6 Simple Ways to Shop Smarter

What if you could not only save while shopping but make money? Keep reading to learn how I changed my shopping habits for good…

If you’re like me, you love to shop. What I didn’t love was the credit card bill that came weeks later reminding me how much above my means I had spent. I tried shopping less but when I saw something I had to have, I couldn’t resist. This cycle would continue to repeat itself and continue to leave me with buyer’s remorse.

Then, after making these easy changes (and sticking to them), I not only began saving money when shopping but actually started making money. My hope is that by sharing the process I follow, you too will shop smarter. Now, let’s go shopping…

Step 1: Calculate Cash Back from Spending

 When I first started to change my habits, I knew I needed to figure out exactly how much I was spending (as painful as it is). After looking through the bills I determined I was spending over $800 every month on stuff I wanted, not needed.

Most of that spending was online and when I started looking for ways to still shop but spend less, I came across Ebates. They’ve given their members over $325,000,000 in cash-back for shopping at the stores they already do. Now when I shop, they deposit my cash back directly into my account. It’s actually that easy.

Registering is completely free and they even give you a $10 Welcome Bonus. If you’re already going to buy from these stores anyways, you might as well get cash back for it on Ebates.

Step 2: Make Extra Cash for “Wants”

I realize that for some, in order to shop smarter you need the resources to do it. There have been plenty of times where I’ve been short on cash and shopping wasn’t even an option (or put me further into debt). As a college student, in between jobs and plenty of other times I had to be resourceful not only in saving money but making it too.

In the past, I would look for jobs around town but it was almost never worth the effort. One day while on my computer I found Swagbucks.com and signed up. I’ll be honest that at first I was very skeptical but after I started completing some actions on their site, I was receiving “Swagbucks” right away. In the first day I made 500 Swagbucks and received a $5 Amazon Gift Card! Now whenever I’m a little tight on cash and want to shop, I just spend some time on Swagbucks.

Step 3: Save Smarter, Not Harder

While Ebates gives me cash back for most of the stores I shop at, I didn’t find absolutely everything. And by everything, I mean shoes. Yes, I too have a shoe addiction and I needed to find a smarter way to buy them and other stylish pieces.

Before, I was spending almost $50 for a new pair of shoes. Not only was it an expensive habit but I wasn’t even happy with the shoes I was buying. When I became a VIP Member with JustFab it was the best of both worlds. Not only did they completely customize my online shopping experience but I started spending 50% less on a pair of shoes.

It was so easy to get started, all I did was answer a few questions about the styles I like and instantly got access. Plus, they gave me a Buy 1 Get 1 Free coupon, free shipping & exchanges just for signing up.

Step 4: Get Paid Taking Surveys

Most don’t know this but your opinion is actually very valuable. Because of this, sites like MySurvey will actually pay you to take short simple surveys. Not only is it a lot of fun but you earn points (similar to Swagbucks) which can be easily redeemed for gift cards, certificates, vouchers and cash!

Starting with MySurvey is completely free. Just sign up and check your email to get started!

Step 5: Always Save on Groceries

That’s right. There’s no reason to ever pay full price the grocery store since there’s always a deal to be found. That’s where joining the Betty Crocker Newsletter came in handy with it’s consistent savings and tons of recipe ideas. Now when I go to the store, I always check my email for some savings and inspiration from Betty Crocker.

Signing up for Betty Crocker was completely free. Just enter your email and check your inbox!

Step 6: Cash Back the Easy Way

It’s amazing to me how simple getting cash back on shopping and completing other easy tasks online for money has become. I know we’ve mentioned several ways to get started (Ebates, Swagbucks and MySurvey) but this last one, MyPoints, takes the cake.

After signing up to MyPoints for Free, I started getting Points for doing things I already do online (shopping online, taking surveys, watching videos and reading emails to earn more Points). I’ve been using MyPoints so long now that it has become part of my online routine anytime I get on the computer or my phone. It’s definitely worth checking out to get a few more tips and easy ways to make some extra money.

