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7 Cheap & Exciting Things to Do This 4th of July

4th of July

The 4th of July is right around the corner, and that means it’s time to break out those summer activities! Whether you plan to celebrate on the 4th this year or the weekend before, there are tons of cheap and fun options for making the most out of our independence day.

So, without further ado, here are seven cheap and exciting things you can do to celebrate our country this summer!

1. Host a BBQ or Potluck

Just because you’re hosting a party doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money. Make your 4th of July BBQ a potluck. You provide the backyard and make the burgers and have your friends and family handle the rest! What better way to celebrate than to spend time with those closest to you?

2. Watch Local Firework Displays

You could go out and buy your own fireworks, or you could just attend one of the many free firework displays taking place nearby. Not only is it much cheaper to go to a local display but chances are that their fireworks will also be much more impressive. Get there early with your blankets and chairs and spend time soaking up the summer before the show starts. You can turn this into a double activity by getting there early and…

3. Have Your Very Own Picnic!

Whether you are bringing a dinner picnic to your local fireworks display or packing a lunch picnic for a nearby festival (see #5!), picnics are always a great option for celebrating the summer. Pack some sandwiches and maybe even mix up some sangria and hit the road!

5. Explore a Festival

What summer would be complete without taking part in a festival or two? Luckily, the 4th of July is a prime chance to attend free festivals all over the country. Hop on Google and search for 4th of July celebrations near you, chances are you will find at least a few fun excursions the weekend before this great holiday.

6. Attend a Concert

The 4th of July is a prime time to get to watch local brass bands, symphonies, and philharmonics for free. See what instrument groups are performing nearby and take a trip to your local bandshell to take in the show (picnics are often a great option for these concerts as well)!

7. Watch a Patriotic Movie Marathon

Are you reading through all of these choices and just thinking, “eww. I don’t want to deal with all those crowds”? If so, what about hosting your very own Patriotic Movie Marathon in your own wonderfully air-conditioned home? Pick out some of your favorite patriotic movies, pop some red, white, and blue popcorn and settle in for a quiet celebration at home. Stumped on where to begin? Here are some movies to get you started: National Treasure, Saving Private Ryan, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Glory, or Capitan America.

Regardless of how you choose to spend your 4th of July this year, I hope that you celebrate by enjoying the things that you hold most dear and remember all of those who have fought to keep us free.

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75 Simple Ways to Be More Happy with Life

Get Happy!

Today I want to inspire you to become happier. Everyone needs a little pick up every once and a while and today I am sharing with you 100 ways to make your day full of a little more happiness.

So, without further ado, let’s get happy!

