Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Thankful Fall

All over town, the streets are on fire with my favorite colors: golden-yellow, rusty pumpkin-orange, and deep, velvety red. It seems to happen overnight. One day you're enjoying perfect picnic temperatures and the next morning, you awake to cooler days highlighted by breathtaking new hues.

Fall Leaves
Photo: Nico Potgieter

Someone chose to create the seasons and to color the world with beauty in the midst of death. As the leaves die, they shine forth in their most brilliant state. It's a finale, an encore, to the life they lived. I am reminded of God as a masterful creator as the season switches and I let loose awe-inspired thanks.

Fall Leaves

That same masterful designer also created this world with sugar. And spice. And others things nice. Namely, cakey pumpkin cookies with pumpkin-maple-spice frosting. Be thankful in EVERY circumstance. Check!

Pumpkin Cookies

Pumpkin Spice Cookies
Note: Adapted from a recipe proudly found by husband in the Houston Chronicle.

Makes about 24.

For the cookies:
2 cups flour (white whole wheat works beautifully if you desire to avoid refined white flour)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1-2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (I always prefer a little more spice in my baking!)
1/2 cup of butter/coconut oil (I tend to use coconut oil)
1 cup brown sugar (no apologies)
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the icing:
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tbsp of pumpkin puree
1 tsp of pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp vanilla
About 4 cups of powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. 
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside.
In a second bowl, combine butter/coconut oil & brown sugar. Use an electric mixer to beat until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin, egg, and vanilla; mix until well combined.

Add half dry ingredients and mix well. Add other half and mix again.

Scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets in 1 tbsp mounds, arranging them two inches apart. Bake for 14 minutes or until lightly browned at the edges. Midway through baking, rotate the baking sheets top to bottom and front to back.

While the cookies bake, in a medium bowl combine the butter and maple syrup. Use an electric mixer to beat until smooth. Add pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla. Mix well.

Add powdered sugar and mix well. Set aside.

Once the cookies have baked, cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes. Then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cool, frost and decorate as desired.

Refrigerate cookies in an airtight container and allow them to come to room temp before serving.

For us, Fall is made complete with these cookies. I make them every year and that means something for this always-baking-something-new cook. By special request, I am making this crowd and family-pleasing treat available to whoever reads. So, go, whip up this healthier (depending on the flours and fats you use) scrumptious sweet in celebration of the One who created Fall.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Baby Adam

We're expecting a new friend to enter the world today. I announced to my kids at breakfast that our dear friend Julie is about to lose her belly and gain a sweet bundle for her arms. We are all SO excited to share their joy!

And, then, shortly after breakfast, while Ethan and Meira were drawing at the table, Ethan alerted me to his artistry. It was a momma-sized hand with a palm-sized creature whose body was without much form but it had little limbs with fingers and toes. It had a small eye and the very beginnings of a mouth. He asked, "Momma, what was the name of the little boy you were going to have?" With grief swelling in my throat and eyelids ready to pour out saltiness, I managed to breathe out "Adam." It wasn't the official name. We never actually gave him one. We talked about it. I'd always loved the spanish name Adan which is is translated as Adam in English. Adam means "of the earth." It seemed fitting. 

Jolted out of my flashback, Ethan asks innocently "How do you spell that?" He wants to write it down, by the picture he drew of his little brother. He wants a name for his brother. That's what we do---name life. 

And, in naming we give him a place in our life and a way to remember. So, today, when new life miraculously bursts forth for a friend, we remember our Adam and give thanks.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Another grey day

It's another grey day in Denver today. Outside my door and inside my heart.

However, if I am honest, it's not just the cloud cover causing a gloominess. I've been feeling it everyday since the help left (both lovely parents and my sister! came to bring comfort, and helping hands).

The greying of my day happens at about the same times. Morning and night.

Dropping off my oldest two kids at school triggers the grief to well up in my chest and tears stream slowly down my cheeks as I drive away. It's just so quiet. And, the quiet is what kills me. Instead of my usual busyness...

My thoughts wander and...

I feel listless and lost. 

I start thinking.

I start feeling the loss. Then, the sadness and guilt and pain swirl all together in a mess of grief. 

It also happens at night. My mind flashes back to remember scenes that I both want to move on from and never forget. It's the quiet, the stillness that brings me to remember...

The spots on the cold tile where I fainted from blood loss after the baby was born.

Gazing at him after I rescued him from the commode where he first encountered life outside my womb.

