Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Adrenal Thyroid Revolution by Aviva Romm ~ My Journey Starts Today!

I was recently diagnosed with hypothyroidism. It is bittersweet for me because on one hand, now I know where all of these previously unexplained symptoms are coming from! And it's a bummer because, well, it's never good news to hear that something in your body isn't working quite right.

Thankfully, there is a ton that you can do proactively for your thyroid. I'm lucky to have a great doctor who didn't wait around to order blood work for my thyroid, and who knew immediately that the symptoms I was complaining about were related.

A few days later, my best friend (who is an incredible doula, by the way!) mentioned Aviva Romm's newest book, The Adrenal Thyroid Revolution. I bought it and read the entire thing in less than a week, which is amazing for me since I'm usually never able to finish such a large book in that amount of time!

I loved the book and learned a TON. Aviva walks you through everything from the most basic ways having an overactive thyroid can impact your life, to how exactly you can begin the journey to healing your hormone imbalance. The first part of the book is explaining how your thyroid works and how it relates to the rest of your body and life. It even includes real-life stories of people who had thyroid issues just like mine, and managed to heal them using Aviva's 4-week program! The second part of the book explains the 4-week plan in great detail, even including extensive lists of supplements you can start taking. Also included are sample menu and lifestyle plans that you can use during the 4-week program. The last part of the book is filled with easy recipes to make using the 4-week plan a breeze.

My Journey Starts Today

I've made changes to start supporting my hormonal and thyroid health right away, mainly going gluten-free. After reading Aviva Romm's book, I decided to go ahead and commit to the 4-week program that she lays out. Today is my first day, and I plan on documenting my journey through my blog and Instagram

Part of my shopping haul for Week 1.

Meal Plan for Week One: 

Breakfast: 
  • Smoothie 
  • Frittata 
  • Smoothie 
  • Breakfast Scramble 
  • Smoothie 
  • Breakfast Scramble 
  • Power Parfait or Smoothie 
Lunch: 
  • Mediterranean Board (monkey platter style)
  • Wrap
  • Leftover Frittata 
  • The Middle East Board
  • Buddha Bowl 
  • Nappy Raw Citrus Salad 
  • The  Middle East Board 
Dinner: 
  • Sweet Potato and Kale Salad
  • Falafel Patties
  • Buddha Bowl with Quinoa 
  • Nappy Raw Citrus Salad 
  • Meatless "Tacos" 
  • Chicken and Wild Black Rice
  • Sweet Potato Buddha Bowl with leftovers 

Basic Guidelines 

Week 1 is the most intense of the 4 weeks because it's the week where everything is being eliminated and you have the most restriction before you can start adding things like beans back into your diet. The basic guidelines for Week 1 are that you remove ALL artificial ingredients and poor quality oils and fats; all sugar and white or refined carbs; all gluten and cross-reactive grains; all dairy products; all alcohol and caffeine; and all personal known food triggers or foods that you are sensitive to or uncertain about. 

After week one, I will continue to keep many of these foods out, but I will begin to add things like a small amount of legumes, some non-glutinous grains, and a small serving of almonds or walnuts.  

Follow Along on Instagram! 

Follow me on Instagram @unrushed.space for daily updates and pictures of what I'm cooking up in my kitchen and feeding my body. I can't wait to see you over there! 



Saturday, February 11, 2017

How to survive cold and flu season with toddlers PLUS: Homemade cough drops

Cold and flu season is here, and while it's not fun for anybody, it can be especially challenging when you have a toddler or two. We are currently in the midst of our first cold since last February, and it's kicking my butt! I've found a few tips and tricks to help us get through these difficult viruses, and I hope you'll find them helpful too.



