Summer Bucket List- 2018

summer bucket list 2018

(I have a dream of owning a VW van. Now you know.)

  • Berry picking at a local orchard  (We picked apples last fall)
  • Hike at all of the conservation areas in the county
  • Go to the St. Louis Zoo and the St. Louis Science Center
  • Visit Grant’s Farm with grandparents
  • Swim at the lake
  • Attempt a one night camping trip with the kids
  • Putt Putt golf
  • Shedd aquarium
  • Play in the sprinkler as often as possible
  • Kayak on the lake (this one is just for Scott and I; but possibly with the kids later)
  • Paint kindness rocks to hide around town
  • Paddle Boating
  • Farmer’s market



Memorial Day 2018


Scott and I started off our Memorial weekend by going to the cemetery. His dad’s headstone is there now, and his body is at rest in the town he loved so much. When we were entering the cemetery, the road was lined with American flags. Every grave site of a soldier had a flag, some dating back as far as the Civil War. We were able to find the headstone that is there for Scott’s great uncle. He died in a Japanese prison camp in WWII, and as far as we know his body was never recovered.

Never forget.

On Memorial Day, we went to the local memorial to teach the girls what Memorial Day is really about. We live in a great country with many freedoms that others do not get to enjoy. I am so thankful for the men and women who are willing to stand in our defense so that we may continue to enjoy those freedoms. We want our daughters to always remember the price that was paid, and continues to be paid, for our freedom.

That sacrifice allowed us to spend the day with my family; my sister and her family that lives in Minnesota included. We were able to celebrate my Mom’s birthday. We were able to play in the sprinkler in our back yard and take a mile and a half walk.  We were able to go to the church of our choice on Sunday. The price of freedom is great.


Never forget.






AIP, recipes, recommendations, sponsored, Uncategorized

Stove Top Popcorn with Malaysian Palm Oil

Malaysian Palm OIl
I received this product for free from Moms Meet (momsmeet.com) to use and post my honest opinions. Compensation for this post was provided and this page may contain affiliate links.

We have been cooking up stove top popcorn in our house for a couple of years now. I never knew just how simple it was until I finally gave it a try. The one downside is that my family isn’t a big fan of the traditional cooking oil used for this. Enter Malaysian Palm Oil. Have you ever heard of it? This was a new product to me, and I was thrilled to learn about it.

I’ll tell you more about it later. Trust me, it will blow your mind. You know I am all about health and wellness.

Here is the lineup:
3 Tablespoons of Malaysian Palm Oil
1/2 cup of popcorn kernels
salt to taste
1. Pour the oil and popcorn kernels into a deep pan or pot with a lid. Admire the beautiful red palm oil, because it’s such a gorgeous color.
2. Place the pot (or pan) over medium high heat with the lid vented slightly. Lift the pot and shake periodically while it heats and cooks. Listen and watch for the popcorn to pop. It will begin popping vigorously.
3. When the popping slows, remove it from heat. It will continue popping for a little bit, so be cautious. When the popping is stopped, remove the lid and add salt. You can also do fancy spice combinations if that is your thing. My kids and husband like the basics.
Look at how golden that oil is! There is no butter on this popcorn; only Malaysian Palm Oil and a sprinkle of salt. This recipe made plenty for our family, so if you are making it for just yourself, definitely cut the recipe down by 1/3.


Now for some facts about Malaysian Palm Oil!

  • Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil is trans fat free and rich with nutrients- how awesome to have an oil with benefits!
  • Most of the palm oil used in the US is is sustainably grown and produced in Malaysia.
  • Palm oil is non-GMO and ideal for high-temperature cooking.
  • A one-acre palm oil plantation produces 11 times more oil than a one-acre soybean field. SUSTAINABLE.
  • Malaysia is a very progressive, environmentally friendly country. By the end of 2019, the country plans to have 100% of its palm oil certified sustainable.
  • Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil comes in golden and red varieties. Red Palm oil is particularly rich in nutrients, such as vitamin E.
  • Sustainable Malaysian Palm oil IS compliant with the Autoiummune Paleo diet!
  • Malaysian Palm Oil is cholesterol free!


