The Perfect Cup of Coffee

There is not much better than slow Sunday mornings with my pups, husband, and a good cup of coffee in hand. My love of coffee started in college. I found it easier to study in coffee shops than at home or libraries, so when I wasn’t in classes or working at Gold’s Gym, I was at a local coffee shop, Lakota Coffee Co., studying. It was here that my love of dark, rich, and smooth coffee began. About 10 years ago, I did a week long cleanse and got off caffeine. After going through the withdraws and two day lack of caffeine headache, when I was finished with the cleanse, I decided not to go back to drinking caffeine. I was not, however, willing to give up my daily cup of coffee–so decaf it was! For me, coffee drinking is a whole experience that sparks joy–the smell, the sound of making it, the taste, the feel of the cup in my hand, the warmth as it travels through my body. Today, I’m going to share some of my favorites for making the perfect cup of coffee~both hot and cold brew!

My husband and I haven’t owned a coffee maker in over a decade. If you want a smooth cup of rich coffee a french press is the way to go. Seriously. So much better than drip coffee. I prefer stainless steel french presses to glass ones, as they are less likely to break. I also like the sleek look of them. J drinks caffeinated coffee, so we have two small single serving french presses and two large double serving ones, as well. I found the majority of ours for discounted prices at Marshall’s; however, the one linked above looks great, and is a good price because it comes with a stirring spoon and small frother as well. I scoop 3 heaping scoops of coffee (I tend to buy decaf french roast or decaf espresso roast) into my single serving french press while the water is heating on the stove. Once the water comes to a boil, I pour it in the french press, and then stir for a few seconds.

Some kind of cream or milk in my coffee is a must. I usually add whole whipping cream, half-n-half, Ripple Pea Milk, or sometimes even butter (otherwise known as bullet proof coffee). If I add butter, I blend my hot coffee, butter and collagen powder https://rb.gy/reqbuy in my Vitamix. Most days, however, I go for the cream and/or Ripple pea milk instead. Having hot, frothed milk to pour in my cup of coffee is a game changer. Prior to owning a frother, I used to heat my milk in the microwave because I didn’t want cold milk to make my coffee cooler. Getting a milk frother was one of my best purchases. I have the Breville one listed above. It’s an investment, and I’ve had to replace it a few times over the years, but I use it once, sometimes twice each day, so the cost per use is actually fairly low (and it’s way cheaper over the years than going to a coffee shop regularly!) It also froths cold milk, which is perfect for a cup of cold brew.

When I wake up in the morning, I always want hot coffee; however, when the weather starts to get warmer, I often find I want a cup of cold brew in the afternoon. Cold brew is better than iced coffee, because once again, it is so rich and so smooth, and if you don’t want to add ice to it, you don’t have to, so it doesn’t end up tasting as watered down. For my cold brew coffee, I also purchase decaf french roast. I put 10-12 scoops in the cold brew container shown and linked above, fill it with water, and leave it in my refrigerator over night. The next day, it’s ready to go. (And it actually usually lasts a few days, as it makes 3-4 cups). I pour myself a glass (at home I actually like to use stemless wine glasses for my cup of cold brew), and I use my frother to cold froth milk which I then pour over the top. This makes the perfect cup of cold brew coffee. It is delish! Seriously, who needs Starbucks?

Are you a coffee drinker? If so, how do you like yours? Let me know in the comments below.

***I am not affiliated or sponsored by any of the brands mentioned above, but I wish I was.***

Spring Mani Inspiration

Spring is in the air, and that means I am now reaching for my favorite spring manicure polishes. During the spring months, I find myself wanting to paint my nails mostly soft, pastel colors. The following polishes are all ones I’ve owned for many years, and I come back to over and over again. I would highly recommend them all!

OPI Mod About You https://bit.ly/3faD6UJ

OPI Mod About You is one of my longest owned colors, and I have actually used it all up and repurchased another bottle. This says a lot about how much I love this polish since I’ve collected so many different colors over the years, yet I reach for this one over and over and over again. Mod About You is the most perfect opaque, white, pink. It is spring in a bottle!

OPI Funny Bunny
https://bit.ly/2PmQbzx

Really, what says spring more than bunnies? OPI Funny Bunny is sheer, white perfection. This color is another one I’ve had for many years, and I’ve repurchased. It is the classic, sheer, spring version of OPI Alpine Snow. A must-have, IMO.

