20 for 2020, and 8 more for my 28th…

As 2019 comes to a close along with this decade, I find myself pondering my life…what it has been, what I hope for it to be, and what I want to make of the next year. I absolutely love that lazy week between Christmas and the New Year, as well as all the promise of a fresh year. This time, a decade.

This year, Christmas ended with the passing of my Great Grandma. She was an incredible woman who was spunky and fun in her old age (although she never seemed old). I cherish the memories I have of her – of afternoon tea, talking about boys, listening to her play hymns and ragtime tunes on the piano (she would play for the “old folks” at 90 years old), and jamming with her, too…of listening to her laugh, holding her velvety soft hands, and that mischievous twinkle in her eye after slapping my butt for saying something sassy. She passed in her sleep early in the morning on Boxing Day at almost 94 years old, and I know that she is resting peacefully in Heaven.

As we move into this new decade, I have come written up a list of goals for myself that I hope to accomplish over the next year. It can be so easy to just float through life without intention, but the time we’re given here is short. It flies by, and I want to make the most of it. These are not resolutions. I know I will succeed at some and fail at others.

So with that, here are my 20 things to work on in 2020, and 8 more in celebration of my upcoming 28th birthday:

  1. To exercise consistently. I have gotten much better at this over the years, but have struggled with this over the last year as I have been recovering from a season of dieting and unhealthy habits. My plan is to start incorporating light cardio daily or every other day until I am ready to start weight training again. I will include this in my planner as a “non-negotiable” (within reason).
  2. To design a meal plan for myself that is nourishing and sustainable, and to also learn how to design meal plans for others.
  3. To finish sewing the quilt I’ve been working on for over a decade…I think I’m just going to have to schedule time in weekly to get it done.
  4. To get a better handle on my finances by coming up with a budget.
  5. To pay off my debt (thankfully I don’t have much)
  6. To start saving up for a house.
  7. To write at least one blog post each month.
  8. To get clear about how I want to use my passion for integrative health in business.
  9. To exit this season of limbo I’m currently in, and to start building my future somewhere I can feel settled.
  10. To work with a personal stylist to cultivate my style, and learn how to shop in a way that is thrifty, flatters my figure, and expresses who I am.
  11. To learn some new make up skills.
  12. To practice more, and to set musical goals for myself.
  13. To do a purge of my belongings, eliminating things that I no longer need or want. In my experience, giving away has always brought in more abundance.
  14. To schedule in one “friend date” each week.
  15. To schedule in one DIY “spa night” each week.
  16. To limit myself to no more than one cup of caffeine each day.
  17. To commit myself to nightly stretching and self-abdominal-massage (more on that later).
  18. To purge and revamp my social media.
  19. To improve my time-management skills, and learn how to be better about planning ahead, especially in regards to gift-giving.
  20. To prioritize quality time with people over alone time (that can be difficult for us introverts!)
  21. To seek out ways of showing kindness to others.
  22. To give generously where I feel led.
  23. To seek God by immersing myself in His word.
  24. To be genuine in my friendships/relationships, and to be unafraid to set boundaries when needed.
  25. To make my bed every day (I feel like this actually might be the most difficult one for me! hahah)
  26. To be bold in sharing what I’m passionate about.
  27. To organize my belongings in a way that allows me to utilize them (I’ll plan on doing this as I purge belongings).
  28. To improve my money-making skills so that budgeting and saving up become less daunting.

I wish you peace, joy, love, and comfort as you finish out this decade, and I wish you success and blessing as you enter into the next.



6 Tips to a More Organized Week


What an incredible season summer is. For those of us whose main workload is during the school year, it can be a time of rest and adventure. But it always brings along opportunities to learn and grow. I was just sitting down to plan out my “to do’s” next week, and thought I’d share this goldmine that has been weekly planning for me.

As summer approached, I began to realize that, aside from work, I struggled to accomplish goals I set for myself, and couldn’t really figure out why. I had much more time than usual, and definitely had the energy, so why did I struggle so?

At the beginning of July, I saw a therapist to help me work through some things on my heart. It was something I had been considering for about a year, but my ideas about therapy and the kind of people who go to therapy held me back from taking that step. It was a wonderful time for me, of being able to tell my story, of being encouraged to see things from a different perspective, and to release some things that had been bound up in me. But there was one very important question she asked me that has stuck; “What is your dream?”. And I realized, I’m not quite sure yet. I thought I knew what my dream was, but what I actually knew was a laundry list of items I wanted to “check off” in life. I still don’t know what my dream is, but I have committed myself to being more organized so I can make a routine of the tasks and activities that will bring me closer to whatever that dream is (like practicing my violin, exercising, studying, and reading).

So with that, I’d like to share with you some simple ways I have organized my weeks. I know that when school starts up in a few weeks, I’ll have to budget less time for certain activities, but I hope to carry this practice throughout the school year, because it has really been life-changing for me!

