An Uncomplicated Life Blog: February 2018

Monday, February 26, 2018

Currently February 2018 Edition

What I'm thinking, using, loving and hating... Currently

We've come to the homestretch of February and I'm THRILLED because I tell you what. I CANNOT spell February right to save my life. Every time, I get it wrong and spell check is like, c.mon idiot, I just corrected this for you. It's the trick r after the b that gets me every. single. time. Bring on March, that one is easy! It also means we'll be planting our summer gardens (love living in the South!), preparing the kids' Easter baskets, and entering shorts and t shirt weather. Whoohoo! Here's a good currently post to wrap up the final days of winter. Sorry to everyone who lives up North and has to endure several more months of garbage... *affiliate links used*

Currently, I'm:

Wearing: I bought my first ever pair of TOMS  shoes, and basically have't taken them off. I know I'm the last person on Earth to the TOMS  party! When I used to work full time, I wore heels everyday and thought that TOMS were only for dirty hippies. Now that I am a dirty hippie myself (dirty yes, the hippie part is only so so) I'm happily, comfortably and permanently wearing these shoes.

Why did it take me this long to realize how amazing these things are???

Planning: My sister's baby shower! We've set a theme and a date, and I need to get going on it. I've never hosted a baby shower before, and I'll be doing it "long distance" meaning I'm planning and preparing for it in Dallas, but it will be hosted where she lives in Boston. Getting all the supplies there should be... Fun?

Reading: I've actually read a ton of great stuff lately, and am going to do a post about entertaining, fast reads. One of my goals for 2018 was to read a book a month and I can proudly say I've surpassed it! Currently, I'm about to wrap up The Lovely Bones. I struggled a little to get into this one, because it's all about death and heaven and what that like and what it does to one particular family. Not exactly a mood booster to read right before I go to bed, right?! But, it is a great read. Entertaining and fast-paced, and it makes you wonder what the "after life" is really like. Side note: Anyone else still read real paper books and not at all into Kindles? I love the way books smell and turning the pages! I don't care that they're more expensive and take up physical space, I'm never adapting to e books.

Also, I'm a stubborn 90 year old.

Loving: Yoga Balm. Guy! Guys. GUYSSSSSSS. I posted this to my Insta Stories the night I got it. It is simply amazing. Good for muscle aches, head aches, after a tough workout, a mood booster, a hangover helper. I could go on and on. It's not cheap, but the good stuff never is. I literally can't recommend this product more! Get yours now (not an affiliate link - I'm also not being paid to say this! I just truly love it and want to spread the word)

Get. Some. Of. This. Now.

Annoyed by: My face breaking out nonstop! I switched to all natural skincare I make myself and also use the Young Living ART line, and have had perhaps a total of 3 breakouts in about as many years. For whatever reason, my skin is giving me a big middle finger right now and breaking out like crazy. The good news about oily skin is that I have almost no wrinkles and I'm in my mid 30's. Gotta take the good with the bad, right?

Thursday, February 22, 2018

What I Do To Promote My Own Happiness

Feeling or stuck in a rut? Here are some mood-boosting things you can do today to take charge of your happiness!

This time of year always seems to drag on a little bit. Late February. Winter is still here (yes, even in Dallas! Well... Kinda, it's all relative). Daylight savings hasn't kicked in, the days are still short on sunlight and cabin fever might be ruling your home. I'm getting bummed out just writing this! I thought it might be helpful to compile a list of things I do that promote my own happiness. Whether you're reading this in the final stretch of winter before spring hits, or the middle of a blissful summer break, happiness is something to seek year round! Here are the little things I do - sometimes even daily - to promote my own happiness. *affiliate links used*

Ways to be a happier person, increase your overall happiness, small things that bring joy, being happy

1) Diffuse "happy" essential oils
Essential oils have a mega effect on moods and emotions. If you're feeling like Debbie Downer, try diffusing lemon, orange, or grapefruit essential oil. Either one at a time or all three! Citrus oils are bright and cheery, and diffusing them lightens up a whole room. Bonus: They're also some of the most affordable essential oils! I diffuse citrus oils daily.

