MEAL PLAN June 22-28

I’m recapping what we ate every week as a food diary and to give you all meal ideas (healthy and not!). Previous weeks and other meal planning resources can be found here.

FRIDAY June 22: We ate at Alamo Drafthouse during Jurassic World. Movie was not great, but the food surprisingly was! I haven’t ever been too impressed with the food at the Drafthouse, but I loved my meal. I had a small Colorado salad with avocado, cotija, radishes, tomatoes, and a very delicious vinaigrette. And my brother-in-law and I split tater tot nachos (Triceratots!). Both were genuinely good. Would order again.

SATURDAY June 23: We visited Grant’s family for his GRANDMA’S WEDDING! We all had a delicious fried chicken dinner, and I brought a meal for G. Seared lemon-pepper chicken breasts, garlic butter rice (with our fave vegan butter), green beans, and my current favorite lemon cupcakes. I made this all on Friday before work, and it reheated well.

SUNDAY June 24: After the drive back home, I could barely be bothered with dinner, but we needed some food in the fridge! I made the rice again, chopped up the remaining chicken, sauteed chickpeas with onion, and frozen broccoli. Not going to win any culinary awards, but it was very tasty.

MONDAY June 25: The BEST dinner we’ve had in a while. I made this INCREDIBLE and EASY marinade from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe in the morning before work. In the evening, I grilled the chicken thighs, made black beans, sriracha cole slaw (whisk mayo, rice vinegar, and sriracha to taste), and white rice. WOW. Seriously so delicious and easy.

TUESDAY June 26: Our favorite sushi with my sister and brother-in-law and our second cousin and his wife before KESHA and Macklemore. A perfect evening.

WEDNESDAY June 27: An exhaustion sandwich on the couch after work: sandwich thin, mayo, deli turkey, pickles, and salt & pepper kettle chips. Amazing. Then I slept on the couch for an hour while G watched TV next to me. Very cozy.

THURSDAY June 28: G is going on a float trip over the weekend, and GUESS WHAT, he needed food to bring with him. I made a hash with sweet potatoes, broccoli, chicken sausage, chickpeas, and onions for his breakfasts and turkey sloppy joes (very loosely followed this recipe) for dinner. He’ll have sandwiches, crackers, hummus, and apples on the float.

For the hash, I roasted the sweet potatoes and broccoli on the same sheet pan with olive oil, salt, and pepper at 425 for 25 mins. I sauteed an onion, 1 can of chickpeas, and one package of chopped chicken breakfast sausage (from Aldi!), and mixed it all together at the end. He’ll reheat it in a cast iron and add hot sauce.

Float food!

For dinner, we had another iteration of the vegan Mexican spaghetti from last week. I left out the cashew cream, added corn, and made a cilantro sauce to drizzle. I think it’s almost perfect!

AND, bonus meal: soft-scrambled eggs over sprouted toast with the leftover cilantro sauce.

What’s the best thing you ate this week? 

My Current Problem-Skin Skincare Routine (Summer 2018) What I use for fine lines and acne

I shared my skincare routine on Insta stories a month or so ago, and I got a LOT of questions. So here I am with more details 👍

First let me say: I know that I don’t have great skin. I’ve had acne since I was like nine, and I likely always will. But my challenging skin has led me to lots and lots of research about skin protection, skin improvement, and skin treatment.

But I’m here to share what I’ve learned from a literal lifetime of problem skin. So, take it or leave it, these products work for me and improve my way-less-than-perfect skin.

Now that I’m in my late twenties, I’m facing an issue that I’m sure a lot of you are, too: aging skin AND blemishes on the same face. I have fine lines on my forehead, eyes that are getting crepey, and tech neck. Finding anti-aging treatments that don’t exacerbate my acne has been a CHORE. But I’ve gotten there! My acne is under control, and my wrinkles are improving. (Seriously, my eyes look less wrinkled than they did in my wedding photos a year ago!)

