Lifestyle

Let’s End Hunger Together

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Posted on Dec 3, 2014 in Lifestyle

chard garden


I’ve led a charmed life. Never once, have I wondered where my next meal would come from. Having those kinds of blessings can sometimes make it hard to remember that not everyone has the same privilege. Daily, I purposely try to turn my focus to compassion and empathy. It’s not always easy to be empathetic to the person who cuts me off while I’m running late for an appointment, but if I can remember in those moments that everyone I meet is fighting their own battle, I’m being the person I want to be for myself, my family, and my friends. And, most importantly, being the kind of example I want to be for my daughter.Raising a kind, compassionate, sympathetic person is my greatest goal in parenting. I know it’s cliche to say that “children are our future,” but cliche or not, it’s a fact. They, quite literally, are the future of our country and our world. There will be a time when you and I aren’t around, and our kids (and their kids) will be leading this world. And how they will lead will be informed by how we raise them.

Every day, I wake up and look over at my beautiful kid (co-sleeping, for the win), and intentionally remind myself that she could change the world. And everything I do and say is helping to shape the person she’s going to be. Yeah, that’s a lot of pressure, but it’s the good kind of pressure. It’s motivation to be the best person I can be, because I am, quite possibly, molding a future president or humanitarian or philanthropist through my own words and actions. And by doing that, maybe I’ll get to change the world indirectly.

I believe words mean something. I believe in empathic, gentle speech. I believe in the power of praise and vocal pride. I believe that the words I use as a parent are vitally important. But even more important than what I say, I feel like my actions will speak the loudest. For better or worse, my daughter will model herself based on the way I conduct myself. I want her to grow up in a home that gives generously with time, skills, money, and heart. I want her to be grateful for her blessings and aware of other’s troubles. I want to be the change I wish to see in her future world.

One of the causes closest to my heart is helping to end hunger—specifically, helping to provide healthy, fresh food to those in need. I truly believe that just because you are down on your luck, it doesn’t mean you should have to sacrifice eating healthfully. This past summer, we donated nearly 150 pounds of fresh produce to our local food pantry, and satisfying as it was to drop off those boxes of veggies each week, it also left us wanting to do more. My husband and I been talking a lot about how we can make a real dent in the problem of hunger in America, and we landed on a plan. We’re just two people, with limited time and resources, but we’re still hoping we can change some lives in 2015. Here’s how:

1. Donate 10% of all income from Back to Her Roots in 2015 to charities charged with ending hunger.

lunch

I’ve been talking a lot about income and making cash here in the past few months, and I am happy to say that it’s been going remarkably well. The income from the pages of Back to Her Roots has stopped being just a little bit of extra pocket change, and is turning into a (small, but not insignificant) income. I am so grateful for your love and devotion to what I do here, that I’d like to donate 10% of all income from 2015 to hunger-related charities in the name of Back to Her Roots readers. If the rate of income stays steady for 2015 (and I’m hoping it will continue to grow), I’ll be donating upwards of $300 each month to charity.

2. Raise $10,000 for hunger-related charities.

groceries

If you haven’t been around here very long, you might not know this, but back in 2012, you (as in, the readers of Back to Her Roots) and I, raised $5,900 for breast cancer research over a series of months. I walked in the Avon Breast Cancer Walk that year, and through a series of raffles and other fundraising efforts, we were able to make a seriously good chunk of money. It felt amazing! And, I feel like it’s time to harness the power of the Back to Her Roots readers again. My blog is much bigger this time, and it should be no problem for us to raise $10,000 over the course of the year. Get your wallets out. You can help get us started by donating a couple of bucks to the Back to Her Roots virtual food drive through Feeding America!

3. Donate 500 pounds of fresh produce to local food pantries.

Garden Lettuce

We have 5500 square feet of growing space that is ready to produce fresh, healthy food for local families in need. We’re setting a goal of donating 500 pounds of produce grown on our hobby farm to food pantries in our area.

 4. Keep talking about hunger.

Table at Thanksgiving

This is the easiest of the items on this list, and amazingly enough, also the most important. One of the biggest issues with hunger is that it’s a mostly silent issue. When you aren’t hungry, it doesn’t seem like an issue. When you know what you’re having for dinner, it can be easy to forget that there are families out there that have no idea what’s going to be on the table that evening. And when you are hungry, it can be hard to talk about it or reach out for help. We can help kickstart the change by just talking about hunger. Bringing it out into the sunlight.

Did you know that there are 49 million food people in the U.S. that struggle with hunger and 16 million of those are kids (that’s the populations of New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia combined—just the kids)? Or that 37 states report that at least 20% of the children living there live in food insecurity?

Those numbers absolutely shocked me when I first heard them. Now that I know, I’m going to do better. I’m going to keep talking about it. And you should, too (I recommend spending some time with this map to see how prevalent food insecurity is in your region). Talk about it to your kids, to your friends, to your family—make sure everyone at your holiday dinner table knows that there are millions of people who aren’t eating a turkey dinner at all. If you’re looking for a simple way to share the story with your kids, try showing them this video about the changing face of hunger in America from Project Sunlight. It’s a tear-jerker, but worth your time.

