100 Goal Ideas for the New Year

Learn how to avoid failed resolutions and get goal setting ideas with the help of a free printable and 100 Goal Ideas for the New Year

100 Goal Ideas for the new year
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Goalsetting. It can be a daunting task. Some people avoid making resolutions altogether because they didn’t accomplish them in the past. If you’re looking to set goals, but don’t know where to start, I’m going to give you some hints on how to achieve them and 100 Goal Ideas for the New Year.

Deciding to Change

First let’s be honest. January 1 is not a magical day. Neither is Monday, for that matter. The truth is, you can begin where you are right now. I think humans are innately inspired by organically occurring changes, like seasons or the new year. Certainly, there is something about the newness of Spring coming and the desire to become clean and organized. 

Once fall starts, it seems like we are perpetually busy – even more than the rest of the year. It’s a constant stream of obligations, parties and events. Therefore, finding time to create habits in an already frenzied season,
is extra challenging. Many people are discouraged by that and consequently choose to wait until the New Year to begin.

Changing Your Mindset

Our brain is a recorder. It remembers how we handled commitments and resolutions in the past. If you never buckle down and finish anything, your brain remembers that and it prepares to be flaky. If you have failed at goals in the past it might be because your drive is based on motivation rather than commitment. Motivation is temporary. It fizzles out. It’s based on feelings. Commitment is different. Commitment means that you do something regardless of how you feel. It isn’t dependent upon inspiration.

That’s why keeping small commitments to yourself is so important. You may not realize it, but you are creating a habit. Following through on obligations not only builds integrity, it builds character and it creates the habit of accomplishing things. If you habitually flake out, you’re programming yourself to be a quitter. I used to have this problem. To be clear…I was lazy. I put as little effort as possible into things and I constantly backed out of obligations.

People who know me now,  might find that hard to believe because I’m the exact opposite today. These days, I’m often called an “overachiever!” But that is because at the age of 23, I decided to change that deeply rooted flaw. 

How To Set Goals

If you’ve ever worked in a corporate setting, you’ll often hear about the acronym S.M.A.R.T. Initially, I rolled my eyes at another corporate buzz word. But over time, I have found it to be incredibly helpful when it comes to setting goals. S.M.A.R.T. Basically asks the questions: Who? What? How? When? 

Specific

Goals should be specific. Being specific helps you map out exactly how you plan to get to the desired result. For example, instead of saying, “I want to be healthy,” break down exactly what that means to you. Does it involve losing weight? If so, how much? Does it mean cutting out carbs or replacing soda for water? Maybe it means you work out 3-4 times per week. Be specific about what it is you actually want. 

When I decided I wanted to be a cleaner person, I made a list of what that meant. Where was I habitually messy or lazy? For me, it meant putting things away immediately after I used it. It meant doing the dishes every night. No excuses! It meant putting my clothes strait into the hamper instead of leaving them on the floor or draped over something. What specifically do you want to change?

Measurable

Goals should be measurable. You should know when you’ve reached the end. You should also know if you are making progress. I have found the best way to do this is by writing goals down and finding someway to track progress.

First, if you have a large goal in front of you, I suggest breaking them down into smaller milestones. Secondly, consider there may be many ways to measure your progress. For example, if your goal is weight loss consider tracking inches and dress sizes as a way of measuring your progress. Some weeks the scale may not move, but your tape measure will!

Attainable

This should go without saying, but your goal should be attainable. No, I’m not trying to be a dream killer. I want you to dream big! Seriously, set your sights high! But lets be clear. Dreaming and goal-setting are not the same thing. Goal setting is about mapping out a realistic way to attain that big dream!

To clarify, let me get personal for a minute. My dream, my big dream is to grow this blog you’re reading. I want it to become my full time job! That’s good, but first I need to set some attainable goals. Subsequently, my goals should be to grow readership and commit to an editorial schedule. Goals should stretch you, but should also be within reach.

Lastly, consider obstacles. What stands in the way of obtaining your goal? Perhaps you tried before in the past. What caused you to fail before? If it’s time management, think about how you will prioritize your schedule. Create a “plan B” or give yourself options for when you get stymied. In other words, if you are prepared for obstacles beforehand, you’ll be less likely to give up when they stand in your way.

Relevant

Relevant simply means that it is germane to your overall business or life outlook. For example, if you want to live a long, active, healthy life, then fitness goals and nutrition goals are going to be a part of reaching that life aspiration. If you want a greater income, then that promotion goal is going to be necessary. In other words, look at the big picture and decide why these goals will help you create the life you want. If you don’t have a strong “why,” you are less likely to follow through to the end.

Time Bound

Finally, your goal should be bound by time. In other words, you need to give yourself a deadline. That doesn’t mean a random date. It should be carefully calculated. For example, let’s say your goal is to lose 50 pounds. To set a deadline carefully consider how many pounds you can reasonably expect to lose each week, then calculate how many weeks it will take to get to that goal. 

On the other hand, you may be doing a goal only for a certain amount of time. For instance, maybe you decide to drink only water for 30 days as a detox. Similarly, you may commit to a 90-day exercise challenge. Either way, your goal should have some sort of time boundary. Even if your goal is a lifestyle change, set a time frame and once you reach it, reset the time again.

