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5 Ways To Find More Energy When You’ve Hit The Wall

5 tips for finding more energy when you need to power it up. :: www.nurturedmama.net

Background photo by Martin Wessely

Wintertime is my least energetic time of year. I want to curl up under a blanket, in front of a fire, and read or knit or nap.

As much as possible I do those things. My natural cycle is to be slow in the winter and active and productive in the warmer months. I try to honor that.

But some days I really need to get a bit of hustle on and get things done. On those days, I’ve learned a few tricks to wake my body up and dig deep to find more energy.

If you are feeling sluggish and need a move on today, here are five ways to get yourself going.

1. Move Your Body

It is the last thing I want to do when I’m feeling sleepy, but getting your body moving is the easiest way to wake up. Have a five minute dance party, go for a quick walk, or just do a few yoga stretches (this site shows 10 two-pose combinations that are great energy builders).

2. Drink Some Water

Adequate hydration supports good circulation and efficient muscle function. If you are feeling sluggish, drink a glass of water to help your body function in top form, which will help you feel more energetic.

3. Reduce Stress

While reducing stress is generally not something you can fix quickly, there are ways to help you feel less stressed in the moment, which will give you focus and clarity to get things done. Do a brain dump, clear a few things from your calendar, or spend just five minutes meditating.

4. Eat A Healthy Snack

I crave cookies when I’m dragging, but cookies are counter productive – they just make me sleepier! Instead, make yourself a nutrient dense snack that will give you fuel to burn for a few hours. A good rule of thumb is a combination of healthy carbohydrates and protein – apple slices and peanut butter or crackers and hummus. This article has a few good suggestions for energy-producing snacks.

5. Change the Scenery

Sometimes fatigue is more situational than physical. If you’ve been concentrating on one task for a long stretch and are flagging, get up and do something  else for a while. Engage your brain in a different way for at least 15 minutes before you return to the task at hand. It will help, I promise!

What tricks do you have when you need an energy pick-me-up?

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10 DIY Gifts You Still Have Time To Make

Welcome to the December 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Greatest Gifts

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have suggested go-to gifts and gifting experiences for the holiday season for all your loved ones.

Do you want to make some handmade gifts this year but think you don't have time? Here are 10 easy and fast ideas for DIY. :: www.nurturedmama.net

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase a product after clicking through a link I will earn few cents from the sale at no additional cost to you. This income helps to support this blog. Thank you!

Do you want to make some handmade gifts this year but think you don't have time? Here are 10 easy and fast ideas for DIY. :: www.nurturedmama.net

photo from www.sittingtree.com

Coffee Cozy

For the coffee-drink lover in your life, give the gift of warmer coffee! This cozy is knit or crocheted, but you could also cut one out of beautifully dyed wool felt and some funky buttons.

Fleece Slippers

If you have a little sewing skill, kid-sized fleece slippers come together really fast. I’m making a pair of these to go in a box with special Christmas jammies. I love these bunny ones (though my girl would want them to be cats),  but the best instructions are at this site.

Do you want to make some handmade gifts this year but think you don't have time? Here are 10 easy and fast ideas for DIY. :: www.nurturedmama.net

photo from www.polymerclayweb.com

Clay Pendants

Polymer clay is great because it is easy to find, easy to work with and simple to cure (though I’d recommend opening a window while it bakes!). This tutorial has a simple list of materials and very clear instructions that will leave you with a really nice result!

Do you want to make some handmade gifts this year but think you don't have time? Here are 10 easy and fast ideas for DIY. :: www.nurturedmama.net

photo from www.livingwellspendingless.com

Chalkboard Coasters

I found some tile pieces at the ReSTORE in my neighborhood and I’m turning them into these chalkboard coasters.  This is a fun craft to get the kids involved with, as it is so simple!

3 DIY beauty supplies made from coconut oil. Make facial cleanser, foot scrub, or shaving cream. :: nurturedmama.net

Sugar Scrub

Sugar scrub is one of those mind-boggling simple things to make that is so very nice to give and use. Start with this Brown Sugar Foot Scrub recipe and adjust by adding different essential oilsdifferent sugar, or a different kind of oil. Great for the whole body, not just your feet!

