The Organized Closet: 5 Steps 👗

The state of your home does have an impact on your outlook, thoughts and feelings. Clutter and chaos often cause sense of overwhelm, oppression, and a lack of control. These feelings can spill over from our homes into our careers and lives.

Unlike a colossally stressful goal of “clean the house this year”, let’s get a specific result that might just fuel you on the rest of your quest. The goal is not to do everything at once – luckily, closet organization can be completed in just a couple hours. Here’s how:

1. Assess the situation. We’ve had tiny closets, long ones, and walk-ins. Your space can help dictate the amount of clothes that can comfortably fit. It might also inform you of the need for a dresser or to store out-of-season clothing elsewhere. Also, evaluate the amount of clothing and shoes you have. Do you need your formal business attire if your working-from-home situation allows for business casual? Is having 40 t-shirts from every club or run you participated in during your college years necessary or might 20 shirts be enough? Do you live in the same clothes week-by-week and ignore all the stuff in your closet because it doesn’t fit or otherwise makes you feel depressed or guilty? Conversely, do you see some of your favorite items – those that always make you feel sophisticated and composed – hidden among the “great deals” that weren’t or clothing with tags still on them? Release your self-judgement for a minute. We’re not going to focus on our sartorial mistakes or weight gain; we’re focusing on the future.

2. Envision who you’d like to be and how your space might be more welcoming to you. If you take a moment and close your eyes, try to conjure an image of yourself a year from now. What activities are you engaged in? What new, healthy behaviors and thoughts do you have? Then do the same for your closet. You’ve assessed the space and the wardrobe you have at-a-glance. Can you imagine how you’d feel walking into a cleared-out, organized, and colorful closet everyday? How might that influence the start of your day and how you show up at work and in life?

3. Declutter and edit. If you’ve seen our other closet organization articles, you’ll see that we agree with Marie Kondo’s method of pulling *everything* out of your wardrobe. Yes, part of it is the shock and perhaps horror involved as we realize the true need for editing down. The other part is that you can see all of your coats, pants, socks, dresses in one place; this makes it easier to decided how many sweaters are truly needed…or to see that dress we’ve always not liked for some reason *still* hanging out in the closet. It’s time to go!

Use your rational mind and your intuition as you comb through the mountain of clothes. Create three piles: yes, no, and maybe. Pull your most obvious favorites and put them into your “yes” or keep section. The clothing that annoys you, doesn’t fit, or has holes you know you won’t fix goes into the “no” pile. Thank it for its service Konmari-style if you want. The tricky part is that the “maybe” pile might get rather large. Rather than allow ourselves to be confused and indecisive for a majority of our clothing, we limit this pile to 10 pieces. Once the 11th item is thrown in there, we have to move another piece to the “yes” or “no” pile. Give it a try. Depending on how many clothes you are dealing with, this process can take 45 minutes or 2 hours.

4. Organize. As you place items back in your closet, organize by type of clothing (e.g. pants, dresses, shirts), length (shorter dresses to longer ones), and color. This will help you find what you are looking for faster and create a beautiful composition of your clothing. Having the same hangers throughout the closet also help. Or you can do what we did and have separate hanger colors for you and your partner’s sections.

5. Think of this as a continuous process of refinement. As you rotate through the outfits in your closet, you might find that you don’t actually like the way the green sweater looks on your anymore. You notice how you’re tired of fighting the pilling of fabric. Whatever the case may be, you don’t have to wait until the next closet clean-out to make a change. Keep a box in your garage for donations and every time you encounter a pair of shoes that gives you blisters or pants that don’t look or feel right, release it immediately. Use your hangers to keep you accountable in your shopping. If you don’t have more than 2 free hangers, don’t buy 6 items. Or release another 4 things to accommodate your new and improved clothing purchases. This will prevent your closet from accumulating too much clutter like before.

Want to see our before and after videos? Use it for inspiration to see how you can create a functional, welcoming wardrobe for yourself!

Recipe: DIY Divine Vanilla Sugar ❄️

Maybe you know the kind of Italian nonna whose recipe doesn’t include the secret ingredient that takes the dish from “bravo” to “bellisimo!” Though we could keep this up our sleeves as well, we wouldn’t do that to you. This DIY vanilla sugar recipe is divine; it ‘blesses’ pretty much any baked good with a delicate, fruit-floral aroma and taste. Beyond making your taste buds sing, some properties of vanilla can help calm and protect your nervous system – which make it perfect for hectic holidays! Just like the DIY 2-ingredient Vanilla Extract recipe, this one is supremely simple. We recommend doing both at once since you’ll get the most out of the vanilla beans.

