Families With Grace

Helping Christian moms create homes filled with grace, love & faith

How to be a calmer parent

8 tried-and-true strategies for being a calm parent

Nobody goes into parenthood thinking how irritated and grumpy they’ll be. We have visions of being a calm parent. But then the baby is born. You add up no sleep, a huge adjustment to taking complete care of another person and the pressure you feel on all sides and all calmness goes flying right out the window. And that’s just the early days! Parenthood is a hard gig. If anyone tells you it isn’t, they either aren’t a parent or they’re flat-out lying!

Being a calm parent is challenging, even for naturally calm folks. I think I’m a pretty naturally calm person. I don’t get angry easily. My husband is the same way. But parenthood definitely puts that to the test. We’ve failed and messed up. However, in the past 12-1/2 years of parenting, I’ve learned a few strategies that help me be a calmer parent.

1. Pray about it.

Everything starts with prayer, right? Well, at least it should. Sometimes we get off track and try to do things on our own first. It never works out so well. Even being a calm parent is something we can ask God to help us with. He blessed us with these children. He knows their hearts and our hearts. Our Father knows our challenges and struggles. He is just waiting to help us!

You can literally pray before you start the day for God to help you be a calm parent that day. I pray that God helps me to be the mom my children need each day. Calmness is included in there!

Praying in the moment is also important. I can’t say that I do this every time my irritation starts forming, but I try to pray in the moment as often as possible. Sometimes it’s just a short, “God help me to deal with this,” prayer. A bonus to that is in the time it takes me to pause for a few seconds to pray, it also breaks the momentum of my irritation.

2. Listen to the right music.

Music is powerful. I’ve shared a few times the difference that music makes in my life. The right music helps me to be a calm parent. That might sound a bit lame, but it’s true! My go-to music is contemporary Christian music. (If that’s your jam, too, check out the free Families with Grace playlist on Spotify.) Or maybe you enjoy hymns. Maybe country gospel music speaks to your heart. (I truly love all three types of music I’ve mentioned!) Whatever it is, listen to something that calms you and helps you focus on God.

In the car after school, I usually have Air1 Radio or The Message on Sirius XM playing. My kids can sing along to almost every song that comes on. When they were younger, I’d leave the kitchen radio turned on almost all the time to Christian radio. It’s really difficult to yell at or lose patience with your children when you are singing or humming along to Christian music.

Even now, I listen to it while I work most of the time. (For articles that require more concentration, I usually switch to classical.) Then even when I’m not listening to music, the songs are still running through my head. It helps me be a calmer parent.

3. Remind yourself how old your kids are.

Have your ever gotten mad at your child for acting their age? I sure have! We definitely have to teach our children how to grow and behave, but we also need to understand what they are truly capable of. For example, I’d love to tell my 9-year-old to go organize his room. But he still needs some guidance. He knows toys can’t be all over the floor and that dirty clothes go to the laundry room. However, he is 9. He also needs specific instructions for where to put some toys or reminders of the organization we helped him create for them.

My 12-year-old is mature for her age and always has been. Sometimes I have moments that I start to get irritated with her for doing something irresponsible and then I remember, she’s 12. It calms me down. I know that she is still learning. Expecting our children to act more responsible than they are able to be is only asking for trouble. We can remain a calm parent when we stop before we snap at them and remember their age.

Remembering their age helps me switch from anger and irritation to teaching mode. That’s what my kids need most anyway. Our kids need us to take time to teach them rather than just get upset with them for not doing something correctly.

4. Set reasonable expectations for your children.

I get frustrated by people who don’t do their jobs well. We’ve all had times when we had to do a task we shouldn’t have had to do because someone slacked off. When someone doesn’t do the job we expect them to do, it is incredibly frustrating.

The same is true with our kids. When we set expectations for what we’ve asked them to do, we get frustrated when they don’t follow through. Sometimes it is completely their fault, and they didn’t do what they are fully capable of doing. Those times, they need to have consequences. Other times, though, we expect them to do a better job than they are able to do. Before we start getting upset we need to be sure we have reasonable expectations for what our children can and should be able to do.

Over the weekend, my kids were working together to clean up after dinner like I had asked them to. My youngest didn’t complete his task completely. My daughter started to just sigh and do it for him. I stopped her and we showed him how to complete the task. It was a win-win, because now he knows how to do the task and we can expect he can do it in the future. And nobody got upset in the process.

5. Take a breather.

It’d be nice to say that if you use these strategies you will always be a calm parent. But that’s not true, because you’re human and so are your children. Some days are hard when you’re exhausted and your children seem to find every button you have and push it over and over and over and over. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is take a breather.

If your children are babies or toddlers, this may mean just putting them in their crib for 5 minutes while you go to another room and just pause. (Been there, done that!) If you have preschoolers, this may mean you sit them down with a 20-minute show and you don’t interact. For older kids, you can send them to their rooms or tell them you need time alone for a few minutes.

I’ve sometimes taken an extra couple of minutes switching out or hanging up laundry just for a breather. Taking a couple of minutes away from the moment can help you calm down. Add in some deep breathing and prayer time and it works even better.

6. Ask for help.

You weren’t made to parent alone. Asking for help is OK. I was fortunate when my children were small that both my parents and in-laws lived within a few minutes of us and loved having time with grandkids. I utilized that help. If you don’t have that, maybe you have a friend you could trade off babysitting with.

