These are a few of my favorite things

these-are-a-few-of-my-favorite-things-2

It’s almost New Year’s Eve, and for many people that means making resolutions. Studies have shown that by June, the majority of people have given up on their resolutions. Bummer. People love making lists, though. I know I do.

So, instead of a list of things you think you should be changing about yourself, might I interest you in a list of some of the thing that have made my life better and/or easier?  Bonus: no trips to the gym necessary. Double bonus: You might find some things on sale now that the holiday shopping season is over!

1.) Ninja® Professional Blender & Nutri Ninja® Cups. If you’ve been reading my blog or my Facebook page (pssst have you “liked” my page yet?) you know how much I love my green smoothies. This blender makes my life so much easier, and it’s simple enough for my 12 year old to use by herself. It’s not nearly as expensive as some of those fancy blenders/extractors and that’s just fine. I’ve been using it nearly daily since July and it never disappoints.

2.) Clairsonic Mia. I got this several years ago as a birthday gift. I use it twice a day, without fail. I get a lot of compliments on my skin. Maybe it’s the green smoothies. Anyway, I know this handy little face washing device cleans my skin far better than my weak little fingertips can. Love it, wouldn’t think of leaving it behind when I travel.

3.) Mr. Coffee mug warmer. $10, people. It’s a game changer for me. No longer is my morning coffee a game of “wait. too hot. wait. too hot. wait. too hot. SORRY TOO COLD”. Never before has a $10 item brought me so much joy. Ever since I got it for Christmas, I’ve been able to drink my entire mug of coffee from my bed without having to get up to microwave it, which if we’re being honest makes it taste horrible.

4.)  Aaptiv personal training app. You guys, I have a problem with motivating myself to go to the gym. Which is kind of a problem when you’re a wellness writer and nutrition student. I decided to try Aaptiv after reading about it several months ago and I was instantly hooked. They’ve worked out some of the earlier kinks and have added meditation to the mix. You can plug into a personal trainer-led workout on the elliptical, treadmill or bike, as well as be guided through yoga, meditation, and outdoor running routines. I’ve been going to the gym way more, have pushed myself out of my comfort zone every time, and am motivated to keep going back. It’s all audio based, and I love that the trainers interject helpful tips like keeping my shoulders relaxed when I’m running. Not only that, but all the workouts are set to great music you’ll really enjoy listening to. It’s $9.99/month, or if you sign up and pay for a whole year, it is $4.16/month. Totally worth it in my opinion. Read this Midweek Mashup for more on my Aaptiv obsession.

5.) Clean Freak dry shampoo. I have oily hair. And I’m always fiddling with it which makes it even oiler. I’m not one of those “I only wash my hair once a week” kind of gals. If I did that, I would look like Danny Zuko in Grease. So I keep this dry shampoo in my bathroom cabinet and use if for when I don’t have time am too lazy to take a shower but don’t want to scare the people around me. It’s got a really nice clean scent and doesn’t make your hair look like a powdered wig. Plus, it’s a mere $4.79 from Target.

So, there you go. Some of the things I love to use. Keep a look out for more lists in future weeks and months. I love trying new products and services, and I enjoy sharing my enthusiasm.

***I was not compensated for writing about these products. I just truly enjoy them!

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Fall = Pasta (Caprese Style)

 

 

 

Under Pressure

stress sign

I walked out of Super Target today having no idea where I parked my car. The parking lot was jammed when I arrived and I snagged the first spot I could, then promptly forgot where. This has sort of been my M.O. lately. Every December I tell myself I’m going to pare back my expectations, and to some extent I have gotten better. But there are still things to take care of! I have so many to-do lists floating around in my head it’s only natural I forget the details, like where I parked my car.

