Lifestyle

housewarming gift ideas

Housewarming Gifts Ideas

Did you know that summer is one of the busiest times for moves?  It seems a lot of people are buying and selling homes this time of year.  Of course with a new home comes the much anticipated housewarming party and the gifts that go along with it.

housewarming

Origins of the Housewarming Party

The idea of a housewarming party can be traced back to France with the intention of literally warming the home. It’s often thought that the bringing together of friends and family helps to rid the once empty home of “evil spirits” and provide warmth to for the new homeowners. Guests would bestow gifts on the homeowners, ranging from firewood  to  burden baskets, thought to keep ones burdens from entering the home.

Fast forward to today and housewarming parties are still quite popular. Gift ideas have been elevated from firewood to more useful items like personalized planter boxes, or items for the bar.  I’ve picked out a few of my favorite gift ideas in hopes of inspiring your next housewarming gift purchase.

housewarming gift ideas

1. Personalized Ceramic pot sourced from ATGStores
2. Pedestal Hurricane Candle Holders sourced from Pier One
3. Marble Coasters sourced from Williams and Sonoma
4. Kubu Basket sourced from Pier One
5. Slate Cheese Board sourced from Williams and Sonoma

One trick I like to employ is buying a basket or a planter and filling it with useful items, like candles, fancy dish towels, and luxury hand soap similar to what you can pick up at Bath at Body Works.  Often times I find unique options at HomeGoods, Marshall’s  or TJ Maxx.

All of these are priced under $100.00 and a few are less than $50.00.  As with any gift purchase think of it as something you would like the receiver to have, rather than something they want. If it’s something they have asked for it’s a present.

reasons to buy flowers

Ten reasons to buy yourself fresh flowers

Flowers are affectionately called Vitamin F and rightly so.  They make everything a little brighter, cheerier and beautiful.  They are a healthy dose of happiness wrapped up in pretty colors and patterns.  It’s long been known that receiving flowers boosts our moods, but what researchers didn’t know was that living with fresh flowers also had a positive impact on our well-being. If you ever needed a reason to buy yourself flowers, I have ten reasons for you.

ten reasons to buy yourself flowers

As Dr. Haviland-Jones, researcher for Rutgers University, said, “Flowers bring about positive feelings in those that enter a room. They make a space more welcoming and create a sharing atmosphere.”  I couldn’t agree more.

flowers by the bedside

Spark Joy

Flowers add a positive boost to your morning routine. The morning blahs, it turns out, are real with happiness, warmth and friendliness may emerging later in the day. Instead of waking up grumpy, nip it in bud by placing small bouquets in the bathroom, on your nightstand or in the kitchen. Researchers found that by placing blooms in the middle of a morning routine, they would spark of joy lasting the rest of the day.  In most cases, others will adopt your cheery mood in what scientists refer to as mood contagion. Is there a better way to spread joy?

Inspire Neatness

One study discovered flowers placed where clutter tends to collect inspire neatness. Flowers are a thing of beauty and, well, clutter is unattractive.  Of course, if there were an option to look at pretty petals instead of paper piles, most of us would pick pretty petals.  I know I would be inclined to keep the clutter out of the space.

flowers increase compassion

Flowers Feed Compassion

In today’s climate of division and intolerance, it’s nice to know that people living with live fresh cut flowers have reported an increase in feelings of compassion and kindness toward others.  It seems we could all benefit from a few fresh flowers in our homes.

Improves Emotional Connections

Flowers in the home improve our emotional connections to family. When there are pretty flowers in the house for the whole family to see, everyone benefits. Happiness, compassion and understanding strengthen our bonds, improving our relationships.

Increase Energy
Flowers are happy rays of beauty that seem to increase energy in those around them.  People in the studies reported having increased energy from daily exposure to fresh flowers.  The effect also carried over to their lives at work.  They all seemed to have more enthusiasm and energy.

Reduces Depression and Anxiety
Study participants reported that they had fewer episodes of depression and anxiety after spending just a few days with fresh flowers in their home.  They felt less negative, more hopeful and positive.  “ As a psychologist, I’m particularly intrigued to find people who live with flowers report fewer episodes of anxiety and depressed feelings. Our results suggest that flowers have a positive impact on our well –being,”says Nancy Etcoff, PH.D., researcher with the joint Massachusetts General and Harvard Medical study.

