Tag Archives: hobby

Lil Red’s Book Club: The Authenticity Project By Clare Pooley Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: The Authenticity Project By Clare Pooley Edition

Hello and welcome to a new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Today, without giving any spoilers away, we will be discussing a charming feel good book by Clare Pooley called The Authenticity Project. Typically, I tend to shy away from “feel good” books because I like the sense of adventure that comes with a thriller and I enjoy being shocked as well as trying to guess the grand reveal. However, after reading my last book club choice of The Wrong Family, I definitely needed a palette cleanser!

I really did love the last feel good book that I read called Miss Benson’s Beetle and wanted another story about ordinary people. From the pile of books that my mom got me from the library (Angel!), The Authenticity Project caught my eye. Just the title alone intrigued me and I wanted to know more. In its brief synopsis on the jacket, I learned that The Authenticity Project is a notebook that encourages people to share their truth honestly in its pages if they happen to find it.

This nice, light story line based around a simple but exciting concept sounded like just what I needed and I decided to give it a try. I am glad I did! The Authenticity Project was a delightful read so let’s get to it:

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Julian is a former famed artist who was very prominent in the social scene. Now, as a seventy-nine year old widower, he lives the life of a recluse and is incredibly lonely. Starved for connection, he decides to start The Authenticity Project in which he shares his story and shortcomings and encourages everyone who comes across it to do the same, pass it on, and live a more honest life. Julian thinks that the stories that each page holds has the potential to help someone but, little does he know, his project is about to turn his own world upside down.

The Authenticity Project ends up being found by Monica, an uptight cafe owner who yearns for the picture perfect life of marriage and a baby. After reading Julian’s story, she feels inclined to help him break free from his lonely life and begins advertising for someone to teach a weekly art class at her cafe with Julian in mind. To her own surprise, Monica wrote frankly about herself in the book too and passed it on to be found by the next person.

The next person? Hazard. The person after? Riley. Then Alice. And so on and so forth until The Authenticity Project’s “magic” creates a group of complete strangers who come together thanks to the stories on the pages with Julian right in the middle. The book worked in favor for Julian but how are the lives of the other characters in this interweaving tale benefiting from it? Read The Authenticity Project and find out!

As you all know, I love a book with multiple narrators and The Authenticity Project has six so, obviously, I was in heaven. I was excited to see how each character developed once they found the notebook and how they would show up among the existing characters. Despite having six narrators, The Authenticity Project balanced all of them beautifully and I felt a connection in some way to each of them. I also never felt like I was lacking in information about any of them because their highly personal notebook entry is shared when the character is introduced.

The idea of six lives melding together because of something as simple as writing in a notebook is such a lovely one and it was hard to read The Authenticity Project without smiling. I am also sure that many of you will be just as obsessed with the sassy high fashion senior citizen, Julian, as I was. He was fabulous and I aspire to be just as fierce as him when I’m almost eighty. 🙂

ANYWHO, my only qualm with this book is that it was a bit too obvious for my taste. It, honestly, felt like a more modern and grown up Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants. Sorry lol, I’ve been waiting this entire post to say that!! But there is some truth to that. Not only could you see each new development happen from a mile away but some of the character choices were a bit tired. See: Influencer whose life isn’t as perfect as she posts online as your starring example!

This seems like harsh criticism for a book that I just said was a delight but it really was and I enjoyed reading it a lot. It just had some of the classic feel good flaws and I wish that there was a little more depth to it. Overall, I am going to rate The Authenticity Project with a 6.25 out of ten stars. It was the perfect palette cleanser after just finishing a really intense book and if you are in that situation too, then I highly recommend it. However, if you’re looking for a more groundbreaking feel good read, then you could definitely take or leave this one.