I hope you’re ready to make a difference with me in 2015. I know we can’t fix it by ourselves (Indiana alone would require over $435 million dollars to feed all of those people who are food insecure here), but we can be the catalyst for change. And maybe by showing how much we care, the next generation can finally solve the problem.

About SheKnows’ Hatch, the Hatch Hunger Project and Unilever Project Sunlight:

SheKnows’ Hatch teamed with Unilever Project Sunlight to help families build awareness and take action around child hunger in America. The facts are startling: 16 million kids living in the United States don’t know where their next meal is coming from. That equates to one in every five children – enough to fill 18,000 school buses and 223 football stadiums. On average, those who live in food-insecure households have only $36.50 to spend on groceries every week. That means that 80 percent of children may not understand the everyday struggle their peers – many of whom could be their own friends or neighbors – confront when there’s not enough food on the table. The Hatch Hunger and Project Sunlight video and workshop aims to create empathy by showing kids what it means to shop for healthy, filling meals for an entire week on a thrifty budget. It teaches important math and teamwork skills. Finally, it is about action, empowering kids to have a positive impact on their community to Share A Meal with a family in need and donating food and canned goods to local food banks.

 

My Favorite Kitchen Gifts for Healthy Cooks

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Posted on Nov 28, 2014 in Lifestyle

Kitchen Gifts for Healthy CooksHappy Black Friday, everyone! I hope you all had an absolutely spectacular Thanksgiving, and if you chose to brave the stores this morning, I hope you were able to get exactly what you wanted without too much hassle. You couldn’t get me to go Black Friday shopping is they were literally paying you to take TVs, so I’m happily at home this morning enjoying some down time with the family.

Since we are now officially into the holiday shopping season, I figured it was time for me to show off some of my picks for the best gifts for healthy cooks. These are some of my absolute favorite kitchen tools I own, and I can recommend each and every one of them!

Stuff Those Stockings (under $20)

Microplane

Microplane ($14.68)

Every kitchen needs a microplane! It’s the only way to get delicate, flowly shreds of parmesan cheese, or get every last, delicious morsel of zest from the skin of a lemon. I like these bright-colored handled microplanes because they’re easy to pick out of my utensil drawer. 

dishcloths

Scandinavian Dish Cloths ($7.99)

These dish cloths come in adorable patterns, and they are great for cleaning up the kitchen because they’re part cloth and part sponge—making them really great for scrubbing. They also dry flat for easy storage! Skip using paper towels and stock up on these instead. Oh, and did I mention they’re adorable?

goggles

Onion Goggles ($19.95)

You might be thinking that I put these in here as a gag gift, but I so didn’t. We use our onion goggles all the time! They really do help cut back on the tear production while chopping onions. The only issue is they don’t fit over glasses, so you’ll either need to wear them with contacts, or cut blind (not recommended, but I do it).

freaker

Freaker Koozies ($9.99)

These are probably the best stocking stuffer on the entire list. We use our Freakers constantly. They are so much more than just a way to keep your beer cold. They stretch to fit over any size bottle or can (literally, we’ve used them on champagne and wine bottles). I keep one on my one-liter water bottle all the time to help keep it insulated and absorb condensation.

spoons

Appetizer Spoons ($14.99)

I think a set of appetizer spoons is must-have for any kitchen—but definitely a healthy kitchen! They are great for taking small tastes of food while you’re cooking, and also great for taking small tastes when you just want a little bit of a treat (just a tiny spoonful of peanut butter, anyone?).

whisks

Silicone Whisk Set ($10.99)

These are my absolute favorite whisks! I love that I can use them without any worries of scratching my non-stick or enamel cookware. The tines are nice and smooth, so food doesn’t get lodged or stuck in the head of the whisk. And the small one is perfect for whisking a couple of eggs or a small amount of sauce.

measuring

Ceramic Measuring Spoons ($19.99)

I’m not sure ceramic measuring spoons are the most accurate of ways to measure things, but man, they sure are cute! I have a set of these in vegetable form (tomato, eggplant, onion, etc.), and they make me so happy everytime I see them!

sprout

Sprouting Jar ($10.61)

Okay, it might be a struggle to wedge this into a stocking, but it’s a must for every healthy kitchen. If you aren’t making your own sprouts, you are missing such a great opportunity to produce your own super affordable, super healthy veggie in your own kitchen. It is SO easy!

spice-grater

Mini Spice Grater ($13.95)

If you’ve never grated your own fresh nutmeg or cinnamon for holiday treats, you’re really missing out. The flavor is so much more complex and interesting than the stuff you get pre-ground in the jar! I love my mini spice grater. It’s a grater and a shaker, plus you can easily store the whole spices inside.

book

Chia, Quinoa, Kale, Oh My! ($16.71)

Okay, so this isn’t exactly a Christmas gift, because it comes out January 5th, but did you really think I would make a gift guide without plugging a book of mine? You can preorder it now, and deliver it after the holidays to extend the fun!

Feeding America

Donation to Feeding America ($10)

Make this holiday season really about giving, and gift your loved one a donation to Feeding America in their name. For $10, Feeding America can provide 100 meals to people in need. 100 meals!

