Sunday Funday: Good Reads!

Sunday Funday: Good Reads!

First of all, YESSSSS!!!!! It's time to use pumpkin pictures again!  

Second of all, here are a few links I'm loving this week.  Grab a cuppa, sit back and enjoy.  

First of all, YESSSSS!!!!! It's time to use pumpkin pictures again!  

Second of all, here are a few links I'm loving this week.  Grab a cuppa, sit back and enjoy.  

Sorry Mom, your kids don't want your stuff

Fall is here, time to tune in to a new Swedish buzzword - Lagom - short for "just enough"!

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Simple Luxury

As we enter the new year, I know it's easy to focus on what we want to change about ourselves and the resolutions we made (and probably broke by now), but we if we focused on the luxury we all have access to? The luxury that comes, not from million dollar yachts and Dom Perignon, but from appreciating the simple beauty all around us?

I would like to propose a few simple, happy changes to make.  Ones that will remind you of the beauty all around us and of how lucky we are.  If you're not in love with your life, consider trying a few of these.   Most can be had for free or under $20.  

1.  Display Flowers:  

For $3.99 at Trader Joe's or Safeway, or for free from your yard, fresh flowers (and branches, leaves or greens) are one of the most inexpensive way to feel truly luxe.  When you open an HGTv Magazine, or Better Homes and Gardens, there is ALWAYS a bouquet of flowers displayed in the homes.  The editors know we are naturally drawn to their beauty, so why not replicate it in your own home.  While I spend most of my time telling you to declutter and get rid of things, some very deliberate purchases can have a lasting, positive impact and make your life feel luxurious.

2.  Light a Candle:  

Another favorite $3.99 splurge is IKEA's Glimma Tealight candles.  These burn the best out of any tea lights I've purchased, and the tins they are in are recyclable.  If the thought of heading into an IKEA makes you break out in a cold sweat, you can also get them on Amazon.  I LOVE using the tea lights in my himalayan sea salt candle holders. They glow and make our room so inviting.  Also try a candle at the dinner table!  If you're feeling a little spendy, my all-time favorite candle is Danielle LaPorte's Clarity Candle.  At $32 (including shipping), it's a bit of a splurge, but it's so worth it and lasts forevah!  There are 3 other scents if that one doesn't do it for you. 

3.  Cultivate Gratitude:  This one is free and probably pays the biggest dividends. I'm not saying go out and buy a gratitude journal.  Those usually wind up with 3 pages filled, then shoved under a bed.  I'm saying notice, during the day, the things you have to be grateful for.  It's raining, but you're inside, and warm.  You wake up in the morning and have access to fresh coffee.  Bombs aren't being dropped on your house.  That sorta thing.  :) Tell yourself that for the next 3 days, you're going to pay attention to your blessings.  It'll change your life. 

4.  Make a Fire:  

Sticking with the $3.99 trend, grab a Duraflame log next time you're at the grocery store.  Most stores have them up by the registers.  Nothing feels more luxe than reclining by a fire as the winds howl and the rains fall outside.  

5.  Create a Morning Ritual:  This doesn't have to be complicated, it just involves a bit more than hitting "snooze" 3 times, then springing out of bed, racing to take a shower and get out the door.  Calm down. Go to bed earlier, so you can wake up refreshed.  Then pick one or two things to be your ritual.  For me, it's making 1 cup of coffee and reading a few pages of whatever book I'm in.  Bonus points if it's sunny and I can sit on the porch while sipping and reading.  It feels luxurious to take a few moments for myself before charging headlong into the day. 

6.  Watch a Movie:

Make it a guilty pleasure.  Something that makes you happy.  Intellectual think pieces, while amazing and important, aren't what we're talking about.  I'm talking Step Up, Magic Mike, Bad Moms, Bridesmaids.  Something that entertains you without requiring too much brain power.  Get out of your head and start laughing. Enjoy the luxury of letting go.

7.  Go for a Walk:

Even if it's just around your block, getting outdoors is the ultimate luxury.  Walk a bit more slowly than you normally would.  Notice the plants, the people, the houses.  Feel the air in your lungs.  Take a deeper breath.  Feel your muscles expanding and contracting. Stretch a little.  

8.  Take a Bath:  This can be free, or you can create a detox bath with a few inexpensive ingredients.  The important thing is to grant yourself the time to sink into a warm bath and zone out for a while.  If it feels luxurious to you, read a book and sip on tea.  If that seems like work, just enjoy the warmth and close your eyes.  

9.  Make Your Damn Bed:  You're an adult.  It takes 3 minutes. I timed it, and we have 4 blankets and 5 pillows to wrangle.  Nothing, and I mean nothing, will make your room look fancier and feel more peaceful.  Don't believe me, take before and after pics and see how you feel looking at the made bed vs. the unmade one.  Look at beautiful bedrooms on Pinterest and note how many have unmade beds. Still don't believe me? Make your bed for 3 days in a row and see how you feel.  You're welcome. 

10. Cook Something Healthy :

Seriously.  Nothing says luxe more than eating a high-quality, organic, healthy meal.  It doesn't have to be a huge production, nor cost an arm and a leg.  One of my favorite things is to saute 2 cups of spinach with some garlic and onion, then stir in a scrambled egg and top it all with some fresh avocado and a dash of Tabasco.  Easy, decadent, healthy.  