  1. Write down a plan for the week. Include every single task you hope to accomplish for each day. Cleaning, practicing a musical instrument, running to the bank, grocery shopping, meal prepping, responding to emails, gym time, reading, going for walks, work, appointments, etc.
  2. Include one DIY “spa night” each week. A nice hot salt bath, a clay mask, a facial. Light a candle and some incense. Bring a book or Netflix and a square of dark chocolate with you to the bath.
  3. Include relationship-building activities like coffee dates, date dates, etc. I have discovered that these are extremely important to me in my single life, and have noticed that I function much better when I include as much social time as possible in my schedule.
  4. Plan your meals! And include a grocery trip and a meal prep day in your weekly plan! Cassy Joy Garcia’s book “Cook Once, Eat All Week” has been a timesaver for me! Each week in the book makes a whole week’s worth of lunches and dinners for one person (about 3 days worth for a couple) based on three main ingredients for under $100, and they are delicious, healthy, and varied. I highly recommend ordering her book on Amazon and putting it to good use! I’ll also be adding protein shakes to my weekly menu because I’m getting tired of cooking for myself, and love the thought of having a super easy on-the-go option.
  5. Invest in a cute planner. I haven’t done this yet. Right now I’m writing down my weekly plans in a plain old notebook. It works. But 2020 will be much more fun 😉
  6. DON’T FORGET TO SCHEDULE IN SOME ADVENTURES! Life is short, and the world is big!

I hope you found these tips helpful! Let me know if you put any of them to use, or if you think of something that I missed!

Have a wonderful week!



Days of Wine and Roses (And a Seed Cycling How To)

I am obviously doing a fantastic job of sticking to my resolve to blog once a week…although I’m not too annoyed with myself. Sometimes it’s just better to live life than write about it.

Those “Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer” are here and so full. I try to remember to thank God every day for all the prayers that have been answered this year. I’m so thankful for this time of life – time to hike up mountains with beloved friends, to make noodles from scratch, to get accidentally tipsy on homemade limoncello over life-giving conversation, to get my hands dirty and plant a garden, to skinny dip in the hot afternoon sun, to play music, to make soap from scratch with my mother. To learn, to take care of business, to be fearless, to explore. I’m thankful for this season of rest and cultivation after a season that was full of difficulty and pain.

But this post is meant for you. The woman who is feeling the need to nourish and balance her hormones, or to just tune in to her cycle and honor her incredible design. We as women are made so beautifully and uniquely, and as I learn more through personal study and my course with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, I am becoming more and more aware of how important it is for women to embrace their womanhood. As Psalm 139:14 states, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” Unfortunately, most of us have been raised in a culture that is unfriendly towards the feminine, and can even be detrimental to women’s health and wellbeing. Our culture has been one that frowns on rest, play, creativity, and nourishment, and instead has replaced them with over-work, over-exercise, and under-nourishment.

I feel like I could talk about this for days. My dream is for our society to develop a culture that is well-suited to both the female and male strengths. One where our gifts of nuture, playfulness, and creativity encourage and lift men up, and where their gifts of protection, victory, and strength create a safe haven for us. But that is not what this post is about. I write this for all the women in my life who I’ve shared with,  who have asked me to share my experience, and what I have learned about Seed Cycling.

I began seed cycling in February in an attempt to improve my hormones. When I moved to Napa last Summer, I experienced a crash after a long period of dieting, over-exercising, ridiculously long commutes, and a lack of community and social life. I had some hormone testing done which showed a Pregnenolone Steal (your body needs more cortisol to deal with stressful situations, so it steals Pregnenolone to compensate). From what I’ve learned, this often follows a time of high cortisol, which is what I had been experiencing for about two years. Seed cycling is a method of using specific seeds during specific phases of the female cycle to support healthy hormone production. For me, it has boosted my mood and energy, further regulated my cycle (Menstruation comes on the day it is expected), cleared up hormonal acne, and my “lady balls” are the most satisfying thing I eat each day! It is a simple, natural, and delicious way to nourish your hormones. It is not a quick fix, and from what I’ve learned, is not effective while taking HBC (hormonal birth control).

This is not meant to treat or prevent disease. My intention through this post and this blog is to share with you some things that have helped me to live a better life, in the hope that it might help you as well!

Here’s the gist:

Your cycle is split up in to 2 big phases; Follicular (days 1-14) and Luteal (days 15-28), and 4 sub-phases; Menstrual, Follicular, Ovulatory, and Luteal.

For Seed Cycling, you consume a Tablespoon EACH of fresh, raw, ground up Pumpkin and Flax seeds during your Follicular phase, and Sunflower and Sesame seeds during your Luteal phase. Some people choose to sprinkle them in smoothies and on salads, but I like making them into a 1-hit snack.

If your cycle is fairly regular, you can just start there. On day 1 or day 15. I jumped in on day 15 when I first started.

If your cycle is irregular (shorter than 25 days, or longer than 30 days), then you can cycle with the Moon. Start cycling your Pumpkin and Flax seeds with the New Moon, or your Sunflower and Sesame seeds with the Full Moon.

Here is a great resource on Seed Cycling for the Beginner:


If you have no idea where you are in your cycle, or where the Moon is, here are my favorite apps for tracking my cycle.

