So Random

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Supplies from the Sweet Shoppe’s Digi Files contribution this month. Font is Elise.

We do a lot of random drawings here at The Daily Digi to give away bonus coupons; one for every designer spotlight, and seven at the end of the month. I thought our readers might like to know how we pick those winners. I’ve always used random.org but Steph prefers randomizer.org.

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The random.org site I use is great for picking out one random number. I am usually only picking a winner from one single post so that works great for me. At the end of every designer post, Steph includes the opportunity to comment and be entered to win a coupon from the designer’s store. This is typically how it’s worded:

We will randomly select a winner from the comments to win $10.00 in product from her store! (Comments must be posted before midnight EST to qualify)!

As an example, on the Paislee Press post earlier this month, we had 66 responses (the designer’s LOVE reading these!) but only 50 of them were left before the deadline. If I was picking the winner, I would go to random.org and enter the number 1 as the start and 50 as the end. It would give me a random number and I would look up which commenter was that number and then email them with the winning details. It’s very simple and it ensures complete fairness. I’ve seen just about every number come up from #1 to the last number entered so I don’t think there’s any way to “trick” it. lol!

I understand why Steph prefers the randomizer.org site because she is always the one who is selecting winners from our end of month posts and that means she needs seven numbers. Randomizer.org is great for giving a defined set.

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On the last day of August, we received 120 comments (which we LOVED reading!) and 111 of them were left before the deadline. If we enter the range of 1-111 on the site, then it’s also possible to say how many numbers we want chosen from that given set. In this case, the answer is 7 and this is what would happen

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Pretty cool! These are great tools to use if you ever host a giveaway yourself, but there are a lot of other reasons why they might come in handy as well. I bet you could have a lot of fun making completely random choices!

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Have you checked out TED?

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TED.com is such an amazing resource that I’m always surprised at how many people don’t know about it.

If you want to learn more about the ideas behind TED, be sure to check out their about page. This excerpt explains the mission of the site: On TED.com, we make the best talks and performances from TED and partners available to the world, for free. More than 900 TEDTalks are now available, with more added each week. All of the talks are subtitled in English, and many are subtitled in various languages. These videos are released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND license, so they can be freely shared and reposted.

There are several TED resources worth mentioning:

Here are some of the TED talks that have made an impact on my own life:

JK Rowling: The fringe benefits of failure

This was filmed at Harvard where she gave the commencement speech in 2008. She talked about her own experiences and the lessons she has learned and gives great advice to the graduating class.

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Deborah Rhodes: A tool that finds 3x more breast tumors, and why it’s not available to you

This talk was such an eye-opener for me. Dr. Deborah Rhodes developed a new tool for tumor detection that’s 3 times as effective as traditional mammograms for women with dense breast tissue. The life-saving implications are stunning. So why haven’t we heard of it? Rhodes shares the story behind the tool’s creation, and the web of politics and economics that keep it from mainstream use.

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Barry Schwartz: The paradox of choice

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This is an older TED talk, but even more applicable today. Psychologist Barry Schwartz takes aim at a central tenet of western societies: freedom of choice. In Schwartz’s estimation, choice has made us not freer but more paralyzed, not happier but more dissatisfied. – Just a warning that this talk has a few mild adult words and a comic with a suggestive drawing.

Elizabeth Gilbert: Your elusive creative genius

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Elizabeth Gilbert muses on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses — and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person “being” a genius, all of us “have” a genius. It’s a funny, personal and surprisingly moving talk.

Jimmy Wales on the birth of Wikipedia

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I’m a big fan of Wikipedia so I really enjoyed watching this TED talk given by the founder Jimmy Wales. With a vision for a free online encyclopedia, Wales assembled legions of volunteer contributors, gave them tools for collaborating, and created the self-organizing, self-correcting, ever-expanding, multilingual encyclopedia of the future.

Do you have any favorite TED talks? I’d love to know!

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Cookbook Collection

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I love to cook. Every weekend, you’ll find me pouring over cookbooks, marking recipes to try. I thought it would be fun to share some of my favourite cookbooks and recipes.

None of these are affiliate links – I just really like these cookbooks!

MY FAVOURITE COOKBOOKS – TO USE TO COOK

These are the cookbooks that I reach for every week to make our family meals.

