encouragement · Encouraging, Scripture · inspiration · Scripture

“Death, where is your sting?”

This devotional was originally posted in my church’s blog, for which I am a contributing author.  I wanted to share it with my Nitty-Gritty friends, because there are so many of my friends and loved ones who are struggling with the loss of loved ones.  It’s one of the most difficult journeys that we take in life, and it is only by the comfort and peace of the Holy Spirit, and the hope we have in Christ, that we can make it through to the other side…where we are able to experience true joy once again.  I hope that it helps you, and I hope that if you know someone who is grieving, you will share this with them, and that it will help them also.

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(1 Corinthians 15:51-56, NLT) 51 But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! 52 It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. 53 For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies. 54 Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.

55 O death, where is your victory?

    O death, where is your sting?”

56 For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. 57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.

From November 2013 through May 2014 was a very difficult time in my family.  We were faced with mortality and grief in various undesirable ways.  In November 2013, my grandmother passed away after suffering from a massive stroke that hit her three years prior to her death.  The following April, my grandfather (who had lived with Alzheimer’s Disease for 7 years) made his grand entrance into Heaven.  Then the very next month, my dad was diagnosed with advanced, rapidly progressing, Alzheimer’s Disease.  To say that we felt devastated doesn’t quite encompass the depth and magnitude of our anguish. 

I could write page upon page about the crippling effects of dementia (as well as other types of neurological diseases) on the victims and their families.  It is a certain, and often slow, death. 

And there it is, the thing we most fear will happen…death.  Our humanity causes us to accept death as final.  In our minds, it is the end.  When a loved one passes on, people tell you that it’s not goodbye…not the end…and you nod and feign your resolve and agreement, but in that moment the only thing that you can truly feel is the emptiness and pain left behind, and the only thing that you believe is that you’ll never see that person again.  We are humans, and to us…death stings. 

To us, death feels like a punishment, because we have to go without someone that we love…missing that person and holding fast to our memories, hoping to never forget anything.  In our grief, we are blinded by emotions and we forget the truth of God’s word about death.  We are hurting, so we don’t understand or remember that because of Christ we have a HOPE that goes beyond mortality. 

13 And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.  (1 Thessalonians 4: 13-14)

Though we can’t accept it in the hours of distress and pain, the truth remains that death is only temporary.  It isn’t the end for those who are in Christ.  Essentially, our mortal lives are but a progression toward our own individual appointed times.  So we have to get out of our heads when it comes to the dread and anguish associated with death.  Death has no sting or victory…not because we don’t have to experience it and deal with it, but because we have a promise that far outshines anything this life, this temporary existence that is riddled with heartache and difficulties, has to offer us.  This life is not purposed to benefit us.  It’s not about you or me.  Every moment spent breathing air is a gift…not because this life will be the pinnacle of your existence, because it just isn’t.  It’s but a vapor that lasts mere moments in the span of eternity.  It is a gift because we have been created and chosen to be a part of something bigger than ourselves…to live outside of our own needs and serve a purpose in God’s plan for humanity.  So when we have lived that out, when we have given our lives to Christ and done our best to serve God’s plan, we don’t have to fear what comes next.  We naturally miss our loved ones, but what purpose does it serve to give ourselves over to the emotions of grief, sadness, and distress? Having victory over death isn’t cheating death, because we don’t have that power.  The victory is in knowing that even when the wages of sin is death, we don’t have to pay that price because Christ did when He went to the cross.  His sacrifice gives us the victory that comes from not fearing our exit from this life. 

Watching someone that you love suffer through a disease is not easy.  I see my dad, who is reduced to the mindset of a young child…unable to care for himself…no longer able to think rationally and independently, and I hurt.  My humanity aches at the thought that soon we will no longer have him with us here at part of our lives.  Yet there is this other part of me, driven by the truth of God’s word…by His promises, that longs for the day when my dad is free from his humanity and transformed supernaturally into his heavenly body that will never die.  He’s earned that.

