Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Worthy reads: Spring break edition

What are your plans for spring break? I sure hope it looks a lot like this. I'm taking a two-week hiatus to spend quality time with my family.

If you are traveling this month and looking for new luggage, I highly recommend this suitcase. It's an investment, but the best I've owned (they thought of everything from packing shoes to what to do with laundry) and it helps us stay organized when traveling. We loved them so much we ended up buying three.

These zipper pouches are so useful for keeping things organized in your purse or carry-on.

I bought a makeup bag after years of using the freebie that comes with a make-up counter purchase and wow, what a difference.

There are several good takeaways from this article even if you aren't trying to produce an Olympian.

So how do you like this space? What posts resonate with you? What would you like to see this spring? Please comment below or send me a message here.

See you back here on April 3rd for some exciting new content, including some answers to my most asked questions. In the meantime, don't miss my newly completed resources page. It contains all my personal favorite products, daily rituals, and life-changing books!

Safe travels.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Mistaken identity

I know I’m not alone in this; my teenage years were not easy. I had a complicated relationship with my mother, no relationship with my father, and both led me to search for acceptance and love in the wrong places. Time and distance has given me perspective to how lost I truly was. I looked outside of myself, and my worth was dependent on everyone else's opinion of me. Every time I was told I was too sensitive, poor, selfish, childish, not good enough, or I simply looked around and saw my shortcomings, I absorbed it. And collaboratively, it became my identity for many years.

Even now as I’m able to look at that time almost as if it belongs to someone else, I still find that identity resurfacing at the worst times.

A few months ago, I decided to move forward on my long-time dream of taking on a project house to remodel and sell. After the offer was signed and delivered, I laid awake in bed that night, unable to sleep. I was overtaken with doubt. Doubting myself, my abilities (especially in comparison to others), the timing, the strength of my marriage, the financial risk. When my offer was declined, I was only left with a sense of relief.

Days and weeks later, that night haunted me. I had been prepared for this, my children are thriving, I have trusted help, the housing market is good, my marriage is strong, I am very conservative with money, and I should know better than to hinge my actions on what others might think. My teenage identity resurfaced and all those things I believed about myself during those years came back in the form of major insecurity.

I can now see that prior to writing that offer, I had so many balls in the air. Everything looked great on paper, but I didn’t give myself adequate down time to really let this idea, this particular house, sink in. I needed the kind of restorative quiet that allows me to put together the pieces of the puzzle in my mind. It’s only in that silence I can hear my own voice again in it’s authority. It speaks a different language than the one I knew as a teenager. It doesn’t identify with what I’ve been told I am or what I should be. It reminds me what excites and energizes me, and what I need to be at peace.

I am still learning to find balance in the hustle and bustle of every day life in order to align with my truest self. That alignment requires time, silence, and patience. Within it, there is always an invitation to create the life I want and it is infinitely better and more freeing than living a life of mistaken identity.

I don’t know if or when another project will come my way, but I know for sure that continuing to refine the values held deeply within me is the most important work I can do in this life. I won’t find the answers in a house, in someone else’s opinion or advice, or in a book; it’s within those quiet moments that I will find my greatest guide.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Sunday meal prep

Remember this, when I showed you our pantry? I'm back with a peek inside our refrigerator. Stop me when I start sharing our closets please!

It's a long one today, but conversations with mom friends these days often gravitate to the dread of getting dinner on the table, so I hope you find some value in these details.

Although I enjoy cooking and baking, I'm very limited with my time in the kitchen at this stage of our lives. Extracurriculars, homework, and a little one at my feet can make dinner seem impossible. But eating well helps me feel my best and my hope is it also encourages my children to eat a balanced diet.

I'm going to share a secret that's been working for me for years, Sunday meal prep. It's not a novel idea, but it has changed the way I shop, prepare, and stress about mealtime.

It all begins with grocery shopping. I keep shopping and meal prep separate because I currently don't have a four hour window in my weekends, but more power to you if you do. Most weeks, I hit the grocery store on Fridays, but I've also been known to send my husband a second time on Sunday mornings for last minute school lunch fixings. 

