NaNoWriMo Day #1 – Sick in bed

I’m sitting here in bed, approximately 12:45pm my time and until I started writing this blog post, I hadn’t written a single word. I should be well on my way to my goal of ~ 2000 words for today, but my body decided to rebel against the first day of NaNo. I have had a total of about 2 hours of sleep and am currently battling what feels like a really bad cold and sore throat.

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I hate taking antibiotics because they’re scary sometimes, so I’m fighting this with tea, essential oils, and what cold medicine I do have in my cabinet. Does anyone have any recommendations for natural ways to soothe a sore throat or get rid of sinus congestion? I’m all for it. I’ve been using peppermint and it seems to be helping with some of it, but it hasn’t helped the burning, sore throat. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

The words are jumbling together because my eyes are crossing. Lack of sleep and some decongestant makes for foggy brain and that’s not super conducive to writing, let me tell you.

But, as I said before, I am counting every word that I write this month towards my NaNo goal. Not just one work, but my blog, poems, songs, etc. as well. So, this is a start. I’m hoping after some food and more tea I can sit down and at least write some things regarding a story I have bouncing around in my head. I’d like to get it out so it stops bugging me and can become a more fleshed out thing.

How about you? I hope your first day of NaNoWriMo is going much better than mine. Are you hitting any roadblocks yet or are you just flying through? I’ve been following the official NaNo Twitter and some of the coachings have been helpful, especially since I’m a NaNo newbie. I recommend it if you haven’t checked it out it already.

As for now, it’s time to nurture this cold (hopefully not strep!) and get back to healing.

Happy NaNo-ing!

Until next time! ❤

Current word count: 345

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My De-Stressing Nighttime Self-Care Routine

Between job hunting and working way too hard during my Fall internship, my mind and body have been just completely exhausted. Last week, I came home from a long day and not only did I hurt all over, I had a pinched nerve, my stress level was through the roof, and I just needed to “get away” for a little while.

Thankfully, I had everything I needed to relax right in my reach. So, I’d like to present to you, my stress relieving nighttime self-care routine.

First: Run a warm bath.

Recently, at our town’s Fall Festival, I purchased a large lemongrass bath bomb made by a local artisan and boy-oh-boy did it smell amazing.

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As you can see, it’s massive. I broke it in half, but could have easily used a quarter of it and been fine. The scent was delightfully strong, but not overpowering or bothersome. Also, it was fun to watch the bathtub fill up because the bath bomb made it look like lemonade!

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Because my muscles were so sore, I ran the bath much warmer than I normally do and let me tell you, as soon as I lay down in that tub… it was pure bliss. The bath bomb left my skin feeling moisturized, almost as if I’d put an oil in the tub, and that was a pleasant surprise. But, I skipped ahead.

Second: While the tub is running, light a candle.

Seeing as I already had such a strong scent with the bath bomb, I would not have wanted to overdo it with something else strongly scented. So, if I were you, I would opt for a lightly-scented option or even an unscented couple of tealights just for the warm glow. (I didn’t have any unscented candles on hand, but I did have an oil-warmer that emits light so I just turned that on and used the glow from that, sans oil.)

Third: Turn off your technology and turn on some relaxing music.

I use my phone as my source of music, so I put my phone in airplane mode, meaning no one could contact me and I wouldn’t get any notifications. Then, I turned on a wonderful Pandora station I recently discovered: Solo Piano.

piano-1396971_960_720(Piano photo courtesy of Pixabay.com)

(Click here to listen. I highly recommend it.) The music was so intensely calming and drowned out any background noise my family might’ve been making out in the living room. It was perfect. I just laid back, closed my eyes, and let the relaxation just flow over me. (I recommend putting your phone out of reach from the bathtub so you’re not tempted to grab it out of habit or wanting to look something up.)

Fourth: Breathe.

As I relaxed, I worked on some mindfuless breathing exercises I’ve learned as those help calm my tense muscles and my overcrowded mind. I’ll probably do a post on those at some point, but if you’re interested, I highly recommend looking up some breathing exercises on YouTube or Pinterest. Meditation, mindfulness, and relaxation are keywords to use.

