Our First Jesse Tree: Advent 2015

At 7.5 months old, Little Miss is quite the mover and shaker. She is always, always on the go, unless she is sleeping, and naps taken anywhere not on Mommy are a luxury these days. Having a crawling, pulling up, getting into everything, putting everything into her mouth baby means that I do not have time for a whole lot of extra activities beyond what it really necessary on a daily basis. (You know, things like keeping everyone fed, in clean clothes and diapers, and just generally making sure everyone is healthy and relatively happy.) Homeschooling Little J has also taken some extra time, of course. Even though we usually spend less than 2 hours total actually sitting down to his lessons each day, it is still time that I might otherwise be doing something else.

All that is to say that planning and decorating for Christmas has been put sort of on the back burner this year. To be honest, Thanksgiving and the end of November rather took me by surprise! Suddenly, on November 30th, I realized that it was time for Advent, and I had nothing planned. I also failed to order the next set of Bible lessons that J needs to continue in our ABeka Bible curriculum, so I needed something to supplement with in the meantime, ASAP!

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Enter, the Jesse Tree! If you have never heard of this Advent tradition before, it is basically a way of following the story of the Bible from Creation to Jesus’ birth. The name comes from Isaiah 11:1 which refers to a branch coming from the “root of Jesse” (father of King David) as a prophetic announcement of the coming Messiah, Jesus! During each day of advent, you read a new Scripture passage and hang a new ornament on the tree, each one symbolizing the reading for that day. There are many ways to make ornaments for a Jesse Tree, some very simple and some quite elaborate! You can even purchase ornaments if you are not inclined to makeyour own.

I, of course, chose one of the simpler variations for us this year! Little J loves coloring right now, so I used a free printable from Life Your Way for the ornaments and printed them out on card stock for him to color. I need to get some red and green card stock to mount them, and then we will hang them on our miniature tree with ribbon. I found a lovely set of short Jesse Tree devotionals at My Favorite Kind of Crazy, so I read these while Little J colors. He is excited to see what the new picture will be for each day, and I like that it is something easy enough that we can do it while I feed the baby!

I have to say thanks to Kristi at Raising Clovers for inspiring me with her post about their own Jesse Tree party. Maybe some other year we will get all fancy and make some neat ornaments like they did with their friends!

How are you celebrating Advent this year? Have you used a Jesse Tree in your Christmas celebrations before? I would love to hear from you in the comments!

Whole30-ish: Week Two

Well, we made it through seven days of our Whole30(ish) diet, and we haven’t died or killed anyone yet! Apparently, it is pretty common in the first week to feel rather miserable, having a couple of days of headaches and general malaise, a day or two of irritability and crankiness and a couple of days of extreme tiredness. Hubby and I have not fallen exactly into that typical pattern, however.

The first 5 days I felt fine, no physical symptoms to complain about other than being extra hungry. Yesterday, I did feel extra tired, in spite of having the best night’s sleep I have had since Little Miss was born. I also started having some significant sugar cravings for things like ice cream, chocolate cake, etc. (It probably didn’t help that Little J was pretending to run an ice cream stand and had drawn and cut out several “flavors” of ice cream, complete with waffle cones, that he kept “selling” me!) This morning I still felt a little weary and also had a bit of a short fuse. Both feelings were pretty mild, though, not as bad as I expected.

Hubby had a few days of body aches and tiredness at the beginning. He seems to be feeling better now, but he has had a sudden breakout in one area on his face. I am not sure but have a theory that this is just another symptom of his detox process. I hope it doesn’t get any worse before it gets better.

Little J has seemed pretty much his normal self. I have been a little more relaxed with his diet, letting him have maybe one non-Whole30 food per day, although we do not have that much in the house right now anyway. But I do think he was having a bit of a sugar withdrawal today himself because this morning he asked for hot cocoa with his breakfast (I didn’t let him have any) and then was saying how he wished he could eat donuts later in the morning. He never asks for these sorts of things, so I can’t help but think it has to do with our change in eating.

So, here we are with 23 days to go! It doesn’t sound too bad, although I do worry that I am going to be very tired of potatoes when we get done! I am also concerned that our grocery budget may not be enough to keep up this sort of diet through the end of the month, but I hope we can make it. I spent much less this week than I did last week because I didn’t need to buy as much meat and still had a lot of dinner ingredients left. So maybe next week I will be able to spend even less. We shall see! Anyway, here are some of the meals I have planned for the next several days. (I am not including lunches or snacks this time as they will mostly be repeats from last week or leftovers from dinners.)