For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. (2 Corinthians 4: 17-18)

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Prayer:  Heavenly Father, sometimes our fears are born out of the unknown.  We don’t know what to expect out of death, other than grief, so we are fearful of it.  Help us to remember that mortality is but a present trouble.  Help us to fix our eyes on the unseen…the glory of Heaven.  When we are Heavenly-minded, we are able to see beyond the here and now.  When we fix our eyes on You and Your ways, we are able to move beyond our emotions and accept our human experience for what it is…temporary.  Thank you for this gift…for choosing us to live for this time.  Amen.

inspiration · Poetry

“an ode to letting go”

Hi friends.  This week I’m sharing another original poem from my heart to your screen.  I hope you like it.  I hope you share it.

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“an ode to letting go”

 

Sometimes

Just no matter what

Life waltzes past

After ushering in deep sadness

The stuff that regrets and pain are made of

And it just dances right on past

To a different tune

 

And I stand here

Motionless

I can’t even breathe

 

Because sometimes

Just no matter what

Life skips on by

After stirring things up

The stuff that romance and loss are made of

And it just traipses on

Laughing at a joke I don’t quite get

 

And I lie here

Breathless

And I can’t even think

 

Because sometimes

Just no matter what

I can’t catch up

Always a step or a breath behind

I am chasing things I’ve lost

The stuff my heart can’t seem to release

And I keep grasping at air

Trying to revive what is already dead

 

And I stop here

Arrested

And I

                   can’t

                                     even

 

encouragement · Food · Keto · Weight Loss · Wellness

Keto…Thus Far…

When I first changed over to the Ketogenic Diet, I did so purely on my own.  I didn’t have help, or anyone’s brain to pick about it.  I just had to sort of figure things out as I went.  A couple of months back, I posted a how-to article for those interested in this way of eating, aka “WOE.”  (You can access that article by clicking here.)  Since that time, I have had even more success with weight loss and health benefits from living a clean, ketogenic lifestyle.

I began this journey on March 8, 2017.  Since then I have lost 30 pounds, and I have shed 15 inches overall from my body.  I am still not quite to my goal size/weight, but I am well on my way (just 20 pounds shy of my official goal).  Along with the fat loss, I have experienced some desired results with my hormones and with my issues due to PCOS and Adenomyosis symptoms.  I am experiencing regular, and much lighter periods, with much less pain than ever before.  I feel like I am having somewhat “normal” periods for the first time in many, many years, I haven’t had a migraine since May, and the all-over shooting pain that I would have for two weeks of every month has completely disappeared from my life…and I know that this is all because of Keto…namely, the absence of wheat and grain from my diet!

Going Keto hasn’t been a seamless effort, as I have had to learn by trial and error, doing a ton of “Googling” in the midst of it all, but I do feel that I have finally got this thing mastered.  So, I wanted to just take a little time to share my victories, failures, and the lessons learned from all of it, with those of you who may be on a similar journey and could use some tips to help you along your way.

