Tag Archives: life

The Healthful, Happy, and Loving Project …

BullEye

March Goals:

  • Take a 5-minute walk down the block, every morning between shower and work. SLOWLY.
  • When I’m sad, stop thinking of the future. Just smile and try to make that moment happier.
  • Chose a day of the week to talk to each parent and sibling. Like I do with Gran.
  • Read this list every day.
  • Remember to be happy when I succeed.

These seem like some pretty specific goals right? How did I arrive at them? Well …

HappinessProject

There’s a really awesome book a friend sent me. It’s called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Instead of being all preachy and general, she chronicles the details of finding her way to happiness. She lays out a list of what she wants to improve and then divides that list into manageable parts. It’s basically a book about baby steps.

I’m finding it very inspirational so I’ve decided to do the same. Every month I’ll lay out my goals for you all to see. I’m not doing this because I’m particularly unhappy. I just have so much awesomeness in my life and I think I could appreciate it better. If I’m not 100% content when everything is hunky-dory, what will happen when life isn’t so nice? I want my happiness to be strong enough to withstand even the hardest challenges.

The questions I’m asking myself:

  • What makes me feel good?
  • What makes me feel bad?
  • Is there any way in which I don’t feel right about my life?
  • Do I live in a way that encourages growth?

My answers to solve these questions – 2013 Goals:

  • Stop being so concerned with the future (haha, does the list of goals act against that?).
  • Learn to switch off work and relax.
  • Be outdoors more.
  • Wake up more energized.
  • Pay off my credit card bills.
  • Invest in quality cooking and cleaning tools – then use them to their full potential.
  • Communicate more regularly with friends and family.
  • Improve our nutrition (eat more raw, nutrient-dense food and cut out all dinnertime grains and sugars).
  • Remove toxins from our food, personal hygiene, cleaning products, etc.
  • Learn to enjoy riding my bike again.
  • Stop putting so much pressure on myself.
  • Remember to be happy when I succeed at these goals.

Things I don’t want to change:

  • My commitment to exercise.
  • My love of healthy cooking.
  • The strength of Mike and My relationship.
  • The strength of my ties to my family.
  • My plans for travel.
  • My thankful heart.
  • My cleanliness and organization.

Happy

My Commandments:

  • Just because it’s fun for someone else, doesn’t mean it’s fun for me.
  • Me is the perfect person for me to be.
  • It’s NOT “doing nothing,” it IS “active relaxation.”
  • Life is play, not an endless stream of work.
  • A true smile and laugh can change a whole conversation.
  • Want what I already have.
  • I don’t have to be good at everything.

To that end, I will let you know, each month what my focus goals are for that month. I’ll pick as many or as few as I think I can handle. Some of them may be focused on for multiple months, some may be much easier than that. Since March is 1/3 of the way in, this month’s list is relatively short. But there’s no better time to start than today!

Does anyone want to join me in this? It can be as big or small of a project as you like. Let me know!

Love and a big smile. – Ash

 

Mindful Monday: Never Enough

This morning’s repost is from a very smart man. His name is Seth Godin. He wrote an awesome book on entrepreneurship in today’s world (The Purple Cow). The type of world where ads on TV and small, incremental product improvements are not enough. Where business starters have to have not only a unique idea but myriad ways to get people to actually buy it. It’s a great book. A quick read full of awesome information, I recommend it.

 

He also writes a blog. Short posts dense with recommendations for leading a successful life. I thought his post today was perfect. Especially for a Monday morning. Just read it:

SethGodin

Never Enough

-Seth Godin

“There’s never enough time to be as patient as we need to be … investing now, when it’s difficult, is the single best moment.”

So don’t save for tomorrow what you know you need to do today. Even if it was extra hard to wake up this morning. Happy Monday everyone! Love and a toothy smile. – Ash

 

DIY Friday: Meal Planning Board

So you’re trying to eat healthy? I bet you have tons of people in the wellness community telling you “it’s really not that expensive!” Well they are wrong. Eating healthy can be VERY expensive. To keep the cost manageable you have to do a lot of planning. You have you cook most of your own food and you can’t have any food waste. Unless you plan, IT IS time-consuming and expensive.

Mike and I have been gradually increasing our health factor over the last several months while trying to keep costs low. We have set up a system where, whenever either of us buys food, we put the receipt on the coffee table for the other to review. It holds us accountable and makes us analyze where money could be better spent.

