Camp More Comfortable: 7 Critical Tips!

Camp More Comfortable: 7 Critical Tips!

Camp more comfortable by asking yourself, “What’s the purpose of the camping trip?” This should be the first thing you do before you start packing. Are you going to lay in the sun at the beach, hike in the woods, rock climb, swim, fish, or relax by the fire? Knowing the answer to this will help you pack efficiently and wisely. In this post, we’re going to talk about shelter, sleeping, cooking, water, activities, hygiene, and coffee. Let’s reduce stress and get camping comfy style!

camp more comfortable

Why is getting out in nature so important?

First and foremost, nature heals. We are creatures who not only depend on nature for our survival, but it nourishes our souls and reduces stress. According to “Nature’s Nurture” by Wendy Helfenbaum, an article in the Costco Connection it says that nature decreases anxiety and negative thinking. It goes on to say that outdoor activity improves our mental and physical well-being and reduces high blood pressure. Nature even helps us learn better! There are so many positive benefits nature holds for us. This doesn’t mean you have spend hours outside to gain from it, but studies show that even 10 minutes can lighten your load. And all we need to do is open the door.

John Muir quote

#1 Camp more comfortable in weather

The main issue with camping is the weather. Before you pack your first item, look at the forecast. The key here is to have a plan for the opposite…at least something to get you by, like an umbrella or stocking cap. We’re not going to let the weather get in our way of “serenity now” experience.

My essentials no matter what kind of trip we go on include: a rain jacket, wool hat, dry-wick pants and shorts, wool socks, 3 pairs of underwear, 1 vest, 1 fleece or down jacket, 2 t-shirts, 2 long sleeve shirts, and I never leave home without my swimsuit. Of course, this packing list depends on how long you’ll be gone. With that said, it’s a good idea to pack a little pouch of laundry detergent

#2 Getting Z’s in nature

Sleeping matters. Take sleep seriously. When we’re tired, most of us tend to be a bit on the cranky side. Sleep can ruin our trip. Without it, our bodies fall apart, our minds get messed up, and we’re not fun to be around. Make sleep your priority. By making your sleeping area comfy, you’ll sleep like a rock. Take note of the area you’re sleeping on; whether it is the ground, hammock, bed, or picnic table…I’ve seen it…make it as comfortable as possible. If your campsite has access to electrical service and you want to block out the neighbors’ chatter, use a white noise machine.  

During the night our temperature changes; to stay warm people generally pile on the blankets, but what you really want to do is to beef up what you’re sleeping on. The ground will sap your heat and energy, so think sleeping mat/s. If you’re in a hammock, think about laying on top of a couple of sleeping bags before you crawl into yours.

As for sleeping bags, they are great for sleepovers and hammocks, but when you’re camping at a modern campground in the dead of summer, you’re probably best served with sleeping on top of your sleeping bag then using a sheet and thin blanket over the top of your body. And don’t forget your precious pillow!

cooking at the campground

#3 Camp more comfortable with meals

Cooking. Food is probably the next priority…assuming you’re bringing your own water. Typically when people think of camping they think of hot dogs. However, now a day, people are making gourmet meals! My rule is whatever floats your boat. I like things to be easy and already prepped. With that said, I spend an afternoon preparing our meals and planning our vacation menu. I get specific with what we’re having for each meal because when I’m camping I don’t want to be cooking or worrying about what we’re going to eat.

As for cooking equipment, this depends upon your camping shelter. Are you using an RV, 5th-wheel, camper, pop-up camper, tent, or just a hammock?

#3.2 Cooking in a tent

If you’re in a tent or hammock, you have more freedom to camp in places that don’t provide an electric and water service. This brings tremendous opportunity to camp in amazing, hard to reach, campsites with breathtaking views. Tent camping also forces you to simplify and to keep things simple the whole vacation. With that said, to camp more comfortable in a tent, get a titanium pot and a camp stove. The pot will serve you in many ways. You can almost cook anything in the pot. Plus it boils water when you don’t have a water filter. And, golly, if you’re in bear country or if you get lost, you can use the pan to bang on it and make some noise!

#3.4 Cooking in a camper

As with all the other types of camping shelters, I mentioned before you will most likely camp somewhere with an electrical hook-up and have access to water unless you’re ‘boon-docking. Boon-docking is where you aren’t hooked up to anything except maybe a solar panel.

Air Fryer on Amazon

If power is on your side, I’d suggest bringing a Crock-Pot or an air fryer.  Our 5th-Wheel has an over, but we use the air fryer instead. It’s cleaner, easier, and does things the oven can’t do. The air fryer’s capabilities give you more cooking options. The Crock-Pot comes in handy when you’ve had a full day and don’t want to cook when you get back to camp.  Gosh! Don’t forget the grill! We have one of the skillet grills that you can essentially cook anything on it, including pancakes. And, yes, still have a titanium pot on hand.

sloppy joes
Simple & Show-stopping Sloppy Joes

#3.6 Our 5 quick camping meals we like

Chicken salad. I pre-make this at home and serve with grapes and chips.

Mac & cheese with brats, hot dogs, or salmon patties. A side of spinach or broccoli is usually served with this. It’s also tasty to put potato chip crumbs on your mac & cheese!

Sloppy Joes This is my favorite recipe. No mess, no fuss with the kids. I serve green beans, potato straws, or a store bought salad on the side.

pulled pork nachos

Pulled pork nachos. This is so yummy. I simply buy pre-cooked pulled pork (not the saucy kind), I then put a layer of corn chips, cheese (fake cheese in my case), the pork, and taco sauce. Pop them in the microwave then put fresh avocado and diced tomatoes on top. SO GOOD! Here’s a link to the recipe.

Burgers and sweet pot fries. We make the fries in our air-fryer. In fact, we’ve made the burgers in our fryer too! I add a side of spinach, green beans, broccoli, or grapes.

As for dessert, I either bring pudding and whip cream, stuff to make rice crispy treats, or premade cookie dough to bake a fresh batch. Of course, you have s’mores to fall back on. Heck, you could make cookie s’mores! Whaoza!

#3.8 Use the LapLander for comfortable eating

The LapLander Cushion is a must when it comes to eating in a camp chair. Simply place it on your lap and eat. This cushion has a non-slip strip that helps your paper plate stay in place on your lap. You can also sit on it at the picnic table. Simple but VERY helpful! This is seriously a game-changer. Go to Etsy to order.

LapLander camping
cushion picnic table

#4 Drinking water while camping

Berkey Gravity Fed Filter Click for details

There is no joke about drinking water. Clean water is a must no matter if you’re in the backcountry or in a fancy campground. Please bring a filter. If you’d had Guardia or some other illness from water, I know you wouldn’t leave home without one. Plus, dehydration is no joke.

For tent camping, we like the:  Sawyer filters

For our camper/5th-Wheel, we really enjoy the gravity fed Berkey Water Filter you put on your counter or picnic table.

Of course, you can bring jugs of water, been there, done that, and frankly, that’s not fun. Jugs are heavy, and what if you run out of water? Now what?

Please do not drink from any body of water without first either boiling it to a roaring boil or putting it through a filter…note the titanium pot. Dehydration comes quickly if you get sick from bad water. The pot will seriously save your life.

