The official first day of spring is in just a few days. Even though we still have snow here in Canada, I have been working on making my apartment feel bright and fresh for the coming spring season. So, today, I am excited to participate in a YouTube challenge for Spring DIY and Decor. For this challenge, I am sharing my spring apartment tour.
Many of my decorations are DIY projects. If you’d like to see more about how to make these decorations, let me know in the comments below.
Do you feel hopeless, lethargic, and agitated? Are you eating and sleeping a lot more than usual? All of these are symptoms of depression, but if you only have these symptoms during the winter or these symptoms intensify during the winter, you may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.). The Mayo Clinic defines it this way:
While I have never been formally diagnosed with this, I have sought advice and assistance in this area from my family doctor. If you are struggling with symptoms of depression, I encourage you to seek professional help. You may need medication and specialized therapy. This article is not intended to replace that, but simply to share tips on how I have learned to cope.
This is Part One of a series of articles on my top five tips to beating S.A.D. So here is my first tip:
When it is cold and snowy outdoors it can be tempting to stay inside where it is warm and cozy. Getting dressed in the required outerwear can seem like a chore, and much of that outerwear can feel cumbersome and restricting. However, getting outside is a crucial part of dealing with S.A.D. Here are three reasons why:
You get active
Let’s be honest, you are not likely to go outside in the cold to just sit and relax! Staying warm requires some kind of movement, and movement is an important part of good health. It has many benefits from combating diseases to increasing energy levels. This is a great opportunity to try some winter sports activities. The list of winter sports is endless, but here are just a few I have found enjoyable: cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, and hiking. Even something as simple as taking a scenic walk or building a snowman can be enjoyable and provide exercise at the same time.
You get fresh air
Step outside and take a deep breath of fresh air. What do you feel? Doing this always seems to clear my mind. Perhaps because it increases my oxygen levels which is an important part of maintaining overall good health and especially important for the brain. Oxygen is vital to the brain. According to National Association for Child Development, “Brain cells are very sensitive to decreases in oxygen levels and don’t survive or function well very long without it.” http://www.nacd.org/my-brain-needs-oxygen-what-can-i-do/ Our oxygen levels are so important, they are considered vital signs by the medical field. No wonder we feel sluggish during the winter when we are all inside with the windows closed and the heat turned up!
You get sunlight
One of the main causes of S.A.D. is a shortage of vitamin D which humans produce when exposed to sunlight. For those of us who live in the north, the nights can seem never ending and the time frame for getting sunlight is much shorter. It can be dark when we leave home in the morning and dark when we return. It might take a little planning, but setting aside a half hour each day to be exposed to sunlight is an important step in fighting S.A.D. If it is almost impossible to find this time or on stormy days when the sun is not shining, light therapy can be used instead. I purchased a light box several years ago and have found it to be extremely helpful. More information visit the Mayo Clinic website here: https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/light-therapy/about/pac-20384604
One of my favourite reasons for going outside in the winter is the happy feeling I have when returning indoors. If I am feeling restless and “housebound,” I go outside even for a short walk. After feeling the bitter cold on my face, I can’t wait to get back indoors! Back inside, I am ready to get cozy and settle in. This is true even in the dark when I can often be found pacing back and forth on my balcony!
Now, put down your phone or close out your browser, put on some warm clothing, and head outside. Be sure to share your tips in the comments and look for part two next Saturday.
Christmas has a way of stimulating all the senses. The sound of Christmas music; the sight of colourful lights; the smell of fresh cut trees; the cool, moist touch of snow; and the taste of delectable treats.
For this week’s post, I asked my Mom to share recipes for two delectable Christmas treats she has made every year since my childhood.
1/4 cup margarine
2/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup corn syrup
dash of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
12 tart shells (frozen or homemade)
Mix all the ingredients together. Pour mixture into tart shells. Bake for 10 mins at 375 degrees F. Lower temperature to 300 degrees F and bake for 15 more minutes. Enjoy!
Sweet Marie Bars
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups rice krispies
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Melt first three ingredients together in a saucepan. Remove from stove and add rice krispies. Put in an 8 inch square baking pan. Melt chocolate chips in a separate saucepan. Pour chocolate over the top of rice krispie mixture. Cool until chocolate hardens. Serve!
