Slow, Snow, and Insanity

What a week. I found myself grocery shopping slowly as I listened to The Slow Home Podcast episode, Busy and slow – can they co-exist? Usually I like to take in all of the sights and sounds of the grocery store. I truly enjoy the experience. However, I felt a bit overwhelmed this week so I popped in my ear buds and shopped. I came home relaxed.

Then we had the most beautiful snow storm this week. This picture doesn’t do it justice. I took it in the morning while the sun was rising far above the clouds. The snow rested on every tree branch. It was like Hallmark Christmas movie perfect!

Then the insanity hit. Make puppy calendars? Sure but where is July? Do I send Christmas cards or not? OK I am sending Christmas cards. Now I have to go to the store and pick them up. Did I really get all of the gifts I intended to buy? Nope. Ordered the last gift and hope I get it soon enough to ship it out with the other gifts. With two busy weekends back to back, I am going to be completely unavailable next weekend. Yes, completely and utterly unavailable. The reality is that I still do have a couple items already scheduled. However, I am saying no to time requests for a solid 4 hours on Saturday and 4 hours on Sunday.

  • Best Podcasts of the Week
  • What’s Cooking
  • What am I reading?
  • House Hack
  • Random Stuff

hanging snowflakes paper decor

“The central tenet of the slow philosophy is taking the time to do things properly, and thereby enjoy them more.”

— Carl Honoré

Best Podcasts of the Week

Lazy Genius podcast this week episode, How to be Happy with the Gifts you Give.

#134 How To Be Happy With the Gifts You Give

Give a gift that makes the recipient

feel more like themselves!

Yes! 👈 this is absolutely 💯% true!

The amazing and beautiful author of Soulful Simplicity and creator of Project 333, Courtney Carver, and her daughter started a podcast, Soul & Wit. They dropped 5 episodes last week and will come out with a new episode each Monday. I binge listened to it all. Amazing!

Image result for soul and wit podcast

On The Slow Home Podcast I mentioned earlier, this week’s episode got me thinking about putting my website writing on hold. Like Brooke discussed with her guest, I can slow down just a bit. I love to write. But the reality is that I cannot be burned out for my day job.

The Slow Home Podcast

I cannot be burned out for my family. I cannot be burned out for me. I can miss the Christmas light adventures to write but the Christmas light adventures will only last for a short time. I will be taking a three week break from my websites and will return in the new year.

Can you live slow if you’re someone who enjoys being busy? What if you’re a Type A, go-getter? Or someone who prides themselves on setting goals and kicking them every single time?

What’s Cooking

Paleo Gnocchi. I completely skip the sea salt in the recipe. If you wanted to use white potatoes, here are the ingredients:

  • 2 cups mashed potatoes
  • 1.5 cups almond flour
  • 1.5 cups tapioca starch
  • 1 egg

My Special Vodka Sauce

I make homemade vodka sauce and I don’t measure much. Here is my best attempt to write it down for you.

  1. Crush a couple cloves of garlic and brown in butter. Do this all in a pot because we are going to layer the ingredients.
  2. Add one large can of tomato sauce (about 25-30 ounce can works). Stir until it starts to bubble. This is not a sauce that you rush so keep the burner on low.
  3. Next add in vodka. I would say about 1-2 shot glasses but you judge based upon who is going to eat it and how you want the meal to go.
  4. Allow the vodka to cook off (or sort of cook off, again go back to step #3).
  5. Slowly add in heavy cream (one of the small containers). Keep stirring and adding until the sauce is a nice light red/pink color. Once the sauce has some bubbles it is ready to serve.

I will freeze extra sauce in mason jars. Let the sauce defrost in the fridge, then heat it up by slowly warming it in a pot on the stove top.

What am I reading?

Looking to wrap up three more books before the end of the year.

  1. Super Attractor: Manifest the Life You Want by Gabrielle BernsteinSuper Attractor: Methods for Manifesting a Life beyond Your Wildest Dreams
  2. Quiet Don: the Untold Story of Mafia Kinpin Russel Bufalino by Matt Birkbeck – This is about Russell Bufalino in the new Netflix movie, The Irishman Image result for quiet don bufalino
  3. The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

Look for a book review recap in 2020!

House Hack

Schedule Reminders.

  • Twice a year I go through all of our medicine, pull out expired medicine, and replace.
  • Once a year I check passports, licenses, etc. It is always easier to renew than start from the beginning.
  • Once a year I go through all of the food, checking for expired items, and wiping down the inside of the cabinets. If something is going to expire soon, challenge yourself to use it before it expires.

