I am trying something new here. A few blogs I admire have weekly or monthly recaps where the writer talks about the goings on of their life, favorite products, activities, and general things they feel worth sharing. I enjoy reading when people share personal things like that, and maybe you do as well. So, I decided for the next year (2023) to do a monthly recap where I cover all things mentioned above, plus anything else you might be interested in. So, let’s give it a go.❤︎
Cooking with Community
Let’s think about cooking for a second. It’s an activity a lot of us do, but how often do we reflect on the activity itself?
How much cooking do you do at home?
Do you enjoy cooking?
When you cook, is it often in a group setting or alone?
These are fundamental questions that you should consider. I’ve spent the last few weeks considering them myself, and here’s why…
Over the course of our move from Colorado to Hawai’i, we spent a few days in San Diego visiting my grandma Barbie. Many hours were devoted to baking pastries and crafting delicious meals. We talked, laughed, and invested quality time together in the kitchen. In that time, cooking became more than a task; not so mundane but actually an activity we could all engage with and enjoy together.
Most of you reading this probably spend part of your day in the kitchen preparing meals for yourself and possibly others. So you know what I mean when I say cooking can be a “task.” Even those of us who enjoy cooking (as I do) can, at times, see cooking as a chore.
So, do you notice the difference between cooking with others and cooking alone? Aside from things moving more smoothly. Do you notice a difference how you feel? How much more do you enjoy the process? Does the food taste better when more people spend time preparing it together?
I believe the answer is yes.
I do ninety percent of the cooking in our house, so after reflecting on our trip and realizing the most enjoyable thing we did as a family was cook, I was a little surprised. How could something I do every day feel so refreshed? And really the answer is simple; It was a time of joy, creativity, and connection. And there it is – cooking can be much more than mundane, especially when you have people to share the experience with.
After officially moving back to Hawai’i, I learned my family, neighbors, and friends (all of which could be categorized interchangeably) come together once a month for an at-home cooking demo. They’ve been doing these officially unofficial demos for the past few months, making anything from fresh tamales to tortillas. There’s talk of pretzel-making in the near future.
This month (February), we made pasta!
And thus, a more solidified reason to discuss cooking and community for February and circle back to my point; cooking with community is a profound joy. It’s fun and silly, and it doesn’t have to be anything more than preparing edible and ideally delicious food with people you love or at least like enough to spend a few hours with.
So lesson learner – whether it’s a special occasion or just another weeknight dinner, cooking in harmony with friends and family makes the experience more rewarding.
What do you think? Have you ever experienced this feeling? Been a part of a cooking class or made a meal with your family? Did you feel that sense of ease and togetherness? Or was it more stressful… too many cooks in the kitchen?
Making Hawai’i Home (again)
I first moved to Hawai’i in 2010; I was fifteen and hated it. I was a wild teenager obsessed with her non-traditional and admittedly reckless way of living. I missed my friends, the parties (that I should have never been at in the first place), and my general none constructive way of existing. I was not in the headspace to value my experiences; sure, I could appreciate the general beauty that was Hawai’i, but mostly I felt out of place. I didn’t feel “naturally” pretty enough or active enough or generally anything enough to exist here. I thrived in reckless, and Hawai’i was asking me to be settled, to be an average teenager who did age-appropriate activities and had equally age-appropriate friends, but I just didn’t want it. In fact, I rejected it. Instead, I dated a guy who was too old for me, and inevitably that toxic relationship ended right around the time high school did too. Then, I ran back to my hometown of Yuma and cocooned there for almost two years. Not really transforming or evolving anything resembling a butterfly, more just enveloping into myself.
Many things happened during that time, which I may share with you one day. But needless to say, I returned to the islands, this time changed by experiences that taught me the value of life, how easily it can pass, and how much of myself I could lose if I didn’t put worth to my time or my perception of self. It was a hard lesson that I needed and am grateful to have had, and this time around, things were different. Instead of rejecting change, I moved with it – eager to learn and find a sense of place.
