Saturday, December 14, 2013

Merry Christmas!!

I absolutely love Christmas music.  Yep.  I'm one of those people.  The cheesy song loving, craft making, cutesy type.  Christmas music takes me to my happy place which usually involves creative crafts, dancing (Zumba), or sipping coffee watching my kids play.  To clarify, my favorite type of Christmas music is the worshipful kind.  The kind that sings of adoring the baby Jesus, or of God's love for us.  Classics, or new songs, it doesn't matter. Instrumental or Acapella - love it. I especially love Mary Did You Know, O Holy Night, and The Little Drummer Boy.  

I often hear from God through music.  Music is part of my DNA.  It's what moves me both spiritually and physically.  I could not imagine a world without song and dance.  

There have been years where Christmas was a blur and it was full of rushing and scrambling and hectic schedules to keep.  But others have been completely content.  

When I was a young, the most memorable Christmas was one spent in Branson, MO.  It was memorable because we got a real tree, but had no decorations.  We spent hours as a family making popcorn and cranberry trains, homemade tinsel and paper cut snow flakes.  I have no idea what we got that year but I remember playing the guitar with my mom and singing Christmas carols while my sisters sang and danced.  We loved putting on "talent shows" for mom and dad. 

I remember the first Christmas as a family of three.  Aaron was almost 6 months old and the three of us were driving home from the Farnsworth family Christmas Eve party in a blizzard.  There was hardly anyone on the road and it was silent except the Christmas music playing on the radio.  In that moment, everything was perfect in my world.  I had just left my job to be a stay at home mom and I couldn't be happier. That year, the song that most impacted me was Mary Did You Know.  The idea of Mary holding her sweet baby boy, like my own, and trying to comprehend the fact that he was Emmanuel.  God with us.  The power of God, in the form of a small innocent baby.  It was enough to make me weep every single time I heard it.

This year, with a tight budget, we are giving all homemade gifts.  I've been working on them for a month now so I don't have to rush at the last minute.  At least that's the plan!  I'm even making the kids gifts too.  So far it's been far less stressful than fighting crowds at the most popular retail stores.  I may not be able to afford expensive gifts, but I can give the time that it takes to make them and the love that goes into carefully preparing goodies and wrapping them.  So when I heard Pentatonix version of Little Drummer Boy, I was covered in goosebumps and maybe for the first time, I really understood the meaning of the song.

The song, performed by 5 talented people with only their voices, is simple and powerfully beautiful.  I picture a young boy wanting to please this new born King he had heard so much about.  Without money he doesn't  feel like he has anything to give.  But he can play the drum.  Music.  Something from his heart.  He must have been terrified and filled with nerves.  But then Jesus smiled at him.  The little baby would have enjoyed that song way more than any silver or gold.  And the joy that boy must have felt when he saw how his song pleased baby Jesus.  This of course is only a song.  It probably did not happen in real life but the message is still the same.  It's about the heart.  Truly - it's the thought that counts.  

Jesus would later teach his disciples that the most important commandments are to love God and love people. (Matt 22:36-40)  And that in serving others, you are serving God.  (Matt 25:40)  So how can we honor Jesus this Christmas season?  What gifts can we possibly bring that would be fit for a King.  We can love.  Love our family, our friends, acquaintances, and strangers.  Maybe that looks like a homemade gift.  Or maybe it looks like serving a dinner at a shelter.  Or making cookies for your neighbor.  Maybe it does mean buying that special gift your son has been eyeing for months because you love him so much and want to see him light up with joy.  Maybe it's holding doors for people at the store, shoveling a driveway, smiling at those you pass, wishing someone a Merry Christmas, being courteous on the road, or praying for someone you don't even know.  There are a thousand ways we can bring gifts to our Lord.  

My prayer is that you would have a simple, Christ filled Christmas.  May you have peace and be surrounded by those you love and who love you. I will be taking the rest of the month off from blogging here to enjoy time with my family without obligations.  Please join me after the New Year.  I have LOTS of great posts planned.


