As a child, one of my favorite activities was to play dress-up. Dressing up doesn’t just pertain to Halloween costumes. As an adult dress-up plays a big role in our overall success, did you know that? Have you ever tried mowing the lawn in a business suit? How about swimming in blue jeans? I’ll give you the top 5 benefits of dress-up for both kids and adults and why you should think about what to wear.
My recent dress-up play
One of my dreams as a kid was to have a Little House on the Prairie kind of life. Wearing the clothes and doing basic chores in them sounded so fun to me. I know that might sound silly, but those dresses were so pretty and full! At the time I wrote this post, I lived in a suburb with a small yard. My neighbors were about 12 feet away on both sides of our house, but we still had a garden.
After a fried day to the brain, I wanted to do something different to spark my imagination and escape the 21st Century so-to-speak. I wanted to play dress-up. To the bottom of my dresser drawer I went and pulled my big long skirt out. This skirt wasn’t a prairie skirt as I have dreams but it was as close to one as I could get without spending money. It was dark teal with scattered blue sequents, and lime green lace and ribbon. My imagination had to work hard for it to be what Ma wore in Little House on the Prairie.
Dress-up gone wrong!
I slipped on the skirt and headed to the garden to do chores. It was fun walking to the garden, but gardening in this thing was not what I imagined. The garden was full of weeds and I only had a short amount of time before I had to get my son from school. In other words, my ‘playtime’ immediately went to ‘work time’.
In case you didn’t know, wearing a long skirt while gardening is not the smartest move. I don’t know how they did it in those days, but it was pure misery. Weeds poked my bum and little bugs crawled up my legs! Needless to say, I didn’t want to get my fun skirt dirty. My escape to Walnut Grove turned into a stress ball. Back to the house I stomped, I even stepped on my skirt and about pulled it off. Arg! I threw my fun skirt on the floor and pulled on my garden pants. Back to the garden I went, sat down in the dirt, and weeded the rest of the garden in half the time.
What I learned
What I learned from my dress-up play is that I needed to decide if I wanted to play or work. If it’s to play, “practical” is not invited. But if it’s to work, you gotta adjust your attire and put functionality to use.
As soon as I changed into the pants I don’t care about, the garden was weeded efficiently and quickly without any bug interruptions! All in all dressing the part will give you a leg up on the performance end.
Top 5 Benefits of Dress-up
1. Builds Confidence
Confidence. We all want it, we all need it. Why? Because people are depending on us to make things happen. Things usually don’t happen unless we have confidence in doing the task at hand. Playing dress-up gives us permission to move forward and boosts our confidence in looking the part.
The more confident you feel in your clothes
the more you’ll achieve.
For instance; dressing the part tells your mind to do that specific activity well. If I’m mowing the lawn in my work suit, I’m going to hurry up and do a bad job because I don’t want my suit to smell like mower exhaust. And if I’m swimming in jeans…let’s just say I would probably drown. I know these are off-the-wall examples, but I’ve seen people do them. Not only did they look miserable, but the guy mowing the lawn looked out-of-place. To read more about confidence, check out this post: 5 Easy Ways to Build Courage & Confidence.
2. Improves Brain Function
Dressing the part or playing dress-up engages our mind and triggers our memory. If we saw a coworker do an epic presentation and noticed their outfit, we too want that feeling of awesomeness when we do our presentation, so what do we do? We dress up as they did.
If we saw our mom make an amazing meal while wearing an apron, we too would want to wear an apron. How about dad working in the yard with his work gloves and ballcap?
Wearing clothes that correlate to the job we’re trying to perform, puts us in the mode of doing a good job in that particular role. It gives us more confidence and freedom to act the part out, hence stimulating our brain to think as they do. When we dress like the character, we start to think like the character.
3. Fake it til you make it.
Dressing the part gives you permission to be that person. Have you heard the saying, “Fake it til you make it?” Sure you have! And you have every right to do so. You’ll learn more and more about that role until you know how to do it. Especially so if you are around people in that particular role.
4. Challenges your skills
What does a uniform say? It says I’m an expert, I have the answers. When you, let’s say, start a new job or your going to a trade show, your company wants you to wear their logo. They are asking you to represent them, which says you need to know the answers. Another example is at the store. You have a question, who do you seek for answers? Someone in uniform. When you wear the vest or logo, you have a responsibility if you want a paycheck. Dressing the part challenges you to learn as much as possible to answer questions. In return, knowing the answers makes your job a lot more fun and rewarding. It becomes easy and builds confidence.
5. It’s fun.
Putting some fun in your work can start in your closet or accessories drawer. Wearing fun bracelets, rings, or scarves really do make a difference in enjoyment. Even nail polish can lift our moods. Dressing the part or playing dress-up is fun! When you have pep-in-your-step you’re happier, more productive, and people notice.
Isn’t just for kids
Playing dress-up isn’t just for kids, or for Halloween, adults will benefit from it too. We don’t have to dress up in our old prom dress or as a frontier woman to reap the benefits of dress-up, we can make subtle additions that can have a magical impact.
Subtle dress-up ideas:
Wear a fun apron when you cook or even clean. The apron gives you confidence in making a mess! Who cares if you wipe flour on your apron or splash cleaner on it, it’s an apron! It’s simply doing its job. Check out this super cute apron.
When working outside in the yard wear work gloves and “garden pants”.
Working-out? Dress for success. Pitch the cut-off sweats and homemade tanks, and pull on the performance wear.
