Saturday, July 25, 2015

Living Well Spending Less

Another popular home-type book: Living Well Spending Less.  It was okay--worth skimming really.  There's lots of descriptive self-disclosure in terms of her addiction to shopping that might help some people realize what that addiction looks like, but after a while it got a bit tiring.  This book was the result of her very popular blog (by the same name).  I know of the blog because she and her husband removed ALL their kids' toys for a while and then added back very few.
She does recount that story when she deals with the holidays.  She said they finally ended up with books, art supplies, a few dolls/lovies, some barbies and legos.  Christmas features a lot fewer gifts, and more of them are things they need like shoes, clothes etc.  They also focus on experiences like trips to the zoo or family trips.  She said they spend a lot of that season doing for others, and their family's favorite tradition lately is to bring cookies to the local fire station Christmas Eve.  They do other traditional charity work around holidays because they're teaching the kids that Jesus taught us to take care of people who can't take care of themselves.

They have no-gift birthday parties where any gifts brought go into the donate box so now friends and family do take them seriously and only bring gifts if they want to donate.

The book has practical advice for cleaning, saving money, couponing, sales etc. also.  They did a month of zero spending (almost--basic food necessities and bills and then ate what they could creatively from the pantry--saved $1,000 that month).  They did that by very seriously looking at wants vs. needs.  That included home repairs, gifts and basic purchases we often make.

Friday, July 24, 2015


 First we collected full blossoms and "almost there" buds and leaves (the youngest) to tincture this Echinacea we have been growing.
 I had some good help with those leaves.  We have to cut and tear everything up so the vodka can extract as much as possible.  I use Smirnoff since it's from corn and won't aggravate any gluten issues.
 Here we are six weeks later--strained and bottled.  I still need more droppers, but we're off to a good start.  Next will come the labels.  Those are fun and take a little thought.  I think for Christmas, these will be part of our homemade gifts.  Vanilla is ready (but not yet bottled/labelled).  We are also currently extracting our Yarrow.  I think later in my herbal course, I'll be learning more things like lotions and salves.  We already planned some lip balm so this should be fun.  (For the lotions and salves, I have been extracting via alcohol and olive oil various herbs that are good for the skin.  A lot messier to strain!)
Another idea was to make some herbal ghee, but I think I have less confidence in that seeming "normal" than some of these other things.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Sabbath as Resistance

I really enjoyed Sabbath as Resistance.  Our Sunday School class read it together in the Winter, but I missed out on that one.  It's quite a short read.  What he lays out here is such a different perspective than simply to look at the Commandments as "Thou Shalt (Not)."  I think he'll really surprise you with the way he understand's God's way of living vs. Pharoah's and so much of what has come since then.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

More Neufeld Courses

I finished the Power to Parent series with Class 3: Common Challenges.  What a huge blessing it was!  Our instructor, Darlene Denis-Friske, was magic--she should write a book herself!  I found myself going back and listening to the recordings again so I could hear the examples and almost script my own thoughts for those difficult moments!  If I were going to pick a mentor in this field, it'd be her!

I'm going to do one course this Fall--I could do two, but that might be too much for me.  We'll have to weigh it out!

Heart Matters is the newest course and one that matters so very much to me.  Trying to understand how we work the way we do is always at the heart of helping the girls.  Even just getting the video course might be worth it?

And then there is the Adolescence course which might make the most sense for me to be next (since those are the people I work with every day!)

I contemplated the Intensive, but I don't need that this Fall.  I'm putting it here to keep it present in my mind, but we'll see if I do it in the next year or so.  It'd be brilliant, but my goals are so local.  (It's more geared towards people on a track for doing this work professionally; whereas, I'm a mom and teacher who just wants to keep growing.  It might help me keep growing in the next few years?)

The Fear Cure

This book was pretty good, but I don't know if it's a necessary read.  Some of its insights are strong though.  The fear we hold as day-to-day anxiety especially gives us insight into what to work on personally.  If you don't understand fear or the body's long-term dealings with the Stress Response etc., I recommend this one.  It's really a book about transforming our fears.

If you really want to imagine life differently, there are some interesting people working in the fields of brain development and natural healing.  One is Dr. Joe Dispenza, and he has a few books (which are good).  He also has an intensive workshop, CDs--all sorts of resources.  You might recognize him from What the Bleep Do We Know?.  He is of the opinion that Science is the "new" language of Mysticism and is very accessible for people who are rationally-driven.

I recently mentioned the book The Emotion Code, and I've been working with the ideas there from Dr. Brad Nelson.  I think it will take a while to work through the layers of what's there, but I'm hopeful that it's boosting my body's ability to heal itself.  I also worked with a Reflexologist (and Emotion Code practitioner) who found imbalances health-wise just by dealing with my feet!  (You might be wondering why in the world I'm working with such varied stuff--the Gastro guy can't find the answer to my digestive troubles even after colonoscopy, CT scan etc. so I'm leaving no stone unturned!)

I've previewed The Body Code (also Dr. Brad Nelson) and would like to work with it.  If you have reservations about this "out there" stuff because of your faith, he and his family are very devoted Christians who acknowledge and look to God at every turn for help.  They've seen and been part of remarkable turn-arounds in health for the last 17 years.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up

I read another simplicity/declutter book that has lots of popularity: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up by Marie Kondo.
There are example stories, but it's not hard to skim when those don't feel necessary.  This is a book you can well skim/scan without fully diving into it like others.  I actually skimmed it twice to get what I needed.  There are some interesting ideas/take-aways that distinguish it.

Most decluttering asks that you look more at utility and how often you use things.  She asks if they spark joy, asks you to intuitively handle each item and be honest with yourself about it.  She doesn't believe we should be surrounded with anything that doesn't.  I'm sure there's room for useful items that aren't exactly joy-sparking, but you get the idea.

She doesn't think decluttering is a big project every year or so.  You go big once, and if you do it "right," you'll have little maintenance to perform that way.  There will always be some (think of clothes especially), but even basic cleaning will feel easier/more pleasant without so much "just because" stuff around us.

She has an order.  You do clothes first (and I mean clothes from every part of your house--got to be faithful to the categories), then books, then papers, miscellaneous (most other things) and then finally mementos/sentimental items.  She even has an order to do the clothes.  If you're overwhelmed by the volume, she recommends that you start with the off-season stuff.  The book goes into detail about all these areas with tips, examples etc.  Eric and I really like her folding ideas for storing clothes--it's amazing how much more we can fit in the drawers (which means no clothing in bins under the bed for me now).

Her feelings about books are that if you have it to read "sometime" it means likely never.  She thinks timing is a big thing with books.  The only ones you keep are Hall of Fame books (that you actually reread) and what's on your plate for now/recent future.  If things are stored on the floor, she thinks that they belong in a closet.  Lots to say on documents, filing etc.  She has an order on the "miscellaneous" (or everything else) category too.

She's not one for big organizing systems--that basically leads to more hoarding.  Apparently shoe-boxes work for most storage.  In terms of why we typically hold onto things, she gives reasons.  But she also asks the reader to consider: are we attached to the past rather than living in the present?  Are we afraid of the future?  Stuff like that.

Inspiring read!  I used it as a guide for my Summer declutter (just for my stuff--can't impose on the others).

One course that's quite afordable but different is Inspired Everyday Living if you don't want to go so extreme.  They have a lot of great ideas for simpifying and really thinking about the energy of our spaces.