Nature Quotes: the power of the outdoors

Nature Quotes: the power of the outdoors

If you can’t physically get outdoors, reading nature quotes will take your mind there. We were born with this internal love that connects us to nature. The awe of sunsets, oceans, and majestic mountains gets our attention. The outdoors is extremely entertaining and incredibly powerful. Things like storms, trees, flowers, and even vitamins like vitamin D can bring healing to our mental health, bodies, and even hearts.

Nature quotes the power of the outdoors scenic mountains

Preparing to enter nature

Do you ever get that feeling something is off-balance, that you just need to get out and breathe? I sure do. In fact, this past weekend I said to my husband, “I have got to get outside and surround myself with nature. I’m feeling anxious and need to clear my head.”

One of the things we can do to prepare for the outdoors is to get in the right mindset. Reading nature quotes is a great way to anticipate your outdoor venture. Nature quotes do a couple of things, they give you a mental visual of what you might experience, and they set the stage. They open your mind and prepare you to open your eyes to things you might otherwise not notice.

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Taking a look back to move forward

There is just something about being outdoors; you’re surrounded by beauty and uniqueness that our pioneers and Native Americans lived in every day. This gives me awe that in some areas of the outdoors it looked the very same as when our ancestors were around.

When I was a child I would play in the woods for hours. I’m sure you can relate if you lived in rural areas. I’d make a fort and pretend where my kitchen was the living room and the bedroom. Making a broom out of a stick and pine branches made me feel purposeful and resourceful. Know what I mean? This is probably why I enjoy camping.

Napoleon Hill quote about oaks

Our children and nature

Outdoor play is so good for our children. It not only stimulates their creativity, but nature actually helps them be creative. Playing outdoors creates confidence. It helps our kids develop a relationship with nature, and it comforts their natural spirit. Playing in God’s creation also brings them closer to Him. Here’s a post you gotta check out: 5 Valuable Ways to Manage Mental Wellness in Kids & Us. It talks about developing a relationship with nature. And gives ideas on how we can get our kids outdoors. It also covers our mental well-being and how to manage it naturally.

Nature can be our secret haven

For some people, like myself, nature is one of our favorite worship sanctuaries, it’s our haven, refuge. It’s informal and a perfect place to be one on one with God. Even if we don’t go into the woods or visit the meadows and mountains or beaches with the intent to worship God, nature has a way of rejuvenating and healing our souls. It’s like osmosis.

Christy standing by tree reducing pressure

Being outdoors doesn’t mean you have to exert a lot of energy to benefit from it, like climbing a mountain or going mountain biking; you can just be, and soak in that unexplainable need for it. It keeps our minds fresh and it maintains equilibrium with our daily lives. There is nothing more pleasing to the eye than the serenity of God’s creation. 

7 Amazing Nature Quotes

Snowflakes are one of nature’s most fragile things, but just look what they can do when they stick together.

Verna M. Kelly

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.

– Albert Einstein

Beauty heals.

– Unknown

The trees, the flowers, the plants grow in silence’ the stars, the sun, the moon move in silence. Silence gives us a new perspective.

– Mother Teresa
Albert Einstein quote nature

When I get into the woods my cluttered mind says “Thank you”, my soul says “Ah”, and my spirit whispers “Be still”.

– Christy Troy

The oak sleeps in the acorn. The bird waits in the egg, and in the highest vision of the soul a waking angel stirs. Dreams are the seedlings of reality.

– Napoleon Hill

I can’t change the wind, but I can adjust the sails to reach my destination.

– Jimmy Dean

Wrapping it up

John Muir loved nature and God. He published over 300 articles and 12 books about wilderness, nature, and preservation. He co-founded the Sierra Club which helped establish a number of national parks. John says it perfectly here,

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.”

– John Muir

May you make an effort to get out into your haven over this next week, to read some of these nature quotes before heading out in nature, to take a step back into time and see the world through the eyes of the pioneer and Native American. You may be surprised at what nature does for your heart and soul.

More great quotes coming your way!

11 Quotes on Success to be Successful

10 Inspirational Quotes you Don’t Want to Miss

10 Amazing Courage Quotes

My Top 10 Quotes for Overcoming Challenges

4 Tree Planting Tips

By CT Copyright © 2021 Simplify Firefly All Rights Reserved.

7 Firefly Facts & How to Care for Fireflies

7 Firefly Facts & How to Care for Fireflies

What’s fun about Fireflies? Well…everything! Here are some cool facts and information about fireflies. Plus I include ways to attract the firefly and how to safely catch them. Enjoy and be gentle! Be sure to download my free Firefly Fun Sheet!

firefly facts

Firefly Fact #1

There isn’t just one kind of firefly. There are more than 2000 species of fireflies in the world! That’s a lot of light.

Fact #2

Speaking of natural light, the firefly light is the most efficient light in the WORLD! Yep. Bug light is the best light in the world…natural light. The sun doesn’t count. Let’s face it, what other bug or animal produces its own light?

Actually, there are some other bioluminescent species that exist on this planet, however, most of them live deep in the ocean.

firefly flowers

Fact #3

What else is cool about firefly glow? Not all light from the firefly is the same color. The glow can be yellow, green, orange, or blue! How cool is that? Way cool.

Fact #4

Their handy blink and frequency of the blink are how fireflies communicate with each other. I kind of like to think of them using Morris Code. They also use their light as a mating signal. Oo, la la!

firefly fun sheet
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Fact #5

Fireflies do not taste good. If I were you I’d cancel that side of firefly and stick with your kale. Fireflies are actually poisonous to some animals if they eat them. When the firefly is attacked they release a little blood. Ew. But the blood contains a chemical that creates a bigger taste and emits poison! It’s how they protect themselves.

Fact #6

Okay, this one is super important. Firefly numbers are reducing in the world. Some of this is due to climate change, but another reason is because of their habitats. The healthy living environments are being destroyed; not to mention, they are also being ‘harvested’ for their luciferase (their glow substance). Luciferase is used for scientific research for forensic tests and food safety. They do have a way to make this stuff synthetically, but people still kill these amazing bugs (beetles) for the natural stuff…

camping activity pages
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What can we do to save the fireflies?

We can make a firefly habitat!

Fireflies love to eat snails, worms, and slugs. Where there are snails, worms, and slugs, you’ll likely find fireflies. A garden is a perfect place for fireflies to enjoy life. Firefly larvae enjoy a good pile of wet leaves. It is suggested to make a compost pile of leaves and to keep the leaves moist throughout the year. The leaves will attract the slugs, and the baby fireflies will eat them as they grow. In the Spring, put some of the leaves in your garden as compost. Do this every year and watch your firefly population grow!

Fact #7

Fireflies also enjoy these plants: Passionflower, Morning Glory, Goldenrod, Asters, and River Fern. They also like trees! Good choices are Sycamore, Cottonwood, Elm, Bur Oak, Dogwood, and Trumpet Creeper.

How do we safely catch them?

We can catch them carefully. When they land you or when you gently catch them, simply put them in a glass jar with many holes punched through the top for oxygen. Place a damp paper towel in the jar to prevent them from drying out. Put a slice of apple in there for them to munch on. Please only keep the fireflies for 1 day. They only live for two-three months, let them be free and enjoy life.

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Want the glow to last longer?

If you want the fun glow and blinking to last longer, first let the fireflies go, then buy fairy lights and put them in a jar. I personally love these lights. The solar-powered ones are pretty cool, I keep them up all year round. Super awesome for wedding table decorations!

That does it on firefly facts! Hope you learned something new. Thanks for visiting!

References: FireFly.org and EcoWatch.  
Be sure to check out these other great posts!

How to Have a Happy Family: 3 Revolutionary Steps

Nature Quotes: the power of the outdoors

Kid Activities at Home: 10 Things You Can Do Right Now!

