Currently Watching: The Lost Kitchen (On the Magnolia Network preview). Watch it! I will be sending a postcard to try to score a reservation!
Currently Making Me Happy: How nice my manicured nails look while I type this (want to know more...read this!)
Currently Most Excited About: The two little trips (one to see my cousin in NC and one amazing retreat in California) that I have planned for this summer!
Currently Grateful For: A lot of things! In this moment, the SAM-E supplement I started taking. After 2 weeks, I now feel an increase in energy levels!
We should talk about how I am the luckiest Auntie in all the land....Okay, I'll start.
I am THE luckiest Auntie to my best friends perfect child. He is just as perfect as she is. : )
I spend no less than once a week with sweet baby C, but last weekend was especially fun. I got to spend the entire day with them...soaking up all of the baby love, snuggles and spit up : )
He is so very good for my soul...and he loves to dance with me : )
We had a great time outside in the gorgeous (finally!) weather, had a couple of beers at Last Wave in Point Pleasant before heading home to organize the French fry party we planned....yep....think cheese board, but with French fries...and accompanying dipping sauces. Needless to say, it was a top notch kind of day.
Over the last 2 weeks, I have been undertaking a lot of writing projects, some personal, here and on Instagram, some free-lance, and I was able to complete and upload the Manifest and Grow Journal I had been working on. You can download it for free here! The prompts and space provided to you in the journal feature rituals that I often use as strategies when needed, but that I would love to make a more structured part of each day. My teacher brain needs it to be boxed but also pretty...so voila!
Also, with the help of a sweet friend, I am creating something fun for us! It will be available soon for purchases and giveaways! So stay tuned! Guesses dropped below in comments, earns you an additional chance in this upcoming giveaway...I promise it will be Busual!
End of April Recap: Better late than never? : )
The end of the month brought multiple birthday celebrations and I got to enjoy seeing many friends who I haven’t seen in a very long time. This was the highlight of the month! In fact, my social calendar has worn me out!
The Eighth Life - Nino Haratischivili
What Happened to You - By Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Bruce Perry
Can’t Stop Listening To:
Movie I Loved:
This Beautiful Fantastic
Show I Started:
Currently Most Excited About:
Glennon Doyle’s Podcast Launch on 5/11/21!
Current Favorite Ritual:
Reading in the bath with my new bath pillow and a Summer Friday face mask.
The Big Shift:
The last year of my life has been emotionally draining and chaotic. There are times where I have felt okay and “well-adjusted” to all of the changes (Covid, divorce, selling my home, new career, closing my yoga studio, etc) and other times where I have really struggled. You may have read previous posts where I talk about doing “all of the things” and using every strategy I knew to make myself feel calmer, safer, more grounded...but the point came along where 1. None of those things were enough and 2. Where I was completely burnt out from trying All Of The Things.
You know what I did? Something I am not very good at.
I asked for help.
I have never liked asking for help. I like to solve problems by myself and I like to solve other people's problems for/with them. I am an open book with a handful of people, and use them as my sounding board (and now I also use this blog as a large public sounding board) but I rarely request actionable help. It makes me feel weak.
But, infused with the courage from my friend, cousin and therapist, I decided to add to my supplemental regimen.
I started Zoloft 4 weeks ago. I cannot explain the difference this has made in the quality of my life.
It has eased my anticipatory anxiety to a practically non-existent level, has calmed my swirling mind, and allowed deep and restful sleep again. Now, this, along with the CBD tincture that I have been using for the past 8 months (I love the Green Compass product - curious...just ask! Happy to share info.), I feel like myself again, for the first time in forever maybe? I’m not consumed with trying to plan the future (because I literally have NO direction or idea of what it will bring….helloooooo anxiety!), or stressing about being everything to everyone (I have now resigned from that position emotionally!) and I am no longer my own worst critic (I have fallen in love with myself! - how cool is that??).
I am in a place where I have listened to my body this month.
Right now, this looks like….naps when I am tired, eating what I crave, moving when I want to move (which if I’m being honest, hasn’t been a heck of a lot), speaking my truth (which can sound like...I am too tired to cook, can we order out?, or, I cannot give this energy right now) and heaps and heaps of boundary setting!
