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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Down the Rabbit Hole

The computer is my greatest tool of efficiency, but the computer is my number one distraction in life.

If you are near my age (39), you remember the days without computers. You remember the days before the Internet and email. You remember that if you wanted to communicate with a friend or relative out of state, you had to either write them a letter or pay long-distance charges for a phone call. You remember doing research at the library. You had to drive to the library and then physically pull books off the shelf. You probably had a set of encyclopedias at home. We did. I loved them. Those were the days.

But I wouldn't trade them. Indeed, it cannot be disputed that the advent of the computer has greatly improved our lives. Even if I complain about certain technologies, I am no Luddite. I read a quote the other day by an 80-year-old man, on a site which I frequent. He said that if he had had that particular site back when he was preparing his dissertation, it would have shaved one year off the process. I think we can all agree that this invention called the personal computer has greatly increased our efficiency.

With a computer, I can pay my bills online. I can even set up automatic payments, saving myself time and energy. I can set up elaborate spreadsheets to keep track of my expenses and budget categories. I have the dictionary and encyclopedias at my fingertips. Looking things up online is faster than the old fashioned way of flipping through pages. I can have a meeting with several people, without having to leave my home. I can share pictures with all my friends and relatives instantly—no more stamping envelopes!

But with all the ways that this computer age has enhanced my life, it brings with it many temptations. I find myself drawn to check my Facebook feed dozens of times a day. When I send an email, I can’t seem to be patient, waiting on the reply. I check my Inbox every few minutes to see if the reply has come in—which I know is just ridiculous. With the incredible volume of information at my fingertips, I find that time is too easily wasted researching things like craft projects to do with my kids. Or, truth be told, I just plain get lost looking at funny memes.

And I chose to start a business (this blog) that would require me to be on the computer all the time and promote on social media! Why?

Last summer, I started a new habit of taking a computer-free break, once a week. I really enjoyed it. At the time, I had no thoughts of starting this blog back up.  But when I did start it back up last August, I convinced myself that I needed to be on the computer every day and on social media all the time, promoting the blog. I told myself that it was okay to be on social media all the time, because it was for business.  So, I stopped the computer-break habit.  I see now that I need to get back to that.  It just felt good.  On a side note, even though I was on Facebook daily for my blog, I did break the habit of feeling the need to see everything. I used to browse my feed all the way down to where I had left off the time before. I always felt like I was missing out on something. I did the same thing with Pinterest. Now I know I am missing out on a lot, and I’m okay with that, but it’s still far too easy for me to get distracted with commenting and liking people’s random posts.  (So, if I missed a post of yours--or many--now you know why.)  :)

I think, for the health of my soul, I need to get back to my regular break day from computers.

When I get on the computer, nine times out of ten, I check my email and Facebook first and then forget what I originally got on the computer for. I really feel like Alice, falling down the rabbit hole, or rather being sucked down, and then I go chasing after the white rabbit, looking up things I never intended to look up. I start scrolling through my Facebook feed and get in a daze. I sit there and think that I really need to stop, but find it really, really difficult. Then I’ll finally shut my laptop and realize I never looked up what I got on the computer to look up in the first place! C’mon, you know you do the same thing.

I read Crystal Paine’s new book and it was so great. She explained how she just had to get off of Facebook altogether, and she pays someone to post on social media for her blog (that would be really nice to be in that position). She explained how we all have 168 hours each week. I wonder how many of those I’m wasting on frivolous computer usage, when I could be writing (notice how I haven’t posted much to this blog lately?).

I notice that when I do take the break from the computer, it helps me reset, refresh, and refocus. Things pop into my mind that I would like to look up on the computer, but since it’s a no-computer day, I write them down on a list. Eventually, my mind starts to focus more on the present and more on real life. I usually do some re-prioritizing, in my mind, on those days about things that are most important to me and my family. Spending too many days on end, in computer land, for me, ends up being a life of putting out little fires, never fanning the big fire that needs to be burning. I just end up taking care of all the little tasks, but never accomplishing my big goals.

Now, something that helps me on the days I am on the computer (and I have recently become more diligent about this) is keeping a list of my computer-related tasks. It’s been a huge help. Before I sit down to the computer, before I open my laptop, I write down a list of what I intend to do online. Even the seemingly trivial things—reply to Suzie, email Jane, request Magic Tree House books for my daughter on the library website, watch Weird Al’s new music video, pay bills, place food co-op order—I write it all down. It doesn't matter if it’s trivial, it doesn't matter if it’s small, it doesn't even matter if it’s a productive item (hey, watching a Weird Al music video with my kids is good bonding), if I write it down, I’m being deliberate. And when I've completed the tasks on my list, I close the computer. I don’t allow myself to browse around if it’s not something on the list. Those are the times I feel good. I feel accomplished and I don’t feel like the computer is eating up my time.