Do you want to make some handmade gifts this year but think you don't have time? Here are 10 easy and fast ideas for DIY. :: www.nurturedmama.net

photo from www.gimmesomeoven.com

Lip Balm

Lip balm is also shockingly easy to make, with ingredients that are easy to find. This yummy rosewater balm recipe makes a very simple but sensual balm.   You can also dress your balms up with color or get fancy with your packaging.

Do you want to make some handmade gifts this year but think you don't have time? Here are 10 easy and fast ideas for DIY. :: www.nurturedmama.net

photo from www.thekitchn.com

Chai Tea Concentrate

I love drinking chai tea on cold days. The combination of warm tea and warming spices just makes me feel so cozy. This is my favorite recipe, but if you are shipping a gift, you might want to try this dry mix.

Photo Bookmarks

I came across this idea a few months ago and fell in love with it. If you have a photo printer in your home, you can make these in about 5 minutes!  Make sure you get a photo where their little belly is showing, because that’s the best part!

Do you want to make some handmade gifts this year but think you don't have time? Here are 10 easy and fast ideas for DIY. :: www.nurturedmama.net

photo from www.sundaesins.com

Photo Magnets

Here’s another super simple photo gift. This tutorial includes a photo shop template, but you could really just print out small square photos and go from there. So cute!  If you like the idea of magnets, but not photos, think about recycling other items, like costume jewelry or matchbox cars by gluing a strong magnet to the back. The possibilities here are endless.

Do you want to make some handmade gifts this year but think you don't have time? Here are 10 easy and fast ideas for DIY. :: www.nurturedmama.net

This photo from www.averiecooks.com (find the recipe for this amazing cookie there, too.)

Cookies

One of my favorite things to receive as a gift is something baked by hand. Christmas cookies are such a classic gift that we almost don’t even think of them as a DIY gift. In one afternoon, you can whip up a couple batches of cookies and make a whole bunch of people happy. Check out my sweets and treats board on Pinterest for some great cookie and sweet bread recipes, great for holiday baking.

For even more “hand made” (but not crafty) gifts, check out this great gift guide on Zen Habits.

What handmade gifts are you making this year?

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Natural parent’s baby shower registry — Since she had everything already for baby #3, Lauren at Hobo Mama is amusing herself by building a list of essentials and a few fun fripperies for a natural-parenting nursery.
  • Gifts of love — Charlie at PeelingClementines recalls her favourite Christmas gift of all time and thinks about how to add this magic to her little one’s first Christmas.
  • The Gift of Letting Go — Dionna at Code Name: Mama has discovered that when you’re a perfectionist, sometimes the best gift is simply releasing yourself from self-imposed expectations.
  • Montessori Inspired Gifts for Babies and Toddlers — Rachel at Bread and Roses shares gift ideas that were a hit with her son last year and what’s on her wishlist for this year.
  • Giftmas Ideas for KidsMomma Jorje offers an original gift idea that hasn’t been overdone and is good for the kids!
  • Favorite CDs for Babies and Toddlers {Gift Guide} — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares her family’s favorite CDs for babies and toddlers, some of which were favorites of her children and are now favorites of her granddaughter.
  • The Birthday Turned Christmas Wish ListThat Mama Gretchen forgot to share her birthday wish list this fall, but she’s still wishin’ and hopin’ a present or two will arrive for Christmas!
  • 8 Thoughtful Non-Toy Gifts for Baby — Is your family asking for hints for presents to give baby? Moorea, guest posting at Natural Parents Network, offers this list of ideas that won’t overwhelm your little one with toys.

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Creating Meaningful Family Traditions

What holiday traditions do you practice in your family? Are they purposeful or do you do them out of habit? Click through to learn how to build deeply meaningful holiday traditions for your family.

This post was originally published on Modern Alternative Mama last year. 

