February Favorites

Happy Galentine’s Day, all! On this day of lady friend celebration, allow me to share some recommendations as a gift. Here’s what I am all about this month:

Podcast

the-dollop

The Dollop – When I want to learn something, but have a huge side helping of humor, I turn to The Dollop podcast. It is an American History podcast and I absolutely love the improv riffing between Dave and Gareth. Often, I find comedy podcasts too be “too much”, but these guys strike the perfect balance.

Jewelry

ssdgm

Silversheep Jewelry SSDGM Ring – Secret true crime enthusiast? Boldy proud Muderino? This ring is for you. “Stay sexy and don’t get murdered!” is one of the primary taglines from my beloved My Favorite Murder Podcast. Not only is this ring cute, a portion of the sales go to End the Backlog, which helps fund the backlog of rape kits. A very worthy cause! Each ring differs from the next and is handmade. I ordered the brass one and absolutely love it!

Bingeworthy Show

the-golden-girls

The Golden Girls – As of today, the Girl’s are available to stream on Hulu! I have the first five seasons on dvd, but I will be watching alllll of them again from the beginning. Not only are the the ultimate girl group goals, they were progressive and sassy as can be.

Recipe

jalapeno-turkey-burgers

Jalapeno Turkey Burgers – I am aiming to try one new recipe a month. Last month, it was these delicious turkey burgers. You can do them paleo by omitting the bun or doing a lettuce wrap. I opted to serve them on pretzel buns and it was delicious. Also, pile the guac on top for your healthy fats!

Wine

cupcake-cabernet-sauvingnon

Cupcake Cabernet Sauvignon – I am all about a red wine lately, I think the colder weather is to blame. Most of Cupcake’s wines are rather good, and the price is right on point. You can get a bottle for about $10 and it will not let you down!

Enjoy! xx

Parisian Inspired Reading

img_6037
Polish Your Poise with Madame Chic // Entire Madame Chic set // What Jackie Taught Us // Bringing Up Bebe // Choosing the Simply Luxurious Life

Ever since living abroad, I have developed an interest in books that really inspire me to live a higher quality life. Not in the usual “self development/self help” way, though I do love a good self improvement book! But this genre lets the reader aspire to a higher quality of life without the cheap tricks so many books feed into.

So why is this a Parisian inspired reading list? There is something mysterious and enchanting about the French lifestyle. Whether this association is legitimate, or exists only in our mind, we do love to romanticize the French. The Madame Chic series is based on a real French woman, named “Madame Chic” for privacy reasons. The author, Jennifer Scott, relays a number of lessons she learned and how a few short months in Paris kickstarted a life long quest for a better way of being. From their diet secrets (a la French Women Don’t Get Fat) to their parenting skills, we love to look to the French culture for inspiration.

Jackie Kennedy Onassis is certainly our very own royalty. She was truly the woman behind the man. Jackie was well educated, stylish, perfectly proper, yet never seemed aloof or cold. She embodies a fantastic balance of strength and grace. This book on her is a fantastic read, providing a glimpse into her very private life.

Whether you are reading for pleasure or trying to achieve a personal reading goal (I, for one, want to read one new book a month). I highly recommend adding these to your collection. Though I have and love my Kindle, true classics are great to have in the physical form as I find myself marking the pages with post its for easy inspirational reference.

Happy reading! xx

January Favorites

This month I have tried to make my focus on less tv, or Netflix, and more Podcasts and audiobooks. While I was mostly successful, read on for what series I plowed through in three days. I have, however, made good on my goal to work out and meditate more. Both have been crucial to giving me enough energy to deal with a saucy seven month old each day! Here’s what has been helping me along the way:

Podcast

martinis-murder

Martinis & Murder – This true crime podcast come from two individuals who have worked on my ultimate guilty pleasure, Snapped. They are three episodes in and are topping the New and Noteworthy section on iTunes. It’s very banter-y, but enjoyable. Be sure to search “Martinis & Murder” with the ampersand to locate it quickly.

 

iPhone App

meditation-studio

Meditation Studio – One of my goals this month was to work on meditating more regularly. My days are filled with a babbling baby and high energy dog, so when I am able to chill for five minutes at a time, this app makes relaxing a lot easier. They have guided meditations and you can choose one based on time, topic, or instructor. In an ideal morning, I workout, do some stretching, and line up a ten minute or less meditation as long as the little one is still napping.

