Welcome back Autumn!

Okami Fall Wallpaper

Welcome back Autumn! Every year I look forward to the Fall and the warmth it generates inside my home and soul. Where I live, September and October are still rather warm on some days, and turn wet and cold as the months progress toward Winter.  I cannot get enough of the rain this time of year. The cold, wet weather begins to take over outside, driving us all inside to be together and warm. There’s nothing like cuddling up with people you love, reading a good book, watching a movie or playing a video game while the weather misbehaves outside.

I intend to fully enjoy myself this season and invite you to join me. I will be doing a lot of cooking, crafting, book reading and game playing; among other things. Follow along and try some of these activities for yourself, this is a time we should all enjoy!

I intend on:

  • Decorating for Halloween.
  • Watching Halloween mood movies.
  • Assembling a Halloween costume.
  • Hosting a Halloween dinner party.
  • Carving pumpkins.
  • Roasting pumpkin seeds.
  • Making candy/caramel apples.
  • Cooking a dish for Thanksgiving.
  • Creating and sending Christmas cards.
  • Creating and hanging Christmas ornaments.
  • Decorating for Christmas.
  • Baking Christmas cookies/cake.
  • Watching Christmas mood movies/specials.
  • Visiting local Christmas festivals.
  • Visiting Christmas Disneyland.
  • Hosting a Christmas dinner party.
  • Baking Christmas Cookies.

There will be other activities I do, but these are the core basics I try to do every year.

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Beauty and Hygiene Quick Tips

Beauty:Hygiene

BODY

  • Use an unscented pH balanced bar soap (ie. Dove or Aveeno) to prevent any harsh chemicals from damaging your skin or causing dryness or acne. This is especially important when washing your underarms, pubic region and any other sensitive areas.
  • Liquid body wash can clog pores more than a bar of soap, so if you have body acne, try cleansing with bar soap instead.
  • The best way to get rid of body acne is to use a spray with salicylic acid after drying your skin post-shower. If you have long hair, try to keep it off your back/shoulders, especially when wet and after applying product.
  • If you have Keratosis Pilaris, also known as KP (google for images), the best way to get rid of it is to exfoliate with either a sugar scrub or a gentle exfoliator in the shower, then moisturize immediately after you dry off. It’s generally a result of dry skin, so if you maintain cleanliness and moisturize you could get rid of it.
  • If you shave, buy men’s razors. You get a much closer and smoother shave since they’re made for faces instead of legs. i know they’re not cute or colorful, but you can get more razors as well as more/better blades for less money.
  • Moisturize when you get out of the shower after drying off to retain moisture and soften skin, since water and soap dry it out. It is not recommended to use baby oil or any moisturizer with artificial fragrances or dyes.
  • Please shower after you work out or sweat a lot. This will prevent body acne, bacteria buildup, yeast infections, smelling horrendous, and even staph infection (particularly if you go to the gym). You don’t have to wash your hair every time unless you’re drenched in sweat but please shower.
  • Underarms are sensitive. Try to find deodorant without aluminum or any weird preservatives to prevent rashes.
  • If you have really dry, cracking feet, try putting vaseline or a thick lotion (i use burt’s bees coconut foot creme) on your feet, put on socks, and keep them on overnight. it will feel a little weird and squishy at first, but after a few days you will definitely find it worth it!

Resources & Tutorials:

Check back soon!

FACE

  • I cannot stress enough how amazing coconut oil is. Use it as a makeup remover (especially wonderful for eye makeup!!), a moisturizer, or even as an acne treatment.
  • If you have one of those god-awful huge, painful blemishes, mix coconut oil with a dash 100% tea tree oil (dilute the tea tree oil like this or you WILL get a rash) and use it as a spot treatment. The coconut oil balances the oil on your skin, while the tea tree oil kills bacteria.
  • Be gentle when dealing with your skin, especially with pulling and tugging around your eyes.
  • Incorporate sun protection into your daily routine. Get a moisturizer with spf in it to protect your skin and use it in the mornings. This will prevent wrinkles and, more importantly, skin cancer.
  • Wash your face first thing in the morning to get rid of all the nasty excess oil you produce in your sleep.
  • Wash your face before you go to bed (after removing makeup) too.
  • After washing your face, apply a toner a treatment containing salicylic acid (if you have acne).
  • Moisturize. When you apply acidic products or wash your face without moisturizing it, your skin gets stripped of natural oils/moisture and then panics by creating an excess of oil, meaning you get greasy skin and acne. Get a moisturizer that works with your skin type.
  • If you wear makeup and want to go for a quick/easy/natural/no-makeup look, just cover up any acne with concealer, put on some blush and mascara, and then leave everything else alone. Blush is magical and will instantly make you look fresh and young and alive and pretty.
  • Don’t touch your acne. The more you touch it, the worse it gets. If you have to pop it, wash your hands first and disinfect/put acne treatment on it directly afterward. STOP trying to do anything if you see blood or if it gets too painful.
  • Clean your phone screen and glasses frames with an alcohol swab every few days to keep your face clean.
  • Please do not put lemon juice or baking soda on your face. It is extremely corrosive.
  • Please do not use sugar scrubs or exfoliators meant for your body on your face as it’s way more delicate than your body’s skin.
  • Wash/change your sheets and pillowcase(s) every two weeks MAXIMUM. Imagine how much nastiness gets on your pillowcase from hair products, oil, dead skin.
  • Drink lots of water every day. your skin needs it.
  • Above all, love your skin. be gentle to it. treat it well. it will love you back if you do.

