Super-easy 4-ingredient butternut squash “cheese” (AIP, GAPS, Paleo, Low-FODMAP)

Mmmm… cheese!  Since going AIP last summer, cheese has been one of the things I miss the most.  I’ve been tinkering around with various zucchini-cheese recipes but unfortunately my body doesn’t love zucchini so I can’t eat it often.

Enter my newest creation… butternut squash cheese!  It melts beautifully, looks like “real” cheese, has a great texture and is super quick and easy to whip up.

(Imagine a lovely picture of the cheese here-  you can see a picture on my Facebook page.  I keep getting an HTTP error from WordPress when I try to upload images.  I’ve tried every single fix possible with no luck. Anybody out there have ideas?!?!)

Butternut-Squash Cheese

Ready in under half an hour.  Only 4-ingredients with a few other optional add-ins.  Enjoy!

Needed equipment- large pot, immersion blender or high-speed blender, small loaf pan (you may want to line it with parchment or use a silicone pan)

4 C chopped butternut-squash (this is fairly easy to find pre-chopped this time of year)
2 C broth (I like chicken broth best)
4-6T Grass-fed beef Gelatin (I use Vital Pastures, it’s a much more mellow flavor than some of the others out there)
Salt to taste
Optional- 1-4 T nutritional yeast (for an extra-cheesy flavor),  1t tumeric (for color), other favorite cheese flavorings (such as green onion, herbs, garlic, etc.)

  1. Cook butternut squash in broth until well-done (most of the broth should cook off)
  2. Puree squash thoroughly
  3. Blend in salt to taste, optional turmeric, and nutritional yeast
  4. Blend in gelatin until well incorporated
  5. Fold in optional flavorings
  6. Pour in loaf pan and place in fridge overnight or at least 6 hours until well-set
  7. Slice and enjoy!

Let me know what you think!

7 Steps To Healing (that don’t involve food!)

This post contains affiliate links.  If you make a purchase through any of the links on this page I may receive a commission at no additional cost to you.  Thank you for supporting my blogging efforts in this way!

Chronic disease, obesity, headaches, joint pain, depression, fatigue… many maladies we have come to accept as “normal” parts of life don’t need to be this way!  Our bodies can heal and function better than they ever have before.

My healing journey began 4 years ago when I began to heal my thyroid.  Since then I discovered I had  multiple autoimmune diseases, adrenal fatigue, major parasite infection,  and a latent Epstein-Barr infection that wreaked havoc last summer.  I talk a lot about the food component of my healing journey because I love to cook but I’ve taken lots of other steps as well.

A little over a year ago I began following the paleo Autoimmune Protocol and got much more intentional with my healing.  Today I have more energy than I’d had in years, my joint pain is virtually gone, my chronic headaches are a thing of the past and I truly feel better every day.  It’s been an intense journey and I still have a lot of healing to go.  I’m happy to share some of what I’ve done with you to hopefully encourage your healing as well.

One more thing I want to point out before I share my tips- It’s  important to remember one-size does not fit all when a healing protocol is involved.  Heck, you may not even need a “protocol” to heal your body.  A few lifestyle and mindset changes may be all you need to heal and live life to its very best potential!  Our bodies are designed to work in a symbiotic relationship with our hearts, minds, souls, spiritual life, and the world.  We need to make changes in all of these areas to lead to healing- diet alone isn’t going to be a total fix.

Reduce Stress

Many doctors attribute stress and the #1 reason we’re so sick in modern America.  Give yourself permission to say no, take a day off and relax!  Invest more time in  prayer and meditation to take off some of the pressure.  Take up a relaxing hobby like adult coloring, painting or hand lettering.

Gentle Exercise

When our bodies are healing, we need to be very gentle with them.  A lot of the high-impact intensive exercises can slow your healing down, stress your body out and keep you sick.  Try gentle activities like yoga, walking and stretching.

Detox Your Home

Swap out chemically-laden products for products made with essential oils, extracts, butters and oils.  Essential oils especially are great substitutions for many cleaning and body care products.  Changing out your products and utilizing oils can drastically help heal your body, mind, and soul.   I’ve taken a couple of courses from Vintage Remedies and love researching about oils and their uses. (I’ll be sharing more about EOs in future posts)

Get Plenty of Sleep

Our bodies really need at least 8 hours of sleep a night.  When we’re healing, we often need much more.  During the peak of my healing journey, I would sleep 11-12 hours a day!  Think about it- when you are sick or injured you usually sleep more… a healing journey is the same- your body needs REST to heal.

Find Support

We’re not meant to do life alone.  Embarking on a journey to heal your body be it from chronic disease or obesity is going to be a process you shouldn’t do alone.  Educate your family and friends as to why you’re taking these steps to get them on board.   There are also loads of support groups for healing protocols, lifestyle choices and more through Facebook, MeetUp and other social networks.

Find a supportive practitioner as well.  This might take a little work but will make a huge difference.  I see a chiropractor, am working with an amazing nutritional therapist and worked hard to find an MD who supports my holistic efforts to heal.

Change Your Mindset

One of our biggest downfalls as humans is getting stuck in negative thinking patterns.  We’re so programmed to believe that feeling sick is a way of life in this modern era.  Change your mindset to believe that you’re worth it, that you can and will feel well and you are made to heal!

Educate Yourself

This is the information age.  We have access to anything we could possibly want in the palm of our hands.  Research from lots of different perspectives, read first-hand accounts of people who have healed from whatever is ailing you, and participate in all the online summits you possibly can.  Knowledge truly is power and this knowledge will help you heal!

One of my favorite educational resources is the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle.  This bundle contains eBooks and courses covering all I’ve mentioned above and more.  (Plus loads of yummy recipes!) There’s even a handy quick-start guide to help you navigate and start living your healthiest life. You can see more about what I’m excited about in my post from yesterday.

This is a sampling of the healing resources available in the bundle:

This bundle is only $29.97 and contains over 50 eBooks, 25 courses plus LOADS of free bonuses.  This amazing resource helps educate and inspire me every year.  It’s only available until September 26th so order today to take advantage. Check it out, I know it will help you take the first steps towards healing!

What have been some of the most crucial decisions you’ve made towards healing?  Share in the comments or connect with me on Facebook, I can’t wait to hear and help support you in this journey.

