What is a Total Elimination Diet?

A Total Elimination Diet is a strict diet used to determine food allergies.  This is usually the last hope at solving severe health problems after many other solutions have failed. Many people have found relief from ailments that they didn’t even realize were related to their diet.  Most people develop an intimate understanding of their own body, their responses to food, and triggers to their environment.  

In a TOTAL elimination diet, a person removes ALL foods, supplements, beverages,  and body products from their daily routine.  They substitute a strict diet of anti-inflammatory foods for 2 weeks minimum to reach baseline.  Baseline means that zero to minimal health problems remain.  (Someone with more severe damage not related to allergies might need alternative medical care as well.).

After a baseline is reached, foods are reintroduced, one at a time every 4-7 days, over a course of weeks or months, depending on the severity of the allergies.  The introduction of foods begins with the foods most likely to cause problems, usually the top allergens list and the foods most likely to cause inflammation in the body.  

During the entire diet, a journal is kept detailing day, time, location, foods, physical ailments or relief, and mental ailments or relief.  If the elimination diet is being done for a breastfeeding child, then a journal should be kept for both mother and child.  

Usually, one or more foods reveal themselves as the diet progresses.  Avoiding these triggers is usually the best way to have relief from health ailments.  This would be the first step to a healthier lifestyle for those with allergies.  Afterward, learning about holistic health and nutrition will aid you in having a long-lasting, comfortable life.  

Notes

  • http://benemersongolfperformance.com/15281691-0-next-by-k-vest720/ A TED is NOT a starvation diet.  You MUST eat non-inflammatory foods for this to be successful.  Simply eating nothing is not conducive to healing.  
  • http://blenheimuw.com/wp/wp-includes/css/ Baseline might not be able to be reached if you are on medication for any health ailments.  The majority of all medication is full of corn-based products and inflammatory chemicals.  Someone who is allergic to corn will continue to react.  Many people with corn allergies have their medications compounded with non-corn derivative fillers.  Pharmacies and allopathic MD’s are not aware of the names of corn derivatives and will state that there is no corn.  See this list for an idea of how corn is found in medical supplies.
  • Aurogra without prescriptions in usa If a food has failed a trial, it’s best to not introduce another food until you have recovered from the fail. This can take 2 to 4 days.
  • http://wearestoryboard.co.uk/2020/12/15/were-recruiting-for-a-creative-filmmaker/ Almost every probiotic on the market has corn in it.  Many probiotics are grown on corn.  Only Gut Pro is corn-free.  Generally, it is best to discontinue probiotics on a TED because some people cannot tolerate them, allergy-free or not.  I personally prefer food-based probiotics over pill-based anyway.
  • Fruits and vegetables at the normal grocery store are sprayed and waxed with corny chemicals.  If you are allergic to corn, you might continue to react.  The best fruits and vegetables are the ones grown at home.  The second best is the farmers market or from local known safe farmers.  Third best is a local food co-op or health food store.  Typical grocery stores are generally not safe and have very few safe foods.  
  • Organic does not guarantee your food is allergy friendly.  Many foods that are organic can still be waxed or sprayed with corny products.  
  • Just because one person does well with a food on a TED, doesn’t mean you or your child will.  No food is considered “safe” until the baseline is reached.  If you haven’t reached baseline and you are SURE your food isn’t contaminated with corn, try mixing something up on a suspect food.  For example, if you think your sweet potato is the culprit, cut it out for 4 days to see if there is any change.  
  • It can be dangerous or ineffective to attempt a TED alone without sufficient education.  Seeking out a nutritionally based chiropractor, a holistic nutritionist, a holistic MD, a naturopath or another nutrition-based health care provider can be beneficial in helping you.  
  • Not all allopathic MD’s or allopathic allergists are fully aware of or are legally allowed to assist in determining the CAUSE of your health ailments. Many of the tests to attempt to determine why you are ill are costly and dangerous and are often ineffective.  Research thoroughly EVERY part of your medical procedures, including risks and side effects.  Research thoroughly EVERYTHING that might be injected or taken orally.  This goes with ALL medical care, including holistic approaches.  
  • Education is the best tool to come to your aid.  The more you know about what you put in your body and how it affects your body, the better armed you will be.  You are your own best ally.  You are the one who has to live with the choices you make.  You are the one who will either face the fallout or the benefit of your decisions.  Every other person involved is simply another tool to aid you.  They don’t have to live in your body for the rest of your life, you do. 
  • It’s ok to say no to something that isn’t working. No matter how much time or money you’ve invested into a certain approach to your health, it’s ok to let it go if it isn’t helping aid you in your goal of better health.    

I hope this has helped you understand what a Total Elimination Diet is and how it can help you become more aware of your body and take charge of your health.  I pray that you and your family find answers to what is ailing you so that you can not just survive, but thrive.  

Have you tried a TED? What was your favorite foods that worked for you? What foods did you say “I never want to eat this again when it’s over!”

Are you on a TED right now? How’s it going?

***Disclaimer*** This is not medical advice. These are my own personal experiences from my own TED that are shared for awareness. Please consult your own medical practitioner before beginning a TED.

The Everything Guide to Shea Butter

Shea butter is an amazing all natural, non-toxic alternative to chemical lotions and lip balms.  On its own, it nourishes and heals your skin.  It’s affordable, easy to use, and smells amazing. There are so many reasons for everyone to utilize shea butter.

Shea Butter Facts

What Is Shea Butter?

