Must Haves for Back to School

Some may already be back to school BUT for those in NJ, they still have some time to soak up the sun.  I honestly don’t know many who think back-to-school shopping is an exciting time of the year except those who graduated from crayons and glue sticks to a college campus!   I am sure many wish colleges and universities sent out a handy school supply shopping list like they did during the first 12 years of school.  This way we could put together the must-haves for those first time college students….

School in style

Good grades are important, but who said studying can’t be stylish, too? Whether you’re hitting the library, meeting a project group at a local coffee shop or running to class, there’s a Thirty-One bag for every student.

Are you a nothing-but-the-essentials kind of person? The Call Me Crossbody is the perfect size for your smartphone and a few cards when you’re on-the-go. If you need to pack a little more but still love the convenience of a hands-free bag, a Boutique Backpack can hold a few books, a water bottle, keys and more while also adding a chic pop to a casual outfit. And if you need to pack for a day’s worth of classes or need a work bag for your internship, the Around Town® Tote is perfect for books, folders and your laptop.

Dorm organization hacks

Space is limited in a college dorm room, so maximize every inch by investing in utility products which are durable, functional and come in the cutest prints.

Stow a Large Utility Tote  (LUT) under your bed to hold shoes or seasonal clothes that could take up space in your closet. With tons of prints available, from staple neutrals to whimsical cacti, you can match your LUT to your bedding or wall art. A Stand Tall Bin is the perfect size for a hamper or laundry basket, plus it comes in handy during move-in and collapses for easy storage. Guess what?  The Stand Tall Bin is on SALE this month.  Get TWO with a $35 purchase!  Finally, organize your desk or study space with a  Fold N’ FileTM, Double Duty® Caddy or Littles Carry-AllTM Caddy to hold documents, pens and office supplies.

Lunch break

You may not be packing PB&Js for the cafeteria anymore, but every busy college student needs to eat – and chances are you’ll be doing it on the go. Make snacking between classes a breeze with a lunch thermal that matches your personality. Choose a Thermal Tote in a bold, bright print or go for the Lunch Break Thermal Ltd. in elevated fabrics and finishes. With so many options, there’s a great lunch bag for every student.

Not your average backpack

You don’t have to leave your trusty backpack behind in grade school. In fact, when your classes and meetings are on opposite sides of campus, there’s no better way to stay organized and prepared than with a backpack for every occasion.

Heading over to the rec center for a quick workout? Grab a Cinch Sac or Sling-Back Bag to carry your water, headphones, deodorant and a change of clothes. Looking for something a little roomier for class? Go with the Adventures Backpack, complete with a thermal pocket for drinks and snacks, or the Crossbody Organizing Tote for organization on the go.

Weekend reset

After you’ve worked hard all week, it’s nice to have the weekend to relax, have fun and take some time for yourself. Whether it means staying on campus to hang out with your roommates or heading home to see your family for a few days, these stylish, versatile solutions will have you covered. Opt for an All About the Benjamins® wallet for a lunch date with friends, or choose a Retro Metro® Bag to bring along to the store or while running errands. If you like to spend your weekends at home, pack up an Away for the Weekender with all your overnight essentials.

What’s on your back to school shopping list? Can’t decide what bag will fit your needs, I’m happy to help you find the perfect solution for your organizing or back to school struggles.

Have a blessed day!

Tasty Tuesday: Wicked Good Salmon Cakes

Today’s YUMMY recipe is from Rachel at Wicked Good Spice Mixes.  If you haven’t tried any of their products, you are missing out on some AMAZING things.  I am a HUGE fan their spices and love to use their flavored vinegars on my salad in place of dressing.  A little goes a long way…

Ingredients:

Instructions

  1. Drain liquid from canned salmon
  2. Combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl.
  3. Mix thoroughly.
  4. Shape into 6 large salmon cakes or 10 small cakes.
  5. Place 2 tablespoons of coconut oil into a medium size skillet and heat over medium heat
  6. Place three of the salmon cakes into the skillet  and cook for approximately for 4 minutes or until golden brown.
  7. Flip and cook until other side is golden brown

Serve with Wicked Good Achilles Mediterranean Roasted Veggies.

The main reason the company was started was to show people how easy, healthy and fun it can be to make a delicious meal at home!  Rachel always thought the hardest thing about cooking is how much of this spice and how much of that spice you should add.  So go ahead and throw all of those spices you use infrequently and start using our spice blends! They are fresh and economical!  Our blends are perfectly formulated to use for just about everything you like to cook.

BREAKING NEWS!

Renowned Chef Greg Manning from The Serenity Cafe in Toms River  is now using our spice blends and fruit infused balsamic vinegars to prepare some of his fantastic meals!  Greg now has three restaurants, The Serenity Cafe in Toms River, The White Butterfly Serenity West in Jackson and Serenity South in Wareton, Ne Jersey.  If you are looking for a great place to eat with friendly and attentive staff, look no further!  Eat Local! Shop Local! Support Local Business!

