Best Quiet Activities for Insomniacs

Are you surprised that I pulled an all-nighter last night? Apparently, I give good advice but I seldom follow it despite my best intentions. I write about this topic a lot because insomnia is currently something that I am majorly struggling with these days. I absolutely hate the feeling of being wide awake when I should be sleeping, which really throws off my sleep schedule and negatively impacts my #mood. Whether or not we are conscious of it, everything from the air we breathe to the things we do are interconnected.

Whenever I have insomnia, I know how tempting it is to just lie in bed and do nothing. However, doing nothing often makes my insomnia worse. Last night, I was up until 0600 after I promised myself that I would be in bed by midnight. Not gonna lie, I can barely function today. However, on rare occasions, insomnia has been a creative outlet for me. For instance, I often end up writing #poetry when I can’t sleep, which you can find under the page titled “Poetry.”

REDEFINING SLEEP [CONT…] 🌙✨

In case you missed my previous blog posts about Improving Sleep Hygiene and 8 Ways to Sleep Better, I highly recommend reading them first. Now that we got that out of the way, what do you do when you have tried everything and still cannot sleep? 🙄 What do you do when you find yourself tossing and turning in bed at 0200? If you happen to be scrolling through your phone at an ungodly hour because you cannot sleep, then you picked the right blog post to read! 💁‍♀️ In this blog post, we will discuss five quiet activities that you can try when insomnia strikes. Hopefully, these tips will help you get the sleep that you desperately seek.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor and I am not here to give you medical advice. Please talk to your doctor if insomnia is a persistent problem to rule out any underlying medical conditions. There may be an underlying cause for your insomnia that can be treated. Additionally, your doctor can recommend other treatments or strategies that may help you sleep better.

Redefining Sleep: Best Quiet Activities for Insomniacs

1. Write in a journal. Keeping a journal is one of the best ways to work through anxiety or stress and fall asleep. If you’re having trouble sleeping, try writing out your thoughts in a personal journal. The act of writing your thoughts down will help you organize your ideas and let go of some stress that may be contributing to your insomnia.

♡ Photo by Miesha Maiden on Pexels.com

2. Listen to instrumental music. Listening to calming music when you’re trying to fall asleep is a great idea, in theory. Studies suggest that vocal-free music can actually help keep you awake since it activates our brain’s auditory cortex, which is known for being overactive in insomnia sufferers. Instrumental and/or ambient sounds like rainfall, wind chimes, or nature sounds (ocean waves, anyone?) tend to be more soothing. Personally, I love listening to BTS piano music on YouTube and the best YouTube channel in my opinion is Smyang Piano 🎧 Here are some songs that I listen to on repeat:

♡ Photo by Yuri Yuhara on Pexels.com

3. Read a book. Books are one of many quiet activities you can do when you have insomnia. Books don’t require all your attention, which means you can easily read one while also doing another task that requires less focus. This makes it a great activity for winding down at night before bed. Plus, reading about topics that interest you may help get your mind off any problems keeping you up. That being said, try not to read anything that is too exciting or makes you think critically.

4. Take deep breaths. Breathing deeply can help you relax and fall asleep faster, which is important if you have trouble falling and staying asleep. I cannot stress this enough, but it is best not to look at your phone, TV, or computer while practicing deep breathing—all of these activities stimulate your brain and body. In a previous blog post, I talked about using the 3-7-8 breathing exercise which you can read more about here.

5. Clean the house. Keeping your house clean isn’t just good for your mood; it can also help you de-stress, clear your mind and possibly even improve your sleep hygiene. The habit of cleaning before bed is a useful one because it can prevent unwanted distractions at night and make you feel more peaceful when it comes time to fall asleep. I recommend checking out this related blog post which includes a daily checklist to help you stay organized and in control of your environment.

♡ Photo by Ivan Samkov on Pexels.com

(っ◔◡◔)っ ♥ FINAL THOUGHTS ♥

Insomnia can be a frustrating condition that makes it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. When you find yourself tossing and turning in bed, you can refer to my list of five quiet activities to help you wind down and drift off to sleep. Do you agree with this list of suggestions? Is there anything that I missed? Feel free to join the conversation by leaving a comment below ↓ #Sweet-dreams

Thanks for stopping by! ♥

great-vibes.regular (1)

The 6 Most Annoying Types of Blogs

Earlier this week, I received a lovely notification from WordPress that sereneluna.net turned 6 years old! 🥳 Admittedly, I didn’t do much with my blog until Spring 2019 and at that time, I had approx. 20 followers. Since having a quarter-life crisis in Spring 2019, I started taking blogging more seriously. It didn’t take long to realize that writing is a therapeutic outlet for me. I know that I am still a newbie blogger, but it feels really good to have people that are interested in my writing. I’m so grateful that anyone reads my blog, and I really hope that my follower count continues to grow! 🌻🌻

What Makes a Blog Annoying?

If you have been blogging for a while, you’ll know that blogging can be hard work. The worst part about blogging is that there is always a risk of your content being ignored. You’re constantly coming up with different ideas to create compelling and high-quality content for your audience. Despite all of your hard work, there is no way to know for sure if you are doing the right thing. The worst part about blogging is that it’s not easy to keep your readers engaged. However, there are some things you can do to make sure your blog posts are not too annoying. Below ↓ I want to show you 6 types of blogging styles to avoid which can be annoying for your readers. Please note that the following list is in no particular order. Let’s get started, shall we?

The 6 Most Annoying Types of Blogs

1. Blogs with no images. A blog without pictures is not engaging for the reader. Adding photos helps increase readability and breaks up the text, so go ahead and add some pictures! Increased readability may be due in part because readers don’t need to read as much text, which is often more difficult and time-consuming than looking at a picture. It’s also possible that readers are better able to remember the information shown in pictures than those seen only in text.

2. Blogs that are poorly written. Sadly, poorly written blogs are a problem that is not going away. The problem is not just the content but also the formatting and organization of the blog. It is not surprising that a poorly written blog is more likely to have lower engagement rates and fewer shares across social media platforms. As a result, this can lead to less traffic and less visibility in search engines. Okay, so how do you spot a poorly written blog? For starters, poorly written blogs usually contain a lot of spelling and grammatical errors, which can make the blog difficult to read and ultimately discourage readers from returning.

