Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Taking Action! Building a Routine to Crush Your Stress and Get Your Body Into Balance

So...like many of you (hopefully ALL of you) hubby and I are doing the quarantine/social distancing thing. 

 Social Distancing Corona Covid-19 - Free photo on Pixabay

We are working from home, sharing space and internet bandwidth, and trying to figure out how to make this "always at home" thing work. 

After the first couple of weeks, I began to notice that my work/play lines got blurred, my late afternoon snacks led to me eating WAY later at night, and that led me to going to bed later, which led to me getting up later the next morning.  And then getting up later the next morning made me feel stressed that I didn't have enough time in the day to get everything done. I started feeling really off kilter.  And grumpy.  I knew I had to do something about it. 

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So for those of you who know me, you know I like to experiment.  I do a lot of health experiments on myself. I do some research and then try something out. It's kinda fun to learn about your body and what works for you and what doesn't.

At this point, I figured the most important thing would be to get back into a good sleep cycle and I had remembered that there was a chart in TCM that had recommended hours for sleeping/waking according to the rhythms of our body.   

BTW, did you know your body has a rhythm?  You probably know a bit about the Circadian Rhythm, but did you know that many systems in your body follow rhythms that are responsible for your overall health?  Your brain, your adrenals/hormones, your gut...they all have times when they are supposed to be active, times when they should be restful, and times when they are washed/rejuvenated/detoxified.   

So I thought back to a TCM chart I had seen.  I remembered that it showed how the Meridians (Energy Channels) and Organ Systems in the body correspond to particular times of the day/night.  Here's an example of the chart:

This chart was borrowed from a website that had great examples of
how symptoms can be decoded using this TCM Body Clock.  You can
find it here
Pretty neat, huh?  

So my thought was, create a routine at least loosely based around the TCM Body Clock (which corresponds closely with the Western Med perspective of when your brain, gut, and hormones should be active/inactive) and go from there.

So this is my experiment. 

I made a schedule--I wrote in when I would get up, when I would eat, when I would work, when I would work out, and when I would relax...and wrote specific tasks for each section.  This way my sleep schedule and eating schedule would get back on track, and there would be a clear line between work hours and play hours.  ('Cuz when you work from home and you don't write in your "play hours" ALL hours become work hours...OR you feel guilty when you take "time off"...and who needs guilt right now?  No one.).   

My plan is to have basically the same schedule Mon-Fri and then make the weekend different by making work time into other tasks--planting, organizing, going for walks, playing games, playing an instrument, doing art, doing laundry, meal prepping, exercising, socializing via zoom...whatever! 

So here's a rough WEEKDAY schedule (which then becomes a detailed schedule--I DO write in my work tasks, exactly what my workout will be, and what my "relax" or "fun" tasks will be).

6:00 AM     Wake up, Drink warm lemon water, Workout/Meditate
7:15 AM:    Shower, Feed/Walk Dog, Eat Breakfast, Tidy the Kitchen
9:00 AM:    Work (I would list each task here! Water breaks as needed!)
12:00 PM:   Lunch Break, Walk the Dog (if needed)
1:00 PM:    Work (Tasks go here!  Don't forget!  More water/herbal tea at 3:00!)
5:00 PM:    Make Dinner, Feed/Walk the Dog, Eat dinner, light exercise (probably just a                       little walk), clean kitchen
7-9  PM:     Relaxation/Fun Time!  (Write in what that means, or else you're likely to do                     more work!)
9:45 PM:    Bedtime Routine (Write in what calms you down!)
10-11 PM:  Go to BED!

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That's it! I've only been doing the schedule for two days.  So far, so good.  I feel less stressed, for sure...mostly because routines make things feel "normal" and lately, as you know, life has been far from "normal" for most of us.  So routines are good.  Also, I am happy getting up earlier as it makes me much more productive.  And being productive makes me feel good.  And when I feel good, I'm much less grumpy.  So again, so far, so good!  

