you need to read this

My mind likes to race; it races around and around. It causes me unneeded stress. I then start to think about how much I think. You see how this can be a spiral toward some kind of mental breakdown?

The truth is, I’m a thorough person. I’m loyal. I put 100% into people, things, and projects. Being relational and passionate about work, dreams, etc. are admirable qualities, however it can lead to burnout if we don’t remember to pause.

Sometimes it’s too much to think about all at once; and therefore too hard to execute on. I’ve felt my fair share of failure for backing out of commitments that I feel are not serving me in a given moment. But instead of being hard on myself, I’ve learned to view quitting and failure from a different perspective.

“Taking time to honor the needs of your body is taking time to respect the needs of your soul.” – Journey to the Heart

We’re told from day 1, to never EVER quit. If you’ve ever played sports in high school, college, etc., you know exactly what I’m talking about. Great athletes don’t quit. Great athletes don’t give up. Great athletes don’t burnout. Successful people don’t burnout — but oh, they do… they just learn to manage it, or change their current situations.

Luckily for me, there are a TON of blogs and podcasts underneath the sun that address the general topic of burnout, quitting, and having the power to say ‘no’. We are humans in a world in which there are rarely any constants. Our financial successes, health, relationships, and career goals all rely on variables. They are all dependent on various life scenarios and interactions with people that are hardly repeatable for any two people. When I start to feel overwhelmed,  I do a couple of things:

  1. Remember to NOT compare my successes (or lack there of) to others’ successes. It does NOT make sense to compare myself to other people. All those variables I just talked about – they are different for everyone. The intensity of those variables are different for everyone. If you feel this way –  here’s a solution: do some soul-searching and figure out what drives you and makes you happy. Use your discoveries as a foundation to determine what success means to you. Although people can have compatible and similar personalities, it does not mean any two people function in the same capacity or use the same thought processes. The definition of success should stem from an intrinsic place, yet we are often using society’s definition of success as a measuring stick. Here’s a thought… does society care if you as an individual are fulfilled and happy?
  2. Find effective stress relievers. No, I don’t mean unwinding with a glass of wine (but yes, kind of). Okay, but seriously, find sustainable stress outlets to get you through the bumps in the road. I’ve found that exercise, stretching, reading, writing, meditating, dancing, napping, bingeing Gilmore Girls..etc. have all been effective stress relievers for me. Disclaimer: it might take a while to figure out what actually works for you, but the only way to know is to TRY.
  3. Start saying ‘no’. I struggled with saying ‘no’ to friends, family, and coworkers for quite some time. Fun fact: I recently took an Insights personality assessment which revealed at work I feel I need to be extroverted as hell, but at home I’m in the fast lane to introversion. This doesn’t surprise me because I am a project manager, and as a project manager I have the pleasure of working with many people. But at home, I’m not a project manager. I’m a person who likes peace and quiet. I’m someone who doesn’t need other people around to give me energy – I need to be alone to recharge. So friends, family — if you’re wondering why I’m saying ‘no’ to invites, don’t take it personally. I am putting my health first, and allowing myself to be selective about what I participate in. You can do it too – and you don’t have to feel guilty about it. Imagine a life where everyone did what they wanted to without feeling obligated! A-m-a-z-i-n-g. 
  4. Re-evaluate activities in my planner and/or schedule. I am a total Type-A person. I love planning out my week, my meals, my workouts, you name it. It’s cool to feel in control; but if all of a sudden my mood is not aligned with my plans, or I’m feeling burnt out, you better believe I’m removing or pushing out some of my to-do’s. As a project manager, it’s intuitive for me to want to stick to schedules and follow through for my clients and peers. However, I have learned that I don’t need to project-manage my life outside of work. I can use my intuition to guide me; I can ebb and flow through the week depending on how I’m feeling. There isn’t anyone over my shoulder at home looking at my planner and saying, “Oh no, Karen! You did not go to yoga tonight, you’re fired!”. Think about it…planning is meant to make life simpler. The minute it becomes the enemy is the minute you should be taking a step back from the pressure you are putting on yourself. Go with your gut, you will feel much more relaxed. I know I have.

In closing, this month was full of “quitting”. I made intentional decisions to redirect my energy to other aspects of my life. I decided that the Whole30 was not serving me this round – and it’s not because I think the Whole30 is hard, it’s because the Whole30 meant something different to me in 2015 than it means to me now. I did a nice two-week detox from the holidays and found that was enough; it served me well. I now feel rejuvenated to take on the rest of the month and the new year. I also “quit” training for a 15k that I pressured myself into. It felt like a good idea at the time, but I started training about four weeks later than I would have liked and there’s no reason for me to put pressure on myself to run the longest distance I would run in my entire life with minimal training.

“We need to learn to adapt to change but we also need to learn to tell when a situation is wrong for us and not force ourselves to fit.” – Journey to The Heart

I leave you with a few resources that have grounded me recently. They’ve taught me to say ‘no’ to things I don’t want to do, and ‘fuck yes’ to things that are calling to me. They’ve taught me that quitting is not necessarily failure, it’s recognizing that something is not serving me. They’ve taught me that burnout is real, and that stress can be mitigated. If it can’t, I need to take control of my life and seek change.

 

xo Karen

“Sometimes it feels easier to doubt ourselves, to make the perceived safe decision, to make the excuse, to change our expectations, to follow ill-fitting societal norms, and uphold our false beliefs that only exceptional people can do the thing we want to do. But that’s bullshit.” – Minimal Wellness

