Great Deals for Shopping in Your Comfy Pants

I keep getting loads of emails and updates of all the great sales going on this weekend and into Cyber Monday. So I though I’d pass them along to you! Cause we all want to save where we can, right?

And I don’t know about you, but I’m a fan of internet shopping. There’s nothing like checking off that Christmas list in your favorite comfy pants! So stay home, find a cozy spot on the sofa, and take advantage of these deals.

If you’re trying to figure out what to get the person who has everything, why not an Ebook collection? The Ultimate Heathly Living Bundle that was up for sale a few weeks ago is doing an encore sale over the Black Friday weekend. But this time, there is an extra great incentive to buy. 25% of the proceeds from all the sales will go to benefit 4 different charities, including disaster relief in the Philippines, Compassion International, Hope for Women, and Love146 (the last two deal with rescuing/training women and those trapped in human trafficking.) You can follow this link back to my original post will all the details.

Need some help planning for the holidays? Or other motherhood-related tricks of the trade? Jessica Fisher at Life As Mom is having a sale on all her ebooks this weekend as well. I have purchased both the Organizing Life As Mom and A Simpler Season. Love them both! She’ll be offering $3 off any purchase of $8 or more. Just use the code THANKYOU when you check out.

Vitacost.com

Vitacost is by far my favorite place to score deals on baking supplies (especially gluten free), herbal teas, supplements and body care. Last year, I gave my grandmothers each a gift that included herbal soaps and lotions and some gourmet teas–all ordered from this great site. And for the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend, they’ll be offering loads of specials and bonus codes.

And as always, I find that Amazon is my go to Christmas shop in my pj’s place. (affiliate link)

Got any great deals to pass along?

This post contains affiliate links. You still get all the great discounts, but I get a little commission to support this site. Thanks and happy shopping!
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There Is No Greater Reason to Give Thanks

Praying you and yours are having a very blessed Thanksgiving Holiday! Remember, this day, to give Him an extra measure of thanks.

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” –2 Corinthians 9:15


An Introvert’s Thoughts on Enjoying the Holidays

introvert

Several months ago, I read the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.  (Amazon link) It was an incredible eye opener to actually understand myself a little better.

You see, I’m an introvert. And whether you are or not, I’d wager that someone in your household is. But before we talk about introverts and the holidays, let’s have a quick look at what introverts are (and aren’t).

  • Introverts are often in their own heads–deep thinkers, dreamers (the good kind), problem solvers.
  • We enjoy the company of one or two meaningful relationships at a time. Sometimes less is more.
  • We can get rather animated and gregarious when we are passionate about something.
  • We enjoy thoughtful conversation with depth–but usually dread small talk.
  • We aren’t shy, socially backwards or unfriendly–though we are often labeled as such. We just don’t get a charge from large groups of people.
  • Actually a large group outing or event will be draining to some degree. We need to refuel with solitude and down time.
  • Introversion is not a condition or defect that needs fixed. It is part of the unique way that God has crafted us. Just as extroversion is part of the unique way God has made others.

There are probably a host of other things I could mention. Feel free to add your own in the comments. But I thought it best that we all start on the same page.

When an introvert meets the holidays

This time of year is always very full. Full of family and friends, extra events at work and school and in the community. It’s full of stimulation everywhere you go. Think the mall, the grocery stores, the twinkling lights. None of this is wrong or bad. But it’s definitely there. And for those with different thresholds of stimulation, it can be a little overwhelming.

You may thrive on all this go, go, go. You may relish the extremely full calendar and the extra shopping trips and all the people around all the time. But what if someone in your household doesn’t? Is that okay? Does that make them a humbug?

I’m fortunate in that my husband and I are of pretty much the same temperament. So we don’t have many disagreements in the scheduling department. But if you or someone you love gets burnt out or mowed down this time of year, it’s time to rethink things. Cause even introverts really do want to enjoy this time of year!

Put more focus on the reasons you’re celebrating

It’s the “reason for the season” line. But for most introverts, this is where their head is anyway. They will find the most meaning and enjoyment taking intentional time to count their blessings at Thanksgiving, or celebrating Advent with their family. All of that deeper level holiday stuff can be grounding in a time when you feel pulled in a thousand directions. So make sure that is part of the rhythm of  your holidays. (And it can help the extroverts to slow down and remember what all the hubbub is about too!)

