Health, Love & Fire: February 2016

Stepping Out Of Your Comfort Zone As A Blogger

Monday, February 29, 2016

I struggle to put myself out there for others to judge or critique very often. Sounds funny coming from someone who posts regularly on a blog for the world to see, but I try to keep my posts within my comfort zone. I specifically choose the images that are posted, the topics that are covered and the personal info that I share. Daily I log on and read other blogs and posts and see what all these other amazing bloggers are doing, but shelter myself behind the walls of worry. So how can we push past those barriers we set for ourself and try new and different things we may not feel are within our comfort zone? Here's some of the things that help me do just that.
Be Inspired By Those You Admire:
I love Samantha from The Samantha Show's post on her 8 Tips For Shooting Outfit Pictures. She's one of those bloggers who's posts I read every day and pictures I constantly pin who I look at for inspiration and motivation to put myself out there more. It's hard for me to imagine myself a fashion blogger or taking photos of myself instead of other people or things, but I love her posts and her images. I can remember my parents telling me to be conscious of who you surround yourself with, and I think it's because we are so inspired by those around us. And I know this is the case for other bloggers I follow. I am constantly pushed to try new things and grow my blog in ways I could have never imagined when I first started typing in this space. If we don't continually push ourselves to do new things and step out of our comfort zone, we will never grow. I love how Samantha's Outfit Picture tips were so not something I felt like I related to at the time, but something I've remembered since she originally posted and that's motivated me to try some myself.

Choose things that make you feel good:
I am all about a statement necklace and jewelry. When it comes to my outfits and clothing choices, I tend to find pieces that work and stick to similar styles, colors and fits. But you can always dress an outfit up with some awesome jewelry, which is why I love Happiness Boutique and this gorgeous statement necklace. A friend and coworker once told me that her trick to nailing an interview was to dress in a dressy business outfit but put some of her own personality in the look with the jewelry or shoes so that she still felt like herself and felt confident but was still appropriate for the interview. I try to do this most of the time, using my jewelry or statement pieces to help me little by little step out of my comfort zone! This necklace from Happiness Boutique makes me feel confident and put together, even on days when I'm just wearing a "Mom" outfit. Even in a t-shirt, I feel like I can dress it up and feel a little more confident! If statement necklaces aren't your thing, check out some of their earrings, bracelets, rings or other awesome pieces that Happiness Boutique has to offer! I bet just one of their pieces will make you feel more put together, happier and more confident!
Enjoy Yourself:
Trying new things should be fun, albeit scary at times, but enjoy trying new things. If you try something and decide it isn't for you, you haven't lost out on anything. Do things that make you happy, and try your best not to worry about what other's think. Happiness in contagious, and I'm sure just like with the Happiness Boutique, if you're doing things that make you happy, other's will gain inspiration and happiness from you.

3 Things Update

Friday, February 19, 2016

1 Saturday we took Harper to the zoo for the first time in a while, and definitely the first time when she was actually able to notice all the animals and everything around her. Basically she was still more interested in the trees and ponds than the animals, but it was a fun family outing and a nice way to get outside before the rain started later in the day.
2 She's working hard on sitting up, and definitely more and more interested in everything around her! We go for her 6 month well check on Monday and I'm excited to hear what the pediatrician has to say about her growth and what new milestones she'll hit next.

3 We are trying to make the crib transition . . . wish us luck! Dan took an extra day off to spend the weekend with us and also to be there in case any of our nights go less than stellar. Here's to hoping it's going to go better than we anticipate!
1 Work for him has been pretty crazy! There's lots of changes happening with his department and on top of that he's studying for an upcoming lieutenants test so work is definitely keeping him occupied!

2 We have plans to go wine tasting this weekend, which we always love . . . Did you guys see Dan's guest post from earlier this week about his time working harvest at one of our favorite Oregon wineries?

3 We've been working hard to clean out some of the clutter, especially the garage and this week we got the opportunity to do that. Unfortunately while trying to do that Mr Fireman fell off a ladder  . . . . thankfully he was fine aside from a couple bruises and some scrapes but I think he reminded him to be more careful sometimes too!

