TRY SPRING CLEANING YOUR LIFE!

I remember the extensive spring cleaning that my mother always did. It included washing all the windows inside and out, washing curtains and drapes, special attention to the floors, airing out blankets, coats and other heavy winter things before storing them for the summer. Walls and baseboards were washed and any spiderwebs in corners of the ceiling that hadn’t been removed met their demise. And about the curtains – there was a time when there were lace curtains in the living room and dining room that had to be washed, starched and stretched dry on wooden frames with tiny sharp nails. Does anyone else have those memories?

Another part of the process was cleaning the front porch which had been closed to use for the winter and dust and grime had accumulated. When that was finished, we could again use it –  a real mark of spring and the anticipation of summer.

I have not carried on the tradition of seasonal cleaning in this way. Truth be told, I’m not that kind of housekeeper at all. The concept of spring cleaning, however, can be applied to our lives in productive ways.

Here are nine examples of spring cleaning tasks of this type for you to consider:

Take Stock

Before you start, take careful stock of how you are currently doing. Do you have goals? How are they going? Are there any areas of your life you’d like to change up? Taking stock of where you are will help you direct your energy where it’s needed.

 Clean Up Your Relationships

Do you have any toxic relationships? Maybe it is time to part ways with these people or modify the types and amount of time you spend with them. We all need people in our lives that cheer us up, lift us up or build us up.

Tidy Up Your Habits

Look at your habits and assess whether they are positive and helpful or not – or if you have fallen into some ruts that you want to get out of. Bad habits add up over time and cost you in the long run. Spring is a perfect time to build some new positive habits.

Clear Your Mind

In our busy lives, it’s so easy to end up with a lot of clutter in our heads. People, projects, work, and the events in our world all contribute. Three strategies that can be very effective in clearing your mind and helping you gain clarity and direction are brain dumps, journaling, and meditation. Learn how to most effectively do brain dumps here:  https://carolbrusegar.com/feeling-overwhelmed-try-a-brain-dump/

If you’d like to explore more about journaling and all the ways to use it effectively, here’s what I wrote about it: http://carolbrusegar.com/journaling-as-a-tool/

Unplug

Technology is great, but sometimes we need to unplug and live in the moment. You can take a social media sabbatical or break. You can choose a smaller number of platforms to be actively engaged. You can set time parameters for time spent on your devices. Any of these can free up time for person-to-person engagement, being more observant and connected to what’s around you, and reading more.

Refresh Your Fitness Routine

Do you have a fitness routine? Has it become boring or stale? Use spring cleaning time to consider a new exercise, sport, or activity that gets you excited – or at least is enjoyable – and fit it into your daily routine.

Springify Your Diet

Many of us fall into eating habits over the winter months that aren’t the best for us. We can’t continue to hide under big sweaters and coats, and we may be feeling sluggish and bloated. Clothes may not be fitting comfortably. This is a great time to look at what we’re eating and what additions and subtractions to make as we move into a new season. Experiment with a healthier diet that you can sustain and even enjoy. A total change is often not necessary. Try cutting out a few things and adding new ones.

Organize Your Workspace

This is almost real spring cleaning! Organizing your workspace is a great way to boost your productivity and get more excited about working in general. Make sure every item has its space and every space has a purpose. Put things that aren’t used regularly into drawers or closets to open your space – and remember where you put them (maybe even write it down)! Add some seasonal wall decor to brighten up the room. Add some candles with light, spring type scents here and in other parts of your home. There’s a great variety of seasonal scented candles here to choose from: Spring Scented Candles

Check Your Goals

We’re now into the second quarter of the year. Whether you meticulously set goals in January or have been sliding into the year with a less structured approach, this is a time to look at goals. A helpful tool is The 12 Week Year by Brian Moran and Michael Lennington. It’s a great approach to accomplishing what we wish in a much more manageable time frame.

Spring cleaning our homes is a worthy activity if it contributes to our overall wellbeing. Spring cleaning our life can be even more valuable and transformative. Look at the list of options, choose the ones that you want to start with and go from there. Happy Spring!

 

I’m Carol Brusegar, author, photographer and curator of information. My focus is on gathering and writing on topics that enhance all our lives – regardless of our age. Topics include health and wellness, personal development, innovation and creativity, and a variety of helpful, practical tools and practices. I have a special interest in helping people over 50 years of age to create their 3rd Age – the next stage of their lives – to be the best it can be.

         

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“Holy Magic” Visiting Inmates Before Christmas

Timothysgift.comPHOTO CREDIT: LiveMoreStudios.com

You are loved. You have great worth. God is with you. You are not forgotten.

Simple statements and deeply powerful. They reach beneath the chatter and the lies bombarding us from outside and from within. They reach to our core, our heart and soul, and create “holy magic.” And they are embodied — dare I say incarnated — in the team of people who brought the Timothy’s Gift Christmas Tour 2021 to Florida the week after Thanksgiving.

