‘Leading the Life You Want’

This is not a book review, although it may seem like one. Last week I saw a description of this book, Leading the Life You Want, in my Facebook feed. Of course I had to stop the scroll to read since it’s about work-life balance and all. Although the title is very Oprah’s live-your-best-life-ish, this book seems to have serious substance.

So, since this is not a book review — I haven’t read the book — I wanted to instead talk through some of the points in the HBR (you know, Harvard Business Review) summary:

The author, Stewart D. Friedman, says, “If you’re seeking “balance” you’ll never achieve it.” I stumble across statements like this quite frequently, and in fact, just wrote about it in this post where Robert Herjavec says, “work-life balance is one of the biggest misconceptions people have.”

So, here we have … “you’ll never achieve it,” and “it’s one of the biggest misconceptions people have,” all in one blog post.

Friedman says, “The goal is to create harmony among them (the four areas of your life: work, home, community, and the private self) instead of thinking only in terms of trade-offs.” Harmony. This is better.

I think we get hung up on the definitions of work-life balance. That everything is a trade-off like Friedman says, or the fact that everything needs to be perfectly balanced. The truth is that it doesn’t. It just has to be balanced to you.

Friedman uses illustrations from famous people (from Michelle Obama to Bruce Springsteen) to illustrate the points in his book, which make me wonder how translatable they can be. After all, people with money have more means to have assistance in their daily lives. More assistance can easily equate to more balance for the things that are important.

I am intrigued, however, and will be looking forward to finding a copy of this book to read to get his full insights. For now, I’ll stick with the theory that work-life balance is obtainable — you just have to properly define it, and work toward that goal.

 

About Alicia: Alicia is the founder of BalancingMotherhood.com. Last year, she managed to stay sane while completing an MBA, working full-time, blogging, and still baking amazing birthday cakes — all while raising a young family at home.
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What I Made This Week: Applesauce, Salad, and More Pumpkin Muffins

You guys are going to think I’m crazy with all my talk about pumpkin muffins lately. I mentioned it in the newsletter this week, and highlighted it in the What I Made This Week post from last Friday. We ran out of these muffins over the weekend and I didn’t have any all week long. This is not good. I’ve come to rely on them for quick breakfasts, and school snacks. So, I finally relented on Wednesday night and make a batch. Relief, we’re back in business.

My big recipe win this week was making homemade applesauce. And, it’s delicious! I can’t believe how easy it is to make. I need to take a few photos of the finished product, then I’ll upload the how-to and recipe.

saladAnd, drumroll … I made a salad with lettuce that we grew in our yard! Oh, this was so amazing. I can’t tell you the pride that you have for little lettuce leaves that you’ve watched grow from a seed. Just look at these lettuce leaves!

But, it wasn’t an easy process.

gardenThis is what my little garden looked like this summer. I can hardly stand to look at this picture. We went on kind of an epic summer vacation and were away from home for 6 weeks at the beginning of the summer. This is what 6 weeks of neglect looks like.

gardenThis is what it looks like after a massive weed pulling session. That was a lot of weeds.

gardenAnd, here we have a layer of weed protection! I don’t ever want to see that many weeds again.

After we got this all set, we put soil on top and planted our little lettuce seedlings. They were so cute and so tiny. I wasn’t sure they would work.

saladBut it did.

About Alicia: Alicia is the founder of BalancingMotherhood.com. Last year, she managed to stay sane while completing an MBA, working full-time, blogging, and still baking amazing birthday cakes — all while raising a young family at home.
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‘The Happiness of Pursuit’ Offers Inspiration for the Purpose of Your Life

The Happiness of PursuitI love a good quest. Actually, I think they are quite difficult, but I love the journey a goal provides. I started reading Chris Guillebeau’s The Happiness of Pursuit and was reminded of the quests I’ve undertaken in my own life. Most recently, completing graduate school while working full-time. It wasn’t easy, but I’m so glad I pursued it.

The journey is hard. Every time I have a big goal, I dislike the journey. I don’t like being in the middle of it, but when it’s over I miss it. Guillebeau talks about his own journey in the book – he’s traveled to every country in the world.

Every. Single. Country.

What an amazing journey. I’m so envious of this. What great life experiences he’s had. I don’t even know the names of some of the countries he’s been to!

He writes about other people and their journeys too –  like Sasha Martin who embarked on a project to share the world’s food with her family. Each week, she introduced a meal from a different country to her family for dinner. It’s now a blog with the tagline: let’s eat our way around the world: 195 countries, 195 meals, 195 weeks. Love this story. A specific goal with a purpose. She wanted to utilize her skills and teach her family about other cultures.

This book has tons of stories like Sasha’s. Some quests talked about in the book are walking long distances, others include a lot of travel, and some are educational. There are too many take-aways from the book to summarize them all here, but here are a few that I highlighted while reading:

  • Individuals on a quest to reach a goal “were successful not because of innate talent, but because of their choices and dedication.” – this means we can all do it!
  • Persistence is a common theme – those who are successful persist
  • When you sense discontent, pay attention” – don’t neglect that feeling you get. It might be telling you something important.
  • Discontent is not sufficient to start a fire” – you need to be inspired just as much as to feel the path you are currently on isn’t right
  • Be deliberate about things that matter” – isn’t this true. This is about balance. Decide what is important in your life and cut the rest out.

