Matcha Mania // My Favorite Coffee Alternative

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I am such a morning person and I love my morning routine.  Waking up before the rest of the house, making a french press full of coffee, and savoring the peace and quiet before the chaos.  I really have no intention of completely giving up coffee.  However, I noticed recently that the occassional cup of afternoon coffee had become an every day necessity.  A crutch to get me through my afternoon slump.

Afternoon coffee just wasn’t giving me that same warm fuzzy feeling that my morning coffee did.  It never tasted as good (I am convinced that our tastebuds change throughout the day), and it made me jittery, and after a couple of hours I felt just as lethargic as before I drank it.

I have been insta stalking all things matcha lately.  The pretty green tea that is oh so trendy.  So you might be wondering, what exactly is matcha?  Well, simply put, matcha is powdered green tea.  It is made by grinding green tea leaves into a fine powder.  When you drink matcha you are actually consuming the whole tea leaf vs. just an infusion.  This makes matcha higher in antioxidants than your average green tea and including the antioxidant EGCg which is among one of the most powerful and beneficial antioxidants on the planet.  Antioxidants are important to keep our bodies’ from oxidization on the cellular level, slowing and preventing aging.  Matcha has also been shown to boost metabolism.  So many wins!

I have always loved the taste of tea so switching to matcha for my afternoon pick me up has been easy.  I can drink it straight, or if I feel like getting fancy I will add a little honey, coconut oil (the oily stuff in the top photo!), and coconut milk to it.  Matcha still has about the same amount of caffeine as coffee, but the way the body processes it is more of a gentle steady release of energy vs. the sudden jolt and subsequent crash that I was getting from my coffee.

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I have been taking my matcha time as a second dose of daily calm and quiet time.  Making it my new favorite ritual.

Have you tried matcha?  What are some of your favorite brands and combos?

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Chia Pudding Parfait

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Chia seeds, like quinoa are an ancient seed native to the Americans and have been used by indegenous people for hundreds of years.  They have really grown in mainstream popularity in the past few decades.  First we saw the seeds come into our culture sprouted on terra cotta animals to make the cha-cha-cha Chia Pets, and more recently as an “SUPERFOOD.”

I always wonder if there is a deciding board sitting somewhere determining which foods get granted superfood status!  Chia is definitely highly nutritous, so I would concur with the title in this case.  Chia is a great source of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, high in fiber, and a plant based protien source.  It has quite a few vitamins and minerals, and is high in antioxidants.  Chia seeds benefits include improved skin, digestion, and have been shown to promote heart health by raising good cholesterol…AMAZING!

Chia seeds can be eaten fresh, or soaked.  Since they absorb 10 times their weight in water, they can be dehydrating if they are eaten fresh.  You can soak them in water for a couple of hours before adding them to a smoothie, or you can use them to make chia pudding.  This is my recent favorite!  It is one of the tastiest and easiest ways to get these seeds into your diet.

I tried a couple of recipes for chia pudding, but this one from my friend Ember’s blog, is my favorite so far.  It is the coconut milk that makes all of the difference.  She uses full fat canned coconut milk, but I used the lite kind, and it was still perfect!  I am all about eating a small amount of healthy fat, but I limit my intake.  A popular saying in the vegan community is “the fat you eat is the fat you wear,” so I try to make sure to limit my fats, and since the chia is already pretty high in fat I used light coconut milk.

I have been making this ahead of time, popping it in the fridge for anywhere from 4 hours to overnight.  It is always so great to have something healthy in the fridge that I can grab when I am short on time.  The only thing that makes chia pudding even better is layering it with a smoothie filled with more fresh fruit and superfoods.  You can play around with this recipe, using whatever smoothie you are into at the moment.  I have been sticking to berries lately because I always have them on hand, but pineapple or mango would work really well here too with the coconut.

What you will need:

  • 2  heaping tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup light caned coconut milk
  • 1/2 banana, frozen
  • 1/2 cup frozen berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries or a mix)
  • 1/2 cup spinach
  • 1 cup coconut water

Place the chia seends and coconut milk into a small jar and refridgerate for at least 4 hours so that the chia seeds have absorbed the milk and it is the consistency of pudding.  When you are ready to serve, add the remaining ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.  Now, either layer the smoothie and chia pudding in a cup or just add a little of the smoothie to the jar with the chia pudding.  Top with fresh fruit and extra chia or hemp seeds if desired.

