Gratitude should be year round

Practice Gratitude All Year
Simple ways to practice gratitude every day.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I love the food, the decorations, and the pumpkins; I did a whole post on my love of all things pumpkin.  The weather in November is perfect sweater weather and a holiday centered around sharing a delicious meal is perfect. But most of all I love the message Thanksgiving sends about counting our blessings and reflecting on what we are thankful for in life. November is a month where gratitude is in style, but I believe gratitude is something that never goes out of style. Gratitude is something we should practice all year round.

Over the last two weeks, I really have enjoyed seeing people’s public declarations of gratitude on Facebook and Instagram. The 30 days of gratitude challenge is a great idea since it helps people get into the habit of thinking of all the ways they are grateful and building reflection into their day.

I have informally practiced gratitude for a long time and I definitely attribute it to my generally happy and positive disposition. I do not always have tangible proof of my practice, so that is something I want to work on and to become more consistent with a tangible process like a gratitude journal.  So in the spirit of gratitude, I wanted to share with you some of the ways I like to practice gratitude.

Simple ways to practice gratitude

I try to do as many of these things on this list, but my real goal is to make some kind of gratitude practice a part of each day.

1. Daily Gratitude Reflection: At some point during the day, think about a few things for which you are grateful. Maybe you could think about it while in the shower, during your commute to or from work, or do it while on a walk.  Make a point to think about 1-3 things each day. Start with the easy ones, such as I am grateful for my family, my health and my employment, etc., but try to come up with new things each day. Try daily gratitude reflection for a week, and see if you feel different? This is the practice I do most often since it only requires me to change the course of my thoughts for a moment, but it has a huge impact on me and how I am feeling.

2. Gratitude Journal: This is one I need to work on. You could get a notebook, any notebook or you could use post-its to jot down the items from your daily gratitude reflection. Another way to record your gratitude reflection, you could make a quick note on your calendar, it could be a paper calendar, or digital. I want to do this since I want to be able to see my gratitude progress.  I think it would be great to see what I was grateful for over the course of a week, a month, and hopefully a year.

3. Verbalize gratitude several times during the week: Make a point to tell someone you appreciate them and most important,  why you appreciate them. It can be anyone!! If you are shy, start with someone you know.

4. ‎Send a thank you card: I love sending and receiving happy mail. My new goal is to send one thank you note each month, this would be different from and in addition to any thank you notes in response to gifts. So take some time to write a nice thank you note to someone.  If you need some cards, check out the ones in my Etsy Shop.

5. ‎Set an example of gratitude and offer opportunities to practice. I want to raise grateful and kind children, so we talk about what we are thankful for, I say thank you to others in front of my kids, I encourage them to say thank you, and my oldest son sends thank you cards for gifts. Right now, he is still too little to fill out thank you cards by himself, but I read the cards back to him and he has to “sign” each one. There are also some great kids books on gratitude, check out my kids’ book Pinterest board.

 

 

Today, I am thankful for the tools to write and publish this blog.  I am also extremely grateful and humbled by the fact the people take time to read this blog. I know we all have busy lives, so thank you for taking time to read my musings. So take some time each day to think about your blessings and who and what you are grateful to have in your life.

 

I hope all of my readers have a wonderful holiday season with their family and friends!!


Cheers,

Amy

Chasing a Childhood Dream: Whimsy in Work feature

Chasing a Childhood Dream

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first Whimsy in Work feature focused on a person who found whimsy in work by changing her environment and striving to find balance in her life. My next feature is a woman who is chasing her childhood dream, Rachel Madej of Rachel Antonia Designs http://www.rachelantoniadesigns.com/.

Check out Rachel’s beautiful work at rachelantoniadesigns.com

I first “met” Rachel via Instagram when her beautiful illustrations stopped me in my scrolling tracks. Her work is fun, so colorful and jovial in nature that I was inspired to know more about the artist. I have found her to be fun and warm just like her illustrations.

 

If you need a little whimsy in art form then you need to follow Rachel’s Instagram and Facebook page.

Chasing her Dream

As adults, we often discount our childhood dreams as childhood whimsy, maybe some of them are, but often times they can give us insight into the things that really feed our souls. When Rachel was a child she wanted to be an artist and a business owner. It was only recently that she brought these two dreams together.

