Sometimes without warning, life can become incredibly busy and chaotic causing stress not only on your day, but on your body as well. Using these 4 Ways to Decompress a Stressful Day will help you unwind, regroup, and regain focus.
My personal life has had it’s share of ups and downs creating times of chaos and calmness. Let’s be real here though… there’s definitely been more chaos than calm.
Since moving from Germany to the United States, I’ve found myself yearning for balance and peace in my life. Through the community of friends, colleagues, and military caregivers here in Washington, DC, I have learned so much about being mindful and the importance of self-care.
These tips are what work for me to decompress from a stressful day.
4 Ways to Decompress a Stressful Day
1: Drink Water
Do you get headaches? Feel tired all the time? Is your mouth dry and you just feel thirsty? These are all signs that you probably need more water in your life.
Since your brain is mostly water, drinking it helps you think, focus and concentrate better and be more alert. As an added bonus, your energy levels are also boosted!
I have constant headaches, but I find that drinking water helps relieve and prevent those headaches (migraines & back pains too!) which are commonly caused by dehydration. I have even gone as far as to look into something like a lower back pain chiropractor, to see if I can get any help with these pains. They can be a lot to deal with at times, so I’m sure this will make all the difference. My back pain affects my life in many different ways. I had to contact a lawyers like Aston Knight Solicitors in Bury to make sure I got the correct compensation for my personal injury. It’s all sorted out now though and I’m so glad!! There also those that look for phenibut HCL for sale as it could also help give stress relief.
Tips for Incorporating Water into Your Day
Instead of your second cup of coffee in the morning – fill your favorite water bottle and sip on that.
Speaking of favorite water bottles, mine is my teal Camelbak. Go to Target, Walmart or wherever and pick out a bottle, glass, cup that you love and will enjoy drinking from!
If you have the taste of water, try adding lemon or other citrus wedges to it for flavor. Not only will your water taste good, but the lemon aids in digestion.
Stop bringing the sugary drinks into the home or workplace. If you only have water to choose from, you’re more likely to drink it.
2: Practice Mindfulness & Meditation
In 2016, I was introduced to mindfulness for the first time by my husband who was in therapy for his PTSD at Fort Belvoir. The concept was instantly intriguing to me but I didn’t immediately do anything to learn more about it until I was a Fellow in the Dog Tag, Inc. Fellowship Program.
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
In a mindful state your mind is fully attending to what’s happening, to what you’re doing, and to the space you’re moving through. Too often our minds veer from the moment and what we’re trying to accomplish and our mind takes flight.
We lose touch with our body, and pretty soon we’re engrossed in obsessive thoughts about something else and in turn those new thoughts tend to distract us and make us anxious.
Mindfulness can be practiced by simply incorporating a few proven techniques into every day life. When we meditate it doesn’t help to fixate on the benefits, but rather to just do the practice, and yet there are benefits or no one would do it.
When we’re mindful, we reduce stress, enhance performance, gain insight and awareness through observing our own mind, and increase our attention to others’ well-being.
Mindful meditation gives us a time in our lives when we can suspend judgment and unleash our natural curiosity about the workings of the mind, approaching our experience with warmth and kindness—to ourselves and others.
As I find myself being stressed during my day, I take 5 minutes to breathe and become centered by practicing minute mindful meditation.
5 Minute Mindful Meditation
Find a relaxed, comfortable position. You could be seated on a chair or on the floor on a cushion. Keep your back upright, but not too tight. Hands resting wherever they’re comfortable. Tongue on the roof of your mouth or wherever it’s comfortable.
Notice and relax your body. Try to notice the shape of your body, its weight. Let yourself relax and become curious about your body seated here—the sensations it experiences, the touch, the connection with the floor or the chair. Relax any areas of tightness or tension. Just breathe.
Tune into your breath. Feel the natural flow of breath—in, out. You don’t need to do anything to your breath. Not long, not short, just natural. Notice where you feel your breath in your body. It might be in your abdomen. It may be in your chest or throat or in your nostrils. See if you can feel the sensations of breath, one breath at a time. When one breath ends, the next breath begins.
Be kind to your wandering mind. Now as you do this, you might notice that your mind may start to wander. You may start thinking about other things. If this happens, it is not a problem. It’s very natural. Just notice that your mind has wandered. You can say “thinking” or “wandering” in your head softly. And then gently redirect your attention right back to the breathing.
Stay here for five to seven minutes. Notice your breath, in silence. From time to time, you’ll get lost in thought, then return to your breath.
