Friday Favorite Five

Happy Friday, everyone! Here’s some good stuff for your EOW reading pleasure.

1. 20 things all book lovers wish someone would say to them, via Goodreads

“All rainy days are hereby declared reading only days.” Bring it on, El Niño!

Book, image via Creative Commons
Book, image via Creative Commons

 

2. Infinite Loop: a truly mesmerizing animation short film, via Ufunk

Heaven knows I’ve had days like this.

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3. The Minimalism documentary tour 2016, via The Minimalists

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you already know I’m a fan of these guys, so I can’t wait for the movie. Already got my tickets for SF in May. Go see it in your city!

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4. 5 healthy eating trends that will rule in 2016, via Rodale’s Organic Life

Bowls, seaweed, matcha, adaptogens, and small-batch nut milk: consider me on board for trendy + healthy + delicious! What’s your favorite?

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5. Radically changing the meaning of a movie by adding three letters, via Upvoted

I’m waiting for Point Breaking, the sad tale of my favorite pencil.

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Have a great weekend :-D

 

Your 3-Step Plan for Better Sleep Every Night

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Many of you have probably resolved to sleep better this year. “Sleep better” can mean a number of things: fall asleep faster, stay asleep through the night, sleep more deeply. It could even include goals like practicing lucid dreaming, engaging in polyphasic sleep training, or waking up feeling charged and ready to go.

Researchers generally seem to agree that the activities leading up to bedtime set the stage for what happens when our head hits the pillow. Common advice is to turn off blue-screen devices (like phones and tablets, but not e-readers with e-ink… although whether e-ink strains your eyes just as much is up for debate), do some relaxing yoga, meditate or write in a journal, pray or practice gratitude, don’t eat an hour before bed, pet an animal, and have sex.

All of those are great, but I’m exhausted even typing out that list. Sometimes it’s just too much to remember! Especially when you add in Super Planner pre-bed rituals like setting out your morning workout clothes, choosing your next day’s outfit, doing the dishes, setting the coffeemaker, and — don’t forget — taking off your makeup and adhering to a multi-step skincare ritual.

If you have 45 minutes every night to get ready before you hit the hay, more power to you. The following tips can be incorporated into your luxuriously long routine, too. :-)

If you’re looking for better sleep but just want, y’know, a few things to try, keep reading.

1. Take a Healing Bath

This can be particularly helpful if you’re already used to showering / bathing at night. A warm bath can help prepare your body and mind for sleep, but adding certain ingredients to the tub can help even further.

A ginger bath is an excellent choice for cold, winter nights, or nights when you’re feeling maybe just a tiny bit under the weather — that head cold precursor that you know you could fight if you just took a bath.

An Epsom salt bath is deeply relaxing, can reduce muscle pains from working out (another resolution?), and can help prepare your body for vital restoration overnight.

No need to soak for an hour; just 20 minutes will do the trick.

2. Read Fiction

Research shows that reading fiction for only six minutes a day reduces stress levels by as much as 68%. Note this doesn’t apply to non-fiction, which can sometimes put our minds in planning mode. If you’ve been away from fiction for a while, browse a bestseller list and choose the most appealing one, or go with a classic that you’ve always wished you had read.

3. Have a Relaxing Drink

As tempting as it might be to make that a boozy nightcap, you’re setting yourself up for restlessness if you do. Keep the alcohol with dinner, and make a cup of tea with magnesium, instead. This relaxing mineral will help you drift off to sleep without a care in the world. Let some magnesium powder dissolve in warm water, then add some chamomile tea for extra-sleepy benefits. You’ll be out like a light in no time! (Note: if you’re new to magnesium, be sure to only take a small amount.)

I hope you find these tips useful and beneficial throughout the year. If you have other tips on sleeping well, please add them to the comments! I’d love to hear your ideas :-)

 

Friday Favorite Five: Happy 2016!

 

Spirit Animal for 2016
Spirit Animal for 2016
 
Happy new year, friends! Wishing you a satisfying, gratifying, brave, and successful 2016 😊 Here’s a little roundup of some favorite end-of-year best-ofs and start-of-year to-dos, to help get the new stuff on the right track. Enjoy!

1. 16 career-boosting lists to make in 2016, via The Muse

If you are a list-maker like I am, you’ll get a lot out of these creative suggestions.

2. The top 16 wellness trends of 2016, via Well + Good

I’m super-excited for wellness trends in 2016 (well, always, really), and will be watching this space closely. Stay tuned!

3. The most stylish music videos of 2015, via Fashionista

Now you’re all caught up 😉 It was all SO colorful, except when it was all black. Keeping my eye on Ms Twigs, in particular, for more fashion news. 

4. The top 10 Lifehacker posts of all time, via Lifehacker (duh)

Ten years?! Wow. The site that made us have to ban the word “hack” from my house unless you are actually referring to software hacking has come so far! 👍🏼 These posts are great and worth the perusal. Looking forward to many more life TIPS in 2016!