1 Have you all noticed my new blog design including new pages & all the new pretty features? I'm pretty much in love and almost squeal every time I look at it!! I'm really excited to start focusing even more on my blog. . . . I feel like I took some time off after I had Harper and had a tough time getting back in the swing of it all, but finally feel like I've found my stride. What sorts of posts would you like to see more of? Everyday life? Oregon travel? Home decor? Blogging tips? I'd love to hear what you'd enjoy reading!

2 Work has been really crazy for me these last couple weeks too, so between that and trying to redo my blog and keep up with my posts and just live life, I've felt a little worn out. I'm excited to have so relaxing plans this weekend and Dan off an extra day to spend time with! I see some wine tasting and maybe a nap in my future!

3 Yesterday was national wine drinking day . . . Normally I'm not in to all of these random holidays, but that is definitely one I could jump on board with. I definitely enjoyed a glass last night . . . and probably will the rest of the weekend!

Making Friends In This Crazy Thing Called Blogging - On Lot 48

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Today I want to introduce you to one of the sweetest bloggers. I've followed Lauren for a while now and I'm excited to get to share a little more about her with all of you today! Truly one of my favorite things about this crazy thing called blogging are the people we meet and the relationships we form. I know you're all going to love Lauren and her blog as much as I do! 

Hi, I’m Lauren and I am so happy to be sponsoring Health, Love & Fire! I blog at Lot 48, where I like to write about all things that make me smile. That usually includes television, my husband Taran, and random essays like things i’m obsessed with or my phenomenal person. I love to laugh, sing, write, and help people. I work as a 911 police dispatcher which I absolutely love. I love helping people on the worst day of the their lives and also protecting the officers that serve the county. I’ve been married for two years and my husband and I still can’t believe we found each other.

If you won the lottery what would you do with your winnings? 

Taran and I actually talk about this a lot. The first thing we would do is pay off our debt, set a good chunk in savings, and then go to Europe! I have been to just Rome and London and he lived in southern England for two years. We want to go all over Europe, but especially the Mediterranean parts. We would love to start off with a Mediterranean cruise and then explore from there.

Dan and I talk about what we would do too and so many of our answers are the same! Pay off debt, invest & travel!! 

What is your favorite feature about yourself?

I like that I try my hardest not to be afraid. Fear can be a ghost and non-exisitent monster that stops us from accomplishing what we really want to accomplish. I pride myself on living each day as if I was dying, (no, really!) I push myself, I go for what I want, and I work as hard as I can to accomplish my dreams. I have wanted to be in law enforcement for a really, really long time, but I had always thought it wasn’t possible or had been too scared. It wasn’t until I opened my mind and got flexible on what a career in that field that I was able to fulfill my dream of being in law enforcement. I made it happen. And it wasn’t anyone who told me how to do it or what I should do, I figured it out on my own; I love that about myself.

What are three things that you couldn’t live without? 

Chapstick, my phone, and the scriptures. My faith is the most important thing in the world to me, I need my scriptures with me at all times when I need to feel uplifted or comforted. My phone because, well, duh. I was thinking about this concept in detail the other day when I couldn’t find it and with how Taran and I’s lives have changed recently with my new job and that I am not home when he is home, I miss him a thousand times more now, so talking to him is even that more important. So when I lost my phone for an hour, I was freaking out! And chapstick, because I cannot STAND to have chapped lips.

I totally understand what you mean about needing your phone, especially when you're apart from your spouse so much! Whenever Dan is on shift and gone for anywhere from 24-48 hours, having our phones makes us actually able to stay in touch, even if it's just a quick text here or there. 

Since food is constantly on my mind (especially while completing the 21 Day Fix), what is your all time favorite food? 

Anything my mom makes, really. Last year I had surgery and my mom came into town to take care of me for a few days. She made my favorite: her special gourmet pasta. Whenever I am homesick and could use some of her cooking and hug, I play Simon & Garfunkel (a staple in my household growing up) and make a big pot of pasta sauce. It makes me feel like she is in my apartment cooking and taking care of me, like she was after my surgery. Even though we are all “adults” I think we all still want mom to come over and cook us dinner and stroke our backs.

Totally! I am always excited when my parents invite me over for dinner! There's just something about the way your mom cooks certain dishes that stick with you forever! 

What do you like to do on your weekends? 