justin key photography

Hi friends! I have the pleasure of knowing a power couple whose goals are to follow their dreams of running their own businesses. You may remember my feature post about Sarah Key, and her career with Rodan & Fields skincare. Well, her husband, Justin Key, has his own photography business: Justin Key Photography.
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Photography is an art I truly enjoy; photos can capture timeless memories, but what’s refreshing about Justin’s photos are that they expose you to organic, picturesque sites. He focuses on landscapes, structures, nature; they may seem like simple shots, but they leave room for the person viewing the photo to interpret what they’re seeing in any way they’d like. For example, what do YOU see when you look at Justin’s “Runnin’ Down A Dream”:
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Runnin'-Down-a-Dream
Runnin’ Down a Dream – Justin Key Photography
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Pretty cool huh? To me this photo represents a few different in-depth ideas. There are independent branches, but they are intimately intertwined. It represents us as people; we are individuals who need interaction, support, and inclusion. To me this photo represents a holistic and spiritual world — a humble reminder that you are part of something much larger than life itself.  It’s family, work, play, love.
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With that said, please join me in learning more about Justin, and how he got to where is today in his photography career!
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>>What inspired you to get into photography? And at what age did you decide to learn more about photography?<<
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I was always curious, as a kid, about the science behind photography. The first big purchase I ever made was this $70 Fujifilm film camera that I thought was the coolest thing ever. I brought it everywhere and looking back at my images, mostly of zoo animals, they weren’t great in any aspect but I remember the excitement of bringing my film in to get developed and the anticipation of seeing the prints. I wish I could remember how old I was, my guess is about 12 or 13, but for some reason photography drew me in really young and was the one phase of my childhood I never out grew. Photography was always a hobby of mine, I enjoyed doing it but never worked at the craft until I went to college. I shot for the yearbook in high school and started to understand the capabilities of my camera better, at this point I was shooting digital and the instant viewing allowed me to figure out what everything in the camera did and how to control the light better. It wasn’t until I started thinking about college that I even considered photo to be a path for me. In college, I entered an art program with primarily a photojournalism background so it led to a lot of learning and experimentation in different genres. That was when I think I truly fell in love with photography
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>>What are your favorite photos to take, and why?<<
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I have shot darn near everything when it comes to photography. I started out shooting sports primarily and loved it but my focus has shifted over the years. I would still love to shoot sports because being on the sidelines of big games is a feeling unlike any other. I’ve tried portrait and weddings but I have a hard time directing people so I have tried to distant myself from that genre. Landscape and travel photography is what I’m focused on now and see myself doing going forward. I like to look at my work as art, I don’t shoot a lot of the colorful sunsets or breathtaking panoramas, I try to find a sense of place in my photography. I like to think of my work as capturing the character of Earth. I’ve always been drawn to nature and travel and my eye tries to capture the moments and the details that make up the memories we take from places. I don’t know that I have crossed over into the fine art realm quite yet but that is the type of work I would like to be classified under some day.

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>>Where do you see Justin Key Photography being in the next 5-10 years? What kind of portfolio do you plan to build?<<
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My current goal is to become self sufficient through my photography and I’m hoping to do that in the next year or two so looking beyond that is tough. I see a lot of growth that can be made in my work. I continue to look at my images and think they could be so much better than they are so in 5-10 years I would like to see my portfolio improve to the level I believe I can achieve. I would love to have checked off a lot of places on my travel list and see my name grow larger in the photography community. I plan on sticking with my landscape work and am currently in the works of expanding my website to include a new segment of my work I’m calling the Long Shutter Project. Currently it will be a collection of abstract series with the goal to raise money for muscular dystrophy but I see it expanding beyond the single cause down the road and I hope in 5-10 years to have raised a good amount of money for those causes.
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>> What advice do you give aspiring photographers?<<
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If I had to give aspiring photographers advice or even thinking about what I would tell myself starting out would be not to be afraid. I spent a long time doubting myself and worrying about the potential of failure and it held me back for a number of years. Once I got over those fears and doubts, I’ve seen my work improve, I’ve seen more opportunities come my way and I believe more in myself and my future. You can’t be afraid to chase your dreams and the sooner you can believe in yourself and put the time in to make it happen the sooner that dream becomes a reality.
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>>Who are some of your favorite artists? Do you have any particular favorite art pieces that speak to you?<<
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As a landscape photographer obviously Ansel Adams has been a big inspiration to me. I did a study in college of Masumi Hayashi’s technique and her work gave me a different perspective of the way we view scenes. Art Wolfe has some incredible work, Martin Bailey has a style similar to mine, I have been listening to his podcast for a while because he has a lot of the same views as me and it wasn’t surprising to find our work is pretty similar. Mark Rothko is a painter I have been inspired by as well.

Cheers!
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Well, friends, thanks for reading! It’s so rare to find a passion and turn it into a supportive career and I envy  Justin for doing just that! I hope Justin’s post inspires you to stick with your passions, and even if you figure you need to do something else for ‘work’, make sure to leave a large space in your hearts and schedules for passion projects. Check out his Instagram: @JustinKeyPhotograhy and his gallery to see more of his portfolio.
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xo Karen
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You can’t be afraid to chase your dreams and the sooner you can believe in yourself and put the time in to make it happen the sooner that dream becomes a reality. – Justin Key
Jolene
Jolene – Justin Key Photography

the shop salon: feature post

Hi friends! I am very excited to share this spotlight post featuring my former hair stylist, Nikki Johnson. I started seeing Nikki at Aveda’s Kai Salon in the North Loop, Minneapolis, and it was very apparent each time I visited Nikki that she had some major ideas to pursue her dreams. We’d often talk about our work, what makes us happy, how we find balance (there’s a lot of time to talk with a full balayage, cut, brows), etc. After a couple of WONDERFUL years of seeing Nikki, she told me she would be leaving Minneapolis to move back home (a dream she was quite open about), and start her own salon. I was initially sad, because I’ve made a new friend in the city and as many women know – you get to know your hair stylist pretty damn well! Her excitement was contagious – she was grinning ear to hear and just glowing with determination. I immediately felt SO excited for her. So, now that some time has passed, I’ve asked her to put together a post on her journey to opening The Shop Salon in her hometown of Rushford, MN. Enjoy!

Grand Opening 2
My first official day working in the salon was July 27, 2017. This was my Great Grandma Clara’s birthday. The day I had my ribbon cutting ceremony was August 3, 2017. This is my Grandma and Grandpa Graham’s wedding anniversary.  I didn’t plan on these synchronized dates, they just happened.

>>Did you always know you wanted to start your own business?<<

I always have had an entrepreneurial spirit. In my first job out of college I received a she “Grabs the Bull by the Horns” award, and throughout my career previous to hair I was told . . . “You have fire in your belly.” I have always been self-motivated and excited about doing a job well done, but it wasn’t until I was 27 years old that the idea of owning my own hair salon found my mind.

