Monday, October 5, 2015

Everyday Detox: Why I'm Obsessed with this Book


I'm obsessed with this book. Let's be clear here: I'm not a person you'll find cooking in the kitchen on a daily basis. I'd like to be but haven't quite gotten there yet. Upon learning that I need to give up a few more food categories, this time finally sucumbing to releasing my beloved gluten and sugar, I saw this book and immediately requested a copy. My love for sugar and bread and pasta runs deep, friends. Deep. But my love for being healthy ends up inching past as the winner in the end. Enter in this delicious book.

Aside from being gluten free, sugar free, and caffeine free (I'm failing at this, let's just be real), I'm also vegan. This makes me weary of cookbooks in general as most don't support alternative eating habits, like being vegan, unless the cover boldly states VEGAN is large, usually cool, letters. Megan easily and seamlessly incorporates options for all sorts of eaters by having simple "add this and ditch that to make it vegan" or "this simple swap out will make it great for dairy free friends", and so on (these are not direct quotes, mind you, but a generalization of her inclusion). This not only makes me excited to read each recipe but gives me a sense of belonging, which many cookbooks do not.




If the recipes don't grab you, her easy explanation of a healthy approach to eating will absolutely pull you in. The simple system is not a diet at all, but a smart way to let your body process foods easier and better than it currently can. As someone who firmly believes that what we put into our bodies affects not only our health but our moods, productivity, complexion and so on, I love the simplistic approach and her helpful lists. And if that doesn't pull you in, the pictures surely will. You may want to lick the pages (I did not), or find yourself staring with love and admiration (I absolutely did).

My first up to try are the Cauliflower Pizza Crust and the Vegan Mac N Cheese, along with any of her healthy juices. Don't be intimidated by eating healthy or natural foods. Let Megan and her fabulous book guide you on the journey.

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Please note I received this book from Blogging for Books for free, in exchange for my honest review.
photos via detoxinista.com

Monday, August 24, 2015

Better Than Before: A Book Review

A friendly reminder that my website is now www.lovemustardseedco.com, where you can find all the info on coaching, workshops, products, and more!

And now, for a book review!
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Something so many of us are unaware of is our habits and how they are shaping our lives. In "Better Than Before", Gretchen Rubin challenges us to identify our habits, and alter the ones that are not helping us live our best lives.




As someone who is obsessed with personal growth, and with challenging myself to remove and restructure anything that isn't helping me become the person I know I was born to be, this book lit my eyes up like a firework on the fourth of July. Habits? Change? Growth? Living better?! I was so in.

Ms. Rubin calls us first to identify ourselves as one of four "types" she lays out as Upholders, Questioners, Obligers, and Rebels (for the record, I'm a blend of Rebel and Questioner). Using this information, she helps us understand how we work and how to begin making new choices, having new conversations (both in our heads and with others), and living fuller, happier lives. She also uses the tactic of "me too" by sharing personal struggles and triumphs, along with anecdotal stories that help examples come alive.

While I loved this book, and was strongly drawn to the design, I had the same experience with this as I did with her first book, The Happiness Project. I found myself getting a little distracted and feeling like sections were slightly being stretched out, and putting both books down for awhile before picking that up again. That being said, I ultimately went back to both and am glad I did.

Anytime someone wants to grow and change for the better, it should be applauded and supported. In this book, Gretchen Rubin does both, along with providing strategies to make those changes and create better habits to be, well, better than before.

I was provided with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinions!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Mustard Seed Reads: "To You; Love God"


I absolutely love "To You; Love, God". Not only is the cover and layout simple and beautiful, the message is heartfelt and clear. This book provides a daily inspirational paragraph to set the tone for your day (and I find it's best enjoyed with a cup of coffee or tea). The best part is that it's set out by date but not by year so you can come back year after year to view and re-read the messages.

There are sections for each month such as "Do" and "Love" that neatly package the messages in accordance with the monthly theme. If you feel you need motivational calls to action, hop to a section that is more active. If you need some comfort and kindness, find a section that matches.

This book can be shared with anyone, regardless of age, and would make a great book to read out loud to little ones at the start or end of a day. It's a great gift, again, really for anyone, and will surely be appreciated by all. I would absolutely buy this as a gift for friends or family. In a world that seems overwhelmed with chaos, pain, confusion, and frustration, being able to give someone a bit of peace and love and kindness is a true blessing.

