Products I’m Loving and One Little Word 2018

Happy Wednesday! It has been a while since I sat to write a post. I decided to combine two posts into one, because they are directly related to each other. I will try not to get overly passionate and make this blog longer than it needs to be…

First, my theme word for this year is CARE. Both to care more, and practice more self-care. Caring more, to me, will mostly be in the area of my children.  I hope it will look like;

  1. More patience
  2. When the kids are upset, try and understand the root of their frustration
  3. Respond in love
  4. Take time to listen, less time to respond
  5. Care about their passions and interests
  6. Continue to invest into them

My goals for self-care are;

  1. Don’t overfill the calendar
  2. When asked to take on a commitment, think “Can I afford to lose sleep during that time?” (I am a planner. It keeps me awake at night.)
  3. Take time to listen to podcasts that use the Word of God and inspire growth
  4. Spend time in God’s Word daily
  5. Eat healthy and make good choices
  6. Make marriage and time with Cam a priority
  7. Pay attention to my heart, use Proverbs 4:20-27 as my guide

If I seem more prepared than usual, its because I had an entire plane ride to write these thoughts out 😀 . Reading over this list again reminds me of all that I need to work on, but it also inspires me to continue on some of the progress that I have made! Not a bad way to end February.

Next, and far more fun…The products that I am currently loving! Each one is something I use frequently, and so they tie into my own self care. I will note before I begin that I was not asked to write about any of these products, and paid out of pocket for them all. Nothing is a promotional item.

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I picked up this shampoo and conditioner from Hannas Seeds yesterday, but it is already my most favourite set that I have ever used. The scent instantly makes me feel like I am at a luxury spa, and my hair is very soft. My kids have been using Rocky Mountain Soap on their bodies for a few months already, and I am so glad I took the plunge for myself!

Note: Did you know that kids absorb more toxins than adults? Their skin is thinner and their bodies are smaller. Google the topic to learn more! It is why I switched to Rocky Mountain Soap Co for them, and I have been very pleased with the pump top bottles that control how much the kids use. I haven’t replaced any of the bottles yet!

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By picture two, you are probably catching on to my theme here. Toxin free deodorant is becoming very popular. I am aware of the link between Alzheimers and aluminum, and that has pushed me to find a healthy way to smell better. I actually struck out many times on different brands, and mostly just made my own deodorant which left me with rashes from too much baking soda. But then Facebook pointed me in the direction of Native Cos, and I haven’t looked back! This deodorant ACTUALLY works. The coconut vanilla is my favourite. I have signed up for a subscription that mails me a new stick every two months. Signing up for a subscription saves you about $2 per bar, plus you don’t have to remember to order more. I chose to go with every other month shipping because I don’t go through a bar a month. I still have some left from two months ago and just got another bar. I am okay with this!

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You had to guess that one thing I am loving is chocolate, right?! I work at Chocolates By Bernard Callebaut, owned by Cococo Chocolatiers. It is far superior to any chocolate I have had, and they don’t use any artificial preservatives. But thats not even why I am loving it so much right now.

See that little green frog in the middle? Thats a symbol for the Rainforest Alliance. Our company worked hard to attain that amphibian on our chocolate. Why does it matter? Because deforestation is a problem, which would lead to no more chocolate. But that isn’t even the saddest part. One of the worst industries for using child labor is the harvesting of cocoa pods. Read that over and over. Its horrific, its real, and it is likely happening in every piece of chocolate that you are consuming that does not support fair trade. A.k.a, cheap chocolate. Hershey’s, Nestle, Mars – they are guilty. As I started to research the topic more, my heart broke. I decided right then that I could not give my children chocolate that came at the hands of someone else’s child. Think of your 12 year old climbing up a ladder to chop down a cocoa pod with a machete, then having to reach the ground again and strike that pod with that same knife to open it. Cheap chocolate still comes at a price, and thats not a price I want to pay. If you want more information, here is one article that I read.

Because Westcoast Africa relies heavily on its cocoa industry, it is hard to know if even your fair trade chocolate has come from a sustainable farm with good ethical practices. However, these organizations are working hard to change things, and buying chocolate from Chocolates By Bernard Callebaut makes me feel like I am helping the change, instead of furthering the child labor problem. I can deal with that!

