When you’re a busy parent, taking care of yourself always falls behind taking care of your family. It’s a logical sacrifice, but you need to be careful to not spread yourself too thin. If you don’t occasionally take a little while to relax and treat yourself, the stress and pressure will eventually cause major health issues. Instead, try these little things to pamper yourself between parent duties.

bouquet of flowers

FLOWERS
If you’re out grocery shopping and a bouquet catches your eye, splurge and buy it. Having fresh flowers in the house not only cheers you up but livens up the place, boosting the mood of everybody else.

WRITING
Grab a spare notebook and pen and start keeping a journal. Chronologing your day will help you make sense of it amid all the busyness. If you’re feeling particularly daring, try planning out your memoirs.

DANCE
Sweeping or dusting? Put on some music and dance along as you clean up. It’ll make a dreary chore more bearable, and the physical activity will give you energy and motivation. Plus, it might even convince your kids to come and help!

crossword puzzles

CROSSWORD PUZZLES
If you get a daily paper, try doing the included crossword puzzle. It’ll challenge your brain and can be easily set aside when you need to run. Alternatively, most bookstores and discount shops offer cheap collections of crosswords.

SPA DAY
Book yourself a day at a local spa well in advance and indulge in a little R&R. For those looking to save money, get a bath bomb or some bubble bath and take a nice soak after the kids have gone to bed. You can also buy a premade facial mask from many health and beauty stores.

FRIENDS
Been a while since you caught up with your pals? Book a lunch date at a new restaurant or someplace your kids would hate. Enjoy a nice meal and then go window shopping afterward. Even just enjoying a walk is better with some good company.

relaxing chair with candles

MAKE A “YOU” SPOT
Much like the time-out corner, a “you” spot is where you go to be quiet and undisturbed. Place your favorite pillows and blankets there and a candle in your favorite scent. Whenever you feel like you’re about to pull out your hair, retreat and relax.

NAPS
Settling the kids down for a midafternoon snooze? Join them! A quick nap will leave you energized and refreshed. Just be careful to not sleep for too long, as that can leave you fatigued for the rest of the day.

GET OUTSIDE
If the weather’s nice, take a walk outside with your kids or pets. The exercise is beneficial, and the fresh air will help your mood. When walking’s out of the question, sit on a porch or deck or at least open a window.

MEDITATE
Yoga is incredibly easy to do, but it’s not the only type of meditation out there. Do research and find the method that works for you. If you’re religious, you can incorporate prayer or scripture into your routine.

woodworking

TRY A NEW HOBBY
Been meaning to learn knitting? Want to pick up the ukulele? Have a badminton kit sitting around you’ve never used? How about woodworking? Teach yourself or find a class to learn a new skill or hobby.

GRATITUDE LIST
Write a list of four things you’re grateful or thankful for each day. Focusing on the positive will help improve your overall mood. Alternatively, write down five good things that happened to you today; the result will be more or less the same.

What do you do to pamper yourself, busy parents? Let us know down in the comments!

Diagnosis: Chronically Messy

Definition: A person who is unable to keep a house, apartment or room neat, clean, organized, or sanitary.

Symptoms: Clothes and dishes all over the place, unpleasant odor, tripping constantly, inability to locate important items, frustration, rationalization, and procrastination.

Cure: Unknown

Sadly, there may never be a complete cure for this affliction. There are, however, steps you can take to get your illness under control and vastly improve your lifestyle.

frustrated woman with mess

1. Surround Yourself with Pro-Organizers

We’re not suggesting that you’ll succumb to peer pressure, but you’ll see how much easier their lives are and that will motivate you to get more organized, too. Not only that, but pro-organizers can be a helpful resource for pro-tips. They’re the best sources for hacks from how to fold best to how to budget and keep a calendar. Who knows, they love it so much they may even offer to help you straighten up from time to time.

2. Do One Chore Per Day (not all at once)

Doing your cleaning all at once is a bad idea if you hate doing it. It may be nice to have every single thing clean (for once), but it’ll make you a lot less motivated to do it next time. You’ll think back to when you had to do it last and say to yourself, but that took so long… and it was so terrible… I’ll do it another day. That’s why it keeps getting pushed off in the first place. Breaking it up into smaller chunks is a lot less time consuming and it keeps the place from every digressing into total messy chaos.

3. Clean Smart

Remember: Cleaning everything at once is a bad idea. So, if you’re looking for a place to start, you need to clean smart. Start with the area in your room or house that is causing the most inconvenience in your life and work backwards from there, gradually getting to the least intrusive messes you’ve made. Seeing the immediate difference that cleaning one mess makes in the convenience of your life will motivate you to keep going.

having fun cleaning

4. Make it Fun (sort of)

If you hate cleaning, you probably won’t ever describe it as something ‘fun’, but there are ways to improve the experience. What would you be doing during your downtime if you were putting off cleaning? Probably listening to a podcast, watching Netflix, listening to music- something along those lines? Well, do that while you clean. This way you don’t feel like you have to take a break from your life to clean and focusing on something you enjoy will experience more fun (or at least less painful).

