The Not-So-Grocery List

Quick. Comprehensive. À la carte. To help us get through this little thing called life.

I’m all for cutting corners and being frugal, but some things you just shouldn’t skimp on. Here, my very own short but comprehensive list of household items that are worth every name brand penny:

  1. Tin foil
  2. Trash bags
  3. Q-tips
  4. Cotton balls
  5. Paper Towels

What are some of your name brand must-haves? Help me add to my #notsogrocerylist!

Easter is this Sunday! This can be a super fun time with kids, full of Easter baskets, Easter egg hunts, Easter candy, and of course…the Easter Bunny!  Cute little bunnies are all the rave right now, and rabbit sales tend to go through the roof as kids beg their parents for the little fuzz muffins they see in pet stores.  But buyer beware!  Rabbits are a commitment that most people are not prepared to make, and in the weeks following Easter — after they outgrow their adorable baby bunnyhood and the novelty wears off — they are surrendered to shelters by the handfuls or, even worse, released into the wild.  We actually acquired a bunny last May, and after learning so much about The Way of the Bunny, I’ve made it my personal mission to educate others.  Before you even consider getting a bunny for your family, consider these very real facts:

  1. Rabbits need a lot of space and exercise. Those tiny hutches or cages are not sufficient at all.
  2. They can be litterbox trained, but it takes patience. Meanwhile they can poop up to 400x a day!!
  3. They eat a ton of hay every day and need it accessible to them all the time for good digestion.
  4. Rabbits are NOT allowed to eat as many veggies as you think, so you must do your research.  They have very sensitive digestive systems.
  5. They will chew on ANYTHING and EVERYTHING. Charging cables are a favorite!
  6. Rabbits are considered an exotic pet, therefore vet bills are much more expensive.
  7. Female rabbits need to be spayed. An unspayed female rabbit has an 80% chance of developing uterine cancer by the age of 2.
  8. Rabbits can live anywhere from 10 to 14 years. They are a long term commitment.
  9. In the weeks immediately following Easter, local shelters fill up with rabbits, many of them babies.
  10. Domestic rabbits cannot be released into the wild. They have an exceptionally low survival rate in the wild, so it’s often a death sentence for them.

For a fun, short read on being a bunny owner, check out this well-depicted article written by a fellow owner:

Why You Shouldn’t Adopt a Bunny Before Easter

Happy first day of Spring! This is a day synonymous with new beginnings, longer days, and the start of warmer weather. Rather than a typical list of the veggies in season or Spring to-do lists, I thought I would just share a few of the many things that make me smile when Spring comes around…

  1. Noticing the sun is a little brighter and lasts a little longer.
  2. Yellow daffodils dotted all over the ground.
  3. Waking up to the sound of birds outside the window.
  4. Sweeping away the dead winter leaves from my porch and deck.
  5. Putting away my winter coat for next year.
  6. Opening a window for fresh air.
  7. Springtime colors and decor around the house.
  8. Easter’s promise of renewed life … and cute bunnies.
  9. Taking a walk without freezing.
  10. Spring fruits and veggies.
  11. Sharing Spring vacation fun with my Munchkin.

What kind of Spring Things make you smile??

I recently read an article about how to bounce back from hardships in life. It could not have been more timely. I am a month out of surgery, attempting to get back into shape again after months of inactivity. Winter was very cold, but today is the last day of March and tomorrow dawns a brand new month of Spring. And it’s the day before Easter, when even Jesus Himself was resurrected. Very timely indeed…

  1. Let Yourself Feel Sad. There’s an actual neurobiological reason why this feeling lasts a few days – only after it clears out can we move on.
  2. Control What You Can. Staying focused on what you can control helps build resilience. 
  3. Know When To Be Flexible. Think of new solutions, make necessary changes, and do not let bad things define you.
  4. Find Resilient Role Models. They don’t have to be people who have faced the exact same challenges, just someone who has positive traits or strategies that you can emulate.
  5. Be a Role Model, Too. Helping out is essential to building self-esteem and confidence.
  6. Talk It Out. Having people in your life who believe in you, who you can talk to, help you to keep seeing the glass as half full.
  7. Know That You Are Already Doing It. If your current problem feels overwhelming, recall another trying time in life and remember that you overcame that struggle. You will overcome this one, too. 