We might sprinkle this highly-valuable vanilla sugar into our gluten-free cinnamon bun recipe, Banana Nut Bread, or on top of the Anytime Warm Apple Crisp. Use it as a substitute for regular white sugar and your coffee, tea, cookies, brownies, and other holiday baked goods will have everyone asking for your secret ingredient. It’s up to you whether you tell them 😉

Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links or discount codes, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may make a commission.

Prep: 5 minutes

Yields: 6 cups

Ingredients

6 vanilla bean pods

6 cups organic granulated sugar

Instructions

Using a knife, carefully slice a vanilla bean pod length-wise. Scrape the inside seeds of the bean into a small glass container. Remember, you can reuse the beans to make vanilla extract so put them aside to save them if that’s your plan. Put the granulated sugar into the blender/food processor/coffee grinder to blend the vanilla bean with it. When the seeds have broken down and dispersed in the mixture, your job is basically done! You can enjoy the sugar immediately or reap the reward of getting the best flavor by waiting for a few weeks.

You can store the sugar in any container you’d like. We use hinged, glass Mason jars to store the sugar, making sure it’s tightly sealed to keep it fresh. These containers also make it easy to gift some divine vanilla sugar to anyone who likes to bake or add sweetness to their coffee or tea.

💍 My Precious: Pomegranate

If you are a Lord of the Rings fan, you probably got the movie reference from the title and ring emoji alone. Gollum, a rather unfortunate-looking character, is so completely obsessed with the Ring that he calls it “my precious”.

Unlike Gollum, we are less passionate about rings than we are about the ruby-red pomegranate seeds that become available this time of year. The fruit is supremely scrumptious and it offers a whole host of benefits to your body. Let’s explore:

When are Pomegranates available?

The pomegranates in the United States tend to come from the warmer parts, such as California. The fruits need the hot, hot heat (not the band) in order to grow well. The delectable fruit becomes available to us starting in late September and extends through November. Fortunately, because pomegranates do well in storage, you should still seem them available in December and possibly into early January. In summary, it’s available now so run and get yourself some!

Nutritional aspects of Pomegranates

These juicy fruits pack a flavor and nutritional punch! They are a great source of fiber, which can help with constipation, weight loss, and balancing blood sugar.

Pomegranates have vitamins and minerals, including: calcium, phosphorus, folate, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin C. This fruit also has antioxidant, anti-microbial, and anti-inflammatory properties which can help the brain and urinary tract, boost physical performance, benefit the cardiovascular and digestive systems, and assist in disease prevention.

What ice cream can’t do, pomegranates can!

How to use and eat Pomegranate

You could eat the seeds themselves as a meal or a snack. We like to have it as a breakfast on its own, with nondairy yogurt, or with the Amaranth for Breakfast recipe (subbing the fruit in for the strawberries).

Pomegranate pancakes are also really good and they have a bit more crunch than blueberry pancakes.

For lunch or dinner, some like pomegranate in their salads or in a rice pilaf.

For dessert, we’ve even put pomegranate seeds on vegan cheesecake and made a syrup out of it.

You are only limited by your imagination.

Let us know – after having fresh pomegranate seeds are you too calling them “my precious”? How do you like to eat yours?

4 Beverages for Cozy Weather

The weather here in the Midwest likes to engage in a bit of trickery. Last week, it was sunny and in the 70s and this week, well, it feels like winter. It’s time to pull out the hats and coats as well as the ingredients for making some warming, cozy beverages. Here are some recipes to fit the season:

  • Our Dairy-free Hot Chocolate was a staple recipe nearly every evening last winter. Whether we were reading a favorite book or magazine or watching holiday movies and the Great British Baking Show, hot chocolate was by our side.
  • For those who don’t want to have to choose between hot chocolate and coffee, we have a most excellent collaboration between the two: 5-spice Hot Choffee (choffee being a portmanteau of hot chocolate and coffee)
  • Celebrate with some Peppermint Eggnog! The egg-less, vegan version is included too.
  • Make yourself the Perfect Cup of Tea and head over to cuddle up on the couch. Increase your knowledge of teas and check in with yourself about which one you need.
  • Whichever beverage you choose to warm yourself up or celebrate with, enjoy!