Shea butter is a fat extracted from the nut of the African shea tree.

Where Does Shea Butter Come From?

As you might have guessed, since shea is from the African Shea Tree, it does originate in Africa.

Shea Butter Nutritional Information

Vitamins A & E
Healthy Saturated Fats: Derived mainly from stearic acid and oleic acid.
Contains phenols-the same antioxidants found in green tea.

Health and Beauty Benefits of Shea Butter

Anti-inflammatory
Non-comedogenic
SPF 6-10
Moisturizing

Tips For Buying Shea Butter

Look for:
Raw and unrefined.  Refined shea butter has many of the beneficial elements removed.  
Ethically sourced.  The harvesting and creation of shea butter is usually done by a community.  Purchasing from a small, reputable source is usually best.  Look for their story of how, where and by whom it’s made.  This supports small farmers, families, and communities and also ensures that they get paid a fair wage.  Plus, chances are, they use the shea butter too and will care about the quality and condition of their product!  
A Product that ISN’T white.  Raw and healthy shea butter will have a yellowish hue.  Like cow’s milk butter, sometimes it’s a rich, bright yellow, sometimes it’s a pale pastel yellow.  The shade will vary depending on the region and shea itself, but it should never be white unless it was processed.  
A warm, earthy scent.  Scentless shea is usually processed.  For processed shea, scentless is usually the “best” processed shea, often, you’ll find it more likely has chemical undertones.  Don’t look for scentless!  This is a keyword for processed!

(This is what I use.)

Shea Butter Allergy Concerns

Shea butter is derived from the shea nut.  If you have a nut allergy, use caution.
If you buy a refined version of shea butter, you run the risk of exposure to chemicals.  

How To Store

Shea butter has a shelf life of about 24 months.  It may last longer but may become less effective over time.

Keep in a cool, dark, dry place for storage.  I keep mine in the original bag it came in, in my closet.  I also portion some of it into a small glass jar for use and keep it in my nightstand.

Shea butter will smell nutty and smokey when fresh.  If your shea butter goes bad, it will smell rancid.  You will probably gag and have no doubt that it is bad.  I’ve kept mine fresh for several years, but if you’re worried, you can always store yours in the fridge to help it last even longer.  Use a glass jar to keep out unwanted fridge odors. 
Note-I live is a cold climate where we have winter 7-9 months of the year.  If you live in a warmer climate, you might want to store yours in the fridge. 

Shea Butter Basic Uses | 21 Ways to Use Shea Butter Plain

  1. Dry Hands
  2. Dry Feet
  3. Dry Lips
  4. Facial Moisturizer
  5. After Shave Cream
  6. Baby Bums
  7. Massage Rub
  8. Cuticle Cream
  9. Sun Screen Lotion
  10. Hair Mask
  11. Stretch Mark Cream
  12. Pregnant Belly Rub
  13. Cracked Skin Repair
  14. Baby Lotion
  15. Chapped Cheeks
  16. Sore Nose From A Cold
  17. Eczema Soother
  18. Dry Elbows
  19. Dry Knees
  20. Scar Repair
  21. Insect Bites

Shea Butter Recipes

Whipped Eczema Body Butter
Whipped Eczema Body Butter

References

http://www.vitaminstuff.com/supplements-shea-butter.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shea_butter

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitellaria

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/258826779_Nutritional_Composition_of_Shea_Products_and_Chemical_Properties_of_Shea_Butter_A_Review