What was the last book you read? What should I read next? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Learning A New Craft In Lock Down

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Learning A New Craft In Lock Down

Hello! Life in lock down is, honestly, so boring at this point but the safety of ourselves, loved ones, and complete strangers is important and it makes all of the monotony worth it. If you have exhausted all of your ideas to keep you occupied at home, then it might be time to retire from your streaming services and try a new craft. There are so many amazing videos, kits, and how to guides out there to create something new and, today, we’re going to discuss a few of those options:

Knit Kits:

If you are interested in knitting, crochet, or macrame or would like to take the hobby up again, then there are so many websites that you can purchase kits from. Ranging in difficulty from beginner to intermediate and advanced, each kit provides you with the pattern, step by step guide, and materials needed for you to make a scarf, sweater, or blanket. Stitch & Story, We Are Knitters, and Wool And The Gang are all great websites to browse through for your next project! When the weather is nice, you could even host a social distanced knitting circle in your own backyard.

Restoring Old Furniture:

A trip to the local Goodwill, Salvation Army, or even shopping online through Facebook Marketplace can give you access to all kinds of gently used furniture just begging for a makeover. You could repair, repaint, or reupholster new life into secondhand items and redo your entire living room. Not to mention, make some extra cash if you ever want to turn your craft into a side hustle. Don’t forget garage sale style apps as well as Poshmark if you would like to profit from your new hobby.

Building With LEGO:

My boyfriend and I absolutely love building with LEGO and, although it isn’t a craft per se, I just had to include it on this list. Did you know that a LEGO replica of Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night will soon be available for purchase? What about a botanical collection that boasts bouquets, bonsai trees, and succulents? LEGO is constantly adding new sets with unique pieces and colors and are always finding innovative ways to work surprises into each build, which makes it an exciting hobby to have.

You can showcase your creative side with LEGO through free building or incorporating different sets into your home decor. I would sure like to have a LEGO Starry Night hanging on my wall!

Homemade Products:

Making your own cleaning products, candles, and bath and body care can be a really fun hobby, makes great gifts, and helps save you money. Online guides will help you develop your new craft and you can even experiment with your own recipes once you have a better idea for the best ingredients and techniques. You will feel comforted in knowing exactly what is going into the products that you are using and, who knows, it could just turn into a side hustle in the future if you create something really good!

Don’t forget to check in with your local businesses and boutiques because some of the owners might be offering online workshops for homemaking different products or art. For example, the local specialty knitting shop in my area, Harps & Thistles, offers knitting kits too and it’s always cool to shop local. 🙂

Have you learned a new craft during the pandemic? How about improved on any old hobbies? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

 

Enjoying The Kitchen As A Family

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Enjoying The Kitchen As A Family

The kitchen is often considered the heart of the home so why not get better acquainted with it during your next family night as opposed to the usual movies or games. Kitchens are meant to be used and enjoyed and creating a meal with your family gives you the opportunity to work as a team in a different activity while still spending quality time together. Who knows, you might just have a secret chef in your home! Try the following during your next family night for some good food and good fun:

Agree On A Menu:

If you are going to prepare an entire dinner with your family, then it is best to agree on a menu beforehand so you can pick up all of the necessary ingredients and save you from any surprise trips to the store. Is there going to be a cuisine style that should be adhered to? Is each person going to make their own dish or will tasks be delegated? Will there be enough options for people with dietary needs? All of this should come into consideration while preparing the menu to ensure that everything goes smoothly while cooking your meal.

Don’t forget to read your recipes carefully for instructions that you must complete beforehand or a crazy long cooking time so you can plan accordingly. It also doesn’t hurt to assign stations for everyone to work in so no one gets their toes stepped on and remember to tend to any fridge repairs that need done so all of your leftovers can keep!

Baking & Decorating:

If you’d rather move right onto dessert than try your hand at cooking a whole meal as a family, then that’s okay too! Baking and decorating desserts is fun for children and adults alike. You could even incorporate a competition element to the evening by offering a small prize for the best tasting (or decorated) dessert. Classic desserts are sure to please but there are plenty of creative updates on old favorites that you can try like cake pops and hot chocolate bombs. Making your own chocolate is also a great activity for those with a sweet tooth. 😀

Smoothies:

Going out for a hike with the family in the afternoon and returning home to make some smoothies seems like the perfect way to spend a spring day. Encourage everyone to make their own concoctions with a wide assortment of fruits and low fat yogurts to pick from. Smoothies are also great for sneaking in some veggies like spinach, kale, or carrots.

