Pumpkin Bread + Easy Substitutions


Fall is upon us, but believe me when I tell you that this pumpkin bread or muffin recipe is a crowd pleaser all year long.

Now, I’m not one for a lot of words to sift through before a recipe, so I’ll keep this short. If you need dairy free, egg free, refined sugar free, or gluten free, you can make this recipe and experience a delicious Fall bread or muffin and be proud to make it for others or take to an event. It’s friendly for multiple allergies and intolerances. I just made a double batch ( 4 loaves) and was able to share two of them with two different women. (Hello Soup . Bread . Cookies)

I’ll post the original recipe in bold with substitutions out from each ingredient.

Mom’s Pumpkin Muffins w/ Courtney’s substitutions

Preheat your oven to 350°

Mix together:
2/3 c Crisco (or 10 + 2/3 Tbs butter or 2/3 c avocado or coconut oil)

2 + 2/3 c sugar (or 1 c Maple Sugar, 1 c maple syrup, and 2/3 c coconut sugar) – You can also use raw honey, but the key with this substitution is the maple syrup.

4 eggs (or 4 flax eggs, or Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer)

1 16oz can of pumpkin (Mom prefers Libby’s. Courtney uses whatever her store has and prefers organic. Homemade will work also.)

2/3c water (If you are using substitutions that are liquid like maple syrup, honey, apple sauce, flax eggs, oil instead of butter, etc. DO NOT add this ingredient!)

In a separate bowl mix:

3 + 1/3 c flour (or Bob’s Red Mill 1 for 1)

2 tsp baking soda

1 + 1/2 tsp salt (Courtney like’s Redmon’s Real Salt)

1/2 tsp baking powder (Rumford’s Red can is aluminium free)

1 tsp cinnamon (When substituting the flours, adding in flavor is of most importance. Courtney adds 1 Tbs Cinnamon and 1 Tbs Pumpkin Pie Spice. – Sometimes more because I LOVE the spice flavor to really come through.)

2/3 c chopped pecans (or walnuts or no nuts)

Bake about 20 minutes for muffins.
Bake about 1 hour for loaves.

Once a toothpick comes out clean. Bring them out to cool on cookie racks. (avoid a flat surface so they don’t sweat and get too moist.)

Tip: Line your loaf pans with baking paper. This saves you a wash AND makes them come out easily to cool and put into a to-go container to share.

If you try this recipe, come back and let me know what you thought!

Soup . Bread . Cookies

It’s a curious thing to consider ministry as a woman today. We are incredibly overstimulated and overextended. I don’t need to tell you all of the ways we fill our minds and schedules. In fact, far be it from me to make this space a reminder of how impossible it can feel at times. Instead, I want to share something very simple with you and give some practical context for real-life applications.



A couple of weeks ago, I had five baskets of clean laundry just sitting in my living room. I can’t recall all that was going on, but I needed care. My dear friend came over with a loaf of banana bread, cookies, and ingredients for one of our favorite soups. It’s a pretty simple dump-and-heat recipe, but on that day, I wasn’t even up for chopping the veggies. I sat at my kitchen counter while she washed, chopped, and cooked. We talked and talked.
We planned to fold laundry but we didn’t get there and that was OKAY because though the laundry was waiting for me, I was left that evening revived. She’d covered dinner, a snack, and the next morning’s breakfast. That evening I was able to sit on my couch folding all five baskets while watching a show with my husband in peace.

I was so refreshed that I decided this was such a simple ministry any woman or group of women could do. Insert “Soup. Bread. Cookies.”.

We all crave the community/village God designed for us, but today’s lifestyles make that more challenging than ever. In spite of today’s hurried schedules and demands, I propose that it is possible to minister to other women and their families with very little impact on our family time or budgets.

Now, if even the thought of this overwhelms you, hang with me. I have some practical tips for making this a breeze. First, here is a printable you can put by your planner or calendar to remind you about this simple ministry.


Practically speaking:

Step # 1.
Choose your best, easy, inexpensive soup. Start a double batch. You can do this in two separate pots if that makes it easier or put the ministry soup in your crock pot. (Just make sure you label your crock pot and let the receiver know you’ll pop by in two days to pick it up. – Depending on circumstances, you can even offer for them to leave it on the porch for you. Think new baby, think sickness, think high emotional seasons where small talk is painful.)

