7 Self-Care Tasks I’m Making More Time For Lately

It’s the month of looove, you guys! Hopefully you’re feelin’ the v-day vibes but also what a good month to start making self love a priority.

In this society that glorifies being busy all the time (I’m sooo guilty of this) I think there’s a huge problem of people over-exerting themselves, pushing themselves to the limit, going going going without taking stock and assessing if they’re doing enough to keep themselves healthy and happy. In a sense, we’re all pouring ourselves out without taking enough opportunities to refill our own cups!

So here are some ways I’ve been practicing self care and filling my cup back up. Some are trendy af (#wellness lol), but the reasons behind them really aren’t. Maybe it will inspire you to make your own lil’ self care routine!?

1. Using Vitamins/Supplements

At the beginning of the new year, I finally acted on a promise I had been making myself for a while now: I started taking vitamins. Specifically, I wanted some help managing my stress and energy levels. Stabilizing these feels like my life’s greatest challenge, and I know they drastically affect my overall wellbeing. I started using the company Care/of, and after taking a simple quiz about my lifestyle + needs, was recommended rhodiola and ashwagandha. I also started taking melatonin supplements at night, so I can get to sleep sooner and sleep more soundly.

Some of you might think putting this on the list is a stretch. It’s hardly a luxurious or even groundbreaking self care task. But having better sleep and more regulated stress is the foundation of my self care regimen, and this is such an easy way to achieve that. Plus, when I drink my morning warm lemon water and take my vitamins I get the same feeling as I do when I have a matching bra & underwear set on. Ladies, I know you know what I’m talkin’ about. It’s like my inner monologue suddenly turns to “I am a goddess among mortals and I have my whole life blissfully together and I am officially a true grown up.” That’s a thought worthy of chasing!

If you’re thinking of giving this one a try, I couldn’t recommend Care/of more. It’s so convenient and I really trust the vitamins I’m ingesting. Plus, taking the quiz is fun!

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2. Reading (w/ Blue Light Filtering Glasses!)

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I like myself a lot more when I spend my time reading, instead of just vegging out in front of a television. Not only does it make me feel more confident to be well read, but getting wrapped up in a new, interesting story and actually using my imagination (something grown ups don’t get to do enough!) is a nice release from the everyday mundane. Furthermore, I’m a big fan of the self-improvement genre and I enjoy reading books on professional development, how to be happier, how to be a better partner, etc. So when I read more, I’m often actively improving myself and learning new methods on seeking happiness & balance.

Most of the time I read before bed, which is a lot healthier than watching TV or scrolling through Instagram (my two worst nighttime habits). Since I mostly read on my iPad’s kindle app, I also invested in some blue light filtering glasses to protect my vision and to help prevent my mind from being constantly stimulated into “awake” mode.  I’ve linked mine here!

3. Practicing Yoga

This is definitely one of the trendier tasks on my list, but there’s a reason it’s so popular! Yoga is amazing. Countless studies exist that describe all the benefits of yoga. I love that I get a great, full body toning workout in while I work to quiet my mind. I feel so confident and zen walking out of a good hot yoga class. I’ve been taking yoga on/off for years, but it was only after I went from taking weekly classes in L.A to moving to Raleigh and not taking any for a while that I realized how valuable it was for my mental and physical health.

4. Drinking More Tea

I love coffee. I will never not love coffee. But, I also realize that coffee miiight be contributing to my anxiety. While I’m not willing to give up the stuff for good, I am willing to supplement with tea more often than I have been, for a more gentle caffeine boost. Plus, I like that different teas have health benefits that coffee doesn’t always have. I’m loving matcha, earl grey, or lemon tea in the morning and chamomile at night. I just shared the recipe for this hibiscus latte a few days ago, and it’s definitely not something you want to miss!

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5. Walking

In Ayervedic medicine, it’s said that walking is a tri-doshic exercise. This means that no matter what, it’s an exercise that can balance your body, mind, and soul without much detrimental physical strain. I find I’m so much happier when I get at least 30 minutes of fresh air and vitamin D in. It’s an opportunity to slow down, clear my head, move my body, and enjoy my surroundings. Lately I’ve loved walking to my weekly microbiology lab. I especially like to pair this activity with the next item on my list…

6. Listening to Podcasts

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For me, listening to podcasts has similar benefits to reading books except there’s more flexibility (you can multi-task!) and less commitment (hour long podcasts vs. chapter books). I listen to a pretty wide variety of podcasts: ones that tell stories, ones that provide the news in a more digestible way, ones that give business advice, ones that are truly ridiculous and only provide comic relief. My favorite by far, though, is Dax Shepherd’s Armchair Expert. It’s like being a fly on the wall in a therapy session between two incredibly interesting & funny people. Dax is so evolved, introspective, honest, and prompts such informative discussions. I’ve learned so much about the variety of perspective & the human experience, and I’ve learned even more about myself along the way. Plus, I laugh the entirety of every episode. Can you even ask for anything else?

7. Taking Myself Out For an “Unplugged” Date

This one is the hardest for me because it gets me completely outside of my comfort zone. Lately, I’ve been making more of an effort to take myself out to coffee, lunch, or dinner at one of the many spots around Raleigh that I’ve had on my “must do” list since moving here. Here’s the kicker, though: Instead of spending the whole time on my phone or finding some other type of distraction (for fear of looking aimless and strange to others) I completely unplug. I sit with my thoughts, people watch, sometimes chat with strangers (only if they seem interested), and write down thoughts/ideas/plans. It’s really challenging, but usually I come out of it having met someone new, having dumped all the thoughts swirling around my head, and having had a great meal at a fun new spot.

