What a great gift to be able to begin a new year and a new adventure!

I mean really, isn’t every day a new adventure?


As with every new year, I see and hear about everyone’s New Year’s Resolutions, and I decide NOT to make one.

I’m more of a “goal setter” as oppose to a “resolution maker”.

I believe in always looking at situations and going with the “good, better, best” option choices.

So, in evaluating 2013 and deciding what went well, what I’d like to do better, and what are my best options,….I’ve come up with this “word picture” for my new year goal setting.

Wordle: 2014blogchoice

While it may appear a little chaotic, that’s sort of the point.

See, life isn’t always neat.  In fact, if you’ve had any experiences like I have, you can agree with me that life is actually quite messy.

But despite the mess and chaos, there is GOOD STUFF!  😉

And that is how I developed my thoughts into my word collage.

The roots to my life’s tree are:




The branches on that tree that come from the roots are:








The things that I hope to blossom from my branches are my words in action!

Like this…..

I want to focus this year on being INTENTIONAL, THOUGHTFUL, and PURPOSEFUL in all that I do and say.

I want my actions to reveal my heart and my faith in Jesus to be shown through my Parenting, Living, Learning, Sharing, Loving, Eating (stewardship of my body), and my Writing.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said, “Faith in action is LOVE~ Love in action is SERVICE”.  Since I see my role here on earth as a servant of the Most High, and I love serving my family and friends, AND since I love writing and offering encouragement to others,…..I figured that my word collage summed it up pretty well!

As I was sharing my heart with my husband for the new year, and what I believe God has shown me and is asking of me,……we got into a great conversation about how my “word picture” is like a wrapping paper to the gift of life I’ve been given.

I hope you’ll find my focus this year an invaluable resource this year and you’ll share my blog with others.

Keepin’ it real,

smile ~Elena

Fall and Giving Thanks…..Part 1

give thanks 2

It’s that time again…..

The leaves have changed color, the air is cool and crisp, and I will get to see my college kiddos soon!  J

Fall is my all-time FAVORITE season!  Maybe it’s because I don’t really recall autumn breezes and scents like I have here in New England from my childhood.  I tease and tell my friends that growing up in South Texas, we had 2 seasons, HOT and HOTTER! 😉

After marrying the man of my dreams and moving in to the beautiful mountains of New Hampshire, I’ve come to appreciate all the seasons have to offer. Yes, including the snow.  Okay…..usually …. Okay ….. I try to.

I can’t lie,….the length of winter is what gets me.  By March 1, I’m ready for spring planting, spring colors, and FLIP FLOPS!

Anyway, let’s live in this moment and enjoy today. 🙂

So, what are the things I love most about fall?

1)      The smells.  Mmmmm…..cinnamon, pumpkin bread, wood stoves burning, and apple cider.

2)      The comfort foods.  Warm and stick-to-your ribs kind of foods.

3)      Shopping.  I get so excited to shop for everyone I love! Four of our 8 children have fall birthdays, and then there’s Christmas with two more children’s birthdays to follow.

4)      Snuggle time!  Our family loves to gather around the fireplace on a cool evening and hang out together.

5)      The spirit.  People are generally pretty happy.  Whether it’s because they didn’t like the summer heat or that they’re excited for the snow to come.  And of course,….Thanksgiving is upon us!

My all-time-favorite holiday is Thanksgiving!

I love cooking!  And I love cooking for LOTS of people!

If you read the calendar in my kitchen, you’ll see in BIG letters,…..”Full house=full heart”.

Now, cooking a feast like the one I’m preparing has it’s challenges.

Last year was our first year to have a gluten-free Thanksgiving.

This year, well, this year, will be gluten-free for sure, but it will be my first grain-free Thanksgiving!

Despite the fact that I will really have to work at making my Grandmother’s “famous” Dressing grain-free, I have a lot to be thankful for!   Wait, what’s that?  You don’t know what “dressing” is?   Well, that’s what folks from the South (that’s me!) call “stuffing”.  No offense to stuffing, or y’all from the North, but, I like dressing better.  Besides, I’d like to think I’m “dressing” up my meal, not, “stuffing” my waist line. 😉

So, I’m off to work on my recipes!

I hope y’all haven’t forgotten about the bundle sale going on right now, it’s only available for a limited time!  *If you don’t know what I’m talkin’ about,…..here ya go!




Keepin’ it real,

Elena  🙂

The ULTIMATE Opportunity!

I am so excited to share with you today, The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle!

