The Best 13 Ways to Naturally Help the Winter Blues

The Best 13 Ways to Naturally Help the Winter Blues

The winter blues are upon us, but they don’t have to be. According to Cleveland Clinic having the “winter blues” is actually normal. You’re totally fine to feel a little down during the colder months. They refer to it as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Um, yeah, I know I get it. No matter where we live we’re bound to crave sunlight. 

What can we do about it?

Here are the best 13 ways to naturally reduce the ‘winter blues’. I go from the most common to the most unique. My personal favorites are #9 and #13.

1- Get Outside…even if it’s cloudy.

2- Open up the shades and pullback the curtains.

Increase the amount of sunlight in your home. Open the shades and curtains. This is so incredibly healthy for your mind and wellbeing. In fact, this is probably one of my biggest pet-peeves. It will be a beautiful day outside and I’ll go visit a friend and they will have their blinds or curtains closed. Listen, people, you’re missing out on a lot of good stuff and entertainment from nature.  Open the d@#n shades!

3- Take Vitamin D

Taking vitamin D3 also reduces upper respiratory infections…2020.

4- Exercise

Who cares if it’s cloudy and gray outside! Bundle up and get out there. A bit of fresh air does a body and soul good.

5- Set a sleep schedule

When you’re on a sleep schedule, your body will naturally flow with it. It’s take a little time, but within a week or two you should be feeling the positive affects.

6- Look at what you’re eating.

Change up your diet and eat more Omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, walnuts, flax seeds), berries, dark chocolate, and bananas are beneficial too. Source: Healthline.

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7- Try Light Therapy

Light therapy also helps, but talk to your doctor first. There are a few lights to look at on Amazon. Here’s one that’s inexpensive to try: Miroco Light Therapy Lamp.

6 More Fun Things to Calm the Winter Blues

8- Add plants to your indoors

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Some other fun things we can do to brighten our blue months (January and February) is to bring green plants into your living space. Having plants, even if they’re fake, gives off a fresh feel to the room. Try putting a houseplant or two in your kitchen. If you don’t do well with plants, and what I mean is keeping them alive, head to your favorite hobby store or hop on Amazon and pick up some fake greens.

9- Light it up inside!

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Move your Christmas lights from your tree to other areas of your home. I have a fake tree in my kitchen; year-round I put a string of white lights on it and turn them on in the evening and early morning. In our basement, I have a string of lights on my fireplace mantel. A few lights can go a long way! If you don’t like the typical dark green string, get the white! You can find them on Amazon.

10- Turn your nose on

Fill your home with lovely smells. Honestly, I don’t know what it is about the smell of banana bread baking, but it brings warm hugs to my soul. Chicken soup does the same thing. Whatever your childhood favorite smell, make that smell happen!

11- Get into nature…with your ears

Play nature sounds. There are a lot of great nature sounds you can download. My personal favorites are the ones with birds, something that mimics my backyard in the warmer months. If the ocean is your favorite spot, tune into the sounds, and close your eyes.  

12- Embrace the season

Welcome the stillness of the winter. Every year I find myself craving time alone when it’s snowing outside. Since I live in Michigan we get our share of snow. The snow has this magical way of quieting life down. One of my favorite places to be in winter is sitting in the snowbank at night…especially if it’s snowing!

13- Warm up the bones

Don’t forget to warm up your bones. If there is ever any sunshine, grab a camp chair and camp out in front of the window or door where the sunbeams shine through. I did this just the other day and my soul immediately felt better. No sun? Try your fireplace. No fireplace? Light a candle. No candles? Take a hot bath. No bathtub? A cup of hot chocolate or tea works too…with a pair of cozy socks.

Victory over the Winter Blues

Let’s beat the winter blues at it’s game. Shine light where you can and warm up your soul using all your senses. Be aware of your surroundings and how you can change them. You got this!

By CT Copyright © 2021 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.

Blogging: 4 Reasons Why + 3 Tools to Get You Started

Blogging: 4 Reasons Why + 3 Tools to Get You Started

Do you ever wonder why some people blog? Or what about getting started with a blog, what do you need? Blogging serves everyone differently. Some people write to write, others try to make money, and others simply do it because they enjoy it. These are all great reasons! I personally have three motives for blogging and three tools to help you start on blogging.

What does “Blog” even mean?

According to Google, a blog is a “web-log”. Some say it serves as a personal diary or platform for personal opinions. Yet, businesses write blogs to support their products, and people write blogs to teach about their talents or interests. In other words, it is informal writing compared to published books. You do not have to have a degree in English to write a blog, you don’t even need to have a high school diploma, anyone can write one.

