Thursday, October 24, 2013

31 Days to a Happier Life - Day 24

Today is our 15th Wedding Anniversary!

And our 21st year together.

Through hard times, and the struggles...

Through fun adventures, and hopeful endeavours...

Through heartbreak, and promises fulfilled...

Through strong faith and a steadfast commitment...

                  ...we have endured and continue to grow together.

I pray we always listen.

I pray we always talk.

I pray we always consider the bigger picture, before ourselves.

I love this quote he sent me awhile back...seems perfect for us. So, today we celebrate.

{this is from his email}:

made me think of us…

“I’m going to tell you something really subverse. Love is everything it’s cracked up to be. That’s why people are so cynical about it… It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, and risking everything for. And if you don’t risk everything, you risk even more.”

- Erica Jong

Today is also my late mother-in-law's birthday - we miss her so much! The girls were really young when she passed, but still remember her. We strengthen their memory of her by talking about her often, retelling stories, looking at photos, so she is never far from our thoughts. She is still a strong thread in the daily weave of our lives. And her name lives on in my youngest daughter.

So today, Nana, we celebrate your birthday too. xxxooo


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

31 Days to a Happier Life - Day 23

One half of the room is organized and pretty!

Other half to go.

I can feel my anxiety level go down and can breathe a little better!

Still more to go - will post pics when I'm done.


Here are a few sneak peeks :)

31 Days to a Happier Life - Day 22

Having a hard time catching up. Trying to work on implementing some of  my post items in our life.

Today, I'm tackling this!! UGGHHHH......

I have realized that this mess is taking a lot of time away from my family, especially from the girls. It has become my excuse each day NOT to do other activities:

    "No, we can't go to the Pumpkin Patch today because I need to clean my office."

    "No, we can't make the craft today, because I need to clean up my desk."

Well, enough is enough! It is going to be hard, but I HAVE TO DO IT!

So, today and tomorrow, this mess will be conquered!!

And that will make us all happy!

Monday, October 21, 2013

31 Days to a Happier Life - Day 21

Looking good.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. True. But it also feels good to look good. Getting out of my sweatpants and into jeans and a nice shirt makes me feel like I have made a little extra effort to look nicer. Not just for me, but for my husband, for my kids, for anyone else who sees me. So, most days I will try to make a little effort to look nice (at some point in the day - hehehe).

There are lots of people who do the What-I-Wore-Wednesday blog posts. Some work, some stay at home, some are casual, some beautifully fashionable. One that I really like (because it is more my style) is The Pleated Poppy' s What I Wore. Another one (more stylish and exclusively just fashion-related) is Rachel Parcell's Pink Peonies. Both worth checking out.

I think it helps to have some inspiration to look to when you want to dress. I know the last thing on my mind is what I'm going to wear tomorrow. After dinner, and getting the kids in bed, and tiding up, and 5 minutes to myself, I pretty exhausted. So having a little inspiration always helps.

Any time I see an outfit I like, or reminds me of something I could pull together from my own wardrobe, I save it. Check out my pinterest boards for different season fashion - Autumn, Winter, Spring, Summer. Lots of fun outfits to draw inspiration from. And it has really helped me pick up my game in the fashion department.

You don't have to spend a fortune on your wardrobe. Find things that fit your budget and lifestyle. Add items when you can. A new scarf can do wonders to any outfit, and are not that expensive. TJ Maxx, Ross, Marshalls, Target are all good options too. Don't be afraid to mix and match items from new and old. Cool vintage pieces from secondhand store or ebay will really show your personality.

But most of all have fun!

Some of my What-I-Wore...

31 Days to a Happier Life - Day 20

Being pretty. Part 2.

In the last post we discussed being pretty on the inside, and how that radiates outwards to make you beautiful on the outside. An all important issue, especially these days when confidence in our kids is hitting an all time low. All kids need to be made to feel special, and loved, and beautiful. Think about their strong points and highlight them regularly. My youngest is so sweet and says the sweetest, kindest things to me that make me feel so loved. So I tell her she is the sweetest kid in the world. My oldest is a great helper, and such a good kid. So I tell her she is my best helper ever, and is such a good example to her little sister. It makes them so happy to hear such things, and makes them want to do it more.

It is important to highlight each others good features. To talk about them. Compliment them. Reinforce them, often. It makes the recipient feel good about themselves. Makes them feel confident in who they are, and makes them feel loved.

It is often the one thing that goes overlooked. Think about it in these terms - What is my husband good at? What is his best personality feature? This week, I'm going to think about him, write down a list of good things about him, and pick out a few to compliment him on. It will make him feel good, loved and thought about, and it will bring my focus back to someone I love. 

Then, the next week, it could be your sister, or your Mom, or your best friend. I think it would be fun to pick one person each week to focus on, do something special for (maybe write them a sweet note, or send a little gift, or call to tell them you really appreciate their...?? whatever).

