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Today I wanted to share what you might have missed this past month in one big giant happy list!!
My February Happy List
Doing a Book Chat over a Puzzle
Not only was our book club book a genuine hit, we shared our discussion over a jigsaw puzzle this month. Ryan & I have been working on a puzzle while listening to a variety of podcasts and, as we headed down to our family room for our discussion, everyone started to congregate around the jigsaw puzzle instead of on my couches.
It was an unintentional relocation that got us all talking about our strategies for completing puzzles and how much we enjoy putting them together. I got to witness my girlfriends in a whole new way as the leaders came out to put everyone to task, the jigsaw genius grabbed up all the sky pieces in record time, and the shared laughter as we hunted for the nipples on all these male chests on the beach was so good for my soul.
We all agreed, this puzzle was a fun one and would be a blast to put together with your friends over a good book chat too. In fact, I’m thinking that the puzzle just might be a permanent fixture at our chats. Up next? This one!
I am not a big sitcom person, mainly because I hate to feel obligated to keep up with one more show. For some reason, my Netflix-watching lead me down the tunnel to the first season of Good Girls and I am so glad it did. At first look, this seemed like a pretty typical good girls gone bad storyline. Three women are down on their luck and decide to rob a local grocery store to try to get them to land back on their feet.
It is much, much more compelling that though, thanks to the incredible acting by these dynamic female leads. Their stories are ones that any mother can sympathize with and their reasoning for continuing their heists are things that you can feel sympathetic to. With all of these ladies missing that criminal background component, each episode feels like it leaves you with a cliffhanger where you just know that they are going to get caught.
I’m not sure how sustainable this storyline could be from season to season, but if you were a fan of Weeds, you know that good girls going bad can sustain quite a few seasons with the right acting. This show is definitely binge-worthy and has been a great escape.
Meal Prepping for the Week
The past two weeks we have managed to avoid dining out thanks to me designating one day a week to prepping our food. As silly as it sounds, just preparing the fruits and vegetables makes them about 100% more likely to be eaten and less likely to be thrown away. I have Instacart deliver all the groceries for our recipes and then spend one day cooking and chopping everything for our week, all while I listen to an audiobook.
The rest of the week is then spent with my feet up and curled up with a good book. Everyone is loving the variety of options and no one has complained one bit about the lack of the formalness of a sit down dinner together. With all of us running in different directions each night, anyone who needs to stay home is now assured they have plenty of delicious food to look forward to.
Here are a few of my favorite prep-ahead dishes we enjoyed the last two weeks:
How to Make the Perfect Brown Rice
Baked Orange Chicken Meatballs
Chicken Pesto Frittata
Weeknight Roasted Turkey Sandwiches
How to Roast Chicken in Bulk
Delicious Roasted Green Beans
Slow Cooker Pumpkin Chili
Last month I had the opportunity to review the Gixo fitness app in a partnership with the company, but now that the partnership is over I decided to buy myself a paid membership and am, truly, using this app as part of my weekly fitness routines. If you are someone who prefers working out on a treadmill, they offer treadmill workouts that you can either walk (like me!) or run. The music is all so uniquely mixed that it helps keep your motivation up the entire time.
As much as I love cardio, my biggest hurdle is strength training. I have really lost a lot of my strength routines and so I started a routine that they offer called the Daily 40 that you can snag on-demand and do whenever it is convenient for your schedule. With the additional guidance from the trainer and the ability to do these exercises as fast or as slow as I want (unlike the pressure I feel in taking a class in-person) so I can really focus on making each movement count and avoid my risk of injury, this been a healthy way to get my strength back.
A few things that have helped my at-home routines are these ankle stabilizers, this thicker mat, these earbuds for listening to my workouts, and a good pair of running shoes that I had fitted at a local shop.
One of the best parts about celebrating a birthday is getting gifts that I get to share my thoughts on with you. I went to get a pedicure with a girlfriend one day and she whipped out these pedicure socks that I had no clue had ever existed until that moment. Being the thoughtful friend she is, she gifted me a pair months later along with a gift certificate to get a pedicure.