2) Get a manicure
If you look good, you tend to feel good. While I might not put on makeup everyday (because seriously who has that kind of time for something that's going to get washed off several hours later!) I do regularly get manicures. My nails are something I "wear" 100% of the time, so if they look good, I automatically feel better about myself. Don't have the budget or the time for a professional mani? Do it yourself! Nail polish is a couple of bucks, and you can use a q-tip and nail polish remover to clean up the edges. I love this drug store brand and it's a new spring color!

3) Take an Epsom salt bath
I prefer Epsom salt over bubble baths because there's health benefits to the salts, but you're likely just drying out your skin with artificial fragrances and conditioners in a bubble bath. Still, do whatever makes you happiest! I like to add essential oils to my salts, then sprinkle them in the tub with the water going. This smells amazing, and the Epsom salt naturally replace the magnesium in your body, which is essential for good sleep (read more on that in this post). Not only does hot water feel good but added bonus! You'll likely sleep better. I know I'm a much happier person if I've had a good night's rest...

Where I have the privilage of taking baths

4) Go for a quick walk outside
I almost wrote this one as simply "exercise" because exercising increases serotonin in the brain, which is your happiness hormone. However, I find there's something specifically about being outside that magnifies the benefits of exercise. I even live in a city center, and love getting out and about in my neighborhood. Luckily I can be outside year round in Texas, and I schedule outdoor play daily for my kids, provided it isn't miserably cold or raining. If you're feeling blahhh, get outside, even for just a 15 minute walk in your neighborhood! Listening to birds chirp, my kids laughing and feeling the sun on my face instantly boosts my happiness.

5) Get off social media
No, not permanently but you'd probably be happier overall if you (and I) did... If you're feeling unhappy, commit to disengaging from social media for a full day. Don't log into Facebook, don't read any tweets and don't scroll your Instagram feed. Take note of the difference you feel! I've found that when I focus more on living my own REAL life and less on watching the highlights of what others want me to think their life is like, I'm instantly more happy and more present in how great the current moment is.

These are all quick, relatively simple things you can do to boost your own happiness, almost instantly! I'm telling you, that brisk walk outside works wonders. Weekly baths not only help me relax, I sleep better and am a happier person because of them! And a great mani is always a reason to smile, even if it's an at-home manicure. There are tons of ways to promote happiness, and these are just a few of the things I do to give myself a happiness boost. 

Monday, February 19, 2018

Essential Oils For Better Hair

Make this DIY root and scalp spray with essential oils for better, healthier, faster growing hair!

Having kids does a number on your hair. I remember after I had Henry, it started to fall out so heavily, I had to clean out my brush every time I combed my hair, and do a swipe of the shower every single time I bathed. It lasted for about three or four months. After Otto, nothing really happened until after I was done breastfeeding him... Then CLUMPS of hair would fall out! And this lasted for well over a year. I actually developed bald spots on my head. Not only did it fall out, but the ends got dry, the roots got greasy and the color got much darker, requiring more highlights which further damaged my hair. It was a hot mess! I had heard that essential oils can be great for your root and scalp, therefore making your hair healthier overall, so I dove in and did some research. This post is all about the essential oils you can use for better hair, and I've made a DIY for easier application for you. *affiliate links used*

First, the essential oils! Revive oils are my new go-to. Yup, I used to be with Young Living, but the expense of those oils were insane. I asked some of my oily gurus who they got their oils from and learned about Revive. They're therapeutic grade, indigestible essential oils that are NOT a multi-level-marketing structure. You can go on their website and buy them like you'd buy something on Amazon - no need to sign up for some membership! They have packages with diffusers and single essential oils, plus roller bottles and other lifestyle items. Use code Paige10 for 10% off your order and experience the same quality of Young Living or doTERRA without the obnoxious price (and minus the sales people always trying to get you to buy things...)

Here's the roundup of essential oils that are great for your hair when applied to the root and scalp. Remember, your hair starts there, and if you want better overall hair, you've got to start where hair grows! Now, I specifically left all citrus essential oils off this list even though they consistently popped up in my research for "healthy hair oils." Why? Because citrus oils magnify the effects of the sun (think sunburn in a fraction of the time it normally takes to develop a burn) and your head is naturally the closest part of your body to the sun. 

