Friday, October 13, 2017

12 Things You Can do Today to Minimize Your Life

Stock Image

Minimalism is a lifelong journey. It doesn't happen overnight and it requires a change in mindset. Deciding to downsize your life can be overwhelming. The process of eliminating those things burdening you can be outright maddening if attempted all at once. It's an ongoing process with ups and downs just like anything else in life. Right now my upside is that the inside of my home is nearly where I want it and it brings me much more peace. The big downside is that my garage is full of everything I cleaned out of my living space and I either need to hold a garage sale or haul it off before it drives me crazy.

That said, there are simple things you can do, small steps to get you started. The following list is meant to help anyone in the beginning stages of minimalism build momentum and make those first baby steps toward a simpler life.

  1. Delete all social media from your phone. Yes, you read that right. We all know it's tempting to take a peek at Facebook while you've got your phone in your hand or upload your lunch to Instagram. Deleting social media will help you focus on the present moment and become more conscious of how you spend your time.
  2. Clean out your email inbox. Don't just delete messages, but unsubscribe from all those newsletters that pile up and never get read. If you are like me, you will need to do this in chunks, not all in one day, because I tend to allow my inbox to get overwhelmingly full. 
  3. Pick one room to start downsizing. I started with my bedroom. The kitchen is also a good place to start. Break it up even smaller and pick one drawer or one cabinet to clean out. The next day pick another one until you are done and ready to move on to the next room. 
  4. Be honest with yourself. I mean, come on, why are you really keeping that thing you don't use or care for? Is it out of guilt? Get rid of it! Especially if it has a bad feeling attached to it.
  5. Have a clear vision of the life you want to be living in your head. Do you want to move to a smaller home? Do you want to travel more? What is the end goal or goals? How minimal do you want to go?
  6. If possible, get your extended family on the same page. This can be especially hard if you have kids with well-meaning grandparents, or like me, have an ex who inundates his child with toys even though I've talked to him about it. If you can't get them on the same page, you'll just have to resort to occasional purges to get rid of things that the kids are no longer interested in. Luckily, I have a kid open to minimalism as long as I don't touch his Legos.
  7. With that in mind, respect the boundaries of the other members of your household. Don't be a jerk and secretly toss your partner's ugly sweater with holes that he really loves. This can be especially hard if you live with someone who leans more toward hoarding. I'm no expert there so I can't offer any advise, but if it's a normal situation and you want to get rid of it because YOU don't like it, just remember it's not yours to decide. My only exception to this rule is broken toys or other items that have become dangerous and/or irreparable.
  8. Practice the 24-hour rule when tempted to purchase something you see that you want but don't need. Wait 24 hours, then come back to it. Usually, by then the excitement over the thing has diminished and you will no longer want it. I do this all the time on Amazon. I'll save it to my wishlist and go back to it later to discover I'm just not interested in it anymore.
  9. When you do purchase things, buy them to last. It's not only better for your wallet, but also the environment. When you get to that point you no longer need or want it, it will still be in good enough shape to pass on to someone else or donate. 
  10. Find like-minded people to support your goals. Follow The Minimalists, No Sidebar, or other minimalist bloggers.  Join minimalist groups. Sometimes embracing minimalism can feel like a lonely journey when the world around you seems lost in over-consumerism. 
  11. Learn from my mistakes and don't fill your garage with all the stuff you cleaned out of your living space. Either hold that garage sale or donate it as you clear. If you have lots of stuff, most thrift stores have trucks that will come pick it up free of charge. You truly haven't let it go if it's still sitting around in your garage, even if you don't have to look at it every day. 
  12. Finally, don't compare yourself with other minimalists. There is no set number of things you must whittle down to or specific house you must live in. Minimalism is about simplifying YOUR life to make room for the things YOU enjoy, so it's going to be a very individualistic journey.


Monday, October 9, 2017

Single Serve Better Than Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte


It's autumn. Pumpkin everything is here. Either you love all the pumpkin things or it's like a pumpkin nightmare on Halloween. I happen to fall into the love all the pumpkin things category, including the very seasonal Pumpkin Spice Latte. I'm not willing to justify spending my money at Starbucks to enjoy one, though.

Don't get me wrong. Gift me a Starbucks card and I'll be there in a minute. I just don't have it in my budget.