Are your family holidays full of meaningful traditions? Or do they feel weighed down by things you do by rote, or worse, expectations that leave you drained or fighting with your family members?

This season is supposed to be a special time, a time to connect with family and loved ones and to celebrate the winter holidays. Family traditions can make this time more fun, add a deeper meaning and can also help strengthen family bonds.

But if your traditions aren’t doing those things, consider changing them up. Let some go, adapt them, add some new ones. Here are some questions to consider when thinking about family traditions:

  • What is meaningful for your family?
  • What one or two values do you want to focus on at Christmas time?
  • What kinds of activities are reasonable to repeat every year (and not make mama crazy)?
  • What is your cultural background?
  • What traditions does your family look forward to most each year?

The answers to these questions will help guide you in determining what traditions to repeat or add and which to let go.

Whether you have a new baby, young children, are blending two families or just wanting to change it up, here are some fun family traditions for you to consider.

Holiday traditions you can do with a baby

  • Make an ornament with a hand or footprint.
  • Make or buy an ornament with a recent photo of your child. Add a new photo ornament each year.
  • Take a cute photo for your holiday card. (Qho doesn’t love a baby in a Santa Hat?)
  • Make or give a special new stocking for the newest family member.
  • Gift a Christmas music box with a favorite carol.
  • Write a letter to your child (and do it every year).
  • Start a Christmas scrapbook.
  • New Christmas jammies or a blanket.

Holiday traditions that involve bigger kids

  • Make a batch of ornaments (grandparents love these) and keep one for your own tree.
  • Leave your shoes out on St. Nicholas Day (December 6th).
  • Give a special ornament to each child. When they eventually move out, they can take that collection with them to decorate their own tree.
  • Make cookies, have a cookie decorating party or a cookie exchange party.
  • Count down to Christmas with a themed advent calendar. Make it a craft advent, a family activity advent, or a book advent.
  • Wrap up “Christmas Eve in a box” with new pajamas, cosy socks, movies, hot chocolate and pop corn.
  • Drive around looking at Christmas lights.
  • Volunteer together (adopt a family, staff a food kitchen, support a cause, donate toys, food or warm clothing).
  • Go to a Christmas tree farm to cut down a tree and decorate it as a family.
  • Have special books or readings that only come out at this time of the year.
  • Practice giving: Help your kids make gifts for other family members, choose a special toy to pass on to a sibling, and help wrap gifts for others. Some gifts kids can make themselves are coupons (let them pick what the coupon can be traded for!), craft projects, handmade ornaments, those cookies you made together, or writing letters to soldiers or others who are far from their families.
  • Make a “wishmas tree” and decorate with wishes for other people.
  • Go caroling in your neighborhood
  • Attend the late service at your church on Christmas Eve, even if it is way past bedtime.
  • Go to a Christmas music concert.
  • Leave cookies for Santa (and then leave Santa evidence around the house for the kids to find in the morning).
  • Create a scavenger hunt for special presents.
  • Take turns opening presents so everyone gets to see all the gifts.
  • Make gingerbread houses (or cardboard houses if gingerbread and icing is too messy for you).
  • Have silly Christmas Eve fun, like having a themed dinner, have your kids put on a show or have a family-wide talent show.
  • Take the same picture each year of the whole family.
  • Write a love letter to your kids or husband.
  • Take the kids on a surprise adventure, like this Minivan Express.

Remember that an activity can be fun and still be full of meaning, especially if you talk to your kids about why you are doing something and why it is important to you to do it every year. Don’t forget to get the kids involved in deciding what traditions to repeat or not. You might be surprised at what means the most to them at the holidays. It might not be the presents!

What is your favorite family holiday tradition?

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How To Survive Holiday Shopping When You Are Highly Sensitive

Amazon sent me an email in October with the headline “The countdown to Black Friday.” I deleted it. I did not want to think about Black Friday before Halloween. I do not, actually, want to think about gift shopping at all.