  1. Elderberry syrup. I give my kids homemade organic elderberry syrup  made with organic raw honey. They love this syrup, and it's full of immune boosting goodness! Dose once or twice a day. You can also make or buy elderberry tinctures. 
  2. Fire cider. Fire cider is a an ancient immune boosting tonic made out of powerful spices and vegetables. The vegetables are infused into raw apple cider vinegar for at least a month, strained out, and then the cider is taken a couple teaspoons at a time. For my kids, I often water it down in a cup of water mixed with their probiotic and a bit of elderberry syrup. 
  3. Probiotics. My kids take Nature's Way Primadophilus Children's probiotic. It's a powder that easily mixes into any liquid. It's especially important to take a probiotic if you're taking antibiotics. 
  4. Orange juice. Juice is a rare treat in our house, but when we're sick, we make sure to have orange juice on hand. We buy Florida's Natural for these occasions because it's GMO free. 
  5. A comfy nest. Having comfortable places to cozy up and rest is important. My bed is the favorite place to have a cuddle puddle, but the couch and our living room floor futon/pillow pile are also favorite spots. Maybe grab some extra blankets down from the attic to scatter around the house! 
  6. Constant access to water. My kids each have 2 of their own Klean Kanteens. We LOVE these water bottles! They usually carry one (or both) of them wherever they go. Chuck and I make sure they stay filled with fresh, clean water so that we're making sure the kids are staying hydrated. 
  7. Easy, nourishing food. Quick and easy food is absolutely a necessity when the kids are sick - especially if you are sick too! I like to feed my kids homemade bone broth that I make in the instant pot, fresh hot soup, and fresh fruit. We also stock up on easy foods like bagels and cream cheese during times when the whole family is sick. 
  8. Movies and cartoons. Using Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and YouTube Kids is an essential for us during times of family illness. This keeps little minds occupied, and creates a bit of calm in the home.
  9. Coconut oil. Coconut oil is an absolute life-saver (any time, but especially during colds!) Little noses get sore from all the rubbing, lips get chapped and chafed, and it creates a lot of discomfort. We keep a little jar of coconut oil within easy reach at all times for rubbing on the sore areas.
  10. Steamy showers. When a coughing fit hits, the best thing to do is to scoop everyone up, take them to the bathroom and turn the shower on as hot as it will go to steam up the bathroom. I like the plug the bathtub drain so that the hot water collects and makes the steam more intense. I also sometimes lay a towel on the floor against the closed door to keep the steam in better. Keep the bathroom fan off, and encourage everyone to breathe deeply. 
  11. A NoseFrida. I absolutely do not know how parents survive runny noses without one of these things! After a bathroom steam, I like to use the NoseFrida on my youngest's nose to help her clear out any congestion. The older two kids are able to blow their noses on their own.
  12. Homemade toddler friendly cough drops. Making toddler-approved cough drops is really easy. They are full of healing spices and are super delicious, even for adults! And chances are, you probably already have all the needed ingredients. 
  13. Vitamin-C. I use Big Friends Chewable Vitamin-C for my kids. They love the large chewable tablets, and I feel good about this brand. I find mine at my local food co-op, but you could also get them on amazon.

Homemade Toddler-Friendly Cough Drop Recipe 



Ingredients: 

  • 6 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon of raw honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger 
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground turmeric powder 

Directions

  1. Gather your ingredients, a fork, and a bowl for mixing.
  2. Put all ingredients into the bowl, and start mixing with the fork.
  3. If your coconut oil was in a hardened state when you started, this will take a little arm work. Just keep going at it until all the ingredients are incorporated. 
  4. Once everything is mixed together, take a spoon and drop little globs (about 1/2 teaspoon each) onto a dinner plate. 
  5. Place the plate in the freezer and freeze until they are solid, at least 4 hours. 
  6. Once they are frozen, pry them off the plate and put into a small freezer safe container. 
  7. Store them in the freezer. 
  8. Serve them as needed. Let them dissolve in the mouth until creamy, then swallow. 
  9. The honey is extremely soothing to sore throats! 

