How Does Your Garden Grow?

Happy Monday! This Motivation Monday is dedicated to anyone who feels like they are falling behind, can’t keep up, or feels like they are struggling while everyone else is all sunshine and roses. I am here to tell you, the grass isn’t always greener — often it’s not.

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It’s really easy to feel like you have to work twice as hard as others for the same results. It can also be easy to feel like your accomplishments are celebrated with a whisper while other’s are trumpeted with resounding excitement. I think everyone wants love, support, and achievement in their lives and I think it takes a lot of hard work to earn those things. So, if you don’t have those and are giving it your all, while others have it made in the shade with half of the effort, just know their grass isn’t necessarily greener. It could be fake.

It’s really easy to be the center of attention, can-do-no-wrong champ when you put 100% of your effort into maintaining that. At the end of they day, it’s exhausting and it isn’t real. The real grass…it’s imperfect, patchy, maybe it looks like it’s been tilled, but guess what? That’s your investment and that’s where you’ll see the most flowers grow. Flowers are better than boring patches of grass anyways.

Happy Monday! xox

5 Easy Ways to Kick Off a Healthier Lifestyle

Healthier.pngAs someone who loves veggies and tries to eat mostly vegan, I think about health a lot, but sometimes it’s the things you aren’t doing that can contribute to an unhealthy or less healthy lifestyle. The good news is, fixing this is super easy, even for the laziest/busiest of people.

Because I don’t eat meat and I rarely eat dairy, I am always worried about getting enough of my iron and vitamins, especially because I tend to have low iron anyways. I eat a lot of beans, seeds, and veggies, but until I started using My Fitness Pal, I didn’t realize all of the nutrients I wasn’t getting.

I have made some really easy adjustments and not only do I feel great I have lost 10 pounds without even really trying! My husband has lost weight too, all his shirts are too big! What? I know, right! Anyways, here are some tips and adjustments to things that you may or may not already be doing in order to feel good every day.

START USING MY FITNESS PAL: This is one of my favorite apps, hands down. It keeps you on track with calories, water consumption, but most importantly—nutrition. I had NO idea I wasn’t getting enough Vitamin A, B, C, protein, and iron. You can also log in calories burned from working out. A lot of the meals are pre-loaded, so all you need to know are the portions you eat. You can log in via the web and your phone to log in your meals and snacks so there’s no excuse to not use it, because it’s that easy. My macros look great, but I was not meeting my daily nutrition goals, which I have adjusted and I feel great!

20160524_144011DRINK MORE WATER: This is what I struggle with big time. I would go from coffee to maybe a glass of water during the day and then I would have some water with dinner. There’s NO WAY that’s enough. I have a method now. If you have to drink 11 glasses of water a day, I know that I need to fill my water bottle at work 4 times and then drink a few glasses of water at home.

In order to stay on task I write goal times down on a post it note (11:30 a.m. , 1:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m.) and I know by those times, whatever they may be, I need to have had a bottle of water. I always add lemons and herbs to make it more interesting. When you get enough water there’s less headaches, you have better skin, you loose weight, and my acid reflux is so much better. Also, I hardly ever drink pop, but I love bubbles so I drink La Croix instead—my fave!

VITAMINS & NATURAL SUPPLEMENTS: Because I have dietary restrictions and I take daily medication for reflux I am lacking some nutrients. When you take a proton pump inhibitor daily it can deplete your magnesium, vitamin D, calcium and can lead to weak bones. I am not trying to have a hip replacement in my early 30’s so I take magnesium, calcium + vitamin D, in addition to vitamin B12 (for energy), COq10 (for heart health), folic acid (to help alleviate cramps), 5-HTP (for anxiety), and turmeric (for joint health/inflammation). That’s a long list, but I take a few in the morning and a few in the evening and I am confident that my bones will not break, I am getting the vitamins I need, and my cramps are 50% better than they used to be!

20160613_183856EAT MORE: Wait for it…veggies! Literally, 65% of my dinner and lunch are veggies. This might be more challenging to some, but I have never met a veggie I wouldn’t try so it’s easy for me. For example, tonight I roasted some cherry tomatoes, brussels sprouts, peppers, onions, and squash and I ate it with some soy “chicken”. Because my plate was mostly veggies that were filled with fiber and vitamins, it was filling and didn’t make me feel like garbage after I ate! Try spicing them up with some garlic, herbs, and red pepper flakes, yum.

