No Vacation In Sight?

No Vacation In Sight?

Summer is in full swing, and many of us have exciting vacations planned.  But what if you don’t?  Or you just got back from your vacation and don’t have another one in the works?   What to do when you need that “I’m on vacation” feeling? I say fake it. Nope, you probably can’t just take off and go somewhere (if you can, I’m envious!), but you CAN change your mindset – at least for a few hours. Take a look around town (or Yelp) for a fun, local restaurant that has outdoor seating.  A water view is ideal, but at least find something with good people watching.  If you are lucky enough to score someplace with live music that’s a real bonus.  Another fun option would be a local winery or brewery that offers appetizers or charcuterie. Order yourself a fancy cocktail or glass of wine and a few appetizers – preferably something fancy.  Now, pretend you are off on an amazing vacation.  Don’t think about what you “should” be doing the rest of the night – tonight is all about vacation time and vacations don’t have to-do lists.  After dinner, stroll leisurely through a nearby town or neighborhood.  Have fun conversations about where you’d like to go, what you’d like to see in the next year. Is it a real vacation?  Not even close, but it’s amazing how a little break in the ordinary and experiencing the types of things you’d do on a vacation can help you feel a little more carefree and relaxed.   Just like a good vacation. What do you do when you don’t have...
Take a Hike

Take a Hike

Summer is here and with it, more daylight along with extra free time.  The easy way to handle summer would be to let the kids sleep in, watch Netflix and live on their phones, but with just a little effort they can spend plenty of time outside too. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I’m a huge fan of the rails to trails initiatives popping up all over, but if you live in the Indianapolis, IN area, you should also check out the variety of excellent park trails. In Hamilton County alone (North of Indianapolis), there are over 500 miles of walking trails – plenty to keep you busy this summer!  My goal is to eventually check them all out, but when I’m not in the mood to try something new, I enjoy one of my three favorites: Potter’s Bridge.   This trail runs along the White River, so the views are beautiful year-round.  At the trailhead there is a lovely old covered bridge – great for pictures and exploration.  When the river isn’t too high, it’s also fun to take a few of the little paths down to the water to skip rocks and get your feet wet.  The trail itself is paved and flat so an excellent choice for strollers or even biking.  There are markers every 1/4 mile to help you keep track of how far you walk.  19401 Allisonville Road, Noblesville, IN   MacGregor Park.  On dry days this park is a favorite.  At first glance it appears that it’s just a large (and fun) playground, but if you drive a bit further back you’ll...

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...
The Best Hidden Resource!

The Best Hidden Resource!

Today I’m singing praises about a resource most of us have access to, and few people ever use.  It makes my life easier, brings me daily enjoyment and costs NOTHING.  What is it? The local library. Seriously – if you don’t use your local library, you really need to check it out.  Libraries are so much more than dusty old shelves of books (although if you love to read, you’ll appreciate that too).  Ready for some examples of why the library is such a great resource? It’s free.  Unless you habitually forget to turn in your books, the library will cost you nothing. The library contains more than books.  Most libraries have DVD’s, audio books, music and magazines.  Mine also has board games and get this –  museum passes!  Yep, on our recent Spring Break we were able to check out family passes for two state museums and visit them for free.  This easily saved us $100. If your library doesn’t carry what you want, you can request it.  The library doesn’t have a book you want to read?  Ask them to purchase it or see if they can get it on loan from another library.  Most libraries are continually buying new material and they appreciate it when members tell them what they’d like to see. The programs can be terrific.  When my kids were little, we were regulars at story time – it was a fun, free activity we could do together.  Now they always enjoy participating in the summer reading program. Our library offers a program or two almost every day of the week – truly something...

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!...

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