7 things I’m really into for Summer

It’s June! And surprisingly enough, warm weather has hit Oregon the last couple of weeks, meaning the garden is thriving, spirits are high, and we are all walking around with a premature inkling that summer has arrived (or is at least right around the corner) Evenings are spent wandering around the strawberry patch, sipping beverages on the patio, kicking my shoes off and basking in the lingering light. Yes and please.

Apparently Mercury is heading into retrograde in the next few days and that means chaos is supposed to ensue in the following weeks, interpersonal communication will crumble, technology will fail, (wait all of my work technology already failed this week, please don’t let it get worse!) transportation will be horrid, and overall I will feel misinterpreted… should I just take the month off from blogging? Ha, I’m not that into astrology and only find it mildly curious, but here are a few things that I am REALLY into for the summer.

1) Sassy haircuts: I will immediately start off with a tangent about how when I was in high school my brother told me that boys didn’t like girls with short hair, and I would never find a boyfriend if I cut all my hair off… obviously I cut all my hair off to prove a point, and also I wanted short sassy hair! Ok, at the age of 17 I might not have been “cool” enough to pull off the short look, and sure enough my shaggy bob was less Mandy Moore, and more Oprah in nature, BUT, I’ve always had a tendency to be a little more adventurous when it comes to getting my hair cut. I mean, it’s only hair, it will grow back… or so I tell myself. Because every now and again I see the girls with the beautiful flowing locks, and I start to think about fishtail braids and sock buns and all the amazingly cool things I’m missing out on by having shorter hair, so I start to go through the painfully awkward grow out period, (and somewhere in the back of my head I still hear my brother’s voice telling me I’m never going to find a guy if have short hair… isn’t that terrible?) and a year later I’m just feeling frumpy and not like myself, and still somewhat wistfully dreaming of sock buns, but mostly just feeling so blasé…. The girls with the beautifully long hair don’t tell you about the awful grow out, because lets be honest, they’ve had long beautiful hair their entire lives… and I tend to think of myself as a “keep your eyes on the prize” kind of gal,   But I also know when to cut my loses… and quite frankly, a summer of short and sassy hair is EXACTLY what I need. Goodbye frumpy grow out, goodbye dreams of braids, Hello sass factor 2000. (side note. I’ve been looking at pinterest this week trying to find some hair cut inspiration… apparently pinterest and I have quite different definitions of “sassy hair cuts” But I guess whatever floats your boat…  Also I was supposed to get a haircut today, but it got canceled… SO no sassy haircut yet, but I’m sure pictures will follow eventually)

2) Country Music: Growing up in rural Montana, we didn’t have MTV… we did however get CMT… It didn’t matter, I still hated country music for the most part. Ok, Ok, the first concert I ever went to was Lonestar, and I went to a Toby Keith concert once (and no, my bulldog is not named after Toby Keith. For the record) … but for the most part, I rebelled against the country. I was too busy listening to movie soundtracks and 98 degrees… (Um yeah, nerd alert. But the One Fine Day soundtrack is damn good! In retrospect this probably had a lot more to do with my single status than my Oprah hair…) But Thankfully, I grew up, pop culture no longer intimidates me (well ok, it does a little) and I don’t know if its me going back to my country roots, or just the nostalgia of opening up Red Hills Market on Saturday mornings with country music blasting, but there is something undeniable about the summertime and country music. They go together like tomatoes and basil. If I still had my Toyota I would be cruising around with the sunroof open blasting Keith Urban all the live long day… and you should be do. Because summer is country music time. It’s just so happy, and all about drinking beer, and going to the fishing hole, and getting tan, and having manly men say things like how their eyes are the only thing they don’t want to take off of you and how you make them feel like they want to roll the windows down and cruise, and there is something about listening to it in the summer time that just feels right. (disclaimer… I actually don’t like country music by ladies very much… that might be a little sexist… but its just not as good….)

3) When it comes to makeup, less is more: Don’t you hate it when at the end of a hot summer day you look in the mirror and all of your makeup has melted off your face? And it seems totally unfair, because when I come home at the end of the day and wash my face, I always think about how bright and vibrant I look… why is it that no makeup sometimes looks so much better than makeup at the end of the day? Really the only solution for the summer is to take it down to the basics and go for a more natural look.   This time of year I make my own tinted moisturizer with coconut oil and powder foundation. It is like a magic serum. Trust me. Touch up as needed with concealer, sweep on a little bronzer, nude eyeliner (it is the best thing of all time) , and brown mascara and you are pretty much done. Maybe add a little neutral shimmery eye shadow here and there, and of course leave your options open for lip color.   Let me just say a few things about nude eyeliner. It is a game changer. Unlike darker eye liner you don’t have to spend a lot of time applying it trying to make sure the line is going where it is supposed to, and that you haven’t missed any spots. Sweep it on, no touching up, no fussing and it gives your eyes some definition without being over done. I’m obsessed.

4) A red lip:I know I know, I just got done preaching that less is more… but when your face is a natural looking summer glow, it opens up the opportunity for wearing bold color on the lips without looking like you are on your way to the Red Carpet. I think every woman can rock a red lip and summer is the perfect time. The only essentials are lip liner and confidence. (also the jury is still out, but apparently Men also don’t really like lipstick that much? In other words, I’m setting myself up for romantic success by cutting off my hair and rocking a red lip this season. )

Red Lip

Red Lip

5) Summer scarves: So you know when you have an adorable summer dress, and then you totally destroy the look by putting a weird cardigan over it that doesn’t really go with anything, but you do it anyway because you don’t want to get cold, and then you just look like you don’t quite know how to dress yourself? I do, because I’m guilty of this constantly… Because my fear of being cold far outweighs my fear of being fashionable… Mostly… Only this summer I actually am working in fashion, so I’m kind of on the search for suitable alternatives. Insert, the summer scarf, preferably a blend of cashmere and silk in a solid or ombre color. This week one of my bosses said it perfectly with “a scarf does all the things but you still look cute!” (we had just been having the cardigan conversation) I’m sure I have cardigans that will still make cameos this season, but I’m declaring the summer scarf as my go to for 2014.  ‘

silk and cashmere scarf from Mes Amies

silk and cashmere scarf from Mes Amies

6) Water:As a yoga teacher, I preach the importance of drinking water. And every single day I get up and think “today is the day that I will be a rockstar at drinking water!” and then most days go by, and at about 4:30 I realize I’ve only had 3 sips out of my water bottle. Ugh. But the good news is that yesterday is in the past, and tomorrow is a new day, and there is always the potential for making a change. And I can tell such a difference in my body when I’m well hydrated vs. not. Especially in the summer months. So it’s a constant work in progress, but for now, I’m hopping on my drink water soap box, and preaching the importance of staying hydrated. Throw some mint or berries in your water bottle, freeze some edible flowers in your ice, jazz up your water (or just drink it plain).

Borage blossoms in ice cubes

Borage blossoms in ice cubes

water

water

borage and mint water

borage and mint water

 

7) One Piece Swimming Suits: Is anyone else as ecstatic as I am that one piece bathing suits have made a come back? Ok, I know this kind of happened last summer, but I was still in denial about needing a new bathing suit back then. Now I am fully embracing the trend.