DaysyView is the app that goes along with the Daysy Fertility Monitor. I use this to track my BBT. Daysy is beautiful German device, but I (and many more users) have had difficulty with syncing the device to the app, as it’s still a fairly new product.

Flo is where I track everything that goes along with my cycle – menstruation, CM, mood, exercise, etc. I also use the Cronometer app to track my food and exercise, and this app connects to Flo, which I love!

Moon is just what it says. It is a very simple app showing what phase the Moon is in, at what percentage, and when the next Moon is due.


Now that you know how to get started, I’m going to give you a recipe for each of the two phases. This recipe makes 14 good-sized snack balls. One for each day of that phase of your cycle. Eat one each day, and when you have a couple left, make a batch for the next phase of your cycle. The recipe is one I originally got from The Natural Fit Foodie. She’s a great resource for cycle syncing. I love her recipe, but made a few tweaks to tailor the consistency to my liking, and I wanted to throw in one more superfood! Here is the original recipe: https://naturalfitfoodie.com/fudgy-almond-butter-fat-bombs/

Pictured below are my “Flumpkin Lady Balls”

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Flumpkin Lady Balls (Follicular Phase/Days 1-14):


14 heaping Tbsp. ground Pumpkin Seeds

14 heaping Tbsp. ground Flax Seeds

2 Tbsp. shredded Coconut (I like to grind this with my seeds)

1/3 c. raw Cacao

1/2 c. raw Almond Butter

1/4 c. just melted (but not hot!) Virgin Coconut Oil

1 Tbsp. Lion’s Mane Mushroom Powder (I get mine from Thrive Market)

1 Tbsp. Lucuma Powder (Amazon!)

1 Tbsp. Baobab Powder (Thrive Market! Extra Vitamin C boost!)

1 heaping Tbsp. ground Cinnamon

2 Tbsp. raw Honey

1 Tbsp. Vanilla extract


Mix everything together in the bowl of a standing mixer, or in a big bowl with a handheld mixer. I like to mix the dry ingredients together, then add the wet, slowly pouring in the melted coconut oil last. Form in to balls using a cookie dough scooper or ice cream scoop the size of a golf ball(ish). Refrigerate on a cookie sheet before transferring to an airtight container or jar.

❤ ❤ ❤

Sunsame Lady Balls (Luteal Phase/Days 15-28):


14 heaping Tbsp. ground Sunflower Seeds

14 heaping Tbsp. ground Sesame Seeds

2 Tbsp. shredded Coconut (I like to grind this with my seeds)

1/3 c. raw Cacao

1/2 c. raw Almond Butter

1/4 c. just melted (but not hot!) Virgin Coconut Oil

1 Tbsp. Lion’s Mane Mushroom Powder (I get mine from Thrive Market)

1 Tbsp. Lucuma Powder (Amazon!)

1 Tbsp. Baobab Powder (Thrive Market! Extra Vitamin C boost!)

1 heaping Tbsp. ground Cinnamon

2 Tbsp. raw Honey

1 Tbsp. Vanilla extract


Mix everything together in the bowl of a standing mixer, or in a big bowl with a handheld mixer. I like to mix the dry ingredients together, then add the wet, slowly pouring in the melted coconut oil last. Form in to balls using a cookie dough scooper or ice cream scoop the size of a golf ball(ish). Refrigerate on a cookie sheet before transferring to an airtight container or jar.

❤ ❤ ❤

And there you are! It’s fairly simple, just make sure to plan ahead so you always have the ingredients on hand! As soon as I see myself running low on an ingredient, I add it to my grocery list, and order it or grab it from the store the next time I have a chance. When using food this way, I truly believe consistency is key. Be consistent, give it time, and I hope it will bring improvement to your cycle! Please reach out if you decide to give it a go, and let me know what you think!


Mandie ❤



Life Cycles

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I meant to write last weekend, but never got around to it. Life has been so full lately that I’ve barely had a moment to myself. Daily journaling is being squeezed into cracks of time, and what was once a weekly meal prep day has become piecemeal cooking, and packing charcuterie for lunch because at this point in my life, I’d rather spend my time with people than cooking for myself. Interesting how there are seasons in life, and how quickly they can change.  I’m definitely not complaining though, these rituals that were my pillars this time last year have been pleasantly replaced with friendship and adventure, two things I was fervently praying for.

The start of March brought a whirlwind of activities, in addition to my Menstrual Phase, as well as a resurgence of some yearly cyclical battles. An absolutely fantastic combination of wonderful and frustrating (I am being a bit sarcastic here), causing me to feel so grateful for my life and all I’ve experienced one day, and like I’d just rather not the next. Thankfully though, through all of the self study I’ve done over the past couple years, I’m able to pinpoint hormonal fluctuations and how they affect my mood and emotions, which gives me both grace for myself, and insight to ask for grace from others when I need it.

This weekend brought brand new life and the promise of Spring through the birth of two kids back on the family farm. A little boy, and a little girl. They are velvety soft, and absolutely irresistible. If you ever feel lost or confused in life, visit a farm and ask to play with the babies. There’s just something so peaceful and inspiring about the dirt, the fresh air, and watching the animals.