That team of 20 people — 9 of whom had never done this before — brought their talents, gifts and beings into 10 correctional institutions and immersed themselves in the experience. They radiated the love of God which was received as genuine and profound. In the process we were impacted in ways difficult to articulate. We too were changed, and a deep passion for this ministry and deep bonds among us emerged in a few short days.

This was the 25th major Timothy’s Gift Tour since 2012. It was my 10th. There are many similarities with other tours — and also unique aspects that made it different than those that preceded it. I begin with snapshots of moments.

Snapshot #1: This was repeated at each of the 10 locations — inmates standing and singing “O Come, All Ye Faithful” a cappella with our vocalists. The fervid singing of “O come, let us adore him, O come, let us adore him…”echoed in the room and mystically united all our hearts. It was the final song of a singalong of Christmas songs, a mix of secular and fun classics and traditional carols that transitioned to the rest of the program which was more personal and spiritual.

Snapshot #2: A mixture of affirmation, tears, smiles and more were on the faces of those listening to “You’ll Never Walk Alone” sung a cappella at the conclusion of communion. We saw this and felt more — particularly to the repeated phrase “Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart.”

Snapshot #3: The entire team stood in a dorm which houses the faith-based program with the 60 or so inmates sitting on their bunks and shared music. Our vocalists sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and 4 of their praise team sang a couple of worship songs.

Snapshot #4: At our final concert, when those present were invited to introduce themselves, an officer gave his name and said that he loved his job and these guys and that they had made him a better person. He also received communion — from JC whom he had watched over at the work camp when he was incarcerated there! What a God moment!

How This Tour Was Different

Tim, for whom Timothy’s Gift is named, was part of this tour, making it unique among all the 25 tours. JC and David who had also served time in Florida prisons were part of the team as well. At 8 of the 10 locations, this was not known ahead of time. The exceptions were the 2 locations where the 3 had served their time, and the publicity posters had included their photos.

As the revelation was made — one at a time spread through the program — that these 3 formerly incarcerated men were part of our team, the responses were palpable. Applause, sometimes cheers and standing up, always a feeling of surprise — even amazement — greeted them as JC, Tim and David each shared some of his story and words of encouragement. It elevated the substance of our message to another level.

Snapshot #5: David, Tim and Josh standing together in front of each audience leading them in declaring boldly “I am loved, I have great worth, God is with me, I am not forgotten.” Standing tall, placing their hands on their heart. Voices booming, claiming that for themselves now and forever.

Another notable aspect of this tour was that 4 of the 10 institutions we visited have “incentivized” programs for all or part of their population. Some are specifically ”faith and character” programs. Those who apply and are accepted into these programs have access to a variety of opportunities to help them prepare for life beyond prison — or for those serving life sentences, for making their time meaningful and productive. In one location, we were able to tour the lounge with TV and games and workout/gym area and then the faith-based and veterans dorms. And 8 of the inmates who serve as chapel clerks ate lunch from the canteen with the team.

I cannot say for sure that there is a causal effect, but we observed a correlation between the tone and demeanor of many of those we saw related to whether it was one of the “incentivized” sites or not. There were more people reacting to parts of the program with tears and sobs in the settings where these things were not available. There was more of a sense of wellbeing and community and hope where they were available. One inmate enthusiastically touted his dorm as the best to us — a sure sign that it is a positive, healing and forward-focused atmosphere.

Community and Caring

Demonstrations of caring and supportive relationships among those we visit always touch me. Here are two examples on this tour.

Snapshot #6: As 3 female vocalists sang a tender “Happy Birthday” song to a man whose birthday was that week, he began choking up. After sitting down he began sobbing. Others were touched by that and what followed and soon many were in tears. One person got permission to leave the room and came back with a handful of paper towels and took them over to those who needed them to dry their eyes. Others put hands and arms on the shoulders of those near them. We saw their care for each other so clearly.

Snapshot #7: We visited one women’s institution on our tour, and all those invited to the concert were within 18 months of being released. Energy and exuberance radiated from them from the time they walked into the room. As they were invited to introduce themselves, one woman would introduce others around her, and they identified the group they were part as they move toward release. This continued with cheers for each group. The affection among them was so clear.

Each concert ended this way: communion followed by “You’ll Never Walk Alone;” the affirmation of the 4 statements led by David, Tim and Josh; and “The Prayer” sung as a benediction. As the words of that last selection resounded in the room, we were all lifted beyond to another place, a higher dimension.

“…Lead us to a place, guide us with your grace, to a place where we’ll be safe. A world where pain and sorrow will be ended and every heart that’s broken will be mended. And we’ll remember we are all God’s children, reaching out to touch you, reading to the sky…..”

Each of us who were part of this tour has his/her own highlights, insights, and experiences that will continue to impact us. That’s true of the team and of every person we encountered along the way. For me, the week can be described as miraculous — “an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention” or “an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment.”