Taran and I fell in love over our love of being lazy and staying in bed and watching tv and movies and reading. But we do like to go out, it just depends on how exhausting the week has been. We like to go to Humane Society, an adoption center for pets and walk the dogs. It is so much fun! We want a dog so badly, but we don’t have the time to give that a sweet pup deserves, so it’s on hold for now. But going there is such a fun way to scratch our must-have-pup itch. We like to go to movies and visit my sister and play board games with her and my brother-in-law and also play games at home. Sounds pretty boring, but it works for us!

Sounds like we need to hang out! And you can borrow our dog any time! He's always looking for a reason to get out of the house and away from us boring new parents who are always focused on the baby! 

Don't you all just love Lauren? Please go check out her blog and find her on all her social media and say hello! Trust me, you'll feel like you've been friends for years! 
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Oregon Winemaking Journey

Monday, February 15, 2016

I've been asking Dan to share his experience volunteering at a local winery during harvest for a while . . . but I'm excited because today I finally have his post to share! And not only does he share it from his viewpoint but I also have the video of harvest from the winery and several cameos of him in that video (look for the guy in the ATL shirt...Go Braves!).

Well, Here is my post finally. I know Libby asked me to write something about the winery I help at so today I'm sharing my experience working Harvest. I have found a new hobby and I'm sure Libby would tell you it's a fairly expensive one. But I like how you can make a product and be able to change so many things about it during the process. During the summer and fall for the last 4 years I have been able to be a part of the Harvest team at one of our favorite wineries.

Stoller Family Estate is a winery outside of Dayton, Oregon, just about a 15 minute drive from our house. They start around 8:00am every morning of harvest. The mornings are cool and filled with lots of fog so a must have is coffee so that you can stay warm while outside and in. The fog starts and does not seem to lift all that often in Oregon during this season. Stoller used to be an old turkey farm back in the day. When Bill Stoller got the property he decided to make it into a winery. There are about 300+ acres of grapes on the estate with many different varietals or types such as, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Tempranillo, and Syrah. The majority is the Pinot Noir since it is so popular and prominent in Oregon. Stoller makes about 40,000 cases every year and wants to expand more over time.
Now to talk about what we do in the winery is the fun part for me. It is all hands on!! Every year there have been about ten harvest interns that assist the wine making team at Stoller. Then it goes down to about five in the winter months. But Harvest is the hardest part and an all hands on deck kind of job. All the fruit is picked on site by workers in the vineyard. They pick a section of grapes at a time and then they get put into plastic bins. The trucks then bring the grapes down to the winery to be processed. We have to hand sort all the grapes, so we pull out all the leaves, unripe fruit, rotting fruit and moldy fruit before it can go into the tanks. Grapes then go up the conveyor and get destemmed. This will separate the grapes berries from the stems. The stems make tannin flavors in wine as well as oak barrels but that is later. Some wine makers will also do what is called whole cluster fermentations, which means they would leave the grapes on the stems to sit for some time to get those flavors and tannins. So, once the sorting is done it is time to do a cold soak and wait a few days to get all the color out of the skins, then it will be time to add the yeast. This is when that super sweet grape juice turns into WINE!!!
When the fermentation takes off you have to do regular punch downs twice a day and keep an eye on the how long it takes to dry out. This means to gets to where there is no more juice for the yeast to eat. Once this happens it is time to rack the wine. They do this once it has reached what the wine maker likes for flavors in the wine. Racking the wine will get out more sediment and lees or the yeast byproduct. Racking can last for a day or two and then it is transfered into barrels. The barrels will allow the wine to breath just slightly and take on the oaky flavor to balance it out. Oak also releases tannins that is also helps to preserve it. The wine sits in the barrels for months to years and tasted throughout the process. Once the winemaker determines the right amount of  time has passed it is time to blend. A committee in the winery will sit down and add little amounts of wine together and try it till they find a combination they like.
I got started just by asking someone in the tasting room if they ever accept volunteers. We were there with Libby's parents, who are club members and by asking in the tasting room I got connected to the head winemaker who was willing to let me volunteer. Now four years later, I've been able to help with harvest each year and continue to learn more and be given more intricate tasks. Volunteering has been one of the coolest experiences and has taught me so much about wine making and the entire wine industry. This is only a short overview of the wine making process! I hope it leads you to the growing Pacific Northwest and Willamette Valley of wine country that we live in!