The DIY that follows after this list is designed so that you can select the oils that will work best for you - you can cherry pick what you need based on your hair. I didn't want someone adding lemon or bergamot to their unique scalp spray, being unaware of the effects it could have on your poor scalp! So, I specifically left those oils off the list. Lemon and bergamot were both considered great for hair, roots and scalps, however, so if you're interested in those oils look them up AND how to safely use them, especially as we head into spring and summer. Now, back to the essential oils for better hair list:

Rosemary is known to stimulate blood circulation on your scalp, which results in faster hair growth. Faster hair growth is going to promote thickness because more hair is growing in to replace the hair that is falling out/damaged/etc. Rosemary also reportedly helps to repair dry hair with it's moisturizing properties. This essential oil is great to use from scalp to root to hair shaft! (Ever seen or used Aveda's Rosemary and Mint shampoo? Yup, there's a reason rosemary is in that high-end classic!)

Ah, the second component to the popular Aveda product. You know how when you apply peppermint, it "tingles"? That tingling is stimulation, and peppermint is thought to stimulate hair growth when applied to the scalp. It also has antimicrobial properties, so it's great for things like dandruff and other irritations. 

Tea Tree
Tea tree oil is used for so many things, especially things you want cleaned. This oil is great for greasy hair or greasy scalps. It has gentle antiseptic properties so it's great if you have dandruff that you'd like cleaned up, or if you generally have an irritated and itchy scalp. I have a tea tree shampoo from a natural hair brand and it's my favorite to use when it's been a few days (or more) since I've washed my hair. Have a bunch of dry shampoo buildup or irritation from excessive dry shampoo? This is a great oil for that!

Cedarwood is a natural moisturizer, so this one is great for dry hair. It also stimulates blood circulation when applied to the scalp, and is used for thinning hair. This works best when applied directly to the scalp and massage is used to further increase stimulation. I happen to be a huge fan of the smell of this oil. It's very mild, so this is a great one to pair with others to make a multi-purpose scalp spray (DIY below!)

Is there anything this oil doesn't do?! If you don't have this oil, get it immediately. If you're just starting to dabble in essential oils, start with lavender. Lavender is a known "soother" oil, so if you have an irritated scalp, this one is great. I also read a holistic health site that claimed there was a study where lavender was clinically proven to increase the number of hair follicles. That site didn't link the study, or I'd link it here for you. The soothing properties of the oil also make it great for dry, frazzled ends. Oh yeah, and it smells amazing!

DIY Essential Oil Scalp Spray for Healthier Hair
- Pinch of sea salt
- One to three of the essential oils listed above, based on what your hair needs (5 drops of each)
- Distilled water 


- One to three of the essential oils listed above, based on what your hair needs (5 drops of each)
- Carrier oil, such as Grape Seed Oil, Avocado Oil, Liquid Coconut Oil or other vegetable based oil

The first version is great if you want to have the oils on your scalp all day. Put the salt in the bottle and add your essential oils. Shake for a few moments to evenly distribute the oils among the salt. Fill the rest of the bottle with distilled water. Shake well before each use. Part your hair into sections and apply directly to your scalp, massaging in with your fingers.

The second version is great if you want to make more of a conditioning treatment that you either apply a few minutes before washing or leave on over night. This is a better option if you want to apply the essential oils all the way down the shaft of your hair, too. Fill the spray bottle with carrier oil of choice and add 5 drops of each essential oil. Shake well. Spray from your roots to the ends of your hair. Leave on overnight (be sure the pillowcase you have on your pillow isn't your favorite because it will get oil stained) or leave on for 5-10 minutes, then wash and style your hair as normal.

What essential oils to use for healthier, faster growing, thicker hair and a DIY scalp spray to promote healthier hair
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Essential oils have tons of benefits, including being great for your scalp and hair. If you're like me and have popped out a few kids which has been rough on your hair, or have other issues that have negatively impacted your hair, I highly recommend giving essential oils a try for several months and seeing what they do for you. The DIY scalp spray is a great, easy way to apply the oils to your hair and scalp. 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

That Time I Went To My First PTA Meeting

I've avoided PTA meetings because of the stereotypes. Here's what happened when I got over it and actually attended my first meeting.