OPI You’re Such A BudaPest https://bit.ly/3996Gq8

OPI You’re Such A BudaPest is the perfect periwinkle color. The photo makes it look mostly purple, but this polish has just the right amount of blue to make it a little extra interesting. It’s a unique and beautiful nail color I wear often during the springtime on both my fingernails and toes!

Essie Go Ginza
https://bit.ly/39tA5LV

Essie Go Ginza is another polish in the purple color family; however, this one has no blue tint at all. It is a light lilac shade. It has a slight whitish tint to the hue. It’s the perfect springy, pastel purple.

Essie Van D’ Go
https://amzn.to/39cn1dw

Peach is another color that reminds me of spring, and Essie’s Van D’ Go is a beautiful light, white, peachy color. It is opaque, yet soft and easy to wear. It almost feels like a neutral on the nails.

These are my go-to spring nail polish colors. Which one is your favorite?

***I am not sponsored by or affiliated with any of the brands included in this post, but I wish I was!***

Meal Prep Sunday: Tips, Recipes, & Favorite Kitchen Gadgets

Cooking is not an activity I enjoy or look forward to doing, but I do love to eat. This past year my husband and I have not eaten out at a restaurant.  We have ordered take-out a few times, but mostly, we have been eating at home. That makes for a lot of cooking.  After working all day, I do not want to come home and spend a lot of time in the kitchen, so meal prep Sunday has become a must.  Today I will share some of my favorite meal prepping recipes and tips, as well as three of my must-have kitchen gadgets!

Many years ago, I purchased a Vitamix.  This purchase was one I put off making for months because I couldn’t wrap my brain around spending that much money on a kitchen appliance.  Then, after breaking three blenders trying to make recipes such as homemade hummus and finding out that the Vitamix had a 7 year warranty, I took the plunge, and I have never looked back. (I bought ours with a 20% off coupon from Bed, Bath, & Beyond. It is so old Vitamix doesn’t even make the exact model we have anymore-see photo above, so I linked a similar one under the photo. QVC often has sales on their Vitamix options, so I’d recommend checking the website regularly for a discounted price. ) I will never be without a Vitamix. This was hands down the best kitchen appliance purchase I have ever made.  I LOVE my Vitamix and use it daily.  It makes the absolute best and smoothest smoothies.  It can make nut butters.  It can make hummus.  It can make hot soups. The Vitamix can do All. The. Things.  It also is incredibly easy to clean with very few parts, which was another huge selling point for me. 

While I haven’t utilized my air fryer as much as I know I could (the air fryer recipes are endless), we still use it on the regular. I’ve found it is far superior for reheating foods (which we do a lot because we meal prep), than the microwave. It keeps those things I am reheating crisp (when they are supposed to be crispy), and soft (when they are supposed to be soft).  I also love the air fryer for quickly cooking veggies. I know I have many more air fryer recipes to explore, and I look forward to doing so!

Another kitchen gadget I love to use is a slow cooker. Recipes that entail simply adding all the ingredients to the slow cooker, turning it on, and leaving it to do its thing bring me joy.  A lot of the time on meal prep Sundays a slow cooker recipe is involved!

At least once a month, I meal prep taco meat—usually hamburger, although last time I chose to cook chorizo, and it was delicious and a nice change in flavor!  I also saute’ some onions and peppers separate from the meat, so we can have fajita taco salads at least once or twice that following week.  Once the meat and onions and peppers are prepared, it’s just a matter of getting out all the toppings you enjoy: lettuce, sour cream, salsa, olives, tomatoes, cilantro, avocado, & cheese are our favorites.

Along with taco salads, salsa chicken in the slow cooker is another regular meal on rotation in our home.  I just throw some frozen chicken breasts, sliced onions, sliced bell pepper, and a jar of salsa in the slow cooker, and let it cook for the day.  This makes for a great fajita chicken salad, quesadilla filling, or chicken tacos.

Another slow cooker recipe we love is this Mississippi Mud Pot Roast: https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a51301/mississippi-roast-recipe/  We usually add mushrooms in ours, as well. It is so delicious!

