Tips and Tricks for bed

There are few, very few things in life that I will sacrifice sleep for because it is so important in helping our bodies heal, recover from sickness and more importantly prevent sickness in the first place.  Our mental health is dependent on sleep as well.  Sleep allows us to manage stress (sometimes eliminate it), process our emotions and deal with them more effectively in the morning.  Some of the best advice I have ever gotten was to wait 24-48 hours to react to a situation that may have caused emotional pain or stress.  This also goes for important decisions.  Allow yourself to sit with your emotions- even if that emotion is pain.  Allow yourself to understand, think and even appreciate the pain or crisis that may be occurring in your life.  Believe that God (if you don’t believe in God insert “the universe”) is not here to harm you or out to get you but is giving you this opportunity to allow this crisis or difficult person to help you grow as a person.  You are in charge of your happiness.  Never let a situation or person steal your joy.  Because here’s the thing you can let a person break you, you can let a situation make you feel bitter and depressed or you can allow yourself to burn in the fire and rise up from the ashes just as a phoenix would.  “Weeping may last for a night but joy comes in the morning,” it’s true, let sleep heal your mind and body.

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But what if you’re having trouble sleeping?

What if your problem is how you look and feel when you wake up?

After 25 years I’ve discovered a few tricks to help me get the most out of this precious time that God mandated for our bodies and minds to rest, recuperate and rebuild.  Here are a few tips and tricks I have up my pajama sleeve to make mornings look and feel better for myself.

1. Every magazine and book that is concerned about well being will tell you this!  Drink water!  I am physically and mentally drained when I am dehydrated.  I also look and feel terrible when I wake up dehydrated.  Keeping a bottle of water next to the bed is a non-negotiable for me.  I can’t even get to sleep if I’m thirsty and often wake up in the middle of the night if I didn’t get enough water during the day.  When I’m having a really hard time getting out of bed drinking a bottle of water and pressing snooze for 10 or 15 minutes while I let my body drink it up does wonders.

2. When I’m having a hard time getting water down, coconut water is my natural wonder.  Because let’s face it sometimes you want something a little sweeter than water.  It is my favorite after work out drink and helps me rehydrate like a champion after getting my zzz’s for the night!

3. Cut down on the sugar.  If I have sugar the night before or any food that causes inflammation for that matter like dairy or gluten, I will have bags under my eyes the next morning.  I will also feel more groggy and unable to think as clearly.  If I have something important planned that requires all of my mental and physical strength I rely on veggies and proteins to fuel me.  Although I will admit- Carbs are my favorite food!!!  Pasta, rice, bread, freshly baked cookies Oh YES!  (but sadly oh no in the long run).  This applies to mornings especially.  I find so much joy in making my daughter nutella and strawberry crepes for breakfast or a pancake feast with an assortment of chocolate pancakes, lemon blueberry pancakes and banana pancakes along with home made whipped cream, and although these breakfasts are filled with love… within an hour you will most definitely want to take a nap.  If you’re running a 5k that day please opt for an egg white spinach omelet instead with maybe a small cup of coffee or even better green tea.

4. A prayer.  My mind has to unwind somehow and praying is my release.  I will also hand write letters to God if I am truly distraught about something going on in my life and need help processing it.  You don’t want your worries from the day or for the next day to circle and race through your mind at night.  You need all the mental strength you can get to respond and take on the next day.  Put your fears aside and rest in knowing that God has you in the palm of his hand.

5. Eating a vegetable or pressed juice the night before is a wonderful beauty elixir.  I seriously believe the vitamins, minerals and enzymes get to optimally help your body as it rests…

6. Drinking coffee after 1pm wrecks my sleep.  I love it!  Sometimes I seriously crave the taste of a freshly brewed cup of coffee with its earthy aroma, but if it’s after 1pm I know I will pay for it with tossing and turning that night.

7. A nice warm shower or bath.  I love getting into bed feeling clean.  I know some people love to wake up to a shower but I just hate getting into bed dirty!  I don’t want the toxins and germs of the day not to mention allergens to be laying in bed with me!  I’d much rather have a bed time routine of taking some time out for myself to clean my body and hair and climb into fresh clean sheets!

