Making the Most of Canceled Plans

With so many events being canceled and school/work closures, a lot of us are finding we have an abundance of time on our hands these days. This is a big change even for our homeschool family. I mean, the library is closed, people. That’s pretty much my social life. Actually, that’s a complete joke, but we can get to that in another post.

This post is from me, the introvert, to help you make the most of canceled plans. I’m really good at this, guys. So if you are freaking out about all this time at home, I got you, boo.

I also want to note that there is no pressure here. There are no expectations you have to live up to during this ridiculously weird season we are going through. This is simply meant as an encouragement to be intentional about how you use your time, to control the parts we can control and let go of those we can’t.

Get Some Rest

The biggest problem with our overstretched lives is the lack of sleep. It messes with you.

So make sure you get some rest and then work on getting yourself on a schedule that allows you to get the sleep you need every night. That might mean you have to make some decisions to drop things in your life once things start returning to normal. This is the perfect time to think through those things. Because catching up on the weekend doesn’t cut it.

Tackle Clutter

In our day-to-day busyness, things get pushed to the back burner. Tidying up or decluttering is one of the first things that goes for myself. I only have so much mental bandwidth and the things I’m not good at are the first to go. Unfortunately with clutter, this usually backfires because then the clutter makes me feel more anxious as I see all the things I need to be doing. Then I get overwhelmed and shut down and things get worse instead of better. It’s a vicious cycle I’ve been working on the last few years.

If that is something you relate to or you just need a good declutter session, prioritize that this week. It will help your home feel better. There is actual science that connects clutter with anxiety and depression. Give yourself the gift of good mental health.

Family Time

The statistics for just how much time families spend together at home these days is pretty abysmal. The latest statistic I saw was from 2018 and said that with everything we have going on, American families spend an average of 37 minutes of quality time together on weekdays. Use your cancelled plans to up your family’s average.

  • Eat meals together. Make it a point to have at least one meal each day where everyone puts their screens away and you all sit down at a table or just in the same room. Then talk. Talk about things you would like to do as a family when all of this chaos blows over. Brainstorm ideas for things you could do after the meal. This doesn’t have to be dinner, if mornings are better for you all to slow down together, then do breakfast or cook a brunch together.
  • Put a puzzle together. Don’t have one? Order one from Amazon (check out these options!).
  • Play a board or card game.

Exercise

Don’t let yourself get caught in a sedentary routine while social distancing. Be intentional about moving your body. If you find yourself sitting for long periods of time, get up and stretch. Get outside if you can. Fresh air and sunshine are great for your immune system and mental health.

If you can’t get outside, check out YouTube for exercise videos. There is a whole slew of people who have created various workouts, including dance routines to popular songs. If you need something more structured, sign up for a service like Beachbody on Demand and give one of their programs a try.

Goal Setting

I’m a fan of goal setting, it’s no secret. Now is a great time to think about where your life is heading and see if you are happy with that. Think about areas of frustration and see what you can do to walk towards change. Think about what brings you joy and see if you can make more of that happen in your life. If life has brought you a separation from things that you thought you couldn’t live without, think about how you want to move forward when you have access to that again.

Related Posts: Challenge Yourself…Intentionally, 5 Steps to Change Just About Anything, One Change You Must Make to Meet Any Goal

Making the most of your canceled plans is just a matter of priorities, take a look at what you really need to accomplish and then get to it. Now, if you happen to have kids at home suddenly and you don’t know what to do with them because they are all up in your face (trust me, I GET IT) or you are thinking of giving homeschooling a trial run since the schools are already closed, I can help you with that too. Just look for my next posts.

Blogging, Goals, and How the Things Change

When I first started blogging (back in the mid-2000’s…well over 10 years ago 😱), it was to share bits of my life and to rediscover writing after the baby years. Eventually I learned that there were some crazies actually making money doing this thing and so I figured that should include me. After all, I am a blogger and I just might be crazy. Along the way, I tried a variety of topics trying to find my passion because all the blogging experts were telling me that’s what I needed to do. Focus, Vicki, focus!