Friday, January 13, 2017

A Bit Of History: My Faith Shift

*These posts first appeared on TessaMcKnight.com. I've migrated them here for the sake of history because they share important parts of my journey. These read as journal entries, because that's what they are. The tone is different from the main tone of this blog, and you'll notice that. :) *

My faith has shifted.

I still love Jesus, but I no longer think of him the way I used to. 

He isn't an out of reach God that I can't get to, that I can never quite please, that gets disgusted with me, or feels impersonal or kingly. 

My faith has shifted so that I no longer feel pressure to read the bible (have "devotions.") I no longer read the bible's poems and stories as inerrant and without mistakes and inspired. Actually I hardly read the bible at all right now. 


God is just here. 

Jesus is here in all the details. In the flowers, in the kneading of bread, in the digging of soil, in the fresh sprouts, in the rainbows, in the sunsets, in the towering trees. God is everywhere. God is so much more than just God. God just is. She's all these things and more. 

She's magical and mystical and beyond understanding, but at the same time, totally understandable. 

God is this paradox that I've begun to fall in love with - not like I used to "love God." But actually be in love with her. I'm fascinated with her mystery, and I'm content with not knowing things for sure about her. 

I don't have a religion anymore. I'm not a "bible believer." I'm not a "Jesus-follower." I'm not a "Christian." I've become resistant to the sticky side of labels - the things that people like to throw at you so that they are more comfortable with you and can feel like they understand or "get" you. 

I'm not really anything. I'm just a girl living her life and enjoying it. Can't that be good enough?

It is for me. 

My theology has been condensed to God is love. Love God, love people. 

Everything else doesn't matter to me right now. Isn't that enough to focus on? Loving God better and loving people better? 

The driving force of everything I do and the reasons I do it is love.

My theme song goes something like this: 

But if we'll try I know that you'll agree
Our love is something that can change the world 

That's the thing about us
We got love love love
If you think you might break,
If you think you might fall,
If you think you've got nothing at all
But you got us, you got love love love
I only got love



__________

I'm reading Kathy Escobar's book Faith Shift right now and am thoroughly enjoying it. I'm almost halfway done, and once I am all the way finished, I'll be writing a full review that I'm sure will end up jam packed with big thoughts and feelings.

I'm in the middle of the chapter called When It All Comes Apart in which she describes the unraveling stage that faith shifters tend to go through. So far it has been described as the most scary and difficult stage, and I must say that I agree.

It's the stage that I most identify with right now. Everything I once knew is unraveling. My life is composed of questions and no answers (as I've said before, there is only one thing I know for sure.) When people ask me what I think about something, my answer is "I don't know." and I can tell that makes a lot of people uncomfortable.


I am irked when people tell me they are praying for me or when they suggest super Christian answers to very real problems. (Admittedly, I even got upset at Chuck for praying for me!) I have some sense of God, but it's not strong (at least by my fundie standards.) It's a place of loneliness and freedom and lightness all at once. (How weird!) The bible is extraordinarily off putting to me. I feel drawn to it, but can't read it. I have a lot of animosity towards fundamentalist's way of thinking. I'm very open to exploring other faiths and religions (and have in fact found a lot of healing doing so!) I'm not calling myself a Christian right now. I go back and forth between feeling lots of peace about where I am and deep confusion...

All trade marks of a faith shifter's unraveling. 


There's also an element of shame that I was just now able to identify. Shame is different from guilt in that it's a feeling of "I am bad" rather than "I did something bad." I realized that I am nervous and hesitant to share with my friends (even my closest ones) about the ways that I have changed. I feel shame because only a few short months ago I was so sure of what I believed and now, suddenly, it's so different. It almost feels embarrassing. I'm worried that the more I share, the more people will back away from me - and that doesn't feel very good.

It sucks to not have answers!

But it shouldn't. It really, really shouldn't.

