Homemade Stovetop Popcorn

Mmm. The perfect snack. Leave the yucky microwaved stuff behind. With coconut oil, this is the BEST! New movie night tradition.

Affiliate links used.

Making your own stovetop popcorn is easy. Not only, that it’s super tasty and this recipe is the bomb. My kids (and husband) love movie nights that involve a giant bowl of this stuff.. CCoconut oil is the secret ingredient, skip the canola or vegetable oil and go straight to the good stuff. I buy my   coconut oil in 54 ounce tubs, but if you will only be using it for popcorn it’s still worth buying a small container! (Check out Amazon and Vitacost for a good selection. If you sign up using my Vitacost referral link, you’ll get $10 off.)

You might wonder, why not just pull out the microwave stuff. It’s a staple in so many homes. Easy and good movie night snack, right? Hold that thought. The synthetic butter flavoring is diacytel and may cause lung problems and most of the bags are lined with perfluorooctanoic acid, a carcinogen.

Don’t worry! There’s another option. Homemade is the way to go.

If you are looking to simplify homemade popcorn even more, check out a   Whirley-Pop Popper. This is the gadget we normally use, and it’s even easier. Today, though, I put my kernels in a good old pot and shook it around the old fashioned way to show you it can be done. :-) The bonus of using a heavy bottomed pot is that you get a little extra arm workout.

I’d say, if popcorn is something you just make once a month or a couple times a year, go with the pot method. If you make it weekly (or more – I’m telling you, it’s that good and easy. I love a snack I can give my kids in minutes.), investing in a  Whirley-Pop Popper is something you might want to do – and it’s not even that expensive.

Homemade Stovetop Popcorn
Serves: 9 cups
 

Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • ½ cup popcorn kernels
  • 2-4 tablespoons butter
  • sea salt to taste

Instructions
  1. Put 2 tablespoons in the bottom of a pot with a lid and add 3 popcorn kernels. Put the lid on and turn heat to medium (if you are using a thick bottom pot, turn it up a touch more.)
  2. Let pan sit on stove until the 3 kernels pop. Remove lid and add ½ cup of kernels. Replace lid. In the beginning shake pan every 20 or so seconds. As the corn begins popping, shake every 10 seconds.
  3. When the popping has stopped, pour popcorn into a bowl.
  4. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter. drizzle half of if over the popcorn and sprinkle with a little salt. Toss. Drizzle with the remaining butter. Toss. Add more butter and salt to taste.

Mmm. The perfect snack. Leave the yucky microwaved stuff behind. With coconut oil, this is the BEST! New movie night tradition.

Linking up to these fun parties!

 

Taking the Emphasis off of Gifts at Christmas

Christmas. A tree with presents piled underneath and stockings hung by the fireplace. Growing up, we’d always wake up early and try to whisper quietly for as long as we could stand it. Our morning would start with emptying stockings and amazing homemade cinnamon rolls. We’d then sit around the living room floor and go into the presents! So many great memories.

Is it Christmas without piles of presents under the tree? These are 8 great ideas to help your family take the emphasis off of gifts. Need to read this for this year!

We know you can buy presents on a budget, but what if you simply don’t want to have your focus on gifts this year? What if you want to take the emphasis off of gifts? What can you do to help your children know that Christmas is more than just presents?

I have come up with 8 ways of taking the emphasis off of gifts at Christmas.

Choose what works for you and take baby steps. If you uproot everyone of your traditions at once, your day might be spent with a lot of tears. Young children won’t understand your verbalization of why you are doing things differently.

Gift Less

This is a great first baby step. Instead of doing no presents, simply have fewer and then incorporate a few other ideas into your day. Christmas doesn’t have to be this big elaborate deal. You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars and have stacks of presents for each child. Be selective about what you buy. Your children don’t have to have everything on their wishlist. They might even appreciate what they do receive more than when their attention is divided between so many new things.

Family Gift

Stuff a stocking with little goodies for each family member but forgo individual presents and instead buy something everyone’s been wanting or go someplace fun!

