AIP, recipes, Uncategorized

Bacon Balsamic Brussel Sprouts

Bacon Balsamic Brussel Sprouts


1 pound of brussel sprouts
4 slices of nitrate free bacon
2 T GF balsamic vinegar
pink sea salt


Cut the bacon up into small pieces before cooking. To prepare the brussel sprouts, cut the stems off and cut each sprout in half.  Do not skip cutting the sprouts in half. Dispose of the stems in your compost pile or garbage. Pat the brussel sprout pieces dry so the grease won’t splatter later.

Cook the bacon until it is crispy. Remove from skillet and and let drain on a towel. Leave the grease in the skillet.

Put the brussel sprouts in the skillet with the bacon grease and cook until they are soft or you can pierce them with a fork. I like mine charred, obviously, so I cook mine for quite a while.

Once the brussel sprouts are done, drizzle the balsamic vinegar over them and heat until warm. Add the bacon back in just before serving so that you preserve the crispiness of the bacon. Sprinkle the sea salt over the top to taste.


This keeps in the fridge for a few days, but your bacon will not stay crispy. This recipe is also really forgiving. You can use more or less bacon. You can add more vinegar or omit it all together if you don’t like it.


**Another alternative is to pour balsamic vinegar (1/2 cup or so) into a sauce pan and let it reduce. Then, drizzle the reduced vinegar over the top.**




Garden Progress

Happy Monday!! The kids are still recovering from what I think was the flu. I didn’t have them tested, so I can’t say that for certain. We are finally 24 hours fever free with Addi. Harper and Chloe both went nearly 2 days without a fever before it spiked a second time, so I’m hanging on for that.

We all stayed home from church again yesterday in order to not spread anything to anyone. We did get wild and put the kids in the car to get them McDonald’s to eat in their seats and went through the car wash. I think it gave them a big boost just to get out of the house, even if it was only in the van.

The weather was nice, so Scott and I got to work in the yard. Scott built the swing set and mowed. We put up the fencing to keep Rocci away from where the garden will go. Harper loved helping with this part.

You can see what we are working with here. If you are thinking “yikes!” I am right there with you. For some reason, they “landscaped” the outer edge of the fence with tiny rocks. Once the rocks are cleaned up, we will transplant some of the grass to big holes in another part of the yard.

There is a small bed where the pavers and wood are piled for now. We are going to plant flowers in that area. Then, we will do rows of veggies and herbs that run perpendicular to the fence. I would really love to grow raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries also, but they may be on hold. We also need to get a couple more posts to reinforce the fencing. We were trying to get a rough idea of the layout.

The tiny rocks are also along the side of the house and under the deck. The rain has washed them all over the yard since they weren’t held in place by anything. Chloe and I spent a lot of time picking up rocks. I told her that she could have a penny for every rock she got in a bucket. (I gave her $5 at the end of the day. she was so proud.)


We picked up so many rocks, and it feels like we haven’t even made a dent. I raked up a lot of them along the outside edge of the yard. We still need to put up some more “critter fence” around the fence line to keep the bunnies out. and block off under the deck.

Harper was thrilled to find the flowers that were in the back yard. Her little nose was yellow by the time she was done sniffing them.


The seeds that I started last week are doing really great. I love seeing the growth that happens each day. I am amazed at the miracles of a tiny seed growing into something great. I also have an herb garden growing on the deck.


The chives grew back from last year; I had no clue that there were perennial herbs! There are green onions, mint, and basil growing also. It is such a great feeling to go out and snip off what I need for recipes. I love all of the green. Spring is so amazing to watch everything come back to life after a long sleep.

This all was the perfect way to spend Earth Day.
*If you are wondering why Addi isn’t in any pictures, she was still really drained and lacking energy. She spent most of the weekend laying on the couch. She isn’t unloved. 😉



Earth Day Fun


Earth Day is this Sunday. I know that it’s typically a holiday that gets overlooked. I like to make it a little bit special. I want to teach my girls to care for the planet that God has given us.

So far this week, everyone is sick. Addi was holding strong, but she is the sickest one today. If everyone is well, we will be going to a local conservation center for their Earth Day celebration. They are going to clean up the river, do tours, wagon rides, ponies, and canoeing. I will be so sad if everyone is still sick and we have to miss out.

