Monthly Favorites – April 2018

Happy April/second winter. I cannot wait to spend the days playing outside and visiting the park with Clint, but these are the things getting us through this bleak time period.

Podcast

The Minimalists

The Minimalists – I don’t recall exactly how I came across Joshua and Ryan, but my familiarity with them increased watching their Netflix documentary. Not too long after, I began listening to their podcast. The episodes are on the longer side, but they are very motivating and informative about all things minimalism. I am all about prioritizing and simplifying your home. This is a great place to start if you’re interested in the same.

App

Overdrive – If you’re a fan of Audible, audiobooks, or ebooks, checkout Overdrive. Link your library card (I know you all have library cards right? Get one!), and you will be provided with access to a whole plethora of ebooks and audiobooks. You have 14 days to read or list to your checked out item and it is automatically returned. No chance of late fees. Another positive.

Beauty Product

The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG – This is just a very fancy way to say eye serum. It contains caffeine and green tea leaf extracts to reduce puffiness and dark circles in the eye area. I’ve always had under eye circles. The best way to camouflage this and prevent the area from looking worse over time is to keep the area hydrated and properly maintain your skin. This stuff is affordable and will last months.

Wine

Angeline Pinot Noir – This find is from Trader Joe’s. It’s only $9.99 a bottle, and really good! Pinot used to be my go to wine and it is once again topping my list. I am so looking forward to opening a bottle of this once Clint is down for the night!

Happy drinking! xx

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Monthly Favorites – March 2018

March means my birthday. This birthday means my thirties. Everyone says your thirties are the new twenties, so I’ll take it. Here’s what I am loving as I embark upon a new decade.

Podcast

Wine & Crime – I came across this podcast while aimlessly scrolling through the internet one day. The title, obviously, caught my attention immediately and I have been listening to a few episodes a week ever since. It is hosted by three friends from Minnesota who drink and discuss different crime stories each week. I also end up laughing ridiculously at least once, it’s well worth a listen.

Read

The Champagne Diet – Full disclosure, there is nothing revolutionary in this book. AND THAT’S WHY I ENJOY IT. The author isn’t trying to sell you on a quick fix or convince you of some previously unknown secret of food combining. It’s purely inspirational. Eat well, have a diet and exercise regimen that makes you feel good, live well and do it all because you deserve it. We all could use a little more of that mentality in our lives.

Way to Relax

Shiatsu Neck and Shoulder Massager – I hold a terrible amount of tension in my neck and this has been a life saver. Most days, as soon a Clint goes down for a nap, I pop this on and it helps release some of the huge knots I have built up. Not only does it have heat, you can adjust it up and down your back as well. Grab a cup of tea and settle in.

Drink

Americano (with light cream and cinnamon on top) – While my favorite drink will always be a grande cold brew with two pumps of mocha and coconut milk, I love to switch it up periodically. A tall Americano with light cream and cinnamon powder has been my go to when it’s too cold or I just want to switch it up from a regular cup of coffee.

Easy, Healthy Snacks

Four Easy Snack Ideas

I love to snack. You know how there are “diet experts” out there who brag about their meals holding you over for hours? I don’t want that. I’m all about small frequent meals, because once ten a.m. rolls around, I’m going to want to nosh on something whether I’m all that hungry or not. Know thyself.

There is a 95% chance that I will have to share my snack with a curious little toddler, so it needs to be fast, easy, and relatively healthy. Though we will split the occasional chocolate croissant at Starbucks.

Yogurt with granola – PLAIN yogurt, I love Fage or Trader Joes brand nonfat or 2%, with as natural a granola (or granola bar) as possible. Don’t put something loaded with sugar on something loaded with sugar.

