Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Gift Idea: Hot or Cold, Not Lukewarm

Best travel mug EVER!
Update - this deal is no longer available, however, these are great mugs and worth they're normal $20 price tag.

I had hoped to post this deal for you a couple of weeks but just didn't have time and the sale ended. I'm sure you can relate. :) I was super excited to see that this sale was back for a limited time so I am determined to share it this time around.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Menu 2014: December 1-January 4

With this holiday filled season, I decided to get some help with my menu by using some of the national food days as inspiration for our meals. I had fun looking over the different "food" holidays and picking a few to add to my menu for this month. We've got lots going on with Christmas and New Year celebrations, but we still need to make time for some family traditions. What are some things that your family does every year during the holidays? One of ours is putting the kids in their new Christmas jammies (they get a new pair every year) and driving through a light display with a big thermos of hot cocoa and some snacks (cookies, bars, muffins, etc.).

Monday, November 24, 2014

KitchenAid Stand Mixer as low as $87.02+tax (ends 11/28)

The Classic - I have this model.
I absolutely LOVE my KitchenAid stand mixer. It is a great multi-tasker for my kitchen. I can use it's bread hook attachment to make bread, I use the whisk for whipped cream, the paddle for pretty much everything else, and then I bought a pasta roller attachment, which is so much fun. I am also looking to get the food grinder and sausage stuffing kit. With all that said, Kohl's has an amazing deal on all of their KitchenAid stand mixers.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Super "D" Brownies

Before you decide to make these, I must pass on the following warnings:
  • Do NOT make these if you have little or no self-control as they can be highly addictive. 
  • Do NOT make these if you are on a diet. 
  • Do NOT make these if you are the only person home for the next 24 hours.
  • Do NOT make these unless you plan to take them to or serve them at some sort of get together or party.

Product Review: My New Favorite Kitchen Gadget, the Aerobie AeroPress

We LOVE coffee over here (yes, even my children). We have a Keurig (which is really only used when we need a quick cup of coffee), a French press, and we'd like to get a Turkish coffee pot, too. Several people have told us how awesome the AeroPress was so we finally decided to pick one up (I had a 20% off coupon for Bed Bath & Beyond).

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

the rolls were so good that I didn't get a picture
before they were completely consumed
I love making cinnamon rolls and I love making anything with pumpkin this time of year (I know you've all been inundated with pumpkin recipes, but what's the harm in just one more). I've made Pumpkin Spice Bread Bites with spiced cream cheese dip and they turned out absolutely deliciously but I decided to attempt my own recipe for pumpkin cinnamon rolls. They were super yummy! 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Menu 2014: November 3-30

Life has just been happening lately. I have been trying to catch up on the mountains of laundry.
School has taken up a little more time lately as the kids have needed a little more of my direct attention than I have been giving them. I feel very disorganized and I have come to the conclusion that this whole homeschooling thing is just not going to work if I don't get organized. I like to be organized but getting there is always a challenge. I seem to feel so overwhelmed that I just don't know where to begin. What are some ways that have helped you get organized (and then stay organized)?

Enjoying our time away :)
There I go again, getting sidetracked. Last week we had the wonderful blessing of getting away for our 10th anniversary. A dear lady from church took the kids during the day on Wednesday and then my parents drove over and kept the kids Wednesday night through Saturday morning. I had planned to work on the menu and a few other blog related items while we were away but thankfully my hubby told me that we were leaving our computers at home so that we could just focus on being away with each other. It was marvelous! I so thoroughly enjoyed just chatting, snuggling, resting, relaxing, walking, sight-seeing, eating, and, of course, sleeping soundly without my dear littles waking me. :) So I didn't get the menu finished and it's going up late, but we both needed the break. If you'd like a printable version, you can find it here. If you'd like to be able to edit the menu, here's a new editable menu.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

My Top 5 Pancake Recipes

Are you looking for something to make for breakfast? Something that is versatile, quick, and simple to make? A recipe that you can mass produce and then pop into the freezer for consumption later? If you answered, "Yes," to any or all of those questions then this might be the post for you, and pancakes might just be the answer.
Our family LOVES pancakes. We'll eat them for breakfast, lunch, snack time, supper, or even dessert. Because of our great love of pancakes, I've come up with several recipes. With that in mind, I decided to put links to them all in one spot. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Banana [Chocolate Chip] Pancakes

Yummy, yummy pancakes!
Yes, I'm on a bit of a pancake kick lately. I just love all the options there are for different flavors when you're working with pancakes. It's like any other cake or quick bread, I just can't help myself, I have to play around and be creative. This particular recipe is a big hit with my kids. Peanut butter and banana is just one of those perfect combinations that's only made better with the addition of chocolate (although the chocolate is optional).

