Make Memories as a Family by Working Together

2017-06-25d-Trimming the Backyard

*You can view the family project video, Trimming Branches here.

In today’s modern culture it seems that most families spend time together by going to a restaurant, attending a sports event or shopping. Yet why not rethink this routine? What about a family project?

A few weeks ago my husband and children had a great time trimming overgrown branches in our backyard. Our daughter Winter took time to ride her bike in the summer air and our young son Orion created a little pool of mud throughout the activity.  The kids learned about basic lawn management while enjoying the day with their parents. Of course we got a fantastic workout and a new clear view through our windows.

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*Working with my Dad Jimmy Hotz, 1989 through the 1990s.

Working together in a family business could also yield wonderful memories while teaching the children valuable job skills. One of the greatest memories of my lifetime was working side by side with my Dad, Jimmy Hotz (inventor, musician, producer). Starting at the age of 14, I began an internship in the home studio. There I learned the basics of clerical, administrative, graphic design, music and technology skills which have been foundational in all of my work.

I continued professionally with his company for many years. We also did family projects working together organizing the garage, with Mom Nancy Hotz and siblings. It was a lot of work, yet remains a nice memory for me. I love you Mom and Dad!

Keep a Journal for Posterity

2017-07-18b Keep a Journal

In this weeks YouTube video topic I cover why we should journal for posterity. I also discuss why:

*Historically journals have been used as essential pieces of literature.
*The most simple record of ones day, may be highly valuable to those in the future.
*Lists and schedules make great journal entries.
*We should make a printed copy of your digital journal as formats change over time!

My Morning Routine 2017

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One of the most profound ways we can impact our day is by designing a morning routine. It’s remarkable the magic we can bring into our lives by taking the time to plan and implement this ritual. Below is a quick overview of a typical morning. The greatest part is that I can change it at anytime. Be sure to check out my YouTube video: My Morning Routine 2017.
5:00am to 5:45am:

*Wake, brush teeth, weight, dress, turn on lights, fix hair

*Brew coffee, clean bathrooms, put on makeup.

*Enjoy coffee for 20 minutes while reading blogs or a magazine.

*View calendar and key tasks for the day.

*Write on blog for 20 minutes.

*Make breakfast. Usually a Spinach, Mushroom and Bacon Frittata with Buttery Yellow Corn Tortillas.

*Exercise for 20 minutes as breakfast cooks.

You may observe that my morning routine includes being completely ready for the day, reviewing key tasks, cleaning my environment, exercise, preparing a healthy breakfast, relaxation time and time carved out for a long term goal. These elements combined work in concert, making each morning something I truly look forward to. Now design your own ideal morning!

Unplug and Take a Digital Detox!

Article by Rain San Martin

Escape from Continual Internet Distractions and Experience Life Naturally

A PodCast by Invisible Office Hours illustrates that we have reached the pinnacle of matrix-like immersion in their episode, “Social Media Part 1“. While at a Starbucks coffee shop during a social media fast, the co-host Jason Zook observed a person continually staring down into their smartphone even as they ordered. The show host did an experiment to see if paying for this persons drink would make them lift their locked eyes if only for one moment. The result: A glazed over stare into the black hole of the internet as they casually said “thanks”. He observed that we are afraid of being alone, even for a moment. This is more than becoming a cyborg, this is living for a continual state of “dopamine” like levels of stimulation as we are entertained in the online world.

Social media has it’s place for connecting family, friends and sharing news stories. Technology can be an excellent tool if used judicially. However, living primarily in the online world is artificial and will take a toll on our health, mind and relationships. Break free from “connection addition”.

What To Do During a Digital Detox

Create a regular habit where you unplug from podcasts, texting, social media, gaming, television, movies, radio, computers and all mobile devices. Imagine you have gone away to a log cabin bed and breakfast. Recharge your batteries for either a day, a weekend or a few hours. I personally unplug from all electronics 24 hours once per week, with the exception of my digital camera. On regular days technological entertainment is used sparingly.

