3 ways to still throw an Awesome party (when you're a recovering perfectionist)

When I'm enjoying myself in planning a party, I can't help but remember my less glorious days being a perfectionist, throwing a party.

Oh my, they were incredible parties.  Every detail was in place.  And I was irritable, rushed, stressed, and more concerned about unimportant details rather than if my kids or the guests were enjoying themselves.

Fast forward years later, many kids/learning experiences later, and I'm happy to say that I've learned many lessons that 1) allow me to continue to entertain because I truly love it and 2) do so with enjoyment, peace, and being fully present

3 Ways to Still Throw an Awesome Party (When You're a Recovering Perfectionist)...

1. Decide THE most important aspect of the party and ENJOY putting all of your energy/work into that ONE aspect, and only that.

For my twins 7th birthday recently, I decided I would only focus my fullest energy on the tea party portion of the fairy party: their cakes, simple finger food, and simple decorations.

That meant enjoying putting my time and creative juices towards the table.  Not on games.  Not a clever "fairy craft".  Not unnecessary decorations, unnecessary favors, or any other "distractions" away from my ONE most important work I chose.

So the twins' cakes (the most time consuming party prep) would take centerpiece to the table decor.  Along with simple + free wild flowers, tree blossoms, and my beloved wooden disks turned into cake platters.

Simple + free.

I enjoyed putting all of my energy towards the table (i.e. fairy finger food, 2 cakes, light decorations, + one homemade favor--lace crowns).

 

Uncomplicated Fairy food:

Pixie Dust Popcorn (got the idea from Pinterest)

Vegetable + homemade ranch dip tray

Fruit kebobs

Cheddar + Turkey skewers

Mom's famous cheese ball + crackers

 

When you are overcoming being a perfectionist, it is quite enjoyable to have one detail to really put your heart and work into.  NO OTHER DISTRACTIONS or tasks to get your hands on.

You can make the details as special as you'd like based on your time and planning skills.  

You can feel confident in your ONE aspect of the party prep because you can decide how detailed it is knowing that that is where all of your party energy is going.  And to nothing else.

Which leads to number 2... 

2. Delegate the "other" aspects of the party to others, specifically, your kids, a good friend, or spouse.

A tradition I have for throwing parties is really involving my kids.  

Why?

-It takes the pressure off of me to "control" everything at the party--something a recovering perfectionist needs to consciously avoid

-Let's my kids rise to the occasion and get creative--and THEY can own it

-Gives me the deserved time to watch, participate, and ENJOY the other aspects of the party.

-It helps me practice "letting go" and knowing that things can still go great without me having to run the show, all the time.

During the twins' fairy party, I turned all of the serving of the fairy food to my oldest two daughters and their friend.  They took on the role of fairy servers, carried out trays of finger foods, offered seconds, and took care of the fairies during their "tea".

The servers loved it!  The little fairy guests loved it!  And I could stand back and ENJOY.  My work was finished.  I could relax knowing someone else was confidently taking over. 

My kids were also in charge of helping set up AND running the games.

My oldest daughter was given the job of making and running the "Pin the Crown on the Fairy" game.  The guests had so much fun with her game she created!  She made the poster, painted it, found the blindfold that morning, and RAN the game with 7 little fairies.

 

The other game, musical chairs, was run by a good friend.  My husband's job of having "fairy music" ready was all set and so were the chairs.  I watched the games for a bit and began preparing at the table for cutting the cake.

Relaxed.  Fully present.  And not running around.

3. Plan well, be PREPARED, and know that you will have to be FLEXIBLE with something.  If you're prepared with that notion than you won't take yourself or the details of the party so seriously if something changes.

Rain.

Sick kids.

Ruined cake.

Etc.

The more simple my parties are, the more PREPARED I am with those simple plans, the better my parties flow.  And thankfully, because I focus on the ONE most important aspect of my party and delegate everything else, I handle mishaps, weather changes, etc., so much better.