My Favorite Resource For Healthy Living

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for me.  I absolutely love fall- I love the changing leaves, all things winter squash and being able to wear a hoodie with flip flops.  I also love that it’s time for the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle.  Every year I look forward to this bundle and it gets better each time.  Lots of my friends and readers rave about this bundle as well.

This year the bundle includes topics such as: Alternative health, DIY beauty and skin care, essential oils & natural remedies, fitness & weight loss, women’s health, gardening & homesteading, gluten & grain free food, healthy kids, healthy lifestyle, Paleo, real food & nutrition, and loads of recipes.

Not only do I love the resources available but I love getting to partner with well-known blogs and brands like Kitchen Stewardship, Keeper of the Home and Dr. Eric Zielinski to bring you this bundle as an affiliate.

What’s In It:

  • 56 eBooks
  • Over 1,100 real food recipes (including gluten-free, grain-free, Paleo AND homemade body care and cleaning products)
  • 25 eCourses (including gut health, hormone balancing, essential oils, and herbs and wild edibles)
  • 2 Printables
  • 11 bonuses (valued at over $250)
  • All for only $29.97!!

What I’m Excited About:

  • The bonuses- one of the bonuses is an offer from TriLight health which can be redeemed for a product I’m never without, Tummy Plus.  (you can get over $250 in products from this bundle!)
  • The Heal Your Gut Summit by Dr Eric Zielinski
  • The Pressure Cooker eCourse from Wardee Harmon (I recently got an InstantPot from a friend and it’s making AIP cooking SO much easier!)
  • ^^ and there’s a pressure cooker eBook- Easy Instant Pot Paleo Recipes: Nutritious Pressure Cooker Recipes for Busy Families by Dr. Karen S. Lee
  • eBook- Home Canning with Confidence: Never Worry About What’s In Your Food Again by Melissa K. Norris
  • Lea Harris’ Hydrosol Quickstart Gude eBook ~ I REALLY want to learn more about hydrosols and I haven’t had the chance to take any courses
  • Gobs of recipes, lots of Paleo and all real-food (tons of which are AIP-friendly, there’s even a whole GAPS book for all my GAPS-readers!)
  • Exercise tips and motivation~ I fell off the exercise bandwagon after my mono relapse and need to workout again..

This bundle gives me reading content, great new products to try out (and freebies from favorite brands) and courses for the whole year.  I really do love it and know you will too.

The total value would be over $2,400 but you get it for 98% off!

Plus, this is the ONLY way I am currently monetizing my blog.  When you order through me I receive a small portion in affiliate sales which helps me keep my blog running.  Thank you for supporting my blogging efforts!

Like all good things, this bundle will come to an end on the 26th at 11:59pm EST.  If you order today or tomorrow you’ll get a FREE eReader upgrade.  Check it out, I know you’ll love it!

My Minimal Summer Wardrobe

I’ve had a few people ask about what I brought along with us on our travels this summer.  When we initially took off for CA we just had carry-ons.  For the most part, I kept the same clothes with me all summer.

We’ve been trying to swap our wardrobe over to all fair wage/ ethically made clothing so you’ll see a lot of clothes from PACT Apparel.  They’re a great organic cotton/ fair trade brand that’s based not too far from us.  We do still have a lot of clothing from Lululemon.  While I’m really bummed about the stance they’re taken on their manufacturing and treating employees, it’s stuff I purchased mostly 5+ years ago and is still going strong.  I’m replacing things as needed with more ethical options.

Here’s a look at my Minimal Summer 2016 wardrobe:



Top Left- rain coat by PrAna.  I really wish I got to wear this more often this summer.  I love this coat.  It can dress up or down really easily and packs super small.  Prana has an excellent lifetime repair policy and many Fair Trade certified products.

Top Right- Sweater by Spendid.  This was a gift, the company is made in the USA and this sweater is so comfy.  I wore it on our travel days and brought it with me when we were going places with Air-conditioning since A/C often sets off a Raynaud’s attack.

Bottom Left- Hoodie by PACT. I love all things teal.  This was a great hoodie that I added the second half of our travels.  The sleeves are really tight though so I’d probably go up a size next time.

Bottom Right- Cardigan from New York and Company.  This was a gift years ago.  I wore it over a dress a couple times.  Next time I’d leave it home and save the space in my bag.



Top Left- Shirt by Lululemon.  Those of you who have followed my blog for a while will remember this shirt as my “40 weeks in my favorite shirt” shirt.  I wore this top throughout my pregnancy to test the Lululemon advertising that their stuff will still fit the same post-partum as it did during pregnancy.  My son will be 6 in October and I’m still wearing the shirt.  (check out the last photo I took in it here)

Top Right- Shirt by Columbia. I’ve had this one since before my son was born.  It packs light, doesn’t wrinkle and is lightweight.  It’s actually a girls size L 🙂

Bottom- Shirt by PACT.  This is my current favorite shirt.  The bottom is a little dirty from apple-picking yesterday but it’ll wash out clean.  I love that I can layer this shirt under or over lots of other things, it’s super soft fair trade organic cotton and is long enough that I’m not going to get in trouble with Jen Hatmaker for a leggings-as-pants issue 🙂  (take a minute and watch this video, it’ll make you laugh)

Not pictured- V-neck shirt from Threads for Thought.  This was a black v-neck top my Mom got me a few years ago.  I love to layer it and lost it somewhere between Sacramento and home. Boo!!  It’s a great piece for a minimal wardrobe.
T-shirt from church– Our church gave out shirts to all the volunteers.  I’m not picturing it because it has our hometown and the church name listed and I don’t want to give out that much information.  It was a good casual shirt for hanging out around my folks or the motel.


Left-  Shelf-bra camisole by PACTI could maybe write a blog dedicated to this tank alone.  It’s super cute, comfy and goes with so many of my other clothes.  I got dozens of compliments in this tank.  It’s the “squash blossom” print and was totally an impulse buy that I don’t regret one bit.  I also brought along self-bra white and black tanks to layer under my shirts and dresses instead of a traditional bra.  These tanks also have adjustable straps which a petite girl like me needs!

Middle- Tank by Lululemon.  Cute print, dries fast and lightweight.  The only complaint I have is that the band for the shelf-bra is TIGHT and after wearing it all day it left me with a line.  It’s also long enough to wear with leggings.