Purchase some new movies, video games, board games, a swing set, trampoline or something that the entire family can do together instead of tearing through piles of presents. Spend the rest of the day creating memories and enjoy the one big gift.

Experience Gift

Go to the movie theater, rent a hotel room and use the indoor pool. If you live where it’s warm, take a trip to the beach or park. There are a lot of options if you think out of the box. Trampoline Park, museum that’s always been a little too pricey to make your budget cut, ice skating. This will, of course, depend on the age of your kids and interests in your family.

Add in special snacks and treats you wouldn’t normally have and make Christmas about the memories instead of the rush of opening presents that’s over in minutes.

If the experience you select isn’t open on Christmas day, spend the day relaxing, cookie decorating, movie watching, or serving and go on your adventure in the next week or two.

Go Serve

The family gift and experience gift both downplay gifts but you can take it a step further. Look around your area and find a service project your family can be involved in on Christmas day. Maybe help serve a Christmas meal.

I can guarantee your family will bond and you’ll remember this Christmas forever. Growing up we spent several Christmases delivering Christmas meals that a local church put together to those that are home-bound.

Go Minister

Contact your local nursing and assisted living homes. Spend a little time on Christmas talking with the residents that are spending the day without family. Listen to their stores, sing  carols with them, let them enjoy being around your kids.

Donate

You can either skip gifts all together and maybe have your family pick out items from the World Vision Gift catalog to enrich the lives of others around the world or give the difference of what you normally spend to an organization you select together.

Open Your Home

Keep your ears open around your work, church, areas of activity etc for those that have no place to go for the holidays. Invite them into your home, let them spend time with your family, enjoy a meal together, bring out the games and have a great time.

Christmas doesn’t have to be a day that revolves around gifts for your kids to cherish. Select some ways to take the emphasis off of gifts this year, you won’t regret it. Focus on family, memories, serving, and others this year and it will be a Christmas you’ll remember!

Have you tried taking the emphasis off of gifts at Christmas in your home?

Is it Christmas without piles of presents under the tree? These are 8 great ideas to help your family take the emphasis off of gifts. Need to read this for this year!

If you are looking for more Christmas posts, check out these:

11 Tips for Christmas Presents on a Budget
Gift Ideas for a Teenage Girl
Gift Ideas for a Two Year Old
Homemade Gift Baskets (Food and Drink Themed)
Losing the Christmas Chaos
Look Upward
When Christmas Becomes a Joy Killer

Or if recipes are more your thing, I have a fantastic fudge recipe you need to try!

Linking up to these fun parties!

 

Healthy and Easy Menu Plan and Goals

This time of year is always busy. Add to that getting ready for our second craft show this coming weekend and things are hopping. My dining room table is once again covered with product (finishing up the final project) and my computer has been taken over with designing signs for the table. Next up is a mock set-up of the table to make sure everything goes smoothly on Friday. I’m curious to see how this show goes, being close to Christmas.

Easy and Healthy Menu Plan and Goals for our family of 4. It's a crazy week around here and I'm pulling out my 2 favorites - soup and leftovers!

Making a snow angel was the first thing she wanted to do!

We had our first snow of the year yesterday! It wasn’t much but my daughter loved it. She went a little crazy when she spotted it coming down as we got in the car for church. My son, on the other hand, started off excited and quickly grew tired when he had to get bundled up. I guess looking like a marshmallow isn’t much fun.

Easy and Healthy Menu Plan and Goals for our family of 4. It's a crazy week around here and I'm pulling out my 2 favorites - soup and leftovers!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Mousse (sweetened with maple syrup and stevia).
A friend came over for a movie and we had this for dessert

The menu and goals this week are pretty simple as we get ready for the show. Nothing gourmet happening in our house. :-)

Breakfasts:

Lunches:

  • Blueberry Pancakes
  • Lunch at church
  • Salads, sweet potatoes,

Suppers:

  • Homemade Ham and Cheese Pockets x2 (easy road trip food)
  • Snack supper (small groups were cancelled)
  • Mexican Soup x 3 (told you it was easy around here this week)

Goals:

  • Finish Oatmeal Bath Tea Bags
  • Trial set up of the craft show display
  • Make a few sample gift baskets
  • Bible study
  • Do pilates 3 times

Linking up to Menu Plan Monday

11 Tips for Christmas Presents on a Budget

11 Tips for buying Christmas presents on a tight budget! Perfect for those of us that need (or want) to spend less this year. Check them out!

