Midweek Links // 1

A weekly roundup of what I’m reading, coveting, and listening to. 

The Signature of All Things, by Elizabeth Gilbert: I didn’t love Eat Pray Love, which is the book Gilbert is most famous for, but The Signature of All Things was seriously one of the most engrossing novels I have ever read. I read 90% of it on the drive home from Breckenridge earlier this month, and I could not put it down. It’s about a nineteenth century woman botanist, which sounds boring, but it’s NOT. The plot is expansive and detailed, but never feels confusing. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Joy the Baker made poundcake, grilled it, and served it with strawberries on top. YES, PLEASE.

The Girls, by Emma Cline: A fictionalized account of life as a Manson girl. I’m obsessed with true crime, so this was a win for me.

The most recent episode of the Radiolab podcast, Playing God, is incredible. It’s about strategies for rationing healthcare in times of crisis: how do you choose who gets oxygen? Who is airlifted out first? When do you stop administering care? There are interviews with clinicians who have made these decisions and clips from a town hall discussion where regular people discuss this moral tangle. Thought-provoking and sad and very, very interesting.

Present Over Perfect, by Shaua Niequist: I absolutely love this author. She is so raw and honest.  This book is a collection of essays about prioritizing slow living and family connection over the go, go, go of career hustle. Many of her strategies for coping are faith-based, but her writing style is so open and inclusive that it’s easy to make those passages fit with whatever your beliefs are or aren’t. A great book to reflect on and relax with before bed.

Tracy from Shutterbean posted about her ladies craft night, and I want to do this soon! Cocktails, snacks, and adult coloring books?! Who’s in?

What are you guys reading? I’m always looking for recs. 

3 Secrets to Getting Up Early (even on the weekend)

On weekday mornings, my alarm goes off at 4:45.

I know.

I guess I should be more specific: Grant’s alarm goes off at 4:45. He has to be at work by 6 a.m., so the early alarm is a must.

When his work schedule changed, and he started getting up this early, I decided to embrace the change with him. Falling back asleep for an hour or two is rarely restful for me, especially since G is getting ready for his day in a bathroom that is five feet from our bed.

Before this change, I got out of bed at 5:30 a few mornings a week to work out, so 4:45 didn’t seem too bad.

And I was right — for the most part. Some mornings, 4:45 feels like 6. Early, but not terrible. Some mornings, 4:45 feels terrible. It just does. But I push through because the added hours in the day are worth it to me.

The secrets to getting up this early are simple, I promise. By keeping these habits, it seems almost easy to wake up way before dawn.


SECRETS TO GETTING UP AT 4:45 A.M.

  1. Just put your feet on the floor.

This tip is the easiest and the hardest all at once. But just do it. Don’t hit snooze, don’t roll over for a quick snuggle. Just get up.

My feet hit the floor within literally five seconds of the alarm ringing. I may walk to the bathroom and then the kitchen with my eyes closed, but I am doing it.

The secret to getting up early? Planning. Read more at The Fruitful Blog.

  1. Plan, plan, and plan some more.Have a plan for your morning before your feet hit the floor. When you know what you’re supposed to be doing once you get out of bed, you can do it without thinking and while you’re waking up. My morning schedule changes from day-to-day, but the basic structure is the same. Every weekday morning, I want to get ready, pack lunches, water my plants, write, exercise, and leave for work on time.

    Getting up at 4:45 means I have three and half hours between the time my feet hit the floor and when I need to leave for work. That’s so much time. Planning out how I’ll spend this time means that I can make the most of it, instead of accidentally looking at Snapchat (👻: @cait326) for an hour.

I love being productive in the morning because it means that I can truly clock out at 5 P.M. Not only am I leaving my day job, I’m leaving behind many of my daily responsibilities. I can go home, cook dinner, relax with a book (or Bachelor in Paradise), and not stress out about fitting a workout in. Because it’s already done.

3 Secrets to Getting Up Really Early (even on the weekends)

On a weekend morning, my schedule is more relaxed, and my wakeup time is a little later, but I still plan in out. I get up relatively early, too, like 6 or 7. I do sometimes sleep in, but it throws off my body clock and makes it harder to get up at 4:45 that coming Monday.

On Sunday, I woke up at 7 and did laundry, cleaning, writing, and exercise, all before noon.

Getting these chores done in the morning means that I have time in the afternoon to relax (maybe even take a 30-minute nap) or hang with my family. Frontloading chores lets me have long, unstructured afternoon hours, which feels like a vacation.

  1. Go to bed, dummy!

This one is the most important — find a bedtime that works for you and stick to it. The “dummy” in the tip above is me. At least twice a month, I find myself scrolling, scrolling, scrolling on my phone way past my bedtime. There is no reason to do this — I’m not learning anything and I’m certainly not really enjoying myself. It’s just mindless distraction that ensures that I’ll be tired tomorrow.

