Quiet and common notions...shared here...with you! Of life ~ our hearts and our home.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Mugs & Muffins :: Giveaway! (now CLOSED):: Our Journey to Healthy Eating (Sarah Herr)

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It's good to have you here again for this exciting morning filled with an abundance of great food, (of course!)your favorite beverage and fellowship.

What would we ever do without coffee?

Have you ever tried it Iced?
As in, a fabulous homemade version?
If not.  I dare you to try this one.
You'll be so glad you did.

Hey!  How has that smile been?  I've been thinking of all of you this past month - working on those smiles and all.  I know I've sure been trying to work on mine - some more.  I pray it's working...

Why don't we do this.

Go ahead and give your imaginary neighbor -sitting there on your left, because you know how they say, "Pass to the left and you'll always be right." - well, go ahead, give them that stiletto elbow.  We're going to pass this plate of muffins around!  No one wants to miss out on these.  You can be sure.

Today's mouth-watering feature is:

Pinned Image

Strawberry Cream Cheese Muffins

The recipe for these muffins and photo credit is linked to my *new* blogging friend Kristin, from Sweet Country Life ,via Pinterest.  With her permission, of course!  Kristin, is so sweet - you'll have to go over to her blog to say, hello!

Oh, and be warned!  Today's Mugs & Muffins is a bit lengthy, but all so good.  Today we're featuring LOTS of recipes and links to several different things.  I hope you take the time to check it all out.

Ladies.  I'm so excited about sharing this day with you.  Really I am.  We've been talking about (back on Friday) how a gift from the kitchen is a gift from the heart.  I hope you catch the drift in today's Mugs & Muffins of how much these two friends, that I cannot wait to introduce to you today, are doing just that.  Giving you a gift. 

One is my real-life friend, Nancy, who reads Treasured Up and Pondered quite regularly, and often comments, but does not have her own blog.  Nancy has graciously volunteered something -beautifully handmade- for our giveaway later on, at the end of this post.  (Which I can't wait to talk about that.  But I will. Just wait!) And ladies, is she ever oh, SO TALENTED!  I keep trying to encourage her to open up her own Etsy Shop.  She doesn't have one of those either...and she needs to- or do something.  (I'm serious!)

Nancy, you know I'm just giving you a hard time.

In the meantime, we'll just have to continue to "encourage" her along the way towards that endeavor... maybe one day!

Next up, in my introduction, is another real life friend of mine, named Sarah.  Sarah has graciously agreed to share as our guest post "speaker" today.  Sarah keeps a blog, Domesticity, and writes there fairly regularly. Okay.  I was going to be gracious there, but in her words she says it's only in her spare time... and that is very rare with being a busy mom of 5 children (and it has to be!)...plus, she home schools three of them.

Please be sure check out her blog, when you get a chance, in particular, thanking her for sharing her thoughts and ideas with us today.

Let's get right to today's topic. 

:: Our Journey to Healthy Eating ::

by Sarah Herr
But before we do.  I wanted to quickly include this in my introduction.  I have read most of what Sarah is going to "speak" about today - previously - as she has written on this topic on her blog...and it intrigues me.  If you know me well... I cook like I've been taught and like how I've grown up eating.  So, while it's a desire of mine to incorporate even more of a healthy approach to my cooking  (because I have changed for the good, a lot!) - I, even I, have so much to learn.  And, for sure, it's hard to teach an old dog new tricks. So join me in listening in to what Sarah has to say. 

Will you?  Here is Sarah...

So many things change when you have your first child. You suddenly realize that this tiny, little person is completely dependent upon you to nourish them and care for them. It was around the time that we started our family (almost 10 years ago!) that I became more interested in what exactly we were putting into our bodies and how I was specifically caring for my family through my cooking and baking. I was the kind of girl who loved helping my mom in the kitchen and longed for the day when I would have my own kitchen to cook and bake things for my own family. While I wouldn't say I grew up eating a terrible diet, I didn't know much about eating a more traditional, whole foods diet either. And I certainly had no idea about good fats, healthy oils, sourdough, soaking grains, cultured foods, raw dairy, grass-fed and cage free meats and why I should care about organic and genetically modified foods. Sure, I knew there were people who actually ground their own flour and made a lot from scratch ... they were fondly referred to as health nuts. What I wouldn't have told you was that I would be one of them someday!

