Eating Clean: Cauliflower Crust Pizza

When people are trying to eat healthy, one of the hardest things to give up is pizza. There is a reason it is American’s favorite food. The gooey hot cheese, the perfectly soft yet crunchy dough, sweet tangy sauce and yummy toppings are just too delicious to refuse. Oops, even that got me drooling a bit. But you don’t have to throw your plans of eating clean and healthy out the window for that one slice of greasy pizza. Luckily, there is a healthy alternative for pizza.

Enter: Cauliflower Pizza!

Unlike regular pizza that has dough made of flour and sugar, this crust is made out of cauliflower!

Like you, I was a little skeptical about using cauliflower to make a pizza crust. I mean I don’t want it ON my pizza, why would I want the foundation to be made from it? But trust me when I say that for a healthy alternative to pizza, it is pretty impressive and tasty.

Hold up, let’s be honest here. It is not the same as eating a flour pizza crust, so I won’t pretend it is. It still feels like you are eating pizza, you just can’t go into it expecting it to taste the exact same. But it doesn’t feel like you are eating cauliflower either. In fact, if you tried it before you knew it was cauliflower, I’m not sure you’d guess what it was. It still has that same cheesy and delicious taste just so much healthier! Do you like a crispy crunchy edge to your crust? Cauliflower pizza does that too.

Pizza is one of my favorite foods but I don’t like the guilt or how I feel physically after I eat it. Between a veggie crust and veggie toppings, I feel good eating this. Just like flour pizza, you can add a variety of toppings all to your heart’s desire: mushrooms, spinach, onions, black olives, squash, eggplant, cheese, zucchini, and tomatoes, really, the options are unlimited! You can top the pizza with whatever you like, just make sure the toppings are pre-cooked since you’ll only be broiling the pizza for a few minutes.***

So yes, pizza CAN actually be healthy and taste good too!

Overall, I am very pleased with the outcome and will most definitely be making it again. I hope you give it a try and enjoy it too!

RECIPE: (adapted from here and here)

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Ingredients:

1 head of (riced) cauliflower
1/2 - 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese* (I used part skim)
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 - 2/3 tsp Italian seasoning
2/3 tsp crushed garlic
1/2 tsp garlic salt
Salt & pepper to taste
olive oil (optional) ** 
Pizza sauce
Choice of toppings***
*Depends on how cheesy you like it. I’d use more if I could.
**This made my pizza more oily than I would have liked. Next time I’ll skip it.
***Meats and veggies need to be pre-cooked before placing them on the pizza. After the crust is baked, the pizza is only under the broiler to melt the cheese, not long enough to properly and safely cook meats and veggies.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. (I used aluminum and it ripped easily)
“Rice” the Cauliflower:

Take 1 large head of fresh cauliflower, remove stems and leaves, and chop the florets into chunks. Add to food processor and pulse until it looks like grain. Do not purée it by over-pulsing. I am pretty sure you can use a cheese grater if you don’t have a food processor. Put the grated cauliflower into a microwave safe bowl and cook for 8 minutes (time depends on microwave power, so you may need to reduce or add to this cooking time). There is enough natural moisture in the cauliflower so there is no need to add water. It will cook itself. One large head should produce approximately 3 cups of riced cauliflower. The remainder can be used to make additional pizza crusts immediately, or can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Place the cooked Cauliflower Rice on a tea towel and squeeze out all the water. as much of the water as possible. You want it as dry as possible so there won’t be extra moisture in the crust. Excess moisture will prevent the crust from crisping.
In a medium bowl combine the dry Cauli-Rice, egg, mozzarella, and spices and mix to combine well.
Cauliflower rice mix
Press the cauliflower mixture into an even thickness (about 1/4 – inch thick) on the prepared pan.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the crust is firm and golden brown.
Baked cauliflower crust
Remove the pan from the oven and turn on the broiler.
Top the cooked crust with sauce, cheese and toppings of your choice.  Place under the broiler until the cheese is bubbly and melted. Approx 5 minutes.
cauliflower pizza ready to eat

Look how yummy that looks! I only added cheese this time, but next time, bring on the toppings! ENJOY!!

