Simple & Delicious Valentine’s Day Menu

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Valentine’s Day Cookies

Valentines Day. As a kid, it was fun exchanging little cards and candies at school, but the anticipation of my dad getting home from work was the real excitement. We’d run to the back door to give him a huge hug and wait, jumping up and down. And there they were. The holy grail of Valentine’s Day. White boxes that each contained heart-shaped boxes of Fannie May candy. That’s when they used real ribbons, and made each box unique. Now I sound like my dad-“back in my day…”

My mom always got the biggest box, my sister the medium box, and being the youngest, I got the smallest box. My sister and I hid our boxes on the shelf in our closet, far away from our brothers.

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My dad & I dancing. I was probably 4 or 5 rockin’ a super cool all purple outfit. 

The days of heart-shaped boxes have passed. They’ve been replaced with a delicious meal. Not going out to eat, but a meal made at home is the best kinda Valentine’s Day.  Invite your lover, friends, or family, turn up the music, uncork some vino, and make an easy, yet delicious meal together. Here’s a simple menu you can use. Try one recipe or make a night of it, cooking them all.

Let’s start with a simple appetizer.

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Brie Cheese

STRAWBERRY BAKED BRIE

Ingredients:

2 pounds of whole brie

16 ounces of strawberry preserves

1 sheet frozen pastry puff, thawed

Directions:

1. Place whole Brie with rind on an oven proof serving dish with shallow sides.

2. Spread preserves over brie.

3. Stretch puff pastry to cover brie and tuck under the sides.

4. Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 25 mins.

Serve with crackers or bread.

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Shrimp Pasta

Here’s a tasty main dish you can’t mess up & is sure to be loved by everyone.

ANGEL HAIR PASTA W/ SHRIMP (or without)

Ingredients:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided

1 8 ounce package of angel hair pasta

1 tsp garlic, minced

1 pound of shrimp, peeled & deveined

2 20 ounce cans Italian style diced tomatoes, drained

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup chopped parsley

3 tbsp fresh basil, chopped

3 tbsp fresh Parmesan cheese, grated

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Pasta!

Directions:

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil & add 1 tbsp of oil. Cook pasta until al dente. Place pasta in a colander to drain.

2. Heat remaining oil in a large skillet on medium heat.

3. Cook garlic constantly stir & don’t allow it to burn.

4. Add shrimp and cook for 3 to 5 minutes & remove from skillet.

5. Add tomatoes, wine, parsley & basil to skillet & stir. Cook about 10 mins until liquid reduces half way.

6. Add shrimp and cook another 3 minutes.

7. Serve shrimp over pasta & spring fresh Parmesan over top.

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Mini Cherry Cheesecakes

Of course I included a dessert recipe; the most important course! I’m actually going to give you 2 dessert recipes.

MINI CHERRY CHEESECAKES

Ingredients:

12 Nilla wafers

2-8 ounce packages of cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup of sugar

2 eggs

3/4 cup cherry pie filling

Cup cake liners

12 cup cake pan

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Line cup cake holders with paper liners, place one wafer in the bottom of each cup & set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese & sugar they’re until it’s light & fluffy.

4. Add 1 egg & beat mixture then add 2nd egg & beat again.

4. Spoon mixture equally into all 12 cup cake sections (on top of wafers).

5. Bake for 30 minutes.

6. Turn off oven & slightly open the oven door, leaving the cheesecakes in the oven for 30 more minutes.

7. Remove tray from oven & allow cakes to cool completely.

8. Top each cheese cake with cherry pie filling.

9. Place tray in the frig for at least an hour before serving.

10. Store leftovers in the frig.

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chocolate

SLOW COOKER MOLTON LAVA CAKE

*works best in a 4 quart cooker

Ingredients:

1 cup flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 tbsp butter

1/3 cup chocolate chips

1 cup sugar, divided

3 tbsp + 1/3 cup cacao powder

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp salt

1/3 cup nut milk

1 egg yolk

1/3 cup brown sugar

1.5 cups hot water

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chocolate

Directions:

1. Coat inside of cooker with non stick spray.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour & baking powder.

3. In a separate bowl, melt the chocolate & butter & mix.

4. Whisk in 2/3 cup of sugar, 3 tbsp of cacao, vanilla, salt, milk & egg yolk.

5. Add flour mixture & mix completely.

6. Pour batter into slow cooker & spread evenly.

7. Whisk together remaining sugar, cacao, and hot water until sugar is dissolved. Pour over batter in slow cooker. Do not mix.