I’m looking forward to this coming season, despite how scattered and uncertain I feel. Even now, I have been desperately trying to focus in and get some studying done, but I just can’t seem to put my mind to it! Maybe it’s this glorious sunshine?!

Regarding health stuff, I have been feeling fantastic! I completed one whole cycle of seed cycling, and I’m about halfway through my second rotation. I’ll be sharing some thoughts and recipes as I learn more, but one thing that I’ve found interesting is that the seed cycling snacks I’ve made have been THE MOST satisfying thing I’ve eaten. And it makes me believe that there must be some benefit to nourishing our bodies on a hormonal level! I’ll be finishing up Pumpkin and Flax, and starting back on Sunflower and Sesame this coming Thursday.

For awhile, when I went back home to visit family, I was noticing that coffee (a homemade Americano with cream) was giving me jitters, so this weekend I tried adding a scoop of Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides to my morning coffee, and guess what?! No jitters! Give it a try if you like your coffee, but don’t always like how it makes you feel 🙂

I think that’s all for now. Honestly, sometimes I feel a bit ridiculous writing here. Especially days like these when I feel like I have absolutely nothing of importance to say. I have no idea who actually reads these posts, and I am often afraid of what people might think of me when I share my inner thoughts and my nerdy experiments. However, my hope is that by sharing my journey, I’ll be able to connect with others on similar paths.

I hope this post finds you well and with a successful week ahead of you ❤




Mares Eat Oats and Does Eat Oats (a recipe for Blueberry Baked Overnight Oats)

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This week started out with a lovely day in Bodega Bay, collecting rocks, trying delicious homemade Russian Food and playing music at Russian House #1, and enjoying fresh air and a bit of light exercise. The rest of the week continued as usual with teaching, a few good workouts, and a sauna sesh. All normal things, but I’ve been extra moody this week (hello, hormones!). That’s ok, though. I like being aware because it gives me power over what I think are “my emotions”, and it also helps me to remember to have a bit of grace with myself.

Health-wise, I started seed cycling a couple weeks ago! For those of you who don’t know, seed cycling is a holistic method of balancing hormones by rotating consumption of seeds throughout your cycle. I started in the middle of my cycle with Sesame and Sunflower seeds that I made into snacks, following Natural Fit Foodie’s recipe. When I do my meal prep this week, I’m going to make the same recipe again, but with Pumpkin seeds and ground Flaxseed for the start of my next cycle. They’re great as snacks, and I love having extra superfoods in my diet!

There’s tons of information out there about seed cycling and eating for your cycle, but I love this post from Natural Fit Foodie.

How to Cycle Sync Your Diet (with recipes)

I could geek out on this stuff for days, but for now, on to the main event – this delicious Blueberry Baked Overnight Oats recipe (where’s the heart eyes emoji?!)

I’m back home visiting family for the weekend, and because they have NO food in the house (although there’s generally an abundance of farm fresh eggs and meyer lemons, I seriously feel like I’m foraging every time I come home! haha) I decided I needed to make a couple family sized meals so we could eat healthy meals together, and so they could have some leftovers for the start of the week. I made Fed & Fit (Cassy Joy Garcia’s) recipe for Taco Beef Casserole last night, which was a huge hit, and my own recipe for Blueberry Baked Overnight Oats for breakfast this morning. I have been loving oats this winter because they make my stomach feel settled and satisfied. They don’t always work for everyone (this recipe is not Paleo, or Keto, or Vegan, or Grain-Free), but I’m eating to feel good, and over the food fear!

There are lots of recipes out there for baked oats, but what is special about my recipe is that I used the traditional method of soaking the oats overnight to break down the phytic acid and make the oats more easily digestible. Soaking oats overnight makes them tender, which makes this recipe a bit chewy (al dente), soothing and warm, and kind of like a breakfast pudding. It can feed a family of 6 in one pan. You can tweak it to your liking. You can eat it plain, or with all the add-ons. You can have it fresh out of the oven, or make it on a Sunday and have breakfasts on-the-go for a week!

Blueberry Baked Overnight Oats:


2 c. Gluten-Free Organic Rolled Oats

1 3/4 c. Water

1/4 c. Plain Kefir

A couple scoops of collagen (optional)

1 T. Ground Cinnamon

1 t. Baking Powder

1/2 t. Sea Salt

1/4 c. (or less) Raw Maple Syrup or Honey

1 t. Vanilla

2 Farm Fresh Eggs

3 T. Melted Butter

1 Pint Fresh Blueberries (or Berry of your choice!)


The night before, soak the oats in the water and kefir in a sealed glass dish.

In the morning, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F on the bake setting. Mix in the remaining ingredients with the soaked oats, and pour the mixture into a 9 x 5-inch buttered baking dish. Sprinkle cinnamon on the top, and bake for 35-45 minutes until set, but a little wobbly. Serve plain, or with your choice of toppings – milk or cream, toasted nuts, nut butter, maple syrup or honey, whipped cream….have fun with it!

