The Hope Chain: RECLAIMING ADVENT with FREE PRINTABLES!

 

NewBloggerCollageBW Yesterday marked the official start of  Advent – the countdown to Christmas, the day we will celebrate the arrival of our Savior, Jesus Christ: our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

I admit that many years I’ve spent this season wrapped up in the ‘stuff’ of the holiday. The busyness. The stress. The shopping. The things. (Don’t you get exhausted just thinking about it?)

This year, however, a group of sweet gals and I have joined together to go against the grain and RECLAIM ADVENT.

As my beautiful friend, Krista Gilbert, author of Reclaiming Home, says, “Traditions matter, no matter the age. They provide a strong anchor of family identity and also make the season special. They offer a chance for us to break up the monotony of everyday life and infuse fun, connection, and meaning into Christmas.”

Amen.

With fostering tradition and building memories in mind, the 8 of us created the THE HOPE CHAIN – an old-school link chain made up of daily activities that will help us build fun, connection and faith in 15 minutes or less.

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Here’s the scoop:

The Hope Chain

What it is: An Advent chain with one activity for each day of December leading up to Christmas that promotes fun, connection, and faith.

How to use it: Print + cut the activities into strips. Form strips into a chain in order (they are numbered). Each day (carefully) tear off the bottom chain as a family and do the activity listed when you have a 15 min. window. Start on Dec 1st for 25 Days of Advent, ending on Christmas day.

You will need: Printer, Paper, Stapler / Tape

Hashtag: We’d love for you to hashtag your family doing the advent activities throughout the season. Use the hashtag #thehopechain

Because these bloggers are so much fun, each one has a different design of The Hope Chain. You can choose the one that fits your home décor and colors best!

Here’s my styled Hope Chain:

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Download it here.

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Take your pick and HAVE FUN celebrating
this most wonderful time of the year!

**All links will open in a new tab. Pick the best to match your decor.**
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Krista Gilbert
kristagilbert.com

Alexandra Kuykendall
alexandrakuykendall.com

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Tammy Strait
graceuncommon.com

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Allison Hendrix
thehouseofhendrix.com

JI_BlogPost

Jamie Ivey
jamieivey.com

EJ_BlogPost

Elisha Joyce
rebelgrain.com

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Jessica Wolstenholm
graceformoms.com

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Positive Message Tees w/a Purpose
asyouwishdesignjewelry.com

I hope you’ll join me – and us! I’ll be looking for your on Instagram – so connect with me @rebelgrain and share how The Hope Chain is brining FUN, CONNECTION and FAITH into your Advent season.

Much love to you… and looking forward to watching this journey unfold :)

AM Northwest: Fall Comfort “Must Haves”

I’ve missed you.

Our move is finally done. We are in, boxes are unpacked, pictures are hung… and the smell of quinoa cooking in my rice cooker fills this new house – and it’s a smell that takes this house from just a ‘house’ to our home.

We are home.

Being settled at home means I can now get back to my loves: my love of cooking, my love of writing, my love of connecting with you and sharing this adventure we call life. And what better why to kick off the return to my loves then with this: a little spot on AM Northwest!

Yep, this morning I had the pleasure of talking about my ‘must haves’ from one of my favorite stores in the world: Cost Plus World Market. (I am so humbled to be called a ‘lifestyle expert’, but if that title means I get to tell you about what warms my spirit and my home, so be it!) See, being from Guam where the seasons never changed and I never, in a million years, would have thought about lighting a candle for anything more than light during a power outage, Fall is HUGE to me. It means cozy, crackling fires and vibrant colors, hot chocolate and spicy teas. It means entertaining and guests, long conversations and lots of laughs. It means sweaters and fuzzy slippers and wrapping up in a blanket to read a book. And, more than anything, it means it’s time to PRACTICE HOSPITALITY… the art of having people into our home and making them feel loved on, welcomed, and appreciated.

(And isn’t that what we all hope for? To be welcomed and appreciated?)

So, here’s the segment; and, I hope you are inspired to practice hospitality and make your home the best darn hot-chocolate house on the block. (Don’t forget the homemade whipped cream, too!)

http://www.katu.com/amnw/segments/Fall-Harvest-Must-Haves-227429451.html

By the way, right after the segment aired I received a Facebook post from a good friend saying, “I need the list!” Well, no worries – I’ve got it all beautifully logged on Pintrest for you.  As for the Droste cocoa, it’s not on the World Market website for some reason, but it is in the stores. So – go grab it!! Seriously, you’ll never drink grocery store hot chocolate again.