8. Yoga or any form of exercise early on in the day helps with my sleep.  Hot yoga is very popular these days and hence really easy to find friends to go with.  A few of my favorite workouts are also running (with extremely loud music playing on my head phones- see next post for my play list) pure barre, pilates and a favorite since I was a pre-teen, Kick Boxing!!!  You absolutely can not beat natural exercise/ natural play… you know the kind where you’re chasing children around and tickling them to the floor, swimming in the ocean, paddle boarding, dancing to your favorite song, gardening, cleaning your house, exploring a new part of the city or country- Just remember not all exercise happens in the gym!

9. Rubbing lavender lotion on my temples and neck.  The scent is so soothing.  I am in love with it.

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These are my sleep tips and I hope they help you!

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Acai Bowls

I’m sure you have heard of the super food The Acai Berry!

But do you know what to do with it?  I don’t really know what to do with it either because I’ve never seen a raw one at the grocery store!  However, I do have this amazing recipe that I stumbled across in Miami, Florida.  I’ve never actually been to Miami.  When I stayed in Miami it was always on the little island South Beach… not the actual city of Miami.  Anyway while on South Beach I found this little place called Under The Mango Tree!  Oh my goodness it is soooo yummy!  Everyday (sometimes twice a day) I would go and get an acai bowl along with a fruit smoothie or protein smoothie (my absolute favorite smoothie is the Marley- It’s a mix of peanut butter, cacao, kale and almond milk).  I had no idea what an acai bowl was but of course had to try it as I needed fuel for those long arduous days at the beach…  They made me feel so good.  I had to start making them at home and so I did.  Under The Mango Tree was kind enough to share their recipe and now I’m going to share it with you!

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I love you Under The Mango Tree!

Okay, so you might not be able to see it very well… but how adorable is this little chalk board sign!?

Here is my personal recipe:

2 packets of frozen Acai (Sambazon is a great and popular brand that you can find at most grocery stores.  I have found it at Whole Foods and at Publix)

1 banana

A juice mixer of your choice!  Any juice or milk substitute will do!  I usually always prefer orange juice as my mixer.  Just put a little in like a little less than a 1/4 cup…  The more you make them the more you’ll figure out your preference as far as whether you like them thick or more like a juice to sip easily.  I like my acai bowls thick.

With those three ingredients you have your base… You can now blend them!  After blending it will be time to top your acai bowl!  Get creative because you can top it with anything!

Your choice of freshly cut fruits

A handful of granola and maybe even some shredded dried coconut

1/2 a handful of dried goji berries

A drizzle of either honey or agave (whatever I have, I use… I just tend to run out of honey fast!)  I’ve seen some people even blend honey into the acai base, which is great, just be careful you don’t get too excited and make it too sweet (I have fallen victim to this).

For a few more ideas you can top your acai bowl with more super foods like chia, hemp and flax seeds.  Bee pollen is also great for you and is an added sweetener

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The base of this acai bowl is mixed with kale. You can seriously get super creative with acai bowls! There is no right or wrong way- just whatever works best for your body and your taste buds.

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Las Vegas

Nick and I recently went to Las Vegas.  We left last Friday morning at 7 am and met his friends at the airport.  It was such an amazing trip because so many of Nick’s family and friends had chosen to go that very same weekend!  It was a new place with familiar faces which for me was extremely comforting.

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Nick had planned to go with his friends, as they go every year around this time for the real estate conference, and I was fortunate enough to have him take me along this time around!  It was very last minute and such a great surprise!  I soon found out that Nick’s cousin, Joanna, and her husband, Denny, would be going for her birthday celebration.  Nick’s sister, Christina, and her fiancée, Luke, were also going because Luke was attending the real estate conference!  It also just happened that all of Nick’s friends went to high school with all of Joanna’s friends (so they had a mini class reunion).

Nick and I stayed at the Cromwell hotel.  If you are looking for a darker, romantic, French chic, Great Gatsby feel- I recommend staying here.  I was shocked that our hotel had Giada De Laurentiis’ new restaurant in it!  My daughter and I watch her cooking show almost every night before she goes to bed, so Giada has a very special place in my heart.  My liquid sunshine juice was inspired by a juice that Nick and I had off of her breakfast menu.  And this is how it is with Nick… everything feels like a perfect amazing coincidence- like a little wink from God.  It really is strange in the most wonderful way- more on that later!

Giada!
Giada!