By the way, this bundle has more than just books!  So don’t stop reading yet!!!   This bundle has offers you won’t find anywhere else!

Grab your cup of coffee (or your kombucha) and pull up a seat!   I’ve got something to share with you and y’all are going to love it!


Are you an ebook fanatic?  (Then THIS is perfect for YOU!)

Are you the kind of person who is very careful about how and where you spend your money?  (Then THIS is perfect for YOU!)

Do you ever wonder why things have to cost so much and if you could do it for less?  (Then THIS is perfect for YOU!)

Do you find yourself thinking, “How do they do that”?  (Then THIS is perfect for YOU!)

The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle is more than just a virtual pile of books for pennies on the dollar! Although, truth be told, ebooks are easy to store, inexpensive, easy to transport  (laptop, tablet, iPhone, kindle….), they’re eco-friendly, and did you know that you can give them as gifts?!   Oh yeah baby!!

This bundle is full of information, yummy recipes, tips and solutions, creativity, discounts and deals, FREEBIES and offers the perfect opportunity to jump start your holiday season with healthy living!

You will get a FREE conference, 86 ebooks, AND $150 in FREE bonuses!!! 

ALL FOR JUST $29.97!!!!!



Where else can you get a deal like that!?!

Now, you may be thinking,…. “86 ebooks?! Who needs 86 ebooks?”  Well, you might not right now, but remember, you can give them away or just tuck them away.  I don’t know about you, but over the years, my life has changed more than I can count.

So while you may not need them all right now, it sure would be nice to have it if you need it!  😉

Take a look!

1 HL skin care  1 HL real whole food  1 HL meal pre  1 HL allergy free      1 HL health concerns  1 HL healthy lifestyle

1 HL natural health  1 HL green


buy now

Not only will you save money upon purchase, but you will save money for years to come!

With priceless information about sustainability, natural health, kids, fitness, and living a healthy lifestyle, you just can’t go wrong!

Let’s face it…..

There are a lot of things in life we cannot control.  We’d like to think we can, but the truth is, we can’t.

But, we CAN do one thing, take responsibility.  As we take responsibility for our own health, for the health of those we love and care about, we can feel good at the end of the day about doing our best.

As I have gone through the journey of life and learning to live with psoriasis, acne, gluten intolerances, weight issues,….I’ve learned one thing.

I DON’T have to live with it, and neither do you!

Don’t give up!

That’s how I ended up going to school to be a Certified Holistic Health Coach.  I wanted more than just to help myself, I want to help others.

Just like you.   🙂

So, here’s the deal.

Check out this amazing deal, I mean really look over the bookshelves, and I guarantee you won’t be sorry.  But don’t take too long to decide to take advantage of this deal, because it doesn’t last long!

AND,….don’t forget about the bonuses!!

bonus offers

The sale runs only from November 4 – November 9!

Have questions? We’ve created a very detailed FAQ page with information about how downloads work, how to store your ebooks safely, how bonus offer redemption works, and much more. We’ve even added videos tutorials to talk you through some of the technical aspects step-by-step!

The fine print is also important. You can see that here.

Keepin’ it real,

Elena   😉


**If you run into any problems at all when purchasing, please let me know.  There are many of us involved in this and the system can get bogged down.  😉  Thanks!

Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links, and I will earn a commission for each sale purchased through my links which allows me to keep this site running and offer giveaways. Thank you for your support of this site!

A book review and GIVEAWAY!

Happy Weekend Y’all!

Recently I read one of the greatest nutrition resource books!  It is sensible, easy-to-read, practical, adaptable, and humorous.

The title would make you think that A) You have to be a woman to want to read it, and B) You have to be interested in losing weight.  But I’m here to tell you that it is not the case!

The title, Trim and Healthy Mama, simply tells you about the authors.  They are both trim and healthy Mamas!  😉  They talk about their journeys with food and share a wealth of information.  (www.trimhealthymama.com)

Here’s an excerpt:

One Size Does Not Fit All

This Trim Healthy Mama approach is fluid. It moulds easily to all personalities. It’s not only for

women who are able to resist junk food and naturally have a lot of will power. You don’t have to

be a scratch cook or a granola mom. In fact, if food is your weakness, that’s okay. If you’re the

indulgent type, it’s a good thing, because many of the meals we want you to eat are designed

to be just that—indulgent.

We want to help you customize your own way of eating that works for you and your family.

We don’t agree with stringent food programs you can never vary. As sisters, we have very different

personalities. Our households run differently, and while our core eating philosophy is the

same, we’re not identical twins when it comes to food.