  1. Go for a walk
  2. Take a nap
  3. Clean something
  4. Call a friend you haven’t talked to in a while
  5. Read something inspirational (try this or this!)
  6. Sip on some tea or coffee
  7. Get a massage
  8. Say “Bubbles” in the angriest voice you can muster
  9. Plan a special dinner to look forward to
  10. Ignore your phone for a few hours
  11. Think of 3 things you’re grateful for
  12. Watch your favorite TV show
  13. Go for a drive
  14. Complete a random act of kindness for a stranger
  15. Do yoga
  16. Listen to your favorite band or singer
  17. Look through local Groupon deals for something to do this weekend
  18. Dance
  19. Bake cookies
  20. Pick 3 things you want to get done today and do them
  21. Go shopping
  22. Pretend you’re a kid again and just PLAY
  23. Pick up some flowers to brighten your home
  24. Read a new novel
  25. Quit a bad habit (if only for a day)
  26. Sing
  27. Buy your favorite sweet as a snack
  28. Find the nearest park, beach, or forest and explore
  29. Stop slouching
  30. Complete a DIY project
  31. Go to any store and pick up 5 items that make you happy
  32. Work on your personal To Do list
  33. Look through some of your old photos
  34. Schedule time to volunteer at an animal shelter
  35. Call your parents
  36. Go see a movie (or maybe even go to a drive-in theater)
  37. Make plans with a friend who you haven’t seen in a while
  38. Cook your favorite dinner
  39. Go window shopping downtown
  40. Pay it forward next time you’re in line to get food or coffee
  41. Are you mad at someone? Let it go
  42. Go to the Zoo
  43. Search for inspirational quotes, write one down, and put it somewhere you will see it regularly
  44. Meditate
  45. Stop thinking about where you are now and think about what is possible instead
  46. Draw a picture
  47. Drink a glass of water
  48. Pick a new sitcom you haven’t seen before and watch the first episode
  49. Download the app Happify
  50. Whisper “Boopity Boop” under your breath in 4 distinct voices
  51. Go to a gym class
  52. Take a bath
  53. Spend time with your significant other – without electronics
  54. Shake up your routine
  55. Play a board game with friends or family
  56. Have a firepit? Build a fire
  57. Make a list of 10 people in your life who inspire you. Then share your reasons why with them
  58. Make your favorite drink
  59. Start a home improvement project
  60. Set a new life goal and take the first step towards achieving it
  61. Snack on some fruits or veggies
  62. Switch up your commute. Leave early, take a new route, and try to enjoy the ride
  63. Find a funny article and laugh a little (I find that BuzzFeed is a good place to start)
  64. Spend some time alone to focus on you
  65. Go to bed early
  66. Jump and try to touch the ceiling
  67. Eat something healthy
  68. Do you have a pet? Go get a hug!
  69. Search for a “No Laugh Challenge” on YouTube
  70. Face something you fear
  71. Skip from one end of the room to the other
  72. Instead of thinking about everything that needs to be done, try to focus on one thing today
  73. Tell someone you love them
  74. Be spontaneous and do something RIGHT NOW
  75. Smile!

If all of these happiness-inducing ideas aren’t enough, I have decided to start giving you something a little extra each time I write a new post.

Did you know that there are almost 1,500 National Days throughout the year? Some of them inspire conversation, others promote change, and still others just make you laugh. Here are the National Days that fall on April 25, 2017:

  • DNA Day
  • East Meets West Day
  • Hug a Plumber Day
  • Telephone Day
  • Zucchini Bread Day

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DIY Valentine’s Day Ideas That Will Make You Feel the Love

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I don’t know about you, but when it comes to thinking of the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for my husband (or even the perfect things to do on Valentine’s Day), it often feels impossible.

First, there is the question of if I even want to attempt to brave the crazy world of reservations and official activities. Then it’s the question of if I want to celebrate on Valentine’s Day or if I want to celebrate the previous or following weekend. By that point, thinking of an actual gift is absolutely exhausting. It seems as if we’ve done everything already. Romantic dinner? Check. Flowers? Check. Chocolates? Check. By the time you are in the midst of midlife it often feels like the day is hardly worth it and (usually) pretty unsurprising. But, with the right commitment and a little time, you can create the perfect DIY Valentine’s Day present to show your significant other exactly how much you appreciate them – regardless of the day of the year (which brings me to today’s post).

How to create the perfect DIY Valentine’s Day gift to make you (and your significant other) feel the love!

Today I am going to bring you four DIY Valentine’s gifts for him (although, these gifts would also be perfect for her). My inspiration? The DIY Valentine’s Day gifts I created for my husband five years ago (to this day, this is my favorite DIY Valentine’s Day gift I have ever made).

Take a look at my assembled gift below, and then I’ll go through all of the DIY ideas you can choose to re-create!

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The gift included (1) a pop-up Valentine card, (2) paper fortune cookies, (3), a paper rose, and (4) a pop-out memory box.

I’m going to start with the easiest and quickest parts of my gift and work my way up to the more complicated/time-consuming ideas. Pick and choose the ideas that you like the most and then make them your own!

1. Paper Fortune Cookies

As I mentioned above, these are the easiest part of the gift. All you need is paper, scissors, and glue! Quickly fold the fortune cookies, write whatever fortunes you would like about the love of your life and your future together, and slide your fortunes into the cookies. Voila! You have cute little fortunes to share with your significant other!

