How To Meditate Your Way To Peace and Calm




Ten years ago, a physical therapist recommended meditation as a way to heal and help with pain management after a car accident. So, I gave it a try. Many, many tries.

I've tried focusing on my Breath.

I've tried saying 'ONE' over and over again.

I've read the books.

I've tried guided meditation on my iPhone with an app.

I've tried everything, but my brain won't shut the Phuck up long enough for me to get the job done.

The trouble is, I have such a hard time quieting my anxiety brain long enough to reach the inner peace I hear so much about. I've also been pretty random about meditating. I try for a few weeks and then I give up when I get frustrated.

Then, I get into a rut in my life where I'm desperate to try anything to find some inner peace, so I try meditating again.



After 10 years, I still haven't given up.

Why?

Because, I've managed to actually pull it off a few times, and just like everyone said, it was amazing.


Between the testimonials and my experience, I will try to conquer meditation for the rest of my life if I have to. There really is something to it, and being that I've declared 2016 the year I push negativity out of my life and fill it with positivity, I'm making meditation a priority. The spiritual and scientific proof is too overwhelming not to.




MANTRA:  I will learn to meditate in 2017



I'd love to know if you meditate, How you do it? Have you been meditating for a long time, do you love it? Are you new to meditation? Are you having the same problems that I am?


How To Survive The February Funk

I'm on day two of having two sick boys home with me. It's freezing outside and my feet and nose haven't been warm since... I don't know. I feel like a caged animal desperate to run away Forest Gump-style. Which can mean only one thing, it's February. 

And also, the February Funk has nearly eaten me alive. 





Up until the day my son was born, I insisted February was the dumbest, no good, worst, damn month. It's cold, boring, EVERYONE is sick... Oh, and don't get me started on the many, many Valentine's Day let downs I've experienced in my lifetime

Fearing the February Funk was going to swallow me whole, I confided in my bestie about how I was sure I wasn't going to survive this winter, at least not without a stint locked away in a padded room.

Me: I'm dying. I've caught the February Funk, and it's bad this year.

Bestie: Well...Find something to be happy about in February. Like I don't know...HOW BOUT IT'S THE MONTH YOUR GREATEST GIFT WAS BORN!! Or how about it's the shortest month? Or how about it's Great American Pie month? Or,  do grouch a favor day.  Or, pistol patent day. There is all kinds of shit that makes Feb awesome!  

ME: You always have to bring up the part about my son being born and National Pie month. So. Unfair.

She's right, I need to let go of my obsession with hating the cold and February. I have got to keep in mind that the cold weather WILL blow away, allowing the warm beautiful spring air to take over. 




 

Soon, my heavy winter coat and boots will be replaced by a pretty, flowy sundresses and super-cute strappy sandals.



Yes, this cold nasty winter too shall pass... 

Soon, I'll go from spending 20-minutes trying to dress my son in full winter gear, to spending 2-minutes throwing on his swim shorts and sunscreen. 




Most of all, winter's days are numbered. It's not a forever thing. Spring is around the corner. So rather than cry and feel sorry for myself, I should be preparing for the best Spring/Summer EVER!

If you too are fighting the February Funk, stop thinking about winter and start thinking about Spring and Summer. Here are five things you can do today to help you Survive The February Funk, and make  Spring/Summer  2017 your best yet.

1. Start blasting your winter fat. Today. Here are a few of my favorite winter-body-blasting workouts.

2. Plan your Spring/Summer 2017 Garden. Even you have very limited space, you can grow something beautiful. Seriously, one square foot and few hours of sun will all you to grow organic Strawberries.

3. Start planning your spring summer wardrobe. Go through your warm weather clothes and dump, donate, or sell, the stuff you will never wear again. Now, for the fun part, search for the latest Spring/Summer 2017 Styles and trends. Once you find a few favorites, see how you can make them work using your existing wardrobe and a few new must-haves. This way, when you shop you know exactly what you need! Believe it or not, this method can save you a ton of money. Knowing what you need will keep you from buying what you don't!

4. Plan a trip. Spring and summer are the time for travel, so plan for it!  Even if it's a weekend getaway, plan a trip. It does wonders for the mind, body and soul. Planning and saving now, will make that trip a reality later.