Simplify Firefly Etsy

#5 Camping activities for kids

To camp more comfortable with kids, it’s a great idea to have some activities on hand for foul weather. When the weather is super nice, activities come naturally. The park system has great ideas of where to go and what to explore, so use those services. But if it’s rainy or cold you can still have fun!

First off, it is okay and healthy for your kids to play outside even if the weather isn’t ideal. I remember playing in the rain all the time! Just be sure when they’re done to warm them up and get dry quickly, there is no time for hyperthermia.  

Bust out the board games. Here is a list of some of our favorite and top board games. This is something the whole family can enjoy and make memories with. If mom or dad needs a break from the littles, download my Camping Kit or Outdoor Activity Bundle before you leave. This will not only keep your kiddos busy, but if you get the bundle they’ll learn about trees, fireflies, and general nature. These activities actually help your child learn how to play outside!

If you have tweens who have a phone, they might have fun making trick-shot videos. My son did this video and was busy for hours! Here is a link to one of his videos while we were camping: David’s trick shot video.

outdoor activity kit
Click for details on Etsy

#6 Hygiene while camping

Hygiene when camping can be tricky, especially if you’re in a tent. How do you camp more comfortable in this department? It kind of depends on how long you’re going to be gone. If you’re gone for a weekend in a tent, you can probably wait to shower until you get home. If you’re in a campground that has showers, by all means, use them, but please wear flip-flops in the shower, trust me on this. And most campers have a shower, so do what you will.

pee bucket on Amazon

Going to the bathroom. Yep, we’re going there. With tent camping, you have three choices. The first choice is to walk to the bathroom if you’re in a campground. The number two option is to bring a pee bucket and pee in your tent with the bucket. I know it sounds gross, but if it’s storming outside, I’d rather pee in a bucket than hold it.

The last option is to go outside. For men, going outside is part of their nature, for women, it’s a bit more intimate with the ground and feet placement. I’ve heard of people hugging a tree and going, and others hover, yet my preferred method is to squat. Peeing outside will come naturally; you’ll learn how to aim and avoid your feet. Just don’t wipe with any kind of leaf, bring your own tissue and either put in a Ziploc or bury it when you’re done. My secret bathroom weapon that makes my camp more comfortable is the baby butt wipes, enough said.

#7 Coffee!

There is nothing like a cup of hot coffee in the morning. For camping in a tent without electricity, use instant coffee. Just boil water in your titanium pot, pour in your cup, and mix. It certainly does the trick. Instant coffee has come a long way.

Camp more comfortable with your coffee in the camper. If you want to keep the mess at bay, simply spend the extra bucks and get a Keurig K-Slim. We tried the traditional coffee pot and the one cup serving kind. Both worked, but we got tired of wet coffee grounds in the garbage and down the sink. Coffee grounds are hard to get out of the tank. We splurged and bought the small Keurig and use k-cups. Yes, it’s a little more expensive, but it’s a nice luxury while camping. If you’re peeing in a bucket, drink the good stuff.

In Camping Conclusion

Camping is meant to refresh and enjoy the outdoors, why not camp more comfortably? When you camp more comfortably, you’re likely to camp again. It’s not to cause stress or poison ivy on your butt. It’s a fact that trees help relieve stress and nurture the soul. Remember the great outdoors is good for the soul and mind alike. It’s those awesome sunsets, rainbows, thunderstorm clouds, and majestic scenery that attracts us to the wonderful creation God gave us to enjoy.

By CT Copyright © 2021 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.

Stay Connected
The Ultimate Scavenger Hunt (kids 8-13 yrs. old)

The Ultimate Scavenger Hunt (kids 8-13 yrs. old)

Scavenger hunt to the rescue. Do your kids have a lot of time on their hands? Are they feeling dumpy and bored? I have a fun low-cost solution for you! My scavenger hunt takes at least three hours to complete. Can you hear the angels sing? LOL! This adventure keeps the kids busy and creates a smile on their faces.

Scavenger Hunt
Download it today! Click the picture or head to Freebies.

Not your typical scavenger hunt!

This hunt is like no other. First off, it’s not just a list of things to find. It involves reading, drawing, exercise, strategy, skill, teamwork, creativity, and cognitive thinking.  Seriously the kids loved it. They were outside and having fun. And strangely they got along! As a parent, it was gratifying to watch how much joy was happening in the kids. A memory for sure!

Another fun difference from other scavenger hunts is that it tells a little story. The story starts out with Larry who is lost and needs to find his way home. He has to go through the first three challenges to unlock his map, materials, and list. Then the rest of the challenges help him find his way home. He gets hungry on the way, wants to find presents to bring home, and needs to spend the night. And the most exciting part of all is that he needs to create a flying vessel to get home!

Outdoor Activity Kit

Who is Larry?

Larry is actually one of my son’s stuffed animals. I just grabbed a small one that would be suitable for flight. You can use an egg…this would be interesting…or a water balloon for that matter, or a cardboard cutout. Essentially, Larry can be anything you want. However, with the stuffed animal, I found it made the hunt more personal-able and “real”. They really had fun with it.

Who is this scavenger hunt for?

This challenge is for 8 – 13-year-olds. Younger kids can be helpers; some of the challenges I found to be difficult for kids younger than 8 years old. But that is up to you. You could make some adjustments to cater to younger kids. This is also fun for families.

Scavenger Hunt Challenge
Download it today! Head to Freebies.

Materials and Set-up

As for materials, use items you already have in-house. No need to run to the store. This is what can make the scavenger hunt more challenging…after all it is a scavenger hunt! For instance, for Larry’s flying vessel I just found some yarn, balloons, a plastic cup, a piece of fabric, foil, and threw in some other things from my junk drawer. Who knows what kids will come up with!

All you need to do is draw a map and set-up the course. This usually takes about 30-minutes. I personally had a lot of fun doing this. It brought me back to my childhood fun. To make it more interesting, I allowed a phone to be present for the kids to shoot video and for taking pictures. They enjoyed this part especially making the trick shot video. I simply downloaded an app called Clips. My son actually had to show me how to work it, in other words, it’s easy to figure out.

Simplify Firefly Etsy

Scavenger hunt example

Here’s a video summary of this scavenger hunt we did the other day:

Larry is waiting for you!

Ready to have some fun and watch your kiddos have a blast? To download and print Larry’s Scavenger Hunt Challenge head over to Freebies. OH! One last thing, it’s actually a lot of fun as a family to do too! Not to mention at a campground when on vacation. Enjoy!

By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.

7 Firefly Facts & How to Care for Fireflies

7 Firefly Facts & How to Care for Fireflies

What’s fun about Fireflies? Well…everything! Here are some cool facts and information about fireflies. Plus I include ways to attract the firefly and how to safely catch them. Enjoy and be gentle! Be sure to download my free Firefly Fun Sheet!

firefly facts

Firefly Fact #1

There isn’t just one kind of firefly. There are more like 2000 species of fireflies in the world! That’s a lot of light.

Fact #2

Speaking of natural light, the firefly light is the most efficient light in the WORLD! Yep. Bug light is the best light in the world…natural light. The sun doesn’t count. Let’s face it, what other bug or animal produces its own light?