Resources & Tutorials:

Check back soon!

HAIR

  • Try to keep shampoo to your roots and away from the ends. Shampoo pulls the natural oils and moisture out of your hair and when exposed to your tips, can cause your hair to dry out and look frizzy even after conditioner.
  • Do not condition your scalp. Conditioner on your scalp will create product/oil build up, making your hair greasy and flat. Do use conditioner on your ends; start at the nape of your neck and work toward the tips. Let the conditioner sit for a minute or two after applying, then rinse.
  • Reduce frizz by wrapping your delicate wet hair in t-shirt material instead of your towel.
  • When brushing wet hair, start at the ends and work your way up. If you put product on before you brush it, use a different brush at the scalp to reduce any product buildup/greasiness/flatness.
  • Do not go to bed with wet hair. Not only can you develop mold/bacteria in your hair if it stays wet too long, but wet hair is a lot more prone to breakage (meaning the more you toss and turn, the frizzier your hair will be).
  • Brush your hair out at the end of the day to distribute the natural oils in your scalp. This is good for creating shine, decreasing oiliness in second- or third-day roots, and growing out your hair.
  • Use heat protectants before drying/heat styling your hair!
  • Evenly distribute any products you put in by brushing them through.
  • If you have dandruff, try apple cider vinegar.
  • Do not use scalding hot water when showering, ESPECIALLY if you have colored hair. It strips color from your hair and it’s bad for your hair texture and health. Try to use warm to cool water.
  • If your hair lacks body, especially near the scalp, it could be the result of product buildup. Try using a clarifying shampoo or apple cider vinegar once every week or two depending on your hair’s thickness.
  • if your hair is still flat, try changing your part! it instantly changes your look and can immediately add volume.
  • Try to get your hair trimmed every 6 months, at the least.
  • Sea salt spray creates instant body and texture on most hair types, but is especially great if you have wavy to curly hair or short hair.
  • Coconut oil is a amazing! Use it as a hair mask, an after-shower detangler or a product in place of smoothing creme. Make sure it’s organic or else you’re not helping your hair much.

Resources & Tutorials:

Check back soon!

Happy Independence Day!

IndependenceDay

It’s Independence Day here in the United States of America, and while I’ve never really been a person who is interested in politics, this year has really made me think about what being an American is and what independence means to me.

No worries, I am not going to shovel my deep thoughts on you, let’s keep it light! What I will say that I am thankful I have been given the right to live my life the way I want to live it due to others before me standing for what they believe in. I am also thankful for those who are doing what they can now to ensure that we still have that freedom. I hope you have the freedom celebrate this holiday in your own way.

ReadytomaketheWorld

Mission: To Drink More Water!

WaterGlass

One of my 2017 New Year’s Resolutions is to start drinking 100 oz. of water daily. At the beginning of the year I was attempting this with a 16 oz. glass water tumbler, but with frequent refills I found myself losing track of how many ounces I had already drank throughout the day. To make this easier, I purchased a 40 oz. water bottle from 45 Degrees Latitude so I would only need to fill it 2 1/2 times for the whole day, and it is the best water bottle I’ve ever owned!

WaterBottleBesides it’s nifty volume size, my 45 Degrees Latitude water bottle is so well insulated it keeps my water cold for at least 12 hours or more. Their website claims that these bottles will keep cold beverages chilly for up to 24 hours and I’d believe it based on what I’ve experienced. Twelve hours is how longest I’ve let water sit inside of mine before finishing it off and it was still cold and fresh. It’s made drinking water so much easier and tastier!

Back to the subject of water intake, I made this resolution because I’ve read about the many benefits of water for our bodies and since I’ve increased my intake I’ve felt so much better internally and externally. I’m now on a mission to encourage my friends and family to increase their water intake too!

Here are the potential benefits of drinking water:

  • Alleviate back pain
  • Boost energy levels
  • Boost immune system
  • Banish headaches
  • Improve complexion
  • Improve digestion
  • Improve mood
  • Flush out toxins
  • Prevent hangovers
  • Prevent kidney stones
  • Promote weight loss
  • Regulate body temperature
  • Relieve constipation
  • Relieve fatigue

Happy 5th Wedding Anniversary!