Here’s the thing. I’m not really good with focus. I’ve always been a daydreamer and as an adult, I’ve always been good at anxiety and worry. Those two things usually leave my mind constantly trying to figure out what I’ve done wrong in this moment and how I’m pretty sure I’m screwing things up overall. This leads to me chasing squirrels and overplanning just about everything. Because if you fail to plan, you plan to fail, amiright?

Then the panic attacks happened, relationships in my life went haywire, and I sort of mentally imploded and stopped everything. Except buying washi tape and books, let’s not get crazy here. I walked away from a position in my church, blogging, and anything else that was causing stress to our family. Let me say this, the problem I was having was me and how I was handling things, not necessarily the things I walked away from. Other people handle these good things just fine. I just wasn’t one of those people at that point. When I get overwhelmed, I shut down. This rarely helps things.

Time went on as it does and my life got busier in other ways. I taught several classes at our homeschool co-op (including a two hour kindergarten class last year 😬). Our kids joined activities and had the audacity to develop social lives outside of our home. I took on a cleaning job with my oldest daughter so the kids could have the chance to earn some money (and I would have a bit for books…). My husband jumped jobs a few times, took on an assistant pastorship, started leading worship in a church plant, and generally got busier in addition to his full time job.

I’d like to tell you that I handled it all much better than I previously handled the busy, but I’m not certain that is the truth. In some ways, I did handle it better and my family was able to do the things they wanted and needed to do without much added stress from me (at least I think so, ha). The bad thing is, I basically alternated between internalizing it all or ignoring how overwhelmed I was feeling. Which brings me to now.

Where am I now?

To be honest, I’m not even sure. I know this time of year usually brings me to a place of reflection and this year has been no different in that regard. But what I am finding different is the kinds of goals I am setting and how I am going about it. In times past, my goals have looked a lot like tasks to check off my never ending to do lists. There are a few of those, but this year, my goals for 2019 overall are a bit different.

A couple months ago, God really started opening my eyes to some things and the recurring theme has been habits. So when I sat down to write my goals for this year (well, the first time, it took me a couple weeks to actually get them settled), I knew I had my One Word for the year. I didn’t bother with it the last couple years, but this year it was an obvious choice.

2019: The Year of Habit

It’s really simple, the goal is to break some bad habits and make some better habits. But I can’t just leave it there because that isn’t really quantifiable and I need quantifiable to be able to track myself. So here is my master list of habit goals for 2019 (and beyond):

  • improve my bible reading habit
  • establish a planner habit that actually works for me
  • establish a workout habit
  • improve my reading habit
  • decrease my phone habit
  • increase my writing habit
  • improve my sleep habits
  • improve my housework habits
  • improve my money habits
  • improve my food habits

It feels like for the first time, I actually have goals that makes creating to do lists, prioritizing, and getting things done actually possible. From this list, I went to on to start a “Habits I Would Like to Build” list. This list is not conclusive. I hope to add to it as I start conquering things. My current list:

  • making my bed first thing – to tell my brain that we are done sleeping for the day
  • getting dressed first thing – to better define my days, build more structure, so a day of rest is earned and valued
  • a set laundry cycle/schedule
  • get back to consistently meal planning and cooking dinner at home – planning ahead and using my slow cooker for more of those busy days
  • one on one time with each kid at least 1-2x’s/week – help my older ones learn to set up goals, make plans, and to hold them accountable
  • a morning time routine 3-4x’s/week – build a family culture to give my kids a more intentional foundation
  • a regular exercise habit

I stopped myself there because I have SO many habits I know I should have, but I am really trying to not overwhelm myself…again.

Armed with my prioritized habits list, I set a few goals for specifically for January. There are couple “themed” goals that will make an appearance on my goal list each month this year. For example, I’d like to read through the New Testament in addition to our bible study readings this year. So I will pick a book or books to read for that each month. I’m wanting to write out more scripture, so that is there. I’m also trying to stick with the habit tracker in my goal planner, I want to work up to using that daily so I’m starting with a small step.