“I had two dreams when I was growing up. One was to be an artist and the other was to own my own business. Funnily enough, I never put the two together until about a year ago! Now I’ve started my own company selling my illustrations on prints and products (It’s still crazy to say that out loud!) I’ve got ideas and products in the works that are set to debut in November of this year (2017)”  

We can try to follow our dreams; we just have to learn to integrate them into our adult life. Rachel is doing an amazing job integrating her childhood dream into her adult working world, but she did not take the leap to pursue her childhood dream lightly.  It has been a process and one she has taken very seriously. “I had been doing so much research, taken so many classes, and literally every bit of spare time was spent with me curled up doodling in my sketchbook trying to build a collection.”

Even spending countless hours researching, planning and creating, there comes a point when the researching and planning phase has to come to an end. What comes next can be the scariest part of any dream or career shift, the actual doing or making the change. In some cases, we need a push.

The Push

Many people can suffer from “analysis paralysis”, it is just easier to keep gathering information and keep planning rather than make a decision to do something. Sometimes we need a push to get out of the researching, creating and planning stage. The push can come from anywhere, it can be a person or an event or a feeling you get one day to just stop planning and just try. I think the push that comes from a person you do not know, and who does not have any time or feelings invested in you could be the most intimidating.  Rachel’s push came from a stranger who looked at her art and judged her illustrations. This person looked at what Rachel had and she told her whether or not she had what it would take; how scary!

“After doing months and months of research, creating, and planning, I met with a woman named Jennifer Ferri recommended by my friend Kara. (Hi Kara) She said to me and I quote ‘ I’m going to look at your art… and I’m honestly going to tell you whether or not you should do this.’ That was one of the scariest moments of my life because whether she told me yes you can or no, it still meant I had to leave the comfort of my researching and drawing stage of life that I’d become accustomed to…”

Clearly, Jennifer saw what I see in Rachel’s work, beautifully drawn and whimsical illustrations, but I had to know, what if this outsider had told Rachel to throw in the towel?

Art work by Rachel Madej
Look at these beautiful art pieces. I love how this little owl makes me smile!

“Honestly if Jen had said that I wasn’t good enough…I would’ve been crushed. I would’ve felt like maybe I shouldn’t and I probably wouldn’t have finalized all the paperwork in July. However, I know I would’ve asked what I could do to make it work, or where I could make it work, if it wasn’t printed art, maybe it would’ve worked on fabric or I could find a wallpaper rep. I would’ve done the research to find out how to make it work because it’s my dream. So maybe I would be on another path right now,  but it would still be me working toward incorporating my art into something more. And honestly, I’m sure I would’ve found myself here again at some point in life because of the “what if” factor. It nags at you and I’m not one to give up.”

Rachel’s Take-Aways from Chasing Her Childhood Dream

  1. You can’t know everything. ” It seems like it’s self – explanatory, you can’t know everything… But when you’re investing countless hours and a really large sum of money, you want to know it’s going to work.”
  2. It takes guts and courage to start your own business. “I love when I get compliments and when people want to buy my work… But honestly, I’m just really proud of myself. I’m twenty – three years old and I’m paying for college, working 30 hours and taking full-time classes. I’ve had this dream since I was a kid and I just decided to go after it full force. It gets unbelievably stressful sometimes, but it’s worth it and it’s rewarding to feel that I made an investment in myself.”
  3. At some point, you must stop planning and try.  “Everyone is terrified, no matter how successful they are. They were all scared at one point and they all took a big gulp of air and plunged into the unknown – and so can you.”
  4. You have to make time for your dreams. “There’s never a right time. I’m smack dab in the middle of a million things, but I’m making it work. You can make your dreams fit into your schedule.”
  5. There are people who can and want to help you. “There are free business classes, meetups, friends in the industry, family who knows someone who knows someone. I went to the University of Hartford for a free business class. (I don’t go to that school) I emailed my family accountant for business advice. My brother’s friends mother happens to run the craft show I’ll be displaying my first collection in. Connections are everywhere so start making a list of everyone you know who would be willing to help you. (P.S. – I can be on that list!)”