  • Read classic literature. If you own a Nook or Kindle this is a great tool to have for deep reading sessions. A dedicated “e ink” reader is stratospherically better than using a tablet or even an iPad Retina as there are no online distractions.The display has crystal clear paper-like text. However, during your unplugged time aim to have physical books and quality magazines with fine journalism on hand, which you can checkout at the library.
  • Have a deep conversation with a person in your family.
  • Watch your children play.
  • Clean your home like a monk, enjoying the serenity of peaceful natural sounds as you bless your home space.
  • Draw a picture
  • Daydream
  • Create a happiness journal
  • Paint with kids watercolors
  • Write a letter by hand. Observe the penmanship during the Victorian and Classical Era’s. If you look at the Declaration of Independence, you observe excellence of craft. Could it be that penmanship reflects discipline and integrity?
  • Reflect on who you are at your core
  • Make a phone call with all smart-phone notifications turned off. You may wish to consider owning only a basic cell phone. Some have gone back to having a land line to restore their freedom!
  • Write a letter by hand
  • Play with your children
  • Go on a walk, bike ride or hike
  • Read a book or magazine from the library, or a physical copy that you own
  • Journal
  • Do projects around the home
  • Talk to your spouse about life. Develop your relationship. Save concerns for later, and gently put in writing.

Boost Brain Power by Reading Classic Literature and Articles in Their Entirety

As we aim to boost creativity, productivity, and focus on our life purpose, we need to exercise our brain with a series of disciplines. At the peek of human intelligence, the Victorian Era, immersive reading and letters written by hand were a regular ritual. Classic literature is more likely to encourage deep thinking according to the article, “Shakespeare and Wordsworth boost the brain new research reveals”. Now in this “age of immediacy” we are at risk for “intellectual obesity”, as we train our minds to be satisfied by info snippets and lack discipline to focus on one task at a time. The Forbes magazine article: “Kids Don’t Read Books Because Parents Don’t Read Books” illustrates that parents are no longer modeling good reading habits in this age of entertainment. The good news is, we can change.

One of the best activities to experience while unplugged from the internet is deep immersive reading. I recommend getting a dedicated eReader so you can continue to read without the distraction of apps or internet connection. Read for comprehension, not speed so that you can absorb what you are learning. When we slow down our reading to where we can comprehend the information, we trigger deep levels of thinking.

Reading Classic Literature as a Discipline: My Testimony

I’ve maintained the habit of nightly reading for 15 years, it was a natural cure for insomnia as it cancels out the minds thoughts. I had no idea what a voracious reader I would become, pouring through volumes of books throughout the years. On the rare occasion that I would wake in the middle of the night, I would turn to my reading habit. A couple of years ago I challenged myself to make reading classic literature a part of my nightly reading routine. For about 20-45min each evening I would read the Bible or a Christian informational book, a nonfiction book (this I most anticipated) and a classic literature book. Initially I was resistant to reading fiction Classics as they did not hold my interest. I could not connect with the culture or expressions, and the vocabulary was challenging. Walden Pond, Little Woman and The Hobbit were the only classics I thoroughly enjoyed at the time. Then I decided to take on a challenge and create a new habit. Many classic books were from the Google Books Library Project. Thanks to this discovery, I have access to forgotten history books on inventors, composers and explorers written during the late 1800’s. I was astounded by the rich vocabulary, work ethic and respect in the various authors voice. Today’s biographies are primarily tabloid story moments. As thought they hope to bring down the greatest achievers. As a result I found myself using exponentially more vocabulary words in speech and in writing. Now when I read a modern book I am usually disappointed that I rarely have to look up a word.

Is Texting Dumbing Down Language?

How can culture preserve language when the ubiquity of texting has replaced letter and even email composition? We may lose thoughtful writing as a society if we continue on this trajectory of shorthand urban language used in mobile communication. Some argue this is harmless and a separate language within itself, yet how many prolific texters develop well composed paragraphs throughout the week? Without regular use, muscles atrophy, as does the skill of writing. Technological trends need not always be embraced. We should ask ourselves, “Is this progress”? There is also the trend of fewer pc and laptop sales. Let’s think about the implications of this in regards to communication? How do you think it will impact society once the masses no longer use computer keyboards?

Boost Your Intelligence by Modeling Forgotten Secrets of the Victorians

According to an article on Phys.com entitled: Researchers Suggest Victorian-Era People More Intelligent than Modern-Day Counterparts“, a study was done that proved Victorians possessed higher intelligence than today’s modern individual. The Victorians wrote thoughtful letters by hand. Today the art of handwriting is being forgotten. Auto-suggest writes for us as we type. Often Victorians played a musical instrument if they wanted music in their home. Today all one need do is pull up Spotify or Pandora and passively listen. The craft of studying music is being forgotten. The Victorians held a higher standard of excellence which was displayed in their work ethic and fashion. Pick up any book written in the late 1800’s and observe the rich vocabulary and eloquence of speech. Why do you think people who lived during the Victorian Era were more intelligent than people today?