Spread Holiday Cheer ($20-$50)

immersion

Immersion Blender ($34.57)

I don’t want to work in a kitchen without an immersion blender! It makes pureeing soups and sauces a breeze, and it’s absolutely the best tool for making your own mayo (in my opinion). It’s great for a healthy kitchen because it can help you get that smooth and creamy texture in foods without adding cream or butter.

spinner

Salad Spinner ($29.95)

A good salad spinner is a must for every healthy cook! I recommend getting the largest you can find—that way you can make big ole healthy salads quickly and easily.

cinco

LunchBots Cinco ($31.99)

I’ve sung the praises of this lunch box many times on this blog, and I’m going to do it again. I love my LunchBots Cinco! It’s the perfect size for packing a filling and healthy lunch, and the dividers are a nice way to make sure you’re getting a variety of foods. It isn’t water tight, so I wouldn’t recommend tossing it into your Kindergartener’s backpack, but it’s perfect for an adult who packs not-so-wet foods.

paddle

Scraper Beater for KitchenAid Mixers ($23.99)

This one is a little cart before the horse (I list the mixer itself below in my $50+ category), but if your gift recipient already has a KitchenAid, this scraper beater is a must buy! As amazing as KitchenAid stand mixers are, the beaters that come with them don’t do a great job of getting all the bits around the bowl, meaning you have to stop and scrape frequently. Not with this beater!

skillet

12″ Cast Iron Skillet ($33.31)

If I could only pick two kitchen items to take with me out into the wilderness, it would be a really good knife and this skillet. It’s perfect for cooking everything! It also adds iron to all the food that you cook into it, which is great for those folks (like me) who struggle with chronic anemia.

spoons

Hand-Burned Cooking Spoons ($30)

These handmade bamboo spoons from my dear friend Melissa (from Bless this Mess), are a sweet and adorable gift for any cook. Every healthy kitchen absolutely needs a great set of wooden utensils! And Melissa is offering BTHR readers a discount of 15% off through December 6th by using the coupon code “roots15″.

beer

Craft Brew Beer Glass Set ($24.95)

This is a must have for any beer fan. Did you know that by drinking beer out of the bottle, you’re only getting approximately 20% of the possible flavor? Pour those beers, kids! And you need the right glass for each brew. This set doesn’t have all the beer styles (it’s missing a good IPA glass), but it’s a great start.

poach

Egg Poaching Pan ($25.61)

I get asked all the time how I make perfect poached eggs. Easy—my egg poaching pan! I tend to hate kitchen unitaskers, but my egg poaching pan is one place where I’ll make an exception. I use it constantly! We’re due for an upgrade (the one we have is an old aluminum one I inherited from my grandparents), and I want to upgrade to this six-egg version.

kanteen

Klean Kanteen 40 Ounce Bottle ($22.74)

A healthy cook is a well-hydrated cook. You absolutely cannot go wrong with Klean Kanteens! I have a 40 ounce pink Klean Kanteen that I absolutely love. I try to drink at least three of them a day.

ricecooker

Rice Cooker ($26.67)

I know there are a lot more expensive rice cookers on the market with more bells and whistles, but I love the simplicity (and price) of my rice cooker. I use it all the time! The 8-cup version will make enough rice for most family meals, but I really like the 20-cup version because it is also a small slow-cooker, perfect for 3-4 people!

Feeding America

Donation to Feeding America ($25)

Need a gift for someone who has everything? A $25 donation to Feeding America in their name is a thoughtful, kind gift that won’t clutter up their closet. Feeding America serves 45.6 million people each year through their network of food pantries and soup kitchens. Your $25 will buy 250 meals!

Splurge A Little ($50 and up)

keurig

Mini Keurig Coffee Maker ($91.95)

There are some mixed reviews on these mini Keurigs, but let me tell you, we LOVE ours. We’re not big coffee or tea drinkers, and this machine is perfect for the amount we drink. I love that it doesn’t take up much counter space and comes in adorable colors. It’d be perfect for an office, too!

ninja

Ninja Ultima Blender ($199.99)

There are a lot of expensive high-powered blenders on the market (some that cost 3-4 times what this one costs), but I love my Ninja! It blends wonderfully and can handle pretty much anything I put in it. It is mega loud, which is a bit of an issue with a baby in the house, but definitely not a deal breaker.

dankso

Danskos Professional Clogs ($124.95)

Shoes? On a kitchen gift guide? I know, but bear with me. If the cook your buying for does marathon cooking sessions like I do, then they absolutely need a pair of Danskos. There’s a reason that Danskos are the only shoe you see on nurses, doctors, and chefs—they are great for when you’re on your feet an extended period of time.

kitchenaid

KitchenAid Stand Mixer ($279.99)

It wouldn’t be a kitchen guide without a KitchenAid stand mixer on the list! I got my cherry apple red stand mixer as a gift from my parents for m 21st birthday, and I still use it almost daily 10 years later. It’s pricey, but a must for every kitchen!

thermapen

ThermaPen Thermometer ($96.00)

I know. Almost $100 for a thermometer, but if you’re anything like me, you’ve gone through a half dozen of $15-$20 thermometers that never really worked well. A ThermaPen would be an awesome gift for any serious cook. I absolutely love my ThermaPen!

dutch-oven

Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven ($64.99)

There are a lot of cast iron Dutch ovens out there (including the much lusted after, and mega expensive Le Creuset), but if you aren’t ready to drop a ton of money on one yet, these beautiful versions from Lodge are a great place to start. And they come in six colors so you can customize your gift for your loved one.

ipad

iPad Mini ($242.99)

I would be lost in my kitchen without my iPad Mini! All my cookbooks have been packed away, and instead, I access all my recipes, food blogs, and food magazines on my iPad. Of course, an iPad would be a great gift for just about anyone—foodie or not.

