On a recent trip to Walt Disney World, we had a chance to stay at Disney’s Port Orleans – Riverside resort. I’ve stayed at this resort before but its been years since the last time. Being from Louisiana originally, this resort reminds me of home so I was happy to book a room here. This was also the first time that I’ve used the Disney App/Online check in for any Disney resort which was a bit of a lesson as well.
First of all, the grounds, landscaping, bridges, and lush wooded areas make for a lovely, peaceful walk to your room as you stroll along the Sassagoula River. The buildings are designed to resemble stately mansions and backwoods cottages from Louisiana. This resort has a natural appeal and a calming ambiance. Keep in mind that this resort is BIG so you may want to ask directions before dragging your luggage across this resort (you can always have your bags delivered to your room as well).
The main lobby area includes check in, Fulton’s General Store (gift shop), Boatwright’s Dining Hall (table service restaurant), Riverside Mill (food court), River Roost (lounge), and the Medicine Show Arcade.
As you cross over the river, you land on ‘Ol Man Island, which includes the main swimming pool at Riverside, Muddy Rivers poolside bar, Fishing Hole, playground, and Campfire on de Bayou. This island is surrounded by the river, and like Magic Kingdom, provides the hub/spoke design to the hotel villages, Magnolia Bend and Alligator Bayou, and the Lobby.
Our room was a standard room (2 queen beds) in the Magnolia Bend section. The room was clean and provided all that we needed for our stay. It was also towards the back of the resort, which allowed for a quiet night, and not far from the bus stop which was very convenient for us. The beds were comfortable but the pillows were heavenly ( I love a good pillow).
By the way, have you ever wanted to bring your dog to Disney? Well you can at this resort which offers pet friendly rooms. Disney also has Best Friends Pet Care very nearby that can help with doggie daycare needs while you are at the park. For more information, please call Disney reservations.
There are five pools at this resort and we tried two of them. The main pool is kiddie central with a water slide and fountains, etc. There is also a hot tub and it is located next to Muddy Rivers poolside bar. This pool offers a daily pool party, evening campfire nearby, and movie screening on select nights. The five other pools are located throughout the resort with 3 in Alligator Bayou and 2 in Magnolia Bend. All provide complimentary towels which is always a plus and one less thing to pack!
There are a variety of recreational activities at this resort from Horse Drawn carriage rides to fishing and bike riding. Carriage rides can be made in advance by calling the Disney reservations line. I highly recommend this activity. This is a wonderful, romantic option especially for you and your loved one.
One disappointing feature at this resort was the check in and food. I used the online check in once we left the park at 3:00 ( which I thought was check in time) only to find out that our room was not ready. I was told that housekeeping has between 3:00 and 5:00 to get the room ready for us. It ended up being 4;30 before we were able to finally access our room.
During that time, we decided to get a late lunch at the food court. Considering this is a Louisiana themed resort, I thought there would be more options for Louisiana cuisine but there were few to be found. The food court offered standard pizza, burgers, pasta, desserts, with 2 options for Cajun food. Those included the Jambalaya and Pimento BLT, which I ordered. This sandwich was not good and I do not recommend it. There was little pimento cheese and the bacon was cold and looked like it had just been pulled from the refrigerator after 3 days. Not something I would recommend. I then tried to fill up my water bottle only to find that all 4 water fountains did not work. I brought this to the attention of one of the cast members but we left before it got fixed.
Breakfast was not much better and we learned that was the last day that Port Orleans was offering Mickey Waffles! Even the cast member was not excited about this change and its one I do NOT understand. Why would they get rid of this fan favorite? I hope they reconsider this decision. We did not dine at Boatwright’s during our stay but I would imagine this would be the wiser choice if you are looking for authentic Louisiana cuisine.
Overall, I recommend this resort as a comfortable location with beautiful surroundings and fun recreational activities. Hopefully the food court will up its game with better offerings very soon.
See ya real soon Port Orleans and maybe next time, with my dog!
They made it! The end of school has arrived and the boys are ready for summer. It was a tough year but they persevered. Even though they are teenagers now, I still had to show some appreciation for getting through 7th and 10th. We don’t go to the toy store anymore to pick out a toy on the last day of school but I knew I couldn’t go wrong with food. Specifically, ice cream!