Thanks for being with me.

Finding Courage to Release the “Stuff”

“You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Turn and set your journey…”

Deuteronomy 1:6,7

Something you might not know about me is that I spent a season of my life ‘flipping’ houses.

My favorite ones were the total disasters… the ones others turned their noses up on – the ones it was hard to see as anything but a wreck of bones.

It was those houses – those that spent years being unloved, and unappreciated, and mistreated – those were the ones that drew me in with their longing to be revived and brought back to life.

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It was sooo rewarding to see something transformed.

Most of the time, the ‘turn’ was easy. We usually took possession of houses with a few things left lying around; we expected to pull out carpet and cabinets and bathroom fixtures. No problems.

Then, on the very last house I flipped before my season ended, we were left with mountains of debris that needed removal.

Mountains.

Hundreds upon hundreds of pounds of stuff needing disposal.

Piles and piles and piles of things the prior owner had hoarded over 40 years was ours to deal with. The rooms were packed. The kitchen cabinets were overflowing with food and dishes and junk. The basement hadn’t been touched and still had trails between stacks of boxes. And, the yard we thought had rolling hills? It was mounds and mounds of clothing that had been bagged, tarped, and grown over by years and years of weeds.

At first we thought we should sift through it all. I mean, what if there were ‘treasures’ hidden somewhere, right? So, we started going box by box, pile by pile. Day after day after day.

Soon we were hostages. The stuff – the years of things hoarded and held on to and ‘cherished’ – was consuming our every thought and just managing the stuff was starting to consume our budget. Our mission was always to get in, clean out, fix up, and move on, yet we found this particular house pulling us farther and farther away from our mission and deeper and deeper into a pit.

To say we were overwhelmed by the stuff is an understatement. We were confused, scattered, distracted, heavy-hearted. We didn’t want the stuff, but we felt we should deal with the stuff.

(Deal with the stuff. I mean, that’s what we’re supposed to learn in life, right? To just deal with it?)

Thank God, however, that one day my man and I looked at each other in our filthy clothes and with filthy hands after we had gone through the umpteenth box of nothing but trash and we did it: we said ENOUGH.

It was a miraculous moment of clarity. We left that day covered in dust from our burden and said to our guys, ‘Not one more minute can be spent ‘sorting through’ the stuff. Tomorrow morning push it out the door, into the dumpster, and get it out of the house.”

Enough was enough.

We needed to cut the reigns. We needed to get out of the pit of complaining the stuff had brought into our lives. No second guessing. No talking about it. No discussions of what-if’s or what-could-bes. We simply opened our eyes and reminded ourselves of our goals… and then made the (hard) decision to rearrange circumstances accordingly.

I’m sharing this story because, while I’m not flipping houses these days, we are ‘flipping’ our life.

We are moving.

Moving homes… moving schools… moving communities… all at once.

Why? Because we’ve found ourselves in a life like that house I just described to you – we started with one goal only to find ourselves way off track by ‘stuff’. The ‘stuff’ of busy-ness. The ‘stuff’ of driving here, and driving there, and of schedules, and ‘must-dos’, and ‘important’ things that, when it gets right down to it, are important… but not so important that they should have the power to distract us from the heart of our goal.

And what is the heart of our goal?

Family. Love. Closeness. Joy. Appreciation. Character. Play. Childhood. Laughter. Abundance that comes with simplicity. SIMPLICITY.

These are the things we say are important… but because of the ‘stuff’ of how our life is currently structured, they’ve been compromised.

Our family has been stretched and scattered and separated and go-go-go because we’ve been telling ourselves for years: we just have to deal with it.

But enough is enough… and our hearts are telling us: rein it in.

Downsize.

Simplify.

Stop driving.

Stop striving.

Turn, take your journey, and let God work.

It leaves me a little breathless to think of what the next two months will bring as we pack up, move, get the kids into new schools, and start living differently. It’s taken us years to find the courage to release this ‘stuff’… but we are filled with HOPE as we take the next steps and pray for clarity, wisdom, and protection as we walk into unknown territory.

