Breathe in Gratitude

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Breathe in Gratitude

On this Thanksgiving Day, I wanted to post a reminder about the beauty of gratitude.

When my mom was diagnosed with cancer a few months ago, I started taking regular yoga classes to help with my stress and anxiety.  I found a little yoga studio in Orange County that offers Kundalini yoga classes, which include a lot of breath work.  Learning how to focus on my breathing has been transformative for me.

Every day I try to carve out just a few minutes to close my eyes and take a deep breath in to the count of 4 and exhale out to the count of 4. When I am breathing, I visualize breathing in all things good, and then exhale the opposite feeling that doesn’t serve a healthy purpose in my life.

I did the graphic above on some of the sentences I say to myself when breathing, but you can of course breathe in the feelings that you want to cultivate within yourself. When you breathe good things in, one at a time, let them resonate in every cell of your body. Bathe in the feeling of love or peace or faith or whatever it is that you want to feel. Or be.

Doing this exercise makes me feel so grateful.  For example, when I think about breathing in love, I think about God, my family, my friends, and I feel so grateful for this love.

When you take even a few minutes to sit in gratitude, you will feel a shift inside and in the outside world.  It’s pretty powerful.

Give it a try.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Love, light, faith, joy and peace to you all!

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Minted Gift Card Giveaway

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[Disclosure: All  links in post are affiliate links + I received complimentary cards. 100% my own opinions. Minted is my fave.]

Minted Holiday Cards 2015

Unsure of where to order your holiday photo cards this year? Look no further than www.minted.com where you will find a unique array of beautiful options from independent designers around the globe. This post today is all about how to create your perfect Minted holiday card along with a special Minted giveaway where three winners have the chance to win a $100 Minted credit to put towards your order. Oh joy!

mintedgiveaway2015

Recently I designed my family’s 2015 holiday card through Minted’s easy to use website and want to share with you all the different options Minted offers to personalize your holiday card.

But FIRST let’s get down to the giveaway business because I want three of you to have a chance to put a $100 credit towards your order! 

ARROW

All you have to do is CLICK HERE and enter your email address  to enter. Did you do it? Awesome.

Now let’s get started designing!

 

How to Create Your Perfect Minted Holiday Card

 

1. Choose Your Photo(s)

First you need to select the photo or photos you want to use this year. Whether it’s a beautiful professional family photo, or one of your favorites you shot this year on your phone, it doesn’t matter.  Friends and family are just happy to see your smiling faces come the holiday season.  Usually we make a point to have professional photos taken of our family, but with all going on with me personally, it didn’t happen this year. So I called upon my sister to come over one afternoon and take some photos of our fam in the backyard with our DSLR. Happy to say they actually came out pretty cute!

christmasphoto2015

2. Try on Designs with the Minted “Find It Fast” Feature 

This is by far my favorite feature of designing holiday cards with Minted.  Once you create an account and upload the photos you want to use you can filter your design search depending on different parameters like number of photos, type of card, photo orientation, price, etc. Then, click click “On” at the bottom for the the Find It Fast feature, and it will populate your photo(s) into a ton of different designs.

I can’t tell you how much this  cuts down on the time spent selecting a design! You can actually see your photo in all the different ones to quickly sift through and find the ones that work.

Here’s what the Find It Fast filters look like:

finditfast

I clicked one photo, landscape and flat because I knew that was the type of card I was looking for and then it gave me samples to see of my photo in different designs.

Here is a very small sample of the different designs our photo was populated in.

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3. Choose Your Favorite Design(s) + Start Personalizing!

When you see a design(s) you like, select “personalize” and you will be taken to a screen where you can further customize your card.  Many of the designs have different color options you can try on, different border choices, zoom options, font choices and options to edit text or wording.  I heart options.  Make sure to keep clicking “save” so you can save some favorites to share for opinions if you wish.  I personalized 17 choices and shared with my parents to pick their favorites. My mom’s advice? Start deleting some!  But it was hard to narrow down because I liked so many designs!

frontoptions

 

4. Now on to the Back!  

Once the front of the card is complete, you should be  ready to print, right? WRONG! Minted gives you a ton of personalization and customization options on the back too!

Did you have a hard time choosing a favorite photo for the front? Add some photos on the back! Want to share a few highlights from 2015? Add some text! So many fun choices to make your card special.

backeroptions

5. The Envelope Please…  

But folks, there’s more! Now comes the envelope!

