January 2016 Book Reviews

January 2016 Book Reviews

This is obviously the month of goal setting and new beginnings – at least evidenced by what I read!  I did read a couple of good Fiction books, but the majority of what I read was all around productivity and such.  Definitely some good stuff, but I’m going to be on the lookout for some more good novels next month!  Click HERE for a complete list of what I’ve read so far this year, below is a short review of my favorites. FICTION I’ve  been looking for something fun to read with my son at night – we have tried and given up on a few books that he just didn’t find interesting.  Finally, when cleaning out the basement, I came across this book.  Some of the things we love about this book:  Grandma Dowdel is hilarious!  The writing is good – funny and engaging.  The narrator is a young boy – he starts out a similar age to my son – so he connected with him right away.  I also love that each chapter is a little story by itself – makes it an easy one to read at night before bed.  My only complaint?  I wish the book was longer!  My rating 5 out of 5. What a fun story to read.  This is a YA novel, but I still got a kick out of it.  I loved that I could pass it on to my daughter and feel comfortable with her enjoying it.  The main plot consists of two teens who accidentally “meet” on the internet, and start an engaging and meaningful conversation – without knowing who the...

Reaching your goals … when you get lost along the way

By now, the end of January, much of the world has given up on their New Year’s resolutions.  In fact, if you are curious, HERE are some really interesting facts on how long resolutions last and what resolutions people normally make. Even if you are one of that percentage who has already missed or given up on your resolution, remind yourself that it is still early in the year and you can still make a big difference in how your year turns out. The most important thing you can do for yourself is not to beat yourself up.  Don’t feel guilty or tell yourself the stories that “I messed up so I might as well quit.”  That is crazy talk!   There is no “rule” that says if you make one mistake or fall off track you have to quit.  Pick yourself up and start again. Take a look at your original goals or resolutions and think hard about why you quit.  Were they the wrong goals?  Did you have the wrong intentions behind them?  Or did life just get too busy?  If you still feel great about the original goals, just start again.  However, if they don’t feel good anymore, modify them.  After all, these are YOUR goals and desires.  Make them what feels right for YOU! Finally, maybe you just need a little help.  Is there someone who can help you with accountability?  Or maybe you need to delegate (or just let go of) some of your other responsibilities.  Think creatively about what needs to happen in your life for you to accomplish what you’d like to...
Five Easy Ways to Make Your Resolutions Stick

Five Easy Ways to Make Your Resolutions Stick

It’s mid-month.  The excitement of New Year’s Resolutions has worn off.  Have you fallen off the wagon?  Abandoned some or all of your goals?  Don’t despair – there is still PLENTY of time to recover. Keep your goals simple but specific.  Take a look at the goals you created early in the year.  Are they overly complicated?  Is there a way to make them simpler?  Also specific – even in a simple format, it’s important to be specific with your goals – otherwise how will you know you accomplished them?  Need an example?  Say your goal was to get healthy.  That’s a great goal, but a very vague goal – what exactly do you mean by this?  A more specific (yet still simple goal) might be eat fruits and veggies with every meal. Don’t try to do too much at once.  This is the area where I often falter.  There are so many things I want to accomplish and I get all excited about them all, but before I know it I have way too much going on to complete ANYTHING.  Sound familiar?  If this is you too, I’ve discovered that focusing on just one or two things at a time is much better way to go about reaching my goals.  For instance – one of the things I want to focus on this year is helping my kids be more self-sufficient (more on this topic to come!).  So, each month we are focusing on ONE life skill.  January is laundry.  That’s it.  We’ll get to the rest throughout the year, but for now the plan is to master...
Need some Goal Setting Inspiration?

Need some Goal Setting Inspiration?

