Thursday, October 31, 2013

Have you started thinking about Christmas yet? The process of decking the halls, giving gifts, holiday meals, and generally being merry? Of course, the true joy of Christmas has little to do with the things I just mentioned and everything to do with Jesus...

Christmas always seems to bring more. More fellowship, more food, more time off, and inevitably, more stuff. Even if you don’t receive a lot of tangible gifts for Christmas, chances are someone in your house does {like your children} and if you don’t have any children, you’re probably buying many things for other people’s children, which means you have to have somewhere to store those gifts until the big day.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I’ve been thinking a lot about friendships lately….relationships and connections…community and belonging… all these very natural and inevitable desires we have simply because we’re human. We’re created this way. To want interactions with others.

I haven’t gained or lost a friend lately…I don’t think. Maybe friendships have been on my mind because I marvel at how my children can make friends at the park, in Payless, or the doctor’s office in 1.4 seconds. How my son has a “best friend” who isn’t related to him or imaginary. Maybe it’s because now that I’m thirty-something, I see that my friend circle is more like a semi-circle. I’m ok with that. But with so many things vying for our time and energy, friendships, just like any other relationship require work and effort to maintain.
Peer groups aren’t just for children and adolescents, they are important for adults as well. They give us an outlet by which we gain perspective, insight, and knowledge as we venture through life at about the same point on our journey {give or take…of course this varies}. Peers give us that connection and community we crave and can offer advice and affirmation as we do the best we
can to live a happy, fulfilling life.

Because our peer relationships often get put on the back burner, I thought it’d be fun to purposefully peep out our peers with some simple tips to get us feeling good and friendly! You down, Homie?

Monday, October 28, 2013

In my Five Days of Fall series, I talked about attending a fair, carnival, harvest festival or something similar as a way to embrace Falls arrival. The State Fair just wrapped up around these parts, and I’d bet the biggest attraction for most adults is the cuisine! {Can I say cuisine? That word makes me think of fresh food meticulously prepared using only the finest ingredients that’s garnished with other fresh leafy herbs just before serving on nice plates. State fair food is greasy, fattening, and slightly unsanitary at best. I’ll just call it food!}

Friday, October 25, 2013

Is it the last Friday in October already? Yep! So that means this is the final installment of Feel Good Friday. Remember, the point of this series was to get in a better place…a place of gratitude and giving, as we enter into the holiday season. Naturally, however, the habits and strategies discussed and started this month would be beneficial to continue well after the holidays are over. They should be woven into our lives on a regular basis.

Are you a list maker? Do you make to-do lists and then reflect on how much you still have to do at the end of the day? Do you sometimes criticize yourself for not getting more done? If so, this tip is for you!

Feel Good Friday Tip #4:  Keep an ‘I Did It’ List

The logic here is quite simple. At the day’s end, instead of feeling like a loser for not doing more, applaud yourself for what you did do and write it down on your ‘I Did It’ list! Whenever I wallow in this space…this space of thinking of all the things I was able to do that day, I immediately feel good! Like, literally a rush of goodness surges through my body because I feel accomplished. While I may not have done it all, at least I was able to (fill in the blank). And my accomplishments are not always grand…I celebrate little things like finally washing the rugs in the bathroom or making time to write a friend back or taking the children to the park. All of that makes me feel good!

Do you do this? Do you focus more on what you didn’t do than on what you did do? If so, I challenge you to keep an ‘I Did It’ list and really feel the goodness that comes from celebrating progress, one baby step at a time. 

Click here to print an ‘I Did It’ list to use for a week. If you feel better by doing this, come back and print it again and again and be sure to leave a comment below!

If you missed any of the Feel Good Friday posts, click the links below to catch up on the good feelings!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

So, about that apple recipe… I went back and forth on what to make and finally decided on making Apple Butter! Have you ever heard of that? I had not…I mean, I have seen various recipes online and read other blogs raving about it, but it always seemed odd to me. What exactly would I do with this Apple Butter if I did make it! Well, let me share some things with you since I did indeed make a small batch yesterday. {I was only able to make half this recipe because 3 of my apple went missing...}

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I am not a natural decorator. Meaning…I can just look at a room and tell you what it needs and where to place everything. I have to find inspiration elsewhere, and then I can incorporate my own style and taste. When I said I was going to make a Fall wreath in my Five Days of Fall series, I went straight to Google for guidance! There are so many options out there! At first, I thought I wanted to make a burlap wreath but then I saw this one (on this amazing blog…talk about creativity and craftiness!!!) and decided to make it instead.