We all need a little help in the morning sometimes.  Here, 7 affirmations to help you get going on the right foot, by Jonathan Lehmann from his “Morning Meditation with Music”

  1. I make plans, but I remain flexible and open to the surprises that life has in store for me.  I try to say yes as often as possible.
  2. I cultivate patience, and by doing so I also cultivate self confidence.
  3. I welcome the opportunity to step outside out of my comfort zone and I do not let myself be guided by fear.
  4. I love myself unconditionally because it is essential to my happiness.  I love the person that I am and I do not need other people’s approval to love myself fully.
  5. I’m going to drink water, eat fruit and vegetables, walk, take the stairs, exercise.  Today I’m giving love to my body.
  6.  I give everywhere I go, even if only a smile, a compliment or my full attention. Listening is the best gift I can give to those around me.
  7. I try to be impeccable with my word and to speak only to spread positivity.  It’s counterproductive to my happiness to speak against myself or against others.

Some like it hot…and some would rather wait out Summer inside with the A/C!  Try these 7 tips to cool down without running the electric bill up.

  1. Drink Fluids First.  Don’t wait until you get hot.  Being hydrated before you go will give your body a head start on keeping cool.
  2. Chill Strategically.  Put ice packs on your pulse points – inner wrists, carotid arteries in the neck, and tops of your feet – where the blood vessels are close to surface of the skin.  
  3. Skip the Lotion.  It traps heat in the body.  Instead, use a gel or spray moisturizer, even better if they have menthol or peppermint oil.
  4. Eat Watermelon.  Water abounds in this Summer fruit, helping you stay hydrated.  
  5. Add a Pinch of Salt.  You lose sodium when you sweat, and too much loss can create cramping.  Any salted snack will do, but hey – try salting a watermelon.  Salt and water!
  6. Wear Long Sleeves.  Loose fitting clothing in light colors to reflect the sun will keep your sweat close to your body, causing it to cool you while it evaporates.  
  7. Find – or Make – a Breeze.  Even the hottest days are more bearable with a breeze, be it on the ocean or by way of a fan.  

Between the t.v., cell phone notifications, kids, and the constantly running washing machine, sometimes life feels like that scene in the Grinch: noise, noise, NOISE!!! It can make you feel totally fried! Here, some tips to help reduce the racket:

    1. Background Noise Be Gone! Watch your shows or crank up the tunes, but then TURN THEM OFF and allow your minds to fully focus.
    1. Enforce Device-Free Times. This isn’t just for teens!
    1. Mind Your Mindless Habits. Are you always taking your phone with you? Always click on the t.v. when you get home?
  1. Embrace Your Inner Introvert. Even extroverts sometimes need to escape to whatever hallowed sanctuary they can find for some peaceful alone time.

Arguing is a part of life; everybody does it at some point.  The trick is to keep things under control.  Here are 5 strategies to help turn a potential battle into a win-win.

  1. Listen, pause, and repeat.  Try to quiet your mind so you can truly hear what the other person is saying, then repeat it back to be sure you heard them correctly.
  2. Be clear about your needs.  People cannot read your mind.  Period.
  3. Recognize and acknowledge different styles of arguing.  Do you speak your mind?  Or do you need a moment first?  Try to come to an understanding before engaging.
  4. Are you fighting about the same thing?  Factual issues versus emotional feelings are bound to butt heads.  Look for an opportunity for compromise.
  5. A sincere apology goes a long way.  Go beyond just “I’m sorry” and really show that you understand what was hurtful to the other person.  This will show you’re trying to find a solution.

Got a hangover?  No, I don’t mean from a crazy Friday night.  Hangovers come in many forms.  Find your recovery plan here!

1.  The Stress Hangover – You are stressed to the max, frustrated, and fatigued.  Try this:

  • Interrupt the storyline.  Take a break by stepping away from the situation, then reevaluating.
  • Settle down.  Go to a quiet place and take some deep breaths.  
  • Get moving.  Boost your immune system by going for a brisk walk.

2.  The Food Hangover – You ate too much, now you’re feeling bloated and sluggish.  Try this:

  • Eat!  Don’t undereat or skip eating to make up for overeating the day before.
  • Get moving.  Cardio exercise speeds up your digestion and releases mood-boosting endorphins.
  • Try ginger and mint.  Ginger has been known to relieve nausea and peppermint oil can relieve bloating, gas, and cramps.

