#TreatMoment How I take a breath, recenter, and power through a busy week

Hi friends! Coming at you from the beginning of yet another busy day. This hustle lifestyle doesn’t seem like it’ll slow down anytime soon (40-hr workweek, freelance assignments, gym time, friends and family, holidays rapidly approaching), so I’m here today to share the ways I indulge without getting totally off-track.

Living healthfully is super important to me. I make every effort to exercise consistently, eat a balanced diet, and get enough sleep. This means that I miss out on some stuff: pizza for lunch, cocktails while I make dinner, sleeping in, late-night texting conversations. BUT, it also means that, when I do treat myself, it feels like a special treat. Not just a normal Wednesday.

Being conscious of these treat moments is one of my secrets to staying positive when I am overscheduled to the max. Taking 15 minutes for a treat moment re-ups my motivation, so I’m ready to keep going.

Your treat moments will likely be different than mine. But these ideas can almost always make me feel better momentarily and reset my attitude. Which means I feel better in the long-run. Win-wine (I mean win-win. Genuine typo that I refuse to correct 😜 ).

TREAT MOMENTS:

  • Eat something indulgent. This one is tricky. It’s super-easy to set out to eat one indulgent thing and end up finding last year’s Christmas candy where you hid it from yourself in January. Been there.

    But, and here’s the secret, if you plan the one indulgence and think of it as one treat, not the beginning of a series of treats, it can totally work. For me, this may be a trip to Andy’s Frozen Custard (concrete with peanut butter and raspberries, thank you) or ordering the fried chicken sandwich for lunch.
    This tip does not work for me if I “treat myself” to the stale cookies I found in the pantry. It’s like my brain knows that the cookies were a consolation prize for the indulgence I really wanted. Eating those stale cookies is a way more consistent trigger for an emotional eating backslide than eating one perfect slice of cake.

    Since I don’t keep food like this around the house, I have to go out of my way to indulge, which makes this work even better: if I know that I want to get my HyVee Chinese food for dinner (don’t judge, it’s weirdly good while also being total junk), I eat clean-as-hell the rest of the day, and the next day, too. That doesn’t mean I starve myself, but it does mean that I stay away from grains and load up on the veggies.

    Purposeful indulgence is better than mindless gorging. This I know is true.
  • Rest your eyes. Really.

    Last Sunday, I was dead on my feet. I’d been out late the night before, had spent the day exercising and doing chores, and my eyes had the heavy, watery feeling they have before you fall asleep involuntarily in front of the T.V. I was about to go make myself coffee, but I did something different: I set a timer for 20 minutes, and I closed my eyes. Did anyone else’s parents do this? Mine did, and now I totally get why. I still had stuff to do, it was too late in the day to take a for-real nap, but I just needed to power down for a few minutes. I lay there under a cozy blanket, in the dark (since 4:30 is basically pitch-black now), and dozed.

    I didn’t feel like a brand new woman or anything when the timer went off, but I did feel like I could power through the rest of the afternoon without coffee. Huge victory.
  • Make time (even a little time!) for the thing you love. In a crazy busy week, the kind where I’m going,going,going from the time my feet hit the floor until bedtime, I try and find at least fifteen minutes each day to read. Sometimes this means taking an afternoon treadmill walk with my book (hey, two birds, one stone, ok?) or it can be while dinner roasts in the oven.
    I love reading and learning new things, and making time for that hobby helps me feel like a crazy week is more in my control.
  • Have a date night. This one is truly the hardest to pull off, for several reasons. When my weeks are busy, that means I have likely scheduled events and tasks within an inch of their lives, so rescheduling for date night feels next to impossible. BUT, with enough elbow grease, it can normally happen. Maybe the two hours of work I needed to do in the evening can happen with an early wake-up call and a desk lunch the next day.
    Downside of winter date nights is terrible lighting.

    The second obstacle is ensuring that I’m not so stressed from the week that I am a total grouch during said date night. This one I am still working on.

