Geocaching – Free (Outdoor) Family Fun

I had heard of Geocaching years ago.

It’s one of those things that I think sounds so cool, I vow to put on my bucket list (I even put it on my Free Out of the Box Date Night Ideas post!), and then I just don’t actually do anything about it. Those are just the kinds of things, though, that I rely on to keep my family active and interested.

Over Thanksgiving break, I knew I had to think of something cool for us to do as a family. That’s when Geocaching popped into my head again. I could take the kids! It’s would be like treasure hunting. And who doesn’t like treasure hunting? That has to be fun and earn me a couple cool points!

I downloaded the Geocaching app a few days ahead of time. I’m glad I did. It gave me time to log in (apparently I had registered my e-mail address yearsssssss ago) and see what caches are nearby. So the deal is that the free version of the app only gives you access to the information for the easy finds. That was just fine for us since we are just beginning.

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Setting New Year’s Resolutions/Goals | Part 1: Priorities

Did you know that January 17th is annual Ditch New Year’s Resolution Day. Kind of a shame, right? Some people get so frustrated that they declare they will never make another New Year’s Resolution. “There is no point!” they exclaim, “no one ever carries through with them anyway.”

But I happen to think there’s no bad reason to sit down and set goals. If New Year’s Day is the reason, then so be it. It’s not the day that causes people to fail, it’s that they need to take time to develop systems to maintain and and track progress.

First we need to make the right resolution by figuring out what our priorities are. This is something I learned while doing Crystal Paine’s Makeover Your Mornings course (more on that to come because it surprised me and I highly recommend it). One night we were challenged to figure out our priorities. That night as I was journaling, I began to list them. Just the simple process of writing down my priorities really put things in perspective for me.

When I am frustrated or not sure how to act/what to do or say/etc next, I think back on my priorities list. What is really important to me? How should I behave to show myself and others what is truly meaningful to me?

So this week, before we make our “resolutions” really think about what your priorities are for the upcoming year. These will serve as your jumping off point for your “resolutions” – your goals.

Ask yourself:

  • What is area of your life is most important to you?
  • What do you value the most?
  • What do you need to focus on to get your life to the next level (whatever that means to you)?
  • What area of your life have you been neglecting lately?
  • What will make you feel fulfilled every day and all year?

Try to keep your list somewhere between 1 and 6 priorities. Six is still kind of a lot to keep track of, but if you must, you must. Some people may have laser focus for the year and truly only have one priority they want to focus on this year. Whatever works for you is what is best.

Your challenge for this week is to figure out your priorities for the upcoming year.

 


Example

1. My Children
My kids are truly my top priority in life. I love them so much and want to give them every opportunity to succeed, to grow, to learn, and to become great humans. This past year, they haven’t had the attention that they really deserve. And I began to realize that they need to know they are my top priority.

2. My Finances
I lost my job when I was caring for my father. So at this point getting my finances and income on track is a big priority. I haven’t had the chance to work on it as I would’ve hoped, but I’m working on fitting it all in.

3. My Health and Well-being.
In order to care for other people (my children, my father, even my clients) – to pour into them, I have to fill myself up first. I want to and deserve to take care of myself this year, as I have put myself below last in the past.

4. My Blog
My blog is my expression of the things that are important to me and that I see so many others struggle with. It is my way of sharing my knowledge – some professional, some not so much. It is the perfect mesh of things I love – wellness coaching (and TR) and writing. It is something that makes me happy and that I would love to begin to learn more about and work on with more consistency.


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Our Small Family (Vegetarian) Thanksgiving

In my post about Healthy Thanksgiving Traditions, I mentioned that this would be the first time our Thanksgiving was just us.  It always used to be at my mom’s house. My brother and his girlfriend would stay for the weekend. My mom would cook the same thing every year – turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole. My dad would make the same joke – yelling “Grace” as he sat down and telling my mom “there I said ‘grace.’ Can I eat now?” We would all acknowledge his joke with the groan he came to expect. And so on.