WORK OUT WITH NOISE: I have never understood how people can run on the treadmill or work out in complete silence (unless it’s yoga), but even then I need some noise. If I make a certain play list while I am working out in my home “gym” aka my elliptical, bike, and treadmill, I know how far a long I am by what song is on and I know if I want to finish strong I need to push myself during a certain song. I also know what I need to start cooling down. Let’s be honest, I’m the girl listening to something fun and poppy like Passion Pit while getting into a deep thoughtful yoga pose (I’m not great at finding my center—yet!), but this is how I am able to stay on task and motivated while working out.

See…super easy! What are your simple tips to a healthier you?

Prepping Your Veggie Garden This Spring!

SINCE 1972It’s almost spring and the first signs of life are sprouting out of the ground! We always see gorgeous, fragrant hyacinths and tulips in our yard during the spring, then as the summer approaches we get tiger lillies, peonies, and roses. As much as I love flowers (and I plan on adding to my garden this year), I also want to approach the spring with a more utilitarian mentality.

First of all, being a veggie is hard and expensive. In order to get really good, organic produce, without going to 3 or 4 different stores, I end up shelling out at least $20 on produce a week. A few weeks ago I bought 6 bell peppers and it cost me $8, but what else are you going to do in a week where you are having salads, stuffed peppers, and tofu fajitas for dinner?

Now, I’m not going to lie, I don’t have the greenest thumb, but it’s in my blood (my uncle is a farmer), plus I have a friend who happens to work at the local food bank who is also passionate about growing her own food. She’s giving me tips and for every dollar I save on what I would have spent on produce this summer, I plan on donating it to her Foodbank, because they really do amazing things in our community, which unfortunately, is considered a food desert.

I digress, I have committed to growing my own produce this summer and I am super excited about it! I will not only be saving some money and do some good, I will be eating super healthy! I plan on growing hot peppers, sweet peppers, summer squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, strawberries, herbs, lavender, pumpkin, spaghetti squash, mini tomatoes, and berries. I also plan on adding dahlias, hydrangeas, more peonies and roses, and ranunculus to my existing flower garden.

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Seeds and Herbal Seed Paper

So, I’ve been told the best way to start your veggie garden is with a seed starter kit. I also grabbed some herbal seed paper from work and seed kits for fun. Here is everything you’ll need to start your garden:

  • Seed starter kit
  • Seed paper
  • Seed starter soil
  • Your choice of seeds
  • Water
  • A sunny area

First step is to add your soil. I purchased soil that is specifically used for starting seedlings and I added a healthy amount to each pod. Next, dampen the soil and stick your index finger into each pod creating a two-inch hole. Place the seeds in the hole and recover with soil. Add a bit more water and soil, then cover the seed starting kit with the plastic top and put in a warm, sunny place.

When your seeds start sprouting, you will eventually take the plastic top off and cut down all of the weaker sprouts, leaving the strongest seedling behind. Transfer the entire pod, seed and soil into your garden area, then BOOM—veggie garden—and then you get to eat all the vegetables!

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All the fruits and veggies!

 

The Best Way To De-Stress!

May every joy be yoursthis Holiday SeasonHere’s the thing, even on a bad day I can handle a lot, I think we all can. However, the past few weeks have really challenged my emotional resolve and stress levels. I had a major fundraising event, I worked at least 10-12 hour days for a week and a half–solid, my husband went to the doctor for some pretty scary stuff (hopefully he’s fine) and my father, who I am pretty much estranged from (for good reason), sent my sister a letter explaining he was going to cut ties from all of my sisters and I and he was making grave threats about taking his own life.

Now, having a toxic parent is a challenge and having a toxic parent with a personality and mental disorder is even more of a challenge. Even more challenging beyond that is having people in your life who throw around terms like, “sociopath”, “crazy”, and “narcissist” as pejoratives, when most people have no idea what experiencing someone like that is really like. I speak candidly about this because I feel like there is a lot of ignorance, sometimes cruel, purposeful ignorance, that surrounds mental health issues, which is weird because so many people deal with them.

