Spring Guidebook

Free Spring guidebook to help you get the most from this beautiful season. Whether it is during actual Springtime, or just when you have a season of growth. Click image below to access the digital PDF. Also available to print and use as a hard copy! I love to print off the foods to nourish pages and post in my kitchen for easy access while I menu plan.

Happy Spring!

Wintering

Dust of Snow

The way a crow

Shook down on me

The dust of Snow

From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart

A change of mood

And saved some part

Of a day I rued.

-Robert Frost

I have always loved the side of winter that is surrounded by the glow of a thousand Christmas lights, but come Jan that glow is gone and winter feels like trampled snow, cold dirty and never ending. That is why when I came across the book “Wintering : The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times” by Katherine May I was thrilled at the idea of someone trying to relate to winter in a different way. We used the concept of embracing the dark cold times in your life and re-contextualizing these moments to inspire us to live intentionally during every season of our life as the framework for the first three months of the year.

Many animals and plants use the winter time to rest and rejuvenate in order to come back in the spring ready to take on another year. We can do the same. This time of year can become one of preparation where we learn how to live joyfully and carry that throughout the rest of our year. The goal of the balance project for the first three months this year is to focus on “wintering”, embracing the difficult times for what they are, a change to grow and adapt and become stronger. Each month will have a theme that ties into the Wintering concept:

Restore-January
Hibernate- February
Prepare-March

2020 has been a challenge; (understatement of the year) and it may seem difficult to frame this new year in terms of joy but even small steps towards relating to a season you usually find to be long and dark is a step in the right direction.

Valentine’s Day Books for Kids

I love traditions around holidays. Kristin and I grew up with many traditions, and now I am carrying on traditions in my own family, and making some new ones of my own.

One tradition that I love is reading themed books for holidays. It’s so fun to have a pile of different books to get you excited for whatever holiday is coming up.

Valentine’s Day is next week, and here is what’s on our list! Psst, ‘Somebody Loves You Mr. Hatch’ is my favorite. Makes me cry in a good way ha! I suggest it even if you don’t have kids.

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1. Somebody Loves You Mr. Hatch- Eileen Spinelli, Paul Yalowitz

2. Plant a Kiss-Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Peter H. Reynolds

3. Love From the Crayons- Drew Daywalt, Oliver Jeffers

4. If You’ll be my Valentine- Cynthia Rylant, Fumi Kosaka

5. Arthur’s Valentine- Marc Brown

6. A Hug is for Holding Me-Lisa Wheeler, Lisk Fang

Happy reading!

-Rachael

30 Fun Ways to Move Your Body

Cream Photo Collage Homemakers Pinterest Graphic

Joyful Ways to move your body

  1. Turn on a playlist of songs and dance!
  2. Take a walk around the block, take photos of your neighborhood as you do
  3. Take the stairs but listen to music as you do
  4. Walk a dog
  5. Walk or Bike to brunch instead of drive
  6. Do an online workout with friends before hanging out
  7. Yoga with Adriene YouTube video
  8. Play basketball
  9. Hula hoop
  10. Hike
  11. Pushups/sit-ups during a t.v. commercial break (or every 20 minutes during a movie)
  12. 7 minute workout (this is the app I use)
  13. Go to a pool and play water games
  14.  Make out with someone/have sex (had to include it 😉
  15. Deep clean your house while listening to a favorite podcast or album (save it for just when you clean so it’s motivating 😉
  16.  Throw on some spandex and do good old fashioned aerobics (jumping jacks, kicks, prancercise etc.)
  17.  Kick a soccer ball around with a friend
  18. LAUGH
  19.  Do just the stretches that feel good to you. Breath deeply during the stretching.
  20. Jump on a trampoline
  21. Go shopping (it’s true-it can burn calories). No purchases required.
  22. Put on a YouTube karate video and pretend you’re the karate kid
  23.  Play at a playground (just bring a kid, or go off hours so you’re not that creepy adult…)
  24. With support, try a handstand
  25.   Play a yard game with friends (tag, red rover, capture the flag, etc)
  26.  Sit on an exercise ball while hanging out, to engage core
  27.  Doorbell ditch treats to neighbors. Bonus points if you tuck and roll out of there to avoid being caught.
  28. Try partner yoga for a fun challenge
  29.  Run around with your kids, nieces/nephews, grand kids, or pet kid (plant kids do not work as well for this activity)
  30.  Stand in the sun, reach your arms up to the sky, breath deeply, and be grateful for your body.

