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welcome

If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.

C. S. Lewis

Hello Friends,

Welcome to my new blog!

I have decided to start a blog as a creative outlet to share my passions. I will be chatting to you about seasons of life, faith, fashion and places that I discover on this journey.

Click subscribe and join in the fun!

Yours truly,

Courtney

Lament

“…my heart fails me.”

Psalm 40: 12b

Before I get far in this post, please note, this is about recent events. If this is for some reason a trigger or you have strong opinions or views on them, this might not be the space for you. I am solely sharing my soul searching perspective and experiences that I have faced and how I am using the word of God and other supportive resources to talk about Lamenting.

There has been a mighty wave of troubling events that have happened across our nation. I will be honest, I had to disconnect myself from the news. When events happen the news often fixates on one perspective or jumps to conclusions. I am a processor, I have to sit in things, think them out, and see where it takes me. I like to analyze facts and utilize scripture to guide my processing. I haven’t mastered it, but it is an area where God has been working drastically and I cannot deny that.

Lament

What: raw, honest emotions, not to be hidden or ashamed of

When: the pain is too much, prayers don’t get answered they way we had hoped

We can make it a priority to allow ourselves and others space to express our pains. We are so quick to judge everyone’s feelings and thoughts toward the pandemic, health and political things. Our need is to meet with Jesus and give grace to people who are looking and searching for answers.

We know the truth and answers are found in God, but some of us are investigators, some of us process through talking, some us run toward extremes and later retract. Our processing isn’t meant to be judged, we all were made uniquely by God and our purposes are each vastly different.

Let’s continue to encourage each other and support each other where we are. There is no reason to rush us toward certain perspectives for we still are seeking the heavenly one.

Friends, let’s not forget to give the abundance of grace that we have been given.

a prayer

There is so much going on and it seems like I can’t process events quick enough before something else happens. I try my best to disengage political things, but it is really hard for me to disengage things that are centered around justice. That is something I am passionate about however lately feel like my ideal justice is skewed. I am still processing all the things, so I continue to process and you probably are continuing to process.

Let’s pray together, friends.

Lord Almighty,

we draw near to you, our refuge, our protector.

we seek your truth, you are just.

we lift up to you circumstances in our country, you have a plan, you have a will.

we run to you. you are our helper.

we pray for the families impacted by the events that continue to cover the news.

we pray over the news channels and the politicians that are making challenging decisions.

remind us of the hope.

remind us that you are near.

remind us you are caring.

remind us you comfort the weary and brokenhearted.

we can cry out to you.

America

✨ Come back Thursday as I share the things I am learning about lamenting.

  • Courtney

Guilt + Shame

Let’s talk about a topic we often neglect but carry with us more than we realize.

Guilt + Shame are the feelings of being insecure, unworthy, never enough, inadequate, never measuring up and a failure.

It seems like there is an ongoing theme that appears in our stories and our day to day lives. We tend to have conversations in our head that are shaped around guilt and shame. They can be sneaky and be deceiving without us being able to detect it.

Here is why we need to talk about guilt + shame:

  1. We all have bits and pieces of guilt + shame in our lives. We can all relate to each other when we share the inner dialogue that we have in our heads. When we share these vulnerable thoughts, it brings awareness of them and we can encourage one another.
  2. It can be isolating. The enemy wants and so deeply desires to isolate us. Covid-19 is definitely not helping either. Guilt + Shame isolates us from the truth of our identity. We are worth more than the actions we’ve made. The actions do not have to define us.
  3. Our pasts, our sin, our struggles with balancing worldly views and our eternal perspective are just a gentle reminder that we are not designed to go through this life alone. This battle with our inner heads is meant to lead us to God and to a community that will listen anything you have to say.
  4. God designed you, gave you a purpose, and pursues you daily. You are created uniquely and God has gifted you life. Life that is meant to be abundant and filled with freedom that the Lord offers.

When we share our stories about our lives, there is so much power in what we have experienced and where God has brought us. Our stories matter. Yes, even your story has God woven in it and you might not realize that we both struggled with something similar. Our struggles, our seasons of grief, our dating relationships, our friendships and our families all shape us. They do not define us, but they do help guide ourselves and others into understanding why we react in certain ways or why we are constantly searching for something.

