Our 10 Favorite Valentine’s Day Movies

HeartsOn Valentine’s Day, there’s nothing quite like making some popcorn, curling up with your sweetie, and watching a great romantic movie. In addition to being incredibly cozy, a movie night is an easy and inexpensive date night. To help you plan, here are our 10 favorite Valentine’s Day movies.

Enchanted A rare romantic movie that can be enjoyed by all ages, Enchanted takes the fairy tale idea of love and plants it on its head. Amy Adams plays Giselle, a princess from an animated world banished to New York City (“where there are no happy endings”) by a wicked queen (Susan Sarandon). Giselle’s prince is on his way to save her, but meanwhile, she befriends a lawyer (Patrick Dempsey) and his young daughter. Can Giselle’s ideas about storybook love survive the real world…not to mention a dragon attack? Released in 2004, Enchanted has a lot of PG laughs, making it perfect if your romantic evening must accommodate some younger viewers.

Patrick-Swayze

Image source: Alan Light via Flickr

Dirty Dancing Set in 1963, this 1987 movie was a low-budget box office smash that introduced the world to Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey. The coming-of-age drama follows a privileged teenage girl’s relationship with a dance instructor she meets during her family’s summer vacation. The soundtrack from Dirty Dancing is almost as popular as the movie, ensuring a fun nostalgic trip for your Valentine’s Day.

Somewhere in Time Somewhere in Time is an unusual romance that weaves in hypnosis and time travel. Christopher Reeve plays a young writer who becomes fascinated by an elderly woman he has never met who approaches him and acts as though she knows him. He becomes convinced that they did meet…over 60 years in the past. He studies the idea of time travel through the power of self suggestion. What follows is a story that has made this 1980 movie a true cult classic.

Empire-State-Building

Image source: Roger via Flickr

An Affair to Remember Fate is a complicated thing in this 1957 film starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. A playboy and a singer meet on a cruise ship and fall in love—despite the fact they both are engaged to other people. They agree to meet in six months at the top of the Empire State Building and see if their feelings for each other have not changed.  An Affair to Remember is a wonderful reminder that while true love’s road is never smooth, it is worth the effort to travel it.

The Princess Bride It boils down to those three little words we all long to hear on Valentine’s Day: “As you wish.” The Princess Bride from 1987 is a rare combination of romance, comedy, fantasy, and adventure that actually makes the mix work. Buttercup (Robin Wright) and poor a farm boy Westley (Cary Elwes) are in love. He disappears while seeking his fortune. Buttercup becomes engaged to the evil Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon). Will Westley return in time to save his true love from her murderous fiance? A flop when it premiered, this film has developed a wide following with its quirky blend of comedy and adventure, not to mention its incredible cast that includes Mandy Patinkin, Billy Crystal, Andre the Giant, Fred Savage, and Peter Falk.

Ryan-Gosling

Image source: Gordon Correll via Flickr

The Notebook Based on a book by Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook captured the imagination of a generation. It tells the love story of Noah (played by Ryan Gosling) and Allie (played by Rachel McAdams). In 1940, the young couple is torn apart by class differences, but they never forget each other. This 2004 movie tells their story in a series of flashbacks as an elderly man reads the tale out of a notebook to a fellow nursing home resident.

Better Off Dead If pure romance movies sound a little mushy to you, try Better Off Dead from 1985. It stars a young John Cusack as Lane Meyer, a teenager whose girlfriend just dumped him for an arrogant bully. While he deals with his feelings and tries to get her back, Lane must manage his weird family, wacky friends, and an obsessed paperboy. Through a mix of imaginative dark comedy, attitude and a hint of romance, the movie reminds us we are better off moving on rather than dwelling on a love gone wrong.

When Harry Met Sally… Can men and women just be friends? This 1989 romantic comedy hit tried to answer that question. Along the way, it gets in plenty of laughs over the relationship problems of Harry Burns, played by Billy Crystal, and Sally Albright, played by Meg Ryan. With a snappy script by Nora Ephron, When Harry Met Sally… introduced concepts like “high-maintenance” people, as well as the notorious line, “I’ll have what she’s having.”