    In the Client Spotlight with Teresa Curtiss! 🎉

    How did this program change things for you?

    This program was a game changer for me. I knew I had food sensitivities and thought I had cut all of them out of my diet, but yet I was still sick. I learned that I had a reaction to some of the healthy things I was eating daily [emphasis added]. I finally have a list of foods to stay away from, no more guessing at what might be the issue. I stay clear of these, plus some additional food intolerances, and I feel great. 

    What surprises and new strengths have you gotten from this experience?

    I have my health back. I’m starting to enjoy food again instead of dreading eating and getting sick. I was just sticking with the same items that I thought were safe, not wanting to try new recipes.

    My diet has opened up to more options now that I know what to avoid. I’m surprised at how much more variety of foods I can eat now. Even though there are quite a few foods I need to steer clear of (for now), I still have more options than I did before. I’ve just recently gone back to recipes in my cookbooks that I loved in the past, but thought they were making me sick. I can eat them again with no issues.

    What is the thing you benefited from and/or enjoyed the most so far?

    Getting my health back!

    I had hoped to find out all the foods I had a food sensitivity to and to relieve my symptoms. I didn’t know I could feel this good again! It’s wonderful to be able to consistently feel good and not have to worry about my symptoms interfering with my day and holding me back from the things I want to accomplish.

    I really appreciate our time together and definitely hope to stay in touch (I just referred someone to you last week).

    Thanks,

    Teresa Curtiss


    Imagine something ‘healthy’ you eat almost everyday – like a banana or maybe some kale – and it actually being the culprit behind your symptoms! This is one of the reasons why it’s important to assess for food sensitivities and intolerances – a problem food could be flying beneath the radar because it’s a ‘health food’. Luckily, Teresa has figured out some of the major ones and her symptoms have improved! Could identifying potential food sensitivities do the same for you? Find out here and schedule a complimentary, 20-minute Discovery Call to get started!

    Vitamin L for your Heart ❤️

    There are all sorts of nutrients that your heart needs in order to be healthy, including: magnesium, polyphenols, omega-3s, fiber and folate. However nutritious your food choices, there is a nutrient of supreme importance – vitamin L.

    How is this vitamin different from the A, B, C, D versions you’ve heard about? One, it’s not a physical nutrient. Two, it is among one of the most powerful forces in the universe. Three, when you have it, and share it, your heart beats with pure joy. Vitamin L is vitamin Love. Unlike a pill, you can’t just ‘take’ love. In fact, you have to give in order to receive it.

    Could you use a little, or a lot more, of Vitamin L in your life? Let’s start with perhaps the hardest one.

    Love for self. Does this surprise you? Most people get a bit flustered or even breakdown crying when asked if they love themselves. It’s such a simple question, but even we were perplexed the first time a holistic doctor asked the same question. Do you love yourself? How do you know if you do? Scrape off the first few layers of how you dress, the car you drive, what you buy for yourself, or the spa treatments you might get – do you truly and completely love and accept yourself? Don’t feel bad if the answer is “I don’t know” or even “no”. You’re certainly not alone. Many of our clients have hidden behind a form of ‘over-performing’ and strict eating and living principles. But really this wasn’t self-love or appreciation, it was a form of self-flagellation. It was shame or guilt that motivated their ‘healthy’ actions. Religious upbringing can play a part in this, but that’s a story for another time.

    Imagine if we nourished ourselves with love, appreciation, and joyful experiences. It’s something a green smoothie can’t even touch, in terms of deeper nourishment. So then the question clients want to know the answer to is “how Do I love myself more?” As you might expect, it needs to be personalized, like knowing your own love language.

    It might be helpful to image yourself as a separate human being. Would you tell this person, immediately upon seeing them, “boy you look horrible today, and damn girl, look at those thighs”? Probably not. Then why do you say that to yourself in the mornings, upon gazing into the mirror? Being kind to ourselves, in thought and in words, is a form of self- love. Take that vitamin daily. Maybe even double the dose.

    Again, imagining yourself as a loved one, would you say “oh, you’re tired? Well, you can go to bed after you clean and organize the whole kitchen, eat the bag of chips and watch another episode, or finish your taxes” or would you say to her “you seem tired and you’ve accomplished a lot today; get some sleep and you’ll feel refreshed and ready to start again tomorrow”?

