When it comes to making personal New Year’s resolutions, the majority of them are geared towards making more sensible food choices and buying a gym membership. However, to adopt an overall healthier lifestyle, it’s important to put as much emphasis on bettering our minds as we do our bodies.
What is meditation?
According to Yoga International, “Meditation is a precise technique for resting the mind and attaining a state of consciousness that is totally different from the normal waking state. The mind is clear, relaxed and inwardly focused. When you meditate, you are fully awake and alert, but your mind is not focused on the external world or on the vents taking place around you.”
What are the benefits of meditation?
It reduces stress.
Meditation allows you to take charge of your own emotions. Various studies have shown that meditating for just a few minutes a day greatly reduces anxiety.
It improves concentration.
Meditation has been linked to a number of things that lead to the increased ability to focus. Greater concentration is related to the higher amount of energy that meditation provides.
It benefits cardiovascular and immune health.
Studies show that meditation has been directly linked to lowering blood pressure. Relaxation increases the compound nitric oxide that causes blood vessels to open up, and ultimately causes blood pressure to drop.
What is mindfulness meditation?
Mindfulness is a popular practice that acknowledges reality, lets the mind wander, and accepts thoughts as they come and go. During your practice, you should pay close attention to your posture, gaze, breath, and thoughts.
How to practice mindfulness meditation:
It starts with keeping an upright posture. Develop a solid situation where your shoulders and hips are level and your spine is stacked up. Use this posture to remain relaxed and awake throughout the meditation.
The fewer the distractions, the better. Your eyes should be open but not staring. Maintaining a soft, downward gaze helps you to purposely ignore what is going on around you.
After you develop a sense of your body and where you are, you’ll begin to notice your breath. Your breath should be natural and not forced. With each inhale and exhale, you’ll become more relaxed.
It takes too much effort to try and force your thoughts out; your mind will wander regardless. Letting the thoughts come and go as they please and refocusing on the breaths will help you stay mindful.
5 tips for meditation:
Choose a convenient time to practice—either morning or night.
Select a quiet place with few distractions.
Find a seated position that is most comfortable for you.
Check to see how your mind and body feel in the moment.
Appreciate that you’ve taken time for yourself.
Consider adding meditation to your list of resolutions, and enjoy a healthy body and mind this New Year.
If you have a passion for gardening and you want to pass that passion on to your little ones, it’s not that challenging to instill an interest in the natural world.
Kids are naturally fascinated by the earth and all its living parts, so if you start with these simple tips, you can grow lifelong gardeners with the same green thumb as yourself.
Cater to their interests
If your child is interested in wildlife, consider planting shrubs or flowers that attract butterflies and other harmless insects, just be sure these plants don’t also attract other critters that could pose a threat to the rest of your garden. You can even encourage little ones to keep track of how many different bugs they can find in a journal, practice drawing the insects, and looking up information on the species.
Be mindful of little hands
Depending on their age, some kids might find it difficult to complete certain tasks in the garden, like digging or carrying a water can back and forth to keep plants hydrated. Invest in kid-friendly gardening tools, which you can find at most hardware stores, and make sure plants are easily accessible for kids.
Show how they grow
Vegetables are notoriously detested by little palates, but by showing kids how their food grows, they might be more inclined to want to eat it. Plant healthy veggies like carrots, cucumber, and peppers, and have your child monitor the plants as they go from tiny seeds to the food they see on their plate for dinner.
Help kids take responsibility for the health of a particular plant or flower in your garden. Explain the gardening basics, like how much water the plant needs, when to water it, the type of soil it will thrive in, and let kids take the reins on keeping up with the tasks.
Make it a competition
No matter what you do, you’re likely to encounter a few weeds in your garden during peak growing season. Encourage little ones to help eliminate these pesky plants by turning weed pulling into a game. Explain why the weeds are bad and need to be rid of, and then see how many weeds your child can pull out in a set amount of time. Keep track of their weed pulling prowess, and at the end of gardening season, offer a prize for their job well done.
