Homemade Marshmallows

Healthy Simplicity - Homemade Marshmallows

Recently we had to take Ethan to our naturopathic doctor because he seemed to be having some digestive issues. We decided to put him on an elimination diet to see if there are any foods that are bugging him. This means that for the next six weeks he cannot eat any dairy, wheat, eggs, soy, corn, citrus or sugar.

I didn’t panic because I did this about ten years ago when Ezra was small and covered in eczema. Putting Ezra on an elimination diet totally cleared his eczema – he’s never been troubled with it since. So I understand that these diets can be very beneficial.

The gluten-free market has really exploded since Ezra had to do a similar diet so I’m finding it even easier to buy special foods for Ethan. That being said, they are pricey. So in the interest of keeping our costs down I’d like to make his treats and not have to buy them. I don’t mind buying bread, pasta and cold cereal for the next couple of months. I have enough regular baking to do without learning a new way of making bread.

Thankfully we have a wonderful homemade marshmallow recipe. It comes from Sarah at the Whole and Heavenly Oven blog. This recipe is super easy. You only need gelatin, water, honey, salt and vanilla. It also helps if you have some patience (difficult for a three-year-old) because there is a fair amount of waiting.

I’m not going to reproduce the recipe on my blog. You can go to Sarah’s blog and see all of her gorgeous pictures.  I took pictures of Ethan making these with me to inspire you to make them with your children. This recipe is so simple, and you can feed it to your children guilt-free. Plus you can have the added bonus of being the uber-cool mom who makes marshmallows.

In addition to being easy they are delicious. You know how sometimes you try to make a healthy recipe for some junk food your craving and it doesn’t work so much? Not these. You could blindfold someone, and they wouldn’t know the difference. So grab a child and head to the kitchen. You will not regret it.

Healthy Simplicity - Homemade Marshmallows

adding water

Healthy Simplicity - Homemade Marshmallows

adding the gelatin

Healthy Simplicity - Homemade Marshmallows

heating the syrup – one of the waits – waiting for the syrup to get to the right temperature

Healthy Simplicity - Homemade Marshmallows

To be able to insert the thermometer far enough, I tilt the pan to make the liquid deeper.

Healthy Simplicity - Homemade Marshmallows

slowly adding the syrup

Healthy Simplicity - Homemade Marshmallows

The liquid starts off honey-coloured.

Healthy Simplicity - Homemade Marshmallows

Making sure the mixer is working properly means calling in reinforcements.

Healthy Simplicity - Homemade Marshmallows

The white colour we were waiting for.

Healthy Simplicity - Homemade Marshmallows

another long wait – setting up

Healthy Simplicity - Homemade Marshmallows

But in the meantime, there is always the beater.

Healthy Simplicity - Homemade Marshmallows

really, really good


Library Time 41

Library Time - Healthy Simplicity

This week has seemed to speed by for some reason. I can’t believe it’s Saturday, but I’m glad it is. This has been a difficult week in many ways because my children have been succumbing one by one to some kind of respiratory flu. The last few days I’ve been serenaded by a chorus of coughing. On Wednesday night I ended up at the hospital with my three-year-old. Thank God for modern medicine. He was soon breathing comfortably again.

Thank God also for my Kindle. I have it loaded with a lot of children’s books including the entire Beatrix Potter series. We read a lot of books, and when my mouth was tired of reading he was content to look at various picture books. Once the medication kicked in but before we were allowed to leave the Kindle kept a restless-feeling-better little boy happily occupied.

With all the sickness this week I wanted some lighter reading. Since I recently watched “Emma” with my oldest daughter I decided to read Mr.  Knightley’s Diary by Amanda Grange. As far as I know, she has done diary’s for seven male characters in the Jane Austen books. She has captured the spirit of Jane Austen well. It’s fun to read the story from the perspective of the hero. One of my favourite things about Emma’s story in Amanda Grange’s book {SPOILER ALERT} is that she gave Miss Bates a husband. A new man moves to Highbury. He’s been a widower for some years and still loves his wife. However, he soon sees Miss Bates as his wife’s equal and slowly his affection is transferred from his dead wife to Miss Bates. I have always enjoyed the character of Miss Bates so I was very excited to see this happily ever after ending for her.


