January 2020 Slow Living Tips

January 2020 Slow Living Tips

Maybe the promise of the New Year has already lost its shine for you. Maybe you're like me, already back in the daily grind facing the same old struggles you faced in 2019.

But you know what? That's okay. Because 2019 you was enough, and so is 2020 you.
My first slow living tip for the year is this:

Shed the weight of the misguided expectations you have for yourself, and practice radical self-acceptance, instead.

We may be stuck in a totally backwards cultural moment, where invasive capitalism conditions us to believe that what we have and what we are is never enough, and that we are just a purchase away from real happiness. But you know better.

There is so much to gain by letting go of misguided expectations. You'll discover it's easier to say no to things that don't truly serve you. It's easier to focus and see what's actually important. And once you're free from pursuing mirages, you can pursue meaning, instead.

Here's how. Start small by simply observing the way you spend your time. When your To Do list is three items longer than your time, what item do you focus on, first? When you have some free time, how do you spend it? When you're with the ones you love, what are you doing together?

Are you spending any of your time pursuing things that don't truly serve you? (And I mean the real you, not the you you feel pressured to be because of some external expectation.) Stop. Just let those things go, and don't fill that space with new things. Spend that time with yourself, or with the ones you love, and just be.

Time, after all, is our most precious commodity. Spend your time on what matters, and everything else will fall into place.

Welcome to life in the slow lane.

About Luftmensch

At Luftmensch Designs, we believe in slowing down and creating meaning amidst the daily grind.
We live with our head in the clouds, creating whimsical, artful delights that empower you to live in the moment. Transform your family’s morning routine from crazed to celebratory with unique time trackers. Connect to life’s natural rhythms—and teach little ones to do the same—with hands-on calendars to mark the passage of days, moons, and seasons. Join a community of families embracing a more mindful pace. Some of us are Jewish. (Sleepover camp, anyone?). Some are Montessorians. (Mats and rods and pink towers, oh my!) All are quirky, intentional, and brave enough to savor beauty and slow. things. down.

Discover something that makes your heart happy. Take a breath and a browse. Click here for more about us.

January 17, 2020 — Lori Oster
How to Slow Time Down

How to Slow Time Down

My favorite things to create are visual reminders of the passage of time,

calendars, trackers, seasonal bucket lists, holiday printables and decorations. If I can't stop time, I can at least track its movement. Oh that's right, I can't stop time. Sorry for the misleading title. ;)

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We have fallen hard for Calico Critters/Sylvanian Families in our house, so I've created a fun Calico Critters 2020 printable calendar. This is strictly free fan art, for personal use only--the photos in the calendar are not my own, you can find credits for each photo in the calendar.

If you're a Calico Critters fan like us, please enjoy this free gift from me to you.

Did you download my free calendar? Please tell me if you do!

About Luftmensch Designs. At Luftmensch Designs, we live with our head in the clouds, creating whimsical, artful delights that empower you to live in the moment. Transform your family’s morning routine from crazed to celebratory with unique time trackers. Connect to life’s natural rhythms—and teach little ones to do the same—with hands-on calendars to mark the passage of days, moons, and seasons. Join a community of families embracing a more mindful pace. Some of us are Jewish. (Sleepover camp, anyone?). Some are Montessorians. (Mats and rods and pink towers, oh my!) All are quirky, intentional, and brave enough to savor beauty and slow. things. down.

Discover something that makes your heart happy. Take a breath and a browse.

January 01, 2020 — Lori Oster
Current List of Special Days Cards

Current List of Special Days Cards

As of today, these are the 92 special days cards included with your giant wall calendars.

Divider Cards to help you stay organized

  1. winter
  2. spring
  3. summer
  4. fall
  5. blanks
  6. monthly

Fall

  1. Back to school
  2. Happy birthday Dr. Montessori (August 31, 1870)
  3. Autumnal Equinox ((usually falls on September 20, 21, 22, 22, or 23)
  4. Labor Day (first Monday in September)
  5. The Month of Elul begins (typically occurs around August to September)
  6. Rosh Hashanah begins (usually in September)
  7. Yom Kippur (ten days after Rosh Hashanah)
  8. Sukkot begins (seven day festival, begins five days after Yom Kippur)
  9. International Day of Peace (September 21st)
  10. Indigenous Peoples Day (second Monday in October)
  11. Columbus Day  (second Monday in October)
  12. Shemini Atzeret (begins right after Sukkot ends)
  13. Simchat Torah (Celebrated during Shemini Atzeret)
  14. Diwali begins (usually end of October or early November)
  15. Halloween (October 31st)
  16. Dia de lost Muertos begins (October 31st)
  17. Veteran’s Day (November 11th)
  18. Thanksgiving (fourth Thursday in November)
  19. St. Lucia’s Day (December 13th)

