So I thought it would be fun to do a little series on my blog from time to time called “My Favorite Things.” It might be things around my home, or featuring a theme, but a way to share with each other things that we love! That’s what women and friends love to do, right? Tell each other all about the latest best most wonderfullest things we’ve discovered! :)

I have quite a few friends that are such talented small business owners, and I want to show you their darling shops today! Many of them are on Etsy, and others are on another website of their own. But since I began My Faire Lady Designs a few years ago with some friends, I have absolutely loved to see and hear about other small businesses too.

For those of us that have chosen to take up a small business, I’ve noticed it’s often come through a hobby, a gifting we already have. It’s an overflow of something we already love to do, and out of that we love to bless other people. It’s our way of loving them, by giving them something we’ve created. It’s a personal gift, something that has taken our time to create, and time is precious. Sometimes it feels risky and vulnerable, because the things we create are so much a part of us, and what if the work isn’t valued? Sometimes we can view (wrongly) that we ourselves are rejected then. The artist is almost inseparable from his work.

But then we want to offer our gifts to other people too, so that the giving can be passed on. That’s what’s happened with many of the small businesses that I’ve known about and seen – and I love it! It’s exciting to support people that I know, men, women, some of them parents, some of them single, loving the Lord, their families, living fully, and “playing”/creating for their business.

So while I don’t buy exclusively from small business owners, I definitely have been more intentional to support them. It makes me happy to know that something I want or need is being purchased from someone that will truly benefit from it, rather than a huge corporation or website getting all the cash.

Christmas is over, I realize, but perhaps there are birthday gifts you are needing and might find just what you are looking for here. :)

So here are a few of my favorites! I’m happy to introduce you to my friends –  whether I’ve met them all in real life or whether some of them are yet to be met, they are all my friends. :)

Across Fields

Custom Watercolor Art by Grace

Watercolor Custom 11x14 Painting - Made to Order

Grace is a friend that I met several years ago at Ellerslie Training, and what a dear sweet woman she is! Her name fits her perfectly!

Her Etsy shop is so beautiful, the detail on her work amazing, and she can create almost any custom painting requested. If you are wanting a painting of meaning and sentimental value or to remember a precious time of your life, notecards, calendars, custom paintings, special projects, illustrations, invitations, personalized gifts – these are all things she can mentioned that she would love to do with! Grace would be a wonderful person to talk to.

100% of the proceeds from her etsy store (whether paintings, prints, notecards, etc) go toward paying for surgery/ongoing treatments that she needs for her health challenges.

Follow her on Facebook at Paintings by Grace Lyn

Handmade Soap

Heritage Soaps is a family owned business that makes quality, handmade soap.

Within the past months I’ve begun to care more about what goes into my body, and when Beth surprised me with a lovely gift of their soaps, I was delighted!! Now that I’ve used their handmade soap, I can’t imagine going back to the “normal” body wash again. I love her these, and the scents!

This is a little excerpt from their website:  All soaps are made by hand using only the finest ingredients. Our oils are chosen for their qualities to moisturize, for hardness and luxurious lather. Our soap is made by the cold process method, which retains all the naturally occurring glycerin of the saponification process. The oils we use are all food grade which ensures you are receiving the best quality ingredients that are available.  

The presentation was darling when it arrived, and there are all kinds of scents to choose from on the website. I love some of the names – Green Irish Tweed, Morning Glory and Honeysuckle, Christmas Cabin, and so many others.

 The Parcel Post Company

This Etsy shop is so fun – the inventory is constantly changing and you never know what fun new things will pop up next! From baby hats and bibs to clothespins to banners… Nicole from Today is my Favorite blog is sure to delight!

Hipster Baby Bib

Knotted Baby Beanie // Navy Scallop

Floral Clothespins

La Bella Prints

Inspirational and Decorative Prints

This darling Etsy shop has beautifully designed art prints in fun colors and designs! There is a wide variety of styles, from birth announcements to scripture to humor. Some of them are available for instant download which is really nice! And her prices are unbeatable.

Here are just a few that catch my eye:

Why Hello

Why Hello - Instant Download - Typography - Printable

Nursery Art

Custom Nursery Art - Birth Subway Print - Anchor Art Print - Instant Download - Printable

Quite possibly my favorite:

Earth Has No Sorrow That Heaven Can't Heal - Instant Download - Printable - Typography

 This one is pretty awesome too :)

INSTANT HUMAN Just Add Coffee - Kitchen Print - Instant Download - Printable - Typography

Earthy Elegance Design

I met Lauren several years ago, and what a beautiful woman! She is now a mother of a beautiful little baby girl, and has been studying midwifery. She has a wonderful eye for design and style and these little headbands are darling! Her shop changes inventory so keep checking by.