Protein smoothie – notice I say smoothie, not shake. You will never catch me drinking powder and water unless I’m in a very deprived state. I like all of my meals to feel like a treat, snacks included. I have tried a variety of protein powders in the past few years, and the market is evolving daily. Some have been great, and some have been undrinkable. My two favorites are Tera’s Whey chocolate and Tone It Up vanilla, this one is sold at Target and half the cost of their Perfect Fit sold through their website. Speaking of Target, you can often subscribe and save to almost any item. Meaning, it will auto ship to you every four, six, eight, or whatever weeks and you’ll get free shipping and save at least five percent. Win. My two go to smoothie recipes are below, flexibility is key. Modify the milk, fruit, or protein powder to fit your dietary needs. Also, if you haven’t had a lot of greens that day, throw in an extra handful of spinach! You won’t taste it, I swear.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie
1 cup almond milk
1 (heaping) teaspoon peanut butter
1 scoop chocolate Tera’s Whey
1/2 frozen banana
handful spinach
blend on medium for a minute
top with Redi Whip for an extra treat

Mixed Berry Smoothie
1 cup almond milk
1 scoop Tone It Up vanilla
1/2 cup frozen berries
1 T ground flax seeds
handful spinach
blend on medium for a minute

You can prep these the evening before, put them in the freezer for a while, just make sure to place your smoothie in the fridge overnight to thaw!

Luna bars – Though any granola bar works as an on the go snack, I specifically like Luna bars for their protein and reasonable amount of sugar. Larabars are also great ingredient wise, but I don’t feel like they keep me full for very long. My favorite Luna bar flavor are Lemon Zest and Chocolate Peppermint.

An Americano with nuts – or nonfat latte, or soy latte, or coffee. Customize it for you. I love a tall Americano with light cream and cinnamon on top. This idea is good for when you’re out and forgot to eat, plus you can just roll through the drive through and pick it up. Starbucks sells a variety of nut packages, just stick to half a packet especially if they are covered in sugar! Their flavored ones are extra delicious for a reason!

Happy snacking!

February Favorites

February Favorites

Welcome to my favorites this month! Remember this time last year when winter was already over? I am ready for winter to end any day now, here is what’s getting me through in the mean time.

Podcast

Unladylike – This is a new podcasts run by the former Stuff Mom Never Told You hosts. The SMNTY pod switched hosts maybe a year or so ago, and while I still enjoy it, I was very excited to see Unladylike while scrolling through the podcast list on iTunes. Though only a few episodes are available, I am excited to see where this goes!

Music Vibe

Spotify Classical Music Radio – One of my resolutions is to listen to more music. I heard somewhere that playing classical music in the background helps children focus on a task for a longer period of time. I am uncertain if it is true or not, but it does make laying on the floor and playing trains feel a little more elegant.

Beauty Product

Sheet Mask

Sheet masks – Specifically this one is my favorite at the moment. I am admittedly a little late to the sheet mask love fest, as I never saw the appeal. After getting a couple of them for Christmas, my opinion has changed! Sheet masks are absolutely saturated with good for your skin ingredients and feel amazing. When using a new brand or set of active ingredients, leave the mask on no longer than the recommended time to avoid possible irritation.

 

Tip

Workout first thing in the morning. – Though there are many benefits to an early morning workout, I’ve only started following this long heard advice since the beginning of the year. Clint is down to one nap a day, which means my schedule and free time have been seriously thrown off course. I used to have the chance to workout, shower, and get myself ready during his morning nap, but now if that doesn’t happen first thing, it doesn’t happen. Some days I get a full 30+ minute workout in, some days it’s 15 or 20. Either way, it’s been effective enough to keep me in shape (increased metabolism!) and I honestly don’t feel tired from the earlier wake up call either.

August Favorites

Happy August! I am very excited to share what I am loving for this month. I have come across some real gems for your education and entertainment. Let’s get right to it.

Podcast

Up First

Up First by NPR – Now more than ever, it is important for us to stay current on what is happening in our nation and around the world. If you’re like me, you find the news cycle exhausting and often bias. However, NPR is notorious for providing great content and their new week day podcast, Up First, tells you everything you need to know in under fifteen minutes.

