Real Talk

How to set up a night routine.

Your night routine starts the moment you step into your house at the end of the day and ends the minute you close your eyes and drift off to sleep. Establishing an evening routine is the perfect way to wrap up your day and feel ready for a new one.

Setting up a night routine that leaves you feeling well rested is one of the most important things you can do if you want to have a productive day and want to feel accomplished and relaxed at the same time. However, actually creating one can seem overwhelming and difficult to just think about. There are so many opinions, tips, tricks etc. that it can be stressful to figure out what works for you and your household.

I get you…I was there too and I tried every single thing under the sun only to realize that they were not realistic for me. But, after countless trials and errors and after having a deep conversation with myself I found the perfect night routine, one that I’m pretty sure you are going to love to embrace as well. This is not a what to do but instead a formula, a formula that’s completely customizable to include the things that you love, the things that you want to make more time for and the things that leave you feeling relaxed, accomplished and ready to conquer the next day.

The formula: Invigorating + Necessary + Inspiring + Relaxing = Your Night Routine

That is it… the 4 things your night routine should include – something invigorating, something necessary, something inspiring and something relaxing, but what do I mean with that and how you can incorporate that into your life?

Invigorating: After a hard day of hustling and bustling, we end up feeling drained, burned out and ready to collapse onto the sofa binge watching Netflix. So you need to hit the reset button and do something that makes you feel energized and ready to enjoy the rest of your day. For example, if I am the first one home I’ll often grab Winston and head out for a walk to the mailbox. This lets him stretch his legs and do his business, gets fresh air into both of us and I feel better about walking to get the mail instead of being lazy and driving past the mailbox on my way home. A quick 10 minutes is all I need to unwind from the workday and reorganize and re-energize myself for the hours before bedtime.

Necessary: These are the things that you need to do in your nightly routine and that are a must such as having dinner, for example. Maybe you need to wash the dishes or  maybe some errand that needs to be done. I tend to do these right before my invigorating activity, while I’m feeling refreshed and have more energy. I also feel I like to tackle these sooner than later so I have the rest of the night to completely unwind.

Inspiring: You know how you start the year or the week or even the day off by telling yourself that you are going to accomplish x, y and z and then end up completely forgetting about it and then kind of regretting it? Yeah, me to… Set aside a small amount of time each night to do one of those things! This is the perfect moment to start tackling your bucket list , brainstorm ideas, research your dream travel destination, set aside 20 minutes each day to learn a new language or to whip up that dish you would love to make in your kitchen, or maybe to practice some yoga. Whatever it is set some time aside to become the best version of yourself

Relaxing: Close your day with an activity that leaves you feeling relaxed and ready to snooze. The definition of relaxing is very personal and different for each but something soothing and calming is the way to go. Usually for me that is a hot shower or a bath if I have the time, doing a hair or face mask, grabbing either a glass of wine or a cup of tea, cuddling with Pug and the boyfriend, reading or watching a bit of my favorite shows. Give yourself the gift of enjoying the slow pace.

bath 3

That’s my night routine formula, it’s easy to remember and it’s ever evolving. Some days may be full of necessary while other are full of relaxing, some of them are a perfect balance and some days I just come home to Netflix, and that’s the beauty of this. None of those things are set in stone and I give myself the grace of changing them from time to time.

What are you doing when you get home tonight?

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XOXO.

B.

Food & Drink

Strawberry oatmeal bars.

I can’t tell you how many times I claim to have baked my favoritestrawberry dessert to date, but these Strawberry Oatmeal Bars might be my best yet. They even qualify as healthy oatmeal bars too!

A bewitching cross between a soft bar cookie and a strudel-topped crumb bar, these sweet treats are the perfect use for the fresh strawberries that are finally starting to make their way into grocery stores in big, juicy quantities.

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They are also one of the easiest desserts I’ve ever baked.

The top and bottom “crust” of the oatmeal bars comes together in a single bowl, and since the recipe calls for melted, not softened butter, you don’t even need to wait for the butter to come to room temperature first.

While many strawberry oatmeal bar recipes require making the filling in a separate bowl, these fresh strawberry bars do not and anything that cuts down in dishes deserves a Hallelujah!