This year was very, very different. Even before, our dinners may not have seemed large to some. But these year was even smaller. Determined not to have a sad, this-is-our-first-Thanksgiving-without-Mimi Thanksgiving, I decided to make it special. I implemented most of the traditions from my blog post. Some I had started in prior years, but I really tried to make it fun and family oriented.

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Holiday Gifts for the Health Conscious

What to give? What to give? Why is it always so hard to buy presents. And since I’m all about healthy living, I enjoy giving presents that help promote a healthy lifestyle. I think it is amazing how the little behaviors we choose right now add up to make such a difference in the future. Why not help make that decision easier?

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Fitbit
The other day, my daughter kept wanting me to park closer while we were running errands. I told her it wasn’t so bad to park further away. We could get more steps that way! She told me steps don’t count unless you have a fitbit tracking them. Guess what she’s getting for Christmas.

Yoga mat
These Gaiam yoga mats are just so pretty and just the right amount of sticky for me! I could see myself doing yoga JUST so I could get out this beautiful mat. (I’m just now realizing that apparently I have a thing for elephant motifs.)

Yoga blocks
Are yoga blocks a super misunderstood piece of
exercise equipment or is it just me? When I started yoga seriously (about 10 years ago or so probably) I thought yoga blocks were just for people who weren’t quite as flexible. As I continued my practice I realized the beauty of yoga blocks – they grow with you. They can be used to help with arm balances, range of motion exercises, and even to increase the depth of some of your stretches when you get super flexible.

Running belt
I love this running belt I purchased from Amazon last spring. I wore it running to my son’s school to pick him up. I’d stick my ID, my phone, and a snack for my son it. Then he could munch while we walked home. I had done it before I had the belt – carrying things in my hand, my bag, or my bra so I’m not saying that it can’t be done without a running belt, but oh, it made it so much easier.

Weight set
Sound weird? Maybe, but seriously people love gifts that they can actually use. One year I got my brother a cast iron cookware set. I thought I had gotten him the heaviest possible Christmas present. But no! He got me a weight set similar to this one. It was years ago and I still have them and get aim to use out them a few times a week!


Magazine subscription
Online or in paper, a good magazine is still fun to look forward to. There are some cooking magazines, fitness magazines, running, skiing, snowshoeing, yoga, or tango dancing magazines. There’s neurology and entrepreneurial and the list goes on and on. I still find that one of the best ways to find new and fun magazines is by walking into Barnes and Noble and checking out the magazine section. The selection there is amazing! Of course there are amazing cookbooks and other books there too that make great presents.


Subscription Box
I have a subscription to Purple Carrot*. It was amazing in helping me get my life back in order. The meals have all been absolutely amazing for me and some more than others for the kids – of course.
But other subscription boxes that might be fun for busy people who really want to prioritize their health (that I am dying to try – but am not linking to because I don’t have experience with) include Nature Box, Urthbox, and Graze. I always forget to buy enough snacks for some reason so having them show up at my door would be awesome. Why not give the gift of a box or two?My parents and brother have often given each other subscription boxes for things like 3 months of different popcorn flavors, or 3 months of surprise ice cream flavors, fun things like that. There are even yoga boxes, jewelry boxes, and other interests. If you know what someone is into, you could very well find a subscription box to it.rock

Experiences
This is my favorite!
Something like a 5 climb pass to the
local rock gym will keep us all active on those days you just don’t even know what to do with yourself and the kids (mostly the kids). There are museums, gardens, rock gyms, parkour gyms, indoor trampoline or bouncy house buildings. Or go the more artsy route for some winter self expression – painting classes (preferably BYOB if for adults!), paint-your-own pottery places, and art studios. I gave my daughter a gift card for horseback riding one time. That was fun. Experiences are an amazing gift that don’t end up broken cluttering up the floor or dining room table in a few months and they are always appreciated.

Other great gifts would be bath salts or bubble bath for relaxation, some fuzzy socks, a yoga strap, a gym bag, or a gift card for some new running shoes. Baking healthy  treats for friends and neighbours are a sweet gift too.

What gifts are you giving this year?