Monday, October 20, 2014

Multi-Grain Carrot Cake Pancakes

We love pancakes and I love attempting new things so when I saw a recipe for carrot cake pancakes I knew that I had to give them a shot. They turned out beautifully and have become a new family favorite. The original recipe was vegan and since we aren't vegan I had to make a few changes so here they are.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Pumpkin Chicken Curry Soup

I love fall and the flavors that it brings, which I'm sure I mentioned in my post about pumpkin cake with salted caramel frosting. Anyway, pumpkin, squash, and sweet potato are a few of my favorite fall items to cook with this time of year, so when I recently had a cup of chicken curry soup I knew I had to attempt my own curry soup and pumpkin appealed to me. The resulting soup, pumpkin chicken curry, was delicious. There was a smoky, spicy flavor from the curry spices and poblano pepper, as well as, a certain creaminess from the pumpkin and coconut milk. Then there is a little punch of sweet and tangy flavor from the cranberries, carrots, and tomato. It was a big hit with the hubby and some friends.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Menu 2014: October 6-November 2

This month my dear hubby and I will celebrate 10 years of marriage. They haven't all been easy or enjoyable, and we've had lots of ups and some downs. But as I sit hear thinking about it, I wouldn't trade these 10 years for anything! We've done a lot in ten years' time: I finished my college education, Jared graduated from Bible institute, we added 4 kids (and potty-trained them all), we gained 70+ pounds as a couple then lost 160+ pounds, we moved and changed jobs twice, we paid off over $40k of debt, and we are finally doing what we knew God had planned for us since before we got married. With that said, it's time to get back to the subject at hand, October's menu. Here's the printable if you'd like it.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Creamy Cajun Pasta

Tonight I just couldn't decide what to make for supper. It's been a crazy busy last few weeks and I haven't had time to work on October's menu so I had zero ideas. So I did what every mom does when she's out of ideas on what to make for dinner. I took a mental trip through the fridge, freezer, and pantry to see what I had to work with. Then it hit me, I'd throw together something with the smoked sausage, shrimp, veggies, and pasta that I had on hand. I had also just picked up a bottle of cajun seasoning so I decided to wing it and make dinner up as I went. It was a hit with everyone.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Adult Popcorn

We enjoy popcorn and it doesn't really matter how it's made - caramel corn, cheesy popcorn, butter lover's, etc. But all of these come with extra calories so we don't make them much anymore. We needed to come up with a recipe for popcorn that had huge flavor without being high in calories. That's when my hubby thought of it - curried popcorn, a very grown up version of regular old buttered popcorn. Delicious (and simple)!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Jelly Biscuits

There are days when you're just in a rush. Maybe you woke up late or something took longer than
planned, which isn't a stretch when you've got 4 kids. Trying to figure out what to feed everyone for breakfast when you feel like you're making a mad dash to get out the door is difficult. I don't know about your kids, but mine take forever to eat a bowl of cereal and seem to do better with eggs. Here's one thing that we do when I haven't thought ahead, scrambled eggs and jelly biscuits.

Step 1 - preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Step 2 - pop open a can of Pillsbury Grands! Biscuits, arrange them on a baking sheet, and place them in the oven for 13-17 minutes.
Step 3 - whip up a big batch of cheesy scrambled eggs with some pre-cooked sausage tossed into the pan.
Step 4 - remove biscuits from the oven and let them cool till they are easy to handle.
Step 5 - open biscuits and spread with jelly.
Step 6 - eat.

