Episode 1: Mid 20’s Crisis

 

Welcome to Episode 1 of my mid-20’s crisis.

I didn’t know that a mid-20’s crisis was a thing until my friends who are not much older but definitely wiser informed that it most definitely IS a thing. Fantastic.

Let’s look at the timeline here…

  • 8-years-old: decide to do something in music when I grow up
  • 13-years-old: decide to be a choir teacher when I grow up
  • 22-years-old: first gig teaching choir right out of college
  • 24-years-old:  bought a house and got a dog
  • 25-years-old: start a graduate degree in education
  • 26-years-old: begin remodeling the house

Set for life. Right? WRONG. Oh boy, oh boy… was I wrong.

I attribute this astounding follow through to two things – stubbornness and fear. I was too stubborn to not follow through, and being a teacher has decent job security and benefits. Couple that with being afraid I would fail at something else, and you have a recipe for the straight and narrow.

Make no mistake, I do not regret pursuing my education, or my experiences in music, or even my experiences teaching. I have zero regrets about my current graduate program (done July 2018) because it is challenging and impacting me as a human, not just as an educator.

Cue the crisis: I had an epiphany today that what I love about teaching is NOT my students.

GASP.

I DO love my students. They are amazing human beings. They deserve the world.

But I wondered, did I still really feel convinced that I love teaching? Or am I just supposed to feel that way?

In order to get to the bottom of my restlessness, I had to change the conversation in my head. I stopped focusing on what I love about teaching, and allowed myself to admit that I do not love teaching! It’s an interesting thing, switching out ‘love’ with ‘value.’ So here is the new conversation: what do I VALUE about my current profession? What I came up with is this:

  • Leadership
  • Collaboration
  • Mentoring
  • Creativity
  • Problem Solving
  • Project Management
  • Professional Development

Now that I’ve had this realization I’m not entirely sure what to do with it. I have some ideas but I suppose it all remains to be seen. I know whatever I end up pursuing, whether it be further opportunities in the education field or something else entirely, I can say without a doubt what I need in order to find value in my work.

 

 

My Specialized Grocery List

Once of the biggest shifts I had to make in my life was moving to a gluten-free and dairy-free diet. Additionally, I’ve found through completing a Whole 30 elimination diet that rice and tomatoes are not my friend, and neither is refined sugar.

If you find yourself in a similar dietary situation for whatever reason, maybe this list will help you.

One of my favorite places to shop is WinCo – and you’d think that in order to eat with these kinds of dietary restrictions I need to shop at specialty store! But, while I do love Sprout’s and Whole Foods, shopping there is not sustainable on my budget and most of the time I can get the ‘extras’ I need (like protein powder) from Amazon. Fry’s also has some really good deals on meat at the butcher counter, so if you are near a Kroger-type store that is also budget-friendly.

Veggies
Spinach or Greens Mix (good in eggs, sauteed with fats, in smoothies)
Frozen Berries
Fresh Fruit (I buy whatever is in season or on sale)
Potatoes (5lb bag for <$2 @ WinCo)
Bell peppers
Mushrooms

Meats & Poultry
Chicken Sausage
Eggs (18-count)
Chicken Breast (1-2 lbs)
Lean Turkey (93/7)
Fajita Beef (Kroger, 3 lbs)
Bacon (1 lb)
Salmon (2 fillets)
*I do not buy all of this in one week, but I mix and match depending on what I want. Figuring out the amounts I need was the tricky part!

Drinks
6-7 gallons of water (I drink about one gallon per day)
12 Pack Lime La Croix (also on Amazon)
Califia Almond/Coconut Milk Blend (2 containers)

Other
Fine Almond Flour (for pancakes)
Ghee butter (monthly purchase)
Olive Oil (monthly purchase)

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy: All Purpose Cleaner

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read disclosures here

One of my long-term goals is to switch my home over to natural cleaning solutions rather than chemical ones. While it’s an overwhelming task, it can be easier if you switch over one staple at a time.

The first thing I wanted to switch over was something I use all the time – I needed an all-purpose cleaner to wipe down all the surfaces in my home. This easy recipe is good for countertops and even works well on glass, although there is another recipe for that to come so stay tuned 😉

What you’ll need:

Lemon Essential Oil

Distilled Water

White Vinegar

Spray Bottles *I used these glass bottles because I’ve always had trouble with the cheap plastic ones leaking, and these bottles are especially good for use with essential oils

Photo by John Wilson via unsplash.com

Recipe:

8oz Distilled Water

8oz White Vinegar

15 drops Lemon Essential Oil

BOOM! Start cleaning 🙂

Minimalist Hack: Keep a Lid on it!