Winter

  1. Winter Solstice (usually falls on December 20, 21 22, 22, or 23)
  2. Hanukkah Begins/All eight nights of Hanukkah (typically falls between late November and late December)
  3. First day of winter break
  4. Last day of winter break
  5. Winter break activity cards (cover to be used if you make cards for your students)
  6. Bake cookies to share
  7. Decorate with dried orange slices & cranberries
  8. Play outside
  9. Watch for winter birds
  10. Write down your favorite memories of the year
  11. Build a snowman
  12. Enjoy the decorations around town
  13. Build a gingerbread house
  14. Write a letter to a loved one
  15. Catch snowflakes on your tongue
  16. Find winter flowers
  17. Read stories by candlelight
  18. Invite friends over for hot cocoa
  19. Christmas Eve (December 24th)
  20. Christmas Day (December 25th)
  21. Kwanzaa, all seven nights (December 26th through January 1st)
  22. New Year’s Day (January 1st)
  23. Tu Bishvat  (typically falls in January or February)
  24. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (third Monday in January)
  25. Chinese New Year (typically falls in January or February)
  26. 100th Day of School
  27. Valentine’s Day (February 14th)
  28. Family Day (Canada, third Monday in February)
  29. Presidents Day (third Monday in February)
  30. Leap Day (February 29th)
  31. Purim (usually occurs in February or March)
  32. Holi begins (usually in the middle of March)

Spring

  1. Vernal Equinox (usually falls on March 19, 20, 21, or 22)
  2. Library Week begins (usually the second week in April)
  3. Pesach begins (usually occurs in March or April)
  4. Vaisakhi (usually April 13th or 14th)
  5. Yom HaShoah (usually occurs in April or May)
  6. Yom HaZikaron (usually occurs in April)
  7. Yom HaAtzmaut (occurs the day after Yom HaZikaron)
  8. Easter (the Sunday after the Vernal Equinox)
  9. Earth Day (April 22nd)
  10. May Day (May 1st)
  11. Children’s Book Week Begins (usually occurs in May)
  12. Cinco de Mayo (May 5th)
  13. Ramadan beings (Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which is 10 to 11 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar, so the timing of Ramadan migrates thought the seasons. In 2020, Ramadan will begin in April.)
  14. Mother’s Day (second Sunday in May)
  15. Memorial Day (last Monday in May)
  16. Eid al Fitr (the first day after Ramadan ends)
  17. Father’s Day (third Sunday in June)
  18. Shavuot (50 days after the first Pesach seder, usually occurs in May or June)

Summer

  1. First day of Summer!
  2. Summer Solstice aka midsummer / first day of summer! (usually falls on June 20, 21, or 22.)
  3. Independence Day (July 4th)
  4. Tisha B’Av (usually occurs in July or August)

Monthly

  1. New moon
  2. Waxing crescent
  3. First quarter
  4. Waxing gibbous
  5. Full moon
  6. Waning gibbous
  7. Last quarter
  8. Waning crescent

Blanks

  1. Fall background
  2. School supplies background
  3. Spring background
  4. 8 blank cards
  5. Field trip!
January 01, 2020 — Lori Oster
How To Throw a Proper Harry Potter Party

How To Throw a Proper Harry Potter Party

Here's what you need for a proper Potter party: great decorations, lots of Potter fans, the movies playing in the background, and great food and drinks. I've got you covered with my free Pin the Scar on Harry game.

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Did you know that I have tons of other fantastic printables to help you live a connected, slow life. And I offer a limited line of my designs on apparel and mugs, too.

Are you on Instagram? Follow me over there to be the first to know when I post new free Harry Potter printables!

Okay, okay. I know what you're thinking. Give me the HP printables! Keep reading, my friend.

Harry Potter is actually the reason I started creating digital designs. We had epic HP movie marathon weekends when my niece and nephew were small--they're 17 and 21 years old now!--and of course we needed to set the mood with decorations.

So here's the rub: Harry Potter is protected by copyright, so you can only use these things for personal use, and I can only share them with you for free. Your local print shop may not be willing to print these or any other items that are derived from copyright protected characters for you, so call before you send them in for printing.

Don't forget: if you love Hary Potter follow me on Instagram! I share lots of great free printables, you don't want to miss out.

Download your free Pin the Scar on Harry game here. Be sure to print your game poster at 18" x 24" and your lightning bolts at full size at regular letter-size (8.5' x 11"). This way the bolts will fit perfectly. Enjoy!