One final note before I get going: The one mistake I made through this all was never really getting started. I dabbled into a few of these options but never fully embraced it. Don’t let that happen to you, get started right now, no excuses!



Creative Ideas to Optimize Dead Space and Organize Your House

Welcome to a world full of cool and imaginative ideas when it comes to home improvement projects! Use this article full of creative and innovative ideas as a guide to optimizing the space in your house when you are considering how to plan your next dream home improvement project.

If you are already planning a home renovation or a small remodel this summer, go ahead and consider some of these unique ideas to organize your home. The point of any renovation or remodel is to make something better, and with these ideas you can really ensure you will get a house that works better for you and your family while optimizing the house space you already own.

 

Turn your walls into interactive and living spaces. Magnetic walls are strong enough to hold your TV and sturdy shelves! They are large panels that can be installed during renovation or a remodel freeing up floor space. Chalkboard paint is an imaginative way to communicate with your family or turn a wall into part of the kids daily art routine. A completely unique way to go green and start towards your own sustainability at home is by implementing a partial or full green living wall. The green vertical walls include soil typically to keep greenery growing and they include their own integrated water system.

Take advantage of the dead space in your home by remodeling it into creative storage space. One innovative idea is to install a platform floor in one room. It’s a fabulous place to hide all your stuff and the space doubles as a guestroom, bedroom or office. If the platform is built high enough, it can also become a bed. Take advantage of the empty space underneath the steps of the staircases by installing built in bookshelves or shoe racks that slide out.

Take your kitchen and start making it work for you. Use pull out cabinets on wheels that slide underneath a flat counter top you install to double your kitchen counter space that instantly becomes usable. Find dead space at the bottom of a wall or the end of your kitchen island and install a built-in wine rack to optimize space. Add a mini-fridge underneath your cabinets or into your island to store drinks, beer and extra snacks. Add chutes in the wall of the kitchen for recycling and trash. This idea is genius for people tired of garbage smelling or piling up!

Install accordion glass doors or windows to enjoy the great outdoors from inside the comforts of your own home. This home characteristic is enticing for those fall evenings as well as becoming the perfect open space combining the elegance of a dinner party with the fun outside barbeque for entertaining guests. Another way to enjoy the great outdoors from inside is to trade the same ceiling you’ve gazed at for years in for a star-gazing sunroof instead. The sunroof can be a great addition in your living room or the bedrooms.

Turn your fireplace into much more than just a fireplace. Add built-in seating to the frame of the fireplace. You may want to leave bare or customize for a reading nook with cushioned seats. Another idea is to build a fireplace that is dual-sided and functional for the two rooms it is between (for example, the master bedroom and bathroom). The two-sided warmth will give any master suite or home area a truly unique, elegant look. If you are tired of the plain old red brick look, whitewash the bricks or paint them with a bright color that pops to revitalize the fireplace!

There is dead space all over every residential property and when you are looking to turn your house into a better home for you and your family, then utilizing the space not being used is the most cost-effective way to make the most out of your time and money. Be sure to take the time to figure out what is going to make you the happiest (since you most likely manage the entire house) and what will help your family run the smoothest. For instance, if your closets are overflowing with shoes and the kids can’t ever find them, then installing additional shoe spaces is smart. If you do not drink wine, then installing a wine rack is pretty useless and a waste of money and space. What are the needs of your family? What cries for more storage in your home?

Use this information to lead the way towards your dream remodel that is just right for you and your family’s lifestyle.

6 Steps to Prepare Kids for the Big Move to the New House

After buying a new house there is a lot to do. Getting kids ready to move is often avoided, but is one of the most important steps in moving to a new home. While packing and planning seem to be the larger issues at hand, preparing kids to move is not an issue that should get pushed aside. Take the time to involve your children in the process right from the start to make sure they know their voice counts. Moving can be challenging for kids and it is normal for them to feel the entire move is out of their control.

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During the challenges surrounding moving time, get the children involved so they have a grip on what is going on in their lives and future. In order to ensure your children feel involved and have control over at least part of the life changing event, you can try the following six tips.