Today’s Steampunk counterculture movement is highly motivated by an appreciation for lost ideals. Fine literature, penmanship, manners, dress, hands-on craftsmanship and other lost arts of humanity, reflected a greater sense of pride in ones work.

Reduce Digital Distractions During Your Work Day

These workday productivity tips will maximize your day whether you hold a full time paid position, work at home as a homemaker (AKA stay at home mom or stay at home wife), work from a home office or do a combination of the above.

  • Turn off all phone or mobile device notifications. Speaker / Author Seth Godin in his mini blog post “Five steps to digital hygiene” shares a nugget of wisdom, declaring that we should disable our social and mail notifications on our mobile devices.This is hugely important as we don’t want to train ourselves to continually be interrupted. Instead schedule specific times for checking email, social networks and game play.
  • Check your email no more than 1-3 times per day. Set up a daily check in time. Many simplicity experts recommend checking once in the late morning, after completing a meaningful task and again in the late afternoon.
  • Check into social media sites at scheduled times and use a timer. This could range from 1-2 times per day for 5-10 minutes, or once per week for 10-60 minutes.

 

Take a Social Media Detox as a Lifestyle Experiment

Pick a month to abstain from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and any other social media site you participate in as part of a Lifestyle Experiment.

It is paramount not to replace this time with digital entertainment such as texting, gaming and surfing the web as part of this exercise is to learn how to “break out of the matrix”. Learn how to enjoy life organically as humans have for millennia.

Conclusion

Is life about pleasure or meaning? Technology is a tool, overuse leads to depravity of the mind and relationships. After you’ve taken a digital detox consider ways to reduce your time texting, on social networks, surfing the web, watching tv and even listening to podcasts or music. Add them back into your life sparingly so that the focus of your waking life is organic and natural, just as our ancestors lived before the 1900s. Step out of the matrix, rip off the “Truman Show” artificial dome and breakout into life.

My Simple Holiday Plan

Article and photo’s by Rain San Martin

*You may also listen to a Podcast version of this article on my YouTube channel!

The Holidays have been known to be one of the most stressful times of the year. This is especially true for women who are usually the ones working behind the scenes baking, preparing cards, gift shopping, decorating and more.  The good news is that you can give yourself permission to omit any traditions that you feel no longer add joy to your life. At first this may feel awkward, yet with time you may rediscover the simplicity and joy of the holiday season that you knew as a child!

Get Inspired by visiting Pinterest or Reading Magazines

In Pinterest I typed in a couple of key words such as “rustic Thanksgiving”  and it yielded inspirational pictures and how-to articles. This is a great way to do a quick brain storming session for home decor, meals and activities. Make your own boards for future reference. I personally have created two key boards including: Fall Magic and Winter Magic which take me through the Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and winter seasons. You can also read beautiful magazines such as Martha Stewart Living or find inspiration in the how-to articles of your personal favorite magazines. One of the best ways to get motivated is to visit the Flylady website (AKA: Marla Cilley) and view her “Cruising Through the Holidays Missions” in article and video format. They are so inspirational and motivating!

Holiday Cards

This year my large roll of return address sticker labels were nearly empty. So I returned to SuperiorLabels.com to reorder, yet decided to buy something more vintage inspired. Self-adhesive labels (stickers) were invented in 1935 by Stan Avery, as a return address format. Along with that invention came today’s modern sticker. Yet I am longing for more household items from the older world. Sarah Chrisman of ThisVictorianLife.com has stated that she has gradually replaced modern day items with those of the past. A personal goal of mine is to live a hybrid life both in the modern world, yet bringing many staples from the past. Living as a time-traveler would. As not all technology is progress. I recommend buying holiday postage stamps online, as there is a larger selection of festive stamps. Also keep your recipient list simple!

Decorations 

Come September I begin to put up fall themed decorations as I like to get the absolute most out of this season, my favorite time each year. This year I will following the more traditional custom of waiting until the day after Thanksgiving to decorate for Christmas. I’ve begun to incorporate more classic rustic “winter” themed decorations such as pine cones, evergreen trimmings and wood. This way I can enjoy these decorations throughout the winter season rather than having to remove them all after Christmas is over.