I was grateful to have a home base to return to. I met people looking to make a difference beyond themselves and contribute meaningfully to the world. I met people who sparkled; role models and life-long friends. People with different backgrounds and people who mirrored my own. I participated in things outside my bubble; I tried and failed, worked and grew, and loved and observed. And with it all, I changed. I became more me than I’d ever felt, more the me I wanted to be before but was too shy and anxious to put in the work and become.
Now I feel that because Hawai’i was where I returned to heal and evolve, it has become my home in the most genuine sense.
So when I first met my (now) husband and found out he was in the military, I told him the relationship wouldn’t go far – I would never move, and that was that.
Then we moved (as most of you already know). We lived in Colorado for four years. In those years, so much has occurred, events that I could have done without (or not), and many really cool things transpired.
That said, when Greg told me we would be PCSing back to Hawai’i, I actually cried – real tears. I’ve always tried to be a go-with-the-flow type of person, and being with someone in the military, you kinda have to be. So, I was open to just about any of our potential new home states (or countries). But I don’t think I realized until the moment he told me the news how badly I wanted it to be Hawai’i.
Suffice it to say, moving back to Hawai’i was nothing short of a dream come true.
We are settling in and jumping back into old (and new) activities. We’ve experienced feelings of nostalgia, coupled with excitement for all the new things to come and unknowns. It’s just good to be back in Hawai’i, a place that has always been home, even when it wasn’t.
Lime-a-Bean the Lime Tree
We bought a lime tree. His/her name is Lime-a-Bean.
Send help. 😂
It’s my first plant purchase since we arrived. I have never had a tree to take care of before. Has anyone out there had luck growing a lime tree in a large pot? We have some property to plant in the ground, but if we can keep Lima (nickname) healthy and fruiting from the pot, then, hell ya, I’d prefer to keep it that way.
Any advice is welcome. Will keep you updated.
Natural Remedies for Warding off Bugs
Living in Hawai’i, you will have bugs. Period.
Specifically, and especially where I live, essentially the jungle with houses in the middle. Just as I do, bugs (including cockroaches) love the tropics. And as someone once said, like “death and taxes,” bugs, too are inevitable.
Inevitability may be the case, but we can still do things to make the environment in which they try to coexist (aka my house) less hospitable.
I researched (sources linked below) and found some natural remedies that may help discourage cockroaches and ants from making themselves home in my home.
Here’s what I found:
- Moth balls | don’t just detour moths, but cockroaches as well
- Plants! | you can use plants to ward of bugs here is how…
- Essential Oils | details below
Cockroaches (in theory) do not like the smell of lavender, cedar wood, and cypress.
Ants can be warded off with essential oils like peppermint, and citrus.
I purchased essential oils and two spray bottles from my local grocery (shout out to Down to Earth). I’ve been spraying the cedar wood in the bathroom, on the shower curtain, rug, sink, baseboard, and basically anywhere and everywhere. The bathroom smells fantastic, and I’ll probably end up putting a diffuser in there eventually (We have to fix the electrical outlet first).
I didn’t buy a citrus oil, but I had a citrus lavender blend that I hope will work for the little tiny adorable ants in my kitchen. They are very small and work very hard, but I need them to take their work (and lives) outside. They had a steady line from the wall to the sink. When they retired for the night, I sprayed the area with the oil blend, which, when used correctly, is intended to remove their scent trail.
So far, so good with the ants. They don’t gather in their uniform line on the counter as they did before spraying. I still get a few random ones running around, but that’s far more manageable for coexistence.
The cockroaches are harder to gauge. I have not seen one since arriving (*furiously knocking on wood), which could have something to do with the spray; I hope it does, or it could be a slow season for them. When you see them, you see them all in a condensed window of time. I will keep you posted on how the essential oil things goes.
Sources: Grove Collaborative, The Pest Rangers, Better Homes & Garden, PestTech
What it Means to Feed Your Soul
What am I talking about when I say, “feed your soul?”
For me, it’s about filling up comfort activities that nourish and nurture my emotional, spiritual, and creative well-being. It’s about filling up on moments that make me feel alive.