Throughout the colder months, we almost always make some kind of soup on the weekend.  We usually double recipes to ensure we have enough for plenty of leftovers.  Left-over soups are often even better than the day you make them. If it ends up being too much, we freeze the rest to enjoy in the future.  I’ve written about some of my favorite soup recipes here: https://lesliekershaliving.com/2020/11/08/top-five-favorite-fall-winter-soups/

I am blessed to have a husband who is a great cook. He often meal preps by grilling and/or smoking different kinds of meat:  Smoked BBQ pork, grilled chicken, hamburgers, and brats are some of our favorites.  When we are ready to eat them in the evening during the work week, I can easily make a salad or throw some veggies in the air fryer to complete the meal.

Meal prep Sunday also usually includes a full meal casserole or skillet dish. These are all relatively simple and some of our favorites: 

This low carb zucchini lasagna recipe is one I come back to over and over. (I usually substitute Italian sausage for the hamburger): https://www.savorytooth.com/zucchini-lasagna/  

I also enjoy this Bacon Cheeseburger Cauliflower Casserole:   https://www.sugarfreemom.com/recipes/bacon-cheeseburger-cauliflower-casserole/ Sometimes I “rice” my own cauliflower in the Vitamix, but I often buy organic cauliflower already riced from the freezer section of the grocery store, as this cuts down on time in the kitchen as well. I also sometimes buy real bacon pieces and use that if I want to take less time. These are also great for salad toppings.

Southern Fried Cabbage & Sausage is another one that is on regular rotation in our house:  https://www.food.com/recipe/southern-fried-cabbage-with-sausage-507731

This One Skillet Egg Roll in a bowl recipe always hits the spot: https://www.theseasonedmom.com/egg-roll-in-a-bowl/  (We usually substitute Bragg Liquid Aminos for soy sauce for my body’s dietary preferences.)

These are some of my favorite meal prepping recipes, tips, and kitchen gadgets.  Sunday meal prep makes the work week feel so much better to me.  I already have a menu for the meals we will be eating each night and very little time is spent to get them ready to eat after work. Do you meal prep?  Any recipes you love?  Please share!

***I am not sponsored or affiliated with any of the brands linked, but I wish I was!***

A Message of Hope

Years ago, I listened to a podcast with author and researcher, Brene’ Brown, and she described the importance of experiencing disappointments in life in order to learn and know hope.  She was specifically talking about parents who swoop in to guard their children from every disappointment in life, and how those same kids are missing out on the important life skill of learning about hope. She describes hope as a cognitive process more than a feeling. This idea and the relationship between disappointment and hope has stuck with me.

Most of us would probably agree that the year 2020 was filled with disappointment. For some, much more disappointment than others. And, with that, 2020 became a year for kids and adults alike to learn more about hope.

I was recently able to get the first dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, and this most definitely has me very hopeful: Hopeful for a life moving forward that allows for eating with friends at restaurants, large family gatherings, concerts, hugs, handshakes, smiles eventually not covered by masks, large and crowded yoga classes with our mats only a few inches apart…I could go on and on and on.

I also hope we never forget. I hope we are a little closer to truly understanding how precious and fragile this life is. I hope we remember human connection is a necessity like the air we breathe, and we should treat all humans kindly, justly, and respectfully. I hope we never forget how truly allowing ourselves to experience the highs and the lows is an important part of being human and healing. I hope we learned how to be more compassionate with ourselves and how to extend that compassion to others. I hope we learned the importance of relaxation and true rest. Along with that, I hope we do not go back to busy but instead place high value on experiencing the simple pleasures of life rather than rushing through it to try and fill it up.

As a recovering Type A personality who can lean towards being a bit controlling (thank goodness for Yoga!), this quote always makes me smile. It could easily be the 2020 motto. Relax. Nothing is under control.  And yet, as we continue to journey through this life, we can remember that we can always choose to invite hope to stay. 

What are you hopeful for? 

Self-Care Sunday

I have been preaching and teaching about the importance of self-care since around 2010.  And while today self-care is a word that has become frequently used—almost to the point of feeling cliché’—I absolutely still believe it is imperative, now more than ever, for all people to practice.

First, it is worth the reminder that self-care is not simply pampering (although pampering can be a tool for self-care).  Self-care is not overindulgence.  Self-care is not being selfish.  Self-care is consciously choosing behaviors that help cultivate a sense of wellbeing in your life and release stress from your mind, body, and soul.