Right- Racerback tank by PACT. I got this for FREE on a BOGO PACT had with Whole Foods right around my birthday.  I love the color, length (also good for leggings) and that it goes with lots of things.  I wore it over the other PACT tank a couple times too.  My Mom did have to help shorten the straps for me which is a common problem on tanks.



Left- Running shorts by Old Navy.  I purchased these on clearance in college.  I’ve had them well over a decade and they’re still in amazing shape.  (Old Navy clothes now rarely last a year).  They have a small pocket, built in undies and are super lightweight.  Mostly I wore them with a tank on hot Sacramento days.  I also wear them under dresses when I take J to the park.  The blue is almost identical to the blue in my PACT tank 🙂

Right- Khaki shorts by Lululemon. These are really lightweight and don’t wrinkle.  On past trips I’ve worn them a lot, I didn’t find myself wearing them much this summer but I was glad to have them for when I wanted them.



Left- Capris by Lululemon. These are another item I’ve had since before my son was born that I wore my whole pregnancy.  They’re comfy, lightweight capris.  I probably wore these most this summer.

Center- Stretch-fit Flare Pants by PACT. My favorite item.  These were great for travel days, yoga, the few days I was sick and lounging.  Super soft fair trade organic cotton and the flare on the bottom is really cute.

Left- Leggings by PACT. Super soft and comfy. I swapped them out when we came home mid-summer for my black PACT capri leggings which also got lost along with the black shirt.  I love these pants but it was too hot to want them much this summer.  I’ll probably wear them a lot in the fall.  I did wear them quite a bit with my longer tops.  For future leggings, I might choose to get one size larger.



At home I mostly wear dresses all summer.  I didn’t find myself wearing these much this summer because we were frequenting places w/ A/C and my legs got too cold.  I did like having them though and would probably choose to bring them along.

Left- Sundress by Susina.  A friend gave me this a few years ago and I love it.  It’s a cute pattern, fits well and I usually get lots of compliments with it.  I wear the pink cardigan pictured above over it.  Plus it has pockets!!!

Right- Wrap dress by PACTThis dress is my little-black-dress.  I wear it all the time and love how comfy it is.  It’s easy to dress up or down and I like being able to change up the straps.  I’m thinking about getting a second dress in a different color to wear around the house so I’m not worrying about ruining this one.



Left- Flip flops by Juil. This company went out of business last year.  Lots of people had issues with their fit, none of the other shoes I purchased from them fit right but these flip flops fit like a dream.  I wear them all the time and will be sad when I wear them out.

Center- Ballerine flat by Softstar.  Stay tuned for my ode-to-Softstar post.  These are super minimal, incredibly soft and comfy shoes that are handmade in Portland, Oregon.  The bottoms are really soft (similar to toddler moccasins) and they’ve helped my back pain substantially.  I will replace the flip flops with some of their sandals when the time comes.  These dress up or down beautifully and fold up super duper small.  The only downside is that they’re leather and get hot.   I want to get a pair in their LITE material to see if it breathes better in the summer.

Right- Chacos.  I’ve had these for at least 10 years.  Got them at the REI garage sale for $7 before my hubby and I were married.  Since my feet are used to Softstars these tend to hurt my back because they’re so firm.  I mostly wore them anytime I thought I would be around water since the other 2 pair of shoes were leather.  It might be my last summer for chacos.


Underwear- I brought 7 pair of undies.  Mostly PACT  and a couple pair of Patagonia quick-dry undies.

Jammies- I had one pair of jammies.  Next time I might bring 2 so I didn’t have to do laundry so often

Bags- I brought my teal Osprey backpack and teal shoulder bag as well as my tiny black Sherpani purse.  I didn’t really use the purse much as we were out and about for long days and I needed more space.

Accessories- I wore my regular rings and brought along 1 necklace and my Buff headband.  I wore the Buff a ton so I was grateful to have it!

Overall I was really happy with my minimal summer wardrobe.  Things mixed and matched really well and I had lots of items that packed small.  What would you bring along or change?

Layoff Week 7

It’s hard to believe we’re coming to week 7 of the layoff.  We both assumed that my husband would find a job quickly.  After talking with others who have been laid off in the last couple years, that’s not necessarily the case.

He did have one offer.  Unfortunately, it was in Southern CA and the pay wasn’t enough for us to live off of so we had to turn it down. It was hard to turn down- the job was in the same town a lot of our family lives in and had the potential for increase.   Without relocation expenses or the immediate ability to live off the income we painfully had to say no.

Life has been crazy busy in the last 7 weeks.   God’s not letting hubby have a relaxing lay-off time.  He’s staying busy and distracted!  While we were living on the farm my hubby was basically working full time there.  We all loved it.  If we didn’t need to make money we would just work full time helping people out on their farms and at home.  We keep saying we would we could just get paid to be full-time helpers… I guess that’s partially our long-term goal of the non-profit… just need to get this pesky debt paid off!

After our farm time was done we went out to my folks in Northern CA.  We had a few items from our downsizing that they wanted so we took the chance to drive those items out to them.  It was a fun trip, got to see a friend from our Romania mission time and he applied for a few jobs out there too… no bites yet.  He spent a lot of time researching jobs and trying to figure out some good virtual work and passive income.

He’s applied for so many jobs.  About a job a day since he got laid off.  “They” keep saying that the economy and job market are better- after 7 weeks I’m not so sure I believe it.  For the time being, I alternate between being thankful and being stressed.  We have been SO busy and the next couple weeks are going to be full of unpacking/downsizing/back-to-school/farm work.  It’s been nice to have him around to help and I wouldn’t be nearly as happy or relaxed if I was doing all this alone.

However, we need to make money.  Darn money.  We’ll hopefully make some good money selling things from our “Great Airstream Downsize”… we were kind of amazed when we got back in to our storage space to see how much stuff we have- eek!!! Mostly I’m nervous about downsizing my kitchen items.

Before the layoff, we’d been trying to find something in a warmer climate.  Now that we’re back in CO and we’ve gone through this layoff and acquired our beautiful airstream… we kind of want to stay here.  We’re being so covered in love by people here, my kid is about to start Kindergarten at his awesome Montessori charter school and lots of people are interested in seeing the Airstream and what we’re going to do with it.

For now, we wait to see what God is going to provide for us.  We pray and take it one day at a time.   We cry when we need to cry and we say “thank you God that hubby is unemployed right now” a lot more often.  We job hunt and job hunt and job hunt.