16-year-old daughter – Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. This is her current favourite. We both think this is a book everybody should read preferably before they watch the movie. I’m also including a trailer to the movie. We’re looking forward to seeing this when it comes out on dvd.



14-year-old son – Days of Terror by Barbara Smucker. This book takes place in 1917 and after and follows a Mennonite Russian Ukranian family as they survive the revolution and decide to journey to North Amercia where they can live in peace.


12-year-old son – Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane by Suzanne Collins

 10-year-old daughter – The Candymakers by Wendy Mass. I haven’t read this yet, but my children assure me it’s similar to “The Mysterious Benedict Society” which I enjoy so I would like this too. I’ll probably try it sometime soon.

 8-year-old daughter – The Secret of Cliff Castle by Enid Blyton. We love Enid Blyton adventure stories and have lots on our shelf. Recently we came across a good deal on several 3-in-1 volumes of her stories so we stocked up. We’ve been giving them out as rewards and for some new reading for long road trips.


6-year-old son – Margaret Pumphrey’s Pilgrim Stories. This is a chapter book about the Pilgrims for ages 6-8. We are enjoying reading this together.


3-year-old son – Spot by Eric Hill. Lately Ethan’s been enjoying anything Spot. We have this giant treasury that you see below, and it is in absolute tatters. One of the stories is about Spot visiting a friend in the hospital. We had read it the day before Ethan had to go to the hospital which was nice because I could remind him of things from the book while we were there.

 21-month-old son – anything Beatrix Potter. To be honest he doesn’t “read” them much. Mostly he loves to carry them around in stacks. I read somewhere that Beatrix Potter insisted on the small format for little hands. Jonah surely agrees with her. Sometimes he piles up too big of a stack though and then he is so sad and needs help to carry them. He loves to carefully stack them up and then look at them one by one. Compared to the overall time he spends with them, I would say that only about 10% is spent in actual reading – the rest is stacking and carrying. I figure though that they’re instilling a love of books in him so it’s all good.

 Healthy Simplicity - Library Time

 So now it’s your turn. What have you and your family been reading this week?


Years ago a friend gave this poem to me. I don’t know who the author is, but I’m hoping this will encourage someone today.

Healthy Simplicity - Housewife

 Don’t you feel better now about “just” being a stay-at-home mom? ~smile~

So Send I You

Hymn - So Send I YouI don’t get to play the piano as often as I would like to, but one day last week I had a few minutes between lunch and nap time so I sat down at the piano. I love to just open up the hymnbook and just start playing whatever hymn catches my eye. Sometimes I sing along with my playing. Most of the time I just read the words in my head and play.

I find that often the words really speak to my heart – comforting, convicting, encouraging. This time I came to the song “So Send I You”. I hadn’t played or sung this song in a while and the words just about jumped off the page at me with their powerful message.

In our western civilization we have become accustomed to a cushy lifestyle. We complain about the silliest things – too long of a lineup in the store, our favourite  _______ being out of stock, a headache, having to wait four hours in the hospital E.R. (some people wait days to see a doctor), not being able to book the cottage we always go to, too hot in the summer, too cold in the winter. We have come to think of ourselves as entitled to a life of ease. We want everything to go our way.

The truth is that it’s in the difficulties of life that we grow. Our relationship with the Lord deepens, our compassion for others expands, the rough edges of our personality get smoothed out a little. We don’t vote for trials, but often they are the door to blessing. One of the hardest times in my life happened when I was 22. My fiancé of four years told me he no longer loved me or wanted to marry me. The bottom dropped out of my world.