Each night we went out to dinner with Nick and his friends.  I’m trying to remember all of their names but a few noteworthy ones are: Loreto (who operated the trip), Merritt (who was always on “Full Throttle”), Slate The Great (now we didn’t spend much time with Slate the Great… but how do you forget a name like that) and Gunny (who kept telling me that he was taking Nick to Thailand before we get married… not sure what is happening in Thailand, but hopefully he brings him back alive and in one piece).

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The first night we went to STK.  Oh my gosh… the food was so amazing!  My favorite was the short rib and the bread (seriously, bread is one of my favorite foods).  After that we went to a night club in The Cosmopolitan.  It was beautiful.  The next day, after sleeping in, Nick and I walked around the Strip, and met up with his family at Caesar’s Palace.  I should have taken a picture because the pools at Caesars’s are just fantastic.  I don’t think any of us actually went into the pool because it was a chilly weekend, but the company was really what made the experience fantastic.

Look how excited I am!  I look like a small child at Disney Land!
Look how excited I am! I look like a small child at Disney Land!

Later that night it was dinner at Nove.  I don’t have anything nice to say about this restaurant other than the view was stellar.  After this we went to a night club in the Bellagio and you could tell that I was from the east coast and a mommy because I was sleepy!  I don’t go out late at night to clubs or bars anymore.  These days a great night for me is dinner and cuddling up on the couch to watch a movie, but when in Vegas (I at least tried to hang).  I also really had to start a detox process with my body because I’m not used to drinking anything other than red wine and the past two days I had tried a little bit of everything (prickly pear shots, mojitos, raspberry lemonade and one of Nick’s favorites, Caipirinhas.  There was way too much sugar in my body and it was making me crash hard.

The next day Nick took me shopping and completely spoiled me.  I seriously felt like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman minus the hooker part.  I went into stores that I had never even dreamed of going into let alone trying their clothes and shoes on.  I know it’s just another day of shopping for some people but for me, it was like walking into a coveted place.  I was nervous and excited all at the same time and trying very hard not to show it.  After that, we went back to our hotel’s roof top pool which was, WOW, a party in itself.  If you want to drink and listen to a lot of house music (which I think most people in their 20’s do) then you would love this, again it’s not my thing anymore, but it was fun to observe!

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At the Venetian

For dinner it was back to STK which I definitely did not mind!  After dinner Nick and I walked around the Venetian because I really wanted to see the gondolas.  After three days of walking around Vegas my body (mostly my feet) was done!  I really wanted Nick to have a night with his friends and to be honest I needed to curl up in bed and sleep!  Weird Science was on and I’m a sucker for old 80’s cult films!  After about five minutes of that it was off to dream land.  The next day Nick headed to Arizona for work and I headed back to Cleveland.  I was sad to part from everyone and this amazing experience but when I got to Nick’s house in Cleveland I felt so much warmth and happiness, it also could have been from the sugar high I was on as I had just eaten half a box of chocolates that Nick’s friend had gotten for me at the airport, but seriously- even though I’ve only been in Cleveland for a couple of weeks, coming back gave me a visceral comfort.  Perhaps that’s one way of knowing you are truly happy, when coming “home” feels so good.

Liquid Sunshine

The Fruit

The perfect name for this juice is Liquid Sunshine or Happy Juice because oh my gosh it just makes me smile!

Juices are so much fun because you can add or omit whatever you want!  My whole life I have loved baking and so I was always pretty strict with recipes and measurements, because let’s face it, if you mess up in baking… you pretty much ruin it.  Too much butter can make your chocolate chip cookie flat; cook in an oven that is too hot and you get a gooey middle part of a cookie but a burnt outer part; confuse sugar with salt… and well you get the point.  But with juices- creativity and improvisation are encouraged!

This juice was made with one apple- pick whatever apple you love!  This apple is a pink lady but next time I’m going to use a granny smith apple, because why not?  We’re juicing!  About 1 handful and a 1/2 of pineapple, a small handful of mint, and a lemon.  I also put watermelon in just to get rid of the little bit left that we had in the fridge.  Next time I’m not going to add it though because I really want the taste of the pineapple and apple to SHINE.  I feel like watermelon can well… water it down more than I want for this juice.

Okay, once the ingredients are cut up, juice them!  Nick has an Oasis horizontal juicer (I’m pretty much obsessed with it).  I also strained the juice afterwards because the watermelon seemed like it added a bit too much pulp.

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YUM!  Yes, it’s in a wine glass with ice because I LOVE cold juices (I’ve always preferred ice in my orange juice too).