Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

Grace for a Stress-less Holiday

December 17th, 2014 · KS lifestyle

GRACE for a Stress-less Holiday : via Kitchen Stewardship

This post is by KS contributing writer Pam Farley from Brown Thumb Mama.

We’re supposed to be joyful…we’re supposed to be festive. But the pressures of family, gloomy weather, and too many social events can turn the holidays into horrordays.

Don’t let this happen to you. Remember to give yourself GRACE and reduce your stress this holiday. Here’s how:

G is for Gratitude.

Reading blogs around the holidays can make you feel like everyone ELSE is perfect. Perfect decorations, perfect family pictures, perfect food… If you aren’t careful, you can spiral into a vortex of doubt, envy, or worse.

Instead of looking outward during this time, look inward and fill your heart with gratitude. Take a moment to deeply experience your senses. Breathe slowly and feel the ground under your feet and the sounds around you. Write down something good that happened today–even if it was that the kid who bagged your groceries didn’t smash the bread.

Gratitude allows you to see the wonder and awesomeness of being alive.

GRACE for a Stress-less Holiday: via Kitchen Stewardship

R is for a Realistic Schedule.

When Hubby and I were newlyweds, this was our Christmas routine: Christmas Eve dinner at his family’s ranch. Midnight Mass. After-Mass gathering at a friend’s house. Christmas morning breakfast with his family. Christmas day with my family. Christmas dinner with his extended family. Go home and collapse.

Needless to say, we’ve cut this schedule back now that we have kids. Can you imagine keeping a 6-year-old and an infant occupied during all those events?

It’s not easy to say “No,” especially to family–but our sanity is more important than dragging ourselves to 6+ events in a 24 hour period. It’s more fun to celebrate the weekend before and spend the entire day together, anyway.

GRACE for a Stress-less Holiday: via Kitchen Stewardship

A is for Ask for Help.

Do you beat yourself up to fulfill “family expectations” (see above) or overextend yourself to make memories for the kids? Do you think if one event falls through, or if the gifts aren’t wrapped perfectly, or your cookies burn, the entire holiday is ruined?

You are bullying yourself. Harsh words, I know–but many of us lose our minds at the holidays and end up yelling at Hubby, the kids, and mentally tearing ourselves down. Don’t do it!

Ask for help. If you have cloth gift bags, anyone can wrap presents. Grandma and Grandpa will be tickled that the kids wrapped their gift (even if it IS in a dinosaur gift bag).

Buy a pie instead of making one. Let Hubby make Dad’s Cheeseburger Helper from Better Than A Box for dinner.

Remember that you don’t have to do everything yourself. Don’t overshadow fun Christmas memories by being stressed and exhausted! That’s not the image to imprint in your family’s mind.

GRACE for a Stress-less Holiday: via Kitchen Stewardship

C is for Care for Yourself.

Take care of yourself and not just everyone else. There’s a reason the flight attendants tell you to put your oxygen mask on before you put it on your kids! Us moms often put ourselves last, and we end up tired and burned out.

Make sure you look out for yourself during this busy time. You deserve to have a say in how your time is spent. Maybe you don’t have to attend your mother-in-law’s best friend’s holiday party. Send Hubby to the party with the kids, and spend an hour with a good book. A bit of self-care goes a long way.

Speaking of which–do you dream of the day you can afford a pedicure, massage, or yoga class? Or time to have coffee with a friend each month? Why not add those things to your Christmas list?

E is for Expectations.

Talk with your family openly and see what their “must have” expectations are for the holidays. I grew up making cookies with Grandma every Christmas, but our kids aren’t crazy about that. Instead, our family decorates the tree together while listening to Christmas music.

We have friends who go caroling every year, and others who go for a drive to see the decorated houses. Each family has a different requirement for what “makes” Christmas for them.

It’s OK to change your expectations, too. When our second child was born, we decided to do Christmas cards and family photos every other year. This helps our stress levels and our budget!

How do you give yourself GRACE during the holidays?

BTMprofilepicroundCorporate writer by day; hobby gardener, avid reader, and housework avoider by night, Pam blogs at about easy ways for your family to be healthy and live naturally–all between work, dinner, baths, and bedtime.

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Kitchen Stewardship is dedicated to balancing God’s gifts of time, health, earth and money. If you feel called to such a mission, read more at Mission, Method, and Mary and Martha Moments.

Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post to Amazon, From Nature with Love, Mountain Rose Herbs and Tropical Traditions from which I will earn some commission if you make a purchase. See my full disclosure statement here.

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Monday Mission: Make Your Own Cranberry Juice {GUEST POST}

December 16th, 2014 · Monday Missions, Recipes

This is a guest post from a generous reader, Linda, who responded to my request for “reader driven” Monday Missions. I have frozen cranberries that I never know what to do with, so I hoped this recipe idea would be helpful to others, too, especially while cranberries are on sale this month (and usually clearanced out after Christmas, FYI). And yes, I know it’s a Tuesday…can I have a “bye” on keeping my calendar organized since I’m still on partial maternity leave?

Homemade Cranberry Orange Juice

Everyone loves cranberries: in sauce, in bread, and, of course, cranberry juice. Bottles of cranberry juice line the shelves at the store or you might even find some concentrate in the freezer section. If you, like me, object to the added sugar and wonder what else is in that bottle, the solution is here. You can make your own! No expensive equipment required.

Homemade Cranberry Juice

Cranberries are in season mostly in the fall, and in the grocery stores before Thanksgiving. (Note from Katie: You can put bags of fresh cranberries straight in the freezer so stock up if you find a deal!) Try this recipe with just cranberries, and then experiment with adding other fresh fruits that might be available: blood oranges, blackberries, or raspberries. Any fresh or frozen fruit you regularly enjoy could be added. [Read more →]

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Time & Budget Busters: 6 Snack Foods You Should Make At Home (And 6 You Should Buy)

December 12th, 2014 · Tips

Time & Budget Busters: 6 Snacks You Should Make At HomeThis post is by contributing writer Bethany Wright.

It’s the Most Snackiest Time of the Year!

This time of year always stretches my creativity when it comes to surviving the marathon of holiday events, family gatherings, Christmas potlucks, and crazy schedules. When it comes to navigating the holiday busyness with our little ones, I find that snacks can be the make-or-break difference – especially with late-night events and routines that aren’t even close to normal.

(Snacks can also help us Big Ones survive, too!)

But constant on-the-go snacking can quickly and secretly drain your budget. And at the end of the day – it’s just SNACKS! It’s one thing to splurge on the occasional lunch or breakfast. This season can be a time when funds – and time – are tight. When I’m stressed and rushed, it’s easy to reach for a carton of crackers or a box of applesauce squishers … it’s great for saving time, but is so painful to the budget. GAH! What to do??
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Surprises, Being Wrong and Discovering a Name (Birth Story, Part 2)

December 11th, 2014 · My Story


I sure made you wait a long time for part 2!

I would say it’s appropriate because I had to wait to meet this baby, but he was only (barely) a day overdue, so that would be quite the exaggeration.

Life (and editorial calendars) march on…but now I’m back!

Be sure to start with part one of Gabriel’s birth story HERE if you haven’t read it. You’ll see that I decided to write to him as a love letter of sorts, even though when he’s all grown up as a man, he probably won’t care about these things.

Likely he wouldn’t care about his baby book, either, which is good since he won’t have much of one!

So here we go, picking up where we left off…I was in the birthing tub, smacking the side with strong contractions and praising God the older kids weren’t trying to sleep in their beds…and I’m backtracking just a smidge because I forgot where precisely I ended part one and wanted to extrapolate a bit…

One of the parts about a hospital birth that I just abhor is the monitoring. When a woman arrives in labor, she has to lie down and be still for 20 minutes with a monitor wrapped around her belly to get a "baseline" reading on contractions, heart rates, and who knows what else. I’ve only had to endure it once due to the speed of babies two and three, but it was excruciating for someone who only likes to labor standing and walking.

The monitor comes back intermittently throughout labor and seemed to be a constant near the end since safety can be touch and go at that point.

In a home birth, the midwives usually have a Doppler machine, the same little thing docs use to listen to the heartrate at prenatal checkups. It’s just a little wand attached to a cord and walkie talkie shaped monitor, like this:

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That would be my 6-year-old daughter helping listen to baby’s heart tones at a prenatal – a cool benefit of having a midwife visit the home. You can see the Doppler machine in her hand.

When that unobtrusive little thing intruded into my space in the water tub during a contraction, however, I came the closest to biting someone’s head off as I would come during labor. It was all I could do not to yell at the assistant, "Get that #%*! thing out of here!" I’m not really sure what I did say, but it was something more like, "Ugh, get it away…please?"

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Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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