Breakfasts:

Turkey Sausage (homemade), eggs, cottage fried potatoes
Baked avocado egg cups, cinnamon baked apples
Sausage and sweet potato hash, leftover baked apples
Vegetable frittata, fried bananas
Nitrate-free bacon, eggs, acorn squash

Dinners:

Broiled Chicken Thighs and Wings, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, Wilted Spinach
Garlic Sautéed Shrimp, Sweet Potatoes, Garden Salad, Watermelon
Venison Pot Roast with Carrots, Onions and Red Potatoes, Broccoli, Salad
Fajita-style Chicken with cauli-rice, Roasted cabbage wedges, salad or fruit
Salmon patties, baked potatoes, broccoli, spinach apple salad
Grilled turkey burgers, steamed veggies, acorn squash, grilled peaches
Roast Chicken, green beans, roasted cubed potatoes, salad

And there you have it! Another 3 weeks plus a few days to go. I think we can do it! It isn’t easy, but I am hoping it will be well worth our effort in the end. And I am proud of myself for sticking to it for a whole week!

 

Whole30-ish: Week One

As promised earlier, here is my first post about our little Whole30 journey. If you have never heard of this eating plan before, you can check out the Whole30 website and learn more. Essentially, though, it is very similar to the Paleo diet: no dairy, no grains, no legumes and no sweeteners. I am not an expert on either diet, but I see Whole30 as being a short term way to “reboot” the digestive system while also breaking unhealthy cravings and thoughts about food. The focus is not really on losing weight but on detoxing from processed foods and sweeteners and changing the way you think about food, so things like making substitute baked goods using Whole30 approved ingredients is strongly discouraged. The creators encourage anyone wanting to do a Whole30 to focus on their goals and reasons for doing the program, especially when the cravings seem overwhelming or food choices seem boring.

Goals:

My personal goals/reasons for doing a Whole30 are: break my sugar addiction, give my gut some time to heal (after a recent bout with something that seemed a lot like IBS), and increase my nutrient intake for healthier breast milk production and postpartum mood. Because I am breastfeeding, I will be eating closer to 4 meals a day, or snacking more frequently. (Snacking is generally discouraged, but there are exceptions for BFing mothers since we need to keep our calorie intake high.) I am actually not trying to lose weight at this point, and I have never been able to eat very big meals, so I will be eating as much as I can at meals but still snack whenever I am hungry.

My husband agreed to do the Whole30 in hopes of healing, or at least drastically reducing, his adult acne. I think he also may have some adrenal fatigue due to his high stress job and working 6 days a week for a number of years, and I am hoping this month of clean eating will help with that.

Disclaimer:

All that being said, we are not going to be as strict with our Whole30 as the creators recommend, thus the “ish” attached in my title. First, we are not making our son eat totally Whole30 with us. At home we will all eat the same, but if we are at a friend’s house or at church, I am fine with him having dairy or his gluten free crackers, etc., just no sugary snacks. I will, however, be sending him fresh fruit on Sunday’s to substitute for the typical fruit snacks that he is usually given for snack during Sunday School. Also, we will still be using butter for a fat, and my husband may still snack on cheese sometimes. Our budget is such that even for just one month, Paleo style eating is going to be tricky for us, and I am ok with bending the rules ever so slightly so as not to break the bank. For example, I cannot find any nut or seed butters locally that do not have added sweeteners, and my food processor is just not cut out for making my own nut butters. So I made an exception and went with sunflower seed butter that does contain some evaporate cane juice. With those things in mind here are the meals and snacks I have planned and shopped for so far. This should last us through Week 1 and hopefully a good chunk of Week 2 also, since I spent a good portion of my July grocery budget already!

Whole30-ish Meals:

Breakfast
Vegetable Frittata
Bacon, eggs, smoothie w/ coconut milk
Turkey sausage, apples w/ nut butter, sweet potato hash
Potato vegetable fritters, scrambled eggs
Pumpkin coconut smoothie, turkey sausage, celery w/ nut butter

Lunches
Avocado Tuna salad on romaine lettuce, apples with nut butter, baked sweet potato
Turkey sliders in lettuce wrap, pickles/olives, zucchini “fries,” fruit
Dinner leftovers

