Love Grown

I am not a big cereal eater, but my husband certainly is. Captain Crunch, Lucky Charms, Honey Nut Cheerios…he loves (almost) all of them. Did you know that so many of the cereals found in the supermarket contain ingredients that are toxins to our body? A common one is sugar. Look at any ingredient list or nutrition facts and you will be astounded at how many grams are in each serving. Way too many. Another common additive is High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), an ingredient that contains mercury and is known to lead to obesity and diabetes. BHA/BHT (preservatives), artificial coloring, and hydrogenated oils are three other common additives in cereal, but one would not know it without thoroughly examining an ingredient list. It’s common for the words “WHOLE GRAIN” to lead a consumer to think the product must be healthy when in reality, the cereal can be just as toxic as those not labeled whole grain.

I don’t mind my husband’s love of cereal, but I have never been okay with him eating food for breakfast that only spikes his blood sugar and makes him hungry again in two hours. While at Kroger last week, I found a cereal called Chocolate Power O’s and figured it couldn’t hurt to try it. Guess what? Matt loves it! It has the sweet chocolate taste he craves in a cereal, but what it doesn’t have is even better. No preservatives, no gluten, no chemicals, non GMO, and fills him up longer than your average cereal. Would you believe beans can taste so good?

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Even though I don’t eat much cereal, I catch myself eating a bowl for breakfast too!

Navy, lentil, and garbanzo beans -all beans high in protein- are the superfoods behind this delicious cereal. It only has 9 grams of sugar per serving, which is much better than the 15+ in an average children’s cereal. Below is the ingredient list:

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All things that a consumer can pronounce combined with the great taste of chocolate makes this product a win-win. Try it and let me know what you think!

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A Shelter’s Wish List

Those who know me know my love of animals. More importantly, my love and desire to rescue animals. There are way too many unwanted animals in the world and not enough adopters, which is absolutely devastating when you think about the love that animals give us. Below is one of my favorite pictures of my dogs, adopted seven months a part from our local humane society.

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Miner (L) found his forever home with us after having two other owners previously. Leia (R) was a stray who found her forever home with us after no one claimed during her month and a half stay at the humane society.

Anyway, this post is not about the benefits of adopting a pet (although I will gladly write one if desired),  but more so on the ways humane societies need our help to continue running. They do incredible work and depend heavily on the support of the community to keep their doors open. You don’t necessarily have to donate financially, either. There are lots of other ways to get involved.

  1. GIVE YOUR TIME. If you have an extra hour a week, why not walk some dogs or play with the cats? Not only are you socializing the animals and exposing them to people, but you’ll be getting a workout as well. If you walk four dogs in an hour, think of the cardio workout you’re getting without even trying! With cats, socialization is extremely important. They are cooped in cages all day and usually do not get out as much as the dogs. Providing interaction and exposing them to people is a fantastic way to teach them to be social and more friendly than if they were never around anyone at all.
  2. VOLUNTEER AT AN EVENT. Often throughout the year, humane societies host adoption events or fundraisers and could use help with the event. At an adoption event, you could be needed to transport animals back and forth, take pictures, advertise, plan, or actually participate in the event. Fundraisers could use your help with advertising, planning, or running the event while it is going on. If you desire to get involved that way, you can call your local organization and see when you would be needed.
  3. TRANSPORT. Depending on where you live, there may be an online Facebook Transport Group where you help transport animals to local rescues or adopters. It’s a great way to network and meet fellow animal lovers, as well as know you’re saving lives one car ride at a time. I transport sometimes for I-81 Transports and highly encourage you to look into it if you are able.
  4. JOIN THE BOARD. Are you into budgeting, nonprofit management, or simply want to be behind the scenes instead of on the frontline? Joining a board may be perfect for you. You will have a say in how the facility is run and can work towards change for a better environment for so many lives.
  5. DONATE WISH LIST ITEMS. It takes a great deal of items and manpower to run a facility of 50+ dogs and 30+ cats, and some shelters have many more than that at a time. Items such as laundry detergent, dryer sheets, bleach, sponges, rags, blankets, and towels are always needed. Leashes and collars are always welcome as well. This is a short wishlist from my local humane society, although this particular list is not inclusive to everything they need. 16716313_1338494486188705_5167446215428147941_o
  6. MONETARY DONATIONS. Not everyone has money burning a hole in their pocket (a med school family knows this all too well), but if you do have some extra cash, feel free to donate it. I am a firm believer in donating to local smaller agencies instead of larger corporations simply because then I know exactly where my money is going.
  7. SOCIAL MEDIA. In this day in age, the majority of people have a cell phone, iPad, or at least a laptop. If you have a camera, snap a picture of animal needing a home and share it. With the way posts are spread online, your post could reach someone three states away who falls in love with the picture. Boom. The animal could have a home. Social media isn’t all bad!