Once you’ve pressed the first crust layer into the pan, simply scatter the filling ingredients—diced strawberries, lemon juice, and a touch of sugar and cornstarch—right over it, then sprinkle the remaining oatmeal crumble on top.

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In the oven, the strawberries “cook” into a bright, pie-like filling that’s reminiscent of homemade strawberry jam.

Made with oatmeal, whole wheat flour, and little added sugar (the sweetness of these bars comes almost entirely from the fresh strawberries themselves), these healthy oatmeal bars are wholesome enough for breakfast or an afternoon snack.

For those who prefer a sweeter take, a drizzle of vanilla glaze sweetens the strawberry bars enough for dessert.

Though, if you feel the need to garnish them with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, I wouldn’t judge you at all.

strawberry bar 2

Here is what you will need:

1 cup of old-fashioned rolled oats (you can substitute a gluten free option)

3/4 cup of white whole wheat flour (you can substitute a gluten free option)

1/3 cup light brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt

6 tablespoons of unsalted butter – melted (you can substitute with melted coconut oil or make vegan and dairy free)

2 cups of diced strawberries

1 teaspoon of cornstarch

1 tablespoon of lemon juice (about 1/2 a small lemon)

1 tablespoon of sugar

Here is what you will need to do:

♥ Preheat the oven to 375 and line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper with overhangs on the two sides.

In a medium sized bowl, combine oats, flour, brown sugar, ginger and salt. Pour in the melted butter and stir until it forms clumps and the dry mixture is now moistened. Set aside about 1/2 a cup of the mixture and then press the rest into an even layer in the baking pan.

Scatter half of the strawberries over the crust. Sprinkle the cornstarch evenly over the top and then the lemon juice and 1/2  the sugar.

With the other half of the strawberries, sprinkle those on top and then the remaining sugar as well. Top if the reserved crumb mixture. Don’t expect this to be #InstaWorthy at this point!

Bake the bars for about 35-40 minutes or until the fruit is bubbly and the crumb topping looks golden. Place the pan either on a wire rack to cool completely to speed this up and place it in the refrigerator.

♥ ENJOY! These are great won their own as a snack or with a little glaze or ice cream!!

Can you keep these refrigerated for up to 5 days. If you want to freeze them, let them cool completely and wrap tightly in plastic wrap before placing in the freeze. Let thaw in the refrigerator

Real Talk

The “Do Something” Principle & How it Can (Positively!) Change Your Life.

I actually first read The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck last summer (love the title, love the book), but I’ve been coming back to it often. It’s one of those books that you can pick up and read from at any point and take something from it. It’s a book I’ll keep referring back to, I’m sure. I love those books, don’t you? The books that keep on giving, ha!

The author, Mark Manson, talks candidly about a ton of good topics; mostly, he touches on basic principles of life and how the world works (or at least that’s what I took from it). He really challenges you to think about how you spend your time, energy and what you “choose” to care about. Very simple, but helpful stuff.

I could write like 7 blog posts on topics this book had me thinking about, but today I want to highlight one that Manson calls the “Do Something” Principle. To be honest, I don’t think he’s saying anything revolutionary but rather just reminding us of something we already know: that getting started is hard. Not only that, but he talks about how and why we get stuck and don’t end up starting at all. My whole life, one of my mottos has been something like: just take the next (or first) step. I tend to get overwhelmed with everything and so I’m always telling myself: just do the next thing, B. Don’t worry about that step (5 steps from now) just do what’s next and worry about step 5 later. Another thing I say to myself often is: something is better than nothing – working out for 10 minutes is better than doing nothing at all. This simple truth gets me through most days. Because oftentimes, the mere act of starting is just the motivation I need to keep going.

I want to talk about the “Do Something” principle because Manson basically put into words a concept that I live by every single day – and have for years.

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What is the “Do Something” Principle?

Essentially, Mark talks about this principle as something he learned from a math teacher in high school. That teacher would tell students something like:

“If you’re stuck on a problem, don’t sit there and think about it; just start working on it. Even if you don’t know what you’re doing, the simple act of working on it will eventually cause the right ideas to show up in your head.”

