The Deep Clean

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Kelly's Hydrangea

Kelly’s Hydrangea

 

I got the blues thinking of the future, so I left off and made some marmalade.  It’s amazing how it cheers one up to shred oranges and scrub the floor.

~D.H. Lawrence

Cleaning day at the Atwood house. This morning I was up at 5:30 and I was ready to hit it and do the really deep cleaning. It felt so perfect to throw open the front door and the back door slider, turn on the fans and left the fresh air flow!

Armed with my deep cleaning vacuum and my homemade cleaning potions, I turned up my iPod and dove in. Moving furniture, doing the deep scrub on the toilets with my pumice stone – I know that sounds gross, but once you’ve cleaned and sanitized, you’ve got the rubber gloves on so go ahead and do the down and dirty scrub with the scrubbing cleanser and the pumice stone to get rid of the unsightly hard water rings.

And what was on my iPod today? Well I’m kind of into musicals, and most of the time I’m a children’s musical nut, so I cranked up Shrek and Wicked and I sang loud as I shrugged the sofa from here to there, sucked up the ceiling cobwebs and scrubbed the floors.

There’s a certain joy that comes in seeing progress being made, and in the whole house smelling fresh like the lavender, wild orange and lemon essential oils I’m using in my cleansers. Here is where I go to get my recipes for cleansers: http://doterrablog.com/spring-cleaning-natural-cleaning-solutions-for-the-bathroom

If you’re interested in the doTERRA essential oils, contact me and I can hook you up.

Enjoy!
Kristi

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Stand Strong

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Precious faces captivated by the story of King David.

Precious faces captivated by the story of King David.

 

And we will stand together, stand forever.
We will stand strong.
Standing up for God each day,
we will stand strong!

Have you noticed that many of the things we love as adults are those things cultivated from our childhood memories?

One of my childhood memories is Vacation Bible School. Every summer for a week we would do crazy things like glue macaroni and alphabet soup on cans and spray them gold to give to our mom as a pencil holder. I’m sure we memorized Bible verses and sang the old songs, but that’s what I remember tonight. I loved Vacation Bible School!

This week I had the opportunity to volunteer for Vacation Bible Xtreme or VBX, at our neighborhood community church. It was anything but small! Kingdom Rock rocked the socks off of 300 preschool and elementary school kids. With a staff of over 100 volunteers, this was vacation bible school on steroids. Can you imagine how many hours were spent setting this all up?

The Queen's Chambers and the King's Quarters

The Queen’s Chambers and the King’s Quarters

The Throne and the KidzLife Kingdom

The Throne and the KidzLife Kingdom

 

 

I came two years ago and helped in the preschool program, but this year I wanted to be around my grandkids more, so I was a team leader in the 3rd and 4th grade. I snagged Annabelle the first day and asked if she wanted to be in my group. There were about 56 – 3rd and 4th graders registered, and six staff leaders, so we figured we would each have about 10 kids. That’s not too many, right? Well, my granddaughter has friends, lots of friends. And each of the friends had a friend they didn’t want to be separated from, so my 10 grew to 17 by mid-week as our 56 grew to 70. That’s just the 3rd and 4th graders.

A few of the girls on the last day.

I love these smiles!

We started each morning with the K-6th graders in the sanctuary, music cranked up loud and it didn’t take long for the kids to be just as loud. They danced, they screamed and cheered, they laughed and sang, and they learned about the mascot for the day and the morning Bible verse, complete with sign language.

They learned about the Mission they were bringing in their nickels and dimes to support — clean drinking water for the people of Costa Rica. They learned that just $15 would buy one person clean drinking water for 20 years. They embraced the challenge, and every day were so excited to learn just how many people they had helped. By the week’s end they had offered up over $1,500 to provide 106 people clean drinking water. They tapped their piggy banks and gave from their heart, learning the wonderful feeling of helping someone in need. Will they remember this in 30 years? I think they will.

King Howya Dohan and Sir Trips Alot telling stories in the Royal Bible Adventures tent.

King Howya Dohan and Sir Trips Alot telling stories in the Royal Bible Adventures tent.