Now that I have 5 things on my mind during a party instead of 150 I can easily problem solve and be FLEXIBLE in the moment when something arrises.  It's an incredible change for me.

 

Simplicity.  

Preparedness.  

Being flexible because I'm not overwhelmed has made all the difference in how PRESENT I now am during parties.

The biggest lesson this recovering perfectionist has learned from throwing parties is to use my precious time before + during the party where it would be most meaningful for my family and friends.  To know what "special" looks like to that person/group of people.

There will always be millions of ideas and parties on Pinterest that will make you feel less than adequate in the attempt to make every detail of your party "perfect" but none of that matters.  

Memories, love, time, and living in the moment during these special occasions are what make YOUR party a sign of your love for the people you carefully plan them for.

 

Go out + live boldly!

Soft Chocolate Chip Chickpea Blondies

I've been loving having this moist, healthy chocolate chip blondie around when less healthy options are staring me in the face.

There are a couple things I love about this recipe:

1. The list of ingredients.  Chickpeas, peanut butter, a few healthy sweeteners, no flour, and your choice of chocolate chips.  That's it.

2. These blondies can be made up in one bowl (the food processor bowl) and thrown in the oven in literally minutes.

3. They are low carb, vegan, dairy-free + sugar-free (based on your choice of chips), and an awesome alternative to sugary blondies.  

4. They are soft, moist and gooey in the center!  

5.  These are awesome treats to make for your kids if you're trying to wean them from sugary treats, for after a workout, or bagged up for your purse to enjoy at a social outing when you want to control what you're eating.  (Check out the nutritional facts in the recipe below!)

(Recipe adapted from Ambitious Kitchen's blondies.)

Soft Chocolate Chip Chickpea Blondies

I'd love to hear what you think of this recipe.  I served these squares of blondies to the kids along side some whole milk plain yogurt for breakfast.

 

Don't be afraid to EAT the way you WANT to eat--it just means being prepared with healthy alternatives in your home and for when you're out and about and sugary-cravings or less nutritious options tempt you.   

Be HEALTHY for you.  Help your kids be healthy.  And LIVE BOLDLY.

 

Nicole Shiffler

 

 

 

Essentials In My Gym Bag

I never had a gym bag before.

I used to walk into the gym or circuit training class with handfuls of all my "stuff" and lay it out in a pile somewhere.  

Once I got my act together and realized that forgetting some of my workout essentials was affecting my performance, I decided to finally resolve my lack of organization.

I found this small Kavu Keepalong Bag to make my life easier without being unnecessarily big.  

Here are the best workout/performance items that now are a must for me...

NUUN Electrolyte Enhanced Drink Tabs

These are the coolest tablets for hydration!  (They also alleviate cramps + increase muscle function.)  I love that they are low sugar (less than one carb), no artificial sweetener or coloring.  

These tablets are awesome for running, biking, swimming, and any high energy activity.  I just keep one flavor tube in my bag at a time which keeps my hydration nice + lightweight.

Halfway through my lifting + circuit training workouts, I drop a tablet into my water bottle, wait for it to dissolve, and drink.  It totally replenishes me when I need it.  (And is absolutely essential being pregnant since pregnant women become dehydrated + lose electrolytes at triple the rate of other women.)  And they taste great without being super sugary.

(I get these regularly with a discounted price through Amazon's Subscribe + Save program.)

My beloved jump rope.

I have gone through many jump ropes in my lifetime.  I recently discovered this excellent cable speed rope by Amsana that is very reasonably priced ($10.50).  You adjust it when it arrives in the mail to your height and preference and it comes with it's own little tote.  

This cable speed rope is very durable , simple in its design + comes in many colors.

I used to warm up or cool down by doing HIIT jump rope.  Now that I've got a baby bump, I warm up at the gym on a stationary bike.  (Can't wait to be able to jump rope in the fall!)

