Best of Where The Light Plays 2015

Happy new year dear readers! I hope you’ve had a great start to 2015.

I have to say a huge thank you for all your support in 2015 and for checking in each week to hear what I’m up to on my corner of the internet.

If you’re a regular, you may enjoy revisiting some of the most popular posts from the past year, and if you’re new here (welcome!), enjoy your first peek into Where The Light Plays.

Where I’m At interviews

I’m so glad you are enjoying these interviews as much as I enjoy doing them. I think it’s great to learn from other women's routines and benefit from their wisdom.

A huge theme I see over and over again in these interviews is the need for women to be easier on themselves and know that they’re already doing a great job - clearly a big theme here on Where The Light Plays.

A few of the top Where I’m At interviews in 2015 were:

Shannon Ables from The Simply Luxurious Life

Vlogger Elle Lindquist

Rachel Gadiel from (the new!) Dream Create Do

And to read through all the interviews, grab a cup of tea and click here.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up posts

Considering how huge this book was in internet land in 2015, it’s no surprise you’ve enjoyed reading my personal journey through the KonMari method.

I overhauled my closet and my bookshelves and next year I’m hoping to tackle a couple of new daunting tasks - the kitchen and spare room (aka dumping ground).

Enjoy the posts here:

The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up (or How I Broke Up With 50% Of My Clothes)

The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up: Book Edition

The Day I Officially Broke Up With Dieting

This was probably the most personal post I shared all year, so it’s pretty humbling to see it was so popular with you ladies.

Intuitive eating has been a huge mindset shift for me in 2015 and I’m so glad I’m not entering 2016 with the usual body shaming plan to lose weight and restrict my eating.

Yes I want to feel healthy but I can do that in a much saner way now.

If you’re struggling with your body, I highly recommend signing up for Finally Free (coaches Paige and Simi are above), the program that truly helped me ditch diets.

The Day I Officially Broke Up With Dieting

Finally Free program

My Morning Routine

Another popular post last year was the view into my daily morning routine.

I love when other bloggers post their routines so I’m glad you feel the same!

I’m planning on tweaking a few things in my mornings in 2016 so once I’ve adjusted my habits I’ll be sure to do an update on the blog.

Time Management Series: My Morning Routine

What were your favourite Where The Light Plays posts this year?

What would you like to see more of in 2016?

Let me know in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

 

Where I'm At: Interview Series - Bethan from Ply

Welcome to the next interview in the 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, are captured in these interviews.

This month we have our very first UK guest and one of my ‘internet friends’, Bethan from Ply. Bethan and I connected through Jess Lively’s site over a year ago, and have been supporting each other through a number of life aspects, including our blogs. Bethan is an architect and ‘maker by nature’ (as she puts it). Her creativity radiates from her blog and after interviewing her, I’m even more certain we’re going to stay close – her views on life and her interests (hello Lisa Eldridge, Nick Hornby and Mexican food for brunch!) really align with mine. Enjoy!

 

What is your usual wake up time?

Around 7am in the week (a lot later at weekends!) I always mean to get up earlier but I’m not a morning person. I’m not a night owl either though, I have a sweet spot of around 3–8pm where I’m fully switched on!

What is your morning ritual?

The first thing I do is a really new element to my morning routine: bed yoga! I’ve only been doing it for a week, but I’m enjoying this new addition to my routine. I use the routine in this video by Rochelle Schieck.

Then I wander through to the kitchen and make myself a cup of hot water, sometimes with a slice of lemon if I remember. Then I settle on my sofa to meditate with the Headspace app (which I love) and after I might jot down some thoughts.

If I’ve got up early enough I read for a few minutes, but the risk of using Headspace is it puts my phone in my hand first thing in the morning, and so I tend to have lost that time to Facebook or Instagram by then. I haven’t quite worked out a system to allow me to have my meditation cake without the social media suck, so I’m currently relying on my own willpower, which frankly is hit and miss!

After, I’ll hit the shower, dress, pack my bag for the day and make myself breakfast, usually overnight oats, cold with fruit and yoghurt in the summer or hot with cacao and peanut butter in the winter.

Of course a lot of this goes out of the window on the weekend! Long lie ins with my beau, followed by brunch at home or out at a favourite cafe. Then see where the day takes us. A lot less structured but I like that it plays a counter point to the weekdays.

Tell us about your commute.

I’m lucky to live only a few miles from work and I try to cycle as often as possible. It takes me about 20 minutes to get to work on the bike, I never have to worry about getting stuck in a traffic jam, and I’ve got a good chunk of exercise too! Combining a workout with my commute means I can devote more time to other things that I’d rather spend my time on.

Do you like to plan your day ahead or allow some spontaneity?

