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VNM Book Encouragement Club | May Book Introduction


This book has been on my list for years and as someone who already keeps a very minimal space, I’m feeling excited to expand my skills and refine even more.

Don’t let your goal slow your progress.

Sometimes having a specific goal can work against you. If your goal is to read 8 pages a day but you feel exhausted and you don’t even read one, don’t let that keep you from ever picking the book up again. Just reassess & restructure your goal to meet your needs. Maybe you add 1 extra page for the following week, maybe you give yourself an additional day at the end of the month, or maybe you add a month to your overall goal.

Whatever pace you go at, just keep picking up your book.

Need more support with this? Check out these 2 posts:


As summer approaches, it feels like a good time to reassess what’s hanging around. Time to clear through any winter excess that has accumulated and welcome some lightness.

We already strive to keep a very minimal space and I’m looking forward to seeing how this book expands what we’ve already done. Though I’ve been familiar with Marie Kondo’s work for many years, I haven’t actually dipped into her book. After watching her TV show earlier this year, I feel excited to fully steep in her perspective of tidying.


The #1 New York Times bestselling guide to decluttering your home and the inspiration for the hit Netflix show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.

Despite constant efforts to declutter your home, do papers still accumulate like snowdrifts and clothes pile up like a tangled mess of noodles?

Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. Most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever. The KonMari Method, with its revolutionary category-by-category system, leads to lasting results. In fact, none of Kondo’s clients have lapsed (and she still has a three-month waiting list). 

With detailed guidance for determining which items in your house “spark joy” (and which don’t), this international bestseller featuring Tokyo’s newest lifestyle phenomenon will help you clear your clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home—and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire.”


Finish in 1 month:

7 page per day, 7 days per week | 49 pages / week
9 pages Monday - Friday, 4 pages Saturday, no reading Sunday | 49 pages /week

Finish in 2 months:

3 pages per day, 7 days per week | 28 pages / week
5 pages M-F, 3 pages Saturday, no reading Sunday | 28 pages / week


To track your goal, print out the calendar sheet below (click to download). Once printed, fill in your daily page goal in pencil (so you can adjust if need be) and hang it somewhere you’ll regularly see it. I like to use the inside of kitchen cabinets, the refrigerator, or a next to the bathroom sink.

click the image to download

Humble Luxury Soaked Lentil Flatbread (Vegan, Grain Free)


To understand the categories mentioned, check out this Introduction to Humble Luxury in the Kitchen.


Hidden Healthies | Toddlerhood | Pregnancy | Sleep Deprivation


This recipe is based on soaked dry lentils. Canned lentils or other beans won’t work for this and neither will completely dry beans.

The reason I opted for soaked dry beans is because bulk dry beans are often the most affordable way to purchase legumes, and soaking them before cooking makes them easier to digest which eliminates gas.

Please plan ahead when making this recipe. I typically like to soak lentils for 2 days before cooking with them, but even overnight will work.

I generally start soaking 1.5 - 2 cups of lentils at the start of the week. I use them for a variety of dishes through the week including dhal, soup, flatbreads, and breakfast bowls.

Note: this recipe measure pre-soaked beans. The beans will grow once they’re soaked.


In a bowl or bean pot, cover your desired amount of legumes water that rises 2 in above the beans. I also like to add roughly 1/2 tbsp fine salt and a capful of apple cider vinegar when soaking. You can add this if you have it on hand.

Place your bowl/pot in the fridge. If soaking for multiple days, strain the beans and add fresh water every 24 hours.

If you drink/cook with filtered water, soak your beans with filtered water too. You can save the water you strain off to water outdoor plants.


  • Blender

  • 8 in cast iron pan

  • Oven

  • Measuring Cup

  • Mixing Bowl


The Essentials:

  • 1 cup pre-soaked lentils (how to soak legumes above ^)

  • 1/2 cup filtered water

  • Roughly 1 TBSP olive, coconut, or avocado oil

Optional Add-Ins:

  • Swap your water for broth or herbal tea (like nettle to boost iron)

  • Herbs/flavoring within batter or sprinkled on top

    some options to consider:
    • garlic & rosemary
    • black sesame seeds
    • hemp seeds
    • Indian spices like cumin, turmeric, garam masala , fennel, anise, ginger, mustard seed
    • kelp granules
    • Thai flavors like lemongrass, coriander, chili

    • nut cheese like cashew cream
    • cheese
    • pickled onion
    • tomato sauce
    • pesto

From left: red lentil topped with salt, red lentil with black sesame seeds mixed into batter, red lentil blended with nettle tea & topped with rosemary.

From left: red lentil topped with salt, red lentil with black sesame seeds mixed into batter, red lentil blended with nettle tea & topped with rosemary.


Before you begin: soak your lentils at least overnight.

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place your cast iron pan on the top rack of your oven. Let it get hot as the oven warms.

  2. Strain & measure soaked lentils.

  3. Blend liquid of choice and lentils until smooth.The batter will be thin and easy to pour.

    Add any flavoring you’d like on the inside of the flatbread at this point.

  4. Once the oven reaches 425 and your cast iron pan is hot, pull the pan from the oven and add oil of choice.

    The pan should be hot enough to melt the oil if its solid. Swirl the oil around so it’s evenly coating the bottom of the pan.

  5. Pour the blended batter into the hot pan. Sprinkle with herbs of choice/salt/pepper.

    You’ll hear a crackle sound as the batter hits the hot pan. This will create a slightly crunchy crust. Tilt the pan to make sure the batter is evenly spread.

  6. Bake 10-12 minutes until the flatbread is firm.

  7. Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack with a spatula.

  8. Once cooled, cover with toppings of choice or cut the naked flatbread and serve with a dipping sauce.


VNM Book Encouragement Club | April Book Introduction


Phew, after a month of learning about finances we’re going to shift gears into some creative play!

Don’t let your goal slow your progress.

Sometimes having a specific goal can work against you. If your goal is to read 8 pages a day but you feel exhausted and you don’t even read one, don’t let that keep you from ever picking the book up again. Just reassess & restructure your goal to meet your needs. Maybe you add 1 extra page for the following week, maybe you give yourself an additional day at the end of the month, or maybe you add a month to your overall goal.

Whatever pace you go at, just keep picking up your book.

Need more support with this? Check out these 2 posts:


This book came recommended by quite a few people over the years. I love books that push me to build habits that amplify my creativity. I like to think of my creative expression as another muscle in my body. Books like this act as great weights to help me ‘stay fit’ creatively speaking. Since my days on stage when I was younger, Twyla Tharp has always been someone I’ve admired. I’m really looking forward to exploring her off-stage creation.


“One of the world’s leading creative artists, choreographers, and creator of the smash-hit Broadway show, Movin’ Out, shares her secrets for developing and honing your creative talents—at once prescriptive and inspirational, a book to stand alongside The Artist’s Way and Bird by Bird.

All it takes to make creativity a part of your life is the willingness to make it a habit. It is the product of preparation and effort, and is within reach of everyone. Whether you are a painter, musician, businessperson, or simply an individual yearning to put your creativity to use, The Creative Habitprovides you with thirty-two practical exercises based on the lessons Twyla Tharp has learned in her remarkable thirty-five-year career. 

In "Where's Your Pencil?" Tharp reminds you to observe the world -- and get it down on paper. In "Coins and Chaos," she gives you an easy way to restore order and peace. In "Do a Verb," she turns your mind and body into coworkers. In "Build a Bridge to the Next Day," she shows you how to clean the clutter from your mind overnight. 

Tharp leads you through the painful first steps of scratching for ideas, finding the spine of your work, and getting out of ruts and into productive grooves. The wide-open realm of possibilities can be energizing, and Twyla Tharp explains how to take a deep breath and begin...”


Finish in 1 month:

9 page per day, 7 days per week | 63 pages / week
11 pages Monday - Friday, 8 pages Saturday, no reading Sunday | 63 pages /week

Finish in 2 months:

4 pages per day, Monday - Saturday, 5 pages on Sunday | 29 pages / week
5 pages M-F, 4 pages Saturday, no reading Sunday | 29 pages / week


To track your goal, print out the calendar sheet below (click to download). Once printed, fill in your daily page goal in pencil (so you can adjust if need be) and hang it somewhere you’ll regularly see it. I like to use the inside of kitchen cabinets, the refrigerator, or a next to the bathroom sink.

click the image to download

VNM Book Encouragement Club | March Book Introduction



From a moral & ethical perspective, there were many places I didn’t align with Robert Kiyosaki. At first the book was a bit tough for me to get through for that reason. After chatting with a few folks who were reading along, I noticed many of us were feeling this and it helped me meet the book with my critical mind. Once I shifted into critical thinking mode while reading, taking moments of pause to disagree and internally clarify how I felt about a particular point, I quite enjoyed the book.

I’m taking away a lot from this book, but the main this is the realization that if I want to expand & develop my financial intelligence, I’m going to have to start reading more books by people who I will likely not align with ethically or morally. That realization feels like it’s opening me up to a lot of new books I wouldn’t have otherwise picked up.

