What I’m Reading: Books That are Changing Me

What I'm Reading: Books That Are Changing Me

Today I’m sharing several books that are changing me over at The Creative Mama. Come on over and say hello. From the post:

There are those books that get under my skin… the books that I dog ear, make notes in or constantly quote to my husband… the ones so meaty that I have to digest before continuing. Those are the books that shape me.

You can get the whole list over on the post, but here’s a couple that make the list: Zero Waste Home, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, and  Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally.



On Slowing Down in Our Busy World

Notes from a Blue Bike by Tsh Oxenreider

When we started chasing our own dreams , I quit my job, we sold our house, and drove one car while we started the baby steps. Life slowed down to 20mph instead of the 50 we had been living.

Over three years later, we’ve picked things up a bit but I’d say we are still clocking in at half the speed of the busy world around us.

We’ve been intentional in the way we spend our time: my husband has chosen not take a more lucrative career path (working more hours), I run our business part-time from home, we limit after school activities and our own commitments to groups, committees and other activities that we don’t highly value.

We’ve chosen to spend money on quality food and healthcare, educating our children, charities, outdoor recreation and traveling experiences: our top priorities.

Living according to your values isn’t inherent in our culture. We are told to do more, have more and be more every day. But we can live differently.

It’s a risky ride, but it’s worth it—living your life according to who you really are simply takes a little intention.  – Tsh Oxenreider

If you need a little inspiration and practical ideas for slowing down your own life, please read Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World. It’s the newest book from my friend, Tsh, the founder of The Art of Simple, formerly known as Simple Mom.

The book’s trailer gives you a sneak peek:

The book releases on February 4 but if you pre-order now, you’ll score a few freebies:

  • A brand new e-book Tsh wrote called 20 Things I’d Tell My 20-Something Self.

  • Her e-book, One Bite At a Time: 52 Projects To Making Life Simpler. 52 steps with tips, links, and motivation to simplify. This is a great way to start the slowing down process.

  • A downloadable list of extra resources on each topic of the book.

  • A collection of sharable and printable quotes from the book. These are awesome, you are going to love them!

    To get all the freebies, make sure you forward a copy of your order receipt to: notesfromabluebike@gmail.com. (Must forward your receipt by Feb 18).

I think we are all looking to slow down our busy lives, what path are you taking to accomplish it?

Exercise for the Busy Mom

How Busy Moms Get Exercise: 5 Tips for Moms to Squeeze in at Least 7 Minutes of Exercise Every Day

Ten years ago I was active. I was an on-again, off-again runner. I snowboarded and then became a skier. I took up cycling.  I swam. Exercise was part of my life.

Then I had kids. You know the familiar equation. Kids + husband + work + housework + social activities = no time for mom.

Last year I had this epiphany that it was time to start doing things for myself. I became a part-time WAHM. I learned how to swim properly. I started exercising regularly. And I feel GREAT.

I won’t be posting any before and after photos but I’m stronger and leaner and all around more fit. There’s no one size fits all exercise routine and frankly, mine varies week to week but I’ve found several methods that are working for me.

Twofer Exercise

When my kids are busy in an activity, I take the time to squeeze in a workout. A few ways I’ve done it:

  • While my son takes swimming lessons, I hit the lap pool for 30 minutes. If my daughter is with me, she does homework or plays on the iPad while watching me swim.
  • My daughter plays softball at a nearby field while I run the loop around the park and my son rides his bike.
  • I drop my kids off for a play date and hit the road for a bike ride.


I credit Jillian for hiking up my buns and firming up my jello arms. When I can’t sneak in a twofer workout or get outdoors, I hide in my bedroom for 20-30 minutes and get ripped. This is the video I’m working through now and I used this one in the past.

My sister has 3 kids under 6 and she sneaks in one of these workouts 5-6 days a week during her infant’s nap time or while he’s preoccupied with a toy. She got back to her pre-baby size in a few months, she looks great.

7 Minute Workout Challenge

This clever app is how I’m getting exercise when I travel. The 7 Minute Workout Challenge has 12 exercises, performed for 30 seconds with 10 second rest intervals. No equipment needed.  The reviews are amazing for just 7 minutes a day!

Research says “high-intensity training with little rest results in higher daily metabolism and is the equivalent of working out for over an hour.”