Pink Rosettes Baby Headband

Tangerine Rosettes Baby Headband

White Rosettes Baby Headband

Southern Grains

Quality hand-crafted wood products

Solid Cherry Circle Cutting Board | Serving Board

Solid Maple Cutting Board | Serving Board

I’ve followed Hope’s blog for a few years and love her inspiration – for cooking especially. Her beautiful pictures and recipes have often been the reason I chose a particular dish for our dinner.

But her talents extend beyond the kitchen! She and her husband have created these beautiful wooden cutting boards and serving utensils, and I think they are just so beautiful!

Pearls N Joy

Unique and meaningful hand-crafted jewelry

Hope as an Anchor

Hope as an Anchor Scripture Necklace

Give Me Jesus

Give me Jesus

Be Grateful

Be Grateful {circle}

These pieces of art as are beautiful as they are unique. I love the different variations of hymns, Scripture, and all that point to Jesus!

Wanda is the mother of six children through adoption, and has one of the biggest, most tender hearts I’ve known. Each month a percentage of her sales will go toward adoption expenses of a family working toward ONE less orphan and ONE more family.

December Caravan

December Caravan creates unique & beautiful scrapbooks, cards, artwork, memory pieces, and family treasures out of everyday materials to inspire joy and hope in every part of your life through handmade creations!

Vintage Map Quotes

Vintage Map Quote- Be Brave with your Life (Mini- Greens)

Take Note Journal

Mini Multi-Colored Altered Journal

Custom Storybook Bunting

Custom Storybook Bunting Order (6 foot)

Rebecca is a brave and beautiful soul who has undergone very difficult health challenges, including Lyme Disease and cancer at the same time. Every purchase will go to support Rebecca’s Medical Expenses.

Are they not all simply DARLING? I am so wowed by the talent of so many people, and this is only a sampling. I love how God gifts people with creativity, and how they share it with us.

There are more shops that I’d love to share, but perhaps that can be for a Part II. :)

Happy browsing!

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I know, I am on a break-neck speed with blogging recently, what can I say? But it’s still January February, so we can still talk about last year and things like that, right? :)

Each beginning of the new year I like to spend some time in reflection, in thinking back over the past year, the sweet things, the hard things, the things I learned, the ways God proved He was faithful, the things that surprised me.

It’s almost humorous how at the beginning of each year there are scores of new goals made (which are all good and well!) and yet, really, the true outcome of the year lies completely out of our control.

I’ve always been a Type A Personality. The kind that likes lists and plans and goals. A 5-year plan of my life? Yes please. I’ve been a more aggressive grab-life-by-the-horns kind of person for many years. And that has some good aspects to it. And some not so good.

Interestingly, the last few years God has had me not focus on goals as much as simply walking forward and living in the moment. For us Type A people, we’re so excited about the next goal that we have a hard time enjoying right NOW. There is always the adrenaline rush of a new something on the horizon. :) I wrote a little about BEing goals vs. DOing goals here some time ago.

I think there are times of our life when goals are healthy, very healthy. Without any vision for our life, we won’t go anywhere (paraphrased, from the book of Proverbs). And yet sometimes goals can become our identity, our focus, our source of pleasure instead of who we are as a child of God, and letting Him be that truest fulfillment. It can become about ME, rather than about God, and about how we can fulfill His will for His glory!

But that could be another whole subject in itself. I’ve been thinking the past few weeks about how God was so faithful in 2014. I’ve been reflecting on the different ways I saw Him at work in my life, and it’s been beautiful to see. So I thought I’d write a bit about those different ways…

the sweet things

 

When Family Visits 368 When Family Visits 371

A few things stand out about 2014 in sweetness levels… Friends visiting us, time with people we love here in this area. But one weekend in particular stands out: Mother’s Day weekend. Some good friends of ours and we were planning to spend the afternoon in beautiful Savannah, and my parents join us there later in the day.

The first surprise came when my sister Jana and her husband drove 3 hours and surprised not only me, but my parents for the day! There is nothing like a sister to make a wonderful day even better!

