Spring Journal Prompts

I wonder how many of my readers keep a journal. While I don’t write in mine everyday, I find journal writing to be very therapeutic. Not only does it allow me to record my personal thoughts, it also works as an spring board for inspiration. You may have noticed that I missed posting last week. I admit the creative juices where running extremely low. Even though I had a topic in mind, I just couldn’t get my thoughts down on paper (or computer!). It was time to refocus. I did this by getting out my journal and writing down all the things that inspire me. I often do this when I am bored, lonely, or sad. My list might include the smell of fresh cut hay, the sound of a train whistle, the feel of a puppy’s furry head, the sight of a pink sunset, and the taste of my mother’s apple pie. As you can see, in this list I incorporate things that stimulate all of my senses. I also love to make these lists for each season by reflecting on how that particular season stimulates my senses and inspires me. This week in my journal, I am focusing on the spring season.

spring journal prompts

Now let me say that here in Canada, spring seems like it will never come this year. We still have traces of snow on the ground and there is basically no life showing from the trees and plants (although the crocuses have been faithful). However, in my spirit, I know that spring is not too far away, and so I have felt the need to start a series in my journal on the delights of springs. I thought I would share with you my list of spring journal prompts for one week.

Day 1: Sights of Spring

Day 2: Sounds of Spring (Not only does this include the sounds of nature, but for me, it also includes certain songs like This is My Father’s World.)

Day 3: Smells of Spring

Day 4: Tastes of Spring

Day 5: Textures of Spring

Day 6: Books of Spring (It seems that every season there are specific books that I enjoy reading. For instance, I always want to read Anne of Green Gables in the spring.)

Day 7: Activities of Spring (This is where you can list ways in which you can enjoy the things listed above. For example, a walk in the woods allows you to listen to the birds singing, feel the buds on the trees, and see the bright blue eggs in a Robin’s nest.)

Let me know in your comments, what your favourite spring journal prompts are and/or your answers to the prompts listed above.

Happy Spring!

Joanna

Peanut Butter Chocolate Easter Eggs

What says Easter more than chocolate? And what pairs with chocolate better than peanut butter? A few years ago, I found this recipe in the Country Woman magazine and couldn’t resist giving it a try. I was not disappointed. What a tasty, delightful treat these Peanut Butter Chocolate Easter Eggs proved to be. This is a great recipe to use with children. They will have a lot of fun decorating the finished product. These are the perfect Easter eggs since you get to “paint” them and eat them, too!

peanut butter chocolate easter eggs

INGREDIENTS

  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1-1/2 cups dark chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  • Confectioners’ sugar icing, optional

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, beat peanut butter, butter, and vanilla until well blended. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar and cracker crumbs. Shape mixture into 16 eggs;  place on wax paper-lined baking sheets. Refrigerate 30 minutes or until firm.

In a microwave, melt chocolate chips and shortening; stir until smooth. Dip eggs in chocolate mixture; allow excess to drip off..

Return eggs to baking sheets. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

If desired, decorate eggs with icing. Let stand until set. Store in airtight containers in refrigerator. Yield: 16 eggs.

Confectioners’ sugar icing: In a bowl, mix 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, 4 teaspoons corn syrup, 1 teaspoon almond extract and 1-2 tablespoons milk until smooth. Tint with paste food coloring if desired. Yield: 2/3 cup.
*I used gel food colouring tubes that I purchased at my local grocery store.
peanut butter chocolate easter eggs

The other fun thing I enjoyed about this recipe, was the chance to share with others. I enjoyed giving these away as gifts to elderly family members. No one is too old for a little Easter chocolate!

Happy baking and until next Saturday, God Bless,

Joanna

Spring Apartment Tour 2018

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.

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.

Hope you enjoy!

Happy spring and Easter!

Joanna

Tips for Beating Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) – Part One

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:

“Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody.” https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20364651

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.

Tips for Beating for Seasonal Affective Disorder

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:

Get Outside

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.

Snowshoeing
Outdoor activities such as snowshoeing help to beat S.A.D.

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

light therapy box
My Light Therapy Box

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.

Blessings,

Joanna

 

Mom’s Christmas Sweets

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.

Taffy Tarts

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.

Happy baking and Merry Christmas!

Joanna

15 Random Acts of Christmas Kindness

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.:

  1. Leave a small gift in your mailbox for your mail carrier.
  2. Tape some money to a vending machine.
  3. Leave a “Thank You” note taped to the bathroom mirror for the janitor at work or school.
  4. Leave small amounts of money around a dollar store.
  5. Do a family member’s chore without telling them it was you.
  6. Tape some money to a parking meter.
  7. Give compliments to at least 5 people in one day.
  8. Leave a positive note in a library book.
  9. Leave a coffee shop gift card in a hospital waiting room.
  10. Let someone go ahead of you in line.
  11. Give a larger tip to a waitress/waiter.
  12. Send flowers to someone unexpectedly.
  13. Buy coffee for all your co-workers.
  14. Tape money to the wash machine in a laundromat.
  15. 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.

Merry Christmas!

Joanna

Recovering the Magic of Christmas

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.

Set Priorities

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!

Joanna