Tag Archives: grow

Get a Balanced Life Month

Get a Balanced Life Month

It’s Get a Balanced Life Month, and we have tips to help you balance your life between work and personal this week.

First, decide what a balanced life means for you. A balanced life doesn’t have to mean you spend as much time on work as personal activities if that’s not where your priorities are at this moment. It’s important to adjust with your life changes.

You don’t have to stick to a 9 to 5 work schedule if it’s not right for you. If checking your email late at night to make the morning easier helps, embrace it. If work is a priority, don’t apologize for treating it like one.

Checking Work Email on Your Time

 

Create boundaries to enforce what matters to you. If you can’t take a work phone call while helping your kids with homework in the evening, call back when it works for you.

Set Your Life's Boundaries

 

Don’t feel bad when you have to say no. Saying no can be necessary for balance. If you have the flu, you can miss that work meeting.

Learning to Say No

 

Be realistic. Don’t overbook your time trying to be a superhero. If you know you won’t have time to bake treats from scratch for the bake sale, don’t tell someone you can.

Be Realistic with Your Time

 

Set priorities and let them grow with you. When you’re young, keeping a tidy home with nice things can be like having a sanctuary. But once you have kids, don’t let a little chaos in your home, like toys in the living room, ruin your balance.

Setting Priorities throughout Life

 

Keep a journal. Journaling helps you understand what’s taking up your time and helps you evaluate what’s working and what isn’t. Write down what you spend time on each day, from the gym to work meetings.

Journaling Your Way to Success

Fun Ahead

Social Wellness Month

July is Social Wellness Month, which calls for you to nurture yourself and your relationships through social support.

People with a strong social network tend to live longer, and their heart and blood pressure respond to stress better.

Come Together

 

Strong social networks are associated with better heart and immune system function.

Your Health and Social Support

 

Be aware of commitments and following through to make sure you make commitments you can stand by.

Follow Through for Friends

 

Break the cycle of blame and criticism to own your role in your relationships.

Own Your Role

 

Focus on resolving conflict and fixing your personal flaws instead of trying to fix others.

Focus on Change for You

 

Show your appreciation through words and actions to build healthy relationships.

Sharing Your Appreciation

 

Grow your social network by volunteering or by joining a gym, club or group for a hobby.

Save

Defeating Juvenile Arthritis

Juvenile Arthritis

July is Juvenile Arthritis Month, and nearly 300,000 kids in the U.S. suffer from a form of it.

1

 

Many parents write off kids’ swollen joints, fevers, or rashes as other issues. But these are actually common signs of arthritis.

2

 

Arthritis in kids can take on an autoimmune form, which can hurt their ability to fight normal diseases and grow.

3

 

Autoimmune forms of arthritis cause kids’ immune systems to attack their own joints, causing swelling, stiffness, and permanent damage.

4

 

The autoimmune forms of arthritis in kids can also have serious effects if untreated, including loss of mobility, blindness, and death.

5

 

Arthritis takes a toll on people of all ages, and can hurt a normal childhood. Read some kids’ stories and learn about the cause.

6

 

You can make a difference! Make a donation to research or buy gear that supports and promotes awareness of kids’ arthritis.

Save

Enjoying Organic Healthy Greens

Organic 101

You’ve probably noticed in your grocery store that there’s a whole display of fruits and veggies (that usually cost more) labeled organic.

Lots of people just assume that it means they’re all-natural, but everything in the produce section was grown instead of manufactured, so isn’t all of it all-natural?

When something is labeled organic, it actually means that it was grown in a certain way. Organic foods are grown without the use of:

  • Pesticides, which stop weeds and bugs from hurting a crop and are usually made with chemicals
  • Fertilizers, which make the land better for growing crops and are usually made with a town’s sewage, animal manure, or man-made ingredients, like chemicals
  • Bioengineering, when scientists change things about a crop in its DNA or genes to make it grow better
  • Ionizing radiation, when produce is radiated to preserve it, reduce the risk of illness, prevent bugs,  or slow down sprouting or ripening

Before a product can be labeled organic, someone from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) checks the farm and any companies that handle or process the food before you get it to make sure they’re meeting organic standards. This means that when you buy organic, it’s guaranteed to be organic.