Do you schedule any reminders?

Create Adventures.

purple and red string lights

Our little family piles into the car with hot chocolate and tea to drive around different towns to check out Christmas lights. It is a little holiday tradition that we started last year. Our pup sticks his head out the window and loves to take in all of the sights and smells. My husband and I pretend as if we are on a TV show explaining the houses and judging the decorations.

I love this holiday tradition because it does not cost much. You do not need to be dressed a certain way (sweat pants, yoga pants, messy hair, etc. are the best!). You can make hot chocolate and tea at home or go without. Rather than sitting around the house because the sun went down around 4:30 pm, it is a fun way to get out and enjoy the sites.

Do you have any holiday adventures planned?

Random Stuff

Looking forward to more nights of looking at Christmas lights.

Making daily yoga happen even when the days are nuts.

Committing to watch The Christmas Story completely uninterrupted.

bokeh photography of colorful lights

Wishing you a wonderful, beautiful, and peaceful holiday season. I will be back in 2020!

The Queen of Tidy Wants You to Shop her Joy Sparking KonMari Items

Insanity. Yes. Pure insanity. Marie Kondo now has a store! A store where you could buy her favorite things that spark joy to her. I love the KonMari method. I liked Marie Kondo until this point. Her shop says toss your crap and buy what makes her happy. Then guess what. You will not be happy so you will buy more crap and more crap.

Look when something breaks and you need to replace it that item is not crap. When your tradition is to purchase a Christmas ornament from your annual vacation because it makes you smile to remember your trip that item is not crap. Crap to me, happens when you buy stuff expecting it to change your life beyond reality because someone else said it would. Think infomercials.

On my personal Black Friday, my husband and I intentionally shopped for items that we carefully decided for each person. My trainer got an Amazon gift card, our niece got a monthly makeup subscription box, and we purchased items for our home and hobbies.

If you are on the fence with buying secondhand, try it. We bought two knives for our home off eBay. I buy my clothes off an online consignment store, ThredUp. I will not buy second-hand for safety items like a motorcycle helmet or underwear. I will buy second-hand for motorcycle storage, clothes, or knives, for example.

  • Secondhand supports small businesses and individuals.
  • Secondhand keeps items out of landfills a little bit longer.
  • Secondhand helps the environment.
  • Secondhand saves you money.

Do you shop secondhand?

  • Best Podcasts of the Week
  • What’s Cooking
  • What am I reading?
  • House Hack
  • Random Stuff

Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along. – George Herbert

Best Podcasts of the Week

The Frugal Friends podcast inspired me to host a Christmas Eve lunch on a budget. Going through my pantry, I can make two different macaroni and cheese dishes plus a lasagna with only having to purchase 5 items! Five items! These 5 items will cost $9 and I can deliver a homemade Christmas Eve lunch to my husband’s work! FOR $9!

Check out my What’s Cooking section for the mac n’ cheese recipes!

Show Notes: ‘Tis the season for parties, get-togethers, and hosting! While we’ve already explored frugal gift ideas, black Friday, + holiday fun; today we talk about entertaining. Having others over to our homes is not only daunting at times, but let’s face it; EXPENSIVE! Of course, some of us relish the opportunity to provide an enjoyable experience in our homes, while other’s of us don’t even know where to start! The good news is, having get-togethers can be more attainable and far more budget friendly than we thought!

What’s Cooking #comfortfood #notketo #notpaleo

Old School Mac n’ Cheese

  1. Boil 1 pound of elbow macaroni according to the box. Drain. Do not wash.
  2. Combine 2 cups of milk, 4 tablespoons of flour, 2 tablespoons of butter, and 1 block of Velvetta Cheese (the Aldi version works great too!) in the same pot that you made the elbow macaroni. Slowly mix and melt. Be sure to stir often because the cheese will burn.
  3. Combine the elbow macaroni and the cheese mixture in the same pot.
  4. Butter the bottom of the 13 X 9 baking dish. Pour the Old School Mac n’ Cheese into the baking dish. Sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake uncovered for 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees.

My “Little” Great Grandma’s Cheese and Tomato Macaroni

  1. Boil 1 pound of elbow macaroni according to the box. Drain. Do not wash.
  2. Combine 2 cans of stewed tomatoes (14.5 ounce each can) with 2 cans of condensed tomato soup and 1 tablespoon of sugar (optional and I usually skip it). Bring this mixture to a boil and stir often.
  3. Combine the elbow macaroni and the tomato mixture in the same pot.
  4. Butter the bottom of the 13 X 9 baking dish. Layer as follows:
    1. Cooked elbow macaroni
    2. Sliced Mozzarella cheese (you could use shredded) – You will use about 1 pound of cheese
    3. Tomato Mixture
  5. Bake uncovered in the oven at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

What am I reading?