In full disclosure, mine turned out a little mushier than it was supposed to. As you can see, this is what happens when you don’t get enough moisture out of the cauli-rice. I clearly needed to put it back in and cook it a little longer. When I used a spatula to scoop it up at first, it crumbled into a gooey glob of goodness! Because it has a lighter consistency, it is hard to eat with your hands; it is much easier to use a fork. If you ask me, I’ll take eating pizza with a fork any day if it means I can feel better about what I’m eating.

gooey goodness of cauliflower

{If you try this out, I’m interested to know your thoughts! If you adjusted the recipe at all,
what did you do and how did it work out?! Feel free to share comments below!}
I am not a dietician and don’t pretend to be. Please consult your Dr. for questions and nutritional advice. Recipes and comments are my take on Eating Clean recipes. I cannot guarantee that recipes are 100% Clean. They are loosely based on what I interpret or consider acceptable options for this lifestyle.
Advertisements

How to Pack for Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro: Tips, Gear and Advice

When I started to prepare for my adventure to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, I was overwhelmed with thoughts and fears of what would happen if I didn’t have the right gear. It’s not like you can go to a store if you forgot something once you’re on the mountain or even in Tanzania for that matter. I spent a lot of time preparing myself and making sure I had ALL of the right gear, making sure I had every possible situation covered. So if you are asking yourself, “How do you even pack for a trip like this?” I’m here to help. I wish I had this list (with photos, too!) when I was packing so I hope this answers your questions and helps make packing easier.

mountains

The Porters are limited to carrying a maximum of 15 kg (35 lbs) of luggage for you. They are life savers and I really don’t know how they do it. Be sure to thank them and show your gratitude.

INSIDER TIPS AND ADVICE

  • Pack light but for all seasons/conditions. You go through 5 temperate climates in just a few days. Be prepared for that.
  • LAYERS LAYERS LAYERS – Lots of layers and things you can re-wear.
  • NO COTTON – it is said that it doesn’t dry at high altitude and you don’t want to chafe. Stick with breathable and moisture wicking fabrics.
  • Pack one complete hiking outfit on the plane, including a long sleeve shirt, hiking pants, underwear, socks, and hiking boots. You can rent nearly everything but you don’t want to risk blisters ruining your whole climb.
  • Be selective in what you take with you. The less you have to carry the easier your hike it and the porters are limited to what they can carry for you.
  • Be prepared to not shower for a week, to take wet wipe baths and to squat behind rocks. Don’t worry. All the cool kids are doing it.
  • It gets cold on the first night.
  • Be prepared to wear the same thing day in and out. The air is thin and cold so you don’t (or probably won’t) sweat or stink like you normally would after a week without a shower.
  • Get a camera that is small and fits in your hip pockets of the backpack. You want easy access and don’t want to carry it or have to take off the daypack to take pictures.
  • The easiest way to keep going is to not look too far ahead. Do take in scenery but focus on one step at a time. It can be mentally exhausting to see the camp site ahead but know it is still 4 hours away. Be like the elephants and watch the feet of the person in front of you. Before you know it, you’ll reach your destination.
  • Pay for the package that has hot meals included instead of box lunches. Trust me.
  • Get a toilet tent. It is worth every penny – especially if you are a woman. Again, trust me.
  • Save your iPod battery for summit night. Music makes it SO much easier.
  • Do you wear contacts? I was worried about this but had no problem with the clean water they provided.
  • Ladies- I found putting my hair in pig-tail braids helped keep it cleaner and easier to maintain for 7 days sans shower.
  • Before you leave home make sure you can layer and wear all your clothes on top of each other: Don’t buy all small sizes and then get to the mountain and realize you can’t layer them. Big Uh Oh.
  • Don’t carry any water on the outside during summit night. It will freeze. Protect it somehow. (Insulation or clothing.)

 

One of the reasons that I selected Climbing Kilimanjaro as my guide company is because I was able to rent gear through them. Instead of forking over tons of money for new gear, most of which I would likely not use again or often enough to justify the cost, I opted to rent some stuff. Most guide groups offer you the option of renting gear for a small price. Added benefit – I didn’t have to pack and schlep as much (or the heavy bulky things) in my suitcases. I was worried about using someone else’s sleeping bag. I got over that real fast when it was warm.

RENTED

  • Insulated Down Parka
  • Walking Poles (These were my BFF. Seriously, I don’t know how people climbed without them.)
  • Sleeping Bag: Warm, four-season sleeping bag. -15° C/ 0° F
  • Warm thick winter Gloves
  • Gaiters (apparently NOT one-size-fits all. Try these on first. Mine were too small…)
  • Balaclava
  • Toilet Tent (DO THIS. IT IS WORTH YOUR MONEY!)
  • Sleeping pad
  • Duffel bag

SLEEPING AND CARRYING EQUIPMENT

  • Medium sized daypack (25-30 Liters)  *To carry only the things you need during the day like clothes, water, raincoat, warm clothing, camera and food.
  • Daypack rain shield cover-  to protect from soaking your belongings. My daypack came with one.
  • Sleeping bag liner – brought but never used.
  • Dry Sacks or plastic bags to protect equipment from rain. I had a 4 L, 8L, 16L and 32 L Sea to Summit bags to stay organized.