I work in a conventional office environment so the day is pretty structured from that point of view: 9–5.30, with an hour for lunch.

I organise my time within that in blocks, as I find batching similar tasks is most effective for productivity. I tend to deal with a bunch of small tasks and email responses in the morning, as I can do these while I’m warming up. Then the bigger, more involved tasks I leave to the afternoon. I always have a list of the current tasks in priority order, so that defines the afternoon schedule.

The evenings I tend to be pretty spontaneous about, with a mix of time with friends, self-care, blogging and whatever project I have on at the moment spread over the week.

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

I’m a terrible one for not getting up from my desk at lunch! I usually take my full hour, but I tend to spend it reading blogs I follow or writing for my own. I know I’d feel much better if I left the screen for a while, but it doesn’t happen as much as it should.

If I have the car with me that day I usually run errands like food shopping or going to the dry cleaners. It keeps my weekends clear of chores so there’s more time for fun!

What kind of workout schedule do you adhere to?

Errr ... I’m pretty relaxed about workouts and there’s no schedule at all! Exercise is good for my body and my happiness, but I still feel there’s so many things I rather spend my time on that I try to keep it from encroaching on my free time too much, which is why I cycle to work. Having said that I love yoga, and try to hit a yoga class once or twice a week, but some weeks it doesn’t happen and that’s OK too.

How do you like to end your day?

I try to shut down all screens around 10pm, and then do a bit of a wind down routine before bed. I like to take some time to do a thorough oil cleanse in the evening. I apply the oil using facial massage techniques (this is the video from Lisa Eldridge I learnt that from) which has really helped improve the texture and health of my skin, plus it’s a nice way to wind down from the day.

Once I’m into bed I like to have half an hour with a good book to ease me into falling asleep. I just finished Funny Girl by Nick Hornby and loved it.

What time do you doze off?

I aim for 11pm, so usually around 11.30pm!

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

Going to bed early enough is where I fail. I usually get engrossed in what I’m doing and then end up getting to bed later than I’d like, which knocks on when I can’t get out of bed.

I know that getting up earlier would make such a difference to my day, to start it in a more relaxed way, and I’d be able to expand my morning routine to include more yoga and reading.

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

In the words of Gretchen Rubin, “Know thyself!” Find what works for you, and makes your day better, and don’t worry about what anybody else is doing.

In an interview with Danielle La Porte I heard recently, she said she only does 15–20 minutes on her elliptical trainer every day, because any more and she resents it. I loved that precision! Find that sweet spot where you want to do it every day without resenting it.

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

This is one of my favourite brunch dishes, but it works well as a mid-week dinner too! I vary it quite a lot based on what I have in the cupboard, but this is the usual recipe I use.

Heuvos Ranchos (or a version of!)

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • Oil (olive, coconut, whatever you like to use)
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 sweet pepper, sliced
  • Half a teaspoon of dried chilli flakes or paprika
  • Half a teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely sliced
  • Chorizo sausage, cut into half moon slices (optional)
  • 1 400g can of chopped tomatoes
  • A couple of handfuls of spinach (fresh or frozen, optional)
  • 4 eggs (I prefer free-range, organic and local)
  • To serve: tortilla wraps/pita/flatbread, grated cheddar or crumbled feta cheese, chopped herbs (parsley, coriander)

Method

Heat the oil over a medium heat in a large frying pan, one that has a lid (you’ll need it later, although a large plate also works).

Fry the onion for a few minutes until it begins to soften, then add the peppers, spices, garlic and chorizo (if using). Fry for another 5 minutes or so until the onions are translucent and the peppers are beginning to soften. Add the tomatoes and a little water to rinse out the can. Season with salt and pepper, reduce the heat slightly and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. This is the point to stir in the spinach, if you have it, until it wilts in the heat of the sauce.

With the back of a spoon, make four little wells in the sauce. Crack an egg into each well, season the tops with salt and pepper and put the lid on the pan. Cook with the lid on, roughly 3.5 minutes for runny eggs, 4.5 minutes for set. It’s best to keep an eye on the eggs and check them around the 3 minute mark. Cooking this way seems to turn them from un-set to solid really quickly! I’m usually a runny yolks girl, but in this dish I enjoy them either way.

Serve scattered with herbs and cheese to your taste, and bread on the side to mop up the sauce!

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I hope you all enjoyed Bethan’s interview as much as I did. Go and give her some love at the links below! 

You can find Bethan at:

Website – ply.squarespace.com

Facebook – www.facebook.com/plyinterior

Twitter – @plyinteriors

Instagram – @plyinteriors 

Where I'm At: Interview Series - Nat Carter from New Outlook Fitness

 

Welcome to the next interview in the 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, are captured in these interviews.

