WARM UP WINTER WITH ICE GLOBE CANDLES

I tend to hibernate in the winter. I don’t like to go outside during January and February. The cold air makes it hard to breathe, and I just want to bury myself under a down comforter.  One thing that I do look forward to is making ice candles. They are easy to make and pretty. Each one is as unique as a snowflake. Water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, so if you live in a cold climate, you can create them outside.

Things you will need

Balloons

Water

Tea Candles

Food Coloring (optional)

Fill each balloon with water, while holding the bottom in the palm of your hand. Fill it about ¾ of the way full. Then blow into the balloon to create a small pocket of air. Tie the balloon and place it outside. Once the ice is hard, peel off the balloon and chip out a small hole in the top of the ball. The hole is the space for the candle.

To make tinted balls, add food coloring before freezing. You will get festive orbs that sparkle across snow-covered lawns. To change the shapes of the globes, experiment by filling the balloons to the top or even half way. It takes a little practice to get them perfect. I don’t mind if they are a little flawed. A variety of shapes adds to their charm.

TODAY’S ASSIGNMENT FROM THE UNIVERSE

Most of the time, I measure my worth based on what I do. I tick through lines of endless to do lists week after week measuring my life’s progress by the tasks I have accomplished and the chores I have completed. Then I create more lists and goals and worry about what needs to get done. I focus on doing not being.

Ram Dass once wrote, “The caterpillar isn’t walking around saying ‘I’ll soon be a butterfly.’ As long as he is a caterpillar he can’t be a butterfly. It’s only when its caterpillarness is done that one starts to be a butterfly.” Sometimes I want to be a butterfly so badly that I forget about enjoying the process. I forget that I am still a caterpillar and I forget to enjoy the journey.

I am an expert on living in the past and future. I think about my mistakes and how I wish I could change them. I worry about what will happen at work or dwell on a problem that does not matter.  It is a Sunday afternoon, a day I look forward to every week. Although I live in a peaceful home with a kind husband, my mind is full of chatter.  This day exists so that I can enjoy the beautiful life I have created. Instead, I find myself buzzing with worry. Every Sunday night I feel a tinge of anxiety because my weekend is ending. Instead, I could enjoy the end of my weekend.  How many hours of life have I lost because I am not fully enjoying each moment? How many weeks have I lost because I am idling along on cruise control?

One of the greatest masters of living in the now was a man by the name of Guido Orefice. He was a Jewish poet imprisoned with his wife and son in a concentration camp during World War 2.  To keep his son alive, he told the young boy that they were playing a game. Whoever earned 1,000 points first won a real army tank. Guido created a fictional game including hide and seek to keep the 5-year old from being discovered by Nazi guards.

He did not focus on the executions behind him or ahead of him. He focused everything he had on creating joy in the most dismal situation conceivable.  His imagination and brilliance kept the child alive. Every second they had together was precious. Because of Guido’s ability to think quickly and live in the moment, he taught us all how to be in this world. Although he suffered a tragic death, in the end, his life teaches us a valuable lesson.

Stories of such greatness help me keep my small worries in perspective. I have many heroes and teachers who remind me to enjoy every second of life.  Most of my problems are diminutive. My favorite history professor once said “All that matters is that we make it to heaven. Everything else is just mush in between.” Spiritual giants exist in this world. And they seem to grasp this simple concept. For the rest of us, it is work.

I am sharing some words I came up with to keep me living in the present moment. You can use these or create your own.  Use them whenever your mind wanders into the past or future.

Today I enjoy the now.

Today I am happy just being.

I don’t have to be “doing” all the time.

Today I am comfortable in my skin.

Today I enjoy the silly things, the little things, and the big things.

Be. Be. Be.

TODAY’S ASSIGNMENT FROM THE UNIVERSE

If you want happiness for an hour: take a nap. If you want happiness for a day: go fishing. If you want happiness for a year: inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime: help someone else.—Chinese Proverb

There are countless organizations that need your help right now. To choose one, ask yourself a couple of questions. First, what is your passion? Second, what would you do if you had a million dollars to spend as a philanthropist? The answer to these questions will guide you on your quest for a cause. Here are some helpful suggestions.