BUT, and this is important, God gave me a better husband than the one I originally thought I would have. I would repeat that trial ten times over to get my husband. Not only that I can remember such sweet times of being close to the Lord and relying on Him alone for strength to get through that day. Those are times I wouldn’t trade. The valleys are so difficult but without them we wouldn’t have the sweetness of the mountain tops.

Being a pastor’s wife is not always easy. I wouldn’t trade my position, but sometimes there is hurt. People misunderstand you or even worse your husband. They say hurtful things. Sometimes it feels like no one is listening or wants help. You watch in pain as people make wrong decisions. There are wonderful times of fellowship and friendship, but in the times of hardship it can be hard to keep going.

The key is that have to remember that we are no better than Jesus. He told His disciples that if He was persecuted they would be also because the servant is not greater than his lord. “Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.” John 15:20

These words were such a good reminder to me that what I do is for the Lord, and since He knows what I’m experiencing He can give the comfort and strength I need.

So send I you to labour unrewarded
To serve unpaid, unloved, unsought, unknown
To bear rebuke to suffer scorn and scoffing
So send I you to toil for Me alone

So send I you to bind the bruised and broken
O’er wandering souls to work, to weep, to wake
To bear the burdens of a world a-weary
So send I you to suffer for My sake

So send I you to loneliness and longing
With heart a-hungering for the loved and known
Forsaking kin and kindred, friend and dear one
So send I you to know My love alone

So send I you to leave your life’s ambition
To die to dear desire, self-will resign
To labour long, and love where men revile you
So send I you to lose your life in Mine

So send I you to hearts made hard by hatred
To eyes made blind because they will not see
To spend, though it be blood to spend and spare not
So send I you to taste of Calvary

“As the Father hath sent me, so send I you”

E. Margaret Clarkson

In researching this post I came across the testimony of the woman who wrote this song. You can read it here and be blessed.

 What songs or verses encouraging you to keep doing what God wants you to do?


What I’m Thankful For

Healthy Simplicity - Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving here in Canada. We had a lot of fun. Family and friends came for a meal making 21 people to feed. I loved it. It really isn’t that hard to make extra when I’m already cooking for 10. ☺

All day while I prepared food and tidied the house and changed diapers and kissed boo-boos I thought of how much I have to be thankful for. God has so richly blessed my life especially when I think of what others are suffering right now in different places in the world.

So here is my off-the-top of my head list of all that I’m thankful for.

  • My salvation – Without Jesus at the centre of my life everything else would be meaningless.
  • My family – A wonderful husband who was so worth the weight, eight beautiful and healthy children, parents who encouraged me in my dreams and gave me good principles to live by.
  • My church – I love going to church and fellowshipping with everyone there and being encouraged through the singing and preaching.
  • My health – I’ve had enough sickness to not take health lightly.
  • Food, clothes and a warm house
  • All my tools – sewing machine, stand mixer, blender, etc.
  • The internet – Our family is so spread out. The internet makes it so much easier for us to stay in contact.
  • All the great books I’ve read this year.
  • My ability to play the piano – I didn’t always want to practice, but I am more than happy that my parents made me. Nothing relaxes me like sitting down at the piano and playing. If no babies try to make a duet, I can really zone out at the piano.
  • Hikes and day trips
  • Living in the great and free country of Canada

I really could go on for a long time getting more and more detailed. I’m sure we all could. And when we focus on what we have instead of what we wish we had we find that we’re richer than we thought.

Happy Thanksgiving – now and in November for my American family and friends.


A Day in Our Life

 I’ve been reading quite a few day-in-the-life posts lately. Mostly from this blog. I thought it would be fun to do one on here.

So this is how life went for our family on Tuesday, September 23, 2014. ☺

3:45 – My day didn’t actually start this early, but I did get a wake-up request to nurse the baby. Next week we’re going to start night weaning him so he’ll sleep through the night. We started this once, and he got sick. I couldn’t not nurse him while he was sick so I stopped the night weaning, but next week we’ll start again.