DRINKING

  • Camelbak 32 oz water bottle
  • Platypus Water Bag – Perfect and ideal so you don’t have to stop to drink.
  • Water filtering iodine chemical tablets.

BASE LAYERS

  • NO COTTON. Wear fabric this is breathable, synthetic and moisture wicking.
  • Moisture wicking long sleeve tee-shirts (2)
  • Moisture wicking tee-shirts (2)
  • Moisture wicking sports bra tank (1)
  • Moisture wicking sports bra (1)
  • Long underwear pants (1)
  • Underwear

MIDDLE LAYERS

OUTER LAYERS

  • Waterproof hard shell jacket with hood – breathable and water-resistant.
  • Fleece pants (1) – I only wore these summit night over long underwear and under my waterproof pants
  • Hiking pants (with zippers to turn into shorts) (1)
  • Waterproof pants (1)
  • Gloves or mittens – warm, waterproof recommended
  • Medium gloves. Something warmer than glove liners but not as heavy as summit gloves for daily hiking.
  • Glove liners – thin and synthetic, to be worn under gloves for added warm and protection from frostbite
  • Knit hat
  • Balaclava
  • Sun hat with brim or Bandana ( I used bandana)

FOOTWEAR

  • Ankle high supportive hiking boots (broken in)
  • Shoes for lounging around camp. You’ll want to give your feet a break. I used Keens because they were easy to slip on over socks. (Also – bring a bag to keep your dirty camp shoes in)
  • Hiking socks 3 pairs (Smartwool suggested)
  • Sock liners- 2 pairs Thin, synthetic and one size smaller. They stretch and then cause blisters.

MISC. & PERSONAL 

  • Toiletries -(soap, tooth brush, toilet articles, tooth paste etc.)
  • Sun screen – didn’t use. Oops.
  • Bug spray- deet 25-50%
  • Toilet paper (you can buy travel rolls from Target or take the cardboard out of a roll and put in plastic zip lock bag)
  • Headlamp and batteries
  • Sunglasses – UV protection
  • Camera
  • Extra memory card
  • Extra batteries for camera & headlamp (leave extra batteries in a pair of socks to keep warm.)Batteries don’t do well in the cold and high altitude. Also, check the camera specs before you go to be prepared. You don’t want to have a surprise when you get to the top as you probably won’t want to climb to the summit again just to get that snapshot.
  • High energy snacks – trail mix, cliff bars, chocolate bars or m&m’s
  • Vagina wipes
  • Wet wipes for hygiene and cleaning –  more than you think you need. then add more. You don’t need expensive camping brand. $1.99 Wet Ones from Target will work.
  • Cotton Q-tips
  • Anti-itch cream for bug bites. FYI the mosquitoes are enormous!
  • iPod- but save your battery for summit night.
  • Small unbreakable travel mirror
  • Face Wash – I found it easiest to use Neutragena Face Wipes
  • Quick Dry Towel (optional)
  • Plastic bag for trash – You cannot leave anything on the mountain but the porters can collect the trash for you
  • Sun screen and lip protection, SPF 30+
  • Ziploc bags, to protect camera, binoculars, etc. from dust
  • Contact solution & case
  • Journal and pen *It goes by in a blur and you’ll be grateful you wrote it down
  • Cards, book, etc. something to entertain yourself around the campsite
  • Money to tip porters & guides
  • Dry shampoo
  • Nalgene bottle to pee in – I cut myself off at 6pm so I didn’t have to go because at night the last thing you want to do is leave the warmness of your tent for the frigid air to pee.
  • Go Girl – pee funnel to pee into bottle.
  • No need to bring makeup.
  • Deodorant
  • Baby powder to help keep feet dry (optional)
  • Sterile needles (Optional – in case you need an injection and don’t trust the hygiene conditions)
  • Panty liners to keep underwear cleaner longer (suggested)
  • Did you get all your shots needed to enter the country? Visit CDC website
  • I brought Just In Case Meds: Ciprofloxacin (travelers diarrhea & bladder infection) and Azithromycin (aka Z-pack)