Spread the beauty.

Spread the love.

31 Days to a Happier Life - Day 19

Being pretty.

Being pretty is more than how we look, it is also how we look at the world, and at other people. If we show grace, and kindness, and manners, then it doesn't matter if our hair is messy or our clothes don't match. It is the beauty of what is on the inside that will shine out and light up our world.

Life is not a popularity contest, or a beauty contest. God loves us all the same.

I always tell my girls that they are beautiful, but being beautiful on the inside is way more important than being beautiful on the outside. They are "beautiful on the inside" when they show kindness, and are understanding and compassionate. This beauty isn't gene-based, it is being-raised-right-based. Anyone, anywhere, at anytime can show this kind of beauty. You don't need the right jeans, or shoes, or makeup, just the right attitude.

When the girls go somewhere to play I always remind them to look for the kids no one is playing with and invite them to play with you. Sometimes other people are shy, just like you, so they will need an extra hand to help them feel included and loved.

Being pretty on the inside makes me a lot happier than focusing on being pretty on the outside. People with a welcoming smile, a kind gentle manner are always the type of person I look up to.

I hope I raise two sweet, kind, curtiuos girls, who will be accepting of everyone, hopefully be leading by example. As a shy person, I find it really hard to break out of my shell, but for them I try extra hard.

When my youngest tells me I'm so much prettier without makeup, I know I'm on the right track :)

Friday, October 18, 2013

31 Days to a Happier Life - Day 18

Today, I exercised - yeah!

Today, I had lunch with a friend, while the kids played together = happy!

Today, I did two loads of washing, and cleaned the lounge room - lovely.

Today, I helped out another friend.

Today, I sat and talked to my kids...and we laughed = beautiful moments.

Today, I put up some beautiful art in my lovely clean, organized closet - so pretty.

Today was a great day, which makes me happy.

Joy - from Etsy shop The Wheatfield by Katie Daisy

31 Days to a Happier Life - Day 17

Expanding the mind.

As well as reading, learning new things or skills is a great way to exercise the mind. Pick things you are interested in and find out more about them.

The internet is an amazing tool. It helps you explore the world from your own desk. There are heaps of lectures on you tube, and about one million blogs with awesome tutorials out there ready for you to discover.

When I read a difficult book, say The Odyssey for example, I always search online for an overview and a couple of video lectures that help support and explain the themes of the book. With this extra material I gain so much more out of the book than I would have on my own. It is really worth the extra time to expand your knowledge and gain extra insights that will enhance your learning experience.

Always strive to learn more. Our favorite saying in our business, and in our house, is "Google it!". If there is something you don't know then google it - the answer is out there, but first you have to look for it. The normal excuse of "I don't know" is no longer applicable.

We use Google for the girls too. They will come to me with a question, like "What noise does a moose make?", or "How do I draw a lassie dog?". And off we go to the computer to find out. How awesome it that. Take advantage of this amazing technology.

Pick a subject and explore.

Head off into your own adventure - no passport needed :)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

31 Days to a Happier Life - Day 16

We have exercised our bodies, now it is time to exercise our minds.

Reading a book, learning a new craft or skill, learning about different cultures, expanding our horizons or gaining more in-depth knowledge of things that interest us, all help to exercise our mind and add value to our life.

Let's take reading for example. When we read a book we are learning and being entertained at the same time. We absorb it more than if we were to just watch the movie of the novel. The words speak to us. There is more room in a book to expand characters, to divulge more detail. There is more space to cultivate the setting. And we tend to retain more from reading. We may pick up new words, or new ways of expressing a feeling, or a beautiful way to describe the night sky, or the way coffee tastes.

Reading takes us on the author's path into our own imagination. It is the perfect blend of the author's words and our pictures. We can imagine how our hero looks, or how he talks, or that battle scene's details by using the words as a tool like paint. We use the words to paint our own picture.

Sometimes the words themselves are the picture - they flow like honey in our mind, and enrich our life forever.

You can always think of your favorite book. Whether it be from your childhood, or a recent discovery. They stick. They may even change you - how you think about a situation, a person, a culture, an event.

Now, there is a big difference in the types of books you read - popular novels of today may make the best seller list and make the most profit, but do these types of books provide any real benefit to our mind, to our imagination, and to our society?

Edie Wadsworth of LifeInGrace has an excellent post about one such popular novel - it is worth a read, and definitely highlights my main reason why I only read literature - there are so many wonderful amazing brilliant books out there to read, that I wouldn't want to waste my (very small, especially valuable) time reading a book that adds no value to my life.

