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how to start an edible garden at home

how to start an edible garden at home

 

edible garden

HOL's how to series with guest blogger, elsie padrón 

like most things, the hardest thing about starting a garden is, well…starting. having come from a family of green thumbs, i’ve always wanted my own little garden. nothing in comparison to the backyard paradise at my grandparents’ house growing up—full of avocados, mangos, ciruelas, plantains, guayabas, tomatoes, limes, oranges (before the county forced my grandfather to cut them down), squash, pineapple and herbs—but a starter garden. you know, something small and manageable to start with, and portable for when the time comes to leave our rental.

so when the opportunity presented itself to adopt a garden belonging to an acquaintance who was moving to chicago, i jumped at it. after a grueling few hours of manual labor (shout out to my husband and our friend enrique!), the garden made it home to our backyard, already filled with tomatoes, shishito peppers, banana peppers, kale, collard greens, and a variety of herbs.

we’ve had the garden for a few months now, which by no means makes me an expert…more of an enthusiastic beginner who is eager to share what i’ve learned so that others may be so inspired to start their own little garden. 

edible garden

supplies

  • garden trough or bed

our garden is split up between among metal troughs. this was ideal for us because we wanted it to be somewhat portable if and when we moved. if you decide to go this route, there are several options online (like this one). of course, a traditional garden bed also works. the width of your trough or bed will depend on how much you want to grow. you want to leave a good 10–12” between plantings. and vegetable plants need a depth of at least 15–18” to fully develop roots. regardless of the kind of container you choose, you’ll want a raised bed (i.e., not in-ground) garden for best results.

  • drill and metal punch
you’ll want to drill some holes in the bottom of your troughs for proper drainage.

lining

our garden is lined on the bottom with rocks, but there is some debate about whether rocks or gravel actually help with soil drainage. if you decide not to go that route, lay a nylon or vinyl screen down on the bottom of your trough or garden bed before you add your soil.

  • concrete blocks or other elevation

my garden troughs are sitting up on concrete blocks, which are cheap and readily available at your nearest hardware store.

soil

there are a lot of gardening resources out there, and it seems like each one has a different opinion on the kind of soil mixture you should be using in your garden. many of them recommend mixing components individually by hand, testing soil ph levels, etc. as a beginner, that was just too much to take on. beyond what has already been used in my adopted garden, i’ve opted for fox farm brand potting soils. their ocean forest, happy frog, or lucky dog soils are great multipurpose options.

plant support

  • chicken wire or galvanized hardware cloth

to protect your garden from larger pests (cats are an issue in our neighborhood), you’ll want to place chicken wire or galvanized hardware cloth on top of your soil in between plantings or place chicken wire all around your garden bed in the form of a “fence” to keep critters out. we’ve opted for the former, but if you choose to go the fence route, here is a great video tutorial to walk you through the process.

diy pest spray

our garden came to us with a moderate aphid infestation on our shishito pepper plants. these tiny bugs will do a lot of damage. if you see these on the undersides of leaves, cut off any leaves that are beyond repair, placing them in sealed plastic bags before disposing of them. for healthy leaves with a few bugs, try shocking them with a cold blast of water from your hose first, then spray the leaves (not the veggies!) with a mixture of one quart of water, one teaspoon of biodegradable dish soap or castile soap, and a healthy pinch of cayenne pepper.

plants

notice that i said “plants,” not “seeds.” a lot of gardeners will tell you that the best way to start a garden is from seeds. it’s less costly (by far), you’ll have more varieties to choose from, and you’ll be able to save seeds for the next year’s harvest. but the process is time consuming, taking several weeks of daily care, indoor, somewhat climate-controlled space, more equipment and loss. it’s a delicate process and the timing and moisture and light and warmth have to be just right. for these reasons, i’m an advocate of buying plants if you’re a beginner.

“but what will i grow?” you ask. our adopted garden came with a few varieties of tomatoes, shishito peppers, banana peppers, kale, collard greens, and a variety of herbs. we’ve since swapped the banana peppers with red bell peppers and added chocolate mint, cilantro, german thyme and sage to our collection of herbs. i’m still figuring out the growing seasons in south florida, but have found some excellent resources online, including this gardening calendar published by the univeristy of florida. we’ll see how my garden holds up in the harsh miami summer! my suggestion for a newbie at this time of year would be to start with an herb garden (basil, cilantro, mint, chives, oregano, thyme and lemongrass do well in the heat), and a couple of warm-weather-loving vegetables. whenever possible, buy heirloom plants at a nursery.

edible garden

okay, now you’ve gathered all of your supplies and it’s time to get planting!

    1. prepare your garden trough by drilling drainage holes (¼” to ½”) into the bottom. be sure to fit your drill with a drill bit made to bore through metal. turn the trough upside down and mark the spots you wish to drill. using a metal punch, hammer until it penetrates the bottom of the container. once you have a slight hole, place the drill bit onto the hole, press hard and start the drill. repeat for each hole. as for the number of holes, it’s not a science. you just want enough of them, evenly spaced, for proper soil drainage. here’s what the end result should look like.

    2. line the bottom of your trough with nylon or vinyl screen.

    3. fill your trough with planting soil. do not compress or tamp down the soil. you want it to be loose and airy.

    4. plant your plants several inches away from each other. i leave less spacing (about 5–6”) between herbs and more spacing (about 10–12”) between vegetables (some of which will need support that will also take up some space). soak your plants while still in their planters. then remove them from their planters, gently loosen the soil and place in pre-dug holes in your soil. you’ll want to cut the bottom leaves off of your veggie plants and plant a bit deeper than your herbs.

    5. protect your garden from backyard pests. cut pieces of galvanized hardware metal to fit between your plants, leaving a few inches around your plantings so they have room to grow. cats don’t like the way the metal feels on their paws. alternatively, you can build a chicken wire fence around your garden (instructions on that above).