This list certainly could be more involved, but I hope you get the point that there are many ways to help out animals in need. It gives you a purpose and sense of happiness as well knowing you are playing a role in changing their lives. Are you involved in any way with a humane society or rescue group? I would absolutely love to hear your stories or suggestions! Sirius, Eris, and Harper say thank you 🙂

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Sirius, rescued from a hoarders home of 32 cats.

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Eris, adopted from a feral organization.

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Harper, loving life after being saved during the flood of 2016.

Hello There, It’s Me.

Since I’ve had a few new readers, I figured it would be a good time to reintroduce myself and say hello! I grew up in Pennsylvania about an hour and a half outside Philly and laugh when people look at me like I have three heads when I say “PA” in a normal conversation. My father is Greek Orthodox, was a member of a Lutheran/UCC church, went to a Mennonite school, and attended a liberal arts college based on Methodist principles. Now it is safe to say I consider myself non-denominational. I have a black belt in Tae-Kwon-Do, danced for 12 years, and attempted piano and flute but quit both of them due to no desire to practice; needless to say, I wish I would have practiced!

I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and Religion from Lebanon Valley College and a Master of Social Work from Temple University. I am currently a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor for the WV Division of Rehabilitation Services and spend 42.5 hours a week surrounded by crazy coworkers; they are the best though 😉 My free time is spent volunteering at the local humane society, exercising, walking my dogs, scrapbooking, and attempting to learn to sew. So far I haven’t been successful, in case you’re curious.

Now that you have received the nutshell version of my life, I’ll tell you why I started this blog. My husband and I moved to West Virginia in 2015 so he could attend medical school, and it’s been a heck of a ride. We will go somewhere else for his residency in 2018, but until then, we are enjoying life in the Wild and Wonderful with our children (and when I say children, I totally mean furbabies. Human children will come eventually, but for now, dog slobber and cat scratches make up our days). In the span of two and a half years, we moved to another state, got married, I started a new job, earned my Social Work license, adopted two dogs, survived the WV Flood of 2016, saved (and kept!) a kitten found in the flood, lost two grandparents, and battled some health issues that will remain unsaid for personal reasons. I’m sure not all newlywed lives are that crazy, but leave it to us to keep things interesting. On this blog, you’ll see posts about animal rescue, thrifting, natural beauty, fashion (and by fashion, I mean an outfit that looks good to me but would never make it to the cover of a magazine), lifestyle tips and tricks, clean living, health, and food…lots and lots of food. If any of these things interest you, I invite to come along for the ride. I love meeting new people and sharing stories with others. Can’t wait to meet you!!

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When it comes to fashion, take note that sneakers and a striped top is not cute, but certainly get you some looks when walking!

Vitacost Haul

I believe I’ve only mentioned this site once on here, which is certainly not the same amount of times I have placed a Vitacost order within the last few months. With the exception of Thred Up, Vitacost may be my favorite online store. #healthynerdstatus101

For those who may not be familiar with Vitacost, imagine Whole Foods or your local health food store online, at your fingertips, and delivered to your doorstep. Plus, prices are (usually) cheaper than health food stores, which is necessary for the wallet of a medical school family. On occasion, some of the products can be found at TJ-Maxx and Marshalls, but generally speaking, Vitacost is more affordable. Paleo, gluten free, or simply trying to save money: This site is for you. I place an order every few months to restock our shelves with common toiletries and staple food items that are always in our house. Plus, it’s always fun to pick up a few new things every now and then!

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Needed a new pill holder to store my vitamins each day. Figured one that can hold 20 pills will do the trick!