Our tiny dreams are reality!!

Eeep!!!! The last month has been ROUGH.  Hubby’s layoff has affected us in a lot of positive ways but also in a lot of negative ways.  Satan has really been using it to make us feel unworthy and useless and it’s been tough.  I’ll write more on that later.  Today I want to share the amazing, incredible, exciting news we have with you!!

Back in December, I shared that we were planning on “going tiny” and building a tiny house.  We’ve spent the last few months since then researching even more and began considering an Airstream as well.  After the layoff we decided to start looking more seriously at our options.  We started looking on Monday.  On Tuesday we found her.

Home Sweet Home

Isn’t she pretty??

We went to see her and all 3 of us knew right away she was home.  We were absolutely thrilled to find out that the sellers had accepted our offer and she was ours- we knew in our hearts from the first time we saw her 🙂  Honestly I didn’t even want to leave after we went to visit.  We almost pulled our offer at one point because I got panic-y about job stuff but I’m so so so glad we didn’t!  We got to spend 1 night inside before heading out on a previously planned trip to CA to bring my folks some of our items from our downsize.

She is truly the greatest give we’ve ever been given.  We can’t wait to get renovations done and see where she takes us!   She’s a 26 foot 1973 Argosy and is in incredible shape- we’ll need to do some work to make it useable for full-time living and do adjustments to the kitchen to accomodate being AIP/ WAPF friendly.  We’re still in the planning stages and will figure out what we want/ what needs done and make updates as budget allows.  I’m really excited to blog this experience and show people that you CAN eat a real food/ healing diet in a small kitchen!

We’re looking forward to the process and the freedom it will allow.  Our hope is to find enough virtual income to eventually travel and live full time and start our non-profit within the next few years.  She will allow us to be debt-free faster and to live simply like we’ve desired.  We’ve unfortunately aquired quite a bit more debt from medical expenses since I got mono and our prayer is that hubby will get a new job and/or I’ll get some new clients before we aquire more debt.

The next few months are going to be focused around downsizing.  We’ve gotten rid of A LOT but not where near enough (We actually both had gut feelings that we should get rid of all our furniture when we moved out of our apartment but the logical side of ourselves took over and we kept it all).  We’ll be living in a basement apartment for a while (which happens to be in the basement all our stuff is stored in- thank you God!!) and downsizing even more until we have a good plan to hit the road.  Our next step is to stay in the airstream for a bit and then store her somewhere for a while so we can figure out what we want to do and research materials, costs, etc.

I’m really thrilled and pleased with our choice.  It’s smaller squarefootage than a tiny house would have been but will be easier to transport and find parking for.  80% of airstreams ever made are still on the road today so they withstand the test of time and use, plus there’s an amazing Airstream community out there!  We’ve been warmly welcomed by so many people on Facebook groups and I even had a gal with a similar model message me and she’s been “showing me the ropes.”  I love the history of Airstreams, I love the classic vintage style and I love the high quality workmanship and safe materials in our model.

I’m also excited to be able to document our journey here on the blog and on my Facebook and Instagram page.  I am also thrilled to have been able to share these sites with the people we purchased it from so they can see the changes we make.  I’m wishing there was an easy way to find other previous owners or even the very first owners but I’m guessing that’s a dream that won’t come true.

We are so humbled, grateful and honestly still kind of shocked.  It happened VERY fast- we excpected it would be about a year before we found one.  We’re amazed this part of our dream has come true and in awe of God’s provision for aquiring her and taking this next step in our future.  She’s beautiful and is home in every way, we all slept soundly on our first night- we NEVER sleep soundly our first night anywhere.   She’s a huge blessing to us and we’re able to use her to bless the family we’ve been staying with as well.  In every way this has been a provision from God, no doubt about it.

The layoff has been rough and this has been one of  many reminders God has sent us that we’re never going to be left without.  As we’ve sat through food stamp meetings, crunched budgets in every possible way and sat at kitchen tables crying and job hunting we’ve found such comfort from this silver beauty.  Can’t wait to share more with you!!

Stay tuned- when we get back I’ll do a Facebook live video so you can see the inside!

PS-We’re thinking about a name that will still fit with the “treehouse” theme- let us know your suggestions!

The Harshest “Welcome Back” We’ve Ever Gotten

We just returned from a glorious trip around California.  It started with my son and I in Northern CA where we visited my folks for a couple weeks, we then took the train down the coast of CA to the Santa Barbara area to visit my husband’s family.  We took planes, trains and automobiles and had the BEST vacation.  My hubby and I celebrated our 10th Anniversary in May and this was such a fun way to celebrate- we even did two days at Disneyland.   I’ll write more and share pictures soon- our summer has been one big amazing adventure (and became an even bigger adventure than we expected!)


Untitled design
Nothing like a day at the beach

When we got back we got just about the worst “welcome back” anyone could get.  My husband was laid off one hour after returning to his job.  Thanks “Organizational Restructuring”… We are sad, hurt, shocked, concerned and optimistic.


Apparently, this was in the works for a while and we keep debating if we wish they’d have told us before our trip or not.  Obviously, we are out a good amount of money from our trip and were frustrated to have not been told ahead of time.  However, we had such an amazing trip that we are mostly really glad we got to go.  It was the best trip we’ve taken in our 10 years of marriage and so great for our little family.

As much of a shock as this was to us, we’ve seen God’s hand and provision in huge ways.  Fortunately, we had moved out of our apartment before we left for the trip and had already made arrangements to spend the summer with some friends on their organic farm.  We are SO grateful we had this lined up as my husband’s layoff did not include any sort of a severance package- there was absolutely no way we would have been able to afford rent.  We have access to fresh, amazing food and a free place to live.  My hubby has also been able to keep SUPER busy working around the farm and we’ve discovered that pulling weeds is just about the most perfect way to take out any layoff related aggression.  (seriously, if you get laid off you may even want to reach out to local farmers and go pull their weeds… it’s very therapeutic).

Some friends have offered us their basement apartment for after our time on the farm.  It’s perfect for us and happens to be in the same basement that most of our items are being stored so it will make for an easy move!

There had been some things happening at work that my husband didn’t love and he’d been job hunting anyway.  The financial aspect of a layoff is always really scary- especially because they do not award enough to live off of for unemployment.  However, we’re grateful he’s away from the negative aspects of his job and is able to focus on finding his passion and pursuing work he’ll really love.   This is also allowing me the extra time I need to work without having to worry about childcare!