I'm working hard on becoming ok and comfortable with uncertainty and the "I don't knows" that seem to be the theme of my life right now. It's easier than others sometimes, but it just feels so yucky and heavy when it comes up. Especially when the person doing the questioning is obviously curious and a little disapproving.

Anyway, just a few thoughts from my brain this afternoon.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Faith Shift, A Book Review

If there's one thing you take away from this book, it's that you are not alone. And that is one of the most comforting, reassuring things I can think of to tell someone going through a faith shift.

Kathy Escobar is writing from a place of understanding because she has been there - in the middle of her own faith shift. She shares her story as an encouragement to each of us, to let us know that we aren't alone, and that everything is going to be ok. Kathy is the lead pastor at The Refuge, a mission center and Christian community that she helped start as a safe place for faith shifters. And believe me, I seriously wish I lived close enough to be a part of that community!

The Refuge offers just that: refuge. It's a place where people are not judged or looked down on for having a faith crisis or for asking questions. I know that on my own journey, asking hard questions is seen as a bad thing, as "going off the deep end," or "straying," or even leaving "the flock" (how I despise that term!) altogether.  Since most of us aren't lucky enough to live in North Denver, Faith Shift offers us a bit of our own refuge within our own homes. This book is packed with snippets of stories from people's lives that are having spiritual shifts and feeling abandoned by the churches and people they grew up with.

My faith shift started about 4 1/2 years ago. I didn't realize it then. All I knew is that I was starting to think for myself and question things I had always believed. It wasn't until about 2 years ago when I started adventuring into seriously unknown territory that I realized something bigger was going on. I found a group or two on Facebook where I was able to connect with some like-minded people. More than the groups themselves (some of which I'm not even a part of anymore), I found a few individual people that I deeply connected with. They listened to my whole story, they understood, they offered me love and kindness and helpful advice. Without these people, my faith shift would have (would still be) the loneliest place I have ever been.

Luckily for me, I also somehow discovered books like Faith Shift which ended up impacting me more than I thought it would be able to. When I started reading this book, I couldn't get over how much I was relating to what Kathy was saying, and even more so, how she seemed to be literally telling my story back to me, and then predicting the future for me! It was SO freeing and comforting.

When you feel alone, the greatest gift that can be given to you is the gift of friendship and understanding. Of being told "Hey, I've been there. I know what it's like. It's going to be ok. Here's some helpful advice." There is nothing more comforting than knowing that there are actually real life people out there who get you.

Kathy has a really helpful diagram in her book that I wanted to show you.

from the book Faith Shift by Kathy Escobar http://kathyescobar.com/
To fully understand this diagram in it's entirety, you'll have to read Faith Shift for yourself. But for now, you can get a pretty good idea of the faith shifter's journey from this picture. Personally, I'm in the unraveling stage right now most strongly, with a fair amount of severing going on, and just the slightest hints of rebuilding starting to bud.

In the beginning of the book, Kathy talks about how the point of the illustration above, and the book in general, is to give language "to our shared but individual experiences and identify the progression of a faith shift." This sounded awesome when I first started reading, and then the further and further I got through the book, I realized how absolutely needed it truly was and is! Having the words and the descriptors to explain where you are in life may be the single most important thing to making this journey easier for you and for others. It's like being handed a super bright flashlight as you're walking through the darkest of dark caves.

I'm going to say: I want to just put this entire book for you to read on my blog. There is so much I want to cover in this review and I truly feel like I'm just grasping at straws trying to figure out what to say where and how much to say.

I was excited that Rachel Held Evans, Brain McLaren, and Sarah Bessey all gave glowing reviews of Faith Shift. It majorly added to my excitement and I mean...when Rachel Held Evans recommends a book, you know it's gotta be good.

Kathy goes through each stage of faith shifting in great detail. I found this incredibly helpful in identifying certain areas of my own journey, and it was especially impactful in the area of offering me comfort. The constant reminder of "You are not alone. You are ok." was so helpful to me.