3. Blogs with no information about the blogger. Bloggers who do not have an “About” section can be sort of mysterious. It’s clear who’s behind the text that was posted, but one can’t help wondering about their motivations for doing so. These blogs might be interesting in some ways, but they will not have a built-in audience, Furthermore, these bloggers may end up having more difficulty getting their posts shared. Blogs with an “About” section are better for building an audience, attracting more followers, and reaching more readers.

4. Blogs that lack original content. There is a trend in social media to share blog posts that have been written by other people. This is being done for many reasons, but most commonly it is to build traffic for the author of the post and/or to share a person’s opinion on a topic. The problem with this practice is that it discourages original content from being created and shared, which could have consequences for the blogger down the line. Personally, I have unfollowed bloggers who do this because I think it is a lazy and unnecessary practice.

5. Blogs that are written like a diary. This blog is usually just a list of random things that this blogger has done during their day or week, such as what they ate for breakfast or what they watched on TV last night. This type of blog is not helpful to anyone and honesty, nobody cares that you had chocolate ice cream in a waffle cone and your boyfriend had vanilla frozen yogurt. Please keep in mind that your audience is not limited to yourself. I follow a few bloggers who write a lot of diary-style blog posts, but it doesn’t bother me because these bloggers have been blogging for years and I know what to expect from their work.

6. Blogs with too many ads. Bloggers who create blogs that have too many ads in them are trying to make money off of the people who visit their blogs. This can be annoying for other bloggers because a lot of advertisers are targeting these types of blogs, which could mean having to scroll through the endless amounts ads just to see what their original point was. A lot of bloggers who create blogs with too many ads in them are trying to make money by posting the “sponsored content” that they are given by their advertisers or sponsors. Some bloggers or non-bloggers might feel this way because they believe these blogs are being made for the purpose of making money.


(っ◔◡◔)っ ♥ FINAL THOUGHTS ♥

Whether you are just starting to blog or you have been blogging for a while, it can be a daunting task to come up with fresh and engaging content. If you want to have a successful blog, don’t let these 6 common blogger mistakes get in your way. Sure, I could be a bit too cynical, but I hope that you enjoyed reading this blog post nonetheless. If this blog post taught you something or made you think about the way you go about blogging differently, feel free to join the conversation by leaving a comment below ↓ I will try to reply to your comments during my free time.

Thanks for stopping by! ♥

great-vibes.regular (1)

8 Ways to Sleep Better

Some of you know that I struggle with depression and it seems to come in waves. I am going to be totally honest when I tell you that I am struggling with situational depression this month. If we were having coffee and you asked me how I was doing, I would tell you that I am not fucking fine. I don’t swear a lot so I want to emphasize and drive home the fact that things are not sunshine and rainbows over here. Mentally, I am struggling to come to terms with things. I am in no mood to explain what these things are but I might write about it in an upcoming blog post. I am just tired of receiving bad news all the damn time and I do not want to drag all of you down with my negativity.

Whenever I am really struggling with situational depression, my sleep schedule is usually the first thing to go. This week, I have been extremely sleep-deprived as I was staying up until 0500 – 0600 and waking up at 1030 to send my daughter to school. It is hard to find balance when I am dealing with these strong, negative emotions and lack of motivation. I am barely functioning from lack of sleep. Last Wednesday, I missed sending my daughter to school because I slept through my alarm. I feel like I am failing as a mother and this is not one of my prouder moments.

Redefining the Way You Sleep ✨🌙

In case you missed my post about Improving Sleep Hygiene, I highly recommend reading it first. From years of struggling with insomnia as well as excessive worrying, I know that sleep is vital for a person’s health and well-being. I also know that sleep is even more important for those who struggle with #mental-health and mood regulation. If you are currently experiencing sleep problems, then I suggest checking out my list below ↓ Here are some ways to help you get some sleep for a more productive day! 💁‍♀️

Redefining Sleep: 8 Ways to Sleep Better

1. Figure out how much sleep you need. If you are not getting enough sleep, then your body and mind are not going to function the way they should. You will feel tired and groggy, even when you wake up early. If you don’t address it now, then sleep deprivation can ultimately wreak havoc on your health. If you want to get some rest, you can start by making a plan to determine how much sleep is right for you. While some people can get away with 4 hours of sleep each night, others require more sleep.

2. Have a nighttime routine. Do you find yourself waking up during your sleep cycle? Chances are, you’re probably not getting enough REM sleep. During REM sleep, your body is working hard to replenish and repair itself. Having a nighttime routine can help get you into bed faster and fall asleep quicker, and it may even help regulate your circadian rhythm by teaching your body to start winding down at the same time each day. This might sound counterintuitive, but having a set bedtime and morning routine can actually make it easier to fall asleep at night.

3. Be consistent. We are all guilty of not always following what we say we are going to do. However, one good way to keep a consistent sleep schedule is to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, including weekends and holidays. Also, don’t doze off for an hour in front of your computer or TV late at night; if you can’t fall asleep by 2200, get up and go to bed anyways.

4. Hello, sunshine! 🌞 If you’re having trouble sleeping, then a lack of natural light might be to blame. Spend some time each day getting at least 15 minutes of sunlight and your body will get used to feeling more awake (and alive) in the morning. Sunlight also helps reset your circadian rhythm, which is your internal clock and plays a role in sleep regulation. Since we associate darkness with going to bed, getting sunlight will trick your brain into thinking it’s time to wake up! ☕💕

5. Reward Yourself. When you are struggling to get a good night’s sleep, make it easier on yourself. You could try starting your day with a refreshing shower or a short walk outside. Exercise can also help improve your quality of sleep as well. Making time for #self-care is an important part of sleeping well at night. If you still can’t fall asleep, try adding some relaxing activities before bedtime such as taking a bath or listening to relaxing music.

6. Plan the Next Day. It is natural to have an off day or a bad week from time to time, but it can also be difficult to get back on track if you fail to plan for these mishaps. Instead of waiting for the morning, plan your next day prior to bed. In 30 minutes, you can figure out what needs to be done tomorrow and how much time each task will take. 