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December 30, 2019 — Lori Oster
How To Make Space for Meaningful Connection

How To Make Space for Meaningful Connection

It's a radical thing to commit to a life in the slow lane, to resist the pressure and conditioning to GO GO GO. It's radical, but it's worth it. 

I invite you to create a monthly ritual of connection in your home. I know all too well how easy it is to get so swept up in the daily grind. Days blur, and suddenly you can't remember the last time you shared a belly laugh with your kids. (This is why I create all of my printables, after all. They are all designed to help you slow down and savor the moment.)

A simple way to make space for meaningful connection is to create a monthly ritual of connection is to make an adventure box.

I found this idea here when I was searching for new ideas for giving my kids experiences instead of things for Hanukkah.

It's pretty simple. Here's how it works:

  • Print and cut your adventure box cards (or make your own!)
  • Put each card in its own envelope labeled with the month
  • Put the envelopes in a box or some other container, and give it to your kids.
  • Voila! You are now the proud owner of an adventure box!

This adventure box makes the perfect New Year's Eve activity. Give it to the kids while you celebrate, and plan to spend 2020 making memories.

How do I make it?

  • Get your FREE! download of my adventure box cards when you sign up for my monthly newsletter. (Or make your own cards!) My printable includes twelve monthly adventure cards and one invitation card to give to your children when they open the box. Each adventure card features seasonal (northern hemisphere) imagery and text about that month's adventure.
  • Print and cut your cards. My cards have two versions: one is a scratch-off version, and one is a regular version. (See below for details about how to make the scratch-off version.)
  • Put each card in an envelope, label the envelope with the month's name, and put them all in a box. I use a photo box.
  • Wrap the box and give it to your children with the intro card. (The last page of my download has three intro cards on it in case you want to print one for each child.)
  • At the beginning of every month, open that month's card and make plans for your adventure!
  • I like to collect a memento from each experience to put back into that month's envelope. Then at the end of the year we go back through the envelopes and reminisce on our year of adventures together.

What adventures will we be going on?

If you choose to use my adventure box printable, you'll be doing these things over the next year:

  • January: Let's go to an indoor play place!
  • February: Let's go out for hot cocoa!
  • March: Let's try something new (you fill this one in yourself)
  • April: Let's invite friends for a game night!
  • May: Let's have a YES DAY!
  • June: Let's check out a new local spot!
  • July: Let's make our own ice cream!
  • August: Let's have an end of summer party!
  • September: Let's have a make-your-own-pizza party!
  • October: Let's have a family date night!
  • November: Time for another YES DAY!
  • December: Let's go to the movies!

I will be posting ideas and resources for each of these adventures throughout the year for everyone who uses my cards, but they are all pretty simple, and of course they're designed for your family to make them into whatever serves you best.

How do I make scratch-off cards?

I purchased these 1" round scratch-off stickers from Amazon, but you can also make your own scratch-off paint with just a few ingredients:

All you need is:

  • liquid dish soap
  • acrylic paint
  • clear packing tape
  • a paint brush

Mix 1 part liquid dish soap to 2 parts paint for your scratch-off paint. Cover the scratch-off circle with packing tape, and then paint over the circle part. Depending on your paint, this might take a couple layers. Once the paint is dry, your cards are ready to go into their envelopes!

Are you ready for a year of meaningful connection? Join me in the slow lane to receive this free printable, as well as a monthly newsletter with a free printable and ideas and tips about slow living.

December 30, 2019 — Lori Oster
How To Make Unhurried New Year's Resolutions

How To Make Unhurried New Year's Resolutions

It's no secret that I have a fixation with the passage of time, and there's no day of the year where I feel more seen than New Year's Day. Everyone is fixated with time on this day, I'm not alone! We throw parties. We drink champagne. We countdown to midnight. And we make resolutions.

Oh, do we make resolutions.

We look at the year ahead with all those clean, as-of-yet-unlived days, and we imagine the future selves that we wish to become. We make public declarations. We compile lists. We whisper promises to ourselves.

This is year, we say.

But I'm here to challenge you to take a different approach this year. Instead of making resolutions focused on goals and accomplishments, I challenge you to do these things, instead:

Forget the goals, and focus on habits.

Goals are wonderful, I have nothing against them. But habits are where it's at. Habits create routines, and those goals you would be setting will only become realities if you engage in daily, weekly, and monthly routines that support them.

If you want to be healthier, identify the daily habits that will make that happen. If you want to write a novel, the only way to get there is to you develop the habit of sitting down and putting words on paper every day.