Ahhhh, parent-teacher associations. PTAs. My neighborhood has an early childhood PTA for people with preschool age (or younger) children. There's meetings and events - ways for (mostly moms) to get to know one another, plan social events, play dates, get to know their future elementary schools, etc. I've been a part of the Facebook group for it for ages, but never attended one of their meetings or events. I had this idea in my mind of what these moms would be like and I wasn't sure I wanted to be one of them. But a meeting was planned at a restaurant I happen to really like and the topic the guest speaker was talking about intrigued me... So I got over my preconceptions of who these people were, rounded up a few friends, and went. This is all about that time I went to my first PTA meeting!

First, let's chat more about what I thought the stereotypical PTA mom was like: I envisioned her as a stay at home mom who's overly-involved with her children. She wants to have an input on EVERYTHING that her child would even potentially touch. She's probably a helicopter mom at the park. You know, those moms who trail their kid around and talk to them constantly, never letting their child discover anything for themselves? Yeah, her. I thought the PTA would be full of women like her, dragging on and on about their child's achievements and what activities they're in and what languages they speak and what gifted programs they want to enroll them in by the age of 5. Ughh, makes my skin crawl just writing about people like "her"! I thought the typical PTA mom was a woman overly wrapped up in her kids lives and therefore had no hobbies of her own.

You know, not that I'm judgmental or anything. No prejudice here!

When I saw what the February meeting was about, I was interested. It was about how to talk to your young kids about sex and "where babies come from." Nothing like a good sex chat to pull me out of the PTA shadows, right?! I grew up in a home where we talked about it from the very beginning. My mom worked in fertility and reproduction, and we weren't a religious household. I knew all the names of all the body parts before kindergarten and I have zero qualms about teaching my own kids about these things. But I was very curious how others approach this topic - especially now that we live in the Bible Belt. I really wanted to see what recommendations this speaker had and how the women reacted to it.

Then I saw it was at a trendy new restaurant that just opened up in our neighborhood. I immediately texted some of my other mom friends in our neighborhood and said, "hey, wanna go with me?! Let's plan a night out and see what this is all about!" 

We got there right on time and the meeting was already packed. They had a buffet of yummy food laid out for us and a cash bar. My friend and I grabbed a glass of wine and started to chat with some of the other moms we loosely knew from the Facebook group or from the neighborhood. Everyone was super friendly! Nobody talked about their kids! The wine and the laughs were flowing! I thought, huh. This isn't at all what I expected. I saw a mom who I always see at preschool drop off - our kids are in the same room - and it turns out she's the owner of the restaurant! We joked about how we're always the first moms to drop our kids off in the morning and the last ones to pick them up in the afternoons because we're busy busting our butts off working and milk every minute of the 5 hour school day. She was a blast, and I now have a friend at my kids' school.

The speaker started about an hour in after some typical meeting business was done. I was already on my second glass of wine and thought, alrighty! This is when it's going to get good. THIS is when my eyes are going to start to roll at how and what we should say to our kids about sex! THIS is when the real PTA mom is going to show up and my opinion of this group is going to be validated.

Boy, was I wrong.

Now, her message was more religious than anything I'd ever hear in Minneapolis, but she also had different ways to say things that weren't religious. She did a great job covering all the bases of how to word things for young kids, from the Bible Belt to the more liberal minded folks. And all her main points were spot on: Decide WHAT your message is, and what tone you want to deliver it in; use atomically correct words and describe sex as a scientific process that creates life; teach that sex involves respect; and most importantly, know that your kid is going to learn about it no matter what. So they can learn about it from you, with your message and your tone or they can learn about it from their friends or the media. If you don't talk about it, they're learning about it from friends and the media. If you do talk about it, and talk about it early, they're learning about sex from you and you're establishing yourself as the expert and the person to go to with questions.

Interesting stuff for a PTA meeting, no?! I sure thought so. We had a lot of laughs, a lot of wine (please tell me y'all caught my Instagram Stories from the morning after!) and perhaps the biggest surprise of them all? Not one person talked about her kids. It was all about hanging out and laughing with other moms. It was a night out for us - the last thing we wanted to do was "kid talk." It turns out, most of these women are just like me. They love their kids and want to learn ways to teach them and give them the best life possible, but when they're away from them, they want a break! They want to talk and laugh and enjoy a night out.

