Light Links: April

 
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How was your April? Mine was a great one - work has been busy but fulfilling, I've had some balanced weekends catching up with family and good friends, and life with Pickles the kitten is always sweet.

Grab a cup of your favourite coffee, tea or wine and enjoy some of my favourite links this month. And do let me know which one strikes a chord with you in the comments below.

See you in May! 

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We're starting off with something to bring ease to your weeknights: three easy, fresh and tasty pasta dishes. Sending this to the husband now. Hint hint...

Working too hard? Ok, who isn't really? I'm not guilty of all of these points, but holy moly numbers 3 and 4 stuck out to me.

I think I've always known I'm an HSP (highly sensitive person). Here's why we need rituals

You ladies know I'm now living the pared back life in my wardrobe (and yes, I promise there are more posts to come like that!). Here's some more realistic tips on building a minimalist wardrobe

Do you read Cupcakes and Cashmere? Her blog is massive, but she seems really down to earth. I'm always into behind the scenes posts - here's one on the tech and apps Emily uses day to day.

I could pretty much recommend every episode of the podcast The Lively Show, but this one stood out to me because of the bravery and honesty around, I'm sure, a fairly taboo topic. An interesting story about dealing with painful sex

How I Save Time, Money and My Health: Meal Prepping

As resistant as I am to it sometimes, one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself, time-, money- and health-wise, is start meal prepping.

    

It kind of happened by accident. At my previous job, the office was in a less than desirable location, with only one cafe in walking distance. Yes, one. And we called it ‘the truck stop’. Think fried food, bad coffee and soggy foccacias. Appetising!

I had never really brought my lunch to work before this job. I knew I should be saving the $$ but it seemed fairly boring and tedious to me. Ah, how age makes us embrace the boring and tedious!

When I started at that job, I was super lazy with lunches. Two minute noodles, cuppa soups, dry rice cakes - let’s just say I was not looking forward to lunchtimes.

So I started to Google recipes you could cook in bulk and freeze. It took some time to get in the habit, but I can honestly say that (most weeks) I’ve never looked back. Below are my main learnings from a few years of meal prepping.

 

Make your list

Planning is key. Over time I have built  up a bank of recipes that I enjoy and can make in bulk for lunches. I always thought I could remember the tasty things I had made, but I’d generally end up googling new recipes from scratch each week, which wasted some time.

I’ve now got a running Google Doc that I add to as I find recipes I like, and each week (usually around Thursday or Friday, as I grocery shop on the weekend), I go into the document and see what looks good for the following week. This also includes any dinners I might be cooking at home.

Now I’m not completely strict, so I usually make one dish in bulk for lunch, have it for three-ish days, then buy my lunch for a couple of days.

I make a grocery list in my phone and then when I’m out and about on the weekend I pick up all the ingredients I’ll need.

Bonus tip:

If you’re thinking of getting into meal prepping, I’d also recommend grabbing some new tupperware containers. They’re fairly inexpensive and it’s more motivating to use new ones, rather than having to hunt around for random lids of old takeaway containers you’ve had for years.

 

Set the scene

I usually set aside around an hour each Sunday to get the cooking done. But, like most ‘good’ habits, sometimes we lose momentum.

If I’ve had a few too many vinos the night before or I’m just fed up with being a grown up (does anyone ever feel like that or is it just immature me?!), I bemoan the idea of spending time on a Sunday stuck in the kitchen.

When this kind of thinking strikes, I gently remind myself that it’s only one hour out of my whole day and I try and set a motivating environment.

I’ll make an icy smoothie to sip while I cook, I’ll find a fun Spotify playlist to listen to or, when I really need motivation, I’ll put on a Nigella cooking show and let her propel me forward.

And if I really can’t face it… see below...

 

Get a step ahead (inadvertently)

Like most habits, I try to allow for some flexibility in the meal planning. If a friend wants to grab dinner on a Monday night or we have a farewell lunch at work on a Friday, I don’t say no because there's a tupperware container waiting for me in the fridge.

If I won’t get to eat a meal I’ve made, or if I’ve cooked extra, I throw it in the freezer and watch the containers build up.

Then when we’re away for a weekend and I have no time to cook, I can defrost a few containers for the following week’s lunches.

Also, if we’re too tired to cook in the evening or my husband is out, I can pull something out and voila, dinner is served.

This also works on those Sundays when I really can’t face the cooking - I know something will tide me over from the freezer and give myself a break if I need it.

It does take some discipline and preparation, but I no longer feel guilty about spending money on lunches and I can make much healthier choices with the right planning.