Here's a video that Stoller put together of harvest from two years ago to give you an even better look at the winemaking process . . .
One Day // A Harvest Story | Stoller Family Estate from AO Films on Vimeo.

Hart Day - My Gotcha Day

Friday, February 12, 2016

Don't worry, this isn't another mushy Valentine's Day post . . . or maybe it is a little bit, but not the normal one. See in our family, Valentines Day is more than just the Hallmark holiday that some people love or love to hate. Valentines Day also happens to be the day that I was officially adopted. Seems fitting that it would fall on that day since my maiden name happened to be Hart.

Many adopted families celebrate the airplane day or the day that they finally got to fly home with their new little one, but since I was only a car ride from home, we celebrate my Gotcha Day.
Gotcha Day has always been one of the most meaningful days of the year for me, but ever since becoming a Mom, it means that much more. It's true that they say your appreciation for your parents grows exponentially when you become one as well. The love you have for your child is unexplainable and unmatched. Feeling that love for Harper and knowing the journey my parents went on to make me theirs is truly the best gift I could have ever been given. I know that journey wasn't easy, in fact it was probably the most difficult thing they've ever done, but I hope the relationship we have has made every single tough day worth it! They are not only my parents, but two of my best friends! We rarely go more than a couple days without at least texting each other, but usually see each other multiple times a week. We love to travel together, share dinners or just meet up for walks. They are the biggest part of my life aside from Dan and Harper and I am so thankful that adoption brought all of us together.

Now as an adult, having the ability to have the best parents I could have ever hoped for and to be able to have formed a relationship with each of my birth parents has been an amazing experience. I'm so thankful for the openness my parents have always shown with me about my adoption story and I'm thankful that they've always supported me in my search to find out more about my family history. Without their support, I truly couldn't have found the answers I'd been hoping for or built the relationships I'm lucky to have with my birth parents and their families. Adoption is such a blessing in my life and in the lives of so many. Dan and I have talked about adopting in our future, but no matter what I know that because I am adopted, that adoption will always be a part of our family.
If you're interested in reading anymore about my adoption story, you can check out these posts.
Finding Answers: Part 1
Finding Answers: Part 2
Was He More Expensive Than You - Ridiculous Adoption Questions
Stronger Than I Knew - A Visit To See My Birth Parents 
My Family Tree - I'm Adopted

Harper - 6 Months

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Harper at 6 Months
I seriously feel like I blinked and she's half a year old! Every week she is learning something new and changing! I really can't believe she's already 6 months old! She has her 6 month checkup in a week and a half, but because she was sick this past weekend we went to the doctor on Monday. She got weighed but I'm not sure of her height and percentiles but I know she weighs just over 16 and a half pounds! Girlfriend likes to eat! Being her mom is truly one of the best things I've ever done and I am so excited for the adventures and memories we have in store for us!

What's New 
Harper is on the move! Not only is she rolling over, but she's starting to roll to get places she wants to be. We haven't started crawling yet but she's pushing herself up and I really don't think it will be long before she's on the move. This month she started really loving and bouncing all over the place in her bouncer. She's trying hard to sit up on her own and is getting there! This month you can tell she's starting to recognize people, especially the ones she sees most often.

She loves her mama which makes my heart melt! She also loves to watch the pets and follow them around with her eyes! I know once she's really mobile that they are in for a treat! I can already tell by the way she watches their tails that they aren't going to love it when she's walking and chasing after them!

She's eating solids twice a day and is loving it! The rest of the day she switches between breastmilk and formula. Since working out again and going back to work my supply is definitely not the same, but I've come to the realization we just have to do what's best for us. She's starting to really like her highchair and especially when it's at the dinner table and she gets to eat at the same time we do. She is always watching what we are eating or drinking and I think before long we aren't going to be able to do either in front of her without her wanting something too!