If you have the same issue I've described, put a Post-It note on your screen with these words: WHAT ARE YOU DOING? WRITE IT DOWN. I had to do that until it became habit. I used the sticky note program that came installed on my computer and just increased the size until it filled up the whole desktop and increased the font size so it was nice and large—the better to get my attention.

(This is a screenshot of my computer desktop with an enlarged sticky note.)

Another good tip, one I don’t do often, but have heard works for friends, is to use a timer. I do allow myself to just veg on Pinterest from time to time.  And that's okay.  I have come to terms with the fact that I will never complete 99 percent of what I post on Pinterest, but it just feels good to pin things like quilt patterns, crochet patterns, and craft ideas. In this case, it would be good for me to set a timer. I usually just gauge it by something else going on in the house at the time. I only veg like that on a weekend or late in the evening, and then only if my husband is engrossed in something himself. So, when he stops whatever activity he’s involved in, I take the cue that it’s time to put the computer down.  And I usually don't allow myself to get lost in Pinterest land more than about once a week.  (I used to LOVE Pinterest, but I think when I started up this blog, I realized there weren't enough hours in the day and I broke the habit.)

Sometimes I admit it is hard to stay focused on longer activities on the computer, like writing this article.  (And I hope you're still reading it!)  I've heard there are apps available to block you from Facebook and other time wasters while you’re working.  I haven’t tried those yet.

What about our kids? Many people think the young generation is hopelessly lost to their devices. It’s become a popular punishment to ground teens from their phones and we are usually telling our kids they're spending too much time glued to their screens. But I thought about this and I’m not sure I agree. We did the same thing when we were kids, but it was with a television or a rotary phone—with a really long coiled cord. I watched a lot of television as a kid and I spent hours on the phone with my friends. Teens need social connection; they’re doing it now with FaceTime and Instant Messaging, but it’s really no different than it was in my day.  Is it any worse for them?

I think the question needs to be, are they addicted? Do they slough chores to use their devices? Do they sulk and pout at the idea of spending time with the family without their phone?  When they get together with friends, are all faces directed at a device?  Or are they spending real face-to-face time, actually talking with their friends?

I don’t believe my children have screen issues. And that’s why I’m not going to ask them to participate with me on a weekly no-computer day. Maybe it’s because we homeschool and they’re not quite as involved with their iPods as their fellow traditional-school counterparts.  Perhaps the majority of kids out there do have a problem that needs curbing.  I just don't see it here in my home.  My teenager has no interest in starting up a Facebook account.  He frequents YouTube to post videos for his friends to watch and to watch tutorials on Van Halen guitar solos.  I am fine with that.  It is productive as it furthers his hobby: guitar.  He plays Minecraft with his friends, but again, that's a social outlet.  My daughter, who is almost 9, loves The Legend of Zelda.  She gets an allotment of game time each day for that.  And she texts and does FaceTime chats with her best friend.  They both know they have to do chores each day before recreational activities.  They neither one give me attitude about that.  They know that schoolwork comes first, during the school year.  (I'm not saying they're perfect; I do have to tell them to put the iPods away from time to time, during school.)  They eagerly put down the devices to spend family time playing a game or reading a book or watching a movie together.  And when they get together with their friends, they have real interactions.  I hope that as my children grow up they will just view computers as another appliance in the house, like a television, and use it effectively.

I wonder if our grandparents viewed the television as this big time waster when it entered homes back in the ‘50s? Granted, at first, there were few shows to watch, but as programming increased, there were doubtless numbers of housewives hooked on soap operas and wasting time now that this "evil box" was in their house. Families started spending more time in the evenings staring forward at their favorite shows, rather than being together. Today, many people waste countless hours watching television. The studies have shown us the numbers. But there are plenty of people out there like myself who rarely ever turn the television on. We enjoy family movie night together and usually watch one show a week. We've never considered putting time limits on our television, or declaring a no-television day, because none of us have a problem with that particular screen. I don’t think my husband or my kids have issues with computers, so I don’t see the need to do time limits or unplugged days for them.

