John’s 30th Birthday

30th birthday presents

This year, on Friday the 13th, the hubs turned 30. We’re also nearing on the 6th anniversary of our first date, which is absolutely crazy to me. I cannot believe we have been together so long, with our relationship now spanning from our early 20’s and going into our 30’s. For the past several weeks, I have been searching for the perfect birthday surprise for him. I mean, you only turn 30 once! I wanted it to be the most special birthday yet. My first thought was that we should go on a trip together (mostly because that’s what I would want to do for a big birthday). I looked at going to Iceland, Hawaii, Peru, and a lot of other places, but John said that a trip just didn’t seem right. He wanted to go on a big trip at a later date, and it was too stressful to plan a vacation around the time he is applying for fellowships (more on that later!).

Then I stumbled across a few posts about getting “30 birthday presents for 30 years”, an idea that I fell in love with. John keeps telling me that I “Leslie Knope” people. If you have ever seen Parks and Recreation, you know that Leslie Knope goes above and beyond to find or create incredibly thoughtful gifts for people, making it impossible to match or surpass her level of awesomeness. He probably has a point. 30 presents seemed like a lot of presents at first, but many of them were small and under $5. A lot of them were edible, consisting of John’s favorite foods and treats. It just made me happy that he had a big overwhelming pile of 30 presents to open on his big day, and he seemed excited. John likes to live life very simply – he doesn’t want or need flashy or expensive things. He only likes to have the necessities, and it’s one of my favorite things about him. But this time, I wanted to make sure he was the center of attention, and thought he deserved to be spoiled a little bit. Here’s a list of some of the things he got to unwrap:

  1. Birthday card
  2. Gum
  3. Cheez-Its
  4. Cereal
  5. Gummy worms
  6. Gatorade
  7. A pillow with a pug’s face (which was more a present for me)
  8. I got a packet of 6 white V-neck shirts and wrapped them in 6 individual boxes
  9. Basic socks
  10. Various patterned socks (including Zelda socks)
  11. Underwear
  12. Swim trunks
  13. Shoe polish
  14. Car cleaning wipes
  15. Pants
  16. Button down shirt
  17. Coupon for a back rub
  18. Nintendo Switch Donkey Kong game
  19. Nintendo Switch controller
  20. USA Men’s soccer jersey with his name on it
  21. Jord watch

30th birthday presents for himusa mens soccer jersey

I asked him which present was his favorite and he said he had a hard time deciding between the Jord watch and the soccer jersey, but the watch wins. I picked out the dark sandalwood and emerald of the “Frankie” series, and it is even more gorgeous in person! I want to steal it for myself! It’s also such a special parallel because his wedding ring is wooden as well. He would have been happy getting just the watch for his birthday, but I was excited to give him 29 other surprises as well. He cannot wait to wear it!

I would highly recommend Jord if you are looking for a gift for a special someone. Click on the link below to enter a drawing to win $100 towards your very own Jord watch – winner gets $100 plus free shipping and free sizing! Or you can enter coupon code lifeoffite to receive $25 off your first order!

jord watch 30th birthday present for husband wood watch



How to stay positive when the world sucks

I didn’t set out to write this blog post this evening but something was just calling me to the computer. I sit in my beautiful living room, fireplace on, cookies in the oven. I think about how good life is right now. I generally try to have a positive attitude about things in life, and I try to be the best version of myself that I can be, but I’m not going to lie, I’m not always a prime example. It’s just so easy to get caught up in little things and inconveniences that do not end up mattering in the big picture. For example, the snow outside made getting to work difficult, all of our Christmas presents are still stacked in our room, and our house is basically a huge mess right now. But if I step back and look at things, I have a house to live in – a safe place to call home and to share with my wonderful husband. My house is a huge freaking mess but at least it’s mine. I have an amazing job with wonderful co-workers – my life right now is actually really good.