7. Turn off social media. The blue light from social media keeps you up at night. If you have trouble sleeping, I suggest that you deactivate your account and read a book. And please don’t bring your phone with you into bed. If you must use your phone as an alarm clock like many people do, then you need to check out this blog post for a sans phone solution.

8. Eat light before bedtime. While a few crackers won’t hurt, too many late-night calories could lead to weight gain. It is important not only to avoid eating close to bedtime but also skipping meals altogether, as that leads your body and mind into starvation mode, which can leave you feeling tired and cranky in addition to losing precious hours of valuable shuteye.


(っ◔◡◔)っ ♥ FINAL THOUGHTS ♥

Sleep is a critical part of staying healthy and it is not just limited to your physical or mental well-being. Like eating well and exercising regularly, it is important to make sleep a priority in your life. If you want to be at your best, then you need your beauty sleep. And while everyone has their own way of sleeping better, there are some general tips that can help you start getting more—and better—sleep every night. Do you agree with this list of suggestions? Is there anything that I missed? Feel free to join the conversation by leaving a comment below ↓ #Sweet-dreams

Thanks for stopping by! ♥

great-vibes.regular (1)

How to Quit Sugar For Good

(っ◔﹏◔)っ I have a confession: I am addicted to sugar. 🙇‍♀️

I’ve had a sweet tooth since the day I was born and given a choice between candy or food for survival without the repercussions, I would have chosen the candy 🍭 Unfortunately, I inherited a sweet tooth from my grandmother and it runs in my family. Even though I minored in Nutritional & Nutraceutical Sciences (NANS), I didn’t need to study nutrition to know that sugar is addictive. And If you’re anything like me, you probably know that sugar is incredibly difficult to quit. The last time I tried quitting sugar, I managed to detox for 21 days only to relapse during the Christmas holidays. My recommendation is not to try quitting sugar during the holidays, especially if you are just starting out.

I know that I am not the only one who struggles with this addiction and if you are reading this blog post, I am guessing that the title intrigued you. My intention wasn’t to use clickbait, and to be totally transparent, the longest I’ve gone without sugar was #21days. They say it takes 21 days to break a bad habit and I want to ditch the sugar, regardless of how many times I relapse. This past weekend, I ate sugary foods and now I am paying the price with a lot of bloating, mood swings, irritability, and more sugar cravings. That being said, these past two weeks have been nothing but bad news for my family, and by now I am well aware that my coping mechanism is sweets and treats 🎂😋


Disclaimer: This blog post was inspired by blog.paleohacks.com. I added some of my own anecdotes to help emphasize the key points from their list (see image below ↓) I hope you know that sheer willpower alone will likely lead to a relapse. If you want a more sustainable, long-term solution for quitting the sweet stuff, then we need to treat sugar like the drug that it is. Let’s get started, shall we?

Easy-Ways-to-Cut-Sugar-Out-of-Your-Diet-infog
👉 Image source: blog.paleohacks.com

Easy Ways to Cut Sugar Out Of Your Diet

Stop Buying Processed Foods If you stop buying processed foods, over time you will accumulate much less of them in your house. If you really want to quit cold turkey, dump your sodas down the drain and toss the rest of your empty-calorie snacks in the trash. We poured the sugar-laden sodas and drinks down the drain which was very therapeutic for me. Some people might say that it is a waste of money to throw food in the trash and I agree with them. However, we should not have purchased these products in the first place.

Make Your Own Spaghetti Sauce I have not tried making my own spaghetti sauce. We try to buy brands that are low in sodium and contain the least amount of questionable ingredients. Look for spaghetti sauce when they go on sale and stock up on the good brands.

Swap Fruit Juice with Whole Fruit I quit this bad habit years ago and I don’t feel deprived by diluting fruit juice or skipping it altogether. Whenever I drink fruit juice such as 100% orange juice or 100% apple juice, I water the juice down with 3/4 water. To this day, I cannot drink non-diluted fruit juice. It is way too sweet!

Avoid Flavored Yogurt There is a lot of hidden sugar in flavored yogurts and that is scary! In a single serving of flavored yogurt, I have seen as much as 20 grams of sugar. Yikes! This doesn’t even include the hidden sugars and sneaky sweeteners that are usually added to flavored yogurts. Opt for plain yogurt and flavor it yourself. It is pretty tasty with a little maple syrup and sliced banana.

Make Your Own Salad Dressing I have not tried this yet but both my mom and husband started making their own salad dressings. I can see the appeal in homemade salad dressings and I plan on making my own one day. Please tell me that I am not the only one with 20+ bottles of salad dressing? I cannot bring myself to throw away store-bought salad dressing.

Give Yourself a Quota Going cold turkey is hard, and let’s face it: we are going to slip up from time to time. If you are used to eating fast food for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert, then you may want to slowly cut back on sugar and gradually introduce healthier alternatives like fruits and vegetables. If you must have dessert, save your cheat treat for a time when you will really enjoy it, such as date night. I did not grow up in a household where I ate dessert every night and I seldom ate fast food, so, fortunately, I haven’t developed a habit of gluttony and instant gratification.

Try Stevia, Monk Fruit, or Xylitol I have a hard time loving stevia. I find the taste of stevia awful but a lot of people have jumped on the stevia bandwagon and they embrace it with open arms. I don’t mind monk fruit but most often, it’s not made primarily of monk fruit. The one I have is erythritol with monk fruit extract. Erythritol on its own has a cooling aftertaste but gives me stomach aches, so I use it sparingly. I also use maple syrup and coconut sugar in some recipes to replace cane sugar. For days when my sugar cravings are intense, I might try sugar-free gum.

Set Dessert Rules Do you ever implement new rules, end up failing and feel worse than when you started? This method does work with strict discipline but even my family and friends haven’t had much success with it yet. You will likely end up relapsing if you feel too deprived, undergo an uncontrollable binge, or experience withdrawal as you wean yourself off of sugar. What is the best way to overcome potential drawbacks? Decide to make a change and commit to it for a month.