The second surprise came in Savannah, when my sister Ervina surprised both me and my sister Jana! There surprises upon surprises even for the ones who were surprising other people (follow me yet?!). And so we spent the afternoon together at Forsyth Park (legendary in Savannah, you simply MUST go one day). It was just a wonderful day!

The sweetest things in life are relationship, and probably also the most painful things in life are relationships. But this day was full of the sweet things, and I still love to remember it!

the beautiful things

 

The joy of being a little family, getting to do life together in our very own little group of hand-picked-by-God people. I love our extended families, but it has been so special to enjoy our own little people, to like us. The kids love to play games, and even little Hudson becomes so engrossed in Sequence Junior that we must cool tempers when a sibling wins. But it’s been a precious year of getting to know them more personally, taking time for one-on-one dates with our kids, doing fun family days together. And let’s be real; there are also super hard days of raising three little children, which makes five of us in desperate need of Jesus every day.

Pennsylvania in June 230

the hard things

The most painful thing we walked through in 2014 was the death of my little nephew, born to Kenny and Ervina, but who had entered Heaven before this world… We never got to know that sweet little boy, but we already loved him so much and it broke our hearts to say goodbye before we even said hello. It has been a difficult thing for our family to walk through this year, to see our sister and her husband lose their first child so unexpectedly, and for no known medical reason.

It is things like this that show us the reality of this world not being home. That remind us that we are longing for something, Someone, who can fill our deepest aching hearts, and turn the eyes of our heart toward eternity. The birth of a child, and the death of someone we love, brings eternity more near than any other time. With Little Kenny, it brought it so very near. There are more reminders than ever that we are longing for a place of no separation, of always being with those we love, of being in the presence of Jesus who is perfect peace and joy.

the ways God proved He was faithful

 

Walking through grief takes away some of the carefree-ness of life. Before someone walks through a tragedy or death there is a general feeling of “Everything will turn out okay!” And after going through a death, there is the harsh realization that “Everything will NOT be okay.” That this world wasn’t meant for everything to be okay. That’s a hard realization to come to, because we long for perfection, death to end in life, not the other way around. But it is an honest looking at life that makes us realize our longing for Heaven, for eternity, for the Place God is preparing for us. All the longings within us are meant to be fulfilled in eternity; not on earth. If they could be fulfilled on earth, there would be no need of Jesus, or of Heaven. While we still long for the carefree days and wish our stories didn’t include such grief and loss, I am also so grateful that this isn’t the end of our story; there will come a day when all will be well, when peace will flow with no imperfection, when joy will reign with not even a tinge of sadness or loss.

This year has been a time of remembering I am only a pilgrim on this earth, and that Heaven is Home. And for now, Jesus proves His faithfulness over and over again. Through the tears, through the sadness, through the joy that is returning. He is so faithful, so preciously faithful. Oh for grace to trust Him more!

 

a few things I learned

…That a family of five can survive a house remodel while living in the middle of it. Even if there is a 3-inch layer of dust through the entire house for the entire 3 months and it drives the OCD mom nuts some days.

…That being in the house alone – just our family – feels like a luxury after having construction workers in and out for weeks, er, months.

… That we could survive on a crazy little amount of sleep and work a crazy amount of hours.(My husband’s record week was 96 hours. In one week. Including his normal job and then attic remodel. Yes, he is super man. Yes, this was only one week, thank God.)

… That the end result is worth the months of hard work and labor. WE LOVE IT!!

a white attic bedroom

the things that surprised me.

…That God restored my health this year!! I feel like a completely different person than I did one year ago this time, and I am so incredibly grateful! I talked more about that in detail here and here.

… That I am now a runner, which surprises me more than anymore. I had been dealing with fatigue and exhaustion so much the past 5-6 years that I could hardly exercise at all, much less run any distance. This is part of what I wrote on Facebook on January 2, 2015:

“Yesterday I set a new fitness record for myself; I ran a distance I’ve never run before in my life! My tracker stopped working after 7 miles; but my calculations are a total distance of about 10 miles. Of running. And as I ran, I smiled, I was exhilarated, and I thanked Jesus for the completely different body I have from a year ago! Yes, my legs felt like a combination of rock and jello, and there was no one more surprised than me at what I had just done.

