Unplug.

So, we are doing something different for the month of July! ?We’ve never used our tv for actually tv (it’s not even hooked up to any channels), but we do use it for Netflix and Amazon Prime. ? After a long day of work for him ??and a long day of mommin’ for me?? it’s so easy for us to just park ourselves on the couch with our favorite show. ? We realized last week that we both have so many books on our “want to read” list and hobbies we wish we could devote more time to, so we decided to take the month of July off from TV completely. Whew. ? I don’t really think of us as addicted to Netflix, but it’s been eye-opening to see how apt we are to just put on a show if we’re home in the evening! Taking the month off from TV has gently forced us to use our time in more constructive ways in the evening: reading, doing hobbies, being outside, etc. We’re 7 days in to the month and so far I have started a new book ? learned and practiced more calligraphy ✒️ played more guitar ? and spent more time in prayer. ?? Rob and I are spending a lot more time having more in-depth conversations and playing cards ? (we’re old fashioned ?), which has been fun. I also decided along with the TV fast to take the month off from *Facebook* and I can’t even tell you how great that’s been!! ?? The more articles I read about our tech-crazed world and the negative effects it has on our psyche, the more I want to UNPLUG from it all.? I know I’m more present, peaceful, and content when I am not so connected to the digital world.? 

Here’s to being less connected to the online world and more attentive to the real world around me! ?? 

Social Media Detox: 5 Things I’ve Noticed in My First Week

Last week, after a lot of thought, I decided to give up social media for Lent. I don’t usually give up something for Lent or even think much about this season, primarily because I’m a non-denominational Christian, and my church doesn’t put a whole lot of emphasis on observing this tradition. But when I started reading about the origin of Lent and the idea of giving up something in order to focus more on God and prepare your heart for Easter, I wanted to participate this year. It wasn’t that tough for me to decide what to give up because I already knew I sorely needed a social media detox. It’s just been sucking me in way too much lately and becoming a time-waster and comparison trap when I’m not careful.

It was a little scary to sign off completely for  because I’m just so used to keeping up with everyone’s news, photos, and updates through Facebook and Instagram. I definitely second-guessed myself as I went to bed that night, and wondered if I was going to regret this decision.
However, by the end of the first detox day, I was LOVING this break. I couldn’t believe how freeing it was to be disconnected and unplugged from the internet world. 

Here are 5 things I’ve noticed from my first week off social media:

1) I really don’t miss it like I thought I would. 
In fact, I don’t really miss Facebook AT ALL. The only times I found myself really wanting to get on it were 1) to look for something on a “swap group” (buy/sell/trade groups are where I get basically all of Lydia’s toys) and 2)  to get on one of the “natural mamas” groups I’m in to get some advice. Other than that, I really haven’t missed anything about Facebook!

2) I do miss Instagram. 
I really love posting photos on Instagram as a way to chronicle our life with Lydia. For me, Instagram is like an online journal and I really miss posting photos from our activities and memories with Lydia. If I don’t put photos on Instagram, they just get transferred to my computer once my phone runs out of space and then they sit in deep, dark folders on my laptop and are completely out of sight, out of mind. 🙁  I love that Instagram gives me a way to keep all the major photos and highlights all in one place. So I will definitely be glad to get back on Instagram once these 40 days are over. 🙂

3) A lot of my Facebook friends aren’t real-life friends.
I used to have about 700 Facebook friends, which really isn’t a lot compared to what some people have, I know. But a couple months ago, I felt like it was getting out of hand and half the people I was seeing on my news-feed I’d only met once or twice or had no current contact with them. So, I went through and deleted 250 “friends” in one sitting. Of course, none of them were actual real-life friends. But even with my now 400-ish “friends,” I realize that many of them I never talk to in real life and have no real relationship with. I’m not trying to sound rude, but now that I’m off Facebook I realize how many people I really don’t care to keep up with via photos and statuses while never seeing them in real life. It just seems so fake and time-wasting, once I’ve stepped back and looked at it from a different perspective now.

4) My real-life friends are still my friends even without Facebook.
Imagine that! 😉 It’s been good for me to realize this past week that even though I might be “out of the loop” when it comes to Facebook updates, pictures, etc., I’ve still had plenty of meaningful interactions, conversations, and text message exchanges with the people who are my real-life community. The close friends I have are not going to forget about me just because I’m not on social media. It sounds silly to say, but it was honestly I secret concern I had when getting off Facebook especially. But guess what? I can get photos of my real-life friend’s babies via text messaging, and I can still stay up-to-date with the people I really care about through coffee dates and FaceTime.
I’m beginning to think Facebook just made me *feel* like I was connected to so many people when really the actual meaningful connections happen outside of Facebook and they happen with a core group of 10-15 friends, not 400. Obvious, I know. But that hadn’t fully sunk in for me until now.