Wishing you a restorative weekend, and a successful week ahead!


Mandie ❤

Bubbles, Brunch, and Babies

Boy, what a whirlwind of a week it’s been! It started off with work after a family trip to the beach, but the cracks in between have been pleasantly filled with exercise, long talks in the sauna, tennis, and tea. And while in the past, Valentine’s Day has been spent bemoaning singledom, this year brought a whole week of celebrating friendship and the people I love in the most wonderful ways, with waffles, gown hunting, hand-written notes, and digging deeper in friendship (vulnerability isn’t always the easiest, but it’s so worth it).

On Tuesday, two of my best friends and I shared High Tea together at The English Rose Tea Room in Pleasanton. We made our way through tiers of treats, exchanged gifts, and got caught up with each others’ goings-on. Then came bridesmaid dress shopping for my best friend of a decade or so’s May wedding. I’m so excited to be her Maid of Honor, and I love seeing how all of the pieces of her wedding are coming together so smoothly. We both loved the very first dress I tried on, and it amazes me that we had exactly the same vision for her bridesmaid dresses.

High Tea at The English Rose Tea Room in Pleasanton, CA 

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Friday brought pedicures with my cousin while we fawned over her baby, and coffee at the little cafe I used to work at.

And Saturday was a day of adventure.

I started the day with a Les Mills Bodypump class, and a little bit of time in the sauna before making my way to Santa Rosa for a trim at my favorite salon (Ritual), and brunch at The Naked Pig with my lovely West African friend. The drive was glorious, my time at the salon was relaxing and fun, and I was so inspired to listen to Raï talk about the African festival she is putting on in San Francisco this summer. For those of you who don’t know, Raï and I met when I modeled for her several months ago in the Palo Alto French Faire. Her assistant was unable to help her out for the event, and since I was the only model who lived nearby, she met me in Napa and we rode down together. She is the kind of person whose faith and passion inspires me, and I can’t wait to see where she will go in life.

Just about the only time my hair looks put together…..after a hair cut, or for a special event!

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Lunch at The Naked Pig in Santa Rosa, CA

This is a simple, chic Farm to Fork restaurant with a fantastic brunch menu. I got the Americana – farm fresh eggs, breakfast potatoes, quality bacon, and a side salad. I also got their Wild Fermented Cider.



Saturday ended with my first time attending the annual wine auction for the school where I teach. It was a festive evening of Champagne, lasso twirling, BBQ, and dancing, and was yet another reminder of why I love what I get to do. To be a part of such a kind and fun-loving community is an honor!

This morning started with a bang. I woke up around 1:55 am (or so) with a strange foreboding feeling, almost like I had woken up from a nightmare but I couldn’t remember what the nightmare was, and about a minute later, I hear a huge crash as the whole house began to shake…..it felt like a high speed train was roaring through the house. I threw off the covers, ready to run, but unsure of what I would be running from, or even if what I wanted to run from was real, but thankfully the quake passed quickly, and I went back to sleep after my heart stopped racing. I’m lucky that this little 3.8 Magnitude Yountville Earthquake was the biggest I’ve experienced so far, but it got me thinking…..what is the first thing I would grab if I had to leave home behind?

I am learning more and more just how important it is to prioritize relationships, and to actually live and experience life. We can store up treasures all we want, but tomorrow is not promised.

That being said, I’ve seen God answer so many prayers this year in precise detail. I asked Him for an older woman with a beautiful, peaceful oasis of a home to live with, I asked Him for a career doing what I love, I asked Him for amazing friends, a church family and home, and free time and freedom to really live life. I asked him for peace around food (still working on that one, but it’s getting there). And I asked him for time and recources to give, and to explore. Yes, it’s taken me stepping out in faith and following where He leads. Being ok with not being in control, and being ok with failing. But He is so faithful, and He cares so deeply for the desires of your heart ❤

Happy Sunday.



Hungarian Cabbage Roll Soup

Ok, following through with my commitment to myself to write something once a week…..

Today is an unusual day for me. I took the day off from teaching back home in Newcastle because tonight I have a Gatsby themed ball at the studio I’ve been taking Ballroom Dance lessons at. I’ll be dancing Cha Cha, Salsa, Rhumba, Waltz, Tango, and Samba! A long list, and I don’t feel prepared, but I know I’ll have fun anyway!

I’m feeling much more intuitive about what to eat and how to move my body lately, and I love not putting a label on my diet. I eat real food. And dark chocolate. If there’s a birthday party or a special event with dessert, I’ll eat the dessert if I want it. More often than not, I’m finding that I don’t, because I like feeling good. I have 4 slices of Tartine Bakery’s Chocolate Soufflé’ Cake from my birthday that I haven’t touched, for goodness’ sake! I know the time will come when I’ll want a slice, and it will be there for me then. But it feels so good to crave whole foods in moderate portions, and not feel like food rules me.

