Links I Love

Happy International Women’s Day a day late! Here is where I share some of my favorite sources of inspiration for you to (hopefully) be inspired by as well.


I love Rachel Hollis’s Rise Podcast and this episode from a month ago is one worth repeating. Rachel interviews John Maxwell on “What Success Really Means”. As I head into a new season, I want to pause for reflection and make sure personal growth is happening–because that’s where success takes place first.

If you’ve ever listened to How I Built This with Guy Raz, you know what an encouraging, interesting, and comforting show this is if you’re an entrepreneur, maker, small business owner, artist, etc. I just listened to this interview with Roxanne Quimby, co-founder of Burt’s Bees. What a fascinating and motivational story of how two hardworking people in small town Maine created a company that became a household name. Check it out!

Blog Posts:

Yes, Seth Godin, again. His post “On Feeling Incompetent” is short and on point. It’s ok if you feel incompetent–it means you’re learning something new, so get used to it!

I hope you read the blog Brain Pickings by Maria Popova! This post about “The Growth Mindset vs. The Fixed Mindset” is worth the read. The visual is what stuck with me, so at least go take a look at it.

Movies: I watched a gorgeous movie on my iPad while I was preparing food for our wedding. It’s called The Hundred Foot Journey in which Helen Mirren stars as a stuck up French restaurant owner who tries to stop an Indian family from operating a restaurant across the street from her. The other star is a young Indian man who is a gifted cook, but is hungry for training to become a chef. The scenes of food preparation and presentation, the lovely French countryside and villages, and the acting are brilliant. The story is unexpectedly heartwarming and will leave you with a smile on your face and a determination to get back into your kitchen and delight in making food. It is currently on Netflix, which is where I watched it.

Books: How did books make it last on my list? I just wanted to shake things up a bit!

A few books I’m reading and thoroughly enjoying are:

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See (a young woman growing up in the tea growing mountains of China in the 1980s-1990s, as one of a minority group. She and her people are changed forever by the modern world who seeks them out for their tea.)

The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll is more than just a how-to, it has a decent amount of why-to and life wisdom. Chapters a short and to the point and if you’re a Bujo devotee or considering this way of bringing order and intent to your days, read it!

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley is a good murder mystery in an Agatha Christie way. Told through the points of view of five different people, a group of posh London friends come up to the remote Western Highlands of Scotland for a New Year’s Eve Party. Supposedly a close-knit group, things begin unraveling and someone ends up dead. I listened to this on audio and it was very entertaining!

OK, enjoy Saturday and Sunday, everyone, and remember that, if you live in the Eastern Standard Time Zone like me, clocks “spring ahead” this weekend!

Late Winter Detox (Aromatherapy Recipe)

On Saturday I will be teaching my first self-care and aromatherapy class. This one is called Late Winter Detox and will include self-care tips, a list of essential oils, and each person will make a lovely detoxifying Salt Scrub. As a lead-in to this class, I shared a brief video on Facebook Live, made a salt scrub, and talked a bit about self-care and aromatherapy. I promised my viewers I would share the recipes and info about oils here on my blog, so here you go!

Detox Salt Scrub Recipe

  • 8 oz. glass or PET plastic wide mouth jar with lid
  • 1 cup fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup carrier oil: sesame, almond, or avocado oil
  • 10-15 drops Juniper essential oil
  • 10-15 drops Lemon essential oil
  • 1 drop Roman Chamomile oil *optional

To make: Mix sea salt and carrier oil together in a bowl, add essential oils, and blend thoroughly. Place salt scrub in jar with lid.

To use: While showering, take a small amount of salt scrub and gently massage into legs and arms, then rinse.

The tub or shower floor can become slippery when you use your salt scrub; you may want to place a small handtowel on the floor of the tub or shower as a safety precaution.

The salt scrub is good for circulation, energizing, moving lymph, nourishing to the skin, is uplifting to the emotions, anti-inflammatory, and gives the immune system aa boost.

Late Winter Wellness Diffuser Blend

3-6 drops Tulsi

2-4 drops Spike Lavender

1-2 drops Niaouli

Drop into a diffuser, with distilled water up to fill line, and turn on for 1 hour or more at a time.

This Diffuser Blend is good to give your immune system a boost, it’s decongesting and promotes healthy lung and airway function, is energizing, warming, uplifting to the mood/emotions, and is antibacterial/antiviral.

Juniper–is energizing, stimulating, great for circulation, moving lymph, reduces nerve pain, decongestant, and antiviral.

Lemon–is sweet, citrusy, fresh, and fruity in aroma, is antiviral, antibacterial, reduces pain and inflammation, is an antidepressant, boosts the immune system, is positive, and uplifting.

Roman Chamomile–has a fruity, sweet and warming aroma, is calming to the central nervous system, anti-inflammatory, good for skin, eases minor muscle or joint pain, aids digestion, is antispasmodic.