One year ago I had NO health or fitness goals. I was exhausted, all the time. I had very little strength, and could not even run 1/2 mile if I tried my hardest. I was reading yesterday in my journal from a year ago (the only place I really talked about my health because I didn’t want to be a whiner to people), and it was filled with things like, “I just can’t sleep enough…” “I’m always so exhausted…” “Is this what it feels like to be old…” “I’m so overwhelmed…”

I nearly cried for the person I was a year ago! Because one year later, I feel like a completely difference person. I not only feel better, I AM better, I’m healthy and strong. I may have days here and there that I’m tired, but that is not the story of my life anymore. I might have moments of being overwhelmed, but it is a foreign emotion to me now rather than a daily companion. One year later, I am on a wonderful journey to health. I am strong. I can exercise and run and feel energized afterward. I am not overwhelmed by the daily things of life, but can smile at the days ahead.

You may have seen my posts about Plexus here and there, and it’s not because I’m just trying to sell you something; it’s because they are products have been life-changing for me. If I had not been so helped by Plexus products, there is no way I could promote them. Now I talk about them because if someone else is looking for answers for their health, I want them to know that there is hope! They aren’t magic potions or overnight fixes – my health took years to decline so drastically, and it took months to recover. But in recovering, it is healing me from the inside out. I feel better than I have in years, and it’s for real.”

I am SO GRATEFUL for renewed health and strength!

Looking ahead

This year will be a year of much change for our little family. It is very bittersweet, but for the next few months I just want to enjoy each moment, each day, each relationship, without focusing too much on what could be overwhelming and stressful. Each day is a gift, and a choice to live in trust and rest in a Precious Savior.

Coming up in the next few weeks/months of blogging, I want to finish the before & afters of the Cottage! There are a few rooms that haven’t been documented and I want to be sure to do that. :) So stay tuned!

Happy Thursday, my friends!
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Merry Christmas, everyone!

We are so enjoying being finished with the attic remodel and actually being able to enjoy the finished product now! It’s been a very busy autumn, and the feeling of having it completed is wonderful. I’m looking forward to showing some more pictures of the finished attic, but for now, here are a few pictures of the Cottage at Christmastime.

The Christmas Tour of Homes was a little over a week ago, and so I snapped some pictures on Monday when it was all over – not having time before (we were crunching until THE very last minute to finish everything up).

It was interesting, because earlier this fall I wrote an article for this magazine about Christmas décor and about wanting to keep Christ in the center. The very same autumn we were asked to be part of a tour of homes in our community. And the words that I wrote were being tested, because I heard that sometimes interior designers are hired for the homes on the tour and that it can be a rather big deal.

My décor is very simple, and I only pull out a box or two of Christmas décor from the attic while the rest of it is natural live greenery. My first thought was to be intimidated, and scared! My house isn’t interior designer style – it’s full of second-hand treasures, and thrift-store finds, and handmade. It’s what we done because of the budget we live with, but truly, it’s what I LIKE. I like the eclectic mix, the treasure troves from different places, the uniqueness of the things coming from many different places.

And so we made the choice to just offer the simplicity that we have. Not to make it something we are not, not to try to impress a certain group of people, but just to do what we normally do and not to apologize for it.

Like I wrote in the article, people are so different and God made us all like that out of the beauty of creativity. And as people are different, so styles will be different, and there is not a right or a wrong style of décor. Each person will have something that they like, and it expresses who God made them to be, and brings glory to the Creator because of that. The hard thing to remember sometimes is that it’s okay to be different, to like different things, to have a different style, as long as it’s not a try-to-keep-up thing, or a comparison thing that makes us feel better or worse about ourselves. The style doesn’t matter nearly so much as the heart behind it; what is my motive,  the reason behind why I do I do?

All that to say, I had to check my motives during the house tour preparations. Different parts of our homes have been featured various places, but not a house tour before, so this was a new experience for us.

So, let’s just pretend you came for the tour, and are walking through the house.
Welcome, and please feel free to look around!

Please come in at the

front door…

 

front cottage entrance

plaid blanket for a cozy porch the front porch

  welcome to the cottage

hanging baskets with fresh pine

Step inside to the

Living Room…

 

quiet aftermath living room

living room

living room   Christmas Cottage l mantel with antlers and garland Christmas Cottage l JOY marquee mantel Christmas at the Cottage l JOY marquee DIY merry and bright living room bookshelf

The Dining Room

 

dining room centerpieces tiny trees for a centerpiece living room

dining room mantel

The Kitchen

 

a christmas cottage kitchen

  kitchen vignette

oversized fork and spoon little fir tree in the kitchen kitchen shelves greenery a tiny tree in the kitchen

The Hallway

the nativity

Hudson’s Bedroom

 

little boy

  little boy room

The Music Room/School Room

 

music room cozy corner music room desk corner
The Master Bedroom

master bedroom with wreath

master bedrorom vignette master bedroom master bed room vignette master bedroom decor

gold and polka dots

And then let’s go up into

the new attic!

