Category Archives: Gracious Homemaking

Unmasking the Mess: How to Invite Others into the Heart of Your Home

Unmasking the Mess: How to Invite Others into the Heart of Your Home | Faith and Composition

Dear sweet friend, you stopped by my house today, and I welcomed you in. There were a few piles of clean, need-to-be-folded laundry on the dining room table, a couch fort in the living room and none less than five baby dolls, a few balls, and a ride-along haphazardly abandoned in the hall.

A few years ago, I would have feigned a headache or pretended to be late for an urgent appointment instead of opening the door wide. Not so long ago, the mere thought of letting you right into the imperfection of my home—so common and normal in this stage of life—was a cause of anxiety. Because the pressure to be Pinterest-perfect was loud … the well-intentioned blogs, the best-face-forward Facebook updates, the polished mom-next-door.

So I’d vacuum every room, sweep the floor, set coffee on a tray, arrange homemade snacks for the kids, light a candle and spew a few short words at my children if they so much as misplaced a toy before you arrived.

I’d clean up for you, dear friend, because in a world of glossy magazines and styled Instagram images, it felt expected.

But even more than that expectation, I have to admit that I like preparing for your visits. I enjoy creating a space that shows I care, expressing tangible appreciation for your time and conversation. I like the arrangement of little details that communicate the fact that I care about your friendship. Details like flowers, candles, coffee, swept floors and picked-up rooms.

There’s nothing wrong with that; creating a space of beauty can be a gift you give someone. But here’s the thing … in polishing my home, I’d often hide my heart. Because it’s not easy to be honest about the reality of this life with littles when surface appearances betray any hardship.

Unmasking the Mess: How to Invite Others into the Heart of Your Home | Faith and Composition

Parenting is glorious, but its also hard, and in the midst of the little years, it can be pretty messy. That’s both the grit and the glory of it. And you know what, dear friend … I want to invite you into the heart of it all. Because I long for honesty, transparency and authenticity.

And I think you do too. 

Perfection puts on a mask. It hides hardships, and pushes struggles beneath the rug. It builds walls of isolation, and I’m not interested in building walls. I’m more interested in tearing them down.

I want to be honest and transparent as a mom; I long to be authentic as a friend. The mess of sticky fingers and toy-strewn floors is a reality in this season of life for an average week-day morning, and I don’t want that reality to hinder friendship. In fact, I’d like to think it will strengthen it. Because when I remove the mask of perfection in my home and my heart, it gives you the freedom to do the same. 

Unmasking the Mess: How to Invite Others into the Heart of Your Home | Faith and Composition

The great C. S. Lewis said: “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”

So if you stop by on any given weekday, I’m going to throw caution to the wind, open the door wide and welcome you in with a little dose of honesty and a big heaping of warmth. You’ll likely find handprints on glass, Legos littering the floor, crayons dropped haphazardly and tiny fingers needing help all.the.time. But I’m pulling the curtain back on perfection. So come in, take off your mask and kick up your feet. You may have to push aside a couch fort, but you’re welcome as you are, right here in this beautiful mess of parenthood. And who knows … as you take a look around, you might just find that you laugh and say, “You too? I thought I was the only one.”

You still have until midnight to enter the quilt giveaway with Phoebe Flock. Click here for all the details!

 

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Like what you see here? Then you’ll love my first-ever children’s book, Bruce the Brave. Now available on Amazon

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A Quilt GIVEAWAY with Phoebe Flock!

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A year and a half ago, I started this little blog as a way to merge faith and motherhood with my creative passions for the written word and photography. I followed a longing in my heart and the echo of a still, small voice, and the result has been an immense blessing. But perhaps the sweetest, most surprising gift has been some of the relationships I have formed through this little online space. And today, I’m excited to announce a giveaway that has the added bonus of introducing you to five such women! These like-minded bloggers have all teamed up to bring you a can’t-miss giveaway, and I’m thrilled to be a part! Sound good? It’s going to be fun! So click on the images above to explore each beautiful space, but first, let me introduce you to Joanna.