Slime & Play Dough:

Perhaps, you’d rather use your family time in the kitchen to whip up a few batches of slime or play dough together. If so, there are countless recipes online that you can follow for some colorful, creative fun made with ingredients in your own house. Your kids are sure to have a blast!

Retire your living room for family night and head to the kitchen instead for a more hands on, interactive evening. Creating in the kitchen as a family will encourage team work and help introduce children to different concepts in math like fractions and units of measurement. It’s just as educational as it is wholesome fun.

Fun & (Video) Games: Valentine’s Day Edition

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Fun & (Video) Games: Valentine’s Day Edition

Hello! Johnny and I are both avid gamers. In fact, we just got done playing about an hour and a half of Diablo III on the Switch before I sat down to write this, lol. My absolute favorite video game of 2020 has to be Paper Mario: The Origami King, which Johnny gifted me with for our one year anniversary this past September. When I first learned that there was a Paper Mario game for the Switch, I was so eager to play it and devoured it in about a month.

I was looking forward to that game so much because, way back in the day, I rented Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door from Block Buster (That just aged me so much!) and never forgot how much fun it was to play. I also never forgot the fact that I got to the final boss but was never able to beat it, smh. After enjoying The Origami King so much, I told Johnny that I would give anything to play The Thousand Year Door again for the GameCube. However, I knew this was unlikely because the GameCube is no longer made, therefore, the used games are uber expensive.

I had come to terms with the fact that I would probably never play my favorite childhood game again – Until Johnny gave me my Valentine’s Day present, that is. My darling boyfriend surprised me with The Thousand Year Door a week before V-Day!

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Johnny spent the Saturday afternoon prior to Valentine’s Day running errands, but he wouldn’t tell me where he was going. I knew he was going to be getting me my V-Day gift, though, through girlfriend instinct and I couldn’t wait for him to come home so I could maybe sneak a peak at what kind of bag it was in! I wasn’t expecting him to give me my gift when he walked in the door but he was so proud of visiting two different Exchanges to get the game that he just couldn’t wait. 🙂

After I gifted Johnny with his prezzie of the LEGO Architecture Paris skyline set, we spent the afternoon with him building our own mini Paris while I played my new game. It was absolutely perfect and The Thousand Year Door was just as fun and adorable as I remember it being. Whether Johnny and I are trying to beat an impossible seeming level of Mario Galaxy or slaying hell’s demons in Diablo III, I love our video game time together.

I am so blown away by Johnny’s gift and how thoughtful it was because it shows me that he listens when I tell him about my favorite things and that’s what means the most to me. Celebrating holidays with Johnny never gets old and I can’t wait for infinite more Valentine’s Days with him. ❤

What was your favorite childhood video game? What video game are you currently playing? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat!

LEGO Architecture Paris Skyline Set

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LEGO Architecture Paris Skyline Set

Hi! My boyfriend, Johnny, and I love building with LEGO and we have quite the collection of Harry Potter and Star Wars sets. For Valentine’s Day, Johnny and I never really go overboard with gifts for each other and one of the two things that I got him was the Paris skyline LEGO set from their Architecture collection. Paris is, easily, one of the most romantic places in the world and it is somewhere that I would love to go with Johnny.

Given the world’s current conditions, it will be a long time until we make it there so, for now, our own little Paris on our knick knack shelf will suffice! Check it out:

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When building with LEGO, Johnny and I have our process down to a science. He handles all of the little pieces and details while I build with the bigger bricks because putting the small ones together are impossible with my nails! As you can see, the Paris Architecture set is completely made up of teeny tiny bricks so Johnny built it in its entirety in a matter of an hour while we talked and listened to music. I was blown away by how quickly he got it done!

