I’ve been simplifying my personal life for about three years now, including my health, my home, my calendar, my marriage and my relationships. This journey of living a simpler and more meaningful life has made me feel hella happier and healthier!! (That's why my husband and I podcast about it :)) I share more about these changes too in my recent post: SIMPLE PARENTING HAS OPENED MY EYES (PART ONE).
I live my life with more intention and awareness now, because life is way too precious to be busy all the time.
But, it’s kind of funny how I never really looked at my professional life until my daughter Lucille was born (a little over a year ago). This is when I started really questioning my role as a teacher.
As a teacher, I was and still currently am given ALL. THE. THINGS.
Every new school year I am given all the teaching resources I would ever need to help a student be “successful.” Or at least that’s what I thought.
All of the curriculum documents, google sites, workbooks, professional development meetings and mandortory assessments were showing me a path. This path was ultimately telling me what to teach, the specific content students should know, the mandatory assessments students should be scoring well on, and then all the activities, lessons, and tasks that should help me to accomplish this. This is the path I was shown that “good” teachers should follow in public education. This is the path I thought all “SUCCESSFUL” teachers followed.
But, If you are given everything, where is the space for creativity and individuality?
Where is the space in public education for student-led creativity, in-depth conversations on issues that are important to students, social and emotional skills development, exploration of student’s personal interests and curiosities, problem solving strategies, health and wellness education, and just the overall freedom to just have fun! I mean, isn’t that what life is all about?
I realized that I had been bombarded with so many resources, curriculums, and assessments that I had forgotten why I became a teacher in the first place.
I became a teacher because I want to make a difference.
I want to help support and guide students in figuring out who they are in the world and why they are so special.
I want to support students in developing their own uniqueness and for them to share their gift(s) with the world.
But, somehow along the way in my teaching career I had gotten lost in ALL THE STUFF.
After listening to the Simple Families podcast and reading SIMPLE HAPPY PARENTING by Denaye Barahona, I started questioning the path I was following as a teacher. For nine years I had been following this paved path to what I thought was a successful teaching career. But, I realized I was only distracted. I was distracted about what is truly important. Life is not about teaching content that we are told is important, it’s not about making students behave, and it sure isn’t necessary for students to take hours of assessments year after year just because that’s what they are told to do.
Life is about sharing our unique gifts with the world. It’s about choosing the path that aligns to our individual interests, wants, needs and desires and helping others along the way.
All of the resources given to me to be a “successful” teacher were actually distracting me. They were distracting me from getting to know the beautiful humans in front of me. They were blinding me to the point that I wasn’t being my true authentic self. I was being a more stressed and cookie-cutter version of myself. I looked and sounded like everyone else around me. But, I REFUSE TO BE A ROBOT!
I was tired of checking off boxes of what I needed to teach and content I should be covering.
Life is so much more than memorizing ALL the facts and being able to follow directions. I had to stop following this path I had been on for so long and begin to pivot in a new direction.
I had been disconnected from students for too long and it was finally time to RECONNECT with the amazing tiny humans in my classroom Monday thru Friday.
The only people who know what is best for my students are my students. It was time to follow their lead and no one else’s.
I had to TRUST my students' actions, make less judgements, and ask way more clarifying questions. I had to LET GO of control and let their ideas guide the learning. I had to challenge and explore their creative thoughts and not stifle them.
I had to completely reteach myself on what a truly successful teacher was.
My teaching is no longer guided by anyone telling me what to teach. It’s now guided by the amazing tiny human beings in front of me each year.
Critical Thinking, Creativity, Communication and Collaboration are the 4-C’s that I choose to embrace in my classroom every day. Denaye talks about this topic in her book SIMPLE HAPPY PARENTING and so many more applicable topics that relate to leading a life full of happiness and simplicity.
I am currently in my eleventh year of teaching, and I am truly AWAKE. I can’t go back to the teaching path I was following. I’m seeing amazing changes and growth in my students every day (and not just in academic areas) because of how I choose to teach.
SIMPLE HAPPY PARENTING has led me to SIMPLE HAPPY TEACHING which has truly transformed my life. I am happier and healthier in my teaching career than I have ever been before.
Teaching is no longer a stressful job for me – it’s now a joy-filled challenge that I look forward to experiencing every damn day.
Thanks to Denaye Barahona, I have started loving more, asking more, listening more, enjoying more, creating more and just being an overall HAPPIER human. Also, I would have never had the confidence and skills to explore this new direction in my teaching career if it wasn't for my amazing school leader, my bad ass and inspirational principal.
Always craving health + happiness,
P.S. Want to hear more about the positive changes my family has taken to live a much happier and simpler life?
Check out our podcast that my husband and I host all about SIMPLIFYING the chaos to be happier and healthier!
I know with less choices, I am a happier and calmer human.
This is why I needed to find a solution to my closet/clothing chaos.
I HAD TOO MANY CHOICES IN MY WARDBOBE! AHHH!
Does this wadrobe struggle speak to you too?
Ya'll I found the solution to this chaos!
I decided the best way for me to streamline my clothing and stress would be to create a rule. A rule that was a well thought-out and intentional plan to make me feel hella happier! A rule that allowed me to be a better wife, mama, teacher and overall human being.
I created a wardrobe rule that is super SIMPLE! The only RULE I follow is...
ONLY KEEP AND WEAR CLOTHES THAT MAKE YOU FEEL 100% BOTH CONFIDENT AND COMFORTABLE.
Yup, that's it!
I realized that after all of the clothing challenges I had done in the past, such as The 10 x 10 Challenge, The Reverse Hanger Method and The Last 14 Experiment, that all of these challenges had something in common.
All of the clothes I had worn during these challenges were only the clothes that made me feel 100% both CONFIDENT AND COMFORTABLE. Not 60% or 80%, but 100 freakin' percent!
I was wearing and choosing the same v-neck cotton shirts, the same black high-waisted pants, the same denim shorts, and the same dresses to wear over and over again because I felt AWESOME in them! I felt sexy and comfortable at the same time which enabled me to be the best version of me all the time. Well, most of the time :).
The clothes I had that were untouched weren't being worn because I didn't feel 100% confident and comfortable wearing them. It was really that simple!
Think about a piece of clothing you own that you haven't touched or worn in a LOOONNNNGGG time.
Why haven't you worn it?
Most likely the answer is because either it only serves one purpose, meaning you can only wear it for one occassion, OR because there is something about it that doesn't make you feel 100% sexy and comfy as hell!
Let's start livin' happier ya'll and spread these good vibes to others so that we are all feeling lighter and less stressed during our days and sexier than ever in our clothes!
Dressing my body by following this ONE RULE has made my life feel so much lighter and happier, seriously!
If you are tired of the struggle and stress of a cluttered and chaotic closet, then take action and try following this one rule! What do you have to lose?
Please use the hash tag #1rulewardrobe to share how your life has been simplified by following this one simple wardrobe rule!
Always craving health + happiness,
Having less, keeping less, and buying less catapulted my life in a direction I could have never imagined.
My eyes are open and I've never felt more alive and happy in all my years of being on this beautiful planet. There are no words to describe entering motherhood. I can try to use words to tell stories about my journey, but I find like most things, motherhood is better to be felt and experienced. Motherhood by far, has and continues to be the most fascinating and biggest challenge of my life. But with all challenges I know it's important to seek answers, strategies, guidance, and most of all SUPPORT.
When seeking support I came across a podcast called Simple Families hosted by Denaye Barahona almost two years ago. She dives deep into finding solutions to help families live happier and healthier lives. After listening to one episode I was hooked. Denaye brings insight into everyday topics such as child development, parenting and simple living (a term that was still new to me). Not only was the content she provided educational, but she delivers this information in a way that is so AUTHENTIC and RELATABLE. Finally, I thought, someone is expressing their own flaws and mistakes and being OPEN + HONEST about living in the day to day.
Needless to say I have been learning a little bit more each day about living a life with less because of Denaye and her work.
I now have more joy, love and meaningful experiences since beginning my journey into simple living.
Her podcast makes me feel supported. I've convinced myself that Denaye and I are gal pals. She's with me in the car on the way to work, walks with me around my neighborhood as I push Lucille in the stroller, and sometimes even shares a glass of wine with me as I'm preparing dinner. She's there to express the hardships of motherhood, as well as to guide me to find the light and joy in motherhood instead of the dark, stressful abyss of parenting that you can easily get sucked into.
This blog post is beginning to sound more like a "thank you" letter, which I was not intending, but hey I'm going to go with it none the less. The intention of writing this blog post is not only to express gratitude to Denaye, but most importantly share to others that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Support and valuable resources are at your fingertips!
You don't have to feel stuck, no matter what season of life you're in.
One click, one podcast, one episode listen has ultimately altered my life to one I wake up excited to live each and every day. Simple Families was that life-changing resource that pivoted my direction in life to one of more intention, patience and kindness. Her podcast was the right support for me and I know she could be the right support for you if you feel lost in parenthood and need a slight tap in a different direction.