J. Crew Grid Dot Swimsuit

J. Crew Grid Dot Swimsuit

 

Anthropologie Basta Surf Swimsuit

Anthropologie Basta Surf Swimsuit

 

Anthropologie Seafolly Swinsuit

Anthropologie Seafolly Swinsuit

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Let’s just take a moment to talk about body image…

 

photo(13)

 

Lets just take a moment to talk about body image… Because it’s something that resonates with everyone… Even if it’s not something that you personally struggle with, you probably know someone who does… These days there are movements and initiatives, foundations and the works all about building self-esteem in young girls and empowering the next generation. There is constant controversy about how the media is portraying  beauty ideals and promoting a warped view to young girls… And whether we went through a chubby stage in middle school (check), gained the freshman 15 (check), or have watched our bodies change with age (check) its a topic that dances in and out of conversation, and has lingering effects.  Full disclosure, I gained about 12 pounds last year, and I could write several excuses about how I was working in a restaurant, how a broken toe f’ed up my running routine, how I have no self control when it comes to things like Chantilly cream and full fat dairy, but the truth of the matter is, I made the choices that I made, and I’m in the body that I’m in, and I’m totally ok with that. Was I more comfortable in my body 12 pounds ago? Probably. Am I spending countless moments throughout my day fretting about my size and how my clothes fit and how I look? No.  Because 12 pounds isn’t worth the negativity. I simply think “this is where I am today, and I’m going to make choices accordingly.” When I look in the mirror every morning I see myself, just the way I am, and sure, I have those fleeting thoughts of  “I should go for a run” or “I need to move my person a little bit more” because everyone has those thoughts from time to time, but I think the important thing is to recognize them without dwelling on them.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that having a positive body image is something that I’ve struggled with for years and years, because really, I haven’t. I’ve always been comfortable with who I am, and how I look… and yes I have fat days, and bad hair days just like everyone else. I have days where I wish I had less cellulite and better abs. I have moments of being unhappy with my body, but they are just that, moments.  They aren’t something that hinder my self-esteem, they don’t affect how I live my life, how I see myself… and I realize that I am incredibly lucky in this regard. ( I have other hang ups, its ok).

I DID go through a pudgy phase when I was younger… (didn’t everyone?) I don’t remember ever feeling like a fat kid, though I do remember my mother encouraging me to go outside more and maybe jump on the trampoline… And I vividly remember a few years later when  my pediatrician came up to my mom and said “wow, Tayler was so beautiful in the recital! I remember her being kind of chunky!”  I of course also gained some weight when I went to college, and have this somewhat horrific memory of coming home for Christmas and one of my “friends” actually pinched my cheeks and loudly announced “Look at these! I’m so glad you are getting fat like the rest of us!” Can I just say that sometimes girls are the worst? I mean the worst.   And the older I’m getting the more I’m realizing that there seem to be two types of insecure women… the type that put others down because they are insecure, or the type that put themselves down. And really, both make me so sad.  Now that I’m in my late 20’s I can look back on adolescence and of course recognize the mean girl mentality, the bullies who were constantly spewing negativity about other people  because they were struggling to feel good about themselves… But when you are in the thick of it, when the negativity is coming your way, and you are 14 its almost impossible to be objective and say “well really, she is just insecure, so she is trying to make me feel bad.”

But, what I have discovered recently, is that women of a certain age are almost as bad as middle-schoolers, only they take all that negativity and insecurity and turn it right back on themselves. I can’t even tell you how many women I come across who are a size 4 and have hangups about their arms, or think they look too fat in something and then turn to me and say “you don’t have these problems, you are tiny.” and I’m thinking “Well thank you, but I’m actually 3 sizes larger than you, and my arms are like 6 of yours put together…”  And then you have the mothers who are looking in the mirror who are verbally berating themselves, saying how fat they look, how they hate their legs or whatever, as their daughters sit there observing their behavior. And it’s interesting because it seems like these days there are so many movement about building self esteem in young girls, programs that are trying to teach you that uniqueness is beautiful, that individuality should be celebrated, that curves are ok, and I think that these programs are great, but there is a part of me that wonders if maybe we also need these types of programs for our Mother’s generation. Maybe we need to be helping the women who have been dealing with years and years of negative body image see themselves in a different light.

So now I have to tell a story that is going to horrify my mother… (its ok, she has been warned… Also, she is my mom, and we love each other, so there is that. )  Last week she was in shopping at the boutique and one of my bosses was there, as was my best friend.  My mom was asking an opinion about a shirt she was trying on, and we started to tell her how we had just been talking about body image, and how we really thought that women should be celebrating their curves and dressing the bodies that they have, and not the bodies that they wish they had, or the bodies that they think they have… working in a clothing boutique this is something that we see everyday… and my mom was like “Really?” and we told her “Well, we want you to be wearing something that you feel good in, and that also looks good on you, so if it’s something that just doesn’t work, we will tell you.”  And then we were talking about curves and body shapes and dressing them, and I said in passing “yes, I have curves, and I’m not self-conscious about them, I kind of have a belly and its fine! ” and then I stuck out my stomach for full emphasis… and without missing a beat my mother was like “Yeah I KNOW you do, I see it all over the place.” … OK MOM!

The moment was a little shocking, my boss was totally taken aback, and my mom did follow up with something about how I think she doesn’t have a filter… (case in point… I’m at a fairly new job, and she just made a comment about my belly fat in front of my boss and my best friend while I’m working… yeah, there is NO filter) And the thing is, I wasn’t upset, I wasn’t mad, I wasn’t embarrassed… I was sad. Not because of the offhanded comment,  but because I was sitting there witnessing my mother subconsciously succumb to the mean girl mentality. I could feel her trying on this top and not feeling 100% great in her body and there was a group of us, and without meaning to and without being aware of it she took all that insecurity and directed it at me. She put me down around my peers. We talked about it later and I totally called her out on it, and we had a good conversation, she felt terrible, she wasn’t trying to be mean, and legitimately we are fine… I’m not telling this story to embarrass my mom, or to make her out to be a bad mother, she isn’t. She is human, and she has her hang ups just like everyone else. And though it would be nice if those hang-ups didn’t manifest at my place of work, I did also realize that, as a mother, she was feeling insecure and in an back-handed way she was trying to be helpful. Like when she corrects my posture… because she wants me to learn from her mistakes… She sees things in herself that she doesn’t like, and so she points them out in me, not to be hurtful or a pain in the ass, but because she wants what is best for me. She wants  me to happy and healthy… and sometimes it comes out completely wrong. Sometimes it drives me absolutely crazy, but I do know that it comes from a place of love… And at the end of the day, I’m very familiar with intentions being lost in translation…

If anything, the whole situation made me appreciate my mom, and my upbringing. I can only imagine how her life was 60 years ago.. growing up I was told I could be whatever I wanted to be (ok, ok I was told once that I probably shouldn’t be an artist… in retrospect, that was probably very good advice.) I was allowed to do activities that I liked, I was allowed to develop my own interests, I was uplifted and supported and loved… not to say that my mother wasn’t, but our upbringings were VERY different. Being in Generation Y my entire childhood  was pretty much a self-esteem building exercise, I was allowed to make my own choices, make my own mistakes, and become my own person without any preconceived notions. And as a result, I don’t seem to have any of my mother’s hang-ups  (as I said, I have plenty of my own!)

I guess in a way, this blog post is a Thank You to my Mom.  She has her moments, for sure, but overall, I think I turned out the way that I did because of her, and not despite of her… Thank you for raising me to be comfortable in my own skin. Thank you for not passing along any of your hang ups, and for wanting what is best for me always, and Thank you for putting up with me and letting me tell stories about you on my blog.