App

Elevate

Elevate – Elevate uses games to increase your knowledge and skills in writing, reading, listening, math, and speaking. I never got into computer games or game apps, but I have been searching for one that is fun and educational. Elevate tracks your progress and allows you to “level up” from beginner to advanced to expert. As you progress, you are able to unlock new games. For someone who has been out of college for seven years, it’s great to strengthen lesser used skills while developing new ones along the way.

Netflix Binge

The Standups

The Standups – At the end of a crazy day, I love to relax with a glass of wine and a good laugh. However, one can only rewatch The Office and Parks and Recreation so many times. Netflix recently released a series of stand up specials with six comedians. I am not exaggerating when I say I had to spit out an ill timed mouthful of water (thankfully it wasn’t wine!). Each special is about half an hour, so it packs a lot of entertainment in a small amount of time.

Book

The Little Book of Hygge

The Little Book of Hygge – After months of seeing this book all across social media, I finally picked up a copy for myself while on a Target run. As I have previously mentioned, I have a love for European culture and their relaxed ways of living, so this book was right up my alley. Hygge (pronounced Hooga) is all about cozy living. The Danish culture really embraces comfort, good food, and good friends. It is believed their strong social connections and attraction to candles and all things cozy helps to contribute to their consistently high overall happiness as a country. As fall and winter approach, I recommend you check out the book. or at least give this podcast episode by Shannon Ables a quick listen.

 

Small Acts of Relaxation

Acts of Relaxation

Back in December, I did a “Small Acts” series. I covered the ever important topics of education, sustainability, and organization. However, let’s say you’ve already organized your entire house using repurposed items, all while listening to your favorite educational podcast. Well I have the perfect topic for you.

Learning to relax. Not just sit on the couch with cheetos and Netflix “relax”. Actual, intentional, relaxation.

Busyness is all the rage. We glamorize it. We love how important it makes us sound. Yet, we cannot deny the dangerous burnout it causes to ourselves and our society at the end of the day. If you aren’t giving yourself a chance to recharge, you’re missing out on your full potential. Ultimately, this cuts yourself and your loved ones short. What we need is balance.

I am admittedly entranced with the European lifestyle (in fact, the above picture is from our honeymoon in Lucerne, Switzerland). Between, the weeks of vacation, embracing a good siesta, good food and drink without over exercising to compensate, European culture is all about enjoyment. When they’re at work, they work hard. They are also able to get home in time to hit up the market and have dinner with the family. Relaxation. Balance.

How do we implement this in a beneficial manner?

Identify what relaxation means to you. 

For me, that’s a morning workout four to five days a week, followed by a daily routine of completing my cleaning and household to-dos, and ending with a hot cup of tea while reading an Agatha Christie novel. This doesn’t happen everyday, but it helps to have a clear picture of how my ultimate peaceful day looks.

Schedule time to relax.

I’ve mentioned before how much I love an old-fashioned pen and paper planning system. Maybe you prefer electronic scheduling such as Google Calendar or your Apple Calendar. Regardless of your method, choose at least one pleasurable item each day. Whether it’s ten minutes of yoga before bed or reading your favorite magazine with a good playlist going in the background, write it down!

In fact, get in the habit of scheduling all important tasks.

Speaking of writing relaxing tasks down, write everything down. It’s like a brain purge. Every once in a while, particularly whenever I’m feeling frazzled, I write out whatever to-dos come to my mind. Most of them I can plan to complete during the week, like lingering cleaning lists or finding a place for those rouge items in nearly every room. Periodically, they are long-term items I can’t complete for a month or a year, such as a home project. Either way, I have that list on hand for when I’m perusing a store or magazine or I have a spare hour at the end of the day. Then, you have time for some guilt free binging of The Great British Baking Show!

Begin to look to unconventional methods for relaxation.

A good deep cleaning session leaves me feeling rejuvenated. It’s not an uncommon way to unwind, though most people see this as a cumbersome activity instead of a release. Next time you’re feeling particularly worked up, try something new. Like sudoku, adult coloring books, gardening, or a bed of needles (I am a huge fan of this acupressure mat).

