A Few Of My Favorite Life “Helps”


Try this:  next time you are with a group of friends or family, ask everyone to share their favorite app.  Not app “etizer”– I’m talking about a phone or computer app “lication”.   It’s amazing what helpful ideas are out there!

Here are a few of my favorite things (apps and other great life ideas) for 2016:

  1. Tone It Up and Blogilates:  These are both websites that are great for getting you motivated to exercise.  I like them because I can open up the workouts on my IPad and exercise right there next to my dogs and laundry basket.  No gym necessary!  And you are guaranteed to sweat–these girls are hard core!  Tone It Up Link   Blogilates Link
  2. FaceSwap.  This is just a silly app, but so fun and guaranteed to make you and your peeps laugh. Stand with a friend and hold your phone so that it can “read” your faces.  The app will “swap” your faces (but keep your own hair and eyebrows). You can just imagine what my dad and I looked like when we did this.  Not pretty.  But hilarious.  Pull it out when there is a lull at a party, or when you are waiting for your food to come at a restaurant.  We did this with our kids and got quite a laugh with each other.
  3. Marriage Prayer Of The Day.  I have shared this before, but it is just so good.  You can click here and then subscribe to the daily prayers–they keep everything in perspective and that means happier marriage!
  4. Bouqs.  Looking for a great florist? Try the app Bouqs. It’s easy to use, affordable, and the flower arrangements are impressive.(I sent some for a funeral and my friend raved about how beautiful they were).
  5. Vacation Candy.  We are using this travel/management company for a trip we are taking in February. I stumbled upon their website after hours of dead-end accommodation searching.  We are SO happy with where we are staying and the price we found!

Keep your eye out for news about my new blog!  It will be launching in the next week or two so stay tuned to posts here giving more info–sooo excited to share this with you!




Finding Ideas For Your Life That Stick


Do you ever feel like you keep trying new ideas that come across your path but most don’t stick?  Ideas for better parenting, marriage, cooking, organizing, exercising or budgeting?  I love new tips and tricks, but most of the time I just let them pass by, giving them a head nod on their way.  I have become a bit skeptical, since the ideas I do try often don’t stick around very long, which feels discouraging.

For example, chores.  We have done “chores” in our home in many different systems.  And for the most part, they have worked for a time.  But then something changes in our lives–summer vacation hits and all prior routine vanishes, or someone starts to feel self-conscious that I have all the chores listed publicly on our chalkboard with checkmarks on who has done what…so I take that down.  Or, I start a new project or job and don’t have time to stay consistent.  That is life. But it can still feel discouraging at times.

What about exercise?  A great new app comes out (NikeTrainingClub) that I download and use for a while, but then I get bored, or it takes up too much room on my phone storage, so I delete it.  Then I get an email about an new website (ToneItUp.com) that has great workouts.  So I join.  And jump up and down in my family room in front of my computer for a while.  Until I’m bored again.

Is this a bad thing?  Not always.  Humans, especially in our day and age, are wired to seek out the next best thing.  And with the ability to receive information so readily, we are constantly hearing about new ideas.  The key is finding the one or two systems in the important areas of your life that accomplish the goal, and hanging on to those until they aren’t working for you anymore.  My guess is that if the chores or the exercise programs aren’t working, it’s because your life has shifted, and it’s time give yourself permission to shift to a new idea.

Each day we sort and filter new ideas that we see on Facebook, TV, from friends, or books. How do we best select and filter all that comes our way?

1. Decide if what you are currently doing/using is working for you.

For example, if you have a system for organizing your closet that may not be perfect but is working for you, don’t feel like you need to head to The Container Store to acquire the best new system you just saw on a Today Show segment.  However, if your closet has been a source of frustration, and watching the segment makes you realize that, use the inspiration to get you off your duff and do something about it.

2. If an idea sounds good, don’t shrug it off because the last three things you have tried haven’t stuck around long term.

In my next post I will share a great new kid-chore tracker that a friend shared with me.  My first instinct was to say, “That’s nice,” and change the subject, knowing it is one more system that may not work long term.  However, I asked a few more questions, and decided to give it a try, even though I just knew one of my children would balk at it because it would feel “kiddish” to her.  Guess what?  It is working amazingly well…for all kids.

3. When you try something new, give it time.

Often, we start something, just to end it a week later.  We make a lot of excuses, “It is not working as fast as I thought it would, I didn’t have the time to learn how to do it well, I have already figured out three reasons why I can’t sustain this…”

Well, all of those things may be true, but if you don’t give things at least THREE WEEKS (21 days to form a habit!) of consistent effort, you will never know the true outcome.

This seems very true with any new organizing system, an effort to speak differently to your spouse, exercise programs, or a new eating routine, etc.!

4.  When you do stumble upon something great, share it!

I have learned some great new tips and tricks for my life that have stuck around because friends have shared what is working for them.  Don’t be shy about letting people know something that has been successful for you.

In my next post, I will share 4 ideas that have simplified my life–and that seem to be sticking!

So, in the spirit of sharing, please like and share this post on FB if you thought it was helpful. Thank you!

Have a great day!