8. Cover & cook in high 1-2 hours. The cake will be very moist and floating on a layer of molten chocolate when it’s done. You’ll know it’s done when the edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pot.

9. Turn off cooker and remove lid. Don’t let lid drip into cake.

10. Allow cake to cool for 25-30 minutes before cutting and spooning onto plates.

11. Make it extra tasty by adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Happy cooking and Happy Valentine’s Day! 

xo, 

KK

 

 

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Travel Guide to San Diego

In Balboa Park
California Tower/Balboa Park

San Diego is the perfect place to spend a summer vacation, especially if you want to escape the desert heat of Arizona, like me. It’s only a 50-minute flight from the Valley of the Sun. Yeah, I will be flying there more!

My trip was totally spontaneous because let’s face it-traveling is my spirit animal! I must do it, and do it often. Ok, so I decided to go to San Diego on Monday and fly out the next morning on a SOUTHWEST flight. They have several flights per day to pick from. I checked out several hotels and settled on staying in the city. Last time I stayed right on the beach, so I wanted to switch up the vibes a bit.

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The Palomar Hotel/San Diego

I checked into the The PALOMAR on 5thAve. It’s right in the hub of Gaslamp Quarter. The Palomar Hotel was very accommodating for my earlier than regular check in hour, and they had super friendly staff. It was middle ground for the places I wanted to visit. This area is known for its night life, but it wasn’t so loud that it kept me awake. You know me-early to bed, early to rise. They have a beautiful pool with a full food/drink bar on the 4thfloor, and a gym-which I only used once since I did so much walking!

THE PALOMER
Pool: 4th Floor of Palomar Hotel
THE PALOMAR
Poolside at The Palomar Hotel

THINGS TO DO

You know how much I love animals, so my first priority was the SAN DIEGO ZOO. It’s HUGE and your admission ticket comes with a guided bus tour. I decided to go at my own pace and walk the grounds so I could take time taking pictures-you know how I just got a fancy camera! I got there when it opened at 9am and walked to the monkeys first. I don’t think I have smiled that big in ages! It was like being in another world with these creatures. Africa Rocks was definitely my favorite section of the SAN DIEGO ZOO. There’s a ton of places to eat in the zoo from restaurants to mini snack stands. I walked the entire zoo in 4 hours, and headed to my next stop…

BALBOA PARK! The zoo is part of Balboa Park, & the park is huge! You could make a whole day of it. I explored Balboa & was in heaven! The weather was perfect so I checked out the Botanical building & Lily Pond, soaked in the gorgeous architecture, stumbled upon the Japanese Friendship Garden, and of course took a ton more pictures. There’s museums, shopping, gardens, and scheduled tours.

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Botanical Building/Lily Pond
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Butterfly at Lily Pond

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It’s pretty hard to get me out for night life, but when it comes to baseball, I’m in! This was my first time at PETCO PARK where the PADRES were playing the A’s. It was a 10-min. walk from my hotel, & there were plenty of people walking too. I had great seats behind home plate-talk about views! I ordered food from PHILL’S BBQ. It did not disappoint. The chicken was so juicy and coated in the most delicious BBQ sauce. I can still taste it! It came with fries & slaw which were great.PADRESPADRES

Other suggestions:I was close enough to hop right over to Coronado Beach and enjoy the gorgeous beach, or go to the water for a beautiful HORNBLOWER boat tour (both of which I did last time I was in San Diego), but I wanted to check out new spots this trip.

