It’s a Leapin’ Good Day

Happy Leap Day! February 29th only shows up on our calendars every four years, just like the Summer Olympics and the presidential election, so it’s definitely a special day – and worth mentioning.

Why do we even have leap years?

I actually had to look this up, and here’s what I found. A complete orbit of the earth around the sun takes exactly 365.2422 days to complete, but the Gregorian calendar uses 365 days. So leap seconds – and leap years – are added as means of keeping our clocks (and calendars) in sync with the Earth and its seasons. So there you go.

You could look at it as an inspiring day to get ourselves aligned…

You could also see it as an extra day in the year to do something awesome or different…

And if leap day itself wasn’t enough, this particular month is extra special for these reasons. February 2016 will have:

  • 4 Sundays
  • 4 Mondays
  • 4 Tuesdays
  • 4 Wednesdays
  • 4 Thursdays
  • 4 Fridays
  • 4 Saturdays

This happens once every 823 years. It obviously won’t happen again in our lifetime, which adds another level of uniqueness to the day. (A special thanks to my dad for sharing those stats with me!)

So…what’s everyone doing to honor the day?

I was curious and hopped over to Google to see what a search would pull up. Before I even typed a word, these precious bunnies hopped onto the screen…

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<3 I love Google’s doodles.

Then a quick search pulled up mostly images of leaping frogs, which is why I was so pleased with Google’s choice of bunnies – different and much cuter, IMO. There was also plenty of explanation about the reason for the day, which made me feel better about not knowing in the first place.

Next I headed over to my inbox. It was leaping with messages, and here are three that caught my attention:

From: Ebates

Today Ebates is offering double cash back on tons of retailers. If you haven’t joined Ebates, yet, this would be the time to leap to it. It’s a super easy way to get paid for shopping online at pretty much all of your favorite stores. For example, I bought some clothes for the girls at oldnavy.com and got 29% off in addition to 4% back in cash through Ebates! #winning

From: Blitsy

Blitsy, an adorable crafting site, let me know they’re offering 29¢ items throughout their site on this 29th day of February. And it’s cute stuff, too. Look at these cardboard die-cuts. I love the colors, and they’d be a fun addition to our spring break scrapbook. P.S. We head to the beach in three weeks!!

From: American Red Cross

American Red Cross sent a note suggesting we make a leap toward helping others. I thought this was an interesting request, and it made me stop and think about how I choose to spend the day. If we look at the day as a gift, are there ways to share and help make it a special day for others?

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How will you choose to spend this “extra” day?

Since it’s a Monday I’ll be at work, but I plan to squeeze in a few activities that are fun, adventurous and meaningful. I’d love to hear what you’ll be up to!

XOXO

-Kate

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Friday Wrap: Pre-spring Gardening!

Happy Friday!! The weather is still pretty nice around here, so let’s continue the garden theme from yesterday’s post. Shall we?

Here are five things on my pre-spring gardening checklist at the moment:

{ONE} Set up a compost area

compost bin

{Instructions for this DIY compost bin are here!}

This will be my first foray into composting. I’m pretty intimidated by the idea, but I think I can do this. My girls just started one at their elementary school as a garden club project, which gave me a dose of confidence. I have a good, flat place in my yard for a bin, and I found a tutorial for this little DIY number. So I’ve added this to my project list. More to come on this whole business, I’m sure.

{TWO} Save containers for seedlings

I like paper egg cartons best.

{source} PS. I like these cardboard egg cartons best for seedlings.

I’ve been trying to eat more protein lately, because swim suit season. So eggs have been on the menu every morning. This is a doubly-good thing because egg cartons make wonderful seedling starters. So, thank you, eggs. (I totally heard Jimmy Fallon’s voice as I wrote that.) Now I can get growing sooner than later.

{THREE} Shop for seeds and plants!

Digging in the dirt is super fun, but shopping for seeds and plants is probably one of the best parts of gardening. Right? Sometimes I’ll pickup seed packets from my local garden store, and other times I’ll order online. I recently came across this cool company called Seeds of Change. They have 100% organic seeds and some quality tools and supplies. You should check them out.