If we are stuck at home, I think I will pick up some bird seed. We can make toilet paper roll bird feeders.

Some other fun activities we may try are:

Recycled paper.

Plant seed paper

Earth Day lap books

Earth sign

Earth paper plate


Probably the most exciting thing we plan to do this weekend is set up our garden space. We have to put up fencing to keep Rocci away from the garden. I picked up the supplies yesterday, so we can block off the space and start working the soil. Right now, I’m so run down from the stress of taking care of sick kids and all of the laundry and cleaning. I just want to lay in bed all weekend. ha!


Here are some links to other “Earth Day” posts:

Sustainable kitchen

Sustainable baby/toddler

Earth Day Favorite Things

Janssen’s favorite Earth Day Picture Books




April Showers

Mid- April always feels a little heavy.

During my Senior year of high school, a mutual friend of my younger sister and I passed away. A freak car accident, and she was gone from this world forever. What do you do with that as a teenager? I clung to my sister and those I loved. I cried buckets of tears. Scott got in his car and drove home from college to spend the weekend with me. Admittedly, Kaitlin was a closer friend of Amanda’s. I loved her, too. It was hard not to. Amanda’s grief was much heavier than mine. I know that.

I always made it a point to call my sister on April 17th each year. Except this year. I was dealing with very sick kids, and the day got away from me. We talked today.

I don’t remember the last thing I said to Kaitlin. It was probably something silly about squirrels. Myspace was a big deal back in 2006. I do remember the last thing she posted on Myspace. I copied it the way she typed it and saved it, because it was so profound.

Always tell someone how you feel.mean what you say and say what you mean even when its hard ’cause opportunities are lost in a blink of an eye and the regrets can last a lifetime

How true those words are. Life is nothing more than a vapor.

This morning, I was awakened early by crying and coughing kids. Once they got settled back down, I jumped on the computer. I saw the news that a friend of mine was tragically killed in a car accident. A senseless car accident. Some selfish person hit a pedestrian in a parking lot, fled, and slammed into her car. In the blink of an eye, a young mother and wife was taken. She has two young children at home and a husband that are grieving. I cannot even imagine. I sat and cried. I just keep hoping that she will say “IT WASN’T ME! I’m safe!”

Life is so short. You don’t know when your life is going to be over. It doesn’t matter your age. A 17 year old high school student, a 31 year old mom, or my 80 year old father-in-law. It. Does. Not. Matter. Live every day like it could  be your last. Hug people tight and a little longer. Love them. Pray for them. Pray with them. If you don’t know Jesus, get to know Him before it’s too late. Don’t let yourself have any regrets.

Please keep her family in your prayers.


garden, home, natural living, Uncategorized

Gardening Gear


Garden Gear

\\ harvesting basket \\ watering can | tools and bag // boots // hat // kneeler //

\\ gloves | gnome light //


This is the less practical side of gardening. Obviously you need seeds or starter plants, soil, shovels, and other obvious things. I figured I’d put together some of the things that I have purchased, or have on my wishlist, for our garden this year.

The basket is front and center because I am believing that the garden will be successful. I’ll need something to carry the “fruits” of my labor in. I love these fair trade baskets. A hat is a must so that you can protect your face and neck from the sun! Ankle rain boots are great. You can keep your feet dry without your legs sweating to death. A garden gnome is obviously needed; especially when it doubles as a light. haha!!

I am not a gardening pro, so I am certain there are more important things that should go on this list. Let me know what you’d add!!

Happy Spr-inter!




Savoring Saturday

Winter has wintered again.. I am not bitter.

Harper got sicker and was up most of Friday night with the worst croup she has ever had. I was actually terrified this time. Saturday morning, after sleeping until 11 (!!!!) Scott told me to go somewhere and have a quiet day.

Guess where I went?

If you guessed Target, you’d be right. Their new Opal House line is amazing. I want it all. It reminds me of the cool vibe that Anthropologie has, but at a price point within my frame of affordability. I bought a towel and napkin basket. I’ve been wanting a basket for my napkins because we use cloth 95% of the time, and it’s hard to fit them into a standard napkin holder. They are harder to find than I expected. I really want this mug also.

