Category: INSPIRATION

To The Person Struggling with Depression

struggling with depression

To the person struggling with depression,

Let me first say it loud and proud, “YOU ARE NOT ALONE.” No matter what you think, you are not alone. There are other people who struggle just like you and there are people to support you. Please, if you take nothing else away from my letter take this: YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

I know it feels lonely. Trust me, I know. The hardest thing you may have to do is to admit that you are struggling and ask for help. Depending on the depths of your depression, you may just need to communicate to a close friend or significant other that you need help and extra understanding. If it is just a minor holiday/winter blah funk, that is sufficient. If your depression is more than that, you should seek the additional support of a professional counselor.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Strong people ask for help. You may feel weak right now, but you are not. The strongest people I know are the ones who admit they need help and ask for it. It took me a long time to realize this and accept it as fact in my own life.

Don’t try to make sense out of your feelings, there may be none. Perhaps you have a great life with a wonderful family and no major worries to speak of. It doesn’t matter – you can still be depressed. It’s a funny thing depression. It’s not just an ailment for people who are struggling with finances, health crises or death of loved ones, though that is what many non-sufferers think. I don’t care how amazing your life is, you can still be depressed. Stop trying to convince yourself you shouldn’t be depressed because of how blessed and fortunate you are.  It will just make you beat yourself up more.

I have learned a few things about depression from my own experiences. Maybe they will help you, maybe they won’t. It never hurts to get ideas though. Please note that if you are suffering from depression beyond the normal “funk” you MUST see a professional. I won’t lie, that first phone call will not be easy, but you are STRONG. Asking for help is being strong, not weak! You are important and people need you to feel better.

One observation I have made is that there is a very important role in our lives that a “funk” fills. You cannot live life without some ups and downs. While I don’t love the feeling of being down and depressed, I do love the perspective it provides me afterwards.

I have found that after having a down, I appreciate the ups even more. It is typically after a bought of depression that I appreciate the happy feelings, the everyday joys of life and the simple things even more. I’m not sure that I would appreciate the beauty around me and the simple laugh of my daughters as much if I hadn’t struggled to find joy. Yes, I would appreciate them, but there is something to be said for the richness of those things after depression.

Also depression has allowed me to open up more to those around me about my truest feelings and insecurities. I don’t often admit openly that I don’t have it all together, but when depression hits I must. I have to ask for help, which is not (understatement of the year) easy for me. You must ask for help too. Trust me it does get easier.  I’m starting to get better at asking for help even in times when I’m not depressed.

I know there are people and circumstances where you still pretend to have it all together even when you don’t. I get it, we all do that and it’s okay. Not everyone needs to know that you’re having a rough time, but those closest to you do.

If you have kids or a pet, someone that relies on you, they can be the best helper for fighting depression.  Guess what, they don’t care if you are depressed. In my case I still have to be a mom. I still have to get up and get them ready for school. I still have to make food and buy groceries and read them stories at night. These might be the absolute last things I want to do, but I don’t have a choice. I really want to curl up in my pajamas and sit in a chair and wallow, but I can’t.

A great suggestion from my counselor was to do the opposite of what I want to do. She said if your body is telling you to sit and do nothing, you need to get up and go on a walk. It will make you feel better. If your body is telling you not to eat, you need to make yourself eat a nutritious meal. If your body is telling you to binge on cookies, you should eat a healthy snack instead. Continuing to do this will help to fight the depressing thoughts and feelings.

The things you want to do least during depression are the things you need to do most. Eat nutritious meals, exercise, and get enough, but not too much, sleep. You also need to make sure you are getting enough Vitamin D- this probably means a supplement during the winter months. If you can get out for a walk during the sunniest part of the day, that will help.

I know right now in the midst of this depression it feels like it will never get better, but it will. I promise there will be a day that you smile again without pretending. You will laugh again and appreciate the simple beauty all around you. In the meantime take care of yourself and be forgiving. Remember it’s okay to say “NO” and take things off your to-do list.

Remember you are NOT alone and you are strong.