{FOUR} Prep garden tools

I don’t know about you, but I haven’t looked at my shovels, pruners and gardening gloves since October. Now is a good time to pull out the tools and give them a little TLC. I’m going to scrub off the dirt and give them a light coat of oil on the metal parts, then store in a bucket of sand to keep them rust-free and sharp until we’re in full season. Here’s a quick and easy tutorial for cleaning your tools.

{FIVE} Tend to the bed

This is the part where I roll up my sleeves and get a little messy, because now is a good time to get outside and check for signs of growth. I’ll add fertilizer to the bulb plants as flowers begin to emerge, prune fruit trees and rose bushes, and plant the cool season veggies and herbs – like arugula and parsley! Mmm…

I have some work cut out for me, but it’s all happy stuff. I love digging into any garden project. Here’s to a terrific weekend. Hopefully it blooms with all sorts of lovely surprises – like sunshine and 70s.

-Kate

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A Blooming Warm Winter

Can you believe I’m writing about gardening this time of year?! It’s because this warm weather has tricked my plants into blooming already! Where I live we don’t usually see blooms for another month or so. But this has been the winter that never was…no snow days or long stretches of freezing temps that require cups of delicious cocoa. I’m sure the garden was like, “If this is how it’s gonna be, I’ll just bloom already.”

And so it did.

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Well, hello there!

What does this mean?

If plants are in fact blooming, like mine are, we’ll just enjoy their fresh faces a little sooner than normal. Now, if the weather decides to dip below freezing or dump snow, the flowers will probably be damaged for the season. Sad face.

The redeeming part is that a bloom-freeze shouldn’t have any adverse affects on the bulb’s performance in the seasons to come. For now, though, there are a couple of things we could do.

{ONE} Cut and Enjoy

For any flowers that have bloomed, we could simply cut and bring them in the house. They can’t survive the cold temps outside, but we can extend their life inside – where they’ll brighten up our kitchen tables!

{TWO} Protect the Buds

plants with mulch

These are actually garlic buds that are protected with straw.

Once we’ve taken care of the blooms, we can protect any unopened buds by covering them with dry leaves, straw or mulch. As soon as the weather warms up again, and the threat of frost is gone, just uncover the plants and allow them to continue to grow as normal.

Pretty simple, but worth thinking about so you get the most from your bloomin’ beauties. I’ll have more pre-spring gardening tips tomorrow. See you then, my friends.

-Kate

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Friday Wrap: Finding Kindness

If you’ve been following the blog the past few days, you know I’ve been celebrating Random Acts of Kindness Week in various ways. I hope you have, too!

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It’s been uplifting to see so many others joining this national effort. There have been tons of positive posts online, people literally paying it forward at coffee shops and fast food lines, and countless small gestures that have left life-size impressions on peoples’ hearts. It’s awesome.

As I went through the week, I tried to keep my eyes open to kindness and catch people doing some good around here. 🙂 Here are five of my favorites…

{ONE} Valentine Wishes for the Elderly

Clara’s class decided to make Valentine’s Day cards for the nursing home down the street from their school. A few of the kids were able to gather (outside of school time) to deliver their handmade cards, little bags of candy and a basket of fresh flowers to all of the residents. It was an amazing experience for these kids – and me!

I loved watching Clara patiently introduce herself with a smile and wish everyone a happy day. One woman gave Clara the biggest hug and said how much she loved the visit. Not everyone was able to communicate as well, which was hard to witness. But that was part of the loving lesson – remembering we’re all connected. Recognizing we’re on the same journey and deserving of each other’s kindness.

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Clara Jane is in the blue coat 🙂

{TWO} Bunny Bundles

My brother, Michael, has a cool little hobby farm up in Missouri. It’s right on Indian Creek, so they’ve named the place Indian Hollow. The land is rich with Native American history. In fact, my brother found an arrowhead one day. He and his wife built an adorable cabin up there and have filled the surrounding acres with native plants, trees and soon-to-arrive bees. One of his “crops” is a grove of Arkansas Black apple trees – which brings me to the “kindness” message.

You know I have a bunny, right? Well, bunnies LOVE chewing on sticks – especially sweet apple twigs. My brother remembered me mentioning this one day. So on his recent trip up to the farm, he trimmed some of the loose branches and brought me this amazing pile for our bunny, Rosie. Not only does this make our bun-bun super happy, but also gives purpose to those branches which would have normally been discarded. #sweetbrother #givingtree

apple twigs

This is the equivalent of about 500 Snickers bars for my bunny. Apple sticks are such a treat!!

