Finally Friday.

Love

Tomorrow’s my birthday. I’m turning 27. And, for the record I have a freaking awesome feeling about this coming year. I don’t even know what’s ahead, but I’ve got this internal vibe telling me that it’s going to be packed with good things. Let’s cheers to that, shall we?

[clink imaginary champagne glasses, here]

I’m planning on just taking it easy, nothing too crazy. On the books is a massage, maybe a pedicure, maybe a yoga class, maybe a movie and most definitely something delicious for dinner. The older I get the more I just want to surround myself with the people I care about, and celebrate in a low-key, just what I want, sort of way.

On Sunday we’re venturing downtown to Denver Beer Company to spend some time with my friend Liz and her boyfriend Brenden who are on a cross country road trip after taking their bar exam — I’m so excited.

In other news, the weather around here has been completely dreary – which is wonderful for the beginning of October, but less so when it’s the start of August. It should also be noted that there are yellow leaves on one of the trees in my backyard. Yellow. This is NOT OK when summer still, technically, has another almost 1.5 months to go. If anyone knows where I can file that complaint, feel free to let me know.

Here are my finds from around the interwebs for this week:

Did you know, in Chrome, that pressing CTRL+SHIFT+T will bring back the tab you accidentally closed? My online life was drastically improved with that little tip and the other 14 useful internet tricks were pretty good as well!

Oh, sugar. Why is does it have to be so all or nothing? I either want to eat that entire chocolate cake or not have any of it. Turns out on top of being delicious and bad for you — sugar could also be dangerous?

There’s something about the smell of lavender that instantly relaxes me — plus the tiny, purple flowers are just so sweet. In an effort to get more Lavender in my life I tried to grow some of it this year and while I haven’t killed it, it’s also not thriving. Maybe I should have read this post on growing and caring for lavender plants before I got started?

When it comes to talking about your marriage, it seems like there are all these unspoken rules about what is and isn’t appropriate to share with others — it’s a fine line and I often find myself unsure of which side I fall on. It’s good to know that if it’s part of being authentic and real, that it may be worthwhile to break the marriage talk rules.

I’ve always said that if I could have a job where I get to spend time learning about different people and different cultures, I would a very happy person. However, I don’t even know if that job exists or what it would be called or how to go about starting that. With that said, it’s easy to see why I got completely sucked into this video on the world’s tallest slum – it’s fascinating to hear all the difference perspectives.

Tell me that you’ve tried Biscoff spread — I could literally eat it by the spoonful out of the jar. What’s not to love about a spread made out of amazing cookies? Maybe, just maybe this Biscoff Spread Gooey Butter Cake, that’s what.

Hope you have an amazing weekend!

It’s the small things.

It's the small things. LifeloveandGarlic.com

You know that moment when you’re watching someone do something so benign and mundane that you’re not even sure why you keep watching? But you do. After a few seconds go by you notice them slowing lighting up at that ridiculous little thing? Tell me you know what I’m talking about.

That “thing” could be finally getting that sticker off a peach in one fell swoop or getting the closest parking spot or simply staring at the tiny blossoms sprouting from the flower bed out front. It could be anything. Life is comprised, day in and day out, of these little moments.

But… [big but] sometimes don’t those little things that make you smile or smirk also seem so irrelevant. I mean, look at the bigger picture. Aren’t we just small people that are rejoicing in fruit stickers and new movie previews. Or maybe it’s bigger things like finishing a project or getting a glowing review of your design portfolio. Whatever it is, if you think too long and hard about it… it doesn’t feel like it really matters. In the big scheme of things does that amazing annual review really benefit or impact anything, does getting through a whole string of green lights without ever stopping make a difference? Sometimes, for me, it’s hard to see the point and/or the impact of it all. You know? [going deep-ish here]

More than anything I want to feel like I’m contributing to something bigger, that the little things matter. And, you know what? Maybe they do. (tweet this gem)

It in this frame of mind that I came across this article on running. But, running wasn’t what factored into it for me (though maybe I should be doing a bit more of that). It was this line:

I post often about things that may seem trivial.  Certainly, food and fashion are somewhat frivolous in the grand scheme of things.  But these things are part of living well.  These small  things are what makes life worth living.