Then I meal plan. I’m very organized and love to plan ahead so this isn’t too hard for me but I was lacking the necessary tools. That’s why I made this bad boy. My meal planning board.

photo 1 copy

 

My dinner system:

  • Cook double-portions every other day. This means only cooking from scratch 3 times a week! I cook half the meal only partially so it’s not overcooked when I reheat it for dinner the next day.
  • Eat leftovers on the days I don’t cook.
  • Have our “vacation meal” on the seventh day.

It’s quick and means that I can buy more in bulk. Our breakfast is the same every morning (Grainless Granola) and each of us takes care of our lunch separately. It’s a pretty nifty system but I was getting really confused about which meals I was going to cook and which food I needed on my weekly grocery shop.

So during our Simple Sunday this past weekend, the weather was nice enough to paint out on the porch. I finally did my Meal Planning board and I love it!

Supplies:

  • Pretty frame (mine was $5 at Goodwill)
  • Spray paint (for color)
  • Spray paint (for chalk or whiteboard coating)
  • clothespins
  • some cardstock to label the pins
  • fabric to hold the labels
  • hot glue gun
  • a little sandpaper to prep the frame glass
  • painters tape (if you want to do a pattern)
  • an old sheet to protect your floor

Instructions:

photo 2^ Make sure you have a surface to stick the pins to. This frame had lots of dips in it so I blocked it out with some chips of cardboard I had in the recycling bin.

photo 3^ Separate the frame and glass. Sand the glass so it will hold the paint. Spray down all pieces with however many coats they need. *I started with chalkboard paint but it didn’t work all that well. I went back and exchanged it for whiteboard paint and repainted the glass.

photo 4< If you want to paint a pattern, wait until the base layer is dry and then tape it off and spray. *I originally had yellow stripes in mine but it was just too much with the raised dots AND baby yellow. After I finished it I went back and repainted it all white.

Stick the clothespins down with hot glue. If that doesn’t hold, graduate to the messier but much stronger Gorilla Glue.

photo 2 copy^ Cut out your cardstock. And write out any of your favorite dishes. Hot glue your fabric pockets to store them in. Then label the pins with the same cardstock. Mine are for each day of the week and then Snacks to take to work for that week. Here’s the template I made for my labels:  MealBoardLabels

Another idea, for complicated meals, write the ingredients on the back of the card so you don’t have to look back to the cook book every time.

photo 1 copy

And now you have a meal planning board! I’ve only been using mine for a week and I already love it. It takes the strain out of meal planning and makes cooking SO much easier. I will say it looks a little sad and bland with all the white and gray but I’m hoping I can paint the walls our next kitchen so it will just be a pretty accent on a sunny yellow wall. 🙂

Let me know if you have any questions. And HAPPY FRIDAY! Love and a toothy smile. – Ash

 

 

Thriving Thursday: A Different Cook In My Kitchen??

Last night I had a visitor. His name was Dave. I’ve met him twice before. He knocked on my front door, unloaded his tools, and took over my kitchen! It was an odd experience but definitely an enjoyable one. That’s because he’s a SaladMaster Chef!

Now I’m not one to advertise for other people. It’s annoying, I know. But this company is awesome. I love their product and their way of advertising. I’m not getting any kickbacks or freebies for telling you this, I just think you should know.

photo 1

I enter drawings at all the festivals and expos I work and I finally won 🙂 SaladMaster is an elite brand of cookware. Now I know that sounds lame but it was seriously awesome (even Mike thought so). Their cookware is surgical stainless steel and, therefore, doesn’t leach any toxins into your food. He did an experiment with baking soda that showed just how much crap our other cookware put into our food. It was gross.

The other cool thing is that the pots and pans are designed to seal when they heat up so the little pot became like an oven. It heats all the food in half the time and keeps it under 182°F. This means that it loses very little nutrients in the cooking process but anything it does lose, it just circulates back in!

So Dave cooked for us while we sat with wine in hand and watched him. Check out the amazing meal he cooked us in 30 minutes (including the cake). 30 MINUTES!

photo 2

Because it’s so nice and has a lifetime warranty, this stuff is VERY expensive. Like take out a loan expensive. But for what we spend on healthy groceries, Mike and I are considering it an investment. We’re going to save for the next couple months and see what we can afford. Until then I’m going to be cooking in my pots and pans with a grimace on my face. Haha.