    6. water your garden. how often you water depends on the climate where you live and your soil, as some soils retain moisture better than others. as a general rule, i water the garden if, when sticking my index finger an inch down in the soil, i don’t feel moisture. in the miami winter months, this has resulted in watering once every 2–3 days, but i suspect that i’ll be watering more often as the temperature rises.

harvest time!

this is my favorite part. your garden has produced veggies! it’s time to break out your basket and gardening shears. knowing when to pick your vegetables takes some time and practice, but here are some general guidelines for a few different varieties:

edible garden

  • herbs: cut back herbs frequently to keep them producing more stems and leaves and to prevent blooming, which is not good. if your herbs are flowering, it means you haven’t cut them back enough. blooming changes the flavor of the leaves. basil is especially susceptible to this. if you’ve found yourself with way too much basil, make a big batch of pesto! we do this at home and store the extra in the freezer.
  • tomatoes: there are so many varieties of tomatoes that it would be impossible to include them all here, but in general, a tomato is ready to pick when it’s ever-so-slightly soft and releases easily from the stem. you’ll probably go through a few tomatoes before you figure out the best timing for your varieties, and that’s okay! tomatoes will ripen a bit after you pick them.
  • peppers: peppers are most flavorful when they turn red, orange or whatever their “mature” color is, but you can still eat them green. make sure to snip them off your plant (don’t tug). as with tomatoes, the first few you pick will help you determine the best timing.
  • kale: do you remember life before kale entered the mainstream as the delicious, miraculous superfood we know it to be today? me either. i highly encourage you to grow kale in your garden. it’s such a versatile green, as good in smoothies as it is in a salad (or as an alternative to potato chips!). your kale will grow with a large, tough center stem and sprout leaves from the top. it kind of looks like a little palm tree. you want to cut your kale leaves from the bottom up, leaving at least four leaves intact at the top to promote new growth. kale grows really well in warm weather, but it doesn’t like too much heat (think high 80s and above). during the hot summer, cut back the kale liberally and frequently to prevent toughness and bitterness.

  

whether you start with a small herb garden or decide to grow a variety of vegetables, you’ll be amazed by the difference in flavor and quality from what you’re used to buying in grocery stores. happy planting, friends!

 

ready to start gardening? house of lilac's home sweet home gift box has everything you need to get you started!

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about elsie  

elsie padrón is the baker behind elsie’s flour shop and the founder of the soon-to-be-launched baking blog, flour + thyme, offering from-scratch recipes for flavorful, seasonal and ingredient-driven desserts. sign up to get notified when flour + thyme launches.
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five mother's day activity ideas to make her smile

five mother's day activity ideas to make her smile
mother's day activity ideas

if there's one thing we've learned from working at a mama-run business, it's that momming ain't easy. while gifts are kind of our thing, we know that the perfect mother's day requires so much more than a present. here are just a few gift experiences to make mom feel like she's worth everything and more! 

spa stint 

if "mom" is in her title, chances are she needs some me time. miami is full of luxe spas like the fontainebleau, biltmore and amé that offer special mother's day discounts. if she's not MIA-based, spafinder has it all - massages, facials, yoga and classes at thousands of spa locations across the country.

for the spa-at-home kind of gal, our special edition mother's day gift is filled with chocolatey delicacies and bath time staples. if you really want to spoil her, add a fresh flower bouquet, aromatic candle or a bottle of wine. 

mother's day activity ideas

breakfast in bed 

call us cliché, but when done right, breakfast in bed truly is a luxury. our recipe? a homemade parfait made with organic greek yogurt, fresh fruit and house-made granola; paired with fresh squeezed orange juice, a spicy bloody mary and a sweet mini floral arrangement for that instagrammable moment. make her extra comfy with an eberjey PJ set that she can lounge around in all day long. wouldn't you? 

mother's day activity ideas


sweat sesh  

when busy juggling all the things, it's hard to squeeze in time for self-care. help her make it a priority by buying a bundle of her favorite fitness classes. our faves? soul cycle, pure barre and buddha shack yoga. or if she has exercise ADD, gift her a classpass membership to sample her favorite workouts whenever she has a minute. wrap it up with a homemade smoothie and some chic gear from her favorite athleisure brand.

mother's day activity ideas

 
lunch n' lounge 

sometimes mom just wants an afternoon in with the people she loves. serve it up with style with an over-the-top appetizer spread, crisp rosé and a seasonal floral arrangement. take care of the prep, design and hosting so that she can kick up her heels and soak it all in. 

cheese spread


shopping spree 

retail therapy is a real thing. instead of an impersonal gift card, take her out to her favorite stores and share in the experience. this mother's day, we're pairing up with antidote, a wynwood boutique, stocked with the most fashion-forward, eco-conscious brands. add an extra element of surprise with a house-of-lilac styled bouquet, which you can grab at the wynwood store on saturday may 12 and sunday may 13.
 
mother's day activity ideas
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still on the hunt for mother's day gift ideas? we're popping up at:

  • eberjey, saturday, may 12, from 10-5pm at the merrick park and south beach locations. 
  • antidote, saturday, may 12 and sunday, may 13: while you're shopping, pick up your  custom mother's day bouquet at their shop. order it online and pick it up at the store on saturday or sunday, may 12 or 13. 
 
or shop the entire house of lilac  mother's day gift + flower collection with the code - MOTHERSDAY10 for 10% off your purchase.
 

 

 

 

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recipe roundup no. 2

you guys, recipe roundup has been such a hit. thank you for thinking that i have everything together and am a master cook, florist, mother, and wife! (ha) i'm not. by any means. god, i barely have time to get a facial. i do have a lot of energy and am a sucker for structure and schedules so my meal planning has become nothing but habitual. just like exercise. and it helps me be a better mom and a better wife when i'm home with my babies and hubs. plus, it's become a fun sunday ritual for us. so yes, you can do it, too, if you really want to. and i'd love to help! one piece of advice is to ask family, friends, blogs! around you for recipes. i compiled a laundry load of them at my bridal shower (I asked people to bring a pre-filled recipe card for me) and they've been really helpful when i need to figure out what to cook. the sooner you build your arsenal of recipes, the easier it will be to meal plan, because you've got your go tos and you can just rotate them. 

to start off, here are some new cook books currently on the fernandez bookshelf (or in transit): alex guarneschelli, the home cook (love her breaded chicken with prosciutto, her roasted carrots, her super easy tomato pasta sauce), the haven's kitchen cooking school (this is actually a great book if you need to learn how to chop an onion and other novice stuff), what's gaby cooking, half baked harvest, the skinnytaste cookbook (still haven't delved into these books but i'll share favorite recipes as soon as i do). 

