5 Ways to Reduce Stress with a Blast-From-Your-Past

5 Ways to Reduce Stress with a Blast From Your Past!

I have the perfect combination for you! Doctors have been telling us for years how stress can cause all sorts of bad stuff – health issues, emotional issues, psychological issues. Finding ways to diffuse stress is a million-dollar business (squeezy ball anybody?). But worth it, right? Because less stress equals a happier, healthier us. But you don’t have to spend big bucks to get big relief from too much stress. Studies show that thinking about positive memories can have the stress-reducing effect that many of us are in need of. So here’s that perfect combo I  promised you: take a little a stress-reducing trip down memory lane with one of these nostalgic stress busters. Bonus: each one costs under five dollars!

  1. Bubbles. Blow your irritations away. The act of dipping a wand into soapy suds and waving it through the air, leaving a trail of delightful bubbles is sure to put a smile on your face. The 5 Ways to Reduce Stress With a Blast-From-Your-Pastdrifting bubbles soothe as they glide around you. Try naming a few of the bigger ones: Guilt Trip, Rude Person (you get the idea) and watch them pop into oblivion! (Under $2)

2. Silly Putty. Yes – it’s still around! Remember how it works? We used to press it on to comics, then roll it off and the comic image would transfer to the putty – just waiting to be stretched and distorted. Newspaper ink doesn’t lift like it used to, but pencil lead still does. Grab a pencil and make a list of those stress-inducing aggravations. Roll your putty over them. Then stretch them until they are unrecognizable and do a final blot-out by squishing the mass into a ball. Now smooth out your not-so-silly-putty and return it to its egg until it’s time to take on the next stresser! (Under $2)5 Ways to Reduce Stress With a Blast-From-Your-Past

3. Jacks. The perfect rhythm-building distraction. For a more authentic youthful experience, sit on the floor, legs crossed in the universal kid-sit way. For those of us who might never be able to get back up from such a position, a desk top works just fine for the bounce, scoop, bounce, scoop-more stress-busting activity! (Under $5 for the metal ones – even less for plastic)5 Ways to Reduce Stress With a Blast-From-Your-Past

4. Paper airplane. Fly your worries away! Write down those irksome issues that are causing you anxiety on a nice cool piece of paper. Take a trip back in time and fold up your paper, creating a calming rhythm as you smooth your creases, creating your paper-problem-navigator. Once you have that nose nice and pointy, 5 Ways to Reduce Stress With a Blast-From-Your-Pastsail your problems into the closest wall for a satisfying crunch. For the grand finale? Sail your plane into a bucket or sink full of water and watch the problems literally breakdown. Now, doesn’t that feel good? (Free!)

5. Play-Doh. Craft some shapes that represent your time-wasting worries. Got them all lined up and ready for destruction? Now aggressively flatten each one with a hand, rolling pin, or (remember Mr. Bill?) your car. When those Play-Doh stressers see you coming at them, full speed ahead, they’ll say:

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Friday Five – Edible Summer Splurges

 

Friday Five - Edible Summer Splurges

“Getting Fierce” doesn’t mean “total deprivation.” It’s about being strong – being our best. And sometimes our best us needs a little splurge. Let me be clear: this isn’t about health food. I’m not going to tell you about something wonderful and follow that with how you should cut out some of the good stuff from it to make it “better.” I’m not going to talk about carbs, calories, or sugar counts. Nope – we’re just talking about that once-in-a-while-I-don’t-care-no-holds-barred SPLURGE. Here are 5 of our summer favorites:

  1. Core flavors. Just when you think Ben & Jerry have maxed out ice cream flavor options, they add a little core to the cream. Each Core option has two flavors of   ice cream, add ins (think nuts, chocolate chunks, candy crunch) and and an ooey gooey center such as caramel, fudge or raspberry – a complete pint-sized Sundae!

Friday Five - Summer Splurge

2. Coffee gets cooler. Is that even possible? Yes! With a frosty java option such as Panera’s Frozen Mocha or Starbucks’ Frappuccino. The latter offers a mini-version for those who are just wanting to dip a toe in the splurge waters; you know – kind of a splurge-lite!

Friday Five - Summer Splurges

3. Fair Food. I’m always on the lookout for a good Strawberry Newport. Custard on a flaky pastry bed, robed with fresh sweetened strawberries, and topped with a generous dollop of whipped cream. If there’s no fair in sight, my quick at-home version not only works, it makes a great company desert! The ingredients are (1) puff pastry (thawed and cut in rectangles) (2) sweetened strawberries (we often stir in a little amaretto or raspberry liquor for an adult version) (3) French Vanilla Instant Pudding (use a little less milk than called for so it’s thicker) and whipped cream. Cook your puff pastry per box directions, and split in half when cool. Just before serving: spoon in the pudding, ladel on your strawberries, and blast with whipped cream. Mmmmmm!