Don’t forget to ask your spouse for help as well. Nope. It shouldn’t be the case that one of you is “helping” the other when you’re both in this together. But at the same time, your spouse doesn’t know what you need without you asking. Sometimes my husband has noticed my need for time away before I have. He’ll encourage me to go to our room or leave the house or whatever I need to do to regroup. Other times, I ask him to take over so I can have a minute. The same has been true in reverse.

Sometimes to be a calm parent, you have to ask for help and get away from it all — even just for 20 minutes in the shower alone. Other times to be a calm parent, you need someone to take items off your to-do list and fold the two loads of laundry sitting by the dryer. Just ask!

7. Try to embrace an attitude of gratitude.

Nothing impedes our calmness like getting angry with our family. Sometimes we get angry because of all we have to do for them that they don’t seem to appreciate. I’ve struggled with this before and still do from time to time. Have you ever had a thought starting with “Why does nobody else around here ever….?” Then you know what I’m talking about.

Yes, our families need to pull their weight. We shouldn’t let chores go undone or do them all ourselves. However, shifting our perspective helps alleviate anger and, in turn, makes us a calmer parent. For example, as you’re conquering that ever-growing pile or laundry, take a moment to thank God for the family you have who wear those clothes. Start adding in other things, too, like thanking Him for the clothes themselves and the ability to wash them in a washing machine.

It may be cliché, but once we start counting our blessings, we calm down. Our attitude shifts and we are more at peace.

8. Apologize when you lose your cool.

Chances are really good that you aren’t going to be a calm parent all the time. I’m certainly not. Sometimes our children need us to not be calm to get a point across. Other times, they don’t deserve our wrath. And it’s those times that we need to go back to our children and apologize. It’s a learning moment for our kids and helps us remember the lesson we learned as well.

Our children learn nobody is perfect, how to apologize when we mess up and that love covers it all. We have a memorable moment in feeling bad about acting out of anger so we are more likely to stop ourselves before doing so again. Simply saying “I’m sorry for how I reacted” goes a long way.

Find more resources to help you be a calm parent in these posts as well:

Meal kit review: Dinnerly

A series of unsponsored meal kit reviews and comparisons

A few months ago, my daughter made a case for us to try meal kits. I wasn’t so sure at first. Whenever I had checked into them previously, they seemed expensive and didn’t have a lot of recipes we would actually like. I have two particular eaters in my household, and we’re pretty plain eating folks. But, I decided to check into it again and found there were many more options, so I decided we’d give meal kits a try. I started with one company, but I was anxious to do a meal kit comparison and see what we’d like most.

So after about five meal kit boxes from one provider, I paused my account and changed to another. I just wanted to see the difference. At the same time, there was a third one I was curious about as well. I figured all this trying would end up being a great meal kit comparison to share!

Before ordering, I tried looking at meal kit comparisons, but most of them seemed to include affiliate links or sponsorships with the companies. I am not affiliated with or sponsored by any of these meal kit companies. When I started writing this meal kit comparison, in fact, I had no idea which service I’d end up liking the most — if any of them. I didn’t even intend to make it a blog post!

Then, once I decided to make it a blog post, I thought it’d be just one post. Pretty quickly, I realized that I needed more than one post to include all the information to make a helpful comparison. Over the next few weeks, I’m posting our experiences with Dinnerly, Hello Fresh, Home Chef, Every Plate and EMeals.

Dinnerly

Dinnerly was the first meal kit we tried. It seemed like decent prices and had a variety of options we could make work. I signed my family of four up for the 4-person plan of three meals a week. Three meals a week was the smallest amount Dinnerly allows.

Menu choices

I was pretty impressed with the Dinnerly menu choices, because I could find a good amount of meals that would work for our family. My husband and son are not big on eating meat and can be a bit particular. Usually, I would go for two of the three meals to work for all four of us and have one that I’d make an easy alternative for the guys.

I also was able to modify some recipes to fit our preferences. For example, when I made pasta with meat sauce, I used half the amount of ground beef the recipe called for, because that’s what our family likes. I froze the remaining half easily since it came is 1/2-pound sealed packages. Another time I got chicken tostadas to make and used some of my own ground beef to give my guys an option, since they don’t like chicken.

Overall, the Dinnerly recipes had a decent selection whether you are big meat eaters or not. We only had two recipes we didn’t care for. One was for a breakfast casserole, which was a miss because of the scrambled eggs that much of my family doesn’t like (not Dinnerly’s fault). The other was a miss because I tried gnocchi for us. None of us had ever had it; none of us cared for it (probably not Dinnerly’s fault either).

There were a couple of weeks that not much looked good to me, so I skipped the week, which was easy to do. Dinnerly also has a feature to allow you to pause your service rather than cancel, which is what I did for this meal kit comparison.

The cost

Shipping for each box was $8.99. The meals were $22.36 each for four servings. I had some discounts for being a new subscriber to help offset the cost, but without them, the cost was $76.07 for three meals a week for four people. Discounts are applied over multiple weeks, so you get a smaller amount off of a few orders rather than a larger amount of one order.

Shipping

Starting off with the first shipment, things went a bit awry. Our box didn’t arrive on the day it was supposed to. I contacted customer support who assured me it should show up the following day and still be cold. I was dubious, to say the least. The box didn’t eventually show up and it was cold enough.

Every week, the box was delivered around 6 p.m., which is late for deliveries in my neighborhood. And because we eat dinner around 5 or 5:30 p.m. most weeknights, it meant that I couldn’t plan a Dinnerly meal for delivery day. I still don’t know the delivery service used, because it was very vague in the app. The one time I saw the truck deliver the box, it was an unmarked box truck.