As I mentioned above, I do put time limits on my daughter's video game play.  We did the same when my son was little.  We teach our kids that you need balance in your life.  It’s just not healthy to spend all day on a video game. We only just recently decided to take the time restraints off our son to see if he is mature enough to decide an appropriate amount of game play on his own. He’s 14 and I don’t want him to feel limited all his growing up years and then go crazy with video game time when he heads off to college. He made some poor time decisions at first, but I think he’s keeping it to a decent level on average. Video games, television, and computers can all be addictive things, but so can sugar. If we let the reins out in a few areas, while our kids are still in the safe confines of our home, we will be able to see if they show addictive tendencies, and if so, help them deal with that issue.

I see that the devices themselves are not the problem, it's us.  If we recognize that we have issues controlling our time or focus, then screens can be a health problem--a health problem for the soul.  What does that mean?  Here at All Things Health, we believe in a balance of all areas: spirit, soul, and body.  The things which affect our soul health are relationship issues, financial issues, addiction issues like the one mentioned, stress, anxiety, depression, and more.  So, eat right, but don't forget to address the health of your soul!

What do you think? Do you take breaks from screens in your house? Do you put time limits on yourself or your kids? I’d like to hear from you. Leave a comment below, or join the conversation on Facebook.

Photo credits:
Laptop -Extra Ketchup via photopin cc
White Rabbit - public domain
Girl on Laptop -"PictureYouth" via photopin cc

Disclosure: This post contains links to products for which I am an affiliate. The product price does not change; each company just gives me a commission as a thank-you. This is a way I support this blog and am able to bring you free content. I only endorse products I use or would use. Thank you for your support through your purchase of these products!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Fun in the Sun with Essential Oils

I created this graphic to remind everyone about the particular oils that will make your skin sensitive to sunlight: angelica, bergamot, German chamomile, grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange, and tangerine.  Also be aware of the blends that contain these oils.

But I also wanted to share the good news that carrot seed oil has a natural SPF of 38-40!  That's amazing, if you ask me!  Mix it with some coconut oil.  I've also heard that some get by with just coconut oil and lavender.

If you do get sunburned, lavender is great for healing!

Get your vitamin D, but stay safe!  And stay away from chemical sunblock products!

Want to know more about essential oils?  Drop me a line.  You can sign up for my essential oil newsletter here:

Feel free to share this graphic.  I just ask that you do not remove my website name.  The photo credit goes to Horia Varlan via photopin cc, but I did alter with my text.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Educate Yourself About Essential Oils

Do you want to learn more about essential oils?  There are a number of great books available just for that purpose.  Here are my recommendations.

Disclosure: This post contains links to products for which I am an affiliate. The product price does not change; each company just gives me a commission as a thank-you. This is a way I support this blog and am able to bring you free content. I only endorse products I use or would use. Thank you for your support through your purchase of these products!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Know Thyself

Can we truly know ourselves? The Greeks thought so, but Benjamin Franklin disagreed. In Poor Richard’s Almanack, he wrote, “There are three Things extreamly hard, Steel, a Diamond, and to know one’s self.”

Well, I may not know myself thoroughly, but I am learning more every day. Of late, I have learned that I cannot spin very many plates at once. I wrote about spinning plates back in October. That was when I was getting ready to go on a vacation with my family and felt the need to schedule multiple posts on the blog, and on Facebook, and I was in the middle of an editing project, too. I have learned that I can only really focus well on a couple things at a time.

Why? Why did I pile all that on myself—that is the truth of it, I didn’t have to do most of those things, but I felt I had to. And it made for a stressful start to my vacation.

I started this blog back up last August and wanted to share my message and heart with people. My plan was to keep the posts simple and not overwork myself. I also knew from previous experience (with the same blog) that I couldn’t keep at it unless I was making some money with it. So, I joined a network where I hoped to learn about how to monetize and gain advertisers and such. What I ended up doing was comparing myself to all these other bloggers (which can be a good thing and can propel you to greater heights) and seeing that I should polish my posts more, create better content, always attach good graphics to posts, include my blog name on the graphics, set up a schedule to share on Facebook often, pin to Pinterest regularly, setup a newsletter subscriber list, regularly send email newsletters, join numerous affiliate programs, network with other bloggers to spread my content, and on and on and on.

While those are all good things, and I have learned so much, I cannot be a web manager, graphic artist, writer, editor, accountant, marketing executive, SEO specialist, social media organizer, and more, with the amount of time and money at my disposal.

I know many think that blogging is easy and fun and it can be if you don’t care about growing a following and making money for the time you invest. I know some don’t think that bloggers should make money. To that, I will say, time is money. There are few who have the luxury of spending hours and hours doing an activity for free. And to keep up with a blog, it takes many more hours than you can imagine.