Make a deal with yourself and your family about the schedule

I got this tip from Susan Cain’s book and I find it extremely helpful all year long. But if you’re looking at a hundred invitations, kid’s events, work parties and so on–you don’t have to go to everything! Hear me on that. It doesn’t make you a bad person. It doesn’t make you a humbug. (You can’t please everyone and you shouldn’t try.) But I guess we shouldn’t hide at home all season, either. Though that can be tempting–or maybe that’s just me.

So give it some thought and discussion with your family and decide in advance how much you will do. Maybe that means only one extra commitment a week. Or maybe you decide to pass on something you’ve always attended. It’s good to be in the mix. We can’t completely withdraw. But after you’ve punched the card and put a few things in the planner, don’t feel pressured to accept the rest.

It can also be useful to have a predetermined “out” if you know you might need to leave a place early. Talk about this ahead of time too. For an introvert, large gatherings can be draining, and you might need to slip out before the event is over. Know your limits.

I also find that it’s helpful at these types of things if I give myself a job. (Like volunteering to hand out programs or line up kids. Or offering to keep the punch bowl full.) If I have a little focus, I don’t feel lost in a sea of people, not knowing what on earth to talk about.

Make Time to Make the Holidays Meaningful for You

If you’re the kind of person that loves a small, intimate gathering, why not have a couple good friends over for games? Take time away from the running around and really connect with the folks who get you.

Give yourself permission to have the solitude you need to recharge. For some of us, that means getting up before everyone else to have a few moment to ourselves. I find this really helps me when the evening before was packed full of activity and people.

Spend some of that time with God, reading the Bible and praying that He would help you to stay focused on Thanksgiving and the birth of Christ. And that He would give you strength to be gracious and friendly in those more awkward situations.

My weeks, like yours, are already filling up. I’m finding that quiet evenings with my family, board games, reading–all help me to get a little relaxation and peace. These days, I have to make myself just stop, get off the computer, put away the to do list and leave it for another day.

Cause this introvert really does love this time of year.

Do you have an introvert in your home? How do come away and recharge this time of year?


Weekend Gratitude

It was a cold, winter like weekend here. A weekend for comfy pants and blankets and all sorts of little gifts and blessings to count.

herbal remedies

Like stocking up on herbal remedies (and a few gifts) from a local herbalist.

beef

And picking up a quarter of a beef from the butcher. So grateful for meat in the freezer!

sewing skirt

For a sewing project finished.

snowflakes

The Star Wars snowflakes my husband and oldest daughter made.

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My boy, sighting in his gun for hunting season. When did he get so grown up?

fire

Plenty of toasty fires.

loading wood

And little girls helping load up fire wood.

cold ella

And, well, this is just cute. I can’t help it.

ella reading

Plus, she’s started to read just about everything in sight. That thrills this homeschooling momma’s heart!

Look for the little gifts this week. And don’t forget to say “thank you.”


Our Simple, Allergy Friendly Thanksgiving Menu (and a gluten free gravy tutorial)

Say the words “Thanksgiving Dinner” and most everyone has instant recall of their family’s traditional dishes. Some of us grew up with the green bean casserole. Or sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top. I’ve got those same memories.

But somewhere along the way, our Thanksgiving dishes have changed just a bit. From a distance, it might look much the same as any other table across the country. My pumpkin pie probably looks just like the one on your table. Or maybe even the one out of a box.

Since my daughter was diagnosed with several food allergies a few years ago, our family has made the shift to many wheat and dairy free dishes. Then as we learned more about real food, we moved from simply allergy free to real, nourishing ingredients. Put that together and what you get is a real, tasty, healthy holiday that is also safe for my daughter.

So if you’re looking for some inspiration this week, or maybe you have a recent allergy diagnosis and you’re scrambling to come up with some recipes, here’s what we’ll be feasting on this Thanksgiving.

Herb Rubbed Roasted Turkey

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Before I roast the big old thing, I make a rub of thyme, rosemary, sage, parsley, lemon zest, salt and pepper. I bring it all together with olive oil until it’s a paste. This gets rubbed all over the bird and under the skin.