Netflix Binge

sherlock

Sherlock – As I mentioned, I was very committed to staying away from getting hooked on another series. However, my Anglophile soul got hooked on Sherlock. Hard. Sherlock is a modern twist on the classic Sherlock Holmes, set in current day London you somehow feel far more intelligent as you watch Benedict Cumberbatch figure out his cases. The first three seasons are available on Netflix.

Household Item

rabbit-winechampagne-sealer

Rabbit Wine/Champagne Sealer – I tend not to buy champagne. I don’t drink more than one glass in a sitting (usually) and the rest just goes to waste. The wine corkers I had left the champs with a half flat soda feel by day two. This Rabbit sealer is amazing. you screw the top while holding the silver portion and it keeps the bubbles going strong for three days. It also keeps your wine fresh a little longer.

Open some champagne, queue up you favorite podcasts, and list your to dos for February.

New Year, Same You

2017

2017 is in full swing, so let’s talk resolutions. In the past, I’ve given New Year Resolutions a go. Though I, like most, don’t end up seeing them through for too long. This year, I am entering the year with a “2017 Goal” as I call it. Kind of an overall theme to call upon each day when I need a little inspiration or I am feeling overwhelmed:

Think of every item you own as a reflection of you. Every thing connected with you is part of your image. Your nails, the cleanliness of your car, the tidiness of your home, even your phone background all add or detract from your joy. Put more thought and intention into every action, really begin to curate your life.

My goal isn’t meant in a materialistic sense, though it could come across that way. It also does not mean we should expect perfection of ourselves. I have a dog, baby, and husband to take care of each day, my house will not be immaculate at any given moment, but it will (hopefully) always be maintained. I believe that to be an achievable task for me. You cannot always control how fancy your car is, you can control how clean you choose to keep it. You may not be able to afford a manicure, you can afford soap, water, and ten minutes a week to trim and file your nails.

Make small changes where you can and I believe that is where life really starts to improve.

December Favorites

december-favorites

 

Podcast

sword-and-scale

Sword and Scale – Another true crime podcast I have become obsessed with? Shocking! Though Sword and Scale just ended their third season and is on a break until January, the archives are full of fascinating episodes.

TV Show(s)

This Is Us & American Housewife – My two new favorite shows couldn’t be any more different. This Is Us is thought provoking, feel good, and world changing. To even begin to describe the premise of the show would ruin a big surprise and plot twist. I admittedly cry at almost every episodes. The writers of this show better clean house at all awards shows in the near future. It’s that good.
American Housewife is just politically incorrect enough to be fantastic. AH follows a plus size mom of three kids with a well meaning and supportive husband. She has to navigate her way through the social hierarchy of a status hungry, and debatably always hungry, suburban oasis. Great to help you lighten up from all that true crime podcast binge listening.

Show I’ve Been Netflix-ing

miss-fishers-murder-mysteries

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries – Think Samantha from SATC meets Hercule Poirot, set in the 1920’s in Melbourne. Smart, yet salacious, this lady detective deals with past and present injustices in an always entertaining way. Great for a binge watch, or treat yourself to an episode an evening to avoid going through the three seasons so quickly.

Wine

Trader Joe’s Tusk ‘N Red – My corkscrew betrayed me a few weeks ago. I am awaiting my new one as a Christmas gift and in the mean time, I had to find a great wine with a screw off cap. My favorite rosé’s from Trader Joe’s have screw tops, but it’s winter after all I love a good red at the end of a long week! I bought this on a whim and it’s a great red blend. Let it breathe a little before drinking and you’ll be downing a couple of glasses in one sitting!

Recipe

Katharine Hepburn’s brownies – extremely gooey, easy to make, and delicious. If you like really rich brownies, these will be your new favorite.

 

Small Acts of Sustainability

small-acts-of-sustainability

Sustainability is an interesting topic to bring up this time of year. The holidays are about consumption. Buying more to prove you care for your loved ones. Buying them gifts they don’t really want or need just to get them something, anything at all. This year, why not take steps to break that cycle?

So. Let’s talk gifts. Christmas, birthday, all of it.