Sometimes I feel guilty celebrating life – it’s can be a no-win situation. How can I possibly celebrate the good things in life when so many people are going through so much tragedy? Billions of people do not have food, let alone a home or comfortable place to stay. How selfish are we that we get frustrated and complain about the smallest of things? These thoughts are constantly at war with each other in my brain. Does anyone else feel this tug of war with their emotions?

letterboard letter board quote dandelion some see a weed some see a wish

London Fog (Earl Gray Latte)

I remember the first London Fog latte I ever drank. It was on our trip to Seattle in 2016 and the temperature unexpectedly dropped from 70ish degrees to about 40 degrees in September and we were not prepared. We stopped at a nearby Starbucks and I ordered a London Fog, which warmed my belly and was perfect for a cold day. For the past few days my allergies (at least I hope they’re just allergies) have been awful with so much drainage on top of it being super cold and frosty outside. This warm mug of deliciousness really hit the spot. Scroll to the bottom for some fun photos from our Seattle trip!

london fog earl gray latte with honey and cinnamon

London Fog Latte

Servings: 1


  • 1 cup hot brewed earl gray tea
  • 1/2 cup steamed milk of choice (I heat my milk in the microwave and then use this milk frother)
  • 2-3 teaspoons honey
  • few drops vanilla extract
  • cinnamon to taste


  • Combine tea, milk, honey, and vanilla. Dust with cinnamon if desired. Enjoy!




A Dermatology Resident’s 7 Favorite Beauty Products

I usually try to stick to fun posts that do not have to do with my job, but people have been asking me more and more what my favorite products are. They ask for various reasons – anti-aging, sun protection, dry skin, and products for acne-prone skin. What most people do not realize is that almost all of our aging over time comes from sun exposure. You don’t even need to get a sunburn to cause photo-aging. The sun’s powerful rays penetrate our skin and damage the collagen slowly over time. What most don’t realize is that you can accumulate sun damage even from small amounts of sun that build up over our lifetime, such as driving to the grocery store. Most people have more sun damage on their left side than their right side simply from driving in the car. In my opinion, the MOST important component of a daily beauty routine is the application of sunscreen.

One of the best parts of my job is getting to go to the American Academy of Dermatology meeting every year. All of the big companies such as Neutrogena, Eu cerin, Aveeno, etc. will hand out thousands of products and samples. Last year, the meeting was in Orlando, and I came home with an extra suitcase full of goodies. Long story short, I get to try pretty much all of the drug store and private brand products and pick out my favorites. Here, I’m going to share this dermatologist’s favorite beauty and anti-aging products.

Dermatologist dermatology favorite beauty products vaseline cerave aveeno l'oreal elta urban decay stila

1. Cerave AM facial moisturizing lotion

If I was stuck on a desert island and could only bring one product with me, this is DEFINITELY what I would grab. I put this lotion on my face every day of my life. It is SPF 30 and blocks both UVA (aging) and UVB (sunburning) rays. It is also “noncomedogenic”, which means that it will not clog your pores and is good for acne-prone skin.

2. L’Oreal True Match Minerals Makeup

I really like this power for two reasons:

A. They have different skin tones based on the warmth of your skin color: cool, neutral, or warm. I have a hard time finding makeup that matches the cool (green/blue) undertone of my skin. I have tried dozens of foundations at Ulta or Sephora only to find that all of them looked yellow on my skin.

B. It’s mineral makeup so it is natural and super light while still evening out my skin tone. It also has a small SPF value to add on top of my Cerave, so that makes it a good product in my book.

3. Aveeno Coconut Daily Body Wash

In general, as a dermatology resident, I do not like things that are scented. I see a patient almost every day who has a diffuse rash over his or her entire body due to a fragrance from lotion, makeup, shampoo, detergent, etc. I am a firm believer in using as few fragrances as possible. You also have to be careful, because companies will say “fragrance free” or “unscented” but then still add a fragrance and camouflage it on the label. All this to say, that this is probably the only product I use that has a fragrance. The coconut smell is really subtle and makes the wash really smooth. This is something I got for free at the AAD last year, and I got hooked.

4. EltaMD UV Elements Tinted Sunscreen

EltaMD is a favorite among my co-residents. The company makes several tinted facial moisturizers with sunscreen in them, which makes for an easy one-step process in the morning. This specific product is also great because it has iron oxide in it, which helps block UV rays and can help prevent melasma. The only reason I generally go with the Cerave lotion + L’Oreal powder routine in the morning rather than EltaMD is because the tinted EltaMD sunscreen is just a tad dark for me. I also have super light skin, so I’m not usually in the “one tint fits most” category. I still have been wearing this product a lot lately for the extra protection from the sun after my recent Jessner/TCA facial peel 🙂

5. Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner

Now that I use this eyeliner, I have a hard time trying other eyeliners. Inevitably they are smudgy and uneven, and I just don’t like them. This product is super easy to apply because it is like drawing with a pencil. It also will NOT smudge or come off while you are wearing it. I’ve fallen asleep with it on several times, and when I woke up in the morning, it was still 90% in tact. My usual problem with waterproof products is taking them off at the end of the day. This eyeliner fairly easily washes off in the shower combined with a small amount of makeup remover.