However, when you buy organic, you’re also paying more because farmers who don’t use things like pesticides, fertilizers, and bioengineering usually get smaller crops from their land than other farmers. Those things were invented to help farmers grow as much food as possible, and when organic farmers don’t use them, it makes their jobs harder.

Each year, a company called the Environmental Working Group (EWG) puts out lists of which fruits and veggies have the potential to have the most pesticides on them and which don’t.

The Clean Fifteen are the fruits and veggies with little to no pesticides on them when you buy them at the store. The Dirty Dozen have the potential to have the most pesticides on them. Plus, they’re mostly things you either eat the peel of or don’t peel at all.

Whether you buy organic or non-organic produce, it’s important to get fruits and veggies in your diet. Just be sure to clean your produce properly before you eat it.

Clean Fifteen

Dirty Dozen

Up Next:

Why should you shop at farmers markets? One great reason is local food!

And make sure you keep your food safe at every stage by practicing safe food prep.

Save

Me Time Crafting

My Healthy Journey: Me Time

I feel like I have spent the last month drastically overhauling my physical life. And I have. But now, I’m ready to focus on making me time and self-care.

While I’m giving you advice on how to succeed at Rally challenges, I’m kind of doing them all at the same time. For the first time since high school, I’m exercising every day. And for the first time ever, I have radically overhauled my diet. Like I’ve said the past few weeks, I’ve been cooking at home every day and am eating more whole grains, fruits, and veggies, and I’ve cut out caffeine, processed foods and sugars.

So although there are still plenty of food mission posts to come, so you can use my new experiences to help you succeed, in my head, these are a little bit like old news. Been there, conquered that.

But as you can probably guess, now that I’ve settled into a rhythm, this isn’t actually what I spend all day thinking about. As a matter of fact, not focusing on this stuff is exactly how I got so unhealthy.

Now that healthy eating is more of a habit for me, though, I’d like to talk about something that feels more like real life to me. You know, the stuff that occupies my mind all day.

If you’ve been following along with me (from my writing to going all out for Halloween), you probably know that I like being creative. This job definitely requires a degree of creativity. I spend most days writing, picking out photos, and cruising Pinterest, which means that when I go home and crash into bed to watch Netflix with my dog, I don’t really feel guilty.

But I have spent my life going through creative phases. I like to learn new things, and I like to make things, which has made my life a long line of creative experiments. Over the years, I’ve mastered soap making, candle making, jewelry making, origami, juggling, the yo-yo, theater makeup, knitting, and crocheting, to name a few. And not only do these random projects (sometimes) leave me with nice, new stuff, creativity has many benefits.

I find that creative activities relax me. They let me disengage from the stress of my work and social life and just do something I enjoy. They also make me feel accomplished. When you write a blog post, take a picture, even make a nice meal, you don’t always feel like you’ve actually added anything to the world. But even these simple creative activities can make you feel like you’ve achieved something. That plain piece of paper is a heck of a lot cooler as a swan.

And I’m not the only one. As this CNN article talks about, we stress creativity in our kids because it matters. Even as funding for the arts falls in high schools, most parents with preschoolers still know finger painting and coloring matter.

Creativity helps you believe in yourself, learn to deal with failure, continue to learn throughout your life, and even know yourself better. And the more you exercise that learning portion of your brain through fun stuff, the easier learning things for say, work, can get.

And that’s why Rally also has a mission to help you remember to do something creative. This is one of my favorite missions on Rally because that creative stuff can get really lost in the shuffle of daily life as you get older, but it really is important to make time for it once in a while.

So here are some of the projects I’ve done or am planning to do that feed my creative side. Maybe they will inspire your own creative juices.

1. Write something

As I’ve said before, you never really know what all you can get out of writing until you start. Maybe you won’t end up with a finished product you can use, but you can definitely get something creative and fulfilling out of talking to yourself through writing.

pickerimage(4)

2. Decorate something

I recently painted a shelf gold for my new(ish) apartment, which I will show you when I talk about organizing . But if you’re anything like me (or my HGTV-addicted mother), few things are as satisfying as making something beautiful or helpful that you use in your house every day. If you’re looking for some cool and affordable DIY projects (and tips) for your home, explore this list.

pickerimage(2)

3. Make some art

I have the advantage of knowing how to use some software that lets me create some pretty fun artwork for my walls, which is great because drawing isn’t always my strong point.