One of the things I constantly tell people who ask me about how we eat is to remember that I took baby steps to get to where we are today. If I would have tried to make all of the changes overnight or even in one month I would have gotten completely overwhelmed and given up! In fact, many of the changes I have made only took place after we had 3 of our 5 children. Having three children barely 3 and under was an incredibly busy, exhausting season of life and I knew that during that season it was not a time to try and make lots of changes. Instead, I chose to do what I could, continue educating myself when I had the time, and trust that God would help me to be the kind of wife, mom and homemaker that He has called me to. Another thing I want to be clear about is that we are always happy to eat what is put in front of us. I try very hard to make sure that people don't ever feel judged or have thoughts like "we can't have that family over because I don't know what I would feed them." I very rarely bring up the topic of food and how we eat unless I am asked about it for that reason! I know firsthand how especially we, as females, are often comparing and trying to measure up to those around us and my desire is to encourage others, not tear them down.

So, with that in mind ... what exactly do we eat (most of the time)? We try to eat whole, real foods in the way that God gave them to us. We drink whole raw milk, use real cream and real butter, buy fresh and free-range eggs, fresh and local meats, veggies and fruits. I don't buy all of our produce local and organic, but I do try to as much as possible. I find it helpful to refer to the Dirty Dozen list to know which fruits and veggies are sprayed the most. This Healthy 4 Life guide, put out by the Weston A. Price foundation, describes much of how we try to eat. The things we try to avoid include High Fructose Corn Syrup, MSG, hydrogenated oils, soy, white flour, white sugar/refined sweeteners, and food colors/dyes. Since most processed foods contain at least one of these, I do try and make much of what we eat from scratch. And yes, I am now one of those health nuts who grinds her own flour! I do this for a few reasons. For one, it is a much more frugal to buy whole grains in bulk and grind them myself. Secondly, when you grind you own grains you receive all of the nutrients that you only get when you grind it fresh. And last, but not least ... everything tastes sooooo much better! I personally love Hard White Wheat for my yeast-breads and Soft White Wheat for my non-yeast breads as I find that the White Wheat gives a much lighter product. We love homemade bread, cinnamon toast (or rolls, yummy!), English muffins, tortillas, french bread/dinner rolls, pizza dough, bagels, pancakes, waffles, muffins, quick-breads, etc.. All of these things are so much better tasting (and better for you!) when made with freshly ground flour. Although a little time consuming, the kids love helping me make homemade bagels and they are a special treat around here!

Do we eat perfectly healthy all of the time? No! Are there seasons of life when, try as I might, I can't do everything I would like to do and so I make compromises? Yes! Does my husband love his Peanut M&M's? Yes, and I'm ok with that! I simply try to do the best I can to care for my family in every season of life that God has me in.

Some may be wondering why we have chosen to eat this way. Well, I have noticed that we all tend to feel better, have more energy, and stay healthier when we eat whole foods, and that enables me to fulfill my role as a wife, mother and homemaker much easier. I like feeling good, and I also enjoy being able to have the energy to do all that God has called me to, including serving my family and others. I don't know how many more days, months or years God has for me, but I do know that I want to be able to serve Him as best I can while I am here!

So many people think eating healthy means eating food that doesn't taste good. But if you ask my husband and children, I'm pretty confident that they will say they love the food we eat! A current favorite healthy treat that our kiddos constantly ask for are Popsicles of all sorts. Although I make homemade Popsicles year round, we eat them practically every day during the summer when it is blazing hot outside! Our favorite Popsicle molds include: Tovolo Groovy Ice Pop Molds , Tovolo Star Ice Pop Molds, Tovolo Rocket Ice Pop Molds, and the Norpro Silicone Ice Pop Maker Set. The silicone molds are especially great for making a homemade "go-gurt" pop and I use them the most year-round since they travel well.