I fully believe when we feel better everything we do and every interaction we have is better. Self-care in some ways is the far opposite of selfishness. Practicing self-care allows our best and highest self to show up for others regularly in the world.

The importance of knowing yourself and knowing how to manage your energy are integral pieces of the self-care puzzle.  Where do you get your energy?  What (and who) fill you up?  What (and who) leave you feeling run down and depleted? What boundaries do you need to create or maintain? What do you need to let go of in your life?  What might you need to add? What is your relationship with play? What is your relationship with rest?  I believe these are all important questions to answer to in order to figure out how to best practice self-care. Self-care can look very different for each person.

I have always known I need a large amount of time alone to refuel my energy level, and the pandemic has solidified that knowing for me.  Don’t get me wrong, I greatly miss people and in person human connection. I yearn for the days I will be able to safely go out to dinner with friends, interact with students more in person, eat lunch with my co-workers, and have large family gatherings again. However, I have enjoyed my time at home alone much of the time during the pandemic. I discovered through the pandemic that in the future I need to make a conscious effort to spend more time at home to replenish my energy. 

What have you learned about yourself and your needs during this time? 

I believe everyone should have some self-care tools in their health & wellness toolbox.  Today, I will be sharing three of my most recent favorite self-care practices with you.

Acupressure mat: https://rb.gy/9zzgdh essential oil: https://rb.gy/a0oees
bolster: https://rb.gy/uymcyy

Cultivating true rest & relaxation.  Over the years, I have realized sitting down does not necessarily equate to rest.  If the mind is racing or the finger is scrolling, perhaps this is not actually restorative rest. Prior to the pandemic, one of my biggest sources or rest was getting a monthly massage.  I have not gotten one now for a very long time. One of the new ways I’ve started integrating deeper rest and relaxation during this time is by spending time on my acupressure mat.  This somehow leaves me feeling similarly to how I felt after a massage: deeply relaxed and at ease. In preparation, I ritualistically set the ambiance (which I feel is a very important and necessary step in creating a sense of ease, rest, & relaxation) in my little yoga room by turning on the electric fire place, turning off the lights, lighting a few candles, diffusing lavender essential oil, turning on meditative music, grabbing a bolster for under my knees, a blanket to cover up with, an eye pillow, and I lie down and rest on my acupressure mat anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes.  While the initial jolt of lying down on the prickly mat is intense, that feeling subsides quickly, and it really does leave me feeling heavenly.

Working with food and my body. I realize this might not be a popular one, but in the past year, I started experimenting with my sugar, gluten, and wine intake, and I noticed that these three things consistently seemed to be the culprits behind waking up feeling tired, bloated and puffy (to the point I often couldn’t put my rings on my fingers in the mornings), and with achy joints.  While I have experimented with many ways of eating over the years (thank you very much, Diet Culture), I now believe fully there is no one right way for everyone to eat. Each person needs to figure out how to eat in order to feel healthy, energized, and well~while still enjoying food. For me, at this point in my life, I need to leave white sugar and gluten behind and limit my alcohol intake in order to feel my best. Since I’ve made these changes, I definitely feel better!

Walking outside in nature. Now that the weather is warming up, I am making myself get outside to walk regularly.  I’ve also begun focusing on walking to relax rather than to “get a workout.”  It has started to feel like meditation in motion. The fresh air and movement is healing.  It is amazing how a short walk can clear my head and energize my body.

Once again, Self-care is consciously choosing behaviors that help cultivate a sense of wellbeing in your life and release stress from your mind, body, and soul.

Do you need to revamp or amp up your self-care practices? If so, commit. You can do it! And, if you need to hear this: You are worth it.

