A Few Of My Favorite Things #1

I order from Vitacost at least every other month to ensure we are well-stocked on products we love. I’ve made quite a few purchases there recently, and thanks to $40 in coupon codes, I couldn’t pass up getting some of our favorite goodies. Below are five items that my husband and I simply cannot live without:

  1. The perfect base to a delicious smoothie. friday fave 1I still very much love the Garden of Life Raw Meal protein powder, but this whole meal shake is the bomb dot com. We mix it with some unsweetened chocolate almond milk, hemp and chia seeds, PB Fit powder, a banana or two, and a handful of greens for a morning meal that really does hold us over for a few hours. The ingredients are so simple, and yet the taste makes you wonder what it is in it that makes you want more.
  2. A healthier Oreo. friday fave 1 I know I know. Why buy a fake Oreo when the real ones are so good? Don’t get me wrong; Oreos are delicious, but I also know how terrible they are for my body. Palm oil, enriched flour, and high fructose corn syrup are not things I need to ingest when I want a treat. These Newman’s Own cookies have replaced Oreos in this household, and the best part is my husband actually prefers them! #wifewin
  3. The perfect dry shampoo. friday fave 1Truthfully, I have lost count of all the dry shampoos I have tried. Batiste, Psst, and Not Your Mother’s are just a few, but I have also tried plain cornstarch and baby powder as well. Nothing works as well as this one by Acure Organics. My hair is chemically treated, blonde, fine, and oily all at the same time, which makes finding products that work a challenge. I bought this on a whim a few months ago and love it. It actually gives my hair a bit of volume, and although it falls flat by lunch, I’ll take a few hours of successful second day hair than none at all. Depending on your hair type, you will either love this product or hate it, but for my thin hair, it works better than all the others I have tried.
  4. A clarifying shampoo that works in hard water. friday fave 1My husband and I moved to West Virginia three years ago, and my hair has never fully adjusted to the horrible hard water we have in our area. I have invested in expensive Malibu clarifying shampoo, a chlorine removing one by Paul Mitchell, and tried simple baking soda and apple cider vinegar, but nothing worked. In fact, the Malibu shampoo destroyed my hair to the point I went through two deep conditioners before it felt like hair again. This one by Avalon Organics cleans my hair without stripping it of its natural oils, and if I follow up with a deep conditioner, it actually looks good air dried. When that happens, a product is automatically a win-win in my book.
  5. A perfect price point body lotion. friday fave 1When it comes to body lotion, I don’t want anything sticky, heavy, or too fragrant, yet it has to work. I have went through three bottles of this lotion and will continually repurchase it. Not only does 32 ounces last six months easily, but the hydration lasts all day. The ingredients are trustworthy too, which makes me feel more confident in the product since the skin, the largest organ in the body, is what’s absorbing it.

There you have it: Five products my husband and I cannot live without. What are some of your favorites?

*Vitacost referral link: http://goo.gl/ykAyVW

 

Mother’s Day 2017 Thoughts

Mother’s Day. It’s a special day honoring the women whose love and influence has shaped us into who we are today. This is my mother, the strongest woman I know. She is a business owner (shameless plug here), lover of the outdoors, and has taught me the importance of loving animals. She has always been the perfect balance of friend and mother, and if I can someday be half the mother she is, I’ll consider myself a good parent. I’m so grateful to have had her support over the years, including my MSW graduation THREE years ago today.

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Bottom line: Treasure the time you have with your mother, because only when you move away will you realize how much having her close by was so wonderful.

Mother’s Day can also be a very rough time for those who have either lost their mothers or desire to be one and it hasn’t happened yet. It is easy to feel alone when you’re scrolling Facebook and see everyone’s Mother’s Day posts. You know what?

You’re not alone.

There is someone else out struggling just like you are.

More often than not, someone has endured a hardship and kept silent about it.

Lastly, stop scrolling.