 

the new stairway   christmas sled christmas sled and gifts

The Attic Bedroom

 

a white attic bedroom   attic bedroom greenery

silver and white attic bedroom bedside

The Office

  a peek into the attic office office christmas shelves office vignette   wood and brick

And that concludes the little Christmas tour at the Cottage!

I hope you all enjoy your Christmas Day, but even more than that, that you can truly worship and rejoice in the salvation that Christmas signifies. What an incredible gift! May the wonder of it never cease to amaze us!

This read by the Gospel Centered Mom is beautiful and inspiring in teaching our children the true meaning of Christmas.

Thank you for visiting this little corner of blogland and the encouragement you’ve been to me throughout this year!

A very happy Christmas to each and everyone!

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Jamberry Nails 129

 

Back in the beginning of November, I was asked if I’d like to try Jamberry Nails and then do a review on my blog!

I had heard of Jamberry Nails, vaguely, but really didn’t know much about them or what they were or how it all worked, and was excited about the chance to try them out!

Lynda is a Jamberry consultant, and so kindly offered to let me choose a set for me and a set for my girls, so I chose the French Tips for myself, and Sprinkles & Frosting for my girls. It was hard to decide! There are so many adorable styles! Over 100 different patterns, it makes a girl happy.

Because of our autumn I didn’t have a chance to try them out right away, but just recently the girls and I spent part of an afternoon applying our Jamberry Nails!

// getting started //

jamberry nails

The girls were all smiles (Zoe) and dimples (Olivia), and I was pretty excited myself. I mean, I LOVE having my nails done, but 1), I can’t get to the nail salon on a regular basis (once or twice a year is a treat for me). And 2), even the nails that are supposed to last for 2 weeks at the salon only last 1-2 days for me. I don’t think they take into consideration the DIY person, or the mom who makes food three times a day and washes dishes afterward. After reading rave reviews about Jamberry I was looking forward to seeing if they would be different!

applying Jamberry nails

Official Jamberry Nails Application Video

One set of the Jamberry Juniors was enough to do a full set of nails for both girls on their toes AND fingers, plus with enough left over to do another full set of fingernails and toes later on! That alone is less than half the price of a salon.

Jamberry Juniors Jamberry Junior  toes fun with Jamberry Juniors jamberry toes

It took just a bit to learn how to apply the nails, and it’s important to not touch the nails with your fingers or they won’t stick as well. But even with the first time and my imperfect application, the girls’ nails lasted around a week.

My beautiful French Tips (and they really are beautiful, I loved them!!) lasted a week as well, and I know they would have lasted longer if I had not been in the middle of a house remodel that included sanding and priming and painting and heavy usage of those nails. Normal nails wouldn’t have lasted a day under those circumstances! I was able to get two full sets of nails on my fingers and toes from one sheet of Jamberry, which is far cheaper than a salon, almost as cheap as nail polish, and lasts way longer!

So, our final Jamberry Review:
Zoe says, “I thought they were fun! They were pretty too.”
Olivia says, “I liked them. Are we going to do them today?”
I say, “I love how they look, I love how they feel, I’ll definitely be doing them again!”

A few of the Jamberry Juniors that are available…

 And just a few of the adult sizes and styles that you can purchase.
There are some adorable Christmas and winter styles right now…

 

If you’d like to get your very own Jamberry nails, Lynda is very helpful and gives great service! Her website is www.lyndawolfe.jamberrynails.net. There is a special of BUY THREE GET ONE FREE which sounds really great to me. :)

Thank you so much for the lovely nails, Lynda!

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white attic bedroom

The attic renovation is literally just minutes away from being completely finished!! It is so exciting, and both Husband and I are nearly in shock that everything is actually coming together. :) It has been a huge project, but now is the fun part – the “painting of the canvas” that we’ve created, making it into a home.