And, you know what else? In spite of the ‘crazy’ this may look like, we are fixing our eyes and ears on the One who says: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Do not fear.

I am with you.

I will strengthen you.

I will help you.

{deep breath. exhale.}

Thank you, Father… here we go.

 

Fleeing the Dark Side With A Smoothie In Hand

If you’re with me on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, then over the last week or so saw photos of a spattering of our adventure highlights through Montana and Idaho:

  • A drive through Spokane, Washington where spots we frequented in college had me feeling nostalgic;
  • A visit to my brother-in-laws art studio;
  • The Montana Folk Festival (which we didn’t spend nearly enough time at);
  • Gold panning (where we worked really hard for specks of gold in one of the most beautiful, secluded spots I could have imagined);
  • Breakfast at Butte’s Hummingbird Cafe where we took over the outdoor patio; and,
  • Dinner at THE BEST place we ate the entire vacation: Casagranda’s. (I must add: if you are ever in Butte, DO NOT MISS THIS PLACE. They serve happy cows, and even consider kids real people who eat real food, which was evidenced by their kids menu that offered steak and potatoes in a kid-sized portion, and even a chicken breast with vegetables!)

We ended our adventures with two days totally unplugged in a remote river-front cabin in Idaho. It was idyllic – a real throwback to days before television and cell phones. The kids did ‘kid’ things, like poke at the fire, make smores, whittle, throw ninja stars against trees, read magazines, fly along the zip line, and learn to skip rocks. I woke up early each day and, and was rewarded with a glimpse of a moose tromping up the river about twenty yards from me as I sipped my hot, rich coffee.

In spite of the great adventure and the joys of our vacation, unfortunately… there was a dark side.

A dark dark side… a side we’ve since escaped, but we are still recovering from.

You ready?

The dark side of fake food.

Fast food. Gas station snacks. Grocery store packages. Ready-to-eat ‘meals’. Crackers. Chips. Hotel continental breakfasts with muffins, and little boxes of cereal, and bagels, and toast, and flavored-yogurts-so-full-of-sugar-we-might-as-well-had-a-candybar.

UGH.

We tried to keep it together. We made stops at grocery stores for fresh fruits and easy to eat veggies. We ordered eggs off the hotel menu (only to have the kids say the scrambled eggs were hard and didn’t taste like eggs). We tried to stop at the ‘good’ fast food places, and we drank lots and lots and LOTS of water.

None of it mattered, though. The ‘ease’ of the processed food and necessity of eating out and depending on others to ‘nourish’ us took us so far down that a peach or apple here or there couldn’t save us… and, by the end, we were hurting.

Battle worn. Sickly. Bloated and lethargic and flat-out gross.

I longed for my kitchen… longed for quinoa, raw nuts, fragrant herbs, dark leafy local greens, and berries off our Oregon bushes. Even my kids we begging when we were just a few hours out from home: “Mom, when we walk in the door can you cut me up some fruit and make me a smoothie?”

Oh, how I love them… and, you bet I obliged.

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Fresh. Clean. Green. Delicious.

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We fled the dark side with a smoothie in hand… and it was a glorious return to freshness.

If you’re not in the habit of doing smoothies at home, can I just tell you: you are missing out.

And, can I just encourage you: get to making them.

Here’s our favorite basic (that make with our Magic Bullet):

  • ice
  • frozen fruit (you can use fresh fruit, but using frozen fruit adds to the iciness)
  • sliced banana (gives creaminess)
  • raw spinach
  • water
  • ground flax
  • protein powder (the type bodybuilder’s use – we buy ours at Costco)

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That’s it! Throw it all in a blender and blend til smooth.

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Here’s a couple of tips:

1) Don’t overdo the ice when you’re using frozen fruit because it will end up too thick. Start with just a couple cubes of ice – you can always add more if you need to.

2) You don’t need juice for flavor. Juice you’ve juiced yourself is exceptional; juice we buy at the store is not. Don’t bother with it when you’re making smoothies – let the real fruit be your sweetener.

3) Proportions? I’d say about 1/2 cup frozen fruit, a small handful of raw spinach, 2 TSBP flax, 2 TBSP protein powder, 2 ice cubs, 1/2 diced banana and just enough water to allow it to blend.

Let me know if you make it… or, better yet: let me know what your favorite smoothie recipe is!