The Ultimate Scavenger Hunt (kids 8-13+ yrs. old)

The Ultimate Scavenger Hunt (kids 8-13+ yrs. old)

Scavenger hunt to the rescue! Do your kids have a lot of time on their hands? Are your tweens feeling dumpy and bored? I have a fun low-cost solution for you! My scavenger hunt takes at least three hours to complete. Can you hear the angels sing? This adventure keeps the kids busy and the tweens having fun! This isn’t your average scavenger hunt. You may find yourself and even your teenager wanting to participate.

Scavenger Hunt
Download it today! Click the picture or head to Freebies.

Not your typical scavenger hunt!

This hunt is like no other. First off, it’s not just a list of things to find. It involves reading, drawing, exercise, strategy, skill, teamwork, creativity, and cognitive thinking.  Seriously the kids loved it. They were outside and having fun. And strangely they got along! As a parent, it was gratifying to watch how much joy was happening to the kids. A memory for sure!

Another fun difference from other scavenger hunts is that it tells a little story. The story starts out with Larry who is lost and needs to find his way home. He has to go through the first three challenges to unlock his map, materials, and list. Then the rest of the challenges help him find his way home. He gets hungry on the way, wants to find presents to bring home, and needs to spend the night. And the most exciting part of all is that he needs to create a flying vessel to get home!

outdoor activity kit
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Who is Larry?

Larry is actually one of my son’s stuffed animals. I just grabbed a small one that would be suitable for flight. You can use an egg…this would be interesting…or a water balloon for that matter, or a cardboard cutout. Essentially, Larry can be anything you want. However, with the stuffed animal, I found it made the hunt more personal-able and “real”. They really had fun with it.

Who is this scavenger hunt for?

This challenge is for 8 – 13-year-olds. Yes, an activity for tweens too! Younger kids can be helpers on some of the challenges that are too hard, obviously, that is up to you. You could make adjustments to cater to younger kids. This is a definite fun tween activity when they’re bored.

Scavenger Hunt Challenge
Download it today! Head to Freebies.

Materials and Set-up

As for materials, use items you already have in-house. No need to run to the store. This is what can make the scavenger hunt more challenging…after all it is a scavenger hunt! For instance, for Larry’s flying vessel I just found some yarn, balloons, a plastic cup, a piece of fabric, foil, and threw in some other things from my junk drawer. Who knows what kids will come up with!

All you need to do is draw a map and set up the course. This usually takes about 30-minutes. I personally had a lot of fun doing this. It brought me back to my childhood fun. To make it more interesting, I allowed a phone to be present for the kids to shoot videos and for taking pictures. They enjoyed this part especially making the trick shot video. I simply downloaded an app called Clips. My son actually had to show me how to work it, in other words, it’s easy to figure out.

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Scavenger hunt example

Here’s a video summary of this scavenger hunt we did the other day:

Larry is waiting for you!

Ready to have some fun and watch your kiddos have a blast? To download and print Larry’s Scavenger Hunt Challenge head over to Freebies. OH! One last thing, it’s actually a lot of fun as a family to do too! Not to mention at a campground when on vacation. Enjoy!

Before you go, check out these other great posts!

How to Have a Happy Family: 3 Revolutionary Steps

Kid Activities at Home: 10 Things You Can Do Right Now

The Best Daily Planner for Teens Ever! What to look for

13 Family Games Worth Playing, Plus a little History

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

Kid Activities at Home: 10 Things You Can Do Right Now!

Kid Activities at Home: 10 Things You Can Do Right Now!

Need some fresh kid activities at home? There are three words that wreak havoc on a busy mom, “Mom, I’m bored”. Remember we’ve all been there as kids too. Bored is not a bad thing, but it’s a lot more fun when we can spark an interest in our kids and get them out of their funk. Here are 10 fresh ideas you can pass on to your kids and even teenagers!

I'm Bored

Chores are not what they’re looking for

Mom is great for thinking up solutions to boredom questions. A few ideas I like to rattle off to my son are: clean your room, organize your closet, dig a hole, read, vacuum the living room, wash windows, sweep the driveway…and the chore list keeps building. But chores are not what a kid wants to do when they are bored.

Outside fun to cure the ‘bored’!

During the pandemic the phrase, ‘I’m bored”, went from hearing it three times a day to 20 times a day! We, moms, get so sick and tired of hearing it. And yes, we can say to them to go outside and play; there is nothing wrong with that. They’ll find something to do in God’s creation.

In fact, the Outdoor Industry Association states in their study, “Reconnecting youth with the outdoors has become critical to the health of future generations and the health of our natural landscapes.” Getting outside is HUGE for our kiddos. Take a gander at these nature quotes and understand the power of the outdoors. Please encourage them to do so. To help you out I created a slew of printables for kids that encourage them to learn more about the outdoors and have fun doing it. You can head to my Etsy Shop to check them out.

10 kid activities at home

1) Make them laugh.

When they say “I’m bored” reply with “Hi Bored. I’m Mom, how are you doing today?” Encourage them to read some jokes or to create three new jokes for supper time. Try to avoid the eye roll or a harsh reply. Instead, give them a tickle in their side and tell them you want a comedy show after supper. Reiterate their creativity and how funny they are. Here’s a joke book I created filled with the same family-friendly laughs as Lunchbox Note Jokes.

Lunchbox Note Jokes
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2) Create a talent show.

Speaking of shows. My family enjoys watching talent shows on TV. Why not have your own talent show? Have your kids put together their very own talent show? They can do multiple talents and practice, practice, practice. Have them make a talent show sign, tickets, a curtain, and maybe even create a theme song or commercial! This is super fun. Kids can do magic tricks, dance, sing, do bike tricks, trampoline routines, swimming tricks, trick shots, drawing, card tricks, jump rope, chalk art, you name it. Golly, I want my son to do a talent show now!

3) Restaurant fun!

Have them play restaurant for real. This isn’t necessarily a chore. But have them cook dinner, complete with menu, table service, and multiple courses. They’ll need an appetizer, soup or salad, main meal, and dessert. If they aren’t old enough to cook, have them make a pretend meal and menu.

4) Get out the scavenger hunt on steroids

Get them busy with a scavenger hunt. There are many scavenger hunt printables out there, or you can simply create your own, it only takes a few minutes. If you have older kids I highly recommend my very own Scavenger Hunt Challenge! This involves a little bit of set-up, but it will keep them busy for three hours, yes 180 minutes. Personally, I found it very fun to watch. This is a fun teenager activity, seriously, it is! You can download this hunt by subscribing to my newsletter, you’ll find it in my Freebies!

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5) Write stories or comics

Some kids love to read, others do not. My son is the NOT one. Instead of reading, have them create a comic book with pictures and bubble text. Give them ideas of what to write about by what your child likes. Is he/she into gaming? Pizza? Sports? Robots? Hunting? Cooking? You can get these blank comic books on Amazon to help guide them into making a masterpiece! My son made a whole series of comics about his superpower and his superpower friends. It was hilarious! To get the juices flowing read them their favorite children’s books. On that note, check out my new children’s book, INK!

6) Photography at its finest

Find it on Amazon!

If you want them off the gaming, turn on camera mode. Have them head outside and take pictures of what’s going on around them. You can ask for a gallery of photos that you all can review at dinner time. Have them take pictures of leaves, flowers, wildlife or bugs, or anything blue, yellow, or red. They can create a game with photos too; for instance, you have them take 10 pictures and you have to guess what they all have in common…like things that move, things that fly, etc. Don’t want them to have a phone in hand? We had gotten our son this fun children’s camera. It worked great and he absolutely loved it!

7) Obstacle course to the rescue

Have them create an obstacle course. With American Ninja Warrior going on, this is super fun for kids. Essentially, sidewalk chalk can go a long way here. They can draw different jumps, hopscotch boards, cartwheel areas, and walk on a line. The kids can set up things to climb and jump over. If you have a play structure or live by a school or playground they can do things there. They can even pretend to not touch the ground as one of their obstacles!