PHIILL'S BBQ

WHERE TO EAT 

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CaliCream

-Dessert First-

Lucky for me CALI CREAM ice cream shop recently opened down the street. With over 60 ice cream flavors, you can make more than one stop here! Plus, they give you unlimited samples before you order. I went with Dat Brownie Dough flavor. Total heaven!

-Lunch Twice-

The staff at the Palomar recommended eating at IRONSIDE FISH & OYSTER in Little Italy. Little Italy is a 5 minute Uber ride or a 15-20-minute walk from Gaslamp. I did both a lot since I kept going back to Little Italy.  IRONSIDE is a totally gorgeous place with a wood and plant entrance, octopus décor, and the wall of piranha!

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Piranha Wall: Ironside

I went back a couple days later because the food was so delicious and the staff was a super welcoming. I had oysters, rock fish ceviche, swordfish over salad, and shrimp. They have the best cocktails I’ve ever had! Definitely order a Negroni!

-Clean Eats-

Finally, I made it to CAFE GRATITUDE. Each dish is named with an affirmation & I am all about using affirmations! Their menu is packed with plant-based, organic meals & drinks.

I had the soup of the day-a butternut squash. It was a delight in my mouth bowl of goodness. Next, I ordered the delicious BoochCraft kombucha (I am seriously counting the days until this stuff hits Arizona). Then I got the I am Welcoming Mediterranean Plate. The falafel, hummus, tabbouleh, and crostini were so tasty and filling.

-Pizza-

NAPIZZA
Napizza

Pizza is one of my true loves, and I can say I found the best pizza in San Diego-NAPIZZA!  They serve pizza by the slice, plus salads-my favorite combo of all time if you really know me well. I ordered the BBQ chicken, veggie combo, & cheese slices. The crust is to die for!  NAPIZZA is also in Little Italy. Now can you see why I kept going back?

-Nuts for Donuts-

Hello DONUT BAR!

The deco of this place caught my eye. It’s a lot of pink with angel wings-a girl had to check it out! The unicorn donut was a beauty so I ordered that first, then their famous Homer ‘s donut, and a salted caramel donut.

They were the perfect sugar treat to have before walking for hours in the zoo. I liked the Homer’s Donut best-pink, with a cake batter glaze & sprinkles.

-Dinner of my Dreams-

LIONFISH. It was a 5-minute walk from the hotel, right down the street in fact. 5thAve is filled with night life and plenty of places to eat and visit. LIONFISH takes reservations, but they were very happy to seat me after I walked in. It’s a two-story place, with rooftop seating (I’ll have to sit there next time), and a huge fresh seasonal ingredient menu.

I’ll just say it was really hard to pick since everything sounded so great. After asking my waiter and the chef for recommendations (I can be very specific when it comes to ordering), I made up my mind. I actually started using Tim Ferriss’ tips for getting a table (and being VIP) at Hot Restaurants HERE and they work! FOOD I ordered: the lobster appetizer, the cod fish which comes with mussels & clams, and side of brussel sprouts mixed with squash & lumps of goat cheese. It was all so delicious & my waiter surprised me with a chocolate mousse dessert cake. What a gent!

That was a lot of running around & eating for a 4-day trip, but it was so worth it! My dogs were tired so I spent an afternoon by the pool- that California sun felt so good!

There’s so many more places in San Diego I want to visit & people to see, but that only gives me another reason to go back! Tell me more places I need to go next time I’m in San Diego!

See ya next time!

KK

Turnt on Turmeric

IMG_7682 Hi guys! I feel like this blog post has been a LONG time coming! I wanna talk all things turmeric, and why I use it every day. That’s right, I use it every single day! And I’ll tell you why! 

I took a TON of medication when I was recovering from my accident. I am talking months and months of antibiotics, pain meds, you name it. Of course after being run over by an SUV, that was mandatory. As I recovered using those meds, my body was severely inflamed, bloated, ached, and just did NOT run properly. UGH! I couldn’t believe that I would be in continuous pain forever with all the injuries I sustained. 

