Reviving Motherhood

Learning on the Journey


31 Days to a Kitchen You Love Day 3, Plus Chicken Spinach Salad Recipe With Honey Lime Dressing

{image source: google}

Before I get to my 31 Days post, here’s another kitchen tidbit.  I made the yummiest salad for lunch and it was so good I thought I’d pass on the recipe!

Chicken Spinach Salad w/ Honey Lime Dressing


Cubed cooked chicken

Chopped avocado

Pumpkin seeds (or whatever nuts/seeds you like)

Throw it all in a bowl and top with this dressing:

Juice of 1 lime

1 T. olive oil

1 t. honey

Whisk together and toss salad with dressing, salt and pepper if desired.  So delicious, and great for these autumn days that are still warm!   (Although today actually feels like fall and I’m so thrilled!)

Later this week I hope to plant a winter garden–lettuce, turnip greens, spinach, and onions.  Salad greens are so easy to grow.  Isn’t the idea above a cute one?  I never would have thought of planting a container garden in an old wagon!

On to more about the kitchen window:

So I’m enjoying my lovely white valance.  Today my goal is to clean up the rest of the window.  The shades are dusty and the sill seems to catch clutter.  I also need to wash the window.  A secret:  I never wash windows.  **Blushing with shame**  I am just so excited if I can get the floor mopped.  But I don’t want smudges and smears blocking all that natural light, do I?

I’m using vinegar and water, just as I do for my mirrors.  The vinegar smell is a little offensive (although it fades quickly) so I made orange peel  vinegar according to Rhonda’s instructions.  Would you believe I can’t find the post now?  Do click over and visit her lovely simple living blog!

The gist of it is that you put orange peels in a glass jar, cover with white vinegar, put the lid on and let it sit for a few weeks.  Much better!

So tell me, am I the only window-washing slacker?


For the rest of these 31 Days posts, go here.

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31 Days to a Kitchen You Love, Day 2: Window Treatments

{Keeping it real, I actually took a pic of my window but I have a sleeping baby on my lap and can’t upload the picture right now.  So I borrowed this one from Lissa at Keep it Simple, Keep it Fresh…Hers is much cuter!  Go visit her amazing blog!}


The kitchen window holds sweet memories for me, not the least of which is that the first time I saw my now-husband was through the kitchen window!  My sister and I spent many, many, MANY hours washing dishes together (for our family of 7, sans dishwasher, cooking everything from scratch).  It’s probably where I learned more about diligence and faithfulness than anywhere else, for the dishes march on whether you wash them or not—so they’d better get done!  I spend lots of hours doing dishes as an adult, with the kids’ help.  I’m sure they’ll put in their fair share of time at that sink with the window above it, so why not make it a pretty spot?

I love natural light.  Nothing lifts my spirits more.  My large kitchen in this house only has one window, but it’s a good size and it’s in the standard place over the sink!  It’s been plain for most of the 4 years I have lived here.  The first thing I wanted to do in this mini makeover is to dress it with a pretty little valance!

I checked the retail stores but they didn’t have what I was looking for, and besides, I’m too thrifty to pay $15 a panel.  When I peeked into my favorite thrift store, there was a perfect set of 2 white valances for $2.50.   {Side note: thrifting pays!}

I have always loved The Nester’s idea of window mistreatments.  Although these are real curtains, I mistreated them a little.  One had a tiny stain near the end.  I will tell you a little secret, I just hacked it off.  No one’s the wiser.  My window is wide, too wide for a single valance.  I used both and scrunched them together.  The Nester’s words have inspired me so many times:  It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful!

What about you?  Do you have window treatments or do you prefer to keep your windows plain?  Is there something you want to change about your windows?

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31 Days to a Kitchen You Love

We’ve all heard, I suppose, that the kitchen is the heart of the home. And traditionally it was. These days it’s more likely to be the place where we pour a bowl of cereal or zap a premade meal in the microwave.

But for those of us with a few kids who want to feed our families healthfully or have special dietary needs, the kitchen becomes a place where we spend a LOT of time. So why shouldn’t it be the heart of the home, the best place in the house, the place where people are drawn to hang out and where we love to cook? We’re going to spend many hours there each day anyway; why not make it a place of blessing, abundance, and beauty? The place where conversations happen and memories are made?

I’m joining The Nester and her friends for 31 days of posting. Each participant chooses her own topic. Mine is 31 Days to a Kitchen You Love. This comes at a perfect time for me, since I had already planned to revamp my kitchen while spending almost nothing. A remodel would be nice, but until then I want to make the best of the kitchen I have, even if it’s not perfect. Truly, I have a great kitchen in size and shape. Before baby was born I did quite a bit of organizing, but in the ensuing chaos of learning to live with 5 small children, it’s quickly fallen into disarray. Over the next month I’m looking forward to doing some small thing each day to make it work better, and to make it a prettier and more fun place to be. And each day (fingers crossed), I’ll write a bit about it.