Rachel has a section on her blog devoted to helping other artists turn their passion into business 

I hope you have enjoyed learning about Rachel, her process of chasing her dream and seeing some of her beautiful art.

Whimsy in Work: Chasing a Childhood Dream
More beautiful illustrations from Rachel Madej of Rachel Antonia Designs

To see more of her lovely work, make sure you follow her on Instagram, Facebook and check out her site.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cheers,

Amy

 

Something Whimsical: Pumpkins and my favorite Pumpkin Products

The Best Pumpkin Products
Here is my list of my favorite pumpkin products available.

One of my favorite things about fall is the pumpkins. There is just something so whimsical about them. The bright orange color and their different shapes and sizes are just fun and make me smile.  I love going to the pumpkin patch to pick them out, carving them, roasting their seeds and enjoying all kinds of pumpkin foods during fall. Thank goodness you can get canned pumpkin year-round, sometimes in the heat of summer, I just need some pumpkin muffins!!!  I really love all things pumpkin! Here is a list of my favorite pumpkin products.

 

No affiliate links in this post, just what I think are some of the best pumpkin products, in my opinion.

I will start my list with another favorite ingredient of mine chocolate. My love for chocolate is more than my love for pumpkin, see my post on my favorite way to eat chocolate, but this first item on my pumpkin list combines my love for chocolate and pumpkin, so it is a win-win.

My Favorite Pumpkin Products
My list of my favorite pumpkin products.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Hands down this is my favorite pumpkin recipe and of course, it is by Martha Stewart. This recipe is moist, full of pumpkin flavor and has the perfect amount of chocolate chips. I have been making it for years. It is easy to make and I dare you not to like it.

Pumpkin Snacks/Food

If you are looking for a place where you can get a bunch of pumpkin flavored food all in one place, then Trader Joe’s is your go to pumpkin place. Trader Joe’s really knows how to do pumpkin food.  I really love their Pumpkin Cranberry Crisps.  They taste delicious plain, but I think they pair really well with goat cheese and honey. Their Pumpkin Waffles are also a favorite in our house. Trader Joe’s seems to have pumpkin everything, but it’s the pumpkin bread that we really love.

Favorite Pumpkin Bread

Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Bread. You can’t beat the price, $2.99 a box.  It is easy to whip up and we love the spicy taste. I like to make it in a bunt pan, just to mix things up a bit. I have made pumpkin bread from scratch and really enjoy doing so, but the box is just so darn easy. This pumpkin bread has been a favorite for several years, but this year we found something that is a new favorite.

NEW Favorite

Pumpkin Spice Cheerios

Pumpkin Spice Cheerios: I saw these in Target and thought why not? Not everything that is pumpkin spice is a hit, for example, I was not a fan of Pumpkin Spice M&Ms. I only bought one box of the Pumpkin Spice Cheerios, just in case we did not like them. We tried them and they are so good. They are so good and we enjoyed them so much, I went back to Target the next day and bought 3 more boxes. I thought they really tasted like pumpkin spice. The clove spice in them gives the Cheerios a warming slightly spicy taste. Yum! I know there is a lot of food on this list, but I also have a pumpkin thing and a pumpkin place that I hope you will enjoy as much as we do.

Pumpkin Decorations

There is just something so adorable about them, I collect all kinds of pumpkin decorations for fall. I have found cute pumpkins covered with sweater like fabric from Target. I found some painted plaster ones at the Dollar Store, but my most treasured pumpkins are my glass pumpkins that I selected at a Glass Pumpkin Patch. The Tacoma Glass Blowing Studio takes their beautiful glass blown pumpkins to different locations and they set up a “pumpkin patch” of their beautiful glass pumpkins. They have so many colors and sizes. There are still be a few more glass pumpkin patches from the Tacoma Glass Blowing Studio, check out the schedule here. 

Glass Pumpkin Decorations
High/Low decorations: Glass pumpkins from the Tacoma Glass Blowing Studio sweater pumpkins Target and painted pumpkins from Dollar Store.