Tulsi-has a spicy aroma, eases minor pain and inflammation, antiviral, antibacterial, anti fungal, uplifting, warming, helps with anxiety & depression, an adaptogen.

Spike Lavender–has an uplifting, camphor-like aroma, is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti fungal, antidepressant, energizing, supports healthy lung function.

Niaouli-is fruity, earthy, lemony, and camphor-like in aroma boosts the immune system, is a decongestant, supports healthy lung and airway function, is warming, good for skin, eases minor tension and inflammation.

Rosemary–has a fresh, camphor-like, herbaceous aroma, strengthens the brain and memory, is good for respiratory system, stimulating, decongestant, supports healthy breathing, is sedative/calming to the nervous system, antiviral, anti fungal, antimicrobial, healing and rejuvenating to the skin.

(I am not a rep of any essential oil company, but I do recommend a few, including Aromatics International. They are committed to purity and transparency in their business and they publish GC/MS reports on all of their oils. If you plan on ordering through them, I would greatly appreciate it if you used this referral link. Thank you!)

For a helpful webinar on 10 Most Essential Oils for the Home Pharmacy, check out David Crow’s video here:

Here is a blog post about Juniper Berry you might enjoy as well:

What I Read So Far This Year

January and February are typically months when I go into hermit-mode, as my friend Ellie calls it, and read, write, and think a lot. This year, because we were planning for our wedding, I didn’t get too much quiet unstructered time to myself. It was worth it, of course, and our wedding was a magical, joyful evening surrounded by our kids and some of our close friends.

Even in the midst of finding a dress, deciding on decorations, helping Alan find a suit, shopping for food and making the meal–as well as carrying on with everyday life, I still managed to read several good books.

The Blue Zones of Happiness by Dan Buettner didn’t bring with it many surprises: the happiest people spend plenty of their lives outdoors, with other people, doing work they find satisfying, make enough to live at least modestly on, eat healthy food, and don’t have to worry about health care access, retirement, etc. It is worth reading to hear the stories from happy people in different parts of the world. I borrowed my copy from the library.

 High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard is full of truth to change your life, set you on a good path, challenge the heck out of you, help you develop clarity and purpose, and give you stories of real-life high performers and how they live. I first heard about him through the Rachel Hollis podcast Rise and quickly subscribed to his podcast as well. I bought my copy because I plan on reading it again and again! 

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling is, like all the Harry Potter books, a treasured favorite. I own the audio version and love the way Jim Dale narrates and brings all the characters to life. This is my second time through the series and I love it as much as ever.

 My Twenty-Five Years in Provence by Peter Mayle was the first book by this author I’ve read. It is funny, fascinating, and for someone who has never been to Provence, it helped me feel like I was there too. I borrowed it from my library.

The Courage Habit by Kate Swoboda. I heard Kate interviewed on The Unmistakeable Creative podcast last year and purchased this book because she had such a charismatic and magnetic persona that I wanted to read her book and have some of that rub off on me. Honestly, the book was a bit dull. Maybe she speaks more dynamically than she writes or maybe it just wasn’t the right time for me to read it.

The Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny. My favorite aspect of her Inspector Gamache series is the characters in Three Pines. Heartwarming, hilarious, endearing, and sparkling with humanity these people keep me coming back for more.

She could do away with the “mystery” element altogether because, at least with these last few, they tend to be rather incidental and weak. Her husband passed away a few years ago and may have something to do with the lack of attention to the mystery. But her Three Pines characters are alive and well, so I will continue reading the series as long as she writes. I borrowed this from the library.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett took me to a hot and heavy jungle in the middle of cold January and kept me interested throughout. I felt plenty of empathy for the main character who doesn’t seem to be able to hold on to happiness. She is strong, independent, and stubborn, but is also selfless and hampered by her past. It is so well written and the story is unusual and imaginative–you should definitely read this! My paperback came from a local used bookstore.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. This was my second time through this book, this time on audio. Alan and I listened to it separately and then would discuss it every few days, which was fun for me. It’s all about living a creative life, choosing curiosity over fear, being practically-minded yet holding space for the otherworldly element of inspiration that one can’t control, but can encourage. I purchased the audio version and highly recommend it!

The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli. My used bookstore copy of this book has been sitting on my Unread Bookshelf for over two years, so it was definitely time to pick it up. Like State of Wonder, it is set in a hot climate–Vietnam–during the war there in the 60s and 70s.

The main characters are photographers who are there to capture the war. Two of them become obsessed with gaining notoriety with the right shot and get themselves into dangerous situations. There is a love triangle and definitely some gore and violence because it’s a war.