And to all you ladies out there who ARE struggling with body image, I hope you can take a moment to just settle into your own skin, even if it’s just a moment.  Celebrate your curves (or lack of them) appreciate where you are right now, and give yourself permission to not dwell on your flaws.

A follow up on my juice cleanse: some observations from last week, and a few more tips

obviously the only thing to do when your friends are drinking wine and you are on a juice cleanse is bring your juice to the wine bar and ask for a glass. (I love small town life)

obviously the only thing to do when your friends are drinking wine and you are on a juice cleanse is bring your juice to the wine bar and ask for a glass. (I love small town life)

I thought I’d write a follow up on my juice cleanse experience and keep everyone updated on the progress. Firstly, I took a fair amount of photos, however my phone committed suicide on Sunday (or I dropped it and it died, whatever) so I lost all of my pictures from last week. I did post a quite a few of them to instagram, so if you’d like to see some pictures of things like beet juice, you can find my profile here

The cleanse was pretty amazing actually, and somewhere around day 4, I was I decided to extend the experience for two days and just do a full week. I mean if you are juicing for 5 days you can juice for seven, so why not? I had an excess of produce (though I did have to buy more carrots, cilantro, apples, and 1 pineapple), an excess of energy, and thankfully I was working some shorter shifts, so I had plenty of time to juice.

I woke up on Monday and felt like I could do anything. I just went for an entire week without eating solid food, caffeine, added sugar, meat, dairy, and alcohol. I was 100% plant based, and I didn’t get hungry once!  I was pumped. You know that song from The Sound of Music that the crazy old nun sings? “Climb Every Mountain!”  This was  playing in my head on repeat like my victory chant on Monday morning… (though I just looked up all the lyrics, and not just the first verse that has been on repeat all week, and it doesn’t really so much apply, because its about finding your dreams and chasing rainbows and stuff… Eye of the Tiger might work a little better… but maybe if I just stick with “Climb Every Mountain!!!” over and over again  it accurately portrays how I felt on Monday morning.  Though I just sang it out loud right now for emphasis, and the dog looked at me like I was bat shit crazy.)  Needless to say, You go for a week without eating real food, and you pretty much feel amazing, and its an empowering thing. So sing yourself some sort of victory song.

Here are some other observations from last week. (I’m making these as I remember them, they are in no way in order of importance/ interest)

Firstly:I lost seven pounds, can I get a what what!? I wasn’t doing to cleanse to lose weight as much as I was to hit a restart on my metabolism, but the weight loss was an added bonus.  I could tell by day two that I was less bloated, and people (ok my dad) told me my face looked thinner.  My jeans… well they fit exactly the same (how is that possible? I blame my dryer) and I’m sure a lot of what came off was water weight. I felt like I was going  pee about every 45 minutes, but hello,  it was a 7 day liquid diet.

Secondly:  My fears were confirmed and I’m 95% sure I have an allergy to gluten. People have been telling me years that my eczema might be gluten related, and I’ve only sort of listened to them, because who wants to have a gluten allergy? No one. Croutons are practically one of my food group, and bread and butter is like manna… I suspected that coming off gluten would do some good things for my body (ie goodbye belly bloat) but I was also thinking that an obscene amount of toxins would be seeping out of my pores, so I was mentally prepared to be an eczema covered, pimply version of myself last week.  Surprise! My skin looks great, and by day two, there were no signs of dragon skin. My eczema was 100% gone. It’s bitter sweet. I mean how awesome that I was able to fix the problem… but I’m still not ready to let go of my gluten addiction… Don’t get me wrong, I’m cutting way back, and opting for gluten free on a lot of things (have any of you tried the gluten free pizza at Red Hills Market? It is insanely good… like even the chef tends to eat gluten free pizza rather than regular.)   Anyway, I’m cutting back on my gluten intake, and we’ll see how it goes.

Surprisingly enough my skin didn’t break out either. I’m choosing to believe this was because I was oil pulling and all the toxins were being pulled out of my mouth before they could erupt through my pores. I have nothing to back this up, and I could be full of shit,  but I’m sticking with my theory anyway. That, and the fact that I was drinking a ton of water, which his always good for your skin.

Thirdly: I have no idea why, but my lips have never been so chapped in my entire life, it seems like an odd observation, but my juicing buddy noticed the same thing… it might be a coincidence (and weird since we were very well hydrated) but maybe keep some lip balm on you if you are starting a juice cleanse.

Fourthly: Hello energy. Like crazy amounts of energy. I was already a night owl, but I felt like I could come home after work and actually be productive. I was waking up in the morning and not feeling groggy, I was 100% fine without having coffee! If you know anyone in my family, you will agree that this is a shocking thing. Its not a matter of if we are going for coffee, but when we are going for coffee.  Its practically pumping through our veins… add to that the fact that RHM serves stumptown and one of our work perks is free coffee with every shift… I’m almost never without it.

I’m going to go off on a little tangent here and say that I do not want to have children (bear with me, I’ll bring it back around.) I’ve never really had the desire to grow a human. I reserve the right to change my mind someday, maybe… and its perfectly possible that I will meet a man, and decide that I’m baby crazy and want to have a gaggle of tiny humans (only probably not, because the only way that more than one is coming out of me is if they are twins or whatever). For example if say Ben Jacobsen decided that he wanted me to be the mother of a child to inherit his salt empire… I might consider it… We’d probably have an adorable ginger baby.  (I will stop there. I don’t know Ben that well, and we are having dinner next month, and I don’t want him to think that I’m a total creeper who is blogging about having his babies…  I want him to think that I’m a witty, well adjusted, total not creeper who is blogging about having his babies… sometimes people don’t get my sense of humor OR my sarcasm… All I can say is, they are not my people.) Anyway, I am all for other people having babies, and to all of my friends/relatives who have recently had offspring, and who are planning on reproducing I DO really like your kids/ will like your kids… and I like some other people’s kids… but not most other peoples kids… ok before I dig myself into an even deeper hole, I’m bringing this back around to say that one of the reasons I have such a strong aversion to growing my own tiny human (there is a really long list of aversions, this is just one of many) is the whole giving up caffeine thing. *

I always assumed that it would be nearly impossible for me to do, and that it would be a slow and painful process in which I wanted to die, and was planning on taking everyone else down with me… Turns out, it wasn’t that bad, I only got two headaches, and I was off it for 8 days! (“Climb Every Mountain!!!”)

Fifthly:  I’m not craving sugar anymore.  Mostly I’ve been more of a savory person anyway, but over the holidays I was doing my fare share of indulging in hot chocolate, caramels etc.  The juice cleanse really helped me to quit the sugar, and now my body is craving more greens and whole foods than ever before. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still planning on making a trip to Sprinkefingers next week, and eating handfuls of gumdrops (it’s a good fantasy) but the important thing is that I’m no longer craving the sugar (fantasizing and craving are two entirely different things.)

Sixthly:  I noticed a lot about my eating habits, and how a lot of the time I eat when I’m not hungry… I really enjoy eating, I think most of us do, but sometimes I do it out of boredom, and sometimes it is honestly just a reflex. I can’t tell you how many times I went over to my parent’s house an instinctively went to reach for a handful of almonds… not because I was hungry, but because that is what I always do when I’m over there because there is a bowl of them on the kitchen counter. I do this at work all the time too with cookies, salads, spoonful’s of whipped cream… it’s a habit, and hopefully a habit that this juice cleanse was able to break. I’m now much more aware of what I’m putting into my body, and listening for when I’m actually hungry. I’m also being better about guzzling water anytime I feel that snack grabbing reflex kick in.  It’s a little change, but awareness is half the battle.