also, i'm going cuban on everyone here but i've got to share my nationality in the recipe department every once in a while. enjoy! 


beef chianti
via family friend elena

ingredients: 2 lbs stewing beef (beef chuck); 2 red onions, roughly chopped; 3 garlic cloves, chopped; 1/2 cup olive oil, 3 cups chianti wine, 2 tsp whole peppercorns, salt to taste

directions: in a pot, heat up olive oil. once oil is hot, add the beef, onions and garlic. stir frequently. add all the wine after the meat is browned. it should cover the beef (add more wine or even water if necessary). season with the salt and whole peppercorns. bring wine to a boil. then lower the heat and let simmer for 2 hours. 

picadillo (ground turkey or beef)
via family friend eveline

ingredients: 1 lb ground beef or turkey; 1 white onion, chopped; 5 garlic cloves, chopped; 1 green pepper, chopped; 1/2 tsp of cumin; 1/2 tsp of dried oregano; 2 bay leaves; green olives (chopped) and raisins (about a handful each); 4 oz. tomate puree; 4 oz red wine. 

directions: cook the meat in its own juices. once it's cooked, remove it from it's juices, clean the pan, and set aside the meat. then add a little bit of olive oil to the pan and cook the onion, garlic and green pepper for about 2 minutes. add the meat into the pot, then add the remainder of the ingredients (wine, tomato puree, cumin, oregano, bay leaves, green olives and raisins). cook at low heat for about 20 minutes and voila. serve with a side of white rice. 

carne con papas
via the woman and the cuban cook legend, nitza villapol, cocina criolla (which is currently worth $150 on ebay so basically this recipe is priceless)

ingredients: 2 lbs top round beef; 1/2 cup olive oil; 1 tbsp salt; 1 tsp ac'cent (vintage style); 1 tsp paprika; 1/2 tsp pepper; 1 bay leaf; 1 onion, chopped; three garlic cloves, chopped, 1 green pepper, chopped; 1 can of tomato puree; 1 cup white wine; 1 cup of water; 2 lbs of idaho potatoes; 1 cup of alcaparrado 

directions: cut the meat in small squares. heat the olive oil in a pan and cook the meat in the olive oil. once it's browned, add the salt, acc'cent, paprika, bay leaf, chopped onions, chopped garlic, and the chopped green pepper. cook for about 3 minutes and add the tomato puree, the wine and the water. cook for about 20 minutes under medium heat until the meat cooks through. add the chopped potatoes (small squares) and the alcaparrado. cook in medium/low heat until the potatoes are cooked through, about 45 minutes. serve with a side of white rice and enjoy!

fernandez pancakes
this is passed down from my husband's grandmother - the woman is so kitchen talented she makes mantecado ice cream from scratch. i like to say my husband gets his cooking genes from her (because let's be honest, i'm really just the director in this cooking show)
wet ingredients: 1 egg; .5 tsp vanilla extract (you can use 1/4 tsp if you prefer less sweet pancakes); 1.5 cups milk; 3 tsp melted better
dry ingredients: 1.5 cups of all purpose flour; 3 tsp baking powder; .5 tsp of salt; 4 tablespoons of white sugar
directions: combine wet and dry ingredients in a bowl, whisk until combined, then cook on a griddle. as they come off the griddle, while still hot, spread a little butter on each pancake and serve with maple syrup. 

what's gaby cooking suggestions
fish tacos, three meat lasagna (insane and the only thing we do differently - in lieu of ground meat, i would suggest buying your meat whole and chopping it up in your food processor - you'll thank me later)

TODDLER RECIPES

kale + mango + strawberry smoothie
1 cup almond milk; 1/2 cup kale; 1/2 cup of frozen strawberries; 1/2 cup frozen mango; one small banana; 1/4 tsp maqui powder; 1/4 tsp ground flaxseed; 1/2 tsp goji berries; 1 tsp honey. blend and serve! 

spinach + strawberry smoothie
1 cup almond milk; 1/2 cup spinach; 3/4 cup of frozen strawberries; 1/2 date; one small banana; 1/4 tsp maqui powder; 1/4 tsp ground flaxseed; 1/2 tsp goji berries; 1 tsp honey. blend and serve! 

suped up mac and cheese
this and trader joe's frozen pizza are my go tos when there's nothing left to eat (or when my meal plan is boring me - yes it happens!). 

ingredients: box of annie's mac and cheese; 2 tsp olive oil; 1/4 cup grated white cheddar; 1 tbsp marscapone cheese; about 1/4 of a packet of diced pancetta; cracked pepper to taste

directions: cook the pasta per the box directions. once it's al dente, drain the pasta in a colander. add the olive oil to the same pot you cooked the pasta in and cook the pancetta for about a minute max (you're just heating up the pancetta - it's already cooked). then add the pasta back into the pancetta/oilve oil mixture and stir. add the ingredients per the box instructions (i add all of it- butter, milk, and cheese mixture), the grated cheddar, and the marscapone. season with cracked pepper and enjoy! veggie hack: i like to roast whole carrots in the oven with olive oil and pepper, cut them up and mix them in with the mac and cheese (you could even mash them for picky eaters). carrots are sweet and roasted carrots are really soft so it mixes well with the pasta ingredients. these carrots are a great meal planning side dish so you can refrigerate the extra carrots for another meal or day. alex guarnaschelli's cook book (mentioned above) has a really amazing roasted carrots recipe i'd recommend but simple olive oil and basic seasoning will do.  

i add half an older banana to make it sweeter. 

 

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the 2018 administrative professionals' day gift guide

if you're a #bossbabe, #bossman or just a boss, you probably have a right-hand person who helps you get it done on the daily. april 25 is administrative professionals' day and the perfect time to send a little extra love. we've channeled our gifting skills to bring you this admin day gift guide with some of our favorite ways to say "love you, mean it!" 

2018 admin day gift guide

1. productivity planners 

emily ley lives that simplified life and makes the most comprehensive planner in the game. it's currently sold out (it's that good), but trust us when we say it is worth the wait. just sign up for the waitlist or buy a gift card so your employee can choose his/her own.  

if patience isn't the thing, try the goals inspirational journal with fun exercises, prompts and planners to create that #goals life. 