Just picked up Super Attractor from Gabrielle Bernstein. I have enjoyed her other books in the past and hoping to pick up something new from this book. What are you reading now? Did you read Super Attractor?

House Hack

Shop your house for decorations. You would be surprised how the creativity will flow when you face what you have and make it fun!

Random Stuff

TRYING to stay awake after a meal with turkey.

ENJOYING our Christmas decorations after officially decluttering them last Christmas. I spent about 2 hours cleaning and decorating yesterday. That even included decorating a tree!

WONDERING how many ways I could cook chicken since I just picked up a 40 pound box of chicken tenders. Lower waste and less expensive per pound!

Every minute should be enjoyed and savored. – Earl Nightingale

Among the things you can give and still keep are your word, a smile, and a grateful heart. – Zig Ziglar

Hope is the feeling you have that the feeling you have isn’t permanent. – Jean Kerr

Oh Black Friday, What Fresh Hell You Are… or How I am Thriving this Week

We are in Thanksgiving week here in the United States.  I can feel the insanity in the air.  I call it Crazy Hell.  I am trying to be slow and intentional this week by not get caught up in the insanity.

However, I am totally looking forward to my personal Black Friday tradition.  I grocery shop in the early morning of Black Friday.  I wake up early, get to Wegman’s about 30 minutes after they open, and enjoy having the store to myself.  The employees are busy baking breads, the store is calm, and I enjoy grocery shopping without a crowd!

Christmas presents this year are intentional and thoughtful.  My husband and I mapped out our Christmas shopping list so if it is not on the list it is not being bought!  The gifts are experiences or supplies for experiences.  We both know who is taking point on the each gift.  I feel totally in control of the spending that use to spiral out of control in prior years.

Now how do I handle the latest email from a coworker telling me to shop and donate for local charities that are not part of my budget?  I do donate to charities that are near and dear to my heart.  The charities that were selected at work are very important, but do not make my personal list.  Maybe that is the answer.

  • Best Podcasts of the Week
  • What’s Cooking
  • What am I reading?
  • House Hack
  • Random Stuff

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” ― Confucius

Best Podcasts of the Week

Gretchen Rubin jumped right into an issue that has bugged me for years.  Why do people feel the need pressure me into eating or drinking?  Answer: the issue more about the person doing the pressuring than me.  My response to the pressure is simply I am allergic to blah blah but it sure looks great.  How do you respond?  If you are the person who is usually trying to pressure someone to try a dessert or drink, please reconsider.

“Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live. It is asking others to live as one wishes to live.”

– Oscar Wilde

Check out the following for inspiration, motivation, and peace for your Thanksgiving and Black Friday week.

What’s Cooking

Homemade cranberry sauce!  I skip the salt, cloves, and orange zest in this recipe.  I found that the cranberries this year are a little more bitter/tart than in previous years.  For the rest of this season’s cranberry sauce batches, I plan to add more honey than what the recipe states.  Maybe an extra 1/4 cup.  This sauce cans very well if you were looking for a homemade gift to give.  I had cranberry sauce that was over a year old and it tasted like it was just made.  Be sure to add a note for the recipient to return the jar for you to refill in the future since canning jars are expense.

For canning I use the boiling hot water method aka Water Bath Canning.  Easy and did not require me to purchase anything extra.

Besides the cranberry sauce, I am roasting turkey with two different roasted veggie sides.  It is what we do for Thanksgiving!

What am I reading?

Slow by Brooke McAlery talked about relapsing with clutter. Her and her husband decluttered just to fill their house back up with newer versions of stuff they thought they needed. This stopped the cycle when they decided to de-own.

What worked for me was to declutter and then move into my no spend year. Which is working remarkably well since I now have an emergency fund, paying my car off at a crazy rate, and I am contributing to my retirement. The old me never would have had one let allow all three of these things happening.

This book helped me see that my zig zag path to my current state is normal and that I am on the right path for me. If you need a little reassurance or a peaceful book to read, check it out!