Probably my most favorite chapter starts on page 82, and it's called Soul Care for Unravelers. Self care (soul care!) has been such a huge theme for me lately. And you know that if you've been reading my blog for a while. Being handed some tools to make sure that my soul is being properly cared for during this season was really meaningful to me. Obviously I can't put the whole chapter here in a blog post (I wish I could) but here are some of my favorite parts.

Below are a handful of ideas that Kathy gives for keeping yourself together while you're unraveling. Now, keep in mind that under each of these points, Kathy goes into great detail to further expound on what she means.

  • Get used to blank stares and nervous twitches (from others)
  • Expect the unexpected 
  • Come to terms with negative emotions 
  • Consider the possibility that your soul is not at risk 
  • Accept that some relationships will fall away
  • Make time for safe, life-giving friends 
  • Treasure laughter 
  • Practice Serenity 
  • Try experiencing God in new ways
  • Trust the process
  • Swear if it helps!
  • Be selective in what you read
  • Be selective about which events you attend 
  • Resist the temptation to compare yourself to others 
  • Avoid big triggers if possible 
And then right after this list, Kathy gives a really, really refreshing list of "life-giving acts" that she personally found helpful. I LOVE how down to earth these things are, and how much I related to them. Having permission to actually do these things - being encouraged to do these things - this is huge! The basis for this list is "Does this help me feel more peace, love, hope, joy, and/or rest?"

  • Lighting candles (lots of them)
  • Watching movies
  • Turning off the radio in my car and putting my cell phone in the back seat
  • Taking walks in the rain or sun or snow
  • Making time for friends who make me laugh 
  • Reading only fiction 
  • Reflecting on art or poetry 
  • Writing 
  • Water skiing 
  • Hiking 

And for me, this list would look something like this...

  • Taking a quiet bath alone with candles, my cell phone or a movie on the computer 
  • Listening to music and singing and dancing 
  • Eating delicious food
  • Drinking a cup of coffee or tea that I prepared mindfully 
  • Meditating 
  • Walks and hikes or time at the beach with my family 
  • Reading
  • Having good talks with Chuck 
  • Dinner with friends 
  • Connecting to nature through earthing, stones and crystals, new moon rituals, etc. 
  • Smudging my house and myself 
  • Music and dancing 

Among the bazillion other things that stood out to me in Faith Shift was the fact that Kathy encourages you to explore things you may have previously been taught were off limits. She says (page 153) "Explore different ways to connect with God that your previous faith tradition might not have validated, such as nature, social activism, contemplative practices, and so on." This is in the section titled "The Art of Experimenting Spiritually".

Also, I don't think I mentioned this yet, but bullet points and lists in books are one of my ultimate favorite things. Faith Shift doesn't let me down in this area!! 

Continuing on in the section about experimenting spiritually, Kathy goes on to list a few possible practices that you might decide to try out (or not) in the process of rebuilding. Below is a quickly paraphrased version:

  • What makes you feel alive? Loved? What are you passionate about?
  • Put the Bible on the shelf and find something else inspiring and challenging to read. Many other faith traditions have amazing material worth bravely exploring. 
  • Practice reading the Bible for its beauty and inspiration instead of for study or knowledge. 
  • Consider other aspects of God's character. What part of God do you want to connect with, or do you really need, right now? Start there. It could be God as friend, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Mother, Creator, Advocate, and so on. 
  • Practice soul care (see above!)
  • Create something. 
  • Skip parts of church that you aren't ready for or don't like (or skip church all together!)
  • Have fun, lighten the load, laugh.

Following is a whole section called "Different Ways of Loving God". I loved this quote from Karl, the previous co-pastor at The Refuge: "Love God. The problem is that I don't know what love is, and I am not sure who God is...but other than that I've got it nailed down." It just sums up in total perfection that we kind of know...but we don't really know. What a perfectly confusing, comforting way to say that.

