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Start Your New Year Fresh

We are about to step into a brand new decade, and I’m sure many of you are excited to start with your resolutions and ensuring that you start your New Year fresh. I am too, which is why I’ve put together some suggestions that I’m following and that you can follow too!

  • Deep clean your house before NYE. You still have plenty of time to deep clean your home before the New Year, and that’s one task I’ve taken on this past weekend. To me, there’s no better way to start your New Year fresh than with a clean home from top to bottom. I may even rearrange some of my bedroom furniture to give my room a new look!
  • Go through your possessions. For many of us, we accumulate things over the years, things that we really don’t need. The process of packing up my possessions has helped me to go through my stuff, and whether you are moving or not, you should definitely take some time to go through your things and see what you can get rid of. Now is a great time to donate or even have a yard sale this next weekend.
  • Get rid of toxic habits. Breaking a habit can be just as difficult as making one, but that’s a great way to start your New Year by focusing on improving yourself and working on becoming a better person.
  • Start a savings plan. I know many of us want to save more money in the New Year so we can travel more or upgrade your car, home, etc., whatever it may be. The best way to do this is to start a savings plan and work towards it starting now.
  • Clean your car. Don’t forget about your vehicle while you’re cleaning to start fresh! With how much time some of us spend in our vehicles, it could definitely use a cleaning inside and out to help freshen up and give you that new car smell, even if it’s several years old.

How do you start fresh each year? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!

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A Not-So Traditional Christmas

When I was younger, Christmas always held such excitement to me. I loved everything about the season, not just the presents. The first weekend after Thanksgiving was always the time we’d decorate, and we all had assigned roles in decorating the inside and outside of the house. I was usually in charge of handing my dad light clips while he climbed the ladder to the roof of the house while my mom and brother set up other decorations. Soon after that, my mom would start baking a million cookies, my brother and I would start searching for our gifts, and the holidays were officially upon us.

As we age, traditions change, as is inevitable. For me, Christmas got a little smaller. I still go see my dad’s side of the family on Christmas Eve, but on Christmas day it’s usually just me and my mom or the three of us when my brother joins us. My mom and I still bake cookies together because that’s a tradition we enjoy doing. We give them out to friends, neighbors, coworkers, and of course have a stash when my brother comes home for Christmas, even though he’ll say he doesn’t want to eat any. After we open the stockings and gifts, we’ll likely go to Christmas mass, then have some lunch, and go see a movie (this year it looks like it’ll be Little Women). The movie thing is only a few years old, when I was younger Christmas was all about playing with new toys we received. One year my brother and I got an air hockey table, that was a loud Christmas for my parents I’m sure. For some, these may not really seem like a traditional Christmas, while to others, some of these traditions are how they celebrate as well.

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Here’s the thing I’m learning about Christmas as we grow up. What is a “traditional Christmas” to one is completely different to someone else. Traditions can change, sometimes in ways that cause growing pains, other times in ways that make you wonder why you didn’t change them sooner. For some people, Christmas happens a week before the actual day. For others, it happens a week after the actual day. What makes it a traditional Christmas is that everyone is gathering together. Christmas is a time for family and friends to gather together, reflect on the year, look forward to the upcoming year, and most importantly, create memories together.

Whether you celebrate by going to the beach or building a snowman or having a Christmas movie marathon, your Christmas is traditional to you. If your family is not the kind to gather around the piano and sing Christmas carols, that’s ok, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a traditional Christmas, it just means your traditions look a little different. As long as you are with people you love, whether your family by birth or family by choice, that’s the most important part.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays! I hope no matter how you’re celebrating this year, that you’re surrounded by love and laughter.

Let Go of the Perfect Christmas

As a society, we’ve pretty much had it drilled into us that we should have the perfect Christmas. The perfect tree, the perfect decorations, cookies, etc., y’all can see where I’m going with this. We all feel so much pressure at the holidays to have the perfect holidays and the perfect family photos, and really, it’s the little moments that aren’t perfect that make it so much better. Trying to be perfect can be draining, so it’s time to let go of the perfect Christmas that you see in magazines and Instagram.

So let go of the perfect Christmas and start enjoying the moments you have together. Don’t be stressing about having the house perfectly cleaned and decorated for your guests, because that’s not the important part. The important part is the time spent and the memories made together. Go look at Christmas lights or go out and try a restaurant’s holiday drinks together to celebrate the season. Enjoy the slightly crispy cookies that came out of the oven after a few minutes too long. Enjoy celebrating early or late, because you were able to get the time together, and really, the day isn’t important. Don’t stress about the party you’re throwing being “just right” because family and friends care about spending time together, not if the appetizers look like Grinch or reindeer.