I couldn't do once-per-week shopping without Thrive Market. I have tried all the grocery delivery services, but this is the one that has stuck. My youngest is usually trying to throw himself from the cart, so anything that eliminates time in an actual store is invaluable. Thrive Market is an online health foods store, selling at a discount with an annual membership fee. We purchase all our pantry and snack items here, including: apple sauce, baby food, dried fruit, jarred tomatoes, almond and cashew butters, granola bars, the best gluten-free pasta, beans, muesli or oats, our favorite crackers, nuts and seeds, salsa, and tortilla chips

All our meat, eggs and speciality items are purchased from our local co-op. I'm a total freak about where our meat, fish, and eggs are sourced (only local and organic). I'd probably be vegetarian if I didn't think my husband would starve! I make this trip mid-week once every two weeks to stock our freezer.

My Friday weekly grocery run (Trader Joe's) includes bananas, apples or pears, oranges, lemons and limes, mangoes, seedless cucumbers, kale, cauliflower, avocados, herbs, carrots, sweet potatoes, organic hummus, almond milk and whole milk, yogurt smoothies, greek yogurt, crackers, mini pizzas (makes an easy school lunch), string cheese, cheese slices, frozen organic brown rice, and organic tahini. This is the list saved in my phone and in order of our local store because I'm efficient, err weird, like that. Each week I also purchase a couple packaged/precut veggies such as butternut squash zig zags, organic slaw, broccoli, or green beans. 

Are you still here? It seems like a lot, but I've eliminated all those extra grocery store runs, and this works so well for us.

Sunday mornings, I dedicate a couple hours to meal prep. I have been doing this long enough that I can hammer it out in two hours and my husband helps with dishes. All the produce is washed/cut, veggies are chopped, I make green juice for my mornings, any sauces are prepared (like lemon tahini that works as a salad dressing or atop roasted vegetables, pesto in the summer months, Asian dressing, always guacamole with a thin layer of salsa or water so it doesn't brown). I also make a half dozen boiled eggs, a large pan of roasted root veggies, shredded chicken in the Instant Pot to add to meals throughout the week, and the kid's sandwiches for the first part of the week's school lunches.

Sunday meal prep is one major session with one major clean up, but then the rest of the week, I'm spending maybe fifteen minutes in all to prepare dinner.

I can confidently tell you this tupperware has the best lids and is the most durable. Jelly jars work well for sauces. I swear by these containers because berries and herbs last over a week. We use these lunch containers because they stack well and don't leak (the center piece is removable). I also love the convenience of these plates because we put the kids' breakfasts together the night before since we have a couple of early risers.

A freshly cleaned kitchen, a stocked refrigerator, and a plan for the week makes me happy. What is your grocery and meal prep routine? Are you able to wing it each night or do you prepare meals ahead of time?

Thursday, March 8, 2018

International Women's Day

Cue all quotes; today commemorates the movement for women's rights. Appropriately so, we are also celebrating the strongest woman I know, my mother on her birthday. She has persevered through her own turbulent childhood, my father's alcoholism, her disability, and a painful divorce that left her alone to provide for three young children, but without a college education or a career. Yet, she made it happen.

I recently saw the below article circulating on the internet and realized my mom taught me so many of these lessons by her example alone.

Every day, I hope I'm teaching these values to my own daughters, so they may always know their inherent worth, value and strength.

Rules for my daughters:

1. Make your bed every day; even if it's right before you get in it.
2. Find your tribe and love them hard. True friends are hard to find.
3. Travel light through life. Keep only what you need.
4. Put butter on your biscuit, and twice as much when you miss me.
5. It's okay to cry when you're hurt. It's also okay to smash things; but wash your face, clean up your mess, and get up off the floor when you're done. You don't belong down there.
6. If you're going to curse, be clever. If you're going to curse in public, know your audience.
7. Seek out the people and places that resonate with your soul.
8. Just because you can doesn't mean you should.
9. Five second rule. It's just dirt. There are worse things in a fast food cheeseburger.
10. Happiness is not a permanent state. Wholeness is. Don't confuse these.
11. If you're staying more than one night, unpack your bag.
12. Never walk through an alley.
13. Be less sugar, more spice, and as nice as you're able to without compromising yourself.
14. Can't is a cop-out.
15. Hold your heroes to a high standard.
16. If you can't smile with your eyes, don't smile. Hug like you mean it, full arm, full circle, put some    strength in it. Insincerity is nothing to aspire to.
17. Never lie to yourself.
18. Your body, your rules.
19. If you have an opinion, you better know why.
20. Practice your passions.
21. Ask for what you want. The worst thing they can say is no.
22. Wish on stars, then get to work to make them happen.
23. Don't skimp on good sheets.
24. Fall in love often; with ideas, art, music, literature, food, and far-off places.
25. Fall hard and forever in love with yourself.
26. Say "please, thank you and pardon me," whenever the situation warrants it.
27. Reserve "I'm sorry" for when you truly are.
28. Naps are for grown-ups too.
29. Question everything except your own initiation.
30. You have enough. You are enough.
31. You are amazing! Walk away from anyone who tells you you're not.
32. No matter where you are, you can always come home.
33. Be happy, say your prayers, and remember your roots.
34. Say what you mean and mean what you say.
35. Love every furry creature and treat them kindly.
36. No one will ever love you more than I do. 