The Happiness of Pursuit is so much more than people following strange quests. It’s a guide that will inspire you to do what you love.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book through the publisher’s blogging for books program. This post contains affiliate links which means if you make a purchase from one of the links in the post, I will receive a small commission (at no additional cost to you) to help pay for maintenance costs of this site.

About Alicia: Alicia is the founder of BalancingMotherhood.com. Last year, she managed to stay sane while completing an MBA, working full-time, blogging, and still baking amazing birthday cakes — all while raising a young family at home.
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Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

pumpkin cupcakesCheck out these moist pumpkin cupcakes topped with homemade cinnamon cream cheese icing. It’s the perfection combination for fall. This is a simple, semi-homemade recipe that used a yellow box mix as the base. pumpkin cupcakesThese make me feel like it’s really fall. I used these cute pumpkin cupcake liners.

pumpkin cupcakesBut I really feel like they have the perfect, simple fall vibe too. I added orange sugar crystals on top.

pumpkin cupcakesFor this batch, I used plain orange cupcake liners and topped the cupcakes with orange, brown, and yellow sprinkles.

pumpkin cupcakesThese are truly for fall. pumpkin cupcakesNext I got out the black cupcake liners and topped these with candy corn-colored sprinkles. I love the contrast of the sprinkles with the black.
pumpkin cupcakesAnd, finally came the perfect decorations for Halloween cupcakes. I used the black cupcake liners and topped the cupcakes with little candy pumpkin and bat “sprinkles,” like these Halloween confetti sprinkles.

pumpkin cupcakesHere they are all together. One recipe, one icing, four different looks.

Here’s the recipe: 

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients

    Pumpkin Cupcakes
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1/2 can pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 stick butter (unsalted)
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbs. milk (optional)

Instructions

    Pumpkin Cupcakes:
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Mix cake mix, pumpkin puree and vegetable oil in mixer or stir by hand
  3. Add pumpkin pie spice (if you aren't sure how much cinnamon flavor you want, add one tsp., then taste after all ingredients are mixed together. Add another if you want more cinnamon.
  4. Mix until all ingredients are combined
  5. Spoon batter into cupcake liners or muffin pan -- filling 3/4 high
  6. Bake 350 for 15-18 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean
  7. cool on wire rack
  8. frost
  9. Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting:
  10. Mix cream cheese (must be at room temperature), and butter (also needs to be room temperature)
  11. In separate bowl, add powdered sugar and 1 - 2 teaspoons cinnamon. Whisk until combined.
  12. Add powdered sugar mixture to cream cheese mixture -- one cup at a time, mixing in between each cup
  13. Add up to 2 tablespoons milk to achieve desired frosting consistency
http://www.balancingmotherhood.com/2014/10/08/pumpkin-cupcakes-cinnamon-cream-cheese-frosting/


Disclosure: Affiliate links are used in this post which means if you make a purchase through one of the links I make a small commission, at no additional cost to you.

About Alicia: Alicia is the founder of BalancingMotherhood.com. Last year, she managed to stay sane while completing an MBA, working full-time, blogging, and still baking amazing birthday cakes — all while raising a young family at home.
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Martina McBride’s ‘Around the Table’ Cookbook

Martina McBride CookbookI only know Martina McBride as a famous country singer. Not that I know her, for real, just that, you know, I “know” her. Now she’s got a cookbook she’s sharing: Around the Table: Recipes and Inspiration for Gatherings Throughout the Year.

It’s a beautiful book where she inspires others to how gatherings to bring people together. She says the idea started when she realized she wanted a scrapbook of her parties and recipes to share with her girls. Well, this is some “scrapbook.”

What I love the most is that all the recipes look so easy to make — great for busy families. It’s not just about entertaining in a big way either. Most of these recipes (like clasic mashed potatoes) can be made for dinner.

She even keeps it simple and says she cleans up the morning after a party. Yeah, Martina McBride leaves dirty dishes in the sink. Stars — they’re just just like us!

Martina McBride pizza recipeShe’s got kids covered with a lot of her recipes too.

I’m totally making heart pizza this weekend.

mcbride cookbook martiniAnd, she didn’t forget the adults. Doesn’t this martini look divine?

Around the Table has tons of party ideas, contains “cooking game plans” of things to do before the party, and takes you through the year with different themes. My only complaint is that not every recipe has a photo. BOO-HOO. I have this compliant about a lot of cookbooks though, so don’t hold that against Martina.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher. Affiliate links are used in this post so if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a small commission to help with the cost of this site.

About Alicia: Alicia is the founder of BalancingMotherhood.com. Last year, she managed to stay sane while completing an MBA, working full-time, blogging, and still baking amazing birthday cakes — all while raising a young family at home.
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