Ingredients

The ingredients were fresh, though, and of good quality. We had one bunch of green onions one time out of the four kits we got that were pretty wilted, but it was also winter in the Midwest. So I didn’t hold that too much against them. Everything was pre-portioned. All items came in one big box that I then would divide up what I needed when cooking. Things like sour cream, for example, came in 2-ounce tubes that I would use a certain number of per recipe.

Cooking the meals

My biggest gripe with cooking from Dinnerly is that the estimated times were much less than actual. If a meal said it took 20 minutes to make, it usually took more like 30 or 40. I’m not sure if the times were from a professional chef or what. I’m not a complete novice in the kitchen, but I’m certainly no professional.

The recipes were available in the app or through my online account. I used the app because having my phone in the kitchen was easier. I still wasn’t crazy about having to use my technology where I was cooking, though. Later, I discovered that if I open the recipes on my computer then I could print out recipes cards, which I much preferred.

I also found that we needed some kitchen tools I didn’t have on hand and had to look up work arounds for. Using a handheld grater was the most common one. I did end up buying one of those. Another time, I needed a meat mallet tenderizer and didn’t have one (we really don’t eat much meat).

I like to look at recipes ahead of time to get an overview of the steps so I know what’s coming. The first time I cooked with Dinnerly, I didn’t do that, but I learned after that to swipe ahead and see all the steps before I started then I could go back. Sometimes the directions for the steps were a big vague. I’m a recipe-follower and like very specific instructions, though.

Portion sizes

We almost always had leftovers. Dinnerly has decent portion sizes for sure. In fact, we contemplated switching our plan to a two-person plan. But we found that most things froze well, and we ate the leftovers.

Overall rating

Overall, Dinnerly was a pretty good fit for our family. I’d give it 4 out of 5 stars. I don’t like that three meals a week were the smallest amount we could use. Of all the meal kits I compared, this one also had the worst shipping and tracking.

Other posts from this series:

Book review: “The Bible Food Truck”

Take your family on a fun, food truck adventure with God!

Affiliate links are used in this post, if you make a qualifying purchase via my link, I receive a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products and services I use and love. It helps support my blog, so thank you for your support! Read my full disclosure here. I was given a free copy of the book “The Bible Food Truck” to review; all opinions are my own.

I love food, God and books. Something that combines all three makes this mama happy! “The Bible Food Truck” by Vanessa Myers does just that. I’m excited to not only be part of the blog tour promoting this, but to also review the book and give away a copy! Super exciting stuff!

I first connected with Vanessa through a Christian blogger group back in 2019 when I shared about her family devotion book, “Breakfast with Jesus.” This time I am partnering with her again to tell you about her latest family devotion book, “The Bible Food Truck.” She sent me a copy of the book for me to peruse ahead of time and it’s pretty great.

The theme

“The Bible Food Truck” serves up 75 food-themed devotions for kids. Myers said when she started putting the book together, she had no idea how many Bible verses talked about food! While she didn’t cover them all, the book works its way from the Old Testament to the New Testament. Each devotion has a focus verse, called “God’s Daily Special,” that talks about food.

The devotions are done well for families. Food might be the underlying theme, but God is the overall focus. And that’s just what a family devotion book should be.

Devotion details

Each devotion has a focus verse and also suggested further reading in the Bible. Then “The Bible Food Truck” talks about the passage in a fun, child-centered way. Myers gives facts and information kids will love while also bringing the focus always around to God. The devotions are a good length — neither too short nor too long.

A “Faith To-Go” section is part of each devotion as well. I love these practical suggestions for ways kids can serve God, tell others about Him and grow in their faith.

As a mom of two and long-time children’s ministry director, Myers knows children learn well being hands-on. So throughout “The Bible Food Truck,” children complete various tasks to create their own food truck idea by the time they make it to the end. They think about what they’d serve, to whom, the name of their food truck, the Bible verse to represent their food truck, what their logo would be and much more. It’s a fun and creative way to get kids involved and excited.

Get your own copy

Whether you want to go through “The Bible Food Truck” as a family or let an older child go through it solo, you’ll want to pick up your own copy. The book is for sale exclusively on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback formats. Bulk pricing options are also available for children’s ministry groups.

You can also enter for a chance to win your own copy of “The Bible Food Truck” now through 12 a.m. EST on April 5, 2022. I know! It’s exciting!

To enter, you MUST “like and follow” Families with Grace on Facebook. You can earn up to two extra entries by following Families with Grace on Pinterest and signing up for the Families with Grace email list. You don’t have to be new to Families with Grace to qualify. Just complete the form.

I will announce the winner on Facebook and Instagram on April 5, 2022 at 2 p.m. EST. The winner will receive the book through postal mail. It is open to residents of the United States only. Enter here or scroll down and click the button to enter through the Rafflecopter website.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Connect with the author

Vanessa Myers is passionate about teaching God’s Word to children. She loves writing books for kids as well as blogging about children’s ministry. Her website has more information about her, including links to other resources from her, that are designed to equip families on their faith journeys.

Head over to Dede Reilly’s website on April 4 to find the next stop on “The Bible Food Truck” blog tour!

10 Nail wrap tips and tricks

Tried and true nail wrap tips to keep your nails looking good longer!

Affiliate links are used in this post, if you make a qualifying purchase via my link, I receive a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products and services I use and love. It helps support my blog, so thank you for your support! Read my full disclosure here.