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Finally, the most shocking product for this matcha-loather… My very own bag of green tea powder. I attended a tea tasting for a friend who was beginning to sell Steeped Tea. I assured her that I do not drink hot drinks of any kind, I am not a fan. She told me to come anyway, and I am so glad she did! Green tea has huge benefits, and consuming it in powder form is a much better way to get those benefits than to drink it as a tea. The downside? Matcha tastes like rabbit food. It even smells like rabbit food. However, Steeped Tea does something different. They flavour it! They also recommend that you add it to orange juice. That is how I first tried the coconut matcha green tea – mixed with some OJ. It was actually quite nice, and I bought a bag that afternoon. I also bought a stainless steel shaker, which I now use to blend my smoothies with the matcha powder. It keeps my smoothie from melting for a few hours! I get pretty excited about it.

I have a few more products that I could have added to this post, but I will save those for next time! Thanks for hanging on this far. Have any ideas of what I might love? Leave a comment!

Enjoy the sunshine, everyone.

xo

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Flyer Shopping: Is It Worth It?

Happy December! How did that happen? Our fall is almost gone, and that is okay with me. It means we are that much closer to Spring!

During November, I made a concentrated effort to look through the flyers to find the best deals. November was tricky with two birthdays, an ear infection, unexpected travel, etc. However, I still did my best to stick to the plan. Let me tell you, it was only done out of a love for you guys! I have not missed sorting through flyers. What I found is that my meal plan often did not line up with what was on sale, so it really did not come in handy, and was just a lot of work. I also found I had to go to the store more often, because I was going to multiple stores and not just one or two.

I spent about $675 this month, which is roughly $150 more than last month. Because there was not a significant savings, or ANY savings, I will NOT be relying on flyers – ever. They are fun to look through when you are daydreaming about Christmas, but other than that, they are not for me. I will still likely go when they have case lot sales and deals like that, but when planning to shop for my week’s worth of groceries, I will stick to my local No Frills.

So there you have it. This post is short and sweet, so you can get on with your Christmas prep:
In the end, meal planning wins the day and saves you money. Sticking to your list and finding a good grocer with low prices is going to get you the best bang for your buck. Hopefully you save those dollars and pay off debt, and then celebrate with a warm vacation! One can dream. That is where you will find me – dreaming of shorts weather…

If you have comments, suggestions, or other thoughts, leave me a message!

xo

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No Frills vs other Grocers

Before I begin, I need to note that I found one last receipt for September, and it was from Costco 😦 ! That put me over $650 in groceries for the month of September.

October has come and gone! To recap, during September I shopped as normal, picking up what I needed at whatever store was closest, making sure to stick to a strict meal plan. For October I committed to only shop at No Frills while doing a meal plan again, and I was very happy with the results! However, October was pretty tricky with scheduling, and we did have to eat out a few times. Our grocery bill was about $425, but I am going to add $100 to that total because of our eating out. But STILL, that is a significant savings and I am all “Mom excited” about it.

For November, I plan to search flyers and shop according to who has the best deal on what I need. I am not really looking forward to it because it will be more work. But knowing the best way to shop is worth it!

Thanks for sticking around. Happy November! And happy birthday to my main red haired kiddo

xo

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Adulting 101: The dreaded budget

Budgeting is not my forte. I know that I am frugal and like to make the most of what I can, use what we have, and buy cheaper on most things. However, I can be talked into ordering supper without much of a fight and this adds up FAST. I want to curb that temptation. I have decided to cut out extra spending the only way I know how:

Meal planning.

Meal planning cuts out the need to grab supper on the go. It keeps me organized and accountable, and I love having the question “what are we having for supper” answered before everyone gets up for the day. I put my meats for the week in the fridge on Sunday or Monday, so they are thawed and ready to use. I would absolutely hate to have perfectly good meat go bad, so I need to use the meat that is ready to go. I have found this method very successful so far!

My plan for the next few months is to decide ahead of time how I will shop for an entire month, keep all my receipts, and then blog about it at the end. I know I was spending far too much at the store by not making meal plans, but it is hard to know exactly how much, where I was going wrong, and what is worth my time and what isn’t (for instance, I have decided that making tortilla wraps may not be worth my time…but making our own bread and some school snacks definitely is). I won’t end up spending more than I did before, and I can also see what method of shopping works best for my family. Hashtag winning, anyone?! Moving on.

