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  • Today is all about Sugar.I am going to talk about what sweetener we use and how to make it.

    I am so glad you have joined me today and checked in at the farmhouse. Its been a week since I posted last and it feels like forever. There are big plans in my head where I help you make some super yummy healthy treats, but I realized today that there is an important first step I need to share with you first. We need to discuss the sweetener that I use. As I sat down to write this I thought it would be so fast and easy but as I got into the meat of it I realized there really is so much to say. 

    We try to live sugar free as much as possible. I find my kids behave better and my pants fit longer. I don’t know about you but I really don’t like shopping for pants so this is a pretty good trade off for me. Living sugar free is difficult though. It can be expensive and it is hard to find a good substitute for white granulated processed sugar that gets all around rave reviews backed by solid science.  

    first lets take a minute to talk about inflammation. when my blood sugar gets high I can really feel it.

     I am not getting any younger and I can feel a profound effect on my body when my blood sugar gets too high. Let me clarify,  I don’t have diabetes, I am also not pre diabetic.  However I do tend to be prone to inflammation and I feel it the most when I eat too many sweets or too many grains. 

    I feel this inflammation in my hands and wrists. It’s like carpel tunnel. For instance when I mow the lawn my hands will fall asleep. I also have troubles with my hands and arms falling asleep at night when I am in bed. My tingling arms and fingers wake me often and cause me to be tired in the day. Another place I feel inflammation is in my lower legs and they ache  especially when I try to relax. 

    One last place I can really feel inflammation is in my back. If I am being careless with my diet my back gets so stiff  it hurts to walk. I am a super active gal, I like to garden and keep up with my kids. If I am hurting so much that I don’t want to walk then I know something needs to change.

    Lets just get right to it and see the recipe. You can read more about it if you want later on down below.

    This is so easy to do. The only reason this is important is that you won’t enjoy eating Erytritol as a substitute alone. It needs to be balanced. The easiest way to do that is to balance it with other alternative natural sweeteners. 

    Sugar Free Sweetener Recipe.

    Mix your Erythritol and your Stevia into a quart mason jar (as well as your Xylitol if you choose to use it). Put a lid on it and shake, or you can just stir. 

    Store it at room temperature. You can always double or tipple the recipe, I do. We don’t use Xylitol and the recipe works just as good without it. 

    You will find with this sweetener that yo don’t need nearly as much as with regular sugar. I like to go off of about 1/4 cup of the sweetener blend to every 1 cup of table sugar in the recipe. For things like smoothies it can be even less. When yo start out using it go by taste to get a feel for how much you need. If it starts to tingle in your mouth you have used too much. 


    There are a lot of choices out there for a sugar free lifestyle. With my kids I am much more easy going and liberal with what sweeteners they get to enjoy. I have no problem giving them 100% pure maple syurp or raw honey. I also love to make them treats with dried fruit, especially dates. 

    Sugar free living is super popular right now and you may have seen a lot of recipes about it online. Some popular diets like Paleo, Keto, Trim Healthy Mama, and Whole 30 all promote a sugar free lifestyle. Most of the alternatives to sugar are growing in popularity with some taking the lead if you want to loose weight. 

    Stevia, Erythritol, Xylitol and Monk Fruit are all moving to the front of the shelves in the store. You have likely heard of them along side those popular diets I mentioned above. Here at my house we have tried them all. 

    Why do we choose Erythritol?

    Sadly there is no easy answer for many who try to give up sugar. For me the natural sugars in honey, maple syrup, and dates still fuel my inflammation and they still fuel bad bacteria in my gut (which is a topic for another day).  So if I want to have any real relief I need to stick to options that do not raise my blood sugar. I have spent hours reading about all these options and the majority of what I have read is partial to Erythritol being one of the safest options for a sweetener. I still do enjoy honey, maple syrup and dates on rare occasion because they are yummy and they do offer health benefits. 

    One of the reasons that I like Erythritol is that it is natural. It is not the same thing as an artificial sweetener it is a sugar alcohol like Xylitol but is safer to digest. Sugar alcohols do not have an affect on blood sugar. Erythritol is also known to be an antioxidant. 

    why don't we use Xylitol?

