Category: Mom

Book Review: Living Well Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life

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I recently had the awesome opportunity to be part of a book launch for one of my favorite bloggers. Ruth Soukup from is an inspirational blogger who is also a talented writer. After reading her book Living Well Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life, I was sure we could be best friends in real life. I loved the book so much that even though I received a free pre-published copy of the book, I still ordered it in paperback form. I feel like a loser because I wanted to write about the book on my blog before it actually came out at the end of December but I was so caught up in figuring out what in the heck I was doing with this blog that I just didn’t get to it. Now that I feel a little more comfortable with this whole blogging thing, I’m ready to introduce to you this incredible book!

I’ve admitted before that I’m a self-improvement junkie. I love to read and listen to audiobooks and programs. I was so psyched to be part of launching this book because I am so passionate about its contents. Ruth has a knack for hitting home with her powerful examples and use of words. While reading her section about a typical shopping experience at Target, I was literally laughing out loud and thinking how pathetic it is that I am EXACTLY the same way. I go in there for one thing and end up filling my trunk with stuff I felt like I NEEDED and then have to think of a way to justify it all the way home. It’s sad but now I know I’m not the only one who does this.

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This book talks about 12 different secrets to help you make the most of your life. It offers lots of bible references that help drive the point home of how God has indicated we should live in order to be happy. One of the major points Ruth makes is that STUFF does not bring happiness. Although we hear that all the time and we may even profess that we believe it, don’t we all still suffer from the “I want” syndrome sometimes? It’s a good thing I live in a super rural community where the shopping literally consists of one, completely understocked Walmart. However, this book has inspired me to really focus on other things and being grateful for what I have. Ruth teaches that contentment is a choice. Sometimes I get in a rut thinking, “I’ll finally be happy when ________.” Is that ever really true? Whatever I’m waiting for might make me feel happy…for a while…until I realize there’s something else I need to wait for now in order to be happy. I don’t want to live my life like that. I want to be happy now and continue being happy in the future. That requires a conscious choice.

This book also inspired me to follow my dreams and realize that it’s ok to want to do something with my life in addition to being a mother. While my kids are literally my life, I want to teach them to follow their dreams and work hard for something great. Can I really do that if I am spending all my energy only on them 24 hours a day? Kids need to know that mommy is an actual person, with feelings, needs, and dreams just like them. While I would never sacrifice my kids for professional success, I want to be an example for them to do something creative and exciting in their lives. So I’m starting with this blog. I’ve always loved to write and since I graduated high school the only writing I’ve done is for academic papers or in my journal. It’s time I put that passion for writing to use.

I look forward to re-reading this book and for Ruth’s future books. She feels like a kindred spirit to me. Sometimes I try to tell myself that I don’t need friends now that I have my own family. The simple truth is that women need women, period. Reading Ruth’s book was almost like sitting across the table from her and having a friendly conversation.


If you decide to read her book, which you can find wherever books are sold, you will also have the opportunity to participate in her Secret 13 Essay Contest. The grand prize is an all-expense paid, week long Carnival Cruise for up to four people, including airfare. I totally entered. That post will be up on Wednesday 🙂 Let me know what you think of the book and if you have a blog, you should be part of the blog tour. Also, for a chance to win one of five $100 Gift Cards follow Ruth’s super easy challenge by snapping a picture of her book in or in front of any Target. Click here for more information on that challenge. Happy Reading!

7 Tips to Being a Great Gift-Giver


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I’m not gonna lie, I’ve received some weird gifts in my life and wondered, “What were they thinking?” Avoid being that person who gifts the weirdest things that really have no meaning and instead be the other type of person that always gives the most thoughtful gifts.

1. Put some thought into it

This means you need to start ahead of time. Don’t be that person that runs to the nearest Wal-Mart on Christmas Eve, praying there’s something left to give everyone on your list. Start waaaayyyyy ahead of time and force yourself to pay attention. People, even the ones who appear to have everything, are constantly leaving unconscious hints about what they would love to receive as a gift. They may not come out and say, “For Christmas I would like _________” but they are saying it, just in a different way. Listen for cues like, “I wish _________” or “wouldn’t it be nice _________” or “someday _________”. These are great hints for people who are hard to buy for.

box2. Think outside the box

With the cues given above, the person may not be talking about an actual item that you might be able to purchase them as a gift. For example, my mom has pretty much everything. I mean, within reasonable limits, if she wants something she normally just gets it for herself. So it’s sometimes difficult to buy for her. However, when I listen to her and pay attention, she is always talking about making things that she doesn’t have time for, or fixing things that she can’t do herself. I have found that some of the best Christmas gifts I have given her have been acts of service by fixing something or refinishing something she already has. It can be tricky and you may not be able to make it a surprise (which is ALWAYS more fun if you can swing it). However, it’s a great way, and often less expensive way, to give to someone you really care about.

3. Don’t give something just because it’s what you would like to receive

You know that person who always gives you, and everybody else, jewelry? Or makeup? Or workout gear? Or home décor? Or horse-themed stuff? Who’s to say everybody likes the same things you like? It’s an easy way out because it takes a lot less thought. You know you like it, so she’ll like it too right? Unless you’re sure you two are that much alike, dig a little deeper.