Now, down here in Texas we really haven't had any days that have felt like autumn. We are supposed to get a cold front tomorrow, so maybe, just maybe we'll be blessed with autumn temperatures for a day or two. Still, the weather hasn't stopped me from enjoying a homemade pumpkin spice latte. It's actually quite easy to make.



While the recipe calls for milk, it can easily be adapted to a nondairy/vegan version. Our favorite nondairy milk right now is the Silk Vanilla Protein blend with almond and cashew milk. If you use the Silk Vanilla or any other vanilla flavored, sweetened nondairy milk, be sure to omit adding vanilla and sugar to the latte. If replacing the dairy with a plain nut milk, you'll still need to add vanilla and sugar to taste.

My coffee of choice is the Deathwish Vahalla Java blend. It's a great option for this recipe since you'll want a strong coffee, but of course, use whatever blend you favor.

Single Serve Pumpkin Spice Latte

1 C dairy or nut milk
1Tbsp pumpkin puree
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup strong hot coffee
Optional: whipped cream, dash of nutmeg

Heat milk over medium just until hot. Whisk in pumpkin puree and sugar. Remove from heat and add vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, and the hot coffee. Pour into a mug and, if desired, top with whipped cream and a dash of nutmeg. 

*Recipe may be doubled to share with a friend. 






Monday, September 25, 2017

Minimalism and Scarcity


Minimalism can feel like an abstract ideology to those who don't understand it. It can even be hard to define for people who do get it. But one misconception I see again and again is this idea that minimalism is about living without, taking a vow of poverty, of self-induced scarcity. Minimalism is something much simpler and more beautiful than that.

Scarcity is actually minimalism's nemesis. They are like oil and water. Minimalism is intentional and creates peace. Scarcity, whether perceived or real, stirs up fear. Case in point, about a week after Hurricane Harvey came through Texas it was rumored that there was a gas shortage here in San Antonio. Panic took over and people started lining up at the gas pumps in droves. It was taking hours to get through the line at some stations. People were bringing many containers to hoard gas. Soon there was a real gas shortage. It lasted for several days as trucks had a hard time hauling enough gasoline to make up for the shortage caused by the mass panic.

Scarcity, or the fear of, triggers hoarding.

Minimalism is only about living with the things you need or want, or, as Marie Kondo says, the things that bring you joy and the things you absolutely need. This very open-ended definition can fit many lifestyles from living on the road to living in an apartment in downtown Chicago.

Insist on holding onto your vast library of books? Awesome! Books bring me joy, too. Need your car for work. Of course. I wouldn't expect you to bike 10 miles in the sleet to get to work. It's your choice how you want to embrace minimalism. And that's the beauty of it. You don't have to throughout all of your stuff and go live in a grass hut with one pair of clothes and a notebook and pen..unless you want to.

The only rule, if you want to call it that:

RID YOURSELF OF EVERY SINGLE THING THAT WEIGHS YOU DOWN.



The dusty clutter, the photos of people you don't even remember who they are, the gifts kept out of guilt. Let them go. Look at time wasters, too. I deleted the Facebook app off of my phone because I didn't want myself casually clicking on it when I was out of the house. Clean out your email accounts and unsubscribe from all those newsletters you'll never read. Hang out with people who feed your soul.

Then fill that empty space with more time for family, more money for travel, time to meditate or write that novel. Things that make your heart sing.

Or, leave it empty like a great big blank canvas of opportunity.

It's really your choice.

Oh, and please refrain from judging those who are embracing minimalism a little bit different than you. Or those who don't choose to embrace it at all. We are all doing the best we can with what we know right now. And when we know better, then we may do better.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Antiviral Cough and Cold Syrup with Oregano Oil


Yesterday morning I woke up with a bit of a sore throat and watery eyes. I just chalked it up to allergies. This morning I felt kind of achy, too. Add in a runny nose and a dry cough. After walking the kid to school, I laid down for a short nap...and woke up three hours later. Ugh.

Still in denial, I checked the local pollen and mold count, and the air quality. Pollen and mold levels are low, air quality is good. Time to accept I have come down with a good ole' back to school cold virus. Come to think of it, the kid has had a bit of a runny nose, too.

Time to bring out the big guns.