{THREE} Time Out for Snuggles

I don’t know who needed this little act of kindness more, Leo the puppy or Avery the exhausted 4th grader. They both had a busy and somewhat rough day, and I found the two of them snuggled together on my bed. It was such a sweet moment and reminded me that kindness comes in many forms.
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{FOUR} Sidewalk Love

This act of kindness took place prior to this week, but I was reminded of it when I went running this morning. One of my neighbors took the time to walk through the entire neighborhood and paint yellow lines on all of the uneven sidewalks to prevent people from tripping. He must have spent days doing this. And I never saw him in action. He must have worked quietly in the morning light. When I posted a thank you on our neighborhood Facebook page, a woman mentioned it was her husband. He just wanted people to be safe. How sweet is that?

Avery had actually skinned her knee pretty badly on one of our sidewalks this past summer. So we always slowed down at that spot to remind each other to step up. Now when we get there, we say a little “thank you” to our kind neighbor.IMG_0054

{FIVE} Uplifted by Friends – Literally

Evan had an unfortunate incident at our local trampoline park this week, and he ended up with a nasty sprain. The doctor prescribed crutches for a few days, which meant he had to miss his basketball game and postpone the beginning of track season. Those were all things he could deal with. Walking to classes all day with nearly 25lbs of books while on crutches was another thing.

He has such an amazing group of friends, though. After Evan’s first day on crutches, he got in the car and told me how his friends had helped him. Cole was extra nice and carried his books all day. And at one point (when the bell rang and he wasn’t sure if he could make it all the way across the building to science class in time) four of his friends grabbed his crutches, lifted him up, and carried him all the way to class. I can just picture those kids running down the hall holding Evan like he was some sort of sports hero – laughing the entire time. The story touched my heart so much, though. The look on his face as he shared the details of the day was priceless. He experienced the joy of good, caring friends – and what pure kindness really feels like. What a gift.

basketball picture

The friends that helped Evan are also on his basketball team. They took this picture the night he had to miss the game. They also joked about his shirt. It should have read “crutch” is my middle name 😉

Have a wonderful weekend, my friends. Here’s hoping we can keep this kindness train on track so we can feel and experience it every day.

Hugs,

-Kate

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Random Acts of Kindness: Fast Facts

Not that you need a reason or much encouragement to be kind, because I know you’re incredibly sweet. But I do have a few interesting facts about kindness that will help sweeten your efforts just a smidge. Ready?

Here are five “side effects” of kindness…

Did you also know?

  • Five acts of kindness in a week will increase your happiness for up to three months. {source} 
  • The effects of kindness can be so great you don’t have to be directly linked to a giving chain to get in on the act. By simply witnessing generosity you may be inspired to do something generous of your own, according to new research study. {source}
  • Kindness can be taught. A researcher from the University of Wisconsin says, “It’s kind of like weight training. We found that people can actually build up their compassion ‘muscle’ and respond to others’ suffering with care and a desire to help.” {source}
  • Helping others protects overall health twice as much as aspirin protects against heart disease! {source}
  • People 55 and older who volunteer for two or more organizations have an impressive 44% lower likelihood of dying. That’s after sifting out every other contributing factor, including physical health, exercise, gender, habits like smoking, marital status and many more. This is a stronger effect than exercising four times a week. {source}

And finally…

If you haven’t seen Ellen’s acceptance speech for the People’s Choice Humanitarian Award you should check it out here. It’s not only funny, but also endearing and a great reminder of the importance of sharing our kindness.

I’d love to hear how your week is going! What acts of kindness have you shared? Have you spotted others being kind? Check back tomorrow, and I’ll post a few of my favorite pics of the week so far.

-Kate

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Random Acts of Kindness: Inspiring Quotes

Today I’m going to issue a challenge! Let’s see how many people we can reach with a message about kindness.

Jump on your Facebook page, Instagram account or Twitter feed and tell a meaningful story or share an inspiring quote about kindness. And if you really want to step up your game, send a “just because” love note to someone close to you! <3

I gathered a handful of quotes to make this challenge even easier. So share away, and encourage others to join you in Random Acts of Kindness Week #RAKWEEK

 

 

Have a beautiful day spreading kindness, joy and love!