It’s January.  The month of setting resolutions.  Or creating a word for the year.  Or drafting an extensive list of goals.  Whatever method you choose, there is no denying that most of us take stock in January and try to figure out how to make changes in our lives to improve the areas we feel need improving. This year, I’m taking my time and really thinking about what I want in 2016 and how I want to feel.  Am I creating goals?  Of course, but they will be centered around how I want to feel by the end of the year, not what I want to “accomplish.”  It’s a slow going process, so I probably won’t be sharing them until the end of the month. In the meantime, perhaps you’d like some assistance or a new way of looking at goal creation.  I’m sharing my favorite courses, books and online resources for goal creation.  Some of the links are affiliates, some aren’t, but ALL of them are something I’ve tried myself and felt was valuable. Time Management Looking for a quick way to create a better start to your day?  Get my FREE 3-day e-course “Discover the Perfect Start to Your Day.” Money Saving Mom has an EXCELLENT 14 day course called Make Over Your Mornings – it’s super affordable and easy to follow. What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast: A Short Guide to Making Over Your Mornings–and Life (A Penguin Special from Por tfolio) – quick read and full of great tips. My favorite planner – this is the one I use everyday to make sure everything...
December 2015 Book Reviews

December 2015 Book Reviews

Maybe my slowest reading month of the year.  I read a pathetic FIVE books (versus my typical 8 or more).  However, I did have a very busy month, so I guess that’s part of the holiday season with a thriving family!  HERE is the list of what I read this month (along with ALL of the books I read in 2015).  I actually ended up reading 115 books this year, so really I shouldn’t be whining. On to my favorites for the month . . . Non-Fiction What a beautiful book.  Although she is from my town, and I know several people who knew her, I’ve never met Kara Tippetts myself.  That didn’t stop me from falling in love with her writing.  In the midst of dying, Kara focused on living and loving well.  So inspirational.  My rating 4.5 out of 5. Of course I loved Jen Hatmaker‘s latest book – her writing is funny, honest and thought-provoking.  This book was a joy to read.  I actually took pictures of some of the “Thank you’s” and sent them to a few friends because they cracked me up so much!  My rating 4 out of 5. Fiction What a fun book to read!  I loved the twists and turns – and I actually didn’t figure them all out ahead of time (which is always a thrill).  The book goes back and forth between the past and present, slowly disclosing an unsolved mystery.  I enjoyed how the different players perspectives each put a unique spin on the original situation – and that none of them knew the “real” truth until the...

A Healthier Birthday Party? Get the Kids MOVING!

November is a busy month for us – along with the start of the holidays, multiple sporting tournaments/ meets and after school practices, my son has his birthday.  He always wants a party at our house – which certainly saves a lot of money, but as the boys get older also creates a LOT of craziness!  Luckily, as parents we are a little bit crazy ourselves and do our best to have fun and enjoy the night instead of cringing at the mess! Although it is certainly a good idea to try to keep the food at the party as healthy as possible (without slaving over the stove all day), it’s important to remember that many kids are picky eaters.  So in this area, I tend to limit the sweets (by serving smaller portions and less variety), offer typical kid food like pizza or pretzels, and then just consider the food for the night to be part of our once in a while “not so healthy” meals.  I also serve cut up veggies or a salad to my family before the party begins – I’ve learned through the years not to bother making enough for everyone, I’ve only had one kid take me up on it after dozens of parties.  This way I can feel a little better about the pizza and cake! Where you can REALLY shine in making a party healthier is to incorporate exercise into the evening.  There are so many great ways to do this – from traditional games like tag, soccer or kickball if the weather is nice to relay races, hula hoop contests and fun active...
Foolproof Jewelry Making!

Foolproof Jewelry Making!

Maybe you haven’t figured this out about me yet, but I’m not very crafty.  I love the idea of doing crafts and I enjoy trying stuff out, but craftiness is not high up in my skill set.  That’s why committing to crafting in December was a great stretch for me – and a nice relaxing break from the typical business or wellness learning I like to indulge in. One of the things I wanted to try this month was jewelry making.  I took a bead class a few years ago and had so much fun.  Of course I bought a bunch of supplies and then never made jewelry again.  No one else does that right? This time around I ONLY purchased what I needed for the projects I was going to try, and I picked two very simple looking projects.  The first was a leather bracelet (I got the directions from Pinterest of course.  Happy Hour Projects has the original project – she has some other really fun ones, so check that site out if you like quick and easy crafts!).  The second project took longer but was just as simple – most of the extra time was waiting for glue to dry.  This one was glass pendants – there were numerous tutorials on Pinterest and after reading a bunch of them, I just gave it a go on my own. Leather Bracelet This bracelet took me less than ten minutes, start to finish.  No lie.  I’ve worn it several times now and think it looks great as an addition to my stack of bracelets.  I liked it so...
Add some excitement to your shower!

