5 No-Fail New Years Resolutions

By Serena Piper

Every new year it’s the same resolutions. Lose weight, make more money, exercise more, eat better, etc. If those types of resolutions work for you, keep at it. But have you ever found yourself feeling a little defeated when, six months through the year, you realize you fell off the wagon a long time ago? You haven’t lost as much weight as you wanted, your hourly wage is still the same, and despite your best attempts at resisting those candy bars in the grocery store checkout aisles, you have given in to those Kit Kats, and have only been to the gym maybe twice a month to make up for it?

This year, make your resolutions something you’ll be able to check off easily. Here are five easy resolutions to get started with:

1. Volunteer
Volunteering is so easy to get started doing. There are so many organizations out there that need volunteers, including Big Brothers Big SistersHumane Societies, assisted living homes, beach cleanups, etc. To find volunteer opportunities in your area, check the Volunteers section of Craigslist, your local paper, or Volunteer Match.

2. Read
Admiring your friends whenever they talk about a great book they’ve just finished? Aim to read one book every one or two months. You’ll have something to talk about with friends and family, you’ll learn something new, and you’ll pick up a new hobby (if you aren’t already into reading).


Photo credit Casey Fleser

3. Try Something New
Each month, try a new restaurant or cook a new dinner at home. If you choose to eat out, you may find parts of your city you never knew about. If you stay in, it’s a bonding opportunity and/or a great date idea.

4. Out With the Old
Go through your closet each month to see if there’s anything you could get rid of. Old blankets, CDs you can transfer to your computer, and other bulky items will free up a lot of space. Make sure to take those blankest to any animal shelters in your area, as they’re always in need.

5. Keep in Touch
Make it a point to write an email, make a phone call, or even write on the Facebook wall of a family member you haven’t caught up with in awhile. This year, make it a point to invest in family relationships.


5 Things Under $20 To Make Your Home Happier

By Serena Piper


After each work day, are you happy or sad to be home? If you’re sad, we have a problem. Your home should be a place you want to be, not a place where you’re depressed. A home is usually defined as not something physical, but where your family and the people you care about are. But if you can’t have that, there are some things you can do to create a space you love and feel comfortable in anyway.

1) Plants. Whether it’s flowers or an easy-to-care-for spider plant, place them next to your bed, on the dining table, or in the middle of your living room for a beautiful accent. Tip: skip the fake flowers and buy fresh $5 flowers from your local farmer’s market. Or try a DIY succulent windowsill garden.

2) Picture frames. I’ve long been a fan of the minimalist lifestyle (living with less), but that doesn’t mean your walls have to be completely empty. Instead of hanging up every picture you own, pick a few of your favorites and add character to them with new frames. I like West ElmSix Trees, and World Market.

3) Give your walls personality. If you have a lot of dark furniture, this is your chance to brighten things up. Choose light colors, such as beige, eggshell white, or even a Coos Bay blue. Landlord won’t give you permission? Buy a removable wall decal.

4) Play up your senses. Candles instantly change the mood of a room. They’re an inexpensive, easy, and evocative way to create a certain ambience. Check out Bed Bath & Beyond’s selection of holiday-themed candles.

5) Change the little things. Buy new drawer pulls for your kitchen cupboards, buy scented shelf liners, change the dining room table cloth, or change your shower curtain. Sometimes it’s the small things that make such a noticeable difference.

The key to getting that “I actually like my home” feeling is thinking of what makes you happy and incorporating that into your décor choices. You don’t have to make all of these changes at once, just pick one or two to start with and work your way up.