As I was looking up PTA meeting images to add to this post, I saw sample fliers. All of the samples had meetings in the school library or some other school grounds location. Maybe my PTA is just a tad more lit than others, which thrills the heck out of me. This meeting was at a bar... And the next one is at Top Golf. I'm not sure if all PTA's are like mine, but I'm sure glad mine is so hardcore with the fun!

I'm thrilled that the time I went to my first PTA meeting, my prejudice was proved completely wrong. These moms are normal. They're kind. They're fun to talk to. It was a fun time (that had a very rough morning after!) and I can't wait to go to my next meeting and really get to know these women and make some great friends.

Monday, February 12, 2018

10 Secrets About Me

10 fun little known facts about the blogger behind An Uncomplicated Life Blog

I always love reading posts like this on other sites. It's so fun to get to know the quirks behind the people who write content I regularly read! Humans are genuinely curious species, and there's nothing like getting a good look into someone's pet peeves, loves, quirks and personality. Plus, these posts break up my regular stream of recipes, DIYs, crafts, and opinion pieces to add some flavor around here! Read on for 10 secrets about me. I didn't hold back and dug deep to pull out the weirdest facets of my personality, just for your reading pleasure.

1) I brush my teeth with nearly hot water. It softens the bristles on my brush and feels so much better than cold water! I don't even get why anyone would use cold water on their teeth. Yuck.

2) I go commando in my yoga pants. Every now and then I'll be behind someone in a yoga class and see her thong hanging out of her pants and wonder how the heck she does all those forward folds in comfort... Nope, not for me! Also, I regularly check to make sure my pants aren't see through when I bend over because that's mandatory if you're going commando. #yikes

3) I've completely given up wearing "real" (aka underwire) bras. Ever since I nursed Otto and always wore a nursing tank, I realized how awesome the wireless life is. Now I'm straight bralette or sports bra (because I'm usually in athletic clothes, let's get serious). If you're still wearing a wire bra, are you even living?

4) I'm in bed 90% of the time by 9pm. Even on the weekends. I don't understand people who love "late nights." Oddly, I also hate mornings. I'm a mid-day kinda gal, I guess. I also could lay in bed for 12 hours, everysingleday, and would be in heaven. Sleep is life.

5) Anything under 85 degrees is cold to me. I think I'm just a cold-natured person. Or I naturally lose a lot of body heat. Who knows, but if it's 85 degrees or under, I'll be in jeans and a sweater. Good thing I moved to Texas.

6) In complete opposition to my last statement, I absolutely cannot sleep at night unless the house is AC'd to 68 degrees or cooler. I only blast the AC that high at night; that would freeze me during the day! But there's something about having it really cool at night that results in the best sleep, and even 70 degrees makes me wake up often in a sweat bath.

7) I'm the only woman you know who when she says she "just wants one bite of dessert" actually means it. I literally only want a bite of something sweet, maybe once a month or so. My husband was shocked when he learned this about me! He also now knows, yes, we can totally split an ice cream because yes, I really will only have one bite.

8) I have this nervous/excited tick where I make a fist and tap my fingers against my palm really fast. I've done it since I was a baby, and still going strong 33 years later. I've gotten *pretty* good about keeping it out of the public sphere, but every now and again I'll realize I'm doing in front of people and think, "Stop that, Paige!"

9) I totally look at and judge what other people buy at the grocery store. One time a guy a few checkout lanes over was buying 5 18 packs of eggs, coconut water and bread. What could that man have possibly wanted with all those eggs?! I mean, that's a lot of eggs. It filled up two grocery bags. Just with eggs. (It was November or so, so it wasn't like he was a Pastor buying eggs for an Easter egg hunt or anything...) Excessive eggs, vegans who buy excessive amounts of processed "vegan safe" foods and folks who don't buy a single fruit or veggie all get the stare-down from me.

10) I worked at a community pool for 6 years but can *barely* swim. I mean, I won't drown, but you won't find me swimming laps anytime soon. Not that I don't like it. I'm just not good at it. And I can't float on my back at all. I sink straight to the bottom. Probably why I'm a bad swimmer.

