How to Make Your Home Cozy for The Fall/Winter Season

As the nip in the air has us pulling out our sweaters, scarves, and socks, we gear up for the Fall and Winter, and put those steamy summer days behind us. While frolicking at the beach and rocking our bikinis is always a blast, there is something so special about the comfort of the cooler months when we can snuggle up and settle in. There’s nothing like sitting by the crackling fireplace and getting toasty as the stars light up the evening sky. I enjoy embracing every moment as the leaves turn colors and coat weather kicks in. Part of my pleasure is making my home seasonally appropriate, super cozy, and extra inviting. When my home feels comfortable and comforting, I can fully soak in the season and do so with a smile. Here are some tips to make your home cozy for the Fall and Winter season. I am a big fan of these three ideas, and encourage you to take a little time out to give your place a seasonal pick-me-up. You will feel the vibe of the season as you get into the spirit.   Seasonal Scents Certain aromas capture the Fall and Winter just right. I go for warm scents like cinnamon spice, vanilla, and pine. You can pick up some beautiful candles or burn incense in these fragrances or ones that you love best. Even a room spray does the trick, and the good ones last for hours. Think about baking too. As you whip up something wonderful in the kitchen, the treats will give off a scent that will have you salivating. I enjoy baking a hearty pumpkin loaf, banana nut bread, and a variety of cookies this time of year.   Different Décor Swapping out a few items here and there can make a subtle seasonal difference in the ambiance of your living space. You don’t have to go overboard or spend a lot of money to make the switch. Consider changing up your throw pillows and blankets when Fall and Winter come around by replacing whites and pastels with earthy colors and heaver fabrics for Fall/Winter. I bring out some of my favorite holiday items to get a head start on the season and display different photos on my shelves for sentimental value. If you want to do a little more, consider investing in new curtains or a richer-looking throw rug. You’ll be happier with your home when you give it a mini overhaul.   Merry Music I could play holiday music year-round, but then the Fall and Winter wouldn’t seem as special. Once there’s a chill in the air, it’s time for me to pipe some merry music throughout the house, providing a beautiful background seasonal soundtrack. I always feel more cheerful when the music is on, and I’m not as tempted to watch TV, which can be a waste of time. When the music is playing, I’m always more productive. When it’s time to settle [...]

2020-11-30T18:43:08-08:00By |

3 Ways to Have Delicious Holiday Meals…If You Don’t Cook

The holiday season is upon us, and that means less worry about our waistlines and more focus on all things tasty. Meals with friends and family or just at home with your partner are especially exciting this time of year with traditional dishes, new culinary finds, and all the comfort food we can fit on our plates. But what if you’re a self-confessed klutz in the kitchen or your cooking skills…well…suck? You still deserve holiday meals that make your mouth water. After all, the goodness of the season is best served savory and sweet. Getting hungry? Here’s how to have holiday meals you can be sure will be scrumptious. You will spend less time preparing and more time enjoying every bite.   Potluck Party Host a potluck brunch or dinner at your place and invite your friends/family to each bring their own signature dish. They say variety is the spice of life, and with a potluck party, you’ll get quite the arrangement. It’s fun to mix and mingle while munching. Encourage your guests to bring something unexpected so you won’t wind up with four string bean casseroles. You can provide the easy extras like dinner rolls, drinks, a simple salad, and perhaps a cheese board for pre-meal nibbling as your guests arrive. If you have food left over, provide Tupperware so your guests can pack up food to take home. They will be happy to have something already made for the next day’s lunch.   Deli Counter Delights Nearly any grocery store deli counter has far more than lunchmeat and cheese. You can get an entire meal in one stop; all pre-prepped and ready to go. With ready-to-eat salads, a world of sides, potatoes, pastas, and more, you can create a meal that’s tasty and trustworthy. Pick up a fresh and juicy rotisserie chicken, some sliced ham, and roast beef, and you’re set. Some supermarket deli counters even feature store-made desserts like cinnamon rice pudding, bread pudding, and chocolate mousse. Jazz things up at home with your own touch using flavorful condiments and herbs, and be sure to serve everything with style.   Rely on Restaurant Take-Out During the holiday season, many restaurants create a special menu for take-out orders. With prices usually set per person, this idea is convenient and quick, and you know the food will be fabulous. You do not have to go the traditional route when it comes to which restaurant you choose. Want sushi for Thanksgiving or quesadillas for Christmas? Go for it! Look online for nice packages and interesting offerings. They are sure to give you plenty for what you’ll pay, so make room in the fridge for leftovers. The next day will be just as joyful as the one before when you are ready for another bite or two.   Of course, the easiest way to have a delicious holiday meal without cooking is by accepting an invitation to someone else’s home. Bring a bottle of wine and [...]