  1. Meals:  The most important part of this lifestyle is finding some easy, delicious, go-to recipes.  I have a Pinterest board dedicated solely to this WOE, and there are endless amount of Keto recipes, but I have a few that are tried and true that I am sharing below in the “links” with y’all today.  However, I do like to keep things as simple as I possibly can with meals.  The more complicated and stressful a “diet” is, the more likely we are to just give up on it, right?  So how do you keep it simple with Keto?  Two things:  meat and veggies.  Refer to your favorite Keto food list (click here to access mine), choose a meat and a few vegetables, and cook them up your favorite way.  I prefer tossing my veggies in some olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic, and oven roasting them until they are little crispy.  Sometimes I take them out a little early, grate some fresh parmesan or cheddar cheese on top and return them to to oven for the last 5 minutes or so.  Delicious…every time!  For meats, you can grill them, pan sear them, roast in the oven, slow cook in a crock pot…really just whatever suits your time-frame and your palate.  Figure out what works best for you and stick with it.  Be creative with herbs and spices too!  Don’t be afraid to season, season, season!  And don’t forget, butter is your friend (a pan seared steak with butter and herbs is a favorite around here)!
  2. Plateaus/Stalls:  Know this right now…and just go ahead and accept it…prepare for it…you WILL stall out from time to time.  I have had two or three periods of days and even weeks where I lost absolutely no weight whatsoever.  I have even fluctuated up to 7 pounds up then back down to my current low within a week.  This is why, even though weighing yourself is important and gives you a feel for what foods will make you retain water and feel bloated, you can’t always trust in the honesty of the scale.  It doesn’t always reflect your fat loss.  Keep eating within your macros, consume clean food choices, and stay active.  You will absolutely see results both on and off of the scale!  I promise!  There is something called a “whoosh” that takes place after a stall almost every time, and if you just hang on and trust the process, you will get your “whoosh” and feel that gratification you need to stay motivated!  (Click here to read more about this.)
  3. Intermittent Fasting:  I started practicing intermittent fasting to get over my first stall, and when I realized how easy it was for me to do, I decided to do it most days.  I have never been one to want to eat anything at all before lunch, and I have always hated feeling like I have to force myself to eat when I am not necessarily hungry yet, so this system works very well for me in my daily life.  However, if you are one that wakes up hungry, this may simply be a discipline that you will want to employ when you need to get past a hump in your weight loss journey.  Basically, you just stop eating for a 12-16 hour period of time and allow the remainder window of time for your calorie consumption for the entire day.  So, I take the last time that I ate in the evening, and I don’t eat for the next 12-16 hours.  It is quite easy to do, because this type of fast happens mostly when you are asleep overnight.  Anything over 50 calories will break a fast, so usually what I do each morning is have a cup of coffee with some heavy whipping cream in it (which is less than 50 calories).  That is all I need, plus lots of water, until I begin eating around noon or so.  For an even better explanation of IF, click here.
  4. Cheating:  I feel compelled to stress to you…DO NOT CHEAT!  It is almost never worth it.  It will most assuredly cause you gastrointestinal upset, bloating, water weight gain, lots of discouragement, and make you have some serious cravings for sugar and carbs!  However, let’s be honest and realistic here…cheating happens.  When it does, the best thing to do is get a good fast in, and jump back on the Keto train.  Don’t let it get you down…even if the scale goes up some.  It isn’t fat gain…just water.  Remember that.  Also please note:  IF YOU HAVE A REGULAR CHEAT DAY EACH WEEK YOU ARE NOT LIVING A KETO LIFESTYLE.  DON’T CLAIM IT IF YOU AREN’T GOING TO LIVE IT!!  JUST CONSIDER YOURSELF EATING LOW-CARB AND GO ON WITH YOUR LIFE.  Keto is short for “KETOSIS” and if you are cheating regularly, there is no possible way you are staying in Ketosis or becoming fat adapted.  Kinda defeats the purpose…don’t you think?
  5. Eating Out:  I’m here to tell it…eating at restaurants can be Keto friendly!  You just have to be careful about ingredients (less is more), and steer clear of foods that have sauces, rubs, and glazes.  Grilled meats (especially fish) are a safe bet, and a Caesar salad and/or some steamed or grilled veggies.  At a Mexican restaurant, a great option is fajitas.  Just make sure you tell them no beans, no rice, and no tortillas.  Get your fork and some hot sauce and dig in!
  6. Snacking:  People always ask me what I eat for snacks.  Truth be told, I don’t do a ton of snacking, but when I do get the yen for something between meals, or in the evenings, I have some favorites:
    • pork rinds dipped in sour cream or guacamole
    • uncured beef sticks, salami, ham, pepperoni (etc.)
    • dill pickles
    • full fat cheeses
    • roasted, salted almonds
    • peanut butter
    • berries
  7. NSVs:  Non-Scale Victories – events that make you feel confident and motivated…even when the scale isn’t moving.  Examples:  before and after pics, smaller clothing sizes, compliments, overcoming cravings, turning down junk at parties and such…  These victories are vital to your success, because the scale sometimes lies to us.  Make sure you share these NSVs with friends and family.  Give yourself those well-deserved pats on the back as often as you can!
  8. Recipe Links:

I would also like to link you over to my Keto pin board on Pinterest.  Click here to visit it.  There are tons more recipes that I have saved, as well as a lot of great Keto advice articles.  I am constantly adding to my board, so follow if you want.

Also, Stephanie (Nitty) and I (Gritty) had recently posted a blog detailing our successful endeavor into a few Keto recipes that looked good to us.  You can access that by clicking here.

I hope this update has been of some help, and (as always) feel free to contact me with any questions you may have about this way of life.  Also, like and share on social medias, please and thank you!

I am still on this journey of mine, so I am sure there will be more updates in the future.  So stay tuned!  Keto on!!

 

Food · Keto · Weight Loss

Keto…when you wanna cheat-o!

Hey there everyone!  Has anyone else been craving carby-goodies lately?  Sometimes a girl just wants a greasy slice of pizza…or a gooey cinnamon roll!!  Well this week, we (Nitty & Gritty) decided to do a collaborative post that might help you out with your yen for some junk food.  We got together and made a fantastic Keto friendly meal…even dessert…and it was so good that we wanted to share it with y’all.  (In case you don’t know what Keto is, click here to read more on it, but basically it is a very low carb, high fat way of eating that will help you lose weight and correct some health issues that you may be having.)

Both us have been seriously craving pizza lately, so we took to Pinterest and found a pizza crust recipe that is not only Keto approved, but it also looked fairly easy to prepare, and came with some great reviews.  We made an Amish Broccoli Salad for a side, and then we finished the whole thing off with some low-carb (yes, also Keto approved) cinnamon rolls.  So, below we have shared each recipe, step-by-step, with pictures and everything.  We made it all from scratch, and we ate it up…because it was so delicious.  🙂

1.  Amish Broccoli Salad

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This salad is a people pleaser.  It is seriously delicious…and you won’t be able to stay out of it!  Pictured above are the ingredients that we used to make ours.  We have listed them below, followed by the how-to instructions.  Enjoy!

Salad:

  • 2 bags fresh broccoli/cauliflower medley (cut into bite-sized pieces)
  • 1 package uncured bacon (fried crisp and crumbled)
  • 1/2 large red onion (diced)
  • 1 brick of sharp cheddar cheese (cubed into bite-sized pieces)

Dressing:

  • 2 TBSP white distilled vinegar
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 tsp. Pyure sweetener (possibly a little more)

 

Toss the salad ingredients until everything is evenly distributed.  In a small, separate bowl, whisk together mayonnaise and vinegar until smooth.  Next add in the sweetener, tasting to see if it is to your liking.  If it isn’t sweet enough, add a bit more sweetener.  After you get the dressing mixed up, simply put it in with the salad and toss it all until everything is coated well.  Please note, we made a little extra dressing for our salad, because we thought it needed more.  So just do your own thing and make it how you want it.  You can also add shelled sunflower seeds and nuts if you want.

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2.  Fat Head Pizza

(We don’t know WHY it’s called Fat Head!!)

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Above is a picture of everything we used to make our pizza.  We have listed the crust ingredients below, but the toppings are purely up to your preference.  We used green bell pepper, red onion, bacon (uncured – cooked and crumbled), and hard salami (cut into chunks).

Fat Head Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Mozzarella (we used whole milk mozzarella, as pictured above)
  • 3/4 cup almond flour (we used Bob’s Red Mill brand)
  • 2 TBSP cream cheese, softened (Philadelphia, of course – and it does make a difference)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1-2 tsp. garlic powder*
  • 1 tsp. onion powder*
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning*

*The seasonings are not set in stone.  You may use as much or as little as you want, or leave them out completely.  It’s your pizza, so make it how you would like it to taste.