After all, the journey I haltingly chronicle on my sporadic little blog is what I learn about being a better mom, and that includes even the “have to,” mundane parts of life like tidying the pantry. But it’s much more than that. I want to become a better and more organized cook, I want to learn more how to nourish my family well, and how to nurture and disciple them in the small, daily bits of life, even while we’re cooking supper or washing dishes. The kitchen can be a place of disorder and drudgery, or it can be a sanctuary of worship as we practice God’s presence in the everyday and ordinary. I love the way Ann Voskamp says it…Because all of life flames with God…

Will you join me?

Day 2: Window Treatments

Day 3: Cleaning up the Window, plus Chicken Spinach Salad w/Honey Lime Dressing Recipe

Day 4: Countertops, Inspiration via Nigella Lawson, and a thought about kids in the kitchen

Days 5 and 6: Hey friends, I haven’t forgotten about 31 days. The past couple have been insane, but there is so much going on in my mind and heart that I want to share asap! I had to download the wordpress ap just so I could write this update since I can’t even get to the computer…hopefully tomorrow! Ironic that just when the thoughts begin to flow, I am hindered! Bear with me please!

Day 7~Just trying to breathe today, I shared a couple lovely kitchen links!

Day 8: Love Jesus.  Love People. 

Day 9: Oops!

Day 10: Make Nontoxic Cleaners

I’m afraid I’m failing miserably at my attempt at 31 days, so I’m going to delete my button from the link-up.  I’m glad I did it but my posts have been sub par.  What I’ve learned through this is that I don’t have time to blog daily no matter how much I want to, and I’d rather have quality poss less often than obligatory posts every day.  Thanks for reading!

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The Emotional Aspects of Food Allergies, Part 2

{Cute pic, not sure WHAT THE HECK the caption means though!}

If you are the one with new food allergies, my heart goes out to you. Hopefully your family is doing all they can to make this transition as easy as possible for you. It can be hard for them too. Here are a few ways you can show love to those who care for you and live with you as you deal with food allergies.

 Express thanks. Most likely the person who does the shopping and cooking is pouring a lot of time and energy into helping you. Sometimes they will try a new food or recipe with good intentions and it will fail, you won’t like it, or it feels like you are eating the same thing a lot. Thank them for their effort anyway. It will get better, and feeling appreciated is a great motivator to your caregiver. When my husband affirmed my efforts, I felt like a boulder had rolled off my shoulders just to know he could tell I was trying my best to help.

 Offer input; communicate. Be part of the solution. Look for recipes, be willing to try new things, ask if the family could look for a safe option for your favorite foods. Let them know what you miss the most or what you’d like to try.

 Check your attitude. You have suffered a loss—not like a death, but still a loss. There is a lot of emotion tied up in foods (especially celebration foods), so let yourself go through the grieving process as you let go of those old things and learn to enjoy new ones. Hopefully your family will honor your feelings. However, also focus on all you can eat and the yummy options that are available. Seek to be positive as much as you can. The world is still a delicious place! You will have times of sadness and even anger, but try not to take them out on your family who loves you most.  And don’t begrudge your family members foods they can have that you can’t. One of the sweetest and most mature things my daughter does is to let her siblings enjoy an occasional treat without making them feel guilty.

 Don’t complain. Have you ever been around an old person who wants to tell you about her blood pressure, her gout, the corn on her foot, the latest visit to the doctor, and every detail of every health problem? No one enjoys that conversation. No one wants to hear about all the things you can’t eat either. I hope I don’t sound heartless here, but there are many other things to focus on in conversation besides your health problems. Unless the person asks, has similar issues, or offers you an unsafe food, it’s best to keep talk about your allergies to yourself (especially in social situations). Constantly bringing up your allergies makes others uncomfortable. It’s socially unacceptable, just as it’s unacceptable for me to bring up health problems I may have. Find other things to talk about.

 Have hope. At first it seems hard, but you will eventually find food options you enjoy. If you are young, you may outgrow your allergies. Also, some people claim to have overcome food allergies with special diets. Maybe that is an option for you. This trial did not take God by surprise. He wants to do great things through it. Look forward with hope!

Find Part 1 here

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The Emotional Aspects of Food Allergies, Part 1

I’m sure anyone with limitations of some kind finds that there are specific emotional issues that come into play in addition to logistical ones. I’m starting a 3-part mini series about how to deal with the emotional aspects of food restrictions. Just remember, I’m right in the throes of figuring this out, but here’s what I’ve discovered so far. 10 years from now hopefully I’ll know a lot more.

 First I’d like to address the caregiver, since that’s the perspective I deal with on a daily basis. As caregiver, you probably don’t know exactly what your family member is going through unless you have been there, no matter how you try to empathize. So don’t act as if you do. But here are a few things you can do to help.

 Be positive. Try not to act inconvenienced by having to prepare special foods or change the way you cook to accommodate those with allergies. I’ve succeeded at this some of the time and failed some of the time.

