Thursday, December 28, 2017

Post-Holiday Self-Care

I'm not sure how many of you are currently riding out the holiday high, but we've got approximately 12 hours left of the Christmas excitement before life settles back into a good rhythm (hopefully). We had a great time with my family for Christmas. Lewis was very excited to be at Papa (pah-pah--grandpa) & Papa's (paa-paa--grandma) house.

But now that we are on the down swing, I'm starting to think about how to improve for this next year. What can I do to take care of myself?

A few of these things I'll be discussing in another post tomorrow, but for now, I'll turn it over to Julie Morris who is a life and career coach. She can be found over at and she is here to give a few ideas on what to focus on if you're needing to take care of yourself. 

Request the Gift That Makes You Better

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

You can’t really take care of other people until you have taken care of yourself. Psychologists 
agree that listening to your inner child and being aware of your own emotional needs is necessary 
to mental health.

If you are resistant to the notion of self care, know that experts agree it is necessary to your 
self esteem. And self esteem is what makes us successful in our careers and relationships.

You can create a wish list that focuses on your desire for self improvement and self care. 
Here’s how.

Books and classes

No matter how you wish to evolve, there is a book or class that will help you get there. You may 
already have in mind some of the books you would like to read, but if you are looking for ideas, 
here are some suggestions:

1. Living Like Ed--a  book for people who want to shrink their carbon footprint, written by 
Ed Begley, Jr., a leading spokesperson for carbon neutrality.

2. All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten--a classic of inspirational writings.

3. The Five People You Meet in Heaven--a good book for people guided by religion and belief 
in the afterlife.
4. The Power of Positive Thinking--for readers who want to improve social skills and self awareness.
When it comes to classes, many studios offer exercise classes that meet anyone’s need to get in 
shape. You can take exercise or art classes at the local YMCA.

Local community colleges and adult learning centers also offer a wealth of classes for those who wish 
to improve their knowledge or abilities. If you can identify a specific class you would like to take and 
the place you can take it, that will make it a lot easier for those giving you gifts.

Maybe you feel that writing in a journal is the best path to self discovery. You’re right about that. 
Journaling has been credited with everything from improving your IQ to helping you manage 
negative emotions more effectively.

So consider putting a high-quality journal with a beautiful cover on your wishlist and possibly a 
pen set.

Gifts of Relaxation

If your idea of self care is to spend a day at the spa, getting a massage and sitting in a hot tub, 
ask for that. Other good gifts that restore body and soul are:

1. Essential oils--good for everything to cooling you down on a hot day to taking your mind off 
your problems.

2. Leg, head, and neck massaging tools--Some massagers are electrically powered while others 
are designed to be used manually by you or someone you trust. 

3. Bath salts or bubble bath--perfect for diving deep into your bathtub and meditating on the 
meaning of life. 

4. Scented candles--they just make everything better!

5. Aromatherapy sticks--they’re portable, allowing you to de-stress almost anywhere, 
including your car.   

6. Herbal tea--it comes in a multitude of flavors and colors; some of the more exotic are 
lavender and rose hips.

Gifts that make you healthier

Your heart’s desire this year might be to become more fit. Working out helps treat a number 
of things like high blood pressure, anxiety and even addiction recovery. Feel free to ask for gifts 
that will help you eat better and get more exercise.

 These things might include:

 1. A meal delivery service specializing in whole foods and foods low in fat and carbohydrates.

2. Gift certificates to a vegetarian restaurant.

3. Running or walking shoes.

4. Workout equipment like barbells and ankle weights.   

5. Fitness monitoring tools, like pulse and heart rate monitors, step counters, etc.

In short, by crafting your wish list carefully, you can get what you need to start your journey 
toward the well-cared for person you wish to be. 

Thanks, Julie for sharing today! I hope you have some new inspiration for self-wellness this 
upcoming year. And don't forget to check in tomorrow, I'll be sharing our self-wellness decisions 

Now, what are you going to ask your family for?

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Prime FTW

FWIW (for what it's worth, for those of you who aren't all hip on your acronyms), Christmas is only five days away. And that means those of you who do most of your shopping online only have three more days to get your gifts here (unless your UPS guy delivers on Saturday).

For procrastinators *unite* like me, there's the wonderful Amazon Prime. If you're not a procrastinator, good for you. I'll write you a post some other day.

But for those of you who are like me, I've got you covered. Amazon Prime is $99 per year (with free 2-day shipping on many items) or $10.99 per month. PLUS your first month is always free! So if you have littles and you shop online for their Christmas or birthday gifts...or if you do a lot of online shopping, you'll make up your shipping prices in no time!