Everyone nourishes their spirit differently. Whether with daily routines, taking a walk with your pet, or listening to your favorite song until you know all the words by heart. It could be reading a book you’ve wanted to get into for weeks or trying out a new hobby. When I’m in need of soul-feeding, my go-to shnacks are:
- Art – drawing, painting
- Playing the Sims 4
- Watching a movie or show while eating actual snacks (and usually, said movie or show is something I’ve already watched before)
- Planning a trip
- Listening to an audiobook while cleaning or reorganizing things
- Getting in a good workout at the gym
- Getting outside – going on a hike/walk
- Curating a new playlist
- Cooking (especially something I haven’t done before)
- Hot yoga (oddly specific)
- Working and being around animals
- Laughing with friends
- Dancing – but because I’m so shy, this has to be with the right people to help get me out of my head; it’s so much fun!
- Performing my own tarot card reading
- Playing board/card games
Taking a break can make all the difference in life. Finding solace in small moments, like having a warm cup of coffee on a cold morning or attempting a new makeup style, can be incredibly fulfilling. Sometimes it’s nice to indulge in activities that we find relaxing, such as watching television or playing video games, even if they may not seem very productive on the surface. My husband refers to this as “sharpening the ax,” which means taking time to do something you enjoy to create the mental space necessary for optimal productivity later on (aka avoiding burnout).
While it can be tempting to constantly stay busy in a world where so much is expected of us, setting aside time for joy and relaxation is vital. The reality is we live in a hustle culture, and that mentality doesn’t leave much room for taking breaks and enjoying life, yet joy is essential for our well-being. We shouldn’t feel guilty like we are doing something wrong when we take time for things that bring us joy – an important part of finding balance in life – we can’t always be on all the time.
I encourage you to list things that feed your soul; what brings you joy?
Are you engaging in activities because they bring you joy or because it’s what society and social media glamorize?
Ice Baths & Wim Hof
Ice baths and Wim Hof oh my…
What is Wim Hof?
Wim Hof breathing is an ancient, yet powerful method of deep breathing developed by Dutch athlete Wim Hof. Also known as the “Iceman” due to his ability to withstand extreme cold temperatures, Wim Hof used this technique to achieve impressive physical performances and mental clarity. This breathwork technique helps people relax and tap into their inner power while controlling the nervous system and improving physical performance. The practice is an interesting way to make significant improvements to your health.
Wim Hof offers a wealth of information about his breathing techniques through his YouTube channel, where individuals can gain a better understanding of the practice and apply it to their natural health routine. Here’s an introduction video:
Why Ice Baths?
Combining breathwork with ice baths can provide many physical, emotional, and mental benefits. These include improved recovery time from strenuous activities, reduced inflammation, increased energy levels, improved mood, and clarity of mind. However, I have only experienced ice baths after partaking in breathwork exercises. At this point, I can’t imagine one without the other.
Let’s be honest; taking an ice bath can be uncomfortable, but the effects are worth the temporary discomfort. Over time, it becomes this strange uncomfortably that you (or at least I) tend to enjoy. Although challenging, when done together, breathwork and ice baths can make your body feel more energized and alive while simultaneously putting an ease to your mind, something akin to a deep calming meditation.
Of course, I can only speak specifically from my experience; this sense of calm seems universal, as I’ve discussed with others who shared similar reactions to the combination. I know individuals who regularly practice breathwork and ice baths. In fact, my stepdad Aaron, swears by the Whim Hoff method. The practice, which he has regularly taken part in for over two years, has helped to relieve chronic pain in his shoulder and ease outside stressors, which can manifest as anxiety and other forms of tension. Aaron’s jetting off to Spain soon to train and become a certified Whim Hoff instructor from the man himself.
It’s clear to me that ice baths can provide numerous physical and psychological benefits for those courageous enough to take the plunge, but if my detailing isn’t enough, let’s talk science (source linked below).
Studies by the European Journal of Applied Physiology found that ice baths can increase the body’s ability to adapt to physical exertion, accelerating recovery and reducing fatigue. Additional studies conducted by the Journal of Physiology & Biochemistry also showed that regular cold water immersion could reduce delayed onset muscle soreness. Additionally, research suggests that cold water plunges can help to reduce stress, improve sleep quality and even increase focus.
So while taking ice baths may initially seem intimidating, the potential benefits are almost too good to pass up. If you’re interested in giving it a go, I suggest pairing them with breathwork and seeing how your body responds. Also, I’m not a doctor (obvi). So maybe talk to yours before taking the plunge!
