Friday, February 27, 2015

Koru Naturals - A Review

Koru Naturals Review
I have a secret to share.  It's not really a secret with my close, personal friends and my family, but here goes.  I have had scalp psoriasis since like forever.  I literally have no memory of life without it.  It was torturous as a child when my mother would painstakingly part tiny sections of hair to apply this tar based medicine to my entire scalp every-single-night.  Nothing we did ever worked, or even helped for that matter.  As an adult I learned the impact of my diet on the psoriasis, but nothing has ever made it go completely away, and up until now I never really found anything that helped with the scaling and flaking.  That is until Koru Naturals came my way.  I am so glad I took the opportunity to try Koru Naturals Pure Emu Oil and Koolpurrie Restoring Balm and share with you my experience.  To say I'm impressed is an understatement.


Koru Naturals Review

Have I told you lately how wonderful my friends are?  If not, I am super blessed with a small group of amazing women in my life.  My BFF of over 30 years gave me a divine gift for my birthday.  I got to go to her house and take a long, luxurious, HOT bath.  (Getting a hot bath at our home in the winter is pretty much impossible.)  I love baths, and prefer them over showers immensely, so this was no little deal to me.  She even fed me and took care of my children.  BIG BONUS!  This was the first time I tried the Pure Emu Oil.  Let me just say that it is a wonderful addition to any spa experience.  I ran the bath with some mineral salts (I knew I would be rinsing my hair in the bath, so I didn't add the oil directly to the water), turned on some relaxing music, and applied the Pure Emu Oil throughout my hair and over my entire scalp.  I allowed the oil to stay on for at least a half hour, just because I could, and my hair and skin is always SO DRY in the winter.  Can I just tell you how AMAZING my hair and skin felt after that bath.  My hair was more soft and healthy feeling than it has been in years, and my skin was so smooth.  It really felt great!


Koru Naturals Review

Winters here in the country have been something for my city hair and skin to get used to.  We have well water which started taking a toll on my skin and hair as soon as we moved here.  Winter adds the added challenges of dry air and dry heat.  We heat with wood, and for anyone that has never experienced wood heat it is wonderful, but it is very drying to the skin.  Despite keeping a huge pot of water on the wood burner, and occasionally running my diffuser/humidifier,  My skin pays a toll.  Having the Koolpurrie Restoring Balm to use this winter has been a real blessing.  I am still amazed at how fast it absorbs into my skin and how quickly it heals.  It is not wrong for me to say that results are near instant.  The backs of my heels were terribly dry the first time I applied the balm.  I just could not believe that one application made such a difference!  There has never been a product that I've used on skin that was that dry that made any kind of difference after one application, let alone immediately on the first application.  Again, I was super impressed.

My 2 ounce bottle of Pure Emu Oil and my 1.4 ounce container of Koolpurrie Restoring Balm are like little treasures sitting on my desk.  I keep them on hand all the time.  I regularly use the balm on my hands.  The dry, winter heat makes my hand red and sore.  The balm relieves this instantly.  The Pure Emu Oil gets rubbed behind my ears, where my psoriasis is most bothersome, on a regular basis.  I have even put a tiny bit on a cotton swab and gently applied it just inside my ears as the psoriasis can even present there, and it has been a tremendous help.  There is still no flaking in my ears since I started this a few weeks ago.  I have also given myself another oil treatment on my hair and scalp since my spa day.  This is something I will continue regularly.  I think one of the best things about both the oil and the balm is that they are not greasy.  It's difficult to wrap my brain around how an oil can not be greasy, but it isn't.  Each time I have used the Pure Emu Oil as a treatment for my hair and scalp it has absorbed into my skin and hair very quickly.  What a difference from the traditional hot oil treatments I grew up with!  It has never stained my clothing or my pillowcase.  I literally slept with the oil in my hair overnight, and there wasn't a mark on my pillowcase.  That was simply amazing to me.

I am super excited about the product line at Koru Naturals and look forward to trying more from them in the future.  My skin is so much happier today than it was before the Pure Emu Oil and Koolpurrie Restoring Balm.  You can learn more about the Koru Naturals product line by visiting them online, or following them on  Facebook and Pinterest.