All in all, I’d recommend this book with the note of encouraging readers to meet the pages with their ethics at the forefront of their mind.

Also, there is some extremely problematic language towards the end of the book that is disrespectful towards the Indigenous tribes of America and that erases the reality of colonization. I’d also add a trigger warning for Indigenous people.

Alright, take a deep breath! In March, we’re diving into finances.


If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s okay! This is a big subject and for those of us who didn’t have access to information about wealth management growing up, it’s often a very emotional topic.

Focus on this if you’re overwhelmed: education is always an asset.

You can move as slowly as you need to with this topic. I just want to encourage you to show up each day for even just 10 minutes and do you best.

And if you get really overwhelmed…

Don’t let your goal slow your progress.

Sometimes having a specific goal can work against you. If your goal is to read 8 pages a day but you feel exhausted and you don’t even read one, don’t let that keep you from ever picking the book up again. Just reassess & restructure your goal to meet your needs. Maybe you add 1 extra page for the following week, maybe you give yourself an additional day at the end of the month, or maybe you add a month to your overall goal.

Whatever pace you go at, just keep picking up your book.

Need more support with this? Check out these 2 posts:


This book has been on my list for awhile. I grew up with a single mother and didn’t learn anything about managing my finances or creating healthy money habits as a kid. As an adult, I’ve worked really hard to peel back the many layers of shame surrounding money to change my relationship with my finances.

I first started working on my financial health about 6 years ago, but things really changed last year after reading Worth It by Amanda Steinberg. That book inspired me to develop a daily system for organizing our family finances and a plan to guide our spending decisions. This system has helped us save more than ever before and has even given us the opportunity to take a month long trip to Denmark this July!

I’m inspired to dig deeper into the information I didn’t have access to as a child/young adult, and this book is one that comes highly recommended for that exact purpose.


“In Rich Dad Poor Dad, the #1 Personal Finance book of all time, Robert Kiyosaki shares the story of his two dad: his real father, whom he calls his ‘poor dad,’ and the father of his best friend, the man who became his mentor and his ‘rich dad.’ One man was well educated and an employee all his life, the other’s education was “street smarts” over traditional classroom education and he took the path of entrepreneurship…a road that led him to become one of the wealthiest men in Hawaii. Robert’s poor dad struggled financially all his life, and these two dads—these very different points of view of money, investing, and employment—shaped Robert’s thinking about money.

Robert has challenged and changed the way tens of millions of people, around the world, think about money and investing and he has become a global advocate for financial education and the path to financial freedom. Rich Dad Poor Dad (and the Rich Dad series it spawned) has sold over 36 million copies in English and translated editions around the world.

Rich Dad Poor Dad will…
• explode the myth that you need to earn a high income to become rich
• challenge the belief that your house is an asset
• show parents why they can’t rely on the school system to teach their kids
about money
• define, once and for all, an asset and a liability
• explain the difference between good debt and bad debt
• teach you to see the world of money from different perspectives
• discuss the shift in mindset that can put you on the road to financial freedom”


Finish in 1 month:

7 page per day, 7 days per week | 49 pages / week
8 pages Monday - Friday, 9 pages Saturday, no reading Sunday | 49 pages /week

Finish in 2 months:

4 pages per day, Monday - Saturday, 1 page on Sunday | 25 pages / week
5 pages M-F, 0 pages Saturday & Sunday | 25 pages / week


To track your goal, print out the calendar sheet below (click to download). Once printed, fill in your daily page goal in pencil (so you can adjust if need be) and hang it somewhere you’ll regularly see it. I like to use the inside of kitchen cabinets, the refrigerator, or a next to the bathroom sink.

click the image to download

Humble Luxury Leafy Green Crackers (Grain Free & Vegan Option)


If you’re guilty of having a bunch of wilting greens in your fridge each week, this month’s recipe is for you!

It’s easier than make than cut out cookies, great for picky eaters, and for curbing cravings while still getting a hidden dose of nourishment.


Humble Luxury Leafy Green Crackers

To understand the unique layout of my ratio based recipes & the categories mentioned, check out this Introduction to Humble Luxury in the Kitchen.


Hidden Healthies | Toddlerhood | Pregnancy | Postpartum | Sleep Deprivation


In this recipe I use cassava flour, a common grain free flour that behaves in a similar manner to all purpose flour. Please be aware that cassava flour does not behave in a similar way to almond flour or coconut flour. These flours are very different and will not be a 1-1 sub for cassava.

If you don’t have cassava flour, you can use an all purpose gluten free mix (without baking powder/soda) or traditional all purpose flour, as these would be the closest substitutes. (I have not tested this recipe with an all purpose gluten free flour blend or with traditional all purpose flour, but I know these flours are similar.)

Be mindful when mixing cassava flour and any gluten free blends that include xanthan gum as they can get gummy if overmixed. Mix your dough just until everything is well combined.

kitchen tools

  • Blender

  • Rolling Pin

  • Sheet Pan

  • Parchment Paper

  • Mixing Bowl

  • Large Spoon

  • Measuring Cups

  • Refrigerator

  • Oven


The Essentials:

  • 1 egg

  • 1/2 cup bone broth

  • 3/4 cup packed dark greens like spinach, kale, chard, collards, etc.

  • 3/4 cup cassava flour

Optional Add-Ins:

  • Green Powders like spirulina, wheatgrass, etc.*

  • Powdered Mushrooms like reishi, chaga, cordyceps, lion’s mane, etc.*

  • Superfood Powders like Camu Camu, Maca, Ashwagandha, Lucuma, etc.*

  • Collagen Peptides

  • Flavoring of choice**

Vegan ingredients

The Essentials:

  • 3/4 cup water or veggie broth

  • 1 cup dark greens like spinach, kale, chard, collards, etc.

  • 3/4 cup cassava flour

  • 1 TBSP chia seeds

Optional Add Ins:

  • Green Powder like spirulina, wheatgrass, etc.*

  • Powdered Mushrooms like reishi, chaga, cordyceps, lion’s mane*

  • Powders like Maca, Ashwagandha, Lucuma, etc.*

  • Flavoring of choice**

*Please note that I am not an herbalist or a natural healthcare provider that works with herbs. I cannot recommend specific herbs or combinations of medicinal plants for you personally. What’s included here is a general list. If you’re not familiar with these products and would like to learn more, I recommend contacting a local TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) Practitioner that works with herbs, an ND/Naturopathic Doctor, or an Herbalist in your area.


You can keep things simple with salt & pepper or sprinkle your favorite spices. I like to think about what I’ll be eating my crackers with and what flavors work well together. Some things to consider are:

  • Asian Flavors like seaweeds, tamari/soy sauce, black sesame seeds, wasabi, etc.

  • Italian Flavors like basil, garlic, parmesan, parsley, etc.

  • Indian Flavors like cumin, turmeric, fennel, etc.

  • Nutritional Yeast

Get creative with your flavor combos and share what you make in the comments below!


If you add a lot of powders to your crackers, that may throw off the amount of flour you use. If you dough is really dry, add a bit more broth/water.

I’d personally recommend to keep each batch relatively simple. With 1 scoop of green powder and 2 scoops of collagen peptides, the ratio wasn’t thrown off at all.

The process

  1. Pour your liquid of choice into your blender. (Add eggs if following the non vegan version.)

  2. Add your dark leafy greens on top of the liquid and blend until the greens are completely broken down. This should look like a smooth green juice.

    Please be aware that if you don’t have a high powered blender, heartier greens like kale, chard, & collards may be tough to break down. In this case, for a smooth cracker, opt for spinach. If you have other greens & a low powered blender, the recipe will still work, but you will have some chunks of greens in your crackers and they won’t be completely hidden.

  3. Pour your blended greens into your mixing bowl.

  4. Measure & add flour, chia if following the vegan version, and any optional add ins if using, then stir until combined. The dough will stick together easily. (see photo below)

  5. With slightly damp hands, pat the dough into a ball. It should be smooth once formed. (see photo below) Wrap the ball in a piece of parchment paper that’s the size of your sheet pan, and chill in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes.

  6. Once the dough is chilled, set your oven for 350 degrees F and make sure there’s a rack in the center of the oven.

  7. Rip a second sheet of parchment paper the size of your sheet pan.

  8. On your counter, unwrap your dough leaving the parchment it was wrapped in underneath.

  9. With slight damp hands, pat your dough into a flattened oval with the long sides running parallel to the long edge of the parchment paper.

  10. Place the second sheet of parchment on top of the dough. Your dough should now be sandwiched between two sheets of parchment paper.

  11. Roll the dough out until it’s roughly 1/8 in thick. (1 batch of the above ratio will roll out to about the size of a half sheet pan.)

  12. Carefully peel back the top layer of parchment paper. (You can wipe this off & save it to use at a later time.)

  13. Slide the bottom parchment & dough onto your sheet tray, parchment side down. The dough will be baked on top of this sheet of parchment.

