If You’re Not Angry, You’re Not Paying Attention!

I’m angry…no, that’s not correct. I am livid. Furious. Incensed. Nauseated. If you read the news or watch TV I’m sure you’ve heard about the Raven’s running back Ray Rice who was cut from the team and suspended indefinitely by the NFL after video surfaced of him beating his then fiancé in an elevator back in February. This incident had already gotten him a two game suspension before the video surfaced, the team and the NFL knew about the incident ‘investigated’ it and decided a suitable punishment for Rice was the suspension and a fine…. A drop in the bucket of how much he makes annually. The team and the league stood behind Rice after the ‘incident’ came to light, various comments I read reminded me of exactly waht anyone who has ever worked/volunteered in Domestic Violence has heard time and time again:
· He’s a good guy, he would never hurt someone like that
· He had too much to drink and lost control, it happens from time to time
· He has shown remorse after a bad incident. It was out of character.

I shake my head in disgust with each and every comment that ever excuses the behavior of someone who would hit the person they ‘love’. Abuse is a tragic and far to common experience for millions of women (and men I would never discount the abuse felt by men daily, but for the purpose of this story I will use the gender norms of male aggressor/female survivor). When the video surfaced this week of the actual incident everyone changed their story. Suddenly confronted with the true horror of the experience these men were quick to change their tune and Rice was let go from the Raven’s and indefinitely suspended from the NFL. Too little too late in my opinion.

The part I don’t get, it’s the exact same incident. They knew what happened, he knocked out his then fiancé in the elevator. In the video they see him knock out his fiancé in the elevator. Why the change in punishment for the same crime? Why was he not let go and suspended immediately after this came to light? I fear that this story is exactly what happens across the country. Until video footage or some ‘irrefutable’ evidence surfaces, victims stories are down played or all together not believed.

The most disgusting part of this story was a comment I read today in the Washington Post

“It’s possible [Rice] makes it back at some point,” the executive said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized by his team to publicly address Rice’s future chances of playing in the league. “Vick made it back. But any team would look at it very skeptically and wonder if it was worth the trouble. His production [as a player] was slipping. So that works against him, too.”

Excuse me while I vomit a little bit. If he was a better player would he have been kicked out? The answer I think we all know is probably not.

The worst part for me is hearing the water cooler comments at work. I’ve been a volunteer and supporter of a local domestic violence organization for many years. I volunteered as a crisis line volunteer, I have seen first hand the effects of domestic violence and held hands of the women who felt they had no options, no choice, no hope. I know how hard it is for people on the outside to understand the dynamics of a domestic violence situation and understand the rationale for why someone doesn’t leave. But it still makes me sick to hear the victim blaming that happens any time a situation like this becomes headline news.
· ‘She is just a dumb as him because she stayed.’
· ‘Why doesn’t she just leave? Must be a gold digger, staying for his money.’
· ‘It must not be that bad since she is still with him.’

It is important in these situations to remember a few things

1. The most dangerous point in a domestic violence situation is when the victim asserts independence and attempts to leave. Everyday in the United States, 3 women are murdered by their significant other. In this particular situation, if you have seen the video you can see how easy it would be for Rice to murder her with his bare hands. That is frightening, would you risk you’re life?
2. We don’t know what kind of support system she has. Abuse victims are usually isolated from family and friends and live with an abuser who constantly makes them dependent financially and emotionally on them. Constantly hearing you are worthless and that no one would believe you or help you isn’t uncommon. Look at this situation, even after it was discovered he knocked her out people were quick to defend Rice, no one stepped up to help her publicly. Abuse victims often feel alone and the system/culture sadly re-enforces this idea.
3. The cycle of abuse is a terrible thing, violence isn’t always 24/7 and is usually followed by a honeymoon period where the abuser swears they will change. Love is still there and when added to the other factors mentioned victims can feel compelled to stay.


I know this has seemingly nothing to do with the usual topics around here, but it is something I feel passionate about. I will raise my children to know that victim blaming is dangerous and wrong. I will teach them that love is never violent. I will teach my sons and daughters to stand up to peers who perpetuate dangerous stereotypes. I can only teach them these things if I am willing to follow through with them myself. So here I am to say, if you every a feel threatened, alone, victimized know there is help out there. You are brave and wonderful and completely deserving of happiness and love. You have every right to feel safe in your own home and when you are ready to leave please reach out and do it safely. For every one else, don’t let these dangerous stereotypes continue. Don’t blame a victim for the perpetrators crime, don’t joke about domestic violence. Do not ever excuse the behavior of an abuser. Volunteer, educate yourself, know that domestic violence is not limited to any socioeconomic class or race. It is a problem that will effect 1 in 6 women in their lifetime.