Actually, there are some other bioluminescent species that exist on this planet, however, most of them live deep in the ocean.

firefly flowers

Fact #3

What else is cool about firefly glow? Not all light from the firefly is the same color. The glow can be yellow, green, orange, or blue! How cool is that? Way cool.

Fact #4

Their handy blink and frequency of the blink are how fireflies communicate with each other. I kind of like to think of them using Morris Code. They also use their light as a mating signal. Oo, la la!

firefly fun sheet
Click for instant download!

Fact #5

Fireflies do not taste good. If I were you I’d cancel that side of firefly and stick with your kale. Fireflies are actually poisonous to some animals if they eat them. When the firefly is attacked they release a little blood. Ew. But the blood contains a chemical that creates a bigger taste and emits poison! It’s how they protect themselves.

Fact #6

Okay, this one is super important. Firefly numbers are reducing in the world. Some of this is due to climate change, but another reason is because of their habitats. The healthy living environments are being destroyed; not to mention, they are also being ‘harvested’ for their luciferase (their glow substance). Luciferase is used for scientific research for forensic tests and food safety. They do have a way to make this stuff synthetically, but people still kill these amazing bugs (beetles) for the natural stuff…

Camping Activity Kit!: Help your kids fall in love with the outdoors!

Camping Activity Kit

Looking for something to keep your little campers busy for a while? Download these 8 pages full of camping fun. In this camping activity printable you’ll get:

★ Camping quick facts, a word search, tic-tac-toe, 16 campground adventure ideas, a crossword, coloring opportunities, a tree that needs leaves, a maze, campfire questions that will entertain all ages! Plus an answer guide, but who needs that?

Click HERE for more details and to purchase.

What can we do to save the fireflies?

We can make a firefly habitat!

Fireflies love to eat snails, worms, and slugs. Where there are snails, worms, and slugs, you’ll likely find fireflies. A garden is a perfect place for fireflies to enjoy life. Firefly larvae enjoy a good pile of wet leaves. It is suggested to make a compost pile of leaves and to keep the leaves moist throughout the year. The leaves will attract the slugs, and the baby fireflies will eat them as they grow. In the Spring, put some of the leaves in your garden as compost. Do this every year and watch your firefly population grow!

Fact #7

Fireflies also enjoy these plants: Passionflower, Morning Glory, Goldenrod, Asters, and River Fern. They also like trees! Good choices are Sycamore, Cottonwood, Elm, Bur Oak, Dogwood, and Trumpet Creeper.

firefly jar

How do we safely catch them?

We can catch them carefully. When they land you or when you gently catch them, simply put them in a glass jar with many holes punched through the top for oxygen. Place a damp paper towel in the jar to prevent them from drying out. Put a slice of apple in there for them to munch on. Please only keep the fireflies for 1 day. They only live for two-three months, let them be free and enjoy life.

Buy on Amazon

Want the glow to last longer?

If you want the fun glow and blinking to last longer, first let the fireflies go, then buy fairy lights and put them in a jar. I personally love these lights. The solar-powered ones are pretty cool, I keep them up all year round. Super awesome for wedding table decorations!

That does it on firefly facts! Hope you learned something new. Thanks for visiting! Be sure to check out my store and other blog posts to help you simplify and shine your light!

References: FireFly.org and EcoWatch.  

The Purpose of Creativity, Not What You Think.

The Purpose of Creativity, Not What You Think.

flame

Creativity is one thing I love to do in the kitchen. I’ll never forget the time when I was 10 years old; I reached for the flour in an overhead cupboard. My fingertips were millimeters away from the canister. One… more… bit… CRASH!

I was successful in getting the flour down, but it wasn’t in the canister… it was on my head. I stood there and sulked as my older sister laughed at me. She called me “Casper”.

Back then my dream was to become a baker. I loved baking cookies, muffins, and quick breads. Mixing simple ingredients with my signature twist was so fun. Unfortunately, its harder for me to bake these days. Not being able to eat gluten really puts a damper on the baking. But I still try and experiment with what I got. 🙂 My baking dream might have fizzled away but my need to create has not.

To truly feel alive I need to create something; whether it’s cookies, a garden, a writing piece, or simply drawing a picture on my son’s lunch bag. It is gratifying to see what my imagination can create. I feel like I did something. Know what I mean?

Why creativity is important

click for details

Creativity isn’t just for fun. Creative thinking can solve problems, help us perform better at our jobs, help with depression, and it can help make a difference in peoples’ lives. Look at music, art, dance, and literature… what are those talents trying to do? Matthew Barnet has a great answer from his book, The Cause Within You.

He says, “Fulfilled artists do not paint or sculpt for the sake of creating more art. They do it to move people and challenge them to see the world differently. “

Want to know what’s scary?

From CreatingMinds.org they say our creativity fades away when we don’t use it. As in the Bible, it says, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything…” Matthew 5:13. (NIV)

In our busy lives, it’s important to take a time-out to be creative; to take a small step in becoming the unique person we were intended to be. Not just for ourselves, but for the sake of others.

The creativity flame still has a glow in us. Let’s blow on it to feed the fire within. There is no better time than now to get our hands busy; our minds will love it, our hearts will feel good, and we may incite someone’s perspective.

Simplify Firefly Etsy

By CT Copyright © 2016 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved.

Gift Ideas for Hard to Buy People

Gift Ideas for Hard to Buy People

Whether it’s a birthday party, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or the Christmas season, here are some gift ideas for those who are hard to buy for. Let’s face it; giving gifts can be a lot of fun! However, I find myself that it’s only fun when you give a gift you know they’ll enjoy and appreciate. So what do you get when you’re bone dry for ideas? I’ve got a quick list for adults and kids that will get your ideas flowing. Say goodbye to hard-to-buy people!

Adult Gift Ideas

Practical

When it comes to adults I think of practicality. What would be helpful in their everyday life? You can only give so many dish towels or scarves. Let’s think about time. Time is precious and irreplaceable. What can I give that will save people time?

First and foremost, you can give grocery shopping; especially during COVID and Flu season. It’s true; people can grocery shop for you. This is an incredible service especially for people who don’t like grocery shopping or for loved ones who can’t get to the store for other reasons.

My preferred service is Shipt. Not only am I a Shipt shopper…because I do love grocery shopping…but I know the quality Shipt delivers. These shoppers take it seriously because Shipt takes care of the shoppers. It’s easy to sign up and give it as a gift.

Comfort

Another idea when it comes to gifts for adults is I think comfort. What tends to hurt the most on people? Their back and feet. A great gift for those backaches is a LapLander. This product is a great companion for any trip in the car. Whether they’re commuting to work or headed out on a cross-country road trip, the LapLander brings support to the lumbar and can be used in other ways while traveling.

laplander uses
LapLander Useshttps://simplifyfirefly.com/laplander/
click to shop

As for their feet, get them a pair of Crocs. Crocs have come a long way. From fashionable styles to the mainstay look, Crocs are light on the feet and comfortable for your soles. They come in a variety of colors!

Make it personal

What about personalizing a gift? This is so awesome for those hard to buy people. At GiftsForYouNow.com you can find anything to personalize. This online store is so cool! From grilling tools to home décor, get their name or your children’s names on something you know they’ll cherish. You must check it out: GiftsForYouNow.com

click to order!

Chocolate!