100 Goal Ideas for the New Year

Here are goal ideas. You should consider how to specificially tailor them to you. I’ve broken them into ten life categories.

Mental Health / Wellness Goals

  1. Address addictions (smoking, drinking, overeating, pornography, social media, etc)

2. Stop negative self-talk

3. Stop procrastinating

4. Learn a new hobby or skill

5. Take a “me day” once per month

6. Start a journal

7. Take a break from social media

8. Schedule screen-free time every week

9. Go to bed at 10 p.m. every night

10. Get up before the kids everyday

Organizational Goals

11. Organize yourself with a planner

12. Donate one trash bag of decluttered items per month

13. Create a cleaning schedule

14. Figure out a system for keeping a messy area, clean

15. Create a pantry or freezer inventory

16. Keep obligations and be on time to events

17. Completely reorganize a closet

18. Create an organization system for paperwork

19. Reduce waste and disposable items in your lifestyle

20. Give everything in your home a place

Financial Goals

21. Reduce “eating out” budget by $X

22. Create and maintain a budget for 12 months

23. Reduce or pay off one of your debts

24. Save for an emergency fund

25. Track every dollar spent

26. Save for a vacation

27. Create multiple income streams

28. Create a retirement plan

29. Use cash instead of debit and credit cards

30. Reduce your student loan debt

Diet & Fitness Goals

31. Eat less fast food

32. Reduce calories

33. Exercise 3-4 times per week

34. Learn a new sport

35. Do a 30-Day diet challenge

36. Lose one dress size

37. Drink 8 glasses of water per day

38. Reduce / cut out carbohydrates

39. # of Steps per day

40. Participate in a half marathon or full marathon

Spiritual Goals

41. Make a war binder

42. Keep a gratitude journal

43. Commit to going to church every week

44. Read one Bible verse per day

45. Complete an act of kindness or service every week

46. Commit to a ministry for one year

47. Keep a positive attitude

48. Practice and make time for regular meditation or prayer

49. Make friends within the church

50. Read the bible from start to finish.

Relationship Goals

51. Have better sex / Sex more often

52. Commit to a regular date night

53. Replace couch potato time with engaging time together

54. Complete couples devotional together

55. Practice supporting your partner

56. Travel together

57. Show regular appreciation & squash out complaints

58. Focus on practicing regular forgiveness

59. Volunteer as a couple

60. Pray together

Hobby / Skill Goals

61. Learn to draw

62. Learn one new thing a day

63. Learn  a new language

64. Learn woodworking

65. Complete a DIY project

66. Learn how to cook

67. Read more books

68. Learn photography

69. Learn to grow your own veggies and herbs

70. Learn an instrument

Business / Career Goals

71. Update your profile and stay active on LinkedIn

72. Produce more “x”

73. Read one business or career-related book per month

74. Create and organize your paper or digital filing system

75. Go completely paperless

76. Increase social media followers by “x” amount

77. Mentor someone

78. Learn a new aspect of your industry

79. Send thank you notes to people who help you

80. Create a healthy work/life balance

Personal Development / Psychological

81. Become more proactive

82. Stop dwelling on the past

83. Remove false / toxic friendships

84. Practice being more agreeable (getting along with others)

85. Increase confidence / self-esteem

86. Become more generous

87. Accept flaws

88. Overcome anxiety

89. Practice being slow to offend

90. Live with an attitude of forgiveness

Intellectual Goals

91. Learn a new word a day

92. Increase your IQ

93. Learn one history lesson a week

94. Improve geography skills

95. Take online classes

96. Refresh your grammar and spelling skills

97. Read a book a month / join a book club

98. Learn about a subject you’ve previously struggled in (physics, math, etc)

99. Read classic literature for one year

100. Read poetry

I sincerely hope that this post, 100 Goal Ideas for the New Year helps you slay goals. I would love to hear what your goals are for the New Year. Make sure to subscribe via email to receive your FREE Goal Slaying Worksheet to help you obtain your goals for 2019!

The post 100 Goal Ideas for the New Year first appeared on My Beautiful Mess

Shrimp & Crawfish Étouffée

Shrimp and Crawfish Etouffee is a delightful seafood dish with peppers, onions and Cajun spices. Serve over fluffy white rice.

Shrimp crawfish Etouffee

Etouffee is a classic Cajun dish. If you’re a beginner to Cajun cooking, this dish is for you! Crawfish Etouffee is the most common combination, but this dish also incorporates shrimp. Crawfish Étouffée is perfect for weeknight dinners because it’s made in about 30 minutes.

Make Etouffee with a simple roux. To make a roux, brown flour with oil or butter. A dark roux makes a darker the sauce. Tender onions and bell peppers sautéed with garlic and paprika, round out the dish.

Hint: When using shrimp, remove excess water by draining in a colander before cooking

Serve Etoufee over white rice. You don’t need a rice cooker. Make perfect rice by adding one cup of rice, 2 cups of water and 1 tbsp of olive oil. Do not stir rice. Stirring makes rice clumpy. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until all water is gone (about 15-20 mins).