Koru Naturals Review

Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

In Freedom's Cause - A Review

Can I just tell you how much I LOVE Heirloom Audio Productions?  Seriously.  After discovering and enjoying their first production released last year I was so excited to learn of their second title that I actually purchased it for my children for Christmas.  Imagine my excitement when I saw the new story come up for review.  I just had to jump on board!  It is an honor to share with you a piece of history published by a company so dedicated to providing a sincere and true account of the lives of real heroes that have gone before us.  Knowing that I have access to an ever growing resource of true accounts of honorable figures to share with my children and grandchildren is exciting and uplifting.  The passion behind the production of these audio dramas is very evident, and I am so thankful that the team at Heriloom Audio Productions has answered the call to bring real history to life with such dedication and determination.


In Freedom's Cause Audio CD Review


Our family has been enjoying the experience of listening to the story of Sir William Wallace and King Robert the Bruce and their fight for freedom.  The In Freedom's Cause Single Package will continue to bless our family for years to come.  This story is told with such fire and passion that you are effortlessly transported Scotland at the beginning of the 14th Century at a time of great turbulence.  We enter at the point of history that would eventually lead to Scotland's freedom from English rule.  For me, there is no better way to learn history than to be completely immersed in it, and the stories of G.A. Henty told through Heirloom Audio Productions come to life in such a way that you feel part of the story.

Our family circumstances have changed a bit since the first production was released.  We used to spend a lot more time in our vehicle traveling to a distant destination on a regular basis.  Praise God, that is no longer the case.  With the young ages of my children this meant that I had to get a little more creative with our listening time.  We enjoyed coloring, putting together puzzles, and working with homemade busy bags either in our family room or at the dining room table while we enjoyed the story.  After we had completed the first CD, I did a general search online to locate Scotland specific coloring pages.  We located Scotland on the map and colored a map of Scotland as we began the second CD.  This allowed us to already have a nice foundation in place to build their understanding and comprehension of the story.  We later colored a Scottish bagpipe player, Sir William Wallace, and Maid Marian.

The CD Set and Study Guide provide wonderful opportunities for discussion no matter the age of your children.  With mine being younger I picked out the portions that I thought were relevant and helpful for their age group.  There is plenty of material for the beginner as well as the more advanced student.  There is so much potential here to expand on the story further cementing this part of history into our consciousness.  I love the way the Study Guide is so simply presented with it's three focus points; listening well, thinking further, and defining words.  We primarily focus on listening well and defining words at this stage in the game discussing the questions and terms verbally together either during or after our listening session.  I look forward to building on this as the children get older.

The story of Wallace and Bruce is one of heartbreak, tragedy, and pain.  It is also an empowering lesson in faith, determination, and the value of freedom. Through its telling Heirloom Audio Productions wonderfully achieves their mission "...to engage our listeners imagination by taking them back in time and immersing them in the story."  I have so enjoyed the first two releases that I am overjoyed to learn that two more new releases are expected this year!  The first title, With Lee in Virginia, a tale of the American Civil War, is slotted for release on Memorial Day.  You can follow the progress on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter.

In Freedom's Cause is a valuable piece of world history.  It will forever hold a prominent place in our homeschool.  You can learn more about In Freedom's Cause via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.  It's never too late to learn our history, and there's no better way than through Heirloom Audio Productions CD sets.


In Freedom's Cause Review
Click to read Crew Reviews

Monday, February 23, 2015

Creative Date Ideas Revisited

I originally shared these ideas back in 2009 after my husband and I attended a marriage retreat.  We've been a few times over the years and will be attending again next month.  Any excuse to visit Camp Au Sable is a good one.  It's been a long time since we've been away together for a weekend, and even longer since we've been to Camp Au Sable together.  We are very much looking forward to it.  In the meantime, these ideas truly stand the test of time.  I don't know about you, but we could stand to review this list, as more often than not we end up at the grocery store on our evenings out.  There are definitely more interesting ideas than that listed here!