You can see my forehead fine lines really well here.

Obviously, what works for me likely won’t work for you. We’re all SO, so different. These are the products that work for me, and I’ve spent a lot of time (and money) developing this routine.

I see skincare as a major investment. Since I’ve had problem skin for basically as long as I can remember, skincare products are necessary, not optional. A new red lipstick is definitely optional. A new anti-aging serum or blemish control product is an investment, and I am willing to treat it as such. There may be awesome drugstore skincare, but I haven’t ever found any.

Once I’ve vetted a product, I am more than willing to pay for it. But I have two rules before I click Add to Cart.

  1. Read, read, and read some more. Find your beauty resources. I read reviews on Amazon, reviews on Sephora.com (did you know that you can sort based on reviewers that have your same skin type?), and the expertise of makeup artists that I love. Kayti at the Beyouty Bureau and Katie at Katie Jane Hughes are both FULL of wisdom. I don’t have the same skin type as either these two women, but I have learned so much about different products and general skin care needs from them.
  2. Try a sample! At Sephora, they will give you a sample of ANYTHING. Try a sample of a face serum, a moisturizer, an eye cream, whatever. Introduce this ONE new product into your routine, assess how your skin changes (positively or negatively) over a few days, and then choose to purchase or not. (Also, another tip: Sephora will allow you to return any purchase, even one that’s been used. This is incredibly wasteful, obviously, since they just throw away the unused product. So please try the free sample first!)

Lots of you asked me where I would suggest investing first. This is a difficult question, since everyone’s skin is so different. Ultimately, though, I think that treatments are the smartest initial investment: serums, anti-wrinkle solutions, Rx acne meds. These treatments are applied to your bare skin, so they’re absorbed most readily. Spending money on those products will likely get you the most bang for your buck.

MY ROUTINE

I’ve detailed my morning routine and my evening routine below. I follow this general regimen, which is about what everyone should follow: cleanse, exfoliate, treat, moisturize. How exactly you should follow each step is VERY PERSONAL. If you have dry, sensitive skin, do NOT follow my routine. We are very, very different.

Seeing a dermatologist (initial meetings are often covered by insurance) is your best bet. She’ll be able to recommend next steps for your better skin.

But, this is what I use. I’ve found these products through trial and error, lots of product samples, and the counsel of my dermatologist.

Enjoy! I’ll be sharing my full routine on Instagram stories this week, and I’ll save those in a skincare highlight. Pretty please leave a comment here or there with any questions. I’d love to help!

My morning routine

Post morning skincare, with just Dr. Jart color-correction drops.

 

Cleanse. Wash with OLEHENRIKSEN Find Your Balance Oil Control Cleanser. I like this, but don’t love it. I likely won’t repurchase. I have plenty of face wash samples that need using, and I think it’s ok to save money on face wash. It’s not designed to soak into your skin, so the ingredients matter less (to me).

Exfoliate. Exfoliate and cleanse with SON & PARK Beauty Water. I squirt some on a cotton round and wipe gently but firmly in upward motions across my face, neck, and chest. It’s important to swipe UP, not down. Aging skin wants to succumb to gravity, and it’s our job not to let it!

Treat. Apply acne medication. Talk to a derm about which type would be right for you.

Serum. Apply OLEHENRIKSEN Truth Serum, a vitamin C anti-aging serum, to my face and neck in upward strokes, and let it soak in for a couple minutes.

Eye cream. Apply a very small amount of LANEIGE Water Bank Eye Gel to my orbital bone (the curved part of your cheekbone that runs under each eye). Since I have oily skin, I don’t apply cream any higher than this. I don’t want it running into my eyes!

Moisturize. I seal everything in with a light moisturizer: OLEHENRIKSEN Counter Balance Oil Control Hydrator. I do not find this to be particularly mattifying, but it’s a nice, light moisturizer that soaks in almost instantly.