If you need help contact
National Domestic Violence Hotline- http://www.thehotline.org 1-800-799-7233
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence- http://www.ncadv.org
National Resource Center on Domestic Violence- http://www.nrcdv.org
RAINN- http://www.rainn.org
If you are in Michigan:
Michigan Resource Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence- http://www.resourcecenter.info
Michigan Coalition to End Domestic & Sexual Violence- http://www.mcedsv.org 1-514-347-7000
If you are in Ottawa or Allegan Counties
The Center for Women in Transition- http://www.cwitmi.org 1-800-848-5991

Homestead Wedding- DIY Glamour

Homestead Wedding: DIY Glamour on a budget

We’ve officially been engaged for a couple weeks and wow has it been a busy for us! Between work, life, family and friends we’ve been on the go pretty much constantly. Which isn’t all that unusual for us, it’s interesting we are both confirmed homebodies but somehow our schedule is always full. I blame Dustin, people like him! 😉 Anyways, it’s also been very productive because we have gotten a lot of wedding details hammered out!! YAY, I was able to ask all of my bridesmaids to be in the wedding, and amazingly they all said yes! Dustin was able to do the same with his side and it’s nice to know who will be standing up with us in September.

We have our officiant booked, which is so amazing because we were pretty stuck on this part. We are getting married about 3 hours from home and didn’t really feel comfortable asking our pastor from church because we are so bad about attending regularly. And we don’t know any pastors up there, and we didn’t want to go with someone who didn’t know us at all. Turns out a good friend is an ordained minister woot woot for fate. We were having dinner with a group of friends and his wife very kindly offered up his services. We were stunned with their kindness and excitement. Neither of us are the type of people who take friendship for granted and more often than not feel bad asking for anything because we don’t get that people actually like us. But for some reason they do, and she offered so adorably as though we’d even think of saying no! Now we have someone who really knows us, and our relationship, marrying us, and best part they had a very similar ceremony in their own wedding to what we want!!

We have the location set and confirmed, which was pretty easy since it is Dustin’s property. But we were polite and made sure it was ok with his dad…which of course it was! I’m so excited, it is one of my favorite places in the world. Private and beautiful there are great spaces for everything we want to do, and it’s close enough to a good size town that people will be able to make a fun weekend out of the trip! That’s important to me, since no one we are inviting actually lives there I wanted to make sure there was hotels and activities for them to make a weekend out of the trip. Otherwise it’s close enough if people really wanted to do the round-trip they could. It also splits the difference between my family up north and our family here.

Budget is the biggest part of our wedding, this is a second wedding for me and both of us feel that it is important that we put this party on ourselves. Because we have big plans for being debt free it is especially important that we stick to our budget. Luckily I love being crafty and it’s actually going to be a LOT of fun for me to be able to make most of our decorations and related wedding stuff. We sat down and figured out what was most important to us, and didn’t mind letting the ‘traditional’ things go that were not a huge deal for us. We are planning on doing a potluck style reception, Dustin isn’t big on cakes or sweets so we’ll probably do either pie (we are both suckers for apple pie) or cupcakes. Music and good photography are important to us so we’re willing to spend a little more on those budget items. I’m not much of a girlie girl and so buying a big fancy wedding dress isn’t something that appeals to me (particularly financially) so I have been really happy with the selections I have found on Modcloth!! I’ve already ordered two that I love that were on great sale and can’t wait to try them on.

Our overall style for the wedding is eclectic, we want to play up the natural beauty of the property and focus on our heritage so we are pulling from a lot of different areas. A lot of lace, candles, wine bottles and glass jars, and plenty of wildflowers and a lot of personal touches.If you want to follow along please come check out my Pinterest page for the wedding! I am loving all the ideas I have found from so many wonderfully creative people out there!

One of my favorite projects so far has been how I asked my bridesmaids to be in the wedding!! I originally wanted to find small boxes (like cupcake size) but it just didn’t work out, so I went with plain white gift bags! I added the burlap and lace with fabric glue and loved how they turned out!

Maid of honor- My sister:

Maid of Honor ask


Dustin’s sister:

Bridesmaid ask- sister in law

Two great friends I made at work:

Bridesmaid ask- friendsInside each bag I put a ring pop (cause who pops the question with out a ring?) and each card was written with a personal message of mushy love to my girls. I’m so happy to have four beautiful, fun, sassy women standing up with me. And I love how the ask bags turned out!

Bridesmaid Ask BagsI also have a ton of wine bottles saved up that I have been collecting for the last couple years to do a bunch of Pinterest projects with, since I haven’t gotten around to those yet they will most likely be used as wedding decorations instead! I have been trying a bunch of different styles for decorating them and it’s been really fun. Can’t wait to try some more combinations of lace, burlap, twine, and ribbon!

DIY Wedding Decoration

If you are on a budget then I highly recommend you check out your local thrift stores and garage sales, I have been able to find a TON of stuff there for really cheap. Seriously, tapered candles were 5/$1 at one place!! Next time I’ll update you on some of the eco-friendly plans we have for the wedding and how we’ve been working on keeping everything under budget so we can splurge on the important things. Planning this wedding is so much fun, we can’t wait to have a big party with all our loved ones and promise ourselves to each other. I’m particularly excited to share some of our ceremony ideas with you guys, I know most people focus on the reception (cause who doesn’t love a good party) but we both wanted to put a lot of emphasis on our ceremony and making it both memorable and meaningful. I love what we have planned so far and can’t wait to show you guys the details. So what ways did you stay on budget for your own wedding?! Share the deets, I’m a girl on a limited budget with big plans!

Stockpile vs. Horde: Don’t be Weighed Down When the Zombies Come!

