This blog chronicles my life as I try to balance healthy lifestyle habits with my husband's penchant for pizza rolls and my daughter's desire to watch iCarly 8 hours a day. It contains a mostly humorous, kind, and somewhat spiritual look at everyday life and the people who live it.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Green Tip Tuesday: Green Ways to Get Rid of the Clutter

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

I'm buried here in Massachusetts and not just because of the blizzard.  I'm buried in STUFF.  Christmas is over and now all of those cheerful decorations are reading as *Clutter* to me now.  With the new gifts we received some stuff has to go.

So how to get rid of the clutter and decorations without filling up a landfill or just slinging it all into a box and stuffing it into that subterranean landfill I call "storage"?

It's easy: Donate.

Here's my plan:
First I'm going to take down the Christmas decorations.  There are a lot of items that I put up this year not because I liked them but because I'd always put them up and didn't have a good reason not to do so again.  Well, my good reason has arrived!  After searching a lot of decorating blogs AND reading my new Feng Shui book, I have decided that having anything, even something seasonal, that isn't useful, beautiful, or both is a BAD IDEA.  As I take the items down I am going to give each bobble a good scrutinizing to see if it goes into the 'Storage' box or the 'Donate' box.  No need to give away family heirlooms, but really?  The shiny gold bows I bought at Big Lots 20 years ago?  No, their time has come...and gone. 

My decor wasn't quite this cluttered, but this is how it feels now!

Luckily I also took my own advice and used a lot of natural decorating so the nuts, seeds, cranberries, pinecones, and clove oranges can all be tossed into the woods to become treasures for the woodland creatures.

Now let's talk about gifts.  Anything you received this year that you know, deep in your heart of hearts, just isn't for you and yours?  Don't store it, don't *intend* to do something with it, don't let it sit somewhere until it becomes part of the landscape.  Give it away.  Do it now.  Don't feel guilty.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with moving things that are not useful and/or beautiful to you on to someone who will love them.  What if the gift was given to you by someone who will a) notice it gone; b) be hurt that you don't love it; or c) spent a lot of time/money in the purchase or creation of the gift?  Thank them.  Thank them genuinely, lovingly, and earnestly.  Then load it in your car and take it to the donation station quickly, before you lose your nerve.

As for the rest of my stuff, these last few days of the year are an excellent opportunity to donate those sweaters that I still haven't worn even though the weather has been cold for 2 months.  To get rid of those platters that I still didn't use, even though I hosted a large party on Christmas Eve.  To help my daughter rid herself of unused Wii games, and my husband and I both need to do a good book purge (though I'll confess that of all the items I donate, books are the hardest with which to part). 

And the benefits of my hard work?  HUGE!  Cleaner house, less clutter, items that really reflect my decorating taste NOW not 10 years ago, tax deductions, good example for my daughter, lightening up is good for the mind, body, and soul, less to store, more room to invite into my life those items I would like now (I have a bedroom chair in mind, more on that later), and according to Feng Shui, my Chi'i should be off the charts with all the positive energy flow.

Sorry about the blur, but you get the idea.  Breathing room!

Simplify, simplify, simplify.  I feel lighter already.

How about you?

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Luckiest Man in the World

A picture to warm you during our New England blizzard!

Happy Holidays Everyone!  I hope Santa was good to you.  I hope you recycled all your wrapping paper.  And I hope you stopped eating Christmas cookies, fudge, and eggnog just short of a diabetic coma.  I did.  Stopped, I mean.  Just short of a coma (sigh).

We went to Mass on Christmas Eve and as the choir sang and the lights were dim, and I was all snug between my husband and daughter I took a moment to look around.  I noticed that sitting just two rows in front of me was the Luckiest Man in the World.  I wondered if he knew how lucky he was.  I hope he does.

