Saturday, March 30, 2013

Dove soap and southern cooking..

To preface, this post is more of a personal nature.... but I just felt the need to document this morning.

It's funny how our senses work... how certain scents can take you back to a certain time or place.

Once I got up and out of bed this morning, the house was very quiet.  Since we don't have houseguests or children, this isn't necessarily unusual - but for whatever reason it just seemed, well.. extra quiet.

I opened our bedroom door and some unusually warm air hit me, followed by the smell of dove soap.  I instantly transported my mind back to thoughts of my grandmother.  I miss her so very much.

My grandparent's house was like a second home to me my entire life. Their home in Alabama is what I remember most.  We visited a few times a year, every year - like clockwork.  I loved it there. 

One of my memories of their home is it's very distinctive scent.  Warm, southern air, dove soap, and amazing southern cooking all rolled into one comforting, loving essence. 

To this day, we still use Dove soap, just like my grandmother did.... and I believe we always will.

Friday, March 29, 2013

The $5 Savings Plan

In this lifestyle overhaul, another goal is to be a better saver.

Like a lot of young married couples these days, we started our marriage in debt.  Not because we went overboard on our wedding, or honeymoon, or even our home.  Our wedding was simple, but to me it was darn near perfect - it didn't really matter that we had a small budget.  I made my favors (with the help of my awesome bridesmaids too, of course), didn't use real flowers, and even printed our own invitations (which I bought with coupons!).  What mattered is that I actually got to marry the absolute greatest guy I've ever met.  Heck, I just wanted him to get down the aisle and say "I Do" before he could change his mind. ;-)

About a year before we started dating, Paul purchased a foreclosed fixer-upper that he'd been diligently working on until the day we got married and I moved in.  He had saved up money for quite some time to buy what is now our home, and slowly fixed it up one paycheck at a time.  He didn't go into credit card debt, which still kind of amazes me.  He is really wise with his money.

Enter me..... wise with money? Well, not so much.  I didn't have a *ton* of debt coming in, but I did bring some with me.  I feel bad for the fights I used to cause because I wanted things we just couldn't afford.  I wanted to nest, set up house - and to me, that meant new furniture, new decorations, new carpet... but we just didn't have the cash.  I wanted my home to look like so many of our friend's homes.  But my Paully just held strong.  He kept on me and reminded me we had debt to pay off, so I finally conceded.

Then we found our church home.  One of the first sermons we heard was on tithing - a challenge issued by our Pastor to begin tithing and watch God work.  We had always given to church, but it was sporadic.  We weren't dedicated to giving at least 10% steadily back to the Lord.  So, we prayed about it, accepted his challenge and began giving back to the Lord.  After all, it's His money, can't He have some of it back?

I'll be honest - the first couple months were tough.  It was hard to write that check, thinking how I could use it for groceries, or save it for furniture, or.... something.  But what good is giving if I'm not doing it cheerfully?  I sucked it up and continued anyway, praying that God would change my attitude.

More than 3 years later, we've kept our promise and are still tithing - and God has kept His promise to us ten-fold.   Both of our attitudes have changed on it as well.  We don't sigh writing the check or even really give it a second thought.  It's what we do, end of story.  We're giving God what is rightfully His. 

We're not rich, far from it... but between the excellent guidance of my husband and our obedience in giving back to God, we rarely argue about money - which is huge.  Our first year, that's one of the only things we ever argued about.  I'm much more careful with how I spend money, and now I'm the one that's socking away money in savings.  We still haven't gotten new furniture.  Yes, I still want it - and we'll get it one day.  The point is that we have furniture - and guess what?  It functions pretty much the exact same way as new furniture would.  It may have slip-covers, and it may be old... but it functions, and that's all we need.

So this post is called the $5 savings plan, right?  Where does that come in?  Right... now!  I was looking for creative ways to save a little more and I discovered the $5 savings plan.  It's so easy it's almost comical.

The $5 savings plan is this:

Any time you come into possession of a $5 dollar bill, you put it in a jar.  (Or jug, or box, or under your mattress... wherever your sweet lil heart desires.)  The point is, anytime you get a $5 bill - you put it away.  That's it.  It's funny how quick those $5 bills can add up.. and will you really notice that $5?  Probably not.  Let's be honest, $5 doesn't really get you much (unless you love that cheap-o fast food - and we're not eating that garbage, right?!) so why not put it away?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Fevers, Aches, and Chills... Oh My.