***I am not currently affiliated with any of the brands linked or mentioned, but I wish I were.***

Peace Out, Winter: Spring Fever Favorites

While I appreciate all four seasons, I wish winter lasted only one month–let’s have some snow over Christmas, and then call it good, can we? By the end of January, I am yearning for the feeling of LIFE: color, flowers blooming, the return of leaves, and green grass to walk barefoot on. February always feels like the longest month. Then, finally March arrives and feels so hopeful to me, as spring is right around the corner. I also appreciate the longer hours of daylight that comes along with spring. There is just a different energy during springtime, and I love it! I also look forward to moving my winter clothes, and shoes, and coats, and scarves, and hats (and all. the. winter. things.) to the back of my closet, and pulling out my springtime favorites. Here are a few of of my spring favorites I am looking forward reuniting with!

adidas Adilette Comfort Slide https://rb.gy/o6fstu

I have no doubt one of the reasons winter feels so constricting to me is that my feet like to be FREE. I prefer being barefoot most of the time, but a good comfortable sandal is second best. I remember wearing slides as a teenager, and I was thrilled to see the style come back around a few years ago. These adidas slides are dreamy. I highly recommend the adilette comfort slides over the regular ones as the extra padding feels so good. I also love everything silver, so there’s that. (There are many other colors available if your silver love doesn’t run as deep as mine.) I cannot wait to slip these on with a pair of shorts and sweatshirt this spring!

Lou & Grey Signaturesoft Plush Drawstring Shorts https://rb.gy/desdnq

The shorts I will be wearing this spring are the Lou & Grey Signaturesoft Plush Drawstring shorts from The Loft. Lou & Grey signature soft anything (shorts, joggers, sweatshirts, etc.) feel heavenly. The only downside is that once your body and skin get used to the feel of Lou & Grey Signaturesoft, anything else you wear feels rough and scratchy. But, they are still worth it! I have this pair in grey and black, and they will be on rotation all spring and summer.

EllandEmm Bisou Bisou https://rb.gy/2zm0xk

Prior to the pandemic I owned one sweatshirt and two hoodies. I just wasn’t into them. Well, that has changed, and EllandEmm sweatshirts are now some of my favorite. They are playful and stylish and incredibly soft. I can’t think of a more appropriate spring sweatshirt than one that says, “Bisou Bisou,” can you?

Some of my favorite sunnies

Because there are more hours of daylight in spring, and I am outside frequently, I find I reach for my sunnies more often. Sunglasses are some of my favorite accessories, and I tend to like ones that make a statement. I’ve acquired quite the collection over the years. I always keep them in their cases when they aren’t on my face, so they last a very long time. Cites like nordstromrack and saksoff5th are my favorite for finding sunglass deals!

Nordstrom Moonlight Short Pajamas https://rb.gy/zoj2gz

I usually wear different pajamas in the spring and summer than I do in the fall and winter months. These pajamas cannot be beat. They are so soft and comfortable and cute. I am definitely looking forward to pulling them back out for spring.

it cosmetics Hyrdrating Serum Lip gloss stain in Je Ne Sais Quoi https://rb.gy/85z7df

Lastly, nothing says spring like a fresh, glossy, pink lip. This lipgloss serum from itcosmetics conditions the lips with shea butter, jojoba, and avocado oils. It is smooth and glossy without feeling sticky (I do not like sticky glosses), and the color Je Ne Sais Quoi is supposed to turn the perfect shade of pink based on your unique body chemistry. This color is also available in lipstick and a lip balm if you prefer those to glosses.

These are all some of my springtime tried and true favorites. Peace out, Winter. Spring, I’m ready for ya!

***I am not sponsored by or affiliated with any of these brands, although I wish I was!***

Adorn Yourself: Nickel & Suede

Nickel & Suede Hammered Gold Aster Hoop Leather Earrings

I blame my mother for my love of jewelry. At 18 months old she took me to have my ears pieced. She said I cried for about 10 seconds and then looked in the mirror, saw the shiny studs in my ears, and I was “all smiles.” I’ve loved jewelry ever since. Choosing what jewelry I will adorn myself with has become a sort of morning ritual. At home, throughout the pandemic, I have looked forward to deciding what jewelry I will wear for the day~with my lounge wear. There is just something about putting on jewelry that instantly lifts my mood.

A few years ago, I thought I was going to have to give up my love of large, statement earrings because my little baby earring holes had been so stretched over the many years of big earring wearing. However, a Missouri, woman-owned business I discovered, and now LOVE, brought my large earring groove back. The following is a little about the owner directly from the Nickel & Suede website: https://www.nickelandsuede.com/

Everything I have received from Nickel & Suede, down to the detail of packaging, has been perfection. The earrings are truly feather weight and beautiful! I follow Kilee on instragram and have learned that beyond her being a highly successful business woman who now owns three store fronts (K.C. Plaza, Liberty, MO, & Dallas, TX) in addition to her online business, she is also a mother of 5 boys. This is the type of woman and business I want to support! I have always ordered Nickel & Suede earrings online, but I plan to visit the KC Plaza store with a friend or two as soon as this darn pandemic is under control! Let me know if you’d like to join.

