school paper because she told me she enjoyed writing and her grandfather ran for the track team in his high school.

The last I heard she is in her second year of college, the first in her family to go to school.  She has received awards for improvement and academic achievement.  I am so proud of her and hope to see her again soon.

It is amazing what a little prayer can do.  He loves us and wants us to love those in pain and need.  He gives us the experience to share the pain of others, so that when the time is right, our past hurt will seize the opportunity to help break the cycle of injustice.  Although I am deeply saddened about what has happened to those in my past, the joy I received from watching others grow exceeds the pain.  The unintended side effect is that joy has allowed me to be a more positive person.

And as for my four legged friends? Well they are still around and they are sometimes forced to listen to my deepest secrets. But with God and my experience, I can now see the crazies of the world coming and kick them out of way with the quickness of a bolt of lightening.

*names have been changed

A Change of Scenery

We have moved.

The historic farmhouse that sheltered us, consumed our thoughts, weekends and wallets, is now in the loving care of another family.  My boys occasionally ask to go back to the “yellow house”. And there are times I find myself taking the long way home to drive past the place we called home for the last 8 years.

But its still too painful to share why we left Sunnyside Farm. I promise to tell the story with you as soon as I am able.

For now, I want to focus on our new house.  Its fabulous.  We settled  in the fall.  The little suburban home set on a little over an acre is nestled in a quiet neighborhood across the street from the middle and high school.  Within walking distance from the schools and a short bike ride to the elementary school, we have lowered our carbon footprint.  It’s good for the earth.  And therefore, it’s good for my soul.

As we cleared the counters for this year’s Christmas cookie baking extravaganza in our new home, I realized there is one corner of my kitchen that doesn’t get cleaned as much as it should. And it keeps attracting random stuff.  Days later I may find a clean dish that was never put away, a random plastic bag or a piece of celery masked by dark counters and no lighting.  Since I am the master of this domain, I am the only one who sees this dark space behind the juicer.  So I could let it go, but that doesn’t sit well with me for too long.  After a couple of days, I start to obsess about clean counters.  And the dark corner gets a good scrubbing.

Cleaning this area reminds me how much I loved my farm house kitchen.  There were no hidden corners.  Every counter in that kitchen was out in the open for all to see.  Lights shined down into all the nooks and crannies.  I like my kitchen corners that way.  It’s also how I like my life to be lived.  Let the light shine into every corner.

So until I can tackle my next kitchen renovation, this hidden corner will haunt me.  Each time I move the juicer to reveal what was left behind, I will be reminded to keep the hidden corners of my soul clean.   The dark corners no one else sees.  At the end of the day, not only will my kitchen be clutter free, but He can shine His light all the way through to the deepest recesses within me.

Is anyone accumulating needless clutter in the darkened corners of your “kitchen”?

I know I do.

xoxo

Mean Green

DSC_1006My family has been drinking a juice or two a day and we are feeling great! My husband and I have more energy to chase around the littles, and our recovery is much quicker after workouts.  G plays in a hockey league and I ride horses, and we have both noticed that we are not achy the day after our sports anymore.  Not bad for a couple of mid-lifers!

After I spoke about this phenomenon with our friends, I have been asked to share my juice recipes.  I will start with one of our favorites- the Mean Green.

If you are like me and need a late afternoon pick me up to get you through the rest of the day,  the Mean Green will not only perk you up, but also add a few extra veggies to your day.   Its refreshing and tasty, and it has just the right amount of sweetness for even my picky preschoolers.

Mean Green Juice Recipe:

6 stalks of Kale

1 inch of ginger

3 stalks of fresh mint

4 green apples

1/2 peeled lemon

medium cucumber

4 celery stalks

Make sure you add it in this order to flush all the kale and ginger juice into your container.

Fill two 16 ounce glasses with ice and add two shots of Coconut water to each glass.

(For the over 21 crowd, I’ve mixed vodka with this recipe in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.  Fresh juice martinis are amazing! )

Enjoy!

Yields: about  24 ounces

I am so excited to announce that our kitchen renovation is featured on Remodelaholic today!

Remodelaholic is a great DIY website that features many projects big and small.  I love checking in with Cassity weekly to see what other projects she is highlighting or currently working on in her own home.  With plenty of step by step information and lots of pics, their website is a great resource when you are interested in tackling your next project on a budget.

Thanks, Cassity, for spotlighting our kitchen renovation!Image

Chocolate Tart

DSC_0776In an effort to remove dairy from my diet, I started using raw coconut oil.  I am not a big coconut fan, but this oil is fantastic!  Its very subtle, and makes my meals taste lighter than if I had used butter or extra virgin olive oil.

Of course, I had to go on the hunt for some new recipes using coconut oil.  I came across this raw, gluten free, chocolate tart. To satisfy the chocoholic within, I gave it a try.  It is so easy and delicious! If you are looking for a rich, fudgy dessert to serve your family and friends,  but were afraid to get anywhere near the oven this summer, then this recipe is perfect for you.  Plus, this tart has only 5 ingredients!