Check in before you check out. After a few minutes, once again notice your body, your whole body, seated here. Let yourself relax even more deeply and then offer yourself some appreciation for doing this practice today.
I sit at a desk most days for several hours at a time and find myself hunched over with my shoulders rounded in toward my chest. Constantly, I’m reminding myself to sit tall and roll my shoulders back, however the pain and discomfort I feel in my neck, chest and shoulders is undeniable after sitting at my desk.
Last year, I went to a holistic physical therapist, Megan Anderson, for my back and neck pain along with headaches. She explained to me that the muscles in my chest were constricting, pulling tighter as I sat hunched at my desk.
To alleviate the pain associated with this, Megan my pain was to stretch my pectoral muscles at least once day.
How to Stretch your Pectoral Muscles
Find a 90 degree corner wall in your work space or home.
Stand about a foot away from the wall with one foot forward and one back and gently bend your front knee.
Lift both arms so they are shoulder height and bend your elbows at a 90 degree angle.
Place your hands into the wall in front of you – one hand on each wall – and press your body forward. Keep your chin/head up. You should feel the stretch in your pectoral muscle. Hold this for 10-20 seconds.
Switch positions of your feet and repeat the stretch.
You can change the position of your hands up or down or how much you press into the stretch depending on what feels good for you body.
*I am not an expert physical therapist. This is just what has worked for me to ease stress. Please consult your doctor for a routine that’s right for you.
4: Practice Yoga
If you would have asked me 3 years ago if I ever saw myself practicing yoga, I would have laughed at you. However, having witnessed the benefits personally I am a believer in the benefits and power of yoga today!
The benefits of yoga provide both instant gratification and lasting transformation. The practice of yoga will allow you to find stillness, peace and tranquility as well as helping to relieve stress and declutter the mind, allowing you to become more focused.
The benefits of yoga aren’t limited to the mind, in fact the physical benefits of yoga have drastically changed my life for the better.
Physical Health Benefits of Yoga
Tones the Body
Decreases Chronic Pain
I have struggled with lower back pain my entire life with little help from my primary care doctors at my family clinic. My local USO was holding free yoga classes and I decided to attend several.
It changed my life so much that the USO asked me to film a video for them about my experience with yoga at their center.
After that first yoga practice at the USO, my body had never felt that amazing before. My muscles and joints stretched and moved, cracked and made noise that sounded like I was falling apart. However that couldn’t be further from the truth… my body was healing and growing strong.
After a quick search online, I found Yoga with Adreiene… a YouTube channel with hundreds of videos that tackled issues in every part of the body. Adriene’s approach to teaching the practice of yoga makes it feel as though she’s in the room with you, reading your mind and saying the exact right thing and the exact right time.
My favorite videos with Adriene for back pain are:
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SamsungUnlocked #CollectiveBias
Recently, I hosted a Smartphone Photography Workshop for a small event planning firm in the DC area. While getting ready to host this workshop, I realized a few things about my process of taking and editing photos that I thought would be really fun to share with my fellow foodies!
Not only are these smartphone photography workflow tips great for event planners, but they are excellent for foodies, bloggers, and entrepreneurs!
Before I can take amazing photos, I must have the best tools for the job. Although any smartphone can take photos, starting with a phone like an unlocked Samsung Galaxy GS8 will guarantee quality photos every time!
I’ve been a Samsung Galaxy user since the S5, my daughter has the S6 and my husband is chomping at the bit to get his hands on the new Note 8. So yeah, when Samsung asked if I wanted a GS8 use and write about I said absolutely yes!
Purchasing an unlocked GS8 was so easy on the Walmart website. I was so excited that I could buy the GS8 online unlocked because you can choose your carrier, data plan, services, features and apps, so you can get your phone exactly the way you want it! ¹
Here’s what I love most about the GS8…
The Infinity Screen: The GS8 display stretches from edge to edge meaning there is no wasted space on your screen.
Water Resistance: This is my favorite thing about the GS8 because I know that no matter rain, a spill, or drop… my phone will be protected from water!
Micro SD Card: I take a TON of pictures so being able to expand my storage up to 256GB with a microSD makes all the difference. MicroSD card sold separately.
Smartphone Photography Workflow
Taking photos for social media is a part of my job as a blogger. Over the years with changing technology it’s gotten easier to take the best possible photos using my smartphone. Following along with my Smartphone Photography Workflow and you’ll be on your way to amazing photos!