Extras! I apply several dots of the DR. JART+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Camo Drops, a color-correcting treatment, all over my face. I’m still trying this out, but I’m liking it so far! Full review to come.

Yes, this is a lot of steps, but it takes like five minutes. After all this, I apply body lotion and let that soak in while I do my makeup.

My evening routine

Cleanse. Apply one pump of Nature Republic Forest Garden Cleansing Chamomile Oil all over my dry face. Using very light pressure, I massage my entire face, concentrating on areas where I have a lot of makeup (usually my eyes and brows). Once the makeup is broken up, I wet my hands, shake off almost all water, and massage again. Applying this small amount a water emulsifies the oil. You’ll be able to feel the oil getting thicker as you massage. After I massage the emulsified oil for a moment, I begin rinsing with palmfuls of water, repeating until all of the oil and makeup are gone.

Double cleanse. Apply micellar water to my entire face and neck, concentrating on any stubborn mascara. Remember to sweep the cotton pad UP, not down. I’m not brand-loyal here.

Exfoliate. Repeat the SON & PARK Beauty Water from the A.M.

Treat. Acne meds again!

Serum. Apply one pump of the OLEHENRIKSEN Invigorating Night Transformation Gel to my face and neck in upward motions.

Eye cream. Repeat from the morning with LANEIGE Water Bank Eye Gel.

Moisturize. Once the serum has soaked in, top it with a thicker version of my morning moisturizer: OLEHENRIKSEN Counter Balance Mattifying Moisture Crème.

Extras

If I’ve got a larger blemish, I top it with one of these: Mighty Patch Hydrocolloid Acne Absorbing Spot Dot. It’s basically a clear dot that sucks the… stuff … out of a blemish. It has cleared up stubborn spots literally overnight on my face. The trick is not to pick at the blemish after you remove the patch.

Once a week, I apply the Aztec Secret – Indian Healing Clay mask. It is INTENSE. I am the worst at spot-testing products, but I INSIST that you spot test this one before you use it on your entire face. It’s a powder that you mix with apple cider vinegar or water before application. It dries SO tight. Like can’t make facial expressions or talk normally once it’s dry. While it’s drying for 30 minutes, you can feel the blood pulsing in your face. It’s a cult fave beauty product, and I do see a difference with oiliness and blemishes when I use it regularly. It leaves my face RED but very smooth afterward.

Twice a week, I do a less intense mask. I alternate between the OLEHENRIKSEN Cold Plunge Pore Mask (very cooling and refreshing) and random mask samples that I have collected from Sephora.


Things that we could all do more of to improve my skin for free: more water (always!) and less coffee and alcohol. More vegetables. Less sugar overall. MORE SLEEP. But, you know, those things aren’t always possible. 10 minutes at the end of the day to do my serums and creams? I can do that.

Which products do you swear by?

MEAL PLAN June 15-21

I’m recapping what we ate every week as a food diary and to give you all meal ideas (healthy and not!). Previous weeks and other meal planning resources can be found here.

FRIDAY June 15: I spent the night at my sister’s and she made us the BEST homemade pizza and salads. We ate while watching Queer Eye and crying 😍

SATURDAY June 16: After spending the day with my sister Becca and her fiancé (including some dope turkey burgers with grilled pineapple by B), Grant and I went to a friend’s birthday party. He ate leftovers of the lunch my sister made (thanks, sis!!!!), and I had delicious BBQ. My favorite trick for enjoying BBQ without overdoing it: fill you plate with ¼ meat, ½ salad or other veggies, and whatever yummy, decadent side in the other ¼. I chose amazing jalapeño cornbread by my friend Karah. (I also had a jello shot like it was college or something.)