5. Identify Your Worst Habits: They’re Now Off-Limits

It could be hoarding dishes in your room, leaving dishes in the sink, leaving shoes laying around, leaving clothes all over the floor- whatever it may be, it has to stop. But, again, baby steps. Just identify the top two or three mess-creating actions you do. How you want to rank them is up to you: whether it’s by what creates the biggest messes or the most inconvenient messes. Force yourself stop those habits. You may never eliminate your messiness all together, but honing in on one or two behaviors is doable and will greatly improve your lifestyle.

woman vacuuming

6. A Place For Everything, Not a Place for Anything

If you’re a disorganized person by trade, you’ve probably once uttered the phrase, I hate cleaning because then I never know where my stuff is. It sounds crazy, but even though your room might be a mess, there’s often a method to your madness. So cleaning can sometimes have the opposite effect that it should, actually making it harder for you to locate your belongings.

We recommend finding a place for everything, but if you’re worried about messing up your messy system, organize things so simply even you won’t forget it. Use labels and invest in clothing or purse racks. When you’re organizing your closet, do it by color or season (or both). Even keeping a master list of where everything important is may help, just until you get used to the new system. If at any point you find yourself asking, Will I remember that I’m putting this here? -find another place for it. Let’s face it: if you have trouble finding your things, it’s not going to be long before they end up back where they were. Mainly on your floor.

With the summer season in full swing, everyone wants to feel good and healthy. Any summer diet would be incomplete without one ingredient: fresh veggies. They’re incredibly healthy for you, low calorie, and filling- perfect for keeping you feeling energetic in the summer heat. But finding fresh veggies isn’t an intuitive process, it takes some serious research. And you don’t want to be googling avocados all day- you want to get outside and enjoy the beautiful weather. Well, you won’t be-leaf how easy it is to find fresh veggies with these tips:

Artichokes: When choosing artichokes, look for ones that have tight leaves and feel heavy for their size. One neat trick is to rub the leaves together and listen. If they squeak- it’s good!

Asparagus: You’ll want ones that have smooth, firm, and brightly-colored stalks. Make sure to get ones that have stalks of equal thickness to ensure even cooking times on all sides. Avoid ones with limp stalks.
avocados

Avocados: Avocados are one of the trickier veggies when it comes to ripeness. Choose ones that feel slightly soft to the touch. Slightly avocados may be ripened at home (similar to bananas), but avoid rock-hard ones and ones with dents.

Broccoli: Choose broccoli with firm stalks, tight florets, and green leaves. Avoid those that have yellowed or flowering florets.

Brussels Sprouts: Avoid brussel sprouts with loose or wilted outer leaves. Instead, choose ones with firm and bright green heads.

carrots

Carrots: When choosing carrots, look for ones that are firm and smooth- without rootlets.

Celery: Look for unblemished and green stalks and leaves- avoid any with yellow coloring.

Corn: Corn should have bright green husks and slightly moist silk. Make sure you also peel back the husk and check that the kernels are plump.

Cucumbers: When choosing cucumbers, just make sure you’re picking ones that are uniformly green (again, no yellow).

Green Beans: Choose slender beans that aren’t bendable. Ideally, they should snap rather than bend.

Kale: When it comes to veggies, yellow is typically your worst enemy- with Kale it’s no different. Avoid yellow leaves and instead choose those that are crisp and deeply colored.

lettuce

Lettuce, Spinach, and Other Leafy Greens: Look for greens with fresh, crisp leaves- stay away from those that are wilted or slimy.

Peas: The pods should be crisp and green. Avoid dried, bulging, yellow (again, worst enemy), or white pods.

Peppers: These should be shiny peppers and should also feel heavy for their size.

Potatoes: Good potatoes shouldn’t have green spots, bruises, or sprouts. Look for ones that are both smooth and firm.

Radishes: Choose radishes with unblemished roots and green tops.

Tomatoes: This is one where you’ll get weird looks in the grocery store- but it’s worth it! Tomatoes should be fragrant with an earthy smell at the stem end. They should also feel heavy for their size and the skin should be smooth.

If you’re like us, grill season doesn’t end just because of a little rain…or snow…. or hail… or hurricane. If you’re also like us, you’ve perhaps over (or under) cooked your meat once or twice.

Here are a few tips to help you make sure what you’re grilling is always PERFECT (sidebar: if red meat isn’t your thing, I highly recommend trying this out…)

grilling steak

1) Add salt. If you’re worried that putting salt on your meat is going to dry it out, think again. Adding salt to your meat 30 minutes before you put it on the grill is going to help draw moisture to itself, and when you throw it on the grill, the sugars and proteins of the steak will mix with the salt and any other seasonings you add making a crust that is beyond impressive.