The cold, dark ground dug out for his earthly home. It feels so wrong for him to be in the cold ground instead of my warm arms.

And questions plague my mind.

How can a mother bury a child? 

What if I breathed in an essential oil that sent me into preterm labor?

What if he couldn't get enough oxygen because I was too high in the sky on my way to and from Europe?

How can so much grief come from knowing so short a life? 

What if I had taken prenatal pills?

And, then, it all falls to pieces as I remember that every single, tiny, invisible hair on his nickel sized head was numbered. 

None of the loss, or the trauma happened outside the providence of good God who loves me. His love is not a saccharin coated pill where life becomes all butterflies in green, blooming fields. It's a love wrought in pain, and manifesting beauty. Beauty that a way has been made for man to know God. And the knowing Him in His sufferings results in conforming to His image for His glory and man's good. 

And, my little man is already experiencing the glories of God in a way I haven't. He has no tears, no pain, and no imperfections. He is not in the ground. He's in the best arms there are--the Everlasting ones.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Today, on this grayish day, I miss all the little things I never got to go through with you, my little one.

"Losses do that. One life-loss can infect the whole of a life. Like a rash that wears through our days, our sight becomes peppered with black voids. Now everywhere we look, we only see all that isn’t: holes, lack, deficiency."
Ann Voskamp (One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are)

I miss feeling your first tiny kicks and wondering if it was you or my latte. 

I miss wondering about what a fourth combination of Arbuckle-ness might look like.

I miss watching the rounding of my swelling middle.

I miss smiling as Daddy whispers sweetness through my belly to your little ears.

I miss just knowing that I am carrying a mighty miracle inside my own body. 

Mostly, I miss your little face, which I had the gift, the pleasure of knowing ever so briefly.

"Christian hands never clasp and He doesn't give gifts for gain because a gift can never stop being a gift - it is always meant to be given."

Ann Voskamp (One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Welcome Home, part 2: An Unusual Birth Story

Warning: I am about to recount the story of how our fourth child was born, too early to survive, in detail. I want to honor him as our child in sharing it, to bring personal healing to myself by speaking about it and to bring to light something that is so often unspoken. Losing a child in the first trimester is devastating. And, I know I had no idea. So, if sharing my story helps others heal by it's rawness and still others understand what those going through such things experienced, then it serves good purpose.

After the Great Bed Bug Incident of 2011, I spent Saturday morning on July 23rd vacuuming and sweeping up the remnants of unpacking our entire lives. At about 11am I felt totally wiped out. Apparently, a summer full of sight-seeing in Europe weakened me so much I couldn't do normal housework, or so I thought. I wasn't sure I was going to make it until naptime to take a rest. A routine trip to the restroom revealed the reason for the tiredness: bleeding at 10 weeks pregnant. Surges of fear and sadness coursed through my limbs. I found Trey and numbly told him before bursting into tears. I pulled myself together and leafed through the pages of "What to Expect When You're Expecting" to see how concerned we should be. After all, I didn't want to overreact. 

I was reassured that light bleeding unaccompanied by severe cramping or other more serious symptoms like fever, dizzyness, etc could be "normal." And, could wait until a visit to see the doctor; no need for a visit to the ER. Maybe I had just overdone it---driving all night from Texas to Colorado, unpacking our belongings, pulling weeds in our front garden and cleaning up the house. Just in case, I canceled my girls night out plans for that evening and chose to just take it easy.

Trey and I chose to close out the evening reading. I went to sleep, hopeful, that after a night's rest the morning would bring the evaporation of the fear and reality of losing our little one. 

However, at about 1:24am, I woke up with terrible back cramping. It was constant for an hour. Since I couldn't sleep with it, I decided to get up and immediately felt the need to use the restroom. A huge gush followed and a peek into the commode revealed that I just delivered our precious baby at 2:54pm on July 24th. Crying and hyperventilating at the same time, I stumbled in the dark to our bedroom and woke up Trey. Miraculously, through my panting, he understood what happened.

The tragedy of the situation struck him and he was sick to his stomach. Holding each other in our sorrow, we knew our next step was to decide what to do with our child, submerged in the worst place possible. I couldn't bear the thought off flushing our baby so I gathered him from the toilet and slipped him carefully into a bag. Gazing at him, I was amazed at being able to see him fully formed--hands with fingers, feet with toes, big eyes in a clearly formed head--not the "grey tissue" that was so unfeelingly and medically described in the baby book. I marveled at him. My first thought--as tears streamed painfully down my cheeks--was "he's so precious." My next emotion was gratitude for being able to behold him with my eyes, though too small to hold him in my arms.