I bought a gallon of 1/2 vanilla and 1/2 chocolate (something for everyone) and all the toppings.
As you can see, they enjoyed their end of school treat.
Hola amigos! Happy Cinco de Mayo. How are you celebrating today?
In case you didn’t know why Cinco de Mayo is celebrated, let me share a little history with you.
Cinco de Mayo commemorates Mexico’s unexpected victory over France in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. It is NOT Mexican Independence Day which is Sept 16th. The conflict between the two countries had begun in 1861, after Benito Juárez, then the president of Mexico, suspended the nation’s foreign debt payments, and Napoleon III responded by sending French troops to invade.
The victory in Puebla galvanized the Mexican forces but turned out to be short-lived, and France later occupied the country, installing Maximilian I as emperor. Not until 1867 did the new Mexican Republic finally expel the French, execute Maximilian I and regain control of the country.
Within Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is primarily observed in the state of Puebla, where Zaragoza’s unlikely victory occurred, although other parts of the country also take part in the celebration.
Our Cinco de Mayo Dinner
I set everything up on the island in the kitchen. I added festive place mats and my Happy Everything platter for serving. We enjoyed chips, soft tacos (mine were veggie), churros with chocolate sauce, and margaritas with a special mix that we wanted to try. Alexa was playing some Mariachi music as an added festive addition to our celebration.
To make the Churro’s:
1 cup water
8 tablespoons butter
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon divided
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups vegetable or canola oil
½ cup sugar
Combine water, butter, salt, and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon in 1 ½-quart saucepan over medium heat. Bring pot to rolling boil. Reduce heat to low.
Add flour and stir until mix forms a ball. Remove from heat and let rest for 5-7 min. Add eggs, one at a time and stir until combined. Set aside.
Heat oil in medium skillet or 1-quart saucepan over medium-high heat or until temperature reaches 350˚F.
Spoon dough into piping bag fitted with large star tip (I did not have one so I rolled the dough into strips). Pipe 1-inch strip of dough over saucepan, cut with knife, and drop into hot oil. Repeat until churro bites fill saucepan with room to fry.
Fry churro bites until golden brown. Remove with slotted spoon or mesh spider strainer and drain churro bites on paper towel.
Mix sugar and ½ teaspoon cinnamon in medium bowl. Toss in churro bites until coated. Place on serving plate and serve with favorite dipping sauce.
To make the Margarita’s:
The Resident Chef’s Margarita mix
Mix 1 cup of the mix with 2 cups of Tequila.
Add 6 cups of water.
Add the juice of 1 lime.
Place in the freezer until slushy or serve over ice.
In celebration of this day, i decided to make a special, Star Wars themed dinner. On the menu: Chewbacca Chicken, Boba Fettuccine, Jedi Juice, and Cookie cake.
As for the theming, I raided my son’s room and pulled out a few Star Wars themed items for the table.
The Wookie Chicken was fried chicken with panko breading. I fried some bacon and which i wrapped around the chicken to resemble Chewbaccas’s belt. The Boba Fettuccine was a simple alfredo sauce with lemon.
I picked up green apple sodas (Jedi Juice which resembled the color of a Jedi light saber) and a Cookie Cake from Publix.
This was a quick and easy meal to put together but the Star Wars theme made it out of this world special. My crew like it. May the 4th Be With You!
Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival is in full bloom through July 4th! I went a few weeks ago to sip, savor, and see the tasty food and beautiful flower arrangements.
This is one of my favorite festivals at Walt Disney World, probably because I enjoy gardening in my own yard so much.
Come with me as I show you some of the beautiful garden and flower displays and wonderfully, tasty food they have to offer here.
Loved the topiaries of Peter Pan, Captain Hook, and Tinkerbell. And of course you have to smile when you see these three classic characters Piglet, Tigger, and Eeyore.
I couldn’t skip a topiary in honor of my favorite Disney movie, Beauty and the Beast. Lovely!
Buon Giorno, Lady and the Tramp. I think Tramp is looking at me and smiling for the picture.
Such a serene spot. I couldn’t help but stand on this bridge and just listen to and enjoy the flowing water. Of course afterwards, I couldn’t leave without trying the Frushi and pineapple sake.
Germany brought Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as well as Kermit and Miss Piggy. I also stopped by Bauernmarkt for a cheese strudel with mixed berries. Yum!
