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2021 Word of the Year: Intentional

Friday, February 19, 2021


 

It's totally ok to choose my word of the year a couple of months into 2021, right?

Truth be told, I've never chosen a word of the year. I've always been a traditional resolutions-making gal; nothing too intense, rather goals and visions for the year ahead.

But the more I read about others' words and thought about the concept, the more it appealed to me. I mean... I love words. I'm all about words! So why not? But it took a while to choose a word that really resonated with me, had genuine meaning to me, and aligned with my vision for the year ahead -- a year which will, no doubt, be unlike any other.

So after considering several possibilities, I ultimately chose the word intentional.

The definition of the word intentional is pretty straight forward: to be done with purpose, deliberately. It's a word that kept popping up in books I was reading and podcasts I was listening to. It's a word that, I realized, is connected to joy. And who doesn't want as much of that as possible? 

The more I thought about it, the more living with intention made sense, especially for this season of life. Reflecting on the things I want to improve, the things that seem to take away from joy, made me realize that adding intentionality into those areas would help. For instance: eating intentionally (leading to healthier, more satisfying choices and more energy). Spending my time intentionally (when I'm with the kids, be purposefully with them... when I'm working, spending that time focused on work, etc.) to avoid feeling burnt out, hurried, and unaccomplished. Spending money more intentionally, which is actually something I feel I did really well with last year (not just buying something because it worked, or was on sale, or was "just ok" but spending money -- which is what we receive as a trade for the most valuable thing of all, our time -- on things that truly bring me joy).


The importance of forming my goals for the year with intention also became really apparent. What do I want to accomplish this year, and why? What can I purposefully do that will add value and joy to my (and my family's) life? What speaks to me as an individual? Scrolling social media or only doing things that I'm supposed to do might pass the time, but they don't fill me up. They don't add value. Our time is so precious and ultimately so short -- I'm becoming more and more convinced that we need to spend it as intentionally as possible.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still an advocate for the YOLO way of life. ;) Sometimes, we just want and need to let go and live life a little less planned and a little less scripted. Sometimes the very best memories are made this way. Sometimes, in the letting go, we discover parts of ourselves we didn't know existed. I know all of this is true, and in fact, living intentionally will only help with this. The goal isn't to live a scripted planned-to-death life, but an authentic and genuine one. Yes, I think we can still be intentional even with the YOLO part of our lives. 


I could go on and on about this (again, obsessed with words, haha). Have you chosen a word of the year? I would love to hear what it is and why you chose it!

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

Thursday, February 18, 2021

 



If you need a warm, savory meal for a cold winter day... look no further! 

When I started to make this Loaded Baked Potato Soup, I actually intended to follow a recipe I had found. But then I bought a few wrong ingredients and realized the recipe I had wasn't for a slow cooker -- and slow cookers are my jam when it comes to soup (and a lot of other meals!). Nothing beats throwing ingredients into a big pot and forgetting about it until dinnertime rolls around, especially with the craziness of these days we're in.

So I did what I tend to do a lot these days and improvised! And I'm so glad I did, because this soup turned out so yummy, and I realized by subbing a milk base for a broth base and cutting out butter, I saved a ton of calories but sacrificed none of the flavor (and trust, there are still plenty of calories in this soup, haha). I will warn you, I pretty much eye-balled amounts of everything, so feel free to adjust as you see fit. That's the beauty of soup -- with the basic ingredients in place, it's hard to go wrong.

Here's What You Need:

-32 oz chicken broth

-Small Yukon Gold potatoes

-Thick cut bacon

-White or yellow onion

-Cheddar cheese, shredded

-1/2 cup - 1 cup heavy cream

-Sour cream

-Flour

-Garlic salt

-Cracked pepper


Here's What You Do:

-Bake bacon in oven heated to 400 for 25 minutes (my tried & true bacon-cooking method, and it took a lot of trial & error and fire alarms going off, is to place bacon on a baking sheet and cover with another baking sheet)

-While bacon is cooking, wash and cut potatoes into cubes, dump into crockpot

-Chop white (or yellow) onion -- I used about 1/2 an onion -- and add to crockpot

-Once bacon is done cooking, tear apart 4-6 slices and add to crockpot

-Pour whole carton of chicken broth into crockpot (should just cover the dry ingredients) and mix everything together

-Cook on high for 3.5-4 hours, or low 5-6 hours

-About a half hour before you want to serve, whisk together 1 tablespoon flour and 1/4-1/2 cup of heavy cream, pour into crockpot

-Add approx. 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

-Add few dollops (what a fun word) of sour cream

-Add garlic salt and cracked pepper to taste

-Stir all together and cook for another 30 minutes or so

-Enjoy topped with shredded cheddar and crumbled bacon!