Anyway, last week I was craving a soup inspired by my family’s Hungarian Cabbage Rolls. I love soups in the winter, and once a week I’ve been concocting soups and stews in my brand new, beautiful Staub. A nice big pot of soup gives me inexpensive dinners for a whole week. They’re soothing, and I like that I can be in control of what goes in them. This is what I came up with after a bit of tweaking, and I really enjoyed it!

Hungarian Cabbage Roll Soup



A few tablespoons of Salted Butter (I used the little bit of TJ’s French Cultured Butter I had left, as well as some good ol’ Kerrygold!

A drizzle of EVOO

1 Organic Yellow Onion, chopped

Several cloves of Garlic (If you’re Italian like me, that means the whole head), minced

1 lb. Protein (I used TJ’s Grass-fed Ground Beef, but this would taste great with a combination of beef and pork, which is what my family uses in our Cabbage Roll recipe)

Smoked Paprika (I used TJ’s, because I forgot to bring back some for myself when I was in Budapest a couple summers ago *distressed cry* – but the Smoked stuff was super yummy)

Sea Salt and Pepper to taste (use your judgement)

1 large can of Organic Diced Tomatoes (I used TJ’s because I basically live there)

3 bags of TJ’s (again) Shredded Green Cabbage

About 1/4 c. Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar with The Mother

2 Cartons of Kettle and Fire Bone Broth (I used Chicken, because it’s what I had in the pantry, but next time I’ll use Beef)

You could also add white rice, which is something else we put in our Cabbage Rolls, but I omitted it this go around, because I generally have my grain in the form of Oats, or a Sweet Potato with breakfast. Personal Preference.


Raw Sauerkraut

Organic Sour Cream


To Make:

Sautée the Onions and Garlic in the Butter and EVOO (if you have people in the house, they’ll start asking what’s for dinner now). Add in your protein. Season with Paprika, Salt, and Pepper. Cook. Add in the Cabbage, Tomatoes, Rice (if using), and top it all with two cartons of Bone Broth and the ACV. Let it simmer covered for an hour and a half or so. Taste, and add more seasoning if needed.

Serve with a dollop of Organic Sour Cream, a spoonful of Raw Sauerkraut, and a dash of Paprika.

Simple, Soothing, and Yummy!




New Seasons


Boy, it’s been awhile since I’ve written here! I have lacked motivation to write. I originally started this blog to document my weight loss journey, and while I still desperately want to release some excess weight, I have found my priorities shift over the past couple years.

When I first started this blog, I thought I knew it all. All the tricks of the trade. But the more I learn, the more I realize I actually have no idea what I’m doing. What works for me might not necessarily work for you, and if we’re being honest, I don’t even know what works for me yet! I’ll just keep searching and learning and hope that someday I’ll get it all figured out, and if I can be a source of encouragement to someone else, then I will consider myself successful.

I don’t really have a plan for this post. I just felt a need to write. About my journey, priorities, hopes and dreams. My priorities have shifted over the past few years. It is no longer just about the number on the scale, and I’m not living each week to see that number go down at my weekly weigh-in. Not for lack of wanting to be thinner, or for lack of a desire to shed excess physical and emotional weight, but out of understanding that these things take time to be done in a healthy, sustainable way.  It’s now about preparing a week’s worth of healthy, nourishing meals on a budget. It’s about getting good sleep, taking long walks, and having inspiring conversations. It’s about learning, playing, and cultivating friendships. Balancing hormones. Spending time with Jesus. Holding on to hope and joy. And being at peace with the fact that, try as I might to be in control, most things are out of my hands, and it’s much more fun to just relax and see what comes.

So that’s where I’m at right now. The last 6 months have been a wild ride for me, a new home, new work, and new community turning my life upside down and testing my mettle. I have been forced to rest, and forced to sit with myself and examine who I am, but I have also been presented with countless opportunities to start working on growing into the woman I want to be. It’s been an adventure – full of miracles, challenges, new friends and family, and new ways of doing life, and I can’t wait to see where the journey will take me next.

My dream for this blog is to be vulnerable, to share my struggles and victories with you, and to encourage you to be a conqueror in your life. To share what I’m learning and experimenting with so that maybe it can be useful to you. And to connect. Because how much more fun could life be if we did it together?

And now for a bit about my latest experiments…..


I started charting my cycles with Daysy several months ago after dealing with extremely low energy and feeling “wired and tired” at night for several months. I approached this as an observation. I would see where I was at, and how I could tweak things. I also had an extensive hormone panel done at the same time which revealed some cortisol imbalances (nothing way off, but definitely improvements to be made). I have suspected Hypothyroidism, but I’m waiting to test for that, because I am already experiencing a huge increase in energy and vitality just through tweaking a few lifestyle factors.

I absolutely love my Daysy. She sits in my nightstand drawer, and checking in with her each morning forces me to observe where I am in my cycle. If she’s flashing green with the purple bar, I know I’m nearing the end of my Luteal phase and shouldn’t take myself too seriously. Or maybe just retreat to my bed with dark chocolate and a movie. Or have a bit of grace with myself if I’m feeling famished for no good reason. I was also able to learn through Daysy that my BBT (Basal Body Temperature) is on the low side, which I have been able to slowly raise, but I’m still working on that.

