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Makes Me Smile...

This week we were out for a socially-safe-distanced dinner and one of our friends said that for happiness you need three things—someone to love, something to do, and something to look forward to.

It was a lighting strike moment for me. I've been incredibly lucky that I have a full cup in the first with family and friends whom I love and love me back. Creating the The Feeder has given me the second. I really do love putting together stories and ideas that hopefully resonate with you and working with all our amazing contributors.

Number three I realized is the one I have to work at. In general, I do try to plan something to look forward to—a walk with a friend, a special dinner that I haven't cooked in a while, a family movie night, a perfectly balanced cocktail, or baking a sweet treat. Without even realising it, I've been building in small gifts to keep me going.

Now that I know the power of these little moments of joy, I'm going to make sure I build in more small treats so I always have something to look forward to.

What do you look forward to that makes you smile?

 

Book Nook

by Books Contributor Alison

June gloom gave way to a STELLAR reading month in July. I read 16 books and it was hard to figure out which were my favorites because they were all so so good, but these are my top seven. I’m glad it was such a good month because I haven’t even finished one book yet in August—our new puppy, Panda, is taking all my reading time! 

The Nickel Boys was heartbreaking and amazing. I know the Pulitzer committee isn’t waiting for my endorsement, but ya got it!

The Glass Hotel. How can I even explain this book—except it is the most perfectly plotted book ever!

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires. Steel Magnolias meets Stephen King—like nothing I’ve read before. Hilarious and gory all at the same time.

My Own Country: A Doctor's StoryAbraham Verghese’s first book, a memoir about being a doctor in the dawn of the AIDS crisis, startlingly parallels how the government is handling the current pandemic. 

New Waves. A great recommendation from a friend about a startup is perfect for anyone who has ever had a job!

Friends and Strangers. I loved this book so much. An exploration of the relationship between a new mom and her nanny. Hilarious and cringeworthy.

Finally, 28 Summers by my favourite writer, Elin Hilderbrand, I was saving this and saving this because I didn’t want it to be over. My mom told me she was halfway through it and had to discuss. So I had to read it. I loved this “Same Time Next Year” story and don’t want to wait for her next book!

Happy Reading!

4 Stress-free Stress Reducing Techniques

by Stacey Raza

As a personal trainer and nutritionist, I get a lot of questions about what to eat and how to exercise to get into better shape. But I often need to look beyond that, because what many of us don't realize, is that stress is as big a factor as nutrition and exercise when it comes to health.

Finding ways to reduce stress shouldn't stress you out. So, I've put together a list of easy meditation techniques that you can start right now! Take a breath...and let the stress go.
 

Use an App

There are so many good apps out there for meditating that trying to sort through them alone can be stress inducing. Two of my favorites are Headspace and Calm. While they both have subscriptions (yearly access for about the same price most of us pay for a bottle of wine!), they both have plenty of free content or offer a free trial so you can see what works for you.

Hint: I always subscribe to the free trial session and then immediately cancel it. This way you still get access to content until the end of the trial, but you don’t have to stress-out about being charged if you forget to cancel when the trial period expires.
 

Scan Your Body

Practicing body scanning can help break the cycle of physical and psychological tension. Body scanning simply means paying attention to parts of the body and bodily sensations in a gradual sequence from your feet to your head. You can practice body scanning anytime you feel stress, try it several times throughout the day to create a regular practice.

Try this quick-start version. Sit comfortably and start noticing your breathing. In-and-out. Become aware of any place in your body that seems to be carrying tension. Breathe into those places and begin to visualize the tension leaving your body through your breath and evaporating into the air.
Try this longer version where you scan your whole body.
 

Walking Meditation

You probably can’t think of the last time you walked outside and just focused on your surroundings. We are usually on our phones, listening to a podcast or music, or distracted by any number of other things and don’t always notice the pleasant things in our surroundings.

A walking meditation syncs your body and mind giving you an opportunity to gather awareness of the moment. Basically, you walk without distraction and listen, watch, and smell the world around you tuning into positive things. This is another one of my favorites because it is super easy to fit into your daily routine. It takes less than five minutes to learn how here.
 

Relaxed Breathing

Here's a quick exercise adapted from Harvard Health:

Place your hand just beneath your navel so you can feel the gentle rise and fall of your belly as you breathe. Breathe in. Pause for a count of three. Breathe out. Pause for a count of three. Continue to breathe deeply for one minute, pausing for a count of three after each inhalation and exhalation.