$801, that’s what participants in a survey from the American Research Group estimated they would spend on Christmas presents last year (and in my experience, it’s really easy to go over what you plan on). Americans, in 2011, were also estimated to spend the second most in the world on Christmas presents with Luxembourg coming in with the highest number.

For most families, presents are a huge part of Christmas celebration. Maybe you’d have unexpected expenses this year or your incomes been cut. Or perhaps you are wanting to simply lower the emphasis on presents this year. When you are on a tight budget, what can you do to stretch the money and make the most of it?

Tips for Christmas Presents on a Budget:

1. Make a list of everyone you usually buy for

Sit down and really brainstorm so you won’t have any unexpected surprises. Kids, spouse, your company party, extended family etc. Do you normally give a gift to your neighbor or babysitter? Write them down as well. Don’t worry about eliminating people from your list, yet, we’ll get to that later.

2. Have a Gift Budget

If you already have a budget, see what you have left in your gift category and then decide if you are putting any extra money towards presents for the holiday season (and how much if you are adding to it). If you don’t currently have a gift budget, look at the money you have coming in and see what you are able to allocate towards presents.

Write down the amount of money you have to work with.

3. Re-Evaluate your List of Individuals to Buy For

Now that you have a dollar amount, look back over your list. If money is tight this year, you might have to cut down on the number of people you purchase for or be willing to get creative or make some more affordable presents this year.

4. Take the Money out in Cash

Take the money that you allocated for Christmas presents out in cash and put it in an envelope. If you make a purchase online, take that amount of money out of the envelope and deposit it in the bank. There is just something about using cash that keeps you from spending as much and makes it impossible to go over budget. :-)

5. Don’t Over Buy.

This is so easy to do! Even for me, and I’m not a big shopper. So, what do you do to keep this from happening? Take your list of whom to buy for and make a list of what you are going to buy for each person. STICK TO IT! So often, I’ll find just one more thing that would be perfect and the stash of presents keeps growing.

6. Use Homemade Gifts

Do you like to sew? Use those skills and fabric from your stash or that you buy 40% off and make your kids dress up clothes, a tent to drape over a table, cute aprons for the ladies on your list. Sewing not your thing but you are a whiz in the kitchen? Do some baking. Maybe spa and personal care items are more of your thing. Put together a gift basket of scrubs, lotions, and lip balms you made. There are countless options. Look on Pinterest and search on Swagbucks to find ideas.

7. Buy Used

Okay, I know some people will hate this idea. I’m not saying to buy junk – be selective. I also know that in our home some portion of my kids’ gifts (3 1/2 and 18 months – I know this gets harder as they get older) are used every year! I’ve found books in great condition, like new puzzles, board games, clothes, and toys. Check garage sales and Facebook buy sell trade groups for your city.

(If you have a 2 year old, keep your eyes open for some of these items! Many of them I’ve been able to find used.)

8. Shop Around

Do your research and know what a good price is. Before you purchase an item from Amazon, make sure it isn’t on sale at Target or Wal-Mart and likewise, before you purchase at a store, make sure there hasn’t been a price drop on Amazon. Also, check out Camel Camel Camel before you submit your Amazon order to see if you might get a lower price if you wait!

9. Bulk Gift

No you aren’t going to be able to get everyone identical presents but if you can duplicate presents at all  - maybe identical presents for all the co-workers and Christmas parties and like gifts for your baby-sitter, hair stylist etc. you can actually use up what you bought instead of having 4/5 of the bag of beeswax pellets sitting in our cabinet for years.

