Monday, February 20, 2017

Tropical Smoothies Guaranteed To Add Sunshine to Your Morning

I don't know how the weather is where you live, but we were blessed with some WAY unseasonably warm weather this weekend and were all too happy to make the most of it!  Hard to believe a week ago we had a major snow storm!  But I'll take it!  We took the kids to Central Park yesterday and it was literally a breath of fresh air to spend a whole afternoon outside after being cooped up so much the week before.  PRAISE!

The soaring temps (it was 65 degrees yesterday!) have got me dreaming of even warmer days ahead.  So though we've got quite a ways until it will feel anything near tropical around here, I've rounded up some of my fave tropical smoothie recipes to wake your taste buds in the most pleasant of ways!  Smoothies are my favorite breakfast because they allow me to start my day on such a healthy note and make it easy to get lots of fruits and veggies in before the day has a chance to get away from me.  

I hope you enjoy these delish smoothies that happen to look as good as they taste!  Happy sipping, Besties!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

10 Inspired Celebrations For You and Your Besties

Hello again!!  My mind has been on all things celebrating this week, probably because I still have Kool and the Gang stuck in my head from yesterday.  I'm also hosting some friends for dinner next week and I've been on the lookout for ways to go the extra mile for them.  The menu is all set, but I want to make the setting a little special as well.  One reason is that several of my Besties are super crafty and creative...when they host, everything looks like Pinterest and I am in awe of them completely.  They love me regardless of the fact that there isn't a crafty bone in my body (Bestie confession:  my children, ages 4 and 6 are more artistic than I am and I fear I've been put on permanent paper plate/napkin duty for all class parties from here until graduation).  That said, I love looking at pretty things, so I've rounded up 10 amazing celebrations for us to draw inspiration from.

I'm especially loving the Woodsy Dinner Party (serious #goals) and the Festive Brunch.  Which celebration makes you want to spend your whole paycheck and gather your Besties around the table?

Happy hosting, Besties!!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Bestie Finds: Celebrate Good Times!

Bestie Finds:  Celebrate Good Times!

How was everyone's Valentine's Day?  I hope you all felt the love and spent precious time with everyone you hold dear!  My little Valentines were delighted by their candies and small gifts from my husband and I, and if you follow me on Instagram, you saw my husband delighted me with the complete works of Jane Austen...swoon!!  He knows my love language is Brit Lit.  God bless the man.

I'm still in a celebratory mood, so today's Bestie Finds is all about celebrating good times (come on!). Sorry if that song will now be stuck in your head the rest of the day.  Actually, #notsorry.  In fact, here.  You're welcome.  If you can listen to this song and not be in a good mood, maybe your Bestie Find should be a session in my office.  Kidding, Besties, only kidding!

Whether you've got a big soiree coming up, or you're simply hosting a dinner party for friends, take a look at these goodies sure to make your next event one to remember.  I'm especially loving the CHEERS garland and the disco ball drink tumblers, which also make me want to play more Kool & the Gang for you, but I'll leave that up to you.  One last note, if you're looking for more ideas for celebrating life (as you should!), check out one of my new favorite books, Celebrate Everything! by Darcy Miller.  

Raffia Pink Ribbon

Gold & Ivory Gift Bags

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to .  All opinions expressed are my own and I never recommend a product unless I truly love it!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

How to Marvel at Nature


Do you remember the first time you ever marveled at nature?  I mean, a time when you saw something so stunning and awesome that it literally took your breath away?  

I was fourteen at the Cliffs of Moher on a family trip to Ireland.  Standing so close to the edge of those amazing rocky cliffs, seeing the waves crash against the bottom of them repeatedly, and feeling the wind rushing around me as I stood there, I was completely awestruck.  I could hardly breathe for the splendor of it.  It made my heart feel something it never had before...pure, unadulterated wonder.  It was marvelous.  And for the first time, I marveled. 

I've been incredibly blessed to have visited a number of other places which caused me to marvel.  Scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef.  Sky diving over a mountain range on the South Island of New Zealand.  Standing at the rim of the Grand Canyon.  These are places where no words will ever do justice to what you behold, and no matter how many pictures you see of such a place, experiencing them firsthand will amaze you still.  

Needless to say, these experiences comprise my extraordinary life, not  my ordinary, everyday life.  The act of marveling at nature, however, is not something we need to have endless amounts of time or money to experience.  There are amazing things to behold right outside our doorstep.  

Aristotle said, "In all things of nature, there is something of the marvelous."  

He's right.  In every part of creation, there is something that points to more.  Something bigger than ourselves.  Something that can, if we are patient, evoke those feelings of wonder and marvel.  

But what's so great about marveling at nature?  Why should anyone try to marvel?  Most of us barely have time to get a breath of actual fresh air during the day, let alone time to search for something deeper in nature.  