An enthusiastic momma and inspiring creative, Joanna is the kind of gal that will change your life in one conversation. She has a contagious enthusiasm for beauty and artfully draws you in to her perspective on life through her BLOG and CRAFT.

And now, Joanna is opening her heart and giving you a chance to win one of her handcrafted quilts! This quilt is sure to be an heirloom for years to come.

TO ENTER: Simply click on the Rafflecopter giveaway link at the end of this post. But first, a little bit about Joanna.

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Faith and Composition Revisionary Life And Babies Don't Keep Pencilled Daydream Phoebe Flock On Neutral Ground

Why did you start Phoebe Flock and where does the name come from?

i started it because i love creating things. and i was running out of space in my house and people to give things to.

phoebeflock was actually first my blog name, then my business name. i love birds. and i also love the name phoebe. if our first born had been a girl, he would have been “phoebe.” one of the reasons i started my blog was because i really value community and blogs are just that: community. i thought of a group of birds. a flock. a community.

so, there you go. phoebe flock.

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What got you started with sewing?

i had an idea for what i wanted the nursery bedding to look like when i was pregnant with my son, samuel. i had pictures in my head and no idea how to make them a reality. my mom came to visit and she helped. she gave me tools. she listened and instructed. we sewed and sewed, and soon i had finished pieces in my hands. my ideas had become tangible and i was hooked. i had more pictures and concepts rolling around in my head and i wanted to hold them in my hands too. so i dug in.

What or who inspires you the most?

definitely stuff that God has made. i love seeing the color combinations He has put into place. dark grey tree bark with aqua lichen and an orange mushroom. the way a tree bends in the wind–toward the setting sun. the 5 blues on a bluebird. all of that. and the list is never exhausted–you’ve never seen it all. He made such cool stuff.

the need is also inspirational. my daughter wants a sleeping bag for her doll. hmm … how can i use half ideas i already have in order to make something useful for her? without the need i’m sometimes stumped.

a need or a picture. one of those things has to be present in order for me to be inspired.

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Tell us about your favorite project ever.

so difficult to choose! i think i’d have to pick the first quilt i made. i made it for samuel, including scrap fabric from so many places–jason’s shirts, and auntie’s shirt here and there, some left-over things from his crib bedding. it is not a well made quilt at all, but it has a whole pile of love in it. and i remember how satisfying it was to see all of the tiny squares become bigger and bigger pieces. we all somehow end up under that quilt when we’re sick. it’s a good quilt–already falling apart, but good.

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What would you say is the purpose of creativity in our lives, your life?

God is the Creator. He created it all. everything around, and in, us. when we create something, we are echoing His creative work. not only are we using gifts and materials He has given, but we are reminding ourselves, and the world that, yes, we are made in the image of God. He created–and, on a much lesser scale–i create.

the day-to-day purposes of the creative process is fleshed out in so many different ways in each of our lives– mine included. putting my creativity to work brings me joy and satisfaction.

i love creating. i think it’s one of His best ideas.

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And here is the quilt you all are playing for! Thank you so much for supporting the lovely Joanna! Don’t forget to check out her SHOP.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway
Contest ends at midnight on Monday, July 14.

Faith and Composition

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All content on F&C is ©Faith&Composition by Shalene Roberts, unless otherwise noted.

An Afternoon Pick-Me-Up {My Favorite Cup of Coffee}

{Simply because it’s Friday, and I feel like being a bit light-hearted today, I’m sharing a lifestyle post. So kick your feet up and grab a hot cuppa, because we’re discussing one of my favorite indulgences … coffee.} 

The Perfect Afternoon Pick-me-up, perfecting the pour-over method | Faith and Composition

It hits me every day around the same time … the afternoon slump. As the hands of the clock near 2 pm, the exhaustion sets in. Perhaps it’s the fact that I have toddlers, and I tend to follow their schedule (read: I need a nap too!); or maybe it’s simply that we operate with such frantic busyness in our society. Whatever the cause, nearly every day I am in desperate need of a pick-me-up just a few hours into the afternoon.