Accept yourself exactly as you are, right now.

Future you is exactly the same person as current you. Maybe you have some work you want to do on your behaviors or habits or thoughts, but you are wonderful exactly as you are. Practice radical acceptance of yourself, regardless of how many things you wish to change about your life this year. You are wonderful exactly as you are.

Be relentless when it comes to saying no.

The real secret to developing all those habits you wish to develop this year is saying no to every single thing that doesn't serve you. And I mean every. thing. I really like Warren Buffett's 5/25 rule for gaining clarity here, Google it. 

Repeat these mantras until you start living them:

Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. - Mary Jean Irion

Imagine you woke up today and had only those things for which you were grateful yesterday.

Post these lines somewhere you will see them every day. Repeat them as needed--when you're feeling pressure to bend to cultural or peer pressure that doesn't serve you, when you're distracting yourself with idle scrolling and missing opportunities to be present in your own life, when you could use a reminder of how lucky you are to for every normal day you get to live that is unmarked by the significance that tragedy, trauma, and struggle bring.

If you must speak the language of resolutions this year, let your resolutions be these:

  • to develop habits that serve you
  • to practice radical self-acceptance
  • to say no to invasive distractions
  • and to relish in every simple, unremarkable day you get to experience this year.

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December 27, 2019 — Lori Oster
How To Get Your Kids Out of the House On Time

How To Get Your Kids Out of the House On Time

In this post I will give you a foolproof method for getting your kids out of the house on time every morning.

Bahahahahahahaha! As if.

Sorry, it's just not possible. But, I do have a simple tool for bribing your children to move a teensy bit faster in the mornings. It's worth a shot, right?

I've been at this parenting thing for just over seven years now, and I'm doing pretty well with some of the typical challenges. Sleep deprivation? We bought a great coffee maker. Plus a backup French press, just in case. Lack of me time? I read this book and it helped me realize I have enough time if I spend it intentionally.

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But one thing I continue to struggle with is getting out of the damn house in the mornings. My son moves like molasses on an iceberg, and no amount of begging, yelling, nagging, or swearing, motivates him. I've tried. And of course little sister follows suit. And I need to get out on time. I have a job, and I need to keep that job, so getting there is kind of important. And there's also the small detail of it being important for children to arrive to school on time every day, for learning purposes and whatnot.

When my son was younger I made visual time trackers that worked really well for a while. (Seriously, try those first if you have a two or three or four year old.) But lately? Nope. My boy is seven now, and he does what he wants.

So I decided to tap into the deep well of child rearing wisdom from which we came, and to try the time-honored tradition of bribery.

And you know what? It worked.

So now, we track on time days. And for every full week that we get out of the house on time, every day, Monday through Friday, I promise my children a special treat over the weekend. And I don't feel one bit guilty about it. We eat really well at home, and the stress of rushing and hurrying costs us all more than a sweet treat on a Saturday morning.

So if you're like me, and you need some help getting out of the house on time, this on time tracker is my gift to you, my friend. In solidarity, from one tired parent to another. I'm pleased to report that using this tracker has significantly cut down on my morning swearing habit.

Check out my other printables!

Did you know I design apparel and accessories, too?

So, how do you get your kids out of the house on time? Share your wisdom in the comments!

December 27, 2019 — Lori Oster
How to Slow Down

How to Slow Down

Can you feel it? Pressing in from all sides?

Invading spaces that were once sacred, but they're connected in all sorts of wrong, insidious, terrifying ways now.

Black Friday mania. Obligatory social engagements. Picture-perfect days out and about with the kids, taking in every single opportunity available. Not a frown in sight.

Well, it's all too much for me, and I quit. Will you join me?

Everything I create is designed to help you slow down and savor the moment.

Let's drop out of out of the chaos and pressure and make space for meaningful connection with the ones we love.

Let's say no to consumerism, to this notion that you can buy some thing tomorrow that will somehow transform how you feel about your life today.

Let's be revolutionary and fight against the machine that feeds itself on our mass delusion that giving an item to someone is somehow more valuable than giving them our time.

Let's start new traditions this year. Skip the store-bought decorations and games and gifts, and make your own, instead. Skip the endless shopping trips for more and better presents, and make time for the people you love, instead. Skip the stress of picture-perfect parties and throw a good-enough gathering, instead.

Say no to stress, and debt, and pressure this year, and say yes to meaning, and connection, and memories

Will you be a rebel and protect your time? Say it with me: Buzz off consumerism, and social pressure, and societal expectations, and the temptation to choose picture-perfect over good-enough.