Check out the link above or click here for step by step instructions!
 My supplies after a trip to Michael's.
My wreath...but I thought it needed a few more berries at the bottom.
 There, all done!

Having never made a wreath from scratch before, I was pretty proud of myself! Who cares if I copied the entire idea from someone else?! And, if you don’t have a Fall wreath and like the one I have shown today, then please, let’s keep the copying going!
Now for the pumpkin...we didn't do much with pumpkins growing up in my family. There was no carving or picking out pumpkins every year. I knew this was something I wanted to do just because of all the fun my children had visiting the pumpkin patch last year. Plus, pumpkins are relatively cheap and definitely speak to Fall and this time of year.
Once again, Google showed me there are countless ways to decorate a pumpkin...without carving it! You can stencil it, put ribbon on it, or adorn it with a variety of other things. But when I saw this pumpkin decorating kit at the Dollar Tree, I knew this was the way to go!
 One pack of foam stickers from the Dollar Tree.
One small pumpkin from the grocery store.
One decorated pumpkin!

Did you make a wreath or a pumpkin? Send me a pic! I’d love to see it!

Monday, October 21, 2013

You may remember from my Five Days of Fall  series (Try it Edition) I mentioned making a hearty soup as one of the things to try now that Fall is here. Well, I did! See below for recipe!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Got a few extra minutes you need to fill entertaining a toddler or preschooler? Try these super, duper simple pumpkin decorating ideas.

Orange construction paper (for the pumpkin)
Green or brown construction paper (for the stem)
Tape or glue
Stickers (any kind will do)
Googly eyes (optional)
Pipe cleaners (optional)

Prep work:

*Cut out circles or circle-ish shapes to use as pumpkins. I traced a circular object I had, but you can free hand! No pumpkin has a perfectly round shape!

*Cut out rectangle and square shapes to make the stems for the pumpkins.

Cut out at least 5 pumpkins for one child, but I cut out several more just so we could make more than one each day!

Day 1:
Decorate the pumpkin using crayons! Have the child select any colors he/she wants or you can make suggestions that reinforce color recognition like, “Let’s use purple to color in the bottom of the pumpkin.”

Day 2:
Make a face on the pumpkin! Use the googly eyes and pipe cleaner to make a funny face. No googly eyes or pipe cleaner? Use crayons, marker or other pieces of paper to make a face!

Day 3:
Decorate the pumpkin using stickers! Depending on the age of the child you are working with, you may have to already have the stickers pulled up making them easy to grab. For my 2 year old, I take all the stickers off the sheet and place the tip of the sticker on the edge of our table or on the edge of a cookie sheet. For my 4 year old, I don’t do this. Use whatever kind of stickers you like! I used these Fall leaf stickers I found in the Dollar Spot at Target.

Day 4: 
Decorate the pumpkin with paint…using Q-Tips! This is easily becoming my newest favorite way to allow my children to paint! Q-tips are cheap, they don’t have to be rinsed off or washed after use, and they are great for developing pre-writing skills! Set out a few Q-tips and some paint, and let the child create a unique pumpkin!

Day 5:
Decorate the pumpkin using markers! I like to make sure my children use both markers and crayons weekly. While very similar, the functions of these writing utensils are slightly different.

Bonus (and keepsakes): Cover the child’s hand in paint and make a handprint on the pumpkin. Write the child’s name and date on the back. Laminate for durability and you have a keepsake to save or share with loved ones!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Well, hello and happy Friday! 

I hope this post finds you counting your blessings and doing random acts of kindness! I’m pretty excited to share the 3rd tip for Feel Good Friday because it’s a biggie. I mean, it’s a game changer, but the thing is, like anything else worth having, you have to actually put in work! And quite frankly, I know that sometimes…many times, we just don’t feel like doing whatever it is we know we should do or what we could do. There are many factors that play into why we don’t do things we know we should do or that we want to do. One of the biggest reasons is that we are comfortable where we are and don’t want to push pass those initial awkward feelings because we are so use to doing things the way we’ve always done them. Change can be hard, my friends, but it is so doable and worth it!

Feel Good Tip #3:  Give what you want!

So, what areas of lack do you feel there are in your life? What do you want more of?  More money, more praise and recognition on your job, more romance, more communication with your friends and family? Whatever you feel you need more of…GIVE MORE OF IT! Simple as that.