3.  The Talking Hangover – You talked so much that now you’re hoarse and your throat is scratchy.  Try this:

  • Shhhh.  For a day or two, rest your voice by talking as little and as quietly as possible.
  • Rehydrate your vocal folds.  Stimulate saliva with small sips of water with lemon, noncaffeinated herbla teas, lozenges, or sugarless gum.
  • Seek out steam.  Humid air moisturizes passageways, makes your throat feel better, and might speed up the healing.

4.  The Nightmare Hangover – You had a disturbing dream and now you feel really crumby and out of sorts.  Try this:

  • Take a cold shower.  Change the channel in your brain with this system shocker.
  • Get it out of your head.  Try writing it down.  This forces the brain to involve reasoning and judgement, thereby calming fear and anxiety.
  • Analyze it.  What did it really mean?  Looking at the dream in a new light can change your thoughts about the dream and perhaps show you something about yourself.

5.  The Workout Hangover – You skipped the gym too long, then crammed in a crazy makeup workout, and now you can barely move.  Try this:

  • Ice, ice, baby.  Resist the urge to take a hot bath and instead ease inflammation with ice packs, which also interrupt the pain signals.
  • Drink tart cherry juice.  An ounce of cherry juice can help after a workout due to its anti-inflammatory compounds.  
  • Stay Active.  Classic hair-of-the-dog.  Gently engage your sore muscles with a walk or bike ride to stimulate blood flow and the healing process.

6.  The Sleep-Deprivation Hangover – You aren’t sleeping enough, and now you’re just off in so many ways.  Try this:

  • Beware carbs and caffeine.  Lack of sleep triggers cortisol, which makes you crave doughnuts and coffee … all day.  Eat protein rather than carbs for steadier energy.
  • Use aromatherapy.  Peppermint or rosemary oil gives a quick alertness boost.  
  • Have a chat.  A mere 10 minutes of social interaction can improve your alertness and positively effect your body clock.

We all have dreams.  Health, wealth, happiness, success, love.  Sometimes the best way to achieve your dream lies in your ability to visualize it.  Becoming stronger, happier, and more effective could just be a mental image away!

  1. Use All Your Senses.  The most effective imagery uses all five senses, making you so immersed that it seems like it’s actually happening.
  2. Be the Star, Not the Audience.  Imagine yourself actually performing the activity, not just as though you’re watching yourself do it.
  3. Practice.  It makes perfect, after all.
  4. Write It Down.  Put the story of how your feat will unfold in writing.
  5. Focus on the  Positive.  It’s more satisfying to notice all the good you’ve accomplished instead of what you haven’t yet.
  6. Imagine Every Step.  Specific step imagery is more effective than thinking in general terms.
  7. Put Rest Breaks to Use.  Using downtime to continue imagining yourself as a success will help you when you get back at it.
  8. Feel the Results.  Recognize the positive changes you’re already experiencing.
  9. Script Your Success.  What does it look like?  What does it feel like?  What will you be like after?
  10. Be True to Yourself.  Don’t go completely against the grain of your very being.  Staying true to you will ensure success.

The blues.  A funk.  The doldrums.  The fun of the holidays are long over, the thrill of the chill in the air has passed.  Now you’re just cold and feeling in a funk.  The Winter Blues.  It happens.  Here are 5 surefire ways to give your blues the boot:

  1.  Do the Chicken Dance.  Moving your body helps release negative emotions.
  2. Pay Attention.  Mind wandering is the brain’s default state, but can lead to feeling less happy.  Engage in something that requires focus to make for a happier state of mind.
  3. Rent a Tearjerker.  Sad endings can put our own troubles into perspective and spurs happy thoughts.  Bonus:  a good cry can be quite releasing.
  4. Look Out the Window.  Taking a moment to observe the world in all its beauty gives great perspective.
  5. Use Your Imagination.  Tapping into your imagination gives you the sense that anything is possible and can be just the trick to reenergize.

Whether it’s a new week, month, or year, finding balance is one of the most common quests in life.  As we go headfirst into 2017, here are some tricks to improve our juggling acts.

