Friday, March 30, 2012

Better Off?

Imagine a world with little to no technological or electrical assistance. A world free from laptops, ipads, smart phones, cable TV, wash machines, vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers and many of the other toys and conveniences that surround us.  Eric Brende, author of Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology, not only imagined this world but took the plunge and decided to live in it for over a year.
       I am definitely no stranger to this type of lifestyle. Not because I have lived it myself but because my dad grew up in the Old Order Amish and lived this life until he was 18 when he decided to set out on his own.  I spent much of my growing up years visiting, staying with, and enjoying the times I had with my dad's family. I can't say I ever revelled in the idea of going without electricity during our visits, especially not when I was a vain teenager who had to somehow manage without every single hair appliance on the market. However, because I was familiar with this lifestyle I never really thought of it as a novelty but just the way they are. Just something some people do.
       When I was formulating my book list for this year I was drawn to this book because of all the technological clutter that fills my life. I was not particularly looking for or thinking about life without electricity. I was more thinking that I needed a good reminder of what life was like before I spent my time surfing the web, checking facebook, texting my friends and envying the person sitting beside me using their ipad. You see, I am technologically bi-polar. On one hand, if I could afford it, I would run out and purchase every gadget that is out there. I was drooling over the new Ipad 3 and I have spent many a conversation with my husband on practical reasons why I might NEED a smart phone. On the other hand, I find myself wanting to run away from it all. Wanting to bury my phone in the backyard. Wanting to pack my computer up and leave it in storage for a few months.
          It's just that sometimes my life feels so cluttered. My thoughts feel cluttered with all the information that is streaming through them and surrounding me at every minute. There are the countless amounts of facebook status updates that I somehow feel a need to keep informed about. There are the many texts and e-mails that I feel compelled to read and answer this instant (not later when I actually might have more time).  If I don't answer them more just keep coming and then I have to wrestle with the fact that I never got back to so and so and they really needed an answer.
  There's not only my phone but my husband's, which is ever buzzing, ringing, and chiming with new e-mails, voicemails and texts. I find myself wondering what it was like before our worlds were so full of technological clutter.
      Just recently we were out on a date and my husband excused himself. I found myself sitting alone in the booth and during what was only minutes of him being gone I felt like I should be doing something. So I pick up my phone (which is not even a smart phone) and start texting just because I had a quiet minute. Why couldn't I just sit there quietly and just take a few moments without communication?
       When I picked up the book I found myself "amening" the sentiments the author was expressing, which very much reflected my own. Still it was not exactly that I was looking for. I'm not ready to live without electricity and don't necessarily feel like that is the answer. I am however ready to read about someone who got rid of the internet (in fact that seems more extreme to me right now than getting rid of electricity).  I am not a farmer or a gardner and truth be told I am not drawn to becoming either of those. I try to garden but definitely don't relish it and I absolutely love living in town. I am also not quite ready to go without my cell phone and obviously since I am posting this on my blog which I will then post on facebook and twitter that means I am not ready to go without my computer or internet.
       Still, there is a part of me that sighs at all of this. A part that feels like something is missing when our family gets together and everyone is listening to their ipods, surfing their smart phones, posting pics on facebook and watching youtube on their laptops. Have we lost something? During an age when there is more communication than any other previous age what are we saying? Who are we communicating with? Are we forgetting about the person sitting next to us, the legitimate need we just heard about on Sunday or the neighbor who is struggling to lug his trash to the street in an effort to reach out to the one who lives in California and we only met once at a wedding?
       These are the things I wrestle with and will continue to do so I'm afraid. The worst thing is I would not argue if my husband bought me a smart phone.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Sick day

We've had to take two days off of school due to a mild sickness in our home. My oldest said just the other day, "I wish I could get sick so that I could stay in bed all day and watch movies." Then on the way home from study, when he said he didn't feel well it was hard to take him seriously. How could I after a comment like that? Still you can't make yourself have a fever so I finally agreed that he probably was sick. However, the skeptic inside me won me over when it came to my second oldest who also claimed not to be feeling very well but had no other evidence except his word to back him up. All the sudden he seemed to be magically better when tea time rolled around and he thought of the freshly baked chocolate chip cookies in the kitchen.  I responded to his miraculous healing by saying, "Sick boys don't eat chocolate chip cookies. I think you're going to have to wait until you are really better." So he settled for a banana instead and has not been sick since. My youngest on the other hand devoured his allotment of cookies exclaiming, "I'm not sick Mommy!"

On another note Ben brought home the most amazing present right after Eliza was born. For ages I have been looking for a vintage high chair with a metal tray. High chairs these days are almost entirely made up of plastic. I have a love hate relationship with plastic and have been looking for ages for one of the old ones there were made during a time when plastic didn't reign supreme. When he arrived home with this treasure I was beside myself (it's the little things). I gave it a try for the first time yesterday. Even though Eliza's meal at this point consists of toy rattles she still seemed to enjoy it and I look forward to using this high chair and then passing it down to my kids when they have kids. There are some things that truly were just better "back then".

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Much of my time lately has been balanced between school and incorporating my new logo onto my labels, business cards, etc. As I was working today on new labels I put Eliza on the bed to play and couldn't resist taking a few shots to help boost my already springtime high. The only thing I'm beginning to realize is that with the arrival of our little girl the boys don't get as much screen time as they used to. I need to change that in the future but for now I'll keep sneaking in some baby shots, all in the name of perfecting my photography skills of course.