Feeding America

Donation to Feeding America ($75)

If you’re feeling extra generous this year, a $75 donation to Feeding America is a great way to show someone you love them. Last year, Feeding America handed out 3 billion (with a ‘B’) meals to those in need in this country. Your $75 would pay for 750 meals!

What gifts would you add to the list? Are there any kitchen gifts that you’re hoping will be under the tree this year?

Coffee Date

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Posted on Oct 27, 2014 in Lifestyle

Flower, Coffee, Trees

If you and I were to sit down for coffee this morning, I’d start off by asking you how you are doing. I was such a bad listener last time. And I promised I’d be a much better friend this time.

So, how are you doing?

Good? Good! You’re so nice, you’d probably say something like, “You look great!” because that’s the kind of thing everyone says to a new mom—regardless of if it’s true or not. I’d thank you, and tell you that I’m starting to feel much more like myself. I’m still not finding a lot of time to workout, but I do try to walk every single day. And I’m trying to fuel my body with healthy food and drink lots of water. I’m slowly dropping weight (did I tell you I lost ten pounds in the past two months?), but I’m not so worried about that. I’m mostly just happy that I’m starting to feel like myself again!

Me

I’d tell you that you look great, too (and I’m not just saying that, you’re totally gorgeous), and you’d tell me about the new fitness class you’re going to. And then you’d invite me to go with you, and I’d be all over that. We’d make a sweat date for next week.

You’d, of course, ask about the baby girl—because she’s pretty much the most amazing thing on the planet and everyone is curious about her goingson. I’d tell you that she just turned four months old, and her personality is showing like crazy. She laughs out loud, blows raspberries, and screams (not cries…screams) with a fiery passion when she doesn’t like something. She’s a whopping 17 pounds and wearing 6-9 month clothes pretty exclusively. She’s also working hard on her two bottom front teeth.

Juni

Since you’re a totally confident parent, you’d probably give me some of your tried-and-true teething remedies. I’d be really thankful for the advice, but then sheepishly admit that teething hasn’t really been that bad for her so far. She’s had a few screamfests where she seems like she’s struggling—and those sucked—but overall, she’s still the super happy, smiling baby she normally is (except with two white-caps in that smile). I’d tell you that we have so much fun everyday with our little June Bug. I had a lot of preconceived notions about motherhood, but I had no idea it would be this much fun.

Then I’d knock on every piece of wood in the coffee shop.

I’d, of course, ask about your family. You’d tell me all about the way cool vacation you got back from. And then you’d give me the most perfect gift you picked up for me at a quirky little shop you found off-the-beaten path on your trip—because you’re thoughtful and sweet and pretty much the coolest person I know. I’d then take the opportunity to pull out a plain kraft paper bag for you and give you a few jars full of canned food from my stash (probably some spiced peaches, bread and butter pickles, and pickled watermelon rind). I hope you like them. I know the pickled watermelon rind sounds weird, but it’s really, crazy good.

I’d then confess that I’ve missed canning so much this season. I didn’t have the mental capacity this year to take on the kind of canning undertaking I like to do each year, but I have socked away a few things. I’m excited to get back to “normal” with food preserving next season. I already am starting garden plans (of course). I’d then ask you if there were any canned goods you’d want next year. I’m always taking requests!

Canning

On a not-so-positive note, I’d then rage spiral into complaining about all the things that have broken in our house in the past month. I’d tell you that it started with our washing machine crapping out (pun intended) in the middle of a load of diapers. Followed the next day by our bathroom fan stopping working. And then a few days later by an outdoor water leak (which required an emergency call to a plumber and a whole lot of digging). And now, finally, last week, we found out our chimney needs four-figures worth of repairs.

Since you’re so wise, you’d tell me that things like this happen in cycles and that we’re bound to be near the end of this one. You’d then offer to let me do a load of laundry at your house. I’d thank you, and then tell you it isn’t necessary because we sprung for a new fancy pants machine a few weeks ago, and it’s the bomb dot com. It even has it’s own iPhone app that it can “talk” to. Considering our washing machine that bit the dust was purchased by my grandparents when I was 11 years old—our new model is definitely an upgrade.

Repairs

I’d tell you that even though I’m raging about all the stuff breaking in our house, it’s actually okay, because the universe gifted me a nicely-sized refund check from my labor (yes, I got a refund for childbirth—go figure) on the same day the washing machine broke. I had about 10 minutes of fantasizing on how I’d spend that surprise money on fun things before Craig told me the washing machine was broken. Life, right?

Then I’d realize how silly it was that I was so upset about life’s minor inconveniences—especially ones that we can afford to fix. I’d quickly change the subject and ask you if you’ve seen any good movies lately.