>>At what point in your life did you realize you wanted to move back home and start your own salon? What was the ah-ha moment” that made it real for you?<<

I never really intended on leaving the bluffs, I’ve always loved this hidden gem tucked in the valley. I was never an, “uh. . . just get me out of here” kind of person, but it’s interesting how life just takes you where you need to go. My journey was different because it had to be. I had to get to where I was going in a round about way in order to shape me into who I am today, and I am forever grateful for each and every person that I’ve met and learned from along the way. We grow from those that surround us, and I know I wouldn’t be the me I am without ever having left and experiencing all that I did.

I worked in hospitality sales from the day I graduated college in 2007 to 2012. I initially loved it. It fit, and then it didn’t. I was burnt out and not passionate. I didn’t see it fitting me for the rest of my life. The day I realized I outgrew the hospitality industry was in December of 2011. It was a very clear moment for me. One that I feel very fortunate to have experienced. Here’s the story prior to my “ah-ha moment” . . .

After a long day at work my boss pulled me into his office and told me that the outfit I was wearing was not “professional enough.” It was. I’ve always been a bit more fashion conscious so maybe he didn’t like the trend . . . but I can assure you it was “professional enough.” In order to prove a point to myself I wore the exact same outfit a week later, only this time I curled my hair and wore heals (previously my hair was in a pony and I was wearing flats). Nothing was said a week later. I proved my point (to myself) but I was angry and annoyed. I was angry at the situation and annoyed at the idea of someone telling me how to dress every day of my life. Don’t get me wrong . . . I understand dress codes exist for a reason, however, to me, the way you dress is an expression of who you are, and I didn’t want people telling me how to express myself on a daily basis. I didn’t and still do not like the idea of creating expressive parameters such as this. The thought of someone or a company monitoring my attire felt trapping.

I also worked with some pretty miserable people. Miserable in the sense that they hated their jobs, not miserable in the sense of defining their character. They were good people. Good people who despised their work environment. Most of my work week was consumed with constant chatter collectively complaining about this and that . . . about our boss, about the work environment, about how there was never any time for family or friends, that they’d miss a baseball game or ballet recital because of work and the list went on and on. This talk wasn’t just on my coworkers, I 100% participated in this negative monkey noise. We were one big unhappy corporate family that fed off each other’s woes. I saw the weight. I felt the weight. My head spun. I was like “No, I can’t. I can’t be this.” I did not want to fall down the funnel as far as my coworkers had. They were all older than me and truthfully, I saw myself trudging in their muddy footsteps if I did not drastically change directions. The thought of staying in this career made me uneasy.

If any of you are reading this that were involved in this part of my journey please know that I am not trying to project negativity toward you . . . rather I am trying to be truthful to the situation, and without having faced this particular darkness I would not be where I am today.

I felt emotionally and physically drained, and I certainly wasn’t proud of the person I was becoming. Prior to these events and observations, I already knew that I had fallen out of love with hospitality. My passion and light for the industry in general was dim, and I knew I needed to change something or I would be stuck in the muddy muck.

Now back to my ah-ah moment. It was the end of the day when my boss pulled me into his office to talk about my attire . . . as he spoke to me I tried my hardest to not let him see that his critiques were affecting me. I quietly nodded my head and said, “Okay.” I walked out of his office, shut down my computer and took the elevator home (I had just moved back from Dallas, TX and was living in the hotel as I had not found a place to rent in Minneapolis yet). I decided to go work out and try to move my emotions in a more positive direction. It did not work. I was still upset. When I got back I walked into the bathroom and just stared at myself in the mirror. I said out loud . . . “What am I going to do with my life.” I really just thought I was having a moment asking myself a rhetorical question and would go on with my night but honestly, I just stood there looking at myself and thought quietly in my mind . . . “I should go to hair school. I would be good at it because of XYZ. I could move back home one day (which is something I’ve always wanted to do), and . . . and, I could open up my own salon! Be my own boss. Wear whatever I want.” Yep, my mind was set. I sat on one of the queen beds in my double room and I wrote down all the things I’d love to have in my shop someday. I still carry that piece of yellow paper in my purse and the coolest thing about it is . . . a lot of what I wrote a little over 6 yrs ago actually exists in The Shop today.

 

Letter
December 2011 | The dream, the vision, the letter that started it all.

>>What was the hardest part about starting your own business?
Logistically? Aesthetically? Financially?<<

Having patience, hands down. I am not a patient person in anything, and throughout this entire experience I had to learn patience.

I knew I could not afford a vehicle payment in school so I worked at the hotel for a year after my ah-ha moment paying double payments. Ironically, I smashed up that little Scion TC near the end of my time in hair school. Oof, it was quite the trying year.

The second hardest thing was the emotional stripping I didn’t know I was going to experience. I was 28, financially independent . . . independent in general, and all that freedom was taken from me. I didn’t realize what that was going to do to me emotionally until I was deep in it. 2013 was a hard year for me . . . to be completely honest I still feel a sting in my gut from the past as I write this. I was so emotionally lost and broken, but I have learned that sometimes life breaks you in order to build a stronger you. My foundation needed to be shattered in order for me to rebuild a stronger more emotionally in tune version of myself. Boy, it was a long process.

As far as logistically and aesthetically my vision was clear (thank you Pinterest). These two things were never really “hard” for me. I had a clear aesthetic vision and an unwavering trusted gut feeling that logistically it was just going to work out when the time was right.

Financially things freaked me out from time to time, but again . . . I just knew it was going to work out. I did save every penny and dime I could during this process knowing and trusting that “one day” I’d use it to open up a salon.

So to recap . . . the hardest pieces in this journey thus far have been patience and the emotional instability. I have learned to be better with patience and believe this was Gods way of teaching me this virtue. I also believe God knew that I needed an improvement to set a solid foundation of who I am. To this day, I am still sad that this part of my life was lead with my head down . . . however, I am extremely grateful for the struggles that shaped me and that my perspective on life is light.

Core Values
Core Values: Gratitude | Simplicity | Self Love


>>What advice do you
give aspiring business owners? What are some lessons learned from your experience?<<

I am a lover of quotes and during the toughest of times there were a few that held me together. Those being . . . “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams “Let passion devour laziness” and “Start Somewhere.” I would literally take a breath when I read those words and be like . . . “Yes, okay. I got this.” I love quotes so much that I have my color clients write me a quote during their processing time. A few of my favorites so far are . . . “Real queens fix each other’s crowns” and “You have to be odd to be number 1.” I post up the quotes in this mini porcelain pig I bought from Magnolia Market, and rotate a couple of them at a time.