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Cheers!

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Do you Kombucha?

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I am sure you have heard of the trendy sparkling probiotic goodness that is kombucha, or loving referred to as booch.  It was definitely a buzz word in my yoga teacher training this year.  The kombucha trend that I am totally OBSESSED with.  Now you might be wondering, “What is exactly is kombucha and why do I need it in my life?”

Kombucha has been used for thousands of years in Chinese culture as a health elixer.  It is made by fermenting green or black tea.  The fermentation process naturally produces good bacteria aka live probiotics (another little buzz word in the wellness world).  These little bugs are beneficial to our gut health and what is good for our gut health is good for our overall health.  70% of our immune system lives in our guts, and since we are in the midst of a record breaking flu season, I want my immune system to be in great shape.  Kombucha’s probiotics also improves digestion, making it easier for your body to absorb vitamins and minerals.

In addition to the probiotics, most kombucha also contains B vitamins, a natural energy booster, and who doesn’t need that our busy world?  I can definitely feel this benefit right away when drinking it.  If I am craving that 4th cup of coffee, I know that I would feel much better grabbing a kombucha in the long run.

What I look for in a kombucha…first, I don’t buy any kombucha that has over 40 calories per serving.  Anything over that is usually pretty loaded with extra added sugars.  Second, I love a booch that has some additional benefits.  I have found that the Kevita and GT’s brands are very consistent on these fronts.  The GT’S Enlightened Multi-Green kombucha is one of my favorites.  It combines the benefits of kombucha with superfoods like algae, spirulina and chlorella.

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The last thing I love about kombucha is it is the perfect thing to grab when I want to sip on a fizzy soda.  It curbs my cravings for caffine and sugar.  It does have a little bit of a vinegar taste, and I love that, but I understand that it may not be everyone’s cup of (fermented) tea.

Do you kombucha?  What are some of your favorite brands and flavors, or are you adventurous enough to make it at home?

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Healing Turmeric Latte

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It seems like the flu epidemic this year is the top news story right now. Schools in my area are shutting down to be sanitized, and despite our best efforts, we have not been immune at our house. We have struggled this winter to stay well, dealing with bouts of the flu, colds, and strep throat.

When I had the flu, my yoga teacher suggested loading up my system with turmeric, garlic, and ginger, all known to be anti-viral and anti-inflammatory herbs.

Turmeric is known to be especially healing and has been used in Ayurveda for thousands of years to treat a variety of viral and bacterial infections. Curcumin, the naturally occurring bio-active ingredient in turmeric is a well studied anti-inflammatory substance. The curcumin in turmeric becomes even more powerful when mixed with black pepper. In India and Pakistan, where turmeric is a dietary staple, cancer rates are significantly lower than in countries where turmeric is not regularly consumed.

Turmeric is delicious in curries, but I also love to use it to make “Golden Milk” a latte that combines turmeric with milk and sugar, or in this case, almond milk and honey which is a natural way to soothe a cough.  I also add in cinnamon, another warming spice, which is not enhances the flavor, but in Ayurveda cinnamon enhances the bio-availability of other herbs.

To make the latte you will need:

  •  1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (I like the Malk brand because of the limited ingredients)
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of raw honey

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a simmer, turn the heat to low and let simmer for 5 minute, stirring frequently.  Drink immediately.

Cheers to health and happiness!

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My BBG Journey and Why I Quit

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Yes, that is me above.  I was just finishing week 24 of BBG and I thought I was looking pretty great!  I have never been the type to pose for these body shot selfies, BBG and the #bbgcommunity made me do some funny things.

Here is the deal.  Yes, BBG made me strong and lean.  I looked pretty damn good for the ripe age of 35.  It also made me tired, constantly sore, agitated, and more self conscious than I have ever been. TRUTH BOMB!