A couple of years ago, I tried nail wraps for the first time. While I really liked them, I also found them too pricey to be a regular thing. But a few months later, I found all sorts of all nail wrap brands that were much more affordable. Thus began my nail wrap journey. Now nail wraps are all that I wear. I LOVE them! I have also learned some nail wrap tips and tricks along the way I’m excited to share with you.

(Also, I have zero affiliation with any of the nail wrap companies or brands. Nada. My only affiliate links are for related products on Amazon. )

Nail wraps 101

Nail wraps are like stickers made of nail polish that you put on your fingernails and/or toenails in place of wet nail polish. They come in all sorts of colors, designs and themes. While I have used nail wraps that sell through representatives, I don’t like them as much. They’re too expensive, and they are flimsier than the other nails I find for MUCH cheaper.

I’ve got a few favorite nail wrap vendors that I love. The nails average around $3 per set, but there are some cheaper and a few more expensive. None are more than $6, though! Here are links to a few of my favorites that I highly recommend (none of these are affiliate links):

The Flamingo Lady Nails offers free shipping on orders over $20. Shipping otherwise is usually just a couple of dollars. The Flamingo Lady Nails usually sends an extra set or two of nails along with some other little treats like a plastic flamingo and stickers.

Lily and Fox Nails has free shipping to the United States and Canada regardless of order size. Lily and Fox also usually sends along an extra set of nails as well. Each order comes with a personalized note and origami fox.

Lovely Hello Nails includes free shipping for orders of $15 or more. They have colorful envelopes that are personalized and has a weekly wrap for $2.

Nails Mailed offers free shipping on all orders. Its nails are a bit pricier at usually $5.49 a set, but each week has three nails of the week on sale for $2.74. Since they do all free shipping, I have literally just ordered one set for $2.74 and had them sent.

Pink Raindrop Nails has free shipping for orders $25 or more. This site is a blend of prices. You can get sets for 99-cents. These sets don’t stay on quite as well, but with the right base coat, they last at least a few days. (More about that to come!) My favorites from this shop, though, are the pricier $3.49 to $4.99 sets that include pop culture themes such as superheroes, movies and video games!

Tip 1: Use nail polish remover on your nails before applying your nail wraps.

This nail wrap tip is one I discovered more recently. Even if you don’t have nail polish on your fingernails, swiping over your nails with nail polish remover takes off some of the natural oils. Honestly, I use an acetone nail polish remover. If you take your wraps off with nail polish remover, the acetone will work best. Either way, a swipe over your nails with nail polish remover helps prep them for the nail wraps. But you MUST wash your hands afterward.

Tip 2: Wash your hands with dish soap.

After you have cleaned your nails off with nail polish remover, try washing your hands with dish soap, especially Dawn dish soap. It’s good for everything from laundry to nails! My nails do fine washing them with regular hand soap, but my daughter’s nails have more natural oils on them. Washing with Dawn dish soap helps wraps stay on better for her. If you aren’t sure, give it a try. The worst that happens is you end up with extra Dawn for cleaning!

Tip 3: Buff your nails.

While I’ve loved doing my nails for years, I never buffed them. Then my husband ended up with extra buffing blocks from a project he was working on and gave me one. I gave it a try and now I use it often before putting on nail wraps. Gently buffing your nails is a good way to prep them for the wraps and helps remove some of the oils. I do a light buffing before applying the basecoat.

Tip 4: Use a basecoat.

When I first started using nail wraps, I didn’t think about combining wet polish with the wraps. Then I learned that a basecoat can not only help the wraps stay on longer but also protect your nails. I love the Orly Bonder Rubberized base coat. I apply it to my nails after they are cleaned and buffed then wait a couple of minutes before putting on the wraps.

Another bonus I’ve found with the basecoat is that they protect my nails well enough that I can peel off my wraps slowly and carefully when I’m ready to change them without them hurting my nails.

Tip 5: Use a topcoat.

If one of my nail wrap tips is to use a basecoat, you probably aren’t surprised that another one is to use a topcoat! Once your wraps are applied and filed, swipe over them with a topcoat. I love Zoya Armor topcoat, but pretty much any topcoat will work. Basically the topcoat just helps seal the wraps and they stay on longer.

Tip 6: Buy a glass nail file.

For years, I heard about how great glass nail files were. But I didn’t try one until a couple of months ago. It was worth the hype, you guys. I ordered a pack of three glass nail files on Amazon. They are different than cardboard or metal nail files in that they file more gently. (I know that sounds weird!) What’s nice is that the gentler file edge works to help you get rid of the excess nail wraps without tearing the nail wrap. I’d definitely recommend giving them a try!

Tip 7: Place the nail wrap above your cuticle.

When you’re placing your nail wraps, place them slightly above your cuticle. You want the wrap to adhere directly to your nail itself. To help with this, I push back and remove excess cuticles before doing my wraps. I do this just before applying the basecoat.

You also want to make sure the wrap isn’t hanging over onto your skin. If it is, trim it with nail scissors. A tiny bit hanging over isn’t such a big deal, but I still make sure to push it down as much as I can so that it isn’t on my skin. This also gets easier the more you use nail wraps and figure out what size works best for each of your nails.

Tip 8: Use nail scissors or clippers for trimming the wraps.

After I put the nail wraps on my nails, I trim them with nail scissors or nail clippers before filing them down. I don’t try to trim them right to the end of my nail. I don’t think that would work. But I trim them down so I have just a small amount to file off. I prefer nail scissors for my fingers and nail clippers for my toes.

Tip 9: Apply your wraps at night.