Today, I wanted to share about this woman-owned business and some of my favorite Nickel & Suede earrings:

Nickel & Suede Silver Leaf Leather Earrings

The Silver Leaf Leather Earrings were the first pair of Nickel & Suede earrings I purchased years ago. I remember being SO excited to be able to wear big earrings again. And, while I love a big earring, I went for a size Medium in these, as they are quite the statement.

Nickel & Suede Cork Leather Earrings

When I saw the same shape earrings in cork, I couldn’t resist those either. Size Medium, and oh so unique!

Nickel & Suede Silver Leaf Nova Leather Earrings

The Silver Leaf Nova Leather Earrings are some of my favorite to wear during the warmer months with a simple, summery, black dress. If you throw on these babies with some cute sandals and a bag, you are ready to go!

Nickel & Suede Superstar Hoop Silver Leaf Leather Earrings

The Superstar Hoop Silver Leaf Leather earrings are probably one of my favorites, and they will always be remembered as my pandemic earrings. At the start of the stay at home order, I purchased these online and wore them almost daily. The sparked a little bit of joy each time I put them on!

Nickel & Suede Hammered Gold Aster Crescent Hoop Leather Earrings

These are the beauties I received in the mail last night, and they are what sparked my inspiration for this blog post. (I love to share what I love.) Are they not absolutely divine? For many years, I was a solely silver jewelry wearing girl; however, during the pandemic I found myself reaching for some old, gold jewelry, and I decided I now liked wearing it again, too. These are the perfect gold, statement earrings. You can bet I’ll be will be wearing them all weekend at home!

***I am not sponsored by or affiliated with Nickel & Suede, but I wish I was! You can find all these earrings and so many more on the website: https://www.nickelandsuede.com/ Adorn yourself.

Top Ten Netlix Recs

Especially during the cold, winter months, Netflix is a favorite source of entertainment in our home. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed watching Netflix series as much as movies. Throughout the heaviness of living during this pandemic, the following series were welcomed escapes and fun to watch.

The first three recommendations are all ones my husband and I watched together and both enjoyed.  We actually watched Schitt’s Creek years ago, and loved it so much, we recently started watching from the beginning again.  This in and of itself says a lot about how much enjoyment we got watching this family because we usually do not watch a series more than one time. It’s just that good. Seriously. After starting from the beginning a second time it is even more apparent how much the characters grow and change throughout the series.  This is an over-the-top family that you can’t help but love, and they provide plenty of laugh out loud moments. (If you finish watching Schitt’s Creek, and love it as much as we did, you will also want to check out the documentary on Netflix about the making of the series: Best Wishes, Warmest Wishes: A Schitt’s Creek Farewell.)

If someone told me I’d be interested in watching a series about chess, I would probably not have believed them.  However, I was easily sucked in to this coming of age story of an orphaned chess prodigy.  While The Queen’s Gambit isn’t as light hearted as some of the others I’m recommending, it is a rich drama filled with moments of hope and triumph.  Whether you like chess or not, you should check it out. And, like Schitt’s Creek, there is also a documentary, Creating The Queen’s Gambit, currently on Netflix about the making of this series.

Kim’s Convenience is another comedy with a family that is easy to grow to love.  The Kims own a Korean Canadian convenience store and have raised two children, now in their twenties. This family provides a great deal or humor as well as depth. If you like Schitt’s Creek, this is another one you will probably enjoy!

The next six recommendations are all series I watched on my own (no husband involved, and if we had children, they would not have been in the room while I was watching as all of them have some risque’ moments!) Grace & Frankie is probably one of my all-time favorite Netflix comedies.   It highlights two women whose husbands leave them to purse a relationship together~which they had been hiding for 20 years. The women are vastly different but slowly become best friends. Grace & Frankie is a show about friendship, family, love, and growing older. It is one that I was truly sad to see come to an end.