I had to share this nutrition information! This is a great way to work in beta-carotene for those with an allergy to other sources. It is also full of vitamin E, which is great for healthy skin/hair/nails and building up the immune system. It is always best to get your vitamins from natural sources first.

Like I said before, Malaysian Palm Oil is great for high heat cooking– up to 450 degrees. Scott has been brushing it on the grill to keep our food from sticking, and it has been working great! It is so much better than using other grill sprays that are full of chemicals.
Run, don’t walk, to get yourself some Malaysian Palm Oil and enjoy the many health and taste benefits! Let me know if you give it a try! I would love to hear your thoughts.

Favorite AIP Recipes

Favorite AIP recipes

When people hear the restrictions that AIP places on my diet, they tend to cringe. I also hear  “What CAN you eat?” a lot. Real food. There is a lot that you can eat on AIP, especially once you let go of the fact that food is only for  your pleasure. Food is nourishment. That’s it. Most of the recipes are really delicious!! I thought I’d round up my favorites from the interweb for those who are curious, or who are just looking to eat more REAL FOOD. I’ll start with the “desserts”.


Desserts/Breakfast- I don’t eat a lot of sweets, as you are supposed to limit your sugar intake on AIP; even to the point of limiting how much fruit you consume.

Pumpkin Protein Bars — I used this gelatin and these collagen peptides.

AIP/Paleo Banana Bread

Lunches/ Dinners– I make double or triple batches of most of these and freeze the leftovers so I have fast meals to thaw and heat up.

Caribbean Spiced Beef

Chicken Stir-Fry

Bacon Cole Slaw Stir-Fry (This is so simple and reheats deliciously.)

Balsamic Glazed Meatballs

Chicken Zucchini Poppers (omit pepper and cumin)

Prosciutto Meatloaf Muffins with Fig Jam

Beef Fajitas with Mango Salsa

Chicken Burrito Bowls


I have loved ever recipe from The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook. I love that it is divided into sections. There are meal plans laid out for you and shopping lists if you’d like the convenience of that.

I will add to this list as I find more favorites online.








Travel Essentials

It’s road trip season! Whether you are traveling to see family, taking a camping trip, or a day trip to the beach, there are many things that make traveling easier. I’ve rounded up some fun and whimsical items to make your travels easier and more colorful!

Travel Essentials

 travel pillow // There’s nothing worse than falling asleep and waking up with terrible neck pain.

toiletries bag // This one is pretty obvious.

cooler bag // We love packing our own drinks, snacks, and sometimes lunch when we travel. A cooler bag allows you to pack healthy snacks instead of garbage that leaves you feeling yucky. Bonus points if your bag is super cute.

Turkish towel // These dry super fast and are incredibly light weight. Plus, they are cute.

water bottle //Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

Comfy Sandals // Get a sandal that can go from a trail, to the water, and back inside again. Teva’s dry easily and can withstand just about anything.

good book // I loved The Royal We. There are lots of other good “beach reads” out there. As usual, I’m going to direct you to Janssen at Everyday Reading for a good list.

travel planner // For the lover of planning!

Instax mini camera // Put your phone away and enjoy LIFE! Just don’t forget extra film.






That Summer Feeling


Scott was finally off work this weekend. I didn’t travel. It was so wonderful to have a weekend together, and we soaked up every moment.

Friday, we went to run some errands and just enjoy some time together as a family.


The girls had a pretend party at Michael’s. We always stop in and pick up cheap stickers if we are near one. I miss living by all of the craft stores. We also found a sprinkler that I have been wanting to buy on clearance at Target! Woohoo!

Saturday morning, I ran to the grocery store since it is grocery week. I always make one big trip every two weeks to pick up most of what we will need for our meals. Then, run in for bread/milk/eggs when we run out of those… and the things that I forgot to put on the list. Does anyone else do that? If we had a bigger fridge, I would make sure that I had enough milk and eggs to get us all the way through so there would be less impulse purchases from the clearance bins.