Bet you didn't know all those things about me, did you? Nervous ticks, judgmental grocery store stares, hot days and cold nights, and no undies to boot. I hope you still want to be my friend and read my blog, even after unearthing these 10 secrets about me!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Most Important Lessons I've Learned In Parenting

Pre-kids, I was a parenting expert for everyone ELSE'S kids. Actually becoming a mom was a humbling experience!

Is it just me, or was there just a massive baby boom?! I mean, at least 20 bloggers I follow on Instagram had babies between December and January. If you didn't pop out a baby in the past few weeks, it seems like everyone has announced a pregnancy. My blogging BFF is pregnant, my sister is pregnant, freaking all the Duggars/their wives are pregnant, heck - even Joanna Gaines is pregnant! It's looking like another baby boom this summer and early fall. All these babies got me thinking about motherhood. Specifically, all the things I thought I knew, all the things I didn't know that I didn't know and all the surprises that humbled me along the way. This post is all about the most important lessons I've learned in parenting.

The hardest transition is having your first child.
I know the jury is still out on this one and every woman experiences it differently, but for me, going from 0-1 children was absolutely the hardest transition of my life. (More than half of my mom friends agree with me on this one and the rest say 1-2 was the hardest. After that, I'm told, life just becomes a total sh*t show!) For me, losing the ability to just leave the house on a whim was a challenge. Instead of simply leaving the house, I now had to pack for all the needs a baby might have for as long as I anticipated we'd be out. I became a pack mule. You have to time leaving the house to feeding and pumping schedules. 

Perhaps more than losing spontaneity, losing my down time was ROUGH. No more relaxing on the weekends, no more long morning showers, no more sick days, no more guaranteed rest or sleep when all you need is a good night's sleep, no more dinner after 5pm (gotta be home before bedtime!), shopping became a chore instead of a treat, and no more cranked up music in the car. Having that first baby makes you re-learn how to live your life. Everything that you used to do on your own time now has to be re-learned and done on baby time. THAT is why that first baby is the biggest challenge.

FYI, a lesson I learned after having a second is that having only one child with you becomes the easiest thing in the world! I look back on when it was just Henry and me and think, why did I find this so challenging, one kid is a vacation! Ahhh, hindsight.

Throw your strict rules out the window.
Think you'd rather drink poison than feed your baby formula? Think again, you might end up formula feeding! Even if you don't have supply issues, you might do it for your sanity so that your partner can take some of the night feeds. Or you just want your body to be yours again. Think you're definitely going to have an unmedicated birth? Think again sister. 16 hours into contractions with Otto, I waved my white flag and gave my husband a look of death to get me an epidural right now. If you don't know what a real contraction feels like, leave your options open! Also, you might end up with an emergency c section. What I've learned is babies come how THEY want to come, and you're just the vessel to get them here. There's no glamorous way to give birth and there are no prizes for any one method beyond getting to hold your baby. 

If you have really strong opinions on feeding, sleeping or ways to give birth, let them all go. Even if you're about to be a second time mom, that second baby is his own person and will be completely different than your first. Lighten up and go with the flow.

Everything is a phase.
When you first bring home your baby, and you're so tired and the baby doesn't seem to sleep at all at night? It's a phase. It might last longer than you want, but it's a phase. Sleep regressions that have you at your wit's ends? A phase. A constantly fussy baby with teething pain? Yup, that's just a phase too. If you approach the hard times with a "this too shall pass" attitude, they're a lot easier to get through. 

In the same vein, don't let those challenges tarnish the good moments. Take relief in the fact that those hard moments are just that - a moment in time, but also know that the good stuff is also just a moment in time and treasure it dearly!

You're really just wingin' it.
All of parenthood is a "best guess" at what the best method for any given thing is. Growing up, I felt like my mom had all the answers and knew how to do everything. Now as a mother myself, I realize she was just winging it, and that's exactly what every parent does, all day every day. You're basically giving it your best guess. And you know what? That's ok! There's no one right way to parent, and you don't even have to parent both of your kids the same. Otto requires a lot more snuggling than Henry does. Henry requires a lot more conversation than Otto does. Want to know how I learned that? Trial and error, and a lot of wingin' it!