As you probably know from taking yourself or a sick kid to the doctor with a slight fever and a runny nose, antibiotics don't help. But there is plenty you can do that will. Drink lots of healthy liquids such as herbal teas sweetened with raw honey, water, or coconut water. If you haven't already, cut out or decrease consumption of sugary, unprocessed foods. Get plenty of rest. Diffuse one of the following essential oils; peppermint, tea tree, lavender, lemon, or eucalyptus. Make a batch of a homemade cough and cold syrup with oregano oil, see recipe below.


Antiviral Cough and Cold Syrup with Oregano Oil

4 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup raw honey
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
6-8 drops oregano oil (make sure to use a high-quality food grade oil)
pinch of cayenne, optional

Warm honey either in a small pot on a stove burner set to low or by measuring into a glass jar and placing into a bowl of slightly hot water. Stir in coconut oil until thoroughly mixed. Remove from heat and add in lemon juice, cayenne if using, and oregano oil.

Take up to 1 Tablespoon, as needed. Give it a little shake or stir after sitting to redistribute oils.  Do not give to children under the age of one, as it contains honey. 

Store in a tightly sealed glass container. If it is going to be used up fairly quickly, there is no need to refrigerate. For long-term storage, you may refrigerate, but it will need gently warmed before using due to the coconut oil solidifying. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

How You Can Help Hurricane Harvey Victims

ABC News Satellite Image
The Hippy Home, if you weren't aware, is based out of San Antonio, Texas. I was watching updates on Harvey with great anxiety last Friday because early predictions put us in the path of this storm's catastrophic flooding. We narrowly missed disaster. For that I am grateful, but I sit here at my desk with the sun from now cleared skies shining in my window horrified at the events still unfolding in Houston and the destruction left behind in coastal towns like Port Aransas.

I have posted on social media that my home is open to anyone evacuating Harvey's wrath. That still stands, so if you or anyone you know needs a place to stay please reach out to me. In the meantime, if you would like to help out the victims Hurricane Harvey left in its wake, I have compiled a list of organizations that are in need.

The Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund is a local organization set up by the Houston mayor.

Several Texas food banks are collecting donations for victims. Those include the San Antonio Food BankHouston Food Bank, and the Food Bank of Corpus Christi.

You can donate to The Red Cross directly on their web page or text Harvey to 90999 to donate $10.

To help out with all of the pets displaced by Hurricane Harvey, you can donate to the San Antonio Humane Society or the Houston Humane Society.

You can help the wildlife affected by the floods here: TWRC Wildife Center.

Unfortunately, there are folks who take advantage of bad situations, so make sure you donate to a reputable organization to avoid scammers. 

From the great state of Texas, I say thank you. It is heartwarming to see so many people coming together in our time of need. I have seen and heard awesome stories of humanity pulling together in adversity. 





Monday, August 28, 2017

Don't Know What to Do With That Bag of Kale You Just Bought? Try These 5 Kale Recipes from Around the Web.



I have a confession to make. I bought a big bag of organic kale because it was discounted by 50%. Once I got home with it, I was at a loss as to what to do with it. Usually, I stick to baby kale and mix it in with salads. But we are talking a big bag here. There are just two of us.

What was I thinking?

Since I've already put in all the research, I thought I would share it with  you so if you ever found yourself in the same predicament, staring at a bag of kale you have no idea what to do with, you have all the resources you need so you can use up that kale before it becomes a bag of slime in your refrigerator.

Photo Credit: Serious Eats/Jennifer Segal
Kale, Apple, and Pancetta Salad

This salad will be on our plates for dinner tonight. With the combination of kale, apples, and pecans, it makes a perfect fall salad. Serve it as a main dish or a side. It would also make a beautiful and healthy Thanksgiving side dish.

Photo Credit: Heidi Swanson/101 Cookbooks

Ribollita

101 Cookbooks is one of my favorite food blogs. Blogger Heidi Swanson describes this dish as a thick Tuscan stew thickened with day old bread. This vegetarian stew requires a whole pound of kale, so if you bought the big bag this is the recipe for you. Another great fall recipe, especially when we get into the cooler days, which will be around December down here in Texas.


Photo Credit: Brian Woodcock
Sausage and Kale Pesto Pizza

You could easily swap out the pork sausage for a plant based sausage to make this vegetarian. This savory pie is full of bold flavor and is shaped and baked in a cast iron skillet.

Photo Credit: Cookie and Kate
Southwest Kale Power Salad

What's not to like about this vegetarian (and gluten free) salad? It's chock full of nutrition and southwest flavor. Sweet potatoes, yes! Avocado, I'm in heaven. The best part of all is that it's a complete meal in a bowl. No need to serve anything else with it.