Or it could be called magical — “extraordinarily pleasant, enjoyable, or exciting.” Clearly an experience that transcends the ordinary. It could be called magically miraculous or, my personal favorite, holy magic! It was a magical week, an impactful week, a transcendent week. And I am deeply grateful.

For more information about this ministry: https://www.timothysgift.com

I’m Carol Brusegar, author, photographer and curator of information. My focus is on gathering and writing on topics that enhance all our lives — regardless of our age. Topics include health and wellness, personal development, innovation and creativity, and a variety of helpful, practical tools and practices. I have a special interest in helping people over 50 years of age to create their 3rd Age — the next stage of their lives — to be the best it can be. Follow me on Twitter! Follow me on Instagram! Follow me on Pinterest! Follow me on Facebook! Visit my Etsy Shop!

EXPANDING THE PARAMETERS OF YOUR DECEMBER HOLIDAY

CandlesAs I write this post, it is a few days before Christmas. For many people, the entire focus of the past month has been on preparing for that day as the culmination of the season. Often they start the hustle and bustle the day after Thanksgiving – shopping, decorating social events, etc. Then by the day or so after Christmas or at least before New Year’s Eve, it’s all over. Decorations down, focus on recuperation and the coming “return to routine.” Expand December holiday time? Perhaps that idea would not be welcome for them. However, I suggest considering some alternatives to try this year, or plan for next year.

I prefer to observe the 12 Days of Christmas which for centuries have been a time of celebration – starting with December 25 and ending on the evening of January 5. In some cultures, January 5 is called the Twelfth Night and is an occasion for feasting; a King’s Cake/3 Kings Cake is part of the celebration in various countries. Those variations are described in detail here:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_cake

January 6 is observed as Epiphany or 3 Kings Day in many cultures of the world and many Christians observe Epiphany season from then up until Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. It is a season of light/manifestation/showing forth/revelation. It’s a great theme to explore and a season to launch the new year under the umbrella of this imagery.

Other December Holidays

Others observe the pan-African holiday Kwanzaa from December 26 to January 1, celebrating family, community and culture. Each of the days of the celebration is dedicated to one of the seven principles of Kwanzaa: unity (umoja), self-determination (kujichagulia), collective responsibility (ujima), cooperative economics (ujamaa), purpose (nia), creativity (kuumba), and faith (imani).

The Jewish holiday, Hanukkah, follows a lunar calendar so the dates vary, but in 2021 it is from sundown on November 28 through sundown on December 6. This whole period of time includes a variety of celebrations that we can learn about and from, especially if they are from a different culture or group.

Ideas for the Time After Christmas

What if we extend December holiday activities by planning to do some simple things that demonstrated care and love to others? The time after Christmas and especially after New Years Day is often a time of let-down, of sadness and loneliness for people – perhaps you and people you know. The energy and push of the previous month is over, the days are still short and winter weather prevails.

Here are a few suggestions to extend the December holiday spirit for you and others. You may need to be adapt in some ways to keep everyone as safe as possible during the continuing pandemic:

1. Engage with an elderly person. The holidays can be tough for bedridden and nursing home-bound individuals. Bring love to those who need it most. Show up with books or magazines, do a crossword or puzzle together, sing songs or even just sit quietly and be a good listener.

2. Share a cup of cheer. Here’s a simple gesture to offer – surprise someone you love with a hot beverage. Coffee, tea, cocoa or chai, whatever their pleasure. Invite them to you home or to meet at a restaurant or coffee shop for relaxed time together.

3. Help someone who is struggling. If you live where winter includes cold and snow, there are likely people near you who could use some help managing. It may be keeping sidewalks and driveways clear. Or perhaps the elements are keeping them inside and isolated. A visit and a treat – cookies, a loaf of sweet bread, etc. – can be a real boost.

4. Get together with grandparents. After the group gatherings of the holidays, January can be very lonely. Make a visit, take them out for lunch or a movie or some other activity that will be enjoyable and give you a quieter time to be together.

5. During these coldest times of the year, there are people in need of warm hats, scarves or mittens. Check with a school or homeless shelter. You could knit or crochet and item or two individually or have a gathering of a few friends to make some items. If you aren’t crafty or don’t have time to do that, find some cozy things at the store and share them.

6. Remember those who have had tough holidays because of a breakup, the loss of loved ones, family conflict or other factors. Making contact and perhaps spending a little time with them, even on the phone, can be a boost. It’s a reminder that people remember and care.

If you are one who experiences down time, even depression, after the holidays, doing one or more of these or similar things can give you a sense of purpose as well as help someone else. A win-win situation for sure!