    A date night can be theatre tickets you’ve been looking forward to for weeks, or even just wine and UNO on the couch. No T.V. though! If I want to stare at a screen without talking for hours at a time, I’ll go back to work 😂

    Even spending just 20 intentional date minutes together is better than nothing. Maybe taking the time to drink coffee together before the day really starts? (Note to self: this sounds lovely, and we should actually do that more often.) It’s easier to hustle through a packed day if you start with something to smile about!


I know I’m not the only one with a jam-packed schedule. My freelance deadline is your carpool to soccer practice or marathon training or having a way-cleaner house than I do. Pretty please share your treat moments in the comments!  I’m sure we all need all the ideas we can get.

MAKEUP CORNER//My highly emotional journey to finding a new favorite lipstick

You guys may know me for long rants on organization and easy recipes, but I haven’t talked a lot about my other love here: makeup 👄

Bite Beauty lip in Beetroot

I have loved makeup for as long as I can remember. For a long, long time, I was only allowed to wear neutral eyeshadow, clear (CLEAR!) mascara, and blush. As an adult, I totally get the why of these rules, but that doesn’t mean the preteen me liked it. I remember applying multiple layers of a champagne-colored eyeshadow from lashline to browbone, coating on that clear mascara, and heading off to a high school football game (I was probably 14).

Don’t worry, my makeup skills have improved over the years. But I am still just as obsessed. I’m not the woman that needs a full face to hit the gym or the grocery store, but you best believe I take a good hour to get glam before an event (or a random date night, if I’ve got the time).

Makeup has always been more than just fun for me, though. I’ve had acne since I was nine. I literally don’t remember what it’s like to have clear skin, and it’s possible that I’ll never have that experience. In the past five years or so, a bold lip or fake lashes (or both if you’re lucky 😍) have been a way to take control of my face. I don’t think that either of these accessories totally hide the acne — I know that they don’t — but manipulating my face in a way that I can totally control makes me feel confident about my looks in a new way.

If you have a big pimple, wear a really bold lip. #distraction
Bite Beauty lip in Hazelnut

Almost six months ago, Grant was diagnosed with new allergies to several really common cosmetic chemicals. Like really common. His dermatologist supplied us with a PDF of “safe” products, and you know what wasn’t on there? A single lipstick that I owned.

I am not proud to tell you that I cried. My poor husband was physically suffering, and I was crying over vanity. (In fact, I’m writing this in public and just had to take a bathroom break to pull myself together.) In the months leading up to this diagnosis, I’d been using Lipsense (I’m sure a FB friend or two of yours sells this permanent lipstick), including on our wedding day. It’s a two-step application, including a gloss. The SECOND ingredient of the gloss, which I had been wearing daily, is one of G’s new allergens. His poor lips had been splitting on a regular basis after being exposed to my stupid, vain lipgloss.

Wearing my beloved Lipsense: One coat of Fly Girl and two coats of Sheer Berry.

I also had to replace hair and body products, but nothing hit me quite as hard as my lipstick collection. I took the PDF of safe products to Ulta, and they didn’t carry a single thing that was safe for me to use.

I cried in an Ulta. I was a mess.

After a lot of tears and some journaling, I came to those realizations I outlined above. The why of my emotional reaction changed everything. Yes, lipstick is superficial, but it’s also really important to me. 

So, after all of that, my mom and I went to Sephora, where I found my NEW holy grail lipstick.

Bite Beauty lip in Fig

Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche. It’s creamy, moisturizing, long-wear if you blot it well enough, heavily pigmented, AND the colors are named after foods. PERFECT. The formula is made of edible oils, and the ingredients are a lot cleaner than the average lip color. AND, it’s safe for my boo, which is the real end-all, be-all qualification. (I wouldn’t call this formula kiss-proof, but it’s definitely quick-peck-proof, as long as you blot first.)

Wedding-ready in Bite Beauty lip in Gazpacho

Honorable mention: Bobby Brown Art Stick. Also really good, but not as wide of a color range, and not quite as creamy.