Photo Credit: Dana at Minimalist Baker
Hide Your Kale Smoothie

Finally, no list would be complete without a smoothie recipe, and this one's not green! Not only that, but the kale taste is hidden as well. The best part of this is that you don't have to use fresh kale, so if you have leftovers in that giant bag and you are still at a loss as to what to do with it, throw it in the freezer and use it to make a kale smoothie for a great breakfast on the run.



Saturday, August 12, 2017

Staying Centered When The World Feels Out of Control



I know I'm not the only one who looks around and thinks our society has collectively gone mad on many levels.

Yesterday, on my way home, I decided to stop into the newest HEB grocery store because I needed to pick up some milk. It was opening day. People were filling the parking lot. I grabbed my milk and decided to look around, but after a couple of minutes decided to head straight for the checkout. It's a beautiful store, shiny and bright, filled with a wide selection of items, but is it really what we need? Wouldn't the world be better with more farmers markets, local bakeries, small mom and pop shops? Do we really need another Wal-mart, Target, corner drug store, gas station, etc.?

Folks, we are rushing headlong into an environmental disaster. And we don't seem to be able to stop ourselves. We are like buffalo running ourselves off a cliff.

While all of this is going on, our country is dangerously divided. People are slinging hateful words at each other, and worse. The threat of a war with two different countries is being flung about. Every day, the news brings something else negative and the divide gets wider.

Then there are our own personal struggles. Right now mine is the struggle to build a thriving business while taking care of all the responsible stuff as a single parent. Some days are about flow. Some days are full of resistance and I just want to give up.

It can be hard to not feel discouraged. But there are some things you can do, that I do, to help keep you in the right mindset.


Acknowledge Your Feelings

It's important that we own how we are feeling. When we feel discouraged, we may try to push down the sadness and disappointment. Or, if you are prone to anxiety or depression, curl up in a ball and hide from the world. But in neither of these instances are we owning how we feel. We need to be able to look in the mirror and say to ourselves, "Yes, I'm feeling really overwhelmed right now.  Things feel out of control."  



Ask Yourself This One Question

What is one step I can take today towards achieving XYZ? Whether XYZ is taking control of where your food comes from, speaking out politically, building a business, working toward minimalism, or something entirely different, just take that one step that is in your power to take. There is always something you can do, no matter how small. 

Minimalize

When you're surrounded only by the things that bring joy to your life or you need to make your life run smoother, your life isn't going to feel as chaotic on a personal level. It's one more thing you can feel you have control over when things aren't going as planned. 


Find Your Tribe

Find people who understand your way of looking at things. Then reach out to them. Isolation can be devastating when you are feeling overwhelmed. I know first hand. Taking a step back is fine, especially if you are an introvert in need of recharging. Hiding out and avoiding people, especially those people who can lift you up, is unhealthy.


Get Out In Nature

Research has shown that exposure to the natural world is healing. If you aren't up for a hike through the wilderness, take your morning coffee outside and listen to the morning bird song. Grab someone from your tribe and go for a walk or run at a local park. You will be avoiding isolation, getting some exercise, and exposing yourself to nature all at once. 

Detach From Social Media

Some of us, like me, depend on social media to promote our businesses. I can't be away from it for large chunks of time. But I can step away for blocks of time. One thing I did so I'm not absent mindedly clicking into Facebook when I'm out is to simply uninstall the app from my phone. I can only access Facebook from my laptop or my tablet. In fact, I don't have any social media apps on my phone, so if you want to get ahold of me when I'm away from my desk you will have to call or text. I'm looking at going further and declaring one solid day where I step back from social media. 

And finally...



Keep A Gratitude Journal

I can't stress this enough. I have kept one for five years now. I switched from keeping a traditional journal to a gratitude journal because I felt like I was focusing too much on the negative stuff. I don't write in it every day, but I do make sure to sit down with it several times a week, especially on those days things don't feel like they are going well. It is on those days that you especially need to sit down and take stock in every positive in your life, no matter how small. Maybe it's just that you got out of bed and combed your hair. Write it down. The plus about a gratitude journal: you won't need to burn them to get rid off all the negative stuff you don't want your children to read when you are gone. 

What do you do to help keep you centered during crazy times? I'd love to hear your stories.



