Friday Five

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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5 Last Minute No-Eat Treats for Your Valentine

5 Last Minute No-Eat Treats for Your Valentine

Whether you lost track of time or you just added a new Valentine-recipient to your list, you are not stuck with sugary snacks or overpriced flowers as gift options. It doesn’t matter if  your Valentine is 5 or 50, there’s a little something on this no-eat sweet treat list that you still  have time to get!

  1. Gummy Bear Scented Blueberry Earbuds. Toys R Us sells them for under $8.

Last Minute Valentines

2. Conversation Heart Pillow. The one pictured was found online (click picture for site), but variations can be found at Barnes and Noble, Target, Claire’s, and Nordstroms.

Last Minute Valentines

3. Cupcakes that serve a purpose. Memo pads, sticky notes, and notepads come in a variety of cupcake options that are perfect for some sweet notes! Shop party supply stores, dollar stores, toy stores and big box stores. While you’re at the party store, pick up a bag of Valentine pencils. Gift alone, add a few to accompany your memo pad offering, or divide into ribbon-tied bundles to be presented to multiple Valentines.

Last Minute Valentines

 

Last Minute Valentines

4.  Sweet socks. Not to be confused with “sweat socks.” The pictured trio is from Kohls.

Last Minute Valentines

5. Soaps that look good enough to eat.  You can find delicious-looking soaps in stores that sell bath and kitchen supplies, but if you’re feeling crafty, check out this video to whip up your own batch of not-to-eat sweet treats!

Happy Valentine’s Day from Fat-Bottom-Fifties Get Fierce

Last Minute Valentines

5 Fast, Fit and Festive Edible Christmas Trees

blog2 edible christmas trees

Looking for a festive addition to your holiday buffet that offers a tasty alternative to sugar-laden treats? Here are 5 colorful options that are fast, festive and easy on the calories. Presenting: EDIBLE CHRISTMAS TREES!

The kiwi tree comes complete with ornaments – with very little assembly required!

5 Fast, Fit and Festive Christmas Foods

If you want a little more drama, start with a styrofoam cone and some toothpicks to have your tree go vertical. Berries, melons, kiwis – plenty of fruit options to make your own masterpiece!

Fat Fit and Festive Edible Christmas Trees

For those impromptu gatherings, you probably have the ingredients for a vegetable tree in your fridge already. Sliced pepper stems, cauliflower tree lights, broccoli floret greens all make great substitutions for the cucumber/carrot/tomato version shown. While a click on the picture gets you to the site it originated from, I couldn’t find the specific link for this  tree. I suspect you’ll be okay on this one without specific instructions!

Fast Fit and Festive Edible Christmas Tree

Does it get easier than a one-fruit tree that’s naturally decorated in Christmas colors?? Click on the picture for Eating Vibrantly’s suggestion on attaching the “tree trunk.”

Fast Fit and Festive Edible Christmas Trees

These pita trees are a great choice for an appetizer to contribute to the office party or family potluck. You will arrive knowing that no matter what is on the buffet, you have a great choice to snack on. They look artful and the recipe is an easy mix of seasoning, fat-free sour cream and guacamole. This substantive finger-food is a calorie bargain at only 30 per tree!

Fast Fit Festive Edible Christmas Trees

Christmas Trees never tasted so good!

Lessons From the Airport

 I just returned from what has become my tri-annual trip to Swan Lake. With hours of delay, I had plenty of time to enjoy the airport experience. One would think after all these years of traveling I’d have the whole process down pat. I wear shoes that slide off, have my quart-size plastic bag with liquids (no more than 4 ounces!) easily accessible, have nothing in my pockets, my ticket in one hand and my I.D in the other. And yet, each visit to the airport is educational. Here are five lessons I learned during my airport time on this trip.

1. The special alerts you receive on your phone are not necessarily reflected on the Departure Boards. After receiving two such alerts indicating my plane was going to be an hour and a half late departing, I left the house thirty minutes later than I had originally planned. Which still would get me there plenty early. So imagine my horror when I casually stroll in the airport and note on the Departure Board that my flight has a proud “ON TIME” next to the original departure time. Which was only six minutes away. I learned a couple more lessons before I picked up on the one about the board not reflecting the most current flight info.

2. If you only have underwire left on one side of your bra, you become a suspect. Two strips of metal under your breasts and you have good support. Apparently just one metal strip leads to the assumption you may have a concealed weapon in addition to being lopsided.

3. Freaking out and demanding that the security agent “Feel me faster” actually speeds up the process. I don’t think that is the usual response they get. Whether I had taken the fun out of the event or the agent was responding sympathetically I don’t know. What I do know is she abruptly stopped the search and told me to “just go.” Please keep in mind that I was quite sure my plane was already rolling down the runway – I think they can sense sincerity.