Stockpile Vs. Horde how to tell the difference

In popular culture you often see preppers being portrayed as whack-jobs, they run around with tin foil hats and spout off nonsense. When they show off their ‘stockpile’ it often it looks like Horders-Prepper Edition. Rooms filled floor to ceiling with toilet paper and spam. Who could live like that? Having a stockpile isn’t a bad thing, not at all. When SHTF the first thing that will happen is store shelves will be bared. Even now when the supply chain gets disrupted in the slightest way you’ll find empty shelves and long lines at the store. So being prepared with a stock of supplies is a good plan. But please for goodness sakes be smart about what you stock.

When I think about stocking supplies for emergency situations, whether local, global, or just personal, I focus on the most basic and work my way up. I think of things that I could not replicate on my own. Some of the items I see most often on lists for stocking up make me shake my head. Firstly, they take up a lot of room and are usually one use items. Secondly, what do people plan to do when those stores run out? In a true TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it) you need to know how to replace those items because the stores aren’t coming back.

Toilet paper– ok, seriously. Major single use item and its bulky as hell. Look at transitioning to family cloth. It’s cleaner, softer, more effective and its reusable. Most importantly it takes up so much less space!! Take a piece of soft flannel, old bed sheets work great for this, and cut it into small squares. Mine are roughly 4×4, next time I might make them a little bigger. But they work just fine. If you want to get fancy and hem them, go for it. Check out this great article on family cloths and give it a shot. Stock up on a few rolls of TP for convenience and trading, but otherwise save the space and pick up a cheap set of flannel sheets from the thrift store.

Diapers– Same as TP, what are you going to do when the disposables run out? Cloth diapering has had a major resurgence lately (we even have a whole cloth diaper store here in town!) so it isn’t hard to find a ton of resources on how to cloth diaper and even pick them up for a great deal. My friend was lucky enough to find a bunch at garage sales! It’s more of an upfront cost than disposables, but will save you a ton in the long run. And when SHTF you’ll be set for any babies that come along.

Feminine Hygiene products– You can count on death, taxes and aunt flow to always be showing up! When SHTF that isn’t going to change. Learn now about re-usable products like a diva cup and cloth pads. Like family cloths, cloth pads are so much better for your body. The chemicals in tampons and pads are ridiculous and putting all that so close to your body on a regular basis is just gross. So many people who use re-usable feminine hygiene products have said that they’re cramps are less painful and their periods overall are less severe. As if that wasn’t reason enough to change, reusable options are also much less expensive over all, especially if you make the cloth pads yourself!

Food Items– This is outside of your normal pantry full of yummy food (particularly stuff canned from your garden). These are long term food storage items, what you want to do is make sure it’s the right kind of food. There are items that never expire, or have a 30 year shelf life. Those are definitely the items to stock up on now while they’re relatively inexpensive. Stock up the items you can’t grow/forage/find/make in your local area. Things like rice which stores amazingly and is really time consuming/difficult to grow/harvest in large quantities. Can or dehydrate citrus fruit (if you live in cold temps like us) and chocolate and coffee. Think about the food items that you would miss the most if suddenly you were limited to what could be produced locally. Having a room full of spam will get old quick and again you’ll be stuck trying to figure out what to do when it’s gone. A room full import or luxury items you can’t grow will be a much more welcome sight if things go bad.

Health and Beauty Products: Like the rest of the items on the list these are items that have cheaper, more natural homemade options. While I don’t have a problem with a decent supply of your favorite shampoo or deodorant it would be useful to know how to make your own for when those supplies run out! Baking soda, apple cider vinegar and coconut oil can replace pretty much everything you can imagine. If you have access to beeswax and goats-milk you can get even more fancy! You can buy these supplies in bulk from Mountain Rose and learn to make them for yourself.

So what should you stock? Think of the things you can’t replicate, I have never seen a coconut tree in Michigan, even if I did I would have no idea how to make coconut oil. Because it is the ultimate multitasker this is one I definitely stock up on it. Same thing with rice, chocolate, and if you’re a coffee drinker you’ll probably want to get on that! Stock up on seeds and gardening equipment. Learn how to make things from scratch and stock up on the most basic items! Keep an eye out at garage sales and thrift stores for hand operated items. When the power goes out you’re electric can opener won’t do you a whole lot of good. I love my stand mixer but without power it’s just a pretty space taker. It’s easy to get sucked down the rabbit hole when it comes to prepping, but if you prioritize, focus on gaining knowledge, and practice with what you have it doesn’t have to be an all consuming thing.

Granny Falls Creek

This reminds me of the time we caught a ‘Grandma Fish’ up in Canada, 20 years later it still makes me chuckle to think about hauling my lovely grandma out of the cold water with our poles!

Happy Homesteaders in Texas

Back in January, we took my mother to the property to view the beginning of what would become our “forever” home.  After looking at the foundation that was in the process of being poured we walked out to the back of the property to check on the mineral block we had set out for the deer/antelope, get the disk out of the Critter Cam and walk along the little creek.