There is so much to say about Faith Shift and I just can't seem to get it all out here the way I want to. This book deeply impacted me. I am so happy to have been able to read it and learn from it, to find comfort and friendship in it. I can't wait to pass it on to others who will also find it helpful. Chuck is reading it right now, and then after he's done, I'm sending it to my good friend in Maryland. 

If you get a chance to read this book, do it! You won't regret it. If you have read Faith Shift I would dearly love to hear your thoughts on it and to hear how it affected your own shifting faith. Feel free to leave a comment below or to send me an email. I'd really love to chat. 

Lastly, thank you so much to Kathy for sending me a copy of this book for review. I had no idea it would be this good. Thanks for giving this gift to the world...and to me.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A Journey To Self-Love

Self love, acceptance, self beauty, self worth, self anything really has been almost non existent in my life. That is, until recently when I realized that needed to change. I remember one time as a teenager looking in the mirror and admiring my hair, but quickly checking myself because "If I love my hair too much, "God" would take it away." (That was true for a lot of things...my husband, my children, my home, etc. If you love anything more than God, his (God's) only choice would be to take it away.)

As you can imagine, that does a number on one's self esteem. It leaves no room for anything having to do with self for fear of loving one's self too much and becoming vain or self absorbed. I've come a long way in every area of my life since that day.

The past year, and more recently, the past few weeks, I've been exploring what it means to truly love and accept myself. To love me for me. And to see me not as a sad, broken, messed up, bad, ugly, hurting, _______, or ________ human but instead as...

BEAUTIFUL
WORTHY
ENOUGH
WHOLE
LOVELY
GOOD
TALENTED
PERFECT
WONDERFUL
AMAZING
INCREDIBLE
GODDESS

COMPLETE 
SUFFICIENT
AMAZING 

GORGEOUS
  

I was having a really hard day a few days ago seeing any of this. I sat on the couch in the living room while the kids napped and sobbed. Chuck came and sat next to me and started saying true things to help me center myself as I sat there and tried to argue with him and tell him how wrong he was. I finally started to calm down and Chuck told me "I have an idea." (I always love his ideas.) "I want you to pick out something that will be a tangible thing for you to hold or wear or whatever to act as a constant reminder of this shift. A reminder of who you truly are." (He said that it couldn't be something that could go away - so no candles or incense or anything like that.)

That evening we went to a couple of our favorite local shops and browsed around. Nothing called to me. Nothing had that spark of "This is it!" And so we came home without anything. I'm not going to lie; I felt kind of sad.

I was feeling pulled toward a ring. Something I could wear everyday and would see anytime I did anything. I took a peek on Etsy (my fave!) and quickly discovered that I loved the electroformed style with a raw looking stone or crystal. As I was browsing, I opened up a few different ones that I thought were really beautiful. I had decided beforehand that I didn't want to do any research into specific stone properties or meanings - I just wanted to intuitively choose a stone. 

I particularly loved a peridot ring I stumbled across. It was gorgeous and in the exact style I was drawn to. I knew that this stone was the right one for me.

Peridot (pronounced pair-uh-doe) is formed in molten rock on the earth's upper mantle and brought to the surface by earthquakes and volcanoes. Peridot is also found in comet dust! Aside from being drawn to it's beauty, I am also drawn to the properties of peridot, which I started researching after reading a brief Etsy shop description. Here are the ones that I felt spoke to me:

  • Peridot alives emotional burdens, guilt and obsessions
  • Peridot is beneficial in helping to overcome fear
  • Peridot is helpful in releasing resentment 
  • Peridot is helpful in instilling confidence in one's own abilities
  • Peridot is beneficial for reestablishing a sense of self-worth
  • Peridot is helpful in attuning to cycles and helping regulate them
  • Peridot helps dissipate negative patterns and vibrations 
  • Peridot is a stone of transformation 
  • Peridot is a vital guide in facilitating the healing process 
  • Peridot helps discharge emotional issues 
  • Peridot helps alleviate fear, guilt, anxiety, and impatience 
  • Peridot relieves the heaviness of the heart
  • Peridot relieves self doubt caused by betrayal in past relationships 
(For extensive reading on peridot, see this site!)

