5 Things I learned from the KonMari Method

things I learned from the kon mari method.png

It’s been a few months since I finished reading ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ by Marie Kondo (founder of the KonMari method)

If you’re unfamiliar with the book or this method of organizing/de-cluttering, I highly recommend checking it out. It all revolves around the premise of asking yourself “Does this spark joy?” and then tossing/donating if the answer is not a resounding “Yes!”

Before starting I had my doubts about a) whether the method actually worked and b) whether it would actually work for me. I can now say the answer is both yes…and no.

Here are 5 things I learned from the KonMari method:

1) The method works, IF you follow the steps

You have to be willing to follow the steps (in order!) and they will definitely take some time and effort. That being said, the steps are easily laid out and the process is very simple. I can 100% see why this method works for so many.

2) Keeping motivation for organizing can be difficult

When I was first reading the book I was super excited and so ready to start de-cluttering our home. It seems that I can never keep our home clutter-free for long, and it drives me absolutely nuts. The dining room table seems to be a “catch-all” where we throw everything that doesn’t seem to have a place (or it does have a place, but we don’t put it there!) Can you relate?!

I dove right in, starting with clothes, shoes, and books like Marie recommends.

I couldn’t believe how many articles of clothing and shoes I was keeping “just because”. There was stuff I hadn’t worn in years, stuff I was justifying keeping because I felt I should (even though I didn’t love it), and stuff that really didn’t suit my style or my lifestyle anymore.

Books was an especially difficult category for me as I love my books and seem to have an emotional attachment to them. I was, however, able to donate all books that did not “spark joy”.

After these few categories though, I started to lose momentum. My energy for organizing was dwindling. I knew there were a lot of categories I’d have to have my husband sign off on the donating/throwing and it delayed my efforts.

If you try out the KonMari method yourself, I suggest creating a calendar of when you will attack which categories and then check off your progress as you go along. When I re-start the process again, I will definitely be doing these things to keep me accountable!

3) De-cluttering with children is anything but easy

The biggest issue I had was how to de-clutter things for my child. I cannot ask her “does this spark joy?” yet as she is only 16 months old and obviously cannot answer that. I know that having too many toys can be a stressor for children, and I definitely don’t want her to grow up feeling overwhelmed with “stuff”.

Also - the fact that we have very little storage and are expecting another child means that we cannot give away certain items that we are going to use again. Which means that the office/guest bedroom has a bassinet, baby swing, baby gates, baby bouncer among other baby items in there. Yikes!

If you have children and are practicing the KonMari method I recommend giving yourself lots of grace along the way!

4) Buying items because they are “good deals” is so tempting

Do you struggle with this too?! You see something on sale and then start trying to determine where it would fit into your wardrobe or home, justifying that you need it just because it’s on sale.

Practicing this method has made me more aware of what I truly NEED vs what I want to buy because it’s a “good deal”, and hopefully it does for you as well.

5) Guilt for having bought things and then not using them is a real struggle!

This guilt delays my efforts to get rid of items I know longer love/use. I think about the money I spent on them and feel so guilty I try talking myself out of getting rid of them!

However that money has already been spent, and the negative energy of holding on to the particular item and causing more clutter is outweighing the benefits of keeping it “just because”.

If you struggle with this too just think of how someone else will benefit from you donating this item, and send it on its way!

Alright, that’s what I’ve got so far for my experiment with the Kon Mari Method.

If you’ve tried this method before and have any insights, I’d love to hear them in the comments below!

Until next time…

Katie O,

When More Money DOES NOT Equal More Happiness

end ofseasonsale!.png

Let’s be honest, in today’s society we are all seeking more abundance, bigger bank accounts and more freedom. Am I right?

But here’s the catch: at what expense are we striving for these things?

Although we took nice vacations growing up, had a nice home and basically could afford whatever it was we wanted we were definitely not what I would have considered super “rich”. (Compared to the rest of the world’s population though, most every American is “rich”)

That being said, in my adult years and having met and worked with people of all levels of wealth, I’ve come to this realization: rich people are just people with more money.

Rich people are not immune to any of the heartbreaks and heartaches that people without as much money experience.

My mom is an amazing seamstress and has some very wealthy (read: multi-millionaire) clients whom have become dear friends. She also has some friends who live in very wealthy areas (again, we are talking millionaires).

Some of these people have committed suicide. Some have gotten divorced. Some never had children and regret the choice now that they are in their 50s and 60s. One wealthy couple she knew even became a suicide-homicide case because the woman had filed for divorce (or so they concluded).

I'm not telling you these things to paint a gruesome picture of wealth or to mess with your money mindset.

It's not money’s fault that these people were unhappy and I do NOT believe that more money equals more problems.

BUT more money does not protect wealthy people from problems. It does not sugarcoat life against depression, anxiety, anger, stress, fear, regret or other undesirable emotions.

Money can't do that.

Mark Cuban on an episode of Sharktank once said something along the lines of “if you were miserable before you won the lottery, you will still end up miserable afterwards”

It’s true. The majority of lottery winners end of getting divorced or ending up right back where they were financially (or worse!) You even hear stories of professional athletes or actors/actresses who had to file bankruptcy.