5. Set a Summer Goal. If you could accomplish anything this summer what would it be? Now, make it happen.







How To Save Big On Things For Spring

Being a first time parent, I feel like each season we start over with buying new clothes,  and season appropriate toys and snacks, all can be big budget busters. So, for today's top 10 Tuesday, I'm sharing a few of my favorite ways to save big on Kid's things for spring... and summer too!



1. Make a list: I learned very early that kids do not need half as much stuff as I think they do. Before my baby was born, he had enough clothes to go a month without wearing a new outfit. Most of which, he never wore because he grew too fast! I quickly learned that I need to make a reasonable list of what I actually needed for my son, taking into account mid season growth spurts! I cannot recommend this enough, make a list of the number of shorts, shirts and shoes that you actually need to start the season, also include seasonal toys and future big buys like bicycles, ride on toys or backyard trampoline if your brave enough. Having a list early will allow you to do online shopping for better deals as well as put feelers out with your family to look for things on sale.

2. Shred those winter clothes: When it comes to outside playtime, kids get get dirty, so the last thing you want them to do is get grimy in their nice new clothes. Go through those winter clothes that have holes in the knees or tears in the sleeves, and cut them off  to make shorts and t-shirts. Then, deem those play clothes, so you won't cry when you can't get the grass or ketchup stains out.



3. Borrow Budget Busters: For those one off family portraits or special occasions where you normally end up buying an incredibly expensive outfit, your child will most likely only wear once, check out Etsy, eBay and your friend's closets before paying full price for anything.

4. Secondhand Shops: Places like Once Upon A Child and other children's secondhand shops are full of clothes and everything else you need to cover an entire winter or summer wardrobe, for under $20. (Shoes too! Did you know Crocs are machine washable?)

5. Facebook Finds: Every city has at least one Facebook mommy group that has clothes exchanges and lists where big family sales are taking place. To find them, on your Facebook page ask your friends if they know of any great mommy groups on Facebook. I bet you'll get plenty of replies!

6. Garage Sale Heaven: Garage sales are great place to pick up those big toys that people want to get rid of because they take too much space, but you desperately need because it's time for your toddler to start riding a bike. On Fridays, go to Craigslist, or wherever your city list garage sales, and find ones close by. Look for multi-family sales then grab a friend and some coffee and start shopping!



7. Discount Dealers: I love Groupon, ZuLily, Plum District, Living Social, Overstock, and other sites that can offer great things at a huge discount. All will be fighting for attention this season, so capitalize on it!  Most are even offering free shipping on the smallest orders.

8. Daily Deals: Did you know there are hundreds of websites that crawl the Internet daily for the best online daily deals? They do, and then list them in an easy to search format so you can quickly search for items on your must have list. My favorite is DealNews.com.

9. DIY For Family Health: When it comes to spring time treats and healthy fruit snacks, the budget can bust very quickly. I make our Popsicles, grow our fruit and cut out juice and soda, we are water drinkers during the warm months. If you have a sunny spot in your yard, patio or balcony, you have a place to grow your own fruit! Did you know strawberries grow well in a pot? Go to your local nursery and ask for help finding the right fruits to grow for where you live (Grower's Zone).









For a total of $20 I have strawberry plants, blueberries and grapes thriving in pots and around my yard. The best part is that I can use that fruit to make Popsicles! (For my Posicle DIY post, Click here.)


10. Price Shop From Home.  There are way too many apps and websites available today that make price comparison shopping from home a breeze. Gone are the days of driving from store to store or waiting for the Sunday Paper deals. Pull out the list you made of spring must haves and start going through each item online and list where the best deal is, for that item. Once you've gone through your list,  check the entire list for stores that overlap to save you a bundle on shipping and time. Between the coupon apps and the compare-and-save apps, there is no reason to pay full price anymore.

If you have any great tips, please leave a comment below, or join my Facebook discussion, here. 





How Different Cultures Around The World Celebrate Valentine's Day

Ever wonder how different cultures around the world celebrate Valentine's day, or if they even do?  Here are a few unique Valentine's Day traditions from around the world that are too cool not to mention!