 

You might be asking, what is BBG?  Well,  BBG stands for Bikini Body Guide and was developed by Kayla Itsines, a personal trainer from Australia and Instagram sensation.  The format consists of 3 resistance workout a week that are 28 minutes each.  It also includes doing a few days a week of LISS (low intensity steady state) workouts like walking or biking,  and a couple of HIIT (high intensity interval training) session towards the end of the program. I like that the resistance training is relatively short at only 28 minutes, and can be done from any where with minimal equipment.  This worked well with my schedule as a stay at home mom.  The workout always left me dripping with sweat since a lot of it is plyometrics based training.

BBG also has a huge community on social media.  Just check out the BBG hashtag on Instagram and prepare to be “inspired.”  This is what really got to me after awhile.  Seeing the all of these women posting their “progress selfies” on Instagram really felt like a competition.  I felt like I was killing it in the gym, but I was constantly comparing my progress with everyone else’s.  It went from encouraging in the beginning to discouraging after awhile.  Girls with amazing bodies posting things like “it’s not about how you look, but how you feel.”  Umm, yeah right!

I can definitely say that after 36 weeks, I was done.  My knees and back were always hurting from the insane amount of jumping involved.  I was bored and really started to dread my workouts.  I transitioned back to doing lots of yoga with some occasional running and resistance training mixed in.

My BBG transformation photo  Round 1 vs Round 2

 

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Six Months Post BBG. Happier and Healthier!

I feel much more balanced now.  I feel like I am truly loving my body and giving it the compassion it deserves.  I am much happier now than when I was on my BBG journey.  I may not be quite as lean, but I am okay with that.
Any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below and I will answer them.

 

Life Update! I Wrote an eBook and I am a Certified Yoga Teacher!

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Hey guys!  I have been super busy the last few months.  I have been working on my 200 hour Yoga Teaching Certification, and I am officially done!  It has been one of the most soul fulfilling journeys of my life, and I am so filled with gratitude for the whole experience.

As part of our final exam we had to create some income doing something yoga related, so I made an eBook.  It is 50 pages of my favorite vegan recipes.  I really poured my heart and soul into it, and now it is available on Amazon (LINK) :

Now I am hoping to have more time to post here and create some online yoga classes.  I am really excited about everything I have in the works!  I also have a new Instagram account that is specifically for posting food and yoga.  I mean, my kids are cute, but I wanted something that could be more content driven and less personal…
Just thought a little life update was due since I have had so many big things going on.
Love and Light!

 

Postcards from Caprock Canyons

 

Greetings!  The last weekend of summer we packed up the our RV and hit the road.

I love the wide open plains of west Texas, and I knew that it would be just the right place to reset before the routine of the school year hit.  Matt and I had camped out at Caprock Canyons several times in the past before we had kids.  It is an outdoor lovers dream with its beautiful red canyon walls and expansive trail system.  When we check site availability a couple of days before we wanted to leave there was one site available.  I took that as sign from the universe that it was meant to be!

My previous trips to Caprock were always spent hiking to fern cave, a spot where a natural spring that drips out of a shady cliff side creating a magical environment for ferns to grow out of  the sandstone wall.  It is amazing! I had planned on doing that this trip because I wanted to show the girls, but after half a mile into the four mile trail I realized that it just wasn’t going to happen.  The 100 degree August heat had us all wanting to turn around.  We did get some pretty awesome canyon views on this trail though.

 

We also rode the Caprock State Trailway, a rails to trails conversion, one evening in hopes of seeing a colony of Brazilian Freetailed bats fly out of Clarity Tunnel.

We waited around until dark without ever seeing the mass exodus of bat, but the five mile bike ride back in the dark turned out to be a harrowing and unforgettable experience that included a massive swarm of mosquitos, a couple of pop up thunderstorms that had lightning flashing all around us, and an encounter with an angry rattlesnake that I almost ran over on my bike.

 

The highlight of our trip was definitely the Eagle Point trail.  When we arrived at the trail head we were amazed to see a piece of a rainbow streaking through the sky.  One of my favorite things about west Texas is that thunderstorms will randomly pop up on the most beautiful summer day, making for backdrops like this..

 

 

Hidden under this trail was the most amazing little natural cave that the map called the natural bridge.

 

 

After all of the hiking we needed to cool off, so a dip in Lake Theo, a little lake (really more of a pond) in the park was in order.