  • Find quotes that inspire you. Ones that give you fuel.
  • Try your darndest to not let the crazy affect your personal relationships. Starting something completely unknown is uncomfortable, and uncomfortable feelings feed shadowed emotions. I was not the best version of myself during these trying times and that is still hard for me to accept.
  • Do not allow the unknowing emotions hinder the relationships closest to you. Trust.

Looking back I knew where I was going, I fully believed in my vision with my whole heart . . . I just wish I would have enjoyed the moments more. I was so forward focused I forgot to live, and like I mentioned above this too is still hard for me to accept. I honestly lost years, and you can’t set back the clock on the choices you make.

  • Keep your vision clear, but enjoy the ride (even the bumpy parts). It’s all temporary. 
  • I marked my savings account “DO NOT TOUCH.” This helped me. Save any amount you can. $1 is a $1. Even if it’s a small amount, in the end it makes a difference.

As you can see I struggled during this time, but I also believed in myself.

  • Believe in yourself, even if others don’t. Bulldoze naysayers (not literally, but in your mind), and shine your light in the darkness. You only need to see one step in front of you to get where you’re going.

I wrote down my ideas in the notes section of my iPhone, and would Pinterest ideas any chance I could get. Writing down my ideas and seeing photos of the things I sought made my dream real. I searched pictures of ‘open and closed’ signs, wallpaper, décor, décor, décor, marketing tips, you name it. I am so happy I did this because there are about 842 things happening at once when it is time to start moving, and come “go time” this helped me tremendously in reminding me what it was that I actually wanted.

  • Pinterest your ideas. Write down your unique ideas as soon as they pop in your mind. When it comes time to open your business you’ll be so thankful for all of this.
  • Breathe. Balance. Believe. Whatever that looks like for you . . . breathe, balance, believe.
MissionStatement
Mission Statement: My goal for clients to recognize their own individual beauty, one that is uniquely theirs. My vision is for beauty to be seen not only in hair, but in the simple gifts we are awarded each and every day.

 

>>What is your favorite part about your new journey as a small business owner?<<

Wearing whatever I want. LOL no, there are so many “favorites” being a small business owner (challenges too) but as they say . . . the rewards outweigh the risk / trying moments.

A few favorites that come to mind are . . .

  • I get to talk and learn from my wonderfully awesome clients all the while sprucing up their ‘do.
  • “The look— it is the look a person gives themselves in the mirror, like . . . “Heck yea, I like what I see.” Knowing that I helped someone gain confidence in who they already are has got to be one of the most rewarding gifts a hairstylist can have.
  • As a stylist and business owner I am allowed to express myself in so many creative outlets . . . from hair, to décor, attire, products, marketing, etc. and to me . . . that is freedom.

Karen Dahl, you shining soul . . . thank you for giving me a platform to tell my story.

Nikki Johnson
Owner / Hairstylist The Shop Salon
Instagram: @theshopsalon.mn
Website: theshopsalonmn.wixsite.com/theshop

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(Back to Karen, now!) — I truly loved Nikki’s expression of her journey and all of the hard obstacles and raw truth she shares with the rest of us. I leave this post with an amazing photo Nikki sent me – the Enso:

Enso
T H E  E N S O
The “broken circle” in The Shop Salon’s logo is an ensō circle. When I found out the meaning behind this expression of art I knew it was made for The Shop.
The ensō . . .
: :  Is created in a single brush stroke reminding us to appreciate the beauty in each moment.
: :  No two are the same.
: :  The break 1). Signifies how moments in life are imperfect, but perfect and 2). Illustrates that we are not closed off from the universe, but instead reminds us that we are part of something greater than ourselves.
So . . . just as no to ensō circles are the same, no two humans are the same. We are all imperfectly perfect human beings existing together in a universe greater than ourselves.
Live in the moment, experience the beauty, embrace what is #uniquelyyours and go on with your imperfectly perfect self!

 

“What if I fall? Oh, but my darling . . . what if you fly?”

If I can do it, you can do it.

dear avocado toast, i miss you.

Hi all!

It’s Day 14 of the Whole30 so I thought I’d check in since we are officially half-way through! This is kind of odd because I am essentially interviewing myself, but these are some common questions I get when I am doing a round of Whole30. Enjoy!

Are you loving this round of Whole30?Honestly, not really LOVING it, but tolerating it. It’s the sad truth. This is my fourth round and I’m in the boredom phase of the program. That means there’s a lot less ‘new to me’ things going on and way more ‘I’ve done this before, yeah yeah yeah’ going on.

What do you hope to get out of this round?
Honestly, the main reason I did this round of Whole30 was to do just do a mini reset after the holidays. Many of you know I eat pretty clean-to-me about 80% of the time, so I just wanted to push my comfort zone for a solid 30 days… and for a couple reasons

  1. I needed a break from alcohol. I love me some wine, but I also love to give the liver a rest. So many things revolve around alcohol, work-socializing included, so I wanted to remind myself that you don’t need to have a glass of wine to ‘fit in’. This all goes back to my ‘what is a special occasion’ self-discovery mission.
  2. My carb intake was getting a little high, and I was starting to move into the gluten-zone. Which admittedly won’t kill me, but if I do it enough over a long period of time, I get the puffy face, abdomen, and delayed digestive distress. It’s been good to find some other foods for my carb intake like all forms of potatoes and yams.
  3. I wanted to eat more greens. Whole30 basically forces you to eat greens, which can be quite the shock to the system if you haven’t been doing so for quite some time! I have been upping my kale intake to the point that I’m not sure I can live without it.
  4. Debloating. A combination of eating more veggies, no processed carbs, no alcohol leads to a debloating party. Week 2 is when I usually see the bloating significantly subside. Once you truly debloat, it’s easy to identify what foods cause severe bloating. Plus, bonus is that your clothes fit so much better.

Will you do a ROUND 5?!
Honestly, I am not even thinking about another round right now. The goal is to NOT have to do many more rounds because we don’t want to get into the yo-yo zone. I’m feeling pretty confident that I can move forward with all of the knowledge I have to make a perfect-for-me game plan about my eating habits and meal planning (and yes, this does include a balance of mindfully indulging during special occasions!)