Health Tips From A Relative Couch Potato

Hello!  Wow, I apologize for not blogging more consistently these last couple of months.  It has been a time of transition for me–finishing up at one job (at an office) and transitioning to a business (from my home).  While I was envisioning all this new time as a stay-at-home worker  to tackle a few crammed junk drawers in my office, reconnect with my friends over a steaming cup of coffee, and grocery shop at quaint organic out of the way grocery stores, I have instead been glued to my computer figuring out how to run my business efficiently and effectively, and not wanting to leave the house to grocery shop at all!  (Don’t worry, the pizza places deliver).

Oh, and throw in a family vacation and a weekend trip to MN in there.  And soccer practice starting…need I say more?

But, I am starting to emerge from the transition! And, we are now in March and I am only on my 2nd New Year’s Resolution post (scroll down for #1).  Fortunately, we are still in the first quarter, and it’s never too late to think about self-improvement.

This post/resolution is about “healthy living.”


I admit,  I have never been a health “nut,” and compared to some of my amazing friends who are Gluten-Free, only shop at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, who consider running 5 miles a warm-up, and do crazy things like bike to/from work (15 miles in the winter—Derek) or rock the Paleo Diet–(Jen), I am a regular chip eating couch potato.

However, I do TRY to be healthy.  80% of the food I buy for our family is “whole food” (except cereal which I guess reduces that number to 50% since a few of us are cereal addicts around here), but I try to buy food that does not have hydrogenated oils, is high in protein, low in fat, and I try to make sure everyone gets their fruits and veggies.  My daily diet consists of Wheat Chex, a protein bar, a turkey and spinach wrap, fruit, 2 York Mints, sunflower seeds and raisins (snack) and a dinner with fish or white meat and a veggie (more York Mints).  Of course that varies, but if I could do the same every day that would be it.  The York Mints are actually my sweet tooth controller–for me–I get my sugar fix with 2 of these small wafers, and I don’t end up eating a quarter bag of Peanut M&M’s in one shot.

Oh, I forgot to mention Diet Pepsi…my main beverage.  Does that totally negate my daily healthy food intake?  Maybe.

I try to exercise 2-3 times per week–Jon would not consider it exercise though because sweat is not usually involved.   Really, I just don’t sweat.

Here are my three health tips–take them or leave them based on my Diet Pepsi confession:

1.  Feed Your Body Well

When I was in college the fad was “low fat” which meant all carbs– I was exhausted all the time and of course craved sugar and carbs endlessly.   A few years later I read the book  Eating for Your Blood Type and realized that being O- meant my body needed protein.  I changed how I ate and now try to mostly eat protein and I let my carbs come from my morning cereal and dessert.

Another idea I’ve found to help with healthy eating is this great APP called “Nutrition Menu”– IPhone.  It’s $1.99, and has nutritional info for restaurants and almost any food you can think of, has an exercise feature with 149 built in exercises, journal feature, weight tracking, and water consumption tracking.

2. Exercise

This is obvious, but one tool I found last year has been wonderful in helping me with my workouts.  It is an APP for your phone (IPhone and Android), and it is called Nike Training Club.  untitledThis is not for sissies.  There are different levels, and ALOT of different work outs, and you can do them in your home.  I actually have been known to sweat a little doing these workouts.

There are so many great exercise APPS–I would recommend loading one or two on your phone or IPAD to squeeze in a quick workout from home as much as possible.


3. Really THINK about your “health future”.

This is not something I have done in my life, especially in my 20’s and 30’s.  I am 42 now, and still feel like disease and aging is a long way off.  However, when a friend and mom of 3 (who is my age) passed away about this time last year from melanoma, I was struck with the reality that disease can strike any of us at any time.  So, I have tried to think more long-term about my health and how I can strengthen my body now.

In this blog I have always been intentional about not mentioning my side-job, because I have never wanted to mix business with the spiritual purpose of Gracefullhome.  But just this once I am going to tell you a little about what I do because I can’t talk about health and not share the amazing health product I have been using for the last year and a half.  I take a product called the Lingzhi (Reishi) mushroom, grown and distributed by  Alphay, is the worlds largest producer of the Lingzhi.  Google it and you will find hundreds of articles on this incredible superfood.

The Lingzhi (Reishi) mushroom, when taken through an extraction process and put in capsule th_5_elements_nutritionform, strengthens our bodies at the cellular level, helping to fight cancer cells, Alzheimers, Parkinsons, not to mention it’s immuno-modulating properties that relieve allergies (mine are gone).  The mushrooms also lower cholesterol, help with sleep issues, lower blood pressure, and help with anxiety and depression–just to mention a few.

If you want to know more, feel free to shoot me an email or watch the video on Lingzhi on my site www.mushroomsforyou.com.  Please know I do not share this with you for “profit” purposes, but to share something that myself, my family, and my friends have found to help us be the healthiest people possible from the inside out.

So, now you have a book, a couple  APPS, and a supplement to help you be the healthiest you possible!  God has given us our bodies “as His temple” and we are to care for them in the best way possible.

Stay tuned for my final New Year’s post on a great financial tool and words from God about our money.




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