Saturday, February 25, 2017

Simple Saturdays: The Easiest and Yummiest Shredded Chicken Ever

This is absolutely the easiest (and one of the tastiest) recipes I make.

Four ingredients.

Chicken, water, onion salt and italian dressing mix.
That's it!

And, it's super versatile.

All I do is place enough chicken for our family in a slow cooker (this time it was one breast and 3 thighs, but it's totally your preference).

Add 1 cup of water (we need the extra moisture here at our high elevation).

Then, I sprinkle the chicken with a generous amount of onion salt and 1 package of this italian dressing mix. The whole packet.

If the chicken is frozen, I put the slow cooker on high for an hour before switching it to low.
It's a pretty standard slow cooker meal, so high for 4 hours or low for 6-8.

Then, shred and add more water as necessary.

Our favorite ways to have this are over rice or mashed potatoes or on rolls as chicken sandwiches.

My kids GOBBLE it up. All three ask for seconds, and thirds...

I like to double the recipe so I can do sandwiches one night and over rice or potatoes later.

Hope you love it, too!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Spiritual Health

How I'm simplifying in order to flourish....

I'm finding that there is a lot of self-discipline needed to maintaining a healthy spiritual life.

I have to be intentional about setting my mind on things above (Col. 3:2), letting no unwholesome talk come out of my mouth (Eph 4:29), putting the Lord first in my heart, mind and actions (Matt 22:37). We are to rely on God for so much, but we have to CHOOSE that.

It is not an easy thing to do as a young mom, when so much of my time and mental energy are taken up by other things.

So, as I'm simplifying the rest of my life, this is getting a makeover, too.


One of the best things I've done recently is finding some new Christian music that I actually really like.

I'm a little picky when it comes to music. My husband calls my favorites my "weird music."

Sure I still skip a song here and there on the Amazon Prime station, but I love the sound of Elevation Worship.

My kids are even starting to learn some of the songs. I love that they sing along with me.

Music is such an easy way to keep truth circulating in your home.

And, I'm back singing on the worship team at our church... which just makes me feel so, well, like "me". I get slammed with doubts and insecurities all the time. I have no formal training. But, I grew up hearing my mom sing the harmony parts while we were in our pew at church and that became a natural thing for me. I know I need to branch out and sing the melody more often and with more confidence, but that will come.

Bible Study:

This is another area where I can't stress enough that you need to FIND WHAT WORKS FOR YOU... so you'll be less likely to give it up.

Not consistently being in the Word over the last few years really threw my faith into a tailspin. If you are not focusing on truth, lies will sneak in and start to camouflage themselves as fact. It is vitally important to our spiritual health to be in God's Word and focused on who He is and what He is all about. You can't believe something you don't know.

What works for me is to pick a topic each month, find a Bible reading plan about it and read a few verses each day. My favorite lists have come from Rachel Wojo (who even includes cute little printables) and the Bible Girl. At the beginning of each month, I write the passages to read on each corresponding day in my planner so I have no excuse not to read it. It's sitting right there waiting for me.


We've gotten back into a small group since we moved back to CO. It's VERY important to be in frequent contact with people who you trust to speak truth into your life. People who you can trust enough that when they call you out, you are able to listen instead of get offended. People who you know have your best interest at heart, even in the moments when the truth hurts. And, people who can celebrate life's victories with you and help to carry you through life's tragedies and challenges. We were made to do this life in community. Find your tribe.

(Two of my favorite books on this topic are Waking the Dead by John Eldredge and Kingdom of Couches by Will Walker. Both are books that I intend to reread very soon.)


Again, self-discipline. And prayer. Ha.

I've literally been praying that God would make me into a person whose prayers are powerful and effective. That He would make me faithful to pray when I tell someone I will. So far, He's answering that. And, I'm grateful. I want to be a faithful prayer partner for people.

I've also started using a traveler's notebook and one of the inserts is dedicated to prayer. It helps when I write and it's very encouraging to have a record of God's answers!

I hope you can find something to take from this little list of things that are helping me.
Be encouraged.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Simple Saturdays: Sunday Reset

A lot of simplifying my life has come down to setting myself up for success.

One way I do this is by having a few key things I do on Sunday nights.
I call it my Sunday Reset.

Basically it's a way to make sure I get these certain things done at least once a week.

I know Sunday is the Sabbath and I totally respect that. I do more of my "resting" on Saturdays. There are plenty of times when I end up doing this "reset" on a Monday because our Sunday was so great! (And, because my kids have Mondays off school.)
If you are uncomfortable doing this on a Sunday, pick a day that works for you and your family to do your "reset."