Learn to Rest

This past week I was down with some sort of illness, and I had to do one of the worst things in my mind: rest. I am very much a go go go type of person, and having any kind of downtime can be very difficult for me, especially when I’m sick. This time of year is horrible too since it’s so busy with baking and cleaning and decorating, so I definitely was not feeling like resting. However, my body had a different idea, as I could barely stay awake the first day thanks to a nasty fever. The next day was all about learning to rest so I could move on from the illness.

For those who prefer to constantly be on the move, learning to rest can be pretty difficult, but it’s something we all need to do. Our bodies will tell us when we need to rest, we’ll feel more fatigued or start lacking energy, and when we hit that point, we need to start listening to our bodies and take the downtime. I wasn’t able to bake cookies or do much around the house, but I was able to watch several cheesy Netflix Christmas movies, keeping the Christmas spirit alive, even if I was struggling to stay awake some moments. Whether you prefer to read a book or relax and watch tv when sick, it’s definitely important to allow your body the time to do so, and maybe even schedule some in before you get sick.

While you’re resting, especially while sick, don’t forget the immunity tea, chicken noodle soup, and lots of water. This is cold and flu season, so we all need our immune systems to be on guard, and if your body is telling you to slow down, listen to it! I am so glad I took a couple of days off work to rest and get over whatever I had rather than trying to push through and extending it for more time. Because sadly, that’s the reality of pushing through when you’re sick: you make the sickness last longer.

Pace Yourself on Holiday Treats

The holidays are officially here and I know one of the biggest downsides, and biggest upsides, is that it’s cookie season. I am an avid baker, and I love trying new recipes out, which means I also looove eating cookies. Unfortunately, that’s not the best choice when it comes to healthy eating, so this means falling back on my favorite thing. Moderation.

Everything in moderation is my standard for things. I don’t overindulge, but I also don’t restrict myself to where I won’t have a piece of chocolate cake if I want it. However, I do have to exercise a bit more self control during Christmas cookie times because those are so delicious. Just make sure to pace yourself. Set yourself a limit and enjoy only a few a day, and make sure you have other healthy snacks in there too. There’s no harm in helping yourself to an extra cookie or two if you can balance it out.

One thing I like to do is pick and choose where my sugar comes from. If I go to Starbucks that day, I avoid the extra sugars elsewhere like in desserts, because I know that White Chocolate Mocha or Peppermint Mocha I love so much is loaded with sugar. However, if I’ve been having unsweetened herbal tea and water, then there is no reason for me to refuse the dessert menu or not help myself to a couple of cookies from the tray.

Another option is to lower the sugar count in your cookies. There are so many recipes out there and it’s easy to do. Another thing I like to do is increase the flour while decreasing the sugar. You get fluffier cookies, and the sweetness really doesn’t change.

Do you have any tips or suggestions for pacing yourself during the holidays? Drop them below, I’d love to read them!

Enjoy the Little Moments

The holidays are an absolutely insane time of year, and it can be overwhelming to run from the parties to the decorating to baking cookies. But the best way to handle things is to enjoy the little moments. Enjoy the moment where you and your family are just sitting quietly, all together around the Christmas tree. Enjoy the moments where you accidentally burned some cookies and are laughing about it after. Those are the moments you’ll hold onto for years to come.

Try Essential Oils

Hey y’all, so with the holidays coming up, Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and then BAM Christmas, I think it’s safe to say everyone’s feeling the stress a bit more. I know I sure am, and when I get stressed, I start looking for different ways to help me handle the stress. One way that is a great option for many people is essential oils. While I certainly don’t believe essential oils can cure everything, I do think that a pleasant scent while you are dealing with potentially unpleasant emotions or feelings can make a huge difference in stress levels.

Scientific evidence backing up the use of essential oils is slim, but I know for myself, whether it’s a placebo effect or not, breathing in certain scents helps me to calm down and relax for a bit. There are many people who will agree with this sentiment and have found using essential oils to be beneficial in several ways.

Certain scents help with certain things, so depending on what’s going on with you, you may need a different scent than one I would reach for during the holiday season. Here are the associated health claims with each one.

  • Peppermint is used to boost energy and aid in digestion (while peppermints themselves are great for eating, you don’t want to eat peppermint essential oils, just enjoy the Christmas-y scent they bring 🙂 )
  • Lavender, Bergamot, and Sandalwood are all used to relieve stress and help with relaxation
  • Rose helps with anxiety
  • Chamomile is a mood booster and helps with relaxation (a cup of chamomile tea is one of my favorites after stressful evenings)
  • Ylang-Ylang helps with headaches and nausea
  • Tea Tree helps with fighting infections and immunity (tea tree oil on your scalp can also help relieve dandruff, just make sure to use a small amount)
  • Jasmine helps with depression
  • Lemon helps digestion, mood, headaches, and more. It’s also a great scent for kitchens, very fresh and clean.