Why is he the Luckiest Man in the World?  A man I have never even met.  A man who may be dealing with all manner of crisis, financial problems, job worries, tooth decay, and aging parents?  Well, as I watched this Lucky Man, his wife put her arm on the back of the pew and encountered the back of his sweater.  So she took a moment and rubbed his back.  Then his youngest son climbed into his lap a few minutes later and began touching his face and giggling, the way babies do.  After awhile (I know it sounds weird that I've been staring at him this long, but he is right in front of me AND between me and the altar where I'm supposed to be looking and paying attention, not composing blog entries in my head...) we all stood up and his oldest son grabbed his hand and just held it for awhile.

If you have someone, anyone, any living thing at all that wants to sit with you, hold your hand, rub your back, or touch your face, you, my friend are Lucky.  Because also sitting in that church was a man, sitting alone.  No one rubbed his back. No one held his hand.  I hope his house is just filled with people crawling all over him and that church is his one chance for some "alone time" because the alternative is unbearably sad.

Do you know how Lucky you are?

Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The cure for the Hectic Holiday

I need some good-for-me-stuff that is free and won't prevent me from buttoning my jeans.  You too?  I have just what the doctor ordered:  The at-home pampering package.   Each of these ideas will take less than 1 minute to create and you already have everything you need in your pantry or linen closet.

Pampering idea #1 The Feet

Find some lotion.  Slather it on, especially on your heels and the cuticles of your toenails.  Really slather it on!  Put on cotton socks.  Let the lotion soften your feet and moisturize your nail beds.  Keep on overnight.  Don't have any lotion?  Use olive oil or almond oil.  Don't have either of those?  Use lip balm - though you probably want to think carefully before you use it on your lips after you've rubbed it on your feet...I'm just sayin'...

Pampering idea #2 The Back, Neck, and Shoulders

Fill a sock with rice, dried beans, oatmeal, buckwheat, or sand.  The sock should be about 3/4 full so there is enough room for the rice to move freely.  Add a few drops of lavendar essential oil, vanilla, grated orange or lemon peel, or peppermint extract.  Tie the end of the sock shut.  Put in your microwave for 30-60 seconds until warmed through.  Now mold your fragrant heating pad into the small of your back, over your shoulders, around your neck, or across your forehead.  Feel the relaxation that comes from applying heat directly to where your muscles/constricted blood vessels need it.  Heat again as necessary.  Don't have a sock to use?  What about the sleeve of an old shirt?  In a pinch you can use a plastic bag but be sure to put a cloth barrier between your skin and the plastic once it's been heated.

Pampering idea #3 The Face

Take 2 washcloths and get them wet.  Place one in the freezer and the second in the microwave for 20 seconds.  You can heat the washcloth for an additional 20 seconds if it's not warm enough but be careful not to make it hot.  Set a timer for 10 minutes.  Sit down.  Place the warm cloth over your face and breathe.  When the timer goes off get the other washcloth out of the freezer.  Set the timer for 10 minutes.  Sit down.  Place the cool cloth over your face and breathe.  Alternating warm and cold temperatures on the skin stimulates the immune system, rejuvenates the skin, increases blood flow, and encourages neural healing.  Always end with a cool cloth to close the pores and "rest" the skin.  This also is great for clogged sinuses.

Pampering idea #4 The Eyes

You've probably heard of using steeped, cooled tea bags over your eyes to rest them, chilled cucumber slices to reduce puffiness, and all manner of creams and unguents to reduce the appearance of fine lines...BUT... I have something even simpler.  Blinking.  Long, slow breaths coordinated with long, slow blinks.  Do it with me:  inhale for 5 seconds while opening your eyes as wide as you can.  Now exhale for 5 seconds while closing your eyes gently.  Inhale and open wide.  Exhale and close.  Are you starting to feel the moisture return to your eyes?  If not, repeat again.  And again.  Until your eyes feel moist when you close them.  A total eye rejuvenation in 15-20 seconds.  It doesn't get much cheaper than blinking.

Are you listening to music?  Drinking water?  Breathing?  Are you (occasionally) shaving your legs, wearing pretty underwear, and putting on lipstick?   If not, why not?  What could possibly be more important than your sanity and before you answer that: what can you possibly hope to get done if you are frantic, frazzled, and itching like crazy from dry skin and cracked heels?

