Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Homeschool organizing (AND a review....)

When we made the decision to homeschool I looked around my house and thought "Now what?" I needed to tackle the problem of paperwork, books and school supplies. We don't have a spare room to use as a school room, so I knew we were going to make use of the dining room. At the end of the day I wanted my dining room back. How to accomplish this? Here are a few tricks I use...

1. Use of a tri-fold board

I bought one of those foam core project boards at the local big box store. A bit of fancy duct tape and ta-da: a fancy board to keep my daughter focused and on task.

2. Using blank wall space

We have two windows in our dining room, and my window treatment has always covered the "blank" space in between the two. As I was thinking about where I could hang a white board it hit me that I could use this space during the day by pulling back the curtains. Each evening we put them back down and the "school" space disappears behind the curtain! It's a perfect solution for unused space.

3. "Sneaky" organizing tips (using existing furniture)

I have several pieces of furniture in my dining room. A dresser that holds table linens and a few board games. A corner cupboard that acts as dish storage and a liquor cabinet and a hutch for more dishes. This hutch belonged to my grandmother. I have repainted it & made it fit our family! I cleared out a few drawers and the bottom of the hutch. We are using bins for school books and papers. They can easily be taken out for day-use and stored during meal times. It makes life simpler.

4. Peachey's Threads chair bag (product review)

My friend Jane makes these amazing bags! I knew it would be an answer to one of our problems. Here's the issue, as my daughter completes work it needed somewhere to keep it until I could grade it. The solution is this adorable bag! Work-in-progress is kept here until it's completed & graded. Then it moves into the file to keep for records/grade card. It's well-contructed and fits perfectly on our chair. It's so cute that we leave it on the chair all the time.

These are just a few of the creative ways I have fit our school stuff into our regular everyday things. Do you have any creative suggestions?

Don't forget to check out the Wellness Wednesday page for healthy, delicious recipes you can add to your family's menu this week!

As always, God Bless from my (im)perfect mess....

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Anxiety, Stress and Attention Problems

This year we made the hard choice of pulling our daughter out of school. She was doing well, learning & having fun. Why did we do this? We know she is capable of so much more. Paying attention in the classroom was hard for her. The students all work on various things, at various times and the "grass is always greener..." as the saying goes. We would end up spending  hours every night catching up on "classwork" which became homework. Many night ended in tears and frustration.

This decision has been many years in the making. We have changed our diet to reflect a more primal, natural way of eating. Eliminated gluten, totally cut out artificial dyes & reduced the overall amount of grains and sugars. It has helped so much! I have learned a lot about using herbal teas and tinctures to calm her if she is feeling stressed or anxious. I have also completed my aromatherapy certification and I have learned so much about using essential oils to help supplement the other natural things we do. I do not advocate the use of essential oils day in & day out...they are very potent and should be treated respectfully. I am currently enrolled in an herbalism class to learn even more! This is the course I am taking: The Herbal Academy of New England.

If you are struggling with attention issues or know someone who is my first advice is to change your diet! Secondly, work with someone who knows a lot about herbal preparations. Get a book, google it! I am just starting down my herbal path & I am loving everything I have learned! Third, restorative yoga (or yoga nidra) has been fantastic in our house. It's a very gentle yoga that requires very little physically, but relaxes your mind! It's amazing just before bed. Finally, use essential oils to supplement the other things you are doing. Here are a few of my go-to essential oil recipes for attention, anxiety & stress.

A Personal Inhaler:

If you're not familiar with these little gadgets, your missing out. It's portable, discreet & wonderful for on-the-go. You just add the oils to the cotton wicks, snap the whole thing together and...instant calm!! My recipe for "chilling out" is this:

Place wick in small glass dish, drop oils onto wick and then roll the wick through the rest to soak it all up. Find personal inhalers here {Personal Inhaler}

2 drops of rosewood
2 drops of lavender
4 drops of sandalwood

Diffuser Blend:

If you own an essential oil diffuser this is great! Especially useful in the evenings during a bedtime routine! My daughter uses this diffuser {Diffuser}

4 drops lavender
3 drops rosewood
3 drops vetiver

You can drop these into the diffuser every time or multiply out the amounts and create a "stock" bottle to drop from. If using a stock bottle of this blend, use 5 drops in your diffuser!