    We have tried Xylitol and it can really make my tummy rumble. I don’t like the gassy effect it has on me. There are people online and research has been done that say that Erythritol causes the same upset but I have never gotten any digestive upset from it. I think you would have to eat A LOT to get the same effect as a little of Xylitol.  

    Xylitol is also toxic to dogs, like deadly toxic, worse than chocolate and grapes. We  have a dog. My stress level is so much better when we simply avoid it. We also have chickens and since I can’t guarantee that Xylitol is safe for them its just one more reason to avoid it as an option. Since its flavor is so close to regular sugar I did include it in my recipe. It might be a good match for you. 

    Stevia is another of our favorite alternatives to sugar.

    Stevia is another option we use at our house to replace sugar. As in all things there is no suprise that there can be negative aspects to it as well. It is highly processed and some claim it can affect fertility. Some even claim that it is not actually safe due to the chemicals used to create it. It is also fairly bitter and it can be hard to find a good brand with no fillers. 

    Those negative points are all totally legitimate when it comes to Stevia. But when I know that regular sugar in all its forms is so bad for my health and compare the amounts used in recipes, Stevia is a no brainier. If I wanted to make a smoothie I would need at least 1/4 cup of sugar but only a pinch of Stevia since Stevia is so much sweeter then sugar.

    As always everything in moderation

    You know every time I write a blog post about health that I tell you to be sure to do your own due diligence. Spend some time reading about these sugar alternatives before just jumping in. Some people react differently and some may even be allergic. 

    Remember that it is not good to eat anything in excess. Don’t go and gorge yourself on treats that have been sweetened with sugar free alternatives, even if they are healthy ones. Remember that I am not a doctor and that you should consult with your doctor before making any significant diet changes. 

    further reading

    For those of you who like to fact check I am providing a few links below. Go and read for yourself to see what will work best for you. 

    1. Boesten, Danielle, et al. Health Effects of Erythritol. Research Gate. March 2015.
    2. Artificial Sweeteners and Other Sugar Substitutes. Mayo Clinic. Sept 25, 2018.
    3. Sugar Alcohols. Yale-New Haven Hospital Nutrition Advisor.
    4. de Cock, Peter and Bechert, Claire-Lise. Erythritol. Functionality in non-caloric beverages. Pure Appl. Chem., Vol. 74, No. 7, pp 1281 – 1289. 2002.
    5. Schaefer, Anna. Everything You Need to Know About Erythritol. Medical News Today. July 12, 2017.

    Join Us This Week for Wellness Wednesday where we talk about healing food

    I have teamed up with some amazing women bloggers to bring you Wellness Wednesday. Together with Shellie from Shellie Lynn.com,  Stephanie from Steph’s Social Pie, and Michelle from Garden of Aquarius  we will share with you our knowledge  to help you live a happier, healthier life. Join us twice a month for some of the best information we can give you to from our journey to yours.

    Herbal rosemary Lemonade

    Earlier this week I shared how I  bring extra flavor and nutrients to my home cooking by using fresh herbs. I included a recipe for herbal Rosemary lemonade. It is such a refreshing beverage for warmer weather.  You can get this delicious recipe here: Cooking With Herbs and Herbal Rosemary Lemonade.


    Homemade Vanilla Extract

    Vanilla Extract is a must for any home kitchen. I can’t survive without it. With the rising costs and questionable ingredients found in some store bought varieties you will always be better off just making your own. To learn how to make your own vanilla extract for just pennies go see what Michelle has to say with her: Practically Free Homemade Vanilla Extract Recipe.

    Learn about foods that boost your mood

    Shellie is one of the most inspirational health coaches out there. I love her knowledge base and how much she can teach about how to live a healthier life. Go learn some amazing information on plant based foods that will boost your mood from her at: 9 Plant Based Foods That Will Boost Your Mood.

    Have you heard about the dopamine diet? Stephanie’s article about it so informative. She gives some great information about healthy foods that can help you feel the powerful effects of dopamine.  I am over the moon about the recipes she links too. To enjoy the powerful effects of this diet learn about it straight from her at: Dopamine Diet, Eat Your Way To Happiness. 

    Keep an eye out for future Wellness Wednesday’s where we will continue to share what we know to help you live your best life. 