  • You can serve meals at a local homeless shelter.
  • Wildlife Rescue Centers need volunteers to provide care for injured birds.
  • If you love to play in the dirt, the Square Foot Gardening Foundation is an organization dedicated to solving world hunger.
  • Meals on Wheels is a great organization that prepares and delivers hot meals to seniors.
  • If you love working with youth, the YMCA and Big Brothers and Sisters of America need mentors.
  • Animal shelters often need help caring for dogs and cats.

The list above is small, but there is an entire world of possibilities. If you are super busy, find a place to volunteer once a month. It doesn’t have to be every week. Or just find a one-time service project. You will be glad you did!

5 ISTANBUL TRAVEL TIPS

Istanbul is a short flight from Greece and worth checking out. Here are some things you should know before visiting this thriving city of 14 million inhabitants.

Taking on the Grand Bazaar

Originally constructed in 1455/56, the Grand Bazaar boasts over 3,000 shops with 250,000 to 400,000 daily visitors. If you are expecting a leisurely afternoon of browsing for bargains you are in for a shock. However, if you are up for combat shopping this is a fun way to spend the day.  Bazaar vendors are highly skilled at separating you from your cash so do not set foot in the plaza without a solid grasp on the exchange rate. And carry small bills so you are less likely to get short changed. I consider myself a savvy shopper but after I left the Bazaar I had no self-respect.

Experience a Turkish bath

An Istanbul trip is not complete without a visit to a traditional bath house. I went to the Ayasofya which is centrally located, clean and safe.

This was my experience; I was seated on a lovely marble bench, ice cold, while I was scrubbed down by a mustached woman. I was naked with the exception of swim suit bottoms.  She scrubbed and rinsed twice using a bucket of water and loofah, then ordered me to relax. After sitting for about 10 minutes she returned and rubbed my hair and ears vigorously with a towel.

When I was sufficiently dry, I was taken to another slab of marble. I rested on my back, closed my eyes and soon felt a strange tingling sensation all over my body. I opened my eyes to see that I was covered with bubbles. The bubbles were stacked at least a foot high. I giggled. After a while I was flipped over and the same procedure was done on my backside. Once this step was complete, I was ushered to a private room where I was satisfactorily oiled down and massaged.

If you can get past a scrub down while practically naked in front of a total stranger you may enjoy a Turkish bath. Otherwise just stick to a massage.

Carpet Shopping

As you visit the must see tourist attractions such as The Blue MosqueHaga Sofiaand the Basilica Cistern watch for friendly young men who want to show you around town. Be aware that some of the carpet retailers hire people to bring prospects to their carpet showrooms. I wouldn’t say it’s a scam but they do go out and fish for potential rug buyers. Avoid being a target and if men folk offer to show you the sites politely refuse.

I bought a rug in a reputable shop recommended by the concierge at my hotel, El Rincon de Fehmi. I was treated like royalty and served cherry tea while the salesman rolled out rug after rug. The selection was overwhelming but the merchant was able to narrow down a fit for my budget and style. I chose a traditional Kilim rug woven out of hemp and cotton. Luckily most vendors, including this one, offer shipping and the rug arrived safely at my doorstep one month after my return home.

Turkish Eats and Drinks

Everywhere you go the scent of baked bread is vented into the city streets.  I ate roasted lamb kabobs flavored with cumin and mint leaves along with heaps of Pilaf. Turkish cuisine is steeped in Mediterranean tradition so expect plenty of lemon and olives. Don’t leave without trying the Borek, a savory pastry with paper thin layers of crust and a soft cheesy center.

Turkish coffee is known and the “milk of chess players and thinkers”.  It is served in a coffee pot called a “cezve”.  I drink tons of coffee so I enjoyed my daily caffeine fix. It is similar to espresso in that it is finely ground and very strong.  In comparison, American coffee tastes like warm bath water.

Good to Know

English was spoken everywhere I went and there were tons of taxis so navigating the city was easy. I stayed at a centrally located inn called the Recital Hotel. It was within walking distance of the best sites and the hotel offered shuttles to and from the Istanbul airport.