I will conclude you with this beautifully true analogy found here that sums up how, by God's grace alone, I have been able to view the loss we've suffered:

Life is just a cherry storm

"God’s blessings don’t come to us in tidy baskets. They don’t fall to the ground pitted and frozen. They splatter juice on our patio tables, and stain faces and fingers. God’s blessings come in their own season, and sometimes they come so fast and so full that they make you feel a little woozy for a minute. But only for a minute, and then you’ll be out picking some more."

To be continued...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Our Welcome Home: The Great Bed Bug Incident of 2011

I'm recounting our summer beginning with the end and then I'll conclude with the beginning, our adventures in Ireland, England, and France. Just because, well, it's easier to talk about what happened most recently than go back and rack my mind about all the memories of our time across the pond. 

So, there you have it, I going to tell the story of our summer completely out of order.

Let's rewind about two and half weeks. Trey and I are blissfully enjoying our stay in a cozy little town outside Paris, called La Ferre. We are joined by about 40 other wedding guests in a Thai elephant themed Chateau complete with a pool, steam room and that European ball game where you throw baseball-sized steel balls like horseshoes. The wedding week was spent taking bike rides, indulging in very long, slow meals and drinking lots of French wine that I personally couldn't imbibe. (Side note: this is the second time I have been in Europe and pregnant. What are the odds?)

Two days later, after trekking back to Paris and taking the Eurostar train under the English Channel back to London (where we planned to spend a night before flying back to Dallas), we are interrupted in our reverie to find that the sub-lessees of our home have been trying desperately to get in contact with us. 

Why?  There were nasty little bugs invading every bedroom and feasting on our lovely sub-lessees. 

Ick. Ick. Ick. We quickly authorize them to do whatever they and the landlady deem necessary to cleanse the place of those pesky pests. 

Enter the Orkin man. 

Oh, and washing everything that can be washed and sealing it up in bags. Throwing out all cardboard and plastic, where they LOVE to lay eggs. Taking off outlets in the bedrooms because they find that another homey spot to set up house. Disassembling beds and moving all to the center of every bedroom--leaving every baseboard exposed. Finally, bagging up everything else since the little buggers can't survive limited oxygen after 24 hours. 

Once all that was done, by our sub-lessees (poor girls) then Orkin came in and blasted the place, promising it to be bug-free. Hallelujah.

All that happened while we were away. We flew from London to DFW where we resumed our parental responsibilities and rescued the grandparents from our children (just kidding--they actually adored having them). After hanging around long enough to see our first niece be born, we skedaddled out of Dallas by one long overnight drive back to Denver. 

14 hours later, a trip to Rise N Shine Biscuit Company for refreshment and a final stop at the park to sufficiently wear the kids out so we could all take a nap (they got to sleep in the car while we drove), we arrived to our beloved home. 

We entered weary and ready for one thing: a good nap. However,  as I am sure you can imagine, most of our house was in a packed up state--including our bed. It was like moving in ALL over again.

On the bright side, it was a fabulous opportunity to deep clean, reorganize and rearrange. Spring cleaning in the middle of summer. Woot woot!

Stay tuned for our next big adventure, which happened the following Saturday, July 23rd....

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

About those blog posts I promised....

My big plans to blog about my time in the city where the streets have no name (shameless U2 reference that is also a fact....street names in Dublin are IMPOSSIBLE to find), have been thwarted, miserably. Somehow I thought with two weeks of kid-free time, I would have the leisure to write profusely about my experiences in another country. Ha. What I have learned is that writing is a pleasure but it is also a work.

And, I haven't been feeling much in the way of working.

Imagine that. 

Maybe because I wasn't entirely kid-free. There was a little one blooming in my tummy, making me tired, a wee nauseated and dreamy. I was also completely enamored with my book. The book I was reading, not writing. So, instead of chronicling my fantastic summer abroad, I devoured The Count of Monte Cristo. I slept in until 9AM most mornings and rendezvoused with Trey to a lovely french bakery in Dublin called Queen of Tarts, about four times. It was my consolation for being in Europe and not able to drink the fruit of the vine. Ok, really, Trey and I just loved baked goodness, but it was a good excuse.

Now that I'm back home, in Denver, I am finding the thoughts and time to write.

Sorry I've been gone so long.