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read disclosures here.

We all have faced the same problem: the dreaded container lid drawer. Or shelf. Or bucket. Or something that, no matter how you try to keep your lids organized – even if you buy the ones that snap to the bottom of your containers – things always get rearranged, go missing, or are just plain annoying.

In my kitchen, I finally invested in my first complete sets of glasses, plates, and silverware (FYI I’m obsessed with my dishes, it’s beautiful set, you can find it here). I had two dedicated drawers to “throw” the lids in from tupperware, shaker tops, thermoses, reusable cups,  and the tupperware and other things sat dispersed across shelves up above. I wanted to free up some of that space so I could store my pretty new kitchen pieces in a more organized fashion.

I went searching for some solutions that a) wouldn’t break the bank and b) would fit the items I already had. I found two incredible pieces that completely met all my needs!

Enter stage left, the Food Storage Lid Organizer!

This organizer helps keep things nice and neat and you can clearly see what you have.

Now, I still had to deal with the shaker tops and other odds and ends.

Enter stage right, the Under Shelf Wire Basket!

This let me utilize some of the cabinet space for the smaller pieces that never really had a home.

The end result? I moved the contents of two drawers and three shelves down to JUST two shelves with these affordable and quick fixes.

The view from the top – all different brands and sizes fit easily into this organizer.

Here is the relationship to minimalism:

I can see what I have.

I can easily access the things I have.

I can clearly see that I do not need to buy anything more than what I already own. 

That’s the ticket. To know what you have, realize that what you have is enough, so you don’t accumulate more than what you need.

My cabinet – two shelves with all of my food storage needs met.

 

So what is your trick to keep a lid on things in the kitchen? Comment below and let me know! 🙂

Minimalist Hack: Take out the Trash

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read disclosures here.

As I’m stumbling along this journey of minimalism, one of the newest (and smartest) trends in the kitchen world is hiding your trash and recycle bin out of sight.

When my parents remodeled their kitchen they installed one of the cabinets specifically for this. It’s fantastic! Super fancy! But if you aren’t remodeling your kitchen and want the benefit of a hidden waste receptacle, there are a few other cost-effective and easy fixes for you to take out the trash.

#1 Simple Human Pull Out Trash

This one is fantastic – easy to install, and it glides out SO smoothly. If you read the reviews people rave about it. The width on this one sits at 10″ so it’s moderately sized, and potentially the easiest to fit two side-by-side.

#2 Simple Human Trash-Recycle Combo

This one is perfect if you do not have room for two bins side-by-side under your cabinets. This one also installs easily, and slides out smoothly. At 9.8″ width, it’s conveniently sized especially for smaller spaces like under the sink.

#3 Rev-A-Shelf Under Sink Roll Out 

This one is great if you need two bins, but be advised this that is a bit wider than the Simple Human options at 14.38″ width. If you have a wider cabinet and can manage this, it is a very comparable option.

Measure, measure, measure! 

One of the biggest tips I can give is measure, measure, measure! Take the measurements, compare them to the product you are looking at, then measure again. You’ll be glad you did. I can’t tell you how annoying it is to get something awesome and realize that it doesn’t fit – it’s either too big or too small. Chances are you’ve experienced this same frustration if you’ve done any kind of DIY home improvement project.

Personally, I did install the Recycle-Trash combo first but realized it was too small for my needs. I remeasured and realized I could fit two big roll out cans side-by-side which is much better for my home.

Make sure you measure, assess your needs, and make your decisions from there.

I love having my trash hidden now, and it really helps me feel like I’m one step closer to the “less is more” lifestyle. 🙂

What is your favorite minimalist hack? Comment below!

Non-Dairy Protein Powders

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read disclosure here

“How in the world am I going to get enough protein in per day?” This was one of my biggest questions and concerns while switching over to my dairy-free lifestyle! As a fitness enthusiast and avid weight lifter, I rely on protein powder every day to help me meet my minimum protein needs.

The issue here is that some of the best-tasting and most-effective proteins on the market are whey-based which is now a no-no for me and my digestive system.

So what is a meat-head to do?

Photo by picjumbo.com

Below I’ve listed my top-3 favorite non-dairy (and gluten-free) protein powders and my favorite uses for them!

#1: Garden of Life Sport Protein

Favorite Flavor: Vanilla

Texture: Super Smooth! I even mix in RenewLife Organic Clear Fiber in to add some carbs and improve my fiber intake.

