Category Archives: health
As I pursue my desire to breathe more fully this year, one of the things I have done is declutter and simplify the spaces around me.
After making my way through the spaces I live and work, I found that one place making me feel, well, claustrophobic, was the shelf of spices in the kitchen. Something had to be done!
The first step was to organize what i already had.
A handful of the spices in the cupboard were new and used often, but many of them had been around for years or were rarely being used. I tossed out what was expired and offered up duplicates or things I don’t use often to friends.
Next, a new collection of spices was built.
I made a list of what I use most and consulted some friends and websites to round out the list. I ended with 20 seasonings, as follows:
alpine touch (Montanas special spice)
Obviously, this was catered toward my preferences, but I did find it nice to encounter lists like this along the way.
The new spices that were needed were purchased in the bulk spice section, which both allowed the correct amount to be purchased for the size of the jars and was much cheaper than buying them in containers.
Then came the actual makeover of the spice rack.
I had been carrying around an old spice rack for years, but didn’t really like the appearance or selection of spices, so it was the perfect candidate for a makeover.
The spice jars were cleaned and old labels peeled off.
Thanks to this spice rack makeover, I can cook without the claustrophobia. 🙂
One of the most awesome things I do every year is devote some focused time to, put simply, reflect on where I’ve been, where I am and where I want to be, both literally and figuratively. I do most of this through both a self-designed personal retreat and a program called the Stratejoy Holiday Council. Once the dust of this reflection settles, one of the many things I emerge with is a theme. It may be a word or a phrase. It may have a whole story that builds up to it or it may have been born out of my time of reflection. It falls into the rhythm of my heartbeat, speaks truth and inspires my goals. For me, the value of my theme for the year (or whatever amount of time it remains) is grand.
All that said, I wanted to share my theme for the present time.
I could write much more to draw out the beauty of how this theme developed and what it means to me, but, instead, I will share the visual representation and encourage this process of listening to your own voice, creating a collage of cravings and moving with more strength and love through YOUR journey. 🙂
Feet. Our poor, tender, hard-working feet. Don’t they deserve a break?
Between a summer of heat, hiking and sandals, jobs that keep me on my feet 12 hours a day and the moment I smashed my big toe on the crush pad this fall (toe is fine, but toenail is gone), I know mine have certainly earned some pampering.
So, I went searching for some ways to treat my feet and was enticed by these pepperminty options. It only takes 9 ingredients to make both the cream and the scrub, several of which may already be sitting on the bathroom and/or kitchen shelves.
PEPPERMINT FOOT CREAM
1 T. Cocoa Butter
1/4 cup Shea Butter (I used a little more)
2 T. Coconut Oil
1 T. Avocado Oil
1 t. Vitamin E Oil
1/4 t. Tea Tree Essential Oil
1/4 t. Peppermint Essential Oil
1-2 t. Peppermint Extract (optional)
1. Soften/melt cocoa butter. (Mine is in a microwavable container)
2. Combine all ingredients
3. Place container in freezer for 5 minutes.
4. Stir well and enjoy!
I am including the original instructions below as my process was a little more simple, but created more of a heavy lotion than a cream. Though I love what I created, I look forward to following these steps more closely and making a nice fluffy cream.
1.In a double boiler, melt the cocoa butter, shea butter, coconut oil, and avocado oil. Mix well and remove from heat.
2. Let cool until it starts to set up. Put it in the fridge or freezer to help this process go a little faster. Once cooled, add in remaining ingredients.
3. Using a hand mixer, whip lotion and then pour into desired container.
found recipe via pinterest on Robyns View
PEPPERMINT FOOT SCRUB
3.5 T. Sea Salt (I used Epsom Salt)
1 t. Vitamin E Oil
1/2 t. Olive Oil
5 Drops Peppermint Essential Oil
Combine Ingredients in bowl. I made double the recipe, so that I had enough for a few uses.
Massage scrub all over feet and then rinse off.
found recipe via pinterest on The Sensible Mom
I had such a great time creating and using these simple and delicious foot treatments. One of my favorite things about the process was the minty smell that filled the house on a rainy Monday morning. I also loved the results and look forward to using these products often.
Treat your feet and enjoy!!