Shrimp and Crawfish Etouffee

Shrimp and Crawfish Etouffee is a classic Cajun dish. The secret is in the roux. Crawfish and shrimp are slowly simmered in a light roux sauce with garlic, onion, bell pepper and Cajun spices. 
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Keyword: bellpepper, cajun, crawfish, etouffee, onion, shrimp
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp Butter
  • 3 Tbsp All purpose flour
  • 1 Lbs Crawfish meat
  • 1/2 Lbs Shrimp Tail off, deveined, drained
  • 1 Sm Onion Chopped
  • 1/2 Cup Bell pepper Chopped
  • 1 Tsp Garlic Minced
  • 1 Cup Chicken broth
  • 1/3 Cup Green Onions Chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Paprika

Instructions

  • Rinse and drain crawfish and shrimp in colander 
  • In a deep skillet, on medium heat, add oil.
  • Slowly add flour. Continue cooking until brown, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn. It should be a deep golden brown.
  • Add onion, garlic and bell pepper. Cook until tender.
  • Slowly add chicken broth, stirring between pours to make sure there are no clumps. 
  • Add Paprika, shrimp and crawfish and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover and simmer until sauce thickens.
  • Serve over white rice

Looking for more recipes? Try White Chocolate Raspberry Muffins

Shrimp and Crawfish Etoufee first appeared on My Beautiful Mess

How to Create a Guest Room They Won’t Want to Leave

This post, How to Create a Guest Room They Won’t Want to Leave, contains affiliate links. Should you make a purchase through a link I provide, I may receive a small percentage at no cost to you.

Hospitality is all about creating a home away from home. Learn how to create a guest room they won’t want to leave.

How to create a guest room they won't want to leave

Traveling is stressful. There is so much to remember when you pack, especially if you have a family. Commercial flights used to be nice, even fun. Now your knees are crammed into the seat in front of you and you’re forced to touch thighs of strangers in ever shrinking seats. Moreover, airlines no longer treat you like a person. If there is one thing you desire when you travel, it’s comfort. That’s why when guests choose to stay with us, I take it as a personal mission to make them feel comfortable. 

Create a Guest Room

Create the perfect guest room by making  your guest comfortable – and you make your guest comfortable by anticipating their needs. Basic needs are hunger, thirst, sleep, and personal and spacial cleanliness. I certainly don’t have all the answers. But today, I’m going to share what I do to make guests feel at home. 

Decorate you guest room for the seasons

Textiles & Bedding

img_3760

Getting a good sleep is pretty high on the list when it comes to comfort. Sleeping in a strange place causes most of us to repeatedly wake up in the middle of the night. Therefore, I strive to make guests as comfortable as possible. First, I provide the same quality of bedding as I do for myself. So my guestroom has quality pillows, Egypitan cotton sheets and belgian linen (Pottery Barn duvet and shams). I provide extra blankets and bedding in this beautiful custom Amish cedar chest. You never know if a guest will be too cold or warm in the middle of the night. Therefore, I provide a blankets and sheets of varying warmth. Which leads us to the next must-have item in your guest room. Black out curtains or curtains that block out the light reasonably well. Guests may nap during the day or need to sleep in. That being said, I also know that sleeping in a strange place with different ambiant noises and light can be challenging, so I also provide guests with the following:

  • Ear plugs
  • Sleeping Mask
  • Do not disturb sign (so I know they are choosing to sleep in)
img_3761

Clothes

It should go without saying, but consider providing a hamper and wastebasket for your guests. I’m often surprised how many times I don’t have this when staying with someone. No one wants to sleep in a mess. Give them a place to put their dirty clothes instead of the floor, on furniture or wadded up in luggage.

Wicker hamper

I had a job that required me to travel and I will tell you, I despise living out of a suitcase. This is why I always try to provide drawers, hangers and closet space for my guests. Offer guests as much comfort as you can.

You don’t need to purchase a luggage rack, although that’s a nice touch. But someplace to store their luggage (a corner, a closet, etc) is definitely nice so it’s out of their way. A table top ironing board and iron is helpful, but not necessary (Tip: Never, ever iron directly on a mattress. Mattresses contain a highly toxic fire retardant that can release carcinogens when heated and top bedding can ignite quickly.)

Food & Drinks

I’ve been surprised how many guests have mentioned they loved this, because it is such a small thing to do, but I create a snack basket for my guests. Let’s be honest, we all get a late night snack attack and when you do, you don’t really want to sneak into your host’s pantry – especially if you’re already in your pajamas or skivvies! Awkward. I get it. So I create a small basket of savory and sweet snacks. 

Some ideas could be: nuts, granola bars, chips, fruit snacks, chocolate, candy, popcorn, hot chocolate, tea, juice boxes, soda, fruit, chex mix, mints, etc.

Guest room snack basket

We have a refrigerator in our media room which is adjacent to our guest room, so I don’t worry about drinks too much. That is, except for water.

Have you ever woken up parched in the middle of the night? Everyone has. Moreover, they may take medicine or vitamins and need water to swallow them.

When you create a guest room, always provide a carafe of cold water with a glass. If you are worries about water rings on furniture, you can provide a tray and coasters.

I actually provide an in-room single-serve coffee pot. I’m a coffee and tea drinker. I know many people would love to have their coffee while they are getting ready for the day. On the other hand, some people just prefer to have that cup in the peace and quiet of their room. 

