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What I Love About Summer

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I was walking my dog earlier this week and heard the cicadas, which I have to say, I love the sound of cicadas. It reminds me of growing up playing capture the flag in my neighborhood. It just makes me think of summer. So for the rest of my walk, I was thinking about all the things I love about summer. Here’s what came to mind:

 

1. Hanging out with friends

2. SUN, SUN AND MORE SUN!!!

3. Swimming

4. The heat

5. Shorts

6. Flip flops

7. Pool parties!

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8. Jamming out to music

9. Laying out

10. Sun-kissed skin

11. NO SCHOOL WORK

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12. Laughing with friends

13. Fresh Fruit

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14. Cookouts

15. Free time

16. Getting to spend time with your family

17. Going to the lake

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18. ICECREAM!!!

19. Sun glasses

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20. Fireworks.

21.Travel

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7 WAYS TO STAY HEALTHY WHILE TRAVELING

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Summer is here, which means it’s time for you to take a vacation! 😉 No matter where you’re headed or what you have planned, if you’re not prepared, a potential amazing vacation can take a turn for the worst. Here are our summer travel tips to help you learn from our mistakes. We hope you have an amazing summer!

1. STAY HYDRATED

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This always seems obvious, but when we’re out and about, it’s so easy for us to forget to drink enough water. PRO-TIP: If you carry a collapsible soft bottle, it makes carrying around water easier, since it can pack away into a pocket. Also, keep in mind that if you’re in a dryer climate than you’re used to, you’ll need to drink more water!

2. KEEP SNACKS ON HAND

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You never know what situation you’ll get into that will cause you delays. If you’re anything like us, we don’t function well when we’re hangry! If we know we’ll be out all day, we always try to pack snacks. It’s always a relief to find them in our packs especially when we get lost on hikes. Lately, we also love drinking Soylents, which is basically a meal in a bottle. It packs in all the nutrients you need in 400 kcal without the excess unhealthy parts of meals, and it tastes like cheerios and soy milk. 

3. ALWAYS APPLY AND REAPPLY SUNBLOCK

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One of the most common injuries with any outdoor activity is getting sunburnt! We’re usually great about applying beforehand, but we’ll admit that we sometimes get lazy about stopping mid-activity to reapply. We’ve learned the hard way one too many times that a bad burn can really ruin the rest of your trip if you’re having to hide from the sun. Most sunblocks tell you to reapply every couple hours, but if you’re swimming or sweating, you have to reapply even more frequently. While you’re at it, it’s also great to use coral safe sunscreen so that you’re not damaging the environment or the marine life when swimming. 

4. ALWAYS DRESS IN LAYERS TO BE PREPARED FOR ANY WEATHER.

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Even if you’re traveling in the summer, the temperatures can drop at night. Even if the outside temperature stays consistent, there are a lot of indoor spots you might visit that pump their AC. Usually, if we run into these situations, Jacob ends up giving me his jacket and he ends up being cold (great husband, right?). Now we both try our best to take at least one extra layer. 

5. TAKE VITAMIN C

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For our day to day, we love taking our gummy multi-vitamins almost as much as we love our candy! 😀 But when we know we’ll be in a crowded place or trapped on an airplane with sick passengers, we take Vitamin C to give our immune systems an extra boost. No more getting sick after every trip!

6. CARRY HAND SANITIZER OR BABY WIPES

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I may be a bit OCD, but carrying hand sanitizer and baby wipes have come in handy for us on so many occasions. Sometimes we’re in camping bathrooms that have no soap. Or sometimes you’re out and need to quickly clean something off.

7. PREVENT UNWANTED HITCHHIKERS

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Whether you are staying at a hotel, hostel, or temporarily renting an apartment, don’t get caught with unwanted hitchhikers! The Raid® Bed Bug Detector & Trap is a way to detect the presence of bed bugs early on. Esther and I have talked about bed bugs multiple times because we get paranoid whenever we feel itchy. Neither of us know much about what bed bugs look like or what to do if we were to find them. We were really curious to see how this worked!

