It’s probably not too surprising that I’m a big believer of self-care. I try to prioritize time to take care of myself, both by exercising consistently and by cooking most meals at home. But there are other ways to take care of oneself. Finding time to yourself, whether it’s taking a walk, treating yourself to a solo cup of coffee, unwinding with a glass of wine, face mask and a soak in the tub, it’s important to have alone time that includes doing something you want to do, something that will make you feel better and be better to others.
I found one such option last week at Chill Chicago, which is a meditation studio. Meditation is something I enjoy, but have done infrequently, mostly because I find it difficult to decompress and quite honestly, meditating just falls low on my list of priorities. But I recently decided it was time to make time for it, at least occasionally. I found Chill Chicago and decided it was the perfect place to try it because of their class selections. They offer various types of meditation classes, designed specifically for different needs, such as “breath” or “insight,” and most are only a half hour, so it’s a good way to ease into the practice. What sealed the deal for me was the mixed yoga and meditation class, which was 30 minutes of a gentle yoga, with poses designed to open up the body and make it more comfortable for the subsequent 30 minutes of meditation. The practice went by surprisingly quickly, and helped to both calm me down and give me some clarity. It was the perfect way to end a very hectic week and I’m already planning a return visit!
When it comes to eating out, it’s all too easy to fall into a routine. It’s inevitable to develop favorite places to order from or to have the neighborhood go-tos for a Friday date night, While it’s great to have favorites, sometimes it can also feel like you’re in a rut. So as a New Year’s resolution, I decided to explore more restaurants. I did some research and made a list of places that seemed both unique and slightly different from the usual spots my husband and I frequent. That’s how we ended up at Boka, which was one of the most creative dining experiences, in both cuisine and ambience, that I’ve ever had.
Falling into a rut can also easily happen with our style too. We have our favorite pieces, which we reach for time and time again, and sometimes the rest of our closet goes unused. For this date night, I decided to dress it up and go outside the box from my usual “going out” look. I opted for one of my favorite pajama style tops, which is perfect for easily dressing up an outfit in a simple way, and paired it with some of my favorite wide leg pants. Throwing on some metallic heels gave the outfit an unexpected punch, which was perfect for one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten.
How will you spice up your palate and your wardrobe for your next night out?
Fashion note: I’m wearing a Topshop top (similar here), J.Crew pants (similar here), a Zara faux fur jacket (similar here) and Banana Republic heels (similar here).
What got me through the week and what I’m looking forward to this weekend!
Is it spring yet? Sadly, it’s not, and many of us are still battling the winter elements, but hopefully that won’t be the case for long. This was a long and eventful week, but not in a bad way. I’m looking forward to a trip to the farmer’s market, brunch and some much needed errands this weekend. Enjoy it!
Oscars best dressed: My favorite event of the year took place this last weekend, the Oscars. While Shape of Water may have taken home the award for Best Picture (Ladybird was my favorite), the award for best dressed goes to others. My fave? Margot Robbie.
Sharecuterie box: It’s no secret I love cheese so, naturally, I appreciate a charcuterie board. But since I don’t eat much meat, my at home boards mostly consist of just cheese, even though I know my husband secretly wishes for more carnivorous options. I stumbled upon this subscription service on Instagram and decided to purchase a box as a gift for my husband. The boxes can be delivered once as a gift or in multiple month shipments and they contain 3 meats, 2-3 cheeses and a selection of other items such as nuts and jams to complete your board, making it suitable to share between 4-6 people (or two if you’re hungry!). It’s a perfect gift and the perfect entertaining option. I’m looking forward to breaking into our latest box tonight!
Goop Podcast: Alright, I’ll admit it: I am an avid Gwyneth Paltrow fan. As a result, I’m also a Goop follower. I personally love to reference the site for everything from healthy eating tips, to wellness rituals and city guides. Yesterday, Goop launched its first weekly podcast and the first guest was Oprah. So, yeah, do yourself a favor and subscribe!
Coco: I’d heard a lot of great things about this latest Disney/Pixar movie and had it on my watch list for awhile. This week, after taking home an Oscar and having my sister-in-law make yet another recommendation to watch it, I did just that. Spoiler alert: you will very likely shed a tear (or 100 tears if you’re me) but you will appreciate the sentiment and enjoy every minute of this movie, which is definitely not just for kids. Disney gets it right again.
