Happiness Friday

Happy Friday, sweet friends! And I do mean happy. Today’s post is all about happiness. Here’s why…

{ONE} International Day of Happiness: It’s today! Go make a connection and brighten another person’s day! You can also visit the official site and download your free happiness pack.

{TWO} Instagram Feeds: This is a terrific list of 10 happy Instagram feeds. Follow them today and feel your happiness bloom.

{THREE} First Day of Spring: Welcome, sweet season of warmth, budding flowers, and well, allergies. Just as Olaf said in the movie Frozen, “Some people are worth melting for,” I think flowers are worth sneezing for. Fresh flowers make me happy. Just bring on the Zyrtec and we’re G-to-G. In celebration of the day, be sure to check out the Google doodle.

{FOUR} Bunnies!! You know I love me some cute bunnies. We’ve had two pet rabbits in our lives so far. Molly McBunny was our first, and we had her for close to 12 years! She was a dear. Now we have Rosie, and she’s just as loving and expressive. Rabbits are truly the best pets to have, IMO. Here’s a link to a great resource if you’re thinking of adopting a rabbit. In the meantime, here’s your daily dose of cuteness to bring a smile to your face.

{FIVE} Gratitude: I read that more than 11,000 scientific studies show that developing a gratitude habit helps you feel happier, sleep better, be more creative and feel less stressed. Um, sign me up. Let’s be thankful for the day – and each other. I am certainly grateful you’re here. To kick things off, try this 52-week gratitude challenge. It’s full of beautiful ideas.

Cheers to the happiest day, yet! Be sure to check out all of the wonderful blogs through Five on Friday.

Fiveonfriday

-Kate

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Random Acts of Kindness

I’m a fan of “national” days, and there’s pretty much one every day. For instance, yesterday was National Pizza Day and last week contained Doodle Day and Bubblegum Day. Not even kidding.

When I heard about this week’s national celebration, I was compelled to write a post because it falls near and dear to my heart – it’s Random Acts of Kindness Week. Not just a day, but an entire week!

Act of Kindness Art

This darling art project can be found at Lil Blue Boo.

Have you ever had someone do something nice for you totally out of the blue? Maybe they let you merge during rush hour, stood and held a door a little longer to let you through, or let you step ahead in the checkout lane because you only had a few items? This is the week to celebrate and share more of these acts of kindness.

You can make an important impact on someone’s day – and ultimately their heart.

If you haven’t seen this ad about Random Acts of Kindness, you need to. And grab your tissues.

I’ll never forget the time a lady paid for my lunch in the Chick-fil-a drive thru. Her message to me (via the window clerk) was “she just wanted you to have a good day.” What?! I was shocked, and happy, and wanted to cry all at the same time. How nice was that?

Here’s a printable list of 40 random acts of kindness you could do this week.

I created this list when I was turning 40-years old and feeling unusually reflective. I decided to spend my birthday helping others. So I wrote down 40 ideas, mapped out my plan, gathered supplies and money, and spent the day spreading joy.

One item on my list was sharing the idea of “giving” with my kids, so I checked out my son from school and had him join my journey. We had the most memorable day surprising strangers, seeing new parts of town, and learning about the needs in our community. Here are a few snaps from our top 40 list…

Coupons

Evan and I left coupons and happy notes in the diaper aisle to help out a family.

Kind notes

We typed kind messages and put them on random cars in parking lots!

Free stamps

We gave away free stamps to someone standing in line at the post office. 🙂

Free toy

We left coins on top of a toy machine in the grocery store to brighten a little one’s day!

Laundry Machine

We filled a few machines with coins at the local laundromat.

Ducks!

We shared our “good” bread with the neighborhood ducks. They quacked with joy.

Evan and I also had a lot of fun. At one point, he rode around the block in a fire truck – after we dropped off fresh brownies and lottery tickets at our local fire department. Apparently they love homemade treats.

I highly recommend trying a few (or all) of these ideas. Wouldn’t it be cool to see what would happen if each of us took a minute to be intentional about helping others? I honestly think we could change the world.

Here’s an added bonus for today’s post. The first five people to comment will receive a random act of kindness directly from me!