That’s pretty much it. It’s simple as to not stress me out even more, and it’s a nice, quiet way to escape for awhile without ever leaving your own bathroom! For some next-level pampering, add a face mask or some deep conditioner to your hair while you soak. I love using a calming cucumber-based mask for my face when I soak in the tub. Oh! Maybe follow the bath with a nice, warm cup of chamomile tea! Mmm…

As a sufferer of moderate anxiety and depression, nights like these are incredibly important to my overall health and wellness. It’s not feasible every single night, but taking a half hour or so every now and again has truly helped to improve my mental state. If you’re ever feeling like things are just too much, I highly recommend doing one or more of the tasks mentioned above. Especially breathing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to remind myself to truly breathe. So much so, in fact, that this is my current phone background I found on Pinterest:

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Learning to deal with my anxiety has been something I’ve tried to work on lately and this routine is just one of the things I have found works for me.

What about you? Do you have a “treat yourself” kind of routine or things you like to do to relax? I’m always looking for ways to relax and improve my self-care, so I’d love some suggestions!

As always, thank you so much for reading.

Until next time! ❤

Eating Cruelty-Free: My first steps

As some of you know, last week I publicly declared that I wanted to start adding eating cruelty-free to my list of goals. The reason I decided to proclaim this so early is because I have hopes that not only will it keep me accountable and I’ll be less likely to give up, but I also want to ask for help and receive any guidance others are willing to give me along the way. I’d love anyone to help me out and share their experiences with their journey so that I might learn from them and I’m not just jumping into this blindly.

Ever since that post I’ve been spending any and all free moments doing research on how to begin a more plant-based diet. Thanks to the heaven that is Pinterest, I’ve learned a lot about vegan alternatives to things like meat and eggs, which stores stock a large section of vegan groceries, and how to healthily switch over from being an omnivore, to being more of an herbivore.

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(The start of one of my inspiration board. Feel free to follow me if you’d like!)

I’d like to use my blog as a way to help document for myself the steps I’m taking on this journey so that I can look back on them and see where I’ve been, what mistakes or discoveries I’ve made, and hopefully the improvement that I’ve made along the way.

So, I’m going to start listing the things I’m doing each week or so to help improve my lifestyle and educate myself on how to go about this journey.

  • Shopping:
    -Simply Balanced organic smoothies from Target
    -Simply Balanced organic, unsweetened almond milk from Target (The same milk I always buy)
    -V8 Black Cherry Energy drink (Though, now I’m researching and no one knows if it’s vegan or not…? Any ideas?)
    -Gevalia Iced Coffee with Almond Milk from Target
    -Sweet Earth vegan breakfast burritos from Target
    -Earth Balance vegan butter from Publix
    -Grab-and-go fruit & veggie salads from Publix
    -Canned veggies from Publix
    – Potatoes from Publix (for a yummy vegan breakfast recipe I found)

I’m sure there were more things, but those are the ones I remember right now. I plan on doing more research and maybe hitting up a Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods when I get the chance. I’m just worried about the prices at those stores. I’m a Target card holder and I *LOVE* their Cartwheel app so I’m used to getting good deals when I go there. But, I guess it’s just like any other store and I’ll need to do my research before I go.

Next on my list of goals is to find a farmer’s market in my area! I’m saving that for when I have a list of recipes under my belt that I know I can shop for there. All in good time, though.

Anyway, if you are still reading this, then I truly appreciate you and your willingness to sit through all of that “me, me, and me” chatter. I’m just happy knowing that my choices I make on a daily basis are not only becoming healthier, but are more ethically responsible as well. You’re only here for a short time on this Earth, so why not make sure your impact is one of positivity and growth rather than destruction?

1310574258_md(Image from WVU.com)

As always, thank you so much for stopping by.

Until next time! ❤

(P.S. Today’s featured image & quote comes from fellow blogger leigh54. Check out the awesome quotes and images over there!)

 

Cruelty-Free Flops

Going Cruelty-Free when it comes to healthcare and beauty products is an incredibly long journey. One that, in my experience, has no ending. Companies are constantly changing their policies, new companies are sprouting up, and some products just stop working for you.

I’m here to post about a few products that just flat out didn’t do it for me. These products are by no means “bad,” they just weren’t right for me. Remember, everyone’s body chemistry, skin color/type, and needs are different so this is just a post about products that did not work for what I needed/wanted them for. Please keep that in mind as you read ahead.