Step # 2
While the soup is cooking, start a batch of EASY, yummy breakfast bread. I’m talking a pumpkin, banana, or cinnamon. The dump, mix, and bake variety. (Bonus tip: line your bread pan with baking paper to save on mess clean-up. Deliver the bread in a gallon zip-lock bag if you don’t choose to purchase those cheap bake-and-toss bread pans. If you do buy those, consider buying a pack of them so you have 10-12 so you can repeat this ministry intentionally each month or so.)

Step #3.
While the bread is baking, whip up a quick batch of cookies. Maybe you have an easy, from-scratch recipe. If not, take and bake is FINE. I promise you. ( Sweet Lauren’s are a great grocery store option for our sensitive receivers. ) Deliver these in a zip lock too. No need to get too fancy with this.

The idea here is NOT to impress the receiver with your fancy dishes or flashy presentation. If that is your love language and you can genuinely say it is a holy delight to give a full presentation, by all means, walk in your gifting, but this ministry, at its heart, is about the simplicity of loving another woman where we are able and where it truly helps.

By preparing food for her and her family, you gift her sabbath. You gift her time and the ability to rest. Your simple soup, bread, and cookies may be the life preserver that helps her find a smile while she folds the mountain of laundry.

Who are you going to minister to?

Friend, do not wait for a new baby or a celebration-worthy date. Make next Thursday a celebration-worthy date simply because you can. Below is another printable where you can keep track of who you want to minister to. I’m convinced we do 0% of the things we want to do when we don’t have them in front of us. This page is not for pressure, but for intention.

Last practical thought: If you don’t have the time for this monthly or at all, do you have the resources to grab a hot meal for pick up? Can you swing by a grocery store and pick up these three items? My point here is that this ministry is for all women. Not just those who have time, money, or other resources. It’s for all women to receive too. Not just those with visible needs. Maybe you’re the spent woman. Try doing this as a form of meal prep for your own family as you gift another. Invite your husband and kids to help you.

Better still, get together with your girlfriends one evening and do this together. Yes, two women can bless one woman together. Yes, even three women. Stand around someone’s kitchen talking and making. Many hands make light work. Many good hearts gathering makes many glad hearts, refreshed.

I’d be delighted if you’d come back and comment after you try this. I’d love to know how it made you feel inside or how it built community to pour out a fragrant offering before the Lord and care for another woman.

Dear Hilary,
Thank you for the soup, bread, and cookies.
I love you, my dear friend.

3 tips for night time bladder control

I don’t know about you, but waking up multiple times a night because of my bladder was driving me crazy. I needed my sleep.

After five kids, most people expect that I have bladder issues, but our last child was born in 2015 and I haven’t struggled at all. I can run and jump rope with no issues.

A few months ago though, I began waking up every night as if I were pregnant again. I would literally have a completely full bladder several times a night.

I thought I simply needed to drink less, but that didn’t do the trick.

I was also having some pretty intense discomfort right above my pubic bone that I had assumed was maybe cysts associated with ovulation possibly since I had dealt with those when I was younger. And what’s worse is that I was starting to feel like my bladder wasn’t emptying properly during the day too.

I started doing some digging and came up with 3 simple steps that have helped my bladder understand that we are sleeping during the night.

Step 1: Cut out food and beverages after dinner.

I love to drink my Magic Mushroom “cocoa” from YourSuper each night so I make sure I do that right after we finish dinner. I think of it as my dessert. Not a drop or crumb after that. This gives me a couple hours before sleep to completely empty my bladder.

Step 2: Completely empty your bladder.

This is something that I hadn’t realized I needed to address and, if I’m honest, I think that my cell phone (gross, I know, but I’m a mother and sometimes that’s my only quiet time/space all day long) and my stress level (hello 3 months at home and a world gone mad) had a LOT to do with this part. When you go to the restroom, go alone. Literally. No phones, no books, no magazines. Leave your “to do” list at the door and RELAX your body. Breathe deeply and sit there long enough to fully empty your bladder. I can’t tell you how many times in the last two weeks I’ve sat there a tad longer only to find that there was still a lot more.

Step 3: Bladder care.