I made this dessert using a 9″ pie pan, but I would recommend using the tart pans to make the crust look pretty for guests.  In addition, I made my own almond meal because I could not find it in the local grocery store.  I blanched raw almonds to easily remove the skins and finely chopped them in the food processor.

ENJOY!

Crust:

1 1/2 cups almond meal (finely ground)
6 tablespoons dark cocoa powder (such as green and blacks)
3 tablespoons maple syrup
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Filling:
1 1/2 cups dark cocoa powder
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Directions:
Pour all of crust ingredients into the bowl of a food processor. Process until all ingredients are blended. Divide crust into four servings and press crust in the bottom and up sides of oiled pan(s). Clean food processor bowl and blade.

Place all filling ingredients into the bowl of the now clean food processor. Process until ingredients are smooth. Divide filling among tartelettes and spoon over crust. (There will be 2-3 tablespoons of filling left over) Place tartelettes in the refrigerator and chill for 2 hours before serving. Serve cold.

Can be stored in the refrigerator up to one week. Makes one 9″ ‘pie , 4 tarts or 18 tartlettes.

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* recipe courtesy of http://deliciouslyorganic.net/

Living on the Veg

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Lately, I have been feeling, well, for a lack of a better word… old.  Just old  Back pain is a daily issue and shooting sciatica pain knocks me off my feet.  And I refuse to take pain relievers.  This drives my husband bananas every time he opens the door to a ransacked house and a moaning wife immobilized on the living room floor. Ironically, my sweet, angelic boys become escaped monkeys on those days.

Days begin so slowly that I need to chug my sweetened coffee to get going.  And the extra few pounds I have been carrying around is making matters worse.  Game over.  I have finally come to the realization that I have to make some changes.

One night, after I put the kids to bed, I curled up on the sofa to watch “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead”.  The documentary followed a man named Joe Cross on his 60 day journey to cleanse his body with juice.   After a few days, his medical symptoms began to subside as he lost weight and increased energy.  Watching his story really made me evaluate my eating habits.  Was my diet making me feel old?

I ate a salad every day, but I was still not healthy.  I realized I also ate what ever I wanted.  And too much of it. I had to cut out the junk and add more fruits and veggies to my diet.  After doing some research,  I learned that eating a raw carrot took close to one hour for the nutrients to get where they need to go.  If I juice the carrot, my organs will get the nutrients they need within 15 minutes.  In addition, I can add kale, an apple, celery, a beet and some parsley to get more nutrients in the same amount of time as eating one carrot.  I decided to give juicing another go.  But this time, I consulted a friend of mine who periodically juices and asked for her help.  We decided to go shopping for a  juicer and then went to the farmer’s market to fill up my refrigerator with groceries.

I highly recommend a juicing buddy.  My friend is there for me when I’m feeling weak, and she helped me feel better after I cheated.  She asked thoughtful questions and listened. She helped me realize that I was an emotional eater. Instead of focusing on the negative, she became my cheerleader and kept me motivated to continue to meet my goals.

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I also found a lot of joy having my children help me with juicing.   “Mom, can we make a juice?” is the daily question that greets me as the morning sun filters into our room.  Its so adorable.  My four year old can’t wait to put the veggies and fruit inside “the machine” to watch in amazement as pieces mash up in seconds.

Here is my Juicing Journal:

Day 1:  Watermelon for breakfast  and juice with peach, apple, mango and kale. Quite a departure from my regular breakfast of coffee with hot chocolate mix.  Throughout the day I made different concoctions to satisfy my hunger.  The juice was tasty and kept me from running to the refrigerator to snack (my worst habit).

I cheated around 5pm by eating some leftover chicken off my children’s plate.  After a conversation with my J. bud, I realized I ate it not because I was hungry, but instead as an emotional response to something that happened minutes before.  We did not focus on the negative.  It doesn’t matter.  She gave me the confidence to keep going.

I spent the evening cuddled up on the sofa with my boys instead of rushing them to bed for my ‘alone time’.  I tucked them in with prayers and headed to my room for a good nights sleep. I dreamed about food.

Day 1 shed light on my relationship with food.  Not only was I an emotional eater, but  after I would put the kids to bed, I would plop in front of the TV and snack on stuff that was not fit to give my children. I have to change my end of day habits, too.

Day 2: Visibly more energy this morning.  I made a mango, strawberry, blueberry, and kale juice and had some watermelon.  Not tempted as I made breakfast for the boys.  At lunch, my carrots, celery, apple, kale and ginger juice satisfied me as I made pb and j for the boys.  The sun is out now and we are heading out for a bike ride.

It is a little after 5pm, and I am sick.  Really sick (aka: nausea and vomiting). I have a pounding headache and neck pain and the smell of fresh produce sickens me.  I cannot open my eyes.  The light hurts.  I think its time for bed. Texted my juice buddy and got some encouragement.  I think I am dying, but I will stick with the plan.

