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. In fact, I hate them. 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 myself in a better mindset for the day. Staying off social media, watching slow and relaxing YouTube videos from some of my favorite creators, 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 as hard as my family tries). So 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. Topped with more mozzarella cheese 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 I was easy to make with ingredients I already had on hand. I will definitely be making this again soon.

A Small Change in Direction

1headerWhen people say that 2020 has been a lot so far, that’s an understatement. In my last post I spoke about what has been going on and my thoughts on it. The biggest takeaway from my ramblings is that I am using this time to really dissect what is most important to me in my life and focus my energies on that. For me that is my family, friends, boyfriend, and cat. It is about looking at the things that make you the happiest and make up who you are, and embracing that. People always say do what makes you happy, and I’ll be damned if I am not going to come out of this thing doing way more of that.

Some of you may know I started blogging in 2010, and the blog has phased through a lot of lives. I started off talking about my time as a Disney Cast Member, then transitioned into a food blog where I would review local restaurants. Then I moved into the lifestyle realm where I would spend my time writing about my life, but also about the topics I thought the people wanted to hear (hat was popular on other lifestyle blogs at the time). To be honest, there was a lot of filler content. I felt like my blog needed to be full of curated content, when in reality the content that I enjoy most is the simple and relatable kind. The kind that when you read or listen, you nod your head along.

In a world of curation, I find that the happiest people embrace all parts of themselves. For me, that is the most “basic” of things – and I am proud of it! Why? Simply because it makes me happy. And happiness is all we should really be striving for.

So what are those things for me?

I have a passion for making any space feel like home. I have Spotify playlists dedicated to different moods and times of day. I am obsessed with the coziness that fall brings. I live for those sweet four months of pure happiness that September through December bring. Pumpkin spice lattes, cozy scarves, and apple picking might sound basic to you, but that feeling it brings gives me so much joy

I am never happier than when I am wrapped up in a cozy blanket on the couch watching a Harry Potter marathon with a cup of tea and my cat George and boyfriend Jeff beside me. I am obsessed with Friends, and cheese boards, and seltzer. I could watch trashy reality TV all day long. I love planning get togethers and gatherings, whether it’s a holiday or a typical Sunday.

I believe that the little things might not be the little things at all. Through creating a home and sharing it with family and friends, embracing the seasons, and putting a little extra effort into the “little things”, you live with intention.

Living in The Age of Quarantine

Hello Friends, I am writing to you from Day 40 of Quarantine. What a crazy sentence to write. Does all of this even feel real yet? Who could have ever known we would see something like this in our lifetime? Most days just blur into the next, and I am doing my best to stay as positive as possible.

This is a very hard time for everyone no matter what the circumstances. And as tough as it is, this can also be a time for reflection. Without the distractions of the outside world (as long as you shut off the news for a while – do it, trust me) you can really evaluate what the important things are in your life and where you are headed. Take time to appreciate the things that you take for granted in your daily life.

I know it is hard to stay motivated during this time, and you know what? That is okay. Did I spend a week straight binge watching a full season of Love Island? Yes. And that is okay. I know that scrolling through social media you can feel like you are doing something wrong if you are not making banana bread or making tie dye sweat suits, but this is not a competition on who can be the most productive during quarantine. Most people are taking it day by day and THAT. IS. OKAY.

If you are beginning to get a little stir crazy being home all day long and feeling like this will never end, navigating your child through online learning, working from home, laid off, just keep in mind – you are not stuck at home, you are safe at home.

And a huge thank you to our essential workers out there. My amazing boyfriend is one of them, and is out there everyday making sure you get your mail, packages, and medications during this very difficult time. So thank your mail carriers people, because they are out there in this too and deserve your thoughts and prayers.

This will eventually pass. But in the meantime, it is important to stay as safe and healthy as possible. Follow all guidelines, keep your family safe. Do your part so that we come out of this stronger than before.

I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes: “Happiness can be found even in the darkest times, when one only remembers to turn on the light” – Albus Dumbledore.

Stay safe & stay well.

 

January Coffee Catch Up

Coffee Catch UpCurrently Drinking: Hot Coffee with Italian Sweet Cream

I thought it would be fun if every month I did a little catch up on anything exciting happening, updates, and favorites that I have come across the past couple of weeks. A little coffee date if you will.