My bladder care looks like pelvic floor care and essential oils. Yes, oils. Hear me out. I was doing some reading about how essential oils can support the bladder when I came across a “hanging” bladder section. (Essential Oils Pocket Reference) I realized the pain I was feeling happened a lot when I needed to have a BM and when it was full. Furthermore, when I needed to poop, I couldn’t empty my bladder until after I was done with that part.

I decided to give the oils a try and wouldn’t you know that my nighttime AND daytime issues have significantly decreased in just 2 weeks. (Night one, I was only up once and now i’m sleeping through the night).

Here are the oils I use and where I apply them:
(Scroll to bottom to grab these oils for yourself)

I hope this helps you as much as it has helped me. If it does, I’d LOVE to know about it.

Sweet, uninterrupted dreams, friends!

xoxo
Courtney

P.S. If you don’t have those oils, you can grab them from Young Living Essential Oils HERE. (Even if you’re not a Young Living member)

I use only YL because they are the only company on the planet who owns and co-operates their farms all over the world where each plant is sustainably grown to be the best possible purity and potency. They do this via their Seed To Seal promise.

If you’ve never tired, YL, all three of the oils I mentioned can be found in the Premium Starter Kit (as well as individually when added to the Basic Start Kit) HERE. The Premium Starter Kit makes you a wholesale member of YL forever. You’ll receive 24% off of anything you need forever. No monthly required expenses. I call it the “Costco of Healthy Products”. Order what you want, when you want at the best price.

Easy Gluten Free Pizza Dough

pizza9Once again I find myself definitely not being a food blogger, but having a recipe worth sharing. Our photos are real life. The pizza was good.

I have been afraid of yeast recipes for years. I’m not sure why, but when you need to avoid gluten, you’ve got to get brave. Am I right? I don’t want to remove every pleasure of eating and I certainly don’t want them to never be able to eat in public. We are going for a “healthy alternatives at home” style of life so that if we go out, we can eat without concern because we know we are eating the cleanest possible things the majority of the time.

This recipe is so simple and customizable for flavor choices that I’m considering attempting to use it for a cinnamon roll situation. I’ll keep you posted.

Here are the goods:

– 3/4 cup of warm water
– 1 Tablespoon of raw organic sugar
-1 packet of yeast (1/4 oz)
– 2 cups Bob’s Red Mill One for One Gluten-Free Flour
– 1 teaspoon Pink Himalayan salt
– 1 large organic egg
– 1 Tablespoon organic extra virgin olive oil (Avocado oil if you are making something sweet)
– 1 Teaspoon Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar
– 1/2 Tablespoon Oregano
– 1/2 Tablespoon Basil
– 1/2 Tablespoon Garlic powder

Instructions:

– Preheat oven to 450 degrees F
– Line pizza pan with baking paper or use pizza stone
– Gently mix yeast packet and sugar setting aside until foamy (3-5 mins)
– With an electric mixer, gently mix flour and salt and seasonings adding in egg, oil, vinegar, and yeast mixture.
– Mix on low for 1 minute
– Using an oiled spatula, move the dough onto parchment paper. Oil your hands and gently press the dough out to your desired thickness. (We have found that thin crust is nicer with this recipe)


Bake for 8-10 minutes
– Remove and add toppings


– Bake an additional 8-10 minutes


– Enjoy pizza night!

Clean Crispy Treats

I’ll just cut to the point because I do NOT love recipe blogs that take one hundred scrolls just to find the actual recipe and instructions.

I decided to make this recipe for my six year old who faces some food allergies.

It is Soy Free, Gluten Free, Nut Free.

Here is what you need:
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1. Box (or 6 cups) of One Degree Organic Foods Sprouted Brown Rice Crisps
2. 3 bags of Smash Mallow marshmallows (We love the Cinnamon Churro)
* You need 48 of these mallows.
3. 5 Tablespoons of Kerrygold butter. (We use the salted)
4. 1/2 Teaspoon of Himalayan salt (optional)
5. 9×9 glass baking dish

Steps:

* Grease your 9×9 glass dish with a bit of the butter.

1. On low heat, melt butter in a large pot.

2. Add the mallows. Stir constantly. Resist the urge to turn up the heat. Hang in there. Remove from heat then they are *just melted. (Resist the urge to over melt or these will become hard instead of gooey goodness.)