PERSONAL FIRST AID KIT

  • Advil – Heard this helps with AMS too. Took 2 every morning and never ached or got sick.
  • First-aid kit that includes bandages, tape, blister kit, antibacterial cream, antibiotics for travelers’ diarrhea, antimalarials, antihistamines, cold and flu medications, throat lozenges, and altitude medications.
  • Blister kit – with tape, Neosporin and Band-Aids (both regular and blister Band-Aids) I used this even as preventative measures.
  • Pepto Bismol
  • Immodium for anti-diarrhea
  • Malaria tablets – I took generic Malarone
  • Diamox (Acetazolamide)-Used to prevent/combat altitude sickness. I took generic brand and had no symptoms of AMS. There were 4 of us that climbed together, 3 took meds 1 didn’t. The one girl was fine until summit night. She was the only one who got sick. Down fall to it – it is a diarrhetic so it makes you pee more. I cut myself off from drinking water at 6pm so I didn’t have to leave my tent in the bitter cold to pee and it worked like a charm.

PAPERWORK  (I Used 4L water proof Sea to Summit bag to protect passport, money and valueables)

  • Airline ticket
  • Passport
  • Visa
  • Prescriptions
  • Yellow fever certificate (if required)
  • Proof of travel insurance
  • Medical insurance
  • Medical Evacuation insurance

Lastly, the most important thing to bring with you is a positive mental attitude. As cheesy as that sounds, this really can be what makes it or breaks it for you to make it to the summit sign. After 5 days, I came to the top with an hour and a half left and wanted to give up but it was that belief that, “Yes I Can Do It!” that made it possible. You Can Do It!  Good luck and have fun on your journey!

If you have any questions on what to pack or what it is like, please feel free to shoot me an email. I’m excited for you to embark on this amazing life changing journey.

Did you climb? What did you bring with you that you found helpful or necessary that I didn’t list here? Please leave a note in the comment section to pass on your wisdom to other potential climbers. 

Photos are either mine or Grace Gan

Never Drink Absinthe in the Shower & Other Things I’ve Learned from Travel | Travel/Volunteer Guest Post Series: by Simone

If you’ve never read Skinny Dip you are missing out. Simone is a great story teller, one of the funniest, most open and honest bloggers out there. Oh, did I mention her blog is mostly, okay, all about sex? I met her last year at BiSC and had the pleasure of getting to spend more one-on-one time together this year. She offers some quality advice on things she learned while traveling with teenagers. 3 & 8, in particular, are good reminders about the value of travel.

*******

Travel has always been high on my list of priorities. When I graduated university in 2004 with a degree in Anthropology all I wanted to do was travel the world and experience all of the places I had only read about in textbooks. However, after 4 years of working multiple jobs and taking out student loans to put myself through school, I was completely broke with hefty loan payments looming in the very near future. What’s a broke girl with globetrotting dreams to do? I needed to find a job that would pay me to travel, so when it came time to look for my first “real job” I turned to the travel industry. After a very brief stint as a flight attendant for a Canadian airline, I realized working in the sky was not for me and I gladly accepted a desk job with a international company that specialized in educational travel.

For 3 years I had the best and worst job in the world.

I worked in a department that sold and produced international educational tours for high school students. If your high school ever did one of those “Go to Europe for 10 days and see 5 countries!” class trips, there’s a good chance that my former company was responsible. My job specifically was to sell these tours to teachers and then work with them throughout the booking process from recruiting students, booking the tour and following up with any “issues” once they got back (I’ll explain about that last part in a second)

The big upside to my job was that I got to work with some of the best people ever (many of whom are still good friends) and once a year I got to go on a free trip. In the three years I worked there I travelled to Germany, Paris, The South of France, Rome, Florence, Tuscany, Naples and spent 17 days in Greece taking in Athens and the Islands.

The downside? Most of this travel involved actually travelling with high school students. Yes, high school students – as in actual teenagers. From my experience, when you mix students and travel, crazy shit inevitably happens. The other 50 weeks of the year when I wasn’t traipsing around Europe, I was at my desk for 10 to 12 hours a day trying to “fix the crazy.” From exploding luggage, sinking cruise ships, bizarro teachers and stolen snowmobiles, to bus accidents and students giving birth on tour, you haven’t experienced “crazy” until you’ve worked in student travel. Anything that could go wrong, usually does at some point and you have to fix it. Yes you. The recent graduate who’s making 27k a year.