I don’t have time for a detailed post, but I’m just so excited I want to show a quick picture. ;)
Everything has come together so well; it has been so busy, but not really stressful. It’s been peaceful, even with the incredible work days, works night that have varied from 12pm-3am the past week to try to get things finished up, and final details. The little things I’ve been collecting fit exactly as I thought they would; only better. I’m so grateful for the hand of God even in things like an attic remodel!

So just for fun, here is a before picture of the bedroom:

bedroom #2

And an after picture.

  white attic bedroom

It is a magical room. I want to move in there.

More details will come later! Today is a fun one;  finishing up last minute things for the Christmas Tour of Homes that is happening tomorrow!

Have a lovely weekend!

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It’s not a secret that I am excited about a certain nutritional supplement because of the way my health has been so wonderfully changed during this year! I didn’t talk about my health much, but my husband and I knew something was physically wrong because of how emotionally overwhelmed I’d become over small things, and because of how exhausted I was all the time.

But seriously, this has been a game-changer for me. I went from being an exhausted mother of three, dealing with extreme fatigue and sugar issues, having terrible “brain fog” and thinking this must just be normal, to feeling wonderful and better than I have in 5-6 years. It has been incredible for me, and for my family! Because when the mom feels better, the whole family benefits. In huge ways! :) I talked more about why I tried it in this post. 

I’ve had a lot of people contact me and ask about it, and a question I’m often asked is,
“What actually IS Plexus?”

what is plexus

So I want to talk about what Plexus is, what these products are made of, and the science behind why it works. Today I’ll talk about the Slim (a.k.a. Pink Drink – and no, it’s not just for girls!). What got me excited about Plexus is not just that it is helping so many people, but WHY. I like to know the why behind something, not just blindly believing and having no idea what is happening in my body.

In a nutshell

The Pink Drink is becoming wonderfully famous. I mean, what other supplement out there comes in a powdered drink form that tastes wonderful (my kids BEG for it), contains stevia for sweetener, is jam-packed with nutrition, increases energy, decreases the “munchies”? There is nothing else like it!

It is not a magic potion, an overnight-cure-all, or an instant-fix; it is a loaded supplement that enables your body to come to health, and that is not an overnight process. There is a reason for the 60-day money-back guarantee the company offers on all their products: because they believe in the products, and because health isn’t fixed overnight. In a culture of instant-everything, of medications that offer instant results (even if it’s just masking the real issues), Plexus is a totally different mindset; it is that of healing the body from the inside out, of healing root issues, not putting a band-aid on surface problem.

The Slim was originally created by two doctors who were wanting to help diabetics regulate their blood sugar naturally. Through keeping blood sugar at healthy levels, they found it also helps with healthy weight loss, and many other things. Blood sugar levels are connected to many other areas of health in the body.

The body naturally stores fat. The most common areas are the stomach, thighs and buttocks. These excess fat stores contain toxins that cause havoc with our immune system. Ultimately this can lead to heart disease, diabetes, loss of energy, depression and many other debilitating conditions.


Plexus Slim:

-There is no sugar, sucralose (just google how sucralose is made – scary), artificial sweeteners or substitutes.
– It is a powerhouse of nutrition and works for the cellular health of your body (healthy cells = healthy you)
– It includes trace minerals from plant-based ingredients as well as vitamins and amino acids.
– It contains no stimulants; all energy you feel is real and produced from your body.
– It contains no MSG, no gluten, and  is vegetarian and vegan safe.


The extended version…


[for those who want the details]

Well, let’s talk about what Plexus IS NOT first….
Plexus IS NOT a meal replacement or shake.
Plexus IS NOT a magic potion or miracle that will make you lose 50 pounds overnight with no effort.
Plexus IS NOT meant to replace a healthy diet or exercise.
Plexus IS a natural health supplement that is gluten free, with no artificial flavors or colors, sweetened with stevia for a zero glycemic index.
Plexus helps regulate blood sugars.

So, what are the ingredients, what are they made of, and what do they do for the body?
Let’s talk about that.
The ingredients are plant-based, and have some big names. These are scientific names(scary!) so we’ll break it down and talk about what they do and the science behind it (which I LOVE and find so fascinating!).

Chromium

(AMINO NICOTINATE GTF):

Chromium GTF is known as an essential trace element. It is used for blood sugar control for people diabetes, pre-diabetes, and high blood sugar due to steroids. It is also used for depression, lowering bad cholesterol, and raising good cholesterol; aids in weight loss, fat loss, and muscle gain; improves athletic performance and increases energy, and potentially helping to curb cravings for sweets and carbohydrates. Balancing blood sugar also leads to hormones reaching healthy levels as well.