And yes, this is only Part One of the positive influence on how Denaye has transformed my world as a wife, mother, friend and teacher. While you're waiting for Part Two, I encourage you to check out her podcast Simple Families, as well as her book Simple Happy Parenting.
Thanks to both of these amazing resources, I have started loving more, asking more, listening more, enjoying more, creating more and just being an overall HAPPIER human.
Always craving health + happiness,
P.S. Want to hear more about the positive changes my family has taken to live a much happier and simpler life?
Check out our podcast that my husband and I host all about SIMPLIFYING the chaos to be happier and healthier!
We are defined by what we choose to reject.
I am a HUGE fan of quotes. I consume quotes every morning before doing anything else. It's just part of my morning routine now.
Consuming quotes that are meaningful and purposeful helps me prime my brain to be open, patient and a little kinder for whatever the day's chaos will bring me.
If you are need of some super intentional quotes to prime your mind for the day, I have listed my favorite quotes (there's thirty-one of them to be exact) from the book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson.
It's a book that I recommend to anyone who's ready to take action and live their life with more intention to be a hella lot happier!
ENJOY READING FRIENDS!
INTENTIONAL LIVING QUOTES to prime your mind with the goods
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
A counterintuitive approach to living a good life
by Mark Manson
"Life is essentially an endless serious of problems. Don’t hope for a life without problems…instead hope for a life full of good problems."
"Happiness comes from solving problems. To be happy we need something to solve. Happiness is therefore a form of action; it’s an activity, not something that is passively bestowed upon you."
"Happiness is a constant work-in-progress…and the solutions to today’s problems will lay the foundation for tomorrow’s problems, and so on."
"True happiness occurs only when you find the problem you enjoy having and enjoy solving."
"Negative emotions are a call to action. When you feel them, it’s because you’re supposed to do something."
"To deny one’s negative emotions is to deny many of the feedback mechanisms that help a person solve problems. If they can’t solve problems, then they can’t be happy. Pain serves a purpose."
"A more interesting question most people never consider is, What pain do you want in your life? or What are you willing to struggle for?
This seems to be a greater determinant of how our lives turn out. Happiness requires struggle."
"Real, serious, lifelong fulfillment and meaning have to be earned through the choosing and managing of our struggles."
"What determines your success isn’t, What do you want to enjoy? The relevant question is What pain do you want to sustain?
The path to happiness is a path full of shitheaps and shame."
"To be successful you have to be in love with both the struggle and the reward, the process and the result, the fight and the victory. Because the joy is in the climb itself."
"The current media environment both encourages and perpetuates anyone who is offended about anything because it is good for business. This triggers a kind of echo of bullshit pinging back and forth between two imaginary sides, meanwhile distracting everyone from real societal problems. The more people who proclaim themselves victims over tiny infractions, the harder it becomes to see who the real victims really are."
"People get addicted to feeling offended all the time because it gives them a high; being self-righteous and morally superior feels good."
"Outrage is like a lot of other things that feel good but over time devour us from the inside out."
"We should prioritize values of being honest, fostering transparency, and welcoming doubt over the values of being right, feeling good and getting revenge."
"We shouldn’t seek the find the ultimate “right” answer for ourselves, but rather, we should seek to chip away at the ways we’re wrong today so that we can be a little less wrong tomorrow."
"Certainty is the enemy of growth."
"Accepting the inevitable imperfections of our values is necessary for any growth to take place."
"Instead of striving for certainty, we should be in constant search of doubt; doubt about our own beliefs, doubt about our own feelings, doubt about what the future may hold for us unless we get out there and create it for ourselves. Instead of looking to be right all the time, we should be looking for how we’re wrong all the time."
"Being wrong opens us up to the possibility of change and brings the opportunity for growth."
"Our values are imperfect and incomplete, and to assume that they are perfect and complete is to put us in a dangerous dogmatic mindset that breeds entitlement and avoids responsibility."
"This openness to being wrong must exist for any real change or growth to take place."
"I say don’t find yourself. I say never know who you really are. Because that’s what keeps you striving and discovering. And it forces you to remain humble in your judgements and accepting of the differences in others."
"We need to reject something. Otherwise, we stand for nothing. If nothing is better or more desirable than anything else, then we are empty and our life is meaningless. We are without values and therefore live our life without any purpose."
"The act of choosing a value for yourself requires rejecting alternative values."
"We all must give a f*ck about something, in order to value something."
"Part of having honesty in our lives is becoming comfortable with saying and hearing the word “no.”"
"Confronting the reality of our own mortality is important because it obliterates all the crappy, fragile, superficial values in life."
"The only truly important question in our life is, “How will the world be different when you’re gone?”"
"The only way to be comfortable with death is to understand and see yourself as something bigger than yourself; to choose values that stretch beyond serving yourself, that are simple and immediate and controllable and tolerant of the chaotic world around you. This is the basic root of all happiness."
"Our culture today confuses great attention and great success, assuming them to be the same thing. But they are not."
"You are already great because in the face of endless confusion and certain death, you continue to choose what to give a f*ck about and what not to."
I hope your mind is fueled with intention to have an awesome life!
Always craving health + happiness,
"Release your attachments to how things "ought" to be and instead surrender to how they actually are."
-Dr. Shefali Tsabary
My husband and I did a crazy thing --- we flew out of the country to visit friends with our 13 month-old baby girl! Wowzers, right?
We both made a conscious decisision (not coersed by any means) to fly eight hours, for the first time, with a baby, to a different country, for ten days. Did I mention there is a six hour time difference between Maryland and Denmark?
To many people this may sound like a total disaster, wrapped up in a pretty bow of course, waiting to happen. And I would be lying if I didn't have doubts or a mild freak out in the beginning.
But when I say this trip was PHENOMENAL, this trip was PHENOMENAL!
If any parents or caregivers are thinking about embarking on a crazy adventure, I'm here to spread words of encouragement that
YOU CAN DO IT and IT CAN BE AMAZING!
Here are our TOP 10 TRAVELING TIPS WITH A BABY that my husband and I both agreed made our trip a little less chaotic and a whole lot more fun!
TOP 10 TRAVELING TIPS WITH A BABY
1. Have ZERO expectations.
We went into our vacation with no expectations of how it was going to go. This made every little accomplishment that much sweeter! Baby sleeping for 3.5 hours on the flight to Copenhagen was a two thumbs up for us because our expectation was zero :).
2. Pack as minimal clothing and accessories as possible.
Have you heard of the story of how mama bear, papa bear and baby bear all fit their belongings into ONE BAG?!
It's true - my husband and I packed around 10 articles of clothing each, as well as our daughter's 8 onesies, two shorts and two pants, accessories, cosmetics and a rain jacket into one rolling suitcase. This made checking backs in the airport and carrying luggage a breeze! Especially because we brought the Pack-n-Play and stroller too. We definitely made use of the washer and dryer available to us in Copehagen because we sweat a lot and baby food stains definitely occured.
3. Save money for what you truly value.
As a family we value good food and new experiences. This is why we saved more than enough money, starting well in advance, to spend on good food, lots of coffee and fun adventures while in Copehagen. Having the peace of mind that money would not be an issue made spending money fun and stress-free on vacation.
4. It's worth bringing the big and bulky stroller your baby can comfortably sleep in.
We were unsure if we should bring the larger of our two strollers. But, bringing our more industrial size stroller was probably the. best. decision. ever. Our BOB stroller made the time change for our baby girl so much easier to manage. She napped in this stroller whenever she got tired while we're out exploring, and the rubber tires were a life-saver on rough cobble stone roads.
5. Stay in a place that has a kitchen.
Having access to a kitchen made me feel a little less stressed and more at home, as I like to cook most of the meals we eat. On vacation I would usually cook or provide a healthy breakfast to fuel us for exploring. I also used the kitchen to prepare and pack our daughter's lunch each day to take with us. Doing this made me feel a little better about eating whatever we wanted out (hello yummy pastries), because we at least put one nutrient dense meal in our bodies each day.
6. Make space and time for exploration and sponeity.
This tip was a huge sanity saver for us! It was important for us to NOT have a jam-packed and rigid schedule to follow. We wanted space in our day for things to go wrong. If something didn't go as planned, (which totally happened) then having space in our day allowed us to have more patience and kindness in order to find a solution. Doing this made every moment on vacation, even the struggles, more enjoyable.
7. Establish roles with your partner when traveling.
My husband and I didn't do this intentionally in the beginning, but I realized after the trip that subconcsiously we gave ourselves specific responsibilties that made traveling less chaotic. For example, my husband handled everything related to transportation, like holding the passports, plane tickets, bus cards, etc. While my role was taking care of our baby girl, feeding her, soothing her and making sure she didn't get too many bruises along the way. Other responsbilities like changing her diaper were definitely shared equally. One person shouldn't handle that shit, pun intended.