Here is one of our favorite recipes for a Creamy Fruit Popsicle:

~1 lb. (approx. 4 cups) fresh or frozen*, ripe fruit
~1 c. plain, whole milk yogurt
~2 T. raw honey or maple syrup

*If using frozen fruit, allow to thaw first.

Place fruit, yogurt and sweetener in VitaMix (or blender) and blend until thoroughly combined. Pour mixture into pop molds and allow to freeze for 6-8 hours. When ready to serve, run the pop molds under warm water for a few seconds to loosen before removing.

I have loved discovering new things along my journey to healthier eating (I certainly don't know it all!) and would be happy to answer any questions as I'm able in the comments. And don't worry ... if you aren't a health nut like me, I will still be your friend and eat chocolate with you (especially dark chocolate)!

Thank you, Sarah for sharing your ideas with us today.  I know I have learned much but mostly I have been inspired to be even more careful and specific when it comes to making healthy choices, come out of my kitchen for my own family.  I personally thank you for your tutorial on making bagels.  I have had a bagel made from your recipe, one time, and I swear it was the best bagel I have ever had.  And.  This Popsicle recipe will surely be used sometime this week... especially with the weather - the way it's been around here. ;)

So, thank you again.  You've been a real blessing today.

A gift from the kitchen is a gift from the heart. ~ unknown


And now for our special giveaway!  Which you have all been waiting so patiently for...  Thank you!

: Giveaway :

From my talented friend Nancy - who wove this cloth on her own personal loom.  This is such a gift.  Weaving is a talent that, I'm afraid like so many other things, is quickly becoming a lost art in this day and age.
Someone help me. Tell her she needs to sell these things on a regular basis.  Please!! ;)

HANDWOVEN BREAD CLOTH - colors in Olive and Caramel  (Sorry, the basket is NOT included.)

Here is what, my friend, Nancy B. has to say:
As far as my weaving, I took a 6-week course in Doylestown, PA back in 1984. We'd meet once or twice a week~~I don't remember which. After that, I got an 8-harness Tools of the Trade loom with a 54" weaving width. It was made by a man in VT and it was a very exciting day when it was delivered! I read a lot of reading books and magazines and pretty much taught myself, using the skills I had learned in my class.
I had originally thought I'd weave to supplement our income, but never really got into the craft show thing. I mostly just weave gifts for friends and family and my own household use, and have sold a few things occasionally.
What the cloth is made of and how to care for it:
This Organic colorgrown cotton was grown in Texas and processed in the States. The colorgrown cottons are from Thantex Mills. These cottons are not dyed so they do not fade. Instead the become richer and brighter with washing. If the color fades with sunlight, simply wash it and add a little washing soda or use a detergent that has washing soda in it. Sometimes it will take up to 3 washings in hot water before all the waxes are removed and the cotton becomes absorbent. The baby blankets I've made became silky soft over the years with use and still look great!

Naturally colored cotton yarns are very special. These fiber colors are grown so they deepen and darken with use, not fading, the colors actually deepen up to 10 washings. These are very soft yarns and make lovely items like dish towels, hand towel, or bath towels, place mats and table runners, basket liners, curtains, shawls, scarves and blankets. You need to try this yarn to understand how special it truly is.

A HUGE thank you - to Nancy for this fabulous giveaway!  Uhmmm...a muffin recipe? a bagel recipe?  Now a  Bread cloth?  Wow! what a winning combination, eh?

Let me tell you what. On a personal note,  I have been the blessed recipient of a couple of hand woven pieces from Nancy.  One being, a white Baby Blanket - that I could hardly bare to use.  I did use it - for all three of my children but Nancy would have to (kindly) often chide me and remind me that... NO!  It must be used... it's meant to be usedPlease, please!  Use it.

Anyway.  It is so beautiful and PERFECT!  and more recently, Nancy gave me a tea towel that she wove.  I feel blessed. 