Home from work? Immediately change out of your work clothes into something more relaxed.
Dress for the weather…need I say more?
All in all
May you get the most out of your outfits. Dress for any occasion, you will have more fun, you’ll feel better, have more confidence, and you might learn a thing or two.
How to comfort hurting people can be confusing, so much so, that we end up doing nothing. Doing nothing isn’t the answer. We weren’t put on this planet to go through hardship alone. Let’s pull up our boot straps, open our heart and our arms for those who need to lean on someone. Learn my 6 simple ways to know how to comfort hurting people.
Step #1 with how to comfort hurting people: awareness
I admire people who can share openly what’s going on in their life; I’m not talking about people boasting about themselves, I’m talking about people who genuinely reach out for help. Why? Because it makes me feel human and gives me a chance to help in some way or form.
It takes courage, confidence, and bravery to open up and expose our hearts to the world. As I said earlier, we weren’t made to go through storms alone, so why do we try to keep it quiet and pretend everything is “fine”? Pretending is going to help people heal; it’s just going to cause more issues down the road.
When a friend needs comfort online
Recently, an old high school classmate of mine was going through a difficult situation. She had a choice; keep it to herself or share it. She chose to share it on social media, not for sympathy or attention, but because she needed help getting through the storm. I admire her for putting her stuff out there, especially on social media where 90% of the posts are only good things that happen in people’s lives.
My heart went out to her and her family. I knew I wanted to respond but I didn’t know what to say so I thought about it and responded to her the next day. She felt alone, you could read it even though she didn’t say it. And that struck a chord in me. Whether it was emotions, hormones, the Holy Spirit, or a soul connection, I started weeping for her broken and confused heart.
I thought back to my storm I endured years ago in my personal life, and how alone I felt. From experience, I knew the best thing I could do for her was to reach out to her, pray for her, and give her a promise that I would. Prayer really does change things, and just knowing that other people are praying for you helps you put more trust and confidence in the Lord.
I believe my friend posting the updates about her situation was meant to not only keep everyone informed but for her to know who was sitting by her.
When a neighbor needs a little comfort
“As soon as you start thinking about the needs and burdens of others, and what you can do to alleviate them, or how you can bless and build up others, you begin to establish a new identity for yourself – your true identity.” –Matthew Barnett, The Cause Within You.
A while back I was talking with my neighbor. It started out as a friendly wave across the street, then she started walking toward me. I was in a hurry but knew I had to adjust my plans. She had to get a load off her shoulders and I understood the importance of a listening ear. She needed comfort in knowing someone would listen to her.
After she was finished she looked really exhausted. Knowing what to say to comfort her was hard. I thought about suggesting ideas for solutions, but she didn’t ask for a solution so I just listened and told her I was really sorry she was going through all of this. She didn’t want advice, she just wanted to be heard.
6 ideas to comfort hurting people:
Send them a card in the mail
Pray for them
Just let them know you’re thinking about them
Listen to them
Step #2: put yourself in their shoes
The next morning I tried to put myself in my neighbor’s shoes and asked myself if I were feeling down, what would make me feel a little bit better? This is so incrediably important and powerful. In fact, you can live with this perspective with whomever you encounter throughout your day.
Buying something for my neighbor is what I wanted to do. A gift in delicate situations doesn’t have to be big or super expensive, it’s to bring them comfort and to remind them that people are thinking of them. On this particular day, I didn’t have any flowers in my garden, so I sent to the store and picked out all sorts of colorful carnations. They are inexpensive but have a lot to say. So if you’re on a budget go for the carnations.
When I got home, I arranged the flowers in a mason jar and went over to her house. A soft knock on her door was all I did and she opened it immediately. I handed her the flowers and said, “Just thought you could use these.” No other words were spoken, yet her eyes got glossy. She kindly said thank you and I left.
Wrapping up how to comfort hurting people
Comforting hurting people doesn’t have to awkward, it doesn’t need to be confusing, or worse ignored. Tough stuff is tough. Remember the two steps: be aware of what’s going on, and put yourself in their shoes. When you know the person well, you will know exactly what to do. Yet, if it’s an aquantiance, a simple jester of a card, flowers, or even a heart emoji will do. Keep your ears on them, shut your mouth, and allow them to process and heal in their own time.
Some people are born smart, others learn how to be smart. Being smart isn’t an amazing test score, that just says you can take a test. Being smart is how to navigate through this world with the intent of making it a better place. We are reminded of stories of people who become self-made millionaires with only a high school diploma. How to be smart has nothing to do with your GPA. But it does have to do with skill and navigation, not to mention aligning your passion with your work. So how do we learn this and how do we teach our young children?
How to be smart
A skill every child and adult can develop is how to learn to be aware of their surroundings. We are naturally born with instinct; however, if you really want to succeed in life, you must learn how to pay attention. With phones, electronics, and puberty, learning how to pay attention is hard for a kid. It’s also frustrating for a parent!
This life lesson of being aware of our surroundings can enhance our ability to succeed in communication, life skills, and survival in many different situations. I’ll teach you how to help your child and yourself become more aware of using your eyes and ears and how sight and sound play an important part in how to be smart.
A fun way to get started
“Shh…walk softly on the dock, we don’t want to scare the fish,” my dad instructed. It was a summer morning. The lake was like glass, not a movement of the wind. Today, at seven years old, I was going to learn how to fish. And the most important fish skill of all: awareness. Some fishermen would argue with me and say patience or the type of bait is more important, but truly it comes down to paying attention. For instance; how do you know what bait to use? How do you know where to fish? Because you are aware of how the fish responds.