  1. Encourage your children to ask questions and honestly answer them. Most times kids will want to know all about the new school they will be attending, the neighborhood they will be moving into, if there are kids their age around, and what types of sports teams will be available. In addition they may want to know if making new friends will be hard, if their beloved pet is moving too, and why they have to move.

 

  1. Tell your child about their new room and get input from them about the décor. Just as you are excited about your new house, your child will be excited about the new space that is going to be theirs. Give your child as much information as possible about the new house, their new room, and what décor possibilities exist. They can help to decide where furniture will go and the color of paint they hope to get on their walls.

 

  1. Help your child create a memory book and address book of all their current friends. With a simple email or postage stamp, your child will be able to keep in touch with all of their current friends, coaches, teachers, and neighbors. Help them plan their goodbyes whether it is a going away party, slumber party, or separate events to ease them into the moving process. Putting together a memory book or scrapbook of their favorite memories and goodbye moments will help them when they start missing their friends after the move.

 

  1. Give them tasks with their personal belongings. Ask your child to go through their room, toys, clothing, and other belongings to determine what needs to go and what can be donated or sold off. You can even let them have their very own yard sale to make some money if the weather is permitting. By giving them the responsibility of sorting and helping to pack their belongings, they will feel more involved in the physical process of moving to a new home.

 

  1. Instruct your children in how to make a Moving Survival Kit. By helping them decide what essentials they need for moving day(s), they will have everything they need from the time they leave the old house until they get settled in the new home. Everything from books, games, clothes, hygiene essentials, gifts from friends, and photos can be packed in the suitcase or special box to keep them busy and having fun while on the road. In addition, they will enjoy being able to decorate the Moving Survival Kit in their own style.

 

  1. Schedule time for visiting the favorite places to say goodbye. Is there a special park your child loves to visit? What about an ice-cream shop, restaurant, swimming pool, or museum that they live to go to? Ask your child where their favorite places are that they want to visit before moving and do everything to make sure at least one or two favorite places are included in the weekly schedules prior to moving. Mark the calendar to keep them excited about the final goodbyes to their favorite places.

By preparing your children for the big move, you can ensure that they feel like part of the family and part of the process the entire time. Make every effort to answer every question they have about the move and do everything possible to help them say their goodbyes for a smooth moving transition.

Getting Back in Touch with Cash and Budgeting

Budgeting. Everyone has heard of it, but how many people actually know how to do it? How many women actually make a budget and stick to it with their family? Money has become overwhelming, but do we actually think of our money as cash?

Budgeting and Saving Challenges are Wide-Spread

Paying the bills, saving for college and stashing away the dollars for retirement is not as easy as it used to be. In fact, it is a huge challenge for married families and single parents everywhere to budget and save money. Retirement is no longer the relaxing ‘haven of golden years’ like it was either.

Since times have changed, women are finding themselves on their own much longer than in previous years. Both genders are finding that their wages and the economy contributes less for saving, if any at all. College tuitions are consistently on the rise, the cost of rent and mortgages continues to soar, and women are stuck without the know-how, skills, and tools for achieving their financial goals.

These factors have significantly impacted our culture, resulting in the widespread epidemic of people not only struggling to maintain their present financial needs but are completely ill-prepared for their future financial obligations.

Technology and Cash

In order to get started, recognize that in this day and age we spend our cash earnings differently than our parents did. We never learned how to manage our money through technology because credit and debit cards were not used around the clock way money is spent in today’s world. However, we use technology for nearly all purchases. In other words, physical cards and automated technology have separated people from the actual concept of cash.

Stop the Separation from Cash Cycle

The separation from cash continues to get worse as consumers pay at retailers with their smartphones. If you and your family truly want to learn how to manage money and save for the future, then you must change the way you think about the money you have coming in. Your family will need to stop making random swipes of a card and clicks from the phone to buy unnecessary items. Once you take a good look at the incoming cash you can spend and how it is being used for bills and other purchases, you will be able to get a grasp on the amount of money everyone is spending. Print out all bank statements and credit card statements showing the last three months of purchases. Get all paycheck stubs together and add in any other incoming cash not paid via payroll check.