If I can resist the urge to strap the kids into their carseats for a quick drive to the nearest coffeehouse, I’ll make a cup at home using the pour-over method. A simple, unfussy mode of brewing coffee, the pour-over method results in a robust cup without a lot of bitterness. But it’s not just the flavor that has made this one of my favorite methods of coffee preparation, it’s also about the ritual. The whistle of the tea kettle, the careful pouring of hot water over the beans, the sound of coffee percolating into my cup below. It’s all very soothing. My kids could be running rampant with toys strewn about the floor, but this five-minute preparation and the resulting cup is a little personal escape.

The Perfect Afternoon Pick-me-up, perfecting the pour-over method | Faith and Composition

Here’s how to do it:

Fit a paper filter inside your pour-over device. I use this one I picked up for just $6.99 at World Market. This one also gets great reviews. Run water through the filter and the pour-over brewer to rinse; and discard the rinse water. This step isn’t necessary, but it will eliminate any paper lint and prevent the filter from falling in on itself when you pour the hot water. Scoop fresh-ground coffee beans into the filter. (I use approximately 2 heaping tablespoons per 10 ounces. Adjust the amount of beans to your liking.) Stack the pour-over device atop your coffee mug.

The Perfect Afternoon Pick-me-up, perfecting the pour-over method | Faith and Composition

Meanwhile, heat water in a kettle until it just boils, then pull the kettle off the heat for 30 seconds. Pour a small amount over your coffee grinds, being careful to saturate the coffee. Set the kettle down and inhale the aroma. No really, it’s delightful! After a few seconds, pour the remaining water over the coffee until it nearly fills the filter. Let it drain into the cup below with a rhythmic percolating sound. Add cream or sugar if desired, and enjoy!

The Perfect Afternoon Pick-me-up, perfecting the pour-over method | Faith and Composition

Et voila! Your perfect afternoon pick me up.
Do you have a ritual afternoon break? If it involves coffee, how do you take your cup?

Faith and Composition

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All content on F&C is ©Faith&Composition by Shalene Roberts, unless otherwise noted. 

How to Save Money on Unprocessed, Whole Foods and A RECIPE

Tips for saving money on unprocessed, whole foods | Faith and Composition


Welcome! If this is your first time visiting, please note that this part 4 in a series on Whole Foods for the Family Table. If you’d like to read more, click the links to catch up on part 1, part 2 and part 3.

Greetings dear readers! I sincerely hope you’ve been enjoying this series on whole, unprocessed foods. It’s been good for me to gather my thoughts and resources into one collective place, and I hope you’re gaining something from it all too. If nothing else, I hope it’s at least piqued your curiosity.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I’ve been transitioning our family over to a whole foods diet for nearly four years now, but the road has been marked by small progressions. This wasn’t a lifestyle we dove into overnight. Instead, we’ve made little changes that over the course of the past several years have resulted in a drastic shift in our eating habits. As we’ve made this shift, I’ve learned quite a bit, including how to save money, as well as practices for making this lifestyle work with a busy family. Today we’re going to talk money-saving tips, and I’m sharing a recipe for an easy, budget-friendly whole-foods meal. Then in the next few days, I’ll share some realistic advice for making unprocessed foods work for your family without sacrificing your sanity in the process. Ready to save a little money? Let’s go!