8. Pack simple snacks for traveling on the plane and when going on vacation adventures.
Nobody likes a hangry person, especially one like me. No joke though, when I'm hungry I turn into a crazy person. Knowing this, I made sure we had plenty of simple snacks to bring with us wherever we went. Some of our favorites include Lara Bars, PB & J sandwiches, beef jerky, and those fruit and veggie pouches for the babe.
9. Bring a backpack, water bottle and blanket.
Staying hydrated is super important for our health, so we made sure to fill our water bottles before venturing out to see the city. I also carried a backpack with all of our diaper supplies, snacks and extras we may have needed for emergency blowout situations. We also brought a thin blanket with us and stored it under the stroller. This blanket was used probably twice a day, for both a crawling space for our daughter and for picnicking. Anytime our daughter needed to stretch her legs or if we wanted to picnic at a random grassy area, we busted the blanket out and just chilled. This blanket made relaxing that much easier for all parties.
10. Enjoy the adventure!
As adults we tend to only do things for a specific outcome; we work to make money or we exercise to lose weight. But for once, forget the outcomes and do things just for the sake of having fun! Let's take a lesson from the kids -- no stress, just play!
I hope these tips help you embark on a happier and less chaotic adventure.
Please feel free to share below any tips or lessons you have learned along the way when traveling with small children!
Always craving health + happiness,
It's better to have extra time on your hands and extra money in your pocket than extra stuff in your closet.
Want to simplify your wardrobe?
Want less descision fatigue when choosing what to wear?
Want to appriecate the clothing you own more?
Want to stop your habit of mindless clothes shopping?
I have a solution that may help you!
THE 10 X 10 CHALLENGE
It's super simple! Let me tell you how it works.
First, simply choose 10 articles of clothing to wear for the next 10 days.
Please note, this doesn't include accessories (like jewelry and hats), shoes, bathing suits or exercise attire.
Then, use only these 10 articles of clothing when putting an outfit together for the next 10 days. Trust me, YOU CAN TOTALLY DO THIS!
Feel free to get creative and use differnet accessories and shoes to fancy an outfit up or dress it down. This is when the creative juices start flowing.
But most importantly, have FUN with it!
What I've learned after completing many 10 x 10 Challenges:
1. I enjoy having less clothing options, because that means less time spent thinking and choosing what to wear. This means LESS STRESS!
2. I've discoverd my realistic style versus my dream style.
I didn't need 5 pairs of high heels, just 1-2 pairs of really stylish and comfortable shoes.
3. I feel more grateful for the clothing I own, which helps me appreciate and take good care of the clothing in my closet.
4. I am more confident and feel sexier than ever because every piece of clothing I own is my FAVORITE (and fits perfectly).
5. I have found new healthier habits (like walking) to replace my shopping addiction.
6. When I shop, I choose quality versus quantity. This means I take my time choosing a new wardrobe item. No more impulsive purchases!
7. I am more creative when I have less stuff to work with.
8. Accessories like jewelry and hats can really change the mood of an outfit - I don't need a completely new or different outfit.
9. Nobody notices when you wear the same pants 3 days in a row --- it's all in our heads.
Are you ready to get started and feel the amazing benefits completing this fun challenge?
Want to see more details about my previous 10 x 10 challenges?
Visit my wardrobe instastories on instagram at @the.clean.and.simple.life
Please share your journey experience so we can inspire others to feel a little bit lighter in this chaotic world.
Can't wait to hear and see your journey. You got this!
Always craving health + happiness,
"Great grub isn't rushed, frozen or processed - it's made with heart."
Everything about this meatloaf recipe reminds me of my grandmother's house. If there was ever a candle named "Grandma's Home Cooking," it would be the exact smell of this delicious meatloaf cooking, for sure.
Let's not waste anytime! Grab some grass-fed beef at your local grocery store, and get ready to taste the moistest and most tastiest meatloaf of your life! Seriously though, this recipe is a keeper.
We served ours with a homemade lentil noodle mac-n-cheese with some chopped steamed kale and broccoli thrown in for some veggie pleasure!
SIMPLE SLOW COOKED MEATLOAF
1. In a large bowl, combine beef, eggs, cracker crumbs, ketchup, onion, and all seasonings. Mix gently, do not compact. Shape into an oval or round shape. Then, gently spread the topping all over the top of the meatloaf. We like to make extra topping and serve with meatloaf for dipping.
2. Place meatloaf into a slow cooker on low heat and cook for 6 hours or until meat is tender.
Enjoy the journey of making this meatloaf, from beginning to end.
Always craving good food,
If you don't like the way kale tastes, try a different recipe.
My mom and I are obsessed with eating lunch at Wegman's. I mean, what's not to like, they have tons of diverse foods to choose from, plenty of seating, you don't have to tip a server, and you have the opportunity to get in a nice stroll after eating in their large store. Plus, they have plenty of space for kids to be kids :).
One of our favorite raw vegetable dishes that Wegman's serves in their salad bar is their kale salad. And did I mention that Wegman's kindly list the ingredients for almost any dish they serve in their food bar, woo hoo! Once I realized how ridiculously easy it would be to make their tasty kale salad recipe at home, I jumped on the opportunity to make my mom smile.
A little warning, it does require some "handy" work. If anything it will help you brush up on your massaging skills, haha.
Let's grab a few ingredients and enjoy this delicious and creamy way to eat yo KALE!
SIMPLE MAYO KALE SALAD
1. Place chopped kale in a large bowl.
2. Add in extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice. Massage kale with hands until the leaves are bright green and feel tender (about 20 seconds).
3. Add in mayo. Gently massage mayo onto the kale leaves as well.
4. Add in dried cranberries, slivered almonds, salt and pepper. Add more toppings if you desire!
If you want to make this salad a balanced meal, try adding some protein such as, rotisserie chicken, a couple boiled eggs, steak or even some canned tuna!
If you enjoy simple salads, try this delish Caesar Chop Breakfast Salad on for size too!
Always craving good food,
Knowledge is power. Knowledge shared is power multiplied.
Life can get chaotic at times and I want you to be armed with the knowledge of how you can still handle your chaos (like a motha) while putting as close to real foods into your beautiful body as well.
Here are some of my Healthy-ish Tips for what to eat when visiting fast food joints in your travels. Make the best decision for you and your family with the knowledge you have at hand, that's all we can do.
Let me first preface that you're going to see "avoid the bun" a lot in my tips. Avoiding breads, rolls, wraps or flatbreads is the best decision for your health, as almost all chain fast food joints use enriched flours to make them, even if they use terms like "whole wheat" or "whole grain" which to me is just fake advertising.
Some companies will do almost anything to make their food sound healthy, which is really sad. This is why I always read the ingredients!
Also, if you can, taking that tiny extra step to travel with your own dressings and/or sauces will do your beautiful body a HUGE favor. Most sauces and dressings in restaurants and fast food joints are made with soybean oil. Choose dressings made with either olive oil or avocado oil. Some of my favorite brands of both sauces and dressings to travel with are ones from trusted companies such as, Tessamae's and Primal Kitchen.
Okay loves, here are some healthy-ish tips when dealing with chaos on the go!
Tropical Smoothie Café:
Other healthier fast food options include, Chipotle, CAVA, Subway or any grocery store’s salad bar (my favorite option).
All in all, I hope these healthy-ish tips help you feel more empowered and in control to make the best choices for you and your family. Share this knowledge with a friend, a co-worker or family member to spread the health love to others!
And if you haven't listened to me and my husband's new podcast yet, Simplified Khaos, check it out! We are all about simplifying life's craziness to live a healthier and happier life :).
Always craving health + happiness,
I think we tend to forget that being able to move our body, is a gift, not a hassle.
In today's fast paced world, I feel as if I am constantly trying to be sold or convinced that I need to change my appearance. My surroundings, such as social media, TV commercials, magazines, advertisements, and emails, are constantly delivering the same message to me. The message that I should get "fit," lose weight, have flatter abs or buy so and so workout so that my body will one day be perfectly toned and sculpted from head to toe. Seeing and hearing this kind of message day in and day out will surely make someone feel insecure and insufficient (a.k.a. a total bum).
I used to doubt the appearance of my body, A LOT. I used to believe I needed to look a certain way in order to be sexy, attractive and healthy. But, then a miraculous event occurred that forever changed my life. I had a baby and I finally WOKE UP. Hallelujah!
And now those not so nice questions I used to ask myself...
"Is my body sexy?"
"How can I look like her?"
"Are my abs flat enough?"
all went out the window. Buh-bye! See ya later!
After giving birth to Lucille, that's when I KNEW how freaking powerful, strong, sexy and capable my body was. My "light bulb" was on and burning brighter than ever. Better late then never, right?
This is around the time I decided that I would never "workout" again. I would never convince myself I had to look a certain way or do a certain workout because I felt pressured by society.
I used to feel guilty when I skipped a "workout" or didn't make time to do a 30-60 minute structured exercise. The term "workout" would either give me an extreme high or an extreme low, and this HAD to change.
