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.

 

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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

 

 

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.

 

Parisian Inspired Reading

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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.