Reading also helps us slow down. In this fast-paced world we need time to re-group, to focus, to meditate. Reading, or learning a new skill, is an excellent way to focus. We are barraged with images, and noise, and things to do, and things to look at, and decisions to make all day, everyday. No wonder it is so hard to focus these days, and for our kids to focus at school. We have taken the focus away from reading and replaced it with visual stimuli - with a flash of images, all too fast to absorb with any real effect, or advantage to our developing mind.

Reading gives us a break. Calms the mind.

Nana reading to the girls.
At the end of the day, right before dinner, when the witching hour is upon us (and the kids are running around like crazy), I stop them, separate them, and tell them to read. It is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. The transformation is truly incredible. They both sit, and are quiet, and they read. They get lost in their book, and when dinner is ready they are calm and ready to sit down to a family dinner. It is a beautiful thing.

I am currently on a classic kick. It started with Homer's The Odyssey, and I am currently reading Ovid's Metamorphosis. With a few more in between, this has been a wonderful, challenging year of reading. Some I just could not get through (Plato's The Republic), but plan to revisit. Some are on my most-favorite-books-ever-list (The Odyssey) and will be ones that I will re-read. I have also speckled in a few lighter reads in there to break up the denseness of classic literature (especially over summer).

I try to read every night. Sometimes it doesn't quite work out, but when you have the right book bedtime becomes even more enjoyable. It makes me want to wrap things up, get cozy in bed and read (at least for 30 minutes). It also has a lovely side effect - it takes your day's worries and makes them disappear. It replaces them with the beautiful images of the novel, and lets you fall to sleep with a more peaceful mind.

Give it a try :)

Happiness Links

Great Article - why reading is imporatnt.

Book Designs - geek cool!

Dream space - number one on my list for next house...or maybe this one too.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

31 Days to a Happier Life - Day 15


Celebrate events in your life - like birthdays, and new babies, and anniversaries. They are important.

New Bike.

It seems like these days that no one really celebrates this stuff anymore. A new baby comes along and everyone is like ho-hum about it. Do you know how hard it is to make a baby??!! Babies are amazing and should be celebrated and showered with love. And the baby's parents should be congratulated. It IS a big deal! A new life for this little being. A new adventure for this little (or big) family. It is a true blessing, for sure.

Celebrate birthdays! Today is my little sister's birthday. We gave her a present (hopefully Mum remembered to give it to her!). The girls made a sweet birthday video for her. And I sent her a lovely message (although she may not have thought it was that lovely since I outed her age...oops...she still loves me). We just wish we could actually be there to give her a big hug, bake her a cake, and see her face as she unwrapped our present. But we still celebrated.

Celebrate anniversaries. First dates. Wedding anniversaries. Engagements.

Celebrate Valentine's Day (you don't have to buy anything) - it is just a good day to celebrate love.

Celebrate Sundays, and first days of work.

Celebrate graduations and academic achievements.

Celebrate a new house, a new puppy, a new car.

The little things matter. The big things matter.

As soon as you stop letting them mean anything, everything stops meaning anything, and life becomes one big drag, with no ups, nothing to look forward to, or no unexpected surprises.

We celebrate because it is an expression of love. And to have love we need to share love. So show the people we love that we care enough to celebrate their triumphs, their achievements, because they matter to them.

So let things matter, and celebrate them.

Monday, October 14, 2013

31 Days to a Happier Life - Day 14

I am sitting at my desk, the blinds are open, and I'm watching the rain fall.

This beautiful. soft, earth-drenching rain.

We have been waiting for 3 days for this rain. It has been raining to the north of us. It has been flooding to the south of us. For 3 days we have had gloomy skies. Little sprinkles. Now, it is raining. So thankful for this rain.

3 days of gloomy skies does something to you. For me, it makes me slow down, and nest. It makes me want to sleep in, and cuddle with my girls. It makes me want more coffee! It makes me want to read. Just sit and read.

It is not cold enough yet to curl up under a blanket, but we still do (just turn the a/c down a little lower).

When I was younger I used to love walking in the rain (with an umbrella of course - I'm not that crazy). It was always so quiet, and peaceful. It was a beautiful time to think and dream. And to really see. It makes you slow down and really see.

Today, I'm not depressed, nor sad, nor grumpy. I'm grateful.

Grateful for the rain we are finally receiving - we desperately need it.

Grateful it has given me the chance to catch-up on things at home.

Grateful it has slowed us down, even if it is just for a few days.

Being grateful is sometimes easy. And sometimes it is something we forget.

In the everyday workings of our life it is easy to forget to give thanks for all the good things you have in your life. Then a reminder will come - a news story of suffering, and unexpected bonus, or something someone says.

But really we need a constant reminder to be thankful - whether it be through an early morning devotion, or saying grace at dinner.

We are blessed, and loved, beyond compare.