    Thank you so much for stopping by.

    I love delicious healthy food.

    Most of the time I want to eat decadent delicious food. In all honesty though I don’t have the time or energy to actually make it. Since we try to live simply I also don’t want to spend too much money on food or get take out too often. Cooking at home gives me a lot of enjoyment and I love providing for my family in that way. Over the years I have discovered a few simple things I can do in my kitchen to make our food more flavorful with less effort while keeping what is on our table healthy and nutritious.

    One of the easiest ways to up your game in the kitchen is to use more fresh herbs

    Fresh herbs are one of those ingredients that are so easy to forget about. They grow almost all year but remembering to utilize them is hard. I have found that when I make a conscious effort to cook with them more often my food tastes so much better. It is such a small change that makes a huge impact. Often I will buy those small packages of  herbs at the grocery store if I don’t have what I need growing in my garden. 

    Herbs are healthy too

    Most herbs that are common to cooking pack a powerful nutrient punch. They are often easy to grow which makes them an affordable addition to your kitchen. Many can be purchased locally at the store and are important ingredients in seasonal cooking. Parsley for example is extremely high in vitamin K, vitamin C and vitamin A. That is why it is a often found in winter soups like chicken noodle. 

    Some of my favorite herbs to cook with are Rosemary, Thyme, and Chives. I also love fresh Bay Leaves, Sage, Ginger, and Garlic. My hope is that over the next few months I can share with you simple recipes that are so fast and easy to make that utilize beneficial qualities of herbs. 

    Today I am going to share how to make Rosemary Lemonade. This is one of my favorite ways to make lemonade. Its has is such a unique and refreshing flavor. 

    Rosemary Lemonade Recipe

    Warm the water in a saucepan. When the water comes to a boil turn it off and add 3 sprigs of rosemary. Each sprig should be about 3 inches long, if you put too much rosemary in or let it steep too long it may get a little bitter.  Keep the rosemary infusion covered so that the water doesn’t evaporate out of the pot. After about 20 minutes take the rosemary out and stir the honey into the water and mix it in so it all dissolves. Pour the rosemary and honey infusion through a strainer into a pitcher and add your freshly squeezed lemon juice. Then refrigerate until cold.

    Once cool, garnish with more fresh rosemary and fresh cut lemon slices. Top with ice and enjoy. 

    Why did I use Rosemary?

    You can make a lot of different kinds of herbal lemonade. I actually love to make Lavender lemonade and have considered Basil lemonade or Thyme lemonade. The process is gong to be the same for most herbal lemonades.

    I have fond memories of drinking Rosemary lemonade. There was a hip little pizza place in my college town that sold it. We used to think we were so cool when we went there.  The flavor is sharp and refreshing. It paired well with pizza 10 years ago but it would also go well at an upscale BBQ or a child’s birthday party today. 

    Rosemary like most herbs, delivers a powerhouse of nutrients and health benefits. There are too many to list here, but some of the top benefits are antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. Rosemary also has an ability to improve digestion. I also love how it is known for helping with neurological protection and improving memory and concentration.

    Don’t take my word for it, go search online and you will see how awesome and healthy it is. 

    you might have noticed that this recipe uses honey instead of sugar.

    Sugar is my favorite taste in lemonade but I don’t love the side effects. In our house we try to avoid it as much as possible. This recipe uses honey. Honey has a more complex flavor and it took me a while to get used to it in my lemonade. Also different honey varieties will change the flavor of the lemonade. That is why the recipe only said “to taste”. The health benefits of honey really pair well with the rosemary. You can substitute the honey for sugar if you want and you would just add it in while the water is still fairly hot. If you decide to make that substitution it would be 1.5 cups of sugar instead of honey. 

    spring is such an exciting time of year. Its like a fresh beginning and feels so hope full.

    A huge part of my simple lifestyle is working in my garden. Not only does growing your own food provide a sense of accomplishment  gardening in general provides a general sense of well being. Being outside and getting my hands dirty helps me connect with the earth and I am able to releive the stress of our modern world from my mind. When I am out working with plants and dirt in the fresh air I loose all sense of time and get completely lost in the moment. There are other honorable mentions of gardening as well such as being more connected and taking enjoyment in wildlife along with exercise. 

    with warmer temperatures and more rain growth explodes from the earth this time of year.

