Monday, March 07, 2016

Some Favorite Things

I love having a little record of some of my favorite things during different seasons of my life.  And I love sharing things that I’ve found and loved.  Here are some things we’re loving around here lately.


  • Easter Plan: my friend Heidi and I made up a plan to more fully celebrate Easter – an whole month of really focusing on Christ, his teaching, his miracles, his sacrifice, his resurrection.  We included lots of our favorite scriptures and videos, Heidi came up with some great questions to ask yourself or you family.  We compiled some ideas we had collected through the years from different sources to celebrate Passover and Good Friday and palm Sunday etc.   This is our third year loosely following the ideas in this plan and I’m so excited to do it again.  Not sure if I’ve ever posted the link here to our Google Doc.  But here it is.  We started yesterday. 

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  • Google Express.  Have you tried it?  Are they in your area?  They gave me three months free, and Jeff three months free and now I’m hooked.  Sure, I still have to go to Costco and the grocery store since they don’t deliver perishables (yet).  But it’s so nice to not have to lug all those bulk pantry items into my cart, out of my cart, into my cart, then into my car and then into my house.  Check it out.  It’s a life changer.
  • My salvation army find bread machines.  I have two in the basement and it makes it so darn easy to make home made bread.  It seems like there’re always shelves of discarded almost new ones for about $7.  A steal.  Nothing like a house that smells like bread baking.  I just use them to make the dough.  Then I put the dough in pans and put them in the oven to rise.  I’ve figured out how to set my oven on delay bake so that it starts up on it’s own after 30 min of rising and then turns off after 30 min of baking.  This is essential for me.  If I have to keep remembering to do things I end up with over risen or burnt bread.
  • Meditations for Kids:  For a while now Em has had a really hard time calming herself down.  On one particularly bad day she was in such a state that I couldn’t drop her off at school.  So we sat in the car and as she tried to work out some of her frustration (in the form of a massive fit) I frantically searched Spotify for a meditation for kids.  I think I’d thought of trying meditation with her a while back, but in this desperate moment I finally tried it and it worked wonders.  Now Em and Peter listen to one of these meditation podcasts lots of time before falling asleep.  And when I don’t have my phone on me or we want something different I make up meditations for them.  It has been a powerful discovery.  I’m going to blog more about it sometime, but here’s the link to the Spotify playlist that we use. 

  • Joy School – I’m doing Joy School for the last time this year with Peter. We only get to do it one day a week since he’s in pre-school for the other days, and we both look forward to those days so much. I know I’m pretty biased since my parents and grandma did invent the concept, but really, it’s such a great program and has been totally revamped this year.  I just love the idea of helping kids develop emotional intelligence skills before going to kindergarten.  All the concepts that Joy School aims to teach are totally natural to kids but putting them into a framework where they’re discussed and explored with moms gives kids words to describe the joys they are already experiencing.  It’s got to be pretty validating for kids to have moms put words and value on some of the things that are so natural to them.   Every time I go through a year of Joy School I feel like I’m re-learning the joys and the kids are just finding a language to describe them.  I could go on and on.  Check it out here or here.

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  • Alexander’s Amazing Adventures:  I know, another plug for one of my parents programs, but these cd’s/mp3 tracks are part of the fabric of our family.  Hazel is just now starting to feel not really love listening to them, but for years everyone would be kept happy for hours in the car listening to these value teaching adventures.  They're made by the same people who did Scripture Scouts (which we love, and I listened to as a kid).  Also a great bed-time story to leave on as your kids wind down to sleep.  They’re on sale right now at values parenting, I think until March 15th.  IMG_3988 (1)
  • Home made Yogurt:  I used to think people who made their own yogurt were a little extreme.  But I started doing it about a year ago and can’t go back.  It’s seriously so easy and so yummy.  Here’s what you do:
    1. find some plain yogurt with lots of live cultures that you like the tang of,
    2. heat up milk to 180 degrees (I use a meat thermometer with a buzzer to warn me when its close, otherwise hot milk mess all over my stove),  You can use any kind of milk.  I use whole milk.
    3. let it cool to 95 degrees (this takes a while, sometimes I forget it’s there and it cools off too much, I just quickly heat it up a bit.  You can also speed this part up if you drag around an icepack in the milk.
    4. whisk in about 1/3 cup yogurt to 4 cups milk.  If you have some powdered milk you can put in about a tsp to make the yogurt a little thicker.
    5. pour into mason jars (or just put a lid on your pot). 
    6. Now you have to keep it at about 90-100 degrees for 8-10 hours.  I do this by just placing a work lamp with a 100 watt bulb in it over the pot or jars.  You can also do it by putting it in the oven with the light turned on (though this is a little cooler method, have to leave it there longer….and then I forget about it), or in an unplugged crock pot with a towel wrapped around it. 

that’s it!  Just cool the yogurt for a few hours and it’s ready to eat.  My kids like to stir in a little jam or honey or frozen blueberries to make it sweeter.  I like to eat it with frozen raspberries, cottage cheese, grape nuts and pecans.  Yum!  It’s also super yummy if you strain it into Greek yogurt or yogurt cheese (can do this with just a cheep reusable coffee filter, the longer you let it sit the thicker and more cheese like it will be.)  We use this yogurt in place of sour cream all the time and also in place of mayo in salad dressings. 