I will keep you updated!

Let me know if YOU try a routine/schedule!  I'd love to hear your observations too!

Sending hugs!

A little advice...if you decide to create a schedule/routine, please don't beat yourself up if your schedule gets thrown off.  Life happens!  We do the best we can with the time we have!  If things get goofed up a little, it's ok!  Tomorrow is a new day!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Breakfast Balls! Nutritious and Delicious!

OK, so I'm calling these "Breakfast Balls" cuz they're made with oatmeal, but I kinda eat them in place of sweets like cookies (because they're better for you than most cookies...you can click on the ingredient links to see the health benefits).  

These are easy to make (you don't even need to turn on your oven), they taste yummy, and you can store them in your freezer and have them on hand for...whenever!

Breakfast Balls!


  • 1 Cup Organic Gluten Free Rolled Oats 
  • 1/2 Cup Organic Flaxseed Meal (I used store bought cuz I was lazy, but for better nutritional value, grind your own from seeds!)
  • 1/2 Cup Creamy Organic Almond Butter
  • 3 T Honey (Raw, Organic, and Local Preferred!)
  • 1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
  • Pinch of Sea Salt


  • Put all ingredients into a bowl and mix well.
  • Roll into 1 inch balls using your hands. 
  • Place CAREFULLY into a bag or freezer-safe dish and freeze until set...about 1 hour.
  • You can eat them frozen, but I think they're best when they thaw a little and get a little soft.  (Sometimes I just keep them in the fridge...)
Be aware...these ARE addictive!  

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Need Chocolate for Stress Relief? Eat This, Not That! Chocolate Pudding Edition

Stressful times, right?  

How many of you out there are stress eaters?  

Did you totally stock your cabinets with cookies, chips, and CHOCOLATE in anticipation of a quarantine?  

As much as it's comforting to stress eat, undoubtedly, you'll eventually start to feel crappy filling yourself with foods that lack nutritional value, are overloaded with lots of empty calories, contain boatloads of sugar and salt, and are chockablock full of artificial colors, artificial flavors, and bad-for-you preservatives that you can't even begin to pronounce.  

The answer?  Have a treat that you make yourself--one that won't leave you feeling guilt-ridden and bloated. 


Here's an example....

You could make a well-known, store-bought instant chocolate pudding snack containing this: 

Image result for jello instant chocolate pudding


You could make a chocolate pudding snack containing this:


Image result for AVOCADO

Now I'm not saying Chocolate Pudding made with Avocado is a "health" food (you'd be BETTER off eating a piece of whole fruit for a treat), but we all know that once in awhile, when under stress, chocolate is necessary and good for the soul!  

What can I say?  It's true!  Right?

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So, if you wanna try out some Chocolate Avocado Pudding that's got no artificial thickeners, flavors, anti-foamers, and colors...here you go!

Chocolate Avocado "Pudding"

  • 1 Soft, ripe avocado (flesh only!)
  • 1/4 C Cocoa Powder
  • 2T Pure Maple Syrup
  • 1/4 C Milk of Choice (oat, coconut,  or almond)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

  • Stick all those ingredients into a food processor.
  • Process until smooth and creamy.
  • Unplug processor and taste--If you like it thicker add more avocado, more chocolatey add cocoa powder, more sweet add maple syrup...you get the picture.  Make it how you like it.  Plug the processor back in and blend again.
  • You can eat it right away, but I think it's best after it's been refrigerated for at least 30 mins.  
  • Enjoy, guilt-free, knowing you're not putting any weird chemicals/ingredients into your body!
If you wanna go even healthier, sub out the Cocoa Powder for Cacao Powder (a little more bitter, but nutritionally superior!)

Yes, I DO eat my Chocolate Avocado Pudding with a Minnie Mouse spoon!
Don't YOU?

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Top O' The Mornin' Shake!