I'll admit it.... If I've got a fever, I'm a bit of a wuss - I'm in rough shape.  I can handle the sniffles or a stuffy nose.  A sore throat?  No problem - I'm a veteran.  I had strep at least 3 times a year, every year from elementary through my senior year in high school (my mom got lectured every year about my absences... but I was sick that often!) until I finally landed in the hospital on my 18th birthday with a fatal strain of strep and FINALLY had my tonsils removed.  (Yeah, that's a fun story... well, not really.  My poor sister.  She thought it'd be great to fund a trip to Kings Island for her and I as a birthday gift... instead, we spent 3 extra days there in some little podunk-ville hospital near Cincinnati where they didn't even offer her a blanket or a comfy seat... she only got a teeny little stool!)

...but a fever?  Yikes.  And also, that's when it's time to see a doctor.

However, for all those other times with the stuffy nose, sniffles, or sore throats... I like to try natural remedies.  I used to pop ibuprofen like they were breath mints, but now I've realized what damage that can do and changed my ways.  There are so many NATURAL remedies that are not only healthier, but cheaper (and sometimes a lot tastier) too!

So I thought I'd share a few of my favorites.  The first one is a doozy, I'm warning you - it's gross.  Real gross.  But it's the BEST remedy I've found to date. And if you're as desperate as I was the first time I tried it, then you're willing to do just about anything.

When I tried this, I had a wicked cough that I just couldn't kick, no matter what I tried.  After searching the internet, I found a few recipes that called for TURMERIC.  It's an Indian spice that's also a natural antiseptic, so I like to think of it as God's antibiotic. You can find it with the spices in any grocery store.

This is the recipe:

3/4 mug hot water (make sure you're not using a plastic mug - chemicals are leached into your food/drink when you place hot food/liquid in plastic!)
1 Tbsp Turmeric
2 Tbsp lemon juice (organic, fresh-squeezed is best - but do what you can)
Raw honey to taste ( might need a lot.)

Mix it all up in your mug, and drink it as soon as it's cool enough to tolerate.

Drink this mixture 2-3 times per day, and you should notice your symptoms improving - my cough was almost TOTALLY GONE within 3 days. 

If that doesn't sound like something you can stomach, or if for some reason it just doesn't work for you... Here's another great one to try, courtesy of

Then, if you still want another to try - a friend of mine (thanks Amy M!) shared her recipe for homemade cough syrup:

1/4 cup warm water
1 cup honey, 
3 tbsp lemon juice

Hope you're feeling better in no time!

Have a recipe to share that isn't listed here?  Feel free to leave a comment and I will add it! :)

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Dear God - You have my full attention.

Friday scared me to the deepest parts of my soul.

I was driving during morning rush like I typically do.. bumper to bumper traffic on 275N.  It's nothing new.  As most probably know - people drive like way bigger jerks during rush, I don't quite understand it, but I've come to deal with it.

The weather wasn't really bad, just cold and grey.  I was in the left lane, not even going the speed limit since the traffic was so heavy.  I wasn't on my phone, I wasn't daydreaming, I was paying full attention to what I was doing.  In a split second, everything changed.

I noticed the blue sedan to my immediate right was coming - and FAST.  They clearly didn't give the over-the-shoulder blindspot check to make sure the lane was clear... because if they had, they would've seen me.  I had to make a quick reaction - so I swerved to the left shoulder.  After that, all I know is that I was spinning.  And spinning..... and spinning.  I looked out my driver's side window during the spin and saw a semi-truck coming right at me, as I was now sideways in what I think was the middle lane.  All I can remember thinking was literally these words: "Ok - this is it.  This is how it ends." and braced my body to be hit.

..... but I kept going.  and I didn't get hit.  I hit a ditch instead and came to a very hard halt.  I sat there stunned and realized, I went all the way from the left shoulder, to now in the ditch on the RIGHT side of the highway. Four cars pulled over immediately.   They each got out and came running to where I was, asking if I was okay.  All I could do was burst into tears.  Two of them left once they saw I was physically okay.  Two other very kind, thoughtful women waited for me to figure out how to roll my window down and laid their hands on me in comfort.  One was in scrubs - I think she may have said she was a nurse.  I don't remember everything they said, but what I do remember is one says "You must have God in you, girl - that was a miracle."  The woman in scrubs proceeded to tell me what happened.  I did a complete spin, went backwards across the lane, did another spin, and continued backwards into the ditch........... all through heavy traffic. She kept repeating how she thought she was about to watch me die.  Thinking back on it, I think that woman was a little in shock herself. 

I don't even know what I said to those kind ladies.  I don't know if I thanked them, I don't think I did.  I appreciate them, very much - and wish I could tell them that.  At some point I called my husband, I don't really remember doing it.  He was there before I could think straight. I also left a (probably somewhat frantic) voicemail with a friend that I work with, to let him know I wouldn't be there - and I've got no clue what I said on that, either... probably sounded like a lunatic, but I was trembling in fear and shock over what should've been a much more horrific incident.