We got into our boat, started the motor, and trolled to our fishing spot. My dad whispered instructions on how to bait the hook. He showed me how to adjust the bobber, and he demonstrated how to be quiet watching for signs of a hungry fish.
I wasn’t just learning how to fish; I was learning how to become more aware of my surroundings.
What exactly does it mean to “be aware”?
Wikipedia explains it like this: Awareness is the ability to directly know and perceive, to feel, or to be conscious of events, objects, thoughts, emotions, or sensory patterns.
As the world drives to go faster, it’s hard to take it all in, but knowing what to look for can make you a heck of a lot smarter than others around you. The trap we get ourselves into is that we get so focused on our to-do lists, phones, and work that we forget to stop and look around to see what’s happening in our relationships, our children, and our overall path in life. And we wonder why nothing is changing.
There were two major events that helped me understand how important it was to be aware of my surroundings. One was fishing. The other was when I endured a rare sickness.
How being sick helped me
How to be smart doesn’t always come naturally; it is a skill that can be learned. When I was pregnant with my son I had a rare pregnancy disease that robbed me of energy, joy, and time. My body suffered, so much so, the tiniest movements made me vomit. For months on end, I was nauseous, weak, and dumbfounded that this was happening to me. Not only that but my body was snatched of nutrients and vitamins, so much so, my body was actually eating itself. Have you ever heard of muscle wasting? That’s when your body eats itself because you’re not getting enough nutrition from food…in which food wasn’t staying down. It was extremely difficult for others to understand what I was going through, especially if they had been pregnant before without having issues. Just remember everybody is not the same.
However, this is how my sickness helped me. While going through this torturing sickness I noticed the love and compassion of others. Never had I paid attention to it before because I wasn’t the receiver of it. My awareness of how powerful a card was, how impactful a visit was, how humbling a listening ear was, and how a small smile from a stranger made me feel gave me joy, it gave me hope, and it taught me what really matters in this world.
Not only that, but I also became more aware of the power and reality of spiritual presence. My faith grew stronger every day I suffered; I became more aware of His grace and protection. But I had to seek Him to get it. If I hadn’t endured this suffering my eyes would have missed these little gems of light in our broken world.
How to be smart with your eyes and ears
Open your eyes
You probably were thinking you’d get a list of sudoku puzzles or crossword puzzles to make you smarter, yes those games will exercise your brain, but they don’t teach you how to love or sense that others around you are dying for a “hello”. With that said, open your eyes and learn how to look for things. This can help your kids and your teens for that matter.
The simple exercise helps us to pay attention to even the smallest details. Do you know those “Hidden Picture” games in kid magazines? Or the Where’s Waldo books? These games are great exercises for enhancing our skills of paying attention. I would qualify myself as a Master Finder, not only in these games but in finding things around the house and in the store. Having the challenge to find something gets me going. This may sound silly and childish, but these games work at helping you become smarter.
Lately, my tween son is in that phase of asking me where everything is. My answer varies from, “It’s your responsibility to keep track of your own stuff” to “If you can’t find it, you can’t have it.” When in fact the item he is looking for is literally right in front of his face. I’m not trying to be mean by not helping him find it, I’m trying to teach him the skill of looking, to be aware.
How to be smart at finding things
Tip #1: when finding certain objects whether it be inside or outside is to look for a piece of the object, not just the whole thing. Rarely is the entire object going to be visible? Look for a part of it. This technique works for fishing and hunting too.
Tip #2:envision yourself finding it. What reaction will you have? Will you pause and whisper to yourself that you found it or will you yell in excitement? Visualize yourself finding the object.
Tip #3: Lastly, but firstly, pray to God in helping you find whatever it is that you’re looking for. He knows exactly where it is, so why not ask him to help you find it? Most importantly, listen for his ques and hints of where to look.
Seriously these tips work. And it not only applies to finding objects, but it helps you to know how to look for things or pick up on cues from others. It’s all in the details.
Use your ears
Like using your eyes, use your ears too. Ears come in handy when it’s dark or when you’re lost in the woods. I know this is obvious and basic, but life is fast and there are some things we just plain forget to tell our children. Have you heard the lesson about listening for the road when you’re lost in the woods? How about listening for a car coming when you’re riding your bike on the road?
When talking with others, listening is key in becoming smarter. In fact, if you shut your mouth and let the other person talk, you’re already smart. People who talk a lot generally have lower self-esteem. Just know that gives you an understanding and a direction in how to navigate the conversation. While you’re listening to others talk, ask them questions, be curious, they obviously need something, and having you listen to them is just what they might need. This, folks, is smart. Help your friend get out what they need to and help them come to their own conclusion in solving their problem.
“Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. When we listen with curiosity, we don’t listen with the intent to reply. We listen for what’s behind the words.”
― Roy T. Bennett
Tips with listening
Tip #1: If you’re in a strange place, unplug the earbuds. Pay attention to the sounds around you.
Tip #2: If you’re having a conversation with someone, listen to what they’re trying to tell you. There is more behind the words they say. Like when I was enduring the sickness. People understood that what I was really telling them was that I felt alone and needed comfort. Be aware of what they’re really trying to say, then act on it.
Tip #3: As in fishing or hunting, use your ears for clues of where they are. Is there a splash in the water? Are there leaves rustling or twigs snapping?