3. Gently stir in the salt and cereal. I used a silicone spatula to prevent crushing the cereal to preserve the fluff.

4. Press into the 9X9 pan

5. Cool completely. Slice. Enjoy

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Great Minds

I don’t know about you, but I love to talk. I think it’s fabulous to be in a group of gals and talk it up. Sometimes I’ll come home super late from teaching a class or a girls dinner and my husband will ask “Was it oil or Jesus?” Apparently I really only ever talk about your physical health or your heart health?? He knows me so well.

But when I was just twenty-nine, I sat at a table with a group of woman who I considered to be my friends. As I listened, I heard one of these women share a bunch of facts about another woman. And these were absolute facts, but somewhere deep inside of me, a little voice began to ask me questions about the nature of the conversation.
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Why do we do that?

Why is it so hard to avoid discussing other women when we get together?

I think Eleanor Roosevelt was on to something when she said:

“Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.” 

But there we sit. Starbucks in hand and somehow, we decide it’s okay to speak the name of a woman not present.

And we hide it so cleverly as “prayer concerns” or need-to-know information. Maybe we even cloak it in false compassion to let someone know that they’ve been gossiped about.

Gossip is a nasty beast, isn’t it? It always manages to beget more gossip, but can I tell you something? I bet if you think about it, you’ll find it’s true for you as well.

Never one time in my entire life has it been to my benefit or growth in any way shape or form for me to know what another woman said about me behind my back. It always hurts me. It always poisons my mind and heart. It always creates a grudge or a need for confrontation.

I’ve shared this before, but a few years ago I distinctly heard the Lord (not audible by in my mind) tell me that I could wait on Him in woman to woman situations. He told me that the majority of the time, the negativity towards me is perceived but not really about me at all. Usually, women are cold, distant, confusing, or rude when they have something hurting them. And he asked me to wait instead of confronting.
He knows me so well. (I guess creating me gave him an eye witness credibility on my character.)
You see, I have a quick tongue. It’s also sharp and accurate. I used to really pride myself in putting people into their place and calling their hands on the drama they were putting out.

But from that first whisper at the table with my friends so many years ago, I knew the days of me using that gift for myself were over. I was ruining it. He wanted my controlled, targeted, effective words to be used for so much more than that.

Someone came to me and told me that it was painfully obvious that my dear friend was overtly against me. In her words and actions. This person prompted me with some advice to confront my friend. Thankfully, my mind had an idea. That idea was to wait on the Lord.

Three days later, I saw my friend in person and it didn’t take more than a moment for her to burst into tears and confess to me that two very hard and unimaginable things had happened to her in the previous week. Things that took my breath and broke my heart for her.

As women, we need to share more ideas. We need to dream together. We need to pursue our purposes together. We need to do this for us. Because when we love someone, we want to inspire them, not tear their heart out. Because we are GREAT minds being waisted on small-minded chatter.

Every second we spend discussing another woman is a second we spend promoting woman on woman crime. Mom shaming. Body shaming. Career shaming.
And those seconds are ones where ideas are lost.

What could we accomplish if we focused on ideas? What if every get together was a mastermind?

What if you purposed to intentionally select who you talk with, who you give your seconds to so that you unleash your purpose to make this world better?

What if we all decided to be Great Minds?
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10 Tips For Natural Birth

Hi there sweet momma to be (or papa because let’s face it, my man researched for me because I was too busy being all kinds of pregnancy extra.)
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I bet you’ve come across this because you are about to have a little human enter this world and you need some birth hacks that will save the day.

While I sincerely hope to put this all in a precious, bound, collection one day in the future, people are having babies now, so I thought I’d paraphrase for you.

There is a TON of books and articles and posts everywhere you look. You could go right now and spend your nest egg on books at the local book store that would coach you on everything from pregnancy fashion to how to puree a chicken nugget.

I’m going to focus on maximizing the impact and minimizing the time spent weeding out the details.

Here we go:

1. Relax. Your incredible body isn’t going to mistake how this whole thing works. Sure, there are factors that could arise because this is humanity and there is margin for things being funky, but on the whole, we’ve been birthing babies since the first one was born and while I cannot promise your birth will be like any of my five, I can promise you that you get to choose how you approach it. Calm moms have all the fun. Pregnancy ball and chill, sweet friend.