Improve Well Being
It’s scientifically proven that flowers increase happiness and improve wellbeing. One study, notes that patients in rooms filled with flowers responded more positively to treatment, and had lower pain, fatigue, and anxiety ratings along with more positive feelings compared to those in a control group.  Imagine what the effect of flowers would be on a healthy person.

flowers boost creativity

Improves Creativity & Problem Solving

Here’s some good news for those of us that work from home.  Studies show having flowers in your work space increases creativity and improves problem-solving skills.  I am on board with that!  I love having fresh flowers in my home office, and other rooms of the house.

You Deserve Them 

The best reason of all to buy yourself fresh flowers is that you deserve them.  You deserve to have a vase of flowers in every room of your home.  Nothing, in my opinion, is more of a pick-me-up than flowers. The simple act of stopping by the flower cart at Whole Foods is euphoric, at least it is for me.

These studies make a darn good argument for keeping fresh flowers in your house. The best part is adopting the tradition doesn’t have to cost the farm.  You can plant a cut garden, or find great deals at the grocery store.  Picking wildflowers won’t cost a thing, just be careful if family members have allergies. Some wild flowers could induce a bad case of hay fever, and nobody will happy then.

gratitude

Gratitude

Gratitude is one of those things that takes so little time, but offers huge rewards.  All it takes is a few minutes each day to reflect on the small things in your life you are thankful for.

I’ve practiced gratitude on and off for a few years now, and I’ve learned the more consistent you are the better.  I’ve noticed that I am happier, and good things happen when I am grateful for the little things.  I also roll more easily with the lumps and bumps life can send at you.  When I am lax in my gratitude, my disposition is a bit more ornery,  I am less at ease with disappointments and much more prone to stress.

My experiences aren’t a fluke. Studies have found that being thankful what we have in our lives gives impacts our health in positive ways, letting us weather the storms we face better. Robert Emmons, the father of “positive psychology”, has spent years looking at how gratitude affects our health and well-being.  He found six commonalities between that people who practice gratitude on a regular.

Benefits of Gratitude

Emmons defines gratitude as ones attitude toward themselves and the outside world. Those that practice it are more likely to have a positive attitude and relate more positively to the world around them while recognizing the positives in their own lives. It gives them the ability to weather life’s challenges with a smile rather than a frown. Gratitude forces our attention outside of our own sphere.

Gratitude gives us the opportunity to appreciate what we have in our lives. It’s not always about the material possessions, but how we feel about the material possessions. One study found that billionaires in Japan and the impoverished in India both saw their lives as miserable, illustrating that it’s not what you have but your attitude to what you have that matters.  Finding gratitude in the everyday of our lives let’s us be at peace and find joy.

One of the best ways to practice gratitude is to keep a journal. I spend ten minutes every morning with a cup of coffee, my  journal and my favorite pen.  I try to jot down at least ten things that I am grateful for each day.  Finding ten can be a challenge, so I’ll let myself get bay with five, if I am really pressed.

gratitude

Another trick I’ve used that is really fun, is to write one thing down each night on a pretty piece of scrap paper with the days’ date and toss it into a large glass jar. What you write down can be something you are grateful for or it can be one amazing thing that happened to you that day.  At the end of the year, you can go through the bits and pieces and  reflect on how awesome you year has been.

I challenge you to start adopting an attitude of gratitude. It is humbling, and well worth the effort.

wendy_kevin

How we met

Sometimes that perfect first date turns into the last first date you will ever have. That’s exactly what happened to us 24 years ago today.  I quietly pursued him for a month before he got the hint and asked me out to dinner. We were in college and dinner dates then usually meant some chain restaurant, but not this time.

He took me to a five star restaurant, where men wore jackets and ties and women dressed too.  He actually called me a few days before to let me know he would be wearing a jacket, just so I had a heads up to dress up for the evening too.  Call me impressed. Honestly, that was the type of restaurant I was accustom too, and that’s not to say I was or am a snob, it’s just family dinners out were usually five star affairs.