4. Your slip-off shoes should also be running shoes. Because if you are late, your plane will be at the terminal farthest away. Guaranteed. This is also true if you only think you are late. During my long, less-than-gazelle-like run, I had visions of running out to the runway screaming for the plane to stop. Imagine my surprise when my winded self arrived at a full terminal of lounging passengers. Fortunately I didn’t have enough breath in me to utter the words that first popped into my head when it was confirmed that the flight was indeed going to be delayed two more hours.

5. Bonding with fellow passengers is not always a two-way event. There was a lovely family of four seated directly across from me in the waiting area. The little boy was loaded with questions and each received a patient, informative response from his father. I got to know a lot about them in a half hour. In our kill-some-time wanderings, I passed the toddler and his dad twice in airport shops. When I encountered them a third time at a snack counter, I gave the dad a big smile and said hello. What I got back was a blank face as he scooted his child a little faster than necessary in the opposite direction. OK – so maybe it wasn’t so much a shared experience as it was eavesdropping. Lesson learned.

What’s YOUR most memorable airport lesson?

 

Five to Frame

Five to Frame

One theme that keeps popping up as we continue on our fierce journeys is “simplicity.” Many of us are de-cluttering, scaling back, buying less stuff, and de-stressing by simplifying things that just don’t need to be as complicated as they can be. And that includes home decor. We want around us that which makes us smile. And smiles don’t have to cost a bunch of money! Here are five to frame* that keep things interesting – but simple!

1. For the kitchen: Beautiful or whimsical food pictures. Tear them out of magazines or old cookbooks. Because they are virtually free, there’s no problem changing with the seasons, holidays or your latest yen!

 

Five to FrameFive to Frame

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. For the den: Maps. They are available wherever you go at convenience stores. Second-hand book stores are a great place to look for books on specific places, geography, biblical maps, and vintage depictions. Travel the world on a wall!

Five to Frame

 

3. Craft areas: Vintage Sewing Patterns. Framed individually, in duos or groups, they make an interesting focal point. You can often find them for a dollar or less at antique stores or malls.

Five to Frame

 

4. For dining areas: Pages from a picture book. If you don’t have any old ones you’re willing to deconstruct, check out garage sales and used book stores. In regular book stores, there’s often bins of clearance books that can be had at drastically reduced prices.

Five to Frame

 

5. For bedrooms: Fabrics. Some of those “scraps” in fabric and craft stores are pretty good size. Play with color combos and textures to make interesting groupings.

Five to frame

BONUS:

For bathrooms: Print an inspirational saying on a complimentary scrapbook paper. If you don’t have a favorite saying, do a Google search using any word plus “quote” or “saying,” such as “kindness quotes” or “funny sayings.” You’ll have so many to choose from, you may need more frames!

Five to Frame

*Reasonably priced quality frames can be found in clearance sections of department stores (ask!), craft stores, garage sales, antique stores, second-hand stores. A little craft or spray paint could turn it into the perfect match. You might even find some frames in your own closets or basements – if you’re willing to remove the picture of the relative you weren’t willing to hang on your wall!

 

McFarland USA and the Rest of the Underdogs

McFarlund USA and the Other Underdogs

Growing up I was kind of known for sticking up for the underdog. Or as M would say, I always had a “project” going – someone I was trying to pull out of their shell. I thought it was a middle-child thing – you know, wanting to fix everybody and have them get along? I thought that was something different about me. Recently, when I saw McFarland USA the same day I saw back footage on the American hockey team that took the gold medal in the 1980 Olympics, I realized there’s nothing different about rooting for the underdog – it’s what we all do! It’s why Kevin Costner’s McFarland USA (a movie about hispanic teens in an economically depressed town who rise above challenges to form the first  cross-country running team at their school) leaves us with a smile on our faces. It’s why people who didn’t even like hockey went nuts as the American team came out of nowhere to win a gold medal – an event that was memorialized in the 2004 movie Miracle.

There’s a reason this genre is referred to as “feel-good” flicks. It lifts our spirits to see an underdog succeed. It makes us believe if they can do (whatever they did) we can do whatever we aspire to. It makes us want to be better people.

If you want a little pick-me-up this weekend, check out one these c’mon-you-can-do-it movies. Here’s 5 of my favorites.

At number 5: ROCKY. Even if you abhor boxing (as I do), you can’t resist rooting for Rocky Balboa as he builds up his stamina for the big fight. And you’ll be humming the iconic song long after the movie is Underdog Moviesover. Yo, Adrian!