  1. Read New Testament – Matthew
  2. Write Scripture – James
  3. Good Habits – Hit 40% of the days for my habit tracker
  4. Finish 10 Books
  5. Finish 4 Projects
  6. Maintain use of my planners – specifically my small daily and my goal planner

I set a goal to read 52 books for 2019 over on Goodreads. However, I didn’t make last year’s goal (same) and I have several books already in progress. I want to finish those and read a couple new ones before the year gets really busy.

The four projects is from a master list of things that need to be done at our house. They range from small (reorganize the junk drawer) to big (repainting the wainscotting), but there is enough on the list that finding four that I can complete in January should be pretty easy.

So what does blogging have to do with all this? Well, I’m going back to my roots. I’m sharing my journey. Occasionally you will get some other resources, but mostly I look for this year to be a bunch of sharing my planners, my new routines, my broken bad habits, and lots of books. Oh how I’m hoping for lots of books!

If you have stuck with me this long, bless you. Seriously. BLESS YOU. If you want to here more about these things, you can sign up for the email list and I will try my best to let you know when there is new content to be read. Or you can use a feed reader, which may be the better option for staying on top of things, to be honest.

Next up, a list of the books I’m most looking forward to reading this year!

Photo by chill’in on Unsplash

Make Someone’s Day with Happy Mail

Over holidays, I received a package from DaySpring that contained some gifts that I had ordered and a little note that said the average person receives something like 12 pieces of personal mail per year. I’d double check the number, but the note was pitched in the holiday chaos. It was a really low number. DaySpring included a free card with the encouragement to be the 13th (or whatever came next) for someone.

Being that this is the time of year that I reflect on my goals and plans for the new year, I decided this was a great fit for me. I’m wanting to be more intentional about reaching out this year (among other things) and who doesn’t like to get a piece of mail that is personal, just for them and NOT a bill or junk?

I’d like to encourage you to do the same. Make a point to mail out a card or letter every week or so to someone you love. Packages are great and if you can do that, go for it! They can be a bit expensive to mail though so if you are like me, they tend to be far and few between mailings. A letter, card, or a postcard costs you roughly 50 cents.

Make someone's day with happy mail! Send a letter today!

Who should I send happy mail to?

Don’t know who you should mail or give a letter to? Here’s a list to get you thinking:

  • Family. Parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. They don’t even have to live far away, you can mail a letter next door!
  • Friends. You know those people you talk to on Facebook, through text, and other electronic means? Take a minute to write them a short personal note and drop it in the mail.
  • Co-Workers. Let them know how much you appreciate them.
  • Church Family. You see them on Sunday, let them know that you think about them through the week, too.
  • Kids. Your kids or someone else’s, it doesn’t matter. Kids LOVE getting mail.
  • Community Workers. Send notes of thanks to your police officers, firefighters, EMTs, pastors, and volunteers.
  • Military. You can find addresses through Any Soldier or send letters through Operation Gratitude.
  • Government Leaders. Yeah, those people making laws and generally on the receiving end of all kinds of nastiness? Be different. Be encouraging.

What do I say?

Don’t overthink this. If you aren’t comfortable writing your feelings out, find a card that says just what you want to say and add an “I love you” or “Though of you when I saw this” to the bottom.

Just remember that the point of this is to brighten someone’s day. If someone is going through a hard time, share an encouraging thought, prayer, or Bible verse. If someone recently celebrated something, celebrate with them and send them well wishes.

If you are writing a politician and you want to address something, be gracious. Be kind in your words. Be encouraging.

What do I send?

Currently in the United States, it costs 47 cents to mail a first class letter or card. It costs 34 cents to mail a postcard. Those are the cheapest options.

You don’t have to buy an expensive card, a letter requires a piece of paper, a pencil or pen, and your time. You can make cards with simple craft supplies (ahem, easy washi tape craft alert).

If you want to make it a little more special, choose a fun stamp from the USPS to dress up your envelope.

If you choose the postcard route, there are LOTS of options for you. You can pick up post cards in some restaurants, gift shops, and even on Amazon.

Will you join me in brightening someone’s day this year?

Simple Steps to a Healthier Life

A friend says, “Hey, how are you doing?”

“I didn’t sleep well last night, but I’m good.”

Another acquaintance asks, “How have you been?”

You reply with a genuine smile, “Busy, tired, but who isn’t?”