Ideas: gift baskets for your co-workers and your siblings, Christmas sweets for goody bags (this fudge would be a perfect addition), homemade earrings for all the females in your life etc

10. Shop Year Round

Don’t wait for December to start thinking about presents. If you keep a running list of what you want to purchase for your family, you can be watching for great deals all year! It might be too late for this Christmas, but make your list for 2015 early and shop post-Christmas sales!

11. Swagbucks

This is an easy way to increase your Christmas shopping money a little bit. You earn points for doing web searches, streaming short videos, taking surveys and more. I don’t invest lots of time into it, but as I’m doing things on the computer I’ll have videos stream in the background and I’ll use their search engine. My goal is at least 35 Swagbucks a day. If I am able to accomplish that, I can purchase two $5 Amazon gift cards a month! It might not sound like a lot, but every bit adds up – $120 over the course of a year.

Just because your Christmas budget is smaller this year you don’t have to stress! It can still be a season filled with memories for your family. What tips do you have for Christmas presents on a budget?

Looking for gift ideas? Check out these three gift guides:
Gift Ideas for a Teenage Girl
Gift Ideas for a Two Year Old
Homemade Gift Baskets (Food and Drink Themed)

11 Tips for buying Christmas presents on a tight budget! Perfect for those of us that need (or want) to spend less this year. Check them out!

Linking up to these fun parties!

 

Healthy and Easy Menu Plan and Goals

We are going from a weekend of weather right at 70 degrees to it dropping to the low 40s for a high tomorrow! The leaves are just beginning to change colors and it’s the perfect time for all things pumpkin!

Healthy and Easy menu plan for our family of 4 - including 2 young kids!

Little brother wants to do whatever sister does. They enjoyed one last trip to the part before the cold comes.

Shaun had to work Saturday and I took the kids to the Veteran’s Day Parade. My little guy was in awe of the planes flying overhead. Every time they flew over he’d look up, point, and say “wow”. My daughter was most interested in the candy that was thrown. That evening I hung out with some friends and tackled products for the craft show coming up.

Healthy and Easy menu plan for our family of 4 - including 2 young kids!

This is the second time I’ve made a pumpkin smoothie. Neither have been hits, so I think I’m done attempting. I’ll enjoy my pumpkin in other forms. :-) The kids aren’t fans either.Easy and healthy menu plan for our family of 4 - incuding 2 young kids!

Topped with freshly grated nutmeg. Mmmmm. So good.

Breakfasts:

  • Pumpkin Smoothie
  • Leftover Swedish Pancakes
  • Eggs and Hash browns

Lunches:

  • Swedish Pancakes
  • Alfredo (this is what I’ve been wanting to eat since we finished up our Whole30)
  • Salads for Shaun and myself and leftovers, bean tostadas, or sweet potatoes for the kids.

Suppers:

  • Veggie Corn Chowder from the (affiliate link) 100 Days of Real Food Cookbook
  • Quesadillas
  • Bible Study (bring a pumpkin dessert of some kind)
  • Bean Tostadas
  • Homemade ham and cheese pockets – Shaun’s going to be gone.
  • Leftovers
  • Mexican Soup

Goals:

  • Continue with craft show stuff! I got more of my earring and ponytail holder stuff knocked out this week and really need to get to work on posters and signs this week. There’s about 10 days left to get it all done.
  • Exercise: Walk and 20 minute pilates workouts.
  • Blog: write two more posts and work on subscriber freebie.
  • Clear off dining room table and kitchen counters.
  • Do Bible study and work on scripture memory each day.
  • Work on gift list.

Linking up to Menu Plan Monday

Oat Flour Pumpkin Muffins with Cranberries and Chocolate Chips

Delicious and healthy oat flour pumpkin muffins with cranberries and chocolate chips! So good and wheat free and refined sugar free. Great way to start your morning.

I love all things pumpkin. Well, except for pumpkin pie. But everything else, bring it on!

I have a Pinterest board all things pumpkin that I occasionally like to drool over. There are even some healthy recipes on it. For the most part, though, when pumpkin recipes come along they are loaded with sugar and not exactly health food. Those are good for desserts or a special occasion breakfast, but day to day, I hate to admit it, they probably shouldn’t be a part of my diet. (So sad.)