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And boy are YOU lucky!  Today we have a recipe to tickle your taste buds, get your leafy greens in, AND keep you nice and healthy!

Fair warning...I'm not great on measuring...I just chuck stuff into the Vitamix/Nutribullet and then adjust if it doesn't taste the way I like it, so you do the same, OK?  More minty, less minty...whatever rocks your Shamrock!

Top O' The Mornin' Shake!


  • 1 overripe chopped frozen banana (if you don't have an overripe frozen banana waiting in your freezer, use a room temp overripe banana and add ice!)
  • 1 regular handful of fresh mint (or 1/8 to 1/4 tsp PURE peppermint extract--not imitation)
  • 1 large handful of Organic Power Greens (frozen leafys would work great too!)
  • 2 scoops Collagen Peptides (or Vanilla/Unflavored Protein Powder of choice--following label directions for serving size...)
  • 1 cup milk of choice (regular, oat, coconut, almond, etc.)
  • 1-2 tsp cacao nibs or mini chocolate chips of choice (vegan, dairy-free etc.) or even chocolate shavings if you're feeling fancy!
  • Optional: pinch of sea salt to bring out the flavor

  • Blend everything but the cacao nibs together in a vitamix, nutribullet, magic bullet or high powered blender until smooth and creamy.
  • Sprinkle cacao nibs or chocolate chips on top!  (Be sure your straw is big enough to get the sprinkles through!  LOL!)
  • Enjoy!

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Trapped at Home and Bored?

Hey Kirkland Peeps!  

And any other Lovely Peeps who are under house arrest!

I know the Corona Virus has got you down.  Lots of scary news out there, lots of people stuck inside the house going a bit stir crazy.  I'm here for ya.  Here's a BIG list of things to do while stuck inside....

Stuck Inside With Family?

  • Play games!  Twister, Charades, Scrabble, Taboo, Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza, Poker, Crazy Eights, Heads Up!, Bingo, Chess, Checkers, Tic Tac Toe, Pictionary, Dungeons and Dragons, Magic the Gathering, Jenga...whatever floats your boat!
  • Color/Draw/Zentangle/Manga/Create a Family Cartoon/Make an Art Gallery!
  • Do a Jigsaw Puzzle!  Seriously, when was the last time you did a jigsaw puzzle?  I can get lost in a puzzle for days!  LOL!
  • Have a Craft Day! Paper mache, clay, tie dye, jewelry making, rock painting, sewing...there are lots of crafts to try!  If you need inspiration just Google....I found a good one here...https://www.parents.com/fun/arts-crafts/
    Painted by my friend, Kym Forester
  • Pick a Family DJ--Have them make a playlist and rock out together!
  • Movie Night!  Make popcorn and get your jammies on!  At the end, have a "critic's review!"
  • Got Younger Kids?  Play Dress Up!  Give them some old costumes or clothes and let them use their imagination to create stories, plays, and shows!
  • Cook Together!  Build life skills by having your kids find a recipe, plan it out and make it!  If you've got older kids, check out cooking technique tutorials online!
  • Got Older Kids? Have them make a list of things they've wanted to learn/try/do.  And then go one by one and do them!   (PS. Tell them if they don't make a list...YOU will make one for them!  LOL!)