I. Love. Summer!

SUNDAY June 17: We enjoyed one of our very favorite dinners: buffalo chickpeas with vegan ranch, shredded romaine, broccoli, and sweet potatoes. I grilled the sweet potato planks, which honestly took FOREVER, and I probably won’t do it again. For the chickpeas, I sauteed an onion in coconut oil, added the chickpeas and let them brown, and then added buffalo sauce to taste with a little more coconut oil. Salt and pepper, too!

MONDAY June 18: I’m working on a new recipe for you guys! I vegan-ized this recipe for Mexican Spaghetti, and it was SO good. I used brown lentils instead of the meat, and I made a cashew cream to replace the cheese. It needs a little work, but totally hit the spot. We also had salad with leftover ranch, and it was a GREAT combo.

TUESDAY June 19: I had a happy hour dinner with my friend Liz. We shared queso, guac, and PERFECT Asian chicken sliders at The Oliver.

WEDNESDAY June 20: My favorite dinner of the week: cubed, roasted tofu (425 for 25 mins, tossing in the middle) with a riff on the sauce from this recipe, served with stir-fried shredded cabbage and onion, white rice, and green beans.

THURSDAY June 21: Leftovers in bed with a side of honey wheat pretzels because Thursdays are haaaaaaaaaard.

LUNCHES: All week, I’ve been eating lettuce wraps with deli turkey and spicy hummus. SO good, crunchy, and satisfying. G eats leftovers.

BREAKFASTS: This week has been SMOOTHIE WEEK for me. Five days, five green smoothies. My favorite was 1 frozen banana, ⅓ c frozen mango, ⅓ c frozen kale, 1 tbsp coconut oil, 2 scoops collagen peptides, 1 tbsp ground flax, handful ice cubes, and a splash of water. Remember — if a smoothie doesn’t have PROTEIN, FAT, and FIBER, you’ll process any nutrients way too quickly for your body to absorb them. If you want the benefits of a green smoothie, you better make sure that it includes fat like coconut oil or nut butter, fiber like chia or flax, and protein.

HAPPY WEEKEND! Hope that you’re doing something fun and that you’re eating well.

The Power of Alone Time: Solo retreat rundown

About a month ago, I was feeling incredibly overwhelmed. All day. Every day. I was relentlessly busy, and I didn’t feel willing to give up a single thing. This obviously lead to multiple dropped balls, lots of junk food, and lots of crying (for “no reason”). 

I was looking at my Google Calendar, obsessively planning the upcoming month (typical), and I saw a blank weekend. My immediate reaction: how can I spend that weekend 100% alone?

I am very introverted. I enjoy time with family and friends so much, but I need a lot of time to decompress and recharge afterwards. There are often entire weeks where the only alone time that I get is consumed with chores and work. If I don’t plan relaxing alone time, it just doesn’t happen.

So I planned alone time. I got an Airbnb, packed sweats, jammies, and no makeup, and spent Friday afternoon-Sunday lunch in total solitude. The only person I saw was a cute lady who sold me kettle corn.

I feel like so many of you can relate: I am constantly, unendingly doing stuff for others. My husband, my family, my job, my readers. And I, for the most part, really enjoy the things that I do. I love love love interacting with and supporting my people. BUT it’s so easy to get overwhelmed and run down. Scheduling purposeful alone time saved my sanity.

I had 36 hours where I didn’t have to make anyone else dinner, I didn’t have to make small talk, I didn’t have to get dressed, I didn’t have to do anything.

This gave me the chance to do SO many things that I hadn’t made time for in months: I watched TV, I did 1,000,000 administrative tasks for the blog and for life, I set up systems to streamline a lot of the things I do every week, and I wrote. I wrote uninterruptedly. I wrote about nothing, and then copy and pasted the paragraphs that were worth saving into upcoming blog posts. I journaled and brainstormed and ate a bunch of chicken, mayo, and potato chip sandwiches (so, so good, I promise).

This weekend away gave me two things that I don’t get enough of: focused work and intentional alone time.