IMG_7678Enter turmeric! I discovered this MAGNIFICENT root that is a golden miracle! LITERALLY! I started taking a turmeric supplement in a capsule form every morning, and noticed a big decrease in my inflammation and pain levels each day. THEN, I watched as my skin literally started to GLOW! My stomach bloat became reduced, because it also helps release toxins from your body. 

Now don’t get me wrong, I still get massive bouts of pain after a long days or during stressful times-even during the super fun events in life. This is where I amp my intake of turmeric in yummy ways! I make some delicious drinks like my TURMERIC ELIXIR or my TURMERIC GOLDEN MILK. I even add it to my recipes like this one, TURMERIC POACHED EGGS. I bet Lauryn from the The Skinny Confidential would love these eggs on her GG crackers! 

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So I definitely sneak turmeric into my recipes as often as possible, even if it’s the slightest amount.

Turmeric seriously gives you the most radiant skin! SKIN!! I almost forgot! I must leave you with this tip. I make a super dreamy skin mask using turmeric since it calms pores and decreases acne and scarring! Just mix 1/2 tbsp. of turmeric powder, 1 tbsp. of raw honey, and lather it all over your face! After 15 minutes, gently remove the mask and watch your skin GLOW! Smooth and soft my skin feels immediately! 

IMG_7681Ready to get Turnt on Turmeric with me? Start small just by using a capsule  everyday or by making my turmeric drinks or food recipe above. Of course if you are on any other meds or medical watches, check with your health care provider to see if it’ll interact with your other supplements or meds. I have never had any issues with turmeric except reaping all the AMAZING benefits, but we are all different. 

Much love to you all!

xo,

KK

3 Ways to Get Slim for Summer

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Spring has sprung-at least in Arizona it has! I’m not kidding though, I still can’t believe how fast March flew by. I keep thinking it should still be February.  Any day now, we’ll be wearing skirts, tanks, and our swimsuits again. Sound fun?

I’m going to admit, I don’t feel ready for it this year. One, I’m not in me best shape. I’m not sitting here dwelling on that though. I know with a few, simple things, that can all get a whole lot better. These easy tricks help me slim down, de-bloat, gain energy, and seriously make my skin GLOW! I love that added bonus.

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I know you are probably thinking, “Ok, come on with it and give me the tips already!”

TIP 1: WATER! Drink it like it’s your LIFE. Not to be dramatic, but you must drink a ton of water each day. Literally carry around a gallon jug. Bring that sucker to work with you, and use it to refill your regular water cup. While I am working at home, I keep my gallon on the counter and refill thought the day. Or I lug the jug with me everywhere. Extra tip: drink more water in the first half of the day. This way you’ll be sure to get it in, PLUS you will be hydrating your body.  A hydrated body doesn’t give your body false hunger signals. 

IMG_4946 TIP 2: GREENS! When I have been slacking (like this week) on getting in my greens, I just make sure I have them in the morning. Then the whole day doesn’t go by without me eating or drinking them. Yup, you heard me, I eat or drink my greens. I either make a big smoothie (green recipes posted on my website) and pack it with mostly greens, or I have a huge green vegetable filled salad later in the day. Double bonus if I have both in one day. Extra tip: having all these greens will help you kick any cravings you have. BUT you have to eat or drink them everyday! 

Tip 3: MOVE! That’s right, get your booty going! I know at home workouts are super convenient, especially in the winter, but getting your buns outside for a workout is super magical!! I always notice the way my body feels after a hike, a long 

IMG_7385walk around town, riding my bike, or playing with my nieces at the park. The fresh air, feeling the vitamin D on my skin, and not not to mention the beauty I can watch while moving are very therapeutic. Nature and exercise go together like Selena and Justin, chips and guac, and cheese and wine. Ok, I think you get the idea. Trust me, it’s like cheap (inexpensive) therapy. I’m not kidding. Anytime I’m in a funk or feel like crap, I get outside. I know it’s the quickest way to solving any mood I don’t want.