In the Royal Bible Adventure tent they learned about some Bible heroes who stood strong when times got tough. King David, Esther, Nehemiah and Jesus. For some it was the first time they had heard these stories.

We learned a new song:
Don’t worry about anything, instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. I’m sure it’s no coincidence that these were the words that I needed to hear that day. As I try to do everything my own way and by myself, lately I’ve just been spinning my wheels and wondering what I’m doing wrong. I think I found the answer this week, and I’m the one who needed to come to VBX. It’s time to get back on the right path.

Jester Jesse and Captain Grey Beard getting the kids excited to play Tournament Games. They enjoyed any game that involved getting soaked!

Jester Jesse and Captain Grey Beard getting the kids excited to play Tournament Games. They enjoyed any game that involved getting soaked!

The other feeling I’m left with this week is pure love. Love for these kids, love for being a volunteer and also a love for this new town we are calling home. There’s no better way to meet people than to immerse yourself into a project, or a community like a church, a school, or a soccer team! I think my mentor Rollin taught me that. It really works.

Thank you Real Life for a wonderful week!

Check out videos from the week at www.seekreallife.com

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We made cupcake flashlights to remind us that “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

It's hard to stand on one foot with a falcon balanced on your elbow!

It’s hard to stand on one foot with a falcon balanced on your elbow! One of the experiments in Imagination Station.

Practicing for the performance on Sunday for the parents.

Practicing for the performance on Sunday for the parents.

A life well lived

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Buck Mountain Lookout taken from helicopter.

Buck Mountain Lookout taken from helicopter.

I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.

—Albert Einstein

 

Here are 25 things about me, in no particular order. I originally wrote this in 2009, but looking at it tonight brought a smile to my face, and so I share it here with you now.

  1. I believe in the power of positive thinking and speaking things into existence.
  2. My first job was giving piano lessons to small children. I recently found the check for the first dollar I ever made. One 1/2 hour piano lesson was $1.00. I was 9.
  3. My favorite day of the year is September 24.
  4. After my dad died I just wanted to run and run and run. So I joined Team in Training and worked out 6 days a week swimming, biking and running and completed my first Olympic distance triathlon. I was 47 and it was the most amazing thing I have ever done. You can’t cry when you are running, swimming or, heaven forbid, biking.
  5. After my mom died I didn’t swim, bike or run for several years. I just cried. I must have been making up for lost time.
  6. I lived for a year in a 14 x 14 foot house with a sleeping loft. The shower was outside and didn’t have a roof so it was a very fun place to take a shower when it was snowing.
  7. Growing up in a very small town was the greatest experience ever. We could walk anywhere, we knew everyone, we were safe. It was the best!
  8. When I was 17 I had real pizza for the first time. We drove 98 miles to Wenatchee to go to Shakey’s.
  9. I lived in Alaska for two years. When it was time to move back to Washington I packed my car and drove by myself across the great state of Alaska to the Haines ferry. When I got to the Canadian border crossing in the Yukon Territory the guard asked if I had any cash, “yeah about $150”. “How about credit cards?” Proudly I answered “nope”. She told me I needed to turn around and go back until I had enough cash to come into Canada. I hadn’t seen a car in the last 400 miles, let alone a gas station, just where did she think I would get this cash?
  10. I have gone to 6 different colleges since high school. I received a diploma from two and a certificate from two. I hope I never stop learning and challenging myself.
  11. Favorite children’s books The Story of Frog Belly Rat Bone by Timothy Basil Ering, and Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems, and of course Winnie the Pooh.
  12. All my life I have loved the illustrations in children’s books. Beatrice Potter, Lisbeth Zwerger and Arthur Rackham are three of my favorite artists. Line and watercolor, telling a story with pictures, this is pure beauty. I can’t enjoy a book unless it has pictures in it. When I grow up I want to illustrate children’s books too.
  13. I spent a couple of years being the emcee for 24 and 28-hour dance marathons for Muscular Dystrophy. I was the one keeping all the young people awake and dancing for the 24 hours. I had a pink tuxedo jacket and black pants with 3” heels. I must have thought i was really something. I’m sure I wasn’t.
  14. I have been married for almost 24 years. I have 3 step-kids and 2 grand kids. Each has brought a special light into my life and I love them very much.
  15. Chocolate used to make my heart sing, especially Hershey kisses and M & M’s. I am now sugar-free and my favorite sweet treat is apples with almond butter.
  16. I swam a mile in the San Francisco Bay in November 2006 for my 2nd triathlon. The water was very black. I was really glad to get out.
  17. I owe Lance, Wade and Nari a very special thank you for not allowing me to drown.
  18. I hate to have dirty hands.
  19. Crystaline moment: One Wednesday night in the winter, four of us ladies cross-country skied from the summit on Blewett Pass, 9 miles down the old highway. It was on a fully moonlit night. Oh my gosh, so quiet, so calm, so beautiful.
  20. One of my very favorite things is listening to my husband play the piano. Meeting Gary was the single best thing in my entire life.
  21. Family reunions are the best!! I love my family and wish we all could get together more often.
  22. I was in a dinner theatre group in Wenatchee for a few years­ — Mission Creek Players. Most memorable performances were the Charwoman in “A Christmas Carol”, and the Twirler in “Talking With”.
  23. I worked on a forest lookout for two summers watching for forest fires. I wish I would have known then what I know now. I would have used that time differently.
  24. One of my passions is drawing and painting. I was very happy when I was taking art classes three nights a week. Maybe someday I’ll be good enough to show you my work.
  25. My current passion and work is nutrition coaching. I am deeply devoted to helping people learn how they can live a healthier and happier life by eating whole, natural food. Food changes everything.