Relaxing Bath Blend: adapted from {The Essential Oils Handbook} by Jennie Harding

My daughter loves to take a relaxing bath. Here is the blend I use on days when she could use a little extra "calming down"

In a 4 oz glass dropper bottle {}

fill about 2/3 full with jojoba oil
Drop in the following essential oils
4 drops Orange Leaf (or petitgrain)
2 drops Neroli
2 drops Spearmint

Add 2 droppers full to bath under warm running water. Alternately you can add 2 droppers full to bath salts and mix well then dissolve into bath.

I hope that these ideas work well for you! I am not a medical professional, so please consult with your doctor before starting any new health care regimen! *see medical disclaimer "Who I am..."*

On that note Today is Wellness Wednesday! Check out the recipes & add one of your own if you would like to participate! Thanks...

God Bless from my (im)perfect mess....

Thursday, March 20, 2014

"Sweet" Pepper Nachos!

Since we strive for a low grain diet around here I needed something to replace corn tortillas in our favorite easy weeknight dinner: NACHOS! My kids love nachos. They can customize their own toppings, and except for the tortillas I feel good about feeding this dish to my family.

Fast forward; one day I was preparing my produce delivery (shout out to Door To Door Organics) and those super cute sweet peppers were offered.

LIGHT BULB! I could cut these cuties in half and have CHIPS! I got to work and here's how I did it:

8 - 16 oz of sweet peppers (pictured above)
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 pound grass fed beef
1-2 tbsp Penzey's southwest seasoning or taco seasoning of your choice 
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Toppings of your choice: plain greek yogurt (instead of sour cream), salsa, black beans, cilantro, chopped tomato, avocado or anything you love on YOUR nachos.

Slice the peppers in half, lengthwise and remove seeds. Place in a 9 x 13 pan or baking sheet. I bake mine at 350 for about 10-15 minutes. This is really just to warm them up, because we like a bit of crunch! While your peppers are cooking, sauté onions, ground beef & southwest seasoning in a skillet until meat is browned.  At this point I make a pile of meat and slather in toppings, then put peppers on the side to "scoop" with. It's a fork kind of meal....unless you love messy fingers! 

My kids eat this up and clean their plates. I feel great about sneaking (ahem, I mean offering) so many veggies in one meal and they feel like they are getting junk food! WIN!

How do you sneak *ahem* Offer vegetables to get your kids to eat them? I really hope you enjoy this quick, easy weeknight meal! Let me know how it goes over at your house!!!

God Bless from my (im)perfect mess....

Monday, March 10, 2014

Obsess Much? The story of how I became addicted to cauliflower...

So cauliflower, you know that stuff you refused to eat as a kid and only ate as an adult because you knew it was good for you? Yeah, that stuff. Well, get ready to be blown away!

*whew* ok, admitting it is the first step, right?

I started eating cauliflower with a passion about 5 years ago. I found an AWESOME meatball recipe {BBQ Meatballs} from Ree Drummond (over at The Pioneer Woman) and wanted to eat them with mashed potatoes. I also have a carb issue. I love carbs...the carbs do not love me back -or- they love me too much, depends on how you look at it. In any case I heard you could mash up cauliflower and use it as a substitute. Well, my first few attempts were gross, until I tried using my immersion blender to get that smooth, creamy consistency that we all know and love.


In the years since that was really the only way I'd eat cauliflower. I happened upon a "buffalo" cauliflower recipe a few months ago. It has changed my world. I now get no less than 4 heads of cauliflower in my produce delivery every week & my family has fallen in love with cauliflower!

I want to share a few of the ways we have made it up around here:

1. Mashed Cauliflower which is really pureed, but you get the idea
Cut one head of cauliflower into florets, steam until soft
Drain water from pan
Add 2 tbsp butter
Using immersion blender, blend to desired consistency
Salt to taste
(we love ours with Ree's BBQ meatballs, which of course I make with ground goose or venison)

2. Buffalo Cauliflower. This is a great "game" night snack
Cut 1 head of cauliflower into florets, place into 9x13 pan
In saucepan, melt 3 tbsp butter with 1/3-1/2 c hot sauce 
(use more if your head of cauliflower is bigger than average)
Once melted, pour over cauliflower in pan. Stir to distribute
Bake for 20 minutes (ish) at 400

3. Lemon Dijon Cauliflower. Elegant & delicious
Cut 1 head of cauliflower into florets, place into 9x13 pan & season with salt
Bake at 400 for 15 minutes then remove from oven
In the meantime in a saucepan, melt 5-6 tbsp butter
Once melted, whisk in 2 tbsp dijon and 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Pour over cauliflower in pan. Stir to distribute
Return to oven and bake 10-15 more minutes