The kids will say things like "Mom, you made some great biscuits!" Everyone will be feed and happy. :)

[Gluten Free] Pumpkin Cake with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting

I love fall. In fact, it is my favorite season. I love the crisp, cool air and the changing colors. I love the foods - chilis, soups, pumpkin anything, apple anything, hot chocolate, etc. I enjoy hayrides and visits to the apple orchard. When it comes to fall, you name it and I probably really enjoy it. Loving fall made this recipe a no-brainer for me. Who doesn't love pumpkin and cream cheese? Who wouldn't enjoy some salted caramel along with it? I know, I'm probably making you salivate. So here you go. You're welcome. :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Fall: Incentive Trees

Since we have chosen to homeschool our children, they don't always understand the concept of
Click on the picture for the PDF printable.
"homework". Their school day lasts until their work is done for the day and none of us enjoy it when they are still working to finish up after supper. They also struggle with learning to sit quietly and do their work during school hours. In order to help with all of this, we've decided to attempt an incentive program for October. The kids will each get to color a tree trunk picture (printed on white cardstock from Lilac & Lavender) and a page of maple leaves (also printed on white cardstock). I'll post their trees on the wall by their desks. As they accomplish different tasks (a day without "homework", no detention, etc.) they will get to add their leaves to their trees. When they have finished putting all their leaves on their trees, they will get to pick a prize (lunch out with Dad, etc.). We're hoping that this will spur them on to get their work done on time and help to correct their behavior in class. I'll let you know how it went once we're done but I wanted to share the idea and printables now. Let me know how it works for you if you decide to use the idea. 
Click on the picture for the PDF printable.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Zuppa Toscana

I have heard so many rave reviews about Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana. With all the kale our garden has been producing I just had to try making it. It turned out absolutely delicious and I have made it a couple of times now. Of course, if you're making a copycat Olive Garden soup recipe, then you've just got to serve it with some salad and breadsticks. :)

Pretzel Coated Fish and Tartar Sauce

We really enjoy a good fish fry but they can get really expensive for 6 people and sometimes they just aren't very good. So we came up with our own version of a Friday night fish fry, but with pretzels instead of batter. This coating gives the fish a nice crispy exterior while leaving a tender, flaky interior. It's also really quick and easy to make, which works well when you've got 4 starving hungry kids asking if the food is going to be ready soon. The homemade tartar sauce also adds a nice tangy flavor to your crispy, flaky fish.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Menu 2014: September 1-October 5

It's hard to believe that summer vacation is over and another school year is upon us. The summer has flown by far too quickly for my liking. Sigh. Has your summer gone the same way as mine? Don't get me wrong, we had a very enjoyable summer and did lots of fun stuff as a family, but it just went by so fast.
I've had wedding alterations up to my eyeball the last couple of months and the sewing work doesn't seem to be slowing down much, which is great for bringing in some extra money to pay for school supplies as well as supplement our income. Now there are lesson plans to be gone through and school desks to be organized. I have a crazy schedule over the next month so I need to keep things simple, which is actually quite difficult for me to do as I am known to over complicate things. Just ask my hubby or my good friend Sarah. I plan to throw together a few freezer meals and lots of crockpot or quick and easy dishes. Here's the printable version.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Peanut Butter Cookie Dip

Apparently, the kids enjoyed it. :)
I love "dessert" type dips with my apple slices (or celery), but a lot of them are high in sugar and thus high in carbohydrates. A couple of months ago I attended a meeting with a dietitian and she suggested this as a good low carb substitute to caramel dip. This dip is low carb, gluten free, and can be made sugar free. Plus, it helps that it's delicious.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Kale Salad with Lime Dressing

This summer we are sharing a garden with our neighbors and decided to grow kale as both our families enjoy it. I like kale in soup, salad, smoothies, etc. and our kale has done fantastically well. With the kale doing so well and us trying to eat healthier, I decided to make a kale salad for our ladies mission society's annual picnic. The nice thing about a kale salad is the fact that it really doesn't wilt. You can make up most of this salad the day before and then just add the remaining ingredients a couple of hours before serving. It also pairs nicely with some grilled chicken if you decide to make it a "Salad as a main dish" sort of night.

Monday, August 11, 2014

His Grace and Presence

I am going to leave my usual topic of food to share something that really ministered to me on Sunday. There are times that I focus on the difficulties in my life and I let myself get discouraged. In that discouragement, I often question God's plan for our family. In my head I KNOW that God's grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9) but it's harder to apply that knowledge when my emotions get involved and they've been getting involved a lot lately.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Menu 2014: June 30-August 3 (Freezer Week)

I am so behind on things lately. Sigh. But at least we're still on summer break so we don't have to do school. :) VBS is this month and I know that week will be really busy so I'm already planning on a freezer week (see details below). Here's what I've got in mind this month (printable menu here):

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Menu 2014: June 2-29

School is almost done for the year and I CANNOT wait!!! I've got a wedding gown and two bridesmaids dresses going out in June and I also get to start sewing lessons with Miss E now that she can read. :) Our neighbors are helping us with a garden this year so that we can both deal with the upkeep and also reap the benefits at harvest. I am really looking forward to fresh veggies. Since things are bound to get busy, I need to keep the menu simple. Here's a printable copy.