This is one of my very top nail wrap tips. Nail wraps do best when they have time to “cure.” If you apply them at night before going to bed, then you’re going to go hours without getting them wet or doing anything else to do them. They have more time to set and adhere. I promise this works!

I do my nail wraps after the kids are in their rooms for bedtime and before I go to bed. Usually I sit on the couch with my lap desk and do them while my husband and I watch something on TV. Then I only need to wash my hands once after I use the restroom before bed. They have all night to set.

Tip 10: Don’t put lotion on your hands afterward.

While I would wait and do my nails before bed, I noticed that if I put lotion on my hands before going to bed, as I often so, it affects my wraps. So I wait about putting lotion on my hands until at least 12 hours after putting on new nail wraps.

Microwave scrambled egg recipes

5 Easy egg recipes you can make in your microwave!

Since the pandemic, my daughter and I have been experimenting with microwave egg recipes. We both have our own versions we prefer and we have some that are basic as well. Years ago, I knew you could cook an egg in the microwave and then I forgot. But now it’s something I do regularly.

It’s so easy and takes only a couple of minutes that it makes for a good breakfast, lunch or dinner. Eggs can be cooked so many ways that you really can do almost anything with them. Aside from eating them how I prepare them with a side of toast, I also love egg sandwiches. I use one or two plain scrambled eggs on bread (toasted or plain) with some mayo. Delish!

Basic microwave scrambled eggs

The most basic of all microwave egg recipes is the scrambled eggs. It’s straightforward and a great place to start before you start experimenting with other flavors. (Find a printable version of this recipe below, because almost all the other microwave egg recipes use these same steps.)

For scrambled microwave eggs, you need two bowls to start with. Make sure that one is microwave safe. You’ll also need non-stick cooking spray, cooking oil or a small bit butter and, of course, eggs! You can use a whisk or a fork. I’m a fork fan, but my daughter loves the whisk.

Next, spray your microwave-safe bowl with non-stick cooking spray, spread a small amount of cooking oil in the bowl or rub butter on its inside surface. I use non-stick cooking spray and am generous with it so I don’t get any egg sticking to my bowl.

In your clean bowl, crack one or two eggs. (You can do more at a time, but you’ll need a larger bowl and more microwave time.) Discard the shells and start stirring to get the egg yolk broken up and incorporated. If you like to add a splash of milk into your eggs, you can do so. Just know that you might have to cook it a tad longer.

Once your egg is thoroughly mixed up, pour it into the prepared microwave-safe bowl. Place it in your microwave and cook on high for 50 seconds for 1 egg or 1 minute, 5 seconds for 2 eggs. Be aware that when you cook eggs like this in the microwave, they will rise outside the bowl. It looks kind of crazy and even scary, but it works!

Remove your eggs from the microwave, being careful if the bowl is hot. Immediately transfer onto a serving plate. Give them a couple of minutes to cool, so you don’t burn your mouth, and enjoy!

Microwave cheesy scrambled eggs

Microwave cheesy scrambled eggs are the one I make most often and is frequently my lunch alongside a couple slices of toast. I love eggs for the protein that really does fill me up! The other thing I like about this is I can easily add the cheese on top if I want or leave it plain. The cheese melts on its own if you put it on right out of the microwave, which is nice.

For cheesy eggs, I make the scrambled eggs exactly as described in the basic microwave scrambled eggs direction, but after I put the eggs on my plate, I sprinkle with a small amount of cheese. Since the eggs are so hot out of the microwave, the cheese melts on its own. So incredibly yummy!

Microwave Italian flavored scrambled eggs

My daughter likes to experiment with a variety of flavors. So it wasn’t a shock that she decided to play around with the microwave egg recipe. She has been on a big garlic kick, so she added some garlic and a dash of Italian seasoning into her eggs as she whisked them up, before pouring them into the microwave-safe bowl. She then continued on with the basic microwave scrambled eggs.

Microwave buttery scrambled eggs

If you cook your basic scrambled eggs with some butter lining the bowl, you’ll get some butter flavor. But to kick it up a notch, try adding some butter popcorn seasoning. We have butter seasoning for popcorn. Just a sprinkle of it into the egg before or after it’s cooked adds some yummy flavor!

Microwave mini omelette scrambled eggs

Of all the microwave egg recipes, I like this one probably the most. I see it as a treat. I love omelettes. Though I make the cheesy scrambled eggs most often, the added flavor of bacon or sausage in this version is decadent!

I like using pre-cooked bacon or sausage because it’s way easier. If I’m pulling sausage from the fridge, I stir it into the egg mixture cold and then cook it. Because I like my bacon crispy, I cook it first in the microwave and then stir it into the egg mixture to heat in the microwave.

I also stir cheese into the mixture as well before cooking and, sometimes, I still top it with some shredded cheese as well for extra cheesy goodness!

Basic scrambled microwave eggs recipe

Ingredients
  

  • 1-2 eggs
  • Non-stick cooking spray

Instructions
 

  • Get out two bowls, one of which is microwave-safe.
  • Crack your 1 or 2 eggs into the bowl that doesn't have to be microwave-safe.
  • Stir vigorously with a fork or wire whisk until scrambled.
  • Spray the microwave-safe bowl with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Pour the egg into the prepared microwave-safe bowl.
  • Place it in your microwave and cook on high for 50 seconds for 1 egg or 1 minute, 5 seconds for 2 eggs. (Be aware that when you cook eggs like this in the microwave, they will rise outside the bowl unless you use a large bowl. It looks kind of crazy and even scary, but it works!)
  • Remove your eggs from the microwave, being careful if the bowl is hot. Immediately transfer onto a serving plate. Give them a couple of minutes to cool, so you don't burn your mouth, and enjoy!