What are you go-to’s in your fridge and pantry?

  1. Potatoes and squash – in both original and spiral form.
  2. Fruits like berries, bananas, apples
  3. Cashew butter
  4. Larabars
  5. Venison and fish – anything that Nate brings home from hunting and fishing really
  6. Kale
  7. Canned tuna
  8. Avocado
  9. Olive oil and coconut oil
  10. Chicken Apple Sausage (to pair with eggs)

 

What do you miss?
I miss my avocado toast and my apple cinnamon oatmeal in the mornings – breakfast is so hard to switch up on Whole30 as everything is so egg-based. You can count on me introducing those two things back into my life immediately after! I also missed having a drink during that INTENSE Minnesota Vikings game tonight. #SKOL

Do you like the Whole30 Day by Day book so far?
Yes – the Day by Day book is certainly motivating and is very helpful (and probably even more helpful for people who haven’t done this before). I have skipped a few days because I forgot, but essentially it reminds you to think about why you’re doing a Whole30. It gives you snippets into how you’re likely feeling and why that is, and it also forces you to reflect on your energy, sleep, meals, and non-scale victories. It does feel a bit like homework but generally, low maintenance.

Are you going to do anything differently in your last 2 weeks?
Yes – I will be switching up my supplements a bit in the morning. I’m adding in a digestive enzymes and some Vitamin D (thanks, winter). It’s important to me to keep my immune system (and therefore digestive system) strong, so I think this will help me get to the next level of feeling good. I’m still experiencing some unexpected digestive discomfort so I’m crossing my fingers this helps.

 

How do I find out more information about this program?
Easy – just go to the Whole30 website. It has everything you need to get started, including support groups and forums. There are a few different cookbooks (plus Day by Day) that will assist you with new recipes too! While eating Whole30 (essentially Paleo) isn’t for everyone; it’s definitely worth a shot if you’re looking to eliminate troublesome (to you) foods from your diet.

Xo Karen

PS: Check out my Instagram for some food posts! Tonight we had mustard pork chops with potatoes, kale, and sliced apple. Super easy and yummy! To be funny but cruel, here’s a picture of a delicious cranberry almond muffin and a dirty chai tea latte. But hey, only 16 more days… 😉

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new year

Happy New Year, friends!

This post is going to be short and sweet; I apologize it’s been awhile since I’ve last posted but I have a pretty sweet lineup of material coming in 2018 so don’t give up on me just yet!

Many people (myself included) use the new year as motivation to ‘start fresh’. We want to ‘start fresh’ but we aren’t sure where to start most of the time, so I thought I’d give you some (hopefully) simple ideas to jump-start your clean slate in 2018:

Decluttering Burst:

  1. Dispose of old bills, receipts, medical/dental/doctor papers, prescription papers, etc.
    1. Recycle it (and shred it!) if…
      1. It’s out of date
      2. You have multiple copies (including electronic copies)
  2. Get rid of expired food in your:
    1. Fridge
    2. Cupboards
    3. Spice Rack
    4. Pantry
  3. Get rid of expired medications (look up how to do this if you’re unsure how to dispose of certain medications)
  4. Get rid of old beauty products (look up how to get rid of certain products to dispose of them correctly):
    1. Makeup
    2. Sunscreens
    3. Lotions
    4. Perfumes
    5. Loofah/razors/pumice stones
    6. Skin Regimens
    7. Lip Balms and Lipsticks

Decluttering and organizing can really lift weight off your shoulders and lead to feelings of accomplishment. Little accomplishments  truly make the biggest differences! Even minor decluttering gives  instantaneous satisfaction, so it doesn’t hurt to start small and make your way up to tackling larger projects… (cough*yourcloset*cough).

Yesterday evening I attended a yoga class and we were instructed to set an intention to release something that was no longer serving us. While I’ve accomplished a lot this year, I found myself being very lackadaisical in the later half of 2017. I’ve decided to commit to myself and my health, and to jump-start that I’m doing the following:

  • Use my Passion Planner to set intentions and goals for each day – and incorporate Melody Beattie’s Journey to the Heart.
  • Run a 15k – I’ve been toying around with this idea for over a YEAR and I’ve finally decided to commit to completing a 15k in February. That means sticking to a strict training schedule for the next 5 weeks — pray for me.
  • Learning to say ‘no’ to activities I do not want to do – how many times have you gone along with someone else’s plans and you end up spending too much time or money on something that didn’t serve you? 

Finally, the January Whole30 is here! Today is Day 1 of Whole30 and my intention is to share each week with reflections, tips and tricks with all of you. This is my fourth round of Whole30 and I am so proud of how far I’ve come with learning new recipes, identifying problematic (to me) foods, and learning to read food labels. Follow me on Instagram to see more frequent posts over the next 30 days (@kdahl.mpls). This morning I’m sitting on the couch with a hot cup of (black) coffee enjoying the first morning of the new year, excited for a year of intention, health, and balance.

What are you letting go of from 2017? What are you welcoming in 2018?

Xo Karen

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the pretty now spotlight

Happy Sunday, friends!

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I’m so excited to share some insight to my dear friend’s blog – Molly Osborn’s ‘The Pretty Now’.

Molly and I go back to college, where we both found passion in event planning and finding ways to express creativity through various outlets. Molly just recently launched her blog (her platform she’s been talking to me about for over a year). I want to share her thoughts on blogging, what inspired her to blog, and what her blog means to her (and her followers). Please check out her space: https://www.theprettynow.com/. Enjoy!

1. What does The Pretty Now mean? ‘The Pretty Now’ is a testament to myself. It’s my personal pursuit of a pretty mind, heart, body & soul. It’s consciously working every day to have kinder thoughts, kinder words, kinder actions, purposeful connections with friends and strangers alike. A commitment to strengthening my body, my mind & pursuing only the things that enrich my soul. 

2. What is vision and the purpose of The Pretty Now blog? What are you trying to accomplish using a blogging platform? Number 1 answers part of this question – but as for what I’m trying to accomplish: Simply put, I love to write. For me, the purpose behind the blog is for a creative outlet for myself. But I’m extremely passionate about people and making connections. If people read my blogs and in someway connect to something I’ve written, if they say “yeah, I get that” or “wow, me too” – that would be a dream come true. There’s nothing more powerful than that raw, authentic connection to another person because of shared or similar life experiences.