During our little walk, my mother lost her balance and with a slow, downward pirouette she fell into the water!  Fortunately, other than her pride, she was not injured and for few days afterwards the family had a little fun at her expense on Facebook.  I felt that the occasion needed to be remembered for ages to come and put out a request for my FB friends and family to “Name That Crick”!  I received several great recommendations but the…

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Messy Beautiful Love: Hope and Redemption for Real-Life Marriages


I am so excited to be a part of the Messy Beautiful Love launch team! This is my first chance to review a book and give all you lovely readers the details and hook up! I received  the materials yesterday and I am so excited. As you guys may have noticed I am getting married next year (major squee) and I am doing it right this time. Starting with the right man! But it’s more than that, I’m older, more experienced I know myself better and I have a desire to be in a relationship with someone who has the same long term goal. And now I have that! So I am going to do everything I can to be the best fiance, wife, friend, lover I can be! I’ve already flipped through the study guide and all the freebies and can’t wait to dive into the book. Seriously, it looks great!! I am always eager to learn from other peoples experiences and I know this will be a good one! 

Want to get in on the action? If you pre-order Messy Beautiful Love before it’s September release you will get $50 worth of freebies! Yep you read that right $50!!! Seriously, these are awesome, to get the full list of freebies go here. But they include a huge bundle of e-books and so much more! So I’m off to read and you should check out these links to get your pre-order in now. You can pre-order (paperback or e-book) from Amazon or Barnes and Noble as well as directly from the Messy Beautiful Love website

MBL Freebies

Oily Family- Who Doesn’t Like to Be Spoiled?!


Confession time, I love being pampered. Seriously, who doesn’t? But I’m a girl on a budget and that means spa days just haven’t been happening in the last two years!! So what’s a girl to do? Well get creative of course, I figured if I couldn’t go to the spa, I would bring the spa home to me. I started making my own bath fizzes and fancy body scrubs, I would diffuse essential oils to create that spa like atmosphere and I found that I enjoyed my DIY spa more than I did the real thing. Not only was I saving money but I was also being more conscious of what was going on and in my body! That was huge, and turned out to be the tip of the iceberg. I started replacing chemical cleaners with oils, beauty products and lotions such as my homemade body butter, over the counter medications for heartburn, headaches, sunburns, sleep aids. All replaced with essential oils. It’s amazing. They have become our go-to for first line of defense. Whenever me or Dustin have a headache we reach for our headache roller first. If that doesn’t help for whatever reason then we’ll take Tylenol. When my heartburn acts up I’ll take a peppermint beadlet and almost always that helps, saving my acid reflux meds for when it’s really bad instead of every case of indigestion. Neither of us sleeps very well if we forget to use our sleepy-time blend on our feet at night. And I love the smell of my eucalyptus laundry detergent.

I have found that since we transitioned to essential oils our headaches are less frequent, my allergies are so much less severe and I just feel better. I will never say that essential oils are the perfect solution to ever problem, but they are a great all natural first step, especially for those of us who like to control exactly what is in our environment. Essential oils are distilled from plants and creates and extremely concentrated version of that plant, ever heard of drinking peppermint or ginger tea for a tummy ache? Then you’ve experienced the power of essential oils in a very diluted form! Essential oils are up to 100s of times more powerful than the original plant and that means it takes very little of the oil to get the same effect. I love this, because it saves us money! That’s huge. The money we’ve saved on pain medications, sleep aids, heartburn medications has been significant. Essential oils may seem like an expensive purchase up front, but in reality you are saving money. Per dose you can see the difference is dramatic! For example, one dose of omeprazole costs about .40/pill and you’re supposed to take it twice a day to prevent heartburn. OR I could take one dose of peppermint essential oil at .11/drop whenever heartburn hits and it’s gone almost as quickly as it shows up! That’s some serious savings. Check out this post by Glad2Be Living that compares the costs of common OTC medications and Essential Oils!

I love DoTerra oils, I’ve used a couple of different brands and this is the one I love the best. But whatever brand you prefer that’s perfectly fine! On top of high quality oils I love the DoTerra brand for their customer service and the deals I’m able to get on my oils. Because I am a wellness advocate with DoTerra I am able to earn free oil! Yep FREE! That’s a deal I like. Every month I order through the Loyalty Rewards Program and up to 30% of my order comes back to me in the form of points that I can use on future oil purchases! I save up my points and every couple months order myself some oils off my wish list. This is on top of the 25% discount I get off the purchase price just for signing up. Think of it like a Sam’s Club or Costco membership (which is actually more expensive than becoming a member of DoTerra) you pay upfront to get the great prices. I’ve already saved more than my membership cost thanks to this discount. On top of all that every month DoTerra will send you a free bottle of their oil of the month if your LRP order is at least 125 points!


There are so many opportunities like this and more. I also love being a part of the online communities. When I signed up I became a member of two different Facebook groups full of ideas and tips for using essential oils. I have learned so much from those ladies (and not a few gentlemen) I love seeing people come together to help when someone has a question or ailment! If you sign up to be a wellness advocate here I will send you you’re very own copy of Modern Essentials pocket guide!


Full of tips and uses for your oils and perfect sized for carrying with you every day. Sign up before 9/30/14 and I will send you a free bottle of Lemon essential oil!


Below are some of the very first recipes I used with essential oils! They’re super easy to make and really fabulous to use! You’re welcome 😉

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Body Scrub:
1 Cup Brown Sugar
¼ cup oil (Almond, coconut, Doterra Factionated Coconut Oil)
5 drops On-Guard or Cinnamon Oil (On-Guard is a great oil blend for improving your immune system. This scrub would be great for keeping away the winter colds and viruses)

Mix the ingredients together and stir before using, I put it in a jar and keep it on top of my shower and use whenever I feel like pampering myself.