To make the crust, start with the cheeses.  Measure both the mozzarella and the cream cheeses into a medium sized microwave safe bowl.

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Microwave for 1 minute, stir, and then microwave for another 30 seconds.  If your cheese is stringy, you need to microwave for another 30 seconds until it is a dough-like consistency.

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Stir in egg , almond flour, and seasonings.

 

Wet your hands and spread the dough thin and evenly onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Use a fork to poke air holes into the dough, then place into a preheated 425 degree oven.  Bake for 8 minutes.  Remove from oven, and add your desired toppings.

 

Then continue baking for another 6-8 minutes, or until your pizza is a golden brown and all toppings are cooked and cheese is melted evenly.

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Building Your Pizza:

  1. When you remove your crust from the oven after the initial 8 minutes, you will want to start with your sauce.  Try to find the sauce that has the least amount of carbs.  We used Simply Nature Organic Marinara, with a net of 5 carbs per 1/2 cup.  Spread your sauce evenly over crust.
  2. Next, you’ll want some more mozzarella to sprinkle over your sauce.  We suggest getting a separate bag of cheese for topping your pizza.
  3. Finally, top with the meats and/or veggies of your choosing and sprinkle with more cheese!

3. Fat Head Cinnamon Rolls

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Fat Head Cinnamon Roll Crust:

  • 3 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella (we used the same cheese that we did in the pizza crust – whole milk mozzarella)
  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour (Bob’s Red Mill again)
  • 4 TBSP cream cheese, softened (Philadelphia is the best)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup of Pyure brand sweetener (this is a Stevia/erythritol blend, and it is far superior to any other sweetener that we have tried…highly recommended)

To make dough, in a large bowl melt the mozzarella cheese for 1 minute in the microwave and stir.  If it is still stringy, microwave for another 30 seconds and stir.  Continue to do so in 30 second increments until is it melted and at a doughy consistency.

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Next, add cream cheese, almond flour, eggs, and sweetener.

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Mix until everything is incorporated.  You have to really work it in, but keep at it.  It may get stringy while you are mixing, if so, pop it in the microwave for another 20-30 seconds to get it back to that melted, dough consistency.

Spread the dough into a rectangle, onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.  It should be a little thicker than your pizza dough, but not so thick that you can’t roll it.

Filling:

  • 2 TBSP ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (one stick) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup Pyure sweetener

Spread the softened butter evenly over the dough.  Next, sprinkle the cinnamon and sweetener (that has already been combined) over the butter.

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Next, roll the dough length-wise into a log.  Try not to tear the dough, and then seal the edge.  Slice the log into approximately 12 spirals.  Place them in a lightly greased, round, 9-inch cake pan.  They will be touching on all sides.  Any excess filling that squeezes out during the rolling, can be spread over the top of the spirals after you get them in the pan.

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Bake for 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees, until the rolls are a golden brown.  We had to bake them much longer than this time.  It was more like 30 minutes.  Just make sure you keep an eye on them after 15 minutes or so.

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Glaze/Icing:

  • 4 TBSP cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Pyure sweetener (to taste and desired consistency)

Mix together with a spoon or fork, adding sweetener as you go, tasting after each addition.  When you have it like you want it, spread over warm rolls (still in the pan).

 

We are so sorry there aren’t any pictures of them on plates, but we scarfed them down before that ever even crossed our minds!  We just want to add, also, that the kids in the house gobbled them up!  They were asking for more, and had no idea that this was a sugar-free, low-carb treat!

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Well that concludes the breakdown of our night of Keto indulgence.  We hope that if you are like us, craving things you miss eating from time to time, you will find it easy to make some of these goodies for yourself and get cheating off of your brain!  This stuff is seriously delicious!  We give it all 4 thumbs up!