Here’s 10 life lessons I’ve learned from travelling and working in the industry:

1. Roll with the punches. This is true in both life and travel as both are totally unpredictable. You can prepare all you want but there’s always going to be something unexpected that happens. If you’re travelling, stay calm and work it out. Don’t let the fact that things aren’t absolutely “perfect” ruin your trip.

2. Your hotel room doesn’t matter. Ok, so I hope none of you ever have to have the following conversation with your travel agent: “So, that hotel you booked us into in Rome has blood stains on the wall” (true story) but at the end of the day, as long as your hotel room is clean and safe the rest doesn’t matter. It’s always amazing to stay at a super luxe hotel, however in my opinion, if you’re “doing travel right” you won’t be spending much time in your room anyways.

3. Not everything is going to be like home and that’s a good thing: I remember sitting in a restaurant in Nice with a group of students and chaperones from South Carolina, eating a plate of roasted chicken and fries that the waiter had just served us. As one of chaperones bit into her chicken she screamed out in horror: “This ain’t Southern Fried Chicken!” No, no it’s not – BECAUSE YOU’RE IN FRANCE. Although sometimes regional differences can be unsettling (this chicken did taste pretty weird, dude) try to embrace them. If we wanted things to always be the same we’d never leave home.

Hanging out in Delphi, Greece 2006.

4. Drinking Absinthe in the shower is a very bad idea: This sounds like it should be yet another story about me making a drunken fool out of myself, but for once it’s not! Two of the students I travelled with purchased a bottle of Absinthe in Rome and decided to spend the evening drinking it in their hotel room. In an Absinthe fuelled haze they thought it was a good idea to turn on the shower, promptly forgetting about it for the rest of the night. In the morning they woke up to a flooded hotel room. The lesson here: don’t consume strange alcohol or substances in foreign places, or at least not while you’re bathing.

5. Some people have a very bad sense of geography: Don’t assume that just because someone is booking a trip with you that they have any clue about where they are going…even if they’re a teacher. For example, “Monocco” isn’t a real country, nor is “Budapest” a country (and no, there’s currently not a war happening there). You can’t take a “quick ferry” from Costa Rica to Puerto Rico and driving from London to Athens isn’t “an easy day trip.” I know these things because I am Canadian, don’t live in an Igloo and have access to these things called maps.

6. My knack for attracting weirdos is an international phenomenon: While walking through a square in Florence I was stopped by a man who claimed to be a modelling agent. He asked me if I wanted to go out that night and “party with some of his girls” I’m pretty sure by “modelling agent” he meant “pimp” and by “party” he meant “recruit me into the white slave trade”. Lesson here: trust your gut. If something seems “off” – run in the other direction.

Posing in front of the Acropolis in Athens

7. If you’re going to engage in questionable behaviour, always lock the door: This goes out to the group of students who thought it was a good idea to make a homemade porno during their class trip to Italy, only to have their teacher walk in on them while filming. If you’re going to do something creepy like that, at least have the curtesy to lock the door. Your teacher now has that traumatic image burned into her brain forever, as do I.

8. Every travel experience changes you: No matter where you go, there’s always value in travel. I can’t think of a single trip I’ve taken – even if it’s just a weekend getaway – that hasn’t given me a new perspective of some kind.

9. Be nice to your travel agent: It’s bad karma to constantly complain and yell at her until she cries. If you don’t she might enact her silent revenge by specifying that the airline serve you “baby food” when it comes time to order your airplane meal. (That guy never complained again.)

Sitting on the black sand beach in Santorini – one of my favourite places in the whole world.

10. I’m stronger and more capable than I ever thought: I’ve consoled a crying father who hadn’t been able to get in touch with his son when the London subway bombings took place. I’ve also dealt with a tour that had to be evacuated from a sinking cruise ship and re-booked a group of 30 students who were stranded in Miami from the darkness of my living room at 3:30 AM. While I was doing these things, I kept saying “I’m clearly not equipped to deal with any of this” but the truth is I am and that’s something to be proud of.

What have you learned from travelling?

Bio: Simone is a freelance writer and author of the sexy and irreverent blog Skinny Dip. When she’s not writing her heart out, she loves wandering her city with a large cup of coffee in hand, in search of the next great story. You can visit her blog or follow her on twitter or catch up with her on facebook.

Apartment Living: How To Have A Stress Free Move

I hadn’t planned on moving this year. I loved my apartment. It was a huge two-bed two-bath apartment with a massive walk-in closet, a balcony (and grill!), a fitness center and sundeck. But when things shifted and I could not afford to stay there on my own, I knew I had to move out. Moving can be as stressful or as easy as you make it. Here are some tips that helped me make the move as smooth as possible.

