2019 Favorites!

Howdy everyone! I hope 2019 treated you well. This past year has been interesting, to say the least. I experienced a few changes that helped me find some bliss and focus. Did anyone else go through something similar?

In a few days, it will be a new decade. Queue Jonathan Van Ness saying “can you believe?” With that said, it’s that time of year to talk about things that brought me joy.

  1. Ireland. Let’s be real, Ireland always brings me joy. It’s where my lineage comes from. My soul and heart belong there. Last May, after my mother retired, my parents headed over there to live. My mother’s parents’ house was passed on to my parents, so they are happily shacked up, living a lovely life of rest and relaxation. Over the summer, I went to stay with them for a couple weeks. During my time there, I applied for citizenship. Hopefully, it will be finalized sometime in the middle to end of 2020. I am looking forward to finally having an Irish passport and remaining part of the EU (currently, I am a UK citizen and US permanent resident). Also, I got the ball rolling on getting set up to be a student and a legal part of the Irish workforce. With all the upward movement, I plan on moving to Ireland in the next few months! It will be nice to not have an entire country and ocean between my parents and me. I am looking forward to this new adventure. Whilst I am there, I plan on doing a part-time online “coding bootcamp” to give my resume more oomph. This adventure will be awesome.
  2. Yoga. Part of me finding some bliss this year was taking a job at a yoga studio. For the past 11 or so years, I’ve done yoga off and on. After leaving an emotionally exhausting job doing retail management, I felt a bit lost. I picked up hours doing Instacart, which was even more emotionally taxing than working retail. While scouring job hunting sites, I decided to type in “yoga studio” just for giggles. I didn’t expect anything to come of the search. Lo and behold, a studio close enough to public transit was hiring front desk people. I applied, and a week or so later, I was hired. The experience has been amazing so far. I am constantly learning, meeting amazing people from all walks of life, and getting to practice yoga for free. Because of this experience, it has become clear that yoga and I go together. Once I get to Ireland and find a studio (or studios) to practice at, I will eventually do my RYT-200, adding another skill to my resume. I will be able to have a “day job” and teach on the side. I’ve always loved yoga and it is a physical activity that came naturally from the first class I attended. Not only does it help my physical health, it works wonders for my mental health. I can’t wait to share the benefits of yoga with people.
  3. Aromatherapy. My sense of smell has always been strong, and it has played a huge part in my decision to eat vegetarian at a young age. I’ve used essential oils for years, primarily as one part of my whole treatment of depression (medication, nutrition, exercise, and therapy are the other parts). Because I am such a fan of the therapeutic benefit essential oils, I jumped on the doTERRA bandwagon. Let me put a little disclaimer here: essential oils should never replace tried and true medicine and science. EOs can’t cure serious health issues, and I stand firm with that fact. EOs can do certain minor things, like boost mood, neutralize funky smells, freshen breath, act as mild antibacterial agents, add flavor to dishes, and calm mild anxiety, for example. If you have a serious medical issue, please consult with an educated, licensed medical professional. With that out of the way, I do urge anyone interested to check out the benefits of essential oils. Swing by my doTERRA site. It’s loaded with information, like how EOs are created and what they can be used for. My personal favorite EOs are Lime, Rosemary, Grapefruit, Lavender, Bergamot, and Peppermint. I often add a couple drops of any of these to my laundry, have made bathroom refreshing sprays, and always have a diffuser going while at home. I’ve also added Tea Tree to my hand wash and shampoo to help fight off bacteria.
  4. Loom Knitting. A couple years ago, I finally tried knitting a hat with a circular loom. I found LoomaHat on YouTube, and her tutorials are easy to follow and very informative. I’ve been hooked since then. I’ve knitted myself a few hats and headband, as well as a really cute hat for my mum. This year, I started many projects, mostly scarves. Loom knitting is extremely easy, and a wonderful form of meditation. Seriously, if you are looking for something to do to help take breaks from technology, I highly suggest knitting or crocheting of any kind! Not only are you helping calm and reset your mind, you are able to make functional art! I love that the lady who runs LoomaHat loom knits a lot of beanies and donates them to homeless shelters. We should all aspire to giving like her. I’m almost done with most of my scarves, and plan on finishing the hat I’m making within the next week. A week ago, I got most of my hair chopped off and need more than two beanies to add to the bad hair day mix.
  5. Reading. I’ve always loved reading. That’s not news. This year, I fell back in love. I finally dove headfirst into Armistead Maupain’s Tales of the City series, after attempting to start it years ago. Currently, I am on the third installment, Further Tales of the City, and am deeply absorbed in the hilarity and history of the Bay Area (my home for most of my life). If any of you didn’t know what TotC is prior to Netflix creating a series, I highly suggest reading the series. Also, watch the original series. This year, I’ve also discovered new authors, as well as finally reading books on my years old TBR list. And, because I plan on completing yoga teacher training next year, I have a stack of books that are essentials in the yoga sphere. I’m excited to power through those in the new year. I have a subscription to Book of the Month, and love that I can get my hands on beautiful hardbacks for $14.99/month. Do you love reading? Do you enjoy a hardback book that’s $14.99? Check out BOTM and sign up! If you sign up through my link, your first month is only $5! Five dollars for a hardback book? Yes, please.
  6. My loved ones. I miss my parents. A lot. I can’t wait to join them in Ireland next year. They are genuinely amazing people, and they have been an amazing support duo for me. Also, I am a huge fan of my friends who’ve I shared my life with for 31 years. Childhood friends who you are still friends in your adult life are gems. My childhood friend, Kristi, got married to her love, Ben, this summer. They had an awesome wedding party, and were kind enough to include me. There were 14 of us, and we were all super happy to support them! The wedding was amazing, and I was so honored to be part of it. My parents were in attendance as well, and it was fun for all of us. I got to see one of my other good childhood friends (who I had the honor of being a bridesmaid for, as well). It was a great summer, and I love celebrating the people in my life!