In room coffee pot, reading light and alarm clock

Entertainment

Obviously, a television is a great way to entertain your guests. Most people have streaming accounts so a TV and a Roku stick are great. That said, make sure to provide guests with your wi-fi network and password so they don’t have to burn through their data. I made and framed a cute wi-fi signed that I framed in the guest room. You can make one yourself or purchase this for your own room from my Etsy store or shop. 

wi-fi password sign

Should you choose not to put a TV in your guest room, I suggest putting an alternate form of entertainment like magazines and coffee table books. Make sure to provide a reading light or lamp. 

Guest room entertainment - books
Coffee Table Books

These days, everyone has devices, but I still provide a radio alarm clock or dock as a back up alarm. In addition, provide a visible outlet near the bed to charge up devices. A charging station really makes it easy for your guests. I’ve provided a link to the two I love.

Create a Guest Bath

There is a reason why hotel rooms don’t have cabinets in their bathrooms. It’s awkward to rummage behind closed doors that aren’t yours. Hotels always have necessary items within reach and in view. Guests want to know where to find things and don’t want to invade your privacy when they need things.

Let’s be real for a moment. There are very few things as embarrassing as being in a guest bathroom with no toilet paper. Having to call out to a host or ask a room mate to fetch you a roll is awful. Make sure there is more than enough toilet paper and towels than their stay requires and keep it in plain sight.

I’ve used floating shelves, but you could also use a toilet paper holder like these below. I actually have these in other bathrooms.

Necessary elements:

  • Hand towels
  • Bath towels
  • Wash cloths
  • Toilet paper
  • Hand soap
  • Body Wash

Thoughtful Elements

  • Fresh Flowers
  • Candle or air freshener
  • Cotton balls and cotton swabs
  • A basket of toiletries
  • Hairdryer
Soaps on top of a towel

I’ve traveled a lot in my life. 32 countries is nothing to sneeze at! But despite all my experience, it seems like I always forget something! I know how inconvenient it is to hunt for a store at 10 p.m. to get a toothbrush. That’s why I try to provide guests with a few things they might forget. 

In the bathroom, I keep a little basket of extras. In our basket: sunscreen, lotion, face cream, toothbrushes, toothpaste, tampons, maxi pads, disposable razor, facial tissue, lip balm, deodorant, contact solution, hairspray, body powder, trial size cosmetics, leave in-conditioner, dental floss, dry shampoo, etc. I basically don’t throw away samples I get. They wind up here to help out forgetful guests.

guest room toiletries

In conclusion, I seek to create a relaxing, refreshing haven for my guests. I hope I’ve helped you learn how to create a guest room. I would love to hear the special things you do for your guests, in the comments below.

The post Creating A Guest Room They Won’t Want To Leave first appeared on My Beautiful Mess

Learn about how to create a Hot Chocolate Bar

Soap Christmas Gift Tags for Teachers & Neighbors

This post, Soap Christmas Gift Tags for Teachers & Neighbors, contains affiliate links. If make a purchase through the link I provide, I may receive a small percentage at no cost to you.

Enjoy these FREE printable Soap Christmas Gift Tags for Teachers & Neighbors

We’re getting closer to Christmas and like me, I’m sure you’re probably thinking about potential gifts for neighbors and teachers. If you’re looking for an easy, inexpensive gift, I recommend some hand soap or hand sanitizer. It’s only a few dollars (normally around $3 or under) and it’s something they will actually use!

My absolute favorite is Bath and Body Works soaps because of the delicious scents and creamy moisture. I always wait until they are on sale. In addition, I use a coupon. If you don’t have a coupon for Bath and Body Works, you can usually find one at Retail Me Not. My next favorite hand soaps are J.R. Watkins and Myers Clean Day. You can find these at various stores, but I’ll leave a link below where you can get them online. Otherwise you can use any soap of your choice.

In addition, keep in mind you can use lotion or even body wash as an alternative. 

Free Printable Soap Christmas Gift Tags

I’ve created a collection of 9 tags that you can print, cut out and attach to your hand soap. No need to wrap. Just tie a ribbon, even bells and attach the tag for a unique, custom gift they’ll use. 

Download your Printable Soap Gift Tags. You’ll need Adobe Acrobat or other .pdf viewing software to use and print. 

Printable Soap Christmas Gift Tags
Preview


Soap Christmas Gift Tags for Teachers & Neighbors

I really hope these cute soap gift tags makes your life a little easier this holiday season. From my family to yours, we hope you have a Happy Christmas!

Looking for more Christmas inspiration? Learn more about how to create your own Hot Chocolate Bar

The post Soap Christmas Gift Tags for Teachers and Neighbors first appeared on My Beautiful Mess.

 

Magic Painting Christmas Cards

This post, Magic Painting Christmas Cards, contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through this post, I may receive a small percentage at no cost to you.

Magic Painting Christmas Cards - Usborne Books

If you’re looking for a fun, relatively mess free craft to do with your child, I highly recommend this Magic Painting Christmas activity from Usborne Books. 

This year, we were looking for a quick and easy Christmas themed activity to do with my three year old. It’s really hard to do crafts the way we used to with my infant son. Mommy suddenly doesn’t have enough hands! I also have a need to contain as much mess as possible.

