A New Year; Embracing the Little Things in Life

“A Toast to the OLD YOU:  If you feel inspired to use the New Year to help you reset or change habits: Great….And yet:

The OLD YOU has survived every terrible day, every had thing, every awful circumstance, and every heartbreak you’ve ever felt.  The old you is a FIGHTER and that’s worth CELEBRATING!” Emily McDowell

As the New Year was coming into focus, I was contemplating my thoughts on resolutions.  And two things stood out to me:

  1. Making a resolution can be daunting, stressful and difficult to maintain.
  2. I’m trying to minimize the stress in my life, not increase it.

Thus, no resolution for me.  However, as I was reflecting on the turning of the calendar, I was thinking about what I was grateful for and the little things that make me smile.  More importantly, it’s the little things, in combination with the big things (friends and family) that truly bring me joy!

So, here are a few ideas of how to add joy to your life.

 

Try Something New

Is there something that you have always wanted to try or learn?  A lengthy book sitting on your shelf that you have always wanted to read?  A trip that you have always wanted to take?  Big or small, start allocating the time or money to reach your goals.  Yes, this advice is cliché, but it works.

I’m always in awe of people who can make beautifully decorated sugar cookies. It’s also something that I would like to incorporate into the blog for when we do style collaborations. In addition, my daughter has also shown interest in decorating sugar cookies.

For the holidays, I found a great sugar cookie recipe and was successful in making well-shaped, sturdy cookies. I am, however, intimidated by the whole royal icing process. Fortunately, my brother was here to help with that and we had a great time decorating the cookies. Moving forward, I need to simply practice making the frosting. The great thing is that this is something that I can do with my daughter!

Is there a cuisine that you would like to try your hand at?  One of my favorites is Greek food, which is not only delicious, but healthy.  Mediterranean Specialties (local to Bellingham) has amazing food and often offers cooking classes!!  So, why not learn some new recipes while spending time with friends?!!

 

Chocolate Necessities

I would give my life for my children, but I would not give them my last piece of chocolate…. well, okay I would…… but begrudgingly.

Chocolate is simply euphoric. And, there is scientific data claiming that chocolate is good for you.  And who am I to argue with science?

7 Proven Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate (healthline.com)
  • Very Nutritious.
  • Powerful Source of Antioxidants. ORAC stands for “oxygen radical absorbance capacity.”
  • May Improve Blood Flow and Lower Blood Pressure.
  • Raises HDL and Protects LDL From Oxidation.
  • May Reduce Heart Disease Risk.
  • May Protect Your Skin From the Sun.
  • Could Improve Brain Function.

 

black camera

Mementos

Most of my fond memories are connected to my grandparents, and I smile just thinking about them.  To keep their memory close at heart, I have mementos of their’s displayed around the house.  It always puts a smile on my face when I see them.

Here is a list of other things that you can do with your favorite treasures:

  • Incorporate your children’s artwork with other pictures and paintings.
  • Display your grandfather’s favorite camera on your mantel.
  • Create a collage of wedding pictures of your grandparents and parents and display with your own wedding pictures.
  • Vintage porcelain bowls are perfect for holding jewelry.

 

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Amy Slusher Photography

TGIF

Make special plans for Friday, giving yourself something to look forward to at the end of the week.

  • Cocktails with friends.
  • Rent a movie that you’ve been dying to watch.
  • Try out a new restaurant.
  • Order takeout from your favorite restaurant.
  • Splurge on your favorite dessert.
  • Game night with your family.
  • Date night.

 

Enjoy the Outdoors

The PNW is an outdoor person’s haven. From the mountains to the sea, the options are endless.

While it’s easy to find things to do outside when the weather is warm, there is still plenty to do when the weather is on the chilly side.

  • Take the family to see the eagles.
  • Fire up the fire pit on a relatively dry evening.
  • Go for a walk along the pier or around the lake
  • Go hiking or skiing.

If you are looking for activities on a grander scale (weather permitting), the PNW has you covered.  According to TripstoDiscover.comthe top 9 outdoor activities in the PNW are:

  • Diving Into a Crater at Crater Lake National Park, Oregon.
  • Hike Through a Rain Forest in Olympic National Park.
  • Whitewater Rafting on Oregon’s Rogue River.
  • Sea kayaking in the San Juan Islands.
  • Windsurfing on the Columbia River.
  • Bird Watching at Crane Prairie Reservoir.
  • Climbing Smith Rock State Park.
  • Caving at Lava River Cave.