Not the most beautiful water we have seen this summer, but it was so cool and refreshing!

Oh, did I mention we saw bison?!  Lots of bison everywhere.  We saw them travelling in groups down to the lake for a drink and walking around the visitors center.

 

I  live for little weekend adventures like this.  Being in nature is so fulfilling for my soul.  My hope as a mom is that my girls will learn to love and respect mother earth and all of her creatures.

There is more from our trip here in this video!

Wishing you a peaceful and adventure filled weekend!

 

Limewash DIY

When we first bought our 1970’s ranch style house a few years ago, I was not in love with the brick exterior any more than the interior, but it was not my first priority.  After painting pretty much every inch of the interior though, I thought it was high time for the exterior to get a little love.  Here is what we were starting with.

Now I know there are many people that prefer the look of natural brick, and I get it (kinda).  They are usually the same ones that would never paint wood paneling.  However, after I had been pinning many exterior images (check out my inspiration board here), mostly just for landscaping idea, I noticed a trend.  Almost every single house that I pinned was white.  My favorite image of all that served for my inspiration was this image..

I love everything about this house.  The white brick, greenish gray doors and trim, the slate floor, I decided would serve as THE inspiration for our exterior.  Even though my mind was made up on what I wanted, I was not exactly sure how I was going to execute it.  First of all, hiring painters to paint perfectly pretty brick was not in our budget, but I also didn’t know if this was a job that I was willing and able to tackle on my own.  However, usually where there’s a will, there’s a way.  Especially in my house when it concerns design matters.

I started doing further research into what it would take for me to paint the brick with a typical latex paint.  I was looking at a coat of primer, and a couple of coats of paint at least. Plus I kept finding warnings about the paint peeling, and the need to repaint every 5-10 years.  I seemed like my dream of having a white house may just have to stay a dream.

Then I stumbled upon a blog post where a woman painted her own brick using hydrated lime, and it only cost $10.  I thought it seemed like an interesting  idea, but I wasn’t sure if I loved the weathered result that she had achieved with the lime washing.  I really wanted my brick to be mostly solid white.  I decided I would have to do a test before painting the exterior brick.  We had already painted the brick fireplace in our living room, and the only other brick in the house was a wall in the sun room that used to be an exterior wall.

I decided that it would have to do, and since the rest of the house was pretty much white at this point, there was really no reason to keep it orangish brown.  I found some hydrated lime online at Lowe’s, but it was not available at my nearest store, but it was available at a store about 10 miles away.

When I went to get the lime, I wasn’t even sure what I was looking for, and a store attendant tried to sell me on some garden lime, but luckily I had done enough research to know that isn’t what I need.  I finally got some help in the area around the mortar and concrete mix aisle.  The guy working in that area told me that he grew up in Mexico and that people lime washed their houses and citrus trees all the time and that goats would lick the houses because they love the taste!  Lucky for me I don’t own any suburban goats (haha!).  He also said that I was the first person he had ever heard of lime washing anything since he moved here to Texas.  I  was guessing that I’m either a trendsetter or maybe just the village idiot at that point.  Here is what I ended up bringing home from Lowes…

50 Pound Bags of Hydrated Lime  

 

https://www.lowes.com/pd/Blue-Hawk-Natural-Bristle-Polyester-Blend-Flat-Sash-Paint-Brush-Common-5-in-Actual-5-in/4165071
5 inch paint brush

 

https://www.lowes.com/pd/Lowes-5-Gallon-Residential-Bucket/3761919
5 gallon bucket

My total cost for this was around $30, which I felt like I was winning there.  Just a gallon a inexpensive paint would have cost me that much!  I also picked up a couple of large things regular old iodized salt from Walmart.  The recipe I used was pretty loose, and I found out of the course of this project that it doesn’t actually make a difference if you measure or not, the results are the same.  I cannot find the original recipe I used for the life of me, but I started with about I gallon of hydrated lime, a cup of salt, and mixed in water until it resembled the consistency of skim milk.  It is literally that easy!

When I started brushing it onto the brick, I kinda started to panic a little.  It was pretty sheer as you can see here…

DIY Lime washing

Little by little the brick turned whiter as the lime washed dried.  It was like watching something magical!