Wrapping this all up
Be aware of the peace that is offered daily by nature, the kindness that is freely given by others, and the small blessings that are awarded without reason. This, my friends, is how to be smart. I encourage you to stop and look around; for I know you’ll be amazed by what you see and find and to build this skill as much as possible, for it will help you in more ways than one.
There have been recent conversations in our home about what it means to ‘work hard’. Different generations have different definitions, and I get that, but I think we can all agree that hard work takes four things: integrity, sweat, humility, and sacrifice. In this post, you’ll learn 4 tips on how to work hard.
When I put an image of a hard worker in my head, I picture the Brawny Man in the red flannel shirt with sleeves rolled up. Another picture is Pa from Little House on the Prairie; again he had his sleeves rolled up. Why do I associate rolled sleeves with hard work? It seems I’m not the only one. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, roll-up-your-sleeves signifies a person is ready to work.
Are your kids missing out?
When I was a teen I was taught to work first, then play. I also was taught that having a job was important and that you had to work for what you wanted. There has been a lot of chatter about different generations not knowing how to work hard. This is concerning because there is a lot of happiness and gratification in putting in a hard day’s work! When it comes to knowing how to work hard, think of mental health management.
Working hard gives me pleasure. I feel good about myself and I love the feeling of accomplishing something. At the end of the day, I can say with a smile on my face, “I put in a hard day’s work!” But are some generations missing out on this natural high?
In a study by Vanderbilt scientists, they discovered that people who were willing to work hard had higher dopamine levels than those who were not keen on the idea. Remember dopamine is a neurotransmitter that makes us feel happy and good. In other words…a University of Connecticut researcher, John Salamone states, “Low levels of dopamine make people…less likely to work for things. So this work-hard-bit has to do with your brain.
Teach how to work hard: 4 Tips
Make realistic attainable goals.
This is a small example; my young son was shooting hoops. He wants to be a great basketball player, so I said he couldn’t come in for dinner until he made 5 shots in a row from where he was standing. I gave him a realistic goal, one that challenged him, and one that would give him great pleasure. So what happened when he made his goal? He jumped up and down and cheered! But along with a goal plan, know what trips you up. Learn more about how to get unstuck. Need a little help in making goals? Check out my free printable on how to make attainable goals in Freebies.
Focus on your dreams. What drives you?
If you want it bad enough, you’ll naturally work hard to get it. How bad do you want “it”? That diploma, that promotion, that certification, that house, that small business, that weight loss? Ask yourself what motivates you. Believe in yourself that you can make it happen. Reach for the courage and confidence that will help you to keep moving forward. First and foremost, learn more about yourself, when you understand a little bit more about who you are, and what you identify with, then being motivated is a lot easier.
Exercise and eat healthy foods.
Getting your body and brain in a healthier state is an amazing way to perform and to know how to work hard. When you feel good, you do better…in everything. A healthy body and a clear mind will give you more confidence, wisdom in decision-making, more energy, and you will have more creativity. It’s not just weight loss, but it’s eating a cleaner diet, getting to know Jesus, and feeding your mind with positive things. You are in control of what you put into your body and mind, you have the ability to heal, to exercise, and work hard on the things that matter to you. Reduce stress in your life and get your vessel, the only one you get, ready to make things happen. Be strong and keep moving forward!
Simply having strong moral principles, being honest, knowing what is right from wrong, and following through with commitments will help you live an amazing life. It’s hard work to have integrity, but when you do the right thing you again trigger the dopamine. Keep your promises, it will pay off.
Wrapping up how to work hard
Let’s hold each other accountable to use our talents, gifts, abilities, and morals to work hard, make a difference, be driven to be part of the bigger picture. My hope is that you take these four tips and weave them into the lesson of how to work hard. Oh yeah, and don’t forget to roll up your sleeves.
Want super powers? I’ve got 5 ways to feel like Wonder Woman. You’re not going to want to miss this. PLUS! You get an amazing gluten-free chocolate chip cookie recipe!
The setting, can you relate?
Tears streamed down my cheeks. “Dear God, how am I going to do this? I have too much going on…too many hats to wear: Christmas shopper, decorator, home manager, wife, mom, personal banker, blogger, volunteer, and now a student?”
I enjoy these many hats, I really do! But this December I got carried away. I had a hard time sleeping, completing a thought, and taking care of my own physical ailments. I felt like I just existed. Don’t get me wrong it had its fun times with family and friends; but there were challenging, brain-draining, and humbling realities scattered throughout the month.
“You let this little thing tell you what to do?”
– Diana (Wonder Woman)
Wonder Woman Activate
During the second full week in December, my expectations for myself were stupidly unrealistic. Not only did I have the usual Christmas preparations and home duties, but I started an online class! WHAT? “Wonder Woman Activate!” I would say to myself. “Wonder Woman Activate!” I pictured this tall, confident, strong woman with fists on hips seamlessly doing everything with a smile and wind blowing through her hair. Talk about super powers.
“Wonder Woman Activate! I can do this.” Then out of nowhere, a hawk landed on the back deck. Was this a sign? BARK! Bark, bark, bark! My dog saw the hawk… I snapped out of my dream. There I stood looking outside. My eyes stung. My arms crossed. And a golf ball size knot grew in the nook of my neck.
“Wonder Woman Active”, came out of my mouth like a broken record. My mantra did not work.
I found myself on my knees. My dog looked at me and knew what was ahead, annnnnd…yup…there it is.