Japan: Men aren't the chocolate givers in Japan, the women are. And not just any ol' box of chocolates. These chocolates are handmade works of art. There are two main types of traditional Japanese Valentine's Day chocolates,“Giri-choco", and “Honmei-choco”. “Giri” means obligation, a.k.a, no romance involved. Giri-Choco is given to friends, colleagues, bosses, and close male friends.  Honmei-choco translates to, "true feeling chocolate." These beautiful chocolates are given to a boyfriend, lover, or husband to signify true love. The Honmei-choco is traditionally prepared by the woman giving it.



Philippines: Ever dreamed of walking down the aisle with thousands of other couples? Well, here's your chance! In the Philippines, Valentine's Day is celebrated with mass weddings. Seriously. On Valentine's Day, hundreds of couples across the country come together to be married or renew their vows in colossal wedding ceremonies held across the Philippines in malls and large public spaces.

 


Iraq: Though the holiday isn’t accepted everywhere in Iraq, those who do celebrate have developed a few of their own traditions. Iraqi Kurds believe in a feast of love. Specifically, that the preservation of a red apple with cloves representing Adam and Eve’s story, will bring prosperity and love.



South Africa: Some young South Africans celebrate Valentine’s Day by pinning the name of their Valentine to their sleeve. Young lovers follow an old-age Roman festival of 'Lupercalia'. According to this traditional festival, young girls pin their lover's name on their sleeves. At some places, men also follow this custom.

FUN FACT: do you know where the phrase “to wear your heart on your sleeve” comes from? Although it was first recorded in the 1600s in Shakespeare’s play named Othello, during the Middle Ages a knight in battle would pin a lady’s handkerchief to his sleeve as a way of publicly proclaiming his love for her.

Germany: I have the Germans to thank for one of my favorite Valentine's Day traditions, the Lebkuchenherzen, or gingerbread heart. Imagine, a big yummy gingerbread cookie, covered in super cheeky phrases, attached to a ribbon to wear around your neck. YES, PLEASE! Having a half-Austrian husband, he has bestowed a Lebkuchenherzen upon me a time or two. But truth be told, we usually get them at Oktoberfest!


 


Estonia: In Estonia, Valentine’s Day is called “Friend’s Day” so that single people are not left out of the festivities. While streets may still be decorated with hearts and other Valentine’s symbols, there is also an emphasis on nonromantic love, with friends and family members exchanging presents. That's one way to make sure no one feels left out!


Guatemala: Valentine’s Day is known as El Día del Cariño in Guatemala, encourages celebrating love for friends and family as much as your partner. Guatemala City gets into the spirit with lots of colorful pageantries, with revelers dressing up in feathered masks and Mayan-inspired clothing. And don't miss the senior citizen’s parade.



Italy- It should come as no surprise, that Italy is the Place to be on Valentine's Day. More specifically, Verona, known for being the land of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. On Valentine's Day, couples pour into the city for,“Verona in Love.” To enjoy a number of V-day events, including tours that retrace the tragic lovers’ footsteps, a contest for the best love letter to Juliet, or a moment with Juliet’s statue for good fortune. Verona also offers Renaissance gardens, vineyards, boutique hotels, cobblestone streets and countless candle-lit restaurants to further solidify their stake on being the land of lovers.





Where ever you are, whatever your traditions, I hope you have a safe, kind Valentine's Day full of peace and love!

Do you have a fun or different way of celebrating Valentine's Day?  I make FTD his favorite breakfast, Eggs Benedict.

16 Quick And Easy Valentine's Day Boxes




Freaking out about making a Valentine's Day Box for your child's class party? I get it! Valentine boxes have changed since I was a kid. Gone are the easy tissue box with wrapping paper boxes. Now, they are 3D masterpieces. And to be honest, they intimidate me.

Like I always do when I need inspiration, I hit up the Internet in search of Valentine Day box ideas that looked awesome and most of all, easy to make. Below are a few of my favorites that are super-duper cool, and with a few household materials, relatively easy to make.

FOR HIM



FOR HER


FOR BOTH



And last, but not least. In fact, it's the best friggin' Valentine Box I've ever seen!

The Toilet. 


For step-by-step how-tos for all of the above boxes and to see few more ideas, check out my Valentine's Day Pinterest Board.

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