5:50 – My husband wakes me up with a kiss – so much better than an alarm clock. I get up to make breakfast for him while he showers. I have it down to a science so once I get things rolling along I have time to read my Bible before he comes down to eat.

6:20 – The baby wakes up early so no “me time” when my husband leaves. Some mornings go that way.

6:25 – Sit with my husband while he eats his breakfast.

6:40 My husband is gone so I wake my children up. They will watch the baby and make breakfast while I shower. The joys of older children. If you have all little ones right now, hang in there. Life gets easier, especially if you teach them life skills like cooking.


This one has a hard time waking up.

7:30 – Breakfast time. Half way through breakfast the baby gets down from his seat to ask to nurse. Sigh. He’s still not very interested in solid food.

8:00 – Breakfast is  over so I spend a few moments on my blog while the children clean up. Again, the benefits of training your children. They take turns at cleaning the kitchen. I also dress the two little boys.

8:30 – Time to start our school day. We start by praying around in a circle and reading a chapter from Proverbs. I nurse the baby during this time. It helps to keep him happy for a while when we start our work. We do twenty minutes of copywork. Then it’s time to start on the day’s assignments.

Reading while we do copywork - It keeps him quiet.

Reading while we do copywork – It keeps him quiet.

9:35 – I remember I want to make egg salad for lunch so I put a dozen eggs on to boil. I should have set the timer because I forgot them until they boiled dry. Oh well, they still tasted good.

working on a history project

working on a history project

10:28 – The baby wants to nurse again so I announce a break. After nursing him I take a few minutes to do an exercise video from Fit2be. I love this website for exercise videos.

10:47 – Back to school

Healthy Simplicity - A Day in Our Life

keeping each other happy with their favourite book

11:08 – I “need” some fudge. Thankfully I keep a supply of homemade-good-for-you fudge.

11:55 – School is over except for a few assignments some of the older children will finish on their own later.

happy to play with their big brother for a few minutes

happy to play with their big brother for a few minutes

12:10 – Lunch time and then I spend an hour or so on the computer – social media, a game or two, emails.

1:20 – My husband calls. When we finish talking it’s time for the baby to nap and everyone else to do something quiet. I take a short nap after reading for a while. The older children take turns watching my three-year-old so he stays occupied and quiet during nap time.

2:30 – Work on my blog some more while the children play/tidy up/practice the piano

3:50 – Everyone’s hungry so I decide to make popcorn for us to munch on while we watch “Cupcake Wars” on YouTube. In the middle of watching my preschooler breaks a bowl while trying to get more popcorn for himself. Everything stops while I clean it up. The baby always assumes when I’m sitting down it’s so he can nurse. He nurses at least once but usually twice during this forty minute show. When we’re finished watching I start supper and the younger children all go outside. Someone takes a glass out (against the rules) and it gets broken. Seriously, two breaks in one day?

5:35 - Everything is bubbling along for supper so I decide to do a few minutes of “school” with my preschooler. We do a few minutes here and there together throughout the day. It works best for his short attention span. After about ten minutes we’re finished so I go upstairs to freshen up. I like to look nice for my husband when he gets home.

reviewing what big "A's" and little "a's" look like

reviewing what big “A’s” and little “a’s” look like

6:00 – Daddy is home and supper is on. Just before we sit down to eat, I remember something I need to print for school so I get it going. After supper it’s time for family devotions. This is another time that my baby always asks to nurse – again, I’m sitting. ☺Then my husband and I are off to the mall to pick up a photo order and do a little shopping. The mall is close enough that we can walk there which is nice for some extra exercise. My husband is 6′ 7″ so he has a long stride, and I have to move to keep up with him. He has learned to slow down a little over the years we’ve been married.

Who I see across the table from me every meal. Makes my meal sweeter.

Who I see across the table from me every meal. Makes my meal sweeter.