Did someone spot a troll?
Loved seeing these amigos, The Three Caballeros.
So glad I stopped here. I tried the Lavendar honey mustard chicken flatbread with veggies, whipped ricotta, and goat cheese. This was very tasty. But the best item on any menu was the Local Wildflower Honey Mascarpone Cheesecake. This was excellent and I would absolutely try this one again.
In addition to food and flowers, there is live entertainment. It was an absolutely incredible spring day and I can’t wait to visit the festival again soon!
My family and I recently took a quick trip to Key West. I had not been there since I was in college (a loooong time ago) so I was happy to go back and explore the island again.
For any of you not familiar with Key West, it is the southernmost island in the Florida keys. Key West is about a 2.5 hour drive from Miami and about 90 miles from Cuba.
Something that you will see almost immediately upon arriving to Key West is the fact there there are lots of free roaming chickens and roosters on the island. There is a unique history about how and why they are so plentiful here but I enjoyed seeing them strut their stuff around town.
This tiny island has a vast history and is definitely worth a visit. Check out some of our stops below.
Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory:
I LOVED this place! An absolute must see in my opinion. The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory allows guests to walk through a live butterfly solarium filled with a variety of flowers, trees, water features, turtle, flamingos, and of course BUTTERFLIES! They are everywhere and it feels like paradise in there; like another world. To see these colorful creatures flying around, literally everywhere, and even landing on your shoulder is amazing. I could have stayed in there all day.
Ernest Hemingway House:
Another must see when in Key West is the Hemingway House. Ernest shared this lovely house with his wife Pauline during the 10 years he called Key West home. It is located at 907 Whitehead St, Key West. The property was purchased in 1931 and it has been said that Ernest produced some of his best work while living in Key West. Two interesting facts about this house are:
1. It is the only pool in Key West and a rather large one for that matter. Pauline insisted that she have a pool and had it installed while Ernest was out of town. It was very expensive and he was not happy about the cost of it once he returned from his trip. However, he soon got over it and enjoyed swims from time to time.
2. The grounds have upwards of 50 poly-dactyl cats roaming the property, all offspring from Ernest’s cat, Snow White.
When visiting the house, you can opt to walk through at your own pace or take the guided tour. I recommend the tour. You will learn a lot about the house and the man who lived in it. Note: This is a cash only location; no debit or credit cards taken here.
Can you go to Key West and not take a boat ride? I think not. There are a variety of scuba diving, snorkeling, sunset cruises, etc. to choose from. We chose the Rise and Reef snorkeling package which included a snorkeling trip to Lighthouse Key along with a light breakfast and beer/mimosa’s afterwards. There are two to choose from during the day: morning and afternoon. Check out Key West Water Activities for more information about the many water sports/boat ride options available.
Key West Lighthouse:
Want some exercise? Try climbing to the top of the Key West lighthouse. Located at 938 Whitehead St (across the street from Ernest’s house), you can climb the 88 iron steps to the top of the tower for a scenic overlook of the island and its surrounding waters. You can also tour the Keeper’s Quarters which have been restored to their original charm and view the displays of nautical artifacts, antique furnishings, maps and vintage photos. Definitely worth a stop along your tour.
If you want to get a good overview of what the island has to offer and its unique history, then take a ride on the Conch Train. This train makes multiple stops and runs throughout the day taking visitors past some of the most iconic, and not so iconic, sites on the island. The 75 minute train ride begins at the Front Street Depot and ends right behind it in Mallory Square.
Duval Street and Beaches:
After all of the touring, it’s time to relax. Take some time to relax at one of the beautiful beaches on the island (we chose Higgs Beach) and then enjoy the nightlife along Duval Street. Duval street is the place to be for shopping, dining, and live music. I recommend historic Sloppy Joe’s Bar, a historic hangout frequented by Ernest himself.
This marks the, as it states, Southernmost Point in the continental US. It’s actually just a monument marking the spot and is jammed between a private beach and some houses/hotels. There is a long line next to the monument just for pictures, which we did not stand in. To be honest, this is a quick 10 minute stop to basically take a picture and say you’ve been there.
In July, my husband and I took a trip to Athens and Santorini. This was a bucket list trip for me and also a last minute one, as we traveled to Greece right after Covid restrictions had been lifted for tourists.