2. the cutest way to say "relax"

help your ride or die soak the stress away with our relax box, stuffed with bath-time goodies like a clarifying tea tree + mint body bar, an ultra-hydrating organic coconut milk soak and a fragrant long-burning soy candle that's soy relaxing. 

3. the assistant's assistant 

the google assistant can take care of those menial tasks (like managing schedules, doing research and setting up the office playlist) so your team member can focus on meaningful work and connection.  

4. the gift box for when thank you isn't enough 

this little number is stuffed with small-batch snacking favorites like sweet n’ salty popcorn, crispy orange peels, citrus-infused chocolate, smoked pork sticks and the best almonds you’ve ever tasted. "thank you oh so much" never tasted oh so good. 

5. work/life hacks 

the secret's out. we love molly erman's book, "work life: a survival guide to the modern office." (you might remember it from our work/life bundle). from maximizing productivity to navigating office dating and communal kitchens, this lil manual is everything!

on that same tip, kathryn minshew + alexandra cavoulacos' "the new rules of work: the modern playbook for navigating your career" outlines what it means to work in today's tech universe.   

6. divine guidance 

the hoodwitch offers everyday magic for the modern mystic. her colorful serpentfire tarot deck rekindles the relationship to the divine and helps handle all the work things with faith, grace and fun.  

7.  hydration heroes

the chicest way to never have to ask "is that my water?" again, s'well is the only hydration accessory that looks great and does good. also the new spring floral collection is giving us all kinds of flowery feels. 

8. symphony of stems 

the perfect size for a console, accent or office table, our symphony of stems features our bouquet of the day flowers and other seasonal florals. styled in a vase and colored to impress, you can't go wrong with this arrangement. 

9. tea for three 

this tea-themed seed starter set is featured in our upcoming spring/summer collection  and includes three thoughtfully curated seed kits to grow the perfect kind of herbal refreshments. 

 

for more admin day gift inspiration, visit our "celebrate someone" and enjoy 20% off with the code CELEBRATE through april 30.

 

 

 

 

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everyday ethos // maria cristina lloveras

the 'everyday ethos' blog series is focused on setting a foundation for a belief system where we can not only give our suggestions and advice, but share the input of some of our favorite people, with the intention to make a difference.

this month... maria cristina lloveras from mcl coordination 

everyday ethos // maria cristina lloveras

 

food

I was definitely brought up to appreciate the social significance of creating and consuming food together. My family has always gathered primarily in the kitchen and I try to continue that tradition in my own small family. When I’m cooking I try avoid processed foods. To facilitate this without going crazy during the week, I utilize my freezer as a tool. When I first started cooking for the freezer in college, I would make large batches of dishes that freeze well but I found that I wasn’t too excited to eat that third frozen lasagna/ chili/ stew of the month and they ended up whithering away to freezerburn. Now I’ll make a big batch with the aim to freeze “parts” of meals; browned ground beef, fresh chicken broth, tomato sauce before adding herbs. These components can take many different directions with little effort and keep our weeknight menus easy and varied. It’s taken me years to get good at this and sometimes we have weeks where the stove doesn’t get turned on at all, but we are always happier when it does.

 

work 

Last year I left a wonderful and wonderfully stable job to follow my passion and open my own small business. I would be lying if I did not say many days and nights are spent in mild panic. Even with the fears and tough moments that came with my first year of business, I have never regretted my leap. This is my dream job. My gratefulness abounds and I love sitting in that feeling of deep thanks. Doing something you love is a luxury and I am very aware of that. I try to express that feeling in my work and the energy I give my awesome clients.

 

relationships

People are mostly good most of the time. I try to embrace people where they are, give them lots of slack/grace, and talk to a lot of strangers. So far it has suited me pretty well. My husband and I are going on ten years together which is crazy to think about. I try to feed that relationship. Someone once told me that a spirit of service and generosity pays dividends. I have learned that to be universally true.

 

joy

We have it so good. My sister and my husband are both incredible at highlighting life’s small joys and I have tried to become more like them in that way. Life’s joys aren’t always vacations, adventures, and luxury. Appreciating your air conditioning, your nourishing lunch, your comfy pillows, that’s the good stuff.

 

mcl coordination is a full-service wedding and event planning company organizing beautiful and personalized events in miami, florida. 

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april currently

we're knee deep in mercury retrograde people. read here on how to survive it and read below on what's going on in the trenches this month. 

melanie is currently...

melanie's current state: transformation. in a total state of new beginnings: new gift/flower collection (shooting, tomorrow, april 11!), new lease on our current shop space conditioned on knocking down a wall and renovations this summer, and new lease on life. i took a faith plunge about two months ago and am in the process of strengthening my faith tools. faith in my calling, faith in god's plan for me, faith in my business, my employees (delegating!), my family, my abilities as a mother and wife, my dreams. mentally jumping off cliffs constantly (you should try it. it's thrilling.). i've also been exploring the power of NO. i've decided to engage and attract things into my life that i want to work on and bring me joy and that work with the schedule i want to have with my family. if something sounds like i don't want to take it on, i'm not taking it on. if something takes me away from my kids too much, i'm not taking it on. i'm building my success on this premise and have said no to a few projects already and the saying no is giving me life. 

obsessing over

 my bahamas trip in july! harbour island - this is where i go in my meditations. alex and i have been going together for 10 years and i can't wait to take margot and alexander together (alexander went when he was around 9 months old and margot in utero).  it's also, hands down, the most beautiful beach i've ever been to. 

 sencha green tea. i gave up coffee three months ago and this, along with chai tea, is my new go-to. 

 palm beach and daniel boulud's restaurant, cafe boulud (EVERYTHING). 

 our new gift and flower collection, including our mother's day gifts, launching next month! we're featuring the best new products, including this seed starter kit, this baby balm, these baby bows, this chocolate, this popcorn, and these chickpeas, to name a few. 

 watching

  real housewives of new york city

 southern charm! it's back in all it's southern glory. 

 my next guest needs no introduction with david letterman (jay z special is amazing)

 wanting

 new iphone. you guys, my battery goes from 70% to 1% in literally ten minutes. i'm traveling with a charger wherever i go and my screen is cracked. it's time. but i'm so stubborn i'm dragging this one out until i can't anymore. 

 a complete office reno. knock down walls, new tables, shelving, organizational tools, a delivery truck, a new flower cooler. 