In my most recent haul post, I showed you four products I purchased at Ulta. Fortunately, two of those work wonderfully and I will repurchase them. Unfortunately, the other two did not.

The first one was the Yes to Grapefruit Dark Circle Eye Correcting Cream.

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(Image from Tradesy.com)

As I said in my post, it was an impulse buy from their clearance section. Honestly, I wish I had just left it on the shelf. I don’t know if I had a bad tube, but if I didn’t, I can absolutely see why Ulta has discontinued selling this product. It comes out a strange off-yellow/white color which wasn’t particularly pleasant to look at, but who cares? It’s not about how it looks. The scent, however, was unbearably strong and so unpleasant. Imagine old lady makeup smell covered in maple syrup and sprayed with cheap citrus perfume. Oh my gosh, I couldn’t even keep this on for five minutes because I had to wash it off. The scent gave me a headache and would not leave my nose. I have no idea if this works because I couldn’t stand it being on me, but I can guarantee you I will be tossing it out and never giving it a second chance. This is a testament to why you should *DO YOUR RESEARCH* before purchasing a product. Trust me, you’ll thank me.

Product #2 from my haul is the Crystal Original Deodorant Stick

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(Image from Amazon)

I mentioned before that I was a fan of Crystal’s Roll-On liquid formula, but it wasn’t quite cutting it on these hot, humid Florida days. I figured, why not try the solid version. It has to be more potent, right? So. SO. Wrong. Using the crystal is a little weird. You dampen the top of the stick and then rub it under your arms. It took some getting used to, but I figured it would be worth a shot. This barely lasted at all and after a few days of using it, the crystal itself started to have an odor that will absolutely not go away. I might keep this for days when I’m around the house, but I honestly wouldn’t trust this to work just by itself.

The good news is, I immediately went out to find something else since I needed something for work and I fell in *love* with Crystal’s Essence Lavender & White Tea Roll-On. The scent is just enough to help it last throughout my work day and I feel like this is going to be my new every-day deo. Still hoping to find something stronger for theme park/pool/beach days when I’m out all day, but hopefully soon!

So, have you encountered any “never-again” products on your cruelty-free journey? I’m currently trying to use up what I already have before getting anything else, and I think I might renew my Petit Vour subscription so I can get back to trying out CF products before I buy.

Any suggestions for good CF/vegan brands I should be on the lookout for?

Thanks, as always, for stopping by!

Until next time! ❤

I’m a Crock Addict

Ha. Ha. Ha… It was funny, right?

So, one of my favorite Christmas gifts I got this year was my lovely Crock Pot. (Click for the exact model.)

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(Thanks, Dad!)

Ever since I got it, it has made cooking *so much easier!* My boyfriend and I got into the bad habit of buying those frozen single serving meals and eating those at work and finally, one day, I think my body was just like, “Hey! Enough of that garbage! Give me real food!” So, in an effort to eat less of the processed cheap stuff, I’ve been cooking meals at least once a week in this baby and I don’t plan on stopping any time soon!

As one could imagine, this has resulted in me spending a lot of time on Pinterest, looking up recipes that not only would be healthier alternatives to food I already love, but also food that my picky boyfriend would eat. 😉 (Love you, Eddy!)

So, I’m here to share with you some of my favorites that we’ve made so far.

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Crock Pot Ranch Chicken Dinner – MomsWithCrockPots

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This recipe is not only the easiest of everything I’ve made, but it’s also been both of our favorites! In fact, I just put it in for dinner tonight/leftovers for work. Oh, and I *always* buy the “No Sodium Added” versions of canned veggies because, holy moly, they can be so filled with sodium! I’m talking 300mg+ for JUST ONE CAN! Ugh.

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(I seriously took this picture while writing this blog post. Talk about breaking news, huh?)

This time, however, I substituted one of the two cans of green beans for corn, and left out the bacon. So simple, yet so delicious. I highly recommend it.

Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan and Pasta – TheMagicalSlowCooker

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(Above picture from Sarah at TheMagicalSlowCooker)

Ok, so maybe this one isn’t *as* healthy, but boy was it delicious. Just like the last recipe, I always go with ingredients that have less saturated fat and less sodium than what the recipe suggests, so they’ll taste a little different, but they’re so delicious. For example, this recipe calls for a specific flavor of Ragu that had over 500mg of sodium in the can. I wasn’t comfortable with that, so Eddy and I bought a plain tomato sauce and seasoned it ourselves. Dee-licious! We also changed it up and got whole grain pasta and a lower fat cheese. Hey, every little big helps, right?

I’ve also tried making a chili which wasn’t as spicy as I normally like it, but I need to adjust the recipe because it was *way* too watery for my taste. This Texas girl loves her chili. The flavors were all very good, though, and Eddy and I both basically inhaled that back when it was “cold” for a few days here in Florida.  (Click for the recipe from Chelsea at LifeWithMyLittles.com)

The next things I want to try are going to be breakfast recipes. I used to make a breakfast casserole in the crock pot but I can’t for the life of me find the recipe. So, it’s back to Pinterest I go, I guess. Oh!! And Paleo. I really want to start looking into paleo foods to eat. Ok, I’m inspired now. Time to go pin!

If you’re interested in any of these recipes or some of the others that I want to try, please feel free to follow me on Pinterest. I’m not on the site very often but I do love to share a good find, especially when it comes to yummy food.

I hope you enjoyed this little post about my crock pot cooking, and I would *love* if you would share with me any recipes you might know and love, or think I should try.

Until next time! ❤

My First Ever LUSH Haul!

Ok, I am SOOOO behind the times with this. I’ve always wanted to try LUSH because of their cruelty-free practices, but I just never gave them a shot. I’d walk by the store and just assume everything was going to be really expensive until one day I ran out of shampoo and I had heard great things about LUSH’s Shampoo Bars. So, I decided to go in and I came out with … well, more than just a shampoo bar!

Sadly, this haul was done over a month ago so most of the product has been well-loved and I won’t take pictures. Instead, I’m going to be a lazy blogger and show you the pictures of what I got from LUSH’s website.

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Shampoo Bar in Brazilliant – $9.95

Being a LUSH newbie, I mentioned to one of the employees that I needed something for dry scalp. I had done some research online and expected him to offer me one of the bars I’d read were made for sensitive/itchy scalps but no, he recommended this one, which is made for curly hair. I told him my hair is the furthest thing from curly and he said, “Trust me. I can’t tell you how much this little bar has helped with my scalp.” So, I smelled it and immediately fell in love with the scent, grabbed that and one of their shampoo bar tins and moved on. Let me just tell you, this little orange bar is INCREDIBLE! Not only do I not have an itchy scalp, but I can actually look at my scalp and not cringe because of all the residue build-up. I don’t know what it is, but between this GLORIOUS scent and it’s seemingly cure-all formula, I’ll never buy another shampoo. It’s so easy to use and has lasted me over 6 weeks so far with plenty more to go!

Right next to the shampoo bars was a section about Toothy Tabs. Now, I had read about them but always though, “No way! That sounds awful.” So, since the guy was so helpful, I asked him his honest opinion about the tabs and he explained that while they don’t taste the best, he loves them and uses a minty one in the morning and a whitening one at night. I saw that they were $4.95 a box so I figured, why not?

03417Sparkle Toothy Tabs – $4.95

For whitening, he recommended Sparkle. It sounded pleasant and then I read the ingredients… BLACK PEPPER?! He saw my face and laughed. “Yeah, it sounds unpleasant, but trust me, it’s not as bad as it sounds and if you have sensitive teeth, you’ll love how gentle these are.” I will admit, the first time I tried one, I almost spit it out and rinsed my mouth out. However, I followed the instructions and was pleasantly surprised not only with how well it foamed in my mouth, but how clean my mouth felt afterward, even if it didn’t leave that minty fresh feeling afterward. Now, I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t brush my teeth with this before kissing anyone because it does not leave the most pleasant taste, but I have seen a major improvement in sensitivity from both my teeth and gums. I’m sold on this one.

