Monday, January 22, 2018

Homemade Elderberry Syrup

I first heard about Elderberry Syrup through Beeyoutiful and their Berry Well product. I tried the Berry Well one time but did not love the taste and at another time got a bottle of the Berry Well Spice on a great sale. I loved the spiced version and enjoyed using that bottle.

When I felt like I was coming down with something I'd take a teaspoon or so about three times a day to really attack the symptoms I was feeling and it helped!

All that to say, I'm sort of new to the elderberry syrup game and I really still don't know a whole lot about it but, I do know that it helps!

After trying unsuccessfully to order the Berry Well Spice again {discontinued flavor} I was very interested in learning to make my own.  I received some great advice from Beeyoutiful on how to flavor my syrup and then mentioned to my sister about wanting to make it and she shared a recipe from our mutual friend Katie. She mentioned it was not her original recipe but from a friend and also found on the Mountain Rose Herbs website and in Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health.

What I'll share here is what I do - I have not consulted these other sources to see how this compares.

Homemade Elderberry Syrup
1/2 c. dried elderberries
3 c. water
4 Tbsp. honey
1 drop cinnamon Essential Oil
1 drop clove Essential Oil

Boil the elderberries and water together and after it comes to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer for 30-40 minutes. Strain the liquid into a canning jar and press the berries in the strainer to remove any extra juice. Stir in honey and essential oils.

Store in the refrigerator. Makes about 2 - 2 1/2 cups.

This is great to have on hand in sickness season! Tell me your experience with elderberry syrup!

* Amazon affiliate links above.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Book Winner!

Thanks for all of your comments for the book giveaway! The winner is Melanie in CA! I'm sending you an email! Happy Saturday :)

Friday, January 19, 2018

Simple Weekend Beauty: Quiet Reflections

Since we spent the month of December away from home, I'm still enjoying some Christmas decor around our home! Take some time this weekend to get some quiet reflection time. Pull out a journal, your Bible, a favorite magazine or book and just be still. Light a candle, make a cup of tea and grab a quilt - get cozy!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Glorify: Health Journal

As I mentioned yesterday, I started 2017 feeling very depleted and wanting to make some changes. I was unmotivated, not resting well, unfocused, anxious, angry, low feeling and had a lot of headaches. When we got home from Christmas, I started doing some research on vitamins. I knew I wanted to be more careful about what I was eating but still I thought I needed to do more. And I knew myself well enough to know that I'm historically low in iron and have low blood sugar.

With all of that info, I went to a site I trust which is, I've been using their Tummy Tuneup successfully for years and am a huge believer in it for keeping away tummy bugs! Anyway, they have a lot of great info and articles so I started reading about various vitamins and benefits, etc.

I had already been sporadically taking iron and Beeyoutiful's Super Mom vitamins but I wanted to do more and be more consistent about it.

To do this, I knew I would need a way to keep track of things and also a way to gradually add so that if I had any side effects I'd be able to figure out what had just changed and maybe what didn't work. So I started a health journal. An empty journal I already had became dedicated solely to this purpose. On Sunday afternoon/evening I would write out a list for the week and then use it as my checklist for the week in keeping track. And I would only add one thing per week.

For example, the first week I took a probiotic and Super Mom and breakfast and a second Super Mom at lunch and that was it. The next week I added iron on Tuesday and Thursday only. The third week I added Magnesium twice a week and so on.

The first thing I did was sit down and make a list of all the things I wanted to improve about the way I was taking care of myself. Eat more salads, take Vitamin D, increase walks, try protein powder, etc. Then as I was writing out my weekly checklists, I could refer to this overall goal list and see what I still hoped to add.

I weigh myself every Monday and write that at the top of my week so I can see the progress from the week before. 

While I can't point to one thing in particular that I've felt benefits from, I would say that overall I have noticed how much better I'm feeling. And like most natural-health things, it is such a little bit at a time and over the long haul rather than quick simple results.

For now, this is my most successful weekly plan {shown above} and what I'm restarting with this year as I'd gotten a bit lax about it skipping a couple of months.

Some of the vitamins I take are just from Wal-Mart and some are from Beeyoutiful. My favorites from Beeyoutiful are:

Tummy Tuneup: this is a very easy to take and easy to store probiotic, it is shelf stable so it doesn't have to be kept cold. I've been using this for years and love it! My kids can take it too - when they are too little to swallow the capsule, I simply opened it up and sprinkled it on applesauce or dissolved in water. Cannot recommend this highly enough if you are averse to the stomach bug as I am ;)

Super Mom Vitamins: I tried these years ago and did not love them but gave them a second try and am glad I did. The suggestion is to take four capsules per day and I started with one for a long time and now take two. They are loaded with lots of vitamins but don't include iron which is why I take a separate iron supplement. I order the veg caps because they are smaller and I can't swallow large pills easily!

Other favorites:

Daily probiotic: In addition to Tummy Tuneup {which we use only when we are exposed to a tummy bug} - all of our kids and myself take these tummy gummies daily. This is one of those things I won't be without now - I'm a huge fan, they taste great and I am grateful for the benefits we receive from taking these regularly. My sister just told me there was a Wal-Mart brand now but I haven't tried those yet.

Iron: sometimes iron can be hard to take - but I really like Slow Fe and have had very minimal side effects from taking it. It is a great option for people like me who are historically anemic. I have been using this brand for years.

Other things like Vitamin D, Magnesium, etc. I'm still unsure if brand matters on - like I mentioned earlier some of mine are just from the drug store and some from Beeyoutiful and I'm fine with that for now.

I'd like to learn so much more about vitamins! So far, when I check out a book from the library about vitamins I get very overwhelmed so I've been sticking with things I'm already familiar with or have a personal recommendation on.