Do you ever feel like something was written, said, made etc. just for you? This was one of those moments. One of those moments where I just had to let the words sink in and fill me up. Let me know that there is meaning in the little moments, because without them where would we be? What would happen without the small things?

At the end of the day aren’t all BIG things just made up of small pieces, moments and efforts? A culmination of the most minute details all compiled into one big masterpiece?

I know that I don’t have the answers to the universe — and probably never will — but in some part life is about savoring the moment and pausing to celebrate the everyday occurrences. Because, without those moments of joy — what is there?

Finally Friday.

Finally Friday!

Hello Friday, it’s nice to see you. This week has been good and packed full of bible study, time at home, comedy works with my family and good weather. The only downside was the BIG TIME explosion of purple berry smoothie early this morning. But that humiliation (and extreme amount of clean-up) has now passed and made room for Friday excitement.

This weekend we’ve got lots of down time (which is always nice) — we’re having a BBQ date night tonight at Hickory House in Parker. Tomorrow we’ve got some birthday festivities and then we’re headed to the zoo for Christian’s summer work party (hippos + vino = yes, please). Sunday we’re going on a hunt for the cheapest organic produce near us — Costco and Sprouts, I’m looking at you.  Hope you have a great weekend!

Here are a few of my favorites from around the interwebs this week:

So I found this site from another post on raising a family outside the US, [side note: I LOVE reading about other cultures… or people in general… cannot get enough] and this post with the line “I make the babies, you kill the spiders” totally echos my sentiments when it comes to my marriage, but also embodies my fear of spiders 10 fold. Think we have spiders here in the US? Check out the ones from this post in the Congo.

Currently, we have 13 zucchini and squash plants growing in our back yard. I planted all these seeds thinking that only a few of them would actually come up. I was wrong (they all did) and then when I couldn’t give them away, I felt bad murdering the little baby sprouts that I had planted. Anyways. I’m about to have a plethora of squash varieties that will need to be used, and these zucchini pancakes look like a great option.

How often are you asking yourself “how much can I get away with?” — I’m guessing it’s a lot more than you think. I’d never heard it put this way, but your beliefs and efforts might be what’s holding you back.

I loved these free planners — especially the blog post layouts. Maybe if I write it all out for August it will inspire me to actually stick to a posting schedule. Just maybe.

Have you ever had paleo bread? I haven’t. But, I think I’m going to try to make a loaf this weekend and see how it turns out. I’m thinking either this cinnamon loaf or this more general bread recipe. If it goes well I’ll report back with details.

For the past few weeks I’ve been getting my butt kicked by Jillian Michaels in my living room, but sometimes I need a break from the same video routines. This pyramid workout might have to get added to the rotation.

Bonus: Here’s a free marriage manifesto printable — I’m a sucker for any sort of typography print, if you haven’t already noticed. How much is too much when it comes to hanging words on your walls?

Finally Friday.

You are never done and that is a beautiful thing!

This week went by so quickly, I can hardly believe it. I’m pretty sure yesterday was Monday and now, somehow, today is Friday. Not that I’m complaining, I mean, Friday > Monday. Last night, the weather cooled down so much that we just left all the windows open and my feet even got a little chilly. That’s the best weather: hot during the day then nice and cool at night. Colorado, I love you.

My nieces and brother-in-law are in town this weekend so I’ll be hanging out with them having all sorts of adventures, then Sunday I’m having lunch with my old roommate Meghan who’s just about the cutest pregnant woman around. Then, we’re off to another week. What’s on tap for you this weekend?

Here are my finds from around the interwebs:

Ever have those days where it’s just hard to get into the swing of life? And/or it’s just one of those days where the grouchy mood swings have taken over? Ahem. Here are 10 tools for everyday happiness and I’m sure at least one of them will be able to help you snap out of your funk.

I have a green smoothie for breakfast almost everyday. It has streamlined my meal routine and it’s a great way to squeeze in a few extra vegetables early on. This recipe for a mintchip green smoothie has landed itself at the top of my must try list.

These last words from death row inmates chilled me to the bone. I have such mixed emotions about the death penalty and it just made me sad, even though, many of those men committed unspeakable crimes.