Speaking of movies, I’d tell you all about our new Friday night ritual. We bring my laptop into the nursery on Friday evenings, and while baby girl nurses to sleep, Craig and I watch a movie. We usually stick to kids movies, because even though logically, I get that June Bug is too young to understand what is going on (and we wear headphones and she’s sleeping), she’s a good excuse to watch all the fun Disney and Pixar movies we’ve missed over the past few years.

wine

I’d move on to asking you about work. You’d probably complain about your boss (I’m sorry you’re stuck with such a jerk!), and I’d listen compassionately while you ranted, while secretly being so thankful that I don’t have to deal with office politics anymore. You ask me how being my own boss is going, and I’d admit that it is about 1000% more stressful than my office gig was, but it’s a healthy stress—if that makes any sense. I’d tell you that I can’t imagine ever going back to an office—I really thrive being able to wear all my different hats. I love that when people ask me what I do, my response is filled with slashes. Graphic designer slash food writer slash recipe developer slash photographer slash awesomeographer.

I’d tell you I’m so proud of my work to make my blog better. I had no idea it would go as well as it has been going. I feel really proud that I’ve been able to turn it into a a successful business without selling my soul. I am having so much fun with my blog again!

blog

Speaking of work, I’d then tell you that I really need to do a better job of figuring out some kind of work-life balance. I’d ask for your advice on how to draw the line. I’d tell you that I desperately want to be an engaged and attentive parent, but I’m afraid that my work life might be detrimental to that. I think it’s good to show my daughter the importance of a strong work ethic, but I also think it’s important to model balance to her.

You’d laugh at me and say, “Welcome to the Mommy Guilt Club. Here’s your membership card.”

Work

Because I can’t go more than 10 minutes without thinking about food, I’d ask you if you wanted to split one of those really decadent chocolate chip scones they have up at the counter. Then I’d remember they probably have dairy or soy in them, but since this isn’t reality, let’s just pretend I can eat dairy and soy in this realm. Let’s split a scone.

Speaking of food, I’d of course ask you if you’ve tried any good recipes lately. You’d tell me all about this super cool cookbook you found, and I’d, of course, ask to borrow it. Then you’d ask me what I was noshing lately, and I’d tell you that I’m trying really, really hard to kick my sugar habit. And try to replace all those sugary foods with some nourishing yummies. I’ve been eating a lot of salads, green smoothies, and anything with protein.

Food

I’d then laugh at the irony of me downing a sugar-filled scone while I tell you all about how I’m trying to cut back on sugar. Hey, at least we’re splitting it, right?

When we both have finished the last remaining crumbs of our scone (it was so good!), I’d reluctantly tell you that I have to get going. I’m having a blast, but I miss my baby girl, and I’m sure she’s getting hungry. Maybe next time I’ll bring her along with me. It’s been so nice catching up with you! Give your family a hug for me. Until next time…

What I Learned from 24 Hours Without the Internet

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Posted on Sep 29, 2014 in Lifestyle

One of my goals for my 31st year on this planet was to stop worrying so much about documenting life, and instead spend more time actually living it. I struggle with (and I think a lot of us do) needing to feel validation through technology. I sometimes feel like if I don’t Instagram a picture of it or have an app to track it or write a blog post about it—the event didn’t matter. I’m (obviously) not one of those anti-technology people. I met my husband online. I’ve met some of my best friends through blogging. My career is entirely online. I get the value of the internet! My issue is that sometimes, it can feel like the digital world is where my life is happening, instead of in, you know, the real world.

I’ve been slowly trying to step back from my life revolving around the internet completely. I try to be 100% present when I’m with my daughter—instead of mindlessly having a hand on her while I check Twitter on my phone. I’m trying to share less and less personal details online—but still connect with my friends. I want to be technology savvy, but I want to use it help me live a better life—I don’t want technology to be my life.

I was curious just how much of my day is spent revolving around the internet and social media. I knew it was a lot, but I don’t think I could really grasp just how it permeated every aspect of my day until I went cold turkey. So I decided to cut out all internet-y things for 24 hours last week. No social media. No email. No blogging. No checking sports scores. No checking the weather. And I learned so much about myself and my behaviors!

1. I mindlessly check into social media.

Facebook on iPad

I knew this was the case, but I don’t think I realized how pervasive the act was until I wasn’t able to do it. I mindlessly check my phone for social media updates constantly! As in, I’ll just grab my phone to transfer it from the table to my purse, and during the five second walk from the table—I’ll quickly log in to check Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. I’m honestly not even sure I’m digesting the updates I do read. It’s just pure habit! Whenever I have a free moment during the day, my default reaction is to pick up my phone and check what is going on out in the world. I even quickly flip over to TweetDeck on my computer while a website is loading on my browser! Why do I feel the need to do this? Is it really the end of the world if I miss a tweet or update?

What I’ll change: I’ve started to be intentional with my social media time. It is important for me to stay connected because of my job, but that doesn’t mean I need to be constantly connected.

2. I felt disconnected.

trees woods stock

Even though I knew a lot of my friends live in my computer (no shame), I was surprised by how disconnected I felt from my circle by going off of social media. I really draw no distinction between my “online” friends and my “real life” friends, so a day without them felt like I was cutting myself off from the world. I felt lonely!

What I’ll change: Nothing! I think connecting with friends is one of the best things about the internet. My life would be loads different if I never used the internet to meet new people (as in, I wouldn’t have met my husband and had my beautiful daughter).