Featured

How to Throw the Perfect Summer Party

 

1. Go with a theme

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Sticking with a theme is an easy way to ensure your party packs a punch. Don’t worry about matching every piece of your flatware, servingware and drinkware — but do keep the look cohesive by choosing an overarching motif. Use sleek and modern elements for a stunning tabletop, or opt for an assortment of shabby-chic pieces for a rustic touch. Another easy way to keep everything looking sharp? Choose a colour palette (like monochrome or primary colours) for a table setting that really pops.

2. Pick the perfect menu

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Whether you’re feeding 20 people or planning a romantic dinner for four, your menu is what your guests will remember. For smaller, intimate affairs, go for cuts of meat that ramp up the swish factor (think Wagyu steaks or filet mignon). Hosting a blockbuster bash? Keep it simple with everyone’s favourite handheld foods — burgers, hotdogs and ribs.

3. Scent your charcoal

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Here’s a clever tip for the grill buff: scent your charcoal with herbs and spices. Simply place sprigs of fresh rosemary, thyme or other fresh herbs on your rocks for a deliciously smoky spin on a traditional marinade.

4. Serve refreshing drinks

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Keep everyone quenched with a bevy of refreshing beverages. Blend your own fruit juices or ices, or whip up a pitcher of homemade lemonade or iced tea. Want a prettier pitcher of water? Dress it up with fresh slices of cucumber, oranges or a handful of fresh berries for H20 your guests will raise a glass to. For cocktail ideas, check out these delicious bevvy recipes to sip under the summer sun.

5. Create conversation pits

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It’s a fact: people tend to flock to areas with food. Set the stage for mingling between guests by creating conversation zones with cosy chairs and tables decked with trays brimming with your favourite nibbles.They’ll be chatting up a storm in no time.

6. Set up games

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Who doesn’t love a backyard game? If your yard space allows for it, set up a net for a lively volleyball or badminton match, or bring back oldies-but-goodies like lawn bowling and croquet to get guests onto the green.

7. Light up the night

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Don’t let dusk put the lights out on your party. Keep the fun going into the evening with a selection of dazzling lights. From the warm glow of lanterns and votive candles to twinkle lights and eco-friendly solar lamps, your fête will sparkle on long after the sun goes down.

8. Set the mood with music

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An amazing playlist is a great way to provide instant ambience to any barbecue. Pair that filet mignon with some cool jazz, or make a mix of everyone’s favourite summer jams to get the party started.

9. Gather ’round the fire pit

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Treat your friends to a taste of cottage life in your own backyard with ghost stories and a marshmallow roast over a fire pit. Don’t forget the graham crackers and chocolate for whipping up a lip-smacking batch of ooey-gooey s’mores!

10. Keep bugs at bay

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No one invited the bugs to the party, so make sure to quell any gate crashing mosquitoes and flies with a selection of bug zappers and strategically placed netting.

Featured

5 TIPS FOR GETTING BACK INTO ROUTINE AFTER A BREAK

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I’m sure we’ve all come back from a break, fearing our inboxes, washing piles and the vacation blues, the following five steps are ones I aim to take after every break to help ease me back in to day-to-day life in a way I look forward to.

I hope you’ll find this post helpful, and I’d love for you to share any tips or tricks of your own in the comments


GIVE YOURSELF TIME TO RE-SETTLE.

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When you return from a trip that airport transfer/hire car situation/late flight is going to have tired you. Travelling is tiring, no two ways about it. Rather than assuming you will slot right back in to your routine, give yourself some buffer time to re-settle. Cut yourself some slack.

For me my buffer time looks like one quiet ‘settling in day’, followed by a light week. I make no big commitments for the week following any travel as I know I will have work to catch up on, as well as sleep and general life.