Nat Carter is a PT and fitness expert based in Sydney. I’ve been following Nat’s blog, Natalie Carter Talks Fitness, and her social media for a few years now. I was really attracted to her uplifting, realistic approach to health and fitness and am very excited to have her on the blog today. Nat works specifically with women to help them created leaner, stronger, fitter, more confident bodies and trains both online and face-to-face with outdoor training groups.

I’m pretty sure you’re going to love Nat too – her views on work/life balance and everyday living are very similar to the values of Where the Light Plays. Enjoy!

What is your usual wake up time?

First my alarm goes off at 5.30am then at 5.32am I physically get out of bed.

Weekends can be 7 or 8am. I’m not good at sleeping in.

How do you like to start your day?

I would like to start my day by having a coffee, lolling around in bed, then a workout, then breakfast, but my early morning sessions with clients mean my ritual is alarm, strong long back coffee, out the door, train them, small breakfast then train myself then breakfast number two, followed by more sessions and sometimes a second workout for myself.

Tell us about your commute.

I don’t really have a long commute. Everywhere takes me 15 mins each way. Long commutes don’t work for me – they are personally soul destroying.

I’m lucky I have the ability to work anywhere. I’m the proud owner of big black ute and I freaking love it. It makes me feel powerful on the mean streets of Sydney.

Do you like to plan your day ahead or allow some spontaneity?

I like both. There’s a few things like email, updating social media, writing, training and working with my clients that are part and parcel of each day.

But then I do like to mix it up each day – maybe a sail, a swim, wine and cheese, read a book and other “me time” activities. If you don’t get it by now, I’m a strong believer in work/life balance.

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

Not having anyone telling me when to eat and how long I get on a lunch break is the best kind of work freedom I think anyone can have.

I eat lunch at home most days – I love it! Ideally though I could really get used to long lunches at really amazing restaurants, but I wouldn’t get a whole lot done that way.

What kind of workout schedule do you (try to!) adhere to?

I’m most productive from 6am–2pm, so I generally cram everything into those hours, including my own workouts. When you have a business it never really just stops, but the great thing I remind myself is my choices belong to me and me alone.

I used to work with clients from 6am–7pm, 5 days a week, and that led to burnout, little time for myself and made every day feel like Groundhog Day. Now I work less, earn more and feel so much better!

I keep my workouts different and mostly outdoors. I’m lucky I know what I’m doing (being a PT) so I can generally stay on track and motivated. Variety is the key for me.

How do you like to end your day?

Watching a nice sunset, wine, food and couch with my partner and the cat.

What time do you doze off?

I’m such a nanna, 9–9.30pm.

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

Meditation and yoga! I feel so much pressure (mainly from Instagram) but I actually hate both of those activities so I think “why bother?”. I also hate doing what everyone else does just because it’s cool. I prefer reading, having a massage, being on the water or just being silent (I love being by myself).

Any advice for women trying to find ease in their every day? (Ed: I freaking love this answer)

Do what you love! Don’t feel bad if you choose to stay at home with the kids or if you want to be the corporate bossdog – go ahead! Remember you have the power to control your day.

Work with the clients you want to work with, the ones that bring out the best in you so then you can in turn bring out the best in them. Set up your day to get the best out of yourself.

Always do a workout – even if you think it’s too short or you don’t have time, just do it. You always feel like a powerhouse afterwards and you perform better during the day. You will never regret looking strong and tight – never ever!

Network with other women. A problem shared is a problem halved. Don’t bitch, but you get my drift.

Earn your own money! The freedom, joy…ah! It’s amazing!

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

Nothing is easier than a protein-rich stir fry. You think calling for takeaway is quicker but it’s not – this is!

Super Quick Stir Fry

  • Brown 150g of chopped meat/chicken/fish with an onion, ginger and garlic and move it around constantly
  • Add 3 cups chopped veg (colour always wins here) and keep moving it
  • Next a few splashes of soy sauce
  • Then a sprinkle of chilli flakes
  • Finish with a flourish of sesame seeds
  • Serve with rice, noodles or just on its own.
  • Simple, quick and keeps your waistline in check. Splash out with a small glass of vino or a few small squares of dark chocolate.

Thanks Nat! Go and follow her now at:

Blog - http://www.nataliecartertalksfitness.com/

Instagram (if you are a fan of wine, cats and sweaty face selfies, definitely go here!) -instagram.com/newoutlookpt/

Twitter - twitter.com/NewOutlookPT

Nat can also be found at New Outlook Fitness, her Sydney-based fitness company.

Where I'm At: Interview Series - Emily Roach from Fresh Paper Studios

 
emily headshot square.jpg

Welcome to the next interview in the 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, are captured in these interviews.