Favorite Use: Drink it as is – two scoops protein, three scoops fiber, and shake it up with water. Done and done. Mix it into other things like Glutenfreeda Oatmeal for a well-balanced yummy breakfast! I usually add a dash of honey in there too, just for fun! 😉

#2: Vega Sport Protein

Favorite Flavor: Vega Sport Vanilla

Texture: a bit grainy, so it’s not my favorite to drink as is

Favorite Use: I use this for a post-workout smoothie (with berries and almond milk – YUM) or to mix in pancake mix or in oats.

#3: Paleo Egg White Protein

Favorite Flavor: Unflavored

Texture: Seamless

Favorite use: Baking items or with smoothies. It’s also actually unflavored!

Comment Below! 

Is there one that is not on this (very short) list that you want to recommend? Another brand or flavor? What is your favorite use for it? Let me know!

Good Morning, Sunshine! Dairy and Gluten Friendly Breakfast Ideas

Alright, fam.

It can be hard for many to imagine delicious breakfast without any dairy or gluten! The coffee creamer, pancakes, toast, baked goods… It’s tough letting it all go. But I’m telling you, it’s possible to still have a delicious breakfast.

I’m a huge breakfast fan so I knew that this was going to be mission #1 in my dairy/gluten-free lifestyle.

First, there are some breakfast staples that I buy (at WinCo, nonetheless) that I always keep stocked in my pantry:

Franz Gluten Free Bread (I like the Whole Grain and Cinnamon Raisin)

Bisquick Gluten Free Pancake Mix 

Adam’s Natural PB 

Califia Almond and Coconut Milk Blend 

Paleo Egg White Protein (this on is on Amazon)

Frozen Mixed Berries

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Here are my top 4 favorite recipes for any day of the week:

#1: Turkey and Egg Omelette with Whole Grain PB Toast 

Simple! Toss together 3 eggs, a few slices of turkey (chopped up), and make an omelette. Toast up your gluten-free bread, and slap some PB on. The Whole Grain Franz break is 10x better toasted with something on it. Not so good for plain or with eggs over-easy.

Omelette Tip: Whip everything together before you pour it in the pan, have the pan heated up a little before you pour it in, and cook it on medium heat so it doesn’t cook the outside too fast.

#2: Berry Smoothie 

Blend up 8oz Califia Farms non-dairy product, one scoop of the Paleo Protein Powder, and about 1 cup of berries.

I like this one for a good on-the-go breakfast that I can make in less than 5 minutes and take out the door!

#3: Gluten-Free Protein Pancakes 

Mix up the Gluten-Free bisquick mix as directed – I use the Califia Farms non-dairy milk to make it. Throw in one scoop of Paleo Protein Powder and add more liquid as needed.

Cook these like regular pancakes and enjoy! BONUS: They turn out nice and fluffy like regular pancakes! (Thanks, Bisquick!)

EXTRA BONUS: Throw these in a waffle iron for a yummy waffle breakfast bar!

#4: Cinnamon Raisin Toast 

Ok, so this one really isn’t a crazy idea. It’s literally the Franz Cinnamon Raisin Bread. Toast it. Eat it. Boil two eggs for some protein to balance out the meal, and enjoy with a cup of coffee. I like to put the Califia Farms non-dairy milk in my coffee as a sub for creamer.

This is a perfect combo for those early mornings when I don’t want to cook a lot, don’t have a ton of time, and it’s filling and delicious (especially with a couple of boiled eggs).

Photo by Alex Kotomanov via unsplash.com

Extra Amazing Bonus Facts: 

These items aren’t going to break the budget (I’m a teacher, trust me I know about budgets).

If you cook for multiple people, they probably won’t know the difference between the gluten/dairy-free and the regular.

Let me know below what other ideas you have for breakfast and I’ll share them on the blog!

 

 

Think Outside the Bottle: Unique Tips to Stay Hydrated

I know some people who can down water no problem all day long. But, if you’re like me, I have to really think about it and stay aware otherwise I just drink coffee and wine and kombucha all day long. Delicious, yes, but not quite the same as drinking water.

This is the kicker: water is GOOD for you! YES! It’s so good! I like to compare water to oil, and our bodies to engines. An engine will have problems if it doesn’t get oil service regularly, just as our bodies will have problems if we don’t hydrate properly.

How much water should we drink? Various sources will tell you various things. My sister-in-law (a holistic health counselor) recommended to me that if you take your body weight and divide it by 2 that gives you the number of ounces minimum you should be drinking. From being in the fitness industry I’ve found that a gallon/135oz is fairly standard for most people who are heavily active.

For me personally I aim for 135oz a day. The method I used to build up to that intake was:

Week 1: 70-80oz

Week 2: 80-100oz

Week 3: 100-135oz

If that progression doesn’t work, a good place to start is the method of “body weight divided by 2,” especially if you have low to moderate physical activity during the day.