2020-11-09T16:05:24-08:00By |

My 4 Favorite Ways to Create a Vacation Vibe at Home

Travel restrictions as well as financial circumstances may have turned your travel plans upside-down, but that doesn’t mean you have to forgo your vacation. With a little creativity and some imagination, you can get the vacation vibe at home, allowing you to relax and recharge without going anywhere. Some call it a “staycation,” but no matter what you name it, your at-home, no-travel “getaway” will be a much-needed break from the pandemic, as well as remote work, school, etc. After all, your home is your sanctuary, so embrace the essence of your humble abode with an atmosphere of peace and pleasure…plus some play time! Sure, I’ve traveled plenty, but some of my favorite experiences while I’ve had some time off took place right at home. I can switch into vacation mode by making some quick changes and clearing my schedule. It’s convenient and far cheaper than booking a flight and staying at a hotel! You’ll love it too, especially if you remember to put work on hold and have some fun.   Decorate and Design Think of your ideal vacation spot and jazz up your home with décor that reminds you of your dream destination. Perhaps you’re into an island vibe, so get some palm tree cutouts, floral arrangements, and coconut shells. You can light candles that smell like pineapples and sea breeze. Pour colored sand into glasses and hang leis over the railings. You get the idea. Do this for any place you fancy, even the North Pole! You can fill your shelves with snow globes, cut out snowflakes from poster board, and toss tinsel onto your tabletops. It’s fun and festive.   Eat, Drink, And Be Merry Stock up on your favorite foods from the places you’d love to visit. No matter the cuisine, you can find items at your local grocer, pull up some recipes online, and get cooking. The aromas will waft through the air and you’ll crave the flavors as you fill your plate. Of course, refreshing cocktails (or mocktails) make mealtime extra-special, so find your inner mixologist and get to it. Tropical drinks are best served with paper umbrellas, don’t forget. You can also buy some nice wines from your favorite region, as you sit back in the comfort of your own home and toast to holding down the fort.   Music Makes It Better Turn off the TV and tune into some music instead. Choose songs that remind you of vacation, or international tunes from your must-visit locale. With the background music giving you reason to let loose; your mood will be all about enjoyment. Sing along, dance like nobody’s watching, and keep the soundtrack running strong. Try some karaoke for an evening of entertainment.   Dress the Part You’ve surely got some clothing in your closet that you save for special occasions, trips, and the like. Even though you’re at home, it doesn’t mean you can’t dress up. You can even put on your swimsuit if you [...]

2020-10-20T20:38:36-07:00By |

My 4 Favorite Ways to Declutter My Home

Organization is huge for me, so keeping my home clutter-free is essential. Not only do I love a tidy atmosphere, but the harmonious nature of having things in place allows for a sanctuary-like space that keeps me from stressing out. If you love shopping like I do, it is far too easy to quickly accumulate lots of knick-knacks, souvenirs, and mementos, and before long, a once-empty area becomes overloaded. It is nice to have items around the house that have personal meaning, but too much of a good thing turns a well-meaning pastime into a problem. You can still have the stuff you want without the clutter. Not to mention, there are other smart ways you can clear out your living space and create a calmer, more coordinated home. Below are my four favorite ways to declutter, and you can do it too.   Donate/Re-gift Take inventory of your belongings and do a monthly “purge.” Hold onto what you just can’t part with and give the rest away to charity or as a thoughtful re-gift. If it’s not something you use, wear, or marvel at regularly, it is time to let it go. You won’t miss something that is barely, if ever, on your radar. As they say, one woman’s “trash” is another’s treasure. Let your belongings live with someone who’ll actually appreciate them. If you want to make some side money while still re-homing your unwanted items, check out consignment stores and online resellers, including The RealReal (clothing),  Etsy, eBay, and even Craigslist. Hold a yard sale and meet some new neighbors while you’re at it.   Store You do not have to keep everything you own out in the open. If you have seasonal items you display year-round, now’s the time to store them away to make room for timelier décor. As for your clothing, box up your winter clothing when the weather warms up and vice versa. Same goes for accessories, handbags, and shoes. You will have a much more productive time in the closet when you can actually find what you’re looking for. Fishing through sweaters in summertime makes no sense.   Organize When my things are kept in a strategic fashion, it is so much easier to maintain a mess-free home. I apply this coordination concept to my kitchen and pantry items especially (like spices and cereal), but it can be done for anything, including accessories/jewelry, clothing, cleaning supplies, and toiletries. When everything is categorized in a useful and understandable way, I can keep my things neat and put them back right where they belong. This is a great idea for kids’ toys too; hopefully, the little ones will follow suit.   Ask Yourself…Do I Really Need This? When you are out shopping or perusing online, before you make the purchase, take a pause. Will another picture frame or candlestick make a difference in your décor, or are you simply filling your time with a tempting habit? It is no [...]