 

In the small pockets:

-Car keys + both gym tags

-Back up hair elastic + bobby pins

-Lip balm (I love Young Living's Natural Cinnamint essential oil lip balm)

-Natural hand sanitizer (I like Young Living's Thieves Spray--I spray my hands once + rub them clean instead of using anti-bacterial gel)

Nordic Lifting's Wrist Wraps + Lifting Straps

I can't imagine lifting weights without wrist wraps + lifting straps. 

I use the wrist wraps when I'm working my upperbody + back.  It's much easier to grip dumbbells + more secure to do bench presses when my wrists are supported tightly.  

I use my lifting straps to secure my hands to the bar when I do deadlifts + when I do wide grip + narrow grip pull-downs. When my grip begins to fail first in these particular lifts the straps take the pressure off of my slipping grip + bind me to the bar so it's much easier to finish each rep.

I LOVE these aids in lifting weights more comfortably + safely.

Last bits + pieces:

-My phone (sometimes I listen to a book through Audible, other times I review motivating notes taken from those books)

-simple phone armband (I go in seasons whether or not I have something I'm listening to or just doing my workout routine with my own thoughts)

-small notebook + pen (My best ideas seem to come in those early morning hours when I'm in my own world at the gym.  I always have thoughts + ideas I don't want to forget.  Here's my simple mini notebook tutorial if you want to make your own.)

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There's my little packed gym bag.  I bring my big water bottle along with me everywhere and so it always accompanies the tote.

I definitely make the most of my time growing a healthy body with the physical, intellectual, + emotional needs taken care of in one small tote.  

You can create the IDEAL experience when you are running, hiking, doing yoga, etc., as well from being prepared with the tools for growing every part of yourself.

Go out + live boldly!

right now

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Hello friends.

It's been a while, hasn't it?

First off, I'm so happy to announce a little baby joining our family in late summer!  We are thrilled.  My guess is it's a boy with how I've felt this pregnancy but every time I see baby girl clothes I hope it's a girl.

(So much more of that adventure to share soon.)

One of my biggest adventures this year will be launched next week!  As you've noticed, I am in this space less and more active through my Instagram account during the process of the online shift.  Feel free to follow me on IG for more recipes, inspiration, + tidbits of my life @nshiffler--it's the best way to connect.

I hope you readers are finding a way to make your own path through this new year.  I hope you are problem solving, creating, overcoming, mastering, and achieving what really matters to you RIGHT NOW.

So excited to be back with you in a brand new space.  I have some really exciting things coming next week!!!

love,

the sleepy time gal

january + circumstances

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IMG_6320 Good morning!

We are still anxiously awaiting the first snow of the season.

And while we wait there are things to build, looms to prepare, days to begin planning again, and the crisp air keeping us pleasantly happy indoors.

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I am feeling better on most days, learning from daily practice to listen to my body and my mood.  With new goals for my family I'm changing my morning routine quite a bit to make the circumstances I want most.  (More on that later.)

I'm working to live by this empowering concept:

“People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.”

George Bernard Shaw

 

Ask yourself at the beginning of this new year: What circumstances are you wanting in your life?  How can you make those circumstances this year so there are no excuses keeping you from what you want most?

 

Make this your most incredible year, friends.

 

Go out + live boldly!

 

the sleepy time gal

red + green

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{Trying a sugar-free, gluten-free version of one of my mom's traditional Christmas cookies: Russian Teacakes--this recipe turned out awesome!}

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{Sticker gift tags for our Christmas fabric wrapping}

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{Decorating gingerbread houses with our dear friend (who makes + assembles ALL of the houses ahead of time!)}

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{Finale Nutcracker roses for my four performers--so proud of them!}

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{Feeling very blessed with 5 happy, healthy kids.  Even if Rowan wants nothing to do with the camera. ;)}

 

Merry Christmas to you all, friends!  

the sleepy time gal

christmas healing...

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I'm feeling grateful for the little things in my life today.

December has been difficult for me.  What I thought were visual difficulties this fall (which is why I went in for glasses) have turned into constant eye/brain discord.  After bouts of vertigo, ongoing motion sickness, and what looks to be neuro ocular vestibular dysfunction, I have felt the exact opposite of peace and hope this Christmas season.