This next month we have a crib transition planned out. Dans taking a shift or two off to be around in case she's more fussy and just to be there for moral support for me. She was sick off and on this month so the transition didn't happen, but we're on the mend and hoping to switch her over in a couple weeks! I was so hard on myself for a while about getting her moved to her crib but like all things in parenthood it needs to be what works for us and hopefully it will work for us in a couple weeks! Fingers crossed please :)

Photos from this month

Week One and Done - 21 Day Fix Week 1 Recap

Monday, February 8, 2016

I have always loved reading other people's success stories and hearing how workout programs worked for them so I decided to share each week of my 21 Day Fix along with some recipes and things that have been working or not working for me. Plus, it's just another way to keep myself accountable! I'm not going to share my weightloss numbers till the end of the 21 days, but will share how I'm feeling and how the eating plan and workouts are going each week.

So I'm done with the first 7 days of the 21 Day Fix. . . YAY! And I honestly surprised myself with how easy it was for me to complete. It really helps that not only am I a part of a challenge group with a good friend who is a coach, but I also have a coworker and my husband doing it along with me! So basically I can't go anywhere in my everyday life without seeing someone who will keep me accountable. It really helps!

One of my biggest concerns when starting the 21 Day Fix was how I was going to fit in the workouts. My schedule every day is pretty full. Harper wakes up about 5:45 and from there I feed her, pump, get ready for work, go to work, come home, feed Harper and make dinner, go through our bedtime and bath routine and then finally have a minute to myself at about 7:30. So I was worried that by 7:30 at night I wouldn't have the motivation or energy to get a workout in, but I've done it every night and actually looked forward to it. If nothing else comes out of this program, I'm excited that I have figured out a way to fit in exercise and time for myself in my busy day! The first few days I found myself so sore. . . especially after the cardio and low fix workouts! But every day I feel like I'm getting stronger!

When it comes to the eating plan, I've done pretty well. I ended up changing the plan a little to make up for the calories I was burning breastfeeding. So I added 500 calories to my total calorie amount and figured out which eating plan that put me in. I've tweaked it a little throughout the week but feel good about where I'm at and how many of each container I have to fit in during the day. I ended up buying Shakeology with my challenge pack and was definitely skeptical trying it. I'd always seen so many Facebook posts or people who raved about it, but I just wasn't sure it was worth the money or would even taste good. I decided to use the Shakeology for my breakfast and I have loved it every morning and am even ordering more! I guess I'm no longer a skeptic. . . . well at least when it comes to Shakeology.

Most of my days consisted of this sort of eating plan:
Breakfast: Vegan Chocolate Shakeology with a scoop of PB2
Snack: Banana & Hard Boiled Eggs
Lunch: Chicken Breast, Roasted Veggies and a Quinoa Wild Rice mix
Snack: Carrots & Snap Peas
Dinner: Chicken or Pork with Sweet Potatoes and Salad
Snack: Grapes

This week's favorite recipe is a take on a Minestrone Soup. I added some meat for some protein and a few extra veggies and cooked it all in the crock pot. What's even better is that it fit into my 21 Day Fix eating plan! Here's the recipe!

21 Day Fix - Crock Pot Minestrone Soup
1 can of white beans (15oz)
32 oz container of reduced sodium chicken broth (you can also use vegetable broth if you wanted)
1 tsp olive oil
1 cup diced carrots
1 chopped onion
1 cup diced celery
2 mined garlic cloves
1 can of petite diced tomatoes
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
4 Bay leaves
2 Tbs chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
salt and black pepper to taste
1 medium zucchini
1 medium yellow squash
2 cups cooked small pasta
2 cups chopped fresh spinach
1 package of cooked sausage

Step 1: Add white means, chicken broth, diced tomatoes, rosemary, bay leave, basil and parsley to the crockpot. Add your salt and pepper to taste. Turn on High for 4 hours or low for 6-8.

Step 2: Sauté carrots, celery, onion, garlic and olive oil in a pan until the veggies are soft (about 5-8 minutes), then add veggies to the crock pot.

Step 3: About 40 minutes before the soup is done, sauté the zucchini and yellow squash in a pan until soft, then add to crock pot along with cooked sausage.

Step 4: While the soup finishes, cook the pasta.

Step 5: Once the timer goes off, add the cooked pasta to the soup, serve and enjoy. You can also add some parmesan, but make sure to account for that with your blue container.

This soup ends up fulfilling 1 red, 1 green and 1 yellow container.

I'm off to complete another workout and another week of the 21 Day Fix. I plan on posting my recap of the week and a recipe I used each Monday until the program is over, so check back here the next two Mondays for more 21 Day Fix info!