Check out  To You; Love, God: A Year of Daily Guidance and Inspiration Straight from the Source and let me know how you like it!

**I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I never post anything other than what I honestly believe. Thanks for your support of this content so I can continue to provide you with exciting new books to read!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Time to Rise & Shine

Morning is my absolute favorite time of day. While I don't do it often, I love waking up early and using the time to refresh, check in on how I'm feeling and where I'm at, and set the standards for the day to come.


Morning routines are a quick and easy way to set the tone for your day, and make very big life changes with small steps. My morning routine starts with a 20-minute meditation. Well, no, back it up. My morning routine starts with feeling some puppy eyes staring at me waiting for me to wake up. Henry is the first one up and he can hardly contain himself with enthusiasm for the day. As soon as he sees my eyes open, he rolls onto his back to get his morning belly rub and we play a few rounds of "catch mommy's hand", which is a fan favorite around here. After Hen and I have our time together, Layla slowly makes her way from sleeping to sitting up to flopping over to me where she keeps her eyes shut and a big smile on her face while I scratch her ears until she falls back asleep.

As I write this, I realize even my dogs have a morning routine! Even more motivation for you to set one up.

Up next comes teeth brushing, my meditation, morning prayers and reading a chapter in my current 40-day devotional and by then the dogs have run downstairs to pee on their pee-pads and start eating breakfast, and have run back up to see what the heck is taking me so long.

This is when I first check my phone, and at the most I'll look at instagram. That's it. No email, no facebook, no internet, nothing else. Waking up without your technology in your face is crucial to the start of your day. You know what is usually in my emails? People needing things. If I haven't taken care of myself yet, how can I start to give to others? If you hop right on facebook then the very first thing you're doing is seeing what other people are up to (hello comparison), reading upsetting news going on in the world, or taking in other people's frustrations (don't act like you don't have friends who use facebook as their platform to complain about every traffic jam, burnt bagel, and bad dream). We don't need that first thing in the morning - or really, ever, so go on ahead and delete those constant complainers.


Next up is brewing a cup of tea or hitting the button on my bff Mr. Keurig for some delicious coffee, finding some breakfast, and playing fetch for a few minutes with Hen, who by now is basically leaping around, pushing his toys toward me. If I've got the time, this is also when I stretch.

This point is where my days veer off. I might throw on workout clothes and take the dogs out, I might hop right in the shower to get to auditions or callbacks, or I might be getting on skype and start coaching clients (which, yes, I often do with that tea or coffee in my hand, pjs still on). However, the beauty of my morning routine means even though every single day is different, with so many uncertainties, I've created stability and structure for myself before I jump into anything else. If you have a ton of structure and a day job you go to daily, you can create a morning routine to fulfill your other wants outside of your job. Maybe this is when you journal, paint, or write that best selling novel. Maybe it's when you get to the gym. Need more ideas? Here's a list of suggestions for you on how to rock out your morning routine:
  • pray
  • journal
  • meditate
  • stretch
  • make tea or coffee
  • cook a real breakfast that takes longer than grabbing a protein bar or donut
  • spend time with your partner, kids, parents, pets, or whoever else makes you smile
  • read a newspaper, magazine, book, or daily inspiration/devotional
  • take a long shower
  • go for a run, do a dvd/youtube workout, or hit the gym early
  • write a blog post
  • pursue your creative passions or dreams
  • write out three goals for the day
  • make a clear intention statement for your day
What does your morning look like? I'd love to hear your routines either here in the comments or over on instagram. Remember: YOU are in charge of your day. Not your facebook friends, family, co-workers, weather, or whatever else we can choose to blame. Shape your day how you want it, and start with the morning :)

love, mustard seed co

Friday, February 27, 2015

Doggie Gift Round-Up; Or, Things I Want for H & L


Sometimes when I really need to zone out, I play a game called "look at dog related things". I have another version for baby/toddler clothing, and that addiction is really out of hand but definitely pays off when in need of a baby gift. I digress. So after a round of looking at things I want for me or my (fur) kids, I thought I'd share for anyone else obsessed with their furry little man or lady.
 
