How are you guys doin? I don’t know about you, but I’ve been STRESSED. With everything that’s been going on in this world, I feel at least a little bit crazy all the time. I’m even starting to think that the stress from our current political climate is at least partly to blame for my chronic eczema. It’s no fun. But then I have days where I wake up feeling mostly normal and calm, and so I feel guilty for not being a hot mess. Then I have to remind myself that it’s good to let that part of my brain shut down sometimes. You know why? It’s EXHAUSTING to feel this way all the time. I think we need to find that middle ground where we don’t normalize everything and become complacent, but we also don’t go off the deep end. And that’s why I think self-care is more important than ever these days. For me, self-care looks like getting plenty of sleep, sticking to my exercise routine and trying to eat a healthy diet as much as possible. Recently, I’ve had a lot of family members come round. And as there were a lot of kids, we’d start singing family songs, which we would all get involved in. This brought back so many memories. I feel like staying in contact with family and friends counts for self care too. There are times when you do feel alone, so it is always nice when you can interact with the people closest to you. Still on the topic of self care, I also listen to a ton of political podcasts because being informed makes me feel like I have some sense of control. I included a lot of political podcasts on this list, but two new favorites are The Daily (by The New York Times) and Pod Save America.
What do you guys do for self-care? I know everyone’s different and my political podcast habit would make some people go insane. If you’re reading this blog then you’re probably like me and treat food as self-care from time to time. If you turn to comfort food (because I think there’s a place for comfort food AND healthy food when it comes to taking care of yourself), my two most recent recipes are a great place to start. (This brussels sprouts and bacon pasta, plus this double chocolate cake.) My mac and cheese tot dish has also been on my mind lately. So what are your secrets? Let me know how you take care of yourself in times of stress, and I’ll move onto some things I’ve been loving over the winter:
(PS – my illustration for this post is of our dog Gilmour, aka “Gurms.” He’s really cute and awkward. You can find more pictures of him here.)
Glossier – I got Glossier’s Boy Brow and Generation G lipstick for Christmas and I’ve been loving them. The lipstick goes on more like a chapstick (so it’s hard to mess up), and you can just add more coats to make the color more intense. I love it because one coat gives me the subtle color I prefer, and it’s easy to reapply in the car or bathroom while you’re on the go. (I have it in “Crush.”) The boy brow is amazing – it’s kind of like mascara for your brows. It thickens and darkens them ever so slightly while also holding them in place for the day. It gives a very natural look. I’m a fan of a strong brow, so this is a new everyday favorite for me.
Hormone Horoscope – Ladies – you know how some days you have tons of energy while other days you just want to nap, even though you got plenty of sleep? Or some days you crave nothing but pizza and nachos and feel like you could eat everything in sight, while other days you don’t have much of an appetite at all? We have nights where we want to hang out with every person we know, and others where we just want to lay on the sofa and watch TV. And of course we all have those days where the slightest annoyance could send us into a nuclear meltdown. Well it’s all due to our hormones because they literally go on a rollercoaster ride over the course of a month. This app gives you a daily “horoscope” based on where you are in your cycle. It tells you what to expect from your mood to your energy level to your spending and eating habits (plus so much more), and why it’s happening based on what your hormones are doing on that particular day. It’s FASCINATING. I love it so much. I splurged ($2) on the pro version after about 3 days of using it. It makes me feel better prepared to handle myself going into my day, and then when I freak out in the afternoon over something stupid I know I’m not actually crazy, my progesterone is just on the way up. (Now when I’m PMSing I like to yell to Robert, “It’s my progesterone!!”) Oh and PS – if you’re interested in this stuff, I would highly recommend the book Woman Code.
Aaptiv – When it’s warm outside, I love to go running. It’s my preferred method for a cardio workout. In the winter I need to get creative because I hate the treadmill. I started using this app for its treadmill, stairmill and elliptical workouts. I had been wanting to try interval workouts on the treadmill (to make it less boring), and this app makes it easy because each “workout” is kind of like a podcast – There’s a coach talking to you over a curated playlist, telling you what to do. I’ve also done a couple outdoor runs with it. It’s a nice way to have someone keep you motivated and on track at the gym, without going to an actual class. They also have cycling and strength training workouts (among others) that I’m interested in trying. It even has meditation! (I tried the beginner class on one particularly stressful evening.)
Golden Milk – As I mentioned, I’ve been dealing with eczema. To attempt to keep it at bay, I started adding more anti-inflammatory foods to my diet. I try to do lemon water every morning, I’ve been putting bee pollen in my smoothies, and I recently started drinking golden milk (aka turmeric lattes) in the evening before bed. I was so worried I would hate it, but it’s actually really good! It’s just a warm, comforting, spiced drink with hints of coconut and vanilla, but it has a punchiness from turmeric and ginger. I’m loving it. I’ve been doing a variation of this recipe.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – I’m not going to explain this book to you because everyone already knows about it. But I finally purchased it, read it, and started going through the process. Reading the whole book from start to finish made me feel very well prepared when I finally started to “tidy” my things. I think she has a lot of great points in it that make you feel quite motivated to discard things and get your life in order. One thing I took away from it that I particularly love (and something I don’t think is talked about enough in regards to her philosophy) is this: Her method isn’t really about throwing things away (which is what I feel like everyone always talks about) – it’s about deciding what to KEEP. The goal is to be surrounded ONLY by things you love and that bring you joy. That’s a big distinction. So far I’ve done my clothing and my books, but I still have a lot left to tackle. This experience so far has been worth it just to learn her folding technique. It’s a revelation!