Firefly Lane  is the series I am currently watching. It’s another one about women friendships; however, on this one, the two main characters have been friends since their childhood. They come from vastly different families but grew up on the same road: Firefly Lane. This is another one that I know when I finish Season 1, it will feel like too long to wait for Season 2 to arrive in my Netflix queue.

Emily in Paris is a series I would consider a bit goofy and very lighthearted, but sometimes that feels like exactly the entertainment I am seeking. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the sights of Paris and the fashion and style on this show as well.

Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce reminds me of Sex in the City except it is set in L.A. instead of New York, and is about middle aged women going through divorce rather than 20-somethings looking for love. The main character is a writer who is going through a divorce. While divorce is no laughing matter, I found myself cracking up much of the time watching it. This series would easily be in my top five comedy series ever. I felt like I was hanging out with my own group of girlfriends while watching it. It’s so good!

Working’ Moms is hilarious. Even without having children of my own, I loved it. Just watch. You’ll see.

Dead to Me is a bit of a wild ride. I don’t want to say too much here, but it’s about two women who meet in a grief group and build a friendship. They are connected in a way one of the women knows about and the other doesn’t. There are a lot of twists and turns in this one. Like I said, it’s a wild ride.

The final recommendation isn’t a series, but a movie J and I watched last weekend, so it’s fresh in my mind. Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a strange and quirky movie, and I highly recommend it! We have a local, small movie theater in town, Rag Tag Cinema, that shows creative and artsy movies, and I kept thinking the entire time we watched this flick that it reminds me of something we would have seen at Rag Tag. (Oh how I long for the days I will feel comfortable watching a movie again outside of my home!) Hunt for the Wilderpeople is described as a New Zealand adventure comedy drama about a boy and his foster father. If you don’t want to commit the time to watching an entire series, this movie is a fun, and shorter, yet adventurous, ride.

I’m curious: what Netflix shows make up some of your top ten favorites?

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

I am by no means a sleep expert, but I can sincerely tell you I have always loved my sleep. Even as far back as my teenage years, I have intuitively known I simply feel better when I’m well rested. And to this day, I highly value and prioritize my sleep. Sleep science is now starting to show us how important our sleep actually is: It is during this time that our brain and body are actively repairing. Sleep is central to good health. Years ago at the Women’s Wellness Conference in CoMO, the keynote speaker, Dr. Sara Gottfried shared about the importance of deep sleep and HRV balance for long-term health and wellness. She showed us her Oura ring she used to track her sleep data. I ended up buying an Oura ring shortly after that conference. (Quick tip: If you get on Youtube and look for reviews on products, you can often find discount codes. Another quick tip: If you buy one, make sure to order the sizer, so you know the correct size to order.)

I love my Oura ring. It is lightweight and easy to wear while sleeping. (I am not one who usually sleeps in jewelry, and I can’t imagine sleeping in my big, bulky Apple watch.) This little ring tracks all kinds of data, but I mainly use it for sleep information. It provides me with information about my total sleep, efficiency, restfulness, REM sleep, deep sleep (always shooting for over 2 hours according to Dr. Gottfried–which is a challenge for me), and latency. It also gives me an overall readiness score for the day which includes information about resting heart rate, HRV balance, body temperature, recovery index, and the previous night’s sleep score. Last night was a particularly good night sleep for me as you can see from the data below.

Prior to Dr. Gottfried’s talk, I had never heard about the importance of HRV balance and sleep. This morning, I got an email from Oura that shared the following information regarding HRV:

“HRV (heart rate variability) is a measure of the variation of time between your heartbeats. It’s a highly personal metric, and one of the key indicators of your recovery status, overall health, and fitness level.

In general, your HRV can range anywhere from below 20 to over 200 milliseconds. What’s important is finding your HRV baseline and identifying what activities or factors make it fluctuate.

Next time you check your Readiness score, keep a closer eye on your HRV. Being in touch with your daily score, and noting any habits that affect your HRV, can help you narrow things down, change things up, and discover which habits work best for your overall health.”

It’s been interesting to pay attention to my behaviors and habits and make connections between how they may be helping or hindering my sleep. I have definitely noticed how eating dinner too close to bed time or having a glass of wine usually negatively impacts my quality of sleep. I appreciate the information my Oura ring provides me; however, after having it for a few years and paying attention, these days I am generally in tune enough with my body, when I wake up in the morning, I have a good sense of what the data will indicate before even seeing it.

