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Wellness Wednesday: Seven Wholesome Soups and Stews

As I sit down to write today’s Wellness Wednesday post, a cold drizzle is falling outside. The leaves are almost all down from the trees, and we have had several gray, cloudy days in a row. The crisp but sunny September and October days are over, it seems, and a more wintery feel is moving in with November’s arrival.

This being the case, soups and stews are showing up on my weekly meal plan more often! My family can’t eat canned soups, since many contain gluten, MSG and other additives that give us various health issues. But healthy, wholesome soups recipes abound on the internet, and they are often very simple to make, especially with the help of the slow cooker or Instant Pot!

Here is a round-up of seven tried and true recipes for soups and stews that have become family favorites in our house. I usually serve the soups with a side of gluten-free biscuits and a green salad, and we always have gluten-free cornbread with butter and honey alongside the chili soups.

Seven Wholesome Soups and Stews

Photo credit: Lulu the Baker

Cheesy Vegetable Chowder from Lulu the Baker: This yummy soup is on the menu tonight!

Photo credit: Nom Nom Paleo

Simple Egg Drop Soup from Nom Nom Paleo: Egg Drop Soup is great as a side with stir fry and/or fried rice.

Photo credit: Well Plated

Instant Pot Lentil Soup from Well Plated: There is just something so comforting about a hearty lentil soup.

Photo credit: Gimme Some Oven

The BEST Butternut Squash Soup from Gimme Some Oven: This truly is one of the best butternut soup recipes I have tried!

Black Bean Chicken Chili by Crystal Miller: This chili recipe doesn’t have a photo, but it is a staple in my menu plan all year round!

Photo credit: Better Homes and Gardens

Chili Soup from Better Homes and Gardens: This is another tried and true staple chili recipe in our home, easy to make on the stove, in the slow cooker and in the Instant Pot!

Clam Chowder by Crystal Miller: We just added Crystal’s delicious clam chowder recipe to our line-up this fall, and it was a winner!

Now it’s your turn! I’d love for you to share your favorite soup recipe that our family can try this fall and winter! Or tell me which of the above recipes you want to try.


Want to link up? I would love to read your thoughts on your own health and wellness journey! Follow the instructions below to join the link-up and share!

How to participate: 

  1. Write a post on a topic related to wellness, and add your link to the list below.
  2. Grab the Wellness Wednesday logo graphic below and put it in your linked post, also with a blurb mentioning and linking back to that week’s link-up.
  3. Please stop by at least two other participants’ blogs and leave a comment on their Wellness Wednesday posts. This doesn’t take long, and it is really encouraging and helpful for building community and continuing the conversation!
  4. Bonus points if you post about the link-up on your social media. I will feature a post from one or two Wellness Wednesday participants on my Facebook page during the week after the link-up, so please head on over there to follow me and see if your post is featured!

Wellness Wednesday: Mental Margin

As you know if you’ve been following the blog for the past month or two, I started taking a break from Facebook and Instagram at the beginning of October. During this time away from social media, I have been thinking about the concept of margin and how I spend my time. I think we all know that leaving some white space on our calendar is important so that we can rest and recharge. But how much do we leave ourselves with some time and space for mental margin? What does that even look like?

For me, creating mental margin means intentionally taking time away from media of all kinds: internet, music, tv, even books and audio books. This time can look a lot of different ways, but the important thing is to have as little input as possible. The purpose of creating this mental white space is to give my brain a rest, to allow myself to process all the stimuli from my days and to let my mind sort things out. The mind has an amazing capacity for absorbing information, but if we don’t give it some input-free time, we are overtaxing that capacity. Everyone’s brain needs a break from time to time.

Now, before you start picturing me going into an empty room and staring at the wall for an hour, let me tell you that is not what this looks like at all. My mental margin time actually can involve physical activity. It can look like going for a walk, alone and without music or a podcast, of course, just letting my mind wander while my body does the same. I may be knitting something monotonous that doesn’t require anything but a repetitive motion of my hands and very little active thought on my part. It may be coloring a picture and letting the colors fall where they may while my mind organizes all the random thoughts I have about my day. I could even be washing dishes or folding laundry, as long as I am in relative quiet so that I can process my thoughts instead of trying to fill every spare second with noise.