5. 16 posts that’ll make you excited to be a writer in 2016, via the Boost Blog Traffic Blog

A longread to get through all of them, but inspiring. 

Off to make some lists and get organized 😉 Best wishes for all of your endeavors in the new year!

3 Easy Yoga Poses for Travelers

Traveling is fun! It opens your mind to new experiences and keeps your brain young. But it can be oh so tiring sometimes, especially if you’re on the road during the busiest times of the year. Whether you’re traveling by plane, car, or hoverboard, it’s possible you’ll experience some form of stiffness or fatigue once you finally arrive.

Travelers’ fatigue crosses all economic and body-size boundaries. Limbs cramped in economy seating can stiffen from lack of movement just as easily as those in First Class (this is not scientific knowledge, though I am willing to accept funding for a study!). Fortunately, it’s easy to revitalize quickly with a trio of poses, suitable for all fitness levels. Take it easy, and follow the short sequence below to get refreshed so you can enjoy your worldly experiences.

Legs Up the Wall
Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani)

Legs up the Wall (Viparita Karani)

  1. Sit with your left side against an empty wall L.an backward, then swing your legs up onto the wall.
  2. Lower your back all the way down to the floor Rest your shoulders, back, and head on the floor with your legs resting (feet-up) against the wall.
  3. Place a bolster or firm pillow underneath your low back for extra support.
  4. Stay here for 5 minutes.
  5. To release the pose, slowly push yourself away from the wall and slide your legs to one side.
Easy Pose with Forward Fold
Easy Pose (Sukhasana) with Forward Fold

Easy Pose (Sukhasana) with Forward Fold

  1. Sit on the edge of a firm blanket, bend your knees, and cross your legs in front of you. Inhale deeply.
  2. As you exhale, bow forward over your crossed legs. Rest your arms on the floor or on a bolster or pillow in front of you.
  3. Allow your neck to relax.
  4. Hold for several breaths.
  5. Release and change sides.
Bridge Pose
Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor.
  2. Press your feet and arms into the floor as you lift your hips toward the ceiling.
  3. Keep your thighs and feet parallel.
  4. Roll your shoulders underneath your body, clasp your hands, and extend your arms along the floor beneath your pelvis.
  5. Hold for up to 1 minute.
  6. Exhale as you release, slowly rolling your spine along the floor, one vertebra at a time.

5 Ways To Stay Balanced During The Holidays (That You Might Not Have Thought Of)

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You know all the usual tips for reducing stress: don’t overdo sugar, exercise regularly, carve out solo time, don’t overbook yourself or your family. They’re easy to talk about, but much harder to put into practice sometimes.

Even if you’re following the well-known guidelines for surviving the holidays, craziness and overwhelm can still hit hard. So here are a few more tips, ones you might not have considered, that can help get you through this jolliest — and sometimes most difficult of all — seasons.

1. Ease into your day.

When you start your day by jumping out of bed at the last minute, rushing through a shower and breakfast (or skipping breakfast completely — but you know better than that!), you’re setting yourself up for a day of mania and distress. Often, the foundation we lay right when we wake up sets the tone, mood, and confidence level for the following waking hours.

If you’re not already the first one to wake, set your alarm so you are. When it’s time to get up, spend a few minutes in bed before jumping up. Breathe deeply, begin to attune yourself to the sounds around you. Take your time as you get up, gently stretching. Enjoy a warm drink while doing nothing else, just watching the steam rise and feeling your body settle into wakefulness. Do some simple stretches, or maybe a few squats or lunges. By the time everyone else has risen, you’ll be awake in a calm and clearheaded way.

2. Put your feet in the air.

Sure, putting your feet on the desk at work helps, too. But at the end of a day, especially if you’ve been traveling, working on your feet, or standing in lines, it’s important to reverse the flow of gravity.

Practice Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani) for just 5 minutes, and you’ll be  rested, rejuvenated, and ready for bed or perhaps another round of socializing.

Get the full How-To here. All you need is a yoga mat or blanket and a bare wall or door!

legs_up_the_wall
Illustration by Andrea Drugay

3. Be the one to smile first.

For some, this might sound unfair. Those who give, give, and over-give during the holidays might be more familiar with the feeling of resentment after “always being the one to smile first!” But there’s a good reason to do so. It’s because you know you can.

The holidays can be extremely hard, depressing, isolating, and worse for many people. Other people don’t always have the energy or wakefulness to share a smile first. You, however, are awake and calm. You have followed this blog and read my books and taken to heart the tips presented here, and therefore, you have it in you to be the one to smile first. It doesn’t have to be a toothy grin, a maniacal Hollywood gleam, or anything other than eye contact with a lift of the corners of your mouth. I guarantee, being the one to smile first will reward you with heartfelt smiles in return, over and over again. You just might save someone’s day.

