F Simple and Serene Living: 2015 09 10
Thursday, December 24, 2015

CHRISTMAS, BIRTHDAY, NEW YEARS ROLLED INTO ONE

I hope that everyone is having the most joyous holiday season ever and taking the time to remember to love yourself amid all of the chaos. 



Tomorrow is Christmas, two days later I am having a birthday (trying to ignore it), and then of course the New Year is quickly approaching. I am planning to spend all of them quietly at home. I have been battling an icky virus this last week, so hopefully some rest time will send it on its way. 

My two precious granddaughters Facetimed me yesterday morning and all of their excitement got me out of my chair to bake some yummy muffins. The smell in the house was wonderful and they are perfect for a snack with a cup of tea.


gluten free organic pumpkin muffins recipe

This was my first time baking these muffins and I did have to modify them to make them gluten free. I am never quite sure how changing a recipe so that it is gluten free will turn out, but this one was wonderful. Here are some of the ingredients I used if you are interested in gluten free or want to use more organic ingredients. 


gluten free organic muffins


BEST EVER PUMPKIN MUFFINS
Serves: 12
Ingredients:
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour 
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 15 ounce can pure pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and place 12 paper liners into each well of your standard size muffin baking pan.
  2. Measure out the flour, sugars, baking soda, salt and spices in a medium bowl and whisk together. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin puree, coconut oil and vanilla extract.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir together. Do not over mix, just stir until everything is incorporated into the batter.
  5. It is helpful to use a large scoop (like an ice cream scoop) to evenly distribute the batter into each well. They will be nearly full. This will help give your muffins a nice puffy dome.
  6. Bake your muffins for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
Notes:
Recipe adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction

If your coconut oil is solid, warm it up a bit so that it is in liquid form.

gluten free organic muffins recipe
As you can see I made plenty just in case you dropped by. Oh wait, Mom is on her way over and she has a pretty healthy appetite when homemade muffins are involved. Gotta go. I need to find a good hiding place. 

I will be back after the holidays are over, and in the meantime I hope to visit everyone next week. 

HOPE YOU FIND JOY THIS SEASON!!
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Friday, December 18, 2015

IT'S A MOST UNUSUAL TIME OF THE YEAR

The calendar says December 18. Christmas is six days away.

Christmas music greets us wherever we shop. 

Christmas movies play 24 hours a day on Hallmark and Lifetime. 

Children are busy composing their letters to Santa.

child letter Santa

We should be bundling up. Donning down jackets, mittens, and warm wool scarves. 

Mother Nature is laughing. Blowing in warm March like winds. Greeting us with days that are reminiscent of spring. 

The trees have lost their leaves finally, but lawns remain green and bulbs are tentatively poking tender shoots up through the ground. 

Shaker Village Kentucky winter

I love warm weather, so I am savoring each warm day that we have.

However, I am left wondering. Is this a reprieve before January comes howling in? Will we be feeling December's cold in March? Or will we be given a gift of a mild winter this year.

Shaker Village Kentucky

Mother Nature knows, but she seldom shares her secrets.

So we are left shaking our heads, wondering, and saying that it is indeed a most unusual time of the year.

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Monday, December 14, 2015

SELF COMPASSION

Like many other people I have had a lot of stress in my life lately, and I am hard on myself when I am not able to do all of the things I want to do. 

When that happens I know that I need to take time for self compassion. 


Just as we show compassion to other people we need to do the same for ourselves. 

This is a time of year when we all have many extra obligations and life can become overwhelming. 

It is also the perfect time to slow down, breathe deeply, and show compassion for ourselves. 

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P.S. There is more Inspiration on a Monday here.
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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

WHEN IT ALL FEELS WRONG AT CHRISTMAS

Everything seems wrong. It is the Christmas season , but it all feels so wrong. It seems there is nothing but bad news. I sat here last night and said out loud to myself that I wish Christmas could just be over. 



I don't feel festive.
I don't feel like celebrating. 
The small tree that I managed to drag out has half the lights burned out and I just sit staring at it. 
My grandchildren will be in Georgia and I will be here.
I want to make this a nice Christmas for my mom because it may be her last, but I can't seem to find the Christmas spirit. .

So what do we do when it all feels so wrong at Christmas. Thanks to Jen for finding this suggestion and posting it on her Facebook page.

advent calendar giving
source

I have started to gather together some items to donate to the food bank. No matter how bad things may seem there are so many people who have mush less than we do. 

I wasn't sure what items would be good to give so I looked around for some suggestions. Food items of course, but also consider other items as well. Personal care products, women's hygiene products, and diapers are all good suggestions. 

Homeless shelters also look for donations. If you have time to make up some individual bags, here are some good ideas for filling them.

christmas charity homeless giving personal packs

Oh, and don't forget the children. I am going out today and purchasing a new unused toy for Toys for Tots.

Christmas is the season for giving, but I believe that all year should be the season that we give to others. 

When we give to others we are also giving so much to ourselves. 

Suddenly Christmas doesn't feel quite so wrong anymore.