I want to know, what tricks do you have to get slim for summer? Tell me! I love trying new things. Also, what other topics do you want me to Blog about? Ask me any questions. 

xo, KK

Perfect Pizza (Dough) in a SKILLET!

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Ok, so I LOVE PIZZA if it hasn’t been too obvious yet, haha! Really who doesn’t though? Lucky for me my parents sent me a cast iron skillet for my birthday! I was doin’ a serious happy dance as I tore that box open! THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS!! Today I will give you all my tips and tricks to get the PERFECT PIZZA pie using the PIZZA SKILLET. Guy Fieri would be banging down my door for this thing!

BEFORE you go baking and cooking your little hands off, your skillet should be SEASONED! It’s quite simple, but it really primes the beauty for proper cooking. First, I jacked up my oven to 450 degrees, and coated my skillet with extra virgin olive oil. You can use any oil you have, but make sure it’s one that can sustain high temperatures (say 400 degrees and above). Once your oven is heated, set that skillet in the oven for about 20 minutes, remove and allow it to cool. Also, avoid cooking acidic foods until your skillet is “broken in” (used 5-8 times, well seasoned). Now lets talk PIZZA!!!

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I bought some pre-made dough at Whole Foods, around 20 ounces for the initial trial run of PIZZA SKILLET joy. Then, I warmed up my oven to 450 degrees, and again oiled my skillet with E.V.O.O. (extra virgin olive oil). I made sure my dough was rising on the counter while I prepped. Place your skillet in the oven for about 4 minutes, getting the skillet piping HOT. (Be sure to have a good PAIR of pot holders).  Remove the skillet and spread out your pizza DOUGH covering the bottom of the skillet. Or you can get crafty and toss your DOUGH in the air! Whatever works for you. Place your skillet back into the oven for 4 minutes until dough is puffy but NOT browned, then remove it again.

Now dress your PIZZA! Smooth out some maranara sauce, and brush the edges of the pizza dough with some E.V.O.O. Add veggies, meats, cheeses, etc. Then bake your PIZZA for another 8-12 minutes, watching it CAREFULLY! Edges will brown and middle will bubble when it’s ready. Each oven is so different as far as the way and the time they take to bake, so keep an eye on things. Remove and garnish your PIZZA with fresh herbs! Allow it to cool, slice, and enjoy!

IMG_2194PS-It’s NOT recommended using soap and water to clean your skillet because  this strips the seasoned iron. I’ve been rinsing mind, patting it dry, then I oil it again. I’ve been storing my skillet on top my stove. 

 

10 Ways to Sleep Better

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SLEEP. I’ll be honest, last week, I was just not having it.  There’s a myriad of factors that influence the sleep we get. Food and diet, our busy minds worrying about things, a stressful situation in life, a thunderstorm outdoors, physical/mental pain, or excitement and happy anticipation for an upcoming event. For whatever reason, sleep can be disrupted far too easily. I was born a light sleeper. Even as a little girl, I had a hard time falling asleep and remaining asleep. Warm glasses of milk, army crawling on the floor to my mom’s side of the bed, I would nag for attention, but what I wanted the most, were those magic powers to fall asleep.

Now, throughout adulthood, my sleep has its ups and downs. Sometimes I settle into bed, tired as can be, and 15 minutes in, my brain thinks of one ingredient, then another, then an entire recipe, and before I know it I’m quickly writing it down. Soon enough, half the night is gone writing out my ideas and plans. Other times, I’m just so happy and excited for the next day, that my feet are about to start racing like a kid jumping through rain puddles. And of course, there’s last weekend, when my car got stuck in the hot, desert heat, and not only was I physically melting, emotionally I just had to let myself have a meltdown. I had just taken my car to the shop last week, and now this?

When I get a good, uninterrupted night of sleep, I feel like a million bucks. The last time this happened, I went to yoga, refreshed and bouncing on my mat as we started. I could do so much more in my practice than I ever had before. That was the best day!!