MOOSEWOOD RESTAURANT COOKS AT HOME

I use this cookbook every week. Here are some family favourites:

  • Cajun Skillet Beans – This is an amazing and simple bean and tomato dish that we top with grated cheddar cheese  and serve with warm cornbread. I like to make it in a triple batch so that I have some to freeze and use on busy weeknights. (I even freeze cornbread to have with it!)
  • Pad Thai – This recipe book has a great kid-friendly vegetarian Pad Thai. My kids devour it!
  • Moosewood Fudge Brownies – These 6 ingredient brownies are perfect. And almost too easy to make!

500 BEST MUFFIN RECIPES

500 Best Muffin Recipes

Just like the title says, this book has the 500 best muffin recipes! My 6 year old daughter and I make a batch of homemade muffins almost every weekend. I love that I can pull out this book and be guaranteed to find a recipe that works for the ingredients I have on hand.

My kids love chocolate muffins (of course!) and banana chocolate-chip. I’m partial to the rhubarb muffins. A fresh muffin and a coffee is a great way to start a weekend morning!

THE VEGETARIAN COLLECTION

Canadian Living: The Vegetarian Collection: Creative Meat-Free Dishes That Nourish and Inspire

You don’t have to be a vegetarian to love the recipes in The Vegetarian Collection by Canadian Living! They’re hearty and delicious. Canadian Living has an amazing recipe web site and many of the recipes in their books are also on their web site. Here are some I make regularly:

  • Chili Fries – Deadly simple to make and SO good.
  • Spaghetti with Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce & Basil – The sauce on this is tangy (thanks to balsamic vinegar) and mixed with some goat cheese, it is heavenly!
  • Biryani – A mild curried rice dish, we love it served with plain yogurt, chutney and naan bread.
  • Cider-Glazed Roasted Veggies – You can use any root veggies (rutabaga, parsnips, carrots…) for this dish. Roasting them in an apple cider-butter glaze brings out their natural sweetness. I serve them on a bed of couscous topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Leftovers are awesome the next day, too!
  • Oven Roasted Ratatouille on Cornmeal Pancakes

DINNER SURVIVAL

Dinner Survival: The Most Uncomplicated, Approachable Way to Get Dinner to Fit Your Life

Sandi Richard’s is an amazing cook! I love these family-friendly meals that are written in such a way that it helps you to cook a whole meal (main + sides) as fast as possible. One of the best pieces of cooking advice I have received is from her: When you get home from work, immediately pull out all the ingredients and cook supplies needed to make your planned meal.  Once everything is out, then go ahead and change out of your work clothes and relax for 10 minutes. Once the food is on the counter, you are much less likely to say you’re too tired to cook. She’s right – it definitely works for me! You can find a lot of her recipes on The Food Network Canada site.

MY FAVOURITE COOKBOOKS – TO READ

I have some cookbooks that I regularly cook from and others that I rarely or never cook from, but that I love to read and look at. I don’t think I’ve made a thing out of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, but I loved reading it – it’s beautiful! Same for Nigella Lawson’s How to Be a Domestic Goddess. Here are a few others:

ASSORTED CHURCH AND CHARITY COOKBOOKS

I love, love, love to buy fundraising cookbooks. I find it fascinating to see what recipes people contributed and what they feel represents the very best of their kitchens.

I also love that the desserts section is almost invariably the largest section of any fundraising cookbook. Smile

THE FAMILY DINNER

The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time

I really should make more meals out of The Family Dinner by Laurie David. They do look yummy! I bought it though because I like the stories about how to make the family dinner an enjoyable family ritual.

THE BIG COOK

We cook vegetarian at home, so The Big Cook, which features meals mostly containing meat is more of an inspiration than a “source” for us. I do use a number of the sauces for vegetables and alternate protein sources (tofu, beans) though. They’re super good! The book is well designed to allow you to make large batches to have future meals prepped in the freezer. As the book site says, “The recipes have been designed with 4 columns to make between 1 and 8 meals of the same recipe. Each meal feeds between 4 to 6 people.”

COOKBOOKS ON THE GO

Last year I purchased my first eReader and I take it with me every where I go. It makes sense then that I’d put a few favourite cookbooks on it. When I’m on my way to the grocery store, I can scroll through a cookbook, find a quick meal idea and have all the needed ingredients listed right in front of me. You could also use your tablet computer for the same function if you carry it with you.

On my eReader, I keep these cookbooks:

HOW MANY IS TOO MANY

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I think you should have as many cookbooks as you have space for on your shelves! Winking smile I do enjoy recipes found online (thanks, Pinterest!), but there’s something special about my own cookbooks, splattered with cooking messes and my own handwritten notes. Some of them open automatically to favourite recipes!

