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.

Introduction to my Photography

MyPhotography

It took me far too long to realize that I have been sitting on all of my Horticultural photography without organizing or showcasing it! You may have seen some of my older work posted on an old Flickr account that I no longer have access to, but since I no longer have access to that account I’ve decided to start a new Flickr account with that old work and my new work.

Once upon a time, I attended Brooks Institute of Photography and received my Bachelor’s Degree in Visual Journalism. After graduating, I toiled away a year in a pet shop doing absolutely nothing I had gone to college to learn. I just felt….uninspired. There’s only so much you can teach an artist about technique and form, then you need to let their unique sense of creativity bring something new to the table. Brooks was very good at teaching technique and form, however when a student tried to bring something new to the table, often times the own personal taste of a professor would give them a less than admirable grade. I saw many students, frustrated in their own loss of unique style, quit Brooks without that sought after degree. I adapted and graduated but I didn’t feel passionate about art anymore for years.

For almost ten years now I’ve worked as an Office Assistant/Photographer for an Author/Professor/Nursery Owner who is a self taught photographer himself and I feel extremely lucky to have a job relating to my degree. Along with my office duties, I photograph plants for the nursery and clients’ purposes. My work consists mostly of close ups of the flora we grow and landscapes, but I branch out into other fields as they present themselves.

I’m excited to get back out there again and stop by my Flickr and show some love!

Abutilon palmeri
Aloe polyphylla
Bouteloua gracilis 'Blonde Ambition'
Dudleya pulverenta
Fremontodendron 'California Glory'

Happy New Year 2017!


2017
Happy New Year! I hope all your hopes and dreams for 2016 have come to fruition and that you’ve turned your attention to making the most of 2017!

I believe in making resolutions; they give you the focus to complete certain tasks. Resolutions can be made any time of the year, and should be in some cases, but it’s traditional to make them for the fresh start of a new year and it’s all in good fun!

  1. Eat well, allow for 1 cheat day a week.
  2. Drink 100 ounces of water a day.
  3. Learn and perfect one braided hairstyle a month.
  4. Learn to actively listen to others.
  5. Learn to create bath/shower bombs.
  6. Learn to ease my temper.
  7. Meditate 5 times a week.
  8. Pay off my car.
  9. Play and complete 17 video games.
  10. Practice yoga 5 times a week.
  11. Read and complete 17 books.
  12. Refrain from voicing negative opinions.
  13. Sing.
  14. Start a family.
  15. Start a garden.
  16. Start a memory journal.
  17. Start my own business.

While there is tea, there is hope

Sodas can have some serious negative effects on your body when consumed regularly and I really want to take steps to a healthier lifestyle. So far I’m succeeding at weaning soda out of my diet and I’ll tell you why…

I treat myself to tea.

I think we all like to be treated to something special. When I would bring a soda or an energy drink to work I felt like it was a special treat to myself; a pick-me-up for the long work day. When I realized how much sugar was in these products (in addition to the caffeine) and I saw the affect this had on my health, I made the conscious decision to reduce my intake.

Now, instead of bringing sodas or energy drinks to work I brew myself my own cup of green tea every morning with a spoonful of local honey or light agave nectar. It’s healthier, cheaper and with enough caffeine (you can also get decaffeinated) to brighten your day. If it’s too hot for hot tea, brew the tea the night before, add the honey or nectar and let it chill overnight in the refrigerator. Add ice and voila! Iced green tea!

Plain tea can be a healthful, calorie-free beverage, but be careful how much cream, sugar, and flavorings you add into your cup, add too many and your once-healthful drink becomes a rich dessert. I favor natural honey because unlike processed sugar and artificial sweeteners, honey is antioxidant rich and used sparingly, can take the edge off your tea.

Studies suggest green tea has many potential benefits, including but not limited to improving mental function, weightloss, and lowering the risk of cancer, heart disease and inflammation. I’ve included a helpful infographic below that illustrates the different varieties of tea and their many benefits.

There are many varieties of tea out there, and each one is delicious and beneficial in it’s own way. I haven’t been able to try them all yet, but I’m looking forward to it!

teasandtisanes

Welcome Autumn!

Okami Fall Wallpaper

I love autumn for the warmth it generates inside your home and soul. Where I live, September and October are still rather warm on some days, turning 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.

Some of the best holidays are found in these “ber” months. Christmas is my personal favorite, but Halloween and Thanksgiving are definitely not to be ignored. Who wouldn’t like playing dress up or cooking, eating and spending time with family and friends?

I intend on fully enjoying 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’ve set up for myself.