Have a recipe you want to share?  Send me an email.  If we use it in our blog, you will receive some “happy mail” from me.

The Power of Confession

Thank you Kelly Balarie for today’s message.

When he got in the car, he kept his head down, looked away, and muttered some words. Not hearing him outright, I said, “Son, what is it?”

He muttered, “I made a mistake. I looked at someone’s paperwork at school and copied their answer. I didn’t tell my teacher, but I told God ‘I’m sorry’. I will never do it again.”

I conveyed to him that he did right thing by confessing to God and deciding to change. God forgives. God keeps no records of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5). Our sins are cast into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19).

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9, ESV)

Jesus takes away the burden of sin, when – through confession – we allow him to do so.

But, later that night (and I mean way-late), I felt a finger-poke in my side.

There he was, standing there, fretting, and worried. He cried, “Mommy, I have to text my teacher now. I feel so guilty. I want this off of my back.”

And, he did. The next morning, he wrote her a text essentially saying he was sorry. That he didn’t want to carry this anymore. That he needs to feel better.

And, after he pressed send, I was amazed. The transformation was huge. He went from being down and dejected to dancing and jubilant. He jumped around the house rejoicing and full of new life.

This is a picture of repentance. When we let go of the guilt, we carry to receive the blessing of the cross that Jesus carried – we always find new life.

Part of the process is forgiving our self. Have you forgiven yourself for the wrongs, the guilt, or the burdens that weigh you down? If Jesus forgave you, can’t you forgive yourself too? If Jesus paid the ultimate price, hasn’t he fully purchased all your mistakes?

If you’ve confessed your sins to God, but still don’t feel life, you might consider doing these three things:

1. Confessing to any other people involved, as God leads you.

2. Letting go internally. This means you release the guilt, shame and burdens to Jesus from within you and receive his gift of forgiveness, once and for all.

3. Choosing not to dwell any more on what issue God has already set you free from.

I’ll never forget the look on my son’s face after he got that burden “off his back.” We can do the same today. Freedom is right on the other side of asking for and receiving forgiveness.

Have a blessed day!

Thankful Thursday: Mistakes

A mistake is defined as “an action or judgment that is misguided or wrong.” .  We have all made them from the little ones to the ones which wreck our lives or those around us.  Do you think of them as leaning lessons and are grateful for the mistake?  OR do you beat yourself up swearing to never do anything “stupid” like that again?

I will admit, depending on the mistake – I can go between the two.  No matter how you handle the mistake, you are not alone. It’s likely all of us have repeated some of our mistakes at one time or another and reacted differently each time.  The truth is if we never made mistakes, we wouldn’t learn much so it is one of those things we should be thankful for.

The good news is, you can learn from your mistakes. Then, instead of repeating them again, you’ll gain valuable wisdom to help you in the future.

1. Acknowledge Your Errors

Regardless of the size of the mistake or who it has effected,  you have to accept full responsibility for your role in what happened.  You need to ask yourself, “What role did I play in this?”.  The answer can be uncomfortable sometimes (okay, maybe most of the time), but you need to own your part.  Once you have said “I messed up,”  you can start to learn from it.  This is all part of changing and hopefully, not making the same mistake again.

2. Ask Yourself Tough Questions

You don’t want to dwell on your mistakes (this is a tough one for me) BUT reflecting on them can be productive. I don’t know about you but when I dwell on mistakes, I tend to beat myself up a little bit.  So, if you ask yourself these tough questions, it can turn a bashing session into a productive one:

  • What went wrong?
  • What could I do better next time?
  • What did I learn from this?

Write down your responses and you’ll see the situation a little more clearly. Seeing your answers on paper can help you think more logically about an irrational or emotional experience.  Let’s face it, we have all had them at one time.

3. Make A Plan

Beating yourself up for your mistakes won’t help you down the road.  It’s important to spend the bulk of your time thinking about how to do better in the future.  Make a plan to help avoid making a similar mistake. Be as detailed as possible but remain flexible since your plan may need to change  No matter how you track your progress, find a way to hold yourself accountable.  Remember what works for one person might not work with someone else.

4. Make It Harder To Mess Up

How will you be sure not to mess up again?  Does willpower alone prevent you from taking an unhealthy shortcut or from giving into immediate gratification (I want what I want when I want it). Increase your chances of success by making it harder to mess up again. Find creative ways to become more disciplined. If using credit cards is your struggle – cut up the cards or freeze them.  Yup, in a big block of ice.  Whenever you try to thaw the block of ice, you will realize how ridiculous the situation is and stop spending money you don’t have.