Some things you could do on Sunday to set up for a great week:
  • meal plan for the following week
  • read one chapter out of a specific book
  • water the plants
  • have the house tidy and clutter-free
  • put at least one good memory from the week in a "jar of joys"
  • vacuum    *I vacuum daily, but I like to make sure my week STARTS as dog hair-free as possible*
  • clean the coffee makers/diffusers
  • write a new memory verse on kitchen chalkboard
  • double-check calendar for main events to mentally prepare for the week
  • empty all garbages
  • ANYTHING else that helps you feel prepared
Doing these things on a weekly basis has been GREAT for me. 

I have a spot in my planner where I write the big ones to make sure that I get them done. 

Once again, you are getting a glimpse into the AMAZINGNESS that is inkWELL Press. 

Find what works for you and DO IT!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

My "Crunchy" Confession

This post may take a bit of a "crunchy" turn, but it is what it is.

(oh, and if you're a skeptic, that's ok.... this is just my experience!)

It was nearly 8 years ago that my sister-in-law first introduced me to essential oils.

I was happy (but hesitant) to learn about them because I was soon to have a baby and wanted something other than potent meds with crazy side effects to fall back on when we needed help for our health.

We use oils for practically EVERYTHING now but there are a couple that I use every. single. day.

The rollers I am constantly refilling are my sleep roller, my RLS roller and the roller I use on my face.

First up, my face roller. I was blessed to never get bad acne as a teen. However, instead, I get "blessed" with a few gnarly blemishes on a consistent basis as an adult. Since I started rolling a little bit of a blend of lavender, frankincense, and melaleuca onto my palm and mixing it with my face cream, I haven't had any issues with blemishes!

Next, my sleep roller: aka, my saving grace. Since having kids, I have become a very light sleeper. It also takes me a long time to fall asleep. I apply this sleep roller to my kids' feet as well as to my feet and wrists at night. While it doesn't make us fall asleep noticably faster, it does make me sleep noticeably harder - which means I wake up feeling better and more rested - which means my home is a much more peaceful and happy place in the morning.

And, lastly, my RLS roller. I'm not going to lie. I was kind of a jerk about Restless Leg Syndrome when my mom first started complaining about it. (sorry mom!) And then, my third baby gave me this *sweet* gift while I was pregnant with her. Along with the surprise stretch marks she gave me TWO DAYS before I delivered, the RLS hasn't gone away. Anyone who has it can tell you that it is nearly unbearable. Even if my husband gently grazes my leg, I freak out. This roller blend has been a LIFESAVER. It stops the tickle feeling almost immediately. But, it works best if I use it before the sensation starts. This one is a blend of lemongrass, marjoram (one of my favorites!), peppermint and coconut oil.

We use oils for MANY other things. They have helped me control my migraines, our allergies, digestive issues, keeping us well during flu season, making our laundry smell awesome without nasty chemicals, etc.

And, here's a fun tip - lemon oil makes it SUPER easy to remove stickers your kids happen to put, well, anywhere.

If you have any questions, please let me know!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Simple Saturdays

First up, meal planning.

Oh, how this used to frustrate me (and sometimes still does, let's be real).

It was especially challenging while my daughter was on the Ketogenic diet for epilepsy.

During that time, we were also living on a very remote cattle ranch.

Running to the store because I needed something specific for dinner wasn't an option,... at least not an easy one.

So, I streamlined my meal planning.
(with the help of inkWELL press - see the end of the post for a discount code! *although, this is NOT a sponsored post. I just love this company)

It USUALLY looks like this:

Sunday: Snack supper (fruits, popcorn, cheese) or Sunday Supper (where we invite a family over and I do a whole big meal)
Monday: This is the one that varies. Often it's chicken of some sort - BBQ or slow cooker over rice or potatoes
Tuesday: Tacos/Nachos
Wednesday: Pasta (Usually either fettuccini or tortellini alfredo and broccoli)
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Grill out (summers) or soup (winters)
Saturday: Homemade pizza night!

Following this basic menu allowed me to take the pressure off of the planning. If we were sick of alfredo, we'd switch to regular spaghetti or a fancy mac&cheese. But, keeping that night in the pasta category limited my choices (in a good way).

Grocery shopping became simplified. I had a rough idea of what my cost was going to be (depending on current store promotions or special occasions). And, I RARELY forgot anything because I picked up basically the same thing every time.

After each weekly menu spread, inkWELL press has included a grocery list to fill in for the week. I love being able to add to it throughout the week BEFORE I shop. It's all in one nice, neat, organized space for when I'm at the store. I am now so much less likely to forget something! Plus, the menu planner is compact enough to fit easily in my purse and it will cover a WHOLE YEAR of weekly menus!

And, my sweet friend, Katie, had the brilliant idea of marking in the bottom right corner how much your groceries cost that week so you can compare week to week how much you've spent!