Needless to say, I’ve been stressed beyond belief and one of the things that helps me manage is yoga and meditation. In fact, as soon as it’s a little bit nicer out I plan on creating an outdoor yoga space in my back yard. There’s something about deep breathing, exercise, and listening to your body that completely melts stress—so if you’re feeling stressed out, I highly suggest one of these 3 sequences to help:

1) Breathing and Meditation: I fully believe in the benefits on mindful thinking and meditation. I even have a relaxation/breathing app on my phone. I’ve even taken 5 minutes at my work desk to go through this routine and it always helps when I need to de-stress. If you have a stressful job, this is a must if you have an office door you can close and spend 5 minutes by yourself.download

2) These yoga poses help alleviate stress and are actually good for beginners. You don’t even necessarily have to have a mat for these—and if you don’t have a yoga block, you can always use a hard pillow or a puppy dog (jk—don’t use a puppy dog). 🙂

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3) I can’t recommend this video enough, I love this sequence—especially before bed. I don’t know about you, but when I am stressed out, I can’t sleep. My Fitbit says I do 4 hours of sleep at best when I am really stressed. Instead of going to bed with a million racing thoughts and a heartbeat that is jumping out of my chest, I am relaxed, stretched out, and ready for sleep after this sequence.

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What about you, what are your favorite yoga poses?

Oolala! Lavender Syrup Cocktails & Mocktails

oolalaIt’s been awhile–who knew migrating a website could be so time consuming? Needless to say, with everything going on at work recently, I’ve needed (with what little time I have off) to relax.

I have some friends at work who are into essential oils and told me lavender works wonders for sleep, anxiety, and stress—so the next time I went to my favorite local coffee shop I ordered a Tangerine Lavender Honey Latte and fell in love! Not only does lavender smell wonderful, it’s delicious–very delicate and floral.

Because I rarely drink soda, wine, beer, juice, or dairy this leaves me with a lot of water, coffee, and tea. I discovered that adding lavender simple syrup to cold and hot tea, sparkling water, and coffee is truly amazing. There’s

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Tangering, Lavender, Honey Soy Latte

nothing like throwing some herbs, fruit, and garnish into some sparkling water for a nice mocktail or cocktail if you’re having people over and have some vodka on hand.

Here’s the recipe to make lavender simple syrup and a recipe for my favorite mocktail/cocktail:

Lavender Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup purified water
  • 1 cup organic sugar
  • 3 tbs lavender
  • purple food coloring (if desired)

Add the water and sugar to a small sauce pan and stir, then add the lavender and bring to a boil. Once boiling, stir and bring down to a simmer for 10 minutes. Strain our the lavender buds using cheesecloth and store in a mason jar. Your simple syrup will end up a caramel color, but if you want it to look more purple you can add a bit of food coloring (red and blue).

Store in the fridge for up to a week.

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Citrus, Cucumber, Lavender Mocktail

My Favorite Lavender Mocktail

  • La Croix Orange Sparkling Water
  • 2 Crushed Basil Leaves or a Slice of Cucumber if Basil is too strong for you
  • Slice of Lemon
  • Lavender Simple Syrup to taste

My Favorite Lavender Cocktail

  • Large shot of vodka in a cocktail glass
  • Heavy Splash of Grapefruit Juice
  • Soda Water
  • A Few Crushed Mint Leaves
  • Lavender Simple Syrup to taste (I like about a tablespoon)

Pro Tip: If you have a friend who works at a non-profit in a development capacity, recruit them to be a bartender at your wedding/event, hell recruit them to coordinate your entire event/wedding. We have all had to play double duty at fundraising events as a event coordinator/bartender/florist and have learned quite a few tricks! I know more about linens, seating grids, centerpieces, menus, catering, and ordering bistro tables, eight and ten tops than I ever, ever thought I would know.

Lavender may be on the expensive side, HOWEVER, feeling relaxed with a delicious drink is priceless—so tune out all of your work worries, miserable, mean people, loud kids, and have a delicious drink with a few friends!

 

Chin Up Buttercup, Monday Motivation.

It’s been awhile, but bare with me—I’ve been migrating our website at work which has given me about zero time to breathe. Hopefully I will go back to 9 hour days and two day weekends soon, but for now—here’s a little #MondayMotivation.

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Everyone’s got situations, things, and circumstances that get them down—most of the time this revolves around people who are less than kind. Just when I thought that I was reaching the height of what I could handle when it came to people being downright mean, I came to a realization. Just because other people have zero consequences and accountability and sometimes have their bad behavior encouraged, doesn’t mean that’s a way to live. I believe in karma. I believe full hearts can’t lose and good things happen to good people.

Then, boom. Mr. JD and I had an amazing week. Raises, bonuses, great performance reviews, awesome things in our careers and the elimination of some hurtles. This made me realize digesting negativity with your head held high can turn into blessings and karma takes care of the rest. So, chin up buttercup, don’t let the haters get you down because the negativity they put out, you will receive back in positivity ten fold.

Also, Broncos are going to the Super Bowl and I plan on doing so much yoga this week! Life’s awesome sometimes, you guys.