This also means that I keep communication light, I don’t want to be pitching to any big clients, or committing to lots of social events. I need a little home time to get my feet back on the ground. Furthermore travelling often spark ideas or thoughts for me, I write these down in a journal whilst away and like to take some time when I am home to process.

Takeaway: Whatever that buffer time looks like for you, rest assured that it is completely normal to take a little time to re-settle. If you mentally allocate this buffer, you can cut yourself come slack if you don’t get right back in to the swing of things on day one.


 UNPACK, CLEAN AND REFRESH YOUR HOME.

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When your home has been left unused for some time it can feel stale. I like to use my ‘quiet settling in day’ (ref. above ^) to unpack, clean and refresh my home.

I open all windows and fold back my bed sheets – or change them if I didn’t do so before going away. I collect things like any glasses we forgot to wash up.  I then have a general freshen up and potter about the house reacquainting myself with it.

I try (and I admit that this is currently on the back burner for me!) to unpack right away, put things in the wash or hang them right up. It is so nice to be able to put away the suitcase and use your wardrobe like normal. I’m seeking solace in that slack I talk about above – I know I’ll properly unpack once I have a bit more time over the weekend.

The final touch for me is always fresh flowers. This week I bought some new stocks and lilies and it feels like there is life back in the house again. When I walk in to my office now I am greeted by a beautiful glass vase of white stocks which helps me feel at home as I settle in to some work.

Takeaway: There is nothing like a clean, organised home to help you feel calm and settled. Aim to get reacquainted with your home as soon as is possible for you. If possible, leave your home when you go on holiday in a way which will feel nice to come back to. Or if that’s not possible (hello last-minute packing explosion!) then allocate some time to sort it when you are back.


TACKLE YOUR INBOX.

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Eek – the post-holiday inbox 🙈!

I recently shared some of my thoughts on how and why to take a proper holiday. I’m happy to report that I took my own advice and had one of the best holiday holidays I’ve ever had. One of the reasons I feel this holiday was more successfully restful than others was the time of year I chose to go away. I have learnt that for me personally, high summer is a quiet time of year. A quiet time means less emails, which naturally means less to follow up on when I get home.

I tackled the emails I did receive systematically whilst I was away, so as not to be bombarded when home. I also put on an out of office which helped me to manage the expectations of people emailing me.

I’d love to say I didn’t check my emails at all whilst I was away, but truth be told I like to be kept in the loop. As a business owner I can’t afford to miss a potential client’s email, or an important communication from my team. In order to avoid getting dragged down by emails whilst on holiday, I dipped in to my inbox every day, flagged any important emails and deleted the rest. I found that on average I only had a few per day which required immediate attention, I got back to these and didn’t give the others a moment’s thought.

This being said, if you do come home to a particularly busy inbox when you get back from your holiday, I advise using the one touch technique. Prioritise the emails you need to get back to and allocate focused time to getting them answered. If you focus, over a few days I am confident you can get your inbox back on track.

Takeaway: Set an out of office reply before you go away to manage the expectations of people emailing you. Be systematic on your return from holiday and work through your inbox, using whatever email management system works for you – I like flagging my important emails. Delete everything else so as not to clutter your inbox. Focus in on allocated slots for emails, and know that it will likely take a couple of days to get your inbox under control.


GET BACK ON TRACK WITH YOUR HEALTH COMMITMENTS.

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As I have mentioned before, my health and wellbeing has become an important focus for me this year. I tried to stay on track with my fitness whilst on vacation which has made it an easier transition once I got home.

Either way – if you have or haven’t had the healthiest of vacations (I’ve seen either side of that coin my friend!) – getting back in to your health groove will help you to settle back in to your routine.

There is nothing like feeling well in your mind and body to assist with focus, sleep and energy levels. This includes habits, exercise and diet.

For me, I have tried to get back in to my happiness habits, and include some activity in to my routine. I gave myself a few days to recuperate on sleep, and now have workouts in my schedule like normal which I am looking forward to.