Healthy Human thermos – I was starting to fall off my morning smoothie wagon there for a bit because I was in a rut. But then I remembered how much better I feel when I start my day that way, so I wanted to jump back in. However, I realized I enjoyed smoothies more when I drank them through a straw. There’s something kind of weird about drinking a smoothie without one. I set out in search of a new thermos that would work with a straw, and I found this one by Healthy Human. I love it soooo much. It comes with a metal straw (which makes me feel so legit), and it’s super easy to clean. (Even the straw! It comes with a straw cleaner and it’s surprisingly easy to get clean.) I actually enjoy cleaning it because the process is so satisfying, and then it makes me happy to know that my thermos is clean and ready to be filled with a new smoothie the next morning. (I’m weird; I know.)
Creamy Orange Date Smoothie – Speaking of being in a smoothie rut, this one helped to get me out of it. It’s by Laura from The First Mess, and it’s unlike any other smoothie I normally drink. And, better yet – it actually keeps me full until lunch without any weird additives. I love to bake a sweet potato on a Sunday and peel some clementines to put in the freezer (I love them because they’re so much easier to peel than regular oranges), and then I’m prepped to make this smoothie throughout the week. It tastes like an orange creamsicle. I love the addition of tahini to it (just a little!) – it’s not an ingredient I normally put in my smoothies. If you’re in a smoothie rut, try this one. It’s my new favorite.
Green Kitchen Smoothies – I picked up this smoothie cookbook and it has also really helped me to get out of my rut. I especially like this one because it’s encouraged me to add some other new ingredients into my smoothie routine, like celery, fennel, avocado, kiwi, etc. It’s beautifully photographed, there’s a nice diagram in the beginning about how to build a perfect smoothie, and they also have recipes for juices and smoothie bowls.
Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides – I love to do smoothies for breakfast, but I need them to have a decent amount of protein or it just doesn’t work for me. Otherwise I’ll be hungry again 15 minutes after I finish it. Part of the reason I got in my rut was because I stuck to vanilla/chocolate/coffee/pb smoothies (which are delicious, don’t get me wrong) since they worked best with my vanilla protein powder. But then I got bored. I felt like I couldn’t branch out to other flavors as much because they wouldn’t fill me up without the added protein. (Although that orange one above is a great option.) This collagen stuff is a perfect fix because it’s unflavored. Now I can make whatever kind of weird fruity and/or green smoothie I want, add a scoop of collagen peptides and it will hold me until lunch. You really can’t taste it. This stuff is a lifesaver, and apparently it’s great for your skin and all that good stuff, too.
#immigrantfoodstories – Some rad food bloggers came together to share stories of immigrants through the lens of food. You can find these stories on The Year in Food, Eat This Poem, Honestly Yum, My Darling Lemon Thyme, Kale and Caramel, Ful-Filled, Floating Kitchen, Brooklyn Supper, Taste Love and Nourish, The Crepes of Wrath, Farmette, Foolproof Living, Fix Feast Flair, Nourished Kitchen, Hello My Dumpling, and Lab Noon.
Afton’s Story – Lindsay and Bjork from Pinch of Yum recently went through the heart-wrenching experience of losing their son because he was born way too soon. I met Lindsay when I attended her workshop last year, and it pains me to see these sweet people go through something so terrible. Lindsay wrote about their experience in a ten-part blog post series titled, “Afton’s Story.” It’s heartbreaking, beautiful, and an amazing portrayal of the power of parenthood, and especially motherhood. Be prepared to cry.
Cook in the Blank – Loving Food52’s new “Mad Libs” style recipe outlines. Fill in different empty spots to throw together basic recipes with what you have on hand. They currently have templates for Multi-Bean Chili, Fried Rice, Grain Bowl, Lentil Soup and Baked Pasta.
RECIPE BUCKET LIST
Lots of comfort food in this list. You can find all of the recipes on my Recipe Bucket List Pinterest board, if you’d like to pin them easily yourself.
• Chipotle Inspired Vegan Burrito Bowl from B. Britnell
• No-Boil Pasta Bake from The Fauxmartha
• Almond Macadamia Nut Milk, 5 Ways from Fix Feast Flair
• Genius Sunflower Seed Risotto from Food52 (via My New Roots)
• Chipotle Cauliflower Rice and Black Bean Enchiladas from Dolly and Oatmeal
• Coffee Shop-Worthy Hazelnut Milk from Faring Well
• Herbed Faux-tisserie Chicken and Potatoes from Bon Appetit
• Vegan Cauliflower Mac ‘n’ Cheeze with Grain-Free Hemp Cauliflower Breadcrumbs from Kale and Caramel
• Cinnamon Toast Breakfast Quinoa from Cookie and Kate
• Homemade Cereal (Chocolate Rice Krispie Clumps with Malted Milk Pecans) from Appeasing a Food Geek
• Sheet Pan Chicken and Brussels Sprouts with Reduced Balsamic from Food52
• Chickpea Taco Bowls from Food52
• Bittersweet Chocolate Cookies from The Fauxmartha
• Corn Chowder Pretzel Soup Shooters from Appeasing a Food Geek
• Baked Chicken Parmesan Meatballs with Creamy Polenta from Floating Kitchen
• Slow Cooker French Onion Pot Roast over Creamy Polenta from Bev Cooks
(We made this and it was FANTASTIC. Plus it fed us for four solid days.)
Illustration at top created with Photoshop.
You can find prints of my illustrations (plus other products with my work on them) in my Society6 shop.