I'm going to make up for it this week and fill you all in on my time in Europe and my time since being home. Hold on tight! It's been a summer full of joy, sorrow and plenty of grace.

Until then,

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Brand New You Giveaway


The lovely Marie of Lemondrop Vintage is hosting a Commonsensical Spa giveaway! Find out all the ways you can enter for your chance (or chances!) to win my face care system--it's organic, natural, gentle, pampering, soothing, and skin balancing--by visiting her blog!

Plus, if you are into vintage fashion or just winning handmade, vintage items from handmade sellers, she hosts a giveaway off Etsy almost weekly! Bonus!

Definitely, a blogger to keep up with regardless of your style!

I hope you win!

Love love,

PS--Tell your friends! You can email, tweet, post to your fb status and much more just by clicking on the buttons below this post!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Commonsensical Spa Update

Some Public Exposure
I've officially stepped into the handmade a face-to-face with the public way (Etsy only kinda counts) and I was a tad nervous. I am a strange emulsion of a person--a moody homebody who sometimes imitates a social butterfly. And, working craft fairs and markets require over-the-top performance.

Thankfully, my initiation to the market scene was a success. Thankfully my passion for what I do (and a heavy dose of adrenaline) kicked in, and I had a roaring good time. Thankfully, I also came out ahead, financially, and I'm hoping for some return customers in a few months...

Highlands Spring Fling, April 9th, 2011

Since that first market on April 9th, I've had some unique selling opportunities. I set up my mobile shop and worked a half day at a fancy-shmancy master planned community called Solterra in Lakewood, Colorado. I met some lovely people. One wonderful thing about being face to face with the pubic is that you get some serious people-watching and head on interaction. Here's a few favorite interactions of the day:

A beautiful new mother and fellow vendor at the market was lured to my table by her girlfriend and accompanied by her husband. Perusing and sampling what I had to offer, she leaned into her husband, batted her eyes and asked expectantly, "Can I spend $45?" He shrugged delightfully resigned to her irresistibility and said "I'm not going to tell you that you can't buy ANYTHING." Gasp. Melt. Swoon. 

A sweet 12 year old girl had been walking around the market spying everything and was the first person to stop and get a taste of Commonsensical Spa. She tried my cocoa body butter (before the Mile High sun melted it liquid) and reservedly died of enjoyment. She thanked me and moved on. Later, she strolled by and stopped to ask me "Is that YOUR sugar scrub in the bathroom?" I replied that it was. (I usually place a scrub in the women's powder room for testing, tempting and securing the thought that it is a must-have.) She gushed about how much she liked it and left. Then, later she returned with her father, pointing out to him the sugar scrub she had tried and convincing him of it's wonderfulness. Then, again, she left, telling her father she was heading home. Clever girl. Dad remained and said, "well, I guess I better buy that for her." And, then he followed up to explain himself, "she celebrates her half birthday, and it's coming up so this will be for that." As if he needed an excuse. Sweetness.

Reminded me of another Daddy's girl, close to my heart....

Daddy & Natty: Happy Together
Then, I helped host a Spa Night, featuring Commonsensical Spa products, as fundraiser for my children's school, and found that to be a killer introduction of the quality of my products as well as a superbly enjoyable and successful fundraiser. I am thinking through the possibility of throwing more Spa parties just to expose the greatness of my products to a world full of beauty care options. Would you come?

Don't we look happy and beautiful?

New Shea Butter Supplier
In Half the Sky, the authors state "Evidence has mounted that helping women can be a successful poverty fighting strategy." (p. XIX) 

If you read my blog at all, you've probably realized that I have an constant, unsettling concern when it comes to the global oppression of women. That's why I am reading this book and attempting to compile thoughts to share with you. It's also why I am striving to ensure that the ingredients in my products are fairly sourced, processed, traded. I recently discovered Bead For Life, a great organization that works to  provide Ugandan women with a way to make an income by making accessories and processing Shea butter.

Immediately, I think, please, can they provide my shea?

Please can I support something that does good to women on the other side of the world?

I want to do what I can to make the processing of East African Shea from these women, a sustainable business. So, I contacted them and they sent me a generous, free sample to test out with my formulations. I've been using West African Shea, which is very commonplace. They process East African Shea which is creamier, softer, more nutrient dense. And I love it. I will be ordering in bulk when I am out of my current supply. You, my customers--current and future--will just die from delight.

Coming very soon. I could just cry from the beauty of it!

