30 July 2013

Organize Your Life, Break Bad Habits

Most disorganization in our lives comes from a lack of good habits and helpful systems. We have all used the excuse that we are too busy and do not have enough time to maintain organization systems. But being disorganized wastes so much time. How often have you been late for a meeting or appointment because you cannot find your keys or forgot important papers at home? Taking time to initially set up a landing spot where you can place your keys, purse or bag near the door to your house or office can shed wasted minutes from your day. Giving yourself time to practice a new habit can make your life much easier and less stressful.

Photo: Joseph Novak
Making your life more organized also positively affects the lives of others around you. Not only do your bad habits often make your family and friends late and irritated, these behaviors are often copied and repeated and the wicked spiral of disorganization is created. Stress is easily transferable. Who wants to have anymore, unnecessary stress?

Let's start again with awareness. What bad habits have you created that have made your life and the lives of others more difficult? I would always misplace my keys at home until I bought a cute vintage bowl and put it on a little table near my front door. After every use, I now put my keys in the bowl. Is there something or some space in your home that is making it difficult for you to break your bad habit? Pin point that area that surrounds your bad habit and make a list of things that you could do to improve that space. It could be a super messy purse or wallet (guilty here too!) that needs to be cleaned once a day or weekly. Choose an effective time to do this. Perhaps it is right after you get home in the evening after work or while you wait for the bus in the morning.

Try to stick to this new habit for a few weeks. You will struggle in the first several days but I am of the belief that a simple habit (I am not speaking of diet, cigarette or exercise habits) can be created in just two weeks. Muscle memory is a powerful tool that we can use to our advantage. Try not to get to frustrated! At the end of everyday, check in to see how you feel after a day of changing habits. Do you feel less stressed? Was your morning commute so much easier? Note these good, healthy emotions and use these effective emotions as fuel.

After a few weeks, check in again. Are these new habits effective? If not, what other small changes can you make to help this process. You are a strong person and you can gain control over your bad habits once and for all. It just takes time and patience but the rewards are great.

Shelly is the founder of the program Creating Space, Mindful Living – motivating and inspiring people to run their businesses more efficiently. She helps others look at their personal and professional lives and explore what is and isn’t working. As a jewelry designer she has spent many years testing and honing the skills and discipline needed to run your own creative business while still having time for friends, family and fun. She puts her wealth of experience to use in the Creating Space service – healthy living advice to help keep you motivated and make the most out of your already busy schedule. She will help you find both the physical and emotional space so you can pursue your dreams and she’ll always insist there’s time for yourself. You can also find Creating Space on Facebook or contact shelly@creatingspacemindfulliving.com

26 July 2013

Printable: Poster and Price Tags for Your Next Yard Sale.

With summer in full swing, yard sales have been sprouting up everywhere.
They are one of my favorite things about the season: people's old treasures spread on their lawns, the slight guilt of browsing through a stranger's artifacts…

Recently, while packing for a big move, I got excited about the idea of having my own yard sale to thin out the contents of my apartment. Alas, yard sales are not allowed on the grounds of my apartment complex—the sorrow!—so I ended up donating my stuff to a local charity instead.

I'm still excited about the idea of hosting my own yard sale one day, and making a small event of the occasion, with colorful balloons and icy water for the visitors…

For now, I'm pretty content with helping others put together their own de-cluttering event:

This ink-saving set of poster + 16 price tags can be printed on 8.5 x 11 sheets. The printouts are black & white, the idea is to add your own touch. 

Download the full resolution poster and tags.

The poster is a coloring page of sorts: print as many as you need and fill in the letters in bright colors for added visibility. This could be a fun project for the younger family members, and a way for them to get involved—although no one will judge if you find yourself coloring letters and loving it!

As for the tags, you can color them in or leave them as they are, put some string through them, or tape them in place. Make sure you print a good stack of them, in case you decide to modify prices as the sale advances—and also because price tags have a tendency to get lost in the commotion. 

Nail some posters around town, prepare your price tags, and unveil your own trove of goods to the world. Oh, and read around for advice on how to have a successful yard sale; some people have made an art of it!

Good luck! May your yard sale rid you of the old, and make room for new things.

Anabel Bouza insists there's powerful magic in the action of creating something out of a vague vision, a chill of inspiration. She is an illustrator with a passion for nature, paper manipulation, and pointing her camera at things. Her appreciation for simplicity dates back to a former life in Cuba where she refined the ability to see the alternative uses of common objects, and the enchanting side of things. 
You can find her blogging as Weird Amiga, hard at work in her sunny studio, or staring at things as if looking at them for the first time. 
Connect to Anabel via facebook and twitter. 