 

Sincerely,

Someone who has been there and cares about you

 

How to Set SMART Goals

For the New Year I have a BIG goal:

I want to be more productive with my blog. 

Now that I do the majority of my work from home, my home office has become an integral part to my day. As a person who thrives on order and organization it is no surprise that a cluttered work space leads to a cluttered mind and decreased productivity.

I know exactly what I NEED to do to increase productivity. It’s just a matter of finding the time to do it. That is where this big goal comes into play. If I set my goal and make sure it is SMART, then I am far more likely to accomplish this goal.

SMART goals title

So my SMART goal is:

Specific: To organize my office and eliminate clutter.

Measurable: Surfaces (tabletops, desktop, floor) will be free of random papers, supplies and stuff. Systems will be set up to simplify where things go and where to find things. The desks, book shelves and file cabinets will be decluttered by January 19. I will have Brian’s game area and closet decluttered by January 28. I will decide on organizational flow by February 9. Finally, everything put away and systems in place by February 16. I will spend 15-30 minutes 5x a week working on the office decluttering and organization.

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Megan’s Top Books of 2017

Who loves to read books?

Whose idea of the perfect night is a warm blanket curled up in a comfy chair with a good book?

Me.

Give me a book and some quiet time any day.

top reads of 2017

I have loved to read books ever since I learned how to read – 32 years ago.

Wow, I’ve been reading books for 32 years. I think that is something I am an expert at!

I remember begging my parents to let me stay up just a little bit longer to read a book. Then I’d hide under the covers with a flashlight to finish. Of course, now I know that my parents were onto me and could see the flashlight lighting up a book, but they pretended not to see.

I am forever grateful for the love of reading that my parents have instilled in me from an early age.

My parents read to me, and I saw my parents read. It was normal to see my mom lost in a good book.

This past year for the first time I set a reading challenge. Goodreads has a spot where you can set what your reading goal is for the year and then it tracks the total number as you mark them read.

I decided to set my goal at 52 books, one for each week. In February when I set the goal I didn’t know if it was realistic, but I figured I would try.  I reached my goal in October.

Did this mean I stopped reading?

Of course not, because I LOVE to read.

By the end of 2017 I had read 64 books.

I read all sorts of genres in all sorts of formats. However, I tend to read more mystery and literary fiction than any other genre though. I read on my Kindle app (not my favorite way to consume books), I listened to books while I drove and worked out, and I read actual books with a spine (still my favorite way to read).

Random fact: Did you know that reading and listening to a book activates the same part of your brain? To your brain there isn’t a difference.

Of the 64 books that I read this year, I only paid for two of them, and both were books that I knew I wanted on hand for reference later on. Two of the books I read, were gifted to Cassidy or me and all the rest were borrowed from the library.

As my sister says,

“did you know there is this place you can go and get a book, read it and then return it without spending any money?”

Why yes, yes I did.

I LOVE the library because I can get almost any book I want for free and it doesn’t clutter up my house. Sometimes I have to wait awhile for a popular or newly released book, but again did I mention the key word – FREE.  

Free and no clutter, my two favorite things.

I saved at least $600 by using the library instead of buying books.

There are times, very rarely, that I want to own a book. If that is the case, I will put it on my birthday or Christmas list or buy it for myself.

I want to pass along the top books I read in 2017. This does not mean they were published in 2017; it just means I read them this past year

Megan’s Top Books of 2017

Beartown by Fredrik Backman and You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

Fiction

I wanted to have a top 10, but someone came up with 10 ½ . This is where the 1/2 book comes in. It’s actually two books, but honestly, they are so similar I couldn’t justify separating them. Both involve towns rallying around a sport and its elite young players. In Beartown, it is ice hockey and in You Will Know Me it is gymnastics. In both books, there is an event that threatens to destroy the image of the athletes and will forever change the town and community.

I do not recommend one over the other, but advise that you don’t read them back to back. I read them several months apart and could appreciate them both without comparing too much. Both books are quick reads. I will caution you that there is a point in each book that you will have a hard time putting the books down.