Tips for saving money on unprocessed, whole foods | Faith and Composition

My Top Money-Saving Tips for a Whole Foods Diet

  1. Meal plan.
    This is (in my opinion) the single most important component to saving money on a whole foods lifestyle. Having a meal plan has been both my budget saver and my sanity saver. A meal plan not only prevents you from purchasing food items you don’t need, but it also allows you to plan meals around sale items and to stretch certain ingredients across several different meals. Not to mention the fact that it eliminates that blank-staring-into-the-pantry-and-wondering-what’s-for-dinner moment that often precedes take out.
  2. Eat at home.
    The majority of foods served at restaurants are processed (at least to some degree), and unless you specifically seek a venue that serves organic fare, those foods are also likely to be conventionally grown. Then consider the fact that it costs approximately $40 to feed a family of four, and it only makes sense to reduce your dining out. If you simply cut out one restaurant meal a week, you could save $40. Put half of that toward an at-home dinner splurge (a filet of wild-caught Alaskan or Pacific Salmon, for example) and pocket the other $20.
  3. Shop the bulk section.
    I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but shopping the bulk section really does help minimize grocery costs. Dry goods like grains, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, flours and more are all often less expensive when sourced from the bulk bins. Store your purchases in glass canisters or canning jars; it makes for easy accessibility in the pantry.
  4. Replace canned beans with dry beans.
    This is an extension of number 3, but resist the urge to buy canned beans. Buy dried beans, and soak and cook them yourself. Just do it! It’s easy, really! You’ll get a lot more bang for your buck, and you can freeze left-over cooked beans for use in a future recipe.
  5. Eat seasonally.
    This is simply a matter of supply and demand. Don’t eat strawberries in December or pumpkin in July unless you plan to pay a premium. Instead, eat the foods that follow the rhythms of nature. Your budget and your body will thank you.
  6. Buy whole chickens.
    I’m not going to lie, whole chickens used to scare.me.to.death. What exactly was I supposed to do with it? And the thought of rubbing seasoning into the skin or stuffing the cavity with lemons or herbs freaked me out a bit. I finally got over my fear, and I’m glad I did. Pound for pound, whole organic chickens cost less than organic chicken breasts, and they can be stretched across two or three meals. If you’ve never cooked with a whole chicken, 100 Days of Real Food has a great recipe for whole chicken in a crockpot.
  7. Make your own chicken broth.
    Once you’re done with the meat from the whole chicken, throw the carcass into the crockpot with onion, celery and carrots. Set the crockpot to simmer all day, then strain out the broth and freeze it for future use. Not only do you save money with homemade broth, but the nutrient profile of slow-simmered homemade broth is much richer than store-bought.
  8. Make your own pantry staples.
    Things like crackers, granola and whole wheat bread are rather easy to make with just a little practice and some foresight. I usually make extra bread and granola to freeze, so I don’t have to make new batches all the time.
  9. Buy direct from local suppliers.
    Meat, honey, eggs, wheat … if you can source whole foods from local suppliers, you’ll likely pay less than you would in a grocery store, and you’ll get a better quality product. I share some great resources for finding local suppliers in the previous posts, so feel free to start there.
  10. Pay attention to the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15.
    If you have to choose between organic and non-organic for cost reasons, those items listed on the dirty dozen should be organic, whereas those on the clean 15 can be conventionally grown.
  11. Eat meatless meals a few times a week.
    We frequently eat meatless meals, which obviously reduces my meat expenditure and allows me to spend a bit more money on quality meats.

You’ll notice that I didn’t mention coupons here. I don’t use them often; mainly because the majority of coupons are for pre-packaged processed foods. On occasion though, I do find a few for organic options here.

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As I mentioned above, meatless meals offer a great way to stretch your whole foods budget. We eat meatless three, sometimes four times a week. When we do, we typically rely on legumes or eggs for our protein, and this dish is one of our favorites.

Not only is this recipe easy, filling and liked by all, but it’s also a nutrient powerhouse. Black beans provide support for digestive health and are a good source of flavonoids. Sweet potatoes contain anti-inflammatory properties and are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C and manganese. And kale—a fantastic source of vitamin A, vitamin K and vitamin C—contains anti-oxidant nutrients, anti-inflammatory nutrients and anti-cancer nutrients. Topped with a fried egg, which provides protein and fat for the fat-soluble vitamins A and K, this is a filling, well-rounded meal. We also love this sweet potato, black bean, leafy green combo as a filling for meatless tacos with a little sour cream. It’s a versatile food pairing, which makes it such a great recipe for nights you need an easy dinner. So have some fun and play around. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Egg Mash-Up
Serves 4