Cheers!

DSC07513(Now off I go to whip up some quinoa… I have a long way to go to feeling like myself again.)

The Sunday Catch Up: Chicken No-Noodle Soup

On Sunday evenings I love being home. Technology goes off, kids play, bags get packed for school, and we ‘catch up’.

Catch up on laughs with friends and family that live far away.
Catch up on reading minutes that need to be put on the reading logs that are due on Monday.
Catch up on laundry, on sports, on down-time in front of the fire.
Catch up on, well, just being.
Being still… being quiet… being safe within our four walls.

What do I like to cook on a leisurely Sunday evening, you wonder?

Chicken No-Noodle Soup: a wonderful homemade chicken broth soup I always serve  over a hot, fresh serving of cooked quinoa.

Ohmygoodness.

Typically come Sunday, new groceries go in (Sunday is my big grocery day) and, therefore, leftovers need to come out. One of our most typical leftovers is a rotisserie that has been deboned.

Chicken bones,” you say?

Yep.

But, you know what? No matter how well I debone a rotisserie, there’s always enough meat left on the bones to make a great chicken soup.

Here’s what I did:

  1. I put approximately 6 cups of water in my soup pot and turned the heat to high.
  2. I pulled out the remains of the rotisserie chicken I used a couple nights ago for dinner.
  3. I used my fingers and removed all the fat/skin I could – then I put the bones in the pot and brought everything to a rapid boil. (I also always add whatever has settled in the bottom of the rotisserie tray – the natural ‘bullion’, if you will.)
  4. I turned the heat down to medium and let it boil uncovered for about 25 minutes.
  5. I used a slotted spoon to remove all the bones from the soup, and then picked off any remaining meat before discarding the bones. And, voilà! I had perfect, homemade chicken broth. (I ended up with over two cups of chicken meat from my bones!)
  6. With the bones removed, I threw in: (1) a diced onion; (2) three chopped carrots; (3) two stalks of chopped celery; (4) two garlic cloves diced and crushed; and, (5) a cup of frozen peas.
  7. Once the carrots were soft (about 10 minutes), I drizzled in about 1/4 cup of soy sauce, black pepper to taste, and then – then! – I served up the yummy, savory chicken soup over a piping hot serving of fresh cooked quinoa.

Simple, wasn’t it? Look how beautiful…

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And, oh, pure warmth for the tummy.

So, next time you buy a rotisserie, make sure you save the bones and make a simple broth… then, turn it into a ‘superbowl’ chicken no-noodle soup by using quinoa instead of noodles or rice. You’ll LOVE it, I promise. (Oh, and if  you like a little ‘kick’, top it off with some chili paste.)

Hope you had a wonderful weekend… hope YOU got some time to ‘catch up’.

Rebel on,
Elisha

AM Northwest: 5 Minute Quinoa Dinner Recipe

Okay, ladies… we arrive home from a long day at work, carpool, and/or sports for the kids and all we want to do is get a quick, nutritious meal on the table for our family. Right? Quick and easy cooking, so mamas relaxation comes faster?

Well, this past Monday I was back on AM Northwest with Dave making an amazing dinner ‘superbowl’ recipe that anyone can do in 5 minutes flat. As I mention in the segment, the hardest part about this recipe is simply being prepared. BUT, if you have the time to stop and grab a rotisserie for dinner, and you have the right things on hand, this is a ‘wower’… I promise. (My 12 year old asks me to pack it in her lunch… that should tell you something.)

Enjoy – and come back and tell me if you make it!

The ingredients and instructions follow the segment.

Rebel on,

Elisha

 

INGREDIENTS / GROCERY LIST:

  • Whole rotisserie chicken
  • Bag of organic spinach
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 1 bunch of green onions
  • 1 fresh jalapeno
  • 1 fresh lemon
  • 1 can of garbanzo beans
  • Pre-cooked quinoa from the fridge**

PREP WORK:

  • Debone the rotisserie using your fingers. Place all deboned meat on a plate. Place half the chicken on a cutting board and roughly chop with a large knife. (You can store the rest of the chicken in a plastic container.)
  • Drain and rinse 1 can of gabanzo beans.
  • Rinse and dice two green onions.
  • Rise and roughly chop one bunch of cilantro.
  • Rise and dice 1/2 a medium jalapeno.