I did forget a few pieces of advice in my post last week about gearing up for a juice cleanse, so here they are now.

1)   use the buddy system. It is so much easier to stay accountable and on track if you are juicing with a friend. Especially when you work in a restaurant surrounded by delicious things, and some of your co-workers are jerks and keep eating things like bacon jam in front of you.  Yes, your family probably supports you, and in the end you are doing it for your own reasons, but there are always going to be the people out there who are a little bit annoyed at your for not eating, who don’t understand it, and who sometimes say dumb things like “well it’s your choices not to eat!” or who try to get you to fall off the wagon.  Its really helpful to have someone else who is going through the same thing that you are, and who will actually be 100% over the moon for you when you finish strong, and will whole heartedly share in your success. (because “Climb Every Mountain” should be sung as a duet. Duh) A huge shout out to my co-worker Lindsey who did the first five days of juicing with me, who lost 8 pounds, and who did it all while still feeing her husband and children, and also working all five of those days in the restaurant. I’m pretty sure I would have probably faltered/ at least had a handful of chips or something if I had all of those factors involved in my juice cleanse.

2)   As much as you can, try to get rid of “Temptations” from your fridge and pantry beforehand. Sometimes it is unavoidable, and sometimes you still have to cook for your family etc. But I cannot tell you how nice it was to come home and know that I didn’t have bags of chips, or cartons of leftovers begging me to eat them.

3)   Hazelnut milk saved my bacon.  I think one of the reasons my juice cleanse was so successful, and why I didn’t have any hunger pangs, and didn’t feel like death for the first few days (minus that caffeine headache on day one… I didn’t wean off early enough) was that my last “juice” of the day was actually home made hazelnut milk. I think protein is vital, and having a relatively thick and delicious treat like beverage every night was pretty amazing. Hazelnut milk is super easy to make (it just takes a little time.)

 

* I know that not wanting to give up caffeine is not a valid reason to not want to be pregnant. I also know that a lot of women drink caffeine throughout their entire pregnancy, and their babies are normal, and caffeine isn’t as bad as some other things. Considering my family, my offspring would probably be addicted to coffee at birth anyway, I think its genetic anyway, so I’d probably be fine slurping cold brew by the gallon…   I also know that I’ve been watching a whole lot of Mad Men, and seeing all the pregnant ladies who are drinking gimlets and smoking cigarettes, and I’m starting to wonder how there isn’t an entire generation of completely f*ed up people.

5 tips for at home juicers

 

$141 worth of produce

$141 worth of produce

Here we are, day one of Juice Cleanse extravaganza 2014 (It’s a working title) I’m going to spend the next five days not eating solid food, living off of juice, water, tea, and coconut water! Hooray! (no really, I’m excited) This will be my 3rd juice cleanse, and by far the longest, and though I’m a little nervous (I work in a restaurant surrounded by amazingly delicious things all the time… hello temptation) I’m mostly just ready to get this show on the road.

I wrote out menus for each day, made a grocery list, and made a few decisions about what sort of cleanse I was going to do.  After giving it a lot of thought, I decided to try and do all organic. I’m not about to get on my high horse and preach the benefits of organic eating, but eating organic whenever possible makes a lot of sense to me, and especially when juicing. Juice allows the nutrients to enter into your blood stream rather quickly, because your body doesn’t have to break down any fiber etc. Call me crazy, but it seems like anything that is essentially going to be directly entering your blood stream should be organic (I know my logic is flawed. But so what!)

And even though I’m on a tight budget I figured I would let myself splurge on organic. After all, I don’t have a family to support, I won’t be going out all week, and I won’t have expenses like coffee, takeout, and sadly I won’t have Wine Wednesday.  I set a budget for myself, and shopped around a little and tried to find the best bargains. This was a little labor intensive, and I ended up going to 5 different stores, but overall I was successful.  (I know five stores sounds like a lot. I could have narrowed it down, but I knew some stuff I wanted to get in bulk, some stuff I could only find at Whole Foods, some stuff I knew Trader Joe’s had at an excellent price… This is why planning is key. ) I couldn’t find organic grapes, and I opted to get a case of Meyer lemons at Costco rather than conventional organic lemons. I also did not buy organic fennel bulb ( I feel like I’m confessing my sins… but its my blog, so I’m not going to justify why I bought the fennel that I did..) And I was able to get everything I’m going to need for 5 days (and then some) for $141. I This breaks down to $28/ day.  Manageable. (my professional juice cleanse ended up being about $50 a day including delivery, so I’m thrilled with $28).

 

super delicious OM juice from Portland Juice Press

super delicious OM juice from Portland Juice Press

golden beets, meyer lemons, ginger and turmeric root, kale.

golden beets, meyer lemons, ginger and turmeric root, kale.

I’m not planning on eating anything, though I might supplement with chia seeds, coconut oil and, depending on how the first few days go, nuts.  I’m also going to practice oil pulling while I’m on my cleanse. I haven’t done any research about a combination of the two, but it seems as though they would go hand in hand. (you can read more about oil pulling here.)  I know that my hardest day will likely be Tuesday, since I’m working a 10 hour shift. If I can make it through a day at the restaurant, and a staff meeting where everyone is drinking beer and eating cheese, than I can make it through anything.

I thought a bit about what I wanted to say in this post, and decided that I’m not going to ramble on about how wonderful juicing is, why I’m doing it, the health benefits, the pros and cons etc. I’m not a nutritionist /doctor/health coach/ expert in any sense of the word, and there are about nine gazillion other websites and blogs you can visit to get menus, facts, benefits etc. I really like the way juicing makes me feel, and after the holidays my entire life feels like it needs a mini-detox.

I am going to offer up 5 pieces of advice for anyone who is embarking on, or thinking about embarking on a juice cleanse, and hopefully these little nuggets of information will help make your life a little easier.

1)   Do your research. Whether you are going to be juicing at home, or juicing through a company, you need to spend a little time looking into things. How much will it cost? Do they deliver? what kind of juicer are you going to get? How long will the juice last? Do you have time to juice?  These are all pretty basic questions, and all things you should probably have a pretty good grasp on before you commit to a cleanse.   My first 3 day cleanse was through Portland Juice Press, and I really cannot say enough good things about it. They were so wonderful to work with, they offered a group rate, delivered it all the way to us in Dundee, and the best part is that there is no mess. You don’t have to spend hours a day making juice and cleaning up, you just open up your fridge every few hours and reach for the juice. They even tell you what order to drink them in. The flavors were really interesting, the juice was satisfying, and the entire process was pretty much painless.   From there I became a little addicted, and since I’m an hour outside of the city, I decided to invest in my own juicer.  There are countless different brands, makes, and models out there, so again you really have to know what it is you are looking for in a juicer. My priorities were juice quality, and easiness to clean.  I ended up with the Omega 8006 juicer, and I’m so in love. A little on the pricey side, but it has 15 year warrantee, is super easy to clean, and it is what they call a masticating juicer. Essentially it crushes the juice using a very slow rpm, which helps keep the juice from oxidizing, and it maintains more of the healthy enzymes and benefits. Juice from a masticating juicer also has a longer shelf life, so you have up to 72 hours to drink your juice (other types they recommend consuming the juice right away or within 24 hours) This type of juicer is perfect for doing a cleanse because you can make juice for a couple of days in advance. Once you know what you are wanting out of a juice cleanse/ juicer it is easier to commit. Also keep in mind that juicing is not a quick process. You are going to need to block off some time to make the juice (its like cooking) you have to chop everything, juice it, clean the juicer etc… If you are going to be juicing for the entire day, it could take up to two hours ( including all the prep and clean up…masticating juicer do go a little bit slower, but they also extract more juice.)