This morning, while Olive jumps on my lap to be petted and thoughts of the recent Nutcracker season are now only memories, I'm excited to just BE today.  I may get to bake gingerbread cookies with my kids or I may need to rest.  I may get to do some shopping or not.  I've seeing my days and moments in my days for what they are.

After letting go of my initial bitterness and trading it in for humility, I have been given exactly what I've craved: amazing strength in the moments when I need it most.  I'm reminded through singing around our piano of the Savior's birth why he came to earth and how I so need Him in my life now.  It really is the magic of Christmas, isn't it?   Not the tangible but the intangible.  The gift of the Redeemer's love, healing, forgiveness, grace, hope, and peace.  The promise that we can find healing, physically and emotionally, in this life.

I am feeling very much taken care of at the moment.  And that is all I wanted for myself this Christmas.

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the sleepy time gal

being flexible...

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IMG_6162 As you may have noticed on Instagram, I have four daughters in the Nutcracker this year.  FOUR!

It's been an incredible experience for my twins as they now get to do and be a part of everything they've watched their older sisters do.  Our first full week of rehearsals and performances is behind us and this week we prepare to move the ballet to the historic Hershey Theatre.

I always forget how busy life is in December with just a few kids in the Nutcracker so as you can imagine, four dancers has totally changed our December flow of activities.

For that reason, we've had to choose the most important things on our list of activities, how to use our non-Nutcracker time, and family time before Christmas.

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Being flexible.

It's a phrase that is so good for me to apply in my life but, simultaneously, is so difficult to accept being a recovering "perfectionist".  It's tempting to believe that if you are flexible, you've somehow given up on what you really want.  Succumbed to less than you deserve.

One of the books I love to listen to when I need a lift is [amazon_link id="0671791540" target="_blank" ]Awaken the Giant Within[/amazon_link] by Tony Robbins.  Tony says,

"Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach."

This past year I've tried really hard to live by this quotation.  When I apply this to my life in its many categories, amazing things happen.  I may try something different in my approach to a personal goal I have.  Remove the stress I feel towards a task by adjusting how to do it.  Simplify a task.  Completely remove a task or activity if necessary.  Overall, I stop being obsessed with the "perfect approach" and focus on the overall goal.  I then outline steps towards the goal on paper that are best based on my current situation or circumstances.  It's about pulling away from "the perfect way" to discover the "best way" based on my current  circumstances.

There are a million good things I could do with my 24 hours a day this time of year.  I've decided to keep my priorities of clean ballet clothes, packed dinners, hours to do girls' angel curls, down time for me and my kids to unwind between rehearsals, and most of all, NOT RUSHING to be the foremost on our list.  I feel more peaceful about the season then if I would make myself feel pressure to "do it all".  It is a conscious decision I have to make daily, often hourly.

 

This morning we will be doing some Christmas baking and getting ready for our Homeschooling Christmas party that's tomorrow.  It will be a very simple party as that's the name of the game this particular season.  And the things that are super important to me (like sewing something special for each of my kids for Christmas) is on hold for a bit.  I am choosing to be flexible with the timing.  I know that many things (like shopping) won't happen until days before Christmas (once Nutcracker is over).  And I'm choosing to be okay with that.  As my girls hear me say often, "Focus on one thing at a time."

 

How about you?  What goals/activities do you choose to be flexible in their approach, to maintain peacefulness?

the sleepy time gal

 

give the "love of learning" for christmas

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Give the Love of Learning With our approach to homeschooling, creating a naturally-inspiring environment to learn is key.  Having supplies, books, and necessary tools that lead a child's curiosity to engaged, child-led learning is the goal in our house.

With that being said, Christmas time is so exciting for me as the mother and mentor to my children in finding them gifts that will inspire and further encourage their love of learning.  (It's amazing to see how different each of my children's interests, skills, and passions for life are compared to each other.  It makes the "gifting" process so personalized and special!)

Here are 3 ideas to help you kick-start gift buying/making to INSPIRE the real "love of learning" for your child now and for the upcoming year...