I am happy.
Maybe my clothes are a little tighter and my body will eventually revolt from all of the gluten and cheese I have been eating...but I feel like I know my body better than ever, and like it’s grateful to me for giving it what it actually needs….time, space and grace.
The Big Reminders:
On The Food Front:
This has been a really nice month for yummy food (because of the reasons I mentioned above - and because I have found an amazingly yummy, new to me, food Instagram and blog to follow).
If you haven’t followed Half Baked Harvest yet, I highly recommend doing so!
I have made two of her recipes already and have big plans to make pop-tarts soon (can you say nostalgia?).
Two highlights have been her Folded Crispy Chipotle Chicken Wraps and Folded Crispy Buffalo Chicken Wraps. Both were big hits! I used Cassava flour tortillas for both and they were scrumptious!
My other favorite recipe was the Lemon Poppyseed Loaf from one of my go-to cookbooks, “Magnolia Table”.
I subbed Bob’s Red Mill, Gluten Free, 1 to 1 Flour - no one eating would have guessed it was sans gluten. You can purchase the flour and the cookbook through the link on my product page here!
Otherwise, I am over here, deciding to love my life, focused on two big goals, my emotional and financial health, and taking it day by day. : )
1. What has been your biggest takeaway from the month of April?
2. What are some of your favorite currents? (books, shows, movies, recipes...share em!)
3. Anything I mentioned that you would like to hear more about?
April has moved quickly...I think because Easter was so very early this year. I feel so fortunate lately! The weather is becoming lovelier and lovelier, I have had the chance to reconnect with friends that I have really missed over this past year (and beyond) and I have found a lot of peace in the newest supplement routine my therapist/doctor and I have tried (questions or want to know more, just ask!).
New Game: Rummikub
Currently Reading: Man's Search For Meaning - Viktor E. Frankl
Birthday: I had the most wonderful birthday celebrations this year. I loved being able to have brunch with my parents and brother at home and so looked forward to the day of surprises that Kristen had in store for me. The afternoon started with a trip to Holland Ridge Farm, about a 40 minute drive from Point Pleasant. We had tickets and a 3 hour slot to pick tulips, take pictures, visit the food trucks and try to locate our car....which is tricky in an unmarked field of hundreds of other cars..... the chilly weather couldn't even put a damper on how much fun it was to do something different!
Next it was time to hit up the Screaming Hill brewery to bring some beer home. I really liked the Blood Orange Pale Ale...especially paired with cheese and crackers.
Finally, we finished the night off by getting dressed up (for the first time in....a year???) and going to The Poached Pear for dinner. It was amazing....Garlic Shrimp Crostini to start...followed by Ancho Coffee Rubbed Strip Steak and Mushroom Risotto....not to be outdone by the Grand Marnier Crepe Cake and Espresso....all that and a bottle of champagne and Bordeaux and it was a very happy birthday indeed : )
Bagels: My Dad made these bagels for brunch and I stole the recipe, and then changed it up a bit. I was looking for that great bagel texture that many homemade bagels are missing, but wanted to be able to make them gluten free. I don't mind full fat dairy, so you will see that I made it healthier in some ways and decidedly unhealthier in others! They are even better toasted...in my opinion! This great recipe is originally from @bella_gets_waisted!
Mala Making: I would consider myself a spiritual person. I was raised Catholic, but couldn't accept many of the teachings as truth as the years went on. I believe in a higher power, I believe those who have passed are always with us and I believe in the power of intention, but I no longer practice spirituality in an organized way. I first found comfort in mala beads two years ago. My yoga studio had just opened, at the time, in a shared space with another business. I had invited Krista Lynn Designs to run a mala workshop for my clients. It was so much fun and so meaningful to me. I love the idea of focusing my attention on the seeking and manifesting of something close to my heart, and being able to wear a physical reminder of that idea. Now, I have 6 different malas. My newest one is pictured above. I wouldn't be able to keep the intentions connected to each straight if my life depended on it, but I do know, that whatever I need most at the moment I dress in the morning, clarity, peace, strength, truth, abundance or trust, that's what is on my mind as I move and breathe through the day.