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Monday, December 7, 2015

WHEN LOVE IS PRESENT

What a wonderful place our world can be when we realize that all things are possible when love is present.


I hear so much hate when I listen to people speak, and I know that all of that hate is making its way into the atmosphere. It is corrupting all of us. So I am making an effort to be grateful for the love. I am determined to be courageous. I am starting my week on an up note. 

I hope you will too. 

Photo credit Kris Carr
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Thursday, December 3, 2015

SHAKE IT UP, BABY...FIVE WAYS TO GET OUT OF A RUT

We've all been there. Maybe you're there now. Stuck in the proverbial RUT!!!

I have been feeling like I'm stuck in that rut lately, and I know it is up to me to get out of it. So I have been writing down things I want to do now, in the short term future, and in the long term future. 

I have also been writing down ways to get out of that rut and thought maybe you would find those ways useful too.



FIVE WAYS TO GET OUT OF A RUT:

1) Write down the changes you want to make in your life. How do you see yourself a month from now? a year from now? five years from now? Where do you want to be? What do you want to be doing? Is there someone you would like to be with? 

2) Change your focus. We are often stuck in a rut because we are too focused on the past. It's time to embrace whatever happened in the past and let it go. If you have regrets, acknowledge them, give them a big hug, and send them on their way. If you are focused on a time in your life when things seemed wonderful, remember that time fondly, but recognize that this moment is your life now, and life can be wonderful in each moment. Focus on new ways to make your life wonderful (see #1)

3) Recognize that it is time to move on. We often get stuck in a rut because we are afraid to move on. We get comfortable in our old slippers and the thought of putting on a new pair scares us. It is important to recognize if you have become complacent, because things are really wonderful or because you don't want to face changes. In this instance setting goals can be helpful. Start small and work up to what you really want to see happen in your life.

4) Recognize your roadblocks and how to get around them. We all put up roadblocks in our lives. We see them as keeping us from danger, but often they keep us from moving on, from making positive changes in our lives. Once you recognize the roadblocks you have set up, think of ways you can get around them. What are some things you can do differently to reach the destination you want? 

5) Take a look at your feelings. Often it is our feelings that are holding us back. Depression and anxiety can keep us in a rut. If you are feeling depressed or anxious, try to look at what is bothering you from a new perspective. Know that you are never alone in your feelings, and if you are unable to overcome these feelings on your own then seek out a professional to help you overcome them. 

Life has so much to offer all of us. Everyone deserves happiness. Don't let being in a rut keep you from that happiness. I know that I am going to keep working hard to get out of my rut.

What would you like to see change in your life and how will you go about making that change?


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P.S. Find more of the Rewriting Life Series here.
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Monday, November 30, 2015

FINDING A PLACE OF SERENITY

We all need a place of serenity. A place where we can go and find calm in the moment. That place can be anywhere. 

For me, my place of serenity is the greenhouses where I spent many wonderful days as a child. It is a place that I can enter and feel a sense of calm wash over me. 


It is a place where the smell of clean earth mixes with the aroma of growing flowers.


It is a place where the very old mixes seamlessly with the new.



It is a place where my grandchild can feel right at home playing where her grandmother and great grandmother played before her. 


It's a place where everything old seems new again.


My youngest daughter calls it her happy place. I call it memories of home.

Where is your place of serenity?

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Saturday, November 28, 2015

SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY SALE

It's the most wonderful time of the year, and that means it's time for a sale at I'm So Vintage on Etsy.

I'm So Vintage

Hope to see you there. 

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Monday, November 23, 2015

FAMILY TIME

My family has rolled into town from Georgia this week, so I am taking some blogging time off to spend with them. 

Yesterday we met up with a surprise while out shopping. It was so fun to see the girl's reactions. 

I don't want to miss a minute of this special time.


Hope everyone is enjoying this Thanksgiving week.


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Thursday, November 19, 2015

A TIME FOR LOVING

On Tuesday I wrote about A Time For Helping. You can see that here

Then one of my Facebook friends asked the question, "How do we overcome evil?" My answer was one word. LOVE. 


Maybe that is a simplistic response, but I believe that the perpetrators of evil want to instill evil in the rest of us. They want us to hate the way they hate, they want us to kill the way they kill. But, when we respond with love, we defeat their purposes. 

That is not to say that we should not hold evil people accountable, but that we should not sink to their level. Think how different things would be if everyone in the world chose one person they don't like and instead looked at that person with love. 


Love and forgiveness go a long way in healing our lives. They take away the power that others have over us. Antoine Leiris lost his beloved wife Helene in the Bataclan theatre in Paris, and I thought if this man, who lost so much, can react this way why can't the rest of us. You can see what he has to say here.

I came across this ad today, which brought tears to my eyes and made me think of all the lonely people who need love in their lives. It is so often the children who lead us in showing pure, sweet love. 



Helping? Loving? They both seem simple to me.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A TIME FOR HELPING

I always think of this time of year as a time of helping. A time of showing love. A time for giving.


As Thanksgiving approaches, I have been reflecting on the things I am thankful for, and even though it is a stressful time for me, I know that I have so much more than so many people in the word. 

