Boo! Read About the History of the Jack-o’-Lantern

Carving pumpkins is a beloved tradition in most households, but this history of the jack-o’-lantern dates back much farther than just your own family’s Halloween festivities. Here are a few interesting points about the history of the spooky, silly jack-o’-lantern.

  • The name “jack-o’-lantern” is derived from a 17th century British term that described a man carrying a lantern, usually a night watchman. Townspeople began to call the mysterious lights that they often saw over the wetlands "jack-o’-lanterns" because they thought that they were ghosts or spirits.
  • Irish tradition also uses the term jack-o’-lantern in a story about Stingy Jack, a man who was forced to wander the earth for all eternity with only the light from a dull ember.
  • In some parts of Great Britain, it became customary for children to carry jack-o’-lanterns door-to-door on All Saints Day to represent the souls of deceased relatives.
  • Irish immigrants brought the tradition of the jack-o’-lantern with them to the United States, and they soon began to use the more readily available pumpkin instead of the turnip.
  • Pumpkin carving and the jack-o’-lantern didn’t become a part of Halloween tradition until the late 19th century, almost 200 years after it was initially invented.

History of the Jack-O’-Lantern [History Channel]
What’s the Origin of Jack-O’-Lanterns? [Mental Floss]
Why Do We Carve Pumpkins on Halloween? [About News]

Put a Bounty of Basil to Good Use With These Three Recipes

Is your windowsill herb garden threatening to take over the whole room? Do you have an abundance of basil just waiting to be muddled, chopped or shredded? It can be difficult to incorporate basil into more than just your standard recipes, but these inspiring dishes will help.

Basil Oil [Food Network]
Infuse all of your dinners with the sweet taste of basil when you cook with this simple, flavorful basil oil recipe. Simply add a handful of basil leaves to one cup of olive oil, then puree in a blender until the whole mixture is smooth. Simmer in a saucepan for three minutes, strain, and store the finished product in an air-tight container for up to one week’s worth of basil-flavored meals.

Lemon Basil Pasta Salad [Food Network]
Lemon and basil go together like peanut butter and jelly, and this recipe further proves that. Lemon juice, olive oil, and fresh basil create a perfect marinade for a summer pasta salad filled with plum tomatoes and farfalle noodles.

Lemon Basil Custard Pie with Red Berries [Martha Stewart]
If you’ve never tried basil in a dessert before, you’re in for a real treat with this tangy pie. The inside is made up of a basil-infused custard, a buttery crust lines the edges and fresh berries add a burst of fruity flavor on top.

School Organization

We wanted to share a few organizational tips and tricks to make the school mornings a little easier!

Click here to read more.

Afraid of Heights? These Tips Can Help You Overcome Your Fear!

Avoiding roller coasters or mountain peaks may not seem very difficult, but when your fear of heights starts to affect areas in your everyday life, it can become a hindrance. Here are some simple ways to eliminate your fear of heights—or at least learn to manage it.

  1. Think logically. Your fear of heights is likely so engrained in your mind that you don’t even consider it anymore. In order to overcome this fear, you need to think logically about it. Tell yourself how unlikely it is that a skyscraper or a longstanding bridge would ever collapse. If it helps, research statistics about the likelihood of the events that you fear actually happening. Once you realize how slim the chances are, you’ll start to take the edge off of your phobia.
  2. Relax. It’s easy to work yourself up before encountering heights, and that’s when you usually lose your nerve. By relaxing your mind, taking a few deep breaths, and willing yourself not to get upset, you can start to feel more rational about heights.
  3. Face your fear. The only real way to overcome a fear of heights is to face it. Don’t immediately run to the top of the nearest skyscraper, however; start gradually, like at a small bridge in your neighborhood. By slowly encountering heights you’ll become more used to them, and over time you won’t feel the need to panic.

How to Overcome Your Worst Fears [Lifehacker]
How to Overcome a Fear of Heights [wikiHow]
Overcoming Fear [Essential Life Skills]

3 Health Benefits of Strength Training Exercises

Even if you don’t plan on bulking up or competing in weight lifting competitions any time soon, strength training is a crucial part of any exercise regimen. Here are three great reasons to incorporate weight training into your workouts.

  1. It promotes strong bones. Weakening bones is a concern that all people have to face as they age. The stress that strength training puts on your bones increases their density and prevents osteoporosis, keeping you strong and healthy as years pass.
  2. It helps to control your weight. While you might relate weight loss with intense cardiovascular workouts, strength training is just as important if you want to lose weight. Gaining muscle increases your metabolism and causes your body to burn calories more efficiently.
  3. It gives you more energy. Like all workouts, strength training increases your stamina and helps you to stay alert and focused. After a few weeks of regular weight lifting or body weight exercises, you’ll notice that you feel more energized throughout the day. Some scientific studies even show that years of regular strength training exercises help to sharpen your focus and keep your mind attentive as you age.

Strength training: Get stronger, leaner, healthier [Mayo Clinic]
7 Reasons to Add Strength Training to Your Workout Routine [Everyday Health]
Benefits of Strength Training [Body Building]

You’re Sure to Love These Marvelously Minty Recipes

Mint adds a special flavor to anything that you add it to, whether you muddle a bit in your favorite cocktail or use it to bring a bit of cool zest to marinated vegetables. Mint is also a very easy herb to raise in an herb garden, so it’s convenient to always have on hand. Here are just a few unique mint recipes that you’re sure to love.

Cucumber Lime Mint Agua Fresca [Simply Recipes]
This traditional Mexican fruit drink blends the cool, refreshing flavors of cucumber, lime, and mint into a juicy beverage that’s ideal for a hot summer day. Though the combination may seem strange, you’ll become a believer as soon as you take the first sip of this flavorful drink.