Ideas for Creative Dates

  • Pick up a book of local walks and choose one where you have never been before.
  • Take a day course together and learn to do something new like make stained glass, fix car engines, paint watercolor, make baskets, cook a cultural meal, etc.
  • Go out to eat changing restaurants for each course.
  • Meet in the park with a packed lunch. Pretend you've never met before, and spend time getting to know each other while you feed the ducks.
  • Go to a place where there are street performers, and enjoy the show.
  • Try a new type of restaurant that you never before have explored like Thai, Cantonese, Tuscany, Vegetarian, Polish, etc.
  • Share a spa day together.
  • Visit a card shop. Read the funny cards together. Choose one that you would like to give to the other person, and either share it there or buy them and take them home.
  • Charter a boat for an hour or two. Take a picnic lunch and a book of poetry or a humorous book about marriage.
  • Take a blanket to the top of a hill. Lie on your backs and view the night sky. Bring along a book of constellations so that you can try to locate them. Take a thermos of hot cocoa or soup to share together. You might even see some shooting stars!
  • Learn to ice-skate together, try go-karting, or buy a kite and fly it together.
  • Find a free concert to attend or special evening at the museum.
  • Visit a cathedral together and ask for the children's guide to the building. They often give a lot of unusual facts about the building and interesting details to look for. Stay for evensong for a peaceful and ethereal experience. Enjoy a meal in the cathedral cafe', or a nearby restaurant.
  • Go out for dessert and coffee. Take your time, and enjoy the experience savoring your treat and your conversation with each other.
Ideas for Evenings Indoors
  • Choose a menu together and cook a meal for two at home. Try cooking an Indian meal and serve it wearing an improvised sari, or a Japanese meal, to eat sitting on floor cushions around a low table. Find some music to suit the culture and enjoy the evening. If cooking's too much for you order takout. You could even watch a relevant film or play regional music to add to the mood.
  • Compile a list of videos you'd both like to see together so you know which ones to rent when you have the opportunity. Don't forget the popcorn!
  • Play your favorite childhood board games.
  • Surf the Internet together for ideas for your next outing or holiday.
  • Find or buy some crayons and drawing paper and have a go at drawing each other's portrait.
  • Buy some child's modeling clay and try to sculpt a model of each other's head.
  • Find a piece of old furniture that needs refinishing and remodel it together, or finish an unfinished piece of wood furniture giving it your personal touch. Sign and date your creation.
  • Share five special memories you each have about your relationship and five special hopes or plans for the future.
  • Borrow a book about massage from the library and learn how to give each other a massage with fragrant aromatherapy oils.
  • Find a modern Bible and read the Song of Solomon to each other. You may be surprised at what you find!
  • Make a scrapbook of memorabilia of your fun times together. Jot notes of ideas for more fun times together in a notebook so that you're never short of new ways to have fun.
  • Make something nice to drink like lemonade or hot cocoa, depending on the season, and curl up with old photo albums or family films.
With a little time and thought you can begin to put some of the fun of dating back into your marriage.  Try these ideas out for size:

  • Think about the things you did together for fun before you were married.
  • Think about the things that you always wanted to do but never had the time or the opportunity to try.
  • Write a list of 10 places you'd like to go or things you'd like to do on a date together. Swap lists with each other and see what you've each written. Take turns choosing a date idea from you spouse's list. Keep adding new ideas to the list.
  • Do all you can to make the dating occasion enjoyable, even if it is not the sort of thing you'd normally do. Focus on your spouse's enjoyment and find little ways to add delight and surprises to the experience, such as secretly buying him or her a special souvenir that they said they liked, or finding a new place to eat lunch, or meeting them with a bunch of flowers.
  • At the end of each date, make sure you know when and where the next date will be. Looking forward to something is half the fun!
  • Have a list of fun things to do at home too for those times when you don't feel like going out or when you cannot get a babysitter.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

St. Patrick's Day - A Family Tradition


The heritage I was raised with growing up was to know and embrace my Irish roots.  It is with pride that I think on the land from which my family came.  There are fond memories of my Irish family members, their ambitions, their struggles and their triumphs.  My paternal grandparents did a wonderful job of instilling us with Irish pride.  Above everything, it was the greatest thing they gave me; my identity as an Irish American.

Growing up we celebrated St. Patrick's Day in a big way.  There was always wonderful food, stout, and the Chieftans on television.  I have vivid memories of gathering around the television in my grandparents basement, fire blazing, cozy blanket, and the lively Chieftans performing on screen.  Those memories are all happy.