Getting kids interested in gardening isn’t all that hard, all it takes is stirring up their natural curiosity and they’ll be hooked!
Moving into a house with a large yard may sound ideal, but it’s certainly not for everybody—especially if this is your first home and you’re a rookie as far as homeowning is concerned. This list of pros and cons can help you decide whether or not a large yard is the way to go.
It gives children and pets room to play.
Having a pet (or multiple) plays a large role for most people in whether or not they consider a large yard a necessity. The same goes for children: you want to make sure the kids and the dog have ample room for running around when it’s nice outside. A big backyard provides just that.
Space for entertaining.
While having room for the kids and pets is a plus, don’t forget about the benefits it provides for the adults as well! You can host more backyard bashes without worrying if people are cramped. And if you host a lot of parties, a large yard may be high up on the list of priorities when considering various homes.
Adds curb appeal.
Curb appeal is important for any neighborhood. It adds value to your home and, when going to sell, it provides a clear idea to potential buyers of what to expect. When kept up with, a large yard takes the entire home up a notch.
There’s more upkeep.
A large yard, while good for all of the above reasons, also comes with a few downfalls. The major one is the amount of upkeep it requires. There’s more things to take care of: landscaping projects, weed wacking, and maintenance all year long.
Cost is higher.
This one may come as a no brainer, but some people forget how expensive a larger yard can be. With all of the extra space comes more to keep up with, and you have to be prepared for the extra costs if you’re purchasing a home with a large yard. Everything from fencing costs to general maintenance could play a big role in if this is the right decision for you and your family.
Owning a home comes with many advantages and disadvantages—a large yard being one of the major factors you need to consider in the homebuying process.
If you dream of taking care of your own garden but are hesitant because of a lack of space, there might be a solution for you. Vertical gardening is a popular new trend that can help you fill your home with gorgeous plants all while maintaining valuable space.
Put one of the pots upside down in the center of one of the wood squares, and lightly trace a circle around the mouth of the pot. In the middle of the circle, measure out and draw a circle that is about ¼ inch smaller, and cut it out using the jigsaw. Repeat with a second wood square.
Use the ⅜-inch drill bit to make holes in each corner of the wood squares (about 1 inch from the edge) and then sand down the wood to prevent splintering. Paint or stain the squares to whatever shade you’d like, and allow to dry. Repeat steps with the rest of the wood pieces.
Cut out four pieces of rope at equal length, and begin stringing it through the holes you drilled in the wood. Be sure to tie a tight knot after each new piece of wood, about 10–12 inches apart. When you get to the bottom square, tie a larger knot underneath the wood square to secure.
To hang, pull the top of the rope through a metal ring, and secure with a knot. You can add floral wire to the knot as well for reinforcement.
When adding the plants, take note to put a saucer under the bottom pot to prevent water from dripping. Add coffee filters to the bottom of all other pots to allow water to come through.
Place the plants in each pot, and hang as a beautiful decoration.
Potential Indoor PlantsPeperomia: large, waxy leaves in a yellow-greenish hue with red outline
Herbs: fresh basil, thyme, rosemary
Philodendron: small, heart-shaped leaves that drape downward
Spider plant: long, hanging leaves that grow and replant easily
Don’t let your pool be what’s steering buyers away from your home—make it the main attraction and a must-have home feature! Here are some easy ways to spruce up your pool before it goes on the market this spring.
Rid any weathering or damage.
Take into account the type of pool you have: vinyl, fiberglass, concrete. Even if you updated the interior three years ago, it may be worth updating before you put your home on the market.
Check for leaks.
Have your pool pump and system checked thoroughly before buyers have a look for themselves. You don’t want a potential problem with the system to have buyers concerned or second guessing themselves.
Re-do the caulk.