Friday, August 4, 2017

Healthy Black Bean and Corn Salad


I'm not sure why I haven't shared this recipe with you guys yet. It's a summer staple around here. The best part of all is it requires no cooking, thus no heating up your kitchen on an already hot day. Just chop some veggies, toss in some beans, pour on the dressing and you are ready to go! I usually serve with a side of tortilla chips.

A cold bottle of Topo Chico sparkling mineral water tops it all off. Easy to find here in San Antonio, apparently it's gotten the attention from foodies all around the country. It's bottled in Monterrey, Mexico, so it's no surprise that we've known  about it here in south Texas for quite some time. After all, the drive to the border of Mexico is shorter than the drive to Dallas. But, I've strayed off topic. Back to the Black Bean and Corn Salad recipe.



If you want your dressing slightly sweetened, add a little honey to taste, or agave to keep it vegan. You don't have to use fresh corn. I use frozen sweet corn straight out of the bag. I don't even worry about thawing it out.




Black Bean and Corn Salad

  • 3 cups sweet corn (cool, if cooking fresh)
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 large avocado, diced
  • 2 cans black beans, rinsed
  • 2 green onions, chopped
dressing
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • juice from 2 limes
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • salt, to taste
Place corn, tomatoes, avocado, black beans, and green onions in a large bowl. In a separate container, mix together the ingredients for the dressing. Whisk until well combined and pour over the salad. Stir gently to avoid mashing the avocado. Serve immediately. 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Great Purge: Peeling Back the Layers of Over Consumption


It amazed me how much stuff one can own. According to a March 2014 article in the Los Angeles Times, the average U.S. household contains 300,000 items. 47% of all toys and books are owned by children in the U.S., who only make up 3.7% of the children on the planet. It feels like 80% of those toys are in my son's room right now. Ugh. Well, to be fair, it's mostly Legos, but still...

The path to minimalism is a peeling of the onion. Layer one, all the stuff. Step one, the initial purge. This step can be a bit overwhelming. Where do you even begin? My suggestion is to start with the obvious. What stands out as a burden to you? What brings bad memories or sits around collecting dust? Put it in a box and get rid of it. Donate it to a local thrift shop, a homeless shelter, a women's and children's shelter. Hold a garage sale.

My initial purge was brought about by the end of a tumultuous marriage. I got rid of everything that reminded me of his presence. That was a really easy purge, I admit. I had a big garage sale and made enough money to pay the rent.

During the second purge, you will likely dig a little deeper. By this point, there may be some things you have been holding on to that suddenly seem trivial or silly to keep. Why do I have enough wine glasses to throw a party when I am more likely to just have one or two friends over?  What am I keeping this heavy winter coat for when it never gets cold enough to wear it where I live?

Peel that onion back. Peel some more.



The hardest part? Fighting back all the stuff well-meaning people in your life will gift you and (especially) your children during the holidays. If you find the answer to that, get back to me.

I'm in the process of yet another purge. I'm peeling away to get down to the core of what I actually need to own and what I want to keep around because it makes me happy. I've cleaned out a dressing table that mostly served as a place to catch dust, pile unfolded laundry, and just generally gather a messy junk heap that the cat enjoyed pushing into the floor. I have it for sale and I really hope a buyer comes along quickly because it's already becoming covered with stuff once again.

I've purged my kitchen yet again until I'm mostly down to the basics. I am left with one dilemma in the kitchen. I have two sets of dishes. One is a collectible and pretty. The other is basic every day and chipped from misuse. My inclination is to sell the collectible set and keep the set I don't mind getting banged up, but the other set brings me more joy. These are the kinds of dilemmas you will find yourself in as you minimalize your possessions, but don't get stuck on them. For now, I'll keep both and figure it out later.

Minimalizing can take time. Most minimalists don't begin by giving away or selling everything overnight to live out of a bus with their suitcase full of clothes. It's a slow removal of what doesn't work for you. It's a monthly or quarterly or yearly revisiting of the things that surround you, peeling the layers of consumerism that drown our society in too much stuff until you get to the core of who you are and what you need.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Help A Little Blog Grow



Dear readers,

I'm asking for a favor.

If you have read my blog posts, Living an Authentic Life and Redefining Earning A Living, you are well aware of my journey towards living a simple, sustainable lifestyle supported financially through writing, photography, and painting. My goal with this blog, particularly, is to write more often, create some freebies for you, and streamline the appearance. The blog ironically feels too cluttered, though I write about minimalism regularly.