8) Playlist creation

If you have an older kid or teenager who can navigate a phone and a playlist, have them create a playlist for YOU! This can take them forever but it also helps them feel needed and special.

9) Puzzles and Printables

As I mentioned earlier, have them do puzzles. I created some amazing activity pages for kids that will keep them busy and have fun doing it. My activity pages include camping, fishing, fireflies, trees, sports, and more. They are fun to do as a family too! You can find them all here.

tree printable for kids
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10) Start a business

Have them think of a business and plan it. They could start a coloring business, mowing business, flower arranging, baking, trick show business, LEGO building business, video making, practice being a nurse, toy cleaning gig, toy fixing, dog walking, swing-set testing, Hot Wheels cleaning, cookie baking, you name it.

Bonus!

BONUS IDEA! This has been one of my favorite kid activities at home EVER! Create your very own putt-putt golf course around the yard or at a park. All you need is a putter, a few golf balls, and a cup or a piece of yarn to make a “hole”. Seriously, this is fun for your toddler to teenager.

And don’t forget to camp in the backyard! What a fun activity for all your kids and your dog. Pop up a tent and roast some hotdogs on a fire. Here are some ways to camp more comfortable!

Wrap up

There you go! Ten ways, plus a bonus, to answer the dreaded “Mom, I’m bored”. Remember to be happy, thankful for their honesty, and to encourage their creativity. Be sure to check out some of my favorite family games and children’s books to read as a family!

Before you go, check out these blog posts:

How to Have a Happy Family: 3 Revolutionary Steps

5 Valuable Ways to Manage Mental Health in Youth

17 Road Trip Essentials to Simplify Your Trips

4 Simple Reduce Stress Strategies for You & Your Kids

Stay Connected
By CT Copyright © 2021 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.
4 Planting Tree Tips + Earth Day & Arbor Day Activities

4 Planting Tree Tips + Earth Day & Arbor Day Activities

Planting a tree is a simple thing that makes a big difference. However, before you get dirty, there are some planting tree tips you’re going to want know! Whether it be Earth Day, Arbor Day, National Tree Day, or an ordinary day there is always a reason to plant a tree.

With global warming on the rise, there IS something we can do about it. Plant more trees! Trees gobble up all those bad emissions, they actually filter the air. They also help clean our water and provide so much for us to survive and thrive. Did you know that trees can help reduce stress and bring happiness? Whaaat? Yes! This post is going to be a game-changer for you and your family. Learn some amazing tree facts, get wiser with tree terminology, and understand these 4 tips on planting trees that everyone else forgets!

More than just a tree

My childhood was surrounded by trees. That’s probably why I love them so much. They were my friends when I didn’t have anyone to play with, they were my listener when no one else would listen, and they were my entertainment when I didn’t want to watch TV.

No, I’m not a major tree hugger. But I do my part. In fact, on my vision board, I have a ‘tree farm’. About five years ago I started my own little tree farm in our backyard. I bought pots, dirt, and saplings of Blue Spruce, Douglas Fir, White Pine, Sugar Maples, and Burr Oak. There has been so much joy in watching are caring for my tree babies. And I’m happy to say they are all now in their forever homes. Note: I did this on less than an acre, so if you have any kind of space, you can do this too!

A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

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A few tree facts & benefits

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Trees have many benefits, they reduce air pollution, enrich habitats, bring beauty to the eye, shelter us, provide food, provide material, and comfort us in many ways. The book, The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben, is a must-have! Did you know trees communicate with others through their root system? That they ‘scream’ when they need water? Even if you don’t have an interest in trees, you will after you read this book!

There are about 3 to 6 billion trees cut down globally per year. That’s a lot of trees! No wonder our atmosphere is so polluted. Mahatma Gandhi has a valid point, “What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.”  Again, if you asked me what would reverse global warming, let alone our own well-being, I’d say to plant trees! This is such a simple task with huge rewards. And it’s incredibly EASY!

Nature heals us in many ways, not just by providing medicines, but by other means that are unexplainable. What is it about walking through a forest or a path lined with trees? Trees actually reduce stress and lift our spirits. It’s amazing how something so simple has so much power. Prepare yourself for the outdoors with these amazing nature quotes.

Tree terminology: Get to know the lingo

When talking about trees there are a few words you might want to familiarize yourself with. Here are the most common terms you’ll run into; ‘thank you, to the State of Maine’ for this reference.

  • Conifer: Cone-bearing trees; the “evergreens”. I get this messed up with Deciduous all the time!
  • Crown [of the tree]: Branches, twigs, buds, leaves, flowers, and fruit. This is the big part on top.
  • Deciduous [leaves]: All leaves drop in the autumn; not evergreen. Think of ‘dead’, as in dead leaves, to remember this one.
  • Fruit: The seed-bearing part of a tree
  • Habitat: The place where a plant usually grows, for example, dry, wet, rocky.
  • Hardwood: Term used to describe all broadleaved trees. These tree species are deciduous, retaining their leaves only one growing season.
  • Inner bark: Conducts usable food from the leaves to the cambium (tree cells) to nourish it or to storage areas in the wood.
  • Leaf: Stalk and blade of hardwoods: needles and scales of conifers.
  • Leaflets: Smaller leaf units or leaflets which together form a compound leaf.
  • Outer bark: The area of the tree trunk composed of dead cells. It insulates and protects inner tissues from disease infections and drying.
  • Photosynthesis: This is the process that occurs in the leaves. From energy produced by sunlight, the leaves combine carbon dioxide from the air and water from the soil to produce carbohydrates. Oxygen is released in the process. Carbohydrates plus fats and proteins are the plant foods necessary for growth and respiration of the tree.
  • Roots: Root hairs absorb water and mineral salts from the soil. Larger roots anchor the tree and store nitrogen and carbohydrates.
  • Softwood: Term used to describe all needle-leaved trees. These species are typically evergreen, retaining their leaves through two or more growing seasons.
  • Trunk: The main body of the tree.
Source: maine.gov/dacf/mfs/projects/fall_foliage/kids/glossary.html

woods

4 planting trees tips others forget to do

1. Give it significance

Plant a tree to represent an important time in your life. You’ll take better care of it knowing there is symbolism behind it. In fact, I’ve been known to give my trees a fun name, like Bruce the Spruce, my son named our freshly planted Sugar Maple, Kevin. When I had my tree farm, I named every tree…silly sounding, but people absolutely loved it!

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2. Plant properly

When planting a tree in the ground, make sure to dig a wide hole and only as deep as the pot. Carefully remove the tree from the pot and spread out the roots. We want to try and save the dirt it is used to and gradually introduce the new dirt. Carefully fill in the hole with dirt and then put a 2-inch layer of mulch surrounding the tree. Water the tree every day for two weeks. And wrap the trunk in the cold winter months to protect it from sunscald and rodents. Do this until it’s big enough to thrive on its own, probably when the trunk is at a 4-5 inch diameter. You can download my tree adoption certificate for the step-by-step details.

3. Get a tree

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Don’t know where to get a tree? Try a local nursery and opt for native trees, trees that thrive in their environment. For instance, White Spruce is a native tree to Michigan, but Blue Spruce is native to Colorado. Your local conservation office should have trees to buy. You can also get a tree on Amazon! Seriously, you can get a Sugar Maple and many other types of trees.

4. Check out Arbor Day Foundation

Go to the Arbor Day Foundation for more facts and information about trees. If you need to purchase some trees, they can handle that too. You can make a donation and they’ll send you free trees as a thank you. They have loads of information in caring for your tree along with more planting tree tips.

Don’t have a place to plant? No problem. The Arbor Day Foundation is happy to accept donations, they will then plant trees where they are desperately needed. Please note, I do not work for Arbor Day Foundation nor get monetary benefits from mentioning them, I simply am a supporter helping to spread the word. They are the experts.