…to explain my absence…
I made a conscious decision to take a break from blogging. It was well into the holiday season and I had an awesome new job and some fabulous new projects going. Opportunities were abundant. I was feeling overwhelmed by time and did not want my blog to be something that drained me. I always desire for writing/blogging/creating to be something that challenges and inspires, so giving myself a little breathing room to shift focus was intentional.
Stepping away for eight months, however, was never the plan and feels a bit shocking in the present.
I got lost in the new things, which in and of themselves were not at all bad, but before I knew it, I was just sucked up into day to day life survival and my own pulse was feeling faint.
Don’t get me wrong. There have been many awesome things that have happened over the last year. My world has included an incredible and successful new business with a company I love, people that I can’t even fathom not knowing, a fabulous creative space, good hard work, plenty of wine, laughter, positive changes, moments of rejuvenation and lots of inspiration. The problem is that I feel weary and have never craved health, creativity and balance more.
Image found on GabbieBrownsblog via pinterest
And, so, now it is time to return. It is time to bring some focus back toward the things that help my heart to beat strong. It is time to find a way to embrace moxie again. Now it is time to maintain all of the fabulous new things, but to also do what I need to do .
If I have any point in this whole post, it is that I am finally starting to accept the possibility that by making my own heartbeat my focus, all of the other things that extend will carry more life.
This is huge.
And guess what? I can’t even prove that it is true yet, but I look forward to sharing as I journey on.
First of all, apple beverages are delicious. Let’s get that clear. Apple juice, apple wine, apple cider. LOVE, love, love. So, naturally, upon discovering this autumn apple cider champagne sangria recipe on the beautiful blog kirantarun, it had to be made!
Confession: I totally made this for Thanksgiving last year, but was lazy about sharing it with the blogosphere. However, the good news is I loved it so much that I am making it again and choosing to be less lazy. 🙂
My days journey toward sangria began with a LOT of apples. I started by making cider, which basically equates to cutting up said lot of apples and boiling them for hours. Then, the liquid gets separated from the rest of the apple remains through a process I have not quite mastered, as it takes me about 3 different strainers and at least that many bowls and pitchers to accomplish. So worth it though. And don’t worry about the non-liquid part of that apple boil because that got turned into apple butter! Also takes several hours of boiling. Also so worth it!
I could talk more about the cider and butter, but right now, this is about sangria. (However, if you have the time to make cider and/or butter and have your house smell like apples and cinnamon all day long, I highly recommend it)
Back to the sangria…delicious, crisp fall holiday feeling, spicy fig and cranberry soaked sangria. Yum.
3 apples, sliced (I used a couple different types…honey crisp are great!)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup halved dried figs
1 cup fruity red wine (I used Merlot)
3 cups apple cider
4 whole cinnamon sticks
1/2 tbsp whole cloves
1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
something bubbly or sparkly like champagne (I use a sparkling muscat from a local winery for this)
1. Combine the ingredients (less the sparkly) and let them soak together (overnight, if possible).
2. When ready to drink, pour into glass and top off with whatever type of bubbles or sparkles you choose.
Again, this was totally inspired by this post. (thank you)
I will post more pics later. 🙂
Cheers and Happy Holidays!
“You will learn a lot about yourself if you stretch in the direction of goodness, of bigness, of kindness, of forgiveness, of emotional bravery. Be a warrior for love.”
―Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar
I have not read Wild (yet). I have a note in my journal from January that says, “read Wild“. There is even a copy sitting in the house. I will read it. But the first book I ever read by Cheryl Strayed will always be tiny beautiful things.
On the surface, this book is simply a collection of advice column letters and answers. But, if your heart is open, it is so much more than that.
This is the sort of stuff that makes my heart want. It is people. It is stories. It is real. It is all three combined. And then those real people are brave enough to reach out by writing in to an advice column. In return, this beautiful writer, then known only as “Sugar”, reaches back with such raw emotion, both delicate and passionate, woven into words that address real life in a way that made me want to laugh and scream and cry all at once.
Read it if you are a human that lives in the real world and wants to embrace real life.
