Celebrations Cookbook | nourishing habits

A few weeks ago, I ran across an amazing opportunity. Danielle Walker, an incredible cookbook writer known for her gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, paleo recipes is launching her new cookbook, Celebrations Cookbook. I have her second cookbook and I cook from it regularly, so I quite happily applied for her launch team and was selected!

I received a free copy of her new book and the opportunity to preview it and cook from it. And I have to say, I’m in love.

Her second cookbook, Meals Made Simple is a great every day, weekly meal planning book. The meals range from simple to complex, but are all delicious.

What is so special about Celebrations, is how she has remade all those iconic meals that you eat during holidays and celebrations, but into healthier, paleo versions. She has recipes for New Year’s Eve, Game Day, Valentines, Easter, Mother’s Day luncheon, Father’s Day Cookout, Birthday Parties, Fourth of July Barbecue, Summer Shower, Halloween, Autumn Dinner Party, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Pictured below is one of the 7 BONUS recipes you receive when you pre-order (before the 27th!)- the Chewy Molasses Cookies. They were a huge hit in my house! img_20160921_140402

Not only does she include incredible, well tested, reliable recipes, she also has filled the book with so many tips and tricks. Most recipes have tidbit notes on how different brands of paleo products fair in the recipes, or make-ahead tips to simplify a party prep. The front of the book is filled with more grain-free recipe tips and ten wonderful tips for effortless entertaining.

And just like her other two books, she includes an extensive ingredient glossary and substitutions and her recommended kitchen gear. The recipe index in the back makes for simple holiday meal planning. You can access all the nutritional data for each recipe online.

This Gingerbread Latte is so good, you can not tell that it is dairy free. The molasses has such a rich flavor! img_20160921_140518

One of my favorite little perks- this cookbook LAYS FLAT ON IT’S OWN. Which is basicalyl mind-boggling to me and makes cooking so much easier. From now on, I refuse to buy a cookbook that won’t lay flat! ha!

These Mini “Corn” Dog Muffins were SO SIMPLE to make and absolutely delicious. The kids inhaled these. I’m also over the moon about her dairy-free Herb Ranch. Oh how I have missed ranch!img_20160916_144012

I went dairy-free for Jocelyn, and we still try to limit the dairy intake for Jonah and Jean, which is how I dipped my toes into the paleo lifestyle. I’ve done a few Whole30 food challenges (cutting out dairy, wheat, sugar, grains, alcohol, and caffeine) and have found that my brain and emotions fare much better when I am gluten and grain free.

Most of all, I have missed a creamy coffee creamer- but Danielle has knocked this Pumpkin Spice latte out of the park. It’s creamy, light, flavorful, and exactly what I have been missing. img_20160916_143326

Jace is a huge fan of deviled eggs and these incredible little dairy-free Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs hardly lasted 2 days in the fridge- he ate one every time he opened the fridge! This deviled egg recipe has 4 variations- I can’t wait to try another. 20160909_144323

One of the ways I found Danielle was because she was a fellow baby-loss mama. She lost her daughter Aila. So with Job’s birthday approaching, I used her birthday cake recipes to make a gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free chocolate cake with a dairy-free vanilla buttercream frosting. It was delicious and so special to share it with friends. IMG_20160918_171200.jpg

My very first recipe to try out of the cookbook were these delectable lemon bars. They tasted so creamy and buttery- but without the butter! 20160903_182101

Every single recipe out of this cookbook was a hit and I can not wait to keep trying more.

Pre-order (or order) yours here– if it’s before the 27th, you get 7 bonus recipes! You won’t regret it, I promise.

**For those of you with specific dietary needs, she also includes a comprehensive list of which recipes are nut-free, egg-free, nightshade-free, and meet SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet) or GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome Diet).

elderberry syrup | nourishing habits

There are so many ways to support our bodies in their natural processes. In his graduate courses this semester, Jace is studying Pharmacognosy (the branch of knowledge concerned with medicinal drugs obtained from plants or other natural sources) and I am currently digging more into the science behind essential oils and homeopathic remedies. Our conversations at night after the kids go to bed involve discussing the various stages of plant metabolism, HA!!