Zucchini, Mint and Yogurt Spread [The Kitchn]
Middle Eastern dips, like hummus and baba ganoush, taste wonderful on warm pita bread, but they can be a bit hearty for a simple snack. This zucchini and yogurt spread offers a much lighter texture, but the addition of mint and lemon brings out an intense flavor that’s just as delicious.

Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls [AllRecipes]
Instead of ordering in the usual fried spring rolls from your local takeout spot, try these Vietnamese spring rolls for a healthier take on your favorite side dish. Thin rice wrappers hold the fresh veggies together, while Thai basil and mint leaves provide a bold, complex taste.

Clever Ways to Organize Books

A bookworm’s home is a cozy one, filled to the brim with nonfiction and fiction titles in every nook and cranny. However, that often means that your ever-growing book collection feels like it’s taking over your house, with no real place to store it. Before you invest in yet another bookshelf, check out these creative tips for organizing your books.

  1. Declutter. Like with most organization efforts, the first step is ridding your book collection of clutter. Donate books that you haven’t looked at in years and start fresh with only the ones you really love.
  2. Choose a style of organization. Next, decide which type of book organization makes the most sense for you. Fiction and nonfiction? Alphabetically? By author? No matter which way you choose, it’s bound to make finding your books much easier.
  3. Place books on shelves. Once you decide on how to catalog your books, place them back on the shelves with the titles all facing in the same direction and the spines facing outward.
  4. Add some interest. To make your bookshelves look more visually appealing, intersperse your titles with stacks of books arranged vertically rather than horizontally. Add some pretty bookends, or even organize books by color for a designer-inspired look.
  5. Branch out. Don’t feel confined to bookshelves. Stack your books on coffee tables, on ledges or even across windowsills for a unique storage solution.

Easy Organizing: Tips for Books and Home Library [Good Housekeeping]
How To Organize Books [Home Storage Solutions]
Unique Ways to Organize Books [PopSugar]

How to Add Organic Touch to Your Home’s Decor

Going organic doesn’t end at the grocery store. In fact, there are a number of different ways that you can incorporate organic elements throughout your entire home. Here are just a few great ways to add a natural touch to the decor in your living space.

  • Create a nature-inspired vignette. If you admire something beautiful on your morning walk, such as a unique branch or a particularly interesting stone, add it to a stack of books on a tabletop to create a flawless vignette.
  • Create stone hot pads. Glue smooth, flat stones to the surface of simple kitchen hot pads to keep your countertops protected from hot pots and pans.
  • Choose natural rugs. Soft, organic materials like jute and hemp look beautiful when woven into a rug, and they’re much friendlier on the environment than synthetic versions.
  • Create organic centerpieces. The next time you host a dinner party, fill a ceramic vase with foraged tree branches or add pine cones to a clear bowl for a unique centerpiece inspired by the outdoors.
  • Change up your drapes. One of the simplest ways to bring the outdoors in is by allowing as much natural light as possible into your home. Switch out heavy drapes with soft, sheer panels to maximize the light.

Decorating with Natural Elements [Better Homes & Gardens]
10 Simple Ways to Bring the Outdoors Inside [Freshome]
Decorating with Natural Elements from Natural Kitchen and Home [Pinterest]

Interior Design Rules That Everyone Should Know

The expertise of a trained interior designer comes at top dollar, so heed this advice before shelling out your hard-earned cash: Most, if not all, home decorators incorporate the same design principles when furnishing and designing a room. You needn't possess a degree—nor a keen eye for design—to apply these rules of thumb to your space! Here are two simple rules to follow:

1) Add round shapes to create visual interest.
Because most furniture is made up of 90-degree angles, be sure to soften these sharp angles by introducing round shapes into your design. This curvature can come from circular-shaped throw rugs, round accents (vases, frames, collectibles, pillows), and lighting fixtures.

2) Think big.
While you can certainly draw inspiration from a smaller collectible, always start the design process with larger pieces, then work your way down to accents. For instance, if you're designing a living room, begin the design process by choosing your sofa and rug, then progress incrementally to smaller and smaller pieces, finishing with accessories.

10 Secrets From Top Interior Designers to Better Your Home [Freshome]
Timeless Home Decorating Tips [Real Simple]
The 7 Rules of Interior Design [Zillow]

Transform Your Ordinary Bookcase Into a Showcase With These Simple Tips

If you frequently find yourself admiring stylish bookcase vignettes on interior design websites, you’re not alone. While these beautiful shelves look effortless online, it can be much more difficult to create one in person. Here are a few simple steps for creating a designer-worthy bookcase — without giving yourself a headache!

  1. Alternate books. Instead of lining your books up library-style, alternate their direction by also adding stacks of horizontal-facing books. You can even place a small paperweight or candle on top of those stacks to add more visual interest.
  2. Organize books by color. If your bookshelf is filled to the brim with reading materials, make it look more organized by arranging the titles by color to create a rainbow effect.
  3. Unify mismatched knick-knacks. If your collection of knick-knacks looks a bit shabby, unify the set by painting them all one color. Try a stark white, a bold primary hue, or a fun pop of neon.
  4. Decorate the insides of the shelves. Give your bookshelf itself a makeover by adding a bright coat of paint or a layer of wallpaper to the backs of each shelf.
  5. Add artwork. Instead of just using books and knick-knacks, turn your shelves into an art gallery. Prop up a frame or even hang a picture from the front of the shelves where their corners meet.

Bookshelf Styling Tips: The Basics and Beyond [HGTV]
Styling a Bookshelf: 10 Homes That Get It Right [Design Sponge]
10 Tricks for Styling Your Bookshelves [Style Me Pretty: Living]

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