  14. Use a fork to randomly poke holes in your dough. (If you forget this step, your cracker sheet will bubble when it bakes.)

  15. Bake on the center rack of your oven until slightly brown. Depending on how large of a batch you make, the type & temp of your oven (if it runs true), and how thick/thin you rolled your dough, baking time will vary. I made a half sheet tray at 1/4 in thick with some hot spots in my oven and baked for 35-40 minutes.

    I suggest setting a timer for 25 minutes, checking on the crackers, rotate the tray in the oven, then check again in another 10.

    Baking goes slow in the beginning and quick at the end. If you’re crackers are getting close to done, check them more frequently at the end.

    Also, use your senses! Remember you’re making crackers. If you like an extra crunchy cracker, let ‘em bake a minute or two longer. Let your nose guide you. Poke at the dough to see if it’s firm enough. Channel your grandmother.

  16. Once your crackers are done, remove them from the oven. Let rest until cool enough to handle.

  17. Flip the larger cracker onto a cooling rack and carefully remove the parchment.

  18. Break the large cracker into smaller crackers of your desired size. Note: the crackers won’t all be a uniform shape. This format of cracker making simplifies the process so it will hopefully become an effortless addition in your kitchen. Done is better than perfect!

  19. Eat fresh or store in an air tight container for 1 week.

    Leaving your crackers exposed to the air for a prolonged time will make them go stale. Seal em up to keep the crunch.

if you make a batch of crackers you Don’t love, take notes and switch it up next time. You’re developing your own favorite & unique recipe based off of my ratio. That’s a process and like any work of art, it’s in your hands.

Now I want to hear from you! Share what flavor combination you made & what you served on/with your crackers below.


Community Questions: Grief & Eating Disorder Recovery

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I recently received this DM on Instagram and thought it would make a great question for my new monthly blog series: Community Questions. It’s as straight forward as it sounds - I take your questions and answer in a blog post à la Dear Abby.

I’ll be keeping everyone’s identity anonymous for this column and will default to gender neutral pronouns (they/them/their) if needed.


“I’d love to hear more about what helped you during recovery from your eating disorder, and I guess the same question for recovering during your (postpartum septic blood) infection. I’m currently working part time, going to school full time, in recovery for an eating disorder, while trying to grieve the loss of my older brother, and my mental health is really really struggling.

I’m in the process of finding a counselor and I got your Redefining Success Journal but I can’t seem to eat enough on any consistent basis despite the best of intentions and I’m experiencing a lot of physical dis-ease symptioms that are creating major anxiety. So I’d really love to see some more blog posts on this or if you have any suggestion for me, I’d be so grateful.

Thank you so so much in advance.
Much love,


Dear A,
First, thank you for trusting me with your story & experience. It’s an honor to know that you feel safe enough to reach out to me, and I’m so proud of you for asking for help during this time. I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your brother. I know how disorienting grief can be, and I imagine you must be processing a lot. I can imagine you must be feeling really exhausted and overwhelmed. I know personally when I’m feeling those things, missing meals is common and easy. I know how much energy it takes to eat nourishing meals all day during times like this, and even 15 years after my recovery, it’s still hard. You’re definitely not alone there, A.

These are some things I do now to help stay nourished when I’m feeling overwhelmed. I’m also going to share some things I did to reclaim a sense of pleasure from food while I was recovering from my eating disorder 15 years ago.

  1. Plan Ahead

    Truly the only way I manage to eat enough in the day is by having meals pre-made. This might sound exhausting given how full your schedule already is, but consider just starting small and building slowly. Making a big batch of broth, soup, stew, congee, or dhal requires a bit of prep but it’s mostly time on the stove/crockpot/instantpot. Dishes like this freeze well too which is a great bonus. You could double a batch and freeze half for the coming week.

    You can also check out this post where I talk about food prep instead of meal prep at the start of the week. This would require being home to cook a bit, but it drastically saves time.

    My best tip for planning ahead: pick 1 day per week, which is the same every week, when you handle meal/food prep. In our house, it’s Sunday. We do the bulk of our grocery shopping and make at least 2 dishes for the week and it saves us so much energy during the week ahead.

  2. Sip It

    Broth is my go to when I’m having trouble eating. It’s an easy to consume, easy to digest, nutrient dense option that can travel with you in a thermos. I like to drink broth like a warm tea which makes it feel a lot easier to consume than a full meal. When I don’t have an appetite, it’s easy to get down and keeps my body from being too empty.

    Get my recipe for Humble Luxury Bone Broth here. I share simple ways to scale the recipe up and down based on your budget & needs, plus directions to make it on the stovetop, in the crockpot, or in an instant pot.

  3. Focus on easy to digest meals

    When I don’t have an appetite, the last thing I want is a big plate of food - especially cold food like salad. During times like this, when grief & overwhelm are taking center stage in the body, easy to digest food can help you stay grounded and nourished.

    Foods to avoid:

    • Fried Food

    • Spicy Food

    • Sugar/Artificial Sweeteners

    • Raw/Crunchy Foods

    • Processed Foods

    Focus on slow cooked, warm foods like broth, soup, stew, congee, and dhal.

    Some places to find recipe inspiration for easy to digest meals:

    • Postpartum Foods! This is a time when people need to eat warm & easy to digest meals so if you look for traditional postpartum recipes, you’ll find things that are also great during times of trauma & healing. The First Forty Days by Heng Ou is a great cookbook covering postpartum meals.

    • Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Spleen Qi Meals & Foods | These meals will also be easy to digest and warming.

  4. Cook Smarter not harder

    If it’s accessible for you, I’d recommend purchasing some kitchen appliances to make cooking easier. Things like a rice cooker (which you can get for under $20) and a crockpot or instant pot can make the process of preparing easy to digest food a lot easier.

  5. Slow Down & Focus on the essentials

    It’s easy to feel like everything needs to be done now. I’ve come to know that health is #1. Nothing else can happen if we’re not healthy. I mean, it can for awhile, but eventually that road runs out. It’s not sustainable and it feels awful in the process.

    Is it possible to remove something thing or things from your plate, A, to focus on your health right now? Maybe a sabbatical from school? Even 1 semester?

    I know it’s not accessible all the time to make space in a busy schedule, but trade offs are inevitable. If you’re finding it difficult to make space, consider this: By not removing something from your schedule, you’re sacrificing something else.

    What are sacrificing and is it worth it?

    Is it worth it to stay in school at the detriment of your physical & mental health?

    Explore what’s most essential to you, what you’re not willing to sacrifice, then make the difficult decision that will support you in focusing on those essentials.

    If you’re looking for more help understanding and integrating the process of finding what’s essential, I recommend reading or listening to the audiobook of Essentialism by Greg McKeown. He goes deeper into the concept of trade offs and the practical how-to process of living like an essentialist.

  6. Grab every moment of pleasure

    Pleasure can be small and simple. When I was recovering from that infection during postpartum, the small whispers of pleasure saved my life. It was, for me, the smallest things like a fresh flower, the flicker of a candle, the smell of lavender. All of these littles moments gave me a breath of pause to remember the joy of being alive and the beauty thats here, even though I felt so far from that joy and beauty. Every little moment of pleasure reminded me that there’s something to fight for, that there’s a reason I’m working so hard to get better.

    In The Redefining Success Journal, one of the activities is to define what pleasure looks and feels like to you. I recommend doing that exercise, then making space to savor and feel those big and small moments of pleasure. Most often, I find it’s simply about opening our eyes to what is pleasurable to us and remembering to notice it.

Finding Pleasure in Food Post Eating Disorder

  1. Treat Food Like Art

    One of the things I did while I was recovering from my eating disorder was to view food as a form of creative expression. There are so many different colors, textures, and shapes that food can be.

    When I began looking at food as a creative medium like painting or sculpting, it totally changed my experience of interacting with meals. The process of cooking became one of exploration and self expression. It helped me claim my identity and value, which is massive when recovering from an eating disorder.

    Plus, art is subjective. Everyone likes different art and different mediums and, one piece can tell many stories based on who is viewing it. Applying that same mentality to my food totally shifted how I felt about eating. This outlook helped me meet my meals with a sense of curiosity, searching for the inspiration and expression, rather than meeting it with shame and self loathing.

  2. Dig In - Literally

    Another thing that radically shifted how I view and experience food was focusing on growing my own. Tending to a garden felt like tending to my body. As my little baby seeds grew to sprouts, then to flowers, then to food, they reflected to me all the potential inside of my own body. As they grew, so did I. Plus, the process of raising food from seed to table was an experience that made me feel so joyful once it came time to cook.

    If it’s not possible to start a garden right now, consider searching for a way to shop locally. CSA or Community Supported Agriculture is usually an affordable way to buy local produce. It helps farmers plan for the season ahead. Plus, farms are often open to letting you come help harvest once or a few times during the season in exchange for a big box of food. Check out your local farmer’s market and ask around to see who offers CSAs.