Don’t Keep Treats in the House Preach! 🙌 I stopped buying treats and we rarely have treats in our house. If we really want treats, we have to go out of our way for ice cream, or we make homemade french fries and chips (air fryer or baked). It also forces me to get creative. I have made recipes I would have otherwise never made, such as paleo mint chocolate truffles and chia seed pudding. If you’re going to make desserts, then at least make them paleo! Paleo desserts are naturally healthier and less processed compared to store-bought food.

Eat Dark Chocolate Ideally, you want to eat dark chocolate that is at least 70% solids. I do consume dark chocolate on a weekly basis, and I prefer to bake with dark chocolate which is naturally lower in sugar compared to conventional milk chocolate varieties.

Avoid Mixed Alcoholic Drinks Just avoid alcohol like the plague. Alcohol won’t help you lose weight, is chalked full of empty calories and it wreaks havoc on your kidneys and liver. There are other ways to have fun, like writing blog posts *laughs* In a more serious tone, alcohol is a toxin and I have been around too many alcoholics in my lifetime to know how batshit crazy alcoholics and drunk people can be. Didn’t know alcohol is a drug? FYI alcohol is a depressant. Look it up!

Cut Out Soda If you’re going to drink soda, you might as well drink liquefied candy washed down with a glass of lemon juice. I don’t need to explain why soda is bad which is pretty much self-explanatory. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that diet soda is any better. Diet soda contains similar ingredients as regular soda plus several questionable artificial sweeteners. It’s not even the sugar that is the most cringe-worthy ingredient, or the high fructose corn syrup for that matter. It’s the caramel color that is notorious for staining and corroding your teeth, and the highly acidic nature of both diet and regular varieties. Love the carbonated bubbles but don’t want to quit soda cold turkey? Try flavored sparkly water like Perrier, Bubbly, or Spindrift. Although acidic, these unadulterated sparkling waters are still healthier options.


(っ◔◡◔)っ ♥ FINAL THOUGHTS ♥

Well, there you have it! If this blog post inspired you to join me on this sans sugar journey and/or you are currently embarking on a similar journey towards a healthier lifestyle, feel free to join the conversation by leaving a comment below ↓ I look forward to reading your comments!

Also, if you would like to have your recipes featured on sereneluna.net, you can get in touch with me through my contact page or e-mail me @hilary_harm_7@hotmail.com 💌 There is no set deadline for recipe submissions. Ideally, I am looking for recipes that are wheat-free and sugar-free. Stevia, monk fruit, and xylitol are more ideal than added sugars. However, I will accept recipes that use small amounts of honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, etc. anything of that nature. Thanks so much! 🍨💕

great-vibes.regular (1)

March Goals | Spring 2022

This is the beginning of a new month which means that we have a fresh start (yet again). I am not waiting another day for a fresh start, since we already know that January and February 2022 were bleh months for me. I am still catching up on the comments from January. No, I have not forgotten about you all. To all of my loyal readers and blogging friends, thank you for putting up with my sloth-like self. What I really need right now is a steeped tea and a calm place to escape to which does not exist in my world. As I continue to search for my quiet sanctuary, I often think back to life before the pandemic started 😷 When I was at U of Calgary B.C. (before Covid-19), I used to escape to the arboretum on campus. I really miss that place. *Le sigh*

If you knew me IRL, my life would probably bore you. If I am not doing mundane, mind-numbing chores, I am probably working or taking care of my 5-year old kinder and 9-month old baby. That being said, I want to be more organized this month so I think it’s only fair that I hold myself accountable somehow. Since I haven’t used Instagram since 2019, I don’t see the point of using IG stories, even though I have had some success with it in the past. Right now, blogging is the main platform that I use so it makes sense to share my goals here with my readers. Just a quick note that my goals this month are rather vague and I have not gone into much detail yet regarding my current diet. Perhaps I will elaborate more about my weight loss journey and plans in a future blog post if anyone is interested. FYI I am not overweight but I want to lose belly fat, specifically visceral fat. I fit the definition of skinny fat which is annoying because I cannot wear cute clothes without hating myself. 😓

The Daily Grind ☕💕

By now, we all know that I lack the motivation to grind away at writing, editing, and uploading new content for this blog. Even on my days off, I am too lazy to get off the couch and actually do something productive. The recipes I made earlier this week were not “Insta worthy” so I didn’t bother snapping photos. I would like to share my low-carb recipes with you, but the perfectionist in me is stopping me from actually following through with it. Perfectionism is a B.I.T.C.H. 🤦‍♀️ I currently have 31 drafts on WordPress + ideas in my head + ideas that live on a notepad on my iPhone. That being said, I refuse to upload half-baked blog posts just for the sake of gaining more views and followers.

Old News is New News

In other news, I was sick (again) during the month of February. To add to this series of unfortunate events, I was unable to find a habit tracker because Costco didn’t carry them this year and the calendar store is closed until further notice 🙇‍♀️ I am a visual learner and seem to do better when I can physically see what goals I need to achieve. Right now, I lack direction and feel a bit lost when it comes to setting short-term and long-term goals which is no surprise considering that I haven’t been using a planner at all. At this time, I am thinking of sharing my goals with you to keep myself accountable for the month of March. I really seem to struggle with finding the energy and motivation to stop being a lazy potato.

It is hard to believe that one year has passed since I last posted my goals for March 2021 🌸 You can also read about how that went down here. 🌸 I have decided to keep the same layout this year. Below ↓ I will show you my list for the month of March 2022. My daily lists are very similar except that daily lists include mundane tasks like cooking and cleaning. So what does my list for the month of March look like? Here, let me show you:

March Goals 2022

Career Goals:

  • Continue to work weekends and Fridays, preferably evening shifts
  • Bid on shifts so I average 7-9 shifts per month
  • Renew and review courses on MLL
  • Attend 2 online wellness seminars

Personal Goals:

  • Publish 1-2 blog posts per month
  • Publish 2-3 recipes and/or poems
  • Keep tabs on doctor’s appointments/pending appointments
  • Continue to declutter house every day
  • Have an IRL meeting/get-together

Health Goals:

  • Follow a low carb diet for 3+ months
  • Continue Intermittent Fasting (IF)
  • Slash 90-95% of wheat products. Slash 70% of refined foods including refined sugar 🧁
  • More cooking and baking at home
  • Daily walks and sunshine if weather permits ☀️

Not that anyone cares: My scale needs new batteries so I don’t know my actual weight. The way my clothes fit is a better indicator than a stupid number on the scale. I don’t care about weight as much as the way I feel on the inside and I know that my BMI falls within the healthy range of 18.5 – 24.9. And yet, people often tell me that I do not need to lose weight, but they aren’t me. What I do know is that I don’t feel good on the inside. I want to feel healthier and my body looks (and feels) tired. Ideally, I would like a flatter stomach by summer so that is what I am working towards. More importantly, I want to get rid of my inflammation as a result of sensitivities to certain foods. The last time I felt comfortable in my own body was in 2015. I know this is an unpopular opinion, but affirmations and mantras about body positivity do not make me feel better about myself. I also came to the harsh reality that I haven’t made much progress since 2017 when I wrote a blog post about my dieting woes called No Carbs, No Life.

“Oh I don’t need real food. I’ll just live on this raw cabbage. I’m so happy. This is fine. Everything is fine.” — Jenny Lawson

Do you have any goals that you are trying to achieve this month? If you do, what are they? Feel free to join the conversation by leaving a comment below ↓ I look forward to reading your comments. I am working this weekend, so I will reply to your comments and catch up on blog posts when I have time.

Thanks for stopping by! ♥

great-vibes.regular (1)

10 Ways to Change a Negative Mindset

When I was still active on Instagram @serene_hilz, I posted an IG story about my struggle with handling strong, negative emotions. I realize that I am naturally drawn towards negativity, so perhaps that is why I attract more of it in my life. Lately, I have been reading more negative blog posts than usual, and I believe that this could be due to my newsfeed. Not surprisingly, I tend to follow like-minded individuals who seem to be negative like myself. After all, misery loves company.

(◔_◔)っSerious Question: How are we supposed to embrace negative emotions so we can get on with our day and have more mental clarity? To answer this question, I have compiled a list of 10 things that can help you change your negative mindset. Let’s get started!

10 Ways to Change a Negative Mindset

1. Check your attitude. The way you think about your life, goals, dreams, and desires can make a difference in how you live your life. Think about it: If you ruminate on the things that you do not have in your life, then you will subconsciously attract more of these things in your life. Not only that, but you will also create more frustration which is harnessed from negative energy. You are ultimately doing yourself a disservice by being a Negative Nancy and there is nothing cute about whining to me or to anyone else.

2. Think Better Thoughts. What is the difference between people who feel stuck in life and people who go on to accomplish great things? Successful people think differently than the rest of the herd. Often, successful people have already changed their mindsets, whether they are aware of it or not. The good news is that it is never too late to transform your thinking patterns too. One way to adopt a growth mindset is to become aware of your negative thoughts and actively choose to think better thoughts. Stop ruminating over the things that went wrong or believing that you are a victim in life. Instead, you can channel this negativity into a creative outlet, like blogging.

3. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others. Yikes. I think this one deserves its own blog post. I cannot stress this point enough but comparison really is the thief of joy. We live in a society where social comparison dominates, and whether we admit it or not, humans love to compare and judge. Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and other social media platforms really do bring out the green-eyed monster in people. Next time you feel tempted to compare yourself to someone you envy, try shifting your focus. Instead of focussing on others’ achievements, turn inwards and start focussing on your own unique qualities. I know this is easier said than done, but try counting your blessings the next time you catch yourself being envious of someone else.

4. Cry It Out! 😭 They say that “good girls don’t cry.” I hate to be the person to tell you this, but mentally stable girls cry. Big boys cry too. There is nothing bad about having a good cry. Most of us are taught that crying is immature, uncool, and a sign of weakness. If that was the case where we weren’t allowed to be vulnerable, then I would not be writing this blog post. More than ever, we need to allow ourselves to feel these feelings, both good and bad, and tears are a natural, emotional release. This, crying is a healthy way to let go of bottled-up feelings and emotional pain.

5. Forgive Others. How much time and energy do you spend being angry towards other people? Anger is obviously serving some kind of purpose in your life; otherwise, you wouldn’t be projecting anger into the universe. That being said, what good does it do for you to hold a grudge against someone who has done you wrong? Learning to forgive others is easier said than done, since negative emotions often cloud our judgment, thus making forgiveness seem like a waste of time. However, learning how to forgive others will give you peace of mind and, in turn, you will become mentally stronger.

“Unforgiveness is like drinking posion and hoping the other person dies.” – Margaret Stunt

6. Forgive Yourself. Do you say cruel things to yourself that you would never say to anyone else? Would you speak to your friends the same way you speak to yourself? Chances are, you probably judge yourself too harshly. AmIright? If you think that you are being too hard on yourself, maybe it is time to practice self-compassion and forgive yourself for being the imperfect human being that you are. We cannot undo our past mistakes, but we can choose to make better choices in the future if we can forgive ourselves and learn to trust the universe.

“You’ve been criticising yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” – Louise Hay

7. Learn to Let Go. There will always be things that you cannot control no matter how much you try to micromanage or wish for a more desirable outcome. And sometimes, feeling out of control can be overwhelming. If you believe that you are a #victim, I cannot deal with you right now. Seriously, nothing annoys me more than people who have a victim mentality. That being said, learning to let go and surrender to the universe is not the same as playing #victim. The universe works in mysterious ways and it is okay to surrender to the divine universe. Acknowledging your weaknesses and letting go of the things yet you cannot control will, in turn, make you a mentally stronger person.

8. Accept Life As It Is. Accepting reality can be scary because it means being okay with the way things are in the present moment. If you have been fighting reality, you might not be ready to accept your life as is. Similar to Point #7 it means surrendering and letting go of your fantasy self. It means facing and accepting what is, which allows you to make wiser choices in the future. Resisting reality might seem like the easier choice, but avoiding and resisting the truth has negative consequences.