As we sit here in our nice house, we always laugh about where we came from - our first place we lived in was a converted fire station's garage in an inner city suburb. It was cold, and damp (roommate actually had mushrooms grow out of her carpet once - true story!!) and there was nothing pretty about it. But we were surrounded by great friends, and have lots of great memories from there. And it makes us ever so much more grateful for what we have now.

Be grateful for today.

For the small things...and the big things.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

31 Days to a Happier Life - Day 13


Yesterday's post was about healthy eating, so it is only natural that today's post is about fitness.

Move it or lose it!

Move it and lose it!!

via Pinterest
 I know finding the motivation is hard...because I find it hard too. But it is something that will make you feel so good you will never regret doing it.

via Pinterest

I need to keep on track. I need to make sure I do something everyday. Even if your something is walking for half an hour - that is something! That little something will lead to a bigger something, and soon it will make you feel great, and make you wan to keep it going.

Motivation is hard though. But you have to tackle it, knock it on its head. And you will prevail. Just be strong.

via Pinterest 

Exercising makes me happy - whether it is walking with my family (or doing or regular team race home - little one and I won tonight! Woop! Woop!), or doing yoga, or sweating it out to a dvd, I always feel better (and better about myself) after a good exercise session.

You will too :)

31 Days to a Happier Life - Day 12

A big part of personal happiness is your health. If you are healthy you are more likely to be happier. Less worry, less stress, less pain.

As part of my new meal planning strategy we are also incorporating more healthy choices. Less take-away/junk food and more healthy meals. Lots of fresh veggies (we grow a lot ourselves), a little meat (mostly from hunter hubby) and lots of fruit, some grains and dairy. We try for a balanced diet, especially since we have two growing girls. They need lots of high energy food, good brain food, and lots of growing food.

Home grown veggies.
My eldest could eat eggs and meat all day long, if you let her. My little one could eat candy all day. Each one is different. But both a pretty good at eating their veggies when they have to :)

Pastured Organic Eggs.

I remember growing up with dinner at the table every night with all me family (plus my Grandma who lived next door). And after we had finished our dinner we would get dessert! Usually something delicious thing made by my Grandma, like rice pudding, or stewed rhubarb, or a pie, or bread and butter pudding. If nothing else, we would have ice cream and fruit. But it was pretty much a staple - eat all your dinner, and you will get dessert.

Fruit Kebabs for School Snack.

We still maintain the "Eat all your dinner!" rule, but rarely have dessert. My husband and I really do not have a sweet tooth, so it rarely occurs to us to have dessert. Now, with the girls, we may have it more often, but no more than twice a week.

Best Salad EVER! Spinach, cucumber, apples, pecans and Hubby's special salad dressing.

My husband has become the chef-extraordinaire of desserts - he can whip up something delicious out of nothing. Chocolate and strawberries, banana splits, coke-floats. It is interesting to see what he comes up with, and it always delights the girls.

Homemade Vegetarian Pizza - oh, I LOVE this.
I find cooking rather tedious, but I'm trying hard to get more excited by actually doing it. Even though I find it a little boring to do, I actually LOVE to collect recipes! Weird, huh? But I have started collecting recipes and keeping them in folders for easy reference. Ones that work out great, that everyone likes and was easy to make, get saved back into the file. The ones that are a FAIL, get recycled. Now we have a nice collection of good recipes that can be easily referenced, slotted into weekly meal plan, and I know will be well received. That makes my job a lot easier.

Happiness Links

Real Food - great site for real family, real food solutions. Also LOVE her school lunch ideas - I use them all the time.

Friday, October 11, 2013

31 Days to a Happier Life - Day 11

Words from Ann Voskamp echo in my head and settle in my heart.

          Doesn’t all the hurry makes us hurt? 

          Slow never killed time. It’s the the rushing and racing, the trying to catch up, this is what kills 
          time — ourselves.
          Why in the world do we keep wounding ourselves?

          Life is not an emergency.

All this pressure to do things right, to do them now, to get it all done, to be everything to everyone are overwhelming. Always feeling like I'm underachieving. My heart racing as I think about Fall - got to decorate, make pies, make memories. Then I start thinking about Christmas and November and all the things I want to do to prepare, and it all comes crashing down.

Too much.

I need space. And lots of it. Mental, physical, spiritual space - time to think, and dream, and breathe.

Without space I'm likely to crack, to stop dead in my tracks, to fall off this speeding train. And I no long function.

I need space to replenish, rejuvenate, to focus.

I need space to listen.

And I realize now, that taking this time is crucial to my happiness. I can fall into a rut quicker than you can push me in. The pressure I put on myself is triple any you can put on me, but yours always adds to mine. Always. Sometimes you have to relent. Sometimes you have to give me space. Sometimes you have to think before you speak. Sometimes it is better not to say anything at all.

Just give me space.