This week I’m over on Sorta Crunchy with a post about surviving the sensory overwhelm of shopping during the holiday season, whether you are after gifts or just groceries. If you an introvert, are highly sensitive, or have ever walked into a store and felt like you wanted to walk right back out, this post is for you.

Read more at Sorta Crunchy.

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Focus Your Day With A Single Goal

If being productive today means doing only one thing, what's the thing you need to do? :: www.nurturedmama.netWhen life is feeling overwhelming, when I’m managing in crisis mode, or simply when I’m very tired, I have a secret weapon for success.

I plan to do only one thing. Focusing on a single thing feels manageable.

Sometimes that thing is very small. I plan to brush my teeth (start the day with a victory!). I plan to take a shower, which might not even happen until right before bed. I plan to make one phone call that I’m feeling nervous about.

If achieving my one thing cascades into energy to finish another one thing, or maybe two, that’s awesome. But if it just allows me to give myself permission to take it easy, that’s perfectly fine.

Sometimes my one thing is more of an attitude than an accomplishment. My goal might be to speak kindly, if I’ve been very cranky recently. It might be to forgive, if my love and I have been arguing. It might be to be patient, if my small girl has being trying.

I choose my one thing because it is the thing that I most need, even if the practice of it also feels most challenging.

What could your one thing be today?

What one thing will you do today?

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2014 Blogiversary Giveaway!

To celebrate the 2nd anniversary of Nurtured Mama, I'm giving something away (I kind of like this tradition!).

 

The drawing is now closed (congratulations to Anne-Marika!) but you can fill out the survey any time. I’d still love your input!

 

On the day before my 40th birthday, I published the first post on this blog. It wasn’t my first blog post (not in the slightest!) but it was the beginning of a bigger vision, a hope for a community, and a way to put my voice where it might possibly help other moms like me.

In the last two years, so much has changed in my life. My daughter has grown from a baby to an opinionated child. I’ve cut off my hair, gutted my wardrobe, launched a class, lost two pregnancies, been in a car crash, started painting again, been very sick, and am finally getting well again. I’ve written my heart out on this blog and I’ve found the community I was seeking. Just in this year Nurtured Mama’s subscribers have doubled and traffic has quadrupled. You have come here from Pinterest, Facebook, and other blogs where I have written. And you’ve stayed. Even when I needed to take a break this summer, you guys were right here when I got back.

I’m just so grateful to you, that’s what I’m trying to say. I’m so glad you are here reading and that you tell me my words are useful to you. This is what keeps me going. This is what keeps me excited about sharing stories, sharing ideas, showing up to this screen and this particular blank page.

So I want to give you something back – a spot in my upcoming holiday class. All I ask is that you hop over to fill out this extremely short survey and tell me three things: Something you wish I’d start doing, something you think I could stop doing, and something you’d like for me to continue. Leave your email at the end to be entered to win a spot in class. Your emails will only be seen by me and only used to draw a winner – I’ll delete the list when that’s done.

The winner will be drawn on November 28 and contacted by email. If by chance the winning entrant has already paid for a spot in class, I’ll refund the payment.

Thank you for celebrating the close of another year her on this blog, and joining me for the next one!

PS – If you aren’t yet a subscriber, but would like to be, it is easy to sign up. Just enter your email at this page. You can choose to receive posts from the blog to your inbox or only the newsletter, which I send every 3 to 4 weeks with additional stories, offers, and discounts.

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Plan Ahead for Calmer Holidays

A little planning now will give you more space, joy, and relaxation around the holidays. Click over for tips on scheduling, managing holiday mail, and more. :: www.nurturedmama.netFor a number of years, I started dreading Christmas, oh, around October. I shared more of that story last year, and my 21 Days to a Peaceful Holiday class grew out of the things I learned as I found my way back to loving the holiday season. I can honestly say that when I saw the first holiday decor this year while shopping (even though it was the first week of October), I smiled in anticipation. Progress!

This week I want to share with you a few of the more practical ways I prepare for the holidays before things get crazy busy.

(For even more tips, join me for 21 Days starting December 1.)