A good friend of mine sells for Usborne books and I so excited to see Magic Painting Christmas Cards as new item and boy was it a great time killer for my little one. We painted all ten designs and then we picked the family members we would send them to. I had my son put on the postage stamps and I addressed the envelopes. Then all three of us walked them to the mailbox (ours is at the entrance of our neighborhood). My son felt so proud mailing his little cards and he loved getting calls later from the people who received them!

About the Magic Painting Christmas Card Set

The pack comes with 10 cards in two designs and includes envelopes. It also includes a paint brush. The only thing you’ll need for this activity is a cup or bowl with water.

My son is 3 years old and he had a great time painting. I love these Magic painting books and activities from Usborne. They aren’t nearly as messy as traditional watercolors and we can take them anywhere. The paper appears white. However, there is hidden water color paint in it that is activated by water.

Recently, we went to Houston because my husband had a business trip and we did a magic painting activity on a table in our hotel suite! That’s how awesomely mess free they are. If anything spills, it’s just water!

Our Story with Usborne

Usborne is a children’s book company that is sold through distributors. I actually have four mom friends who sell them! So I don’t think you’ll have any trouble finding them. I have to tell you though, I’m glad I found them. If you don’t know anyone who sells them, I’ve provided a link below where you can purchase it through Amazon (see my affiliate disclosure at the top of the page).

 

They have such a cute line of chilren’s books. My son, much my chigrin, was suddenly disinterested in books when he turned two. Honestly, it upset my husband and I who are both avid readers. My high-energy son just couldn’t stand sitting still to read. But Usborne has lot of options for children who need something to do while reading. They have Lift-the-flap books and my son’s favorite Shine-a-light books. These are books where you shine a light through the page and hidden images appear. If you have a child who is disinterested in reading, I suggest trying these kids of books. My son now enjoys reading and finds books fun! I’d love to hear what fun winter activities you are doing with your children!

Learn more about holiday themed activities in the post The Ultimate Christmas Bucket List

Magic Painting Christmas Cards first appeared on My Beautiful Mess

DIY Christmas Swag

Christmas decorations can be so expensive! Make your own with this quick 30 minute DIY Christmas Swag craft.

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something from this page, I may receive a small percentage at no cost to you.

I have a love-hate relationship with decorating. It’s true. I fret so much about what to put on my walls, that sometimes they end up blank. This year, I decided to do a little something different than my boring old Christmas wreaths on my french doors. So I decided to put up swags. I found some in a store, but they were $30 each! Instead, decided to make them myself. I made these DIY Christmas swags for $14.97 including the suction cup hanger!

The longest part of this DIY Christmas Swag was making the bow. I finished both swags within 30 minutes. If you are using a preformed bow, it will probably take you about 5 mins each!

Supplies

  • Pliers
  • Wire cutters
  • Wreath hanger (suction cup hanger if hanging on mirror or glass)
  • 2.5″ Wired Ribbon or Pre-made bow
  • Large floral spray (approx 10-12″)
  • Floral wire or twisty tie
DIY Christmas swag supplies
Supplies

Instructions

Instructions

  1. Gather supplies. Using strong pliers, slowly bend the end of the floral spray to make a circle. This will allow you to hook it to a holder. Make sure it slips onto your holder and adjust as necessary.
Floral spray

2. Make a floral bow with 2.5″ wide wired ribbon. Wired ribbon holds the shape. I used buffalo plaid, but you can use any ribbon you’d like. If you aren’t comfortable making bows, you can simply purchase one at a local hobby or craft store.

3. Once you’ve made your bow (or even if you have purchased one). Make certain that you go through and puff out all your loops in order to make a full looking bow. 

4. Attach floral wire or a twisty tie to the back of the bow. You’ll then attach it to the floral stem. Wrap it tightly and securely.

5. Once completed, attach your finished swag to your wreath hanger.

Learn more about how to make Retro Sequin Ball Ornaments

The post DIY Christmas Swag first appeared on My Beautiful Mess

10 Sanity Saving Products for Your Reflux Baby

This post contains affiliate links which I recommend. If you make a purchase using the links I provide, I may receive a small percentage at no cost to you.

10 Sanity Saving Products for Your Reflux Baby

Having a baby with reflux is exhausting. I’ve compiled 10 Sanity Saving products for your reflux baby to help you get through this tough season.

Our Story

I should know. Our oldest son was born prematurely at 35 weeks. He didn’t need a NICU stay, but after a few weeks of being home, we noticed something was wrong. He cried every time we put him down. As new parents, you go through the standard reasons for crying. Is he fed? Diaper changed? Hot or cold? Burped? Sleepy? But nothing made him happy. Except for being held.

Even more horrifying is that it was getting worse every week. I felt like the worst mother. I couldn’t comfort my baby. We didn’t know why he would scream and writhe every time we put him down on his back. We didn’t understand why he would arch his back. He’d act like he was drowning when he ate, even on a slow flow nipple. Even after he’d eaten, it would all come oozing back out of his mouth like a faucet. And then….the screaming. The terrible screeching sound that filled our house for hours. We made several trips to the emergency room because the screaming was so intense. I stopped nursing and tried multiple formulas. I bought nearly every bottle type I could find. Nothing helped. I had no answers.