Hazelnut, Fig, Radish, Beetroot, Gazpacho, Jam, Cayenne, and Ginger, all by Bite Beauty.

Pumpkin banana bread with chocolate chips (plus a vegan life update!)

By my count, Grant and I have been eating semi-vegan for about seven months. For us, this means our meals at home are plant-based (lots of lentils and beans), but G will occasionally order seafood when we’re out. I still eat eggs and yogurt pretty regularly and order whatever the hell I want at a restaurant.

We’re doing this to address Grant’s allergies, but for a few other reasons, as well: high-quality, responsibly sourced meat is expensive. We’re talking now about reintroducing poultry upon occasion (I miss my roasted chicken now that it’s cold outside), but saving money by getting protein from plant sources has been great. It’s also been fun experimenting with new vegan recipes (this creamy pasta, vegan queso, and my daal have all been hits). I’ve had a few fails, but nothing inedible. A slightly crunchy bean can’t make you sick like a slightly raw chicken breast can!

The biggest hurdle has been vegan baking. Grant has been allergic to dairy since babyhood, so I’ve long-since conquered dairy-free baking. But cutting out eggs (a childhood allergy of his that’s reemerged in adulthood) has been so difficult. Eggs are integral in so many baked goods. They add structure, lift, and moisture. At most health food stores, you can find vegan egg substitutes, but I tend stay away from single-use products like that. I don’t mind buying cashew or coconut milk because those alternatives have a bunch of purposes: oatmeal, creamy sauces, Oreo dipping.

After some trial and error, I’ve settled on my go-to vegan egg substitute for baking: flaxseed meal! It’s relatively inexpensive, multipurpose (I often add it to smoothies and oatmeal), and full of nutrition. Win-win.

You can buy whole flax and grind it yourself or buy flaxseed meal. You want to store both in the fridge or freezer.

To make a “flax egg,” you combine one tablespoon of flaxseed meal with two tablespoons water, and let it sit for a few minutes. The water hydrates the meal, and it thickens and gels. Word on the street is that this substitute works best for sturdy baked goods, like quick breads. I wouldn’t try and use this in a delicate cookie.

My greatest vegan baking success to date is this pumpkin banana bread. It’s moist, well-spiced, and totally vegan; it’s delicious warm with (vegan) butter (this is our favorite) and cold out of the fridge. It also froze and defrosted well!


Pumpkin banana bread with chocolate chips

Makes one 9×13 pan (leftovers freeze well!)

3 c all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp Kosher salt

½ tsp baking powder

1 ½ tsp cinnamon

¾ tsp ginger

½ tsp cloves

¼ tsp nutmeg

1 c granulated sugar

½ c brown sugar

⅔ c vegetable oil

1/2 c applesauce

2 flax eggs (2 tbsp of flaxmeal + 4 tbsp of water, combine and let sit for ~10 mins)

1 c pumpkin puree

1 c mashed banana

1 c vegan chocolate chips (the regular chocolate chips at Trader Joe’s and Costco are vegan)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9×13 pan.

  2. Combine flour through spices with a whisk in a medium bowl.

  3. In a large bowl, mix sugars, oil, applesauce, and flax eggs until well-combined. Add pumpkin and banana and mix again.

  4. Add flour mixture to liquids bowl and carefully combine with spatula (do not overmix).

  5. Fold in chocolate chips.

  6. Pour into 9×13 pan, and bake for 25-35 minutes, until only a few crumbs stick during the toothpick test.

    Notes: The applesauce also adds some moisture that an egg would have.

    I chose to bake this in a 9×13, rather than loaf pans, so that it would have less height. Eggs help a baked good to keep structure, and a 9×13 sheet cake needs less height and structure than a loaf.

Photo of the vegan chocolate chips from Costco, in case you need help 😜

Recipe adapted from this great one. I did once make it according to that exact recipe (subbing chocolate chips for pecans), and it was very delicious.