I'm teetering on the sugar edge but not yet over, remembering to enjoy the Christmas lights we have lit both inside and out, wearing a lot of no-waist yoga pants, and cranking up the uplifting Christmas music.  I'm not stress free, but I'm not stressed out.

How about you?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Green Tip Tuesday: Are you dreaming of a Green Christmas?

The greatest thing about going "green" during the holidays is that you can completely simplify your life, get out of doing a ton of work, save money, and blame it all on being a good steward of the planet.  Here are a few green tips that will free up your time for important things, like baking (eating) cookies, and help the planet.

1.  "Green" gift wrapping.  The best way to green up your gift wrapping is by not wrapping at all.  This is a completely new concept to me who has been weaned on a steady diet of Martha Stewart bow tutorials and the belief that the more elaborate, the better when it comes to wrapping paper.  I'm converted though.  For young children, how about setting up their gifts in fun and inviting groups?  For older children, like mine, I'm going for the Christmas morning scavenger hunt.  Instead of wrapping most of my daughter's gifts, I'm going to have them hidden around the house.  I'm spending the time I would ordinarily be wrapping making up clues for her to follow to find her gifts.  I'll still wrap a gift or two in recycled wrapping paper, but only a few instead of all of them.

2.  Green decorating means using natural items like pine garland, pine cones, acorns, strung popcorn, dried apples, cranberries, nuts, and colored candies.  Take a glass bowl, fill it with red hot candies, add in a white candle: instant candle scape and the candies will break down naturally when thrown away.   Fill a vase with candy canes (unwrapped).  Let fewer items have greater impact by using lush greens and lots of ribbon, which can be used again and again each year.

3.  E-cards.  Forget the addressing, the postage, the work, the money, and the huge carbon footprint.  Go green, send e-cards, and sit back and relax.  Think you'll miss seeing a bunch of cards hanging on the wall?  Well, me too so I'm just going to try it this year and see if I really do feel deprived.  I'm betting I won't.  Feel like you need to send a holiday letter?  Email it!  Want to give family/friends pictures of your kids?  Make an online photo album like the ones available from  You can password protect them so only your family/friends can see the photos, they can order any prints they would like while still viewing the entire album.  Green, green, green.

4.  Green gift giving is easy when you make use of the online gift cards available from places like, and  You can procrastinate until the very last minute, they're always the right size, they're never out of stock, and your gift recipient is guaranteed to get something they'll want.

5.  Finally, the greenest thing we can do this year is resist the temptation to fill our families' stockings with ...junk.  I'm guilty, I have certainly picked up all sorts of little tchotchkes for my daughter, especially on impulse: tiny pads of paper with kittens on the front, cheap, chemical-infused lip glosses in 10 different flavors, plastic jewelry she's never worn, sugar-filled gum in kind of gross flavors, cheap plastic toys - I've bought it all just to "fill" the stocking.  This year I'm resisting.  I know, I know, it's easier for me because my child is almost 12 and I'm certainly not judging anyone's choices, I'm just suggesting.

I'm trying all these things this year, just to see how it goes.  I love a white Christmas, but I'm really hoping for a green one.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

What do you need this holiday season?

A lot of people may ask you what you want, but I'm asking you: What do you need?  Is it more time?  Better health?  A new haircut?  More money?  A wardrobe makeover?  A professional chef?

A new attitude?

That's what I've been needing.  Lately I've been having a pretty bad case of the Gimmes.  Oooh, gimme that new sweater!  Yes, I really need that book, gimme two.  Chocolate chip cookies?  Gimme 3 of those.  Okay, 4.

It struck me last night as I was perusing online all of the neat decorating sites, the clothing sites, the furniture sites, and the cooking sites that I hadn't stopped by one single natural health site.  Not one.  Usually my fingers can't type fast enough to google new ways to make products at home or inventive uses for baking soda.  This month's issue of Natural Health magazine has sat, unread, by my bedside covered with Pottery Barn, West Elm, Crate&Barrel, and The Sharper Image catalogs.  I had to excavate it just to see what this month's issue is about.  Must be time for a reality check.  I already have all I need to create a beautiful, healthy, balanced life for myself and my family.  I merely need to remember what is really important.  Now y'all know I'm not about to preach that perhaps this Christmas should be the year when your family donates all their gifts to a shelter and experiences the true joy of giving, perhaps that is you, but that is not me.  My daughter will happily unwrap many a gift on Christmas morn, I am however suggesting a certain detachment is needed. 