I thank God for giving me the words to write, and for you as well, who read my words.

Coming clean about my addiction

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apple_almond-butter

Apple slices filled with almond butter to make the best snacks. Try this with your kids!

I am perfection. I am healthy. I am strong.

                                     —The Chopra Center, 21-Day Meditation Challenge

In my Sugar Blues workshops, I come clean by telling everyone “I am an addict. A sugar addict. Not only a sugar addict but a chocoholic too.”

“I don’t know when I first drank the Kool-Aid. No really, I drank the Kool-Aid my Mom made. Remember, before ‘sugar-free’ every pitcher of Kool-Aid had a full cup of sugar in it. My Mom babysat and so every afternoon we had Kool-Aid and graham crackers, sometimes with frosting.” And so it began.

Two years ago I added up how much sugar I was eating every day. It came to a whopping 42 teaspoonsevery single day. I knew something had to be done, so I cut myself off of all sugars, except honey, maple syrup, agave nectar or stevia.

Well, due to leaky gut syndrome, I found myself still having issues with skin problems (eczema and psoriasis) so I visited a Naturopath. She immediately put me on a very strict diet:

  • no sugar of any kind except low glycemic fruit
  • no grains of any kind
  • no beans or legumes
  • no nuts or seeds
  • no gluten
  • no dairy
  • no soy
  • no eggs
  • no corn
  • no nightshade veggies (tomato, potato, eggplant and peppers)
  • no bananas, pineapple or mango
  • no dried fruit (dates, raisins, cranberries, goji berries!)

You might be wondering what that left and that’s what I wondered too. Fruits, vegetables and meat were the allowed foods. It actually was close to a Paleo type diet to heal my leaky gut. What I discovered is that when you open up your mind to the wonderful world of fruits and vegetables, your cravings go away. Instead of a bowl of nuts, I grab an apple or a carrot. If I want something sweet at lunchtime, I chop up sweet potato and roast it with olive oil, salt and rosemary.

I have been fully satisfied and completely sugar free (with the exception of fruit) for eight weeks now, and I have been feeling pretty good! I also lost over 10 lbs.

Now I am slowly challenging food groups by adding them back in one at a time and testing to see if they are causing a reaction somewhere in my body. So far, large beans are out, small beans are okay. That’s because large beans are hardest to digest and cause extreme gas and bloating for some of us. I’m fine with black beans and adzuki beans. Oatmeal, unfortunately brings on the itching. Isn’t that weird? I guess I’ve developed sensitivity to oats!

