Recently, I opened up my Living Well Spending Less planner and realized that we are quickly approaching mid-year. That means that we are closing in on the second half of the time I have to reach my annual goals that I set for myself last January. Gulp.
How are things coming on my goals? Well, let’s start with a few considerations before we really dive in. I’ve been busy. Like flying-by-the-seat-of-my-yoga-pants busy. So really, accomplishing anything at all deserves an enthusiast round of applause and maybe a margarita with salt. But as I look back at the goals I set, most of them are still in process. The wheels are turning. The plans are in the making. The first steps have been taken. But I can’t cross anything off that darn list. Not yet, anyway. And I don’t know about you, but the act of crossing things off my list really sets my soul on fire. continue reading
Are you prepared for Father’s Day this Sunday or are you frantically looking for last-minute ideas that don’t seem so last minute? It might be too late to pull off some of the great ideas I included in the Fierce Father’s Day Gift Guide, but don’t fret. I have a solution. (You can thank me later).
As your resident author friend, I’m obligated to share book ideas on all subjects. (It’s in the universal author contract. Right below the clause that says I can helpfully correct grammar and spelling. Hah!)
Back to sharing books. I read. A lot. Some might say too much. They would be wrong. But I certainly do a big chunk of reading.
So let’s have all the time I spend reading serve a purpose for you, my Fierce Friends. Whether it’s a gift for your husband, son, or your own father or grandfather, books are always the answer.
Books: The Best Father’s Day Gift Idea
Without further ado, a few suggestions for Father’s Day books (aka the best Father’s Day gift idea, in my unbiased opinion):
Now, I’m not going to assume that you’re keeping up with the events in my life, but if you follow me on social media, then you know this week all my darlings and grand-darlings are in town for a visit. All 12 of them.
Which means I’m extremely busy loving on (equally, of course) six wonderful little bundles of joy. Honestly, I was thinking I might take a break from blogging this week as I knew my week would be packed. Somehow though, every time I think I might take a break, part of my brain gets triggered and I end up stuck there until I just sit down and get my thoughts out. The kids are all napping and here I am, excitedly typing out my thoughts on the subject of: buying gifts for men vs. buying gifts for women.
I’ve been reflecting a lot recently on the power of morning routines. When life feels hectic or things feel out of control, this is something I can actually control. If I win at my morning routine, I know I’ve conquered the day. If I conquer the day, I know I’ve conquered the week and am a bit closer to reaching my goals.
Sure, sometimes I am off to catch a plane or choose to sleep in or have an early appointment, but most mornings, I take the time to set my intention for the day. This was harder when I had young children at home, but life’s distractions still pose their challenges. But when I start the day right, there’s nothing I can’t do.
This blog is going to be on the short and sweet side because I’m a little busy today.
I’ve got to finish packing for my upcoming glamping trip with my mom (we’re leaving tomorrow morning), plant my porch pot flowers, answer the backlogged email, finish the laundry, run to the market, and make a batch of Fiesta Miracle Muffins for my husband to share with some of his old high school friends who are coming to visit while I’m away camping this weekend.
Oh, and when I ran into a couple of friends at my quilt guild meeting yesterday, I invited them to come over for dinner tonight. They’ll be here in 5 hours.
That’s right. Even though I knew I had a very busy day ahead of me, I went ahead and invited a couple of friends over on the spur of the moment.
Now, some of you completely get this but a lot of you are saying, “That’s crazy! Why would you suddenly invite people over on such short notice? And for dinner, no less. That just sounds so stressful!”
You have a point. Entertaining can be stressful – for you as well as your guests. But it doesn’t have to be. Not if you keep a few simple principles that will make get togethers a pleasure for you as well as your guests.
Are you ready? Here’s my crash course on Hospitality 101.
My grand darlings, all six of them, are coming to visit next week. My husband and I have worked meticulously on a fun (and very flexible!) itinerary and cannot wait to make some more memories with them. One of the reasons we moved out to Oregon was to lure their families into coming to visit us on a regular basis. It has worked so far! And how could it not? Oregon is such a beautiful place with so many fun things to do.
But what I learned last year, is that a few of these delightful little cubs aren’t very enthusiastic about any cuisine beyond macaroni and cheese or chicken nuggets. I know, I was as shocked as you are now. I’m sure some of you are smiling to yourself, thinking how your grandchildren have eaten braised leeks and roasted Brussel sprouts since they were 6 months old. That’s very impressive. Give their parents a pat on the back. continue reading
A whole bunch of you see the words “training” and “triathlon” and think to yourselves, “this has
nothing to do with me. I’ve never competed for anything in my life.”
But you’re wrong. Everybody finds themselves embroiled in competition at some point – most
frequently with themselves. So, even if you’ve never run unless something was chasing you and
have no plans to do so in the future, there’s something in this post for you. Stick around because
this is important. (You can go look for the Miracle Muffin recipes later. They’re not going
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Memorial Day is so many different things: the unofficial beginning of the summer. A day off work. The end of the school year. The day on the calendar after which your mom decreed you can wear white pants.
However, we all know the Federal Holiday commemorates something more. But through the years, as more and more time passes from those civics classes of our youth, it’s easy to muddle up some of our related holidays. So let’s take a moment for a mini educational opportunity, courtesy of yours truly.
Memorial Day: Last Monday in May. In remembrance of American service members who have died in armed conflicts.
I know what you’re thinking. Granola has a zillion calories.
It’s basically what squirrels eat to fatten up for winter.
