Monthly Archives: August 2016

6 Self-Care Hacks For Busy Seasons

It’s that time of year – back to school if you are a student or have kids, back to awful traffic even if you don’t – when days seem to get crazier, obligations pile on, and, so many times, self-care seems to fall by the wayside.  I am a strong “obliger” in the parlance of Gretchen Rubin’s expectation-based personality types, so it’s no surprise that I fall into this trap every year.

Part of the holistic wellness of being Paleo is managing stress and, mindful of that, I’ve been looking for ways to keep from torpedoing my own health as I manage the tightrope that is parenting/practicing law/wifeing/running a business.  In the sprit of one of my favorite bloggers who began a monthly things-saving-my-life-right-now series this year, and because I find others’ ideas for shortcuts and outlets helpful, I’m sharing six self-care hacks that are saving my life right now.

P&P - Podcasts

  1. Extra! Extra! I used to think it was wasteful to purchase multiples of household items, preferring to buy the next bottle of something when the current one was about used up.  Then, a few years ago, I read a cleaning tip that suggested keeping a second cleaning caddy upstairs.  I am no Fly Lady, but this small step went a long way to helping me stay on track with household tasks, and I’ve found the same to be true with personal items as well – convenience is key.  I recently bought a duplicate bottle of face wash to keep next to the kids’ bath so I can go ahead and take my makeup off while my daughter is playing in her bubbles early in the evening and forego the 10pm desire to fall into bed with my makeup on (yes, I know better, and yes, I still do that).
  2. Find a Podcast  One of the most difficult things for me about this whole work-life balance dance that happens every day is the lack of time to myself (and this coming from a very confirmed, very strong extrovert) and lack of time for my non-essential interests.  I started listening to podcasts in carline and on the short (15 min.) drive to the courthouse last year, and it made a monumental difference in my mood.  Because I am doing this for moi none of the podcasts in my feed are about law or parenting.  There are so many great podcasts available depending on your interests! My current favorites? Happier with Gretchen Rubin, What Should I Read Next? with Anne Bogel and Pantsuit Politics.
  3. Cold Brew Coffee The greatest injustice of my morning is the part of my day when I come downstairs from the shower and start the coffee, knowing it won’t be ready until after I am back upstairs doing my makeup.  #firstworldproblems #suburbiaproblems  Enter cold brew coffee.  4 oz. Chameleon Cold Brew + 4 oz. Califa Farms Almond Milk immediately from the fridge while I’m still measuring grounds into the coffee filter, and I am transformed into a superhero! All before anyone else in my house is awake! (P.S. You can also make your own cold brew.  I, however, am not that ambitious.)
  4. Make-Ahead Breakfast I can tell you it’s the most important meal of the day. And I can boast that since becoming Paleo I’ve incorporated veggies into my daily A.M. routine.  And then I will sheepishly admit that this year’s school schedule kicked me in the teeth and left me eating a bar in the car every day the first week.  For me, the solution is a make-ahead breakfast.  I’ve made sure to include a multi-serving breakfast in my weekly meal prep so I can either reheat and eat at the kitchen counter or grab and warm up at the office.  (P.S. I’ll have a make-ahead breakfast hash recipe for you next Tuesday if you’re looking for a satisfying, nutrient-dense and quick breakfast that won’t hijack your Sunday afternoon.)
  5. Sandwich Meditation Confession: I’m type-A and a professional worrier.  That means it’s pretty easy for me to work myself into a mental frenzy of to-do lists and “what ifs” before I even finish my Cold Brew.  I’d been meaning to try a morning meditation but I couldn’t find a way to be consistent until I realized that, while maybe not ideal, I could do it while I did something else.  Like packing the kids’ lunch.  (I know, DUH!)  My current favorite is a no-frills, 4 minute meditation entitled “Good Morning, Sunshine” from My Meditation Station.  It is uplifting and, importantly for me, addresses all those worries I seem to wake up with. (With thanks to Mel Joulwan for turning me on to My Meditation Station!)
  6. Ten-Minute Workouts Movement Pre-kids, I worked out 60+ minutes a day.  Most times these days, 30 minutes is now my realistic goal.  But sometimes even that doesn’t happen.  Not only does my metabolism suffer, so does my mindset.  I’m trying to remember to give myself a break and take a few minutes where- and whenever I can find them, be it a walk around the block with the kids, or some light sculpting while dinner is in the oven.  I’m a huge fan of barre3 and 10-minute gems like their Kitchen Cardio Strength and Park Bench Yoga Sculpt perk me up and make me feel like the day is not a total fitness loss. (It’s as if barre3 knew I planned to post about this today – check out the Four barre3 Workouts You Can Do at a Park Bench that they just published!)

If you have any favorite ways to sneak in self-care when there doesn’t seem to be another second to squeeze out of your day, I’d love to hear them!

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The Ultimate Meal Planning Guide

Hi, my name is Victoria, and I’m a cookbook addict!  Though, to be fair, I think I’m in good company (I’m looking at you Prime Minister Theresa May!).

