There is a meme floating around the internet about the excitement you feel when you find all the ingredients to make an impromptu meal. I doubled that excitement when I could use ingredients from other meals. I had cooked lentils leftover when I made the Jalapeno Lentil Turkey Meatloaf from The Balanced Life Cookbook, I always make extra rice so I mixed Basmati with a quick white rice, and four random pieces of chicken left over from a sheet pan meal the night before. Thanks to this recipe it was dinner magic!
This indian inspired dish is so filling you only need to add a simple side of garlic naan. Reheating leftovers is easy and by omitting the chicken, this soup quickly becomes a vegetarian option.
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Yellow Onion, diced
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast, diced
1/2 Tbsp Ginger (or 1 Tbsp/1 inch fresh)
1/2 Tbsp. Ground Turmeric
Pinch Red Pepper Flakes
2 Carrots, peeled and diced
1/2 lb lentils (about 1 Cup)
4 Cups Water
13.5 oz Can Coconut Milk
1/2 Tbsp Salt (more to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
In a dutch oven add olive oil, diced chicken, and salt + pepper to taste. Cook until chicken is no longer pink. Once cooked add to a bowl and set aside.
In same dutch oven add olive oil, diced onion, minced garlic, diced carrots, and ginger. Saute until soft and transparent.
Add the turmeric and red pepper flakes to the pot and saute for a minute more. Add the lentils and 4 Cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat until bubbling. Lower heat a simmer and place lid over dutch oven for 20 minutes.
Toast the Coconut Flakes over medium-low heat in a small skillet with coconut oil. Stir continuously until flakes are a golden brown (1-3 minutes). Remove flakes from skillet immediately to stop toasting process and keep from burning.
After 20 minutes, if lentils are soft and broken down, add coconut milk. Use an Immersion blender to blend soup leaving no chunky bits. Once blended to smooth consistency add salt, 1/2 tsp at a time. Also add more red pepper flakes if you like your soup spicy. After seasoned to taste add in diced chicken and stir.
To serve add 1 Cup of rice to your bowl. Ladle soup and top with fresh chopped cilantro, toasted coconut, and/or sliced jalapeño.
This is the month of no-buy. After a crazy generous holiday last month my wallet is crying and my house is overflowing so I thought, what better way to reflect on my finances, use what I have, and reassess my upcoming budget then now? It’s like a financial reset. Yeah, I like that. Sounds all official.
So what exactly does a no-buy challenge look like? For the next 31 days I will be only buying what I need to survive, which is pretty much gas, minimal food, and one or two nights out (like a date night and a supper club event with my friends). No starbucks, no fresh flowers, no clothes, no toiletries, nothing.
Will this be hard?
It’s going to suck.
Have you met me? I live to shop.
I might cry or freeze my credit cards in a block of ice to keep from spending. There will be moments I rock back and forth singing eye of the tiger as the new Hermes spring collection comes out but I am determined to stick to it and you can too. It’s only 31 days… right? RIGHT? Oh gosh what am I getting myself into.
1.Pre-planning is your friend.
Sit down and review what your expenses are versus your “fun money”. This will open your eyes to habits you never knew you had. You might discover a majority of extra income goes to a make-up collection you never knew existed or that you love to eat out. It’s these “shocking discoveries” that you want to get ahold of in the coming months challenge.
2.Locate where your surplus is.
I currently discovered that I have an insane surplus of mayonnaise and pasta sauce in my pantry. I also have a hard time following through with beauty products. I recently came to terms with my unintentional collection of half used shampoo and conditioner bottles, random but the amount is mind blowing. Take note that you are fully stocked in these areas and resist the urge to buy!
3.Create lists of item you can buy and those that you can’t.
What’s on my can buy? Food, Gas, and two nights out (because these were pre planned)
What can I not? Everything else
4.Create a savings goal.
What are you going to do at the end of the month with all that money? Save it. My savings goal this year is to save $4,000 for my week trip to England, Ireland, and Scotland. Give your money plans, it will make each dollar count.
5.Make a wish list.
When the month is over you can decide what to do with all those almost impulse purchases. You’ll either still want it or realize what was important at the time is unnecessary now.
6. Create a clutter free space.
Clean out your house in a spring cleaning fashion. Donate what isn’t needed, organize what you use the most, and adopt the waste not want not attitude when you have to haul the trash bags to the recycle center (guilty).
All those retailer emails you get. Just unsubscribe. I’ll wait.
8. Avoid the stores.
That includes online retail. Stay away you won’t need the temptation. If you do come across a lovely item add it to the wish list mentioned in point #5.
9. Your attitude means everything.
Don’t say: “I can’t”
Do say: “I don’t need”
10. Preplan for success.
When you are prepared the likelihood of grabbing a pizza for dinner on the way home or an iced coffee on the way to work will be slim. Take a few extra minutes to pack your own home brew, pre plan your weeks meals on Sunday night. Grocery shop like you are on a mission.
Just remember, life happens. An unexpected dentist visit or bill will pop up. Don’t dispair because you haven’t lost the challenge you are just living life. For example: I have a record player on order and when it comes in, thanks to the holidays, it will be after January 1st. I added that expense to my budget. Doesn’t mean I didn’t accomplish my financial goals, just means I gave myself grace. Give yourself the small grace too. Just keep swimming.
Nine whole days into 2018… I can’t believe it! We are already starting the second week. I’ve been pretty good at keeping up with my fitness and food goals. Added in vitamins and supplements that I felt helped with health concerns. I even took my first Bootcamp class and spent the next 48 hours on a foam roller. So far so good in my book!
This week I sat down and really re-assessed the health apps that were taking up space on my phone. What did I use? What did I need to get rid of? What apps worked best with my fitbit and apple watch? What is new for 2018? Below I listed 5 apps that are staying in my phone from 2017 and a few 2018 additions. I even included apps for the mamas, yoga for the little ones, an NFL app for running, and even a parent/kid personal trainer combo.
The only thing missing is you. Now get out there!
What health apps are you loving? It can be anything from recipes to grocery shopping, workouts, water trackers, cycling, even food journals. Share your favorites by commenting below!
This app has been around since the creation of the iPhone and for good reason, its database offers users 6 million types of food to track.
Best feature is the bar code scanner to make adding nutrition facts faster.
With the free upgrade you are able to sync favorite apps allowing workout and food data to freely be shared and recorded.
Success… real people have lost real pounds recording their food and exercise using My Fitness Pal.
Not always quick. I tend to use apps like My Fitness Pal for foods that don’t have bar codes or nutrition facts (i.e. fruits, veggies, meat) but find it faster to just write my food journal down on paper.
In App purchases to use all features can either be $9.99/month or $49.99/year
I don’t know if you are like me but I feel like tackling eating healthy and living healthy is something I learn more about everyday. The information published on the internet and in bookstores, even apps on your phone… it is completely overwhelming. I by no means am anything close to a professional on nutrition nor exercise but I can tell you exactly where to look. This year I am using the daily knowledge shared by three ladies who are living their best healthy life. You’ll want to get to know Laura Lea, Virginia, and Amanda. They will teach you everything you need to know about food, health, workouts, and organizing.
Here’s What I Know
Photo Credit: LauraLeaBalanced on Instagram
Photo Credit: llbalanced.com
Laura Lea @ The Balanced Life :
It took a morning full of boredom to start randomly shopping on Amazon. It’s these boredom driven shopping trips that upset my husband the most when he gets the bank statement, however, I had a small mission to find a cookbook with realistic healthy recipes. Realistic meaning I could actually find the ingredients since items like cauliflower rice is difficult to find in Germany. While killing time I found The Balanced Life cookbook, added it to my cart, and waited for it to arrive in the mail. From the moment I opened the front cover I found myself excited to read all about Laura Lea. She is a Nashville girl and a certified nutritionist with a passion for educating everyone on living a healthy life. So I quickly liked her instagram and bookmarked her blog. From that moment on I have zero regret.
Why should you follow her? She is so smart when it comes to fueling your body and motivated to the point that it starts to rub off on you. She takes instastories while on walks, shares what she eats in a day, tells you what adventures being a cookbook author has led her on (hello, she cooked for the Bush twins), plus lets face it, this girl could make a piece of cardboard look tasty. If you are interested in a healthier “food” life you definitely need to check out Laura Lea.
Virginia @ Your Life Edit :
I adore Virginia. She is the kind of girl that you just want to hug around the neck every time you see her and she’d probably let you being that she is also a Nashville resident (I’m just guessing on the hugging part). I love reading her blog and watching her instastories because she teaches us the hardest lesson to learn about healthy lifestyles; How to navigate the grocery store. Trader Joes or Walmart doesn’t matter because Virginia is all about sharing the good stuff. Not to mention from time to time she’ll throw on a great workout, recipe, mom tip, or a great life hack but the food part is my absolute favorite. The motto is all about living simply and in the moment, something I can definitely get behind.
Photo Credit: AmandaFredrickson on AmandaFredrickson.com
Amanda @ AmandaFredrickson :
The only two words you need to know… Fridge Forging. I live for Amanda, who I am convinced is a magical wizard chef, and her fridge forging recipes. Not a Nashville resident isn’t the only thing that makes her a wild card on this list, she is also not really related to health but the meals she prepares are wholesome, clean, and even given with vegan/vegetarian alternatives. Whatever she whips up on her instastories from the random items in her fridge gets turned into recipes on her blog, never mind the beautiful food photography. If you are looking to strike a balance with your health and how you eat consider liking everything Amanda Fredrickson.
I made the mistake of not talking much about beauty in 2017 because there were some pretty amazing products. Luckily this round up faired well with only a handful of items sold out so there is still time to grab some great skincare, make up, nail colors, scents, and more. What did I reach for in 2017? In no particular order I have created a list with links. I didn’t explain why I loved the product but if you have extra dry, rosacea skin this list is for you! So what made your 2017 beauty favorites list? Anything not on my favorites list that you loved? Leave me a comment below. I always love great recommendations!
I can’t believe I am sitting here at my dining room table typing out a post about the coming year. Tomorrow it will be 2018 and I am ready for the fresh start. I have no resolutions but I do have a new motto for the next 365 days and a few lists written out… I plan to live my best life and I want to take y’all on the ride with me because you deserve to live your best life too, whatever that may look like.
What does my best life look like? Its learning from 2017’s mistakes; I need to get back to keeping a schedule, building relationships, taking control of my health before my health starts to take control of me. I want to take more photographs, laugh big, and love even bigger. I am flushing the negativity to make room for joy, planning adventures, and pushing myself to be braver. It’s all about being kinder to myself, accepting complements, believing in me, and above all else taking a moment, a good long pause to live in the here and now. I want to be more present in everyday life.
Some days I won’t be able to keep up because life will get hard, I will beat myself up, but this is not a resolution, it is a lifestyle change and I plan to give myself the grace to make mistakes. I will lose friends, I am prepared for that fact, but I am ready to embrace the new. To put my energy in those who invest in me while I learn to re-invest in myself.
How to Live Your Best Life
1. Take Photographs
I know this could seem silly but the older I get the more I appreciate the value of a good photograph. Take the time to snap some shots in 2018. My favorite photos happen to be a quick snapshot I took everyday to remember exactly what I or my loved ones were doing. I am ashamed to admit I didn’t take enough for my liking last year so it is a goal of mine; take more photos. Moments of pride, love, adventure, happiness, all these things are worth remembering. It’s these photos that make life so sweet and help you live your very best life.
2. Laugh Unapologetically
Last year I let other people tell me that my happiness wasn’t genuine. I felt I had to dim my light to let others shine. In those moments, while the miserable people in my life were happy putting me down, I became miserable too. This year I will laugh unapologetically, big old belly laughs when something is truly funny. I will invest my happiness in myself and spread it to those around me. It is who I am and I am not sorry for it. Living my best life this year means being genuinely happy and passing that on.
3. Rid Yourself of Negativity
Save yourself the trouble and rid yourself of the negativity from 2017. Let the hurt go, forgive, burn the bridges of those who never cared for you, walk away from that volunteer job that doesn’t help you grow, cut that dead weight you thought was a friend, hush your critics. Don’t you dare do anything that doesn’t promote you living your absolute best life. It is in those moments where we rid ourselves of the negative that we open ourselves up to all the good.
4. Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle
Health is at the top of everyone’s resolutions list this year but after gaining enough weight to put me in a high risk category, living my best life meant getting ahold of my health in 2018. After being sick for the past three years I decided to start January 01 by joining our local gyms boot camp. I have purchased a new food journal to help me make better food choices, track the water I drink, and set up better nightly schedules to make sure I get 6-8 hours of sleep. I have been educating myself on exercises, muscle groups, the harm in sugary foods, creating goal lists, and even purchased a great pair of Bowflex weights to work out at home. This year I will have no excuses.
5. Appreciate the Brilliance Behind Routine
When I had my son 15 years ago the number one piece of advice I got was the importance of a child on a routine. It took work every day to maintain the same nap time, feeding, and playtime but a happy baby made those long days worth it. Why is that so important? Because routine makes you feel accomplished, its stable, and its downright brilliant. A routine that carves out “you time” towards activities you enjoy, like an early morning devotional or a late evening run, won’t leave you feeling so guilty. I promise there are enough hours in the day. You’ll feel more accomplished with a cleaning schedule, more recharged taking time to yourself, and accountable for every hour of your day helping to eliminate unneeded stress.
6. Be a Joy Scout
You know what to do. Pass that daily joy you feel out to everyone, even a complete stranger. You’d be shocked to know how one smile, a quick hello, or a how-do-you-do could make everyone’s day. Stop and talk to the people who make your life easier by investing in others, start with the bagger at your grocery store and show your gratitude. Create a gratitude journal for yourself and right one thing a day that you are grateful for. Be motivated to pass on happiness and cheer everywhere you go! Lord knows we need more of it in the world today!
7. Be Kind to Yourself
The one line I heard a few times last year was exclaimed in the middle of phone conversations with a dear friend of 19 years; “I’m going to need for you to stop talking about my friend that way”. I was not kind to myself. Be kind to you. You are brilliant, beautiful, and you are here to contribute to the world. Give yourself grace, be understanding, but most importantly you have to be kind to you to live your best life.
8. Live in the Present
Sit back, close your eyes, breathe. Take it all in. Today is gonna be a great one! Go gett’em! You are about to live your best life! Enjoy every moment.
9. Go on Great Adventures
Remember when you use to slay all those dragons? You were living your best life and you should do that again. Go on great adventures. Try new foods, hike around your area, adventure is around every corner it doesn’t always mean a big-ticket to a far away country. But if you can purchase a big ticket for a big adventure I fully support doing that too.
10. Be Brave
I am not very brave when it comes to blogging. I am my own worst critic. This year I plan to open up more. In order to do that I must be brave. Brave with my privacy, brave in my writing, brave in my photography that I share. I never knew how scared I was until I put myself out there in the internet world. This year I know to live my best life I have to be braver, brave enough to make a connection with all of you. I want it the most and so I plan to do my best.
5 Lists Worth Making in 2018
1. A Bucket List
No laughing. Seriously, bucket lists are the perfect way to write things you’ve always wanted to accomplish in an unprofessional setting. They don’t have to be extravagant, add in events like running a marathon or finally seeing Adele in concert. Watching all the seasons to Hart of Dixie (guilty), joining a book club with the intention of reading the books, purging the items in your attic. There are really no rules to what you can’t conquer this year – write it down!
2. A Reading List
You should always have enjoyable goals and for me, reading is one of those activities. My list is long. Full of fiction, blogging inspiration, and biographies. I have even listed possibly joining our local book club (mentioned above) as something I would love to spend time doing. Reading enriches your life and can widen your social circle. I can’t think of a more positive list to create.
3. A Goals List
Life is all about goals both personally and professionally. The goal to lose weight, excel at work, bravely take on new adventures. A future goals list can help you stay on track and encourage making smart decisions all year-long. Short and Long terms goals are important to separate so consider making two checklists for this reason. Just don’t forget to update your goals list throughout the year as you mark things off, adjust others, and add as new goal arise.
4. A Travel List
Just like a reading list travel should be another important addition to your list making in 2018. Not only does travel enrich your life but it motivates you, giving something to work towards. Taking a trip to Greece? Wearing that swimsuit in the summer could motivate you in the gym. Paris dream vacation in your future? Paris could motivate you to take that French class you always wanted to. Divide your list into two with one being short trips and another longer adventures. I have already created my long list with a trip to England, Ireland, and Scotland in 2018. I can’t wait to wander! I can practically taste the fish and chips!
5. A Shopping List
A Shopping List? Really? I know it might seem strange but this is the year to reexamine your closet. I seriously don’t need one more white t-shirt in my closet in 2018. Start watching what pieces you wear on repeat, research capsule wardrobes or look into the cost for investing in classics. Armed with this knowledge, make a great shopping list to help you focus and keep away from impulse buys. Donate what you don’t wear, repurchase what needs to be replaced due to frequent wear, and grab up items that fit you. Proper fitting clothes can make you feel amazing! Don’t forget to secure a great tailor for the perfect personalized fit.
Living Your Best Life Wide Open
So what’s my plan to living my best life? Pretty simple, I plan to blog about it. January is going to take on my biggest struggle which is health so posts will be about my journey towards being healthy + balanced in my life. February will be 28 days of relationships. We’ll talk friendship, marriage, and family. All of the same components from the blog you love to follow will still be here; fashion, beauty, food, home decor, entertaining, do-it-yourself projects, we’ll even talk about hacks and money. Oh yeah I’m excited for the coming months! Thank you 2017 for all the lessons learned… Here’s to all of us Living Our Best Lives in 2018!
The number one gift wish list request I get every year…
Are you going to share what’s on your personal wish list?
Today that answer is YES! Aside from the every year (still crossing my fingers) black calfskin Chanel Espadrilles (which are near impossible to find in Europe) I created a list of 10 easier to find items. I started off with a great iconic Burberry wool scarf, added in a Living with Landyn muscle tank I plan to rock at the gym, a Tory Burch card wallet to transfer between clutches, a beautiful french cookbook with recipes you can actually create, even a Hermes H belt inspired dupe (except with the C Wonder belt you get to personalize it with your own on letter monogram – and its on major SALE!) and a Hermes brown leather Apple Watch band dupe (under $20!). Hope this list helps you find some of your own inspiration for your christmas list this year!