I went to Panera for lunch. It was my last day before starting to eat AIP. So, I made sure I’d feel really miserable to start off. I did get a superfruit smoothie, so that counts for something, right? Probably not. I am obsessed with their broccoli cheddar soup and bread bowls. I got the baguette to take home for Scott.

I also found this gem at a garage sale. I love these vintage dishes. I am always on the hunt for pyrex bowls. This is Coringware, but I still really love it.

Harper ended up getting worse, so I took her to urgent care. She has an ear infection and strep throat on top of her croup. This poor girl. She fell asleep on the couch with her shoes on when we got home. We could barely wake her up enough to take her antibiotic.

We all stayed home on Sunday to prevent spreading the illness any more. We took it slow. I got my seeds started inside and prepped some meals for myself for the week. I laid on the couch with Scott while we binge watched a show we like. The girls had their Kindles (on sale!) for longer than our usual time limit. No regrets. Sometimes it’s good to slow down, especially after a busy week that kept us running.

The next couple of weeks are going to be physically rough as my body detoxes from all of the garbage. I’m still drinking coffee right now. Honestly, there is no way that I’d give that up with sick kids in the house. I’m using a paleo creamer, so that counts for something.


I hope that  wherever you are, it is NOT STINKING SNOWING. Stay warm, friends.



Spring Springing Again

Spring came back yesterday. Winter will probably storm her moody self back in soon. For now, we are soaking up as much sunshine as we can.

It was almost 80 degrees! We love hanging out on the deck during meal times when it’s nice out. The only tricky part is making sure the breeze doesn’t catch your plate and send it flying.


I told the girls that once we finished school work, we would go for a walk. We were leaving to take Scott’s mom out to dinner as soon as he got home from work, so where we went was dependent upon how much time school took. It ended up taking long enough that the park wasn’t a good option. We loaded up and walked to Family Video instead. It was beautiful outside. I love that they have free kids rentals, so each of the girls got to pick their own movie.

I was thinking how silly it was to get movies when the weather is perfect. It ended up working out because Harper spiked a fever and is miserable today. It’s supposed to storm tomorrow. So, we were ahead of the game.

I will take every spring day that we can get. My mood instantly improves when I open the windows and feel the breeze.

In Michigan, it was normal for Winter to hang around until May. This isn’t typical for Illinois.  Is it Spring where you live?



Health Update and AIP Prep

Yesterday was THE doctor’s appointment. I have researched and learned over the last three years about my thyroid and what could be the cause of my problems. I was ready for my appointment. I was prepared for a doctor with no personality, because I was warned about that by everyone who knows him. I wasn’t prepared for a rude doctor that was unwilling to listen.

He walked in assuming that I only cared that my neck looks fat, just like every other male doctor has done. He mocked me because my blood work is fine, and obviously my thyroid is not the problem. I asked him about the possibility of Hashimoto’s, and he said he would do an ultrasound and know immediately if that was it or not. He slapped it down on my neck in one spot and said that the previous radiologist was incorrect in their findings and mine was just fine- only a few little spots. He told me I didn’t need to see him again and to bark up another tree as to why I don’t feel well. So, big help. Big jerk. I’m glad we spent money to see him for 3 minutes.

I don’t trust his conclusion from the ultrasound considering I have had two in depth ultrasounds, and both drew the same conclusions. He put it in one location and declared they were wrong. The only reason I started “barking up” the thyroid tree is because I was told my thyroid was chronically diseased. Maybe it’s not my thyroid. Maybe something else is wrong that is unrelated to my thyroid. But, something IS wrong. It is NOT normal for someone my age to feel so lousy and have hormones so messed up that menopause is near. I refuse to accept that. I know that autoimmune diseases can cause your hormones to get out of whack, so it could be something farther down that path. I don’t know the answers. I do know that I’m not going to give up on feeling well.

I am going to continue with my plan of starting the Autoimmune Protocol next week. I know that I will feel better once I get going. I’ve been preparing by purchasing a lot of the items that get used frequently. Some of those are:

coconut flour
coconut butter (coconut manna)
coconut aminos
coconut milk
Wild Planet tuna  (for easy meals)
Flaked Coconut
Coconut chips (snack)
AIP “ketchup”


I’ve also been planning what I will eat for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner along with snacks in between. Snacks are NECESSARY when eating this way, or you will starve. Prep work is necessary in order to succeed. If you wake up without a game plan or food prepped, you WILL fail. I learned that the last time I did this diet. This cookbook has two four week meal plans if you want to make it extra easy on yourself.

