Exercise Boost Brain Power

Check out this great infographic I was sent by Alison from Online Courses sent me, head over to GracieSchool to check out why I love it so much :o)

How Working Out Can Make You Smarter Infographic

Real nappies

Photo Credit
When my son was small we used real nappies. We couldn't afford the fancy ones (birth to potty kit £400? You have to be kidding) so we made do with the 99p terry nappies that our parents used and some plastic-y type covers I got from freecycle.

In fact my frugal-ness concerning his nappies inspired this conversation to appear under a photo of my son on facebook:

Christine: [in response to the accusation it looks like her daughter is about to hit him] it's because of his pants... Aaron looks like he is trying to tell him something... 'Err... excuse me, but  your pants are ridiculously low, you rude boy..
Me: You're just jealous.
Richard: Yeah, those pants are ridiculous. You look like you just wrapped him in a tea towel.
Me: Yeah? Well you'll be glad one day, when your babies can all breathe and have a planet to  live on because Will was thoughtful enough to reuse his diapers...
Richard:  Is he using the same nappy without cleaning it? Because that would explain it's size...
photo credit

Well, things have come a looong way since back then, and it turns out you can now buy shaped nappies and liners really cheaply on ebay, in fact the entire set that my daughter currently uses (and we have more than we need) set me back less than £30. We'd spend more than that on disposables in a month! Not only that, but they come in totally cute patterns too.

It's saving us a fortune, but you should be aware that we don't pay any bills where we live. If you are going to switch to real nappies you might want to factor in the cost of running your washing machine and extra time everyday. We also have a HUGE boiler room that I hang them in to dry overnight, as the bamboo would take several days on a line in most British weather. Also, for that reason (water, electricity, washing soap, tumble dryer etc...) I'm not sure how eco friendly they actually are. I'll leave that to you to decide.

BUT, we do use them, and here is why:
Doesn't everything on this blog eventually seem to come down to the same thing? I know you must be getting bored of it by now, but bear with me. Cutting out toxins in our lives is a major part of our healing, along with the diet, and disposable diapers are pretty toxic.

Have you ever noticed little jelly crystals on your babies bottom after you've left them in a diaper a wee bit too long? Maybe overnight? (In fact, now I think on it they look a lot like my water kefir babies...) Those crystals are a substance called PolyAcrylic Acid. This is a substance which absorbs liquid (useful in a diaper, right?) but you should also know that it was banned from use in tampons in 1985 due to links with toxic shock syndrome. In fact, employees of factories where polyacrylic acid is used are found to suffer organ damage, fatigue and extreme weight loss. It also draws moisture away from the babies skin and contributes to nappy rash and bleeding of the perenium and scrotum. In fact, 54% of one month old babies using disposable diapers have nappy rash according to the Journal of Pediatrics and 16% have 'severe' rashes. Procter & Gamble also did a study and found that the risk of nappy rash increased from just 7.1% to 61% if you use disposable diapers.

TBT or Tribulytin is also found in several brands of disposable diaper and has been linked with immune system damage and hormonal problems, including male sterility.  They also contain dioxin, which is a by product of the bleach used in disposable diapers is carcinogenic and known to cause birth defects, skin disease and liver damage.

As with most things on this blog, this is a journey for us. We don't do it perfectly. I send Lila to kids work at church in a disposable diaper (I don't think it's fair to the teenage helpers to have to deal with real nappies), but she wears bamboo most of the time. In all honesty I'm hoping that we will be all potty trained and moving on from this whole season of our lives fairly shortly!

When we do, if anybody wants some gorgeous bamboo nappies, drop me an email and I'll post them your way.

Little by little we are removing the toxic substances from our lives, not completely, but better than we were. My best advice is this -  if you you can't everything, don't let it stop you doing something.

Pesto dressing

We've been on holiday back in Cumbria and you can catch up on all our adventures here; but what I really wanted to tell you about is salad dressing.

My friend Laura made us the most spectacularly good GAPS legal meal on our last night, and I had the pleasure of cooking alongside her and learning some new recipes.

This salad dressing is absolute heaven, and is based on a river cottage recipe from the 'veg everyday' cookbook, but with a bit of a twist.

It's simple to make, and you could easily eat it with absolutely anything, but drizzled over a French bean and courgette salad was how we had it and it was amazing. It's also a great way to use up the glut of pesto you will have made if your herb garden is looking anything like ours this summer!