Friday Five - Summer Splurges

4. Time travel. Delicious summer treat meets blast-from-the-past with a root beer float. But not just any root beer will do here. For a true taste of yesteryear, we need the vanilla notes of A&W’s draft root beer. Add some creamy vanilla ice cream for the perfect marriage!

Friday five - Summer Splurges

5. A little adult time. You don’t have to be poolside to put a tropical twist on a hot summer day. Swap out the lemonade for a fruity cocktail that will cool you down – kind of like an adult Slurpy. But make sure you avoid the adult-size brain-freeze that can come with it if you drink it too fast! Click HERE or on the picture for some fun recipes from Serious Eats – with options from the basic (frozen gin and tonic) to more the exotic (frozen Mezcal Paloma, anyone?) there’s something for everybody!

Friday Five - Edible Summer Splurges

Friday Five - Edbile Summer Splurges

 

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More Friday Five Funnies – Volume 5

More Friday Funnies -Vol 5

We have been absolutely remiss! Can’t believe it’s been almost five months since we sent you into the weekend with a few chuckles. Well, to make up for that we’ll add a couple of extra smile this go-round. For today’s Friday Five we’ve plucked seven of our favorite Facebook posts from the past few month that are sure to send you into the weekend with a smile on your face!

More Friday Five Funnies - Vol 5

More Friday Five Funnies - Vol 5

More Friday Five Funnies - Vol 5

More Friday Five Funnies - Vol 5

fb fbf frying bacon old apr 16 edit

More Friday Five Funnies - Vol 5

More Friday Five Funnies - Vol 5

If you haven’t had a chance to check out our Facebook page yet, drop by for a visit. We hope you LIKE it!

If you want to catch up on Friday Five Funnies you may have missed, here are the links for the first four:

Facebook Funnies    More Friday Funnies   More Friday Funnies (Vol 3)  

More Friday Funnies (Vol 4)

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How to Make Your Peepers POP Behind Glasses

How to Make Your Peepers Pop Behind Glasses

 

There are great eyeglass choices out there these days – studious, whimsical, retro – something for every personality. But no matter how much pizazz your frames have, your eyes should still be the stars of your face. Often the eyes end up with a facial supporting role, the sparkle dimmed by a layer of glass and lashes that disappear behind frames. It’s time to get those orbs back to center stage! Here are 5 tips to get those peepers to POP from behind glasses:

  1. Add a little line. Take a dark eyeliner pencil and line from the inner corner of your eye to the lash line. A little line with a lot of defining power. This is a regular part of Drew Barrymore’s bespectacled beauty routine!

How to Make Your Peepers Pop Behind Glasses

2. Go nude. Don’t go off topic here – we’re still talking make-up, people. (Remember, we’re trying to keep the focus on the eyes.) Many of us adopted the tried-and-true Hollywood-habit of lining the inside of our lower lids with white pencil to brighten the appearance of our eyes. Unfortunately, donning glasses can turn soft emphasis into racing-stripes. To avoid the harsh effect, trade your white pencil for a nude shade like this waterproof pencil from Rimmel.

How to Make Your Peepers Pop Behind Glasses

3. Modify mascara. All my make-up-wearing life I purchased only mascara that promised to add yards to my lash-length. If the lashes didn’t tickle my eyebrows, the mascara wasn’t doing its job! I hung onto that goal long after eyeglasses became part of my daily wardrobe and lash-tips were hidden behind frames. The only evidence of the impressive length was the less-than-impressive smears across the glass where my lashes bumped up against it as the day wore on. Then I saw a tip from a make-up pro who suggested focusing on lash thickness rather than length. What? That would require a whole-new mindset! Remembering my commitment to embrace change, I plunged right into a brand new way of doing things. Just take your mascara up to the half-way point of your lashes, then wiggle the wand left and right a few times. That action bulks up the middle of the lashes and creates a natural-looking frame for the eye that can be seen through the glass!

How to Make Your Peepers Pop Behind Glasses

4. Tame the brows. To aovid the Groucho Marx effect, smooth scraggly brows. You don’t need to invest in brow wax or a specialized product – you’ve already got what you need for this lightweight job. Dot a little hair gel, dab a little petroleum jelly, or give a quick once-over with chapstick to smooth away anything that distracts from your smiling eyes!