But in my quest to learn more about natural health and wellness, I stumbled onto a fantastic blog, Raising Generation Nourished. I am in LOVE with all her recipes and her thoughts on feeding her children. I’m also in love with her information on supporting her children’s immune systems!elderberry-syrup-1

Let’s be honest, kids are GOING to get sick. Even kids who eat the best they can, have tons of immune support from essential oils, quality vitamins and herbal remedies. You simply can’t avoid the germs. And we are entering GERM SEASON. We are busy, we spend time with other small children at least 3 or 4 days out of the week, and I’m not willing to just stay home to avoid catching colds. But I can support their immune systems to give them a little boost when they need to fight off the current round of germs. And Elderberry Syrup is a great way to do that! elderberry-syrup-2

Elderberry is used for its antioxidant activity, to lower cholesterol, to improve vision, to boost the immune system, to improve heart health and for coughs, colds, flu, bacterial and viral infections and tonsillitis. Bioflavonoids and other proteins in the juice destroy the ability of cold and flu viruses to infect a cell.elderberry-syrup-3

Elderberries contain organic pigments, tannin, amino acids, carotenoids, flavonoids, sugar, rutin, viburnic acid, vitaman A and B and a large amount of vitamin C. They are also mildly laxative, a diuretic, and diaphoretic. Flavonoids, including quercetin, are believed to account for the therapeutic actions of the elderberry flowers and berries.elderberry-syrup-4

We’ve been adding a small amount of the syrup to their yogurt and granola in the morning, to our kombucha, with my daily dose of Ningxia Red, and to anything that pairs well with the slightly fruity, earthy taste of the Elderberry syrup. You can also just take a tsp full several times a day during acute times.elderberry-syrup-6

I followed the recipe over on Raising Generation Nourished, so hop over there to see it yourself.

We did use her recommended combination of elderberries, rose hips, and honey. Get your own elderberries here and rosehips here.


iTOVi | nourishing habits

Welcome back to Wellness Wednesday!

Today I am sharing about my newest piece of technology- the iTOVi scanner!


The iTOVi is a personal body “scanner that combines bioimpedance, pressure sensors, temperature, and Bluetooth technologies to generate personalized wellness evaluations.”

  1. Electrical Frequencies: Every biological or non-biological thing has a unique energy signature that vibrates at certain frequencies. iTOVi has measured and recorded each unique frequency as it relates to biopoints and the vitamins, minerals and oils from Young Living. Through the electrodes on the iTOVi scanner, these frequencies are sent to the body, inducing a measurable response from the body.
  2. Bioimpedance: During the scan there are 273 biopoints that are introduced to the body by passing small electrical currents through the skin to measure the skins resistance. Each biopoint and supplement has a natural energy frequency, which is easily recognized by the body.
  3. The boy’s response: Bioimpedance relies on the body’s autonomic nervous system which is the body’s central command system, connected to every other part of the body and can, therefore, be relied upon to give us reactionary results. There are lots of ways to measure those results (i.e. blood pressure, blood flow, skin or body temperature, breathing patterns, eye dilation, sweat glands/skin moisture, etc.) One particular way to measure the reaction is the tissue will become more or less resistant to electrical current flow. Changes in temperature can also help us understand how the body reacted. During an iTOVi scan hundreds of frequencies are sent to the body, one at a time. The body has a unique reaction to each of these frequencies. As the body reacts to the electrical current flow, iTOVi measures these reactions.
  4. Algorithm: iTOVi uses a complex algorithm to organize the data from the reactions. This process is often referred to as the translation process. The iTOVi algorithm translates what your body is communicating to you. While running one scan, the iTOVi scanner is actually running the algorithm several times to find the body’s true response.
  5. Report: As the iTOVi scan runs, your body will naturally react to these foreign frequencies and the scanner will record these changes, identifying them as unresolved biopoints. Biopoints are simply parts of the body, such as organs, vertebrae, or other biological systems. If a recorded frequency falls outside a predetermined range, it is classified as “unresolved”. As the scan ends, the number of unresolved biopoints are recorded, analyzed, and compiled into a personalized iTOVi report. Based on the information gathered during each session, the iTOVi App will recommend the oils or supplements to which your body had the best reactionary response. These recommendations are presented in your report, ordering each product by the number of unresolved biopoints. Using the recommended oil or supplement will then help reduce that frequency to fall within that particular range, bringing your body and its frequencies back to its optimal state.
    (information from iTOVi website).


We have all really enjoyed getting to scan and see what products we scan for and what might benefit our bodies. The kids in particular love that they have scanned for their “Ninja Red Juice” and ask for it daily! I usually make them a little diluted roller of whatever they scanned for and let them apply it to their feet a couple times a day. itovi-4

I am more than happy to offer free scans to anyone local- just let me know! And then we can walk through the products it suggests and methods of application!


Want to learn more about the science behind how the iTOVi works? Read the many articles here discussing bioimpedance! itovi-6

Interested in getting your own? Please use my referral link: https://goo.gl/34NZtAitovi-7

monotonous monday | the beauty

“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes but when you look back, nothing changes…” C.S.Lewis. 


