Gift Guide 2016

Part of being intentional over the holidays is buying presents now so you’re not scrambling last minute and filling your cart with Amazon Deal of the Days that don’t actually fit any of your family members. If you’re looking for meaningful items to add to your wish list or if you’re buying for a special keeper-of-the-home in your life, here are some of my favorite items–and they’re all less than $30! (Click any picture for a direct link to buy the item.)

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Preventing Illness Over the Holidays (And a Free Printable Guide to Preventing Illness)

6 easy steps I can implement today to help prevent illness over the holidaysI don’t know about you, but I’m sick of being sick. Thanks to Timehop on Facebook, I realized last Christmas that my family had been sick every Christmas for the past three years. And even with that reminder and my intentions to not get sick again, it happened. We were sick Christmas week. Again.

The cycle has to stop. But it won’t stop unless I am intentionally healthier over the holidays. Given all my health knowledge (disclaimer: I am not a doctor. These are my conclusions from research I’ve done, but they are not meant to be prescriptive in any way. If you have a health need, please seek a professional), I know why we have been sick every Christmas. And even though I mean to be healthier the next season, I just get sucked up in all the cookie exchanges and Christmas parties and free sugary treat that can be found around every corner, and I start the same cycle again.

This year, my focus is on being intentional throughout the holiday season, starting now. Intentional means to follow a plan or a design. It requires forethought. So if I’m going to be intentional about staying healthy over the holiday season, then I need to come up with a plan, with action steps, that my family and I can take because it won’t just magically get better this year if I hope for it.

So I’ve put together six action steps that I know will help boost my immune system and set my body up for success health-wise this year. If your family struggles with staying healthy over the holiday, these are six steps you can also follow, or you can pick and choose from them based on what’s right for your family.  I know that I won’t see a change in this pattern of holiday sickness if I don’t implement different actions.

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Intentional Thankfulness

A reminder to speak thankfulness over your future AND free printable
What are you thankful for from this past year?

AND

What are you thankful for that you believe will happen this next year?

THE TRADITION

These are the two questions my family members each had to answer before the Thanksgiving meal was served. My mom would prepare a little bowl by filling the bottom with unpopped popcorn kernels. We would pass the bowl around, each take two kernels, then pass it again, as one at a time, each person would put one kernel back in the bowl while sharing what he or she was thankful for that happened in the past year. When the bowl got back to the first person, it’d continue on one more round, this time each person putting in a kernel and naming something he or she was thankful would happen in the next year.

THE TRUTH

Let’s be honest. It’s pretty easy to come up with something we’re thankful for that has already happened. Why? Because it’s tangible. We saw it with our eyes, touched it with our hands, felt it with our hearts. But those intangibles . . .

Why are we so fixed on choosing to be thankful for what we see when there’s so much power in being thankful for and speaking out what we cannot yet see?

THE APPLICATION

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3 Reasons You Can Excel in the Kitchen

Why you CAN excel in the kitchenPERFECTION IS UNATTAINABLE 

So often I hear women complain about their inability to master cooking or to incorporate a menu plan of healthier food that their families will actually eat. And I get it. It IS hard. I’m not denying that. But that’s not an excuse to give up and stop trying.

Growing up I always heard adults chirp at me, “Practice makes perfect,” while I faced failure and defeat in some new skill set I was attempting. (Grueling hours at the piano come to mind, oh, and the many many basketball games my toosh warmed the bench.) I began to hate that phrase, but then when I became a mom, I found myself using it on my own daughters! Oh, the shock and horror I felt, disgusted with myself, praying my girls wouldn’t resent me.

I knew the reason I said it, disgusting as it felt; it contained an element of a core value that I refuse to let my girls grow up without. I always tell my daughters, “The Abad girls don’t give up. We always try our hardest. We do not quit.”

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The Mentor Joy Reads . . . WITHOUT RIVAL

Click the image to purchase this book (afflink)
The premise of the book is that God doesn’t love equally (because that would mean His love could be measured, but it is beyond measure), nor does He love us the same (because that would mean His children are “replaceable or interchangeable, and they are not”). Rather, God loves us uniquely. And in order to begin to understand that love, you must first understand who YOU uniquely are. You are “without rival”; you can’t lose. You must see yourself from God’s vantage point.