9. Do Nothing. What do I mean by this, exactly? Doing nothing seems counterproductive, doesn’t it? However, doing nothing is similar to sitting in a silent room and meditating. I understand that meditation isn’t for everyone, nor am I telling you to meditate. People who have kids and/or busy schedules might not have the time to “do nothing.” A calmer mind can do wonders for your mental health if you are able to shut off the monkey chatter. The brain is not meant to run on overdrive all the freaking time!

10. Practice Mindfulness. If you haven’t been practicing mindfulness on a regular basis, start reconnecting with it by first silencing your mind. By living in the present, you break away from focusing on the past or future. If you have a philosophy background, you’ll know that the past and future are not real; the present moment is real. Since mindfulness enables us to bring our attention back to the present moment, perhaps we should start focussing on the things that are right in front of our noses. Just saying.

“Peace of mind arrives the moment you come to peace with the contents of your mind.” – Rasheed Ogunlaru


(っ◔◔)っ ♥ FINAL THOUGHTS ♥

When you are feeling more relaxed and calm, you will be able to focus your energy on the things that actually matter. Best of all, you will be able to think more clearly which enables you to plan and better organize your thoughts. Remember, insanity is the definition of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, so I challenge you to try something different today. Feel free to join the conversation by leaving a comment below ↓ if this blog post taught you something or made you think about things differently.

This image was edited by me aka. Mama Hillz

Thanks for stopping by! ♥

great-vibes.regular (1)

Surviving January

(◔_◔)っQuestion: Is January a depressing month for you?

It is the beginning of a New Year and I am already off to a rocky start. I have been depressed since New Year’s Eve. I wasn’t planning to stay up past midnight but my husband and daughter insisted that I watch the fireworks with them… on TV. We had planned to watch the fireworks IRL but plans were canceled due to extreme weather conditions, which is not surprising to anyone who lives in western Canada. Okay, maybe I am being a bit melodramatic, but to give you an idea of how cold Canada is, I wanted to share a photo with you that my husband took on his phone. Just looking at this photo makes me feel cold! #brrr

I am Feeling Blue (SAD)

The New Year is meant to be a hopeful time for us all. Many of us have ambitious goals and feel motivated to crush our goals or face our inner demons. How many of you are familiar with the saying, This will be my year? or New Year, New Me? As tempting as it is to push the reset button on January 1, reality does not have a reset button. January 1, 2022, is no different than December 31, 2021, unless you decide to make a change and take action to make it different. Usually, I am motivated enough to make a list of resolutions for the new year, but this year, I am struggling with my mental health which includes Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It could also be due to the fact that the holidays are over and there isn’t Christmas to occupy my mind anymore. It could also be due to the fact that I have to go out in the real world again and I have the harsh realization that I am still dealing with social anxiety. To be honest, I haven’t done much to overcome that during the Christmas holiday. 🎄🎁

❄ The Long, Long Winter ❄

I want to hide under the blankets and hibernate until spring 2022. Nothing about winter feels rejuvenating to me. I cannot wait for spring because spring brings me hope. I need longer days, warmer weather, and sunshine in order to thrive 🌞🌻 In the meantime, I know that routines are essential when it comes to surviving the long, long winter. Last year, I distracted myself by doing a No Spend Challenge in January 2021. However, this year, I don’t even have the motivation or mental energy to participate in this challenge. When I tried the No Spend Challenge last year, I enjoyed it very much so I still recommend checking out this challenge if you want to save some money and/or get out of debt. I am 30 years old and live well below my means. Both my husband and I are frugal people and we are actively saving for a brighter future. I might write more about frugality and money-saving tips in future blog posts 🤔

Insomnia Strikes Again

Confession time: I am not good with diary-style blog posts because it takes me several hours to edit them, and even longer if I am struggling to find the energy or motivation to write. I am editing this blog post on January 5, 2022, but I wrote the rough draft on January 3, 2022. To give you some context, I was supposed to work on Sunday, January 2, 2022 (day shift) but I did not sleep at all the night before. I had horrible insomnia because my 5-year old daughter kept me up until 0300 slamming doors and being obnoxious. I am a very light sleeper who needs earplugs and sleeping masks; even that doesn’t seem to help much. On day shifts, I have to wake up at 0430, so I was both physically and mentally exhausted. That morning, I had a pounding insomniac headache which forced me to call in “sick” at 0415. I feel bad for being that person who canceled last minute.

Below is a screenshot from my Instagram account. Feel free to follow me on IG even though I stopped uploading on IG a long time ago. I let go of IG because it wasn’t good for my mental health. You can only filter so much content, and even then, the algorithm is not perfect. There always seemed to be something triggering on IG no matter what I did which is why I took an extra-long, extended hiatus. Looking back, using #victim as a hashtag was a bit melodoramatic. Anywho…. as you can see, insomnia is still an ongoing problem in my life which could also be contributing to my $hit mood. 😴 I have tried everything to help me sleep and I even wrote a blog post about improving sleep hygiene a couple years ago. Insomnia is an ongoing problem for many of us who live in cold climates.

Not only am I disappointed when other people let me down, but I feel really bad when I let others down. I admit that I feel guilty for canceling my shift when I know that they are counting on me to show up and be present at work. I also noticed that this is not the first time that I had to cancel a day shift due to insomnia. What is it about early mornings that I despise so much? I call these “sick” days my mental health days or self-care days. I have to remember to be kind to myself, especially on days when I am struggling with anxiety and depression. Also, I have to remember to practice self-compassion which has started to gain more popularity over the years, especially in the mental health community. If you haven’t heard of the self-compassion movement, I recommend checking out this Ted Talk by Kristin Neff on Youtube.

I had planned to stay in bed all day but then I remembered that I had to go to work the following day (another day shift). Then I remembered that the world goes on without me whether I like it or not, and that the Earth will keep spinning regardless of how I feel. Sometimes, taking a day off after a horrible night of insomnia is absolutely necessary, but I cannot hide under the blankets forever. I know that I will have to get out of bed today and that it is only a matter of time before I have to go back to work. Tomorrow will come and I will have to face the real world once more. I might not see the light right now, but I know that there will be happier, sunnier days ahead.