 

At number 4: KARATE KID  Having moved to a new town with single mom for his senior year, Daniel LaRusso develops a friendship with a girl that results in his getting bullied and beat up by her arrogant ex and his buddies – guys who practice a vicious, unethical form of martial arts. The apartment manager, an eccentric humble Karate Kidman, takes Daniel under his wise wing and helps him develop skills to fight back – at a personal cost to himself. Everybody needs a Mr. Miyagi in their life.

 

 

At number 3: MY COUSIN VINNY  When Bill and friend Stan,  in the wrong place at the wrong time in a backwater southern town, get arrested for murder, Bill calls the only attorney he knows. Which happens to be his cousin, a New York lawyer (played by Joe Pesci) who has only practiced personal injury and never won case. But hey, family is family – so cuz comes down to help out and take on the cocky DA and an annoyed judge who has a bias about big-city folk. As a lawyer who has seen way too much Underdogsbullying in the courtroom, to me this was a hilarious version of Rocky. Fun, fun, fun. I would be remiss to not mention the under-appreciated, smart-as-a-whip girlfriend played by Marissa Tomei – worth the watch just to see what a hoot she is!

 

At number 2: HOOSIER An outsider to the farming community where he’s the new basketball coach in 1954, Norman Dale has to deal with local narrow minds as well Underdog moviesas a bunch of (for the most part) unathletic players. Trying to describe this story might make it sound dry – and it was anything but. The personalities and the build-up of this movie climax in what has been touted as one of the all-time great movie sports moments. I’m a sucker for movies like this that are based on, or inspired by, real life events. I’m also a sucker for movies with Gene Hackman in them!

 

AND MY ALL TIME FAVORITE SEEING THE TRANSFORMATION FROM UNDERDOG TO AMAZING WINNER?

At number 1: TO SIR WITH LOVE The ever proper Thackery (played by the always-incredible Sidney Poitier), looses out at an engineering job and ends up taking a job teaching a high school class full of street savvy, problem riddled, disrespectful toughs – a group nobody wanted to take on (including Thackery) and that had scared off a teach or two before him. What he left these students with was worth more than a 1000 gold medals – and what they left him with changed his life. A MUST SEE! Below is the iconic song from the 1967 movie, sung by Lulu, which sums up with poignancy the heart of this move.

 WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE UNDERDOG MOVIE?

Eating Right – the 5 Best Tips We’ve Heard All Year!

Eating Right - the 5 Best Tips We've Hear All Year!

 

1. Relocation. Crispers are where fresh fruit and vegetable go to wither. It’s magical. How many times have you put a perfectly good grapefruit in a crisper drawer, only to pull out a soggy ball a mere two months later? Or some crisp green celery goes in and limp white strings are what meet you when slide open the drawer? Out of sight, out of mind. Move the fruits and veggies out of the crispers and put them on the top shelf where their cheery colors and wish-it-were-me firmness is the first thing you see when you open the door. Use those drawers to store the treats and pizza makings that shouldn’t be so quick to disappear!

2. Quinoa -it’s not just for dinner any more. Quinoa makes a great breakfast – think “oatmeal substitute.” Cook it as usual, add milk at the end and let simmer until it thickens. Top off with your breakfast “condiments” such as dried fruit, berries, cinnamon, honey, nuts, seeds, coconut or the like for the perfect porridge.

3. Car nosh. When fast food is calling out to you during your drive, you can avoid the lure by grabbing some nuts that you have prepackaged for just such an occasion and tucked into your glove compartment or console. If you like things a little sweet, toss in some dried fruit or fool your palette with some cocoa-dusted almonds – they have no added sugar and the dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants.

4. User friendly. Have those relocated goodies easy to grab on the run. Grapes washed and plucked, celery sliced, cucumbers peeled. Take that see-it-first psychology a step further and freeze some of those grapes on a baking sheet. When frozen toss them into an easy-open freezer bag and place them up front and center in your freezer for an instant sorbet-like sweet treat.

5. Bread spread. How about some seasoned hummus instead of that mayo or as a nutritious add on to your sandwich? Get it pre-made in a variety of flavors or make your own by pureeing chickpeas and stirring in a few ingredients like those set forth in this Real Simple 5-Minute Hummus Recipe.

DIET TIP #254:  Don't rush your food.

DIET TIP #254:
Don’t rush your food.

What’s the best tip you’ve heard this year?

 

5 to Get You Sparkling

5 to Get You Sparkling

Many of us want to greet the new year with a little shimmer. Not the covered with sequins look-at-me look of earlier eras – just a bit of sparkle that proclaims we’re heading into the New Year with with confidence and optimism. Here are 5 ways to add that extra sparkle to your New Year’s Eve look!

1. Tatoo jewelry. Foil bracelets add a temporary sparkle that can be washed off! This shows an expensive version because it was the best picture I could find of what the “jewelry” looks like. But I found lots of $12-20 options by Googling “foil tattoo jewelry”.

