Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Spa Music at Home

I love the tips in your last posts Brittany on working through negative energy days and breaking the routine.  It's usually the little things that make the biggest difference.

For example, I've started turning the TV off more during the day and spending less time on the computer (as you may have noticed by my absence lately!). Instead we've been listening to relaxing music and it's making a HUGE difference.

I tend to need to have the TV on all day for "background noise". Instead I went out and got this CD player on Amazon:

Remember those?? It's like a MP3 player but you have to put these giant "compact discs" in there that only play like 10 songs at a know me and technology! :)  Although it does come with an MP3 cable if needed. I really like it. I have some older relaxing music Cd's I wanted to be able to play and also went and got some additional Cd's. This was also great to have on our last trip to play our usual lullaby music for the baby when we put her to sleep (in a crib!) in the hotel bathroom!

I wanted to find some "spa music" to play during the day at home. Can you imagine a spa experience without the music?? I think we underestimate and forget how healing and restorative music really is, and I wanted to see if I could bring some of that relaxing, peaceful atmosphere to my home.

I found that Amazon is a great place to find music. You can buy the CD, MP3 album, or individual MP3s. They have samples of just about everything and you can check out user reviews. You may also be able to find some nice MP3s for free!

 I did searches for "spa music" and "relaxation music" and "sound healing". After sorting through the options I ended up getting these:

Sound Healing
Sound Healing

Spa Dreams
Spa Dreams

Canyon Trilogy: Native American Flute Music
and Canyon Trilogy

All heavy on the flute with a touch, but not too much New Age-ness, which I discovered I like best.  You may like something totally different..and should be able to find it.

I feel so at peace now working around the house and started spending more time playing with my baby girl. I even got my husband to listen to music in the morning instead of watching the news, which I noticed was causing him to start off his day being upset and angry...which would usually last most of the day. He said he notices the difference already, after only a few days, and I see such great changes in him already. It's just hard to get stressed or worried with relaxing music in the background.

We are even thinking of getting rid of cable for the Summer now. I'm just so sick of zoning out in front of the TV. I love the idea of sitting outside, hanging out with my husband and friends in the evenings, working in the garden with my baby girl during the day. Kind of scary and drastic, but I will let you know if we go through with it!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Breaking the Routine

I wanted to add something that I find REALLY helps keep me in a good mood. Throwing off the routine a bit. I say "a bit" because I believe routines are a good thing. It keeps us on track and helps get things done. But do you ever feel like you are going through a rut? That every day starts to feel exactly the same?

This was my husband and my night-time routine for a solid two weeks... Make dinner, eat dinner on the couch while watching Scrubs, sit on the couch playing around on our computers while some other random show played on TV, then finally give our full attention to the TV and channel surf until its time for bed.

After about a week of that something started to feel not right. We were totally losing touch with each other and losing touch with myself to be honest. So for the next couple days, we ate dinner at the table... ok I would really love to say I turned the TV off so we could have a nice conversation, but Scrubs is just one of those things I look forward to watching! And during commercials I would turn the TV down and we would talk :) But AFTER dinner is where I cut out the TV. No one needs that much TV in the evenings! Instead Austin and I will try and do something together. One of our favorite things to do is play a competitive video game. Ok I know what you are thinking, video games are still TV. But at least we are interacting, laughing, and having so much fun with it! One of our favorite games is still Mario Kart! I'm thinking about buying some board games to play in the evening as well (if you know any good ones let me know!)

The other night it was absolutely gorgeous out! So we last minute decided to have a bon fire in our backyard on a Tuesday night, called up some of our friends and had a great time! Who says you have to wait until the weekend to do stuff like that? Really helped to break up the week!

So after a week of trying some new routine type stuff, I really noticed a difference in both our moods! And we were definitely more connected with each other.

Again changing your routine doesn't have to be anything drastic (try taking a new route to work) it just something to break up the monotony of life.