    Focusing on local eating was one of the first steps I took during my recovery. When I was a freshman in High School, I read a book called Plenty : One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally by J.B. MacKinnon and Alisa Smith and it cracked my mind open to what’s possible in the kitchen. This was the inspiration that lead me to view food as a form of art and it showed me how interconnected food is to the Earth. It made me feel less alone and reminded me of all the many lives that have lived, and cooked, on this planet.

  3. Learn to Cook Something New

    Learning to cook something new is a great way to shift your focus from shame & loathing to value & pride. It may take some time to master your skill, but once you do, wow! What a feeling! This is great way to build self esteem and joy in the kitchen. From simple skills like proper knife skills to more complex things like tempering chocolate, learning a new skill can be a huge boost to your confidence. That’s really how I learned to bake, which lead to do it professionally for quite a few years. You may be surprised what your skill brings into your life!

    And, if you don’t have time to learn a new skill, consider just watching some food shows. I’ve found a lot of inspiration watching other people use food as art. The Great British Baking Show is a great option since it’s so kind and sweet (pun intended).

Hope that helps your recovery, A, and anyone else who may find value in these words.

Have a question that you’d like answered in this monthly column? email me at with subject, ‘Entry for Community Questions.’

VNM Book Encouragement Club | February Book Introduction


I’m super excited for this month’s book! It’s been on my list for awhile and I can’t wait to steep in all of Franchesca’s brillance. Below you’ll find details about the book, daily page goals, plus a free printable goal tracker.

As always, before we dive in, I want to say this:

Don’t let your goal slow your progress.

Sometimes having a specific goal can work against us. If you goal is to read 8 pages a day but you feel exhausted and you don’t even read one, don’t let that keep you from ever picking the book up again. Just reassess & restructure your goal to meet your needs. Maybe you add 1 extra page for the following week, maybe you give yourself an additional day at the end.

Whatever pace you go at, just keep picking up your book.

Need more support with this? Check out these 2 posts:


Ive been a huge fan of Franchesca Ramsey for a long time. Her comedic YouTube channel tackles difficult topics around race, identity, and social justice in an easy to understand & digest format. Her work has helped me learn so much over the years. She’s not only helped me learn how to take deeper responsibility for my own actions, but she’s also given me a whole dictionary of language to support me in having difficult conversations with other people too. Her content has been majorly influential in guiding me through the process of calling people out & in, and holding myself to the same level of accountability.

Bonus: it’s Black History Month and I love that we’re A. reading a book by a phenomenal BWOC and B. reading a book about having/continuing conversations about race & identity.

I’m super excited to read Franchesca’s first book and can’t wait to dive in with you!


In this sharp, funny, and timely collection of personal essays, veteran video blogger and star of MTV's Decoded Franchesca Ramsey explores race, identity, online activism, and the downfall of real communication in the age of social media rants, trolls, and call-out wars. 

Franchesca Ramsey didn't set out to be an activist. Or a comedian. Or a commentator on identity, race, and culture, really. But then her YouTube video "What White Girls Say . . . to Black Girls" went viral. Twelve million views viral. Faced with an avalanche of media requests, fan letters, and hate mail, she had two choices: Jump in and make her voice heard or step back and let others frame the conversation. After a crash course in social justice and more than a few foot-in-mouth moments, she realized she had a unique talent and passion for breaking down injustice in America in ways that could make people listen and engage. 

In her first book, Ramsey uses her own experiences as an accidental activist to explore the many ways we communicate with each other--from the highs of bridging gaps and making connections to the many pitfalls that accompany talking about race, power, sexuality, and gender in an unpredictable public space...the internet. 

WELL, THAT ESCALATED QUICKLY includes Ramsey's advice on dealing with internet trolls and low-key racists, confessions about being a former online hater herself, and her personal hits and misses in activist debates with everyone from bigoted Facebook friends and misguided relatives to mainstream celebrities and YouTube influencers. With sharp humor and her trademark candor, Ramsey shows readers we can have tough conversations that move the dialogue forward, rather than backward, if we just approach them in the right way.”

Click here to watch Franchesca talk about the book with one of my other favorite content creators, Marie Forleo.


Finish in 1 month:

9 page per day, 7 days per week | 63 pages / week
11 pages Monday - Friday, 8 pages Saturday, no reading Sunday | 63 pages /week

Finish in 2 months:

5 pages per day, 7 days per week | 35 pages / week
6 pages M-F, 5 pages Saturday, 0 pages Sunday | 35 pages / week


To track your goal, print out the calendar sheet below (click to download). Once printed, fill in your daily page goal in pencil (so you can adjust if need be) and hang it somewhere you’ll regularly see it. I like to use the inside of kitchen cabinets, the refrigerator, or a next to the bathroom sink.

click the image to download

Humble Luxury Bone Broth

DSC_7228 copy.jpg

I’m so excited to be sharing recipes again. After a 5 year hiatus from sharing in a space like this, it feels good to be back at it with a whole lot more life experience and a very clear perspective in the kitchen.

To kick things off, I’m sharing a foundational element from my kitchen: bone broth.

I like to drink a mug of bone broth with breakfast and usually rely pretty heavily on it for quick, nutrient dense dinners and lunches.

Humble Luxury Bone Broth

To understand the unique layout of my ratio based recipes & the categories mentioned, check out this Introduction to Humble Luxury in the Kitchen.


Pregnancy | Postpartum | Menstruation | Sleep Deprivation | Immune Boosting


The Essentials:

  • Chicken Bones - backs, necks

  • Water

Basic Ratio:

  • 1 : 1.5 lbs of bones to quarts of water
    For every 1lb of chicken bones used, you’ll need roughly 1.5 quarts of water. You can use more water if you need to stretch your ingredients, especially if you add anything from the optional add in list. Adding more water without add ins will make your broth less flavorful & not as gelatinous, but it’s totally doable if you need to get more from your pounds of bones.

Optional Add-Ins:

These add ins also build on the ratio above, for every 1 lb of bones used, use roughly the amounts below. Adjust based on how much broth you’re making and what you have in your kitchen. Again, these are rough estimates. If you only have 1 TBSP of vinegar or 1 onion for 6 lbs of bones, it’s okay. You’ll still end up with bone broth, the flavor will just be a bit different.

  • 1 chicken wing (the tip boosts collagen, the meat boosts flavor)

  • 2 chicken feet (to boost collagen)

  • 1/2 TBSP apple cider vinegar and/or

  • 1/2 TBSP black vinegar

  • 1/2 cup white or yellow onion or onion scraps from cooking throughout the week

  • 2 cloves of garlic

  • 1 carrot

  • 1 celery stalk

  • assortment of culinary herbs like thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, sage, etc.

  • 1/4 - 1/2 inch fresh turmeric root

  • 1/4 inch fresh ginger root

  • healthy pinch each of black pepper and salt

    A note about medicinal herbs before we continue:
    I’m not an herbalist. I can’t tell you what you should and shouldn’t take. There are a lot of factors that are involved in that level of advice. What I can share is what I use for myself in my kitchen. Please remember our bodies are different, our needs are different, and our different access points to herbs varies. If you’re interested in knowing more about medicinal herbs for your specific needs, I recommend looking into herbalists in your area.
    And if you’re passionate about herbs & access, I recommend supporting Seed, Root, Bloom - an herbal school for and by people who are black, indigenous, and from historically racially oppressed communities.

    Ok, back to optional add-ins:

  • 1/4 cup fresh or dried nettle leaf

  • 1 fresh burdock root or 1/4 cup dried burdock root

  • 1/4 cup astragalus root

When I add herbs & onion to my broth, I also typically increase the water I use by about 1/2 quart.


  • Place bones, feet, and wings (if using) into the appropriate pot (see below).

  • Roughly chop up vegetables & herbs if using and add to the bones.

  • Top with water.

Stove Top & Crockpot | 12 - 24 hours:

  • Cook on low for 12 - 24 hours.
    For stove top: use a medium - large stock pot, depending on the amount of ingredients you use.
    For crockpot: use the included pot.

Instant Pot | 2.5 - 3 hours:

  • Place all ingredients into the pot.

  • Double check to make sure
    1. everything is below the MAX line
    2. your sealing ring is in place on the lid
    3. the steam release knob is turned to the ‘sealing’ position.

  • Lock the lid.

  • Press manual button and set to 120 minutes
    *Note: it typically takes 15-30 minutes for the pressure cooker to fully pressurize. The timer will show once the instant pot is at full pressure.

  • After the timer goes off, allow the pressure to release naturally. Just like pressurizing in the beginning, this will take about 15-30 minutes. The float valve will fall when the pressure has released.

  • Strain broth and serve, or allow the broth to chill & store it as needed (see below).

Find Your way

Humble luxury in the kitchen is all about finding the way that works for you based on your needs, desires, and resources. I encourage you to explore with what I’ve offered here and find your favorite way to make your broth. If you make a batch you don’t love, take notes and try something different next time. Think like your grandmother in the kitchen. Use your sense, your hands, your ears, your eyes. Let your food sing to you!


