Darling Letters: The Beauty of the Ordinary

A picture of its in glassware

We are bringing “Darling Letters” from your inbox to the blog! We love the art of letter writing and believe it helps build authentic community. Our editors and contributors have thoughtfully written encouraging letters to cut through the busyness and speak straight to your heart.

I found a coffee ring hidden beneath a stack of books on my end table today. A blurry-edged circle left behind by my mug from this morning or maybe the one before. The simplest of stains, hinting at an unremarkable moment when coffee slipped silently down the cup’s edge and settled on the surface beneath.

The surprise of it made me smile, like I’d found my own footprint in the soils of such a simple morning spent alone. It looked for a moment like the rings of a treetelling of all the years the tree has survived and the strength of its roots deepening day-by-day in tiny, imperceptible ways. It was just a ring of coffee, but in that moment, I saw the faintest fossil of my beautifully ordinary life. 

It was just a ring of coffee, but in that moment, I saw the faintest fossil of my beautifully ordinary life. 

I want to see everything in this way—to hold up all the familiar, unexceptional pieces of my days and view them in light of such astoundingly simple grace. I want to stop measuring my life by bullet points when all the matter in the middle holds such clear evidence of its beauty.

I want to celebrate the coffee rings of quiet mornings. I want to be grateful for every tiny, imperceptible moment that deepens my roots and strengthens my soul for survival and celebration.

I want to be grateful for every tiny, imperceptible moment that deepens my roots and strengthens my soul for survival and celebration.

Let’s embrace the subtle beauty that saturates the simple things.

With love,

Bailey Price, the Darling family

What’s one ordinary habit or practice you follow during the week? How could you see it with fresh eyes?

Image via Anna Williams, Darling Issue No. 13

The Best Air Fryer Recipes We Just Can’t Live Without





Up until this past December, my most used Christmas present of all time was my trusty Bop It Extreme circa 2002. I had dabbled with the occasional run on the original Bop It, but it wasn’t until I unboxed the Extreme version that I developed what I now can pretty confidently label as a fetish. I took it everywhere, ready to show off my self-declared Olympic skills to any and all who crossed my path. My hands were calloused from incessant attempts to beat my high score and I sat on the edge of my seat for hours on end as I bopped, flicked, pulled, twisted, and spun my way to success. 

It was only a few months ago that I was gifted an item that proved to be even more functional than my beloved Bop It. Despite my long-winded love affair with the Hasbro classic, my brand-spanking-new air fryer absolutely stole the show and secured a permanent spot on my countertop. I use it to make crispy, delightful masterpieces out of otherwise sad veggies, to create mouth-watering entrees, and to reheat just about everything.

Whether you have an air fryer that you haven’t touched since that one impulse Amazon purchase or are looking for some new staple recipes to throw into your air fryer rotation, you’re in luck. These 20 air fryer recipes are so delicious, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them:





Instant Pot

Vortex 4-in-1 Air Fryer

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1. Crispy Chicken Tenders





Source: Lexi’s Clean Living

 

2. Honey Garlic Tofu





Source: Hello Spoonful

 

3. Chicken Taquitos





Source: Show Me The Yummy

 

4. Zucchini Chips





Source: The Movement Menu

 

5. Buffalo Cauliflower Bites





Source: Grandbaby Cakes

 

6. Chicken Parmesan





Source: Fit Foodie Finds

 

7. Crispy Potatoes





Source: Detoxinista

 

8. Grill-Free Hamburger





Source: Plated Cravings

 

9. Bagel Bites





Source: Show Me The Yummy

 

10. Dijon Chicken Thighs





Source: Family Food On The Table

 

11. Grilled Cheese





Source: Basil & Bubbly

 

12. Sour Cream and Onion Chicken





Source: Whisk It Real Gud

 

13. Coconut Tofu Tenders





Source: Simply Quinoa

 

14. Maple Soy Glaze Salmon





Source: Skinnytaste

 

15. Fried Oreos





Source: Show Me The Yummy

 

16. Shrimp with Comeback Sauce





Source: 40 Aprons

 

17. Cinnamon French Toast Sticks





Source: Hello Spoonful

 

18. Garlic Parmesan Brussel Sprouts





Source: Well Plated

 

19. Honey Balsamic Chicken Thighs





Source: Cookin’ Canuck

 

20. Crispy Tilapia





Source: Show Me The Yummy

 






 








A Personal Trainer’s Tips For Getting The Most from Your Workouts





I’m pretty good at fitting a workout into my routine. Whether it’s 10 minutes of pilates on my lunch break or a 35-minute strength-training class after work, I can find time on even the busiest of days. But is finding time enough? Whether you find random pockets of time to squeeze it in like me or rely on 60-minute training sessions six days a week, we can all agree that if we’re going to spend the time to work out, we better get the most from it. 