Quote Generator

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On the latest episode of The Digi Show, I chose the Be Happy site as my “pick of the week”. At that time, I didn’t even know about one of the coolest features there – the quote generator! So I guess I’m adding on to my pick because I have a feeling a lot of you will have as much fun with this little tool as I will.

It’s incredibly simple to use; just enter a quote, pick a font, and choose a background. That’s all there is to it!

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I have a file full of quotes, but if you are looking for some good resources be sure to check out these sites:

I thought it would be fun to generate a quote card using one of Steph’s favorite sayings on it.

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I can imagine all sorts of uses for this little tool; blog posts, pinterest pins, and digital scrapbook pages all come to mind. I hope you have fun generating some quotes of your own!

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Why I Love Springpad

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Springpad is a great app for your computer or mobile devices that has started to look and function a lot like Pinterest. So why would a self-proclaimed Pinterest poster girl like myself be interested in using it? There are SO many reasons! Springpad fills in the gaps that Pinterest can’t cover for me. Even those who don’t use or like Pinterest, will probably find some great uses for Springpad in their life.

Let’s start with their introductory video.

 

I love how visually accessible everything is. I like to see pretty pictures when I’m accessing my bookmarks. I can get to something so much quicker when I can browse through images instead of text descriptions. Here’s what my collection of notebooks looks like right now:

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I’ve started using Springpad instead of my old friend Delicious because it’s much more user friendly and enjoyable for me. The biggest reason I use Springpad is because I can keep the things I bookmark private. Don’t get me wrong, I love the social sharing nature of Pinterest, but I don’t want to publicize everything I’m saving.

What types of “springs” am I keep private? The website for my local window washing company, ideas for upcoming blog posts, gifts I want to give to my family, etc. These are the type of things I wouldn’t want to put on Pinterest. Plus, I love how easy they are to access from my iPad or iPhone (they also have an app for Android). I’ve started moving my favorite recipes to Springpad because I can pull them up on my iPad in just seconds without searching through endless files. They look stunning and are so easy to follow!

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the fruit pizza recipe can be found here

I also love that I can share a notebook with someone else. Steph and I need to collaborate on a lot of different ideas for this site and we are often sending each other links and images via email. Now that I’ve invited her to be a contributor to a private notebook for these purposes, we can just add things to the notebook for the other one to see when we have some free time.

Of course, you don’t have to keep it all to yourself on Springpad. There are plenty of opportunities for social sharing there as well. You can browse through public notebooks and springs and even follow your favorite users.

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I’d love to know if any of our readers are using Springpad? Do you have any tips or tricks to share? Feel free to leave them in the comments. You can also link us up to your notebooks if you like to share your finds publicly.

Happy springing!

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What’s YOUR learning style?

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Have you heard of learning “styles”? Do you recognize that you favor certain approaches or types of learning? While everyone has a variety of successful ways that they can learn, it’s been proven through many studies that most people can benefit by tapping into their preferred method of learning. This theory is also known as multiple intelligences and the great thing about it is that the focus is on what works best for YOU!

DIFFERENT APPROACHES

The general idea is that not everyone learns in the same way. Someone might be able to understand how to run a new program like Adobe Lightroom by reading a blog article or book about it. Others might need a friend or a video tutorial to show them each step. Some won’t feel like they “get it” until they load up Lightroom and try out each feature themselves through trial and error.

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Many people will find that combining a few different methods makes the learning even more enjoyable!

HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT WORKS FOR YOU?

Chances are, you already have a pretty good idea of what works for you. Do you prefer to read a book, or listen to a lecture? Can you remember a list of items that someone recites to you, or do you need to have it written down? Do you like to work with your hands, or figure out problems in your head? There are official names for each of these styles and they are the subjects of multiple books, websites, and learning programs.

The founder of the multiple intelligences theory proposed several distinct styles and many programs now recognize these basic approaches for learning:

TAKE A QUIZ

While these are not scientific quizzes, filling out a few online questions can give you a good idea of what styles fit you the best. I like this one on edutopia.com. Want to see my results?

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My strongest areas were intrapersonal, interpersonal, and linguistic. When I clicked on each result I found that these were pretty accurate for me.

Intrapersonal intelligence has been said to be the road to achievement, learning, and personal satisfaction. You are connected to who you are and how you feel, and you know your own limits and abilities. You often set goals for yourself, self-manage, and reflect on results.