Have you seen the Bodyform period commercial that they did in response to a snarky Facebook post from some guy? No? Go watch it right now. Seriously, it’s worth your time and I promise you’ll be laughing by the end.

Confession: I made a bit of an impulse buy this week. I ordered two jars of this Cake Batter Coconut Butter and even though it was a bit of a quick decision, I’ve been tracking the shipping (can’t wait!) since I got the notification that it was sent out.

This picture of a tiny frog with its own umbrella is definitely going to brighten your day. Small animals = certain joy.

Lastly, since we were on a Norwegian kick last week… during this Norwegian bachelor party, the friends of the groom decided to trick him into thinking he was bungee jumping… when really he was just standing in front of a baby pool. Such a genius joke.

Finally Friday.

It's Friday. Finally.

This week was a good week. I spent last weekend in Vail with my friend Jacqui — summers in Colorado are awesome, but summers in the Colorado mountains are the absolute best. The rest of the week was pretty good as well: got some recipes in the works, cleaned out some drawers and closests and just relaxed. I’m having a little bit of nervous energy around picking a vacation spot, which I’ve already alluded to. However, just when I think I’ve got it all figured out, I’ll read a bad review and end up doubting everything and ending back at square one. Vacations are so expensive and time off is so rare that I want it to be just perfect. Do you have any suggestions? 

Tonight I’m going to look at paint and a back splash for our kitchen. I’ve already have a few samples lying around the house, but nothing has felt like the right fit. Cross your fingers for me, will ya? Tomorrow I’m hitting the outlets with my mom (and baby Evan) then the rest of the time is excitedly plan free!

Here are my favorites from around the web:

Macaroni and cheese has been one of my favorite foods since I was a little kid. My family would eat steamed crab and artichokes for my sister’s birthday and I’d settle myself into a big ‘ol bowl of kraft mac ‘n cheese (and the bonus was, on those night, I didn’t have to share with anyone). This recipe for mac ‘n cheese with sweet corn and bacon (bacon!) had me at hello. I love bacon, as overdone as it’s been as of late. I also love pasta + cheese + corn. I would leave out the tomatoes, if I’m being honest.

This story about a youth run supper club in San Fransisco has been weighing heavily on my heart (in a good way). It feels like a really practical (not to mention inspiring) vehicle for change + just think of how big the impact is on the kids that are involved. Their realities of not finishing high school and selling drugs to support their families gets completely transformed in a way that allows for a life of possibility.

It’s no big secret that I’m something of a people pleaser and big time avoider of  un-necessary confrontation. And, I know I end up apologizing for a lot throughout the week — whether it was in my control, worth apologizing for, just filling empty space or not. With that said, these 12 things you never need to apologize for are a good reminder of what we can own without any reason to feel guilty.

This hello banner needs to find it’s way to my front door. Isn’t it cute?

I have a friend, Katrine, that is from (and lives in) Norway. She lived in Colorado for a year during 7th grade and we simultaneously tried to teach each other Norwegian and Spanish (of which I’m still not fluent in either). Anyways. This post by an American raising children in Norway was a must read – it makes Norwegians sound like they’ve totally got it together in compared to the multitudes of child raising philosophies here in the US. Other cultures will never cease to fascinate me.

During the warmer months I live in tennis shoes, flats for work or reef flip flops. No matter how hard I look, I can never seem to commit to a “grown-up” or fancier type of sandal. They’re either too embellished, not comfortable or out of my price range. However, if I saw these shoes Happy Cage Sandals on a shelf, I’d buy them in a heart beat. They’re perfect.

Lastly, don’t forget to enter the Iced Hot Giveaway over here… you have until next Wednesday, and I’d say the odds of winning are pretty good! Have a great weekend!

Easy Peasy Iced Vanilla Latte + {GIVEAWAY}

*THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED, THANKS TO EVERYONE THAT ENTERED*

We all have those weird memories that stand out for us from childhood, the ones that were completely insignificant in the moment but feel somewhat pivotal now. One of those memories for me revolves around coffee, that steaming pot of good morning.