Dinners
Grilled chicken thighs, baked potatoes, roasted broccoli and cauliflower, garden salad
Pan seared salmon, almond-crusted baked zucchini spears, boiled potatoes, garden salad
Venison pot roast with potatoes, carrots and onions, green beans almondine, garden salad
Pork roast with sauerkraut, roast potato wedges, sautéed zucchini and onion, apple spinach salad
Bratwurst, potato salad, coleslaw, watermelon
Oven-fried chicken wings (almond flour coating), mashed potatoes, steamed veggies, watermelon

Extra meals/snacks:
Sardines, salmon or tuna with lettuce
Olives and fresh cut veggies
Nuts, dried fruit and shredded coconut
Nori rolls (seaweed, cooked shrimp, avocado, cucumber, shredded carrot)
Fruit and coconut milk/kefir smoothie
Fresh cut veggies with mayo-mustard dip
Apples/celery/banana with nut butter
Boiled eggs
Avocado
Spinach salad

Blogging? What’s that?

Hi! Bet you thought I forgot I even had a blog, huh? Six months is an awfully long time between posts, I know. But I thought about blogging many times in there…it just didn’t happen! So I suppose a little update is in order.

I do believe I had posted about being expectant of a new baby joining our little family? Well, she made her grand entrance into the world on April 14th in the wee hours of the morning. Everything went very smoothly, and my recovery time was pretty short. She is a healthy, growing baby girl, happy most of the time, but certainly not shy about letting us know when she isn’t! She was a bit small at birth, weighing 6 lbs., 13 oz. and measuring 20.5 inches long. But she has gained well and was a healthy 10 lbs., 11 oz and 23.25 inches long at her last check up! Here is a little photo I took of Little Miss A when she was just a few days old.

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I have literally had my hands full, in a good way, since her arrival, but things are gradually getting back to normal…a new normal, actually! I have reopened Lemon Lane Organics and I am getting items restocked as I have time. It will be a while before I bring back custom and made to order items since I just don’t have much time for handwork right now. But it is a start anyway.

Hubby and I have also decided to try getting a handle on our eating and gut health this summer, so we are doing the Whole30 program during July. I decided blogging about our daily eating would be a good form of accountability, so you can expect to see some posts about that coming up. It is a switch from what I normally blog about, but you all know I care about organic, natural living…so it fits in there!

That is all for now. Gotta get my munchkins ready for the day! I will be back with my first post about our Whole30 journey later today or tomorrow! Until then, blessings!

Review and Renew

Happy New Year and welcome to 2015! What a year it has been, and what a year lies ahead! Even though I have not blogged in a while, I thought today would be a good day to do a recap of the past year and take a look at what is to come in the next.

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2014 Review:

Looking back at my shop and life goals for the past year, I am happy to say that I did acheive some of them, and even though others didnt quite happen, I did make strides toward them, nonetheless.

One of my goals was to reach 100 items for sale at Lemon Lane Organics. This one did not happen, although I did try. Life happens. I will try again this year!

Making more holiday-themed items also seems to have gone by the wayside somewhat, but I did make some new things specifically for Easter last year, something I had not done previously.

I did acheive a goal of adding new original crochet and knit designs. One was the baby rain boot crochet pattern “My Little Galoshes.” The other was my first knitting pattern, the free Basic Baby Bear Hat pattern available here on the blog.

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I was hoping to make 150 sales in 2014. I got pretty close, coming in at exactly 120 transactions on Etsy for the year. Of course, some of those were for multiple items, which I didnt count as separate sales, so maybe I got even closer!

And blogging on a regular schedule? Um, haha, that didnt happen for very long! I did try for a while, though! There is always this year, right?

For my life goals, we DID acheive going wheat free as a family in 2014. It has made definitely improvements in our health as a family. My husband rarely gets migraines now, and if he does eat wheat, he almost immediately feels the negative effects. He also has noticed that he struggles less with adult acne since going wheat-free. I have also noticed clearer skin as well as complete healing of the dermatitis that had plagued my scalp for years! If I cheat, the effects are not noticeable right away, but my skin trouble does return in a matter of weeks. So, needless to say, we will be staying on the wheat-free path as a family for the foreseeable future! My time management skills have improved some, although it is always an area in which I have to work. I have a better handle on managing the household chores, meal planning and budgetting than ever before. My husband does not need to help around the house to keep things up to our desired level of neatness, which makes us both happier. I am still always working on being more intentional about spending focussed time with J and my husband, but I think that is also improving. J and I did get out to visit friends and go on outtings throughout the year, especially since I joined a MOPS group at a local church in the fall. More time in the Word and prayer is, again, an ongoing battle for me. I have my ups and downs. Finding an online Bible study group was helpful for accountability for a while, but when that ended, I had a hard time sticking with it. I need to get back into another accountability group soon!