*Mom is Such a Nerd is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.*

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Self-Compassion in Just 5 Minutes

5 Minutes

“Love yourself first, and everything else falls in line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world. ” – Lucille Ball

Some days life can be so crazy. There might not be time to shower. There might not be time to do your hair – or go grocery shopping – or even go outside. Taking care of my father, I couldn’t risk taking a walk around the block because he would inevitably need me the second the door shut behind me. But even though you have a million responsibilities and not enough time in the day, you can’t forget to show yourself some compassion too.

Even if all you can do is find 5 minutes while the baby is napping or your parents are engrossed in TV, use the time to care for yourself and love yourself. In order to have the time, energy, and emotional strength to take care of others, you have to take care of yourself too.

Here are 10 ways you can practice self love with only 5 minutes:

  • Meditate
    5 minutes can be the perfect amount of time. If you don’t have a specific meditation place, just go anywhere you can relax without too much interruption for the next 5 minutes (or as long as you can). Get comfortable and focus on your breathing. If other thoughts or interruptions occur, it’s okay to notice them, acknowledge them, and then let them go, and turn your attention back to your breathing.
    self-compassion
  • Write down 3 things you are grateful for.
    Gratefulness increases health, happiness, and overall well-being. The practice of picking things out to be grateful for and those moments of positivity help in the toughest of times. It not only gives your mind a backdrop of positivity, but it helps train your brain to look for those moments to cling to when it feels like hope is lost. take-care-journal
  • Do a few sun salutations, stretches, and hold mountain pose.
    Yoga can help ground you. It can be used as a moving meditation. Sometimes I just love to balance in tree pose and feel the calm centeredness.
    Yoga can also help with flexibility, bone strength, circulation, blood pressure, heart rate, range of motion, mindfulness and so much more. yoga-1159977-1919x2714
  • Read.
    Reading can take you away to a whole new time and place. It can whisk you into the future or into the past. Reading can be inspiring or educational. You can learn about the life of someone you admire, or about ways to succeed in business. You can 5 minutes by 5 minutes get through a book about a new hobby – maybe just enough time to learn a new stitch, tool, or technique. Use your 5 minutes to pursue a hobby or passion. What type of book do you like to read? I’m always interested! Let me know!books-2
  • Do a plank sequence.
    I really like to just drop and perform the following plank sequence if I think I have a couple minutes:
      30 seconds of plank (high plank the first time, low plank the second time)
      15 seconds plank with right leg up
      15 seconds plank with left leg u
      30 seconds side plank to the left
      30 seconds side plank to the right
      30 seconds of walking plank
      Repeat
      Then relax in child’s pose.
    If I don’t have time to do the whole routine twice, I’ll just go through it once and then relax in child’s pose.
  • Write a note to someone you love
    just to let them know you care. Love has the power to replace negative emotions. Fill your heart and someone else’s with positivity in just a couple of minutes.love-you-1526160-1919x1395
  • Make some hot tea.
    If you make it in the microwave it only takes 65 seconds (cook time might vary). Then you still have almost 4 minutes to kick your feet up, close your eyes, and enjoy the sensations of the hot tea.hot-tea-1329222-2
  • Tidy just one shelf or corner that’s been bugging you.
    You’ll thank yourself every time you walk past it.workplace-933425_1920
  • Say affirmations.
    I know some people think it sounds crazy, but sometimes after only hearing people telling you to do things or asking for things, someone needs to tell you and it might as well be you.
  • Get a new perspective.
    Take one object and try to photograph it from as many different perspectives as possible. It can be something completely mundane – for example a mug. From how many different angles or perspectives can you get a picture? Or draw a couple quick sketches from different angles if you prefer that form of art.

What are you going to do in the 5 minutes you find?

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Healthy Thanksgiving Traditions to add to your Holiday THIS Year

Traditions are so important to a family. They link the past and the present, they create a sense of belonging, and they give people something to look forward to (good or bad).  While I’m sure many of your family’s traditions have been passed down over generations, it’s never too late to start your own.

This Thanksgiving, I’m creating new traditions that reflect our commitment to healthy living and to creating a sense of unity and togetherness.

Here are some fun traditions you can start this year!