You know what? This just might be MY new go-to girlfriend gift.
I always have cold feet, but there is nothing worse than having something so indulgent done for you and then immediately see your feet turning blue on your way out from the chill of going from hot to cold. These socks just leave your toes exposed so after your pedicure wraps up, you can put these on before they paint your toes. They are made of thick cotton and allow your feet to still climb into your flip flops for the long trip home.
I was reading my magazines digitally through our local library, but I have really been missing paper magazines and being able to pull out articles for inspiration for my files. More than that, I am trying to not be on my digital devices so much so I have gotten back to magazine reading and used some of my Christmas funds (thank you, grandma & grandpa) to secure some great subscriptions.
Mail day got a heck of a lot more fun and I love getting to pay these forward in our mom circle after I finish them. Almost all of them were in the $5-10 range thanks to this website. They always offer a really great daily deal too that is handy for gift-giving!
I really need to write a post on the weirdest things I have bought on Amazon because this has to be one of them. The only reason I ever go get pedicures is because of how dry and awful the bottoms of my feet get, especially in the winter months. These foot peel masks had such great reviews that I thought they would be worth buying and trying for an at-home pedicure.
Just slip these plastic booties on, filled with this magic solution, and leave them on for an hour. Then, a week or so later, all of your awful dry skin just starts peeling off your feet each time you soak them. It’s both wildly weird and incredibly gratifying to have this dead skin all come off. These come with two sets of masks, which is just about how many one might need to get through these winter months. These are way more affordable than a pedicure, way less painful than having someone scrubbing with those awful graters, and I loved that I could do these masks while reading a book or catching up on my Netflix.
I’ve been trying to green up some of my routines this year and decided to switch to dryer balls instead of using fabric softener. I purchased this set of 6XL Dryer Balls and started using these this week and can’t believe how beautifully these work and how fluffy and static-free our clothes are. I have been adding a couple of drops of orange essential oils to them for a fresh chemically-free scent. I highly recommend these if you are looking to green up your laundry routine too and this handy recipe for making your own detergent.
The best part?
These dryer balls can last up to 1,000 washes!
You may not have known that I went to school for food & nutrition, but I had every intention of becoming a dietician. It is one of the reasons that I don’t believe in diet pills or quick fixes when it comes to nutrition. Thanks to pretty good genes (and a little bit of exercise), I haven’t really had to work that hard at staying slim, but my luck changed when I started taking a particular medication to treat my Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, coupled with my sluggish thyroid problems. It’s been such a blessing to finally have pills that work, but one of the side effects has been weight gain and fluid retention. I’ve really been on the struggle bus with joy over something that finally works and despair over the weight that is creeping on.
The nurse practitioner that I’ve been seeing recommended I give this nutrition program a spin because it involved lifestyle choices that would be sustainable for me, as lifelong habits, and would teach me how to nourish my body in the right way. She said that my tactics of eating less were causing my body to want to hang on to MORE weight, the exact thing I was trying to get away from.
One day I will sit down and write a long post about this, but after a month of following their plan, I feel better than I have felt in so long. I knew very little about the importance of calculating macros, intermittent fasting, or carb cycling, but these three things have radically changed my relationship with food. There are no gimmicks and no products to purchase.
As someone with a history of disordered eating, I am finally giving my body exactly what it needs and it has improved my energy, my sleep, and my eating habits. I only share about things like this if they are really and truly worth your time and money. This, for me, was the ticket I needed to have a healthy relationship with food again. I finally see what the hype is all about and I’m here for it.
If you are looking for a board game that is easy to play, that takes about 30 minutes, and is something that even your younger kids can get the hang of…I present to you Azul! Basically, you are artisans decorating the walls of the royal Palace of Dvora (of course you are) and the object of the game is to complete a row of patterns and get as high of as score as you can in the process. It sounds rather simple, but it reminds me a lot of Blokus because you have to use strategy to try to block opponents from nailing their patterns while still trying to tile your own wall.