24 July 2013

Detoxify Your Body With Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar

Did you know that Apple Cider Vinegar that we all have in our kitchens has the ability to detoxify and cleanse our bodies? It also improves blood circulation, and supplies the organism with minerals and vitamins. Apple Cider Vinegar is particularly valuable when combined with honey.

Here are some easy to follow recipes including Apple Cider Vinegar that will help detoxify your body.
  • Half an hour before each meal (three times a day) drink 1 cup of water with 1 tablespoon natural Apple Cider Vinegar and 1 tbsp honey.
  • Boost the health of the whole family with a sweet-and-sour salad dressing. Mix 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup corn oil and 1/2 cup honey and pour over your salad.
  • Detoxify your body by drinking 1 cup of water with 1 tablespoon vinegar every morning.
It would be best, of course if you prepare your Apple Cider Vinegar at home. Here is the recipe my grandma has been following for years.

Photo: David Lifson

Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar

11 lb (5 kg) ripe apples
0.55 lb (250 g) boiled water
0.44 lb (200 g) honey

Finely grate 5 kg ripe apples with the peels. Fill 1/4 of a 10-liter bottle with boiled and cooled water. Add the grated apples and 200 grams of honey. Close the bottle and shake well, then loosen the cap to allow air inside. Don't fill the bottle to the top and leave some space to prevent the content from overflowing during the fermentation process, which should take about 40 days. When the fruit settles at the bottom, strain through a fine gauze. Leave the vinegar for another 40 days to rest and settle. Finish the process by straining one last time and pour your homemade Apple Cider Vinegar into bottles.

Do you know any other recipes to make your own homemade Apple Cider Vinegar? Share with us in the comments.

11 July 2013

Simple Summer Pastimes: Carousels, Player Pianos and Drive-Ins

By Vanessa Williams

While many of us in the United States spend our summers eating ice cream and lounging in a pool, there are two things that we Pennsylvanians cannot let summer pass us by without doing - visiting an amusement park and going to a drive-in.

There are at least ten amusement parks that call Pennsylvania home (at one time there were more than 50!). You may recognize Kennywood Park out near Pittsburgh, or Hersheypark in Hershey, Pennsylvania (aka the sweetest place on Earth). I grew up going to Hersheypark, so naturally I looked forward to sharing that experience with my daughter.

She is still only nine months, so an amusement park visit, along with its heavy price tag, seemed a bit of a waste. Then I remembered Knoebels Grove. Knoebels is an old style amusement park with free admission, and free parking. You pay as you go with tickets. For this reason it gets high marks for multi-generational families and grandparents who don’t have to pay for rides they aren’t going to go on. It’s also home to the famous Phoenix wooden roller coaster that ranks as one of the top coasters in the country year after year.

So I found myself there on the Fourth of July with my husband and daughter, picnic basket in hand. We rode a variety of things from boats to trains, but the highlight was the carousel. Nothing brings up childhood more like a carousel. Its simple merry go round feature, and cheerful horses appeal to all of us. This particular carousel was celebrating it’s 100th birthday this year and there was a modest celebration to mark the occasion which included cake. My daughter absolutely loved going around and around - her face lit up like the fireworks that went off that evening.

But the surprise hit was a player piano tucked away in a coal museum on the grounds. It’s not often you see a player piano, so I plunked the fifty cents in the machine and watched it come to life. My daughter, who loves just about anything that makes music, was completely entranced. Her eyes got wide as she intently watched the keys move up and down playing an upbeat toon.

She was so fixated a stranger even commented on it. “Who needs video games?” she said. Who indeed? As we ate our lunch in one of the many picnic pavilions I marvelled at how much the place hasn’t changed. In the nearly ninety year history, rides have come and gone, but families still flocked here by the droves to enjoy a day out with their loved ones among the shady trees. It was like summer encapsulated in one magical place. Barbeques and pools, cotton candy and camping.
Drive-ins are experiencing a resurgence, and in my region we have not one, but two drive-ins including the oldest continually operating in the United States. Like the amusement park, they offer outstanding value - a double feature! You can pack snacks too. And drive-ins have the added bonus of being baby-friendly in that you can take your little one along and just have them sleep. Watching a movie under the stars with a sleeping baby on your chest is a wonderful way to spend a summer evening.
I share these stories because I know I will look back at this first summer as a family together fondly. Don’t let summer, or time, pass you by. Make the most of every season. Make new memories, cherish old ones, and slow down a bit. That’s what summer is all about anyway, isn’t it?