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  • Get to know us

    Hello lovelies! My name is Kari Schmitz. I am a mother of three, thryroid cancer survivor, board certified holistic health coach, and believer that everyone should be happy and healthy. I've always been a bit of a health-nut, but I became truly passionate about learning exactly how and why what we eat, breathe, think, feel, and do has an effect on our health and wellness when I was diagnosed with cancer at 35. This site reflects information from leaders in holistic medicine and pure happiness that will empower you to make the right decisions for you and your family. Please sign up for our free newsletter, explore the site and enjoy!

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  • Where in the world has Kari been?

    So if you’ve visited my poor, dusty website within the last year and saw the length of time it has been since my last post, you may have wondered: “Where the heck has Kari been?” Is she climbing mountains? Eating bon-bons in her “Healthy Castle”? Has she gotten her own Reality TV show – “Keeping Up With Kari”?

    Well, I guess you could say I’ve been working on a large batch of lemonade. Since it’s been 17 months and it is all natural and unprocessed it has fermented by now, but I’ve found it is actually much better for your digestion that way anyways… Now, before I totally loose all but my hard core health coaching buddies who understand what I am talking about, let me explain.  I did have a wonderful summer with my family and survived a crazy whitewater kayaking adventure with a group of amazing cancer survivors (that will get more coverage at a later date) but to be honest my friends, the Spring and Summer of 2012 rocked my world in a way that cancer only began to. Early last spring my marriage of 13 years was shattered on a Sunday afternoon when I found out that the foundation of trust, commitment, and honoring our marriage vows had not been respected. In one moment my whole life literally fell apart. It was devastating to me, but even more heart wrenching was to try to explain to our three young children why their Father had packed up a backpack and walked away. There really are no words to make them understand an event like that.

    I felt like I had been put through a blender, my incredibly powerful Vita-Mix to be exact, (sorry- there is my geeky health-coach side coming out again)… And yet, with time, forgiveness, support from amazing friends & family, and a renewed sense of faith that things really do happen for a reason and that “If God brought you to it, He will bring you through it” I am once again filled with hope. Hope for a new beginning. Hope for being able to express who I truly am and want out of life. And hope for a life with love, laughter and a deep sense of purpose. As with any challenging life experience, we are given an opportunity for growth, (and man- I think I’ve done enough growing for a while!) and learning. Here are three truths I have learned why going through a divorce may even be a blessing:

    1. I have been able to learn who I really am. I am trying my very best to be a rock-star single mom, and sometimes I even feel like I’m doing okay at this. Especially when I read my daughter’s assignment last night to write about “A Special Person”- here are some of my favorite lines: “My special person in my life is my Mom. Ever since I was little, she has always been there for me. She has gone through cancer and a divorce, but she has always been very brave and always looks on the bright side of life. She is a great listener and a great advice giver. She is a great person to spend time with. She is kind, thoughtful and a lot like me. It is fun going anywhere with her. Whenever I am sad, she cheers me up. Whenever I am mad, she listens to what I have to say. She means so much to me and that is about my special person.” Awww…

    2. I have also learned what I’m really made of, and how strong I truly can be. Divorce is not for the weak. It takes courage to face the stress and challenges of going through the process, and the strain and overwhelm of a divorce can bring even the most optimistic and strongest people to their knees. Of course there were times where I could barely place one foot in front of the other, but with determination and a lot of prayer, I’m now back to my full stride.

    3. I have a new blank canvas. I have cherished the time to create a vision of how I want my life to be, and am making that dream a reality. I graduated in June from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition as a Board Certified Health Coach (woo-hoo!) and am fulfilling a big dream of mine to work with other women who want to feel healthier and happier in their bodies and souls. I know this is my purpose in life and as of TODAY the doors are open!!  I am offering two beautiful transformational programs at this time in a 1:1 or Group Coaching setting.

    I did not go into my marriage expecting to get divorced, nor does anyone… However, we all know the old saying “When life hands you lemons, make (all natural & sugar-free) lemonade!”

     

    In health & happiness,

    Kari

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    Make Your Own Fruit & Yogurt Parfaits & A Giveaway!

    I am *SO* not a morning person, and even worse- neither are my three kids.  We love to lay around, snuggle, and tell stories in the morning, and as sweet and relaxing as these moments are, the following minutes from when we finally roll out of bed up until the kids hop on the bus is usually a nightmare.  We’ve tried to do all the usual time-savers like pack lunches the night before and lay out clothes, and I was thrilled when St. Paul Public Schools announced they were going to offer free breakfasts, yet after seeing the offerings {cinnamon toast crunch, giant muffins and cheesebread} I knew I had to get some protein and fruit in them before they left.  Our solution was these simple, make-ahead fruit and greek yogurt granola parfaits.

    The granola is easy to make with a recipe my sister shared with me from Carole Joy Seid, you can even watch her make it here.

    Healthy Homemade Granola:
    1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    2.  Measure 12 cups of old fashioned organic rolled oats.