5 Ways to Sparkle

2. Sequin scarf. Wrap a little sparkle around your neck and let it reflect in your eyes! This one is by Rose and Rose, but you can find plenty of scarves with sparkle at your local big box stores, discount clothing and (of course) regular priced department stores.

5 to Make You Sparkle

3. Belt with sparkle. Glam up any outfit by belting on a splash of sparkle. Belts can be found in a range of prices and styles from rhinestone cowboy looks to more formal shimmer at the same places you look for scarves.

5 With Sparkle

4. Snowflake polish. Nothing finishes a look like a bit of glitter on fluttering hands that greet and treat family and friends. I liked this “Heavenly” by Revlon for a little glitz without calling too much attention to my short nails.

5 to Make You Sparkle

5. Sparkle ballet slippers. From your fingertips to your toes, you have your shimmer on. Dancing the night away – whether in your living room or at the ball – in these festive ballet flats let you sparkle without the toe-crimping pain that goes with high heels. From JCrew to a costume supply store, glittery flats come in a range of prices.

5 to Make You Sparkle

 And, of course – let’s not forget to add in our sparkling personalities to the mix!

5 to Make You Sparkle

5 to Get You Sparkling

Friday Five – Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Don't Sweat the Small StuffSometimes mixed in the anticipation and joy and excitement over the holidays, a bit of stress can creep in and wreak havoc with our Holiday Zen! We really shouldn’t worry though. I honestly don’t remember if the house I was celebrating at was messy or clean or if all the dishes were perfect. I do remember if I enjoyed myself and laughed with family and friends! This season, we really hope you will try to take some of the anxiety out of the many gatherings and truly enjoy the moments. Here are a few tips to help de-stress and unwind should you find yourself with a few nerves jangled!

1) Music: It does sooth the savage beast and nothing is more savage than stress. Create a favorite play list. It doesn’t have to be Christmas music, maybe it shouldn’t be! Whatever gets you ‘feeling groovy’ and lifts your spirit. We all have our favorites and it’s so easy now with all the new technology to create the perfect mix. Crank it up and ‘be happy’!

2) Make a list: And check it twice – Santa knows what he’s doing. Getting some organization into the craziness is a great way to lower the stress level. Take a few minutes, think about what you need for Thanksgiving, what it is going to take to accomplish it, and BE REALISTIC. We don’t have to do everything. Use that same tactic for Christmas or Hanukkah or whatever holiday you are celebrating. Delegating a few items on that list is also a great idea.

3) Less is more: Think of your top three favorite traditions and make sure they are included in your celebrations. Anything else is a bonus and not to be stressed over.

4) Get Moving: As mentioned previously – turkey trotting can help relieve stress. Physical activity is a natural stress reducer. Go for a walk, play with the kids or pets, dance to that favorite music mix you created a few tips back. You will feel better, calmer and more ready to take on the festivities.

5) Rest: Seems like an oxymoron in this instance. So much to do, so little time. However, if you are rested you can accomplish more and you can do it with an air of calm. Just speaking for myself here, but lack of sleep has ruined more moments than I care to remember (and admit). Try, try, try to get to bed at a decent time, make notes on that list you created so you can relax knowing it’s on your list and you will get to it. Now you are free to get some Zzzzs!

BONUS: Closing off doors to those rooms you are not going to use. You don’t have to clean everything.

Dont's Sweat the Small Stuff Smiling Faces

 What are your tips for de-stressing over the holidays?

 

 

 

Friday Five – Pumpkin Lite!

Friday Five - Pumpkin Lite!

Pumpkins are another one of my favorite orange things that indicate fall is here. Full of vitamins and flavor, here are five great ways to use that incredible veg in ways that celebrate what’s good about it. Pumpkin – it’s not just for pie anymore!

1. For breakfast, try these whole wheat Pumpkin Pecan Pancakes – mmmmm! [Click on pictures for the recipes.]

Pumpkin lite

2. Remember how good for you chia seeds are? How about Pumpkin Pie-Chia Pudding for a mid-morning snack?

Pumpkin-Lite  3. For lunch or dinner, this Red Lentil-Pumpkin Soup packs the crunch of pumpkinseed for a wonderful contrast to the texture of this rich, creamy soup!

Friday Five - Pumpkin Lite!

4. What’s soup without a chunk of bread? This Spicy Pumpkin Biscuit can be a light, flaky addition if you keep a light hand with the dough.

Friday Five - Pumpkin Lite!

5. At only 133 calories, these Skinny Pumpkin Butterscotch Bars are just the little sweet treat to finish off a meal or enjoy with an evening coffee or cuppa!

Friday Five - Pumpkin Lite

 How do you get a pumpkin to see the lite light?

Friday Five - Pumpkin Lite!