As I got older I continued the tradition with my own family.  Mostly I did it for my dad, as few of my children even like corned beef.  What I didn't realize is that this is something they would grow to enjoy and look forward to as they got older and ventured on their own.  Imagine my surprise when some of my older children were still at home, and some of them were on their own, and I started getting phone calls asking what we were doing for St. Patrick's Day.  Over time our traditions have developed as such that we gather as a family twice a year; once at Christmas and once at St. Patrick's Day.  Since our family is so large we now make traditional Irish Stew instead of corned beef, which is rather costly to feed 30 people.  Sometimes I make Irish Soda Bread or Scones, and we keep it simple as it would have been at its origin.

Do you celebrate St. Patrick's Day in your family?  Are you Irish by birth, or just Irish at heart?  Is there a different celebration that takes place in your family based on your cultural heritage?  I would absolutely love to hear about it.

Here are some of my favorite recipes and resources for making St. Patrick's Day special with family and friends:


The Food




My niece shared this recipe with me a couple years back, and I have been making it ever since.  It was a huge hit right from the start, and it is SO simple to make.  I make it in the crockpot, though.  It takes two large pots to feed our big family, with no leftovers!  Maybe I'll make three this year.




This recipe is very similar to how I make my corned beef.  I am inconsistent as to how I prepare it.  Some years I make it in a large roasting pan in the oven.  Other years I do the crockpot method.  It just depends on my schedule and my mood.  Both are simple and tasty.  My husband likes his served with horseradish, and I like mine with stone ground mustard.  No matter what I always make enough for leftovers.  It makes great hash, bubble and squeak, and sandwiches; on rye bread of course.



As a kid it was always something to look forward to getting a Shamrock Shake from a certain fast food restaurant.  That was before the state of our food system was in question, and most of the food we still ate was actually real.  As an adult I got a Shamrock Shake for old time sake, after which my name for it became "chemical spooge".  It's vile stuff that bears no resemblance to its former self.  This recipe from Your Homebased Mom is a refreshing alternative minus the chemical storm provided by the fast food industry.





Another one of my favorite St. Patrick's Day foods is Irish Soda Bread.  My family doesn't all like it.  However, making just one loaf is super simple, so I often make it just because I like it.  We all need those little things that we do just for us, and making soda bread is one of those things I don't mind doing just for myself.  I mean, it is only once a year, people.  This is one of those little effort equals big pay off kind of things.  I love things like that!  If you can get it, Gooseberry Jam is perfect on Irish Soda Bread, and Cooking Melangery dishes out the perfect recipe.


A Little Irish History








Fun Crafts and Activities for the Kids


A fun craft using free paint chips from the hardware store via the Child Care Land Blog.


Being Creative has a fun recipe for St. Pat's Day Play Dough.


There's a fun treasure hunt printable over at Oopsey Daisy.


For even more fun ideas for celebrating St. Patrick's Day with your family 
you can visit my Pinterest page.  

Don't forget to leave me a comment and share how you celebrate St. Patrick's Day, or your own personal cultural heritage, with your family!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Mourning - A Path Diverted



It's been said in a circle or two of my closest friends and family that if we knew what we were getting into when we got married there'd be far less married couples in the world.  The business of carrying on a healthy relationship with anyone over the course of a lifetime is a challenge to say the least.  Not to mention the complexities of the baggage we bring to the partnership and the reality of living in the same home, sharing the same bed in the same room day after day, night after night, week after week, month after month, year after year, and even decade after decade.  Getting along with someone, anyone, in those circumstances over that period of time seems darned near impossible.  Some of us succeed, but many of us fail, and plenty of us are just crazy enough to try multiple times.

I'm going to step out on a limb here and say that, if we are really honest with ourselves, the very same thing could easily be said about having children.  Don't get me wrong.  I love my children; all 10 of them.  However, this parenting thing isn't really turning out the way I envisioned it at all.  The one thing I could have never prepared for is the potential heart break.  I can say without hesitation that raising children has caused me more heartbreak than any relationship I've ever had in my entire life, and I've had some pretty devastating experiences in my lifetime; in my short 44 year lifetime, that is.  I can only imagine what I will have to share if I am fortunate enough to make it another 44 years on this planet.  I'm almost frightened of what I might have to share. 