When all else fails, chocolate to the rescue! Chocolate is an awesome gift for any chocolate lover. But! It has to be good chocolate. I have tried many-o chocolates in my life, from Drug Store chocolates or fancy organic chocolates, nothing beats See’s Candies. See’s Candies is by far the best. These are handcrafted and have been producing chocolate since 1921! They certainly know what they are doing. What is even more awesome is that their chocolates are gluten-free! If you have a person in your home or family that needs to be gluten-free and loves chocolates, head over to See’s. Period.

For really hard to buy people

If there is really nothing you can think of I resort to a combination of a fun snack like beef jerky or fancy mixed nuts along with Lottery Scratch-Off tickets. Yep. I know some folks have mixed feelings about the lottery tickets, but I’m just telling you what I’ve done before. And, actually, one of the tickets I gave to someone for a gift won $85 bucks! This is a great for Father’s Day.

What about the kids?

Birthdays and Christmas, maybe even Easter are big gift holidays. Usually, kids can be pretty easy to shop for. But what about the kids you don’t know all that well, like your sister’s grandkids or your cousins? Sure you can get them a gift card, but to them, a gift card isn’t a shopping spree, it’s a piece of plastic. It’s plastic. Um, plastic. Kids like to open something that is colorful or unexpected.

Click to Shop!

Lego

Lego is pretty much a hole in one when it comes to gifts for both boys and girls, especially if they’re around the ages of 5 -10, or even older! The colorful bricks and creative builds are sure to spark their interest. Not only that, but it helps keep them busy and use their brains. For the record, it’s LEGO, not LEGOS. I’ve been corrected one too many times. Heck, you can even get them a subscription to LEGO MAGAZINE! We got this for my son and he absolutely loved it!

Disney!

The Disney shop is pure fun and joy. A classic Mickey anything is a precious gift. Gifts from the Disney shop bring Disney alive. Whether they have been to one of the parks or have watched a few Disney movies, almost everyone can relate to Disney. In fact, when I was a kid I had a Mickey Mouse collection. This was back in the late 70’s and early 80’s. And I still have it! Even though my collecting stopped when I went into Junior High, anything Mickey made me smile…I had a pretty good Mickey voice too! “Hello! My name is Mickey Mouse!”

Race Track

Race track. Yep. A car race track with controls is AWESOME! Again, any gender loves these things, trust me. You know what? Adults would probably like this as well! When my son got a race track I think I played with it more than he did, and he played all the time! The folks over at Scalextric know their tracks.

Educational

Little Passports. This is a fairly new concept for me. Because of a lot of homeschooling that is happening now a day, this gift is a gift that keeps giving. You gotta check them out. Their products start out for ages 3 and go to ages 9+. It’s actually a monthly subscription. You pick the subject and length of the subscription, then they ship your gift to your gift receiver every month depending on the length of subscription you picked. In the box, they’ll get all sorts of fun things that will help teach them about that particular subject. It’s really a great idea for grandkids or your own kids. I wish I had something like this when I grew up! Who doesn’t like to get a package in the mail? Little Passports is the way to go.

This is USA Edition Ages 7-12
This is Little Explorers Ages 3-5

Wrapping it up

That wraps up gift ideas for those who are hard to buy for. Get it? WRAPS! I crack myself up. My hope is that you’ll enjoy giving gifts now that you have some fresh ideas or refreshed suggestions. All in all, it is the thought that counts. But let’s put some surprise in that next gift-giving opportunity.

By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.

Road Trip Must-Have!

Road Trip Must-Have!

Road trips are the ultimate carefree vacation. Gazing at the countryside, rockin’ to your playlist, and pulling through your favorite fast-food joint is a joy to the soul. These are all great things, but I want to make your road trip even better. How to do that? There are two major problems in the ‘cabin’ that can irritate your road trip: being uncomfortable and making a mess while eating. Let’s solve them with one simple solution.

the LapLander
The LapLander

The #1 problem that makes or breaks a road trip is COMFORT.

If your body isn’t comfortable, a three-hour trip is going to feel like a five-day trip. And when you become middle-aged or older, your body will be sure to tell you you’re getting old. No one wants that! My go-to when it comes to comfort is a new product called the LapLander. It is a versatile cushion that can be used for many things, like eating on your lap. But when it comes to a sore back or aching booty, the LapLander certainly takes the edge off. I personally use mine every day in the car for my back. My sister folds hers in half and uses it as a pillow. Let me help you get more comfortable in your car, get a LapLander.

The #2 problem is eating in the car.

After picking up your lunch from a drive-through restaurant, eating it becomes a challenge. You’re either balancing your burger on the gap of your lap or you’re scarfing it down in a few bites. What fun is that? It’s not. Let’s face it, balancing your burger or salad on your lap is downright dangerous, especially if you’re driving.  It’s not illegal to eat and drive, but you can get pulled over for being distracted and careless with your driving. To be safer and cleaner, I use the trusty LapLander.

The LapLander used as a lap-top is perfect for setting your salad or sandwich on it. There is a non-slip strip to help your lunch stay in place and give your inner thighs a break from squeezing. This product is great for anyone who has to eat in the car, not just road trippers, but truck drivers, Lift drivers, Shipt Shoppers, or the like.

Simply go HERE for more information or order RIGHT NOW!

Head to simplifyfirefly.com/laplander/ for videos.

A little LapLander History

You might be thinking of the Northern European people, also called Sami. The history of these people is quite remarkable. The sad part is that in English they were referred to as Lapps or Laplanders: some of the Sami people find “Laplander” to be offensive. I fully respect the Sami and by no means are using the word ‘LapLander’ to bring offense. My product has no relation to the Northern European community. The LapLander is literally a lap lander.

Why I Created it

As my own personal testimony, I love this thing, not just because I invented it, but because it works! I used to be a Shipt Shopper, a person that grocery shops for other people. With a job like that, I found myself eating in the car on my shop days. Frankly, my inner thighs were getting too tight and exhausted from me trying to balance my food on my lap, which leads me to eat faster, and when you eat faster your body fires back. Not cool.

Road trip, camping, and more!

As for road trips. The LapLander saved me in so many ways. Not only did I feel confident handing my son his burger to eat on his lap, but I used it between my belly and the seat belt. Why do seat belts seem to get tighter and tighter as we travel? No, I’m not talking about getting bloated from fast food. Some seatbelts don’t glide like they used to. This annoyance was solved with the LapLander. I remember one trip I literally was using four LapLanders: 1 for my lumbar, 1 for my butt, 1 for my seat belt, and 1 for my lunch. It was pretty comical but I was comfortable!

The LapLander is also awesome for camping. We camped for nine weeks this past summer! Nothing beats a soft cushion on a picnic table, especially if you have a sore booty. Eating around the campfire was a breeze with the LapLander on my lap. No balancing act! Did I mention camp chair support? At times those camp chairs can sag in places that need more support. The LapLander can fill those gaps.

People have used them for commuting to and from work, backpacking, tailgating, and sports watching. The LapLander is seriously a game changer where sitting is involved.

LapLander camping

What others have to say:

I took the Laplander with me on a cross country trip. I used it for more than just placing my sandwich on it. It was also a headrest, sun shade, back cushion, and lap desk. Very useful and handy!

– Anna S.

