Category Archives: Health & Beauty

Daring Greatly

My internal battle between wanting to play it safe and wanting to live a creative life is a long one. In Junior High, I wanted to be a writer and joined the journalist staff, but very quickly realized that I did not like my writing critiqued and so I changed course. In college, I wanted to be an interior designer. I was completely in love and enthralled by my History of Furniture course. Yet when it came to my personal designs being critiqued, I hated it and ultimately fled. My defense was always “how can something with no right answer, be wrong?”

The strange thing is that while I clearly did not want my creative work to be criticized, in all other areas of life I handled criticism pretty well. Professionally I used the only time I ever got fired, the worst criticism imaginable, to grow and become a better version of myself. On a personal level if a friend or lover criticized me, I often mulled it over in my head, dissecting how much truth there was in it. Discarding the useless bits but holding on to the true parts, using them to try to do better.

But creatively I just couldn’t take it. So I settled for the least creative degree imaginable in Information System Security. A degree that 8 years later, I have never used because I can’t actually bring myself to get a job in the field.

Over the years, as my passion for baking, crafting, scrap-booking, party planning, decorating, writing, & photography developed, I noticed that they all have a common thread of making things beautiful. I also noticed just how happy I am when creating.  So after years of the same internal question “what do I want to be when I grow up?” I found a home in Living Darling, an outlet for all of my creative passions.

I was immediately flooded with excitement and joy as I worked on learning new things like Photoshop and how to design my website, taking pictures, creating posts and sharing my passion with friends and family. But I was also overwhelmed by the countless things I didnt know how to do and constantly confronted by my fear of being criticized.

My imagination went wild, taking on the form of various hero lifestyle bloggers and designers that I admire, each of them questioning things like my authenticity, uniqueness, and style.

With each blog post I swept these fears aside and kept moving forward but unfortunately they persisted. Slowly chipping away at my motivation and excitement. Until last week when I stumbled upon a forum devoted to bashing one of my favorite bloggers.

I was honestly surprised that such a place existed.  But like most figurative train wrecks, it was hard to look away.  I spent a couple of hours reading through 6 years of post, searching them for a truth that I had maybe missed after all these years of admiration. Trying to reconcile my version of her blog with this one.  Was I wrong to love her work? Was she really such a monster?  I went back to her blog and her Instagram and then back to these horrible comments. And what I found, buried deep within most of those critical posts was jealousy. Jealousy of her success, of the picturesque life she has curated, of her hustle.

I spent days thinking about this forum, shocked that one of my favorite blogs could inspire so many vitrolic comments.  And then I read this quote by Theodore Roosevelt



Then all at once I felt a huge flood of relief at the inevitability of criticism.   We live in a world full of critics and a vastness of diverse opinions. There is no escaping someone who thinks they could do it better.  If these horrible things are being said about this highly successful, talented blogger, they will always be said about anyone who puts themselves out there in the arena.

In hind sight, I wish I had developed a thick skin early on and accepted that criticism has its place.  That while being vulnerable to criticism sucks, there are much worse places to be like the “cold and timid” sidelines.  But enough with the regrets, I can only hope that someday I will have put myself out there enough that there will be pages of people taking the time to critique my work.   And whether I know victory or defeat, here is to daring greatly.


Breakfast Salads

Have you ever had a breakfast salad? I know what your thinking…a salad is NOT a breakfast food. Breakfast has rules. Why do you want to break the sacred rules of breakfast?

But if you really think about it, there are way too many silly rules we follow blindly without really thinking about the why. So many of our breakfast foods are born out of convenience.  I totally get it, its way easier to throw a bowl of cereal together for my toddler and grab a piece of toast as I run out the door for work, than to cut up fresh produce, plate a salad, and eat it as drive down the road.

That is where this post comes in.  I have designed the perfect breakfast salad that you can do prep for on the weekend, make the night before,  and travels well.

But before I get into the how. Lets talk about the WHY.

Back in 2006 my little Brother Aaron shared with me this article ( “The Men Who Live Forever,” from Mens Health) . It is a bit of a marathon to read but so worth it, especially if you are a runner or looking to lose weight. To sum up the article, there is a tribe of super athletes in south america that live crazy healthy, long lives.  They can run 100 mile distances well into their 60’s.  Their society is free of murder, suicide, and depression.  After spending time with the tribe, the author takes what he learned about their diet, philosophies, & running techniques and spent a year training to return and run a 50 mile race. To emulate their diet he starts eating salad for breakfast.

This was the first time I had heard about breakfast salads. My mind was BLOWN!!!  and I have been breakfast salad-ing it ever since.

It really is a truly refreshing way to start the day. bs6lowres

The key to a great breakfast salad is a heaping handful of spinach and mixed greens, seasonal fruit, crisp red, yellow, & orange peppers, a nut mixture that adds crunch and protein (I do equal parts dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, and slivered almonds), a little feta, and a sweet/tangy dressing.

Corn and black beans would be a great addition to this salad.



I start out with all of this, wash & dry it, cut up the peppers and pineapple, mix my nut mixture, and wind up with this…


You can either put your salad together the night before or in the morning. It takes 5 minutes.  My favorite way to transport salad dressing is in a syringe.  It makes measuring a correct serving size super easy.


I hope you enjoy a new kind of breakfast that gives you energy, is refreshing, and frankly feels like a treat.  Forget those silly rules born out of convenience, grab a breakfast salad and start making your own rules!


What to Expect from Living Darling

I love to cook, bake, plan parties, decorate, and craft. I love being a mom. I want to improve my health in lasting, lifelong ways…Travel the world and create treasured memories with the ones I love.  I want to treasure the little moments.

So here is what you can expect from Living Darling:


Delicious recipes, my ideas on health and fitness, craft projects, decorating ideas, a million posts about my obsession with oatmeal and breakfast salads, parenting tips, party planning, my Husband Juices’ list of Honey-do’s, and pretty much anything that tickles my fancy.

All of these things are in pursuit of a darling life.

I hope you enjoy the journey with me.