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I often get so wrapped up in the busy-ness of my life that I forget about the simple things I can do to impact the lives of others.  Charitable acts don’t have to be grand, time consuming or expensive.  My two favorite resources for ideas make it really easy to slip in good deeds wherever you may be…

Debbie Tenzers “nice-a-holic” website is a great resource for busy people to fit good deeds into their everyday.  Her email newsletter and website lists specific items needed for a cause and the address to send it to or on her faq page for her new book she lists everyday nice things you can do on your own.

The Random Acts of Kindness website also has wonderful resources for home, community and schools.  I especially love the simplicity of their free pdf download, great for hanging on your refrigerator or bulletin board as a reminder.

Wishing you a kind and happy Monday!

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I love to travel.  Going someplace new always inspires inventiveness and creativity.  On a recent family vacation to England, one of the many inspirations I took away from this trip was tea time.  Of course England and Tea time are synonymous, it seems very cliché to even mention it, but the English take their tea very seriously, more seriously than I imagined.  Tea was EVERYWHERE.

On one occasion we visited a garden center in search of a hostess gift.  The shop was very typical of an American shop, plants, flowers, pots, garden tools, etc. except that in the middle of the store was a tea shop.  No paper takeaway cups for this country.  A good, old fashioned, sit down tea complete with scones and jams.

I love tea and drank my fair share even before my visit to England.  But more important than the cup of tea is the ritual and pause that ‘tea time’ affords.  Taking time in mid afternoon to sit and relax with a cup of tea, muse about the day or the evening to come has become a new practice that I took away from my trip and reminds me of the beautiful country where tea is part of their culture.

Some of my favorites for Tea time:

1. Earl Grey Black Tea from Stash 30 ct ($3-5) at local Grocery stores, Walmart or online at Stashtea.com Stash makes the best Earl Grey with just the right amount of Bergamot.

2. Tea Infuser stick ($9.95) at Crate and Barrel.  It’s a decadent ritual to have a cup of tea made from loose tea. This Tea infuser stick makes it easy and portable.  The stainless portion of the stick makes scooping the loose tea easy and spill free, attach the diffuser end and set it into a cup of hot water.  Just stir and you have a luxurious cup of tea without the mess.

3. Organic White Honey ($17) from Volcano Island Honey in Hawaii, there aren’t words for how good this honey is, I could eat it right out of the jar with a spoon.   You can find it at their website but I’ve also seen it for sale at Whole foods.

4. Electric Tea Pot ($30) from Walmart.  I like this version, it heats up fast and the base is wired, not the pot which makes for easy service and cleanup.

5. Mate Chocolate, organic spiced yerba mate by Guayaki.  I love coffee and chocolate together but never enjoyed chocolate with tea until I found this brand.  It’s spicy and chocolaty without the overpowering licorice or clove flavor that other spiced chai teas have. YUM!

6. Stoneware Japanese mug, Pearl River ($6.50).  I have a handle-less stoneware mug that I found in a kitchen shop in Bar Harbor Maine, similar to this one.  I like having a special mug for tea, especially one without the handle so you can wrap your hands around it on cold days.

7. Tea Book, ($10) by EliteElishi on etsy.com.  America has lots of great coffee shops but not so many tea houses,  so I keep a few of my favorite tea bags in this padded envelope in my purse.  It’s especially great for travelling, the booklet keeps the tea packets from getting crushed or lost.

It may be officially Spring but here in New England we are still waking up to cold temperatures and cool, cloudy, windy days.  While spring fever causes some to peruse seed catalogs and dream of budding flowers and sowing vegetables I peruse the spring fashion catalogs, dreaming of sunny, warm beach days or family picnics.  Boden is in my top 10 picks for clothing design, but it’s a bit pricey.  I like the challenge of using Boden and some of my other favorites as inspiration and finding similar more affordable options to achieve the same look.

Boden’s Strappy jersey dress ($68)
Tie Espadrilles ($78)
Big Beach bag ($64.00)

 Grand total of $210.00

A similar look for $41.48!

Chadwick’s Cinched cover up ($12.99)

Payless Morgan espadrille ($24.99)

Amazon.com Daily Tote ($3.50)

Happy Spring!

