February 2017 Favorites

Happy March, my friends! We’re getting that much closer to SPRING and I’m ready for it. I feel like this has been the hardest winter I’ve had in a long time and I know there are quite a few of you feeling the same way. BUT on a major positive note…our snow has melted!!!! Do you know how amazing it feels to actually be able to see the ground again???

Highlights from the month:

– If you read my post from last month (or follow me on Instagram) you know that I held a weekend long promotion to raise money for ACLU (50% of my sales)….I was able to donate $100 thanks to YOU! And a HUGE thanks for all of the wonderful feedback – it warms my heart to hear that you’re enjoying everything!

February 2017 Favorites

– Going on a little Valentine’s Day tea date with Josh and pulling over like a tourist to stop and take in the gorgeous view. Those snow covered mountains never get old.

– Turning 38! I’m feeling really good about this year and I’m excited to see what’s in store.

– Chopping off a foot of my hair to donate to Children with Hair Loss (CWHL)! I’ve done hair donation quite a bit, but this is my first time to this organization. I learned the truth about Locks of Love and will never donate to them again. CWHL is a non-profit organization that provides wigs to children (with medically related hair loss) at NO COST. I highly recommend checking them out if you’re planning on cutting your long hair!

– Finishing two big puzzles with Willow (1,000 piece puzzles). This kid is addicted and REALLY good!


– Doing another big round of decluttering! I even asked Willow if she would be up for donating some of her things…she surprised me by overflowing TWO boxes! So now we’re looking into where to donate some gently used stuffed animals, clothes, books, and games. Willow is excited for another boy or girl to enjoy her things…proud mama over here!

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F E B R U A R Y  FAVORITES >>

P R O D U C T S:

TURMERIC CHAI>> Mountain Rose Herbs® >> I adore Mountain Rose Herbs for so many reasons and I even use quite a few of their products to make the items in my Etsy shop. I love that they offer high quality & organic ingredients…and it feels good to support another Oregon company. OK, but moving on to this tea! It’s no secret that I love chai and I LOVE turmeric, so it was a given that I’d eventually give this tea a try! It’s been so perfect for these chilly, windy, winter days. I love to heat up a bit of coconut milk to add to this, along with a small drizzle of maple syrup – it makes a creamy, slightly spicy drink that warms you to the core. Next time I’ll be sure to order a bigger box!

February 2017 Favorites

CASSAVA & CHIA AMAZING GRAIN-FREE TORTILLAS >> SIETE >> I’ve walked by these tortillas every Monday for the last few months, but never bothered to buy them because I was avoiding seeds. BUT I’m SO happy to report that I’ve been able to add in small amounts of nuts and seeds…small amounts, but I’ll take it! So a couple weeks ago I finally splurged and bought a pack to celebrate (they’re $8.99 for a pack of 8). THEY. ARE. AMAZING!!! Not only do they hold up really well, but I love the flavor and texture. I used them to make roasted veggie wraps and salad wraps. They won’t be a weekly buy as they are really pricey, but as an every now and again treat, I think they’re perfect. I love the “clean” ingredient list and they contain ZERO gums or citric acid. They offer an almond flour pack, but they do contain xanthan gum and steer clear of the coconut wraps as they contain pork lard. I buy them from Natural Grocers, but most Whole Foods carries them as well.

February 2017 Favorites
Oh! And their Sea Salt Grain Free Tortilla Chips are THE BEST! So light, airy, crispy and perfect for salsa or nachos. I’m the only grain-free person in my household, but we’ve really cut back on grains as a family, too – so these are a wonderful substitute (but pricier than your average bag of tortilla chips). We get them from Whole Foods for about $5.99/bag.

February 2017 Favorites

GREEN CHILE GUACAMOLE >> HOPE FOODS >> We have had THE worst luck with avocados these last few weeks…no matter where we purchased them from. I haven’t given up yet, but with the increasing price of avocados…some places charging $2.49 for ONE, I’ve made them a limited buy…or I make Josh pick them up from work because if do get a bunch of bad ones, we can return them. But I digress. I found this guacamole on sale at Natural Grocers one day and picked it up to go with our veggie wraps. Huge hit! When we used to buy store-bought hummus, we loved to get anything from Hope Foods, so I knew that their guacamole would be delicious. For being pre-made, it had a really nice fresh flavor with a bit of a kick to it. I’d definitely buy it again!