In this article, I will highlight our trip experience and provide some helpful tips for planning your next vacation to Athens and Santorini. (Please check the Covid restrictions prior to visiting as they have likely changed from our trip in July.)
We flew into Athens and had reservations to stay at the Athens Gate Hotel, very near the Plaka. Our hotel was within walking distance to the Acropolis with spectacular rooftop views of the Parthenon. For those of you not familiar with the Plaka, it a vibrant, neighborhood at the base of the Acropolis with many restaurants, shops, and coffee bars. This is the place to be at night! Everyone was out, grabbing a drink or having dinner at one of the many tavernas in the area. We thoroughly enjoyed staying so close to the area. It was easy to grab a coffee, lunch, do some shopping, and just hang out and relax at night. It was also the central meeting location for our tour of the Acropolis and the museum.
We booked a tour with an experienced guide who provided highlights of Greek history and mythology for our tour of the Acropolis, the Parthenon, and the museum. Note: Bring lots of water and good walking shoes! It was very hot in July and standing on top of that rock, in the sun and heat, was not easy.
Following our tour of the Acropolis, we explored the museum located a short walk away. This museum houses artifacts recovered from the plethora of history in the surrounding area. This should definitely be a stop on your Athens journey.
After lunch, we decided to explore the area further. Other stops during our trek included the Mitropoleos Church, Areopagus Hill, and Hadrian’s Gate. These sites are all within walking distance of the Acropolis.
Our evening ended with dinner in the Plaka at a restaurant, complete with outdoor seating, white lights in trees, and excellent food and drink. It is nice to sit and watch the activity on the street and pet the random street cat who quietly appears at your feet.
Tips for exploring Athens:
Brush up on your Greek history before your trip. You will want to have some working knowledge of what you are looking at and why it’s important.
Stay in a hotel near the Plaka. There is so much to do and see in this area that it’s worth the extra money. Try to get a hotel with a rooftop restaurant/bar for the beautiful, panoramic views.
If you are in Athens in the summer, schedule your tour of the Acropolis during the morning or early afternoon to beat the heat.
Try the Greek coffee and the Ouzo.
Athenians eat outside. It does not matter that it’s hot. You will end up eating outside. Period.
There are lots of alley cats, even walking around the outdoor seating areas of the restaurants. (I loved it. They seemed very happy and content.)
Exploring outside of Athens is a must do as there is just as much to see outside of the city center as in it. There are numerous 1/2 day or full day tours available that you can book through your hotel. Our choice: Delphi and the Temple of Apollo. This was a full day trip and 3 hour ride from Athens. Our guide, who had been an archeologist at Delphi, was a wealth of information and his knowledge of Greek history, and Delphi in particular, was impressive. Delphi is actually located in a very mountainous area of Greece (did you know Greece was the 3rd most mountainous country in Europe?). The tour included access to the Temple of Apollo and ancient sites as well as the museum. Our tour concluded with a lovely lunch at a local resort in the mountains, complete with ocean view.
Tips for exploring Delphi:
If you do go on a tour that includes lunch, please note that a lot of Greeks eat later in the day. I was starving by the time we actually ate lunch so pack a snack and some water if you eat at noon or before.
Pick a tour away from the city. The Greek countryside is beautiful and I enjoyed the ride to our destination.
Our next stop in Greece was the picturesque island of Santorini.
A big decision is how to get from the Greek mainland (Port of Piraeus) to Santorini, or any Greek island for that matter. You can fly, take the ferry, or take the hydrofoil. What is a hydrofoil? The best way that I can describe it is that is resembles a VERY large catamaran with many seats inside and it goes fast. It is meant to be the fastest water transport to the Greek islands. The ferry could take around 6-8 hours whereas the hyrdrofoil takes about 4. Keep in mind that the ferry/hydrofoil option is cheaper than flying but it does take up 1/2 a day of your trip. We chose to take the hydrofoil and it was very comfortable but in hind site, I think we would have opted to fly to save time. We did hit some waves along the way so if you get seasick, you will feel it on the hydrofoil.