Summer, Summer, Summertime
I am going to have quite the summer. Trey is studying abroad in Dublin, Ireland beginning June 2nd. We are leaving for Texas next week. I will bum around in DFW until boarding a flight myself mid-June (solo!) for a summer in Europe with the hubby. I will join him in Dublin where I'll read & blog like crazy, SLEEP IN, exercise daily,  dream and plan for Commonsensical Spa while Trey studies in Dublin and interns for the Chief Solicitor (woo woo). Then, when the program concludes we'll skip on over to London for a night before heading to Paris & Versailles for a my good friend's wedding. Then, it's back to Texas to spur on the delivery of my niece before heading back to the Rocky Mountain High.!

As a result, Commonsensical Spa will be still be open but there will only be a limited supply and probably will be closed from June 17th-July 8th. Shipping from Europe would be a little craaaaaazy.

I'll be sure to take you all along with me, being faithful to share my summer with you. Wink. Don't be jealous.

Take joy,

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

It's begun.

Remember how I talked about the reading of a book that I said would require more of me?

It already has. And I've only read the introduction.

There's nothing particularly new. Yet. 

The topic is familiar. Wrenchingly, painfully, tearfully familiar. And all too common. And broadly overlooked.

The oppression of women, that's what I am talking about. That's what this book is all about.  And not in the way you're probably thinking.

The introduction has left me with questions. Some unanswerable. Some I hope to uncover and glean action points from the author's expertise. But for now....

I'll tantalize you with some snippets from the authors lips (it's written by a husband & wife duo).

"Women hold up half the sky." ~Chinese Proverb

"...a little Indian girl dies every four minutes..." 


"...a son is an indispensable treasure while a wife is replaceable"...

"...more girls have been killed in the last 50 years, precisely because they were girls, than men were killed in all the wars of the 20th century..."

"Evidence has mounted that helping women can be a successful poverty fighting strategy."

Maybe you'll decide to join me reading and we can journey along together through this issue. Please? It's the perfect summer read...?

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Cloth Diapering: 3 Things No One Told Me

 drying diapers

Drying Diapers by Simplyla

We started cloth diapering towards the end of my third pregnancy with my then-2-year-old, Meira, and resumed with our youngest, Natalie, six months after she was born. We were blessed to get so many disposables with our third that we didn't use the cloth until she was 1/2 year old! When you have a third baby, people just think you need lots of diapers or something... Wink.

I had a few reasons for wanting to swaddle my wee ones bums in cloth:
  • They costs less cold, hard cash. (which I have in very sparing amounts)
  • They are totally resusable.
  • I HATE the way used disposables smell. Ick.
  • I had grown sick of the constant trash heap of stinky diapers.
  • I didn't have enough to do already with three kids running around...
  • It's kinda the hip mama thing to do and I like to be trendy.
Here's what I've caught (read spent hours researching and experimenting) about cloth that no one mentioned when I got started....

1. Cloth Diapering is kinda like parenting
Cloth diapering is a constant journey. (just like parenting) Problem solving will be required (just like parenting) throughout your child's duration in diapers and then, as you have more kids, there might be different issues to work through (just like parenting). If you move, climate and water changes can affect your cloth diapering routine.

2. Cleaning those stanky thangs
The kind of water you have will affect how effectively you are able to clean your diapers. Soft water is easier on cloth diapers. Hard water is more difficult--minerals in the hard water can build up in your diapers and make cleansing more difficult. Lovely!

I don't recommend any of the "Free and Clear" versions of popular detergents. They eventually cause build up on your diapers which causes rashes and leaks. You should start using a diaper friendly detergent on your normal washings. You should also stop using fabric softener sheets in your dryer or fabric softener in your washer. Residues build up in both machines from those products and will cause build up on your diapers which will cause them to leak (and cause rash). Yikes!

Here is a comprehensive review of detergents. Personally, I use Crunchy Clean or Soap Nuts.

3. Water & The Machine: A Miracle or a Pain in the Arse...
If you have a nifty front loading washer, you might need to help supplement the water that your machine uses. I tend to use a 32 oz yogurt container to dump water in my washer when I am pre rinsing and during the final rinses. Diapers get clean with lots of water and front loaders clean by the clothes hitting each other, which is great for water conservation but bad for cleaning diapers. If your diapers don't smell clean, they probably aren't! Wash again! And rinse well--make sure all the detergent gets out which means you should not see any suds during the rinse cycle.

Bonus: My natural, free stain remover: THE SUN! If there are stains, an hour or two in the sun will make them vanish while completely disinfecting them naturally!!!