I started The Hippy Home five years ago, not to make money, but simply to share some of my passions with you. I began at a rough time in my life. I previously ran another blog that started out documenting my family life, but it turned into something darker when my ex turned abusive. The Hippy Home was a new beginning, a focus on the something positive. A look toward a better future.

This is where you come in. What is my blog worth to you? If you find value in what you read here, I ask that you click on the image link below to contribute toward growing The Hippy Home. It's quite OK if you don't. You may be in a place where it is difficult to contribute. You may be a skeptic. Maybe you think everyone should be able to pull themselves up by their bootstraps with no help from strangers. That's OK. But if you have found real value in anything I've posted, please consider a contribution that will help me transition to supporting myself and my son through blogging. If you leave me a little note with your address, I'll even send you a hand drawn postcard from Texas with a big thank you from me and the boy.

Sincerely,
Gina
The Hippy Home

Click Image Below:

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Cilantro Lime Dressing Recipe


I've been on an obsession with grain bowls (watch for an upcoming blog post). If you aren't familiar with them, they usually start with a grain, most often rice, and are topped off with a wide array of vegetables. They are quite versatile and can be created in endless flavor combinations. I decided to create a Southwest grain bowl using barley. I topped it with roasted sweet potatoes, corn, avocado slices, and black beans. To make it even more flavorful, I whipped up a batch of Cilantro Lime Dressing to drizzle over the vegetables. My picky eater devoured it.

No doubt this dressing would be great on refreshing summer salads, too. Mix it up in a wide mouth jar so you can easily refrigerate left overs.

Cilantro Lime Dressing

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 TBSP mayonnaise
  • 3-6 TBSP milk
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 2 pinches cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 TBSP fresh lime juice
Add all ingredients to a wide mouth jar. Mix until smooth. Add more milk a tablespoon at a time if mixture is too thick. Cover and refrigerate before using. 



Saturday, July 15, 2017

Natural Relief for Sore Muscles


It hurt to move this morning. Yesterday, I really pushed myself hard with overhead presses during my crossfit class. My shoulders were in intense pain. I've been doing crossfit for about a year and a half, so it's not the first time my muscles have complained after a workout. It's almost a constant, actually.

It obviously doesn't take a grinding workout to leave you with aching muscles, though. I've woken up with tight, aching neck muscles just from sleeping wrong.


Instead of popping an over the counter pain medication, try one of these natural remedies for soothing those aches and pains:

Foam Roller


I love my foam roller. I use it regularly. It's great for working out tight leg and thigh muscles, as well as your upper back and shoulders. You can find them just about everywhere these days. I bought mine off of Amazon, but I've also seen them at Target and some discount stores. I've included the following video to with some good tips on how to use a foam roller.


Hot Pepper Stick

                                           
The Hot Pepper Sha-Bang muscle stick was a life saver for me after I injured my back last December. I was looking for natural pain relief when my friend Crystal posted about the muscle stick on her Facebook timeline, so I gave it a try. Capsaicin is the soothing ingredient, radiating a nice, warm feeling across sore muscles. I'd put it on the injured area before a workout. When my body heated up, so did the hot pepper stick. It was like a portable heating pad. You can also apply direct heat with a hot towel or heating pad. I recommend keeping some in your medicine cabinet. You can find it here: Perfectly Posh.


Magnesium 

You can use either oral magnesium tablets or take a nice, warm bath with magnesium salt, more commonly known as Epsom Salt. Add about a cup of Epsom Salt and soak for about 15 minutes. For the extra benefit of relaxing the muscles and easing inflammation, add about 3 drops of lavender oil to the water.

If your body is deficient in magnesium, it can cause muscle soreness and cramps. Keep foods like almonds, sunflower seeds, cashews, and pumpkin seeds on hand for a healthy snack high in magnesium. A good magnesium supplement can help, too. I can tell when my body isn't getting enough magnesium when I start craving chocolate. 

Tart Cherry Juice


According to an article by Oregon Health and Science University, runners participating in a study showed less inflammation and significantly less pain after consuming tart cherry juice a week before they ran a long distance race compared to runners in a placebo group. They also had faster muscle recovery. You can read the entire article here: Tart Cherry Juice Reduces Muscle Pain and Inflammation.