Let me know if there are any little routine breakers that you guys come up with!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My Big Spring Purge!

This month I've been working on (as Tiffany called it) "Spring purging". I'm doing all that I can to clear my mind, body, soul, and house of negative energy and clutter. I'm working to make myself and my surroundings feel lighter and fresher.

One of the things I have been working on is spring cleaning and landscaping and it feel soooooo good! I really believe a clean, un-cluttered house is the key to peace and happiness! My mind feels so much more calm when the house and yard are in order. It is a lot of work, but I always feel really good after a day of yard work or cleaning. Because I know I've worked hard and I can see the results.

Something I have to work on rather regularly is defusing negative energy. Unfortunately negative energy is so strong. I've said this before, but being a happy positive person doesn't always come super natural to me. Fighting negative energy is just something I might have to always battle with. But I'm okay with that, I think being a positive person is worth it! When I feel that negative energy creeping up, there has been some things that I have been doing to try and get rid of it that I would like to share with you all. It seems to have been working for me so maybe it will work for you too, if you struggle with negative energy as I do (and I think it effects all of us from time to time.)

1. I have been taking a lot of B vitamins, the "happy vitamins", and I think I really notice a difference. I feel calmer and more focused. My mind isn't as easily stressed out about all I need to do that day. I've been trying to drink water all day as well.

2. If I happen to wake up on the wrong side of the bed, which happens quite a bit, I will come downstairs and turn on some calming, yet up-lifting music and open the window a crack, even if it's cold out. Then I sit and take a couple deep breathes and fill my mind with thoughts of spring! The music and fresh air really help cleanse the soul.

3. Taking a walk is one of the best things you can do for yourself I think. When I walk now, I try to clear my mind of the days tasks. I try to use my walk as time to clear my head and take in the beauty of the world around me!

4. I know I repeat this a lot, but that's because it is so important! A clean house! I know it isn't always easy to keep a clean house. To be honest mine is rarely squeaky clean. But it is definitely something I am trying to work on this month. Because I notice such a huge difference in my mood when the house is clean!

5. I always give myself something to look forward to. Something short term, like getting the chance to hang out with my husband that night and the fun stuff we could do. Something long term, I always try to have something planned for that weekend. And something long long term, Austin and I are always planning our next trip together! All this really helps keep my mind focused on all the fun positive stuff ahead!

Well these were just a few things that I have been doing lately that I wanted to share. I will be writing more about My Big Spring Purge soon!!!

Friday, March 18, 2011

DIY: Heirloom White Decorating

I feel like every frugal decorating blog I've visited has mentioned being obsessed with Rustoleum's Heirloom White spray paint. I didn't quite get it.. it's just white spray paint, right??

But I have seem some amazing transformations using it, taking collections of mismatched things, like dishes, frames, candlesticks, etc., painting them all heirloom white and getting amazing results.

Like Centsational Girl using Heirloom white to turn all this:

ugly brass

To THIS in the post here...white table final 
So yeah... I went ahead and picked some up the last time I was with my husband at Home Depot.

I can home and was frantic to find something to paint.

This ugly cheap plastic green flower pot was the first thing I spotted.

By the way, I went out and got this plant (at Home Depot) after much debate over the fake plant I was debating keeping at the end of this post. I decided you just couldn't beat the real thing. It makes me so happy every time I see it, as opposed to the fake one, as nice as it was.

Especially now, after a quick heirloom white makeover....

After seeing the color in person, I totally get why everyone loves it. It looks like an antique white.. something that was originally a bright white that has aged beautifully over time. I am obsessed now and am constantly on the lookout for things around my house to bring back to life with a little spray paint.

