Blackberries, Baby!

We have lived in our house now for 3 1/2 years.  One of the great things we heard from neighbors when we moved in is that the blackberry bush in our back yard would produce the biggest, juiciest blackberries.  I was SO excited!

But we have not been able to take advantage of a blackberry harvest yet.  They had overgrown and needed some tending.  Two years ago, I cut them way back and thought if they didn’t grow we could buy more to plant.

Last year, they grew, but there were only a few berries – and most of them got eaten by birds before we could get to them.

This year.  THIS YEAR I hope to see a change in that!

Blackberry blossoms

I don’t remember seeing so many blossoms in previous years. Whether it was due to needing some pruning or weird weather cycles, I don’t know – but I can’t believe how many blossoms our blackberries have this year already!

And there are SO MANY BLACKBERRIES already growing! I am really excited and HOPE that we can take advantage of these berries this year!

I have HUGE sweet memories of picking blackberries with family friends who lived in Oregon while I was still in high school.  I can still taste the warm blackberry cobbler and vanilla ice cream, after spending some time picking some of the biggest, sweetest blackberries I’d ever seen.  The blackberries in our yard – the few I have been able to enjoy – have been very big, but not as sweet as the ones I remember.  (I do think the flavor memory is definitely enhanced by the company and sweet friendship we shared!)

I have to say, while I am interested in the medicinal properties of blackberries, this year, I am hoping to really reap the benefits of just eating the fruit in a few different ways!!!

As you can see there are blossoms that have yet to bloom, blossoms in mid-bloom and rapidly growing berries. I don’t know the variety of berry, but I do know they produce 2 crops (and can you believe we’ve never really been able to harvest them?) per summer.

My hope is to make a blackberry cobbler for my family to enjoy and maybe WE can make sweet memories together, too!

Do any of you have any berries growing in your area?  Do you like to pick them?  What’s your favorite way to eat your berry harvest?

Essential Oil Profiles and Two Herbal Ecourses

Because I am an affiliate for the Ultimate Bundles geniuses, I was able to purchase my Herbs and Essential Oils Bundle early.  And I have been playing with it for almost a month.  I have been in HEAVEN!  I have breezed through a couple of the ebooks and will be rounding back around to them over the summer.  This bundle just has so many valuable resources, but I wanted to highlight three specific products.  Maybe you just want to find a couple of home remedies to deal with simple issues that you or your family are concerned with, and you just need some help getting started.

The first product I want to highlight is the Top 60 Essential Oil Profiles by Lea Harris.  This is an app of sorts that is built into Evernote.  (Which by the way – if you don’t have Evernote – you should use it for storing valuable documents, files, and more.  More on that later…)  Lea – my go to safety guru for essential oils – has provided a digital notebook of her Top 60 Essential Oil profiles.  This provides specific information on specific oils – and how to use them safely.

Wait?  You have a phone app that does this for you already?  I have not found ANY phone app that gives me the information these profiles give me.  They are not brand specific, they include dilution rates, and provide safety information for pregnant or nursing women, infants, and pets.  She has done the hard work of studying essential oils and provides information about the characteristics of each oil and suggestions for use.

This product alone retails for $24.98, just $5 less than the purchase price of the Herbs and Essential Oils Super Bundle.  If there is ANY other product in this bundle that interests you, then this bundle will likely save you some money!!!

I also enrolled in the DIY Herbal Apothecary Ecourse almost immediately upon downloading my bundle.  It is included in the family section of this bundle.  It retails for $197 – so if this product alone is enough for you, purchasing the bundle will save you big bucks!  This course allows you to study 25+ herbs in depth and learn how you can use them to help in your home and family.  As much as I love essential oils, I understand that they are only one product derived from herbs – and I am very interested in how herbs in general can be used at home.

This course is BEAUTIFULLY done.  I cannot say how much I enjoy seeing the quality of photos included.  The directions are provided in a simple manner, providing the opportunity to create something that can contains multiple benefits to my health and that of my family’s.  And then there are the recipes.  Oh my goodness! Salves, lotions, vinegars, candies, tinctures, decoctions (think “tea”) and more.  Using herbs you can find in your back yard, or garden pot, or purchase online.

The 3rd product I will highlight is the Herbal Academy Herbal Materia Medica Ecourse (valued at $79).  While similar to the DIY Herbal Apothecary Ecourse, this course focuses more on profiling a single herb in detail.  It teaches you how to research and herb in greater detail and how to build a reference book for yourself.  The printable PDF files provided in this course (which help explain “constituents” and “actions” in easy to understand terms) are a cinch to use and beautifully done.