This year you can find me at home with my chipped nails sipping instant hot chocolate in my messy house, with my messy kids, and my probably-napping-on-the-couch husband. We'll be lighting candles and hanging homemade decorations and definitely eating a lot of takeout. And it will be grand.

Won't you join us?

Make your own gifts with my beautiful printables

Make your own decorations with my simple printables

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December 25, 2019 — Lori Oster
How To Make a Simple DIY Felt Wall Menorah

How To Make a Simple DIY Felt Wall Menorah

DIY is always better than store bought.

Always. Besides, we couldn't find satisfying Hanukkah decorations in the store even if we wanted them. (Why do retailers believe Jews only decorate in blue, white, and silver?)

I have so many great DIY Hanukkah decorations for you here!

My favorite DIY Hanukkah decortation is our giant wall menorah, which I made from felt, burlap bags from Target's dollar section, 3M clear clips, and more felt. I hand cut the candles and numbers, and used embroidery floss to make a blanket stitch around all edges. We hang this up under our white felt banner that lives over my son's loft the rest of the year, but he allows us to take his name letters off of it and put these letters spelling MIRACLES on it for the holiday season. (This is one of my favorite minimalist decorating hacks, by the way, using one felt banner for basically every holiday. No need to adhere the letters to the bunting, felt sticks to itself like magic. Voila!)

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To make your own, you'll need:

- Nine pieces of felt in different colors for the candles
- Three pieces of orange felt for the candle flames
- Six pieces of felt for the numbers
- Embroidery floss for stitching your candles and numbers
- A big needle for stitching, preferable with a large eye and a sharp tip to make things easier
- Nine little bags
- Hooks for hanging your bags (I use these)

To make your candles:

SEWN METHOD: Cut as straight a line as you possibly can about two inches in from the short edge of your felt. Do this twice with each candle color, so you should have 18 total when you're finished.

Pair two candle pieces and sew around the edge with a blanket stitch. I liked to make my candles different colors on each side.

Cut nine flame shapes out of your orange felt and sew one to the top of each candle.

LOW-SEW METHOD: Cut you candles out as described above. You can glue them together using hot glue or fabric glue.

To make your numbers:

SEWN METHOD: Cut out two each of the numbers one through eight from your felt. You are going to sew these together using a blanket stitch along the edge like you did with your candles.

Then, sew each number to one of your little bags. I chose to sew mine on the edge of the opening opposite from the hanging string.

NO SEW METHOD: You can always paint or draw the numbers on your bags, too. I think older children would love to paint the numbers on themselves.

To hang your wall menorah:

I used to use nine little 3M hooks, one for each candle, and work really hard to get them straight. Is our wall menorah perfectly straight? NEVER. But that's part of the charm.

Now, I just string the bags onto a long piece of yarn and hang each end on a little hook. I tape the candles directly onto the wall with painter's tape, easy peasy.

To use your wall menorah:

This is where the fun comes in, because you get to use your menorah any way you'd like! In our house, we hang the menorah and put the candles into each bag until Hanukkah comes along, when we tape the appropriate candles up on the wall every night. I also put a dreidel and a few pieces of chocolate gelt in the current night's bag for my kids to find. (I'm kind of regretting this dreidel tradition now that we have accumulated about 60 dreidels, but my babies adores them so the tradition continues.)

How To Host Simple Birthday Parties at Home

How To Host Simple Birthday Parties at Home

I love parties, and I'm a firm believer that we should embrace every opportunity to celebrate and spend time with the people we love.

 

But children's birthday parties? Those can be tricky. We've learned that for us, less is more. We host small birthday parties at home with close family when our children are very small, and then starting in kindergarten, we have a special party for as many guests as the birthday child is old. My son invited five friends out for an afternoon of bowling when he turned five, for example. This keeps things nice and manageable, and nobody ends up crying in the bathroom due to sensory overload. (Did I mention that I'm speaking from experience, here?)

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Our little one just turned three, so we hosted a party at home for her. The kids and I baked and frosted her cake, we grabbed a dozen bagels and brewed some coffee, and we put up "pink, sparkly Calico Critters" decorations, per the birthday girl's request. The grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins came over. We ate, we played games, we even had a pinata. It was a great, low-stress way to celebrate.

I have a special birthday book for each of my children. It's just a picture book that I put out every year with some markers. I ask guests to write a message in the book, and one day my kids will have this sweet collection of notes from their loved ones collected over time.

Simple parties, birthday books. These have become our special birthday rituals. How do you celebrate your children's birthdays? Do you have any simple birthday tips?

Looking for easy decorations? Download some free Calico Critters printables here!

You can find more printables here!

October 01, 2019 — Lori Oster