Things I Don’t Do

Inspired by both my life coach Diana and my treasured friend Emily, I wanted to share a list of the things I don’t do. How many times we marvel over the things others seem to effortlessly pack into their lives only to lose sight of the many things they probably don’t to make room for what matters. So here we are, a list of things I just don’t do.

1. I don’t cook dinner.

There’s odd occasions when I handle dinner, and I obviously handle my own meals throughout the day when Andrew is at work. But 99% of the time, Andrew handles prep and cooking for our family. He enjoys it and it really quite talented in the kitchen so perhaps I lucked out in the mate department! I clean up after for good measure.

2. I don’t deep clean our house.

I prefer tidy over clean so while I do lots of picking up and light organizing at the end of every day, I don’t break out cleaning supplies and the vacuum before bed. Most of the time, about every other month, we outsource deep cleaning to a wonderful women who earns every single penny we pay her to make our home really sparkle.

3. I don’t frequent the salon.

I remember being Shakira-blonde in my late teens and high school years. My hair was so long and thick, and the whole operation took more than 2 hours at the salon each month (and cost so much money my part-time job was to help fund my hair updates). Now I am lucky if I can sneak away for a 30 minute trim on my naturally dark, shorter, thinner locks. Same goes for pedicures, massages, eyebrow and lash treatments. Those are once in a blue moon treats versus consistent maintenance sort of things. I’m turning into a Simple Sally and it’s a-Ok.

4. I don’t overly organize.

I’ve defaulted to being less organized now that we have two kiddos and time feels a little more precious, but I try to keep things simple when organizing. My clothes might not be organized by color but they are all hung up. The kids toys might not be organized by type, but they are put away. Done is better than perfect, right?

5. I don’t grocery shop.

Andrew and I were just talking about how grocery store visits with a three-year-old and a colicky and frequent nursing baby, in the dead of Michigan winter mind you, are literally two hour (usually exhausting / frustrating) adventures. And while I love a good adventure I think there are better ones outside of Meijer. We now have our groceries delivered to us 75% of the time and I’ve learned to stop feeling guilty or boujee about it.

6. I don’t wash my hair everyday.

I know many women don’t wash their hair daily and swear by dry shampoo so I’m sure this isn’t very surprising. I wear my hair up in a pony almost all of the time so I just don’t find it necessary to keep it squeaky clean. I only use dry shampoo in cases where washing my hair was put on the back burner and it needs to look fresh.

7. I don’t overcomplicate my personal style.

This is probably another post-kids thing but I realized my personal style and uniform since becoming a mother is pretty simple. I wear stud earrings, my two wedding bands (which never come off), usually leggings and socks, a nursing bra, and fuss-free shirt. No bracelets, watches, or accessories that get in the way, complicated outfits I’m afraid to get dirty or sweat in, or impractical footwear. While I’m sure a lot of my style preferences these days has to do with having a small baby, I love the current ease of getting dressed and undressed every day.

8. I don’t wash my clothes after every single wear.

Why would I do this when I have three males in my house that go through outfits in minutes? LOL. All jokes aside, unless something is visually dirty, smelly, or considered underwear, I wear it multiple times before washing. I take everything off at the end of the day and dirty stuff goes directly into the washing machine and clean stuff gets folded and put in the bathroom for the next morning when I get out of my morning bath.

9. I don’t let laundry pile up.

As I type this I can hear the dryer tossing and turning clothes (most of them belonging to the three males in our home but that’s besides the point). While it’s a big perk to work from home and be able to tackle a few home tasks in between work calls and meetings, I commit to doing a load or two of laundry every single day to avoid it being a dreaded piled up task once a week (like on Sundays). You can read more about my system here.

10. I don’t do my own bookkeeping or taxes.

This would be a professional disaster and makes my hands sweat just thinking about it. I outsourcing my bookkeeping and accounting to two wonderful professionals who help me free up precious time to do what I do really well; like create beautiful things, help my clients plan their weddings, and fiercely love my family.

11. I don’t go to the movies.

I hate surprises (well, I love giving them to others) so movies are usually hard for me to enjoy. And sitting still for about two hours is something I’d prefer to do with a book or a person in conversation. Also, I am a compulsive wikipedia-plot-checker so my husband will tell you I am the worst movie date regardless. I also don’t watch TV.