One night, my husband and I were on the verge of tears. Neither of us had slept in weeks. I felt delusional, like I was going mad. In a fit of frustration, I took to Facebook, begging for help, ugly crying with every keystroke. My cousin’s wife responded and asked me a few questions. “It sounds like reflux. Our son had it too.” She proceeded to give me a list of things they used that helped them. We went to the doctor and it was finally confirmed as reflux (also known as GERD).

I never even knew children could have acid reflux. It’s painful and their little sphincters just can’t keep food down. If they are being held up, gravity helps it, so it isn’t so bad. But if they are moving around or laying down, particularly on their back, the acid, bile, and partially digested food makes its way back up.  I can’t stress enough how these items saved us. I don’t know if we would have survived that first year without these solutions.

Our second child had reflux too. I can’t tell you how these products have helped us. Despite having reflux and a club foot, our second little guy is an easy baby. This time we prepared ourselves with the right gear. So if you’re a mom whose child has just been diagnosed with reflux, I sincerely hope this helps. You aren’t alone. Hang in there, because I will also tell you that once they are past the 6 month mark and eating a good amount of solids, you’re almost out of the woods. Believe me when I say, it gets better. I promise.

  1. Fisher Price Rock and Play

Before we found this amazing inclined sleeper, we were “sleeping” in our glider with our son. Of course, we didn’t really get sleep because we were so worried about dropping him. This solved that! We had tried putting things under our son’s mattress to prop it up but nothing worked until he was older. This amazing sleeper is great for under 6 months. It keeps him upright, but maintains a natural sleeping position. Because it is gusseted, they also can’t roll over to their tummy. It includes breathable mesh sides and strap to secure your infant.

2. Dr. Brown Bottles

I’m not joking. I tried every bottle in the early days of my son’s reflux. I spent hundreds of dollars and nothing helped. Nothing, until I found Dr. Brown bottles, that is. I can’t stress enough how good they are for colic and reflux. They have a special vent system that breaks up air and controls the flow. If you have a reflux baby, don’t settle for anything less.

3. Angelcare Movement Monitor

Once your little one outgrows the Rock and Play, you’ll have to make the transfer over to the crib. This is definitely optional, but making the transfer was scary for us. We were worried he could spit up at night. With babies sleeping on their back there is always the worry of choking. So this movement alarm gave us peace of mind. It’s very sensitive and it senses if your baby has stopped breathing. After a few seconds, a sound alarms. It can be used all the way up to toddler years if still in the crib. You also need to purchase an additional wooden board that helps keep it accurate.

4. Owlet Smart Sock Baby Monitor

An alternative to the Angelcare is the Owlett. Again, this is totally optional, but it does help your peace of mind. Your child wears it like a sock and it transmits information to your phone. It measures your child’s breathing, in particular their oxygen levels It also measures his or her heart rate. Any concerning drop in vitals sounds an alarm. It’s extremely sensitive, but it’s also a little on the pricey side. This really helped us sleep better at night.

5. Similac Spit-Up Formula

I would absolutely consult your pediatrician regarding formulas, but this formula helped us tremendously. It was the only formula, my second son would drink. Before that, every feeding was like a battle of the wills. He would struggle and spit up most of what he drank. This formula saved us since he wouldn’t eat the hypoallergenic one. Its available in powder and 32 oz ready to feed bottles.

6. Enfamil AR Forumla

This was my first son’s formula. Like the Similac Spit-Up formula, it is contains a rice starch which makes the formula heavier and harder to come back up. It’s available in powder form and 8 oz 6-packs.

7. Similac Alimentum Formula

Again, consult your physician before changing formulas. Doctors may ask you to try a hypoallergenic formula like Similac Alimentum. Our son didn’t care for it and wouldn’t drink it. It has a vitamin kind of smell and taste. But a friend of mine had a son that did amazingly on it! It may not be tasty, but doctors use this hypoallergenic formula to help manage reflux with great success.

8. Ergo Baby Carrier

One thing you’ll have to accept is that your reflux baby will need to be carried a lot. That can be really hard, especially if you have other kids to tend to. But having a good carrier makes all the difference! This definitely kept me sane. I was really hesitant to spend the money. I actually went through two cheaper carriers before finally splurging on this. It was worth every cent! As your baby gets heavier, you’ll need a quality carrier. Trust me, your back and shoulders will thank you.

9. Dr. Brown Formula Mixing Pitcher

If you plan on using powdered formula, this is a Godsend! It is a pitcher with a built-in manual blender. Because it’s made by Dr. Brown, it’s designed to mix your formula without introducing extra air. Then you just pop it in the fridge and pour from it. It holds about 36 oz comfortably. It’s also dishwasher safe.

10. Extra Absorbant Cotton Padded Burp Cloths

Before I had my son, I had the cutest little burp cloths that matched outfits. But honestly, they were no match for my son’s projectile spit up. They were too thin and not absorbent enough. If your baby has reflux, you’ll soon learn everything will get covered in spit up. These burp clothes are great and they have extra padding to catch spit up and vomit.

Looking for more mom support? Learn more about Resetting Your Day as a Mom

The post 10 Sanity Saving Products for Your Reflux Baby first appeared on My Beautiful Mess

Retro Sequin Ball Ornaments

Learn how to make beautiful retro sequin ball ornaments in this DIY tutorial

diy retro sequin ornament christmas craft handmade ornament

Every year, our family makes ornaments as part of our Advent calendar. Our Advent calendar is filled with holiday centered activities that we do as a family. It’s a fun way to take time out of the busy holiday season and actually celebrate and experience Christmas. My family has grown to love it and each year we each choose our own ornament we’d like to make. This year, I choose retro sequin ball ornaments.

