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 BIGinsight.com 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

Get Organized Month

Although it’s not quite Spring Cleaning time, the weather is too cold for most of us to plan for outdoor activities. With that being said, why not use this time to get yourself organized? While I consider myself very organized, deep down I definitely have a small hoarding issue—it’s a problem that effects between five and 14 million Americans1! Recently, I started going through my apartment and getting rid of anything and everything I could, and I encourage you to do the same.

In recognition of Get Organized Month, let’s chat and chew about the benefits of being organized and some DIY tips to help get you started.

Some of the Facts

  • 80% of what we keep we never use.2
  • A survey conducted by Ikea reported that, on average, people spend 6 minutes looking for their KEYS in the morning.3
  • Americans spend 9 million hours each day looking for things.4
  • In an average home, getting rid of clutter eliminates 40 percent of housework.4
  • 23% of adults pay bills late and incur fees because they misplace their bills.4,5

IKEA_Storage_Infographic_04.13_v8THE BENEFITS

  • Feel less stressed. When you’re in a rush and can’t find something, your blood pressure goes up, as does your stress level. This not only affects your health, it can negatively impact your mood. Relationships can be tested if arguments arise over lost items, forgotten errands, missed appointments, and messy spaces. When you live (and work) in an organized space, everything has its place, greatly decreasing the likelihood of misplacing something.
  • Spend more time with family. When you’re not spending every spare moment cleaning or looking for something, it opens up a lot of free time. Whether it’s watching a movie, making dinner together, or playing a game, by being organized, you have the ability to devote more time to the people that matter most.
  • Regiment your medications better. Being organized does not stop at the front door; you can take these new found skills on the road as well. If you have a busy life and often forget to take your medication(s), either set an alarm or try an app like MedCoach, which sends reminders to your smartphone when it’s time to take a vitamin or prescription. You can easily stay on top of your medication(s) by using a pill-sorting container from your local pharmacy as well.
  • Exercise more often. While I sometimes use my bathtub as a second closet, others might look to their treadmill for another clothing rack. This is a big no-no because now the treadmill is less accessible. When you have to search for exercise equipment, running shoes, or a DVD, the chances of working out greatly decrease. When you can easily pack a bag to hit the gym after work, you are less likely to make excuses about why you can’t go. 
  • Have healthier eating habits. When you have snacks lying around the kitchen, or worse, a highly disorganized cabinet system, your motivation to cook (and clean) goes out the window. When you opt for quick, easy-to-grab snacks, or you eat out often, you’re filling your body with empty calories and larger portions than if you were to prepare a meal instead. Growing up, my dad used to make a meal plan for our family—between practices, piano lessons, and the general chaos three daughters can cause, it helped everyone stay on schedule and eat healthier (i.e. less fast food). 
  • Have a cleaner home. One of the major benefits being organized can have is a better living environment. When you have junk lying around, it collects dust, or worse—a study in the journal of Environmental Science & Technology found that ordinary house dust may contain arsenic, decomposing insects, pollen, human skin, fecal matter from dust mites, and even DDT. Eliminating clutter means eliminating all the above.

THE HOW

People have become very creative with how they recycle items for storage around the house. These storage and organizing ideas are ideal for hallways and small spaces, while ice cube trays can be used to store jewelry or smaller knickknacks. For more ideas, check out this list of 58 creative home organizing tips and DIY projects!

While taking on a big project like organizing your house can be daunting, no one said it had to be done in a day. Chunk out the process one room at a time—the progress will seem slow, but the reward will be worth it! Have some organizing tips of your own? Share with us below! Check out our Pinterest board with more DIY projects as well.

References:

  1. Scientific American
  2. National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO)
  3. Ikea (via the Organizing Boutique)
  4. American Demographics Society (via Simply Orderly)
  5. Harris Interactive

Hanukkah: History & Traditions

Hanukkah

Image / Copyright © Compass Rose Benefits Group.


Hanukkah, or Chanukah, which means “dedication” in Hebrew, is the eight-day and eight-night festival of light.  The Jewish holiday celebrates a miracle that symbolizes faith and never losing hope.  Hanukkah begins at sundown today, December 16th and ends on Wednesday, December 24th.

In preparation of Hanukkah, let’s chat and chew about its history and traditions.

THE HISTORY: WITNESSING A MIRACLE

Hanukkah commemorates the successful rebellion of the Jewish freedom fighters called the Maccabees against the Greeks in the Maccabean War. (More) After their victory, a ritual cleansing and re-dedication of the Temple took place.

After restoring the Holy Temple, only enough consecrated oil was found to keep the menorah’s candles burning for one-day; yet, the flames remained lit for eight nights!  This event is why Hanukkah is referred to as the Feast of Lights or Festival of Lights.

HANUKKAH TRADITIONS

  1. Light the Menorah: The Menorah—a candelabrum that holds nine candles—is the centerpiece of the Hanukkah celebration.  Eight of the candles symbolize the number of days the oil lasted, which are placed in the Menorah right to left, BUT lit left to right.  The ninth candle, known as the Shamash, is used to help light the other candles. Families light one new candle every day after sundown during the eight days Hanukkah, while saying prayers and singing songs.
  1. Holiday Songs: Speaking of singing, Hanukkah has its own carols that are sung around the Menorah.  Songs are about a variety of things—topics range from the glory of God and the ancient Temple of the Jews, to the iconic dreidel. See a list of songs here.
  1. Tasty Foods: As with most holidays, Hanukkah comes with traditional foods that are always served—but you don’t have to celebrate Hanukkah to enjoy them!  If you’re looking for some new twists on traditional foods, see below for some yummy, HEALTHIER, Hanukkah recipes to try in the coming days.
  1. Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel: Playing with dreidels, or spinning tops, is customary during the holiday.   Sometimes bets will be placed on which side of the dreidel will fall face up.  The story goes “that Jews played with the dreidel in order to fool the Greeks if they were caught studying Torah, which had been outlawed.” (More)  The characters carved into the four sides of the dreidel are the letters nun, gimmel, hey, and shin, which represent nes gabol haya sham­, or “a great miracle happened there.”
  1. Gold Coins: Better Homes and Gardens describes that the tradition of handing out gelt—the Yiddish word for “money”—dates back to 17th century Poland.  It’s suggested that the gesture relates back to after the Maccabean revolt—the only time Jews were historically free to mint their own coins, in their own state. (More)

If you have some recipes or family traditions of your own, please feel free to share with us!  In the meantime, check out our Pinterest board, where you’ll find fun DIY Hanukkah-inspired activities and more recipes to enjoy this holiday season!