4 Inspiring Resources for Spring Cleaning

The Epoch Times

All it takes is one or two beautiful weather days at the end of winter. You know the ones: They implore you to fling open the windows, get the whole family outdoors, perhaps even play hooky from work and school, because winter was long and sunshine was scarce and we are so sick of our coats!

These glorious days are usually just a hint, a big tease, of what’s to come, but they’re enough to put some pep in our step and open our eyes to the realization that— yes—spring will come again!

As we go around closing the windows again because it’s freezing, our eyes may also open to the fact that this place is a mess!

Clutter has piled up, dust has settled, and questions arise: when was the last time that closet was cleaned out? (You know the one.)

As spring makes its way (please hurry, spring), the urge to purge blooms and the task of spring cleaning beckons. While we so want a fresh and clean, decluttered home, getting started can feel overwhelming.

What we need is inspiration!

Here are four resources to help you kick that overwhelming feeling to the curb and get spring cleaning into full swing.

‘Clean With Me’

If you type “clean with me” into YouTube’s search box, you’ll be amazed how many videos there are of (mostly) women cleaning their homes. If you’re like me, you’ll find it even more amazing how unbelievably motivating they are to watch!

If you need a good kick to get going, start here.

How Jen Does it

YouTuber How Jen Does It makes “clean with me” videos along with other content about organizing and housekeeping. Very down to earth and positive, Jen seems to have it totally together as she consistently posts easy to implement tips and tricks.

The KonMari Method

Author Marie Kondo became a sensation when she released the her wildly popular book, “The Life-Changing Method of Tidying Up” in which she explained her KonMari method that takes “tidying” to a whole ‘nother level. Her unique approach is just what you need if you’re ready to tackle clutter for good. Word is that Netflix has ordered a tidying reality show starring Kondo, so it’s a great time to get up to speed.

Becoming Minimalist

Inevitably, as we go from room to room, picking up, sorting, cleaning, rearranging, repairing, and maintaining our stuff, we ask ourselves why on earth we need all of this stuff to begin with.

The you come to that road, head over to becomingminimalist.com and get to know Joshua Becker. A father and husband, he shares he epiphany he came to when he was cleaning out his garage and realized his stuff was keeping him from a more meaningful life.

He and his family turned to minimalism, which he defined in an interview with Chinese Global Television Network (CGTN) America as “the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from it.”

In addition to his blog and regular speaking engagements, he has written a number of books, including “The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own” and “Clutterfree With Kids: Change Your Thinking. Discover New Habits. Free Your Home.”

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6 Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day With Your Children

The Epoch Times

If you ask me, Valentine’s Day gets to be much more fun when you become a parent. As parents, we get to toss aside the ridiculous expectations, the pressures, and all the entrapments of the “Hallmark holiday” and dive into the simplest of pleasures—celebrating the love in your family with all the sugary sweetness you can stomach.

Here are 6 simple ways to celebrate this Valentine’s Day with your family.

Set the Mood

After the little ones have gone to bed on February 13, add Valentiny touches to your home that will delight them when they awaken! Some super easy ideas are: a Valentine’s Day table cloth in the dining room or kitchen, cut-out hearts on the windows, a heart-shaped wreath on the front door, Valentine plates and napkins for breakfast, red and pink streamers hanging about, and fresh red or pink flowers, to top it all off.

Play Love Songs

Set up your mushy, gushy, sappy, but totally kid-friendly Valentine’s Day playlist in advance. Some of my favorite songs to add are: Louis Armstrong’s, “What a Wonderful World,” “You Are My Sunshine” by Elizabeth Mitchell, and “This” by Darius Rucker.

Serve Food With Heart

A simple heart-shaped pastry cutter can turn almost any food into a Valentine’s Day treat. Toast? No, Valentine’s Day toast. Pancakes? No, Valentine’s Day pancakes. Meatloaf? No! Valentine’s Day meatloaf.

Got strawberries? They were born to be Valentine’s Day treats. Simply cut a v-shape when removing the stem, as seen in this video by momsreview4you:

The dessert options are endless. You can take that pastry cutter and make heart-shaped cookies, brownies, cakes, and more. You can take those strawberry hearts and dip them in chocolate or add them to the top of a strawberry shortcake. A red velvet cupcake with pink frosting is another no fail option sure to delight all of your Valentines.

Craft Away

Get crafty as a family, making Valentine’s for each other and others. There’s no shortage of inspiration online, obviously. This video from YouTuber HeyKayli has some sweet, easy-to-follow ideas:

Gift Experiences, Not Things

This would be my advice for every holiday, really. If you incorporate gifts in your Valentine’s Day celebration, aim for experiences over things. Gifts like a trip to the zoo, a museum membership, tickets to a show, tickets to an amusement park, movie tickets, or a gift certificate to a pottery place or fun gym would all qualify and the memories will last a lifetime.

End the Day Reading

Theme your bedtime reading around Valentine’s Day with stories like “Guess How Much I Love You” by Sam McBratney or “Me With You” by Kristy Dempsey.