I took my BFF from a local coffee shop with me. When I got home, we got out the sprinkler and the girls played in it for a long time.


We spent the rest of the day in the garden. We finished planting carrots and green beans. I also noticed that the cantaloupe that I threw out was growing. I cut into one and it was no good, so I threw it outside. I put some dirt over it and wondered if it would grow. I need to separate the plants that are growing so that I can get more vines. I just have to figure out where I can have my yard taken over more. haha! Most of what we have planted is growing really well, and I can’t wait to see how it goes. I thinned out some of the plants that have grown. That is always the hard part. I hate pulling out a plant as though it doesn’t matter, but I know that they need space to thrive.

Monday is here again. Womp. Womp. But, I did buy some Kodiak pancake mix from Kroger’s Mega Sale. It has 14 grams of protein per serving, which is really amazing for a pancake. (You can make waffles also.) I made some dark chocolate pancakes for the girls, and we have started on a good note.

There are some fun things coming up this week, and this weekend! It’s going to be a good week.



10 Gift Ideas for the College Bound HS Grad

graduation gifts

It is graduation season. My sister told me that I should write a post with graduation gift ideas because she needed some. I have done youth ministry for many years alongside my husband and we have been to a few LOT of graduation parties. Plus, I was a college student.

1. Laundry hamper. If you are really nice, you’ll throw in a roll of quarters.

2. Fan. Most dorm rooms don’t have air conditioning. A fan is much needed.

3. Desk Lamp. Don’t be that guy that keeps the dorm light on while you work late. Also, don’t get an LED lamp. It will disrupt your sleep cycle, and you’ll struggle to fall asleep when you do finally get to crawl into bed at 3 in the morning.

4. Amazon Gift Card. Text books can be purchased on Amazon for a much cheaper price than in bookstores. Everything can be purchased on Amazon!

5. Planner. Write your assignments down.

6. Desk Organizer. Any organization tools would be handy.

7. Coffee Maker. My mom got one very similar to this for me. I loved being able to brew a quick cup of coffee before running out the door to class.

8. Everybody Always. College brings difficult people and discouragement. That is just a fact. Every human needs to read this book.

9. Stainless Steel Water Bottle. (15% off with this link!)Hydrate with super cold water. You are more likely to carry water with you if you have a fun water bottle that you love. Don’t add more plastic waste when it’s not necessary. Plus, these keep coffee hot for a long time, too.

10. Shower Caddy and bath products. Self care becomes the last priority in college. Remind them to take care of themselves, too.


Honorable mention: Scott also gave me a great idea. His aunt knew which colleges he and his brother were going to be attending. She bought some college gear for them as their graduation present. It was fun for them to represent their college through the summer.

Let me know if you have any other good ideas!




Friday Favorites


Goodness, this week has been long. I feel squashed creatively. Hence the more silent blog. Today has already been greatly frustrating and stressful, so I decided to sit down and write about some of my favorite things.

~Brandless– I have ordered several times from Brandless, and I am a huge fan. I would list everything I have ordered from them, but it would be a LONG list. I love that everything is organic and non-GMO. Every item is only $3; some items like canned goods are 3 for $3. Their kitchen towels are HUGE. The potholders are such great quality. The wooden spoons are also amazing. I love the food. If you sign up through this link you will get $6 to spend! You have to add the maple ginger soap. It smells SO good.

~ This swimsuit. Fashion bloggers have been recommending it for a few years now. It comes in LONG sizes, which is a tall girl’s dream come true! I hate shopping for a one piece. Everything tends to fall out with regular sizing. It is on sale for only $17.98, so run! I just need to find a cute and cheap coverup.

~Opalhouse at Target. I may have shared this already. I love everything at Anthropologie, but can’t afford those price tags. Opalhouse has the cool eclectic vibe that Anthro has without the painful price tag. There are so many fun colors and patterns. I am personally tired of seeing everyone’s houses look the same. White, institutional homes do not speak to me the way they do everyone else, I guess. I want cozy.