Now, I'm not saying you have to follow this exact plan.
But, pick your family favorites and build a menu from there.

My husband loves Taco Tuesdays and Saturday night pizza nights are one of his family's traditions, so we stuck with those. My kids love alfredo, so that's easy (and cheap!).

Kids never seem to mind eating the same thing over and over.
I love that mine get excited for dinner.
(and I LOVE not throwing away a lot of food from trying a new recipe and having no one like it)

Find what works for you and go with it!

I have ALWAYS depended on a paper planner. My dad used to have this electronic one when I was little that he referred to as his "brain". I totally get that. People now tend to use their phones. For me, if it is out of sight, (like once entered into a digital calendar) it is out of mind. I need to be able to flip through and see everything at once. I have used a paper planner for as long as I can remember.

And then, one fateful day in 2013, I saw an advertisement for a NEW planner company that caught my attention. The planners were classy, beautiful, and looked totally functional.

I have been an inkWELL press customer since day 1.

Perhaps I will dedicate an entire "simple saturday" to their products sometime, since they have been instrumental in simplifying my life (no little notes to myself all over - my amazing planner holds EVERYTHING).

In the meantime, if you would like to try them out, use this link to sign up and receive $10 off your first order of $50.

You won't regret it.
I promise.

Thursday, February 9, 2017


My 2017 Word of the Year is FLOURISH.

Why did I pick that word?

Last year, I got sick. My stomach had frequent issues, I had a terrible time sleeping, my skin was awful, my hair brittle, I had anxiety and all sorts of issues. I was sad and disheartened. I felt like I lost myself. I felt like I was wasting my time and energy (what energy I actually had). I did not feel like I was doing anything of importance. My daughter was having her worst period with epilepsy yet. My husband's work left me alone... a lot. I was so down.

I don't think ANYONE actually understood how "off" I really was.

Since I've struggled with hypothyroidism for the last 7 years, I figured my levels were off again.
And, I made an appointment with a new doctor. 

In the parking lot, before my appointment, I tried to mentally prepare myself with how I would respond when I was inevitably offered meds for depression and anxiety.

I really didn't want to believe that this could all be managed with a pill.
In fact, I didn't want to manage these feelings at all.

I wanted to be fixed. 

The doctor, who I was seeing for the first time, shocked me when she asked what I do for myself.

Um,... what?

She wondered what I was doing to care for myself.

I had no answers.
I was a young mom at a home in a very remote part of the country, alone with the kids most of the time. I spent my life managing our family, making food, cleaning, driving long distances to get anywhere, cleaning, dealing with the Ketogenic diet for my daughter, cleaning up after little people, and doing all the home management things my husband didn't have time for (like dealing with insurance and doctor's appointments and school things and bills and budgeting and laundry, etc, etc, etc).
There really wasn't any time left for me.

Her prescription?
   To make time to do something for me - hire a babysitter if necessary, but do something I enjoy at least once a week. Moderate exercise that is NOT interrupted by the kids. Taking the time to prepare healthy, sustaining meals for myself. Honesty with my husband.

She wanted to see me in a month. If my issues weren't resolved by then, she'd run some tests.

I started being more intentional with my eating, taking my vitamins, and began to be more intentional with the use of my trusty essential oils. I began doing yoga (following a youtuber who doesn't focus on the spiritual weird stuff but more on the health and functionality of your body). I found a DOABLE daily scripture reading plan. I even began Bible journaling and my sweet husband made sure I had time to do it. I found my big girl camera and started putting her back to use.

This year, I want to build on that foundation.

But, not only build,... I want to flourish in the things I choose to do.

To flourish is to grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, especially as the result of a particularly favorable environment.

I love the idea of growing in a favorable environment.

But that implies that we have to set ourselves up for success.
We have to initiate our own health, habits and growth.
We have to narrow down our priorities to live the life we want.

Follow along as I break down how I'm doing this in my life in blog posts that are yet to come.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

2017 Word of the Year

In my quest to simply EVERYTHING, I've still maintained the Word of the Year trend because it helps keep me focused.

This year my word is: FLOURISH

To flourish is to grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, especially as the result of a particularly favorable environment.

I want to flourish in some very specific areas of my life.

For example, I want to flourish physically. I want to fuel my body well by eating well. I want to be strong and capable so I can keep up with my kids.

I want to flourish spiritually. I need to get back to the basics. To study God's Word and remind myself of who HE says He is.

I want to flourish as a wife and mom. That means spending time investing in these relationships.

The key here is to set up a "particularly favorable environment."

So, how do you do that?

Well, I will be breaking each category down in subsequent blog posts.

Stay tuned!