The restaurant was an old house converted to a restaurant and popular with Monday Night Football announcers. We were a few minutes early and waited in the bar. I recall being in awe of how beautiful the place was. Let’s face it, I am a sucker for pretty wallpaper, original wood finishes, and beautiful details. As I stood there taking it all in, he leaned over and kissed me gently on the cheek. It was very sweet and my fondest memory of the evening.

We talked all night, at dinner and back at my dorm room. We just clicked.

Two days later, back in class, things were a tad awkward. Neither of us knew why, though. The next day we went to grab a bite after class and haven’t been apart since.  The strange awkwardness was gone.

It wasn’t until a few weeks later that I found out he had spotted me in class the day before I met him in another class we had together. He pointed me out to a friend and said, “See that girl in the front, I bet I could date her”.  At our wedding I told that same friend “See that guy over there, I bet I could marry him”.

Since then we have had many adventures together.  We packed up our lives in Massachusetts and moved to Florida with nothing lined up but a place to live. We explored Key West, St. Augustine, and Yellowstone. We’ve been camping and white water rafting. We have helped great causes together, and found our shared creative outlets.  We’ve met wonderful people from diverse backgrounds that have enriched our lives.  We’ve had our share of ups and downs but always weathered the storms together.  Every day is an adventure.

Tonight, I am making us a wonderful dinner with a decadent dessert to celebrate 24 years of friendship and love.  Here’s to 24 more…..

Coloring – It’s not just for kids

* sponsored post: Skyhorse Publishing gave me two of their newest titles to review.

Coloring had always been a favorite past time of mine.  As a child, I would get lost with my crayons and a collection of coloring books.  I would carefully color each page with a thoughtfully chosen color. Even as I grew up, I would find myself lying on the floor with my much younger cousins coloring away with them.  So when adult coloring books came on the stage in 2013, I wasn’t surprised by their popularity.

There is certain nostalgia about coloring, perhaps it takes us back to our childhoods and simpler times without the pressure of plugging in to every digital device.  Whatever its allure it is a booming business and all the rage among adults.  Five of the top selling books on Amazon are adult coloring books. Barnes and Nobel carries over one hundred titles from which to choose.  Once the bloggers start writing about it, it just takes off like wild fire. For some time now, I have seen blog article after blog article of women sharing their love of adult coloring.  The Huffington Post has even featured its own articles espousing the benefits of adult coloring.

When I discovered the hobby back in the early spring while wandering Michael’s Crafts, I had no idea it was so immensely popular it was.  While children’s coloring books tell a story, adult coloring books allow one to become an artist, in a manner of speaking.  Adult coloring books are a series of themed black and white patterns offering a myriad of color options based solely on your imagination. The choice of patterns is wide ranging with the most popular being paisley, and mandala.

skyhorsepublishing_coloring

Whimsical Designs

I am a fan of paisley patterns but I am always willing to try another designs.  It seems with over two thousand titles on the market there will be plenty of books to check out too.  Right now, I am enjoying Skyhorse Publishing’s Whimsical Designs. They call it “a fun anti-stress coloring book” and they’d be right.

Whimsical Designs is one of twelve titles Skyhorse Publishing recently added to their already popular titles featuring mandala and paisley motifs.  Each of the new titles features 46 black and white designs on single sided perforated paper.  I love that removing each design from the book makes it easier to color. Trying to color with a binding in the way is not meditative, but frustrating.

When I started coloring, I never thought that psychologists touted the practice of coloring as therapeutic. Some suggest coloring with a premade design helps alleviate anxiety, while others say it’s a a form of meditation. Clinical psychologist Kimberly Wulfert of EverydayHealth.com says, “In coloring, you’re being mindful, and when you move in a rhythmic fashion for an extended period of time, that becomes a meditation.”

For me the act of coloring helps quiet the “noise” in my head, returns me to my center after a hectic day and eases my stress.  I have actually discovered that the adult coloring helps me focus on one thing at a time and keeps my ADHD brain in check. I find it’s a great way to wind my day down before bedtime.