    It’s possible that so many of us were given messages that our worth was in being “good” – as in pleasing others, never asking for what we needed, hiding unpleasant emotions from the public (and ourselves), warning against vanity (through Greek mythology and Narcissus, a man of unparalleled beauty, who fell in love with his own reflection and caused his own demise) and therefore never saying nice things to the person in our mirrors. These factors, and more, can play into how we speak, feel, and act towards ourselves.

    Love for others and greater humanity. Aim for positive interaction which each member of your family, with your spouse or partner, your children and your friends. No one is perfect but we can extend kindness nonetheless and give a benefit of a doubt. The best part is that, if you’ve incorporated more vitamin Love for youself in your life, it will spill over into other areas more effortlessly. When you pour from an empty pitcher, you give to others but there is a sense of resentment and depletion. When you pour from a pitcher that is constantly being refilled by your own nourishment, there is plenty to go around, with more joy too.

    When we care about our brothers and sisters throughout the world, we make choices about the clothes we buy, the companies we support, and money we donate. Though we will never solve all of humanity’s ills, we can start lessening them. Get into microlending to support small business abroad, say no to fast fashion and buy quality pieces from companies whose dyes don’t pollute waters, refuse to buy from companies who buy water rights and deny clean water to local communities, share information and knowledge to help people improve their own lives.

    Share some vitamin L(ove) today and start a new, positive ‘pandemic’ in your own house, community, and perhaps a ripple effect throughout the world.

    Recipe: Dairy-free Hot Chocolate ☕

    Ready for a treat that won’t take you off track from your new year’s goals? Enter a healthier hot chocolate made with less added sugar, plant-based milk, and with the warm spice of cinnamon.

    Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links or discount codes, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may make a commission.

    Ingredients

    1 cup non-dairy milk (we used hazelnut but for extra creamy texture, try coconut milk)

    1 tbsp cacao powder

    1-2 squares of dark chocolate (85% or 90% cacao content for less added sugar)

    1 cinnamon stick

    1 tsp vanilla extract

    Instructions

    Heat 1 cup of non-dairy milk in a small saucepan. Whisk 1 tbsp of cacao powder in the hot milk and bring it to a boil. Then add vanilla extract and let it simmer for a few minutes on low heat. Pour into a cup and add 1-2 squares of dark chocolate. Stir and enjoy!

    The Only Scale you’ll Ever Need

    Many of us have felt tied to presence of the little square box in our bathrooms. Whether it’s with a sense of trepidation each morning, or out of habit, we step on and wait for the results. This smug, often shame-inducing bathroom scale seems to revel in a bit of schadenfreude as it spits back a number that we’ll inextricably tie in with our sense of self-worth. And the bad news often colors the rest of our day, and mood, a dark gray.

    While we aren’t necessarily proposing that you throw that machine out or smash it à la Office Space, what we *do* suggest is a different ‘scale’ of sorts – one that will serve you now and well into the future. It involves way less shame and is a springboard into knowing yourself better while quite possibly helping you lose a few unwanted pounds.

    What is it? The Hunger Scale.

    The tool seems simple enough, but don’t let it fool you. Its power lies in helping you answer some rather complex questions about yourself.

    A client recently expressed this beautifully when she mentioned, “I feel like I don’t know how to fill this out. Am I the only one who feels out of touch with her body?

    Our answer was, “oh, definitely not. You’re in good company”….because it’s true. Many of us have had similar past experiences when it came to HOW we ate. Why?

    Think back to elementary school. You had maybe 30 minutes to process through the line to get your lunch, eat, and talk with your friends before it was recess or back to class. This, of course, continued for many years into higher levels of education.

    If you were part of the “clean plate club” at home, you were often eating out of alignment with your true fullness cues.

    When it came to work, typically your first job(s) would give you a 15 minute break to maybe shove down some food.

    Because of our early experiences in life, all of us have gotten used to driving and eating, eating and working, and eating just because food is around. Rarely do we know what hunger looks like until we are ravenous or light-headed…or what fullness looks like until our pants start biting into our belly skin.

    We have lost a connection with our bodies over the years because of all these factors and more. Even if your stomach was growling during an early morning class, you might have told yourself, “shut up body, I can’t eat until lunch.” Perhaps being made to finish your plate involved inner dialogue like, “yeah, I know you’re uncomfortable, body, but you need to make more room and eat this because I don’t want to sit here; I want to go outside and play.”