6. Urban Decay Eyeshadow – sin

I stumbled upon this eyeshadow when my mom got me a palette of eyeshadows from Urban Decay several years ago, and I quickly became hooked on this one. It’s a perfect neutral tone with a slight shimmer for every day use. It is also an ideal base color to then layer on darker colors for night time. I have not found such a comparable versatile shade elsewhere!

7. Vaseline

Going on my dermatology soap box here: You ask any dermatologist what product they recommend most on a daily basis and the answer is going to be Vaseline/petroleum jelly. I felt like somewhat of a fraud at first recommending this all day, when I didn’t like the feel of it on my skin. Initially when I tried it, I couldn’t stand the greasy texture. I kept using it and now, if I don’t put Vaseline on my hands and lips at night, I cannot sleep. It’s fragrance free, no preservatives, and contains no extra chemicals. A lot of people prefer really natural products such as cocoa butter or coconut oil, but in dermatology, we usually prefer not to use the most natural products. Your body is more likely to mount an immune response to something natural and plant-based than something synthetic. If you think about it, poison ivy is natural, and we are all allergic to it. People ask me why I don’t like some of the natural and homeopathic treatments such as lavender and cinnamon, and it is because I see all of the patients who become allergic to them over time. Another product I previously used frequently is Chapstick or Carmex on my lips when they were cracked in the winter time. Now I look through the ingredients and see so many common allergens: lanolin, menthol, paraffin.  I’m not allergic to those ingredients, but the more we apply them to our bodies, the higher the risk of allergy. Now I just stick to plain Vaseline.

Hope this was informational! Please leave a comment if you have any questions!

My Favorite Gifts of 2017

Hello all and happy holidays! Did everyone get what they asked for this year? My favorite gift this year by far was having a few extra days to be home and spend time with my family. Living 500 miles away from almost all of the people you care about can be extremely lonely. I constantly feel like I’m missing out on important memories, especially milestones of my little nieces and nephew. Last year I had about 2.5 days to visit my family in Oklahoma City and the hubs’ family in Tahlequah. It was emotionally and physically exhausting. This year I had TEN days to spend with family! It was definitely the best gift of all. My heart is so full going into the new year of 2018. The only caveat was that my poor husband had to work up until December 26th in Tennessee, but he recently joined us in Oklahoma City and all is finally right in the world. Nothing is more important to me than family, especially for the holidays. I also wanted to share with you a few of my favorite tangible gifts this year.

1. Kendra Scott Olivia Drop Earrings in Emerald Glass

Kendra scott Olivia drop earrings emerald glass

These were a special present from the hubs for Christmas. I’m obsessed with green and fell in love with the deep Emerald green of these earrings the minute I saw them. They are so versatile, from winter, to spring, summer, and fall, and I can’t wait to wear them. They are also super lightweight so you don’t feel them pulling on your ears. My parents also got this beautiful bracelet made of Murano glass for me when they were in Italy – a match made in heaven!

2. Fitbit Flex 2

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You know when you are missing out on something but don’t even realize that you’re missing out? That is how I felt before I got the Fitbit. It has been on my wrist for all of 3 days and I’m already obsessed. There are two features that I didn’t know I needed in my life: one is that it is water resistant. From swimming to showering, I never have to take it off if I don’t want to (and I won’t ruin it if I forget!). The other feature is the silent alarm. Every morning, I wake up about 30 minutes to an hour earlier than John. I also happen to like to set my alarm earlier and then snooze about 5 times. I never realized this bothered John until I got the silent alarm on the Fitbit. There were lots of, “Oh good, now I don’t have to listen to your alarm go off 74 times,” comments. One cool setting is that the alarm will keep buzzing every 9 minutes until you get up and walk 50 steps. Pretty cool! It also keeps track of the steps I walk in a day, since I don’t keep my phone in my scrubs pocket. Great for hospital workers!

3. American Giant Leggings

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Honestly, I’ve always bought the cheap $5-8 dollar leggings at H&M or Forever 21 but they are thinner and would always end up with a hole in the same spot, over the left knee. I have no idea how I do it to every pair of leggings I own, but I have about 4 pairs of H&M black leggings with a hole in the left knee. The material on those leggings is also much thinner and leaves me cold on winter days. But these American Giant Leggings! Wow, I never thought I could love leggings so much. They are thicker, softer, and very well made. I don’t think I can ever buy cheap leggings again, and honestly, by the time I buy 6 pairs of cheap leggings that all find their way to have a hole in the left knee, I might as well have invested in some nicer leggings.

