Automate Exercise

My cutie-patooty son a million years ago (back in the day before digital cameras, so please excuse the red eye)

I’ve mentioned on this blog that I wanted to start exercising in a way that was conducive to my life. Meaning…it had to resemble brushing my teeth, something I would not have to make a decision about, consider, hem and haw over, wonder if today was the day I’d swim or hike or go to yoga or what have you.

I made it as easy on myself as possible. At the beginning of June, I joined the local gym and did the bare minimum. But (I told myself) I had to do the bare minimum five days a week to develop a bonafide, regular, healthy habit.

The point was to

  1. not have to think about it
  2. schedule no more than ½ hour
  3. be easy enough to keep at it regularly and have enough energy to get through the rest of my day

Here is what I’ve been doing every week since the beginning of June:

Monday– 10 minutes elliptical to warm-up, 10 minutes leg weights, 10 minutes abs and stretch

Tuesday– 10 minutes ellipitcal to warm-up, 10 minutes arm weights, 10 minutes abs and stretch

Wednesday– swim 30 minutes at local pool

Thursday– 10 minutes elliptical to warm-up, 10 minutes leg weights, 10 minutes abs and stretch

Friday– 10 minutes ellipitcal to warm-up, 10 minutes arm weights, 10 minutes abs and stretch

Weekend– walk the dog, take a hike or rest

I get up in the morning, have my coffee and a piece of fruit, drop my son off at his high school and go directly to the gym first thing. I like to get it out of the way. If I happen to miss one day, so what, I don’t try to make up anything, I just continue with the MTWThF schedule.

Here is the depressing part…I actually gained weight the first couple of months! And here is the good news… I’m stronger, feel better, sleep more soundly and make healthier food choices. My doctor said that eventually, I’d see the pounds drop off. Regardless, my clothes are fitting better.

The key is to automate it. Even on days I don’t want to go, I don’t think about it too much,  just get dressed in my workout clothes and that’s half the battle right there. I don’t have to wonder what type of exercise, when I will do it, or whether I feel up to it or not. Pretty much it’s like this: Monday? Legs day! Tuesday? Arms day! Wednesday? Swimming! And so on and so forth.

How to you stay motivated to exercise?

Use Sunscreen

Our variety of sunscreen over spring break this year. This post may contain affiliate links.

Okay, I know this sounds obvious but it’s important. It really is.

Use sunscreen. Everyday. Even in the winter.

I keep a pump bottle of it on top my bathroom counter and just apply every morning after a shower. I also keep a GoToob of it in my hand bag. Or you can keep a dedicated bottle in your car.

I prefer the waterproof version as I wash my hands a lot. I will apply it like a hand lotion throughout the day. This particular Banana Boat Sunscreen Sport brand has a little thicker consistency than an emollient hand cream and is actually pretty moisturizing.

I would prefer to purchase just one type of sunscreen but my finicky son can’t stand the white lotion-ey rub on type, especially if his mother is smearing it all over his face like cream cheese on a bagel. He’ll use spray on or face stick and only after much prodding. My daughter wanted her own spray Kiss My Face brand. I bought the Scalp SPF (which was very difficult to find) because I prefer to wear visors instead of hats and was worried about my scalp. It has the consistency of hair spray. I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re in the sun A LOT like me, watching baseball games all summer. I probably won’t repurchase it.

Okay, I know it’s back to school and all that and this post would’ve been more apt about three months ago but thank you for reading again as I took a break this summer. And inquiring minds want to know,  what type of sunscreen do you prefer?

The Mental Load

This post was originally written and posted on Emma’s blog. She gets full credit and my enduring gratitude for discussing something rarely talked about and very hard to put into words.

You should’ve asked

Here is the english version of my now famous “Fallait demander” !

Thanks Una from for the translation ?

You should've asked_001You should've asked_002You should've asked_003You should've asked_004You should've asked_005You should've asked_006You should've asked_007You should've asked_008You should've asked_009You should've asked_010

You should've asked_011

You should've asked_012You should've asked_013You should've asked_014

You should've asked_015

You should've asked_016You should've asked_017You should've asked_018You should've asked_019You should've asked_020You should've asked_021You should've asked_022You should've asked_023You should've asked_024You should've asked_025You should've asked_026You should've asked_027You should've asked_028You should've asked_029You should've asked_030You should've asked_031You should've asked_032You should've asked_033You should've asked_034You should've asked_035You should've asked_036You should've asked_037You should've asked_038You should've asked_039You should've asked_040

Beware of Free Stuff


You have the best intentions, I know this about you already but here is the thing…just because it’s free doesn’t mean you are obligated to take it.

Think about it…

conference pens,

obscure flavored tea samples that are given aways at grocery store openings,

10K t-shirts,

cosmetic freebies with the purchase of a new mascara,

taking something your friend or family is trying to get rid of…

and on and on it goes.