It is a rainy and rare lazy Saturday afternoon and pinterest has me rather inspired by some cozy ideas that seem to match my mood. Since I am in a bloggy mood as well, here are a few of my favorite new pins from today…
1. Coffee Aroma Candles
Seriously, how simple and fabulous is this?
Candle holder + coffee beans + tea light = house smells like a coffee shop.
2. Dresser Bench
I am super inspired by this. It would be a fun project and would make such a great item for an entry, bedroom or guest room!
3. Pumpkin Bread Pudding
I read these seven words in the description of this and was sold:
cinnamon, ginger, pumpkin, spiced, bourbon soaked raisins
Can’t wait to try it!
4. Cozy Knit Scarf
I want to put this on right now. I love the mood of it. I love the color. I love the style.
Also, I have had this theory that I am going to break out the knitting supplies and this might be the inspiration that causes me to actually follow through!
1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries
1 (12oz) can frozen pink lemonade concentrate
1 bottle dry white wine (I used chardonnay)
1 liter lemon-lime soda (I used sprite)
Mix the berries, lemonade concentrate and wine together and chill. Add cold soda and serve!
I poured the mixture into glasses and then added the soda, along with a couple frozen strawberries.
Jewel Basin is a gem of a hiking area in northwest Montana located between Kalispell and Hungry Horse Reservoir. It boasts 15000+ acres, abundant wildlife, 27 lakes and 35 miles of trails, most of which are open only to hikers.
Getting to the main access to the area (Camp Misery Trailhead) is a journey itself, heading from Echo Lake 7 miles up a sometimes steep and curvy dirt road (Jewel Basin Rd. #5392). From the trailhead, you can choose between dozens of desired destinations. Though there are signs at junctions marking trail numbers, a map is helpful along the trail.
From Camp Misery, it is about three miles to the edge of Birch lake via either trail #717 to #7 or trails #8 and #68 to #7. Trail #717 follows the outer edge of a mountain and provides an incredible view of the Flathead. Trails #8 and #68 travel through a more forested area and provide more shade on hot days.
With a gain of less than 1000′ in elevation and plenty of wildflowers to accompany the view, the trek to Birch Lake is a perfect, somewhat relaxed, partial day hike.
Once there, a 1.5 mile trail follows the edge of the lake where many spots can be found for picnics, fishing, watching for wildlife, swimming, making camp or just taking it all in. Whether this lake is your destination or just a stop along the way, it is exciting to know that it is just the beginning of what Jewel Basin has to offer.
For the second time this year, India Arie has made an appearance in the “pretty much the most pertinent song that could possibly exist right now for me” section of my life.
I’m back! I have been through a whirlwind of self-reflection over the last couple months and needed some time to focus on, well, myself. Thank you to everyone who has been commenting, tweeting and emailing to encourage me to keep up with the moxie! It means so much to me. I can’t imagine a more perfect way to reemerge into my online world than with a quote from my friend Molly at stratejoy.
Let your brilliance shine!
Having a hard time digging out your favorite lip gloss every morning? Mascara getting clumpy? If cosmetics are starting to feel more like clutter, cleaning out the makeup bag can be an easy way to simplify and treat your skin well.
Makeup doesn’t last forever and over time it can harbor bacteria which causes skin irritation and breakouts as well as other infections such as conjunctivitis (pinkeye). So, how do you know when makeup should be tossed? If it starts to smell funny, definitely toss it. If the consistency or color starts to change or you notice skin irritation when it is applied, its probably time to ditch it as well. Otherwise, here is a general timeline for the healthy life of most products:
Foundation: Water-based: 12 months Oil-based: 18 months
Concealer: 12-18 months
Powder/Blush: 1-3 years
Mascara: 3-6 months
Liquid/Cream Eyeliner or Shadows: 6-12 months
Eyeshadow: 1-3 years
Eye/Lip Pencils: 1-3 years
Lisptick/Lip Gloss: 1-2 years
Nail Polish: 1-5 years
A few extra tips:
Treat Your Makeup Well. There are several things you can you can do to extend the life of your makeup. First of all, store it in a cool and dry location. That makeup sitting in the sunny car or open on the bathroom counter while you shower is going to go bad more quickly than the makeup in a fun bag on your dresser. In addition to storage location, sharpen lip and eye pencils regularly and try not to pump mascara too much. Both of these tricks, along with the next tip, will fight bacteria.