2) Let your steak sit out for half an hour. So this is easy. If you salt your steak, let it sit out for half an hour while you’re at it. Bringing the steak to room temperature helps the steak cook faster and the center stay juicier.

3) Turn the steak once AND ONLY ONCE. And use tongs to flip, not a grill fork. If you poke it with a fork, you will release those juices you want to keep inside.

grilling steak grill fork

4) Invest in a meat thermometer. Steak is ready when it reaches the following temperatures:

a) Rare: 125-130 degrees F,
b) Medium-Rare: 130-135 degrees F,
c) Medium 140-145 degrees F,
d) Well-done is 160 degrees or higher

5) Here’s the best tip….pull your meat off the grill when it is five degrees LESS than your ideal. Then, wrap it in foil and let it sit for five minutes. This last step seals in the juices and gives you time to serve everything else while the meat sits.

cooked steak seasoned

Our new Gourmet line, will help you cook your meat to perfection. Check out our Unique Grill Tool. It meets all of your grilling needs! It has retractable tongs, a spatula, a knife edge, a bottle opener, a scraper slot, and an LED flashlight feature which allows you to see the color and texture of meat. Dishwasher safe.

There’s still time to fire up the grill before summer comes to an end…and what better way to warm things up than with some delicious kebabs? Use some of our Jokari skewers and follow these recipes for the yummiest treats on a stick this side of ice pops!

vegetable kebab

VEGETABLE KEBABS WITH MARINADE (Source: Damn Delicious)

Ingredients:

2 cups cremini mushrooms
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 red bell pepper, cut into chunks
1 green bell pepper, cut into chunks
1 red onion, cut into chunks
1 zucchini, sliced into thick rounds
1 yellow zucchini, sliced into thick rounds

For the marinade

-1/4 cup olive oil
-3 cloves garlic, pressed
-Juice of 1 lemon
-1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
-1/2 teaspoon dried basil
-Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Fire up your grill.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, oregano and basil; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  3. Thread mushrooms, tomatoes, bell peppers, onion and zucchini onto skewers. Place skewers onto a baking sheet. Brush olive oil mixture onto the skewers and let sit for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Grill over medium high heat, 5-6 minutes per side.
  5. Serve immediately.

HONEY CHICKEN KEBABS (Source: Allrecipes)

Ingredients

-1/4 cup vegetable oil
-1/3 cup honey
-1/3 cup soy sauce
-1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
-8 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cut into 1 inch cubes
-2 cloves garlic
-5 small onions, cut into 2 inch pieces
-2 red bell peppers, cut into 2 inch pieces

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together oil, honey, soy sauce, and pepper. Before adding chicken, reserve a small amount of marinade to brush onto kabobs while cooking. Place the chicken, garlic, onions and peppers in the bowl, and marinate in the refrigerator at least 2 hours (the longer the better).
  2. Preheat the grill for high heat.
  3. Drain marinade from the chicken and vegetables, and discard marinade. Thread chicken and vegetables alternately onto the skewers.
  4. Lightly oil the grill grate. Place the skewers on the grill. Cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until chicken juices run clear. Turn and brush with reserved marinade frequently.

chicken kebabs

SPICY BEEF KEBABS (Source: Alton Brown)

Ingredients:

-1 ½ to 2 pounds boneless beef sirloin
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-2 teaspoons smoked paprika
-½ teaspoon ground turmeric
-1 teaspoon ground cumin
-1 teaspoon kosher salt
-½ teaspoon ground black pepper
-1/3 cup red wine vinegar
-½ cup olive oil

Directions:

  1. Cut the beef into 1 1/2 to 1 3/4-inch cubes and place into a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor combine the garlic, paprika, turmeric, cumin, salt, pepper and red wine vinegar. With the processor running drizzle in the olive oil.
  3. Pour the marinade over the meat and toss to coat. Place in the refrigerator in an airtight container or a sealable plastic bag and allow to marinate for 2 to 4 hours.
  4. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Thread the meat onto the skewers leaving about 1/2-inch in between the pieces of meat. Place on the grill and cook, with lid lowered, 2 to 3 minutes per side, 8 to 12 minutes in all (8 minutes for rare and 12 for medium). Remove from the heat to aluminum foil, wrap and allow to rest for 2 to 3 minutes prior to serving.

APRICOT ORANGE SEAFOOD KEBABS (Source: My Life Cookbook)

Ingredients

12 oz fresh tuna cut into chunks
12 oz fresh salmon cut into chunks
16 large raw shrimp, peeled
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoon orange juice
1/4 cup apricot jam
2 tablespoons oil
2 cloves garlic crushed

Instructions

1. Add the apricot jam to a bowl and microwave for 30 seconds to liquify.

2. To that add the soy, orange juice, garlic and oil. Whisk to combine and make the marinade.

3. Add all the seafood to a large plastic bag and pour marinade over.

4. Seal bag and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

5. Take the seafood out of the bag and add to skewers.

6. Grill for 5-8 minutes or until done.

seafood kebabs