After a bit more browsing I came across the shop I knew I wanted to buy the ring from. (Check out RockDoveRings here!) I am excited to wear this ring as a reminder to my heart of who my truest self is.


I am still learning about self care and how to give time and grace to allow myself to explore this new area. I would love to hear about how you practice self care in your day to day life. Do you have specific mantras you repeat to yourself or special practices that you do everyday? Aside from this ring, journaling is a big one for me. Getting all my thoughts and feelings out on paper is very therapeutic for me.

Happy journey, dear friend! 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Sustainaballs, A Recipe

Every once in awhile I like to try my hand at creating a recipe. Yesterday was one of those days! I've had a breakfast ball recipe that I've been making for a year or so, and from that recipe, I created a breakfast cookie. Both of those recipes had aspects that I didn't like. The breakfast ball base is oatmeal, and the breakfast cookie base is oats and bananas. While both dairy and gluten free, I just wanted something that I was IN LOVE with. And so, I present to you...Sustaina-BALLS! Thanks to my awesome local What's Cookin', Mama? Facebook group and one of it's members, Ashley B. for the epic name suggestion!

Ingredients

  • 10 medjool dates, pitted 
  • 1/4 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes 
  • 1/4 cup of ground flax seed
  • 1/4 cup of gluten free oats* 
  • 1/4 cup of hemp hearts 
  • 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds 
  • 1/4 cup of chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract 
  • 1 cup of your choice of nut butter*, or a mixture of nut butters and/or coconut oil
*Notes: You can choose to omit the oats if you'd like a grain free snack. If you do choose to omit the oats, be sure to lessen the amount of nut butter you use. Alternatively, you could add a pinch more of the rest of the dry ingredients to equal a 1/4 cup and keep the nut butter ratio the same.

If you would like to add sweetener, you can choose to add some raw honey or pure maple syrup. If you do this, be sure to lessen the amount of nut butter you use. However, these are delicious without ANY added sweetness! And much healthier for you. ;)

This recipe makes around 20 balls, depending on how large or small you create them.

Directions

  1. Put all of the pitted dates into the food processor and then blend until they are a paste. 
  2. Add in the rest of the ingredients, holding back a little of the nut butter for later. Blend.
  3. Test to see if you need to add more nut butter by seeing if the mixture stays together when you squeeze it in the palm of your hand. If it sticks together without falling apart, then it's done! If not, add some more nut butter and blend until it's the correct consistency. 
  4. Shape into balls using your hands and set on a plate. Place the plate in the fridge for about an hour to allow the Sustaina-BALLS to harden up, and then store them in an airtight container for later snacking! These will last a couple weeks in the fridge, or a handful of days out on the counter.
  5. Enjoy! 
This recipe is SO flexible and you can change up the ingredients and ratios any way you'd like!

These balls make a great all-occasion snack. As long as they are in a container that can't crush, they travel well and provide lots of good protein! They also will make you thirsty, so be sure to have water on hand. Pack them to take camping or hiking, or just for a picnic in the park. 

What are your favorite go-to snacks? I'd love to hear about them since I'm always on the lookout for new things to add to the kitchen! 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

TurtleRok, A Review

My love affair with coffee cups started way back. I actually can't remember the exact moment, but I know that it started when I was around 13 years old at a friends house. They were such an eclectic family, and one of the things that stood out to me was their small collection of well-loved coffee cups. Most of them were small, and almost all of them had chips in them from being well-used and toted here and there. One day I made a comment about how much I loved this, and my friend's older sister picked up one of the mugs and gave it to me as a gift. It was a small clay mug that had a twin. That was my very first, very own mug. And it will always hold a special place in my heart. Sadly, this mug broke in the course of a move. The box that it was in got carelessly thrown down the stairs, and the contents spilled out onto the hard concrete of the basement. I cried when I found it. The person who threw the box never fully understood how much that mug meant to me. I still have some of the broken pieces hidden away in my cedar chest.