Today, was my day to add nuts and seeds back in and what I’m finding is that the bowl of almonds and pumpkin seeds just doesn’t do it for me anymore. But here is a wonderful treat that I really enjoyed today – apple slices with almond butter. Plenty sweet and nutty!

Sugar. It’s in nearly all processed foods, it’s highly addictive, it is the leading cause of inflammation and diabetes, and cancer loves and lives on sugar.

If you’d like to know more about sugar, what it is, what is does in your body, why we have these crazy sugar cravings, and what we can do to get off the sugar roller coaster, join one of my upcoming Kick the Sugar Blues workshops or give me a call. My intention is to change your relationship with sugar, forever.

I’d enjoy hearing your sugar story and hearing about the things you crave. Are taco chips your go to munchie, or do you crave soda or maybe Ben & Jerry’s ice cream? Drop me a note, I’d love to hear from you.

In good health,

Kristi_signature

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If you like what you are reading here, go to everydaynourished.com and sign up for my newsletter. Stay connected and find out how working with me as your health coach could be the support you need to make some wonderful changes in your life. See you there!

Remembering my Uncle Jim

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James W. Pruitt (1921-2013) Father, Brother, Uncle, Grampa and Great Grampa, WWII Veteran and Prisoner of War, Farmer, Cattle Rancher, retired Forest Service, and friend to many.

James W. Pruitt (1921-2013) Father, Brother, Uncle, Grandpa and Great Grandpa, WWII Veteran and Prisoner of War, Farmer, Cattle Rancher, retired Forest Service, and friend to many.


Yesterday a light went out in my family’s life and today I am left with a hole in my heart the size of Alaska. Early yesterday morning my Uncle Jim passed away from complications of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). That’s not the important part I want to tell you about, it just ended up being the final chapter in the story of his 91-year life.

My Uncle, like my Dad was bigger than life. He filled up a room with his smile and laughter, and could keep you entertained for hours with his stories. When someone that important leaves us, the room seems so huge and lonely. What’s left is the empty chair, deafening quiet and the memories.

Today I am remembering some of the things I learned from his life well lived and I wanted to share them with you.

  • Follow your dreams, no matter how far away they may take you
  • Laugh. No, really laugh a lot and laugh often
  • Share what you have
  • Don’t be afraid to work hard
  • Don’t retire to your rocking chair, keep working, keep moving, keep doing what you love
  • Cultivate friends of all ages and from all walks of life
  • Get outside
  • Get out to the woods as often as you can
  • It’s okay to make green or pink pancakes, in fact it’s pretty fun
  • Sleeping outside is good for you
  • Tell stories, and enjoy the telling of them
  • Serve your country
  • Stay in touch with old friends
  • Gather your family around you, especially for the Holidays
  • There’s only one way to do it, and that’s Uncle Jim’s way
  • Be good to your neighbors
  • Pay your bills
  • Save your money
  • Eat your sorghum
  • When making homemade ice cream, you need lots of ice, lots of salt, real sugar and real cream, and lots of cranking on the old ice cream maker
  • Read lots
  • Support your local ball teams
  • You’re never too old to go on a trip
  • Don’t give up
  • You only need to take a bath on Saturday
  • Living in the country is better than living in the city any day

Uncle-Jim-and-Kristi--June-10_24During my uncle’s long life he cultivated friends from all around. He would share his tools, cut their pastures, and teach them the ropes about farming or riding and caring for horses. Because of this, he was always surrounded by people who loved him and took care of him when he needed help. Sunday mornings would find him at the corner table of “Shannon’s”, the little local restaurant. Everyone knew he would be there, eating huckleberry pancakes, and there was a regular group of people who would stop in to join him, people of all ages, and I believe that this kept him young.

Shannon's_inside

Breakfast at Shannon’s

In the 90s, he kept bugging me to go into the backcountry with them, a trip where they take the pack horses and ride in to the wilderness area. A long-time member of The Back Country Horsemen he knew all the best places to go into the Pasayten Wilderness in northern Washington State. I regret that I never got a chance to make one of those trips. But, we did start a tradition of a family campout every summer, sometimes with the horses.