Day 3: It’s 1am. I still have a bit of a headache.  I realized I was not drinking enough fluids during my bike ride and I was probably dehydrated. Dehydration during sugar and caffeine withdraw is a toxic combination.  I actually feel like a detox patient.

Now I know why so many people are afraid to quit their ‘bad habit’. It hurts like hell.

I have been praying a lot.  Last night, it was a lot of “Why God, Why?” and “Help!”

I cannot believe I allowed my body to become addicted to all that bad stuff.  As I sat in my suffering, a part of me needed to feel that pain.  I felt I deserved it.  I have taken advantage of my hard working body for far too long.   My God-given body.  Tears stream down my face as I write this.  We fall into these patterns to take the easy way out.  We avoided matters of the heart.   We eat away our feelings.

This morning its all about thankfulness.  I am thankful I am on the road to recovery.  I am thankful I am still young enough to fully enjoy my life.  I am thankful I am healthy, and have two healthy boys.  I am thankful for my husband who came as a knight in shining armor and rescued me last night.  Our Heavenly Father deserves all of my gratitude for my perfect blessings.  I am so not worthy. And yet, he still blesses me.

Carry on with juices all day.  No snacks or treats, and I am feeling better.

Day 4:  Feeling really good. Woke right up and juiced throughout the day while eating eggs and watermelon for breakfast and fish and salad for dinner.  No cravings, no overeating.  I feel like a new person.

Day 5: Juiced throughout the day with eggs for breakfast.  Found a great juice from Bolthouse that keeps me juicing while on the road.

At a friends BBQ I found watermelon and ate a hamburger with no roll.  Did not give in to the homemade brownies and other desserts at the party. Although I did have two glasses of wine with friends, I also drank lots of water and went to bed feeling healthy.

Day 6:  Woke up feeling great.  Went out looking for more juice before church.  Had seared tuna over a salad for lunch and another salad at dinner at my friend’s 40th Birthday party.  Before this new diet plan, I would crave the desserts while I was eating my dinner. But this time, I am not even interested in the gorgeous cupcake tower and decadent chocolate desserts.  I am no longer a slave to my cravings!

Day 7: More juicing courtesy of Bolthouse and sushi and a salad for dinner.

Day 8-9: Back home to make my own juices.  My morning juice filled with kale, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, an orange, two apples and a mango kicks off my day.  I drink this while eating fresh watermelon all morning long.  I love the summertime!

Peppers, onions and eggs for lunch and shellfish with veggies for dinner all while having veggie juice finishes out my day.

We are currently living in our vacation home at the shore this summer.  One of the many blessings we have is access to fresh fish daily. Having befriended my local fish market people, they were happy to share recipes with me so  I can prepare and serve more of a variety at home.  Our family will be able to continue our healthy eating well into winter with the advice found in the fish market.

Its Day 11 and I have made it through the tough part of totally overhauling my diet.  I have the occasional weak moment, but it is during these times that I have to rely on our Heavenly Father. He and my juicing buddy give me the confidence to get back up on that horse and move forward.

20 some odd days out:  I have been drinking home made juices twice a day and making one for whomever visits us at the beach.  Our juice cocktails are a big hit, too.  We began to add coconut water to every juice for its health benefits.  We mix things up so we don’t get bored, and except for the occasional ‘treat’ we have cut out sodas, sweets, starches and all processed food.  I also removed beef, chicken and dairy products from my diet.  I will use the occasional pat of butter to saute, but this is also considered a treat.  This is a new day, and for the first time, I feel that I am truly honoring my temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

On a superficial note, my skin looks better, my waistline is back, my eyes are brighter and I am not ‘puffy’ anymore.  My clothes fit better, my face looks thinner and I have more energy than I have had in years. The only negative I have encountered is the task of cleaning out the juicer every afternoon.  Although the extra few minutes of cleaning up becomes a blessing after I learn of another loved one who has jumped on the juicing band wagon in search of a healthier lifestyle.

As I sit down with my mother in law, Meema, to enjoy our morning juice, she shares with me how her Rheumatoid arthritis has settled down and she has consulted with  her doctor about decreasing her medications.  After adding a daily juice to her diet, she feels better then she has felt in a decade.  She looks forward to the day she is pain free and off medication.  Meema is now in the market for a juicer.

I went to my optometrist and my eye sight has improved!! I cannot believe it, but my prescription went from -1.5, to -1.0!  I have to give the glory to God because I have been praying for my eyesight to improve.  Wow, He listens, and He asks us do the work.  I love these results, so I have to say I am a God-loving juicer for life!

Hopefully I will get my cholesterol and weight checked sometime this fall when I visit my doctor.  I will share the details to let you know if my new lifestyle has changed my health.

 Please keep the emails and phone calls coming!  I love to hear your experiences with juicing because it motivates me to keep going and sharing!

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from industrial to organic...

can a modern day family on one income really live/eat sustainably?