1. This necklace from Tamed & Awesome.

2. One of these bowties for Sir Henry Elliot the Great. This shop donates to National Mill Dog Rescue, too!

3. And this art print (customized with a Henry and a Layla, of course) because are you kidding me?

4. This lady bug collar/flower set, which is ever so delightful for a little Layla Ladybugger.

5. And two of these nose-print necklaces, thank you very much.

Okay, doggie mamas, what say you? What's the best pet present you've gotten or given?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Worth It; Or, Another Lesson from Layla June


 

I posted an instagram the other day about Miss Layla June's tendency to throw middle of the night one-pup parties. She's the organizer of the event, and the only one who knows about it ahead of time. She rests up all day so that somewhere around 2 am she decides it's time to play. She crawls on my head, plays with my hair, sneezes and hacks up furballs, fluffs the blankets, bothers Henry, and jumps on and off the bed several times.

Layla June is not what I expected that sunshiney Saturday in Hollywood when we first met. My sweet, gentle darling was a ninja in secret, waiting until I signed the adoption papers to really get comfortable. That being said, she is a blessing and a gift to me in countless ways. Every time she drives me crazy or does something naughty, it really doesn't matter in the end. Her love outweighs her frustrating qualities. It's hard, but she's worth it.

That got me thinking: isn't everything great in this world part of that category? The things we never expected to be so hard, or take so long, or be so challenging, very often tend to be even better than we expected and totally worth it. I asked on instagram and got answers like:
  • "My 3 month old daughter! She's not at all what I expected and neither is motherhood! It's harder than I could have imagined and yet it's totally worth it, like you said!"
  • "Marriage! Even the second time around. We have to be careful of the fairytales that tell us at the end of the live story we live happily ever after. We have to work on the in between."
  • "Recovering from brain surgery. I thought I'd be done by now and instead, I'm still in the thick of it. I had convinced myself that it was all about attitude but evidently my body disagrees."  
  • "Madison. Madison is harder than I ever assumed and she's only a dog." 
That last one is from a fellow dog mama and made me laugh quite a bit.  But LOOK at these answers. These are hard things. Marriage, raising another human, recovering from brain surgery for goodness sake. Hard things that are so much more worth it than we imagined.

In our insta-everything world, we very often want what we want when we want it, like, right now. Now! Immediately! How great would it be if babies came potty trained, or we all instinctively knew how to do the things we want to pursue, or degrees were able to be picked off trees? Great, yes, but also kind of sad. It's in the earning, the navigating of these struggles, that we find the deeper joy in what we want.

Pursuing an acting career is one of the hardest things I've ever done. Luckily. But it is so much harder and more complicated than I thought it would be. For years (yeaaarrrss) I have wanted to be a part of Pilot Season, the time when all new tv shows are pitched and a pilot is made to determine if it will be a new show on a network. This year is the first year I am auditioning for pilots. Guess what? It's not at all what my conceptual idea of it was. I dreamed of pilot season as a time where I'd be in LA, driving from studio to studio, glamorous, looking great, and it being so simple. The reality of it is an insane amount of work and memorizing pages of lines very quickly, rushing from audition to audition, putting myself on tape nonstop to be sent to LA production teams. Last week, I even hid when I saw another audition come in. And yet, it's totally worth it.

Then there's Love. The conceptual idea of love is ever so delightful, right? Raising two rescue dogs out of their fears and behaviors continues to be incredibly challenging, and yet - so much love. Unconditional love. So worth the frustrations. Loving other people is not always an easy piece of cake but we know that's it's worth it in the end. A friend once told me he wanted to be wealthy, or at least set financially, before meeting anyone to be in a relationship with. I noted how much more it might mean to build up a life together, to grow side by side into success and wealth, that he didn't have to be "perfect" before allowing love into his heart. You'd have thought I just explained the meaning of life, his eyes got so wide. And yet, how often do we see folks in their 20's and 30's pushing off serious relationships until they get their lives "together", or have more money, or a higher title in the office, or some kind of success. In the meantime, they give up on people who they really care about and are missing the experience of something that, yes, can be really hard, yet is really incredible and worth navigating. Our expectations of relationships and what they're "supposed" to look like crush the chance of real love before we're even out of the gate. We can't control the order in which we are given things in our lives. But we can embrace each one with it's unique struggles and triumphs. Walking away from the hard things guarantees missing out on lessons and love carved out just for you.