The LapLander is the perfect item you’ll need on a road trip. My sister and I drove from Michigan to Colorado. It gave us somewhere to set food while we were eating. I used the LapLander for my lower back as an extra cushion, it was perfect! Honestly, we even used it to cover up our legs so they wouldn’t get sun burnt! The LapLander was so helpful in several ways for our road trip. I highly recommend this product. 

– Matti H.

I am taking mine daily in the car with me…. it is AWESOME for some back muscles!!!! A great help!!!

– Rita T.
laplander uses

Where to buy

The LapLander helps you relax on the road in so many ways. Add this to your road trip essential checklist. It will save you a ton of stress both physically and mentally.

Simply go here for more information or order right now!

LapLander
Order your LapLander today!

By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.

Infertility: What I would have done differently

Infertility: What I would have done differently

In 2010 today I lost a beautiful innocent soul. At 15 weeks pregnant, I had a miscarriage, we call her Sarah. Infertility is not something that is easy to talk about. I almost didn’t post this because I didn’t want people to think I’m seeking sympathy, because I’m not. I’m seeking the fellow broken-hearted. Our trials in life aren’t meant to be hidden, they’re meant to help others in need; and today, I felt a nudge to reach out to those who had miscarried or have had infertility issues.

This post is not for everyone, I understand that. Although, we all have our dark times in life: loss, poverty, addiction, abuse, divorce, or illness. I can’t say I’ve been there in all cases, but I can say, “My heart breaks for you; for I know what it feels like to suffer. You are not alone.”

It’s scary to open your book of life, let alone your heart to people, but maybe your story is just what someone needs to hear. “Never waste a hurt,” is what Pastor Rick Warren said during a message. And that is my purpose of this post. My hope is that you’ll feel loved, cared for, and will receive encouragement in one way or another. I give this post to God and ask Him to speak to you.

Infertility.

Miscarriage and infertility isn’t something that can be forgotten. It is a painful, difficult, and piercing experience. And some days…no matter how long it’s been since, no matter how young or old your baby was; you get a stir in your heart and fall to your knees and cry. I know I do. It’s okay to do that. You are not alone.

When this miscarriage happened, both my husband and I bled with heartbreak. We were confused, mad, and in disbelief. You hear it happen to other people but not you…not you. We walked around like zombies, not saying a word for days. With Christmas around the corner and a 2-year-old tugging at my robe…it was hard to put on the Christmas spirit.

In these tender days, I didn’t need to hear “it’s common”; I needed to hear, “It happened to me, I know what you’re going through”. Not a pep talk, not a statistic, but a down to earth connection with someone who understands, who’s been there.

How can I help those of you who have had infertility?

1. I want to hug you

First off, know I want to hug you. There is something powerful in the feeling of touch. I remember when I was pregnant with my son. The pregnancy tortured me with relentless nausea and vomiting. Hyperemesis gravidarum is what I had…unbelievable. Not only was my body under torment, but my mind was a mess, and I spiritually felt dead. All I wanted was to feel His presence. I cried out of desperation to feel better, to just get a few minutes of relief. One Sunday morning I felt the need to go to the church. Getting through the service without having to excuse myself was definitely on my mind. Standing to sing and worship was too difficult for me, I was so weak. This bothered me. Then something amazing happened.

When we went out to the coffee area after the service, I saw a friend of mine. For some reason, I walked directly towards her without saying a word. She then wrapped her arms around me and hugged me. No words were spoken, but I could feel Jesus hugging me. I remembered saying to myself while hugging her, “There you are Jesus. Where have you been?” I quietly heard him respond with, “I’ve been by your side the entire time.” My friend had no clue as to what was going on. She didn’t know Jesus used her at that moment. This experience taught me that Jesus can use anyone at any time! I SO needed that hug.

2. You are beautiful, healthy, and perfect

Secondly, you are beautiful, healthy, and perfect. You did nothing wrong. I can’t stress the number of times I blamed myself for not eating this or that, or for the time I went to the dentist, or for not taking a certain vitamin. Putting the blame on yourself is exactly what Satan wants you to do. He wants you to feel like you did this, when in fact, it was most likely him. Um, yeah. God doesn’t cause these things to happen, the Enemy does.

3. Write a letter

click to buy

Thirdly, write your child a letter. There were a lot of things I tried to comfort my broken heart and wounded soul. But one thing that really helped me was by writing my child a letter. There are times when I still do write a letter to them. As a mother, there is nothing sweeter than getting a note from her. I believe in my heart that my child gets these letters in heaven. On a side note, I also read the book, “Heaven is for Real“. This story brought me tremendous love and confidence in moving forward.

4. Bless your body

Fourthly, bless your body. This is something I didn’t do and I wished I would have done. All I did through my pregnancies full-term and losses, was curse my body. To me, my body was broken. In reality, my body was doing just what it was supposed to be doing; remember every body is different. Most importantly, comparing yourself to others is a lost cause. God made you to be different for many reasons, but most of all to bring glory to His kingdom. Use what God gave you, don’t curse it. Bless your body and all its parts. Simply say, “I bless my womb, I bless my ovaries, I bless my heart…”.

5. Keep praying

Lastly and most importantly, keep praying. The Lord is close to you even when you don’t feel Him. Talk to Him about how you feel. He loves you and will comfort you more than anything else in this world. Pray specifically and boldly in Jesus’s name. Ask for forgiveness of your sins, thank Him for all He’s given you, and pray for guidance. There is an app from Wild at Heart that has many prayers to help you. This is a free app. I, personally, love it. Simply go to the app store and type in: Wild at Heart. It looks like a burnt brown rectangle with white letters.

3 things I would have done differently

1. No more gluten!

If there were some things I would have done differently to help my body along I would have, first and foremost, I would have stopped eating gluten/wheat products. At the time I didn’t show signs of gluten sensitivity or a gluten allergy, but in 2017 I was diagnosed with colitis which lead to a confirmed test that my body was severely reacting to gluten. This article says some startling news about undiagnosed celiac disease and pregnancy, including infertility. Even though I didn’t have celiac, I still stay away from all gluten. Gluten is over-rated anyway, it is highly inflammatory and does a number on your digestive tract.

2. Fight Spiritually

The second thing I would have done differently was to put on my spiritual armor and fight off the Enemy. Frankly, I didn’t know how to fight off Satan with his lies and attacks. Many people ignore the spiritual realm; they either think it doesn’t exist or they think you’re a crazy person for talking about it. But it does exist, the Bible says so multiple times in the Gospels.

When fighting off the Enemy, his foul spirits, demons…and curses for that matter…you need to command them in the name of Jesus Christ to leave you. I know that sounds kind of whacky, but if there is light, there is darkness. After you command them to leave in the name of Jesus Christ, fill your spirit with God’s word and goodness. This isn’t a one-and-done type of deal, this can be a daily need. There are some great books I suggest for you to read if you want to learn more. Here’s a post I wrote with the books listed at the end: Claim Your Life Back: 7 Steps to Fight Spiritual Warfare

3. Help others

Thirdly, I would have focused more on helping others. There’s something about helping others when you’re in so much pain either with pregnancy complications, infertility, or miscarriage. Even though my physical strengthen couldn’t do much, I could have written people letters, made crafts for gifts, called friends, and talked about anything but the pain I was going through. There is healing in helping others. It takes the attention off you and puts it on someone else, which is love. And love heals.