It could be a book, pretty stationery, a gift card…any surprise. It will happen sometime over the next few months – when the mood strikes (hence the “random” part). My only request is that you pay it forward and do the same for your friends. Here’s a blurb for you to post on your Facebook page:

  • I’m participating in a ‘Pay it Forward’ initiative. The first five people who comment on this status with “I’m in” will receive a surprise from me at some point during this next year (2015) – anything like a book, homemade treats, a postcard…absolutely any surprise! There will be no warning. It will happen when the mood comes over me and I find something I believe would suit you and make you happy. These five people must make the same offer on their Facebook status. Once my first five have commented with “I’m in”, I will forward this message to you privately, so you can copy and paste it, and put it on your status. That way we can form a web of connection of kindness. Let’s do more nice and loving things in 2015, without any reason other than to make each other smile and show that we think of each other. Here’s to a more enjoyable and friendly, and love filled year!

Here’s to an awesome day of kindness! Be sure to tag #RAKweek2015 to join the conversation online.

Much love,

-Kate

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DIY: Jars of Joy

Jars of Joy

Designed by The Neat Nook

My girls and I recently attended a party that included the making of Jars of Happiness. One of the moms had smart words to share with this group of 3rd grade girls to set the stage for kindness, respect, and inclusion toward each other. Such important lessons for any age, but I especially like the idea of talking to my girls about this now. #nevertooearly

Party Pic

We had fun at the party, if you couldn’t tell.

The mom encouraged the girls to write happy friendship memories on little slips of paper and store them inside the jar. At the end of the year, they can go back and see all of the kindness that filled their year. How sweet is that?

Jar of Happiness

These were the jars the girls made at their party. They used Mason jars with cloth stretched across the top. They cut a slit so the notes could easily slip inside. The initials were simply large stickers. Cute, right?

This project reminded me of a gift my son, Evan, gave me one Mother’s Day. He decorated an old Mason jar, wrote personal messages to me on slips of paper, and then tucked each of them down inside the jar. I was a puddle of tears when I opened the gift, and it’s still one of my most treasured gifts today. The jar sits on my nightstand, and every now and then I’ll dig into the jar to see what words of comfort my son will provide. I call this my Jar of Comfort, not to be confused with the one in my freezer containing vanilla ice cream.

Jar of Comfort

This is the jar from Evan. He took little pieces of tissue paper and glued them to the side of a Mason jar. Look at those sweet words, too. Talk about an instant boost in your day.

Evan’s gift actually inspired me to make something similar for one of my coworkers one Christmas. We drew names and had to make or find a gift that didn’t cost us anything. We had to get super crafty, so I decided to make a Jar of Joy. I found a clear, glass jar and spent the next hour or so typing 100 joyful messages for my friend. I printed them on bright colored paper and tucked them inside the jar. It was an easy gift, but one that was hopefully appreciated for many days (at least 100!) Here’s a printable list of 100 Days of Joy if you’d like to make your own!

Whether you make a jar to share with someone else or keep for yourself, this project is a great way to capture and organize your thoughts and share a bit of happiness. Call it whatever you’d like, too. As you saw, we have jars of happiness, comfort and joy in our house. Who wouldn’t want a little more of that goodness in their life?

Have an awesome day, and let me know if you try making one of these. I always love seeing pictures of your creations!!

<3 Kate

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving MessageHello, sweet friends. I hope you’re having the best Thanksgiving so far filled with scrumptious turkey and all the fixin’s. I know I am. Why is this not also National Yoga Pant day? Not that anyone is doing any actual exercising, though.YogaWhat will we be doing? Well, I thought it would be fun to share a few of our family traditions.

  • We always travel to Nebraska to visit the in-laws, as well as my sister KJ and her sweet family. So I get to partake in two Thanksgiving meals, making me one thankful girl.
    Nebraska...the good life

    The sign speaks truth.

  • If we don’t oversleep (because my amazing in-laws let Brandon and I sleep in while they hang out with the kids who wake up like roosters), we catch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I love the fanfare, the creativity, and the death-defying inflatables cruising down the street.
    Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

    That is one big turkey.

  • We watch college football like most of America. I should probably clarify. Brandon watches football while I sit next to him catching up on the latest issue of Real Simple and the kids play games on their phones. It works for us. With the Huskers not playing so well the past few weeks, football has turned into a sore subject with the hubs. “Want the November or December issue, honey?”
    Husker Power

    “Please play well, Huskers. My husband’s joy depends on it.”