I’m feeling better already! 😉

-Rachael

Fitness with a Purpose

Happy New Year from The Balance Project!

 

We’re going classic January goals this month with fitness being the theme. So many people want to recharge this month and we are all for it! Don’t let resolution haters get you down! Just make useful goals.

 

How to do that? For us, we decided the first step is discovering your purpose for becoming fit (or doing whatever goal you have in mind).  And at this time in our lives, we each have different purposes.

 

Kristin is getting ready to try and have another baby (yay!), I (Rachael) am working to become stronger/fitter after I recently had a baby.

 

So, first step for you is to WRITE DOWN YOUR PURPOSE! Find intention within what you are doing. Losing XXX lbs is not a helpful goal, and likely will become frustrating along your journey. Instead, write the “why” of your fitness goals, and then focus on how you want to FEEL as you continually work towards your goals.
Given our different purposes, our fitness plans will look quite different. And yours will look different from ours! But we wanted to share ours in the hopes one might resonate with someone, and it can help you work towards your goals.

 

Think of it like those exercise videos where one person is doing the advanced (Kristin), and then “if you need something more low key”, that’s me.
Kristin has developed a structured exercise program with daily practices, but that still allows for some flexibility. Her calendar can be printed HERE– Workout Plan with a Purpose, and you can use her schedule, or make your own depending on your needs.

 

In an attempt to get back into more regular and structured exercise, I am going to incorporate “joyful movement” into my daily life. The idea being that if I intentionally move my body every day in a way that I enjoy, it will help me want to continue to improve my physical health.

Tomorrow on the blog I am sharing 30 ideas of how you can move your body daily. If this is the level you are at, join me! Do something everyday and get your body moving in a way that FEELS GOOD!

 

Or, enter BEAST MODE and follow along with Kristin to really ramp up your fitness and see big strides this month!

 

Are you making fitness goals this month? Share with us what you do to keep your resolutions useful and attainable.

 

Start today-move your body, outside, in the gym, in your home–wherever! We are doing it right along with you.

-Rachael

 

Workout Plan with a Purpose

Travel Diaries: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Rachael here! In July my husband and I both had a week off from work, so we looked at each other and said, “pick a spot!”. We knew we wanted to get out of town, and we decided to combine it with a trip to see family as well. So off to Puerto Vallarta we flew, with just a few days notice. We tried to have a good balance between fun family time and romantic time with just the two of us. Mission accomplished. Here are some of our favorites, for anyone who is planning to visit this beautiful Mexican state of Jalisco.PuertoVallartaTravelDiaries

Lodging

We went with Air BnB, and sadly ended up with a dud of a place. The apartment and location was great, but the host was a nightmare to deal with. Job is turned off of airbnb because of it, but we’ve had many good experiences with airbnb prior, so I am willing to try again on a different trip. I won’t recommend our exact condo, but as far as locations, it really depends on what kind of experience you are looking for. As for us, we wanted close to the beach, near restaurants, culture, spas, and romantic streets to walk around. Zona Romantica was the best for our needs, and we loved staying in this area. It felt like a really good mix of authentic Mexico (i.e. not a huge resort that could be anywhere in the world), but had some good amenities and things to do for travelers. If you are going for pure relaxation and beach, and don’t care about being close to nightlife/restaurants/spas, etc, we recommend going slightly south to the Conchas Chinas area (still within an uber ride to town), or head quite a bit up North to Nuevo Vallarta to stay. We traveled to all three of these areas and enjoyed visiting each of them. Again, it just depends on what you want from your vacation.