While I highly HIGHLY recommend that everyone get a weekend away when they can (even if it’s just volunteering to housesit for a friend), that’s not always practical. I can’t spend the money on an Airbnb or hotel room every time I need a reset.

What I can do? Build more focused time and intentional alone time into my weeks so I need this reset less urgently and less often. (I still plan to take at least one night away for myself every six months or so. I need it, and I’m willing to cut corners in other places to make it happen.)

FOCUSED WORK

Focusing on ONE task for an extended period of time is the best way I know to be productive. I don’t mean the emails that you write while you wait for dinner to finish simmering or the TV you watch while you schedule your week.

My cute little carriage house

I mean sitting for 45 minutes and writing an entire blog post. I mean putting your phone on airplane mode, turning on an awesome playlist, and cleaning that cluttered af room in your house. I mean DOING THE WORK without distraction.

It’s so hard to make this happen. I know I’m not alone. The list of things that must get done each day is 1,000 items long, and it often feels easier to multitask. But I’ve learned the hard way that too much multitasking and not enough heads-down time makes me mean and teary. 

By scheduling time for FOCUSED WORK, I relieve stress from the rest of the week. I have several two-hour blocks scheduled each week, and I use that time to plug in, ignore my phone, and power through. There are so many administrative tasks that support the work, but they can eat up all the time that you have to do the actual work. For me, that’s writing. 

I can design graphics and schedule FB posts and send emails with the TV on or while listening to a podcast, but I can’t write while I’m distracted. At least nothing that’s worth reading.

Making time for this uninterrupted, focused work isn’t easy. I get up very, very early, even on the weekend. This is what works for me. I’m a morning person by nature, and I love killing that to-do list pre-10 a.m. I would rather write from 4:30-6:30 a.m. than give up my evening with Grant or drinks with a friend. And, to be honest, I often get the non-focused work done in the evening, regardless. Formatting a blog post or returning Instagram messages can totally happen during the Bachelorette.

INTENTIONAL ALONE TIME

Spending time alone is so essential to my level of happiness. If we meet for drinks and I am spaced out or having a hard time following the conversation, it’s likely that I haven’t had a substantial chunk of alone time recently.

I’m sure all of you — especially those of you with kids! — understand how difficult it is to get chunks of time to be alone. There are always errands to run and meetings to get to and endless family obligations to meet. And I usually use little tricks to fit alone time in the gaps: taking the long way home from an event so I can listen to a podcast, going for a walk, exercising with really loud music. But these don’t really count. They bandaid the issue.

To really feel restored and ready to take on another jam-packed day or week or month, I need several hours or more. I need time where I can be alone with my thoughts. I need several hours to watch what I want on TV or read without a timer that reminds me to move onto the next chore. I need time to zone out while I’m eating a sandwich.

I don’t think I’m alone in constantly running through the day’s agenda in my mind. What needs to get done next, what needs to get done tomorrow, what tasks I need to add to the to-do list at some point. I’ve got a lot of balls in the air, and this level of organization is required.

Taking chunks of time where I don’t have to think this way is meditative. It’s restorative. It feels like a nap, but without the weird hangover.

But the reality is that this time doesn’t just happen. I rarely get a four-hour block of Saturday without an event or task on the agenda.

So when it does happen — whether by chance or by plan — I want to spend it intentionally.

I’ve talked about this before — this means not scrolling on my phone. Not channel surfing. It means doing the things that I always wish that I had time for. Reading a book. Watching a favorite TV show. Going for a walk with a thermos of wine. Not talking to annnnnnnyone. If I spend this time on purpose, that means that I don’t waste one of my two free hours on Instagram.

I try to do this when I can in my everyday life. I often beat Grant home from work, and I’ll set a thirty minute timer and read before I need to start making dinner. Or I’ll wake up early on a Saturday so I can read in bed with my coffee before the day really starts.

Basically, I’ve learned that alone time isn’t going to just happen. I have to make it. And then make the most of it.