Bath Fizzes:
1 Cup Citric Acid (you’ll find it in the canning aisle)
1 Cup baking soda
½ Cup Cornstarch (or arrowroot powder if you prefer)
½ Cup oil (Almond, Coconut, or DoTERRA Fractionated Coconut Oil)
8-10 Drops Essential Oil- I love peppermint or one of the citrus scents for this. Otherwise Lavender is a great calming oil for baths
Silicone mold or saran wrap

Mix together the ingredients and add your oils. Mix well until a soft dough is formed (should almost be like a slightly damp sand. You don’t want it to be wet just damp. If its too wet add more baking soda and cornstarch until you get the right consistency.
Put the mixture into your molds or you can put the saran wrap in cupcake tins. Let dry completely. Depending on how humid it is it can take a couple hours up to a whole day.
To use, just drop one into the tub and let fizz delightfully while you bathe 😀


Laundry Detergent:

Powder Version
1 bar of soap- I use Ivory
2 cups washing soda
2 cups borax
1 cup baking soda
10-12 drops of Essential Oil (I like eucalyptus and malelucia)

Grate the bar of soap using a <a href="http://Progressive International Multi Grater Set“>grater. The smaller the grate the better. Mix together dry ingredients, I put it in a large <a href="http://Airtight With Handle Large 40 Cup 10X8X9“>snapware and keep it in there. Add the essential oils and mix thoroughly so the scent is blended and no clumps are left. Use about 1 tablespoon per load of laundry.


Liquid Version
1 cup washing soda
1 cup bar soap grated
1 cup borax
1 quart boiling water
10-12 drops of essential oil
Large 5 gallon bucket

Grate soap, boil the quart of water and add soap. Stir and let boil until soap is dissolved, take off the heat. Fill the 5 gallon bucket about halfway with hot water, add the borax and washing soda and stir well. Sir in the melted soap mix and add the essential oils, stir very well. Let set 24 hours before using. Stir very well. I take a portion of the liquid detergent from the large bucket and put it in my <a href="http://Airtight With Handle Large 40 Cup 10X8X9“>snapware container. You use about ¼ cup per load.

Infertility- The Hope, the Heartache, and a Personal Agony.

My heart has ached lately for those of us who deal with infertility. This is a topic that has been near and dear to my heart for a very long time. Since I was a kid I knew there was something different about me and never expected to be able to have kids. So for years I protected myself by saying I just didn’t want kids. So much easier to deal with people thinking I’m unwilling to have kids rather than unable. I hate to see the pity in their eyes, or worse hear the things they say that they think will be helpful. For every story you tell me about your friend so and so who got pregnant doing XYZ I have a dozen more of women who never know the beauty of pregnancy or adoption. I know the statistics backwards and forwards. I know the options. I know the cost. I know more about this topic than I ever wished to know.
I always wished a doctor would just tell me to give up, that it will never happen. That way I could grieve and try and move on, the hope is the hardest thing to deal with. How do you survive month to month not knowing if this treatment will finally work or if this time they will finally say enough is enough. When I was going through fertility treatments a few years back it was incredibly hard for me to handle the emotional roller coaster. The intense hope I would feel after an appointment the incredible despair I would feel after another failed round of treatment. But the beauty of this experience is the fact that it has given me something to offer all of you.
For those of you dealing with your own infertility journey:
1. Never go to an appointment alone, no matter how insignificant the appointment seems having someone there to hold your hand or let you cry on their shoulder will help reduce the burden. Might I suggest either someone who is also going through fertility, or someone close enough to you to know better than to offer platitudes. Make sure they can handle your grief if things go badly, the quiet comfort of just having someone hold you after the bad news helps to not feel so alone.
2. Know the line in the sand ahead of time. In the midst of treatment it is so easy to let yourself be pushed further along than you wish to go. Know your limits. For me I did not want to use in-vitro. I know with my condition it’s the ‘easiest’ way to become pregnant. But it wasn’t the right choice financially or emotionally for me. That’s the important point…For me… everyone has their own views, opinions, beliefs and limitations. Respect their decisions and demand respect for your own. If you start out knowing how far you will go it’s easier (relatively) to say no when those options are put on the table. Make sure your doctor is aware of your choices and be firm.
3. Stay healthy- the drugs, the pain, the desire to eat ice cream straight from the tub after every appointment will wreck havoc on your body. Don’t let this happen. Start or continue a regular exercise routine, eat healthy, try yoga. Keeping your body healthy will limit the bad side effects of the drugs (and they are numerous and annoying) and if you do get pregnant you’ll be in a better place to have a healthy baby. Also it will help lessen the stress of appointments and drugs and disappointments to be able to swim off the stress or hit a punching bag. Healthy outlets for the disappointment and anger integral in this journey is essential.
4. Take all advice with a grain of salt. Every body is different and every body reacts differently to treatment. Maybe you’re a lucky one and your body will respond to the first round of treatment, if so congrats. For everyone else know this is usually a long, hard, painful journey and you will hear every imaginable idea for conception. Be open to trying different things, but be cautious about setting you heart on any one idea.
5. Balance- Remember why you started this, stay close to your significant other and try to keep this journey from taking over your life. Don’t forget to enjoy time together. Be silly. Go on a picnic. Travel. Live your life. This is the hardest thing to do, but the most important. Because at the end of the day all you have is each other and when this journey ends (with or without a child) you will still have each other. Don’t let go of that. Communicate. Cry together. No one else really understands what’s going on in your journey better than the two of you.