hhttps://bettersheabutter.com/

Essential Oil Beneficial Properties and Warnings

  • Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)- Analgesic, antibacterial, anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, anti-parasitic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, digestive, sedative, uplifting.
    * Photosensitive- avoid UV or direct sunlight for 48-72 hours after topical use (areas applied)
  • Carrot Seed* (Daucus carota)- Antifungal, carminative, hepatic
  • Cedarwood* (Cedrus atlantica) – Antifungal, anti-infectious, antiseptic, astringent, diuretic, sedative, insect repellant
    * Use with caution during pregnancy
  • Chamomile, Roman (Anthemis nobilis) –
    Anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, anti-parasitic, antispasmodic
    * Can cause irritation for VERY sensitive skin—very rare
  • Citronella (Cymbopogon nardus) – Antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, deodorizing, insecticidal
    * Use caution during pregnancy, do not directly inhale, can irritate sensitive skin
  • Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea) – Anticonvulsive, antifungal, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, nerve tonic, sedative, soothing, tonic, warming
    *Use with caution during pregnancy, NOT for babies, do not use before/after drinking alcohol
  • Clove (Syzygium aromaticum) –
    Analgesic, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiparasitic, strong antiseptic, antiviral, disinfectant, immune-stimulant
    * Use with caution during pregnancy, may irritate sensitive skin, HOT oil- use proper dilution
  • Copaiba (copaifera reticulata) – Analgesic, powerful anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiseptic, stimulant (circulatory & pulmonary systems)
  • Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) – Antibacterial, anti-infectious, antimicrobial, antiseptic, astringent, deodorant, diuretic, refreshing, relaxing
    * Use with caution during pregnancy
  • Elemi (canarium luzonicum) – Anti-catarrhal, antidepressant, anti-infectious, antiseptic, expectorant, sedative
  • Eucalyptus (eucalyptus radiate) – Antibacterial, anti-catarrhal, anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, expectorant
    * Not for use with children under 2
  • Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) – Anti-parasitic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antitoxic, diuretic, expectorant
    * Use with caution during pregnancy or if susceptible to epilepsy
  • Frankincense (Boswellia carterii) – Anti-catarrhal, antidepressant, anticancer, anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, anti-tumor, expectorant, immune-stimulant, sedative
  • Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) – Antibacterial, antidepressant, antiseptic, astringent, diuretic, insect repellent, refreshing, relaxing, sedative, tonic
  • Ginger (Zingiber officianle) – Antiseptic, laxative, stimulant, tonic, warming
    * Avoid direct sunlight for 3-6 hours after topical application.
  • Grapefruit (Citrus x paradissi) – Antidepressant, antiseptic, disinfectant, diuretic, stimulant, tonic
    * Avoid direct sunlight or UV light for 12 hours after application.  May irritate very sensitive skin.
  • Helichrysum* (Helichrysum angustifolia var. italicum) –
    Antibacterial, anti-catarrhal, anticoagulant, antioxidant, antispasmodic, antiviral, expectorant, mucolytic
  • Juniper Berry* (Juniperus communis) –
    Antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, carminative, depurative, diuretic, stimulant, tonic
    * Do not use while pregnant or if you have kidney issues
  • Lavender* (Lavandula angustifolia) –
    Analgesic, anticoagulant, antidepressant, antifungal, antihistamine, anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-mutagenic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antitoxic, regenerative, sedative
  • Lemon (Citrus limon) – Antidepressant, antiseptic, antifungal, antioxidant, antiviral, astringent, invigorating, refreshing, tonic
    * Avoid direct sunlight for 12 hours after use.  Can irritate skin.
  • Lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus) – Analgesic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, insect repellent, revitalizer, sedative, tonic, vasodilator
    * Can cause skin irritation. Attracts Bees.
  • Lime (Citrus aurantifolia) – Antibacterial, antiseptic, antiviral, restorative, tonic
    * Avoid direct sunlight for 12 hours after use topically.
  • Manuka (eptospermum scoparium) – Analgesic, anti-allergic, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-infectious, antiviral, antihistamine, antiseptic, decongestant, antimicrobial
  • Marjoram* (Origanum majorana) – Antibacterial, anti-infectious, antiseptic, antispasmodic, diuretic, expectorant, sedative ,tonic
    * Use with caution during pregnancy.
  • Melaleuca – Tea Tree (melaleuca alternifolia) –
    Analgesic, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-parasitic, strong antiseptic, antiviral, decongestant, expectorant, immune stimulant, insecticidal, neurotonic, tissue regenerative
  • Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha) – Anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antitumor, astringent, tonic
    * Use with caution during pregnancy
  • Myrtle (Myrtus communis ssp. Red) – Antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-parasitic, antiseptic, astringent, expectorant, decongestant, deodorizer
  • Neroli (Citrus aurantium bigaradia) – Antibacterial, antidepressant, anti-infectious, antiparasitic, antiviral, aphrodisiac, deodorant, sedative, tonic
  • Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans) – Anti-inflammatory, anti-parasitic, antiseptic, stimulant, laxative, tonic
    * Not for use when you have epilepsy.  Use with caution during pregnancy.  Only use in careful/proper dilution.
  • Orange* – sweet (Citrus sinensis) – Anticancer, antidepressant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, digestive, sedative, tonic
    * Avoid direct sunlight or UV light for 12 hours after topical use.
  • Oregano (Origanum compactum, CT Carvacrol) – Antibacterial, antifungal, anti-parasitic, antiseptic, antiviral, antispasmodic, immune stimulant
    * HOT oil – use in proper dilution, not for children under 2.  Can cause extreme skin irritation.
  • Peppermint (Mentha piperita) – Analgesic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, antiviral, invigorating
    * Do not use for children under 2.  Use with caution if you have high blood pressure.  Use with caution during pregnancy & while breastfeeding.
  • Pine-Antibacterial, Antifungal, Anti-inflammatory,  
    Analgesic, Diuretic, Energizing, Antiseptic, Decongestant, Antioxidant, Anti-Allergen, Anti-Microbial, Antitumor
    * Can cause skin irritation in some people. Perform a small patch test before using topically.
  • Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis, CT 1,8 Cineol) – Analgesic, antibacterial, anti-catarrhal, antifungal, anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, expectorant
    * Avoid during pregnancy.
    Not for people with epilepsy.
    Avoid if you have high blood pressure.
  • Sage (Salvia officinalis) – Antibacterial, anti-mutagenic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, decongestant, diuretic, disinfectant, contains estriol (estrogen like properties)
    * Avoid during pregnancy. Not for use if you have epilepsy or high blood pressure. Not for children.
  • Tangerine (Citrus nobilis) – Anticoagulant, anti-inflammatory, laxative, sedative
  • Valerian (Valerian officinalis) – Antianxiety, antibacterial, antispasmodic, regulator, hypnotic, sedative
  • Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanoides) – Antiseptic, antispasmodic, calming, grounding, immune stimulant, warming, sedative, stimulant
    * Use with caution during pregnancy
  • Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) – Analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-rheumatic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, disinfectant, diuretic, stimulant (bone), warming
    * Avoid during pregnancy. Not for people with epilepsy. Some people are very allergic to methyl salicylate – test small area for skin allergies before using!
  • Ylang Ylang* (Cananga odorata) – Antidepressant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, sedative, tonic

52 Project, Week 26: Watermelon

52 Project, Week 26: Watermelon

Summer and watermelon go together like pumpkins and autumn.   Watermelon is one of my favorite summer treats.  The kids usually flock around me when I start to chop one up.