1) Turkey Trotimg_1587

These are 5Ks (often with an accompanying fun run) that take place all over on Thanksgiving day. I just googled “turkey trot” and listings of turkey trots all around this area and the city showed up in the search results. They usually take place pretty early in the morning so then you can get home and still get ready for diner and family time. It’s a good way to promote exercise on a holiday that promotes eating. Google turkey trots in your neighborhood!

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Purple Carrot Meal Delivery Review with Pictures

Operating in what I call crisis mode for so long, we were relying on quick food from pseudo-fast food places for way too long.

Crisis mode is when your life gets so busy that you are barely able to check your e-mail or planner an hour before you think you have to be there. It’s when life feels like it’s moving at breakneck speed (while at the same time moving not at all) and it’s all you can do to keep up. I was remembering four hour play rehearsals half an hour before we had to be there. With no time to prepare snacks, we’d run out of the house hoping to pick something up on the way. In the mad rush, we’d realize that we also forgot water bottles and have to pick water up too.

Every single event in our lives was like that. I wouldn’t have time to plan, time to shop, time to prepare eveything. Food was always a last minute thought.

Finally I found Purple Carrot online. They send a box of food in perfect proportions for the recipes they include. It will come each week and you can check the upcoming recipes online. If you don’t like what’s on the menu you can skip the week. It is saving our meals and, surely, our health.

If you are grasping at straws to keep dinner time healthy, affordable, and timely, I would highly suggest trying a meal delivery service like Purple Carrot. There, of course, are pros and cons to everything. Check out the pros and cons below.

This is my referral link. Click here to try it for $25 off of your first order!

proscons-pros

  • It makes eating healthy so easy and relatively inexpensive. Everything arrives at your door in the right proportions and is ready to go. I easily pay the same amount for a meal or two out.
  • Time. The meals so far have taken about half an hour or so. In all honestly, running out and grabbing something “because it’s quick” takes just as much time as it does to make one of these meals. Plus this way the kids are home doing their homework, getting ready for the next event, or spending time in the kitchen helping you. It is pretty exciting for them to get to bring a package in and examine the contents.
  • Introduction to new foods and flavors. I had honestly never cooked fennel before. Not for any specific reason. It has just never happened. I don’t know why. But now I’ve used it in not one but two recipes! The second time I was cutting it and my daughter walked into the kitchen. She suddenly stopped, sniffed, and said “don’t tell me…fennel!?” Then she told me she knew that’s what it was because it smells like licorice. I sniffed it and thought for a second. “Huh you’re right! It sure does,” I agreed. It’s cool that we both have had new experiences with a vegetable that we hadn’t previously had. And by the way – fennel is delicious!
  • Convenience. Not having to plan three of our meals is amazing! It leaves shopping so much easier. I just have to make sure we get breakfast and lunch foods. I try to plan something new from a cookbook or that I saw online for one of the meals. I plan one of our staple family favorites – which is great because at this rate we don’t get tired of them too quickly. For the other two meals, we might order in or throw on some veggie burgers to eat during Family Fun Night and the other I figure out from what I have in my pantry and freezer. It suddenly feels so much easier.
  • These awesome recipe cards and the fail proof recipes on them. These recipes seem so fancy and intricate, but they seem almost impossible to ruin. Because, trust me, if there was a way to mess them up I probably would’ve found it by now.
  • Easy to check the next week’s menu and skip it if you don’t want what’s being served. I love that you can login and check out what’s being served. The pictures are so pretty and the meals, thus far, have been really exciting. I can’t wait for next week’s order!
  • Guaranteed fresh plants in your diet weekly. Including more fresh vegetables in your diet has all sorts of benefits to your health, to the environment, and to the animals. Just something to think about.
  • Deliciousness!!! These meals are so good. They taste professionally made and are so well thought out. I have loved every meal so far. It is so delicious and I still feel good when I’m finished eating it – not all sluggish and gross like when we grab food on the go.

proscons-cons

  • There are only two plan options: 2 servings of 3 meals a week or 4 servings of 2 meals a week. I was slightly frustrated at first because the meal I really wanted was only offered on the 3 meal a week plan – so I went ahead and signed up for the 2 serving plan, but it worked out in my favor anyways because 2 servings works out perfectly for me and my 2 kids. It would be great if you could pick which two of the three you get.
  • Some of the meals we have had in our first two weeks have been pretty spicy, which may or may not be a con to you. My kids are not fond of spicy foods so I just learned to taste the sauces I make if there is an ingredient I am not familiar with.
  • Plastic. And lots of it.