Having a day where you feel good in your body starts the night before. How are you sleeping these days? Prioritizing sleep is self-care. Does sleep need to be moved up on your priority list?

***I am not sponsored by Oura, but I wish I was!

Simple Pleasures

We are one month in to 2021, and I’m very much still processing 2020. Anyone with me? The year 2020 was a year of questions: What is true? What is real? What is the purpose of life? What will happen next? What does it mean to be safe? When will there be true equality? Why aren’t we there yet? What actually matters most? Who sincerely cares about me? Who and what do I really care about? This list could go on and on. So many questions. I’m still very much working on answers.

One of the lessons of 2020 for me was the big reminder of the importance of focusing on the simple pleasures in life. It is often focusing on the simple pleasures that get me through my day: clean sheets, sunshine on my face, a hot cup of coffee, a beautiful smelling candle, petting my pups, seeing a bright red cardinal out the window, taking a walk, savoring dark chocolate, deep breaths…my list could go on an on. I’ve become a simple pleasures master. Today, I thought I’d share a few of my simple pleasures with you that bring a bit of extra joy.

One of my favorite simple pleasures these days is taking a hot shower. Prior to the pandemic, I enjoyed showers, but I wouldn’t say I looked forward to them. Now, I do. Sometimes they are the highlight of my day. I purchased a 12 inch rain shower head (which I would highly recommend), and there is truly little that compares to having that hot water shower over my entire body. Showering is an opportunity to get really present in the body–feel the sensations, smell the scents, and relax. One of my favorite parts of showering is savoring the smells of different soaps and oils. My current favorites are L’Occitane’s Almond Shower Oil https://rb.gy/rmvzbe, Zum Bar soap-I enjoy all the scents, but especially love Patchouli (I purchase this from Clover’s or Natural Grocers), and Harry’s Fig Body Wash https://rb.gy/dwna3z. All three are very different scents, but I love them all. I shave every day. I love the feeling of having smooth, shaven skin. Up until a few years ago, I used to purchase the cheapest razors I could find. Then, one time I tried out a 5 blade razor, and there was no going back. It is so much smoother and comfortable on my skin. I am currently using Billie razors because they are just that good, and I appreciate the convenience of them being delivered right to my door. https://rb.gy/yvhekb With my natural curly and somewhat unruly hair, (which BTW I’ve totally embraced my curly girl status during this pandemic) a good deep conditioner is a must. I have been using Matrix Biolage Hydrasource Conditioning Balm for probably over 20 years. It’s a must for my hair. https://rb.gy/kehmzc Nothing makes it softer and healthier. Lastly, after I shower, I always put on body lotion. One of my current favorites is Palmer’s Coconut Body Lotion with Vitamin E https://rb.gy/b7ulxy. If you like the smell of coconut, this lotion smells divine and is good for the budget as well! These are all my current shower loves that spark a little extra joy!

The next simple pleasure is one I discovered a few years ago. For me, living in Missouri during the winter months is hard. The lack of light, sunshine, warm weather, and color definitely takes it’s toll on my state of wellbeing. A few years ago an Aldi went in close to where we live, and I started purchasing small bouquets of flowers from there a few times a month during the wintertime. They are usually only around $4 and definitely worth it to me. I noticed that simply having that little pop of color and life in my home made a big difference in how I felt. During the months of January and February, especially, fresh flowers in my home are a simple pleasure I greatly appreciate.

You may have guessed from all my previous posts with playlists that listening to music is another simple pleasure. I appreciate many different types of music; however, most frequently, in my home, I’m trying to cultivate an ambiance of relaxation and peace, so relaxing music is my go-to. This playlist is one I created last winter (when I actually used playlists in my in person yoga classes). If you have Apple Music and you want a new chill & relax playlist to listen to, here you go: https://music.apple.com/us/playlist/yoga-mix-26-winter-flow/pl.u-d2b00PYCMB0RWJ

Once again, it’s the simple pleasures these days that make all the difference. Be intentional about seeking them out, and you’ll find they are everywhere.

***I am not yet sponsored by any of the brands mentioned, but I wish I was!***