So do you stop pursuing your dream of making lots of money and becoming “rich" one day? Of course not. 

So what to do instead?

1) Continue to pursue your dreams and big wealth (or little wealth - whatever you are after!) but take care of yourself and your loved ones along the way. 

2) Know that more money is not always the answer. It won't fix you. It won't fix your relationships. It won't bring you more happiness and joy if you don’t already have that

3) View money as neutral. Of course it can add joy, flexibility, choices, and freedom but money itself is just paper (or plastic or metal!) and is neutral. Money used for good is good. Money used for bad is bad. Take money off a pedestal before it clouds your judgement and taints your happiness.

4) Make sure the money you spend is in alignment with your values, priorities, and goals. A lot of times it has less to do with how much money you make, and more to do with how you use your money. If you are stuck buying material goods instead of experiences or blowing money on things that aren’t adding to your happiness, it’s time to re-evaluate.

Does this make sense? If so, let me know in the comments below. I know this post was a bit of a darker subject but it is one that I felt needed some attention. 

Until next time…

Katie O.

How to Survive on One Income After Baby: Part 1

how to take betterfamily vacationpictures (1).png

Today I want to talk to you about something that has been heavy on my mind lately…

I see a lot of individuals who dread going back to work post-baby, or wish to stay home after another child is added to the mix and it honestly kind of breaks my heart.

Now while I know this isn’t feasible for everyone nor does everyone desire to stay at home part- or full-time with their child(ren), today I wanted to share my story of how we are surviving on one income post-baby, and how you might be able to as well.

You see, I never expected to up and quit my job after having a kid. I have always worked and genuinely love working. Working gives me purpose.

Even as a teacher and having the summers “off” (if you will..teachers know that’s not entirely true!) I would always get a bit of the summer blues without having a set purpose each day.

Sounds strange for those of you who loathe your jobs and hate working, but I know I’m not the only one.

So while I quit teaching to go into financial services over 3 years ago now, I didn’t expect to leave the industry after the birth of our first child.

I’ll be the first to admit that leaving a steady-paying teaching job to take on a commission-only role is scary.as.hell. Those 2.5 years in the industry were definitely more of a challenge than when both my hubby and I had stable jobs, but I wouldn’t take it back. It opened my eyes to the world of entrepreneurship, helped me begin this career as a financial coach, and has helped shape me into who I am today.

After our daughter was born in May of 2017 I took 5 months off from financial planning with 6-weeks of short-term disability. I resumed my high school soccer coaching job August-October and returned once the season ended. It started with 4 days back, then I dropped down to 3 days, and finally it went to 2 (before saying “goodbye” officially in February)

I know everyone is different and has different viewpoints on childcare and I am definitely not here to change your mind one way or the other.

This article is for those who are like me. Those who were “career-driven” and then surprised that they wanted to be home with their child more than building their career. Or those who already know they want to stay home with baby #1 (or 2, 3, 4 whatever!)

I wanted to give you a run through of how we have managed to survive on one income. (Although I do pull income in it fluctuates depending on the month and we have come to view that as “extra” and do all of our bill paying and planning off of my husband’s income.)

So here goes…

How to Survive On One Income After Baby

Step 1) Don’t upgrade until AFTER you’ve had a child

So I know this might be unreasonable for some people, but this has really helped us. We bought the home we currently live in over 4 years ago when I was still teaching. We absolutely love this home, but now adding a dog and a baby it has become quite cramped! However, we refused to upgrade until we knew a little bit more about how our financial situation was going to play out post baby. If you think you may want to stay home with baby part- or full-time, I recommend not making any major moves until after baby has arrived and you can evaluate your financial situation.

2) Understand there will be trade-offs

My husband and I love to travel and since dating have always taken an international trip once/year (at least!) We would go for 1.5-2 weeks and thoroughly enjoy ourselves.

Since having baby we haven’t made any international or extended trip plans, and don’t have any plans to do so in the near future (especially with baby #2 arriving next March!)

Although yes we both love traveling and exploring other countries and cultures, this is just something that is not in the cards for us on one main income and we are OK with that. We know we will return to internationally traveling (likely with the kiddos!) in the future and are happy with our long-weekend trips when we can sneak them in.

3) Know your numbers

I highly suggest people understand what is coming in and what is going out every month. We use Mint to categorize our spending and track budgets, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It helps me understand where we’ve overspent, what we can cut back on, and how we’re doing financially at any given moment in time.

4) Find ways to save money that will work for you

For us, it’s menu planning and grocery shopping on the weekends. If we don’t have a solid game plan going into the week, it is FAR too easy to grab take out or go out to eat after a long day.

For others it might be going down to one car (something I have actually thought about!), cutting out unnecessary subscriptions, or buying used goods instead of new (fellow thrift shopper here!)

5) Plan ahead

If you know you’re going to three weddings in the Fall (that’s us!), have a vet appointment coming up, or are paying your bi-annual insurance premiums, mark it down so you have an idea of what will be spent so you’re not caught blindsided with the expense when the time comes.

Try adding a savings category for “unexpected” expenses (not emergency fund, that’s different) as I’ve found that unexpected things tend to happen every month!

6) Adopt “short term pain for long term gain” as your mantra.