    Things are starting to grow at in the garden. It has been a cool start of the season and we are about a month behind where I live. 

    Nonetheless the herbs are coming up and the flowers are starting to grow. Many of the early spring flowers are almost ready to bloom and several wildflowers are already blooming. 

    I love walking around and looking for the new growth. It is such a surprise each day to see what has broken the earth. Around here we call the emerging foliage “baby plants” and I have to remind my kids for a few weeks to be careful where they step.

    Some of the earliest to come up are fresh herbs and I am beyond excited to start using them again in the kitchen. Its been a long winter of buying herbs. 

    Walking around the garden I see fresh herbs starting to grow as well as early spring flowers and bulbs.

    Lets go on a little tour and look at what is comming up in my yard. 


    Motherwort is growing in several areas. I have so much land to fill and much of it is very hard to grow on due to the large pine trees and excessive needles that drop. This herb is very prolific and spreads like wildfire. I am not scared to grow it since it pulls up very easily. It scientific name is Leonurus Cardiaca it is a bee friendly plant that is beneficial to women’s health. Use it in tinctures and teas. It is also great for anxiety. 


    mint in several varieties

    Mint is in the same family as Motherwort. Unlike motherwort which spreads from the seeds mint spreads from the roots. It can be invasive. I debated long and hard before planting this herb right into the ground but ultimately I decided that if it will grow in the dead zones then I will be happy. I  love how it naturalizes and how it smells. Even if it migrates into my lawn areas I don’t think I will mind it as long as it gets  mowed regularly. If you don’t want it growing everywhere then plant it in a pot buried in the ground. There are quite a few varieties so I am not going to put up a scientific name. Mint is a favorite for cooking and tea. 


    Comfrey is another favorite of mine. I use it in handmade skin products such as salves. If you want a great salve recipe check this one out here. Its scientific name is Symphytum Officinale L. Comfrey is not only good in the first aid box it is also an amazing aid in the garden. The leaves are full of nutrients and using it in the compost or as a mulch will boost the health of the garden overall. 



    • Edit

    Oregano is up and looking strong. This herb is so wonderful in the kitchen and I am sure you are familiar with it. It is also in the mint family but it doesn’t grow as voraciously. There are also quite a few varieties so it depends on the one you grow what it’s scientific name is. Sometimes it goes by Marjoram and the flavor can vary. Oregano is rich in vitamins and nutrients and has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. 


    Feverfew is one of my favorites. It has a million little white blooms when its is in flower and is another herb that is so easy to grow. It is in the daisy family and its scientific name is Tanacetum parthenium. This herb is also quite voracious but it is easy to control by pulling. I love it for how much it spreads and how beautiful it is in bloom. The green foliage also provides garden interest for most of the year.  Most people think it is a weed and pull but if you keep it around it will be beneficial to the bees. My very first plant came up as a volunteer from a house we used to own and I brought it to our new house in a small pot. Now it is in several locations. It is known to be used as a tea to treat headaches. 


    Chives are some of the best herbs to grow in my humble opinion. They are some of the very first to pop up and they smell so good. They are especially good to grow if you have chickens also since chives and eggs got together like butter and bread. Their scientific name is Allium schoenoprasum and they are close relatives to garlic, leek and scallion. Not only are they tasty but their juices work wonders for inflammation. They are a great culinary addition to almost any savory dish. 

    Early Spring flowers

    Violets, Primrose, Peace Lilly and Tulips are all making their grand debut. Tulips are one of my favorites. I love buying the bulbs in the fall, planting them and then being surprised in the spring because I had forgotten exactly where they were. 

    There are always large garden projects to do in the spring

    Two years ago we worked to cut out all the overgrown trees and bushes. I also build a large flower bed in an area that was too difficult to grow grass. We worked hard to get the grass to grow.

    Last year we bought 12 more yards of dirt to fill the garden beds and cover the hugelcukture mounds we built the previous year with all the cut wood. I shoveled the entire month of May. 