To have good health, one must sleep well. Sleep should be your first non-negotiable in life. Your body needs amply sleep each night to repair itself. You need sleep for your body to manage your hormones such as insulin. Lack of sleep equals higher blood sugar levels, equals weight gain and possibly, diabetes. Your immune system weakens and your ability to fight infections decreases with repeated nights of little sleep. Mental clarity and decision making is lessoned throwing off the safety of yourself and others. The average adult should get 7-8 hours of sleep.  Some people, myself included, feel just fine with 6 hours. The 7-8 hours is what’s recommend to let your body fully repair and restore itself for the next day.

With years of sleep struggles, I have spent a ton of time researching methods of getting the best sleep. So I’ll share with you what I have learned, what has worked for me, and any other tips and tricks. If you struggle with good quality sleep, pick one tip and practice it each night. Once you have it mastered, incorporate another tip for however long it takes you to master that one. Continue until you’ve mastered most of these sleep tips, and know that you’ve improved your health significantly.

  1. Routine, routine, routine! Choose a time to start your routine for bed at the same times each night. Say you want to fall asleep at 10pm, begin your routine for bed at 9pm. Turn off the electronics, get the tub going, and pull out that book, brush your teeth, and put on your pajamas. Your body learns routines and eventually uses them as signals to activate your sleep system. Set your alarm to wake you up at the same time every day, even on the weekends. This routine of waking at the same time each day, your body will establish your sleep routine.

 

  1. Do something relaxing before bed. Take an epsom salt, lavender bath, read, drink chamomile tea, meditate, or listen to my favorite phone app called, Calm. It’s updated regularly with new stories, meditations, music, or sound. It’s geared for both children and adults. I particularly love the non-fictions stories!

 

  1. Lights! Light plays another vital role in this process. With the world obsessed over LED lighting and electronics, it’s no wonder the vast majority doesn’t sleep well. Your body uses a special chemical called melatonin to ease you into sleep. If you’re in constant light, your body doesn’t produce melatonin as it naturally would, therefore messing up your sleep. What should you do? Shut off all electronics, TV included, get out of LED bulbs an hour before you fall asleep.

 

  1. Eat a well-balanced diet. Your body will be able to rest enough to allow you to fall asleep with proper nutrition. Learn to know when your body likes food too. I can eat a bowl of oatmeal before bed and go to sleep just fine. I know some people who eat before bed and it will keep them up much later. If you’re like that, be sure to eat your last meal at least 2 to 3 hours before your bed time.

 

  1. Exercise. Do it daily.  It relieves stress that you may have built up causing you to stay up at night. Exercise also tires out your body more for sleep later at night. Moving your body outside is even better.

 

  1. No TV’s in the bedroom. Period. Your bedroom should be use for two things; sleep and intimacy. Only climb in bed when you are tired enough to sleep.

 

  1. Avoid daytime napping. When you’re trying to get your body into a regular night time routine of sleep, naps should be avoided. You may feel sleepy like you want to nap, but hold off until you have your nightly routine of sleep in place.

 

  1. After 20 minutes if you aren’t asleep, get out of bed and do something relaxing in another room like journaling, reading, or meditating. If something is on your mind, journal it out on paper. Believe me is significantly helps. Once you are sleepy enough, go to bed to fall asleep. Repeat this process if you still cannot sleep.

 

  1. Meditation and visualization. Make both a part of your bedtime routine. Start with just 5 minutes a night sitting quietly and taking deep breaths. Visualize how you want your next day to go and set positive intentions for yourself and others.

 

  1. Look at all the areas in your life. Are you spending time in each area? This isn’t easy for all of us, but the more you make the time to do it, the more it becomes a habit. Spend time with the friends and family that make you the happiest. Go on vacations, and take a few hours each weekend to decompress from the week. Pick up a new hobby as trying something new stimulates the brain and body to function and unwind.

Be sure to let me know how you have been sleeping. Did you try anything new to have a better nights sleep?

Sweet dreams,

Kristina