You find memes about coffee and caffeine being your daily fuel to be all to relatable. I mean, they are funny, but it kind of concerns you that your body doesn’t have the energy for your day without a stimulant like caffeine.

Or your body is so sensitive to caffeine that a simple cup of coffee too late in the day will wreck your night of sleep with a panic attack.

This has been the story of my life for the last few years. My 30’s haven’t been very kind to my body. Of course, I haven’t really been all that kind to my body most of my life. I guess turnabout’s fair play, huh? I think I’ve been due for a few simple steps to a healthier life to correct things for a while now.

With my panic attacks and some issues that come around (or not, ha) on a mostly monthly basis, I’ve finally found a regimen of supplements (herbs, vitamins, and minerals) and essential oils that I find extremely helpful, but they haven’t had near the impact that I’ve seen with tweaking my diet and adding more movement to my day. If you are interested in reading about my supplements and oils, let me know in the comments and I will find a way to tell you about them that doesn’t get me in trouble with the powers that be regulating. 😉

Simple (I Promise!) Steps to a Healthier Life - Vicki-Arnold.com

Simple Steps to a Healthier Life

You may have picked up from the above paragraph that my simple steps have to do with food and movement. Before you roll your eyes or feel exasperated because you’ve tried this before, hear me out.

I’ve tried being intentional about exercising daily, I even made it about 6 weeks with this goal last fall. I’ve tried just about everything you can think of for cutting or reducing sugar in my diet because, frankly, I’m a bit addicted. None of these have stuck, but this spring, I think I have found a few simple steps that will stick.

1. Drinking a glass of water before anything else in the morning. I tend to not drink a lot during the day. I had days where I would get to dinner and realize I hadn’t drank any water that day. Not really helpful for my body. This way I have at least 16 oz. of water (one of our drinking glasses) in the morning. I usually take my supplements with this so it’s easy to get it all down.

2. Focus on veggies at lunch. I try to have a salad for lunch each day. As much as a creature of habit I am (I typically have the exact same salad), I also fight routine like nobody’s business so it’s ridiculous how hard this can be some days.

I’m not focused on specific items, just aiming to have vegetables. Previously, I’ve actually had days where I hit dinner and realized I hadn’t had a vegetable all day. Yeah, you can see why simple steps needed to happen for me.

3. Stop striving for perfection. This simple step has probably been the hardest to implement. I tend to be all or nothing and this often leads to a lot of nothing because who really can be “all” perfectly? Not me, that’s for sure.

What this looks like for me is that when I do great a few days in a row and my mind starts making all these grand plans of how I’ll get it right and do it EVERY.SINGLE.DAY from here to eternity, I tell myself to shut up. Well, not exactly, I just stop and take some deep breaths. Then I thank God that I’ve managed to do something right for a short consistent time because I know that isn’t me.

Then, when I miss a day or two, I don’t stress. I simply make a mental note to pick up where I left off or start again right then, depending on what it is. I’m aiming for every day, but realizing that isn’t always going to happen. For a lot of reasons.

4. Prepping vegetables and other items as I can. One of the things that annoys me about vegetables is all the chopping it takes to use them. I don’t have time to chop lettuce, broccoli, onion, shred carrots, etc. everyday for a salad. So I don’t.

I keep a large, covered Pyrex bowl in the refrigerator with cut up lettuce. Then I keep a sandwich size bag each of broccoli bits, chopped red onion, and diced bell peppers in the deli drawer. I buy my carrots pre-shredded. I shred hunks of Tillamook cheese that we get from Costco and keep it in a gallon size bag, also in the deli drawer. I only have to do this once every 4-5 days, depending on who else eats salads.

I used to think that I needed to have a set day to do this in order for it to be an official routine, but I’ve let go of that and just do it when it needs done. That’s routine enough.

5. Front load my day with productivity. This is the step I actually do the worst with, being intentional about getting the productivity wheel going each morning. I am NOT a morning person in the slightest and so it takes me a while to get going in the morning, and no, a cup of coffee doesn’t help this.