5. Create A List Of Reasons Why You Don’t Want To Make The Mistake Again

We all have weak moments and the next thing you know, we have made the same mistake again!  Why not create a list of all the reasons why you should stay on track and be self-disciplined,  you can refer to during tough times. Put the list some place where you can see it – if shopping is a problem, put the list in your wallet next to your debit/credit cards.  If flirting on social media is a thing, post your list on your computer so when you start scrolling or are tempted you see the list.  Is it a guarantee?  NO but it may help you to resist the temptation.  Self-discipline is like a muscle. Each time you delay gratification and make a healthy choice, you grow mentally stronger.

Mistakes aren’t always one big blunder. Sometimes, they are a series of little choices leading to failure.  So pay attention to your mistakes, no matter how big or how small they might seem. Recognize each mistake can be an opportunity to build mental muscle and become better.

Have a blessed day!

How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Do you wish you could sleep like a baby?  Do you wish you could fall asleep and STAY asleep all night?  Do you wish if you woke up to go to the bathroom, you could easily fall back to sleep?  Do your kids have a bedtime routine?  Then why shouldn’t you?

I seem to have little to no trouble falling asleep BUT these days, I have trouble staying asleep.  It seems like after 2 or 3 hours, my body wants to wake up and then I can’t get back to sleep.  I have tried many natural alternatives but most leave me feeling like a zombie in the morning.  Mornings are rough with the MS so I don’t need to complicate things with any thing that may have helped me sleep during the night.

Hubby researched this and came up with a pre-bedtime routine—a.k.a practicing good “sleep hygiene”— which they said would help me fall asleep more easily at night and stay asleep until morning. Honestly, some nights it works and some nights it doesn’t but I think it is an MS thing….. So if you have trouble going to sleep or staying asleep, here are some times which might help:

#1: Stay on Schedule.

Going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day—even on weekends—is crucial for setting your body’s internal clock, which experts call your circadian rhythm. Staying consistent also means the quality of your sleep will be better.  I know this one is tough but it really does make a difference.  Most nights, I am in bed or at least headed to bed by 10:15PM.  It allows me to fall asleep easily but it doesn’t always guarantee I will stay asleep during the night.  Believe it or not, in the beginning I actually wrote it in my planner to go to bed at 10PM just do I would remember.  LOL

#2: Be Mindful of What you Eat and Drink—and When.

I grew up hearing “don’t eat before bed” but it never really made sense to me.  Then while on my weightless journey, I never ate at least 2 hours before bed because I didn’t want to gain weight.  LOL.  We all know nicotine and caffeine are stimulants and take hours to wear off, so they make it harder to fall—and stay—asleep. The key is to avoid them for 4 – 6 hours before bed.  Alcohol can initially make you feel sleepy, BUT it lowers the quality of your shut-eye.  Go easy on any liquids before you bed to prevent trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

#3: Create a Comfy Bedroom.

Is your bedroom an oasis?  Do you feel relaxed when you walk in or is it full of clutter and you get stressed?  Your room should be peaceful and conducive to sleeping by keeping it quiet, cool, and dark.  Earplugs can help if you live in a noisy area. Noisy environments interrupt your sleep and reduce its quality, even when you don’t realize that it’s happening.  Outside light can keep you awake, so try room-darkening shades. Did you know your mattress and pillow also make a big difference?  Ideally, mattresses should be replaced every five to seven years and pillows should be replaced annually. A mattress should feel comfortable, and if you sleep with a partner, make sure it’s big enough so you both have plenty of space.  I find the smallest noise wakes me up so I sleep with a fan going year round.  This blocks out the sound and the hum is soothing and helps me to fall asleep.

#4: Start an Evening Ritual.

Whether it’s curling up with a book, listening to calming music or taking a warm bath, doing the same, relaxing thing every night will signal to your body it’s time to settle down.  Do you read with a “paper” book or do you read on a kindle or electronic devise?  Believe it or not,  watching TV, looking at a laptop, tablet or smart phone screen before going to bed can trigger your brain to stay awake. The safest strategy is to just put all electronics away in the evening, or at the very least, about 30 minutes before bed. Give yourself 20 minutes before bed for the one thing that calms you down. Maybe you read a book, do a guided meditation, sketch, or have some tea. Can’t shut your brain off?  Try “brain dumping” by writing everything down before you go to bed.  This empties your mind and allows it to relax just long enough to fall asleep.

#5: Don’t Watch the Clock.

Staring at the clock when you can’t sleep can stress you out and make it even harder to snooze. Keep your bedroom clock turned away from you so you won’t be tempted to watch time tick by. If 20 minutes pass and you still can’t fall asleep, get out of bed and do something peaceful until you feel drowsy.

What is your nightly routine to help you sleep at night?  Have a tip to help you relax?  We would love to hear from you…

Have a blessed day!