What I learned in February
The sauna is magic. Grant and I discovered a love for the sauna at the gym last winter. Our workouts are pretty short and intense, and we noticed that a little time in the sauna was not only relaxing, but helped our soreness the next few days too. Plus, an extra 15ish minutes of quiet time before having to pick up the kids in the middle of a long winter is pretty much magic. Turns out, our anecdotal observation is actually a proven benefit of time in a sauna (including tons of other benefits).
I’ve been working on mindfulness and have been trying to carve out more time for meditation during the week. I find that the sauna is the perfect time for it. I don’t bring my phone in the sauna, it’s dark, and the heat makes it easy for me to just concentrate on my breathing. It’s one of the few places I can escape from my “monkey mind” of thoughts and to-do list items that seem to scroll unceasingly through my mind most of the rest of the week. One thing I’ve found that has helped too is The Daily Meditation podcast. I have some Bluetooth headphones, so I put my phone in a locker, turn on the podcast, and jump in the sauna. The host tackles a different theme every week and guides the listener through various meditation techniques. It has been interesting to see which ones work better than others for me over the last few months, and I find myself sneaking in some of the techniques I like better during stressful moments during the day.
Another thing I’ve learned in the sauna is how most people can’t just sit still with their own thoughts. I think I’m like this most of the time, so the sauna time has been a mirror of sorts for me to recognize my own dependency on my phone, or worse, my discomfort at sitting alone with only my own thoughts for company. In my very unscientific study, 95 percent of the people who come in the sauna come in with their phones. I wonder how many great conversations, deeper relationships, or memorable moments I’ve missed with my family or friends because I have my nose in a screen. I’m trying to do better, and the sauna time has helped me so much because it turns into quality time to be a little bored, to create some space for my soul to stretch out and breathe a little.
Books are cheap. I listened to (and loved) the Tim Ferris interview with Seth Godin a few weeks ago. I need to listen to it again because there was tons of good stuff, but he said that for what you get, books are a super inexpensive educational investment. I’m a lifelong bookworm, so I’ve always known that, but somehow, the way he said it has really stuck with me. I came up with some rules regarding book buying a few years ago, so I don’t buy books all that often anymore. But his comment has me rethinking my rules.
I’m officially on the bullet journal train. I first heard about these a few years ago and tried it then, but lasted less than a month that time around. This time around, I read some blog posts that convinced me to try again (see below for links). I will do a longer post on my bullet journal habits once I have a few more months under my belt, but, even if you don’t have a bullet journal, the indexing thing has changed my life. I have an actual journal that I use as a more traditional journal, but I also use it to journal about books I’ve read, podcasts I’ve listened to, movies or documentaries I’ve watched, etc. Before, my journals were spread out and a mess because I thought I had to have separate journals for various things. Now I just create an index page in the front of one journal, number all of the pages, and then index my various categories. Life-changing! It’s so much easier to keep track of things easily, and it will be fun to look back on when I reach the end of the journal.
Read these posts if you’re curious:
- The Lazy Genius post on bullet journals is what pushed me over the top to give them another try. She lays it out really well and makes the whole thing less intimidating. I’m a recovering perfectionist, so all of those beautiful pictures of people’s bullet journals just intimidated me and made me feel like mine had to be pretty too. Her advice to keep it really simple and then grow from there has been super helpful.
- The Art of Simple has some great ideas for making the bullet journal super specific to you, which is basically the main advantage for me. I’ve used various planners over there years and have never found one that has everything I want. With the bullet journal, I get to create the planner/journal that works best for me.
- Tiny Ray of Sunshine has a whole collection of posts for inspiration. I’m just now digging into these because I wanted to get my own routine down first.
What I loved in February
Yoga with Adriene. My sister recommended these, and I finally got around to using them this month. Both kids were sick for a few weeks in February, so I couldn’t get to the gym for my usual yoga class. Adriene’s videos are a great substitute for the real thing.
Warmer temps. We had a few days of unusually warm temperatures for February, and we enjoyed every minute of them outside. Those beautiful days have us all itching for spring ahead.
Seed catalogs! Speaking of spring, we might have gone a little overboard in our seed ordering this year. Grant and I went over the catalogs together, added everything to our carts, and then saw the total and decided we needed to cut back. We basically had this conversation 23 times:
Grant: We don’t need this one. The seeds are 23 cents apiece!
Sara: I know, but they’re so cool! And that one seed will produce thirteen [insert veggie variety here].
Grant: You mean, it might produce thirteen veggies!
As Michael Perry says in my favorite book of his, “Seed catalogs are responsible for more unfulfilled fantasies than Enron and Playboy combined.”
Fresh cut flowers. I’ve been treating myself to the $5 bouquet of the week at Whole Foods lately (we have to stop in there at least once a week for the milk we drink), and it makes me SO happy. I used to think fresh cut flowers were an indulgence, and they probably are. But for the difference they make in my mood to see them in the kitchen all week, they are a very inexpensive treat. I can’t wait to buy from my favorite flower farmer at the farmer’s market again soon.
Easiest, most crave-worthy dessert ever = ice cream pie. I typically slack when it comes to dessert when we have people over. I spend more time and energy on the appetizers and main course, but there’s something about dessert that makes an ordinary occasion seem a little less ordinary.
One of our friends from small group is famous for his ice cream pie. He buys a graham cracker crust, a gallon of some kind of fun ice cream, dumps the ice cream in the pie crust, freezes it, and voilà, instant crowd-pleaser. I’ve been making my own version that comes together nearly as quickly and rarely lasts very long at our house. We nearly always have graham crackers on hand (because s’mores!), and I like to buy a big thing of heavy cream from Costco, then freeze it in quart containers, so I can quickly whip up some ice cream if the situation arises.
- 6 graham crackers
- 6 tbsp butter
- 3-4 cups ice cream, flavor of your choice
- Add-ins of your choice
- If you have a food processor, put the graham crackers and butter in your food processor and pulse until it makes a crumbly mixture. If you don't have a food processor, smash the graham crackers in a plastic bag, then mix with the butter with your hands until crumbly.
- Press crust into a pie pan to form a crust.
- In a large bowl, combine the ice cream. My go-to homemade ice cream is the base of this recipe from Annie's Eats. My go-to store-bought ice cream is the four-ingredient line from Turkey Hill because it has only real ingredients.
- My favorite add-ins are bits of Heath with some of Smitten Kitchen's salted caramel. Be creative! Grant likes blueberry jam. Some other ideas: oreos, marshmallows, fudge.
What did you learn and love in February?!