My productivity often looks different each day. I have days where I try to get a one mile walk in before breakfast. Some days it is reading my bible and reading an actual book for personal growth. Other days it is specific homeschool group work done before lunch. Some days it is dishes and laundry.

It really doesn’t matter what it is, just something that needs to be done and that doesn’t involve a screen. Screens are a big, time-sucking rabbit trail for me.

6. Whenever possible, exercise before breakfast. For me, this is my one mile walk. It takes me 15-25 minutes, depending on who ends up going with me or if I get to go alone. I have short legs and walking at 3.5 miles per hour is really moving for me (I know this from walking on a treadmill). This walk isn’t meant to do anything other than get me moving early, out in the fresh air, and clear-headed, so I walk at a relatively leisurely pace most of the time.

The point is movement early in the day, not a super sweatfest. If you want a super sweatfest, then have at it. It’s just not me yet.

7. Making breakfast very protein-heavy. This is hands down the simple step that has made the biggest impact for me. Sometime in March, I started focusing on protein for breakfast. Being the creature of habit that likes to think she doesn’t like routine that I am, this is fairly consistent in content, too. Typically it is 3 breakfast sausages (fully cooked, frozen ones from Costco that have no msg, nitrites, or preservatives), 1-2 eggs, and a few berries.

Sometimes I will sauté some veggies in the pan and then crack my egg over that, just to get more vegetables in my day. This doesn’t happen often because it adds to the time it takes to make my breakfast since I only use one pan for my breakfast because, hello? Dishes.

Previously, I didn’t get much protein in my day either. At this point you may be wondering what the heck I ate and drank since veggies, protein, and water were often lacking from my diet. I’ll give you an example: breakfast would be cereal, oatmeal, or a bagel; lunch would be mac and cheese or pancakes (kids can make these); and then dinner would be some sort of pasta, which would have some veggies or protein usually. Add in there my sweets and snacks of pretzels, crackers, or such and you have a very carb-heavy day of food.

This is why the simple tweaks of a veggie-heavy salad for lunch and a hearty, protein-packed breakfast make a huge difference in how my body feels. And it really is hugely different. On the days I get all seven of these things in, I feel amazing. Like conquer the world amazing. I can definitely use more days like that, how about you?

Last week, after #7 being the only simple step that I had maintained consistently for a month, I realized that my mid-section was significantly less fluffy. My husband noticed it the next day. I haven’t stepped on the scale to see if those numbers have moved and my clothes don’t fit a ton better, but there is a definite improvement in my waist comfort of my pants. It’s enough to keep me headed in this direction.

One of the other results that I have noticed when I implement these simple steps to a healthier life is that I actually don’t crave sugar as much, and there is simply less time for me to eat it so I am naturally eating less sugar. I’ll take it!

If you are looking to make some improvements to improve your overall health and energy, be encouraged that small changes really can make a big difference. While I look forward to a day when all seven of these simple steps feel easy and natural, I am thrilled that even one makes me feel so much better. Give it a shot.

If you are the type who needs more direction, try them in this order – 7, 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6. Keep #3 in mind the whole time and knock them off one at a time. You really can do this, trust me. If I can, you can. Tell me in the comments or shoot me an email and let me know that you started and I will pray for you and root you on!

Simple (I Promise!) Steps to a Healthier Life - Vicki-Arnold.com

Challenge Yourself…Intentionally

Challenge Yourself...Intentionally - How to use challenges to better your life this year and every year.

“New year, new me!”

Did you see this in your Facebook newsfeed a few weeks ago? How about the posts of varying levels of making fun of such posts? I had both in my feed. It’s kind of amazing to me how pessimistic so many people have become about things like resolutions and goals.

I’ll say it again, I’m a fan of goals and resolutions, or whatever you want to call them. I believe them to fall in the same vein as Proverbs 29:18a – “Where there is no vision, the people perish“. Goals give us a vision of what the future can look like.

Does that mean our future WILL look like our vision? Not always. Sometimes we start out with certain goals for specific reasons and along the way we realize that God had different reasons. And sometimes that reason is for us to fail.

Yes, I believe that God wants us to fail sometimes. Is that scandalous? It totally flies in the face of any prosperity or candy-coated gospel, for sure. Life as a Christian isn’t all sunshine and roses. If it was, why would we need faith in God? Why would we still need a savior?