As always, please like and share our blog!  Keto on!

encouragement · inspiration · Poetry

“Beautiful & Alive”

I wanted to share a poem with y’all this week.  I wrote it, and rather than explain it’s meaning, or what I felt when I was writing it, I’d like for you to just read it and think about how it applies to your life – as a woman – as a person who has loved, lost, and risen again.  We all have our inner lives, our hurts and triumphs, and our stories that we sometimes never tell.  It is all part of who we are and how our lives unfold.  So, I hope you find some encouragement from what I have written, and that you will share it with anyone you’d like.  We are all so much stronger than we know!  Love to all!

 

Tomorrow I’ll wake up and think to myself,

“I just couldn’t sleep again,”

And I’ll know why.

 

But these secrets I keep are kept.

Some things are better that way.

 

Because when I dig,

I find things I forgot I’d hidden;

Time capsules never meant to be reopened,

Sealed tight with my tears and hatred,

Buried deep under my triumphs and successes;

That thorny bush,

Roses blooming and fragrant,

Open,

Faces to the sun.

 

I’m winter hardy.

I survive.

Thorns protecting what I’ve made:

My resentment,

My sins,

My indignation,

And the grace that gives me beauty and fight.

 

I accelerate.

Cut me back,

I return.

Pluck my petals,

I regenerate.

 

So thank you!

Thanks, man!

You made me strong,

And my roots grow deep,

Curling around the pain you imposed,

Toward the sun, toward the sky, I rise,

Beautiful and alive.

– “Beautiful & Alive”

adventure · inspiration · travel

Wanderlust

For the past two weeks, I have been in Alabama with my parents and other family who live down there.  I was born and raised (for the most part) in the Birmingham area (Walker and Marion counties).  Much of my family, and many of my dearest friends still live there, so my son and I go every summer to spend some time.  Each year, we try to find places to go that we’ve never been before, just to explore and get out of town for a bit.  I inherited a healthy dose of wanderlust from my mother, so when we get together we tend to find an adventure or two.

This year, Mother and I decided to drive south about 2 hours toward Montgomery, to a little town that most Americans have heard of at one point or another:  Selma, Alabama.  Neither of us had ever been before, and both of us had always wanted to see the Edmund Pettus bridge, where African American protesters were brutally attacked by Alabama State Troopers in 1965.  (If you’d like to see enlarged versions of the pictures below, just click on the images.)

This is an important piece of American history, and something that every Alabamian should see at one point or another.  So we hopped in the car, my teenage son in tow, and set out on our little journey.

Another stop along the way that we decided to make was to a place called Old Cahawba.  It was the first Alabama state capitol – a bustling, booming river town on the Alabama and Cahaba Rivers that was also the site of a large Civil War prison that housed over 3,000 Union soldiers over the course of the war.  The town no longer exists, as it was long ago burned to the ground and abandoned, but there are some ruins left to see, a couple of standing structures, and a few cemeteries that are teeming with pecan and magnolia trees.  I’ve been all over the state of Alabama throughout my life, and I have never seen so much Spanish moss as I did in Dallas County!  It truly was a sight to behold.

It was a lovely day, and more than worth every gallon of gas and every moment behind the wheel.

Our second excursion was a little to the north in Franklin County, Alabama to a little town called Phil Campbell.  Our destination:  Dismals Canyon.  Now, Alabama is known for its caves and caverns, as well as its wilderness and vast national parks, but I had no idea that this canyon was there!  So, my mother, my son, my sister-in-law, my nephew and I packed a picnic lunch and set out to spend our day exploring the Dismals Canyon.  If you’ve never been to this place, I recommend you spend the time and money to go!   Not only did we spend the day hiking and taking in the many wonders of nature in this beautiful, hidden paradise, but we also opted to return at dusk for the night tour to see the Dismalites.  What are those????  Well…they are nothing short of a mystery and miracle of nature!  The Dismalites are a bio-luminescent larvae that are only found in Dismals Canyon, New Zealand, and Australia.  To say it is a unique experience is putting it lightly!  In the dark of night, these “glowworms” illuminate the walls and crannies of the caverns inside Dismals Canyon.  They are at peak season in the summer, and it will blow your mind when you see them.  I was unable to get a decent picture of them, as are most people without professional cameras and an undisturbed environment, but below is a picture of them that I am sharing from the Dismals website.  (Click here to visit their site.)