Her writing is beautiful and vivid, and you will be transported to the steamy Vietnamese cities and jungles where this all takes place. I didn’t like the two main characters, mostly because they’re shallow and selfish, but the fact that it is so well-written makes up for it.

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Who hasn’t read this book? Well, I hadn’t up till February when I listened to it on audio. Divided into three sections, where she spends 4 months each: Italy, India, and Indonesia, it is her honest retelling of her adventures during her years’ experiment overseas.

During this year, she ate to her heart’s content in Italy and immersed herself in Italian, healed from a divorce and a breakup, learned to meditate and connect with the divine, formed new friendships, and so much more. Alan and I listened to it separately and discussed it–like we had our own book club! Definitely, if you haven’t read it yet, put it on your list.

 The Colors of All the Cattle by Alexander McCall Smith. I LOVE Mma Ramotswe, Mma Makutsi, and the other refreshing and endearing characters in this series. Like the Louise Penny books, this is supposed to be a mystery series, and it is. The author does a good job with the mystery side of things, but I love the people in the books: their day-to-day conversations, interactions, problems, entanglements, and the way they live their lives.

I relate so well to each of them in all their wonderful humanity, yet the pace of life is very different from ours. I am always thrilled when a new book is added to the series. Oh, and you must listen to this on audio. Lisette Lecat narrates and she is phenomenal with making each person’s voice and personality shine. Highly recommended!

The Last Good Paradise by Tatjana Soli. This one was a bit of a letdown and I think the reason is I do not like stories about rich, spoiled, entitled people. Rich people problems don’t interest me in the least. The writing is good and most of this book is set in a hot climate, like her debut, but I just couldn’t appreciate it. But maybe you will feel differently? I borrowed my copy from the library.

Alright, so those are the dozen I’ve read so far this year! I’ll be sharing what I’m currently reading in an upcoming blog post. So what did you read in January and February?

Keep Celebrating (Wellness Wednesday)

Happy first Wellness Wednesday of the year! According to the Liturgical Calendar, Christmas doesn’t end until January 5th, so those of us observing it have a few more days of celebration. But if you’re feeling the way I am, just seeing those iced sugar cookies, candy canes, and pies still hanging around make your big green salad and a fruit-filled protein smoothie look better than ever.

Being gluten free and dairy free meant I didn’t eat cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning or cookies and desserts on Christmas evening and all the days that have followed. I have indulged in one or two Sjaak’s vegan candies each day though, enjoyed shrimp cocktail on New Year’s Eve, and I’ve had a glass or two more wine than I would normally. But I’m not going to beat myself up about it! That’s what celebrating includes–enjoying some treats that aren’t part of your everyday diet.

My digestive system isn’t happy however. I’ve had an upset stomach after dinner the past two nights, so I am back on the straight and narrow: salads, smoothies, almonds, eggs, fish, plenty of cooked veggies, all my supplements–yeah, you get the picture. Tonight I am going to sip fennel tea and rub an aromatherapy blend on my tummy.

There is nothing wrong with celebrating, but if you tend to have a sensitive digestive system, you might feel not quite yourself after a few weeks of your favorite things. And instead of looking at healthy eating as a chore or a restriction, think about how good you feel when you eat optimally for you. I know how frustrating it can be to have a family member with a stomach of iron and a metabolism of a gazelle, but you do you, right?

I want to encourage you to continue in a celebratory frame of mind, by doing what makes you feel your best today. Here are a few ideas:

1.Make yourself simple and delicious meals.

2.Take a run or head to the gym.

3.Blend a smoothie to quell the late afternoon hunger pangs rather than reaching for the chips.

4.Get up from your desk and do some yoga or stretch.

4.If your tree is still up, sit down instead of racing around and enjoy the lights.

5.Spend a few minutes meditating or in prayer.

5.Text someone and tell them you love them.

6.Set up a lunch date with a friend.

7. Write in your journal.

8. Read that book you’ve been wanting to finish.

9. Take a walk and observe your surroundings.

10.And make sure you smile!

Links I Love


Here is where I will share a few links of podcast episodes, blog posts, websites, TED talks, new books, etc. that I favorite each week. Refresh your imagination and fill up your inspiration tank.

What can I say about these past two weeks except “I NEED A VACATION!!!” OK, deep breath and moving on…Happy Mother’s Day to all the mamas! I plan to enjoy the day out away from kids and chores, and not being a taxi service. Alan and I are going to take a picnic lunch (he’s making me sushi!) with us and stop at a few wineries for tastings and to enjoy the views of whatever lakes we end up at.

So, what have I found interesting and inspiring this week? Several great podcast episodes, plus one new-to-me podcast.

First, here is a podcast that I love because it gives me ideas and inspiration for my self-care and home decor Etsy shop and local business, Delicata House. Etsy Success Podcast features a different successful Etsy shop owner each episode who presents solutions and ideas and shares her or his own story.