This month we have the talented Emily from Fresh Paper Studios.

Emily is based in Oregon in the US and has her own business as a (super creative) stationery designer. She has a young daughter and provides some great insight into juggling motherhood, your own business and the rest! 

What is your usual wake up time?

I usually wake up between 6 and 7. For the most part, I don’t like to use an alarm, and years of waking up early with a baby who hates sleeping trained my body to wake up on its own!

How do you like to start your day?

First, coffee! Then I sit down with my coffee and my planner and write down five things I’m grateful for.

I list all of my to-dos for the day, think of something to make for dinner, then write some sort of affirmation. (Like today it was “I am in charge of my time. I have 24 hours and I get to choose what to do with them.”)

If I wake up early enough, I’ll spend some time writing, or drawing, or doing some strategic planning for my business.

Tell us about your commute.

I walk all the way downstairs to my studio! Working from home has its advantages for sure (I get to be at home with my spunky little 3 year old!) but it’s tough in some ways, too. I never fully leave the “office” since it’s right off the family room.

One of my big goals for this year is to move my studio into our spare bedroom so that I can have a door to shut. I’m hoping it helps me separate work from home a little better!

Sometimes to clear my head and get focused I set up in my favorite little local coffee shop. A cute environment, free wifi, and amazing coffee is all it takes sometimes!

Do you like to plan your day ahead or allow for some spontaneity?

My family and I joke about this, because I FEEL like I’m spontaneous at heart. But I actually really like to have a plan! It’s comforting to know what to expect.

That said, I often find myself over-planning and getting totally stressed out. (Plus nothing goes according to plan when it comes to life with a 3 year old!) I’m working on finding that sweet spot between under-planning and over-planning. Like planning time to complete my top 3 tasks for the day, and leaving the rest to happen spontaneously.

I find the gentler I am with myself and the more I embrace the idea that there’s enough time to do everything I need to do, the easier time flows and the more I can get done in a day.

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

My dream lunch break? Eating a healthy lunch and reading a book. Or going out to lunch with a friend and chatting about life and big dreams.

My real life lunch time? Usually it’s grabbing something quick to eat while answering client emails, or on-the-go while running errands. That’s another big goal of mine - to take back control of my lunches and give myself a real lunch time!

What kind of workout schedule do you (try to!) adhere to?

Before having a kid, I went to the gym 5 days a week at 5am! That was a little extreme.

Now I’m at the other end of the spectrum. My workouts consist of playing tag with 3 year olds or carrying packages to the post office. I just got an UP24 band that tracks my steps and sleep - it’s shockingly motivating! So I’m incorporating a lot more walks to the park and sneaking steps in wherever I can.

How do you like to end your day?

Start the day with coffee and end it with wine! After my daughter goes to bed, it’s time to unwind with a glass of wine and some TV on the couch with my wife! We may be the last people on the planet who still love Grey’s Anatomy!

When I’m truly spoiling myself, I climb into bed early with ice cream and a good book.

What time do you doze off?

I try to be in bed by 10! If I don’t go to bed by 10, I get a second wind and can’t sleep for hours. I survived way too long on no sleep during the baby/toddler years. Now I need a full 8 or 8 ½ hours to do my best work.

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

Yoga. It’s my favorite way to start the day, actually. But I've let it slide!

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

You are enough. You are good enough. You are doing enough.

I think when we find life to be hectic and crazy it’s because we feel like we have to do everything and be everything to everybody. It would break our hearts if our daughters felt that much stress, right? So when things get insane, I try to slow down and treat myself with the same kindness and compassion I give my daughter.

Then I remind myself of my favorite line from my new favorite book (The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks):

“You’ll never have enough money to buy all the stuff you don’t really need, and you’ll never have enough time to do all the things you really don’t want to do.”

My mind was totally blown when I read that. It’s so true! And so I believe the inverse is also true: we have plenty of money to buy what we really need, and plenty of time to do all the things we really want to do. Just knowing that takes some of the pressure off to do it all and to do it right this very minute.

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

I cook up a big pot of whole wheat pasta, then everyone chooses and fixes their own toppings. Parmesan and butter, tomato sauce, heat up frozen meatballs, chop up tomatoes and spinach, whatever people are in the mood for!

It gets everyone in the kitchen and talking and making food together, which is my favorite thing about evenings.

Thanks Emily! I truly love your ideas about being gentler with ourselves and particularly want to try the ice cream and book in bed trick! 

You can find Emily at:

Website - http://freshpaperstudios.com

Instagram - instagram.com/freshpaperstudios

Facebook - facebook.com/freshpaper

Pinterest - pinterest.com/freshpaper