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9 Simple Tips To Start The New Year Off Right

Everyone always talks about having balance in life.  What does that even mean?  When I hear people talk about achieving balance I imagine it coming from a vegan who doesn’t have kids and spends their afternoons doing yoga on the beach.

Coincidentally, my niece is a vegan with no kids who seriously does yoga on the beach in the afternoon.  Go figure. Check her out on IG @ modern_day_hippi

For the rest of us, how can we achieve that in our busy, complex lives?  Well, I’m no expert on the yin and yang of the best way for everyone to live, but I’ll tell you what I did to get myself back on track.

Backed away from social media.  My cell phone is never far from me, therefore neither is social media.  It is easy to get overwhelmed by all of the sad or frustrating posts on Facebook (my media of choice) so my goal was to stay away from Facebook for just one day a week so that I could get a break.  I ended up staying away for 10 days consecutively!

Meditated.  I know, I know, you’ve probably heard this one a million times, but it really works.  According to Live And Dare, there are 76 scientific benefits to meditation including stress reduction and mental clarity.  I meditate before bed, when I first wake up or on my lunch break (aka the baby’s nap time).  If you need meditation music click here.

I made a list of 7 things I like to do and 7 things I have to do.  Everyday I picked one from each list and by the end of the week I felt pretty productive.

Meal planned.  I’m a newbie and only prepped food for a few days, but it freed up my evening so I wasn’t rushing to squeeze in my son’s bath before his bedtime routine.  Plus Mister didn’t starve.  Gold star for me!

Drank more water and took a walk outside.  ‘Nuff said.

Pampered myself.  I did a home pedicure, put on a dress, had a glass of wine and read a book.  Self-care is wildly undervalued, yet highly important.

Set up boundaries with toxic people.  Making conversations quick and utilizing texting has reduced some stress in my life.

Did something fun (NOT watching tv).  I picked up 5 books from the library, a bit ambitious I know, to get me back in the groove of reading.   Went outside and my son made chalk art in the driveway while I huffed and puffed on a cheap bubble wand.  Note to self: get a bubble machine.

Hung out with friends.  Getting together with the girls revives me.

So there you have it.  Start simple.  Give these tips a try and let me know how it works out.  What are your New Year’s goals?  What steps are you taking to achieve balance in your life?  Leave your suggestions below!

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Learning How to Cook, Part 2

For me, cooking has been a rough learning experience.  I even have a few battle scars!  Okay, okay, tiny scrapes that have pretty much healed and look almost like my normal skin again, but hey, they count!  I’ve heard that you learn through each failure, but if that were true, I’d be on the show Top Chef by now.

I can pinpoint some reasons that rocket science cooking is so difficult for me:

  1. I miscalculate the time it takes before something burns.  Are there general cooking times and temperatures for food groups listed anywhere?
  2. I can’t read a recipe. Can I read? Yes. Can I read a recipe? No. What’s the difference? A recipe is a sequence of words that all of a sudden form another language – one that I am not fluent in.  Sautee, baste, al dente, fold, deglaze, render, dredge, clarify… what?  What does all this stuff mean?
  3. I am a bit impatient.  Maybe I should have a snack before I cook because the tiny Incredible Hulk in me wants the meal done NOW.
  4. I am afraid to over season, therefore I always under season – which is almost as bad.
  5. I was raised on Irish, German and Polish food while my husband loves soul food.  See my dilemma there?

The bottom line is that I just don’t know what I’m doing.  I don’t know what seasonings go with what foods, what is considered a pinch or heaping teaspoon or what “sounds right/wrong” about a recipe (ie. not enough butter, too much milk, missing some binding/thickening agent).  I’ve tried learning from cooking shows, but the chefs have zero consideration for the muffin top that I am trying to lose.  Every recipe has so much sugar, butter and all the fatty fatness that makes a dish taste magical, but wouldn’t be consumed by someone trying to eat even slightly healthy.  Where the hell do they find these weird ingredients?  Am I supposed to travel to Madagascar to get a fresh vanilla bean or can I just get one from the grocery store?  And they are always cooking some fancy food that I have never heard of like remoulade, bechamel sauce or corque monsieur.  Can I just get a basic meatloaf recipe?

I digress… I’m still trying though.  Recently, I began looking on Pinterest and The Pioneer Woman’s websites for recipes and my food has gotten a little better!  See!  I listen to your suggestions.  Check out my creations (the good, the bad and the ugly) on my Instagram page!  And as always, leave me some tips in the comment section pleeeeeease!  (The extra eeeee’s are a plea from my husband, lol.).

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Learning How to Cook

So now that I’m a mom of a toddler, it is time that I learn how to cook.  Sigh.  Cooking is my kryptonite.  Cooking has the ability to make me cry at night and question my whole existence.  Pretty powerful huh?  One of the first things I thought when I got pregnant was, “oh crap, how am I going to feed this kid?”  Yup, it is that serious.  Mister and I dined out the majority of our marriage.  Pizza, burgers, soul food joints, sushi Friday… and Saturday.  When Mister and I got married the only meal that I knew how to make was spaghetti.  Now that I’m an expert spaghetti maker, he will probably never eat it again.

Everyone says that cooking should be fun.  For me however, it is a major source of anxiety.  I’m talking exasperated breathing, jumbled thoughts and overall doubt.  Don’t judge me, I said anxiety didn’t I?  Scouring the internet for about an hour looking for a recipe that I hopefully have the ingredients for (preferably less than 8) and that seems rather easy in skill and under 30 mins to prep.  Yeeeeaah, we usually end up eating peanut butter and jelly or brinner (breakfast for dinner).  Can’t go wrong with scrambled eggs or pancakes right? *Shrugs*

If I am fortunate to have found a recipe that meets my requirements the food still ends up tasting mediocre.  I just don’t have that special touch.  Like how your mom or grandma can whip up something basic and it tastes magical.  Yeah, whatever that magic is I don’t have it.  There have been many occasions where I have spent so much time and effort trying to cook a meal, yet the night still ends with me in tears and Mister ordering pizza.

Nevertheless, I am determined to learn to cook THIS YEAR before my son has to really enjoy my food.  There is no worse feeling than the rejection, criticism and humiliation a kid honestly and nonchalantly offers.  I don’t want to think I’m whipping up something really awesome just to have my son say how some other mom makes everything better than I do – and in front of company no less.  So here’s to hopefully less tears and more great meals.

Have any good cooking tips, easy recipes or just overall encouragement?  Please comment below!