Monday, December 2, 2013

Homemade Ketchup

I know what you're thinking.  I've gone off the deep end right?  I mean homemade ketchup?  Yup.  And it's sooooo yummy!  There are two ways to do this.  I'm going to walk you through both because if you are like me and have never made tomato sauce, you probably need the extra instructions.  You can cut the cooking time in half by using already made tomato sauce either that you canned yourself, or bought from the store.  Once you've tried homemade ketchup, I dare you to go back to your beloved Hunts.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Making the Cut

T-shirt cutting has become extremely popular - especially in the Zumba community.  Since I've got several upcoming holiday Zumba events, I wanted to make a cute tank to wear that was Christmas themed.  A lot of people have asked me to do a tutorial on cutting t-shirts.  It's a very economical way to express creativity and recycle old tees.  

Thursday, November 21, 2013

No Use Crying Over Chopped Onions

Over my birthday trip to KC, my in-laws kindly gave me some of their garden harvests from over the summer.  Along with quart sized jars of green beans and tomato juice, I was blessed with about 15 beautiful white onions.  When stored correctly, onions can stay good for several months.  When we got home I promptly looked up some good ways to store them on Pinterest.  I found this little beauty.  Brilliant!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Protein Energy Balls

Protein Energy Balls are so easy to make and you can use whatever things you have on hand.  These little gems are perfect for a quick breakfast, snacking while hiking, or post workout when you need to replenish your energy!  Word the wise, these babies are NOT low in fat and are not a "diet" food.  I rarely eat anything that constitutes "diet" food anymore.  They ARE however packed full of nutrients and are a healthy way to get a punch when you need one.  They have similar ingredients to protein bars you might find at the store but they have no additives and are completely natural.  Plus, they are way cheaper!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Crazy for Canning!

Well hello blog!  It's been a while.  I'm sorry I've been cheating on you with my latest obsession in food preparation and preservation. 

It's true.  I'm officially obsessed.  Who knew that canning was so fun and satisfying !  I have been a canning fool, spending entire days in the kitchen, and neglecting things like my blogs, my chores, and basically anything else that doesn't have to do with cooking.  Between my dehydrator and canning, I've been a busy girl!  So how about I share my accomplishments with you, my trusty blog audience.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Pumpkin Seeds

Halloween is over and chances are you probably carved some pumpkins for your front porch.  Did you save the seeds?  I hope so!  My birthday is in October and this year I decided to purchase a nice food dehydrator with some of my birthday money.  It's been almost constantly running since the UPS driver dropped it off on my doorstep about a week and a half ago!

My first project was pumpkin seeds.  I've made them in the oven before but I thought I might like to try them with my new toy this time.  Since I have never made anything in a dehydrator before I had to do some searching online which led me to discover all sorts of great health benefits of pumpkin seeds.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Road Trip Goodies

Last week our family packed up and headed East to Kansas City for a family visit.  It was a great trip - always good to go back "home" for a bit.  The only downside is the loooooooong car ride!  It's about 9 hours with a 2 and 4 year old and the temptation to stop and eat, eat, eat, eat....  You know the drill.  Bored to tears with nothing to do but pop something in your mouth.  

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Savory Stuffed Peppers

This is a dish I put off making for a while. When I was young my great grandmother, whom I called “Nanny” with much adoration, used to make stuffed peppers. I distinctly remember hating them. I was a no peppers-no rice-no anything green, kind of child. Like my dad. The dish that the rest of my family adored went against all of my taste buds at the time. It wasn't until only recently (as in the last 6 months) that I even began eating rice. And green peppers? I've been afraid to try them. The smell alone brought back memories of slyly pushing my cooked green peppers into a napkin.

That all changed last week. I figured with all of my eating habit changes it was time to give it a go. I don’t know my Nanny’s recipe so I searched the next best thing in this day and age, Pinterest. I found THIS tasty recipe but I have to admit, I made several changes.


4 large green peppers (or yellow, orange, or red if you choose – I used some of each)
1 lb good quality ground beef
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 onion diced, red or white – I used red
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz cheese chunked (or 2 cups shredded) for the filling and to top with (I used mozzarella and provolone because that’s what I had on hand)
3 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil the bottom of an oven safe dish with olive oil.

1) Cut the tops off of your peppers. Trim the bottoms so they stand upright without making large holes in the pepper if possible. Place in dish. Discard the seeds and stem but save all usable pieces.

2) Chop up the pepper bits you just cut off. In a skillet, heat the olive oil and add the onion, garlic, and peppers to the pan. Sauté for about 5 minutes or so until the onion is translucent.

3) Place the sautéed veggies in a bowl and use the skillet to brown the ground beef. Once browned, return the veggies to the skillet.

4) Add the brown rice, 4 oz (or 1 cup shredded) cheese chunks, and salt and pepper. Mix well.