Those with intrapersonal intelligence do well in careers where self-management is important, such as being a writer, a teacher, a counselor, a police officer, or a pilot.

Tips for the way you learn:
  • Study alone in a comfortable yet quiet environment.
  • Set goals for yourself, and monitor your progress regularly.
  • Reflect on what you have learned, and think through new material.
  • Create a connection between new material and subjects you already know, and gain understanding by finding their similarities.

Interpersonal learners thrive on social interaction. Friends often ask you for advice because you are understanding and in tune with the people around you and their motives, emotions, perspectives, and moods.

Your ability to manage relationships helps you understand situations and take a leadership role when necessary. You enjoy teaching and sharing your thoughts.

Careers that require insight and the ability to read what someone else is thinking or feeling — such as teaching, psychology, or sales — would be a great match for those with interpersonal intelligence.

Tips for the way you learn:
  • Give and receive feedback.
  • Talk out problems.
  • Work on large-group projects so you can use your social abilities to divide up tasks and understand all aspects of the project.
  • Be a part of active learning through mentoring, tutoring, or an apprenticeship. This activity will reinforce your own knowledge or abilities.

Linguistic learners are often associated with doing well in school. You have the ability to use words effectively for reading, writing, listening, and speaking. The poet has been described as the epitome of verbal-linguistic intelligence.

Tips for the way you learn:
  • Use words to explain complicated subjects.
  • Ask questions.
  • Engage in the Socratic method, digesting information through a question-and-answer exchange.
  • Hone your native ability to tell a story.

REFLECT ON YOUR RESULTS

This simple little exercise not only helped me better understand my strengths and weaknesses, I also gained some great ideas for how to improve my approach to learning. It’s interesting to me that I scored the same for interpersonal as I did for intrapersonal, but that actually says quite a bit about me. I need my solitude AND people to share my ideas with. It’s a delicate balance at times. This leads me to explore a lot of personality traits in myself as well. I love little quizzes and tools for this type of introspection. Plus, I have a lot of new material for some All About Me pages now!

I’d love to hear what your learning styles are. Smile

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How to create your own infographics

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Infographic by Katie. Light bulb icon from Wikimedia commons. Fonts are varying forms of Arial.

 

I’ve been fascinated with infographics for some time now. I love the visual representation of data and facts and I really see it as another form of digital scrapbooking. When Steph posted this amazing infographic at the beginning of the year, I knew I had to figure out how to work on my own graphic design skills so I could make my own creation!

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The most important ingredients for an effective infographic include; data that can be represented visually, a clean & organized design, and good typography. Study infographic images that are appealing to you and make note of how the information was presented and what design techniques were used. Here are a few that I love:

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source: daily infographic

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source: daily infographic

I especially love these infographics because they represent personal data shared in a fun & beautiful way. These would be great for scrapbook layouts!

 

When you’re ready to create your own infographic, there are several great resources you’ll want to explore.

If you create any infographic-inspired layouts, we’d love to see them! Just upload them to our flickr group or leave a link here in the comments.

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Revive Your Inbox

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I pride myself on having an organized email system, but I have learned some valuable new tips and tricks in the last few weeks thanks to this free 21 day e-course from Baydin Inc. You can sign up at any time and they will start you off with day 1 and send you an email everyday for 3 weeks.

It might seem funny that you need to get more emails to learn how to manage your email better – lol! but there are tasks & guidelines to work through each day that will really help. I feel like I have a much better handle on my email now!

If you want to see a sample of one of the days (Day 3) you can read this post where you can even download some search function “cheat sheets”. It’s worth spending a few minutes each day to avoid hours of wasted time in the future. Steph and I are always working to improve our email systems because it’s such a big part of what we do. Truthfully, it’s a pretty big part of most people’s lives these days. Everyone could benefit from a little email organization.

Here are some links to our other email related posts:

Keep that inbox nice and tidy!

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Last minute gift ideas

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Are you feeling a little panicked about not having your gift shopping done? With Christmas only a week away, time is running out! How about some last minute gift ideas to help out?

 

GIFT CARDS

The nice thing about gift cards (especially online versions) is that they can be purchased at the last minute and still make it to the recipient in time. We are super excited to finally be able to offer an easy gift card for The Daily Digi’s Digi Game membership! Make things easy on the gift givers in your life and email them a link to this post!

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The person that forwarded this email to you has been dreaming of receiving a Digi Game membership! We’ve made it easy for you to give the gift they’ve been wanting most!