Fridge: 1 week
Freezer: 6 months-ish

If you use broth in cooking, consider freezing in ice cube trays or in 1 cup portions. This will allow you to pull a small amount out at a time and will help to avoid waste.

When Freezing in
Glass Jars:
make sure to leave 1.5 - 2 inches of space from the broth to the top of the jar to allow room for expansion. I also recommend letting the broth freeze fully before screwing the lid on. This will keep your glass jars from breaking.
You can use dry erase marker on the lid before freezing to note when the broth was made.

Silicone Bags: Again, make sure to leave room for expansion. Most silicone bags have a fill line and typically account for frozen goods. I recommend using the freezer door (if you have one with shelves) to let the broth freeze upright. Once fully frozen, it can be moved anywhere in the freezer without worry of spilling.

And of course, any other means of storage will work too. Just always make sure to leave room for expansion - even in plastic.

Now i want to hear from you!

What’s your favorite way to make broth? Share your broth on Instagram and use the #humbleluxuryinthekitchen or share below.


An Introduction to Humble Luxury in the Kitchen

Photo of my kitchen by Sam Stenson on 120mm film.

Photo of my kitchen by Sam Stenson on 120mm film.

As I return to recipe sharing after a 5 year hiatus, I’m excited to do so through lens of humble luxury.

HUMBLE LUXURY is the idea that luxury, pleasure, and safety aren’t exclusive experiences for those who can buy it. These are feelings that live within us and are available to all of us. No matter your budget, humble luxury in the kitchen is all about finding a way that works for you.

This is a process designed to help you meet your unique diet, budget, needs, and desires based on what you have access to. This post is here to explain what that means and how it relates to the food on my blog.

Recipe Categories:

You’ll see me mark each humble luxury recipe with categories that note when it’s good to eat this meal. This is a way to both share resources to help you support your body & family with greater ease, and have a quick guide when exploring the recipes on my site.

When recipes are tagged with the following categories, they may check the box for one or all reasons listed below.

  • Hidden Healthies | exactly as it sounds! nutrient dense nourishment hidden inside something like a pancake or cookie

  • Pregnancy | deeply nourishing, hidden healthies to curb cravings, iron rich, protein rich, fat rich

  • Postpartum  | warming, easy to digest, fat rich, protein rich, iron rich

  • Menstruation  | iron rich, easy to digest, deeply nourishing

  • Immune Boosting | easy to digest, immune supporting herbs & foods

  • Sleep Deprivation | easy to digest, deeply nourishing, easy to make, stores well, freezes, tastes good when cold from fridge

  • Toddlerhood | hidden healthies, easy to pack & travel with, easy to hold, fun to include little hands in the cooking process, make ahead & save

Ratios vs. recipes:

Rather than using the common style of recipe sharing, I much prefer to use ratios. To me, this feels more traditional - like something our grandmothers did. They used about this much of one thing and about that much of another. They cooked with their senses. They smelled, tasted, measured in their palms, picked things up to feel weight, and listened to the songs of their ingredients.

This is how I like to cook and my ratio based recipes are intended to be the foundation that allows you to do the same. This will give you more freedom to explore what you have on hand in your kitchen so you can use what you’ve got, instead of buying new ingredients.

What this looks like:

Rather than saying you need 4lbs of bones and 6 quarts of water for bone broth, I share my ratio of bone broth which is roughly 1 : 1.5 (read as ‘1 to 1.5’). That means for every 1 lb of bones used, you’ll need about 1.5 quarts of water. So if you have 3 lbs of bones, you’ll need 4.5 quarts of water. I say roughly because with bone broth, it really is flexible. If you only have 1 lb of bones on hand but you need more than 1.5 qts of bone broth (and if you’re using a stovetop or crock pot method, note some of that water will cook off) then add more! You can always add more flavor with onions, garlic, and other veggies. It’s a guideline.

When I don’t use ratios:

If a recipe calls for an exact amount of something (often in baked goods with leavening ingredients like baking soda) I’ll note it specifically. If something can be loose, I’ll let you know. If it needs to be exact, I’ll let you know that too.

The essentials and then some:

You’ll also notice the ingredients lists for my recipes & ratios are different than most. I’ll always bold the absolute essential ingredients for a recipe and have additional add ins listed as optional.

I do this so that the recipe are accessible financially to many different households. You can scale the recipes I share up and down based on your budget and family size.


Continuing with the bone broth ratio, you’ll see the recipe listed like this:

The Essentials:

  • 1 lb chicken bones

  • 1.5 quarts water

Optional Add Ins:

  • 1/2 TBSP apple cider vinegar

  • 1/2 white or yellow onion

  • 1/4 cup dried or fresh nettle leaf

  • etc.

See the full recipe for Humble Luxury Bone Broth here.If anything needs to adjust in the basic ratio based on the add ins, that’ll be noted. For example, in the bone broth, if adding an onion & herbs I would also add 1/2 quart more water.

I’m excited to share this new perspective in the kitchen with you!

Now I’d love to hear from you! What do you think about humble luxury in the kitchen?

8 Blockages That Keep You From Reading + Advice to Break the Barrier


People often ask me where I get my inspiration from and how I stay inspired when I’m feeling so exhausted. The best answer I can find these days is reading.

As I prepare to launch the first month of the VNM Virtual Book Club, I took a moment to check in with the community to see what blocks are holding you all back from picking up a book.

Here’s what you had to say with some advice to break through the blockages.

1.“My phone distracts me.”

Try This: Leave your book in the bathroom and don’t bring your phone with you when you go to the bathroom. Read while you’re on the toilet, while you’re brushing your teeth, or if you manage the space - while you’re in the tub.

or Try This:
Think of this as an opportunity to practice boundary setting with yourself. The more fluent & efficient you become with setting boundaries with yourself, the easier it become to set boundaries with others. So, if setting boundaries feels important and valuable to you, this is where you can start. Try 5 minutes of reading without looking at your phone, then increase after a few days. Set a timer if you feel uneasy & distracted.

2.“I never know what to read.”

Try This: Join the book club! I’ll pick the books for you so you don’t have to worry about that. If a particular topic doesn’t interest you, you can choose from the ‘additional books’ list at the bottom of the 2019 tentative reading list outline.

3.“I don’t have the time.”

Try This: As a new parent, I feeeelll you! Try setting a daily page goal for yourself and set it low - even 1 page! Then leave your book in the bathroom and read while you’re in there.
I set my daily reading goal at 2 pages so I feel I can actually accomplish it. This simple goal helps me get the book in my hand. Some days those 2 pages are a struggle, but other days I cruise through a whole chapter. For me, it all tends to even out to about 1 book per month. And in the book club, I’ve even mapped out some daily page goals to help you finish!

4.“I can’t get time away from my kids.”

Try This: Include your kids! Depending on their age, you can make reading time either quiet solo play time (if they’re not reading on their own yet) or family reading time. Set an appropriate time for reading/solo play based on your child’s age. And to help the kids feel empowered in understanding the boundary, use a kitchen time to let them see and hear how long reading time lasts. Pair this with a low daily page goal and I think you might surprise yourself! With my babe, who is still too young for independent reading and would be immediately interested in chewing on my book, I typically read while they nap.

(If you’re thinking, “no way, not my kids. my kids are maniacs and never stop moving.” consider just giving it a shot for 10 minutes a day for one month. Kids may not take to a new habit after 1 day or even 1 week, but after a month they’ll likely settle in. If not, it may be worth considering asking a professional in your area for some boundary setting tips or heading to an early literature story circle at your local library.)

5.“I feel like there’s something more valuable/productive for me to be doing and/or feel guilty not working or doing housework.”

Try This: Try reframing the dialogue. What do you receive from reading? Inspiration? Creative energy? A relaxing moment away from the stress of the day? And what does that give to you? Does it help you become more present? Does it make you a more focused parent? Does it help you create greater impact in your life?

If you bring your focus to what you’re receiving from reading, prioritizing it will be easy if that thing is important to you.

I personally also prefer to read books that offer tangible skills that I can implement immediately in my life. That helps me stay focused because I know 5 minutes spent reading is an investment in myself, my home, my family, and my business.

6.“I have trouble staying focused/I think too much while I read.”

Try This: Find a better book. If you constantly find yourself drifting away from the page, put that book down and find one that captivates you. Once you have a book that really pulls you in, if you find yourself occasionally drifting, that’s likely a sign that what you’ve read feels important to you. Take a minute to close the book and let yourself think about what was introduced. Explore how it relates to your life and how you could use the words to create impact. Then dive on back into the pages.

(A little example of this: I started and stopped 5 books last year because they just weren’t the right books for me to read at that particular moment time. The books were good, interesting, well written, well researched, and still I struggled to get through a page. That was a sign that the book just wasn’t the right fit for my current situation. Once I found a good fit, I easily read my page goal each day and even surpassed it most of the time.)

7.“I’m tapped out from mental and emotional output and can’t seem to absorb/focus on a book.”