For those of you who are friends or family of people going through infertility treatment please be kind. Recognize that certain events or announcements may be difficult. We love you very much and are genuinely happy that you’re pregnant, having a baby shower, being recognized at church on mother’s day, etc. But know that each and every time we see another pregnancy announcement on Facebook, or hear a mom complaining about her kids loudly, or walk by the parents at church mooning over their new baby it cuts to the heart. A little piece of us dies even as we praise God for your health and happiness. So please keep these things in mind:
1. Don’t surprise us, take us aside and let us know you’re pregnant. Invite us to your baby shower but understand if we decline. Give us time to process your news and don’t take it personally if our smiles don’t quite make it to our eyes. Trust me. We love you. We are happy for you. But the green eyed monster is a very real thing and some day it takes a little longer to fight down than other days.
2. Listen to us. And I mean really listen. Sometimes we just need a shoulder to cry on or a sympathetic ear. We’re not asking for advice or for you to fix things. Just be a friend and let us vent if we need to, or just sit quietly with us as we process or grieve so that we don’t have to do it alone.
3. Don’t treat us different. This one is hard, it seems to conflict with #1, but it doesn’t. We love you and want to be involved in your life and your kids lives. Give us that opportunity. Don’t exclude us for fear of hurting us. We know when to say no or what to avoid so please don’t take that decision away from us. We’ll let you know if we would prefer to not be included in something.
4. Just because something worked for your cousins best friends sisters aunt doesn’t mean it will work for us. We appreciate your attempt to give us hope and encouragement, but trust me, we’ve read everything on fertility treatments out there. We have probably heard about or tried just about everything and hearing that relaxing and going on a cruise worked for someone else does not mean it will work for me. If I ask for ideas or stories than feel free to share. But until then please know I love you and appreciate that you want to be helpful, but that’s not the way to do it.

I’ve had a number of years to come to terms with my infertility. I adore being an Auntie and am the proudest Godmama ever, I love kids and enjoy being around them. For me the struggle comes from wondering if I will ever have the title mother. And if I do, will I be any good at it. I struggle with wondering if Dustin will ever resent me if we never have kids, or if I should just give up on this dream and focus on others. I work hard trying to never wish a day away, life is to short to miss out on enjoying the moment. But old habits die hard, and I like to imagine the future, but it’s always a bit hazy. Do I let myself day dream of the four kids running around the homestead or do I keep my expectations and hopes lower?
I have a wonderful life. Amazing fiancé. Beautiful future. But like everyone I struggle. With feelings of inadequacy. With feeling like I am being ungrateful when I wish for children. With feelings that I am giving up when I try and decide the point at which I will (if ever) give up this dream. To all my brothers and sisters out there struggling know that I am here for you, never try and take this journey alone it will swallow you up. To everyone who is on the other side of their infertility journey I am so thankful and happy for you. And to everyone who never even gave thought to infertility I thank you for taking the time to read this and know (given statistics) you do know someone going through this right now.
For some great reading on this topic I’ve really enjoyed <a href="http://Hannah’s Hope: Seeking God’s Heart in the Midst of Infertility, Miscarriage, and Adoption Loss“>Hannah’s Hope by Jennifer Saake and <a href="http://Baby Hunger: Biblical Encouragement for Those Struggling with Infertility“>Baby Hunger by Beth Forbus!

Depriving Kids of Junk Versus Feeding Them It for Convenience


“These days, being a ‘healthy eater’ is to be abnormal. To feed your kids healthy food is to be a mother who is depriving her kids of their childhood. It is convenient to give kids what one is certain they will eat instead of what they should eat.” ~ Wendy of RNK Africa

When I saw this quote, it rang true to me. I can’t tell you how many times I have gotten and still get looks from people when I don’t want my kids eating foods high in sugar and or loaded with chemicals. Sorry folks, I am interested in heath and building my children’s bodies to be strong; I am not interested in feeding them foods that will break it down. I realize that friends and family members may, at times, find this inconvenient as for some reason, food seems to be the universal way of spoiling a child…

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I Don’t Need no Stinkin’ Meal Plan!

I Don't Need No Stinkin' Meal Plan

I don’t meal plan. Which is about the biggest sin in a household that is watching it’s budget. But I struggle there because I hate being told what to do (even by myself) so usually what happens is I get to that day and don’t feel like making whatever I had picked out. So in order to keep our food budget under control I use the stocked pantry method. We have a handful of recipes that we love and I always have those ingredients on hand. They don’t take a long time to make, are always yummy and make enough for dinner and lunches for both of us to take to work! Best of all, they only use one pot or pan to make!
Three of our favorites include Egg Scramble, Veggie Rice, and One Pot Pasta! Even better, they are totally flexible recipes that can be customized to your preferences and on hand ingredients. We eat a flexitarian/locavore diet. That means we are mostly vegetarian in our meals with the occasional meat (mostly a small piece used for flavoring rather than the focus of the meal) and eat fresh, in season, local food as much as possible. We like to be flexible and never put ourselves in one box so these recipes allow for flexibility and you could make them different every single time!