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Forget the Clarisonic. I swear by konjac sponges and their benefits for the skin. Plus, they’re biodegradable when thrown away!

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Staple item in our house and a favorite in smoothies.

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This serum caught my eye, so I figured I’d give it a try. Also needed a new body wash and this one got great reviews.

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Haven’t tried it yet, but I needed a new nail polish remover and wanted one that wasn’t toxic. It’s worth a shot!

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Absolutely love trying different body scrubs, and this brand is no exception.

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My husband’s favorite shampoo/conditioner and body wash combination. It’s difficult to find something that works well in our hard water, and these do an excellent job. We bought three bottles of each because I may or may not consider the shampoo/conditioner a favorite as well 😉 

If you are interested in trying Vitacost, feel free to use this referral link: http://goo.gl/ykAyVW   I do get $10 towards my next purchase, but you do as well. This is simply a referral, not affiliate, link.

If you try Vitacost, let me know what you think. The return policy is ridiculously simple and can be done with a few clicks of the mouse. I have been shopping from this site since graduate school and have no plans on stopping anytime soon!

Control: Who Has It?

It’s the middle of the week, and I am at home hacking my lungs out with a box of tissues on my right and a dog on my left. Oh, and obviously a computer at my front 😉 My arthritic foot has been acting up from the irregular weather patterns and nothing, not even the $40 cream prescribed by the doctor, is working to alleviate the pain. My husband is leaving in two weeks for a month long rotation in Virginia, so I’m trying to mentally prepare myself to hold down the fort alone until the beginning of April. Now that’s what is just going in my immediate household. At work, clients come to me looking for answers. “What can I do with my life?” “I need some direction.” “Can you pay for this or that or the other thing?” In the world around me, I’m nervous for our education system and what may become of it; I’m scared for our Earth if things don’t change; I’m worried about the lives affected as we go backwards towards segregation; and lastly, I fear for the well-being of animals since reporting of cruelty and neglect can no longer be seen on reputable sites like the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). All these things are in my mind at all times, and it wears me down. But guess what?

I CANNOT CONTROL IT.

I do not have all the answers to life’s questions. I do not know why I had to end up with arthritic foot at 26 (maybe God’s telling me to slow down….) or get sick in the middle of important stuff at work. By the time my (future) children will be going to school, our education system could be better than it ever has been; a (future) mother can dream, right? I can be a part of the movement toward change and show integration to those around me. I can continue to recycle and minimize my waste output as steps towards a cleaner Earth. I can also continue to advocate for animal rights and be a voice for those who don’t have one. Giving up control is hard. As a woman with a Type A personality who would much rather lead than follow, I’m all about control. However, I worry myself sick when I don’t have any, and I shouldn’t. Deep down, I know who truly is in control and thankfully, it’s not me.

WHO IS IN CONTROL?

So often, we forget to count our blessings when things are rough and we felt we have lost control of our lives. That is totally normal, and the One who is in control knows it. He knows our desire to be in charge. After all, we know what’s best for ourselves, right? Ehh, not always. More often then not, things happen to make us slow down so we realize how little we are compared to how big He is. That alone is a blessing when you truly think about it. Did we create our immune systems to fight off the infections we occasionally may get? Did we design our bodies to have arms to hold things and legs to get where we need to go? Did we give ourselves a voice to speak up and be heard? We have so much to be thankful for, and I’m going to try and remember that as I go through my day eating soup, drinking tea, snuggling my pups, and binge watching YouTube videos. I encourage you to do the same, no matter what is going on in your life right now 🙂

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From the book, “Contagious Joy” by the Women of Faith series

A Lesson Learned From a Dog’s View

With all that is going on in our country right now, here is a picture of two creatures who could care less who you voted for, the color of your skin, where you are from, or what your beliefs are. They simply want to be accepted and trust they’ll be led in the right direction, even during periods of unrest. We can learn so much from dogs….<3

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Miner and Leia, two dogs who once unwanted, found their happy place in this world. I couldn’t be more grateful for all they teach me everyday. 

*This is not a political post designed to spark controversy or arguments. Enjoy it for the cute pups in all their glory who absolutely love hamming it up for photos.