03420Ultrablast Toothy Tabs – $4.95

I told him I’d like to have that freshly-brushed feeling and he handed me this box. If you thought I was shocked to read about Black Pepper in the other ones, imagine my surprise when I read “Wasabi” as an ingredient in this. He laughed again and told me, “Believe it or not, I use these daily and I have not once tasted the Wasabi.” By this time, I was starting to think he was crazy, or that he was just trying really hard to sell me on things no one else wanted, but I trusted his judgement, and read up online that it does leave a fresh mint-like feeling and decided to give it a shot. Now, this one does not taste the best either, but it’s not really meant to. You put the tab in between your front teeth and crush it up, then put a wet toothbrush in your mouth and brush. Umm.. I kind of love brushing my teeth with these now. Yes, it leaves a freshly-brushed minty feeling, though it’s not nearly as strong as some regular toothpastes. However, I love that I know exactly what ingredients I’m putting into my mouth and love how clean my mouth feels after using these.

After getting those three things, I decided that was enough adventure for one shopping trip so I went to the counter. The cashier was ringing me up, asking if I had questions or if I’d used the products before, and I explained how helpful the guy out on the floor was. The cashier backed up everything he said, and then posted over to a sign on the counter that said something like, “Beat the Microbead” or something like that.

I only recently became aware of the horrible toll that the microbeads in our daily products are taking on the oceans and waterways of our Earth. When the cashier told me that LUSH was starting a campaign not only to ban microbeads from their own products, but encourage other companies to do so as well, I instantly became interested. I don’t think they’re advertising this anymore, but at the time, I could choose from one of their specific scrubs and they would be donating the ENTIRE purchase price to grassroots organizations that were working on getting microbeads completely banned from all products. There was absolutely no question that I wanted to support this, so I chose one called Life’s a Beach, which is actually made up of harmless sand, and they thanked me for my help in “battling the bead.”image

 Of course, I look online for this product now and it was apparently Limited Edition so they don’t sell it anymore. *crying emoji* I cannot tell you how HEAVENLY this scrub is. Not only is it gentle for my overly-sensitive skin, but the scent.. Oh my gosh. Vanilla and caramel sounds like it would be a sickly-sweet combination but holy cow, is it magical. The pot even recommends that if you like the scent, it’s similar to their Vanillary perfume so I just might have to pick that up once my current perfume runs out. Again, I was skeptical about scrubbing my body with sand and salt, mainly because it was worried about it clogging up my drain, but the cashier assured me that it was 100% safe and gets filtered out during water treatment easily, unlike the microbeads. This product is also part of LUSH’s Recycling program where you bring back 5 empty pots of their product for recycling and then you get a free Fresh Face Mask in return.

Overall, I can say that I am 110% satisfied with my first ever LUSH trip. If I had a bigger bathtub, I’d jump at the chance to try some of the bathbombs I see everyone raving about, but for now, I’ll stick to the awesome shower products. The next thing I want to try from them is a conditioner that won’t weigh down my hair in this Florida humidity, and a perfume since Fall is coming and I love wearing sweet scents during the cooler months.

So, as soon as I start to run out of products, I’m going to ask for recommendation from those of you who are more knowledgeable about LUSH. I welcome any and all suggestions. In the meantime, what are *YOUR* favorite LUSH products? I’d love to try some out!

Thank you, as always, for reading.

Until next time! ❤

Holy hiatus, Batman!

Wow! Where did the past almost two months go?

In a nutshell: I’ve started my job as a Trainer for the Creature Comforts, which is the Starbucks location opening next week at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It’s been a full-time job and then some. Learning all new things on top of teaching others the new things I’ve learned has been a test of my patience, mental capacity, and teaching skills.

I have fallen completely in love with Animal Kingdom, though. Between the focus on conservation and environmental issues and all of the new expansions happening with Harambe Market, the addition of nighttime entertainment, and Pandora/Avatar, it’s definitely an exciting place to be.

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Right now, that’s taking up 100% of my time, but when I do have the occasional free morning or evening, I’ve been exploring WDW and chronicling everything on my Instagram. So, if you care to follow that at all, please feel free.

I’m starting to work on getting back into a healthy routine, as well. Since starting the new job, I’m not running like I used to or eating very well and I can tell that it is taking a toll on my body. I don’t like the way I’m feeling and I am going to try my best to not put my health or well-being on the back burner.

For my Florida friends, Creature Comforts opens on June 18th and I hope to see you there!

Here’s to new adventures, new beginnings, and self-care.

Until next time! ❤