This is me now.  This is not how I want to look at Christmas.

Can balance be found during the holidays?  Can the Natural Living magazine get at least equal read-time to the Pottery Barn Catalog Holiday 2010?  I believe so and here's my plan:

When I start to feel like I need some material thing that means I need to take a break from shopping or browsing.  Time for a glass of water and some Christmas music.

If things start to feel hectic my mantra is simplify, simplify, simplify.  One or two kinds of cookies, instead of 5 or 6.  Gift cards instead of shipping presents.  Limiting holiday commitments to ensure plenty of time for sitting in front of the fire and watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer on ABC Family's 25 Days of Christmas specials.

Drink water.  Drink more water.  Having to pee a lot ensures that I sit down and take a break for a moment, right?

Start out every day with a smoothie.  No matter what else happens I can load up my smoothie with lots of fruits, Omega 3s and fiber.  All that fiber will ensure more "sitting down breaks"  (I know, I know, too much information....)

Keep inspirational and/or healthy lifestyle focused reading materials in my purse and car.  That way when I have a few moments before picking up my daughter or during basketball practice I have something to read that isn't an ad circular.  Same with podcasts, I'm keeping them inspirational like The Moth Podcast, or healthy like The Nutrition Diva Podcast.  Or fun like Under Cover with Deb and Beth, one of the finest book review podcasts I've yet come across.  Not that I'm biased.

That's my plan and with three weeks left until Christmas I'm glad to have one.  What about you, what are you doing to keep yourself balanced during the holiday season?

Friday, December 3, 2010

We're living in a society here, folks...

Walking around the college campus where I work is usually quite safe.  There are many crosswalks and signs are posted absolutely everywhere letting drivers know that pedestrians have the right of way.  Cars stop, people cross, we all move on safely, it's a beautiful thing.

A couple of days ago that beautiful system broke down.  Imagine if you will a very rainy day.  I was looking adorable in my brand new trouser-cut jeans and way-too-high-and-so-uncomfortable high heeled black boots.  As I tap-tap-tapped up to the crosswalk I saw a car approaching.  The car was a fair distance away so I stepped into the street with confidence. 

I hear the car approaching.  I keep walking.  I hear the car still approaching.  Some small, very important, part of my brain registers that the car is not slowing down.  I glance over.  The car.  Is.  Coming.  I freeze for just a second before my legs remember to run.  Tap, tap, tap, tap!  My stupid-way-too-high-and-so-uncomfortable high heeled black boots are not helping me now!  The driver of the car finally registers that she is about to hit me and slams on the brakes.  She fishtails on the wet pavement and the front of the car hits me with just enough force to knock me off balance but not enough force to hurt me.  I fall to hands and knees.  My gigantic purse goes flying one way.  My gigantic bag filled with 4-inch budget binders goes flying the other.  My umbrella slips from my hand and lands on the wet pavement.

I crouch there for a moment on the ground.  Stunned.  I look up and make eye contact with the driver.  Her face registers nothing: not surprise, anxiety, guilt, regret, anger, just blankness.  Then, without exchanging a word, she drives off.


There I was, kneeling in the middle of the street getting soaked. My heart was pounding so hard I could feel it through my coat.  I couldn't believe she just left me there!  We're living in a society here, folks, and as members we are all required to enquire about the health and wellbeing of any living creature we may hit with our old, rusty, no-anti-lock-brakes-having cars!  This is not optional! 

I didn't get a license plate number.  I don't know the make and model of the car.  I didn't file a police report and I 'm not hurt.  But I am curious: who is this woman?  What standards of behavior is she following?  And why, why for the love of mike did she not even acknowledge me? 

The good news is that I didn't even tear the knees in my new trouser cut jeans...