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

Nonfiction

This particular book I listened to the audio version of which I recommend. McKeown is informative and inspiring in his book about essentialism. He motivated me to focus on what’s important and forget the “fluff” stuff. It’s a great listen/read for anyone interested in simplifying their life whether it be work or home.

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

Fiction

This is a book that I could not stop talking about once I read it. When a book makes my list it is usually because I simply enjoyed the book a lot, it made me think or inspired me somehow. That is still true of this book, but I also am amazed at how well written the story is. Clare wove a story that made me cry and sit in shock. In fact, at one crucial point in the book I stopped and started rereading earlier portions of the book to see what I missed. Caution, if you hit this crucial point in the book late at night, it will interfere with your sleep. I speak from experience.

The premise of the story is about a mom who is walking home from school with her son, and her son gets hits by a car. The story will make you cry all the while keeping you completely enthralled. Be prepared not to put this book down once you hit the midpoint.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Fiction


While this is not a young adult book it could easily have been categorized that way as well. The majority of the characters are in high school, and it involves their interactions. The book opens with a family sitting outside their house that is burning to the ground. There are definite plot twists that make you wonder what is real and how the author will bring it back around to where it began.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Fiction


Evelyn Hugo was an on-screen star who happened to have been married seven times. This fictional story walks you through her life with the aid of a young journalist who has been asked to tell her story. The question all of America wants to know: which husband was Evelyn’s one true love. The answer will shock you. Reid shares a love story like no other, while also delving into the many aspects of marriage and why and how some marriages work and others don’t.

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Fiction

I have to first start by saying that I am NOT Jodi Picoult’s biggest fan. I have read many of her books, but I find that they can be exhausting. Often the main mom character is painted in a bad light and many of her books have no redeeming characters in them. As a reader, I struggle with books where I can’t find at least one character I can either relate to or like.

This is not the case with Small Great Things. I resisted reading this book for a long time because I wasn’t sold on Jodi Picoult, but after having it recommended over and over again, I decided it was time to give it a try. I listened to the book this past summer, and it took some time to finish. It is a heavy book on a heavy topic. I will admit it took me longer to finish the book because I had to take a break. The topic – race relations – was hitting too close to home and the book was making me angrier. I knew that due to what was happening in the news with our President’s response to race issues in North Carolina, I needed something lighter to read. It was one way I controlled my exposure to media (Link). Once I knew I could handle the topic again, I finished the book, and I am so glad I did.

Please be aware it may anger you, and you may need to read it slowly to control your anger. Honestly, though a sign of a good book is one that can make you feel strong feelings – one way or another.

Talking as Fast as I can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls by Lauren Graham

Nonfiction


This is light, fun, easy read. I chose to listen to this book because the audio is read by Lauren Graham herself. I thoroughly enjoyed having Lauren talk to me through my earbuds. It felt like we were friends just hanging out. If you were/are a Gilmore Girls fan, this is an absolute must-read. Though honestly, I recommend listening rather than reading this one.

If you are in need of something fun and simple, this is a perfect choice. You don’t have to be a Gilmore Girls Fan, but I’m not sure you’d appreciate it as much if you aren’t.

This is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel

Fiction

This book just made me think A Lot. Whether you agree with the parent’s approach to handling their young son’s desire to dress like a girl or not, it makes you take pause. Frankel takes us through how a family keeps a very big secret and the extent parents will go to protect and support their child.

If you are looking for a book that will generate a lot of discussion at your next book club, this book will do it. Caution it is a controversial topic and may lead to heated discussions.

When I’m Gone by Emily Bleeker

Fiction


I enjoyed the premise of this book – a widow receives letters from his deceased wife after she has died. The story takes us through his grief as he tries to hold it together to raise their children alone. There is also a mystery to the book. The ultimate questions are who are these letters from and how are they being delivered to his house?

It’s a good tear jerker. If you are a wife and mom, there is no way you can read this book without crying – multiple times. Who doesn’t like a good, cleansing cry once and a while? As a sentimental person, I appreciated the letters that the wife sends. Different, but in the same vein as my birthday letters of love to my daughters.