2)   Make a Plan: sit down and write a menu. Seriously, treat it like you would a dinner party. List out all the days and exactly what juices you are planning on making (you can always switch it up) and from there make a grocery list. Its easy to see exactly what you are going to need once everything is listed out, and once the grocery list is made its easy to write out notes about where you are going to look for each item. Spending 15 minutes making a menu and grocery list will make it so easy once you are actually out shopping, especially if you have to go to multiple stores, you will know exactly what you need to get.

3)   Plan Ahead (this goes hand in hand with Make a plan).  Though I’m sure there are people who just jump into a detox like this, I think you will be a lot happier with the results and the entire process if you take a little time before and after the cleanse to make some minor changes to your diet and lifestyle. For me the biggest things to cut out in advance are alcohol and caffeine.(  Of course it is recommended to cut out dairy, meet etc. beforehand, and to try and eat a clean and unprocessed diet at least a few days in advance) All I know is that I drink a lot of coffee, and the last thing I want to do is be on a juice cleanse while suffering from caffeine headaches. Save yourself the headache (sorry, couldn’t resist) and get off caffeine a few days before you start. I switched to tea about a week ago, and stopped caffeine entirely two days before.  Look at your calendar, because the last thing you want is to be in the middle of a juice cleanse while you are out at a birthday party, wedding, or other social engagement. I mean its fine, its not like you are on house arrest when you are juicing, but if everyone around you is drinking, eating, and having a grand old time, you will probably hate your life a little bit, and be tempted to cheat.   Also, clean out your refrigerator before you go shopping.  You are going to need to place to store the produce, and all the juice, and it takes up quite a bit of space.  How are you going to store your juice? (I personally use mason jars, they are the perfect size for one 16ish oz serving, and they fit well in the fridge) Are all your jars clean?

4)   Drink so much water. Seriously. Drink it. You are essentially releasing a ton of toxins from your body, and they need to be flushed out. They are looking for any way to get out of your body, and chances are they are going to be flooding out of your pores (breakouts, and bad breath are common side effects of juicing because of this) drink water, drink water, drink water.   (this is probably the hardest part for me. Especially when I’m at work, and literally have to get someone to cover my station every time I go to the bathroom. Its not like I can discretely slip away and have no one notice, I actually have to tell someone, sometimes multiple people “hey I’m going pee, cover the front”  On normal days this is fine, but on busy days there are lines out the door, and sometimes abandoning your post, even for a 2 minutes bathroom break, just isn’t happening. )

5)   Make your own rules, and give yourself a break.  Juicing is hard, and you know your body. If you need to eat, then eat. You have just stocked up on all this great stuff to put in your juice, if you absolutely need a snack, then eat one of the oranges, have a handful of nuts, do what you need to do, and don’t judge yourself for it. I always carry a handful of almonds in my bag when I’m doing a juice cleanse, just incase I need a little boost of texture and protein.  Maybe on your juice fast you juice during the day and have a healthy meal at night. Maybe you eat nuts and solids all day. Maybe you are just juicing as a supplement. Find what works for you. Also have fun, try some new ingredients! Have you juiced asparagus? Tumeric root?

*Side Note:  Because I feel like it has to be addressed, because everyone always asks me in person: Does a juice cleanse make you poop a lot/ give you the runs? Though it seems of-putting to be talking about brown-towning in a blog about juicing/ being healthy, I get why people ask that question.  My simple answer is: everybody poops. Lets just think about it… you are drinking liquid for days… what do you think that would do to your bowel movements? Everyone’s bodies and eating habits are different, and I think if you eat enough fiber on a regular basis you aren’t going to really notice a big difference.  Some days were looser than others, and I’m just going to leave it at that. I never felt like I had to stay close to a restroom, or like I couldn’t go out and do things, there were no emergencies.

 

And just because I don’t want to end a blog post with everyone thinking about bowel movements here  is a recipe for one of my favorite juices .

5 carrots

¾ of a red bell pepper

1 apple

1 inch of turmeric root

 

cranberry, orange, fennel bulb, pomegranate

cranberry, orange, fennel bulb, pomegranate

 

golden beet, carrot, orange, fennel bulb and ginger juice

golden beet, carrot, orange, fennel bulb and ginger juice

Accessorizing my oatmeal: a little healthy breakfast pizazz

I wouldn’t say that I’ve been on a health kick necessarily ( yeah, I’m still eating bacon cookies and cheese pizzas at work with some frequency) but over the last few weeks I have been trying to make a conscious effort to cook and eat healthy while at home. The green smoothies are evidence of that, and as my work days get longer, I’m realizing that the best thing I can do is set myself up for a successful day with healthy food. There are an onset of 12 hour days in my future, and I’m also training for a half marathon… IE my body needs to be fueled appropriately… ( sometimes with pizza & bacon cookies ok! )

This morning I came home from a run and was racking my brain as to what I should eat for breakfast. I was laying on the floor next to the pantry and glanced up into the shelves to see if I could get some inspiration… Quinoa? Cheerios? Toast? And then my eyes fell upon a mason jar full of oatmeal. I couldn’t even remember the last time I had oatmeal, but on this overcast morning something warm and filling sounded perfect.

I decided immediately to add a little pizazz to my breakfast, and immediatly went to my freezer and pulled out almonds, walnuts, and flax seed, blended together with a dash of cinnamon, this created a nutrient dense and delicious topping. I then took it a step further by adding in some chia seeds and coconut oil, and just a splash of agave for some sweetness. Can you say power house breakfast? Loaded with fiber, protein, omega 3s, B vitamins etc. ( ok yes, also a fair amount of fat from the coconut oil & the nuts… But it’s the good kind! ) this was just what I needed to fuel my body post run/ pre-yoga.

I might not always eat as healthfully as I should, or as healthy as I would like, but you have to start somewhere, and today I started with supercharged oatmeal.

Recipe:
( I pretty much just eyeball everything, so use your best judgement/ make to taste)

1/2 cup oatmeal prepared normally

Topping:
Small handful of walnuts
1-2 TBS golden flax seed
2 TBS sliced almonds
Cinnamon to taste
1 TBS chia seed
Spoonful of coconut oil.

Blend flax seed, walnuts & almonds together ( I used the magic bullet, but a food processor or coffee grinder would work) add in cinnamon & pulse a few more times.

Add topping to oatmeal, along with chia seeds & coconut oil.

Mix & enjoy! ( add milk or soy milk if desired)

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Green smoothies, Healthy choices, and some personal anecdotes about my addiction to gluten.