Scripture:

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

We each have been redeemed, bought and ransomed. His overflowing grace and steadfast love for us sent His son to take our place so that we could live fully.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

We are new. Fresh start. Wiped Clean. White as snow. New identity.

“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17)

We have been rescued and saved from ourselves. Our sin and anything we’ve done and will do.

  • Take a moment today to reflect on where you allow guilt + shame to take over
  • Share your story with a friend
  • Pray together about ways we can seek the gift given to us and embrace the freedom offered to us

Upgrade that Salad

Hello there, 👋🏽

We all have those cravings for the traditional salads like a tuna salad in the summer. Stock up your pantry with some cans of tuna so you are always prepared for your craving. It is a refreshing option, light and simple to make on the fly.

I wanted to offer you two ways to make the most of your tuna salad the next time you make it. Let’s talk about these ideas that are going to blow your mind.

tuna salad

Add these ingredients to your liking

some mayo (we use vegan mayo)+ lemon + salt + pepper.

Pick a nuts and/ or a fruit (we love walnuts and or some grapes)

Throw the salad on some lettuce and top with a deliciously ripe avocado.

This next one is going to surprise you, it surprised me! It has apples in it, so originally it threw me off.

Stuffed Sweet Potato with Tuna

Can of tuna

white onion

2 stalks of celery

green apple ( thin slices)

Lemon

Sweet Potato

I prepared the meal by making the tuna salad first and heated up the sweet potato in the microwave when I was wanting to eat it. When you microwave a sweet potato make sure to stab it multiple times so it doesn’t explode in the microwave. (This is not from experience at all 😉)

I hope these two upgrades help your tuna salad cravings!

Enjoy,

Courtney

Meal Planning Tips 2

Today, we are going to hear from Julie about mealing planning in her home. I love being able to hear more ways and tips about mealing planning. We have so much to gain from her perspective as well.

Julie likes to follow a Stepwise Approach to meal planning. One that focuses on family favorites and looking at the week ahead! Below is a recap of the approach that works for us!

  • 1) make a list (to keep) of you and your families “go to” or favourite meals 
    • Keep it in your kitchen, recipe book, phone, add to when you find new favs. If you don’t have a list you spend more time wondering what to cook
  • 2) look at your schedule for the week ahead (plan to do this by Friday, assuming you will grocery shop on Saturday).
    • Determine what nights you have time to cook a quick meal and what nights you need to have a pre-cooked meal you can heat up. Thursdays is almost always breakfast night at our house. 
  • 3) Choose your 3 meals from your “go to” recipe list to make for the week. Throw in a new one if you like.
    • Choose only 1 new recipe each week. The week could look like: cook Sunday, leftovers Monday, cook Tuesday, Wednesday, Breakfast or leftovers Thursday.  Eat out Friday, eat out saturday or grill at home, can do a meal that takes longer, cook with your family.
  • 4) choose 2-3 items you and your family will have for breakfast, lunch (can be some of your leftovers from dinners), and snacks. 
    • For lunch I have a salad and send leftovers with my husband and sometimes to school with kids. NEVER throw away anything!
  • 5) make a grocery list of what you need for those recipes and other meals/snacks
  • 6) on Saturday, head to the grocery store with your list.
    • Buy only items in your list unless there is some amazing looking produce. Use coupons and the Kroger app (great for lower prices on Simple Truth organic items) use grocery delivery services to save time and money
  • 7) on Sunday, carve out those 1-2 hours to prep for the week and set yourself up for success!
    • This might look like boiling eggs, roasting veggies, chopping some veggies for the week ahead for salads. I do this in the afternoon or when I am prepping for dinner to make the most of my time in the kitchen.
  • Prep for the next day:
    • Night before 
      • Plan what’s for breakfast
      • Make lunches and lunch boxes while getting dinner together (get family involved.  As I plan for weeknight meals, I try to choose 2 meals that make for hot lunches for the kids. Spaghetti, chicken noodle soup, lasagna, lemon and garlic shrimp pasta, fried rice, hamburger helper.
      • Set out any items you need for dinner (meat from freezer,etc)

Hope these tips help your meal planning, I’m going to prep my veggies right now,

Courtney

our bathroom update::

Social distancing has allowed the time and space for me to get some household updates started. I wanted to share with you our bathroom update. I am going to call it phase 1 because its not completed. We wanted to start with some cosmetic changes and our hope is to complete it all gradually. I will keep you posted as it progresses.