Minted’s Address Assistant and FREE recipient envelope printing is another HUGE benefit to choosing Minted to print your holiday cards. It’s so easy, it’s free and it’s beautiful to have a special envelope printed to match your design.

A few years back I entered in all my recipient addresses so now when I order my cards, my friends and family’s names come printed FOR FREE in a darling matching design on the envelopes!  Do you know what this means?  I no longer have to get in a fight with my computer printer while attempting to print my own labels! Hallelujah!

After the envelope is gussied up, your design is complete!

mintedfreeenvelopeprinting

Our Family’s 2015 Holiday Card 

When scrolling through all the designs, the Wonders of His Love design and wording grabbed me because it has been a year full of Wonders of His Love amidst a year full of difficulty and challenges.  It just fit us this year and I love I could play with the color on Wonders to match our photo and I love the rounded corners with this design.

Happy Holidays from my family to yours this season and I hope you have the opportunity to design your own Minted holiday card and have as much fun as I did designing it!

familycard15

 

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The Nutcracker Ticket Giveaway

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The Nutcracker ballet is coming to Orange County and I have a family four-pack of tickets to giveaway! 

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Ballet Etudes’ annual production of the holiday classic ballet, The Nutcracker, will take place December 5th and 6th and December 12th and 13th at the beautiful Huntington Beach High School Auditorium in a 90-minute child-friendly performance your family will love.

Ballet Etudes is a non-profit youth ballet company whose mission is to expose a new generation of children, both performers and audience members, to the beauty, grace, and athleticism of ballet, and to offer this experience at affordable prices. 

About Ballet Etudes’ The Nutcracker

I took my girls to see this performance of The Nutcracker for the first time last year. My girls were absolutely enchanted by the entire experience and it gave us a fun reason to dress-up and start a new holiday tradition.

I appreciated the fact that they keep the performance duration do-able for kids. My girls were captivated for the entire show, right up to the end when they both went pirouetting out of the auditorium inspired to put on their own performance.

nutcracker collage

Ticket Information and Pricing

Pre-show presentations are held before the 2 p.m. performances, 30 minutes prior to curtain. After each performance, the cast comes out to the lobby and poses for photos with audience members.

Ticket prices are  for Orchestra are $25, Balcony $25. Group discounts are available for scouts, churches, seniors, and home-school groups.

2015 PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE:

Saturday, December 5th at 7:00 p.m.

Sunday, December 6th at 2:00 p.m.

Saturday, December 12th at 2:00 p.m. & 7:00 p.m.

Sunday, December 13th at 2:00 p.m.

To purchase tickets or more information please call (855) 222-2849 or click here to buy online. Huntington Beach High School Auditorium is located at 1905 Main St, Huntington Beach, CA 92648.

Hooray! It’s a Tiny Giveaway!

Enter to win 4 tickets to the 7pm performance on Saturday, 12/12/15!

All you have to do is leave a comment on this post. One comment total per person allowed for entry. Easy peasy. And tell me one of your favorite holiday traditions because I really like holiday traditions.

Giveaway open from time of posting on Monday, 11/23/15  through Monday, 11/30/15 at 11:59pm PST. Winner will be selected at random using Random.org and contacted via email on 12/1 (won’t be shared.)  Winner has 24 hours to respond before another winner is selected. Good luck!

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Guest Blog: How to Organize a Caroling Party

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how-to-organize-a-neighborhood-caroling-party

How To Organize A Neighborhood Kids Caroling Party

Between the parties, presents, and so many twinkle-lit opportunities to celebrate the season, Orange County kids aren’t lacking for holiday activities. But as much fun as it is to partake in the big events around town, sometimes we all crave something a little simpler and closer to home.

Last year I helped organize an evening of old fashioned, door-to-door caroling for the kids in our neighborhood. It was so much fun – and ridiculously low-stress – that we’re doing it again this year, with a few improvements.

Here are 7 tips for organizing a kids caroling party in your neighborhood:

1. Save the date

December fills up fast, so it helps to touch base with a few neighbors ahead of time to set a date. We chose a Sunday evening mid-month, avoiding the party-heavy Friday and Saturday nights and ensuring a good amount of people would be at home in the evening. After settling on the date we sent around a casual save-the-date email and asked people to pass it along.