Further to exercise, eating in a way which makes you feel good and energised is everything. If you do one thing when you first get home – do a food shop. It will save so much ‘searching time’ when deciding on what to eat, what to take for lunch and what to snack on. If you do a healthy shop, it will most likely encourage you to make healthy choices.

Takeaway: Do a food shop, book your gym classes and ease yourself back in to your health and wellbeing routine. A healthy mind and body supports everything that you do, so getting on top of this as soon as possible is going to make everything else you are coming back to feel easier.


BOOK FUN THINGS IN TO AVOID THE VACATION BLUES.

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I admit that when I was lying on the beach on my penultimate day in Menorca, I started to feel the post-holiday blues creeping in. I am such a homebody that this was actually quite an alien experience for me, but I truly couldn’t imagine being anywhere more beautiful, or with people I loved more (except my Mama wasn’t there as she had to stay home for work – so plus my Mum would have been perfect!).

I had had an inkling before going away that I may get struck by the post-holiday blues so long before we departed I booked a girls weekend in with my favourite girlfriends. I also ordered a couple of items to arrive for when I got back including some photos from one of my best friends’ recent weddings. Knowing that I was going to see some of my favourite people, and receive some exciting deliveries, on returning home made me really excited to be landing in England again.

Takeaway: Decide on something you would look forward to, and make plans for it before you get home. Getting coffee with a friend . . . having a manicure . . . allocating a couple of magazine hours for yourself – be sure to have some fun things to welcome you home.

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9 Things For A Happier You!

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Over the last two years I have really tried to concentrate on my happiness. Happiness is such a blissful feeling when you’re comfortable with everything around you. Sometimes when we’re in dark places for too long finding happiness can be difficult and sometimes impossible. But happiness can be found in the smallest places, you’ve just got too know where to look.

I’ve written a short list of the things that make me smile on a daily basis, hopefully they can make you smile too! Even after a long period of time feeling lower than low these may help you crawl out of the dark.

1. The Smell of Cats

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Any cat owner will tell you that cats have a smell about them, I don’t know what it is but they smell so sweet, especially shorter haired cats. I sadly no longer own any cats because people in my family are allergic

2. Books

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I’d like to quote Stephen King here, “Books are a uniquely portable magic”. Of course they are. Books come in different colors and sizes and can be elegantly worn or new and glossy. Some have fancy leather/cloth covers. Old books smell best, but new ones are good, too. Old paper starts to break down, containing compounds found in vanilla and almonds, mmm. Newer paper has the tang of wood pulp and printer’s ink. I still have several of my books from when I was a kid. Why? They were like comfort objects for me. Growing up, I never went anywhere -not even a different room -without a book. I still never leave the house without one. Just having a book makes me feel braver and happier for some reason.

3. Hot Showers

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Nothing is better than stepping in the shower after a long hard day. When I get home after work all I want more than anything is to strip off and get straight in. Bonus if you get to use anything tea-tree related, it just helps you relaxxxxxxx

4. Fresh Good-tasting Coffee

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Oh-My-God, A delicious perfect temperature cup of coffee I could just gulp down is a huge pick me up. Although I find it hard to find good tasting coffee as I have to drink decaf (sucks I know). Also nothing beats drinking coffee naked. Don’t judge me. 


5. ThunderStorms
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I love thunderstorms. There is nothing more beautiful than nature, especially the electric sight of lightning, the roaring sound of thunder and the calming feel of rain. Most people view thunderstorms as a scary storm that creates problems (power lines falling, trees getting struck by lightning, basements flooding), but I tend to view them in a more positive light. Don’t get me wrong, the few times that I was forced to drive when it was down-pouring and lightning was striking near me every two seconds I was terrified for my safety, but every other time there is a thunderstorm I am in complete awe. I sometimes just sit and reflect on things and calm my racing mind while it’s chaos outside. 