If your baby gets sick or an infection it will transfer to your diapers. Kill the germs by turning your water heater up past 122 degrees F. and washing as normal. The germs won't be able to survive. Bru ha ha ha!

By the way....
I am working on creating an effective, diaper rash (all purpose burn, cuts, cracked skin, etc) remedy creme for my business soon. You can be assured it will be cloth diaper friendly. :)

I just gave you my three, hot tips for cloth diapering. This lady wrote a whole book on MODERN cloth diapering. (She wins!)

I'd love to read it. (Side note: I think I have a problem/obsession with diapers. Please send help. FAST.)

If you'd love to read it, click on the link in the side bar of my blog to purchase (and then let me borrow it? ;)). I'll get a little commission if ya do. :)

I help you and you help me. Hooray!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A preview of what's to come

My mood is in line with the day. It has been marked by a quiet, somber covering of grey. Hearing about a 14 year old child beaten to death because she was raped, and culturally proclaimed an adulterer, wrenches your spirit and colors your day drab. 

Tree oulined against grey sky
Tree outlined against grey sky by swan corner

This article is a great introduction to a blog series I'm planning. There is a book on my bedside table just screaming for me to read it. I will. But it must wait. It's going to require more of me. And, I want to really ingest it. So, starting soonish I will be reviewing it chapter by chapter on my blog.

Anyone want to read it with me?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Fair Trade for life.

This afternoon an email appeared in my inbox.

I read it.

Chills zoomed down my spine.

"The US Department of State estimates that more than 109,000 children in Cote d'Ivoire's cocoa industry work under "the worst forms of child labor," and that some 10,000 are victims of human trafficking or enslavement." 

Salty tears flooded my eyes.

Children by Lead Beyond

Children are bought from their parents for as little as $50, with the promise that they'll be given a better life and the chance to send money back home.  This never happens, as "...these children, usually 12-to-14-years-old but sometimes younger, are forced to do hard manual labor 80 to 100 hours a week. They are paid nothing, are barely fed, are beaten regularly, and are often viciously beaten if they try to escape. Most will never see their families again." (

Reality can be overwhelming and paralyzing...

...but Love calls for movement. Love has a cost.

It's why the fair trade cocoa butter in my body care products costs more.

It's why we eat brownies at my house a lot less often (fair trade cocoa powder costs more).

Brownie dash
Brownie Dash by Phil Hawksworth

It's because it cost a real flesh and blood person less. Less thievery of their life. Choosing to use only products that ensure the chocolate was procured fairly is me saying their life is more valuable than my bottom line. More valuable than my sweet tooth.

I am voting for life and against death. It just makes sense.

For Easter. For Mother's Day. For EVERY day.

Who wants to join me?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Come, Read, Win?!?!

Come visit me! I am blogging today over at Daily Bread Living, telling my story of how Commonsensical Spa was born and giving some of it away in celebration!

I hope you win!


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A letter to my readers

Dearest Readers,

I missed talking with you last Thursday. I hope you had a delightful week. How are you and yours? I had a wonderful start to my week. It all began with me spilling my freshly poured class of ice cold water directly onto the keyboard of my MacBook. Sheer horror pulsed through my body as I rapidly blotted with one hand and searched on my iPhone with the other "what to do if you spill water on your MacBook." That would have been enough to spoil my whole week. I should have known there was more to come. 

Then on the national day of love, my dearest husband came home looking like death. In almost seven years of marriage, I've never seen him so sick. I think he was ready to curl up and die in some hole just to end his misery. By Wednesday, the whole household was down with the flu despite all my probiotic efforts. Fevers, aches, incessant hacking. Today is the first day I feel like I have my head on straight, sort of. (I mean, what momma EVER has their head on straight...wink).

So, I hope you'll accept my deepest apologies for missing our regular visit last week. To make up for it, I am posting twice in one week! Today AND Thursday. I know, I know. I am too magnanimous.

On Thursday, I will be introducing you to another interesting spot in the blogosphere, I will be there on Thursday for my second guest post in my blogging history! I will be telling the story of Commonsensical Spa, my business and ending well with a little giveaway--so you won't want to miss! Come support me! You just might win some practical pampering products!

And, finally, because I love you all so much, here's a little somethin'-somethin' for our collective sweet tooth and incidentally, the group of lovely people who came over to my house tonight.

Mostaccioli (cookies!)