You will need:
- 3tbsp cold pressed olive oil
- juice and zest of one lime
- juice and zest of one orange
- a clove of garlic
- 2 tbsp of pesto (how to make pesto)
- generous amounts of salt and pepper

You basically pound all this stuff together in a pestle and mortar (which I'd never used before, but thoroughly enjoyed) then drizzle in the liquid ingredients, adding the oil last and whisking just before you drizzle over your salad.

We actually used red pesto, but I've since come home and made it with green and I haven't quite decided which is best...

I'm thinking this could work well to marinade my 'sun dried' (dehydrated) tomatoes too.

Clean Water

Accessing clean drinking water is a real concern for mothers bringing up children in developing nations. Almost 900 million people around the world do not have this access. Dirty drinking water can cause all kinds of fatal diseases, which can usually be cured with very simple treatments, but simple doesn't mean they always have access to them.

Praise God that we never have to worry about our drinking water. Pray that God would help people to bring clean water and treatments to diseases in all the communities where they are so desperately needed around the world.

Organisations like Compassion and Zao are working hard to bring clean water to communities. Could you help?

Sun Lotion

Although it's cooling off now, we've had some rather un-english weather recently and I've loved every bit of it! However our GAPS journey has had me learning more and more about the chemicals we surround ourselves with in our every day lives, and sunscreen was an area where I had to make some changes. 

If you know any dermatologists, some of them will swear that sunscreen will prevent cancer; some of them will swear that it's the cause. You need to do a bit of research for yourself on this, but there is a lot of compelling evidence that skin cancer  and sun burn are dietary related. Yes, the sun has an impact, but sunbathing can actually reduce your risk of skin cancer if you have good nutrition - whilst increasing it if your nutrition is poor. 

Personally, I swayed by the opinion that health and nutrition would affect how your skin responds to the sun. As a child/teenager I never needed sunscreen. My mum slathered it on me from time to time, but I often got away without and I never burned. After I had meningitis and glandular fever, I burned. The first time I got sun burned I was 21 and I couldn't believe how much it hurt. I didn't tan again for nearly 7 years. In fact, this year is the first time I have really tanned. What's changed? GAPS. 

Obviously diet is something the children and I are working on, but in the meantime, should we wear sunscreen? It's a difficult question. I don't want my kids to burn, but the commercially available sunscreens are full of the toxic substances that we are trying to avoid on GAPS.  

My conclusion is that the best thing I can do for my kids is ensure that we are in the shade between 11 and 3 on hot days. This is fairly easy for the littlest one who still takes a nap, but harder for a four year old. It's especially hard when other people look after my children. 

Then I discovered that I could make my own GAPS legal sunscreen - and it's really easy! So here it is for all of you in it's simplest form.

1/2 cup carrier oil (almond, grapeseed - whatever you want to use)
1/2 cup beeswax
2 tbsp titanium dioxide

That's it, and you can buy it all easily online. You simply melt the beeswax, stir in the oil and the titanium, pour it in a jar and allow to cool. 
Now, if you like your sunscreen a bit more fancy, and I do, you can add a few ingredients - I added a little tocophyrol vitamin E (it's good for the skin) and a little eucalyptus oilhttps://write2katiejo.wixsite.com/oils (repels insects) to make my sunscreen a bit more personal. 

What you have in that recipe is about factor 50. If you use one tablespoon of titanium dioxide it would only be factor 25. That's the ingredient that gives you the SPF, so remember that if you  are adding lots of other ingredients. 

Also, never add citrus oils to sunscreen. They smell lovely, but they also increase the action of the sun on your skin, which is what we are trying to avoid. 

And whilst you're trying to improve your diet, wellnessmama has some great tips on how to eat for better sun-safe skin.


I'm totally indebted to the Cheese Slave for all kinds of things, but not least of which is the revelation that many of my 'M.E.' symptoms could be, for the most part, accounted for by  a magnesium deficiency.

Better yet, she also includes a recipe for the simplest fix ever, and for once it's not diet related!! Magnesium oil is simple and cheap to make, and so easy, just spritz on the tummy right before bed and your are good to have a fantastic nights sleep.
photo credit

The cheapest way to make this oil is to buy salts in bulk, so I bought myself a 5kg tub, not realising how long my two tablespoons would last in spray form! It turns out there are a hundred different ways to use them though, so never fear, I will get my money's worth. If you've bought an excess too, here are a few of the things you can use them for.

1. Bath Soaks - this is the most obvious one, but it's because the salts interfere with the pain receptors, so next time you have an achey, flu-ey, type cold, jump in the bath with a couple of cups of magnesium salts and a cup of olive oil (to moisturise) but don't use any soap (it interferes with the skins absorption).