Do you believe that changing seasons affect your mood? If you live in the northern hemisphere with a cold climate, how do you get enough sunlight? Please join the conversation by leaving a comment below ↓ I look forward to reading your comments. I hope that you are all staying safe and healthy during the winter season. 😷

Thanks for stopping by!

great-vibes.regular (1)

DIY Honey Lemon Candy

✧・゚: * We wish you a [belated] Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 🎄🎁 *:・゚✧

Here in Calgary, it is snappy cold. It is so cold that I seldom leave the house unless I absolutely have to freeze my face off. Yesterday, I needed to run some errands and happened to stumble upon a pharmacy that had Pfizer vaccines. The timing was right, so I ended up getting my 3rd Covid-19 booster shot. So far so good – I have a sore arm, but otherwise I feel fine. These days, I am still trying to avoid the general public as much as possible without resorting to a complete hermit lifestyle. The temperature here is disgusting, and there is nothing glamorous about staying frosty. Last night, it was -30°C (celsius) which is stupidly #cold.

Tis’ Flu Season Too

Not only is it unbearably cold AF, but it is also cold season (pun intended) ❄ I know that everyone is sick and tired of the pandemic so I don’t want to harp about the importance of getting vaccinated. I did what was best for me and you need to do what is best for you. I know that my immune system is not very good and I even wrote about my crappy immune system in an older blog post. I try my best to stay healthy, but sometimes sickness cannot be prevented regardless of how cautious and healthy you are. Sure, you can sanitize your hands and wear a mask all you want, but at the end of the day, there’s still a chance that you will get sick.

(◔_◔)っThink about it this way: It’s not a matter of if you catch it. It’s a matter of when you catch it. 😷

Thank goodness that I am not sick right now *knock on wood* but when I am sick, I usually get a sore throat. If I don’t get a sore throat, it’s usually a bad head cold. Head colds and sore throats are icky, and I really don’t care for the store-bought throat lozenges. The most effective throat lozenges usually contain eucalyptus which is so overpowering and makes me wanna gag. Eukalyptus is definitely an acquired taste. Sure, an alternative is store-bought vitamin C drops which are pretty palatable but they can be quite pricy for what they are, and I much rather get my mega doses of Vitamin C from fresh citrus fruits! 🍋🍋

I hope that my dear readers aren’t sick right now and that everyone stays healthy this holiday season. Whether or not you have a sore throat right now, I have a special honey lemon candy recipe to share with you today. This recipe tastes like store-bought candy but it is healthier and cheaper than what you would typically find in the supermarket. To be honest, I did not change the original recipe all that much; I used slightly less sugar in mine. Here is the link to the original candy recipe: https://www.manusmenu.com/honey-hard-candy

Even though the author says that you need a candy thermometer, I haven’t been able to find one. I made this recipe a handful of times without a candy thermometer and it worked fine. You really need to keep a close eye on the candy or you might end up with burnt sugar instead. An alternative to a candy thermometer is to take a cold bowl of water, and using a spoon, scoop some of the mixture out of the pot and transfer it to the bowl of water. If the candy sticks to the spoon and hardens right away, then that’s the texture you want. Also, this recipe calls for 6 tbsp. of sugar but I prefer to use 4 tbsp. of sugar for a tarter lemony flavor 🍋 It really depends on your personal preference! 😅

Not convinced yet?

Here are some photos of my cute heart-shaped candy creations. I hope that you enjoy making this DIY honey lemon candy recipe as much as I did. If you enjoyed this recipe and would like me to share more candy recipes in the future, please let me know in the comments below ↓ Have a safe and healthy New Year everyone! 🎉😷

Thanks for stopping by! ♥

great-vibes.regular (1)

Lingering Hope

My goal for the New Year is to upload more content without setting a set-in-stone schedule. Lately, I have been bothered by the amount of negativity taking place in the WP community. That being said, I am not going to let one Torontonian blogger dim my sparkle! ✨ I recently caught on that she has been purposely shadow-banning me on her blog by removing me from her follower list and sending all of my comments to her spam folder. Seriously, who goes out of their way to remove followers?

This past week, I have been meditating and reflecting on a few things and I realize that drama, both offline and online, negatively impacts my mental health and well-being. This week, I started cutting back on the amount of time I spend on my phone, especially social media, even though the bulk of the drama is taking place in the WordPress community. I don’t think that she and her followers (some are my followers as well) know that I have read their comments. Be careful what you say, because not only do your words dig deep but they also say a lot about your character. Personally, I love how Ryan Biddulph from Twitter handles this kinda thing.

Lingering Hope

Disclaimer: This poem was originally posted as its own daughter page, so nobody stumbled upon it. Even though this poem is unrelated to my little rant *above* I still wanted to include the poem in this blog post, as a way to bring more content to you all. If you like this poem, feel free to check out my other poetry musings here

Thanks for reading! ♡

great-vibes.regular (1)

12 Days of Finals

Merry Christmas elf-ryone! 💚 Thanks, @ElsieLMC for coming up with that clever introduction. It’s very punny and I hope you don’t mind that I used your intro here. This year, I wanted to dress up my son as a cute elf but was unable to find an elf outfit. Maybe it will happen next year! 🎅🎄 I wanted to share with you some photos of our little Christmas tree. Most of the decorations came from Dollarama. As many of you know, this girl is frugal. Even this trademark wrapping paper came from Dollarama. 😊

12 Days of Finals 📖

When I was in university, I wrote a rough outline for a parody of the song, “The 12 Days of Christmas.” I never got around to editing and uploading this parody and at one point, I even forgot that I had the rough draft on my notepad. I figured that there is no better time than Christmas Day to upload this parody for all of my readers. If you enjoyed reading this parody, feel free to check out my other poetry musings here.

[Verse 1]
On the first day of finals,
My professor gave to me
A ton of anxiety.

[Verse 2]
On the second day of finals,
My professor gave to me
Two Advil pills,
And a ton of anxiety.

[Verse 3]
On the third day of finals,
My professor gave to me
Three Dunkin’ runs,
Two Advil pills,
And a ton of anxiety.

[Verse 4]
On the fourth day of finals,
My professor gave to me
Four restless nights,
Three Dunkin’ runs,
Two Advil pills,
And a ton of anxiety.