-Kate

 

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Random Acts of Kindness: Include Your Children

kindness elves

{This is a picture of our kindness elves. We invited them to join us for this special week!}

There’s a quote by the Dalai Lama that proclaims,“If every 8 year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.” I was blown away by the power of that statement.

I also wondered what kind of impact could be made if each child did one act of kindness each day. I imagine it would have astounding effects. So why not use this special week to teach our kids how to make kindness a daily habit?

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Here are a few fun ideas…

My girls recently received a list of “kindness” ideas from school, which is also celebrating Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) week. Out of the list, these rose to the top as my favorites:

  1. Bury treasure on the playground
  2. Compliment someone who is usually mean to you
  3. Leave bubbles on someone’s doorstep
  4. Write a friendly note on the sidewalk to make someone smile
  5. Leave a quarter in the gum ball machine at the store
  6. Tell the principal how great your teacher is
  7. Clean your room without being asked to do it
  8. Gather your bread crust or crumbs from lunch to feed the birds
  9. Invite someone new to play with you at recess
  10. Write a thank you note to the janitors at your school

I love how these ideas encourage creative thinking about the many ways you can brighten someone else’s day. They’re also easy things kids can do – without an adult’s help.

Of course it’s also important for us to include the kids in our own acts of kindness. When they watch us hold the door open for a mother pushing a stroller or smile at the waiter who’s visibly having a bad day, it affects how they behave and treat others.

Kindness is contagious!

One of the goals of this whole experience is to help kids think outside of themselves and beyond their own needs. Once we get them doing this on a regular basis, the habit of kindness is formed.

And perhaps more importantly, kids start observing the world in more productive ways. They might discover a friend in need or recognize a social injustice that could use their attention. Raising kids who focus on what problems they want to solve vs. the job title they want to have one day will surely have more meaningful lives. And who wouldn’t want that?

Here’s to helping the next generation live in a more loving and accepting world – through one act of kindness after another.

-Kate

PS. See you tomorrow with a special kindness challenge!!

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Random Acts of Kindness: Start with Yourself

As we kickoff Random Acts of Kindness week, I want to start with one of the most special people on earth…you.

You can’t authentically share love or compassion with others if the inventory is low in the stock room of your heart. So…

Make time to be kind to yourself today.

Here are three ideas to get you started.

{ONE} Look in the mirror.

For real. Go stand in the bathroom and take a good look at yourself. Reintroduce yourself, if needed. And instead of looking directly at your wrinkles or whatever flaws you think you have, try to look at your whole face. Take notice of the person you are, and say something incredibly kind. Start with, “What I love most about you is…” And make it the kind of compliment that would make you cry if your best friend or husband said it to you. You deserve to truly love and accept yourself.

{TWO} Listen to your needs.

Ask yourself, as if you were talking to a good friend or your child, what do you need right now? Is it to slow down and take a deep breath within this quiet moment? Could you use a fresh manicure or a personal day off work? Would a hot bath make you feel better? What about a long run? Or jamming to your favorite song, being silly or playing outside with your dog? Whatever your heart is saying to you, listen. Then go do it. And make it an act of kindness to yourself.

{THREE} Put your heart on paper.

I recently spotted this amazing book series in Barnes & Noble. It’s essentially a dozen writing prompts that are held inside of envelopes. In this edition, you’re encouraged to write letters to your future self and stash them away for a later date. It’s a lovely way to get connected to what really matters in your life.

Enjoy the day being kind to yourself. As promised, I will share a special post each day that includes ideas and inspiration for spreading kindness with those around you. So be sure to stop by again tomorrow to see what great things we can do together!!

-Kate

PS. If you want to join the bigger RAK movement, go sign the kindness pledge!

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TGI Friday Wrap

What a wild week! I’m definitely feeling the TGIF vibes today. This mama needs either a long winter’s nap or a Venti anything at Starbucks. Have you ever felt that way?! Even though our family has been crazy busy, it’s been well worth the effort. Here’s a recap of my five favorite moments.