Meg-Ryan

Image source: David Shankbone via Flickr

Sleepless in Seattle Set up a Meg Ryan double feature with When Harry Met Sally… and this romantic comedy from 1993. It also stars Tom Hanks as a recently widowed father whose son calls into a radio talk show to help his dad find a new love. Reporter Annie Reed (Ryan) is touched by their story, and she writes a letter to try to meet them. This film also makes a wonderful double feature with An Affair to Remember, because it directly references the classic film, complete with a meeting at the Empire State building.

Casablanca A classic from 1942, Casablanca is, perhaps, the ultimate romance movie. Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and Paul Henreid set up a crackling love triangle in a desert outpost on the edge of a world at war. As the forces of Nazi Germany close in, difficult choices and sacrifices must be made in order to keep love and hope alive.

10 Things to Brighten Your February

As Punxsutawney Phil informed us, there will be six more weeks of winter. But we don’t need a groundhog to tell us that — in most parts of the country right now, we can see outside our winter that we are in the depths of winter. When it’s this cold and snowy, it’s hard to believe we’ll ever see sunshine again. But we can take action to brighten our winter days. Here are 10 things to brighten your February.

Image and video hosting by HilariousGIFs.com1. That’s a face that is only made when someone smaller and fiercer than you takes your favorite warm spot. Dogs can understand about 250 words and gestures, and this kitty’s gesture is one this pup gets. That kitty needs a cozy pet bed of his own!

 

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2. It’s the only place the snow won’t get to him. Cats love enclosed spaces — it’s because they spend most of the day sleeping and, in the wild, it’s a way to shield themselves from predators. But, surely there’s a more comfortable way to stay protected than a tiny waste basket!

 

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2. You ask for attention from baby goats…. you get attention! They’re certainly lively! They’re the reason we get our morning pep — coffee was discovered when goat herders noticed the goats had a lot of energy after munching on coffee beans.

 

Image and video hosting by HilariousGIFs.com4.It’s not the Easter Bunny, but we’ll take him! Did you know that half of the world’s rabbits live in North America?

 

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5. Wait for it… a big bowl of adorable! Fun fact about African elephants: according to the Smithsonian, their pregnancies last 22 months!

 

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6. If only it were that fun for humans to run around an 8’x12′ room! It’s actually not hard to find pigs with this much enthusiasm — according to biologist Lyall Watson, pigs are born optimists.

 

 

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7. It must be Guinea pig feeding time! Do you know how you can tell a Guinea pig is happy? They purr just like cats!

 

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8. This is what happens when two feet of snow is blocking them from getting outside! These guys are so adorable, it’s no wonder more than a million dogs are named as primary beneficiaries in their owners’ wills.

 

Image and video hosting by HilariousGIFs.com9. This is one sneaky kitten! Cats are clever hunters — while stalking prey, to cut down on noise and to minimize their tracks, their back paws step almost directly in the spot where their front paws stepped.

 

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10. Have you ever seen so much joy from being sprayed with water? This isn’t too much of a surprise — raccoons love water. They almost never build their homes more than 1200 feet from a water source.

We’re counting down the days until we can have that much fun in water — but we have a few months. Until then, we have plenty of indoor time to plan our summer fun… and entertain our precious pets!

 

Origins of Groundhog Day

Groundhog-DayIt’s February 2 — it’s the day we look to a hibernating rodent to determine whether we’ll have six more weeks of winter or we’ll get an early spring. Unfortunately, this year, winter gets another stretch, but this is a tradition we’ve clung to since 1887 when the groundhog we rely on was crowned chief prognosticator. But the tradition goes back further in time and farther afield than Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Here’s a brief history of the origins of Groundhog Day.

Referring to a hibernating animal to predict the weather is a German tradition to mark half-way between the winter solstice and the spring equinox called Murmeltiertag (it’s also associated with the religious holiday Candlemas). In the 1800s there were quite a few German settlers in Pennsylvania and they adapted the tradition for their new home. In Germany, they use a hedgehog which is not related to the groundhog, but they both hibernate. It was 1886 when some of the Pennsylvania Germans (a club that now calls itself The Groundhog Club) went into the woods to find a hibernating animal similar to the hedgehog (the hedgehog is not native to North America). What they found is the groundhog they now call Punxsutawney Phil. The club claims the same Phil still makes the prediction every year and stays alive thanks to a special “groundhog punch” he drinks in the summer.