Currently//OCTOBER 2017

Happy Halloween! Well, almost. Did you dress up over the weekend? Grant and I went to a vampire-themed murder mystery dinner party. Like always, our costumes were last-minute and half-ass. The party was very fun, though.

We're vampires but you can't really tell.

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Here’s a rundown of what’s been on my mind and heart this October. Hope you have a spooky day tomorrow 👻

INSPIRED BY//

The #Last90Days is kicking my butt in the best way. Exercising every day (instead of 4-5 days each week) has changed my body already. I’ve also gotten a new gym buddy the last few weeks: my husband. After years of exercising intermittently, he’s getting his butt in gear with cardio and strength training. Who knew it was so fun to exercise together? (Literally everyone says this, but I’d never experienced it before!)

Going to the gym together feels different than hiking, the primary way we’ve exercised together. The gym isn’t to see the pretty sights or to check a fourteener off the list. It’s just to better our bodies and minds, and doing that together feels pretty damn awesome.

WATCHING//

This month has actually been marked by a remarkable lack of T.V. We didn’t turn the T.V. on even once while we were on vacation 🌈, and I’ve been making an effort to turn to reading more than anything else when I have downtime during the week. That means I’m not watching TGIT, and I think I’m fine with it. Maybe I’ll get the flu and have time to catch up someday, but it’s just not a priority.

We did watch S2E1 of “Stranger Things” on Friday, and you better believe I’ll be making time to watch the rest of that. #justiceforBarb

READING//

This month, I read and really liked “Purity,” by Jonathan Franzen. It’s a complicated family drama that is all centered around a woman named Purity. I love a thick book filled with multigenerational family drama, so this was right up my alley. Each section of the novel is told by a different character, and there are some excellent reveals.

I also reread one of my faves, “American Wife,” by Curtis Sittenfeld. It’s a fictionalization of Laura Bush’s life, and it is fascinating and funny and deeply introspective about the meaning of marriage and the responsibilities that come with it. Similarly to “Purity,” it takes a long road, starting with the “Laura” character as a little girl and strolling along to get to the White House. It’s a quick read with plenty of passages to think about and discuss.

ALSO, if you’ve ever noticed that basically every single hair and beauty blogger lives in Provo, Utah, here’s a fascinating article about how the Mormon faith fits well with that career path.

LISTENING TO//

I listened to the entire “Dirty John” podcast yesterday while I was running errands and meal prepping. If you’re into true crime, or liked Serial or S-Town, LISTEN. It’s excellent. I don’t even want to say more. Don’t try and read any more about it, just search in iTunes and LIIIIISTEN to this killer audio documentary.

EATING AND DRINKING//

The new Key Lime La Croix is SO delicious. It feels more like a treat than the other flavors that I’ve had countless times, so I’ve been drinking one a lot of evenings during my commute.

I’m VERY excited that it’s soup/stew/chili season! I made this golden lentil coconut soup yesterday, and it’s very good. I didn’t blend it, and I’ve been eating it without the rice on top. I also made our favorite pumpkin chili to have on hand for lunches this week. The pumpkin makes it a little creamy and adds so much nutrition. I made it vegan by swapping the turkey for more beans, and I did mushrooms instead of zucchini.

What did you love this October? I love recommendations.

Sedona Honeymoon: Where we hiked, what we ate, and where we stayed

Last week, Grant and I honeymooned in Sedona, Arizona. It was magical. Sedona is incredible, and I can’t even remember the last time G and I had that much uninterrupted time together. Maybe never?

That said, we definitely have different ideas about the perfect getaway. We talked about it and decided that Grant prefers a trip, and I prefer a vacation.

Grant would be happy to go on a honeymoon that was 100% scheduled with activities, and I would prefer for there to be 50% activities, 50% drinking by the pool. In a true act of marital compromise, we were able to make this trip fit a little bit in both worlds. There was plenty of hiking, and I did get to take one drunken pool nap.

Where we hiked: 

Airport Vortex: This was our first hike of the trip, and it was short, sweet, and very special. It’s a tiny, very easy hike to a little vista, where we cinched our hoodies and watched the sunrise in the crazy wind.