My heart goes out to the refugees as they flee from oppression and hate and are met with more hate in the places that they are fleeing to. 

church country old autumn sunlight

I think of two middle east refugees, who more than 2000 years ago fled from oppression and I wonder how their story might have been different if they were not given shelter in a lowly stable. 

There are of course people who want us to turn on each other. Who want us to hate each other. Who want us to cast those who are different aside. Who want us to go about our daily lives in fear. 

fall autumn leaves changing colorful red

We must not be indifferent to their threats, but we cannot allow them to take away who we are. I believe we are a country of compassion. We are a country rich in a tradition of helping those who have been oppressed. 

old church country kentucky

We are so fortunate to worship where or how we choose. Whether it is in a country church, a city mosque, a neighborhood synagogue, or in the quiet of a forest. We are also free to not worship if that is what we choose.

As I look around me and think of the season of giving that is upon us, I will look for ways I can help people. It may be as little as giving up my seat on the shuttle bus yesterday to someone who needed to sit more than I did. It may be adding a healthy food to a food drive barrel. It may be as small as a smile, because we never know when a smile may be just what someone needs. 


There are so many things, both little and large, we can do to help others.

Yes, we are coming up to a season of giving, a time for helping, but shouldn't that season extend throughout the year. A time for helping is now. A time for helping is always. 
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Friday, November 13, 2015

THE WINDS OF NOVEMBER

Yesterday as I made my way to an auction in a neighboring town, I noticed how barren and bleak the landscape was becoming. While many of our city trees are still holding on to their leaves, November's winds are stripping the trees in the country of their autumn finery. 


I feel like they are doing a striptease and I want to yell "cover up, cover up."

It felt good to get out for a drive through the countryside. This church has always been a favorite of mine and I love stopping to photograph it. I have photos from every season.


It's a perfect example of our November days. One barren tree, one tree dressed in red leaves, and knockout roses still blooming in front of the church. Ahhh November, you are a fickle month. Teasing us with sunny skies, while cool winds whip around the corners of the buildings. 

I couldn't resist stopping to chat with this lovely girl. Such a beautiful face and sweet disposition.


The sun was casting prisms of light everywhere, but I knew that the shadows of the night were quickly approaching.


The days are so short now, and I feel like I have to hurry in before I am caught out in the dark

It always reminds me of the first verse from a favorite old hymn, which I hum to myself when I close the curtains at night

Now the day is over,
night is drawing nigh;
shadows of the evening
steal across the sky.
                                 Sabine Baring-Gould


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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

SPEAK TO YOURSELF WITH LOVE

I have been having a crisis of faith in myself. I find myself berating myself for everything I perceive that I have been doing wrong, and as I have allowed this negative talk to go on, I find my faith in myself spiraling downward. 

The negative speak we hear from others can definitely affect our self confidence, but when we internalize these words and then turn around and speak to ourselves with the same or worse words, it can be devastating. 

So how should we be speaking to ourselves?


I was the hand me down child in my family and have been spoken to in that manner into my adult life. I allowed that to seep into my soul and it is how I learned to speak to myself. It became my belief system and the way I have spoken to myself has become a self fulfilling prophecy. 

This morning as I sat in my bed listening to the early morning sounds around me I realized that I wouldn't  speak to someone I love the way I have been speaking to myself, and shouldn't I love myself first.

We all have failures and hopefully we learn from those failures. So today and from now on I vow to brush myself off and to treat myself more gently. I vow to speak to myself the way I would speak to someone I love. Instead of berating myself, I will give myself encouragement. I will start fresh.

I will speak to myself with love. 

Speak to yourself with love too, and see how it can change your life. 

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P.S. You can find more of the Women Speak series here. It's a place to talk about the things that affect us, as women.
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Monday, November 9, 2015

SHE SELLS SHE SHEDS BY THE.....

Well, never mind. I couldn't resist, but I have finally found a new fad I can really get behind. (I know that we are heading into the colder months, but in my opinion it is never too early to start thinking ahead to spring.) 

I am pretty sick of hearing about man caves, so I say move over man caves, bring on the she sheds. 

Can you say SWOON? If I had this "shed" I might never enter the house again.


How cute is this? It makes me want to throw on some gardening gloves and start potting plants right this minute. (It is definitely helping me to ignore today's cold rainy weather)


I have always been a firm believer that I was meant to have an English country garden. My family should never have left "Old Blighty". They failed to look into the future and ask me my opinion.


Wouldn't it be wonderful to take your sewing outside into a dedicated shed just for that purpose. It might put me back in the mood.


I would love to have a backyard greenhouse (if I had a backyard) and if it was also a she shed getaway, that would be even better.


So what do you think? Is it ever too early to start thinking about spring. Do you get those seed catalogs out early. Would you love to have a she shed as much as I would?

Photo Credits:
1) House to Home
2) Wooden House
3) Lushome
4) Ciao Newport Beach
5) Lighter Side of Real Estate


P.S. Thank you so much to everyone who left comments on my Friday post. Mom and I both appreciated the stories you shared and your sweet words of encouragement. 




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