Groundhog-DayWhat might be confusing about the groundhog tradition is how seeing his shadow is a prediction of weather. If it’s sunny enough to create a shadow, you’d think spring is coming, however, according to the German tradition, sunshine and clear skies means storms are brewing. If it’s cloudy with no way for the groundhog to cast a shadow, that means the winter storms are moving out to make way for spring temperatures.

It’s also similar to the Gaelic festival celebrated in Ireland, Scotland and Isle of Man called Imbolc which, over time, sort of fused with the Christian tradition of Candlemas. They had a rhyme for the coming weather:

Groundhog-Day If Candlemas be fair and bright

Come, winter, have another flight.

If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,

Go, winter, and come not again.

Though the origins of Groundhog Day are a patchwork of other traditions, it’s a tradition we love to celebrate. Whether it’s to give us hope for warmer weather to avoid cabin fever or we need a midwinter holiday to get through the following six weeks, it’s something to look forward to every year. And for those of us who are snowed in, it gives us a reason to re-visit the movie Groundhog Day.

Pinteresting Picks for January

Home organization definitely was on the minds of the followers of the LTD Commodities Pinterest boards this month. From a space-saving way to store your mops and brooms to creative ways to keep office supplies handy, LTD has dozens of ways to make your world less cluttered. Speed up your morning with a bathroom shelf with compartments for hair care supplies, accessories, and cosmetics. Store your kitchenware safely with our practical and pretty pan separators. Here are our Pinteresting Picks for January.

Mount the unique Store 'N' Slide™ in the pantry, laundry room, workshop or garage to store 5 long-handled items such as brooms, mops and dusters.

Mount the unique Store ‘N’ Slide™ in the pantry, laundry room, workshop or garage to store 5 long-handled items such as brooms, mops and dusters.

This Desktop Organizer keeps your office supplies close at hand and ready to use.

This Desktop Organizer keeps your office supplies close at hand and ready to use.

Avoid scratches and other damage caused by stacking kitchenware with this Set of 14 Felt Pan Separators.

Avoid scratches and other damage caused by stacking kitchenware with this Set of 14 Felt Pan Separators.

This wooden Ready-to-Go Vanity Shelf adds attractive storage and organization.

This wooden Ready-to-Go Vanity Shelf adds attractive storage and organization.

National Puzzle Day: Benefits of Puzzles

PuzzleJanuary 29 is National Puzzle Day — we’ve been celebrating the day since 1995, but puzzles of all types have been tickling our brains for hundreds of years. Experts say we love puzzles because we like to pick out patterns and build knowledge. The satisfaction we get from that knowledge is only one of the benefits of working through puzzles. Here are 5 benefits of puzzles for National Puzzle Day.

The Whole Brain The left side of the brain is where we work through tasks logically. The right side of the brain houses our intuition. We have to use both logic and intuition to piece puzzles together.

PuzzleBrain Fitness Puzzles give your brain a workout — while it makes you happy to solve a puzzle, it may also keep your brain fit. Just like running and aerobics help keep your heart healthy and prevent disease, so may brain exercises.  Some scientists believe intellectual challenges can slow down the deterioration of the brain we experience with old age — some studies even show a correlation between puzzles and staving off Alzheimer’s disease.

Brain-Building For kids, puzzles aren’t just brain boosters, they’re brain builders. Through puzzles, they develop hand-eye coordination, gross and fine motor skills. Start them off with puzzles with large pieces and have them improve their skills when they graduate to puzzles with smaller pieces.

PuzzleCognitive Skills For adults, puzzles don’t build cognitive skills, but children’s brains are like sponges with puzzles. It helps them learn shape recognition, helps strengthen memory and develops critical thinking skills.

Social & Emotional Skills Puzzles help people of all ages with social and emotional skills. They give us a goal to work toward as well as an exercise in perseverance — setting out a box of pieces can seem insurmountable, but if you want to meet your goal it’s will take work!