Looking for more easy, microwave foods? Check out these:

The best puppy chow recipe

An extra ingredient kicks this puppy chow recipe up a notch!

The best puppy chow recipe Pinterest image

Whether you call this a puppy chow recipe or a muddy buddy recipe, I can tell you that you’ll call it addictively delicious! Here in the Midwest, I hear it called puppy chow most often, so that’s what I’m going with. It’s one of the easiest and scrumptious recipes I make.

You can’t go wrong combining peanut butter and chocolate in any capacity, but not every puppy chow recipe is created equal. I’ve tried multiple ones through the years and have finally found the best recipe. When I made puppy chow for this post, I made a half batch since my husband doesn’t like it. (I know. He’s crazy! But he doesn’t like semi-sweet chocolate.) The very next day, I made a second half batch because we ran out. It’s just so good and hard to resist.

I’ve always liked puppy chow, but for whatever reason, it is what I’ve craved most throughout quarantine time with COVID. The good news is I’ve made it enough now to know how to best tweak it and make it yummy. The bad news is that I can’t make it too often or I’d be in a sugar coma. 🙂

The ingredients

Ingredients for the best puppy chow recipe: Rice bitz cereal, powdered sugar, peanut butter, chocolate chips, butter and vanilla extract

The ingredients are important because the wrong thing changes the taste. As you can tell from my ingredient photo, though, brands don’t matter so much. You want to make sure of a couple of things. First, use smooth peanut butter for this puppy chow recipe. Second, use rice squares instead of corn squares. I’ve used both and the rice squares taste better for this!

Not all puppy chow recipes use butter but I find it coats better and tastes better by using a bit of it. I use salted butter, but if you have unsalted, I think it’d be just fine, too, since you get some saltiness from the peanut butter as well.

Finally, my extra ingredient that doesn’t show up too often in muddy buddy recipes is vanilla extract. Trust me on this. You use just a bit and it will kick your flavors up a notch!

Preparing the puppy chow

One of the things I love most about this puppy chow recipe is that it’s quick to make and you can use the microwave. This means even my kids can make it or help me make it. I love that!

Start with putting your butter, peanut butter and chocolate chips in a large microwave-safe bowl. I use a big glass bowl so I can rinse it and put it in the dishwasher when I’m finished.

The butter, peanut butter and chocolate chips ready to go into the microwave for this puppy chow recipe

Put the bowl in the microwave and heat for 45 second and then stir. Remember that chocolate holds its shape as it melts, so you have to stir to tell how melted it is.

The butter, peanut butter and chocolate chips halfway melted for this puppy chow recipe

Continue heating in your microwave in 30 second increments, stirring after each time until it’s completed melted and runny like the photo below. Usually mine is ready after the first 30-second round.

The melted butter, peanut butter and chocolate chips for the puppy chow recipe

When it’s nice and runny, stir in the vanilla extract. Once it’s all combined, it’s time to gently fold in the rice cereal squares. For a half batch, I use about 5-1/2 cups of cereal. You want the cereal to be well coated but not too thickly covered.

Mixing the cereal into the melted concoction for this puppy chow recipe
Getting there!
Scooping out the cereal coated in the peanut butter and chocolate mixture of this puppy chow recipe with a measuring cup
Nicely coated!

Once the cereal has a nice coating of the chocolate and peanut butter mixture, it’s time to covered it in powdered sugar. I place powdered sugar in a gallon-sized zip-top bag and then pour the prepared mix on top of it. However, I do this in batches as well using about 1/2 cup per three cups of cereal mix. So for a half batch, I do this twice. For a full batch, it takes four times.

A zip-top bag with some powdered sugar for the next step of this puppy chow recipe

The zip-top bag works great for this puppy chow recipe shakedown. Once it gets too messy, it may not re-zip, but just fold the top over tightly and you’re good to go. Shake it to cover the cereal in powdered sugar. Carefully break apart clumps from the outside and make sure all the pieces are coated in powdered sugar.

The puppy chow covered in powdered sugar in the bag

Get your snack on!

That’s it! Your puppy chow is ready to munch on. Place it in an airtight container and keep it covered, but it doesn’t have to be refrigerated. For us, containers with lids work better than using a zip-top bag which can be harder to seal well once it gets powdered sugar in the track.

The finished puppy chow

Stored well, it should last for up to a week. Well, it should stay fresh for up to a week, but I’m not sure it will ever last that long. It’s too yummy. Puppy chow also makes a great gift for friends and family. I have often included it in my holiday goodies.

The finished puppy chow

The best puppy chow recipe

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 5-1/2 cups rice square cereal
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Instructions
 

  • Place the butter, chocolate chips and peanut butter in a large microwave-safe bowl.
  • Heat for 45 seconds in the microwave and then stir. Return to the microwave and heat in 30 second increments until it is fully melted and runny. (Usually a total of 75 seconds works for me.)
  • Stir in the vanilla.
  • Gently fold in the cereal until all the squares are well covered with the chocolate and peanut butter mixture.
  • Put 1/2 cup powdered sugar in a gallon-sized zip-top bag.
  • Add 3 cups of covered cereal into the bag with the powdered sugar and shake. Break up clumps of cereal from the outside and make sure all the pieces are well coated. (You can add more powdered sugar if needed.)
  • Transfer to an airtight container and enjoy!