He was happiest when he was making coffee over a campfire and flipping hotcakes. Well that may not be entirely true, he was happiest at his barn where he could watch his cows and horses and just “be”.

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tri-barnseries

He taught us all (me, my sister, his children and grand children) how to drive the old tractor when we were nine or ten. Then when I got my driver’s license Uncle Jim taught me how to drive a stick shift. It was an afternoon of popping the clutch, jerking around, killing the pickup and laughing so hard at him, laughing at me. But that’s what he and I did, we laughed together.

Sitting here today in the quiet I can hear his laugh and his voice. I’m sad to know that this will slip away over time. But, I don’t think he wants us to be sad, I think he expects us to buck up and keep going. Keep walking the path to our favorite place, and when we get there, to sit down and enjoy the view.

Taken two weeks after a Holiday and some deer watching.

Taken two weeks ago after a Holiday dinner and some deer watching.

His daughter wrote this today, and I thought it was exceptionally beautiful:

As the reality of life and death hit my boggled brain this morning, I must realize that my Father…James W Pruitt…will never again share with me his beautiful smile, his wit and his wisdom. As a child you just know that parents are invincible and love you unconditionally, yet here I sit feeling so empty. Quiet. Numb except for the tears. This will pass, I know. May you be forever at peace Poppa. I’ll look for your special twinkle when I look up at the stars and I’ll look for you in all places familiar. I love you.

I couldn’t say it any better. I love you and will miss your smiling face Uncle Jim.

Just keep swimming

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Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.

—Arthur Ashe

I have fallen in love with swimming. It’s not the first time, but I think it’s for real this time. I love diving under water and feeling every worry, every care just be washed away. I love floating, feeling the freedom of my body as the water suspends me, and my world… slows… down.

I thought I would share some of the benefits of swimming with you. You can read the full article here from the Discovery Fit and Healthy website. Swimming is one of the best all around forms of aerobic exercise.

  1. Swimming is a non-impact aerobic exercise
  2. It stretches and strengthens muscles
  3. Very beneficial for people with arthritis and joint problems
  4. Improves muscle tone
  5. Improves bone strength
  6. Improves flexibility
  7. Strengthens the heart
  8. Burns calories
  9. Lowers the risk of Diabetes
  10. Lowers stress and improves your mood

Does that make you want to find the pool nearest you and swim a few laps? You can make it as challenging or as easy as you want. Just being in the water will help you unwind.

We grew up at the swimming pool. In our small town it was given that this is what you do in the summer, you go to the pool. We took swimming lessons each year, and I even took diving lessons, which I loved until I did a flip and hit the diving board. It’s always great fun until someone gets hurt.

Years later, (when I was 47) I decided it was time to swim again. After my Dad died from complications of leukemia, I joined “Team in Training” and set my sights on completing my first Olympic distance triathlon. I figured it was a win-win situation, I would raise money for Leukemia research, and I would have a coach teach me about bicycles and changing tires, how to run, and I could swim again. That plus I would lose weight and get in shape. Mind you, I had a desk job and my major form of exercise was walking to my car.

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Training in Lake Washington, end of October. It was so cold!

The first night of swimming the coach had us get in the water and swim as fast as we could, so they could determine the coaching we needed. I pushed off and swam as hard as I could and as far as I could, thrashing through the water until I heard, “Stop, stop, stop!” Panting, I looked up at the coach. “You need to get out of the pool and go over to the kiddies’ pool,” he said. Seriously, the kiddies’ pool? I crawled out, head lowered in shame and sulked over to where eight other “triathletes in training” were bobbing nervously in the shallow pool.

Finishing the swim with my friend Laura, at the Lavaman Triathlon.

Finishing the swim with my friend Laura, at the Lavaman Triathlon.

And so it began, six days a week for over five months, sixty of us training together to accomplish a common goal: to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and to be sure we didn’t drown in the ocean in Hawaii. The picture is the final result of that training, as my friend Laura and I came out of the water during the Lavaman Triathlon in Hawaii. We swam the entire mile shoulder to shoulder, encouraging each other along. I felt more alive that day than I ever have before. I had set a goal, worked hard, and had made so many friends along the way who cheered for my success as I crossed the finish line. A one-mile swim, 25 mile bike ride, and 6.2 mile run, done. And I didn’t drown.