If you want to find out more information about essential oils, check out this article https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-are-essential-oils#types It’s a great resource for those who are interested in trying these out.

Prepare Everything Early for Thanksgiving

Hey y’all one of my favorite holidays is coming up this week and are you ready? Whether you are hosting a bunch of family over for the day, traveling to be with others for the week or spending it on your own, you’ll want to start preparations early. For those hosting, that’ll start with doing chores one evening, the next making pies ahead of time, then preparing the stuffing mix, etc. If you split it up into a few tasks each evening leading up to the big day, you can enjoy the actual day of a little more without feeling so stressed out. For those of you traveling, the same thing applies! Pack your bags ahead of time, make sure your arrangements for your pets are done, get that rental car confirmed, and then make sure to take time to relax beforehand. Traveling can be super stressful, so take care of yourself and try to alleviate any extra stress that you can. For those who will be spending it on your own, prepare a smaller version of the big meal for yourself, and then find some time to relax. Whether you have to work Black Friday or are studying for a big test, get some of the other things done out of the way chore-wise so you can focus on that and not feel as stressed each day.

Clean Out Your Decorations

Now that we are in the ‘ber months, it’s the time to start cleaning out your decorations. Go through what you have for Halloween, Christmas, and Thanksgiving, and make sure that everything works, anything that’s broken gets thrown out and anything you haven’t used in a couple of years can get donated. This way, you are making sure that you aren’t holding on to something that won’t work anyway, and you’re getting a headstart on cleaning and organizing your garage storage space.

Ways to Swap Out Unhealthy Foods for Healthy Foods

Hey y’all, so I think it’s been drilled into us enough that healthy eating is super important. The more junk food you eat, the “junkier” you feel, whereas healthier foods will give you energy and nutrients, and help keep you from getting sick. However, we all know, junk food tastes really good sometimes. We are in football season, which means football parties and football food, not to mention we have Halloween and Christmas and Thanksgiving coming up in a few months. All of these things generally mean there are some unhealthy food options in there. Luckily, there are ways to swap out unhealthy foods for healthy foods, and it won’t even be that painful!

Moderation is always what I use when it comes to healthy eating. I’m not big on dieting or diet foods, and I think the instant you cut something out of your diet completely, the more you crave it, or at least, that’s how it has always worked for me. So, rather than do that, it’s better to find a nice healthy balance. With these tips, you can hopefully do just that while enjoying everything the upcoming seasons have to offer.

  • Try non-dairy milk options instead. If you’re noticing that you are having some stomach issues after drinking milk or you just want to try to get away from dairy in general, try almond, coconut, or oat milk. I’ve had all of the above, and since I can no longer have dairy in my diet really, I’ve found that all of the above make great substitutions and in my opinion, taste better than real milk anyway.
  • Lessen the sugar in recipes. I know it may seem like it’ll be a huge deal to start changing recipes, but this is something I did last year for Christmas cookies, and they tasted the exact same, and were healthier with less sugar. Talk about a win-win!
  • Try a lean white meat instead of as much red meat. Again, this is moderation, so don’t cut it completely from your diet, but definitely try swapping it out here and there. White meat is notoriously better for you than red meat, so see how you like it. An easy way to do this is to use ground turkey instead of ground beef in recipes. This is another thing that I think tastes better, so I try to swap it out as often as I can.
  • Get your veggies in your smoothie. I used to be someone who had a strawberry banana smoothie with chocolate in it. Tastes delicious, but I definitely lost the health factor. Now, each morning I have a tropical smoothie with protein powder and some greens like spinach and/or kale. It still tastes delicious as the protein powder gives it an extra sweetness, and I can feel good each time I make one knowing I’m fueling my body rather than putting extra junk in it.
  • Try different fruits for desserts. Let me explain. So instead of a banana split with ice cream, try a banana split with yogurt. Top it with fruit and nuts and even coconut flakes. It’s much healthier, and will still get that sweet tooth satisfied. If you’re craving a different dessert, try cut up bananas with honey and some cinnamon. Again, you’ll satisfy the sweet tooth without having too much added sugar.
  • If you aren’t a huge fan of vegetables, find ways to sneak them in. One way is to have pasta filled with vegetables or even spiralized veggies instead of pasta. For example, I tried a butternut squash stuffed shell recipe this year, and it was delicious. I’ve made it several times, and absolutely love it. If you’re more daring, cook up spiralized zucchini and squash and put some tomato sauce on it. You may not even notice that you’re eating veggies instead of pasta. I can attest, it tastes delicious.
  • Eat baked chips instead of regular. This way, you’ll still get your chips, but they’re a smidge healthier when they’re baked.

I hope these tips help, and that you find something here that helps you to have some healthier options in the future. Let me know if you have any tips you’d like to share!

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