But enough of the cost. Here are six items that are perfect for your family that WILL arrive in time. So don't delay!

under $10

for the teething baby | mesh feeders & a teether

These mesh feeders work wonderfully! We used them for frozen fruit & veggies. Also, fruit that makes a big mess or could be a choking hazard (blueberries, apple slices, bananas, etc).
Only $6.99 for a two pack

Fresh Food Feeder, 2 Pack, Blue/Green
For a baby who loves to hang onto a handle when chomping. Or if your baby loves bananas and you don't want to deal with the mess. Here's another option. Plus it gets him ready to practice brushing his teeth! Only $7.80

For a baby who loves to hang onto a handle when chomping. Or if your baby loves bananas and you don't want to deal with the mess. Here's another option. Plus it gets him ready to practice brushing his teeth! Only $7.80

Baby Banana Infant Training Toothbrush and Teether, Yellow

under $15

for the one who loves cleaning | dryer balls & Mrs. Meyers cleaners

Shortly before Lewis was born, I bought some Norwex wool dryer balls. We love them. You can add essential oils to them for your own personalized scent. If you're a little skeptical about them and don't want to spend quite as much, Amazon has many options to choose from!  There's even an extra 11% off today! Only $14.95 or $13.31 after the coupon.

Wool Dryer Balls Organic- Reusable Non-Toxic 6-Pack Natural Fabric Softener - Eco-Friendly Hypoallergenic New Zealand Anti-Static Felted Woollies In An Attractive Gift Pack- Reduce Drying Time

We've also started using some Mrs. Meyer's products. We really like the special holiday scent, Orange Clove. But another favorite is the Iowa Pine. Great for really getting in the holiday spirit! This three pack comes with dish soap, multi-purpose cleaner, and hand soap. Only $11.97

Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day 3 Piece Kitchen Set, Iowa Pine.

under $25

for the one who has everything | wool socks & Amazon gift card

We live in a land where everything is frozen for a conservative 1/3 of the year, so wool socks are a must. One one of my favorite brands is Smart Wool. They're thin. They're festive. And they're oh, so warm. His and hers. Only $21.95 and $23.95 respectively.

Amazon gift cards are perfect for the person who has everything or is impossible to shop for. Or if they're like me and have items on your list that are way out of your price range. *guilty* So, look no further. Here's a gift card option where you pick the price! Only $1.00-$2,000! gift card design

I hope these items help you finish up your shopping! There are only a few more days to get gifts in time. Plus, this way you won't have to leave the comfort of your own home. Happy Prime-ing.

If you have Amazon Prime, please share what you love about it. If you don't have it, why not?

Happy Tuesday!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Just an Update

Christmas is right around the corner and I just. Can't. Believe it.

So here's a little update on our lives:

Lewis has been sick TWICE now since Thanksgiving. He's brought home some bugs from daycare and gotten everyone else sick. But he's still a sweet, goofy, little boy who loves his puppies.

Kyle is staying busy at Rydell and helping out at home. He has been baking bread and making me a shelf. What a guy.

And I've been busy with students, grading, bread baking, dessert making, and recently was accepted into grad school at VCSU! Classes start January 8. What have I done??

And because he's just too's a video (or two) for you.

Happy Tuesday!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

It's a party...that we're a few years late to.

A few years ago, I got Kyle The Bread Baker's Apprentice for Christmas...or his birthday, I can't really remember which. And we had the best intentions of baking bread from it. There were so many that looked SO good. never happened.


Fast forward a year or two or three. My dad sent me a few "no fail" bread recipes and we've loved making them. Then I started getting an itch to make some sourdough bread. I can't justify spending $4-$6 on a tiny, mediocre loaf of sourdough at the grocery store that isn't even baked locally.

Soooo....I pulled out The Bread Baker's Apprentice again earlier this week. After reading through the introduction a few times and perusing the extensive list of breads found between the covers, we decided that we'd bake through the entire cookbook.

What an ingenious idea! How original! See here, here, here, and here. Oh...and here too.

Original. HAH. What I've come to find out, is that we're more than a day half decade late and a dollar short. BUT, power on we shall.

We started at the very beginning. Kyle had last Wednesday off and I prepped the starter on Tuesday night for two loaves of Anadama Bread. The first formula in the book. I even received a snap during the day of the dough raising.

Unfortunately, I don't have a snap of the final product, but let me tell was mighty fine.

A short little interjection before I continue with our story... When we were first married and living in our first apartment together (think fall 2013 to spring 2014), we had a desire to become fabulous bread bakers. We tried a few recipes and they never turned out. So we set out to make scrumptious bagels...and those were successful...once.

With the re-introduction and the new resolve to work our way through Bread Baker's Apprentice has come a sigh of relief with each loaf that's been successful.

That being said, we had a half day of school yesterday due to Blizzard Axl (think Josh Duhamel's son) so I started making the next formula in the book!