Here are some more quotes from the book to begin to meditate on:

“Contentment and being truly comfortable in your own skin won’t breed complacency; they will release creativity” (emphasis mine).

“There is a very real battle going on for the strength of your soul. It is time you took your place in this world.”

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Natural Air Purifiers: 3 Easy Ways to Clear Toxins From Your Home

3 Natural Air Purifiers to help you stop airborne germs from spreading to your family.We recently had a bout with a nasty nasty stomach bug that passed from me to my husband. I think it’s safe to say that there’s never a convenient time to be sick, and it’s one thing for a parent to be down, but it’s a whole ‘notha ballgame for a kid to go down. So before the virus could spread to anyone else in my family, I went on a cleaning spree, and I used these three things to help clean the air and naturally eliminate airborne toxins. Two of the three required no effort whatsoever on my part. They are simply a staple in our home and are constantly keeping the air clean. The last one took less than two minutes to finish. You can do these. They’re really that simple.

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Build Your Skill Set

Why you should try learning a new skill instead of staying reliant on technologyI recently listened to a Ted Talk about millennials and their desire to be taught how to be independent and empowered. One extreme example in how far some had strayed from independence (or the speaker would argue she was never taught otherwise because of parents who enabled her) focused on a college-age girl who needed a stamp. Whenever she needed a stamp, she would call her mom, and her mom would then mail it to her!

While I find this appalling on so many levels, if I’m being honest, I found a trace of myself in this story. In this age of technology, what we want or need is generally immediately available at our fingertips or can be delivered on our doorstep in less than 48 hours. When we have a question, we don’t have to go anywhere to get an answer, we just turn to our smart phones. When we need to see how something is done, we YouTube it. There is no immediate need for us to better ourselves by learning a new skill because we can just find a bandaid fix that takes care of our need without any real thought on our part going into it.

Stop relying on band-aid fixes. Learn how to do it yourself.FATAL FLAW

The fatal flaw that this system contains is that we’re
not learning and bettering ourselves. If the problem comes up again, we’ll just YouTube it again. We’re not learning anything. Just like if the aforementioned girl needs a stamp again, she’ll just call her mom. She won’t learn where her closest post office is. She won’t research a list of stores that also sell stamps that she could buy when she’s there already buying something else. She’ll never know that she can print postage online and not even have to leave her home (or wait for her mom’s stamp to arrive).

What skill are you purposely not learning because you’ve reasoned that you don’t

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White Space: The #1 Key to Organization Success

I’ve recently come to a revelation about organization.

White space. It’s not just for schedules anymore.

When I organize, I also need white space. Let me explain.

PB-clock_c0dec98e941ea8762025dcf0c0397919Not so recently, we went on a trip and used our carry on suitcase. It’s old and ugly and green, but it works. And since it’s so small, I’ve always prided myself on maximizing storage space by storing luggage within luggage within luggage. The canvas bag goes in the carry on which goes in the medium suitcase that goes in the big one. It’s quite a tidy system and save us tons of room, but . . .

As I type this, that same small green carry on sits in my garage, next to my babushka suitcase set . . . weeks after we traveled. Why? I just haven’t brought myself to going through all the trouble to open all the suitcases, nest it properly, and then zip them all back up again. Not to mention, there’s a stack of boxes on top of the big suitcases, so more effort is required.

And then I realized that my organization system is great for a one-time use, but it’s not practical. It’s complicated. And when it comes down to it,

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Why Table?

In the Beginning

When I was brainstorming ideas for my website and trying to pick out a theme and a name, I just kept going back to the idea of incorporating a table in it. What is it about a table (a farmhouse table in particular) that’s so inviting? When I see a great table–large, solid wood, dark finish, the centerpiece of a dining area–I am instantly drawn to it. Add a large, handmade, clay bowl to the middle, and I might start drooling. I want to run my hands along the edge. I want to sit in the chairs, and I want it to be in my own home.

A Table

A table is inviting. It’s a safe place. It’s a foundation for nourishment in our daily lives. It’s where so much of our daily life at home takes place. It’s Grand Central, if you will. Meals are eaten there. Homework is done there. Projects are spread out there. As a homeschooler, education is provided there. When holidays come around, it’s decorated accordingly. Presents are wrapped there. And when friends come over, laughter and community surround it.

“A table is a symbol of community.”

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