What are some of the highlights of 2019? Do you have any hopes for 2020 and the next decade? I hope you all reveled in simple joys like me. And, may the new year treat you well! Sending you all lots of love.

Beautiful Smile


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I’m going to be completely honest right now. I am routinely forgetful about brushing my teeth twice a day. I know, gross, right? Luckily, I’m not prone to horrific breath due to the fact I keep well hydrated, I’ve sworn off cigarettes, and I don’t eat meat. Also, I am partial to mint, green, and white tea. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I go a week without brushing. But, I’ve grown out of my obsessive need to brush three times a day.

I’m currently in the process of getting rid of any dental care products with fluoride and sodium lauryl sulfate. This switch is fun, although a bit challenging. Finding “alternative” products that taste good and work has been interesting.

Right now, I’m loving Jason Sea Fresh toothpaste. Not super minty, but it cleans my teeth very well. And, a plus is that it has blue green algae and calcium carbonate to help protect the natural enamel. I’ve only had one cavity in my life, and it was a baby tooth. My adult teeth are cavity free (I’m the only person in my family who has cavity free teeth!), so I’ll do anything to keep my teeth that way. he toothpaste also has parsley, which is a common bad breath neutralizer. I keep some of Lush Cosmetics’ Toothy Tabs in my school & work bag, in case I end up eating something garlic or onion laden. My favorite ones are Chou Chou and Dirty. These are handy to have when you are on the go and especially if you are traveling. They are dry, so they can come on a plane with you. Who wants to be left stranded without a way to brush your teeth? The toothbrush I currently use is by Preserve. They are a great brand that has a wonderful recycling program. I hate throwing away toothbrushes, yet can’t quite get on board with an electronic brush.

As far as mouthwash goes, I used Crest for awhile. Again, in an attempt to clean up my oral hygiene, I’ve switched over to something considered more “natural”: The Natural Dentist Healthy Balance Rinse. I’m obsessed with this. It’s Peppermint Sage and tastes so fresh! Peppermint is just a great breath freshener and sage is a very mild antiseptic/astringent agent. (Here’s some basic research on sage.) This rinse also has Xylitol, a sugar alcohol sweetener that has been studied to help prevent tooth decay. Instead of being a “regular” sugar that bacteria likes to feed on, xylitol is non-fermentable, therefore essentially starving the bacteria and allowing for less decay and, perhaps, even a slight remineralization of the enamel. Sorry, bio-chem lesson is done! I promise! Another quick and easy mouth rinse I use is a DIY one. I’ll get an ounce of water and put in a few drops of some essential oils. The best to use are peppermint, lemon, and tea tree. The peppermint for freshness, the lemon for sweetness and antibacterial properties, and tea tree for antimicrobial/antibacterial properties. In a pinch, it gets to job done!

