Update: All The Things

by holli on March 18, 2015

CostaRicaAdventure 6 (1)

Hola from Costa Rica!

Hello, Dear Readers!

This is a long-overdue update. As I entered into 2015, I knew that I had some sorting and de-cluttering to do in my life in order to find more focus and balance to reach toward goals that kept evading me. Like dear friends that you are, I’m jumping back into the blogging sphere with a personal letter. Here’s what is has been going on around here…


The biggest change in our home life is giving up our community garden plot. It was a wonderful place to grow our own food for roughly 3 years, and it was hard to let it go. But, I realized last summer that what I really wanted from the garden was two things:

1. My kids to know where their food comes from – how it grows.

2. Reap the rewards of growing some of our own foods – at peak harvest time, we reduced our grocery budget by 20%!

Last summer, I found us “volunteering” more in the school garden where my kids felt more invested than our own garden plot where we pay an annual fee for the same efforts. As we entered into the Fall season, I also found myself with much less time to dedicate toward what having a community plot involves: for example, leading a volunteer role – I hosted potlucks and an annual cider press. This was the first season where I didn’t host any event. It was hard and frustrating, but I simply didn’t have the time.

I have accepted the fact that my kids get this kind of experience at school and that while I want to grow my own food, now is not the right time or place.


In February, we took our longest vacation and traveled the farthest we ever have as a family – to Costa Rica! It was 12 days outside our comfort zone in Central America. The kids traveled better than I ever dreamed and I think we must do it again – probably not as soon as we’d all like. We had the pleasure of staying most of the time with relatives who knew where to get groceries and medical care (hola, swimmers ear!). We all missed the warmth as soon as we landed back in SeaTac!


In the last few months, and even through last summer, I have kept vigilant about my family’s health. As I shared about a year ago, my kids and I share the MTHFR gene mutation. My kids had tested high for Mercury, Lead and Arsenic and we’ve worked hard to remove those from their bodies. I’m happy to report the Mercury is gone, Arsenic and Lead are down, but still present. I’ve learned an awful lot about our food, the environment and MTHFR. It’s all a little overwhelming, but I’m happy to share more in a dedicated post.


As I have been shifting my focus this year, I’ve taken a long look at where our family goals are and where my personal goals are in order to reach them. We want to live in a house with a big enough yard to grow our own food and to have pets and possibly chickens. We can’t do that unless I start to really contribute to our income. My photography and crafting have so far only been little more than self-sustaining hobbies.

With only 24 hours in a day, I have finally accepted that I cannot do ALL The Things. So, I let go of a volunteer neighborhood role as well as the community garden plot. My time has been spent on building a photography business instead, which is fun but also hard to admit that I can’t do everything.

I’m honestly not sure where to go with Scratch Treehouse. I have numerous ideas and recipes to share, but find myself stuck. I think taking a break from writing was keeping me from writing longer than I anticipated. So, I’d like to ask you:

What has been most helpful to you here on Scratch Treehouse?

Is it the recipes?

The Health posts?

The honest rantings of life with kids?

I plan on jumping back into this, but am trying to regain my focus. Thank you for reading and sticking around!




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The Best Diet Plan Is Too Easy!

by holli on January 5, 2015

It’s that time again. The time for gyms, diet books and nutritionists to get back to work! You see some diets work wonders for your friends, and your mom swears by hers. Every diet seems to contradict another. You try one, and it doesn’t do a single thing except make you HANGRY (angry + hungry). You feel defeated and binge on the bag of Cheetos, or Ice Cream.

I was just telling a Mom friend about how we as a culture seem to be obsessed with being the best that we can be, which includes dieting and exercise. We’ve been at it forever – health spas and books have been around since books were being bound. What I’ve learned last year showed me that the best diet plan and expert is…

LISTEN to YOUR body!

Have you tried a high protein diet? Did it make you feel sluggish and tired? If so, that general kind of diet is not for you.

Have you tried a plant based diet? Did it make you feel tired all of the time and hungry? If so, that kind of diet is not right for you.

You get my point, right? The fact is that there is conflicting information from nutritionists and experts in health care fields. I think we need to get back to the basic idea of listening to our bodies. And, I believe that we really don’t know enough about our bodies yet to have concrete expert guidelines. Our genes really dictate what we are, but how they express themselves (if they are mutated, for example) is an entirely new science, Epigenetics.

I know I would die if I did a juicing diet. I can do juice for one meal in my day. Beyond that and I’m STARVING! I even did a high protein diet a long, long time ago, and felt sluggish and had super oily skin and hair (yuck). Everything I’ve learned about health has come to this moment of realizing that we all need to pay attention to our bodies. We should think about our food, that is true. But not to the point of deprivation or guilt.

As we enter 2015, I urge you to listen to your body. Take some time at the end of every day and write down how you felt: were you tired, stressed, happy, and what did you do, what did you eat?

It might sound crazy now, but I kept a diet journal for 9 months when my youngest was still breastfeeding and struggling with constipation for her and myself. It was really, really hard to make that time, maybe only 5 minutes to jot down those notes, but it was immensely helpful.

And, one of the biggest changes our family has made is to eat more vegetables. One way I engaged my kids to see what they eat is to talk about it. We did a sticker project where we placed stickers next to what we ate, we made food rainbows on paper to focus on a variety of color. Lucky for you, dear readers, I made a handy PDF in case you need a format for doing your own food journal:

Food Journal


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A Year In Review: 2014

January 2, 2015

This is the month where I have to accept good enough. Some things are unfinished. Some goals weren’t even given a chance. Some things have to be let go. I have missed writing and sharing, but it is one area that I have to let go of when I’m just barely able to keep up with […]

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November 22, 2014

It might sound corny, but I believe gratitude is never out of style. I am thankful even on days when I am sure everything is falling apart. I am thankful for clean water. I am thankful for clean air. I am thankful for food: both the good and bad. I am thankful for my family. […]

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