Making this ornament is fairly easy, just time-consuming. Surprisingly, I found it to be a relaxing exercise! I hadn’t made one of these in years, so I was a little rusty. So I’ll share how I made these and what I learned from the mistakes I made!

SUPPLIES

  • Wire, approx 3-4″
  • Styrofoam ball 2.8″
  • Small pliers
  • Wire cutters
  • Sequins
  • Craft pins
  • Ribbon / String / or Ornament Hook

handmade ornament supplies diy sequin ornament

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Before you begin, take a wire (in a pinch you can use a large paper clip). Insert the wire in the top of the ball ornament. Push straight through the center. You can do this at any point. However, I’d recommend doing it before you put sequins on. If for some reason you don’t go strait on your first attempt, you may destroy the hard work you’ve done. Therefore, I recommend doing it before you begin decorating. This will create a way to attach an ornament hook or string for hanging.

2. Once through, trim wire on the top and bottom to about a centimeter.

3. Using pliers, curl each wire end into a loop. This stops the wire from sliding on either end and will allow you to hang it.

4. When it comes to sequins, you can choose any that you like. I choose silver and gold since one of my trees is themed that color. You can choose different size sequins as well. I recommend putting them in ziplock bags or containers to control the mess or if you may need to clean off you workspace before you’re finished.

5. You’ll need craft pins. Some come with a decorative head and others have a flat head. I used short pins, but I recommend using larger ones. I found that using short pins are easily pulled out. The longer the pin, the more reinforced it is.

6. You decide on the design and how many colors you use. I did opposing triangle shapes surrounded by gold. If you need to, you can draw an outline on the styrofoam it will eventually be obscured by the sequins.

7. If you’ve never used sequins before, you want the sequins to be placed with the facets facing upwards. This allows for maximum shine. You can choose to layer the sequins as I did. I put the smaller ones on top of the big ones for added interest and texture.

8. Next, add your sequins, making your way around the ball trying to close any gaps you see, to the best of your ability.

9. Once done, add your ribbon or ornament hook. It’s now ready for hanging!

If you’re looking for more fun things to do at Christmas time, see the post The Ultimate Christmas Bucket List

Retro Sequin Ornaments first appeared on My Beautiful Mess

Hot Chocolate Bar

A Hot Chocolate Bar is a fun way to entertain and feed your guests at the same time. It’s always a huge hit at my holiday parties. Today, I’m sharing how to create an awesome hot chocolate bar your guests will love. 

Hot chocolate bar

I love entertaining. I love creating a warm, welcoming atmosphere for family and friends to flock to. But even more specifically, I love when people are actually excited to come. When they start asking me months in advance if I will be hosting something, I know they enjoy it. For the last 6 years or so I’ve done a hot chocolate bar during the holidays. I’ve been shocked to learn how much guests love this. They’re talking about it even weeks after the event. So today I’m going to share how I create a hot chocolate bar.

I will share all the things I’ve learned through (mistakes and) the years. Guests naturally want something to do. They enjoy being entertained. Guests also typically wait to be served and even being the first one to slice into a dish can be awkward. So giving them something that they can’t wait to dig into is a great ice breaker. The hot chocolate bar also get your guests to serve themselves and be happy about it! It takes the pressure off you to constantly refresh drinks. I have found the hot chocolate bar is a total win all the way around! Let me show you how to do it!

How To Set Up Your Hot Chocolate Bar

Slow Cooker Recommendations

I recommend using a slow cooker to keep your hot chocolate warm over several hours. The size of the slow cooker is dependent upon how much you are serving.

There are 4 cups to a quart. Consider that one cup is about 8 ounces. Most mugs and disposable coffee cups are typically around 12 ounces which is greater than a cup. Also consider that guests may have more than one cup. Here is what I recommend:

  • 3-4 qt slow cooker for 8-12 cups
  • 5-7 qt slow cooker for 12-20 cups
  • 8 qt slow cooker for 20 or more cups

The slow cooker can hold more than I’ve recommended, but when the contents are piping hot, it is best not to fill the slow cooker to the rim. Always use caution when leaving hot appliances around your guests.

The Hot Chocolate

You may have your favorite hot chocolate recipe. However, if you’re struggling to find a good one, look no further. I have the best hot chocolate recipe you will ever find! It’s creamy and decadent. It’s absolutely delicious and always has rave reviews from my guests. I’m always asked for the recipe, so I’ve shared it here.

I’m going to give you a great tip: Reynolds Slow cooker Liners are the best invention ever! Okay, maybe not the best like electricity or running water, but still amazing. I don’t use a lot of disposable things, but I highly recommend these. They make cleaning your Crockpot a 30 second chore. They fit all slow cookers. No scrubbing or soaking your dirty slow cooker. Just put the liner in like you would a trash bag on a trash can. When you’re done, gather and toss in the trash. Easy! You can find the in the store near the Reynolds wrap and sandwich bags.