My body was far too precious to make it feel anything less than adequate. This is when I decided to make a change. By simply changing my words, I could shift my mindset from one of guilt and comparison to one of GRATITUDE instead. I swapped the word "workout," for a word of more positivity for me, "movement."
"Movement" is my word of choice when I refer to any type of physical activity my body can do and is able to do.
When I use the word "movement" instead of "workout" in any statement or question I immediately feel grateful and accomplished for what my body can do. Don't believe me? Try asking yourself this question and tell me which word you like using better.
Did I do a workout today? or Did I get movement today?
Feel the difference? I know I certainly do. It's crazy how just by changing one simple word, my mind and body instantly feel calmer, happier and more at peace with who I am and what I have.
Anyways, thanks for sticking around to read my little story. I hope reading this will help you think more highly of your beautiful body, just the way it is.
Now you know why I don't "workout" anymore. Now I just MOVE!
Always craving health + happiness,
P.S. If you enjoyed this little nugget of a story, then I think you will get a kick out of me and my husband's new podcast, Simplified Khaos.
Be the florist to your own life.
Intentionally choose which wild flowers (things + people) you want in your personal bouquet (life).
Many of you who have been following me on Instagram and/or my food blog probably know me for my simple recipe creations, nutritional guidance and simple ways to eat and cook healthy foods at home.
Well now the time has come for me (and my husband) to stretch our "wings" so as to help others in more than just the healthy food category.
I believe we are here on Earth to discover our own unique gifts and talents in order to help others in a kind and honest way.
My husband and I have been on a journey of simplifying our life, and we are finally ready to share the amazing benefits of this lifestyle to others.
Life is beautiful, but man can it get crazy! If you feel overwhelmed, stressed or even burdened by trying to do it all (and then some), then please give our podcast a listen as my husband and I share real experiences on how to simplify the little things to live a more purposeful life.
We are so grateful for your support and look forward to "seeing" you on the podcast!
Click the button below to listen to our slightly amusing and hopefully informative simplifying conversations.
Always craving a happy + healthy life,
Lazy meals can still be nutritious meals. ;)
When the cold weather rolls in around November and December that's when my family starts introducing slow cooked meals (a.k.a. lazy meals) into our dinner week. Monday becomes are designated Crock-Pot night because the meat is fresh (we grocery shop on Sundays) and I have the time to prep and chop all the veggies.
Crock-pot meals never disappoint. They're delicious, hearty and soul warming, but unfortunately can lack nutrients when it comes to the vegetable department. Most people already know that the longer your veggies are cooked, the less nutrients they possess. In order to still enjoy those lazy meals (Crock-pot meals) as well as get those healthy nutrients into our bodies, I have found some simple ways to "health up" your slow cooked dinner options!
6 WAYS TO "HEALTH UP" YOUR CROCK-POT MEAL
1. Use a good organic bone broth or vegetable broth. Bone broth is great for healing our gut (which is key for optimal health).
2. Use grass-fed + antibiotic-free meats. The less toxins in our bodies the better.
3. Skip the corn, it's difficult for us to digest and has little nutritional value.
4. Regular potatoes are great, but try adding in a more nutrient dense starchy vegetable like sweet potatoes or butternut squash.
5. Experiment with new veggies such as leeks and parsnips. These veggies cook up well in a tasty broth or stock.
6. Never put broccoli, zucchini or dark leafy greens such as kale and Swiss shard in your Crock-Pot to cook over a long period of time. Instead, pour your hot meal over these types of veggies and mix together right before serving. These greens will cook and/or wilt quickly to help them stay pretty, as well as maintain their optimal nutritional value.
Healthy doesn't have to be complicated.
Let's all eat and feel well friends!
Always craving good food,
The holidays are about GIVING to the ones you love.
Giving your time and attention, not your wallet.
The holidays are upon us and can be quite overwhelming if you just follow the masses. The masses (of people) are most likely spending their time at malls shopping or buying all the things online for family and friends.
I was convinced that this was the only way to show others that you cared about them during the holiday season. I grew up receiving tons of gifts as a kid and just assumed that's the way it was. Adults go into debt buying gifts for their family and the kids stay "happy" as they tear open all the presents, one by one. THIS SOUNDS RIDICULOUS.
I honestly can't remember one material gift from past holidays as a kid that brought true meaning to my life. I do however remember the traditions and experiences we had. I remember baking cookies with my grandmother, getting the Christmas tree from our local tree farm, attending family Christmas Eve parties and the anticipation of waiting for Santa to visit our house. None of these favorite memories of mine involved actually opening up a present. Funny, right?!
We think gifts make people happy, but how many gifts do you remember getting that truly left a long-lasting positive imprint on your life?
The answer is none for me. It was all EXPERIENCES.
Simplify your holidays by giving your time and attention to the ones you love.
It's never to late to change your holiday traditions. Make it a priority to plan a mixture of small and large trips with loved ones. Whether it's a trip to have a cup of coffee with your mother or a weekend camping trip with your kids.
Experiences are what make meaningful memories, not stuff.
Always craving health + happiness,
To be intentional is to act purposefully, with a goal in mind and a plan to accomplish it.
HOW TO END UNWANTED HABITS + START HEALTHIER ONES
1. Write down your daily routine.
The first step before introducing a new habit is to write down your daily routine. Use this template to help get things started! This task may seem tedious, but is so necessary in order to be intentional with your time. The act of writing down your schedule versus just thinking about it will actually help you visually see what your day looks like as a whole. You may realize some things you were doing during your day weren't necessary at all and were just an unwanted habit you formed.
2. What parts of your daily routine are essential and nonessential?
The next step is to carefully examine your daily routine and identify what is essential to your health and happiness, and what parts are not. Determine what parts of your routine are necessary and get rid of the parts that are not. This will help you have more time or holes in your schedule to include the habits you want to start! #noexcuses
3. What new healthy habit do you want to start?
Identify the healthy habit you want to include in your daily routine. Only pick ONE habit. Starting a new habit is hard work! Choose only one habit and once you feel comfortable that you have integrated this into your routine, then you can begin to implement another habit. Please do not rush through this process! It may take you one month or it may take you one year to feel truly comfortable with integrating your new habit.
4. What part of your day are you most motivated?
After getting rid of your non-essentials in your schedule, you can now start to look at when you feel the most motivated. This would be a great time of day to integrate your new healthy habit. Adjust your schedule to make time for this new habit. If there is absolutely no time available during this part of your day, then what can you do right before this habit to motivate yourself to start?
When am I most motivated?
I am motivated the most in the morning after eating breakfast.
What habit do I want to start?
I want to start a new habit of doing 30 minutes of a workout or walk. However I'm already getting up at 4:45 a.m. to get ready for work and would prefer not to get up any earlier. Sleep is important for me.
What part of your day can you make time to start your new habit?
I do however have a job with flexibility. Since I am a teacher I can integrate walking during my working day. I can walk around at recess time while watching my students and even participate in movement activities with my students throughout the day for "brain breaks."
What will motivate you to start this new habit?
The students will motivate me to move because they are always excited for active time during the school day. If I put this activity on our classroom schedule the students will always remind me because they remember everything!
Live less out of habit and more out of intent.
5. Make a plan.
After you decide where to input your new healthy habit in your day, then start to do it immediately! Don't wait for New Year's or on a Monday to start. This is your plan. Remember, you intentionally chose the time of day when you are feeling most motivated or have integrated something in your day to motivate you to start. There is no reason you shouldn't get this new healthy habit integrated into your life. You deserve it! If you don't have your health, you have nothing at all.
Want to feel healthier?
Want to be a good role model for your family?
Want to have more energy?
It all starts with being INTENTIONAL. You got this!
Did you need this template to help make your plan a little easier?
Always craving health + happiness,
Gratitude can turn common days into Thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joys, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.
-William Arthur Ward
The term "dream kitchen" gets thrown around a lot in today's society. It's used frequently by friends, family and on pretty much every HGTV show known to man. I think having a dream or a goal is important and helps put meaning into our lives. But, when my so called "dream" gets in the way of my values, then we have a serious problem.
My house is almost 30 years-old and it's the house I grew up in as a kid. I treasure everything about it, the old, the ugly, and even the weird. I feel extremely grateful that I have a house I feel comfortable and at ease living in.
Before starting my simple living/minimalism journey a year ago I would constantly talk about how I can't wait until I can make this kitchen my "dream kitchen." I would often describe my "dream kitchen" to others. I'm sure you've heard this whole song and dance before.
"I want to tear down this wall and make the kitchen larger, include more storage space, get new white cabinets, a large farmhouse sink, some butcher block counter tops, etc."
My "dream kitchen" sounds stunning, doesn't it?
Well unfortunately something this stunning would cost A LOT of money and A LOT of my free time too. In order to obtain this "dream kitchen" I would ultimately have to charge it on a credit card and be in debt for who knows how many years. I would also have to cut back on traveling (which I love to do) or going out on date nights because I would need to save that money to pay for my "dream kitchen", not to mention the accumulating interest as well.
