21 Days to a More Disciplined Life: Giveaway and Review

Submitted by Melissa on Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - 19:19

If there's one blog I visit almost daily, it's Crystal Paine's Money Saving Mom. I love her practical tips, honest transparency, and conversational writing style.

I enjoy the deals she blogs about, but her posts on home organization, goal setting, and discipline are particularly inspiring. So when she offered bloggers a preview of her new ebook 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life, I was thrilled.

I've been doing a quick, overview read and am starting a 21-day read on Monday, October 29, implementing her plan. Would you like to join me?

Here's what you can expect:

  • Read about 2 pages each day
  • Complete a "mega-project" to work on throughout those 21 days. You'll be picking one on Day 1. You know, that project that could be accomplished if you worked on it consistently for a short bit of time? (i.e. arranging a song, organizing the garage, cleaning the basement, etc.)
  • Get inspired and motivated!
  • Learn how to implement more discipline into a busy life.
  • Finish the 21 days with a sense of satisfaction!

Through Thursday, you can download the book for $0.99 in two ways:

  1. As an Ebook here.
  2. For the Amazon kindle here.
On Friday, the price goes up to $4.99 so snatch it now!

If you'd like to enter to win a free copy, leave a comment below, and I'll choose a winner by Thursday, October 25, at 3:00 p.m. CST. If you don't have a facebook account, send me an email, and I'll include you in the drawing.

3 Reasons for Smiling in the Rain

Submitted by Melissa on Friday, October 19, 2012 - 17:51

It’s raining today and dreary outside, but I’m smiling anyway! Three reasons I can rejoice today:

1. Chemo is in the past. 

Sixteen months ago I received my last dose of chemo drugs. I'm so glad it's over. If you've been through it, you know what I mean. And if you haven't, you can imagine.

Although chemo is a nasty experience, I will say that it's an amazing time to experience God's grace in a personal way. In fact, whatever weakness or difficulty we experience is simply a perfect time to experience God's ample grace and strengthening.

2. I’m on a six-month follow-up schedule with my oncologist.

As far as my health goes, I see my oncologist every six months, and there are always plenty of tests in between. Hey, this is better than seeing your oncologist every two weeks, like during treatment.

I had a couple MRI's which were supposed to be annual. The last two, they've wanted me to return in six months to keep an eye on a couple suspicious areas. The first follow-up MRI showed the questionable area to be fine, but then they spotted another area they want to check on in 6 months (which will be early 2013).

Cancer is a tricky thing. You want it to stay away and hope it's doing so, but you (and the doctors) don't really know what's happening in all those hidden cells. So it's a waiting game, like I wrote about last year here.

3. My new doctor at Northwestern is encouraging.

In addition to the oncologist visits and MRI's, I see a pretty interesting doctor at Northwestern who specializes in the whole BRCA gene mutation field. I was assigned to him since I'm positive for the BRCA2 mutation. My last visit with him was actually quite encouraging. Upbeat and knowledgable at the same time, his positive outlook put a lightness to my step as I walked out of his office. Why is it that words from doctors can be so powerful?

There are many more reasons to be smiling today! And when I first wrote this blog post, it wasn’t raining and it wasn’t about smiling. But I want you to know that God is good. He is answering your prayers. He continues to give strength and healing. And He puts the smile on my face!

Cranberry Broccoli Slaw

Submitted by Melissa on Friday, September 14, 2012 - 19:49

broccoli slaw

I just have to share my latest favorite with you. It's one of those salads that I wouldn't have typically tried. But when a friend introduced me to a recipe that used broccoli slaw, spinach, and chicken, I started searching for some vegetarian recipes using broccoli slaw.

Broccoli is known to be an excellent cancer-fighting food. Among the cruciferous vegetables (think cauliflower, cabbage, kale), broccoli has the highest amount of sulforaphane.

This compound is shown to boost the body's protective enzymes and flush out cancer-causing chemicals, according to Jed Fahey, ScD, of John Hopkins University. A quick Google search will even show how broccoli is currently being included in some large studies related to breast cancer.

Broccoli slaw, made from the stems of the broccoli, is a creative way to get more of this great vegetable into your diet. I was thrilled when I found this recipe, and below is my adaptaion. 