Set Your Intention For the Season

To prevent going into reaction mode just to manage the busy, think now about how you would like to feel during the month of December and into January. What one theme would you like to feel running through the holiday? Family? Community? Wonder? Consider some of these questions:

  • What is your most treasured holiday tradition?
  • What holiday activities could you really live without?
  • Where do you feel the magic? How can you find more of that?
  • What are your family’s favorite activities? Least favorite activities?
  • Do you want to send cards? Or greetings in some other format?
  • What is your budget for gift giving and entertaining this year?

Your answers to these questions will give you a framework to decide what you want to say yes to and what you want to say no to this month.

Prepare For Holiday Mail

Are you overwhelmed with catalogs yet? I am. Incoming mail around the holidays can get crazy. Just when you want to keep your house tidy for guests, your mailbox starts churning out the paper for you to deal with. And not just catalogs, but holiday cards, and possibly a lot of packages, if you do some of your Christmas shopping online. Here are some ways you can tame that mess:

  • Make a place to stash mail-order gifts until wrapped. Designate a closet or out-of-the-way spot to stack those boxes until you are ready to open them and wrap the gifts. Ideally, do that the day they arrive, but if that’s not realistic, just make sure you have a corner where they won’t be in your way.
  • If you get a lot of holiday greeting cards, set up a way to display them so you can put them out the same day they arrive. That can be as simple as making space on your mantle or hanging a length of ribbon and using clothespins to attach the cards to the ribbon.
  • Make a plan for outgoing mail, too. If you are sending holiday cards, make it easy on yourself. Make a basket of all the supplies you need to write, address and stamp them so you can carry it to wherever you are working. If you are shipping gifts, make sure you mark on your calendar when everything needs to be in the mail to arrive on time and schedule a trip to the post office before that date!
  • Make a thank-you card station. Once you are done with your holiday cards, recycle that basket into a thank-you card station. If you have kids who are old enough to write, check out these printable cards they can fill out themselves.

A little planning now will give you more space, joy, and relaxation around the holidays. Click over for tips on scheduling, managing holiday mail, and more. :: www.nurturedmama.net

Re-Think Your Gifts

The most important thing I did to get my joy back in the holidays was change the way I approached gift giving. I cut my gift list down to just my immediate family, which freed up both time and money to really give thoughtful, heartfelt gifts. Sometimes those gifts are handmade, but not always. Re-finding my joy in giving really helped me re-find the magic of the holiday. If you struggle with gift giving because it feels overwhelming, costs too much, or just doesn’t feel joyful, consider some of these alternate gift ideas (there is a lot more about intentional giving in the 21 Days class!):

  • Give an experience gift. Sign someone up for a class, buy tickets to a show or a trip. Or just give the offer of a day spent together doing something you both love.
  • Give the gift of time. Offer babysitting services to a family with little ones. Offer to help someone finish a project, or do some work around their house. Do you have skills that someone else needs? Offer them!
  • Make a donation. I get the Heifer International catalog every year, and I love the idea of giving a pig or a goat in the name of someone I love. Another idea along these lines is to set up a Kiva account for someone and let them manage the micro loans  as they wish.

Ease Up Your Schedule

This is where the month always falls apart for me. I have good intentions, but it is just so easy to say yes to everything that sounds fun! Resist the temptation. Say no to some things so you can enjoy fewer things more. Take a look at your December calendar now to make sure you preserve some room to breathe, rest, and celebrate. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Mark your social engagements. What parties have you been invited to? Do you or your partner have a company party you should attend? Take a look at how these events fall, decide which ones you want to go to and which you want to skip and send in those RSVPs right away.
  • If you have kids in school, mark school holidays and parties. If there are treats or cards you want to have ready, make sure you mark your deadline for getting those things ready, too!
  • Fill in any traditional family events. Does your family like to go look at Christmas lights? Do you go see the Nutcracker? Throw a cookie party? Make sure you save room for those things, as they are likely more meaningful than that company party anyway.
  • Are you traveling? Hosting guests or family? Mark out any travel dates and guest arrival dates.
  • Mark out rest days! Is there any room left? Schedule yourself some down evenings to just be. If you got this far and find there are no gaps, go back and remove some things to make them!

