Library Time 43

Library Time - Healthy Simplicity

Wow! I can’t believe another week has gone by. This week seems to have sped by at the speed of light. We started school again full time with a big push to start catching up. We had another birthday. This time I didn’t make the cake. Ezra and Elisabeth (mostly Elisabeth) did all the baking and decorating. We made a piñata cake similar to the one described here. It was a big hit. And the baby has been adding new vocabulary every day at an astonishing rate. He’s hilarious because every word he says – no matter its length – is two syllables.

I was able to fit some reading in. I read While We’re Far Apart by Lynn Austin. It was every bit as good as Eva-Joy said it would be. A young woman with a crush, a teenage girl with a heart broken by loss, and a widowed Jewish man living in Brooklyn during World War II. It doesn’t seem like it would make a good plot, but it does. I recommend it as highly as my daughter does.

16-year-old daughter – Eva-Joy hasn’t had a lot of time to read because she’s writing a novel for National Novel Writing Month Challenge. She posts updates about how it’s going on her writing blog – “Scribblings of a Janeite”. You can read her two updates here and here.

14-year-old son – Apparently by oldest son read While We’re Far Apart too. He was bored and in need of a book so that’s what his sister recommended.

12-year-old son – City of Ember by Jeanne Duprau

10-year-old daughter – Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins

9-year-old daughter – The birthday girl (if you’re the noticing kind ☺) Viking Adventure by Clyde Robert Bulla. Bulla’s books are great for ages 7-9. Some are true stories; some are fiction; all are good.

6-year-old son – The Biggest Bear by Lynd Ward. We love this story about the baby bear brought home as a pet who turns into a problem when he eats everything in sight including the neighbour’s food.

3-year-old son – anything Curious George by H.A. Rey. A standby favourite.

The baby is still in love with all the Peter Rabbit books. He carries them all over the house and gets frustrated if the stack he put together is too big for his chubby little hands. He calls all of them “ra-ra” whether they’re about a rabbit or not.

What has your family read or reread this week?

Friday File

Healthy Simplicity - Friday FileLife is slowly getting back to normal after weeks of sickness. This week we had our first full week of school in about a month. It felt so good. We have a lot of catching up to do, but the children have been working hard to get their work done. Did I mention how good  getting back to our routine feels. It is wonderful.

I thought I’d share with you some things I’ve enjoyed reading this week on the internet. I hope they bless you as they did me. I’m also thinking about making this a regular thing.

First, is a beautiful post a mother wrote telling her sons why they need to wait to enjoy the intimacy of marriage. So. well. said.

Dear Kids: Why Wait till Marriage — What No One Tells You & What I Wish Someone Had Told Me

The next one comes from the same blog. I loved the idea in this post. I actually have started using it informally with our six-year-old. Quite often at night he comes to us and tells us he is sad or scared. Partly I think this is just a ploy to stay up and see us. Anyway, I used the idea from this post of counting our blessings with him. When he came to our room saying he was sad I told him to tell me three things he was thankful for. Then I helped him spell them out and write them down. He left happy and didn’t come back. Tonight he asked me to help him write three things down. I think I’m going to buy a notebook for him so he can do this more formally. It really is helping him.

1 Step Towards Raising Happier Kids…

Over the years I’ve struggled on and off with depression. One thing I’ve learned is that food affects my mood. I was happy to read this article about foods that help to ease anxiety and depression. This month has been stressful so not surprising that I’ve struggled a bit with feeling down. Thankfully there are some yummy ways I can help to lift my mood.

10 Foods That Decrease Anxiety and Depression

Something fun – a printable for a scavenger hunt when we go for a hike as a family.

Hiking Scavenger Printable for Kids

More fun – a treat we are definitely going to do this winter.

Cinnamon-Sugar Snowflakes

There’s no link for this – just an announcement. My daughter, who is doing the THM diet with me, recently found a recipe for a “Snickers Hot Chocolate”.  I was in serious need of chocolate today and in danger of going off diet. My daughter was not able to make me one of these hot chocolates, and I didn’t know where the recipe was. So, I made up a recipe for myself. The result was a not-too-sweet dark chocolate with a hint of peanut butter. Next week I’ll replicate this (hopefully), take notes and pictures and share it with you.

Now it’s your turn. What have you enjoyed reading on the ‘net this week?

Library Time 42

Library Time - Healthy Simplicity

Disclosure: Affiliate links

Hello everyone. I’m back. Our family has had a difficult fall. It started with one of our boys having a cough. Gradually more children developed a cough.

The two youngest, Ethan and Jonah, had the worst coughs. We took them to our naturopath. Along with recommendations for boosting their immune systems, she suggested that they needed to see a medical doctor because she suspected they had whooping cough. We took them to three different doctors including a trip to the E.R. and were always sent home. Finally, on our second visit to the E.R. someone said, “That cough sounds like whooping cough.” To make a very long story short Ethan and Jonah were admitted to the hospital for two days. They came home much better, but the rest of the children were very sick by then. It took about two weeks after the hospital visit to get everyone back to reasonable health.

This last week we finally started homeschooling full-time again. Let me just say that routine feels soooo good. So I guess you can understand why I haven’t been writing – I was running an infirmary.

It feels good to be back. I haven’t done a lot of serious reading lately. There just hasn’t been time. Thankfully my children all enjoy reading because at their worst any activity set them off coughing. Reading is a quiet activity. ☺

16-year-old daughter – While We’re Far Apart by Lynn Austin. My daughter has discovered a new author that she enjoys. This book is set in World War II – a current enthusiasm with Eva-Joy. She has given me the book to read with her highest recommendation as soon as I have the time.

14-year-old son – The Prophet of Yonwood by Jeanne Duprau. This is part of the “City of Ember” set. It’s actually a prequel to the trilogy.

12-year-old son – The Diamond of Darkhold by Jeanne Duprau. This is the last in the “City of Ember” series.

10-year-old daughter – Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

8-year-old daughter – Smuggler Ben by Enid Blyton. Enid Blyton books are a big favourite with us. They are adventure stories written for ages seven to ten. My children have had more than one “adventure” trying to be like the children in these books. When we moved into a century-old farmhouse they were so excited because it was like a setting in an Enid Blyton book. Who knew what forgotten tunnels and secret rooms they might find! Sadly there were none, but they still had fun looking.

6-year-old son – The Huckabuck Family by Carl Sandberg. This is another family favourite. The Huckabuck family lives in Nebraska and grows popcorn until a fire in the barn causes all the popcorn to pop. They go away to live somewhere else until they get a sign to return. There are some tongue twisters that make reading it out loud fun. And two cats – a black one and a white one – in every picture.

3-year-old son – The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss

22-month-old son – Peter Rabbit books by Beatrix Potter. I asked my daughter to send some books for the little boys to read while they were in the hospital. She sent some of the Peter Rabbit books, and Jonah read them over and over with great delight. Now that he’s back home he loves to carry a stack around with him. He calls them “ra-ra”. ☺

Now it’s your turn? What has your family been reading?


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.