You always want to make sure whatever goal you are setting is attainable and doesn’t cause you undue mental stress. Remember, these habits only work if you can maintain them consistently.

Photo by picjumbo.com

This is what you are thinking… “Yeah yeah, water is good for us, blah blah, I know, I know. But it’s hard to keep it up.” This is where I come in:

I’ve got 4 tips (that worked for me) to help stay hydrated throughout the day.

#1: Track It

Track your water intake! There are several FREE apps you can use to help you do this. Currently, I use MyFitnessPal since that is where I also track my food and exercise. If you want to track only your water there are two others I’ve used, WaterMinder and Waterlogged.

Helpful hints for tracking: Track you water for 2-3 days without any specific goals. Note what time of day you drink the most and the least. After a little bit of time, implement some strategies to increase your water intake such as setting a glass of water on your night stand to drink first thing in the morning.

#2: Add Some Sparkle 

Water is so yummy! Said no one ever. Refreshing yes, but yummy not so much. I discovered sparkling water when I decided to give up my 2pm diet soda kick during 6th period (a whole different story for another day). I first bought La Croix in the CranRaspberry flavor. I’ll be honest it took me a few days but after that I was hooked! It was yummy, bubbly, and just enough flavor to mask the supposed need for my 2pm caffeine boost.

Most grocery stores also have a store brand of water; I’ve never found a bad tasting brand of sparkling water.

What I do: I grab 2 cans out of my fridge when packing my lunch during the day and bam! 24oz of yummy sparkling water that I can use toward my daily water intake. It helps break up the monotony of plain water and is a tad healthier than the ‘calorie free’ water additives out there.

#3: Times Up!

How many of you have said this: “I just forget to drink water, I get so busy during the day?”

This is the simplest thing. Set a timer. I had a doctor once who had a timer go off each hour, on the hour, during the workday. When that timer went off he’d stop whatever he’s doing and chug a bottle of water.

Now, chugging may not be your style but setting a timer to remind you to drink 8-10oz of water every hour for 8 hours will get you drinking more than you otherwise might. This tip is especially good for people who are very busy and on-the-go all day long.

#4: Raise Your Glass 

I hate drinking from normal water bottles. I also hate drinking out of the gallon jugs. There’s something about it that makes me feel so pressured – I can see the water line going down or NOT going down depending on how much water I’m drinking.

Personally, I like straws better also. No, I’m not worried about wrinkles from drinking out of a straw – that’s what dermal fillers are for, right? But in all seriousness sometimes having the RIGHT water bottle or cup means you’ll drink more water!

What I did: I bought a 20oz opaque water cup. It’s dark blue and has a straw. This is perfect for me because I can’t see how much water is in it when I’m drinking and I will walk around with it and sip on it wherever I am. Every time I finish it, I log my 20oz of water and refill it.

When I don’t have my cup I don’t drink as much water, as silly as it sounds. It’s like a toddler with their favorite sippy cup or binky. But it works for me, and that’s all that matters!

Wanna share? 

What do YOU do that helps you stay hydrated? Drop a comment below and let’s share the wealth so we can all be the happiest and healthiest we can be!

 

3 Commandments of Thyroid Health

Once you find out you have any kind of thyroid issue, it can be fairly overwhelming to conquer.

Below are 3 easy things to follow that are guaranteed to help you manage your thyroid health.

Photo by Melissa Chabot via unsplash.com

#1: Thou shalt practice self-care 

When you have a thyroid disorder your body is already working in overtime to correct, compensate, and fight itself. That is unbelievably stressful! Stress is bad as it is even for the healthiest of people. Make sure you practice self care.

Do you need some alone time to read, or listen to music?

Do you need to go sit in a coffee shop somewhere and relax away from home?

Do you need to stay in on a Saturday night and do girly things like face masks, and deep condition your hair?

DO IT. Whatever makes you happy and feel emotionally full should take some level of priority in your life. You cannot be your best self to others around you if your tank is on ‘E.’

Practicing self-care will not only help you mentally but will help your body to regulate your hormones, which we all know is important if you have any kind of thyroid or autoimmune disorder.

#2: Thou shalt not divert from the morning routine 

If you are any kind of thyroid medication chances are you take at least one dosage in the morning with instructions to not eat or drink anything with calories for 30min-1hr.

Whatever your morning routine looks like make sure you do your best to stick to it! Even if it means getting up an hour earlier on a sleepy Sunday morning to take your meds and start your day.