 

cup mug water tea

Nice Cup of Tea

I relish a steaming cup of herbal tea during winter evenings.  Celestial Seasonings’ Bengal Spice is my all-time favorite.  The combination of cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and cloves, invokes the flavors of a buttery cinnamon pastery….no joke, I can actually taste the butter and cinnamon!

For you Chai Tea lovers, Bengal Spice is the perfect caffeine free option.  Try it with milk and sugar for a true chai experience!

In addition to being tasty and soothing, many varieties of herbal tea provide health benefits.  Here is a list of 10 healthy herbal teas you’ll want to try.

  1. Chamomile tea is most commonly known for its calming effects and is frequently used as a sleep aid.  Chamomile is also well-known for its calming properties, and preliminary evidence supports this. It may also help relieve premenstrual symptoms and high blood lipid, blood sugar and insulin levels.
  2. Peppermint tea is one of the most commonly used herbal teas in the world.  While it’s most popularly used to support digestive tract health, it also has antioxidant, anticancer, antibacterial and antiviral properties
  3. Ginger tea is a spicy and flavorful drink that packs a punch of healthy, disease-fighting antioxidants.  Ginger tea is best known as a remedy for nausea, and studies have repeatedly found it to be effective for this use. However, several studies have also found that ginger can help relieve period pain, and it may offer benefits for people with diabetes.
  4. Hibiscus tea is made from the colorful flowers of the hibiscus plant. It has a pink-red color and refreshing, tart flavor. It can be enjoyed hot or iced.  Hibiscus tea may help lower high blood pressure and fight oxidative stress. However, it shouldn’t be taken with a certain diuretic medication or at the same time as aspirin.
  5. Echinacea tea is an extremely popular remedy that’s said to prevent and shorten the common cold.  Evidence has shown that Echinacea may help boost the immune system, which could help the body fight off viruses or infections.
  6. Rooibos is an herbal tea that comes from South Africa. It is made from the leaves of the rooibos or red bush plant.  Rooibos tea has just recently begun to be studied by scientists. Preliminary evidence suggests that rooibos tea may help improve bone health and reduce heart disease risk, but more studies are needed.
  7. Sage tea is well-known for its medicinal properties, and scientific research has begun to support several of its health benefits, especially for brain health.  Several studies have found that sage improves cognitive function and memory. It may also benefit colon and heart health.
  8. Lemon balm tea has a light, lemony flavor and seems to have health-promoting properties.  Preliminary studies have found that lemon balm tea may improve antioxidant levels, heart and skin health and even aid in relieving anxiety.
  9. Rose hip tea is made from the fruit of the rose plant.  It is high in vitamin C and beneficial plant compounds. These plant compounds, in addition to certain fats found in rose hips, result in anti-inflammatory properties.
  10. Passion-flower tea is used to relieve anxiety and improve sleep, and studies have begun to support these uses.  (healthline.com)

 

orange tabby cat sleeping on white textile

Sleep In

Indulge yourself on your day off and sleep in.  If your body insists on waking up early everyday, then spend some time in bed relaxing, meditating or reading.  It’s okay to slow down.

In addition to sleeping in, there’s napping. Anyone who knows me, knows that napping is my favorite!

Napping isn’t just for babies. Studies show that an afternoon nap is great for adults, too. A short nap in the mid-afternoon can boost memory, improve job performance, lift your mood, make you more alert, and ease stress. (Webmd.com)

Amy Slusher Photography

Smile

Did you know that if you smile, your body thinks that you are happy and you become happy?  When our smiling muscles contract, they fire a signal back to the brain, stimulating our reward system, and further increasing our level of happy hormones, or endorphins.  Thanks to the positive feedback loop of smiling, we can alter our brain’s emotional processing pathway to feel happier with a simple smile.  (britishcouncil.org)

So, it seems that if we are stressed or are feeling down, a simple smile can help us improve our outlook.  Try it and see for yourself!  Plus, smiling is contagious!!

So, whatever puts a smile on your face, try to incorporate more into your life during the new year and see what happiness awaits you!

 

 

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