Try This: Prioritize rest and then find a different book.
Regarding rest: hey, I’ve got you covered here! I’ve created a free 5 day rest reclamation workshop that takes only 10 minutes per day - and it’s emailed right to you!
Now, if a book is draining you mentally and emotionally, it’s not the best book to be reading right now. When you find the book that’s right for you right now, it’ll energize you, excite you, fill you up. And on days when you’re feeling scraped out, that book can be just the battery charge you need to get through the day. (And of course, somedays, nothing beats a nap.)

8.“I have Depression/anxiety/PTSD”

Try This: I understand this one well. My best offering here is to focus on reading books that inspire you and spark joy. Avoid books that are triggering or talk about topics that are deeply charged without offering solutions. Once you’re feeling more centered, you could always circle around to a more challenging topic. But honestly, I say, focus on your joy while reading and you may find a new tool to help you navigate this heaviness.

Now I want to hear from you! What blockages do you face when trying to read and how do you navigate them?

VNM Virtual Book Club | January: Community Forum


Welcome to the VNM January Book Club Forum

We’ll use the comments section of this post to share our reflections, thoughts, and stories from reading the month’s book, Essentialism. I’ll be updating this post every Monday with my favorite quotes & thoughts and I’m excited to hear from you!

The January book is my top recommendation when people ask. I read it at least once a year and I am so excited to finally have a group of people to read it with! So, let’s dive in…

Guidelines for sharing:

  • You can share at any time. You don’t need to wait for my updates. The space is open and here at any time of day for you!

  • Keep it clean & kind. Racist, homophobic, xenophobic, transphobic, sexist, etc. comments will not be tolerated in this space.

  • No Unsolictied Advice. If someone is sharing vulnerably about their experience with a book, that is not an invitation for unsolicited advice. If you have something to offer you can ask first, but that ask must be paired with a willingness to receive no as a response.
    Intention is not important here, it’s the impact of what you say that matters.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Week One

Well, I’m sitting here writing this unexpectedly from San Francisco. Daren got a last minute job in New York City, so Daelu and I took off for our first solo adventure. After a long day of travel, we’re here in SF.

Since I’m solo this week, I’m just starting with my favorite quotes from week 1. I have a lot more to say about why I love these pieces and how they’ve been with me over the years since I first read this book, but for now we’ll start here:

  • “How many times have you resented committing to do something and wondered, ‘Why did I sign up for this?” How often do you say yes simply to please? Or to avoid trouble? Or because “yes” had just become your default response?”

  • “The way of the Essentialist isn’t about setting New Year’s resolutions to say “no” more, or about pruning you in-box, or about mastering some new strategy in time management. It is about pausing constantly to ask, Am I investing in the right activities?”

  • “The word priority came into the English language in the 1400s. It was singular. It meant the very first or prior thing. It stayed singular for the next five hundred years. Only in the 1900s did we pluralize the term and start talking about priorities. Illogically, we reasoned that by changing the word we could bend reality. Somehow we would now be able to have multiple “first” things.”

  • “…sunk-cost bias: studied have found that we tend to value things we already own more highly than they are worth and thus that we find them more difficult to get rid of. If you’re not quite there, ask the killer question: “If I didn’t already own this, how much would I spend to buy it?” This usually does the trick.

  • “Essentialism is about creating a system for handling the close of our lives. This is not a process you undertake once a year, once a month, or even once a week, like organizing your closet. It is a discipline you apply to each and every time you are faced with a decision about whether to say yes or whether to politely decline. it’s a method for making the tough trade-off between lots of good things and a few really great things. It’s about learning how to do less but better so you can achieve the highest possible return on every precious moment of your life.”

  • “What do I feel inspired by? and What am I particularly talented at? and What meets a significant need in the world?”

  • “As Peter Drucker said, “People are effective because they say ‘no,’ because they say, ‘this isn’t for me.’”

  • What is schools eliminated busywork and replace it with important projects that made a difference to the whole community? What if all students had time to think about their highest contribution to their future so that when they left high school they were not just starting on the race to nowhere?

  • Mary Oliver “Tell me, what is it you plan to do/with your one wild and precious life?”

  • There are deeply entrenched assumptions we must conquer to live the way of the Essentialist: “I have to,” “It’s all important,” and “I can do both.”

  • To embrace the essence of Essentialism requires we replace these false assumptions with three core truths: “I choose to,” “Only a few things really matter,” and “I can do anything but not everything.”

  • For too long, we have overemphasized the external aspect of choices (our options) and underemphasized our internal ability to choose (our actions). …Think about it this way. Options (things) can be taken away, while our core ability to choose (free will) cannot.

  • When we forget our ability to choose, we learn to be helpless. Drip by drip we allow our power to be taken away until we end up becoming a function of other people’s choices - or even a function of our own past choices. In turn, we surrender our power to choose.

  • What is the most valuable result I could achieve from this job?

  • The overwhelming reality is: we live in a world where almost everything is worthless and a very few things are exceptionally valuable. As John Maxwell has written, “You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything.”

  • A Nonessentialist approaches every trade-off by asking, “How can I do both?” Essentialists ask the tougher but ultimately more liberating question, “ Which problem do I want to solve?” An Essentialists makes trade-offs deliberatel. …As Economist Thomas Sowell wrote: “There are no solutions. There are only trade-offs.”

week two

  • I used the 90% rule Greg McKeown talks about in this week’s reading and realized that this book club needs an adjustment. I’m switching things up here to be a book encouragement club focused more on supporting our reading journey rather than holding space for a dialogue. The goal is really about the act of reading and using the books as inspiration. Feeling really grateful for this book and all the many ways it helps me focus my actions to create the most sustainable impact.

VNM Book Encouragement Club | January Book Introduction


I am so excited for this first month of the book club! We’re kicking things off with my #1 book recommendation: Essentialism. Below you’ll find details about the book, daily page goals, plus goal trackers.

Before we dive in, I want to say this:

Don’t let your goal slow your progress.

Sometimes having a specific goal can work against us. If you goal is to read 8 pages a day but you feel exhausted and you don’t even read one, don’t let that keep you from ever picking the book up again. Just reassess & restructure your goal to meet your needs. Maybe you add 1 extra page for the following week, maybe you give yourself an additional day at the end.

Whatever pace you go at, just keep picking up your book.

Need more support with this? Check out these 2 posts:

Why I picked this book:

I’ve read many inspiring and life changing books over the years, but Essentialism has by far been the most impactful. Although it’s written from a business perspective, the content in this book reaches into every corner of life. I’ve found the direct & realistic examples much more impactful that a standard self-help book. This road map to living simply and making your greatest impact is a must read if you feel overwhelmed and underutilized.

About the book (via Amazon):

“Have you ever felt the urge to declutter your work life?
Do you often find yourself stretched too thin?
Do you simultaneously feel overworked and underutilized?
Are you frequently busy but not productive?
Do you feel like your time is constantly being hijacked by other people’s agendas?
If you answered yes to any of these, the way out is the Way of the Essentialist.
The Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about getting only the right things done.  It is not  a time management strategy, or a productivity technique. It is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution towards the things that really matter.  

By forcing us to apply a more selective criteria for what is Essential, the disciplined pursuit of less empowers us to reclaim control of our own choices about where to spend our precious time and energy – instead of giving others the implicit permission to choose for us.

Essentialism is not one more thing – it’s a whole new way of doing everything. A must-read for any leader, manager, or individual who wants to do less, but better, and declutter and organize their own their lives, Essentialism is a movement whose time has come.”

Daily page goals:

Finish in 1 month:

8 page per day, 7 days per week | 56 pages / week
9 pages Monday - Friday, 11 pages Saturday, no reading Sunday | 56 pages /week

Finish in 2 months:

4 pages per day, 7 days per week | 28 pages / week
5 pages M-F, 3 pages Saturday, 0 pages Sunday | 28 pages / week

Goal Tracker

To track your goal, print out the calendar sheet below (click to download). Once printed, fill in your daily page goal in pencil (so you can adjust if need be) and hang it somewhere you’ll regularly see it. I like to use the inside of kitchen cabinets, the refrigerator, or a next to the bathroom sink.

click the image to download

6 Ways to Find Time to Journal


1. Stay Committed not attached to the process.

If you miss a day, you miss a day. Don’t let it slow you down. Your success isn’t in the doing itself but rather in the feelings you’ll get from the time spent reflection.

2. Set accessible goals

Set your goals low so you can actually reach them. Explore what would be a realistic goal for you, and try setting your initial goal a bit lower than that so you can build trust and momentum.

3. Don’t Find Time, Prioritize time

If taking time to reflect is a priority for you, ask yourself daily, “what am I willing to sacrifice to journal today?” This question will help you stay present each day with your needs and capacity. And some days journaling won’t be a priority. On those days, it’ll be easy to step away with this perspective. Rather than becoming a point of shame and failure, this will be a clear reflection that you’re taking care of yourself and prioritizing your needs appropriately.