After a few weeks of purposefully adding these small spaces of margin throughout my day, I feel more mental clarity and focus. I can tell when I am trying to just distract myself instead of quiet my mind. My creativity is coming back, and I am more aware of when I need to take a mental break. Of course, I have a lot of room for improvement, but I am seeing how practicing mental margin is beneficial.

How about you? Do you make time for quiet and mental margin in your day? I would love to hear your strategies for making this a priority. Or, if you haven’t tried giving yourself real mental rest each day, please share what you plan to do to change that.


And now it’s your turn! I want to read your thoughts on your own health and wellness journey! Follow the instructions below to join the link-up and share!

How to participate: 

  1. Write a post on a topic related to wellness, and add your link to the list below.
  2. Grab the Wellness Wednesday logo graphic below and put it in your linked post, also with a blurb mentioning and linking back to that week’s link-up.
  3. Please stop by at least two other participants’ blogs and leave a comment on their Wellness Wednesday posts. This doesn’t take long, and it is really encouraging and helpful for building community and continuing the conversation!
  4. Bonus points if you post about the link-up on your social media. I will feature a post from one or two Wellness Wednesday participants on my Facebook page during the week after the link-up, so please head on over there to follow me and see if your post is featured!

The Reading Report, Vol. 16: Fall Reading Edition

Due to the October Write31Days Challenge, I am late with this edition of The Reading Report. However, I have a lot of books to share with you! Taking time away from social media has, as I expected, given me more time and inclination to read and listen to books. Besides that, cooler and cloudier fall days just seem to lend themselves to cozying up on the couch with a blanket, a book and cup of something hot, don’t they? So, if you need some ideas for your fall reading list, brew yourself some tea or coffee, and let’s talk books!

Finished Books:

King Lear: I finally finished listening to this Shakespeare play, and I think knowing the plot line from listening to The Play’s the Thing podcasts before having finished helped me appreciate it more than I might have otherwise. It is definitely one I will return to again one day! I thought about trying to watch the Amazon Prime miniseries version, but the previews tell me that it would probably be too intense for my sensitive nature.

Much Ado About Nothing: I’m still waiting on the final podcast episode for this one to come up, but I have finished listening to the play. I would really like to watch the film version sometime just for fun. I need to find out if the library has it.

Whose Body: I decided to sub this Dorothy Sayers Lord Peter Wimsey mystery for Edith Wharton’s Age of Innocence in the B2tCC Classic by a Woman Author category. It was a quick listen, and a nice change from the denser reading I have been doing lately. If you haven’t read a Lord Peter detective novel yet, I highly recommend them…thought-provoking, suspenseful without being too gruesome, and highly literary while also being fast-paced.

The Grey Woman: This was another quick listen when I just needed a new audio book in a completely different genre than I’d been reading. I finished it in a couple of evenings while cooking and cleaning up from dinner. It is a novella by Elizabeth Cleghorn Glaskell, and it has a rather Gothic feel, with a murderous husband and a young wife fleeing for her life.

The Power and the Glory: The Close Reads Podcast is currently working their way through this Graham Greene novel. I had never read any of Greene’s work before. Since I’m taking my sweet time getting through Andrew Murray’s The Spiritual Life, I decided to sub The Power and the Glory for that New-to-You Author spot in the B2tCC. This means I am now FINISHED with my challenge reading for 2018! (I will do a wrap up post with my complete list later this month, hopefully.) I still have a lot of thoughts to mull over in relation to this book, but it was a very compelling story. I came away feeling that the journey taken by the priest was in a sense a picture of the Christian’s journey toward sanctification. I also came across some verses in my Bible reading this week that I think may be connected to the book’s title and message:

You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?”  But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?  What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

-Romans 9:19-24 (ESV)

Books in Progress:

The Nesting Place: After hearing a lot of good things about Myquillyn Smith’s newest book, Cozy Minimalist Home, I decided to read her first book about making the most of the home you’re in. Since we are renting, I have struggled with the idea of wanting make this house feel homey without doing anything permanent or expensive. This book has some good points and ideas, even though I have decided that I am not quite ready to do anything much with them at this exact moment.