If you have recently lost someone close to you, this would not be the best book to read right now. It will hit too close to home.

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Fiction

It’s hard to believe this book was published in 2012. I guess it just got a lot of hype this year because the movie was released. I had it recommended to me in the summer. Cassidy and I started reading it this fall together. It was a great book for us to read together. However, you don’t have to have kids to read or like this book. It is a quick read, and it will make you think. Choose kindness!

Wonder provides so many great talking points with children and adults, which is probably why so many teachers read it aloud to their classes. I cannot say enough good things about this book. While the movie was great, I still recommend reading the book first. Random fact, did you know that it was made into a movie because Julia Roberts read the book with her children and called her agent to say it needed to be made into a movie and she wanted to play the mom?

Once you have read Wonder, be sure to check out the companion book, Auggie and Me. It is not a sequel; rather it chronicles a different perspective on the story from three different characters viewpoints: Julian the bully, Christopher, Auggie’s oldest friend and Charlotte, Auggie’s new classmate.

 

Looking for a quick read or an escape from your everyday life?

Check out Anne Bogel’s, “Unputdownable: 17 books I read in 24 hours or less (because they were that good).”  I read several on that list, and Anne wasn’t wrong, I couldn’t put them down.

As this year comes to a close be sure to join Goodreads and set up your reading challenge for next year. I plan to set my goal at 75 books. In addition to reading more books, I plan to read books from different genres and to write honest, detailed reviews of each book after I read them. If I had done that, it would have made this list much easier, and it would have been much easier to explain why I liked a book to a friend when they were looking for a recommendation.

 

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you choose to make a purchase. Thank you for your support in this way!

Five Great Game Recommendations for Kids

My family loves to play games: party games, board games, strategy games, and cards games. We love them all. Who better to give you game recommendations for kids than a family of gamers.

Yes, we are a gamer family.

At our house, we have family game night often. It’s not a set day of the week, but it happens often depending on Brian’s work schedule. Brian and I have both always loved games, and many of our “dates” in college revolved around playing board and card games.

Game recommendations for kids

It was natural that games would continue to be important in our family and whether our daughters like it or not they’ve become gamers too. So far, Cassidy has not resisted our love of game playing and only time will tell with Amelia.

Our love of games, also means that we own A LOT of games.

A wall full of game recommendations for kids

In fact one year, I put a moratorium on any news games in our house for Christmas.

Guess what happened that year. . .

There was a box under the tree

Darn that Santa, he never listens to anything I say.

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Creative Christmas Card Ideas

Have you ever gotten one of those Christmas cards that makes your jaw drop?

Not because of what is written in it, but how it is written.

I have.

Some people just have a gift for creativity and writing.

creative Christmas card ideas

Honestly, to me it doesn’t even matter if you’re not a great writer, I still love getting your Christmas card. I love to hear how families are doing and see the kids growing.

There are many ways to approach writing your Christmas letter if you choose to do so, which you must have chosen, otherwise, why are you reading this?

You can write a simple letter about what each member of your family has been up to. It’s informative, but not necessarily the most creative. We sent this type of letter for several years.

Of course, if you are like me, you try to write the letter, so it is informative, but not bragging.

This can be a difficult thing to achieve because typically we want to share the highlights of our year. No one wants to read my letter if it’s depressing and talks about how horrible our year was.

There is a way to find that balance, if you’re willing to be a little more creative than the generic “what we’ve been up to letter.”

Creative Christmas Cards we’ve done:

Top Ten

We highlighted the top ten events from the year in 2013.

Christmas Letter 2013

A year recap in numbers

We used a template from Shutterfly and recapped 2014 using mostly numbers and short memories. This year’s card also included a QR code that when activated had the whole family wishing everyone a Merry Christmas.

Christmas card 2014

From the perspective of our youngest

In 2015 Amelia was 1 ½, and I wrote the Christmas letter from her perspective with a little spin. She was telling our friends and family the “True Story of the Gerkens” not the version her parents were sharing with everyone.