Pretty standard. And your traditional turkey recipe will probably be just fine. We have to avoid a butter rub to stay dairy free and I try to get a bird that doesn’t have any gluten in the broth injection that most commercial poultry has. (I’ve been told that Honeysuckle is gluten free, so that’s what we’ll have this year.)

The Sides

  • My daughter gets her own side of dairy free mashed potatoes. These are easily made with either broth or unsweetened coconut milk.
  • We skip the cream of scary stuff and serve home canned green beans prepared with bacon drippings.
  • Sweet potatoes are roasted and seasoned with salt and pepper and maybe a drizzle of real maple syrup.
  • And my favorite fall/winter salad usually joins us. Baby spinach, mandarin orange slices, dried cranberries, sliced red onion, toasted almonds, feta and vinaigrette. It’s crunchy, tangy, sweet and salty all in one yummy bowl!

The Bread Group

I have to confess I don’t have some magical recipe for gluten free stuffing. Truth is, it’s not my daughter’s favorite thing, so I don’t worry about having that for her. But the girl still wants her bread! We recently tried these rolls from Allergy Free Alaska and they are awesome!

The Pie

dairy free pie from godairyfree.org

You gotta have pumpkin pie, right? But when I could no longer make it with that condensed or evaporated milk, or dairy milk of any kind, I was at a loss. I spent a lot of time scouring the internet, and this recipe from Go Dairy Free is definitely our favorite. I honestly can’t tell the difference. (I do up the spice amounts in the recipe, though.)

For gluten free you could try this pie crust (I’ll be giving it a first go myself this year) or one of the many Paleo pie crusts out there made with almond flour.

The Gravy Group

Yes the gravy group. It deserves it’s own classification as far as I’m concerned. And I’m not talking about that gravy in a jar or brown gravy mix stuff. This is as real as gravy gets. And it’s not a dirty word like so many would have us to believe. When you make your gravy with drippings or nutrient rich bone broth, it becomes a very nourishing food, indeed.

So I thought I’d give a little gluten free gravy tutorial to all those embarking on this homemade, allergy friendly gravy train for the first time. There are many ways. This is how we do it.

  • The roux. Like most homemade gravy, mine starts with the roux. But regular butter is out for my little one. As is wheat flour. So most of the time, I’ll start my gravy with 2-3 TB of clarified butter, bacon drippings or palm shortening. Just so you have some fat to get all mingled with the flour. When it’s all melty, whisk it up with the same amount (2-3 TB) of rice flour. I like sweet rice flour (Amazon affiliate link) for thickening since it adds a little stickiness. (Think sticky jasmine rice) When it’s all whisked together, let it bubble away on medium heat for just a couple minutes to cook the flour and get it a little less grainy in texture.

102_0376This pic is from an onion/beef gravy I made. But the process is still the same.

  • The broth. Your gravy is all about the broth. If you can, I recommend making a quart or two of stock (either chicken or turkey will work here) before the big day to add to the drippings from your turkey. Slowly whisk in the broth, making sure to work out all the lumps before adding more in. I’d say about a quart of broth would do. But you can add more if you like. (We like a lot of gravy here.) We’ll adjust the thickening one more time at the end.
  • The seasoning. I really like to add a generous pinch of dried thyme (or fresh if you have it) plenty of pepper and salt to taste. If your broth was salted, you won’t need much.
  • The starch. Yes, we need to thicken things up again. I really don’t like using all rice flour to thicken my gravies. I think they tend to get a little grainy if you use too much. But I don’t love it thickened with all starch, either. It reminds me too much of the cafeteria gravy goop. My preferred gluten free gravy method is a little flour and a little starch. So at this point, you’d put about a 1/4 cup of broth or even water if you have to (room temperature) and 2+ rounded TB of potato starch (could use corn or arrowroot starch too, but I like potato best) into a small jar. Seal tightly with a lid and shake, shake, shake. Stir this slurry into the gravy. If you’d like it a bit thicker, you can do it all over again. It’s up to you to adjust to your family’s preference, and the amount of broth that you’re working with.