How to Make Your Peepers Pop Behind Glasses

5. Set the light. A shear touch of color on top of your cheek bones, directly under each eye, gives off a glow that sets of your popping peeps beautifully! I liked Maybelline’s Baby Skin Instant Cheek Flush – the name says it all!

How to Make Your Peepers Pop Behind Glasses

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Fledglings All!

FledglingsALLMy husband and I recently discovered a Bald Eagle’s nest on a visit to check out some hiking trails. Well, didn’t actually discover it – it has been there and been monitored, celebrated, and photographed for several years now. We had noted signs posted at the park’s entrance asking hikers to jot down any sightings of bald eagles and/or osprey spotted while hiking. Cool, I thought – but, realistically, what are the odds of seeing a bald eagle and its nest? As we walked, the bam-bam-bam of the ‘next door’ rifle range negated any peace and quiet of a nature hike. Well, there goes any chance of seeing bald eagles I mused – they certainly aren’t going to nest in an area with guns being fired.

We  wove in and out of a rather large group of hikers (?) set up on the trail with tripods and spotting scopes etc. We paid them very little mind other than to think they must be hopeful bird watchers who obviously were not realists! On our way out of the park, we happened upon a man with some ‘taxidermed’ eagles and osprey in the back of his open van. Again, I made an assumption thinking probably part of the field trip of fledgling-bird watchers back there on the trail. I, of course, have to strike up a conversation when confronted with such a unique opportunity! Steve was wonderfully knowledgeable about eagles and osprey and the history of the eagles and osprey that reside right there in the park where we had just hiked. In fact, we had walked right past the Osprey tower with adults and chicks in the nest. And those optimistic bird watchers that we so casually dismissed were looking at an eagles nest with an eaglet in the nest!!! Holey Moley!

Real. Live. Actual. In the wild. Bald Eagles!!!

I may be of an advanced age, but I have never seen a bald eagle in the wild before. I was so geeked about it! While standing there absorbing all this information, we were joined by a local bird expert and a local photographer who is the ‘official’ photographer for these eagles. Plans were set to return in the evening (optimal viewing time) with some binoculars and scopes of our own.

Let me just say that I have returned almost every other day since our ‘discovery’ to check on this soon-to-be fledgling eaglet. I don’t want to miss a single thing! I can hardly bear the thought of his/her taking that first fledgling flight without my being there to witness. I have seen him/her doing its ‘wing-ercizing’ (flapping very impressive baby wings and hopping around). I have seen an adult return to the nest with dinner to share with the eaglet (did you know eagles do not regurgitate food into their little one’s mouths, not even when they are new hatchlings?) and then soar back out of the nest.

I feel like a fledgling in a way.

Like a school kid again, about to embark on a learning journey about something so cool that I want to tell the whole world about it! I have this new information, this new skill, this new urge to discover more about this eagle family that I have somehow become quite vested in.

I love the feeling!

This is just one example of things we ‘pass by’ each day unaware of the opportunities missed by our ‘blinders-on-trek’ through our days. We should all continually look for those fledgling opportunities out there waiting to be embraced. Discover a new interest, a new challenge, or a different way of doing something that energizes us and makes us ask question after question after question and seek information from as many sources as we can imagine.

Let’s go be fledglings! It just might make you feel lighter than air!

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10 Ideas to Care for the Caregiver

10 Ideas to Care for the Caregiver

Whether it’s for aging parents, special needs children, or relatives with health issues, providing substantial care for another can take a toll on the one providing the care. Some of you have walked – or are walking – this path and have experienced the physical, emotional, or financial challenges involved. Most of us know someone who is a caregiver and stand in awe of the commitment that goes into providing such care regardless of whether it is by choice or necessity. And many of us wonder if there is a way we can help ease the burden, even just a little, for someone we care about who is caring for another. Here are 10 ideas to give your favorite caretaker a break and put a smile on his or her face!