For the last week, I’ve been fighting off a cold. This inspired me to update my oral health routine, as our mouths can be pretty gross. And, as I mentioned, I’m not one to brush twice a day. Again, gross, I’m sorry! I was introduced to a supplement called hyperbiotics PRO-Dental.* This is a mint flavored chewable supplement that puts healthy, good bacteria at the source of bad breath, canker sores, gingivitis, and possible ear/nose/throat infections. Now, I know a cold is a virus, so probiotics can’t decrease the time of a cold. But, allowing my mouth to fight off bad bacteria and replenish it with good bacteria, I’m protecting my mouth in some manner. The recommended dosage for maintenance is to chew one pill once or twice a day after brushing/rinsing. The idea is to replenish your mouth with the good bacteria will there is a minute amount of bad bacteria in it. They have a intense repair suggestion, which I’m currently doing. They suggest you chew 2-3 tablets once or twice a day. I usually remember just to chew three tablets once a day, which is much better than nothing! It’s only been a week, so it’s too soon to tell how effective this new routine really is. One thing I have noticed is that my breath has been a lot fresher, which is unusual for me when I have a cold. I definitely suggest this to anyone who does have oral health concerns or is prone to ear/sinus/throat infections. For purchase, their site (available above) directs you to Amazon.

In another post, I’m going to talk about lip care. I’d like to share it here, but there is so much to say. For your enjoyment and my sanity, it’s best if I call it a night and write the post later this week.

Happy trails everyone! Hope you all are having a wonderful February. Remember to smile and laugh and enjoy life!

 

*This is a sponsored post powered by BrandBacker. I received the supplements free of charge to try. Everything else was paid for with my own money. Neither BrandBacker nor hyperbiotics told me what to say or how to write this post. My opinions are my own, and I will never discuss a product if I don’t believe it has merit.

Pamper Time! Evening Skincare.

As my skin has settled down from its painful couple of weeks of dermatitis, I am able to get back into a comfortable skincare routine. I do all of my main skincare at night, as it is both physically and emotionally cleansing.

Tonight I am giving my skin some extra special love as it has been an arduous two weeks. I’ve been working nonstop and had finals this week. I desperately need some TLC! I want to share my pampering evening skincare ritual.

My skin type is dry, sensitive, and prone to redness & enlarged pores. I like to call my skin bipolar, as it really varies day to day as to how dry & sensitive it can be.

To start, I take off my make up with Caudalie’s cleansing water.

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This has been my favorite makeup remover for years. It takes off everything, including heavy foundation and waterproof eye makeup.

Next up is a proper cleanse!!

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Tonight I chose to use Ren’s cleansing balm with my Clarisonic Mia2. The cleansers I use vary. My other favorites are Ren’s Hydracalm cleansing milk, Nude’s cleansing oil, and Ren’s Hydracalm cleansing gel. It really depends on the day.

Next is a mask. I rarely do masks. Let’s face it, I’m lazy! So this is the unusual pamering part. And when I do a mask, it has to be amazing.

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Tonight I am indulging. Two masks! First is Ren’s Glycol Lactic mask to exfoliate, brighten, and hydrate. Then I hop in the shower. After the shower I slap some of Aveda’s intensive hydrating masque while I make some tea. This is supposed to be left on 5-10 mins, but I leave this on a lot longer sometimes. As it’s not a peel, it doesn’t hurt if I forget about it for awhile.

Once this is rinsed off, I finish with a serum & moisturizer.

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Along with Ole Henriksen’s truth serum & Korres’ wild rose sleeping facial, I have added some rose essential oil in a jojoba oil base.

Tonight I am all about exfoliation, hydration, nourishment, and brightness. I love nights when I pamper my skin!! It’s rare, which makes the ritual even more special. I do hope you enjoy this little snippet of my life.

FYI: I do not represent or am not paid by any of these brands for any usage or mention of them or their products. All of the products I used were paid for by my own money over the course of the year. Any product gifted me will always be disclosed and I will not use nor review something gifted to me if I do not like how it works for me. Thank you!!

TYT Again!!!

Happy Thursday everyone! You know what that means!? It’s another Treat Yourself Thursday post! w00t!!

Last week, I got y’all started with a playlist to take yourself on a walk with. I hope you were inspired to get out there and move. I know I was!