2020-10-16T15:35:45-07:00By |

7 Reasons You Need to Start a Home Garden Today

Relieve Stress by Starting Your Own Garden!   I, for one, never really cared about gardening. The whole “start a home garden” trend seemed like another part of the organic eating phase. If you’re still on the fence about starting your own garden because you don’t buy into the organic trend, I get you. Really. Even if you want to eat organic food, you may need some convincing to commit to a home garden. It does take some work, and you may need to persuade your family to help, as well. Convincing your family, including yourself, that a home garden will benefit you in diverse ways, simply requires getting your hands in the dirt. Of course, skillfully using your walk behind string trimmer to enhance your garden’s foliage won’t hurt either. Once you start, you will quickly see that growing a home garden has more merits than just putting some organic greens in your family’s diet.   1. A Sustainable Way To Cut Down Your Expenses The organics section at your grocery store will charge you an arm and a leg to get fresh produce that the Flintstones could have easily grown. If you’re committed to eating healthy, your grocery bill will likely get higher and higher, for fewer foodstuffs. Moreover, constantly going out just to get fresh fruits and vegetables will likely raise your gas bill. A sustainable way to cut down such costs will be to just walk to your backyard and pick what you need.   2. Family Bonding Time You’ll probably never hear people talking about “the harmful effects of spending time outdoors.” I realize that it’s a chore to get kids to leave their beloved gadgets and instead connect with the family outside. Giving them responsibilities in the garden however, allows for more family time without them even realizing it. You’ll also be teaching your children important healthy eating habits, since half the fun in gardening is getting to eat what you’ve grown. In fact, a study found that students with hands-on agricultural teaching more likely choose fruits and veggies to snack on, instead of junk food. So put a metal garden hose in their hands, because no matter how grumpy they are at first, your family will be happy in the end. Free Sign Up to Grow Network’s Online Library with Free eBooks on How to Grow Food   3. Moderate & Engaging Way To Exercise I’m not saying you’ll be ripped or lose weight from gardening. It’s just that gardening is a surprisingly physical activity. All that raking and turning compost works wonders for the muscles in your upper and lower body. Research carried out on people who tend their gardens for 5 hours a week found that they lost about 722 extra calories just by gardening. Obviously, the more intense the activity, the more calories you’ll burn. Whatever gardening activity you do, I’m sure it is better than sitting on the couch.   4. Reduce Pollution This [...]