On this particular Mother’s Day, I was fortunate to be surrounded by my husband; my church family; lunch with neighbors who took us under their wing and act as surrogate parents; and my fur babies, all five of them.

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This dog has the good life.

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So content in her special spot.

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So many personalities in these felines.

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Until the time comes for me to be a mother, I will savor every moment of my fur baby motherhood and always cherish those who have made a difference in my life: My own mother, my grandmothers I lost too soon, and my mother-in-law. Thank you for all that you are to me. I love you.

Shelter Spotlight

5.14.17-ADOPTED!

Meet Elsa!! My husband and I met this pretty little lady while walking dogs at our local humane society today. I love walking dogs and interacting with them just as much as my husband does, but I love being behind the camera and trying to capture their personalities too. This darling Boxer was a gem to walk and clearly not afraid of a few photos 😉 I mean, seriously. Who could resist that grin?!

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If you are interested in learning more about Elsa or any of her available sheltermates, please contact the Greenbrier Humane Society at 304-645-4775. We are located in Lewisburg, WV.

A Spring Salad

Gone are the heavy days of winter where I want to snuggle up in a blanket and eat warm soup and butter bread. Don’t get me wrong; I’m still a carb lover at heart, but my diet tends to change when winter ends. With the days getting longer and the sun shining 75% of the time, I don’t want to spend an endless amount of time in the kitchen slaving over a stove. I prefer fast, yet satisfying meals. My friend, this spring salad has it all. Protein, fiber, dairy (a cheese substitute can be used instead if you can’t have dairy, even though I’m lactose intolerant and have no issues with feta), antioxidants, vitamins, and so much more. Trust me. You want this 10 minute salad.

  • Romaine Lettuce: Only contains 17 calories per serving and has high water content, which is perfect to help control your weight.
  • Carrots: High in beta-carotene, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, and good for your cardiovascular health
  • Strawberries: High in fiber and potassium, not to mention they are delicious
  • Walnuts: An essential fatty acid that contains manganese and Vitamin B
  • Craisins: Honestly, just provides enough sweetness to appease my occasional craving of junk food
  • Hemp Seeds: Contains 10 grams of protein per 3 TBSP; contains iron and other essential minerals needed in your body; I buy mine here.
  • Feta Cheese: A Greek cheese made primarily from goat or sheep’s milk; has a salty, tangy flavor; lower in calories than traditional cheese from cow’s milk; nutritional in moderation due to the salt content; tastes delicious and a staple in this Greek woman’s household
  • Olive oil and red wine vinegar: Used as the dressing, but feel free to use any vinaigrette of your choice

Now, I am by no means a nutritionist, so I encourage everyone to do their own research when it comes to their diet. Know your needs and approximate calorie intake each day and stick to a plan. I wouldn’t eat this salad five nights a week, but for my size and weight, once or twice is ideal. My husband even loves it and he despises vegetables.

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Go ahead and savor this spring salad. 

I had two pups watching me as I made the salad and couldn’t help but snap their pictures. They’re my forever sidekicks!

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Leia, the watcher of all food making activities

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Miner, the one who expects food because he knows he’s cute.

If you try this salad, let me know what you think!

Words to the Young

For my 28th birthday in February, my husband bought us tickets to see Florida Georgia Line, a country duo I have been obsessing over since “Cruise” blew up the radio in 2012. I finally got to experience my birthday present last night, and I must say: I haven’t felt that old in a very long time. The younger crowd didn’t know the lyrics to the Backstreet Boys covers, I was yawning by 8:30 (side note: The concert started at 7:00), and I kept wishing ear plugs would be readily available because my ears would not stop ringing. I also found myself wanting to look at some of the girls in the crowd and say, “Please keep your shirt down and your pants up. No one needs to see that.” Ten years ago, I would have never thought to say that to anyone. After all, I was only 18 at the time, which was roughly the same age most of the concert-goers appeared to be. Anyway, all day I have been thinking about things I want my future daughters to know, not just about themselves, but other people as well. They’ll be 18 one day and then 28 another, and it’s extremely important they keep some basic things in mind whatever age you are.