4. Price doesn’t always equal value

You don’t have to spend a ton of money to give great gifts. Remember the old adage, “It’s the thought that counts”? It really is. In the end, nobody cares how much you spent on a gift if it is meaningful to that person.

 5. You can’t go wrong with  attaching memories to gifts

photo albumThe best gift, to date I think, that I’ve ever given my dad was putting our home movies on DVD for him. He had all of his photos and memorabilia burn up in a fire a few years ago and it was devastating to him. I figured out how to convert our VHS home movies to DVD on my own computer and he was touched to receive those as his Christmas gift. He still talks about it today. Anytime you can gift memories, people love that! Just make it meaningful and personal and you can’t go wrong. This is especially great for people who seem to have everything.

6. Sometimes less is more

Sometimes you want to go a little overboard but nobody likes to feel bad because they received something huge from the person they gave a keychain to. Remember that size and cost don’t necessarily matter. Meaning is what matters. Do I sound like a broken record here?

7. Last thing, make it appropriate and intentional

Don’t buy something just because it’s on sale and later decide who you might be able to give it to. No joke, my sister received an underwater scuba diving bag one year. She lives in Utah, has never been nor had she ever planned on going scuba diving. WHAT?! Who knows where that came from, probably the sale cart at some random department store. The point is, unless you’re planning on giving her a  ticket to a Caribbean cruise to go along with that bag, don’t do it.

Obviously, as I’ve repeated myself several times, it really is the thought that counts. Not just that you thought about that person and gave them something, but the fact that you put a lot of thought into what you gave that person. Gifts are a great way to show your love and strengthen your relationships. Don’t let a bad gift put a damper on a perfectly great Christmas. It’s not too late to return some things if you think you need to 🙂

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Where do You Find Motivation?


Let’s get honest people. How many of us are on a journey to improve our health? I truly feel like the majority of people out there are. From the fittest of fit to the laziest of lazy, most of us have a desire, however so small, to get healthy. So where do the fittest of fit find their motivation?

I’m one of those people who has struggled with her weight her entire life. Even as a kid I was always chubby. In middle school I dubbed myself as my hot friend’s DUFF. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this lovely little acronym it means “Dumb Ugly Fat Friend.” How’s that for self-loathing? I’m a little more grown up now and don’t consider myself as anyone’s DUFF but I still have a hard time believing I’ll ever be much better than I am right now.

Last Saturday I went to the Pinners Conference in Salt Lake City and attended a class given by Sadie Sabin from Simply Sadie Jane. While talking about her fitness journey she mentioned a post she had recently written on her blog about where to find motivation. Then she said something that totally struck me, like to the core. She said, “You can look for motivation all around you but the only place you’re going to find it is in you. You’re the only one who can do it.”

I’m so good at making excuses. The truth is, the fittest people are there because they stopped with the excuses. Nobody’s body is overweight because of any other reason other than that person hasn’t made the commitment to take care of it. That may sound harsh, and believe me, I am totally one of those people…but it’s the truth! We all have the ability to become fit and healthy and yet so many of us don’t do it.

So, I am making a public commitment. I’m done with the excuses. I’m done with the “I’ll do it someday” excuse, the “I’m not mentally prepared yet” excuse, the “I don’t have time” excuse. I’m done with the belief that I can’t do it, that even if I try I’ll never look like I think I want to. I’m done thinking that it’s vain because really it’s more about feeling good than looking good. I’m done thinking that it’s a lower priority than my kids or my desire to fulfill any other dream I have because it’s not. My health should be one of my very top priorities because it makes me more effective in all my other roles.

28385558_sSadie also talked about talking to yourself in the mirror. I’ve tried this folks. You really do feel different when you’re looking at yourself and talking to yourself as if you were your best friend. Why is it that we treat everybody else better than we treat ourselves? Would you tell your kids the horrible things you tell yourself? Would you ever tell them they’ll never be able to do something? Then why do we tell ourselves those destructive things?

So try it. Try it for a week straight and see the difference. Tell yourself, out loud, and while looking at yourself in the mirror, that you can do this. That you deserve this. Tell yourself you have every right and ability to accomplish what so many other people accomplish and you will do it. Tell yourself you have every resource you need and you know how to do it. Then just do it. Without dropping excuse bombs every time you go to do it. Make it work. Then let me know how it goes 🙂

After a life of struggling with my weight I feel like I already know what I need to do. I need to eat cleaner and move more. If you honestly don’t feel like you know enough about getting healthy then talk to your doctor, search some credible websites, buy a book, do whatever you need to get yourself up to date on what you need to do. Then just do it.

I look forward to hearing stories and working on my own journey. Remember, this body is taking us through this life. There will never come a day when we can say, “Awww, I’ve finally made it” and we can stop worrying about our health. It will always be a struggle. It will always be important. It should and will always be a priority. So embrace the journey and make it happen. You’re the only one who can.