When you are getting gifts for those on your list, put a little more thought into it. Brainstorm. What do they really need? A person only requires so many mugs from Anthropologie or posters or cheap tshirts with funny phrases on them. I don’t often buy gifts for friends nowadays. I follow the rule of always sending a card, but I only send them a gift if something really catches my eye as something special for them. They know I am thinking of them, yet they don’t accumulate more things they don’t need. I appreciate when they do the same for me. Easy gift ideas? Your favorite book or a classic you think they might enjoy. A gift card, which I know people hate on, but as an adult-ish individual I can confirm nothing gets me more excited than a Starbucks or Target gift card. As long as you know a place they frequent, I think a gift card is perfectly acceptable. Do they have a pet? Throw in a toy or bag of natural treats for their fur baby. Overall, just attempt to buy smarter. Less money wasted, less stuff wasted.

Next up, look at what you bring into your home.

As Christmas fades out and our mind shifts toward New Year’s Resolutions, I encourage you to take small steps toward being more mindful of your own daily purchases. For me, that means I intend to focus on better clothing purchases. The clothing industry is the second most toxic industry world wide, second only to the oil industry. Reason being: fast fashion. If you are interested in learning more about this, I recommend the Stuff Mom Never Told You podcast episode on fast fashion, as well as the documentary The True Cost. The overall message is, buy quality. Not only clothing quality, but companies of quality that treat their employees fairly. This article is a fantastic resource for companies that do just that. One other thing I want to do in the next couple of years is get a higher quality washer and dryer. Our current one isn’t high efficiency and is hard on our clothes. Plus, knowing some basic mending skills, or a good tailor, helps your clothes last and last.

Finally, focus on your daily activities.

Think manageable steps. Like I really hope no one still leaves the water running while they brush their teeth do they? For us, I try to use reusable rags for cleaning, microfiber cloths for dusting, and cloth napkins at dinner. It saves money and paper products. I haven’t purchased a plastic bottle of water in I don’t even know how long. We have a Brita pitcher filter and I take a glass water bottle with me whenever I know I’ll be gone for a while. Plus, throw in a lemon or lime wedge and it tastes far better than your average bottle of water anyway. Run your dishwasher and washer when you have a full load. Turn out unnecessary lights. Buy the large container of yogurt instead of individually wrapped ones. Have your own little garden when it warms up, or grow what you can indoors. Keep the heat lower if you can, we can’t really do this ourselves. With a six month old, we keep the temperature a couple degrees warmer than usual to ensure he’s comfortable. The changes you can implement may differ from mine, the goal is to think of a new idea or two. No matter how small.

As this year ends, we should do what we can to make 2017 better for everyone. And better for our planet.

Small Acts of Education

You know the meme about how the internet lets us have the knowledge of the world at our finger tips, yet we use it to look at cat videos? Well it’s true. As a society we have unprecedented access to documentaries, history videos, articles, and newspapers, yet we very rarely engage in this activity. We instead choose to use our online hours scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, or, my guilty pleasure, the humor section of Pinterest. There’s nothing wrong with using technology as relaxation, but I encourage you to branch out in your weekly scrolling to learn a thing or two.

small-acts-of-education
Image Source

Coursera.org is an amazing resource. I stumbled across the site while we were living abroad and I wanted to ensure my weekdays were spent productively while everyone was at work. You can enroll in college courses, taught by actual professors, and learn through weekly videos and quizzes. You choose any topic of your liking and complete the course within the given time frame. As a history enthusiast, I take as many history courses as I can. I am currently enrolled in a class about the Constitution and Supreme Court cases and find it very enjoyable.

YouTube can be used for good and evil. One of my favorite things to do is to search for videos on topics that pique my interest at the moment. Just be aware of the video source! Obviously anyone can post anything they like. There are a number of old History Channel style documentaries out there, my favorite channel for quick and interesting lessons is Crash Course. I am making my way through the U.S. History playlist.

Read for pleasure. Read for knowledge. I will reread Harry Potter for decades to come, but I am aware that does little to expand my knowledge of society. Previously, I could make my way through a book a week. I have always loved reading, however my pace has slowed recently. Currently I finish a book a month, and I try to balance the topic. If I read a lighthearted book one month, I shift to a mystery, then a history book or two. My best literary purchase was No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin. It is a book about FDR, Eleanor, and their presidential and personal history. Though over six hundred pages long, I was fascinate from beginning to end. I bought the book on a whim from the clearance section of a Barnes and Noble. Go to book stores or scour online vendors, Half.com has great items too. Read things you agree with, read things that challenge your views, and don’t be afraid to choose something you originally wouldn’t have given a second glance. That’s where a lot of the gems are hidden.