So I’m back on the green smoothie band wagon. Not that I every really got off of the bandwagon… But when I’m working 11+ hour days, I’m realizing that I need a boost of something healthy, raw, and green to keep me going. I’m on my feet pretty much all day, and though I do get fed while at work, one cannot sustain on breakfast sandwiches, woodfire pizzas, and cookies alone.  (though one might often try…) At the end of the day my energy is so low I sometimes contemplate trying to go gluten free, and seeing if that makes a different… I contemplate this for literally like a tenth of a second before snapping back to reality. Hi my name is Tayler and I’m pretty much a gluten addict… I know that gluten free is kinda trendy right now…(my dog is even gluten free for crying out loud) but I’ve never been much for trends…  This morning I made a salad to go with my croutons… that is right. I didn’t make a great salad and then later think “you know what this needs? some croutons!” no, in fact I did the opposite. I made croutons, and then decided that I couldn’t just eat croutons for breakfast (though I don’t know why not, I’m an adult, I can eat what I want!) so I made a salad to go underneath…
And now for a slight tangent about gluten, but we will get back to the smoothies I promise. Back when I was a kid, long before there was all the hype about gluten intolerance, gluten free etc, I had a bread route. And when I say I had a bread route, I mean my brother and I baked bread every Friday morning, and then went around to our regular customers, most of whom were co-workers of my parents at the local hospital, or people like our piano teacher, and we sold small loaves of whole wheat bread. We actually had a stone flour mill, and we ground the wheat ourselves… mostly on Thursday nights, my parents would be watching ER, and I would run upstairs to the kitchen to grind the wheat during commercial breaks…. (yes, our kitchen was upstairs, and yes, I’m not making this up… Its amazing this didn’t make it onto a college submission essay somewhere…I should probably blog about this in further detail…) Anyway, back when I was eight years old, and baking bread every week, it didn’t seem strange to me that we actually had a little pouch full of gluten in our freezer that we would add to each batch of bread… We were following the recipe, and it sold damn well, and as far as I knew, everyone had pouches of gluten sitting in their freezer for baking purposes.  Needless to say, back then we never had any requests for gluten free bread, and we had probably never even heard of gluten free bread… and laugh all you want at this weird little story, but I was able to buy myself three American Girl Dolls with my bread earnings, and a whole lot of accessories for them… and I can promise you this… freshly baked bread sells better than lemonade any day of the week.
I really have no desire to give up gluten at all… (though I no longer keep pouches of it in my freezer) I know all these gluten free people who tell me how much more energy they have, how much better they feel etc. and I’ve even had people suggest that my eczema might be gluten related… but here is the thing… I don’t feel bad, and I’m terrified that if I give up gluten, or dairy, or any of my other comfort foods I will feel great. (stay with me through this train of thought)  I know that sounds dumb, I’m terrified of feeling great? Not really, but mostly I’m terrified of how bad I would feel if I ever stopped eating these things, and then slipped and went back on them…. I don’t feel bad now when I eat cheese, or gluten, and wouldn’t it just suck, to suddenly feel terrible after eating these things? I think it would… anyway, I try to stick with “everything in moderation” and overall I think its working for me… am I still talking about gluten? ok back to my original topic.

I’ve been taking my smoothies to work to sip on during breaks, or while I’m in the office, and naturally I get a little bit of flack from just about everyone. I get all the usual comments “what are you drinking?” “What is in there?” or “why don’t you just eat a salad?” The answer is, because who has time to eat salads these days? I mean I do, but not at 5:30 in the morning when I’m running out the door to get to work by 6AM for an 11 hour shift. I do, however, have time to drink things from a straw while doing my hair, driving, or any of the other countless* things I have to do to get ready in the morning.

(*A list of things I can do while drinking a smoothie that I cannot do while eating a salad: water the garden, chase the dog around the yard, curl my hair, put on makeup, make my bed, put on shoes, empty the dishwasher, drive a car, empty the trash, put on clothes, do calf presses/ wall squats, vacuum, paint my finger nails, dance around.)
Green Smoothie, ready for the morning time

Green Smoothie, ready for the morning time

Everyone is taken aback by the color, but I think it is mostly awesome… and its not like anything gross is going into the smoothies themselves, it is just often an interesting combination of things… (though if some of you green smoothie drinkers out there could call my parents and tell them that I’m not actually a weird-o/ lots of “normal” people drink these, and this is not just one of my yogi/mountain-muffin/ health kick phases.) My ex used to be totally grossed out by the idea of green smoothies, and some of my co-workers still are… but mostly I think people are used to me showing up to work with jar full of green-ness. I’ve gotta stay healthy somehow! I’m working, I’m running, and I need to fuel my body… and this body needs an obscene amount of kale.  Sure, a salad might seem a little more delicious to some folks, but right now, with my schedule, veggies through a straw makes the most sense. (and its actually pretty delicious) Its especially great on the days that I have to work really early, because I can make a smoothie the night before, pop it in the fridge, and its ready for me first thing, its a grab and go meal that is 100% healthy, and easy.

My recipe varies a little bit, just depending on what ingredients I have on hand, but my smoothies usually consist of spinach, kale, celery, half a granny-smith apple, half a cucumber, a banana (or a pear) coconut oil, chia seed, ground flax seed, mint leaves, and water.  Its super basic, but the banana pretty much masks all of the overly green flavors from the kale, and the coconut oil and mint make everything really palatable. Sometimes I add coconut milk for a little extra creaminess, and I’m sure this summer I will be adding various berries as they begin to come in from the garden.

Look at all of that goodness

Look at all of that goodness

This last round of groceries, I got a huge bag of spinach, and actually pureed it and froze it in ice cube trays, which has worked magically and has saved a lot of time and money. I can almost never use the whole thing of spinach before it goes bad, and this way the smoothies are extra cold. I’m contemplating trying this with kale as well, though I did just plant kale in my garden, so hopefully I will not have to buy as much.

I’ve been pretty consistent in my smoothie consumption (I’d say at least 4 per week) but this week I’m going to try for 7 days of smoothies for breakfast…. the busier I get, the poorer I tend to eat/ the more I tend to over-eat, and I think I owe it to myself to start my day off with an über- nutritious breakfast. Anyone else want to join me? 7 days of green goodness starts now! (or tomorrow, since I did eat that bowl of croutons for breakfast… there really was lettuce and kale underneath it though!)

Personal Weekend Rules, and how I always manage to break them.