5) Stuff your raw peppers, pressing the filling down as you go. It should be just enough for all 4 peppers but if you have smaller peppers than I used, you may have extra. You can cook the extra in a ramekin.

6) Bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove peppers and top with a generous amount of cheese. I used 1oz pre-sliced fresh mozzarella and it turned out sooooooo good! Bake for another 10 minutes or so until the cheese is thoroughly melted. You can even broil for a few minutes to give it some crispier brown spots on top.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Myths I Used To Believe: Diet Coke is a Good Choice For Dieters

Just over ten months ago my husband and I made a decision to give up soda. Permanently. It was a New's Year resolution that actually stuck. I have tried to give up pop before and have successfully done so during my pregnancies but I always went back to my tried and true Diet Coke. I can honestly say that I have kicked the habit. Finally! I can count on one hand the number of times I've had a sip of Diet Coke in those months.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Oven "Sun-dried" Tomatoes

Tomato season is over for us here in Colorado but who can resist sun dried tomatoes on a nice salad, in pasta, or on top of pizza?  I LOVE to through these gems in recipes.  They can be quite pricey at natural/health stores but they are surprisingly easy to make at home.  If you have any tomatoes left from the garden, here is a great use for them.  If not, buy a few at the grocery store and make up a batch.

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Steamy Post

Now that I'm in my 30's I have finally have figured out that steam rooms are simply awesome!  A few months ago I was fortunate to have my best friend come and stay with us and for her 30th birthday we celebrated by a visit to the spa.  After our lovely massage we were escorted to a steam room to relax.  As we sat in towels sipping on our glass of ice water we both commented on how "mature" we felt in that moment!  As if steam rooms and turning 30 is a normal right of passage!  I'm nearing 31 now and I wish I had discovered steam rooms earlier.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Parmesan Roasted Veggies

My favorite way to make vegetables is probably roasting them.  It doesn't matter which vegetable - they all taste great roasted with herbs and some olive oil.  And it is a very fool proof method.  You can pretty much put in whatever you want! I used to make a dish for family gatherings that got requested quite frequently.  It was Parmesan roasted potatoes and while there isn't much to it, it is incredibly tasty.  You can alter the recipe for any kind of veggies you have on hand.  I have tried a number of combinations.  Some of our favorites are potatoes, red onion, and green beans; peppers, potatoes, and carrots; or broccoli (yes I said broccoli!) peppers, onions, and carrots. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

10 Ways to Sooth Muscles Naturally

I'm just coming off of a seriously intense couple of weeks with
Zumba Fitness.  Picking up lots of classes for the fall season and presenting at the OMG Fitness Concert has made my tired muscles very sore.  Maybe you've got some tired muscles too.  You don't have to be doing anything crazy to get sore muscles.  Maybe you picked something up wrong or spent 12 hours on your feet at work, or lugged a kid on one hip for far too long.  

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Non-Mayo Chicken Salad

Hello my wonderful readers!  I hope you haven't left me!  After three and a half long weeks without my computer I finally have it back and am ready to get this blog rolling again with new recipes, nutrition and fitness tips, DIY ideas, and inspiration.

First up - some recipes I've worked on over the last few weeks.  I think I'll start with Chicken Salad.  I have always enjoyed this refreshing salad that can be used to top crackers, bread, pita, veggies, or even just on a spoon!  

Monday, August 26, 2013

Computer Woes

One of the troubles of having a blog is what to do when your computer breaks?? Such is my situation currently. Pretty sure I have lost all my pics and documents that haven't been backed up yet. Luckily only since June. The good news is I'm under warranty so it is not costing me money.

What does this have to do with my blog? Well I may be slow to post for a few weeks unless I make it out to a library. Its pretty labor intensive to post from my phone. Don't go anywhere! I promise to have some awesome reads when my computer returns!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Zumba Ministry

Alright friends, family, blog followers and readers.... The time has finally come that I get to teach a faith based Zumba class!

Wait. A what?