Fast forward to 2013. It’s been a few years since I’ve been swimming, so I bit the bullet and joined a health club that has a pool. In my first outing last week, I didn’t swim very long because I didn’t have the energy. This week, I’m pleased to tell you, that I was able to swim for 30 minutes. It is so cool to feel my endurance returning, and I am amazed how quickly it comes back. Our bodies are such incredible machines! I’m anxious to dive back in and work up to swimming for an hour. I think that’s a great goal to start out with this year.

Start where you are.
Use what you have.
Do what you can.

If you’re in to cycling, triathlons, marathons or hiking, check out Team in Training. They are an awesome group of people and train for over 200 endurance events around the world!

Thinking about 2013. Resolutions, intentions and new challenges

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jimmysdeer

Welcome to 2013!

In the last two weeks we drove 1200 miles to see family, and also had a fantastic Christmas with all our kids here at home. Every day was filled to the brim and I am so grateful to everyone that helped make it possible. The picture above was taken from my cousin’s sunroom. He has a lot of deer that come down to munch on the hay he puts out. It was so pretty that afternoon as we watched them come in. I think we counted seven or eight total. This was way up in NE Washington State, close to the Canadian border.

Now, it’s time to take a deep breath and look forward and do some planning. I’ve heard everything from “resolutions don’t ever work“; to “set an intention for the year”; to “choose a word for the year.” I like the last one and actually there are two that keep coming to me for this year. The first is manifest. I have been spending a lot of time thinking about what I want to manifest in 2013. A new life here in our new city; getting my Heath Coaching practice established here in town and online; meeting new people and making new friends; traveling out of the country (maybe Costa Rica, or how about Italy?) I would also like to manifest a new house for us to buy this year and the income to support it.

The second phrase that keeps coming to mind is Aging Gracefully. I would like to use this as a springboard for a new class offering, and so in the coming weeks you may be hearing my thoughts on what it means to me to Age Gracefully. I also would like to hear your thoughts.

What does Aging Gracefully mean to you?

In my yoga class tonight the instructor was saying, “in 2013 do something to challenge yourself.” So that’s my second question for you, what can you do this year to challenge yourself more than you ever have in the past?

In closing, whatever you resolve to do this year, whatever your intention, always look at what you have accomplished today. Maybe it was as ordinary as getting up on time, but for many people that’s huge! Acknowledge that accomplishment and every day this year recognize all that you have achieved, big and small.

Step into the wind and spread your wings. Make 2013 your year to fly!

Merry Christmas to all!

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Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas with your friends and family, full of love, laughter, plenty of good food and all that lights up your heart!

“’Twas the Night Before Christmas”
By Clement Clarke Moore

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

“Now, DASHER! now, DANCER! now, PRANCER and VIXEN!
On, COMET! on CUPID! on, DONDER and BLITZEN!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes — how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD-NIGHT!

The decorating is finished, now what? Here’s some sites to help you plan the menu.

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The little red hat my Mom made, which Doobie adores.

The tree is up, the lights are lit, and I’m still not ready, not one little bit.

—Me

One of my favorite parts of getting ready for Christmas is decorating the tree. I’m one of those people who require 100 lights per square foot. The final effect is stunning with so many lights filling up that live tree, but it is a process that takes me a few hours, winding the lights round and round, in and out of each branch. But that’s not what I wanted to tell you about today.

The part of decorating that I love is opening each little ornament box with its treasure inside. I have carefully written the name of who gave us the ornament and the year on each box. It’s a 3-dimensional scrapbook of our life since we’ve been married. With each box I open I’m reminded of the person who gave it to me and the memories come flooding back. This is a big part of what Christmas means to me, the memories of the past Christmas’s and the friends and family who have shared their love and their light with me.