Sure you many not be able to take all the vacations, buy all the things that you used to be able to, or save as much for retirement as you’d like currently. BUT the satisfaction of being able to be home full- or part-time with your kiddo if you desire will be totally worth it.

Alright, that’s a wrap! For those of you already at home part- or full-time, anything you have to add? For those of you who aren’t but would like to, what questions do you have? Let me know in the comments below.

Stay tuned for part 2!

Katie O.

P.S. - Need help organizing your own finances? Set up a free 20-minute consultation call to see if it’s something I may be able to help you with! Book here: https://bit.ly/2oZbed6

My Biggest Trick to Saving More Money

how to host a pin-up.png

There are so many money “gurus” out there giving you advice to save more and spend less.

Clipping coupons, shopping at discount stores, automating your savings, and sticking to a strict budget are a few that come to mind.

But despite all of these things, I found that there was something missing in my quest to save more.

Something unconventional; something that no one is talking about.

So what’s my biggest trick to saving more money?

Not giving a $hit about what other people think.

Wait, what?

Yep, you read that right. By not giving a $hit about what other people (or society!) think, you can save yourself a whole ton of money.

Think about it…

How many spending decisions do you make based on what other people (or society!) have have made you feel is cool? Trendy? Necessary?

(Isn’t that what the advertising business is all about?)

Getting your hair/nails done, buying new outfits, upgrading your home, saying “yes” to that dinner invite.

All of these things cost money.

And all of these are usually impacted by how we want others to view us.

A few weeks ago my husband and I were headed to a wedding. Usually for weddings I get my nails done and was about to do the same for this one.

But then I started questioning why I wanted to get my nails done. It wasn’t because I truly wanted to. It was because I was embarrassed of what other people would think if my hands weren’t nicely polished. (insert face palm emoji here)

Isn’t that dumb?

Dumb? Yes.

Uncommon? No.

(btw I skipped the manicure and decided to not give a $hit)

Lots of us are walking around buying into a certain ideal that we feel we need to be living up to (hello keeping up with the Joneses), and it’s costing us.

Always having the newest gadgets, clothing, shoes, homes, cars, whatever (the list is seriously endless!) is darn right expensive.

So the next time you’re about to purchase a product or service, ask yourself these questions:

1) Am I doing this for me or am I doing this because I care about what other people think of me?

2) If I truly am doing this for me, is it for a version of myself that I feel I have to be because of society/others?

3) Is whatever I am buying just a facade?

4) Is this purchase going to make me happier in the long run?

Once you start using this tactic, you’ll find that you aren’t buying as much and thus, are saving more. You will begin to care less about who you’re supposed to be accordingly to others/society, and more about your long term goals (which may include being financially free, retiring early, or buying your first investment property)

Tell me in the comments: Does this make sense? What have you purchased recently because you felt you had to live up to other’s/society’s standards? How will you use this tactic in the future?

Until next time…

Happy saving!

Katie O.

How to Free Up $10-$100 per Month Using this Simple Trick

How to free up $10-$100%2Fmonth.png

You ready for this?

Check your subscriptions..

Yep, that's right, it's that easy.

This morning I asked my husband if he still uses Audible and Evernote (that we are paying for) and his response? "No" to Audible and "we are paying for that?" to Evernote.

*palm to face emoji* inserted here

My hubby doesn't check the bank statements/accounts ever (thank goodness he has a wifey that does!), so how would he have any idea about these things?

How many of you are paying for subscriptions that don't make your life happier or easier?

How many of you are paying for subscriptions you *gasp* no longer use?

How many of you have no idea what actually comes out of your bank account (what I like to call ostrich syndrome)?

No judgement here, we are all guilty of this at one point or another. Automation and technology have made it so easy to sign up and subscribe without realizing how much we are actually paying for various things each month.

Have you had a recent *aha* when it comes to what you've been paying for without realizing it? If so, leave me a comment and let me know. I would love to hear about it!

And if you aren't sure, here's your friendly reminder to glance at those statements and figure it out.

(and if you really need help with this, comment below and let me know that too - I can give you some ideas on how to get started!)

Let's wake up to what we are actually spending our hard earned money on, so we can buy more of what we REALLY want.

Peace, love and feel-good finance vibes,

Katie 

How to Spend 4 days in Charleston, SC

The hubby and I just spent four marvelous days in Charleston, South Carolina. It was a much needed break from the regular grind of our everyday lives. With a new puppy and baby on the way, a few days away from responsibility, agenda, and the Minnesota cold were exactly what the doctor (or midwife in my case!) ordered. 

We chose Charleston because we heard it was a laid-back city with a great food scene. And the weather is obviously warmer than it is back home for us. That was all we needed to book the trip and go. Between my flight voucher I still had to use up and the husband's frequent flier miles, we were able to fly basically for free, which is always a bonus. In addition, staying at AirBnB's over hotels freed us up some money to use towards eating delicious food. Which you can sure bet we ate a lot of!

Here's a rundown of our itinerary, including and most importantly, what delicious morsels we devoured along the way:

4 Days in Charleston, South Carolina 

Day 1 (Saturday):

Arrived late and took a Uber to our AirBnb in Mount Pleasant. Was a one bedroom decorated in the most elegant way. According to the husband, it had one of 'prettiest bathrooms' he had ever seen. There were not one but TWO chandeliers in the bathroom! 