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  • 40 Acts – do Lent Generously: I know I’m not catholic, but I’ve been participating in this online Lent challenge.  We’re halfway through and it has been really powerful.  I highly recommend joining in.  You get a short little thought and a challenge each day of let to help you be more outwardly focused and giving.  I’ve had some pretty amazing experiences so far. Linda Baby pictures
  • Ancestor Stories –we’ve been trying to read ancestor stories during dinner at least one night a week.  I’m amazed by how into it my kids get (after the initial push back).  It gives us perspective, makes us feel strong and connected and keeps the potty talk at the table to a minimum. 
  • Sunday night back rubs – I’ve been trying to give my kids back rubs complete with massage oil on Sunday nights.  Boy do they ever open up as they melt into a puddle of relaxation. 

  • Not buying stuff – for all of January I challenged myself not to buy anything besides food.  I had such an empty feeling after all that Christmas consuming and our budget was out of whack.  I’d sit at the computer and my first instinct was to go to Amazon.  Ug.  So I didn’t buy anything for a month.  And boy did that feel good.  I broke my consuming habit enough to not buy much in February.  I retrained myself to really ask if I needed something before obsessing about it, and to find ways to make do with what I had.  I really do like the challenge of making do.   I’m coming up with a personal/family consumption plan for us.  Because of my kind of obsessive personality I feel like I have to be very careful about the stuff we let into our lives, it clutters up our space, and also my brain and schedule.  And if you want a really great SNL sketch to help start a conversation about not buying stuff click here.  Love it.


  • Evernote – I’m sure there are lots of good apps out there for journaling and documenting life.  I grabbed Evernote at the beginning of the year and have loved having an easily accessible place to jot down my thoughts.  I have always LOVED journaling, but with this shift over to the digital world I have felt a little lost.  I’ve found it harder and harder to write things down by hand and because of that I’ve just stopped writing as much.  Having Evernote on my phone and my laptop and desktop means I can write little tid bits of our lives and my feelings anytime.  I try to write a few things, or put in a picture everyday before I look through instagram.  And it’s working!  I feel like I once again have a record of the inner workings of our lives and my heart. 

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  • VidAngel – Guys. This one is awesome.  I might be a little late to the party, but have you tried out VidAngel?  It’s a service that enables you to stream edited movies for just $1.  And you can choose what you want bleeped out.  It can just be the end credits if you want to see and hear everything else.  Or you can get rid of all the junk you don’t want to see.  And it’s so inexpensive.  I’m quitting Netflix.  Please check them out.  You’ll love it.  I just want them to thrive so that I can keep using this service forever.

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  • Chatbooks – another great journaling app.  They send you a cute little bound book ($8 including shipping) of all your instagram posts each time you hit 60 posts.  And if you don’t want to bombard your instagram feed with all the things you want for your family journal you can just put the photos directly into the app.  We have the cutest little stack of about 15 photo books that I didn’t have to think about for more than 3 seconds.  Such a great little surprise in the mail every few months.  If you want your first book free use this code:


Would love to know some of your favorite things lately!


  1. I have been making our yoghurt consistently for about a year now too! I always strain it, because I've tried homemade yoghurt on and off over the past few years and could never really get into it, but I strained it once and it completely gets rid of the taste I don't like (which must be something in the whey) and I don't think I'll ever go back. I am loving our yard full of little yellow rain lillies, the fact that the temperature is less than scorching now that autumn is here, the amazing change in my 6 year old over the last week (she was being pretty horrible for awhile there) and all things twigseeds and Ruby Red Shoes. Books and things by an Australian artist for kids about a very cute rabbit and her adventures.

    1. Thanks Teegan for sharing your favorites! Love thinking about how autumn is arriving somewhere in the world as our spring is coming.

  2. Great list! I'd like to check out your Easter Google Doc. I could find the link.

    1. sorry, i fixed it. Hope you can find it now. I'm loving it again this year.

  3. Love this! I'm stealing your ideas. ALL of them. :)

  4. Thank-you so very much. These are wonderful "favorite things".

  5. Just now my daughter was standing here by me telling how she was worried about school. After some question asking we arrived at worries about some friend/recess issues she's been having. I assumed that was the cause of her anxiety, but was trying to ask her questions to get her to open up. I was sitting at my computer and somehow ended up on your blog. I think I was actually opening up your blog when she came downstairs. I've read your blog a few times via your sister's blogs, but I call it a tender mercy tonight because I happened to start reading your comments about meditation for children. Just when I needed it. We had gone around and around in circles as I tried to help her figure out how to face her day tomorrow and how to help her calm down enough to go to sleep. She is now listening to one of the meditations from your playlist :)

    1. This makes me happy! Glad it came at just the right time. Hope it helped!

  6. I love the Easter Google doc - thank you! What great ideas. p.s. Are you still in Boston? I'm a New Hampshire girl!

  7. Oh man I can't believe that this has been up since March 7th and I just found it! Lots of terrific ideas here. Thanks for the heads-up! When you post, send eyrealm a ittle message will you? It would be great to see these posts immediately! Love what I learned!

  8. Thanks for all the great ideas!



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