listening to

• right now every podcast with lacy phillips from free and native. her take on manifesting is so, so interesting and it's helped me add a few notches to my manifesting belt.  

 other favorite podcasts: bitch sesh, that's so retrograde, how i built this, almost thirty, the lively show, the life coach school

 music: maluma and kygo (are you laughing because you should be). 

eating

 catch my recipe roundup no. 1 on the blog. also eating other amazing recipes, including a homemade pesto with cashews and chianti beef (stay tuned for roundup no. 2). my meal planning is going stupendous. we're basically sitting pretty around 3-4 homecooked meals per week (all different proteins included), two-three of which are cooked on sunday, and eating out on the weekends. we've saved a lot of money doing this and it's truly becoming second nature for us. 

 trader jos. i have saved 30% of my grocery budget every week going to trader jos. i don't think i spend more than $100 when i go and there's so much i'm better off purchasing there than at whole foods (fruits and veggies, milk, bread, fruit bars, frozen pizza, WINE, ground turkey and organic chicken). 

reading

 omg. everything as per usual. i attempt to read and then a few chapters in, i start watching bravo and there's that. 

working on

 having more faith in myself, delegating to my employees, and relinquishing control. 

cristie is currently...

cristie's current state: knee deep in mercury retrograde. i made a promise to myself another problem with my car and i was selling it... and the time has come loud and clear! everything is so complicated like car titles and repairs. i am taking that car (who i have named Oliver) to carmax and letting it go! also, i just found i have termites. good news, i have accepted, solved and moved on! also this retrograde ends april 15 (editors note today is april 4) i honestly i have no knowledge on what exactly mercury retrograde is but i am totally holding it responsible it for my current state.

obsessing over

 planning upcoming travel. i impulsively signed up for this website scotts cheap flights. he essentially is searching for travel deals all day. my plan is to block a week in may and/or september/october and see what deals i am presented with! you can score flights to europe for under $400 and i am all about that life!! curious to see where this might lead me, travel wise, which is also fun. 

• my new pants from madewell - yes, i got them in both a cargo green & jean. when i went to japan, all the girls were rocking this style. in an effort to be a japanese woman of style, i got them and i love them. you know who hates them, my husband mike, but what does he know about life!

watching

 wild wild country - you need to carve out 6 hours to watch this because wants you begin you won't want to stop. netflix documentary on the rajneeshee cult movement that built a community in oregon in the 1980s. sheela is my favorite character of 2018 and i respect her #metoo vibes as a female cult leader even though i am pretty sure she has no soul.

 one strange rock - a series on the discovery channel about how life survives and thrives on earth told from the perspective of people who have been outside of earth - astronauts. how interconnected the earth is and how the planet itself is a living breathing organism that functions beyond humankind is mind blowing. i love the earth and mother nature!

 wanting

 someone to buy my car from me for 10000000000$. or just a fair price. oliver deserves a loving home and is worth more than what i was offered. 

 new sunglasses. i wish i could rock the circle style that is all the rage now but my head is just too large (big brain). 

listening to

• podcasts all day long. also, i am such a victim of podcast ads. i really believe it is the most effective marketing technique. i love my third love bra, my lola subscription and my next step is the quip

eating

 i have been going to the grocery store and cooking seldomly! but this week, i have been surviving on easter party (at my moms house) leftovers. again, i wrote this part on april 4. i am not a savage who has been eating leftovers a month later. 

reading

 okay so i have been really been slacking on this end. but i am happy to report i have made progress! no, i have not read a book. i fell victim for another ad (i am the ultimate consumer) and signed up to receive the (failing) new york times sunday edition delivered to my home sunday morning. i love spending my weekend morning reading the paper like i live in a time far far away (aka 2000) when people got there news from print. also, the paper has great articles, opinions and travel inspiration. 

working on

 selling my car because by the time i finished writing this blog post, it is april 10 and i already went to carmax, which was a pretty disappointing experience. also i am embarrassed to go back because i told them "i will never sell my car for this price!" and left in a dramatic fashion. so now i am determined to get more for my car by selling it on ebay and craigslist. just a matter of putting plan into action right now. 

 having patience during this mercury retrograde and just taking it day by day because life is good. 

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spring holiday hosting and gift guide

easter gift basket

spring has definitely sprung, and that means there are lots of reasons to celebrate. here at the shop, we're busy prepping for passover and easter festivities, so we're sharing our favorite tips to keep your spring holiday hosting game strong. 

passover seder hosting 101 
there's the dinner, the décor, the rituals, and the rules (so many rules), but breaking it down to a few simple steps is the best way to tackle your seder

  • the table - set one long table with your favorite dishware. if you don't have tabletop décor handy, just rent it. place a haggadah at every seat and dress it up with a sweet garnish like fresh parsley or a personalized place card. add cute cushions to the back of each chair for a pop of color that is recline-ready! complete your tablescape with under-stated florals that won't distract from the main event - the seder plate. 

  • the seder plate - the seder plate is the visual representation of the story of passover and centerpiece of the event. the main components include: one hard boiled egg, a few stems of parsley, one broiled shank bone (which you can buy or request at the meat counter in the grocery store), and small portions of charoset and horseradish. 
  • the food - serve bite-sized matzo appetizers and crackers with traditional dips like eggplant and chopped liver. display a few matzo baskets on the table so guests can help themselves during the meal. for a sweet twist, prepare matzo toffee and serve with dessert or wrap up for a fun takeaway. if you have little ones, make sure to save a few pieces for the afikoman. other favorite meal items include roasted chicken, beef brisket, peas and mushrooms or string beans with almonds, but the show-stopper is always the matzo ball soup. every good jewish girl thinks her mom's recipe is the best, but my mom's actually is the best, so i'll share it with you. (pro tip: the flavor comes from the turnips!)
 nana ellen's matzo ball soup
ingredients: 1 small chicken (about 3-4 lbs) cut into pieces (discard giblets), 2 large onions, 3-4 celery stalks with leaves, 6-8 small–medium turnips, 1 bunch of curly parsley, 1 bunch of dill, 1 pkg mini carrots, kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. 
 
place chicken parts and all vegetables in large stock pot. cover with water to about 2 inches from the top of pot. season liberally with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. cover the pot and bring to a boil. reduce heat to simmer and uncover. simmer for about 2 hours until the vegetables are soft and the chicken falls off the bone.