Why do I write a blog?

Back in 2009ish, I started writing a blog. Frankly, I had no idea what I was doing. Blogging was fairly new back then. I could have taken many angles with my blog; my first intent was to teach people about joy. Then somehow it transformed into wanting to share the lessons I’ve learned in life to help others save time. Since then, I’ve pretty much kept with that theme.

1. Gives you a voice

The main reason I started a blog was because I wanted a voice. When I’m in a conversation I tend to listen more than speak. I have learned a tremendous amount about people just by listening to them. However, at times when I do speak, others see it as a chance to speak too. Interrupting others is rude, in case you didn’t know that.

Listen up, speaking is not the only way to be heard in this world. People can voice themselves through music, dancing, drawing, cooking, and frankly any hobby or craft. Blogging gave me an instant voice through writing without interruptions.

2. Processes information

Writing to me is like therapy. It forces me to think about what I want to say and how to say it. When I get thoughts down on paper, it helps me see what really is going on in my life. Then when I blog about it, it helps me figure out what I want to say to others in order to help them in a similar circumstance. Blogging assists me in processing a challenge I am facing.

People learn through stories. If I can share a story of a challenging time in my life where I learned how to navigate through it or something miraculous happened to me to solve it, I want to share that information with others! Testimony is powerful. When we can relate with other people, things happen. Healing happens. Inspiration happens.

3. Remembrance

The other reason I blog is to leave a part of me on this planet. I know that sounds kind of corny, but thinkg about it. A lot of the time when I blog I think about my family. When I’m long gone I still want them to be able to see me, hear me, and learn from me. Whether it’s through a blog post, YouTube video, or social media post, I want my family to be able to see that even though I am in heaven, I am still here with them.

4. Make extra money

Many bloggers blog to make some extra cash. If you can make money on your blog, I see it as an added bonus. There are A LOT of blog posts that tell you how to make money and how easy it can be. But don’t be deceived. Making money by blogging isn’t going to happen overnight. First and foremost, keep your day job. For dollars to roll in, it’s going to require time, energy, researching, and lots of testing. I’m not writing to deter you, I’m just giving you a heads up that it can be harder than people protray…in which they are probably selling a blogging course. Some people make loads of money and I give them a total high five!

I have spent some bucks on a few courses and found them helpful. Did they put me at the top of Google or give me the magic secret to making money? No. But they did give me an education on how it all works, which is super huge to understand. Just know, that there isn’t one course that covers all. Blogging is fairly new and it’s always changing. I highly recommend YouTube and courses that have had many positive reviews.

3 tools to get started blogging

If you want to get started writing a blog it’s going to take a little money. You can try to go free, but at some point, it’s going to require some dollar bills. The amount of money you spend depends on what you want.

Here are some things you’re going to want to think about:

Domain name.

This the website’s address. It must be unique. Think of a few ideas then head over to Domain.com and check to see if it’s available. You can buy your domain at domain.com.

Publishing platform.

This is where you make the website or blog. The platform allows you to design your site and blog on it. WordPress.org is the most popular and it’s free! However there are some plugins (these are like apps on your phone) that can cost money, yet, most are free. Other publishing platforms are Wix, Squarespace, or Blogger. I personally prefer WordPress.org.

Hosting.

This is what connects the domain name to the publishing platform and puts it out there for the world to see. Hosting will cost you money. I highly suggest Flywheel. The people are way cool and it’s easy to use. Hosting is paid for on an annual basis.

Connecting the domain name, publishing platform, and hosting all together can be tricky. If you can’t figure it out on your own, you can hire a webmaster to do it, or you can watch videos on YouTube. Just like that, you’ve got your blog or website for that matter!

Wrapping it up

Keep it simple. Only get what you need. You can always add things later. First and foremost, understand why you want to start a blog. After you have that figured out you’ll have a better idea of what you need and who your audience will be.

By CT Copyright © 2021 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.

Weight Loss: 5 Effective Questions You Need to Ask

Weight Loss: 5 Effective Questions You Need to Ask

footprint in the sand

To be successful with weight loss and the management thereafter, it’s going to take some understanding of how important it is to you. There’s more to weight loss than weight. That’s why the first step in your weight loss journey should be to answer some questions. Clarity gives you a pathway. This can be a total game-changer for you!

My Story

In 1992 I was 20 pounds overweight. I wanted to lose the weight, but all the things I was trying to drop pounds weren’t working. It was like walking in the sand; every step seemed so hard and it barely felt like I was going anywhere!