We’ve also spent a few years talking about moving to warmer climates or finding virtual work so we can get away more in the winter.  My Raynaud’s makes winters rough for me and while we LOVE Colorado most the year, every winter we talk about moving away.   My job is 100% virtual so I can go anywhere! We would really love to be able to stay in CO for most of the year and travel or relocate for a while every winter.   We’re now able to job hunt in warmer places and pursue other options (we’re also talking about maybe starting our own business).  

In a couple weeks we’ll head back out to CA to go see my family again.  In our downsizing process we’ve come up with a number of items my Mom wants.  We flew out last month and are going to take this opportunity to drive out and deliver the items to them.  There’s also something comforting about being near your folks during a difficult time that I’m really looking forward to.  Ironically, my Mom will be here in CO for one week while we’re out there- she’s coming out to help my Grandparents with some things!

Our 5-year-old is THRILLED.  The other day we were talking about ways we’ve seen God working since the layoff.  He said he saw God working by Daddy getting laid off because it means they get more time together.  We’ve basically all been together 24/7 for about a month now and he’s such a happy little boy to have Daddy around so much.  This is our favorite age so far and he’s such a blast, so in that way we’re grateful.

We feel like a whole new world has opened up to us.   I have good days and bad days- but mostly good days.  A couple days after the layoff the woman we’re staying with said “You guys are awfully calm.”… God has always taken care of us before and we both have a great peace about what’s to come.  We are taking it one day at a time and enjoying the opportunity to be together more and pursue what comes next. We feel so loved and cared for in this time.  Many people have sent us encouraging messages and former coworkers have reached out to let my hubby know how much he meant to them.  

Thank you for your continued prayers.  Right now our primary prayer is that his unemployment would come through quickly so we don’t have to acquire additional debt because of this layoff.  We have some money in savings and can scrimp down our budget quite a bit to make ends meet for now.  The unemployment process can take up to a couple months and we really hope to not drain our savings/ have to use credit cards.  

Losing a job is scary but it is also a blessing.  


My AIP meals for the last couple weeks!

IMG_20160323_114914072After receiving many requests I’ve decided to start sharing my AIP meals with you all again.  I’m going to try a bit of a different format with photos and then include the recipes.  Let me know what you think of this format.

I am about 1 year in to AIP.  I’ve reintroduced a few things (raw milk, sprouted sunflower seeds, sprouted almonds and a few seed based spices).  I also am still dealing with some issues with fructose so I don’t eat much fruit or FODMAP foods.  Hope these help some of my fellow AIPers and even those wishing to eat healthier to gain some ideas!

Most of these meals were actually done while we were traveling for Spring Break.  Make sure to visit me on Facebook for more AIP ideas (and Zero Waste/green living too!)

1Top left: Carrot Ginger Soup from Back to Basics Kitchen (an awesome local company that does many AIP friendly meals), Beelers brand bacon, roasted purple sweet potato with ghee, rainbow chard

Top right: Steamed Brussel sprouts with ghee, quick sauteed ground beef, kraut with burdock, ginger and carrot

Bottom left: Steamed broccolini with ghee, kraut with burdock, ginger and carrot, raw cream, chicken nuggets! (I dipped chicken breast chunks in melted schmaltz and then dipped them in to a mixture of cassava flour and the House Rub from The Healing Kitchen.  Then I sprayed them with olive oil and baked in the oven for about 30 minutes at 375.  They were awesome!)

Bottom right: Fried sardines (we fry them up in some tallow and they get really crispy), blueberries, lightly sauteed carrots and arugula, fermented sunchokes.


Top Left: Black radish chips! (These are our new favorite thing. Recipe from Chocolate and Zucchini.  I just used the olive oil and salt- none of the other ingredients)

Top Right: Same meal as above, my 5-year-old wanted you all to know he ate the same thing 🙂

Bottom Left: Lightly sauteed radishes, fried sardines, fermented mustard and peas with a bit of butter (I usually use ghee but occasionally do Kerrygold or Kalona butter)

Bottom Right-Chicken hashbrown casserole (inspired by this recipe but I baked them in my cast iron skillet like a pie to have on “pi day”), sauteed spinach, kraut with carrots, burdock and ginger.


Chicken wings!!!  (I used this recipe from The Bacon Mum as a guide but used THK’s House Rub for my spice blend and dipped them in schmaltz instead of the melted coconut oil.  They were incredible.  The carrot salad is from THK as well and a mixed green salad with homemade dressing (it’s just schmaltz, olive oil, ACV, salt and oregano).


What yummy meals have you had recently?  Anything you’d like to see me make?
Let me know in the comments below!  Happy Eating!


On Peyton Manning’s Retirement

I know I’m a few weeks late to the game posting this.  I’ve had a major bout of writers block lately (which is just fantastic when you make a living writing).  That seems to be lifting and I need to get these thoughts about Manning’s retirement out there.

First of all, I think I need to make sure my readers know my “history” with Manning (no, we didn’t used to date- not that kind of history.)

Growing up in Denver in the early ’90s meant growing up under the John Elway regime.  I grew up spending Sundays watching that man dominate a football.  As an only child, Sunday afternoons were a special time to spend with my Dad watching the game.   From an early age I developed a love for football and used to spend weekends in high school on the couch watching any college or pro game I could while I did homework.  From 8th grade year through my senior year of High School I only missed 2 of my High School’s home games (Go Bear Creek Bears!) and 7 away games (most of which were out of state or way out of town) Football was a huge part of my childhood.  My Dad and I went to both Super Bowl parades together and I remember thinking that winning the Super Bowl was just about the most magical thing that could ever happen to a city.

When you grow up with Elway as the king of the city you also gain an appreciation for quarterbacks. My high school’s QB was one of the top in the nation and I always kept an eye on the QB when I watched games.  I had heard about Archie Manning and remember being so excited when I could catch Peyton playing in a Tennesee game.  After he was signed to the Colts my weekend football priority was to watch the Broncos game first and the Colts game second.  Not as many games aired back then so it was always exciting to get to watch him play.  I bet if you asked my high school or college classmates what they remembered about me one thing they would say is how much I loved football.