Christmas letter 2015

Twitter style

I wrote our Christmas letter in multiple 140 character tweets including hashtags. We thought fully embracing modern technology in 2016 would be fun.

christmas card 2016

Other Creative Card Ideas we have not yet tried:

  • Write the letter from your pet’s perspective
  • Make the letter a quiz where the reader has to guess the family member who did each thing
  • Make the letter into a game (think life board game)
  • Top ten list of places you visited or things you’ve done
  • Use song lyrics or a famous book/story and change it around to your family’s story for the year
  • Make your letter the front page of a newspaper with important headlines
  • Write a poem
  • Use an acronym
  • Announce the year’s awards to different family members- make them funny, not pretentious
  • Write the letter with your child (think Mad libs)
  • Do a famous quotes letter. If you keep track of quotable things that your family says throughout the year use those.
  • Write it as a letter to Santa
  • Write the letter as if you are canceling Christmas and why
  • Make a crossword puzzle
  • Police mugshots with what the family member did to get into trouble, of course, they will be funny.
  • Write it as if each family member is a superhero and what their superpower is, who their enemy is, etc.
Christmas card
2016 Christmas Card

Ultimately, it does not matter how you write or design your letter as long as you enjoy doing it. It’s a great opportunity to share your creative side and share what your family has been up to for the last year as well.

 

Please share in the comments below what other creative Christmas card ideas you have.

Christmas Cards: Do You Send Them or Not?

Christmas cards and letters.

Do you send them?

Do you like to receive them?

Do you enjoy them or feel they are obligatory?

Christmas cards

Personally, I fall into the “LOVE” category.

I love sending them, and I love receiving them even more.

The picture cards with a letter are the best.

I don’t even care if your letter is braggadocious (it’s a word. It means bragging too much). I will still enjoy reading it.

Just know that I’m onto you and your life is not as perfect as the Christmas letter indicates.

I choose to send a picture card and letter, but mainly because I assume everyone else loves them as much as I do. I just love to see everyone’s families and hear what they are up to. The more creative the letter, the more I enjoy it.

My cousin, Janelle, has done the most creative letters for years. I know her husband does not love sending the letters, and it’s an argument in their house every year (Dave let it be known that many of us LOVE them. I’m just glad I make it on the “A” list, so I get the picture and letter.)

Perhaps, it’s because I’m a scrapbooker so naturally I love pictures more than the average person. As a scrapbooker, no picture is complete without a few words and maybe a story or two.

How to display/store the Christmas cards and letters you receive:

  • Hang around a large entryway. This is how we display ours. That way we can see them often, and the girls love to see who sends us cards. They often stop and ask who each person and family is and how we know them. The new cards that come in the mail are not hung up until everyone has seen them.
  • Put them in a basket on a coffee table or next to a favorite chair. My in-laws put theirs in a basket that they can easily pull out to look through and add more to. When we visit they usually share the photo cards, and letters from families we know.
  • Hang from a decorative display that you make or buy on Etsy. There are so many ideas on Etsy and Pinterest that you will be overwhelmed with the options.
  • Hang on your refrigerator. What better place to see the pictures and cards often.
  • Hang on your kitchen cabinets. A little ribbon and some clothespins can make even your kitchen cabinets festive with all of those Christmas cards.entryway christmas cards

After Christmas is over what do you do with the cards?

Given my “Love” of Christmas cards and letters, I bet it’s no surprise that mine do not get thrown away. If you too love receiving photo cards and have a hard time getting rid of them at the end of the year, I have a solution.

If you scrapbook or simply put pictures in albums, then you can put your cards in there too. Every year you can look back and see who sent you a card and how their family has changed over the years. (idea courtesy of my cousin Janelle)

scrapbook with christmas cards

If you do not scrapbook or put photos in albums, then you could get a simple photo album just for putting the cards in and then display that on your coffee table every Christmas season.

If you don’t love sending Christmas cards or photo cards or writing letters, then don’t do it.

Remember to think about why you’re doing what you do. Do not feel pressured to send them just because other people do. Those people may just be like me and enjoy sending them.  It might just be one of the non-negotiables from their simplify the holiday list.