We started with paint, I have been struggling to find the right neutral colored background. Originally, it was painted grey and was on the search for a softer grey. I went to the paint store for samples and was quickly disappointed with it appearing more blue than grey. My husband was excited about the “carolina” blue tint and I was not settled on it. After searching and searching, I settled on the Magnolia Home Paint. I decided to turn on my inner Joanna Gaines and decided to go with a Beige paint color. This color lightens up the bathroom and offers some great contrast to our black accents. The paint color we used is Soft Linen and can be purchased at Ace Hardware online.

The most exciting part of my decorating adventure was choosing the decoration and accents to transform the entire room. Researching light fixtures can be challenging especially on Amazon because you cannot tell how good the quality of the products are going to be until you receive them. I was pleasantly surprised in the light fixture that we ordered. Here is a link and the price was reasonable.

The mirror that was in our bathroom was large, heavy and standard. It needed a facelift. I was a tad nervous about trying to move the mirror and there being a hole behind it. The mirror easily shifted and lifted off the holders. I may have jumped in joy! Round mirrors are in right now, and the sizing of them varies a ton. I wanted to find the biggest one possible to make up for the one we were taking off. There is one at target that is 30″, but I looked on Amazon for something just tad bigger and was excited to find one that is approx 37″. Something I neglected to notice when I ordered it was that the mirror has a rubber trim, but I actually like it more that I thought I would. Here is a link to this mirror and is available in different colored trims.

Let’s talk about the finishing touches:

I was so excited to add some ethically made baskets to our bathroom. They come from several different places and are gorgeous on the wall. The medium size basket neutral and black detailed pattern comes from Maadili Collective and is made with artisans in Uganda. The tan trivet and and tiny basket came from Global Hues Market and they are both made by artisans in Rwanda. The final black basket was a Goodwill find.

I wanted the Hand Towel Holder and Toilet Paper Holder to have a sleek look and I found them at target in the Magnolia section of course. The Turkish towels came from Amazon.

The drawer handles and cabinet paint were found on Amazon.

Lastly, the towel hooks were found at Hobby Lobby. We originally ordered some from Amazon, but they didn’t come with instructions on how to install them so we returned them.

Phew, who knew that once you start a renovation it is hard to get to the finished point.

I believe I included all the details.

Let me know if you have any questions.

the dirty dozen

Want to use less harsh chemicals in your home? Don’t know where to start? One of the best ways to make your home more plant-based is to be aware of what ingredients you need to avoid in your personal care and cleaning products.

Let’s talk about the Dirty Dozen; the Dirty Dozen is a list of twelve ingredients that we suggest avoiding when choosing products for your home.

  1. BHA and BHT is an Endocrine disruptor and carcinogen and is used mainly in cosmetics as preservatives.
  2. Coal tar dyes are carcinogens and have a heavy metal toxicity; they are commonly found in processed foods, lipstick, hair dyes.
  3. DEA-related ingredients are also carcinogens; they are found in creamy or foaming products, such as moisturizers and shampoos.
  4. Dibutyl phthalates are Endocrine disruptors, as well as a reproductive toxicant; they are commonly used in nail care products.
  5. Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives are a carcinogen; they are used in a variety of cosmetics as preservatives.
  6. Parabens are Endocrine disruptors and they may interfere with male reproduction; they are used in cosmetics as preservatives.
  7. Parfum/Fragrance are carcinogens, and can cause neurotoxicity, allergies and skin sensitivities; they are used in variety of cosmetics to add aroma. Companies do not have to disclose the ingredients due to “trade secret”.
  8. PEG compounds: can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane which may be a carcinogen; this ingredient is commonly used as the base for cosmetic creams.
  9. Petrolatum is also carcinogen; it is used in hair products for shine, and as the moisture barrier in lip balms/sticks.
  10. Siloxanes are also Endocrine disruptors, as well as a reproductive toxicant; they are used in cosmetics to soften, smooth & moisten.
  11. Sodium laureth sulfates are carcinogens; they are used in foaming cosmetics, shampoos, cleansers, and bubble bath.
  12. Triclosans are also Endocrine disruptors, and can cause antibiotic resistance; they are found in toothpastes, cleansers, and antiperspirants.