For more information on Daysy, visit http://www.usa.daysy.me

For more information on raising metabolism and BBT, check out Matt Stone at http://www.180degreehealth.com

Coming from a history of dieting and trying “all the things”, I have a hard time applying everything Matt Stone teaches, but a lot of it makes sense, and just incorporating a few foods I avoided like the plague into my diet (fruit and oats, and occasionally rice), and being ok with resting when I need it has raised my average BBT by 1 degree.


I’ve been taking a small handful of supplements, just to make sure I’m covering my bases. Vitamin D and K2, a prenatal (always, for hair, skin, and nails!), Dr. Becky Campbell’s Adrenal Support, New Chapter Zyflamend for inflammation, and 2 capsules of Royal Maca. If you’re feeling low on energy, try Maca. Seriously. I also recently started taking liquid iodine to support the Thyroid, and I like to take Natural Calm at night, but sometimes it takes me awhile to buy it again when I run out, so I’m not super consistent with that. In February I’ll be trying out a new prenatal, and also incorporating a women’s Probiotic, so we’ll see how that goes!

Lifestyle and Exercise:

Since my move to Napa, I’ve had to re-discover what works for me fitness-wise. I was in a groove with my personal trainer and group fitness classes at my gym back home, but for some reason I was hesitant to join a gym here in Napa. I’ve tried just going for walks, CrossFit, streaming Lekfit online, home workouts, and taking ballroom dance lessons, but I was not able to be consistent with any of those. CrossFit felt like way too much for me and where I’m at right now, and everything else didn’t feel like it gave me a good enough workout. So, I joined a gym, and I love it. The group classes, the community atmosphere, and use of a sauna. Ohhhh the sauna! I also try to get outside for a good hike as often as I can. So, if I have any advice to give on fitness, just find what you love, and get moving. Don’t force yourself to do something that doesn’t feel right just because everyone else says it’s the best thing in the world. You’ll know when you’ve found what’s right for you 🙂

I think that’s enough for now. I wish you hot tea and beautiful books on this stormy Sunday, a successful and blessed week ahead, and a marvelous February, bursting with love and joy! I’d love to connect, so feel free to join my private Facebook group Cupcakes and Conquerors, or follow me on IG where I like to share my cooking and adventures.



Sweet Serendipity

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Serendipity (noun): Finding something good without looking for it.

Here I am looking back on a lovely weekend spent in Laguna Beach, celebrating the marriage of an old friend. Dehydrated, because I refused to drink much water during the drive there and back. Having caffeine withdrawals because I’m in the midst of hormone testing, for self-study. Severely lacking sleep from a weekend of adventure. And so wishing I didn’t have to come home so soon!

To be honest, I was a bit nervous about this trip, being my first big solo road trip. Whether it was fear of being alone with myself or something else, I decided to just let it be what it was, and enjoy the time I had to just be me, and enjoy my life exactly where it was. And that’s always how it is. When fear and expectation are dismissed, fun and adventure take their place.

I spent the time on the road listening to podcasts and music, and packed a few munchies (A Hu Kitchen Salty Chocolate Bar, Bulletproof Collagen Protein Bars, Epic Bars, and some pre-measured baggies of dry roasted and salted Almonds from Trader Joes – and I have lots leftover for my trip to Glendora this weekend!).

I could have done without most of the scenery, but I did enjoy the drive through the Grapevine, remembering the story my dad always told me, about the little Watermelon truck that ran out of water and almost didn’t make it through the Grapevine. The little truck used the Watermelon juice as a substitute. Whether he meant it to be or not, my dad’s story represented perseverance and hope, and I looked forward to hearing it during the numerous trips my family took to Laguna Beach while getting ideas for our Laguna Beach-designed family home. And of course, the first sight of the ocean always gives me butterflies!

Friday evening welcomed in the most brilliant sunset, and a lightning and thunderstorm, so I spent the evening in a big fluffy bathrobe with room service for dinner, and a sheet mask. The Ranch at Laguna Beach treated me well. Rated one of the National Geographic’s “Unique Lodges of the World”, it was a little oasis tucked back in the hills with a beautiful beach trail, and the most comfy bed I’ve ever slept in.

A rainy Saturday morning put a hold on my plans to be a beach bum, but I decided to make the most of it. So I sat outside and enjoyed the rain and a cappuccino, omelette, and mini croissant at Moulin for breakfast (I chose a mini pastry because, while I’m not necessarily following a certain dietary “plan” right now, I do set guidelines for myself based on what I know helps me feel good, and I knew I wanted wedding cake later!). I didn’t deny myself, but I also didn’t give in to every whim. Something I’m still learning.