5) I am so much more present without social media in my life.
Present in the moment. Present in conversations with my husband. Present while waiting in line at the store. Present with my baby while she’s playing on the floor next to me.
I never spent hours of time just scrolling on Facebook, but my issue was all the 5 or 10 minute increments here and there where I would be waiting for someone, or in line somewhere, or in between activities, or {you name it} and, out of habit, I’d pull out my phone and open Facebook to see what my 700 400 friends were up to. It really wasn’t uplifting, or a good use of time, but it had just become my habit somehow. Now that I don’t have that option, I’ve found that I’m way more present in the moment and engaging more in the world around me. Instead of being head-down in line at the store with my eyes on my phone, I’m noticing the people around me and actually having conversations with them sometimes. What?? What did people do before they had their phones to stare at in line? Maybe they actually made small talk with the people around them?? Crazy. 😛

All in all, I’ve LOVED this first week of my social media detox. It’s been freeing. Eye-opening. And revealed a lot to me about myself. I’ve got a lot more thoughts to share (literally; I have a 1,000 word blog post about my love/hate relationship with Facebook that is sitting in my Drafts folder… yikes. Long-winded, much? :-0)

…which I guess leads me to another thing I’ve noticed from my first week, if I can just tack this on at the end:

—> Since I’m not on social media, I’m spending my time in much more constructive ways. I’m writing a lot more; playing guitar; powering through books from the library like crazy. Even though my social media usage was (usually) just 5 or 10 minutes here and there, it all adds up, and (for me) it definitely created this underlying bad habit that I would get sucked into instead of spending my time on the things that really bring me joy and fulfillment.

Well, there you have it. My first week of detox has been incredible. I did not expect this. I thought I was going to be so frustrated at not being able to keep up with everything online. I was pretty certain I’d be bored a lot or feel sad that I wasn’t up-to-date on everyone’s pictures and statuses and what-not. I did not expect to actually love this break or feel lighter and happier because of it.  Who knows…I might end up getting “off the grid” altogether after this experience… :-0

February Goals Recap!

Hard to believe we’re already at the end of February!! It was a busy and fun month for us, especially with the amazingly warm weather we had here in St Louis for much of the month. We spent lots of time at the park, took Lydia to the zoo, and went on several family runs on the trails around our new neighborhood!

— after one of our family runs

My goals for the month kept me busy, and for the most part I was able to meet them! I did my 5 ab workouts every week and read – not one but 3 – books this month! I had to return my original book (“Love Your Life, Not Theirs”) to the library before I was finished with it, because someone had it on hold, but I read the other book (“On Fire”) as well as two other novels that I got from the library! I still want to get back to “Love Your Life, Not Theirs” at some point, though, because I really loved the first few chapters that I read.

Practicing guitar wasn’t as consistent as I would have liked; I only played twice on average each week. Hoping to improve that in March!

I tried two new recipes, one of which was this delicious Garlic Basil Chicken with Tomato Butter Sauce. YUM. It’s only 7 ingredients and they’re all REAL food which is what I love. Rob commented that he was pleasantly surprised by how much flavor this dish had; I don’t think either of us expected it to be that amazing since it was so simple, but it was really tasty!! We ate it with gluten-free brown rice noodles.

— our new favorite chicken thigh recipe, with roasted veggies on the side

I also found a {super simple} new way to cook chicken thighs: I sprinkled them with salt + pepper + dried basil and seared them for about 3-4 minutes on each side in some olive oil, minced garlic, and lemon juice on the stove over medium-high heat in an oven-safe skillet. Then I pour about a cup of chicken broth (did you know ALDI has organic, free-range chicken broth??) in the skillet and put it in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked. The broth keeps the chicken meat so tender and the lemon juice gives it a little tang, which we liked. And Lydia couldn’t get enough of this chicken either!

Switching over our phone plan is a work in progress. I put this off for the entire first half of the month (oops) but finally got the ball rolling this past week and now we are just waiting on a few final steps to make the switch! I’m excited we’ll be saving money every month on our phone plan now!! It felt like we were paying way too much when we don’t even use that much data.

Our tech-free nights were awesome. We did this at least once, sometimes twice a week, and it was so good to take a break from our phones and Netflix and just read, talk, play cards, etc.
I’m hoping we can keep this habit up and even have more than just one or two of these nights each week. I’ve been a lot more intentional about not replying to texts after Rob gets home from work and even putting my phone upstairs or out of sight for the evening so I am more focused on spending that time with him. (He’s not a big text-er/phone person so he’s already really good about not being on his phone while we’re hanging out together.)

— napping buddies, catching up on sleep

One thing I really noticed from our tech-free nights this past month is that we were much more in-tune with how tired our bodies were, and ended up going to bed a LOT earlier! When we’re zoned out in front of a show on Netflix, it’s easy to just watch another episode and not really feel that tired, but when you’re away from the constant stimulation of the screen, you notice how tired you actually are!! There were *many* nights we turned off the lights at 9pm. Rob wakes up at 4:30am for work and I’m up around 6:30am with Lydia, so it was great for us both to get that extra sleep.

That’s the wrap-up from my February goals! I loved the accountability I had with these after sharing them publicly at the beginning of the month; it really kept me focused throughout the month since I knew I was going to check back in and report on how it went. 😉 I’ll be sharing my goals for March in the next couple days!!