    This year we got a truck of wood chips dumped. Hopefully we can finish our garden paths and start mulching the flower beds. We are fortunate to live in an area with a lot of tree service companies that are super eager to get rid of their chipped wood. 

    If you want wood chips, call around and see if a tree service company near you will drop some off. Keep in mind you have to take the entire load and some areas may require a small fee. The first time we did this I only paid 20 dollars for about 20 yards of wood chips. So it is a really great deal. 

    The greenhouse is my favorite place to be right now

    Stuff is growing in the greenhouse! Late last month we got our shelves built and then I started planting right away. 

    I had a ton of little plastic pots that I have collected from purchasing starts over the years. I had them all stacked together in the shed. They really accumulate fast and I had no idea that I had as many as I did. 

    Still there can never be to many plants (unless you are talking about zuchinni). So I quickly ran out. I ended up using some plastic disposable cups to make up the difference. I quickly ran out of those too and now need to go buy more. I am a plant addict. 

    The disposable plastic cups are a low cost way to make starts. You can get a lot of seeds planed from just one bag. The trick is that you need to put a hole in the bottom for the water to drain out. 

    If you are environmentally conscious you can re use them quite a few times before they get brittle. The better quality you buy the longer they last. 

    I like to put them on a tray or in a pot saucer so that they are easy to move around and categorize. 

    many garden varieities of vegatables are cold hardy so you can start them in the soil as soon as it thaws.

    This past week I direct sowed cold hardy annuals in my garden beds. The kids helped me plant sugar snap peas, radishes, arugula, and leaf lettuce. 

    We always do a seed order in January. I find that by buying seeds from a reputable seed company I have more variety options as well as better germination rates. 

    Its surprising that even among radish varieties some are better suited to cold weather and some like it just a little warmer. If you want to read about the benefits to ordering seeds instead of buying off the shelf of a big box check out this post

    Garlic and Rhubarb by the peach tree

    Last spring I planted some garlic a friend gave me. March was the wrong time of year, it prefers to be planted in the fall. I decided to plant it anyway and it didn’t do great. By summers end it was all gone, the growth stunted and the green stems missing. I forgot about it during the fall clean up since I couldn’t see it and it all stayed in place over the winter. 

    To my surprise it has all come up and is stronger then ever! I planted most of it around my first year fruit trees as an organic pest and fungal control. I am anxious to watch it this year to see what it does. This year I will need to remember to plant garlic in the fall. 

    Can you see the Rhubarb back there? It is growing and looks great. Our favorite way to use it is in a syrup as a cordial or over ice cream. It makes great pie as well.


    That's the end of the Early Spring Garden tour. I hope you enjoyed it and learned something too!

    This time of year is busy. We have so much ground to cover (no pun intended) and the work load increases. I love to work in the cool of the spring so that by the heat of summer I can kick back and enjoy the fruits of my labor. 

    What do you grow? Let me know and feel free to ask questions. I am always happy to help you grow the best garden!

    I like my house to be pretty

    I didn’t know if you knew, that I am waiting for a quartz counter and apron front sink to be installed in my kitchen. I was hoping that I would be able to show you the kitchen progress and tell you all about it today. As things go in the construction world there has been some delays and I am still waiting. Consequently my dreams were broken, I wanted to start showing you the inside of my house and have some pretty pictures to go along with it. That is going to have to wait for another day.

    So what are we going to talk about today? 

    I realized this morning that I have some pretty cool plates hanging on my wall. As things go, there is a little story to go with them. 

    Creating a Beautiful home takes time ​

    A couple of years ago I needed more art for my walls. We had just moved into a larger house from a very small house and everything was bare. I wasn’t sure what style I wanted my house to be, but I love a mix of old and new. My talent lies in being able to create a unique curated feel. My home needs to to be warm, cozy and speak “the story of us”. 

    Because I am a minimalist, and try to live simply, I didn’t want to just go and buy any old trendy thing to hang and call it good. After looking around online I decided to hang up plates on my wall. This wall is right in the dining area and its is awkward since it spans two living areas with multiple doors. Plates seemed like an affordable and practical option, that would be on theme for the room.