It can seem tempting to give up on your dreams, your loved ones, your monetary goals, that crazy idea you have in the back of your head, but don't. If it's really hard, it's definitely worth it. And when you get those little glimpses of the light at the end of the tunnel, it makes it easier to keep going. Let each blessing hidden in your struggle turn into a stepping stone to launch you to the next step along the journey.

Okay, you tell me: what's something that has been unexpectedly hard in your life but is totally worth it? And if you have any hints on getting a Chihuahua-Ninja to sleep through the night, I'll take those, too ;) 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Vegan Holiday Deliciousness (for non-vegans, too!)


For any vegan, the holidays can be stressful and result in eating lots of random side dishes. Most traditional holiday meals include meats, fish, and dairy products in sides, such as milk in mashed potatoes, a cheese filled pasta dish, or creamed vegetables. This can cause quite a dilemma when filling up one's plate.

Enter the Vegan Holiday Cooking from Candle Cafe cookbook. This book is filled with beautiful images that will make your mouth water and recipes that are easy to follow and exciting to make for your next get-together. More over, they cover all sorts of holidays. Upon seeing the title of the book, I assumed there would only be recipes for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hannukah, and perhaps a Birthday celebration. Vegan Holiday Cooking from Candle Cafe covers every holiday from Super Bowl celebrations to Passover Sedar to Cinco de Mayo. The authors, and owners of the Candle Cafe restaurants, clearly put a lot of thought and time into creating the book and considering all varieties of vegans. For each holiday category, there's at least one beverage, appetizer, main dishes, and deserts.





The common belief about vegans is that we eat "rabbit food" like lettuce, carrots, and vegetables. It's simply not true! Vegans love everything that non-vegans like to eat, only we prefer ours with non-animal based ingredients. With all the options available to vegans, we can enjoy things like ice cream sandwiches and pizza and meatball subs, all without any ingredients that either don't work with our bodies, allergies, or moral opinions. Some of the recipes that really stood out to me in this yummy book are French Toast Coffee Cake, Pecan Pie with Cinnamon Ice Cream, Wheat Ball Heros, and Sweet Potato Latkes. Yum!

The only reason I gave this book 4.5 stars is because some of the recipes are a little tricky to make, and/or require equipment or products that I didn't have or couldn't find. However, I do feel with a little extra effort or a more stocked kitchen than an apartment of a 20-something year old, the recipes would be easy to make in all aspects.




As a New Yorker that loves to go to the Candle Cafe restaurants whenever possible, I can't wait to try every single recipe in this book! If you're a vegan, or love a vegan, definitely check it out! Happy Celebrating and get to cooking!

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Choosing the Tea (and other important choices)

 

We have a Keurig in our house now. Do you know the joy that a Keurig brings? With the quick push of a button, you have yourself a hot beverage. In the morning, when it's cold, and you still don't have your contacts in, this is the kind of invention that makes you know for certain God loves you. Naturally, I decided now was a great time to start drinking coffee (well, start again, after drinking it most of my childhood, but that's a story for another day). It was so easy and so delicious and within days, I found myself feeling like making tea in the kettle was too much of a hassle.

I'm going to write that one more time: I found myself feeling like making tea was too much of a hassle. Uh, what now? Tea? The thing that involves water and a few minutes? Hm.

Just now, I went downstairs to make some chamomile tea before bed, and found my eyes instantly wandering to the Keurig and the hot chocolate K-cups sitting next to it. And this was when I realized I had a choice: do what I know is best for me and for my body, even though it would take a few extra minutes, or do the faster, not so good for me option.

I chose the tea.