In your own home, consider the winter months as a great time to practice the principles of Hygge. I’ve written about that here: https://carolbrusegar.com/hygge-holiday-season-and-winter/

And here’s another suggestion: read some uplifting books that may have holiday/Christmas themes through the coming weeks. The season can be as long as you want it to be in your own life!! Check out the huge number of holiday books in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series:

Chicken Soup for the Soul Christmas and Holiday Books

I’m Carol Brusegar, author, photographer and curator of information. My focus is on gathering and writing on topics that enhance all our lives – regardless of our age. Topics include health and wellness, personal development, innovation and creativity, and a variety of helpful, practical tools and practices. I have a special interest in helping people over 50 years of age to create their 3rd Age – the next stage of their lives – to be the best it can be.           

Follow me on Twitter!  Follow me on Instagram!  Follow me on Pinterest

Follow me on Facebook!    Visit my Etsy Shop!

Have a Hygge Holiday Season and Winter!

Hygge

Photo by Carolyn V on Unsplash

“Holiday season” is defined in various ways. Yours may or may not be the same as mine – and any of us may decide to modify our definition in this unique year of the pandemic. Personally, I celebrate Christmas through the 12th day of Christmas, January 5. There are ways in which I extend it even beyond that. I wrote about that last year (pre-pandemic) here: https://carolbrusegar.com/expanding-parameters-december-holiday/

At whatever point you read this, the ideas can be applied to the days and weeks ahead – including through the winter months as we continue to stay at home much more than usual. Let’s all have a Hygge holiday season and winter!

Hygge has become increasingly popular everywhere in recent years. Perhaps you are already a devotee,  perhaps you’ve never heard of it, or perhaps you’d like to explore the idea more. So let’s start with what it is and where it came from.

Hygge, pronounced (Hue-gah) is a Danish word originally derived from an Old Norwegian word meaning well-being and protection from the outside elements. Denmark has notoriously cold, long winters. The concept of hygge has been used by Danish people to help mentally combat the brutally dark, relentless winter season and fill their homes with comfort and love. Hygge is a word that is so important to Danish people; it’s often used to describe what their culture is all about. Hygge is not necessarily something specific that you can buy, because it’s more of a feeling than a possession. Hygge really is the epitome of Danish living; in the last several years the concept of hygge has made its way to the US and many other countries with extreme popularity and trendiness.

Hygge can widely be described as a feeling of coziness, comfort, familiarity, friendship, laughter and seasonal homemade food and drinks. Although it’s possible to achieve hygge any time of the year (an outdoor BBQ with friends or a movie under the stars with family are great examples of summertime hygge), Hygge is generally associated with the colder months. This is because of its ability to uplift spirits during dark, long winter months. It can be especially comforting and enjoyable during these months of the pandemic. As we are staying safe at home to protect ourselves and others, focusing on creating peaceful, cozy surroundings can fill us with the feeling of contentment. Here are a few, simple ways you can bring holiday hygge into your home.

Warm lighting – achieve a great sense of hygge, by lighting some candles, having a real or gas fire or setting up string lights. Warm lightning is key to coziness.

Cozy linens, blankets and textures – get out all of those soft, fluffy blankets and have them available on the couch or chairs and by the windows, so that you can easily cuddle up with your favorite books and movies and relax.

Home cooking and baking – cooking some traditional holiday meals and treats will help bring holiday hygge into your home. Comfort foods like holiday ham, stews/soups/chilis, breads of all kinds, cookies, and apple/pumpkin/sweet potato pies will waft soul-warming scents throughout the air, making your home feel cozy and cared for. Baking together is a perfect hygge activity. It may be items that have become traditions, or a way to try new recipes that may be added to that list for coming years.

Comforting scents – filling your home with festive and cozy scents can be done in a variety of ways.  You can use scented candles, scented wax in a wax warmer, or scented oils. A wide variety of scents are available – warm vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and other spices as well as pine and peppermint are some holiday favorites. Potpourri can be placed in open bowls in various rooms and refreshed with scented oils, or simmered with water on the stove or in a slow cooker. Scented pinecones and fresh evergreen trees or boughs are always a great addition.

Warm beverages – drinking these can warm body and soul. Hot chocolate can be varied in many delightful ways, as can apple cider. I wrote about the latter earlier: Apple Cider – Fall’s Delicious, Variable, Healthy Beverage!  Of course there are many other options for all ages!!

Try some new things, repeat things that you’ve enjoyed before, and have a Hygge holiday season and winter!!

 

If you’d like to learn more, I have two recommendations:

Here’s a great book written by a Dane who is a researcher at the Happiness Research Institute:

The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living

This coloring book not only has Hygge designs, but includes the concepts along with some journal pages, tips for coloring and some finished products to illustrate them.

Hygge Happy Coloring Book: Coloring Pages for a Cozy Life (Design Originals) Discover the Scandinavian Secret of Happiness & Enjoy the Good Things in Life with Mellow, Relaxing Hygge Images

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Miracle of the Christmas Ship – a True Story for Your Enjoyment

Many of us love to read Christmas/holiday stories and books during December. Every year there are a lot of fiction books published to feed our reading hunger.