You are amazing

No matter how many children you had or didn’t have on this earth, they are still your children. You will be reunited with them in heaven, you will hold them in your arms someday, and you will be all together. I do not know what you have gone through or what you are going through right this very moment. My hope is that this post helped you in some way or form to bring healing to your heart and soul. My hugs to you.

I want to pray for you. Please contact me through the contact page and tell me what I can pray for.

By CT Copyright © 2020 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved.

5 Valuable Ways to Manage Mental Wellness in Kids & Us

5 Valuable Ways to Manage Mental Wellness in Kids & Us

beach

My mental wellness plan started early in my years. I learned at a young age how to develop a relationship with nature. It’s not until later in life I realized how important that relationship was going to be. I’m sure you’re thinking ‘relationship with nature? That sounds weird, but what we’re addressing here is mental health and how to manage it. And nature was my #1 go-to, I also have four other incredible ways to tame the lion within ourselves and kiddos.

The beach

My toes were planted in wet sand. My arms stretched out as wind combed through my pigtails. “Let’s give them a show,” I said. I cleared my throat, threw up my hands, and orchestrated the waves as they crashed and rippled onto the beach. My mind was free, I had no stress, I played and used my creativity; I was happy. It was just me and the beach. No toys. No electronics. In fact, no one else was by me. It was a simple setting, yet a powerful one for my mental wellbeing.

The brain

National Geographic wrote, “Nature provides us essentials like clean water, food, medicines, even recreational retreats… it also helps regulate our weather and climate. But these systems are extremely fragile…we know that once they are gone, there are no replacements.” We didn’t need National Geographic to tell us this. However, isn’t that statement similar to our mental health? Our brains need clean water, good food, and recreational escapes to help normalize our well-being. If we don’t get these things, our minds, too, are fragile and will break.

Mental health issues shouldn’t be shrugged under the rug. We all have them! Sorry to break that news to you, but we do have our own mental poo; whether it’s addictions (large or small), obsessive-compulsive disorders, learning disabilities, anxiety, anger, hypochondria, social challenges, depression, PTSD, or what have you; we all have a touch of something, even your kids do too. Perfectionism doesn’t exist in this world. Now, don’t you feel better you’re not alone?

What can we do about it?

You’d think that we can either fix it or we can try to ignore it. But neither way works very well. What we need to do is manage it. Fixing it 100% doesn’t exist, it’s bound to surface again someday, and ignoring it is going to lead to other problems. Who needs more problems? Yet managing it helps us understand our triggers and how to handle them.

does a body good

My mental issue

My body has caused me a lot of grief in my life, from autoimmune hepatitis, hyperemesis gravidarum, bulging disc, miscarriage, colitis, torn ligaments, and nerve damage to name a few. These all have put a mental toll on me. It’s one thing if these ailments are short-lived, but they weren’t and are not. They go on and on. Anyone hear me out there? Some people just go with the flow, and boy, I admire those people. I honestly don’t know how they do it, hence, my mental issue. I’m just mad that my body can’t figure out the balance and I eat well and exercise. However, what I do know is that I’m driven to figure it out; that’s why you’ll see posts about health stuff every so often at Simplify Firefly. And maybe, it’s not my body that has the issue, but it’s my mind or spiritual health. Read this post about spiritual warfare…so good!

Maybe this will help you understand my madness, my dream as a kid was to have optimum health. Weird dream for a kid, but hey, I’m weird. At a young age, I wanted to be super healthy, strong, and run an Iron Man. I’ve been trying to work towards this since 1982 when I was doing Disney Mousercise in my driveway…basically aerobics to Disney tunes, and yes on a Boom box, I had the cassette version. But even at a young age, it was one blow after another, then another. However, I always had hope that I’d learn something new. The Lord gave me that light and helped me through and through. Oh, I love Him so much.

Acceptance

It has taken me years to accept my mental issue, but it’s clear as day to me as I look back on life and I can see how this all came to be. Believe me; my madness wasn’t helping my health at all. It was probably making it worse. A vicious cycle it was and still is if I ignore my mental state.

With that said, this is a journey friend. I still struggle with management today, but I’m determined to understand my root cause, which I know I’m getting closer to. I think that’s why I share so much because maybe someone has gone through the same kind of thing and we can help each other.

What’s next?

Probably the biggest step in helping ourselves and our children with mental health management is to digest that we have something going on. Upon discovery, many may experience anger at first, but others will feel relief that they finally figured a piece of the puzzle out. Does that make sense? All in all, when we can embrace it and understand it, we’ll have a better chance of managing it and living that amazing life we always envisioned. I may not run an Iron Man, but I’ll know a heck of a lot more about how my body works and why it does what it does.

Anger Management 101

I could end on that, but it’s important to reiterate that a ‘lack of understanding’ usually gets us upset in the first place. Why? Because we don’t understand! That’s why fights happen and judgments lash. We don’t know why people act the way they do, because we don’t live in their shoes. For all we know they could be sick, have a chronic illness, be abused, have social issues, or on drugs. And when we don’t know how to manage those things, a mess of emotions implodes and then explodes on others.

click for details

When we have an anger about something, we usually want to do something about it. I’m not talking about anger towards a person when you want to lash out at them for saying something stupid, that’s a different post. The anger I’m referring to is about how we react to either ourselves or a cause that affects other people. Some call it anger, others call is passion. You can take it a step further and call it uniqueness. There is this great book by Matthew Barnett, “The Cause Within You”. I highly recommend this book to not only inspire your own life but to motivate how to help others. Super good!

Moving forward

I’d have to say the majority of people try to ignore their mental state or try to numb it with something else like drugs, alcohol, shopping, or eating. Another route to managing our mindfulness includes prescription drugs and/or counseling. These are helpful ways if used correctly, but they can be pricy and scary for that matter. And what about the kids? As parents, we can teach our kids how to manage our ‘uniqueness’ in less complicated ways, of course depending on the severity.

*Disclaimer: For the record, I am not a therapist, nor am I trying to be one. These are things I have personally learned and wanted to share them with you. Please consult your physician before trying anything new, especially if you or your child is at risk of hurting themselves.*  

5 valuable and creative ways to help

Here are some creative ways to help you and your family manage our mental uniqueness.

1. Get outside

Remember that relationship with nature I started talking about? The National Academy of Sciences performed a study that shows a simple 90-minute walk in nature {a place with trees} decreases negative thinking about oneself. Taking a walk in an urban area like a city or industrial park has zero effect. This study reveals that there is a “…pathway by which nature experiences may improve mental well-being and suggests that accessible natural areas within urban contexts may be a critical resource for mental health…”

I don’t have 90 minutes to take a walk but I do have 20 minutes. Those 20 minutes are gold to me. My ideal walking area is to be around trees. For you, it might be the beach, the park, field, or mountains.

click for details

The University of Minnesota says there’s “a growing prevalence of depression caused by ‘nature deprivation’,” which is largely due to screen time… Push your kids outside. Show them how to get started with orchestrating the waves, climbing trees, building a fort out of sticks or snow. My favorite is to grab a camera (a camera separate from a phone) and ask for certain pictures to be taken. We had gotten one for our son and he absolutely loved it! He still goes back and looks at his pictures.