Our Paris set is the first one that we have gotten together that is not inspired from a movie and it was the perfect introduction to the LEGO Architecture collection. I am so looking forward to when Johnny and I can travel together because I would love to have a LEGO skyline set of the places that we visit. Each skyline set boasts the most recognizable landmarks in each city. For Paris, this included the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Tour Montparnasse, Grand Palais, Arc de Triomphe, and the Champs-Elysees.

Johnny really enjoyed building this set because it was so different than anything that we already have. I am so happy that my Valentine’s Day gift to him was a success and be sure to keep it posted to see what Johnny surprised me with!

Where would you love to travel to? Which LEGO sets do you have? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Fun & (Video) Games Pt. 2

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Fun & (Video) Games Pt. 2

Hi! For one of my Christmas gifts, Johnny let me pick out a game on the Nintendo Switch store for myself since I haven’t had much to play since beating Paper Mario: The Origami King, which he got me for our one year anniversary. I have always enjoyed playing Mario games and ever since playing the new Paper Mario, I have been in a huge Mario mood. Let me just say Mario one more time… MARIO. 😀

Anyways, for my Christmas gift, I decided to go with a three pack of Mario games that included Super Mario 64, Super Mario Galaxy, and Super Mario Sunshine. I was most looking forward to playing Super Mario Sunshine, as I can remember always being excited to play it at the Target video game section while running errands with my mom whenever I was younger.

Unfortunately, Super Mario Sunshine was a complete bust and, despite having Johnny help me, we had trouble completing even the first few levels. The catch with Super Mario Sunshine is that there is no traditional jump and punch fighting – you are spraying everything with water! The controls were dodgy and the fact that it wasn’t like a classic Mario game in the slightest were definitely grounds to try a different game so I scrapped Sunshine and went with playing Super Mario Galaxy, instead. And, let me tell you, I am SO glad I did!

Super Mario Galaxy was an absolute blast and I finally beat it this past week. It was so much fun because it was such a completely different version of Mario thanks to the outer space setting. Because of gravity, not only could you explore the top part of the platforms but you could also run about on its bottom and sides without fear of falling off. It made each level thrilling because there was so much to do as there was a lot of space to cover.

In Galaxy, it always felt like something new was happening – a new galaxy or planet being discovered, a letter from Luigi, or the opportunity for different powers like turning into a bee or a bouncy spring. From scaling giant honey combs to exploring underwater caverns, no two levels were alike and it was impossible to beat one level without seeing which the next one (or two, or three) would be like.

The best part of playing Super Mario Galaxy, though, was when Johnny would help me beat the levels I was stuck on. There were a lot of tricky aspects to the game that involved motion, as it was originally for the Wii. Levels that involved rolling around on a ball or surfing on an eel always left me calling for him for help and he would drop whatever he was doing to give it a try. So sweet!

We delighted in beating levels together and even on the ones we couldn’t beat, it was still fun to keep trying until our lives ran out. After beating the game, I found out you could unlock a new world if you beat every single level and, unfortunately, that’s just not going to happen. Lol, so I plan on playing Super Mario 64 next!

What video game are you currently playing? What is your favorite Mario game? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Hurray! 100 Day Duolingo Streak

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Hurray! 100 Day Duolingo Streak

Hello! One of my favorite hobbies is learning new languages and I practice French, Italian, Spanish, German, and Czech on Duolingo. Pre-pandemic, I was lucky if I could get a four or five day streak of practice going with a busy work and social schedule. Now, I am proud to say that I am on an over ONE HUNDRED day streak of practicing all five languages and I am honestly blown away by it. I also don’t plan on stopping any time soon!

For the past one hundred plus days, I have been dedicated to doing one to two lessons per language daily with Duo and it’s exciting for me because I can definitely tell that I have made great improvements. I consider myself to be quite fluent in French (I took it throughout high school and college) and I think I have made huge gains, as I can understand a majority of the French shows and movies I watch without subtitles now. I have found that my Spanish and Italian is much smoother and my vocabulary in both German and Czech has made good progress too.

I know people have talked about their hobbies to NO END during the COVID-19 pandemic but it is just so cool to me to notice substantial gains from just one hundred days of practicing for a half hour. Everything from work to social lives seems to be on a stand still right now with not much to look forward to. However, I look forward to working on my languages every day now so my skill set can continue to blossom.