One thing that I’ve decided not to even care about right now is whether my food is organic.  For the most part I buy much of my meat, dairy, and fruit and vegetables organic. I have a growing girl at home and it’s something that’s important to me. I also care about putting less chemicals into the environment. I like supporting smaller farms. All that stuff. And by the way, I also make zero judgements about how anyone else feeds their families.  We all have different things we care about. We all have different ways we allocate our budgets. December is always a time of spending more on groceries because I am cooking for others, making big batches of cookies and quadrupling soup recipes. It’s expensive! So this weekend while shopping with my daughter I just had this lightbulb moment where I decided to Just. Not. Care. Immediately a huge weight lifted and I felt happier. It’s kind of a small thing, but with big benefits. My budget will thank me and my stress levels will go down. (Note: I realize that being able to choose whether to buy organic or not is a privilege, and there are many people who go through every month wondering if there will be enough food on the table. If you are looking for a good charity to support, please consider making a donation to a local food shelf, or to Feeding America.)

So, what will you give yourself a pass on this month? Will you decide that not everything has to be homemade? Or that you’ll use gift bags instead of wrapping paper? How about that you don’t have to Pinterest the sh&% out of every project? If you need permission to let some things go, you are hereby absolved. Pick one or two (or if you’re an overachiever like me, five or six things) that you used to think were super important but upon reflection just really aren’t. I promise the holidays will still be special, perhaps even more so. Because instead of being cranky and tired and overwhelmed, you might find that you are actually enjoying the company of your family and isn’t that really what this whole thing is about?

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LET’S GET OUT OF HERE!

 

Midweek Mashup

MIDWEEK MASHUP

It’s the most wonderful time of the…

You know how the rest of it goes. Is it truly the best time of the year? For many of us, yes! The beautiful lights, the nostalgic music, the opportunities to spend time with people we love. For many others, not so much. So much stress, so many additional responsibilities, poor eating habits, a few too many extra cocktails, and obligations, obligations, obligations.

Wherever you land on the spectrum of Holiday cheer, one thing is for sure: we all need ways to help manage it all. I like to ramp up my Green Smoothies this time of year. I feel like no matter what else happens on any given day, I’ve at least had lots of veggies and fiber. Sort of like a little insurance policy.

Some years I’m simply too overwhelmed to consider adding intentional exercise to the mix. This year I’m feeling like I really want to get to the gym a couple of times a week in addition to walking my dog and playing platform tennis. I have been using Aaptiv on my iPhone and love it. It’s full of personal trainer-led workouts that can be customized to your level of fitness. Choose from treadmill, outdoor running or walking, yoga, indoor cycling, strength training and even 5k, 10k, half and full marathon programs. All workouts are set to really great music you actually want to listen to.  It’s not cheap. At $75/year it’s a commitment. But I’ve more than gotten my money’s worth since I got the app this summer. (I was not compensated for recommending this app. I just really like it!)

And finally, here is an easy recipe for zesty three bean salad. I made it for a party in October and loved it. It’s the perfect healthy dish to make on a Sunday to eat all week for lunch.

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Headspace

New Recipe! Roasted Salmon with Garlic and Dill

Did you know studies have shown eating fatty fish with high omega 3 content once a week can help protect your brain? It’s true! If you have a family history of Alzheimer’s Disease, have Type II diabetes (which predisposes you to Alzheimer’s) or just want to do something healthy for yourself, I highly recommend eating salmon on a regular basis. Wild caught salmon is best — farmed salmon generally has less omega 3 content and is sometimes fed a diet of corn and soy. Read below for more information on why salmon, garlic, and olive oil are healthy for your body and brain.

 

roasted-salmon-with-garlic-and-dill

 

If you like this recipe, please share it on your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or other social media pages! Please leave a comment too, I love to hear from you!

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Friday Cocktails: The Painkiller

painkiller-cocktail

We went to our friends’ Halloween party recently where they served something called The Painkiller. It’s one of those cocktails that is very very easy to drink a lot of because it tastes like a beach vacation. There’s coconut. There’s rum. There’s pineapple juice. If you close your eyes and sip on the Painkiller, you might just swear you are sitting under a palapa in the tropics. Some might say that it’s too sweet, but I love a sweet cocktail (I love savory cocktails too, it’s all about the mood).

Some might argue that a cocktail called The Painkiller is the perfect antidote to this contentious election season. I’m not advocating that we drink to suppress our feelings (that would be an unhealthy behavior!) but a delicious cocktail with a fun name might just add a little bit of whimsy, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

This cocktail is perfect for a big party because it’s so easy to make a large amount. Luckily we are entering party season, so make a batch of this next time you need a crowdpleaser and prepare for the compliments.

