My Nana

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Today is my beautiful grandmothers birthday, so I thought I’d write a bit about her.

My Nana was born in Chile, a country in South America. Her father was in the Chilean Air Force, and her mother was a housewife. My Nana had a hard childhood, and was even in an orphanage for several years. Her father went by himself to the U.S. to find work, and when she was a teenager in the early 1970’s he was able to send for the rest of the family to live with him in Miami, Florida. After a few years of working in restaurants and such, Nana enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and was stationed in Illinois. There she met my Pawpaw, a farm boy from northern Arkansas, who was also in the USAF. They were married in March 1974, and my dad came along in late November of the same year, and she “got out” of the military.

My grandparents lived in many different places, including three years in England (where my dad went to a private English school and acquired a temporary British accent – how cool is that?!), and my Pawpaws last PCS was Tucson, AZ. My Nana, dad, and aunt all came to Jesus when my dad was still a kid, and a couple years later my Pawpaw did also. They began to have real relationships with God, and started attending church

Nana loves Jesus very much, and He has blessed her in so many ways, one of her favorites being her 14 amazing grandchildren (I’m not bragging at all!). Nana has also blessed me countless times. I love talking with her, about anything from bread to the Bible. She encourages me in walking a godly life, and inspires me to stay strong through hard times. I love her so much, and I look forward to many more years with her.

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What are some special things about your grandmother(s)? Leave a comment! 

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10,000 Reasons

I feel incredibly blessed today. God has done some pretty amazing things for our family lately! After living “on the road” for a year now, He’s provided a place for us to settle. And not too far from family either! I’m anticipating the adventures we’ll encounter in a new city, the people we’ll meet, and the church family we’ll have. God is great, and I can’t imagine where I’d be without His constant presence in my life.image image

What are some ways God has blessed you? Leave a comment! 

Chicken Broth

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Ahhh, what a lovely chicken carcass! SAID NO ONE EVER!

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Sorry about the horrid pictures.

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You could be in the very center of the biggest city in the world in your cozy little apartment and still feel like a pioneer gal making this stuff. You’ll feel so happy, knowing you’ve been resourceful and made something remarkably healthy. All you need is three simple ingredients (though I recommend using many more) and a crockpot to make this phenomenon. And another bonus? It’s one of the easiest things to make. You literally throw everything into your crockpot (I’m a messy cook) and forget it for several days. And the end result? A nutrient-rich golden broth to add to all your savory recipes. Amazing, right? Here’s how I do it:

You will need:

  • 1 chicken carcass, with most or all the meat removed
  • Apple Cider Vinegar (Braggs with the Mother is the best)
  • Water

Additional ingredients: halved lemons (with or without juice), onion bits and pieces, celery, carrots, chicken feet, sea salt, cayenne pepper, garlic (cloves or powdered), paprika, marjoram, parsley, pepper, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme, turmeric, and any other things you have on hand.  I love using all of these in my broth!

Directions:

  1. Put chicken carcass in crockpot. Fill the crockpot with water and add a good splash of ACV (vinegar helps to pull out the calcium and other nutrients from the chicken bones).
  2. Add any additional ingredients, cover, and let cook on low for 1-3 days (or longer!).
  3. Once you are ready, turn off crockpot and let the broth cool a little. Strain out the larger bones and such with a colander, and finally into a sieve to filter out any other little bits. Pour into glass jars and store in the fridge (for around a week) or freezer (for several months or longer). Use your broth for soup, rice, stew, and any other savory dish that calls for water. Enjoy!

Note: if you’re planning on freezing your broth, be sure to allow room for expansion in your jars. We’ve wasted many a good broth batch by overfilling the jars and having them break in the freezer! It’s really sad, so don’t forget this tip! 

20 Facts About Me

I love reading blog posts that are just for fun. I love “how-to’s,” recipes, and the like. But sometimes I just want to read something uplifting and overall enjoyable. So I decided to dedicate one portion of my blog to these types of posts. Hopefully they’ll bring a smile to your face, and a little sunshine into your heart!

I’ll start with 20 facts about myself. These are in no particular order.

1. I am the oldest sister in a family of eight kids.

2. I was taught Russian ballet for three years. (Yes, like Natasha Romanoff. No, it wasn’t an evil assassin ballet school.)

3. I am 1/4 Chilean.

4. Cooler weather is my preference.

5. I collect coffee mugs from everywhere.

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6. I accepted Jesus as my Savior when I was 4 years old.

7. I’m an Introvert. I love deep conversations, but I really like quiet time

8. French press coffee is my favorite.

9. I’m an avid Tolkien and Lewis enthusiast (fancy words for: a hugemungous nerd).

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10. Tea can instantly lift my mood.

11. I enjoy watching and critiquing movies and TV shows.

12. Viking braids are my newest hair obsession.

13. I love to write stories, and I’m currently working on writing a series. If you’re lucky I might let you see some of it. 😜

14. Most of my favorite literary characters are hobbits.

15. I’m very picky about music, but I like Johnny Cash, U2, the LOTR and Hobbit soundtracks, Celtic Woman, several Conservative Christian artists, and a few 80’s rock and pop songs.