  1. If something can be done in 5 minutes or less, do it now!  It takes more time and energy to write it down and keep thinking about it than it does to just get it done.
  2. Make a decision that is congruent with your values.  Don’t stick with something – a book, a movie, a task – that doesn’t give you pleasure just to feel noble or prove a point.
  3. Own your choices.  When you take full responsibility for your time, instead of blaming others, you have the power to make positive changes.
  4. Just say no.  A very simple and effective “That won’t work out for me” says nothing but conveys everything.
  5. The fewer discretionary burdens you take on, the lighter your load.  Each optional task you designate as obligatory adds to your feelings of overload.
  6. Recognize that it’s not about a lack of time, but often a lack of energy.  Like a muscle, energy can be nurtured, thereby increasing your emotional and mental strength.  
  7. Consider the consequences of your choices in the next 10 minutes, 10 months, and 10 years.   You might feel good in the next 10 minutes, but in the next 10 months the picture might look different.
  8. Sanctify the ordinary.  Make a conscious effort to find the sacred in the mundane and you won’t have to schedule quality time -you’ll be living it.
  9. Make a Victory Log or a Gratitude Journal.  Write down things you accomplished or that went well and read once a week to recognize that your life is a success and that you already have strengths to create the life you want.

Perfect equilibrium may not be possible, but these strategies can help you figure out what is worth bringing into your New Year and what needs to be left behind with the last one.

Lots of talk about resolutions this week, and health goals are almost always #1 on the list.  But when trying to meet them, which works better:  Diet or Exercise?

  1. Want to drop a dress size?  Focus on Diet.  To initially lose the weight, restrict those calories! (then exercise to maintain)
  2. Want to increase energy?  Focus on Diet.  Smart eating throughout the day fuels you with a steadier supply.
  3. Want to reduce heart disease risks?  Focus on Exercise.  Being physically active and fit decreases stress, lowers cholesterol, and increases blood flow – which, when combined, improve heart health more than diet alone.
  4. Want to keep your mind sharp?  Focus on Exercise.  Studies favor physical activity for mental acuity, showing a much lower risk of developing dementia later in life.
  5. Want to boost your libido?  Focus on Exercise.  Body image, mood, and self-esteem can all affect your libido, and exercise helps boost them all!

Sometimes the best present is simply to be present. That can be tricky around the holidays, as we rush from festivity to festivity, struggle to cover everybody on our gift list, and fight holiday traffic.  Bring back your Christmas Spirit with this easy breathing exercise:

  1. Sit down, comfortable but upright.
  2. Inhale an easy, slow breath through your nose.
  3. Exhale fully, reaching the bottom of your breath, then pause.
  4. When your body naturally initiates the next breath, make it full and satisfying.
  5. Repeat, and find that your pauses between breaths grow longer.

Take advantage of this technique to feel calmer and more connected to what – and who – is surrounding you.  It’s the best gift of all.

Ah, the holidays.  Party planning, packed stores, long lines.  The kids will soon be underfoot with every step you take.  And the traffic??  Fuhgetaboutit!  The perfect storm for your patience to go out the window.  Take a breath and keep your cool with these 5 Patience Pointers:

  1. Stop Imagining the Ideal.  It’s not going to be perfect, but that’s OK.
  2. Experience Different Cultures.  Mellow yourself out by seeking different cultures, many of which aren’t as punctual and perfectionistic as our own.
  3. Find a Distraction.  Tell a joke, check the latest on your news feed, even talk to your pets (they don’t offer opinions).  It’ll recharge you and your focus.
  4. Chew Your Food Slowly.  Not only will you eat less, but you’ll train yourself to be less impulsive and more tolerant.
  5. Laugh at Yourself.  Formulate an internal joke, even at your own expense, to calm your irritations.

Now get out there and fa-la-la with the best of them!

Whether they’re 6 or 60, people don’t outgrow temper tantrums like they do clothes or car seats.  Next time someone is coming apart at the seams, just HALT.  Ask yourself:

  1. are they Hungry?
  2. are they Agitated?
  3. are they Lonely?
  4. are they Tired?

Studies have shown that even lab rats were more irritable when they were sleep-deprived or hungry.  So, remember HALT and you might just save yourself a headache!