And it is okay if your Christmas card list changes every year – ours does.

People come in and out of our lives, and so our list of card recipients changes. With the advent of social media, it almost feels like our list of “friends” is endless, that doesn’t mean all of those people NEED to receive a card.

Sit back and enjoy the cards you receive and wish those who send them well, but don’t feel obligated to reciprocate.  Merry Christmas from our family to yours.

 

Do you display your Christmas Cards during the season? What do you do with them after the holidays? Please share in the comments.

 

How to Simplify the Holidays

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Did you sing that? You should have.  Singing it immediately puts me into the holiday spirit.

I know, I can hardly believe it is already the holidays, but it is.

Do you ever feel exhausted and overwhelmed during and after the holidays?

Do you resent making cookies?

Then don’t.

Do you hate spending time and money figuring out and sending Christmas cards?

Then don’t.

Make this the year you take back Christmas (reference to Bad Moms 2= hilarious)

Last time I checked, Christmas was about celebrating Christ’s birth (even though he wasn’t born in December but off topic)

Don’t let the “I should’s” take control this Christmas.

Who cares what you should do? And seriously who says you should?

simplify the holidays

I am giving you permission to say NO.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you can say no to everything because if you have kids, there are probably some things they want to do that you may not be interested in. There are times we have to sacrifice for our kids, but along with that, kids don’t need to get everything they want.

I’m betting as a kid you didn’t get to do everything you wanted either. Remember we’re raising kids who know disappointment and know how to deal with it.

You can simplify the holidays and it’s quite simple.

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9 Things that Simplified My Life This Year

In honor of Thanksgiving, I wanted to share 9 things I am thankful for this year.

I have chosen these 9 things specifically because of how they have helped to simplify my life this year.

Do you ever feel like life is more stressful than not?

Can you never seem to find time to sit and relax?

Is your mind constantly running with things that need to be done?

Maybe one of my 9 things can help you simplify your life and provide relaxation in 2018.

Without further ado here they are!

simplify your life

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My Fall Favorite Things

Autumn is in full force in the Midwest. The leaves are changing and falling. There is a crispness to the air, and our heat is already on. Fall is one of my favorite seasons because it is the most beautiful. Mother Nature shows off in the fall in the Midwest.

In honor of my favorite season, I wanted to share a few of my favorite things for this time of year.

And no it’s not going to be a list of pumpkin spice things, though there may be one pumpkin thing on the list.

Without further ado five of my favorite things are:

Cuddle Duds

How is it possible that I wasn’t introduced to the wonder of Cuddle Duds until December 2016? I’m fairly certain I would live in them if it were socially acceptable. They are not for my job, well at least the part of my job that isn’t work from home. Brian bought me a pair of Cuddle Duds for Christmas last year. I have never worn them under any other clothes on a cold day. I have turned them into my absolute favorite pajamas and lounge around the house. They are so comfortable and perfect for a good snuggle under a blanket on a chilly morning with a good book.


I will caution you that while Cuddle Duds are amazingly comfortable there is one downfall.

They are very forgiving.

Meaning if you have a little Thanksgiving dinner they won’t remind you to stop. If you are one of those people who monitor their weight/size by how their clothes fit, you cannot wear Cuddle Duds all the time. You may quickly realize that your jeans and button up dress pants no longer fit. However, in your world maybe that’s not a downfall. Put on your Cuddle Duds and head out for Thanksgiving. You can eat whatever you want and still feel comfortable in your pants.

These can be bought many places, but be sure to watch for sales on Black Friday. Then they will be on sale again as winter comes to an end.

 

Harney and Sons Hot Cinnamon Tea

I was introduced to this tea by one of the amazing women on “Sorta Awesome.” This is one of my all-time favorite Podcasts. I have been known to try many new things based on their recommendations. While I do not drink coffee, but in the fall and winter, I do enjoy a hot beverage. Sometimes it is hot chocolate, but that can have additional calories that I may not always want. I occasionally drink tea, but always the flavored ones.