3. I remembered the ways of the past.

Newspaper

Whenever I encountered something during the day that I would usually do online (say, check the weather), I had to try and remember how people would do it pre-internet. I’m probably the last generation that has a recollection of life pre-internet (we got our first internet-connected computer when I was in fourth grade), and so I have some frame of reference for time before the land of cat videos took over. Remember the time and weather phone line? You’d call and a recording would tell you the time and temperature? And remember when people would check the newspaper or wait for the local news broadcast to hear the weather?

What I’ll change: Nothing here, either. Technology has made these everyday tasks so much easier and faster than they used to be. Although, I have to admit, I do miss the days where you could accidentally get caught in a warm summer downpour because you didn’t have the ability to check the radar every second of every day.

4. I feel validated by numbers.

Pacer on iPhone

I went for a walk at the park during my 24 hours without the internet. I walked for about 45 minutes. I didn’t use a device to track my steps or my mileage or my calories burned. Or even my time—I just glanced at my watch at the beginning and the end—how unscientific! By the end of my walk, not having any numbers somehow made my walk feel less important. Was that walk any less of a workout than the 45 minute walk I did the day before with tracking? Nope. But it definitely felt like it was. I realized that numbers give me validation and motivation when it comes to health and fitness.

What I’ll change: I’m trying to milk this fact for all it’s worth and really let myself get “into” the numbers and be competitive with myself to help me reach my health and fitness goals. I’ve also been trying to do at least one gentle walk each day where I leave my phone at home and just enjoy the pure, untracked joy of a simple walk.

5. I was lost on some tasks.

Computer on Desk

There were some run-of-the-mill tasks during my day that I had no idea how to tackle without the help of the internet. I had to refill a prescription on that day. Usually, I just go online, push a few buttons, and it’s ready for me to pick up in an hour. But I had no idea how to refill it without the internet. I assumed you could probably call the pharmacy and get it done, but it’s not something I’ve ever done before! I’ve always done prescription stuff online. It’s interesting how some tasks in our lives become so connected to the internet, that it’s hard to imagine another way to accomplish them.

What I’ll change: Nothing here, really. It’s more of an observation. I have to admit, it does make me a little nervous that we have an entire generation (or two, really) who would be completely lost in life if the internet suddenly stopped existing.

6. I’m more connected to reality without technology.

flowers stock

I may have felt more disconnected from my friends online during my day without technology, but I was definitely more connected with my reality. Because the internet is always on, it means I can always be on, too. I can always be working. I can always be talking to someone. I can always be researching something. And because of that, I always feel like I’m rushing to the next thing. I have to get back from this walk so I can work on this thing. I have to hurry through my shower so I can answer emails. I have to hurry up and get to bed so I can hurry up and wake up and write a blog post. With the internet out of the equation, there was nothing to focus on except the here and now. I had nothing to “get to” so I could just spend some extra time snuggling with my daughter, looking at beautiful flowers, and petting my dog.

What I’ll change: I’ve decided to take internet breaks more often. The reconnection to reality was a really positive side effect of my day without internet, and it’s something I’d like to continue. I’d like to make a conscious effort to really stop living for/around/in the internet for a few days each week. It doesn’t mean I won’t check the weather if I need to, but it does mean that I might try and forget that I have this super powerful device in my pocket a few days a week.

I’m really amazed at how much I learned by just taking one single day off from the internet! If you’ve never tried going on a social media cleanse, I highly recommend picking a day and leaving your phone at home (or, at least, just use it for emergency calls). It was incredibly refreshing!

Learning to Take Care of Myself

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Posted on Sep 23, 2014 in Lifestyle

Before I had a baby, I promised myself I wouldn’t become one of those everything-is-about-my-kid parents. I wouldn’t revolve my whole life around my child. I would love her. I would be there for her. I would spend tons of quality time with her. But I would also make sure to take care of myself so I stayed healthy, happy, and, well, me. I believe that in order to teach healthy behaviors to my baby girl, I have to model them for her. And I think one of the healthiest behaviors (that I’ve yet to master personally) is taking care of yourself.

Of course, now that I’m a Mama, I realize that finding time to care for yourself is much easier said than done. It’s damn hard to figure out how to put yourself on your own priority list. When you have a free half hour and the laundry needs to be done, you have 10 emails to answer, and the kitchen floor needs swept, those items all feel so much more important than going to gym or relaxing in a bubble bath. But what I’m trying to teach myself (and eventually, pass on to my daughter) is that those items aren’t more important than self-care. If anything, they’re less important because if you don’t take care of yourself, eventually it catches up to you and everything else comes crashing down. It isn’t selfish to take care of yourself. And there are no medals for being a Mommy martyr (which, worth noting, I think this is a problem that extends way beyond motherhood—I think everyone, parent or not, struggles with this, I just don’t know of a better phrase to label it).

I’ve been working on giving myself higher priority in my life for years. In certain aspects, I’ve succeeded. But, for the most part, I still really struggle with showing myself compassion and appreciation. I consider myself a compassionate person who is deeply grateful to lead such a fortunate life, but I still struggle with seeing myself through the same positive lens that I view the rest of the world. I’m working on it. And now that I have a tiny human that I’m molding, I want to work even harder. For better or worse, I will be her main model for how she treats herself in the future—and I want her to be a compassionate person. I want her to have compassion for others and for herself. And I’m the person she’s going to learn it from. How’s that for motivation to get my act together? The irony of this is that having a child has become my main motivation to make my life about more than just having a child. Oh universe, you work in funny ways.