I turn the lights out around 9:30 every night. Hopefully, I read for like 45 minutes first. It’s true what they say about books before bed — even the most intense and stressful thriller of a novel winds me down for sleep better than iPhone time.

P1000070

Sometimes, this early bedtime doesn’t happen. Sometimes, there’s a great T.V. show on (um, Bachelor in Paradise), and I don’t go to bed until 10. Sometimes, I’m out with friends on a weeknight, and I don’t make it to bed until even later. I brush it off and get back to my schedule the next day.


While these are my habits, I am sure as hell not perfect. The Wednesday morning after my monthly book club (and the wine and cheese that goes with our discussion), I will often go back to sleep after G leaves for work. And that’s okay.

What’s not okay is allowing one day of sleeping in to backslide into a whole week of it. Because that leads to lunches purchased in the cafeteria, skipped workouts, and no time to write.

It’s so easy to fall into the trap of giving up on a habit because you screwed up once, but — MAJOR KEY ALERT 🔑 — if you *start from scratch each day* that trap can be dodged. Yesterday sucked? Fine. Today will be better.

I know the saying is “the road to hell is littered with good intentions,” and I do think that’s true, to a point. A plan with no follow through is worthless. But a positive habit that you keep 85% of the time is worth a lot. Even if you do hit that snooze button from time to time.

What time do you get up? How many cups of coffee do you drink? How many times do you press snooze? 

If you’re a night owl, teach me your ways. 

Summer Meal Plan // 3

I missed out on my normal weekend grocery shopping and meal prep this week, since we were out  of town until past my bedtime on Sunday. I felt off-balance all week because of it, but I made it through. Barely.

Saturday and Sunday: Junk, junk, and more junk in Breckenridge! My friend Nichole and I tag-teamed a homemade dinner Saturday evening, though: baked salmon and trout, balsamic sauteed Brussels sprouts, and a risotto with white wine, garlic, and onions. I didn’t use a recipe for the risotto, just stirred my little heart out until it was creamy and delicious. Let me know in the comments if you want the basic proportions and method I used.

Monday: I went grocery shopping after work since we got home so late on Sunday. Hot tip: I made the grocery list before we left for our trip. #lifesaver

After the store, I made Chicken Tinga Tacos from How Sweet It Is. So much flavor and so quick. I served the chicken in blackened corn tortillas with mashed avocado and pico de gallo (with garden tomatoes!). On the side, we had seared bell peppers and canned refried beans. I didn’t use a recipe for the pico, per say, but The Pioneer Woman’s recipe is a great one to learn the ingredient proportions. (Holy vintage Pioneer Woman photos, guys.)

Tuesday: Leftovers

Wednesday: Our favorite daal with sweet potatoes and green peas. I use this yummy recipe, but sub 2 cups of the water for a can of full-fat coconut milk. YES, full-fat. It’s worth it. We had quinoa and watermelon on the side. And, no, daal is not pretty, but it gets the job done.

IMG_4037

Thursday: Leftovers again! I went to a happy hour after work with the goal of not ordering any food. I would like to report that I was successful — but I did make a quesadilla when I got home. Oh well, you win some, you lose some.

Breakfasts: Lots of Ezekiel cinnamon raisin toast with nut butter and green smoothies. I did make eggs for myself once or twice (and served them on an Ezekiel English muffin with leftover tomato sauce from the chicken tinga. *party horn emoji*).

I made extra quinoa Wednesday night, so G and I both had breakfast quinoa Thursday morning. There are several ways to make this, and I definitely took a shortcut: adding cashew milk, mashed banana, nut butter, and fruit, then stirring and microwaving. Like oatmeal, but more protein.

Lunches: The regular: salads with leftover protein for me, dinner leftovers for Grant.

See you next week for a better-planned meal plan! I considered not posting this week’s, since it was so sparse. But I think it could be helpful to see what a week with less planning and less prep work looks like — we still ate well, but with a little more weeknight stress for me.

If you need more seasonal meal inspo, check out other summer meal plans here and here.

summer meal plan 3

To the top! Climbing Quandary Peak

Most Saturdays, you can find me running errands, reading, maybe going to a concert if I’m feeling real crazy.

Last Saturday was different.

Last Saturday, I climbed a mountain.

 

Grant and I were in Breckenridge, Colorado, with a group of friends for the weekend. We drove through the night Thursday, took it easy on Friday with maybe one-too-many brewery stops, and woke early on Saturday to head to Quandary Peak.