Well, I've already shared 7 benefits of getting outside here, so let me start by telling you that a 2012 study by Logan & Selhub discovered a ton of really cool and interesting stuff about nature and the brain.  If you're the sciencey type, feel free to look it up.  If you're not, you should just know this:  the study revealed that experiencing nature is "like a little drop of morphine for the brain." 
In essence, our minds can't help but respond positively when we spend time in the great outdoors.  

Making time outside a priority has been proven to lower anger, increase self-control, improve immune functioning, improve cognition, increase pain threshold, and increase the antioxidant defense system.  It basically, all-around ROCKS.  To me, it is apparent spending time in nature and intentionally examining what we see, hear, touch, taste, and feel is something we were hardwired to do.  

Now that I've convinced you (hopefully) that marveling at nature is something we can all benefit from, let's get to the how-to part.  Most of us don't go around ooh-ing and ahh-ing about everything we see when we're outside.  We're just trying to get the kids to the bus stop or get back from our lunch break on time.  So what are some ways to practice marveling, to slow down and purposefully notice what's around us?

First, try this:  set a goal for yourself to take 16 pictures this week, either on your phone or with a fancy pants camera.  Take 16 pictures outside of things you find beautiful.  You can take them all at once, or a couple each day of the week. Notice how you feel as you are seeking out beauty, as you seek to marvel. At the end of the week, share your pictures with one of your Besties (this is actually a cool thing to do with a Bestie or two).  For each photo, explain in detail, exactly what you found beautiful or interesting.  Why did you take this photo?  

Next, notice how you feel as you describe each photo.  Do you feel calm, relaxed, happy, awestruck?  Try to pinpoint your specific emotions.  After the whole experience is said and done, write a few sentences about how you felt or what you learned.  You can do this in a journal or in a note on your phone.  This will serve as your motivation to seek beauty and marvel again in the future.

Once you have a week of beauty-seeking under your belt, you can decide how often and in what other ways you would like to marvel at this beautiful world we live in.  You could make it a goal to take one picture everyday of something in nature you find lovely.  If writing is more your thing, you could keep a journal in which you record your experiences of natural beauty.  You can plan a trip to a place where you are certain to marvel at your surroundings.  No matter what you choose, be sure to describe your experiences, either to another person or in writing.  Studies have also shown that recalling your experiences of natural beauty have some of the same mental health benefits as your first experience of it.

Henry David Thoreau said, "There are moments when all anxiety and stated toil are becalmed in the infinite leisure and repose of nature."  They truly don't call it the great outdoors for nothing.  I love how being outside and intentionally noticing what's there evokes feelings of calm and wonder, no matter where I am.  It refreshes my soul in ways that few other things do.  

May you all find a little more of yourself out there as well.  

Monday, February 13, 2017

A Week's Worth of Clean Dinners (No Recipe Required!)

How was everybody's weekend?  Mine was great, just super snowy!  It was gorgeous looking out at the snow falling, but that meant my husband had a far less relaxing weekend than I, shoveling and re-shoveling a whole lotta snow!

In other news, you can now follow Self Care Bestie on Facebook!  As I'm sharing a lot of what I do on social media, I've been noticing some trending hashtags related to self care.  We've already discussed #selfcaresunday, so today I want to talk about #mealprepmonday.  Have you heard of this?  It's basically a way for people to share how they plan their meals for the week (usually packing lunches for an entire week at once).  As we know, healthy eating can be a challenge in today's busy world.  Often we have the best of intentions to eat clean all day, only to be derailed when we wind up hungry and at a stoplight in front of a McDonald's.  When it comes to eating right, the old saying is definitely true...if you fail to plan, plan to fail.

To be honest, breakfast and lunch usually aren't my struggle when it comes to eating clean.  It's dinner that usually puts me into a tailspin, trying to figure out something my two picky boys will eat, as well as something that's not chicken nuggets for my husband and I to enjoy.  But I also don't want to make 2 or 3 different dinners each night, savvy?  

So what's a Bestie to do?  Plan, but KEEP IT SIMPLE.  I don't know about you, but most nights I don't have time to make a super complicated recipe with old grains and kale and ingredients I can't pronounce with cookware I don't own.  So I've come up with a week's worth of clean dinners that don't require a recipe and ingredients you can keep stocked for nights when you just can't even...but you'd still like to love your body by feeding it well.  For the sake of this post, I've organized them by day of the week, but obvs feel free to mix it up.  Take what works for you and leave the rest!

Sunday:  Salad greens with salmon, radishes, mushrooms, cucumber, carrots, balsamic vinaigrette.  Whole wheat crackers.  Grapes.

Monday:  Turkey burger lettuce wraps - ground turkey patty, slice cheddar cheese in a romaine leaf with tomato, red onion, salad dressing.  Blue corn tortilla chips.  Baby carrots with hummus.

Tuesday:  Grilled flank steak.  Baked sweet potato.  Broccoli & cauliflower sauteed in olive oil and garlic.

Wednesday:  Baked cod.  Acorn squash & sugar snap peas in olive oil with sliced almonds.