I decided to offer a true story into the mix, The Miracle of the Christmas Ship. It is now available as a Kindle book on Amazon.com and will soon be available in paperback as well. It’s a short book – if it were fiction it would be called a novella. Short and sweet – no long tome. It’s an inspiring story from the past that also provides historical context. I hope you will check it out and enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it.

https://carolbrusegar.com/the-miracle-of-the-christmas-ship/

I am Carol Brusegar, blogger, photographer, writer and curator. I focus on ideas and resources for help us all to live more fulfilling and enjoyable lives. 

Thanksgiving Ideas, Resources, and Gratitude (With a Free Gratitude Journal)

Planning for ThanksgivingThanksgiving 2021 is a shaping up as closer to what we used to have, since many of us are now vaccinated. Precautions are still very important and we can make modifications that will keep us safer and perhaps even discover things we enjoy that we’ve not done before as we gather.

Last Thanksgiving I shared a collection of online resources to engage and entertain children and the whole family for the day and the entire weekend. There are great things to download and print, games, learning opportunities, recipes, and more. Plan for enjoyment:   https://carolbrusegar.com/thanksgiving-free-online-resources-entertain-family/

Gratitude is Powerful

Through these past months of the pandemic, everyone has had their life disrupted in some ways. The severity of that impact has varied greatly. All of us feel loss of a variety of people and things. There’s a lot of pain and sadness, depression and anxiety. Many of us will find it more challenging to be thankful right now. Yet the very intention to identify, acknowledge and celebrate can be therapeutic in the midst of extraordinarily challenging times.

Gratitude is powerful. It can shift our thoughts and mindset and open us to more positives. It can inspire us to do things to enrich others’ lives. Expressing our gratitude to people who have enhanced our lives and supported us through difficult times helps both us and those to whom we communicate.

Adela Rubio describes 3 reasons that gratitude shifts our energy: It shifts your focus to the present moment, creates a new orientation, and establishes a indelible connection with Source. “Gratitude is a powerful transformation tool. It changes you and the world you live in!”  https://adelarubio.com/3-reasons-gratitude-shifts-energy/#

Perhaps there is no more important a time than this to structure a gratitude time into our lives. It can be as simple as having a small notebook or some paper clipped together where you write five things each day. As the days pass and you look back, you can see where you have been and what has touched you. Another approach, recommended by Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD and professor at the University of California Riverside, is a weekly gratitude exercise. Once a week, perhaps Sunday evening, reflect upon and write down five things for which you are grateful. For some, daily expression becomes boring and routine; weekly can be more meaningful.

Or you can take a more structured approach with prompts for you to write about each day (or less frequently but regularly). I offer you this free, directly downloadable 30-day Gratitude Journal to get started (or to resume a left-behind practice).  30 Day Gratitude Journal

Z. Colette Edwards, MD, MBA has written a post that includes multiple aspects of gratitude. It was written this year and reflects our current reality in the midst of the pandemic.  Dr. Edwards is a physician and life/executive/wellness coach who blends traditional medical and integrative perspectives in her work.

Dr. Edwards includes a list of 20 Ways to Celebrate Gratitude which focuses on things we can do to express our gratitude to others, which has benefits for both ourselves and the recipients. For example, “Email or text notes or drawings to healthcare workers” or “Verbally thank the grocery store clerk who is stocking shelves non-stop or checking one customer out after another, and thus putting themselves at risk.” Here is the full post: https://peopletweaker.com/hcr-blog/gratitude-during-difficult-times/

Yes, it is a Thanksgiving like no other. Cultivating gratitude in yourself and encouraging it in others can be a powerful positive force now and for the weeks and months ahead.

Here’s a book with 105 short essays on gratitude. Each is written by a different author with a unique perspective and story. It’s a great thing to pick up and read an essay or two when you need a boost.  A Gift of Gratitude

 

I’m Carol Brusegar, author, photographer and curator of information. My focus is on gathering and writing on topics that enhance all our lives – regardless of our age. Topics include health and wellness, personal development, innovation and creativity, and a variety of helpful, practical tools and practices. I have a special interest in helping people over 50 years of age to create their 3rd Age – the next stage of their lives – to be the best it can be.

        Follow me on Twitter!     Follow me on Instagram!   Follow me on Pinterest!    Follow me on Facebook!         Visit my Etsy Shop!

 

 

Pumpkins, Pumpkins Everywhere – Facts, Fun and Uses

PumpkinsPumpkins of all shapes and sizes are in stores, decorating our outdoors, and being carved by children of all ages during the fall months. There are pumpkins, pumpkins everywhere! What are pumpkins and why are they superfoods, not just activities and decorations?