My Simple Gift Plan

Give individual gifts for your friends and relatives throughout the year, yet during Christmas consider a generic gift, making your holiday considerably more simple. For your immediate family and grand-kids you can follow a modest budget and complete your shopping before Thanksgiving arrives. I personally use Shutterfly to make beautiful photo books. I can then ship these directly to the recipient.


Thanksgiving Dinner and Christmas Dinner

Three weeks before thanksgiving I begin buying groceries for Thanksgiving. Rather than think about elaborate meals I go for a classic country style Thanksgiving dinner. Usually I purchase 3-4 pre-made  items to help out. Both growing up and in my immediate family Stove Top Stuffing, Pillsbury Crescent Rolls and Sparkling Cider were store bought family holiday staples. Homemade whipped cream is still unmatched by a landslide however. I recommend taking the extra time to whip it up just before serving your pie, everyone will be amazed! This year I plan to make:

Roasted Turkey

Mashed Garlic Red Potatoes

Green beans with bacon

Savory Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Bought items include:

Pumpkin Pie

Stove Top Stuffing  ( purchased and pre-made )

Pillsbury Crescent Rolls ( purchased and pre-made)

For some Thanksgiving is their favorite holiday of the year. Find ways to bring the magic of this holiday into your life.

Opting Out, Graciously Saying No and My No Holiday Travel Policy

When a person wants to invite you somewhere or invite you to an event it is actually an honor that they thought of you. Rather than feeling a sense of debt and obligation simply reply: Thank you so much for thinking of me! At this time I am unable to do this however. Never give more than one explanation. If they counter offer with a solution to your explanation, simply state that you are simplifying your life. There may be a future opportunity where you can do something as well, yet not at this time. For me this meant a no holiday travel policy. Guests are welcome to eat with us at Thanksgiving, yet Christmas is limited to the immediate family of our household for simplicity.  This powerful limitation has helped me to return to the joys of the holidays. Bringing back more of the wonderment of childhood.

Now Rediscover the Joys of the Holiday Season

Once you have cleared your plate of all non-essentials you may start to remember more magical moments. When we are frazzled and stressed with the weight of responsibility it is normal to associate stress with the holiday season. We have the power to change that. Saying “no” in a loving manner frees up time. Decluttering our possessions and keeping our home more tidy makes our space feel more breathable and relaxing. Keeping to a simple budget and streamlining our gift exchange list will save us time and money. Simplifying holiday decor and cooking will give us more time to rest.  Get inspired by viewing homey Pinterest images and read uplifting homemaking articles, this will spark a joy and motivation for the season. You may even clear out the cobwebs of your memories to Christmas’s from long ago, when life was more simple and the wonderment of Christmas was alive in your heart!


Sources:

History of the “Sticker” by

https://www.mavericklabel.com/blog/history-of-the-sticker/

R. Stanton Avery, 90, Inventor and Producer of Self-Sticking Labels

History of Rubber Stamps

http://www.companyseal.com/history-of-rubber-stamps/

8 Crafty and Simple Halloween / Fall Bucket List Ideas

 Article and photos by Rain San Martin

The fall is my favorite season of the year! Once September hits I start to transition mentally to the flavors of pumpkin and eerie aesthetics. The bucket list is not an obligation, it is an inspiration. I’m free to change it as I go. After reading this list, why not make one for yourself?

Here’s my list:

Decorate mantel in living room for the fall / Halloween.

With regard to decorations, I like to keep things simple. That’s why having two main focal points in the home (or one’s apartment) is a fantastic solution. Pinterest in my go-to spot for inspiration! Using streamer, candles, decorative leaves and lanterns. The mantel top was arranged by my husband Sage and includes a few natural fall leaves which he preserved using Mog Podge. One side benefit of enthusiastically doing DIY projects or decorating the home, is that the whole family has gotten involved.  My husband and two children have all made wonderful decorations including window silhouettes.

Make Pumpkin Patch Smoothies.

When I do my bi-weekly shopping (twice per month) I stock up on banana’s which I freeze. Usually buying 8 bunches. These are the base for excellent smoothies, making ice irrelevant.  I prepare these  with pumpkin puree, frozen banana’s, pumpkin spice, milk, vanilla and a touch of evaporated cane juice. This icy beverage has nutritious beta carotene and the banana’s aid in concentration. No need to buy an energy drink from a smoothie shop, you’ll feel a natural buzz that will energize you for hours! Serve in small iced mason jars decorated with jack-o-lantern faces and you’ll have a crafty beverage.