12. I don’t go out late or drink.

Rarely that is. And again this is partially because of the season I am in where I haven’t slept a full night in over a year so rest time is precious but this girl LOVES her sleep and I believe it makes my days better. Going out late or even enjoying a glass of wine always toys with my sleep and makes me feel pretty awful in the morning. So I try to manage social activity at reasonable times and when necessary. And I always ask for ginger ale in a wine glass.

13. I don’t commit to things that I cannot handle or that don’t matter.

I’m trying this new approach in 2019 where I keep everything as manageable and simple as possible, and ultimately it involves saying ‘no’ a lot more than usual. It feels a little sacrificial at times but I know it’s so I can give my best to the people and things that matter right now. Lots of networking events, friend’s parties, business trips and even personal outings, etc, those things just aren’t on the list right now given our season.

14. I don’t wait until the last hour to do things.

This point is probably more about how I am wired and less about easy choices I make without intentional thought, but I am a firm believer that being well prepared always saves time and stress in most situations. I put out my clothes every night, have my daily to-do list next to me at night for quick jot notes and thoughts, order holiday cards and birthday gifts well in advance, confirm RSVPs the minute I know we can (or cannot) make an event, initiate conversations about things others consider too far out (like trips and family holidays), and renew accounts and subscriptions before I get notifications they’ve expired.

15. I don’t text back right away or engage in long text chats.

Perhaps this is my achilles heel as a friend but I don’t respond back to texts right away because I am usually with my hands full or away from my phone. And I prefer to be focused on the things usually taking up my time like my husband or kids. I also feel like texting just takes up SO much time to convey messages that ultimately can be conveyed in a call or over coffee (tea, wine, whatever) so I try to encourage calls and dates when possible.

16. I don’t mindlessly scroll social media.

This is also a new approach for me in 2019 and while it’s been hard ti implement it’s been really refreshing. With the exception of one day a week when I put in my time online to share and encourage, I have greatly reduced the time I spend just scrolling away online on Instagram (my biggest weakness). I’ve also cut down on the time spent lost in Pinterest or the time I might spend on Facebook.

17. I don’t iron clothing. Both mine and my husband’s.

This task makes me cringe just thinking about it. Maybe it’s all the things I’ve ironed for clients over the last almost decade but it’s not a task I enjoy and not one that is quick or kid-friendly either. So I wash my husband’s shirts and he irons them. In the weeks where he gets too busy to stay on top of the ironing I take them down to the cleaner and they get pressed for a few dollars a piece. Money well spent in my opinion!

18. I don’t over decorate.

This is probably similar to my personal style point above but our home style has slightly evolved over the last few years. Part of this is because our two kids have required us to change and remove (and add!) certain things but another part is less is simply more for our family. Less stuff everywhere means less maintenance and tidying. And less updating and changing as seasons and styles change. Less dusting. While I don’t consider us to be minimalistic, I do like to think we are simply decorated around here.

And there you have it! Seems like a pretty fuss-free way to live huh? If you’re interested in the things I DO make time for, that list is here.

I’d love to hear what tasks you say no to in your home and family. Do any of the above resonate with or surprise you? Do we share similarities? I’d love to know in the comments below! Xoxo

My Favorite Specialty Food Products

Aside from having the willpower to choose healthier foods over what I consider to be ones that are ‘naughty’ (for me) the hardest part of my eating regimen is finding products that check off all the boxes for me AND taste good. Well, this WAS one of the hardest parts of getting started when I originally jumped into the vegan and candida-cleanse world in the summer of 2017. Talk about overwhelming! But now I feel equipped and in the know on where to find products that taste good and make me feel like a million bucks!

My relationship with food is complicated. Like most people, I would assume, I make food choices because of the immediate emotional response versus the health rewards. I also think in great extremes which can be problematic when looking for balance. Together, my emotional eating and inability to find balance led me to being very sick in 2017. And now after having my second baby I am trying to figure out a healthy balance with food again. This involves accepting there are certain foods that don’t sit well with my body (e.g. dairy, gluten, eggs, loads of sugar), and knowing I am fully responsible for keeping myself fueled and happy (and happy doesn’t mean eating five donuts because they taste good in the moment; it means having an apple with almond butter because it tastes almost as good as a donut but without the physical consequences).

While I don’t consider my lifestyle to fall into the category of a well-known diet like paleo or keto, and I try to avoid calling what I eat a ‘diet’, I do have a few guidelines that help me when I meal plan, reach for something in the fridge, or hardest of all, go out to eat at a restaurant. They are outlined below in great depth.