View from a brainstorming walk.

I am so thankful that I took the time and spent the money to go on a solo retreat. I am SO lucky that I can afford to do this (both with my time and with my disposable income). I am not blind to that. If you can’t take time away, you can hopefully implement an at-home version of my retreat. Make time for focused work and intentional alone time on a weekly basis, and watch your life change.

A real-time example of this focused work and alone time colliding: I got to a bar an hour before my friend. I’m enjoying a class of happy hour champagne and putting the finishing touches on this post.

Since my retreat, I’ve seen my stress levels drop and my daily mood improve. I also think that I’m sleeping better. When I take time for myself, I’m less likely to wake up sweating at 2 a.m. (which I’m sure is stress nightmare related).

What I’m saying is that I’m spread thin, sometimes too thin, and I’m working to fix that. My weekend away was the beginning, and I don’t plan to stop anytime soon.

MEAL PLAN: June 8-14

I’m recapping what we ate every week as a food diary and to give you all meal ideas (healthy and not!). Previous weeks and other meal planning resources can be found here.

FRIDAY, June 8: Grant’s friends came over to help him with some seriously neglected areas of our yard, and I made dinner. On the menu: pulled chicken, vegan mac and cheese, and my favorite cole slaw. Simple, easy, and very yummy.

For the chicken: bake two big chicken breasts and two packages of chicken thighs at 375 until done (20-30 mins for the breasts and 30-40 mins for the thighs). Let cool slightly before shredding. This white meat:dark meat ratio is perfect for flavor and juicyness. I seasoned the chicken with this amazing blend, but anything will do!

The cole slaw: whisk together equal parts mayo and yellow mustard, and thin it out with a couple splashes of apple cider vinegar. Toss with bagged cole slaw and salt and pepper.

SATURDAY, June 9: G’s birthday party. The full menu is here, where I talk about how to host a party without losing your mind.

SUNDAY, June 10: a quick dinner post-pool and pre-Westworld. This brown lentil daal was super quick (I don’t have a pressure cooker, so I used the stovetop. It was just as fast… This is where I confess that I don’t really get the Instant Pot craze.), and it went perfectly with leftover rice. I meant to make the onion and tomato salad for the top, but I honestly forgot about it.

Here’s a reminder that not every meal needs to be super-amazing. Simple and fast can taste just as good.

MONDAY, June 11: Grant’s birthday! He asked for grilled shrimp and pineapple, so I expanded on that idea.

Grilled shrimp seasoned with salt, pepper, and paprika. Grilled pineapple and red onions. Brown basmati rice. Simply dress shredded cabbage. Cilantro vinaigrette. SO good, and served with champagne made it even better.

TUESDAY, June 12: I ate sushi and saw Hereditary (SO GOOD OMG GO SEE IT NOW AND THEN TEXT ME!!!). Grant had leftovers.

WEDNESDAY, June 13: My household famous hummus pasta with frozen broccoli.

Hummus pasta: boil 2 c pasta of choice in heavily salted water. Save about a cup of pasta water, and drain. Saute onion, garlic, and halved cherry tomatoes until tender and SUPER fragrant. Add about ½ container of hummus (I love the Aldi brand in significantly spicy; Grant prefers roasted red pepper) and stir. Add splashes of pasta water and stir until it’s really creamy. Add pasta and more splashes of pasta water, stirring constantly. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and top with red pepper flakes.

THURSDAY, June 14: G and I had a date at a new local brewery, so dinner needed to be fast. I simmered black beans, onion, and rotel on the stove, reheated leftover rice, and added the leftover cilantro vinaigrette to the leftover cabbage. Presto, rice and bean bowls in like 15 mins.

Secret to a quick dinner when you walk into the kitchen without a plan: chop and saute an onion. Pretty much regardless what you decide to make, sauteing an onion will be the first step.

HAPPY WEEKEND!!!! xoxo