Decorate front porch for fall / Halloween.

Decorating the front porch during the fall is one of my favorite events. This year I placed orange lights around the perimeter of the front door, which I lightly secured in place with a few small nails. A large pumpkin sits to the side of our antique country rocking chair.  Behind the glass door hangs a sign stating “It’s Autumn” and a home-made banner with the words “Boo” created by my son. It announces to passers by that the season is in full effect.  The porch as a focal point is perfect for today’s lifestyle minimalist. By limiting the exterior decor to the porch, there is no need to feel the urge to buy inflatable yard decorations or elaborate scenes. If you are inspired to further decorate try your hand at classy window silhouettes.

Make “Hot Caramel”. 

Our local chocolatier, Debrands Chocolate makes the most decadent hot caramel drink. The idea seemed novel to me, so I ventured to make one of my own at home. I prepared home-made caramel, melted it with warm whole milk and topped with homemade whipped cream. Truly amazing!   If you are daunted with the idea of making it from scratch (and who can blame you!) there are wrapped caramels that you can melt into warmed milk. Caramel sauce in a container could be your third option. Of course you can spray on canned whipped cream.

Make Luminary Mason Jars.

You can up-cycle nice looking over sized mason jars for a beautiful DIY project. You usually need mason jars, color spray such as Krylon Shimmer Metallic Spray and a Fine Tip Black Paint Pen. Though I did my own take on the project by painting the jar by hand. I did a color gradient of black fading to orange then yellow as a base. Next I free handed the picture on a piece of paper rather than print out stencils. Some tutorials have you trace the drawn image onto the jar with a black paint pen or fine paint brush.  Because my painting base was very opaque I instead cut out the silhouette, then traced it’s edges onto my jar. Next I painted in the details. Google images has a lot of inspiration and simple lines from which to get ideas when creating a Halloween jar silhouette. When it comes to craft tools my goals is to simplify the tools needed,  adapting the technique.  This is not only apart of the minimalist lifestyle, it is how people lived centuries ago.

Get inspired! Go on a sunset bike-ride or walk to view decorations.

I’ve started an annual tradition of viewing my neighbors festive displays via bike ride. The cool autumn breeze, glowing Halloween lights, flickering Jack-o-lanterns, front doors dressed in golden fall wreaths, and spooky displays are a wonder to take in. Plus sticking with a fitness lifestyle will help you to stay trim throughout the upcoming Holiday season.   I often have 3-5 different routes I take so I can view different parts of the neighborhood. A brisk twilight hour walk is another way to take in the atmosphere. Time passes very quickly if we don’t stop to take in seasonal moments. A Holiday celebration is so much more than the day itself, it’s the season!

Prepare or Buy a Pumpkin Spice Coffee Drink.

There are many enthusiasts who kick off the fall season with their first Pumpkin Spice Latte.  I enjoyed one from Barnes and Noble in our local mall at Glenbrook Square While browsing the shop I took in the inspirational ambience and picked up a Christmas gift to stow away. Of course I recommend making your own pumpkin spice coffee drinks at home on other days.

Craft a DIY Halloween branch centerpiece. 

This is a simple DIY (Do It Yourself) craft, which can be adapted for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Most people use spray-paint, yet I like to use methods from the older world as much as possible.  I start by gathering a selection of slim twigs. Next I lay them down on paper as I paint the surface with black acrylic paint. After completing each branch I sprinkle on a dusting of fine silver glitter. Once the branches have dried I arrange them together in a vase or mason jar and fill with pebbles. There are a few optional finishing touches such as wrapping a ribbon or lace around the perimeter. You can also draw and cut out bats or crows which are placed within the branches.

Simmer Oranges, Nutmeg, Cloves, Apples, and Cinnamon

The first time I became aware of the practice of simmering scents, the idea seemed like a revelation. I was on a holiday home tour when I thought surely someone must be baking apple pie! The scent came from the kitchen. Though I was disappointed there were no treats to sample, I was fascinated by the concept. A pan simmering oranges, nutmeg, cloves, apples and cinnamon could create the most wondrous fragrance. It gave one an immediate sense of calm and homeyness.

Enjoy the wonderful of the fall!