Our Favorite Pumpkin Place

I almost don’t want to share this pumpkin place since it is already very popular, but I will because it is so much fun and you should check it out. We have started going each year to Bob’s Corn Maze and Pumpkin Farm. Bob’s is a huge farm in Snohomish county. There several huge fields where you can find great pumpkins. There are hay rides,  play areas for the kids, an apple cannon, country market, corn maze, and our favorite mini fresh made apple and pumpkin doughnuts, yes I said fresh mini PUMPKIN doughnuts. It can get pretty muddy so bring rain boots and a change of clothes for your littles. We have gone the last few years and I am looking forward to going this year.

Picking pumpkins at Bob’s Corn Maze and Pumpkin Farm

So that is my list of my favorite pumpkin things. I hope you check some of them out if you are fall and pumpkin crazy like me. Don’t forget to  sign up for your Free tags in the sidebar!

Cheers, Amy

 

 

 

P.S.

Bucket List Tradition Update

Our little family has really been enjoying our Fall Bucket List Tradition. Big and Little have so much fun pulling cards out of our bucket and my husband enjoys watching me figure out how I am going to cram more activities in to the week. The month of September we pulled so many apple cards; we love apples so it wasn’t too bad. One activity I was looking forward to pulling most  was the Apple Picking card. We picked apples, yeah ,but it was not in Washington. We picked apples when we visited my sister in Montana. I am still on a mission to pick apples in Washington. I am not giving up just yet, we will pick apples in Washington this season! While September was filled with apple activities, I hope the month of October will be full of pumpkin cards.

 

 


Cheers,

Amy

Fantastic Fall Round Up

Fun Fall Round Up
Lots lots of fun ideas and activities for fall.

I am part of a wonderful group on Facebook, the Mom Bloggers Tribe.  A few us in the group are obsessed with fall so we thought we would share some of our favorite fall posts.  All of the posts featured in this Fall Round Up are from the bloggers in the Mom Bloggers Tribe. Each of our blogs are very different, but we support each other, hope for each other to succeed and all love fall. In the spirit of community over competition, here is a round-up of the Mom Bloggers Tribe’s favorite fall posts.

In this post, you will find cute crafts, fun bucket lists over flowing with  ideas for all ages, ideas for Halloween and delicious recipes to help you have a wonderful fall season.

Pin  this, so  you have this list of posts at your finger tips.

Fall Round Up
Round up featuring blog posts from the Mom Bloggers Tribe

Fall Lists to keep you entertained all season long

If you are sad to see summer go, here is a great post about why fall is wonderful.   Here is a post to make you feel alive with fall energy!

Want more ideas for fall activities,  I have a list featuring 30 activities to try over the next 3 months. Looking for activities that won’t break the bank, check out this post on Frugal Fall ideas. Here is one more fall list, with a printable too! While this post features fall activities to do on Long Island, it is a great list of things to look for in your own area.

Fall Ideas for Toddlers

I have a toddler and a preschooler so here are some great ideas just for your tiny fall lovers. Here some great printables to create a fun fall schedule for you and your littles. I love this fall tree activity,  it looks easy and fun to make.  Complete this fun fall checklist just for your littles  for a memorable fall. We adore reading at our house and really enjoy themed book lists. This list has 22 fall themed books to check out.

If you want to make any of these lists into an interactive bucket list, you can get my free printable cards and use one of the list above to add a bunch of fun things to do this fall.  Pull an activity card every few days and enjoy the whole season.

Are you looking for some new fall recipes; look no further.

I can’t wait to try these yummy, fall apple dumplings.

I love anything pumpkin, so I am really excited to try this delicious looking  pumpkin dip.

Thanksgiving turkey is delicious, but waiting for it to cook all day is a bummer, check out how to make turkey breast in a slow cooker.

Need an update for your apple pie recipe, check this recipe out.

I love a  cookie for breakfast, this oatmeal carrot cake cookie sounds delicious, add a pumpkin spice latte or chai and what a way to enjoy a fall morning.

Check out these Apple Cinnamon Protein Pancakes!!

Halloween

Halloween will be here before we know it . Here is a great list of adorable costumes for infants and toddlers. Do you like to have costumes that coordinate with the whole family, check out this post. If you are planning to DIY your costumes, then this post has you covered with some great DIY ideas.

Safety is always important for our kids, this post serves as a good reminder for safety when it comes to trick-or-treating.