Lately, I’ve been working on this by taking baby steps (pun intended) daily. I’m not reformed enough to book a long weekend at a spa, but I am seeing my own value enough to slowly implement self-care into my everyday. I thought I might share some of the ways I’ve been taking care of myself lately. They aren’t major, but they are important.

Eating dinner with my family

dinner quiche salad

I’m a pretty skilled multitasker, which also means that I struggle when I am just doing one thing at a time. This really applies to mealtimes. I’ve always struggled with just eating. I always feel like I need to eat and answer emails. Or eat and watch TV. Or eat and read a book. But lately I’ve been trying to eat most meals—especially dinner—and just focus on eating and conversing with my family. Not only is it a nice, relaxing break in the day, but it is also a lot healthier from a nutrition stand-point—I can focus on being aware of my food and my hunger instead of mindlessly overeating.

Taking a walk everyday

me feet flip flops

I’m not quite to the point where I can devote the kind of time to doing a long gym session or going to a fitness class everyday, but I can take a walk. Somedays, I’m lucky if I can get 10 minutes in, but even just that few minutes outside makes me feel so refreshed. I leave my phone in the house, and I just walk around and take in this beautiful place I live.

Two days off a week

Me and JuneBug Walk

Taking full days off from work is one of the hardest things for me to do, but it’s also one of the most restorative. I’ve started taking Wednesdays and Saturdays and signing off of work all day. I don’t answer emails. I try not to check into social media. I definitely don’t do any design work or writing. I just spend those two days enjoying life! Wednesday is my day with the baby girl (while Craig does school work), and we’ve taken to spending that day going to park, hanging out at the library, and playing for hours and hours. It is such a fun way to spend the day! And on Saturdays, we have family day where we go on hikes, go visit fun local towns, and soak up our time together.

Treating myself to a fancy coffee

Dunkin Donuts Coffee

Since I had to give up dairy and soy because of nursing, I’ve found myself really missing the ritual of stopping off at a coffee shop and getting some sweet, dessert-y coffee drink. I didn’t do it very often, but it was a small way for me to take care of myself when I was out running errands. I don’t think I quite realized how important it was to me before I couldn’t do it anymore. There is something so soothing about getting a coffee and walking around Target, you know? That’s why I was so incredibly excited when my friends at Blue Diamond Almonds sent me an email last week telling me that Dunkin Donuts was starting to carry Blue Diamond almondmilk in their stores for use in coffees and lattes. I am so happy that I can get back to my fancy coffee ritual (with decaf coffee and almondmilk).

Sticking to my hobbies

DIY Taggie Blanket

I don’t have the same kind of time to devote to my hobbies as I did before, but I still think it’s important for me to carve out a few hours per week to sew, craft, and garden. Doing these projects really helps refresh me and keep me sane! I used to be able to devote a few days to a project and really plow through from start-to-finish, but I’m realizing now that I have to work on projects in manageable chunks. I can no longer just go hide away in my sewing nook and work on something for eight straight hours. I have a few fun projects up my sleeve to show you guys over the next few months!

Showing appreciation for myself

kitchen

I believe that words are powerful, including the words we use to talk about ourselves. Admittedly, I’m not always kind to myself. When something goes wrong, I’m the first to assign blame to myself. I’m trying to head off those negative words, and instead give myself the benefit of the doubt. Mistakes happen. Life becomes tricky. I’m human. And it’s okay to be human. On the flip side of this, I’m also trying to show myself some appreciation when I do positive things. I’m allowing myself to feel proud. Even if it’s as small as making sure my kitchen is clean at the end of the day. It’s okay to feel proud of yourself!

What do you guys do to try and take care of yourself? How do you manage to carve out the time?

Coffee Date

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Posted on Aug 28, 2014 in Lifestyle

me feet coffee slippers

If you and I were to sit down for a cup of coffee this morning, I’d tell you that the idea of a coffee date was actually kinda ironic because I’m not drinking coffee right now. And then I’d probably order some sort of iced herbal tea, because I’m also off of soy and dairy—making pretty much everything on the menu at the coffee shop off-limits. That’s alright, it’s all so my baby girl feels better, so that makes it worth it.

Once we sat down, I’d probably tell you that I’m really struggling with how much of my private life I want public now that I’m a parent. It’s no longer just my life that I’m sharing, it’s this tiny human’s, too. And I feel like my sole purpose is to protect her. Part of me wants to shut out the whole world, but the other part of me wants to spread around all this immense joy I feel everyday. It feels like too much happiness to keep to myself. Especially considering the state of the world.

Me and JuneBug

You’d probably ask if the baby was sleeping through the night yet (because that seems to be the question everyone wants answered), and I’d probably give a hearty chuckle, because our sleeping arrangements are decidedly unorthodox.

I’d confess that since we’re dealing with a baby with severe reflux, we haven’t let her sleep without one of us awake nearby since she was diagnosed six weeks ago. Which means we split the night up into two shifts—Craig takes from 8pm-3am (with him waking me up once for her to eat), and I take from 3am-10am. The irony of this situation is even though both of us sleep on strange schedules, we’re actually both getting more sleep than most parents of newborns. I haven’t felt sleep-deprived since the first week we were home.

