Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Learning new things

I appreciate a great book or podcast. My inner-student relishes in researching things and experimenting with new products. Learning new things is such an integral part of growth and improvement, don't you think?

Last week, I was reminded the importance of setting aside logistics and schedules, and taking a break (and that glorious break was spent here).

Other times, I learn something through repeated experience, like gratitude is the fastest way to inner peace, or solo time is necessary for mental health.

Sometimes it becomes evident as it's practiced over time, like all the ways to be more patient.

Sometimes it's frivolous like this shampoo and conditioner combined with this guarantee a good hair day.

Or that the best white tees (and the best long-sleeved ones here) don't have to be expensive.

And the best deodorant is chemical-free (and lives up to the hype).

On occasion, necessity is the teacher, and I discover an entire house can be cleaned with only these.

Every once and awhile, it's something life-changing, and worth the time to subscribe and read daily.

What new things have you learned lately?

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Do you exercise?

Years ago, I read there are two types of people: those who can enjoy just a bite of something delicious and those who can’t be tempted with it in their house at all. I’ve long desired to be the former, but alas, I might be hardwired for the second.

Sure, I may have been cursed with a wicked sweet tooth, or maybe it’s deeper than that? A lack of willpower perhaps? Whatever the case, this trait seems to bleed over into other areas of life.

I’ve always been more of your daily-routine-type than a once-a-week gal. It's all-or-nothing. In-or-out.

Exercise is no exception. Some can hit the gym when it's convenient, but others, myself included, need the scheduled daily routine otherwise I put it off for “later this week” until it’s Friday afternoon.

As the school year commenced, I wanted to begin a new routine, and darn it, that routine was going to include exercise. But after a month, I noticed something.

Instead of having more energy and all those good endorphins exercise promised, I was stressed. I was sacrificing sleep for exercise and scrambling to fit it all in before the kids came bounding down the stairs on the hunt for breakfast.

So I’m curious, do you exercise and how often? What’s the secret to motivating yourself to get there?

While we’re at it, can we talk about the clothes? I buy a couple pairs of these at their bi-annual sale and I love these basic (and inexpensive) cotton tees, but a friend showed up at drop-off last week in a cute and coordinated outfit from here of all places. And it seems social media is hooked on this company’s classic pieces, and now I’m tempted to invest in these or these.

I’m also adding these to my Christmas list because working out without music or a good podcast is torture.

I'd love to hear any tips and tricks you're willing to share! Xo

Thursday, October 18, 2018

On writing

I'll let you in on a little secret: most bloggers write posts weeks in advance. Perhaps it’s because sponsorships have specific time requirements? Maybe it’s because a rigorous posting schedule doesn’t allow for time to write between photo shoots and other deadlines?

As a non-blogger blogger (is this a thing?), I’m not restricted by these guidelines, so I pretty much operate on the fly. It’s probably because I think and write spontaneously too. Often times I’ll be going about the typical day when I'm struck with an idea.

Most of the time, I am driving to school pick-up or mid-lunch with a toddler, and I can’t drop everything to flush out a thought. I carry a notebook (and my favorite pen) so in desperate times I can jot down a couple sentences, but my writing takes a backseat to life.

In the last two months, I collected all those sentences and unfinished thoughts into something resembling a dozen blog posts. The keywords being “something resembling.” It wasn’t so much a compelling piece of work I’d proudly share here as much as a lot of fragmented nonsense. Each time I’d start anew, I’d get caught up trying to finish these previous inspirations into complete thoughts worthy of publishing. It ended up feeling more like an anchor than the life raft I needed on days when time was limited.

I don’t want to write like that. It’s a bad use of my time and yours, and I appreciate your support and readership more than to post something that’s just “good enough” so I can check that box. I woke up this morning and deleted all of those incomplete posts. It appears that the quote, “let go to move forward,” is as applicable to writing as it is to life.

See you back here next week for some new and refreshing content. Xo

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

What to make for dinner?

No matter how much preparation goes into grocery shopping and meal planning, we usually end the week with a couple wilted vegetables in the refrigerator and no real plan for dinner. And sure, we can order take-out, but sometimes when resources are limited, that's when things get interesting.

Here are my favorite (mostly) pantry meals:

If you have chicken, try:

Chicken chili. Skip the cream and just blend one can of the beans with the chicken broth. No jalapeno? No problem.

Chicken salad.

Or spread Dijon mustard atop the chicken and coat with crushed pecans and bake until cooked through.

If you have eggs, try:

Quiche. Any vegetable works here. Meat optional.

Mark Bittman's spaghetti with fried eggs.

Or simply hard boil four eggs and mix with a mashed avocado (or mayo if that's more your thing) and a pinch of salt and pepper for quick egg salad.

If you’re working with scarce supplies, try:

Caramelized onion pasta. It's much tastier than it sounds.

Mexican tomato rice and beans. No jalapeno or fresh herbs? Use red pepper flakes and dried herbs, and a squeeze of lime before serving.

What are your go-to pantry recipes? Please share below.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Worthy Reads: October edition

There are so many things to enjoy about the fall season, but I have to say the epic sunrises top my list. There's nothing like a pretty pink sky over the calm water, but this month's internet gold comes pretty darn close, so let's get to it.

According to this article, neither bribery or punishments are effective in parenting. Maybe this explains my before school frustration last month? I'll be adjusting my methods accordingly.