{Healthier} Valentine’s Chocolate Cake

We were so excited when Rob’s mom offered to babysit for us on Valentine’s Day!! ❤ We got dressed up a little and went out for drinks at a new place right down the road from our house. ??  

Then we went to Olive Garden for dinner with a gift card we had! I used to really care about making special nights like Valentine’s Day a big deal with a new restaurant and all that, but I’ve come to realize that it’s actually just as fun to go to a regular old place when you have a gift card and know your dinner is paid for!!? So we got the fun of trying out a new place for drinks while also saving money with our dinner gift card! Budget win!!  ??

Earlier in the day, I had made this flourless chocolate cake for us to eat when we got home from the date night, but we were so stuffed full of pasta and breadsticks that we decided to save it for Wednesday night instead. ?

I used to make this cake fairly often during our first year of marriage, but had forgotten about it until just recently when I was brainstorming ideas for Valentine’s desserts.
This cake still has sugar in it so it’s not *super healthy* per se, but it’s definitely *more healthy* than a lot of desserts out there. Plus it’s decadent, rich, and melts in your mouth, so what else really matters?? ? Served alongside some vanilla ice cream, it is incredible. 

Bonus: it’s only 4 ingredients, and I bet you already have 3 of them on hand in your kitchen! Doesn’t get much easier than that. ??

Check out this delicious recipe HERE. And make it now. You won’t regret it. ?

My Goals for February!

I loooooove goals. They keep me focused. They give me something to work toward. And they involve lists, which are one of my other favorite things. 😉

For years, I’ve had the habit of setting goals at the beginning of January for the new year ahead. I usually make monthly goals as well, to break down the bigger picture into more practical, do-able chunks. There’s something so fulfilling to me about having a purpose and focus for the month and then working toward those goals.

In January, I never really wrote down my goals for the month, but a couple of them were:

1) Read one new book (Check! I actually read two!)
2) Try two new recipes (Check!)
3) Go for a few runs outdoors (Check!)

I didn’t really set challenging goals for January because we were coming down from the craziness of the holiday season and trying to settle in to our new house. So I just focused on things that seemed do-able and enjoyable.

For February, I’ve added a few goals and made them a little more challenging and specific, too.

Here’s my goal list for February:

1) Read one book

{source}

I love reading, but unless I discipline myself + have a book I’m actually excited to read, I don’t tend to make time for it any more. Thankfully, we live right by a huge new library now so I have endless options at my fingertips. The book I’m planning to read for this month is Rachel Cruze’s “Love Your Life, Not Theirs” because several people lately have told me it’s really good. And it goes well with our whole budgeting focus lately! But when I went to the library to pick it up, I stumbled across a book nearby on the shelf called “On Fire: The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life” and was drawn in by the raving endorsements on the back from two of my favorite authors/speakers: Brene Brown and Dave Ramsey. So I thought I’d bring that one home too and give it a try!

2) Work out abs for 10 min, 5x/week

Lydia bouncing away while I did my ab workout yesterday 😉

I loathe ab workouts. They’re my least favorite workout to do. But I want to strengthen my core (especially after having a baby) so I’m going to try to discipline myself to do a 10-min ab workout, 5 times a week. It can’t be that bad, right? 😛 I’ll be sharing some of my favorite ab exercises with you all in the next few days! I intentionally made this a very specific, measurable goal, because I knew if I didn’t then I wouldn’t keep to it at all. I’m tracking my progress on my calendar to keep me on track as well.

3) Try 2 new recipes

I tend to get stuck in a rut with my recipes, but last month I tried 2 new ones and they turned out surprisingly well! (Even though they looked nothing like the amazing picture on

One of the recipes I tried last month…it was amazing!

Pinterest… but when does that ever happen, really?)  😛 This month, I want to try 2 more new recipes to keep expanding my repertoire.

4) Practice guitar at least 3x/week

I want to be more consistent with practicing guitar so that I can actually get better at it and be able to play proficiently!!

5) Switch our cell phone plan to a new carrier

We’re paying way too much with our current plan and are planning to switch to Straight Talk, but this involves a whole process of unlocking our phones, ending our contract, etc, so I need to put it on my goal list or else I know I’ll keep putting it off!

6) Stick to the budget with the envelope system

Month 2 of the cash-envelopes system is underway!

7) Have at least one night a week with no Netflix or phones

We fall into ruts from time to time where we’ll just crash on the couch after Lydia goes to bed and turn on Netflix, or both be on our phones surfing social media or texting, with very minimal conversation (i.e. grunts and “uh-huh”s).  😛

We really enjoy playing card games, talking about our day over a glass of wine/beer, reading together, etc. We just need to discipline ourselves to keep the TV and phones turned off so that we’ll actually engage in these more purposeful activities together! 🙂 We already have a routine of turning our phones on silent and putting them away somewhere once it’s our time together in the evening, but we want to be more consistent with this!


Do you have any goals for the month?? I’d love to hear them!!