2020-10-27T21:18:49-07:00By |

Time to Declutter

How to Declutter for a Healthy Life!   Moving through life, most have a tendency to accumulate “stuff.” You may have drawers full of pictures and mementos, a closet full of clothes you no longer wear or a kitchen full of utensils you can’t remember how to use. It is a common human condition to acquire “things” from places you’ve been or events you want to remember. You may often crave more room or space to live in, which may mean you’re looking for a larger home every 10 years. But, what if you could create more in your life for yourself and your family by living with less? This is the basic premise in a popular movement toward minimalism. The minimalist movement began in the 1960s in the art world, when sculptures and paintings began to focus on the art medium and not an overt expression of emotion or symbolism.1 Today, minimalism has become a tool to help you live with greater freedom in your life.2 It is not a set of rules or restrictions, but rather an approach to help reduce a consumer culture that breeds a need for goods. According to The Minimalists, Joshua Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, minimalism is quite simply “a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important — so you can find happiness, fulfillment and freedom.”3 Therefore, you define how much you want to live without and enjoy greater freedom. There are several psychological reasons to declutter your life and bring greater organization to the “stuff” you continue to own, and simple strategies to make the process go smoothly. How Clutter Affects Your Brain You may think the decision to buy an item is based on logic, but far more often it is grounded in an emotional response that marketing professionals understand how to trigger. For instance, the mere act of touching an item may increase your emotional attachment to the item and your desire to purchase it.4 In one study researchers found the longer you hold an item, the more you’re likely to pay for it. Apple stores are built on the premise that if you can hold, handle and use their product, you’re more likely to purchase it. As you introduce new items into your life, you assign a value to the item, making it more difficult to give it up. Assigned to an item are memories, hopes and dreams, which means that if you get rid of them you may have failed.5 Getting rid of the skinny jeans you haven’t worn in years may mean you’ve given up hope of ever fitting into them again. However, the excess you keep around has an impact on your ability to focus and process information. A team from Princeton University found those working in a physically cluttered environment experienced greater stress and had a reduction in performance.6 Another study from Los Angeles found mothers whose homes were filled with toys and clutter [...]

2020-10-05T10:29:05-07:00By |

What are Dust Mites?

Dust mites are tiny, eight-legged arthropods that invade your home and nourish themselves on the dust flakes of human skin. Not only are they an annoying indoor pest, they can cause us some health issues. Barely visible to the naked eye, dust mites are found in untidy and seemingly clean homes alike. Wherever there’s dust, even a little, are dust mites. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce their presence as well as the health concerns associated with them.   The Health Problems Dust Mites Cause Us Millions of people are exposed to dust mites every day, with mattresses, bedding, and furniture the most common places these pests reside. People with asthma may find that their symptoms worsen when exposed to dust mites. For these folks, exposure, especially chronic, is going to severely impact their quality of life. Research has shown that asthmatic children, when exposed to dust mites and other allergens, face the most serious risks. [1] Dust mites are recognized as one of the most common indoor allergens. Dust mite allergies cause eye redness and watering, sneezing, coughing, wheezing, and skin irritation. [2] Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is one of the common problems resulting from dust mite exposure. One study showed that people with eczema were prone to having more mites on their skin. Many patients with atopic dermatitis are advised to maintain a clean, dust-free home (as much as possible). [3] How to Reduce Dust Mites in Your Home In order to reduce the frequency allergic or asthmatic symptoms related to dust mites, there are a few things you should do. While basic cleanliness is enormously important, be sure to implement these simple, effective strategies too.   Reduce Humidity Dust mites thrive in humid environments, so it is best to keep your home at less than 50% humidity. [4] Dehumidifiers are effective and inexpensive. In dry climates, opening the windows can also help release excess humidity in the home.   Clean! As their name implies, dust mites thrive in the presence of dust. When dusting your home, use a wet cloth or mop. Be wary of using a traditional duster, as it’s likely to just stir the dust around the home without actually picking it up. Cleaning carpets, or eliminating them completely, can also be a huge help. Your bed is a huge dust mite magnet so wash your bedding at least once a week to reduce dust mite accumulation.   Purchase an Air Filter Nearly everyone can benefit from a high-quality air filter, especially since it’s not just dust mites you need to be concerned with. HEPA air filters remove more than dust mites, they also remove a lot of the most concerning environmental toxins that are floating around.   Zap Them I’m not a big fan of microwaves but they do have one good use — they kill dust mites. One study showed that 300 seconds of microwaving on high and medium settings reduced 100% of exposed mites. Popping your child’s [...]