In an effort to get pumpkin into my day (and have a make ahead meal for breakfast) I put together these yummy oat flour pumpkin muffins with cranberries and chocolate chips.

That’s right, there’s no wheat in them at all and they have unrefined sweeteners (and not too much of it). I suppose, if you really wanted to, you could leave out the chocolate chips (or cranberries if you are my daughter. She thinks she doesn’t like them. Good thing my boy will eat them for her.) and they’ll be even healthier. Do so at your own risk. The chocolate is a yummy addition.

5.0 from 2 reviews

Cranberry Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins
 

Ingredients
  • 2¼ cups oat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil or butter
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • ½ cup cranberries, cut in half

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 for a dark coated pan)
  2. Combine oat flour, baking powder, soda, salt, and spices in a small bowls
  3. In another bowl combine pumpkin, eggs, vanilla, oil, honey, coconut sugar, and milk. Mix well until smooth.
  4. Gently stir oat mixture into the wet ingredients.
  5. Fold in chocolate chips and cranberries.
  6. Put batter into 12 greased muffin tins.
  7. Bake for 18 minutes.

Notes
- I make my own oat flour using old fashioned rolled oats and blend them in the blender until a powder.
- If you omit the chocolate chips, increase sweeteners.
- I cut the amount of both sweeteners in half when making for our family!
- Can use 2½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice instead of the spices.

 

Delicious and healthy oat flour pumpkin muffins with cranberries and chocolate chips! So good and wheat free and refined sugar free. Great way to start your morning.
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Whole30 Soup Recipes

I love soups. They are easy and reheat great (in fact, a lot of times the leftovers are even better). Soups were one of my staples when we tackled our first Whole30. Especially for those crazy weeks. I know I can get a couple of suppers and even a lunch or two out of one pot.

Yum! Great list of soups that are ALL Whole30 approved. Need to check this out for my menu plan this week!

I tend to make soups without using a recipe, but I did some digging around on the internet and found a bunch of recipes that are Whole30 approved and look tasty and fairly simple.

Whether you are in the middle of a Whole30, trying to eat real food, or just trying to feed your family you’ll find recipes in this list of Whole30 soup recipes that will make the tummies in your house happy (especially as this cooler fall weather is arriving).

For more Whole30 meal suggestions, be sure to check out my list of 20 Whole30 Breakfast Ideas!

Whole30 Soup Recipes

What are your favorite soup recipes? Any that are Whole30 Approved? I still have some more posts coming up with Whole30 meal ideas and tips for if you ever decide to take on the challenge. Also don’t forget to check out the list of 20 yummy and healthy recipes ideas:

20 Whole30 breakfast ideas and recipes! Great resource for healthy breakfasts - the hardest for me to come up with recipes for. (My FAVORTIE breakfast casserole is on this list)

Linking up to these fun parties!

Easy and Healthy Menu Plan and Goals

I think it is safe to say that the lingering days of summer are gone and fall has arrived. We spent the early part of last week still seeing 70s and 80s but by the weekend the highs were in the 50s and 60s. Time to bring out the scarves, long sleeve shirts, blankets to snuggle on the couch with, and hot tea to drink!

Easy and Healthy Menu Plan for our family of 4 including 2 little kids!

Some yummy Pumpkin Ice Cream with Chewy Gingersnaps

For some reason this past week has been exhausting. The little guy had a few long nights, Shaun had to work Saturday, and all the regular things that happen on Sundays have me ready for a nap. :-) The next craft show is coming up in less than three weeks so I have to make time to start tackling those projects.

Easy and Healthy Menu Plan for our family of 4 including 2 little kids!

My little cat and alligator/dragon thing walking to church

The beginning of our menu is going to be all about using up what we have in the fridge as I still need to hit the grocery stores.

Easy and Healthy Menu Plan for our family of 4 including 2 little kids!