House Hack

I am taking a Thanksgiving lunch to my husband and his co-workers. That means lunch is served at 10am! Could I roast a turkey myself? Sure. Do I think I could have it ready by 9:30am? Absolutely not. I outsourced the whole meal to Wegman’s. The store will be making the turkey and all of the sides. I just need to follow their easy re-heat instructions and they will be eating a beautiful lunch at 10am.

This hack is meant to give you freedom. Freedom from the shoulds, coulds, and woulds. Do what feels right for you. Do what fills you up. Do what you have capacity for.

Random Stuff

Running at sunset watching to street lights come on and enjoying all of it.

Falling asleep while snuggling my furbaby.

Loving the smell of freshly made cranberry sauce.

“Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress, no matter how slow.” ― Plato

Tis the Season for Fun, Not Stress

Without discussion or fanfare, I decided I would only decorate for Christmas this year.  It’s really my most favorite holiday to decorate primarily due to our ornament collection. However, the real reason why I stopped is that it doesn’t matter to my husband or pup.  It probably doesn’t matter to my neighbors.  It just stressed me out to see the fact that I was behind holidays screaming at me each time I came home.  I KonMari’d all of our non-Christmas decorations out of our house.  Nobody noticed.  Nobody said a word.  Nobody cared.  I am free!

I know this is a busy time of year for many people.  I tell you my story because many you are telling yourself a similar story.  You need to bake this.  Decorate that.  Order this.  Do that annoying tradition.  Uggg.  It is exhausting.  Take it slow this season.  Savor the good stuff.  And let go of the fruitcake of traditions (assuming that you and I both share the same feelings that fruitcakes are gross!).  #DitchFruitcakeTraditions

Since Ralphie had to write a theme paper in The Christmas Story (let’s all agree it’s the best movie ever!).  Each year I pick a theme.  In 2018, it was Sleep.  This year Family. Next year…

  • Say Yes (to things that really matter)
  • Focus on Fun (how to make the simple things in life more fun)

More to come on my 2020 theme.

  • Best Podcasts of the Week
  • What’s Cooking
  • What am I reading?
  • House Hack
  • Random Stuff

He got his fur done this weekend.

“Smile, breathe and go slowly.”

“Smile, breathe and go slowly.”

— Thich Nhat Hanh

Best Podcasts of the Week

Stop saying negative words about yourself and life.

Period.

That’s all.

This week I listened to Episode 101, Goddess Devotion, Energy Shifting, and The Power of Language w/ Rach, of the Vibe Tribe. Look if things are going in the direction you want them to, could it be the story you are telling yourself?  Rach explains how the worse you use vibrate at different levels, what words you just need to stop using today, and how to reframe your stories.

Next episode that really rocked my world was the Slow Home Podcast titled “Can you live slow in your 20s or is burnout inevitable?”  OMG!  If I could go back to my 20s and tell myself that you need to work hard but working insane hours will not get you much further than working hard with reasonable hours, I really would.  I would also tell myself that it’s ok to have boundaries.  To say no.  To eat healthfully.  That self-care is going to probably save your life.  I would go back, slap myself across the face, and say you had better listen to me now!

What would you say to your 20 something self?  I would say stop spending money and you are a badass!  

What’s Cooking

Planning our Thanksgiving dinner with two different roasted veggie sides and homemade cranberry sauce.

What is your one go to/must have at Thanksgiving?

What am I reading?

Slow by Brooke McAlery is starting fabulously!  If you are not familiar with her, she hosts the Slow Home Podcast.  The book is off to a magnificent start with explaining how she got started in the slow/minimalism space.  Funny how my journey started very similarly to Brooke’s.  I had the feeling of overwhelm walking into my house.  I felt like I never had enough stuff yet I felt that I had too much stuff.

Here is what is on my bookshelf to read this week:

House Hack

Establish a house reset day.  Every Sunday and Wednesday I walk through the house restocking toilet paper, paper towels, soap, and tissues from our basement stash as well as put away items misplaced items.  This ritual takes less than 5 minutes but saves me time, energy, and stress.

Random Stuff

Snuggling under my Snuggie.

Looking forward to making homemade gnocchi.

Wondering what my husband planning for date night this week.

Doing a longer daily yoga practice and loving it.

“Be not afraid of going slowly, be afraid only of standing still.”

— Chinese Proverb

Hello Self Care Rockstar!

The stars aligned this week to give me a very clear message. FOCUS ON SELF CARE! It was self care from podcasts. Self care from a book. Self care from yoga. Self care. Self care. Self care. Okay Universe, I got it!