Massage


A massage after an intense workout can not only make you feel better, but it also helps with muscle recovery by decreasing inflammation. So go ahead and book that massage after your next workout. Just a short, 10 minute massage is all that is needed to feel the benefits, however, book me for the whole hour! Make sure to request essential oils like rosemary, eucalyptus, and thyme for added relief.

Over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen may bring relief, however they have been shown to cause heart, stomach, and kidney issues. So toss out the pills and use one of these proven natural choices for pain relief. Oh, and be sure to drink plenty of water. Dehydration can cause muscle cramping and soreness as well.




Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Redefining Earning a Living


I've always felt a calling toward creating. Painting, photography, writing. I was always told those weren't legitimate choices. People like to throw out the much overused "starving artist". Then they pick some poor artist or writer who remained unknown until his or her death to use as an example. You'll end up like that, they'd say. So I've always held on to the belief that as long as I pursued these callings I wouldn't make any money from it. And, guess what? I've never really earned any money from any of these endeavors. I mean, yeah, I've earned a little here or there, but not really what I was worth. Because I wasn't expecting to.

Our American society, and perhaps all societies built on similar economic systems, holds that the only worthy way of earning a living is by sacrificing your time and your dreams. It's the American dream you are supposed to be going after. Big house, nice car, pretty things. You get a J-O-B working for someone else at least 40 hours a week. If you are lucky, it's something that both pays well and brings some level of satisfaction. If you are lucky. If not, you slog away your days for someone else just so you can keep a roof over your family and food on the table. In our society it's never been about what brings you joy. It's how much money you make and all of the things that you can buy with that money.



Earn a living. The word "living" should never be associated with monetary worth. That's where we have gone horribly wrong. You earn an income for the deemed value of your work. That value often seems arbitrary to the whims of society, e.g. starving artist.

There is another way.

Minimalism and the tiny house movement are a part of this revolution to rethink and redefine what it means to earn a living. If you have less stuff, you need less money to maintain or replace that stuff. You can work less or chose work not by how much it pays, but by how much joy it brings you. That is liberating, especially for someone who doesn't fit in with this consumerist mold.

Someone like me.

And now here I am J-O-B less. Falling into the same traps. Hearing those old voices. You can't make a living blogging. No one wants to buy your art. The photography market is over saturated. You can't earn a living that way. You need to get a real job. Rent is coming due and you are broke. Get real.

I've given up on those dreams too many times. I quit art school. I stopped painting for a while. I stopped writing, stopped trying to get published. I gave up my photography business because the ex told me I needed to get that "real" job. Start. Stop. Start. Stop.

I'm tired of stopping. I'm angry at those voices. It's time to prove them wrong.

I've read about people young and old who sold everything to live a mobile life. Some earn a living through their computers. Some live off of the funds from selling everything that held them down. I've read about people who live off a small plot of land, modern day homesteaders who need very little from the outside world. There are the urban minimalists who live in small apartments and use their time and money on experiences instead of filling up an oversized house with stuff. These people are truly redefining what it means to earn a living. If they can do it, so can I. If they can do it, so can you.

Embrace your joy and earn a livable income. The two aren't mutually exclusive, contrary to what we've been taught.




Sunday, July 2, 2017

21 Day Kindness Challenge



I fully admit I've been struggling. June was a rough month for me. Sometimes when you decide to do something big, fear can grip your heart with some big old ugly claws. I've been stuck inside my head too much, worrying about not being able to cover the bills, taking myself too seriously, and generally falling into a self absorbed funk, which accomplishes nothing towards being able to actually pay the bills and left me feeling highly anxious.

I know I'm not the only one struggling these days, and our current political environment doesn't help. The news looms large with violence and negativity. Our world is a mess.



A couple days ago I watched the video, My Turning Point, by Kristina Kusmic (aka Truth Bomb Mom). I found myself sobbing loudly and uncontrollably. I haven't allowed myself a good, healthy cry like that in a long time. It really hit home. I'll post the video at the end because I want to get to the challenge, but it was something I deeply related to and got me thinking, What is one little thing I can do right now? What am I good at?

I like to think I'm good at blogging. I can use that platform to help others.