Looking for more easy, microwave desserts? Check out these:

How anxiety and faith can co-exist

Plus 10 faith-based strategies to manage anxiety

I recently had a conversation with a loved one about anxiety and faith. We talked about whether Christians can struggle with anxiety. What does that look like? What does that say about our faith? We weren’t the first people to discuss this, and I know we surely won’t be the last. But, it did get me thinking about a message many Christians need to hear: You aren’t alone in your anxiety. Being anxious doesn’t mean you love God any less.

If you’ve been in church for any amount of time, I’m sure you’ve heard sermons and lessons on how worrying is a sin. Being anxious is a sin. Anxiety means we aren’t trusting God fully. I know what the Bible says about anxiety, but I also know that it remains a struggle for so many of us.

So, can you be a Christian and have anxiety at the same time? The short answer is absolutely! But I think we need to go a bit deeper. I don’t have all the answers or any sort of theological degree. I can only share my experiences, struggles and feelings.

The physical component of anxiety

Having some anxiety is normal and helpful. It’s helped keep humans alive for so many years because we respond to danger and take less risk. However, some of us get stuck in that mode even when no threat is apparent. That’s when we shift to an anxiety disorder.

Like other mental health conditions, anxiety often needs more intervention than just trite advice. And anxiety disorders are rampant. Statistically speaking, about 30% of adults are dealing with an anxiety disorder at any given time. That’s up nearly 10% from 20 years ago.

Statistics on how the Christian population compares to the general population in regards to anxiety disorders isn’t available. But, let’s say the Christian population does have less anxiety, we’re still talking about a minimum of 20% of adults. Meaning if you are at a church with 300 attendees on a Sunday morning, then 60 people around you are dealing with an anxiety disorder. So, quite literally, all congregations have members dealing with anxiety disorders.

However, we also must remember the physical component to anxiety. Certain health conditions can cause anxiety, including diabetes, chronic pain, heart disease and thyroid problems. Outside of other health conditions, anxiety can come from a chemical imbalance in our brains, a traumatic experience, ongoing stress or being genetically predisposed. None of those things can be controlled.

I also want to acknowledge the healing power of God here. I have seen Him do miraculous things and heal people. My firm belief is we can pray for and receive healing from anxiety. However, I also know God’s will isn’t always healing on earth. God isn’t any less faithful for not healing someone of anxiety. And it doesn’t reflect his or her faith in any way. Through my years of dealing with various chronic health conditions, I’ve learned these lessons the hard way.

What anxiety and faith look like together

A few years ago, my husband and I were discussing a difficult situation that worried us. My husband is incredibly great at compartmentalizing. He also does well with leaving his worries with God. We were talking about how we handled our worry differently. He mentioned that he trusted God would take care of the situation. I realized I didn’t completely believe that.

Let me explain. I prayed about the same situation and knew that God would work in and through it. However, I didn’t believe it would necessarily work out positively. My husband’s faith was in God’s work to resolve the problem. My faith was that no matter what happened with the outcome, God would be with me. Neither of us were wrong, but my approach certainly leaves room for anxiety.

I like to think I was just being realistic. But, I think more than anything, my perspective came from my anxiety struggles. While my husband could list off all the things that could go wrong, he was able to not fret about them because they hadn’t happened (and might never happen). On the other hand, my mind can get an a runaway anxiety train thinking of all the possible outcomes while still trusting God won’t leave me.

Logically, I know God is in control, but anxiety isn’t logical. One of my worst times of anxiety was right around when my oldest daughter was born. We went on vacation and took her with us onto a large dock with a floating restaurant. I was nearly paralyzed with anxiety because I could just see her stroller going off the dock and into the lake. In my head, that’d just be it. She’d drown. In reality, we had her nowhere near the edge. And had the stroller somehow gone in, my husband or I would have been in the water right afterward to get her to safety. But reality doesn’t often factor into anxiety.

Moving forward in faith with anxiety

Since anxiety disorders are like any other health issue, if we aren’t healed of them, then we need to figure out how to manage them and move forward in spite of them. We can move forward in both practical and spiritual ways.

1. Pray.

Everything should start with prayer, even managing anxiety and faith. You can definitely pray for healing (and I encourage you to), but you can also pray for help handling your anxiety. I do this quite often. I ask God to help me stop thinking about something I’m dwelling on. Or I pray that He helps me to know if a worry is something I need to act on or just have peace about. For example, when it’s the middle of the night and I hear a slight noise that gets my mind reeling with all the bad things it could be.

We have Biblical instruction for doing this very thing, and what I love most is that God promises us peace. While I’ve had my fair share of anxious moments that get my heart racing, I have also felt the peace of God come over and still me in the midst of it.

Related Bible verse: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

2. Find a Bible verse to comfort you.

The Bible has so many verses about the peace and comfort of God. It reminds us of His presence in our lives. Find a verse that speaks to and calms your heart. (If you don’t have one, ask God to help you find one.) Memorize it and repeat it as often as needed.

For me, that verse is Isaiah 41:10 (see below). I learned the first part of it in third grade and it has stuck with me. I’ve repeated it to myself so many times through the years in different situations and at different times. I’ve used the second part of the verse as a breath prayer. God’s Word is powerful. It truly can cast out fear!

Related Bible verse: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)

3. Listen to encouraging music.

Music can minister to us in so many ways. God has spoken to me so many times through songs, even songs I’ve heard and sung for years. Christian music is a part of my life. While it can encourage and uplift me, it also stays in my head. Sometimes a song stuck in my head is just what I need to hear at just the right moment. My anxiety and faith battle in song lyrics!