As a little kid, I’d wake up each morning and make my way downstairs catching wafts of some vanilla concoction my mom had brewed up. Do you remember those little tins of coffee powder? They made the most delectable smelling cup of coffee each morning. Anyways. On this particular morning that smell beckoned me forward to find her on the porch enjoying her coffee and I asked for just a little sip. She passed the cup over, all the while knowing it wasn’t going to be something I actually wanted. She was right, it never tasted even a fraction as good as it smelled in my little girl world.

In an homage to this memory, my Mom and I teamed up with Seattle’s Best coffee (I met them at Blissdom, they were amazingly nice) to make a version of that exact coffee that, now, actually tastes as good as it smells.  I present an extremely easy and even more delicious version of the Iced Vanilla Latte:

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Easy Peasy Iced Vanilla Latte

Ingredients:

2 tbsp. vanilla simple syrup (see recipe below) 1/3 cup whole milk coffee ice cubes (see directions below) Seattle’s Best Level 4, Medium-Roast Coffee brewed (we used 3.5 scoops for a pot) or you can use the Seattle’s Best recipe for cold brewing!

Directions:

1.) Fill your cup (or fancy tumbler) with coffee ice cubes.

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2.) Pour simple syrup and whole milk into the bottom of the cup

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3.) Fill the rest of the cup with your coffee of choice. Stir!

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4.) Voila! Enjoy a delicious, easy and perfect drink for summer mornings.

Vanilla Simple Syrup

Ingredients:

1/4 cup brown sugar 1/4 cup white sugar 1/2 cup water Pinch of cinnamon 4 tbsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

1.) Put both sugars, water and pinch of cinnamon in a pot over medium heat. Bring to boil. 2.) Once it boils, pull the pot off the stove and pour the vanilla into the syrup and stir. Allow to cool. You’re done! Note: Don’t be alarmed that your syrup is quite dark in hue (almost coffee-colored). The brown sugar/vanilla have that effect – it’s perfectly normal.

Coffee Ice Cubes

Directions:

Take your left over coffee and pour it in your ice-cube tray and freeze! They’re perfect for cooling down your coffee without making it watery.

And, you know the best part? — A GIVEAWAY —

Because the people at Seattle’s Best are so amazing and so very generous, they offered to give away your very own prize Hot Iced Giveaway pack, so that you can make a big glass of your favorite iced (or hot) coffee at home.

Seattle's Best Hot Iced Giveaway Prize Package - Life, Love and Garlic.com

The Hot Iced Giveaway prize pack includes:

  • One-month supply of Seattle’s Best Coffee® (4 bags!)
  • Seattle’s Best Coffee Tumbler for your iced and frozen coffee drinks
  • Seattle’s Best Coffee Hot Travel Mug to enjoy their brewed coffee on-the-go
  • Melitta coffee brewer and recipe for a totally new way to make a single cup of coffee
  • Simple Iced Coffee recipe featuring their go-to cold brew method
  • Coffee scoop to measure the perfect amount of coffee

There are two ways to enter.

1.) Leave a comment with the answer to this question: 

What’s your favorite coffee drink to order (or make at home)?

2.) Tweet the following message (and leave a comment that you did so): 

I just entered the Seattle’s Best Hot Iced Giveaway over at Life, Love and Garlic and you should too! Click to enter: http://wp.me/pxNUw-Dl

*The giveaway will run until 10:00 PM MST on July 24, 2013! I’ll use random.org to choose a winner, limit of 2 entries per person. Good luck!

**UPDATE: Kyle was the winner of The Hot Iced Giveaway Prize Pack. This giveaway is now closed. **

Currently.

Sometimes I wish I could just take a snapshot of my life. Something that would capture exactly what it’s like in this moment with a husband, puppies, a house, a job, an amazing family, fabulous friends, wonderful weather and more joy that I’ve felt in a really, really long time. In fact, I can’t even remember the last time that my life just felt good. I’m not saying every moment is good. There are cranky days and disappointments, but they are far outweighed by the hope and blissfully everyday occurrences I’m trying to get better at appreciating.

With that said, here’s a shot at what my life looks like, currently:

Currently

Currently Reading: Wheat Belly + Bible. Christian and I committed to reading the bible in a year. I’m totally caught up on it too — if you don’t count the fact that I gave up on part of Leviticus and still have to go back and read the Psalms/Proverbs and haven’t started the month of June, yet. Progress, right? The actual bible we’re reading lays it all out in chronological order, which makes it even more interesting to see how different events and people led to the famous stories we all remember from Sunday School.