What gave me solid ground was an Indiana Hoosier Basketball game. At the time, I was a freshman at a small private college. As months ticked by in this new setting, the weight inched on. However, what I noticed was that it wasn’t the sitting and studying that made me fat, it was depression! This college was more clicky than high school, and if you can remember high school, it was the mecca of judgement. Living in that environment is toxic. And this place was worse! Something had to change. I wanted to be happy, to find me, to be free.

My ‘ah-ha’ moment came when my roommates and I were watching TV in the common area. We happened to be watching an Indiana University basketball game. One of my roommates said something that stirred my inner core. She said, “I’d love to go to Indiana.” I looked at her as she watched the game and asked, “Why don’t you?” She responded, “Because I don’t know anyone and I don’t think I can get in.”

Her answer triggered a fire inside me. You’re letting the fear of not knowing, stop you? It was as if I was asking myself that question. As I watched the game and the excited fans…I began to want to be a part of that picture. I wanted a large university experience.

Be true to yourself

In the fall of ’93, I was officially an Indiana University student. I was in a new setting, with new people, and new goals. PLUS I had season basketball tickets! I removed myself from a place of judegement and placed myself into a place of ‘who gives a rip of what you look like’. I did it. It wasn’t easy, but it was a game-changer.

Within six months, I lost 20 pounds and then some; all because I looked at my thought process first. On the surface, I wanted to lose weight, but deep down I wanted to explore who I was and be true to myself. When I understood my motives, the weight naturally came off.

Are you asking yourself the right question/s before you start your weight loss plan? Do you have a picture of what you want to be a part of?

To the core:

Which leads me to the core: it’s not what we’re eating or doing, it’s what we’re thinking. It’s not the weight on our bodies that give us frustration; it’s the weight we carry around in our minds that trip us up.

First off, I’m not going to tell you how to lose weight; you’re going to do that. Why? Because I want YOU to see results in more areas than one. I want you to live in harmony with your body, mind, and heart for the rest of your life…not just swimsuit season. And only YOU can make that happen, not someone telling you what to do.

Download the workbook and lose weight now!

5 Questions You’ll Want to Answer.

1: What is your WHY? Why do you want to lose weight? I’m not talking surface answers here. Peal that off, look under that. WHY?

2: What are you WRESTLING with? What’s blocking you from making this happen? What are you carrying around with you? Stress? A belief? Fear? Identity crisis? Loneliness?

3: What is your WAY? In other words, what method works for YOU to reach your weight goals? What are you going to do EACH WEEK to make this happen?

4: What will you WIN? By reaching your goal, what is it going to do for you? Freedom? Confidence? More energy? More outgoing? Motivation? Purpose?

5: What is it WORTH?

Wrapping up

I’m happy to say I’ve kept the weight off ever since my Indiana days; even after having a baby and going through steroid treatment for an ailment. I have managed the weight; not the other way around.

If you’re having trouble answering those 5 questions or want to dig deeper, I would love to walk with you and discover things you might have not known. There is no better feeling than saying, “I finally figured it out.”

simple happy wellness strategies

With Simple Happy Wellness Strategies you’ll find amazing strategies to wellness and weight loss! There are six strategies that are simple to implement and, honestly, it won’t feel like much change with my gradual approach. In this easy to read workbook, you’ll find stories, fun worksheets, and valuable resources. You’ll also learn some great ways to grow your relationship with Jesus.

Disclaimer: Consult your doctor before making changes with Simple Happy Wellness Strategies.

By CT Copyright © 2021 Simplify Firefly, All Rights Reserved.

3 Ways to Help My Child Lose Weight…with a Smile

3 Ways to Help My Child Lose Weight…with a Smile

The words ‘smile’ and ‘weight loss’ typically don’t go hand in hand when we are trying to lose weight. Let’s face it, diet, self-care, and wellness can be a challenge, no, it is a challenge. Then when you realize you need to help your child lose weight…oh brother. It’s okay, I get it. Why not make it fun? Seriously, this IS possible! I’ve got three ways to get your bodies (and minds) to feel and look better!

Weight Facts

Child obesity affects 1 in 5 children in the US. This means that children who are overweight now will likely be overweight when they are adults. This excess weight can not only increase the risk for them getting type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, but their mental health and self-esteem may be altered. Also, being overweight can get to be very expensive! Not just in food and clothes, but with medical bills. We all want our children to live a life full of opportunity and blessing. To give your child a head start in life start with them knowing how to take care of themselves. This is so super important, because without their health, what do they have?

The problem with child weight loss

One of the biggest issues with weight loss is that children don’t understand health all that well. They are either going to watch you or other influences to get their knowledge. Since you are their biggest influence, you can help them make the right choices and for them to have fun while doing it.

When to start?