So why would I want that when I’m trying to get tankini ready?
My answer is two fold here. Stay with me on this. The following is jam-packed with juicy nuggets of wisdom we need in life.
Why Granola Is Worth It (And Other Life Lessons)
The first reason is because life is too short. It’s too short to miss out on the joy of homemade granola. Life’s too short to cut out delicious food from your diet by drawing a hard line in the sand. It’s too short to let a squirrel’s diet dictate what we eat.
The second reason, equally important, is that everything (well, almost everything) is okay as part of your diet as long as you stick to the serving size. Granola has a smaller serving size than say, green beans. It’s also so flavorful and yummy that you don’t need a lot of it to feel the flavors and textures tap-dancing across your tongue. I find myself pairing it with protein-rich Greek yogurt or covered with fruit and milk for a power-breakfast.
From a nutritional standpoint, the oats are filled with fiber and iron and the nuts and seeds are packed with heart-healthy unsaturated fats (like Omega 3s!) and protein. A lot of granola you buy at the store will be loaded with sugar, so my recipe leans on honey to sweeten it instead of actual sugar. With the oil, it’s still pretty high in calories but I find that if I stick to a small portion, I don’t have too much explaining to do with my Weight Watchers plan.
Embracing the Crunch with Easy Homemade Granola
Granola is one of those things that all of my friends assume I make all the time since I moved to Oregon, the land of the sustainably grown, the Birkenstocks, the Subarus, and all things crunchy.
While I fully embrace the stereotypes of my new home, I truthfully don’t get around to making granola as much as I should. I don’t home brew Kombucha or grow my own food either. I just don’t have time. But on occasion, I’ll summon up the concentration in an afternoon while I’m writing to toast oats and nuts and coconut flakes, the base of my super-charged granola. If you are easily distracted like I am, it’s best to use a loud timer to remind you to toss the oats as they roast. It’s so easy to burn it and I’ve done that more times than I care to share.
But once the base of the granola is roasted, toasted, and aromatic, I’ll add dried fruit (like the dehydrated strawberries I have on hand in my prepared pantry) and other ingredients I keep in my pantry like like chia or cashews or vanilla. Then the pure crunchy magic happens.
My house smells amazing. My neighbors usually reap the benefits over the over-sized batch, and I’m happily snacking away as I get back to work on my book.
So have I talked you into it?
Let’s jump to the good part.
Here’s how to make my super-customizable, use-whatever-you-have-in-your-pantry, easy homemade granola.
4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not the steel cut kind or the instant oats!)
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
2 cups sliced almonds
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup honey (I use local, but just use a good quality here)
1 1/2 cups unsweetened small diced dried apricots
1 1/2 cup dried unsweetened cherries
1 1/2 cup dried unsweetened cranberries
1 cup roasted, unsalted cashews
Other optional goodies: Add dried blueberries or any dried fruit, spices like cinnamon, chia seeds for a little extra omega 3 punch, try maple syrup instead of honey, swap canola for coconut oil, or spike it with a little vanilla or a pinch of sea salt! I’ve also heard its delicious swirled with a 1/4 cup of peanut butter.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, toss together the oats, coconut, and almonds. Whisk the oil and honey in a separate bowl, then pour over the oats, almonds and coconut. Stir until everything is cohesive, like in this picture.
Using two half sheet pans, pour the mixture equally into each. Roast, taking it out to stir occasionally so the bottom doesn’t burn. When it looks beautifully golden brown and the nutty wafts are taking over your kitchen, it’s time to take it out. This takes about an hour for me.
Remove from the oven and cool slightly. It will need to be a little warm to stick to the rest of the goodies you throw its way.
Add the dried fruit and cashews. Now is the time to throw in extra flair like chia seeds or vanilla or sea salt. I usually just throw into freezer bags and promptly send one to a neighbor. This makes a lot!
Serve with milk and fruit or sprinkle atop Greek yogurt for a fierce way to start your day!
I’m always busy. Sitting still has never been my strong suit. You’ve probably picked up on this by now. But this month I’ve crossed the line from busy to crazy.
Right now I’m writing, blogging, training for my next sprint triathlon, gardening, sewing, preparing to host dinner for 10 next weekend, arranging itineraries for three sets of guests within the next four weeks and, of course, doing a lot of spring cleaning.
But it’s a good kind of crazy. I’m excited about how my new book is taking shape and am looking forward to spending time with the visitors who will soon be here. Plus, I’m feeling very good about welcoming people to a bright and shiny, organized home!
The Perils of Going Pre-Packaged
Unfortunately, all this activity hasn’t left much time to organize healthy meals for myself. Over the last couple of weeks, I found myself slipping down the prepackaged and prepared food slope.
You know what I’m talking about, right? When you hop out of bed and hit the ground running, it’s so much easier to pour some cereal into a bowl than take the time to cook a healthy, satisfying breakfast. But not only does that cereal and milk cost seven of my precious Weight Watchers Freestyle Points, it leave me feeling hungry by mid-morning. Next thing I know, I’m in the kitchen, searching for a snack, and grabbing the first thing I can lay my hands on, frequently another bowl of cereal.
If you’re trying to eat healthy, giving in to the convenience of prepared foods is definitely a slippery slope. After a few days of this, my scale showed just how far I’d slipped.
Crazy busy or not, I needed to find a better plan of attack for breakfast. Because not only are convenience foods unhealthy, they make you fat. Nothing convenient about that! continue reading