MelCam

It’s hard to believe Cameron and I have been married now for 5 years! I am incredibly blessed to have such a wonderful man in my life and I look forward to each and every moment we spend together.

Before we were married, and for 4 years into our marriage, I had never heard of the list of traditional anniversary gifts by year and now that I’ve discovered it, I can’t wait to get all kinds of creative!*

Anniversary Gifts

Our year is Wood, visit my Instagram to see what we gifted one another!

*After searching through several sources, I found that some of the gifts on the list varied depending on country and timeframe. I mostly stuck to the traditional list from the United States, but inserted a few of the United Kingdom gifts where appropriate.

Dialing down Caffeine

Caffeine_small

Nearly a year ago I wrote this:

Growing up, I remember when fast food was a treat we were bought every other week or so and I remember when I wasn’t allowed to drink any soda with caffeine in it, not to mention energy drinks. If I was allowed soda at all, it had to be something caffeine free.

As I grew up I was given more allowances and I was allowed to start making my own decisions. I was introduced to caffeinated soda and still maintained a healthy distance.

As an adult I’ve started an office job that is relatively stressful, but not painfully so. I started buying caffeinated sodas and eventually graduated to energy drinks to “treat” or “reward” myself during the work day, but it’s become too frequent. I can feel the negative effects of the sugar and caffeine in these drinks on my mind and body, but I still crave them anyway! As we plan on starting a family I think it’s time to find some healthier “treat”  or “reward” options and get back to my healthier habits. As of last Friday, I’ve stopped drinking sodas and energy drinks. It’s definitely rough while my body is figuring out how to cope without all the sugar and caffeine, but it’ll pass!

This didn’t last long, and before I knew it I was up to consuming one sugar filled energy drink or soda every day. I’m not kidding, every day. I knew they were bad for me, I’ve known it for a long time (hence my writing of the post above), but I wouldn’t break the habit; I needed my sweet treat.

The 10 day smoothie cleanse I imposed on myself last month really helped snap me out of those bad habits and carried me through the withdrawal period. I won’t say I will never have an energy drink or soda again, that would be a bald-faced lie, but I feel like I have a better handle on my willpower than I ever did before.

Lesson learned: There is no magic trick to make you stop drinking or eating the things that are bad for you. You need to decide when enough is enough and have the willpower to steer yourself away from that vice. If you need to use a 10 day cleanse to get you started, then use it, but you are the ultimate factor.

What I learned from a 10 Day Smoothie Cleanse

SmoothieCleanse_small

I am not going to sugarcoat this, smoothie cleanses are rough. I do not say this to discourage you, I believe you’ll need to be prepared and fortify your willpower.

I decided to do this cleanse because I began to feel my appetite and overindulgence spin out of control. I was having a sugar-filled energy drink every day, fast food two to four days a week and a whole box of macaroni and cheese to myself on Sundays for lunch. I needed to do something to pry me away from my bad habits and realign my good habits again; to allow my body to catch up to the fat from the bad choices I’d made and begin chipping it away.

This cleanse will work whether you choose to juice or blend, but I chose a smoothie cleanse because I felt wasteful when I saw all the pulp left in the machine after the juice had been worked out. You also only get a small helping of juice per fruit or vegetable so you’re looking at a much more expensive experience if you choose to juice. These reasons aside, you will get more nutrients faster and probably lose more weight on a juice fast.

My strategy:

I found a list of simplistic green smoothies with water as the only liquid.

Breakfasts: 1 cup water, 2 bananas, 1 cup kale,

Lunches: 1 cup water, 1 orange, 1 cup pineapple, 1 cup spinach

Dinners: 1 cup water, 2 apples, 1 banana, 1/2 cucumber

Of course you are welcome to choose whichever smoothie recipes work best for you and mix them up more than I did. I chose to keep it simple; for simple shopping and simple preparation.

After a few days it became apparent that this was not going to cut it for me. I added green tea to drink in the morning between breakfast and lunch. I also added a hardboiled egg and a small helping of sharp cheddar cheese with my dinner smoothie as I was usually hangry by the time I got home from work.

Don’t deny yourself a small snack if you’re dying of hunger, but moderation is key. Eggs and cheese are a good source of protein, but keep the portions small. Even better, if it’s a fruit or vegetable you would have blended up in a smoothie anyway, then have at it (with NO dipping sauce of any kind).

The results of this fast:

I lost about 10 lbs. on this smoothie fast, but more importantly I gained my willpower back and decided to set  some rules for myself. For 20 days (and more) past the day my fast ended, I decided to limit any energy drinks / sodas to one per week and only specific menu items from “fast food” places I deemed acceptable (Salads from Panera Bread, Veggie burritos Baja Fresh or Chipotle and Gyros from a local Greek cafe, etc.); no Taco Bell, burgers and fries, fish and chips or pizza.