If nature goes away; so will our sanity.

2. Head to your hobby

A hobby can do loads for you. It keeps your hands busy and your mind focuses on being creative and being you! Kids love this! I wrote a post on hobbies with a list of different ones to try, check’r out!

3. Do something kind for your body.

Our bodies take most of the brunt from stress. So instead of cursing your body, bless it! As much as my body and mind are not getting along, I’m still kind to it. When you feel good, you are kinder to yourself and others around you. Do you need a run, a yoga session, a massage, a hot bath, a cup of tea on the couch? Do something that makes you feel better that is good and pure. This teaches kids how to pamper themselves when pampering is needed.

4. Eat foods for your brain

Food matters! Your brain needs fats, the good fats. And getting the clean kind in your body helps your body and brain fight off free radicals…those are the guys that destroy the good stuff. Here is a post about Omega Oils that will help you out. And don’t forget the avocados. I’ve got a great recipe here.

5. Journal

click for details

I know this sounds like old news, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Journaling works. When our thoughts are written down on paper, more so than typed, it’s like you’ve given permission to let the hurt get out of you. Write about your journey and what you’re trying to do to help. Put down what is working and what is definitely not working! Put in what you’re grateful for too. Not all journaling needs to be venting, having a flip side to things to healthy. Journaling is a great exercise to help kids express their emotions yet feel like they have some privacy. Plus it’s fun to shop for their very own journal. Another idea is to check out this workbook specifically for anger management. It will you guys understand each other.

For more ideas, this post from Mental Health America is a good one!

Taking little steps here and there are strides for our health both body and especially mind. Show your kids how to do it. You’ll be helping yourself and teaching your family. Win-Win!

By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly All Rights Reserved.

How Cookie Dough Gave Me Super Powers – Plus Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe!

How Cookie Dough Gave Me Super Powers – Plus Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe!

“You let this little thing tell you what to do?” – Diana (Wonder Woman)

Tears streamed down my cheeks. “Dear God, how am I going to do this? I have too much going on…too many hats to wear: Christmas shopper, decorator, home manager, wife, mom, personal banker, blogger, volunteer, and now a student?”

I enjoy these many hats, I really do! But this December I got carried away. I had a hard time sleeping, completing a thought, and taking care of my own physical ailments. I felt like I just existed. Don’t get me wrong it had its fun times with family and friends; but there were challenging, brain-draining, and humbling realities scattered throughout the month.

Recipe below, plus where I get the special ingredients.

Wonder Woman Activate

During the second full week in December, my expectations for myself were stupidly unrealistic. Not only did I have the usual Christmas preparations and home duties, but I started an online class! WHAT? “Wonder Woman Activate!” I would say to myself. “Wonder Woman Activate!” I pictured this tall, confident, strong woman with fists on hips seamlessly do everything with a smile and wind blowing through her hair.

“Wonder Woman Activate! I can do this.” Then out of nowhere, a hawk landed on the back deck. Was this a sign? BARK! Bark, bark, bark! My dog saw the hawk… I snapped out of my dream. There I stood looking outside. My eyes stung. My arms crossed. And a golf ball size knot grew in the nook of my neck.

“Wonder Woman Active”, came out of my mouth like a broken record. My mantra did not work.

I found myself on my knees. My dog looked at me and knew what was ahead, annnnnd…yup…there it is.

Tears streamed down my cheeks. I stretched my neck from side to side and bowed my head with fingers intertwined, “Dear God. Help. Help me manage all this.” After a few minutes of “sob-fest”, I sat there on my knees. It felt good to take a breather. Real good. So I gave myself a time-out. I stood up and walked to the kitchen. My praying hands unfolded and tied the strings to my apron. A deep breath filled my lungs as I closed my eyes to envision my ‘go-to’ recipe… Christy’s Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Allergen-free Chocolate Chips. These taste better than ‘real’ chocolate chips.

Wonder Twins

As my hands got busy, my tangled world loosened up just enough to welcome in some wandering. A heaping cup of flour, a pinch of salt, and a few hardy shakes of cinnamon were ready to be mixed. The beaters spun. My brain zoned in on the mesmerizing hand mixer. The hum of the beaters, the swirl of the dough, and the smell of sweetness filled my senses. Then it was as if time clicked into slo-mo. Thunk-a, thunk-a, thunk-a. Each beater spun with poise. Each beater focused on the job. Together they mixed the ingredients with accuracy. I watched them work. Thunk-a, thunk-a, thunk-a. Wait for a second…I watched them work. All of a sudden I was back in the Hall of Justice! This time I wasn’t looking to utilize the powers of Wonder Woman, but of the Wonder TWINS!

My “Wonder Woman Activate” affirmation was wrong. I laughed out loud about my realization, my confusion. Let’s try this: “Wonder TWINS Activate!”

I quickly found a picture online of the Wonder Twins. Oh my gosh! Remember Gleek the monkey? Zan and Jayna’s purple bodysuits? Whoa…I have Jayna’s same haircut!

While cleaning the cookie dough bowl…with my finger…I still laughed about the superhero mix-up. As I detached the infamous dough-draped beaters my thoughts went back to my reality. What was I trying to prove with this juggling of hats? That I could do it all? That I could be that strong woman who holds everything together?

A blow to the gut

For one last lick, I swiped my finger in the umbrella of the beater. As I was enjoying the flavors I felt a brick hit my stomach, not because of the raw cookie dough, but because I understood my madness.

I was trying to achieve all these things to prove to myself that I could do it all. And do it…all…by…myself. Why?

It was at that moment realized there was a little something telling me what to do…i. The very letter that is in the center of pride, anxiety, and exist! Pride was getting in my way. Anxiety was stealing my joy. To just ‘exist’ was sabotaging my goals. I was holding me BACK!

It wasn’t the tasks I needed to manage; it was my motive that needed attention.

What did I do next? Five things.

  1. I asked God for clarity and perspective.
  2. I found my Wonder Twin. And called on them when needed; whether to physically help, to listen, or to be my cheerleader. “Wonder Twins Activate!”
  3. Took things one small step at a time, step, by step, by step.
  4. Made time to hang with my family and put aside the “I”.
  5. Gave myself permission to take a time-out every once in a while and baked cookies.

gluten-free chocolate chip cookie recipe
Print

Christy’s Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Soy-free chocolate chip cookies
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword chocolate, cookies, dairy-free, gluten-free, low-fat, nut-free, soy-free
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 11 minutes
Total Time 23 minutes
Servings 10 cookies
Calories 145kcal
Cost $3.00 for batch

Equipment

  • Glass mixing bowl
  • Handmixer
  • Measuring cup
  • Measuring spoons
  • Cookie sheet
  • Parchment Paper
  • Wooden spoon

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Coconut Oil do not melt
  • 1/4 cup Brown Sugar do not pack down
  • 1/4 cup Cane Sugar
  • 1 egg Prefer organic egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 cup King Arthur's Gluten-Free Baking Mix Baking mix. Use a heaping cup.
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips Mini These are allergy-free, read package.