I would like to add, "you decide your rules." I feel fortunate to know many truly inspiring women, many who accomplished so much by breaking the rules. Thank you. Now let's celebrate our day by doing what we do every day, being our amazing, kick-ass selves.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018


I'm still coming down from the high of last weekend. It's wasn't a particularly special weekend (although we did celebrate our special guy's birthday), but it was the perfect combination of events that left me feeling fulfilled.

Saturday began early with my daughter's dance competition, followed by baking and decorating a cake (with this best ever frosting), we surprised him with a silly string attack (our birthday tradition that still results in so much laughter), we had an amazing date night, enjoyed Sunday's sunshine and even had some downtime (I watched this thought-provoking movie).

It was mostly a typically family weekend, but I'll tell you the single thing that made all the difference. Gratitude. It's one of those buzz words that seems difficult to put into practice, but is actually quite simple.

I awoke Saturday morning to an epic Lake Michigan sunrise that forces you to stop and absorb that moment. As I did this, I was filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude. I reflected that inward, feeling grateful to be alive, and practiced gratitude for my health. My attention quickly turned to the little giggles from the next room and I was again filled with gratitude for my three amazing, beautiful children.

On the way home from the dance competition, I thanked my daughter for allowing me to watch her competition, but instead she uncharacteristically told me I wasn't actually invited (eight years going on teenager some days). Initially it stung, but I caught myself and was reminded that we were both exhausted and instead I chose to practice gratitude yet again. I felt grateful for the special time with her and we quickly moved on and enjoyed the rest of our day together.

The more I paused to recognize things happening around me, the more grateful I felt. It it turns out, gratitude begets gratitude; and I'm convinced this is key to a life of peace and contentment.

For good measure, some iPhone photos from our weekend.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

The best thing my mom did as a parent

When my sister was 18, my mom and I made the trek to her college campus on move-in day. As we dropped my sister's boxes in her dorm room, her roommate asked her, "Which way should we make up our beds?" Her roommate's mother looked up from labeling her daughter's shoes (yes, this happened) and explained the best furniture placement and the need for their beds to face the door. As her mom continued, my sister and I looked at one another dumbfounded. It marked the first time I remember witnessing a parent voice an opinion over a seemingly competent child's decision.

Don't get me wrong, my teenage self would characterize my mother as strict and totally unreasonable, but I can't recall a time she made a decision on my behalf. Crazy, right?

It spanned from small decisions like what to wear or how to cut my hair to more important ones like what classes to enroll in or how to choose my friends. It was really her lack of words that spoke volumes: You are capable of making this decision without my influence.

With each small decision, I acquired the confidence and independence needed to make the next. Those small decisions led to larger, life altering choices; which college to attend, my career path, my spouse. While she contributed from time to time, more often she watched from the sidelines.

I had the privilege and responsibility to own my successes and failures.

Often I am guilty of making small decisions for my children to keep our days running smoothly. But yesterday morning when my daughter came downstairs, upset, because I had neglected to set out her clothes for school, I told her, "you are capable of doing this on your own." Although I may have detected some frustration, I sent her on her way knowing her ability to make these small decisions will foster confidence in future life choices.

What was the best thing your parents did for you as a child? Isn't parenting equally tough as it is rewarding? But I keep coming back to this quote, "Treat a child as though he already is the person he's capable of becoming." So true, right?
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