Start a Family Budget

At this step, your family needs to analyze all purchases in black and white and agree on which purchases will be cut going forward and which ones will remain. Make decisions here everyone can live with every day. For instance, a $3 coffee everyday on the way to work or school should be slashed. Coffee can be brewed at home for huge savings. Family members can pack lunches four days a week out of five versus buying out every day and enjoy a delicious meal out on Fridays. Make a plan for what will be spent going forward for each person in the household after figuring out the amount coming into the house every month and the amount going out for necessary bills. You must close the gap of separation your family has become accustomed to in regards to spending and establish a family budget everyone can get on board with so that bills can be paid while everyone else gets just what they need every month with an occasional reward. If there are reoccurring bills that aren’t a necessity or aren’t being used (monthly gym membership, magazines, etc.) then get them closed to save money monthly.

Manage Money with the App

Get a grip on spending by utilizing your bank or credit union mobile phone app to keep in touch with your money. Numerous credit card companies have fantastic apps for their customers to stay on top of their money and balances. Most institutions have advanced, easy to use interfaces to help you keep track of your money for better financial money management and with some you can digitally communicate with your family about their purchases and the budget for the week.

Digital Detox – How To Handle the “Black Out”

Screens are all around. We can’t seem to escape them in this day and age. Laptops, phones, iPads, tablets, game systems, televisions, etc. We have become accustomed to connecting with others everywhere around the world through a million different ways ‘screens’ allow, and all whether we actually want to or not. The great majority of us have become so attached to our screens that they have literally began to take priority in our lives. The backlash is the digital devices are drawing our attention away from everything else we should be focusing on in our lives. No matter how much technology helps to improve our work and lives, long term, frequent use can have traumatic effect on our personal stress levels. If the phone or device is on, so is your brain.

Turn off the phone to let the brain switch off. If you discover you are getting anxious with every buzz or ring of your phone or you are always thinking about work, then it may be time for a Digital Detox. This is also called a self-inflicted Black Out. During this time, all digital devices and digital activities are banned to help the person get away from the online world to enjoy people in the real world and truly relax. Without the distraction of technology, you can live in the present and appreciate the small moments of time where you find yourself enjoying life and the people in it. If you relate and are tired of the endless beeps coming from your phone, it may be time to say no more. It may be time to turn it off, put it away out of sight, and spend time focusing on yourself and your family. You may be remarkably surprised at how refreshing it feels to be free from the digital chains of control.

Go Slow

If you are going into an anxiety or panic attack at the thought of turning off your phone to black out, then consider a few baby steps. Start out your first digital detox by turning it off 3 hours earlier in the evenings. Work on breaking the habit of constantly checking social media sites and emails. This will help you ‘detach’ from your phone. The nigh-time blackout translates into fall asleep easier, getting a better night’s sleep, improving stress levels and increasing your mental well-being.

Learn How To Be Bored

In the 21st century, it’s hard to know what to do with our time when we don’t have some sort of screen to connect with the world on during our free time outside of work and on the weekends. Have you considered a new hobby or activity that doesn’t have anything to do with digital technology? Such as art classes, sports, or reading a real paper made book? Do you know how to be bored? Let creativity set in! Start a project around your home to make a statement. All these things will really make living through a digital detox for longer periods of time a lot easier because you are already into the habit of shifting your focus in life to other activities. Growing your list of things you have to complete without technology will greatly decrease your need to constantly check it.

Trade Social Media Platforms For Real Socializing

While social media platforms are fantastic ways to catch up on news, great content, and far away friends and family, we are also tricked into thinking we are much more social in life than we really may be. Learn to only ‘socialize’ on your favorite platforms like Twitter and Facebook once in the mornings and once in the evenings. This will encourage you to spend more time with real friends and family in your life and reconnect with the reality of the real world.