I had a hard time finding bottled water after I left my room so I would recommend carrying emergency water packs. I never leave the U.S. without them. Easy to carry they fit in a small purse or bag.  Keep in mind that Istanbul weather is chilly in the evening and warm during the day so wear layers.

I was impressed with the beauty of the city and the warmth of its people. Get an Istanbul map, a good camera and some comfy walking shoes and you will be set. I hopped over to Istanbul after visiting Greece and I am glad I took the detour on the way home.  It was well worth the trip.

 To see one of my favorite Turkish recipes check out my recipe blogs.

By Tallie @ lifeandlemons.org

TODAY’S ASSIGNMENT FROM THE UNIVERSE

Does it feel like the entire world is conspiring against you? It’s time to transform your thinking into pronia. Pronia is the mental state in which you feel like the world is conspiring to assist you. Here are a couple of exercises to guide you to optimism.

  • Get out a pen and piece of paper. Write down five positive questions. Some examples to get you started are as follows: What am I grateful for? How can I have fun today? How can I show love? How can I make someone else’s day better? How can I serve others?
  • Keep the list of questions next to your bed. Read them first thing in the morning when you get up and the last thing at night before you go to sleep.
  • Next, write down three words to describe your ideal self. These are words that express who you want to be. They can be anything upbeat. Some examples are bright, smart and beautiful.
  • If you can, program your phone alarm to go off three times per day and read the words. The most important time to review them is before you go to sleep. We have a habit of running through our daily negatives at night-time. Feed your brain positives instead.

As you start to focus on encouraging things, you give your mind the capacity to grow and change. In spite of life’s challenges, we can keep a healthy mindset. It’s not always easy, but a little positivity goes a long way.

These questions are from Brenden Burchard’s video titled How to Reprogram you Mind. Check it out to get additional tips about positive thinking.

Today’s Assignment from the Universe

Ladies, I have bad news. Women fall behind men as savers, in part because of gender income gaps. The good news is whether you are a man or a woman, there are ways to squirrel away more money. Follow these steps ASAP to create a robust savings account.

Make You Money Grow

A common excuse for failing to expand our savings account is the following thinking error; “I am too broke to save.” In many cases, we think that someday when we have enough money, we will save it. That is not how it works – save first, and then you have money. Start out with $10.00 per paycheck. It is about creating healthy habits. Once the habits are established, you can increase the dollar amounts.

Keep a 3 to 6 Month Emergency Savings

If you are the primary provider for your family, you need to have a 6-month emergency savings fund. If you are the secondary, keep a 3-month cushion to take care of yourself and your family in the event of a job loss or illness. Also, consider the type of work you do. Are you commission only? Save more if you have a job that does not have a salary. I promise you this. There will be financial emergencies in your life. Save for them.

Set up Multiple Savings Accounts

If you are tempted to rob your emergency savings, set up more than one account. Christmas comes the same time of year every season. Why not open a savings account titled “Christmas”. Put away $30.00 a month, and after 12 months you will have almost $400.00 for gifts.

Do you want to go on a vacation or buy a new car? Set up an account titled “Vacation” and “Car” and do the same. Once you have some wiggle room, start adding accounts. You can have as many savings accounts as you have fingers.

Keep Insurance Deductible Amounts in Savings

What is the deductible on your health insurance? Nothing throws people into a financial tailspin faster than a trip to the emergency room. If you become sick or injured and are unable to work, the last thing you want is to be short on the cash to cover your insurance deductible.

A Credit Card is not an Emergency Fund

As of April 2016, consumer debt in the U.S. hit $3.6 trillion. It may come as no surprise that it consists of mostly of credit card debt. I was once trapped in the cycle of getting into debt and getting out of debt. I got sick of it. Credit cards are not a good substitute for an emergency fund. The interest rates are outrageous, and once again you get caught in the debt cycle. The only way out is by saving. If you think making more money is the only answer to your financial woes, you are mistaken.

The more we make, the more we spend.”

Eliminate Financial Weakness

We all have our financial Achilles heel. Determine what yours is, and get rid of it. Ninety percent of budgeting is emotional spending and bad habits. The other ten percent is math. The most important thing is that you save now. There is a new financial beginning awaiting you – it is within reach.

Happy saving!