Trees are the best monuments that a man can erect to his own memory. They speak his praises without flattery, and they are blessings to children yet unborn.

Lord Orrery, 1749

Wrapping up planting tree tips

Don’t be afraid to plant a tree. With too many forest fires to count, plant as many trees as you can either by donation or my getting your hands dirty. Let’s make the world a better place for ourselves and for future generations. Make Earth Day every day in some way or form. Don’t forget to get your tree printable for your kids! It’s super fun and educational. Get it here on Etsy. Thank you!

Before you go, check out these other great posts

How to Make Camping More Comfortable: 7 Critical Tips

Kid Activities at Home: 10 Things You Can Do Right Now

7 Firefly Facts and How to Care for Fireflies

Copyright © 2021 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved.
The Best Daily Planner for Teens Ever! What to look for.

The Best Daily Planner for Teens Ever! What to look for.

Planners aren’t just for adults, teens need them too! Get a daily planner for teens today and teach them how to manage their time and develop this amazing skill. Teens may think they know everything, but we can help them learn how to get organized. As you know, when you’re organized you feel better, you’re happier and nice to others. A simple planner might just help everyone get through the teen years.

Planner history

In the 1700s the planner was invented by your very own Benjamin Franklin. And in 1984 the Franklin Planner was brought to our eyes thanks to Richard I. Winwood. One of our most valuable things on this planet is our time. How we plan our minutes determines the outcome of our lives. Let me be bold: No one is to blame, except for you, for how you use your time. A planner is a great tool to help you guide your teen in planning their days, know what to look for, and make this year a great one.

best planner ever what to look for

Two things that need to happen for a productive life

For you to experience an amazing, productive life there are two things that need to happen. The first is to know yourself to the best of your ability. When you understand who you are and where you want to go in life, directing your time becomes a little easier. And when your time is managed the way you like it, you are at peace. Understanding your identity isn’t an easy thing, we are ever-changing beings. I’ll give you some tips in a minute.

The second thing that needs to happen is for you to have a plan, at least something to go by. Organizing life starts on paper. As we all know, we can plan all we want, but the Lord directs our steps. Wandering aimlessly is straight-up stressful. Try traveling without a map…this includes your phone navigation. Think about a time when you were lost. Do you remember how that made you feel? Is being lost, the source of all stress? Hmm. Yet, there is one thing that keeps on ticking, time.

Teens and tweens struggle with time management, it’s okay, managing time is a skill they need to develop. The other thing that needs to happen in life is encouragement and positivity. I created a daily planner for teens to do just this. To focus on the good things, to give encouragement, inspire, and speak truth into their hearts.

Identity, how it orchestrates our day

Understanding identity is a HUGE thing right now. People are exploring what they like, who they like, what they believe in, etc. Identity is a controversial topic because it involves all the things people get mad about race, religion, sex, politics, vaccines… The crazy part is that we all want to be liked, so in some weird ways, we go along with the crowd even when we don’t want to. This creates a whole different ball of twine and a blog post, but my point is for us to understand who we are.

As the Bible says, we are to not conform to the pattern of this world, but instead, to be transformed by the renewing of our mind, for then we will be able to test God’s will for our life, his perfect, pleasing, and goodwill (Romans 12:2). In other words, seek your Creator to understand who He made you to be, then you will understand where you should go.

journal prompts
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That was some fun theology, this is not to discourage you, this is to encourage you. Because when you think you have to do this life alone, that you need to figure everything out yourself, and you have to make every minute count, not to mention, keeping up with what everyone else is doing…give it to our Mighty God in Heaven. Ask Him, your Heavenly Father, to help you, direct you, open your eyes, and protect you. He will. I guarantee it!

Planner plan

In 2020, we faced a dead stop in life with the COVID pandemic. The time came to a screeching halt. Many of us went bananas, others went on an extended mental vacation. There were many things we learned while being at home, some things we didn’t want to know like how lonely we were, how much we depended on others, and how much we needed “me” time. Getting sick wasn’t the only fear going on, knowing what to do with our time competed for first place. To help you with your time there is one thing you can invest in: a planner. Yes, even if you work from home, a personal planner is a must!

As 2021 came to be, life seemed completely the opposite of 2020. There was a new super speed! Traffic got heavy, people got rude, and many of us tried to fit as much as possible into our days. Were we trying to make up for time lost during the year before? Did we have different priorities? The year 2021, was a transition year and we were trying our hardest to get back to “normal” as much as possible. And now we’re all cranky and have headaches. My planner was definitely full, yet it was a true life-saver in staying sane. 

What to look for in a planner

There are a lot of planners out there that not only address our day-to-day but also have journal prompts and inspiring quotes, etc. Planners have come a long way since the 1770s; in fact, planners started out as journals. However, depending on your needs, we should be careful of what kind of planner to get; some can be time-consuming, stressful to keep up with, and distracting. Many planners look beautiful and fun, but I worry some people may get too focused on filling out their pretty little planner instead of living life and making things happen. Planners are a tool to keep you focused and sharp.

Download this daily planner for teens today

With that said, I created two downloadable planners in PDF format that is simple and essential to anyone’s life. I prefer the downloadable planner because you can print as many pages as you like! Both Simple Living planners come in three sizes so you can find a fun binder and put your own spin on it…which is great for making it your own.

Simple Living Planner Plus
Download at my Etsy Shop!

The Simple Living: All You Need Planner will help you stay on task. I designed it so it still gives you a few daily journal prompts that are fun to do. It is 17 pages. My goal is for this planner to help you get through your days feeling confident and productive. It focuses on the important things that will save us time and headaches.

The second planner I designed is the Simple Living: All You Need Planner PLUS. This 25-page simple planner PLUS is a great way to kick off a new beginning and to be strong and successful throughout! I absolutely LOVE this planner because it feeds my mind, energizes my goals, and makes me feel good! This planner is like your personal life coach. It’s filled with healthy mental goodness that anyone can benefit from no matter what age. It has all the same great pages as the first planner, but with bonus pages suited to feed the mind and creative spirit. Designed for a daily planner for teens or tweens but so good for a planner for mom or grandma. Feel the love through this planner, truly a game-changer.

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Wrapping the planner up

Using a planner is an excellent way to get the most out of our time, but choosing the right planner is what will make or break you. Start the New Year on the right foot and allow happiness to penetrate your heart. It all starts with your time, organizing, and utilizing it well.

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By CT Copyright © 2021 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved
How to Make Camping Comfortable: 7 Critical Tips!

How to Make Camping Comfortable: 7 Critical Tips!

Camp more comfortable by asking yourself, “What’s the purpose of the camping trip?” This should be the first thing you do before you start packing. Are you going to lay in the sun at the beach, hike in the woods, rock climb, swim, fish, or relax by the fire? Knowing the answer to this will help you pack efficiently and wisely. In this post, we’re going to talk about shelter, sleeping, cooking, water, activities, hygiene, and coffee. Let’s reduce stress and get camping comfy style!

how to make camping comfortable

Why is getting out in nature so important?

First and foremost, nature heals. We are creatures who not only depend on nature for our survival, but it nourishes our souls and reduces stress. According to “Nature’s Nurture” by Wendy Helfenbaum, an article in the Costco Connection it says that nature decreases anxiety and negative thinking. It goes on to say that outdoor activity improves our mental and physical well-being and reduces high blood pressure. Nature even helps us learn better! There are so many positive benefits nature holds for us. This doesn’t mean you have spent hours outside to gain from it, but studies show that even 10 minutes can lighten your load. And all we need to do is open the door.

There is something about nature and embarking on a family adventure. Nature relaxes us and opens our minds and hearts to experience God’s beauty. Family camping is a popular activity, or simply doing a family outdoor activity together is fun like cornhole, volleyball, or a scavenger hunt!

#1 How to make camping more comfortable in the weather

The main issue with camping is the weather. Before you pack your first item, look at the forecast. The key here is to have a plan for the opposite…at least something to get you by, like an umbrella or stocking cap. We’re not going to let the weather get in our way of the “serenity now” experience.