How Busy Moms Get Exercise: 5 Tips for Moms to Squeeze in at Least 7 Minutes of Exercise Every Day

Getting Outside

Breaking a sweat in the outdoors is my preferred method of exercise. It feels more natural to cross country ski through the snowy woods than run on a treadmill next to 10 other people.  That being said, reality is that I get to do that 1-2 times per week.

A woman at my children’s school organized an Adventure Club where (mostly) moms get together on Monday mornings after they have dropped off their children in their classrooms and do an organized outdoor activity together.

Weather dependent, we are hiking, cycling, snowshoeing, cross country skiing or stand up paddle boarding. Beginners and those without equipment are always welcome and we are done by lunch time.

On the weekend, I’m usually accomplishing this with my kids alongside. In the summer, we spend our Saturdays kayaking different lakes. You’ll find us skiing and snowshoeing in the winter.

The spring and fall are usually spent riding bikes and hiking. When cycling around town, we tote our kids behind our bikes (talk about getting a workout when pulling 70 pounds behind you!) Both kids (ages 4 and 7) are good for 2-3 miles of hiking.

Other Workout Ideas

The current bundle of the week features 5 ebooks on getting fit for just $7.40 (only available thru 1/19/2014).  Bonus: the 7-Minute Workout Challenge app I mentioned above is included.

  • Thrive90 Fitness Program
  • Healthy Eating the Happy Gal Way
  • 7-Minute Workout Challenge App
  • Bodyweight Overload
  • The Sandbag Solution
How do you squeeze in exercise in your busy life?

Less Waste In, Less Waste

Less Waste In, Less Waste Out: How to Reduce Junk Mail and Packaging

I’m over at Simple Mom today talking about my mission to reduce our household waste by 50%. On the chopping block: junk mail and packaging.

From the post:

I’ve since come to find that having a full recycling bin actually meant our family was sending almost 2500 gallons of waste out of our home each year.

Not to mention the time we were wasting, managing 2500 gallons of paper, plastic, and cardboard.

Head over to Simple Mom to read the rest!


40 Simple Ways to Build Community in your Neighborhood

DSC_0139-2 I’m talking about building community in your neighborhood over at Simple Mom today.  It doesn’t happen over night.  In fact, having been a part of two great neighborhood communities in the past several years, I know that it takes repeated effort.  Eventually, when that effort is rewarded, it becomes so valuable.

We have found it to be such a valued part of our life that I’d like to share simple ways you can begin to build community in your neighborhood, too.

  • Turn off the TV, computer and smart phone
  • Walk to the mailbox and greet those you pass
  • Plan a neighborhood or block party
  • Help spread bark or shovel snow
  • Help hang or take down Christmas light
  • Organize a National Night Out party
  • Plan an annual holiday party: Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day or Halloween
  • Throw a potluck or progressive meal
  • Share seeds or plant a garden together
  • Help each other move in or move out
  • Hire neighborhood kids for small jobs around the house
  • Be welcoming: open curtains and turn on lights
  • Bake extra cookies and share
  • Participate in neighborhood school events
  • Go with your children when they play outside
  • Sit on your front porch and greet others as they walk by
  • Offer tools or a helping hand
  • Buy from your neighborhood coffee shop or restaurant
  • Wave and say thank you to the mail carrier, UPS person or garbage man
  • Offer to watch other children or exchange babysitting with other parents
  • Have a neighborhood garage sale
  • Throw a backyard BBQ
  • Support children’s fundraisers
  • Schedule a regular Mom’s night out
  • Offer to water plants and pick up the mail for neighbors out of town
  • Light your fire pit in your driveway and bring out the S’mores
  • Get a cruiser bike and pedal around with the kids
  • Go for an early evening walk
  • Open your front door, a screen might be helpful if you feel exposed
  • Attend your neighborhood association meeting
  • Help kids organize a lemonade stand
  • Host a Saturday pancake feed
  • Start the game of ‘You’ve Been Booed‘ at Halloween.
  • Introduce yourself to new neighbors.
  • Volunteer as a group
  • Ask others to join you for a weekly walk, run or bike ride
  • Carpool
  • Host a neighborhood book club
  • Start a community garden
  • Create a private Facebook group for your neighborhood. Share events, recipes, photos and offer to giveaway things you no longer need
In what ways are you building community in your neighborhood?