Was redoing my kitchen worth that kind of debt?
What were my main reasons for wanting my "dream kitchen"?
What I came to realize were that my reasons for wanting my "dream kitchen" had nothing to do with necessity or function. I wanted my "dream kitchen" because I wanted my kitchen to look like the other beautiful kitchens I saw on social media and television. Also because it would be fun to show off my kitchen to friends and family.
So basically I wanted to go into debt for 8-10 years because I wanted to compete with other kitchens I saw in the media and to try to impress my friends and family.
Wow, that sounds RIDICULOUS!
I had to shift this type of thinking immediately. And what else is kinda scary is that I'm pretty sure these were the same reasons why I had spent so much of my time and money shopping for new decorations, clothes, and other material things. I wanted to keep up with the new fashion trends (that change every freakin' month) and impress others. This type of living was exhausting, stressful, and not to mention financially draining.
I value my freedom of time, my family, my friends and experiences.
I however DO NOT value going into debt and competing with others just for show.
It was not easy to put these kitchen dreams aside, because we all know that feeling you get when you purchase something new. New things gave me instant gratification or a type of "high" if you will.
In order to create better habits for the life I wanted I had to find strategies that worked for me.
So, I created my own gratitude mantra and a visual reminder (see below) to display in my kitchen. These strategies help remind me that I HAVE ENOUGH. Every time I revert back to the "I gotta have the next new thing" thinking (which still happens frequently) my mantra and visual reminder help direct me toward my values again.
MY KITCHEN MANTRA
My kitchen is enough.
My kitchen functions.
My kitchen has working appliances.
My kitchen has storage.
My kitchen has cabinets.
My kitchen has space.
My kitchen is filled with love.
I created a piece of art using some extra baseboards we had lying in the garage. This piece of art is displayed in my kitchen (above my oven) to remind me everyday just how grateful I am. See photo above
"William St. Kitchen" is what I wrote on this visual. It is the street name my grandparents lived on in South Baltimore. They lived in a narrow three-story row home for most of their lives, which included a tiny and narrow kitchen as well. The kitchen had very little counter space, not a ton of storage or cabinets, and always had functional (not fancy) appliances. There was barely room for a kitchen table but it somehow managed to fit if it was put right up against the wall. On special occasions we used small tables to sit on while we ate because there wouldn't be enough chairs for everyone. Did I mention there was also a small TV squeezed in this space as well? Anyways I think you get the picture that their kitchen was tiny and the furniture and people in it fit snug as a bug on a rug.
I had so many great experiences in their kitchen. That's the place where I learned how to bake a pie for the first time, the place where the whole family would gather to eat (in shifts) for holidays, and the place where we would play Yahtzee or Phase 10 with my grandparents for hours. Their kitchen was loved because of the people and experiences that happened in it, not because of the fancy bells and whistles.
I look at that "William St. Kitchen" sign to remind myself of the amazing times we had in a kitchen that was 1/4 the size of my own. My grandparents didn't need to compete with anyone else or try to impress others. They just filled the space they had with an abundance of love and good times.
Now I'm not saying I don't invest in my home or make large purchases. I am extremely intentional about the investments made in our home. If something is broken, not functional, and/or aligns with my values then I invest.
I choose to only invest in the things that make me happy and healthy. And I am far from perfection. I need reminders everyday to stay on this track. It is most definitely worth it!
Always craving health and happiness,
You can pretty much put cheese and pepperoni on top of anything and call it pizza.
Grab those potatoes and pizza toppings and let's get started with this extremely delicious pizza casserole recipe!
I wanted to eat this entire casserole all by myself (my excuse being that I'm breastfeeding), but somehow I managed to restrain myself so I could share it with my family (I'm kinda nice like that).
This casserole includes all of the important food groups to make a balanced meal such as vegetables (kale), carbs (potatoes), protein (pepperoni), and the most important food group, CHEESE!
A girl can dream right?! :)
Make this dish tonight, because there's no time like the present!
POTATO PIZZA CASSEROLE
1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
In a large bowl using a masher or a fork, mash the boiled potatoes.
2. Once potatoes are mashed, add in the shredded cheese and all of the seasonings. Mix together well.
3. Place this seasoned potato mixture in the bottom of a large casserole dish making sure the mixture is flattened like a crust and spread out evenly.
4. Next, add chopped kale on top making sure to cover all of the potato mixture.
5. Then, add sliced tomatoes or marinara sauce and top with mozzarella cheese and pepperoni or use your own favorite pizza toppings.
6. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cheese looks hot and melted.
7. Serve with more shredded Parmesan cheese and dig in!
Always craving good food,
I choose quality over quantity, moments over stuff, mental health over appearance, mindful over mindless, simplicity over complicated and patience over frustration.
Traveling should be a fun adventure, not a stressful experience. I immediately feel my anxiety levels rise when trying to decide what to pack and not to pack for a trip away from home whether it's a day trip or an overnight one. My thinking was that I need to be prepared for anything.
I was wrong.
I thought by packing everything that it would make me feel comforted and at ease because I had so many options and all the things for "just in case." But instead I felt the complete opposite.
The thing about packing everything means you're carrying and transporting everything both mentally and physically. It means you will have to take some valuable time out of your trip to make decisions regarding all of those options you brought with you.
Packing everything ultimately consumed my energy (carrying it all), my sanity (packing it all up), and my time (decision making).
Having everything is both boring and stressful, because if I don't have everything I am able to think creatively, problem solve, meet new people, work together, and grow into a stronger person than I was the day before. Now that's an ADVENTURE!
Clothing, shoes and toiletries always took up the most space in my travel bag. So much so that I had bought a larger travel bag just to store all of the stuff I thought I needed.
It turns out that I didn't need 7 pairs of pants and shirts and multiple pairs of shoes for a 7-day trip.
The following tips have been extremely helpful for me when simplifying packing. It has made traveling a whole lot lighter, both physically and mentally. :)
7 SIMPLIFIED TRAVEL PACKING TIPS:
1. Bring universal tops and bottoms to make the appropriate number of outfits for your trip. *see Simplified Outfits chart below
I packed 1 pair of denim shorts and 2 tops for my weekend beach trip. I easily made 2 different outfits using the same bottoms and just changing the top.
2. Pack 1 clothing item or accessory for those WANT TO FEEL EXTRA SPECIAL emergencies.
I packed a dress.
3. Pack dry shampoo, a hat, and/or a headband to help your hair last longer without washing and still look super cute.
4. You can never have enough underwear.
We all know why :) and they don't take up much space.
5. Choose a small bag to limit your make-up + toiletries.
I use a small leather clutch (it's great for weddings too - haha) to pack the basic make-up + body essentials that make me feel confident:
6. Pack 1 pair of UNIVERSAL shoes that are both comfortable for walking + are stylish with any outfit.
I wear my tan BOBS with everything, even dresses.
7. Don't pack jewelry. Wear the jewelry you want to have every day for your trip.
Packing excess jewelry increases your likelihood of losing it while traveling.
The common theme I noticed when simplifying how I pack was to choose items that are universal and can be used in more than one way (like clothing + shoes). Also to change my mindset that I don't have to be prepared for everything. Doing so leaves room for creativity and some true adventure!
Always craving happiness + health,
Manage your wardrobe and not the other way around.
I love clothes. I love buying them, wearing them and especially donating them. When simplifying things in our lives we have to be ready to let go of attachments. Once we learn to let go-only then can our lives begin to transform to be a little bit healthier and happier.
The funny thing about this particular simplifying project is that my one-month-old daughter is the one who inspired me to take a closer look at my wardrobe situation. She gave me the bright idea to simplify both my closet and my dresser because they were both just too much. Isn't it weird how too much of a good thing can be stressful? This was the case for me.
Anyways, like I said, my daughter is what kick started this all. You see, all of her adorable baby onesies are hung up on hangers in a closet so I can clearly see all of her wonderful wardrobe options. I didn't want any of her cute clothing buried and wrinkled at the bottom of a dresser drawer. Well can't this same brilliant strategy be applied to my wardrobe as well? I want all of my clothing options visible too, so it makes choosing an outfit and even putting away my clothes a little bit easier.
I realized after emptying out my entire dresser that if I can't see it, I won't wear it. I had at least 15 short sleeve shirts wrinkled and stored in my drawers that I hadn't worn in years because they were at the bottom of the pack, no where to be seen. I only wear what's hanging up in my closet or what's laying on the top layer of my dresser drawer. This is when I decided to revamp my clothing life to make it a little healthier + happier for me.
First, I got rid of anything I hadn't worn in a year or any clothing or accessory that I didn't LOVE. Donating clothes makes me feel super happy.
Next, I decided that my closet was going to showcase my clothing options for that particular season ONLY. Currently I only have my Summer clothes hanging in my closet.
Then, I gave my one antique dresser a new purpose - it's a place of storage for all of the other seasonal clothing. See ya later Winter + Fall clothing!