Also on my nightstand is Wheat Belly. One of my very best friends (and lobster) Jacqui loaned it to me after she finished reading it. As I may have mentioned, recently, I’m a little obsessed with the breakdown of nutrition, different evolutions of food and the science behind what we should be eating. This book is fascinating and learning how wheat and our relationship with it has changed over time keeps my mind reeling long after I’ve set the book down for the night.

Currently Listening: Pretty much anything country with the occasional hip hop tossed in for workouts. I just like the stories behind country music and the fact that I can understand the words (and not be offended if I listen too closely).

Currently Indulgence: A warm Ghirardelli brownie with ice cream. We don’t have it often, but when we do it is absolute heaven.

Current Nail Color: Mod in Manhattan by Color Club. It came in my June Birchbox and while the color wasn’t my favorite at first, it has a peachy hue and has held up really well. Considering buying the entire Birchbox collection.

Current Drink: Mostly water. I’m boring and I like it that way.

Current Food: A big bowl of organic strawberries. These are the first organic strawberries I’ve ever bought and they are D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S… are all organic strawberries this way? If so, I’m a total convert.

Current Favorite TV Show: Burn Notice (the last season). It took Christian approximately 3 years to get me to sit down and watch an episode… but, boy, when he did, I quickly watched the entire Netflix collection in the matter of a couple weeks. I can honestly say that Michael Weston is my one and only TV crush of the moment. He’s kind of self involved, but I love him. Also, my heart breaks with each new episode simply because I know they’re counting down to the end.

Current Wish List: A fun vacation to look forward to. I can’t make up my mind, though, about what I want in my next vacation… a relaxing week at a mountain cabin, beach palooza and lots of sunshine, saving up for something in Europe? Most of the time I’ve already got my heart set on my next travel locale, but this year, it’s a total toss up.

Current Needs: A good haircut. It’s been at least 4 months since I had my hair cut and the ends are crispy, it’s tangling easily and needs re-shaping. About once a year I’ll have the urge to cut it all off (which I did with several inches back in February), then the rest of the year will be spent trying to grow it back out.

Current Thoughts: I’m taking this Friday off, so my 4th of July weekend is turning into 4 days off. It will be so nice to get things done, relax and just enjoy some time at home! With that said… I can’t stop thinking about it.

Currently Anticipating: A girl’s trip to Austin. This September my three best girlfriends from college are all convening in Austin for a long weekend. I. Cannot. Wait. Also, I hear they have tacos there. I can’t wait for those.

Current Blessing: Life. Christian and I’s first year of marriage was hard. I don’t think I realized how hard it was until things started to get better and life got good again. Maybe it’s a survival instinct, maybe it’s avoidance… I’m not sure. Either way, life is good (knock on wood) and I’m hoping it will stay that way.

Current Bummer: Somehow, somewhere I ripped a big hole in my favorite jeans. I’ve had them almost 2 years and have worn them multiple times a week (if not more) the entire time. Buying jeans is one big #tallgirlproblem, so having to retire a pair is always sad… plus, the prospect of having to shop for more jeans is always a little daunting.

Current Outfit: These jeans + this top. All Banana Republic – my one true shopping love.

Finally Friday.

Too many people undervalue what they are, and overvalue what they are not.

It’s Friday! It’s Friday! I was so happy about today being Friday that I actually called Christian on my way to work and sang him a few lines of “Glory, Glory Hallelujah”. Breaking out into song (and making up my own songs) is somewhat of a specialty of mine, though I try to reserve it for those that will only minimally roll their eyes each time I bust out “Somewhere over the rainbow…” or “Ooooh say can you see…” — Christian’s main gripe with my singing is that I only pick songs with notes far, far out of my range. I say it makes for an entertaining challenge, yes?

I’ve been really dragging this week in the sleep department, so this week was a little bleery eyed and extremely busy at work. Every single bone in my body is eagerly anticipating sleeping in tomorrow morning. This weekend should be a good one… girl’s night tonight, a whole day without plans tomorrow and then lunch with my dad followed by babysitting Captain Snuggle Buns on Sunday. I’ve also got this genius idea for a chocolate ganache frosting I’ve been wanting to try out — we’ll see if I can muster up the energy after editing the photos from the portrait shoot I did.