  1. Seriously. Keep your shirt down and your pants around your waist. I don’t care how if you are an “A” cup or a “D” cup: Keep them covered. Someday, your husband will be asking to see more of them, so save the show for marriage. Oh, and the super low waist pants that were so popular 15 years ago? They aren’t anymore. The high waisted mom jeans are back.
  2. Comfort really is key. I cannot tell you how many times I would laugh at my mom for telling me to bring different shoes, pack a jacket, and wear a comfy pair of pants. Now, her words of wisdom are all coming back, and I was extremely grateful to be in jeans, a casual shirt, and sneakers last night. Do you really think the woman who came out of the bathroom continuously adjusting her romper was comfortable? How about the 5 inch stilettos a girl wore while walking like The Hunchback of Notre Dame because she couldn’t stand up straight? You’ll thank me when you aren’t stumbling around barefoot in the parking garage at 11:30 at night, which yes, we did witness as well.
  3. Cake face is not flattering. I enjoy makeup as much as anyone else who semi knows how to properly apply it, and I do love that my features can be enhanced with some CC cream, eyeshadow, liner, and mascara. However, piling on loads and loads of foundation to the point where there are cracks in it is not flattering, on anyone. It’s okay to learn how to apply it; I’m 28 and still don’t know my undertones or what shade I am. However, do yourself a favor and go light on the makeup. Your skin will thank you when you get older, and you can go through your night not worrying if everything looks right. Trust me, you’re beautiful the way you are.
  4. Stop growing up so fast. I was a teenager once, and kudos to you for being one in today’s day in age. There is pressure from every angle to dress a certain way, have the best smartphone, and fit in with the crowd. You know what? Those who don’t pressure you are the ones worthy of your time, not the ones who want you to be someone you’re not. You will end up falling in love with yourself and be who you truly are, and when you do, I can’t wait to see the person you become.
  5.  Bring ear plugs to live music events. I cannot begin to tell you how important your hearing is, and don’t risk losing it by not bringing something as basic as ear plugs to a concert. If you wear your hair down, no one will even see them in your ears!

I am fairly certain that as time goes on, especially when my husband and I do have children, there will be other advice I want them to learn. My mother was a genius and taped motivational and inspirational quotes to my bedroom door as a teenager. Every time I opened it, I would be reminded of how loved I was and how I didn’t have to be anybody that I wasn’t. Does this mean I didn’t want to impress people? No, definitely not. I spent so much time worrying about what jeans to wear with what shirt that looking back, I realize that things would have been simpler if I had just had a smaller wardrobe.

In all seriousness, I wouldn’t want to be a teenager today. Heck, I struggle enough as an adult who is closer to 30 than her mid-20’s. Social media is much stronger now than it was even 10 years ago when I was 18, and teenagers are hit with pressure to post the perfect Instagram photo or catch that perfect Snapchat. It is okay to not conform to what everyone else is doing and simply be yourself. After all, who can be better at being you but you?

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the concert was an incredible birthday present. It was announced that Florida Georgia Line will be touring with the Backstreet Boys later this year, so I just need to find another good excuse for my husband to buy me those tickets….

 

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In honor of being together for six years, here’s a throwback to us after dating for a grand total of 8 days. Talk about being young!!

Earth Day 2017-Five Ways to Go Green!

Earth Day is in two days, so let’s talk about some ways you can up your green game. Some are pretty straight forward, but still are some of the simplest (and best!) ways to save the environment and help your wallet.