~Tubby Todd. I am a huge Tubby Todd Bath Co. fan. It is all that I use on my girls. Harper and Addison have eczema, and TT keeps it at bay. Plus, it smells amazing. They branched out and launched a Mama line that I also love. #obsessed Andrea just wrote a book called You’ve Got This, Mama. It is beautifully done. I am excited to dig in deeper.

~Elephant and Piggie. These books are SO FUN.  I love reading them. The girls crack up laughing while I read them, which makes me laugh more. They really are delightful, and you should definitely check them out! We most recently checked out Are You Ready to Play Outside from the library. We read it so much that Chloe can recite it; she giggles the whole time.

~Paleo Pumpkin Protein Bars. Guilt free deliciousness. I could eat these every day for the rest of my life.

~Our garden. We put all of our seed starts in the ground. So far most of them are doing really well. The cauliflower is questionable, but it was looking pretty sad before we got it in the ground. My sister gave me a raspberry bush start, and I’m so excited for fresh berries!


What are you loving on this Friday?



AIP, family life, story telling, Uncategorized

Thirty and Flirty and Thriving

It’s official. I’m thirty; plus a few days.

My  niece stayed with me for a few days last week. Her family traveled for a funeral, and she stayed behind so that she could do show choir try outs. It was so much fun having her here and getting to know her more. Because I was taking her to school, I had our van. Having the vehicle meant that I got to go to Starbucks to get my birthday drink! The angels were singing.


If you are ever wondering what my favorite coffee beverage is, that’s it. An iced caramel macchiato with an extra shot. I ALWAYS get an extra shot of espresso when it is free.

I also woke up with a tiny box next to me. I text Scott asking him if I was supposed to open it, or if he was just being mean and torturing me. ha! He told me to open it.


Let’s just ignore that my skin looks like a desert and my mirror scar keeps getting bigger. He got me a hammered rose gold ring from Little Sycamore— something I’ve wanted for a long time. I love her shop, and Kelsey is just the sweetest person. I’m a huge fan of supporting mom-owned businesses. Werk. He said that he meant to get silver to match my set. I love rose gold right now, and think it is fun to add something different.

Scott made an incredible raspberry “cheesecake’ that is completely AIP compliant. He even decorated it. Seriously, it’s so good! Eating REAL food doesn’t have to be gross. It is from this cookbook, which I highly recommend. Even if you aren’t eating this way, the recipes are all super delicious! He also grilled burgers and hot dogs and made a chocolate cake. It was really nice to spend my birthday celebrating.

I had been begging Scott since last year to just ignore my birthday. Everyone stayed well. Disaster didn’t strike. And, I wasn’t in the hospital, so it was all good.

After a busy week full of appointments and running from point A to B, I’m ready for this week of slow.

I hope that you all had a wonderful weekend. To those of you who are mothers– whatever that may look like for you– I hope that you had the best day possible.





A Look Back on the Twenties

I turn thirty tomorrow. I know that some people really hate that number and dread their thirtieth birthday. Ever since I was 19, I couldn’t wait to turn 30. I can’t really explain why, it’s just an age I looked forward to.

Now that I am one day away, I’m still looking forward to it. My twenties brought some of the greatest blessings, but they were also easily the hardest years. I am feeling optimistic about my thirties.



This is the year that Scott and I got married. We went on our honeymoon to Tennessee, and went back to Springfield, MO to finish college and start our life together. This was the BEST year. We went on a weekend trip to Kansas City around New Year’s. We traveled to different churches candidating and just loving every second together. We went on a lot of long hikes and trips to Branson. It was the best.




Scott accepted a position at a church in Garden City, MI. We moved in the summer and immediately hit the ground running. I taught preschool, Scott did every job imaginable, and we adopted a puppy. I also found out in the middle of 21 that I was pregnant! So exciting.




The year of Chloe! I quit my teaching job and decided to be a stay-at-home mom and raise my family. We had slow mornings and many Target runs together. Scott was still working 7 days a week, so we didn’t do much this year together. I got to enjoy a lot of firsts with Chloe, and it felt blissful. My dad had open heart surgery, and my life changed dramatically. I realized that no matter my age, I needed to take care of myself.