1) Just click here to go the gift certificate page that looks like this:

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2) Fill in the “TO” and “FROM” information on the tag.

3) Select the length of the subscription you want to give (one month or one year).

4) Click BUY NOW. You will be taken to a PayPal screen where you can log into an existing account or select another option if you don’t have a PayPal account:

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Once you have confirmed payment through PayPal, a confirmation email will be sent to you and the gift certificate will be emailed to the recipient. The recipient will be able to apply the gift to an existing membership OR sign up for an account, if they don’t have one. All of that information is included in the email they will receive!

 

MAKE A GIFT CARD EXTRA SPECIAL

To make an a gift card extra special, consider wrapping it up in a custom gift card wrapper or pairing it with a favorite treat.

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MAKE SOMETHING

Really, you still have time to whip up some magic because you are a DIGI scrapper! Here are some quick and easy projects that come together in no time at all.

Make a quote art piece like this Harry Potter layout using ideas from the dingbats post.

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  • Frame a photo collage. They are so easy to make and you’ll find a lot of ideas in this post Quick & Easy Collages or using the tools at Big Huge Labs – see the post Big Huge Fun for details.

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  • Use your digi supplies and iron-on transfer sheets to create custom aprons, t-shirts, pillowcases, bags, and more! It’s actually very easy to do and you’ll find plenty of ideas in this Iron-on Transfer Projects post.

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TONS OF IDEAS

We have several posts all about gift giving so be sure to browse through them for a plethora of great ideas!

 

Remember to enjoy the journey of finding, making, and/or wrapping each gift you give. It really is the thought that counts!

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Surviving December

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For many of us, the holiday season means that daily routines are put on hold. While we’re busy enjoying parties, school concerts, holiday traditions and visiting family and friends, important things like healthy eating, exercise and down time can get pushed aside.

I did a little research and found some ideas for having a healthier and happy December:

Making Food Preparation Easier

December is a great time to renew your friendship with your slow-cooker. While you’re out all day long, shopping or visiting, it is busy cooking you a lovely dinner. You walk in your front door and the house smells like a lovely feast! Here are some sites to try:

In addition to your slow cooker, you can make some meals ahead. Here are some meals that you can double. Try making one for dinner tonight and freeze the other half to have on a busy day:

And lastly, some good comfort food is always welcome in December. If you haven’t made it yet, you should try Bake Potato Soup. Put on a pot today. You won’t regret it!

A Little Pre-Planning

You can do a lot of things in November or early December to make the rest of the month go smoothly. Some ideas:

  • Pop on a favourite movie, print out your Christmas card address list and get those cards done! If you’re really keen, you can even stamp the addressed cards and have them waiting by the front door to be mailed the next day.
  • Pre-bake freezer-friendly treats to have on hand later for entertaining or gifts. Things like sugar cookies, jam-filled thumbprint cookies, and gingerbread cookies freeze beautifully and you can pop them out whenever you need them.
  • Buy multiples of gifts. For example, you can have several bottles of wine on hand to give as hostess gifts or the same gift cards to give to each of your child’s teachers.

Organization

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My family runs on Google Calendar. My husband and I each have our own calendars, plus we have calendars for the kids. (I also have calendars for each of my creative teams, but that’s a whole other post!)

I love that I can check my husband’s calendar (and vice versa) to make sure that we avoid scheduling conflicts and overextending ourselves.

You can check out more about Google Calendar in Steph’s post here.

Moving More in December

I’ll be the first to admit that this isn’t my area of expertise. But, here are some ideas to get us all moving this December:

  • Build a snowman. Or a whole snow-family!
  • Take part in your favourite winter sports: ice skating, skiing, snow-shoeing…
  • Clean the house. (I can get a lot of cleaning done while listening to The Digi Show on my iPod.)
  • Hop on that treadmill/stationary bike/elliptical machine in your basement. Make the time go faster by watching a favourite Christmas movie or listening to music.
  • Go for a winter walk and enjoy the neighbourhood Christmas lights.

Making Time for Down Time

I love the busy holiday season and visiting with family and friends. Some of my favourite memories though are the quiet ones spent at home with my family.

  • I look forward to quiet evenings spent with the fireplace on and two little kids snuggled up with me on the couch while I read The Night Before Christmas out loud.
  • We listen to Alan Maitland’s recording of The Shepherd each December. It wouldn’t be the holidays without it.

Those are some of my holiday survival tips. If you have some tips (or recipes!) please tell us in the comments.

Just a note – no affiliate links were used in this post.