My self care focus started this past weekend when I challenging myself to practice yoga just a little bit longer. I took my daily practice from 15 minutes to 30-45 minutes each morning. My hips opened up a little bit more. My spine felt a little more flexible. And I made it to work early every morning despite still waking up at the same time. Impressive actually.

Then my self care focus brought me back to my 15/45 theory of doing easy, short little tasks for 15 minutes. Followed by 45 minutes focused on a single task at work. This 15/45 theory helps to ground and focus me. At work, I start off by going through emails for 15 minutes and scheduling time for those emails that require a little bit more effort. At home, I walk around our house picking up any of the loose ends. Then when I get to the 45 minutes for a single task I can sit and write or complete a project with a clear mind.

Then I started a new morning tradition on days that my husband starts work later than I do. Since on those days I am usually up about 2-3 hours before he gets up, my new morning tradition now begins with me sending him a cute text. I now schedule the questions and information texts mid-morning. I use to fire of questions and information at him the second he got up. We are only on day 4 of this new tradition and things are running a lot more smoothly.

  • Best Podcasts of the Week
  • What’s Cooking
  • What am I reading?
  • House Hack
  • Random Stuff

Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along. – George Herbert

20190811_1343291436326999.jpg

Best Podcasts of the Week

For better or for worse, the holiday craze starts on November first. (Think: Christmas commercials. Christmas trees in stores. Holiday

Sustainable Minimalist podcast this week featured… you guessed it… SELF CARE practices! Self care is literally in the title!

LESS IS MORE! PRACTICAL SELF-CARE DURING THE HOLIDAYS

You just have to listen to this episode if you want a calmer and more relaxed holiday season or just life in general.

You know I love the Frugal Friend’s podcast and the Spark Joy podcast. Well my world collided in my ears this week. Spark Joy podcast had Jen Smith (one half of the Frugal Friends) on their show this week!

Ep 110 | Modern Frugality with Jennifer Smith Show Notes:

Jen Smith author and creator of modernfrugality.com explores how to follow your journey to paying off debt and reaching other big financial goals.

Jen Smith co-hosts the Frugal Friends Podcast and author of Amazon best-selling book, “The No-Spend Challenge Guide” and latest book “Pay Off Your Debt for Good.”

Since I really wanted to keep my focus on self care, I finally listened to Simplify’s episode with Dan Harris. I read his book 10% Happier and I loved it! I know his story. But hearing it again was just the refresher I needed to really get this whole self care thing done this week.

What’s Cooking

Weekend breakfasts. During the work week, we never have time to sit down at the same time and enjoy breakfast together. Now that is officially really cold outside, I am bringing back the weekend breakfast tradition. This weekend features the following:

  • Maple sausage
  • Keto pumpkin bread toasted with a little honey or maple syrup drizzled
  • Scrambled eggs or omlets
  • Orange juice

Not looking to win a cooking contest with this menu but just looking to have a full belly, funny stories, and a good morning together.

Note on the pumpkin bread: Consider cooking it a little bit longer than the recipe stated. I found that it needs a little bit more time than 50-60 minutes to bake.

What am I reading?

Ok, I am still on The Joy of Missing Out: Live More by Doing Less by Tonya Dalton! I promise to finish it up before my next post but my goodness this book is so juicy and delicious and full of such love, SELF CARE, and brilliant ideas. I literally used an Amazon gift card to purchase this book because I am expanding my Top 10 Books that Spark Joy to 11 Books!

Image result for joy of missing out tonya dalton

Have you ever thought about having a Priority List instead of a To Do List? Um yeah! Exactly. Mind blowing! I am now only having a Priority List. Let’s be honest, if it isn’t a Priority to me, it just isn’t getting done no matter how big or bright or the number of times I write it, it just isn’t getting done (yes I am a Gretchen Rubin Four Tendencies Questioner 100% with a major side of Rebel!).

House Hack

Do you have any traditions that you love around the holidays? If you said yes, then you need to embrace the thought of having a routine in your daily life. Think about it, you brush your teeth every day. There is no debate about if you should do it or not. Then why is there a debate if you should drink enough water, go for a walk, work out, eat healthfully, etc? Just read The Joy of Missing Out and you will totally get me on this one.

Random Stuff

Enjoying the sparkling snow under the clear and full moon sky.

Wondering what on earth takes my pup so long in deciding where to do his business. It is 12 degrees out little dude!

Hoping to learn how to transfer my current blog posts to my new website!

20190712_1225311930575655.jpg

The problem with patience is that we never know how much we have until we run out of it. – Anonymous