See how I made them by clicking on this link!

2. Pop-Up Valentine Card

dsc00250This card is a little more complicated than the fortune cookies, but not much. You will need paper, scissors, and glue like the last craft, as well as a ruler, pencil, and stencil knife (and of course a pen to write your own love letter inside). My tip? Use a light pencil and have a good eraser on hand so that you can erase all of your lines you made to know where to cut your great pop-up design. Also, pay attention to the colors you use (for example, I had to create paper cut-outs of the letters for the front of my card because pen didn’t show up very well on the red background. So, start thinking about what you want to write because you will be done with this craft before you know it!

Make your own by following the directions at this link!

3. Paper Rosedsc00247

This is my favorite part of my gift to this day! This rose is still wrapped around the edge of our standing mirror in our bedroom today. That being said, this is also the gift that caused me the most stress. I carefully picked out pages from an old dictionary where words like “love” and “kiss” were defined and then carefully cut out the petals to make sure the right words were visible…and then I completely failed my first attempt making the flower. Turns out, it’s pretty hard to make a rose out of nothing but paper, hot glue, ribbon, wire, and scissors. That being said, after a few failed attempts, I finally got it right and I still find it absolutely gorgeous. If you’re ready to put in some time and effort, I can guarantee that this gift is something that you significant other will cherish for years to come. Plus, it lasts much longer than regular roses!

Get the tutorial here!

4. Pop-Out Memory Box

This gift idea is the most time-consuming, and the most personal. This is a box that you make from scratch and is actually almost like 3 boxes in one. As your significant other opens the box, they will be unfolding the story of your life together. On each side of the box, I put a story or a picture of me and my husband and as he unfolded the box more and more, he went further and further back into our past together. It is a thoughtful gift that takes so much time to make simply because you are putting so much time into picking the right moments of your life together to remember.

For step-by-step directions (and pictures) click here!

So, there you go! Four DIY ideas for making your Valentine’s Day gifts extra special this year!

However, if you’re reading through these ideas and you’re saying to yourself, “I don’t have time for this,” don’t fear, below are a couple easy Valentine’s Day gift ideas for him (and gift ideas for her) that you can complete in an instant (no shipping required)!

For Him

For Her

For Both of You!

  • Go out! Now, I’m not saying to brave the crowds on Valentine’s day, but use the previous or following weekend to go out on a date (dinner and a movie? I know it’s cliche, but it’s always fun) or book a room (get the romance package) at a nice hotel in town for a night. You don’t have to go far to make the holiday special.
  • Stay in! Sometimes staying in the house is just as nice as going out. Cook a special dinner, pull out a favorite movie, change into your comfiest PJs and cuddle on the couch. If your kids are still at home, don’t forget to find an overnight activity for them (my local Zoo even has an overnight scheduled for children on Valentine’s Day)!

 

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The Bar, the Mindset, and the Law of Attraction

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As we were settling in into our new condo, Darrell and I decided to buy a little corner bar.  One of those cool pieces that look built in, only they’re not.

Purchasing most of the other furniture came easy: we researched, found what we wanted, and bought it.

Not so easy for the bar.

After two months of relentless searching for the right one, it was nowhere to be found.  We spent hours searching online.  We looked at several dozen different models.  We went to stores and talked to salespeople.  Nothing worked.  Nothing came close to what we thought would be perfect.

I was resigned that we wouldn’t find the perfect piece.  Darrell was frustrated that nothing we saw was good enough.  Actually, truth be told, Darrell is a bit less particular than me, and could have been satisfied with a lot of these earlier options.  I’m more of a stickler for the exact fit.

Last week while taking an evening walk, we talked about our seeming inability to find just the right bar.

I said, with an intention to make us feel better, “It’s ok.  I always thought that the bar would be hard to find, and that it could take a lot of time and be pretty expensive.”  That was true – deep in my mind I was always convinced that finding the perfect bar would be a difficult and time-consuming project.