Find relaxation in every day moments.

Lastly, we cannot forget to chill out and enjoy the every day. There is a lot to be said about choosing to be happy in each moment and mind over matter, I consider both to be much easier said than done. You don’t have to be joyous every second of every day, in fact such a cheerful disposition would get down right annoying. You can, however, use that traffic jam and time to listen to your favorite podcast. You can use plush linens as you shower and get ready for the possibly chaotic day ahead. You can take a deep breath and ask yourself what you can do to make that moment better. You can focus on whatever task is at hand and do it well. We so often forget to take pride in what we do each day. I believe focus is what leads to the enjoyment of each activity, regardless of what that activity may be. Plus, some Golden Girls and candles going in the background doesn’t hurt either.

Go get a cup of tea, or mug of beer, and prop your feet up. Time to relax.

July Favorites

Funny story. When I began typing out this post, I called it June Favorites. I officially have no concept of time. Babies will do that to you! Though I do suppose I no longer have a baby, but a budding toddler. Clint turned one last month and is so full of personality and spunk. Thus, this is the first time I’ve sat down at my actual computer, not my iPad or iPhone, in about a month. That being said, I have founds some new addictions in the mean times.

Podcast

Unhappy Hour

Unhappy Hour with Matt Bellassai – You may recall Matt Bellassai from his Wine About It fame. His Buzzfeed series featured him downing some cheap wine and discussing the things, and people, we all know we hate. Brilliantly, Matt has transformed this art into a very enjoyable podcast. Yes, he is only on week two, but I did some embarrassingly loud laughing while out walking the dog and babe.

Music

Despacito

Despacito ft Daddy Yankee – Louis Fonsi – I don’t listen to the radio very often, I love to relax with my podcasts while out running errands, so I am possibly the last person in my age group to be aware of this hit. It’s the perfect summer pick me up. Listen to it on repeat for some added sexiness to your day.

Netflix Binge

The Great British Baking Show

The Great British Baking Show – Think of this like Chopped, only far more charming. Bakers face off against one another in three challenges each week before one is eliminated. It’s so addicting, peaceful, educational, and so full of British wit it will make you want to pick up and move across the pond.

Book

Taken at the Flood

Taken at the Flood – Though I failed to hit my goal of one book per month during the month of June, I was able to finish this Hercule Poirot classic this month. Though my favorite character was not introduced until nearly halfway through the book, Hercule was able to make up for lost time. Not a full blown classic, but enjoyable and very interesting at the final moments!

Happy reading! xx

 

 

April Favorites

Happy, technically still, April! Clint has started to crawl this month. While this is fantastic and exciting, it also means I’ve sat down for about five minutes each day. Ahh, the joys of motherhood. Nevertheless, here is what I am loving at the moment!

Podcast 

Pod Save America

Pod Save America – The current political landscape is very exhausting. Pod Save America from Crooked Media offers insight and opinions from people who have been there. My favorite at the moment is the Katie Couric interview. Their episodes come out weekly. Another interesting podcast is Pod Save the World, I highly recommend their Syrian Civil War episode.

 

Show

The Mick

The Mick – Any and all fans of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia will recognize the lead in this show as the wonderful Kaitlin Olson. Kaitlin plays a woman who is thrust into raising her, very wealthy,  estranged sisters’ three children. It’s equal parts hilarious, progressive, and heart warming.

Drink

Cinnamon Almondmilk Macchiato

Cinnamon Almond Milk Macchiato – I can’t do a lot of dairy in my diet. Plus, I’m a bit of the mindset that excess milk isn’t meant for human consumption. I make all my smoothies with almond milk and was thinking Starbucks would likely never get on the almond milk bandwagon due to the rise in nut allergies. Luckily, they proved me wrong. I am a huge fan of the Carmel Macchiato and this version tastes like a warm cinnamon cookie. I have yet to have it iced, though I am sure it would be delicious as well.