Tears streamed down my cheeks. I stretched my neck from side to side and bowed my head with fingers intertwined, “Dear God. Help. Help me manage all this.” After a few minutes of “sob-fest”, I sat there on my knees. It felt good to take a breather. Real good. So I gave myself a time-out. I stood up and walked to the kitchen. My praying hands unfolded and tied the strings to my apron. A deep breath filled my lungs as I closed my eyes to envision my ‘go-to’ recipe… Christy’s Chocolate Chip Cookies.
As my hands got busy, my tangled world loosened up just enough to welcome in some wandering. A heaping cup of flour, a pinch of salt, and a few hardy shakes of cinnamon were ready to be mixed. The beaters spun. My brain zoned in on the mesmerizing hand mixer. The hum of the beaters, the swirl of the dough, and the smell of sweetness filled my senses. Then it was as if time clicked into slo-mo. Thunk-a, thunk-a, thunk-a. Each beater spun with poise. Each beater focused on the job. Together they mixed the ingredients with accuracy. I watched them work. Thunk-a, thunk-a, thunk-a. Wait for a second…I watched them work. All of a sudden I was back in the Hall of Justice! This time I wasn’t looking to utilize the powers of Wonder Woman, but of the Wonder TWINS!
My “Wonder Woman Activate” affirmation was wrong. I laughed out loud about my realization, my confusion. Let’s try this: “Wonder TWINS Activate!”
I quickly found a picture online of the Wonder Twins. Oh my gosh! Remember Gleek the monkey? Zan and Jayna’s purple bodysuits? Whoa…I have Jayna’s same haircut!
While cleaning the cookie dough bowl…with my finger…I still laughed about the superhero mix-up. As I detached the infamous dough-draped beaters my thoughts went back to my reality. What was I trying to prove with this juggling of hats? That I could do it all? That I could be that strong woman who holds everything together?
A blow to the gut
For one last lick, I swiped my finger in the umbrella of the beater. As I was enjoying the flavors I felt a brick hit my stomach, not because of the raw cookie dough, but because I understood my madness.
I was trying to achieve all these things to prove to myself that I could do it all. And do it…all…by…myself. Why?
It was at that moment realized there was a little something telling me what to do…i. The very letter that is in the center of pride, anxiety, and exist! Pride was getting in my way. Anxiety was stealing my joy. To just ‘exist’ was sabotaging my goals. I was holding me BACK!
It wasn’t the tasks I needed to manage; it was my motive that needed attention.
What did I do next? Five things.
I asked God for clarity and perspective.
I found my Wonder Twin. And called on them when needed; whether to physically help, to listen, or to be my cheerleader. “Wonder Twins Activate!”
Took things one small step at a time, step, by step, by step.
Made time to hang with my family and put aside the “I”.
Gave myself permission to take a time-out every once in a while and baked cookies.
1cupKing Arthur's Gluten-Free Baking MixBaking mix. Use a heaping cup.
1/3cupEnjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips MiniThese are allergy-free, read package.
Preheat oven to 370. Tear a sheet of parchment paper and put it over the cookie sheet.
Add the coconut oil, brown sugar, and cane sugar to glass mixing bowl and mix with hand mixer until mixed together
Add egg, vanilla, and apple cider vinegar. Mix until together
In a separate bowl, add a heaping cup of King Arthur's Gluten-Free Baking Mix, salt, and cinnamon. Hand mix with a fork.
Gradually combine both bowls while mixing with the hand mixer. Mix until all together.
Fold in Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips Mini with a wooden spoon.
Scoop dollops of dough about the size of the wooden spoon and place on the cookie sheet. Allow 1-2 inches between dollops.
Place the cookie sheet in the oven and set the timer for 11 minutes.
While cookies are baking, clean-up the dishes. Please don't eat raw cookie dough due to the egg. We don't need tummy aches.
When cookies are done, slowly transfer them to a cooling rack if you have one. Otherwise, remove the cookies from the cookie sheet in a minute.
Calorie count is a guesstimate for one cookie when baked. It depends on the size of the cookie. Also the cost of the batch of cookies is also an estimate.
Wrapping up my super powers
For the remainder of the month, my Wonder Twin and I worked together. We joked as we cooked meals, we encouraged each other to manage the house, we were present with each other, and we played games with our son and dog.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work…” Ecclesiastes 4:9
This past December taught me something unexpected; my real superpower came from putting the “I” aside.
The cookies I baked that day didn’t last long. In fact, I made another batch that coming weekend. Who knew cookie dough would be so powerful?
My favorite baking tools and ingredients
Here are some of the ingredients I use for my cookie recipe. Don’t forget to use a glass mixing bowl! Plastic bowls have a tendency to add unwanted flavors to the cookie dough, plus there are chances of chemicals or plastic leaching into your delicious cookies. I use these, you can find them on Amazon.
Click the picture to head to Amazon.
Click on the picture to buy on Amazon.
Best allergen-free chocolate chips on the market! Get yours on Amazon.
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 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.
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!
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. Make sure you get the right one. You can see it here.
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.
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.
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.
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 chartto 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.
What are some of the best children’s books for 4-year-olds? Storytime gives us parents or grandparents an intimate time to share an adventure with our children. Below you’ll find a list of happy healthy kid-approved children’s books for 4-year-olds or school-aged children. Reading picture books aloud with your kids brings more to the story. There are numerous studies about the benefit of reading with your kids, even before they are born! It’s a great time to love each other, have a laugh, or ignite a conversation.