Yep, I believe God wants us to fail sometimes because it reminds us of three things:

  1. We can’t do this alone.
  2. His grace is sufficient for our shortcomings.
  3. He is always working in us for a greater good.

Actually there are more reasons, but suffice it to say that we learn a great deal from our failings and God is more concerned with growing us in our faith than He is with our earthly circumstances.

This is why I don’t mind setting new goals, even if I didn’t meet a previous goal. I want to always be learning and growing.

Enough backstory, now I want to challenge you.

One of the best ways to jumpstart change in your life is by taking up a challenge. What kind of challenge? Well, that depends on what problem you want solved and your end-goal. Let’s break it down a bit by common areas people look to make change in their life.

Faith

Does your faith feel stagnant? Don’t be satisfied with that! Listen for that still small voice in your heart and see where God wants to grow you. Consider challenging yourself in these areas:

Prayer

Reading the Bible

  • Pick a topical study of the Bible and do it daily.
  • Read through the Bible or a portion of the Bible in a set timeframe.
  • Commit to reading the Bible daily for a week or month (baby-step it, whatever you need to do to create a better habit with this).
  • Choose a book of the Bible and read it every day for a week.

Service

Daily Life

If you want to see improvement in some area of your life, challenge yourself to start today. Are you miserable in your job? Map out a plan to change jobs or even career fields. Set a time frame and get going! A few other ideas:

  • Reduce your spending. Challenge yourself to not spend any money for a whole month (outside of necessities that you decide upon BEFORE starting).
  • Save more money. Do you have a daily purchase like coffee or lunch out? Or maybe a bigger weekly/monthly purchase like dinners out? Commit to skipping that for a month (or 2-3 if it is a bigger/more sporadic expense) and saving the money in a special account.
  • De-Clutter. Are you overwhelmed by the amount of STUFF in your life? Try out a de-cluttering challenge, there are a LOT of options out there. A few to consider – 10 Minutes a Day, 31 days to clutter free, or do a mini challenge.
  • Better food choices. Give up sugar for a month. Drop your daily coffee or soda. Try meatless Monday for a month. Add a green smoothie to your day for a week. Pick your weakest area and challenge yourself to make better choices (spell it out better than that though).
  • Move more. Sit at a desk job? Commit to standing while talking on the phone for two weeks. Or use your break time to take a quick walk outside all week. Work at home or are a stay at home parent in a rut? Set a timer each hour for 10 minutes and climb steps, stretch, bounce on a rebounder, or go outside and pull some weeds in the garden.
  • Keeping a clean home. Try leaving your sink empty each night for a week. Or challenge yourself to clean something everyday that you won’t have to touch again for at least 2 weeks.

Health

  • Weight loss. If you are struggling with weight loss, commit to no sugar for a time of at least 21 days. This will help reset your cravings and likely jumpstart your loss.
  • Drink more water. Try setting a goal of 6-8 glasses of water each day for a week or more and then see how you feel at the end.
  • Exercise. If exercise is a 4-letter word to you, but you want to lose weight, tone up, or boost your energy…you’re going to need to add exercise to your list. Challenge yourself to try a new form of exercise every day (or 3-5x’s per week) for a couple weeks. By trying new things, you may find a form of exercise that you just love to do!
  • Kick bad habits. Pick one and hyper-focus your efforts to kick it to the curb. Replace bad habits with good ones. It takes 21 days to create a new habit, so be patient with yourself.

Intentional Living

The whole point of these challenges is to try something new. Make different choices to see different results. It really isn’t about the goal, it is about the day-to-day decisions that lead you there. Be intentional to challenge yourself this year and see where God takes you!

Super Simple Meal Planning Method

Super simple meal planning method. Get more vegetables in your day.

Meal planning is one of those classic tips for those looking to be more intentional with either their food choices and/or budget. Taking the time to plan out your meals ahead of time wards off things like last minute drive-thru stops and takeout orders. Both are hard on the wallet and can be hard on the waistline, too.