Cups and Mugs

For small get-togethers I recommend using glass cups or mugs. In an intimate setting, actual dishes create a cozy, personal atmosphere. Don’t be afraid to pull out your beautiful china that rarely gets used. If you’re saving it for the Queen, I hate to tell you this, but she’s never coming. Don’t save it. The time is now.

Disposable cups are great for large parties. Otherwise you will need to keep a constant supply of fresh cups. If you don’t have many, you’ll end up spending the evening chasing down used cups for washing. After many years of hosting I can tell you, people set their cups down and can’t remember which one was theirs, so they simply grab a new cup. It creates endless work for you if you’re hosting a large party.

If you’re hosting, particularly a large party, prepare yourself for spills. They can and will happen. I highly recommend doing what you can to minimize spills and the ensuing damage they cause. That means, getting disposable cups with lids! They actually do help. I also recommend getting sleeves for cups, because even though everyone knows hot chocolate is hot, burns still occur. Do your part as a host to make things safe. I’ve inserted a link on this page to the ones I use. They aren’t fancy, but the neutral color means I can use the unused cups for any other parties during the year.

Toppings

This is where the fun begins. For whipped cream, I just put the can of spray whip in a bowl with ice. The really fun part is watching your guests pile on chocolate mints, peanut butter, or marshmallows. Cherries, nuts, butterscotch and caramel are all great additions. Adults love when you provide liquors along with the toppings. Great options are rum, coconut rum (Malibu), Irish Cream (Baileys), Raspberry (Chambord), Hazelnut (Frangelico) and Coffee (Kahlua). In my Hot Chocolate Bar Printable, I’ve included different pairing recipes!

Here is a tip: I put the toppings in mason jars. This is especially helpful if you’ll be using your hot chocolate bar for several events. Fill your jars with toppings. Label them, so people don’t have to guess or taste test. Make sure to provide spoons or some utensil for serving and to avoid cross contamination. When not in use, pop the lid on and put it away or just leave it on the set up (if it doesn’t need refrigeration).

Decorations

The theme you do is totally up to you. My personal favorite is galvanized metal, buffalo plaid, and kraft paper, but feel free to try things out. If you are super uncreative and have no idea how to pull it together, look no further. I’ve made a Hot Chocolate Bar Printable to help you! Buy it and follow the instructions. Print the sign on photo paper and put it in a document frame or trim it down to size and put it in an 8×10 frame. Print out the labels on full sheet sticker paper. Then cut out and stick them to your favorite container. Pair with red napkins and accessories.

In the Hot Chocolate Bar Printable, I’ve included

  • A Buffalo Plaid Hot Chocolate Bar Sign
  • Labels for Toppings
  • Adult and Child-Friendly Recipes (to encourage creativity)
  • Shopping List

Other Stuff

  • Use a spoon rest to minimize sticky counters. (If you don’t have a spoon rest, a bowl or bread plate works just fine)
  • Always place napkins at your bar. Spills and drips happen.
  • Place coasters where your guests congregate to minimize damage to furniture. (Liquid and heat damages wood)
  • I suggest using stirs for people to stir their mix-ins. They create much less waste than disposable spoons.
  • Paper straws or wooden spoons also add a special touch.

That’s it! I hope this post inspires you to do something fun! I’d love to hear what fun things you do at your parties!

Learn more about the Best Hot Chocolate Recipe you’ll ever find!

If you’re looking for other tools to help you at Christmas, try my Christmas Planner Printable
Continue reading “Hot Chocolate Bar”

The Best Crockpot Hot Chocolate

I’m making you a promise. This is the best Crockpot Hot Chocolate you’ll ever make. It’s super rich, chocolatey, and creamy. Best of all, it stays hot in the crockpot so guests can serve themselves all night!

Crockpot Hot Chocolate

Christmas isn’t Christmas without hot chocolate. Today I’m sharing one of my most favorite recipes. I make this all the time during the holidays. Sometimes just for us, but mostly, I make it for parties and get-togethers. It never fails. Someone always asks for the recipe. It’s that good. I promise that this is the last hot chocolate recipe you’ll ever use. This Crockpot Hot Chocolate is very rich because it’s made with milk and heavy whipping cream. Semi-sweet chocolate chips are melted into the hot milk and it’s sweetened with condensed milk. The result is steaming cup of chocolatey goodness.

Later this week, I’ll be sharing how I set up a Crockpot hot chocolate bar to entertain your guests (Sshh….it also gets them to serve themselves – don’t tell anyone). I’ll show you how to set up toppings so that it is a fun, entertaining activity that gives your guests something to do. Here is a preview to my Hot Chocolate Bar Printable available for sale on Etsy and in my blog store.

 

 

Crockpot Hot Chocolate

The best hot chocolate you'll ever make, this easy recipe is made in the crockpot - perfect for entertaining or crowds. 
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time2 hrs
Total Time2 hrs 5 mins
Course: Dessert, Drinks
Keyword: chocolate, crockpot, entertaining, hot chocolate, slowcooker
Servings: 12 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 Condensed Milk 14 oz can
  • 1 1/2 Cups Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 2 Cups Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 6 Cups Milk
  • 1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract

Instructions

  • Combine all ingredients in to a slow cooker. 
  • Heat slow cooker on low setting. Cover and let chocolate melt.
  • Stir frequently until chocolate chips and condensed milk are fully incorporated. Allow 2 hours to reach full temperature