 

GARLIC DILL PICKLE GUT SHOTS >> FARMHOUSE CULTURE >> Who loves dill pickles?? If you don’t, then keep scrolling. But if you do, then definitely give this a try! We are a garlic obsessed house and we love pickles, so Josh and I decided to pick this up one day. Not going to lie, it really does taste like you’re drinking pickle juice, BUT it’s super smooth and really flavorful. We’ve been on a pretty heavy sauerkraut kick – something about that tangy zip – so this has been a wonderful addition. We’ve been doing two shots a day. We found this at Natural Grocers for $4.99/bottle.

February 2017 Favorites
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R E C I P E S:

I know that last month I said that I was hoping to share more recipes for this post, but I only have two to share! We’ve really simplified our eating and tend to stick to raw or roasted veggies of some sort, salads, and soups…and LOTS of potatoes. Eating this way has helped stick to our grocery budget and we work more with things we have on hand, as opposed to buying a bunch of things for just one recipe. Hopefully in the future I’ll have more favorites to share here, but for now, with my restricted diet, we stick to our simple, go-to meals.

RAW VEGAN CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE >> EATING VIBRANTLY >> I made this for my birthday and not only did I love it, but my entire family raved about it! Super easy to throw together, short ingredient list, and free from things I’m avoiding…so no fussing over substitutes.  We described it as more of a mousse cake as opposed to an actual cheesecake, but it was amazing nonetheless. The directions said to let it sit in the fridge, but I found that allowing it to set in the freezer worked better as it firmed up a bit more. It was super rich, decadent, and not overly sweet, which was nice. It used raw cacao butter and coconut milk instead of the usual cashews, so it was easier on my tummy.

February 2017 Favorites

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE DOUGH BITS >> FEASTING ON FRUIT >>  When I got the email for this recipe and saw that it takes just a few minutes to make, I jumped into the kitchen and whipped it up! Natalie’s recipe calls for oat flour, but I used tigernut flour instead to keep it grain-free. Willow and I have been enjoying it straight out of the container and sprinkled on top of a smoothie bowl or banana ice cream. Little chewy, sweet bits of deliciousness and without the guilt! I’m planning on making the oatmeal that Natalie posted (HERE) for Willow once I get or make some cashew butter.

February 2017 Favorites
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B O O K S:

The Inner Voice of Love by Henri J.M. Nouwen

The Dark Side of the Light Chasers by Debbie Ford

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So tell me…what were some of your favorite things from February?! Did you try any new products? Make any new recipes? Read any share-worthy books?? I’d love to hear! Or have you been (binge)watching any shows on Netflix?? I finally finished The Office a couple of weeks ago and cried. Such a great show and a wonderful distraction from all the depressing news in the world.

Thanks for stopping by!

 

Love, Strength and Learning

On the night you were born,

the moon smiled with such wonder

that the stars peeked in to see you

and the night wind whispered,

“Life will never be the same.”

Because there had never been anyone like you…

ever in the world.

{{On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman}}

Love, Strength and Learning // Be Sol-Ful

These last few years have been nothing short of amazing – they’ve also been filled with unexpected growth and strength. Becoming a mom is easily the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I have always wanted to be a mom and dreamed of the day I would have a child of my own – sometimes it still feels surreal. Today is my daughter’s THIRD birthday. Three. I remember the day of her birth so vividly – like it happened yesterday. The very first time I looked into her eyes, I instantly knew that this little being was going to change everything for the better. Three years later, that’s exactly what’s happened.

Love, Strength and Learning // Be Sol-Ful

Our sweet Willow Rayne came earthside on April 15, 2012 at 7:52 PM measuring at a healthy 8lbs 3oz and 21 inches long.