[Crockpot] Tex-Mex Rice Bowl

I thoroughly enjoy a good crockpot meal on Sundays (or any day that I'm at the office).
You know, the kind that's simple, quick, and ready to eat as soon as I get home from church. Well, this is that kind of dish. It takes about 15-20 minutes of prep time and 4 or more hours in the crockpot. Our family loves Tex-Mex food so it's also one of those meals that I don't have to "force" the kids to eat. Bonus!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Milwaukee Brewers Tickets for $6.20 on 6/2/2014

The hubby and I really enjoy tailgating at a game. It doesn't matter if it's football or baseball, it's just an all around fun activity for us. Last year we were given free tickets for the whole family to go to a game and we had a blast. So, naturally, when my hubby sent me a text at 6:26am that you could get tickets for $6.20 each to the Monday, June 2nd, Brewer game I jumped at the chance!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Menu 2014: April 28-June 1

Oh, wow! Time has just flown yet again. I hardly know if I'm coming or going most days, which explains (but does not excuse) my delay in posting the May menu. I am hoping that the weather here gets nice enough to eat out on the deck sooner than later. Since it is now wedding season and I am busy with alterations, I'm really trying to keep things simple this month with a menu plan of: crockpot, grilling, salad, spicy, and misc. Here's a printable list if you're interested.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

[Allergy Friendly] Coconut Minis

Bite-sized Coconut Cookies
With so many of my favorite (non-familial) people being gluten free, I've been looking for some new recipes to have on hand in case of company. I am a big fan of coconut, which made my choice of flour an easy decision. I've done a little experimenting with coconut flour and it is a very absorbent flour. You need to bring a ton of "moisturizers" to the party or the coconut makes it really dry. I did some peeking around and found a cookie recipe that sounded interesting so I decided to give it a try. I did make a few adjustments since I just can't leave well enough alone. :)

Friday, May 2, 2014

[No sugar added] Tropical Yorbet

The other day I was cleaning the kitchen and came to the realization that my pineapple and two
mangoes were getting dangerously close to overripe. I didn't want a smoothie because I prefer my smoothies with banana in them and I was out of bananas. A fruit salad wasn't sounding terribly appealing to me either. I decided to grab my blender and ice cream machine from the cupboard and play. I tossed in the mangoes, half the pineapple (I let the kids munch on the rest), a cup or so of coconut milk, and 16 oz. of plain Greek yogurt (although vanilla would go nicely as well).

Foodie Wedding Favor Idea

Spice Blend Wedding Favor
I love weddings - planning, sewing, decorating, attending, singing, playing piano, etc. - so I was really excited to attend the 1920's themed wedding of some friends. They had fabulously simple and elegant decorations, which makes me wish I would have remembered to bring my camera. The dresses worked perfectly with the theme as well as complementing every body type (yes, the seamstress in me comes out hardcore when I attend weddings). But the things that I loved most were the little expressions of who the bride and groom are. The groom is a chef so the favors were little packets of a spice blend that the he'd put together. They are simple, unique, and inexpensive. All you need to create these are:
  • jewelry sized ziptop baggies
  • printable labels and a computer to design them on
  • spice blend of your choosing/creation
They had these in little baskets all around the reception for guests to take home. Since we're total foodies, my hubby and I loved it!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Menu 2014: March 31-April 27

Is it time for a new menu already?!?!? Wow! Time has just been flying by lately and my brain can't seem to keep up. If it wasn't for my calendar and reminders on my phone, I don't know if I'd remember anything. Anyway, the weather has begun to warm up and most of the snow/ice is gone. Yippee!!!! I am looking forward to being able to eat out on the deck and at the picnic table since the house (all 850 sq. ft of it) gets a little claustrophobic during the winter months.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Killing Two Birds with One Stone: Deli-style Turkey Breast and Homemade Stock

The finished product, YUMMY!
We love deli sandwiches and wraps here, but deli meat is so expensive and often leaves much to desired in the flavor department. Since attempting deli roast beef last year, I have wanted to try my hand at other deli meats, namely turkey. So after stopping by the deli only to find that turkey was a whopping $4.48/lb on sale, I decided to pick up a couple of turkey breasts while I was at the store, which I got for $1.99/lb. I know that some of the weight is the carcass (ribs, wings, and such) so I knew I'd probably only get about half the weight in actual meat but decided that having some homemade stock on hand would be a good thing. I will admit that the process takes a few days to complete but it's fairly easy to do and taste A-MAZING. So here goes...