So, this explains to you all why I haven’t posted on here since February. Don’t worry, I won’t be completely closing up shop. I plan to post from time to time on here as I have things to share. I want to share things from my heart, rather than just coming up with content intended to grow my list of followers.  If it grows, it grows; if it doesn't, then oh well.

I have some plans in place for summer. First is to relax and enjoy the time off of homeschooling. Second, is to spend quality time with my kids. I’ve got some fun books, movies, and possibly a museum trip in the works. I have my own list of books to read for a literature class I’ll be teaching this fall at our homeschool co-op. I will also focus more of my energy on my essential oil business, because it pays better than this blog. My heart is to see people get well, and these oils are doing amazing things for people. I will keep my Facebook page up, but won’t be posting daily. And I will blog in my spare time.

I don’t regret starting this blog back up. I have learned so much, have met some great, new friends, have been able to bless people through giveaways (I would love to do that again this coming Christmas), and have been eating better—that’s partly because I feel accountable to you all and partly because I was starting to experience some weird food issues. I posted about that on Facebook. I will transfer that here for those who may have missed it.

Do you feel like you have too much going on? Stress does bad things to your body. I can attest to that. I used to look up to Crystal Paine (owner of MoneySavingMom.com) because she was younger than me, had two small children at home, yet seemed to have her house and business in order. I remember when she had her little boy and moved into a nice home that her and her husband had scrimped and saved for and paid cash for per the Dave Ramsey plan. I was impressed. I thought if she could do it, I could do it. I thought it must not take that many hours to keep up with the blog if she could manage it being pregnant with two little ones under foot. And her blog was bringing in over a million hits a month!

Well, appearances can be deceiving. Crystal writes in her new book, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode: 9 Simple Strategies to Stress Less, Sleep More, and Restore Your Passion for Life, that she was working 30 to 40 hours per week and driving herself into the ground. On top of being sleep deprived, she was incredibly stressed out with her business. She says that she started having weird health problems. Every two to three weeks, she was bedridden for a few days with a high fever, headache, and intense pain throughout her body. Does any of this sound familiar? I certainly hope you’re not bedridden every couple weeks, but stress could be manifesting itself differently for you. For me, it comes out as dermatitis, depression, and lately some food issues that could possibly be histamine related. I named this blog All Things Health because I believe we should focus on spirit, soul, and body, and there are many subcategories of those three main headings, but I almost think stress is almost THE most important topic to address. Almost. I will have to share more on that later. For now, get this book. It is really good. I think it is going to change many lives.

I know some of you have looked up to me, thinking I'm a Superwoman for all that I accomplish.  Let me just be honest here, there are many things that I let go.  We each can only handle so much, and so this is going to be a season for me to reconfigure some priorities in my life.  Do you need to stop and do some restructuring?  I'm telling you, this book may be just what you need, to help sort out and focus on what's important.  It's really helping me.

Disclosure: This post contains links to products for which I am an affiliate. The product price does not change; each company just gives me a commission as a thank-you. This is a way I support this blog and am able to bring you free content. I only endorse products I use or would use. Thank you for your support through your purchase of these products!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

My Azure Co-op Order

It's been hectic around here, lately.  My grandma is in from out of town.  So blogging has taken a back seat.  But that's okay.  Family comes first, right?

I did want to share with you all what I ordered from Azure Standard.  I love that I have an Azure Standard drop point in my town.  They have such great prices.

  • I bought a gallon of apple cider vinegar (you can see that I already used some of that before taking this picture).
  • I bought a package of quinoa.  I tried it many years ago, but it seems there are so many good quinoa recipes out there now, I thought I would give it another try.
  • I bought a package of parsley flakes so I can make a healthy version of ranch dressing.
  • I bought some stevia packets for my coffee and tea (which I've actually been drinking less and less lately).
  • I bought a jar of Bubbie's delicious kosher dill pickles and a jar of Bubbie's sauerkraut--that stuff is delicious and so full of great probiotics!
  • Not pictured is the beef I bought, that did not come from Azure, but from a local cattle rancher.  Grass-fed longhorn cattle.  It's delicious!
  • And pictured, in the back, is a gallon of raw honey, but it's not from Azure either.  It's from a local producer that meets us at our Azure drop point.

Do you have an Azure Standard drop point in your town?  What are your favorite items to buy from them?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

January Link Love

Another month has passed.  I hope you all are keeping warm.  We've sure had strange weather this year, snow in Atlanta and record warm temperatures in Alaska!  My grandmother is coming to visit from Alaska, and I'm betting it will be colder here in Oklahoma, during her visit, than where she lives.  I enjoy snow, but I have to say I'm looking forward to spring.  I just love the green buds and flowers everywhere.