A tense body will get in the way of things loosening and softening and dropping. I like to use the term “press in”. We’ll get to that, but for now, relax.

2. Move. In the days leading up to your baby (and really the entire pregnancy), be active. As active as you feel like. Take walks, breathe fresh air, let the sun hit your skin, and just move. Salsa dance with your partner in the living room. Park at the back of the parking lot at the grocery store.
There’s a reason old wives tales say to vacuum and make whoopie. Moving loosens up your hips and pelvis.

The thing I didn’t know about movement until my 3rd child was that while it progresses labor very well, it also detracts from the mind focusing on discomfort. When you’re moving, you’re not laying on your back thinking about how you feel.

3. Eat and drink. Unless you are under restriction for good reason from your provider, eat and drink. Birth is a marathon and not a sprint. Your body and your baby still need water, protein, etc. It’s about to Hulk out and it needs fuel.

4. Relax your bottom jaw. We tend to tense up at the beginning of contractions. I know I did. But in my 5th delivery, my smart husband told me to just let my bottom jaw hang open. Game.Changer. pal. I was able to keep swaying or moving or just not panic. It worked far better than any other coping tip I’ve tried.

5. Get into the water. There is just something about a bathtub or a pool that is soothing, and the added bonus of taking your weight and baby’s off of your ever-expanding pelvis is unmatched. Try your bathtub or a birthing pool wherever you are laboring. You can maintain rhythmic movement in water and progress with much less intensity.

6. Shhhh. If you’re not in labor yet, let’s play a game. First, make a high pitched sound. Note how your entire body tenses up? Now, make low sound from your gut. See how that relaxes your body and especially your abdomen? Low and slow wins the race.

7. Stay off of your back. Laying on your back forces your baby to work against gravity. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

8. Just say no to IV fluids unless something is wrong. Fluids will make you and your baby swell a bit. Do I need to explain that one further? Nah.

9. When you “literally can’t even”, it’s probably go-time. There is a special word in the stages of labor called “Transition”. This is what happens when it’s time for baby to head on out. It also coincides with some crazy thoughts. For most women it’s definitely work laboring, but when your mind becomes irrational saying “you can’t do this. get drugs. you’re going to die. it’s too hard” that’s usually right about that time. Tell someone when you get crazy in your mind and see if it might be time to settle into delivery.
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10. Press in. The rhythms of labor are long lost on TV and movie deliveries. We all picture ourselves on our back screaming in pain while we push on a ten count. If you dint’ know this already, when your baby is ready, your body will push for you. It’s crazy, but it’s real. So as you approach this glorious unfolding, press in. It’s okay to feel it. It’s good to sway and move and trust your body if it tells you to squat, get on all fours, lay on your side, or sit on the potty. Relax that bottom jaw, breathe well, and press in. Because the truth is, in mere moments, you’re going to be holding a life you got to carry and the feeling of birthing that person is unlike anything else this world has to offer. You will never regret it and you’ll be love drunk about it forever.
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p.s. Contractions feel like period cramps. They start small and build. If you’ve ever had a strong period, you can do this birth thing. Trust me.

For Every Kid’s Mom

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Childhood can be interesting and parenthood can be hard.
So much character concentrated into one tiny body.
Like your favorite soda, or my ginger berry kombucha…

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She’s not even 3 and climbs any and everything.

Shake it too much or let it sit for too long and things are likely to get a bit wild.

But someday… Someday that body will grow and the compression will ease. The character will be refined and ready to do what it was created to do.

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The child who never stops talking will be an excellent communicator and someone who makes others comfortable by carrying the conversation when needed. They will convey important messages with their abundance of words.

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The one bouncing off of the walls will have energy to take on tasks most would run from and come out with some to spare.

The sensitive one? Compassion. Empathy. The ability to hear others even if they aren’t saying much.

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As a mom, what I can do now is encourage them to channel that intensity of highly concentrated character into productive areas for their growth, fun, and personal successes.

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Then, when God calls them to the plate, they can let it out with full force.

We don’t need to “fix” or children to fit “normal”. We need to make space for them to take up space and help them to focus their energy for good.