3. What type of content can your readers expect from your blog posts? I’m someone who really speaks from my heart, so a lot of my content will be reflective of what’s on my mind and in my heart that day. Lessons learned in the workplace, every day life or in marriage. Experiences that cause me to think deeper about things in a new way, I’ll be sharing them and writing them on my blog. You can also expect to see pieces of my life at home, my style and approach to fashion. Another topic I’m passionate about is health. I’ll be sharing my health and wellness journey through classes I love to attend, newest recipes, etc. 

4. Who inspired you to create a blog – what other blogging platforms or accounts have you looked to for inspiration? I wouldn’t say that I was necessarily inspired by any one person to create my blog. Like I mentioned, I love to write. I’ve always loved to write. I often feel really passionate about experiences I’ve had and felt a need to share them. Not necessarily for people to read, but to process what I was experiencing and thinking. Throughout college, I did this in a personal journal. Writing was always so freeing. A way to get things off my mind – good or bad things alike. As I’ve grown and matured, my platform for sharing these thoughts and experiences changed. It started with an Instagram account that I used to keep private from people in my personal life, haha! I was using it to connect with other like-minded creatives and to feel that support for similar interests, struggles and triumphs. The Instagram started to take shape and I began to let down my walls a bit (literally, I stopped blocking people from my personal life who found me) and allowed people to follow along. I set a goal at the beginning of 2017 to finally take the leap and create my personal blogging space and take my writing to a new platform. It took me nearly a year, but I launched it in November of 2017 and I’m incredibly proud and excited to be in this space. 

5. What logistical steps did you take to start your blog? I was really lucky to have a friend of mine who is an artist and blogger (Katie Ryan – @queenikathleeni) to help me with the initial process of creating a blog. She quite literally started my platform for me and showed me the ropes. The first platform I was on was WordPress. This platform offers free templates and is a great place to start for people who aren’t quite sure what they’re wanting out of their blogging and don’t want to pay for a site (which was me at this point!) However, the more I toyed around with WordPress the less I liked it. I ended up switching over to Squarespace and purchasing a template/web domain. It was scary to make that jump into paying for the platform, but I’m so happy I did. Squarespace is extremely user friendly. Especially for someone like me who is NOT tech savvy. I’ve had such a great experience so far and would recommend it to anyone looking for a great blogging space! 

6. What advice would you give to someone who is looking to use blogging as a creative outlet? The advice I would give to someone who’s looking to use blogging as a creative outlet is DO IT! If you’re passionate about something, embrace it. I know there are a lot of fears that come with starting a blog, I’ve felt them myself. What will people think? Will anyone read it? Is it stupid? But if we can shift our thinking and realize that this is something that brings us joy, allows creative freedom, releases stress & fuels a passion in us…then it’s easier to take the leap. 

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xo Karen

post food freedom 30

Hello friends! Happy Sunday. I hope you’ve all had a great (long) Thanksgiving weekend, and enjoyed the many good foods that come along with the traditional holiday. I know I am ready to get back into a healthy eating routine after this past week!

In October I posted about “foodfreedom30”, which was my formal attempt at practicing Food Freedom using my judgement and my knowledge about my relationship with food to drive my nutritional choices. I bought a food journal to document how my meals made me feel, what foods keep me energized, etc. in hopes to expand my understanding of my relationship with food.

I wish I could tell you that my foodfreedom30 went well, because, it really didn’t. It didn’t go as expected because I found out one major detail about myself – I do NOT like food journaling. In fact, I disliked it so much I stopped after the first week. This is quite surprising to me because I’m in love with documenting ideas, creating to-do lists, using pen and paper to write things down, etc., but when it came time to document my meals and snacks at the end of the day, it felt like homework.

I switched from food journaling to using MyFitnessPal on a semi-regular basis, which was much easier for me to pop into my phone or computer during the day and document my meals right after I prepared them. It actually helped me plan my meals since I was trying to be cognizant of decreasing my carbohydrate and sugar intake (these can be my “foods without brakes”). Once I had an understanding of the general macros of the regular foods I eat, I stopped tracking my meals on a regular basis. I will still look up some foods here and there to understand macros, but overall food tracking is not very sustainable for my lifestyle.

At the end of the day, I’m just realizing that I don’t want to feel like I’m putting in excess effort to track my meals. It’s not for me, and the minute my Food Freedom feels like homework rather than a journey of self awareness is the moment I need to take a step back to re-evaluate my approach to leading a happy and healthy life.

With that said, I indulged over the holiday (and even had gluten – trust me, I am definitely paying for it, but the special occasion was worth it). I ran a five mile Turkey Trot and got a free personal pumpkin pie, which I did not hesitate to eat during Thanksgiving weekend! Part of Food Freedom is recognizing when the holidays are over, and bouncing back to your normal routines.

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A couple ways I like to bounce back from a fun week or weekend (holidays, vacations, parties, etc.) are:

  1. Drink lots of water! One can never go wrong with good ole H2O. I recently bought myself a 32oz water bottle and have been motivated to drink at least 2 per day to keep hydrated. If you’re feeling lethargic or your digestion is feeling off, try upping your water intake to help your body recover from foods and drinks you’ve consumed over the holidays.
  2. Make yourself a Turmeric drink (or buy one)! I have toyed around with making “Golden Milk” or “Turmeric Lattes”. They are definitely an acquired taste if you’re not used to drinking or eating a lot of Turmeric, but the drink has excellent anti-inflammatory qualities. If you’re lazy (like I am 90% of the time), try KeVita’s Turmeric Ginger Tonic probiotic drink. It’s fizzy, tasty, and all around a great way to help your body work through some of the junk you’ve eaten over the past few days.
  3. Sweat it out! Up your workouts over the next couple weeks. It will help you get back into your workout routine and will also allow your body to sweat. Sweating is a great way to open up the pores and let your body burn through what was consumed over the holiday. Drink a lot of water and head to the sauna as a bonus!