If you are in an area with harsh winters or extreme heat, replace old caulk or add to any newly damaged areas in order to bring your pool back to better condition and help prevent future damage from occurring. Fresh caulk will also be a different color because it’s new and not weathered, so it may be worth redoing for structural purposes as well as a clean look.
Take the extra time to garden and get rid of dead or decaying shrubs from the winter weather, and plant far enough away from the pool where debris won’t pose an issue. Fencing is usually ideal to have and is often times required for safety purposes. If you already have a fence, consider power washing, repainting, or any maintenance you can do. Be sure you are up to date with any rules and regulations for pools in your area.
Chemical balance and filters.
This is important for safety reasons, and so that your pool is the sparkling crystal-clear color that will be enticing to buyers.
Have a pleasing way of storing pool supplies like a shed or storage unit that matches the tone of your outdoor space. Whether its chemicals, toys, or the pool cover—nothing should be left lying around. Showing how organized the pool equipment is will also hold a strong appeal with potential buyers.
Make a splash with possible buyers by keeping these tips in mind!
Though basic sewing is not a difficult skill to master, even the most seasoned sewer could benefit from an update on essential measurement conversions, a breakdown of fabrics, and tips for when to use certain threads.
Follow this guide to all things sewing to refresh your skills or, perhaps, pick up some bits of information you may not have known before!
Sewing kit essentials
Best use for threads:Cotton: use lightweight cottons and fabrics, linens, and rayon
Silk: silk and wool
Polyester: all-purpose; good with most any other fabrics
Metallic: machine embroidery; handbags, shoes, other accessories
Let’s face it: cleaning is not fun for most people. In fact, it’s universally one of the least exciting necessities of life. However, if you’re the type who finds yourself spending hours, if not days, getting your home in tip-top shape, allow these essential hacks to guide you into the cleaning promise land.
It’s no secret that our bedrooms can easily become catchalls for the items we don’t want guests to see when walking through other parts of the house. Because we are typically the only ones in this room, it’s easy to let spots like the top of the dresser collect a pile of tiny trinkets we can’t find the time to put away. To keep this area organized, gather small items like hair ties, bobby pins, and clips in small jars. Likewise, keep easily mangled jewelry in a small dish to prevent a tangled mess.
Because the washer is washing our clothes, we don’t often think of it as being one of the dirtiest spots in the house, even though this can be the case. It’s important to give your washing machine a good scrub every so often to prevent the buildup of grime that can leave your clothes feeling less than fresh. Run a few cups of vinegar through a regular cycle, followed by a run with baking soda. Wipe the sides clean when you’re finished and your washer will look like new!
Between rushing to get out the door in the morning and wanting nothing more than to simply brush our teeth and go to bed come nighttime, our bathrooms could use a little organization and TLC. To prevent a jumbled mess, and help you find what you’re looking for much easier, use small baskets and dividers in bathroom drawers to keep items like hair brushes, hot tools, and products easily accessible. You’d be surprised the difference it makes when you don’t have to spend minutes searching for your essentials.
Save money—and the planet
Store-bought cleaning products can be costly, but more importantly, they are full of harsh chemicals that are not only bad for the environment, but also for people. The solution? Make your own! You don’t have to be a DIY master for this, either. All you need for an all-purpose cleaner, for example, are some citrus peels, vinegar, and essential oils.Tips
Avid DIYer Mila Moraga-Holz had design sense instilled in her from a young age. Despite growing up in a remote part of South America, she learned the importance of creating beautiful spaces with the tools you are given—a talent and passion she documents through her design-and-lifestyle blog, Jest Café, and in the intricate renovation projects she takes on with her Los Angeles home.
Where did you grow up, and what was your childhood like?
I grew up in the south of Chile, far away from the rest of the world, but I still felt connected to it by my parents. I was surrounded by nature and love. Growing up, my mother and father filled our home with beautiful things. They designed our house from the ground up, and they decorated it with art, plants, and fun furniture—specifically rustic and vintage items. Our home was carefully curated, which is not an easy thing to do when you live so remotely.