If you have ANY desire to learn how to use herbs for your health at home, this bundle is an amazing collection of tools and resources to help!  If you are tired of buying OTC meds that don’t always work or cause some not-so-great side effects and you want to rely on more naturally-derived products – whose ingredients you know down to the last ounce – you cannot pass up on the Herbs and Essential Oils Bundle.  This sale ends on MONDAY!  Don’t let it pass you by – You can purchase your bundle by clicking below:

A Quick Latte At Home for under $1

A good cup of coffee does NOT have to be hard to come by.  It also does not have to cost you your firstborn child!  While I have paid a pretty penny for a good cup of coffee, I am always looking for ways to save money and still take my coffee experience to that “ahhhhhh this is so goooood!” level.  In the mornings when I drag myself to the kitchen knowing I have to be UP AND AT ‘EM before the kids get up, I am so thankful for my Keurig because it is easy and quick to use before my brain is fully functioning.  Now, with the help of a sweet little product from International Delight, I can made a quick {delicious} latte at home!

I have seen the ads for the International Delight One Touch Latte, and seen it on the grocery shelves.  I was a bit skeptical only because I have tried making real lattes at home, and without the hot milk and becoming a whiz with the frother, I just haven’t been able to make it happen.  Until yesterday!

I was shopping at Meijer and happened to have an mPerks coupon for $1 off.  The International Delight One Touch Latte was on sale, so I grabbed the caramel flavor and thought I would give it a whirl!

Once I got home and put groceries away (most of them), I started my Keurig.  I love the sound my Keurig makes when it’s warming up.  It reminds me of the sound of the Tardis and it gets me all excited {Dr Who Anyone?}!  So I grabbed the can and read the instructions.  I wanted to do this the was supposed to be done – and the instructions looked easy enough.

My hot cup of coffee was waiting with anticipation for that latte effect.  (Did i just humanize a cup of coffee?  oh man, I might need an intervention).  The sound that the latte cream makes coming out sorta does sound like an espresso machine frother – I was getting more hopeful by the minute.  I added a few extra seconds worth of latte.  I looked into the cup and it LOOKED like a latte from a coffee shop.  I was impressed!

I sipped and could instantly taste the full flavor of the caramel and cream with the coffee.  Yum!  I continued to drink it and noticed that the caramel flavor was pronounced, but I also prefer a tad more sweetness to my cup.  The creamy level was perfect and amazing, and I drank the cup down quite quickly.

As I made my cup this morning, I decided to add a little of my sweet creamer (less than I normally would use, though) before adding the Latte product.  I also held the nozzle higher in the cup – and what I ended up with was a perfect latte with a little whip on top.  (I know, I know – lattes aren’t supposed to have whip, but this one did!)

All in all, I love the added flavor and frothy-whippy effect of this product and would definitely recommend it to anyone who loves a latte.  With Vanilla, Caramel, and Mocha flavors – I will definitely be enjoying homemade lattes more often without having to spend a bunch of cash!

My cost was less than $1!

Kcup less than $.50 + OTLatte @ $.15 per serving for me.  The can says 40 servings per can, and I’m guessing I will probably use at least 20 ($2.99 / 20 servings = $.15 per serving)!!!

I am NOT an affiliate and receive no compensation for sharing this with you – I just love a good cup of coffee and want to let you know how you might have one at home too!  If you want to know more about how the One Touch Latte works, click here and watch the video – you might just have to go buy some yourself!

The One Where She Decided to Keep Writing

It has been some time since I really blogged here.  I have done sporadic updates, but frankly, my heart would love to be here writing 5 3 times a week.  Between 3 fast-growing kids, changes in jobs and homes over the past few years, even changes in technology, I have been on a journey.  Sometimes, I haven’t even been writing in my journals.  Some days the only notes I wrote were for school.  Some days I spent playing phone games and browsing Pinterest.  Some days I was just too tired to do or think or say one. more. thing.

I have debated giving up my blog entirely.  It’s sitting here – I’m paying for hosting – sometimes my blog is the only interaction I have with long-distance friends or family.  But here it sits, like that stack of papers I need to sign & review or toss in the burn barrel.

Frankly, my home life has been a wreck.  Now, when I say that – I don’t mean my family is falling apart.  I mean we have encountered so many changes, challenges, and made choices that have brought a lot of mental chaos to my life, which can be quite easily seen in my home.  I have not handled things well. There have been health issues and diagnoses in our family that have rocked my world.  There have been school issues and work changes that have left me exhausted.  As I am aging, I find myself feeling more aches & pains, tolerating noise & chaos less well, and losing a little bit of flexibility.

Then the whole election debacle happened.  I don’t think I’m the only person to have been left stunned by the results of the election or the aftermath.  Can I say that this has left me profoundly, deeply saddened for our world?  Probably not for reasons one might think, because I tend to lean to the conservative side in most areas.   God has really been speaking to my heart about a lot of things, a lot of issues and I feel like my blog is my place to share what He has been speaking to me…

HOPE was my word for 2016.  And I found myself chasing after HOPE more days than not…  More hours than not…

But for 2017, I felt like God gave me 2 words.