💛Throwback to snuggling at an energy vortex at sunrise. Peak Sedona/peak honeymoon.💛

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If you’re not familiar, Sedona’s energy vortexes are spots that are said to carry special energy. I’ve read about it being described in different ways, but mainly a feeling in the head or heart of deep warmth and positivity. Maybe it was placebo, maybe it’s real, but I loved it.  

There are many vortexes in Sedona, but there are four major, mainstream ones. Many of the undocumented ones were used by Native Americans for ceremonial purposes (and may still be today).

X marks the spot at the Airport Vortex.

Cathedral Rock: This was one of the hardest hikes I have ever done (and I’ve done some doozies). It’s only 1.5 miles long, but you gain 600 feet of elevation. Which means that portions of it are basically vertical.

The summit is totally shaded by the “cathedral towers” on either side. It is breathtaking (well, however breathtaking it can be when you’re already totally winded). The vortex on this hike is beyond the summit (to my right in the photo below). Even though we didn’t go off-trail to reach it, I felt so at-peace even being in its presence. I don’t know if that feeling is different than the feeling I get after reaching any summit, but I didn’t try to interrogate that too much.

Another day, another ✨energy vortex✨

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Boynton Canyon: The highlight of this hike, another vortex, was Grant’s unexpected yoga class. When we got to the end of the trail, there was a spire of rock that looked scaleable. It was technically off-trail, but there were already two men at the top, so it couldn’t have been that bad.

Being the murderino that I am, I wasn’t really willing to climb to the top to a very small standing area. For all we knew, those dudes at the top were in some sort of cult and were waiting for fresh meat! (Hi, I’m dramatic.)

My teeny tiny husband, on top in the red shirt

Before I could totally explain my concerns to G, he had bounded off and was climbing. And, while I sat and watched at the bottom, he learned ujjayi breathing from these two men, who were apparently about to livestream a mindfulness practice workshop from that spire. (They must have had killer service because I could barely send a text.)

Devil’s Bridge: This is definitely the most Insta-famous Sedona destination, meaning that it was one of the more crowded hikes we took. While I wasn’t crazy about that, it did mean there were plenty of people to take our photo at the top!

I thought the view from under the bridge better showed how cool this rock formation is.

Bell Rock: This, our final Sedona hike, felt incredibly special. I, in all honesty, didn’t really want to do it at first. It was nearing lunchtime, we were feeling tired, and I wasn’t sure I had it in me. I’m so glad Grant convinced me to go.

The whole Bell Rock area is known as a vortex space, so we set off on the trail with the mindset that we wouldn’t find a particular vortex spot. Before we’d gotten very far up on the rock formations, the trail markers stopped. Now, that Boy Scout up there ⬆⬆⬆ is a big stickler for parks service rules (as we all should be). But he really, really wanted to go higher on Bell Rock. So we went off trail. 😲

It was incredible. So beautiful and so calming, we worked together to find safe ways up, and neither of us died!

We kept going until the rock faces were too sheer. And, at the random spot where our hike ended, we found a piece of paper, weighted down by rocks.

Maybe it seems silly now, but to find this special spot together without the guidance of signs felt fortuitous. It felt like the world was on our side. I will never, ever forget that.

View from the almost-top of Bell Rock

Grand Canyon (not in Sedona): G hiked all the way to the bottom of the Grand Canyon with his dad and brother years ago, so he wanted to go back and show me what all the fuss is about.

We didn’t hike all the way, but we did do a nine-mile loop called the Bright Angel Trail.

It was, to put it mildly, a challenge. But we did it! (I plan to write another post about this experience, so stay tuned.)

This may seem like a lot of hikes, and it was, but we really enjoy hiking together. There is nothing like the endorphin rush of reaching the summit, especially with your new husband.

What we ate:

First of all, I highly recommend Sedona just based on food. We had so many delicious meals, and G was always able to find something to eat, even with his allergies and restrictions. I have never seen so many vegan options sprinkled into a “regular” menu. I was able to order whatever I wanted, and G still had choices (often way more than he’s used to having, which I think overwhelmed him a bit).

