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As we finish the first 30 days of the new year, are you evaluating your resolutions? Many of you created goals focused on food and fitness choices. Maybe you want to do something different, or give something up. Are you on track? Or did January get the best of you? What if I told you January isn’t the best time to make major changes. After a month of parties, overindulging, late nights, and travel, we are exhausted to start the new year. Why are we setting ourselves up for failure by creating lofty goals this month? What if what we need to do is not making sweeping changes, but start small.

Small changes are manageable, and often the caveat to bigger changes happening down the road. Trying to make a major shift in your lifestyle while recovering from the holiday season is a quick way to fall off the wellness wagon. If I tell you to just do 4 jumping jacks a day, I bet you can handle it. And maybe you will do a little more. The key is to start small. Enjoy those little victories. Focus on building your energy stores first, and then tackle those next hurdles to create a healthier lifestyle.

If you are wondering where to begin, here’s some tips to get you started. I see victory in your future…

Sit down to eat.

This is a simple task, yet a hard one for some. Sitting on a subway doesn’t count. Sitting in front of your computer at a desk isn’t ideal either. I’m talking about making space to sit at a real table, preferably with food and friends, to enjoy a break. Let your body relax and get out of that fight-or-flight mode that interferes with your digestion. Settling in for a real meal may help eliminate some of that digestive upset that you may have been experiencing.

Modern menu planning free printable

Get a free meal planning worksheet here.

Plan ahead.

If there is one small change you can make to set yourself up for successful change, it’s meal planning. Start with those meals that derail your healthy habits. Is it your snack choices? Plan those first. Is it breakfast? Pick out some new recipes to try that will provide you with the fat and protein to sustain you throughout the morning rush. Map your plan out in a way that works for you, on paper or in an app. Taking away the need to make a choice when you are suffering from decision fatigue is the best way to prepare you for sticking to a plan.

 

Focus on adding, not avoiding.

Too many detox programs are calling for you to give up your favorites when your tired body may not be ready. Post holidays, you are exhausted. Let’s instead think about what will nourish your body. Think hearty, richly colored soups and stews. Load them up with different colored vegetables than you normally eat. Now you are opening up your senses at the table and engaging with the new experience. There won’t be time to think about what you won’t be eating.

 

Chew your food.

Yes, this is an easy one, but often overlooked. As we embrace the colder months, it’s a time to slow down. We eat too fast and chewing is the first thing to go. We have to remember that our stomachs don’t have teeth and we need to do most of the work to breakdown our food. Focus on the idea that the more we chew, the more nutrients our body can accept from our meal.

 

Get moving.

Instead of joining a gym in January, just make a plan to move. It may be a walk outside, or maybe it’s a game of air hockey. Just commit to finding a form of movement that can restore your energy and stretch your muscles. Once your energy is restored post holidays, then it’s time to take another step on your healthy living journey. Walking throughout the day is better for you than an hour at the gym. What are you doing the other 23 hours?

Is January the right time for resolutions? Let's recover from the holidays first, and start with small victories.

 

Which of these tips do you need to work on first? Remember, pick one resolution that you can stick with and enjoy a small victory, and get ready for the next one. Thank you in advance for sharing this post with your community. 

Tissue Paper Easter Eggs

After pouring through way too many Easter craft ideas on Pinterest, I finally landed on Tissue Paper Eggs. When you have little kids, it needs to be fun, easy and hopefully not crazy messy. There are loads of dye kits that create those sweet pastel eggs, or you can use natural kitchen ingredients, but I knew it would lead to spilled bowls of dye in my house.  Tissue paper eggs are even easier because all I have to buy are white eggs.

Gather scraps of tissue paper in various colors and patterns. The pattern ones were really fun for the kids to play with on the eggs and see how they changed once they were cut into small pieces. The kids spent time cutting the paper in small pieces (less than 1″) and gathered them all together.

prep tissue paper

The eggs were hard boiled so it’s easier for the kids to work with. JJ remembers a delightful project we did last year where we gently cracked the eggs and then dyed them to create a crackle effect. All he wanted to do this time was crack the eggs. Connor took the same approach and every egg we gave him he tapped on the table. Oh well. Just eggs.

tissue paper squares

Apply the tissue paper with Mod Podge glue, or white school glue. The kids use a paintbrush so hopefully just a little glue goes on at a time.

