‘Tis the Season…

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In the midst of all of the hustle and bustle this holiday season, I find myself reminded time and again about what really matters to me.

When I see the man ringing the bell for the Salvation Army and I am fortunate enough to have a few extra dollars to put in the pot; the person in line behind me at the store lending a helping hand when I drop something, then wishing me a happy holiday; or my son singing “Jingle Bells” and reciting lines he remembers from “The Night Before Christmas”…I am filled with immense joy and gratitude.

My wish for all of you this holiday season, is that you, too, find these moments of abundance. May we all be reminded that love is the only thing that really matters. Love for one another, for family and friends we are fortunate enough to be surrounded by. Most of all, I hope that you and yours have a Very Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah! See you next year!

Love,
Jen
Sassafras Mommy

Tilling at Windmills

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I am not having the best morning, week or month, for that matter. There are so many things bothering me, that it would be impossible to single out one thing causing this funk. In the moment, it seems like all kinds of little annoyances are the culprit. But that’s not what all of this is really about. It’s not really about being up, yet again, at the crack of dawn with a toddler, who doesn’t get what the crack of dawn even means, or why there is anything wrong with being up that early. It’s not really about the latest mess I have to clean up, even though it’s the 186th one I’ve cleaned up this week. No, it’s about so much more than that.

You see, I’m trying to do it all, and I’m struggling. I took an assignment working from home three days a week, so that I could bring in some extra money, while continuing to be a full-time, stay-at-home mom. It seemed like the best of both worlds, and in many ways, it is. Especially, since I can spread out the work over a whole week. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to have this opportunity, but I also feel like I’m tilling at windmills most of the time. If you’ve never heard that expression, it’s one of many unique Texas-isms that have been passed down in my family. It’s also another was of saying, I think my balancing act could use some work.

From the outside, I’m getting it all done…even if it’s by the skin of my teeth. I guess that’s all that matters, but for a perfectionist like me, it feels like I’m failing miserably. If I can’t do it all gracefully, with a smile on my face, and a spring in my step, then it doesn’t count for much. Crazy, right? I also think that bearing the weight of it all, in combination with not feeling appreciated or validated, makes my frustration that much greater. Thank goodness for this blog. It truly is my sounding board. Sometimes, I forget how cathartic this process is for me, because in the midst of all the chaos, I have let it go by the wayside. I apologize for that. I deserve better, and so do you. All I can say is, I’m doing the best I can, just like every mom I know.

If nothing else, maybe this post will serve as a reminder that we don’t have to be perfect all the time. We all have days where we feel like we’re swimming upstream. It’s totally normal. What is important, is remembering to reconnect with ourselves. It find it really helps to keep things in perspective. Even if we feel we have nothing left to give to ourselves at the end of the day. Even if it’s something as simple as taking a bath after the kids are in bed, or calling a friend to catch up. Do it for you. Do it for your peace of mind. Just do it.

Kitchen Essentials

Imagine an alternative to those nasty little pot scrubbers and sponges that we keep around our sinks far longer than we should, in an attempt to be frugal. Well, Provisions by Food 52 has a practical solution to this conundrum, that is both economical and eco-friendly. You can get a set of 5 reusable pot scrubbers by Dot and Army for $20. Best of all, you just throw them in the dishwasher when they start to get funky, and viola, brand new scrubbers!
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Next up are unpaper towels. I included some reusable cleaning cloths from Dot and Army courtesy of Provisions by Food 52 in a previous post, but these unpaper towels are significantly less expensive (you can get a set of 16 for $40, as opposed to a set of 20 for $70), and a 50/50 blend of cotton and linen, versus 100% cotton. Although they essentially serve the same purpose as the first ones I blogged about, the savings alone made this find worth including.
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I love saving the best for last, and these little treasures made me squeal with delight when I stumbled upon them. I’m talking about . Forget the plastic bags, you can carry all of you and your family’s snacks in these little gems. I know some of you may have the sewing skills to create your own, but I do not possess such skills. They are available in sets of 3 or 6 (ranging from $18-35 per set), and are made of 100% cotton, with nylon lining, making they easy to wipe out. Velcro closure ensures no spilled snacks, and you guessed it…they are also machine washable.

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*All photos by James Ransom

I hope these unique finds strike your fancy as much as they did mine!

XO,
Jen

Bacon 101

If you like bacon as much as we do, you’ll love this easy, no muss, no fuss way to cook splendid swine…every time! Sorry, I couldn’t resist the corny rhyme. Anywho, I promise that after cooking your bacon this way once, you’ll never look back.