He goes on to discuss how he’s used this “do something” idea, especially when he was forming his own business years ago. He argues that taking action (with or without motivation) will eventually lead to inspiration and then motivation and that it’s a healthy habit-forming lesson.

Why is the Do Something Principle important?

First off, I’ve found this so helpful because I get VERY overwhelmed. I wouldn’t call myself a procrastinator, but I have a habit of taking too much on at once and starting things I don’t always finish. Because, I’m afraid of failing and allow myself to get overwhelmed. Too many ideas, not enough action. But I LOVED this sentence from Mark’s book:

“If we follow the “do something” principle, failure feels unimportant. When the standard of success becomes merely acting – when any result is regarded as progress and important, when inspiration is seen as the reward rather than a prerequisite – we propel ourselves ahead. We feel free to fail, and that failure moves us forward.”

WHOA. Right?!

It’s so scary to actually start a project sometimes – whether that’s because the project is huge and daunting or because we’re inexperienced, because we’re scared of failing, or we’re so busy – but I love shifting the mindset here. Mark encourages us to really take BABY STEPS, to take things moment by moment. If we’re looking at the task or project or thing as a whole, it’s bound to get pushed off for some reason or another. But if we simply start, that’s creating action. And that’s success! The success isn’t necessarily finishing or doing said task/thing (though that is a success), but the action, in general, is a success. Even if we fail or we mess up or we have to do that thing ten times. We’re still acting on it.

As someone who often puts things of for XYZ, this has been mind-blowing for me, and I’m so grateful for the lesson. I’ve started taking action and thinking of that as my success, instead of feeling like a failure for either not starting or not doing it “right.” It’s honestly been very freeing, too. When the metric of success is shifted, it’s suddenly easier to succeed – and failure doesn’t feel as important.

I can’t even explain how many times I’ve started on things now because of this. And how good/relieving/freeing it feels. My mind instantly feels more clear and it even boosts my confidence. It’s like taking all those little things in your head that have been swirling around – and freaking starting on them. But in the smallest way. Even when I really, really don’t want to.

How can you use the “Do Something” Principle in your life?

Gosh, I’ve found a million ways to use this personally, and I wanted to share a few of those with you. I added in some ideas that aren’t necessarily personal to me, but might be for you guys, too.

  • If you’re overwhelmed with your weekly to-do list, start making daily ones instead. Or even just a “morning task list.” What’s the one more important thing to do today? Just do that first.
  • If you want to start a new job or a new field, spend one hour updating your resume.
  • If you want to redecorate your house, start a Pinterest board of inspiration. Or donate one piece you don’t love.
  • If you want to lose 10 lbs, eat a salad for lunch, focus on one meal at a time – not what you need to eat for the rest of the month to stay on target.
  • If you have a ton of errands, run one. See how you feel after and where you want to go next (whether home or to another store).
  • If you have 10 blog posts to write, write 200 words today.
  • If you want to find a boyfriend or new friends in a city, spend one hour at a coffee shop alone. Or text one person.
  • If you have a lot of work that needs to be done in one day, shut down your emails, put your calendar away, and focus on one task at a time.
  • If you need to organize your house, clean out one drawer. Or set a timer for 20 minutes and do it for that long.
  • If you’re sad and can’t get over it, make a list of things that usually make you happy. Then maybe do one.
  • If you want to start working out, commit to 10 minutes of exercise. Just that day. Then see if you want to keep going.
  • If you want to clean out your closet, find three things to give away. See if you want to find more.
  • If you want to start a blog, pick a font for your header.

Hopefully you get the point – it’s all about STARTING.

No matter what you start on or where it falls in order of “importance,” just start. Do something, take action. I think you’ll find that you usually want to keep going – or at least you’ll find a little motivation/inspiration to do more the next day. And if not, that’s OK! You did something. You succeeded.

I’m SO fascinated by this simple yet effective mindset, and I’d love to know how you think you could use it in your life. What is something you’re really wanting to start but have been pushing off? How can you take action today? What one small thing can you start with?

Be sure to let me know if you’ve tried this “do something” principle yourself! Anyone else read and love this book?!

Don’t forget to subscribe to LiveLaughLearn.blog to stay up to date and follow on Instagram @LiveLaughLearn.blog

XOXO.

B.