What do you do for fun? #ummpinterest

3 minute read, Blog, Gentle Living, Healthy Habits

“What do you do like to do for fun?” she asked me.

“Ummm…drink wine with my friends and…Pinterest?” I replied.

Oh man. It was that simple question that got me thinking…what DO I like to do for fun?? Because, seriously? “Pinterest” is an absolutely horrific answer.

But to be honest, I was just so damn tired and burnt out that all I really wanted to do when I got a moment to get bored, was veg out and scroll through my phone.

Yikes.

Since then I’ve identified that I want to spend more time learning photography, because I LOVE it. I also want to spend as much time as possible outside, exploring new places and hiking/walking/meandering. I want to get back into yoga and read interesting books and find hidden gems in the Northeast US (of which, there are MANY). I love hanging out at farms (I’ll say it’s for the kids, but really I just love horses…and cows and sheep and goats haha) and taking in anything that feels rustic and old. US & International adventure travel are on my “goal” list and I want to get more intentional about making some actual plans happen.

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So, what do YOU like to do for fun?

Where does your curiosity lie? What do you find yourself thinking about when you’re supposed to be focusing on other stuff? If there were no restrictions on looking stupid or shirking responsibility, what would you spend your time doing?

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I found out that you kind of owe it to yourself to ask these questions. It makes work, parenting and weekends way more interesting when you’re making plans to do stuff that’s interesting to you. Go figure.

Make life intentional. Try to not just simply survive and scroll.

Trust me. It’s way more fun this way.

Out of Office #PTO

3 minute read, Blog, Gentle Living, Healthy Habits

When was the last time you took a vacation day JUST BECAUSE?

In 10+ years working full-time, I don’t think I had ever done it.

And then I DID…and it was NICE!

As a full-time, working parent, it’s not often that I get even a minute to do something that isn’t required of me. Even the fun stuff requires some level of preparation and accommodation of other people’s needs.

So I tapped out for a day.

I put up my OOO. I went to a yoga class, got a pedicure and wandered around quaint little Northeast towns with my camera, popping into shops and making small talk with the chatty store owners.

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I met a lady who ran an ethical, fair trade, apparel shop and knew the back story of absolutely every item in the place: who had made it, where it came from and why it was special.

I met another lady who owned an absolutely TINY, cramped antique shop. Packed to the gills with things she had sourced from her yearly travels around the world, as well as some really lovely handmade lamps (her craft). She tells me, “all the young guys are wearing cuff links again, so I make sure to grab a ton of those when I find them.”

At one point, I was sitting in a random little coffee shop, steaming cup of tea in front of me and a fresh pressed panini grilled cheese on its way. The building is historic and the original wood floor was scuffed up with the travels of so many feet in so many years.

The furniture was perfectly mismatched and the old, wavy windows looked out onto the river that rushed under a lovely little bridge.

Across the room from me is a group of about 7 old ladies playing scrabble and whooping it up, like they had been meeting here for years and wouldn’t have it any other way.

It was all just so damn…charming.

 

So basically, this is me encouraging everyone who reads this to tap out every once in a while. Intentionally plan out a day that you can just wander around and follow your curiosity. Talk to the other random, delightful people that inhabit this world and take a moment to gently move around.

Step lightly, and without desperately achieving something for a change.

There’s plenty of time for that another day.

 

Yay Food! #MostlyVegetarian

3 minute read, Blog, Food, Gentle Living, Healthy Habits

Umm it’s been a while! And in the spirit of getting SOMETHING published here, I’m totally phoning it in and sharing last week’s menu.

It’s mostly vegetarian and I’m happy to report that my family didn’t even miss the meat. Yes, even my harshest food critics ate every bite (3 year old / 6 year old…)!

Hot tip: Freeze the soup & burritos so you can make at your leisure in a snap.

  1. Sunday: Salmon bowls

    • Salmon:
      • I get the responsibly farmed, Atlantic Salmon at Whole Foods
      • Best marinade ever (literally use this on everything including chicken and beef):
        • Mix about 1/4 cup soy sauce with 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 TBSP Miso, 1 TBSP Dijon Mustard and 1 TBSP Oil (Sesame or Olive)
      • Soak non-frozen salmon in marinade for at least 30 mins (the longer the better)
      • Pan sear in Butter + Olive Oil – 5 mins each side on med/high, start with skin side UP – remove the skin after cooking / before serving
    • Steamed Broccoli
    • Rice Pilaf – Make it from a box
    • Put all in a bowl, start with rice on bottom
  2. Monday: Vegan mashed potato bowls