2021-01-08T14:13:32-08:00By |

Materialist to Minimalist – How We Downsized

Two weeks ago we announced that we are selling it all, paying off all debts, and living life a little differently.  Since then, we have had a ton of questions about our decision and HOW we are actually doing the downsizing and purging. I feel super qualified to talk about my journey into a minimalistic life since I came from such a materialistic one! Seriously, the girl who previously lived in my brain was a shopoholic maniac with an insatiable thirst for MORE and now I am here cleaning up her mistakes and erasing the credit card debt that accompanied them.   Okay so in the sake of keeping this blog useful and not overflowing with junk, (like my closets a few weeks ago) here are the main 3 reasons WHY we are radically downsizing: To feel lighter.  I am experiencing this already! It's like a new corner of my mind has even opened up to allow more creative and positive thoughts as more and more psychical junk clears out. Items can weigh you down mentally, emotionally. To clear off debt. We are not ashamed to admit that we spent a lot of money over the last couple years and racked up some good ol' consumer debt! But it just SITS there collecting interest, and the things we bought SIT there collecting dust… so something doesn't add up. To be more location independent.  Nothing says ‘stay home and go nowhere' quite like a huge mortgage payment. But HOW right?  Although we are minimalists with training wheels, and no two minimalists rules have to be the same, here is our playbook on how you can get started too!   How We Downsized and Embraced Minimalism Step 1: We determined NEED vs WANT The hardest (but most crucial) part of downsizing is to identify what you NEED and what you WANT. Trust me, I know how much a ‘WANT' can feel like a ‘NEED!' I have had many moments in my life where I NEEDED those shoes, that car, those blender attachments and that crop top with the tags still on it from 5 years ago. The first step on your journey will be to ask yourself when faced with any object: “Do I need this?” or better yet “Does this bring any value into my life now? Does it serve me?” My socks where knocked RIGHT OFF when I discovered how many of my once treasured items and mistake purchases did NOT serve me or fulfill a need whatsoever. I was merely holding them ‘in case'. In case of what? I wanted to open a professional garage sale of crap?   Step 2: We just DID it. All of the following will mean diddly squat unless you just DO it. It's so easy to say ‘next week, next month, next year' and that is exactly how we wound up with piles of crap surrounding us. Just get er' done!   Step 3: We started in the [...]

2020-12-23T16:12:49-08:00By |

The Pervasiveness of Toxic Petrochemicals in Household Products and How to Avoid Them

It may come as a surprise that your fragrant body wash, baby’s diapers, or lovely scented candles are actually filled with toxic petrochemicals. These include benzene derivatives, aldehydes, phthalates, and countless others. Many are potentially carcinogenic, some disrupt hormone production, and some haven’t been tested to ascertain their safety. The Environmental Protection Agency even lists some petrochemicals on its hazardous waste list.   The personal care industry is one that most deviously sneaks pertrochemicals into their products under the label of”fragrance.” The Environmental Working Group (EWG) reported: A rose may be a rose. But that rose-like fragrance in your perfume may be something else entirely, concocted from any number of the fragrance industry’s 3,100 stock chemical ingredients, the blend of which is almost always kept hidden from the consumer. Laboratory tests commissioned by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and analyzed by the EWG revealed the following: The average fragrance product tested contained 14 secret chemicals not listed on the label. Many substances have not been assessed for safety in personal care products. Researchers associated some of the chemicals with hormone disruption and allergic reactions. The research identified several chemicals with troubling hazardous properties. Legal Loophole Keeping Consumers in the Dark Historically, manufacturers of personal products needed to protect their secret formulas for each particularfragrance product. They typically made these fragrances from flowers and oils, but today, manufacturers are using the same reasoning to hide hundreds of synthetic chemicals under this one ingredient. “Fragrance secrecy is legal due to a giant loophole in the Federal Fair Packaging and Labeling Act of 1973, which requires companies to list cosmetics ingredients on the product labels but explicitly exempts fragrance,” reports EWG. It is difficult for consumers to make informed decisions about what they are buying due to lack of proper disclosure and education. As a result, we are inhaling, ingesting and absorbing these chemicals on a daily basis. How to Avoid Petrochemicals In addition to fragrant personal care products, many household items contain petrochemicals. These include most cleaning supplies, detergents, food packaging, carpeting, even bedding and mattresses. In addition, they are found in toys, plastics, paint, building materials, and more. Although not all petrochemicals are toxic, some certainly are. Hence, it is best to avoid them whenever you can. Here are some strategies to reduce your exposure to petrochemicals. First and foremost, buy as much organic as you can. This includes organic produce instead of packaged foods, to reduce the amount of packaging you buy. As well, there are now many organic personal care products, organic pillows, organic mattresses, and all sorts of organic cotton products. Another way to avoid toxic chemicals is to make your own personal care products. For some simple DIY beauty products, check out: Simple Aloe Vera DIY Recipes for Hair and Face Care; and Avoid Toxic Chemicals on Your Hair and Skin with These 3 Easy DIY Recipes. When it comes to household cleaners and detergents, you check the quality of your products [...]

2021-01-13T14:56:20-08:00By |