Plan Ahead:

  • Do your homework: Start researching and visiting potential new places about 30 -45 days out. The stress of not knowing if you will be homeless is enough to give you an ulcer.
  • Research multiple moving companies: Compare moving companies to see which fits best with your schedule and budget.
  • DO NOT wait until 1 week before to schedule your movers. Weekend and end of the month moves fill quickly, so schedule this as soon as you know your new address and desired moving date. Do you have an elevator that needs to be reserved? The longer you wait, the harder it is to coordinate the buildings and to get the time/date that you want.
  • Call to confirm mover/vendor appointments a 3-5 days prior to your move to avoid any surprises.
  • Create a “change of address” check list of vendors. Go online or call (credit-card companies, subscriptions, work documents, bills, bank) to include your new address.
  • Get your mail forwarded by going to USPS website 7-10 days before you move. *Note: most magazine subscriptions do not get forwarded. You must manually change this online.
  • Contact utility companies to activate service at your new address and to cancel or transfer from your old address. You don’t want to move in with no electricity or heavens forbid, internet!

Organize/Packing Strategies:

  • Bankers boxes are great for the heavier items. They are smaller and have handles so this makes it easier to lift and carry.
  • Get wardrobe boxes! If your moving company doesn’t provide these – this is worth the investment. Instead of shoving your clothes in garbage bags, boxes or suitcases and then having to spend the time to hang everything back up – it is a simple transfer. Simply move them from the closet to the hanging box and directly into the new closet. It makes unpacking a snap and keeps clothes as virtually wrinkle free. Plus, it helps you feel productive and less overwhelmed when it comes to unpacking.
  • Group similar items together. Pack books with books and DVDs with DVDs. Keep kitchen items in one box and bathroom supplies in another.
  • Pack cleaning supplies last so you can do a final clean before you leave the keys behind and a quick clean at the new place.
  • Make a To Donate box to give to the local shelter.
  • Label boxes: Identify general contents, location to be delivered and if it is fragile. This helps you unpack more efficiently and helps the movers know where to place them. Use sharpie pens or stickers. This packing strategy can eliminate a lot of stress.
  • Use towels & blankets to wrap fragile items. This accomplishes two things – it serves as protection for the breakable item as well as a place to pack the blanket, thus leaving more room in other boxes for other things.
  • Do not overpack a box. Although it may all fit, remember they get heavy fast and that you have to be able to lift and move the box.
  • If you live in a building that has doormen or maintenance men – ask them for boxes. Or go to your local grocery store and see if they have left over boxes they’d like to recycle. Boxes aren’t cheap.
  • If you have something you are afraid might spill – like an olive oil pourer – tape a cotton swab to the spout before wrapping.
  • Do not wait until the night before to start packing. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you run out of tape/boxes, all the stores are closed and the movers are coming in 4 hours. It will be a lot less overwhelming if you make it a gradual process.
  • Use a buddy system: packing is more fun when you have someone to help keep you focused and motived.
  • If you rent your own moving truck – put the big heavy stuff (the couch, bed, tables, TV’s) in the truck last so they are the first to come out. This way you can determine where you want them to go and place the boxes around them rather than have to trip over boxes and move the heavy stuff again.
  • If you move on your own – get a dolly. It will save you weeks of aches and pains and medical bills.
  • Pack perishable food last.

Eliminate:

  • Moving is a great opportunity to purge those belongings that you have been unnecessarily hoarding. Go through your belongings for things to throw away or donate. The more you keep, the more effort required to move it and unpack it. Do you really need those magazines from three years ago? Those shoes you haven’t worn in 5 years? That half empty hotel shampoo bottle?
  • Check expiration dates: Go through your cupboard and toss anything that is expired, will expire within a month of moving or has is 1/3 or less remaining.

Keep This “Just In Case” Kit With You:

  • Move any items yourself that are especially delicate, valuable or personal. The mover’s limits of liability would not cover the replacement of these items of they were lost or damaged during the move and it gives you a piece of mind.
  • Basic tools (hammer, screwdriver, knife, tape, etc.)
  • Payment for movers
  • Bathroom Essentials (towels, soap, toilet paper)
  • Kitchen Essentials (snacks, disposable utensils, cups, plates, etc.)
  • Cleaning Essentials (sponges, all-purpose cleaner, broom, dustpan)
  • Important Documents & Personal Essentials – (fancy jewelry, medication, glasses, medical records, bills, passport, new/old lease etc.)
  • Keys and directions to your new home (pick this up before the move to avoid delays and stress)
There’s a lot to do when moving, things can easily be forgotten and there can be a lot of anxiety about the process and pending change. But, following this easy tips and with a little planning and organizing, moving can be stress-free and possibly even an enjoyable process.