Food Freedom means something different to each individual person. I don’t think I’ve fully achieved Food Freedom but I am certainly proud of how far I’ve come in identifying trigger foods and foods that upset my stomach or give me migraines. I’m learning to be kind to myself and allow myself time to figure out what the best routines are for optimum health. I’m also trying not to obsess over the fact that I’m not exactly where I want to be. Sometimes, you just have to be happy with your small gains and be present in this moment. With that said, I have decided to commit to a Winter Whole30, and am happy to try another round now that I know that the best way for me to actually practice Food Freedom is to not to track or journal my meals, but rather finding recipes with whole ingredients that I know will give me overall energy and satisfaction. The only difference with my next Whole30 is, I’m going to tweak my rules and allow myself to cook Paleo – which would inspire a lifestyle change focus rather than a food reset focus. Again, my goal is to develop great habits for the long-term, so going a Paleo-inspired route for 30 days will give me that flexibility of using whole ingredients but learning how to also make “fun” foods as healthier alternatives. Hopefully by day 30 the good habits will set in and I’ll have some new favorite recipes to share!

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As you’re probably noticing, I really don’t have it all figured out. I think the major takeaway from practicing Food Freedom is this: every day is a learning experience. You are not suddenly prepared for the rest of your life because you dedicated a month or two to journaling, food tracking, a Whole30 etc. Just like altering your diet, understanding your health is a lifestyle commitment. I love trying new ideas to optimize my health, and if something isn’t working for me physically, physiologically, or mentally, I’m going to stop and change my approaches. Do not feel pressure to stick to something that isn’t working for you, but DO push yourself to recognize what’s hard in a good way vs. hard in a bad way. There’s a lot of emotion that goes into lifestyle changes, food and fitness in particular. Always have a support system to help you through your journey – sometimes you’ll need a little extra push or cheer to get yourself to the next level of self-awareness.

Have a wonderful week all! Mondays after long weekends can be tough, but stick to your routines and you’ll be just fine!

Xo Karen

the minute my Food Freedom feels like homework rather than a journey of self awareness is the moment I need to take a step back to re-evaluate my approach to leading a happy and healthy life.

winter is coming

Hi all! It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, but I’ve been so busy lately with work, social events, and spending time with family. It’s getting chilly outside and for those of you living in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, we’ve already witnessed our first sticky snowfall of the season.

I am the Lorelai Gilmore when it comes to snow. I live for the crisp air and that cold smell that means snow is on the way. When I was younger I jumped on the “I hate Winter” bandwagon but the truth is, Winter is beautiful. Winter is a season that defines holidays  like Christmas, The New Year, Valentine’s Day, etc.  Winter means HOT coffee, big comfy sweaters, peppermint flavored drinks and treats. Winter is time for warm boots, over-sized hats and mittens. It means heated blankets, movie nights, and let’s be honest… hibernation.

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If you’re like me, you’re really excited for some down time and Winter is the perfect time of year for down time. You might feel like Winter causes us to become lazy and boring. Perhaps it’s true on some level however it doesn’t have to be the case in most instances. Here are a few low-key, but exciting activities to do this Winter (some involve escaping hibernation, though!)

  1. Dust off those books on your shelf (or Kindle)! Winter is the perfect time to start reading your heart out. I mentioned heated blankets, hot coffee, big comfy sweaters – why not enjoy all of these things with a book in hand? There’s nothing I love more than snuggling in bed and reading for at least an hour before getting some shut eye. It’s such a relaxing way to end the night. Put yourself up to reading at least five books this Winter. If you’re looking for recommendations – try www.goodreads.com as a drawing board for your to-read list.
  2. Host movie nights – I use the word host very loosely (you can host a movie night for yourself too!) But instead of going out into the cold, invite everyone in! Movie nights with hot chocolate (or wine), popcorn, and snuggly pajamas is the perfect way to spend a Friday night after work or even a Sunday afternoon when you’re just needing time to wind down after a busy week or weekend.
  3. Make fun dinners at home – skip going out! One of my favorite dinners to make at home is homemade pizza. There are various crusts you can buy at the store for an easy assembly of the perfect pizza. My favorites pizza flavors are Hawaiin or Spinach/Goat Cheese/Mushrooms. The beauty about making your own pizza is that you have total control over the ingredients.
  4. Minimize your belongings – Winter is the perfect time to look at what’s inside your home to assess what’s taking up too much space and what’s causing clutter. We spend so much time outside during the warmer months that we often forget about de-cluttering and organizing inside the home. I’ve been working really hard to get rid of clothing, accessories, makeup, etc. that I don’t use so I am always able to choose my favorite products and outfits when I get ready in the morning. Order a clean-out bag from ThredUp for an easy way to sell clothing (and they’ll donate what doesn’t sell, too!). By the time Spring rolls around, you’ll have a clean closet that’s ready for new, fun items (can you say Spring shopping spree?).
  5. Try new home workouts – My least favorite part about working out or going to a class is physically getting into my car (probably scraping off ice and snow first) and enduring the morning cold just to get a workout in. If you’re feeling intimidated by the cold, try finding some home workouts to enjoy. Tone It Up is a free website with weekly workouts that are accommodating and accessible. There are also many YouTube videos (this can really suck you into a rabbit hole!) that are effective for home workouts. My favorite kettlebell workouts are by BodyFit by Amy. If you’re really wanting to ‘get comfortable with being uncomfortable’, try Jillian Michael’s various videos – my favorites are Yoga Meltdown, Trouble Zones, and her 30 Day Shred series.
  6. Get outside and be active! Ski, snowboard, ice skate, take walks, snow shoe, ice fish – there are so many winter sports and recreational activities at the tips of our fingers. Many people forget the Midwest has some inexpensive yet entertaining parks and hills to explore during the winter. Bundle up and explore the outdoors with friends and family, whether it’s in an ice shack, a ski lodge, a state park, or simply around local trails, you’re bound to enjoy the sights and the company.
  7. Visit a local brewery or distillery with friends. Often times Winter forces us to stay inside, so why not do so with a drink in hand while playing board games or trivia with friends? Taste the new Winter taps and socialize with a flight or two.