One of my favorite episodes from a few months back featured the owner of Betsy Farmer Designs, a jewelry shop, sharing her tips on excellent customer service. Check it out on SoundCloud or iTunes, Stitcher or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Second, Anne Bogel had a super fun episode of What Should I Read Next where she interviewed a young woman from New Zealand who now lives in Bath in the UK. Since I want to visit both New Zealand and the UK, I was thoroughly absorbed in their conversation. And the books they discussed had me breaking my “read ten, buy one” rule and adding to my TBR list.



Third, also through Anne Bogel’s podcast, I was introduced to another podcast which I am thrilled to have connected to. It’s called Reading Women and the two young women who host it are committed to interviewing authors who are women and discussing books written by women. One of the latest episodes is an interview with Chibundu Onuzo, author of Welcome to Lagos: A Novel. This was a fascinating, intelligent, and upbeat conversation that left me wondering why I haven’t already read this novel and the others she’s written. (Sad fact: I hadn’t heard of her until now. Happy fact: the whole reason this podcast exists.) I’m now in the middle of the episode with Maggie O’ Farrell, author of I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death and This Must Be the Place: A novel which I’m loving as well.

And, finally, since my last post focused on inspiration, it’s a subject that is staying with me this week, so here is a post on living inspired on Medium. Look for the great Jack London quote about not waiting to be inspired.

OK, cheers to the weekend and to all the mothers in our world!


Baked Oatmeal for a Cheery Morning (Recipe)


I was first introduced to baked oatmeal many years ago by my Mennonite in-laws and I’m forever grateful. It was a revelation! A breakfast unlike any I’d ever had: in between a soft, custard-like cake and a bowl of oatmeal. Only it stuck to my ribs longer because it contained eggs, butter, milk, and sugar.

If you know me at all, you know I can’t eat dairy, so I altered a recipe I found in a Cooking Light magazine. This is what I fed to my two kids several times a month and they gobbled it up happily. They would even eat it left-over the next morning. Recently, I made it for Alan, who’d never tasted Baked Oatmeal before, and he liked it enough that he ate it left-over the next morning as well.


So here it is:

If you’re feeding more than two or three, I’d double the recipe and put it in a 9×13 baking dish.

Baked Oatmeal

  • 2 cups rolled oats (mine are gluten free)
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups milk ( I use dairy free milk, such as almond or cashew milk)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons butter (I use coconut oil, vegan butter, etc.)
  • 1 large egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 350. In large bowl of a stand mixer, combine milk, applesauce, melted butter or coconut oil, and egg. Mix well. Add in the rolled oats, brown sugar, and baking powder. Mix until combined. Pour mixture into a greased 8×8 baking pan. Bake 20-22 minutes. Serve warm.

Wasn’t that simple? I hope you like it as much as we all do!


Other Books I’ve Been Reading Lately

Now that I’m not writing two or three songs a day, I can catch up on sharing my reading life with you.

The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda. I honestly hated this book until halfway through when a body was discovered, and suspicion was cast on the narrator and another person. The ending was not satisfying and left plenty unexplained. This felt a bit like a mystery written by someone too lazy to figure out the details–leave it all up to suggestion and imagination. Meh.

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae. Be prepared to laugh. I haven’t seen this HBO show, but the book was part hilarious autobiography, part commentary on what it’s like to be a young, educated woman with both an African and African-American heritage.

Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brene Brown. There’s no one quite like Brene Brown, with her very own intelligent and distinct way of telling stories and sharing research with every day people. She is so down-to-earth and salty, being vulnerable with the world as she talks about the need to belong, to be accepted and at the same time learning to live true to yourself. She talks about love, accountability, being nonjudgmental, having a generous heart, knowing boundaries, being reliable, etc. She has a chapter entitled “People Are Hard To Hate Close Up. Move In.” that challenges people that like to sling nastiness, political in particular, using social media, because they don’t have to look each other in the eyes. It was so good, I put some of it in a song I wrote. I need this book; you need this book. Read it and pass it on.

Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything was Anne Bogel’s (Modern Mrs Darcy blogger) debut book and she did a great job with it. It’s all about personality frameworks and how they can help you understand yourself, your children and partner, co-workers, friends, etc. Here you will find a straightforward and practical introduction to Meyers-Briggs, the 5 Love Languages, Highly Sensitive People, Strengths Finder, the Enneagram, and more. Anne peppers the book with personal stories and the tone is friendly and fun, yet intelligent and thoughtful. I recommend it!

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell was the first novel I’ve read by her. Light, but not candy-sweet, amusing, heart-warming and feel-good about a young guy who reads the emails of a pair of female co-workers and falls in love with one of them. Since I read several heavier books lately, this was good for entertainment and diversion. If you’re interested, borrow it from the library.

I’d love to hear about what you’ve been reading lately!