  3. Tuesday: Spaghetti with zucchini and yellow squash and arugula

  4. Wednesday: Black bean butternut squash soup

    • https://healthiersteps.com/recipe/black-bean-butternut-squash-stew/
    • Meal prepped, froze everything except liquids & Greens in a gallon bag
    • Dump frozen stuff into a pot with liquids and simmer for like an hour OR drop it in the crock pot while you’re at work
    • Use a whisk or a quick hit with an immersion blender after it’s cooked to break up some of the chunks
    • Made store bought biscuits the day of for a side
  5. Thursday: Vegetarian Burritos

    • Cilantro Lime Rice – Literally rice + cilantro + lime juice
    • Shredded cheese
    • Chopped veggies (bell peppers, onions)
    • Refried Black Beans (1 Can)
    • Frozen corn
    • Cumin
    • Chili powder
    • Garlic powder
    • Salt
    • Pepper
    • Turmeric
    • Mix everything above this line in a bowl – Quantities “to taste”
    • Wrap this mixture in burritos, freeze burritos in a gallon bag (a REUSABLE gallon bag for bonus points)
    • Bake covered in a casserole dish from frozen at 375 for like 30-45 mins – Cover in cheese & enchilada sauce if you like 😊
  1. Friday: Homemade cheese Pizza

    • Frozen pizza crusts
    • Jar pizza sauce
    • Shredded cheese
    • Pre-mixed Italian seasoning
    • Assemble and bake at 425 for 10-12 mins until cheese is gooey and golden brown

Hopefully this helps take some of the effort out of figuring out what TF to make for dinner. Wahoo!

Let’s Get Wild #rewilding

3 minute read, Blog, Gentle Living, Nature

I listen to a lot of podcasts, including a lot of TedTalks. Amazing stuff.

When it comes to saving the world, there are so many talks from unbelievably smart people. They all break down complex, scientific solutions to the climate crisis into a 10-15 minute talk that my unscientific self can (kinda) understand. It’s all very mind-blowing and very hopeful.

Everything from increasing the reflectiveness of clouds, to creating large scale seaweed farms to draw down carbon. Brilliant minds are furiously coming up with solutions to reverse the damage we’ve inflicted upon the environment.

Then I heard an interesting approach called “Rewilding.” (Also called “Conservation Biology.”)

This idea really caught my attention because it felt like a natural fit with this whole “gentle living” approach.

So…what is Rewilding?

According to rewildingeurope.com, “Rewilding is a progressive approach to conservation. It’s about letting nature take care of itself, enabling natural processes to shape land and sea, repair damaged ecosystems and restore degraded landscapes. Through rewilding, wildlife’s natural rhythms create wilder, more biodiverse habitats.”

In other words, nature has extraordinary capacity to heal itself, we just need to get out of the way and help her get back to the business of thriving.

Cool. Cool. But what does that have to do with me?

Well, I think there are a few things we can do to rewild our tiny little worlds, that will spill over to the greater cause.

  1. Vote with your wallet: Support brands and companies that have sustainable and ethical practices. Buy things that don’t require the relentless degradation of people and habitats. Local. Organic. Sustainable. Ethical.
  2. Check out conservation efforts happening around you. Here are a few places to start:
  3. Cultivate appreciation for nature. Go outside. Hike. Sit by the ocean. A lake. A mountain. A forest. Don’t underestimate the power of shifting your personal, internal energy. It flows outwards from there.
  4. If you have kids, take them outside. Point out interesting things. Embed an appreciation for nature early and it will stick with them throughout their lives. Catch frogs. Examine butterflies and mushrooms and spiderwebs.

If anything, we could all afford to get a little more wild. Party on, dudes.

LINK: Rewilding Europe

Golden Hour #notjustforphotography

Blog, Gentle Living

As a photographer, I’m slightly obsessed with light. There’s a term called the “golden hour,” which is the hour or so in the morning just after sunrise and in the evening just before sunset, when the sunlight falls juuuuuust right for magical pictures.

It also happens to be a wonderful, gentle time to just use your eyeballs and soak in the magic of the present moment. Look around. Describe what you see (either in your head or write it down). It’s a sweet little practice in mindfulness and gratitude.

Notice the sounds, the textures, the smells. The tiny little things that strike you as lovely…

I’ll go first.

An ode to the morning golden hour:

I sit here in the morning.

At my little table.

Facing East.

Where the sun makes her daily entrance.

You can the see the shimmer on the horizon first. A sort of matte glow most days.

The birds feel it too, and start a call and response chant to bring forth the day.

As I sit here and write, the sun herself peeks over the horizon and dumps a bucket of golden light through the window. 