I have some very special things on my tree that are from my childhood Christmas tree, which my Mom gave to me over the years. One year she knit these little mittens and hats (like the one in the picture). Doobie must remember when she made them, because these are his favorite part of Christmas. He is very interested in the decorating of the tree and sits close by waiting for his chance to peak into the branches. I lift him up and he looks up and down and into the tree searching for the mittens, then he swats one off the branch so he can toss it around and chew on it for a while. I rescue it before Bodie gets it in his mouth, dog saliva encrusting the little thing so the cat doesn’t recognize my Mom’s smell anymore. When we moved we found at least one of these little hats under a bookcase downstairs where Doobie had squirreled it away to play with later.

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Doobie helping decorate the Christmas tree

With the house being decorated it’s time to turn my attention to finishing up the shopping and wrapping, decide what the menu will be and make the grocery lists. This year will be a bit different since we have dietary considerations for many of us. Gluten and dairy-free, no sugar please and vegan options. There are plenty of websites which have recipes for all of these needs. Here are some of my favorites:

For the Gluten-Free
The Whole Gang
Gluten Free Girl
Gluten Free Diva
Gluten Free Goddess

For Whole Fresh Foods
Integrative Nutrition 105 recipes for the Holidays
Boistfort Valley Farm
Andrea Beaman

For Vegan Recipes
The Happy Herbivore
Love Vegan
FatFree Vegan Kitchen
Cooking Quinoa
Engine 2

For Raw Recipes
Nouveau Raw – this is my friend Amie Sue’s wonderful website
David Wolfe

Wishing you a wonderful Holiday weekend! If you are stressing out over how you will make your way through the eating events this weekend, remember the 90/10 rule. 90% of the time we make the very best choices we can with the food that is available and 10% of the time it’s okay to “fall off the wagon,” no guilt, no shame. It’s Christmas and it’s much more nourishing to enjoy the family and the people you are with than it is to be worried about every bite you take. We can get you back to a healthier lifestyle in the New Year.

Here are Dr. Mark Hyman’s Holiday Survival Tips, which I think is the best summary I’ve seen this season for how to prepare yourself for all the celebrations. Enjoy!

Have a wonderful weekend!

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Finding Christmas

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Beautiful lights, beautiful house

Beautiful lights, beautiful house

 At Christmas, all roads lead home.

 —Marjorie Holmes

The days are getting shorter and shorter and the grey drizzle was upon us today. Christmas is just around the corner. I have been looking for signs of it on the streets, in stores and in the music. All the tinsel and wrappings of the Holiday are there, but until tonight, it has felt like some big, huge part has been missing.

Today, we finally stepped out of our house, and I found a big dose of Holiday cheer at the tree lot where we slogged through the puddles in a downpour to pick out our perfect tree. It’s drying out in the garage tonight, and by tomorrow night it will be ready for the lights. This is the first part of what Christmas means to me. The tree, all fresh-evergreen scenting the house, twinkling with the 15 strings of lights I will lace through its boughs tomorrow.

The second part of what Christmas means to me is finding the neighborhood with the best lights. We did come across the perfect house in Edmonds on Friday night, all dressed in beautiful white lights, with a marvelous star on top. It took my breath away!

64 people perched high in this wonderful and amazing singing Christmas tree!

64 people perched high in this wonderful and amazing singing Christmas tree!

Another very important part of this Holiday are the music and theatrical productions celebrating the season. We were blessed tonight to be taken to The 35th Annual Singing Christmas Tree at the Ridgefield Church of the Nazarene. I was totally not prepared to hear the high quality of music that this production provided. As the lights went down a solo piano began playing the accompaniment to “O Holy Night.” This is one of my favorite carols. As she played, the members of the choir climbed up into their positions in the tree, guided only by a candle for light. Then, out of the darkness 64 voices commanded us to “Fall, on your knees” and I tell you what, I was nearly knocked to my knees by the strength and magnificence of the music. I think Beethoven would have loved it and could have heard it!

The talented choir was joined by children in a telling of the story of the birth of the Christ child as being told to a group of homeless kids living on the street and sleeping in the alleys. Darling little angels and shepherds sang their hearts out, with echoes of their words being sung by the full choir. It was all very well done.

This was what I had been waiting for, and hoping to hear and to feel this season, the love of Christmas, which God shared with us. This is what Christmas means to me.