Monday, March 10, 2014

Chocolate Lovers' Cake

This is by far my favorite chocolate cake recipe. I use it for birthday parties all the time. It's moist,
flavorful, and so much better than store bought without taking a ton of time to make. It also uses ingredients that most people have in their pantry.

Bitter Blanc Marbled Cheesecake

We love date nights, but then I think every parent enjoys a night out away from the chaos that comes with raising children. With that in mind, Jared and I decided to plan a date night activity for our "Homebuilders" Sunday school group (those who are engaged, newly married, or married with minor children at home). I enjoyed hunting down recipes and deciding on a menu for the evening. We wanted to plan an elegant dinner with salad, appetizers, fresh bread, main entrees, sides, and, of course, dessert. I LOVE to bake, which might be a reason why I still struggle with my weight. :) Anyway, I decided that one of the desserts needed to be a chocolate marbled cheesecake. So I tweaked my regular chocolate cheesecake recipe and it turned out AMAZING! It was rich, silky, chocolaty, and delicious.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Menu 2014: March 3-30

Time is just flying by this year. I find it hard to believe that it is already March, but then, the weather here seems to agree with me. We've had SEVERAL sub-zero temperature days and lots of snow in the last couple of weeks. I am SOOOOOOO looking forward to spring! I am attempting a slightly different menu format. Each week will consist of a spicy food, a comfort food, an ethnic food, a soup or sandwich, a slow cooker meal, and/or a miscellaneous dish. So here goes...

Monday, February 24, 2014

but I don't want to tell you why

Miss E had quite an emotional flare up today during school. She didn't want to work on writing her letters neatly so she threw a fit. While talking with her about her wrong behavior she informed Daddy (who just happened to be home during the flare up), "Mommy won't let me do my schoolwork, but I don't want to tell you why." We both had a hard time not chuckling at that statement, but it made me stop and think. How often do we want to tell only our side of a disagreement? How many times do we refuse to deal with our part in a problem? We need to learn to take ownership of our wrongdoings and work at correcting them instead of just blaming the other person(s) involved. Just something I was reminded of today while parenting.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Menu 2014: February 3-March 2

We've had an extremely busy January, lots of travel, extra work, and even a few funerals. Our van broke down but God provided a replacement. School is halfway done for the year and it's been awfully cold here, which makes me somewhat antsy to leave on our cruise. I get to spend a whole week with my hubby and six of friends on a boat in the warmth of the Caribbean. I plan to enjoy some reading, extra sleep, quiet, etc. I will also be picking up some Mexican vanilla when we stop in Cozumel. I am already thinking ahead to some baking... Anyway, back to the task at hand. Here is my plan for February's menu - Sandwich, Spicy, Misc., Breakfast-for-Dinner, and Comfort Food.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Christmas Banquet 2013

Jared and I had the privilege of planning our church's yearly Christmas Banquet. I thoroughly enjoy planning, decorating, and cooking for banquets and things so I was really looking forward to doing it. We planned our previous church's Valentine's banquet almost every year that we were there and found that we worked well as a team. This is the first year that I have also had the opportunity to prepare the food besides planning and decorating. I had some awesome help in every aspect so I don't suggest trying to pull something like this off unless you can recruit some help at every stage.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

21 Days to a More Disciplined Life: Day 21

I am reading 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life as part of my goals for 2014 and I'm sharing insights from each day's readings. If you want to catch up on my progress, read previous days: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7, Day 8, Day 9, Day 10, Day 11, Day 12, Day 13, Day 14, Day 15, Day 16, Day 17, Day 18, Day 19, Day 20.

Day 21: This chapter is all about looking at your progress instead of looking at the areas that still need improvement. Your progress toward discipline in one area will undoubtedly affect other areas in your life. "Success builds on success." So keep working at developing your one habit, don't give up even when you don't feel like you're making progress. "One day soon, you may wake up and realize you've changed your whole life...beginning with one simple habit."

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

21 Days to a More Disciplined Life: Day 20

I am reading 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life as part of my goals for 2014 and I'm sharing insights from each day's readings. If you want to catch up on my progress, read previous days: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7, Day 8, Day 9, Day 10, Day 11, Day 12, Day 13, Day 14, Day 15, Day 16, Day 17, Day 18, Day 19.