“Look at this! It was free!” Then a month or ten years later, that travel sewing kit still sits as clutter in your closet, because let’s face it, when are you going to repair a button on the road? Never.

Do yourself a favor and say no to begin with.

“Are you sure?” they’ll ask you.


“But it’s free!” they’ll exclaim.

“Thanks, but no thanks,” you’ll say back.

They might give you a weird look but secretly admire your resolve. Just think of it that way and take care of your future self.

The One Touch Rule

You’ve probably heard this one before, but if you haven’t it can be a game changer in making your life so much better.

Once is Enough

The rule is to touch stranded or misplaced items in your house only once. This is basically another way of saying put things away immediately (laundry, dishes, shoes, you-name-it). Now this of course assumes that you have a place to put things in the first place. That’s a given. Everything needs a home and hopefully one in which you don’t have to play a game of tetris in order to put it away.

The biggest culprit in our home? Mail and paperwork. My husband brings it in and lays it on the dining room table. I distribute the mail and walk the rest of it upstairs EVERYDAY to the office where I have an “In” file box that I put pending papers. I’ve gone paperless with what ever bills I can, that helps. Most bills have statements online if you ever need a history or a quick phone call should do the trick.

The one touch rule is one of those things that you do for your future self. Is it a pain to always put things away immediately? Yep. But it’s essential if you want a tidy space in which to live and the sanity that comes along with it.

80% is Good Enough

A couple of weeks ago, I went to one of those art and craft supply stores to replace some inserts for my Happy Planner organizer that I use. I was perfectly satisfied with my system until on the way to check out, I passed a kiosk that held a smaller version of what I already had. This stopped me in my tracks. Would I prefer the smaller size? Yes. Could I fit everything I needed into it? Probably. It might be difficult, but I could at least try. A smaller size would allow me to carry the planner around with me all the time. My current one is big and the cover keeps falling off constantly but I love the system and it works for me. But this smaller version just might work better…

But is it better?

After wasting fifteen minutes looking over, analyzing, walking up to the cash register then back to the kiosk again, I finally decided to listen to my own advice that I’d recently shared with a friend: if you have a system in place (for your grocery shopping, wardrobe, house cleaning, laundry, carpool, or whatever) that works for about 80% of the time, then call it good and stop trying to make it perfect. I could’ve spent my fifteen minutes elsewhere, on something that is not working at 80% in my life yet, like exercising. I could’ve taken my dog for a short walk in the amount of time I wasted hemming and hawing.

Stop trying so hard

How much time/money/energy are you wasting try to cover the gap from 80% to 100%? My guess is too much. Stop. Now choose an area that isn’t working, then re-dedicate that effort. For me it’s regular, consistent exercise. I may do one or two days a week but I want exercise to be more like brushing my teeth; something I just do without thinking about it too much.

It’s so easy to get wrap up in what isn’t working in your life. How about reversing the question and ask what IS working in your life? Congratulations! Give yourself a pat on the back. Those are the areas you do not need to spend more time on, savvy? Choose something that needs some TLC and start taking baby steps.

Edit Your Décor

Recently, I streamlined my décor by getting rid of two bookshelves: one in our dining room and one in our living room. My family thought I was being extreme, but each bookcase held items that remained relatively ignored; ceramics that our now-teenagers made as preschoolers, leather bound books of classic stories that I thought I would someday read out loud to my family (never happened), candlesticks, photographs, surplus vases (pick one favorite vase and if you need more, use a large mason jar), umpteen cookbooks and field journals.

One of the things I like to do is purchase new moving boxes to store things that I’m not yet ready to let go of, but want to experiment living without. A new moving box is clean, sturdy and label-less so that you can clearly write on it. They sell them at your local hardware store. All of our tchotchkies went into a box, I sold the shelves and leather books on Craigslist, then dropped off the cookbooks and field guides at our used bookstore (if you need a recipe or need to identify a bird, Google it). Not only am I experiencing more time for myself by eliminating a lot of dusting in my cleaning routine, but I no longer feel the emotional burden of by-passing décor that is outdated and overlooked. I want to have more time for exercising and eating healthy meals with my family. Not dusting tchotckies!

Try living with less stuff. Place a maximum of three items per horizontal surface. See how that looks. What décor or furniture can you edit? Give the empty space a week or two to get used to. I’ll bet you’ll love it in the long-run.

White Dishes for a Clean Slate

Do you covet seasonal Chrismas dinnerware or have fantasies about inheriting grandma’s hand-me-down-china set? I used to but not anymore. About the time I stopped decorating with seaonal throw pillows, I streamlined our dinnerware to white dishes that can be dressed up or down. I do not have to store a separate set of dishes for special occasions. Everything is dishwasher safe. This makes my life so easy.