Have you always had a passion for expressing yourself creatively through design? Was this something you discovered at an early age?
My mom always asked my opinion when decorating my bedroom, and she supported my crazy ideas, like painting all the walls different colors. I was also very interested in DIY projects and loved doing needlework, but I didn’t know of anybody who did these things for a living, so I didn’t pursue them as a career. My parents were design aficionados, but in their daily lives my mom owned a very successful cordonería, or sewing goods store, and my dad was a lawyer; my world was very, very small.
When did you first start doing your own interior design work?
I have tried to bring something special to every room and home I’ve ever lived in, but I started to actively pursue my passion for design in 2015 when I started my blog, where I was inspired by other bloggers to do what I love.
How did you choose a name for your blog? Is there any significance behind it?
I wanted a name that wasn’t too serious but that embodied a place where people could gather, be entertained, talk, and have fun. I want my readers to laugh and feel connected to a community.
I took the word “jest” from the book Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, which talks about the importance of entertainment in our lives and how the pleasures we choose define who we are. In the end, though, I just liked how the words looked together.
Where or what do you turn to for inspiration for your projects?
I subscribe to a lot of design magazines. Architectural Digest Spain is my favorite, but Instagram is another important resource. I have saved many images from these sources that help me come up with new ideas.
What is the first step you take when embarking on a new project for your home? Do you look at each room as a separate element or try to renovate the space more holistically?
I start with an object or an image that inspires me, and I move on from there. I definitely keep all the rooms in mind when decorating a space, especially in my home because it is very small—nine hundred square feet—so the flow between rooms is particularly important. I like the door frames to act as windows to the next space, which means that the color palettes have to work together.
It’s easy to see your appreciation of color in your spaces. How do you go about selecting a color scheme?
I get inspiration from nature, among other places. Any colors that work well together in nature will work well together in your home. I also pay attention to the shade of colors that I see throughout the day, and I try to use the ones that inspire me in my house. To narrow them down, I take a photo of a palette I like (a flower, for example) and I find matches in Photoshop or the Pantone app to come up with a final color scheme. As much as I like color, I like to keep a room within a palette and I try not to go too crazy with it.
How do you balance the color transition from one room to another?
I think the best decision is an informed one. I take my time when choosing a color. First, I look at the possibilities in Photoshop, and then I go to the paint store to get a lot of sample patches that I stick to the wall. I live with them on the wall for days until I can narrow down the choices to three. I buy paint samples of those choices to paint large patches on the wall, and, again, I live with them for a few days. I pay attention to how the colors change throughout the day until I am sure which one is the right one.
How do you decide what furniture to incorporate into each room?
My first thought when looking for furniture is the price. I have a budget, and the furniture I choose has to be within that budget. My next considerations are color and shape. I like statement furniture that is different, but my husband cares more about comfort, so I need to keep that in mind, too.
Tell us a bit about your most recent home project and your thought processes behind it:
My most recent renovation was my kitchen, which I did when I was eight months pregnant. That room started with a color: berry. I knew I wanted the kitchen cabinets to be painted in a fun hue, and I ended up using a color inspired by Farrow & Ball’s Radicchio. After that, everything else followed. Creating a room—deciding on shapes, textures, colors, lighting, and tiles—is a wonderful process that I love. Seeing it all come together is so exciting! It gives me life. I know it sounds corny, but it’s true.
What is most challenging about embarking on a new DIY or renovation project?
The most challenging aspect is envisioning the end product. I am good at seeing the big picture, but mistakes happen, and sometimes I need to take detours. A good quality I have is that I make fast decisions and don’t dwell in self-doubt too much. Plus, when you have a small budget, there is not much room for different options or for making mistakes.
Why are plants and flowers important to you, and how do you feel they contribute to the look of a space?
