Friday, August 28, 2015

Everyday Detox by Megan Gilmore

I've never been a fan of diets. Anything that makes you cut out whole food groups never seemed sustainable or enjoyable to me. But that doesn't mean I don't think about what I eat.  This summer I read In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan and Eat. Nourish. Glow. by Amelia Freer and both advocated a simpler way of eating.  Summed up, it's this: eat real food!  Crazy, I know!  Basically, you buy food that is food, not food that is made up of twenty other ingredients, half of which you cannot pronounce.  This is often called "clean eating".

So, when I found "Everyday Detox" I thought it looked like it'd be right up my alley.  It's by Megan Gilmore who runs (which is a great place to find even more recipes and information).   She's a certified nutritionist consultant and a reformed lover of junk food. 

Her book lays out a method of eating that promotes better digestions by focusing on eating certain food categories at each meal along with non-starchy vegetables.  It's not a vegan diet, meats and dairy are allowed but not mandatory.  You aren't feeling deprived because you can eat a wide variety of foods, just not all in the same meal.  She also lays out a seven day meal plan that includes a grocery shopping list that I thought was nice.  I may even try it in the future.

But the thing I thought was cool about this book was all the recipes!  Eat. Nourish. Glow. has some recipes, but is more diet advice.  This book is just the opposite. Mostly recipes with just some straight forward advice.

 So, how are the recipes?  Well, I tried two so far.  One was for broccoli cheese soup.  It was alright, but I'm a Wisconsin girl, and even thought there's some chevre in this soup, I prefer mine creamier and cheesier. The other recipe I tried was the cauliflower fried "rice", which makes a huge batch of yumminess.  It has lots of veggies and even some scrambled eggs added in.  It was flavorful and comforting and I think I'd definitely make it again! (Although maybe only a half a batch.)

My Cauliflower Fried "Rice"
There's lots of other recipes I plan on trying too, like the double chocolate brownies, lentil chili, and the cauliflower flatbread pizza pictured on the cover.

Basically, if you're trying to cut processed foods out of your diet, or you enjoyed Eat. Nourish. Glow. then you would enjoy this book.  Or, if you're just interested in learning more about clean eating, you should check this book out.  Megan also includes recipes for making your own salad dressings, frostings, gravies, sauces and nut milks.  It's a great resource book with a wide variety of recipes.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Books & Bloggers Swap is Now Open!

Guess what time it is! Time for the last Chaotic Goddess Books & Blogger Swap of the year!  This is one of my favorite swaps that Chaotic Goddess hosts.  I think it's because books can be so personal.  You can get to feel like you really know your partner when you guys send a couple emails talking about books you love and who your favorite authors are.  It's always a great swap and I can't wait see who I get paired up with this time!  My previous partners this year were Kelly from Love, Kelly Lorene, (who recently got engaged- congratulations!) and Stephanie from Wife. Mommy. Me. Both were awesome partners!  (If you want to see the books they sent me, here's the link to what Kelly sent and what Stephanie sent.)

So here's how the swap works: You chat with your partners, check out their wishlist, and then you get together three books for them.  One is a book from their wishlist, one is a book you've read that you think they'd enjoy, and one is just a book that sounds like something up their alley.  It's always so fun picking books for someone and I always love seeing what they pick for me.  Then, once you've gotten your package, you write a little post showing off what you got.

Think you want to join up?  Just follow the link over to Chaotic Goddess' page and sign up.  Once you're accepted, you just post something like this to help get the word out, and just wait for your partner to be assigned.  It's a lot of fun and a great way to meet other bloggers.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

I Will Flourish... In My Work

Today I'm linking up with Brittany from  The Kardia and sharing how I will flourish.  This month's theme is flourishing in our work.  But before I get to that, I'm supposed to share ten things I'm thankful for, because as Brittany says, "Gratitude changes everything."

Grateful for this Month:
  1.  My husband who supports and encourages me.
  2. Strong friends who encourage me to stretch myself.
  3. Beautiful Wisconsin summer weather.
  4. Downsizing.  Having less stuff actually feels pretty good.
  5. Time to read books.  I love reading!  And have been able to do a lot of it as of late.
  6. My two cats.  Pets really do bring so much joy.
  7. Bees.  This year I'm really noticing all the honey bees buzzing around and everytime I see them, it makes me smile.  They're buzzing from my apple trees, to cucumber plant, to coneflowers.
  8. Fresh veggies.  I love all the produce available this time of year!
  9. Coffee!  There's something so nice about waking up and savoring a cup of coffee in the morning.
  10. Which brings me to my favorite thing about my job!  I work second shift, so I can spend my mornings welcoming the morning with my coffee, and not running to get ready to be to work bright and early.  I don't mind coming home from work and going right to bed.
And how to flourish at my job?  I don't think it's a secret that I don't love my job.  I kind of wrote about it here.  But a girl still has to work, so what to do?  Here are some my best tips for making work feel less like drudgery.
  • Buy your own supplies.  This depends on your job.  But I work as a health unit clerk and the hospital I work at uses the worst pens ever.   They're kind of waxy and they don't write nice and they're constantly running out of ink.  You'd be surprised how much frustration was relieved just by buying my own pens.  I wear scrubs so I just stick one in my pocket when I get dressed for work.  My favorites are these Pilot Acroballs (which you can get way cheaper at Target or Walmart).
  • Treat your self.  If you're having a rough day, buy yourself a coffee or a decent lunch.  Sometimes a little treat is enough to perk you up.
  • Keep your skills up and don't be afraid to learn new things.  Even if you don't need continuing ed for you job, encourage yourself to learn new things on your own. It doesn't even have to be something intrinsically tied to your line of work.  Learning new things keeps you excited and engaged.
  • And my number one tip for flourishing at work:  Focus on brightening others days.  Help others without waiting for them to ask.  Give sincere compliments.  Bring treats.  Try to be positive.  And for any of you who are like me who hates feeling fake,  positive doesn't mean fake happy.  Positive just means not negative.  :)
So, want to see how everyone else is flourishing?  Check out the link up below.  And be sure to share your tips for flourishing at work in the comments below.

The Kardia

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Book Review: Unafraid

I recently signed up for Blogging for Books, which is a cool program, where you can select a book from a wide variety of genres.  They send it to you for free, you read it, and then give a fair review of your thoughts regarding the book.

Unafraid: Trusting God in an Unsafe World

For my first book, I chose Unafraid: Trusting God in an Unsafe World by Susie Davis.  I'm not really sure what drew me to this book.  I'm not usually a very fearful person in my day to day life, but it sounded interesting, so I wanted to check it out.

The author, Susie Davis, was thirteen years old when a classmate came to school and shot one of her favorite teachers, right in front of her and the rest of the class.  This was in 1978.  Following the shooting, the kids in her class were loaded on to a school bus, hauled to the police station to give statements, and then sent home with their parents.  There were no counselors, no psychiatrists, no idea how something like this would impact the kids.  Susie had panic attacks, and struggled to try to control her life by obsessively checking door locks, developing bulimia while in college, by constructing rituals for even the most mundane events like bringing groceries home from the store, having to check for any intruders who may have broken in while she was gone.  She was unable to stay home alone overnight without panicking.  This went on for years- beyond college, after she got married, even after her kids were born.

She was constantly exhausted from worry and her rituals that she thought would keep her safe.  She helicopter parented and constantly worried something bad was about to happen to someone she loved.  In the 1990s, she finally had a breakdown, which lead to a breakthrough.

She realized she wasn't trusting God, she was trusting fear, and this was causing her so much unnecessary worry and strife.  I think we often feel that way about God.  Like He's there, He sees everything going on, but He doesn't want to get involved in the down and dirty stuff of life.  We feel like He's got more important things to do or doesn't really care about our day to day problems.

I liked how honest this book was.  Susie didn't admonish or criticize.  She simply told her story and laid it all out there.  It was inspiring to see how her life changed and she finally was able to overcome her fear.  At no point did it feel preachy, and I really liked that.

I think this book would be great for anyone going through a fearful time in life, who has been struggling with the whys of life or who has someone in their life dealing with fear.  There's also a study guide in the back of the book with questions and notes.  I think it's a great read and I really like Susie's writing style.  She uses a lot of analogies and really breaks insights down in easy to understand ways.

I received this book for free, in exchange for an honest review from Blogging for Books, but all opinions are my own.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Try out Kiva for Free!

I know I've talked about it here before, but now's the perfect time again.  Kiva is one of my favorite charities. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, here's a short run down of how it works.
  1.  Someone needs a loan.  Typically a small amount and for a specific issue- i.e. $500 for a home repair or to buy some cattle or to add inventory to their store.  These borrowers are typically oversees, although some are from the U.S.
  2.  Say the loan is for $500 for a couple dairy cows.  Kiva lists their loan on their website and tries to find 20 people will to each give $25.  If you want to loan, you make a $25 payment through Paypal.
  3. Once the $500 is raised the borrower has money for their new cows and now has to start paying that money back.  The terms can vary- some pay back all at once at the end of a time period, some pay a little each month until the loan is paid back.  Some pay a little each month and then have a large balloon payment at the end.  It all depends on the terms of the loan.  All terms are spelled out in each loan's listing.
  4. Your money is deposited as a Kiva credit.  Any time you have a credit, you can relend it, transfer it back to your Paypal account, or just do nothing and let it sit in your credits.
  5. Eventually, the borrower repays his loan.  And voila, you've successfully made a micro finance loan and had it repaid. 
What to try Kiva?  Right now they are encouraging current users to invite their friends to try it for free.  Due to sponsorship, you can make a loan using someone else's $25.  There's no risk to you.  If you click any of the links in this post, I get to make a free loan too.  (Note: repayment will not be paid to you or me, but to the sponsor that put up the $25.)  It's a great way to try out Kiva and see what a difference $25 can make in another person's life, with no risk to you.

Have any questions?   I've made 30 loans to date.  Lay them on me, I'd be happy to answer.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

DIY Coffee Scrub

Looking for something to help smooth out rough skin and wake you up in the morning?  The answer is in your kitchen!  Coffee scrub is easy to make, smells great, and is an awesome way to pamper your skin in the shower.

Here's what you need:
  • 1 cup of coffee grounds
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup sweet almond oil
  • Honey
  • Clean jar or container for you finished project
  1. Mix coffee grounds with salt.  
  2. Add oil and a swirl of honey.  
  3. Stir until combined.  Mixture will resemble an Oreo crumb crust.
  4. Spoon mixture into your container and add lid. (I used a 1 pint mason jar, which actually requires more than a single recipe.)
  5. Enjoy!

This scrub works great after gardening.  I prefer to use it in the shower, because it is a little messy, but that's just me.  To use, just take a little of the scrub in your hand, add water and smooth over needed area.  I've seen coffee scrubs marketed as cellulite reducing scrubs, due to the caffeine in the coffee, but can't really vouch for that.  I like to use it on elbows, knees, and feet.  It's going to make your shower smell like you're bathing in a giant latte, which I think is a great way to wake up in the morning.

  • I look for cheap coffee.  The Starbucks I used was marked down to $2 a bag because it was outdated.  (I've also heard you can use already used coffee grounds, but have not tried that myself.)
  • You can use salt, brown sugar, or white sugar.  I usually just use whatever I have handy.  
  • Don't have sweet almond oil?  Any carrier oil will work- jojoba, avocado, etc.  You could even use olive oil if need be.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

August Goals (and July Recap)

Summer is flying right by.  It seems like it was just a few weeks ago when I was starting seedlings and hauling my cross country skis down to the basement.  July was not a very good month goal wise.  I only managed to complete one out of my four.

  • Write every day.  Didn't even start.
  • Eat breakfast in the park at least once a week.  Made it there maybe twice, but then there was some rainy days, and then it was super humid, and then there's just the fact that I can be really lazy sometimes.
  • Sew three big projects.  I ended up making three Ella shirts from Liola's pattern.  You can see my pattern review here.  I love the tank and think it'll transition into fall with cardigans and button ups just fine.
  • Continue to eat less sugar and be more conscientious about what I eat.  Was doing okay until I discovered how much I miss ice cream.  And when it's 90 with crazy humidy, ice cream is really all I want to eat.
So here's what I'm planning for August:
  • Sew three large things, or seven smaller.  One of my friends was talking about how she needs to get some jewelry made and we talked about doing craft fairs together next summer.  I have plenty of fabric, I just need to get it sewn.  We could totally do this if we both worked on getting some stock made.
  • Write and/or walk for at least an hour a day.  I'm thinking if I give myself an option, it may help.  I'm also planning on devoting 8:30-9:30 to this, not blogging, not playing around online, just writing or walking.  Both are things I want to do and I keep making excuses, so I'm hoping that having a plan will help.
  • Get back on track with my eating.  I'm still taking my coffee black, but I need to get back to healthy foods and actually eating meals.  If I'm home alone (which has been the case most of the time lately) I just snack on some chips, or a piece of toast, or something and don't really eat a meal.  But I think I'm eating more and food that isn't as good for me, so I want to get that changed around.
  • Focus on being encouraging, not complaining.  I can complain like no ones business.  I think I'm definitely more a glass half empty type of person, even though I try to tell myself I'm just being realistic.  But I don't want to be the downer friend that makes everyone feel depressed.  I want to build people up.  So I'm making a conscious effort to do that this month.
  • Do a little soul searching.  I'm excited about finishing my associates this year, but I really have no clue what to do next.  I want to explore my options and come up with at least some goals if not a plan.
What are your goals for August? Share them in the link up below, or leave me a comment.

Monthly Goals

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

August 2015 Reading List

After I picked my books for August, I realized I may have gotten in too deep- emotional I mean.  Not a novel to be found.  Oh well.  It should be a nice contrast to the lazy days of summer.

Here's what I picked:
  • The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell- In a continued effort of making better habits, I thought this would be a good read.
  • The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch- I know this is going to be a teary book, but I've been wanting to read it.  Also, does anyone else have this thing where they won't read a book when it's popular?  I don't know what that's about.
  • Unafraid by Susie Davis- New from last month.  Sounds interesting.  In a world that seems to be continually spiraling into more and more despair, I thought it'd be good to shore my faith up a little.
  • Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott- Also new from last month.  I'm just really excited to finally read Anne Lamott.  Sometimes I wonder what takes me so long to give an author a try.
What's on your reading list this month?

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

July Book Recap

I actually read quite a bit in July.  I still only managed to get through four books, but they were interesting reads.  And, I visiting two awesome used book stores and found some books that had been on my want list for months, some even more than a year!

July Book Recap
First off, what I read:
Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich was sent to me last month by Favorite Color Swap partner- Kenzie.  It was a fast read and enjoyable.  I described it to my husband as Doritos in book form.  I liked it, but there wasn't a whole lot of nutritional/intellectual value in it.  I can definitely see why people read her books though, because there were some laugh out loud funny parts.  Basically, it's a good summer read, but I don't think I could read her all the time.

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin was loaned to my by a friend when I told her how sometimes I have to fake being happy, and then it evolves into real happiness.  It was a good read, and interesting.  I don't agree with Rubin 100% of the time, but she makes some very good points, and I've even been adapting some of her happiness strategies to my life.

Sherlock in Love by Sena Jeter Naslund was far and away my least favorite book of the month, maybe even the year.  I love a good book that includes Sherlock and Watson, but this book was a major drag.  First off, when it starts, Sherlock is dead.  But, I didn't let that dissuade me.  I thought maybe it took place during the time Watson thought Holmes was dead.  But no.  He didn't pop back up.  And what Watson unraveled was some far fetched story about an illegitimate Holmes sister who was younger than Mycroft and Sherlock.  And, throw in Irene Adler for a romantic angle.  The only reason I gave it two stars is because Mad King Ludvig is also a character of some importance to the plotting of the book, and ever since learning of his exploits in the Stuff You Missed in History Class episode, "Mad King Ludwig Dines Alone" I've been intrigued by his story.

The Feast Nearby by Robin Mather was probably my favorite read for the month.  It's not so much a memoir, but more a cook book, with food essays interspersed.  Mather makes me want to buy a little cottage up north and preserve my own food and roast my own coffee and own chickens and just live a slow life.  I've tried two of the recipes in her book so far, and both turned out very well.  I have a few more I want to try before I hand the book back over to my mom.  (I had bought it for her for Christmas a few years ago, and she had loaned it to me after she read it.)

Now what I acquired:
  • Unafraid by Susie Davis- picked up from Blogging for Books- I would not describe myself as fearful, but I do feel like the world is a cesspool of human depravity sometimes, so I thought this would be a good read.  Also, I was intrigued that the author had been a student during a school shooting at her school in 1978.  I always just assume Columbine was the first school shooting, although in hindsight, that was probably a little naive.
  • A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson- I picked this up at my aunt and uncle's one day, and found it really interesting. Came across it at Spinster Books in Ashland, WI.
  • Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan- This book has been on my book wishlist for almost two years.  Was super excited to find it at, also at Spinster Books.
  • The Keeper of Lost Causes by Juss Adler-Olsen- Also from Spinster books.  I'm hoping this is a cross between Tana French's Murder Squad and Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. 
  • The World's Last Night by C.S. Lewis- Lewis is one of my favorite authors. Found at Chequamegon Books in Washburn, WI, which is a book lovers dream- floor to ceiling books, wooden floors, boxes of books stacked in aisles, and literally the most beautiful view out their backdoor that I have ever seen!
  • We Took to the Woods by Louise Dickinson Rich- This one has been on my wishlist for over a year.  Found a 1942 copy at Chequamegon.
  • Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott - Never read her, but intrigued by what I know about her.  
  • Peterson Field Guides Wildflowers- Just needed a more comprehensive wild flower guidebook.
So most of my books acquired this month came from a day trip up north where two friends and I scoured two used bookstores for several hours.  I've decided to stop feeling so guilty about acquiring more books all the time.  I've realized half the fun is the hunt and it's not a terribly expensive hobby, so I'm just trying to hunt for books I want to read and then be sure to read them.  It doesn't do any good to find them if I'm only going to haul them home and let them collect dust on my bookshelf.

2015 Totals
Total Read: 25
Total Acquired: 37