I love that!

My philosophy on food has always been to find balance for yourself.

What works for one person just might be the death of another!

Research!  Seriously, do the work!  Don’t depend on Jenny Craig, Vegetarians, or anyone else to do the research for you and just assume it’s going to work for you.  (And then get upset when it doesn’t!)

Read.  Dig. Search.

It’s your body.  You know it best.  Listen to it!

Here’s another tidbit from the book:

A carb conscious approach to food, rather than a constant low-carb diet, is crucial to long

term health because most of us cannot constantly live on a very low-carb diet and remain

healthy. It is not long before glycogen (stored glucose in the liver and muscles) becomes

depleted and stays that way. This can lead to a lack of energy. Also, long term, very low-carb

diets can sometimes lead to other complications like a more sluggish thyroid and metabolism.

This is why our plan works. We promote an inclusive diet, rather than an exclusive one. It

includes all three essential macronutrients—fats proteins and carbs, even certain amounts of

starchy carbs. We can enjoy all three and stay slim.

Well I don’t know about you, but they got me at “inclusive”.

I don’t like feeling deprived.

I like feeling healthy!

And I’d like to add, SKINNY does NOT equal HEALTHY!

In addition,….

This book contains some FABULOUS recipes!

It accommodates food intolerances and offers resources.  The recipes include everything from breakfast eggs, smoothies, muffins, bread in a mug, meatloaf, spicy chicken wings, and cheeseburger pie to chocolate nut slab, macaroons, and peanut butter chocolate cookies!

And this weekend,…..I have the honor of being able to give all of you the chance to win a copy of Trim and Healthy Mama!!

All you have to do is leave a comment and tell me one activity you do that makes you feel healthy.  Maybe it’s walking, biking, hiking, crossfit,……just tell me one thing.

That’s it!

One lucky person will be chosen on Sunday evening and the winner will be announced on Monday, November 4!

Keepin’ it real,

Elena 😉

I think God made a mistake….. ?

Do you know a family that homeschools?

Are you a homeschooler?

Have you ever wondered why some people choose to homeschool their children?

Well, I’m here to tell you that the first time God “called our family to homeschool”, that’s what we Christians say when we feel like God is asking us to do something that He feels is a good idea, I told my husband, “Honey, I think God has made His first mistake!”   (NOT)

See, my husband was a principle of a private school, I (among other things) was an Early Childhood Education major in college, and I personally come from a long line of public school teachers.  So, I just knew, that little nagging thought, that tug I felt on my heart, that “calling” I heard from God, HAD TO BE A MISTAKE.  (NOT!)

You know what I’m sayin’?

When,….you think about something, not sure why.

Then, …. You see it, everywhere.

All of sudden,…. It’s what you hear about on the radio and on the television every. single.time. you. turn. it. on!

You might want to consider that God is trying to get your attention.  😉  Just sayin’.

Well, I prayed about it.  Okay, so I asked God to ‘knock it off’ and pick someone else.  Please.

Then, my husband came home talkin’ about it. (See, told ya.)

So, I prayed about it some more.  This time, the ‘right’ way…..asking for an email signed by the Holy Spirit or somethin’.  😉

And,….we decided we should just go for it.  I mean, how bad could I REALLY screw up my kids in 9 months.    (that’s a joke)

Anyway, not that God was surprised, but, it turned out pretty darn good.

Long story short, we’ve been homeschooling on and off, praying each year about each one of our children and following God’s lead.

This year, I’m homeschooling our 12-year-old daughter and so far, we’ve been having a great time.

Does that mean that every day, we do it perfectly? No.

Does that mean that every day, we lead this perfectly harmonious day while the blue birds sing and the mice do our chores?  No.

Homeschooling can sure be fun, but it is NO joke.  It takes time, dedication, perseverance, effort, self-less-ness, humility, patience, gentleness, organization, preparation,….did I say patience?

Any who……

Some days, you just think, I would love to hang out with my girlfriends, grab a cup of coffee, go to TJ Maxx, chat, giggle, and just hear someone say, “Girl, I get it!”  Some days, you yearn for someone to hug you and say, “It’s okay, tomorrow is a new day, I’m praying for you.”

Well, there IS a place to do some of those things!

It is the Homeschool Mom’s Winter Summit!

summit photo

This year, The Summit is expanding and having 2 locations!  One in Oklahoma and one in my home state, TEXAS!    *Can I get a WOOHOO?!!?!  😉

The Texas Homeschool Mom’s Winter Summit will be in the beautiful and historical town of San Marcos at the Embassy Suites on January 24-25, 2014.