 I was loving on the marble statue in the center. This bathroom is more elaborate than my entire house combined! 

I was loving on the marble statue in the center. This bathroom is more elaborate than my entire house combined! 

 I so wish I would have taken advantage of this bathtub - it's so big and beautiful!

I so wish I would have taken advantage of this bathtub - it's so big and beautiful!

After sleeping for a few hours we got up and took an Uber to Sullivan Island. There we walked along the beach. It was sunny and in the 70s, and my heart was rejouicing! 

 Look at those curly bangs!

Look at those curly bangs!

After our nice stroll we had lunch at The Obstinate Daughter. Highly recommend for the food, atmosphere, and service. We split the shrimp roll with geechie grit frites and the shrimp arugula pesto pizza with olives, grilled artichokes and lemon. Both were delicious, but the shrimp roll and those frites were out of this world!

 Fries made of grits, who would have thunk?!

Fries made of grits, who would have thunk?!

 Helloooo herby shrimpy deliciousness. 

Helloooo herby shrimpy deliciousness. 

After another walk on the beach, we took another Uber up to Boone Hall Plantation. We took a open-air tractor ride (well that's what we would call it here in MN!) around the grounds to see all of the crops they still plant. It's still a major farm, and was really cool to see where they put everything and how it grows. Afterwards we toured the house, which was featured in the Notebook as well as a few other TV shows/movies. It was interesting to hear all about the history of the plantation, who it's owners were/are, and learn more about the role slaves played during different periods of time. 

 Do you remember this house from the Notebook?

Do you remember this house from the Notebook?

 I captured a picture of the sunset and this tree, which is between 400-500 years old! 

I captured a picture of the sunset and this tree, which is between 400-500 years old! 

After our trip to Boone Hall Plantation, we took another Uber back to our place and got ready for the night. We had dinner reservations at Butcher and BeeWe ordered the warm bean dip  with their homemade pita bread, cauliflower with green tahini, curried cashews, and pickled raisin, and bacon wrapped dates for starters. First course was crispy sweet potatoes with tamarind chutney, yogurt, and cilantro. Main course we split the Whole Grilled Sea Bass with turmeric coconut curry, chickpeas, and Israeli couscous. The fish and that curry sauce was some of the best I've had. But I could have even just had the chickpeas and couscous with the curry, it was that good. We also had a custar-like dessert with local strawberries and meringue drops that was fabulous. 

Day 2 (Sunday):

We moved Airbnb locations this day, so after we got up/ready we took an Uber into downtown Charleston where we were staying to drop off our bags. From there we went to brunch at Poogan's PorchWe had the she crab soup (crab soup with sherry vinegar- our Uber driver told us we had to try it once!) and biscuits and gravy to start. The biscuits were so fluffy and light and the gravy was not too thick with big chunks of sausage in it. Best biscuits and gravy to date. 

 She crab soup. Not to be confused with He crab soup. :)

She crab soup. Not to be confused with He crab soup. :)

 Are you drooling yet?

Are you drooling yet?

After that we split the Tennessee Hot Chicken and the Shrimp and Grits. The chicken was perfectly crisp on the outside and so juicy on the inside. It was served with blue cheese Brussels sprouts slaw and a brioche bun and was so SO good! Of course we didn't snap any pictures as we dug right in. 

From there we walked the downtown area to explore. So many beautiful homes and so much history in that area. We stumbled upon Christophe Artisan Chocolatier-Patissier and indulged in some drinking chocolate and treats. The hubby had these fruit bites made of pureed fruit (apricot and strawberry) and rolled in sugar, and I had a earl grey dark chocolate truffle. 

 Forgot to snap a pic till after I took a bite....naturally. Look how pretty the shell on this earl grey dark chocolate truffle is!

Forgot to snap a pic till after I took a bite....naturally. Look how pretty the shell on this earl grey dark chocolate truffle is!

After making it home, we got ready and headed out to an early dinner at Rodney Scott's BBQ. They were out of a chicken, ribs and cornbread (what I really wanted!), but we had some pulled pork, mac and cheese, coleslaw, hush puppies and beans. The beans were phenomenal, but other than that, nothing I would go back for. We've had just as good of BBQ here in Minneapolis. It's likely you could find other/better places in Charleston, and I'm sure there are some good ones out there. Either way - if you go, I wouldn't necessarily waste your time/money at this place.

From dinner we headed to Charleston Pour House which had a funky hippie vibe. The outdoor bar was open and there was a great band playing. People with dreads and bell bottoms everywhere. The best part? You can bring your dog! There were several dogs running around chasing/playing with one another. My dog loving hippie spirit was in heaven. 

Day 3 (Monday):

Monday we woke up and stopped at the famous Callie's Charleston Biscuits for a few biscuits. We sampled almost every kind they had (6 total) but our favorite weren't the buttermilk biscuits themselves, but the shortbread ones. Especially the shortbread with blackberry preserves inside. One of the most delicious bites of biscuit I've eaten. Hubby seconds that.

 Of course this was the only picture I took of the place/actual biscuits!