February Favorites

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Happy February!

I'm not much of a fan of winter, but I can't help but be fond of February. Valentine's Day is always fun (more so each year!) with our three little valentines, and there are some very special birthdays in our family this month... one of which we'll be celebrating snowed in this weekend!

I've been wanting to share a few recent favorites with you. Some are things I've recently purchased and love, some are things I've read, and some are things on the wish list.

Hope you're staying happy, healthy, and cozy this month. I see a light at the end of this pandemic tunnel, and it is filling my weary heart with hope. Better days are coming, my friends, and in the meantime I hope we're able to embrace these days with as much courage and joy as humanly possible. :) xoxo




Loft earring set | Sugar lip polish | Sleep shirt

Cozy slipper slides | Untamed | Yeti mug | The Magnolia Story

10 Ways to Get Unstuck

Friday, January 29, 2021



The past year has taken a toll on all of us in one way or another. Moms have taken on everything from juggling working remotely with navigating virtual learning, to worrying about our families’ mental and physical wellbeing, and so much more.


It’s exhausting. And even though moms are incredible, we’re still human and at some point each of us has likely found ourselves feeling… stuck. 


If you’ve felt that way lately – I know I have! – here are ten things to try to get unstuck:


Put it on paper


Call it journaling, call it a brain dump, call it making a list; whatever you call it, getting your thoughts out of your head and onto paper is extremely cathartic and absolutely necessary for clearing your mind. The beauty of this exercise is that it doesn’t need to look pretty; it can be scribbled or drawn. But here’s the catch: no matter how you do it, it should be on actual paper. The physical act of scrawling out your thoughts is just as therapeutic as the mental act of emptying your mind of them.


Take a (tech free) walk


Early this summer, I began channeling the anxiety I was feeling into moving my legs and taking a daily walk. Though I brought my phone along with me, I tried not to look at it, instead paying as much attention to my surroundings as possible. On these walks I noticed blooming trees, inspirational sidewalk chalk messages, rainbows hung in windows meant to encourage neighbors. I smiled and said hello to those I walked by, and the connection—though brief—made so much difference in my mood. 


Phone a friend


Girlfriends are our lifelines. During these difficult times, let’s not forget the power a chat and a belly laugh with those who know us best can have. Just when connecting with others seems hardest, is when it’s most important. Make the effort to ask a friend when she’d be free for a catch-up call (my girlfriends and I refer to them “phone dates”), and notice how your mind and heart are eased when you hang up the phone.


Prioritize getting dressed


There have been more times than I’d like to admit during this ordeal when I’ve woken up and gone the whole day without changing, only to fall asleep in the same pajamas that evening (tell me I’m not the only one!). Trust me when I say: it has never helped my spirits. No matter how busy, crazed, or rushed through the day we may be, prioritizing getting dressed and ready for the day – even if it’s just brushing our teeth and throwing our hair into a ponytail – is crucial. 


Make plans for the future


I’m convinced that, as human beings, we need things to look forward to. Our spirits thrive when we know that something happy, hopeful, fun, or restful is in store for us. Especially during these times, when so much has been cancelled and we feel like we’ve really missed out on a lot, it’s so restorative to sit down and plan something for the future whether it be a trip, a visit with faraway family, or a big goal and how we are going to meet it. 


Repeat a mantra


I know you’ve already heard about mantras and their benefits, but if you’re anything like me, you might not have known what a mantra should even sound like. Here’s the good news: it can sound like anything, as long as it empowers you, sooths you, or otherwise helps you get through the hard stuff. My two favorites are “I can do hard things” and “this too shall pass.”


Consume uplifting media


Media – from social media to the news – is an inevitable part of our lives in 2020, and it’s safe to say there has been a ton of media to consume this year that has been hard, sad, scary, divisive, and stressful. Try taking some time away from the types of media that make you feel down. I like to turn up my most upbeat songs and read the stories of people who inspire me. The types of media we consume day after day become the lenses through which we see the world, and inevitably effect how we feel.


Turn your sights toward others


Nothing helps me get out of my own head like making an effort to help others. With so many needs out there, it can become easy to get overwhelmed by the thought of lending a hand. Don’t underestimate the power of small gestures: helping somebody reach something on the supermarket shelf, or giving someone an eye-crinkled masked smile can be extraordinarily powerful. I call this “planting seeds.” Bonus: a healthy dose of perspective never hurt any of us!