    Once I got the plate bug I spent a couple of weekends frequenting vintage flea markets and thrift stores. I only purchased plates that were beautiful, plates that filled my heart with joy. I ended up with a stack of about 20 plates. 

    Now I needed to figure out an affordable way to hang them.

    Once I had the plates I started to investigate what to do to hang them up. In my head I always thought I would buy those plate hangers that you see in stores. After looking around at a few places I decided they were simply too expensive since they came in a two pack for 7 dollars. Keep in mind I had almost 20 plates. That was almost $70.00. Yikes!

    Next I looked online, Pinterest had some ideas, and Amazon had more. I saw those yellow stickers with the ring in them that you can stick on the back of the plate. While they are a fast way to hang a plate, again they were way too much money. 



    Then I found a few sites that showed how to hang the plates by gluing clothes pins to the back using hot glue. Some even got technical and put a piece of fabric over the big part of the clothes pin to protect the wall.

    I decided to go the route of paper clips and glue. Although I wasn’t going to get too fancy with it, and I wasn’t going to use hot glue. In came E600. The glue that will glue almost anything. Its strong like Guerrilla glue but better for crafts since it doesn’t expand.

    I first used E600 as a young girl when my mom owned a craft store. I knew that it was stronger for the long term then hot glue. Plus I don’t like potentially burning my fingers when I don’t have too. You also don’t need a special equipment like a hot glue gun, you just need a toothpick. The only downside is that E600 stinks. You do need good ventilation. I am sure that it’s not a super natural option, but as long as its in small doses I am OK using it from time to time. I know it will get the job done. 

    Plates make a really cool art that you can change out seasonally

    After I got all my plates prepared to be hung up on the wall by gluing paper clips to the back I needed to decide on a good layout to put them in. The first thing I did was lay all the plates out on my table and look at them to make sure they looked good together (actually I did this before I glued the paper clips to the back). Then I put them in an order that I liked. 

    After I got the nails in. I hung all the plates on the wall and stood back to look at them. Again I had to tweak a few locations and switch a few out. I think I only ended up hanging about 16 plates instead of the full 20 because it just didn’t look right to me.


    Let's back up and talk Plate placement for a bit.

    I have to admit, I am pretty terrible about doing gallery walls right, in a way that doesn’t  damage my walls. Most people suggest (and I will too) that you make templates and use tape to get the right layout.  I just sort of eyeballed the locations that I wanted the plates to go based on what was laying on the table. I had a mix of plate sizes and styles so they really did need to have correct spacing. Then I just nailed small thin nails right into the wall. 

    Now I am pretty decent at this since I have perfected my lazy decorating skills over the past decade but I would recommend that you make the paper templates and tape them up. I did have to adjust some nails so there are a few tiny holes in my wall but the plan is to paint the walls sometime in the near future so I didn’t really care too much at the time. 


    Then, unexpectedly I made a discovery…Do you ever go shopping at a fun store like TJ Maxx, Ross, or Marshalls? I like to go to those stores for fun but because I am a minimalist (and lets face it on a tight budget) I don’t buy things very often. I always see fun seasonal items but never want to actually buy. Once I had my plate wall up, I realized that I could pick up a few fun plates for each season or holiday, and switch them out for ones that were last season.  

    I love seasonal decor but hate storing it all when the season passes

    I actually ended up going out again in the fall and found a few new plates to hang. There was a fun turkey plate, and a deer plate. I also found a set of plates to use for Christmas so that I didn’t have a wall filled with bright colorful flowers, when everything else in my home was color coordinated for the Holiday’s. 

    The good thing about this is that they are relatively easy to store and they don’t take up a ton of room. Since I bought most of them at the thrift store, I don’t feel bad about changing them up or changing my mind.

    I ended up numbering the backs of all of the plates and I also put a small piece of painters tape with a coordinating number on the wall behind the plate. This was so that when I switch them I can remember  where to put them back. 


    A quick recap :

    Supply list

    I love my plate wall. It is such a fun and easy way to brighten up a room. I wouldn’t just consider it for a dining area but any room of the house. Plates can be so beautiful, there are some real jems to be found. I even love an old vintage white plate. Who knows perhaps in the future I will switch my plates out to suit my evolving style. That is what makes life fun.

    How do you decorate on a budget? 

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