In 2002 as part of a project for my Senior high school Psych class we had to write a list of 10 things we wanted to do before we died.  Mine included the typical “get married, have kids, travel” as well as “See Dave Matthew’s in concert”  and “See U2 at Red Rocks like my folks did” (don’t think that’s going to happen but I did see them at Mile High).

My #10 item was to see Peyton Manning play as the QB for the Denver Broncos.  

My Dad said it would never happen, he’d never leave the Colts.  My other football friends said it would never happen.  I held out hope.

I graduated and went on to college and ended up with a roommate my freshman year from Indiana. She was a Colts fan and loved Manning.  We were roommates for 3 of our 4 years and it was a blast to have someone to watch Manning play with.  The Colts were the only team I was ok to lose to and I would banter with my roommate and other Colts friends at college that someday the Broncos would get Manning.  My son was born October 19, 2010- I tried so hard for him to come on the 18th…

Everyone said it would never happen.

The rest, as they say, is history.  I watched in tears as he got hurt, benched and finally cut.  When he started talking to the Broncos this little sliver of hope arose.    My son has loved football from the time he was a tiny toddler.  I taught him to say Manning and he’s pretty much lived in a Broncos jersey since he could pick out his own clothes. (Ironically my husband isn’t much of a football fan but enjoys the experience with us)

March 20, 2012– I’ll never forget where I was when I got the breaking news text on my phone and my Facebook wall started flooding with the news. Manning was coming to Denver.  I was at work with my tiny toddler son- the store was empty and I screamed when I get the news (good thing no one was there!)  I picked up my son and we jumped up and down.  He was only 18 months old and had no idea what was going on but he was laughing and saying “Manning, Manning!”

10 years of bantering, 10 years of “one day it’ll happen, just wait and see.”  My Dad was the first one I called- they live in Sacramento, CA now so he hadn’t gotten the news.  I was crying and all I could say was “He’s coming to Denver Dad!”

We bought our Manning jerseys and my son would wear pretty much nothing else for the next 4 years (and probably well beyond that).  He even had his 4-year-old photos taken in his jersey.  He’s been obsessed with orange since he was tiny and when he’s not wearing his Manning jersey he is wearing something else Broncos related.  We even went through almost a year long phase where he wouldn’t respond to his name- only to Peyton. He also happens to have a natural knack for football and throws a mean spiral.

We went to the summer scrimmage that August and joined the crowd that went wild for Manning in a Broncos jersey.  Over the next 4 years we went to several training camps and to all the summer scrimmages.  Manning broke the touchdown passing record on my son’s 4th birthday (he is still convinced it was a special birthday gift for him).  One thing was missing- actually seeing him play in a game.

I’m a Colorado native and have only been to one Broncos game- they’re just too darn expensive.  We knew this season might be my only chance to actually see him play but we couldn’t get tickets.  Until a friend had some available for the Chargers game on January 3, 2016.  It was the last home game of the season and when we bought the tickets Manning was still injured and we had no idea if he’d play or not.

When they put him in the game my son and I went crazy- we were jumping up and down and screaming.  I couldn’t talk the whole next day.  Check that one off the bucket list.  It was the most amazing game to get to be at.

Every playoff game felt like the end.  When the Super Bowl came around I turned down offers for parties (we don’t own a TV so we always have to mooch to watch games) and we watched it at my in-laws while they were out of town.  I wanted to absorb every play, every moment of watching him play because I had a feeling it would be the end.  I couldn’t talk most of that week between the victory and the parade.  (You’re welcome Denver- I like to joke that I brought him here with my teenage optimism and brought the trophy back)

Then we waited and waited for the decision to come.  We continued to pray for Manning, watched highlight clips, The Book of Manning, and our favorite of his commercials and SNL clips and waited.  People asked me if I thought he’d retire and I told them I hoped he would.  His kids are about the same age as my son and I wanted him to be able to enjoy the time with his children- this age is so much fun.  I wanted his children to have a healthy Daddy.  When we got the news there were tears- I’ll never forget holding my weeping boy in my arms.  It was the right decision and probably the hardest decision Manning ever made.

The day of his retirement speech I had chills.  It was the end of an era for the best QB we’ve ever seen and the end of an era.  I’d spent more than half my life watching him play and over 1/3 of my life hoping he’d come to Denver.

There will likely never be an athlete of his caliber again- not to mention a man who loves the Lord, talks openly about his faith and prayer life.  An awesome Daddy, overall good guy and so so funny. (We’re putting in our vote for him to do more comedy)  A man who I am ok with my son looking up to as a role model.  Good role models for young boys are so hard to find.

I can’t wait to see what Manning does next in his journey- I don’t think he’s done in the football world.  For us, we’ll continue to pretend to be him, cheer on the Broncos, play tons of football and have lots of adventures with Mini Manning.

Check out #AdventuresOfMiniManning on Instagram and follow my Instagram @ambamwamspam to see the adventures we take him on
Check out #AdventuresOfMiniManning on Instagram and follow my Instagram @ambamwamspam to see the adventures we take him on

Thank you Peyton Manning for revolutionizing football, being an amazing role model, making us laugh and for helping me knock one more thing off my bucket list.

My Amazing 2016 Planner

On Facebook a few weeks ago I asked friends and family members for planner printables, I wanted the perfect planner.  2016 feels big to me, I obviously don’t know what’s going to happen but I’ve been excited about this year and really wanted to create a great planner.

For the last couple years I’ve used the ARC system from Staples.  I love it because it’s totally customizable, lays flat and can flip back like a spiral- AND you can reuse it every year.  Unlike traditionally bound notebooks which you have to get rid of the spiral, this acts like a spiral while being totally reusable.  I also love that there are no binder clips to deal with and nothing to open/close when I want to change a page out.  I just have to lift the page out and then pop it back into place.

I love the paper punch for the ARC system. These little punches line up in the black discs. When you want to move a sheet there’s nothing to open or mess with- just lift out the paper and then pop it in wherever you’d like it.

So- here’s what I included in my awesome 2016 planner!  For the most part they’re all free printables and I’ve included links for you.