Celebrate National Puzzle Day by fitting a few pieces together, solving crossword clues or getting your number in the right spot. Anyway way you celebrate National Puzzle Day, you’re celebrating your brain!

National Corn Chip Day: Our Favorite Corn Chip Recipe to Serve at Your Big Game Party

Chicken-Casserole January 29 is National Corn Chip Day! We’re also just days away from the NFL’s biggest game when the Seattle Seahawks take on the New England Patriots. So, while we’re celebrating the corn chip, we thought we’d also give you some ideas for your Big Game Party!

We love the crunch and salty goodness of a corn chip — it’s an amazing way to add a little texture to a casserole for a tasty game day snack. Here’s our favorite corn chip recipe to serve at your Big Game party:

Chicken-CasseroleCheesy, Crunchy Chicken Casserole

  • 1 small yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 2-10.5 oz cans cream of chicken soup
  • 1-10.5 oz can diced tomatoes with chilis
  • 2 chicken breasts cooked and cubed (about 2 cups)
  • 1-12oz bag of corn chips
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (you can be generous with the cheese)

(if you like it spicy, you can add 1-4 oz can diced green chilis)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375℉.

Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sautee until they are slightly soft and a little translucent. Add cream of chicken soup, diced tomatoes and chicken. Mix well and heat until the mixture is just bubbling.

Chicken-Casserole

Prepare a medium casserole dish (11”x7”) with cooking spray. Make a layer of corn chips on the bottom of the dish. Spoon the chicken mixture over the layer of chips followed by a layer of cheese. Continue layering until you run out of ingredients. There should be three layers with cheese on top.

Chicken-Casserole

Bake for about 30 minutes or until the casserole is bubbly. Let cool on a cooling rack. This recipe makes 4 cups.

Once you starting eating this dish, you won’t be able to stop — and neither will your game day guests! However, if you can’t eat it all by the time your favorite team is celebrating its victory, it makes great leftovers. This casserole is even better the next day or even two days later.

We have more ideas for your Big Game party — check out our Pinterest page for more inspiration to get your party started!

Chicken-Casserole

Celebrate National Have Fun At Work Day

Have-Fun-At-WorkHave you ever thought about how much time you spend at work? Researchers at the University of Illinois have found that most of us spend over 2,300 hours at the office in any given year. It’s high time to make some of those hours more fun. January 28 is National Have Fun at Work Day, and it is a perfect excuse for a little comedy in the cubicle.

How National Have Fun at Work Day is unclear, but what is plain is that it reminds us all of the importance of laughter and camaraderie at the office. Having a little fun at work develops a friendly and positive office culture. Plus, it also improves work satisfaction, morale and loyalty. Here are a few ideas of ways to have a little fun at the workplace on January 28.

potluckPotluck Lunch Everyone has to eat, so why not make the lunch break interesting with a potluck? Host it in the break room or an empty conference room and ask everyone to bring their specialties and favorite dishes. You also can select a theme to inspire some delicious creations. You could also try hosting a chili cook-off or an ice cream social.

Office Supply Crafts All day, you are surrounded by paper clips and sticky notes. Why not get creative with them? Let your imagination run wild, and use office supplies to make new jewelry and crafts. If you have trouble getting started, check out some online collections of . You can even use desk supplies to make your own fleet of!

farkelPlay A Game Invite your office mates to play a game over one of your breaks. It can be as simple as a round of Go Fish or Old Maid with a pack of regular cards. Twisted Farkel is a hilarious game that is suitable for all groups, or you could play a few rounds of Celebrity. Since your break time is limited, try to pick games that do not take a long time to play or set up. The point is to have a little fun in your downtime, not to sweat the details of starting a long board game.

While it should be entertaining, Have Fun at Work Day cannot be an “anything goes” event; after all, you are still at work! Double check with your company’s employee manual or human resources department to make sure your plans will not violate any company rules. In addition, remember to follow basic office etiquette. Of course, make sure your boss or supervisor approves of the activities, and don’t forget to invite them, too.