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And hey, don’t be too hard on yourself. They mom on ET had an alien living in her home for a week and never even noticed.

It’s okay to really like your kids. It’s okay to just enjoy watching them grow and it’s okay to encourage them to keep going even when they feel awkward, wrong, out of place, in the way, etc.

We are all on the learning curve!

DIY – #dadlife – Birth

Hi there!

If you’ve been here long, you’ll notice that we focus a lot on all things “natural”.

Recently, I had the pleasure of sitting down with a couple about to deliver their first child and the topic of the Dad’s role in the birth came up.
I thought it would be fun to interview my babies daddy and shed some light on stepping into your role during birth. Kind of a “the things nobody told us and we learned the long way” type of thing.
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Me: If you could tell a first time “Dad to be” some bullet points for being a champion “natural” dad and stepping into his role in his family, what would you tell him?

Brad:
1. “The most important thing is to listen.” To understand. Not just to hear. And not just to your wife. Listen when the doctors, midwives, and nurses when they talk. Carefully, and ask questions. You’re not listening to comply, but to understand so that you can help your wife understand and make informed decisions for your family. Ask all of your questions and test the answers. Look it up. Listen to other dads and parents. Listen to people who have done what you and your wife want to do in terms of the plan she has for her birth, body, baby, etc.  “Sometimes you are the first and only line of defense for your wife and child.” You are there to support here. Everyone else is there to do a job.

2. “Learn about the protocols for birth at the place you plan to deliver.” Do they “room in”? Do they take the baby to the nursery? Do they require interventions like monitors, medications, etc.? “Don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t be afraid to go against the “norm”. Your wife is an individual and so is your baby. Your story will look different from the couple next door and that’s awesome, not bad. When my wife asked me about circumcision, for instance, I knew I had learned that it wasn’t my first choice. Looking back, I wish I had brought her research and informed evidence because I should have known that that particular body part wasn’t her area of expertise. We both wish we hadn’t chosen that for our sons. I looked at it like this were her choice and that wasn’t being true to myself and my knowledge, and it it certainly didn’t help her.
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3.“You are her “birth liaison. Speak for her.” Birth can be intense and losing focus doesn’t help your wife or the baby. We’ve had both kinds. Ones were I sat back because I didn’t know any better and ones where I was basically fielding all of the things while we watched my wife do her thing. The second kind is the way to go. “Know your birth plan. When someone has a question, they can ask you and you can communicate with your wife. You’ll let the asker know when you do. The goal is to be a wall that protects her ability to focus. A focused woman is a productive woman.”  This goes back to knowing the hospital protocols. When the baby is born in a hospital setting, everything happens fast. The baby is born and its “cut the cord, wipe them off, bath, etc.”, If that’s not your birth plan, you don’t want to get caught up and say the wrong thing or allow something unnecessary just because it’s the way the hospital does it.

4. “Step up.” Your wife is going to push a human out of her body. She’s going to be exhausted. Be prepared to forget what sleep is for a while. Know how to change a diaper and watch a clock. Your wife will want to baby to nurse, but if she’s got to sleep or eat or shower, you’re the man for the job. You can hold the baby and provide that comfort and you’re going to need it. This is your kid’s first time meeting you. Might as well make it a big occasion and spend some quality time holding.

5. “Don’t ask her to put the baby down because of something you want her to do.” Just like this is your time to step into your role, by design, the baby needs to be on your wife. They need her body to regulate their body temperature, breathing, and simply touching her skin fires off so much brain development. “When the baby cries, pick him/her up.” That’s teaching your child the very fundamental truth that you’ll be there for them.

6. “Become a great encourager.” Your job once your wife is pregnant and for the rest of your life is to encourage her. She’s designed to do it all, but she will need you there to constantly reinforce that because her drive to be the best mother is also the source of her greatest self doubt. If you tell her how amazed you are by her, and you’ll be blown away at what she’s made of and her strength, you’ll unleash a confidence in her that will get your whole family through. You’ve gotta walk in your role so you can help her walk in hers.

Somewhere over the generations, we’ve lost sight of passing down the good stuff. The information we need most. We wind up feeling like we don’t have everything we need to walk out who we already are. People have been having babies since the beginning of humanity. You can definitely “DIY” the dad life. It’s okay to surprise yourself.

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our littles