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 370. Tear a sheet of parchment paper and put it over the cookie sheet.
  • Add the coconut oil, brown sugar, and cane sugar to glass mixing bowl and mix with hand mixer until mixed together
  • Add egg, vanilla, and apple cider vinegar. Mix until together
  • In a separate bowl, add a heaping cup of King Arthur's Gluten-Free Baking Mix, salt, and cinnamon. Hand mix with a fork.
  • Gradually combine both bowls while mixing with the hand mixer. Mix until all together.
  • Fold in Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips Mini with a wooden spoon.
  • Scoop dollops of dough about the size of the wooden spoon and place on the cookie sheet. Allow 1-2 inches between dollops.
  • Place the cookie sheet in the oven and set the timer for 11 minutes.
  • While cookies are baking, clean-up the dishes. Please don't eat raw cookie dough due to the egg. We don't need tummy aches.
  • When cookies are done, slowly transfer them to a cooling rack if you have one. Otherwise, remove the cookies from the cookie sheet in a minute.
    gluten-free chocolate chip cookies

Notes

Calorie count is a guesstimate for one cookie when baked. It depends on the size of the cookie. Also the cost of the batch of cookies is also an estimate.

For the remainder of the month, my Wonder Twin and I worked together. We joked as we cooked meals, we encouraged each other to manage the house, we were present with each other, and we played games with our son and dog.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work…” Ecclesiastes 4:9

This past December taught me something unexpected; my real superpower came from putting the “I” aside.

The cookies I baked that day didn’t last long. In fact, I made another batch that coming weekend. Who knew cookie dough would be so powerful?

Here are some of the ingredients I use for my cookie recipe. Don’t forget to use a glass mixing bowl! Plastic bowls have a tendency to add unwanted flavors to the cookie dough, plus there are chances of chemicals or plastic leaching into your delicious cookies. I use these, click on the picture below for more details.

Click on the picture for nutrition information and details.

Click on the picture below for ingredient information and more details.

By CT Copyright © 2018 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved.

Tree Facts, Terms, & Fun: Plus 4 Tips

Tree Facts, Terms, & Fun: Plus 4 Tips

With global warming on the rise, there IS something we can do about it. Plant more trees! Trees gobble up all those bad emissions, they actually filter the air. They also help clean our water, and provide so much for us, humans, to survive and thrive. One of my favorite things to do in giving back is to plant a tree and take care of it.

A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

tree
This is Bruce the Blue Spruce, a tree from my little ‘farm’.

My childhood was surrounded by trees. That’s probably why I love them so much. They were my friends when I didn’t have anyone to play with, they were my listener when no one else would listen, and they were my entertainment when I didn’t want to watch TV.

No, I’m not a major tree hugger. But I do my part. In fact, on my vision board, I have a ‘tree farm’. About five years ago I started my own little tree farm in our backyard. I bought pots, dirt, and saplings of Blue Spruce, Douglas Fir, White Pine, Sugar Maples, and Burr Oak. There has been so much joy in watching are caring for my tree-babies. In the Spring I would sell them for a discount. And I’m happy to say they are all now in their forever homes. Note: we live on less than an acre, so if you have any kind of space, you can do this too!

A few tree facts & benefits

Click to go to Amazon

Trees have many benefits, they reduce air pollution, enrich habitats, bring beauty to the eye, shelter us, provide food, provide material, and comfort us in many ways. The book, The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben, is a must-have! Did you know trees communicate with others through their root system? That they ‘scream’ when they need water? Even if you don’t have an interest in trees, you will after you read this book!

There are about 3 to 6 billion trees cut down globally per year. That’s a lot of trees! No wonder our atmosphere is so polluted. Mahatma Gandhi has a valid point, “What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.”  Again, if you asked me what would reverse global warming, let alone our own well-being, I’d say to plant trees! This is such a simple task with huge rewards. And it’s incredibly EASY!

Tree terminology: Get to know the lingo

When talking about trees there are a few words you might want to familiarize yourself with. Here are the most common terms you’ll run into; ‘thank you, to the State of Maine’ for this reference.

  • Conifer: Cone bearing trees; the “evergreens”. I get this messed up with Deciduous all the time!
  • Crown [of the tree]: Branches, twigs, buds, leaves, flowers, and fruit. This is the big part on top.
  • Deciduous [leaves]: All leaves drop in the autumn; not evergreen. Think of ‘dead’, as in dead leaves, to remember this one.
  • Fruit: The seed-bearing part of a tree
  • Habitat: The place where a plant usually grows, for example, dry, wet, rocky.
  • Hardwood: Term used to describe all broadleaved trees. These tree species are deciduous, retaining their leaves only one growing season.
  • Inner bark: Conducts usable food from the leaves to the cambium (tree cells) to nourish it or to storage areas in the wood.
  • Leaf: Stalk and blade of hardwoods: needles and scales of conifers.
  • Leaflets: Smaller leaf units or leaflets which together form a compound leaf.
  • Outer bark: The area of the tree trunk composed of dead cells. It insulates and protects inner tissues from disease infections and drying.
  • Photosynthesis: This is the process that occurs in the leaves. From energy produced by sunlight, the leaves combine carbon dioxide from the air and water from the soil to produce carbohydrates. Oxygen is released in the process. Carbohydrates plus fats and proteins are the plant foods necessary for growth and respiration of the tree.
  • Roots: Root hairs absorb water and mineral salts from the soil. Larger roots anchor the tree and store nitrogen and carbohydrates.
  • Softwood: Term used to describe all needle-leaved trees. These species are typically evergreen, retaining their leaves through two or more growing seasons.
  • Trunk: The main body of the tree.
Source: maine.gov/dacf/mfs/projects/fall_foliage/kids/glossary.html

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4 Tips with Planting Trees

1. Give it significance

Plant a tree to represent an important time in your life. You’ll take better care of it knowing there is symbolism behind it. In fact, I’ve been known to give my trees a fun name, like Bruce the Spruce, my son named a Maple, Kevin. We have a lot of fun with it!

2. Plant properly

When planting a tree in the ground, make sure to dig a wide hole and only as deep as the pot. Carefully remove the tree from the pot and spread out the roots. Cover with dirt and then a 2-inch layer of mulch. Water the tree every day for two weeks. And wrap the trunk in the cold winter months to protect it from sunscald and rodents. Do this until it’s big enough to thrive on its own, probably when the trunk is at a 4-5 inch diameter. You can download my tree activity printable for all the instructions. Go here to get it.

3. Get a tree

click for Amazon

Don’t know where to get a tree? Try a local nursery and opt for native trees, trees that thrive in their environment. For instance, White Spruce is a native tree to Michigan, but Blue Spruce is native to Colorado. Your local conservation office should have trees to buy. You can also get a tree on Amazon! Seriously, you can get a Sugar Maple and many other types of trees.

4. Check out Arbor Day Foundation

Go to the Arbor Day Foundation for more facts and information about trees. If you need to purchase some trees, they can handle that too. Or you can make a small donation and they’ll send you free trees as a thank you. They have loads of information in caring for your tree. Don’t have a place to plant? No problem. The Arbor Day Foundation is happy to accept donations, they will then plant trees where desperately needed.

Trees are the best monuments that a man can erect to his own memory. They speak his praises without flattery, and they are blessings to children yet unborn.

Lord Orrery, 1749

Let’s make the world a better place for ourselves and for future generations. Make Earth Day every day in some way or form. Don’t forget to get your tree printable for your kids! It’s super fun and educational. Get it here on Etsy.

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