And the real bonus is that next week is a 3-day week. Hello, no-plan, 4-day holiday weekend that is almost here!

Here are my finds from the interwebs this week:

I saw this bright shower curtain earlier this week and I wanted it so, so, so bad… but the bargain hunter inside of me refuses to pay $60 for a shower curtain. I mean, really. It’s so cheery though – pretty sure it would make me smile every morning before I hopped in.

Have you seen the article”When your mother says you’re fat“? It was so beautifully written, it made my heart ache while simultaneously generating hope for the next generation of women. Read it, it’s worth your time.

These rare, unpublished photos from the aftermath of D-day in Normandy are captivating to me. It’s actually hard to imagine and I keep wanting to pretend they’re scenes from a movie rather than something that really happened.

There’s been a desire deep in my soul for a mail organization system. I know, first world problem. The issue is that I can never find one that suits my needs. First I ordered one from Zulily only to have it show up the size of something you’d hang in a 5 year-olds play kitchen. Then I bought a bulletin board which has just ended up cluttered with crap. All this to say that when I saw the tutorial for this DIY Chalkboard with key hooks — I emailed it to Christian and begged him to make it for me.

As I get older, the frailness of life and the value of each moment becomes more and more apparent. This Japanese tradition of looking at every moment as something that will only happen once in a lifetime really struck home. Doesn’t life look more beautiful from this point of view?

A few months ago I took the Brandgasm class by Ash Ambirge and Jamie Varon… since then, I can actually open Photoshop and semi-use it. This also means I’m addicted to free font downloads — mostly because I can’t justify why I need a million script fonts or why I need my boss’ credit card to buy them. Ahem. Here’s a compilation of the 105 best free fonts that I’ll be scrolling through.

I would love to have this black dress from The Gap to wear on the weekends. Doesn’t it look totally comfortable? Like the perfect summer chic. Plus, it could be dressed up with some bright accessories!

The end of my Google Reader Era.

Back, several years ago, at my very first job out of college I worked with the wonderful Bethany Grabher. At the time, we tag teamed the Front Lines Marketing Department for our company and liked to say that we lived on our own little marketing island. Our days were filled with phone calls from RV dealers across the US and Canada, figuring out quarterly promotions and trying to make our newsletter copy as clever as possible. We’d, also, ichat on and off for the entire eight hours M-F and share different things we’d found (re: technologies, pictures of cupcakes, articles etc.) back and forth.

She introduced me to Dooce, Food Gawker and more importantly Google Reader. Prior to the introduction of the most helpful tool of my past 5 years I  had all the blogs, marketing sites and other online joys stored in my bookmarks. Each day, multiple times a day, I would meticulously click through each page to see if anything had been updated. Looking back now, it’s almost hard to imagine the horror (I kid, sort of). I can very clearly remember the day she suggested (and explained) that using an RSS reader might be helpful and from here on out that day should be celebrated just as much as any ‘ol birthday I have marked down on my calendar. It changed my life — for the better.

It may seem insignificant to some, but it was by far, the best online tool I have ever, consistently, used. Ever. You ready that right? EVER.

When I found out this winter that my beloved reader was going away… a little piece of my online soul shattered into a million mourning pieces. I signed the petition to save it and have up until this month refused to let go. What is life without a little hope? Am I right?

Turns out it is going away (whether I, and many others, like it or not) and, each morning when I log in, Google Reader likes to make me aware of its own impending doom. Nothing like that cup of dismal sadness to help start your day off right. Le sigh. [On a side note: how would you like to be the person that pulls the trigger on shutting down Google Reader? The grim reaper of blog reading love? Glad that’s not in my job description.] 

Now that I have accepted that the end is near, I’m left trying to find a good solution. Which, let me tell you, has been no small feat. Right off the bat, many bloggers jumped over to Bloglovin‘ – I signed up, imported my feeds and gave it a whirl. And, I hated it. So much, in fact, that when I see the bloglovin’ button a slight feeling of disdain rushes through me. It’s just not how I read online. It’s not how I like to organize my content. It’s not what I want in a reader. Period.

Now that you fully understand my love for Google Reader and my apparent pickiness in choosing it’s replacement, here are a few that I believe qualify for the full-time RSS reader position in my life:

Bloganizer

BloganzierThis is the new guy on the block and I found out about them at Blissdom. They’re still working out some of the kinks (but wanted to launch before the end of Google’s Reader).  I’d say the future of this tool looks very bright! I’m definitely keeping them on my radar.

       Feedly

FeedlyThis tool most resembles Google Reader, but has a lot more functionality and options. Plus it integrates with Chrome so well, which is a huge bonus for me.

The Old Reader

The Old ReaderWhen I first found out about the demise of Google Reader this one was deemed a great replacement by a few blogs I read. It is very similar to Google Reader, but it is (or was) REALLY slow to read through and took several days to get my feeds imported. I’m on the fence with this guy.

There are, obviously, many more out there. These three have made the cut for me. In this moment I’d say Feedly is at the top of the list, followed by Bloganizer then The Old Reader. They function they way I need them too, allow me more flexibility in viewing and let me read the way I want to read.

Regardless, July 1 of this year will be a sad day and the end of  an online era. Hopefully, if you’re on the hunt for a new reader, these readers give you some options and if you happen to stumble across something that will rock my world. Please, I beg of you, share.

Life Hack: Food & making more time.

This winter life felt like one big ‘ol to do list. No matter what the line items were, even the good things, they felt like moments I had to get through just so I could move on to the next. It sounds so depressing when I say that, but in a way it really was. Week nights felt bogged down and packed full and the weekends were just as bad. The worst part was I didn’t know how to fix it and there wasn’t an end in sight.

Plus, when you add on goals and intentions for the year it became really easy to get overwhelmed. One of the areas that seemed to take up a lot of space was meals – what we were buying, prepping and eating throughout the week. Making sure most of the food that made its way into our mouths was healthy became a huge task and one that just didn’t feel like it could be tamed. I started dreading our weekly trip to the super market on Sundays and knew that my afternoon would be shot trying to get everything ready for the week ahead. This may sound a touch dramatic, but I promise it was how I felt. And, if you could have seen me thawing, washing, chopping, mixing, roasting and organizing I’m pretty sure you would have joined in with your own enthusiastic sigh.

By the start of May, Christian and I had committed to doing the 24 Day Challenge through Advocare (see note below) and the rules of eating got a little stricter than usual around our house, but in some ways it got easier. We had meal shakes every morning and leftovers at lunch. At least breakfast was taken care of, right? This is when I read a tip from Nicole over at a Life Less BS about her formula for healthy eating…

[I know this is a really long-winded way to get to the hack, but I think how we got there is what makes it so great]

Each day you aim to have one smoothie and one salad (the kitchen sink of meals, as she says, because just about anything can go in them). This may sound rudimentary, but just having the decision making taken out of two meals a day gives me an immense sense of relief. SERIOUSLY. I felt so much relief that I implemented it the next week.

But, it gets better. Instead of packing leftovers for lunch, we ate them for dinner either the next night or later in the week. I was now getting 2-3 meals out of each dinner I actually cooked. It was amazing.

Here’s what a typical meal plan looks like at our house right now:

Weekly Meal Plan

On Sundays, I’ll usually grill or roast a bunch of chicken for salads and chop up a couple of cucumbers & peppers to toss in salads as the week goes on. Other than that, there’s not much that goes into it.

So, for us, the hack is this: 

Smoothie for breakfast
+ Salad for lunch
+ Make dinner stretch for 2-3 meals during the week
———————————————————————-
= More hours in your day & a mostly healthy diet

It may not be rocket science, but it makes such a huge difference in how I feel about planning, prepping, making and eating. Give it a whirl, I promise you’ll love it just as much as we do. Unless, you’re one of those people who doesn’t eat leftovers… then, you’re on your own.

 

*Disclaimer: Since I’m all about being 100% real, after falling in love with Advocare’s 24 day challenge (amongst a plethora of other products) we’ve decided to become Advocare distributors. From here on out, links to Advocare will take you directly to our microsite. If you have any questions please feel free to shoot me an email. Thanks!