After following those three steps the rest of my simplifying project was pretty easy. My closet and dresser now have a new purpose in my bedroom -- to make my life a whole lot simpler :).
At the end of this season I will remove my Summer clothing and replace it with Fall clothing. Going through this process also helps me reevaluate my wardrobe every couple of months to decide if I really LOVE my clothing or it may be better to find it another home.
See below how I gave my closet and dresser a more intentional makeover- no money required!
(I share a small walk-in closet with my husband)
1. Display or hang SEASONAL clothes only. If it's Summer put away those bulky sweaters!
2. Use nice baskets and/or bins to store out-of-season clothing on top shelves. I have sweaters and some long sleeve shirts in them now since it's too hot to wear those.
3. Neatly fold and store pants/shorts on top shelf.
4. Use a long bottom shelf/rack to store and display SEASONAL shoes.
5. Don't be afraid of empty space- it is your friend!
1. Store underwear, bras, socks, pajamas and spandex in drawers.
2. Store out-of-season clothing in drawers (anything I don't plan on wearing for the season I am currently in).
3. Store purses, hats, shoes or any other accessories in drawers if needed.
So if you are anything like me, and you crave more simplicity in your life- then please give these tips a try. I hope it makes your life a little healthier + happier!
Be remembered for the life you lived, not the things you bought.
It's way easier to buy, than not buy. This is why it was so difficult to change my habit of over-consumption. I used to be a blind consumer, buying anything on a whim and not thinking twice if it was really going to make my life better. But now, I consume with eyes wide open, making intentional decisions that meet my needs. If something isn't going to add value to my life then it's not worth my money and especially not my time.
Over-consumption was an unhealthy habit of mine that was very difficult to change, and it didn't happen over night. It took time for me to see all of the blooming positives in my life once I started buying less. Some of those positives included more money for traveling and experiences (like buying tasty lattes and croissants in coffee shops with friends) and less time spent cleaning and organizing excess stuff in my house. I have listed some Tips to Help Buy Less (see below) that I have learned throughout this habit-changing journey. These simple actions have tremendously helped steer my life towards more health and happiness. I think they are worth sharing, especially if they can help at least one other person too.
TIPS TO HELP BUY LESS
1. Avoid malls, stores + online shops when you're bored.
Try taking a walk outside, visiting a park, or reading a book if you have some spare time on your hands. I admit I had a habit of going to Target when I was bored. I would buy myself a Starbuck's latte once a week and walk around to "window shop." The plan was never to buy anything on these weekly shopping visits, but we all know how that goes. Stores, especially Target, have a great (and very sneaky) way of convincing you that you have to own whatever they're selling right now! Between fashion constantly changing and sale racks screaming "30% off" it's pretty difficult to come out of a store empty handed.
Now, I just avoid stores altogether (not unless I really need something). This new habit has helped me save a ton of money on excess and overpriced coffee drinks and random stuff I thought I needed. Instead of shopping I spend more time in nature, hanging with my family or listening to my favorite podcasts which make me a much happier and healthier person.
2. Find creative ways to use items you already have.
Before purchasing new items I take inventory of what I already own. Do I really need that brand new kitchen tool? First, I think about what I have at home and if it can be used to do that exact same job. For example, I own a knife that can slice and dice lots of different types of foods. I really don't need a fancy mango or avocado cutter because my knife can do both of those jobs and it takes up way less space and stress in my kitchen. The less kitchen tools I own, the easier it is to find that tool when I need it.
Anything I buy will ultimately take up space and time in my life. We often don't think about the time that an item is going to take up in our lives. You don't just buy the fancy bread maker, you take time to make space to store it, to wash it, maintenance it, and even dust it (especially if you don't use it that often). Try to purchase items that can be used for multiple jobs and not just one.
3. Assign a "place" for every item + evaluate what you have in-stock before shopping.
Do you know where every thing is located in your house? It makes life so much easier when things have a designated "place". This is something so simple that we can do with both our items and our food. I was guilty in buying extra stuff, mostly because I was in a hurry and I didn't know the exact "place" for that item to check my inventory.
Do you own more than one of an item that is really unnecessary to have?
I have 7 decks of cards in my house. Why should anyone own that many cards? That's ridiculous.
The less stuff you own the easier it is to assign a proper place for your things. Try it out and see for yourself!
Now, I make the intentional effort to check my "house stock" before shopping. I have made a new habit to check the refrigerator and pantry before I create my grocery list. I don't need 3 bags of shredded cheese and 4 boxes of pasta in my house. This habit has helped me waste less and save money! Get your hands dirty and evaluate your house - are you stocked or not stocked?
4. Unsubscribe from online store emails + recycle paper coupons.
Let's face it, coupons are sent to us on a daily basis in the physical mailbox and in our digital mailboxes. Companies aren't stupid, they are actually pretty brilliant. They know that words such as, "BUY ONE, GET ONE FREE" will trigger our brains to buy, buy, buy (especially when 90% of the time we don't actually need anything).
But why should we continue to let our mail outsmart us?
It's way cheaper to spend nothing than half price!
Once you get in the habit of throwing coupons in the recycling bin and trashing your digital deals- you will have less reasons (and temptation) to go shopping and more reasons to spend time doing something you truly love with the people you love.
5. Before buying something ask yourself these two questions (see below). If the answer is no to any of these questions, then you are a much happier + healthier person without it in your life.
Do you have tips to help you buy purposefully? Please share them below!
Always craving health + happiness,
Self-care means giving yourself permission to pause.
- Cecilia Tran
There are many things that we do during the day that take up our time and our energy. We give and give and often forget to "refill our tanks." But guess what ...
You can't pour from an empty cup.
Self-care activities look different for everyone. But no one can force self-care onto someone else. It's up to that person to choose and make time for daily activities that make them feel happy and healthy.
Self-care isn't selfish, it's showing your body respect.
Since I've already shared my acts of self-care or self-love (read about my acts here) I thought it might me enlightening to share my partner's thoughts on this subject. This topic is very dear to my heart because mental health is equally important as physical health, and self-care relates to both of those categories.
My husband was kind enough to share and write what activities he makes time to include consistently in his life. The 8 activities he has listed directly relate to self-care because these are habits that help him stay healthy, manage stress, and feel connected with others. I am so grateful to have a very open and honest relationship with my husband. We communicate to each other when we need time for ourselves (self-care) because it makes us both a happier and healthier individual so we can be a happier and healthier couple. If we don't carve out time in our days to take care of ourselves, then we can never be our best self to serve and help others.
MY HUSBAND'S TOP 8 SELF-CARE ACTIVITIES
by: Nick Koscielniak
Coffee is a must have in the Koscielniak household. We drink it for obvious reason - to jump start our day, or when we are feeling a little tired and need a pick me up, or just because.
When we are together at home, we sit and drink a cup of coffee before we do anything (although that has changed slightly since Lucille was born). We drink our coffee and talk about what’s on our minds or the day ahead. It’s very relaxing.
Over the years we have become quite the coffee snobs (using the word snob for lack of a better term). We’ve gone from buying Folgers grounds to buying organic coffee beans and grinding them right before we make the pot of coffee to optimize the flavor (yes, coffee should have flavor).
Our family takes great joy in coffee and we will continue in our quest to make sure we are enjoying the freshest cup(s).
2. HOMEMADE COCKTAILS
There's nothing like a great cocktail to wind down the day. My go-to lately has been the Manhattan (rye, sweet vermouth, bitters, maraschino cherries) - so delicious and easy to make. I also really enjoy making cocktails for my wife, sister-in-law and our guests. Besides the Manhattan, I also make a pretty good mule and the Bees Knees (Jill’s favorite).
Homemade cocktails are a much cheaper alternative to going to the bar--although we do love our date nights and those usually include a cocktail or two. We drink occasionally (once or twice a week) and find great joy in this treat. Which leads me to my next self care activity--date night.
3. DATE NIGHTS
I love date nights. Period. Jill and I have thoroughly enjoyed our date nights ever since our first date (we went to Otani for sushi on my birthday/Valentines Day and it was amazing). Our tastes have changed over time (more so the type of beverages we prefer...see section on cocktails), but good food and great conversation have been consistent.
Not only do I get to eat great food and drink amazing cocktails, I get to spend some quality time with my favorite person in the world (not trying to score brownie points here, but I’ll take them). We get some quality time to discuss what’s going on in our lives, how work is going, planning trips and vacations, projects to complete around the house, sports, you name it. See previous post 3 Reasons for Weekly Date Nights.
All I know is that I look forward to date nights. We may not go on them as much now with Lucille just being born and all, but she’s pretty great to hang out with too on a Friday night :).
4. PLAYING SPORTS
I don’t go to the gym or workout much (we do go on walks when the weather is nice), but I play softball doubleheaders on Sunday nights. I’ve been playing with the same core group of guys for about 8 or 9 years.