For the Children’s Sake: My homeschool mom’s book study group is going through Brandy Vencel’s Start Here: A Journey Through Charlotte Mason’s 20 Principles, and this book is part of our required reading. Susan Schaffer Macauley’s book is a must-read if you are a homeschool parent or are even considering the idea of home education.

Heidi: My son and I are reading Heidi for his bedtime read aloud right now. I am pretty sure I read at least part of this book as a child, but I really only remember the Shirley Temple movie version, which obviously is not quite the same. I have been pleasantly surprised by some of the Christian principles woven into the story so far, and we still have the second part of the book to go.

Love Among the Chickens: This is my current “purely for fun” audio book. P. G. Wodehouse wrote, in my opinion, classic British humor at its best! If you need some lighthearted reading or listening, you simply must try some Wodehouse!

Books on Hold:

The following books have been put on the back burner for the time being, but I definitely have plans to finish all of them in the near future!

Deep Work by Cal Newport

At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon

The Spiritual Life by Andrew Murray

Looking Ahead:

A Tolkien Miscellany/Farmer Giles of Ham: My kids and I started reading Farmer Giles together over breakfast a few days ago, and it has already elicited many laughs and requests to “keep reading!”

Pre-reading for AO Year 3: Now that we finished AmblesideOnline’s Year 2 work, it is time for me to gather and begin reading the books for next year! I have some book mail on the way this week, as well as a couple books I picked up at the most recent library book sale. I must discipline myself to begin pre-reading and taking notes in ernest this year since my son will be reading more of his books independently instead of listening to me read aloud so much.

Otherwise, I am not sure what else I’m going to read next besides whatever the next picks are for Close Reads and The Play’s the Thing. I may try joining in on whatever the next book is over on the AmblesideOnline forum official book discussion thread. We shall see!

Now it’s your turn! Tell me what you’ve been reading so far this fall or what you’re reading next! 

 

Day 31: Close #write31days2018

It seems like just a few days ago I was starting on the Write 31 Days challenge, and here we are at the close. This month has flown by at an incredible pace, and I have had a hard time keeping up with the demands of writing every day. As I close and look back on the challenge, I am proud of myself for completing it. Even though I had to double up on posts some days, I did write for every single prompt this time. I made time to write, and I made that time a priority. Forcing myself to come up with something to write daily has stretched my creativity. I have put some of my thoughts and contemplations into words on the page, which always helps me clarify them even more in my own mind.

If you have been reading along with me through this challenge, thank you so much for taking the time to peruse my meandering thoughts! November’s posts will be more sporadic than October’s, but now that I know I can write nearly every day, I hope to be here multiple times a week like I was back in the early days of this blog.

With that being said, if there are any topics that you would like to see me write about here, would you kindly leave a comment or send me an email and let me know? I would love to bring you better content that is relevant to you if I can! Thanks again!

P.S.–If you want to go back and catch up on any of my challenge posts, you can find the index to all 31 posts here

Day 30: Voice #write31days2018

As a vitrual assistant to two podcasters, I listen to dozens of interviews with authors of new books coming out. One topic of conversation that comes up frequently is that of “voice.” Each author has a unique voice and writing style that makes their work stand out from others. 

I have often wondered after listening to these interviews what my voice is as a writer. (Can I even call myself that? I feel sort of silly calling myself a “writer.” Oh well.) I’m not an aspiring book author, certainly, but I must have some sort of voice that comes out in my blog posts, right? I wonder, when I look back at these 31 days of posts, if perhaps I will see a trend in the way I have been writing. Is that my voice? Or do I just have several bad habits that come out in these little timed writing sessions? I’m not really sure. 

Anyway, I do wonder what my writing style is. Sometimes I like to use a good deal of metaphor. Sometimes I have ideas of writing in a more literary style, but that is probably well beyond my skill level. I feel like a conversational style is pretty natural in some situations, but other times it feels fake. All that to say, I don’t know what kind of writer I am or whether I have even begun to develop that elusive “voice,” but maybe if I keep working at it, someday I will figure that out!

This post is part of the 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes and Write 31 Days blogging challenges. Find all my posts in this series under the tag “write31days2018.”