  • Reusable Napkins. Ignore the pet hair on mine. We have two dogs and three cats, so pet hair is a permanent part of our home, no matter how often we vacuum! The conventional disposable napkin is chlorinated to make it white. Not only is the process extremely toxic to our environment, but do you really want chlorine around the food you eat? Reusable napkins can be neat patterns, are more durable than paper, and last way longer. Purchasing reusable napkins, no matter if you make them or buy a cheap set at Walmart, will save you money in the long run as well because you aren’t buying them so often. fullsizeoutput_3665
  • Reusable Bags. Save those free bags you get at conferences and use them for your grocery trips. Plastic bags are one of the top contributors to pollution in the world (approximately 1 trillion are used and discarded each year with only a small fraction of them being recycled). Did you know plastic is not biodegradable? There are no properties in it that benefit the earth, so any plastic that is used will just sit there. It is easy enough to leave extra reusable bags in your trunk as well for those spontaneous shopping trips we all know happen now and then. If you do get plastic bags, consider taking them to your local grocery store or Walmart for proper disposal. I know ours has a bin at the front of the store to put them. Mine pictured is an insulated Trader Joe’s bag, but I have at least 6-7 I use on a regular basis.

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  • Reusable Water Bottles. This one is a no-brainer. Although it may be convenient to buy a 24 pack of water and grab one as needed, the amount of plastic, both for the bottles and the packaging, is outrageous. Also, the plastic is #1, which should never be refilled due to chemicals leaching from the material. Invest in a stylish water bottle that will make you want to drink water each day. I have the one pictured that I got for $3 at TJ-Maxx and has reusable “ice cubes” in it; they’re BPA free, in case you’re curious. I have a stainless steel one that has served me well in the six years I have had it. Glass it fantastic, but do keep in mind it has a higher chance of breaking. Mine fell off a table and shattered 😦 Some excellent high-quality water bottle brands include Hydroflask, Contigo, Nalgene, Clean Kanteen, and S’Well. Other bottles have filters built-in (Brita makes a good one that can be bought at CVS) in case your tap water may not be the best for drinking. Add some fruit to your water for flavor as well!

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  • Wool Dryer Balls. Typical dryer sheets consist of nothing but chemicals that wreak havoc on your body and are actually flammable. Plus, they are ridiculously expensive. Wool dryer balls work just as well as dryer sheets and are non-toxic. If you like the scent of dryer scents, I highly suggest purchasing a high quality essential oil of your choice (lavender is great) and putting a couple drops on the balls before throwing them in the dryer. I use three balls per load, but when I have more laundry at a time, I will certainly invest in some more. My mom bought these for me years ago, and they have held up to hundreds of washings. I experience minimal static afterwards and feel better knowing I’m not simply throwing away something else to add to the landfill. Not mine, but here is a set in case you’re interested. I wish I knew how much money I have saved by not buying dryer sheets since graduate school!

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  • Storage Ideas. This Star Wars container is PERFECT to store the dryer balls. For Christmas last year, a pair of pajama pants for my husband came in it, and I hated to throw it away. Lo’ and behold, a dryer ball holder came out of it! It adds character to our laundry room too. Reusing items you already own is an excellent way to go green. I feel like every single child learned “Reduce Reuse Recycle” in elementary school, and that phrase holds true well into adulthood. Reusing helps your environmental impact because you’re simply not purchasing as much, which is less that you’ll put in the landfill. Be creative with your ideas; it can be fun to use your imagination!

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These ideas barely scrape the surface of ways to reduce your environmental waste, but are extremely beneficial. What are some of your favorite ways to go green? I’d love to hear them!

Seventh Generation Follow-Up

A few weeks ago, I posted an entry on Seventh Generation’s Dishwashing Tablets I received from Generation Good in exchange for a review. Well, I have been testing them for a month or so and can say with 100% certainty they are just as a good as the dishwashing powder I had previously used. We have extremely hard water at our house, and it’s difficult to find products without chemicals that don’t leave streaks on our dishes. I will say it’s more cost effective to either A) make your own dishwashing detergent or B) purchase the powder version that gives you 70+ loads instead of only 20 for $6-$8 a bag, but if you prefer convenience, these are great. This link provides you with all the information you need to know. If you have tried any other cruelty free and chemical free household products, please let me know!

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