Paper – Doing It the ‘Old-Fashioned’ Way

When the alerts from your organizational apps and the beeps from your calendar start to get the better of you, it may be time to turn in the digital planner for good old fashioned traditional calendaring. Paper calendars and planners will help you stay organized in your life, stay on top of things with just a glance, and all without the constant reminders and need to interact with each ‘task’ or ‘event.’ Be sure to place your planner or calendar in a spot you see all the time, so you don’t miss any important dates or appointments.

It may seem difficult at first to truly take the time away from technology you need to do. If you are aiming for a full Black Out, then integrate these steps in your life to help prepare you for the digital detox. But then again, once you turn off the phone and put it away, you may be surprised at how easy a tech-free life can be!

Stuck In A Rut? Here’s How To Dig Yourself Out

Fed up of the whole “new year, new you” mantra? You’re probably not alone. While the turning of a new year is packaged as the perfect time in which to start anew, you might not always have the means to reinvent yourself each January, emotionally or otherwise. Getting stuck in a rut is a more common side effect of modern life than you might have realized and despite the fact that the media is telling us that now is the time in which to start afresh, many of us might simply not feel up to it. When the pressure to change gets too much, the natural response is to run and hide.

It’s all a matter of perspective. Feeling forced into changing your lifestyle can lead you to make any number of bad decisions and along the way, you can end up feeling a whole lot more lost. The trick is not to panic. If you slowly pinpoint areas in your life that could do with an overhaul, you’re more likely to make the kinds of changes that are really going to alter your life for the better. These everyday tweaks can help you to get back on track, making it easier for you to carve out the kind of life that you really envisioned for yourself.

Get Honest With Yourself

Making changes just for the sake of it is only going to end in disappointment. To get to where you really want to be in your life, you’re going to have to have a serious conversation with yourself to get to the root of the problem. While you might feel tempted to alter certain parts of your lifestyle, is doing so really going to make you feel better? Try and get to the heart of the problem and really listen to what’s driving you. Doing so will change your life for the better in more ways than one.

Give Up Your Complaining

Ruts are not forever and viewing them as so is only going to make the situation feel all the worse for you. Complaining about the fact that your life is at a stand still is going to slow down any progression you could be making, stopping you from taking a positive step forwards. Rather than dwelling on your complaints, try taking all of that negative energy and seeing how you might change it into something productive. Changing your perspective can give you a whole new understanding of your surroundings, making it easier for you to know what you need to do to get going once more.

Take Back Your Power

Feeling like the world is using you as its punching bag is never a good thing. When your life fails to move forwards in the ways that you had envisioned, you can feel incredibly powerless, unable to take a step towards finding a positive solution. While you might feel like you’re a passive piece of the puzzle, the power to change your life is entirely in your hands. Instead of trying to tackle everything you want to change at once, try focusing on one element of your life and seeing how you might tweak it for the better. Taking baby steps towards a goal will give you the confidence to take back control once and for all.

Look Forwards

When it comes to getting yourself out of a rut, the key is in the future. Focusing too much either on the present or on the recent past will only leave you feeling powerless and unmotivated to make any real changes. If you want to really stop focusing on past mistakes, you need to keep your eye on the future. Instead of looking what might have gone wrong before, opt to search for solutions to your current situation. The future is something upon which you can really have a positive effect, so make sure you seize it by both hands.

Stop Looking Over Your Shoulder

Try as we might, we can often find it impossible to stop comparing ourselves with those around us. Looking at the progress that other people make can stop your motivation in its tracks, leaving you feeling seriously down in the dumps. People will only show you a fraction of their lives and behind the scenes, you have no idea what their day to day existence could be like. As much as you can, cut your focus on other people and keep your attention fixed on your here and now. Getting out of your rut starts with you alone.

The Successful Way To Take On Your Mondays

Just like clockwork, with the passing of time, Monday morning comes around once a week, no matter how much you might will it away. Signalling the end of the weekend and the start of yet another working week, Monday has gained something of a bad reputation over the years and now, it is almost universally disliked. You might begrudgingly accept the fact that Monday will always be that way, bringing you back into reality like a cold slap around the face. What, though, if you could turn around the day altogether? Mondays are the chance for a fresh start on the week, giving you a regular chance to begin over again, to take another shot. It’s all a question of perspective.