I love these next Halloween posts. Make your own awesome spiderweb wreath! Have a Halloween Scavenger Hunt with printable, watch fun and not too scary Halloween shows and ideas for Halloween with a healthy side.

I hope this post has given you lots ideas to make the most of this fall. Maybe some of these ideas will even become a part of your family traditions.

Happy Fall !!!!

Cheers,

Amy

30 Fun Activities To Try This Fall

30 Activities to Enjoy this Fall
Need ideas for your Fall Bucket List, here are 30

This year fall begins on September 22nd , but I prefer to start my fall celebrating on Sept. 1st. If you read my last post, you know now that fall is by far is my favorite season and I am starting a new family tradition this year. Yes, it’s still August, but I am so excited to have a fun filled fall with Big and Little.  Keeping reading for my list of fall themed fun activities!

I have seen Fall Bucket Lists online boasting  50 to 100 activities, which is great, but that stresses me out a little bit.  So I am going to stick to 30 activities. There are 91 days between September 1st and December 1st (the day I get my Christmas decorations out), I think 30 activities seem reasonable and achievable for us.

Some of my activities will be better suited for a specific month, so I will break the list down that way, but you can do them in any order you like. You could also create an interactive bucket list. Get my Fall Family Fun cards and the list of 30 fall activities, write the activities on the cards and place in your bucket to pull out when you need a fun fall activity, voilà, interactive bucket list.

Fall Family Fun Bucket List
Write your activities on your cards, put in your container and get ready for fun starting on 9.1.17

For those us who need some accountability to actually do the items on the list ( I include myself in this group),  I thought it would be fun for us to do it together.

Here is how you take part in my Fall Family Fun Bucket List:

Follow me on my Facebook page or on Instagram,

I will draw a few cards each week on Sunday and post them to IG and Facebook. If it is a recipe or craft, I will share the wonderful links . Post your pictures or share your progress in the comment section of my Facebook page or Instagram.

30 Fall Activities
30 Fun Activities to try this fall

There are so many things that make me smile when I think of fall… crunching leaves as we walk, the smell of baked goods and pumpkins.  I adore baking apple and pumpkin breads, muffins, cakes and cookies. I love watching the leaves change from green to red, orange and gold hues. My favorite fall day is when the sun is shining, but it is cool and crisp; perfect for doing a fun fall activity. Here are the activities we will be completing this coming fall.

30 Ideas for the Fall Family Fun Bucket List

September Fun Activities

  • Go apple picking; I have never done this and living in the beautiful state of Washington, it seems a little sacrilegious.
  • Create a new fall decoration
  • Take a nature walk to collect leaves
  • Try a fall kids’ craft featuring leaves
  • Make a new dessert featuring apples
  • Try a savory recipe featuring apples
  • Make homemade applesauce
  • Drink apple cider
  • Make caramel apples
  • Make an apple pie
  • Paint kindness rocks and leave them around

October Fun Activities

  • Make a new Halloween or Harvest decoration
  • Make Halloween or Harvest cards to mail to friends and family
  • Make pumpkin bread
  • Visit a pumpkin patch and take pictures
  • Try a new dessert featuring pumpkin
  • Make Halloween treat bags for the neighbor kids
  • Make popcorn balls
  • Do a kids’ craft with pumpkins
  • Watch a favorite Halloween movie I love watching It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown with my kids. Ghostbusters and Hocus Pocus are my personal favorites.
  • Read Halloween themed books
  • Make chocolate chip pumpkin bars, this is one of my favorite desserts. Thank you, Martha!!!
  • Make roasted pumpkin seeds

November Fun Activities

  • Create a Gratitude Jar
  • Make a new Thanksgiving decoration
  • Try a new dessert recipe with cranberries
  • Have a family movie night
  • Have a pajama day
  • Test a new Thanksgiving side recipe
  • Try a savory recipe featuring pumpkin
30 Fall Bucket List Ideas
30 Fall Bucket List Ideas

Need more ideas check out my Fall Board

I think this is going to be really fun and I hope you join me!

Click here if you still need to get my Fall Family Fun cards and list of 30 activities. Check your promotions section of your e-mail, if this is your first e-mail from me.

If you liked the Fall Family Fun posts, sign up , so you don’t miss my Winter activities and bucket list cards!!!!


Cheers, Amy