And get this,….they are GIVING AWAY  a Summit pass AND a hotel stay!!  **Can I get another WOOHOO??!!!  😉


This is what YOU need to do:

1)**YOU NEED TO COMMENT ON THIS POST BECAUSE YOU COULD BE A WINNER!!**  (Well, if you’re a homeschool mom, you’re already a winner, but you know what I mean.)  😉

2) Check out the The Homeschool Moms’ Winter Summit website and registration page, and the Facebook page.

3) That’s it!  How easy is that???!!!

You can read some more posts about how refreshing the Summit was at The Pennington Point and The Marathon Mom from mothers who have attended in the past.  *Disclaimer: I have actually only dreamed of going,….BUT, y’all leaving comments could make my dream, AND yours, COME TRUE!!!

So please, leave me a comment!  **The deadline is Oct. 11, 2013**

* Tell me where you’re from (you don’t have to be from Texas or Oklahoma to attend) and that you followed your 2 assignments listed above or that this was just a really great post! 😉 (that’s not a joke)

Praying I see YOU, on January 24-25 at The Homeschool Moms’ Winter Summit in San Marcos, Texas!

Keepin’ it real,


The World’s Easiest, no-mess, BEST play dough EVER!!!


So, what does one homeschooling mother with a very efficient child do?

Well, when she’s done with her Math, she let’s her make play dough!  😉

Some twenty years ago, I began a quest for a recipe for play dough.  It took me a few years,  several pounds of flour, and a few pounds of salt, but I got it!

So, for about 15 years now, I’ve been making our own play dough.

Today, as my 12-year-old was making it for the first time, on her own, I realized that I have not shared this recipe with you yet.

So, if you are looking for a quick fix to some boredom issues, or a fun activity for practicing measurements, I’ve got it! 😉

It really only takes a few minutes to make and provides WEEKS of fun!! That’s right, it takes A LOT for this play dough to dry out!  Unless of course you leave it out on purpose for over 24 hours or in the sun.   *sigh*

We hope you have as much with it as we do!

First, find a pot that you can easily stir in.

Then, add all of the following ingredients:

2 C all purpose flour (given the nutritional value, you’re not wasting anything! ;))

1 C salt (like Dollar Tree salt)

3 T Cream of Tartar (if you buy in bulk, it’s WAY cheaper!)

2 C water

2 T oil (again, Dollar Tree)

*Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until the dough begins to pull away.

*Remove from heat, dump on your workspace, and knead.

**It will be hot at first, but will cool quickly.

**At this point, you can color it.  We’ve used unsweetened Kool Aid packets in the past, they give it color and scent.  Today, we added a few drops of food coloring and almond extract.  So, whatever you’ve got, try it out! 😉


Keepin’ it real,

Elena 🙂

Mother of 8 bares all!

I told you I was going to bare all, and I have realized how BIG that is!  I’m not even sure I could do that in a blog post,…..but I’ll give it a small shot.

See, I grew up in a “not perfect” home.  You too?  Whew!  *If you didn’t, I’d love to meet you!*

On the outside, I smiled.  I always smiled. In fact, I had a friend in high school who called me, “Smiley”. 🙂

Are you one of those people?  Are you always smiling regardless of what’s going on in your life?  Okay, maybe I’m just seriously crazy.   Well anyway, I’m that girl.

My theory,….just because I’m mad or frustrated with someone doesn’t mean I have to take it out on everyone else.  No, my life is not perfect, but I firmly believe that no matter what I’ve got going on, there is ALWAYS someone out there who has it worse, therefore, I have NOTHING to complain about.  I am simply grateful for everything and everyone in my life.  That’s just how I roll.

When I told my children the title of my next post, …. Eyes grew large, eyebrows were raised, and I got one, “Gee, I’m glad I don’t read your blog.”   (I think I was offended amused.)

See, as a mother of eight children, ….. I get asked A LOT of questions, A LOT!

Some of the most common/amusing are:

“Are they ALL yours?”  (yep)

“Any sets of twins?”  (nope)

“How do you do it?”  (I don’t)

“Did you REALLY give birth to all of them?”  (yep)

“Do you homeschool too?”  (Yes, when God calls me to it, I do!)

“Wow!  You have eight kids, and you are still smiling!?!?!!”  (this is a good one!)