{ONE} The 10th Birthday Bash

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ICYMI: We organized one heck of a bear birthday last weekend. Be sure to check out the full post for pics. In the meantime, please know I’m still enjoying the leftover bear paw cupcakes and my comfy “mama bear” sweatshirt! <3

{TWO} Proud Mom Moments 

I was blessed with several proud mom moments this week – compliments of my son, Evan. I hope you don’t mind if I shine the spotlight on him a bit…

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First, I found out he was awarded Hero of the Month at his school. This month’s character word was “helping hand,” which means Evan was voted by his teachers and peers as being the most helpful to others. If that didn’t make me tear up, the comment he made about “not expecting anything in return for being kind” sure did.

We also just found out he was selected for the Arkansas EAST conference. And to top that news, his drama teacher announced he was the only student from his school to receive a statewide recognition for his skills in stagecraft. Apparently he rocks at stage lighting. I didn’t even know he could do that!. Is this kid really mine?!

{THREE} Book Club Recipes

I’m incredibly happy to report our first book club meeting was a hit. It may have had a little something to do with the GIANT batch of sangria I made. Oops.

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This is a 3-gallon container!!

Honestly, I really wasn’t paying attention to the volume of liquid I was pouring into the container. And once you start adding a few ingredients, you’re pretty much committed to the recipe. My friends and I barely made a dent, but the silver lining is that it freezes really well. Now I have sangria slushies for the entire summer!

Other amazing recipes of the night included Mimi’s Enchilada Casserole, as well as her Slow Cooker Chocolate Fondue. I actually ended up making three different recipes and used the “triple-threat” crockpot my son gave me for Christmas. It was perfect! I will totally do this again. All of it.

{FOUR} Binging on Peaky Blinders

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Okay, this is yet another fantastic Netflix original series. If you haven’t started this one, you totally should. The story is about a gangster family empire set in 1919 Birmingham, England. The head of the family, Thomas Shelby, is played by Cillian Murphy, who has breath-taking blue eyes under that dangerous cap of his, which is adorned with razor blades. You’ll love the smoky cinematography, and of course the storyline. One tip is to turn on your subtitles because some of the accents are pretty thick – and you don’t want to miss any of the great dialogue.

There are only two seasons to date, so you could easily binge this thing in no time at all – as B and I recently did. Rumor has it they’re filming season three as we speak. #cantwait

{FIVE} Valentine Wishes

If you’re looking for some super easy Valentine’s card ideas for your kids or friends, you could check out this previous post. You could also go this easy route…

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I designed round labels (using the Avery online templates). Then my girls stuck them onto little applesauce cups. Cute, right?! I bought the cups in bulk, so they were only 25¢ a piece.

We get to take them to school today for their big party. Although, I don’t think Avery is going to make it. (sad face) She started running a fever last night, so that might mean a slow and easy weekend for these peeps.

Before we officially wrap, I have one last super important note…

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Isn’t Amy Poehler the best? I loved her book (which we read in book club) and her whole Galentine’s Day!

Whether you’re celebrating Galentine’s Day, the traditional Valentine’s Day, or both, I hope it’s as lovely as you are.

-Kate

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Organize Your Special Days in Style

Facebook is great for reminding us about birthdays (among other things), but when it comes to keeping track of all your special events, including anniversaries and personal moments – like the day you were engaged or found out you were pregnant – the perfect thing to have is a perpetual calendar.

What’s a perpetual calendar?!

It’s just like a normal calendar, but it doesn’t list specific days of the week. That means you can use it year after year. For example, the month of January looks like this…

January

See how there are just dates – without days of the week to lock in a specific year?

I’ve used one for years. I keep it on the wall of my work space at home because I think it’s pretty.

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See? isn’t this cute?!

How do I use it?

Once I purchased my calendar, I sat and wrote down every special event I could think of or had written in my day planner. From there, it became a matter of checking each month or adding new dates.

I’ve made a habit of looking at it at the beginning of each month. Then I purchase cards and gifts in one big batch. Sometimes I’ll also jot a note in my day planner to give special people a call or send a FB message.

Where can you find them?

If you’re in the market for a new perpetual calendar, or if you’ve never used something like this before, be sure to check out these beauties below. (I made sure to include links to each source so you can easily find them.)

Now, if you’d rather go down-and-dirty, you could always download this free printable from Whitney English. I’m using her Day Designer this year, and she recently shared this with her planner peeps.

Whichever route you choose, here’s to a happy day organizing your special days!

-Kate

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