Tell me in the comments what you plan to give more of and how you plan to do it. For example, if you want more money then you’ll be giving more money in support of charitable causes by sending a check to an organization or group. If you want more recognition, then start recognizing other people for their efforts by verbalizing the positive things you notice in their work.

If you’ve already experienced this in your life (the give to get phenomenon) and know it to be true, share your experience! We’d love to hear it!  

Friday, October 11, 2013

Happy Friday!

Are you still counting your blessings? Like for real…by writing them down on paper? I’ll be honest…I’ve forgotten a few nights so I’ll be sharing soon what I’m doing to combat that. Let’s make being grateful part of our daily lives, forever and ever…

Feel Good Tip#2:  Do random acts of kindness!

There’s something powerful about being kind to someone who’s not expecting it or doing something out of the norm just to show your thanks and appreciation. There’s something special about being generous and doing more than your fair share. It makes the ordinary, extraordinary.

So, you may be wondering what exactly I mean by ‘random acts of kindness’ because the word random doesn’t always evoke nice thoughts. We could easily substitute the word unexpected or super nice for the word random. Essentially, I’m saying do a nice gesture for someone, just because. Do something that you thought about doing for a split second but then decided you didn’t have time to carry it out. Do that thing that you think, “It would be nice if…” The biggest thing here is to DO SOMETHING! So often our good deeds stay trapped in our heads. Let’s act on them and touch someone’s heart.

Here are some examples of random acts of kindness I have done or plan to do.

1.       Give people coupons in the check-out lanes when I see they have something in their cart that I have coupons for.

2.    Write a kind letter to someone or a business.

3.    Prepare a home cooked meal for someone and deliver it to them.

4.    Plan an outing for or with someone just because it’s something they like to do.

5.     Donate things.

6.    Pay off or pay something on someone’s lay away plan at a participating retailer.

7.     Be a good listener, despite being tired.

8.    Give goodie bags to the homeless.

9.    Give of my time, without accepting anything tangible in return.

The possibilities are endless! What random acts of kindness have you done and what do you plan to do in the coming days? Have you ever been on the receiving end of a random act of kindness? How did it make you feel?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

I like beginnings. The beginning of the day, the beginning of the week, the month, the year… There’s something about the beginning that seems so fresh and opportunistic. It’s like you get a clean slate to start whatever you want to start. A diet, an exercise program, a new perspective, a new you.

I mentioned in a previous post that September is my birthday month and so, it dawned on me that this is the beginning of a new year of life for me. I never viewed my birthday that way before. (I’m telling you…it’s something about the 30s!)I usually only considered January 1, the start of the new year, but really, each birthday signifies a new year of life for that individual. Isn’t that nice!? A beginning!

For the next 12 months, I’ll be taking strides and making efforts to improve this year of life for me. I’ll be doing the things I’ve thought about doing but never followed through on. I’ll be doing the things I know I should do, but don’t. I’ll be intentionally working towards doing and being better in areas of my life that I feel need improvement.

Friday, October 4, 2013

O to the… C to the…! October is here and so, you know what that means. The Holiday Season is practically here. We just welcomed in Fall and it seems like we’ll go straight from pumpkins and leaves to Christmas trees and presents! Stores all around are already stocking shelves with Christmas d├ęcor to usher in this fun time of year. But for many people, the Holiday Season also brings extra stress and anxiety. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of going, going, going during this time of year and feel pressure to keep up and do more. To get our minds right before that time of year is completely upon us, I’ve created Feel Good Fridays. Each Friday in October, I’ll be sharing simple things we can do to help get, and hopefully keep us in a spirit of love and thankfulness. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about?!

Feel Good Tip #1:  Count your blessing!

Ah yes, how many times have you heard this one? The logic and practice of counting your blessing is certainly not a new idea. In fact, entire books are written on the subject of gratitude and the positive implications it can have on your life. Starting today and for the remainder of the month (or whatever you can realistically do…although I’ll bet you’ll want to make this a permanent habit) COUNT YOUR BLESSING! And I mean, really count them by writing them out somewhere. I feel that the act of writing helps draw your attention to what you’re thinking and feeling. Just listing things in your head is good, but it makes your thought much more fleeting. We want to really focus on all that we have to be thankful for and having a written account also allows us to reflect on it and review it at a later date.

Challenge yourself to come up with at least 5 things everyday without repeating, if possible.

Do you keep a gratitude journal? What ways do you like to reflect on your blessings?