Darrell paused…and said, “Do you know, with that belief, it is no wonder we can’t find anything that will work for you…”

In that moment, I got it.  He was right.  In my mind, I created an idea that the perfect bar would be hard to find and expensive.  Therefore, the Universe was proving me right: it was.  With that mindset, no wonder we couldn’t find what we wanted.

“Would you be willing to give up the idea that it will be hard to find?”, Darrell continued.  Convinced as I was in the rarity of the item in question, I was willing.   I do enjoy a good game of mind control and miraculous manifestation.

Fast forward… to that VERY EVENING!

That night, after his regular few minutes per day of searching for a perfect bar, Darrell showed me a picture of something that looked ideal – a perfect fit, and at a fraction of the price I had expected to pay.  Although it was about an hour drive from our home, we decided to call them up and discuss it.

With what sounded like a description matching the picture of perfect fit, we gambled with renting a truck and drove up the next day.

It turned out to be true: the only bar in two months that came even close to what we wanted.

At the end of that eventful day, we had the most perfect bar – in color, shape, size, and design – sitting right in the corner of our condo.

Coincidence?  Fluke?  Nah!  I’m big girl enough to call one on myself.

As soon as I gave up my (very unhelpful) mental idea, we found a perfect piece…easily and somewhat effortlessly.

This gave me another perfect opportunity: to look where else is my mindset in the way of my getting what I want in my Back Forty, my second half/best half of life.

How about you?  What mindset, idea, or way of thinking could you give up to create room for something new, playful, or radical?  What miraculous manifestations do you have in mind?

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The Best Gift Ideas for Everyone On Your List

gift-guide

Do you find yourself still searching for the perfect holiday gifts? Are you realizing that Christmas is less than a week away and getting worried?

Don’t fear, I’ve taken the time to do a little research for you. I found something for everyone on your list. Look through the list below and find your perfect gift!

For the:

  • Fitness Enthusiast

    • Something Thoughtful: Sport Bottle Blender – This gift is a great idea for anyone on your list who is constantly blending up fitness shakes and smoothies. You just put the ingredients into your sport bottle, put your sport bottle on the blender base, and you’re done!3-bulu-box-animation
    • Something Unique: Monthly Health Product Subscription Box – The Bulu box brings new workout products to your present recipient’s door each month. This is perfect for someone who is always looking for the  next big thing!
    • Something Useful: HydraCoach Intelligent Water Bottle – This water bottle will put all other water bottles to shame! It will actually calculate your personal hydration needs, track your fluid consumption through the day, pace you to ensure hydration goals are met, motivate you to stay properly hydrated, and enhance your strength and endurance.
  • Globe Trotter

    • Something Thoughtful: Collapsible Water Bottle – Regardless of if they are roughing it or traveling in style, this is the perfect gift for any traveler you know. By making it collapsible, it takes up less space and is easy to take through airport security.map.JPG
    • Something Unique: Scratch Map – This map is a must for any true globe trotter. As they travel to new locations, they can scratch off that part of their map so they will always remember where their travels have taken them.
    • Something Useful: TSA Pre-Check Membership – For anyone who flys regularly, this is a godsent gift. Waiting in the security line is the worst, but for just $85 your traveler can skip the line for 5 whole years. They will thank you, I promise.
  • Perfect Host(ess) & Cook

    • Something Thoughtful: Wooden Cheese Picks – These picks are the perfect addition to any host’s collection. Place the picks in their corresponding cheeses to let guests know what is being offered.smoker
    • Something Unique: Handheld Food Smoker – Does your cook love the flavor of smoked meats, cheeses, and more? This handheld food smoker makes it possible to give anything you prepare a smokey taste without the long smoking process.
    • Something Useful: Oven-To-Table Entertaining Platter – This soapstone platter can be heated or chilled to keep your host’s dishes at the perfect temperature for serving.
  • Sports Fan