1: Take your Time; Set up the Shot
If you only have a moment to snap a photo, use the most of that time by thinking about composition and lighting before you snap the photo. Taking the time to do that, will make sure you produce photos worthy of being the industry standard.
2: Clear the Clutter
Is there food spilled on the table? What is in the background – is there an ugly trash can or an eye sore? Clear all the unnecessary out of the frame before you take the photo.
3: Horizontal or Vertical?
Horizontal images are best used when:
When the subject is horizontal
When your subject is wider than it is tall, a horizontal image compliments the subject.
To convey a sense of space
Horizontal images can be used to suggest a sense of largeness in landscapes. If a small subject is placed in a large field, it can also be used to suggest loneliness. Vertical images are best used when:
When the subject is vertical
When your subject is taller than it is wide, a vertical image compliments the subject.
To focus attention
Vertical images can be used to focus a viewer’s attention on a single subject by removing almost all sense of peripheral vision. This is the theory behind portraits and other single-object compositions and can be combined with either the rule of thirds or centering to intensify impact.If you are unsure, take the photo both ways
4: Get Close and Fill the Viewfinder
Details, details, details – always take shots of the small things! Sometimes when you try to capture the big, all-encompassing picture you miss out on a really great photo.
When you’re too far away from your subject, you get a tiny, unrecognizable figure and far too much background. Instead, make sure you get close and fill the viewfinder. Avoid zoom, which can cut the image quality.
5: Take Photos with Native Camera
There are a lot of editing apps out there that will enable you to fine tune your photos. However, I’ve found that with the Samsung S8, the photos are already such high quality using the native camera that I have found myself only using the editing tools in the Instagram app.
6: Edit Photos
The GS8 comes with some great photos editing tools. However, I really loving that I can download any app I want with this smartphone and use that to edit.
100% of the time, I use the tools in the Instagram app to edit my photos. The tools are easy to use and pretty straight forward.
My Instagram Editing Workflow:
Brightness: Brighten up a dark image and darken an image that is too bright.
Contrast: When turned up, it exaggerates the dark and light in an image, and softens them when turned down. I use this when I have black/dark areas I really want to pop.
Saturation: Increasing this adds strength/intensity to the colors in your image, and vice versa.
Warmth: Turning this up brings out “warm” colors (oranges, red, and yellows, generally); turning it down brings out “cool” colors (like blues, purples, and greens). I typically use this tool when there is too much light come a bulb and it makes my photo yellow.
Highlights: Adjusting this will affect all of the brightest parts of your image — bumping it up will make the brightest parts of your image even more vibrant, and moving it down will bring down the brightness in those sections to reveal more detail in them that may have been washed out by excessive light. This can be a huge help if a particular section of your image is blown out by a too-bright light source or the sun.
Shadows: This does essentially the same thing as Highlights, but for the dark areas of an image. So turn it up to see what’s hiding in the shadows, or turn it down to darken.
Sharpen: Turning this up focuses and clarifies your image and makes everything a little crisper.
7: Share on Social Media
Finally, share your perfect photo on social media! Since I use the Instagram app to edit, I typically share there first then to the other platforms. Here’s my final shot!
¹ Wireless voice, data and messaging services on Samsung Unlocked Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+, Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge devices are compatible with most major U.S. GSM and CDMA networks. For these devices, wireless services are available on GSM networks such as AT&T and T-Mobile and CDMA networks such as Verizon, Sprint, and US Cellular®. Visit www.samsung.com for more information on your device. Support for certain features and services such as VoWiFi and hotspot, vary by wireless service provider. Wireless voice, data and messaging services on Samsung Unlocked Galaxy S6 and Galaxy J3 devices are compatible with most major U.S. GSM networks. For these devices, wireless services are available on GSM networks such as AT&T and T-Mobile. Visit www.samsung.com for more information on your device. Support for certain features and services such as VoWiFi and hotspot, vary by wireless service provider.
SIM card must be compatible with area’s available networks. International calling, data services and coverage vary by network provider. Contact provider for details.
.² This Samsung Unlocked phone will work on any GSM or CDMA compatible network. For these devices, wireless services are available on GSM networks such as AT&T and T-Mobile and CDMA networks such as Verizon, Sprint, US Cellular®. Support for certain rate plans, features, and services such as VoWiFi and hotspot vary by wireless service provider. SIM card must be compatible with area’s available networks. International calling, data services and coverage vary by network provider. Contact provider for details.