remove from heat, uncover the pot and let the soup cool. with a large slotted spoon, remove the chicken pieces and set aside in a large bowl. discard the bones and other inedible bits from the soup. strain, remove, and discard all vegetables except carrots. strain and remove carrots and then set aside. strain the soup broth through a small mesh sieve or colander to remove stray vegetable/chicken bits. take about half of the chicken parts and cut into bite size pieces, making sure they are free of all bones. return bite sized pieces to the strained soup. (save the rest of chicken parts for another dish. the cooked chicken makes a delicious chicken salad!) return carrots to strained soup.

 either serve soup with matzo balls (see instructions below) or store in plastic containers in the fridge (if soup is refrigerated, fat will rise to the top of the container so skim and remove the fat before heating and eating.)

easy matzo balls
you can make these from scratch or buy packaged matzo ball mix (which is just as good!). if using a mix, you will need eggs and canola oil. follow package directions to combine. refrigerate mixture for about ½ to 1 hour. roll into small balls (about the size of a walnut) and cook them in chicken broth. remove with a slotted spoon and discard broth. either serve immediately with chicken soup or refrigerate for later

easter hosting 101
easter's a day for pastels, sweets and fun, so making this holiday light and easy is key.
  • the décor - call us predictable, but flowers are a simple way to add pops of pastel to your table. bud vases are great for a casual cocktail party, while a seasonal arrangement complements the heck out of a brunch table. when it comes to floral selection, tulips are classic, but we're game for anything vibrant and seasonal. 
  • the food - whether it's a colorful cheese board, a brunch spread or juicy honey-baked ham, savory flavors are just the sideshow when it comes to easter fare. anything chocolate or sugary usually headlines the menu. but the above items are some of our favorite easter flavors and melanie's mom makes the meanest ham in town. (check it out below!)

honey-baked ham

buy a ham at your local grocery store (a whole ham, not pre sliced). open holes in the ham. cover with a bottle of maple syrup (you could also use guava or mango jam). spread dark brown sugar all over the ham and insert cinnamon sticks throughout. insert into a plastic cooking bag and leave it in the fridge overnight. on easter morning, put in the oven at 400 degrees for an hour and fifteen minutes. the secret is in the overnight marinating!
  • the fun - easter egg hunts are always hits with the little guys, but cristie's mom ups the ante for the older ones with money-filled eggs (genius!). arts and crafts projects like egg dyeing, coloring and cupcake decorating are also lovely kid-friendly activities. 
  • the gifts -  the perfect easter gift can truly make the party and we've got loads of 'em. if it's sweet, furry, floral or adorable, chances are he/she is taking it home with a smile. outsource your easter basket for babies, toddlers, kids, tweens or hostesses with our special edition easter collection. 

happy passover/easter, everyone! 


use the code EASTER10 for 10% off the entire easter collection. hand deliveries and shop pickups are available from march 26 through march 31.

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march currently

omg it's march. we're officially almost a quarter done with the year, which is insane to say. i'm writing this on a monday, on our shop couch, which is my day for "admin" tasks like writing for the blog, responding to proposals, writing emails, you name it, it gets done (or I at least attempt to get it all done). our valentine's day was A-FRIGGIN-MAZING - thank you to everyone that supported us again. we're gearing up for mother's day and our new gift collection and floral menu (believe it or not) and styling florals and gifts, booking events, and coming up with new engaging ways to grow our brand. we're been taking on a new theme at the shop every month and this month's theme is happiness. we're promoting the theme with our first floral workshop this month on the 22nd (purchase your tickets here!), and we'll be sharing our happiness tips in the days leading up to the workshop.


other news to share: 1) we're running a subscription trial for anyone wanting to try subscriptions! how it works, we send you one week free, and then exactly one week after your delivery, sign you up for a semi-monthly subscription. if you're not happy within a week after your first free delivery, you can cancel and you won't be bound by anything at all. if you're interested in signing up, we'll be taking a few guinea pigs a month - email dara@houseoflilac.com and we'll include your name in the queue; 2) we'll be a hosting a mother's day floral styling + hosting workshop in may in honor of the holiday. we'll announce the date soon once we have more details!

obsessing over

  • shinola detroit journals
  • whip and dip ice cream (STILL obsessing over this, depressingly enough)
  • my new short hair that is extremely easy to style and maintain - perfect for my extreme multitasking lifestyle
  • coco, the disney movie. you guys, it's adorable. and i cry, every time. and my kids love it. win, win. 
  • follow the every girl? if you don't, you should. they're launching a new sister site titled, the every mom
  • a little thing called faith. i've rediscovered it recently and it's a real thing you guys. it's a magical thing. 

thinking about

  •  how to read more and not fall asleep in two seconds. i want to continue to educate myself by reading more. so i'm thinking of scheduling reading certain blogs on monday night? hey mama, the every girl, mind body green, the glitter guide, any other suggestions? i'd love them and i'll totally feature your recommendations here next month (and incorporate them into my routine). 

watching

  • HGTV - restored by the fords, home town, fixer upper, and the occasional house hunters beach house, i.e., my life is so. sad. 
  • VANDERPUMP RULES. i mean, this is everything. and if you don't watch it, you should. 
  • coco

wanting

  • a new shop. like store front shop, come on in and buy/order flowers, buy holistic and /or organic food + body products, housewares, PLANTS, flowers, order flowers for your home, small events, attend workshops. that's like a dream of mine. and it's happening within the next two years. stay tuned. 

listening to

  • abraham hicks. always. 
  • podcasts - how i built this, the longest shortest time, that's so retrograde, bitch sesh, second life. 
  • whatever cristie plays on spotify at the shop (it's currently justin timberlake). 

eating

  • meal planning is working well, all. i cook sunday for sunday, monday and tuesday (sunday and monday is typically the same meal) and then wednesday + thursday are easier meals - i.e., shrimp with rice, frozen pizza (yes, totally), we also tried homemade pizza last week and that worked well. you can buy the already cooked dough at whole foods and you just add cheese and whatever other toppings your family loves. stick it in the oven and voila. for those that have requested certain recipes i'm happy to report that you can now find this week's recipes here, as well as their sources. i LOVE new cookbooks and if anyone would be willing to share their favorites, i'd be happy to cook them and feature them! 
  • we also went to benihana this weekend with both our kids. and i'd like to add that it was a terrible idea. my kids were not amused by any fire + smokeshow of any sort and wanted to walk around the entire restaurant. obviously there's an age when benihana is a good idea, and 2 and under is not the age range. just food for thought.
  • but restaurants that have worked for us: whisk, bricktops, basically anywhere with bread, chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, and LTE reception so they can watch trolls on netflix (i'm sorry, but this is the only way i can enjoy a glass of wine - and i deserve it). 