4. Write in the In Between Moments

If you find it difficult to sit down in the midst of parenting, working, creating, processing, healing, etc., try scattering your journal(s) around the house. Engage with them randomly throughout the day in short spurts. Leave one in your living room where you can write a sentence or two at a time. Leave one in your bathroom, one year your bed, one at your desk. Let your journals live in a place where you find yourself making a regular, effortless, and consistent imprint in your life. Then use the whispers of time you may otherwise scroll away to reflect.

5. Get Inspired by your own experience

Go back & read your old writings every now and then when you’re feeling uninspired. This will remind you how powerful it is to capture the fullness of your feelings when you’re feeling them, and can act as a great source of fuel to your process.

6. Use the golden minutes of the day to write

These are the moments before everyone in your home wakes up, and the moments after everyone has gone to bed. Even if it’s just 1 or 2 minutes spent writing before you head off to bed yourself, use that golden silence!

Now it’s your turn! Share how you find time to journal below.

Journals & Planners for a Focused & Creative 2019


These are the journals & planers I’m using to kick start and focus my 2019 goals:


The Passion Planner
I’ve been using this planner for the past 5 years and I absolutely love it! This year I’ve opted for the larger version which lives at my desk for internal business planning.

The Unsolicited Advice Planner by Adam JK
This is a new one I’m working into the rotation. It’s smaller than my passion planner and a bit more casual. I’m keeping this one tucked into my person for personal planning.


The Redefining Success Journal by me!
This is the journal I created after my experience postpartum and it’s a system I genuinely love. The daily prompts help me feel inspired and push me to center my joy, even on tough days.

Today I Affirm by Alexandra Elle
I love everything Alex Elle creates and I’m so excited for the release of this new journal in January. I’ll be weaving it into my rotation once my copy arrives!

These Three Things by Lisa Anderson Shaffer
I love to reflect at the end of the day on what lessons I learned. I think this is a really unique perspective on daily journaling and while some days it’s challenge, I love that it pushes me to really inspect & dissect my daily experiences.


The Kinship Family Journal by Summer Robertson
This is a new journal I’m trying for the first time this year. I received a copy after backing their Kickstarter and I look forward to seeing how this linen hardcover journal captures us as a whole family.

Blank Leather Bound for Daelu
Since I was 36 weeks pregnant (minus 6 weeks postpartum) I’ve been keeping a journal for Daelu. It’s a simple leather bound journal that I try to write in at least once a week.

Monthly Family Journal
Since 2016 Daren and I have been keeping a joint journal. At the start of the year we write our word of the year and pick words to anchor each month. We casually come to the journal whenever we remember to free write and always sit down once a month on the New Moon to reflect on what we’ve accomplished, what our goals are for the next month, what we’re dreaming about, and how our anchor word is/isn’t guiding us. In 2018 we fell off the wagon a bit as we settled into parenthood, but I’m excited to recenter into the practice as we enter 2019. We’re still using the same book we got in 2016 so it feels like a living time capsule.
The journal we’re using is one from Shorthand based in LA.


  • I leave Daelu’s leather journal & These Three Things in the bathroom to write in at the end of the day after I brush my teeth. I keep this reflection to maybe 5 minutes and don’t feel so attached to completing them both everyday.

  • My Passion Planner and The Redefining Success Journal live at my desk for focused business work, creative goal scoping, and to fuel my sense of accomplishment when I sit down to work.

  • The Unsolicited Advice Planner lives in my purse for life planning.

  • The Kinship Family Journal lives on the living room credenza.

  • Our Monthly Family Journal lives in the kitchen.

  • Today I Affirm will go next to my bed to do first thing in the morning once it arrives in January!

Now I’d love to hear from you! What journal/planner are you using this year? How do you come to your practice of reflection?

(Some Of) My Favorite Content Creators


This alphabetical list is a work in progress and still being updated.

Abbey Lossing

Adam JK

Alex Elle

Annie Segarra

Corrine Loperfido

Dallas Goldtooth

Daren Thomas Magee (I mean, obviously my partner makes the list.)

Darnell Moore

Franchesca Ramsey

Graham Keegan

Kenesha Sneed

Laura Berger

Layla Saad

Libby Vanderploeg

Lindsay Amer, Queer Kids Stuff

Lisa Congdon

Marie Forleo

Mari Sierra

Megan Garcia

Melanie Abrantes

Michelle Norris

Rachel Cargle

Rain Dove

Rebecca Artemisa

Rupi Kaur

Seth Godin

Valarie Kaur



Yiyi Mendoza

From the Community: I love to be reminded of...

The ‘From the Community’ series of posts is a compilation of everything you have to say. The first post comes as a poetic reflection of what brings us comfort, joy, and strength.


I asked all of you on Instagram, ‘what do you love to be reminded of?’

Here’s what you said:


How far I’ve come

Drink water

I am enough

There is enough 

The only moment is now 

I am protected

I will always land on my feet

Other people have the same struggles as me 

I’m not broken, I’m simply feeling

The human experiences includes suffering 


I am included 

Slow down 

I am loved

I am a great mother 


I will be ok even when things in my life aren’t ok 

What it feels like to fall in love

How I was when I was a kid

My kindness

My creativity

To breathe

We’re all in this together 

I’m capable

My life is guided

Everything will always be okay

Slow down

I am appreciated

My true self can be shown because it’s always loved

Times of happiness


I am loved

I matter

Magical moments from childhood

Everything is energy and I’m connected to it all

Gratitude for this beautiful life

My childhood 

My grandmother

That caterpillars liquify in their cocoons and then transform from cellular sludge

I am enough

I am worthy

It’s okay to not be okay

The people I care about are proud of me

I can do anything I put my mind to

Happy times with family

Don’t take things so seriously

B r e a t h

Divine love - sometimes hard to see, hard to feel, but always there


Be gentle with myself

I’m not alone 

all human emotions bond us

I bring joy to others


My “big problems” are insignificant to the universe

True joy to come

My strength

I am loved, valued, and respected

To believe in myself 

Thoughts become things

How someone else sees me.

It’s okay to rest.

Vegan Chocolate Ganache

This is a recipe from my 2014 blog archive and it’s one I still absolute adore today! A lot has changed since I originally wrote & photographed this recipe, but it’s still a go-to of mine!


Chocolate ganache is on my list of favorite chocolate treats. Why? Because this stuff is super versatile and it creates a big impact with minimal effort. Pour it on a cake or cookies, whip it for frosting, or roll it for just can't go wrong. And it only takes about 10 minutes to make. It’s kitchen magic.



8 oz dark chocolate or enjoy life chocolate chips
1/2 cup coconut fat*
1/2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
*full fat canned coconut milk stored in the fridge over night, fat skimmed off the top


Measure chocolate chips into a glass bowl and set aside.

In a medium sauce pan bring coconut fat to a boil.

Once boiling, pour over chocolate chips immediately and whisk until completely melted.

Stir in coconut oil until melted.

Add vanilla and salt.


Pour onto cake, tart, cupcakes, pie, ice cream, etc. immediately, or place in the fridge to harden for truffles or frosting.

For truffles, let the ganache firm, then roll into small balls. Once formed, you can top your truffles with anything like chopped nuts, shredded coconut, cacao powder, or matcha.

For frosting, let ganache firm, then beat with an electric mixer to fluff. It will still be a dense frosting, but will be lighter than the truffles once whipped.

Now I want to hear from you!

What are you dreaming of using this chocolate ganache for?

Lavender & Earl Grey Mocktail

This recipe was originally written in September of 2014. I found it in an old blog archive and wanted to share because it’s still a favorite of mine. I’ve been sober for nearly 5 years now and having a nice mocktail at a gathering is a great feeling. Also, this one is super special because it’s one of the drinks we had on offer at our wedding in 2013! Hope you all enjoy it!


Recently I whipped up one of my favorite homemade drinks, lavender + earl grey soda. I don't drink alcohol much but I still enjoy something fun to drink at a gathering and this is my go to. This one is great for hosting parties because one drink can satisfy both your n/a friends and those enjoying alcohol with one simple substitution.


Lavender Simple Syrup

1/4 c organic lavender buds
1/4 c coconut palm sugar
1/4 c water

Heat the water to a boil and combine with sugar. Stir until combined. Let cool and add lavender buds. Allow the lavender to infuse for 48 hours. Strain into a ball jar.

Earl Grey Simple Syrup

1 TBSP earl grey tea
1/4 c coconut palm sugar
1/4 water

Heat the water to a boil and combine with sugar. Stir until combined. To infuse there are 2 options: place the tea into a tea ball and place into hot simple syrup for 4 minutes, or let syrup cool and infuse tea for 48 hours.


Wet the rim of a glass with water & dip into coconut palm sugar. Combine 2 TBSP lavender syrup with 1 TBSP earl grey syrup. Top with soda water or champagne. Garnish with lavender flowers.


Now I want to hear from you!

What’s your favorite non-alcoholic drink to serve to guests? Comment & share it below!