2 cups flour (1 cup white, 1 cup white whole wheat)
1 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa, preferally fair trade
1 1/2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup whole milk

Chocolate Glaze (or as in my case, leftover chocolate fondue! Nothing goes to waste at my house!)
3 TBSP  unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup boiling water
1 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar

1. Prepare cookies: Preheat oven to 400F. In medium bowl, combine flours, cocoa, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, and salt.
2. In large bowl, with mixer at low speed, beat butter and sugar until blended, occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula. Increase speed to high; beat until light and creamy. Reduce speed to low; beat in egg. Alternately beat in flour mixture and milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, until just combined.
3. With cocoa dusted hands, roll dough into 1 inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake until puffed (dry looking and cracked), 7-9 minutes. Cool on wire racks. Repeat with remaining dough.
4. When cookies are cool, prepare Chocolate Glaze: In a medium bowl, with wire whisk or fork, stir cocoa into water until smooth. Gradually stir in confectioner's sugar until blended. Dip top of each cookie into glaze. Place cookies on wire racks set over waxed paper to catch drips. Sprinkle with decor--like shredded coconut.

Makes about 50 cookies. If you're lucky, there will be some left over after company comes. We were left with four.

See you on Thursday over at Daily Bread Living,


PS--The MacBook miraculously survived the water incident. Let's all breathe a sigh of relief! That felt good!

PSS--Please comment! It feeds my inner-blogger....

Friday, February 11, 2011

A good reminder

"Luther taught that every time you insist that I am a sinner, just so often do you call me to remember the benefits of Christ my Redeemer, upon whose shoulders, and not upon mine, lies all my sins. So, when you say that I am a sinner, you do not terrify, but comfort me immeasurably."

--Thomas Olden, The Justification Reader (Grand Rapids: Eeerdmans, 2002), 5

It is much easier to pity ourselves to death and hold unnecessary guilt over ourselves when we are faced with the depth of our depravity. Is Christ glorified when we remain in such a state? Of course not.  There is need to feel the weight of our sin but then we should rejoice that the story finishes with Christ and our shoulders remain burden-free. Hallelujah!!!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Wallet, meet healthy food//healthy food, meet taste buds, part 2

This post is part 2 of a 2 part series on eating healthfully while on a budget. You can read part 1 here. For really cool valentines for all your sweeties, visit here. Spread the love and give some freedom.

Now, back to eating that's tasty, good for you and your bank account!

5. Don't throw away leftovers, eat them up. Have a leftover night. Every night doesn't have to be a culinary explosion and I really, really, really love food. Have a few recipes that you can use up those bits and pieces of leftovers. Leftover rice is great for stir-fry or to supplement soups. I throw lots of leftover bits into scrambled eggs and then wrap them in a tortilla with some grated cheese. All kinds of things taste good with the delectable egg. :) Leftover roasted meats are a great, fancier topping for homemade pizza.

6. Read your ingredients. The longer the list, the greater the likelihood that it is more expensive and less healthy. Besides, if you are trying to save money, the things you are buying probably don't have ingredient lists. Remember item #3.

7. Don't be fooled by packaging. 5 Kiwis packaged cutely in a clear snap container advertised for $2.99 seems like a good deal. Until you go and see that sold individually they are 3 for $1. Even a bag of baby carrots is more expensive than buying whole carrots in a package. If you like the convenience of their size, then take five minutes when you get home to chop them up and store them in water so they don't dry out or just grow up and learn to eat them like a farmer. Wink. Along the same lines, compare price per ounce when buying packaged anything. Sometimes a cheaper price means less for your money.

8. Coupons, proceed with caution. Most often, coupons are for brand name packaged goods. See list item #3. If you are going to use them, make sure that it is something you would normally buy (often it's not) and the off brand is usually cheaper, even with the brand name coupon. I can't even remember the last time I used a coupon and I spend about $85 a week on groceries for a family of five.

9. Make as much from scratch as you can. It's cheaper, healthier, more filling and way tastier. I currently make my own whole wheat tortillas, whole wheat sandwich bread, and whole wheat biscuits. If you think you don't have time, try to find it. I am running my own natural body care business, helping start a private school, and have a husband in law school (read gone long hours) on top of my household responsibilities as a wife and mother. We are all busy. Eating healthier for less might require some rearranging of your schedule but it's worth it. You can bake on a weekend for two weeks or even the whole month and freeze what you won't eat in a week to keep the items fresh.