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16. I’m fascinated with medicinal herbs and healthy living.

17. Reading is one of my favorite hobbies.

18. I love to cook, and I usually make spicy food.

19. I’ve been drawing since I was a baby.

20. I crave chocolate, especially of the darker variety.

What are some interesting facts about you? Are any of these things similar to yourself? Leave a comment! 

Zesty Citrus Cheesecake Bars (THM S)

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Are you craving a delectably tart, buttery treat that’ll satisfy your sweet tooth but not leave you regretting eating it? I have the stuff for you! These cheesecake-like bars take a little effort, but on the whole are pretty simple to make. I got the inspiration from another bloggers recipe, but I modified it to my own personal preferences. This is a Trim Healthy Mama S (for satisfying) but goes really well with vanilla ice cream for those who aren’t on plan, or plan approved whipped cream for those who are. I hope you enjoy these as much as my whole family did!

For the crust:

  • 3/4 cups softened butter
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup THM Baking Blend
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 Tablespoon THM Sweet Blend
  • 1/2 Tablespoon coconut sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice

For the filling:

  • 8 oz softened cream cheese
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons THM Sweet Blend
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut flour
  • 2 Tablespoons THM Baking Blend
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • Zest from one lemon

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375. Line a 9×13 pan with foil and grease with coconut oil. Set aside.
  2. Combine ingredients for crust in a medium bowl. Press out in prepared pan with greased parchment paper. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
  3. While the crust is baking, put all ingredients for the filling in a blender and blend until completely smooth.
  4. Pour filling onto baked crust. Bake for 30 minutes.
  5. Let the bars cool, and then refrigerate for as long as possible. Enjoy!

Note: you can use full THM Sweet Blend instead of coconut sugar. I just really like the flavor. 

Home is Behind, the World is Ahead

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As a (retired) military child, this quote has a lot of meaning. The majority of kids growing up in America might move houses a few times, but more than likely won’t move out of the state, let alone the country! But I have lived in over 10 houses, soon to be 5 states, and two countries. I have visited many of the main 48 states, and road tripped across most of them. I’ve been to many major cities: Washington DC (numerous times), St Louis, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Sacramento, to name a few. Most of my life so far has been spent in the U.S., but I got to experience living in Europe for three years – in Germany! Germany was amazing. It was such a beautiful country, and it had such rich history! One of our favorite places to visit was a city originally built by Romans. It had bath house ruins, and even a colosseum! We were able to visit Paris (yes, PARIS!) and the Austrian Alps. There are some amazing things about military life, but there are some not so great things as well. All military kids have to be constantly prepared to hear that their daddy or mommy is going to be gone from anywhere between a week and two years. During my dads military career he was deployed a total of over 20 months. And I remember every deployment. Counting TDY’s and training, it’s probably closer to 30 months. That’s a long time, and a lot of kids have had it worse. You can imagine how we fume when other people complain that their dad or husband is leaving on a business trip for three days. Or when movies portray kids that are depressed because they switched neighborhoods and schools for the first and only time in their lives. Military kids have to be prepared to get three months notice that they’re moving to Spain. And it’s rough! You leave behind your church, friends, grandparents, cousins, and even your country! You move into a different culture, a different way of life. A sad military truth is that most of us are scared of making close friends. You might end up being like a sister to someone, and then find out you’re moving to the other side of the world. So instead of going through that heartbreak, you chose not to get close to anyone new. It’s hard to be a part of a community with a mind set like that! But God has given us good friends everywhere we’ve lived, with people we normally wouldn’t’ve been friends with. In Germany I didn’t know many girls my age, but I became friends with girls several years younger than me, and adults, too! I also acquired a pen pal who lived in the States, who is still one of my dearest, dearest friends. We’ve had to leave behind some beautiful homes, but God has always provided a new home to love, and a new place to explore.

“The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.”

-J.R.R. Tolkien

“We have nothing, if not belief.”

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Hey everyone! This is my first blog post, so I think I’ll start with something near and dear to my heart.

I was first brought into the world of Narnia in our cozy little living room. The fireplace was on one end of the room, a fat peach rocking chair on the other, and our little family snuggled up together in the middle. Dad opened up his favorite childhood book and began reading.

Once there were four children whose names were Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy.”

Since then, the wonderful, magical place called Narnia has been like a second home to me, just like many children over the past 60+ years. As a Christian though, it has elements that touch me deeply.  It showed God’s character to me at a young age more realistically than Sunday school ever could. It made heaven more of a physical place in my mind. It started my love for fantasy, and reading in general, and inspired me to write my own stories. As an older kid, I still consult these beautiful stories for answers to more deep, spiritual questions that C. S. Lewis has somehow woven in. (How did he do that so effortlessly?)

These stories will always be special to me. I look forward to the day when I can share them with my own children!

How did you get introduced to Narnia? Leave a comment!