Of course this was the only picture I took of the place/actual biscuits!

After that, we walked down to the ocean where we caught the ferry just in time to see Fort Sumter. Fort Sumter was were the first shots of the Civil War were fired. It was chock full of history, but the best part (for me at least!) was the dolphins that rode our wake the entire ride back. 

Once back to shore, we were starving and headed to 167 RawThey are famous for their lobster roll, but the waiter we had suggested the scallop po'boy (as did the lady next to us!) and so I went with that. Best decision ever! One of the best seafood sandwiches I've ever eaten, and that's not a joke. Scallops were cooked perfectly (I'm not usually a big scallop fan due to the texture) and they were topped with beet reduction, some sort of green sauce (sorry - that's the best I can do!) and microgreens. The hubby and I shared some shrimp cocktail to start and he had a swordfish taco that he loved.

 Scallop Po'Boy with beet reduction. On a perfecly toasted buttery bun. Heaven indeed!

Scallop Po'Boy with beet reduction. On a perfecly toasted buttery bun. Heaven indeed!

From there we made our way to the Rooftop Bar at The VendueEnjoyed a few drinks (basil strawberry lemonade for me) and some good people watching. You could see the ocean from afar, and the weather was perfect. Recommend checking out if you're looking to soak up the sun and kill some time. 

We continued walking from there and stopped to get some happy hour deals at Pearlz Oyster Bar. The hubby had 1/2 dozen oysters, pork rinds, and I had the corn fritters dusted with powdered sugar. The food was good, but nothing spectacular. Hubby loved the pork rinds (not my thing) and I enjoyed the take on corn fritters. Was a good place for a quick/cheap bite to hold us over till dinner. 

For dinner we had reservations at Husk, the James Beard award winning chef Sean Brock's restaurant. Every ingredient is sourced from the South (even the olive oil is from Texas!), which was really unique for us. We started with some drinks (I had a non-alcoholic drink made with shrub which was fantastic) and the pig-ear lettuce wraps. They were mentioned as a must-try in Charleston, and the waitress recommended them as well. Although good, I couldn't quite get over the texture of pig ear (I also felt like my dog!) and wouldn't eat them again. However, it was one of those unique things you just kind of have to try!

 Crunchy, salty pig ear lettuce wraps. By far the most interesting dish I ate this trip. 

Crunchy, salty pig ear lettuce wraps. By far the most interesting dish I ate this trip. 

For the main course I ordered the pan-fried catfish with Carolina gold rice, and the hubby had the pork shoulder with pork belly inside. They were both really good, and really unique. The catfish was done perfectly and the husband drooled over his pork ("one of the best pork dishes I've had ever" - can you sense a theme going on here this trip?!).

 Catfish and Carolina gold rice with a side of rapini. 

Catfish and Carolina gold rice with a side of rapini. 

Overall the food was a bit on the salty side for me, but my husband likes to remind me that I have a low salt tolerance (or so he thinks!). The dessert was my favorite part. Olive oil cake with local strawberries and fresh whipped cream. If you would have asked me before this pregnancy if I wanted dessert I would have answered "no, I'm not much of a dessert person". Boy how things have changed.

 That cake was so perfectly moist and delicious. I am currently obsessing about how I can make a version of it here at home. 

That cake was so perfectly moist and delicious. I am currently obsessing about how I can make a version of it here at home. 

 Outside Husk. Can't you just feel the Southern Charm oozing from this place?

Outside Husk. Can't you just feel the Southern Charm oozing from this place?

Day 4 (Tuesday):

On our last day in Charleston we rented a car so we could take a day to explore on our own terms (and it was cheaper than taking multiple Ubers throughout the day!). Our first stop was breakfast at Early Bird Diner, which had been featured on one of our favorite shows: Diners, Drive-In's and Dives. I ordered the Chicken and Waffles and the husband had the biscuits and gravy. The chicken and waffles is what they are known for, as the chicken is drizzled in honey mustard dressing and the combo of the two are spectacular. Although the fried chicken wasn't as good as the Hot Tennessee Chicken we had at Poogan's porch, the combo of the dressing and the syrup was so scrumptious. The waffles were so light and fluffy on the inside and perfectly crisp on the outside. I don't order waffles out a lot, but these were some of the best.

 Look at that plate of fattening goodness!

Look at that plate of fattening goodness!

We enjoyed the biscuits and gravy more at Poogan's porch as well, just because this gravy was a bit on the thicker creamier side and we preferred the chunks of sausage in our gravy. Either way though, still a good taste of Southern home cooking. 

 Rich, creamy gravy atop light biscuits. There's even a homemade sausage patty buried under there!

Rich, creamy gravy atop light biscuits. There's even a homemade sausage patty buried under there!

After breakfast we made our way down to Folly Beach for a walk along the ocean and a stop for a drink at one of the hotel beachside bars. It was cloudy all day, but still magical for us to be on the ocean.

We stopped at Roadside Seafood to split a basket of fried shrimp and fried green tomatoes. I love fried green tomatoes, and both were served with excellent dipping sauces. 

