Good Health: The Ultimate Luxury

Every month this year, I’m focusing on a specific theme of gratitude. In January, it was hygge. In February, it was women artists I admire, and in March it was books that impacted me. April will be on ways I am able to take care of myself.

Note: I am unhealthy. I eat poorly, I drink too much alcohol, I barely exercise, and I have mental health and thyroid issues. Hey guess what!? Did you hear diet and exercise help make you feel BETTER!?

If you’re like me, though, it’s hard to take care of yourself, when you’re busy taking care of kiddos, husbands, your jobs, your hobbies, your passions, etc. Taking care of yourself is a luxury and good health is something to be EXTREMELY grateful for.

What are ways you take care of yourself? Morning jogs, bullet coffee, vegan diet, regular massage? We’d love to hear! Over the month of April, I’ll be chiming in with ways I add a bit of self-care into my routine, and I’d love to try some of your suggestions! (Below I have listed a few things I regularly do.)

–Nicole C.

Indoor Picnic

The weather here in Southwest Missouri has been cold, drizzly, and not very spring-like. So for Easter Sunday this year, we decided to have a French-inspired indoor picnic. French wine, cheeses, a charcuterie board, home-made baguettes…the whole works.

Of course, we ate at the dining table, so rather than a picnic, I guess it was just French-inspired picnic-fare. C’est la vie. It. Was. Parfait.

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Cheers! The Lychee Martini

What to ‘shake’ up your cocktail game? Try the Lychee Martini, recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart.

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photo via Martha Stewart

Lychees are Asian tree fruits, with red dinosaur-like skin and a subtle grape-like taste and texture. And they make AMAZING cocktail ingredients! We drank these all winter long, despite them being a summer fruit. With access to international markets in town, though, we can enjoy them ALL YEAR LONG!

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It tastes high end, when using good vermouth and cold cold vodka. The lychee syrup adds just a touch of sweetness.

Recipe:

  • Ice
  • Cocktail shaker
  • 1 oz dry vermouth
  • 1 can Lychee fruit in Syrup
  • 3 oz vodka
  • 1/3 cup lychee juice, reserved from can

Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Add in vodka, vermouth, and lychee juice. Shake well. Strain into 2 martini glasses and garnish each with a lychee fruit.

Other Lychee products to up your cocktail game:

lycheesyrup

Lychee lattes! Lychee lemonade! Lychee slushies! Oh the possibilities with this Syrup

gummy

Lychee Gummy Candy!

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Lychee Cane Sugar – ooh, to add a lychee-flavored sugar rim to your martini glass.

Excuse me. I think it’s almost Happy Hour, and I need to get to the market…

 

Everything is Better with CONFETTI

Our friend Whitney threw the most colorful and fun wedding celebration. The groomsmen had pompom boutonnieres, we tossed dried herbs and jingled bells as the new couple made their way to their chariot. The reception had vintage planters filled with colorful blooms, and giant confetti-filled balloons. Here are a few photos from the florists behind Queen City Blooms:

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Colorful boutonnieres by Queen City Blooms.

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The witty and beautiful bride!

Are you looking to add color and whimsy to your own life, wedding or not? Keep reading!

Book Roundup: March 2018

There really isn’t much else I need in life than a good book. Well. Maybe a cold pinot grigio. And a soft dog. Okay, and dark chocolate. And if I’m going to list all the things I need in life, I may as well also mention Coco Chanel Eau de Parfum, my mala beads, and pretty mugs filled with coffee.

But, books. Let’s get back to books.

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I read a lot, and challenge myself to read harder every year. BookRiot is always a great source to find books that wouldn’t normally jump out at me in my typical browsing. So is Goodreads, but I tend to add 20 books to read for every 1 that I finish. It can get overwhelming.

In 2018, I (Nicole) gave myself the goal of reading 30 books. As of today, I’m finished #12. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

kindred

KINDRED by Octavia Butler (Read Harder Challenges: Author is a woman of color; a sci-fi novel with a female protagonist by a female author) – THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD. Should be required reading for every human being on the planet.

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UNGRATEFUL MAMMALS by Dave Eggers (Read Harder Challenge: A one-sitting book). This is a collection of drawings and poetic vignettes by Dave Eggers, a prolific author.

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THE SPELL THIEF (Little Legends) (Read Harder Challenge: Absolutely none. I read this with my 8yo for his class book club. Come one, 2nd graders! Why aren’t you reading Kindred yet??)

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HOMEGOING (Read Harder Challenge: A book of colonial literature. Also written by a woman of color. THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD. It was actually a great companion piece to Kindred, unintentionally.

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BP

BITCH PLANET Vol. 2 (Read Harder Challenge: A comic written or illustrated by a person of color; written by a woman; A one-sitting book). I love this series. It’s gritty, violent, just enough sci-fi and ends on MAJOR twists. Can’t wait for the next volume.

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BIRD BOX (Read Harder Challenge: None…but it’s a horror book about a mom trying to keep her 2 children alive in a strange new Earth where if you’re able to see it could kill you…so, that’s a challenge enough…) A thrilling page-turner, best read in as few sittings as possible. I think it took me 3. And I didn’t sleep for 3 days.

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MARCH TRILOGY (Read Harder Challenge: A comic written by a person of color; A comic that isn’t published by Marvel, DC, or Image). I also hope this series is required reading for every student. It’s one I’m planning on buying to keep in my house for the kiddos.

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Literary Witches

LITERARY WITCHES: A Celebration of Magical Women Writers (Read Harder Challenge: hello! It’s a compilation of women authors throughout history!). This is great. I learned about a few authors I’d never heard of, and the illustrations are mesmerizing. Highly recommend.

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LEAVE ME ALONE WITH THE RECIPES: The Life, Art, and Cookbook of Cipe Pineles – So inspiring! An illustrated cookbook celebrating one of the modern-day design geniuses.

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THE HOUSE ON MANGO STREET – How did I miss this novella? It was written in 1982, feels just as fresh today, and is a lyrical and beautiful look at growing up. Smitten.

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MY FRIEND DAHMER – (Read Harder Challenge: A Comic written AND illustrated by the same person) Ooooh, a dark yet sympathetic look at the person who became a monster, told from the point of view of one of his high school classmates.

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whynotme

WHY NOT ME? By Mindy Kaling. (Read Harder Challenge: author POC; celebrity memoir; collection of essays.) She’s my new best friend. End of story. I listened to this on Audible, and it is so delightful.

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Next on the docket: THE CAT WHO COULD READ BACKWARDS. This isn’t so much a challenge as a throwback, to a series I read and loved as a child. Plus, the author, Lillian Jackson Braun, didn’t even start writing until later in life, which always fascinates me AND inspires.

Any good books that you’ve read that have been out of your typical reading comfort zone? I’d love to hear!

{ Featured photo by Karim Ghantous on Unsplash}