Salmon is one of my favorite foods. It’s tasty, healthy, pairs well with so much, and is pretty easy to cook. Yet, because I make it so often, it runs the risk of getting boring quickly (popping two filets in the oven with a little olive oil is a weeknight go-to for me), so I like to keep my eyes open for new ways to cook the fish. That’s where the “Dining In”cookbook, and specifically this slow roasted salmon recipe, changed things up. This cookbook, which I received as a Christmas present, has been seen all over Instagram thanks to so many readers tagging all the delectable Insta-worthy dishes. I noticed so many people making this dish and it encouraged me to choose it as one of the first recipes to test from the book and I’m so glad I did! It’s easy to assemble and requires very little prep work. The pairings of herbs and citrus, which I rarely cook with but make such a flavorful impact, combined with the bath of olive oil and low heat roasting method, result in the most delicious and tenderest piece of fish. You’ll never want to cook salmon any other way again! I paired it with my own attempt at recreating a dish I recently had at a phenomenal restaurant during Chicago restaurant week- roasted beets with whipped avocado. My recipe is below if you’re looking for a new spin on fish and veggies. Feeling curious? Roasted beets with avocado: 4-6 beets, cleaned, roasted and sliced 1 avocado 1/8 cup peanuts 2 oz shredded or thinly sliced cheddar Arrange sliced beets on a large platter, leaving some space between pieces. Whip the avocado. Scoop the flesh out and place into a food processor, pulsing until smooth. Scoop out the whipped avocado and dollop around and on top of the beets, filling in the space between beets. Sprinkle with peanuts and cheddar. If serving later, wrap with plastic and chill, brining to room temperature before serving or serve immediately.
When the weather starts to get slightly warmer and you’re no longer forced to venture out in layer upon layer of clothes just to take a yoga class, there’s an opportunity to have a bit more style with the clothes you workout in. I’ve never been a big fan of wearing activewear or athletic wear for anything other than fitness or lounging at home but sometimes you find yourself doing numerous activities after you’ve finished a class, and before you know it, you’re running around for hours in the same clothes. This is even more often the case when it’s warm out and spontaneous brunches or other activities occur. No one wants to forfeit a Sunday stroll or coffee date because to go home and get changed, so you might as well look cute for the occasion, right? I used to gravitate toward vibrant workout clothes that sometimes made me look like an Olympic skier, and while I still appreciate al fun legging, I now tend to stick with simple designs in neutral colors. I’ve found the idea of “less is more” to be relevant for my activewear clothes as well and keeping my outfits simple automatically enables them to be worn for more occasions without looking like I just ran a marathon. Plus, a neutral palette allows you to mix and match pieces with more versatility, including with some items in your closet that might not technically be activewear.
Here are my favorite workout items that will serve you well beyond the gym:
Bomber jacket: a good bomber jacket will serve you well! It can be worn with boyfriend jeans and a tee, over a simple dress as a layering piece, and even over your gym clothes to dress up an outfit without trying too hard.
Colorblocked leggings: I haven’t been shy about my love for Outdoor Voices but their leggings, especially the colorblocked versions, are probably one of the best options for “doing things” whether that be a yoga class or a walk with friends or a stroll through the park. No matter what you’re doing, the design of these leggings will help deal with sweat while also flattering your figure. The colors are also simple, often in a monotone or complimentary two-tone design, and are a great way to inject some fun into your workout and post-workout outfit.
Adidas leggings: Yes, it seems like everyone’s jumping on the old school fitness brands, but I am a fan of classic Adidas leggings. They’re slim and soft enough to get you through a lower intensity workout and still be comfortable to lounge or hang out in afterward. The classic logo at the bottom of the leg is noticeable, yet simultaneously subtle in the black/white combo and with no other design on the rest of the leggings.
White converse: A good white sneaker can do so much for your closet, pairing with elevated items like wide leg trousers and mini dresses, just as well as it does with leather leggings and jeans. And since sneakers are meant for activity, there’s no better place to wear them then to and from a workout. A classic white pair keeps an outfit looking polished and pulled together and can add a pop of brightness (if they’re not too dirty).
A good tote bag: I have a clunky gym bag just like most people and often times I feel like a bag lady, weighed down by yoga mats and duffle bags. This Everlane tote has become a favorite for the office and I’ve also started taking it with me to weekend workouts, when I want a polished option to carry while I run errands afterward. The large pocket on the outside can hold a water bottle and other items, leaving more room on the inside for the items you want to hide (hello, yoga towel!).
While all my East Coast friends and family sent me dozens of reminders about the brief blast of true spring weather they received last week (70+ degrees in February!), I continued to battle the midwest’s snow, rain and ice. However, I was able to appreciate the very brief but enjoyable early spring weather we Chicagoans were treated to a few weekends back. The weather was barely 50 degrees and sunny, but that practically feels like Aruba after months of snow and frigid temps. I didn’t miss the opportunity to shed some layers, take a long neighborhood stroll and enjoy the spring preview! Here’s to warmer temps and longer days in the near future!