  • As you may have read on an earlier post, Brandon and I were married on Thanksgiving weekend, so we always carve out some time for each other. This year we’re headed to Lied Lodge in Nebraska City – home of the National Arbor Day Foundation. Gorgeous trees and apple orchards everywhere. I’ll share some pics on Instagram: @katejandersen.
    Lied Lodge & Conference Center

    Lied Lodge & Conference Center

    I’d love to hear about your family traditions. Share in the comments, Tweet or tag me on Instagram. In the meantime, have a wonderful day. I’m thankful you’re here!

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Gifts from the Heart of Your Kitchen

As a girl raised in the south (yes, the acronym is GRITS), I was taught to never show up empty handed to someone’s home. Hostess gifts not only validate your good manners, but also thank the person who has just spent hours cleaning, cooking, baking, decorating, fretting, and putting extra toilet paper in the bathrooms prior to your arrival.

Most guests deliver a bottle of wine or pretty candle, which are both perfectly acceptable. But if your hostess is truly the mostest, why not thank her with one of these unique and delicious gifts? And did I mention they’re easy to make and require less than four ingredients each? It’s true.

I researched, tested several recipes, and pulled together the easiest (and in some cases, safest) options for you to make. Drum roll…

Rosemary Infused Olive OilRosemaryWhat you’ll need:

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 6 sprigs dried rosemary*
  • Bottle or cruet
  • Funnel

Directions: Cook the olive oil with rosemary sprigs in a saucepan over low to medium heat for about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the rosemary infuse in the oil for 1 hour. Transfer the sprigs to your glass bottle. Funnel the cooled oil into the bottle and seal. Store at room temperature for up to 2 months or in the refrigerator for 6 months.

*Using dried herbs is a much safer method. Moisture from fresh herbs can cause bacteria to grow. Drying herbs removes the water, while leaving the essential oils. This time of year, I get fresh herbs from my grocery store and dry them at home.

Download a Rosemary Gift Tag complete with serving suggestions.

Vanilla Infused Honey

vanilla honey

Here’s a batch of homemade vanilla lavender honey from Etsy.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • Mason jar or honey pot with an airtight lid
    honey pot

    Look at this adorable honey pot with dipper from Bed Bath & Beyond.

Directions: Pour the honey into your mason jar or pot. Use a knife to split the vanilla bean open lengthwise, down the center. Scrape the seeds out of the bean and add them to your container of honey. Stir well. Add the bean pod to the jar and seal the container. Let it sit for one week to infuse the honey. After that, it’s good and ready to slather onto some warm, buttered biscuits.

Download a Honey Gift Tag complete with serving suggestions.

Citrus Finishing Saltscitrus saltsWhat you’ll need:

  • 1 cup flaky sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • Mason jar or airtight container

Directions: Preheat oven to 225 F. Mix the salt and zest in a bowl. Spread across parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for an hour or until peels are dried and crumbly. Remove from oven and cool. Transfer salts to an airtight jar. Store for up to 2 months. This recipe was adapted from Whole Foods Market.

Download a Finishing Salt Gift Tag complete with serving suggestions.

I think I’ll make several batches of all of these goodies so I’m armed and ready to spread some flavored joy. ‘Tis the season, you know. I hope you decide to whip up some deliciousness for yourself. Oh, and be sure to let me know which one you like best.

Cheers, my friends!

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Thankful Thursday: New Paint!

This week I’m thankful for finally getting our bedroom painted. Brandon and I have been wanting to freshen up the color for quite some time and other things kept cutting in line – like replacing the dishwasher and tires on the car. You know how it goes.

So this week it finally happened. We scheduled our favorite paint guy (Kim Valentine for anyone who lives in NWA), and I came home from work yesterday to the finished product. It was so worth having my clothes and bedroom furniture sprawled all around the living room for two days. Even if I was heckled by my kids for the amount of clothes I had shoved into my closet.

For the color we went with Quiet Moments from Benjamin Moore. The description on the website says, “Tranquility seems to ooze from this light, blue-gray that inspires moments of quiet meditation. This soothing shade creates a look of elegance and simplicity.” Um, yes, please. I’ll take several gallons – for my entire house.

The color is perfect with our bedding, too. We have the Charlie Paisley from PB. If you can’t find me for a few days, I’ll be the one sleeping in the tranquility of quiet meditation.

