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. I like to finish my board off with two or three different types of crackers or a sliced baguette. I recently found the Sabra pita crackers and they are delicious. I also really love the Simple Mills Almond Flour crackers in the tomato basil flavor. 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 always 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 bringing 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 has 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? It felt 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 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 the timer counts down. 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.

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 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 I will typically 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 take 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.

Finding The Positives in Quarentine

We are officially at the two month mark of quarantine. In some ways it feels like it has gone by in the blink of an eye, and in others it feels like it will never end. We all know the negatives of what is going on in the world right now. It is a scary time and it is effecting everyone in a different way. However, through the hard times it is important to step back and look at the positives that can come out of something like this.

The main thing that has come out of quarantine is a little surprising. In a time where we are farther than ever from our families and friends I am feeling closer than ever. My family has had a group chat for over eight years now (CRAZY) and consists of my mom, sister, cousins, and aunt. We chat everyday, but with the incorporation of zoom we get to see each other even more, even when we are far away. From late night zoom calls with family, to coffee chats with my best friend, I feel more connected than ever and for that I am greatful.

Another thing that I have been taking full advantage of in quarantine are slower mornings. I am not a morning person. But in quarantine I have learned to enjoy this time of day. Maybe it is the fact that I do not have an alarm going off in the morning these days, but there is a little more to it. The act of a slow morning gets me in a better mindset for the day. Staying off social media, reading, lighting some candles, making a cup of coffee, and a healthy breakfast are some of the things that make me look forward to my mornings. Doing small things to get yourself in a good mindset amongst the craziness in the world is invaluable.

The biggest take away from this time is to appreciate the little things. The simple act of running errands causes so much stress these days, and I long for the days where I would get an iced coffee and roam the isles of Target. Even a trip to Trader Joe’s feels like it would be a luxury. The mundane things in life that we took for granted before seem so much bigger now.

There are so many uncertainties in the world right now, but one thing is for certain: if you take a second to look you can find the good in the bad.

Relaxing Shows to Stream at Night

I know that it is an awful habit that I should really try to kick one day, but I can not fall asleep unless the TV is on. But I have a few rules for my late night tv viewing. It can not be something that I am invested in, it can not be action packed, and contrary to what I used to do when I was younger it can not be a murder documentary.

I take relaxing very seriously, so I am always on the hunt for the perfect show. Here is a list of some of my favorite late night watches and where to stream them.

Home – Apple TV. This is my newest discovery and may just be my favorite. The cinematography is gorgeous as they take you to the most imaginative homes in the world. Watch the first episode about the Naturehouse and you will be in a state of deep relaxation.

The Great British Bake-off – Netflix. This is my favorite late night watch. It is a competition baking show without all the stress of competition. It is soothing to watch regular people bake in a beautiful outdoor setting. And Mary Berry is goals.

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee – Netflix. I love Jerry Seinfeld, and each episode features a different celebrity. Jerry picks them up in a car that he thinks fits their personality, and they go to a coffee shop or restaurant and chat over coffee. The chat is casual, and you feel like you are out with old friends.

Somebody Feed Phil – Netflix. Phil Rosenthal the creator of Everybody Loves Raymond takes you on a food tour around the world. Much like Jerrys show, you feel like you are listening to an old friend.

Travels with My Father – Netflix. Travel shows in general are always a good late night watch, but this one in particular I love. Comedian Jack Whitehall and his father go on a backpacking trip through Southeast Asia and they have many adventures along the way. I love their dynamic in the show. It is very lighthearted and a perfect late night watch.

Ugly Delicious – Netflix. Another food show by Chef David Chang. Along with a ton of different Chefs, writers, and artists he visits culinary hot spots around the world. You never know where he will end up in each episode. I recommend starting with the pizza episode.

The Toys that Made Us/Movies That Made Us – Netflix. I love both of these series and could watch 100 more episodes. Creators of nostalgic toys and movies walk you through their creation and popularity throughout the years.

Rilakkuma and Kaoru – Netflix. I do not know how to describe this show and couldn’t really even tell you what it is about about. The only way that I could describe it is the TV Show version of Hygga.

The Office/Parks and Rec/Friends/How I Met Your Mother – Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max. These are my go to shows when I want to relax. I just started watching Parks and Rec this week so it is all new to me, but the others I have watched multiple times so they are the perfect shows to pop on and fall asleep to. Also, I can not wait for HBO Max at the end of the month so I can finally watch Friends again!

Universe (or any space related Show, Our Planet, Blue Planet (and any other nature doc) – Netflix. These are the perfect shows to watch when you don’t want to think about anything. My favorite are the deep sea episodes.

Bob Ross – Netflix. I mean, can I really create a list of shows without including Bob Ross? The king of soothing television.

I highly recommend scrolling through the Netflix original shows because there are a ton of food and travel shows that are not on this list that are worth checking out as well. If you have any favorites that are not on this list please share! I have watched most of these shows all the way through (some more than once) and am always looking for new ones to add.

Easy Artichoke Dip For One

I know we have all been doing a ton of cooking ever since quarantine began. We do order take out once or twice a week to support some of our favorite local businesses, but for the most part I am preparing three meals a day every day. One thing I have become a pro at? Poached eggs. To say I am obsessed is an understatement. So since most days I am making avocado toast with a poached egg on top for breakfast, I don’t really want a full lunch. So I snack.

Ask me what my favorite food is and I will immediately say artichokes. That has been my answer ever since I was a kid eating my Great Aunt Ettas stuffed artichokes (Or Anetta as I called her, and I have never had better stuffed artichokes since as hard as my family tries). Naturally artichoke dip is one of my favorite apps. So one day for lunch I decided to make an artichoke dip for one with ingredients I had in my fridge.

I mixed about a cup of cream cheese, three tablespoons of mayo, about half a cup of mozzarella cheese, chopped artichoke hearts, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a small Pyrex bowl. Put it in a 350 degree oven and baked for about 15 minutes. I topped it with more mozzarella and baked for 5 more minutes until the cheese melted.

I paired the dip with some pretzel thins. This easy recipe totally hit the spot, and was easy to make with ingredients I already had on hand. I will definitely be making this again soon.

The Friends Aesthetic

This past year after decades of stubbornness I finally caved and watched the first episode of Friends. Then, I quickly finished the entire series. The whole time I watched I couldn’t help but feel a sense of comfort that only a nostalgia for the 90s could provide.

Every time I hear the words “your still in bed at ten and work began at eight” I smile. Why? Not just because I can relate to that sentiment on a personal level, but because I am about to settle in to another 30 minutes of comfort. The show really does a good job of connecting you to the six friends. Everyone can relate to at least one of the characters in some way. As for me, I am 100% a Monica. She can be a little controlling, neurotic, and has a bit of ocd. But she is also loving, caring, and the mom of the group. The one that holds the whole thing together. Her home is the centerpiece of the show. A home, that we are welcomed into with each episode.

Picture it: Its a Sunday afternoon and the weather is slightly overcast. You are on the couch in sweatpants and an oversized crew neck sweatshirt. You sip your coffee and turn on the television. It’s The One with the Football and the friends are gearing up to play for the Geller cup. You are immediately taken back in time and are enveloped in a sense of calmness.

From the colors that only a show filmed in the 90s could provide (like the show was filmed with the perfect fall filter) to the iconic fashion choices of Rachel, Monica, and Chandler the show perfectly encapsulates the feeling of the 90s. And as a kid of the 90s, that’s the kind of aesthetic that feels like home.