    If you want to read more about our connection, or lack thereof, with our bodies, check out Your Body: Whispers or Screams?

    Understandably, this claim seems a bit brazen, but we truly believe that this Hunger Scale tool is the only ‘scale’ you’ll ever need. When you are attuned to your body’s need for fuel versus its need for comfort, you start being able to differentiate between stress or emotional cues and the body’s refueling requirements.

    Since getting in touch with her hunger and satiety cues, one client remarked, “I feel like I used to always be eating. I don’t do that anymore.”

    We’re gifting you our Hunger Scale template here, with some parts filled in to assist and guide you.

    Every one has different signals of physical (and psychological) hunger, so fill it out according to your own unique patterns. If you’re finding it a bit harder than you thought, you’re not alone and we are here to help.

    Recipe: Easy Breezy Basil Pasta

    As many of you have probably heard us say, we love food; however, what we don’t love is spending an hour preparing each meal of the day. Sometimes we just need a lunch or dinner to fit 3 requirements: to be nutritious, delicious, and quick. This meal checks all of the boxes and more – it’s gluten-free and plant-based (vegan even). After the early days of taste-testing gluten-free pastas (mostly with dismal results), we are deeply in love with Banza pasta – it provides about 14 grams of protein per serving, about double that of regular pasta, and is made from chickpeas. *Italian chef’s kiss* You’re welcome in advance 😉

    Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links or discount codes, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may make a commission

    Prep time: 15 minutes total

    Servings: about 2

    Ingredients

    1/2 box Banza Cavatappi

    1/2 package Miyoko’s Vegan Mozzarella , chopped or shredded

    2 cups tomato sauce

    2 tsp nutritional yeast

    1 tbsp fresh basil, sliced

    1 tsp dried oregano

    1 tsp dried rosemary

    1/2 tsp garlic powder

    Instructions

    Boil water, add pasta and cook for about 10 minutes or until desired firmness. While waiting, heat chosen tomato sauce on low and add nutritional yeast, dried oregano and rosemary, and garlic powder. Thinly slice fresh basil. Once pasta is done, drain and place on plate with tomato sauce , vegan mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil on top. Easy chickpeas-y meal. Enjoy!

    Recipe: Jackfruit Peanut Noodles

    Our first instinct was to call this recipe “Jolly Jackfruit” for two reasons: the red and green vibrant colors are reminiscent of the holidays AND it’s a meal that promotes feeling jolly afterward, fueled with plant-proteins and bright vegetables. It doesn’t hurt that the peanut sauce is to-die-for delicious. Use this meal for your new year’s resolutions of eating healthier and/or more plant-based. Enjoy!

    Prep time: about 20 minutes

    Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links or discount codes, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may make a commission.

    Ingredients

    2 cans of young jackfruit

    2 tbsp olive oil (coconut oil works too)

    6 cloves of garlic, minced

    2 cups kale, chopped

    1 cup full-fat coconut milk

    2 Tbsp coconut aminos (or use soy sauce or tamari)

    2 tsp toasted sesame seed oil

    1 Tbsp fresh ginger

    1/2 cup peanut butter

    1/4 cup fresh lime juice (1-2 limes needed)

    1/2 Tbsp maple syrup (optional, to help provide a multi-dimensional flavor to the peanut sauce)

    8oz rice noodles, prepared according to package instructions

    Instructions

    Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat then add garlic, kale, and red bell pepper to cook for 4-6 minutes. Stir regularly. Drain the jackfruit and remove hard core. Use your hands to pull, or ‘shred’ the jackfruit. Add it to the skillet and cook for about 4 minutes.

    Now it’s time to prepare the peanut sauce. In a blender, add the coconut milk, peanut butter, coconut aminos, lime juice, maple syrup, toasted sesame oil and ginger. Blend until smooth then taste and add seasonings or spice until it’s to your liking.

    Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and then add the rice noodles and cook according to the package instructions While waiting, pour the peanut sauce into the skillet to coat the jackfruit and veggies with the peanut sauce. Stir and cook for about 2-3 minutes before removing mixture from heat. Serve by placing noodles in a bowl and topping with the jackfruit and veggies. Add cilantro, peanuts, or red pepper flakes for additional flavor and garnish, if desired. This dish is best served fresh but can be easily heated up the next day for a delicious lunch.

    If you are allergic to peanuts, take heart – almond butter worked just as well for this recipe.