³ For more information on Samsung standard U.S. limited warranty, go to samsung.com/customersupport/xxx
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #EnterTheWonderVault #CollectiveBias
Friends, I’m so excited for this post because it’s sponsored by two of my favorite brands, OREO and Kroger!
Best Friends Movie Night
Hosting a Best Friends Movie Night doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking. It’s really simple and doesn’t have to cost a fortune! My friend invited me to her house for a movie night and it was amazing! She told me to check out Home Cinema installation in London to get a home cinema installed and it looks great. Follow these guidelines and enjoy a Best Friends Movie Night of your own!
Call your best friend and invite her over!
Go shopping for snacks! One of my favorite stores to shop at is Kroger. There are things in Kroger that I just can’t find anywhere else… which is seriously why I love it so much! One of my favorite snacks is anything OREO! At Kroger, you can find all your favorite OREO products on cookie aisle!
For this Movie Night, I decided on two of my favorite flavors, OREO Red Velvet and OREO Birthday Cake, which I bought at the Kroger in Richmond, VA. Life wouldn’t be as “Wonderfilled” without OREO sandwich cookies. #EnterTheWonderVault However there are a variety of Wonder Vault OREO sandwich cookies to choose from including: Red Velvet 12.2 oz Cinnamon Bun 12.2 oz Birthday Cake 15.25 oz Salted Caramel 10.1oz (available 6/17/17) Find your local Kroger/Kroger Family of Stores to get your OREO sandwich cookies here!
Set Up for Movie Night I love getting things ready for parties and events. Making it all pretty is one of my favorite things.
I kept it simple for this movie night. I placed a few rows of OREO sandwich cookies on a platter, grabbed a bowl of popcorn and a pretzels, and two glasses of milk.A few fun napkins, blankets, pillows and our favorite movie is all that was left to get ready!
Enjoy! Now is the fun part! Get under those blankets, put the movie on and have fun!Whether your favorite way to eat an OREO is to dunk it or twist it, OREO sandwich cookies make the perfect snack for movie night!My favorite is dunking!! I love how soft the OREO gets when it’s soaked in milk. So yum!My second favorite way to eat an OREO… in a cupcake! (Did I mention that I have a recipe for OREO Red Velvet cupcakes? Of course I do!)
Buy One, Get One
Buy one Wonder Vault flavor OREO and get a free MILKA OREO Chocolate Candy Bar at Kroger grocers; offer valid 6/14 – 6/20.
In-store Kroger demos happening 6/15-6/18. Demos will present Kroger-exclusive recipes, information on the newest OREO flavors, Limited Edition varieties, the new MILKA OREO Chocolate Candy Bar, fun facts about the history of OREO and Kroger, and much, much more.
And let me tell you why I’m excited about this BOGO offer! MILKA is one of Europe’s leading chocolate brands, made with milk from the European Alps and the finest cocoa bans. The ALPS!!!!
Crunchy bits of OREO + Crème Filling + Rich MILKA Chocolate Candy… you can’t go wrong with this combo!
I lived in Bavaria for 5 years and grew to love all things MILKA! Seriously, I am so excited about this BOGO offer!!!!
So head over to Kroger, grab your favorite OREO sandwich cookies (don’t forget the BOGO MILKA OREO Chocolate Candy Bar) and enjoy a Best Friends Movie Night!
Do you dread dicing onions? Does it drive you nuts when you can’t make small, even little squares? I’ve got the perfect video tutorial for you to help you with that… “How to Dice an Onion”!
I’m baaaaaaaaaack! Well, sorta. Back in August while in the Dog Tag, Inc. Fellowship Program, I had a 5 week rotation in the kitchen of the Dog Tag Bakery learning from the Executive Pastry Chef Rebecca Clerget and her amazing staff. One afternoon, we had the privilege of learning basic knife skills from “Kitchen” Kyle Wronsky, head of the savory menu at Dog Tag Bakery.
Kyle taught us how to dice an onion in a way that I had never seen before and my mind was blown! His technique, which I am sure is only new to me, was not only simple, but it created a small, uniform dice of the onion.
I knew I had to turn it into a video tutorial so I could share this with all of you!
How to Dice an Onion with “Kitchen” Kyle Wronsky
Prepare Your Work Surface: Place a wet cloth flat under your cutting board. This will ensure that your board does not slide around while you are dicing the onion.