So no, she isn’t sleeping through the night, but we’re cool with that.

Then, I’d tell you how it was a blessing-in-disguise that Craig was laid off from him job during paternity leave. I know it’s unfashionable to talk about money, but I’d admit to you that it’s taken some financial rearranging to deal with the sudden loss of work. And then I’d tell you that even though it’s been hard, it’s probably the single best thing that’s ever happened to us, because it means we both get to be home with our baby girl. Silver linings and all that stuff.

Babyface and  Junebug

We’d talk about how I’ve re-watched both Friday Night Lights and The West Wing during my late-night nursing sessions over the past two months. And now I’ve moved onto re-watching Gossip Girl. If you’re a mother, I’d probably ask for your reassurance that I’m not totally ruining my child’s brain by watching TV while she sleeps on my chest.

If you were pregnant, you’d probably ask me for some advice, and the biggest piece of advice I’d give you is to throw away all your parenting books. Seriously, don’t read them. Your instincts are the only guide you need. And all those books will do is make you feel guilty when you don’t follow their recommendations exactly. Which you wont. Because every family is different. And no one has ever written a parenting book about your family.

And then I’d ask you if you want a box of baby clothes. Because a new outfit or two gets thrown into the “too small” pile every day.

baby clothes nursery

Since you’re polite and a good conversationalist, you’d probably ask how my work was going. And I’d tell you that I am so happy in my career it isn’t even funny. I’d talk about how miserable I used to be in my job—how I’d cry almost every single day—and how drastically different my life is now. It feels like an entirely different universe. I’m in such a healthier place. And I’m so proud of the work I do. Sure, I still have frustrating days, but that’s life. And overall, I’m so much more fulfilled in what I do.

smoothie

I’d ask you how your family was doing. And then I’d try really hard not to talk anymore about my baby girl. She’s really all I want to talk about all the time, but I’m not so far removed from being childless that I don’t remember how annoying that can be. I refrain from telling poop or spit-up stories. And try to think of something non-baby related to talk about.

june bug

I decide to talk to you about my other baby—our garden. I tell you all about our grandiose plans next year to plant even more space and sell at the farmer’s market. I tell you that Craig and I really want to start a CSA, but are petrified to take the leap because the number of successful farmers out there that make a living wage off their farm is pretty much right around zero.

I’d then tell you how excited I am to spend hour and hours with JuneBug in the garden when she’s a little older. I remember playing in the freshly-tilled soil as a kid, and I can’t wait to give her those same memories.

Whoops. There I go again, talking about the baby.

Trowel Garden

I’d tell you how I’m starting to get the urge to get back to taking care of myself again. We’d chat a bit about weight loss, and then I’d sheepishly admit to you that I’m intimidated of the weight loss process again. What if it doesn’t work this time? What if I never can get back to feeling healthy? What if I can’t figure out how to fit in fitness and taking care of a kid?

I’d tell you that I’m back up close to my highest weight ever as an adult, and, while it feels totally different this time, it also feels just as insurmountable as it did before. I’d tell you that I miss my old clothes. And I miss my knees not hurting. I’d tell you that is such a strange feeling to be so incredibly proud of this body (it made this beautiful creature, birthed her, and fed her), but at the same time want to change it.

I’d tell you that I tried to workout last week and it was so difficult, I cried. But it also felt so amazing. I’d tell you that it’s going to take some time to get used to this new body—the parts just aren’t all working the same way they used it.

Me Workout

I’d then probably apologize for unloading all my baggage on you. Let’s change the subject.

We’d start talking about the good food we’ve both been eating lately. I’d tell you that I’m totally obsessed with mashed avocado on toast, topped with a few slices of our homegrown tomatoes, salt, pepper and a perfectly-runny poached egg. I’d admit I’ve eaten it at least once a day for pretty much the last month.

Avocado Toast

I’d tell you that I’ve started to drink beer again (oh, how I missed it), but I’m such a lightweight now that about a 1/4 cup of the stuff gets me good and buzzed. Hey, at least I’m a cheap date.

Beer

I’d then tell you about the most perfect (orange!) honeydew melons we grew this year. And then I’d beg you to take one off my hands because we have a million of them sitting on our counter. No matter how delicious, two people can only go through so much melon before it goes bad. In fact, I’d probably hand you a whole bag of produce to take with you before you leave.

Garden Basket

Then I’d probably apologize for scratching so much, but I can’t really help it because the lower half of my body is covered in poison ivy—and has been for the past month. You’d ask where I got it, and I’d tell you it was from walking the path to my parents’ house a few times a week. I’d tell you it took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out the source and start wearing boots and long pants over instead of flip-flops and shorts. You’d tell me not to scratch. I’d nod my head and then try to covertly scratch between my toes. Because it itches worse than any itch I’ve ever had before.

feet creek flipflops shoes

I’d look up at the clock and realize I spent all of this time together babbling on about my life, without asking you much about yours. I’d promise to be a better listener next time, and then I’d ask that maybe we go for pedicures for our next coffee date, because my toes haven’t been touched since the day before I went into labor. And I’ll try to have something non-baby-related to talk about.