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Although I didn’t get any of my own pictures of the Dismalites, I did get a picture of the elusive Trap Door Spider, and a glowing centipede (their venom causes them to glow under a black light).

As to be expected, I took TONS of pictures that day, so I’ve made a short slideshow of some of my favorites to share.

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The beauty was, at times, breathtaking – and the air was dense with more history than my human mind could comprehend.  I came out of the canyon exhausted, exhilarated, and with a head full of questions and stories to tell.

So I share ALLLLLLLLL of that to say this:  get out of the house this summer and explore your state!  We live in one of the most beautiful countries in the world.  The US is massive, and full of every sort of landscape that you can imagine.  Be it the oceans, the cities, the mountains, the deserts, the lakes and rivers, the various battlegrounds and settlements of the past…the list is endless!  No matter where you live, I know you are within an arm’s reach of something that will blow your mind!  Awaken the wanderlust within and make some memories!

 

DIY · Essential Oils · Skin Care

Let’s Talk About Skin, Baby: Part 2

In my previous post, Let’s Talk About Skin, Baby:  Part 1, I covered the treacherous ground of acne – at least, my own experience with it and how to get it under control naturally.  As I have stated before, I will never attempt to advise on things that I haven’t personally dealt with in my own life.  Everything I address will always be things that have been a part of my life at one point or another.

This week I’m going to wrap up this bit about skin, finishing my list of skin woes with Eczema and Shingles.  Yes, I’ve had to deal with them both!  I’m just that lucky!!  So, without further ado, let me share with you some things I’ve learned about each!

2.  Eczema:  This condition has affected both my son and myself in different ways. Luckily it hasn’t been severe for either of us, so the tips I am about to share with you are only meant to aid in mild eczema cases.  Anything beyond that should be treated by a medical professional.  The most common form of Eczema is Atopic Dermatitis.  It may resemble an allergic reaction, but it is not caused by allergies.

  • symptoms: patches of chronically itchy, dry, thickened skin, usually on the hands, neck, face, and legs (but it can occur anywhere) – in children, the inner creases of the knees and elbows are often involved
  • causes:  lowered immune system (which is why it can be so common among infants and children), environment, activities that may cause skin to be more sensitive (sports, outdoor activities, etc.), defects in the skin barrier (moisture out, germs in)
  • facts:  it is NOT contagious; it IS genetic
  • remedies: Just to reiterate, these are remedies that have worked on me and my son, and I do not guarantee that they will work for you or your loved ones.  However, they are perfectly safe and natural things to try at home.
    • DoTerra LLP Roller Ball:  This is an essential oil blend of Lemon, Lavender, and Peppermint, which is probably my favorite blend of all.  It is good for a myriad of things, and I use it every day.  It helps with allergies, bug bites, and in this case it helps to soothe irritated skin (even sunburn, fyi).  You can contact Stephanie (aka Nitty) for more information about buying and/or mixing.  For eczema, I simply roll this blend over the affected area 2-3 times a day to help with itching and pain.  The peppermint in this blend may sting if the area has any cracked open skin, so just be mindful of that.
    • Coconut Oil (virgin, unrefined):  This is my go-to home remedy for everything.  Chapped lips, dry hands, feet, and elbows, minor skin irritations, and (yep, you guessed it) eczema.  My son’s eczema almost always flares up each time the seasons change, and it’s always just around his nose and mouth.  I just dig into my jar of coconut oil and melt a bit of it in my hands, then apply it directly to his dry skin, making sure I rub in it really well.  This almost always gets it under control before it gets to the point of itching and burning.  My favorite brand is Spectrum:  518EXDrD2JL
    • Aquaphor:  This is a protective skin ointment that is super-moisturizing.  It is very thick, and I have found that it is perfect for applying at night or before exposing the affected skin to harsh weather conditions.  14oz-jar.jpg