[Verse 5]
On the fifth day of finals,
My professor gave to me
Five all-nighters,
Four restless nights,
Three Dunkin’ runs,
Two Advil pills,
And a ton of anxiety.

[Verse 6]
On the sixth day of finals,
My professor gave to me
Six study parities,
Five all-nighters,
Four restless nights,
Three Dunkin’ runs,
Two Advil pills,
And a ton of anxiety.

[Verse 7]
On the seventh day of finals,
My professor gave to me
Seven Venti coffees,
Six study parties,
Five all-nighters,
Four restless nights,
Three Dunkin’ runs,
Two Advil pills,
And a ton of anxiety.

[Verse 8]
On the eigth day of finals,
My professor gave to me
Eight sugar crashes,
Seven Venti coffees,
Six study parties,
Five all-nighters,
Four restless nights,
Three Dunkin’ runs,
Two Advil pills,
And a ton of anxiety.

[Verse 9]
On the ninth day of finals,
My professor gave to me
Nine cram-sessions,
Eight sugar crashes,
Seven Venti coffees,
Six study parties,
Five all-nighters,
Four restless nights,
Three Dunkin’ runs,
Two Advil pills,
And a ton of anxiety.

[Verse 10]
On the tenth day of finals,
My professor gave to me
Ten people praying,
Nine cram-sessions,
Eight sugar crashes,
Seven Venti coffees,
Six study parties,
Five all-nighters,
Four restless nights,
Three Dunkin’ runs,
Two Advil pills,
And a ton of anxiety.

[Verse 11]
On the eleventh day of finals,
My professor gave to me
Eleven temper tantrums,
Ten people praying,
Nine cram-sessions,
Eight sugar crashes,
Seven Venti coffees,
Six study parties,
Five all-nighters,
Four restless nights,
Three Dunkin’ runs,
Two Advil pills,
And a ton of anxiety.

[Verse 12]
On the twelth day of finals,
My professor gave to me
Twelve clocks a-ticking,
Eleven temper tantrums,
Ten people praying,
Nine cram-sessions,
Eight sugar crashes,
Seven Venti coffees,
Six study parties,
Five all-nighters,
Four restless nights,
Three Dunkin’ runs,
Two Advil pills,
And a ton of anxiety!

great-vibes.regular (1)

Healthier Banana Muffins

Disclaimer: Now I can officially say that we are all caught up with the recipes! Any new recipes that are posted in the future will be new blog posts. I am happy about that! 😄 This recipe was originally posted as a separate page on June 10, 2019. I changed it to reflect the direction that this blog is headed in. Thank you for understanding! 🙊🍌

Since I am trying to eat as clean as possible by cutting down on my sugar consumption, I wanted a muffin recipe that I could easily grab for a quick, easy breakfast. I crave carbs so if I am going to eat carbs, I would prefer them to be cleaner than what you would typically find at the grocery store or local coffee shop. Finally, I found a recipe that I really like so I wanted to share it with you. I modified the recipe slightly which was based on the original recipe from www.gimmedelicious.com.

My photo didn’t do these muffins much justice but I added a photo anyways. Voila! My family loves these muffins and it is so easy to whip up a batch when you need a quick muffin fix. Let’s get started, shall we? 

HEALTHIER BRAN MUFFINS

Servings: 12                          Time: 45 minutes                          Difficulty: easy

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup mashed bananas (approx. 2 medium bananas)
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease or line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
  2. Combine whole wheat flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
  3. Crack eggs into a bowl and whisk the egg. Then add plain yogurt, maple syrup, mashed bananas, and coconut oil to the egg mixture. For a smooth consistency, use a blender to pulverize the wet ingredients. I use my Vitamix blender but a simple blender works too.
  4. Add wet ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients and stir gently with a plastic spatula until ingredients are evenly mixed.
  5. Spoon into well-greased or lined muffin tins.
  6. Bake muffins for 20-22 minutes at 350ºF.
banana-2850841_960_720
Mind your banana. Photo from www.pixabay.com

Thanks for stopping by! ♥

great-vibes.regular (1)

Banana Bran Muffins

Disclaimer: This recipe was originally posted a very long time ago in a land far, far away. I am reposting the recipe as a blog post to reflect the direction that this blog is headed in. Thank you for understanding! 🙊🍌

I have a challenge for you! Using everything you have in your cupboard, come up with a recipe and actually make it. You can “cheat” by referencing google for inspiration if you need some ideas. Tomorrow, do the exact same thing. I bet that you will come up with two different recipes without the need to buy any of your ingredients. Keep repeating this process and make a mental note to add your recipes to a database for easy access. If you do this for 30 days, then you should end up with ~20-30 unique recipes for your family.

I live in Canada and our degrees are measured in Celsius, not Fahrenheit. For baking purposes, I use Fahrenheit because it’s universal and easier to follow. But if you tell me that the temperature today is 45 outside, you’re not fooling anyone given that it’s the middle of November and there is snow on the ground. I will assume that you have mastered teleportation and are probably enjoying a Daiquiri on some tropical island….. and you didn’t invite me, how rude.

This week I made banana bran muffins and the batter was delicious. However, the muffins were dry and slightly overcooked, so I would suggest baking them for 15-18 minutes at 350ºF instead of 20 minutes at 375ºF. You can find the original recipe here.

BANANA BRAN MUFFINS

Servings: 12                          Time: 40 minutes                          Difficulty: easy

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup mashed bananas (approx. 2 medium bananas)
  • 1 1/2 cups bran mix
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup flaked coconut (optional)
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup canola oil

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease or line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
  2. Combine bran with whole wheat flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and coconut (optional).
  3. Crack eggs into a bowl and whisk the egg. Then add milk, mashed bananas, milk, and oil to the egg mixture. For a smooth consistency, use a blender to pulverize the wet ingredients. I use my Vitamix blender but a simple blender works too.
  4. Add wet ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients and stir gently with a plastic spatula until ingredients are evenly mixed.
  5. Spoon into well-greased or lined muffin tins.
  6. Bake muffins for 15-18 minutes at 350ºF.
banana-2850841_960_720
Mind your banana. Photo from  http://www.pixabay.com

Thanks for stopping by! ♥

great-vibes.regular (1)