Charlie Duvet

Charlie Paisley Organic Duvet Cover from Pottery Barn

Oh, one other thing I’m thankful for this week (and actually discovered in this painting process) is Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. Whaa? Where have these been all my life, and why hasn’t anyone told me about them sooner? Magic EraserWe had a few scuffs on our doorways and closet shelves that were driving me crazy. The freshly painted walls made the scuffs look even worse. They looked dirty and just wouldn’t wash off – or so I thought. Enter, Magic Erasers. A few good swipes and just like the name says, all of the scuffs were erased. Magically. Needless to say, I was wiping practically every surface in the house. I swear, if they ever want to do one of those cheesy infomercials on how awesome they work, sign me up. No pride here.

So those are some of the highlights of the week so far. I’d love to hear some of your discoveries and what makes you feel thankful. Comment on the blog or post on Twitter or Instagram using #ThankfulThursday so everyone can share in your happiness.

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Friday Wrap (with Five Faves)

Happy Friday! I’m attempting to link into “Five on Friday” for the first time, so hopefully I’ll meet a few new friends today!

Here we go:

  1. If I had to wrap the week in a word, it would be joyful. Even though I attended a funeral for my friend’s father, it was such a beautiful experience that left everyone feeling inspired. His nickname was “Brownie” and was one of those guys who loved life, was never short on a joke (or prank), and knew how to appreciate a good beer. The stories shared at his service were both heartwarming and hilarious. As I was listening, I made a quiet vow to myself: don’t take life too seriously. Our time here is a quick breath of air in the grand scheme of things. I want to enjoy every second of it – while laughing as often as I can.
  2. I was proud to wish my own dad a happy Veteran’s Day on Tuesday. He was in the Air Force for many years and retired as a Lt. Colonel. He served our country with great pride, and I’m a better American because of him. Love you, Pappa Joe!
    Pappa Joe

    My sweet dad, Pappa Joe!

  3. I saw my first snowflake of the season this morning. And it’s only November! That’s a rare treat in Arkansas. It didn’t stick to anything, but it was alive for all of five seconds. Some may dispute, but I saw it. I hear more is on the way this weekend. Brrr and bring on the cocoa. Or maybe another Chestnut Praline Latte from the ‘Bucks?
    Chestnut Praline Latte

    I tried one this week, and they are sugary goodness in a cup.

  4. The girls started a new thing this week where they put their favorite blanket in the dryer while they’re taking a bath. After they dry off, they literally wrap in a blanket of warmth. Why haven’t we done this sooner?!
    Avery & Clara

    Look at those snuggly little peanuts.

  5. I just pulled out my Hip Hop Abs DVD. Not to get all Bridget Jones’ Diary on you (remember that funny book?) but I’ve been feeling a bit “swollen” lately. I don’t know if I’ve overdone the salt, sweets, carbs or all of the above, but I was prompted to workout. I try to do yoga once a day to get some form of exercise. I just don’t usually do sweaty workouts – unless they’re fun and have good music and make me forget I’m actually working out. That’s where Hip Hop Abs enters the picture. Even though I feel like a total dork doing my “tilt, tuck and tighten” with Shaun T, I pump up the volume and stomp it out in my garage every now and again. Once you get the hang of it, it’s actually pretty fun.

What I feel like:Hip Hop DancerWhat I probably look like:bad-dancerHave a great weekend and I’ll catch you on Monday with some gorgeous DIY ornaments inspired by Pottery Barn. Here’s a sneak peek:

Let's make these glittery initial ornaments!

Let’s make these glittery initial ornaments!

Feather Ornament

Let’s make these gorgeous glass and feather ornaments, too!

Thanks to Liz, DarciChristina, and Natasha for letting me join your fun Friday adventure. I hope to catch you all again next week!Fiveonfriday

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A Thankful Thursday

Hello, friends. I think I’m going to start writing about the things I’m thankful for each week. What better time to start something like this than the month of Thanksgiving, right? I appreciate all of the blessings in my life, and I know you do, too. So I hope you’ll join me by either adding comments on the blog or sharing on your social channels. Use #ThankfulThursday or tag me so I can see your posts!

Here we go…

Love Notes

I spread out a few of my faves for you to see.

Today I’m feeling thankful for all of the treasures my kids give me. I recently opened the drawer to my nightstand, which is where I keep my kids’ love notes and trinkets. I decided to read through all of their handwritten messages and sort through the beaded bracelets, knitted pouches and tissue-paper flowers. One of my favorites is a mason jar filled with “hugs.” My daughter Avery made this and told me she poked holes in the top like a saltshaker so I could sprinkle out a hug when I needed one (which is every day from that sweet thing).