Day 20: Crystal talks about little jobs (things that can be done in 2 minutes or less) and how we need to just do them instead of writing them down or procrastinating. We could save a lot of time (and mind power) if we would just do these little things instead of repeatedly thinking about and trying to remember to do them. "Each time you clear brain space by getting a trivial task completed and off the list, you're making room for heavy-duty thought processes. Think about all of the problems you could solve, or all the ways you could let your creativity flow if you didn't have a dozen nibbling tasks torturing your brain."
Crystal suggests that you make a list of these tiny tasks each morning when you get up and then do them as quickly as possible. It will help give you some extra motivation and sense of accomplishment.

Monday, January 27, 2014

21 Days to a More Disciplined Life: Day 19

I am reading 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life as part of my goals for 2014 and I'm sharing insights from each day's readings. If you want to catch up on my progress, read previous days: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7, Day 8, Day 9, Day 10, Day 11, Day 12, Day 13, Day 14, Day 15, Day 16, Day 17, Day 18.

Day 19:
Get it done early. "This principle applies to your home and family life as well as your business. Whenever possible, get it - whatever it may be - done early and eliminate the stress and frustration of being pulled in a million directions." Crystal talks about how she had a problem with always being late. I can totally relate to this as I have struggled with it as well. "Why complete a task now, when I can wait 30 more minutes and do it in a mad rush?" Pretty silly thinking, but many times I find myself doing it. Procrastination brings extra stress so why do we do it? It's a wrong mentality that we need to change. Well, at least, I need to change. Don't overwhelm yourself by trying to be on time for everything at once. Start slowly by focusing on one event at a time.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

21 Days to a More Disciplined Life: Day 18

I am reading 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life as part of my goals for 2014 and I'm sharing insights from each day's readings. If you want to catch up on my progress, read previous days: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7, Day 8, Day 9, Day 10, Day 11, Day 12, Day 13, Day 14, Day 15, Day 16, Day 17.

Day 18:
Embrace your own uniqueness. You are you so don't focus on trying to measure up to someone else. It just wastes time and energy. Be a wise steward of the talents, gifts, and abilities that God has given you. You can think about ways to improve upon these, but you cannot change who He has created you to be. It's tempting to look at people we admire and consider our differences from them to be shortcomings. But don't think for one minute that you're inferior because you don't measure up to them. You are a unique person, created in the image of God with your own unique set of skills, weaknesses, joys, tears, homes, and bodies. Crystal recommends reading Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton. One of the big things that Marcus pushes for is playing to your strengths, not your weaknesses. Learn to build on what you already do well and bring your weaknesses up to average. "You were born an original, don't die a copy!"

21 Days to a More Disciplined Life: Day 17

I am reading 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life as part of my goals for 2014 and I'm sharing insights from each day's readings. If you want to catch up on my progress, read previous days: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7, Day 8, Day 9, Day 10, Day 11, Day 12, Day 13, Day 14, Day 15, Day 16.

Day 17:
Stop comparing yourself to others! Crystal encourages everyone to not feel guilty if you aren't able to do exactly what she is doing, which is getting up early in this case. You have to look at where you are in life and determine what is best for you and your family. Consider your needs, the needs of your family, your strengths, and your weaknesses. Choose goals that work for you and your family, even if it's completely opposite of what works for someone else. Don't pine after someone else's life. Learn to be content with and make the most of YOUR LIFE. Develop your own style, develop your own habits, develop strong discipline, and be a person that others can look up to.

I am in the same boat as Crystal. I am not pregnant or nursing. My kids sleep through the night most of the time. At 7, 5, 4, and 2, my kids are starting to be able to do more things without assistance. I homeschool my kids, which provides for a more flexible schedule. We are debt free (minus the mortgage) so it is easier financially for my to work part-time from home. My hubby is totally on my side, encouraging and challenging me when I need it. Every mom has to learn what works and is best for her family. Now, neither Crystal or myself, for that matter, are telling you that you have excuse to be lazy. We are merely saying that everyone is different, has different circumstances, and lives at different stages of life. I remember when I was pregnant with Miss S. and had all-day sickness if I didn't get 7 hours or more of sleep. There was no way then that I would have been able to do what I am attempting now. It wouldn't have been wise or healthy. Life would be pretty boring if everyone was the same. Be a better version of yourself instead of trying to be someone else.