For the month of September, I created a detailed supper plan and shopped accordingly. My main grocery store is No Frills, but I also use Costco for fresh vegetables and some other things we go through quickly. I like to flyer shop as well, so I did visit Sobeys and Co-op once each this month, and was happy with the deals I came out with. You cannot get every brand at No Frills, so it is helpful to shop around sometimes.

My monthly total for groceries was just over $500. (I will add right now that we already have our meat in the freezer, so that is not accounted for.) I KNOW that I lost a receipt, so unfortunately I do not have an exact total, which annoys me. C’est la vie! I also had a day where I forgot to put the supper in the slow cooker, missed bringing after school snack in the van for the kids so I had to go buy granola bars, had the dog eat the granola bars that one of my darling children left in the van… what I am saying is, there were a few unexpected expenses, but overall not too bad! I was happy with the outcome.

For October my plan is to again stick to my meal plan, but only shop at No Frills for my grocery needs. I look forward to seeing how much Costco does or does not save us! With a holiday coming up this month, I am interested to see how much our finances are affected. My goal is to not see much of a change 🙂

Until next month. Keep up the good work everyone,

xo

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The Joy Plan, A Full Review

By a show of Smartphones, how many know that the way to stop worrying is not to keep thinking about your problem? The way to “get out of your head” can require you to change your situation entirely. Thoughts are powerful, they run circles through your mind and before you know it, your thoughts are a violent vortex inside and you don’t know how to escape.

The Joy Plan is the end of this mind tornado. It shows you how to stop the internal mess, turn your focus to the reliable (such as your breathing or your heartbeat, called Mindfulness) and then start pushing those negative thoughts out. There is a pile of science in this book about how our brains work, how it creates a muscle memory effect and will continue bring up negative thoughts if we don’t intentionally create a new pattern, a new way of thinking. It journeys through a woman’s struggle from the bottom of a failed business to watching her dreams come true – all because she decided to give it a try and see what would happen.

So where am I at? It has been hard to continue to implement all I have learned from this book. However, being intentional is seldom easy and always requires extra thought. I continue to push negative thoughts out of my mind and replace them with something positive, but it is much harder when life is busy. It is so worth while and I continue to practice this.

I also started to go through Facebook and Twitter and get rid of negative posts that cloud my feeds.  I often just skip over those posts, but you have to see it or start reading it to know if it is worth your time or not. Being diligent in removing those ads, comments, threads, etc will feel like a fall cleaning that will benefit your mind! (Hashtag all the feels!) Next, I started to look up positive accounts to follow. I enjoy The Hands Free Mama for so many reasons and I recommend her to everyone! I have also found that people I thought I wanted to follow, I actually do not because of the language they use. If I have to push through their words to get to the heart of their message, they aren’t for me. Cursing and other bad language does not make me feel good, so I stay away.

I love to spend time outdoors during this gorgeous fall weather and turn my fascination into thankfulness. Gratitude turns into joy, we have all heard this. Have you stopped to practice how true this is? I try to be mindful in my prayers, starting with thanksgiving. Kaia Roman says throughout her book that she doesn’t know if it is the universe or God, but I fully believe and understand that our blessings and joy come from the Lord. I want to retrain my brain to work the way God intended it to! Struggles will come, hard times are evident and they will require our focus, but a joyless state of being is never what He had planned for us. The Joy Plan helped me to see that praying for more joy isn’t always the solution. When I put the work in and dug my heels against the negative thought process, I could see reasons for joy all around. My God is full of blessings and love, He wants me to dream big and show love! The less I have in my mind weighing me down and shadowing my spirit, the more I can be of use to Him, which is what my goal should always be.

To be honest, I have always wanted to be an encourager. A few years ago I heard a sermon that actually told me to ask God to answer that prayer! I did, and was surprised at how I started to see reasons all around to encourage my friends. Since practicing the joy plan, I have three good friends actually thank me for my encouragement! That right there is my answer to prayer.

The Joy Plan is a book that I want to read again and again, next time with a note pad. There is so much to glean from Kaia Roman’s words and experience, too much to remember. It was refreshing to take on a book that results in more Joy! I had a hard time finding moments in my day to stop and read, but I looked forward to my Joy Plan time.

Thank you for being so patient in waiting for this book review. It is just in time for sweaters, a cup of tea, and a great book.