Some of these are affiliate links just in case you decide to try something. I'm not a doctor or a medical professional, again, just sharing what has worked for me. I love the journal because it keeps me accountable and gives me a place to log how I felt that week and what worked and what didn't. 

Do you take any vitamins? Or keep a health journal?

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Slow Day

Breathe Prayer Study
Walking Video
Flourless Monster Cookies (why don't mine spread out???)
Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup
Dishcloths for gifts for the missionary women who attend the Missions Conference at our church this Spring.
Peppermint Mrs. Meyers - a sweet gift from a very sweet thoughtful friend!
Making more candles also for the Missions Conference.
Adorable shoes: my Mom bought me these on clearance at Kohl's and they are SO comfy!!!
Foggy pizza date!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Glorify: Tracking Meals

This is a topic I haven't really approached on my blog before - I've kept to myself and quiet because sometimes it seems like when I share something, my commitment to it is challenged in a way that is hard and unexpected.

But with my word of the year and really wanting to be real and honest, I've decided to open the door on it and share what has worked for me. I also want to acknowledge that our health and body is something very personal and very unique and individual. No two of us will likely have the exact same experience and our needs are very different as well.

Almost four years ago {I can still remember the day, I was taking photos for this post} I was feeling really disgusted with myself - I had let myself get pretty lazy and was eating anything I wanted anytime. I'm a comfort eater and stressful days are common. Really my biggest issue was that I wasn't feeling comfortable in my own clothes - they were tight and not fitting right and I was feeling icky about that and wanting to make a change.

I don't remember a lot of the details that got me started, but I knew I didn't want it to be about my weight necessarily. Not a number anyway, I wanted this to be about me feeling better about myself because it was affecting my outlook in many areas of my life. I got serious about logging my meals using My Fitness Pal and trying to add a little more activities to my days.

My Fitness Pal is great because it is FREE and is easy to use either on your laptop or device through the app. It really doesn't take long once you get into the habit of typing in your meals and keeping it up to date. I also like it that I can eat whatever I want really and am making my own choices about what to eat just in manageable portions. A thrifted food scale has been a help in this as well.

The most successful way for me is to plan out my meals the night before - it only takes me 2-3 minutes to type everything in and once I see it in front of me, I can make changes or adjustments and then just eat that plan for the next day. I love it. When I leave it for the day of, I'm not nearly as successful as I'm more likely to eat what I want and hope it works out {usually doesn't!} and it reminds me of something as simple as a grocery budget. When I plan my meals and shop from a list, I'm much more likely to stay on budget than if I go randomly through the store. Same is true with planning out my meals and portions and counting my calories. 

Within a few months, we had this family photo shoot at Christmas time and I remember feeling so good that day. I was so happy! It was cold and I felt so much better about myself and enjoying this time we were having together. And I kept this up for a while and then slowly got lazy again. One year ago, I was in the same place - really wanting to re-start this area of my life.

Last year was really hard and stretching in many ways especially through the Fall - and when I got to my parents house for Christmas, I was exhausted, weepy and just generally depleted in many ways. It was really on my heart to not only re-start logging my meals but also to look into adding vitamins into my life.

Jumping back in was great and in a couple of months I was feeling so much better and by summer - I felt even better and enjoyed the healthy glow that had returned to my heart and life. Like everything, it is not a one-size-fits-all fix it plan and it isn't even easy. But I have found that it has worked for me and it has been a blessing, why do I keep getting lazy and falling off the wagon only to have to start again?!

Here we are in January again and my pants are snug and I'm back to it, it gets easier to start again each time because I've developed some habits that are fairly easy to pick back up again even when I let them fall by the wayside.

Losing a few pounds is great and even better is how it affects my attitude and outlook. When I feel better about myself that shows and gives me confidence and joy. Next time we'll talk about vitamins!

May God be glorified in the sharing of these words and in how we take care of ourselves!

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Ladies of Ivy Cottage: Review and Giveaway!

It's time again for another book review and giveaway courtesy of Bethany House Publishers! Here is the first finished book of the new year and a fun read.

The Ladies of Ivy Cottage is the second book in the Tales from Ivy Hill series by Julie Klassen. I read the first book early last year.

First of all, Julie Klassen is already one of my favorite authors - the first book I ever read of hers was The Tutor's Daughter and I was hooked. I went back and read all of her previous books and have kept up with all of her new releases through the last few years.

The Ladies of Ivy Cottage picks up right where The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill left off. I actually wish I'd read the books closer together because it took me quite some time in this second book to remember details from the first one. I felt sort of lost for a while because I couldn't mentally place each character and their back story until I got farther along into the book.

Ivy Hill is a small and charming English village. This book explores the lives of several ladies living at Ivy Cottage and nearby. There are several story lines going on which keeps it interesting. I especially enjoyed one of the main characters, Rachel, and her idea to make the most of what she has available. In book one, her father left her his book collection and now she isn't sure what to do with it. When friends suggest opening a circulating library - she is at first quite uncertain about the task before her - but she rises to the occasion and discovers a number of things along the way.

This book was an enjoyable read, there are a couple of things left unresolved which makes a good intro to the next book. And we were not left dangling uncomfortably between books!

This book was a lot about friendships and the characters helping one another. I liked that and it felt friendly to read about it. This was a great just-before-bed cozy read!

The author has a website set up just for this series which includes a video tour of an English village that she used as a model for these books. You can see a map of the town, read about characters and read excerpts from both books one and two.

I'd like to send this book to one of you! Please leave a comment on this post by Friday January 19 and I will draw a winner. There must be a way to contact you and US addresses only please.

* Amazon affiliate links above.
* I received this book as part of the Bethany House blog review program in exchange for sharing my opinion with you.