 Be as creative as you can with the resources you have. Just keep trying things within your family members’ limitations. Don’t become discouraged if something is a bust or if no one likes it. Pick yourself up and try again. I have a (albeit short) running list of foods that were a big hit. I’m rotating them back through the meal plan. I also have a list of things they don’t like or are tired of. I’m always on the lookout for new things to try. I keep a list of those on my fridge, along with where I found the recipe for future reference. This is constantly at the forefront of my mind when I plan meals, shop, and think about food.

 Offer non-food rewards and treats. The kids and I came up with a long list the other day, which I’ll post this week. Gently move your family away from the idea that celebration always means food.

 Honor the grieving process. Your family member hasn’t lost a loved one, so of course it’s not that kind of grief, but they have experienced a loss. Throughout history and cultures, food has held an important place in memory, celebration, and tradition. There’s so much emotion tied to food memories and experiences. When your child realizes that he’ll never again be able to enjoy Grandma’s famous peanut brittle or eat cousin Johnny’s birthday cake, it brings feelings of isolation and loss. Be gentle and understanding. Don’t take it personally if your family member is angry or sad. This doesn’t mean you have to coddle them, just respect their feelings.

 Focus on atmosphere. You might not have a lot of variety on your table, but you can still clean the dining room, light a candle, put on some soft music, add a pretty centerpiece, and use real dishes. Offer a blessing. Guide the family toward uplifting conversation at the table. At our house we each share the best thing that happened that day. We’ve also enjoyed conversation starter games. Good conversation and a pleasing atmosphere can make even a simple meal fun. The table should be a safe and positive place. Will this happen 100% of the time? No, but it’s something to shoot for. Remember Proverbs 17:1: “Better a dry crust eaten in peace than a house filled with feasting—and conflict.”

Find Part 2 here

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Dark Chocolate Clusters-Dairy Free, No Refined Sugar

1 box Baker’s unsweetened baking chocolate

1/4 c. coconut oil

1/2 c. honey

4 cups any combination of dried fruits, nuts, and seeds.  (Our current fave is coconut and craisins–I know, craisins have some sugar…boo!)

Place chocolate in microwaveable bowl.  Microwave for 1 1/2 minutes.  Add coconut oil and honey.  Microwave for another minute.  Stir until chocolate is smooth.  Stir in dried fruit/nuts/seeds.  Drop onto wax paper and freeze.  When they are hard, you can put them in a container.  They hold their shape at room temperature but get a little soft.  I like to keep mine in the fridge or freezer.  Makes about 16.

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Thrifty Curtains

Excuse the horrible picture quality.  I’m such a novice with my camera.  But I wanted to talk a little bit about thrifty decorating.  DISCLAIMER: I’m no decorator, as anyone who has been to my house can tell you.

I’m learning.

I have never been good at decorating, first because I just didn’t know how, and secondly because I didn’t feel I could justify the cost.  I wrote once about how I spent a lot on some bedroom drapes once and vowed never again.  I have read a lot of blogs by women who have created beautiful homes on the cheap for their entire lives (one of my favorites is The Cultivated Nest).  They encouraged me that I could do it too, so I started trying to think outside the retail box.   At Christmas I created some pretty window treatments with clearance curtains and ring clips and I was happy with the change but it was a lot of red.  For $9 I could live with it, though.

The other day I was at the thrift store.  Yes, I shop there.  I will have to write a post one day about coming out of the thrift store closet.  I have found so many treasures (often new with tags) for pennies on the dollar.  Anyway, Tuesday the ladies were putting out their new stock and one of them asked me “Are you looking for curtains?  These just came in.  They’re $12.”

Well, I wasn’t sure but I grabbed them anyway.  Nice curtains and drapes go quickly at the thrift store and I wanted to have them in my hands in case anyone else was looking too!  In the end I decided that since these curtains would go well in our room and they were clean and in perfect condition, I’d shell out the $12.

I’m SO glad I did!  I washed them and hung them the next day.  They were too thin and filmy to block out as much light as I needed, so I did sew a double lining on the back, using flat sheets I had.  (My kids hate sleeping with flat sheets, so yay me, when I buy a sheet set I have extras for projects like this.)

There’s no real profound purpose to this post except to encourage you all that we can make pretty changes in our homes that don’t cost a lot.  I constantly hear women say “I can’t decorate because I don’t have much money.”  I am realizing that is not true!

While I was at it I gave the rest of my room a mini makeover, mostly just decluttering and changing a few items from darks to light, neutral colors.  Let me tell you about this rocking chair.  When my oldest was born, a friend gave it to me.  She had used it in her son’s nursery.  (He is in high school now!)  My babies and I have logged MANY hours in this chair!  The denim upholstery had become faded and worn and didn’t match anything else I had, and I thought about replacing it.  But since this little one is our last, I wanted to use it for sentimental reasons.  It’s sweet to rock my littlest fella in the same chair I’ve used to rock all my other babies.

Throwing a (wrinkled) sheet over the chair works and extended the life of my favorite rocker.  So again–cheap and easy.  I like it and that’s what matters.  I’m no designer, but I’m trying to keep open eyes for inexpensive ways to make home a pretty, comfortable place for my little family.  To me, that’s the fun of homemaking!