Normally on Wednesdays I focus on writing about fitness and/or wellness, but today I’m doing things a little differently. Since today is Valentine’s Day, I figured I’d switch gears and focus on the things that I love that help me love more. Most of these are health or wellness focused, but some are simply things that give me joy. The inspiration for this post came from a barre class I attended this morning. The instructor discussed how important it is to come to class, not just to work out, but to make time for ourselves and to give ourselves some attention and love. On a day that’s focused on loving others, why not also throw a little appreciation inward? After all, if we can’t express love for ourselves, we’ll have a hard time sharing it with others. So today, show some love for those around you, but don’t forget to do the same for yourself! Happy Valentine’s Day!
Cooking: One of the things that truly brings me joy is the ability to feed and nourish myself and my loved ones. I believe there are few things more intimate than preparing and sharing a meal with others. The thought and effort that goes into the preparation is a labor of love, but the act of breaking bread with your loved ones is just as special. Some of my favorite cookbooks, which also happen to focus on love (love for spouse, parent and food itself) are Cooking for Jeffrey, My Father’s Daughter and Cravings.
Yoga: Finding time to exercise is extremely important to me and is something I genuinely enjoy. I give myself an hour almost every day to exercise in some form, but my true love is yoga. I love this practice because it’s both challenging and rewarding, a reminder that nothing worth having comes easy and that you can reap all the benefits of hard work. Yoga also allows me to push myself physically while clearing my mind and is a constant reminder that every day is different, but it’s always important to show myself compassion.
Dressing to impress: It might sound superficial but appearance is important to me. Sure, I enjoy lounging in sweatpants just as much as anyone else, but I’m also a firm believer that you get what you give, and that goes for how you dress. If you want to feel good about yourself, you need to look the part. I make time at the beginning of each week to determine what I’ll wear each day, making adjustments depending on the day’s plans and weather, so that I can ensure I have no excuse not to look my best. This small act makes a big difference and helps me look and feel my best every day. And sometimes, on days you’re feeling particularly down or lazy, there’s nothing better than to throw on a great dress and a pair of heels and hit the town. It will transform your mood.
Me time: Some people may think it’s weird and others may completely understand, but I need time to myself to function. It’s part of why I always carve exercise time into my schedule, but since that’s such a part of my normal routine, I also try to find occasional time to do things on my own. Whether it’s seeing a movie by myself, running out for a solo weekday lunch or simply running some weekend errands on my own, taking a little time to do things independently has always been necessary for me and makes me appreciate my time with others more.
Ladies time: As I get older, especially with my closest friends living in completely different states, finding time with my friends is a rarer occasion than I’d like it to be. Still, I try to prioritize it as much as possible. If I’m home for a holiday, than I try to plan time with my high school friends in advance. If there’s a wedding or special occasion taking me to a city where one of my friend’s lives, I plan an extra visit with them. If we’re lucky, sometimes we can plan a whole weekend together, and other times we have to rely on the normal group chats, but regardless, their presence makes a huge difference in my attitude.
Family time: Similar to finding time with my girl friends, time with my family can be difficult to schedule. Sure, the holidays are typically a guarantee, but since my husband’s family and my family live away from us- and in different areas- we often have to split holidays and they can feel rushed and overscheduled. As difficult as it sometimes is, I try to plan an occasional solo trip to see my family, or if they come to see me, I carve out some time during their visit for us to spend together, without anyone else. It’s not that my husband and family don’t like each other (quite the opposite!) but it’s important for me to have some moments together to just simply be with each other.
Fun time with my husband: Since I’m married and my husband and I have been together and lived together awhile, it might seem like a no-brainer that we spend time together. However, there’s a difference between spending normal, everyday time together, which is great, and making time to spend special, quality time together, which is equally important. There are everyday occasions that we always try and share, like eating dinner together and getting groceries together. These are routine and seemingly insignificant, but they’re actually important to our relationship. They give us a consistent time together to unwind or to accomplish some annoying tasks together as a couple. But making time to do something fun and different together is also crucial. After years of being together, it’s important to still plan dates, whether it’s a weeknight change-up of going out for dinner or a spontaneous Sunday afternoon trip to the movies or a Saturday night at a fancy, new restaurant, it doesn’t matter what we do, it just matters we do it. We try and plan some things in advance to ensure that no matter how busy we get, we’re always making special time for each other.