4 Ways to Handle Daylight Savings Time in Stride

Sometimes I wonder how we all dealt with Daylight Savings Time (DST) before technology was so advanced. We used to have to reset every clock in our homes. I know I’d curse the day that Sunday rolled around because I’d have to take clocks off the wall, press tons of buttons on alarm clocks (while holding down that ever-frustrating “time” button), and even more. It was just a day filled with so much hatred – even while I loved having more daylight hours during the day.

Getting used to Daylight Savings Time doesn’t have to be the worst thing in the world. I don’t mind the time change, and lucky for me, most of my clocks consist of the amazing advanced technology that can change over for DST by themselves. Looking for some ways to make the transition to DST as smooth as possible? Sleep Number recommends:

Ease Into It: According to a new national sleep survey from Sleep Number, over half (54%) of the respondents didn’t feel as though they were getting enough sleep to be at their best. To make it easier to start getting better sleep with DST, start going to bed 15 minutes earlier for each night for three or four days beforehand.

Avoid Your Tech: Sleep Number’s survey results also show that people who use devices in bed are more likely to feel as though they aren’t getting enough sleep (51 percent). In particular, people in the West US tend to be the worst about this with 66% of people saying they bring their devices to bed. Try to avoid using your tech devices for about an hour before bedtime to ease into sleep more easily. Why not take a warm bath or shower instead?

Monitor your Sleep: The Sleep Number study shows that 58% of people wish they knew more about how to improve their sleep yet only 16% of those people actually monitor their sleep. Considering that 41% of the respondents tracked exercise and 43% tracked diet, this is a large difference. The study also shows that women are more likely to focus on improving sleep compared to men. For those who want an easier way to track sleep, Sleep Number’s SleepIQ system offers a simple tracking system.

Start Early: If you’re worried about making the transition in DST on Sunday when it may effect your work week on Monday, why not start early? Treat Friday evening and Saturday as if you’re already under DST. Take your coffee earlier, go to bed earlier, and things like that. I find that this one is the most helpful for me to avoid too much of a disruption to my schedule on Monday.

For more suggestions, check out the Sleep Number Daylight Savings Time tips.

As for my household, we tend to be a bit “off” for a couple days, but we’ll quickly adjust. The photographer in me loves having the extra daylight hours, and my partner enjoys being able to leave for work when it’s actually light out instead of leaving and getting home in the dark. Neither of us can wait for the warmer days of summer!

Disclosure: I partnered with Sleep Number for this post. I was provided compensation for sharing these DST tips with you.

Super-Simple Valentine’s Day Cookie Sandwiches!

Need to make some treats for your child’s class? While this may get them on a bit of a sugar high, I promise, they’re going to love it! Best part? Not only is it super easy to make and only takes a tiny bit of time, but it also can be simply changed around to work well for almost every holiday out there. I love making effortless treats that look like they took way, way longer to make. First off, you just need to make some cookies. It’s your choice as to how you want to do that. Have the time? Make home-made cookies with your favorite recipe. No time? Pick up some pre-baked cookies from the local grocery store. I especially love getting Pillsbury ones because I can usually find a $1 off 2 coupon that brings them down to $1.50 a package.

Now, you just need some frosting. Same song and dance. If you have time, you can make your own home-made frosting for a delicious addition. If you’re out-of-time, pick up some cans of frosting from the local grocery store. Remember that Pillsbury coupon? It usually will work on Pillsbury frostings as well! Makes for a pretty cheap treat for a classroom (or workplace) of people when all is said and done.

While you’re at the grocery store, don’t forget to pick up some food coloring (if applicable) or some sprinkles. Food coloring can make your white frosting look more seasonal while sprinkles make it look more like a treat. Both are cheap and super-simple to use, so win-win!

Now that you’re at the fun part, all you have to do is make your cookies. After they’re made, let them cool on wax paper. If you’re coloring your frosting, add a couple dabs of food coloring into the frosting and stir thoroughly. After they’re completely cooled, you need to put a dab of frosting in-between the two cookies and squeeze them together until frosting squeezes out the sides. Over a plate, sprinkle your sprinkles onto the exposed frosting, and that’s it! (If you mess up a cookie, it’s totally fair game to eat. Just sayin’.) If the cookies aren’t completely cooled, you can actually melt your frosting, though, so please ensure that they’re cooled. (It usually only takes an hour for my cookies)

That’s it! Just make and repeat for various holidays as needed. They’re insanely good and super fun and festive to make.

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Know What’s In your Hard Cider When You Make It With Mr. Beer

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If you remember, I did an earlier post about how the Mr. Beer Hard Cider brewing kit would be a great holiday gift. Turns out, I thought it would too because I ended up getting one myself! We’ve had great experience with the Mr. Beer beer brewing kits, so I thought it was time to try out the hard cider ones.

I actually think I prefer brewing hard cider instead of beer. I think it’s actually a little bit easier, so if you’re someone who is split between the two, I’d recommend starting with the homemade hard cider kit. I’ve just finished the brewing, and now my hard cider will need to sit around for a couple weeks to ferment. It can sit around for a bare minimum of a week to get the fermentation it needs, but I’ve read multiple sources that recommend letting it sit out for even longer for better-tasting hard cider. I like better tasting, and my patience is luckily okay with waiting.

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It’s super, duper simple. Even if you have no experience with home brewing, you can have a batch of hard cider started fermenting within 40 minutes (and that’s including the time you have to wait for the water to boil or your supplies to sterilize). It only requires some house-hold items such as a measuring cup, spoon, pan, and granulated sugar. Everything else you’ll need, including the bottles to keep your hard cider in, are all included in the kit.