Plants were a major decoration item in my home when I was growing up, so I naturally incorporate them into my home as an adult. They warm up a room and make it come alive.
Did you conceptualize and paint the murals, like the ones in your kitchen and living room, yourself? How did you create them?
The mural in my living room was inspired by a textile by Roberto Burle Marx, and I created the mural in the kitchen with Adobe Sketch.
Do you have any exciting projects coming up?
I am working on an affordable and colorful home goods line. It’s taking a while to get it off the ground because I have three boys and designing is not my full-time job, but it will happen soon.
We all know the saying “new year, new you,” but let’s face it: there’s a big difference between saying and doing. Regardless of your resolutions, these five apps will help you make promises that you’re actually able to keep this year.
Raise your hand if your schedule seems jam-packed? Yes, life is hectic. However, Evernote can come in handy when you have a to-do list that is a mile long. Whether you utilize the app to create checklists (think grocery shopping) or to just simply jot down your crazy ideas in the middle of the night, all important details will be in one place.
Ah, budgeting. Staying on top of your money is a great habit to develop, but can take some fine tuning. Fortunately, Mint is an all-in-one finance app that not only allows you to easily create budgets, but also provides you with suggestions based on your spending. You can also track and pay your bills, get alerts, and schedule payments on the spot.
Getting in shape is always a popular resolution that oftentimes flounders come the beginning of February. Whether you plan on joining a gym or pounding the pavement, accountability is key. MyFitnessPal includes easy-to-use step and calorie counters to track food intake and exercise. With a database of more than 5 million foods, a barcode nutrition scanner, and a recipe importer, you’ll be able to create a healthy balance between exercise and diet.
Resolution: Reduce stress.
App to download: Headspace
In search of a stress-free life after the holidays? Consider mindful meditation. It’s a popular practice that acknowledges reality, lets the mind wander, and accepts thoughts as they come and go. Headspace provides guided meditation sessions and mindfulness training. Once you learn the basics, you can subscribe to unlock hundreds of hours of content and track your progress and days meditated.
Resolution: Give back.
App to download: Goodshop
If you’re looking for a way to donate your money, download Goodshop. It has to be the easiest way to support your favorite cause. Simply pick your favorite stores (Amazon, Target, Sephora, GAP, etc.), save big with thousands of deals and coupons, choose your favorite cause from a list of over 110,000 nonprofits, and Goodshop will donate to that your cause! You’re practically getting paid to do something good—a win-win!
Download these apps, and watch as your resolutions transform into healthy habits!
Who says your New Year’s resolutions have to be all about you? If you’re a pet parent, there’s a large chance that your beloved animal is an important member of your family.
Instead of just focusing on self-love, remember that your companion could benefit greatly from a little reflection on the past year and some positive changes in the year to come.
Say no to that extra treat.
Overweight pets are at a higher risk for a number of health issues, such as diabetes, joint and bone damage, heart disease, and decreased liver function. Instead of using food to motivate him, develop a new reward system for good behavior that involves offering a new bone or extra play time.
Keep them looking spiffy.
Matted fur can be uncomfortable and may even cause sores to develop on your pet’s skin. This year, resolve to take your pet to the groomer regularly. Depending upon the breed, certain pets should go every four weeks, while others can wait over a month. In addition to getting him groomed, make sure that his nails are trimmed. If you feel uncomfortable doing it yourself, the groomer can clip his nails as he gets a haircut.
Spend more time together.
In the business of everyday life, this can be difficult, but promising a little quality time with your pet can boost his health, as well as your own. In fact, studies show that a good relationship with your pet can improve both your emotional and psychological state of being.
Get your dog active.
It’s no shock that dogs need regular exercise. This year, promise to take your dog on regular walks, at least once a day. Activity levels vary depending on their breed and size. For instance, a larger breed, like a golden retriever, requires two hours of exercise a day. Regardless of the type, make sure that your pet has plenty of time to run around and play.