When one of the Sorta Awesome ladies was raving about Harney and Sons hot cinnamon spice tea, I decided I should give it a shot. I ordered some online because I couldn’t find it at my local grocery store. It is delicious. If you like cinnamon – the taste and smell – you will love this. It was an experience for my taste buds and my nose. I don’t drink tea every day, so the large container lasted me an entire year.  Frugal hint: Use the same tea bag for multiple cups of tea, it is just as strong several cups later.

Pumpkin Fluff

I know, I know I’m fulfilling a stereotype here. I love fall because of something pumpkin flavored, but if you like pumpkin and haven’t tried this, you are missing out.  In fact, I never liked pumpkin (and I still don’t like pumpkin pie) until I tried this.

Pumpkin fluff is easy to make and involves three simple ingredients. You need to get one regular size container of cool whip, one box of instant vanilla pudding mix, and one 15 oz container of canned pumpkin.  It does not matter if you choose fat-free or sugar-free of the above ingredients. It works the same.  Let the cool whip thaw a little bit. Then dump these three ingredients into a bowl and mix. If you don’t want to eat it right away, refrigerate it. It will keep for several days.

Pumpkin fluff can be eaten alone with a spoon or serve it with graham crackers, vanilla wafers, pretzels, or ginger thins (a type of cookie found in the cookie aisle).  I prefer gluten-free pretzels (yes they are better than regular pretzels). (frugal note: you can find gluten free pretzels at a great price at Aldi

The pretzel with the pumpkin fluff is the perfect mix of sweet and salty.

 

Neti Pot

How is it possible I have not ever mentioned the Neti Pot to my readers? I am a HUGE supporter of Neti Pot and nasal irrigation, yes that’s right I said nasal irrigation – it’s a thing.

As a survivor of chronic sinus infections, I cannot rave about the glories of a Neti Pot enough.

I used to get several very bad sinus infections a year. They knocked me down for days and days – one time even five weeks. Brian introduced me to the Neti Pot couple of years ago, and I was skeptical. To watch someone use their Neti Pot is the most disgusting thing. It took a while for him to convince me that it was a good idea and worth the gross factor.

Once I got over the weird feeling, I appreciated the freedom to breathe it gave me. Yes, it allowed me to breathe through both nostrils (most times, if even for a few seconds), it got rid of a lot of built up junk in my sinuses and relieved some of the sinus pressure.

Every time I start to get congestion I start using my Neti Pot once a day. It has not eliminated sinus infections from my life, but it has greatly reduced the occurrence of them. A Neti Pot was the first recommendation my Ear, Nose, Throat doctor gave me when I first went to him, but at that time I was already using one.  So, yes it is doctor approved and in fact recommended.

When using a Neti Pot be sure to have your own- no sharing Neti Pots with family members. Ours are labeled with our names. You must use distilled water in them and make sure to dry them completely before putting away. You can purchase the sinus rinse packets or make your own.

If you ever suffer from nasal congestion or sinus infections, you owe it to yourself to try this out. I’m not going to lie, it is weird at first, but you will get over that when you see the benefits.

 

Scenery

I LOVE the scenery in the fall. It is the most beautiful season, in my opinion. I enjoy summer for all of the activities and the warm weather, but summer has nothing on the beauty of fall. There are so many opportunities for great pictures. Proof of God’s existence is in the beauty of fall.

 

 

 

Take a moment and enjoy fall. What are you favorite things about fall? Comment below, because I’d love to add things to my favorite season.

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My Little Daughter with a Big Personality

The choice was before me.

Let my child be herself or stifle her personality.

What do I do?

This is a choice that is before me more often than not. God gave me two unique children with a LOT of personalities.

Amelia relaxing

But I asked for it. In fact, I prayed for it.

When we were pregnant with Cassidy, I prayed that we would have a child with personality. Sure I prayed for her health too, but I wanted a kid with personality.

Have you ever met a boring kid?

Be honest, you have.

Well, I have met many of them over the years working in day cares and schools. I knew I wanted a kid with personality and boy did God listen.

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