Medicinal Support for Fire Recovery


My husband and I have been evacuated from our home in Ojai, CA since Tuesday 5 December 2017 due to the Thomas Fire. As of writing this on December 13th, the fire is 237,000 acres and is 25% contained. As most of you know, I am nearly 6 months pregnant which has made this time extra tender. 

As we prepare to return home soon (hopefully) we are preparing ourselves to stay well protected from the ash and smoke in our beloved valley. Compiling this list helped me feel a little more calm about our return and clear on how we can keep our systems supported.

This list is a mixture of recommendations from various sources including Drs. (via posts in Thomas Fire community FB groups), 9/11 survivors who dealt with smoke for weeks, herbalists, and general wellness practices I use.

I wanted to compile this list to make shopping easier for all of us and as a means for easily referencing daily practices to help our systems.

This is a general list from many sources. This is not a comprehensive list and should be filtered through your own physicals needs.

There is a PDF of the list available for download at the bottom of this post if you would like to print and/or save this information.

General Supplements:

  • Vitamin C 1-3000 mgs per day in divided doses

  • Vitamin E at least 200 IUs

  • Alfa Lipoic Acid 2-600 mgs

  • N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) 4-600 mgs twice per day

  • Vitamin A 10,000 units

  • Vitamin D

  • Antioxidants in any form (greens, green powders, berry powders, green tea, etc.)

  • Any lung expectorant tonics/herb formulas you can fin

Herbal Lung Support:

  • Mullein

  • Osha

  • Eucalyptus

  • Lungwort

  • Oregano

  • Licorice Root

  • Hyssop

  • Red Clover

  • Nettle

Mushrooms for Lung Support:

  • Reishi

  • Cordyceps

Eye Support:

  • Pleo Muc homeopathic eye drops from Germany (available on Amazon)

  • Similasan eye drops

  • Very diluted Organic Apple Cider Vinegar in Filtered Water dropped into the eyes

  • General OTC drops like Visine can also help with inflammation and lubrication

Adrenal Support:

  • Trace Mineral Supplement (usually available as drops that can be added to water)

  • Magnesium

  • Herbs/Oil: Lemonbalm, Valerian, Passionflower, Lavender

  • Any herbs/tonics/herbs for anxiety and/or adrenal support

Serotonin Support:

  • 5-HTP 50-100mgs taken in the evening

  • L-Tryptophane 500mgs taken in the evening

  • L-Tyrosine 500-1000mgs taken in the morning

Daily Practices:

  • Wear N95 Mask & Goggles outside

  • Beeswax Salve at bottom of nostrils (under N95 mask)

  • Coconut Oil Pulling

  • Salt Water Gargle before eating/drinking (or at least 2X per day)

  • Neti Pot Sinus Rinse

  • Stay well hydrated - more than usual

  • Nightly shower to rinse ash/smoke from hair

  • Shoes off before entering your living space

  • Wash clothing regularly

  • Vacuum living space regularly - preferably with a HEPA filter (dusting is not enough)

  • HEPA filter air purifier

  • Wash all food that has been on counter and/or outside thoroughly

Pregnancy/Breastfeeding Safe:

  • Wish Garden makes nice pregnancy safe herbal formulas including Cold Season (good for respiratory health), Immune Boost, and Stress Relief (available on Amazon and *potentially* at Rainbow Bridge)

  • Mushrooms: Reishi

  • Herbs: Nettle Leaf, Wild Cherry Bark, Elderflower, Milky Oat Tops, Oatstraw

  • Immune Boost: Elderberry Syrup, Bone Broth, Probiotics, Apple Cider Vinegar shot with Garlic, Lemon, Onion

  • Vitamins & Supplements: Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC), Antioxidants (greens, green powders, berry powders, etc.)

  • Adrenal Support: Trace Mineral Supplement, Magnesium, Lemonbalm, Lavender, Chamomile, Plus the tools listed below

  • Eyes: *Very* diluted Apple Cider Vinegar in Filter Water as eye drops, I am not clear on the other eye drops listed above

  • All Daily Practices listed above are safe

Baby & Kid Safe:

  • If Breastfeeding: Breastfeed often - baby will get all good stuff through your milk.

  • If Bottle/Food Feeding: Keep liquids up

  • Diffuse: lemon, eucalyptus

  • Run Air Purifiers & Humidifier

  • Wish Garden: Kids herbal formulas

  • Infant Saline Drops & the Nose Frida

  • Since we have to stay indoors, it’s a good time to get creative with activities. Fort building, food art (potato stamps, macaroni art, yogurt finger painting for babies, etc.) scavenger/treasure hunts, cardio workouts to burn energy like jumping jack competitions.

Easy & Free Tools for Activating the Parasympathetic Nervous System:

  • Speak Slowly

  • Move Slowly

  • Speak in a deeper tone of voice

  • Breathe deep and slowly if the air allows

  • Give a gentle shake/rock to your body (think of a baby being rocked to sleep)

VNM Book Club | 2018 Reading List


Well, 2018 is coming to a close and I love taking time to recap on all I’ve learned, made, integrated, and accomplished. One of my favorite ways to recap a year is to look over everything I read. So here are my 2018 books and what I loved about each!

  1. Essentialism by Greg McKeown: When people ask for my #1 book recommendation, it’s always this book! Although it’s written from a business perspective, I find the concepts outlined to be foundational in all corners of life. I read this book at least once each year and integrate new pieces of knowledge each time.

    I would consider this an essential read for anyone who is feeling overwhelmed, stretched thin, confused, and exhausted.

  2. How to Raise an Emotionally Intelligent Child by John Gottman: This book, backed by decades of research, has helped to give language to practices I knew I wanted to create but didn’t know how to name. It’s help me focus my actions and release the shame that often comes from making the ‘wrong’ decision as a parent. Also, it’s been a great resource to get the whole family on the same page. I plan on adding this book to my annual reading rotation too because it has bits of wisdom for many different ages.

    This is a fantastic book for parents, but also for any adults who feel ready to understand how their early childhood may have emotionally impacted them.

  3. Worth It by Amanda Steinberg: Hands down the most impactful read of the year! After reading this book, I used Amanda’s systems to build spreadsheets and daily money habits that have radically shifted the financial foundation of our household.

    For anyone overwhelmed & feeling shame surrounding their finances, read this now.

  4. This Is Marketing by Seth Godin: Seth Godin has been a huge inspiration for me as I reshape and refocus my business. His newest book (out of the 18! bestsellers he’s written) has helped me focus on how I can invest into the amazing community around me in a way that is generous and supportive to my family & time. I don’t understand how this perspective isn’t the norm in the business world.

    If you’re an entrepreneur, or an aspiring one, this is a must read! And bonus, the chapters are spliced up into tiny chunks. Parents with little time: you can actually read & digest the information with ease!

  5. The Fourth Trimester by Kimberly Ann Johnson: I loved this book during postpartum for the spaciousness it provided and the affirmation that I wasn’t alone in such an intense experience. It also helped give me language to discuss things with my partner (like returning to sex post baby).

    I highly recommend this for new parents and people who’ve recently given birth.

  6. The First Forty Days by Heng Ou: Although this one is technically a cookbook, it is full of information. I read this before I gave birth in the first quarter of 2018 and it helped me plan for postpartum. Personally I preferred the written content over the recipes, but that’s because I really never cook with recipes.

    This is a great book for expecting parents (really the whole family!) that needs to prepare for postpartum. If you need help setting postpartum boundaries too - this is a great source for that!

  7. The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman: Daren and I started reading this book together about halfway through the year. We didn’t finish it yet though because we got busy putting things into practice and then - you know, early parenthood and all. It’s on deck in 2019 to be completed and integrated more fully. And even just getting halfway through was massively impactful!

    I highly recommend this one for married couples and those in long term committed relationships.

  8. Good to Great by James Collins: This is a book I also started and decided to set down before finishing. I got about 3/4 of the way through and then jumped to a new book. Typically I do that if, as I get into the book, I realize there’s nothing I can immediately apply to my life. But, I did take away some great tips in the first half and as I get back to work in 2019, I plan to finish reading it.

    I recommend this book for business owners looking for perspective and actionable ways to refine & improve the culture of their organization.

  9. The Self Driven Child by Ned Johnson & William Stixrud, PhD: This book also falls into the same category as Good to Great and The Seven Principles. I started it, really loved it, didn’t finish it. I love this book because it’s backed by decades of research and work (a major filter for me when looking for parenting books), and it fundamentally focuses on how we can parent in a way that builds self directed motivation in our children. Fantastic! The only reason I put it down is because I think it’ll be more applicable in a few years as Daelu grows older.

    I highly recommend this book for parents with school age children.

Alright folks, there’s the list of books I read in 2018. I hope it inspires you to pick one up. If you get more inspired to read a book with a group of people, join me in 2019 for the monthly virtual VNM Book Club. We’re kicking off the year with Essentialism by Greg McKeown. (I wasn’t kidding when I said I read it at least once a year!)

Now, I’d love to hear from you! What was your favorite read of 2018 and why? Share it below!