Chlorogenic Acid

This is known to aid in lowering blood pressure; and it contains a very important antioxidant for our bodies. Chlorogenic Acid will help to slow the release of sugars (glucose) into the blood stream after you eat. This is very important in helping people lose weight. Typically when you eat a meal, all the glucose that is found in the meal goes into your blood stream and get carried to different organs. Once your body gets all the necessary blood sugars, it will store the rest as fat cells to be burned off later. The problem arises when most people eat a high sugar diet, which means you never truly burn off these fat cells that are being stored for “later.”

Citrin K

Citrin is aa standardized herbal extract from the rind of the fruit of the Garcinia cambogia plant. This reduces the conversion of carbohydrates into stored fat by inhibiting certain enzyme processes. You experience a curbed appetite, have fewer tendencies to “nibble,” and an increase in energy. It also helps your body by increasing serotonin levels. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in your brain that makes you feel good. Having low levels of serotonin may make you feel depressed or anxious.  By increasing serotonin levels, it improves mood and suppresses the drive to react to stressful situations with food.

Alpha Lipolic Acid

Alpha-lipoic acid (also known as lipoic acid, thioctic acid, or ALA) seems to help prevent certain kinds of cell damage in the body, and also restores vitamin levels such as vitamin E and vitamin C. There is also evidence that alpha-lipoic acid can improve the function and conduction of neurons in diabetes. Alpha-lipoic acid is used in the body to break down carbohydrates and to make energy for the other organs in the body.The antioxidant effects might also be helpful in certain liver diseases. Alpha Lipoic Acid is one of the good fatty acids produced in every one of our cells. One of its main functions is to help convert glucose (blood sugar) into energy. Besides taking ALA for its general benefits as an antioxidant, studies have shown that alpha lipoic acid can help with the following conditions:

High Blood Pressure 
Coronary Heart Disease 
High blood pressure and elevated cholesterol
Peripheral Neuropathy (caused by diabetes and other conditions, such as Lyme Disease, alcoholism, shingles, thyroid disease and kidney failure) 
-Diabetes (improving glucose metabolism and helping diabetics utilize insulin better)
Liver Disease
Metastatic Pancreatic Cancer (increasing long-term survival)
Impaired Brain Function (as a treatment for stroke and other brain disorders involving free radical damage, including Alzheimer’s disease)
Effects of Aging!!!!!! (improving blood flow and enhancing immune function, restoring levels of glutathione, a protective antioxidant and detoxification compound)
Degenerative Diseases (ALA is a strong anti-inflammatory agent)
Glaucoma and Cataracts

Polydextrose

A form of soluble fiber that can take the place of sugar in beverages.It is frequently used as an ingredient in low-carb, sugar-free, and diabetic cooking recipes. It is also used as a thickening agent. Polydextrose has shown healthful prebiotic benefits when tested in animals. It contains only 1 kcal per gram and, therefore, is able to help reduce calories.

Citric Acid

Citric acid is a weak organic acid. It is a natural preservative/conservative and is also used to add an acidic, or sour, taste to foods and soft drinks.

Beet Root Extract

Beet Root is used for coloring and is a potent and nutritious source of natural energy and vitality. It is a great way to purify and build healthy blood and normalize the pH balance in our bodies (which helps reduce the risk of cancer).

Stevia Extract

Stevia is derived from natural substances, unlike other sugar substitutes, such as Equal or Nutrisweet. Stevia extract is approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration as a dietary supplement and for use in food.

Lo Han Extract

Lo Han Kuo is the fruit of a plant cultivated in the mountains of southern China. Mogrosides, which are water extracted from the Lo Han fruit, offer a pleasant, sweet taste without elevating blood sugar.

And that is a detailed explanation of the Slim!
If you’d like more information, I’d love to tell you more. You can find me on Facebook, send me an email here, or ask a question in the comments.

If you’d like to try the Slim, you can order here: www.claritayoder.myplexusproducts.com. The 60-day money-back guarantee is awesome: you’ll either feel better, or get all your money back. It’s such a win!

drink it

Okay, so the giveaway! I am giving away a 7-day trial pack of the Slim!
To enter the giveaway, please
1. watch this short video from a southern belle, or this one, or if you want some humor, this one.
2. Leave a comment telling one thing you learned from the video

The winner will be announced next Monday, the 15th!