Greek Celebration Bread.

First I had to make a poolish. Yeah, I had no idea what it was either. And while that sat for a few hours, I relaxed.

Here are a few low high quality pictures of the process.

 secondary rising

 ready to go in the oven

 fresh out of the oven at 190 deg. internal

ready to eat

I'm excited to taste it. With cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, almond, and lemon in it--this bread has all of the ingredients to cozy up with during a blizzard.

I'll be here all winter long with pictures of our loaves and hopefully those of you with experience will give some input!

Happy Tuesday!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Five on Friday | 11.10

Happy Friday everyone! I hope those of you in the upper Midwest are staying nice and toasty today. We have the day off from school in observance of Veterans' Day tomorrow. So Lew and I went to the farm to spend time with some friends and get ready for hunting.

I'm linking up with Christina this week for another round of Five on Friday and this week's edition is featuring the last five books I've finished. Surprise!

one | Everything, Everything
from goodreads
my review here 

two | Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2 by J.K. Rowling
from goodreads
my review here

three | Level Up

from goodreads
my review here
four | American Born Chinese

from goodreads
my review here 

five | Stitches

from goodreads
my review here 

Apparently I've been on a graphic novel kick lately. Take a look at most of these books and I can't wait to hear what you think about them.

Happy Friday!


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Mid Week Book Talks | 02

I'm coming at you this week with another Book Talk. For whatever reason, I've been flying through books. A little background before I dive into this week's book.

In years prior, I've set goals for myself to read two books a month. 24 books. That's not unmanageable. Yeah, right. So, this year I set my goal even lower. 12 books. 1 per month. I expect my students to read at least 1 every six weeks, so 1 every four weeks should work.

And then book recommendations started flying my direction.
And then we started focusing on reading in class.
And then I remembered advice from my Education classes--MODEL READING.
And then I started reading while my students were reading.
And then I finished a book.
And then another.

And before I knew it, I was 12 books into the year and going strong.

So, here's a short book talk on book number 20.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling (with John Tiffany & Jack Thorne)

Written in a screenplay format, this story was an astoundingly quick read. I picked it up because I love the original series.

 photo from goodreads
buy book here 

While I'm a big HP fan, I was not a fan of the most recent installment. For nostalgia's sake, I loved seeing Harry, Hermione, and Ron back together after all this time. But, the story was greatly lacking. 

We see Albus on his first trip to Hogwarts and he becomes friends with Scorpius, the only son of Draco Malfoy. Albus gets sorted into Slytherin and from there the story derails for me.

Yes, there was the adventure and the mischief that a true HP installment should have. But where all of the other novels really dug into characters, development, their adventures, and lessons, this merely scratched the surface of Albus and Scorpius'  friendship and trials. It really fell flat.

I'm hopefully optimistic that had I watched the play instead of reading it, I would've been transported back to that magical world.

Even with that hope, I still only consider this a 2 or 3 star book as it was a huge letdown. 

What did you think? Yay? Nay? Or somewhere in between?

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Monday Meals | 02

It's Monday and I'm thinking about our meal prep for this week again. We just came back from a weekend at the farm and we don't have a long week at home again. So, it's going to be pretty sparse around here.

But that doesn't mean that I can't share some meals with you. The first is a family favorite. What's more "home cooking" than potatoes and gravy? If you said, "not much", then you are correct.

Potato Klub

Klub is a Norwegian dumpling with pork and gravy. Many people make it into balls and the meat is in the center. Then they fry it in butter.

We don't make it in balls. It's more of a log. Super appetizing I know.

Here's the recipe:
5 lbs potatoes shredded/chopped
2-3 c flour
salt & pepper to taste
chopped pork

1/4 c butter
1/2 c flour
2-3 c milk/cream
salt & pepper to taste
garlic (if desired)

Mix together and place into a steamers bag and boil until done (approx 15-20 min)

While the dumplings are boiling, make a roux with the butter and flour. Add milk all at once and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir continuously until thickened to desired consistency.

Serve dumplings hot with gravy or melted butter on top.

Baked Oatmeal
We love the baked oatmeal recipe from Joy the Baker. We usually double the recipe and cut the sugar in half. 

I also add raisins, craisins, coconut, and any other dried fruits/nuts we have on hand.

Bake and serve warm with milk.

Mac & Cheese (from the box*)
*because we're classy*

Tonight Lewis had generic mac and cheese, while Kyle and I had Cracker Barrel cheddar/Havarti. And it's one of our favorites.

Since this week is a short week, we didn't have to buy any groceries. I have parent/teacher conferences again tomorrow and it'll be a late night at work for me. So this is our exciting menu for the week. Hah.

Have you had any of these? Let me know!

Happy Monday!

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