4. Once Upon A Book Club Box

Once upon a book club box

 If you haven’t heard already, I am obsessed with subscription boxes. See my post about these book club subscription boxes. I’m about halfway through the book and I could not love it more. The gifts corresponding to page numbers makes the story come alive. And I was surprised with the quality of the first gift – they seem really well made and expensive!

5. Williams Sonoma Maple Straight Rolling Pin


I have a rolling pin that is long and tapered to both ends but the shape of it does not seem to work for me. I always end up making the dough thinner in the center and thicker on the ends. I needed something straight across and this one is both beautiful and functional!

6. Fite Family Portrait


My sister had the most thoughtful portrait done of John and me. I love it so much and can’t wait to hang it in our house!

7. Physicians Work Bag


My brother in law got John and I these amazing physicians work bags with our names on them  it was such a thoughtful gift and they are so pretty!

8. Kendra Scott Earrings


I’m not sure which earrings these are but I love them! There’s definitely a theme here that some of my favorite gifts were jewelry from Kendra Scott. I just love how versatile and timeless her jewelry is. I would have never picked these out myself but I couldn’t love them more!

I loved every gift I received this year for Christmas, but here are just a few of my favorites! What was your favorite gift this year?


Once Upon a Book Club Subscription Box Review

Once upon a book club box

Guys. I’m obsessed with subscription boxes. My sister told me about some of the boxes her children have been getting and I started looking into all the different options. I had heard of the “wine of the month” type of boxes, but I did not realize how far the monthly subscription box had come over the past few years. I started researching monthly subscription boxes on the internet, and most of the boxes now are more involved. They have everything you could thing of from kids’ activity boxes to dessert boxes (comes with everything for a recipe for a home made dessert) to travel boxes to even, you guessed it: Book Club Boxes! There are a lot of book club options for young adults or teens but very few options were for adult readers. I found a few choices for adults, but the Once Upon a Book Club boxes were the most intriguing me. Here’s the premise:

  1. They send you a recently published book, carefully chosen after meticulously pouring through innumerable new manuscripts.
  2. The book comes in the mail once a month, and comes with 3-5 items that are themed with the book.
  3. The difference between the Once Upon a Book Club box and many of the other boxes is that this box contains wrapped gifts with corresponding page numbers in the book. Once you get that page, you are allowed to open the present. How cool is that!?

Once upon a book club box

Subscription boxes are the gift that keeps on giving. It seems like we all get about a million presents in a span of a few days, but it would be nice to receive something in a month or two or even a few months down the road. It’s great because most of my nieces birthdays are within a few days of Christmas, so they can keep receiving presents for months! The other nice thing about this specific website is that you can choose to buy previous month’s boxes instead of purchasing a subscription for 3-12 months, which is pretty unique. I had missed the cutoff on the December box and chose to receive the November 2017 box. I can’t wait to start reading! I will update this post with more pictures and further reviews as I read through the book. Please comment along with me if you decide to buy a monthly book box as well!

Once upon a book club box

The company was even gracious enough to partner with me to share a coupon with you! Use coupon code LIFEOFFITE to get 10% off your first box today!


Paleo Gingerbread Men Cookies

One of my earliest memories is from Christmastime in preschool. We spent a whole day making gingerbread cookies. We mixed the dough together, rolled the dough out, cut out cookies, put them on a cookie sheet, and then popped them in the oven. We got them out of the oven, and set them in the school kitchenette to cool. Only when we went back to eat them, they were mysteriously gone! Can you believe that those little guys got up off the cookie sheet and walked away? We looked everywhere for them, finding gingerbread parts randomly strewn through the hallway – a crumb here, a Red Hot button there… Until we finally found them! We then proceeded to eat them all.

paleo gingerbread men cookiesIMG_6985

I don’t know why certain memories stand out in my mind, but this one fairly clear. It was definitely a great day, and a fun little trick/activity for us. I hadn’t had a real gingerbread man cookie in several years but the memory randomly popped into my mind a few weeks ago and I’ve been craving them ever since. After doing Whole30 diet for several weeks, I was in the mood for something sweet, but not too sweet. These cookies definitely have that perfect balance! They are also perfectly crunchy but still slightly chewy – so tasty!