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  1. Pay attention to what your child is truly passionate about right now. It may be the sciences, art history, engineering, animals, architecture, gardening, magic, rocks, poetry, etc.  Take an extra 10 minutes per child to dig deeper in researching gift ideas for your child in facilitating their "love of learning" through books, toys, tools, or supplies online or elsewhere.

I love For Small Hands online shop for Montessori style tools and supplies from woodworking supplies to beginner science tools for kids.  I also like MindWare and Nova Naturals.

I also like regularly adding to Amazon wishlists I have for each of my kids: if I find a great book, toy, or supply of interest to them throughout the year I simply add it to their ongoing list.  It makes it handy when its time to order gifts for birthdays and Christmas.

    2. Start the tradition of giving an in-depth book/encyclopedia/guide book based on your child's current passion/interest each Christmas.  Do a little research and I promise you can find a book/guide based on their interest.  Do they love the engineering behind building with Legos?  This is an amazing book called [amazon_link id="0763669903" target="_blank" ]The Story of Buildings: From the Pyramids to the Sydney Opera House and Beyond[/amazon_link] that would be perfect for the Lego-engineering child for example.

[amazon_image id="0763669903" link="true" target="_blank" size="medium" ]The Story of Buildings: From the Pyramids to the Sydney Opera House and Beyond[/amazon_image]

I'm thrilled about this year's book selections for each of my girls.  [amazon_link id="1579128955" target="_blank" ]The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe[/amazon_link]

[amazon_image id="1579128955" link="true" target="_blank" size="medium" ]Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe[/amazon_image] For my 6 year old who asks daily what everything around her is made of and is beginning to take interest in the periodic table.

[amazon_link id="0756667526" target="_blank" ]Natural History[/amazon_link]

[amazon_image id="0756667526" link="true" target="_blank" size="medium" ]Natural History (Smithsonian)[/amazon_image] For my other 6 year old who collects and examines mushrooms, wildflowers, bark, and bugs.

[amazon_link id="1465414177" target="_blank" ]Knowledge Encyclopedia[/amazon_link]

[amazon_image id="1465414177" link="true" target="_blank" size="medium" ]Knowledge Encyclopedia[/amazon_image] For my 10 year old who, like her Daddy, loves facts and equally has the memory to remember them all.

[amazon_link id="1465419683" target="_blank" ]Ocean[/amazon_link]

[amazon_image id="1465419683" link="true" target="_blank" size="medium" ]Ocean[/amazon_image] For my 8 year old oceanographer who can't wait to be in a shark cage some day and scuba dive.

3. Think outside of the box and make a meaningful, personal, "love of learning" gift based on your child's current interests.

Some of my favorite simple "love of learning" gifts for my children have been:

 

Find one or two gifts that will ignite the already existing passion your child has towards a specific topic.  And watch how much more your gift will give throughout the year in inspiring their incredible, innate desire to learn more. 

 

Go out + live boldly.

 

the sleepy time gal

 

making...

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{Caroline's adorable apple pie salt dough ornament}

This is by far the girls' and my favorite time of year because we love to make and create the entire month.  Nutcracker rehearsals become later and longer next week so this has been our week to kick off our creations.

Here's a little of what's brewing in our house this week...

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{Huge batch of our favorite homemade granola (variety of nuts, seeds, shredded coconut, melted coconut oil, vanilla, salt, stevia, Vitafiber, and blackstrap molasses) for "cereal" with milk + cream, as a yogurt topping, and for trail mix with freeze dried berries}

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{Salt dough (1 cup salt, 2 cups flour, 1 cup water) ornaments that we made, baked for an hour at 250 degrees, painted with watercolors, and glazed with Modge Podge}

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{Making an old recipe with the addition of a new ingredient--raw ivory shea butter--for my family + gift giving}

Are you creating/making something for the holidays?  

Or maybe dreaming of something you're itching to get around to for Christmas?? I'd love to hear!

the sleepy time gal