“I tend to get lost in the details of large-family life when I’m right in the midst of it. It takes a certain fortitude, after all, to look at a pile of dishes and see it as the makings of a cathedral. The daily mundane is holy ground because the ordinary tasks of a monotonous Monday are where we meet our maker.” Teaching From Rest by Sarah Mackensie. a-day-more-6a-day-more-9a-day-more-12a-day-4a-day-7

home education | the plan

I wrote here about our home education WHY. And here about our home education PROCESS. Today, we will move into our planning.

Since we had Jocelyn last summer, then packed the house and moved across country 3 months later, we didn’t accomplish much school from July- December. I just wasn’t being consistent with a baby who didn’t sleep and trying to unpack and settle into a new house and life. And that was ok, that’s the beauty of home education, they learn through life and not just “formal school time.”IMG_20160807_170411

Jocelyn wasn’t a consistent napper, the twins stopped needing to sleep at nap time (SO SAD), and I found myself unwilling to use the hour and a half of “rest time” to do school time. I needed that time to regroup myself and accomplish chores around the house. The time had come that school would need to move to a time when ALL THE KIDS WERE AWAKE. To be honest, this terrified me. I continued to try and get through all the read-alouds and subjects I wanted to cover with Jarvis and we were more consistent in the Spring, but often we were only getting to his core subjects. While we both enjoyed the content, he had trouble focusing with the noise of his siblings and I was constantly needed and interrupted. I began to wonder how all those large homeschooling families managed to get any work done at all! school-2

Then early this summer, I had several resources and authors that just kept popping up in conversations, facebook articles, and books I was reading. I couldn’t ignore that God was clearly pushing me towards a new pace and style of home education.

First, a new friend invited me to join a book club on Teaching From Rest by Sarah Mackenzie. We were out of town during the book club, but I started in on the book by myself, and over the course of the next month, her book came up in many conversations and home education groups. I’ll share more about her book in another post but for now looping in particular has impacted our schedule, more on that in a bit.


The next resource I came across was mentioned in a home education article a friend shared on Facebook. The writer was a Charlotte Mason/classical methodology home educator and had been implementing and sharing about a method called Your Morning Basket. While originally Pam Barnhill learned about Morning Basket from a mentor of hers, after many years of home education utilizing Morning Basket, she has created a book, videos, and many resource sheets to help other moms implement it.

I’ll get to Morning Basket details in just a moment, but when looking through Pam Barnhill’s site, I also discovered her Plan Your Year Resource. It was fabulous and well worth the small investment. Although I already knew what method and resources we would be using, I utilized her plan to give me the big picture goals and organization for our year. In particular, I love the Vision and Inspiration Sheet, the individual Goals Worksheet for each child, and the Course of Study plan. I also utilized her Weekly Plan to evaluate our weekly schedule and the Daily Plan to block out our time. (She does have a free planning resource as well if you visit her site, but the book and samples walking you through is worth purchasing her basic package!) This package helped me develop and write my Vision for home education that I share on the Process post.

Here are our daily blocks. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday:

Morning Circle Time (about 30 mins.)
Jarvis Core (Jarvis’ math and reading, about 30 mins)
Twins loop (more on looping below, about 15 mins)
Jarvis loop (History, Bible, Geography and Logic, during rest time, about 20 mins)

(You may notice that Wednesday isn’t listed- we don’t do any ‘formal’ education on Wednesdays because 3 weeks a month I have MOPS activities on Wednesday mornings. Instead, the kids get to practicing sharing and listening to other adults! ha!) 


In a nutshell, Morning Basket (or Morning Time as we call it), is a time that all of the kids and I get together and go over all those little “bonuses” in our curriculum goals that are easily left out or pushed behind. It’s a time to come together, talk, discuss, and begin our day. Pam’s book offers lots of practical tips and tricks on implementing this with all ages and curriculum goals, but I have found it works very well for us. It’s a slow start to the morning, we all get warmed up and ease into education time, we get to laugh together, learn, and everyone, even my littlest ones, feel like they get to “do school” without the unnecessary early pressure of school. This is my favorite part of the day.

Pam Barnhill shares, “Quite simply, Morning Time is subjects that the family can do together that emphasize truth, goodness, and beauty in their homeschool. Morning Time is a liturgy — one part of Charlotte Mason’s “atmosphere” of education. These small practices done daily over time are not only a means to an education (and a good one at that), but a means to shaping virtue in ourselves and in our children. While Morning Time will look slightly different in every family, there are some characteristics that are common across every Morning Time. Let’s talk a look at these common characteristics — the 3Rs, if you will, of Morning Time: Ritual, Reading, and Recitation,” plus any other subjects that you wish to do as a family.