You may or may not realize when you are in Santorini that you are perched on top of a volcano. The island of Santorini, and those surrounding it, are part of the Cyclades islands chain. Santorini was formed during a 1650 BC volcanic eruption which devastated the islands and but left the crescent moon shaped Santorini in its wake. This eruption resulted in a submerged caldera which is the only one in the world. The island itself is made up of black volcanic rock with stunning sunsets and beautiful, black sand beaches.
All ferries arrive in the tiny port at Santorini and there are plenty of buses taking visitors up the very steep side of the island to the towns scattered throughout the island. The two main cities are Oia and Thira (aka Fira). We stayed in Fira at the Aressana Hotel and Suites on the south end of Fira. This is a beautiful hotel located close to shops, restaurants, and of course, scenic overlooks. The staff are very helpful, and the food, delicious. Every detail here was perfected, (they even packed us a brown bag breakfast for our ride to the airport) and I highly recommend this hotel for your stay in Santorini.
We spent our arrival day walking through the town of Fira, enjoying the shops, admiring the stunning views, relaxing by the pool, and enjoying dinner with a front row seat to the “sunset show”. Watching the sunset is a must when you are here. Grab a drink or dinner at one of the many restaurants to enjoy the sun slowly setting beyond the horizon.
Watching the sunset is the show. It’s beautiful here and not to be missed.
This island is very popular for honeymooners so be prepared.
Splurge on the hotel and get the upgrade. You want to be near the main towns for easy access to shops and restaurants at night. Parking is almost non-existent if you are driving over from another spot on the island.
The next day we booked a half day sail which included a hike to the top of Nea Kameni, a swim in the hot springs, and lunch on the island of Therasia. This was a busy day and a packed boat. Our trip started with the hike to the top of Nea Kameni which was a bit unnerving as it is still an active volcano. There was a hiking trail to the top and the hike itself was not overly strenuous. I was glad that I brought hiking shoes that could stand up to the hike itself and not rely on flip flops, as some others had.
After that hike, we boarded the boat and headed to a tiny, uninhabited islet known for its hot springs. The water itself is warm and made up of sulfur giving it a reddish tint. Many believe that these springs have healing benefits. To jump into the silky, blue Aegean water one minute and swim 50 yards only to be enveloped by the hot springs was refreshing, yet unique. I wanted to stay longer but the boat was leaving soon for our next stop.
Therasia is another island, like Santorini, formed by the volcano caldera. The town sits at the top of the rather steep climb and was just too much for most folks who had already hiked Nea Kameni. We opted to stay by the tiny seaside port and have lunch on the water. What a picturesque spot! This is exactly what you think of when you imagine a Greek fishing village with the colorful, wooden boats and turquoise water. After lunch, we sat by the water, enjoyed our ice cream, and took in the scenery.
The ride back to port took us past the towns of Oia and Fira and offered views of these quintessential Greek towns from a different perspective… looking up from the water. Such a beautiful site to see the whitewashed buildings and blue domed churches.
When booking a volcano boat tour, be aware that some of the finer details may be left out. We were only told that we would visit the volcano, optional swim to the hot spring, then to Therasia. My advice is to pack a bag with hiking shoes/sandals and a set of dry clothes to change into after your swim. There were some hiking to the top of the volcano in flip flops (not ideal). Keep in mind, you will have to wait your turn to change out of your swimsuit on the boat as it was crowded.
Pack water and a snack. Drinks were sold on the boat but it was a bit pricey.
Sunscreen! You may be sitting in the sun on the top deck of the boat and you will get lots of sun exposure.
Wear a hat
Try the local specialty for lunch
The mode of transport in Santorini is not a rental car. Don’t even bother. Like everyone else, rent the vespa or four-wheeler. The island is small enough to be able to enjoy the sites that you want to see, while still having fun on a scooter. Our next day plans consisted of a ride to Oia to enjoy the sites and shops there, then a wine tasting at Santo Wines, a stop at the beach, and a relaxing dinner at our hotel that evening. Oia was very crowded and parking, even for a four wheeler, was scarce.
After Oia, we headed to a wine tasting at Santo Wines which is located just south of Fira. We sat outside, overlooking the beautiful water and enjoyed sampling six, local wines along with a cheese plate and dessert. I could have stayed all day but Perissa beach was calling my name.
Santo Wines: Book the tasting in advance and get the cheese plate. Sit outside and overlook that gorgeous view. You can buy bottles here and have them shipped home.