4 sweet potatoes
1 cup dry black beans
1 bunch kale (or other sturdy leafy green)
4 pastured eggs
Cumin
Sea salt
Pepper
Olive oil
Feta or other cheese as a topping (optional)
Chopped cilantro to garnish (optional)

Place the beans in a pot or bowl. Cover with water. Allow to soak overnight or at least four hours. Drain beans. Cover with fresh water and bring to a boil. (You can also add chopped garlic and onion to the pot if you would like.) Reduce heat. Simmer for approximately 2 hours. The beans vary in cooking time, so taste them periodically to check for doneness. When the beans are done, add 1/2 tablespoon cumin, and salt and pepper to taste.

Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Egg Mash-up | Faith and Composition
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 425. Peel the sweet potatoes and dice them into approximate 1-inch pieces. Lay the diced sweet potato onto a foil-lined baking sheet. Top the sweet potatoes with a drizzle of olive oil, two teaspoons cumin and a sprinkle of salt. Toss to coat. Roast the sweet potatoes for approximately 45 minutes, checking for doneness during the last 15 minutes.

Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Egg Mash-up | Faith and Composition

Dice the kale into small pieces. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a saute pan, then toss in the kale. Sprinkle with salt. Saute until the kale turns bright green, then remove it from the heat. Remove the kale to a separate plate. Use the same pan to heat a dab of butter, then gently pour the eggs (two at a time) into the pan. Let the eggs cook until the whites are almost firm, then flip (taking care to not break the yolks). Cook until the yolks are done to your liking. Then simply assemble the plates with the kale, black beans and sweet potato. Top with the egg. Finish the plates with optional fresh diced cilantro and feta cheese (a cotija cheese might be good as well). Enjoy!

Now it’s your turn! How do you save money on an unprocessed, whole foods diet? Share your tips with us in the comments.

CLICK HERE TO READ PART 5. For a FREE whole foods, 5-day meal plan, click here

 

Whole Foods for the Family Table, Part 3 {Sourcing Animal Proteins}

If this is your first time here, welcome! We’re currently in the middle of a series titled Whole Foods for the Family Table. You can catch parts 1 and 2 here and here.

Whole Foods for the Family Table, Part 3 | Faith and Composition
It’s been more than four years since I started serving our family organic fruits and veggies from an organic produce co-op, but making the switch to organic, free-range animal products (including pastured eggs and raw cow’s milk) took us a bit longer. Why? Because there’s less availability for the consumer, which makes it more difficult to find reputable sources. Now, however, when my kids reach for a glass of milk, they drink raw, non-homogenized, full-fat milk from a nearby local farm. When they eat meat, it’s the beef from a pastured cow who spent his life grazing grass in my uncle’s pasture. Eggs? They’re from a flock of hens tended by personal friends of ours. Our honey comes from a local beekeeper, and our wheat came straight from my aunt and uncle’s farm.

As I re-read that paragraph, I realize that it sounds like we’re living on a homestead in some rural area. But the truth is, we live smack dab in the middle of a major metropolitan area, and our little yard boasts less than a quarter acre. So how do we do it, and why go to the trouble?

Let’s start with the “why,” because there’s no need for the “how” if conventional options are   comparable. First of all, let me start by saying that we’re not on the low-fat bandwagon. We certainly used to be, and my poor hubby despised skim milk, but now he gets whole milk, full-fat yogurt, real butter and more (within moderation, of course). Why did we make the switch? Because more research is beginning to show that maybe fat isn’t the villain we once thought it was, and all those so-called healthy vegetable oils (high in omega 6) may actually be causing harm. For more reading on the subject, click here to read thoughts from a heart surgeon, and check out some of the links listed in this informative post by Deliciously Organic.