Pumpkins Are a Type of Fruit

Definitely one of the more surprising facts about pumpkins is that they are fruit, not vegetables. Many people consider pumpkins to be a vegetable, along with squash and other gourds, but it is in fact a fruit. Fruits are typically defined by being planted with seeds, which pumpkins definitely have. Therefore, while a part of the gourd family, they are a type of fruit. This is also a warm-weather crop, similar to other types of winter squash, which is why it is available to be harvested in the fall season.

There Are a Wide Range of Colors and Styles

Another fun fact about pumpkins is that there are many different colors, sizes, and even shapes. When people think of pumpkins, they often envision round or oval bright orange pumpkins, but this is only one of many varieties. Depending on where you live and what is available, you might find pumpkins in red, yellow, white, or even multi-colored varieties. Round and oval are common, but some are pear shaped, taller or shorter. There are mini pumpkins, large ones, and every size in between. Naturally, some pumpkins re better for carving, others are good for eating, and some of the more unique ones are best for decorating.

Pumpkins Are Mostly Water

Pumpkins are about 90 percent water. This is partly why they are so low in fat, similar to other foods with high water content – cucumbers, lettuce, and celery. Pumpkins also contain a long list of nutrients, including vitamin A, potassium, fiber, vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, and many more minerals. This makes them a fall superfood!

More Facts About Pumpkins

Here are a few more things you might not know about pumpkins:

  • The flowers that grow around pumpkins are completely edible, as well as the skin.
  • Pumpkins were once used for pie crust, instead of filling like it is used now.
  • Native Americans used pumpkin seeds for herbal medicine as well as food.
  • Pumpkins grow on all continents, with the exception of Antarctica.

Ideas for Using this Superfood

When fresh pumpkins are available, there are many options that are good for cooking. This article lists the 10 best; they include Baby Bear, Sugar and Butterkin, which is a cross between a butternut squash and a pumpkin. Find more information and photos so it is easy to look for what you want: https://www.10best.com/interests/food-culture/what-types-of-pumpkins-cook-eat/ Mini-pumpkins are also good for cooking; this article includes sweet and savory suggestions.  https://www.thekitchn.com/what-to-do-with-all-those-mini-69921

Canned pumpkin provides the same superfood nutrition during the parts of the year when fresh pumpkins are unavailable.  And even in the fall, it’s easier to make a wonderful batch of Pumpkin Butter in your crockpot/slow cooker with the canned version. Here’s a simple recipe: Slow Cooker Pumpkin Butter  Imagine the aroma in your kitchen when it is cooking!!

To explore uses of pumpkin in everything from breakfast dishes to appetizers to main dishes and more, check out this cookbook. Pumpkin by Taste of Home

 

I’m Carol Brusegar, author, photographer and curator of information. My focus is on gathering and writing on topics that enhance all our lives – regardless of our age. Topics include health and wellness, personal development, innovation and creativity, and a variety of helpful, practical tools and practices. I have a special interest in helping people over 50 years of age to create their 3rd Age – the next stage of their lives – to be the best it can be.

Follow me on Twitter!     Follow me on Instagram!   Follow me on Pinterest!

                                    Follow me on Facebook!         Visit my Etsy Shop!

 

 

 

 

Simple Fall and Thanksgiving Decorating Ideas

thanksgiving decorI love fall decorating in my home. It adds warmth and coziness before the rush of Christmas or other holiday decorating. It can be simple and inexpensive, and other family members can get involved. Here are several ideas to try or to inspire you to think of additional things you can do right now.

1. Outdoor Display
Decorate the front yard with harvest-type items like a hay bale, pumpkins, gourds, etc. You can arrange seasonal items on a bench, chair or swing, and use baskets, burlap bags, or other containers.

A Happy Thanksgiving sign can be easily created out of wood, or create a flag out of felt. For a little color, plant a few mums, either in the ground or in pots and planters around the outside of the house, or along the pathway or drive leading up to it. You can get a lot of decorating ideas at your local nursery.

2. Door Wreath
Nothing says the holidays quite like a door wreath. You can purchase grapevine wreaths in many sizes at a craft store very inexpensively. Then hot glue or wire pine cones, chestnuts, acorns, small gourds and more onto the wreath. You could also use a foam base. To make it more reusable year after year, Silk leaves and flowers can be used.

3. Inside the House
Add fall colors in simple ways like using autumn-colored throw pillows or blankets on your couch. Scented candles in fall fragrances or a spicy, scented air freshener add those great fall scents to your whole house.

Change out some of your wall decor with seasonal scenes, thoughts or objects.  Etsy sellers have made this easy with printable designs. Find something you like, make your payment, and download your new wall art. You can print it on your home computer or put it on a thumb/flash drive and take it to your local printer (Staples, OfficeMax, etc.). Print on a slightly heavier paper and frame as you wish. My Etsy shop has a selection of fall wall art, for example: https://www.etsy.com/shop/DecorateOrganizeGive

4. Mantelpiece Display
The mantel over your fireplace is the perfect place to decorate for Thanksgiving. For a simple display, arrange some pumpkins or decorative gourds and/or Indian corn on the mantelpiece, along with a few candles. Orange, gold or brown glass vases by themselves or filled with live or silk flowers and foliage are also a nice touch. Hang a fall garland or wreath above the mantelpiece, similar to the one on your front door.