As everyone knows January is the month of resolutions, goals, intentions, manifestations.. whatever you want to call it. I did a whole post on my overall 2020 goals, but my focuses for January consisted of: Get up 30 minutes earlier each day, some fort of movement daily, drink 64 ounces of water per day, no phone before or after 8AM/PM, and give my hair a break from hot tools. The biggest struggle was waking up 30 minutes earlier. The most successful was taking a break from hot tools. I did not pick up my straightener or curling iron once all month, and my hair is thanking me for it. This is something I will 100% continue in the month of February.

As for my main goal of overall healthy eating and living, I have been doing very well so far! We have been cooking meals at home much more often (other than the two pizza Friday’s we had because.. pizza.) I have been following the weight watchers program, and have lost a total of 12lbs so far. I am really happy with my progress.

Now let’s chat about some of my favorites this month shall we?

1- Comedians in Cars Having Coffee. This is the most relaxing show to watch before bed or on a Sunday afternoon.

2- Sleepytime Tea. This is nothing new, but I have been ending my day with a cup and I instantly feel relaxed.

3- Burts Bees Hand Salve. Like many people in the winter I get the driest skin on my hands. I put this on at night before bed, and it has really helped.

4- Billie Eilish. I have been listening to all of her music on repeat this month, and I am officially a big fan. So happy for her and her brother on all her awards this season.

5- Air Fryer. What did I do without this appliance in my life? I have used it every day since I got it and it has been instrumental in my healthy eating journey.

And there you have it, that is what’s been brewing this month.

Man, I love a good pun. 

xx Casey

 

2020 Goals & Word of The Year

Happy 2020 everyone! This new year feels a little different. Maybe it is because we have officially entered a new decade, or maybe it is because I am entering my 29th year, but this year I have a little extra motivation to set some really meaningful and realistic goals… and stick with them.

As most of you know I love any excuse to plan or make lists, so when New Year’s comes around and it is time to make goals for the new year I thrive. However, I know when I can admit to myself that when it comes to executing these personal goals I begin to fall off around the week two mark. Which is why I love the idea of us sharing our personal goals with each other to help hold each other accountable and succeed.

So I thought I would share with you my top goals for 2020. Now I am not going to get into huge detail about each goal, but here are my overall focuses for the new year:

  1. Committing to a Healthy Lifestyle
  2. Focus on Mental Health
  3. Make a Conscious Effort to only use Organic and Cruelty Free Products (and be more educated about what is going in and on your body)
  4. Set Financial Goals and stick to them
  5. Start a Hobby

I also thought it would be fun to choose a word for 2020. One that when you think about it brings you back to what is important to you and your goals that you set for the year. This year my word is: Mindful.

It is so easy to get lost in the day to day motions that sometimes it is hard to enjoy the quiet moments of life. so this year I want to focus on mindfulness and awareness in all aspects of life. From mindful eating to mindful meditation, in 2020 I want to focus on doing things with intention.

It is day 12 into the new year and I have already made a conscious effort to work on these goals, one at a time. I will share with you my progress, as well as some tips and tricks that I learn along the way.

Here’s to a healthy and happy new year!

xx Casey

Trader Joe’s Must Have’s

Trader Joes Heading

I decided that I am going to do a little series based on my favorite place to grocery shop – Trader Joe’s. They are the king of coming out with incredible seasonal items (especially for Christmas!) so I thought that each season I would share with you some of my favorite new items that they come up with. But before I do that I think I need to share with you some of my favorite Trader Joe’s staples. You know, the items I drive out of my way for each week. So let’s get to it!

Everything But The Bagel Seasoning. I mean can you really start a Best of Trader Joe’s list without mentioning the king of all seasonings first? I put this stuff on everything from eggs to chicken to salads. It really adds the perfect kick of flavor. But that is not the only seasoning you should pick up at Trader Joe’s. The thing I love most about them is that all of their herbs and spices are very affordable, so I always stock up when I go.

Green Goddess Dressing. Do you want to take a salad from boring to fresh and flavorful in a matter of seconds? Put this dressing on your salad. Made up of Avocado, Green Onion, Cold Pressed Lemon Juice, Chives, Basil, and Garlic, this simple dressing is perfect on a summer pasta salad.