3.  Shingles:  About three years ago, I got what I thought was the beginnings of a cold sore on the corner of my mouth.  I put some cold sore medication on it and went to bed.  By the next morning, the sore had grown significantly and there were several more up my face, in my hairline, and even down inside my ear.  Also, I had a sore throat and sore gums…all on the same side of my head and neck.  This is what I looked like:10455291_10100290182085236_1267328460490394760_n

It was a Sunday afternoon, so I decided to go to Urgent Care.  The “doctor” that I saw there tested me for Mono and Strep (like, really dude??) and he then “diagnosed” me with HERPES (with a smirk on his face, I might add) and wrote me a prescription for Valtrex.  I was so humiliated and angry with him.  How dare he insinuate that I had an STD, when this was clearly something different…not to mention the fact that an STD was not possible!!!  I decided that I would take the medication and see anyway, seeing as cold sores are a form of the Herpes virus.  I thought maybe the medication might help. Well…it didn’t.  By the time Tuesday rolled around, I was in excruciating pain and it had grown even worse.  The pain from shingles is like nothing else I’d ever experienced, because not only is it painful on the surface, but there is also a deep nerve pain that throbs and radiates constantly.  Pure misery.  So, I called my primary care physician and they told me to come in straight away.  As soon as my doctor saw my face she immediately said, “Oh sweetie you have SHINGLES!”  Yep…on my face.  So, she prescribed me something (ironically enough) like Valtrex, which is an antiviral medication.  These medications can shorten the duration of the virus, but it basically just had to run its course and heal over time.  Turns out…I did have a variation of Herpes after all!  Ha!  Shingles is otherwise known as Herpes Zoster…but it ain’t no flippin’ STD!

  • causes:   Shingles is the leftovers of the Chicken Pox virus that is stored in your nerve beds and can be stirred up by stress and resurface as Shingles.  It works through a network of nerves and appears as a band of painful, itchy sores on one side of the body.
  • remedy:  This remedy is what I used to help soothe my skin during the healing process.  Like I said, the virus just had to run its course, but this topical treatment, along with the antiviral medication, is what kept me from going insane, and also from scarring.  Let me repeat that….NO SCARRING!!!  This stuff is that good!  And…it smells like heaven.
    • DoTerra Shingles Blend:  This is something that Stephanie concocted for me as a spray.  The sores were so tender and painful, I couldn’t bear to touch them, so she mixed the oils with distilled water and put them into a glass spray bottle for me.  LIFE SAVER!
      • 15 drops Frankincense
      • 25 drops Marjoram
      • 25 drops Lavender
      • 20 drops Cypress
      • 20 drops Geranium
      • Finish off with distilled water in a 2 oz. glass spray bottle

Thanks for taking the time to read about my skin terrors.  I hope that my experiences and results have been helpful to you.  There will possibly be a Part 3 in the future, but for now I think I’ve covered what I wanted to share.  Please remember that going to the doctor and/or dermatologist is always recommended when something is persistent and worsening.  I like to try what I can at home before resorting to the dreaded doctor’s office visit, but nothing is worth potentially scarring and harming yourself for life.  Listen to your gut and go to the doctor when you know you need to do so!

Well, love chickens, thanks again for reading!  Feel free to message Nitty & Gritty anytime.  You may do so by clicking here or by hitting one or both of us up on Facebook!  For questions and ordering information regarding DoTerra Essential Oils, ask Stephanie (aka Nitty) and/or click here.  And, as always, like and share!  Muah!  Here’s to healthy, happy skin!