Cranberry-Broccoli Slaw


¼ cup raw apple cider vinegar
2-3 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. agave (or stevia to taste)
½ tsp. Bragg’s liquid aminos (optional)
½ tsp. black pepper
celtic salt or sea salt, to taste

1 (12-ounce) bag organic broccoli slaw
2 stalks celery, minced
⅓ cup dried cranberries (or raisins if you prefer)
1 green apple, diced
¼ cup raw sunflower seeds (or any seed or nut)
½ small onion, minced


  1. In a small bowl, combine apple cider vinegar, oil, agave or stevia, pepper, and salt.
  2. In a larger bowl, mix in remaining ingredients.
  3. Mix dressing with slaw, celery, cranberries, apple, seeds, and onion.
  4. Let sit for about 30 minutes, stirring a few times.

broccoli slaw

I can easily eat this all within a couple days, by myself. 

What other ways do you use broccoli slaw? I'd love to hear!

Cookies. Healthy and Delicious.

Submitted by Melissa on Saturday, May 19, 2012 - 20:30

healthy chocolate chip cookies

"I can't believe these are healthy cookies," my friends say. That and, “I would make these. Send me the recipe, will you?”

So here I am today, back from a small blogging break, to share with you a fantastic recipe that a number of you have asked for.

I consider it a transitional recipe because it’s pretty much sugar-free and dairy free, and it’s chock-full of those good things like oats, raisins, nuts, and coconut. But if you’re gluten-free, the cup of flour keeps it from fitting into that category, and it does have (dark) chocolate chips which are kind of a small cheat.

But really these are healthier than most breakfast cereals out there and definitely better for you than 99% of the cookies on the supermarket shelves.

The inspiration for this comes from the Two Sisters’ Cookbook, but I’ve made my own alterations to accommodate dairy-free and the “a little bit of chocolate, please” cravings.

healthy chocolate chip cookies

Healthy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Wet Ingredients:
½ cup coconut oil, melted (or 1 stick butter, softened)
½ cup honey
1 tablespoon flax + 3 tbsp. water (or 1 egg)
1 tsp. vanilla

Dry Ingredients:
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or 1 cup unbleached flour)
1 tbsp. cinnamon
¾ tsp. sea salt
2 cups rolled oats
¾ cup raisins
½ cup chocolate chips (or substitute date pieces)
1 cup nuts
1 cup unsweetened coconut (works without the coconut too)

  • Mix wet ingredients together. Then add dry ingredients and mix well.
  • Form into tablespoon-sized balls. Then flatten the dough slightly.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
  • Yields about 42 cookies

healthy chocolate chip cookies

Charming Chia Seeds

Submitted by Melissa on Monday, April 30, 2012 - 20:58

Today I want to share a simple way to add more fiber, omega-3s, antioxidants, and protein to your diet. The benefits are all wrapped in a little seed called "chia."

My guess is that you first heard about these seeds from an advertisement for cute-looking chia pets

Today we're not talking about Chia Pets though.

We're talking about an easy solution for you to get a powerhouse of nutrients into your diet with very little effort.

chia seeds

For many years, the Mayans and Aztecs used these seeds as is an excellent source of energy.

Chia seeds are a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids that our bodies cannot produce.

It is said to have the highest omega-3 content of any plant-based source.

Their antioxidant content is even higher than a cup of blueberries.

High in fiber, chia seeds are easily digested. Diabetics use them to help stabilize blood sugar because they slow down the rate at which complex carbohydrates are digested and then assimilated into the body.

I used to add a tablespoon or two of dry chia seeds to my smoothies, but now that I've been doing more green juicing, I drink them as a gel-like substance once they've absorbed some water.

Here's how the two minutes (or less) of preparation goes:

  1. Fill a quart jar with filtered water.
  2. Add 6 tablespoons of chia seeds.
  3. Stir or shake. Let sit for 8-12 hours.
  4. Shake again.
  5. Pour yourself a small glass of chia gel (I usually drink 3-4 ounces/day).

Even when we head out of town for a few days, I like to take along a jar of my chia seed gel.

It's a tasteless treat and is quite filling so it helps keep away the sugar cravings.

Costco sells a bag of Chia for a great price (two pounds for around $7-8 I think). 

Other common uses for dry Chia seeds:

  • sprinkle on salads
  • add to smoothies
  • add to salsa to keep it from being watery (chia seeds absorb up to 20 times their weight in water)
  • add 2 tablespoons to your favorite juice, allow to gel for about ten minutes, and enjoy a drink called "Chia Fresca" 
  • make a healthy chocolate pudding from chia seeds
chia seeds

Disappearing Cookie Dough Balls

Submitted by Melissa on Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - 20:34

Disappearing Cookie Dough Balls

Are you working on replacing sugary sweets with healthy treats? Along with the Power Balls, these are some of my kids' favorites. As promised, here's the recipe for raw cookie dough balls. 