So there’s the process. And there’s the menu. It’s nothing super fancy. When you start with real food, you can let the simple, quality ingredients shine. Gives me more time to enjoy the family and keeps everyone’s bellies happy!

Just one other note…

If you’re looking for ways to make over all your traditional favorites, like stuffing, cream of something soups and more, take advantage of the sale on Kitchen Stewardship’s book Better Than aBox. It’s 50% off now through Thanksgiving. Just use the code TDAY50 at checkout.

This post contains affiliate links. Same price for you. Small commission for me on products I really do love! Thanks!


Thanksgiving Decorations That Inspire–Monthly Post at Modern Alternative Mama

Who decorates for Thanksgiving anymore? Doesn’t the entire nation jump straight from Halloween to Christmas? Well, not everyone. Not this family.

Today I’m sharing our simple, kid friendly Thanksgiving projects and decorations to inspire some gratitude in your household. Come visit me over at Modern Alternative Mama!

thanksdecor.jpg


Teaching the History in Thanksgiving

In my 7 years of homeschooling, I’ve grown to appreciate the rhythm of the holidays throughout the year as built in teaching tools. So on Columbus Day every year, we discuss or read about the great explorations and discoveries in North America. On President’s Day, we go over some of the great presidents of our past.

It’s nothing too in depth or elaborate. But with the yearly repetition, my kids easily internalize the stories and all of it becomes a part of their experience. (Not unlike the repetition of spiritual days/practices like The Lord’s Supper, Good Friday or Passover. This was God’s original plan of instruction and remembering for His people.)

The same opportunity is there with Thanksgiving. You can make it as detailed or simple as you want. Either way, year after year, your kids will remember more. And they’ll look forward to the retelling, adding in what they remember and participating in the ritual of remembering.

Here are some resources you might want to consider.

Thanksgiving Books

(I’ve given you Amazon links so you can take a look at all these books. But they are usually available at your local library.)

The Pilgrims First Thanksgiving

Full illustrations but interesting enough to hold older children’s attention.

If You Were At the First Thanksgiving

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I’ve not used this book before, but most of the “If You Were…” series are really good. And it seems my local library has it!

Thanksgiving on Thursday

The Magic Tree House books are really great early historical readers. Even good for a quick read aloud!

Sara Morton’s Day–A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl, Samuel Eaton’s Day–A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy

We love these books and pick them up at the library almost every year to give the kids a taste of life for the Pilgrims.

Life in the Pilgrim Colony History Pockets

We’re using the Revolutionary War pockets right now and I’m loving this fun, hands on aid to augment our regular history reading. I definitely plan to pick this one up next year for my youngest and I to do together.

Thanksgiving Movies

I just recently purchased Drive Thru History: American History–Special Addition. It’s a 6 DVD set of U.S. History starting at the beginning and ending at Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. It’s fun, informative and engaging for older kids. I really enjoy it too!

And don’t forget about Netflix! If you have a subscription, be sure to check out all the documentaries they have. We usually have to preview them first, but there are tons of great options to add to your homeschool.

Thanksgiving Printables and Unit Studies

The internet is full of free, ready made printables to add to all your Thanksgiving lessons and activities. Just a quick search and a printer is all you need. Here’s a few to get you started…(Please preview the information in these sites and use according to your family’s needs and views.)

Field trip possibilities

We love historical field trips! And they are a great way to give your kids a taste of life from long ago. Though you might not be able to find exact replicas from 1612, any location with recreations of colonial America or even the pioneers will give them a sense of what life was like long ago. Check with your local tourist bureau or state parks office to see what’s nearby.

We’ve still got some time before the big day. Plenty of time for you to work a little of this into your homeschool days. Maybe you decide to go all out and do a history or unit study on this time period, complete with recreating traditional dishes or taking a field trip to a museum. Or maybe you just pick up a few library books and print out a coloring page or two.

Whatever you choose, see if you can make it an annual part of your homeschooling year. It will become an easy, built in chance to teach history, and over the years, your kids will surprise you with all they remember!

How do you teach the history in Thanksgiving to your kids?

Affiliate disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Same prices for you, but a small commission for me. Thanks!