Firstly, let me apologize for my falling off the blogging earth. My computer died, like completely is without power with no hope of turning it back on sort of dead, and so my internet access is limited to my cell phone, and brief moments at work when I’m sending official e-mails and updating the company facebook page. I contemplated blogging from my phone for a good 2.5 seconds, and then decided typing a blog post on that tiny key board just wasn’t worth it. I still don’t have a computer (I had to pay a hefty sum to the US & State government…. how does that work exactly?) so it will still be a few paychecks until I get fully back into the tec world, but in the meantime I finally borrowed my Dad’s teeny tiny laptop… and by teeny tiny, I mean, this is just a step up from typing on a cell phone keyboard… please excuse the multiple typos that I’m sure will follow.)
I’m just finishing up two glorious days off of work…days wich, of course, were not nearly as productive as I would have liked them to be, but what can you do? I really only have four set “rules” for my days away from work, and they are as follows: Excercise, put on real person clothes, cook myself something, and socialize with other humans. These rules are so basid they probably don’t really need to be stated out loud…These are kind of common sense things, that arguably most people do… then again, have you read the warning labels on a hair dryer lately?  Most people probably wouldn’t get in the a tub while operating a hair dryer, and yet they put the warning lable on there anyway for the poor saps who can’t quite figure it out. It’s for their own protection. I am not a poor sap… and mostly I do not struggle with these four things, but sometimes it is nice to state them outloud, to put them out into the universe, and to know that the rules are put into place for my own protection. That being said, rules are often meant to br broken.
I usually do really good with these rules on my first day off and this week was no exception. I ran 7.1 miles (and let me tell you, the last time I ran 7.1 miles was in Septemer of 2010… this is kind of a big deal for me!) I curled my hair, put on a dress,made a healthy breakfast, met up with some old friends… Tuesday I was all about my day off rules, and I even upped the anty by doing a few loads of laundry, gardening, and taking myeslf out to lunch. Go me.
Wednesday, was of course a horse of a different color… (who even came up with that metaphore, and what really does it mean? Just now I flashed back to this weird Howie Mendel educational computer game  I had growning up that was all about life on the farm, and of course there were rainbow horses that popped up and said “I’m a horse of a different color!” needless to say, this did not help clarify anything.) Wednesday, my alarm went off, and already I’m starting to make bargains with myself. I still really want to get up and excercise, but my tendonitis is flairing up, and so already I’m thinking to myself ” well I am teaching two yoga classes today… that mostly counts as excercise.” FALSE. Teaching yoga, and taking yoga are two very different things,but at 7AM, its pretty easy to justify it as you push the snooze button. The same logic applies to getting dressed. “Well I have to teach two classes today, I should probably just stay in my yoga pants all day.” and the practical side of me cannot argue with this… who wants to make 3+ wardrobe changes in a day? Not this girl… already, two of my grown up life rules out the window minutes after getting out of bed. Rules were made to be broken!
In my defense, I did actually attempt to go for a run… I made it 1 mile before the tendonitis took over my life…looks like I pushed a little too hard with the 7.1… but lately my mantra has been “you’ll only get out as much as you put in.” Full disclosure… I came up with this mantra because i was finding it ridiculously difficult to wash my face before going to bed. I realize this post makes me sound increddibly lazy/ unmotivated about life as I’m having to use little gimics to get me to put on real clothes etc… but sometimes I really feel that as a women, getting ready for bed takes a lot of work. The makeup has to come off the face washed, moisturizer applied, teeth flossed and brushed, contacts removed… and often pores are examined, eye brows tweezed… and sometimes putting in the effort to get through all of that is hard… Shit, maybe I am just really lazy… anyway, since I started working in a restaurant my skin has been flairing up a little more… and I would stare down my giant zits and remind myself that if I wanted normal adult skin, I had to act like an adult and wash my face every night, or stop caring… a mindblowing breakthrough to have at age 27… And really the same goes for just about everything in life. excercise, diets, relationships, work… if you want to see the results you have to put in the effort. (except on the occasional Wednesday when you really just want to wear yoga pants to the grocery store… and even then, I think its actually safer not to put on normal clothes to go to the grocery… have you seen the types of things that people are buying? today the guy in front of my was purchasing 30+ fitness waters, about 6 boxes of snackwells, 10 frozen dinners, 3 boxes of waffles… yes indeed, you get out of it what you put into it… and at this rate I think it is probably safe to say, I’m not going to meet my soul mate at the bargain grocery store…)
This is getting awfuly rambly, especially since I’m basically blogging about being lazy/ unmotivated to be a real person…this could perhaps be a clue as to why I am single… or maybe its just a little dash of realism that makes me relatable?

2013 Vision Board Project

I created my first Vision Board almost five years ago…I think this was right around the time The Secret was at its height in popularity. And though I never read or watched it…everyone knows the basic principles… you have to put out there what you want back. AKA go boldly in the direction of your dreams…  Miraculously I have moved this poster board with me 4 different times  ( clearly I have issues with getting rid of things).  Currently, that original vision board lives in my storage shed… but a few months ago when I stumbled across it, I realized it might be time to make a new one. After all, my life has been in a huge transition period, and also just about everything on that original board I’ve already accomplished. Time to start new!

My Vision Board from 4+ years ago

My Vision Board from 4+ years ago

I always struggle with getting a little too specific… I think it is great to manifest something, and work towards things and sometimes that is exactly what you need… and with my last vision board it actually worked really well… I did get a bulldog named Toby, I went to Fenway Park, I got my RYT certification, and I am blogging… I didn’t get the tattoo that I was planning, but I got one I like better, and sure, I don’t have a kumquat tree… but I’ve had 3 Meyer lemon trees in the meantime, so I think that counts for something! Some stuff on there is stuff I no longer really want… like attending the University of Montana, or weighing 135 pounds (ok I still want that, but it probably doesn’t need to go on a vision board… Being motivated, sure. Healthy choices. Yes. Having perfect abs? Not so much…Ha, what was once important to me at the age of 23 now seems a bit shallow, go figure.)

This time around, I’m not as worried about specifics, as I am trying to manifest a direction I’d like my life to go in, and focusing on the things I value and things I want to incorporate more of into my life. Creativity, Love, developing my yoga practice, creating a home…  These last few months I’ve had to really take a step back and completely revise what I want to do with my life and kind of start from scratch  as far as how I identify myself and what goals I want to work towards…it’s a bit challenging to manifest specifics when life seems to be going in every which direction… so I’m going a little more abstract… and what I found was that as I was searching for materials, I was less drawn to pictures, and more drawn to words… which as a writer, I think this makes a lot of sense.

I also did a little “research” on vision boards, and actually found this article on Oprah.com really interesting.  Like its important not to over-think it, and just go with what you are drawn to. “When you start assembling pictures that appeal to this deep self, you unleash one of the most powerful forces on our planet: human imagination. Virtually everything humans use, do, or make exists because someone thought it up. Sparking your incredibly powerful creative faculty is the reason you make a vision board. The board itself doesn’t impact reality; what changes your life is the process of creating the images—combinations of objects and events that will stick in your subconscious mind and steer your choices toward making the vision real.” ( by Martha Beck. Read the full article here.)

And I think this is mostly true… for me going through old magazines and finding those few things that jump off the page is really therapeutic. And I think that is probably a huge part of the vision board, is trying to focus in on what things resonate with you, and taking the time to cut them out, consciously making a decision that “yes, this is something that I want to focus my energy on.”  Cutting stuff out, and finding those key pieces is the hard part… gluing things together is where it gets a little more creative.  I have been assembling collage supplies for years (just ask my parents how many magazines I have refused to let them recycle/ how many folders of things they had to move out my childhood home.) I started making collages when I was in high school… I even have a collaged bookshelf sitting out in my garage… (and that has moved with me 11 times… 11. It’s not even my aesthetic anymore, and wouldn’t really fit anywhere in my home, but I cannot part with it! )  and today I went through a few of the folders just making sure I didn’t have something perfect for my vision board squirreled away. It was pretty hilarious to see some of the stuff I’ve cut out over the years. Some things are very much what you would have expected a 15-year-old to hang onto (I really can’t even tell you how many magazine cut outs of Prince William there are… it’s pretty sad)  but some of the stuff just made me think “yup, I’ve always been an old soul.” And then there was an awkward moment when I started to sift through things and realized that stuff I had cut out of fashion magazines is actually now currently living in my closet… I guess manifestation really does work… because the amount of things I had cut out that I now actually own is a little creepy.

I literally have over 10 years of collage materials (condensed into one expandable folder, for the most part), and I am happy to say, that today upon the completion of my vision board, I actually recycled all the old magazines I had around the house. I’m slowly purging… it’s the little victories in life.