Learning a different language opens up a whole new world. New friendships, new skills, new entertainment, new dream locations to travel to. Duolingo is a free app and if you find yourself overwhelmed by all of the free time we now have, then I highly recommend giving it a download. You can even treat yourself to Duolingo Plus, which will give you unlimited hearts! Learning something new is exhilarating and incorporating Duolingo into your life could be just what you need to shake some blahs away until things get back to normal. ❤

Do you know a different language? How do you practice? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Lil Red’s Book Club: The Wrong Family By Tarryn Fisher Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: The Wrong Family By Tarryn Fisher Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Today, we are going to be discussing the latest psychological thriller by Tarryn Fisher called The Wrong Family. Without giving any spoilers away, of course! I absolutely devoured this book in a matter of days and my only qualm with The Wrong Family is that it wasn’t longer because three hundred pages just wasn’t enough!

Now, this book is rather difficult to describe without giving a major part of one of the reveals away. I also want to give The Wrong Family a trigger warning as it deals with a lot of disturbing subject matter. Let’s get to it:

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Winnie and Nigel Crouch are the doting parents to thirteen year old Samuel. They live in Winnie’s dream house in a posh neighborhood in Seattle, Washington and, from the outside, their lives are picture perfect. But, we all know that in a psychological thriller, that is rarely the case as Winnie and Nigel have been harboring an extremely dark secret for the past decade and change.

Juno is an aged and sickly former therapist who has definitely seen better days. Now, out of work Juno spends her time just surviving and playing therapist in her head to complete strangers. She loves secrets and finding out what makes people tick and once she has her sights set on someone, it takes a lot to make her let go.

Winnie has absolutely no clue who Juno is other than seeing her briefly at the local park but Juno sure knows a lot about Winnie. In fact, it’s almost as if Juno is a fly on the wall of the Crouch residence as her knowledge of the family is very intimate. And, with all of the intel that she has gathered on her new “patients”, the Crouch’s lives will never be the same again.

How are these seemingly perfect strangers connected? What have the Crouches been covering up for over ten years of their lives? Read The Wrong Family and find out!

The Wrong Family was a whirlwind of a read and it was so unique in the fact that one of the most major grand reveals I have ever read was disclosed about eighty pages into the book and not at the end. Once you know this HUGE plot twist, The Wrong Family becomes even creepier and it will continue to shock you until the very last page.

This book was so different than any other psychological thriller I’ve read because, at the end of the day, Winnie and Juno (who take turns narrating) never formally meet. This is such an interesting take because most thrillers out there revolve around close friend groups or family problems. Both of these women are not particularly likeable. Actually, none of the people in the book are other than teenage Samuel, yet I couldn’t stop reading The Wrong Family if you paid me.

Tarryn Fisher flipped the psychological thriller game on its head and I am so eager to read more from her. I also feel like I am going to be holding what I read to a much higher standard now because The Wrong Family was excellent and I will be rating it with the prestigious ten out of ten stars. I highly recommend this book and would love to hear your thoughts on it if you have read it too!

What are you currently reading? What is your favorite psychological thriller? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Need A New Hobby? Try The Following!

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Need A New Hobby? Try The Following!

Hey! Hobbies, hobbies, hobbies. That’s all you hear about when people talk pandemic and, as it has been almost a year since the start of this craziness, you might have exhausted all of the options of things to keep you occupied. Believe you me, I feel it completely and have felt like I’ve been stuck in a never ending loop of work, video games, Netflix, and bed. It can be hard to break that cycle but maybe these ideas below will help inspire all of us to keep on trying new things, despite all of the boredom blues. Let’s get to it:

Library Programs:

If your local libraries are anything like the ones in Ohio, then the events calendar on their website should be full of virtual programs that you can enjoy. There are events for every age group to participate in from story time for children to concerts from local talent and craft nights on Zoom. Take a look at your library’s website, see what sparks your interest, and sign up. The best part? If you don’t like it, all you need to do is close out of the Zoom call!