Layer them, leave some white, let them get creative. After the first round of tissue paper eggs, the kids moved on to embellishing their eggs with Easter stickers. Still cute.

Easy Tissue Paper Easter Eggs

 

Hope you all have a happy Easter. Eggs and all!

 

Are you ready for the big game this weekend? Our New England Patriots have made it into the Superbowl again so we are gearing up for a fun night of football. The game starts at 6:30pm so you have some time to gather the kids and create some excitement during the day.

Here are a few of my favorite Superbowl ideas that will be crowd pleasers in your home too.

ice cream football sandwich for superbowl

1. Bring out the kid in everyone with these ice cream football sandwiches.

wings and pigs in a blanket Superbowl Sunday

2. Guy friendly menu for the big game. Our menu plan includes homemade calzones.

Football paper chain for Superbowl

3. Easy football paper chain to keep the kids busy.

Easy stovetop popcorn

4. Make some stovetop popcorn to feed a crowd.

superbowl commercial bingo

5. Have fun with the Superbowl Commercial Bingo.

 

Will you be watching the Superbowl this weekend? Have a fun and safe party!

#goPats

Superbowl party ideas

new years renewal

Welcome to 2015! There is something so wonderful about turning the page to a new calendar year. You can make a fresh start on your goals, resolutions and ideas for the year ahead.

There is a recent trend where people are asked to pick one word as an intention for the year ahead. Last year my word of the year was Grace. I tried to hold on to the idea of being graceful in the face of sleep deprivation, active children and a busy social schedule. Although I wasn’t always successful, it was helpful to have that little reminder in the back of my mind when presented with challenging times.

This year I have been thinking about what my new word should be for the past month. As someone who has lots of ideas and energy, sometimes I get too caught up in what’s new and shiny. My word of intention for 2015 is:

FOCUS

  • I plan to apply it at home and be present when interacting with the kids and my husband.
  • I plan to share posts on the blog that are more helpful to my readers and spend less time on sponsored posts.
  • I plan to use one notebook to write down all the thoughts/ideas/to-do’s that pop into my head.
  • I plan to limit the amount of stuff in our home so we have space for the things that bring joy to all of us.

I’m excited for the year ahead and the new opportunities that it will bring. I have a renewed interest in writing on the blog again and plan to focus on meal planning, organization and homemaking, plus a few new recipes in the coming year.

My favorite recipe posts I shared with you in 2014 were Cucumber Dill Yogurt Dip,  Banana Walnut Bread, and Coconut Vanilla Ice Cream (yummy!) In the land of homemaking, my favorite was the under the bathroom sink organizing project. I’m most proud of the Meal Planning posts from the past couple of years as those are the ones that I continue to hear are the most helpful to my readers.

Cheers to you for reading and supporting me here. If you want to share your word for 2015, leave a little note in the comments.

Photo source

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas holiday. Enjoy the time with your family and the little moments that make this holiday so special.

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Thank you to the talented Nikki Amara Myers for the holiday photos!

As everyone finishes their preparations for Christmas, here are some dinner ideas for your family. Easy peasy lemony squeezy my daughter would say. We are trying to do our best to use up what’s in the fridge and pantry in the coming weeks so we can start the New Year with a clean slate.

Monday: Shrimp and Feta (from the Dinner a Love Story cookbook)

Tuesday: Grilled steak tips, corn and Israeli couscous

Wednesday: Christmas Eve party at the neighbors

Thursday: Christmas ham, corn pudding, green salad and fresh bread.

Friday: Ham frittata and any other leftovers

Saturday: Eye of the Round Roast, potatoes and peas.

 

I encourage everyone to enjoy the next few days and try to avoid feeling like you need to “get” through the week. This is a time to slow down and enjoy the wonder of this holiday and see it through your children’s eyes. Merry Christmas and thank you to all my readers who motivate me to share my little thoughts here.

Monday meal plan to help organize family dinner

For more inspiration, see my past menus here, or the Pinterest board here, or OrgJunkie for a link-up of meal plans.