The scoring is a bit confusing until you get the hang of it. I recommend checking out YouTube and watching people play the game, especially since it is such a quick game. It makes a lot more sense when you see it all in action.
If you are a fan of Blokus, I think you will like this game of strategy! My kids easily got the hang of it and, since the game is shorter, they didn’t even mind going a few rounds with us. I can see this being our new drinks-and-games choice when we have our friends over too!
Winter feels like it is never ending, over here in the Midwest, and I realized that my wardrobe has started to reflect that. I tend to go really neutral in the winter months with just the beige, and the gray, and the black, and the white. Honestly, I think that was adding to that Midwest winter doldrums.
I headed to thredup and just searched for floral and pulled up so many pretty patterns and used my birthday money (thanks, grandma!) to treat myself to a little spring. I also made a deal with myself that I would NOT buy anything in black-and-white stripes or in these blah colors at any point during this transaction. And it was tough. Because I love me some stripes. If you are feeling the blahs too, maybe search for a little floral for your closet too. I’m planning to trade out some black for a pretty print until Spring comes.
The last time I participated in the 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge, I managed to carve out a very unexpected bonus room in our house. I remember how freeing it felt to get rid of the things that we did not need anymore.
The clutter has a way of creeping up on us so I’m looking forward to participating in the challenge again, hot off the heels of all my Marie Kondo watching. If you need a kick in the pants too, I encourage you to sign up for this. I am really excited to start whittling away at some of our clutter and I love the accountability that comes from a good online challenge.
Here are a few of my favorite February captures
Haven’t seen these two in awhile? We aren’t too keen on letting mom take as many photos now that we have moved into these teenage years. They did let me take a quick snap though on our unexpected staycation. The power outage on our road ended up being the good kind of family bonding stuff we all needed. How nice to have a hotel just around the corner to relocate to! Can you believe that they are 13 and 16 now???
This mug always makes me laugh. Being a book blogger is equal parts awesome and overwhelming. I am buried under the summer reads that have been coming my way and crawling out at a snail’s pace. The thing is, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Volunteering at the food bank reminded me of what a privilege it is to eat the rainbow. I shared a little bit about that on my feed this month.
Did I mention what a joy it is to put together the Ten Laughs for Tuesday too? I love making you guys laugh and seeing your comments on these. Be sure to swing by my IG for a good laugh on Tuesday. Why Tuesday? Because nothing good happens on a Tuesday except this. 😉
Top Ten Most Visited Articles in February
- Easy Burlap Wreath Tutorial
- 3-Ingredient Instant Pot Ribs
- How to Organize Board Games
- January 2019 Must-Reads
- Best Homemade Non Stick Spray in the World (always cringing when I see these old photos!!)
- How to Make a Blanket Scarf
- How to Make Quinoa in the Rice Cooker
- DIY Roll-Up Jigsaw Puzzle Mat
- DIY Minecraft Costume Ideas
- January Happy List
Top Ten Most Purchased Items in February
- Soft-Touch Foot Peel Masks
- Neck & Shoulder Relaxer
- Moroccan Pouf
- Azul Board Game
- Argan Oil (my favorite moisturizer!!)
- Bluetooth Headphones
- Ankle Brace Compression Sleeves
- Rainbow Unicorn Hoodie
- True Body Lift Bra
- Happy Dish Towel
Top Ten Books Purchased in February
- The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter
- Lilac Girls
- The Air You Breathe
- The Animators
- Hum if You Don’t Know the Words
- The Lost Letter
- The Heart’s Invisible Furies
- My Oxford Year
- When They Call You a Terrorist
I hope you enjoyed this month’s round-up of February fun and I look forward to sharing more in March! I hope my month of happy brings a month of happy to you too! If this post doesn’t convince you my newsletter is fun, I’ve got nothing. Sign up over hereto get this fun weekly in your inbox.
*this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though. Check out past editions of It’s the 3 Little Things!