Thursday, September 27, 2018

7 Apple Books That Will Make Your Kid Crave Autumn

I've gotta admit, we are an apple family. Pumpkin spice is great and all, but apple is where it's at. I love apple crisp, and my father makes the smoothest apple cider I've ever tasted in my life. I remember going to a cider mill in school and learning how they squish apples to make apple cider, and at the end of the day we all enjoyed apple cider donuts. I remember apple cider donuts being at the core of all gatherings as a school aged kid. Perhaps being from Upstate New York contributes to my love of apples, and all the joy it can bring to your life. It was never only about the apples themselves, but the memories they brought with them. Apple picking with my husband is one of my favorite memories I have in New York with him, and it helped him enter into the world of loving apples. You can enjoy the crisp, cool air, as well as the beautiful changing colors of the leaves before winter falls. I want to share this love with my children so they can fall in love with my home, the land of apples, and they can learn about them too.

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My favorite way to tell my children about things is to give them books. We learn so much, even things I don't already know through the books we find at the library or on Amazon. Here are a few of my favorite autumn / apple books.

You may also like: Preschool Graduation Gift Ideas

These two are nice easy reads for boosting the confidence of our your early elementary child. They can quickly learn some of the more difficult vocabulary, and then be able to read you the story. 

This teaches children about the process of making applesauce, and explains how this family has a special pot they have handed down through the generations to make applesauce in. I love it because it gives you a great, child friendly tone, and explains how applesauce is made.

This book is a more technical, and less about telling a story. If you want the facts of how apples are made, pick this up. My son loves learning about flowers . . . I would even say he's a budding botanist, so he loves books like this and learning about the aspects of how the trees grow. 

4. Apples
This one is popular among teachers when introducing apples and fall to their classrooms. It introduces Johnny Appleseed and talks about the pollination, and how apples are made.

5. Trish's Fall Photography
I am a huge fan of Giselle, and the awesome Kid's Yoga books she puts out. They give you a story as well as introduces simple and fun yoga poses to your children. My daughter LOVES them, and loves trying out all the yoga poses she learns while we read the stories to go along with them.  

6. Amelia Bedelia's First Apple Pie
This is a fun chapter book for early elementary school aged kids. Amelia Bedelia is a household name, and a classic favorite. We usually read chapter books before bed most nights. They're a great way to get lots of reading time in, and helps your child with reading comprehension.

7. Bad Apple: A Tale of Friendship
A book roundup would't be complete without a cute little story, right? This one is about a little apple who becomes friends with a worm. This leads to a lot of bullying and people telling that little apple he shouldn't be friends with a worm.

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Later this week we're going to talk about apple crafts and apple learning.
What are your favorite apple books?

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Best Summer Road Trip Audio Books

Traveling this summer? You'll need some audio books to get you through those long drives. 

I asked a group of friends what self help books they would recommend for a road trip, and I got a great response. Here are all the recommendations, and how to listen to them. 

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This summer, my family and I are moving from the East Coast to western Tennessee. It will be a thirteen hour drive, and we will be going through the evening. I'll need help staying awake, so while I'm not doing jumping jacks at the gas station to wake myself up . . . I plan to listen to a lot of audiobooks. I love them because you can download them on your phone ahead of time, and listen to them without depending on wifi, and you can read them without looking at your phone. This is obviously important as we're driving. 

How do I get audiobooks to listen to in the car? 

First, get a library card. It's free. It's wonderful. You won't regret it. My children and I go to the library once a week now, but when my youngest was a baby, I got a library card and used it to check out books on their app, Overdrive. I could read for free, and they would return automatically. Something my post baby brain didn't have the ability to remember. You really can't beat free, so that should always be the place you look first.

If your library doesn't have something available, look on Amazon. They may have it, or Audible might have it. If you'd like to try Audible for a month and get two free books, sign up here.

Lastly, one of my favorite sites to find Audiobooks, although it's not free, is Scribd. It's a subscription service with the majority of the most recent and popular books of today. With this link, you'll get a free month, which is all you need for this road trip!

Okay, okay, so what are these awesome audiobooks?

What Self Help Audiobooks Are Great For Roadtrips?

1. Cultivate by Lara Casey. As the founder of Cultivate What Matters, and Power Sheets, a FANTASTIC way to dig deep and discover your goals and then crush them, she knows a thing or two about self help. All of her books are incredibly helpful, but this one is first because it's my favorite. I also put it first because her wonderful group offered me all the suggestions I compiled into this list. 

summer audio books goal creation

2. Make it Happen by Lara Casey. I love her books. This one is great if you're like most women and strive for perfection. You can break that cycle of overwhelm and anxiety, and this book will help show you how. I can't recommend it enough! 

3. Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis. This book has been wildly popular this year, and I have loved reading it. Sometimes I have to stop myself and contemplate my life and feelings while I was listening. It's eye opening in the best way possible, and shatters those awful lies we tell ourselves as women. 

4.BrenĂ© Brown. All the books she wrote were mentioned. I watched her Ted Talk after I saw this recommendation, and I'm all in. Since I've read all the previously mentioned books, I will be reading one of her books this trip. Here are three of her most popular: The Gifts of ImperfectionDaring Greatly, and lastly Braving the Wilderness. I think you can't go wrong with any of them, so try them all! 

5. Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren. This is about finding blessings in every day life. 

6. There were several mentions of "Essentialism", and when I looked this up, there were so many different books by this title. I think this is what the several suggestions are referring to. Essentialism, about the benefits of minimalism. 

7. Thrive by Arianna Huffington. I have seen this book offered as a suggestion to reading lists over and over again, I can't wait to give it a listen.

8. The 12 Week Year by Brian P. Moran. The picture speaks for itself, doesn't it? Get more done in 12 weeks (that's a quarter of a year!) than others do in 12 months. Wouldn't that be awesome? This seems like a winner to me. 

9. The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst. This seems to be about saying yes to God, and what you want to be in front of His eyes, instead of saying yes to everyone. Ideally, this would give you a roadmap for how to shape your life. Saying yes to what is essential for being the person you want to be instead of who you think everyone else wants you to be. 

10. The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson. This is about drawing prayers around your biggest challenges. 

11. Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin. This is a great framework for building habits and creating a better life through better habits. 

12. The More of Less by Joshua Becker. Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own. 

13. The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes. You know her. The one who created Shondaland. Gray's Anatomy. How to Get Away with Murder. Scandal. She's amazing and incredible, and everything I've ever dreamed of being. She reads this book for the audiobook, and it's one of the best audiobooks I've ever listened to. If you're looking to be inspired, this is it.

This is not a complete list. There will be more added as I receive more recommendations. The free PDF will be compiled after I close this post. If you'd like to be on the wait list for it, sign up below. Thanks for your patience, and I hope you found your new road trip audiobook here! 

Monday, July 30, 2018

Simple Hacks to Help You Build New Habits

You Can Build New Habits, Here's How

Starting a new journey is never easy. There are a million hoops to jump through before you actually feel successful. Creating new habits isn’t easy, either. Here are six simple hacks that will make it a little easier. Use them until you’ve internalized the new habit and don’t need them anymore.

 How long will it take to stick to my new habit? Tips here! 

Schedule It And Put It On The To-Do List 

Sometimes we forget to do that new thing we were trying. Maybe we forget that we’re supposed to be having eggs for breakfast instead of a stack of waffles, or that we need to get that daily walk in. 

Schedule your new habits or make them part of your daily to-do list until they become something you do automatically. The first few days are always simple easy, because you just started and you're excited to do it, and you're excited to eventually see results. It's when those results don't come overnight that our energy tends to wane. 

Make It Public and Be Accountable 

Let family and friends know what new habits you’re trying to establish. They will call you out if you don’t stick to your plan and get you back on track. 

You may even go as far as sharing it publicly on Facebook or write a blog about your new journey, like me (if you do this, leave a comment so I can read it!). Knowing that others read it and know about it might be just enough to keep you going when you feel like throwing in the towel. When I was struggling with finding time for blogging, I posted about it on Facebook and received countless messages telling me what I say matter to them, and they like when I post. It was SO heartwarming a few days ago when a friend of mine told me a post of mine helped encourage her to drink more water. So make it public, you never know when something you say or strive for will help someone around you. 

Piggyback On A Habit You Already Have 

Whenever possible, add the new habit to one you already have. For example, if you always start dinner at 4pm, and you want to get in the habit of taking a daily walk, make the new ritual to go for your walk and then come back and start dinner. Hooking your new habit onto already established habits will make you much more likely to remember.

It’s much easier to amend an existing habit or ritual than creating an entirely new one. My favorite task to add things to is my cup of coffee in the morning. When I get to enjoy my coffee all alone in sweet silence, I put together my to do list, and enjoy the benefits of single-tasking and being crazy productive.  