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All in all, 2014 was a year with lots of ups and downs, both personally and business-wise, but it was a good year of learning and growth.

2015 Renew:

So looking ahead to 2015, I see some areas that will continue to be important to keep pursuing my goals. For Lemon Lane Organics, I really would like to work at getting to that 100 item mark. I also have several ideas for a series of crochet patterns that I want to design and publish this year. At the moment, I am working on a knitting pattern that I plan to have tested and put up for sale in the coming month!

If you have been following me on the blog or on other social media, you know that a new thing I tried in 2014 was selling handdyed yarn! It has been a fun learning experience! Although I do not know how much time and resources I will be able to devote to Eclectic Lemon this year, it is something I would like to keep doing in the future. I am just not sure that 2015 is going to be the year for that to really grow and develop.

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The biggest project I have going in 2015, though, is something that will be more important than either of my shops, the blog, and even housework! Again, if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you will likely already know that we are expecting Baby Number 2 in early April! Everything in the next few months will revolve around getting ready for our new arrival, setting up furniture, organizing baby clothes nd supplies, and making sure my shops are in good shape before I take a necessary leave of absence from them. I do not know how long I will need to take off from selling or even creating, but I hope it will not be long. With Little J, I needed some serious recovery time and did not have any creative juices even while pregnant. But this time has been much different. I have not lost any of my creative mojo, in fact, just the opposite! I have felt much more inclined to make new things! Little J is excited to meet his new sibling, and my husband and I are also looking forward to adding to our little family.

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So, you can see that 2015 is going to be quite a full year here down Lemon Lane! I wish you blessings and peace in this year! May God be with you in all you do!

Out with the Old

…And in with the new! Sometimes we just need a little change, right? Sometimes things need a little dusting off and freshening up. Sometimes we need to get rid of something old to make room for something new. And that is just what I need to do over at Lemon Lane Organics this weekend. There are several items that have been hanging around in my shop for a very long time, and I finally decided it is time to move them out and make room for new ideas and new designs.

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So, this Saturday, August 9th, 2014 from noon to 9pm (central time) I will be having an auction on Facebook to sell off some old stock! All items will have a low, low starting bid, and everything is ready to ship. These are mostly newborn sized hats and booties, but some items are sized for older infants as well. All them would make great gifts for new babies or be lovely additions to a photographer’s newborn photo prop box! I hope you will come on over tomorrow and participate in this one time event. Here is the link to the auction event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/691270604296012/

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As always, you can also check out my Facebook page where I will be posting announcements about the event. You can find that link in the sidebar to the right. —–>

 

Listening for Inspiration

I don’t quite remember how I got started on this, but a few months back I found the wonderful world of knitting podcasts. Ah! What a veritable rabbit trail of fiber-y goodness and inspiration! I had no idea how many knitters were doing podcasts, of both the audio and video variety. I really enjoy listening to a podcast or two while I am doing housework each day. It makes doing things like dishes and laundry much less tedious. Video podcasts are usually easier for me to pay attention to if I am knitting or crocheting, especially when a certain small boy is sleeping or quietly playing somewhere.

If you haven’t ever listened to a knitting podcast before, you might be asking, what fun could you possibly having listening to somebody talk about their knitting? Well, it is a lot like reading a blog…they talk about lots of things, not just what is on their needles. Life, kids, nature, food, yarn, spinning, and other crafts as well… And a few of my very favorite podcasts are hosted by friends who laugh and talk together, making you feel like you are sitting there and knitting right along with them. Oh, and another perk of getting on the podcast bandwagon? Most of them host giveaways and Knit-Alongs on a regular basis! Those are always great fun to participate in? So, I thought it would be nice to share with you my current podcast lineup, in no particular order, in case you want to check some of them out, too.

Knitting Pipeline
The Knitmore Girls
The Dyer’s Notebook
In a sKnit
Prairie Girls Knit and Spin
Yarniacs
Curious Handmade
Fluffy Fibers
The Savvy Girls
A Playful Day
Commuter Knitter
Down Cellar Studios
Knitting Butterflies
Must Stash Podcast
Ewe University
The Lost Geek

(P.S.–Because I often listen to these while little ears are present, all of them are by necessity pretty clean and free of words I don’t want my child to hear. Still, there may at times be a slightly off color joke or mention of drinking. Just fair warning for those who may be sensitive about those things.)