I have a new found respect for my elders.  That is without question.  I respect the challenges faced to earn wisdom, and I respect that it quite certainly came through painful experience.  Wisdom is rarely gained easily.  More often the most valuable experiences come at the greatest cost.  True, valuable life lessons are not easily won.  We must work hard, be brave, and appreciate the value of failure in order to truly grow as individuals.  There are no guarantees.  There is no "magic" formula for the perfect family.  We can seemingly do everything right and come up with negative outcomes.  Conversely, we can do everything inherently wrong and come up with positive outcomes.  It's just the reality of living and loving.  Failure, despite our best efforts, is always a real possibility.

"Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, 
though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, 
though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 
yet I will rejoice in the Lord, 
I will be joyful in God my Savior.  
The Sovereign Lord is my strength; 
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, 
he enables me to go on the heights."  
~ Habakkuk 3:17-19

What is failure?  Failure is defined in two ways.  One - lack of success.  Two - the omission of expected or required action.  When we begin our journey as a parent we are so optimistic and hopeful.  We imagine great things for our children, and we pull out all the stops to assist them in achieving success; whatever that may look like.  It never dawns on us that things may not turn out as we expect.  What do you mean my child may not be successful?  What do you mean we may experience life altering, heart breaking, mind blowing circumstances that forever alter the course of our lives and the lives of our children?

Somewhere along the way we realize that we are not the only influence in our children's lives.  We are not the only guiding force.  We are not the only ones sharing wisdom and providing guidance to our children; both wise and not so wise.  Our children are not the only ones learning lessons.  As parents we will be learning some big lessons on the heels of the choices of our children.  Our lives will never fully be the same, and we have no way of anticipating just what our existence will look like after 15 or 20 or 30 years of being a parent.  

"A foolish son is a grief to his father 
and bitterness to her who bore him."
Proverbs 17:25

No one ever tells us just how hard it is to usher these young people into adulthood.  No one tells us the power they have to just shatter every perception we ever had about parenthood and relating to our offspring.  No one ever tells us the amount of sleep we'll lose, not when they're young and require more hands on parenting, but when they are older and require more hands off parenting.  Only an experienced parent knows that the newborn stage is the easiest it will ever be, and can speak so with gut wrenching honesty.  The challenges only increase over time.

Don't get me wrong.  It's not all bumps and bruises and tears.  There are times of joy and celebration.  It isn't the same for everyone.  Maybe your joys far outweigh your sorrows.  Praise God!  However, there are those of us that experience more challenging seasons; more winters than summers.  Some of us get rocked by the stormy seas more than we sail on the calm waters.  That's just life, and it really is normal; maybe more so than we'd care to admit.

I think it's safe to say that real life, for the vast majority of us, is not the sum of our well orchestrated Facebook and blog posts.  Real life is messy.  There is pain; more than we ever thought possible.  In real life we mourn a lot more than we share.  We mourn in ways we never dreamed. like the loss of a child that is still living, or the shattering of lifelong ambitions at the hands of the poor decisions of our children.  Nothing can prepare us for these things in life, but love can sustain us.  Hope can lift our spirits and strengthen our hearts to persist for another day.  Faith CAN move a mountain, and we can find joy within the trials, even when they belt us one after the other.

Sometimes it is difficult to maintain perspective when we are thrown blow after blow after blow after gut pounding blow.  We don't always feel like picking ourselves up, and it may even take us longer than we imagined to pull ourselves off the floor and rise again to face another day.  When we put our faith in God and truly learn how to hand over our burdens, then we can embrace our reality more openly.  We can take the bad with the bad and find that little bit of good to focus our attention and energy.  There is not a moment we are alone in our struggles, even when we can't necessarily feel it.

Here are some bible verses that encourage me.  Maybe they will bring you a bit of peace as well.

"He gives strength to the weary 
and increases the power of the weak."
~ Isiah 40:29

"My soul is weary with sorrow; 
strengthen me according to your word."
Psalm 119:28

"Finally, be strong in the Lord 
and in his mighty power."
Ephesians 6:10

"God is our refuge and strength, 
an ever present help in trouble."
~ Psalm 46:1

"As you do not know the path of the wind, 
or how the body is formed in a mother's womb, 
so you cannot understand the work of God, 
the maker of all things."
~ Ecclesiastes 11:5

"Just as a father has compassion on his children, 
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him."
~ Psalm 103:13


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