Finally, we headed back to our hotel to nap and get ready for our final meal at FIG (Food is Good), also known for their use of local seasonal ingredients. FIG was by far the fanciest place we dined at, and we were also the youngest people in there! It was one of my favorite dining experiences of the trip. We shared the ricotta gnocchi with lamb bolognese and beet soup with buttermilk and pumpernickel breadcrumbs. I had the seafood stew and the hubby the swordfish with orange, greens, and spiced granola (very unique - and very good!). We also shared the dessert with fresh strawberries (we kept having to order them as they were so good down there!), lavender shaved ice, and strawberry panna cotta. It was wayyyy too fancy in there for me to feel comfortable snapping any pictures, so we dined and chatted our way through the night without any distractions. HIGHLY RECOMMEND this place and making reservations beforehand.

Our last stop of the night was to catch some music at the Tattooed MooseThey are known for their duck club, but being we had just eaten, we split a side of duck fat fries with garlic aioli before leaving (definitely not needed - but worth it!). 

And that my friends, sums up our 5 days in Charleston. It was a wonderful city filled with extremely friendly people, beautiful architecture, hard-to-believe history, delicious food, and a old-world charm you just can't find around here.  

We will definitely be back. But until then, we'll be here. Enjoying the fresh snow and 30-degree weather. Is it spring already?!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Quinoa Granola (refined sugar free)

Happy Monday! Hope ya'll had a great weekend. We hosted a massive brunch on Saturday before we took to the frozen lake for some ice golf. The things you do for fun when you live in Minnesota during the wintertime...

 We had 14 people play overall - with all proceeds going towards the local food shelf. Of course I'm the only one not looking at the camera. :)

We had 14 people play overall - with all proceeds going towards the local food shelf. Of course I'm the only one not looking at the camera. :)

Other than that, the hubby and I mostly relaxed on Sunday (and I may this delicious granola - keep reading!) as we were planning on attending a SuperBowl party at a friend's house last night. However, our little Aussiedoodle Tux, had different plans for us! Right as we were about to leave, Tux stole a sock out of the bedroom (I was finishing putting laundry away) and swallowed it. Off the the ER vet we went! Needless to say, not how we planned our Sunday night to go, but it is what it is. I'm hoping I'll be ready for the crazy things children thanks to him!

Ok so now on to the real reason for this post: Peanut Butter Chocolate Quinoa Granola (refined sugar free). Hello yum! Being I'm just about 22 weeks pregnant, I've had some major candida overgrowth issues (for those of you not familiar with what that is, google it). I was already prone to the infections that go along with it, and usually was able to nip them in the bud when if I started taking probiotics and laid off the sugar. Unfortunately, that didn't work being pregnant. Normally, I only eat one or two servings of fruit a day and hardly any processed sugar, but of course I've been craving sweets and sugar like crazy this pregnancy. Besides the medications my Ob/GYN but me on, I've been really trying to get back to reducing my sugar/carb/dairy intake (basically anything that yeast likes to feed on in the body!). This granola is still made with maple syrup, but it's much less sweet than what you buy in the grocery store.

Originally, I was making this granola into granola bars, but I think I over-toasted it and the poor things just wouldn't hold together! So, I crumbled it up and ta-dah! Granola. Deliciously crunchy, perfectly sweet, granola.

I've been on a big coconut-milk yogurt kick, and this granola is the perfect topping for my yogurt and fresh berries parfait. Coconut milk yogurt has barely any protein, so it's nice to get an added boost from the oats, peanut butter, and quinoa. 

 I hope you enjoy it as much as I am!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Quinoa Granola (refined sugar free)

Ingredients:

1 and 1/4 cups rolled oats (I used old fashioned)

1/4 cup oat flour or rolled oats finely crushed (I threw mine in the food processor for a few pulses)

3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1/3 cup uncooked quinoa 

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup dried fruit of choice

1/2 cup peanuts, roughly chopped (or other nut of choice)

3/4 cup dark chocolate chips (I like Lily's brand for no-sugar added)

1/2 cup peanut butter (or other nut butter of choice)

1/2 cup coconut oil, warmed until melted

1/4 cup maple syrup, agave, honey or other natural sweetener of choice

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.

Lay parchment paper into 8 by 8 square inch pan (could also use 9 x 11)

Mix all dry ingredients together in mixing bowl. 

Mix wet ingredients (oil, peanut butter, sweetener) in separate bowl.

Add wet indredients to dry and combine.

Pour granola into pan and press down in even layer with back of spoon or rubber spatula.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until edges and top are starting to brown.

Let cool completely before crumbling into granola.

Store in airtight container for up to a week, or throw in the freezer for longer. 

 

 

 

 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Bliss Balls

What's better than peanut butter and chocolate? Rolling them together in a ball with shredded coconut, muesli, and no sugar added! Yep, you heard that right - NO SUGAR ADDED. We can all rejoice in our post-holiday healthiness now. These Peanut Butter Chocolate Bliss Balls are packed full of nutrients and oh-so-yummy! Even my husband, who is sometimes skeptical of my 'kitchen experiments', loved them. Win win for everyone! 

blissballs

Here's what you need to make these perfectly creamy + crunchy + delicious bliss balls:

1 cup dates, already pitted (or you can squeeze out the pits yourself by soaking in water first)

1/2 cup natural no-sugar added peanut butter

1/3 cup dark chocolate chunks (I took a high-quality fairtrade dark chocolate bar and roughly chopped with a butter knife - you could probably buy pre-chunked chocolate from the store if you prefer). Health hack: If you're really looking to make these completely sugar-free, look for a dark chocolate that is only sweetened with Stevia.