I hope you’re a little inspired to keep busy during the Winter months. It’s okay and obviously normal to avoid the cold weather. If you’re loving the chilly temps, and you’re really in love with snow, start a weekend morning with a walk outside with some hot coffee. Winter is beautiful and we should embrace it (of course, depending on the wind chill…am I right). Perhaps I’ll be whistling a different tune in a few months, but right now I’m ready for some cozy nights and holiday cheer. 

xo Karen

entrepreneur spotlight: kathy perdzock

I always envy those who have the courage and determination to start their own businesses. It’s amazing how much hard work and planning goes into creating your own empire. Today’s Entrepreneur Spotlight is my Mom, Kathy Perdzock. I didn’t inherit the entrepreneur gene (sorry, Mom!) but I always admire her story and go to her for working-world advise. Enjoy!10557231_10204530449413232_2567558594319826326_nKathy Perdzock: VP of Operations | Fiduciary Partners Trust Company

1. How did you know you wanted to start your own business? What was your ‘breaking point’, or your true motivation for starting your own ventures?

It wasn’t until I was approached to be a partner in a new venture that I thought of starting a business. The idea and challenges of building a trust company from the ground up was a bit overwhelming so I relied on my “gut feeling” to move forward with it. The people involved in starting the business had complete confidence in me which made the decision a bit easier. In hindsight, it turned out to be the best career move I ever made.

2. What are your largest accomplishments and what do you attribute those to?

Our company has experienced many accomplishments over the past 16 years. We’ve grown from 2 employees in 2001 to 28 employees in 2017. We reached a big milestone in 2014 by surpassing $1 billion in assets under administration. This is all attributed to our awesome staff. Our employees are not only well educated and talented in our industry, but they are genuinely good people. I share this accomplishment with all of them.

3. What are your top 3 lessons learned? How did you overcome these shortcomings?

Lesson #1: Take advantages of outside resources and networking – You will never know it all. Take advantage of the opportunities to learn from others and learn from your mistakes. Being in banking and trust for over 30+ years I’ve been fortunate enough to surround myself around many experienced people.

Lesson #2: Don’t get too hung up on immediate success – It takes time to build confidence and credibility but with hard work, a positive attitude and a little luck, success will follow. In the meantime, don’t forget to take time for yourself and family.

Lesson #3: Don’t resist change as change is inevitable – This is huge. When I look back when we started FPTC and compare it to now, just about everything has changed. Technology is more advanced, compliance is more complex, succession and management planning has shifted into full swing. We were a very fast growing company so it was necessary to constantly review our policies and procedures to keep up with managing risk.

4. What personality traits and skills do you think are important for future entrepreneurs to have?

Entrepreneurs need to wear several hats, especially in the beginning phase of a new business. However, as the business grows it’s important to be able to build trust in the staff and delegate duties. It’s also important in business to exercise patience, maintain a positive attitude, and have a strong work ethic. In our business, we need to be professional in our decisions, but personable in our approach to our clients and centers of influence.

5. What resources and support systems (professional, educational, personal) have you used to help you through your journey

My best resource in learning this business was always right next to me. We’ve added very experienced and educated people that have worked in the trust business for many years. In fact, several of our employees were people I once worked with when I started out in the trust business in 1989. I also have developed relationships with our systems providers that offer conferences and continued education. I was able to learn specifics about trust operations and security processing by completing a very intensive three-year course provided by an accredited school that specializes in trust and banking careers.

“In our business, we need to be professional in our decisions, but personable in our approach to our clients and centers of influence.”

lazy sunday crockpot chili

Happy Sunday!

I’m sitting on my couch watching the Green Bay Packers vs Minnesota Vikings game, and I can’t help but smile because I am in LOVE with lazy Sunday afternoons.

It’s lazy Sundays that really inspire me to food prep in the most efficient and simple ways possible. Some meal prepping requires more effort – but what if you’re just not in the mood to give all of your time and energy to food prep for the day?

The simplest solution = crock pot chili.

There’s not a right or wrong way to make chili. If you’ve ever been to a chili cook-off, you’re exposed to all of the variations of proteins, textures, colors, tastes, etc. of homemade chili. I recently toyed with a new-to-me chili recipe, and it’s my favorite batch I’ve made thus far (this is a really big deal). Because I’m so excited about this, I thought I would share with you all. Enjoy!

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Lazy Sunday Crockpot Chili (GF)

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 2 bell peppers (diced)
  • 2 onions (diced)
  • 1 can beans of choice
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • ¼ cup chili infused olive oil
  • ~1 cup of water
  • 1 can (or bag) of sweet corn
  • Chopped kale
  • Chili powder to taste
  • Salt, pepper to taste

Steps:

  1. Cook the ground turkey in a stove-top skillet until completely browned. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  2. Turn crock pot to Med-High heat to start warming up.
  3. Scoop the can of tomato paste into the crock pot.
  4. Fill the empty tomato paste can with water, pour the water into the crock pot.
  5. Mix the water and tomato paste with a rubber spatula until combined.
  6. Empty skillet of ground turkey into the crock pot. Stir.
  7. Empty the bell peppers, onions, corn, and beans into the crock pot. Stir. (Pro tip: Most grocery stores have frozen bags of diced onions and peppers! Score!)
  8. Add chili powder to the mixture. This is completely up to you depending on how spicy you like your chili. I start with seasoning the entire surface of the chili and mix it in. Do a taste check and determine if more is needed.
  9. Add the chili infused olive oil to the chili. You can use any flavor of infused olive oil. This not a necessary ingredient but I had some on hand and really enjoy the extra kick.
  10. Add kale to preference. I buy kale frozen and chopped so it’s easy to add to soups, chilis, chicken bakes, etc. I covered the entire surface with kale pieces and then mixed it in.
  11. Once all ingredients are mixed in, let the chili warm in the crock pot for about an hour. If you’re in a rush, heat in the microwave (this is okay since the meat is already cooked) but I like the vegetables to get softer in the crock pot before serving.
  12. Serve with sharp cheddar and your toppings of choice. Try plain Greek yogurt and avocado for some healthier alternatives to sour cream.

This is a CHUNKY chili. A little goes a long way. The batch makes almost 50 fluid oz of chili so if you’re a household of two, it’s a nice staple for the entire week. If you want to thin out the chili a bit, add some vegetable broth in addition to the can of water.

As much as I like this recipe, I think next time I’m going to add sweet potato chunks and chopped zucchini, and possibly remove the beans. It’s fun to play around with different veggies and combinations! Remember – there’s no wrong way to make chili. It’s simple, delicious, affordable, and perfect for lazy (cold) Sundays.

Have a great week everyone!

xo Karen