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    Keeping A Healthy Home: The Ultimate Guide

    I’d like to introduce my brand new series: A Healthy Home.

    A healthy home means transforming your space, routine, and lifestyle into an “ecosystem” that provides:

    – Joyful mornings
    – Family bonding
    – Easier living
    – Positive feelings
    – Peaceful evenings

    And much more. Plus:

    – Less stress
    – Less screen time
    – Less chores

    I’ve built a large collection of ideas, hobbies, tips, and projects. I’ll be primarily posting these on our social media, as well as a page on our website with even more resources.

    Every post will even ask for your expertise in the comments, so you can share how you build your own healthy home. If you’re interested, make sure you go to my social pages and:

    – Follow me on Facebook (not just a “like”) so you see my posts in your news feed.

    – Follow me on Instagram (@gatearty), and hit the dropdown arrow so you can turn on notifications for new posts.

    I’ll be seeing you soon!


    Inventing a fun holiday to fill your home with joy:

    There’s a hilarious meme circling around about these parents who have “egg day” every Sunday. It’s exactly what it sounds like: they eat eggs for breakfast. And apparently, their children overhear them talking about how excited they are the night before.

    It’s silly but brilliant: you can manufacture happiness and joy by creating your own little holiday based around whatever you want. It can be once a year, or recurring monthly. Think about decorating beforehand, making food, swapping gifts, or taking a trip.

    What about the day you purchased your home?

    Complete a (fun) DIY project, or splurge on a piece of furniture you’ve always wanted. Move through every room and share a funny story that happened there. Or, you can sit at the kitchen table and sign contracts for 16 hours straight. You know, for the memories.

    What type of other made-up holiday ideas can you all think of?


    Filling your home with plants for a scientifically-proven boost in happiness:

    Succulents are my jam. They are inexpensive, take very little maintenance, and add a lot of character to a room.

    There have been more than a few studies on the benefits of indoor plants. At the very least, they are constantly cleaning the air you breathe. Other research shows they boost productivity (by up to 15%!), and reduce stress.

    There’s also something to be said about caring for plants. If you’re feeling more down than usual, watching something grow and thrive due to your kindness is pretty cool.

    Any plant experts here that know the best plants for indoor spaces in Florida?


    How to get the best tasting water at home:

    Well, if you’re working from home you could get one of those water cooler machines. Take an hourly break and gossip about your “coworkers” with your dog. (Why can’t your toddler understand you’re on an important video call? Just send an email, kiddo.)

    Or, you could invest in a reverse-osmosis machine. It’s a tank that’s stored under your sink with a multiple filters. You use a seperate faucet any time you want clean, fresh, great-tasting drinking water.

    Our local Lowe’s or Home Depot should have them available, or you can buy online. It’s not very expensive, the filters last a long time, and it’s way easier than filling up a Brita pitcher. Coworkers can’t seem to figure out how to do that either…

    Do any of you have a reverse osmosis machine? How do you like it?


    Practicing “coffee cup minimalism” for easier dishes and more kitchen space:

    What if every member of your family had just one coffee cup? It’s so much easier than putting multiple cups into the sink or dishwasher over a few days. If you need to use your mug again, just hand-wash it.

    You can practice something similar with other dishes or silverware: two of each piece for everyone. Keep all the extra tableware in another cupboard for when you have guests.

    This is a great way to learn about minimalism: slowing down and appreciating the things you have. It’s also helpful when teaching kids how to take care of themselves.

    What are other ways we can practice minimalism in our homes?







    Three screenless activities that keep you entertained at home:

    Hundreds of shows and movies, nothing to watch. If you’re like me, you’re pretty burnt out on digital entertainment. You could watch The Office for the 17th time, or you could find something else to make the time go by.

    1. Try a challenging puzzle. When’s the last time you did one of these? When you’re relaxed but concentrated, time can fly. Our local Books-A-Million has a few cool options (including new 3D puzzles you might not have seen before). Helpful hint: remember to get a large flat surface (like a piece of plywood) that you can remove from the table when necessary.

    2. Those activity kits you can get at craft stores can really pass the time, especially with the whole family. There are science experiments, bracelet designers, candle-making supplies, and much more. Remember those Perler beads that you iron together? Maybe you and your kids can make something awesome together.

    3. Of course, there’s always reading! If you’re looking to de-stress, try some fiction. Many high-performers tend to read a ton of non-fiction, self-help, and business education books. Don’t overlook the powerful life lessons that can be learned in a good story.

    What are some other activities you all have tried to spend less time on screens?