    3.  Measure 1/2 cup coconut oil or olive oil.

    4.  Measure 1/2 cup local raw honey.

    5. Warm oil and honey slightly on the stove until thin but not boiling.

    6.  While stirring, quickly pour honey and oil mixture over oats.

    7.  Add vanilla and cinnamon to taste.

    8.  Spread oats on rimmed cookie sheet.

    9.  Place in oven, and remove from oven when golden- about 20-30 minutes.  Stir, and return to oven until it’s a    dark golden color, do not let it get brown.

    10.  While baking, fill a large container half way with assorted raw nuts, raw seeds, and unsulfured, unsweetened dried fruits.

    11.  Combine with granola.

    *  We added raw sunflower seeds, raw walnuts, raw slivered almonds and unsweetened coconut shreds.  This does make a large quantity, but can easily be frozen if you won’t go through it quickly.

    Now, onto the parfaits:

    1.  Layer small bowls with whatever fruit you have on hand {I found these great glass bowls with lids at Target}.

    2.  Put a couple of scoops of your favorite yogurt on top of the fruit.  We love greek yogurt for it’s extra protein.

    3.  Add another layer of fruit, and package them up for the fridge.

    4.  When you are ready to eat them, just add a layer of granola and there you go!  As my kids like to say- “Easy Peasey!!”

    I would love to hear about your morning routines, do you have any tips for us??

    Fun News, and you are the first to know!  Tomorrow I am offering a giveaway over at New Nostalgia for some of my favorite all natural things:

    Four Norwex Enviro Cloths,

    One box of Organic India Tulsi Tea,

    Three Wildtree Seasoning Blends

    One To-G0 Bottle of Nopalea

    All in a stylish Healthy Castles canvas bag.  Who wouldn’t *love* a little care package in the mail?  I would be thrilled if I could send it to one of my readers, so hop on over to New Nostalgia tomorrow, Saturday the 28th, for a chance to win!!

     

    In health & happiness,

    Kari

     

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    Eco-Emi: A surprise every month!

    I ADORE presents.  I adore receiving them, but I love giving them even more…  However, that may all change now that I have just joined the Eco-Emi program where you receive between 5-10 fun, green samples from amazing organic and all natural businesses, mailed to my door in a chic earth friendly package each month.   Christine, the founder of Eco-Emi developed her business as an “informative and fun way to try and buy eco friendly products and take charge of what you put on and into your body once and for all. We have one body and one earth and it is time to jump on the green train and Eco-Emi is here to help get you started.”  Well said Christine!

    With so much information out there on great new organic, green, all-natural, raw, and vegan products how is one to really know what will be your favorite until you actually try it yourself?  This trial and error method could mean a lot of money or a lot of disappointments.  Those new to green living can get so overwhelmed with all the products and price that they may be prone to giving up.  Yet, with Eco-Emi you know that the products are chosen with care and only the best are offered.

    Let me show you what came in my very first box:  1 oz. samples of Revitalize Shampoo and Conditioner by Greenbody Greenplanet, 2 shades of Vegan Mineral Eye Shadows and Vegan Gel Eyelines by The All Natural Face, Pomegranate Gum by Vitacare, A Raw ChocolateVegan Bar by Bella Bars {very yummy by the way}, a 100% biodegradable and recycled materials Toothbrush by Vitacare, Natural Mineral Lip Tints by Badger, Lily Incense by Auromere Ayurvedic, and finally a 2.5 oz. sample of Pear Tree Specialty Soap- which smells absolutely heavenly!

    For only $15.00 a month Eco-Emi will mail you a minimum of five samples to your door each month.  How cool is that? You will have the luxury of trying out the green world in the comfort of your own home.

    *I do not receive any affiliate commissions from Eco-Emi, nor was I asked to give a review.  This is my very own opinion of this fun company and just thought you might enjoy hearing about it!

     

    In health & happiness,

    Kari

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    Homemade All Natural Dryer Sheet Alternatives

    Vinyl wall decal from "Say It Your Way"

    Wash. Dry. Fold. Repeat, repeat, repeat…  As a follow-up to my post on all natural laundry options, here is the low down on some easy and inexpensive dryer-sheet alternatives.

    And exactly why do we need to worry about dryer sheets?  First off, these unrecyclable petroleum-derived “sheets” are saturated with hormone-disrupting synthetic fragrances.  The chemicals used in fabric softeners are very pungent and strong smelling – so strong that they require the use of these heavy fragrances (think 50 times as much fragrance) just to cover up the smells.  They are made to stay in your clothing for long periods of time, which means that the chemicals are slowly released either into the air for you to inhale or onto your skin for you to absorb.   Even choosing “unscented” products is dangerous, as most companies use a masking fragrance to cover up the original fragrance, which unfortunately makes them doubly toxic.