 

And that’s it for me! It’s fun to talk about this kind of stuff here. How are you filling your own cup? Leave a comment!

xoxo

Chocolate Raspberry Ice Cream Sandwiches

Ahhh, February. Oh how I love this month. Our first hint of Spring is here, Valentine’s Day (or, even better, Galentine’s Day!) is right around the corner, and I can eat heart-shaped sugar again.

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So, today I’m sharing my made-from-scratch raspberry ice cream sandwiches. They’re best made ahead of time, which is actually ideal because the last thing you want to do on date night or Valentine’s Day is be distracted by a labor intensive dessert. The taste can only be described as romantic af. And the wow factor is a big payoff – this looks a lot more impressive than it actually is.

Win, win, win in my book. 😘

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Here’s what you do.

Chocolate Raspberry Ice Cream Sandwiches

ingredients

for the cookies:

1 cup all-purpose flour

¾ cup cocoa powder

¾ tsp baking powder

¾ tsp salt

1.5 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

for the ice cream: 

1.5 cups fresh raspberries

3/4 cup whole milk

1.5 cups heavy cream

2/3rd cup granulated sugar

pinch of salt

1.5 tsp vanilla extract

 

directions

for the ice cream:

add the raspberries to a food processor and pulse until roughy chopped.

in a mixing bowl combine the milk, heavy cream, sugar, salt, vanilla extract, and raspberries. stir to combine, then transfer to an ice cream maker for churning. follow manufacturer instructions.

take a 9×13 inch baking dish and fit a piece of parchment paper inside it so that it completely covers the bottom and all sides. transfer the ice cream to the baking dish, spreading it out till it’s flat and level. Place the dish in the freezer for 4 hours, or ideally overnight.

for the cookies:

preheat oven to 350 F. take a 13×18 inch baking sheet (preferably one with deep sides) and line it with parchment paper.

in a bowl whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.

in a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar till light and fluffy. continue to beat on medium speed while you add the eggs. turn the speed down to low and add the flour mixture gradually. scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix quickly once more.

transfer batter to the baking dish, and use an offset spatula to spread it out so it’s level. place in oven and bake for 13 minutes. remove and let pan cool completely. once room temperature, place the dish in the refrigerator for a few hours (or overnight). 

to assemble:

once you’re ready to assemble the sandwiches, take the cold cookie dish out of the fridge and, using a heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out as many cookies as you can manage. this works best as long as everything remains cool, so there’s no breaking/crumbling.

pull the ice cream tray out of the freezer and use the same cookie cutter as before to cut out your ice cream layers. sandwich ice cream hearts between two cookies and gently press together so everything adheres. put assembled ice cream sandwiches back into the freezer until you’re ready to enjoy!

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This weekend is the one I head to New Orleans with my sister, and then before we know it it’ll be Valentine’s Day! It’s a weird one this year as my valentine is still across the country from me, but my persistent love of holidays seems to be overcoming that particular obstacle. Oh well, guess I’ll just keep all these sweets for myself. 😉

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Valentine’s Day Recap

Valentine’s Day has come and passed, and it was the best day ever over here! I was lucky that the day coincided with one of my days off, which meant that I got to spend the majority of the day being festive with my honey. I shared a lot of the day on my Insta-stories, but I love doing holiday recaps here too. So here we go!

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Mark had some morning clients, so he was gone when I got up. While he was out I set up my main surprise for him, which was pink post-its in the shape of a heart, each with a different trait/thing I love about him. He loved it! We giggled together at some of the funnier traits I had written down (his ability to quote Family Guy verbatim, his inability to dance well), and I think he felt valued reading some of the more sentimental items (his loyalty, his impressive wealth of information, how kind he is to our families). 

He surprised me with a bouquet of fresh roses and a bag of fun-sized crunch bars (my absolute favorite)! Flowers are my love language, so I was ecstatic. We had a few hours to kill until our lunch date so I made us both lattes and we snuggled in bed drinking coffee and eating a few too many crunch bars before getting ready and heading downtown.

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This year we’d decided to go out for a lunch date instead of a fancy dinner. It worked better for Mark’s work schedule, but we also realized that it would be waaay less expensive and we wouldn’t have to battle as many crowds. It was the best hack ever! Mark took me to a beautiful restaurant in DTLA called Cafe Pinot, where we sat in the almost-empty garden section. The cocktails, food, and dessert mousse we shared were all incredible and the whole thing cost us half of what their dinner menu would have cost! We could talk at normal volumes (no crowds!) and nobody was around to look at me strangely while I took pictures of our food. 😉

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After lunch we got to spend a few more hours of quality time together, and I even convinced Mark to work out with me so we could burn off some of lunch. While he was with his afternoon clients I went home, cleaned up a little, painted my nails pink, and watched Enchanted because it just felt right for the occasion. I also finished his second lil surprise, this cute card that’s just so perfect for the two of us!

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For the grand finale of our perfect day, we decided to make a homemade heart-shaped pizza. Why the hell not, right?!

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I feel so loved and in love. Can you believe this is our 7th Valentine’s Day together? Some have been more extravagant than others (pretty sure this year is topping the list so far) but at the end of the day the thing that always makes it one of my favorite days is that we get to focus on being together. We don’t (or shouldn’t) really need a holiday to do that, but I like the cheesiness of it all just the same. Love you Mark Bell, lucky to have you as my valentine!

Hope you all felt loved and had a great day! I’m sad to see it go, but at least we have Mark’s Birthday to look forward to!