There is no better time than right now to get started on helping your child lose weight. “But I was going to wait until New Years’?” WHY? This is what gets us in trouble, procrastination. If you wait, you’re just going to make it harder on everyone. Go about this with a gradual approach. Help your kids make the right choices with their time and dinner plates now.

3 Fun & Simple Ways to Help Your Child Lose Weight

Let them see you.

One way to make diet, self-care, and wellness fun is for your kids to see you doing it with a smile on your face, in fact, this is probably the most effective way to teach your kiddos that taking care of yourself is actually a good thing. If they see you doing it, they’re likely going to start doing it too! Remember kids see and hear EVERYTHING!

Do it with them.

Another way to help your child lose weight and make it fun is for you to do it with them. Come on, during the COVID pandemic there had been a lot of couch sitting. As we know, when it comes to the couch, the snacks come too; which eventually leads to a fully loaded butt or gut for that matter. Make a family promise to each other that together we can be healthier and slimmer! Then brainstorm together how you’re going to make this happen. This is also great because you’ll have each other to hold accountable. This approach can not only teach your kids about exercise and cooking but about love for themselves.

Make it a game.

Why not make it a game? I have a free download for you! Making anything a game for a child is way more fun than being Mr. Serious. I personally enjoy the game of Bingo. Just anticipating seeing the full line of tiddlywinks in a complete row is motivating! With my new game, Bingo Bites you win not by chance, but by choice! There are three versions: Bingo Bites Junior, Bingo Bites for 4 – 8-year-olds, and Bingo Bites for 9 -13-year-olds. These games focus on choices which, all-in-all, make a difference in their weight loss.

Bingo Bites Junior

Bingo Bites Junior comes with three cards: one card for diet, one for self-care, and one for wellness. Each card has colorful pictures and, of course, a free space! These are to be used on a daily basis until your kid gets into a habit of making the right choices in eating, grooming, and giving themselves some love. Honestly, any age can benefit from Bingo Bites Junior.

Bingo Bites 9 - 13
Bingo Bites

Bingo Bites for 4 – 8 is more complex than Bingo Bites Junior. This is one big card that covers a lot of ground! Instead of choosing what card to do, use this card to cover all territory. Bingo Bites covers all the food groups, water, exercise, manners, outside time, and reading. If you’re looking for a little help to motivate your kids, use a bingo marker they like; for instance, candy, coins, or tiddlywinks with a prize (like a soda or playing time on Xbox). BINGO!

The Bingo Bites for 9 -14 is the same except for the quantity of food and manners.

To download Bingo Bites Junior or Bingo Bites for specific ages simply go here! Remember, your first step in getting your family healthy is to take the first step. Download today! Did I mention is was FREE?! Yep. It’s free!

One last thing! I know rewards are super important for a child. Typically we reward with food. I get it, I do it too! All I’m saying is to change it up once in a while. By changing up the prize from a donut to a game of Connect 4 with mom or more gaming time, it helps the child appreciate each prize a little bit more. Plus they’ll understand that a donut isn’t an everyday food.

By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.

Gluten-free Molasses Cookies with Peanut Butter

Gluten-free Molasses Cookies with Peanut Butter

There is something about molasses cookies that I crave. When I grew up, every Christmas my grandma would bake molasses cookies. Her cookies were about the size of a silver dollar and so addicting! My grandma would always have them neatly packed in a wax paper-lined cookie tin. The cookies would literally melt in your mouth. As I grew older and found out she’d use grease from the meal before in her recipe, I thought about making a healthier kind of molasses cookie.

molasses peanut butter cookie

Jump to Recipe

Another cookie favorite of mine is peanut butter. It’s such a simple cookie with so much comfort! I’m not sure if it’s the sugar coating or if it’s the texture of the fork grooves. Peanut butter in cookie form is peanut better!

How Molasses Peanut Butter Cookie came to be

This past November I was messing around in the kitchen with molasses. I wanted a cookie but was having trouble figuring out an egg substitute. Since my body doesn’t like eggs, it’s been a challenge coming up with an egg substitute that works for the particular recipe you’re working on. When you have a specialty diet, you have to be creative and experimental. So that’s what I did and discovered molasses and peanut butter marry well together.

Molasses Benefits

Molasses was first around in 1582, some say 1600. In other words, it’s been around. There are many health benefits to molasses. On some mornings I will actually drizzle molasses on my peanut butter toast just to get the added molasses advantage.