What are your best moving tips? 

My last wardrobe box.                                         The others were filled to capacity.
*This post was sponsored by you move free. They can help you find a new apartment. All the tips and suggestions are my own.*

How To: The DOs & DON’Ts of how to help a friend get through a breakup

We’ve all been there before.  It doesn’t matter the details of the breakup, whether they were dating 5 weeks or 5 years, if they weren’t serious or if they were engaged. What does matter is that she is hurting and heartbroken and she needs you, her friend.  But we all handle things in different ways.  Not every tactic works for everyone and not everyone wants to be supported or cared for in the same way. Know your friend – but Here are several suggestions on the DO’s and DON’Ts for helping your friend through her breakup through her breakup:

DO be there for her, be supportive and listen: One of the most important things you can do for her is to listen. Let her know that you understand and that you are there for her. She may be a broken record in your eyes, but she needs to talk it out. Be there to just listen.  Be there emotionally, physically and mentally. Tell her she has people in her corner who love and support her and that she is not alone.  When she is lonely, keep her company. Even if you sit in silence or watch TV, she’ll appreciate your mere presence.

DO offer positive & healthy distractions to keep her busy: Encourage her to get out of the house. Help her get involved in fun activities – Take a day trip together, go for a walk, window shop, volunteer for a cause, go to a movie or a concert, go out for dinner, play games, see a comedian, get her a massage. Invite her out to things, have a girl’s night out (or in), or watch an episode of Glee together.  Make sure she is not always alone and get her out of the apartment.

DO reach out just to say hi and that you’re thinking of her via calls, texts, emails, e-cards or even snail mail: Remind her that she is not alone and that someone (you!) care. Be genuine, not nosey. Ask how she is doing or if she prefers space. If she prefers space, that might be just that day. Tomorrow she may want your presence again. If she does want space, she will tell you to stop but still appreciate that at least you cared enough about her to try.  However, most people need to feel loved and thought of and will need their friends to check in on them.

DO NOT set and forget or one and done.  Just because the breakup is not at the forefront of your mind, does not mean that she has moved on, too: One text or call is not enough. Even a few weeks or months later she still needs to know that you care, that you are still thinking about her, and that she is not alone. You may think you are a great friend because you went to dinner with her once or texted twice, but a real true friend continues to reach out consistently, not only in the beginning.

DO encourage her to rediscover herself:  Is there something she has always wanted to do but never done? Anything she never tried like knitting, taking dancing lessons or baking peanut butter cookies because he was allergic? Has she always dreamt of traveling but he was afraid of flying? Encourage her to explore new things, to find new hobbies and passions.

DO NOT make the breakup about you: Let her have this moment. Don’t compare her breakup to your past breakups. She is the one grieving now, so let her work it out. After some time has passed and her wounds are not as fresh and she is doing better and moving on, then you can swap battle stories.

DO have comments & feedback but keep it positive:  It is okay to say, You did the right thing, or I can’t believe he did that to you. BUT…

DO NOT Bash and trash the ex: This is not the time to let all your real feelings out of the bag. Don’t release all the personal complaints you’ve held against him. Avoid criticisms of his personality, looks and habits. She chose at one point to be with that person good or bad so don’t say you never liked him anyway or how ugly he was. What happens on the off-chance they patch things up and get back together? She won’t forget what you said and your comments will likely come back to haunt you. You might think bashing is helpful but it is not supportive behavior. She will go back and forth on hate – be supportive and positive. Don’t hate.

DO make her laugh and have fun together: The breakup shouldn’t end the fun in your friendship.  She will have good days and bad days, but let her know it is okay to laugh and have fun even if she is sad and missing him. Help take her mind of things. Try to make her laugh even when she thinks she doesn’t have it in her to smile.

DO NOT expect her to “get over it” after x amount of time: She doesn’t know how long it will take but she needs to be able to grieve. Time heals so let her have her time. Be patient and understanding. Breakups can be like a death when you lose someone from your life. It is a loss. Let her mourn the relationship. Don’t rush the healing and grieving process.
DO reach out proactively: Don’t wait for her to tell you she is struggling. Check in with her before  she reaches out to you. Knowing that someone is thinking about her (without her bringing it up first) will help her heal faster.
DO NOT forget to say 4 little words: “I’m here for you”: She is venting and heartbroken but she is also probably worried about if she is annoying you, too. Be present, listen, and her confidant. Be encouraging and supportive. She has so much on her plate and is worried about so much. Don’t be another cause of worry for her.