I work retail, so I interact with a slew of personalities. Most of them are amazing & positive, but like life, there are always a select group of “interesting” people. I’m sure you’ve all met these kinds of people. You know, the ones that leave you saying to yourself “shake it off…”

So this week, I’m going to share with you my way of relaxing and recharging after a long day on my feet.

I am a huge fan of aromatherapy. As humans, we are all wired to associate different smells with different emotions and reactions. My bathroom and bedroom are both always stocked with specific essential oils: Lemon, Orange, Peppermint, Rosemary, and Eucalyptus. For many people, the true scent citrus fruits are refreshing and uplifting. They help clarify the mind. Peppermint does the same, as well as offers a cooling sensation. For me, rosemary is grounding as well as clarifying. And, we all know how well eucalyptus works for our sinuses during colds. Like peppermint, it opens up nasal passages & cools any heat or discomfort we may feel.

These five essential oils aren’t very expensive, which is why I am happy to keep a constant supply of them. Depending on the brand and amount you are purchasing, they range anywhere from $3-$12 per vial. Not too bad, as you don’t need much of any of them during each use.

I use essential oils in many different things. But, I won’t overload you! Instead, I’ll share a couple different ways of using aromatherapy to help relax yourself.

[Lil’ legal disclaimer: I am not a licensed aromatherapist, naturopath, nurse, MD, et cetera. These are things that have worked for me safely and work for many people. However, I do suggest you please consult a licensed ND or MD if you have any major health concerns. Thank you!]

Refreshing & Calming Foot Soak:
Tub big enough to soak feet and ankles in (use bathtub if you must)
Warm water (I like fairly hot water myself)
10-15 drops Peppermint Oil
10-15 drops Eucalyptus Oil
10 drops Rosemary Oil (optional)
After you have filled your bucket/tub/bath with enough warm/hot water, add the essential oils. Please make sure the temperature is safe enough to submerge your feet and ankles in! Get settled in a comfy seating position & soak your feet. I like to soak my feet for 15-25 minutes, adding hot water a couple times. After soaking, dry off your feet and follow with any lotion you like. I usually use the Aveda foot lotion or argan oil with peppermint & rosemary essential oils. The heat, water, and essential oils will help with any pressure, swelling, and circulation issues standing for extended periods of time can cause. The weightlessness of the water takes pressure off joints & tendons, allowing blood to circulate better, which assists with any swelling. Peppermint, eucalyptus, and rosemary all assist with circulation, drainage, and detoxification. [Again, not a chemist, naturopath, ND, MD, nurse, or aromatherapist. Not everything works the same for everyone. Capisce?]

Uplifting Body Hydration & Stimulation:
Argan Oil, Coconut Oil, or Unscented Body Lotion
5-15 drops Lemon Essential Oil
5-15 drops Orange Essential Oil
5-15 drops Lime Essential Oil
5-10 drops Rosemary Essential Oil
5-10 drops Peppermint Essential Oil
This works best right after a shower. The reason why there is such a variance in the drop amount is because it depends on how much of your body you are going to massage. You’ll see the main focus is the citrus oils. They are naturally happiness inducing. For most people, we associate citrus smells with warmth, joy, happiness, and cleanliness. The citrus oils also help brighten the skin. And, the rosemary & peppermint essential oils are there to help with circulation, detoxification, and fluid drainage. What I find easiest to do is to work section by section. In your hands get just enough argan or coconut oil or body lotion, add a few drops of each essential oil, then work it into your skin. For my skin & body long circular motions seem to work the best. I’ll do one thigh, then the other, then each calf seperatly. Then I’ll do each arm seperately, then I’ll do my torso last. The two places I save for absolute last are the back of my neck and chest. These two places are where I seem to hold most of my tension. Also, it is nice to have the scent of the essential oils still fresh when I get into bed.

I do hope you enjoy these little things to pamper yourself with. If you don’t have the time or patience to do either of those, you can still do aromatherapy! One drop of an essential oil warmed up in the palms of your hands will still brighten your day! Find one you love, and a few times throughout the day place one drop in the palm of your hand, warm it up with both palms, then cup your hands around your mouth & nose and inhale/exhale slowly & deeply a few times. This is a great way to take a one minute break to reset your mind. You’re smelling something that has a positive effect on your brain, you are slowing down for a minute, and you are getting some good oxygen flow to your heart & brain.

Enjoy your Labor Day weekend, all you Americans reading this!!