Rhi’s Balanced Eating Guidelines

• I avoid dairy and eggs. Dairy is my biggest trigger and this includes heavy cream, cheese (goat cheese is an exception), milk, sour cream, cream cheese, yogurt, and butter. As such there is a big group of items that are usually off limits. Ice cream, most cheese heavy dishes and snacks, burrata (oh sweet burrata!), and creamy sauces are no go’s for me. Not only do these items cause me severe cystic acne but they make my stomach feel bloated and icky. On top of my milk sensitivities, I also have an egg allergy that developed after I had Lachlan. While I can stomach small traces of it in things, I haven’t had am omelette or scrambled eggs in more than three years.

• I avoid gluten. Especially when it’s things like pizza dough, bagels, breads, pastries, etc. Sometimes I can stomach a little gluten if it’s used as a binding ingredients in things like meatballs for example, or noodles in a soup, but for the most part, gluten makes me feel very uncomfortably full, bloated, and tired. I also find my skin to look much more dull, blotched red, and dry when I eat high traces of gluten.

• I order or shop for protein that hasn’t been doctored up or pumped up with additives. Meaning I’ll go for grilled, hormone-free chicken added to my salad instead of chicken wings. Or a high-quality piece of steak instead of a hamburger slathered in melted cheese. Even better, fresh, sustainably sourced seafood like a grilled salmon filet instead of breaded fish. While I used to have a strict vegan only diet, I now try to eat meat in small amounts to help manage my anemia (and thus, my exhaustion). If the meat I consume is good quality I usually feel energized by it so I give myself grace as a former vegan and consider it a-OK in this season.

• I make or order foods that have a variety of flavor profiles. This is a key to making sure I feel fulfilled emotionally when I eat versus feeling like I’m getting the short end of the stick. I believe this is why my go to breakfast dish is SUCH a winner! Instead of what could feel like a boring plate of sweet potatoes it feels like a burst of flavors and a variety of foods all into one satisfying meal. How this translates to other meals and ordering when eating out? I look for interesting dressings like infused vinaigrettes, creative presentations of vegetables like mashes, and any inclusions of fresh herbs and in-season produce. I’m also not afraid to ask for ‘sides’ of things that I can simply add to dishes like avocado with breakfast, lime with my salad, or fresh veggies with my bun-less burger.

• I mostly say no to sugar. Unfortunately, the sugar I most love is the kind paired with heavy dairy. So cheesecakes, butter-based desserts, whipped cream type goodies, and heavy pastry dishes like brioche French toast. I LOVE these things and swear I should have been born in Paris but alas I am a Canadian born gal stuck in the Midwest with food sensitivities. So I tend to flock to restaurants where there are many dairy-free dessert options. Which thankfully are becoming more common these days! Things like coconut milk ice cream, dairy-free chocolate, and natural sugar ingredients like maple syrup and honey used in place of refined sugars are safe.

• I have to fight for balance. In the past there’s been extreme candida-cleanse Rhi. And I liked her because she was skinny and energetic and felt amazing. But that Rhi was obsessive and felt anxious anytime she had to leave the house to eat. Then there’s YOLO Rhi and she’s loves eating five pieces of Pizza Hut pizza because #thatcrust, a whole box of Oreos, and a bottle of Mexican coke all in one sitting because it just tastes SO good. But that Rhi was useless to everyone because she was sick, literally sick, tired, lifeless, and miserable because of way those things physically and emotionally manifested themselves. So now I fight for balance and being honest with myself about what that looks like every time I put something into my mouth.

So if you’re like me and you just can’t stomach certain indulgences but you like to eat because it’s a party for your tastebuds and emotions, I want to give you some tried and true suggestions of where you can start with specialty food items. Below is a list of staples, things I depend on to eat and be happy, that I would highly recommend.

Tinkyada pasta: The first time I ate a bite of Tinkyada’s brown rice pasta I nearly cried! Unlike a lot of the gluten-free or chick-pea based pastas out there (which I have tried many), this tastes almost as close as the real deal. Not only does Tinkyada hold up texture like traditional pasta but the flavor profile is pretty neutral, and a full serving doesn’t leave you feeling heavy and bloated. I eat a big bowl of the spaghetti with vegan butter and parm as a once in a blue moon treat but the shape variety makes for delicious stir fries and casseroles.