Here’s how:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Line baking pan with parchment paper. (Note: I prefer the pre-cut sheets, to make things as easy and quick as possible.)
3. Place strips of bacon in a single layer on baking pan (as shown below).
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4. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes (Checking often after the first 10 minutes).
5. Remove from oven, pat dry in order to remove excess grease, and…Viola! Behold the beautiful bacon.

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Enjoy!

Sweet Surrender

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As I’m watching the new episode of “Help Desk” on OWN (after Super Soul Sunday), Iyanla Vanzant gets the crowd of people to do an exercise where they put their backs together and lean against one another, so they would see how easy it is to feel supported. She said she wanted them to know that God has their backs, but that you have to be willing to lean in and surrender. That support may come from a from an unexpected source, like a complete stranger. It is, however, up to us to be willing and open to accepting help when it is offered, no matter the source.

Wow, right? I immediately began thinking of the word surrender. The concept of surrender is scary because it it is the ultimate relinquishment of control, but it is also one of the most cathartic things we can do for ourselves. When we surrender completely, it does not mean we are giving up. Rather, it means we are giving in to the process of healing. Whether we are dealing with depression, grief, or simply struggling with something in our lives, surrender is the key because it is the first step towards acceptance of what is.

Faith is also a huge component of of healing. You don’t have to believe in God, but you have to have faith in something greater than yourself and the divine order of the Universe to truly surrender. Faith is not always easy to have, but the benefits of it are immeasurable. Faith allows us true freedom. Freedom from worry and fear. Because with faith, comes acceptance of the universal truth that love is the root of everything worth having in life, and ultimately, love is the only thing that is real.

In my own life, I still struggle with surrender, acceptance, and faith. It is a daily decision and a lifelong journey that I am committed to. Some days I want to throw in the towel and wallow in the hardships of life. Then, in a moment of clarity, I remember what I already know to be true. All is well. And you know what? It is. Because one way or another, I always get the support I need. It comes in many forms, but it always comes.

Return of the Sass!

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Hi everyone! I know it’s been a little while since I wrote my last post, so I wanted to pop in and say hi. There’s been so much going on. One of my best friends just gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy. He is so yummy, I could just eat him up! And there is something about a brand new life that brings forth such a sense of purpose and meaning to our lives. What a gift it is, to be blessed with a child.

Over on our home front, my son, Eli, has become very proficient at climbing, and loves to explore new territory. Between his vivid imagination and beautiful spirit, combined with the fact that he is speaking in nonstop paragraphs, I am in complete awe of the amazing little person I see emerging, right in front of my eyes. As you may have already guessed, my sweet boy really keeps me on my toes these days!

So, I find myself struggling a little when it comes to finding a balance between writing posts for Sassafras Mommy and my job as a stay-at-home mom to a very busy 2 year old. It’s not as easy or glamorous as one might think, but I’m confident that with a little trial and error, I can make it work. I promise that from here on out, I will try to be more consistent with my blogging. I just ask that you please bear with me during this transitional time. You won’t be sorry, I promise!

Now, for more exciting news. Fall’s almost here, and there are lots of new things on the horizon…Fall 2014 fashion and beauty trends, Halloween, football, cool weather, and maybe even an exciting, top-secret project in the works for Sassafras Mommy (Hint: you’d be seeing lots more of me)!

So, be on the lookout for fun new posts from me very soon, and please free to post suggestions for future posts you’d like to see. I want Sassafras Mommy to be as interactive as possible. That means I want to hear from you. Yes, YOU! Thanks for all of your support. It means the world to me!

XO,
Jen

Conscious Parenting: A Revolutionary Approach to Raising Kids

After seeing Dr. Shefali Tsabary on both Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday and Lifeclass a few moths ago, I had to know more about conscious parenting. Dr. Tsabary’s approach to parenting is nothing short of genius. She combines the Eastern mindfulness she was exposed to from an early age, with Western psychology. How cool is that?!?

Her newest book “The Conscious Parent” is not a how-to manual of gimmicky parenting tricks and quick fixes. Instead, it focuses on the parent-child journey as a spiritual partnership, where children serve as mirrors of the parent’s forgotten self, thus bringing about consciousness in the parent.

Dr. Tsabary is quick to point out that conscious parenting is not to be confused with permissive parenting. She, instead, stresses the importance of setting healthy boundaries, while accepting our children for who they truly are, not who we want them to be. Conscious parenting isn’t about controlling our kids, but rather using ordinary, moment-by-moment engagement with our children to foster authentic connection.

This refreshing apprach to parenting makes so much sense to me, and my hope is that it resonates with you, too. You can find both of Dr. Tsabary’s books “The Conscious Parent” and “Out of Control” on Amazon.

P.S. Be on the look out for part two of Oprah’s Lifeclass with Dr. Shefali Tsabary on OWN!

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