Love, Strength and Learning // Be Sol-Ful

Love, Strength and Learning // Be Sol-Ful

The days leading up to Willow’s birthday have been emotional, for so many reasons. It feels like just yesterday we were celebrating her first birthday and now she’s this little independent being who has developed quite the personality. I look at her and I no longer see my baby girl, but rather a child with determination and strength. How did we get to three so fast? Sometimes I miss the baby stage – the constant cuddling her in my arms and being able to fully protect her. But you know what? I love the toddler stage! Good grief, it’s filled with anxiety and stress as they discover new fun ways to get into trouble, but it is by far my favorite stage yet. I still get to cuddle her every day and night, but now she’s the one to initiate. Out of the blue she will run over for a hug and it is the best feeling in the world. I will take all the hugs and kisses from this kid while I can. Hearing her talk, watching her run and witnessing her thirst for knowledge brings so much joy.

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We have watched her develop, not only physically, but in personality, too. She has gained confidence through finding her voice and is not afraid to use it. Being able to tell us what she does and doesn’t want, asking for help and saying, “I love you.” Words that I patiently waited to hear for a very long time.

Love, Strength and Learning // Be Sol-Ful

Willow on her First Birthday!

Love, Strength and Learning // Be Sol-Ful

Future vegan chef?

Love, Strength and Learning // Be Sol-Ful

Shortly after her Second Birthday! Our little fashionista.

Love, Strength and Learning // Be Sol-Ful

Never a dull moment.

Love, Strength and Learning // Be Sol-Ful

She hates anything in her hair, but here is a rare moment full of hair clips!

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I’ve learned a lot over these last few years and grown so much more than I ever imagined. Like anyone else, I’ve had my fair share of challenges, tears and disappointment, but I’m a better person because of it all. I won’t bore you with all the details of what I’ve learned over these last three years, but I will share some of it.

What I’ve learned:

  • The importance of patience.

Discipline is helping a child solve a problem. Punishment is making a child suffer for having a problem. To raise problem solvers, focus on solutions not retribution.

~ L.R. Knost

Age two was a true test. Countless meltdowns, screaming, declaring her independence and finding her voice. As many of you already know, we believe in gentle parenting – being engaged, empathetic, respectful, listen, supportive, respectful and loving. There’s no harsh punishment in our house, just gentle discipline – rather than reacting in an angry way to an outburst and sending her to her room, we choose to talk it out – let her feel the emotions that she’s feeling and always end with a hug. When you scold a child for being upset, you’re teaching them that they “shouldn’t” feel a certain way. I certainly wouldn’t want someone telling me not to cry when I’m sad or upset. Kids are learning to express themselves; they’re learning to communicate. Crying, tantrums and meltdowns are their way of communicating. It’s certainly not always easy, but we take a breath, stay calm and patient and work with her to figure out what’s going on. Just like adults feel stress, anxiety, sadness and anger, children do, too. By adopting a more patient, gentle approach, we’re providing her with a sense of security and it paves the way to effective communication and problem solving. We followed our hearts to this approach and reading The Gentle Parent by L.R. Knost sealed the deal. I realize that this way of parenting doesn’t work for everyone, but if you’re interested in learning more, I highly recommend visiting her website: http://www.littleheartsbooks.com/

Love, Strength and Learning // Be Sol-Ful

Fresh air + a long hike = nap time

  • Love. Unconditional LOVE.

Love, Strength and Learning // Be Sol-Ful

I thought I knew love, but becoming a parent brings about a whole new meaning. Never in a million years would I have imagined a bond or the ability to feel a love so deeply. This little girl has my heart – she makes the days brighter and everything worth it. I have also learned the importance of showing love, not just saying, “I love you.” I truly believe that all of the love this kid receives (not just from me) has taught her, not only how to be a loving, caring and kind human being, but also confidence in herself. Kids learn by example. She knows that she is loved through all of the hugs, kisses, cuddles and verbal affection. No matter how upset I may feel, my love for this child is ever-present. Unconditional.

Love, Strength and Learning // Be Sol-Ful

LOVE

  • No one is perfect.

