Asian Cucumber Salad

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Asian Cucumber Salad

This light and fresh Asian cucumber salad is our new favorite healthy side dish, complete with a sweet and tangy vinegar dressing.

Earlier this year I was working on an Asian steak marinade and I was playing around with the idea of using black vinegar in it. The final recipe was tested when Cade’s mom came into town and it was a total hit. Without even realizing it though, I’d added black vinegar to the cucumbers instead of the steak marinade that morning. It turned out both dishes needed something a little different than what I was doing and it was awesome!

You can read below for a substitute as we still love cucumber salad with just straight up rice or apple cider vinegar. In fact, we often use both. 

a photo of a glass bowl full of thinly sliced cucumberrs and red onion topped with a sesame seed dressing.

Ingredients for Asian Cucumber Salad

It only takes 7 ingredients to make this simple but refreshing salad recipe. Here is what you will need:

  • English Cucumber – I just to just slice them thin by hand, but feel free to remove the seeds if you want
  • Red Onion – totally optional but I love the zip it adds, do a fine slice on a mandolin
  • Rice Vinegar – mild, sweet and sour flavor
  • Chinese Black Vinegar – a dark mild vinegar with a slightly fruity flavor
  • Honey – adds sweetness and balances the saltiness and tang
  • Sesame Seeds – give them a little toast to enhance the nutty flavor
  • Fine Sea Salt – dissolves easily into the dressing and adds flavor
The full recipe with all the measurements and instructions can be found in the recipe card at the end of this post.

The Secret to Better Italian Stuffed Peppers Recipe

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The secret to this Better Italian Stuffed Peppers recipe isn’t anything crazy, so why does no one do it? I guess it took a hater of stuffed peppers to make the magic happen.

a photo of a baking dish full of stuffed pepper covered in melted cheese.

Motherhood with Joy

My friend recently had her little boy in the hospital with a bad case of pneumonia. Anytime a child, especially one that’s still a young toddler ends up in the hospital, my heart lurches into the reality of time and love. It seems only yesterday and somehow a million years ago that I was lying in a hospital fighting to survive along with an unborn baby doing the same thing, but at my own expense. I lack an awful lot in life, certainly when it comes to parenting, but times like these always remind me of one thing, and I hope it will make sense to say it, at least I’m here.

I may not make perfect decisions or respond to situations perfectly, but oh how I perfectly ache to be a good mother. To remember to love them and to strive a little more to extend that love to those outside of my home. As I honor the gift of motherhood I find myself wondering, what is the secret to motherhood with joy?

My friend’s son made it out of a much longer stay in the hospital than expected. She had so much on her plate and could have lost faith in tomorrow, in medicine, even in God, but she continued on, giving all she could muster each day for him.

I guess that’s it. All I can do it strive each day to begin again and remember that though tempted to lose faith in many things, myself, people and the world, God never loses faith in those things. Maybe I won’t end up with adult children that think I was the best mom, but maybe they will think I was trying to love them. Maybe that’s enough. Just to try to love.


5 ways to take care of your mental health in hot weather

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When temperatures peak, our wellbeing can suffer. Here are five tips for taking care of your mental health during heatwaves

5 ways to take care of your mental health in hot weather

There are a lot of pros when it comes to hot, sunny weather. It’s a chance to get our vitamin D levels (a really good mood booster), to slow down, and to get outside. But, when the thermometer tips over a comfortable point, and we don’t have an easy way to cool off, we can find ourselves feeling flustered, sluggish, and irritable.

So, what can we do to make sure that we take care of our mental health during heat waves and hot weather? Try following these tips:

1. Consider your medication

Certain types of mental health medications – tricyclic antidepressants and antipsychotics, including amitriptyline, imipramine, doxepin, mianserin, and trazodone – can impair the part of the brain responsible for temperature regulation. This can mean that you’re more at risk of overheating, and so should take extra precautions in hot weather. If this applies to you, it’s always worth checking in with your GP or mental health team.

In the same vein, medication generally needs to be stored at room temperature – which is about 25°C – and can start to lose potency if the temperature drastically exceeds that. Generally, most medications will make it through heat waves without a problem, But watch out for changes in colour, taste, or structure, and if you’re in any doubt reach out to your pharmacist.

2. Stay hydrated

You probably didn’t need us to tell you that you need to drink more water when it’s hot, but did you know just how important staying hydrated is for our brain function? Drinking enough water has been linked to lower rates of anxiety and depression, but it can also help you stave off brain fog, and help you stay more alert – with studies showing that just being dehydrated by 2% impairs things like memory and focusing on your daily tasks.

3. Understand your feelings

You’ve probably experienced it yourself, but studies have shown a link between hot weather and heightened emotions, particularly anger and hostility. The heat can interfere with the processes that regulate our mood, and we may find that we respond to things in ways we wouldn’t do normally – such as snapping at loved ones, road rage, and quickly escalating disagreements.