Read

The Monogram Murders

The Monogram Murders – I am obsessed with Agatha Christie, particularly, her Hercule Poirot series. I am making my way through all of those books from the beginning, but I came across The Monogram Murders at the library one day and decided to skip ahead. This was released a couple of years ago and is authored by Sophie Hannah in the spirit of Agatha Christie. It takes a little longer to get into, but the story is good and I am all for extending Poirot as long as possible.

Wine

Bogle Cabernet Sauvignon

Bogle Cabernet Sauvignon – As the last cold days of winter/spring fade away, I will be transitioning away from my red wines to whites and the occasional rosé. That said. Bogle has really great wines for the under ten dollar price point. You can pick up a bottle at Trader Joe’s or most grocery stores!

Drink up! xx

Thirty Before Thirty Ambitions

Thirtybeforethirty

This month I turned twenty nine. You know, older and wiser. So I was thinking, what can I do to knock a few life goals out of the way in the next year. While I have a bucket list, I also have a million day to day ambitions. A not so tangible list of things I want to achieve and items I want to check off. The idea of “Thirty Before Thirty”, aka a list of thirty things you want to accomplish by your thirtieth birthday, interested me as a concrete way to lay down some ideas. I whipped out my planner and started brainstorming.

Here’s what’s great about this concept, the items can be as large or small as you want. For me, it’s important they’re attainable. However, there needs to be balance where they aren’t super safe ideas. They need to push you a little bit. For example, though we’ve traveled a number of times, an international trip is likely not on our roster for the next 365 days. What is attainable is for us to travel somewhere new. Where will that be? I’m unsure at this moment, but we plan to take a family vacation somewhere relatively close and relaxing. New experiences, new memories, and I get to put a check in that box.

Some other ideas? Try a new type of workout, read more about Buddhism, watch one classic film, read daily, and so on. They’re reasonable, they’re flexible, yet each one improves my life in one way or another. Though the main theme I have seen is “Thirty Before Thirty”, you can do any number before any age. Four Before Forty? Go for it. The point is to make a conscious effort to improve your daily life. Google and Pinterest provide endless ideas, though I also recommend looking over any Bucket List or New Year’s Resolution you may have.

Get to planning! And achieving.

 

March Favorites

March Favorites

March has been very eventful around here. Clint isn’t crawling yet, but he is mobile enough to get himself into precarious situations. We’ve been getting out more and have been doing some major podcast catch up while we run our errands. Enter my first recommendation for the month:

Podcast

Slaughter Podcast

S’laughter – Murder + Laughter = S’laughter. If you like your weekly true crime with a British accent, give this podcast a listen.

Splurge

Causebox

Causebox – Subscription boxes are crazy popular at the moment. They vary from monthly to quarterly and you can get them for yourself or your pet. Causebox has started a movement of giving back. They include products that are handcrafted by small businesses or that give opportunities to those who are underprivileged and need it the most. I am currently awaiting my Spring Box and could not be more stoked.

Hair Item

kk-sea-salt-hair-spray

K&K Sea Salt Texture Spray – I recently went for a “mom bob” look. I have lost A LOT of hair post pregnancy and needed to try to even out the damage. My stylist was amazing and gave me a tutorial on how to best style my new hair and sea salt spray was a top rec. Essentially, I use volumizing mousse, sea salt spray, blow dry, curl, and use a texturizing wax. It sounds complex, but takes about ten, fifteen minutes tops. This sea salt spray smells amazing and you can spray and scrunch for a refresher throughout the day as well.

Netflix Show

Schitts Creek

Schitt’s Creek – This is actually a Canadian sitcom that many have assumed it a Netflix original. Eugene Levy stars as a now broke multi-millionaire who, as a joke, previously bought his son the town of Schitt’s Creek. They now must live in two motel rooms in a community that is the polar opposite of their own. I made my way through both seasons in about 48 hours. Hilarious.

Happy Spring! xx