Tackling your Monday with poise, style and grace need not be as hard as you had thought. Exasperation and exhaustion might run high at the start of the week but by tweaking a few things as you go, you can make a whole lot more out of your day. Thought that things could only get better from the start of the week? It turns out, they might already be pretty perfect.

Get Ahead Of Time

It’s all in the small details. If you think that things are magically going to fall into place on your Monday morning, you might have a huge surprise waiting for you in the wings. Small details can accumulate over the course of the weekend and unless you get yourself into gear, and fast, you might start to feel overwhelmed with it all come the morning. It’s all about giving yourself the time to adjust. If you can, getting prepared on Sunday evening can help you out a huge amount, giving you the time and space to ease into the working week. Doing things like laying out your clothes, preparing your lunch and arranging your suitcase can make all the difference, having you out the door in no time at all. Your week will start off that bit less hectically and you will have the mindspace to get to work.

Switch Your Frame of Mind

Mondays can be downright painful. After a long weekend of relaxing, sleeping in and doing whatever you please, the start of the week can come down on you like a ton of bricks, crippling any sense of motivation you might have mustered up. Mondays and Sundays are a whole world apart and in order to give yourself the best chance of getting going, it pays to switch your mindset. Instead of thinking about Monday as the end of your free time, why not rather think of it as a blank space, or an opportunity to start something afresh? Mondays shouldn’t signify the end of something that you really love and by altering your negative perspective, you can make all the difference.

Keep It Offline

Sleepily reaching for your phone as you’re lying in bed might be something of a morning habit of yours, but it’s probably not doing you any sort of good. Looking at your phone first thing in the morning is a sure fire way to ramp up your stress levels before you’ve even set foot into the office. On a Monday morning, out of any time at all, give yourself a flying chance and keep your headspace firmly offline. Resisting the urge to check your office emails before you begin working might be a very real struggle, but it will have you feeling a whole lot calmer. You don’t need to be in the know, all of the time.

Up Your Nutrition Intake

Prefer to sleep in late rather than getting yourself a good breakfast? You could be making things a great deal harder for yourself down the line. The importance of eating something nutritious and balanced in the morning is evident enough but on a Monday morning, it can make even more of a difference to how you feel. Try looking to protein-rich eggs, porridge or a healthy green smoothie. Your hunger pangs will be kept under wraps and you’ll have the energy to concentrate on your working day. It’s win-win!

Take It Back A Notch

Ever balked at those people who claim to prefer the mornings over any other part of the day? They might not be as bizarre as you had thought. Giving yourself the time and space in which to get going with your day can make the earliest stretches a huge amount more enjoyable and enriching. Getting up earlier to enjoy a healthy breakfast, do a little yoga or even meditate in your room can give you just the headspace you need to adjust to your working pace on a Monday morning. It might take you a little time to get going once more but once you get into the swing of things, there will be no stopping you.

Battling the Winter Blues? Let These Homely Hobbies Help

With all the of the festivities well and truly wrapped up for another year, you might be feeling the after effects of the season. There’s a reason why winter is the cruellest time of year and if you’re looking at the next few cold months with a lump in your throat, you might not be alone. What, though, if there were another way to approach the winter season? While winter might cut you off from the outdoors, there are plenty of ways that you can make the most of the next few months by changing up your schedule somewhat. These indoor hobbies can easily replace your summertime activity, allowing you to make the most of your free time without venturing too far out into the cold.

Cook Up A Storm

Want to improve your cooking skills? There has never been a better time than now in which to commit yourself to the project. Turning up the heat might be all but impossible during the summer months so now that things have well and truly cooled down, why not try experimenting with that recipe book that you had on hold? Even if you’re not adept in the kitchen, you can dedicate the coming days and weeks to perfecting your cooking style, experimenting with all kinds of dishes and flavors. Invest in a really good cookbook before you go and get started with the most classic of dishes out there.