For me it looks like this: Wake up, take meds, sip on 20oz of water, start the coffee, shower, and pack lunch/cook breakfast. By the time that is all said and done it’s been about 1hr and I can eat and drink my coffee+coconut milk with ease knowing I set myself up for hormonal success.

Even if you don’t have a thyroid disorder, setting and maintaining a morning routine can be helpful in so many ways. You can read more about that here.

#3: Thou shalt never stop reading, researching, and advocating 

Thyroid health looks different for everyone. Just like no one has the same fingerprints, everyone has thyroid symptoms that present in different ways, bloodwork trends that present differently, and have different treatment plans.

This for me was the most daunting part: there was no quick fix to feel better! It’s all trial, error, reading, researching, and asking questions.

Many people struggle with doctors who tell them their symptoms are all in their head, or who only try to treat with meds while the patient still has symptoms, or aren’t willing to try other methods. YOU CAN FIRE YOUR DOCTOR AND GET A NEW ONE! You can READ and research! Be an advocate for your health because your thyroid health will change as the years go on. It’s a lifelong thing to manage and the sooner you begin to advocate for yourself, the more effective your treatments will be.

Wanna share? 

What methods have worked for you? What has your experience been with doctors? Share below!

3 Steps to Minimalism

Minimalism: A style that is characterized by sparseness and simplicity.

It can take many forms and can be overwhelming to some. But for people who want to have less, maintain less, and spend less, it can be a breath of fresh air. There are mounds of tutorials and how-to’s to accomplish this.

There is one thing I can tell you: It is not an overnight process!

In the the spirit of keeping things simple (see what I did there?) I have listed my 3 Steps to Minimalism.

Photo by Harprit Bola via unsplash.com

#1: Identify  

Whether you write it down on a piece of paper, in a notebook, or in your phone, identify the areas in your home you want more simplicity. I’d recommend starting in the home. Once the physical space begins to find simplicity it will begin to transfer into other areas in your life.

The beauty of minimalism is that it forces you to truly reflect on yourself and your needs. You just have to decide to begin.

Do you want a closet that isn’t overwhelming with shoes and clothes? Do you have kitchen drawers that are overflowing with items long unused? Do you have a room or garage or closet full of things that you are hanging onto, but can’t quite pinpoint why?

Write it all down! Getting on paper is the first step. Once you’ve got it written down then you can begin to prioritize. Which leads us to…

#2: Prioritize 

I would begin by picking your top 3 spaces you want to clarify. For me I chose my closet (clothes and shoes), my kitchen (too many unused items), and my office (I’m not even sure what half of the stuff in there is for anymore).

I picked a day to clean out my closet: I bagged up everything I hadn’t worn in that last year, and put it in the garage. After 2 months I donated those clothes. I repeated this process with my shoes.

Regarding the kitchen items I kept out the utensils, plates, bowls, a week’s worth of glasses and tupperware, two wine glasses, a spatula, my baking dishes, and my big items (mixer, crock pot, blender, coffee maker). What you keep will vary based on your household size and needs. After 3 months anything I brought back in from the boxes stayed, along with what I originally kept out, and the other items were sold or donated.

When it came to my “office,” it really was a matter of keeping the boxes stored under my bed or tossing them. I never used them. I had pulled out the printer, printer paper, envelopes, stamps, scissors, stapler, tape, 3-hole punch, my pencil pouch (which lives in my purse anyway), and a small container with paperclips, extra staples, and rubber bands. Everything else I didn’t touch, so it was brought to school so other teachers could use those materials in their classrooms. This actually eliminated my need for a desk since now everything I needed fit neatly in my night stand and I can work at the kitchen table, which I did most of the time anyway even after getting a desk.

#3: Re-evaluate

Minimalism is a journey. If you’re like me, you’ll find that even after you’ve cleaned out an area that 4-5 months later there are still things you don’t touch, don’t use, or don’t even remember owning.

Ask yourself these questions: How long has it been since I’ve used it? What is the reality of me using it again? Does it hold major sentimental value?

The sentimental value things is tricky. For me the only things I won’t discard for sentimental value are tucked in a 15″x15″x15″ box that fits neatly on a closet shelf. It doesn’t take up a ton of space and I can pull each item out and tell why it holds a valuable place in my heart. Decide what is irreplaceable and find a safe place for it. Then in 6 months to a year pull it out and reflect: do you still remember why it’s important? Does it still hold meaning? If it does, keep it. If it doesn’t, it needs to go.

Recap

Repeat after me: Identify, prioritize, re-evaluate. Identify, prioritize, re-evaluate.

Breaking things down into a simple process will help you achieve your goals of minimalism to whatever level you desire. Just remember: identify, prioritze, re-evaluate!