My essentials no matter what kind of trip we go on include: a rain jacket, wool hat, dry-wick pants and shorts, wool socks, 3 pairs of underwear, 1 vest, 1 fleece or down jacket, 2 t-shirts, 2 long sleeve shirts, and I never leave home without my swimsuit. Of course, this packing list depends on how long you’ll be gone. With that said, it’s a good idea to pack a little pouch of laundry detergent.

camping activity pages

#2 Getting Z’s in nature

Sleeping matters. Take sleep seriously. When we’re tired, most of us tend to be a bit on the cranky side. Sleep can ruin our trip. Without it, our bodies fall apart, our minds get messed up, and we’re not fun to be around. Make sleep your priority. By making your sleeping area comfy, you’ll sleep like a rock. Take note of the area you’re sleeping on; whether it is the ground, hammock, bed, or picnic table…I’ve seen it…make it as comfortable as possible. If your campsite has access to electrical service and you want to block out the neighbors’ chatter, use a white noise machine.  

During the night our temperature changes; to stay warm people generally pile on the blankets, but what you really want to do is to beef up what you’re sleeping on. The ground will sap your heat and energy, so think sleeping mat/s. If you’re in a hammock, think about laying on top of a couple of sleeping bags before you crawl into yours.

As for sleeping bags, they are great for sleepovers and hammocks, but when you’re camping at a modern campground in the dead of summer, you’re probably best served with sleeping on top of your sleeping bag then using a sheet and thin blanket over the top of your body. And don’t forget your precious pillow!

cooking at the campground

#3 How to make camping comfortable with meals

Cooking. Food is probably the next priority…assuming you’re bringing your own water. Typically when people think of camping they think of hot dogs. However, now a day, people are making gourmet meals! My rule is whatever floats your boat. I like things to be easy and already prepped. With that said, I spend an afternoon preparing our meals and planning our vacation menu. I get specific with what we’re having for each meal because when I’m camping I don’t want to be cooking or worrying about what we’re going to eat.

As for cooking equipment, this depends upon your camping shelter. Are you using an RV, 5th-wheel, camper, pop-up camper, tent, or just a hammock?

#3.2 Cooking in a tent

If you’re in a tent or hammock, you have more freedom to camp in places that don’t provide an electric and water service. This brings tremendous opportunity to camp in amazing, hard to reach, campsites with breathtaking views. Tent camping also forces you to simplify and to keep things simple the whole vacation. With that said, cook more comfortable in a tent by getting a titanium pot and a camp stove. The pot will serve you in many ways. You can almost cook anything in the pot. Plus it boils water when you don’t have a water filter. And, golly, if you’re in bear country or if you get lost, you can use the pan to bang on it and make some noise!

#3.4 Cooking in a camper

As with all the other types of camping shelters, I mentioned before you will most likely camp somewhere with an electrical hook-up and have access to water unless you’re ‘boon-docking. Boon-docking is where you aren’t hooked up to anything except maybe a solar panel.

Air Fryer on Amazon

If power is on your side, I’d suggest bringing a Crock-Pot or an air fryer.  Our 5th-Wheel has an over, but we use the air fryer instead. It’s cleaner, easier, and does things the oven can’t do. The air fryer’s capabilities give you more cooking options. The Crock-Pot comes in handy when you’ve had a full day and don’t want to cook when you get back to camp.  Gosh! Don’t forget the grill! We have one of the skillet grills that you can essentially cook anything on it, including pancakes. And, yes, still have a titanium pot on hand.

sloppy joes
Simple & Show-stopping Sloppy Joes

#3.6 Our 5 quick camping meals we like

Chicken salad. I pre-make this at home and serve it with grapes and chips.

Mac & cheese with brats, hot dogs, or salmon patties. A side of spinach or broccoli is usually served with this. It’s also tasty to put potato chip crumbs on your mac & cheese!

Sloppy Joes This is my favorite recipe. No mess, no fuss with the kids. I serve green beans, potato straws, or a store-bought salad on the side.

Pulled pork nachos. This is so yummy. I simply buy pre-cooked pulled pork (not the saucy kind), I then put a layer of corn chips, cheese (fake cheese in my case), the pork, and taco sauce. Pop them in the microwave then put fresh avocado and diced tomatoes on top. SO GOOD! Here’s a link to the recipe.

Burgers and sweet pot fries. We make the fries in our air-fryer. In fact, we’ve made the burgers in our fryer too! I add a side of spinach, green beans, broccoli, or grapes.

As for dessert, I either bring pudding and whip cream, homemade granola bars, stuff to make rice crispy treats, or premade cookie dough to bake a fresh batch. Of course, you have s’mores to fall back on. Heck, you could make cookie s’mores! Whaoza!

#3.8 Use the LapLander for comfortable eating

The LapLander Cushion is a must when it comes to eating in a camp chair. Simply place it on your lap and eat. This cushion has a non-slip strip that helps your paper plate stay in place on your lap. It’s like a placemat for your lap! You can also sit on it at the picnic table. Simple, but VERY helpful! This is seriously a game-changer. Go to Etsy to order. I handmake these myself!

LapLander camping
cushion picnic table

#4 Drinking water while camping

Berkey Gravity Fed Filter Click for details

There is no joke about drinking water. Clean water is a must no matter if you’re in the backcountry or in a fancy campground. Please bring a filter. If you’d had Guardia or some other illness from water, I know you wouldn’t leave home without one. Plus, dehydration is no joke.

For tent camping, we like the:  Sawyer filters

For our camper/5th-Wheel, we really enjoy the gravity-fed Berkey Water Filter you put on your counter or picnic table.

Of course, you can bring jugs of water, been there, done that, and frankly, that’s not fun. Jugs are heavy, and what if you run out of water? Now what?

Please do not drink from any body of water without first either boiling it to a roaring boil or putting it through a filter…note the titanium pot. Dehydration comes quickly if you get sick from bad water. The pot will seriously save your life.

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#5 Camping activities for kids

How to make camping comfortable with kids? It’s a great idea to have some activities on hand for foul weather. When the weather is super nice, activities come naturally. The park system has great ideas of where to go and what to explore, so use those services. But if it’s rainy or cold you can still have fun!

First off, it is okay and healthy for your kids to play outside even if the weather isn’t ideal. I remember playing in the rain all the time! Just be sure when they’re done to warm them up and get dry quickly, there is no time for hyperthermia.  

Bust out the board games. Here is a list of some of our favorite and top board games. This is something the whole family can enjoy and make memories with. If mom or dad needs a break from the littles, download my Camping Kit or Outdoor Activity Bundle before you leave. This will not only keep your kiddos busy, but if you get the bundle they’ll learn about trees, fireflies, and general nature. These activities actually help your child learn how to play outside!

If you have tweens who have a phone, they might have fun making trick-shot videos. My son did this video and was busy for hours! Here is a link to one of his videos while we were camping: David’s trick shot video.

outdoor activity kit
Download at my Etsy Shop

#6 Hygiene while camping

Hygiene when camping can be tricky, especially if you’re in a tent. How do you camp more comfortable in this department? It kind of depends on how long you’re going to be gone. If you’re gone for a weekend in a tent, you can probably wait to shower until you get home. If you’re in a campground that has showers, by all means, use them, but please wear flip-flops in the shower, trust me on this. And most campers have a shower, so do what you will.

pee bucket on Amazon

Going to the bathroom. Yep, we’re going there. With tent camping, you have three choices. The first choice is to walk to the bathroom if you’re in a campground. The number two option is to bring a pee bucket and pee in your tent with the bucket. I know it sounds gross, but if it’s storming outside, I’d rather pee in a bucket than hold it.