Here are the subjects we cover during morning time with the resources listed next to them:

Prayer- we utilize the Five Finger Prayer or the ACTS prayer- (google those)
Hymn– Right now we are working on memorizing Holy, Holy, Holy and next we will memorize Joy to the World. (This is probably my kiddos favorite part of Morning Time! they now belt out Holy, Holy, Holy while we walk through Target, ha!)
Verse memorization– we have memorized Romans 12:21, John 14:15, and Matthew 7:12, up  next is Psalms 34:13

Poetry- we read Tennyson one day and Shell Silverstein the next.
Math– we are reading through Life of Fred– Apples (this is a fun introduction to math concepts using a living story, the book series grow in complexity with age, the kiddos love Fred!)
Themed Read-Aloud– we either read The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh or another read aloud they are interested in at the moment (right now we are reading Frindle because they are loving “making up words” in their pretend play.)

Art– we alternate between a Picture Study on Rembrandt  (we’ve also completed Constable, Velasquez and Monet), and learning Chalk Pastels with HodgePodge.
Science– we are using the free living book Pond and Streams and it’s Companion to study wetlands, this includes nature journaling and many library book resources.
Devotions– we are working our way through The 24 Family Ways by Sally Clarkson- one of my all time favorite authors.



So  I found Pam Barnhill completely independently from an article on Facebook, and I was already planning my year and learning about Morning Time when I discovered that Pam and Sarah mackenzie who wrote Teaching From Rest were good friends and had a joint webinar episode on looping (go watch it, it’s fabulous!), which was mentioned in Your Morning Basket, Plan Your Year AND Teaching From Rest.

I’m telling you, I felt like I had just found my WAY of home education and was just as excited as when I found my CONTENT of home education in Charlotte Mason!

I feel like most people who home educate know all to well that feeling of “getting behind.” You carefully plan and lay out the year, but then life happens and everyone gets sick, or a chance for a field trip pops up, or you get pregnant, or have a baby, or get orders to move, or just LIFE. And then you fall behind your plans. And all of the sudden, education time becomes rushed and harried and you NEED to check off that to do list and no one is having fun, much less learning anything. Loop scheduling is basically writing down everything you want to cover, writing a frequency priority (for example we do 2 bible lessons for every 1 history and 1 geography), and then “scheduling it in a loop.” These are subjects that you don’t need to cover daily, but you do want to make progress in.

For example, since the twins are young (4) and don’t have any need to do any formal education right now, but they do have the desire, I loop all their subjects. They participate in Morning Time, and then they have about 10-15 minutes of their loop subject together. Every day that they choose to do school, they just move onto the next subject in their loop. If they work diligently for 10 minutes and don’t want to complete anymore, we save it for the next day (teaching the Charlotte Mason habits of focus and perfect execution).

Here is their loop:
Reading (All About Reading: Pre-Reading for Joelle and Level 1 for Jonah)
Math (Math U See Primer for both)
Writing ( Delightful Handwriting for both- they love this!)
Logic Games (Our favorite are the Mini Luk seriesLogik Street, Color Code, Camelot Jr. and Day and Night)

We also loop Jarvis’ Bible, History, Geography, and Logic Games utilizing the study series Genesis-Deuteronomy & Ancient Egypt from Simply Charlotte Mason and the same logic games listed above.

Jarvis’ Core Block is All About Reading Level 1 (he’s nearly finished and will move onto Level 2), and Math U See Alpha. He also does Delightful Handwriting once a week.

The big three each have their own checklist that they are responsible for keeping track of their loops and education. Instilling that self-responsibility early! Plus, if I say it’s time for a certain subject that may not be their favorite, they whine or argue, but if I tell them to check their list and tell me what is next, there isn’t any fussing! Make the (loop) schedule your friend!


Last little tidbit- everyone always asks what I do with Jean (3) and Jocelyn (1) during school time. I’m going to discuss this further with my review of Teaching From Rest, but basically, they participate in Morning Time with us. We always start at 900 or 930 and they all get a snack, which helps them stay put and listen. However, neither of the littles are required to stay at the table, and I usually set up little workbox activities for both of them during school time. Jocelyn inevitably needs to nap in the middle of school time and we take a break for me to put her down, or she screams to be held half the time, ha! Teaching From Rest has helped me learn to let go of that stress of needing to teach it all and have it look just right. Stay tuned for more on that!

So that probably seems crazy confusing with the way that I wrote it out. But in reality, it’s SO simple to follow. We have 4 major blocks, Morning Time, Jarvis Core, Twin Loop, and Jarvis Loop. I write down on notebook paper what we complete each day behind the corresponding tab at the end of the day, and then I know where to pick up when we sit down to begin again. I’ve included the complete Resource Planning List as well for an overall view of what we use.



What do you use to plan? What do you use to handle lots of different ages and abilities in your home education? Do you learn independently or all together or a mix of both?