4. Cauliflower "pizza" Would be a great light lunch with a salad
Cut one head of cauliflower into florets, steam until soft
Drain water, if necessary
Use a fork to lightly break apart the florets, place in large bowl
Add 2 eggs, 2 c shredded mozzarella cheese, 1 tsp salt & 1 tsp italian seasoning
Mix well
Press into a pizza pan or cookie sheet making sure it's evenly spread
Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes until golden
Remove from oven and top with sliced tomato and a sprinkle of cheese
Return to oven to melt cheese (about 5-10 more minutes)

5. Cauliflower rice The perfect low carb side for stir fry!
Cut one head of cauliflower into florets, steam until soft
Drain water, if necessary
Use a fork to lightly break apart the florets
This results in a texture similar to rice

6. Cauliflower  Cheese Sticks
Follow the above steps for "cauliflower rice" then proceed
Prepare two cookie sheets with a piece of parchment paper
Add 2 cloves of minced garlic, 3 large egg whites, 1 1/2 c mozzarella cheese and 2 tsp italian seasoning 
Stir to mix well and press onto one of the prepared sheet pans
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes
Remove from oven, using the other sheet pan prepared earlier, flip "loaf" onto it
Season the bottom (now face up) with more italian seasoning and 1/2 c mozzarella cheese
Bake an additional 10-15 minutes
Cool, it will harden slightly, then cut into pieces.
Serve with marinara.

How's that? Nearly one delicious cauliflower recipe for each day of the week! Try one and you too may just be head over heels in love with cauliflower! 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Snow Day Beauty Treatments!

We're in the deepest part of winter here in Kansas. Since we homeschool, we don't have snow days - but we made an exception one snowy Tuesday because I wasn't feeling so great and there was a ton of snowflakes falling. The girls and I decided we needed a few beauty treatments to brighten our day (and our skin!) Here's what we did:

Deep Clean Clay Mask
3 Tbsp kanolin clay
1 tbsp honey
1 drop roman chamomile essential oil

*combine ingredients in a bowl, drip a bit of water (we used maybe 2 tbsp)  in to create a spreadable paste. I used a paint brush to brush the mask onto our skin. Sit back and relax for 10 minutes, then rinse off.

Luscious Skin Cleanser
3 tbsp almond meal
1 tbsp kanolin clay
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp jojoba oil (or really any good oil for skin)
1 d roman chamomile
1 d lavender

*mix all ingredients in a bowl until combined. See picture for
how this product looks once mixed up.*

store in airtight container, in the fridge

Use pea sized amount in wet hands. Apply in circular motion to wet face. Wipe clean with warm wash cloth.

Amazing dry skin oil
To 4 oz of macadamia nut oil
add 10 - 15 drops patchouli essential oil

This smells amazing and leaves skin feeling very luxurious!

I hope that you are staying warm and toasty. Just a few more weeks and spring will be here!!

Are you interested in learning more about herbs? I am planning to enroll in this course very soon The Herbal Academy of New England Intermediate Herbal Course Won't you join me?

God Bless from my (im)perfect mess...

Monday, February 3, 2014

Super Healing Salve

I have a 2 year old and an 8 year old, plus a husband who loves to be out in the woods. We are constantly in need of this super healing salve. We use it for just about anything that happens to our skin!  I like the fact that I can control the ingredients; nothing sneaky in here! I also like that if I run out, it's only a little bit of time until I have a fresh supply.

Here's how you can make some for your family:

Step 1: Assemble your ingredients. You'll need 2 TBSP comfrey-infused oil, 2 TBSP calendula-infused oil. If you've never done an infusion of herbs into oil, here's how I do it {Herb-Infused Oil}, 1/4 cup of coconut oil {Virgin Coconut Oil} and 1 ounce of beeswax. You will also need the following equipment: a jar or other glass container you'd like to keep your salve in, a sauce pan, something to stir with {I use a glass stirring rod} and your choice of skin-healing essential oils.