Because of the number of comments, I decided to give away TWO trial packs of Plexus Slim instead of one. The two winners are Sonya and Natalie! Congratulations, you two! I’ve contacted you personally, so look for an email in your inbox. :)

This giveaway is now closed.

Have a great beginning to your week!
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  Christmas at the Cottage l JOY marquee DIY

It’s the 2nd of December!
Is anyone else in disbelief that this is the last month of the year?! I still feel stuck back in October, and it seems impossible that it’s nearly Christmas!

However, next week is the Christmas Tour of Homes that we were asked to be part of, and the fluffy of activity around here shows the reality that this is actually NOT September at all. Things are moving right along with the attic remodel, but we are still finishing up the painting and needing to install floors. Don’t make me panic by being shocked, it’s just a little nuts. But there are some amazing things happening upstairs, and I can’t wait to show you! My husband is just a master at his trade, that’s all I’ll say. Oh, except I’ll add that he made sliding wooden barn doors out of reclaimed lumber for the closets and bedroom doors, and they are unreal awesome. UNREAL.

But, back to the marquee sign! As I pulled out the little bit of Christmas décor that I store, and brought in huge armloads of fresh greens, this JOY marquee sign came out again. And I fell in love all over!

I made this as a reminder to me that joy is not a feeling, or a circumstance. Joy is a deep reality that is true, even in the middle of sorrow and pain. I was mourning the loss of my friend Ruth, and Christmas just didn’t have the same happy, warm-fuzzy feeling. I made this to remind me that JOY is because of Jesus, and the deep reality of Heaven and eternity. And that this life is not the end of the story. Joy means more to me now than it ever has!

So last year when I showed the cottage at Christmas time, quite a few people asked how my husband and I made this marquee sign that we hung in our living room. So, a whole year later, here’s a little tutorial for those of you who would like to know how!

There are probably as many different ways to make a marquee as there are different DIY marquees. This is only one, and we went this route because it was the least expensive. Ha! And you could use the little Christmas tree lights, or different words, or anything you like! I combined several ideas I found online for this specific marquee.

SUPPLIES NEEDED:

– plywood cut to 2 X 3 feet size, plus extra to make 2-inch sides
– white paint
– Mod Podge Glue
– Gold Glitter
– Paint brush
– Stencil and pencil
– Patio lights (1 set of 24)

supplies needed

Okay, so I will say that I needed my husband for the beginning of this project. Because of how the lights and cords are in the back of this marquee, you need sides on the board or you will see all the hardware and jungle of cords from the side. You don’t want to see that, trust me! So he added the sides for me to form a small box-type of board, to hide all the things behind it.

So, here are the steps:

1. Cut board to size (we made it 2 X 3) and add sides.

2. Prime and paint white.

3. Sketch or stencil ‘JOY’ with light pencil marks, centering in the space. I made them very large, filling most of the board.

sketching the outline

4. Drill holes.
This is just a small hole (we made ours far too big; we learned as we went and didn’t make a perfect second marquee! :), enough to allow the base of the light bulb to go through. You want it to fit tightly so it holds the bulb snug. We bought a package of 25 patio lights, and marked 8 holes per letter. There was one bulb and socket left over that we didn’t use, and then had an extra light bulb if we needed it.

(We actually did step #5 before #4 and that was a bad idea. We had to touch-up paint, and it would have saved time and been better to do #4 first.)

 

holes for the bulbs

#5. Paint with gold paint, let dry, then paint with clear Mod Podge and sprinkle with gold glitter. Heavily sprinkle. And then behold the glitter bomb that goes off in your house! Be sure to shake off the excess OUTSIDE the house.

 Zoe LOVED being part of this process.

adding the glitter

JOY prep glitter!

  holes are drilled

#6. After the paint is dry, insert the patio lights! Take them apart first, then screw them together with the bulbs on the outside of the marquee, the sockets on the backside.

patio lights separate the bulbs

  bulbs in

The backside will look like this when you’re finished. Be sure to have the cord on the side closest to your receptacle. I still needed to use an extension cord because my outlet isn’t very close.

backside of the marquee

#7. Hang your beautiful masterpiece and enJOY!

Christmas Cottage l JOY marquee mantel

  Christmas Cottage l mantel with antlers and garland

  Christmas at the Cottage l JOY marquee DIY

 Have a wonderful first week of December

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