2. Spread the word

About a week ahead of time, we distributed fliers in every mailbox on our street. The invitation asked people to RSVP so that we’d know how many kids to expect, and also to help provide cookies, hot chocolate, cups, plates and napkins for the post-caroling gathering (which was held in my garage!). This year we’re adding a note letting neighbors who don’t have children know that we’ll be knocking on their door that evening so they’re more likely to answer and be ready to be serenaded.

3. Prep the singers

We held zero rehearsals for our informal caroling party, but we did want the kids to come across as prepared (and also avoid any rogue “Batman smells” improvisations). We sent lyrics to four classic (and easy-to-remember) carols along with the invitation and had printed copies when we gathered in my driveway. Before we set out, we had the kids practice each song a couple of times and reminded them to use their best manners and nicest singing voices. It helped to have a good number of older kids who could read mixed in with the little ones.

4. Start out on the right foot

The biggest mistake we made last year was not knowing if neighbors were at home when we started knocking on doors! The kids were so excited and ready to sing and we had to try three or four homes before someone opened the door. This year we’ll stack the deck in our favor, finding out in advance which neighbors are planning to answer the door. That way if nobody’s home at the fourth or fifth house, we’ll at least have started out successfully.

caroling-kids

5. Be inclusive

We chose non-religious songs for our repertoire, and our flier encouraged families of all celebrating traditions to join in. While nobody spliced hairs over shouting “Merry Christmas” vs “Happy Holidays” as we paraded down the street, I do think it helped to set an inclusive tone and encourage participation from anyone who wanted to come along.

6. Keep it short

The entire event lasted from about 5:30pm until 7. This wasn’t a marathon trick-or-treating session or giant block party. We gathered in my driveway, practiced a couple of times, and then sang at maybe eight or ten houses total. By this point the little ones were getting tired of “Silent Night” and everybody was cold and hungry. Back in my garage we passed out hot chocolate and cookies (nobody set foot inside, making it the easiest holiday gathering to host ever!) and everybody was gone by 7:00pm.

7. Think festive, not perfect

This isn’t the event to take a perfect photo (too dark anyway) or show off a polished performance (not gonna happen). This is about kids and community, neighbors and music. Aside from letting the kids know we expected them to be respectful and cheerful, we let them interpret the experience in their own way. Some shook bells and tambourines; some dressed in their party dresses, others in PJs and reindeer antlers. Many messed up the words or got stage fright when the doors opened. But everybody returned with flushed cheeks and giant grins, and it didn’t have to be perfect to be a party.

The best part of the evening for us mamas was standing back at the curb and watching neighbors’ faces light up at the sight of 15 children singing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” It didn’t cost a thing, was just steps away from home, and about as full of holiday magic as any other thing we did that season.


Sarah-Powers

 

Sarah Powers is a writer, editor, and co-host of The Mom Hour podcast. She lives in Orange County with her husband and three young kids. Find more of Sarah’s writing by following her on Twitter and Instagram.

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Minted Foil-Pressed Promo

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Disclosure: Affiliate Links are Used in this Post. Thank you! 

minted-foil-pressed-cards-

Did you know you can save a lot of money by placing your holiday card order early?  Even better, wouldn’t it be lovely to get your cards done and ready by December 1?

If you are in the mood to check your holiday card order off the list this month before it gets completely cray-cray, Minted is running a special promo through 11/16/15 where you can get 20% off all Minted foil-pressed products including their holiday cards and custom art. Simply use Minted promo code FOIL at check out.

Make Your Cards Sparkle with Foil 

Minted’s foil-pressed cards are simply swoon worthy.  With different foil choices like gold, rose gold or silver, you can opt for a foil-pressed design that will sparkle as bright as the holidays.

In the search for my own Minted holiday card, I felt compelled to share a few of my favorite foil-pressed designs I came across featured above.

They are, in order, from left to right:

Lots of Dots

Merrily Merrily Merrily

Painted Prism Border

Gold Rush Holiday Ornament Card

Wonders of His Love

Christmas Love

Save 20% on Foil Art Gifts

Minted also carries a unique line of foil art prints you can personalized with a selection of fine art frames, family photos or even upload a piece of your child’s artwork and Minted will make it into a foil-pressed print!

What an amazing gift idea. Here are a few of my favorites….

minted-foil-art-gifts-

Left to right:

Most Wonderful Time

Delicate Frame

California Map Filled

Your Drawing as an Art Print

Holiday Wreath

About Minted 

Minted is a design marketplace of independent designers. Every month Minted has art and design challenges and then the best designs are sold on the site. To learn more and shop, visit www.minted.com!

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