DO respond to her emails or text messages with a little thought of something that shows you care: Even if you do not know what to say, try to say something that makes her feel like you care. Replying only “I’m sorry” to her plea for help is not supportive and screams that you do not care. Instead try, “I’m sorry, is there anything I can? Let’s grab a dinner or coffee soon.”

DO NOT tell her that dating sucks and that there is no one out there. Remind her that this pain won’t last forever: Remind her that she will be happy again and that it gets better.

Do be her personal cheerleader: Breakups can be are a blow to the self-esteem and she may have a lot of self-doubt. She may feel she is not pretty enough, not love-able enough, not fun enough, that she is never going to find another man – etc.  Tell her how wonderful she is, remind her of her great qualities, and how much your friendship means to you.

DO NOT make her cry about her ex in a bar (or anywhere for that matter): She will cry about it anyway. Do not instigate it. Do not try to get the gossip out of her about the details of her breakup. If she wants to talk to you she will. Do not bring up The Ex after she has been drinking. Again, if she wants to talk  about it she will.

DO be a confidant and trust worthy: She is talking to you because she trusts you and needs a friend. Do not be a blabber mouth. Don’t go sharing her stories with others. Show her you care by keeping her trust and stories confidential.

DO NOT get upset with her if she asks you to do her a favor regarding The Ex: If she tells you, “I’m still getting his mail” or “can you please give him his pants that he left at my place” just be a doll and offer to pass along the pants & the mail. It is hard to have The Ex’s stuff still lying around. Help her move on by removing the memories.  She isn’t asking you for this favor to start anything or make you feel uncomfortable. You are her friend and she is looking to you for help. Odds are they are not on speaking terms or it is too painful. ** Note: Once or twice is ok, but you cannot be the monkey in the middle.

DO set boundaries but be polite and subtle: The breakup is hard on both of you. You want to listen and be there for her but it can be stressful for you too. Help yourself and help her at the same time. Be upfront and agree to talk about the situation for 15, 30 minutes, an hour, whatever seems appropriate for you both, with the intention to change subjects after the time has passed. (note: Don’t interrupt her and say TIME’S UP though!) It is good for your mental health as well as hers. This allows you to continue to listen but stops the breakup from taking over her life, too, allowing her to think about and move on to something else.

DO NOT tell her juicy gossip you her about The Ex: Be considerate of her feelings. If you are still friends with The Ex, do not tell her that he slept with Susie Slutface. This will not make her feel better.

MOST IMPORTANT- DO BE A FRIEND!!: Maybe she actually is your first friend to go through a breakup. Maybe you don’t know what encouraging words to say or what to do. Don’t worry about that. You don’t have to talk about the breakup.  Whether she is your first friend to experience a breakup or not, being a friend shouldn’t be unfamiliar territory. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel here- JUST BE HER FRIEND. All she needs is you to be there for her. 

Life after breakups can be very emotional and challenging. She will learn a lot about herself and who her real friends are during this process. Be the friend that you would want to have if you went through this. Being a friend shouldn’t be a foreign language to you, but here are few of my personal favorite things my closest friends are doing to help me: 

  • Coming home to an empty apartment after he moved out was heart wrenching. My ex neighbor turned friend came over and helped me rearrange the couch, do laundry, hang pictures on the newly barren walls, make my bed with said clean sheets. It was the littlest thing but it made such a difference to me.
  • Offer to bring dinner over. If she is anything like me, I have trouble making myself dinner when I’m blue. Bringing her dinner (and eating with her) is one of the most helpful things you can do.
  • Have a girls night & sleep over.  Sounds silly to have sleep overs as an adult but it will mean the world to her, especially if she used to live with The Ex.
  • Fly across country to physically be with me, to hug me and to help cheer me up.
  • I got Snail Mail letters filled with encouragement, support and love from fellow bloggers. Emails are good but getting an actual physical envelope to open really shows her that you care.

*this is all from ‘her’ perspective for consistency but same advice applies to guys.


What do you say to or do for friends when they are going through a breakup? What has helped you move on from your own breakups?  Are you, like me, going through a really tough breakup right now?  Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. You are not alone!