It drenches my face, the floor, the curtains.

The light filters through the fresh flowers & the tiny mint plant in front of me. 

The smell of coffee provides the backdrop, and the beams of golden sun bring the steam from my mug into sharp relief. Tiny little tendrils of delicious swirls.

I hear the light little footsteps that mean my oldest baby is awake and tentatively making his way down the hallway, hoping I’m awake to greet him.

I meet him halfway and pick him up into a hug, then accompany him to the couch where we sit in silence for a minute; in a sort of half-hug.

“I love you, sweet boy,” I tell him. 

This is the hour before responsibility starts. The hour of stillness, golden light and sweet hugs.

You Don’t Have to Care About the Environment.

3 minute read, Blog, Gentle Living, Healthy Habits

But if you’re a big company, you should care that we do.

Now, I’m not much of a sign carrying activist (which means I’m pretty much in awe of those that are). But I do believe we have a TON of subtle power as consumers to shift the industries that are doing the most damage to the environment by voting with our dollars every chance we get.

Because the truth is, you, as a single person or household can recycle and compost and turn off the lights and take shorter showers until you’re blue in the face, but until the industries change, the actual, environmental impact we can have individually is minimal. But don’t despair!

Something like 100 companies account for 70% of the carbon crisis we face today, and they’re just not going to change until there’s a profit-driven reason to do so.

Here’s where we come in. We can create a better world simply by taking our cash away from the ones who are destroying it.

A really good example of this is the fact that by shifting our CONSUMER focus away from plastic straws, an entire silicone / stainless steel straw market was created. Like, what??

So yes, avoiding plastic straws keeps them out of landfills and sea turtles won’t eat them, but the BIGGER impact is when entire companies say “Ok, fine, we feel you, here’s a product for that. We’ll be better.”

The same goes for food.

Buying local and organic isn’t just better for you, it sends a message to the industry that THIS is where the dollars are. You can already see the effects of this with the explosion of natural / organic products available. It’s no longer fringe because we, the consumers shifted it.

The meat industry is massively disgusting and destructive, but it’s hard for me to imagine going completely vegetarian #becausebacon…so instead, what if we all agreed to support local, sustainable farms?

The meat & eggs at my local farmer’s market are organic, grass-fed and part of a small scale operation. You can ask the people at the booth about their farm(s). It tastes better, it’s healthier and by buying it, I’m not supporting practices that give me nightmares.

So put your money where your activism is. Buy things from artisans on Etsy, local farms, organic and plastic-free where possible. It’s better for you and industries will take notice and adjust accordingly. Don’t drive yourself crazy being extreme about it. Just make some swaps.

Cruel, destructive industries? Not on my dime.

I think this will help #gentleliving

3 minute read, Blog, Gentle Living, Healthy Habits, Nature

I’ve made a resolution. To post a blog once a week until December 31st just to see if I can do it. That’s 18 posts between now and then, which feels like kind of a lot, but I’m going to let go of judging the subjects / writing and just put it out there.

In this inaugural post, I wanted to share something I’ve been kicking around: This idea of  prioritizing living as gently as possible.

The idea of “gentle living” is really about finding ways to minimize the habits & actions that wreak havoc on ourselves, others, and the planet.

In an effort to come up with 18 more posts, here is a non-exhaustive list of things that fall under this ideology that you may see posted in the coming weeks:

  • Making an effort to live sustainably
    • Buying local and seasonally.
    • Eliminating as much plastic from your life as possible (including using reusable bags when shopping).
    • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Upcycle.
  • Adopting simple rules for healthy living
    • Make an effort to move everyday.
    • Eat simple, real, organic food.
    • Connect to nature, go outside, breathe fresh air.
    • Ayurveda.
  • Give yourself and other people a break…aka empathy
    • Nobody’s harder on themselves than…themselves. Be gentle with yourself. You’re human.
    • Everybody’s fighting their own demons. If they’re pissing you off, there’s really no need to destroy them…address it directly, do some self reflecting or just ignore it.
    • Perfect doesn’t exist.
    • Travel and open your mind.
  • Gratitude for the simple, little moments and things.

Those are just some ideas that came from kicking the tires on this gentle living thing. It’s all stuff I try to foster in my own life, and I thought maybe you’d like in on it too.

All this isn’t to say that there’s no room for hustle & grind. There absolutely is. It’s just more about balance. We (I) feel inclined to push constantly, and it seems like it’s harder to accept the natural cycle of ebb and flow in today’s culture. All flow, no ebb, amiright?

As the world becomes more insane by the day, it seems like a bit of ebb is in order. I really do think this will help.