Momin' aint easy guys. There are so many lessons I've learned in the almost four years I've been one, and I can't imagine how many more I'll learn in my lifetime. I've only just begun this motherhood journey! I think the most important lessons I've learned in parenting require flexibility on my part, an open mind, and a go with the flow attitude. If you've got that going for you, you'll enjoy parenting so much more.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Easter Brunch Ham, Leek & Potato Frittata

Ham is an Easter brunch staple, and this ham, leek and potato frittata is easy to make and will feed a crowd large or small

There are three things I really like about this recipe: 1) You can scale it to feed a large crowd or make it just for yourself - eggs are affordable and easy to change the number included to feed however many people needed; 2) You can use up leftover Christmas ham before it gets frostbitten in your freezer and 3) The longer this sits in the fridge, the better it tasted and it was so easy to cut a slice and have a hot breakfast mid-week with the leftovers. I also love that it works as a breakfast, lunch or dinner menu item. So much versatility in this dish, no?! This ham, leek and potato frittata is a simple yet great tasting dish to add to your Easter brunch menu.

I knew I wanted to do an Easter recipe this year, and the first thing I think of when I think Easter is ham. Is that a standard for anyone else? We always have a big honey baked ham at Christmas and then have so much leftover, it goes in the freezer. So Easter is the perfect time to pull it out and use it up before it gets covered in white frozen crystals and tastes like old ice, right? This year was no different, and when I went to go pull out some of our Christmas ham so that I could make and shoot this recipe, I was shocked to not find any. Then I remembered the year before, when I had so much ham I ended up tossing most of it because we simply couldn't eat all of it in time. This year, my mom took most of it home with her because she was headed up to Little Rock to visit my aunt/her sister and they could get it all eaten.

The one time I would likely have used it all, I had already given it away! Isn't that the way it always goes. To replace it, I used a deli black forest ham. But better believe it would have been 1000 times better with leftover Christmas ham!

Easter Brunch Ham, Leek & Potato Frittata
- 6 eggs
- 1 leek, sliced into thin slices
- 2 small red potatoes, sliced with the skins on
- 1/2 cup half and half
- 1 cup diced ham
- 1/2 cup milk (I used whole milk)
- shredded cheddar cheese (enough to cover the baking dish you're using. Swiss cheese would also be good but my kids won't eat Swiss cheese so I stuck with cheddar)
- salt and pepper to taste

PRO TIP: Leeks are grown in very sandy dirt. The sand tends to hide in the layers of the leek. To properly clean out the sand, and avoid a gritty frittata, fill a bowl with cold water and place the leek slices in it. Let it soak for a few minutes and agitate the water with your fingers. The leeks will float and all the sand will sink to the bottom. Strain out the leeks and dump the water and your leeks will be sand free. DON'T strain the water with the leeks still in it because you'll redistribute the sand into the leeks (I almost did this before I thought about it and changed my mind...)

Get the eggs cracked in a bowl and whisk in the half and half and milk. Add salt and pepper but remember, ham is pretty salty! So go light on the salt. Get the diced ham, sliced potatoes and leeks all set up in a station. Place a layer of potatoes, followed by half the leeks and half the ham. Then do another layer of the rest of the potatoes, leeks and ham. (Think of this like you would when you make lasagna - layering the ingredients in your dish.) No need to grease your dish, there's plenty of fat in the eggs and cream/milk.

After you have your layers of potato, leeks and ham, pour the egg mixture over it. Top with cheese. You can store the unbaked frittata in your fridge for up to 24 hours, which makes it a great dish to get ready the night before, and throw in the oven before your brunch (perfect after-church dish!) Bake at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the edges are golden brown.

I used a standard pie dish, which would have easily served 4 adults. After cooking, this keeps in the fridge for 4-5 days, and actually got BETTER on the second and third day! I popped it in the microwave for 60 seconds and had a hot breakfast all week.

If you have young children, and don't want to stuff their Easter baskets with tons of candy (or if your kids are like mine and don't like candy or chocolate!) then check out this post I wrote last year on what to put in your child's Easter basket.