SaltRock Kitchen: One of my favorite tips is to eat dinner at the lobby restaurants of fancy hotels. They’re often delicious (check those reviews!), and it’s an excuse to see the property. Order the grilled octopus appetizer and the watermelon salad.

Mariposa: The kind of Latin-inspired steakhouse that serves chimmichurri on everything. I don’t think you can go wrong here. We loved the lentil-walnut croquette appetizer, and the grilled shrimp were very tasty.

Che Ah Chi: Another fancy hotel meal. This restaurant is at the Enchantment Resort, which is huge, very luxurious, and very expensive. It was very fun to have an excuse to wander around for a bit. The Cathedral Rock toast was AMAZING. Thick-cut chewy toast topped with avocado, ricotta, tomatoes, shallots, and a lemony olive oil.

Creekside American Bistro: One of the best crab cakes I’ve ever eaten. Weird, I know, but the server pushed it, and I’m glad I listened.

Tamaliza: Must-eat. Cafeteria-style Mexican food, including vegan tamales.

Secret Garden Cafe: My favorite meal of the trip. Hot tip: the caprese salad is served with a huge mound of arugula and baby spinach, and it’s perfect with a steak on the side.

Whyld Ass (Flagstaff): We went to Flagstaff specifically to eat breakfast here. An all-vegan menu, owned by a very cool and friendly dude. The biscuits and gravy were next-level and the snickerdoodle we got for a car snack was 🎉.

True Food Kitchen (Phoenix): Awesome menu that combined traditional offerings with vegan options, all around an anti-inflammatory diet. (Which means they didn’t serve coffee, a real bummer since we ate there for brunch. I ordered kombucha instead.) G had a butternut squash pizza with vegan ricotta, and I had a mushroom and Brussels sprouts pizza with non-vegan Taleggio.
Nami (Phoenix): All-vegan and incredible. We both had enormous breakfast burritos, and we shared the banana churros, which were perfect, cinnamon-sugar-rolled donut holes.

Where we stayed:

Poco Diablo (Sedona): We stayed here for the majority of the trip. While the service was not great (a little slow, seemed annoyed at normal requests, and our room service tray lay outside our room for days), we would probably stay here again. The room was large and comfortable with plenty of storage. There was a fireplace in the room and a private deck off the sitting area 💓. The robes — a metric by which I judge all hotels — were plush and warm.

Since it was off-season, we barely saw another guest, which was awesome. Even at afternoons by the pool, we had our pick of chaises in the shade and the sun.

El Tovar (Grand Canyon): This hotel is situated right on the canyon rim, which was cool and beautiful. We watched the sunset Thursday evening and even saw a couple get engaged.

It was awesome to walk from our hotel room to the trail head Friday morning. That’s a definite plus of this hotel. But I’m not sure we’d stay here again. Service, especially in the bar and restaurant, was not great, and the whole place badly needs an upgrade. The outside had recently been redone (paint and shingles) and looked great. The rest of the hotel could do with that facelift.

That’s El Tovar, on the rim on the right side of the photo.

Hotel Palomar (Phoenix): We stayed here our last night. Comfortable, stylish, beautiful rooftop pool. The robes were waffle-weave, which I didn’t love, but you can’t win them all.


Overall, this was an amazing trip. I know that this post was more about logistics, but it felt so special to spend so much uninterrupted time with Grant. We spent a lot of time talking about what we want our life and marriage to look like and feel like, we lingered over dinner, we took naps together in the middle of the day — basically all of the things that we never, ever have time for in the real world. I think that’s part of the reason Sedona felt so magical. It was totally separate from our normal hyper-busy, hyper-connected life.

Love you, G. Thanks for marrying me, thanks for teaching me to hike, thanks for sparking my love of food, and thanks for making sure I got plenty of time to read my vacation book.

If you have questions about Sedona, or more recommendations for next time we go, leave a comment!