I think I may make a trip to the dollar store tomorrow to see it there are any hideous Easter decorations like these:


And use my now beloved heirloom white to turn them into these babies:


I'll share how any other projects turn out!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Two Kinds of Light

I want to share with you Immanuel's new blog. I'm so proud of him for starting it because it's something he has been wanting to do for a long time. Immanuel is a creative thinker. He ALWAYS has ideas for projects and stories and all kinds of creative artsy things going on in his head. He needed an outlet for all these thoughts, and so his blog was created. This way others can hopefully be inspired, or simply entertained, by what his mind comes up with and what new discoveries he finds. Take some time and read through his blog. I'm especially impressed with his movie review of True Grit. Make sure you leave him comments!

If you are wondering about the name. It's from a quote he likes:
"There are two kinds of light--the glow that illuminates, and the glare that obscures."
- James Thurber

Monday, March 14, 2011

'Little House' Lessons

I treated myself a month ago to this Little House on the Prairie book set. I remember loving them when I was little and just wanted something fun and light to read.  And they are...but I ended up getting so much more out of them than I ever expected.

With the disaster in Japan this week, it's really got me thinking a lot of "What Ifs??"

What if we had to evacuate our home? What would we take? Where would we go? What is most valuable to me?

Those are pretty common thoughts, I think. But I had to go and take it a step further.....What if our entire way of life was destroyed...what if we lost our power system and had no electricity, fresh water...what if we lost access to our oil supplies and the stock market crashed or our whole economy collapsed??

Okay, took it a little too far, but this really isn't coming from a place of panic...just really got me thinking. What do we really need to survive?? Could we survive if we had nothing but what's in our home right now??

The Little House on the Prairie books have given me such an amazing insight into the human spirit.

They grew, built, cooked, sewed practically everything they needed. Would pack up the covered wagon, travel to the unknown, and build a new house and furniture from all materials from the land. Grew their own food, letting nothing go to waste. Helped out and depended on their neighbors. Children had such respect for their parents. And husbands and wives worked together as a perfect team.

And they were happy and so grateful for everything. Every little thing. No matter how bad things got, as long as they had each other, they felt blessed for their wonderful life.

I think this has a lot to do with knowing they were capable of providing for themselves and not dependant on anything but the land...which was often pretty cruel.  In our modern life we are so dependant on things of no real value, except to make our lives more comfortable. And yet, despite all we have, it still so hard for most of us to just be happy.  That it takes so much effort to think happy thoughts sometimes

I think this all is at the core of why I feel so moved to simplify my life lately....

Making my own baked goods and cooking almost all of our meals from scratch. Making my own baby food along with cloth diapering.

Getting into making simple crafts, like this wreath, to fill my home with beautiful things that I made and love.

Changing the way I use things (or don't use) around my house like paper towels and paper napkins.
paper towel dish towel photo

Switching to a lot of my own non-toxic cleaning supplies. Even making my own deodorant! (Which, I gotta far, is a TOTAL SUCCESS!)
I'm sure some people see me doing these things and think I'm some crazy Supermom/Martha Stewart wannabe.

But I honestly do these things because they bring me so much satisfaction and joy! And I love that all of these things are making me more self-dependant. And they really are things anyone can do, even though our old-mindsets sometimes tell us we can't.

I'm always on the lookout for new things, that I'll continue to share. My new project is growing a big garden from seeds this year and learning how to do my own canning. So excited!

My thoughts and prayers are constantly with everyone that has lost so much in Japan right now. I just thank God every second for my amazing life that I far too often take for granted!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Winter Wonderland

I woke up this morning to this beautiful sight:

I think I'm the only person in Cleveland who is actually enjoying this snow. I mean, I know people are ready for spring, I am too, but spring IS just around the corner and it's March... we always get snow in March, why are people surprised by this? I actually don't mind the snow at all today. I mean, look how beautiful it is! Granted if I was out driving in it my feelings would be a bit different I'm sure.