Stuck Inside By Yourself or With a Partner/Friend?
  • Take Online Courses!  There are so many places to learn online--Coursera, Udemy, itunes U, Khan Academy, etc. You can learn a new language, figure out how to play that guitar that's been sitting in the corner of your living room, brush up on some business skills, learn how to heal yourself with alternative therapies/herbs/reiki/massage/yoga, figure out how to design a garden, learn to code, immerse yourself in art history...the possibilities are endless! 
  • Have a Little Down Time:  Stressed out about all that's going on?  Take a free trial of a meditation app like Insight Timer, Headspace, or Calm.  Fill up a tub with some warm water and Epsom Salts....or do a warm foot soak if you don't have a tub!  Snuggle up with a cup of tea and a great book.  Indulge in a little aromatherapy.  Dim the lights and listen to some calming music (ask Alexa to "Play Music for Meditation"). 
  • Phone a Friend:  Is there someone you've been meaning to talk to, but haven't had time?  Give 'em a call!  Or better yet, video chat!
  •  Throw Stuff Out:  I know what you're thinking..."THAT'S no fun!"  LOL!  Well, maybe not, but when you go through your junk drawer where it's impossible to find what you need or that basement/garage where you're constantly tripping over things and you FINALLY clean it out and donate stuff...it feels pretty awesome!
  • Make a Fancy Dinner:  Whether it's just you or you and a loved one, it doesn't really matter.  Making a dinner with complete attention and focus is delicious for your soul.  Find a new recipe, have a glass of wine, light some candles, play soft music...heck, even use the cloth napkins and good dishes!

  • Play Online Games with Friends That Live Far Away!
  • Read Children's Lit:  Pick something you liked as a kid and notice if you see it differently as an adult...Old Yeller, The Secret Garden, Charlotte's Web, A Wrinkle in Time, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Where the Red Fern Grows, The Outsiders, Nancy Drew, Call of the Wild, etc.
  • Listen to Podcasts!
  • Watch YouTube Videos and Learn How to Fix/Remodel Things!  We've always got things that need updating or fixing, right?  Now's a GREAT time to get it done!
  • Couples Massage!  Take an online Couples Massage course or watch a YouTube "How To" Video and ease some of that crazy stress and tension you have!
  • Journal!  These can be troubling times, so journaling can help you to clear your mind, focus on gratitude, or plan out your future! 
  • Write! This one is slightly different than the Journaling...write letters to friends (remember how awesome it used to be getting actual letters in the mail?), start a blog, write your life story for your kids/grandkids to read, write stories about people in your family who have passed on and share them with other family members.

  • Take a Hike!  Nature is STILL out there...waiting for YOU!!  Go alone and enjoy the solitude and fresh air or take the kids and do a Nature Scavenger Hunt 
  • Go For a Drive!  Sometimes it's just good for the spirit to get a change of scenery.  Drive to the woods, mountains, or coast...get out, walk around, take some beautiful photos.  

  • Plant Something:  Start your seeds inside, plant something outside, design a patio garden (or tiny balcony garden), get some indoor house plants...create and nurture life and health!
  • Take out the Wheels! Got a bike, rollerblades (remember them???), skateboard, etc. gathering dust in the corner of your garage?  Get them in shape and go use them!  Great exercise!
  • No Wheels?  Go for a Run!  Keep those endorphins going so you can stay positive and healthy!
  • Beautify Your Yard!  It's almost Spring!  Get out there and clean up the yard, wash the windows, weed, and get things ready for planting!  Give everyone in the family a job and then celebrate together when the job is done!
  • Become a Nature Photographer!  Get tips online and then get out there and photograph the beauty that's around you!  
  • Become a Bird Watcher!  Check online for a birdwatching list or download a birdwatching app for your smartphone!
  • Have Recess Outside with Your Family!  Remember the games you played as a kid? Red Light/Green Light, Mother May I, Simon Says, Kickball, t-ball, jumprope, hopscotch, 4 square, basketball, soccer...the list goes on!  Plus you can do things like blow bubbles, use sidewalk chalk, fly paper airplanes, fly a kite, or build a fort.  
  • Adult Recess?  Depending on where you live...you can still go cross country skiing, play golf, roll the bocce ball, go mountain biking, have fun waterskiing, surf...
Professional Sidewalk Chalk Art
OK, so HOPEFULLY you found SOMETHING to do while on lockdown!  If not, use your imagination, be creative, and come up with OTHER ideas!  Make the best of your situation!  And HAVE FUN!!  Life goes on!

Sending hugs and wishing you health and happiness!

If you have additional ideas, post below!  I'd love to know what works for you!!