Adapted from the recipe here, my version has flax and coconut which are cheaper than nuts.

I also added raisins and tried cutting back on the agave. I think they're sweet enough with just 3 tbsp. of agave. (Did you know my Costco has a pack of two 36-ounce bottles of agave for $9.99? What a deal!)

Disappearing Cookie Dough Balls
Yields: about 16 balls (for printable version click here)

⅔ cup raw almonds
⅓ cup ground flax
⅓ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
⅔ cup rolled oats
2 tbsp. raisins
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
⅛ tsp. salt
3-4 tbsp. agave nectar (depending on your desire for sweetness)
2 tsp. vanilla
¼ cup mini dark chocolate chips

  1. Process nuts, flax, coconut, oats, raisins, cinnamon, and salt in food processor until it’s a fine meal.
  2. Add agave and vanilla and process until it sticks together.
  3. Add chocolate chips and pulse.
  4. Put in refrigerator or freezer for 15-30 minutes (or skip this step if you don’t mind working a little more to get a nice ball).
  5. Form into balls (about a tablespoon each).
  6. Place into airtight container. To watch them disappear, just show your family where you stored them.

I soak and dehydrate my raw nuts before using them. When I made these, I had a batch of almonds in the fridge that I hadn’t dehydrated yet. They worked perfectly. (I knew I’d be using some almonds in recipes like this, so after soaking and rinsing them overnight I stored some in the fridge without dehydrating them. The others, I dehydrated and stored in the freezer.)

How to Help a Cancer Patient, Part 2

Submitted by Melissa on Saturday, April 14, 2012 - 20:22

How to Help a Cancer Patient

Today we’re continuing to look at some practical ways to help a cancer patient. Last time we talked about three practical ideas:

  1. Send a card
  2. Pray for them (and let them know it)
  3. Take a meal.

Continuing on with another practical way to help.

Clean Their House 

Ah, the joy of having a clean, orderly house. And, ugh, the dread of a messy house. You know the feeling of both, right? It’s no fun wanting a clean house but being unable to do the work to make it shine.

After surgeries or during chemotherapy, no one feels like getting down on their hands and knees to clean the bathroom, dust the baseboards, or push the vacuum around the house. But, it’s more than not feeling like it. There’s just not the energy for it.

One week when my mom came down to visit during chemo, one of my sisters-in-law accompanied her and thoroughly cleaned the house. How refreshing!

One Thursday evening (which would have put me at two days after a treatment), a friend stopped by with a meal. She had gone through chemo herself and instead of sitting down to visit, she observed the need in the kitchen and put herself to work.

Would I have called someone and asked for help that night? No, because I knew that eventually the kitchen would have gotten cleaned up and figured I could be patient until that time. But the Lord graciously sent someone over who assessed the situation and selflessly decided to do something about it.

Not everyone would be comfortable with you showing up at their doorstep with all your cleaning supplies, ready to tackle their house. But someone who knows you well will probably get away with it. Of course, if the spouse is home, make sure it’s not going to be an intrusion on their privacy.

There’s an organization called Cleaning for a Reason that partners with cleaning services around the USA and Canada to assist women undergoing treatment. Thousands have been helped through this service.

Although Cleaning for a Reason is a wonderful service, most of us have been cleaning bathrooms, doing dishes, vacuuming, and dusting for many years, and those practical skills could go a long way in making a cancer patient’s life a bit easier!

If you’re not up to cleaning someone’s house, you could...

  • Watch someone else’s children so that person could do the cleaning.
  • Hire someone to do it--maybe a college student in the church or even a professional.
  • Look for ways to help them out when you drop by.

I’m reminded of single friends who’ve gone through their own battles with cancer. They may or may not have had to deal with the messes kids make, but still they had to deal with the daily and weekly chores involved in keeping a house tidy. I sure hope they had someone to help them out.

Do you have a friend who’s gone through treatment, and you were able to help them with their house cleaning? I’d love to hear about it!

The Apostle Paul advises believers to “help the weak” (I Thessalonians 5:14). This would seem to involve a tangible “help.” Even if cleaning isn’t your forté, there are other ways you can help the weak.

I hope you will find someone weak this week to help. No doubt you will receive the greater blessing!