Black Bean Soup Topped with Salsa and Sour Cream (or yogurt if that’s what you have)

Suppers:

  • Chicken Chow Mein over brown rice x 2
  • Small Groups
  • Baked Chicken and roasted butternut squash x 2
  • Nachos
  • Homemade Pizza

Lunches:

  • Pumpkin Waffles
  • Leftovers Black Bean Soup
  • Salads and leftover soup for me and Shaun and leftovers, bean tostadas, or sweet potatoes for the kids.

Breakfasts:

Goals:

  • Craft show items and putting together signage for the booth – got some work done but need to do more.
  • Work on a subscriber freebie – yep, didn’t happen last week.
  • Write 2 more posts – got this done last week and hope to do it again!
  • Exercise – 20 minute pilates workouts and walking hopefully.
  • Review Bible verses and start a new one
  • Read a couple more chapters in (aff link) When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself

Linking up to Menu Plan Monday

 

Tex Mex Spaghetti Squash

Super yummy and easy Tex Mex Spaghetti Squash! My FAVORITE spaghetti squash recipe - must make while it's squash season. (Can be vegetarian too!!!)

Last month, during our Whole30 I cooked spaghetti squash for my first time. We’ve since made it on several different occasions with the recipes having varying levels of success.

Let me tell you, this recipe for Tex Mex Spaghetti Squash is my favorite! Black beans, cumin, paprika. So many tasty flavors combined together and when you add melted cheese it’s only going to get better. Even my 17 months old who never eats ate this up!

This dish can easily be vegetarian or have chicken added in (or add the meat to just half of it). Either way, it’s good! (My husband would tell you with meat is always better.)

You also have the option of using the spaghetti squash shell as your serving dish or putting it in a baking dish. One less dish to do is always nice. :-)

Super yummy and easy Tex Mex Spaghetti Squash! My FAVORITE spaghetti squash recipe - must make while it's squash season. (Can be vegetarian too!!!)

If you are like me and are looking for a good first recipe to introduce spaghetti squash to your family or if you are a spaghetti squash veteran and wanting to try something new, this recipe needs to be on your menu. Tex Mex Spaghetti Squash is going to be my new standby during squash season.

4.8 from 4 reviews

Tex Mex Spaghetti Squash
Serves: 4-6
 

Ingredients
  • 1 large spaghetti squash
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1½ cups black beans
  • 1½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1½ teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, deseeded and minced
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 2 cups diced cooked chicken – optional
  • 1-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • Oil

Instructions
Spaghetti Squash
  1. Carefully cut spaghetti squash in half. Scrape out the seeds and stringy insides. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and then sprinkle with salt. Place cut side down on a pan lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool until you can handle it. Turn squash over and use a fork to scrape across the squash short ways to make the spaghetti.
Everything Else
  1. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Drizzle with olive oil or coconut oil.
  2. Add onions and jalapeno and saute a few minutes. Add garlic, bell pepper, salt, cumin, paprika, and chili powder. Saute around 5 more minutes.
  3. Add corn and black beans (and chicken if using) and saute until heated through.
  4. Add spaghetti squash strands to skillet and carefully stir and toss everything together. Adjust salt and seasonings if needed.
  5. Transfer mixture into both halves of the squash or into an 8×11 glass baking dish.
  6. Sprinkle with cheese.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

 

Super yummy and easy Tex Mex Spaghetti Squash! My FAVORITE spaghetti squash recipe - must make while it's squash season. (Can be vegetarian too!!!)

Linking up to these fun parties!

9 Steps to Finding Joy in Stress

9 simple steps on finding joy in stress. I need these right now! Great advice.

It’s been a long 6 months. Stress wouldn’t exactly be the one word I’d select to sum up my year but I’ve felt a lot of it lately.

In the grand scheme of life I know my issues are nothing. In fact, I think I’m ridiculous for even feeling stressed. My family is healthy, we have money to budget with, food to eat, and a great home to live in. My husband has a job with great health insurance and I am blessed with a part time job a block from our house that I can bring the kids to.

What more do I need? Seriously. Why should I struggle and be stressed? Why should I want more or for life to be different?