Balance It All Out

Saying that you’re going to do something is a whole lot different to actually going through with it. While getting into yoga might have been high up on your to-do list for some time now, you might have been putting it off and putting it off, leaving the activity on the back burner. Now is the time in which to take action. Yoga is an incredible way to get in tune with your body and improve your strength and flexibility. Even if you already work out, you could be overlooking essential areas of your fitness in your exercise plan. Yoga will help you to destress, focus on specific muscle groups and tone yourself up. Better yet, the activity can be performed in the comfort of your own home, meaning that you don’t even have to go anywhere!

Brush Up Your Languages

Speaking a foreign language is something that so many of us want to do and yet, we seem to fail to find the time in which to actually go ahead with. The long winter evenings are yours for the taking. If travel is going to be a part of your year ahead, getting ahead of the curve and focusing on your language of choice can be a really great path to take. You can try attending evening classes, watching Youtube videos or downloading a language app on your phone. Just an hour or so every evening can make all the difference to your skills, giving you the foundation you need in order to go further.

Get Writing

Having a creative way in which to express yourself can work wonders for your wellbeing. If you’re interested in the world of writing, now might be the perfect time in which to put pen to paper – so to speak – and draft yourself up a blog. Your writing doesn’t have to reach a lot of people; it’s all about expanding your own creativity and trying something new. If you’re looking to get into creative writing and feel that you would like to pick up a skill of two, you can try looking into courses such as Skillshare in order to get going. Writing a little bit each day can help a great amount, giving you the foundation that you need in order to go further with your hobby.

Perfect Your Penmanship

Over the last couple of years, the popularity of calligraphy has really peaked. What was once an antiquated way of adding a little flourish to a piece of writing has now become something altogether different, giving you the chance to express yourself in any way that you should so please. Modern calligraphy can help you to make your own cards, table places or wall prints, expanding your creative possibilities a huge amount. If you’re not sure where to start, you can try searching for online classes or teaching yourself with a good old fashioned book and pen. Interactive apps also make it even easier than ever to express yourself, helping you to perfect your art either digitally or on paper.

Deck the Halls: 5 Simple Ways To Kit Out Your Home This Holiday

The holiday season is well and truly upon us and with it comes a whole load of ways in which to dress up your home. The only trouble is, kitting out your apartment space is at a minimum can be a great deal more difficult than you had envisaged. After wrestling with a Christmas tree, knotting your twinkly lights and getting yourself entwined in tinsel, you might be all but ready to throw in the towel. It might simply be time to change things up a little. Approaching this year’s decorations with an innovative eye can help you out enormously, making it even simpler to give your home a festive touch.

Festive Textiles

It’s not just about the Christmas tree when it comes to kitting out your home. Bringing in the right kinds of colors and tones can make all the difference to the space, grounding the area in a festive glow. Swapping in your regular accessories for a few Christmas themed items might seem like a cheesy way in which to get in the spirit but done right, the flourishing can seriously pay off. Adding a few festive textiles to your furnishing collection can make it easier for you to decorate your home in the coming years, giving you a ready made arsenal to dip into. Don’t feel like you have to go overboard to make it count; a festive cushion and a few cozy throws can be all that it takes to prepare for the holiday without going overboard.

Hanging Stockings

Don’t have a fireplace? It doesn’t matter! Practically any surface can be used in order to suspend a festive stocking or two, bringing a touch of the season to any room in the house. If you’re not sure how to suspend yours without making a permanent change to the hardware, try investing in a pair of festive ornaments. The items can work to keep your stockings in place while giving the room an extra festive kick. In terms of stockings, the sky really is the limit. Going for a coolor tone to match your living space can bring a more minimalist tone to the space while opting for a classic choice can make things feel all the more festive. Hang your stocking for the world to see and let the rest works its magic.

Greenery and Lights

Even if you’re not opting for a tree this year, there are a number of ways that you can add a festive feel into your home and use the traditional color tones. Turning to greenery and lights can be a great way of cheating your Christmas design, bringing in the design of a festive tree without actually having to go out and get one. If you’re short on space, arranging a vase of greens and red berries can warm up the color tone of the space and create a festive corner in the room. Adding lights to frames and furnishings will add in an extra glow, giving you the illumination of a Christmas tree while saving space.