  1. Let them chunk the chore. Some things just have to get done whether we want to make time for them or not – like walking the dog or cleaning the house. And sometimes less-crucial chores get put off to the point where they become crucial – mowing the lawn, weeding a garden, repairing a broken step. Pick a chore, any chore, and get it done. You may have to coordinate something like cleaning their house, but weeding, mowing, bringing the trashcan up to the house after pick-up and the like can just magically happen. And you get to be the magician!
  2. Send flowers. A delivery of something lovely gives a momentary escape. Who thought of me? How beautiful! What a fresh scent! And thereafter provides a week or so of color that will be a reminder that someone appreciates their efforts. Now notice I said flowers. No plants, please. And no handfuls of flowers handed to them that they have to go find a vase for and take time to arrange. The whole point is to give them a mini break, not create another obligation to provide care.
  3. Provide respite. If it is possible for the caregiver to leave the house if their charge is supervised, volunteer your time to do the supervising so your friend can get out of the house for a few hours and take care of some needs or wants.
  4. Provide mini-respite. If the caregiver can’t leave their charge in the care of someone who is not specially trained, you can still provide respite right in their home. Have your pal pick a time when his charge is occupied by a favorite program or napping, and come hang out while your friend takes a luxurious bath, reads for an uninterrupted hour, or hangs out with his dog in the backyard. You will have provided him a miro-vacation!
  5. Dub yourself Sir Secret Pal. Send anonymous little gifts or uplifting notes randomly, signed Your Secret Pal. Sure it may drive them a little crazy, but in a good way – a way that will have them looking forward to the run to the mailbox! I’ve been on both sides of the Secret Pal relationship, and I can tell you first-hand that sending the loot will put a smile on your face, too. And to receive unexpected pick-me-ups such as a fun mug with a box of tea, a refrigerator magnet with an inspirational saying, or a good-for-nothing-but-a-chuckle bobblehead bird provided more than one well-needed smile!
  6. Be the entertainment. Caregiving can be a lonely job. While telephone and social media provide outlets for other human contact, verbal or written exchanges are no substitute for some face-to-face time with someone who’s willing to listen, distract, or provide opportunities for laughter – whatever is needed. Schedule a time when a visit would be appreciated and bring a little fun – a humorous DVD (with some movie-food, of course!) or new boardgame you can figure out together.
  7. Organize meals on wheels. Or meals on heels. However the group wants to get them there. Get a few volunteers – maybe friends, church members, book clubbers – to each drop off one meal a month. Have a designated day so that your care-giving friend can count on Mondays “off.”
  8. Create a Spa Day. If they can’t get out for a little pampering, how about sending a credentialed massage therapist to them? There are beauticians, manicurists and facialists who can be hired for housecalls, too.
  9. Give the gift that keeps on giving. Whether you’re up for a splurge or have a group kicking in on it, a gift-of-the-month club can be a perfect answer to the question: what can we do to help? From fruit to bacon, coffee to beer, knitting to puzzling, there’s a gift-of-the-month-club match no matter what your friend’s favorite food, beverage, or hobby is.
  10. Provide special thanks. Help the recipient of care thank the caregiver themself. Guiding them through a simple craft, assisting them with writing a note, or taking dictation or cues from them to memorialize their thoughts can have multiple benefits. You may provide an outlet for the charge to express appreciation. And your favorite caregiver may receive a tangible  expression of appreciation that would not otherwise have been possible.

NOTE: AARP offers a free download of its e-manual The AARP Guide to Caregiving that can be very helpful.  The manual covers topics such as health, housing, legal matters, emotional transitions, and available resources. You can also do an on-line search of the title to find a pdf version that can be downloaded directly to your computer.

 

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5 Ways to Lose 5 Pounds – Instantly!

5 Ways to Lose 5 Pounds - Instantly!

It usually takes weeks – months for some of us – to drop 5 pounds. But why wait to actually lose weight when you can look 5 pounds slimmer today? I offer, finally, options for looking slimmer that exclude the crazy suggestion to  don ankle-breaking high heels and wear pants long enough to give the illusion  your legs are an unnatural  foot longer. I’m all about looking  lean – but not at the expense of comfort! Which is why I’m also not going  to talk about shapewear. And, just when you think it can’t possibly get better, as an added bonus you will not see the words exercise, pill, or broccoli uttered below. Here are 5 easy ways to get your slim on – instantly!