“Everything Is Awful and I’m Not Okay: questions to ask before giving up:

I’ve  been focusing on stress management lately.  When your adrenals and thyroid are out of whack it makes stress a lot worse.  Someone posted this great “Everything Is Awful and I’m Not Okay: questions to ask before giving up” and I knew I needed it in my planner.  When I’m overwhelmed or stressed it’s right there, the first page- next to a couple fun stickers 🙂


"For the Love" adult coloring book
“For the Love” adult coloring book

Jen Hatmaker’s new book For the Love had a promo going that you got a free adult coloring book themed around the book when you purchased it from Target.  I had been wanting the book for a while and had a Target giftcard, I’d also been trying to find a coloring book I loved so this was perfect for me.  I’ve stuck the coloring pages in throughout my planner and am loving taking little breaks throughout my day to color and refocus.


Year in review page from: me & my BIG ideas
Year in review page from: me & my BIG ideas

My 3rd page is this year in review- I like to have the whole year in one place for scheduling blog posts and whatnot.

Next I have all my pens, markers (for that great coloring book), stickers, sticky notes, etc.
Next I have all my pens, markers (for that great coloring book), stickers, sticky notes, etc.

Then I have another zipper folder (the ARC system has all kinds of accessories and add ons for your planner).  This is for recipes, photos, etc.  I also have these great laminated Bible verses.  My husband made them for me for the 1st Christmas after our son was born, I was really struggling in my walk with God so he made me these encouraging scripture cards.  I love having them to flip through and rotate out to work on memory verses:IMG_20160106_131924184

Then I have my To Do paper from the ARC system where I keep my ongoing To Do list for home
Then I have my To Do paper from the ARC system where I keep my ongoing To Do list for home

Now we get into the “meat” of the planner.  At the beginning of every month I have these two pages:


On the left is this amazing free Pinterest planner from Simple Pin Media.  I love it because it includes action items for each month, reminders about which boards to update/remove and tips for what’s typically trending in that month.  This makes my job as a Virtual Assistant MUCH easier- I currently manage Pinterest pages for 3 companies and I love having this!
On the right is the “Praying the Scriptures” monthly page from His Mercy Is New. Each day has a scripture to pray and they’re all themed for each month (for example, May is verses for/about Mothers).  This was the last thing I found and I’m so happy I did!

The main part of my planner is The Confident Mom’s 2016 Weekly Household Planner– this is the 3rd year I’ve used this planner and it’s seriously one of the biggest assets to my time and household management.  Every day has different cleaning tasks, and there are weekly friendly reminders for upcoming holidays and organizational tips.  Plus you can customize it for your life (and it’s FREE)!

I think every household in America should use this- it's amazing
I think every household in America should use this- it’s amazing
His Mercy is New Gratitude Journal and a coloring page

I also printed this Gratitude Journal from His Mercy is New and stuck the pages in throughout the planner so I can write in it all year.  This is the coloring page I started last night 🙂

ARC slotted folder
ARC slotted folder

Next I have this ARC slotted folder.  There is a pocket on each side- one side has my coloring pages that I didn’t want to punch because I want to hang them. The other side has documents and other papers I might need.

The slotted folder separates the sections of my planner.  The second half is all for work.  As much as I try I am still largely a pen and paper girl- I like having my notes, To Do lists and information in paper.  I’ve tried to go all digitial and it just doesn’t work for me.  So, the second half of my planner is all kinds of great infromation, tips, tricks, etc that I’ve printed out or designed for work.  I have a tab for each client I work with, a To Do sheet and then any notes and information I need for that client.  I also have their contact information in case my husband would ever need to reach them for some reason.  I love that I can pop notes in and out so easily with this system.  When I’m working on a project or taking a class I can easily pop out the information when I’m done.

There you have it- my super awesome 2016 planner.  The last few years I’ve just had the Confident Mom’s Planner and nothing else.  I was really inspired by all the great planners I’ve seen lately but I wanted to make it all my own.  Hope you enjoy and find some things you like!

In 2016- The Pressure Is OFF

In the last few months, there have been a few topics that keep coming up.  Whenever anything like this happens I work on tuning in and applying these themes to my life.  I don’t think things like this happen by coincidence, I think these are the ways God shows me areas of my life that need change and improvement.

These topics are:

  • Trusting that my body is capable of healing itself
    • I’ve spent the last 6 years of my healing journey telling myself that my body is broken and rebelling against me.  I recently started reading through 30 Days of Prayer: Healing Autoimmunity for Women by Ruschelle Khanna.  Something she really emphasizes is that my body is perfect for me in this life and that my immune system is just a little confused.  My body’s not TRYING to make me sick and it is fully capable of getting better.  This theme keeps popping up in my AIP group, healing prayer Facebook group and in conversations as well.  I am tuned into this one!
  • Spending more time in prayer and meditation about my healing than obsessing over the foods I’m eating 
    • Following AIP requires A LOT of cooking and planning.  This is necessary and not bad in and of itself.  What has become bad for me is that I am spending HOURS looking for recipes, reading every single possible article I can and literally spending almost all my free time meal planning and thinking about what to cook.  I’ve been super convicted lately that I don’t even spend 1% of the time in prayer about my healing that I spend on meal planning.  This conviction broke my heart… I’ve been working on praying throughout the day- offering up prayers of thanksgiving for the healing that is happening and talking to God about what’s going on.  I have plenty of recipes- I don’t need to gather more.  I need to talk to the One who knows exactly how to heal me and trust that He wants to bring the healing I desire.
  • Setting  boundaries with my personal screen time
    • Articles keep popping up about limiting screen time for kids.  We don’t give our son any screen time at all except for an occasional episode of “Brother vs Brother,” “Cupcake Wars,” or “Fixer Upper.”  No time on the phone, no taking photos, no viewing photos, no playing games.  None at all.  We came to this decision after reading lots of articles and seeing how significantly his behavior changes even with just 5 minutes of screen time.  We also felt that as a family trying to raise our child as naturally as possible that screen time was really defeating to that.
    • What about me?? Am I not trying to live my life very naturally?  A few months ago my son told me that he hates cell phones and wants to knock them out of people’s hands.  He observed that no one spends time with each other without a phone.  Since then he’s made many such comments and observations and they’ve been really convicting.  He has even started asking me to leave my phone at home when we go on a fun outing together. I am cutting down on personal screen time significantly, living in the moment and not taking photos, going back to the “Inbox Zero” method of checking email/Facebook/texts twice a day and just being present without my phone.
  • Setting better boundaries with how work influences my family time
    • This connects to the point above.  I work from home as a Virtual Assistant, I manage social media accounts for 4 companies, blog, design images and help with customer care.  I  make my entire income in front of a screen.  It’s amazing and allows me to work on my own time and schedule.  However, it also means I need to be on screens throughout the day checking in.  I’m setting better boundaries and establishing more of a schedule.   I am working on getting myself out of bed to work before my son wakes up and working after he goes to bed.  I had a pretty hairy meltdown over him growing up so fast lately- I feel like I’ve spent SO much of my time screwing around on the Internet with no purpose and then I get stressed and behind on work and I’m missing his childhood.  I’m prioritizing my family time much better and trying to help my son understand what a huge blessing this job is.
  • Helping my child advocate for himself
    • I was a horrible advocate for myself until college.  I didn’t stand up for myself and was terrified of offending people if I did.  This is something I still struggle with.  My son is a VERY sensitive child and takes is very personally when people don’t listen to him.
    • His recent discussions about his dislike for smartphones has  helped me see even more how much I need to help him advocate for himself.  One example of this is that he hates having his picture taken and people pressure him to get his photo taken.  Later on, he tells me he was mad that they made him take his picture and he didn’t want his picture taken.  So, we’re working on advocating for himself and using his words to communicate his feelings.  He’s had a couple moments lately with unwanted hugs and kisses from people and it’s been neat to see him stand up for himself- obviously, he is still very young and we step in as needed but we’re helping him to know he has a voice and should always use it.  We practice a lot and come up with lots of scenarios for him.
  • Taking the Pressure OFF

