A Wholesome Year!

It has been nearly a year since we began our wholesome living journey. It is hard to believe how quickly time passed and how many changes we made. Most of our changes have become a part of our everyday life. My husband is used to seeing a variety of bowls and jars filled with soaking grains or fermenting veggies on our counter. Jokes about our kitchen being an unending science experiment are not made as often anymore. Most of our “old” recipes have been converted to healthier versions, and we have found sources for almost all of our foods and household products, especially those we buy in bulk.

Here is a list of some of many changes we made (and stuck with) this year:

  • Switched from store-bought, pasteurized milk to farm-bought, raw milk.
  • Make our own yogurt.
  • Significantly reduced the amount of processed foods in our home.
  • No white sugar in our home- instead we use maple syrup, Rapadura or honey for sweeteners.
  • No white flour in our home.
  • All grains/legumes soaked for 12-24 hours before use.
  • Weekly family trips to local farmer’s market for our veggies/fruits, eggs, and cream.
  • Switched from commercial, liquid hand soap to locally made, goat’s milk bar soap.
  • Switched from commercial shampoo to castile soap.
  • Switched from commercial conditioner to using apple cider vinegar.
  • Make homemade antibacterial/multipurpose cleaning spray.
  • No more harsh cleaning products for our home. Now use vinegar and baking soda and/or homemade multipurpose spray.
  • Switched from mainstream, aluminum-based deodorant to non-aluminum deodorant.
  • Switched from mainstream toothpaste to a flouride-free, natural toothpaste.
  • Eat primarily grass-fed, free-range meat.
  • Eat eggs from chickens that are allowed to roam the great outdoors.
  • Make chicken and beef stock from scratch.
  • Threw away a large majority of pots, pans and bakeware that was made from teflon, etc. Now we only cook with cast iron, stoneware/glass, and stainless steel.
  • Use coconut oil (never had it before this year…) for baking.
  • Take cod liver oil daily.
  • Make sourdough bread (after trying numerous recipes throughout the year, I think we finally found one we all like).
  • Switched from mainstream laundry detergent to one that is derived from coconut-oil.
  • Learned to make (and made over 50 tubes) of lip balm.
  • Make our own cream cheese and whey.
  • No products with high fructose corn syrup as an ingredient allowed in our home.

Here is a list of things we attempted to change, but ended up being complete failures or we decided were not worth the effort to continue:

  • Tried making homemade dishwasher detergent, but decided it was not worth the effort. Found a more natural version to use instead.
  • Tried making homemade dishwashing soap, again, too much effort so found more natural version to purchase.
  • Gardening- a complete and utter failure.

Finally, here is what we are hoping to try this year:

  • Attempt to make our own toothpaste.
  • Veggie and fruit CSA (since gardening is probably not going to be successful till we remove a few trees from our yard).
  • Research and try more superfoods.
  • Start composting.
  • Research probiotics and decide whether or not to take them.
  • Remove all plastic containers from our kitchen (e.g. rubbermade, etc.) and switch to using glass containers instead.
  • Get a quality water filter.
  • Learn more about natural remedies for illnesses.

I have to say, I am extremely proud of how many things we have changed in our home. The only reason we have continued with the changes listed above is because we have noticed a huge difference in our overall wellness in the past year, and we found we enjoy more wholesome foods (once we got used to the initial switch).

Another huge change is that I (Grace) now LOVE vegetables. Prior to this year, I hated vegetables of nearly every type. This year we learned how to prepare different types of vegetables numerous ways in order to gain the most nutrition from each. The result- veggies are delicious- I had just never prepared them the right way (or had always relied on canned veggies as opposed to fresh, local in-season veggies).

Additionally, once we started reading ingredient lists on products more closely, we realized that foods are not the only products that have ingredients that may be harmful to our well-being. After a few months of reading food product labels, we started to look at the ingredients in our cleaning and hygiene products. We realized that there were a lot of chemicals in cleaning and personal hygiene products that we prefer to avoid so we gradually started replacing those products with our own homemade version or store-bought versions that had ingredients we recognized, could pronounce, and have no long-term or short-term (e.g. not poisonous to children) health risks.