Yes. You read correctly. This is a Christian based Zumba class unlike any Zumba class you have probably taken before. I know you're chuckling to yourself right now picturing a bunch of crazies raising their hands to Jesus and prancing around to "Jesus Loves Me." That's NOT what this class is. Not that either of those things are wrong mind you, just not in a ZUMBA class!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Myths I Used To Believe: Splenda is Better Than Sugar

OK, here I go.  I have truthfully been putting off this research because I knew it would lead me to look into sugar in general and ultimately convict me to severely reduce our family's intake.  And quite frankly, I LOVE sugar!  Hello my name is Kristin and I'm addicted to sweets.  I'm not unlike most people in this aspect.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Slow Cooker Beef and Gravy

More myths to come.  But first, a yummy recipe to share!

I don't know about you, but I LOVE slow cooker meals.  This one was a hit with my little ones which makes it a keeper!  

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Myths I Used To Believe: Fat is Bad

Hopefully over the next few weeks I am going to reveal some things that I used to believe to be true but have now changed my way of thinking thanks to a little bit of research and due diligence.  I am calling this mini series of blog posts, "Myths I Used To Believe." 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Breakfast Zucchini Muffins (AKA Cinnamon Muffins)

I wish I could say that we have oodles of zucchini growing in our garden but we don't.  I think we have animals that carry away the new buds before they have a chance to grow.  So far we have only harvested two.  They were two very tasty (and large) zucchinis but that is all we have gotten.  The good news is zucchini is very cheap right now!  I had started looking up all kinds of recipes in anticipation of a great crop.  There's no way I'm letting one little small detail get in the way of trying out new stuff.  I'll just go to my favorite store, Sprouts, and call it good.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Refresh, Renew, and Reuse: 5 ways to use your ENTIRE Lemon

What do you do when life gives you lemons?  USE THEM!!!  All of them.  Let no part go to waste!  There are TONS of ways to use lemons up.  THIS ARTICLE has 45 amazing ways you could use those lemons.  I was quite surprised by some of them!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Beautiful Things

This past weekend my family and I went on a camping trip to the Great Sand Dunes National Park.  You can read all about our trip and see some pretty amazing pictures on my family blog, The Farnsworth Chronicles.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

20 Ways I Use Vinegar

There are hundreds of ways to use vinegar.  You might have seen articles floating around Pinterest about all of these fabulous uses.  Since moving away from using toxins and chemicals in our house, I have found vinegar to be a staple. We go through gallons of this stuff.  Literally.  I buy a gallon almost every time I go grocery shopping.  

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Farmers Market Meals

This post has been sitting my queue for a while.  I've just has so many other things to blog about so I never quite got it finished until now.  A few weeks back - or maybe more like a few months back - we decided to head to the farmers market in Downtown Golden.  I haven't been to a farmers market in years and given our new found love of veggies we decided it was time to check it out.  I guess I had visions of super cheap, delicious looking veggies at booth after booth.  

Monday, July 22, 2013

Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate

What could be better on a hot summer day (especially with no air conditioner) than a tall glass of strawberry lemonade? The last time I went to the grocery store to buy this sugary goodness I picked up a can of Country Time because on the label is said it big bold letters, "No Artificial Sweeteners of Flavors."  I should have known better.  It's about as processed as you can get but I was in a hurry and it was for my 4 year old's birthday party.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Commercial Break Workouts

We haven't had cable in our house for years now.  Hulu Plus and Netflix have long since replaced it and we've never looked back.  That is not to say we don't watch TV.  On the contrary - we watch PLENTY.  Maybe too much sometimes!  Now, Netflix doesn't have commercials but Hulu has these perfect little (sometimes annoying... OK highly annoying) one to three minute commercial breaks.  I've discovered this is the perfect time to get some strength building in. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Make No Sew Reusable Swiffer Pads

This tutorial is how to make reusable Swiffer Pads.  I would love to own a sewing machine someday but as of now I do not have one.  So I went in search of way I could make these without actually sewing.  I found THIS site with a great tutorial on how to sew some if you would rather do it that way.  And I threw in my own creativity with a much cheaper means of sticking it your Swiffer.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Swiffer Solution

I ran out of Swiffer solution a long time ago.  I'm embarrassed to admit just how long it has been since I've actually mopped in our kitchen or bathrooms.  Yikes!  We have a traditional mop and bucket but it gets stinky quickly and quite frankly it's just a hassle right?  I mean filling the bucket and wringing out the mop.  Who wants to do that?!  Ha!  We bought a Swiffer years ago to avoid this cumbersome process.  It was nice to spray and push.  But then you had the nasty pads that just get thrown away and the super expensive refills to buy once you run out of the solution.  And they are smart too.  The refills are not made to be refilled at home.  They want you to keep coming back for more.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Homemade Dish Soap and Dishwasher Tabs

DIY and save money!
In my house, if the kitchen is clean than I am much less likely to be stressed out.  I love to cook and bake and since we don't use many paper products anymore (napkins, paper towels, paper plates, etc.) the dishes tend to pile up.  Fast.  I run the dishwasher twice a day usually and still have to hand wash some things.  So as you may have guessed we go through dish soap and dishwasher detergent pretty quickly.  