Quandary is a 14er, which is hiker-speak for a 14,000 ft mountain. The trailhead for the East Ridge trail, which is the “easy” option we picked, starts at 10,850 ft. The trail ends at the summit, at 14,265 ft. The hike up took about four hours (or three if you’re our friend Andy).

I said the trail was “easy” because — woo, boy! — this was the steepest, most difficult hike with tons of loose and slippery rocks. Grant has hiked a handful of 14ers, and we hiked Grey’s Peak together a few years ago. We agreed that Grey’s was hard, but it was nothing compared to this hike.

IMG_3974

Typically, I have a positive attitude. When I am running, I will literally chant “I think I can, I know I can, I think I can, I know I can” in my head.

But this hike was punishing. There were whole hours where the summit never looked like it was getting any closer.

At one point, I thought, “I have to turn around.” When we debriefed over dinner later that night, I found out that almost everyone in our group had thought the same thing.

I’m not trying to make this a metaphor for life, promise. But there is nothing more rewarding than proving to yourself that you can do The Hard Thing. All day long, we told each other “to the top!” as encouragement. As our chant. As our “I think I can, I know I can.”

Other motivating bits along the way? Snacks. Flat rocks that made perfect resting chairs. Meeting goats and their babies (and being terrified that the mom goats would gore us).

IMG_3954

And reaching the summit? The best feeling. The greatest feeling.

The summit was crowded with dozens of people that had also just reached the top, and the shared emotional state of exhausted elation was so apparent.

IMG_3977

After that euphoric moment, though, you have to come back down. You’ve already summited, you’ve already taken your summit siesta (a little snooze with your pack as a pillow), you’re hurting and hungry — but now you have to spend hours walking back down the mountain. This realization quickly stomps on the joy you’re feeling.

Climbing down is scary and no easier than climbing up. You’re not gasping for air as you gain elevation like you do while ascending, but your feet scramble to find purchase on slippery gravel, your toes jam into the fronts of your shoes, and you are SO TIRED.

IMG_3937

We started the walk down as a group, taking frequent breaks together, but about an hour from the bottom, I couldn’t wait anymore. I knew that if I sat down one more time, I would fall asleep on the side of that mountain. So I kept walking, and walking, and walking. At one point, I know that my eyes were closed. When I eventually found one of those forgiving flat rocks to collapse on in the parking lot, I couldn’t see straight.

I was so tired, in fact, that after I took my Fitbit off to see how far we’d hiked (11 miles, for the record), I just threw it on the ground. I didn’t even realize I had done this until we were back in town, on the way to get some hard-earned pizza. (Don’t worry, Grant drove me back to the trailhead, and it was exactly where I had left it.)

And that night, after I had showered, napped, and had a few glasses of wine, I could almost imagine doing it again. To the top!

Climb Mount Quandary, via thefruitfulblog.com

Summer Meal Plan // 2

This upcoming week is a weird one. We’ll be eating out a lot at the end of the week with friends, so this summer meal plan is short, clean, and simple.

When I know I’m going to be eating a lot of restaurant meals, I try to be “good” where I can. Lots of protein and veggies, less extras like carb-heavy sides or sugary sauces. While there are carbs like rice and potatoes in these meals, I may skip them. And eat pasta and pizza (and beer) later in the week.

Saturday:

Sunday:

  • Grilled and Greek-seasoned chicken breasts and thighs, chickpeas, rice, cherry tomatoes, and sauteed green beans. I’ll likely chop the chicken and green beans and halve the tomatoes, so that we can eat this bowl-style.

Monday:

  • More bowls! Ground turkey, grilled sweet potato slices (heat the grill to med-high, slice sweet potatoes thinly, and grill ~5 mins a side), sauteed broccoli and bell peppers, and avocado.

Tuesday:

  • Meeting with my monthly book club. (We’re reading this history of Wonder Woman, if you’re interested. It’s a three-star read for me right now. But I’ve got half of the book to go.) The lovely host will provide wine and food.

Weekend prep:

  • More rice pudding for G! We’re trying to assess whether he’s allergic to eggs or not, so I’m kind of in a rut with make-ahead breakfasts. He says that he likes this pudding, so I’ll run with it until I hear otherwise.
  • Eggs and greens for me to eat for breakfasts. I plan to wilt a mix of chopped spinach and kale, and then mix the greens into slow-scrambled eggs. I’ll leave the eggs a little loose so they can finish cooking in the microwave when I reheat them. After reheating, I’ll top with hot sauce and maaaybe some avocado.

Breakfasts and lunches:

  • G will eat leftovers for lunch and the rice pudding for breakfast.
  • I’ll have salad and protein at lunch and eggs and greens for breakfast. Since we’ll be eating so many restaurant meals, I want to keep my diet fresh and clean where I can.

Like I said, this list is short and sweet. But it will keep our bellies full.