I've found myself interested in paying attention to my choices and habits lately. What are the things that I frequently do that don't serve me? What do I purposefully choose to do that keeps me from living my best life? Why am I making those choices? And how can I easily fix them? Let's look at a few (and this is some real talk, friends):

1. I choose to go to sleep very late at night and therefore sleep in very late in the morning.
I'm a morning person. If you know me in real life, you're probably crying from laughter, as nearly every day, I sleep until whenever I want to. Without a set schedule, unless I have an early morning audition or coaching, I can wake up as late as 11 without blinking an eye. Since I'm choosing to stay up super late at night, I'm making it so I'm too tired to get up early. It's easy to let netflix keep playing episode after episode. It's easy to distract myself by scrolling on instagram for hours. It's easy to declare I'm most productive after midnight. You know what takes a little work? Getting to bed earlier. Turning off the computer. Putting the phone down. Not eating sugary snacks or drinking anything caffeinated later in the day. Choosing to get a good night's rest so I can wake up ready to take on the world. That's a little harder, choosing what's best for me.

2. I choose to eat poorly, quickly, or not at all. It's so darn easy to microwave something, and if it says vegan on the front it can totally make you think you're eating something healthy. It's easy to pick up take out, especially in New York City where whatever you want is at your fingertips. It's a little harder to take the time to plan meals in advance, go grocery shopping, and prepare a healthy dinner for yourself. And if we're talking breakfast (aka I'm late, I have to run out the door, oh this doughnut looks great) or lunch (sitting at a desk, more take out, skipping it entirely, a diet coke counts right, etc), well we can just forget it. You know how great you feel when you're eating whole foods, making fresh juices or herbal teas, and generally not eating anything that comes in a cardboard box? Yeah, me too. It's awesome. And we can feel like that all the time. It's about making the choice to.

3. I choose to put things off. Another favorite habit is "I'll just do that later". The laundry is ready to be folded? I'll just do that later. There's 46 new emails in my inbox? I'll just do that later. The dogs would probably really like to go romp in the park a little? I'll just do that later with a side of guilt please. I have things that I've been saying I'll do later from, like, October. And from last summer. And some from 2007. It's easy to say we'll take care of something later on or tomorrow, but the truth is we're just choosing to be lazy. I love lazy. If there was a Queen crowned of laziness it would be me. But you know what feels even better than laying on a comfy couch? Actively taking care of the things in your life. My newest rule is if it would take me less time to just do the darn thing than it would to stand there and debate if I should do it now or later, just do it. When my coat is thrown over a chair and needs to be hung up, that will take like 8 seconds total. Getting the mail? Maybe a minute, plus Henry loves to get the mail. Which leads me to taking the dogs on a walk. If I don't take the dogs out (they're potty pad trained so it's always an option, plus Layla doesn't do cold, rain, or snow), I will literally feel bad the entire rest of the day. Have you ever seen the World's Most Handsome Dog staring out the window longingly? Of course you haven't because then you would be in my house and that would be creepy, but let me tell you, it will break your heart. I've spent hours trying to explain storms to Henry to no avail ("stoooooorm. make boom-boom-boom noises. it's wet. weTTTT. no walk in thunderstorm. do you understand what mommy is saying?"). If I just get up off my Queen Lazy butt and take them out for 10 minutes, we're all incredibly happier.

These are just three examples, but I'll bet they resonate. Why do we do this? I've been writing and analyzing on this for about a week now and I keep ending up at the same place: we're scared to live our best lives. We're scared to hold ourselves accountable to really living. We're scared to not have anything to complain about. We're also not so sure we're good enough or worth so much effort. After all, we're messy, flawed, mistake-making humans. Why should we be good to ourselves when most days we're mad at ourselves? Because we deserve it. You and I deserve our best lives. It is really scary to get what you want. It's really scary to change and grow beyond our current limit. We grow past people, and that's scary. We grow out of jobs, and that's scary. We grow so much we find ourselves in new cities, new homes, new relationships, new careers. And it's so scary. But the alternate, the staying stuck, the "this is okay, I guess" feeling, is so much worse. And so very permanent.

This week I'm challenging myself to make very small changes that will potentially produce big results. I'm planning to go to bed by 11, no computer, phone, or social media at all, and am challenging myself to hit a list of daily tasks that I mostly always do but sometimes skip, such as meditating twice a day, stretching, taking the dogs out twice, and some other things. Will it work? We'll find out. Take a look around at your own habits this week. What do you do to stop yourself from living your best life? Why are you doing it? Is it easily fixable? Let's talk here or on instagram, and start making better choices together.