1 TBSP flax seeds (could also use chia seeds or other favorite seed of your choice)

1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut flakes

2/3 cup muesli (or rolled oats work too, but I like Seven Sundays muesli as it has no added sugar)

Directions:

Place dates in mixer or food processor and blend until softened. Fold in rest of ingredients until combined. Roll into approximately 1-inch balls with hands. If having a hard time coming together, can add a little more peanut butter. Place on cookie sheet and freeze for 10-15 minutes or until set. Pop into mouth. Determine why you hadn't thought of making these before.

I stored leftovers in an airtight glass container in fridge. If you're like us, it wont take you long to devour! If it takes you longer than a week however, I would consider freezing them.

These are easy to grab-and-go, and make a great breakfast, snack, or dessert. Who knew a bliss ball could be so blissful?!

2017 Newsolutions: What They Are and Why You Need Them

A New Year’s resolution is a tradition, most common in the Western Hemisphere but also found in the Eastern Hemisphere, in which a person makes a promise to do an act of self-improvement or something slightly nice, such as opening doors for people beginning from New Year’s Day.
— Wikipedia

It's almost that time. The time for us to decide on what our 2017 New Year Resolutions are going to be. Maybe you don't make resolutions, or maybe you're like the majority of us who make them, and then don't end of following through with them anyway. I challenge you to take a different approach this year.

What if instead of adding more things you are going to DO this year, you take things off of your list? Wouldn't that make your life a bit easier? Simpler? Less stressful? 

I'd like to refer to these as 'newsolutions'. Instead of adding more to our plate, we eliminate the things that don't make us happier or more financially free, or give us a greater sense of self or peace of mind. 

What do newsolutions look like? Below I'll share a few examples that I am going to use in 2017: 

1) No more coloring my hair. I made it through 2016 without this, and have decided I can continue on this trend. Not only is it a) healthier for my hair, it also b) saves me money. Not to mention, someone created hair color as a BUSINESS to make us feel inadequate with our own natural hair color, which is just a bit ridiculous (along with the rest of the beauty industry that we buy into!). 

2) No more manicures. Again, I didn't get a lot of these in 2016 (if any!), but manicures are another thing that are a) not natural b) make my fingernails look like crap after it's worn off (shellac I'm talking to you!) and c) another drain of money. I will still be keeping my roughly once annual pedicure, as I do like to splurge and have my feet nice and soft before going somewhere warm!

3) No more involving myself in more than one activity at a time. If I'm coaching soccer, no teaching yoga or being on the bowling league (pretty much impossible to do anything else anyway!). If I'm on the bowling league, no joining any other organizations or teaching yoga (or they at least can't both happen every week!). Between work, my friends, my husband, our dog, and just life, over-commitment and over-scheduling is a real issue for me, and something I'd like to work on in 2017. 

4) No more scheduling an event on both Friday and Saturday night. You know that feeling when you don't have a lot planned for the weekend? It's marvelous, isn't it? By not completely scheduling our weekend up in advance, my husband and I are able to have spur-of-the-moment adventures, either the two of us or with friends/family. Being able to do whatever we want (even if it is just to stay in, order Chinese food and watch a movie!) creates less stress and anxiety on the very few days we get off together. This is going to prove to be challenging at times, but I'm going to try and stick to it as much as possible! 

5) No more gyms. Again, I pretty much gave this up in 2016, but the urge to join has came up now and again and I need to make it a 2017 'newsolution' as well. Instead of going to the gym, I use the Skimble Workout Trainer app, and love it. I can do short workouts at home every morning, schedule my trainings ahead of time, and even buy a specific program if I'm lacking motivation (for A LOT less than a gym costs!). The time it takes to go to the gym, workout, shower, etc., is too much for me. I weigh about the same as I did when I stopped going to the gym, and am in roughly the same physical shape (despite the pregnancy that is!). And for my yoga fix, I have the Yogamazing app, and Chad the instructor is great. He makes short 10-30 minute episodes based off certain topics (yoga for anxiety? check. yoga for weightloss? check. yoga for back pain? check. you get the picture!). Between these two apps and walking the dog, I get a good amount of exercise. If you love going to the gym or won't exercise without it, then by all means this should not be a newsolution for you. However, I challenge you to find more ways to fit physical activity into your everyday life. If you're ready to give up that membership, check out my article on how to do so: http://www.simplesliceoflife.com/blog/2016/6/23/how-to-give-up-your-gym-membership-7-easy-steps

6) No more NOT having a game plan. I just recently finished the book 'How to Train Your Brain for Success' by Roger Seip. It was a game changer for me. I loved the part about why you should never go into a week (or even a day!) without a plan, and Roger's strategies have helped save me countless of wasted hours throughout a week. It's definitely worth checking out if you're looking for a way to be more efficient with your time. 