7:30 – We’re home. I tape some paper to the door going to our basement so my husband can do his yearly tradition of drawing a tree. We then add leaves to it every day until Thanksgiving. On the leaves we write things we are thankful for. Every year the children give suggestions of things to add to the tree. My three year old asks for an alligator. I think it’s because we were talking about alligators earlier while discussing things that start with “a”.

drawing the tree

drawing the tree


offering "helpful" suggestions

offering “helpful” suggestions


Even the baby wants to help.

Even the baby wants to help.

7:50 – Time to start getting my littles ready to bed. First, the preschooler. Then the baby.

8:20 – The house is settling into the quieter night time routine. In half an hour my six and eight year olds will go to bed. An hour later the rest of us will. It’s a nice time of night. My husband and I enjoy sitting together and watching a movie or just talking. Generally we’re interrupted several times, but I figure the children haven’t seen Daddy all day and have important things to tell him. This is my favourite time of day. Quietly sitting with my husband, reviewing our days, talking with the children who “interrupt” us, a hot tea made by my husband just the way I like it.

I love my busy, full days. This is the life I dreamed about since I was a little girl. I feel so blessed to be living my dream. God has been good to me.

What’s your favourite time of day?

Sorrow and Hope

Healthy Simplicity Ruth – how I love this story. It’s a beautiful love story that pictures God’s love for us, and it’s personal to me as I described here.

I just want to go through it a few verses at a time and share with you some of the things I’ve learned while meditating on this beautiful story.

Ruth 1:1-5

1  Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons.
2  And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehemjudah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there.
3  And Elimelech Naomi’s husband died; and she was left, and her two sons.
4  And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years.
5  And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband.

This story starts out very sad. First of all, it takes place during the time of the judges. We know that this was a time of judgment for Israel over and over again. The first verse tells us they were experiencing famine. Whether this was a judgment for a specific sin or just the way life happens sometimes we don’t know. We do know though that famine is hard no matter what the reason for it is.

Names in the Bible are significant. Bethlehem means “house of bread” making the fact of a famine there all the more sad. This family was living in a place that should have had an abundance of food. Instead a famine had made them think of doing the unthinkable – moving away from the land God had given them.

Egypt in the Bible is a type of the world. While it is true that Elimelech and his family did not go to the “world”, they did leave the place where God had put them to go to a land that had never been friendly to the Jewish people. We can only imagine how desperate the famine must have been for them to take this step.

Elimelech’s name means “my God is king”. The fact that they were called “Ephrathites” shows that Elimelech was of a noble lineage. Knowing this fact makes their move to Moab away from their home even more sad. I’m not trying to be dramatic here, but I wonder about the soul-searching and agonizing that went in to this decision. I’m inclined to believe this was not a decision made on the spur of the moment.

Naomi’s name means “pleasant”, and I’ve always imagined that she was a pretty lady inside and out. Someone you’d enjoy visiting or knew would be there to help you if you needed her. When she finally returns to Bethlehem her former neighbours seem to be happy to see her and they genuinely rejoice with her at the end of the book. So I think she was someone you would have been to happy to call your friend.

The meanings for Chilion and Mahlon are not as clear but appear to have something to do with weakness and sickness – a clue perhaps to why they did not make it to old age? Perhaps.

Verse 1 talks about the family “sojourning” in Moab which has a meaning of being a temporary dwelling place. But then we see in verse 2 that they “continued there”. That certainly speaks of more permanence. What changed? They must have wanted to go home. Anyone who has spent time in a foreign country knows how much they miss their own language, food, culture, etc. We don’t know what changed their mind. Perhaps Elimelech became ill? He seems to have died after a short time.

Then we see the family really putting down roots through the sons marrying Moabite women. I think this shows how far the family had moved from the place of God’s blessing. Instead of going back to Bethlehem to marry Jewish wives they took foreign wives. These were women from a country that God did not His people to have dealings with. Someone can be very nice, but we still need to be very careful who we form relationships with always seeking to know if this is what God wants.