This year, I grew watermelon for the first time.  We got a bunch of cute little watermelons that tasted amazing.  There really is nothing better than food grown at home. 

Watermelon is harder to photograph than I thought it would be.  I’ve always struggled to photograph the color red.  I’ve attempted to tackle it with roses but even then, they’re not exactly to my liking. 

That’s the kind of challenge that I don’t give up on.  I actually did this photoshoot 3 times.  The first two were not to my liking.  My last, I can finally say that I have an image I’m proud of.  

Previous Week: 52 Project, Week 25: Patterns
Next Week: Flip Flops/Sandals
Main Page for 52 Project

Join us for the photography challenge! We’d love to see your images!
You can post your image on our Facebook page here:

Or tag us on Instagram with #cisforcomfort52
Need inspiration for your watermelon project?  Check out my inspiration board on Pinterest!

Roasted Dandelion Root Tea Recipes

Roasted Dandelion Root Tea Recipes

I used to hate coffee.  It smelled amazing but tasted awful.  The bitterness made me grimace and I couldn’t fathom why people actually drank it.

Enter the Caribou Caramel Cooler.  My Mom drank them often and despite my aversion to coffee, I fell in love with it.  Granted, all of the caramel, whipped cream and sugar probably helped a bit.

Once I developed corn allergies, I was greatly disappointed that I could no longer drink Caribou.  Determined to still have a bit of my former life, I made my own at home.  Although the ones I made were delicious and also healthier than the ones from caribou, I was still having health problems.

In addition to the homemade coolers, I had also experimented with making lattes for those cold winter days we get up here in Minnesota.  If I ever got too busy and my latte cooled, I would add a few ice cubes for an iced coffee.

After reading about the health benefits of dandelions, specifically, dandelion roots, I decided to give roasted dandelion root a try.  I had no idea what to expect.  I was drinking the roasted root of something I’d been taught my whole life was a weed.  With my first sip, I grimaced.  Yuck!

It was very bitter!  How was I going to finish off this cup?  I loaded it with honey, my usual go-to for tea.  It made it only slightly more palatable.

I continued to drink coffee every day.  I decided to try the organic coffee and I noticed immediately the increase of my health problems  I determined that coffee was the culprit behind my eczema flare-ups on my hand, the panic attacks and a general feeling of malaise.  I decided to kick the habit. I quit cold turkey.

I’m not going to lie, the first day was brutal.  I was desperate.  I wanted coffee and I wanted it now!  Who cares about eczema when coffee was so delicious!  Realizing I sounded like an addict, I was even more determined to give it up.  Standing at the cupboard, staring longingly at my coffee, I bypassed it for my basket of tea.  That’s when I spotted the roasted dandelion root.  A lightbulb went off over my head!

Dandelion root tea was bitter, just like coffee! Surely I could treat my tea like coffee and make a latte!  I did just that.  It wasn’t quite as strong as regular coffee but it was a great substitute!

I began drinking it every day and I no longer felt desperate for coffee.  The eczema on my hand went away.  My panic attacks became less frequent.  I didn’t feel as tired.  I felt better!

I experimented with different ways to make dandelion root into different versions of fun coffee-like beverages.  My favorite is the mock Caribou Cooler.

Are you trying to kick the coffee habit?   Have you tried using Roasted Dandelion Root as an alternative?

Dandelion Latte

  • 1 tea bag (this is what I use!)
  • mug
  • boiling water
  •  1 TBSP organic heavy whipping cream
  •  1 TBSP pure maple syrup

Loop tea bag around mug handle.  Fill cup 3/4 full with boiling water. Let steep for 10-15 minutes. Remove tea bag and squeeze out remaining liquid.  Stir in cream and maple syrup.  Enjoy!

Iced Dandelion Latte

  • 1 tea bag
  • mug
  • boiling water
  •  1 TBSP organic heavy whipping cream
  •  1 TBSP pure maple syrup
  • 3-4 ice cubes

Loop tea bag around mug handle.  Fill cup 3/4 full with boiling water. Let steep for 10-15 minutes. Allow tea to cool.  Remove tea bag and squeeze out the remaining liquid.  Stir in cream and maple syrup.  Add a few ice cubes.  Enjoy!

Iced Cubed Dandelion Latte

  • 1 tea bag
  • mug
  • boiling water
  •  1 TBSP organic heavy whipping cream
  •  2 TBSP pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk

Loop tea bag around mug handle.  Fill cup 3/4 full with boiling water. Let steep for 10-15 minutes. Allow tea to cool.  Remove tea bag and squeeze out the remaining liquid.  Stir in cream and maple syrup.  Pour into ice cube tray and allow to freeze completely.  Add ice cubes to the brim of a glass.  Pour coconut milk over the ice cubes.  Enjoy!

Blended Dandelion Latte/Mock Caribou Cooler

Blended Tea
  • 1 tea bag
  • extra large mug
  • boiling water
  •  1 TBSP organic heavy whipping cream
  •  2 TBSP pure maple syrup
  • 4-6 ice cubes
Whipped Cream
  • 1/3 cup organic heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 tbsp maple syrup

Loop tea bag around mug handle.  Fill cup 1/2 full with boiling water. Let steep for 10-15 minutes. Allow tea to cool.  Remove tea bag and squeeze out the remaining liquid.  Pour in blender or ninja single serve cup.  Add in cream, maple syrup, and ice.  Blend until smooth.  Pour into mug.