We are like brothers--let’s just say you have to wear some pretty thick skin to play for our team. We give each other so much crap, but that’s what makes it so fun. We are a competitive team that doesn’t take ourselves too seriously.
The three plus hours that I am at the field goes by quickly, but it’s just enough time with the fellas before I start missing the family.
5. WATCHING SPORTS/A GOOD TV SERIES
We have been trying more and more to watch less TV. But, let’s face it--sometimes you just need your sports fix or a good series to watch. I used to watch the Orioles (baseball) games almost every night. Now that we have YouTube TV, I have not been able to watch them at all this year because MASN has not signed on (not really missing much this year).
Besides the Orioles, I love watching the Capitals (I can finally say that now that they have won the Stanley Cup this year!), college basketball and every now and then the NBA. Of course there’s those major sporting events that only happen every four years: the Olympics and the World Cup.
There’s also nothing like a good TV series to get absolutely lost in. We’ve watched some great ones over the years: The Americans, The Wire, Dexter, Breaking Bad, and The Office just to name a few. There are also documentaries like Chef's Table that Jill and I love. That one tends to make me very hungry.
TV time gives our family some time to relax together and not have to think much about our responsibilities or work.
6. YARD WORK/ HOME IMPROVEMENTS
Believe it or not, I find mowing the lawn to be very therapeutic. We have a decent size yard, so it takes me about an hour and a half to mow, trim and clean up. Last year I bought a riding lawn mower from a neighbor that was moving out of the neighborhood, yet I find myself using the push mower more often. Mowing the lawn is my "workout."
When I mow the lawn, I usually listen to music (often times something upbeat). This also helps me get in the zone to get my lawn lines perfect (I am very OCD-haha).
Home improvements, although sometimes stressful, are very gratifying when the project is complete. I try not to do large projects (i.e. bathroom remodel), but I like doing smaller things like updating the hardware throughout the house. Recently, I replaced the smoke detector, thermostat and door lock with Nest products--we are going fully automated!!
I have a confession to make...I love getting my haircut. It’s not so much the feeling of a fresh cut, but the experience at The Quintessential Gentleman (The QG) in Baltimore. This place is absolutely amazing!
When I go to The QG, I pull my car into their valet so I don’t have to worry about parking. Also, traffic can sometimes be unpredictable in Baltimore, so it’s nice to just pull up if I end up running behind.
Checking into The QG is very easy. At check in, I am offered a complimentary beverage (water, coffee or beer--yes, you read that right, BEER!). In the waiting area they have a pool table, lounge chairs and a TV that is always playing ESPN.
I’ve been getting my hair cut by the same person (Sam) for about three years now, so I never have to explain how I want it cut or worry about him messing up. He is one of their best!
The QG is more than grooming, they also have a spa, department store, cigar lounge and a restaurant/bar. You can literally spend an entire day there. I definitely recommend guys (who like to take a little extra special care of themselves) to find a place similar to this that gives you that relaxing experience we all need in our lives.
I have a long commute to work--at least 1 hr 5 min each way. I used to listen to local sports radio, but I got tired of listening to uneducated fans calling in and making ridiculous “takes” on the Orioles, Ravens and other sports issues. So I turned to podcasts. You can listen to them anytime you want and pick up where you left off--can’t do that with radio.
My go-to podcasts right now are Pardon My Take, The Tom Woods Show, Dave Smith Part of the Problem, Your Welcome with Michael Malice (yes, he spells it “Your”), The Joe Rogan Experience (I cherry pick his podcast), and The Scott Horton Show. If you look them up, you’ll probably see a recurring theme with the types of podcasts I listen to.
I love that podcasts are giving many people alternate media consumption options. These provide me educational entertainment and fill up my drives very easily. Every now and then I’ll listen to music, but I am all about podcast at this point in my life.
If you take away anything from this blog post I hope it's that self-care is vital to our mind, body and soul. Self-care activities are not a one-size-fits-all and depend on your interests. But in addition, taking care of yourself should always include eating good, real food, movement, and plenty of rest.
How you are treating yourself, is how you are inviting others to treat you.
Always craving health and happiness,
Jillian & Nick
Healthy isn't boring. If it is you're doing it wrong.
Are you ready to blow your taste buds out of the water? These tacos are blasting with fruity flavor. The best part about these tacos is that you can totally take advantage of some healthy shortcuts to make this meal in less time! By using sour cherry fruit preserves as the base for the Cherry lime sauce it literally takes only a few minutes to whip up. Also, by purchasing a bag of kale + cabbage slaw mix that's already chopped and prepared saves you some precious prepping time. You can absolutely make your own slaw from scratch by using fresh kale and cabbage, but just know there are healthy short cut alternatives to save you time and your sanity :).
ITALIAN CHICKEN SAUSAGE TACOS
with fresh kale slaw + cherry lime sauce
(serves 4 - 5)
1. In a large skillet heat 1 tbsp of ghee, butter, avocado oil or olive oil on medium heat.
2. Once heated add chopped onion and cook until slightly translucent.
3. Add ground sausage to the pan (remove meat from casings if it has them).
4. Break sausage into small chunks as it's cooking.
5. While sausage is cooking make the Cherry lime sauce by mixing all the ingredients together in a small bowl.
6. Pour kale + cabbage slaw mix into a large bowl and add extra virgin olive oil all over. Use your hands to massage kale for about 1 minute or until leaves become tender and a dark green color. Working those greens with your hands renders them soft enough to eat without cooking.
7. Once meat has finished cooking and the onions are browned nicely you can start to assemble your delicious tacos!
8. To assemble tacos first place a handful of the kale + cabbage slaw mix on our warm tortilla, add your meat, some shredded cheese and top it off with a heavy drizzle of that zesty cherry lime sauce.
Enjoy the fun flavors of these healthy tacos!
Always craving good food,
Intentionality is usually the answer to almost any problem.
Every spill, mess, window, mirror and so on seems to be cleaned by either a paper towel or a paper napkin in our house. Wowzers, that's A LOT of paper products! If you can relate to this dilemma then you might be wondering the same thing I was.
How can I use and waste less in my house?
How can I instill realistic and simple zero-waste habits?
How can I be more intentional about helping the Earth?
In order to get some answers I decided to evaluate my daily habits and routines to see just how much I was using and wasting. Then I had to intentionally make changes to adjust our habits to healthier ones for my family and our environment. These changes were an investment but will definitely pay off in the long run.
My goal is to waste less so as to save time and money for more meaningful experiences with my family.
Our house isn't a zero-waste house by any means because perfection is not my goal. It's all about creating realistic, simple and intentional actions that me and my family can take in order to help make this world a little healthier and happier. Below I have listed 10 simple ways to reduce house waste that my family has integrated thus far into our daily routine. I have also shared some product recommendations (I am not affiliated with any of these companies) that we are currently loving. Changing habits takes time and effort, but my family is devoted to helping make our home and our Earth a little bit brighter.
Let's all do a small part in keeping mother nature gorgeous, because a bunch of TINY actions can make a HUGE impact. :)
10 WAYS TO SIMPLIFY HOUSE WASTE
1. Use cloth towels, rags and napkins instead of paper towels and paper napkins. *
That's right, trade in those precious paper products for something a little more environmentally friendly. Keep a drawer in your kitchen specifically for housing rags and towels just for this purpose. To help make this process a little easier you can also designate specific colors or types of rags for different uses. Example: Blue rags are for dishes, red rags are for bathrooms, and yellow rags are for cleaning up kitchen spills.
*To help make this a realistic routine in our house we have a small brown basket sitting on our kitchen island shelf to collect dirty towels and rags. (See above photo) This way we can easily dispose of them once used and wash them weekly with the rest of our usual load of towels. Work smarter, not harder. This basket blends in seamlessly with our kitchen decor so no one would even know there's dirty towels and napkins in there!
2. Invest in glass spray bottles and make your own household cleaners.
In the past I've bought cheap plastic spray bottles from Target. But unfortunately their shape started warping and the spray nozzle was less than impressive. Now I've invested in glass spray bottles that will not only last longer, but they are more attractive too! There are several simple DIY All-Purpose Cleaner recipes out there so experiment with which ones you like best. Making your own cleaner and reusing your spray bottles saves you both time and money- winner- winner!
3. Use reusable bags for buying and bagging produce and groceries.
Every week I purchase lots of produce at the grocery store and often feel guilty using all of those small plastic bags to organize my fruits and vegetables. Now, by making a small change in the bags I use I can use less plastic but still keep all of my produce organized. Investing in small cotton bags for storing produce you buy and using large reusable bags for carrying your groceries home is another simple way to waste less!
We store all of our grocery bags on a hook near our front door so we don't forget to leave the house without them when it's time for food shopping.
4. Use wooden natural bristle brushes.
Sponges aren't recyclable and need to be replaced frequently after they acquire that dirty sponge smell. Wooden brushes last longer and can be tossed into the compost when it finally wears out. Replace your dish sponges, toilet brushes, tub brushes, and brooms with a more Earth friendly product.