  1. Breakdown and bra-splurge. I know –  getting a bra fitting falls so low on your “want to do list” that the only two items under it are “pap smear” and “colonoscopy.” But if your girls leave off where your stomach starts, you need a hoist – and that doesn’t happen just by tightening up straps. As important, a  better-fitting bra can also leave you free of back-bulge and under-arm-overage –  resulting in instant visual slimming.
  2. Cardigans are your friends. There’s nothing like a straight-cut cardigan in a quality, non-clingy fabric to visually smooth out hips, thighs and tummy. Length choice depends on the length of your legs, but you want something past your tush and the fullest part of your thighs. Get a couple in basic, non-seasonal colors like navy, khaki, or taupe, and you have an instant body-smoother for every outfit without the need for spandex body-squeezers!
  3. Go boating. Many of us gravitate toward turtlenecks in an attempt to lessen the focus on loosening skin. But the strategy can backfire. Not only do they end right under the chin (potentially emphasizing a slack jawline), but they can actually contribute to a bulky, thicker appearance. A better alternative is a flattering boatneck. With a wider cut neckline, the neck often looks slimmer and elongated. A square-shaped or wide-V-neck have the same flattering effect.
  4. Soldier on. Head up, shoulders back. Something as simple as good posture takes visual pounds off. And, in addition to looking better, exercising (whoops, sorry about that word choice!) good posture actually makes you feel better – both physically (hunched shoulders and slumped form take a toll on your body) and emotionally (studies show a connection to confidence level and ability to focus).
  5. Get bigger. Really. This is the most effective tip I can offer: Go up a clothing size. Forget about the number. Our bodies change shapes as we mature and the fit is more important than the number. For me, the scale numbers were the same, but the fit was different. So I bit the bullet. I, with dragging feet, bought the next size up. I was amazed at how many people commented on my “weight-loss” and how good I looked! Who knew that going bigger could leave me smiling?!

If you have a “lose-5-pounds-instantly” tip, please share it with us in the comment section below!

Favor Your Mother’s Day Table

Favor Your Mother's Day Table

If you want to set a fun Mother’s Day Table and leave each guest with a special memory and a smile on her face, check out guest blogger Natine Abreu-Shaw’s fantastic favors for inspiration!

I love Mother’s Day!  Each year I treat a group of moms to a special meal and a bit of fussing over.

When I began this event 15 years ago, it was just for my mom, two aunts, and a dear friend, all of whom lived in the neighborhood. My cousins and my friend’s son lived out-of-state, so I filled in the gap. Then I began inviting other ladies whose children lived away, and now the annual number of guests is 8-10, ages 60+ to 90-something. I usually try out new recipes for the occasion, and I make sure there are options for everyone’s individual dietary needs. But my favorite thing to do is to provide some kind of inexpensive party favors, so they can take a bit of the fun home with them! Following are some of the fun finds that put a smile on my guests’ faces!

Early on, when the number of guests began growing, I bought shelf-sitters from a home décor catalog. A set of six was about $15, or $2.50 per guest. One year they were all fruit-related; another year they were different flowers.

Favor Your Mother's Day Table

Then shelf-sitters disappeared from the catalog,* so I began haunting dollar stores. One year I bought little glass vases for $1 each, and put a bloom in each one.  There was the year of miniscule tea pots, the year of faux ceramic baskets of flowers, the year of faux tulip and daffodil planters.

Favor Your Mother's Day Table

One year I filled little gift bags with travel sized hand creams, tissues, and lip balms. Another time I gave each lady a small jar of artisan jam.

Favor Your Mother's Day TableTwo years ago, I made homemade linen spray, which I put into colorful dollar store spray bottles that also served as place markers. (Mom still requests refills when hers runs out!) And last year each guest got a flat plastic vase filled with tiny marbles and water. The marbles inflated to help keep the vases stable when flowers are added; they made the table look quite festive!

Favor Your Mother's Day Table

It’s an enjoyable challenge to come up with a new idea every year! Here’s a sneak peek at this year’s…

Favor Your Mother's Day Table

Wishing all moms a very HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

*A variety of shelf-sitters can still be found on-line from different distributors.

Favor Your Mother's Day TableGuest blogger Natine Abreu-Shaw  is a recalibrated woman of the Sandwich Generation, who enjoys writing and occasionally  mines her mind, flexes her fingers, and publishes her pith at Write-MindedWoman.com – when she is able to take a break from  some of her other pet (pun intended!) projects – such as writing as the persona of her fur-kids at their Facebook home Corgi Characters!

More Friday Five Funnies (Vol. 4)

More Friday Five Funnies (Vol 4)

If  knowing the weekend is right around the corner isn’t enough of a reason to put a smile on your face, let us give you five more reasons! We picked 5 favorites from our Facebook page to send you into the weekend with a chuckle!

More Friday Funnies (Vol 4)

 

More Friday Five Funnies (Vol 4)

 

More Friday Funnies (Vol 4)

 

More Friday Funnies (Vol 4)

 

More Friday Five Funnies (Vol 4)

If you haven’t had a chance to check out our Facebook page yet, drop by for a visit. We hope you LIKE it!

If you want to catch up on Friday Five Funnies you may have missed, here are the links for the first three:

Facebook Funnies             More Friday Funnies          More Friday Funnies (Vol 3)