 

Food

I could go on and on about this. We go hard when it comes to food when we travel. For the few days before we left, we ate really simple, to prepare our palates (and bellies) for all the good food we were going to eat. We also have a pretty strict rule about eating the food of the area wherever we travel. I.e., when we are in Mexico, we are eating Mexican food for every meal (we cheated a few times with gelato, but otherwise were 100%). Sure there are lots of Italian restaurants, and “American Food”, and other types of food, but we want to experience the food of the area we are in! In Puerto Vallarta, that meant a lot of seafood, some interesting local specialties (like torta ahogada), and general Mexican favorites (taaaaaacos!).

A few places we recommend trying while in the area.

El Arrayán

Address: Calle Allende 344, Centro, 48351 Puerto Vallarta, Jal., Mexico

This was one of our favorite meals of the trip. It’s a tad “upscale” without being stuffy, and has an awesome environment. The staff was attentive, kind, and knowledgeable, and the food was all spot on. We loved all their salsas, and virgin cocktails, and even made room for some incredible chocolate and cinnamon cake with coffee ice cream. Our maid dishes blew us away (Duck carnitas, and chicken mole). Grab your significant other, and head to El Arrayán.

Tortas Ahogadas Toño
Address: Lisboa 136, La Vena, 48320 Puerto Vallarta, Jal., Mexico
Great location for this local specialty. The bread is crispy and firm to hold up to the sauce it is dipped in.
Marisma Fish Taco
Address: Naranjo 320, Emiliano Zapata, 48380 Puerto Vallarta, Jal., Mexico
Fish tacos. Enough said. BUT, also try their tamarind drink, it’s one of the best I’ve had. The cook is a spicy and spunky lady, who loves to make her customers laugh. We got lots of fish tacos, and also shrimp tacos which were bomb. The smoked marlin taco was not my fave, but that’s just preference. It was all well made.
Restaurant El Set
Address: Carr. Costera a Barra de Navidad 1182, Conchas Chinas, 48390 Puerto Vallarta, Jal., Mexico
 We went here for breakfast one morning and were the only ones there when it first opened. It was peaceful and lovely to have the place to ourselves. The main draw to this place is the view. It is an incredible overlook onto a white sand beach, palm trees, the works. The food is solid (chilaquiles and a fresh fruit juice is my recommendation). Have I had better Mexican food? Sure. But for a quick, tasty breakfast with a gorgeous view, this is a hit.
Address: Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez 128, Centro, 48300 Puerto Vallarta, Jal., Mexico

I’ll talk about visiting here later on in the post, but I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t tell you to get a chicken mole tostada here. It was one of the best dang mole tostadas I’ve ever had. Just the right amount of spice, chocolate, super crisp tostone, ahhh. It’s right off the malecon, so easy to hop into for a snack. We tried a few other things here that were “meh”, but I would go back for that tostada.
Tacos de Birria Chanfay
Address: Venustiano Carranza 373, Emiliano Zapata, 48380 Puerto Vallarta, Jal., Mexico
A local specialty. I recommend the beef taco birria, crispy style. Totes delish. Go for breakfast.
Address: Basilio Badillo 162, Emiliano Zapata, 48380 Puerto Vallarta, Jal., Mexico
We went to the location in Nuevo Vallarta with family. That address is: Pancho’s Takos, Valle de México 113, Valle Dorado, Mezcales, Nayarit, Mexico
Really, really great tacos. More northern style. My husband called the pork chop taco revolutionary (and he’s Mexican). We got way too much food, and ate every bite. Tip: ask for grilled baby onions and chiles. Squeeze lime and salt over them and you are in business.
Did we order this twice in a row? Yes we did. Aquachiles is one of my favorite Mexican dishes, and this guy is a legend. He makes the best fresh aguachiles from the catch of the day, and delivers it to your door. Brilliant. I love the classic green, and the mango and basil.
Cenaduría Coyoacan
Address: Calle Valle de Zirahuen 275, Valle Dorado, Mezcales, Nay., Mexico
This is a place to try if you are in in the Nuevo Vallarta area. It had delicious pozole, and we also tried the pambazos, and gorditas. This is a local joint, and you’ll feel like a local eating there.