The great thing is that he did give us some freebies for having the dinner. Some bakeware that I’ll be using as much as possible instead of our current pots and pans.

Note to Peoria residents: I’m in the process of setting up our next dinner, but this time I’m going to invite some friends (more freebies!). A free healthy meal and a night with Chef Dave. It will also be a full education on American cookware and how SaladMaster fits into that equation. If you want to come, let me know, I’ll make sure I include you. And yes that means you PFC patients. Anyone is welcome.

I hope you’re all having very happy days. Love and a big grin. -Ash

 

Workout Wednesday: Timing is Everything.

I have three questions for you. Yes, YOU. A lot of people have been falling off the health bandwagon. It’s about that time of year when resolutions crumble and the same people who were enthusiastic 2 months ago are reverting back to the I-don’t-have-time excuse.

So my questions are:

  1. Have you developed a regular workout routine?
  2. What time of day can you absolutely NOT workout?
  3. What time of day does a workout give you the most benefits? (i.e. energy, happy hormones, strength, agility, etc)

Please answer them below. Seriously. Because if you don’t know the answers to these questions, it’s time to figure them out.

My answers:

  1. Yes.
  2. Definitely not anytime after work.
  3. The morning. Waking up and doing something for myself starts my day on the right track.

Now that you’ve thought those through, here’s the workout for this week!

Beginner through intermediate (12 minutes)

– 20 seconds on/ 20 seconds off

– each exercise 3 times in a row

Advanced (16 minutes)

– 30 seconds on/ 10 seconds off

– each exercise 4 times in a row

Exercises:

Side Hops

1. side hops- Use a shoe as an obstacle to jump over. Jump high and very fast.

PushUp

2. pushups (beginner- on your knees, intermediate- on your toes with only a slight elbow bend)

RussianTwist

3. russian twist- bend at the waist, lift your chest to the ceiling. (beginner- feet on ground, intermediate- legs at right angle, advanced- legs straight in air)

jumplunge

4. jump switch lunges (jump high, lunge low)

BirdDogs

5. bird dog (beginner- from hands and knees, intermediate- from plank position)

wallsit

6. wall sits (beginner- feet flat on ground, advanced- lift one knees at a time, hold for 3 seconds)

Hope you all have Happy Wednesdays. Love and a big ‘ole smile. – Ash

 

Tasty Tuesday: Chunky Eggplant Sauce

I hesitate in calling this dish a “sauce.” It’s chunky with creamy eggplant and can almost be eaten on its own. But the flavors are so strong in their deliciousness that it has to be paired with something more basic.

It was an adaptation from a Veggie cookbook I haven’t opened in years. It’s hard to find yummy eggplant recipes that aren’t coated in cheese! But I found one, this is a winner.

Eggplant Sauce- Published

 

Chunky Eggplant Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (I keep a jar in the fridge at all times)
  • 1 Tbsp tahini (also keep a jar of this)
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • meat if you want- I used chicken breast leftovers from Indian takeout.
  • something for the base- I used quinoa

Instructions:

  1. Trim the ends of the eggplant. Cut it further into 1/2″ slices. Cut those into quarters.
  2. Steam the eggplant 6-8 minutes or until softened.
  3. While it’s steaming, chop onion and tomato. Sauté them on medium heat together with the olive oil. Now add the meat if you want.
  4. When the eggplant is done steaming, strain it in a colander. Press the juice out with a spoon.
  5. Add the strained eggplant and tahini to the sauté and turn off the heat. Let sit for 5 minutes.
  6. Add it to something basic like quinoa and Enjoy!

Let me know how it goes. Love and a giant smile. -Ash

 

Mold Your Mind Monday: Do we need a women’s movement?

And of course, in my haste and excitement I completely forgot that today is Mold Your Mind Monday! (< still experimenting with names) As I mentioned last week, I read some really great posts from bloggers all over the world. Today’s is from one my first and favorite followers: Ruth Rainwater.

She posted yesterday on the evolution and necessity of the Women’s Movement. It’s anecdotal and gives a great look at the dark place our society came from. Just read it.

Do We Still Need A Women’s Movement?

– Ruth Rainwater