5. Create a Centerpiece
An attractive centerpiece can set the tone of any holiday table or buffet table. If you have a buffet or side table, add decorations there too. Here are some suggestions.

Fall Flower Arrangement
You can choose fresh flowers or plants – particularly in yellow, orange, brown or bronze colors – and add greenery or fall grasses to the fresh flowers. Alternately, you can make an arrangement that you can use year after year from silk flowers and foliage in a vase, basket or cornucopia. Add a complementary bow and you are all set.

Pumpkins, Gourds, and Indian Corn
You can make a beautiful fall arrangement by setting out some miniature pumpkins and ears of Indian corn on your table or sideboard. Look for yellow, red, multicolored and purple varieties of corn for an authentic Thanksgiving feel. Scatter them across your dining table or arrange them in a bowl for a nice centerpiece. And of course, there is nothing more gorgeous than a range of gourds. Keep them in a cool place and they can last for ages.

Candles and Seasonal Items
Candles always add a warm feel to a room. Pair them with displays of acorns, chestnuts and mini pumpkins.

Decorate or Paint Pumpkins
Painting pumpkins with a design can be great fun and result in some unique decorations. Acrylic craft paints, found in all craft stores and craft sections of other stores work well. Or you can choose or make stencils and spray paint them. Here’s some more information about painting pumpkins. Ehow – Painting Pumpkins

Hopefully, these ideas have inspired you to do some fall/Thanksgiving decorating.

If you are interested in additional fall decor items, go to this Amazon link to shop or just to get more ideas:  Fall Decor Items

Enjoy this season before the December holidays begin! It’s a lovely time of year.

I’m Carol Brusegar, author, photographer and curator of information. My focus is on gathering and writing on topics that enhance all our lives – regardless of our age. Topics include health and wellness, personal development, innovation and creativity, and a variety of helpful, practical tools and practices. I have a special interest in helping people over 50 years of age to create their 3rd Age – the next stage of their lives – to be the best it can be.

Follow me on Twitter!     Follow me on Instagram!   Follow me on Pinterest!

Follow me on Facebook!         Visit my Etsy Shop!

 

 

Celebrate and Enjoy Autumn

No matter what the year has been like up to this point, I hope that all of us will celebrate and enjoy autumn! Various polls over the years have indicated that the season most cited as “favorite” is autumn/fall. There are a variety of reasons for this: relief from extreme heat, beautiful fall colors as leaves turn, return to school and fall schedules, the multiple holidays of the season, and more. Even in this most unusual year, there are reasons to celebrate and enjoy this time of the year. And perhaps it’s even more important than ever to do that.

A part of taking care of ourselves when there is much uncertainty and stress at many levels is to find and create ways to relax and renew our bodies and minds. It can be alone or with loved ones.  We often think of self-care as routines and practices. In addition to those, identify and choose some activities outside of your normal daily and weekly patterns. Here are a few autumn-specific ideas to celebrate and enjoy autumn.

Enjoy Nature in All its Autumn Glory

One excellent thing to do in the fall is to enjoy nature. Wherever you are located, the change of seasons is evident. It is more subtle visually in some areas than others, but changes are everywhere. If you are fortunate enough to live in or be close enough for a visit, the annual changing of leaf colors in some parts of the country are certainly worth a drive. Taking photos of the beauty and sharing and/or printing them for display are ways to bring enjoyment to yourself and others. Here’s a link to a fall foliage map for 2020 where you can see by date, through November, where the colors will be best. Fall Foliage Map 2021

Engage Friends in a Virtual Activity

As we continue to demonstrate caution in interacting with others during the pandemic, our creativity is our best ally. Choose an activity, set a time and guidelines, and invite friends and loved ones to participate. Use Zoom, Google Meet, or other group platforms to gather at the appointed time to share the results.

Here are some options; add any that you think of.

  • Pumpkin carving or decorating (paint, glitter, etc.) – have each participant prepare ahead of time and share the results, or connect on your virtual platform for a specified period of time to do the carving or decorating together.
  • Share a favorite family recipe that you especially enjoy in the autumn. Show both the prepared item and have a recipe to email.
  • Autumn wreath making – send out suggestions of materials to gather ahead of time and make the wreaths at the same time while connected on your virtual platform.
  • Share ideas for adding autumn scents to your home – invite people to share and possibly demonstrate their favorite ways they do this. (candle or oil scents they love, potpourri they put together, etc.)