The rest of the morning was spent walking up every street I could, peeking in to every open shop, and soaking it all up (quite literally too). I even stumbled upon the Laguna Beach Farmer’s Market where I discovered some fun local flavors to take home! My favorites were Zukkee Bakery, which specializes in Gluten Free/Vegan/Paleo baked goods, and Brodino Broth Co. I got Zukkee Bakery’s Gluten Free Granola, and after chatting with them for a bit, they GAVE me a loaf of their Gluten Free Paleo bread to take home! It’s in my freezer now, and I can’t wait to pull it out and try it! I loved Brodino Broth Co.’s focus on clean, anti-inflammatory, and nutrient dense ingredients, and beautiful marketing. And I enjoyed the opportunity of meeting the owner! I plan to make a soup with the broth in the next couple weeks, and I’ll share my finds from both these companies as I enjoy them 🙂

My afternoon ended with a walk on the beach, and lunch at the Harvest Restaurant at my hotel before getting ready for Sarah and Ben’s wedding!

I wore a gorgeous West African dress designed by Raï Somdah, owner of Raïdah Designs, who I modeled for a few weeks ago. I loved her dresses so much that she invited me over for a fitting, a home cooked lunch, and a lot of fun. My make up and hair was done by Belo Blow Dry Bar in Laguna Beach. An adorable upper-level style bar. Needless to say, I had a blast.

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Sarah and Ben’s wedding took place at Seven Degrees in Laguna Canyon, and it was a dreamy night. I’ve known Sarah since we met at music camp when we were about 10/11, and it was so special to witness her big day, and see how her personality and style were represented in every detail. While the ceremony was reverent and intimate, taking place on the terrace under the moonlight and Chinese lanterns, it was so incredibly joyful, and the whole night thereafter was full of dancing and champagne, celebration and fun! And, it was the first time in many, many years that our childhood “sisterhood” was all together. You can bet there was reminiscing!

Sunday morning was spent with a coffee from Moulin, and one last walk on the beach. A trip down memory lane with all the songs I own on shuffle, and ticking off another bucket list item – visiting Sweet Laurel and the brand new Palisades Village!


An absolute dream. I looked around the Zimmermann store to feel beautiful dresses I’ve been dying to see in person, explored new shops, and finally got to see Sweet Laurel in person! Sweet Laurel is my most highly recommended cookbook for Grain Free, Dairy Free, and Refined Sugar Free baked goods. I’ve made many recipes from the book (mainly for my dad, who is a desserts fiend, but who has recently taken to a lifestyle change), and every single one has been divine – chocolate chip cookies, chocolate fudge cake, brownies, maple pecan coffee cake……And, after following Sweet Laurel on Instagram and seeing updates on the very first storefront location, I knew I had to visit! It was everything I imagined it to be, and I enjoyed a slice of Lemon Coconut Cake on the lawn. I was even considering asking to franchise on the drive home! j/k, but seriously…..we need one of these in Napa!

Life is not easy, but the nice bits can be pure magic, if you let them be. Stay open to all the adventures in store for you, and don’t forget to enjoy them when they come 😉

“Since love grows within you, so beauty grows. For love is the beauty of the soul.” -St. Augustine


Overnight Oat Pumpkin Pancakes

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Happy Sunday!

I can’t wait to share with you this recipe I created for Overnight Oat Pumpkin Pancakes! With Autumn setting in, I’ve been craving all the seasonal fruits and veggies, and Oats in particular for some reason.

I very rarely eat grains, but after doing some research on the health benefits of Oats (and the fact that my body seems to want them!), I have decided that I will try to come up with ways to include them in my diet (moderately), while preparing them traditionally.

Traditionally, grains were soaked which neutralizes the lectins in the grains, and makes them easier to digest. For this recipe, I soaked Oat Flour in home-cultured goat’s milk Kefir, which gave the pancakes a mild tang, sort of like Sourdough!

You can use Oat Flour alone, or use a combination of Oat Flour as well as rolled oats.

My recipe is a mashup of my cravings and two recipes – one I found online, and the Pancake recipe in the Nourishing Traditions Cookbook. I hope you enjoy these as much as I did!


1 C. Oat Flour

1 C. GF Oats

2 C. Kefir (you could also use yoghurt, or water with lemon juice or ACV if you have a dairy sensitivity)

2 Eggs (I used duck eggs)

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. Baking Soda

2 T. melted Butter

1 c. Pumpkin Purée

2 T. Pure Maple Syrup

1.5 tsp. Vanilla

1/4 tsp. Nutmeg

1/2 tsp. Cinnamon

A dash of Ginger

A dash of Cloves


Mix the Oats, Oat Flour, and Kefir together thoroughly in a glass bowl with a lid. Let sit 12-24 hours in a warm place.

Add the remaining ingredients one-by-one, incorporating well.

Spoon the mixture onto a 400 degree griddle greased with Butter or Coconut Oil (or, if you’re cooking bacon as a side, use the fat!).

Serve with toppings of your choice! I used a bit of Butter, and an unsweetened compote I made (literally just frozen mixed berries cooked down in a saucepan!).

*Approximate* Nutrition Information per pancake, toppings excluded (the recipe made about 17 pancakes, using a large-ish cookie dough scooper).

Calories: 85.3

Protein: 2.8g

Net Carbs: 9.8g

Fat: 3.2g