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See? Everything you’ll need to start your first home brew is all included in the box! It’s all pretty and clean, and they even include optional Mr. Beer Hard Cider stickers to put on your hard cider bottles if you’d like. They also have bottle caps for the bottles and everything. It pretty much means you’ll be ready to make your hard cider as soon as you open the box.

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To start, you have to sterilize your equipment. The instructions are clearly printed and easily explain each step (I’d actually argue that the Hard Cider instructions are much, much easier to follow than the Beer-making instructions). The no-rinse sterilizing powder is already included. It just requires pouring some water and letting your items soak for a minimum of 10 minutes.

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Done. Look at how easy that was.

After that, you just have to boil 4 cups of water, add in the bottles of apple juice mix (which smell very strongly of apple. It’s kinda neat!), and add in sugar. Once you’ve mixed all of that together, it all gets transferred into the Mr. Beer Hard Cider keg where you add more water, mix everything up really well, and then you add your yeast. That’s it! Now I just have to wait a couple weeks in order for the fermentation to be over.

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After I finished with my Mr. Beer Hard Cider batch, I went onto making a batch of Mexican Cerveza beer as well. It was super easy to do both of them – though I definitely preferred the process of making the hard cider over the beer.

Give it a couple weeks, and we’re going to have a delicious home-made beer ready to go.

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Giveaway: Tools for Sticking with the Healthier You from Gorton’s Seafood

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New Year’s Eve has come and gone which means that your well-intentioned New Year’s Resolutions are well underway. Did you know that most people tend to abandon their resolutions by the end of February, and quite a few abandon it before the end of January? Depending on how much of a lifestyle change you’ve had to make, it makes sense that it might be hard to keep up with the changes you’re making. You made that resolution for a reason, though, so stick with it!

A Food-Logging App: Study after study has shown that one of the biggest determiners in losing weight is logging food. It might not seem important, but it’s easy to overeat without even realizing it. Not only that, but if your goal is to focus on getting healthier, you want to make sure you’re hitting macronutrient targets like fiber or protein. For that reason, you really need a good food-logging system. Some people prefer journals or writing it down, but one of the most popular methods is an online or phone application. Spark People offers great articles, a food logging program, recipes, and tons more. It’s an entire community of people who want to be healthier!

Adorable Workout Gear: I can’t tell you how many times the only thing getting me to my workout has been the idea of the adorable and lovely workout gear that I bought just for that purpose. I love smiling as I pick up a weight or feeling more peaceful because all of my yoga accessories match in a cute pink color. If having matching workout gear or workout clothes makes you happy (I love brightly-colored workout shoes!), do it! If you don’t have the money to go all-out with your gear all at once, consider making mini goals. If you work out 20 days out of the month, you’ll treat yourself to some new gear. It’s an easier way to stay motivated!

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Easy-to-Make Healthy Food: It’s important that you have tried-and-true foods around your home that are healthy and simple to make. For those days when you come home from work and are tempted to go out to eat because making a dish would be “too hard”, you need to have some of these around! I highly recommend Gorton’s Seafood items. All it takes is a little bit of cooking time in the oven, and you’ll have healthy seafood that’s a delicious source of protein and provides essential Omega 3’s. You don’t have to worry about adding in other ingredients unless you want to!

Gorton's Seafood Delicious (and Healthy!) Food Options

Good & Healthy Recipes: For when those tried-and-true foods end up tasting a little bit bland, though, you need to make sure you have websites you trust to scour for new recipes and dishes to make. They need to be healthy recipes, though! Often, you can find healthy ways to spice up your items from the manufacturer’s websites. For example, Gorton’s Seafood has an entire seafood recipe section that lists delicious ways to add flavoring to your favorite seafood items. For those days when you are willing to put out a bit more effort to have something really good, you need to know where to find good and healthy things to make.

On-Going Inspiration: You’re not going to want to work out or eat correctly every day. Some days it’s going to be really hard to stay on track. That’s why constant inspiration is important. Check out Tumblr, google image, or Instagram to keep inspired to go workout. Check out the hashtag “#fitquotes” on Instagram to see fitness quotes or add some of your own!

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Support System: One of the reasons that people succeed at their weight loss is because they have a good support system to keep them moving along. Whether you just go online and talk to an online community such as SparkPeople or you enlist your neighbor or your sister, having someone to be accountable to helps increase your chances of sticking with it. Find a great support system!

Ready to change your own life with some added push from a challenge? You know you are! The SparkPeople Realistic Resolution Challenge gives you something small to try every day for the month of January. Every day you complete the challenge, you’ll earn 5 sparkpoints! You also will earn points for trying the healthy seafood products that Gorton’s Seafood offers! It’s kinda win-win!

While you’re at it, enter Gorton’s Eat Smarter Sweepstakes. Someone is going to take home $5,000 in order to have a healthier lifestyle for the new year! Not only that, but print out this coupon to save money on Gorton’s Grilled items while you eat even healthier. 

While you’re at it, don’t forget to like Gorton’s on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram. Want to reach out directly to them? Use the hashtag #RealisticResolution in your posts!

WIN IT: Gorton’s has generously offered to send a Gorton’s Seafood Healthy Living Prize Package to one lucky winner! Your prize package will include 2 full-value Gorton’s product coupons, an insulated tote, the SparkPeople cookbook, the Spark book, and the SparkPeople Boot Camp DVD. It’s everything you need to start your healthier lifestyle with a bang!

To enter, simply complete the form below (one entry per person, per method). Info collected will only be used to verify the winning entry and contact the winner. This giveaway will close on January 30th at 11:59pm EST. The contest is open to readers in the US only. One winner will be picked randomly through Rafflecopter and I will contact them via email. Winner will have 48 hours to respond with mailing address or another winner will be chosen.

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