*I’ve said to my children, “I’d love to see the picture in people’s heads when they hear I’m the mother of eight children.  It must be an awful picture of some miserable woman because they always seem so surprised that I’m happy.”

I also receive A LOT of comments.   Some, very unwanted,…all unsolicited.

“You know, there IS a way to stop this.”  (yep.)

“You do know what’s causing this right?”  (duh)

“You must be Mormon or Catholic.”  (Sorry to disappoint, neither.  Born again Christian, thank you.)

“Girl, you need this wine WAY more than me!”  (maybe)

One time, an Avon lady stopped by our home, knocked at the door and said, “I see you have a daycare here (toys in the yard), so I was wondering if you’d be interested in doing a fundraiser!?!?”  (I don’t think so.)

**You CANNOT imagine the laughs I’ve gotten from some of these!!

However, …. I also have to admit that once, ONLY ONCE, I was so “all done” with the questions and comments (and I was having a bad day), I DID reply with more than a polite smile.  In fact, I down right embarrassed the guy.  (Okay, he deserved it.  And besides, my husband IS a good looking man!)


The bottom line is, it is all relative.

Yes, I have eight children.  All of which I received one at a time.  (God bless Kate Gosselin.)

Whether you have eight children, three children, one child, no children,……your situation is just right for YOU!

How do I know that?  Well, I know that each and every one of us is created for a purpose.  Mine might be to be a mother of eight children and yours might be to be that amazing person who runs a medical center or programs a computer or defends our country!  I can’t do your job and you can’t do mine.  And that is okay.

Whatever you are called to do, just be the best you can be!

Now, typically, when people ask me, “how do you do it?”  I respond, “I don’t.  I just show up every day and let God do the rest.”  🙂

But for you, my very special readers,….I am going to share my top tips that I use (and anyone can use) to get through a busy day filled with children (or work, or whatever you do) in order to not completely lose your mind.  😉

1)      Plan ahead!  Whether it’s meals, budgeting, travelling, …… plan ahead!  I firmly believe that when you do not plan ahead, when you are not organized, it will ALWAYS cost you time and money!

2)      Have a schedule/routine. Even if you don’t stick to it faithfully, at least you’ll have a guide and know where to “jump back in” if you get off track. Okay, so I’m a little “structured”.  I have schedules posted, specific ways to do things, and I make lists for everything!  *When my oldest was in First grade, his teacher said she needed to make sure all of the students remembered everything she had told them that day.  My sweet son said, “You should call my mommy, she can teach you how to make a list.”  😉  *don’t worry, cancer taught me about being ‘flexible’.  *sigh*

3)      Know your strengths AND your weaknesses.  I have always been a “reactor”.  So, that makes me prone to be a “yelling mom”.  I know, I hate it.  I’m just full of energy, loud, and so I’m passionate,…..about everything.  However, I’m very good at admitting my weaknesses, apologizing, and working hard at changing.  My ultimate goal is to model Christ-likeness as much as possible.  After all, some people will never know the love of Jesus except through me, and I want them to see that He is a generous, loving, gracious, and merciful God.

4)      Try new things.  Remember, if you keep on doing the same thing the same way,…you ARE going to get the same results!  Try something new and see what happens!  😉

5)      NEVER GIVE UP!  I may be a lot of things, but I’ll tell you one thing, I was raised by one determined woman who worked hard and taught me to NEVER give up!  My kids translate that to “go BIG or go home”,….. and we typically have some type of competition going on,……. BUT you only have one life to live,…..so LIVE IT WELL!  😉

Do I do it all perfectly every day?  Oh heck no!  And I live with nine other people who will confirm that.   I am not perfect, nor will I ever be, and I am a sinner.”    *Sorry to let y’all down, but this is the real deal!

I am always on the go, I usually have several projects going, and I’m known to forget to eat and get frazzled when my blood sugar drops and I just can’t think.  Ugh, I hate that too. Fortunately, I love to cook, so there is always something yummy I can grab quickly and keep on going!  😉

BUT,…..you can bet, without a doubt, that I will be there for you when you need me.  You can bet, without a doubt, that if you need a cheerleader, I’m your gal!  You can bet, without a doubt, that if I can help someone in some way, I will.

I love my family, I love my God, and I love my life!  I’m the mom rockin’ out in the car to some really cool Christian tunes, singing out loud, and not embarrassed when the guy at the stop light is staring.  😉

I will do everything I can to live my life to bring glory and honor to my wonderful savior, Jesus Christ.

Keepin’ it real,

Elena 😉