Realizations: Okay - lightbulb moment! In the spirit of things I should have known or probably already knew...but needed to realize again...here we go!
One of my common struggles is my tendency to try to do it all. I will have some great ideas for healthy routines or structures and I will be so enthusiastic about them....and try to implement them, very often all at once. Then I'm down, confused and frustrated with my self when I am unable to sustain this new way of life.
I probably don't need to spend too much time explaining how that backfires 90% of the time!
There are so many things I want to be incorporating into my day, so I sat down to put ideas to paper to try to figure out the root of my difficulty in application.
I realized I am the difficulty!
It only took a lot of time, many failed attempts to wholeheartedly start well-intentioned routines and the sage wisdom of some of my favorites...Jay Shetty, Arianna Huffington, Brene Brown...etc etc., to bring into focus the need for a singular small actionable step.
I made a list of all of the areas of my life where I have frustration in the amount of attention I am able to consistently put forth. I found many connecting threads (see above diagram).
I want to eat clean and be healthy.
But because I am not getting enough sleep and haven't meal planned sufficiently, and try to do too much, I end up shoving something that is not of the same caliber, in my face in desperation....
See the pattern...? Can anyone relate?
Every area that I listed, would benefit from clarity. Part of that clarity is in the wisdom to slow my roll and proceed with these micro-steps, the other clarity needs to come from a grounding...a consistent practice in tuning in...a meditation practice.
Despite the fact that I am a yoga instructor and a former studio owner, my personal meditation practice has been an inconsistent one...for all of the reasons I have listed above. For those of you that know me well, you will know I just don't stop! That has always been the reason I have neglected to prioritize this in the past.
But in reality, it is exactly the reason it should be on the top of my list now.
So - baby steps. I am giving myself space, to eat what my body craves, to move when my body desires movement, to write, when I feel the calling to write....but to impose no other routine, other than that of meditation and non-judgement. Even then, I am beginning small...a 3 minute timer....if I want more, I'll stay longer...
So now I set forth armed with my meditation cushion and an abundance of loving kindness ....I'll let you know how this goes!
Questions/Comments For You!
- Send me Busual outdoor ideas for Spring!
- Do you struggle with trying to do it all?
- What routine or ritual have you been practicing lately?
This was a particularly yummy week. I may not be the most natural cook, and I certainly am not at the point of my own recipe development yet, but, I sure can follow a good recipe!
Love and Lemons: This cookbook and website was a lucky find for me! My brother came over for a beer a few months back, and brought me a 'just because' gift of this cookbook! I have made several of the recipes and find I am a huge fan! (you can find it on my product page - here!) The other day, I was craving something different, and decided to try out the Lemon Olive Oil Pistachio Cake! I didn't have a cute or fancy mini cake or loaf pan, so I made these in large cupcake tins, and they came out just fine! My suggestion is to make extra glaze...go ahead...double the recipe; also, I did take their substitution and use almond flour instead of pistachio flour...I only had shelled pistachios and I didn't have time for all of that! It was melt in your mouth delicious. The cake had an amazing consistency.
Notice I started with dessert? Ha! But this week, I made (for the third time!) a household favorite for dinner - Leek and Radish Green Tart! This is light, but so flavorful. It says it serves 6 to 8 people, but in reality, the whole thing usually disappears in one sitting (for three people). We love the little side radish salad - so refreshing! I did use Joanna's pie crust recipe, just because I'm familiar with it at this point! But Love and Lemons does offer up a vegan pie crust recipe for those of you who may be interested!
Total disclaimer - I am in no way a mixologist - but I am passionate about yummy drinks. I could see some saying that this tastes too heavy or two syrupy for them, but I am a huge fan.
Two years ago, when I was in the Czech Republic, I came across one of my two absolute favorite cocktails. I had originally asked for something with tequila, which they didn’t have - but our waitress suggested that I let her order a cocktail for me….as all of the other Americans had really liked this concoction. I said sure, why not….then proceeded to order it for the rest of the week that I stayed in the hotel!