Wash Your Brushes! This is one of the most important things you can do for your makeup and your face. If you have never washed your makeup brushes, prepare to be disgusted. You can purchase a brush cleaner if you like or just use a mild soap of some sort. I prefer to use a natural shampoo because, to me, brushes are more like hair. Wash your brushes in the bathroom sink with water and soap and then lay them out to air dry. This should be done often. I try to do it every month. If you use other applicators, such as sponges, be sure to wash or replace those often as well.
Keep Organized. If you keep your makeup organized and accessible, you will save money, time and sanity. Store makeup you use on an everyday basis in a handy location and in a way that makes it easy to move around. You could use a fun makeup bag or colorful containers such as bowls or baskets. Any excess can be stored in a makeup bag, bin or mini drawers and kept in a drawer or closet so that it is not in the way when you don’t need it.
Have Fun With It! Learn some new makeup tips. Treat yourself to a new color or makeup bag. Have a spa day and use that nail polish. Or go on a girls night out with that glitter blush you’ve been ignoring! 🙂
Enjoy your makeup cleanse!
I have loved almonds for as long as I can remember. I use them often, grabbing a handful for a quick snack, throwing them slivered into salads and have even used their oil in homemade beauty products. And now, I have (finally) ground them up and made almond butter!
Lucky for me, there are lots of good reasons to eat almonds.
Three reasons almonds are so good for you.
1. Heart Health.
There are many reasons almonds are good for your heart. For one, they are high in healthy fat, which helps maintain good cholesterol levels. They also have lots of potassium and little sodium, both factors that help regulate blood pressure. As if that wasn’t enough, the amount of vitamins and minerals in almonds, such as vitamin E and magnesium have also been found to be key players in heart health.
2. Brain Health
Almonds have good levels of things like omega-3’s and vitamin E that have been linked to healthy brain function. They also contain phenylalanine, which is a chemical linked to cognitive function.
One of the reasons almonds produce energy is because they provide a lot of calories, but there are also high amounts of several vitamins and minerals that play an important role in energy production. The strong presence of riboflavin, copper and manganese help turn those calories into energy.
HONEY MAPLE ALMOND BUTTER
2 cups Raw Almonds
1 teaspoon Extra-Virgin Coconut Oil
2 Tablespoons Honey or Maple Syrup (I used 1 T of each)
Sea Salt (optional)
this recipe was inspired bythe post on Alexandra’s Kitchen featuring The Sprouted Kitchen cookbook
CINNAMON FLAX ALMOND BUTTER
2 cups Raw Almonds
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 Tablespoon Flaxseed
Sea Salt (optional)
This applies to all of the above 🙂
1. Place almonds in food processor and blend until natural oils begin to come out. This may take a while, up to 10 minutes! (be sure to give your almond blender a break)
2. Add other ingredients. Blend until desired consistency is reached.
Simple, right? And so delicious!
~I tried five different pieces of equipment on my journey to making yummy almond butter from a grinder to a small bullet style blender and normal blender to both a small and larger sized food processor. The conclusion? Bigger blade and motor equals easier to make almond butter. I did not get the consistency I wanted from my small (loyal smoothie making) blender. I did with a normal monster blender, but it was a huge pain to get out and clean out. The larger food processor worked the best!
~I have seen a lot of recipes where the almonds were toasted first. I did not do this, but plan to try at some point.
~Refrigeration. Technically, nut butters are supposed be refrigerated, but it’s frustrating because it does change the texture. If you plan to use it within the week, however, I say cover it and leave it out.
I’ve been noticing some redness on my face lately (well, ok, for the last 20 years), so I took to researching natural home remedies to help calm my sensitive skin. After reading up in a few books and magazines and on dozens of websites, there were a handful of ingredients that clearly stood out as redness reducers, many of them because of their natural anti-inflammatory properties.
3. Green (or White) Tea
Honorable Mention: Oats, Witch Hazel, Turmeric, Vitamin C and Milk
A few ideas for homemade treatments:
-Cucumber, aloe and mint got mixed in the blender today to create a soothing mask. I also added a little honey to make it more thick and “maskish”. I spread the mask on, plopped some cucumber slices on my eyes and relaxed for 15 minutes. Honestly, I noticed a reduction in redness as soon as I took off the mask.