Nutcase vegan sausages: This vegan meat was one of the things I was allowed to incorporate into my diet a month into my candida cleanse in 2017. And it was a game charger for me because it felt like I had flavor back in my diet! I have a texture issue with real sausage and find it to be one of the harder meats to digest, but with this nut and nutritional yeast based alternative it’s like I get the best of both worlds. We prefer this in our home to animal based sausage and use it often in breakfast dishes or with pasta. Note: this is the priciest product on the entire list here so it’s often a special treat when we make it out to the health food store.

Trader Joe’s vegan chorizo: I was hesitant to jump on the Trader Joe’s train when they finally came to Grand Rapids in the fall of 2015 because I felt like everyone shopped there just to say they shopped there. But I must say they have a pretty awesome selection of products, and ones that cater to people like me, who have special eating restrictions. When Andrew brought home their vegan chorizo I was hooked. It’s a staple in our house. And it’s one of TJ’s top 10 products every year, which is easy to see why once you take a bite!

Violife vegan parmesan cheese: Like I mentioned above, giving up cheese was hard. There’s nothing quite like an expensive piece of cheese. Or grated parm on noodles, salads, appetizers, and the list goes on. As I mentioned above, when I switched from regular pasta noodles to brown rice noodles, it was almost like the real deal except I greatly missed grated parm on top. Enter this vegan parm substitute! You really cannot tell the difference and it even grates to a similar parmesan cheese texture. I put it on my breakfast dish, pasta dishes, and even bruschetta.

Harvest Snaps: There are a lot different companies that make similar snack crisps but these are the ones we most frequently buy. This is my go-to when I’m craving something crunchy or salty. I have a hard time not eating an entire bag of these delicious little crunchies that’s how good they are! While there are a handful of flavor options like Creamy Ceasar which my husband loves, I stick to the Lightly Salted as they seem to be the cleanest option.

The Perfect Bar: While these aren’t officially vegan, Perfect Bars are a nice ‘treat’ alternative to a chocolate bar (which is something I could easily reach for after every meal if it were in our house). They are also categorized as a protein bar so on the days where I don’t eat meat it keeps me feeling full. There are more than 10 different flavors, and all the bars are gluten free and made with superfood sources that you won’t find in a KitKat.

Enjoy Life Foods: The primary Enjoy Life Foods product we buy is their line of dairy-free chocolate chips. We use them in everything from homemade protein bites to delicious desserts from Oh She Glows. Or as a simple pick-me-up by the handful (guilty). I also recently tried their sunflower butter cups, as an alternative to peanut butter cups, and while they aren’t quite like a Reese’s it’s nice to see they are satisfying. Aside from the variety of chocolate chip options, Enjoy Life has an impressive array of products which we hope to explore in the future.

Love’s ice cream: This Grand Rapids based company makes arguably the best ice cream you’ll ever taste and how lucky for us they are local! They make dairy ice cream but most of their flavors come in vegan versions and they are hands down the very best. Everything tastes exactly how like how I would guess nature intended it like their vegan strawberry ice cream; it’s SO fresh and smooth and mildly sweet unlike sugar-loaded traditional ice creams. I noticed they are now carried in Meijer so who knows, they may expand outside of the Mitten soon!

Ripple Milk: The milk alternatives these days are vast and delicious. Remember when soy milk was this radical option outside of cow’s milk? Now the milk alternative section at any health food store, let alone big name grocers, will amaze and delight (macadamia nut milk anyone?). Ripple is made with pea protein and comes in unsweetened, unsweetened vanilla, and chocolate for a nice variety. Ripple is especially great as a kid-friendly option if your little can’t or you prefer them not to consume cow’s milk. We’ve found Ripple to hold up the best in sauces, baking where milk is required, and in smoothies. It’s perfect if you don’t love the nutty flavors of nut milks.

Silk almond milk creamer: This is probably the ‘junkiest’ item on the list in terms of faux sugars. But one of my goals in 2019 (so far a bug success too) was to eliminate pricey Starbucks visits and make coffee at home. Not only does this obviously save money but it allows me to leave the home less, make use of the Nespresso machine we have, and best of all enjoy our mornings better as a family over hot cups of frothy coffee. This creamer has helped make my decaf coffee taste really delicious and something I look forward to each morning!

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What are your favorite specialty foods? Are there any ones you’re dying to tell the world about?

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