The last option is to go outside. For men, going outside is part of their nature, for women, it’s a bit more intimate with the ground and feet placement. I’ve heard of people hugging a tree and going, and others hover, yet my preferred method is to squat. Peeing outside will come naturally; you’ll learn how to aim and avoid your feet. Just don’t wipe with any kind of leaf, bring your own tissue and either put in a Ziploc or bury it when you’re done. My secret bathroom weapon that makes my camp more comfortable is the baby butt wipes, enough said.

#6.5 Ticks & Mosquitos

I’m not sure what the purpose of ticks and mosquitos is, but at least there are some species that eat them. How to keep ticks off you and how to stop mosquitos from biting you can be done with a few simple steps. First, bring your own bat and chicken to the campground, the bats will eat the mosquitos and the chickens will take care of the ticks. Now that would be a scene, wouldn’t it?

If you want to kill to two birds with one stone, grab your handy bug spray and spray on your clothes if you use DEET. Deet is a serious chemical, please use caution in using it. Spray it on your shoes and clothes only. Do not use it on the skin.

Tick Tips

Wear light clothing so you can spot the ticks easier. I can’t stress enough how much I dislike these bugs. It’s okay to have anxiety about this, I do! If you have a pet, protect them and yourselves by giving them their flea & tick medicine. Ticks can attach to your pup or outdoor cat VERY easily. Your pet can then bring them inside and then ticks can attach to YOU!

Get on Amazon

Tick season is April to October in most parts of the country. If you’re picnicking in the grass, hiking in the woods, or chasing your dog in the tall grass, please do a tick check every night before bed. Ticks like to hide by the hairline, near and behind ears, armpits, bellybuttons, the back of knees, in-between toes, and in the private areas. Look for little black dots.

If you have a tick on you, keep calm as much as you can. Carefully remove them with a Tick Twister or tweezers. Be sure not to squeeze the body, get as close to the head of the tick as possible and pull straight out. Be sure to wash the area with soap and water or rubbing alcohol. Put the tick in rubbing alcohol…this kills it. I recommend keeping the tick in a jar or freezer bag and putting it in the freezer…this is just in case you start to experience symptoms. While you’re at it, take a picture of it. The doctor can send the tick to the lab and test it for Lyme’s Disease.

Mosquito Tips

Mosquitos are more prevalent than ticks, at least where I live. They like that sweet blood. Stay away from eating bananas. I know it sounds weird, but there is something about bananas and mosquitos. Wear long-sleeve clothing and spray the good old bug spray.

Natural ways to consider are using lemon eucalyptus oil or spray. They also don’t like tea tree oil, lavender, and peppermint. Smoke from a campfire helps as do the Thermacell devices. Honestly, there are so many mosquito tips and tricks out there. Just be smart. Cover your skin, use spray you are comfortable with, and don’t eat bananas.

#7 Coffee!

There is nothing like a cup of hot coffee in the morning. For camping in a tent without electricity, use instant coffee. Just boil water in your titanium pot, pour in your cup, and mix. It certainly does the trick. Instant coffee has come a long way.

Camp more comfortable with your coffee in the camper. If you want to keep the mess at bay, simply spend the extra bucks and get a Keurig K-Slim. We tried the traditional coffee pot and the one-cup serving kind. Both worked, but we got tired of wet coffee grounds in the garbage and down the sink. Coffee grounds are hard to get out of the tank. We splurged and bought the small Keurig and use k-cups. Yes, it’s a little more expensive, but it’s a nice luxury while camping. If you’re peeing in a bucket, drink the good stuff.

Camping Comfortable Conclusion

Camping is meant to refresh and enjoy the outdoors, why not camp more comfortably? When you camp more comfortably, you’re likely to camp again. It’s not to cause stress or poison ivy on your butt. It’s a fact that trees help relieve stress and nurture the soul. Remember the great outdoors is good for the soul and mind alike. It’s those awesome sunsets, rainbows, thunderstorm clouds, and majestic scenery that attracts us to the wonderful creation God gave us to enjoy.

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

4 Simple Reduce Stress Strategies for You & Your Kids

4 Simple Reduce Stress Strategies for You & Your Kids

When we look at our children we can easily think they don’t have any stress. We might say, “What possibly could they be stressed out about?” Kids have stress, just like us. It might look different, but they do, and knowing how to relieve it can be confusing for them, even for us adults. No wonder stress is the #1 cause of illness and ailments. Reduce stress strategies are sure to help. You may be surprised at what you find out!

reduce stress strategies tress

Who is Stress?

Think of it this way, whenever we have something important to us get compromised or threatened, ‘Stress’ comes to visit. Let me refer to stress as a person for a second, Mr. Stress. When things don’t go according to our plan, Mr. Stress welcomes himself into our home. When there are projects and deadlines to be met Mr. Stress sees an opportunity to break-in and steal. Hear me out, projects and deadlines aren’t bad, they’re actually super good, what is bad are the distractions that keep us from achieving those goals. And it’s the distractions, when not managed well, that act as precursors to our foe, Mr. Stress.

Mr. Stress can cause memory issues, sore throats, and digestive tracts havoc to name a few. That’s only a few headaches he causes. What happens at this moment is that Mr. Stress wakes up a hormone in our body called cortisol. Cortisol is the ‘bad stress hormone’. So what do we do?

Awareness is critical

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Nobody can bring you peace but yourself.” The very first step to ignoring Mr. Stress is to be aware of his triggers. This year I was on a quest to destroy my cortisol feeders. Awareness helps us recognize the cord before it is struck. With awareness, we will then know what circumstance to avoid or to mentally prepare for. On a personal level, I needed to kick Mr. Stress out, so my plan was to simply pay attention to the little things, because the little things add up, and then do something about them. Be sure to check out this post on: How to Reduce Stress in Your Life: 10 Breakthrough Tips

outdoor activity kit
Download in my Etsy Shop!

4 discoveries that fed my killjoy

  • The step-counters. At first, I found it curious. But then it became an obsession. I had to reach my 10,000 steps or it wasn’t a good day. This equaled a DISTRACTION for me. My fix? I took it off and just made a mental note of how much I walked.
  • Social Media. “I’ll just check it”, then 45 minutes later I’m like “What just happened?” Another DISTRACTION. My fix?  I set a timer or don’t check it at all.
  • My purse. Wow, this was really stressing me out. My purse was awkward on my shoulder. It was too slippery…yes, slippery. Too HEAVY! Not organized. Weird zipper. I had no idea how much of a DISTRACTION my purse was. My fix? I changed my purse.
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  • Paper Clutter. I enjoy a clean countertop. What took up the most real estate on my counter was paper. Junk mail, receipts, sticky notes, magazines, old homework, sale ads, and newspapers were piling up. This was not only a DISTRACTION but a stress bomb. My fix? I got a recycle bin and an organization station.
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Tasks are done, stress is gone, or is it?

When the big “tasks” are complete, cortisol levels go back to normal. Everything is fine, right? Not necessarily. Think of a wave approaching the shore. When a wave breaks how does it hit the beach? It crashes. Sand and shells stir and water splashes. It takes time for the water to settle and be calm. Like an ocean, the wave of cortisol might be gone, but our bodies take a lot longer to recover. How do we fix this?

teen planner
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4 reduce stress strategies

1. Set a daily routine. 

Routines help reduce anxiety, we sleep better, and we are more productive. Let your kids write down what they would like their routine to look like. You can compromise with them to give them a little responsibility and to show trust. Here is a guide to help you and your child achieve their daily goals!

step by step guide
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2. Make a daily to-do list

‘daily to-do list’ that includes errands and simple things like laundry and walking the dog helps your kid have purpose and importance. Having a to-do list is another great habit to teach your kids. It helps them see what they need to do, and then feel that amazing gratification when it’s time to cross it off the list!

3. Reduce Stress Strategies: Get outside

Getting outside every day for at least 20 minutes does wonders for our mental wellbeing. This is harder for us parents, but it teaches our kids that nature is their friend. As a parent, force yourself to get outside, even better you’re your kids. Show them how important it is to connect with nature.