–Licorice powder and aloe combined could make a great mask as well.
-The cucumber oatmeal mask I have used and written about before fits the redness bill.
-I plan to try using white or green tea extract and licorice root extract as a toner of sorts.
There are lots of possibilities available between all of these ingredients and I’m very interested in any recipes others may have!
I read some things about a few of the ingredients mentioned that I wanted to share.
Witch hazel apparently has all kind of natural benefits, but some (rarely) do react to it and often it is sold at the store as a toner mixed with alcohol. So, try a little bit first and make sure you buy it natural.
Turmeric is apparently amazing for treating redness, acne, pigmentation, etc., but it may temporarily stain the skin, so be aware of this!
As I treat my body with more natural ingredients, I continue to notice positive changes and hope you do too!
Deciding to put more food in jars started simply as an effort to organize my shelf space, but has resulted in several positive benefits.
I was feeling frustrated by the stuff hiding in the back, the amount of plastic and the overall cluttered feeling. Around the time I did my closet cleanse, I also sorted through my storage bins in the garage (yes, I was in full declutter mode) and found a couple jars that had belonged to my grandma. I had always loved the jars and thought, “I should be using these”. And thus began my shelf full of jars.
I started (and my roomies helped) saving used jars and filling them with items formerly stored in plastic bags and containers in a rather jumbled fashion. Soon enough, most of one shelf was full of jars and the other shelf easily holds other items, such as boxed granola bars, oils, pasta and canned goods.
So, what am I storing in the jars? Right now, I have 18 of them and they hold pancake mix, brown rice, quinoa, wheat berries, oats, black beans, cashews, peanuts, slivered almonds, sliced almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chocolate chips, chocolate covered ginger, raisins, dried cranberries, dried mangoes and goji berries.
For me, here have been several benefits to having food in jars:
It feels more simple and clean. And that was my original intent, after all. Being able to simply shuffle some jars around and clearly see what is in them all feels like a breath of fresh air compared to my old shelf. It also enhances my effort to cut down on plastics.
Reuse makes me happy.
There is something about being able to reuse that just feels good. I smile when I see my grandmas jars and wonder where they originally came from. 🙂 Also, did you know that glass takes a loooooonnnggg time (I’m talking a million years here) to break down? Being able to reuse or recycle it helps the environment!
I am eating more healthy.
You can see from the list of things being stored in the jars that they are mostly healthy grains, nuts, seeds and dried fruits. (non-processed foods) When I open my cupboard and see these things, I brainstorm meal ideas with them in mind. When I feel like snacking, I often end up reaching for nuts and fruits. I have been making efforts to eat more clean and this has only helped. And…
I am saving money.
Most of what I buy for the jars comes from the bulk container/pay by the pound section of the store and I have absolutely concluded that it is cheaper to buy this way.
The other thing I love about my jars is the variety. For me, there is something about having organization with a twist of randomness that puts my creative self at ease. I look at my shelf of jars and take a deep breath because it is easy to see everything and retrieve anything. And then I smile because the jars are different shapes and sizes and the lids are different colors.
Having a shelf of food in jars might not be for everyone, but for me it has been fabulous and I highly recommend it!
A couple days ago, I was browsing through one of my cookbooks (Homemade) and was inspired to try my hand at gnocchi. I am in love with homemade noodles and also love gnocchi, so I was pretty excited to give it a whirl. I found the process to be simple and fun and was really pleased with the results.
For every 2 pounds of potatoes (which I found to be two large russets), use about 2 cups of bread flour and 1 egg.
*this made about twice what I needed for one meal for a few people
1. Peel, boil and mash the potatoes. (The cookbook recommended boiling before peeling. Boiling with skins supposedly gives them a little more flavor and makes them easier to peel, but I have never tried this. I peeled and then boiled.)
2. Add some flour and some egg to the potatoes and work into a dough. If needed, add more flour and/or egg until the dough is smooth. (I had no idea what exactly the dough was supposed to be like, so I just went with what felt right.) Add a little salt too.