Make sure that your scooter or four wheeler is gassed up. There were no places to get gas in Oia on our route and we thought we were about to run out.
Oia is crowded and the streets, narrow. Plan accordingly.
The “peanuts” are actually roasted chickpeas. Pick up a bag and try a few different flavors. Delish!
The beaches at Santorini usually consist of black “sand” given the island’s volcanic history. There is a red sand beach as well which we did not visit. While I do like to relax at the beach, I am one to get in the water and enjoy a swim and the Aegean water felt like silk to me. I stayed in it for an hour. It was surprising, given how hot Santorini is, that the water was so cool and refreshing. I didn’t want to leave.
Black sand beaches are HOT on the feet. You can either do a dance all the way across the sand to the water or wear a pair of flip flops to keep on the sand to wear when you get out. Protect your feet.
Enjoy some time by the pool in the morning. Poolsides are more crowded in the middle of the day.
If you are interested in more Archeological sites while in Santorini, check out Akrotiri on the southside of the island. This buried city (Greece’s Pompei) was buried during the volcanic eruption.
That evening, our last, was capped off with a massage and a romantic dinner at our hotel.
Our trip to Greece was all that I had imagined it to be. I am happy that we chose the tour and itinerary that we did and hope to go back one day to enjoy more of this beautiful country.
When I think of February, I can’t help but think of hearts. Candy hearts, chocolate hearts, my own heart and the hearts of loved ones. And with Valentine’s Day just a week away, I thought we could check out some very fun ideas to help celebrate. Remember, you don’t need to be in a romantic relationship to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Celebrate with anyone that you love, including your kids, your family, your friends, your pet, and yes… YOU. What better day to include a little self care as an act of love. True love starts with loving yourself first.
Valentine’s Day Ideas
Gifts for Teens I have 2 teenage boys and the buying of cute books about love and stuffed animals are definitely over. So, how can we show them some love in a cool, and teen approved way? Here are some ideas.
T-shirts: My boys go through clothes pretty quickly these days and I am constantly in need of buying new ones. T-shirts are an easy go-to in our house. This year, I picked up several tees at Target that I thought they would like.
Water bottles: How many times has your son gone to sports practice and forgot his water bottle or left it there? This is always something they can use. We like this Pogo Sport 32 oz Tritan Straw (and it’s BPA free).
New Board Games: I was going through my son’s closet the other day pulling out old clothes and toys and I noticed that some of the board games from elementary school. We loved playing these games and there are good memories associated with them but it’s time to upgrade to games that they will actually want to play with mom NOW. Here are a few suggestions:
Speed Charades – A fun twist on a family favorite. Players compete head-to-head in a race to act out words for their teams to guess. Starting at the same time, the first team to guess 4 of the 5 words on their card wins the round and scores a point. The team with the most points after ten rounds wins!
Kids Against Maturity– Who’s the funniest? This instant classic was made and played by parents like you. With age-appropriate toilet humor and funny innuendos for the adults, it can be enjoyed by all ages.
It’s in the Bag– Party Game Will Have You Laughing Hysterically – Like Charades on Steroids for Family and Adults – Easy to Learn Team Game for Groups
Sweet Treats: I still give my kids some sweet treats and small buckets of candy. I try to add in some of their favorites along with their card. Anything gummy or chocolate-y are usually included.
American Heart Health Month
Since we are talking hearts this month, let’s not forget to give our actual heart some love and care. February is American Heart Health Month. Sign up through the American Heart Association to get the latest in heart health and prevention information, invitations to hear experts speak, and healthy living tips.
I love watching the Olympics and I’m excited to see the events in skiing, ice skating, and snowboarding. My husband and I end up watching every night and there are some events that we would otherwise never get to see. Curling, anyone? It’s amazing what these athletes can do. We only see some of them for a short time on TV, competing in their event. What we don’t see is the years of hard work it took to get here. Good luck to all of the Athletes and Go Team USA!
Book:Good Morning, I Love You. “Discovering the transformative effects of being kind to yourself.” I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I have been looking for a book that explains mindfulness in practical terms and this book does just that. Dr Shapiro’s approach to mindfulness, kindness, and self-compassion is down to earth, easy to understand, and provides hope. Our brains are not hard wired as some may think. With this roadmap, and of course, practice, we can change our brain circuitry for better calm, happiness, and joy. I highly recommend this one.