Here are the meals we have had in the first two weeks of our subscription:

Week 1

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“Chicken” salad wraps.                                                                              This was such a big hit with the kids. It was so good. If I was going to buy fake meat again, I would definitely look for this type. This was also our first fennel experience!

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Mushroom Miso Hot Pot.                                                                                                                                      This was so good. I was surprised at how professional it tasted. It came out exactly like                                                      something I would order at an Asian restaurant.

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Corn Chowder!                                                                                                                                                This was really good. I was a little apprehensive because I’ve had a corn based soup before – not my favorite. But this was so so good! The texture was perfect and the taste was amazing. I added the chips and hummus myself. Just to give the kids something a little more.
Week 2

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Cauliflower Steak with Pumpkin Pasta                                                         I was so excited for this meal! And it definitely lived up to expectations. I added the salad on the side to round it out and kind of stretch it because I knew the kids would gobble it up too!

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Sweet and Sour Noodles                                                                                                                               This was my second experience with fennel! I loved this meal with the fennel, edamame, and pineapple. It was amazing and the kids were excited. It was a good thing I tried the sauce before adding it though. There was an ingredient in the sauce that I wasn’t familiar with fun…but tres spicy! If I had put it on the pasta, the kids would never have eaten it. I made my own sauce for it. Regardless, loved it.

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Trick-or-Treat Tacos                                                                                                                                            I think that^^ was the first dish name I actually got right. Anyways, I saw the word tacos and saw red lentils. I thought oh okay, I make red lentil tacos all the time. But these were not your run of the mill lentil taco. The lentil were mixed with tomato paste and smashed, the tacos were filled with brussel sprouts, pickled red onions, and vegan sour cream. They were so good! And this was my first time pickling onions. I have to say, they turned out well and I can see myself doing this for a number of other recipes when I get back to experimenting and playing in the kitchen.
If you would are having trouble finding time to plan, to cook, or to enjoy healthy meals with your family, I would recommend giving a service like Purple Carrot a try. Here is my referral link so you can get $25 off your first order!

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October Favorites

Things have finally started to settle down and the kids and I are slowly beginning to settle back into our home. I have to realize that it is not going to immediately be how I want it to be because it took many months for it to unravel to the extent that it did. But I love love love systems. And the more I get in place to make family life and healthy living easy, the more I can concentrate on the important things in life (like making the kids laugh, building a strong familial foundation, doing homework, and pursuing our passions).

All in all it has been a fairly good month. And things are getting better all the time. I have come across a few really great things in October that have helped make our lives easier and just more fun and enjoyable.

  1. Purple Carrot

There were so many times when we were half living in our house, half in my parents’ house that I hadn’t planned anything for dinner, hadn’t purchased certain foods because there was too much wrapping, or just didn’t have the time to prepare what I did plan. Then we would end up grabbing food from somewhere and it inevitably ended up being less healthy, less eco-friendly, and more expensive.  When we settled back at our place, I thought all the sudden I would have all the time in the world to cook, clean, write, send out resumes, fold laundry, etc etc. But I soon found that it just didn’t work like that. I takes time to re-create routines and systems. I realized that it was time to automate healthy meals – at least a little bit. So I decided to look into some meal delivery services.

Enter Purple Carrot.

I was so excited when I found Purple Carrot, a vegan meal delivery service. You can sign up for 2 servings of 3 meals a week or 4 servings of 2 meals a week. I signed up for the former because the kids don’t always eat that much or aren’t always into completely new flavors. The food is delivered to your door along with easy to read recipes. The kids and I have been cooking together and are really enjoying the whole experience.  So far every meal has been amazing! We are finding it a great way to try new recipes, new foods, and new menu ideas.

I’m trying not to make this post too long so I will do a whole review post coming up soon. So look forward to that!