Have you ever completed the 21 Day Fix or other Beach Body programs? Do you have any suggestions or tips?

Dining Hutch Before and After

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

I've always been one of those people who ohh and ahh over the before and after photos I see on my instagram feed. The one who pins all the diy projects on pinterest with the hopes I'll finally convince my husband to make them actually tackle one. But after daydreaming about the amazing hutches I've seen on ever social media outlet and constantly yearning for one of my own, I decided it was time to finally try one of those projects myself! (Time to prepare and deal with the mess, frustrations, and perfectionist tendencies that were about to drive me crazy!)

For months I have been searching craigslist, every local buy/sell page on Facebook, goodwill, antique stores, or really anywhere that sells furniture. I started off at furniture stores but quickly realized I was never going to be okay with paying the prices that those places wanted for a hutch. I may have also been put off after walking into a furniture store and telling the sales lady that I was searching for a china cabinet or buffet and getting a blank stare. She had no idea what I meant when I said buffet. No ma'am I'm not planning on serving you a meal, it's a type of furniture. It was sort of my last straw. I was sick of seeing price tags way higher than I wanted to spend, sick of dealing with clueless sales people, and frustrated that I wasn't finding exactly what I had pictured in my head (shocking right, doesn't everything you see in your head exist?). So time to move on.

One of my goals with my time off of work around the holidays was to finally find and get to work on the hutch project! After tons and tons of searching, (I'm sure my husband was WAY sick of hearing me talk about this dang hutch project) I finally found one! And after quite the adventure picking it up, involving borrowing my moms car, strapping part of it to the roof on a windy day, changing and feeding harper in the driver's seat of the car while Dan loaded the bottom half in the car, we finally got it home and went to work!

This was my first time using chalk paint, and I was pretty happy with it. We used Amy Howard At Home One Step Chalk Based Paint in the color Bauhaus. I think in the future sanding the piece down first would have helped with any coverage or flaking issues, but overall it worked well. It took us three coats of paint, but covered well. After changing out the hardware, having new glass for the doors custom cut and installed and moving it in the house and adding our favorite pieces it makes me smile every time I pass the dining room.
Halfway home with the top part of the hutch on the roof, the bottom part in the way back, Harper & her stroller in the middle seat along with the shelves, and Dan and I in the front seat. It was an adventure on a windy Oregon day! 
Once I grabbed my camera and started snapping photos of it completed,  I'm definitely thinking we may need to add some color in this room asap! But for now, I'm loving the extra storage and the ability to display some of my favorite pieces. I'll be back soon with some photos of our whole dining room too!

Making Time For Mom(Me)

Monday, February 1, 2016

Today I am starting my 21 Day Fix journey and joining a few friends and coworkers in a 21 Day Fix Challenge group. I am excited to test out the workouts and eating program and see what kind of success I can have. I'm going to do the before and after pics and take all the measurements and hopefully share those at the end of the 21 days.

Not only are we following the 21 day fix meal plan, but Dan and I also started getting the weekly Hello Fresh meals. If you haven't heard of Hello Fresh before, its a subscription box where you choose the number of meals you want to receive for the week and the number of people it needs to serve. Then the week before, you are able to select which meals from that week's options you want to get in your box. Everything gets shipped to you once a week in a box with ice to keep it all cool along with directions and nutrition facts for you to prepare.

This is our third week and we have been loving the healthy meal options and the fact that everything comes in one box that you need to make the meal! I mean everything! The only items we've needed that didn't come with the meals were some olive oil, salt and pepper. Having the meals just show up at our door every Saturday and knowing that at least three dinners a week are taken care of has been such a huge help to our busy schedules. On any given week we are only home together around 4 nights, so I love not having to worry about grocery shopping for those evenings.

If you're interested in trying out Hello Fresh, you can use this code: Y8KEPD for $40 off your first box which means you can get your first week of three meals for only $29. That's how we tried our first box and really loved it!

I'm excited to kick off my 21 day fix and start focusing more on myself again! Being a first time parent, it has taken me a bit to get my own routine down and figure out how to fit in time for myself and things I need. I'm looking forward to my workouts and just feeling better and hope to be able to share what I'm liking and how I'm scheduling my day to fit it all in. What works best for you? How do you fit in time for yourself in your busy schedule?