Healthy Tips to Check Twice


If you’re already feeling rundown from the last minute shopping and preparing before the holidays wrap up in the next week, don’t be afraid to give yourself a break these next two days. You’re better off resting and recharging the batteries at home—maybe even sitting around a fireplace visiting with a friend—so do your best to find a balance. Continue reading

Healthy Holiday Tips


The holiday season is a time to celebrate with family and friends. Unfortunately, for many it also becomes a time for over-eating and weight gain. According to the National Institutes of Health, holiday eating can result in an extra pound or two every year. Over a lifetime, holiday weight gain can really add up. The holidays don’t have to mean weight gain. Focus on a healthy balance of food, activity, and fun. By implementing a few simple tips you can stay healthy through the holiday season. Continue reading

Luck of the Irish

Today is St. Patrick’s Day, and while it’s very easy to get caught up in the fun, happy-go-lucky nature of the holiday, there are many interesting facts about the worldwide celebration.  For starters, research by showed that Americans spend an average of $38.94 every year on St. Patrick’s Day—that’s $4.5 billion! (1) Also, Americans exchange around 8 million cards for the Irish holiday.  Although St. Patrick’s Day has only been observed in American since the late eighteenth century, it’s clear it has made a lasting impression. Continue reading

For the love of pets.


Despite the look on my mother’s face when I brought a 4-month old puppy home from college, I knew I made the right decision. As someone who grew up with dogs, cats, fish, and a bird, I know first-hand the difference owning a pet can have on someone’s life. Research also shows that the benefits reach far beyond the general feeling of joy we experience when our furry friend greets us at the door. Between physical and mental health benefits, it’s clear that non-pet owners are missing out on more than just a loving companion. 

Today marks the “unofficial” national holiday, Love Your Pet Day, so let’s chat and chew about how owning a pet can improve your life.

They get you moving. Raising a puppy was no easy task—I became very familiar with the I-have-ten-seconds-before-I-pee-on-the-floor-look. It did, however, force me to take mental breaks throughout the day. Owning a pet gets you outside, gives you an energy boost, and allows you to blow off steam. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or had a bad day, it’s proven that once you see your pet’s face you automatically cheer up! Plus, mainly for fellow dog owners, you can always count on your pet to take a long walk with you or play at the park. But hey, if you just want to curl up on the couch, your pet will be right by your side too.

They help you be more social. Pets are a great conversation starter. Let’s face it—we love showing off the hundreds of photos we have saved on our phones. Not only is walking your pet great for relationships, they can help foster interpersonal skills as well, says Alan Entin, a psychologist and past president of the American Psychological Association’s Division of Family Psychology. “Being outside with a dog helps you meet people,” Entin says. Ultimately, “…that helps improve your social life.”

They make you laugh. Pets have quirky things they randomly do that no one can understand—we can’t help but burst into laughter. Froma Walsh, co-director of the Chicago Center for Family Health and a Professor Emerita at the University of Chicago, says, “They bring laughter and humor into our stressful lives and encourage us in playful ways.” Pets are a good reminder that we need to enjoy our lives and not take things so seriously all the time.

They reduce allergies and asthma, and build immunity. Surprisingly, research shows that children who grew up in homes with 2 or more dogs or cats were less than half as likely to develop common allergies to things such as, dust, grass, ragweed, and pet allergies. 

They help you love yourself. Owning a pet helps instill a sense of purpose and can boost your self-esteem. They also help people who suffer from depression or tend to feel lonely. In general, pets offer unconditional love, never judge, and are always willing to listen. There’s something so special about the way pets can help you see the light at the end of the tunnel—and rarely does it take much effort.

They help reduce stress. While pet-ownership in and of itself can reduce emotional stress, when you pet or play with your animal, touch and movement provides sensory stress relief as well. 

While the list goes on, these reasons alone can be enough to sway anyone into getting a pet; however, pet-ownership is not for everyone. Getting a pet in college came with its challenges—puppies are VERY time consuming, not to mention, expensive. If you have the means to raise your pet right, then go for it! If not, don’t set yourself and the animal up for failure. The benefits of owning a pet are not going to disappear anytime soon.

Consider volunteering at a local shelter until you’re ready to bring your best friend home – you might just stumble upon your perfect companion who’s up for adoption!

10 New Year’s Eve Ideas for the Family


New Year’s is one of my favorite holidays—it’s an excuse to get dressed up, enjoy the city lights, and hang out with my closest friends. However, for families with younger kids, the all-night celebration might be harder to swing. Don’t let that stop you from enjoying yourself; ring in the New Year with this countdown of fun activities for the whole family!

  1. Party Supplies: Rather than purchase party supplies, gather the kids for a fun crafting project. Once the clock strikes twelve, you’ll be ready to celebrate with homemade hats, noisemakers, and confetti!
  1. Mock Countdown: If your kids are too young to stay up till twelve, enjoy the celebration a little early by turning the clocks ahead a few hours. Or, celebrate when it becomes midnight in a different country! With worldwide TV coverage (of major cities), you can choose when your family will celebrate!
  1. Balloon Drop: Seeing the ball drop live in Times Square is a once in a lifetime experience. Create the same exciting New York atmosphere in the comfort of your own home by taping a balloon-filled net to the ceiling and release them once the countdown reaches midnight!
  1. New Year’s Toast: While it won’t involve champagne, kids can certainly be a part of the evening’s toast. Make some yummy hot chocolate, or get a bottle of sparkling cider, and let the youngsters drink from a fancy cup—maybe even decorate them ahead of time!
  1. New Year’s Eve Games: Keep the whole family entertained with New Year’s themed party games! From guessing resolutions to singing karaoke, there’s plenty to do. Check out this list of 30 Awesome New Year’s Eve Games for Kids.
  1. Photo Booth Fun: Photo booths can be expensive to rent, so create your very own this New Year’s Eve. Check out this list of fun photo booth party ideas for ways to snap some final memories in 2014! Here are some FREE photo props to help get you started!
  1. Dinner and a Show: Ring in the New Year with your family’s favorite meal and movie. Have old family movies? Share them with your kids and show them how you celebrated holidays growing up!
  1. Resolution Tree: Putting away all the decorations can be a sad chore—it officially marks the end of the holiday season. Put a new spin on the activity by replacing ornaments with resolutions written on small note cards. Have the family decide on 1 or 2 goals that everyone will work on—in addition to personal ones—like eating healthier, exercising weekly, or simply spending more time together.
  1. Capturing Memories: Fill an old shoebox with photos, tickets, and other mementoes from special events or trips in 2014. Pick the top ten most memorable times the family had together, and stash it away to revisit at a later date!
  1. Make Countdown Bags: Start the evening’s festivities using countdown bags! Check out this version, or make one up of your very own.

Whether your New Year’s Eve plans include a night on the town or a night on the couch, there’s nothing stopping you from enjoying yourself. Kids love to celebrate just as much as adults so don’t stop the party just because you may not want to leave your house. Enjoy a family-filled evening of fun—it’s the perfect beginning to another year.