Seattle vs. New England: Regional Food for the Big Game

fish-and-chipsSunday, February 1, 2015, the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots go head-to-head on the gridiron for football’s championship title. While the players will be battling it out on the ball field, fans and foodies will be duking it out at the dinner table! The Big Game has created a true culinary face-off between two cities and two coasts — but whichever dishes you want to serve at your Big Game party, you’ll be the big winner! Here’s what you have to work with for regional food for the Big Game:

Fish and chips: Both Seattle and Boston boast of some of the best fish and chips in the nation. They both use cod and they’re both served with coleslaw.

Oysters: Seattle and Boston name oysters as hometown favorites. Who has the best should only be determined by experts.

Hot dogs: Seattle makes the hot dog its own by adding cream cheese and grilled onions to it — it was the brainchild of a bagel purveyor who wanted to please late night crowds during the grunge boom of the ‘80s and ‘90s..

Boston hot dog lovers are on the purist side. What makes up Boston’s Fenway Frank (named for the home of the Red Sox) are sauerkraut and mustard. It’s been a Boston fan favorite since the early 1900s.

crabcakesCrab Cakes: Seattle and Boston crab cakes recipes are both derived from Maryland, but Seattle has bragging rights with its Dungeness crabs.

Side dishes: Boston has Boston baked beans. They were a staple for the Pilgrims when they settled in Massachusetts. Settlers didn’t do any work on Sundays to observe the Sabbath — which included cooking meals. To get around this rule, they would cook the beans overnight (molasses being the key ingredient) on Saturdays so they’d have a hot meal to eat on Sunday.

Though it’s not something you can get everywhere in Seattle and they don’t have a rich history (just rich flavor), the garlic fries at Safeco Field are among Seattle’s iconic foods, so we’re pitting them against Boston’s beans. Both the beans and the fries can be made at home with comparable prep times.

Dessert: Boston has an obvious signature dessert: Boston cream pie. A french pastry chef at the Parker House Hotel is credited with coming up with this dessert in 1856. It’s not really a pie — it’s more of a pudding cake (yellow cake, custard filling, chocolate ganache icing) — but it’s celebrated as a Boston favorite and became the official dessert of the commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1996.99668421

Seattle doesn’t have a signature dessert like Boston does, but it does have a famous dessert that can easily be replicated at your Big Game party (and it would make a pretty spectacular end to the game if the Seahawks win): The Lunar Orbiter. Basically, it’s an ice cream sundae served in a bowl atop a bowl filled with dry ice. Before taking a bite, water is poured on to the dry ice to make cloud-like vapors as you eat your sweet treat. They served it at the restaurant that tops the Space Needle for decades, but it’s been replaced by bread pudding, cheesecake parfait and seasonal cobblers.

Of course this list doesn’t include all of each city’s best food (we left off coffee, salmon and clam chowder), but there’s enough on your list to make a pretty amazing spread if you want your Big Game party to outshine the actual game. Even if the team you’re rooting isn’t favored to win, your food will be more than enough for a great party.

Cocktails for Your Big Game Party

footballIt’s the NFC vs. the AFC — the Seattle Seahawks will face the New England Patriots for the Big Game! Now you can really start planning your party for football’s most important weekend of the year.

In addition to rich dips and crunchy chips, cocktails are a must for any Big Game party! Now that we know what teams are contending for the championship title, we can put together perfect cocktails for the team you’re rooting for. Here are a few ideas for cocktails for your Big Game party.

patriots-flagBoston has a number of cocktails that bear its name. While the  Boston Cocktail (3/4 oz gin, 3/4 oz apricot brandy, 1 1/2 tsp grenadine syrup, juice of 1/4 lemon) is the obvious choice because of the name,  Ward 8 has deep roots in the city’s history. It was created in 1898 to honor Boston Politician, Martin Lomasney, and the ward he represented — Ward 8. Here’s how to make it:

  • 2 ounces rye whisky
  • 3/4 ounce lemon juice
  • 3/4 ounce orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon grenadine

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

It’s the cocktail for someone with a sweet tooth. If beer is your preference for snack accompaniment, Sam Adams is still one of the most preferred beers in the nation, but there are several Boston craft beers you can pick from to serve your guests.

seahawks-pictureIn Seattle, super fans of the Seahawks want The Last Word. By “The Last Word,” we mean the cocktail. It was originally created in Detroit in the prohibition era, but during a cocktail renaissance in Seattle, it’s found a new home.