Thankfully there is nowhere Immanuel and I really need to be today. Yesterday our toilet broke. Yeah, like broke broke. It just decided to stop working. The maintenance guy said it needed a new part and he couldn't have it fixed until the next morning. So we headed to mom and dad's and camped out there for the night. It was fun, we stayed up watching old home videos. There's nothing like watching home videos to really put life into perspective and make you realize how far you have come. And it really makes me appreciate my family even more. To think wow... we have been through SO much together. They know me better than anyone. I watch those videos and can't believe I was that small. It's so weird to watch yourself and see personality traits that are still there today. I still do that same certain facial expression and have the same "bossiness" (as my family likes to call it) as I did when I was 4! Haha. In one of the videos, when I was like 5, dad kept telling us to move out of the way because we kept blocking the camera's view and I turned and yelled, "daddy, stop telling us to move!" Boy I told him! Ha, I guess I never liked people telling me what to do, thus me being the boss of my own business. I guess God gives you certain personality traits for a reason.

So back to the snow... I love being at mom and dad's when it's snowing because of all the big windows. Our apartment has like no windows to sit and watch the snow fall and I hate that. And being able to work from home definitely has it's perks!

One of my very favorite things to do is just sit with a hot drink and watch the snow. I'm a firm believer that you have to make the most of where you live and enjoy every season fully. I am constantly hearing people complain about the weather no matter what the season (except fall, I'm pretty sure everyone loves fall). In summer they complain it's too hot... in winter is never ending complaints about the snow, and spring is too rainy. When people complain about the heat in summer it drives me crazy! We live in Ohio, it's not that hot! Enjoy it while it lasts because before you know it you'll be complaining about the cold and snow again... Sigh...I try to not complain (too much, I'm sure it slips out here and there ;) about the weather of the season and just make the most of it. Why be miserable about something you can't control? I personally love snow. There is nothing better than getting the house all nice and clean, lighting some candles, getting cozy with a hot drink and some blankets and just sit in peace and watch the snow fall. Mmmmm seriously, what is more relaxing than that? You have to find the good in every season of you life. There is always good. I feel so blessed to live in an environment that has all four seasons. When I see something as beautiful as the delicate snow falling in winter, or the first flower in spring, or the colors of fall, or the feel of grass on my feet in the summer it reminds me of how much God loves us. He created all this beauty for us to enjoy. Nature is truly amazing.

So, I believe a walk through the winter wonderland and some hot chocolate is definitely on the agenda for the evening! Probably a movie and some popcorn as well :)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Decadent Chocolate Souffle for Two

Hi! I'm back! It's been a busy couple of weeks. I've been wanting to post on here for awhile but haven't had the time to sit down and put the time into it. Something I've been wanting to share is this Chocolate Souffle for Two recipe that I made on Valentine's Day. They were heavenly! They were light and airy yet rich and decadent. Satisfies your sweet tooth but won't make you feel like you want to die because you are so stuffed. Which is good, especially if your meal was on the heavy side which ours was. (I made this Brown Butter Risotto with Lobster recipe and it was excellent. Try it out if you are looking for something a little different and special).

Another reason I love this recipe so much is because it only takes a few ingredients. Most of which you probably already have on hand. Follow the link here for the directions.

I have listed the ingredients below. My comments are in red.

Chocolate Souffles for Two
  • 3 ounces semisweet chocolate - 3 oz. is half a cup. I filled half the cup with semisweet chocolate and half with dark chocolate.
  • 2 tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 tbs coffee
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 large egg whites
  • pinch cream of tartar
  • 3 tbs sugar - I used a little less than 2 Tbs
  • I also added about a 1/4 tsp of vanilla

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Recipe: Chocolate Butterhorns

I'm having some girlfriends over for a "Book Club" meeting this week. We call it a book club, and select a book each month, but usually nobody reads it and we don't really discuss's just a great excuse to get together and visit over coffee/tea and snacks. I'd highly recommend starting one yourself!

I thought I'd make this amazing Chocolate Butterhorns recipe from LifeAsMom. I made some last Summer, but it was one of those things where I ate half of them before they even cooled...and the rest the next day, so I've been a little afraid to make a batch to eat alone again!