Cauliflower Mash. So I know that the cauliflower trend has been going on forever. Trader Joe’s has a great cauliflower rice stir fry kit in their frozen section that is perfect in a pinch. However, if you have not tried the mashed cauliflower you are missing out. It is creamy and buttery and honestly, I do not miss the potato at all.

Balsamic Grilled Chicken. Wow. If you are looking for a low maintenance dinner when you do not have to cook, but do not want to order take out either this is the thing for you. I honestly do not know how they do it. But this perfectly grilled chicken is fully cooked and in the pre made section. I buy this every week and cut it up to put on salads, make a grilled chicken wrap, or eat it as is with a side of cauliflower mash.

Cheddar Rockets. As far as snacks go, my boyfriend and I LOVE these. So much cheesier than a goldfish or cheez its, these are the perfect snack for an afternoon pick me. up.

Hold the Cone Mini Ice Cream Cones. I love these for a quick little treat after dinner without all the guilt. They are 7- calories each and the perfect treat when you want something sweet. They have a few different flavors but the Vanilla is my main go-to (until the Fall and Christmas flavors come out!)

I am sure there are a few that I am missing so maybe I will have to do a part two to this. Stay tuned because I will be sharing with you my favorite seasonal summer items soon!

 

xx Casey

Summer Intentions

RELAX (1)

Since the first day of summer is officially here, I wanted to take the time to set some intentions for the season. The turn of a new season is the perfect time to sit back and re-evaluate the important things in life and re-focus your energy.

Slow Down & Soak It Up. Summer comes and goes way too quickly each year. By the time mid June rolls around, there are two and a half short months left until the coolness of fall rolls in. And as much as I love the fall, I need to remember not to rush it. Enjoy the nights where you can eat dinner outside on the patio, spend days soaking up the sun, and  enjoy moving at a much slower pace than usual.

To Be More Aware of My Body. This is not where I am going to begin talking about “summer bodies” because quite frankly there is no such thing. This season there is so much fresh produce – so take advantage of it! Eat cooler lighter meals while the temps are rising, and feel good about what you are putting into your body. Eating seasonally is the healthiest way to live and will make you feel lighter and more energized throughout the summer and beyond.

Say No, Without Guilt. Just because it is summer does not mean you have to say yes to every happy hour, buck a shuck, brunch, beach day, etc. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking this time to slow down. The urge to go-go-go and soak up every moment of the summer is strong, but do yourself a favor and take some time for yourself.

xx Casey

Incorporating New Daily Habits

Incorporating New Healthy Habits

Good Morning! The first day of summer might be 20 days away, but once Memorial Day weekend comes and goes we all begin to transition into summer mode. That means it is time to dust off the winter slump and start to incorporate some feel good habits into the daily routine.

1 Dry Brushing. Dry brushing is the process of brushing your skin with a natural brush to stimulate lymph flow, improve circulation, exfoliate your skin, and help get rid of cellulite. It is also an essential first step before self tanning (which is a must for me in the summer – I use Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Mousse in the lightest shade and it is so natural). Dry brushing makes you feel good, and literally brushes off the day.

2 Physical Activity. This can be anything from taking a walk during your lunch break, going to the gym in the morning or at night, doing a nighttime yoga session in your living room, or going for a run on a nice day.  I recently downloaded the App “Couch to 5K” and am excited to try something new – running. I am not a runner. I have always hated running. But I have been reading more and more about how not only is running good for your physical health but your mental health as well. With the app, you run three days a week for 8 weeks with a guided trainer until you are ready to run a full 5K which is about 3 miles. They make it super easy – even for a non runner like me.

3 Skin Care. Taking care of your skin is SO important. And I don’t mean just taking off your makeup at night and calling it a day. Cleansing and moisturizing is something that I may have skimped on in the past. But now that the weather is changing and we are spending more time in the sun, it’s essential. Recently I have re-subscribed to Birchbox and I have gotten two boxes so far. Birchbox is a great way to try new products without buying a full size version. My favorite sample so far has been the Sunday Riley Sleeping Night Oil.

4 Lemon Water. Okay, I know everyone talks about this but I can not stress enough the benefits of starting your day with some warm lemon water. Lemon water detoxifies and and helps maintain the ph balance in your body. It also aids in digestion, helps your skin (all about this skincare this month!), assists with hydration, and helps promote weight loss.

That’s all I have today – share with me some of your essential daily habits. I LOVE to hear your feedback.

xx Casey