What parts of the holiday season make you feel most stressed?

Registration is now open for 21 Days to a Peaceful Holiday. This course offers gentle support and guidance to celebrate the holidays on your terms, with less stress and more joy and connection. Read more and register here. 
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Minted Review (& Giveaway!)

Minted crowdsources beautiful designs and produces what their users vote on. The result is stunning cards, invitations and party decor that connects independent artists with discerning customers. This review gives an overview of the products available and includes a $50 shop credit giveaway! :: www.nurturedmama.net

Updated: This giveaway is now closed. The winner is Heidi, who wrote, “I’m loving the Winter Brush Christmas cards! It’s so classy.” Heidi, I’ll be sending you an email with your credit details.

 

Have you heard of Minted? While on the surface it looks like another online stationary and holiday card store, it goes far beyond that.

Minted was founded in 2007 with the idea that there was under-represented creative talent all around the world and that the Internet could help connect these artists with customers. The company holds “design challenges” that draw entries from more than 48 countries. The public votes on their favorites and Minted produces and sells the winning designs, returning a commission to the designer on every sale.

Minted contacted me recently to ask if I wanted to review their products and tell you about them. I was impressed with the look of their designs, but when I dug in and read about their business model I got really excited. They aren’t just selling pretty Christmas cards and wedding invitations, they are actually helping independent artists to flourish through crowdsourcing. That’s the kind of company I can get behind.

Disclosure: Minted sponsored this post by providing me with shop credit and use of their images. All words and opinions about their products are my own. 

Minted crowdsources beautiful designs and produces what their users vote on. The result is stunning cards, invitations and party decor that connects independent artists with discerning customers. This review gives an overview of the products available and includes a $50 shop credit giveaway! :: www.nurturedmama.net

But back to the holiday cards, because if you do holiday cards, this is a good place to look for them. Gorgeous photo cardspost cards, stunning foil-pressed designs, and even options without traditional holiday greetings (those are hard to find!). Each design can be customized to make your holiday cards unique to your taste.

I have skipped sending holiday cards for the last few years, but I’m intrigued by the Minibook and Booklette options. I think some grandparents in our lives would appreciate these!

Minted crowdsources beautiful designs and produces what their users vote on. The result is stunning cards, invitations and party decor that connects independent artists with discerning customers. This review gives an overview of the products available and includes a $50 shop credit giveaway! :: www.nurturedmama.net

If you are looking for wedding invitations, Minted’s selection is extensive. From invitations with fresh designs, save the date cards and magnets, to programs, menus and beautiful party decor. You can sign up here to have a sample kit sent to you.

minted party - 600

Speaking of party decor, be sure to check out the seasonal and themed decor available. You can select individual items (I love the personalized bunting banners!), select pre-made party bundles, or put together your own package of fun for a discount price.

Minted crowdsources beautiful designs and produces what their users vote on. The result is stunning cards, invitations and party decor that connects independent artists with discerning customers. This review gives an overview of the products available and includes a $50 shop credit giveaway! :: www.nurturedmama.net

But this has to be my favorite group of products right here: Personalized day planners, address books, and notebooks. Pick your cover, choose your interior notebook (blank journal with lined, blank or graph paper, address book, or perpetual monthly or weekly planner), choose your binding, and optionally customize the cover with your name or photos. They also invite special requests by email.

Custom notebooks? That’s my love language right there.

Are you a fan of old-fashioned correspondence? Minted also sells custom stationary with designs for him, for her, and for kids. One of my sisters gave my daughter a box of gift cards for her birthday last year and Bean loves to draw a picture on a card to send to someone she’s thinking about. I’m pretty sure my sister is stoked too, because she’s been the recipient of a card more than once! A set of beautiful cards make a great gift.

