Simplify 2016: Meals

standard June 10, 2016 Leave a response

Simplify 2016 is a new, monthly series designed to provide practical tips for how to live joyfully and fully in a busy world. Missed the last edition? Check it out here

Simplify

Now that summer is upon us, the last thing we want to be doing is cooking in a hot kitchen, right? I know I’d rather be running, reading in my backyard, napping in the hammock, entertaining neighbors over sangria and guac, but definitely not sweating away in the kitchen. Even on a day-to-day basis, meal planning in the summer tends to disappear, as vacations happen and life gets fun, and mental capacity to do regular adulting chooses to take a break. So how can we make meal planning simple? Especially in the summer, but also year round? I tend to follow two equations for meals, one that works in Spring and Summer and another for cooler Fall and Winter schedules. Here is the easy way to eat well this season.

  1. Get rid of the grocery list and go to the garden. Summer is full of bright, rich, colorful produce. Get a CSA, shop a farmer’s market, or grow your own goodies in the backyard. Make this flavorful abundance the star of meals and not the stale, shipped in produce at the supermarket.
  2. Use fresh herbs. Why use the dried stuff when fresh is so plentiful right now? A little bit goes a long way and adds a ton of flavor with little other seasonings or sauces. Play around with combinations or stick to your favorites.
  3. Smoothie + Salad + Grill. Basics here. Take all the summer fruits and blend them together with a little nut butter or hemp seeds (for fat + protein), a little greens, and a splash of liquid. Make a rainbow salad for lunch with all the colors of the season (and don’t forget about mixing fruits and vegetables and fresh herbs together! Salads aren’t just for vegetables). Top with walnuts or roasted tofu and it’s a meal. And for dinner, grill up all those veggies! Make a foil pouch with veggies, garlic, herbs and spices and grill it up until its tender. Serve over rice or quinoa. Easy, bright meals for every day.

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Here’s to an easy, breezy, relaxing summer menu!

Simplify 2016: Travel

standard May 13, 2016 Leave a response

Simplify 2016 is a new, monthly series designed to provide practical tips for how to live joyfully and fully in a busy world. Missed the last edition? Check it out here

Simplify

Packing for any trip can be an endeavor. Packing for weeks of various activities, climates, and occasions can be even more daunting. But there is a simple formula I stick to, whether an overnight trip to hill country or a month-long overseas adventure.

  1. Lay out everything you think you need. And get rid of half. Yes, half. I promise you won’t need it all.
  2. Make sure every item can be pared with at least two other items. You don’t want to fill your suitcase with something that only goes with one specific item or will only be worn once.
  3. Pick a color palette. This will make step #2 WAY easier.
  4. Limit your bags to one small carry-on suitcase and one tote bag. if it doesn’t fit, don’t take it. (This will also help with steps #1 and #2).
  5. Wear as many layers as you can on the plane. Especially the bulkier items. I always wear a sweater or wrap, scarf, and jacket. This gives you a little more space in your bag. And also because planes are cold.

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Any other helpful packing or travel tips to simplify the process and enjoy the trip?

Simplify 2016: Kitchen

standard April 15, 2016 Leave a response

Simplify 2016 is a new, monthly series designed to provide practical tips for how to live joyfully and fully in a busy world. Missed the first edition? Check it out here

Simplify

This month’s Simplified focus is my favorite place in the house: the kitchen! I am all for fancy kitchen gadgets, pretty linens, decorative bakeware. But even if you love cooking and baking, like I do, you really don’t need 3 sets of muffin tins, two dozen dish towels, or 8 spatulas. Here are some tips from my recent kitchen overhaul.

  1. If it has only one function, get rid of it. My rule is anything I have in my kitchen must have multiple ways I can use it. A dishtowel can not only dry dishes but can also line a breadbasket or work as an oven mitt. A blender can make smoothies, sauces, soups, juice (a main reason why I don’t own a juicer!) An ice cream bowl can be a prep bowl, condiment dish for parties, or a candy dish. If you can’t find at least a second function for it, let it go.
  2. Organize things by how you use them. Glasses and stemware go by the fridge, cooking utensils by the oven, silverware near dishes. Make things easily accessible. Also, keep like things together. Put baking utensils in the drawer by the baking pans. Keep cookware and oven mitts by the stove with the cooking utensils. And that random cabinet or drawer that is in a weird spot (such as above the fridge)? If you don’t need it, leave it empty. It’s freeing. I promise.
  3. Collect things that are pretty. Don’t just go for the functional tools. Splurge on the fancy muffin tin, use the special occasion dishes. If you’re going to only have one of something, you might as well love it. And you might as well use it. Don’t let it collect dust waiting for a special occasion.

Happy Simplifying!

Got a spring cleaning itch? I’d love to hear how you’re simplifying your kitchens!