Find An Accountability Partner to Achieve Success

Find someone with the same or similar goal. I call these accountability partners. Find a friend who is eager to make progress in their own life, and succeed together. Not only will you work harder because you want to improve, but you'll be reminded by them each day (or maybe you'll remind them!). My friend Becca is my go to accountability partner. We have joined yoga challenges, learned to eat better together, and done Pilates challenges together. Did I mention she lives a thousand miles away from me? Accountability partners don't have to be your neighbor (although that's fun too!), they just have to have your phone number. Keep tabs on each other and encourage each other to keep going. It’s much harder to skip a walk or work out if you know someone else is depending on you being there. 

Make It A Group Challenge 

If one accountability partner is good, a whole group is even better. And they don’t even need to be local. Find a supportive group online and challenge each other to stick to your new habit for the next 30 days or so. Not wanting to be the first one to give up will keep all of you going until you establish that new habit. 

Give these simple little hacks a try. Keep using the ones that you find helpful until you have made new habits you can stick with without the help of any tools or support. I made you a printable to use to help you work through these steps one by one so you can build your new habits quickly and easily. Find it below:

Saturday, July 14, 2018

How Multi-Tasking is Ruining Your Productivity and How to Fix it

I feel like every day starts the same. I wake up with all this inspiration to have a beautiful and productive day, but when it comes down to it, I feel like I'm just spinning my wheels while staying in place. I begin cooking breakfast, and then I notice all the dishes in the sink so I start those, then I notice my dog's water bowl is empty, and while I'm there I see I haven't vacuumed the den in days and the summer coat my dog is shedding is all over the floor. Once I get back to the eggs, they're burnt. Multi-tasking! I'm so guilty of it. I want to get as much done as I can, so I do as much as I can all of the time. I pick up extra tasks while I'm doing other things and then everything ends up taking ALL DAY. Maybe you've seen the video on Facebook of the girl who spent all day starting 100 cleaning tasks, and at the end of the day being exhausted, with nothing done. Multitasking makes you feel like you're being productive, but really, you're not doing your best work in any of these tasks, and they're taking much longer to finish. Multitasking spreads your energy and attention, usually too thin. When you're working on one task, you're focusing on the other tasks you're trying to do. How can you fix it? Let's try single tasking!

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What is Single Tasking?

Single tasking, like the name suggests, means focusing on a single task at a time. In the example we just talked about, focus on making breakfast first, and then move on. The way you do this is by minimizing interruptions. You're free to direct your entire attention to the one task, which means you complete it more efficiently. Often, this means the final product is higher quality than it would be when you multitask. Imagine, your eggs could be perfectly cooked instead of trying to scrub the burnt bits off the bottom of the pan. Or imagine actually being able to sit down and spend time with your child reading a book without checking your phone or worrying about the dishes, or what's for dinner tomorrow. 

Minimizing distractions is easier said than done, however. If you're the type who often checks your phone, even when there's no alert for new messages, you might need to turn it off or keep it in another room. Maybe keep your charger in a certain room, and leave it there, away from you. Similarly, when you log on to your computer, you need to make sure to keep your email closed and stop yourself from opening Facebook or Pinterest in a background tab. There are lots of apps that will help you limit your time on certain Web sites, such as, or

Using it to Your Benefit

Single tasking may be easier when you know when you'll have a chance to check your email or social media site, however. Studies suggest that taking a short break every 90 minutes help you to be more productive. During those breaks, you can give in to the urge to check all your alerts. Another popular method to increase your productivity is called the Pomodoro Method. This is essentially spending 25 minutes working, then five minutes off. After four 25 minute sessions, you take a longer break. Then continue as need be.

More Tips to Consider

One of my favorite productivity tips is writing everything down. I carry a notebook with me everywhere. I don't rely on memory to make sure I finish everything on my to do list. I often use a program called Trello, I can use it on all my devices and it's a great free program for list making. You can organize your things in boards, and have expiration dates, or check lists inside your cards. There is SO much to Trello, you can use it as a stay at home mom, for your work, as a to do list manager, or even as a list for groceries you need. And best of all IT IS FREE. You could upgrade if you wanted, but I have never done so, and I can't imagine a need to anytime in the future. But back to list making! If you take those thoughts out of your brain and put them on paper or into an app, you can focus better on the single task you're trying to do. It helps you stay focused because you won't waste brain space on trying to remember something else. 

My second favorite way to increase my productivity is to set up my day beforehand. Before I go to sleep, I try to plan out some of what I need to do in the morning. By planning out my most productive time of the day -- when I first wake up -- I can increase the amount I can get done, and prevent myself from spinning my wheels trying to find traction. You can wake up and know exactly what you want to get done, and what single task you should start with.

How do you know what to start with? Make a list of six things you need to get done the next day, and then organize them by importance. Starting at the top, do the most important thing first, and when that job is done, move on to the next. 