Focus on small moments of joy


We’ve lost a lot this year, and those losses can sometimes overshadow what we still have. One way to reclaim happiness is to practice noticing small moments of joy. Think: the way the creamer swirls into your black coffee in the morning; the way your daughter’s hair smells like shampoo; the coziness of your favorite blanket wrapped around you. Though these aren’t grand moments, they add up.


Remember gratitude


It’s easy to be grateful when life is easy, fun, and happy and everything is going as we think it should. Gratitude, though, is a buoy available for us to grab onto when the waters get deep and dark. So long as we’re holding onto gratitude, we keep sight of hope on the horizon.


Of course, there are times when we will need more than just “mood lifters” and we should never feel ashamed to ask for as much help as we need – whether from our family or a professional. But if you’re simply feeling stuck or having an off day (or week), I hope you’ll remember a few of these tried-and-true tactics.


What do you do to help yourself out of a rut?

Wins & Losses: A Look Back on 2020

Friday, January 1, 2021


Hello, my friends! Breaking my blogging silence as I feel like crossing from 2020 into 2021 is too big a milestone to sit on the sidelines for. How was your holiday? I hope that despite the different circumstances this year, it was still special in its own way. Ours was so much quieter than usual, but still sweet -- lots of Christmas light-looking drives complete with hot chocolate sloshing around, Christmas morning with wrapping paper flying all over the place, plenty of bounce house jumping, and slow and lazy home cooking. 

So here we are! We made it to 2021. It feels sort of like crossing a finish line, right? It was such a strange thing this year, not wanting to rush time or wish it away (especially with little kids who are growing at an unacceptably fast rate!), and yet looking forward to so much in future days. Speaking of looking forward -- how do you like the new LL logo (above)? I'm excited about it and what's to come for The Lucky Lifestyle!

What a year it was. One unlike any other in most of our lifetimes. I remember right before everything shut down in March when the pandemic was more of a murmur than a shout, I called my oldest daughter out of school and took my three little girlfriends down to the beach for the day. It was completely on a whim, but looking back now it seems like it fit into the puzzle of the year perfectly. For that one day, we drove and played on the freezing cold beach and ate gas station food for dinner (I sort of cringe looking back on all of us huddled into the Wawa restroom touching all of the surfaces haha), and laughed and celebrated doing whatever we wanted on a random weekday. Little did we know that shortly after that trip we'd be homebound for a quite a while, so yes... that's a special memory.

I wanted to share my highs and lows from 2020 here in this space, and would love for you to share yours too. What were your favorite moments of 2020? What were your hardest moments? What lessons did the year teach you? What are your hopes for 2021?

I thought for sure the losses of this year would outweigh the wins, but when I put pen to paper (I always jot down a little written recap of our year, and goals for the next year)... there was still so much joy to be found. It's important to acknowledge that I know that this was the most challenging and down right saddest year for many I know and love, and for so many others I don't know personally. My heart aches for those whose lives have been truly turned upside down by this pandemic and all of its ripple effects, and I have and will continue to look for ways to lend a hand (or an ear) however I can.

As far as our year, our challenges included:

-The loss of an immediate family member and the associated pain of those we love

-The loss of our sweet pup, Layla

-The loneliness of missing being together with our family and friends

-The resentment over missing out on moments and memories to be made with them

-Navigating parenting three littles in a pandemic and worry for them (their health, their mental wellness, their education, their sense of "normalcy")

-The lack of balance in our personal/professional/parenting lives as we attempted to juggle and take on all of the things with no relief

And this year's bright spots included:

-Rescuing our new pup, Max, who has brought fun, mischief, and companionship (plus lots and lots of walks -- good for the body and soul!)

-Helping others how we could (volunteering, helping job seekers in our community build and proofread their resumes, donating to support Black businesses, giving our items to those in need, supporting our friends and neighbors through small gestures and smiles)

-More precious time with our growing babies

-With the break from activities, preschool, and our usual trips, we were able to save money

-Completing two home updates that have been on our list (kitchen and powder bath)

-Trying new things: from books we've been wanting to read, to shows we've been wanting to watch, to lots of new recipes, virtual workout classes (barre! HIIT!), local restaurants, and more

-A shift in my career which has brought a renewed sense of enthusiasm, and also peace

-Good health (so very thankful)

I hope, too, that we have grown our perseverance and resilience during this crazy year. Maybe it's too soon to recognize it, but I know it's there for all of us. There was a lot to be disappointed about, but reflecting on what we gained and learned and embraced and accepted and fought for are so important for moving forward -- the only directly we can and should move.

Hope you woke up this morning feeling peaceful and inspired. Happy, happy New Year!

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