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Homemade Natural Pain Relieving Cream (aka "Icy Hot")

Teaching Zumba and Aqua Zumba six or seven times a week, you would think I would get sore muscles from that.  Nope.  This week I happened to get horrible neck and shoulder pain from sleeping funny.  Have you ever done that?  My guess is yes.  So what do you do when you strain a muscle or wake up with a painful ache?  I know what is my first response.  Ibuprofen and Icy Hot!  While I'm not quite sure how to give up the Ibuprofen, when I realized I was out of Icy Hot, I figured I could learn to make my own. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Fruit Icy's (Healthy Bribery)

I'm not above bribing my kids for things.  Bribes, rewards, prizes, treats - whatever you want to call it.  Sometimes a good treat is the best way to get something done.  One of the things that drives me nuts is when it's time to go.  Time to leave the pool.  Time to leave the playground.  The splash pad.  The dirt pile.  The backyard.  You name it!  Dragging them to car is the worst.  You try reasoning with a 2 and 4 year old!

Enter bribery.

Candy? Too much sugar. Toys? Too expensive. Snacks? Doesn't always work.  The trick is finding something that they both really like.  How about Popsicles?  My kids live for popsicles in the summertime.  Of course they are a very hard item to pack.  I came up with a way to bring those tasty frozen treats with us on fun outings.  I use them as a way to haul them back to the car.  We call them "icy's" and they are perfect for shorter trips (about 2 hours is the max).  Bonus:  they are mess free!! Not to mention healthy.

On the Go Fruit Icy's

1 cup Frozen (or fresh) fruit of your choice.  I like to buy the large bag of frozen mixed fruit from Sam's club
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp simple syrup *optional*

Blend ingredients together.  Pour into a refillable pouch.  We use Squeeze em's and I really love them.  The top pops up so you can easily fill it (and clean it) and then it has a small spout at the top for the kids to suck on.  I use ours for applesauce and yogurt and now for our summertime fruit icy's.  Store in the freezer until fully frozen.

To use:  Pack them in a small lunch box and keep in your car for up to 2 hours.  They will slowly get a little mushy and make the perfect fruit icy!  They also make great lunch bag coolers.  Pack it along side the kids lunch to keep everything nice and cool and then enjoy them as dessert.

I made extra for Popsicle too to eat at home!

In addition to the park and pool, I use them when I teach Zumba sometimes - just leave them in the car and then the kids have something to look forward to after mommy gets done teaching class.  We've taken them to church to enjoy on the way home too.  They are so easy to make!  The kids enjoy it and I love that they are healthy.  I've made strawberry, pineapple, and peach flavors.  And they're not just for kids!  John and I have enjoyed them too!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Cool Natural Hair Trick

While experimenting different ways to use baking soda, I discovered a handy trick for my hair.  Since it's not healthy to shampoo your hair everyday sometimes I deal with greasy hair.  OK, I'll level with you, maybe sometimes I just don't wash my hair for a few days out of shear laziness.  Just being honest here!

In the past I have turned to baby powder to soak up some of the oily-ness if I had to go someplace public and didn't have time to shower.  In fact, I would keep a small container of it in my car or in my gym bag.  I was getting my hair cut the other day and while I waited my turn I picked up Cosmo Magazine.  Not a read I normally go for but the cover intrigued me.  While flipping pages I read this article about what to keep in your desk drawer at work for when you stay out all night and need to freshen up the next day.  Obviously not my world, but one of the tricks was an aerosol can of "dry" shampoo.  I can only imagine what chemicals may be hiding in that little can.  Why not use this trick instead?

Baking soda.  That's it.

I had some seriously oily hair the other night.  Before showering I thought I'd give this trick a try.  Simply rub some baking soda into your scalp until the white disappears.  I did not brush it out, just fluffed a bit with my fingers.  So simple.  Here are the results.

Not bad for a quick fix!  I think I'll keep some of  this in my car and gym bag from now on!