    There are also many {many!} chemicals found in our sweet-smelling fabric softeners and dryer sheets that can cause serious health effects such as:

    • Central nervous system disorders
    • Headaches
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Dizziness
    • Blood pressure reduction
    • Irritation to skin, mucus membranes and respiratory tract
    • Pancreatic cancer
    • Asthma symptoms

    I do not want to frighten the begeebies out of you, so won’t include a list of all the chemicals and their effects on our health in this article, but if you are curious check out this link to naturalnews.com.  There is also no regulation on these chemicals, since the contents are treated as trade secrets by the manufacturers and companies are not required to list everything.

    The truth is, most of us won’t feel the effects of these chemicals today, however they can affect you gradually over time, and infants and children whose systems are still developing, are particularly at risk.  There is really no reason to expose your family to this when there are

    Great Natural Alternatives:

    1. Line dry.  This practice can save your energy, money and whitens whites like no other.
    2. Add a shot of white vinegar to the wash cycle or baking soda to the rinse cycle to soften fabric and eliminate cling.  *If you use vinegar, do not use bleach too, this can be a toxic mixture.
    3. Make your own all natural fabric softener!  This recipe was adapted from “One Good Thing by Jillee”: Gather up:  3 cups of water, 1&1/2 cups of white vinegar and 1 cup of natural or organic conditioner:

    Find a super-cute 5-year old to help stir it up {optional} I found a whisk works well:

    And Voila:  Adorable and heavenly scented all natural fabric softener!  {Use as you would any fabric softener}

    4.  Make your own dryer sheets by adding a few drops of essential oils to a damp piece of flannel or washcloth.  I made my own by cutting up 5×5 squares of an old flannel baby blanket.  Essential oils are highly concentrated, so don’t go overboard, the heat will release more fragrance than what you can detect when initially applying a few drops to the cloth.  {Our family loves the “citrusy” oils such as grapefruit, orange or lemon}

    5.  Use Trader Joe’s “lavender dryer bags”.  {These can be used for 5-10 cycles each, then after that they recommend to sprinkle the lavender onto carpet and vacuum up- love that!}

    6.  To eliminate static cling and to dry more efficiently I love my Norwex dryer balls:

     

    So there you have it, lots of easy, all-natural options for you to choose from.  Okay, I’m off to change loads!

    This post is linked to Sunday School at Butter Believer.

    In health & happiness,

    Kari

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    It’s “My Little Bliss List” Friday- Night Sledding, Giving Back and a New Little Love!

    I had so much fun last week, linking up with the sweet Liv Lane of Choosing Beauty, that I’m back for round two!  Here is her amazing project: “Every Friday, the Little Bliss List provides a chance for us to celebrate the little things that brought us hope and happiness this week. I do believe when we focus on the sweet stuff of life, the sweet stuff multiplies. And by sharing those small gifts in our lives, we help others notice the gifts in theirs.” 

    Again, it was an amazing week, and possibly even better than last week??

    1.  Number One on the list:  A Trip to Sugar Lake.  Last weekend we loaded up the minivan and headed north to my parents lake home near Grand Rapids, MN.  These weekends are some of the best on earth, filled with walks, playing outside, amazing homemade food lovingly prepared by my Mom, and tons and tons of quality time with Grandma and Grandpa Natvig.  A winter tradition my parents have perfected is the art of sledding.  They like to say “It’s all for the grandkids”, but we all know they love to go out, just the two of them and giggle and scream their way down the hill, especially in the pitch dark!  Now, let me give you a little background, as this is no ordinary sledding hill…  It starts on top of a special “barrel contraption” my Dad made for added height, and weaves through the trees, whose safety is crafted through carefully angled dock planks.  It is about 250 feet long, and you end up at the bottom of the hill, gliding gently over the icy lake.

    These two have very similiar sledding styles/aka screams!

    These two have very similiar sledding styles/aka screams!

    Grandpa and Jonah, they are a little quieter...

    Grandpa & Grandma Sledding at Night

    Drew playing in his snow fort

    Best of all is this video of Grandpa sledding with the girls who are going backwards.  It is so fun to watch their faces {or what you can see} and hear their crazy laughs and screams as they zoom down the hill.  It makes me laugh every. single. time!!!

    2.  Giving back with Bella and her girl scout troop at Feed My Starving Children.  They have an inspirational organization “committed to feeding God’s children hungry in body and spirit. The approach is simple: children and adults hand-pack meals specifically formulated for malnourished children, and we ship the meals to nearly 70 countries around the world.”  The crew there on Monday night {our troop was about one-third of the volunteers} packaged 12,528 meals, made up of powdered chicken, dried vegetables, soybeans and rice, that will feed 35 kids for 1 year in Kenya.  It was amazing and fulfilling work, and so fun to see these compassionate girls, at eight and nine years old, really understand the scope of what they were doing.

    Super scoopers

    3.  Last, but not least:  Meet our new puppy- Buddy.  He joined our family on Tuesday, and all five of us are over the moon in love already.

    "My buddy and Me!"

    I would love to hear from you!  What made your bliss list this week?

    In health and happiness,

    Kari

     

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