If you are considering something like this to make meal planning easy, I definitely reccomend Purple Carrot. Click here to sign up through my referal link and get $25 off your first order.

2. Lunchbots – The Perfect Lunch Box Containers

 

I got the containers with the three compartments. I would like to also get the ones with two sections as another option.

When I received them, I was a little surprised at the size. They were smaller than I pictured in my head. But that worked out in my favor. Because I was able to fit other things in their lunch bags (like these awesome little containers from U Konserve) or a bag of veggie straws.

The separate compartments make planning lunches easy. I can think about what to put in each section and come up with a plan, as opposed to my old way of seeing what tupperware is clean that I could fit things into and then cram them into a lunch bag any which way! I plan something for each compartment and then throw in two more snacks (maybe a chia bar from my September Favorites list and some fruit in those U Konserve containers.)

I also love that they are stainless steel. They are easy to clean and plastic free!

3. Book: How Not to Die by Michael Greger M.D.

I may be a bit bias, but I love this book! It is chock full of scientifically researched information on plant based living. It is presented in a way that acknowledges the intelligence of the readers while still providing adequate explanations. The studies it references cover contamination issues with meat, long term health consequences of nutritional choices, and so much more.  It’s kind of preaching to the choir as I already am about 90% plant based, but it truly solidified many of my positions and stances.

I highly recommend it as a resource on healthy living and nutrition and a really fun book to read or listen to if you enjoy that kind of thing or are ready to learn more about why you should start adding more and more veggies to your diet, replacing some of the meat and animal products. I am listening to it on Audible right now, but am considering purchasing a paper copy of it because it feels like the type of book I want to be able to mark and underline.
Click here to check it out and read the Amazon reviews.

4. Kids (Anyone) Book: Penguin Problems by Jory John

I wasn’t really planning on sharing kids’ books on this blog, but when I read this, I realized it was just so right up my alley. It was recently donated to my son’s school library. One of the librarians told me I should look at it. She thought it was something I would like. I read it and wondered how, even though we’ve known each other for a couple years now, she knew me just so well.

Penguin has lots of problems. He has lots of complaints. But he comes across a walrus who has a very different view on the world and helps the penguin change his perspective to a positive one – just a little.
It’s such a sweet story. I think anyone can get a little smile from reading it.
Click here to see it on Amazon and read other reviews.

 

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links. The products are of no extra cost to you, but should you make a purchase I would receive a small percentage that will support Balancing Bananas and continue to make this site better*

 

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Take Care of Yourself, Caregiver

Trust me, I know how it is. My life revolves around taking care of everyone but myself. I am a single mom with two kids – an 11 year old actress and a 6 year old athlete. My keep-the-family-together mother just passed away a few weeks ago and my father has spinal muscular atrophy, dementia, and recently had a stroke that left him unable to weight bear. I’ve also adopted my parents’ blind dog.

I am desperately trying to keep track of all of the rehearsals, practices, and games, while still being present for whenever my father needs me. On one occasion, I went upstairs to put my pajamas on at 9/9:30 and realized I had never changed out of my pajamas from the night before! Or all too often, it gets to dinner time and I realize I forgot to feed myself all day!  

But we’ve all heard it time and time again, you have to put on your own oxygen mask first. Yeah, yeah, blah blah. But it’s true, as Lisa Nichols put it in her book Abundance Now I just read “you have to pour into yourself before you can pour into others.” I picture someone with a pitcher and people around with glasses. If the guy didn’t pour the juice into his pitcher first, there would nothing to pour into the glasses.

But it’s hard to make sure we take care of ourselves sometimes, so here are a few little tips I’ve picked up along the way:

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Cardboard Halloween Gravestones

We made these super last minute last year. I hastily posted them anyways, but here’s an updated repost in a semi timely manner.  We are remaking new ones this weekend. They are so simple, fun, and free (or inexpensive depending on the status of your children’s paint stockpile).

Last year I got boxes from the kitchen at my office. They stocked up on sweets at Costco so I grabbed the boxes before they hit the recycling bin.  This year we’ve had a fair amount of deliveries, shipments, and moves so there seems to be cardboard everywhere. We just grabbed some.

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