So, the 21 Days of Kindness Challenge was born, just a few hours ago actually. Starting tomorrow, July 3, 2017,  I want all my readers to perform one mindful act of kindness every day for 21 days (I will be participating, too) and come back here or to the Hippy Home One Simple Change Challenge Group and share your act of kindness. Buy a cup of coffee for a stranger. Put change in someone's parking meter that's about to expire. Contact that friend you haven't talked to in a while and let them know you are thinking about them. Pick up trash in your neighborhood. Volunteer your time. Reach out to an elderly neighbor. There are so many ways to express kindness that don't involve money. Think outside of the box. And if you are having a particularly rough time, save one of those 21 days to treat yourself with kindness.

Share this post everywhere. Spread the love. Let's see how many people we can get on board. The world needs more kindness and change starts with one small act at a time. With many small acts from many people, amazing things can happen. The world may be a mess, but there is still beauty out there. Kindness and goodness still exist. Let's do this!

Here's the video I promised you. Have some tissues ready.



Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Flapjacked Carrot Spice Protein Pancake Mix Review


I usually make my pancakes from scratch.  My boys favorite are my Pumpkin Pancakes with Hot Cider Sauce. We eat a lot of pancakes in this house, so I was thrilled to be picked as a winner of a protein pancake mix in a Facebook contest held by Flapjacked. I've tried their protein smoothie mix and found them to be delicious. I was excited to try another product.

I'm picky about the food I buy. I won't buy it if I find the ingredients list is full of artificial junk. There is nothing but good stuff on the ingredient list for Flapjacked Carrot Spice Protein Pancakes; whole oat flour, whey protein, pea protein, carrots, coconut flour, spices, baking soda, baking powder, salt, xanthan gum, and monk fruit.


You can mix the pancakes a couple different ways, according to your taste and dietary requirements. Just adding water, the protein content is 20%. Substitute the water with milk and gain another 5% protein. Or, like I did, use milk and add an egg to the mix for a whopping 34% protein.

The consistency of this mix is perfect. I've tried another protein pancake brand and their mix is always a bit runny by the package directions. These pancakes fry up nice and fluffy. We topped them with cinnamon honey pecan cream cheese and a little real maple syrup. The flavors complimented each other nicely. Everyone in our household gobbled them up. It was almost like eating carrot cake for breakfast.

While I have yet to see Flapjacked pancake mix sold locally, you can get them on Amazon or directly from their website Flapjacked. In addition to their protein pancakes sold in different flavors and their smoothie mixes, they also sell cookie mix and mighty muffins.

With the ease of use, protein content, and quality of ingredients, I will be purchasing their products again. But on slow Sunday mornings, I'll still be making up a batch of my homemade pancakes.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Keeping Backyard Chickens Cool in the Summer Heat


It's hot in Texas. Really hot. Our high today was 99 degrees Fahrenheit with a heat index set on broil. People are talking about baking cookies on the pavement. We are still in June, people. We still have to get through July and August. This just might be a long hot summer.


The heat can be especially dangerous for your backyard flock, but there are several ways you can help your chickens stay cool.

  1. Add ice to their water. I freeze a large block of ice and plop it into their water when the temperature starts to rise. Who doesn't like a nice, cool drink of ice water on a hot day? I know I do.
  2. My chickens love cold watermelon. Watermelon is great for keeping them hydrated in addition to  cooling them off. You can also feed them frozen corn, peas, or blueberries. But provide these as treats, not as replacements for their feed.
  3. Make sure their coop is well ventilated. If air is unable to freely circulate, the coop is going to be miserably hot. Add a fan for extra air flow, if needed. Just make sure the fan is properly secured so your chickens don't get hurt and make sure any electric cords are safely plugged in and away from any water or fire hazards. 
  4. Spray down a dirt patch where they can take a mud bath and cool off. I'm thinking I'm going to try this with my girls this week. 
  5. Make sure they have plenty of shade. My coop is under a tree and stays mostly shaded all day. I also free range my hens. On hot days they usually hide in the overgrown shrubs under the trees on the side of my house. 
  6. Provide electrolytes. Mix 1 cup of water with 2 teaspoons sugar, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon baking soda. Provide 1 cup electrolytes to one gallon of water. If your hens appear stressed from the heat, give it to them full strength.
  7. Freeze bottles of water and place near nesting boxes. 
  8. Mist down the chicken coop or run. 
  9. Partially fill a small kiddie pool with cool water. You don't want to lose any chickens from drowning so only fill it about an inch or two. 
  10. Have several sources of water for drinking available. I have dog bowls and a large plastic dish tub I fill up and leave in several places so they have easy access to water.