Thursday:  BBQ chicken breast.  Steamed broccoli sprinkled with parmesan cheese.  Whole-wheat couscous.

Friday:  Broiled salmon.  Baked sweet potato.  Broccoli sauteed in olive oil.  

Saturday:  Grilled chicken on mixed salad greens, cherry tomatoes, carrots.  Oil & vinegar.  Whole wheat crackers.

Per usual, I always have to give my "I'm not a doctor or a dietitian" disclaimer, but hopefully this at least provides some inspiration for clean, healthy dinners that don't require a culinary degree.  Bon appetit, Besties!

Friday, February 10, 2017

What to do with Intrusive Thoughts

Annnnnnd it's Friday again!  The weekend is just about upon us and I couldn't be happier to see it!  Lots of fun planned for my family, including a birthday party, Valentine's date night (ooh la la!) and a celebratory girls night dinner in honor of one of my Bestie's birthdays (Happy birthday, Christine!!). And let's be real:  I'm also celebrating because it means 2/3 dinners this weekend will be neither cooked nor cleaned up by me! HOLLA!

Before we officially get to the weekend, I wanted to touch base about our thought life.  How's it going, Besties?  I'm asking because there is a common misconception that people who struggle with intrusive thoughts have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  The reality is, while OCD is a serious problem for a lot of people, everyone struggles with thoughts they wish they weren't having sometimes.  Whether you feel inundated with guilt over things you can't control, anxiety about things that may or may not happen in the future, or unexplained sadness when a disturbing "what if" scenario suddenly springs to mind, we have all been there at some point or another.

What separates a normal amount of intrusive thoughts from something worthy of a clinical diagnosis is what you do with those thoughts when they happen.  A person with OCD or another type of anxiety disorder will typically be run away with these thoughts, making their present task extremely difficult or downright impossible.  So let's spend some time chatting about coping skills, shall we?

There is so much to share about these unwanted thoughts, but for today's post I will stick to the basics.

Feelings are not facts.  This is Psych 101.  Any good therapist will discuss this with a client who struggles with intrusive thoughts.  What we feel is POWERFUL.  When we have an emotion, we often feel it physically as well.  Our bodies have a physiological reaction to stress, anxiety, sadness, and excitement.  When our mind feels something, our bodies do too.  That makes the feeling very difficult to dismiss.  However, with practice, we can notice when we are having uncomfortable thoughts (perhaps when you sense your body is beginning to react) and say to ourselves "feelings are not facts" or "Just because I feel this, doesn't mean it's true."  If you can, try to think of a time when you felt the same way and your thought was not true.  Don't berate yourself; simply notice and remind yourself gently of the truth.

Try to understand your intrusive thoughts.  Intrusive thoughts have a greater chance of taking over if we don't understand how or why they are happening.  When we have a better understanding of underlying triggers that can cause unwanted thoughts and feelings, we are better equipped to cope effectively and reduce the chances of them recurring.  I use a tool called a thought record with almost all of my clients, and I have used them in my own life as well.  A thought record brings greater awareness to your experiences, moods, and thoughts, thus enabling you to process your intrusive thoughts and in turn, take away a lot of their power.   You can find a printable thought record here to give it a try.  

Return to the current moment.  Besties, this is a big one.  This takes practice and hard work.  BUT I promise the more you practice this, the easier it will become.  AND, the more peace you will experience.  I can tell you from personal and professional experience, the more you practice mindfulness, the more you will feel relaxed and in control of your thought life.  It's glorious.  So how do we return to the current moment?  Simply notice when we are not there (i.e. when our intrusive thoughts are present), and say something to yourself such as "Right now I am ____________."  Whatever you are doing in that moment.  For example, unwanted thoughts may occur when you're driving.  When you notice this, you say "Right now I am driving."  And then re-focus on just driving.  You can do this as often as you need to until your mind turns away from those intrusive thoughts.  

I hope you find these suggestions helpful.  Remember, everyone has had unwanted thoughts at some point or another.  If you or a loved one is truly feeling overwhelmed by obsessions, compulsions, or anxiety, please do call a therapist for some additional help.  Life is too short to live without peace of mind!  

Have a beautiful and peaceful weekend, my Besties!  Don't forget your self care! :)

Thursday, February 9, 2017

How Photos of Your #Squad Can Increase Your Happiness

Hey Besties!  I hope you're staying safe and warm wherever you are...we had a major blizzard in my neck of the woods today and are just getting shoveled out!

I'm so excited to share a guest post today at one of my very Bestie's sites, Jennie Lennon Photography.  Jennie and I became friends in high school, studied abroad in Australia together in college, and have maintained an amazing friendship throughout this thing called life. She is an incredibly talented newborn and family photographer and my family has been blessed to have her take some very special portraits for us.

Today I'm sharing all about the notion from positive psychology that increasing positive experiences increases happiness and overall well-being.  One super easy way to do that is to display your precious photos where you will see them often.  I hope you'll stop by to check it out!

design + development by kiki and co. creative