Life doesn’t always happen how I want or plan. When my dreams or ideas of how things should be differ from the reality, conflict can happen. It’s then easy for me to be unhappy and I find myself getting frustrated and stressed and worried about the future and never ending “what ifs” of life. What a miserable way to live.

When looking at stress or joy, which would I select? Easy choice there. Not that many weeks ago, I had a little perspective change and since then I’ve begun enjoying life and have been okay with where I’m at and what I’m doing – what God has put in front of me right now.

I want joy to be what I feel in our home. To be what my family feels. Joy is not from everything going according to my plans and nothing going wrong, but instead from having my perspective in the right place and letting God do His work.

As I look over the last month 9 steps to finding joy in stress come to mind:

1. Don’t dwell on the negative. When things don’t happen the way you’d like, when your child is disobedient, someone is sick, the car breaks down, the perfect opportunity falls through, you feel like your house is too run down  - don’t dwell on it! Give yourself a moment to vent and then let it go.

2. Give thanks! Keep a running list of all the little and big things you have to be thankful for. It could be something as simple as your child reaching up to grab your hand, the perfectly ripe pear, or that you have carpeting that needs to be vacuumed. Even on the worst of days, there is something we have to be thankful for.

How to take your life from stressed to joyfilled! Remember these simple principles really have made a difference in my home. NEED to read!

3. Memorize Scripture. This will enable you to replace the negative thoughts with life giving words. It’s easier to not dwell on the negative if we have something to replace those thoughts with.

4. Exercise. Doing something physical, even for just a few minutes, can really help clear your mind and give you energy to face the next task. 10 minutes of pilates, a 20 minute run, or quick power walk pushing the kids in the stroller all can make a difference.

5. See the Big Picture. When life happens, it’s so easy for me to only be able to focus on the circumstance that just happened. It helps to remember what you are doing, why you are doing it – to always remember that God really is in control.

6. Break it Down. Sometimes stress can be caused by a situation, task, or goal seeming impossible. A mountain of debt, large savings goal, parenting struggle, or medical problem is daunting. Finding a new job is a big thing. Break your task (source of stress) down. Try having monthly goals or celebrating every thousand dollars saved. Focus on applying to so many jobs each week. You might even be able to make your daunting task a little fun. Instead of worrying about the uncertainties of the future, get through the next doctors visit or surgery and face one day at a time instead of trying to face all the unknown future at once.

7. Eat Right. Too much sugar (maybe even any sugar) really can affect our mood and behavior as can processed foods. Decrease or cut them out of your diet. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables and plenty of healthy fats. I noticed a big difference in my mood and emotions during our Whole30. During it I became less irritated and stressed.

8. Get Enough Sleep. When I don’t sleep, my ability to handle stress decreases. Everything seems a way bigger deal than it really is. Sneak in a nap. Go to bed 20 minutes earlier. Maybe even give yourself a little grace on your morning wake up time.

9. Have Visual Reminders. Tape quotes and scripture verses to your computer monitor, the bathroom mirror, and above the kitchen stink. Take the word you want to focus on and make it a piece of art to hang on your wall.

How to take your life from stressed to joyfilled! Remember these simple principles really have made a difference in my home. NEED to read!

Dayspring has just come out with a new line of art – Letterpress Blocks. You can put together your own words, numbers symbols. The block come in different sizes and fonts.

  • Do you have a favorite scripture? Add the reference to your decor.
  • A word you are trying to live (such as joy)? Add it to your wall so you are always thinking of it.
  • How about your last name or the year your family was established? Yep, you can do that as well.

Head to the Letterblocks Interface on Dayspring’s website and you can put together your words and see what sizes and fonts you like the best and come up with a new piece of art to put on your wall!

As I continue to try and focus on joy during this season of my life, I’m going to be hanging the word in a prominent place where I can be continually reminded to keep my focus in the right place.

How do you combat the stress in your life? What word or phrase would you choose to hang on your wall from the Letterpress Block Collection by Dayspring?

9 simple steps on finding joy in stress. I need these right now! Great advice.

Linking up to these fun parties!