Best of luck, and stay cold! 😉
Sources: Healthline, Wim Hof Youtube
5 Favorite Things
1. Stanley Tucci Making Marinara Sauce … or really anything at all.
2. Homestead and Chill | This website is AMAZING. They have a plethora of free resources and advice for people who want to live an intentional, sustainable lifestyle. They provide tips on homesteading, natural living, gardening, cooking, preserving the harvest, and much more.
Their goal is to empower people with the knowledge to build a healthy, self-sufficient life rooted in nature and traditional practices. I sound like a spokesperson for their site, but it’s only because what they are doing there is wonderful.
3. Aloha Animal Sactuary | Aloha Animal Sanctuary is an invaluable resource to the animals and people of Oahu. Dedicated to giving shelter, safety, and care to those in need, their work is truly transformational. If you’re on island, be sure to visit or volunteer your time. If you want to show virtual support, check out their online merchandise (website linked in title card), or you can follow along with each animals journey via Instagram @alohaanimalsanctuary
4. Hot Yoga | I listed yoga in last month’s recap, but hot yoga is my jam. It is one of my favorite things all year, and I’m not just saying that because I’m trying to jump on some “that girl” trend or something.
I am one of the WORST stretchers of all time. I am getting better about stretching pre-and/or post-workout, but sometimes I don’t. My bad not stretching habit is catching up to me and manifesting in extremely uncomfortable ways – chronically tight hamstrings, shoulder/side lower back pain, and headaches. Honestly, mostly my own doing. So, I’ve exerted effort to be better about stretching, and the hot yoga class, specifically the yoga teacher (who I adore), and the studio (which I admire) are everything I could ask for and then some. If I dedicate myself to one class weekly, the benefits are noticeable, and I’m pretty invested.
I don’t think hot yoga is universally enjoyed; however, I do believe (speaking from my experiences) that because so many studios/instructors have different styles, while you may take one class and hate it (cough, cough, I’m speaking to you CorePower hot yoga), you may take another and love it. So, if you have an interest, but one class wasn’t it, try another class at a different place or by another instructor and see if it fits.
5. Morning Reading | specifically… 101 Essays That Will Change the Way You Think by Brianna Wiest. I don’t always have time to perform the “ultimate” morning routine, but my ideal routine (when possible) involves 5-10 minutes of reading something that gets my brain churning.
101 Essays… is the perfect morning read. It’s short chapters – often only a few pages. Wiest’s writing is thought-provoking and makes me reflect on my perceived notions of myself and how I view the world.
February’s Book List
- The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid ★★★★★
- A Court of Mist and Fury (book #2) by Sarah J. Maas ★★★★★
- Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self Delusion by Jia Tolentino ★★☆☆☆
- Really Good, Actually by Monica Heisey ★★★★★
- Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus ★★★★☆
Top 3 Books
1. A Court of Mist and Fury (book #2) by Sarah J. Maas | If you’re a fan of fantasy novels, I can’t recommend A Court… series more. There are five books in total. I just finished book two, and the story only gets better as the series progresses.
2. Really Good, Actually by Monica Heisey | If you’re looking for a witty and generally entertaining read, which, although fiction, is relatable for anyone who’s been divorced or gone through a serious breakup – This is the book for you! Funny, charming in a clever way, Really Good, Actually is
3. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid | This novel stayed with me days, nay… weeks, after I read it. Do you know the type? When you’re going about your day, you reflect on a scene from the book or the general story. I still experience that nostalgia with this novel.
I recently partnered with Bookshop. A website alternative to Amazon, connecting readers with independent booksellers. When you make a purchase through my affiliation link I may earn a portion of the sales at no additional cost to you.
If you’re interested in purchasing any of the above-mentioned books, you can find them on my “Books of 2023” – here or by clicking the image below, which is a hyperlink to my bookshop page.
Book Club: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman Discussion | March Book Pick
Also, in case you missed it – I am now hosting a book club, A Movie Lover’s Book Club. March’s book pick is The Power by Naomi Alderman. You can find everything you need to know – here.