Once, on a trip to IKEA, I used their glassware for a soda at the cafeteria and really liked the aesthetic and size. I thought it would make a great all around drinking glass. So when I got home, out went the various sized drinking glasses (juice sized for the kids, iced tea sized for me and pint sized for the hubby- it’s exhausting just writing about it!) and in came these:

GODIS 14 oz. glassware are the size between juice cups and pints. Now, anyone can empty the dishwasher, put the glasses away in the cupboard and done. No longer does anyone have to think about the small cups belonging on the lower shelf, or vice versa, or having a favorite drinking glass because they are all the same. We use them for juice, milk, iced tea, lemonade, water, beer, everything!

Same sized anything makes a beautiful aesthtic. Varying sizes of things can feels overwhelming and haphazard.

Another example: I was always disappointed when the small salad forks were the only clean ones left, because I don’t like the size of them. Who says you need two sized forks? For formal dining? For guests? I am the one living in my home and I wish it to be however I like. I don’t enjoy entertaining, so out they went. Now we only have my favorite sized fork and I love it.

Next, I am going to experiment with only one sized bowl and one sized plate for simplicity. It may be too streamlined but if it doesn’t work, I can always add them back into my life. Usually though, it makes my life so much easier and better.

What kitchen streamlining have you done that makes your life better? Share below!

Worth It/Not Worth It: Mainstays Handheld Portable Steamer

Lately, a lot of decluttering/minimalist types have been touting the benefits of a portable steamer to use in place of an iron. As I’ve been downsizing to a capsule wardrobe (more on that later), I have been particular about material. I am buying less synthetics and focusing on cotton, wool and silk. Breathable, long lasting, and remarkably easy to care for.

I don’t purchase or have a ton of garments that need ironing, but I did manage to pick up second hand silk blouse that’s been on my To Buy list for awhile. I used to be afraid of silk but it is much sturdier than you think; warm and insulating for the winter, then breezy and cooling for the summer. I always wash silk by hand in the sink and then hang to air dry in my closet. I’m not a big fan of ironing, but I’ll do it if I have to. If a steamer can replace an ironing board and iron, I’m all about that. So I bought Mainstays Handheld Portable Steamer at Walmart to try.

I do not have a before pic, but after about 7 minutes of dorking with the steamer on the silk blouse, here is the result:

After about 7 minutes of steaming
Not even.

I’m not impressed. Seven minutes was enough. I could’ve ironed it in a shorter amount of time, so my verdict is NOT WORTH IT. However, I know Jennifer Scott from The Daily Connoisseur recommends hers, so maybe it’s brand specific? Please let me know in the comments below, if you’re a fan and what type you use. I’m open to giving this another go.

Menu Planning for the Win

On my death bed, as I list out the regrets in my life, I will write “Should’ve Started Menu Planning Earlier.” I kid you not. One of the best budgeting and time saving tools is menu planning and please don’t complicate it. It takes five minutes, tops. A paper and pencil will do. Level one menu planning looks something like this:

Mon– tacos

Tues – lentil soup & bread

Wed – steak, potato, side salad

Thurs – leftovers

Fri – pizza (something easy at the end of a long week)

Sat– salmon, rice, broccoli

Sun– crockpot chili, cornbread, steamed spinach

Stick this on the refrigerator so everyone can see it and admire it for the intricate artistry.

The basic rule of thumb is to include a protein, starch and vegetable in each meal. Nowadays, the veggie is supposed to take up half the plate, the protein and starch should be palm-sized for portion control.

When you get comfortable with level one, you move to level two.

Check the weather for the week

and write it down by each day, so you’re not making creamy broccoli and cheese potato soup when it’s 95 degrees out.

Quickly scan your cupboards and refrigerator

to see what items you already have. Use them in your menu plan. lets you search a recipe by ingredient. Use the rest of the missing ingredients for your grocery list (Please tell me you’re using a grocery list to shop because otherwise I guarantee you are wasting money if you do not use a list. Also, eat first. Before you go grocery shopping, I mean. And keep your grocery list on your phone so that you always have it. Are you at information overload? Then go back to level one at the top of this blog post and stay there.).

Glance at your schedule

for the week. Your teenager has a basketball game on Wednesday? Leftovers, a made-before-the-game crockpot recipe, microwaveable frozen dinner, or fast food run it is, then!

Quickly look through those annoying grocery sale flyers

you get in the mail each week. Pork chops on sale? Mild weather forecast for Sunday? Fire up the grill!

Buy enough food for the whole week

so that you’re not having to run back to the grocery store multiple times.

Let your cupboards and pantry get bare

before grocery shopping. It’s odd looking and uncomfortable, but it’s the only way I’ve found that my family will eat whatever is left. In other words, they will not eat the carrots and celery if chips and dip are available. Savvy?

Okay, that’s probably enough. You know me, I have more info and tidbits but I’ll save those for another day. I hope this makes your life better. It has mine. Please let me know how it goes!