Put whipped cream ingredients in the blender.  Blend until just whipped.  Do not over whip or you’ll have butter. Spoon whipping cream onto the tea.  Enjoy!

I hope you love these recipes as much as I do!  You’ll have to let me know if you give them a try!




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45 Inspirational Quotes for Photographers

45 Inspirational Quotes for Photographers

Here are 45 inspirational quotes for photographers to inspire and motivate you!

“There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.”
Ansel Adams

“Don’t shoot what it looks like. Shoot what it feels like.”
David Alan Harvey

“The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the people in it do.”
Andy Warhol

“Photography is the story I fail to put into words.”
Destin Sparks

“It is more important to click with people than to click the shutter.”
Alfred Eisenstaedt


“Photography is a love affair with life.”
Burk Uzzle

“There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.”
Ansel Adams

“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”
Ansel Adams

“Only photograph what you love.”
Tim Walker


“Photography is the beauty of life captured.”
Tara Chisolm

“I didn’t choose photography, photography chose me.”
Gerardo Suter

“It’s not the camera but who’s behind the camera.”
Anonymous

“A camera is a SAVE button for the mind’s eye.”
Roger Kingston

“I think of photography like therapy.”
Harry Gruyaert

“Taking pictures is savoring life intensely every hundredth of a second.”
Mark Riboud

“A good snapshot keeps a moment from running away.”
Eudora Welty

You know you’re a photographer if the ocean is never just the ocean, it’s a backdrop.
Anonymous

A camera didn’t make a great picture any more than a typewriter wrote a great novel.
Peter Adams

If you want to learn what someone fears losing, watch what they photograph
Anonymous


“Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow.”
Imogen Cunningham

“It’s weird that photographers spend years or even a whole lifetime, trying to capture moments that added together, don’t even amount to a couple of hours.”
James Lalropui Keivom

“Character, like a photograph, develops in darkness.”
Yousuf Karsh

“When I photograph, what I’m really doing is seeking answers to things.”
Wynn Bullock

“Life is like a camera. Just focus on what’s important and capture the good times, develop from the negatives and if things don’t work out, just take another shot.”
Unknown

“The camera is an excuse to be someplace you otherwise don’t belong. It gives me both a point of connection and a point of separation.”
Susan Meiselas

“I love the people I photograph. I mean, they’re my friends. I’ve never met most of them or I don’t know them at all, yet through my images, I live with them.”
Bruce Gilden

You can look at a picture for a week and never think of it again.  You can also look at a picture for a second and think of it all your life.
Joan Miro

“I wish that all of nature’s magnificence, the emotion of the land, the living energy of place could be photographed.”
Annie Leibovitz

“When people ask me what equipment I use – I tell them my eyes.”
Anonymous

“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”
Elliott Erwitt

“Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph.”
Matt Hardy

“What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.”
Karl Lagerfeld

“One doesn’t stop seeing. One doesn’t stop framing. It doesn’t turn off and turn on. It’s on all the time.”
Annie Leibovitz

“I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn’t photograph them.”
Diane Arbus

“When I have a camera in my hand, I know no fear.”
Alfred Eisenstaedt

“Through photography, I see God.”
Melissa Greeder

“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it”
Confucious

“When I photograph, what I’m really doing is seeking the answers to things.”
Wynn Bullock

“Art isn’t a result, it’s a journey.”
Seth Godin


“Veni. Vidi. Cepi. I came. I saw. I captured.”
Anonymous

“Eyes like a shutter.  Mind like a lens.”
Anonymous

“The earth is art, the photographer is only a witness.”
Yann Arthus-Bertrand

“The only photographer you should compare yourself to is the one you used to be.”
Anonymous

“Photography is to place head, heart, and eye along the same line of sight.  It is a way of life.”
Anonymous

“Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints.”
Anonymous

What is your favorite photography quote?




Camping on Lake Superior

Camping on Lake Superior
Camping Day 2

It didn’t just rain, it stormed.  Camping on Lake Superior makes sound travel quite a distance.  So thunder and lightning illuminated the tent like an all-night fireworks show.  Rain pattered the tent almost constantly and some moments, it sounded like the sky opened up and dumped everything it had on us.

At one point, Nate got up to check on the floor to see how wet it was.  He moved my bags from the side of the bed to the end.  My side of the tent was floating on a large puddle of water that was caught between the tent and the tarp.  It wasn’t leaking in, but it was damp.  He pushed on it to show how it jiggled like a waterbed.

Despite the lack of sleep, I was excited to get up when my alarm went off.  The rain had stopped and soft light and the sound of birds greeted me.  I dressed for the Kingdom Hall along with Cupcake.  At the last minute, the rest of the family decided to join us so they could explore Grand Marais.

I drove carefully down the road through thick fog.  Fog is so beautiful.  The air smells sweet and delicious.  The cool air is comforting and invigorating.  I kind of wish I could start every morning with a beautiful thick lake fog.

The Grand Marais Kingdom Hall was adorable.  It was a small, beautiful building with tall windows along each side.  Every once and awhile a bird would fly by and I’d have to refocus on what was going on inside, rather than the beauty outside.

The talk itself was so good!  The part that stuck with me was a metaphor.  If Jehovah throws us a lifesaver when we’re drowning, it’s up to us to make the effort to reach out.  All the life preservers in the world won’t matter if we don’t make the effort to reach out and grab that help he’s offering us.