In hindsight, I figure I hit some gravel and/or ice on the shoulder and just lost control.  I've had to swerve a lot due to careless drivers and never has anything remotely like this happened.

To some, this may not be a big deal.  I figure those are the people that haven't had something like this happen, but maybe not. To me, it terrified me to my core.  I'm still dwelling on it. I'll never forget it as long as I live. There is no question in my mind.... the only reason I made it through is because God guided my car and the other drivers on the road to avoid me.  There is no rational explanation for that to happen.  That semi was feet away from my car - and they don't stop or slow down easily....  Not to mention all the other cars on the road as well.

I am so incredibly grateful that this is such a 'minor' story.  I didn't hurt anyone, or myself - or even my car.  It was stuck in the snowy ditch pretty good, despite both Paul & I's efforts to get it out.... but that was it.  We called a tow, and after about an hour and a half wait, it arrived to pull the car out.  It took some time, but he got it out... and upon inspection - not a scratch, dent, anything.  Amazing.

As cliche as it sounds, things really do change in the blink of an eye. 

The point?  Perhaps God needed my attention, or needed to show me what really matters in life. Lately, I've been dwelling on such relatively minute things.  How quickly it gets put into perspective.  Whatever the case, I know there's a reason it happened - and I'm glad for it.  I obviously needed it.  I'm glad I came out unscathed on the other side, because I understand.... there is a purpose for my being here, because I'm still here....  and I know I shouldn't be.

God, I'm ashamed to say you didn't have it before, but now You have my full attention.  Please use me as you see fit.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Ready.... Set.... GO.

I'm not proud of letting it get like this.  I don't want to feel much older than I am.  I don't want to feel held back. I don't want to sit back and let life pass me by.

What do I want?

I want a lot of things. I want to tell God when I meet Him one day that I was a good steward with what He gave me.  I want to sleep naturally, and completely through the night.  I want to have more energy.  I want to feel *good*. I want to lose weight.  I want to like what I see in the mirror.  I want to be confident that I am treating this body, mind and soul with the care and respect it deserves.  I want confidence.

So that's it where it starts.  The decision to change.  Seems so simple, yet it took me so long to get here.  I could sit here all day with shoulda-coulda-woulda's... but I won't.  The point is that I'm making changes.  And not temporary ones, either.  This is a total lifestyle change, and honestly? I'm so excited for it.

We all read the articles floating around out there.   The dangers of high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, genetically modified foods (that includes animals now, too), plastic-like compounds that are used as 'filler' for so many foods.... the list goes on...and on... and on.   They're true.   It's no wonder so many of us are severely overweight, cancer rates are at an all-time high, and more and more people have a laundry list of health problems (which typically includes a laundry list of medications).

We have all this crazy crap in our foods, in our cleaners, in our medicines, in hygiene products.... but so many sit by and do nothing.  I was one of them, too.  The last couple years I've read so much material on the chaos that is the American Food & Drug industry (and it's quickly invading the rest of the world, too).  But I took the attitude that it wasn't worth my time or energy.....there are bigger fish to fry.... we have more important problems...  "I'm not going to be a food nazi."

I'm not a "food nazi" now, either.  And I don't plan to turn into one.  I will, however, be much more mindful of what I'm putting in, on and around my body.  My body was given to me by God, as a Holy vessel.... and yet this is how I've treated it all these years?  I owe God an apology.

That being said, I'm also human, and I live in the real world.  It is not my plan to obsess.  I have one life to live, I'm not going to spend every minute obsessing over what food I'm going to eat or what cleaner I'm going to use.  But I am making changes to live a cleaner, healthier life - and so is Paul.

For those who may not know, Paul is my husband.  He's my best friend, confidante, soul mate.  I never thought I would end up with such an amazing life partner.  He's so encouraging and supportive of anything I do.  I couldn't embark on this journey without his support.  Once we sat down and talked about all of this, he couldn't have been more supportive and totally on-board to join me.  He also recognizes the importance of treating our bodies with care, and I am so thankful for that.   When it came time to thinking about starting a blog - he was also an amazing cheerleader, pushing me to follow my heart and keep a log of the journey.

That's why I'm doing this.  I'm not doing this to get on a soap-box and preach at people.   I'm conducting an experiment of sorts, with Paul and I as the test subjects.  And it's not easy to share some of these details.  I'm a relatively private person - so letting the world know these things is not exactly my ideal situation.  But - perhaps there is someone out there in a similar situation as me... knowing there are changes they want to make, but don't know where to start.  I don't know everything.  Heck, I don't know much.  But.. I'm doing it anyway - one day, one step at a time.   Even if no one reads it, I can't wait to look back in a few months, and in a year... to see how far I've come.  I'll make mistakes, I'll hit set-backs.... but this change is a change for life.

And I'd love for you to join me.