4. Know what’s going in their minds

Cut out (as much as possible) disturbing TV shows and movies, even the news. We know bad stuff is out there, but we don’t need to be reminded of it day and night. News especially freaks kids out. A friend of mine loves the news, however, she had it on all day. She also has two kids who were around the news. As time went on, the kids got afraid to go outside and play.

Reduce stress strategies come to play with what’s on the screen. A big tip is for our kiddos to watch what is right for their maturity level. For our kiddos and TV shows, be wise with what they watch. Their brains aren’t developed to determine what is real or fake. Even if you say, it’s fake, seeing is believing. So unless you can show them how they make movies, keep to the ‘G’ or ‘PG’ ratings, and turn the news off!

Wrapping up reduce stress strategies

Putting into practice the right reduce stress strategies takes time. You need to get to know yourself and your kids on a personal level. What makes you/them tick? Taking charge of your stress needs awareness and self-discipline. You got this. Here’s another post about stress you may find helpful: 5 Stress Fighters That Most People Forget About

By CT Copyright © 2022 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved.

Stress Free Moving: 2 Critical Steps

Stress Free Moving: 2 Critical Steps

Stress free moving sounds amazing and IS possible, the trick is to know what stresses you out and beat it at its own game. Moving is one of the biggest stress events in someone’s life. It’s no small task whether you’re moving down the street or across the country; there is nothing easy about moving. And when things get hard, stress is sure to surface. I recently moved and was caught off guard. For some reason, in my mind, I thought moving was a matter of taking our stuff from one place to another, simple, right? Yet, moving is so much more than that. Learn what creates stress when moving and what I did to relieve it.  

The #1 thing you must do for stress free moving

This post isn’t about packing boxes or creating piles of “keep”, “donate”, “recycle”, or “pitch”. Let’s imagine that the boxes and furniture are dropped off at the new house. You have packed up your old house and are now in the new home. At this moment in time, your mind is swirling: I need to make the bed, clean the toilets, wash down the kitchen, change the address, set up the internet, grocery shop, get the kid’s rooms figured out, etc. However, if you’re like me, the very first thing my mind gravitates towards is getting the environment functional so I can accomplish all these jobs and get organized. In other words, if my “workspace” isn’t pleasant, I won’t be pleasant.

Step 1 in stress free moving: Home Odor 101

Satisfy the nose. This is the air you breathe! What does your new home smell like? Are you happy with that? If not, what can you do right now to fix it?

The smell in our new home was not good. I said goodbye to stress free moving because the smell was driving me nuts! The home is 19 years old, as you know with age comes odor. The first thing my nosed grabbed was the numerous scented candles the previous owner lit. I actually asked her about all the candles when we walked through the house for the first time, and she told me she was stressed and candles calmed her. Well, she certainly was stressed a lot, and come to find out, I think the house stressed her out!

Most of the time scented candles smell good, but when you get too much of a good thing, nothing is good. Yes, candles can help the house smell better in the short term, but it’s just masking the real problem. Hence, there was a smell in the basement, which gave me a sense that mold was present.

step by step guide
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HOW TO FIX THE SMELLS

There were a few things we did to fix the smell issue in our new home. For the candle smell, we ended up painting the walls and getting new carpet. I know painting and new carpet isn’t something we all can do right away, but a good wash of the walls and a carpet clean will help! You can rent carpet cleaners if you want to do it yourself.

As for the basement and the musty/mold smell. We hired a mold guy who found the mold right away. Please note; bleach is not going to kill all molds, you can actually make it worse. Hire a professional. The other thing we did to help with the home odor was get a dehumidifier. This helps prevent mold from growing and aids the musty smell. In addition, I placed bowls of baking soda around the basement. After all that, the smell is gone! You can also try new charcoal briquettes. The fresh charcoal will absorb the odors. Take an empty coffee can or decorative container and fill it up with the new briquettes. Change them out every so often.

Step 2 in stress free moving: Good Drinking Water

This may sound simple but how to move stress free is to get your water working for you. Normally, I wouldn’t talk about this because we never had a problem before, but since we did this time, I felt I should address it. We moved from city water to well water. I was not prepared for the challenge of drinking water. Thankfully we were involved with heavy iron content, in which we would need an iron curtain. However, the new home has a water softener; this was something we were not used to. Drinking softened water is not my thing; my body clearly told me to stop. So now what?

To keep a long story short, after I tried many options including bottled water and various water filters, we ended up filtering the well water twice for our drinking water and I love it!  I have a post on this if you want to learn more about how we did it, you can find it here.

seeds you plant
Download this quote and print. Instant wall art!

6 Bonus steps I don’t want you to forget

Since recently going through this experience I didn’t want you to forget about a few small things that make a BIG difference in moving stress free. Here are an additional 6 items you want to pay attention to.

1. Kitchen cabinets – be aware!

Other issues in a home you should keep your eye on are the kitchen cabinets. Are they sticky? Do they have handles? Do they slam? A quick fix for us was a good scrubbing with Dawn Dish Soap and putting soft pads on the doors so they didn’t slam. We still don’t have handles, but we can easily add those later. If you’re handy you can install a soft-close on the cabinet door. The kitchen clearly stressed me out.

2. Lighting

Be aware of the lighting. Where are the dark spaces? LED light bulbs or LED lights do the trick. Again, these are quick fixes until you get your more permanent plan. In a pickle? Grab a box of string lights and have fun with them. String lights also lighten the load and can reduce stress!

3. Cleaning

Clean everything. Everything should get cleaned unless you want to live with the previous owner’s dead skin cells. This includes the windows and the sills. If you can clean before you move in this would be ideal. If you can’t clean, hire it out or clean after you move. I know cleaning the house is not fun, but get a jumpstart on your housecleaning from the get-go!

4. Change the filters

Make sure you change the furnace filter and clean out the dryer. Change the refrigerator filter while you’re at it, then you know how long you have until it needs to be changed again. Please check the batteries on the smoke detectors.

5. Window coverings

A good clean of the blinds or drapes would be recommended if you have them. If you don’t have window coverings, do you want blinds or curtains? We lived in our house without window coverings for a good three months before we decided on curtains. Please note, we moved to the country.

One more thing about window coverings, natural light does wonders for your mental wellbeing. Don’t be afraid to open the shades during the day and allow light to come in. You can learn more about natural light in my post: How to Have a Happy Family: 3 Revolutionary Steps

6. Find your space. This is SUPER important!

One last critical step to how to move stress free is to find your space. This may sound silly, but everyone needs to find their private space in their home. This is a place where you can go and be yourself without judgment. For instance, I have a little room in the basement where I write my blogs and create my Etsy products. It’s a little messy but organized in my mind. It is my playground, where I can be without having to think about toys, order, and other house details.  Be sure to set boundaries so you can have some time for yourself and relax.

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Wrapping it up

Moving stress free is possible. When I move again the 3 things I would do differently is to have the mold guy come before we moved our stuff in. The second step would be to check the water. If I have the time, I would for sure take the time to clean the new empty house before unloading our stuff. Moving isn’t my first rodeo. I have moved at least 10 times in my life, however, this move was by far the most stressful!

Remember, you don’t have to change everything at once. This was hard for me to do in this stressful house. Be strong and live in the house for a while. Pay attention to your patterns. When it’s time, put your own spin on your new home. And don’t forget to introduce yourself to the neighbors. Enjoy your new space!

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By CT Copyright © 2022 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.
Food Combining Does What? Manage stomach acid now!

Food Combining Does What? Manage stomach acid now!

Tired, bloated, indigestion after you eat? Let me fill you in on a little secret, it probably has something to do with food combining. Our stomach is known for acid. Stomach acid, along with the help of enzymes, helps break down food. Not only that but it actually helps support the body in absorbing protein and vitamin B-12, which we only get from protein (meat). In this post, you’ll find tips on how to feel better and get more bang for your nutrition buck! How to reduce stomach acid, how to increase stomach acid, how to test which one you have, and why food combining has a lot to do with stomach acid is in this post. Plus! You can download my free easy to understand food combining chart!