6. Lauging

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I love to laugh. I have a pretty good scense of humor and I can laugh at just about anything. Also It helps that my fmaily is pretty funny too. 

7. Movie Theaters 

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I know this would is weird but I get a cozy feeling whenever I go to the movies. Regardless of the movie I’m seeing I feel like I’m in my own world. Words can’t describe the feeling but trust me. 

8. My Dog

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This is my dog Cooper and He makes me so happy. 


9. Long Hugs

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What’s better than a long hug from the person you love or havn’t seen in a while. Most day’s I long for a hug. 

So there it is, the 9 things that bring me happiness. Hopefully you’ll be able to find happiness in these places too.

What are some of your happy places?

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Benefits of Quitting Sugar

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What happens when you quit sugar? A lot of good shizzzz. Kicking a sugar habit is challenging—even for the most strong-willed among us. Avoiding processed sugar is a challenge to daily life, but for some adults, stopping sugar is something that has to occur for health reasons. Sugar consumption can have long-term effects on your health, and sugar is associated with some conditions in multiple ways. For starters, consuming sugar in large amounts can lead to a strong addiction to sugar.

My sweet tooth developed as a child. I loved sugary cereals, chocolate chip cookies, homemade brownies and ice cream. Ice cream was on the menu before bed every night. This kind of snacking got increasingly healthier as I got older, but the habits still stuck. I found myself always reaching for “sweet” snacks over savory ones, and while those snacks didn’t include processed sugar, they still contained high amounts of natural sugars

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Benefits of not eating sugar

I know that cutting out sugar from my diet would produce some favorable results. Here are some common benefits of not eating sugar include:

  • Weight loss: Sugar has calories, but no nutritional value; eating sugar causes us to crave even more sugar

  • Reduced bloat: Artificial sweeteners are notorious for causing bloating

  • Mindful eating: Consciously avoiding certain ingredients (in this case: sugar) leads to more mindful eating habits

  • Better dental health: Sugary sodas, juices and candies create an acidic, cavity-promoting environment in the mouth

  • Sustained energy: Sugar crashes become a thing of the past; experience stable energy levels all day long

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How to Avoid Sugar

Now that you have information on what to expect when you stop eating sugar, it’s time to make quitting sugar happen. For this to be a successful journey, consider the tips below to boost your overall success.

1. Avoid Artificial Sweeteners

If at all possible, consider avoiding artificial sweeteners whenever you can. When you stop eating sugar, your brain will more than likely crave something sweet initially, and consuming artificial sweeteners can increase the cravings.

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2. Read all Food Labels

Every food product you purchase in packaging by law should contain a list of ingredients. The best way to avoid sugar is to carefully read your food labels and ingredient lists to ensure that added sugars are not included.

3. Prepare your Own Food at Home

The best way to ensure that you are not consuming any sugar in your meals is to prepare your meals at home. You should expect that any time you eat out somewhere that there is some hidden sugar included, so the best way to avoid sugar is to prepare your meals yourself.

4. Swap Soda for Carbonated Water

If you like drinking soda, then consider making the switch to seltzer or club soda. Many carbonated water options now include natural flavors as a way to enhance the water you drink. The best part about these is that they include no sugar or sweeteners  (but make sure to still double-check the labels for yourself).

5. Clean out Your Kitchen

If you want to avoid sugar, then you need to get rid of the sources of sugar in your home. This should be considered rule number one when it comes to avoiding sugar from here on out. 

There is a lot that can happen when you stop eating sugar, and generally speaking, the hardest part of stopping is in the initial stages. Typically, lethargy sets in and a slew of sugar withdrawal symptoms can set in, which include headaches, nausea, and mental fogginess. However, once you get past these issues, you should expect to notice health improvements including blood pressure and mood. To achieve this success, it is important to find ways to avoid sugar at all costs. After all, if you reintroduce sugar too soon in your diet, you could have a setback, and the process might start all over again.

It will be hard, but you can do it

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