5. Use your glass or ceramic plates for everyday use.
Save the paper and plastic plates for large parties and gatherings. But for everyday meals use your beautiful ceramic or glass plates that you probably spent some valuable time picking out. We keep our plates on an accessible open shelf for easy grabbing and stacking.
6. Invest in a silicone baking mat.
The silicone baking mat has saved me tons of money. Instead of buying rolls and rolls of parchment paper and aluminum foil I use this mat instead. This nonstick mat can be used to bake anything from cookies to brussel sprouts. It saves waste and it's super, duper easy to wipe clean.
7. Have a No Food Waste Day!
Pick one day during the week to use everything up that's in your fridge.
Check out what ingredients you have in your refrigerator and create either a hodge- podge meal or enjoy a fun snack-dinner night. I have found it easy to combine random ingredients to make a quick pasta, casserole, egg scramble or frittata dish.
8. Use glass jars instead of plastic containers to store dried goodies in your pantry and leftover food. Steel containers work well for kiddie foods.
Reduce plastic in your house by choosing more glass products instead. Using glass containers keeps our food freshly sealed and allows us to visibly see what's inside our containers as well. You can even label the glassware using a white board marker to write food names and/or dates if needed. This writing can easily be wiped off to be reused for other food goodies. Steel ware may be a better alternative to glass when packing foods for kids.
9. Use old pillowcases or cloth bags as small trash can liners.
Ditch the plastic bags and liners used in small trash cans in your bathroom and bedroom. Instead, try using something more reusable. Pillowcases or cloth bags make a great trash liner alternative. These can easily be cut to fit any size trash can and are washable too. (see photo above) I use a cloth bag and an old pillowcase in both my bathroom trash can and bathroom recyclable basket. I put these in the wash when I do a load of towels and/or sheets so it's no extra work for this mama.
10. Use wool dryer balls.
Stop buying dryer sheets! Wool dryer balls are reusable and last practically forever. They dry clothes, towels and so much more a little faster and more efficiently. You can also add drops of essential oils on the dryer balls to give your clothes and towels a lovely scent.
If you have any simple tips on how you reduce waste in your house please share below!
We all have gifts to share. May we always find ways to use our gifts to help make the world a little healthier and happier.
much health love,
Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.
- Doug Larson
There are 5 flavors in food: sweet, salty, savory, sour and bitter. Unfortunately most people's taste buds are less impressed with foods that are bitter, sorry VEGGIES. Veggies are so vital to our health, yet their bitterness scares everyone away. RUN! It's the dreaded broccoli monster! But we can absolutely put a stop to this unhealthy habit by being smarter than the veggies.
We don't have to be stuck in the "old school" style of serving meals anymore; where all food groups are represented and separated. You don't have to serve a burger with a side of broccoli or a pizza with a side salad. Serving veggies just as a side dish usually isn't favorable for kids and even adults. Let's face it, isn't the side veggie dish the last food group to be eaten by kids? I think it's finally time for us to stop forcing our future generation and significant others to "Eat your veggies!" Not only is this a burden on you and your family, but it could ultimately create a bad relationship with veggies overall. Instead, let's embrace the fact that the main course is what everyone wants to eat!
Veggies are retiring from just being a side dish and have been promoted to the main course!
We can get lots of healthy nutrients in our bodies by cooking smarter, not harder. Below are 5 ways to sneak veggies into your main course dishes at home. I have included some simple recipes too that you can use as practice with your family. Happy sneaking!
5 WAYS TO SNEAK IN THOSE VEGGIES
1. PASTAS: Chop kale or spinach really small and put into either pasta sauces or pasta dishes such as spaghetti or macaroni and cheese. The chopped greens will appear almost as green sprinkles, not a bitter glob of green stuff.
2. PIZZA: Dice up any veggie until bite-sized and use as a pizza topping. Veggies such as brussel sprouts, broccoli, peppers, kale and spinach make for tasty toppings when paired with lots of fresh mozzarella.
3. CONDIMENT: Replace iceberg lettuce (which has no nutritional value) in tacos, nachos, burgers, wraps and sandwiches with nutrient dense greens instead! Some crunchy greens you could use instead are baby spinach, arugula, spring mix blends or bibb lettuce.
4. MIX-INS: Mix in veggies with potato hashes, fritattas, casseroles and even waffles!
5. SMOOTHIES: Smoothies are probably the easiest way to hide veggies. Add in spinach, kale, arugula, cucumber, and much more in with any protein smoothie for a filling meal or snack!
What's your favorite way to sneak in veggies? Please share your ideas below!
Always craving good food,
In pizza we crust.
Many of you may already know that my family has pizza night once a week, and we love to use diverse toppings so there is no food boredom in our kitchen :). This quick and simple recipe uses rotisserie chicken #healthyshortcut so there is no need to spend extra time cooking your own chicken, not unless you want to. Instead of using a typical pizza base of olive oil or tomato sauce we use an avocado oil ranch dressing since it pairs so well with buffalo sauce. This pizza is "healthed-up" with some fresh chopped kale that gets nice and crispy once baked.
Are you ready? Make this simple and healthy pizza this week for the whole family!
BUFFALO CHICKEN PIZZA
serves many happy people
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. To make buffalo sauce melt butter on medium heat in a small pot. Once melted add hot sauce and garlic powder and stir together. Bring to a boil then simmer for 5 minutes.
2. In a large bowl mix your rotisserie chicken pieces with the buffalo sauce to coat all of the chicken. Yum!
3. Using a silicone brush or spoon spread the ranch dressing to cover the entire pizza crust.
4. Next, spread the chopped kale all over the ranch dressing. Then top pizza with mozzarella followed by the buffalo chicken pieces. You probably won't use all of the buffalo chicken so save the leftovers for a fun salad topping or to make a buffalo chicken wrap!
5. Bake pizza for about 10-12 minutes or until crust is slightly brown and crispy.
Enjoy this flavorful and healthy pizza pie!
Always craving good food,
How do I put this?
You will never sleep again!
When I was pregnant, my life hadn't changed too much and my daily routine pretty much stayed the same. But now that Lucille is born- BOOM SHAKALACKA! My life has transformed and turned upside down in the best possible way. My days now literally revolve around Lucille. I am her food, her bed, and her comfort.
My new purpose in life at this moment is to provide Lucille with all of her basic needs, but also to REST in order to allow my body to heal from child birth.
I'm unsure why, but no one really talks about the postpartum recovery process. Maybe because it can be unpleasant and painful emotionally and physically, or maybe because mamas don't want to scare future mamas?
Whatever the reason, I think more of us out there should share our postpartum experience in order to unite and build a strong mama community. We (mamas) are not alone in this process, and can totally support each other during this crazy time in our life. Not to mention our partners can support us too!
Childbirth is tough, and recovery is no walk in the park either.
After having an episiotomy during my labor (read Lucille's birth story here) I've been resting and taking it easy for almost 3 weeks and counting. I had no idea recovery would be this long and uncomfortable. I can see how it can be quite easy to go a little nuts during this postpartum time.
My undercarriage is a ragtime doll, it's difficult to sit, stand and walk, I'm still getting the hang of this whole breastfeeding gig, and I'm adjusting to a new sleep or should I say lack of sleep schedule. This is me dishing out the realness of the situation, not complaining.
I am extremely grateful for everything I have and continue to grow from the ups and the downs in life.
Motherhood is an exciting battle and I think we (mamas) are fierce beings to behold!
Let's spread awareness of our unique journeys of strength and resilience so we can lift each other up when the going gets tough. We can all join together and inspire sanity in the time of huge life changes, whether you're a mama or not.
Below I have shared a typical day with Lucille (as a newborn) and the activities that had helped me from going completely off the deep end. In order to stay happy and healthy during this wonderful transition in my life I had to squeeze in small activities of self-care.
Three self-care activities that are non-negotiable:
1. Eating real, good food throughout the day.
2. Sleeping as much as I can.
3. Doing one thing that brings me joy (besides watching Lucille).
MY "TYPICAL" DAY WITH LUCILLE
Wake up anytime between 4 a.m. - 7 a.m.
As you can see, my daily routine with her is very flexible and depends on when Lucille is hungry and when she is sleeping. I feed her when she's hungry (every 2-4 hours) and she sleeps when she wants. I integrate tummy time and small walks around my house when she is awake to keep her from boredom. It is vital that I make time to fuel myself with healthy foods and to take at least one nap a day. If I don't squeeze in these self-care activities, my body starts to break down and I feel ill. I also make sure to either blog, watch a Netflix episode or listen to a podcast because it brings me joy. These small self-care activities are a MUST for my health and sanity!
I hope my journey will motivate other mamas (and hey - even the papas) to share their unique stories of the postpartum period as well. Together we are strong, powerful and thriving!
Want to hear more about self-care?
Check out our podcast (Simplified Khaos EPISODE 8) that dives deeper into all about me and my husband's self care activities, why they are important to us and some great resources to get you thriving instead of surviving.