The Painkiller is high in vitamin C thanks to the OJ and the pineapple juice, so maybe it’ll help you ward off those winter germs!

INGREDIENTS FOR ONE COCKTAIL:

2 oz Rum
4 oz Pineapple juice
1 oz Orange juice
1 oz Cream of coconut
Grated nutmeg if desired
Mint
NOTE: If you can’t find cream of coconut, you can substitute with 1 cup heavy whipping cream (35%) plus 1/2 cup coconut cream powder
METHOD:

Add all of the ingredients into a shaker and fill with ice.

Shake vigorously and strain into a hurricane glass or snifter filled with crushed ice.

Garnish with freshly a sprig of mint and grated nutmeg.

(If making a large batch, pour all ingredients into a pitcher and use a spoon to combine)

 

Bottom’s up!

Weekend Cocktails! The Cucumber Sangria

weekend-cocktails

The most astute readers of this blog will notice that this week’s Friday Cocktails feature is actually being posted on a Saturday. Gasp. Occasionally these things happen and I like to think that it keeps everyone on their toes.

But wait, there’s more! My very good friend (and ultra savvy fellow cocktail admirer) Catherine graciously agreed to write a guest post this week. It’s my first guest post! Catherine and I are equally ardent in our appreciation of a well-crafted cocktail. So when she texted me the other day telling me about a delicious new recipe she tried, I asked if she would write about it.  Read on for Catherine’s review of Cucumber Sangria:

I love reading the Cultivate Wellness Friday Cocktails series, and I have thoroughly enjoyed trying most of them.  (In fact, the most recent entry in that series — the Aviation — has changed my cocktail life.  It is a perfect, extraordinarily delicious cocktail.)  That is why, when I made the Cucumber Sangria I’m about to tell you about, I immediately texted Melanie to tell her that I thought it would be perfect for Friday Cocktails.  And I am thrilled to share it as a guest today at Cultivate Wellness.  Thank you for having me!  
This sangria is refreshing and the combination of the cool, fresh, grassy flavor of the cucumber and the sweetness of the honeydew is truly delightful.  The sangria also is not overly boozy, and since we were serving it on a weeknight for my sister’s birthday celebration, this was a perfect mix for us.  I love that the sangria uses seasonal produce, and I happened to have almost all of the ingredients on hand — cucumber and mint from our garden, and melon from our CSA.  I am sure that the sugary ripeness of the melon, which was perfectly in season, contributed to the success of the cocktail.  So, without further ado, here is the recipe for the Cucumber Sangria (click to link to the original recipe, featured in Better Homes & Gardens).
Enjoy your weekend! Cheers!
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MIDWEEK MASHUP

It’s Thursday!  The weekend is almost here!  I wanted to tell you about some blogs and links that I think you would enjoy.  I regularly check into these blogs for great information that I feel makes my life better in some way.  I hope you feel the same!

Word Savvy is written by my super talented writer/teacher/mom friend K.C. who has the most interesting take on so many topics.  From literature to child rearing to her pithy observations on life, I think you’ll just love her.  Make sure to sign up for her weekly-ish email  newsletter, too.  I look forward to reading it each time!

Sally at Real Mom Nutrition takes a very realistic approach to nutrition and wellness.  Her philosophies on nutrition and feeding kids is especially helpful for anyone in the thick of raising little humans.  A Registered Dietitian, her sensibilities really align with mine and I think you’ll love her.

And if you’re looking for some easy dinner recipes for the heat of summer, I think you might appreciate The New York Times collection of simple suppers.  I know I will be referring to this collection of recipes throughout the summer during the hottest of days, when I’d prefer to be spending my time having cocktails with neighbors or laying in the hammock with my daughter instead of in the kitchen.

Here’s to a great rest of your week!  As always, I’d love to hear from you, and don’t forget to share!

Speaking of summer and cocktails, you might also like my post with a refreshing martini recipe using herbs straight out of the garden (or grocery shelf — who am I to judge?).  

Herby Vodka Martini