7) No more trying to accomplish more than 6 major things a day. This is from Roger's book, and I feel it's worth a mention. Roger states that you should never have more than 6 main objectives in a day that you want to accomplish. This keeps your mind focused, and prevents you from losing motivation by taking on too much. I've tried it for a few days now and love how it keeps me centered and energized, and not overwhelmed by the amount of tasks I feel I need to finish. 

That's it! Well, at least for now. ;) The great thing about Newsolutions is you can set them, evaluate to see if they're working or not, and tweak as needed. What Newsolutions are you going to create this year?

 

 

5 Ways to Simplify the Holidays

Can you believe it? Thanksgiving is already three days away. If you're like me, the holiday season snuck up on you. Here in Minnesota, we've had exceptionally warm weather (up until last Friday!), so it didn't quite feel like November. But alas, here we are. Days away from the kick-off of the holiday season. And the stress/spending/overconsumption that comes along with it.

I started this blog as a way to document and share my ideas for living a simpler life. As I've been thinking about impending holiday season, I've started to reconsider what I deem 'necessary' during this time. I came up with these 5 ways to simplify the holidays. If you're looking to simplify your holidays, but can't/don't want to implement them all, start with one. You may find your spirits a little more jolly because of it.

simplifytheholidays

1) Forget the Holiday cards. 

This one is tough for me. Last year we sent out holiday cards for the first time (holiday + wedding thank you's!) and this year I was kind of looking forward to creating a card with a picture of our new puppy on it. I photographed him playing (or more like eating) a red santa hat, and even formatted the card online. But you know what I was thinking while creating it? That it didn't look as good as the professional photography cards that we will receive from a lot of our family and friends. And then you know what I thought? That. is. ridiculous. I haven't even sent/received any cards yet and I'm already comparing our non-existent card to others' non-existent cards. So, at that moment I decided to let the card idea go. Those who want to see a picture of our doggie can take a look on my Facebook or Instagram page (most everyone I would have sent to I'm connected with on those platforms) and the family who can't see him online will meet the little guy at Thanksgiving or Christmas. Also, I just saved us easily $100 by not sending cards. (That being said, I still love and welcome when other people send us cards, and proudly display all of our good looking family/friends when they do send!). Maybe in the future when we have children I'll want to send something, but for now, I'm saying no to holiday cards. 

2) Go easy on the alcohol. 

Now this is coming from someone who is currently pregnant (surprise!) so take it with a grain of salt. However, not being able to drink has made me realize how unnecessary a lot of my drinking was (especially during the holidays!). Now, I'm not saying you have to give up alcohol completely (what's the fun in that?!) but try putting some limits as to how much/when you drink this season (such as only having one drink at a party/out to dinner or choosing one or two parties that you will overindulge in, but that's it.) It's too easy to go on a eating/drinking/spending binge during the holiday season, so putting some restrictions around the boozing will likely leave your wallet and waistline smiling. 

3) Give up the gifts. 

*Gasp*. I can hear you all the way from here. This was easy for me, as my immediate family and I had given up gifts a long time ago (and even before that we bought/received pretty practical gifts - socks and shampoo anyone?). Don't get me wrong, I love receiving the unexpected gift (that I actually like!), but a lot of times the gifts I receive I don't need/use, and I'm thinking the gifts I give may be looked at the same. So what about gift cards or just asking what someone wants? Here's a novel idea. Just save your money to buy what you really want (or actually need!) and have that person do the same. Hang out with them, laugh with them, and let them know how much you value your time together. That is the greatest gift of all.

And if you're dying to give gifts or can't convince your family/friends to let it go, make a rule that gifts have to be handmade or locally made only, or do a fun white elephant exchange game instead (who doesn't like cleaning out their junk to give to the next person!?). 

4) Limit the decorations. 

Everywhere you turn these days, there are stands and shelves stocked with this year's decorations just waiting to be brought home. I'm guessing you have plenty of decorations from last year, but the pull of new, shiny decorations is hard to resist. My advice? Challenge yourself to not buy a single holiday decoration this year. Not one. You can make it through, I'm certain. We don't decorate much for the holidays except a little themed decoration above the cabinets in our kitchen, and a wreath on the front door. I'm not saying to not decorate if you love spicing up your home, but see if you can make do with what you have (or better yet, donate some of the decorations you don't like/use any more!). 

5) Do one less thing. 

Take a look at your calendar. Is there a party or get together you can say no to? I just looked at mine. Between now and the New Year, we've got three Thanksgiving celebrations, three Christmas celebrations, three birthday parties, one concert, one ugly sweater party, and a wedding. That doesn't include our respective work parties, or other random get-togethers we have planned. Today I had to decline an invite for a Friendsgiving I was looking forward to, but it fell on the same day as two birthday parties (and a play I'm attending earlier that day with a friend!). It may hurt to say no, but rushing from one party to the next on the brink of exhaustion doesn't make for a happy holiday season either. See if there is one thing you can cut out this holiday season and fully enjoy the things you do participate in.

Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.
— everyone during the Great Depression, including my grandma who recited it often

Let's not lose sight of what's really important this holiday season. It's not the parties, the gifts, the drinks, or the food. It is about spending time with the people we love, practicing gratitude for what we already have, and giving a little extra to those who need it.