Whole Foods for the Family Table, Part 3 | Faith and Composition

Once I decided to switch from processed, low-fat proteins to their unprocessed, full-fat counterparts, I wanted to get the healthiest animal sources available. And study after study is showing that organic, pastured animals yield a more nutritious food product. Take eggs for example, a study done by Mother Earth News showed that pastured eggs contain four to six times more vitamin D, one-third less cholesterol, one-fourth less saturated fat, two-thirds more vitamin A, two times more omega-3 fatty acids, three times more vitamin E, and seven times more beta carotene than conventionally farmed eggs. Regarding beef, this article suggests grass-fed beef and dairy products are leaner, lower in omega-6 fats, and higher in beneficial omega-3 fats and conjugated linoleic acids.

As for raw milk, A Campaign for Raw Milk indicates that studies have shown that children who consume raw milk have greater resistance to disease, better growth and stronger teeth than children consuming pasteurized milk. Animal studies indicate that raw milk confers better bone structure, better organ development, better nutrient assimilation, better fertility and even better behavior than pasteurized milk. And when it comes to the safety of raw milk, evidence has shown that illness attributed to raw milk over an 11-year period was only less than .0001%. To put that into perspective, a 2003 government study suggested that deli meats are ten times more likely to cause food-borne illness than raw milk. Kind of makes you question your turkey sandwich, doesn’t it?

Apart from these studies though, our family has personally experienced some great results since switching to raw milk. My son has a grass allergy, and his legs break out in bright, red, irritated spots if he’s spent too much time in the grass. Since switching to raw milk, the rash on his legs has almost completely cleared. I don’t know if he had an unknown allergy or sensitivity to milk that was worsening the rash, or if the beneficial enzymes in raw milk have strengthened his immune system so that he can fight the grass allergy, but whatever the case, we’re believers. My niece has also experienced a respite from eczema since switching to raw milk. The poor girl would have a pretty bad eczema flare-up whenever she drank pasteurized milk, but she’s symptom free when drinking raw milk. When it comes to your own family though, don’t take my word for it. Read the studies and enter into a decision that’s best for you with thought and research. If you’re considering raw milk, I highly recommend browsing A Campaign for Real Milk.

Whole Foods for the Family Table, Part 3 | Faith and Composition
Now that you understand the why, let’s move to the how. As I mentioned in the beginning, sourcing organic, free-range animal products is a bit more difficult than sourcing organic produce, but it’s certainly doable. Depending on your state’s laws, many of these products are available at local farmer’s markets. This option is great, because it allows you to ask questions directly of the supplier. You may even be able to find out about the existence of an egg/beef/raw milk co-op just by asking the right questions. And speaking of asking, sometimes a conversation with a like-minded friend can be the best source of information. Talk to others who eat a whole-foods, unprocessed diet to see where they source their animal proteins. And if you see that a restaurant serves food from local growers, ask about their suppliers. The supplier likely sells direct to the consumer, in addition to the restaurant. Before finding my source for raw milk and pastured eggs (which I discovered via word of mouth), I considered sourcing low-temp pasteurized milk from a dairy that supplies the milk needs of one of my favorite local coffee houses.

If these products aren’t available at your farmer’s markets, or conversations with friends don’t yield any results, check out the following site for extensive state-by-state lists of local, unprocessed, whole-foods suppliers:

A Campaign for Real Milk, milk finder
American Grassfed
Eat Wild
LocalHarvest
When considering a raw milk supplier, Mother Earth News has a great checklist of things to look for in a reputable dairy.

If you happen to live in or near the Dallas/Fort Worth area, check out these local famers and their products:

Burgundy Pasture Beef
Dominion Farms
Dry Valley Dairy
Homestead Farms
Hudspeth Farms
Lucky Layla
Rosey Ridge Farm
TexSax Ranch (they sell their own products, as well as operate a raw milk co-op with milk they pick up from Nors Dairy Farm)

Since local, organic, whole foods usually carry a higher price tag, I’m going to tackle the issue of cost in the next couple of days. We’ll discuss ways to stay on budget, as well as some more applicable tips for getting into the habit of preparing and serving whole, unprocessed foods at your family’s table without losing your mind in the process.

What about you? Do you source local, organic animal proteins? If so, what are your favorite local sources? If not, what is hindering you? 

CLICK HERE TO READ PART 4. For a FREE whole foods, 5-day meal plan, click here