    • Something Thoughtful:  “Sportproof” Earbuds – These are perfect for sports fans who like to play as well as watch sports. These “sportproof” earbuds are sweatproof and bluetooth so that nothing will slow down your sports fan.sweaters
    • Something Unique: Try Uncommon Goods – I’m not going to try to pick a single item for this category. However, this page on uncommongoods.com is perfect for any sports fan. Regardless of if your fan is into football, hockey, baseball, or skiing, there is guaranteed to be something unique here!
    • Something Useful: Favorite NFL Team Ugly Christmas Sweater – If your sports fan is into football, this is a perfect gift. All you need to do is pick out their favorite team. This is especially useful for people who will be attending Ugly Christmas Sweater parties this season.
  • Businessman

    • Something Thoughtful: Rosewood Cufflinks – These handmade cufflinks can help your businessman stay in touch with nature while staying in the office, plus they are just plain stylish.smart-watch
    • Something Unique: Samsung Smartwatch – This watch is truly unique. Not only is it stylish, but you can also take phone calls, pay for items, track your fitness, find directions, and more with just this watch.
    • Something Useful: Handheld Luggage Scale – This is a perfect gift for anyone who has to travel regularly for work. It is the worst feeling to get to the airport and be told that you will need to pay an extra $50 because your luggage is 51 pounds instead of the maximum 50 pounds. This handheld luggage scale is easy to take with when traveling and will prevent your businessman from ever having to pay extra luggage fees again.
  • Artist

    • Something Thoughtful: Felt Succulent Kit – This is a fun (and beautiful) craft kit to spruce up anyone’s home. It includes everything your artist needs to make 18 felt succulent plants.3D Pen.JPG
    • Something Unique: 3D Printing Pen – This pen quite literally makes it possible for your artist to draw sculptures out of thin air. This is a wonderful gift that will be a guaranteed hit for anyone who loves art.
    • Something Useful: Heated Hand Massager – Anyone who spends a large amount of time creating art has hands that will get tired. This massager will help ease their pain after a long, hard day of work.
  • Spiritual Soul

    • Something Thoughtful: Merry Christmas Bonsai – This bonsai isn’t only spiritual, it is also festive! A mini strand of red (battery operated) Christmas lights are strung on this bonsai to give it a festive feel.choose-your-coach
    • Something Unique: Notes of The Buddha Post-Its – These post-its are shaped like Buddha himself, along with a pad that lets you choose if you are “out of mind”, “out of body”, or “just out”.
    • Something Useful: Midlife Coaching Session – Are you looking for a gift for a soul searcher? This session helps people in midlife create a playful, passionate, and purposeful second half of life for themselves. Plus, you can get a special $50 discount when you purchase the session with this code: NEWYEAR2017
  • Book Lover

    • Something Thoughtful: Personal Library Kit – Do you know someone who wishes they lived in a library? Or maybe they are always lending their friends and family books? With this gift, they can have their own library!book-perfume
    • Something Unique: Hermione Inspired “Books & Cleverness” Scented Perfume or (if they don’t actually want to smell like books) “Old Books” Scented Candle – These options are for the book lover who touts the smell of a good book above all else.
    • Something Useful: Clear Book Weight – This is perfect for someone who loves to read outside but doesn’t want to worry about book pages slipping away in the wind.
  • Gardener

    • Something Thoughtful: Personalized Family Member Signpost – This is the perfect gift for someone with family far away (or close)! You can choose between 3 and six personalized signs that include the names of your loved ones and how many miles away they are.grow
    • Something Unique: A Grow Kit – Choose from Grow Cocktails, Grow Salsa, or, Grow Pizza – These small grow kits are a unique way to grow all of the ingredients for your favorite drinks and snacks.
    • Something Useful: Gardner’s Tool Seat – This lightweight garden stool folds up into a tool bag for the gardener who spends hours in their garden.

Looking for a little something for yourself? Get your free gift from us below!

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