Surprise! Pregnant again! It was a difficult pregnancy. I couldn’t keep anything down for over half of it. I had placenta previa and a slight thyroid cancer scare. We took a trip to Myrtle Beach, SC with Scott’s dad and had a blast! My dad had a stroke, and we went to see him in the hospital. It was the greatest surprise I’ve ever pulled off. Also, a job shift. We trusted that God was going to open a door just in time. He did, a month and a half before Addison was born. We packed up and moved to Burton, MI to serve at an amazing church. Moving while 8 months pregnant is not fun at all. We were elated though. Scott actually got time at home with us. We got settled in our tiny home.




I started running! I was sick of baby weight. I signed myself up for the Warrior Dash, because I knew I needed a race to scare me into actually training. I ran the race, had my shoe get lost in the mud, and was bruised and tired. But, I finished. A week later, I found out that I was pregnant. I continued running until I felt too sick. Then, at almost 12 weeks, I lost the baby. I was devastated and angry. Once I recovered from the “labor and delivery” that I had at home, I started running again. I used my anger to motivate me. I got in the best shape of my life. I soaked in every moment with a baby and toddler running around the house. Twenty-four wasn’t a cheery age, but it played a huge factor in shaping me.



FIVE YEARS of marriage!!! Scott ran the Warrior Dash with me this year. I kept my shoes on, so I was proud. We took several trips to Port Huron with the girls and built a lot of sand castles. We found out we were pregnant with Harper! Another girl!! We were still serving in ministry in Burton, MI. Life was simple, even with two little ones. We went to the Detroit Zoo, pumpkin patch, and took a trip to Illinois to see our families. I had a seizure two days before my 26th birthday, and got to take my first ambulance ride!




Scott got ordained, and I felt like the most proud wife. Also, Harper is here! After the scariest last ten weeks of a pregnancy, our baby girl arrived safely and peacefully. We got a whole lot more tired, and a whole lot more blessed. A lot of this age was a blur; probably from having three kids 5 and under. Chloe started preschool, and this was the first year of homeschooling for us.




Scott surprised me and took us on a trip to Holland, Michigan to celebrate my birthday. They have a Tulip Festival every year, and it was incredible. I love flowers. I love the beach. This was another age of packing up and moving. Our wonderful church was struggling with the major downturn of the economy in Flint, and they could no longer keep us on staff. It was heart wrenching to say goodbye under such sad circumstances for everyone. We packed up our lives, cried on the road, and arrived in Bartlesville, OK in time for a massive snow storm to hit Michigan. We got settled into our little apartment and dove into a new ministry.




This was the year that I had to hand two of my babies over to doctors for surgery at the same time. No matter if it is a complex surgery or routine, it is hard. My faith in God grew this year. I was homeschooling a kindergartener, doing speech therapy with Harper, and doing ministry. I LOVED winter in Oklahoma. It snowed once. I became a dance mom, and took many trips to the park. We hiked to a small waterfall as a family. We also moved a second time– out of a small apartment into a perfect house.  I think I spent most of this age taking care of sick kids. Moving really took a toll on the immune systems in our house. This was also the age I started using essential oils.




Woof. This has been a hard one. We stepped down from our position at the church in Oklahoma because we KNEW without a doubt that it was no longer where God wanted us. This time, God didn’t open a new ministry door for us right away. We are still in the hallway, but we know it is right. We moved in with my parents for a few months while we got back on our feet after two months without income. Then, we moved for the fourth time in 17 months into a house of “our own”. My father-in-law passed away, and the world flipped upside down. We have been exceptionally blessed through it all. Being close to family has been such a gift. Scott and I got to go away together ALONE for the first time since before having kids. Our marriage is stronger than it’s ever been. I am finding my footing a little more. After so many years being “pastor’s wife” and “mom”, I lost Ashley. This year, I have been able to find her again. To “find yourself” is truly a gift. I am confident that this gift is going to help me jump into my thirties in the best way. I am once again taking control of my health after several years of feeling defeated.

Thirty is going to be great. I just know it.