And, best of all, if you double the recipe and leave out the chocolate chips for some, they make great crescent roll-like dinner rolls for the freezer!

This recipe would also make a perfect homemade substitute for recipes that call for crescent roll dough.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Coconut Oil Deodorant Recipe

Okay...I know this sounds a little completely crazy....but I've been wanting to try making homemade deodorant for awhile after learning about the dangers of commercial deodorants. I've been wanting to find a natural alternative and have tried a few store bought ones with no success...they actually made the problem worse than using nothing at all...gross.

I've read on other blogs about making deodorant from coconut oil, like this link here from Survivng The Stores.

Coconut Oil Deodorant 

Here’s what you need: (modified from Passionate Homemaking’s recipe)
5 Tbsp. of Coconut Oil (I used the Nutiva Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil)
1/4 – 3/8 cup of Baking Soda (the original recipe calls for 1/4 cup but I ended up needing 3/8 cup to get it to the right consistency)
1/4 – 3/8 cup of Cornstarch (you can also use Arrowroot powder, but I didn’t have any on hand)
Essential oils (optional) ***I'm going to try a Lavender and Tea Tree Oil I already have***

Mix and fill store deodorant canisters. Might want to store in the fridge. Coconut oil is a solid at room temp but melts quickly.

Homemade Coconut Oil Deodorant

You can read more about all the benefits of Coconut Oil here.

I'm going to make this today and give it a test run...I'll let you know my verdict!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Tiffany's Spring Purge: Master Closet

I mentioned in the previous post here that I've been very motivated lately to just purge all the excess in my home and life this Spring. So I started with the area that would make the biggest difference in my day-to-day life..the master bedroom closet.

 Ugghh..the closet.

I've always dreamed of having a walk-in closet. And it's wonderful and I feel so blessed. But the majority of the clothes I've been hanging onto either don't fit, or I just don't like, especially since having a baby. And most of those would end up on the floor on a regular basis when trying to find something to wear (no, I never did learn to try something on and hang it back up..much to my husband's dismay). I was wasting a few hours every week picking up all these clothes in my closet, the vast majority of which I didn't even like...some even making me feel bad every time I looked at them.

I started the process by being honest with myself. This was maybe the toughest part. I had to face some issues...what I really needed in my life now as a stay-at-home Mom, what is my "style" now, and, most importantly, why I was hanging on to so many items I no longer needed.

So this is the before picture:
 I had cleaned recently so it doesn't look too terrible.


I went through first and pulled out maybe 10 things to get rid of.

Then I realized that just wasn't going to do. There were so many things left that I was trying to make excuses for why I should keep them.

I went back through and pulled out anything and everything that I didn't love and didn't make me happy to see hanging there every day.

And THIS is what I ended up with:

It ended up being over a 100+ items!!  Shirts, sweaters, pants, shoes, belts, socks. That's not even including the hangers! I realized that all the mismatched hangers were bothering me. I know I know..there are many more important things in life...just being honest about what makes me happy...and I learned that matching hangers is a big one. Sometimes it's the little things. By getting rid of so much I was able to get the hangers down to just black and white. I'm a happy girl.

I knew that the process was going to be beneficial, but, despite how difficult it was to let some things go, it was so incredibly satisfying and liberating in the end!!

It's the most amazing feeling to be able to grab anything now and know it fits and that I'll feel good in it. I don't know if I've ever had a closet like that in my life. I think I was always trying to attain as many clothes as possible, no matter the quality, with the hopes that it would increase my odds of finding something to wear.

 I felt so empowered by letting go of all the things I was clinging to for years, for no good reason. Most of the clothes were from college and grad school  that just don't, even if they did, they just didn't represent the "grown up" I feel like now.

Now that my closet is filled with things I love, I'm so much more selective about any new clothes I'm going to buy. I realize that I have way more options that any one person deserves and don't need anything else.

And, the best part, there is plenty of room for my little Nugget now!!