One of the first things I can remember doing with Chuck when I met him was searching through our local Goodwill for coffee cups and other dishes to fill our soon-to-be living space. We've never had a set of matching anything (socks are sometimes the exception), and I never want that to change for us. Everytime we're in a thrift shop, we're always sure to browse through the mugs to see if any are beckoning to be taken home. There's usually at least one.

Our love of mugs runs strong and deep. In fact, unknowingly to each other, we each bought the other a mug for our Christmas Eve gifts this year! And of course, neither of us were disappointed!

When I discovered TurtleRok mugs, I fell in love immediately. I browsed and browsed Rachael's Etsy shop, clicked through all the pictures, and even imagined what it would feel like to hold one her incredible textured tree mugs! When I reached out to see if she'd be interested in a collaboration, you can understand how excited I was when she said yes!


Rachael kept me updated through the entire process - the throwing of the mug, a picture when it came out of the kiln, the shipping status. I adore working with people who take such great care of their customers, and I can only imagine what a joy it would be to have Rachael make a custom piece! Which she does! Make sure you're following her on Instagram because she shares pictures of one-of-a kind customs - they will blow your mind!

I've always considered nature the greatest cathedral. It's where I go for healing, peace of mind, relaxation, exercise, and connection. Trees, especially, are near and dear to my heart. So naturally, a handmade, beautiful, large, tree mug was something I was drawn to. The colors of this mug are exactly what you'd find hiking any trail here in the PNW - greens, blues, browns. The inside of the mug looks like the galaxy to me, which is another special piece of my heart. Rachael's tree mug is basically everything sacred in nature, formed into a beautiful mug that I can hold in my hands, bring up to lips, and find a moment of connection in.


Choosing which mug to write about was a hard decision. I had the most difficult time deciding between one of the tufted mugs or the tree mug. Obviously you know which one I ended up going with, but goodness! It wasn't an easy decision!


The size of the mug is something to behold as well! I took a selfie with it just so you could see how it fits in my hands. It holds 14-16 ounces, which is perfect, because...obviously you need a mug that holds a lot of coffee. I routinely find that handles on mugs are much too small - and I don't have big hands! I like to be able to slip all four of my fingers through the handle and be able to hold the mug securely in my hand. It's so disappointing when I can't. The tree mug though? The handle is delightfully shaped, I can fit all of my fingers through, and the way that it's shaped (the handle is slightly smaller near the top, getting wider at the bottom) only adds to the charm of this cup, making it even easier and more comfortable to hold.


Rachael's pieces are made from from non-toxic, food safe clays from the USA, and the glaze is lead free. Super sturdy and durable, made with extreme care and love, this tree mug is for sure at the top of my list of favorite mugs (and believe me, I have a lot of mugs!) They are even microwave and dishwasher safe.


Rachael's shipping practices are top notch. This is worth mentioning because of the nature of pottery! Boxed in a box filled with packing peanuts and bubble wrap, the mug arrived safe and securely. Given a shake, nothing moved inside the box, and it could have taken a beating and the mug would still have been ok. So rest assured that when you order from TurtleRok, your piece will arrive well packaged and in PERFECT condition.


It was such a pleasure to work with Rachael on this collaboration. I feel lucky to have met her, and especially lucky to get to sip my favorite drinks out of a piece of usable art. The sacredness of knowing that someone spent time and energy, working with their hands to create a one of a kind piece is so special and important to me.


Please be sure to check out Rachael's website and her Etsy shop! You can find the link on the sidebar, or by clicking through to any of the links in this post. Show her some love and follow her Instagram as well! Find her on Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter too!