Alright, time to get checking! Happy shopping, saving, and most of all, eating!

Monday, January 31, 2011

I'm not here today...

Come visit me! I am over at Money Is Not Important today, blogging about eating healthy without emptying out your wallet! Go read part 1 and then return on Thursday for part 2!

There's a promo code available to all who read my post at Money Is Not Important for a 20% off discount on Commonsensical Spa products.  Go ahead and jaunt on over there for a good read, I think!

See you on Thursday!

Thursday, January 27, 2011


One of my great loves in life is cooking and more specifically, baking. You might call it a hobby but that makes it sound too superfluous. I have more of a need to be baking, well, daily. The endless stream of cooking blogs out only adds kindle to my burning baking need.

As a result of constant heating up my oven, I've gotten pretty good at following a recipe and know what cookies, cake, dough, and other delectable mixed batches of goodness look like--just prior and just after baking. My turn-out rate is pretty high. I can even just look at a recipe and tell if it will be good or not. Yet, sometimes I wonder if it's all worth it in the end.

The HUGE mess it makes.

The clock ticking, time stealing it takes.

The twenty minutes or less in which a meal that took hours to make, is ravenously or thoughtlessly consumed.

The pride that swells in my heart when the compliments are profuse. (ouch!)

In conversations with friends who ask probing questions like, "what do you feel your gifts are?" I would always lament that, well, (pregnant pause) I can cook well. That's really, all I consistently do well. For the overachiever-heart in me, it left me feeling depressed. Food is such a fleeting thing. It's taste, time in our body, and even the cooking process is not particularly meaningful. Anyone feel me? (I know all the Mommas out there do!!!)

However, I have been reprimanded by a few for this attitude. As a result, I have a new philosophy on the merits of cooking well. I believe it's a means of showing hospitality, of making your home a warm and inviting environment. It's not the only thing, but it provides an excuse to have company over, to focus on intentional relationship building as you pause to eat together over a meal. Lingering is more likely if the food is tasty and well prepared. People like to come back to your home when the food served is yum-O. And, that my friends, is valuable. Therefore, go and bake something, maybe these cookies, and show some hospitality to a stranger, dear friend or new relationship. Bake or cook as a means to making life with the people that inhabit your same space.

And, now to share a delightful, hospitality-making recipe, keep reading below!

These cake like cookies exude warmth and homemade goodness. It's the perfect after school snack or at my house this week, it was the perfect treat for company, served with glasses of cold, creamy whole milk. Best eaten immediately.

Chocolate Chip Walnut Banana Cookies
  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 cup of mashed bananas (about 2 large bananas)
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup unbleached white flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground mace or nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 1 cup of walnuts and chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a bowl, mix the mashed bananas and baking soda. Let sit for 2 minutes. The baking soda will react with the acid in the bananas which in turn will give the cookies their lift and rise.

Meanwhile, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.

Mix the banana mixture into the butter mixture. Mix together the flour, salt, and spices and sift into the butter and banana mixture and mix until just combined.

Fold into the batter the walnuts and chocolate chips if using. Drop in dollops onto parchment paper-lined baking sheet or baking stone. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until nicely golden brown. Let cool on wire racks.

Makes about 30 cookies.

(This recipe was adapted from Simply Recipes.) 
Please join me on Monday at Money Is Not Important. It's my first time to guest post (period!) and this blog has over 5,000 followers! I will be giving a promo code for a discount on Commonsensical Spa so you won't want to miss!

Also, check out Crunchy Clean. They make great natural, eco-friendly detergents that actually work and are affordable. There is even one for diapers and hard water! It's a small business, just like mine, mixed up with love in her kitchen. Go, now! She's hosting some giveaways on her facebook page!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Anyone still out there?

I know, I have been horribly inconsistent in my commitment to posting on commonsensical things. Starting my own business, working to start a classical school in North Denver, and my most precious task--doing life with three kids and my hot hubby has kept me a little busy, disorganized, and absent from all my beloved blog readers.

However, a new opportunity has given me great impetus to return to you all. My awesome brother-in-law, who blogs at Money Is Not Important, has asked me to guest post on his blog. I will be talking about how to eat real food (read: healthy) on a (gasp!) budget.  I am really excited about this chance (he has 5,000 readers) and hope you all will follow me over there on January 31st.

For a little encouragement, I've got a little something up my sleeve. But, you'll have to come back and visit me here on Thursday, when I plan to regularly post, to find out what that might be. Trust me, it'll be worth it.