I do have to say though that I see God working in the background to provide for Naomi. Surely he led Mahlon to marry Ruth. God knows the end from the beginning. He knew Ruth’s heart. He knew she would one day love Him and be a blessing to her mother-in-law. God always works the gold and silver threads into the tapestry of our life.

Interestingly the family now has ten years of apparent peaceful living. I say “interesting” because I wonder if this was God’s grace – giving them time to return to Bethlehem. “Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” Romans 2:4 and “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 Over and over again the Bible tells us that God is longsuffering.

We should never take advantage of this, but what a comfort to know that God IS longsuffering. If this were not true, we would all have been in big trouble long ago. There is always hope.

So, we don’t know if Elimelech, Chilion and Mahlon all died as a result of God’s judgment, but it does give us pause to stop and ask ourselves – Are we living in the place of God’s blessing or have we wandered out of the place where God wants us. If we have, God is ever merciful and forgiving allowing us to come back to Him.

Favourite Blogs

I thought it would be fun to share with you some of the blogs I enjoy reading. You may find one that is an encouragement to you.

So, without any further introduction and in no particular order here are some blogs that I read on a regular or semi-regular basis.

Heavenly Homemakers

This was one of the first blogs I discovered. I’ve read it for years. I appreciate Laura’s sense of humour and the way she makes healthy living simple. She is very encouraging to anyone who is on a journey of living. Her recipes are delicious.


heavenly homemakers

Keeper of the Home

This is another blog I discovered years ago. There is so much information on this blog about living healthy.


 The Welcoming House Blog

There is a lot of good information on this blog about living simply and naturally. She also talks about prepping for an emergency – not crazy like “Doomsday Preppers” but sensible ways for being prepared.

welcoming house

Titus 2

I can’t even remember how or when I first discovered the Maxwell family. It was years ago when I only had two children, I think. Anyway, Mrs. Maxwell has written a book about how to manage time as a mother. While I don’t follow her plan perfectly, I have implemented a lot of what she teaches. I’m also signed up to get her monthly email. She is a mom of eight with three married children and several grandchildren. She has a lot of wisdom to offer mothers. I enjoy reading the blog that is written mostly by her oldest daughter, Sarah. Their family has a ministry of encouraging and teaching families. I enjoy reading this blog so much.

titus 2

Whole and Heavenly Oven

I don’t read this blog every day, but honestly, if you’re looking for a good recipe to bake – GO HERE. Sarah has amazing recipes. I have never been disappointed in any that I have tried. We have had so much fun making marshmallows. Thank you so much, Sarah. They taste exactly like store-bought ones but are totally healthy (and crazy easy to make).

whole oven

Ramblings of a Janeite

This one is written by my daughter. I love reading what she writes. I know I’m prejudiced, but I think she’s a pretty good writer. She writes about all of her interests – books, movies, music and more books. I love reading her book reviews.


To Put Together

My oldest son also has a blog. He doesn’t post as often as my daughter, but when he does you can usually see one of his awesome Lego builds. He has serious talent when it comes to using legos.

to put together

Skip to My Lou

There are a lot of craft/sewing tutorials on the blog. I’ve tried some, and quite often go to this blog when I need a homemade gift idea. So if you like crafts and sewing check it out. There are also recipes.


The Humbled Homemaker

This is another blog about being a natural, simple-living mama. Erin has written a book about cloth diapering and has a lot of information about it on her blog also.


One way I keep track of what blogs I want to read is by using “bloglovin“. You just set up an account, and you can add blogs to it that you want to follow. You can either go to Bloglovin every day and check what has been published that day on the blogs you are following, or you can just read through the summaries they send to your email and decide which posts you want to read in entirety. I like not having to visit every blog every day. If the summaries don’t interest me, then I skip them and save my time for something else.

What blogs do you enjoy reading?