A little touch of molasses has a big nutrition punch! What exactly is in blackstrap molasses? You’ll find it is a source of iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin B6, potassium, copper, and selenium (antioxidant). Needless to say, blackstrap molasses is good for your red blood cells due to its iron content; and because of its potassium volume, it also helps lowers blood pressure. Get this! In case you missed it, blackstrap molasses contains calcium which we all know is good for our bones. And because it contains B6, blackstrap molasses can fight off stress. These are just a few benefits that it has. More benefits can be found here.

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What kind of molasses to buy?

To get these great benefits from molasses, you must get blackstrap molasses. Light molasses and Dark are not the same as Black. Blackstrap is the darkest type of molasses and it is the most concentrated form, hence, it has the most health benefits. After all, molasses is sugar. From what I understand it’s the leftover juice from sugar cane after they crush it to get sugar crystals. They boil it, then boil it again, and then again.

*Warning, if you eat too much of this dark syrup, you’ll probably get diarrhea. Know your limits.

Peanut Butter Benefits

Peanut butter has been around since only 1904. It was introduced at the St. Louis World’s Fair. It was used as a protein source for World War I and World War II.

Not only is peanut butter a good source of protein, but it also contains omega-3 fats. It is a good source of vitamin E, vitamin B6, manganese, and magnesium. Believe it or not, it also has copper in it!

Peanut butter is good for your heart; it can help reduce the risk of diabetes, and it even has some anticancer properties.

What kind to buy?

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The best kind of peanut butter to buy is organic. Organic peanut butter doesn’t have any added trans fats, sugars, or other hydrogenated oils. When those extra things are added to peanut butter, there are no health benefits; in fact, it’s the opposite. Hydrogenated oils increase omega-6s, and when you get too much of a good thing (omega-6) it makes it bad for your body and may cause weight gain along with inflammation. Yikes! Spend the extra money and buy organic! Organic peanut butter is simply organic peanuts and salt. Please read the labels on your peanut butter, it makes a huge difference. I personally like Costco brand, Kirkland Organic Peanut Butter. Plus, I store my peanut butter in the refrigerator.

The marriage happens!

What happens when you put the two together? Talk about a B6 and magnesium powerhouse! The flavors work and complement each other. Your mind might be saying “Ew”, but your taste buds beg to differ.

Because my diet is limited, I made these cookies with gluten-free flour. They are also egg-free, soy-free, and dairy-free. They do contain peanuts. Baking egg-free can be tricky. One great substitute for eggs is…you guessed it…peanut butter! To get a list of other substitutes I have one in my new workbook: Simple Happy Wellness Strategies. You can download it on Etsy.

molasses peanut butter cookie
Print

Gluten-free Molasses Peanut Butter Cookies

Add some depth to your molasses cookies with a little bit of peanut butter!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword cookies, dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, soy-free
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 12 cookies
Calories 115kcal
Author Christy
Cost $5 for recipe ingredients and measures

Equipment

  • Bowl
  • Mixer
  • Cookie sheet
  • Parchment Paper

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Coconut oil (solid form) You can use shortening as a substitute.
  • 1/2 cup Sugar White grandular or Organic Sugar Cane works
  • 3 tbsp Blackstrap Molasses
  • 3 tbsp Coconut Milk You can substitute any kind of milk alternative
  • 3 tbsp Organic Peanut Butter Heaping tablespoons, you can try it with Almond Butter or even Tahini.
  • 1 cup Gluten-free flour Heaping cup of Gluten-free flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp Cloves
  • 1/4 tsp Ginger
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Salt (optional)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 and prepare the cookie sheet with a sheet of parchment paper on top.
  • Mix coconut oil, sugar, peanut butter, and coconut milk.
  • Add blackstrap molasses and mix.
  • In a seperate bowl stir flour, baking soda, and spices.
  • Gradually combine dry ingredients to wet with mixer. The dough will be thick. If it looks dry add a splash of coconut milk, if it looks wet add a tbsp of gluten-free flour.
  • Chill dough for 1 hour.
  • In a small bowl, put in 1/2 cup of sugar.
  • Make small 1 -1 1/4 inch balls and roll them in the sugar. Place them on the cookie sheet an inch or so apart.
  • Gently push the bottom of a fork into the cookie so it makes small groves.
  • Put the cookie sheet into the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes.
  • Let cookies cool for 10 minutes.
  • For an added bonus mix 2 tbsp peanut butter with 1/2 tsp of coconut oil and 2 tbsp of powder sugar. Put in the microwave for 20 seconds then stir, put it back in the microwave for another 15 seconds and stir. Then put a dollup on top of the baked cookie…kind of like a frosting.

Notes

The calories and price of the cookies are an educated guess. 

I hope you enjoy this tasty nutrition-packed cookie. Happy baking!

By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.

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