Things I love – Weekly Breakfast Date

Have you ever started something for fun and it quickly became a long-standing tradition?  I love it when that happens! Years ago, my daughter’s birthday fell on a school day.  To make it special, I had her invite her two friends (neighbors) to breakfast before school.  I bought donuts at the grocery and we stopped at our local coffee shop for hot chocolates.  It was fun and a special way to start the day. Next birthday I had the same request. After that visit, it dawned on me that we could be having a fun breakfast before school more often.  “Coffee Shop Day” was born.  Once a week I’d wake the kids up twenty minutes earlier and tell them it was coffee shop day.  It was always a fabulous way to start the day and a terrific break in a busy week. After a few years of this, my daughter moved on to middle school and a much earlier start time.  Coffee shop day with her had to end.  My son was still in elementary so we started branching out.  Now we rotate between three different restaurants (two of them are local!) once a week before school. Early morning breakfasts have been a fun way to connect, spend quality time together and slow down even in the midst of the school year. What fun traditions have you created by accident?  I’d love to hear all about them in the comments, so please...
Up for a FREE meal?

Up for a FREE meal?

Who doesn’t love getting something for free?  Especially a meal at a nice restaurant, a hotel room or an afternoon of bowling.  Thanks to the years I’ve been mystery shopping, those are a regular part of our lives. In just the last month, I’ve had a breakfast date with my hubby ($42), went bowling and played laser tag with the kids ($115), had pizza and beer for lunch over Spring Break ($50) and got a carry-out lunch at a national chain restaurant ($35).  This is just me doing a shop or two here and there.  If I had the time I could do so much more.  I started mystery shopping almost twenty-five years ago when the company I was working for closed it’s doors and I was out of a job.  I started doing a few dinner shops a month so we could still enjoy a nice meal out without spending money we didn’t have!  Now I just do it for fun, to stretch our entertainment dollars and to force myself out of my routine and try new things. It would be challenging to make a full-time living mystery shopping; most shops don’t pay much outside of reimbursement, but for cutting costs or adding extras to your life, it’s a great part-time gig.  It is important to undersand that once you conduct the shop, you will have to come home and fill out an online form (sometimes within 12-hours of doing the shop), upload some pictures and be available for the next few days for questions.  At first, it would take me an hour or so to fill out...

Early Mornings Make Me Happy

That first sip of hot coffee, a cuddly blanket with a warm kitty curled up at my feet.  Add in my current reading material, and THAT is the perfect way to start my day.  Once I have a few moments of easing into the day in that manner, I am ready to do some yoga or pilates, work on a personal project and get ready with plenty of time to spare. How I love a great start to the day. Getting up early to enable such a perfect morning routine is a struggle for me, but the days I am successful are ALWAYS better days.  I’m more productive, less stressed and just plain enjoy life more. And since enjoying life and creating a healthier and happier life is exactly what I promote here, I thought I’d share one of my favorite resources to help you create a better start to YOUR day: I’ve taken the online course myself and gleaned quite a bit of useful information.  This time around, Crystal is doing a live version – for extra motivation.  The class starts April 9th and registration ends then, so if you think you need a little push in improving YOUR mornings, sign up soon!  I’ll be participating and I’d love to have you join me!  Go check it out HERE. What makes up the perfect morning for you?  I’d love for you to share in the comments!...
Ready to Look GREAT This Spring?

Ready to Look GREAT This Spring?

Well, it’s been a while!  The past few months I’ve been re-thinking how I want to spend my limited free time and how I want to run my business.  For now, I’ve decided that instead of working with individual clients, I’d like to share on a regular basis my favorite things.  All the things that make me happy.  Everything I share is a resource that I personally use and feel will help you achieve a happier and healthier life.  I’ll be adding to this list frequently, so check it out HERE – then bookmark it and check back often!   Today I want to share one of my favorite ways to help you look and feel great – no matter your weight, fitness level or age! For many busy working moms, fashion falls on the wayside – sound like you?  Maybe like me you used to LOVE putting together outfits, getting dressed up and trying out the latest trends.  My undergraduate degree was actually in Fashion Merchandising so goodness knows I love clothes!  Yet somehow, through the years, I found myself wearing jeans and t-shirts with few accessories more and more often.  It was just easier. A few years ago I discovered the fun of GYPO’s (Get Your Pretty On) wardrobe challenges.  I participated a few times and had so much fun that I now have an annual membership.  If you feel like you are in a rut, you MUST check this out.  I don’t spend a ton of money on clothing anymore, yet I always feel put together.  I get lots of compliments and know that what I’m...
Feel Better While Eating

Feel Better While Eating

Do you enjoy your meals at the table?  Or do you scarf them down standing by the kitchen counter or over the stove?  Do you eat with your family most nights?  Or is the norm for you to each grab whatever you can whenever you are home? I know I’m not the first one to mention how important it is to eat together as a family regularly, but in addition to the often acknowledged benefits for your kids, there are strong health benefits for YOU too. By sitting down to eat, you are automatically going to eat better.   You’ll notice what’s on your plate – the colors, quantities and appearance.  If you start to pay attention to this you can begin to make small changes – smaller quantities, a wider variety of colors, etc. Challenge yourself to not just enjoy the company around you but to begin eating mindfully.  Chew each bite completely (this will help with bloating and stomach issues), place your fork down between bites.  Think about what you are eating and enjoy all the nuances and flavors. Delicious. Used to having the TV on while you eat?  Turn it off.  If you eat with the TV on, I guarantee you will eat more.  Your body doesn’t realize it’s full when it’s distracted.  And it’s easy to mindlessly shovel more food into your mouth when you aren’t paying attention to each bite. Why should you make eating mindfully a practice?  Because you deserve it!  You deserve to enjoy your meals – after all eating is a part of everyday so why not make it enjoyable?  Right?  In...
Transition from work to home driving you CRAZY?

Transition from work to home driving you CRAZY?

I can’t believe it’s our last week in this series around creating calm and reducing stress.  Hopefully you’ve been practicing some of the breathing exercises, using your RC and eating more mindfully.  This week I want to turn your attention to another common area of stress – transition time. Although there are many transition times during the day (home to work; afterschool; dinnertime; bedtime), I want to dive into one that all of us working moms have – the transition from work to home.  Regardless of if you are physically driving home from work or simply attempting to turn off the computer and focus on your family, this can be an especially dicey and stressful transition. Odds are good you didn’t finish everything you wanted to do at work (do we ever?), so it can be hard to move from that work mentality to start enjoying your family.  Instead of making that transition rushed and harried, try slowing it down a bit.  Use it to switch off your work mind, release any negativity that invaded your workday and move into a calm, enjoyable evening.  Even if you  have an evening of running kids around planned, you can still change your attitude and make the most of it! Let’s begin… Step 1:  Leave work behind.  Close your computer – signify to your brain that work is over. Step 2:  Leave your office area.  Either get in your car, bus, etc. to drive home or leave your work area if you work at home.  Take 3 big inhales and exhales and smile. Step 3:  Find something that lifts your mood, and...

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