    Put on an at-home “fireworks” show:

    To adults, a handheld sparkler is no big deal. To a kid, it’s a Harry Potter wand. On a walk the other day, I saw a family setting off a sparkler fountain, which shoots a variety of different sounds and colors a few feet into the air. The kids were dancing and laughing around it like it was the greatest thing in the world.

    What about putting on a mini fireworks show in your backyard? You can buy packs of these types of fireworks at stores like Target or Walmart during certain times of the year, or you can head to Galaxy Fireworks in Plant City.

    Of course, you should be safe, respect your neighbors (be done by nightfall), and make sure this type of fun is in your budget.

    If you’re a photographer, you can set up long-exposure shots while your kids try and write their names with sparklers. The photos should turn out pretty cool.

    Are there any photographers here that could give a novice some advice on taking those types of pictures?


    Three key packing tips to make travel a breeze:

    I’m on my way to Colorado this week, and Cocoa is concerned that all of her dog treats aren’t going to fit… How do I break this to her? In the meantime, here are three packing tips that can make your next trip go much more smoothly.

    1. Keep a travel toiletries kit ready at all times. Find a nice, small, leather bag and stock it up with travel-sized shampoo, shaving cream, toothpaste, anything else you could possibly need. Don’t worry about trying to “pack up” your bathroom sink, just grab this kit and go.

    2. Use packing cubes. You can find many different sizes, and these cubes help you seperate your clothes, shoes, or other types of gear you can bring along. This will save space as well as keep you organized during the entire trip.

    3. Bring along a reusable water bottle for the trip. We all wish we had one by the time we get to our gate, but instead we take out a line of credit to purchase a plastic one in the airport. It’s also wise to stash some health bars or similar snacks in your bag for the entire trip. You never know if you’ll be stuck in an Uber for way longer than expected.

    There are so many more tips I’ve heard of… Will you share some of yours?



    Three creative outdoor activities for family fun and exercise:

    With the weather improving, everyone is starting to pick up outdoor activities again. One of my favorites is bike riding, and Lakeland is a great place for it. Here are a few other local things you and your family might enjoy:

    1. Disc golfing! This is inexpensive, easy, and entertaining. You can buy a couple used frisbees from Play It Again Sports on South Florida. Loyce E. Harpe Park has a disc golfing course, and you just follow standard golf rules while trying to hit the “bucket” on each hole. Pet friendly, too.

    2. “Virtual” races. A local Lakeland company, Yes.Fit, has an app that hosts these. You sign up for a unique online race, usually based on something fun like a Disney character. Run the required miles, post your times, and get a t-shirt and medal in the mail!

    3. Geocaching. Download a “geocaching” app, which will provide you with a local map. On it, you’ll find hundreds of hidden “caches”, little treasures that other local community members have placed around the area. Follow the coordinates and clues to find as many as you can, then start leaving your own.

    There’s so much more to do than just “run the lake”, if that’s not your thing. Any other outside activities you like to do?


    Quick tips for organizing your garage:

    Anyone else get their garage perfectly organized this summer?! Yeah, me neither, but this photo I found while researching garage organization tips for you saved me a few steps.

    We keep our own garage pretty uncluttered, but if you’re struggling to even park inside yours, here are some ideas:

    1. The floor is lava. Install as many shelves, bike-racks, and hooks as you can on the wall. Plus, you might have rafters or an attic to store very infrequently used items, like Christmas decorations.

    2. Give different types of items their own space. All sporting goods are on the first set of shelves. All cleaning materials are in the locked cabinets. All tools have a place on the pegboard. If you can dedicate an area of the garage to each category before even getting started, you will find it much easier to declutter.

    3. Plastic bins are your best friend. There are inexpensive ones at Target for smaller, lighter things. You’ll want more heavy-duty bins for other things that need to stay safe and dry. Go crazy a Sharpie and label absolutely everything you can.

    OK, great: now that you have all this extra space, you don’t mind if I drop off a few things I don’t have room for, do you? Thanks.






    Why you should take daily walks:

    In the morning, afternoon, or evening, a 15-20 minute walk can become a really healthy habit for multiple reasons.

    First, it gives you some time to decompress. Leave your phone at home, and listen to nature. Put some thought into some of your current challenges without a distraction. Be grateful for the ability to take a walk at all.

    Second, you can bond and check-in with your family. Ask your partner how they are doing, and share a few reasons why you appreciate each other. Talk through a problem. Ask your kids about the best part of their day, and teach a little lesson when you can.

    Third, you get exercise and fresh air every day. Your pets will thank you too, won’t they Cocoa?

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