After heading back to our campsite, I made bug spray.  The kids ran around playing while I enjoyed my tea.  We were all exhausted so we took a nap.  Once we woke up, we were ready for adventure!

We hiked down acrossTemperance River through the fog.  At the bridge, we used our drone* to take a family portrait.  There was a couple next to us who used to come to Temperance with their kids but this time, they were alone, their children all grown up.  It made me feel like freezing time and holding my babies in my arms.

They’ve grown up so fast.  Before I know it, they’ll have moved on with their lives and I’ll be taking vacations without them.  Right now, they are my little people.  I can protect them, guide them, love them and adore my time with them.  I don’t want to waste a moment.

We had a lot of fun exploring the rocks along the shore.  We’ve never gone past the beach before so we enjoyed going a little further.  Mr. Awesome was having a lot of fun jumping from rock to rock.  I think if we let them, they would have gone along the shore until they were tired.

We wanted to have dinner and relax before it got dark, so we walked back to our campsite.  Princess and I had butter mushrooms for dinner while everyone else had brats.

It was a wonderful day.  Camping on Lake Superior is so peaceful, an experience which could almost tantamount to the time when we’d been camping in Yosemite National Park. That night we crawled into bed and fell asleep to the sound of wind through the trees and slept deeply.

*Note: We found out later after asking a park ranger about their drone policies that drones are no longer allowed at State Parks.  They changed the policy last year.  Drones are interfering with Peregrine Falcon nesting grounds in certain areas.  Rather than police certain areas where they shouldn’t be used, they issued a full ban.  The videos we took with our drone were the only ones we took for the trip.  Birds are more important than getting some pretty footage for videos.




Check out our video from our day!

Did you miss Camping, Day 1?  Read about it here!

INSTAGRAM @ melissajg

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Temperance River State Park

Temperance River State Park

Temperance River State Park is one of the most beautiful places in Minnesota, in my opinion.  Temperance has camping right on Lake Superior.  It’s got beautiful trees, flowers, and wildlife.  You can hear the sound of the lake lapping against the rocks, the waterfall roaring, the delicate song of the birds singing in the morning or the wind blowing through the branches of the trees.  The wind from the lake keeps mosquitos at a minimum.  If you’re there at the right time, you can enjoy being shrouded in the thick fog rolling in off the lake.

1st Day Of Camping

My favorite place to camp is Temperance River State Park.  It’s right off of Lake Superior.  At some of our previous campsites, we could see the lake from our campsite.  This time we chose a new camping spot, closer to the river than the lake.  It was my favorite spot so far!

The weeks prior to camping, I prepped to make sure that the day we left wouldn’t be too stressful or crazy.  I washed ALL of our dirty laundry.  With 6 people, that’s something to be proud of! Ha! I preordered food, prepped and made food, packed up and cleaned.

Even with all of the prep, the day of still had a lot of work.  At 7 am a heat advisory alert popped up on my phone, so we were trying to hurry before it got too hot.  I finished packing up outfits for myself, Princess and Mr. Awesome.  We loaded up the van while trying not to stress or fight.

Our goal was to leave by noon, but we left a little late at 1:30, which isn’t too bad.  The temperature was just starting to get unbearable.  We cranked up our air conditioning and began our long drive with Nate at the wheel.

Surprisingly, our first bathroom stop was 2 hours into our trip.  We stretched our legs and had a snack in the parking lot.  An ambulance pulled up next to us and offered the kids a tour.  I think everyone was too sleepy and shy to accept, but we thanked them for their offer.  We got back on the road with my turn to drive and didn’t stop until we got to Cloquet.

We had to pick up a couple things at Walmart that we’d forgotten.  Small mayo, ketchup and mustard, hot dog and hamburger buns, band-aids, butter, sandwich meat, chocolate, a bigger chair for Mr. Awesome, and swimming trunks for Nate.  We spent about an hour, at least, shopping.

I was getting really excited as we got back on the road.  We were so close to Lake Superior.  I was tingling with excitement and joy.  As we came over the hill and caught our first glimpse of the lake, my heart raced with happiness.

Usually, after a long drive, I get sleepy staring at the monotonous stretch of road before me.  Driving up the north shore, with glimpses of Lake Superior I could barely contain my excitement.  At some point, fog began to gather on the Lake and engulf the shore.  I think I had a dopey grin plastered on my face for the rest of the trip.

As soon as we pulled into Temperance, everyone else woke up.  The office was closed for the day, but we checked our initials off the list for our spot.  As we pulled into our new space Nate was also giddy with excitement.  The last time we’d been up, he’d scouted all the locations in search of the best one for our large tent and family.

This spot had a large pull through driveway with plenty of space for the kids to run around.  There was a huge tent pad and opposite the driveway, a nice large area for the picnic table and fire ring.  It was right next to the river, so we could hear it from our campsite.

The first thing we did was unload the topper on our van.  The kids set up the chairs while Nate and I set up the travel gazebo for the table.  That was, if it rained, our stuff would stay dry on the table.  I began pulling out the blankets and bags and handing them off to the kids.

We pulled out and set up our tent in exactly 5 minutes!  Sometimes we can do it faster, but we forgot to lock the roof beams before straightening out the legs.  I threw in the air mattresses and had the kids start blowing them up.  I pulled everything from the van and put the food in the trunk to keep it safe from bears.