Thursday, March 15, 2012


I couldn't resist including this photo before the memories of winter completely faded away. Even though we had a very mild winter I was able to sneak in a few shots of snow before it was all daffodils and robins. 

I know there are a lot of people out there already making all natural cleaners, deodorants, etc. for their home. Not only is this an excellent way to save money but it's also great for you and the environment and I feel better about things if I know it is better for me and my family.
Here are a few recipes I have really found to be perfect for what I am looking for.


For the longest time I have wanted to get away from commercial shampoos. I have curly hair which gives me an added motivation because curly hair is really effected by the sulfates and additives in shampoo.  I tried to make a few shampoo bars and although this is still my end goal I am not yet happy with the ones I have created. My hair longs for moisture and gets tangled very easily so anything that is even slightly drying instantly created a matted mess. Right now I use a conditioner that is sulfate-free. Target has quite a few that make this claim and so far I am getting by with it. 

So here's the shampoo recipe I've been using:

1/4 cup Distilled Water
1/4 cup liquid castille soap (I use Dr. Bonners Almond and every time I use it on the boys Christopher exclaims, "It smells like cherries!!")
1/2 tsp. jojoba or grapeseed oil

Wipes Solution

Another thing I've been doing is making my own solution to pour over some old burp clothes and rags and use these as washable wipes. I love it because not only does it cut down on trash and unknown chemicals that are contained in commercial wipes but also I put a bit of oil so that it moisturizes while it cleans. There are a lot of websites that contain many different recipes for making your own wipes. If you want to check out more you can go here Zany Zebra Designs

Here is the recipe I've been using:

1 Tbsp. Almond Oil
1 Tbsp. Dr. Bonners liquid castille soap
2 drops Tea Tree EO
1 drop Lavender EO
1 cup Distilled Water


The next step is to make my own deodorant. Before I had Eliza my sister-in-law made some for me and I really like it. The only down side at this point is that I am digging it out of a glass jar with a spoon. This process is a bit on the messy side. The frustrating thing is that it is almost impossible to find an eco friendly container for stick deodorant. I like to stay away from plastic as much as possible but in spite of countless research I can't seem to find an alternative when it comes to deodorant. If I can't find a plastic alternative I might just go with a body powder that serves as a deodorant. Until then here is the recipe both she and I use and I must say it is excellent! Much better than the over the counter natural alternative.

She suggests equal parts
Baking Soda
Cornstarch (or Arrowroot powder)
Coconut Oil

I am still in the process of fine tuning this recipe but for now this is working great! It is thick enough to go into a tube so you can put it right in a used deodorant tube as well.

I would love to hear some more great recipes or links for all of you! Please post in the comments what you have discovered or used effectively.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


I just recently purchased these for my niece Eleanor (who by the way looks stunning in them) and had to share how wonderful they are.  It is hard to find tasteful headbands for babies and I think these are perfect.
These were both made by Handmade by Harlan

In my search I also came across this wonderful site JujuBees's & Co.  She features some adorable headbands and I hope soon to order some from her for Eliza. 

I can't wait to add my own photos of Eleanor and Eliza wearing these delightful headbands! 

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Reason for God

The above picture is mostly there to humor the grandparents. I have spent so much time lately taking pictures of other people's children that I decided to get in a few shots of my own babes. I couldn't resist putting a ponytail in Eliza's hair. She has a rather thick patch of hair right at the back of her head and I am so eager see her long curly locks. She's definitely my little sprout!

Okay, on to more serious matters. I did have the greatest intentions of finishing my February book, The Reason for God, but apparently being accountable to myself and the readers of this blog just doesn't motivate me quite enough. I am just starting Part 2 and really have solid hopes of finishing it soon. It's definitely NOT because I didn't enjoy the book but it was more because I chose to become obsessed with photography (mostly newborn photography) and running all at the same time. I loaded my arms with books on running (and yes it was a new concept to me that I would need to read a book on running. I mean how hard can it be? but that's for another post) and photography and tried to cram them into my already limited reading time. So excuses aside I'll dive right in.

I must admit that I have been trying to read this book from the viewpoint of someone who doesn't believe in God or at best is a bit skeptical.  I'm not sure if I'm doing that viewpoint justice though since I do very much believe and love God and it's hard, actually impossible, to step out of that and read the book with any other belief system in mind. 
That disclaimer aside, I do think it would be a great book to give to someone who knows little of God or has a lot of questions regarding who He is and how He works with His people. Timothy Keller deals with a lot of hard questions such as "How could a good God allow suffering?",  "How can a loving God send people to Hell?", and "how can their be just ONE true religion?".  I can't imagine that there is not a soul out there who has not struggled with these questions even if right now you consider yourself to be one of the most faithful Christians there ever was. I don't think I will even stop struggling with how God chooses to work and how weak my own faith is so much of the time. 

I think the insight Timothy Keller brings to these questions and the many struggles in and outside the Christian community not only come from his long study of the Scripture but also his real life experiences pastoring a church in New York City. He comes into contact with scores of diverse personalities and perspectives that help lend credence to what he is working through. He also writes in a very understandable way which I find refreshing, especially when considering this book as a future gift to someone who might not be entrenched in the Christian life and lingo. 

I am thankful to the friend who suggested this book and very much look forward to delving into Part 2: The Reasons for Faith.