Visit a Local Apple Orchard

Most apple orchards and pumpkin patches have adapted their offerings to make them safe for participants this year. Check ahead of time to make sure you are comfortable with them. In some cases you can pick apples, in other cases you will be able to walk through the orchard and choose apples to sample and buy. There are usually apple treats to take home, and perhaps recipes to make at home. To find apple orchards in your area, go to the Pick Your Own Website at http://www.pickyourown.org/  I wrote specifically about enjoying a trip to an apple orchard in a previous post:  Take a Trip to an Apple Orchard

Head to the Pumpkin Patch

Grocery and other stores offer pumpkins for purchase and it’s so handy to just pick up what you want there. But why not go to an actual pumpkin patch? Many cities and towns have big pumpkin patches where you can walk around and look at all the various sizes and shapes of pumpkins to pick out your favorite ones. Besides those for carving and/or decorating, purchase some of the varieties that are best for baking or cooking and experiment with fresh pumpkin recipes at home. There’s an added bonus at a pumpkin patch – it’s a great opportunity for some photos with pumpkin backgrounds with the family.

Have a Fall Picnic

Identify a place where you can enjoy the fall weather and scenes and pack a simple picnic lunch. If you want to try outdoor exercise, you can do some hiking too. Or you could picnic in your own back yard. If you have a fire pit or grill to use, roast hot dogs and marshmallows. Marshmallows = S’mores for many of us; add the graham crackers and chocolate for that favorite treat.

There are many things we can do to celebrate and enjoy autumn and still keep ourselves and our families safe. Make some plans now and have a great time. Here’s a link to a free instant download of a Fall Bucket List form to use as you plan. Fall Bucket List 

Here’s a great tool to help you dream about and plan daytrips and mini-vacations throughout the year:

Planner & Journal For Day Trips, Getaways and Mini-Vacations

 

I’m Carol Brusegar, author, photographer and curator of information. My focus is on gathering and writing on topics that enhance all our lives – regardless of our age. Topics include health and wellness, personal development, innovation and creativity, and a variety of helpful, practical tools and practices. I have a special interest in helping people over 50 years of age to create their 3rd Age – the next stage of their lives – to be the best it can be.           

Follow me on Twitter!  Follow me on Instagram!  Follow me on Pinterest! 

Follow me on Facebook!    Visit my Etsy Shop!

 

Using Planners and Journals to Make Fall/Autumn Most Enjoyable

Autumn treeNow that we are into a new season, it is a good time to reflect on your regular routine and what you anticipate in the coming few months. Even if you have not used a daily planner before, now is a great time to start creation a fall journal and planner routine.

Fall truly is the season of comfort and change. The weather gets cooler, and you want to get warmer and cozier in your daily life. The kids are back in school, with all their homework, activities and projects. You have things you want to accomplish before the end of the year. This is also the time of year when people like to meet up with family and friends, read and write more, practice gratitude, and spend more time relaxing.

There is so much going on! Using a fall journal and planner routine can make it all much more manageable so that you can do what’s important to you and your family and enjoy it more.

Journaling in the Fall

If you are new to journaling, you might not be aware of how beneficial this simple practice can be. Or maybe you are just not sure what types of things to journal. Here are some ideas, specifically for this season of the year.

  • Use Fall Journaling Prompts – Prompts are suggested topics or questions that give you ideas of what to write about. To download a list of 25 fall-inspired prompts, go here: http://carolbrusegar.com/falljournalingprompts
  • Write What You are Thankful for – You can also journal about what you are thankful for each day during the fall season, which is wonderful for creating a positive mindset.
  • Write About Your Year So Far – Look back to the beginning of the year and note what you have accomplished so far this year, and what you want to finish or get done by the end of the year.

Using a Daily Planner in the Fall

In addition to journaling, use a planner every day during your new daily routine. Break down your larger projects or goals into weekly and daily tasks. Schedule events and activities that you and your family want to do – visits to pick apples in an apple orchard, participating in some Thanksgiving activity that benefits others, road trip to see the changing leaves, etc. Use a Fall Bucket List to brainstorm and select ideas to pursue and schedule. Read more about this here: http://carolbrusegar.com/autumn-pleasures-and-treasures/make-a-fall-bucket-list/ You can download a sample Fall Bucket List form there.

Day trips and getaways can be part of your fall plans. This Planner and Journal for Day Trips, Getaways and Mini-Vacations can be a helpful tool for this season and all year long!

Setting Up Your Holiday Plans

Use your planner and journal to prepare for the holidays of the fall through the end of the year. Here are some topics to consider:

  • Halloween party plans or costumes
  • Activities to do with your kids during the fall
  • Menu options for Thanksgiving and other holiday plans
  • Deciding on activities during Thanksgiving break
  • December priorities leading up to Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or any other holidays you celebrate
  • Plans for those holidays

End-of-Year Goals
Start it simple by adding in some end-of-year goals, then a schedule of when you would like to achieve these goals. Make a list of tasks to be completed, being as specific as you can so you stay on track.

I hope you will try this and will find value as we move into a very busy time of year.