Engage in civil debates. This one can be tricky, as a number of topics make people very heated very quickly. Shying away from controversial topics often only breathes more life into them, as does going into a conversation ready for a verbal battle. Listen. Process. Respond. The hope is both parties come away with something new to ponder.

Podcasts. Each month I try to include my favorite podcast, some are for fun, but most are inspiring and educational. True crime listening is still where my heart lies, but you can learn quite a lot from those as well. Look up what piques your interest in each episode of your chosen show.

Lastly, research constantly. Whether you are simply looking up a new word or delving into economic policy, don’t hesitate to question what you hear. Wanting to learn more keeps your brain working in new ways and, hey, it can make for more entertaining dinner conversation as well.

Read up!

November Favorites

Let the holiday season commence. Thanksgiving is just over a week away. How insane. Going through the holidays this year will have a whole new meaning as it is our first with a baby. While he will be too small to remember it, I intend to make memories all the same. My mind isn’t quite in a holiday state yet, as is reflected in my favorites this month. I am still all about my cold brew and Netflix, not quite ready to give in to a more festive routine. Enjoy!

Podcast

stuff-mom-never-told-you

Stuff Mom Never Told You – When I’m not binge listening to true crime or my guilty pleasures, I like to learn a little something. SMNTY, pronounced “sminty”, covers a number of todays hottest female related topics such as gender stereotypes, feminism, and whether men are just more inclined to be geniuses (spoiler: no). They have new episodes once or twice a week, and their archives are full of gems as well.

Drink

spiced-sweet-cream-cold-brew

Spiced Sweet Cream Cold Brew – This weather has been unseasonably warm, so I am not ready to slip into my regular order of a Gingerbread Latte. If you’re an iced coffee or cold brew fan, this one is for you. I love my hot coffee straight up, no cream or sugar, but this is a perfectly sweet cold option.

Netflix Series

the-crown

The Crown – Kate Middleton really brought the monarchy back to the public eye, but Queen Elizabeth is such a badass in her own right. This drama is based on the Windsor House, particularly Queen Elizabeth. The series is so well cast, you feel yourself drawn in right away. I have been obsessed with England since we went for a visit two years ago and this helps me feel a little more connected to my Anglophile soul.

Cleaning Item

wireless-wipes

Wireless Wipes – When Clint goes down to nap, I try to spend five to ten minutes doing a quick clean up of the house. Putting his toys away, wiping down the kitchen counters, or sanitizing our electronics. You can get these wipes on Amazon, I use them twice a week on average on everything from phones to my laptop to the baby monitor. One wipe typically cleans everything and things dry quickly so you can use them right away.

What series are you currently loving? Netflix or otherwise? Fill me in below!

 

Small Acts of Organization

No one has free time anymore. And if you do, it’s spend scanning emails or sitting and thinking, trying to remember that one thing that escaped your mind earlier in the day. Your house is a constant mess, you could never have friends and coworkers over spontaneously. Laundry is not done when you need it, let alone ironed! Your nails are chipped, your hair is over grown, and you cringe at the sight of your dirty car interior.

You may relate to one, or all, of the above scenarios. Just typing brought on a rather intense amount of stress. The point is, we’re all too busy and distracted. We spend hours pinning cleaning schedules and recipes, but never implement them into our routines. I am absolutely guilty of this, I adore an all encompassing to do list. Yet often times, all the tasks remain unchecked, in eternal undone limbo.

So without further ado I present to your my November series “Small Acts…” I intend to provide you with fast, valuable ways to improve your daily life. The holidays are here and New Year’s Resolutions will be made before too long, so what better time to start improving ourselves in the smallest of ways? We’ll kick off with possibly the nearest and dearest to my heart, organization. I’ve mentioned previously my affinity for planners – I even color blocked my daily time line back in college, long before it was cool. I have also posted about the importance of schedules, whether for cleaning or for your family. The point is to prioritize what will make your life easier.

small-acts-of-organization

Meal planning – I plan by the week, not the day. I have a set list of recipes I will make for the week (meatloaf, tacos, chicken and rice, chicken with barbecue sauce or a good french mustard…) and the other dinner are pasta, frozen pizza, or leftovers. Something quick and easy that we always have on hand. Which way do you prefer? If you prefer the set schedule so you can prep in advance, plan by the day. Sometimes we’ll have just had chicken for lunch or my husband ate lunch late, or didn’t have time for lunch at all. I am able to adapt to each situation.