MIX IT ALL TOGETHER:

  • Place 2 cups of pre-cooked quinoa in a large bowl.
  • Add all prepped ingredients and two handfuls of fresh, raw spinach.
  • Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon over the mixture and drizzle approximately 1/4 cup of olive oil, too.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Mix well until all ingredients are well coated and blended.
  • Top with diced jalapenos for anyone that can handle the spice.

That’s it!

 This ‘Super Bowl” can be eaten warm or cold… and it also stores nice for lunch the next day. (NOTE: If you store it overnight, be sure to squeeze a little extra fresh lemon on it before enjoying it as a leftover.)

Never cooked Quinoa before? No problem – check out my youtube tutorial

Enjoy!

 

5 Steps to Training Conscious Eaters

This week on twitter I was reminded of a this great quote:

We are walking billboards. If we are overweight and out of shape, lack vitality and enthusiasm, we are telling the world on our billboard, “I don’t care.” On the other hand, if you take care of your body by giving it proper nutrition and exercise, you will exude vitality and enthusiasm. Your sign will read, “I have pride, I have discipline, I take care of this God-given body, it’s my moral obligation.” -Jack Lallane, from his book Revitalize Your Life: Improve Your Looks, Your Health & Your Sex Life.

Growing up in a bodybuilding house this idea that we are “walking billboards” was always top of mind. Why? Because people are watching. Yes, whether we like it or not, others are watching our “example”. How we talk, how we dress, how we look, where we go, what we do – it all says something about what takes priority in our heart. We are a total package… therefore, if we are to have positive influence on others, we musn’t just be talking – we must be WALKING. Our life must say something – and, when it comes to whether we care about our health and fitness, what people see on the outside speaks louder than anything that ever comes out of our mouth.

Now that I’m a wife and mother, my “walking billboard” has grown to include my husband and my children. How they are “nourished” in my home is reflected in who they are – physically, emotionally, spiritually. I am no longer able to just think of health in terms of what I need and want… I must consider what “my tribe” needs and wants. Health and wellness is a family affair… and, if I want my family to be healthy and well, it all starts with me and the habits I cultivate in my home.

One “rebel” habit I am cultivating in my home, for example, is “conscious eating”. How? With these five basic steps:

First, regular meals at regular times of day. We have regular meals at regular times of the day: breakfast in the morning, lunch at mid-day, and dinner in the evening. No matter what our schedule, we do our best to all eat at the same time, and eat the same things; no one gets to “opt-out” of what’s be prepared for the family. And, when the kitchen “closes” after dinner, there is no more eating – period.

Second, proper portions. I serve my children on smaller plates/bowls than adults eat off of; smaller bodies need smaller portions. We rarely serve seconds – if there is still hunger after a meal, then we bring out fruit to top it off.

Third, listen to (and understand) your body. I once heard that the French word for “full” is actually translated, “I no longer have hunger”. This is what I want my kids to understand – that you don’t have to be “full” after a meal, you simply have to “no longer have hunger”.

Fourth, we have clear family definition for what a snack is. In between our regular meals, we have “snacks” – a nutrient dense nibble of whole food that will fend off hunger and provide the energy we need between meals.

Cookies and milk is not a snack.

A bowl of ice cream is not a snack.

A fruit snack is not a snack.

A sugar-laden granola bar (or protein bar or meal bar) is not a snack.

A bowl full of chips is not a snack.

None of these are a snack in our home because none of them fit our definition of snack: a nutrient dense nibble of whole food that will fend off hunger and provide us the energy we need between meals.

So, what is a snack?

Whole fruit is a snack. Nuts are a snack. A bowl of edemame or sugar snap peas is a snack. Crackers with peanut butter is a snack. SmartyBars are a snack. A slice of turkey or a piece of salami with cheese – that’s a snack.

Fifth, everything gets a plate. Nothing gets eaten unless it’s first put it on a plate (or in a bowl) – why? Because seeing how much you are serving yourself is key in understanding how much your body needs to “no longer have hunger”. I want my kids to see what they are consuming, not eat mindlessly.

I share all this because today is a great time for you to think about a couple of things: 1) are you happy with your “billboard”; and 2) if not, what is ONE step you can take to begin remaking your “billboard”?

Just one step… that’s what it takes to go in a new direction.

Rebel on, sister.

Elisha