Day Trips

Sayulita

This is the cutest little hippy surfer town. The beach was too busy at the time we went, but we carved out a little corner and enjoyed it for a little bit. The best part was walking around the little town, looking at all the shops, admiring the colors of the Papel Picado and pom poms made by local women, and eating churros (churros unrelated to Sayulita, I just really enjoyed them).

Nuevo Vallarta

Take a drive up to Nuevo Vallarta for the beaches, and some great food. We took uber up there several times to see family, and they would very kindly drive us back down to Puerto Vallarta. It’s about 30 minutes without traffic, 45 with.

We didn’t go to Marieta Islands this trip, but some family members have been and enjoyed it. Worth looking in to, but from all I’ve heard, go early in the day to avoid crowds.

 

Favorite Beaches

There are lots of beaches up and down the coast, and if we had tons of time and a car, we would have tried more. But we got to enjoy 6-7 in our short time there, which is not too shabby. Next time, I want to try out some of the incredible beaches that are only accessible by boat. Here are our favorites out of the ones that we did see and enjoy:

Conchas Chinas Playa

Our all time favorite. The most incredible light turquoise water, quiet and secluded (go early to have the beach to yourself), and perfectly soft sand. There are huge rock formations that form tide pools, and you can search for lots of fun sea creatures. The water was clean, and the waves were so chill, which made it a really relaxing location.

Playa Palmares

Clean, not so busy, clear water, gorgeous views.

Nuevo Vallarta Beach

This beach had great waves for body boarding and jumping in. It was family friendly and had easy parking. There was a pool for those who want to go from pool to ocean and back.

 

Things to Do:

  • Make your own food tour (see above for ideas of where to go). We interspersed our food tour with three museums.

–Cuale Museum (Archaeological Museum), free. This is on the Cuale River Island and is small, but worth a few minutes to learn about the trade industry in Mexico. It’s fascinating to see how other countries have affected Mexican culture and visa vera.

–Naval Historial Museum, free on Wednesdays, a few bucks otherwise. This was a cool museum! At first, I was wondering if we should skip it but I’m glad we checked it out. It also was a great place to take advantage of the AC during the hottest time of the day.

–ChocoMuseo, free. Calling this a museum is a stretch, but there is a chocolate shop, chocolate cafe, and a tiny area were they some plaques on the wall talk about how chocolate is made. It’s a cute place to hop into, and the chocolate is really good (see also: chicken mole tostada).

  • Walk the Malecon. It’s a long boardwalk along the beach and has lots of really cool art sculptures to see and shops to enjoy. Check out playa Muertos while you are here, not to hang out on the beach (way too busy for my liking), but to watch the sunset, and walk the pier. If you are staying in Zona Romantica, Playa Muertos is the closest beach to you. It’s nice to check out, not to spend hours at.
  • Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Check out this stunning church as you are walking the Malecon. It has a crown! It’s a really beautiful piece of architecture, and well worth a trip inside as well.
  • Palo Maria Cascadas. This is a jungle hike to some impressive waterfalls and swimming holes. Fair warning, it’s a tricky hike (and we followed some locals on a secret back way that ended up being the secret harder way). I would not suggest it for kids of any age, and make sure you are confident in your footing. Once you get to the “trailhead” (it’s just off the road, down from a little bridge) follow the fence for as long as you can, and then follow the river. Our route then took us up a steep cliff for a while to get up to the top pools, but you can also go to the bottom pools much easier, and then from the bottom pools you can climb a rope up to the top pools. Again, I don’t really know why we followed the locals, but alls well that ends well. It was very satisfying to make it to the pools, and the water was clean, clear, and refreshing. It also 100% felt like we were in Jurrasic Park while we were hiking. And that we were on the wrong side of the fence haha. We didn’t see any dinosaurs, but we did catch sight of lots of other local bugs and animals. The flora was stunning.
  • Get a Massage Job found a place close to our condo, and he got an almost 2 hour, deep tissue massage for about $50! He went to Metamorfosis. There are tons of places, so just look for one near you, and get your relaxation on.mexicophotos

Let us know if you have gone, or are planning a trip to Puerto Vallarta! We want to hear what you like!