Recently, I was having a difficult time and kept thinking, “I’ve never felt more alone than I do right now.” Every single time I thought that, “Jireh” from Elevation Worship and Maverick City popped into my head with, “I’ve never been more loved than I am right now.” It helped me turn my focus around to God and the truth, which I definitely needed to do.

Related Bible verse: “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” – Colossians 3:16 (NIV)

4. Monitor what you watch.

I’ve learned to be careful what I watch. Watching TV news only increases my anxiety. It’s so negative and so dismal. It can add a variety of thoughts to my head that I don’t need. But so can fictional television shows and movies. I’m a sensitive person and always have been. I remember watching a scary movie in fourth grade at a slumber party and can still recall scenes from that movie to this day.

I am not into the murder shows, police shows, medical dramas and so many other things because they only increase my anxiety. And it turns out that God knew this way before I was born. His Word admonishes us to be careful what we watch for a reason!

Related Bible verse: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” – Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

5. Think through worst-case scenarios.

This one totally sounds counterintuitive. I sometimes get easily sidetracked and anxious thinking of all the worst-case scenarios. But, years ago my husband challenged me to think of the worst-case scenario of my worries. Then, he said, come up with the solution. Often that helps ease my anxiety because I have a plan. And I love having a plan!

If I come up with the worst-case scenario (and my brain is good at that), I think of what would happen if that scenario came to pass. This works also because it makes me start thinking more practically and realistically the opposite of how anxiety makes me think.

Related Bible verse: “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?” – Luke 14:28 (NIV)

6. Talk about it.

Anxiety is good at lying to us. It can make problems seem so much bigger than they are. When I have trouble dealing with something or moving on from it, it helps to talk about it with someone I trust. For me, that’s my husband. Often just saying the words out loud help my anxiety and faith meet as I realize what I’m worried about isn’t such a big deal.

We weren’t made to bear our burdens alone. Along with being able to go to God, we also need to have people who we can turn to and trust when our burdens weigh us down. Saying a worry out loud removes at least some of its power.

Related Bible verse: “If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.” – Ecclesiastes 4:10a (NIV)

7. Distract yourself.

I’m not advocating for denial here, but distracting yourself from your thoughts is a good way to help manage your anxiety. Find healthy ways to distract yourself or ground yourself in the moment. I have a coloring app on my phone that I find soothing and often use to unwind and relax.

I’ve also tried some mindfulness and grounding techniques when my anxiety starts to get away from me. For me, this is just stopping my thoughts and shifting my focus to what I can see, feel and hear. It’s beyond just acknowledging those things but really paying attention to them. (Find more relaxation tips and strategies in this article I wrote for the IC Network.) Sometimes what we need most is just a break from our anxious thoughts.

Related Bible verse: “A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God.” – Ecclesiastes 2:24 (NIV)

8. Believe you CAN improve.

A major lie anxiety likes to tell us is that we will always feel this way. We don’t have hope for the future and have no reason to try and do better. I’ve been down that path both with anxiety and my other health issues; I get it. I still have days where I think this is the best it gets. But I am continuing to learn that a bad day, week or even month doesn’t mean it will always be bad.

The first step toward making progress is allowing yourself to believe truly believe that you can improve. And then you must remind yourself that you are worth the work. I’ve learned that I need to embrace these two concepts when I get stuck and need to move forward. I’m thankful for my husband who also gently pushes me to not just accept “this is how things are.” Even if your anxiety isn’t healed or isn’t just a phase, you can always learn new ways to help manage it. Try new things. Seek professional help. Take medication. Don’t stop trying.

Let me reassure you that God made you. You are worthwhile. He doesn’t make junk, my friend. You are worth the effort needed to improve. Tiny baby steps forward are still steps forward. God has plans to give you a future and a hope!

Related Bible verse: “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” – Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

9. Get professional help.

A negative way anxiety and faith can overlap is by trying to convince you that since you have faith you don’t need help. Go back and read the section about the physical component of anxiety. You can try helping yourself. Sometimes that works! But, sometimes it doesn’t because you need more help than you can give yourself.

Think of it like treating yourself when you’re sick. When you first start feeling a scratchy throat, you might drink more liquids and go to bed early. However, if you wake up the next day with a swollen throat and a fever, you know you need to see your doctor and be checked for strep throat. Treat your anxiety the same way. Try things to help yourself, but if it stays the same or gets worse, seek help. There is no shame in seeking help from a medical professional or counselor. God has given us knowledge and resources. We should not be ashamed to use those resources!

Related Bible verse: “Plans are established by seeking advice; so if you wage war, obtain guidance.” – Proverbs 20:18 (NIV)
(Additional note: I left in this entire verse, because we are waging a war on anxiety. It applies!)

10. Focus on who God Is.

When we’re dealing with anxiety, we can feel like everything is shifting. Everything is murky, and nothing makes sense. That’s all the more reason to focus on who God is. He is unchanging, faithful and true. That’s incredibly comforting with or without anxiety.

I remember distinctly a Sunday morning during a really bad time in my life. I’m not sure what the sermon was about that morning. I was too distracted first by my worries but then by the cross at the front of the sanctuary. God spoke into my heart and reminded me the He loves me and sent His Son to die for me. When you aren’t able to cling to anything else, you can cling to God’s love. Shift your focus onto who He is and allow His presence and comfort to flow into you.

Related Bible verses: “As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.” – Psalms 18:30 (NIV)

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” – 1 John 4:9 (NIV)