Like it? Pin this Easter Brunch Ham, Leek & Potato Frittata to a recipe board on Pinterest!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Ways To Workout You'll Actually Enjoy

When it comes to working out, finding something you ENJOY is essential for actually showing up for your workouts time and again

I get it: Working out is not everyone's favorite. If it were, we wouldn't have nearly 70 percent of adults in America overweight or obese. The thing about the word "workout" is that it encompasses sooooo many different physical activities! You don't have to go to a gym and run on a treadmill or lift weights. There are nearly limitless ways to get physically active. And did you know you'll reap the benefits of physical exercise in as little as 30 minutes a day of it? Yup, fancy scientists say that for the heart benefits of exercise, it doesn't matter if you bust your butt on an elliptical for an hour or you go for a brisk walk in your neighborhood for a half hour after dinner. Let's talk about all the ways you can workout that you'll actually enjoy, so that you'll stick with a physical exercise program and meet (or exceed) your goals in 2018.

How to find a way you enjoy working out so that you show up time and again for your workouts

I used to be a big runner. I'd run at least two half marathons a year and didn't consider a run a "good one" unless I went at least six miles. In fact, I didn't consider anything a good workout unless I did it for an hour or more! What a nutjob I used to be. Now, I don't do anything unless I can do it barefoot. That means I stick to yoga, barre and Pilates... And that's about it in terms of my workouts. For me, these are the things I enjoy doing so it doesn't feel like work. It's something I GET to do instead of something I HAVE to do. See the difference?

If you mentally frame your workouts like this, you'll look forward to it as opposed to dread it. And looking forward to something is key to doing it over and over again. And doing it over and over again is key for results. That said, what are some physical activities you might not have considered that you'd enjoy spending your time doing? Here's a short list of the things I've done in my life:

- City league volleyball: You don't have to be a pro, and most cities have a community education program that has something like this. Big bonus - it's a social activity too! Also, it's really affordable. I think I spent $50 for the whole season. I love volleyball, but this could be kickball, softball or any other community type sport you enjoy or want to give a try.

- Barre: This is one of my favorite workouts! It burns so good and works every muscle in your body. The studio provides all the props you'll need so all you have to do is show up in some stretchy clothes. Bonus: Studios like Barre3 have childcare! They're nationwide so see if there's one near you. I do my barre classes at LifeTime, which is also nationwide and also has childcare. Whoop!

- Road races: If you like to run, or maybe you're not sure if you like to run but want to try it, sign up for a road race. Every city and town has them and most benefit a nonprofit cause. It gives you a goal to work towards, and I bet if you sign up for one and see how fun they are, you'll do another. Bonus: There's always food at the finish line, and most of the time, there's beer too.

- SoulCycle: Think of this as less of a spin class and more of a nightclub that happens to be held on a stationary bike. It's a massive calorie blaster, and you'll leave drenched in sweat! Plus it's so much fun, the hour goes by before you know it. Full disclosure: SoulCycle is NOT cheap. You're gonna need a good sized budget to do this regularly.

- Walking: As in, we leave the car in the garage and actually walk to the park that's about 6 blocks away from us. My neighborhood happens to be super hilly, and pushing a double stroller with two heavy toddlers in it adds to the physical challenge of the hills! I think walking is totally underrated for physical fitness. It's pleasant to get outside, reconnect with nature (as much nature as there is in a city...) and get moving. If you resolve to walk somewhere instead of drive even just a few times a week, you're already making improvements to your lifestyle!

- Yoga: I won't bore you with the details on how life changing yoga is... How it restores your body and your mind, make you more calm, more present, stronger, more flexible, builds long and lean muscles... Ok, got it? I could go on and on. Studios are EVERYWHERE and there's yoga classes within traditional gym atmospheres (think LA Fitness) too. There's intense, advanced yoga classes, classes for beginners and hatha classes for when you need a "rest" day. We Yogis in Dallas has childcare to boot (as do a number of studios).

Try a Pilates class

Traditional gym memberships and traditional gym workouts aren't for everyone, myself included! I hate tolling away on a cardio machine and following it with the same lifting routine. That's why I've broken up with the gym to only do "barefoot" exercise classes I actually enjoy doing, and physical activities with my kids. If you think outside of the box and find something you enjoy doing, odds are good your mindset will shift from "I have to do this" to "I get to do this!" and you'll end up getting into a solid physical activity routine you can sustain for better health.