How to lime wash brick

And, it was really a lot easier than painting.  I really was not going for perfection, but it could not have turned out more perfect.

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How to Lime wash brick

 

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I did the sun room in only a couple of hours, and we were tickled with the fabulous results, and it really gave me the confidence to tackle the exterior brick.  Here is the “After”…

I did not do anything at all to prep the exterior brick other than rinse it with a water hose to wet it as I went.  I also slightly changed by technique from the sun room and brushed the lime wash on in both directions to get a even solid coat on the brick and minimize the brush marks.  It was pretty time consuming.  It took me the better part of a four day stretch.  I also had to make one more trip back to Lowe’s to pick up more hydrated lime.  Overall though, I think the project was a HUGE success.  My neighbors are constantly complimenting my work and wanting more information about how I lime washed the brick!

I am so in love with the way it turned out!  Of course it will be much prettier in the summer when the sun is shining and the grass is greener!

I also changed the trim color to Benjamin Moore desert twilight, which I thought was pretty close to the inspiration photo, despite the fact that it said it was Texas Leather, which I sampled, but it was more of a brown color.  We also added 12×12 slate tiles to the front porch, which were only $1.25 a square foot from Home depot (link here), and we updated the house numbers with these modern ones also from Home Depot.  We also switched out the porch light to this LED lantern.

Slate Front Porch
I know this is an extremely long post, but I really wanted to break down this process for anyone out there who might be considering lime washing, or even someone who wants white brick and is considering paint.  If you do try this I would LOVE to hear from you, and if you have any questions at all please pop them below in the comments section and I will do my best to answer them!

 

A Garden Party

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Last month Georgia turned one year old, it is hard to believe that she is walking and trying to talk!  Since we have such a great deck for entertaining, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to have a garden party.

Pink floral details were added where ever possible.  The rustic floral topped cake was made by my MIL, and the cake topper is actually just a wooden number one from the craft store that I spray painted and hot glued to a chopstick!

I made a few large paper flowers from this tutorial (minus the stems), and hung them along the pergola.

The pink party hats are some from target that I embellished with silk flowers.

Putting together this party for Georgia was a blast!  Nothing is sweeter in life to me than being a mom, and I treasured every moment this evening celebrating Georgia and all of the joy she has brought to our family this year!

Living Room Progress

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Please excuse the radio silence. I really don’t have much excuse as to why I have quit blogging save for the fact that I have become a manic wanna-be interior decorator and avid furniture collector.  Matt is just about ready to submit me for hoarders as it gets more and more difficult to actually walk through our garage each week.

We have been in our house over 7 months now, and looking back at the old MLS picture from when we purchased the house, even I can hardly believe it is the same room!

Here was what we started with:

The oak paneling, and brown brick fireplace made the windowless space really dark and heavy.  The grey floor and the wood walls also clashed in the worst of ways and I was convinced we needed new flooring, but honestly after we got everything painted white, the floor was much less offensive! We painted the entire space Benjamin Moore’s Cloud White prior to moving in with a paint sprayer.  Which instantly made the room feel bigger and more contemporary!

We painted the French doors and back of the built in bookcase Benjamin Moore’s Onyx to provide a dramatic contrast, and of course I wanted the room to match Lacy the mutt.  Can you even find her below?  It is like playing Where’s Waldo!

Most of the other stuff in the room is stuff we had in our last house.  The rug and sectional are both ikea.

The pair of antique French cane chairs were a lucky thrift store find that I painstakingly reupholstered myself.  I love the mix of the antique chairs with the more modern elements in the room.

The console table is vintage Pace Collection, and probably my favorite thing in the space.  The artwork is by me and the coral side table is Nate Berkus for Target.

There are still a few tweaks left to do.  We are planning on switching out the mantle and tiling a marble surround similar to this:

Via Bliss at Home

I am also hoping to update the ceiling fan with this light:

Swwooon!  It might take some convincing with the hubs because it is obviously not as practical as a fan would be in these Texas summers, but the fan that is here is not even working!

I have been working hard on the rest of the house too, and will be back to share more progress this week!