Scheduling – We don’t have a lot going on outside of the home right now. Once Clint is old enough for sports, school, and activities, he will get his own color coded pen. Scheduling currently involves housework, exercise, pediatrician appointments, grocery shopping, and any appointments for myself. If I have an upcoming time period where I will be away from Clint, that means I need to prepare and pump a bottle for him. Knowing my grocery days aids in my aforementioned meal planning. Scheduling my workouts helps keep me accountable, I schedule five a week, though often I get in three or four. Since we go on frequent walks and I am currently breastfeeding, I don’t sweat it too much.

Planners/Calendars – Bullet journals are awesome. Well, they look awesome. At the moment, I don’t have the time or energy to create a weekly layout and plan, so I need a good planner instead. I love planners you can take with you, something large enough to hold an extra notepad or birthday cards to send out. Another alternative is keeping everything digital in an Apple or Google Calendar. I do both, a digital and physical calendar. You can share events on your digital one and I like the tangibility of having things written down as well. For a family, you may want to add in a calendar command center as well. A prominently displayed wall calendar with everyone’s schedule on it. This makes cross referencing easy and provides visual reminders.

Daily cleaning – I keep my housework on a weekly schedule, but there are certain tasks I do every day. Sweeping the kitchen, either washing dishes or running the dishwasher, wiping down surfaces as I go in both the kitchen and bathrooms. There are also certain windows our dog is obsessed with looking out of, I have to clean them every day or every other day. If I spend five or so minutes a day doing all of this, at least I am not totally off guard when someone stops by. Yeah, I would love for everything to be perfect all the time, but at least things are mostly clean.

Single tabbing – The majority of us have the tendency to get online and open up a few websites at once. Netflix, your favorite blog, something you intend on researching maybe, next thing you know, half an hour has gone by and your haven’t done much of anything. This is a bad habit of mine. I am working on only opening one thing at a time, I watch the video I want or look up that one thing I was curious about and am able to get off the computer faster. Give it a try for a week and let me know how it goes.

Keep an open mind. Try a couple of these tips out and see how they do, or don’t, work for you.

October Favorites

HAPPY FALL! I am stoked for this time of year. Though I have yet to down my first hipster Pumpkin Spice Latte (anyone else over this pumpkin spice everything craze?) I have been enjoying the outdoors with long leisurely walks each day. I hope a few of my favorites can help you enjoy October at a more relaxing speed as well.

Podcast 

the-bitch-bible

The Bitch Bible – Host Jackie Schimmel isn’t looking to take anything too seriously. And that is exactly the attitude I need in my life right now as I face down a baby in the middle of a sleep regression phase. Her honest conversations are refreshing and not overly rehearsed. Major language disclaimer, but worth a listen if that doesn’t offend you.

Nail Polish

essie

Hi Maintenance by Essie – Fall is usually about dark colors, but I am all about this neutral and light pink. I use three coats to get the perfect opaque, but not overly so vibe.

Drink

mint-melange-tea

Trader Joe’s Mint Melange Tea – I love to sip on something warm this time of year. TJ’s mint melange tea is just minty enough with out being too pepperminty or overwhelmingly refreshing. It’s comforting and is the perfect way to relax before bed in the evening, or to enjoy while savoring a quiet moment.

Baby Item

coconut-oil

Coconut Oil – Baby skin is sensitive. You want to preserve that freshness, but often the more you put on, the more you can risk irritation. Every night Clint gets a little baby massage with organic coconut oil. Then his cozy pajamas help it soak in his skin while he sleeps. Not only does he smell amazing, but it helps Clint stay soft and smooth.

Way to Unwind

moon-x-pinot-noir

Moon X Pinot Noir – Yup. Another Trader Joe’s fave of mine. This gem is $6.99 a bottle, plus I find it far superior to most $15+ reds. It’s crazy smooth, providing a welcome transition from a summer rose to the delicious reds of winter. Pour it in your fanciest wine glass and throw back a couple of glasses.

Reading Material

texture

Texture – Alright, my faves are running a bit long this month, but I had to throw this one in too. I have a couple of must have magazine subscriptions – Real Simple, Food & Wine – but outside of that I can usually take it or leave it due to the sheer volume and price of newsstand magazines. Enter Texture. You can peruse a variety of topics from business to fashion to my guilty pleasure: gossip mags. The current issues and a number of back issues are accessible, which is awesome when you’re on a binge reading kick. Before you sign up, do a google search to check if there are any current promos. For example, I just got three months for ten dollars. Awe. Some.

Stay cozy!!! xx.