After that, we made the beds so that we could fall into bed after we got tired.  The big girls immediately crawled into bed to relax. The mattress that had been laid out was so comfy. Cat worked on her sketches and Cupcake read comics.

I was itching to see Lake Superior and let it melt my stress away.  I asked everyone if they wanted to join me.  Only Mr. Awesome and Princess did.  They’re always up for an adventure!

We tried a new path that led to a rocky area by the lake, across from the beach.  It felt like we were climbing down into another world.  The lake was shrouded by fog which added to the mystery.

After letting the kids climb around on the rocks and try to skip pebbles on the shore,  I was ready to head back for dinner.  We climbed up the steep stairs leading back to our campsite.

For dinner, we made hamburgers.  Princess and I had 100% grass-fed beef and gluten free bread for our “buns”.  We cuddled around the campfire and enjoyed the warm fire in the dark.  We were happy to climb into our comfy beds once the embers burned down.

It was a fabulous first day of camping!  Have you camped at Temperance River State Park?  What campsite is your favorite?




Check out our video!

Continue on to Camping, Day 2!

INSTAGRAM @ melissajg

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20 Fun FREE Date Ideas

20 Fun FREE Date Ideas

Sometimes, life gets busy and money gets tight.  Having a list of 20 fun free date ideas can help keep the romance alive.  From going to the library to having a backyard bonfire, there are so many fun ways to spend time together that don’t break the bank.

1.Go to the Park

This idea is kind of a three in one idea.  You could have a simple picnic if you’d like a more intimate and relaxing date.  If you’re feeling more adventurous, you could go hiking or biking.  We love hiking at our favorite local parks and exploring new ones in nearby cities.  Fresh air, exercise, beautiful scenery, what’s not to love?!  Well, maybe bugs.  Don’t forget to wear bug spray!

2.Movie Night at Home

There are so many ways to watch movies at home now!  Browse through your old DVD collection for an old favorite.  Check out Netflix, Amazon or Hulu for something new if you have a subscription.  Go to the library to check out their selection.  Snuggling up to a good movie is a great way to relax together after a long day.

3.Board Games

We have a lot of games, but we don’t often get to play them.  Back when we were first dating, we loved to play different games together,  like Scrabble for example.  Taking the time to have a game night can give you something fun to do while allowing you to have a playful conversation.

4.Go to the Library

The library is a lot of fun with the kids, but it’s also a lot of fun without them!  Browsing the books together, picking out a fun movie, laughing over the music section and reminiscing, browsing through the exercise equipment, even if we don’t pick out anything (how can you not?!) the library is always a blast!

5.Puzzles

I LOVE puzzles!  Whenever I get a new one going, the whole family loves to spend time tackling it.   Spending time alone on date night working on a puzzle is a fun challenge!  I find puzzle nights are great for the times when you don’t want to say much.  Puzzles can be a stress reliever.  So if you’ve had a rough day/week/month, this might be a great way to tackle some of life’s anxieties by doing something you CAN solve.

6.Video Games

If your spouse loves video games, but you are not a fan, it might put you out of your comfort zone a little at first.  Playing together can be a lot of fun though!  If you’re not into violent games, like me, there are so many other fun ways to play.  Many game systems have physically active games that allow you to get up and move, like Fruit Ninja.  If you’d rather sit down, Tetris is always a fun challenge.

7. Take a Walk

Sometimes, a simple walk around the neighborhood can be a lot of fun.  It’s just you and your sweetie, walking, talking and getting some fresh air.  I find a simple walk can take the pressure off of date planning and allow you to just relax.

8.Cook and Clean up Dinner Together

I’m usually the one who cooks at our house.  Sometimes, Nate will take over for a night if I’m not feeling well.  Cooking together though, makes the work go faster and is a lot of fun!  Cleaning up together means that no one is stuck doing the dishes alone.  If cooking dinner is too intimidating, try making a simple dessert or appetizer.

9.Museum

We have a lot of museums in our area.  Many of them have free days or free sections.  Most history museums have a fee to help pay for upkeep, but sometimes they have a free day.  Often, you can get a free pass at the local library.  Many art museums are free.  A few of the bigger ones do charge a fee, so always check before heading out.

10.Window Shopping Downtown

Our town has a cute little historic downtown strip.  It’s full of antique stores, boutique shops, cafes, and restaurants.  It’s a lot of fun to check out all of the unique items in the antique stores and window shop some of the newer boutiques.

11.Backyard Bonfire

Summer doesn’t last very long here in Minnesota, so bonfires are only optional a few months a year.  We love to take advantage of this time to sit outside and enjoy the warm night air, under the stars, cuddled up next to the fire.

12.Tea/Dessert on the Porch

If you have a porch, like we do, it’s nice to sit out early or late on hot summer days.  Taking a little time to enjoy the quiet solitude that comes with dawn and dusk with a nice cup of tea or a shared dessert is a lot of fun!

13.Fishing/Boating

Here in Minnesota, we have over 10,000 lakes.  (11,842 lakes of 10 acres or more.  21.871 if you count the lakes under 10 acres!) We also have 69,200 miles of rivers which gives us many opportunities to enjoy some time on the water.  We’ve gone fishing as a family, but fishing as a couple can be fun too!  If you are vegan or don’t like to fish, sightseeing is also a lot of fun!  Don’t forget to take binoculars for a little bird watching!