Okay so.  I hope you enter this giveaway!  Please do so by leaving a comment with your thoughts or questions about today's topic for either Sarah or Nancy.  Enter this giveaway by leaving a comment...leave as many as you want.  If you don't want to participate in the drawing, but have something you would like to say - just say so.

This giveaway will close out on Wednesday Evening at 10:00pm, EST.  The winner will be selected and announced sometime on Thursday, of this week.  Please be sure to include an email and your name if you post anonymously.  You don't need to have your own blog to enter.

((This GIVEAWAY is now closed.))****
Wow!  What a day this has been.  What do you think of those muffins?  And that Iced Coffee?  Good, eh?

If YOU have a muffin recipe and would like to be featured here on Mugs & Muffins... give me a shout!

That's all for this "gathering" today.  Thanks for coming and participating in the fun.  I can't wait to hear from you.  I love it when I do.

Blessings to you... hope you keep working on that smile of yours... and give a gift from the kitchen today.

Your kitchen.

Would you?
.. . .. .  . . ..
Edited to Update:  I just found out that Nancy is away for a week - to Mexico - with her church.  Please pray for her and the team that went.  Any specific questions, thoughts or comments directed towards her will be followed up, upon her return.  Thanks.


  1. Wonderful stuff today Bev! Your friend Nancy is very talented! Maybe if you can't convince her to open an Etsy shop you could convince her to give a class on weaving. I would be very interested in that!

    What a lovely article from Sarah as well. One of the important things we must remember out trying to eat healthy, that is often forgotten, is how we may make other people feel when we talk about our choices. I feel like Sarah does a great job of making healthy choices for their family while not at all making anyone feel bad about the fact that maybe they don't eat as well. Sarah made some good points in that section of her article on how we women tend to struggle with comparing ourselves to others. Thanks Sarah for that great reminder.

  2. I loved this Mugs and Muffins today. The timing is perfect for me. I have a few pounds to lose and so desperately need to feel better and have more energy. Her thoughts are very helpful.

    As far as Nancy goes, I had to laugh, I received a baby blanket too and didn't want to use it. It's soooo pretty. Well, she gave me the same "lecture." "Use it, it's meant to be used!" HAHA! Anyway, she recently gave me one of those beautiful bread cloths. I absolutely love it. Enter me in the drawing and if I win, since I already have one, I will give it away as a "gift from my kitchen." :)

    Happy Monday.

  3. Please enter me in the giveaway :)

    LOVE you, Bev!


  4. Dearest Bevy~ Thank you so much for the muffin feature. What an honor!
    I love reading Sarah's words on eating healthy...as they are quite similar to mine. She is so right. It takes time, lots of time to make these changes. And I too, worry that people will thing I am being goody-goody about our food choices. But truly, we follow the 80/20 rule. Which means at least 80 percent of the time I keep things as healthy as I can. Leaving me wiggle room, 20 percent of the time.

    Hence those muffins... ;o)

    And just for laughs. A good friend of mine who knows how serious I am about nutrition. "Caught" my husband coming out of the local convenience store with a Mountain Dew! She even commented to the cashier, that "I would die" if I saw that. And the truth is. I don't like it when my family has soda. Especially M.D. And in his defense, he said he got "throw back" version, which contained real sugar instead of HFC. But it did have all of that vibrant food coloring. LOL

    He felt bad for caving in, in a moment of weakness, didn't drink it all and felt yucky having all of that sugar on an empty stomach.

    We all have weak moments.
    It's all about doing our best. Not perfection.
    And Sarah is right in that. The more healthy choices you make, the better you feel, and the more you become aware of how your body responds when given less than ideal "fuel."

    I for one have much more patience when I eat well.
    But, would never, ever, ever, turn my nose up at something ooey-gooey from another sweet kitchen.

    Loved this post!

    And those home spun towels....


  5. Great post, today! Lots of good info.

    AND I am in love with that hand woven towel! GORGEOUS and what amazing talent!

  6. Thanks girls for your kind words!

    I also think Nancy's hand woven towel is absolutely beautiful!