I bookmarked these two marriage hacks. I loved this article, and promptly started my own list to glance at when annoyance strikes at the end of a long day.

Oh, that's the trick. Do you wake up before your children?

Fall is in the air. I just busted out this handy gadget to clean up my sweaters. Game changer.

My laundry secret to keeping those new school clothes stain-free. A single bar lasts forever.

Along the same lines, I purchased these last year to wash delicates, and bonus: we've eliminated the accidental shrinking and ruining of delicates in the dryer that can happen when a well-meaning husband takes over weekend laundry duty (when this happens, please see: marriage hacks)

What articles or helpful products have you discovered recently? Enjoy your Thursday and I'll see you back here next week.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

On a first name basis

Years ago, while hosting a family dinner, my sister-in-law mentioned she was contemplating a name change. She no longer wanted to be called "Mom" and instead preferred to be called by her first name. Having just become a mother myself, it struck me as odd. Why wouldn't you want to wear your namesake with pride?

But I understand now. "Mom" quickly becomes "Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, MOM!" Repeated again and again until it's spoken with frustration and heard like nails on a chalkboard.

And to be someone's mom?! Whoah, right? Most days we are best suited as "Amy and John;" just two people doing the best we can with the limited preparation we were given for this parenting gig. Sometimes I think my kids are the ones teaching us the lessons (further proof).

There might be something to this first name thing. It sends the message that this isn't a hierarchical relationship, and it allows for honest connection (the kind most people only find with their parents after having a family of their own). Parents aren't perfect, that's too high a standard for anyone. We are people, and when the curtain is lifted and our children see us as just that, it allows for deeper understanding and communication.

I still love my name "Mom" and all the responsibilities and blessings that come with it. But I'm curious, would you consider being on a first name basis with your children?

In related news, my favorite parenting "manuals" (if only there were such thing) include this one and this one.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Are you a chronic apologizer?

Recently, my daughter came home from a failed play date. She felt terrible for a mistake she made with a friend. Days later, she still couldn’t shake it, repeatedly apologizing to anyone who would listen.

As I sat with her and we rehashed the misunderstanding, I began to see her more clearly, with her remorseful tears and punishing words. Her conversation was familiar because it was a situation I frequently found myself in as a child. I apologized so often that I would apologize for apologizing.

When this article went viral a couple years ago, I was forced to face my real problem with chronically apologizing. When I’d bump into someone in the grocery store, I’d apologize. When I didn’t have time to help out at school, I’d apologize. When I'd monopolize a friend's time venting about some issue, I'd apologize. When my child was screaming, I'd apologize. But what was I really apologizing for? My kids being kids? My lifestyle? My existence?

Quickly muttering the words “I’m sorry” doesn’t always convey the empathy you're after anyway, but it does leave you feeling terrible about yourself. I suppose that’s the point, right? Sometimes situations warrant that kind of remorse, and sometimes they don’t. But repeatedly using those two words lowers your energy and keeps you stuck in a cycle of anxiety and guilt.

And sure, my daughter may have made a mistake. I made (and still make) plenty of them too. But don’t use “I’m sorry” when a “thank you for your patience/time/help/hospitality” is appropriate. Not only does it speak to how grateful you truly feel, but it's the kindest thing you can do for yourself.

If you're in a reading mood, here are my other favorite self-care practices. I would add this bath soak, or this one, this candle, and this (a splurge, but long-lasting) to a "not free, but luxurious" list of self-care products.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

And...it's October!

What was supposed to be a short break from the blog ended up being a month-long hiatus. I underestimated the difficulty of this year's school transition. Maybe it’s the earlier start time, or the new and numerous after-school activities, or that the easy-going third child I was promised has turned into a full-blown toddler/monster on the cusp of “the terrible twos” (a phase I previously thought was an exaggeration). I sure love that exhausting little monster though.

In the limited "free" time I’ve had, I'd open my computer only to realize the nagging to-do list was louder than any thoughts I might put together here. The stress that accompanies being overextended has the ability to quickly squash any lingering creativity and inspiration.

But I kept feeling that pull; not wanting to throw in the cards on this blog space. It’s the days I’m surrounded by piles of laundry and toys and I’m feeling the literal pull of a toddler on my leg that I’m reminded not to give up on this little piece of me. The part that’s blessed to be a mama and wife, but also has an insatiable appetite for reading and learning and putting all those pieces together in writing.

So here I am. No childcare, and no real plan when or how I will find time to write, but I’m committed to this space anyway and I hope to see you here too. XO

And just in case you missed it, there are so many good fall sales happening right now:

I snagged this topcoat, this flattering sweatshirt, these jeans (their jeans never fit me well until this pair and they're perfection), this on-trend belt, and this bow (super cute for a holiday party). All at 40% off.

I also stocked up on my favorite loungey sweatshirt, and it's never too early to buy the kids matching holiday pajamas (the style I ordered is already sold out!) at 40% off.

I'm also waiting for these classic Chelsea boots to arrive, and now I think I need this top to wear with jeans for date night or wide-leg black pants for the holidays.

The friends and family sale event is happening here, so I ordered our favorite monogrammed kid's towels as the "something you need" part of Christmas presents.

I also stocked up on a few more falls basics like this dress, this sweater, and these long-sleeved tees - always "on sale". I'm tempted to order these as well. Have you tried them?

I'll see you back here on Thursday.
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