Let’s jump into the stomach.

If you have high levels of stomach acid you’re probably experiencing one of these symptoms: acid reflux, burping, or you may even feel nauseated. If you have too little stomach acid you may feel bloated, experience diarrhea or constipation, have food intolerances, osteoporosis, leaky gut, malnutrition, and heartburn. It’s kind of confusing, eh?

If you have either too high or too low of stomach acid it puts stress on the digestive system which can lead to further problems down the road, for instance, if you have heartburn (GERDS) and don’t pay attention to it, it can cause permanent damage to the esophagus and upping your chances of precancerous cells. If the stomach acid is too low and left untreated it can lead to hair loss, GI infections, anemia, lupus, allergies, chronic autoimmune disorders, and thyroid issues to name a few. Yikes!

how to manage stomach acid

How do you know if you have high or low stomach acid?

First off, I’m not a doctor, nor am I trying to be. I share the information I have either experienced myself or am extremely interested in. I keep things simple and give you the nutshell version of what I’ve learned. *Consult your physician before jumping into new things.*

There are a number of things you can do to figure this out:

1) You could visit your doctor and have them order a test. Most likely it will be a CBC (complete blood count) and CMP (comprehensive metabolic panel). From the test they’ll look at a variety of factors, some include iron and phosphorous levels.

2) The other test is the Heidelberg Stomach Acid Test, this test requires fasting for 12 hours and swallowing a tiny electronic capsule. You will need to drink a baking soda solution and then the capsule will record how long it takes your stomach to restore normal acidity levels. Cool!

3) If you don’t like doctors or want to spend the extra cash, there is a simple at-home test is called the Baking Soda Acid Test. The accuracy of this test is not 100%, so it’s best to do this test regularly to get a better idea of where you are on stomach acid.

Here’s how to do it: Mix ¼ tsp of baking soda in four ounces of water. In the morning before you eat or drink anything else, drink the concoction. Next, start your timer on your phone and time how long it takes to burp. If it takes more than five minutes or you experience no burp at all, it’s a sign of low stomach acid.

IBD Triggers

Tips on how to reduce gastric juice:

1) Understand what food combinations cause high acidity. See my chart on freebies.

2) Eat smaller meals. Overeating can put pressure on the esophageal sphincter, which causes it to open and leak acid into your esophagus.

3) Try a low-carb diet. When our system can’t digest carbs well, we get gassy and bloated, which then leads to GERD. Numerous studies support this idea. Looking into amylase, a digestive enzyme that helps break down carbs may significantly help you when you can’t say no.

4) Limit the guilty pleasures of caffeine and alcohol. The alcohol relaxes the esophageal sphincter and the caffeine weakens the sphincter. They basically have the same effects on the sphincter. Try decaf coffee instead, that’s what I do and my body has adjusted well after the caffeine withdrawal ended.

5) Chew gum. This helps increase saliva production and helps clear the esophagus of stomach acid. It helps with symptoms but doesn’t solve the root cause. No wonder my son loves gum!

6) Cut back on carbonated drinks and citrus juice. Again both of these kinds of beverages weaken the esophageal sphincter.

7) Mint is a no-go. Mint chocolate-chip ice cream should take a backseat if you experience symptoms. This refreshing herb is so relaxing that it too relaxes the sphincter. Peppermint tea, peppermint chocolate or candies, and peppermint-flavored gum have the potential to fire back, literally up your esophagus.

Some other tips to help alleviate symptoms are not eating too close to bedtime, elevating your head while sleeping, and avoiding laying on your RIGHT side. These tactics help calm the acid and keep that pesky sphincter closed!

banana fact

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4 little ways to increase low stomach acid at home

1) I wouldn’t hit the meat & potatoes to fix your low stomach acid, instead, take a shot of Apple Cider Vinegar that includes the Mother. This is an easy way to help your stomach acid get ready to work before a meal. Mix one tablespoon of the vinegar in water and drink before a meal.

2) Like honey? Try Manuka Honey. This honey comes from New Zealand and has amazing antimicrobial properties. It helps with IBS, indigestion, stomach ulcer prevention, oral health, and like most honey, helps with wound healing and sore throats. Get more details on Manuka Honey here.

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3) Chew. “Chew, chew, chew.” When we’re hungry, we tend to eat fast and take big bites! It’s like a welcome mat for a stuck burp. Chew every bite so it turns into mush. There is no need to eat your food fast. Simply use a smaller fork to help with bite-size.

4) Digestive enzymes also do the trick. Unfortunately, the first time I tried these they gave me diarrhea. They can actually cause constipation in some people too. But don’t let this discourage you. Digestive enzymes play an important role in vitamin and nutrient absorption. As you age or if you have a digestive disorder, or have pancreas issues, your enzymes deplete and lead to uncomfortable symptoms. For instance, one sign is a change in bowels and/or seeing undigested food in your stool. Yes, you should look at your poop! So before I completely gave up on digestive enzymes, I gave them another try. This time I played with the dose. Instead of a whole pill before a meal, I only took a pinch and it worked a lot better. After your body gets used to them you can move forward from there.

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What are digestive enzymes?

In a nutshell, there are three main types of digestive enzymes: proteases, lipases, and amylases. Here is a list of the enzymes and what they do. Helpful Hint: Pancreatic enzyme names usually end in “-in” (like trypsin or pepsin), while other digestive enzymes usually end in “-ase” or “-ose” (like lactose, sucrose, fructose).

The trick for making digestive enzymes work for you is to first determine if you are a candidate for supplementation. Know your body, pay attention to how it reacts after you eat. Are you burping, bloated, having to run the bathroom, heartburn, stinky gas and a lot of it, or cramping?

The next step is to determine what kind of enzyme you need. Asking your doctor, a nutritionist, or a functional medicine doc for their recommendations is the way to go. Just note the FDA does not regulate digestive enzymes, so everyone will have their own opinion, but you know your body best. You want clear ingredients from a reputable manufacturer.

Third, you’ll have to experiment to find the right dose. Remember this post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. I’m not a doctor. Seek advice from a qualified health provider before trying something new. This post is to help you investigate how to help heal your body and ask the right questions to your healthcare provider.

digestive enzymes list

Stress can increase stomach acid?

Does stress increase stomach acid? That’s a great question. The answer is debatable but most likely. Stress affects our muscles, our immune systems, and our minds. All of those things work together to keep our bodies functioning. When one is off, it affects the other. If your muscles are tight around the stomach, it might push your stomach contents around and increase pressure. It doesn’t hurt to manage stress. For managing stress you’ll want to check out this post: How to Reduce Stress in your Life: 10 Breakthrough Tips.

Food Combining 101

Back to Food Combining. Yes combining food makes a difference with stomach acid. Food combining gives you a little bit of control. When certain foods are put together they can either wreak havoc on your stomach or can give you energy. For instance, the classic steak n potato with melted butter, well it’s going to spoil in your stomach. You will most likely have bloating, stinky ‘wind’, and indigestion. This combo could also contribute to weight gain. And the melon salad with grilled chicken, well that’s going to do the same thing. This is not to confuse you, it’s just the opposite.

Keeping a diet with a few simple rules will reap benefits in the short and long term. I made a simple, easy-to-understand food combining chart to help regulate your stomach acid. In my kitchen, I tape it to the inside of one of my cupboards. Don’t forget to head to Freebies to download yours today. All in all, remember to eat fruit alone on an empty stomach and only eat proteins with non-starchy vegetables. We’ve covered A LOT of information. Keep this post handy to reference for a quick guide.

Let’s end on a yummy note. Here’s a recipe to get you thinking in a low-acid direction: Better Belly Steak Dinner.

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

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