  7. Bev- thanks for this post today.

    I so enjoyed Sarah's thoughts on healthy eating. I most appreciate her non-judgemental approach! How refreshing and encouraging! The encouragement to take small steps makes me feel like there are little things I can do even this week to move further in this goal of healthy eating. Thanks for sharing Sarah!

    And YES- I agree! Nancy should sell on Etsy. So very talented!

  8. I'm so glad I have the opportunity to sit and take in all the information and comments on Mugs and Muffins. (retirement is great!)

    Eatting healthy is not a diet, it's a way of life. I learned that, when Tom and I lost weight.
    Everyday is a decision and we choose what goes into our bodies. I pray everyday that I will continue to eat healthy. Sometimes it's two steps forward and one step back. Other days it's the opposite.

    Nancy has a gift! To make cotton come alive, become useful and beautiful, that is a gift!

    Thank you Bevy for this moment of pleasure.

  9. The woven piece Nancy made is beautiful!
    ~Deb S.

  10. The bit Sarah wrote hit close to home! It was very encouraging and a little overwhelming (all those homemade bread items, WOW!) My husband and I are hoping/praying to work towards eating more whole foods and being more self sufficent in this area - that's why we bought our little hobby farm. We hope to get some chickens soon and maybe a beef cow! I love that Sarah has five kids and still has time to make all that she does AND blogs! ;)

    I had no idea people still did weaving - that's fantastic!! Nancy's items sound amazing, I LOVE the baby blanket idea!! She needs a store!!! :D

    This was a big post Bevy - but a good one! Glad my little one settled enough for me to finally read through it all! ;)

  11. Sarah's comments about healthy eating were so good. I have a lot of health issues and eating whole grains is a no-no for me. But I understand the concept and applaud those who can eat that way. As for me, during my chemo treatments I began going to a local farm and eating organic. My doctor asked what I was doing differently because my blood levels all improved. I cook all from scratch and eat very little (maybe 5% or less) processed food.

    Nancy's a very talented weaver. Yes, she needs to get someplace to sell her things.

  12. I stumbled upon Treasurd Up And Pondered today, and I'm so glad I did! Please enter me into the drawing. Bevp.2010@gmail.com

  13. What a precious story.
    I enjoyed reading every bit of it. It makes it easier for our family to strive for healthy eating when we consider our bodies are the temple of God.

    A fitting muffin recipe for this Monday:-)...and I know first hand that anything coming from Kristen's kitchen is out of this world.

    And the give-away...
    sweet! count me in please!

  14. p.s.
    i've been wearing my smile:-)))))

  15. great post bev! and to sarah, i hope to make baby steps towards healthier eating myself!

  16. This is only my second "mugs and muffins" experience and I JUST LOVE IT!!!!!!!!! Gifts from the kitchen...LOVE!!! It's something I always try to do. This past week or so with the heat wave I had the opportunity to be doing this along with working that smile as well. My son and his wife live a mile down the road from us but only have a window AC unit in their bedroom. Needless to say...quite hot during the day. My daughter-in-law with our granddaughter would come and spend most of the day. We made so many memories in our kitchen...preparing meals together, snacks, plenty of great conversation especially about making healthier food choices, and choosing recipes to prepare for the next heat wave. A lot of great memories made for sure. The best part was our little granddaughter who is only 5 months old loved it when everyone was together in the kitchen. She laughed, kicked and squealed and got very vocal as everyone was having conversation. She's already making her memories in our kitchen and blessing us with her gift of a smile and laughter!!!!
    Yes, please put me in for the giveaway. I agree she should be selling these...BEAUTIFUL!!!
    Thanks again for such an encouraging post. Melanie...mpoe@ccsites.com

  17. Wow the towel is beautiful. Sign me up. Great Post. Rachel

  18. A little late in leaving a comment to enter but I did want to say that I have also been a recipient of one of Nancy's creations-a GORGEOUS ivory baby blanket for Olivia. We didn't get to use it long but I did get some great pics of Olivia with the blanket and have it safely tucked away in her memory box. I will treasure it forever!


Thanks for coming by, today! You're visits always mean so much...

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