Resolution vs. Evolution

Happy New Year!

Re-printing this oldie but goody from last year’s EasyPeasy Living Newsletter. (Click here to subscribe to our FREE monthly newsletter.)

Be honest. How many New Year’s resolutions have you actually kept? I mean kept long term…as in accomplishments you have maintained over the years since you made up your mind to change?

Most of us resolve on January 1 to get fit, lose weight, get organized, quit smoking, save money… We jump head first into it only to burn out and give up before Valentine’s Day. Many of us keep making the same resolutions year after year…and fail at them year after year.

For it to work and to stick, it requires commitment to real change…life change…permanent change. That’s not something to undertake on a whim or to jump into without a plan, especially since our self-esteem is usually the biggest casualty of non-success. Resolutions may be made overnight but are only truly achieved over a lifetime. They require personal evolution.

Anyone who has studied science knows that evolution takes time and patience…perseverance, adaptability and survival. To put the odds in your favor, set yourself up for success:

  1. Be realistic in your expectations. Even small improvements will move you in the right direction. 
  2. Plan ahead for the challenges. Have a back-up plan for when life gets too busy, your energy level or bank account too low, or your will too weak to stick to your primary plan.
  3. Create reminders of why you want to change so that you can talk yourself through the temptation to quit.
  4. Keep yourself accountable. It’s always more fun with a friend along to give you moral support.
  5. Reward yourself along the way. Decide ahead of time how you will celebrate the small, interim victories, and do it!
  6. Give yourself credit more than criticism. Even the smallest victories deserve acknowledgment!
  7. Expect setbacks and don’t allow them to derail you. Remember that losing is just quitting while you are still behind.

This year, why not just resolve to evolve? You have an entire lifetime to complete the transformation. It doesn’t all have to happen in just one year!

I’ve Got Something in the Oven

Christmas Cookies

No, no, no…it’s not that kind of “something”…those days are over (thank goodness)! But it’s not too early to get your holiday bake on. Whether you are baking pies for Thanksgiving, Christmas cookies for Santa, yummy bread to give as gifts, or quiche for a New Year’s brunch, planning and doing a bit ahead of time will reduce some of that holiday stress…save that for dealing with the in-laws and your sugared-up kids!

  1. Start by creating space in your freezer. Use up some of the stuff that’s been in there for awhile before it expires. (If you lost power during one of the recent storms, here’s your silver lining.)
  2. Next, pick up extra baking staples during your regular shopping trips whenever you see them on sale. Flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, butter…did you know that you can freeze your butter?
  3. Make a list of all the old family favorites and any new goodies you’d like to bake this year. (If your family is anything like mine, this alone will make you realize that you should have started on December 26 of last year.)  Gather your recipes in one place or include cookbook names and page numbers on your list so that you have it handy when ready to dive in.
  4. Make a list of any special ingredients you don’t normally keep on hand so that you can keep an eye out for sales and purchase them as you see them. Many items go on sale right after Halloween or Thanksgiving, and coupons abound.
  5. Whip up a batch of cookie dough or pie pastry as time allows. It literally takes only minutes, and if you start making just one or two batches each weekend, you’ll have a wide assortment by the time you need them.
  6. Cookie dough can be rolled into logs (for slicing), cut into shapes, or shaped into individual balls and then frozen. Pie shells can be shaped and frozen raw, and quick breads can be baked first before being wrapped and frozen. Just be careful to package everything well in airtight freezer containers or wraps and label them clearly. (I wondered why my Maple Shortbread tasted so peanut buttery last year!)
  7. Just pull your goodies out of the freezer and bake as and when they are needed. Most recipes can be baked straight from the freezer but be sure to allow additional baking time.

No more marathon baking sessions three days before your party or giving away stale cookies because you couldn’t get them delivered right away. Bake only what you need, package them up and deliver them fresh from your oven straight to your boss’ desk. Can you say “Christmas bonus?”

Scare Up Some Fun This Halloween!

Halloween Spider attack!

Pipe cleaners and black pom-poms never looked so scary!

For many of us, Frankenstorm was scary enough but for kids, Halloween is a big deal that only comes around once a year. So don’t let Hurricane Sandy have the last cackle. Even if your Halloween celebration was postponed or your trick-or-treating canceled, you can still scare up some fun and make a few spooky memories that don’t include gusty winds and flooding.

The good thing about Halloween is that shabby is chic and less-than-perfect is perfect. It was a holiday made for making do with what’s on hand around your home. And it’s the ideal way to use up some of those excess craft supplies that seem to multiply in your closet. I’ve put together a few of my favorite ideas in this Homemade Halloween How-to page in the Parenting Tools section of this blog. I apologize for my tardiness, but hopefully you will keep it in mind for next year even if you don’t have an opportunity to do any of these today.

The important thing to remember is that there are a million and one ways to make it fun with little time or money. It doesn’t take much to thrill your little goblins, and it’s still not too late for gray spaghetti brains and monster toe hot dogs for dinner.

Stay safe and have a Spook-tacular Halloween!

“Where’s the Beef?” in Your Thanksgiving?

It’s almost Halloween, and that can only mean one thing: Time to start thinking about Christmas! (Or so the retailers would have you believe.)

But what about that other holiday…you know, the one where we watch football and stuff our faces so that we have plenty of energy to shop til we drop on Black Friday?…the one that heralds the coming of the Christmas season and the official start of the decorating wars?…when we get the green light to start spending money we don’t have on things we don’t need? What’s that called again? Oh yeah…Thanksgiving! Thanks giving…giving thanks.

Thanksgiving is unique among the end-of-year holidays because it really lasts for only one day (okay, maybe two or even three if you are the one doing the cooking for the feast). Even Halloween gets bigger billing these days, with all the Halloween decorations, parties, costume preparations, and spooky movie marathons on TV. By the time the big Thanksgiving holiday rolls around, we are usually so focused on football and eating and planning out our 4AM shopping strategy that we forget what it is really supposed to be about. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?

Well, it is not about extravagant spreads of food. It is not about beautiful, impressive tablescapes a la Martha Stewart. It is not about kickoff time or fires in the fireplace or putting up the Christmas tree. It is not about traveling or pumpkin pie or gourds or falling leaves. It is not even about pilgrims or native Americans or survival. It is about gratitude…gratitude for life and whatever it has handed you…gratitude for blessings and gratitude for the hardships that make you appreciate the blessings…gratitude for what you have now and gratitude for what you once had…gratitude for the love of others and for the ability to love them back…gratitude for hope and for the ability to keep on hoping even in the most hopeless of situations.

Gratitude is an attitude. It is the only thing that makes it possible to get through even the worst of days and still want to wake up and try again tomorrow. Want the secret to “easy peasy living”? It’s gratitude, and it deserves your full attention on at least one day of the year. So this year, before you dive head first into that turkey with all the trimmings, take a little time to ponder all you have instead of all you wish you had, and have a truly Happy Thanksgiving!