Why not add these recipes to your Christmas baking traditions. Remember sweets make good gifts! Put them on a decorative plate, cover with plastic wrap, and add a bow.
It’s the season of giving. It’s the season of goodwill. It’s the season to remember Christ’s birth, and His love for all humankind. In this post, I am excited to share with you one of the most rewarding “activities” I have participated in over the last couple of years – Random Acts of Kindness (R.A.K.).
Christmas is a busy time and often a season that is hard on the budget, but I encourage you to share the Christmas spirit of love and joy by choosing even a couple R.A.K. If you have children, this would be a great activity in which to enlist their help. In doing these simple acts, we embody the true reason for the season. The very first Christmas was the greatest act of kindness ever performed. God sent His only Son to a sad, angry, and hateful world that we might be redeemed from our sin. During His life on earth, Jesus performed many acts of kindness when He healed the sick and fed the hungry crowds. Matthew 14:14 says, “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” This is just one of the many times His heart was moved with kindness.
While I strongly believe in developing a spirit of kindness throughout the entire year, Christmas is the perfect opportunity to start the habit. So here are 15 of my favourite R.A.K.:
Leave a small gift in your mailbox for your mail carrier.
Tape some money to a vending machine.
Leave a “Thank You” note taped to the bathroom mirror for the janitor at work or school.
Leave small amounts of money around a dollar store.
Do a family member’s chore without telling them it was you.
Tape some money to a parking meter.
Give compliments to at least 5 people in one day.
Leave a positive note in a library book.
Leave a coffee shop gift card in a hospital waiting room.
Let someone go ahead of you in line.
Give a larger tip to a waitress/waiter.
Send flowers to someone unexpectedly.
Buy coffee for all your co-workers.
Tape money to the wash machine in a laundromat.
Leave a note of encouragement somewhere in a friends house (and don’t sign your name).
I have prepared for you printable cards to include with your R.A.K. (or R.A.C.K. as they are typically called at Christmas). Just click on the image below to download the PDF file:
Be sure to share your favourite R.A.K. ideas in the comments.
There is something magical about Christmas to a child. The lights, the secrets, the treats. Magic that seems to disappear as time goes by and the responsibilities of adulthood take over. For many adults, Christmas can be the most stressful time of the year. How sad! What can be done to prevent this from happening? What can be done to recreate a magical and memorable Christmas? Read on for some tips and ideas.
Ask yourself the following question: What do I want to remember about this Christmas?If you have spouse and children, you might also want to ask them the same question. For every person, the answer might be a little different, but choose what matters most for each family member.
Next, sit down and make a holiday schedule. Make one for the whole month of December, one for each week, and/or one for each day. Take a serious look at all the events and responsibilities of the season and see how each thing fits with your priorities. Will this event help you remember what you want to remember about this Christmas?
Once you’ve determined what events, etc. match your priorities, don’t be afraid to say “no” to the other things. If you say “yes” to everything, you won’t have time to truly enjoy the things that are important to you. You’ll also feel a lot of pressure and stress – exactly what we are trying to avoid. Remember, too, it isn’t being selfish to say “no.” If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to help others (including your own family).
Keep it Simple
This point follows closely with the last point, but here I want to cover more of the smaller details of the season. If my readers are are anything like me, you might be striving to have a “perfect” Christmas. I want a perfectly decked tree, a perfectly spread tablescape, and perfectly wrapped gifts. There is a big problem with that, however, since I can spend my whole Christmas season working and fretting over everything I do. When the holiday as passed, most people are not going to remember those things. What people will remember is the interactions between family members and friends (whether strained or pleasant) and the mood of the atmosphere (whether happy or sad). Choose to enjoy the moment rather than on fretting about everything being perfect.
Schedule Quiet Times
This point also ties in with setting priorities. Make sure to schedule a few times throughout the month, where you can turn the noise off, sit quietly, and reflect on this season. During this time, you might sit on the floor and admire the lighted Christmas tree. You might lie on the couch and read Luke’s version of the Christmas story. You might stand perfectly still in the falling snow and catch snowflakes with your tongue. Whatever, you choose to do, be quiet and only think pleasant Christmas thoughts.
So, what do you want to remember about this Christmas? Whatever your answer might be, I wish you a very Merry and Magical Christmas!