I made you a nifty work sheet you can end your day with every evening, grab it below today, so you can be productive now!
You may also like Meal Planning Basics!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Live a More Efficient Life With This Simple Trick

A few years ago I had been at a very low point in my life. I am almost positive I was suffering from postpartum depression and anxiety. I didn't feel like myself at all, and I had no idea how to fix it. I was scared of everything. After a woman told me I was a crappy parent for bringing my children out to dinner I was at such a low, and I had a hard time getting myself out of it. Even my chiropractor told me he could tell I just wasn't myself.

I began searching for ways to feel better. I didn't know I was suffering from anxiety, I thought this was just who I was now. I was terrified of raising my children as a person who felt so disconnected from everything. How could I possibly be who they need to be?

At this time, a friend in direct sales asked if I wanted to join her clean eating challenge for the week. I found it as an opportunity to change something in my life I saw needed to be fixed. My husband and I sat down and decided we weren't going to eat anything out of boxes anymore. No more hamburger helper (I can't believe I'm admitting out loud that we used to eat that crap!) or fast food. We discovered quinoa, and tried to eat a home cooked meal for dinner every night.

I had never felt so good in my life. After I did this week with my friend, I had started working out, and feeling amazing. I feel that changing my eating habits permanently changed my life. It's easy to follow once you see the change it creates in your life. How can you harness the same results in your life?

Meal planning. It will change your life.

What's so great about meal planning? Well, I'm glad you asked. You see, you're going to eat food every day for the rest of your life. Why not plan for it? Why should it be a surprise you need to cook those meals? With just a little work at the beginning of your week, you can prevent fast food eating and convenience food dependence. I believe in you! And at the end of this post I will have a cute meal planner for you to print out and try in your home.

Let's get to it. How to meal plan. Meal Planning for Beginners. How to Meal Plan for the Week. How to Meal Plan for a Month. What is a healthy meal plan? How to meal prep. How to meal plan on a budget. How to meal plan for weight loss. Menu planning ideas! 

Start With a Master Food List

The most beneficial part of my friend's meal plan was the master food list. The first part of planning meals is picking out the food you want to make this week, and then creating a shopping list from that list. You can find these online, or create your own. When we plan our meals we pick out five dinners for the week, and then take the ingredients and put them on a list for grocery shopping. After a few weeks, we started putting the list together based on where were in the grocery store. First was veggies and fruits, then meats, dairy, and finally extras in the middle. We could easily plan for days that we were going to be away, or home late when we looked at our schedule. It was also super simple to create goals with a list! 

Consider Your Goal

My goals were quite simple. I just wanted to feel better. I wanted to stop panicking every time meal time came around. I wanted to have everything I needed available so I could create dinner simply, without much will power. What are your goals? Do you want to reduce stress, or have more down time to enjoy being with your family? Maybe you want to lose some weight, or follow a keto diet. 

Look at Your Week 

Do you have other plans this week? Make sure you plan for what you're doing this week. If you have a kid's gymnastics class on Wednesdays, you'll want to plan for it so you aren't running around trying to figure out a last minute meal while everyone is starving. I find that almost always leads to fast food. Don't forget to plan for snacks, too! 

Consider Your Containers or Cookware

One thing many people do not consider about meal planning are the containers they will be using. This can make a big difference in how you plan out your meals. Most people do use containers that have several slots for protein, vegetables, fruits, and sauces, you know what diet I'm talking about. If you will primarily be doing full meals, then these are ideal. You may also want to bento boxes, soup containers, or other options. Consider what types of meals you want to have and then make sure you have the containers for them. It's also important to make sure you have all the pieces you need for cooking. For example, some Instant Pot recipes require accessories such as a small spring form pan for cheesecakes, or stacking insert pans for lasagna, rice or quinoa. It's important to have these ahead of time. 

Time Frame Planning

Considering your time frame is something that goes along with meal planning basics. You need to make sure that you are planning for a set amount of days. Most people do weekly meal planning while larger families may do planning for the whole month. The time frame along with the food lists and goals can greatly affect your budget, so considering a time frame is vital.

These basic principles of meal planning can help you get started. Remember, there is no set defined way of meal planning. The idea is to work with the diet you want, plan the meals, and make sure they work for you and your lifestyle. It may take a little time to get things on a solid track, but once they are you will find meal planning to be an easier route on many levels.

Don't forget to pick up your freebie, a meal planner with a bonus list for groceries. Everything you need to get started today, so go ahead and grab that below.

Do you meal plan already? What are some of your favorite meals?

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