Want a peek at my recipe list? Want to share some recipes you like to cook in bulk?


Where I'm At: Interview Series - Kerryn Hewson of Colour Your Life

 

Welcome to my new interview series 'Where I'm At'. It's a voyeuristic, yet helpful look into the lives of women who are finding where the light plays within them. Their daily rituals, ways of managing stress and advice to you, the readers, will be captured in these interviews.

First up is Kerryn Hewson, Positivity Coach at Colour Your Life. Kerryn is based in Wellington, New Zealand and she provides perspective, inspiration and action to help ambitious, creative and passionate people living their life on auto-pilot, change their world by leading a positive life. Over to Kerryn:

What is your usual wake up time?

During the week my alarm goes off at 6am and I snooze it anywhere from one to four times. On the weekends I generally wake up between 8-9am sometimes with an alarm, often without.

Do you have a morning routine or ritual?

I’m not a ‘wide awake’ morning person so I like to give myself time to adjust. I start with putting my contact lenses in and taking a shower which helps wake me up. Then I like to settle onto the sofa with a blanket and write 'Morning Pages'.

   'Morning Pages' are three stream of consciousness journal pages introduced to the world by Julia Cameron in   The Artist’s Way .  Kerryn has written a   Quick Guide to Morning Pages   if you’d like to know more.

 

'Morning Pages' are three stream of consciousness journal pages introduced to the world by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way. Kerryn has written a Quick Guide to Morning Pages if you’d like to know more.

Tell us about your commute!

My commute is a 20 minutes train ride each way around the beautiful Wellington harbour.

On my commute into work I usually check my email including Facebook and Twitter notifications, blog reader, and Instagram - in that order. On the way home I’ll do the same and might browse Pinterest.

I know that this commute time is quality reading time and I’m trying to reach for my Kindle with my latest wellbeing or business read (I have Thrive by Arianna Huffington and The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks on the go right now) but it’s pretty hit and miss.

Do you like to plan your day ahead or prefer to leave it up to spontaneity?

Can you plan in spontaneity? I’m a total planner, but by planning in the time for the activities and projects that are important to me I free up other time to be spontaneous and do what I feel like. In fact, since planning in business hours to work on Colour Your Life I’ve freed myself from feeling guilty for not working on it during my down time and that’s allowed me to start listening to a bunch of podcasts I previously felt I never had time for.

How do you spend your ideal lunch break to recharge for the afternoon?

Out in the sunshine on the waterfront staring out at the harbour!

There really is something about being outside, getting fresh air and being near water when you’re stuck in an office all day.

What kind of workout schedule do you try to adhere to?

Hm, adhere to would imply consistency…

I try to get to a couple gym classes every week. My favourites are Zumba and Body Combat. I’ve also started doing some at home body weight circuits off Pinterest. And now that it’s moving into summer time here in New Zealand I’ll be starting to go walking in the evening with a friend of mine.

Between all of that I manage to exercise at least once a week and a really active week will see me exercising 3-4 times.

How do you like to end your day?

I like to end my day feeling relaxed which most commonly happens after I’ve been knitting while watching some TV with my husband or taking a hot bath.

What time do you doze off?

My bedtime is 10pm and I’ll generally head towards bed around 9.30pm.

What do you aspire to every day but never / rarely actually do? (you can tell me, we all have them!)

I already mentioned using my commute for quality reading time but I had another one in mind. Meditation!

I know all the benefits. I feel great when I do it. I have a bunch of very helpful apps on my phone and access to some great guided meditations. And yet… somehow I’ve just not found the right way to integrate it into my daily life.

Any advice for women trying to find ease in their every day?

My quickest tip to adding more ease into your day is to pause and simply breathe. Stop what you’re doing and take a deep breath in through your nose so that you can feel your lungs expanding, then exhale through your mouth like gradually letting the air out of a balloon.

My other piece of advice when you’re trying to find more ease in your day is to focus on making one change at a time. Don’t overwhelm yourself and don’t force yourself to make more conscious decisions in a day than you need to! So whether it’s adhering to a new bedtime or workout regime, starting a meditation practice, or using your commute more productively, introduce them gradually one at a time.

Finally, can you give us your quick go-to recipe after a busy day?

Grilled chicken or oven roasted fish with roast veggies or a salad. 

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Thanks Kerryn, I'm jealous of your commute and lunch views!

Want to hear more from Kerryn? Find her at Colour Your Life, on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest (@kerrynhewson), or on Facebook at http://facebook.com/practicepositivity