I still have notes that date back to my son Evan’s first words. I love how sometimes I’m taller than a house and have flowers growing in my hair, and other times I’m bald wearing a triangle dress and square shoes. As I sort through all of these notes, one thing is clear. No matter how I look or change on each paper, I’m loved equally the same. It’s amazing how you can literally feel someone’s love jump off a page.

I wish I could keep every single drawing, but if you’re a parent you get it. The volumes of notes can get a bit out hand. You have to pick and choose the keepers and pray your kid doesn’t see the leftovers in the trash.

I’ll never forget when Avery found one of her drawings in the kitchen trash. When I saw the look on her face, I felt like crawling into the can right next to that crumpled up piece of paper. Needless to say, I learned to dispose of any “leftovers” discreetly and directly into the trashcan on the side of the house where no one ever goes (other than my husband Brandon, and he’s in this thing with me). I also learned not to feel too guilty about tossing things. I found a great quote that helped put things in perspective…Gratitude Quote

While I don’t have to keep everything my kids give me, I do need to take time to appreciate each and every item.

It’s important – and enough – to be grateful.

I’m thankful for that lesson, and it certainly helps when it comes time to weed through papers and make a quiet trip to the side of the house. At the end of the day I know I’ve given proper hugs and shared my deep appreciation of their love – which lives far beyond my nightstand drawer.

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Five Ways to Share Gratitude

Thanksgiving bunting

Bonus idea: Here’s a little project I did this weekend. It’s a Thanksgiving bunting made with burlap and gold-painted chipboard letters. I hung by the chimney with care – and a few mini clothespins.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. My husband and I were even married on Thanksgiving weekend. That’s how much I love it – and him. While I treasure the awesome food and permission to wear yoga pants all day (or two), I appreciate how it’s such a low-key holiday that invites us to just hang with the family and give thanks for the many blessings in our lives.

I truly believe gratitude changes everything.

Gratitude has been proven to make people feel happier, strengthen relationships, improve health, and reduce stress. That’s some amazing grace right there. We should make giving thanks an everyday deal. And if you want to throw in some turkey, go right ahead. No one’s judging.

So in an effort to invite more gratitude in my own life, I found five ideas I’d like to share. I adore each and every one of them, and I encourage you to pick one or two and give them a try for yourself!

  1. Start a Gratitude Journal: This post includes a sweet idea about creating a journal not only for yourself, but also your children. You’re never too young or old to give thanks.
    Gratitude journal

    Gratitude Journals from Let’s Lasso the Moon

  2. Make a Gratitude Tree: This tree would make a perfect centerpiece for your Thanksgiving table. If you don’t have room for one big tree, a set of three or four smaller versions arranged down the middle of your table would be pretty – and easy for guests to participate. You could leave a “leaf” and small pencil at each place setting. What I love about this post from The Mother Huddle is it includes printable tags for you to use.
    thanksgivingtree

    Gratitude tree from The Mother Huddle

  3. Read a Book about Gratitude: 365 Thank Yous is a touching memoir about a man named John Kralik who decides to write 365 thank you notes in the coming year. In the words of the publisher, “Kralik sets a believable, doable example of how to live a miraculously good life. To read 365 Thank Yous is to be changed.” This would make a wonderful gift for anyone dear to your heart.365ThankYous
  4. Watch a Gratitude Video {link}: The Gratitude Project filmed a unique social experiment that will tug at your heartstrings. People were asked to express gratitude to someone they haven’t spoken to in awhile. Each person selected three contacts in their phone and called them to say “thank you”. It’s a great reminder of how powerful a simple call can be. It would be awesome if everyone would stop to do this.
  5. Take a Gratitude Challenge on Social Media: You may have seen a few hashtags in use with the gratitude theme. Why not give it a try yourself? #100thankfuldays is one challenge where you spend 100 days posting your gratitude. It’s a brilliant way to create a habit. If you’re not ready to bite off that big of a commitment, you can take the 5-Day Gratitude Challenge, where you list five things for five days that you’re grateful for. Then you can nominate a Facebook friend to do the same.

I hope you’ll join me in trying a few of these ideas. In the meantime, I’m grateful you’re here!

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