You'll clear your head and the deep breathing is a powerful stress-reduction tool.

Read more about why you should reduce stress.
 


 

Nailed It...Clean, Bright, Strong

by Beauty Contributor Ellie

Recently, I did something I haven't done since my early 20s—look after my own nails. Without regular manicures and pedicures that include polish or gel, I began to really enjoy the look of nice clean, natural nails again. Whether you're a woman or a man, there is something lovely about clean, white, strong nails that just feels good. 
 
So, how do you get bright, white nails?
Try these DIY fix-ups.
 
For new stains, like when you have first removed dark nail polish, try using a toothpaste with baking soda in the formula. Simply massage about a 10 cent piece sized drop into each nail. Let sit for 10 minutes and then rinse off.

Another option is to squeeze a lemon into a shallow bowl and soak your nails in the juice for 10 minutes. 

If your nails have older stains that are quite yellow, make a paste with baking soda and lemon juice. Apply to each nail and let sit for 15 minutes. Again rinse and dry thoroughly.

If totally natural ingredients are not cutting it, add 1 tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide to 3 tablespoons of baking soda add a dash of water or lemon juice and apply to each nail and leave for 15 minutes. Again, rinse and dry thoroughly. 
 
After doing any whitening treatment on your nails make sure you apply a cuticle oil and hand cream to soften and moisturise the skin.

Once you've got those white nails, you want to maintain them.
  1. Massage cuticle oil or simple almond or jojoba oil into the cuticles at night. Oil keeps the cuticles moisturised, they then feed the nail that grows through helping prevent them from becoming brittle and breaking. The massaging stimulates blood flow and growth.
  2. File gently with an emery board, not a metal file. And, file in one direction only rather than see-sawing back and forth, which can weaken the nails.
  3. Don’t over buff your nails. Whilst buffing makes your nails super shiny, it also makes them thinner and weaker, unless you have super thick nails.  

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Tom Collins

We love gin. In fact for my husband's birthday a few weeks ago, I set up a make it yourself gin bar for the small celebration. I put out different types of gins, mixers, fresh juices—lemon, lime, grapefruit, olive(!)—twists, sodas and of course tonics. So, when Amy & Devin sent over this recipe for a Tom Collins my response was, "Yes Please!" This refreshing tall drink is perfect for the last few days of summer...or just on a typical, sweltering Singapore evening.

Ingredients

2 ounces London Dry Gin
1 ounce simple syrup
3/4 ounce lemon juice
Club soda/soda water
Lemon wedge for garnish
Cherry for garnish

 

Mix it Up!

Shake gin, simple syrup, and lemon juice with ice until well chilled—about 15-30 seconds. Strain into an ice-filled high ball glass. Top up with soda and stir gentle. Garnish with lemon wedge and cherry.

For more great cocktails visit cocktailing@home.

by Eliza Fry

Natural Cleaners

Many household cleaners are common pollutants that put harmful substances into the drain and can have negative effects on wildlife. Using natural cleaning supplies is better for the environment, because it doesn't put toxins into waterways and there is less plastic packaging purchased. Natural cleaning supplies can also be cheaper and some people even say they work better!

Kitchen Cleaner and Deodorizer
Mix 4 tablespoons of baking soda with 1 quart of warm water. Use this to wash countertops, clean sinks and pour down the drain to keep it smelling fresh.

Scented All Purpose Cleaner
Mix 1 cup white vinegar and 1 cup of water  in a spray bottle. Add rind from 1 lemon. Let it infuse for a week. Then, use it to clean rubbish bins, wipe away wall smudges, clean counter tops and bathroom sinks. Caution: avoid using acid-based cleaners on granite, as it will damage the stone.  

Glass Cleaner
For windows, mirrors, and glass door panels mix together in a spray bottle: 2 cups water, 1/2 cup white vinegar, 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol (70% concentration), and 1 to 2 drops orange or lemon essential oil. Spritz glass and wipe with a clean newspaper to avoid streaks. Bonus: It's another way to use old newspapers!

About me: I'm a writer, obsessive reader, mother, wife and one half of the marketing team known as Chop Chop.  I love to travel and explore new places, but hate to plan trips. I strive to be a good friend and a great home cook. My friends tease me about my germaphobia and being hyper-organised...it's all good. 
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