reading

  • these books are STILL on my nightstand - how to parent a genius, crushing it by gary vaynerchuk, the life changing magic of tidying up (yes, still reading this), the journey of souls, helping your child with extreme picky eating, a simplified life. i still don't know how to parent a genius, how to crush it, what the life changing magic of tidying up is (although it would be helpful to know), what the journey of souls is pre death, how to help my child with extreme picky eating, although i think i've gotten better at simplifying my life (even though i haven't read through it all). but i'm going to get through these, i swear. i did add sophie kinsella's book my not so perfect life via my kindle, and yes, i'm thinking i might just block out "reading nights." does anyone do this? or just save them for the vacation ill be taking this summer. (the latter might be the best option). any other great novels that aren't depressing or thrillers?

working on

  • letting go and having faith! every day. 
  • myself. always. spiritually, emotionally, physically. loving myself more and knowing my self-worth ALWAYS.

cristie is currently...

cristie's current state: post wilderness vibes. just came back from a camping trip to rock river springs and it was so much fun. everyone should take a camping trip once a year. it’s a great reminder to step away from the technology and enjoy the outdoors.

obsessing over

coconut grove - my neighborhood is in full bloom. pretty sure this ‘cold’ish weather of January brought out all the orchid flowers and south grove is really showing off.

also, this tree is having a moment, it is called Starburst or shooting star clerodendrum. now that you know what it is, you are going to see it everywhere.

black panther - loved the movie, the soundtrack and michael b jordan (BABE!).

 

watching

queer eye - best show ever! it’s a literal definition of a smile on TV. your heart will be warmed for months after seeing this show. i wish I could binge it all over again! also, i am in love with antoni. 

 wanting

new camp gear because my aforementioned camping trip made me want to buy every gizmo and gadget orvis has to offer!

to get another trip in the books. need to get on this! want to take quick trips to chicago and portland in the summer and maybe spain, argentina, or jamaica in the autumn time.

listening to

i am all about a long form interview and I am loving actor dax shepherd’s new podcast ‘armchair expert’. he interviews his celebrity friends for over an hour and all of the episodes I have heard so far are very engaging + interesting. he seems like a naturally curious person which makes him a great interviewer.

justin timberlake ‘man of the woods’ album. because as of last weekend, I feel like a woman of the woods. also Justin Timberlake led me to discover chris stapleton (yeah, I know he has been famous for forever) and I dig him! country (ish) music is making a comeback into my life!

eating

i have no idea what I have been eating LOL nothing memorable. going to the grocery today to get myself back into a routine.

reading

again, nothing!!!!!!!!!!! NEED TO GET THIS PART OF MY LIFE IN ORDER. have I forgotten how to read? it used to be my favorite thing. can someone recommend me a good YA novel (my genre of choice because I am a mature 31 year old woman!!!).

working on

being happy and grateful every day!

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recipe roundup no. 1

pc: Danielle Margherite

if you follow us on instastories you know that I (melanie) am an avid meal planner. i didn't always like cooking. i actually hated it. primarily because i didn't know how to do it, i'll be honest. my husband is a pretty amazing cook (some recipes below are actually his) and throughout our relationship has opened my eyes to loving food, restaurants, spices, experimenting, the whole food shebang. it's safe to say food is what we "share most in common" and feeding our family well and exposing our kids to different foods is part of our family mission statement (the one in my head not on paper). and i'd like to report that 50% of my children eat everything i feed them so i'm halfway there and have faith that if they constantly try new things, they'll both end up loving food as much as we do. not so bad of a thing, right? the recipes below are family favorites and the cookbooks cited are more than recommended. they're go to's. i'll be rounding up our favorite recipes every so often so check back in to see what we're into. 

bolognese

my husband, alex's, recipe

2 pounds pasta cooked in salted water before serving.

ingredients:  
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. ground pork
1 lb. ground veal
1 cup red wine
1 cup beef stock (or chicken stock)
½ cup heavy whipping cream
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
½ table spoon oregano
Salt + pepper to taste
1 cup shredded Pecorino Romano

 

  1. on medium-high heat, sauté onion for 8 mins or until translucent
  2. add celery and carrot, sauté for 4 mins
  3. add garlic, sauté for 1 min
  4. add ground meat and cook until not pink
  5. add red wine and deglaze the pot. Let reduce by half.
  6. add beef stock. Let reduce by half.
  7. add heavy whipping cream, can crushed tomatoes. Incorporate the ingredients well.
  8. add oregano, salt + pepper (to taste).
  9. lower heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 – 45 mins (the longer, the thicker the sauce).
  10. ½ cup of the Pecorino Romano directly into the sauce before you serve. The other ½ cup Pecorino Romano on top of the pasta.
turkey or ground beef meatloaf
recipe courtesy jessy portela from my bridal shower

ingredients:  
1.5 lbs ground beef or turkey
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 medium yellow onion
1/2 green bell pepper
1 cup grated cheese (parmesan preferably)
1 egg beaten
1/3 cup milk 

topping: 1/4 cup ketchup, 1/4 cup bbq sauce (sweet baby ray's is great), 1 tbs cider vinegar, 1/4 tsp worcestershire sauce, 2 tbs brown sugar 