WHAT IS AN ENDOCRINE DISRUPTOR?

Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that may interfere with the body’s endocrine system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and wildlife. According to the Environmental Working Group, “There is no end to the tricks that endocrine disruptors can play on our bodies: increasing production of certain hormones; decreasing production of others; imitating hormones; turning one hormone into another; interfering with hormone signaling; telling cells to die prematurely; competing with essential nutrients; binding to essential hormones; accumulating in organs that produce hormones.”

WHAT ARE SAFE AND EFFECTIVE ALTERNATIVES TO CHEMICAL FILLED HOUSEHOLD PRODUCTS? WHICH PRODUCTS WE CAN TRUST?

Young Living is known for its large selection of pure, authentic essential oils, but we also have a wide selection of safe, naturally derived, plant-based products for the entire home!The Young Living Thieves product line offers healthy alternatives for all your cleaning needs! We have everything from hand soap to laundry detergent. You can feel confident knowing that we don’t use any harsh chemicals and the entire line is infused with the powerful Thieves essential oil blend. You will feel empowered knowing that the Thieves line is pure enough for your family and still strong enough for your everyday life!

Start investigating and learning about your cleaning products

+ Get the ThinkDirty app and scan all your products. See how they score in terms of toxicity and start replacing the worst offenders!
+ Save a list of the Dirty Dozen and be sure to buy products free of them.
+ Make it easy for yourself and look into ALL the things Young Living offers. It’s SO much more than oils and I am forever thankful that I can get my cleaners and personal products from YL in my monthly wellness box and never worry that they are anything less than the best! They’ve got us covered for cleaning ALL the things (with ONE cleaner), laundry, dishes, bathing, moisturizing and pretty much everything else. It doesn’t get easier or higher quality.

Don’t want to wait and want to enroll now to start making a difference in your family’s wellness? I don’t blame you. Enroll as a Young Living member by visiting this link. Pick the kit you want to start with, select yes for Essential Rewards and using the kit toward your first wellness box. Pick out your next months box 50pv minimum (pv= $), and then check out.

I will then connect you to our community to help educate you on how to use your products and we will continue learning together. * You’ll be sent in the mail a few freebies from me (bug repellent wipe + a roller with a cute label.)

More wellness education and goodness is coming,

Courtney

ways to meal plan

For the next two weeks, you are going to hear from these two amazing women. Kari and Julie, they are sisters, and they share the ways meal planning has worked in their homes. We have so much to gain from their perspectives.

Kari is going to share with you what meal planning looks like in her household first. I met Kari virtually through a group called Believers in Business. I have three collaborations on my blog with different women who love God because I believe we have so much to learn from one another. Covid-19 has opened the door for relationships and businesses to look different. Some of this has been challenging, I truly felt God calling us to rally together and support one another.

“If you fail to plan you plan to fail.”

I know you’ve heard this phrase and even though we know it’s true, sometimes planning just doesn’t work!   It’s something that we cannot overlook if we aim to prioritize our health, so let’s go about it a different way.

We’ve got that traditional way of planning…. yeah the one that hasn’t worked for you no matter how many times you try it. It makes you feel like you need to be in the kitchen every nite of the week slaving away over the stove. The one that has a new recipe each nite of the week to try- and your family is less than thrilled. The one that you kinda quit before you really get started. Put that picture aside in your mind today and let us introduce you to a more realistic version of meal planning. At a Natural Shift, co-founders Julie and Kari  both go about it a little differently.  With kids that are different ages, we just plan a little differently- but the outcome is the same! 

Skip the drive through, we eat nutritious foods all the while making it flexible!

Leftovers are life, and that is my strategy! Instead of planning exactly what I’m going to have every night, I stock my fridge, pantry and freezer with whole foods that I can easily make various meals with. It’s never worked for me to try and think a week (or even further) in advance what I’m going to want that night. I make sure that I have those staples on hand and fresh foods ready to go. With 2 younger kids (ages 7 and 5)  I can make whatever we are feeling! 

Here are 4 ways that I love making leftovers interesting!