I have used a variety of meal planning methods over the years. I’ve planned out every meal and snack, created lists of options to pick from each day, planned out two week’s worth of meals, and worked week by week. I haven’t tried the monthly meal planning method as of yet, but I know some swear by it. I can see how it works, but I’m not ready to commit to that right now.

I recently switched to a super simple meal planning method designed to put more of a focus on vegetables. I’ve mulled this format over in my head for a while now, but couldn’t quite make it work until recently. We decided to take some time off from eating meat so that we can be more intentional about getting more veggies in our diet.

This can very easily work with eating meat, too. In fact, I will probably continue with this method for a while. It really is simple.

I do this with a pencil and a piece of paper, but I typed it up so I could give you a clearer look at my plan. (After seeing it all typed up, I will likely do this moving forward.)

Super simple meal planning method to get more veggies in your day.

Simple Meal Planning Method

This is basically fill in the blank. I fill it in with what we have on hand and what I’m picking up from grocery shopping.

Here’s more detail:

  • Breakfast – We are moving away from cereals because they are loaded with sugar and are not very filling. We rotate between oatmeal with different fixings and eggs. For the eggs, I will either sautee the veggies and pour scrambled eggs over it or serve them alongside fried eggs.
  • Lunch – I’ve organized the veggies by how I cook them. Then for lunch, I simply pick two plus a grain/carb or do three different vegetables. My kids also love to do a veggie tray with ranch dip or hummus, we often have more than three vegetable options on that.
  • Dinner – This is where I’ve struggled to find what works best. I will be focusing on more protein, less/no carb meals. I’ve kept this simple specifically to motivate me to use more veggies than anything. I use the list from the lunch section to pick my veggies.
  • Snacks – Again, trying to focus on higher protein items. I also use my breakfast shake when I’m needing something sweet because I struggle with that.

Why This Simple Method Works For Me

I have found that I can always find a way to get carbs in my diet. What I struggle to get in are lots of vegetables and protein. I am finding that being intentional about these by writing them out helps me make better choices. I’m hoping this has a positive impact on my weight, too.

I find this method to be the perfect blend of needing to plan ahead and needing the freedom of choosing what to eat. I have never stuck with a “eat this at this time” regimen for more than a day or two. I find it to be suffocating and I tend to rebel when we have those. In other words, it has the opposite of a positive effect on me.

There are no recipes. I love to cook with recipes, collect them on Pinterest, and use my cookbook collection. But I have found that when my focus is on using recipes, I don’t actually cook as much because it ALWAYS takes me 2x’s the time listed on the recipe, but I never plan for that.

Going forward, I will probably have some recipe based items added because I don’t want to get bored with the options and my husband enjoys variety. For now, no recipes is working for me.

This simple meal planning method works for me. If you are struggling with getting enough vegetables in your diet or need to shake up your meal planning efforts, give this a try and see what you think!

If you need some other meal planning ideas, check out my Pinterest board just for that!

Follow Vicki Arnold’s board Food :: Menu Planning on Pinterest.
If you would prefer recipes to follow, you can check out these cookbooks for some plant-based meal ideas to get more veggies in your day:

Happy Eating!

3 Ways You Can Support Shop Small

3 Ways You Can Support Shop Small (and Why)

Shop Small Saturday is the Saturday after Thanksgiving, but you don’t have to wait for an official day to support small business owners. You can shop small all year long.

Why Shop Small?

Small businesses employ local people, they tend to be very involved in their communities, and they give towns a unique flavor. They are good for the local economy, too. Just think about it, have you ever traveled to see a town because of its Wal-Mart or Bed, Bath, and Beyond? Not likely, small businesses create a draw because they are different.

Your shopping small ensures that they can stay in business.

I am not saying big business is bad. Big business has its place. I simply would hate to see big business completely demolish small business.

Go Local

Take a look around next time you are in your town or city and see if you can find a “mom and pop” store. In our town, you can shop at an independent book store, art store, and a fabric store. Look for small cafes and non-chain restaurants for your lunches or date nights.

Smaller businesses can be priced a little higher than bigger business because they don’t have the buying power that brings volume discounts. You can offset this some by signing up for the newsletters, emails, or mailings so you will be aware of special promotions and possible coupons from the store.