Sharpen and Hone Your Knife: Not only must you start with a sharp knife, but you must keep your knife sharp. Hone your knife before & after each use to keep it sharp.
Trim the Gangly Bits: Trim the extra gangly bits off the root of the onion, making sure to keep the root in tact.
Cut the Top Flat: The opposite end from the root, slice off the top creating a flat surface to set the onion on.
Slice the Onion in half: Cutting through the root, slice the onion in half.
Make Horizontal Cuts: Cutting 80% through the onion making sure not to penetrate the root, make horizontal slices about 1/4″ apart starting at the bottom and moving to the top.
Make Vertical Cuts: Again, cutting 80% through the onion making sure not to penetrate the root, turn the onion 45 degrees and make vertical slices about 1/4″ apart. Start at one side and move to the other.
Make Vertical Cuts again: This cut creates the dice. Turn the onion 45 degrees again, and make vertical cuts 1/4″ apart creating an even dice of the onion.
Repeat: Repeat this process with the other half of your onion!
Big THANK YOU goes to Rebecca of Dog Tag Bakery for allowing us to use her kitchen to shoot this video! Bigger thanks to “Kitchen Kyle” for sharing his skills!
Your favorite vanilla cake layered with fresh blueberry compote and topped with buttercream make this Blueberries and Cream Layer Cake the perfect cake for any occasion!
My friends who work at the USO Warrior & Family Center at Fort Belvoir asked if I would make a baby shower cake for one of the women I absolutely had to say yes!
Casey gave me free range to make whatever I wanted for Ranna’s cake since she had seen what I had created for them in the past. I was super excited to make something really special for them!
I decided to go with my favorite box cake mix for vanilla cake. Don’t hate me, but I do not have an amazing vanilla cake recipe yet that works out perfectly every time I bake it. So, that means that I go with a super moist box mix.
However, I find that when I pair a box cake mix with a delicious homemade fruit compote and freshly whipped buttercream… no one can tell it’s from a box!
The inside is filled with a deliciously sweet and slightly tart homemade chunky blueberry compote. I chose the blueberry because Ranna is having a sweet baby boy and I wanted the entire cake to be on theme!
I used my favorite whipped buttercream tinted in a beautiful shade of blue and topped it all with a sprinkling of white jimmies!
Did you notice those adorable fluted edges on the cake? I used a fun scalloped edge cake pan I found at Home Goods. Check out the video below for a description of the pan and to see step by step how I filled and frosted the cake!
Blueberries & Cream Layer Cake
Yield: 12-14 servings
Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours12 minutes
1 box of your favorite yellow/white cake mix + the ingredients to make it
Scalloped edge cake pans
2-3 cups fresh blueberries
zest of 1/2 a lemon
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp corn starch
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1lb powdered sugar, sifted
1/4-1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
blue/teal/aqua gel food coloring
Follow the directions on the box of cake mix to prepare batter. Grease and flour the cake pan.
Divide the batter evenly by weight into 4 parts. Bake each part at the temperature listed on the box for 7-15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center.
In a large pan, combine the butter, sugar, lemon zest, juice and berries over medium high heat.
Once the sugar and butter have melted, begin mashing the blueberries until about half of them are in pieces. You want this to be chunky so don't over mash the berries.
Cook for 5-10 minutes over medium heat. The mixture should be gently bubbling but not boiling. Stir frequently.
Sprinkle the corn starch over the mixture and mix until completely incorporated and no chunks remain. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely. The mixture will solidify and shouldn't be runny when cool.
Mix the butter, sugar, vanilla and 1/4 cup of cream together until smooth.
Add up to 1/4 cup more cream to reach your desired consistency.
Mix in the fool coloring until you have the color you want.
Beat the frosting on high for 3-5 minutes or until light and fluffy.
Place first layer of cake onto a cake place/stand.
Fill a piping bag fitted with a Wilton 1M piping tip with frosting and pipe a layer of frosting onto the outside edge of the top of the cake.
Fill the inside of cake with a layer of blueberry filling.
Place another layer of cake on top, making sure to line up the scallops line up.
When you get to the top layer, spread a thin layer of frosting on top just to the edge. Don't worry about getting it all the way to the edges because you're going to cover with the piping bag frosting. Make sure the frosting is smooth and flat.
Pipe a pretty scalloped edge of frosting onto the outside top of the cake.
Sprinkle white jimmes over the top of the frosting.
Cut and slice and enjoy!
Make sure to watch the video above to see how I filled and frosted this cake!