A quick google search has shown that this drink can be one variation of a Stiletto...but when I ordered it, it was nameless. I have played with the pours over the last two years, and you can adjust to taste, but here is the original!
Equal parts: Bourbon - Amaretto - Lime Juice add a splash of Coke.
Shake and pour over ice. (Sometimes I prefer more bourbon than amaretto, and will make that adjustment.)
I think we are all at that point now, in Covidland, of feeling like we are running out of indoor hobbies? I have been knitting, watching tv, cooking up a storm, writing, reading....all of which has been great, but my brain needs a challenge. I have found myself looking for puzzles, jigsaw, sudoku and otherwise....have to stay sharp! Masterclasses have been fun - but this week I haven't been in the mood for my usual dose of podcasts - I'm craving a change of scenery all together!
I also have to say that after searching online, I am surprised no one has jumped on the zoom board game bandwagon. Has no one invented a way to play Cards Against Humanity online with friends on Zoom?! There must be a way!
Comment below with your favorite solitary hobbies and online game hacks! I need new material over here!
March has both felt painfully slow and like the swiftest segway into April ever. We can't complain about a winter without snow - that's for sure! It was brutally cold and there were many workouts to be had in cleaning off the driveway and cars! Finley is, among many things, contemplative, especially in the rain or snow, and will happily sit outside, refusing to come in, while he stares at the snowy sky!
This kind of weather is perfect for flannel shirts, Irish soda bread, warm chicken pockets and a great read!
Magnolia Cookbook Volume 2: Without fail, Joanna has produced two more winning recipes! Surprised? I'm not. These chicken pockets were delectable! Rave reviews! Be warned, the chicken pockets are about an hour of work, but worth it. The cheese balls make generous portions and even at a little intimate gathering, where it was being enthusiastically enjoyed, there was plenty leftover. The black pepper flavor is my personal favorite!
You can view the cheeseball recipe here!
Rules of Civility: Amor Towles was a name I was unfamiliar with prior to this read. I had a friend recommend A Gentleman In Moscow, and since it was unavailable at the time in our local library, I snagged this one to hold me over. I loved this book, and finished it within a few days. You can find a link to my products page, here!
Banana Blueberry Almond Pancakes:
Several years ago, some teacher friends invited me for a girls night out, in Red Bank, for a cookbook launch. This is where I met Amie Valpone. As soon as the server walked around with the Olive and Cashew Tapenade and Best Friend Bars, I knew this was a match made in cookbook heaven. There are multiple go-to recipes in my repertoire from Amie, but the most often used one, and most popular in the L household, are the Banana Blueberry Almond pancakes. These are so healthy, just sweet enough and so very satisfying. They are the only pancakes, in my entire pancake eating history, that I have had no desire to add butter to (and that don’t contain a single sliver of said butter either!). Who said, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free and sugar-free can’t be delicious?
You can snag a copy of her cookbook here!
Every year, at least for 6 of my 9 years spent as an elementary school teacher, it was tradition to have the students' families join us for a holiday ornament making party. This tradition was a HIT with kids and adults (and administration….helloooo 4.0 for parental involvement). Planning for this event began on Back to School Night when I would have the parents fill out the normal, run of the mill paperwork...which included a question about their favorite childhood book (and their history, as they remember it, as a reader). In the beginning of December, I would unearth this paperwork again, and give the kids their parents favorite book title - and request that they, themselves, choose a favorite title (a nostalgic one from their childhood….which they always referred to as a long time ago….or a more recent favorite). The kids would use time over the month to hop on a Chromebook, and google search quotes from these favorite books. After copying and pasting them (double spaced) into a word document….I would print multiple copies of these pages and have the kids begin slicing the lines apart to store in labeled baggies.