 

If you have already finished your holiday shopping, lucky you. For everyone else, here’s some great gift ideas for kids if you are still on the holiday hunt for the perfect present. After a recent trip to Magic Beans, at Linden Square in Wellesley, I got a sneak peek some of the bestselling toys this year.

Top Holiday Toy Picks

 

 

1. Sands Alive!: made of crushed seashells and mineral oil. It doesn’t dry out and doesn’t make a mess. Plus I love that it’s antibacterial.

2.Goldie Blox  Starring the lovely inventor Goldie, these sets build on spatial skills, basic engineering principles and problem solving confidence.

3.MindWare Contraptions 50 Plank Set: for ages 7+. Perfect for the tinkerers in your life.

4.MindWare Q-BA-MAZE 2.0  Great for ages 6+. Lots of fine motor skill development. I look forward to the day when marbles are acceptable in our house!

5.Battle Sheep Game: the board game is new every time you play. Reminds me a little of our favorite grown up game Carcassonne .

6. Two games that encourage working together:Feed the Woozle and The Great Cheese Chase. No more sibling squabbles.

7.SmartMax Set : I can picture all three of my kids playing with this. It grows with your child and offers a bunch of different building ideas. 

The top bestseller according to Magic Beans is….Super Stadium Baseball Game
super stadium baseball game

 

One last shout out for some PBS Kids toys on the shelves this season. PBS KIDS and Whole Foods Market announced a partnership that will bring PBS KIDS’ line of educational and earth-friendly toys exclusively to the supermarket’s customers this holiday season. PBS KIDS’ new line of products is designed to inspire creative curiosity, while supporting the development of healthy, happy kids. 100% of PBS KIDS’ net proceeds will benefit the media brand’s mission of empowering children through knowledge, critical thinking and imagination, while Whole Foods Market will donate one percent of total sales, up to $25,000, to Whole Kids Foundation, an organization dedicated to improving children’s nutrition and wellness.

Scoots

 

Disclosure: You can find a number of these toys at your local Magic Beans or online at mbeans.com or via Amazon. Links in this post are to Amazon, if you purchase through them you help support this website at no cost to you. Thank you for your support!

 

 

The magic of the holiday season can get lost when we stress about buying gifts. As we get caught up in the frenzy of generosity, it can be a challenge to slow down and find meaningful gifts. This week I had the opportunity to stroll through the variety of shops in Wellesley’s Linden Square. What a delight it was to talk to shop owners, get some personal attention and NOT fight for parking. Plus there is even a holiday gift guide to help figure out those holes on your list.

I had shopped Linden Square before, but usually it was due to a trip to Roche Brothers or The Cottage Restaurant. (best birthday brunch ever there!) On the shopping stroll, I got to check out a bunch of stores I had never been into, plus some old favorites.

Roosters: Upscale men’s grooming center. I could see my husband visiting here and really appreciate that Roosters is open on Sundays. For the holidays, check out their father and son package. They are also located in MA on Tremont Street in Boston and also in Lynnfield.