Waste-less Shopping Goals

I love shopping. However not the shopping you are probably thinking about. I love grocery shopping. I lay the blame for my shopping addiction partially at the door of the Trader Joe’s store that just moved in down the road from me and partially on my love of good food. But my need for dark chocolate peanut butter cups aside I find the whole exercise of planning my meals, getting my shopping list and strolling around the store (ignoring my shopping list) quite relaxing.
As Rachael and I discussed this month’s theme of zero waste and being more environmentally friendly I realized that my approach to shopping is far from earth friendly. I tend to shop last minute or when the urge grabs me and my lack of planning can lead to buying things I don’t need. So in an attempt to avoid the pitfalls of impulse grocery shopping (for some people its shoes for me its random cheeses) I have decided to focus on five specific goals to help me move toward a zero-waste lifestyle when it comes to shopping:

1) ALWAYS bring my reusable bag. I have a few bags I can use instead of paper or plastic at the store, but I always seem to forget them at home. My solution to that is I will keep one in my car and then even if I forget my preferred giant bag I will have it. Additionally, if I get to the store and I don’t have it I can just tell them to forgo the bags and I will load directly in to my car.

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2) Along the same lines as number 1 I have purchased several canvas bags to deal with all my produce and bulk bin buys. They just came yesterday so I am excited to try them out. I just explored a few options on Amazon until I found some from “Organic Cotton Mart” what would work for me.
3) Make a shopping list and stick to it. This for me is about limiting food waste, I often come home with too much and then I end up throwing out food.
4) Try to buy glass containers or easily recyclable ones where possible. There are often choices between plastic and glass-I am going to be more mindful of this and go for what can be recycled.
5) Finally, I am going to try to consolidate my shopping trips so that I am not over buying (see number 3) and am saving gas in the process.
So, these are my goals. I would love to hear any other suggestions that people have for more mindful shopping and if you want to follow along with this month’s challenge let us know how it goes!

Fall Bucket List

Who’s excited about Fall?! We obviously are, and have made a list of some of the things we want to do to celebrate this lovely season.

Fall just lends itself to coziness, learning, long walks, holding hands, baking, and trying new things. Call us #basic, but we think it’s a pretty great season. I’ve started attending cooking and science lectures at Harvard, and they go throughout the season. Find something fun and new to learn in your area (and then share, we love to hear 🙂

Click here to print off the Fall Bucket List, and follow along!

Fall Bucket List-01What’s on your bucket list?

 

A few “during” photos, and journal entries. Week 1 to Week 4.

Remember how I don’t really like “before” and “after” photos? Mostly just calling them before and after. I do think it’s important to monitor your progress not only the scale but by how your clothes fit, and the visual progress you see.

My husband and I took some during photos before we started being more consistent with exercise, and tweaking our diet with less carbs and very limited sugar. And here’s the thing-I wasn’t perfect this month, but I still saw progress. I lost about 6 lbs, my jeans are looser, I feel stronger, and I can tell I am overall slightly leaner. These are not huge, dramatic changes, but they are a start on my ongoing journey. My goals continue to become stronger, and improve cardiac fitness. Also, while the first “during” shots are me when I am not at my fittest, I am grateful for my body then, and now, and I will be 1 year from now. Don’t hate on your body-it’s the only one you have 🙂

Week 1—–>Week 4

(don’t mind the socks and sandals haha. I didn’t know my husband would take a full body shot)

Check out my journal entries below as well. This is the most important part of health to me–how I feel.

ExerciseDiary1-4-02ExerciseDiary1-4-01

Sharing all this publically isn’t the easiest thing, but I hope it can help someone feel that they can make small changes that add up to improved health. I have definitely been inspired by others, and appreciate when people share their journey.