Meanwhile, in party planning mode, I would put out the sign up sheet for party and craft supplies. My contribution was always the plastic ornaments (which I had luck finding at ACMoore), and I would request different holiday colored ribbon, a large container of modpodge, foam brushes (enough for kids and parents), small plastic cups and for help in gathering empty egg cartons. The result was several paper covered tables in the lunchroom, kids smushed in next to parents, happily chattering away, munching on snacks and spending 1.5-2 hours, in this way, making these ornaments. This year, G made some special ornaments as gifts for family, with memories he had of special times with them. They too, were a hit. : )
This time of year, perhaps more than any other season, seems to be filled with traditions and family - each having their own ways to celebrate, to give and to share. In my family and in my home, it is absolutely not the Christmas season until we have made, and heavily sampled, the first batch of Christmas candies. My Mom and I have made these, for as long as I can remember, and it seems that family, friends, doctors, dentists (yes - we give them to the dentist) and even the mailman, look forward to them every year.
They are so simple, do not require any baking and I’ll guarantee that if you are human, and are not allergic to chocolate or peanut butter - that you can’t eat just one!
We have just wrapped up a busy but wonderful week here in the L household. The tree is up, the outside is decorated and almost all of the gifts are under control! It's been a bit weird to miss all of the social gatherings that usually take place this time of year.....the fun in dressing up, dinners out, walking from cocktails to dinner all bundled up in the cold with friends...it's those little things that have made this year a bit melancholy.
I am grateful for two Zoom Happy Hours this week and the Cards Against Humanity/ugly sweater party that is being scheduled!
Pad Thai: Making a weekly meal plan, if you are me, always becomes more complicated than it has to be. I can't seem to settle on a wheelhouse of meals, so I am always trying something new. Problem #1: I make more work for myself - Problem #2: I go through creative, enthusiastic planning periods...and then complete ruts - Problem #3: You have set the bar very high and cause yourself to have to hustle to maintain the standards YOU set. Sigh. Well - the Whole Foods app has this sneaky way of recommending items, just as I am about to check out. Last week, this was a box of frozen zucchini spirals. So of course, I threw two into the cart - having no plan of how to use them. Thank goodness for indexes in cookbooks, because Ami Valpone, and her cookbook called, Eating Clean (get it here!) saved the day. You can read more about Ami, and this delicious Pad Thai recipe, here!
Outschool: Okay - I accidentally discovered this program through the magic of a google search! In trying to find Covid friendly online offerings to keep the child engaged with other children and interested....I searched online Lego classes (expecting to find nothing)l Outschool describes themselves as a "marketplace for live online classes for kids". They have everything from legos, to biology to farting....tons of classes and teachers...and most classes are around $10.00. Score. So, since G had an amazing school week, and because Fridays are hard....I registered him for the Master Lego Challenge class. It was adorable and a great way to introduce the kids to something different in this Covid infested world. I highly recommend checking out their courses, or looking into becoming a teacher within their online platform!
Nuts: I go through periods of time where nuts are my favorite snack. So much so, that I can tend to overdo it with cashews, pistachios or pecans. This is especially a problem if they happen to be candied or flavored....who wants boring food anyway? I had a hankering for salt and pepper potato chips (my favorite!), so instead of denying myself completely, but in the spirit of healthy eating, I decided to make salt and pepper cashews. This is way easier than I assumed, and I don't know why I haven't made them before.
1. Place as many cashews, as you would like to make, in a bowl and toss them with a little more olive oil than you assume they need (not dripping in oil, but heavily coated). Save the bowl!
2. Spread out evenly on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake at 350 until lightly browned - being sure to stir every few minutes. These took about 12-15 minutes to bake.
3. Let them cool for a few minutes, slide them back into the bowl and toss with salt and pepper to taste (I used a lot of pepper!)
4. Store (if there are any left to store) in a glass jar!
Gingerbread: Each week, G's best friend and his Mom come over for a socially distanced, outdoor play-date. They are in typical fashion, unorganized and free, but, I wanted the boys to get to do something Christmasy....so I offered up the idea of a cookie decorating party....which I think was well received by all. I used a Gingerbread recipe and cream cheese frosting recipe from the NY Times Cooking App (get it! worth the $4.99 a month!). We didn't have any fancy piping tips for the icing, so I placed it into baggies, massaged some food coloring into it and cut the tip off for decorating! Needless to say, it was a super fun and delicious afternoon : )