Minted crowdsources beautiful designs and produces what their users vote on. The result is stunning cards, invitations and party decor that connects independent artists with discerning customers. This review gives an overview of the products available and includes a $50 shop credit giveaway! :: www.nurturedmama.net

In addition to stationary, Minted also sells limited edition and custom art prints, framed or unframed, in a range of sizes. I found this stunning landscape by Emily Jeffords, an oil painter I’ve recently been following on Instagram.

I think the state-shaped custom prints would make a really fun wedding gift, and I love the name and letter prints for a new baby. These designs are fresh and modern and would look great hanging in a nursery. I’m thinking about ordering this “S” print with a photo of my girl.

Minted crowdsources beautiful designs and produces what their users vote on. The result is stunning cards, invitations and party decor that connects independent artists with discerning customers. This review gives an overview of the products available and includes a $50 shop credit giveaway! :: www.nurturedmama.net

But wait, there’s more! Minted isn’t just about paper goods. They’ve also just launched printed fabric! Minted is working with artists around the world to reproduce patterns that customers can buy in cotton or cotton-linen blend by the yard. How cute is this whale print? Or these veggies? A yard of custom-print fabric isn’t cheap at $32-34 a yard, but for a small project like a baby quilt or contrast fabric for a special outfit, you can have a beautiful one-of-a-kind look.

The only real problem with the breadth of Minted’s products is figuring out what to order! But I can help with that, a little. Because Minted has offered a $50 credit to one Nurtured Mama reader.

To enter, leave a comment describing your favorite Minted product. For an additional chance to win, sign up for the Nurtured Mama newsletter here and leave me a comment that you have so that I can confirm your subscription went through. If you are already a subscriber, just leave a comment saying so.

At 9AM PST on Wednesday November 19 I’ll draw a winner for the giveaway using Random.org and will notify the winner by email. Good luck!

To keep up with what’s new at Minted, check out their beautiful blog, Julep. There you’ll find company news as well as sweet craft ideas and inspiration. Want to participate? Go here to submit designs or to vote on current contests. 

Registration is now open for 21 Days to a Peaceful Holiday. This course offers gentle support and guidance to celebrate the holidays on your terms, with less stress and more joy and connection. Read more and register here. 
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How To Meditate If You Can’t Sit Still

 

You’ve probably heard all about how good meditation is for you. Clarity of mind, calm thoughts, focus, creativity. Awesome rewards, right? Especially for a mom of active young kids.

But when you are a busy mom with active kids who have active schedules, finding the time and focus to meditate feels especially far away. Sitting still, in silence, for an extended period of time? That feels like bliss, but probably unattainable.

Even if you can find the time, how do you clear your head of the to-do list, the things forgotten that need to be dropped off, the appointments, the everything that you need to track as a mom of little people? How do you manage to sit still?

Well, maybe you can’t, but that doesn’t mean you can’t reap the benefits of meditation at all. If you cultivate the practice of paying attention, even if you aren’t sitting still, you can learn how to meditate in motion.

Here are some ideas for meditation that don’t require you to stop moving:

Walk With Intention

You can practice this one whether you are going for a long walk or just walking across a parking lot. Focus your attention on your breath. Notice how your lungs feel as they expand and contract. See if you can feel the air moving past your lips, or into your nostrils. Slow your breath, deepen it. Notice your feet and how they connect with the ground. See if you can feel the pressure of the soles of your feet all the way from heel to toe. Slow your steps (not if you in a parking lot!) to really feel the whole movement of each step.

Repeat Repeat Repeat

It may seem counter-intuitive, but I find my best movement meditations happen when I’m doing something active, but repetitive. Like shoveling dirt from one place to another in the garden, swimming laps, spinning yarn, or knitting on a simple pattern. I’ve heard other describe the same benefits from running and practicing Nia. Clear head, in the midst of motion. Just concentrate on what you are doing, rather than what you are thinking about. Any time you notice you are wrapped back up in “thinking about,” re-focus your attention on your activity, how your body feels, what your breath is doing. It takes a little bit of practice, but just keep coming back to focus your attention each time it strays.