It occurred to me the other day that my largest organ, the skin, deserves as much consideration to nourishment as the meals I choose to prepare.  A lot of emphasis, rightly so, is placed on proper nutrition, whole grains, vegetables, fruit, etc. But very little information is regularly available as to the effect of the chemicals we put on our skin daily.  But I recently found this article at Care2.com “Make your own natural body lotion” and decided to try it in an effort to feed my skin a healthier option.

This recipe has only 3 ingredients and I was still intimidated by the process and put off making it, but it turned out to be so much easier than I anticipated.  It took about 20 minutes, start to finish.  I am very sensitive to commercial fragrances and making this lotion with essential oils turned out to be a blessing.  The Almond oil can be purchased at pharmacies and Whole foods type grocery stores.  My favorite place to get essential oils is Mountain Rose Herbs, oh how I wish I lived near this store, they have so many wonderful products at their online site including containers for storing all your creations, and you could get the beeswax and the carrier oil here as well.  The beeswax I purchased online at LocalHarvest.org an online cooperative of farmers.

The directions were straightforward and easy to follow; if there was a difficult part to this process it was finding the tools to dedicate to wax crafts and the cleanup.  Otherwise it was blissfully simple and I will never purchase commercial lotions again!!

Step 1: Collect the ingredients:
oil, essential oil, beeswax.

Step 2: Grate 1 TBSP beeswax

Step 3: Heat oil and melt beeswax in water bath

Step 4: Blend ingredients with essential oil

Step 5: Pour into your favorite container

A few years ago when I was approaching the big 4-0 a good friend of mine and I decided to do something big to celebrate.
She was also turning 40 the same summer and we thought an active adventure located somewhere between us (she’s in Israel, I’m in the US Northeast).

We explored many options, kayaking in Portugal, surfing in Costa Rica, hiking in England.  We finally decided on biking in Spain, as much for its location and good weather as the ease of bike riding.  We chose Active Journeys out of Canada for their self guided tours and reasonable pricing, the company was easy to work with and the trip was extraordinary!

I must explain that while my friend bicycles regularly, I did not.  In fact, I hadn’t been on a bicycle since I was 12, and while I had the best of intentions of practicing in the months before, I rarely did.  So I urge you to cast aside all doubts of whether you can handle an active vacation.  YOU CAN!  Explore the options…..

We had the time of our lives and never felt better, we averaged about 25-30 miles per day
and had the most wonderful Inns to stay at along the way,
the company transported our luggage to and from each location so we weren’t hauling it on the bicycles
and we had hot local meals and cold beer waiting for us at the end of each day.  I can’t wait for our next trip!

This Monday muse is the podcasts that I can’t seem to live without.  They are thought provoking, inspirational and uplifting.
I love, love, love to listen to podcasts in my car, some people get their best ideas in the shower…I get mine while driving.  Listening to these podcasts has improved my life in more ways than one:

Tranquility du jour audio and video podcasts feature fabulous interviews by self-proclaimed tranquilista Kimberly on numerous subjects such as “do-gooding, creativity, yoga, style, and being fabulous”.

Want more?  Visit her website http://kimberlywilson.com/she is a one woman extravaganza.  Her collection of websites include a blog, book club, workshops, retreats, philosophy, yoga tips, recipes, clothing line….her ingenuity and energy are motivational.

Who doesn’t need a little motivation on a Monday?


My next favorite (these aren’t in any special order) are the More hip than hippy chicks Dori and Val.  An eco friendly, environmentally conscious, sustainable collection of gadgets, news, interviews, tips, beer and chocolate…mix in the witty, unpretentious camaraderie of these two fabulous hosts and you’ve got two new friends.  With almost 300 episodes and 6 years in the making there is a load of information available, I just hope they don’t call it quits any time soon.

My final muse for the day is Queen of Dreams, Tina Ferguson.  Her soothing voice teaches peaceful, inspirational, reach for the stars, be your best subject matter in interviews with likeminded guests.  After listening to her I feel refreshed, calm and ready to conquer the world.

So on that 1000th commute to work, or trip to Grandma’s house when you’ve seen everything  and could make your way there blindfolded, with your hands tied…. pop one (or many) episodes of these lovely ladies onto your iPod and stimulate your journey with new thoughts, ideas and creative juices.

Happy listening!