Add some excitement to your shower!

Another official creative endeavor for the month!  I thought this would be easy, so I merrily went along creating my batch of amazing heart shaped bath fizzies after combining about a zillion different recipes I found.  I’m sure you can guess where this is heading . . . epic fail. Here is my first batch: Yep, just a big clump of stuff! I didn’t give up, I just did a little research and discovered that my mistake was in adding the water too quickly.  So if you give this recipe a try (and I would since it really was simple once I got the hang of it), go slow with adding the water.  I plan on breaking the failed batch in pieces and using them myself, so even if you mess up, they won’t go to waste! Successful Bath Fizzies 1 cup baking soda 2/3 cup citric acid (find it in the canning section or Amazon: Citric Acid – 1 Pound – Food Grade , Non-GMO, Organic, 100% Pure) 1 cup arrowood (or you could use cornstarch if you prefer) 1 and 1/2 T olive oil or jojoba oil essential oils (I made three batches:  Eucalyptus, Peppermint and Lavender) water in a spray bottle Step 1:  Stir together the baking soda, citric acid and arrowood until well mixed. Step 2:  Pull out 1/3 of the mixture into a smaller bowl (makes it easier to handle and also to create different scents).  Add 1/2 T oil and 5 to 10 drops essential oil.  Mix well.  Repeat this process with rest of fizzy mixture. Step 3:  Here is where things get tricky . . . spray...
The Perfect Hostess Gift – Flavored Butters

The Perfect Hostess Gift – Flavored Butters

So in the month of December, I plan on having fun creating.  It’s something that I love to do, but don’t often take the time to indulge in.  Most of what I’ll be making this month would be terrific for gifts, but you could also make and enjoy them for yourself!  I plan on doing a little bit of both. Last year we purchased some delicious flavored butters at Costco that we enjoyed at Christmas dinner with the families.  As I was thinking about those butters, it occurred to me how simple they would be to make.  So, I gave it a try – and they turned out very successful!  It was super easy, the hands on work was quick and if I add a loaf of fresh baked bread (from the bakery of course!). these butters will make a fabulous hostess gift.  It was also less expensive for me to make them myself and I used better quality ingredients!  Win, win, win! I made two types – Honey Cinnamon Butter and Roasted Garlic: Honey Cinnamon Butter Two sticks organic butter 1/4 cup raw honey 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon  Soften butter.  Add honey and cinnamon and whip until smooth and well mixed. Place into clean mason jars and label.  This recipe made two small jars (or one pint sized one) with a little leftover for me! Enjoy – that’s it – literally took me 5 minutes start to finish once the butter was softened. Roasted Garlic Butter Two sticks organic butter 4 heads garlic olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground pepper Soften butter.  Heat oven to 375. Cut tops off...
November 2015 Book Reviews

November 2015 Book Reviews

Definitely not my best reading month . . . this is going to be a pretty short post.  I did read a decent number of books (see them all HERE), but not much to get excited about. FICTION If you remember, last month I specifically read To Kill a Mockingbird again as a refresher, knowing I had this one on my wait list at the library.  Did I like it? Well, not as much as the first one.  It was interesting to see Scout all grown up, and I thought her new understanding of her childhood, father and hometown revealing.  I actually think I would have liked this book better had I NOT just read To Kill a Mockingbird.  I found myself doing too much comparison between the two and the second just didn’t match up.   However, overall I did like it and am glad I read it.  My rating 4 out of 5. NON-FICTION I have been a reader of Crystal’s website Money Saving Mom for years – I’ve even had a few guest posts on it.  So when I was offered the chance to read this book and share my thoughts about it, I was quite excited!  And I must say I wasn’t disappointed.  If you are a mom (or really anyone) looking to creatively make some money for your family, this book is full of encouragement and thought-provoking tidbits.  I love that Crystal is honest about both her failures and the fact that most of us WILL fail at some point.  I think it’s important that we understand this and can find a way to move...

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