Here’s how to make it:

  • ¾ oz. gin
  • ¾ oz. green Chartreuse
  • ¾ oz. maraschino liqueur, like Luxardo
  • ¾ oz. fresh lime juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Just like Boston, Seahawks love their beer. There are plenty of Seattle beers to choose from but for football fans, the taste of the northwest your guests might be looking for is Rainier Beer.

You don’t have to have a favorite team to cheer on during the Big Game — football’s most important game can be fun for everyone with the right food, drinks and entertainment. Check out LTD for more products and ideas for your Big Game party!

Celebrate Ditch Your New Year’s Resolutions Day

calendarIt’s two weeks into the new year. How are your resolutions doing? If you are like most people, they are not going well. Only 8 percent of people who make New Year’s resolutions manage to keep them, and most resolutions don’t make it past 2 weeks. So you are not alone if you are stumbling. It is so common, there’s even a day to celebrate it—Ditch Your New Year’s Resolution Day on January 17. Sometimes, a little failure can be a good thing. Here are 5 reasons it’s healthy to ditch your resolutions for Ditch Your New Year’s Resolution Day.

They Are Unrealistic And Vague It is easy to bite off more than you can chew when it comes to resolutions. Sadly, these tend to set us up for failure rather than inspire us to achieve greatness. For instance, it would be wonderful if a couch potato transforms himself into a marathon runner. But, the chances of that happening in the real world in a short amount of time are not good. If you do not quickly achieve that lofty goal, you may get discouraged and quit. Likewise, many of us resolve to “be healthier”. Without specific targets, like “eating 5 veggies a day” or “go to gym twice a week”, you may not make it. Research shows that the more specific you make your goal, the more likely you are to succeed. So, get rid of the resolutions to “be nicer” and travel to the moon and try for smaller, specific things you can accomplish.

plannerYou Do Not Have A Plan Having goals is essential to self-improvement, but you need to figure out the steps to that goal to be a success. Remember that couch potato who wants to run a marathon? He has amended his resolution to “running in a local 5K event”. However, he still does not know the way to train for that goal. Without a plan, he cannot hit even this modest target. Take a look at your resolutions, and toss ones that you do not have a plan to accomplish. It’s far better to use your time to concentrate on attainable goals with simple steps than to stress over objectives that are hazy.

Results Will Vary Beware of differences between expected results and actual accomplishments. You may think that a smaller waistline or quitting caffeine will change your life, but you may be wrong. While these may make you healthier, they may not turn you into an entirely new person. It can be easy to slide back into old habits when you discover the new ones will not solve all of your problems. Take a moment to think about what you really want to change in your life and why. If the resolutions you made won’t get you there, abandon them for better goals.

exercise-outfitYou Set Too Many Resolutions You only have one supply of willpower. If you made more than one resolution, this precious resource is going to be used up quickly. A study by Stanford University found that the more goals people make, the less likely they were to achieve them. It is normal to have several things you want to change in your life, but if you try to tackle too many at once, you will spread yourself thin. Pick one important resolution to work on and drop the rest.

Resolutions Do Not Work As we said in the opening paragraph, only 8 percent of the people who make New Year’s resolutions manage to keep them. The remaining 92 percent fail. Why? Well, resolutions are based on what you think you should be doing, not on what you want to do. There is a big element of peer pressure and living up to other people’s expectations in New Year’s resolutions. That is not a recipe for long-term happiness. If you really do not want to follow through on the resolution, scrap it. Then, you will have more time and brainpower to spend on things you really want to achieve.

Making positive changes is an excellent idea, but New Year’s resolutions are not the right tools to do it. Ditch your 2015 resolutions and find more effective ways to start living the life you want. Who knows—once the pressure of the resolutions is gone, you may begin to make some progress!