So what does it take to turn any exercise into an effective workout that will help us reach health goals? Just ask Danyele Wilson, a NASM certified trainer, HIIT master trainer, Tone & Sculpt coach, and all-around badass. After obsessing over her at-home workouts (and envy-worthy abs) on Instagram, I knew I had to pick her brain. Here are her secrets to get the most out of every single workout and reach your fitness goals (hint: work smarter, not longer).

 

1. Define your “why”

As with any health or wellness goal, find a reason to achieve that goal that will motivate you. No matter how much you think you want to work out every day and eat a clean diet, if the reason is that you’re “supposed to” or because it will help you look a certain way, you probably won’t stay motivated through the toughest workouts and busiest days. Instead, think about why you really want to exercise. Is it to feel more confident, be more connected to your body, or to live a longer life? Now that’s what will get you through the tough times. “It’s important to set the tone and intention for your workout, so when it gets hard, you have a clearly defined reason to carry you through,” Wilson explained. 

 

2. Never skip a dynamic warm-up

It goes for new relationships, and it goes for exercise: when you go from 0-100 way too quickly, it can cause some serious damage. As Wilson said, “a warm body is ready to perform; a cold body will put you at risk for injury.” Next time you’re thinking of going straight into a sprint or a HITT circuit, stop and take a few minutes to make sure your body is ready so that it can perform its best and to decrease your risk for injuries. You want to warm up the body to ensure the muscles have enough oxygen and increase flexibility to reduce injuries. Wilson recommends fitting in at least five minutes for a warmup. Try active stretching and low-heart rate cardio like walking on the treadmill.

 

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A post shared by Danyele Wilson (@danyelewilson)

 

3. When weight training, start with compound lifts

Compound lifts are any strengthening exercise where you’re using more than one muscle group at a time (like squats or deadlifts, rather than bicep curls). Wilson said that knowing this is key to getting the most from your workouts. “Compound lifts demand the most energy, so it’s important to get those big lifts out of the way before you start to fatigue,” she explained. If a phrase like “compound lifts” sounds a little too out of your league or weight training is not your thing, Wilson’s tip works as a framework to make the most of any workout. Start with whatever exercise, movement, or part of the body feels the most challenging for you and will require the most energy (instead of putting off the hard stuff until the end). At the beginning of the workout, you’ll have more endurance for tougher movements.

 

4. Focus on mind-muscle connection

If you’re like me and move through workout classes thinking about what you’re going to have for dinner later, new’s flash: we’re missing out on a key piece of the exercise. “Focusing on the mind-muscle connection is important to ensure you are never just going through the motions and are working out as efficiently as possible,” Wilson said. In other words, focusing on the targeted muscle can engage it more, making it work harder and more efficiently. When you’re more mindful of each movement, you’ll be better with your form (more on that below), and you’ll focus on the working muscle, making it work more effectively.

 

5. When you feel tired, focus on form

If you haven’t already perfected your form, you need to. Proper form helps you maximize a workout by using your energy for the extra push, meaning that no movement goes to waste. If you have improper form, you might be targeting unintended muscles and setting yourself up for injury. Plus, good form means you can run faster, jump higher, and push harder (yes, you will feel like Superman). Wilson especially recommends focusing on form when you get tired during a workout. It’s so much easier to slack on form when your body feels exhausted, so being extra conscious can not only help you push through the rest of the workout, but Wilson also relies on this trick to prevent injuries.

 

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A post shared by Danyele Wilson (@danyelewilson)

 

6. At the end of the workout, try something that will empty the tank

Whether you’re looking to maximize a 10-minute, 30-minute, or 60-minute workout, you should end feeling like you gave it your all. Not only is this good for your confidence, but it’s good for your body and ensures that you’re challenging yourself. Wilson recommended ending each workout with a burst of movement that will empty the tank. “This will allow you to surprise yourself with how far you’re able to go,” she said. “Tie meaning to those final movements, dig deep, and finish strong.” Try a rep with a heavier weight or a cardio burst of jumping jacks, and don’t forget to crank up the workout playlist.

 

7. Remember that how you do one thing is how you do everything

Exercise is not only beneficial because you know it’s good for your health. Exercise is an opportunity to boost your confidence, challenge yourself, and learn what you’re capable of. Wilson sees exercise as an opportunity to practice the skills she wants to incorporate in her entire life, believing that the way she does one thing is the way she’ll do everything. “If you’re willing to take shortcuts during a workout, you’ll be willing to take shortcuts in other areas of your life,” she explained. “Decide not to settle, so the power you feel after finishing a tough workout will spill into other areas of your life.” BRB, going to go crush a HITT circuit after that motivation.

 

What has helped you maximize your workouts?