Thank you dear friends for coming along this journey with us. We are looking forward to sharing some of our new adventures in wholesome living with you over this next year!

*This post is shared at Real Food Wednesday.


Garments of Praise

It has been an overwhelming few months. There has been a lot of turmoil and tragedy in our world. Internationally, nationally, and even locally, it seems like most days are filled with new crisis’. Ryan and I’s immediate world has been filled with news of cancer, illness, strokes and accidents, all of which has been paired with abnormally busy schedules and mounds of snow.

In seasons such as these, it is easy to allow discouragement to cloud our thoughts, but, when we face difficult times, the Lord is ever faithful to grow us through it if we allow ourselves to be molded by our potter’s hands. Hard times are difficult, but, in my heart/mind it is even more difficult to put on a garment of praise (see Isaiah 61:3) during times of heaviness.

It often takes a work of the spirit (e.g. has to come from the Lord) and a conscious effort to find things to be thankful for when times are tough. I’m ashamed to admit, I often do not even think about being thankful during the tough times (and I am not as thankful as I should be even when times are going great). Yet, this is exactly what the Lord’s been teaching me to do.

I have been tremendously blessed by Psalms 44 recently. Here are a few snippets from that chapter:

  • For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them: but by thy right hand, and thine arm…(v. 3a)
  • For I will not trust in my bow, neither shall my sword save me. But thou hast saved us from our enemies, and hast put them to shame that hated us. In God we boast all the day long, and praise thy name for ever. Selah. (v. 6-8)

The Lord’s been working on exposing yet another side of my selfish nature lately. He’s revealed my tendency to always want everything to be “perfect” with no bumps in the road. He’s revealed how my attitude frequently goes down hill when something goes wrong or interrupts how I think life should go, rather than understanding that all the blessings in my life are from the Lord and I should see them as such and praise Him even during difficult times. There are still plenty of things to be thankful for even when things go wrong. For instance, I’ve been overwhelmed by the number of home improvements that we’d like to do in our home, but the Lord has been showing me that He was the one who gave us our home and I should be thankful that we even have a home. Especially in light of some of the natural disasters that have recently happened, we are incredibly blessed to have a roof over our heads and four walls around us.

Even though our lives may be overwhelming, discouraging and even tragic at times, there are still many reasons to be thankful and boast in the Lord. I have been trying to cultivate a more thankful attitude by making out a list of things I’m thankful for each and every day and then praising the Lord for His blessings- even if they seem small and insignificant. This practice has done wonders to improve even the most discouraging of days. Next time you feel weary or downtrodden, try asking the Lord to help you put on a garment of praise. You might be surprised at what happens and how your perspective changes.

So, dear friends, here is what I am thankful for today:

Sunshine. Scented candles. A full tummy. My husband’s comforting arms. God giving me strength (and a good attitude) this week, as Ryan and I did not get to see each other very often because of a busy work week. Our daughter’s sweet spirit. Squirrels and how fun they are to watch. Healthy pregnancy. Extra time with my daughter since her nap times have been getting shorter and shorter. Pokes, prods and kicks from the baby on the way. Not running out of checks. Grass emerging from the snow. A bedroom to clean. The Lord’s abundant grace.


Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Recipe

So, for the first time in my life I invented a recipe completely from scratch! I admit the first two tries at making these did not turn out so well. I had to tweak some of the ingredients and measurements a bit, but finally, on try number three, I succeeded with the following recipe for oatmeal raisin cookies (a healthy version). Enjoy!

Mix and soak the following ingredients for 12 to 24 hours:

  • 1 1/4 cups of whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup of yogurt
  • 1/2 cup of butter, melted
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup of oats

After 12-24 hours has elapsed, add in the following ingredients and mix thoroughly:

  • 1 cup Rapadura
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

Drop mixture by heaping tablespoons several inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes (or so depending on size of cookies). Note: These cookies are not crunchy. They have a softer consistency than most cookies.

Yield: 2 dozen

*This blog is shared at Real Food Wednesday and at Raising Homemakers.