Got older kids? What better time to introduce some Shakespeare than with an introduction to “Romeo and Juliet? or check out this list of the 10 Greatest Love Poems Ever Written by the Society of Classical Poets.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Book Review: ‘Crushing It! How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence—and How You Can, Too’

The Epoch Times

The follow-up to his 2009 best-seller, “Crush It,” entrepreneur and investor Gary Vaynerchuk’s “Crushing It! How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence—and How You Can, Too” updates his tried-and-true business advice with inspiring examples and tactical recommendations.

If you’re not familiar with Gary Vaynerchuk, his story is the embodiment of the American dream and of the entrepreneurial opportunities the internet has made possible in only the last two decades.

Vaynerchuk immigrated to the United States from the former Soviet country of Belarus in 1978, when he was 3 years old. In his many keynote speeches and YouTube videos, he has described living in a tiny apartment in Queens, New York, with eight other family members; being “a terrible student”; and never seeing his very hardworking father, who was busy building a life for his family as a liquor store employee.

The Vaynerchuks eventually moved to New Jersey, where his father bought a liquor store and “GaryVee” began to develop his entrepreneurial chops: running lemonade stands, selling baseball cards, and eventually working for his father.

As a young man, Vaynerchuk utilized the opportunity he saw in the early days of email marketing and YouTube to grow his family’s liquor store from a $3 million business to a $60 million business. He then moved on to become a successful investor and founded a digital marketing agency and giant personal brand, both of which seem to be growing at breakneck speed.

In other words, he’s now “crushing it.” In his own words, “If you’re earning what you need to live the life you want and loving every day of it, you’re crushing it.”

“Crushing It,” like “Crush It,” sums up the business principles Vaynerchuk employs to make the most of the opportunities he sees in the most popular internet platforms.

In this update, Vaynerchuk divides his book into two parts. In the first, he offers motivational encouragement and introduces other entrepreneurs—“People just like me who have used the internet to build personal brands, thriving businesses, and a life on their own terms”—using the principles outlined in his original “Crush It.” He highlights stories of people making a modest living and people enjoying amazing success whom you may recognize, like Lewis Howes, Chase Jarvis, Pat Flynn, and Amy Schmittauer.

In the second part, he dissects the current most popular online platforms and explains how to utilize them for business success. Here, he goes into tactical details about specific tools like Musical.ly, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Podcasts, and voice-first platforms like Amazon Echo and Google Home.

Those who follow Vaynerchuk’s daily social media content won’t find a ton of new information in “Crushing It,” but interestingly, Vaynerchuk’s fans who bought the book expressed in Amazon reviews that they simply wanted to pay Gary back for all of the free content they’ve consumed from him over the years. For those unfamiliar with Vaynerchuk’s advice, or internet marketing in general, and for those with entrepreneurial dreams, “Crushing It” is worth a read.

Gary Vaynerchuk

Vaynerchuk explains on the back cover: “If there’s anything this book should teach you, it’s that the only thing stopping you from achieving lasting career and life happiness is you.”

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10 Classic Board Games for a Winter’s Night In

The Epoch Times

As winter presses on and the temperature remains oh, so low, families find themselves spending more time inside. It can be tempting to allow kids to watch television, aimlessly scroll the Internet, or play video games, just to keep them occupied.

Doing so relinquishes a precious opportunity for simple family fun. One way to enjoy each other’s company and stay present with your family, as opposed to losing that time to digital devices, is to simply play a game together.

Here are 10 classic board games for your next night in together.

Scrabble

Practice your vocabulary skills with the ultimate word game—Scrabble. If your kids can read, they can play Scrabble.

Monopoly

Whether you prefer the iron, the thimble, the dog, or another classic piece, Monopoly is the board game of board games. This one will keep your family occupied potentially for hours, so make some snacks, and settle in for a night of strategy and fun!

Clue

Who did it? Was it Colonel Mustard in the kitchen with a revolver? A game of logic and deductive reasoning, Clue can be enjoyed by most elementary school-aged children and up, but it’s fun for all ages!

Checkers

It doesn’t get more classic than checkers. Involve the entire family by holding a checkers tournament! Don’t have a checkerboard? Make one! It can be a craft and game night all in one!

Chess

Well, maybe it does get more classic than checkers. Chess, a game that is said to have originated in seventh-century India, is the ultimate game of strategy and a game your family can continue to master throughout their lives.

500 Rummy

You need nothing more than a simple deck of cards to play 500 Rummy.

Trivial Pursuit

For maximum enjoyment, choose a version of Trivial Pursuit that will give your family members the best chance of answering questions. If you’ve got young children, the family edition may be best. If you’ve got a family of Disney fanatics, perhaps the Disney version is best. If your children are more mature, they may be ready for the classic or master edition. Either way, trivial pursuit is great fun and potentially educational.

Blockus

The most modern game on the list, Blockus is an excellent game of shapes and strategy for most ages, say 4 and up. This is one you’ll want to play again and again.

Uno

An easy game to play and fun for all ages, Uno is a classic, no-fuss option.

Candyland

Even families with very young children can enjoy Candyland—the ultimate introduction to board games. Relive your youth as you pull a colorful card and move your gingerbread man through the board. Children can practice identifying colors, counting, and, sportsmanship. Bonus points for you if you serve Candyland treats while you play!

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