This has been a good month on the blog.  You all viewed my posts almost 7,000 times!  Thank you!  My most popular posts were two recipes from previous months:

Breakfast in a Jar
Homemade Hummus Dip

And I published a great cookbook this month!  Check it out!

My fellow bloggers were kind enough to include some of my recipes in their round-up posts this month.  Check those out here!

And here are my favorite posts from others this month:

This is a hot topic with me.  I think it is super important to look into and most of us are not getting enough magnesium.  I like this brand of magnesium flakes.  You can make your own magnesium oil with them.  Purchase here.

I wasn't sure what this article was going to be about, but I think Monica is right on target.  Environmental toxins around us are disrupting the way the body is supposed to function, including maintaining a healthy weight.

I know some of you are looking for a recipe that doesn't use borax.  Well, here it is!  This recipe calls for castile soap.  I really like Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds.  It is much more concentrated than the other Dr. Bronner's castile soaps.  Purchase it here.

And of course, we can't forget food!

          This one is Paleo, gluten free, grain free, and dairy free!
          I almost always add caraway seeds to mine.  I just like how they taste.  Now I know the benefits!
          Have I mentioned I love cream-based soups?
          I am going to try this recipe.  It really looks easy and one of my New Year goals was to get away from packaged condiments.

I hope you enjoy these articles as I have!

To ensure you never miss out on a post, subscribe to our email newsletter!  We promise not to spam you or give away your address to any other entity.

Disclosure: This post contains links to products for which I am an affiliate. The product price does not change; each company just gives me a commission as a thank-you. This is a way I support this blog and am able to bring you free content. I only endorse products I use or would use. Thank you for your support through your purchase of these products!

Related Articles:
December Link Love

November Link Love

October Link Love

Thursday, January 23, 2014

95+ Healthy Breakfast Recipes

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and I believe it!  I have to have a quality breakfast to start my day.

What do you eat for breakfast?  My main purpose with this blog is to help you ditch packaged food and cook from scratch.  And I know it's easy to choose packages items for breakfast, because we're all so rushed these days--got to get the kids to school, have to rush out the door to work.

But I implore you--start your day with quality, healthy food!  Ditch those boxed cereals, packaged granola bars, protein bars, and drink mixes (like Carnation Instant Breakast).  And guess what, the equivalent items at the health food store--they're not so healthy.

Since I can only create and post recipes so fast (which isn't very), I thought I would share some great breakfast recipes from my favorite bloggers.  I thought I would share about 95 recipes!  There are recipes here for everyone, whether you like grains, eggs, bacon, or are gluten free.  There are even a few Paleo and GAPS recipes included.  These recipes are ALL real food recipes.  I think I only noticed ONE that includes refined sugar and that is for a glaze--you could opt to omit it.  I hope you enjoy these recipes, and I hope I have inspired you to eat healthy breakfasts!

An awesome list of over 95 healthy breakfast recipes!

Are you new to real food?  Do you wonder what whole food is?  Do you find it confusing to know what's healthy and what's not?  I like to follow this motto: If God made it, it's healthy; if man has messed with it, it's not.  Plain and simple.  Read more of my thoughts on this here.

Note: I am not gluten free and as such may have put a recipe in that category that does not belong.  I did my best.  It is up to every individual on a gluten-free diet to know what ingredients you can handle.

Before we start, I have to recommend my Nourishing Fruit Smoothie recipe!  And my Breakfast in a Jar!  That is one of my favorites.  I make it all the time.  I love it with blueberries!  And now for the recipes from other bloggers...


(Okay, I REALLY need a Vitamix now!)

Egg Dishes


Grain Based
Some of these call for white flour (I recommend unbleached), some call for whole wheat; some are soaked recipes, some are not.

Gluten Free

Meat Based

Veggie Based


And if this isn't enough, check out my friend Lydia's awesome list, over at Divine Health From The Inside Out - 40 Healthy Breakfast Ideas.  Or Lauren's over at Mindful Meals - 7 Easy Breakfasts.  Or Jolene's Week of Breakfast Ideas over at Yummy Inspirations!

And here are some book recommendations:

Disclosure: This post contains links to products for which I am an affiliate. The product price does not change; each company just gives me a commission as a thank-you. This is a way I support this blog and am able to bring you free content. I only endorse products I use or would use. Thank you for your support through your purchase of these products!