But you can always find a quote that you love, make it look pretty, and hang it. And sometimes, with a nice frame, your doodles can look amazing on your walls, too. Or just spend a day scrapbooking and reliving some good memories.

pickerimage(3)

4. Grow something

I’ve never really thought about myself as a plant person, but it turns out, I kind of am.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m obsessed with terrariums, and I own an orchid. I also recently bought a lavender topiary on a trip to Nashville. It smells amazing but requires regular trimming.

pickerimage(1)

But the biggest way I think I just have to expand my plant collection is by growing indoor herbs. There are loads of different kits online and plenty of advice. Fresh herbs are expensive, but they make every meal so much better! I end up throwing a lot of the ones I buy away because they go bad before I can use them all.

Home Herb Pots

Growing your own herbs means you can have a never-ending supply of the ones you use most, and they won’t go bad. I think I will go with mint, cilantro, basil, and rosemary, but you go with what you will use!

And of course, if you’re interested (and don’t live in a tiny apartment), growing a full garden can be amazing. It would be great exercise to work outdoors, and the fresh fruit, veggies, and flowers you get out of it can only add good things to your home.

5. Sew (or knit or crochet or …) something

There are tons of books out there to help you learn these sorts of things, and better yet, lots of free (or cheap) patterns all over the Internet. And nothing else I’ve ever made is as satisfying as the things I can wear. When people ask where they can buy something you made — there’s nothing better!

If you love fashion and want to learn to sew, I have the book for you: Famous Frocks by Sara Alm and Hannah McDevitt.

Famous Frocks Cover

My mom got this for me for Christmas one year, and it has patterns so you can make your own versions of some of the most famous dresses from this century. (They also have a Little Black Dress version!) It is a little pricey at about $20, but you get 20 dress patterns with it. That’s a whole new wardrobe!

Etsy is also the place to go to find cheap, wonderful patterns. For instance, I plan on making a  complete set of these cross-stitch cities from Satsuma Street for adorable nursery art the second my sister-in-law gets pregnant.

3 Pretty Little City Patterns

And there’s no place better for knitting patterns. If you like The Hunger Games movies, this pattern of Katniss’s amazing scarf from Catching Fire was just $5 and took me just 2 days to make:

pickerimage(5)

 

Creativity time is my me time. It’s when I get away from the hectic demands of my life and just make something. So the important thing is to take the time to try something new and make something you love!

Save

Keeping Your Kitchen Clean

Tips to Keep Your Kitchen Clean

Keeping Your Kitchen Clean

Most of us would like to think we do a pretty good job of keeping our kitchen clean. Basics like washing countertops, sweeping, and mopping the floor might seem like enough, but other things you might not notice can let germs and bacteria hide in your kitchen. These tips can help you keep it spotless.

Clean the Kitchen Sink and Counters

Your dirty dishes are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, and germs are easily spread to your faucet handles. Kitchen counters can also collect germs from everything that touches or passes over them.

A wet dishcloth isn’t enough, it will just move the bacteria around. Use hot water and soap or an antibacterial cleaner often.

Change Sponges and Dishcloths Every Week

These are crawling with bacteria, and can even contain E. coli.

Between uses, make sure they dry completely to stop bacteria from growing. Sponges should go in an upright holder, and dishcloths should be hung up to dry.

Wash Your Cutting Boards in the Dishwasher

Hand-washing with hot water and soap is not always enough to kill germs. And knives create nicks in the surface, which are the perfect place for bacteria to grow. It’s also a good idea to reserve one cutting board for meat and another for fruits and veggies, so you never accidentally contaminate something you’re going to eat raw.

If you don’t have a dishwasher, pour boiling water over the surface after each use.

Wash Reusable Grocery Bags

These can transport germs from the grocery store, and using the same bags to carry raw meat and veggies over and over again can cause bacteria to grow on the bag’s surface.

Wash these bags often, either by hand or on the gentle cycle in your washing machine.

Keep the Microwave Clean

You might forget about your microwave because you can’t always see its messes, but it can collect bacteria from food that spills or splatters. And its heat can let bacteria grow and spread.

Make sure to scrub the outside, the handles, and buttons, as well as the inside.