ENOUGH.

This word is about fully trusting God to be enough for me.  In every area.  He is calling me to rely on Him for my self-worth, my security, my finances, and more.  It is personal, a word just for me – something to process inwardly.

NOURISH.

He surprised me with this word.  But for me, it means I need to nourish others.  My relationships with my husband, with my children, with my extended family members.  But also friends, church family, and my community.  It has given me a lot of food for thought.  I have operated a lot in “crisis mode” where relationships are concerned – making them less important than other things, and this is the year I am intent on setting that right.

I have come to realize how my priorities have been set more by what has come at me – flying in my face – than by intention or thought or even prayer.  Family health issues, my health and my personal struggle with anxiety have all coagulated together to contribute to this.  But God has been granting me clarity (and Serenity!) and is helping me process some issues so I can let go of the needless and hang on to the needful.

It’s kinda like the instructions when you get on an airplane and they talk about how in the event of an emergency, oxygen masks may fall.  If you are traveling with small children or someone needing assistance, the advice is to put on your own oxygen mask first, so that you can better help those traveling with you.

Part of my process this year is putting on my oxygen mask. I find that I am okay with grabbing my oxygen mask first, which is one thing that this blog provides to me – oxygen!  So I decided to Keep Writing, and we will just see where it leads.

I am going to change the focus a tad because frankly, I love to write about EV. ERY. THING…  But I am going to narrow my focus and keep things going in a more cohesive direction, and hopefully you will see that soon.  I will be posting a reader survey soon and hope that – even if you don’t normally comment – you will find a way to share your perspective with me so I can bring some pleasure to your reading time.

Thanks for reading

Leave a comment today and tell me if you have a “word” for 2017 or what you hope to see happen this year in your own life.

The Sanctification of Motherhood: Anchored

Anchored 3Having the opportunity to read the first two chapters of a book that totally captured my mommy heart was really a surprise blessing.  I had just started following Kayla Aimee’s blog – don’t remember how I found her – but I knew after reading a couple of posts, that I enjoyed reading her words.  The chance to get a sneak peek at her newly launched book appealed to me, so I applied and got chosen.  Yay!  Books – right up there with my love for coffee!  The really surprising part was how, in such a short amount of reading, I could relate to the process of sanctification of motherhood – if not the circumstances – and how it plays out in her story…

I can tell you – the ending is good.  But the journey?  Oh the journey

Anchored: finding Hope in the Unexpected – relates the story of Kayla and her daughter, Scarlette, who was born at 24 weeks gestation – a micro preemie.  So tiny that Kayla couldn’t even touch Scarlette, let alone hold her.  Watching doctors and nurses work feverishly over her daughter when she stopped breathing.  Y’all, there were times I found myself holding my breath reading snippets of her story.

What Kayla writes about her faith is quite real.  While I have never dealt with the trauma of such a tiny preemie, I have found motherhood to be the most challenging journey of my faith.  When Little Man had his surgery – which seemed SO mountainous at the time – and did have serious effects down the road – I had to decide moment by moment whether or not I was going to trust that my God knew what was best for my child.

It is the biggest oxymoron of my life – trusting God with my child.  Not trusting that God loves my child, or that God has a plan for my child – but that His plan may be NOTHING like I hope.

It may be shorter than I hope.  It may be full of more trouble than I hope.  It may be full of disease or trauma or things I don’t like to consider.

It isn’t that I think God is mean or unkind – God is good all the time – but the things He allows in life are bothersome, and weigh on me in the dark of the night when I can’t sleep.  Reading Kayla’s story of Scarlette only further reminded me of these things.

And she questioned her faith.  Parts of her journey threatened to destroy her and leave her broken.

But God is bigger than life.  God is bigger than our journey.  and He is far bigger than my questions.  Sanctification – that process of making me holy, of setting me apart for the purpose God intended for me, is as much about my process as allowing God’s process of sanctification in each of my children.  Of course, I want them happy and successful – but if God allows other things, can I be so content with that process?

I think sanctification for me is a continual process of letting my child go.  Each one of my children.  Daily.  Sometimes, hourly.  And it is tough.  And it threatens to break me at times. Again, not because God is unkind but because He is persistent in His pursuit of them as much as He is me, and they each belong to Him ultimately.

Reading Kayla’s story reminded me of this.  And it was comforting.

If you are looking for a good book to read this summer – I would definitely recommend Anchored.

 

TAnchoredPrintable2ahis post was inspired by Kayla Aimee’s new book, Anchored: Finding Hope in the Unexpected. Order your copy of #AnchoredHope today and receive this printable as a free gift by clicking here!