Christmas Crockery

If the holiday is more of a subtle affair in your household, you can let your existing furnishings do all of the talking for you. Swapping in your normal plates, mugs and cutlery for seasonally themed alternatives will help to base your home in the holidays without going overboard on the design. Using the mugs and plates for a few weeks during the year will make them feel a whole lot more special, bringing in a sense of excitement before the season has come to a head. Don’t be afraid to arrange your plates and mugs for the world to see; you want to show off your design!

Seasonal Treats

A sure fire way to get your guests into the festive spirit? Leave out a few snacks and treats in festive bowls! There’s something undeniably cozy about surrounding yourself with a few seasonal treats and by leaving them out for your guests, you can create an air of comfort into your home. If you whip up your own, it’s all the better; you can design the look of each snack and present it for all of your visitors to enjoy:

Take Care: 6 Phrases You Need To Stop Saying To Yourself

The way that you take care of yourself can have a huge effect on how you feel everyday. While you might have the best support system, the most successful of careers and the happiest of relationships, it can mean very little if you’re not treating yourself in the right way. When it comes to feeling good in and of yourself, it’s all a question of perspective. While change is not going to come about overnight, you can slowly start to implement alternatives in the way that you think about yourself. Consciously changing your thought patterns can take some work but after a little time and a touch of patience, you can be well on your way to becoming a healthier, happier you.

I’ll Be Happy When

Having something to look forward in life can be a great way of setting yourself goals, motivating yourself for the future and keeping a positive mindset. When you’re so focused on achieving a goal that you forget to appreciate everything else around you, however, things can start to become messy. There are some things that can make it easier to keep on going but if you base your happiness around one single thing, you’re unlikely to be content in what it is you’re doing. You’re never going to get everything you want out of life, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be just as sweet.

Things Could Be Worse

Coming from any sort of privilege is a blessing. You should be thankful for your upbringing and think about how it has enabled you to get where you are today. When things are not going right in your life, however, it can be easy to let this privilege turn into guilt. Telling yourself things could be worse, while technically true, will only serve to invalidate your feelings and make you feel even worse about the whole thing. Don’t take away from your own emotions and your own situation. Have a little perspective, yes, but give yourself the time and care you need in order to mend.

I’m Boring

We’ve all had moments in our life when we feel a whole lot less than sparkling. Feeling dull and uninspiring is something that happens to most people but focusing too much on how you feel about yourself will only serve to worsen the situation. As long as you’re happy with your hobbies and your interests, that’s all that matters. Try as hard as you might, you simply cannot please everyone. Being happy in your own skin will see you through and make it easier to make others who appreciate you for exactly who you are.

I’m Not Doing Well Enough

Personal pressure is a very funny thing. Have too little of it and you can lose your way entirely. Have too much of it and you can feel crippled in your tracks. The trick is to find the magic number, and put just enough on yourself in order to keep yourself motivated. Being proud of how well you’re doing is nothing to be ashamed of and in fact, it can help to nurture a psychology that is a whole lot better rounded. You can sing your achievements without coming off as arrogant, so don’t feel like you can’t be happy with your situation.

Everything Happens For A Reason

Sometimes, things happen that you don’t understand and only months later, you come to realize how you’re in a much better position. Other times, however, things happen and turn your world upside down, leaving little significance in their wake. Both good and bad comes out of change but no situation changes because that’s how it was supposed to be. As hard as it might be, telling yourself that things happen randomly will give you the freedom to let go and stop trying to understand tragedy. Bad things are far too commonplace, no matter how good of a person you are.

I Don’t Have The Time

When things start to pile up on your social and working calendars, it can be easy to step out of your responsibilities for lack of enough time. While it can be harder to say yes to things on a regular basis, you can soon find yourself in a spiral of saying no, using your schedule as an excuse. If you’re living without children and have few other responsibilities, you might have the most amount of time you ever will do. Don’t overload your plate, but try saying yes to things once in awhile; you don’t know how good it might feel.