Make Some Money:

I used to be a huge fan of garage sale style apps like LetGo and they can be a great tool when you are doing a big home clean out. Start your spring cleaning early and see if you have anything that you’d like to try your hand at selling. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, as they say, and you could put your earnings towards a vacation fund when it is safer to travel. Plus: Clean house. It’s a total win/win.

Check Out Local Specialty Shops:

In my neck of the woods, there are plenty of small businesses that you can support and a lot of them have programs offered online. Perhaps your local game shop has an online Dungeons & Dragons community? Or maybe the craft store offers online tutorials on completing an art project from their employees. Not only will you help support their business but it will be a great way to meet new people and possibly develop a brand new hobby.

Fresh Spins On Old Favorites:

There is nothing wrong with sticking with the same old if it’s what you enjoy but how about putting a spin on it? Love pampering yourself in your free time? Try your hand at making your own soaps or lotion. Handy in the kitchen? Open your cook book to a random page and whip up something you never tried before. Book worm? Start your own book club with your friends over Zoom! Incorporating some new things into a hobby that is already your favorite will keep things exciting and you can become skilled in all areas of your craft.

We still have a long way to go before things go back to “normal”, which means we are going to be confined to our homes for a bit longer. Try the ideas above and, before you know it, nicer weather will be here and seeing friends safely outdoors will be possible! 😀

How do you spend your time in lock down? What is something new that you’d like to try? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Feeling Blah? Change Things Up!

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Feeling Blah? Change Things Up!

Hey! I don’t know about all of you but, some days, I just feel totally blah. The weather is gloomy, COVID-19 makes me so worried, and the state of the world is very stressful. It’s also easy to feel even more down and out when all of your normal activities with friends, families, and clubs have been postponed until safer times. I’m sure that all of us are itching for a big change and, until that happens, it’s up to us to keep ourselves positive and motivated. Small changes that you can accomplish, despite everything going on, can really help perk you up. So, how about trying the following:

Your Furniture Layout:

If you’re getting sick of being in the exact same living room or home office that you have been confined to for months, switch it up! Rearrange the furniture, hang up some new art work, or create a photo collage with all of the pictures that you’ve been meaning to get developed. It won’t be as nice as a complete change of scenery like going to the beach but it will make the space you’ve been stuck in different and that’s all that matters.

Your Hair:

Perhaps you’re not bored with your location but your appearance. I know that I desperately miss getting all dressed up but, since there’s nowhere to be, the concept of “looking nice” has been long forgotten. If you are interested in changing up how you look, then now is the perfect time to try that new hair style or color that you have always had in the back of your mind. If it doesn’t turn out exactly how you want, it’s no matter – your hair will be back to normal by the time it’s safer to be in public.

Your Perspective:

Whenever I am feeling blue, I try and think about all of the good things that happened to me even though I am at home. For example, last week I went grocery shopping and I told Johnny that despite everything going on I’m thankful that I have him, a fridge and pantry full of food, and a roof over our heads. It’s important to still remember all of the positive things that you have no matter how small they are. If nothing else, be thankful that you are safe at home and preventing your loved ones and perfect strangers from becoming sick.

Your Hobbies:

I think that all of us can agree that watching Netflix or your preferred streaming service is a universal favorite hobby right now. But, getting lost in TV every day is doing your mind and body no favors. Dedicate at least an hour per day to work on your mental and physical wellness. Take a walk around the neighborhood, meditate, or call a friend. I know everything is so monotonous right now but you have the tools to help break that cycle if you choose to use them.

Your Goals:

Creating new goals for yourself can be an exciting way to fill free time and it’s even better when you begin accomplishing them. Make yourself a dream board with all of the things that you want to achieve in the next year or so and work on making it happen. Once you have an idea and a plan, all that needs done is for you to carry it out. What will you be putting on your dream board?

Changes big or small always help me shake away the blahs and I hope that some of the ideas above help make you feel better too!

What do you do when you have a case of the blahs? What are you thankful for? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah