Taking a Step Back, and Moving Forward; Coffee Chat

Happy Saturday! I thought it would be nice if we caught up a little bit today. Grab a cup of coffee, and lets chat.

This Monday will officially mark four months in quarantine. How surreal to think how much our lives have changed in such a short time. However, that short time somehow feels like an eternity and a blink of an eye all at once. We’ve all been through a lot, each in our own ways. We have all handled quarantine in our own ways as well. Some people have binge watched Netflix everyday and some people have taken these months and used them for self improvement (in whatever form that takes). It is important to know that whichever way you have spent your quarantine it is okay. There is no rule book here. There are no plans for this kind of thing. The important thing is that you are safe, happy, and healthy. Well, as happy as one can be during a global pandemic.

Something that I have been recently spending some time learning about is intuitive eating. In a world of diet culture, intuitive eating is all about listening to your body, not restricting yourself, and creating a healthy relationship with food. This is a topic I would love to talk about more as I continue to learn. I have currently discovered the YouTube channel Pick Up Limes which is a great resource. I have also recently downloaded the audio book The F**k It Diet, and I am excited to share more feedback soon.

Hoping everyone is continuing to stay safe and healthy during this time.

That Summertime Feeling

Picture this: It is the summer of 2008. You are on a beach vacation with your family. You wake up and immediately put on your bathing suit, a pair of jean shorts, and a billabong tank you bought at the local surf shop. You are ready to spend another beautiful day down the shore. You grab your boogie board, slip on your $1 old navy flip flops and walk the block to the beach. The hot sand hits your feet and you run to the perfect spot. You and your cousins or siblings spend the day in the sand and surf. Once you have had your fill you head back to the house and prepare yourself for one of the best feelings on earth – that after beach shower. Your skin is hot from a full day in the sun and you jump into the cool shower to wash away all the sand. It’s like heaven. After the shower you head to your bed or the couch for the perfect afternoon nap. You wake up just in time to start getting ready for dinner. You leave your hair natural, because you are at the beach after all and who needs heat products. You put on a flowy dress or skirt and head out the door. You sit outside at a beachside restaurant and enjoy dinner with your family. After you may hit up a local ice cream shop or head to the boardwalk. It’s the perfect end to the perfect day.

There’s nothing like that nostalgic summer feeling that always finds its way back when June rolls around. That same feel good feeling you get when Ocean Avenue begins to play on your summertime playlist. You are transported back to summers past, and life is good.

Little Rituals

In the chaos that is everyday living, to me it is important to have little rituals that keep me connected to what matters. For me, it is all about living mindfully and taking a moment to embrace the quiet little moments in life.

Your little ritual could be waking up and taking your dog for their morning walk, doing a morning meditation, or reading a book. Whatever that time looks like for you, if it is positive then stick with it. By creating positive habits in your life you begin to look forward to them.

As for me, my morning ritual includes cuddles with my cat George, a cup of coffee with pumpkin pie spice sprinkled on top, and a positive podcast or YouTube video from one of my favorite creatives. At night, i make a cup of tea and either read or watch a feel good movie or show. Something light hearted, and watch with no distractions.

It doesn’t have to be complicated or ground breaking. Taking the time to slow down and surround yourself with positivity first thing in the morning and and right before you go to sleep, you are starting and ending your day with a positive ritual.

Sunday Questions

Sunday is my favorite day of the week. There is nothing better than a relaxing Sunday where you take things a little slower than normal. Typically its around 3PM where the Sunday Scaries begin to creep in. You know, that dreadful feeling you get when you realize the weekend is coming to a close. In quarantine where the Sunday Scaries do not exist I enjoy my Sundays even more. One of my favorite things to do on a Sunday? Listen to my favorite podcast while drinking my coffee. The name of that podcast? Sunday Scaries of course.

Sunday Scaries as Will the podcasts host puts it is the cure for the Sunday blues. Typically short form he also does longer form episodes where he has conversations with a wide range of interesting people. He usually ends the episode by asking his guest some Sunday related questions. Since I love Sundays I thought that I would answer some of those here.

What is your ideal Sunday outfit? It is always going to be something comfortable. But in quarantine things have been taken to the next level. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t a pair of athletic shorts and an oversized Life is Good t shirt.

Do you drink coffee, and if so how do you take your coffee? I am pretty simple when it comes to my at home coffee. I absolutely love my Ninja coffee maker so I will usually just brew myself a cup with some oat milk and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie seasoning. (Yes, even in the summer because I think it is pure comfort). My boyfriend recently subscribed to the Black Rifle Coffee Company so we get two bags of coffee delivered each month. I will also buy New Harvest which is made right here in Rhode Island.

How do you take your eggs? I am very picky about my eggs. I am honestly not a big fan of the egg whites unless they are scrambled. Typically if I am making eggs I scramble them with some cheese, cook up a piece of bacon, and put that on an English muffin. However, in quarantine I have perfected the poached egg and now I am obsessed. I will usually add the poached egg on top of a piece of avocado toast. Side note – if I am back in my hometown in NJ I will eat all of the bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches on an everything bagel that I can.

What is your go-to Sunday movie? It is usually something I have seen before and usually light hearted. I love a feel good movie like You’ve Got Mail or a cheesy Adam Sandler movie that everyone hates but I love like Just Go With It.

If I opened your refrigerator right now what would I find? I finally got to Trader Joe’s for the first time since quarantine started so I finally have stocked up on some of my favorite things. I always have the cheese drawer full of staple cheeses like mozzarella, Brie, and Gouda to make a cheese board and almost always have prosciutto in our house. We always have salsa and some other type of dip because we are big chip people. We also have cookie dough for a quick dessert, some bagged salad, fruit that we will probably forget about, pickles, chicken waiting to be cooked, a TON of condiments, oat milk, orange juice, and a bunch of White Claw.

What is on your bedside table? Currently on my bedside table I have a heavy duty hand lotion because I wash my hands like a crazy person, air pods and my Apple Watch charging, an Anthropology volcano candle, a few notebooks, a crystal, lavender sleep balm, and a glass of water.

What does your ideal Sunday consist of? I will always start the day by making myself a cup of coffee. Sunday is usually the day where we will cook breakfast, so my boyfriend will usually make the pancakes while I make some bacon. If it is nice out we will go outside and eat it on the balcony listening to some music. I used to do the food shopping on Sundays but now I typically do that during the week, so we spend most of the day relaxing watching movies. Before dinner I usually make a cheese board and we eat that with some cocktails (or recently, white claws). Then I will make dinner which is usually something simple like pasta. After dinner I have some tea and then we settle in to watch our weekly obsession – 90 Day Fiancé, Before the 90 Days. It is the highlight of our Sunday and I am so sad that this season is almost over.

Calming Your Mind in Troubling Times

It is an understatement to say that this year has been hard. From a global pandemic to horrible injustice and inequality there are so many awful things happening in our country. It is so important to speak up during these times and do your part to help.

With everything going on there is one thing that you can not forget about, and that is to take care of your mental health. It is easy to lose focus on what your mind and body is telling you. In times of trouble it is important to take care of yourself as well as others. Here are just a few ways to take a small moment and clear your mind.

One of the easiest ways to relax your mind is to use meditation apps. There are many different apps out there so try them out and see what works best for you. I have tried Headspace and Calm in the past, and I currently use Simple Habit. What I love about Simple Habit is that it is easy to choose meditations based off of your personal needs. There is a meditation for everything and they range from 5 minutes to 20 minutes or more. I love the 5 minute coffee meditation in the morning and the 5 minute deep sleep meditation in the evening. Taking just five minutes for yourself to clear your mind will make a big difference when navigating the rest of your day.

Yoga goes hand in hand with meditation but it is another great way to clear your mind while working your body. Yoga by Adrienne is a great YouTube channel to follow for free yoga videos.

It is important to stay involved and stay up to date on what is going on, but it is very important to take some time to put down the phone and stay off social media. Whether it is committing your mornings to be social media free or giving yourself a deadline of 8pm each night it is important to give your mind a break from the influx of reposts on social media.

Take care your mind, and take care of others. Love, hope, and understanding will always overcome hate.

Creating Hygge in the Spring & Summer

I am sure by now many of you have heard of the Danish concept of Hygge (pronounced: hoo-ga) which is essentially the essence of living cozy. I absolutely love this concept and you can read more about it in the Little Book of Hygge. The Hygge Manifesto breaks down into a ten point roadmap to achieving everyday happiness. These ten points include: Atmosphere, Presence, Pleasure, Equality, Gratitude, Harmony, Comfort, Truce, Togetherness, and Shelter. The manifesto calls us to be fully present in every moment of our lives. By creating physical comfort, connecting with others on a personal level and not through a screen, being greatful, and creating a cozy and calming atmosphere we can achieve Hygge in our lives.

It is easy to create a sense of hygge in your home in the fall and winter. Cozy blankets, warm clothes, soft lighting, and warm drinks are simple ways to get more hygge in your life. With the warmer months upon us how do we get that same sense of comfort when the weather doesn’t lend well to the typical hygge staples. Here are a couple ways I am embracing hygge in the summer months.

A summer scented candle is one of the easiest way to incorporate a feeling of coziness in your home. I am someone who lights candles all year round and they truly do enhance my mood. I already wrote an entire post on how scent can evoke so many memories of happy times that you should check out.

They don’t call it spring cleaning for nothing. Take advantage of this time and clean out things that no longer serve you. Hygge is all about embracing the simple things in life and decluttering your home and mind.

When it comes time for meals, take the time to enjoy them. The key here is to actually set aside time to have Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. Normally I would skip breakfast, work through lunch, and rush through dinner while watching tv or scrolling through Instagram before it would be time for bed. Instead, put the phone down and be present. Whether you are alone or sharing a meal with others embrace that time and disconnect.

Materials create a sense of comfort when it comes to Hygge. Switch out the wool sweaters and knit blankets for lighter materials. A light linen blanket or an oversized cotton t shirt can still be cozy.

There are so many ways to incorporate hygge into your life all year round. At the end of the day (or beginning of the day) a warm cup of coffee or a cup of tea is the easiest way to get that warm and comforting feeling. Pair with a good book and you are on your way to living this Danish way of life.

Balcony’s and Boards

Ahhhh my love has no bounds when it comes to the beautiful cheese board. You can find me at your get together eating all of your prosciutto. You have been warned. And if my boyfriend and cat are there? Game over. They are known in our house as the prosciutto boys. And before you ask George only gets the tiniest piece, and yes he has expensive taste.

My rule of thumb when it comes to cheese boards is… there is no rule. Fill that board with all of your favorites. If you want to fill that board with five different kinds of cheese go for it. If you are setting up a board for a party I would highly suggest going to check out the Instagram accounts That Cheese Plate and Cheese by Numbers. She will walk you through her six step method that breaks your board down by the following components: cheese, meat, produce, crunch, dip, and garnish.

But when it comes to the everyday plate (because yes, I could solely eat a cheese board for dinner almost everyday) these are my must haves based on my taste. For the cheeses I usually go for a Brie, Mozzarella, and Gouda. If I can get to a Trader Joe’s I will also add their Unexpected Cheddar because it is one of my favorite cheeses. For the meats I keep it simple with some pepperoni and about a pound of prosciutto. Like I said, this is my personal preference here. I also like to have some gherkins and olives with my board. You can never go wrong with some Blue Cheese stuffed olives on your board. I like to finish my board off with two or three different types of crackers or a sliced baguette. I recently found these Sabra pita crackers and they are delicious. I also really love the Simple Mills Almond Flour crackers in tomato basil. I don’t normally add a dip but if I do it’s either some preserves or honey. And if I am feeling like I need a little break from the meat and cheese I will add some berries or grapes. When figs are in season I definitely add some of those as well.

And there you have it, the components to my cheese board. Serves perfectly on a balcony with a cold glass of rose. Or a Whiteclaw, I don’t judge.

Creating an Outdoor Oasis

I am lucky enough to live in an apartment that allows me to have an outdoor space. Now more than ever this space is crucial for me. Having an escape from my 500 something square foot apartment is a luxury I do not take for granted. Since I knew I would be enjoying this outdoor space a lot in the coming months I wanted to create a little oasis from the rest of the world.

My goal was to incorporate neutral colors with a lot of greenery. All of the decor items including the rug, table decor, and cushions are all from Target. The plants that I am successfully keeping alive so far are from the garden center at Lowes. Not pictured is a bird feeder that has been brining tons of visitors each day. We also have a few strands of woven lantern lights hanging on the ceiling that give off great light at night.

Everyone had their own design style but for me it was important to incorporate calming tones to create a peaceful environment to listen to music, read books, write, eat, and just relax. From morning coffee to evening happy hour I am taking full advantage of my outdoor oasis in the sky.

The Nostalgia of Candles

There is nothing quite like a nostalgic scent that can bring you back to a certain place in time. The sweet scent of Vanilla Bean Noelle from Bath and Body Works takes me back to my college days when that was my go-to dorm room candle scent. Country Apple brings me back to high school days hanging out at my friend Taras house. Cucumber Melon brings me back to my youth, because that is my OG Bath and Body Works scent. That and Sweet Pea of course. Juniper Breeze comes in as a close third. These days lighting up the coveted Leaves candle brings me right to my favorite time of year. And don’t get me started on Fresh Balsam.

I hold Bath and Body Works near and dear to my heart as you can tell, but there is another candle brand that brings that nostalgia to a whole other level. Enter Yankee Candle. In my childhood home in the 90s we used Bath and Body Works bath products, body sprays, and hand soaps, but when it came to candles Yankee Candle rained supreme.

Does anyone else have memories of a new season – say winter, and unpacking a half burned giant Yankee Candle Jar from the year before and lighting it? Like we lit the same jar candle for years on end. Does everyone have this same memory? Like you knew it was summertime when that half burned Pink Sands candle came out.

It’s incredible how a scent can bring you right back to a memory. Maybe in the future when I think of 2020 it will bring back memories of the half burned Midnight Coconut Yankee Candle on the stove.

A Quiet Self Care Day in Quarantine

As you can guess there isn’t much going on around here these days. Most days are spent lounging around the house, cooking, cleaning, and watching a ton of TV. What used to make up the components of a lazy Saturday are now the norm, so how do you differentiate the everyday from a “me day”? For me, its about making a conscious effort to mindfully go through the day slowly and with intention. Let me take you through one of those days.

I am so happy that I have finally gotten back into a normal sleep routine. For a while in the beginning of quarantine I was staying up until 2am and sleeping in until 10:30am and honestly, it did not feel great. These days I naturally wake up around 7:30am which is about the time my boyfriend Jeff is leaving for work.

After laying in bed for a little bit longer I get up and make myself a cup of coffee. The act of making a cup of coffee and enjoying it on the couch has been one of my favorite things to come out of quarantine. I do not miss anxiously sitting in the Dunkin drive through debating if my iced coffee fix is worth running late for work. I have also been loving making myself breakfast, which is something else I never took time to do for myself. Recently I have been loving making poached eggs and eating them with an English muffin and avocado. I could also write an entire post about my love for English Muffins at this point.

If it is a nice day I will eat my breakfast on the balcony. I will pop on either my Slow Morning playlist or my Sunday Coffee Playlist depending on my mood. You can find those playlists and more on my Spotify, just search “Casey Lynn”.

Now I know that everyone is on the homemade banana bread kick, but I am admittedly not a baker. But I have been loving buying the Simple Mills Muffin and Bread Mixes. The Banana and Pumpkin mixes are my favorites, so once a week I find myself making a batch.

I know that many of you have been missing the nail salon during this time, but I have always been one to do my own nails. I use an all natural and cruelty free nail polish by the brand Ella and Mila.

I like to make this a full on self care day, so I will usually do a hair mask and a face mask and watch a YouTube video by one of my favorite creators while they set. I have recently discovered a whole community of people who renovate RVs and Airstreams into beautiful homes. I have been watching the channel “Tiny House Giant Journey” that takes you on tours of these unique homes. It is very relaxing to watch people turn these spaces into homes.

Time for a nice long shower. I like to listen to podcasts or Audio books while I am in the shower, and one of my favorites is the Sunday Scaries Podcast.

It is time for some lunch, another thing that I have been enjoying taking my time with. I will usually either make a salad or a simple turkey sandwich and head back on the balcony to eat. Keep in mind by this time my phone is still in my room and I have not touched any social media. The biggest thing for me during my self care day is to unplug.

After I dry my hair, moisturize, and put on some comfy clothes I either hop back into bed or lay on the couch and put on a feel good movie. I will usually choose a nostalgic movie that allows you to turn off your brain and just relax. This particular day I watched the classic Aquamarine and enjoyed every minute of it.

Once the movie is over I will do a quick clean up of the kitchen or living room and then begin prepping dinner. I have been loving my instant pot, so usually I will put some chicken breasts in there to cook up and use in a variety of different recipes. This day I also baked a batch of brownies as well.

We will usually eat dinner around 5pm and then catch up on some of our favorite shows. We have been absolutely loving anything and everything 90 Day Fiancé lately, so we have been catching up on old seasons at night.

Another one of my favorite parts of the day has been making a cup of tea in the evening. I think it is the perfect ending to a relaxing day. I have been loving Chamomile tea lately. After tea, I will normally get into bed and pop on some Parks and Recreation (which I recommended in my relaxing tv shows post last week!) and fall asleep.

The most important take away is to move slowly throughout the day. There is no timeline , I focus on the little things, and really takes them in without any distractions. I couldn’t recommend incorporating a self care day like this into your week enough. Even if it looks more like a self care hour in your home, it is well worth it.