Paleo Gingerbread Men Cookies

Servings: 18-24


  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot starch
  • 3/4 cup oat flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons blackstrap molasses
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • pinch salt


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • Mix together melted coconut oil, molasses, maple syrup, and egg.
  • Add in the almond flour, starch, oat flour, spices, and salt.
  • Mix together with an electric mixer until crumbly and starting to come together.
  • Combine together until it forms one large ball of dough.
  • Roll out on the counter or pastry board until 1/4 inch thick. Cut out gingerbread men with a cookie cutter and place on a cookie sheet.
  • Bake for around 12 minutes until just starting to turn golden around the edges.
  • Decorate with icing and enjoy!

How to make asymmetrical modern Christmas wreaths

Asymmetric modern floral wreaths DIY holiday Christmas party

Looking for a simple, yet elegant backdrop for a holiday party? We’re hosting a dinner tomorrow night and I was looking for something easy and natural-feeling, yet festive. Every time I pull up Pinterest, my feed is filled with these asymmetric modern wreaths. I scrolled through some tutorials and they all seemed pretty straightforward, but they involved ordering hoops, and finding fresh or beautiful faux flowers. Ain’t nobody got time for that! The dinner is tomorrow! Even if I order a hoop on Amazon Prime, it won’t be here until the day after tomorrow, and Hobby Lobby isn’t open on Sundays. Trying to find a way to make something with what I have on hand, I then thought about the beautiful bushes in our back yard. They have beautiful red and dark purple berries right now, so I decided to see what I could come up with.

Diy Christmas holiday asymmetric modern wreathsAsymmetric modern wreaths diy flowers

This project turned out to be super easy and I’m really happy with the results. I picked out few of the longer branches and cut them as far back as I could, about 3 feet. I brought them into the house and looped the branches around to make a circle. The ends are overlapped by a few inches, as the end furthest from the bush was a little wobbly and the one closest to the bush was a little stiff. I tied them together with gold string I dug out of one of my craft drawers, and voila!

Asymmetric holiday modern wreaths

A beautiful modern wreath. The whole project took probably 20 minutes. They are a perfect addition to our holiday decor. I couldn’t be more pleased with the results!

Asymmetric modern Christmas wreaths9B641138-7331-4974-9C77-E5217F41AA6E

Whole30-Approved Thai Coconut Green Curry

Who else has completed Whole 30? I had been toying with the idea for several months before I finally decided to take the plunge. I can’t decide if I picked the best time or the worst time of the year to do the challenge, and a challenge it has been. There are tons of holiday parties filled with treats and alcohol, and I can’t decide whether it’s good or bad that I’m missing out on the festivities. Our society as a whole, myself included, has such an extreme addiction to sugar. I definitely try to make healthier desserts and will try to lighten up a classic dessert, if I can. But it seems like for the past few months, I would eat at least one or two desserts every day. We had leftover Halloween candy at the house, and although I baked a lot of it in the brownies and took them to work, it still felt like there were piles and piles of it left. Every time I would walk by the bag in the kitchen, I would eat a fun sized candy. It just seemed to add up every day, a cookie at work, a piece of cake here, a sugary Starbucks drink here, etc. On stressful days, I would even come home and make a big bowl of edible cookie dough and eat the entire thing. Don’t get me wrong, I love desserts and think that sweets are great in moderation, but I was definitely not eating them in moderation. I definitely needed a lifestyle change. I have tried out paleo here and there, making alternative desserts – but I always find myself making the same thing except with oats or oat flower, honey, or maple syrup, substituting ingredients but not the habits themselves. That’s why I settled on the Whole30 Challenge. You can do almost any diet for a limited time, right? It’s only 30 days, how hard can it be?

So here I am, on day 13 out of 30. I started the day after Thanksgiving and will finish the day before Christmas Eve. Withdrawing from sugar the weekend after Thanksgiving was definitely not fun, but my body seems to have adapted to going without by now. The one thing I will say is that people told me the sugar cravings would stop around the end of week two. Well here I am and let me tell you, I would kill for a doughnut. I’m trying to break that evening dessert habit but it’s been really hard.