Egg Scramble– This is one of my favorite meals, it’s delicious and works great for making frozen breakfast burritos as well as a yummy leftovers! When I make egg scramble I always use carrots, potatoes and onions as my base. From there I add whatever odds and ends veggies I have on hand and then add the eggs and cheese. If I want to make burritos I let it cool and then spoon it onto flour (or corn whichever is your preference) tortillas. Wrap them up and stick them in the freezer. These are great for a quick, hot breakfast and they are very popular. It’s also really flexible in how much you want to make, if you’re cooking for one it’s easy to make a little, cooking for a whole family not hard to expand the recipe at all. When I make it for me and Dustin I plan for a large helping for our meal and then enough for both of us to take for lunch.

4 medium russet potatoes (more if you’re using red skins, or small new potatoes)
4-5 carrots (depending on size and I love carrots so I always go with a lot)
½ of one large onion (or just one smaller onion)
5-6 eggs scrambled
½ cup of shredded cheese (I use Colby jack, but anything works)

Peel the potatoes and carrots, dice them up I usually go with ¼ inch cubes for the potatoes the larger the pieces the longer it takes to cook. Heat up your skillet and add a dash of olive oil. Dump the veggies into your hot skillet, add seasoning. I like just pepper and salt and garlic. If I have fresh garlic cloves I will add that otherwise just minced garlic. Sautee until potatoes and carrots are soft. At this point I will add whatever other veggies I have on hand, usually peppers, broccoli is amazing, the sky is the limit. Once the vegetables are cooked through I add the eggs and cheese and stir until the eggs are cooked through. Voila. You’re done. Seriously, that’s it. Enjoy. If you want, you can also add additional protein by sautéing ground sausage or protein crumbles first and then adding the veggies.

Veggie Rice

This is another one that is super easy to expand upon the amounts you are making as well as being able to add meat if you want. When we are feeling like chicken I love using this recipe and dicing up a chicken breast (see that’s more than enough meat for us again for 4 meals) really small and sautéing it in your hot skillet before adding the vegetables. I have an impossible time trying to make rice in anything but my skillet it always clumps and either is over cooked or under cooked. But when I make this recipe it works every time. The base I use for this recipe is carrots, onion, and frozen peas. But again I will throw in anything I have on hand!

3-4 carrots, peels and finely diced
½ of one large onion (or one small onion) finely diced
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen corn
12 oz of broth (I love Meijer Naturals vegetable broth, but chicken or beef broth works as well, or in a pinch water)
24 oz of water (I refill the broth can twice, if you’re using just plain water do 36 oz of water total)
2 -2 ½ cups of rice (white or brown, whatever you have on hand)

Start with the carrots and onion (or finely diced meat if that’s your preference) and sauté on medium high with olive oil, salt and pepper and garlic until the onion is translucent and the carrots have softened. If you are using other fresh vegetables add them at this point. Peppers are really good, if you are adding broccoli again save that for last. Overcooked broccoli is criminal. Add the broth and water and let it come to a boil. Once it’s at a boil add the rice and stir well. Keep an eye on it because you don’t want the rice to burn to the bottom of the pan so stir often. I will usually put the lid on the pan at this point to make sure the rice gets thoroughly cooked, add more water if necessary. Once the liquid is soaked into the rice add your frozen veggies (and broccoli if using) stir them in and turn off the stove. Let the mixture sit with the lid on for about 5 minutes. Enjoy! This is another recipe that tastes amazing the next day for lunch and is super customizable. Start to finish it usually takes me about 30-40 minutes.

One Pot Pasta

This was a recipe born completely out of poverty. I literally had only pasta and stewed tomatoes in the house and no money to go shopping. So I figured it out. Since then I’ve added to it because I can but it is just fine with even those two ingredients!

1-2 carrots peeled and diced finely
½ onion diced finely
1 can diced stewed tomatoes
2 cups water (broth works nicely to thicken up the sauce if you prefer)
Spaghetti (or whatever pasta you prefer, I’ve even done it with tortellini before)

Sautee your carrots and onion until soft, add whatever other veggies you have on hand or want. And again if you want to have meat you would do that at this time. Finely diced chicken works really well for this, or shredded chicken. But I think it’s yummy without. Add your stewed tomatoes and liquid let it come to a boil and then add your pasta. Stir occasionally until the pasta is cooked. That’s it, your done! Seriously delicious and healthy this pasta will have a nice light ‘sauce’ and it warms up really nicely for lunch the next day.

These three meals make up a good staple of our diet, we have at least one of them a week. They are quick and easy, customizable so we never get bored, healthy and inexpensive. You can make them as spicy or mild as you want by adding additional spices or sauces, Dustin likes to add soy sauce to the rice and call it stir fry. I’m pretty boring (and have very active taste buds) so I like to keep it simple. But that’s the beauty, you can do whatever you want to make these meals as elaborate or as simple as you want! Plus, other than the knife and cutting board the only dishes you have to clean up is the pot you cooked it all in! I love that since we don’t have a dishwasher. I use a sturdy 12 in pan for the scramble and rice and a Dutch oven, a deeper pot with a lid but not as deep as a soup pot, for the pasta and they work really nicely.