Until next time,

xo

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Update: The Anxiety Experiment, Our Bedtime Struggle

So, many weeks have passed since Eli and I decided to cut out sugar. It was all in the name of A Better Sleep, and I am ready to weigh in.

First, Eli and I decided that this experiment was to be done at home. We would not refuse desert made for us when at friends’ or family’s houses. To be honest, I didn’t want to say no to birthday cake at my mom’s surprise party this summer! (I do not regret this choice. If you are looking for a beautiful and delicious cake in Central Alberta, check out A Little Slice of Heaven). This did make it easier to slowly add some sugar back into our diet at home, as is the case when you don’t kick a habit for good. I would say we lasted about a month before he was having yogurt tubes again, and cereal for breakfast. We aren’t back to where we were mid-July, but not at the place I would like us to be.

Second: sleep. How did it go, did cutting out sugar help?

I first thought I did not see much of a change, but in reading my first post and remembering the struggle he was having, I can see that we are at a much different place! He is more calm at bedtime, and isn’t out of his bed three times before finally falling asleep 90 minutes later.

Last night, Eli mentioned having trouble falling asleep these days, so it is time to cut sugar again and see if we find the same result. I do not want to end up where we were in June/July.

For myself, there was a fair bit of party planning going on all summer. I really enjoy organizing and planning parties. But it does account for many nights laying in bed awake because my mind won’t shut off. It wasn’t a good test for me because of timing, but I would be willing to do it again because of point three, which is…

Diet! Did I lose weight, and did I notice any changes?

I think I lost two pounds in twelve days, which I have found again… However, I was most surprised in how my stomach reacted. I would wake up hungry in the morning! This doesn’t happen for me…ever. I also found myself hungry at every meal time, instead of lightly peckish. You don’t realize how much you snack until you are mindful of what you are consuming. I am most excited to get back to being hungry, it shows me my body is working correctly. Right now I feel both sick and hungry-ish at the same time, which is my body NOT working correctly. How many people want to eat when they feel sick? Not me.

I think it was a good experiment, and I love that Eli did it with me and stayed strong for 3-4 weeks. If you have any questions or thoughts, please comment! I would love to hear from you.

xo

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The Anxiety Experiment – Our Bedtime Struggle

My husband and I have some fantastic children. We know that and do not take it lightly! But we, too, have our struggles, just like any other family. One that we are working on right now is Eli’s long list of fears. He is a cautious and wise young man, and often it is to his detriment. This week has been especially hard with the night time routines. As he gets tired, he finds it more difficult to fall asleep. He also starts to get anxious about the “what-if”s and scenarios that are unlikely to ever happen. It is both frustrating and tiresome, and I am ready for a change.

I know that diet has a huge impact on our lives, so when anything is off kilter it is my first step in problem-solving. This morning during our daily reading, Eli and I teamed up and read about sugar and its affects on the body; more specifically, our sleep cycles and melatonin. We are already quite mindful of sugar in our household, but most rules seem to go out the window when summer hits. The snack bag is packed with juice boxes, teddy grahams, cheddar penguins, and yogurt tubes. Why? Because we can get to the beach that much faster! Plus it has been far too hot to do any baking. But now I think we are suffering the consequences of those decisions, and it is time to pull back again.

During our reading we learned that the rise and drop in blood sugar levels cause the body to pull out of deep sleep cycles, and melatonin is disrupted in a high sugar diet. We also read about the drop in immune function when sugar is consumed. This is a fact I well know and have observed many times within our kids’ lives. It was nice to reaffirm that fact with my son with a study coming from a university and not from his sugar nazi mother.

After our reading, we grabbed our notepad and started jotting down snacks in our kitchen that cannot be an option anymore. Then we started on a list of snacks that offer more protein instead of sugar, and are healthier options. I am very proud of Eli! He made this list himself, (I wrote down his ideas as he thought of them). We also signed and dated the list and then posted it on the fridge. I know that there are many more options that need to be written down, but I also know that if it is not his decision, our plan will not stick. I am quite happy with what he is willing to give up.

Eli's Food List

Our goal in this (hopefully) permanent experiment is to establish a better sleep pattern and see the benefits in school with a less distracted child. I told Eli that I am all in, we can do this venture together, since neither of us sleep well. However, I should mention that only numbers 7 and 9 will be issues for me…

I hope that in three weeks I will have another update full of positive feed back and god results!

Happy sleeping, friends.

xo

 

 

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