3. Now use your hands to roll the dough out into ropes. Basically, I started with the whole ball of dough and rolled it out until it didn’t fit on my board, cut it in half, rolled that section out, cut that in half and just kept doing this until I felt I had gnocchi thickness sized ropes.
4. Cut the small ropes into individual noodles.
5. Cover with a dish towel until used or cook immediately. To cook, just add noodles to boiling water and they will rise to the top when they are ready, which only takes a few minutes.
I served my gnocchi with pesto and tomatoes, sausage and a spinach salad, which made for a lovely meal. There was a consensus that this gnocchi felt a little lighter than usual, which I think was preferred (it can be soooo dense sometimes). Now I am excited to experiment with other sauces or stuffings. Chalk up another noodle that I will probably stop buying. 🙂
And again, I got this recipe from Homemade by Yvette van Boven, one of the most beautiful and inspiring cookbooks I have ever seen.
How fabulous are these?!?
I knew I had to make these the first time I saw the idea. Valentines dinner gave me the perfect excuse, though they would obviously be lovely any day. 🙂
This was super simple and a lot of fun. It did take a tiny bit of a time commitment to cut the fruit and assemble, but it was worth it.
Fruit. Be creative! (I used watermelon, kiwi, cantaloupe, pineapple, strawberries and blueberries)
Heart Shaped Cookie Cutter
Kabob Sticks (or whatever they are called…they have them at most grocery stores)
I bought halves of the pineapple and melons and cut slices of desired thickness to cut the hearts. The kiwi and strawberries were easy to quickly slice and heart up. One thing I would say is to make sure the hearts are thick enough so that they stay intact on the stick. I made mine about half an inch thick.
I then put one of each fruit on each stick with blueberries in between. A lot of fun could be had with less fruit or more fruit or fun color arrangements!
I thought about making a yogurt dip with a little bit of cinnamon for these, but just kinda forgot to…
I went for the breakfast for dinner thing with these and served with eggs, bacon and heart-shaped pancakes, of course!
This beautiful idea was inspired by mint in the middle
Coming into this new year, I spent several weeks defining goals, dreams and cravings and mapping out a road to success in achieving them (much thanks to my wonderful friend and founder of Stratejoy and her program, The Holiday Council…check it out!) There is sooooo much awesomeness I could share about all of this, but one of the most important moments of clarity I gained from the experience was this:
I need to be LOVING MYSELF.
This might seem an obvious thing to do as a human, but somewhere along my journey, I completely missed that turn. Now don’t misinterpret my feelings. I don’t dislike myself. In fact, I am a positive person with what I consider a fairly strong self-awareness and sincerity and I take pride in my strengths and accomplishments. However, I have struggled to truly focus on myself in a way that nurtures my soul and instead focus on others with unbalanced abundance or walk straight into selfishness in an unhealthy way and then wonder why I still feel unfulfilled and even guilty. My heart has been awakened to the reality that there is a distinction between selfishness and self-love and that I should be pursuing healthy self-love.
And so, I made loving myself one of my main goals for this year. Figuring out how to do this took some time and brainstorming and is still developing, but one tool that I have created is what I call my self-love box.
I started by making a list of ways that I could love myself. Then, I cut out a bunch of little hearts and wrote the items from my list on them.
Some of the things from my list?
buy yourself a special treat
reach out to an encouraging person
get dressed up
take a nap
do something that inspires you
dream, plan and go on a personal retreat
stop. breathe deep.
write yourself a love note
get a massage
be grateful. make a list of things you are thankful for.
Next, I found an inexpensive heart shaped box at a craft store and plastered it with some meaningful and inspiring pictures. The little self-love list hearts went inside and I am challenging myself to use the box several times a month.
Creating this simple little box and using it has been a rewarding and wonderful experience thus far and I recommend doing something like this to absolutely anyone. Whether you create a box or a list or not, though, please remember to LOVE YOURSELF! You are worth it!
Early last week (after an interesting handful of days), I typed the word ‘vulnerable’ into the search tool at a local bookstore. Five minutes later, I had Daring Greatly by Brene Brown in my hands. Fifteen minutes later, I was spilling chai all over the book. (I was already sold, but that sealed it) Two hours later, I was watching her TED talk…