  • Make em crispy
    • Heat a little butter or other oil in a skillet and put your leftover veggies, or meat in. 
  • Throw it in a stir fry
    • This is always a good option when you have chicken, veggies and rice or noodles. I love adding coconut aminos over top for a sweet salty flavor. 
  • Plop it on a salad
    • I”ll put anything on a salad! You would be surprised how tasty roasted veggies, rice, potatoes or meats are simply put on a salad. Here are more instructions on how to make the perfect salad! 
  • Upgrade your toppings.
    • I’m ALLLL about the toppings! Here are some of my favs: marinated onions, hot sauce, garlic infused olive oil, nutritional yeast, sriracha, sauerkraut, special sauce, everything but the bagel seasoning, flakey sea salt. 

PS: I also utilize help with my prep. This is an excellent opportunity for all, see my tips below! 

These ideas are so good and helpful, I, Courtney, can’t wait to hear about how Julie does her meal planning.

In the meantime, go follow Kari on instagram and check out their website.

xoxo

Korean Bulgogi

There is something so special about recipes from your childhood. My mom received this Bulgogi recipe when I was younger and it has always been a sweet memory of our time in Cincinnati. I grew up in an area that had a Korean Adoptee Care Group, Korean school and an awesome yearly Korean New Year celebration. I was able to learn about Korean culture and most importantly taste the delicious food.

This is a picture of Bulgogi that has marinated for 24 hours. The seasoning is easy to whip up and prepare ahead of time. For the flavors to really soak into the meat, the longer you marinate the better it is going to taste.

Korean Bulgogi is also known as korean bbq and has been something that my family makes since I was little. I would consider this more of a traditional recipe because its sweet and not spicy.

Ingredients:

1 lb of lean beef- tenderloin or flank steak

1 T of sugar

1 T of rice wine

sauce ingredients:

2 1/2 T soy sauce

1 T sugar

1 T rice wine

1 clove garlic, finely crushed

1/2 t ginger root, finely crushed

2 medium. green onions, chopped or sliced

1 t sesame seed, toasted/ lightly pounded

1/8 t pepper

1 T water

Directions

  1. Cute the beef against the grain into thin slices; place in a bowl. Add sugar and wine; mix well. Let it stand for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Combine the seasoning sauce ingredients and mix well.
  3. Marinate meat in seasoning sauce at least 15 minutes (longer is better, overnight suggested) before cooking.
  4. Grill on a charcoal fire or oven broil at 450 F about one minute on each side or until brown.

Enjoy my favorite recipe!

Roasted Veggies

Roasted Veggies is one of my favorite things to do when it comes to putting a meal together. I love that you can roughly chop just about any veggie that you are using, add some oil + seasonings and toss it in the oven. Simple and easy. If you have been following along for a while you will see that I prefer simple + quick recipes over elaborate ones.

Check out this yummy side dish, the sauce is so good!

Recipe came from: Infotopharian

Ingredients
Roasted Cauliflower Steaks

  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • generous sprinkle of salt

Chimichurri Sauce

  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (add more if you want it spicier!)
  • 1/2 lemon, squeezed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
Chimichurri Sauce

  1. Begin making the chimichurri sauce an hour in advance in order to let the flavors meld together. Mince 4 cloves of garlic. Roughly chop both parsley and cilantro. 
  2. In a food processor or a blender, add the garlic and herbs. In addition, add oregano, red pepper flakes and a large pinch of salt. Squeeze in half of a lemon as well. Pulse these ingredients together until combined. Then, slowly, a bit at a time, add in the olive oil until it’s mixed together. Set it aside to let the flavors combine together. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Cauliflower Steaks

  1. Preheat the oven to 450.
  2. Basically, after making sure all of the leaves are off of the cauliflower but keeping the “stem” intact, cut it down the middle. Then, cut it in half again, making a thick cauliflower steak with each half.  Also, don’t worry if the smaller “steak” breaks off into little florets. Cauliflower can be easily breakable and finicky. As long as you get 2 large steaks, you’ll be fine!
  3. Once cut, carefully place them on a large baking sheet. Brush on olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt. Roast for 25 minutes. Halfway through the roasting time, carefully flip the steak and brush with olive oil. The cauliflower should be golden brown and delicious when you’re done.
  4. Once done, spread a generous amount of the chimichurri sauce on top and devour! Eat while hot. Enjoy! 

Enjoy this simple side dish and try it with other veggies!

Let me know what to try,

Courtney