 

 

Gift Giving & Get Wells: For Friends Going Through Chemo

I love gift giving. Well, scratch that…I love being thoughtful and making people happy—it’s really not about the gift at all. That being said, I hope no one ever has to give a gift like this, ever.

If you told me that by the time I was 30 I would know 3 people (who are younger than me) who were diagnosed with breast cancer, I would tell you that you were crazy. I guess I’m the crazy one

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Turns out I wasn’t crazy about this, it’s too sweet. Fever Tree is much better!

I just went to grab some bubble tea and chat with one of my friends who has breast cancer. She’s in amazing spirits and keeps close tabs of her journey on Facebook, so I know how she’s doing even though I don’t see her everyday (we used to work together). I snagged some ginger sodas at a local store and immediately thought of my friend and her severe nausea. She was very appreciative for the soda and we got to chatting about how she was feeling. I immediately thought of a couple of nice things that could be made into a gift basket to help with the things she was dealing with. Anything to brighten someone’s day, right?

 

So again, I hope you never, ever have to put something like this together, but if you do…here are some suggestions:

For Your Freinds Going Through Chemo

Ginger Lollipops – This is a great gift that naturally helps alleviate nausea. Quite a few of my friends who have been through chemo say hard candy is a gem. Bonus: these are organic and if you over-purchase they are always handy for a pregnant friend or anyone in your house with a tummy ache. Caramelized Ginger Lollipops via PopOrganic.

Aloe Infused Socks – Hospitals can be drafty and when you are receiving chemo you want to be comfy! Additionally, many rounds of chemo can dry your skin out. Dry, cracking feet sound painful to me—so why not skip it! Winter Aloe Infused socks from Bath and Bodyworks.

Games For Two – Hopefully, whether it’s you, a family member, or a friend, someone is there to hang out during chemo. It’s a long process and passing the time with fun things is better than sitting there. Again, depending on the medications applied in addition to chemo (steroids and allergy meds to name a few), games might be out and restful quiet moments might be in, but it really just depends on the person. Also, who doesn’t love Uno!? Find Uno and more two-person games on Amazon.

Lotion – It’s winter and that means dry skin as it is, but chemo adds to this. When I was at lunch the other day my friend’s hands were so dry and she was wanting some lotion stat! I really recommend Philosophy’s Amazing Grace because it’s mildly fragrant without being overwhelming, strong scents are no good for anyone with a weak stomach. Also, I just love Philosophy’s skin care products. I highly recommend them! Find anything Philosophy at your local Sephora or sephora.com.

Aloe – After a coworker of mine went through chemo and radiation, she told me that her skin actually burned. I usually have lotion with aloe at work, but didn’t this particular time. Needless to say, this is always a good option to throw in there. Try to purchase 100% aloe vera and while you’re out snag some aloe juice. It’s delicious and wonderful for you! You can purchase aloe at any local hodgepodge store. 

Last, but not least and most importantly…

Yourself! – Think about how you would feel if you were faced with a scary diagnosis. Now magnify it by 100, because you really have no idea unless you’ve been through it. I, for one, would totally loose my sh*t. I would need my friends and family to be there to be positive and occupy my time with really happy things, because thinking about the alternative isn’t an option. Don’t be afraid, offer to go to chemo, play games, compliment your friend on the perfect shape of her bald, beautiful head.

Most importantly, don’t make it about yourself and don’t let it scare you away. People feel awkward about emotions and need to talk things out. Understandable, but don’t talk to your friend about how you need to do a better job remembering your monthly breast exam, about how you need to make a gyno appointment immediately, or tell them about the one time you found what you thought was a lump, but it tuned out to be nothing. That is making their diagnosis about YOU…and let’s face it, we live in a world where we’re all a little too focused on ourselves anyways. I know a few people like this, entirely focused on how things effect them and just generally self-important and really good at making everything about them. It’s all I can do to grin and bare being around them without wanting to scream, so imagine how someone who is battling cancer feels! 

So, turn on the cheesiest music you can find and moonwalk past your friend’s office, start a countdown to their last chemo appointment, hide Hershey kisses in their office/room, anything to make someone’s day a little brighter—and yes, I have done all of these things listed above. Worth the embarrassment of everyone in my office seeing my horrible dance moves? Totally. ❤

Also, if your friend is facing a difficult diagnosis, it is always a great idea to learn more about it. This by no means makes you an expert and you should not be giving advice, but just understanding what someone is up against, no matter how scary, is always a good idea!