For most of us, our favourite memories of Christmas are tied to a special tradition that was practiced by our family each Christmas. While it is fun to do new and different things each Christmas, it is also fun to have something familiar to look forward to throughout the year. Today I am sharing with you ten of my favourite family traditions.
Light an Advent Wreath.If you attend a church that does not participate in this seasonal type of worship, this is a great idea to do with your own family at home. There are many resources online that can assist with the preparation. I found http://www.kencollins.com/answers/question-10.htm to be helpful. For four Sundays before Christmas a different candle around the wreath is lit to represent Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace. The candle in the middle of the wreath is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day in celebration of Christ’s birth.
Visit a Nursing Home. Many seniors have no family members in their local vicinity. Christmas can be a difficult time for these people. Many seniors love seeing and talking to children. Maybe plan on the children singing or helping with some sort of Christmas program. The best thing to do is contact your local nursing home and speak to the Program Director. She/he will be able to direct you appropriately.
Make an Activity Calendar. This is something my family always did when I was a child. On December 1, we gathered a large poster board, markers, tape, old magazines/catalogues, and scissors. First, Mom would mark out the grid of the calendar for December and add the dates. Then we would assign an activity for each day of the month. This might include putting up the Christmas tree, baking sugar cookies, or wrapping gifts. For each activity we either found a photo in an old magazine/catalogue or drew a picture that represented that activity and taped it on the day assigned to it on calendar. For instance, if we went Christmas dinner grocery shopping on Dec 21, we taped on a picture of a shopping cart on the square of Dec 21. On a day that didn’t have a specific activity, we took turns drawing a picture of something that represented Christmas.This calendar also acted as a countdown to Christmas since we each took turns crossing off the days as they were completed.
Buy a New Ornament Every Christmas.Throughout the year, be thinking about what ornament you want to purchase. It could be a souvenir that represents a family vacation or a set of house keeps from the house you recently sold. It’s exciting to think about something that represents the previous year and incorporate that into your Christmas tree décor.
Dress up for Christmas Dinner.In the past, it wasn’t considered Christmas if the family members did not put on their best formal wear. This was done to set apart the holiday as a special day. Of course, this can be difficult to do with little children but might be something to consider as the children get older. If you are having a formal Christmas dinner with your best dish set and glassware, why not dress for the occasion.
Have Outside Fun on Christmas Afternoon.Some of my fondest memories as a child are spending the afternoon sledding or skating with the whole family. The whole family could include grandparents, aunts, uncles, moms, dads, and cousins. You might even invite the neighbours or close friends. If it is a mild winter or you live somewhere warm, then go for a walk or play some sort of outside game. Remember to have the hot chocolate set out and ready to be made when everyone returns inside.
Invite Someone (Other than Family) for Dinner.This is another tradition my family always had when growing up. We had an elderly friend who had nowhere to go for Christmas, so he always came to our house. He came for Christmas dinner for many years. When he got sick and unable to attend, we felt a great sadness. We might not have been related to him, but he definitely felt like a part of our family. Just remember that most people don’t want to be pitied, so you might allow the person to participate in the meal by bringing some sort of food dish or gifts. I still have a blue teddy bear that was given to me by our family friend one Christmas.
Read a Christmas Book. For small children, you might decide to read a different picture book each night in December leading up to Christmas. For older children, it can be fun to read one chapter each night of a chapter book. The book does not have to be completely about Christmas. When I was a child, we often chose books such as Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Have the Children Plan Christmas Eve. Let the kids plan a skit, a song, a craft, or a special activity for Christmas Eve evening. This is better for older children, but you would be amazed how creative children can be when asked to plan something. While Christmas movies can be fun, encourage them to do something that is a little more creative for this special evening. Remember to have some special treats to wrap of the festivities.
Watch It’s a Wonderful Life. My sister and I have a long running tradition of watching It’s a Wonderful Life every Christmas. This is a great tradition to start with teenagers and/or adults. The message of this timeless classic never grows old. Some people find the movie depressing, but I find it very encouraging. It reminds us what the important things in life truly are – living honestly, giving to others, and celebrating family and friends.
I hope you found these 10 traditions inspiring, and that you will choose to create positive, uplifting memories for your family this Christmas and in the years to come. Be sure to share your favourite family traditions in the comments below.