Engagement on the Homestead

I’m engaged!


Promised to marry.


Look at us all cute and unknowning 😉

I do love the sound of that! Dustin and I are so lucky to have found each other, the irony is we were in the periphery of each others lives for a very long time! We went to the same high school, had friends in common, he worked at my favorite book store, even months before we met we were at the same concert! We keep finding more and more places, times and people we had in common. It’s amazing that it took us 11 years to meet, but it does make for great fun to think about what might have been. We actually finally met through an app that Facebook recommended to both of us and clicked instantly. We talked for a couple weeks and I was hooked, couldn’t get the stupid goofy grin off my face anytime I saw a message from him pop up. Intelligent, funny, goofy, and our conversations ranged from past experiences to dreams for the future to frustrations of the day. Nothing was sacred, nothing was awkward, nothing was missing. 


The start of the long walk!

I’ll never forget our first date for as long as I can live. I was out with a friend and he was spending time with his brother, from what I understand the goofy grin wasn’t just something I got when we chatted and Dustin’s brother talked him into asking me to join them for dinner. We’re both fairly shy and introverted so this was a big deal. ‘Be brave, come to dinner’ most exciting and terrifying text I have ever gotten. My heart was pounding the whole drive to his apartment. But the first moment we laid eyes on each other, forget sparks for us there was lightening. From the very first hug I was hooked. Best. First. Date. EVER!


I could walk hand and hand with him forever!

From that point on there was no going back. I had fought the idea of getting into a relationship. For me, a relationship means you see a future and intend to work for that, otherwise what’s the point. And I was scared. I had only been in two relationships up to that point and neither had ended well. I had been burnt and not a big fan of the flame. But Dustin was different. He listened, not only to what I was saying, but to what I wasn’t saying. I will never forget the day I truly fell in love with him. In fact I know the exact day and time it happened. 9/5/2013 at 11:52pm. How do I know how that happened?

“I am not perfect. I WILL piss you off. I will infuriate you. I will make you question “us”. Why? Because I’m dumb and do stupid shit. But know that when I say I Love You, it will be true. I will not lie to you. I will not deceive you. So use me as your control. You are afraid that I will break your heart because I am false? Wait and watch me. Learn from my actions and words that I wish you no harm. Will I fail you at times? Yes! I am human, and by design I am flawed. But I will not rip your hopes or dreams. I will not tear down what you love and cherish and trod on it. I am not the perfect man, I’m not even perfect for you. But nobody really is. We will clash, we will fight. But I will never give up on you if you don’t give up on me. This I promise.” 

What can I say, my man has a way with words. Who could resist that? I was sunk. Completely and utterly sunk. Fast forward to last night! Dustin has been teasing me for a couple weeks that he would ask before my birthday (September 21st by the way), I’ve been counting down and he has delighted in getting me to think it would be then. We had planned to go to his brother’s marriage vows renewal ceremony in Grand Haven for months so I thought nothing of it when we were getting ready to head up there. We got dressed up (no small thing for me) and they picked us up, traffic in Grand Haven can be a bit….intense.

one knee

Down on one knee and everything. What a man!

So we wanted to have plenty of time to get there (so I thought). We found parking and got to enjoy some time people watching and checking out the sidewalk sales. Other than the high heels it was fantastically fun. We checked out the deals and found a great bench to sit and watch the people go by, a favorite past time for us. Then, the guys maneuvered us to walk down to the pier. Dustin’s brother had his camera and wanted to get a few pictures of the lighthouse. So shoes came off and we headed out that way. Any time I get to spend walking hand in hand with Dustin is time well spent. We still have no problem talking for hours. Yesterday was no different! We checked out the pretty boats, dreamed of sailing away some time, talked about work, and dreams and goals and all the other things we enjoy talking about.

tearing up

I seriously got teared up

By the time we made it to the start of the pier my feet were done! Dustin and his brother wanted to walk to the end, his sister in law was going to sit and wait. My feet voted wait! The look on Dustin’s face, and his “get your butt out here” order certainly raised my suspicions! But I enjoyed the walk anyways, it’s beautiful out there and the weather was perfect and the company was divine. We got to the end and I figured that’s where he would do it….We looked around a bit, his brother took some pictures….then they headed back. WTH?! I was so confused. So I plopped down and demanded a break!! We sat there and enjoyed the breeze, Dustin was fidgeting, which isn’t all that unusual so I didn’t think anything of it. Then he got up, and got even more fidgety. It was adorable.


Kissy kissy

He pulled me up with him and then I knew what was happening and even though I had been expecting it I was speechless. He got down on one knee and asked me the most romantic question ever… to which I got teared up and put him out of his misery ;-). The other people on the pier cheered and we hugged and I was literally swept off my feet and spun in a circle. It was just like a movie. Seriously. Amazing. 


What a great shot! Thanks Josh!!

We walked back and I was still confused as to why we weren’t heading to the event..turns out it was a ruse! They had decided not to do it and no one told me!! We went to dinner, watched the musical fountain and I was walking on the clouds. Well my feet were damn sore, but otherwise ecstatically happy. 🙂 Best day ever. So glad we got to share it with our friends, had a perfect day and I will certainly never forget it!! Now to plan the very best homestead, casual, relaxed, fun wedding ever! 


Engaged. Happy. Lovely.