Outfit: Love this outfit that I found at Loft. Who doesn’t love a good jean jacket? I love the pink pants and navy stripes.
The start of the new year is tomorrow. It goes without saying that most people want to go into the new year making resolutions for self-improvement. They want to lose weight, get healthier, workout more, be kinder, focus more on work, etc, etc… Yet, it has been proven that 80% of new years resolutions fail. Why?
The start of a new year, new month, new week, new day always presents itself as a blank page for beginning again. An opportunity to do better and to be better. A clean slate (yes, I said it : ). The mentality of begin able to start again is hopeful to all of us. it’s an opportunity to make the most of but I believe there are better ways to do it than to make a slew of resolutions that we may not be able to keep. Here are a few ideas:
Make quarterly goals. There are 365 days in 2022. No need to get all of our changes done in January, right? Most people tend to make a list of resolutions (3 or 4) and begin implementing on Jan 1. It goes without saying that making too many changes at once will likely fail. Remember, it takes time to make lasting change and starting everything at once is too much for our brains and our bodies to handle all at once. Why not make quarterly goals? Resolution # 1 is set for Jan – Mar. Resolution #2, Apr – Jun and so on. Focusing on one goal at a time will be easier to achieve and allow you to focus your energies on maintaining that change. During that 3 months, you may need to adjust but at least you are only working on one thing now. Focus on it. Perfect it. Then move on to the next.
Rather than focusing on resolutions of things “to do”, make intentions for 2022. How do you want to be? Do a really thorough self-assessment. What were your triumphs and what were your challenges? We are all human so we’ve all made mistakes. Be kind to yourself but know what your values are. Making resolutions based on values and how you want to “be” is stronger than making them based on how to want to look or what you want to do?
Is there an inspirational person or a role model that you look up to? What traits do you admire about that person? What did they do? It’s good to have someone that you admire that provides inspiration but don’t forget, only you can be you. Each person is unique and comes with his or her own set of gifts and challenges.
Make a vision board. I don’t know about you but I am a visual person. I need to see something to understand it, most of the time. Vision boards are a great way to visually represent what it is your want to accomplish. Take some time to cut out pictures, phrases, projects, people, places, and anything that inspires you. It’s your clean slate to design where you want to be this time next year or in years to come.
Choose your word for the year. I really like this trend. I’ve noticed many people choosing a word for the year that represents what they want more of in their life. I couldn’t choose just one so I have two: Calm and Mindfulness. These are things I need to work on this year. I’ve done lots of learning about mindfulness but when things get chaotic, I struggle with this one. What’s nice about choosing your word for the year is that you can also carry it with you. There are so many bracelets, necklaces, keychains, other products in which you can wear or carry with you your word that you have chosen. In times of doubt and struggle, you can know that it’s with you and refocus your mindset.
I hope that these ideas will not only help you to plan for the upcoming year but also maintain progress towards your goals and intentions. I wish each of you a very Happy New Year!
I don’t think it would be Christmas without at least one night of hot chocolate, popcorn, and a Christmas movie. And even though my kids are getting older, this is still one tradition not to be missed.
Here are a few of our favorites and some inspirational Christmas movies as well:
Polar Express – Has anyone not seen this one? A classic, and the music is wonderful too. Don’t forget the “hot chocolate” when watching this one.
Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas – The first one is good but we like the second one better. Mickey and friends find the meaning of Christmas.
A Christmas Story – Don’t worry about shooting your eye out watching this one. Funny and nostalgic.
Holiday in the Wild – This is one that I usually watch by myself or with my husband. A lovely, inspirational movie about a newly single woman who reinvents herself and finds her passion helping elephants in Africa.
Miracle on 34th Street – My all-time favorite Christmas movie. I watch it every year and it never gets old.
Love Actually – Multiple story lines but ending with the message of friendship and love.
The Nativity Story – The reason for the season. A beautiful movie about the days leading up to the birth of Jesus.
Daddy’s Home 2 – Hysterical and one that often gets left off of the holiday movie list and I have no idea why. Add this one to your list this season and get ready for some serious laughs!
The Star – A sweet and inspirational movie about the birth of baby Jesus. I remember taking my kids to the movie to see this one. Stellar cast and some big stars in this one too.