  1. preheat over to 350 degrees
  2. combine all meatloaf ingredients in a bowl
  3. place mixture in a baking pan and form a loaf
  4. make an indentation along the top center of the loaf
  5. whisk together all of the topping ingredients 
  6. cover meatloaf completely with the topping
  7. bake uncovered for 1 hour to 85 minutes
chicken vaca frita
*alex's recipe

ingredients:  
2 lbs chicken breast
1 yellow onion cut in quarters
1 yellow onion sliced thinly
1 celery stick, coarsely chopped
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
3 bay leaves
2 tbsp onion powder
2 tbsp garlic powder
kosher salt
ground pepper
olive oil
1 lemon
1 lime
  1. bring water and chicken stock to a boil
  2. add onion powder, garlic powder, celery, and onion quarters to the boiling liquid
  3. boil chicken for 30-45 minutes until chicken can be pulled apart with fork
  4. remove chicken from water and let cool
  5. shred chicken with forks and place in separate bowl
  6. take some of the leftover boiled stock and water liquid and, along with juice of lemon + lime, pour into shredded chicken bowl
  7. let chicken marinate in this liquid for 1-2 hours
  8. once chicken is marinated, add 2 tsps of olive oil to a cast iron skillet or dutch oven and saute the sliced onion at medium heat
  9. meanwhile, drain the liquid from the chicken
  10. add two more tbsps of olive oil to the skillet or dutch oven and mix in the marinated chicken shreds
  11. cook together with the onions for about 10-20 minutes at medium-high heat, until chicken is moderately crispy
  12. season with salt + pepper to taste
other favorite recipes
my favorite turkey meatballs
my favorite lasagna

current favorite cookbooks/blogs:
 
Dining in, Alison Roman
love her roasted tomato sauce, crispy chickpeas with lamb, soy-brined halibut, crispy chicken legs with rosemary, thyme and sour cream, slow roasted pork shoulder, honey-yogurt pound cake with blueberries, to name a few
The Seasoned Life, Ayesha Curry
love her pb&j cereal french toast, challah french toast, pancrepes with raspberry, oven roasted chicken tenders, soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies (to die for), orange-thyme chicken thighs, mirin and soy steak with sushi rice, shrimp and grits, to name a few
love her chicken parmesan meatballs but seriously, all her stuff is amazing - we check in every week to see what's on her weekly meal plan blog post (you can get great ideas). 
check out their meal prep archive

 

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20 ways to happiness

we're always game for a theme and as we gear up for the international day of happiness, this month's subject is...you guessed it. if you're busy adulting, happiness might feel like an afterthought, but we're not about that life. we think it's a practice, a choice and a lifestyle that's accessible to everyone so here are twenty tried and true methods to stay out of the blue. 

1. quiet the mind

meditating is so #ontrend right now, but for good reason. with work, life and our constant connection to technology, our synapses are on fire. how can we even know what we're feeling when we're continuously overstimulated? even one minute per day can shift your mood. if you're new to mindfulness, user-friendly apps like headspace and insight timer break down the practice, step-by-step. 

2. smile. it's contagious.  

it might sound obvious, but something happens to your brain when the corners of your mouth turn up. if you have to fake it at first, do it and eventually, you'll be flashing those pearly whites with gusto. it's science. google it. practice around your house or when talking to strangers. you can even incorporate smiling exercises into your meditation practice.  

3. move around

chalk it up to the endorphins, but it's hard to not feel good after sweating it out for an hour. our current workout of choice? buddha shack yoga. their buddha burn class is the perfect combination of cardio, strength training, flow and hip hop (all things that make us really freaking happy). 

4. let it out

who knew journaling would be a thing past high school? but we're not complaining. use it for catharsis or the first stop to your dreams. if you write it, it will come (or at least bring you one step closer). check out the law of attraction planner, a journal/planner combo, chock full of manifesting mojo that's easy to understand and practice.

5. spoil yourself

whether it's a mani/pedi, luxurious bath or walk outside, self-care comes in many ways. whatever you need to do to relax and re-set, do it because WTF not?

6. lean into your love language 

if physical touch is your thing, get to cuddling. if time spent fills you up, pencil in some QT with your loved ones. it's your thing. do what you gotta do. 

7. try some stuff 

learn mandarin, go skydiving or go to a class that sparks your creativity. if you're not growing, you're stagnant and that's just not cute.  

8. love on a furry friend

if you're not pet-friendly, feel free to fast-forward, but we're totally pup-obsessed. an hour at the dog park or cuddle sesh with man's best friend is a surefire way to send away the sunday scaries and remind you how beautifully simple life can be. 

9. learn some things

podcasts are our favorite methods to stay woke. we listen while we work, drive and prep. our faves (include, but are not limited to): that's so retrograde, how i built this and this american life. now get after it. 

10. experience nature

TFW when you listen to the crash of the ocean or feel the warmth of the sun. it's easy to forget that the world we live in is nothing short of amazing, so get out there and be all up in it.   

11. talk to strangers

forget what your mother told you. making eye contact and starting a conversation with someone you don't know breaks up the routine of everyday life and reminds us that we're all connected.   

12. give back

the world might seem like a hot mess right now and you might be unsure of where to focus your energy so start small. give a sensible donation to an organization you can get behind or help an elderly person with his/her groceries. one act of kindness is enough to cultivate inner and outer joy. 

13. detach 

attachment to outcomes is the quickest way to lower your energy. it's life. stop trying to control it. focus on the experience of what you want to achieve rather than the result. you either win or you learn so what are you so scared of? 

14. be a resource

dying over the nextflix special you binged on over the weekend? still dreaming about the meal you whipped up last night? share it. share all of it! when you add value to others, you see value in yourself so text that recco to anyone who will be into it. our recco? netflix's new and improved queer eye! you need this in your life. you can thank us later. 

15. be present

instead of laboring over what happened yesterday or stressing about the future, focus on what's right in front of you. look out your car window, listen deeply to those speaking and pay attention to your surroundings. life isn't meant to be lived inside your head. 

16. show love

thinking about someone? let her know. a hand-written note or personalized gift spreads that warm, fuzzy feeling.

17. be social 

pencil in a girls night whenever you have a minute. whether it's a book club, wine and cheese or a craft session, sometimes a concentrated dose of unconditional love is all you need to raise your vibes.

18. compliment someone 

feeling something about someone? tell them! even if it's something random like the way they smile. they'll appreciate the gesture.

19.  elevate your mood

our mind/body connection is legit. serve up a smoothie with add-ins like maca, cacao and chia seeds that act as natural mood stabilizers. 

20. believe 

life isn't a one-woman job. call on the universe, energy, God or whomever you speak to when you lie in bed at night for a little extra TLC.

have all the feels? spread the love with our gift happy collection. use the code GIFTHAPPY for 20% off until march 20th. 

 

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