P&P Cookbooks

This is only part of my cookbook collection.  The “most used” section.  Mostly Paleo, some well-loved non-Paleo cookbooks that I’ve found to be readily adaptable, and some great resource books.  I definitely do not lack for choices or inspiration when it comes to deciding what I – and my family – will eat in a given week.  The problem is really that of a child faced with too many ice cream choices, who is crippled by indecision.

Whether you own one cookbook or, (ahem) twelve, or keep a binder, or Pin the heck out of recipes, meal planning can be daunting.  Before you sign up for a meal planning service (don’t get me wrong – some of them look fantastic!), give my meal planning template a try!

P&P Meal Planning 3

  1. Find a planner that works for you

This looks different for everyone.  My favorite planner is from Refined Side and allows me to plan all three meals each day.  You may only need to plan dinners.  There are a plethora of blank calendars and planners to be found online and, if you want to sketch it out yourself, the back of the flyer about your kid’s school bake sale works, too.

  1. Make a list of what you need to use up

When I start meal planning (usually Friday evening), the first thing I look at is what needs to be used first.  Maybe it’s leftovers from Thursday that we can have on Sunday (or that I’d rather freeze for a rainy day).  Maybe it’s that random half-head of cabbage from the side dish you made last week.  If you keep a deep freeze list, also keep in mind what is nearing the end of its shelf life.

  1. Source recipes for #2 first

Let’s take my cabbage as an example.  I recently made the Bacon and Cabbage side dish from Paleo Kitchen.  The recipe called for ½ head each of green and red cabbage.  Which left me with the remaining half of each (or the equivalent of a whole cabbage) patiently waiting in my veggie drawer.  Sometimes, I have something in mind based on a recipe I’m craving or that came across my Feedly or Facebook or Pinterest feed recently (that was the case here – I made Nom Nom Paleo’s Cheater Pork Stew).  If not, I grab a few cookbooks off the shelf and turn to the index, or run a search on Pinterest (first of things I’ve already pinned, then widen the search if I need to).

  1. Decide what else you want to make – starting with dinner

This step will depend on your mood.  Is there a sale you want to take advantage of (salmon on sale at Whole Foods for $9.99/lb, for example!)? Something in season you want to cook with or that you have an abundance of from your CSA or farmer’s market? A favorite recipe you’ve been craving?  I alternate between these motivations when making my weekly picks.  Or (confession!) sometimes I just sit down and drool over my cookbooks like they’re the Tiffany & Co. catalogue until something jumps out at me.  Whatever works, right?

  1. Go ahead and plan what you’ll do with leftovers from #4

The reason I plan dinners first is that, invariably, the leftovers from planned dinners will usually fill in some of the other meal slots.  If I make a frittata on Monday, I can count on having at least two servings available for a breakfast or lunch, which is two less breakfasts and lunches I have to plan.  This step also shows me when I’m being too ambitious and have too much food planned for the week.  Better to adjust accordingly now than when I have a fridge full of food!

  1. Fill in the gaps

If Monday’s frittata will only give me breakfast on Tuesday and Wednesday, I need to have a plan for my A.M. meal the rest of the week.  By now, I’ve filled in dinners, plugged in a few breakfasts and lunches, and I look for something easy to fill in the last open meals.  Or maybe I want to build in a lunch out with my officemates.

  1. Finalize your plan and notate where the recipes are coming from.

I promise, we are almost there! This step is critical! Nothing is worse than coming home on a Thursday and facing a meal plan that says “Orange Chicken” and having no idea (because it’s Thursday and your brain done 50 million things since you made this meal plan) which Orange Chicken recipe you’d planned for or where it is.  I make a key in the corner of my meal plan to remind me where to find the recipes when the time comes.

  1. Make your grocery list.

Et Voila!

P&P Meal Planning 2

I know what you’re thinking – Do I really need eight steps, Vik?

Well, I do.  I’ve learned the hard way that if I want to use my grocery dollars effectively, minimize waste, while keeping my menu varied, this level of planning works for me.

How do you meal plan? What are your best tips and tricks?

Still Here!

Well hi there!

“Whoa, you’re still here?!”

I know, right?! It’s been awhile.  Somehow January 2016 has already become August 2016.  So, what’s new with you?  As ever, I’ve been . . .

. . . Cooking great Paleo dishes . . .

P&P - Paleo Seafood

. . . Enjoying time in the garden . . .

P&P - Tree Peony

. . . Sharing my thoughts on what it means to live royally over at What Would Kate Do? . . .

P&P - WWKD

. . . Reading (A LOT!). . .

P&P - Porch Reading

But mostly, 2016 has been about pulling up my Big Girl Panties and getting my house in order (literally as well as figuratively) and putting my family first.

“That’s great, Vik, but what does it mean for me?” 

I am SO glad you asked! It means I’m awash with some exciting Paleo recipes I’ve been working on, some tips and tricks on making healthy living manageable in real life,  LOTS of books I want to tell you about, and more! Stay tuned for Tuesday’s Meal Planning Bonanza (or how I manage my cookbook “problem”)!

In the meantime, tell me the most exciting thing that’s happened to you so far this year!