So what does Whole30 entail? You can eat healthy meat, vegetables, seafood, fruit, and eggs. What should you avoid? The big things to avoid are alcohol, carbohydrates (corn, wheat, oats, flour, etc), any form of sugar (natural or processed), and dairy products. I have to say I don’t really miss the dairy itself. I usually like Greek yogurt or a glass of milk with something chocolatey, but I can do without. I like strong coffee anyways so I now actually prefer a splash of almond milk to a thicker creamer. There are a few foods which I think are fairly arbitrary – one of them being potatoes. I definitely do not think of white potatoes as a vegetable and everything I’ve learned about them has told me that they have about as much nutrition as any other starch. I say this, but eating only meat and vegetables leaves me full for an hour and then starving afterwards, so I’ve definitely embraced the potato, but prefer a sweet potato to your run of the mill white potato. The other thing that seems pretty arbitrary to me is that you cannot eat beans. They are natural, grown from the earth, filled with fiber, and if you get them raw, they shouldn’t be processed. Why are they excluded??? Confession: we ordered a Hellofresh Pork Chili. (On a related note, I can actually usually eat 2-3 of the Hellofresh options each week, with a modification or two.) The chili had beans in it and I still ate it. I guess it is cheating on the diet, but it was more out of convenience. My main addiction is sugar and desserts, and I would definitely feel like I had cheated if I had eaten something resembling dessert. The beans issue seems arbitrary, and in my opinion, they should be part of a healthy diet. I also have meat at restaurants, so I have no idea if there was sugar in a spice rub or soy sauce in a marinade, etc. I have to say that I am too busy to prepare every single meal from scratch. I just do the best I can while still being a normal busy human being with a full time job.

I would still say that my diet is 99% Whole30 compliant. If you are on the fence or thinking about Whole30-ing, I would definitely say go for it! YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU SET YOUR MIND TO!! I think I ate eggs with every meal my first week on the diet, and kind of burnt myself out. This breakfast porridge basically saved my life/sanity. Also this coconut curry is super delicious and filling. It was my first venture with cauliflower rice and I was really happy with it!


Whole30-Approved Thai Coconut Green Curry

Servings: 6-8


  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 pounds raw chicken breast, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 red bell pepper – chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper – chopped
  • 1 orange bell pepper – chopped
  • 2 cups coconut milk (can use canned, I used Sodelicious)
  • 2 zucchinis – chopped
  • 3 cups cut broccoli
  • 4 tablespoons green curry paste
  • 2-3 teaspoons fish sauce
  • red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • cauliflower rice (I used a frozen bag from Kroger)
  • cilantro


  • In a large pot, melt coconut oil. Add garlic and onion and cook until softened, 3-4 minutes. Add chicken and cook, stirring every few minutes for 3-4 minutes until starting to brown.
  • Add bell peppers, broccoli, and zucchini. Cook, stirring every few minutes for 3-4 minutes. Add green curry paste and stir around for 1-2 minutes until distributed.
  • Add coconut milk and fish sauce and bring to a simmer. Add red pepper flakes to taste (I added about 1 teaspoon). Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Simmer for 20-25 minutes or until vegetables have softened. Serve over cauliflower rice, topped with cilantro, if desired!

Fall Pumpkin Spiced Hot Chocolate

Seasonal affective disorder, what is it? It’s a form of depression, also called the “Winter Blues” where people feel sadder the winter time. Does anyone else feel this way? I am definitely happier when the sun is shining, and I can tend to feel out of sorts or jaded when it is cloudy and cold outside. It’s more common than people think, and in some countries, as many as 20-30% of people may be affected. There are special lights that people install in their houses and they will sit under them for a few minutes to hours every day to help with the condition, but I’ve never done this. The older I get, the more I am cognizant of my feelings, and can try to work through them. Over time, I have tried to learn to embrace the dreary cold days, finding ways to appreciate them. One of the things that definitely makes me happy is good food, so I try to find “depressing day” foods such as hot chocolate… grilled cheese with tomato soup… chili! (I mean, who doesn’t love chili?) It’s definitely not a perfect solution, but I think that taking time every day to appreciate the good things in my life and be grateful for what I have makes me a happier person in general. So here I am, dreary weather outside, fireplace on, snuggled up under a soft blanket with the hubster on the couch, and a fall spiced hot chocolate in my hand – life doesn’t get better.

Fall pumpkin spiced hot chocolate

Fall Pumpkin Spiced Hot Chocolate

Servings: 1 (can double for two servings)


  • 8 ounces of milk of choice
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar of choice
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice
  • 1-2 drops of vanilla extract
  • dash of salt
  • cinnamon sticks, star anise, etc. for serving


  • Heat milk in a microwave-safe container until hot, around 2-3 minutes depending on your microwave. Add the cocoa powder, sugar, pumpkin spice, vanilla, and salt and combine. I used a milk frother to combine the ingredients together.