Step 2:  You'll want to place the empty glass container into the saucepan and put water into the pan so it comes about 1/2 way up on the glass container. Then, place the herb-infused oils, coconut oil and beeswax into the container you chose. Bring the water to a simmer, then turn it down to low.  Heat gently until this is melted, stirring occasionally to encourage the beeswax to melt.
***please note: do not turn your burner on above a 2 or 3 (medium low heat) I had a jar get too hot and crack and I had to start all over after the bottom fell out of the jar!***

Step 3: Once everything is melted in your jar, remove it from the pan. Please use caution as the glass is now very hot & can burn! Place the jar onto a level surface which is protected from the heat. At this time you will stir in your essential oils, if you choose to use them. You can safely use up to 40 drops of essential oil, total, in this salve recipe. That ensures the ratio of essential oil remains at 1%. You can choose how many drops of each you'd like to put into your salve.

Step 4: Place the lid on your salve container. This ensures that while the salve is cooling the essential oils do not vaporize and escape the container. Keeping the lid in place and undisturbed also ensures a nice smooth surface once it's cooled.
***note in this photo you can see some beeswax that didn't melt all the way, if you have more patience than I do you can get the beeswax to melt completely. I got antsy and pulled it off the heat early***

Step 5: Use your salve! We use this for diaper rash, cuts and scraps, a bit of sunburn, wind burn, dry hands, on the cuticles, the list is endless!

Are you interested in learning more about herbs? I am planning to enroll in this course very soon The Herbal Academy of New England Intermediate Herbal Course Won't you join me?

Please let me know how this salve works for your family! You can follow me at or email me at

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Herb-infused oils {a tutorial}

About a year ago, I began in earnest to look at healing herbs and figure out which ones were the best fit for my family. We use our herbs in teas and in oil infusions. I use the resulting infused oils in salve or straight out the bottle. I was pleasantly surprised to find that these herbs really do have amazing healing properties! I knew someone who fell & cracked their tailbone. Poor dear was in constant pain and after seeing her chiropractor, there wasn't much else to do but wait for it to heal. I had just come across comfrey. Now, if you're not familiar with it - you should be! Comfrey is also known as "bone-knit" and is a super healer. Another super healer is Arnica. This power-house herb is great for bruising & swelling! The two together are a sure fire way to heal just about anything.

One word of caution: PLEASE do not apply arnica (in any form) to any kind of open wound!  Arnica can slow the coagulation of the blood (or clotting) and is not useful for open wounds! 

In this case, there were no open wounds so I mixed up 1 part comfrey oil with 1 part arnica oil and had her rub that into her tailbone, very gently, for the duration of her visit with us. With a few more chiropractic visits and some TLC she was nearly back to normal when she left a few weeks later! Once she returned home to her own chiropractor, he was amazed at her results and simply told her to keep doing whatever it was that she had been doing. 

With that being said, here is how I infuse my oils. There are many other ways to do it, and each has it's own benefits. If this method doesn't work for you, that's ok! Simply google "how to make an herb infused oil" and a wide variety of methods will appear! For the purposes of this tutorial, I will be infusing arnica:

Step 1: Gather your dried plant material. Organic is best, but use what you can find! Here's the Arnica I'd recommend (Starwest Botanicals Arnica via Amazon)
Using dried plant material ensures that your infusion doesn't mold. 

Step 2: Find a good quality olive oil. Again, organic is best, but use what you can find.
    Olive oil isn't the only oil you can use, but it is readily available to many! I have used coconut oil in a warm spot to keep it liquid. I have used grapeseed oil or almond oil. Use what suits you & the purpose for your infusion.

Step 3: Place your plant material into a quart mason jar. Pour olive oil into jar, completely covering the dried plant material. Place cap on tightly and put the jar someplace where you'll remember to give it a shake every few days.

Step 4: After about 3 weeks, your oil is ready for use! I keep mine as a constant "brew". I replace the oil I remove as I use it and every couple of times add in a bit more dried herb. This ensures I have a constant supply ready for when I need it!

Adding a teaspoon of vitamin E oil can help act as a preservative. However your herbal infused oils should last in a cool place for quite some time! 

I should note that since I am relatively new to infusing herbs, I have not yet come to the point where my jar is too full for any additional herb. I think once I get to that point I will remove it all & squeeze out or drain any remaining oil from the herb. Then I will begin a fresh jar!

Need ideas on how to use your newly infused oils? Check this tutorial out {Super Healing Salve}

***I want to thank my dear friend Jordan Carroll of In A Blink Photography for snapping a few shots for my tutorial!***

Are you interested in learning more about herbs? I am planning to enroll in this course very soon The Herbal Academy of New England Intermediate Herbal Course Won't you join me?

Please let me know if you try this method and if it works well for you! You can follow me at or email me