 

Well, there you go, 10 ways I wallow in luxuriousness.  Pick 1, or all 10.  I hope they help you!  If they do, please click the <3 or "share" button below. 

PS Outsource and Order Takeout to simplify

12 Lessons from the Holidays

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1. Less can be more. I only put out 1/3 of our decorations.  We moved into a new house that we are sharing with a housemate and I didn't want to completely overwhelm her with our 5 boxes of Christmas. But you know what?   In addition to being easier to set up and take down, it was still homey and cozy.  Would you downsize your decorations?  

2. Sometimes dinner feels like a Sisyphean task.  I find a can of garbanzo beans, some olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and lemon juice also make an excellent 30 second dinner.  My husband disagrees.  If the troops mutiny, tell them to cook their own damn dinner. :) Or better yet, ask your partner or Munchery* for help.  Not feasible? Rotate between a few favorite easy meals.  It's better than being a martyr and overextending yourself. 

3. Saying no is ok.  We turned down several holiday party options, and instead just went to the two we felt up to.  There's no shame in that.  I'm more comfortable in one-on-one situations anyway, though it was nice to stretch outside the comfort zone and chat with new people at both parties.   If going to parties energizes you, great! Say yes.  If they drain you, know your limits. Have you said "no" and enjoyed it?

4. "You" time is ok.  Be it just you or you and a partner.  We had to turn down a New Year's Day dinner because we just needed to have a day at home with ourselves.  Need a day? Take that sick/comp/vacation day and enjoy the hell outta it! You're going to feel better!

5. Presence is always the best present.  I'm not the first to say that, but I believe it's true.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE giving and getting presents - the fun of finding just the right thing, the anticipation that they are going to love what I picked out.  However, at the end of the day, what I remember most is time spent with loved ones. Maybe it's a walk, a game of cards, time on the patio..those are the memories that endure, much longer than the "stuff" that went with them.  Who's presence are you craving? Can you make it happen in this new year?

6. The Christmas Tree is what makes it for me.  Having that puppy glowing in the corner makes it feel like home.  Each ornament I unwrap and place on it takes me on a trip down memory lane. Some are from my parents, some from grandparents and great-grandparents, some from travels both local and abroad.  What decoration makes it feel like the holidays for you? If not a decoration, what?  

7. Traditions are awesome.  When we travelled overseas to Italy, the thing that struck me the most was the age of everything.  That rock? Yeah, it's from the Etruscans.  Before the Romans. Whoa.  You can feel the weight of history upon you.  In a good way.  You feel connected the to past, and traditions in the present do the same thing for me.  My Grandmama was from the deep south.  Black-eyed peas were a New Year's religion.  Eat them and you won't starve in the coming year.  Cornbread? It better be in a black, cast-iron pan.  We eat these things and think of her, think of where we came from.  Is there a certain tradition that makes you feel connected?

8. More blankets beat the heater any day of the week.   A blast of hot air from the heater never felt as good as a pile of blankets.  If the heater kicking on and off is waking you up and drying out your skin, give this a try. Turn the heat down to 62 and pile on a few extra blankets.  That big heavy pile of blankets might even make you feel calmer in the morning.  

9. The playlist makes the mood.  If you've got some heavy duty cleaning, wrapping, or cooking to do, the playlist is where it's at.  I dig high energy for cleaning, Cheesy Christmas for wrapping, classical for thinking and some trip-hop for the in-between tasks.  We all intuitively know music makes things better, but science proved it.  What sounds make you move, groove or chill? 

10.  Scents make sense.  Smell has been proven to be a strong link to memory.  I don't know about you, but the smell of cloves takes me right home to winter in Lockeford.  The woodburning stove was going, the pot of water on top spiked with clove and cinnamon.  To this day that smell means winter and Christmas to me.  Add to that pine scented candles and I'm as cozy as a bug in a rug.**  What smell takes you home?

11. Fire makes it all good.  Maybe it's candles, maybe a Duraflame, or maybe a full on rip-roaring fire.  I think we can all agree that fire makes things cozier.  I'm made fun of for my tea-light addiction and we've been rocking the Duraflames every few nights, so maybe I'm biased.  But tell me, have you lit any candles this season?  Scented or otherwise? Did you feel warmer? Cozier? Calmer? The Danes even have a word for this: hygge and they are some of the happiest people in the world. 

12. I love/hate sending Christmas cards.  You know, this whole writing thing is actually a pain in the arse, or hand, more accurately. BUT, it's beautiful.  You get to pause and think fondly of the person your writing to.  I'm sure Michelangelo's neck hurt while he was painting the Sistine Chapel, and I'm also sure that he was stoked with the results.  So, if you're down, I'd recommend sending out the holiday cards of your choosing (Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year's, etc.) because taking a moment as we write to pause and appreciate our friends can never be a bad thing, and it might even make you smarter.  

Well? Anything else? What made you feel good during the holiday season?  What lessons did you learn? Tag it with #thesimplifiedlife on Instagram or Twitter if you've got a photo to share.  And speaking of sharing, send this on to friends if you dig it.  <3

 

 

*Yes, that's an affiliate link.  You get $20 off and so do I. 

**Yes, I'm a bit of a hypocrite.  I aim for unscented, toxin free everything the rest of the year, but those pine scented candles get me every time.  If you know of an all natural one, please send me a link.