4. Don’t watch or read the news.

For some, this might include not going on Facebook or Twitter, either. It’s important to stay informed. So use this as an opportunity to get social. Put down your phone and actually talk to another human being. Ask them what the big news of the day is. It could lead to some enlightening conversation and perhaps the start of a new friendship.

5. Use long lines as an opportunity to practice mindfulness. 

You’ve heard this one before, but you might have forgotten it. When you’re in a super-long line, don’t just reach for your phone. Don’t grab a magazine off the rack and read the whole thing while you’re standing there. Use the time to come back to your breath. Notice it entering and exiting your body. Feel your feet on the ground and your body in space. Become aware of all of the sounds around you. Become aware of your body’s messages: hunger, energy, emotions. Come back to your breath. Be the one to smile first. Stay present. And enjoy your holidays!

xo, Andrea

 

Friday Favorite Five

1. 20 bizarre gifts for under $5 on Amazon, via Mashable

Sharing mostly because I can’t believe this cute Nessie ladle is only $2.

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2. 20 stylish ’70s movies everyone should see, via GQ

From the fetish-y Clockwork Orange to super-preppy Love Story, it’s impossible to pick a fave.

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3. Can you pass this financial literary test? via BoingBoing

Only 33% of 150k people in 140 countries could. Yikes. Take the test, then if you’re feeling wobbly about your answers, maybe check out some free finance courses online at Khan Academy (not a paid promotion, just a personal favorite).

Deposit your budget for investment

4. 20 misused English words that make smart people look silly, via Quartz

A friendly reminder from your neighborhood grammar girl.

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5. If Pantene is so good, why isn’t it sold in salons? via The Beauty Brains

It’s so controversial! DOES it coat your hair? Make it fall out? Or is it just business politics at play? Listen to the podcast and find out (Pantene info starts around 13:20).

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Have a great weekend! :-D

 

Coconut Flour Muffins (Gluten-Free, No Sugar Added)

Coconut Flour Muffins (Gluten-Free, No Sugar Added)
Coconut Flour Muffins (Gluten-Free, No Sugar Added)

Exciting news coming up, friends. There’s a new book in the works! Actually, there are three, and I plan to release them as a bundle once they’re all ready. They’re unlike anything you’ve seen from me yet. They are — are you ready? — cookbooks! I’ve finally taken some time to gather my baking recipes from this blog and add a few others I’ve had up my sleeve… If all goes as planned, the first book will be ready for you by Christmas! Stay tuned :-)

So with that out of the way, here’s one of the recipes that will definitely be included in one of the books. It’s a recent favorite because it’s very quick and easy, the muffins are delicious, and this version is actually healthy. Think about it: how often do you really eat a “healthy” muffin? Trust me, once you try these, you’ll understand what I mean by delicious and healthy.

Coconut flour is flour made from the dried meat of defatted coconuts. So, like coconut meat, it is high in fiber and low in carbohydrates. It’s also lower on the glycemic index than other flours like wheat. It’s great for those who are gluten-free or Paleo!

Coconut Flour Muffins (Gluten-Free, No Sugar Added)
Coconut Flour Muffins (Gluten-Free, No Sugar Added)

These little muffins are super-easy to whip up and only take 15 minutes to bake, so you can have them at the ready in the morning or with dinner. They are subtly sweet and buttery, with no single overwhelming flavor, making them a great addition to breakfast or a larger meal.

Baking with coconut flour is a little different than working with other gluten-free flours. It absorbs a lot of liquid, hence the extra egg(s), but that helps it stay moist and delicious, even for next-day eating. These muffins don’t rise the way, say, a traditional blueberry muffin might — they are kind of like a cornbread muffin, a little more compact. They are, howeverwonderfully non-crumbly, which is helpful if you’re a mess when you eat like, ahem, some of us might be.

Speaking of cornbread muffins, I’ll bet these would be great with a frittata or vegan frittata on a cold, winter morning…

For variations, you could fold in berries, nuts, or even sugar-free chocolate chips! If you make any changes to the recipe, I’d love to hear. Leave a message in the comments with your alternative.

Enjoy :-)

Coconut Flour Muffins

Ingredients: 

  • 1/4 cup coconut flour (I used Coconut Secret)
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter or Earth Balance
  • 2 Tbsp. milk or milk alternative
  • 1/4 tsp. liquid stevia
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Thoroughly grease 6 muffin cups with butter, Earth Balance, or coconut oil. I prefer this method over using muffin/cupcake liners because of the compact size of these muffins.
  3. In a small bowl, sift together the coconut flour and baking soda until integrated.
  4. In a separate, medium-sized bowl, mix together the eggs, butter, milk, stevia, salt, and vanilla.
  5. Gradually add the flour mix to the wet mix and stir until smooth.
  6. Pour batter into muffin cups.
  7. Bake at 400F for 15 minutes.
  8. Serve warm or keep covered until serving.

Just a reminder: all product recommendations are my own and are not sponsored or paid for in any way!

Adjust the recipe as necessary for your needs and tastes. You can determine the nutritional content of your final product using Recipe Calculator.