Benefits to storytime
PBS Kids recommend starting early with storytime. To read often, read the pictures, and to take a minute and talk about the story, to ask each other questions about it. They go on to say, “the more words that are in a child’s language world, the more words they will learn, and the stronger their language skills are when they reach kindergarten, the more prepared they are to be able to read, and the better they read, the more likely they will graduate from high school”
From All4Kids.org they say reading also helps with cognitive development, improves language skills, serves as a platform for academic success, creates a special bond, improves imagination and creativity, plus increases concentration.
What to read?
Not all picture books are the same. I’ve read hundreds of books and there are some books that made one eyebrow go up. Toddlers want to giggle, they want happy stories, and they want the reader to be goofy. Let’s face it, we all want that! The stories below are picked as the best based on four criteria: the story, ease of reading, how the words flow, and most importantly, PLOT! I’ve done the homework for you on the best picture books for kids.
These are some of my favorite books I’ve read aloud to my son when he was little. Snuggle up with your kiddos and grab a picture book that will make them smile and feel good.
8 Best Children’s Books for 4-year-olds
Ink by Christy Troy (that’s me). After reading hundreds of children’s picture books, I studied up and wrote one too. Ink, a retractable pen, wants to be the favorite pen that sits in the shirt pocket. He knows how to get there, but he has a serious problem…he can’t write. Will the pen pals help him? Will Ink become the favorite pen? Hold on to your pen caps as Ink takes you on a journey that brings you a giggle and a surprise ending. If you order through my shop, you get an author-signed copy! Plus when you go to Ink’s page you get free activity pages, just download and play!
Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site
Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld is one of my favorite books to read to kids. I love the cadence and beat of the rhymes. Sherri and Tom did a great job with the word choice and illustrations. It is clever and very cute. Any child will love the imagination of trucks needing to sleep too. I just had to have my own copy. You can get it on Amazon here. It comes in glow-in-the-dark! This is also a great gift to any truck lover.
Salad Pie by Wendy BooydeGraaff is a fantastic book to ignite imagination for outside play. Wendy is a colleague of mine. In fact, she and I were in a children’s book-writing group together. She did a great job making you feel like a kid again playing on the playground. The illustrations by Bryan Langdo capture the beauty and emotion of playing outside. This adorable story makes me, as an adult, even go outside and make salad pie! Nice job Wendy and Bryan.
When a Dragon Moves In
When a Dragon Moves In by Jodi Moore and illustrated by Howard McWilliam brings me back to my days as a kid on the beach in Florida. My dad and I used to build amazing sandcastles, but we never thought a dragon would move in. I love this story. The humor is cute and the pictures are engaging. The dragon kind of reminds me of a dog…so funny. This is one for the library, especially if you want to escape to the beach!
The Apple Pie Tree
The Apple Pie Tree by Zoe Hall and illustrated by Shari Halpern is a classic. I read this book over and over with my son when he was a tot. It’s educational, it’s easy to read, and you learn how to make a pie! This is a great book to help our kiddos recognize words. And learn how an apple grows through the seasons. A keeper for the home library, and fun to read during apple season!
More rhyming books
Dig Dogs Dig by James Horvath is a construction lover’s gem. My son loved to play with construction trucks in the sand and gravel patch we made him. He’d make the noises with his mouth and have them talk. So cute! This book has a great rhythmic cadence. It’s fun to read and has a fun story. Plus there are dogs in it! Great job James on writing and illustrating. A keeper in our house.
Rumble in the Jungle by Giles Andreae and illustrated by David Wojtowycz is a super fun book to read. We read it so many times that our book cover is getting tattered. We learn about all sorts of jungle animals and what their jungle job is. The pictures are colorful and cute. You really feel good after reading the rhythm of this book. Bravo!
My Truck is Stuck by Kevin Lewis and Daniel Kirk is a great book for entertainment. With its catchy rhymes and engaging pictures, you’re sure to get a laugh. Storytime has a whole new meaning…giggle time. This is another book of ours that has had a workout. Nice job guys!
Wrapping it up
Every year more and more picture books come into print. Not all picture books are the same, be sure to look for stories that are well-written, have a pivotal point, and have a happy ending. Remember, I have read hundreds of children’s books and there are a lot of bad ones…so take note of the good ones and purchase them for your library or baby shower gifts.
The first family games date back to Egypt in 3100 BC. That’s right, BC “Before Christ”. It was the game of Senet that set the stage for board games. Today stores are filled with an overwhelming display of games. Let me save you some time and money, the best place to find amazing board games is in your parent’s closet. And secondly, the trick to making family games fun is to find the right game the whole family can enjoy, not just an 8-year-old.
I’ve got a list of 13 family games that are worth the time and money. Believe me, we have one child, so when it comes to games, we parents want to like it too. However, I wouldn’t advise ‘borrowing’ your parent’s games, those games and the memories they hold are theirs, so keep the games in their closet. It’s time to get your own games and create tattered box memories with them.
What makes a game fun?
First of all, I’m not talking about games about poop or getting whip cream in my face. The toy companies certainly don’t make games like they used to. The family games that make the top of the pile are games that require skill, cognitive skills, and where we’ll learn something like strategy. They are games with a little history.
With that said, the games listed below are for ages 8+ for the most part. Keep Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, and Hi Ho Cherry-O for your younger crowd. In fact, those are the best choices anyway for that age range.