It is NOT easy. It requires a lot of work and patience. It requires working through a two week detox period where you feel MISERABLE from going off of sugar and all of the garbage that your body has become addicted to. It requires being an adventurous eater and being willing to try new things.


My 30th birthday is next month; only 29 days away! (What?!) I am thinking that this Raspberry Coconut “Cheesecake” is what I will be eating. Yum!


If you are searching for answers. Don’t give up. Not every doctor will LISTEN, so find one that does. Find a support system that will cheer you on. I’m cheering you on.



Wedding Weekend

Goodness, this was a full weekend. Family and friends filled the weekend, which is glorious. We spent most of Saturday at Scott’s nephew’s wedding. (I think nephew, I honestly cannot keep track! haha!) My incredible mom watched the girls all day so that we could go and enjoy ourselves. I have always had to bring the kids along to weddings. Usually I am keeping the girls occupied solo while Scott officiates the wedding. It was so nice to just go and cry during the sweet parts, eat good food, and dance.

*gasp! A Baptist pastor’s wife was dancing at a wedding*

Look at these wonderful in-laws of mine! I always hear talk of out-laws instead of in-laws. I’m so glad that I never feel that way.


The ladies! This woman raised three boys (a set of twins included) and a husband that was probably more trouble than all three of them combined. She has carried herself with so much grace through all that she has been through. She is incredible, and I’m not sure if I could ever adequately say how much I love her. My new sister-in-law is the best. I am blessed to have so many brothers-in-law that are wonderful, but I was ready for another sister!

This man. I really don’t think I could love him more. I say that, and tomorrow I will love him even more. Life with him just gets better and better. We celebrate 10 years of marriage in June! I’ve been obsessed with him for nearly half of my life!

The wedding was so beautiful, and I am so happy for Brad and Michelle!


This is my dress– I got mine from TJ Maxx for a FRACTION of that cost. Wowza. It is stretchy and the perfect length. These are the shoes I wore. They were also on sale because I am frugal.

homeschool, recommendations

Plum Paper Homeschool Planner Review

plum paper

I am so excited to share this Plum Paper planner with you! These planners are completely customizable! I LOVE that they offer a homeschooling version, as the options are incredibly limited for those of us who homeschool.

Let’s start with the cover. They offer so many options for prints and colors on the front cover- florals, stripes, geometric prints, teacher quotes, etc. The year, name, and school name are all optional. It is free to customize however you want. There are so many different shapes, colors, and fonts to choose from when it comes to the customization. The cover is tear proof, water resistant, and super sturdy.

plum paper 2

You also get to choose what month your 12 month planner will start at. Mine is set up to start in August of this year, since our first day of school is August 13th. I love how colorful everything is!

plum paper 3

This is what the first page of each month looks like. I love that we can set goals for each month, and have all of the important information all together on one page.

plum paper 4plum paper 5

plum paper 6

Each month also has the usual monthly layout. This is great for keeping track of field trips and special activities, along with holidays and school breaks. Then, it’s broken down into weekly planning. We use Abeka homeschool curriclum, and it is easy to write which lesson we will be doing each day. I like to color code things, so I use the girls’ favorite colors for their lesson plan. There is room for 6 subjects each week, along with a place for checklists and notes.

Now, for the homeschool pages:

plum paper 7plum paper 8plum paper 9plum paper 10plum paper 11plum paper 12plum paper 13

Isn’t that beautiful! All for homeschooling families! I added an extra homeschool section to mine for an additional $2, so I have a section for each of the girls. There is also an attendance record page, which is really great for those of you who live in a state where you have to log your hours. I love that this is a planner and grade book in one.

There are also sections for notes and checklists, which you can add more pages to if you’d like for a few extra dollars.

Plum Paper planners are incredible. You can go to their website and see just how many options are available. They also have this planner for teachers, and offer normal planners for those of you who just love to be organized.

If you are wanting to purchase something, leave your e-mail in the comments section (or shoot me an email at and I can send you a 10% discount!












I was given a slight discount in exchange for my honest review. All opinions and photos are my own.