If you’ve noticed this is happening, you’re well on your way to taking control. By identifying that we’re not behaving in a way we would normally do, we’re able to take a step back and really assess the situation and put it in perspective. Try to communicate with those around you, let them know that you might be more prickly than normal, and try to keep your cool if you notice others going through the same thing. This could be a good time to amp up your self-care practices or to vent in a journal.

4. Try to get some sleep

Trust us, we know it’s easier said than done, but when we’re not getting enough

Friday Faves and Vegas Recap

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Hi friends! Happy Friday! Quick alert: Summer Shape Up plan goes out this afternoon! I’ll be posting the workouts here on the blog each Sunday but if you want everything in advance + the meal ideas, get on the list here!! I can’t wait to do this with you all!

What’s going on this weekend? How was the week?

Ours was a great one. We got back from Vegas late on Sunday and hopped into the adventures of the week. The girls have been taking a kickboxing class with some friends – they love it!!- and we met up with some friends at the pool, lit fireworks in the front yard for 4th of July, I took the girls on a nails and movie date, and we have been getting ready for visitors today. The Pilot’s sis, mom, dad, and our niece and nephew are visiting for the long weekend and we can’t wait for some Tucson adventures with them.

Friday Faves and Vegas Recap

Before the standard Friday Faves post, I wanted to share some Vegas adventures! We met up with Betsy and Jeremy (our San Diego besties and travel buddies) last weekend and had the best time shopping, gambling, people-watching, and eating all of the ridiculous food. It was our 5th trip to Vegas together (!) and we wanted to try a new hotel. We typically love the Venetian and Bellagio, but decided to stay at the Wynn and were NOT disappointed. It’s definitely our new place. I wish I would have snapped a pic of our room with the panoramic view. Everything was recently renovated, the rooms and property were gorgeous, and the service and food were excellent. Highly recommend it if you’re planning a trip to Vegas anytime soon.

Also wanted to mention here that I booked the trip using our AMEX platinum card, which has SO many benefits. We get free access to multiple airport lounges (clutch when traveling with the kids) and also get resort credit, late checkout, and room upgrades when available. It’s by far my favorite credit card, especially for hotels and travel.

Friday afternoon, the Pilot and I walked around the Strip and into the Caesar’s Forums shops, then stopped for appetizers and iced tea at True Food. It was that tricky point of the day when you don’t want a full lunch to ruin your dinner, but definitely want a little snack to hold you over. True Food was perfect! We had dinner reservations that night at the Mirage, which is where we met up with Betsy and Jeremy.

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Mid-year wellbeing reset: Feel the benefits in five days

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The summer months are a great time to rethink our relationship with social media and incorporate more mood-boosting time outdoors. So when Very offered us the opportunity to try a five-day reset, we jumped at the chance…

Mid-year wellbeing reset: Feel the benefits in five days

I admit that, in recent months, I’d become a self-care hypocrite. My phone tells me as much with weekly usage reports creeping up and up and its tiny screen being my first and last sight every day.

I write and speak about mental health and wellbeing every day but I’ve become adept at preaching and not practising what I know to be important. I’m good at making excuses about why I can’t get outside more (something that brings me joy) and away from my laptop beyond working hours. I tell myself that I don’t have the time, there are other things I should be doing and it’s too hot/cold/rainy and my hiking boots leak and rub and I don’t have time to replace them.

Then, like a gift - quite literally - the team at Very contacted us with an offer to work together to highlight the wellbeing benefits of spending more time outdoors, and a challenge was born! I would prioritise stroll time in nature over scroll time on my device for five days and reflect upon the impact it had.

My task was to challenge my ‘productivity’ and technology-focused mindset while Very kindly and swiftly addressed my incessant procrastination around buying new outdoor gear. Just a day after I selected them, two new beautiful pairs of Adidas hiking shoes and a lightweight Berghaus jacket from their sports clothing and equipment range arrived on my doorstep. I no longer had any excuses left…

Day one

With the high-summer morning sun peeking through the blinds at 5.30am, I wake up earlier than my alarm and consider reaching for the phone. I could easily spend an hour scrolling through reels but, instead, I throw on some clothes and the Adidas Terrex Hikster low hiking shoes (I love the colours - beige, purple and white), wake up my dog, Zac and head out.

It’s already a warm day and, as I walk by the Thames, I notice how the river sparkles and witness two cygnets swimming alongside their parents. I remind myself that I wouldn't have seen this if I’d indulged in my regular morning social media binge.

Mid-year wellbeing reset: Feel the benefits in five days

adidas Terrex Hikster low hiking shoes and Zac

I sit down on the grass while Zac sniffs the ground around me and I close my eyes for a moment and breathe deeply before turning back towards home. It’s not yet 7am and I’ve felt the sun on my face, connected with nature and spent some quality time with my canine chum. I feel like I’ve achieved something already but, more than that, I feel calm heading into a new work week.

Day two