The 13 best family games
If your game closet is looking empty, let me remind you of the top 13 picks for family games. Some of these games you might have played as a kid and forgotten about them, I sure did. Note: these games are listed in alphabetical order.
1. Battleship (2-player)
Battleship involves strategy, it also involves reading your player. Reading your player in a poker kind of way, did their eyebrows go up when you got close to their aircraft carrier? Keep your eyes peeled. You can get it on Amazon.
History: Battleship goes back to World War I by using a pencil and paper to play the game. In 1967 Milton Bradley came out with the plastic board version.
I personally have not played Catan yet! But I will be getting it soon. This game has rave reviews. It’s about developing your own civilizations. This brings you back in history a bit. I hear it’s easy to learn how to play, but difficult to master. I’m getting this one! Check it out on Amazon.
History: Catan was created in 1995 in Germany.
3. Chess (2-player)
This too gets lost in the game pile. We recently taught our son the game of Chess and he beats me every time! Chess requires strategy and getting to know your opponent. Again, reading the player and getting in their head to figure their next move is key.
History: Chess goes back to close to 1500 years! Whoa. It originated in northern India. For more info check out Wikipedia.org.
This game never gets old. Clue is best played with more than two people. Put some mystery in your game night with Clue. Amazon price.
History: This game goes back to the UK air raids of World War II in 1943. When Anthony Pratt and his wife were stuck inside during the nightly air-raids they invented this game.
5. Connect Four (2-player)
I love Connect Four. My son and I have an ongoing Connect Four title. Like the WWE title, ours is Connect Four. This game is all about strategy. We play the best of three games. History: It’s been around since 1974.
6. Gin Rummy (cards, 2-player)
A classic card game that never gets old. You can find how to play here. Plus many other games at Bicycle. History: This dates back to 1909.
I don’t think I need to say much about this iconic game. Monopoly and I have a love/hate relationship. If you want to play a game for hours or even days, this is it! However, learning about strategy and money radiates from this game. Head to Amazon to get a fresh game.
History: The original name of Monopoly was The Landlord’s Game. It was designed by Elizabeth Magie in 1902 and patented in 1904.
Who doesn’t like a little zap and lights? Operation is as close to blood and guts you’re going to get in my family games list. It takes about 15 minutes to play. If you have shaky hands, this is not your game. I suggest using your reading glasses for this one. History: This game has been in circulation since 1964.
9. Pay Day
Move over Monopoly, yes I did just say that. Pay Day has become one of our family favorites. Unlike land in Monopoly, you learn about money, taking risks, debt, and did I mention it’s a quicker game? You can play as many months as you’d like. History: It was first created in 1974. Yep, Amazon has it.
Jenga is like a cross between a cardhouse and pick-up sticks…sort of. Any age can play this game. And it certainly comes in all sizes. It’s a great game to break the ice. History: created by Leslie Scott in the early 1970’s. Jenga means “to build” in Swahili.
My family game night memories
Family game night is a vivid memory for me. My dad wanted to take one night a week to hold a family game night. At first, when my sisters and I were young we got into it, but as we got older the more we grumbled. I remember a time when my dad announced that it was Family game night and we all rolled our eyes and moaned. His stern response was, “You’re going to play a game and you’re going to have fun!” Ha ha ha! I’ve used that response in my family. But it’s those game nights that formed a special yet goofy bond between our family…even when we didn’t want to play, we did still have fun.
11. Skip-bo (cards)
We dug Skip-bo out recently. In fact, I forgot how to play and had to have one of my son’s buddies re-teach me. Since then, we have been playing almost every night. Yes, it’s true. We play a quick 10-card stack of Skipbo. I’m happy to say I beat them all last night with my secret strategy!
History: Skip-bo first came alive in 1967 thanks to Minnie Hazel “Skip” Bowman.
12. Ticket to Ride
Once again, I have not played Ticket to Ride but looks awesome. It involves a train adventure in which players collect and play matching cards to claim railway routes through the United States. This game has gotten awards. The youngest game on the list came into being in 2003. Find it on Amazon.
This is a great game of chance. If you don’t mind a little noise and love strategy, Yahtzee is fun for everyone. I’ve even seen it in giant size for camping!
History: The history of this game is a bit confusing. Some say it dates back to 1938. Others say it was essentially invented on a yacht, hence, “Yahtzee” by a wealthy Canadian couple.
Boils down to memories
Okay, that does it for my brief review of family games. You might have played these games at your home when you were growing up. I hope I took you back to some great memories. But now it’s time to make amazing family game memories with your kids.
To get any of the games listed above, simply click on the links. The links will take you to Amazon.
Cleaning the house has been one of the most toxic yet healthy tasks in life. Sure we could pay someone else to do it but stay humble friend. Living in a clean house is not just healthy for our bodies, but for our psyche. Learn how to make cleaning less stressful by understanding 5 key factors.
There have been numerous times my husband has suggested hiring someone to clean our house. Each time he brings it up three reasons keep me from saying yes:
1. I would still clean the house before they came to clean!
2. It’s hard to find a good cleaner, let alone one you can trust.
Someday I will probably get there, but I honestly don’t have any excuses for why I can’t clean my own house. So if you’re like me, listen up to loosen up about cleaning the house.
Why cleaning the house matters
First off, living in a clean home does a body and mind good. When we don’t dust or vacuum as often as we should, dust mites build up and can lead to allergies. Not to mention lingering smells and sticky surfaces. It’s like a welcome mat for various germs and bugs with large bodies and little legs…that will motivate me to clean!
