Welcome to 2016!  I hope that you all enjoyed plenty of time soaking up good food, family and downtime over the holiday season.

I’m not sure if it’s the let down of the holidays, winter, or the start of a fresh year, but January usually leaves me with the urge to hibernate and be introspective.  This year has proven to be no different.  While I’m not much on resolutions, I do believe in taking inventory of the past year.

What did I learn?

How did I challenge myself?

What can I do better?

What do I need to let go?

What brought me joy or sadness?

2016_1

In the calamity of my household, it’s often hard to sit and process these types of questions.  Three boys are a glorious cyclone of conversation and energy, but they leave you little time to mull over such introspective thoughts.

2016_2

So, as always, I saved them for a run.  I’m not sure if it’s the endorphins, or whatever kind of auto-pilot that takes over, but I can almost always count on clarity to show up.

It was during a run on a particularly cold,  gray afternoon.  A few miles in, it began to snow.  The type of snow that falls once, maybe twice a season.  Big, fluffy flakes peacefully descending from a white sky, no wind.  Quiet.  As I ran past a row of evergreens, I paused to watch.  The beautiful silence, was palpable.  Snow appeared to be falling in slow motion.  In turn, everything around me felt that way too.  Soaking this in, after miles of tossing and turning the above questions in my mind, it was suddenly clear.

2016_3

I want more of this.

More slow motion, more beauty, more moments of quiet, more joy.

2016_4

Of course you might be thinking, ‘don’t we all want more slowness, quiet and joy.’  I’m not naïve enough to believe  this is what my life will be everyday, but that’s not the point.  The point is taking the time to make it happen, to notice the moments where opportunity for this fulfillment lies, and step into them.  If we make this a practice, watching for these chances, challenging ourselves to create them, won’t we become better at noticing them?

I hope so.

 

“She did not need much, wanted very little. A kind word, sincerity, fresh air, clean water, a garden, kisses, books to read, sheltering arms, a cozy bed, and to love and be loved in return.’

-Starra Neely Blade

Chai_Spiced_Hot_Cocoa

I came across this quote in one of my favorite Instagram feeds last week. A sigh left my body and mind, with only the word, ‘yes’ coming to mind. Simplicity. Basic needs met with love and peace. Fresh air, a garden and books. It’s all there in those brilliant words.

Somewhere, within the realm of those basic needs, also falls my morning routine. My alarm chimes at the slightly crazed time of 4:50am, to run, to move, to break a sweat.  The ensuing exchange begins in my head, as it does every morning.

“You can do this. The first five minutes are the worst. Get up.”
“This bed is so warm.”
“Every morning you feel this way. After five minutes you’ll be fine. GET UP!”

Chai_Spiced_Hot_Cocoa

The drill sergeant in my head wins. It’s always better after the first five minutes, this I’ve come to know. Giving in to the warm covers, rarely means rest. The morning just doesn’t seem to go as smoothly, my mind missing that hour of peace and endorphins before the sprint of wrangling three boys and the day.

Post workout means a cup of hot chai tea and a couple slices of my favorite blender bread with a generous smear of maple almond butter. I catch up on the visual feast of my Instagram feed while the stirring of my sleepy faced children fills the previously quiet kitchen.

I savor the last sip of spicy, warm tea, a bite of toast, and begin to engage the day.

Chai_Spiced_Hot_Cocoa

At the first sign of leaves changing, my youngest son breaks out the hot cocoa recipe. For this recipe, I combined our two loves; my chai tea, and his beloved hot cocoa.  The result is a mug of gently spicy cocoa, sure to warm you on the coolest of fall days.

Chai Spiced Hot Cocoa

Ingredients

  • 3 tea bags Vanilla Rooibos Chai Tea, or favorite chai tea
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 cups whole milk or half & half
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Boil 1 cup of water.
  2. Steep tea bags in hot water for 5-10 minutes, to create concentrate.
  3. In a large pot, pour tea concentrate, cocoa powder and sugar.
  4. Stirring gently, over medium high heat, bring tea/cocoa combination to a boil until sugar is dissolved.
  5. Add vanilla extract and milk.
  6. Warm cocoa through to preferred temperature, stirring occasionally.
  7. Serve hot.
  8. Any remaining servings store in an air tight container, in the refrigerator.
http://thishomemadelife.com/chai-spiced-hot-cocoa

This post was sponsored by Equal Exchange.  While they provided the product for this recipe, my words, opinions, love a good chai and morning routine are my own. Enjoy!

In my life before children, I was a voracious reader.  Books would be stacked on my nightstand, waiting to be devoured. My library card was nicely worn and a trip to the bookstore was soul filling treat.

In my first pregnancy, when I couldn’t sleep, I’d go through a book every couple of days.  It was almost as if there was a premonition to get in as much as possible.  The years following the birth of my children, held books about trucks, animals and trains than subjects of my own choosing.

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If you’ve followed along here for awhile, you know that running is a pretty central part of my life (you can read about that here).  It began as a way to be active in high school, and in college morphed into the ultimate way to shed stress from nursing school, and clear my head.

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For most of the years I’ve run, the miles have been solo.  As a mother with young children, I wanted my miles to be quiet. I wanted to revel in the bliss of a runner’s high. Talking and running felt like a chore, and I had plenty of those awaiting me at home. Read More

Hello!

If you’re still here, thank you for hanging in with me during my summer hiatus.  Life has been full and adventurous over the last few months.  Vacations, trail races, photographing for a cookbook and magazines, along with the everyday hustle of our three boy household meant prioritizing any extra time.  The view away from my laptop became so appealing, that I decided to take a break.  My creative juices were tapped and time away seemed just the way to replenish them and find my direction.

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