Shop Linden Square

Salon Maleah: a salon that focuses on hair only, with some excellent colorists. I loved getting my hair done into the “holiday twist.” The stylist taught us the bobby pins should be positioned so the bumpy side is against the scalp. Turns out I’ve been using them wrong my whole life! Salon Maleah is offering a holiday blow dry bundle special for the holidays!
Magic Beans shopping Linen Square
Magic Beans: toy store and so much more. I used to shop Magic Beans when I was first having babies and relied on some of their stroller experts to help me find the right ones. I really thought of it as a store for infants and toddler needs. I was happy to discover Magic Beans has a huge assortment of games for kids up to age 14!  They have GoldieBlox for ages 4-12, depending on the kit. Board games, building sets, arts and crafts and classic Brio trains. I got a crash course on the holiday hot list and hope to share some ideas if you are still in shopping mode! Don’t forget they offer gift wrap year round too.
 Shop Linden Square Shop Linden Square
Kenzie: the place to shop when your daughter doesn’t want to shop a “kids” store. They offer a tween line, but now added a women’s line due to popular demand. What started as baby and kids clothing 28 yrs ago in Coolidge Corner has turned into a focused assortment for girls ages 7-14. I really enjoyed this store and look forward to bringing Madison there when she is a little older. The holiday dress assortment was just lovely, and the sportswear was full of pop colors and fun silhouettes. (p.s. Kenzie is carrying the skiwear line Bogner if you are in the market!)
Shop Linden Square
Step to the next store over and you will find yourself in Tiny Hanger. Clothes, adorable shoes (oh, the shoes) and select toys for kids, infant through 6x. For the special little ones on your holiday shopping list, you can find some unique gift items that both mom and kids will enjoy.
Shop Linden Square
Sara Campbell: my surprise favorite shop. I always love a good assortment of cashmere for the holidays in a rainbow of colors and Sara Campbell delivered. From their versatile ruanas, to a beautiful pullover, there are plenty of gift options for that wow factor under the tree. Aside from the cashmere, my favorite item there was the charcoal grey scarf trimmed with rabbit fur. Just gorgeous.
Shop Linden Square at Bonsoir
Bonsoir: time to make your home shine for the holidays. There was a lot of beautiful, and delicate items in the store. Thankfully the staff at Bonsoir showed me some kid-proof ideas for holiday decorating. Two new fabrics for dressing the table are coated cloth and the French Green Sweet. Spilled drinks will be your enemy no more. Dress it up with a rhinestone runner and your table is good to go.
Bella Sante: Lovely spa for all your relaxation needs. Need to give your husband a gift idea? Try the 5 Elements Treatment. Two hours of bliss. Sign me up. Plus you can get $25 spa dollars to spend on products for every $200 gift card.
Shop Linden Square
Tobey Grey: 13 denim lines for your shopping pleasure. They even have denim for your guy! Tobey Grey had some fun holiday tops too if you haven’t picked on out for parties this month.
Have you shopped Wellesley’s Linden Square? Happy holiday shopping!
Disclosure: I attended a media shopping event to help facilitate this story. All opinions shared here are my own. 

We are getting into the Halloween spirit around here. After a tough September with Madison’s appendix surgery, we are all looking forward to the simple joy of enjoying fall and Halloween this month. One of the first signs of Halloween around here are the little faces I add to the fruit for the kids lunch box. It started with clementines, but often I’ll write on banana peels too.

Cute and spooky halloween pumpkins for lunch or snack time

For early readers, I love adding in simple words like Boo, Love, and Happy. It’s a nice way to engage the kids in some conversation about lunch time and if they liked their little surprise and find out who sat next to them and if they showed their friends. One mom got her daughter to start eating clementines after seeing a little Kitty clementine in Madison’s lunch box.

I often use a Sharpie for writing notes and spooky faces, all on skin that will be removed. Another option is to get a Food Writer Marker that is safe to use on more surfaces, like an apple peel. In the spirit of Halloween, I also just picked up some of these cute Candy Eyeballs that are sure to be a silly addition to the kids lunchbox or snack time.

Add fun words to the kids lunchbox

I hope your little one enjoys some pumpkin clementines this season!

 

Hello March…won’t you let winter go already? Who’s ready for some spring weather and grilling on the menu? Me, me, me! But it looks like we will be waiting it out for another week so there’s some cozy crock pot dinners and of course, the traditional Saint Patrick’s Day menu planned for this week.

Meal plan monday March 17th

Sunday: Corned Beef and Cabbage with Carrots, Potatoes and Irish Soda Bread.

Monday: Saint Patrick’s Day leftovers!

Tuesday: Swordfish piccata, rice and roasted asparagus

Wednesday: Meatloaf, butternut squash and egg noodles

Thursday: Ham and cheese quiche with spinach

Friday: Pizza night with homemade dough! No pepperoni during Lent so we are doing lots of veggie pizzas with red peppers, broccoli, and mushrooms. Maybe a zucchini and feta one this week too.

Irish Soda Bread Recipe

Have a happy Saint Patrick’s Day! If you are looking for some recipes or craft ideas to celebrate the day, head over to my Pinterest page for more idea..

 

For more inspiration, see my past menus here, or the Pinterest board here, or OrgJunkie for a link-up of meal plans.