Like mowing the lawn, cleaning provides that same kind of instant gratification. Accomplishing a clean house is a huge win, especially if you put your own sweat into it. When I’m cleaning I like to think of all the money I’m saving from paying someone to do it, not to mention all the calories I just burned! Cleaning the house has benefits: weight loss and money management!
5 factors to determine how often I clean
I’m not a deep cleaner every time I clean my house. Deep cleaning and the number of times to clean will depend on your situation. I’ve found there are five factors to determine how often to clean your house.
If you have a shedding dog or other messy pet, cleaning is probably going to happen more often. To easily clean fur off of furniture, use a dryer sheet, rubber gloves, or a lint brush.
The number of kids determines how often to clean. With kids, you must consider their ages. Starting a child out at 5-years-old with an easy cleaning chore helps them understand you’re not their servant. The older they get the more they should help period.
If your husband’s allergies flare up, dusting and vacuuming will be more frequent. When my husband sneezes in the morning, I know it’s time to clean. My son has the same issue. I’m getting a lot of miles on my vacuum!
Where you live plays a factor in how often to clean the house. Do you live in a dusty field, near a construction site, or pollen-invested forest? Again, in these instances, allergies could attack.
And lastly, don’t forget about your personality. Ask yourself these questions: Are you a ‘Laidback Jack’ or an ‘Anal Andy’? Do you like to do things yourself or are you a delegator? What about how you were taught? How often are you entertaining? Get an understanding of who you are and how you want to move forward.
All in all
When it comes to cleaning the house, get in the right frame of mind. Schedule a cleaning day and make sure your kids or husband understand what cleaning is and what their responsibilities are. Remember your cleaning schedule depends on where you live, who lives with you, and how you’re living!
How to simplify my life is more than just throwing your stuff out. We’re getting rid of stress and welcoming happiness into our home. Simplifying and organizing are sometimes used interchangeably, but we’re not going to organize today. We’re going to focus on simplifying our space by knowing how to do it without stress or frustration.
If you want to have peace, experience freedom, and have more space, let alone functional space, it starts with who you are and how you operate. You are a smart person, you’re creative, and you have an amazing future. So this task of simplifying is going to need your mind, creativity, problem-solving skills, and an understanding of yourself.
Are you ready to reduce stress in your life? Let’s break through the clutter to seriously unleash your potential to live a do more than exist kind of life in your space.
The top 5 pieces of advice to simplify my life
1. Simplifying your life is a lot harder than you think.
To make simplifying work for you, you must include your brain. To make this experience a fantastic one, you’ll want to do two things: get in the right frame of mind and understand your motives.
Do you want to find things easier? What about getting rid of sour memories to make room for sweet ones? Do you want to create more space? Clean up? Do you want to live lighter? Or do you want to downsize? What is your motive for simplifying?
2. Ask yourself questions.
Since I’m on a roll with questions, we’re going to keep going! When asking yourself, “How do I simplify my life?” Ask more questions. Let’s say you come upon your old t-shirt from high school, let’s ask yourself a few things:
– Why am I holding on to this?
– How is this going to change my life for the better?
– When was the last time I used it?
– Can someone else use it?
– Is this something I could sell this week?
– Is it worth the space in my house let alone mind?
It’s important to ask yourself these questions when you run into something that might be hard to let go of. When push comes to shove, just remember you can’t take it to heaven.
3. Simplify my life step by step, but not too slowly
Okay, so decluttering and cleaning isn’t a fun thing for you? We all have our dislikes but we still need to do them if we want something done. For instance, I don’t like washing the kitchen floor. However, what helps me get it done is scheduling it. Simple yet effective. I can then mentally prepare myself and start visualizing how awesome it would be to have a clean kitchen floor. With that said, take a look at your schedule and block off some time to start your decluttering project. Get serious about your space.
Yes, this kind of task is a big deal. Have you seen those shows about hoarding? There’s a little hoarder inside of us all. Go about this step by step. Maybe tackle the kitchen one day, then the bathroom another day, and so forth. You got this!
4. Get it out of your living space.
When you start to sort through things, get them out of your living space. By removing it from your living space you’ll get a taste of how much you really miss it or not miss it; plus you’ll see how much stuff you are getting rid of. This is an easy technique that is extremely helpful. In fact, it helps brighten a room! Get more tips on how to brighten a room here.
This can be a big eye-opener and can even change your spending and collecting habits for the better! I have been known to do snow angels on the floor after a declutter day.
5. Make 4 piles.
Make piles: keep, donate, sell, and pitch. When you plan on having a garage sale, designate a space to keep all those things…like your garage or closet. Same rule for things to donate or to sell online. As for pitching, start a pile and fill your garbage bin every week until it’s gone.
When all said and done to simplify my life.
We’ve lived in the same house for over 17 years. Within those years we have had four garage sales and numerous trips to the donation center. Every garage sale blew my mind with how much stuff we were keeping and not using! With our quarterly clean-out, I still get amazed at how much stuff we accumulate in a matter of months! As for selling things online, the best place I’ve found to be is to use Facebook Marketplace.
When you get in the right mode for simplifying you’ll be surprised at the things you had kept over the years and the things you still want to keep. This is your living space we’re talking about, so make it the way you’ll love it. When you enjoy how you’re living you’ll be a whole lot happier.