Conscious Breathing

Most of our breathing happens unconsciously (good thing!). But there’s a good reason that the first instruction of most meditation practices is, “focus on your breath.” It is always with you, it is repetitive, it is life-sustaining. The easiest and most accessible way to do this is to simply pause, wherever you are, and consciously take a few cycles of breath (Liz recommends 5 breaths as a great centering exercise). It might help to breathe in with a short mantra, like “I am here.” Then breath out with a different one, like “I am calm,” or “I am enough.” Bring your focus into your body, onto your inhalations and exhalations, and let go everything external for the length of those breaths.

Use Creative Focus

Last week I wrote about how coloring is a great way to relax, and I mentioned above that my head clears when I am knitting. Another way I love to calm my mind is with drawing. It is amazing how you can get to know the details of an object when you draw it. You don’t need to have great skills to do this. Try contour drawing, or just try to capture your impression of a scene or object. Notice not only what you can see, but what you can hear, smell, and feel. Get all of your senses engaged.

Do Yoga

Although most Westerners think of Yoga as a form of exercise, the original intent of the asanas was to limber and strengthen the body and train the breath to support a meditation practice. In the right class and with the right teacher, yoga can be as meditative as, well, meditation. Look for a flow or Vinyassa class, which links the poses together to the rhythm of the breath. If you are looking for even deeper relaxation, try a gentle yoga or a restorative yoga class. I feel so calm and centered at the end of a restorative class.

Do you have a meditation practice? What kind of meditation do you find most beneficial?

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Coloring Books for Adults Are The New Way To Relax

Coloring books for adults are the new way to relax and unwind. :: www.nurturedmama.net

The first time I came across a coloring book designed especially for adults was in my local upscale stationary store. I was looking for a new coloring book for my daughter, but my eye was drawn to a display of large, beautiful books published by Usborne for grownups. Of course I had to get one. Since then I’ve been hooked.

I’ve seen mandala coloring bookscoloring patterns drawn by well-known illustrators and books with detailed designs in the style of Zendoodles.

Why so popular? Well, it turns out that coloring is good for adults in exactly the same way it is good for children. Focus on coloring a page stills our minds, while also stimulating the brain areas that control motor skills, creativity, and the senses (at least 3 of them, please don’t eat your crayons!).

Psychologist Gloria Martinez Ayala, quoted in this article from Huffpost Spain,  describes how coloring activates both halves of the brain and promotes relaxation:

The action involves both logic, by which we color forms, and creativity, when mixing and matching colors. This incorporates the areas of the cerebral cortex involved in vision and fine motor skills [coordination necessary to make small, precise movements]. The relaxation that it provides lowers the activity of the amygdala, a basic part of our brain involved in controlling emotion that is affected by stress.

What do you need to get yourself this kind of relaxation? Not much, which is another benefit of the activity – you can do it almost anywhere. You just need a picture to color and something to color with. Crayonscolored pencils, markers or gel pens all work fine. No special art supplies are required and there is no wrong way to do this.

Here are some of the coloring books I seen for grown ups:

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Mandalas

Mandala patterns were used in relaxation therapies by Carl Jung in the early 20th century. The form is even older – the word “mandala” comes from Sanskrit and means “circle” or “spirit” and in eastern culture represents the universe or unity. Some believe that focusing on a question or intent while coloring or drawing a mandala is a powerful way to facilitate meditation and access your inner intuition.

 

 

Fun Designs

 

Intricate Designs

 

Print Your Own!

  • I have a printable coloring sheets board on Pinterest with links to pages for both children and adults. Most of these are free.
  • If you sign up for Dover’s email list, they send out free coloring sheets to subscribers regularly
  • There are also sites that have free mandala coloring pages for either kids or adults.

So the next time your kids want to color, pull out your own coloring book and join them. Coloring is now a favorite after-dinner-but-before-bed activity in our house.

Do you have a favorite grown-up coloring book? Share it in the comments!

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