14.Study the Bible Together

There is nothing else like putting God first in our lives.  Spending quality time together, with God, is one of the most important things a couple can do together.  God can help draw a couple closer and give peace and contentment.

15. Go Through Family Photo Albums

As the years roll by and memories add up, it can be a lot of fun to look back on some of those favorite experiences together.  Sometimes, this can inspire new plans for the future, so keep a notebook and pen handy!

16.Play Cards

Playing cards can be as easy as Go Fish, Speed or even a little more challenging, like enjoying a game of poker.  If you don’t know how to play any card games, you can easily google how to play!  Even better, there are a lot of videos on Youtube showing you exactly how to play!  Cards are simple, cheap and can lead to a lot of laughs.

17.Build/Make Something

Is there something fun that you’ve always wanted to try?  Build a birdhouse?  Make a garden?  Make a Chalkboard?  Hang up some framed family pictures?  Make a fun date of it!  If you don’t know how to do any of these things but want to, check out community education classes, your local library courses, or ask a friend who’s more experienced to help you plan the basics before getting started.

18.Exercise together

I’ve already mentioned hiking, biking and taking walks, but breaking out a workout DVD or pulling up a workout on youtube to try together can be a lot of fun!  Just make sure to take it slow if you don’t work out on a regular basis!

19. Read Together

Did you find an awesome book at the library or do you have a favorite you’d love to read again?  Make it a date night book.  Take turns reading chapters out loud (or pages if the chapters are long).  No cheating and reading without your partner on non-date nights though!

20.Pamper Each Other

Put on face masks, file each other’s nails, or paint them if you’re feeling adventurous!  Take a relaxing bath together, if your bath is big enough!  If you don’t have a big enough tub, have a detox foot bath.  Give a nice back or shoulder massage.  Both men and women love to be pampered!

I hope these 20 fun free date ideas have inspired you for a date night of your own!  What is your favorite thing to do on a date night?  Have you given any of these a try?  Let me know in the comments!




Nerstrand Big Woods State Park

Nerstrand Big Woods State Park

Are you looking for a fun new place to hike and you’re interested in Nerstrand Big Woods State Park?  Maybe you’re looking for a waterfall to check out, or maybe you want to have a challenging hike for a good workout.  Read on to find all about it!

Last year, we had a lot of fun doing a 5 Week Workout Challenge.  For 5 weeks we visited a bunch of parks for hiking and also did a couple indoor workouts.  It was a lot of fun!

Although I’d love to try another challenge this year, I’m not sure what yet.  I have a few fun ideas already!  This year though, we have already started visiting new parks!   Our first new park was Nerstrand Big Woods State Park.

We’ve seen some amazing images of the waterfall at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park.  We also noticed on the website that they had a campground.  Since we love camping, we decided to check it out.

The drive out to Nerstrand was about 45 minutes.  We weren’t disappointed by the scenery,   There were lovely rolling hills of farmland broken up sporadically by patches of woods and walls of rock cut through the hills.

I found it amusing that a place called Big Woods could be found in the middle of so much farmland.   So many times, I could see nothing but fields as far as the eye could see, and I couldn’t imagine how a huge forest could be hiding somewhere.

As the fields turned to denser and denser trees, we all became excited at the newest adventure before us.  Driving up to the park, we noticed a huge solar panel, awesome!  Thankfully our state parking permit was up to date.  If you don’t have a state permit, you can find current prices here.

We drove through the campground to check out the sites to see if it seemed like a place we could stay at.  The campgrounds are a thinly wooded area and are moderately spaced apart.  Some of the spots did not look like they could fit our large tent.  Many did have adequate room, given it is an RV friendly park.  So if you’re tenting, make sure to check the tent ffot print.

We parked at the entrance to the walking trails and checked out the map.  The park was huge.  Hidden in the dense trees, I could almost forget we were surrounded by farmland and miles upon miles of fields.   On the map, the park looks like a little green dot in the middle of nowhere.  In the park, you find yourself in a precious oasis of trees and trails.

We chose a shorter hike since it was our first of the season.  We decided to head to the waterfalls one way and back another.  Both were listed as extremely difficult.

I found out that the difficulty was most likely related to the incline.  Down was easy, up, was not.  Unrelated to the map, we also had to navigate the mud and puddles left behind by the winter melt.  I think this was probably the hardest for our family.  Trying to keep the kids from playing in the mud!  Ha!

The day we came was incredibly busy.  Everyone else must have been equally excited to get out of the house.  Everywhere we turned on the way down were people and dogs.  People in front and behind us.  Given that most Minnesotans are cheerful folk, we had a lot of small chit chat and friendly greetings.

The falls were beautiful.  There was still snow and ice all around.  I can only imagine how they must look frozen over.  The falls themselves aren’t very large.  I wasn’t worried about the kids drowning in the creek, should they fall in, just that they would get wet and make a mess.  I did have to constantly reign them in due to the pent-up excitement of being outside.

Our way back was pretty not so crowded.  Although we could hear the gleeful sounds of children echoing throughout the park intermittently.  I had to have Nate drag me up one steep hill, but other than that, the rest was a relaxing stroll.

We really enjoyed our visit.  We might have to come back another time to check out some of the other trails and to see what the park looks like when it turns green!  Or maybe even come back in the fall!  It looks like they get a lot of beautiful color!

Have you been to Newstrand Big Woods State Park? What is your favorite hiking trail in Minnesota?  Let us know, we’d love to check it out!




Check out our video!