2. Reduce inflammation from bites and stings - mix two tablespoons in a cup of water and soak cotton compresses to hold on the injury. This also works as a chemical free after-sun if you have been burnt.

3. Remove splinters - make your own drawing ointment with magnesium dissolved in water.

4. Hair cleaner - If you suffer from greasy hair, add some salts to your shampoo to soak up excess oil (about 1/3 cup to a 250ml bottle of shampoo).

5. Hair volumiser - warm equal parts of conditioner with salts until dissolved. Work the mixture through your hair, wait 20 minutes and then rinse for super soft, volumised, hair.

6. Grow more fruit - magnesium salts thrown around the base of plants like tomatoes and peppers, then watered into the soil, increases crop yield by as much as 40%

7. Sprinkle around your herbs and salad leaves to keep slugs at bay. They can't slide on it and you can steer clear of nasty repellents full of chemicals.

8. Clear eye infections - 1/2 a tsp of salts dissolved in a cup of boiled water allowed to cool and kept in the fridge can be used as an effective eye wash for conjunctivitis.

Simonette Child Development Centre

Before it partnered with Compassion, Simonette Child Development Centre in Haiti used to be a voodoo temple. A well known voodoo priest called Sore ruled it for decades before he turned to Christ. At his death he willed the property to the church. You can hear more about this amazing story here.

This week, join us in praising God for breaking the chains of spiritual bondage and bringing salvation to this community. Pray that God would use the church in Haiti to preach the good news of Jesus Christ and that God would continue to use Simonette Child development Centre to rescue people from the grip of voodoo.


It was me and Elisha's birthdays recently, she was two and I was... (ahem). Isn't she gorgeous?

In celebration we had a BBQ, and a few people have asked about my GAPS legal ketchup and the BBQish sauce that I served.

They're both really easy to make, so here are the recipes.


500g passata (homemade if possible, but if not just check for one that is, preferably organic, tomatoes with no added ingredients)
2 bay leaves
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar (raw, organic, with a mother if possible)
Honey, salt and pepper to taste

The nature of homemade passata is that it will taste different depending on the tomatoes used, so you will need to taste it to decide how much honey to use. I use somewhere between one and three tablespoons.

Place passata, honey, bay leaves and salt in a pan and bring to the boil, stirring constantly.
Allow to simmer for an hour or two until thick (a slow cooker without the lid works well).
Allow to cool.
Stir in your apple cider vinegar (allowing the mixture to cool first means you keep all the good stuff in your apple cider vinegar alive) and pour into a clean jar.

That's it.
On to the BBQish sauce.

In all honesty this sauce was a bit of a mistake, but one that tasted good! I was making BBQ sauce from memory and somewhere I merged into a hoisin sauce recipe. It's yummy, but the name BBQ sauce would definitely be misleading...

2 onions (chopped)
Juice of two limes
1 tbsp peanut butter
2 cloves of garlic
4 tbsp honey
3 tbsp soy sauce

Place the onions in a pan with a small amount of butter and cook over a low heat until soft.
Throw onions, garlic, lime juice and soy sauce into a blender and blitz until smooth.
Return to the pan and stir in peanut butter and honey over a low heat until well combined.
Cool and pour into a clean jar.

Easy Peasy.
Have a nice, chemical and sugar free, BBQ!

Small Change - Freshen Up Your Mattress

Small changes can make big differences to how welcoming your home is. You and your family spend plenty of time there, so making a few small habits can go a long way to bless you all.

Today's small change - Freshening up your mattresses.

Did you know the average mattress contains between 10,000 and 10,000,000 dust mites? Gross. vacuum slowly and regularly my friends. That's something I learned pre-GAPS when my kids both struggled a lot with asthma - thankfully it's not too much of a problem anymore.

To make your bed smell really fresh and great though, you need some mattress deodorant, and lucky for you I know how to make it ;-)
photo credit

Take 2 cups of baking soda (one for a single bed) and put it in a jar with a well fitting lid. Add 10 drops of your favourite essential oil, replace the lid and shake, shake, shake. You should try to choose something calming like lavender or chamomile that will aid sleep. I love citrus oils, but they aren't suitable for this job.

Sprinkle all over the mattress and leave it for an hour or so to soak up all that dirt, moisture and odour. Now grab your vaccuum with the upholstery attachment on and run it slowly along the mattress. Slowly is important to draw up as much dust and debris from inside the mattress as possible.

Now put on some fresh bed linen and enjoy that lovely clean bed!
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