We learn through trial and error. You can read a million books about how to parent, but the best way to learn is through experience. Yes, you’re going to make mistakes…we all do, but we learn from those mistakes and move on. We also all have our bad days and probably could have handled a situation differently, but make a mental note and move on. Ignore those on social media who post “perfect” photos – a spotless house, a gourmet meal, clean/presentable kids, well dressed and hair combed…truth is, there are times when I don’t get a shower for a couple of days or we ate frozen veggie burgers for dinner. My time is better spent playing with my daughter and enjoying every moment of our time together rather than fussing over a clean and organized house. If you are so busy striving to be the “perfect” parent, you’re going to miss out on what’s right in front of you.

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  •  Embrace differences.

One of the biggest things I’ve learned since becoming a mom, is that everyone grows & develops at different rates and that there is not some magical one way to parent. Milestones happen in due time. Never compare your child with another. Willow may have been “late” to crawl, walk and talk, but she is a happy, healthy and smart little girl. The world would be very boring if we all looked, talked, and acted the same. Differences are what makes us all unique and special. Rather than wishing to be like everyone else, be proud of who you are. Don’t compare yourself as a mother – we’re all doing the best we can.

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  • Self love.

I’m an imperfect human raising an imperfect human in an imperfect world, and that’s perfectly okay! ~ L.R. Knost

Oh, this has been such a battle for me since I was a teenager. Shortly after I published my story of her birth, I felt the need to reach out and get support from other like-minded moms and connect with women who had been through similar experiences. At the time I felt very alone and was still, in a sense, grieving. That sounds silly to some because we had (and have) a perfectly healthy baby girl, but I struggled for quite some time regaining love and acceptance of the body that I felt let me down. After years of battling body image issues and anorexia, not being able to have a “natural” birth caused quite a bit of inner conflict. I grew to hate my body – not for the size, but for being unable to function as it should. I found a few groups through Facebook during the first year – natural parenting, natural birth, vegan mom groups. When I say “natural” I’m referring to a more holistic, gentle approach. I remember being excited and even connected with a few women who brought a sense of normalcy back. Unfortunately, not everyone in those groups were as open-minded and respectful as I had hoped. I was ridiculed, shamed and criticized for having a cesarean and not being able to breastfeed. I heard everything from “all cesareans are unnecessary” to “you just didn’t try hard enough.” Obviously, I left all of those groups and deleted Facebook.

A few weeks ago, I got up enough courage to finally watch a video about a cesarean delivery. Having skipped over all the chapters in the books I read, I was clueless as to what was involved. I never thought it would apply to me. While looking through the “explore” or “search” page of Instagram, I stumbled upon a photo discussing cesarean and the comments were beautiful – women lifting each other up and others expressing an overwhelming sense of emotions after watching a video. I knew right then that I needed to see it for myself and it was exactly what I needed. Watching the process, what the body endures and the beautiful baby that comes from that major surgery. I used to look at that five-inch scar where the incision was made and cry – not because I wanted it gone, but because I was reminded of the sadness of not having the birth I envisioned. Today, I run my fingers along the scar and smile. That video left me feeling strong and empowered. I may not have pushed a baby out the “natural” way, but my scar is a reminder of survival, strength and love. I no longer look at my body in disappointment, but instead I am proud. My body was a home, a warm place that provided nourishment to a healthy baby. I’m wearing this scar proudly now. I am grateful for the doctors and nurses that acted quickly and delivered my sweet Willow. My daughter is a constant reminder of strength. I look at my daughter and want her to grow up with a healthy body image and self-esteem. I don’t want her to go through the battle I did, so I made a change within to love myself – to appreciate my body and what it is capable of.

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So, today we celebrate love, strength and learning. Happy Birthday to our Willow Rayne – our bookworm, dinosaur obsessed, Lego building, car loving kid! Here’s to the little girl who has brought about endless smiles, joy and laughter. You will forever be my baby girl. I’m looking forward to what’s in store.

Love, Strength and Learning // Be Sol-Ful