    • I put SO much pressure on myself.  It’s no wonder I have all the health issues I do.
    • My typical cycle is that I get tired and sleep in making myself get behind on work, skip my quiet time and feel lousy. Then I am super stressed about work making myself feel even worse and I work while my son is home from school and he gets mad that I’m working and then I beat myself up over not spending time with him and then he’s upset because I’m not listening to his words and then I get mad at my body for failing me again.  (Did you see what  happened there?  Everything I’ve been convicted about lately falls into this cycle)
    • Over and over and over again I keep hearing that I need to take the pressure off myself both for my family, my healing and my future.  So in 2016 the pressure is OFF.  I’m in the moment, following a better schedule, establishing better boundaries and moving forward instead of dwelling and obsessing over “shoulds.”

I’m excited about this year, it feels like a big year for me.  I’ve never felt this excited at the beginning of a New Year.  I have an amazing planner I custom made (post coming in a couple days) and I feel this amazing weight taken off my shoulders.

What’s 2016 got in store for you??

What I Can Eat!!

For Christmas this year my amazing in-laws wanted to bless me with a few days off from cooking.  They weren’t quite sure what I actually could eat so they asked me to email them a list.

I thought I’d publish it here too so people could get an idea of what AIP can look like after a few reintroductions.  I’m planning to stay where I’m at for now and not reintroduce anything else for a few months.    I also shared what stores I usually find things at and thought I’d keep those on here too 🙂

My biggest issue w/ meat seems to be from animals that have been fed a lot of soy.
The chicken from Vitamin Cottage doesn’t bother me.  Sometimes Whole Foods will have a soy free pastured chicken available but not always.  I can have 100% grass fed beef.  This is all they sell at Vitamin Cottage,  Trader Joes has some in the frozen section and Whole Foods has some too (Sprouts might as well).  I can have bison as well.  You can’t force feed bison grains so they’re always grass fed.  Costco has ground bison in the meat section and Whole Foods/ Sprouts/ Vitamin Cottage should have it too.  I can also have wild caught salmon as long as it doesn’t have anything added to it.  I usually buy the wild orca brand from Vitamin Cottage or the stuff from Trader Joes I told you about today.  I can also have the Trader Joes brand prosciutto & Wild Pacific canned sardines in Olive Oil.  (I’ve also learned to love and embrace organ meats- ha!)

I can only do small amounts of raw dairy.  Vitamin Cottage sells Sierra Nevada brand raw goat cheese that I can have, I can also have the Grazers brand raw cow cheese from Vitamin Cottage.  I’m sure Whole Foods has some too but I don’t really go there.


Organic olive oil, avocado oil, tallow, pastured lard, ghee, I can also have small amounts of Kerrygold butter from Costco (they have it in the cheese section and not w/ the other butter for some reason).


This one is easier to tell you what I can’t have.  I can’t have any of these: (1) Nightshades: cayenne, chili powder, paprika, red pepper, curry, and spice blends that contain these nightshade spices. (2) Seeds: anise seed, annatto, coriander, cumin, fennel, fenugreek, nutmeg, poppy seed, and sesame seed. (3) Fruits: allspice, star anise, caraway, cardamom, juniper,  peppercorns, sumac, and vanilla bean

Vegetables( I can have the organic wholly guacamole from Costco in those little grab & go bites too- they have them at Vitamin Cottage in bigger packages as well)
acorn squash, artichoke, arugula, asparagus, avocado, beets, bok choy, broccoli, broccolini, brussels sprouts, butternut squash, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, chard, chayote, collards, cucumber, daikon, delicata squash, endive, fennel, garlic, ginger, greens, jerusalem artichokes, jicama, kabocha squash, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, mustard greens, nopales, okra, olives (pimento-free), onions, parsnips, plantain, pumpkin, radicchio, radish, rapini, rhubarb, rutabaga, salsify, scallions, seaweed, spaghetti squash, spinach, summer squash, sweet potato, taro, turnip, yuca and zucchini.

No fruit at all right now.

The Enjoy Life chocolate chips or local raw honey are all I can have right now- they have both at Vitamin Cottage.


I can do sea salt (as long as it’s not iodized) pink salt and very limited amounts of pepper. I can have the MMlocal mustard from Vitamin Cottage and the Trader Joe’s brand of Sauerkraut (there’s also a brand at Natural Grocers… bubbies or bubbles or something…)  I can also have limited amounts of organic shelled sunflower seeds and sprouted almonds (which they sometimes have at Whole Foods)  I can also have tigernuts which are a newer product at Vitamin Cottage and aren’t actually a nut but have a similar taste & nutritional profile.


The bacon EPIC bars or bites, Wild caught sardines in olive oil or in water, canned wild caught salmon as long as nothing else is added, kale chips with nothing added, Veggie Evolution World Beet Chips.
Any of these Paleo on the Go Meals:

There you have it- everything I can eat in a nice little list 🙂  In some ways it looks really short and sad to me and in other ways it seems like a lot.

Musings from a life in the trees