Go International

This is the opposite of shopping local, but not the opposite of shopping small. When I say international, I don’t mean buying lots of “made in china” stuff. There are a growing number of organizations and ministries that are committed to making a difference in the world.

These organizations work with impoverished, marginalized people to provide them with training for various life skills and crafts. Then they sell those items, with the majority of the profits going directly to the artisan. Your purchases have a direct impact on the lives of some of the neediest people in the world.

Go Independent

You can shop online and support small business. The most popular site for this is Etsy, but don’t stop there. A lot of small businesses sell on their own websites now.

Another option is independent consultants for direct sales businesses. Yes, I know. A lot of people are skeptical of the multi-level marketing set up. I get that, but I also see tremendous potential for supporting entrepreneurs. There are a lot of direct sales businesses, ask on Facebook and I’m sure you will have no shortage of options. If you are looking for hair pretties, I am a Lilla Rose consultant. 😉

Shopping small doesn’t have to, and shouldn’t, be relegated to one day in November. You can support small businesses year round by being a little more intentional with your spending this year.

Living the Intentional Life

Living the Intentional Life

Life goes by so fast. These kids keep just growing up. Birthdays just keep coming. And it is GOOD. It’s just so easy to get wrapped up in the details and miss the big picture. Or is it just me?

Every year I choose one word to set the tone for my year. I have varying levels of success with this, but I continue on because I find it helpful.

Previous Years:

The year 2015 is another big year for me in some ways. The most bittersweet happening is that my oldest child will enter her teen years. I have been hit in the face with the realization that she will be entering the adult phase of her life in 5 years! Five years seemed so far away when she was born, but now that I’ve been a parent for awhile, I realize just how short those years will feel.

The big milestones are just going to keep coming. I don’t want to miss them! So this year’s word is Intentional because I need practice with this. I’m not a very intentional person. I tend to float through daily life.

Don’t get me wrong, I love goal setting and working towards meeting those goals. I’m just really bad about thinking ahead or outside of the box of right now. It’s probably why I’m so drawn to the idea of goal setting. Or something.

Living the Intentional Life

Since choosing a word alone doesn’t change anything, I have chosen some areas I want to focus on being intentional with and will spend time this year working on these.

  • Building my foundation. Over the last year, I came to realize that I do have a routine…and it’s not exactly efficient. The very first thing I want to be intentional about is building my foundation, putting first things first. I’ve not been very good at this traditionally because the things I want to do are not necessarily what is actually best for me. As cliche as it is, this means focusing on my health – spiritually and physically.
  • Stepping up my game. I have some big goals for 2015. I want to travel more. I want to have a successful garden again. I want to grow my blogging towards my goal of a full-time income. This will require consistent efforts in some areas that I have been kind of spotty with up to this point.
  • Focus on relationships. I am an introvert that lives a lot in my head. This doesn’t exactly build relationships. Add in that I get overwhelmed with lots of people interactions and I end up resembling more of a hermit than a person. I want to stretch my box and be intentional about building the relationships that matter in my life, with particular emphasis on my husband and children.
  • Identifying and utilizing my strengths. I have them, I know I do. At least, I think I do. I’ve not really given much thought to my strengths. Now, my weaknesses, those I am intimately familiar with…

Documenting the Intentional Life

If you have been around long enough to remember that I once entertained the idea of being a photographer, this will make you laugh. I am terrible at taking pictures! I am even more terrible at printing those pictures I DO take. This year I decided, NO MORE EXCUSES!

I now have an iPhone, iPad, a point and shoot camera, AND a DSLR that all take good to great pictures. Seriously.

Since I want to be intentional about taking photos of daily life, I decided that Instagram is the perfect tool for this. When my friend Dollie announced that she was looking for bloggers to partner with her for an Instagram challenge in 2015, it seemed like God was lighting up a big neon sign for me.

Capturing Life, Laughter, and Love is a subscriber Instagram challenge that provides a daily prompt (via a monthly graphic) to inspire your Instagram photo taking. I would love to have you join us! You can read more about it on the Capturing Life, Laughter, and Love page.

Or you can sign up below.