Once I had everything cut out, I tried to organize the pictures and words into categories or pods. There are basically 3 main themes running through the board… Yoga, Love, and Everything else (meaning, working on me, life, motivation, goals etc.)  And I tried to arrange them on the board in a way that they were concentrated in their groups, but also connected with each other, so it had a natural flow… And here it is… here I am, putting these thoughts, and this energy out into the universe, and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes back as I’m starting this new chapter in my life.  It is definitely a little busy, so I tried to get some different sections so you can see more of the details.

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Jumping on the Coconut Oil Bandwagon:

About a week ago I jumped on the coconut oil bandwagon. My roommate used to have coconut oil in the house all the time for cooking purposes, but for the past several years I have been all about the EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) and I use it in pretty much everything so I never gave much thought to other vegetable and nut oils. It was olive oil, or nothing. But it seems like everyone I know is posting things on pinterest about the benefits of coconut oil, or 101 uses for the stuff, and some of it actually sounds pretty interesting.

One of the great things about having more free time, is being able to follow up on whims and projects… I hopped in my car and headed to Trader Joes for a few random groceries, and of course some in-expensive coconut oil.

And here I am, a week later, kind of obsessed with the stuff… I’m using it in cooking, on my face, even for the dog. Here are a few of my top uses for coconut oil.

First and foremost, I purchased coconut oil so I could begin oil pulling. It is rooted in Ayurvedic tradition (something that fascinates me) and I had been wanting to try it for a long time. Essentially you swish vegetable oil in your mouth for 15-20 minutes, and it starts to stimulate the mucus membranes, and is a great way to detoxify the body.  I suffer from chronic tonsillitis, and every time I get sick, it manifests in my tonsils, so really anything that would help pull toxins from the body and give my tonsils a break sounded like something worth a try. Even if detoxification wasn’t in the mix, pulling is thought to help whiten teeth, improve gum health and help with bad breath. (who doesn’t want all of those things?) I’m an avid coffee drinker, and lately I’ve also been drinking a lot of green tea (supposedly as staining to your teeth as coffee) so whitening seems like an added bonus.  Supposedly, pulling also helps with migraines, skin ailments, joint pain, fatigue, and so and so forth.  The thing that makes the most sense to me, is that our mouths are filled with bacteria, and the mouth is the gateway to a lot of other systems in the body (plaque in the mouth is the same plaque that causes heart issues etc.) Starting to detoxify the body, even if it is just the mouth seems like it would naturally have a lot of health benefits… right? So I decided to try it, and I’m kind of obsessed.    You can use any type of vegetable oil, but when I tried using olive oil, I found it was too spicy, and was hard to keep the oil in my mouth for an extended period of time. ( I think sesame oil is also recommended, but also kind of gross). I like using coconut oil because the flavor is really mild. At first 15-20 minutes seemed like a REALLY long time, but being an infamous multi-tasker, I just decided to “pull” while I was in the shower and getting ready for the day, and the 15-20 minutes go by a lot faster than you think.  You don’t need very much oil (a very small spoonful, the coconut oil will melt in your mouth) and you do not want to swallow the oil as it will be loaded with bacteria.  After the time is up, spit the oil in the toilet or, as I do, into a  plastic cup.  (I suppose you could spit in the sink, but I used to work at an olive oil tasting room, and I’ve seen what excess olive oil can do a septic system… I’m inclined to think that coconut oil wouldn’t be that different… I plan on pouring my cup of coconut oil  out in some back corner of the yard…)   I’ve been pulling  for a week, and I’m still going strong. My mouth feels healthier, and I’ve noticed my tongue looks a lot cleaner… my skin is also looking great, but that could be the fact that I’m also putting coconut oil on my face.  Really, I want someone else that I know to try this, and then we can compare notes…

As a moisturizer:  I will admit, I was skeptical to start putting oil on my face. My entire life I’ve had combination skin, so I’ve been walking that fine line between excessively oily, excessively dry, or that weird shiny but flaky look that plagues us combination skin types.  Haven’t people been telling us our whole lives that its all the excess oil that is trapping the skin cells on our face and causing clogged pores? Well, after doing a little research, it made a lot of sense to me that trying to remove excess oil from your face with cleansers actually makes your body produce more oil, since your skin is trying to compensate. This leaves skin not only parched, but then saturated with extra oil… great… good to know I’ve just been exacerbating the problem for years.  I’m not a science minded lady, but it does makes sense to me that like dissolves like, so why we expect that washing our face with water would help get rid of oil is a mystery. But perhaps adding oil to oil… now we are getting somewhere… Putting “clean” oil on your face helps dissolve the “bad” oil and can help remove any build up in your pores… So not only have I started using coconut oil as a moisturizer, but I’ve also adopted the OCM (Oil Cleaning Method) and have started using oil to wash my face.

At first I was a little terrified… but when I saw how great my skin looked after the first “wash” I was sold… granted it has only been a week, and I reserve the right to change my mind at any time during this experiment, but for the time being, I’m sold. My skin has a healthy glow (and not the oily kind), and my pores appear way smaller… all I have to say to that is Halleluiah! I’ve always been a little self-conscious about my pores… ask me one thing I could change about my body, and I don’t even think about the cellulite or the shape of my thighs…(I mean I do a little, but when it comes to my body, I always figure if I REALLY wanted to make a change, I would work a little harder, exercise a little more… overall I’m happy with my shape…)  if I could change one thing about my body I would have smaller less visible pores… who knew that all it would take would be adding some oil to my skin? Currently I’m actually using a blend of caster oil and olive oil to “wash” my face, and am then finishing up by putting coconut oil around my eyes and on any dry areas. This post is getting a little long, so I won’t go into full detail, but I found the instructions on the Full Moxie, and she has some great explanations, and links to other blogs to get you started.  My only suggestion would be that, you should in fact use a hot wash-cloth over your face afterward to help open up the pores and remove the excess oil, otherwise it can be a little challenging/ a little messy to try and wash off in the sink. The only downside of this whole method is that I’m having to wash my hand towels more frequently (so maybe it’s actually a good thing).

     In food/cooking: I’ve only tried using coconut oil in a few culinary endeavors, but after reading about the health benefits, I’m excited to start using it more. Its supposed to be great for the Thyroid, good for boosting the metabolism, good for the immune system, good for your skin, good for reducing stress, good for your bones, etc. etc.  I’ve been adding a spoonful to my green smoothies in the morning, and it definitely enhances the flavor. Don’t get me wrong, I actually don’t mind the taste of green smoothies… but every now and then, they are just a little too green (I blame the raw kale) but the coconut oil adds a subtle flavor boost.  I also added a bit of coconut oil to my quinoa the other day (I usually make a large batch of quinoa at the beginning of the week, and then re-heat and enhance as necessary for a quick meal.) I usually re-heat the quinoa in a pan on the stove, so I tossed a little coconut oil in, and it was delicious.  I’ve also been using coconut oil to make popcorn… (its especially good if you are wanting a little bit of sweetness).

     For the Dog: Toby, like me, has rather sensitive skin… I used to put olive oil in his food to help with his skin and fur…  But, being a bit of an olive oil snob, it was getting a little pricey to be adding good olive oil to his food (he’s like my kid… but I don’t think he really appreciates the nuances of the flavor of the koroneki olive oil… and I’m on a tight budget) but over the past few days I have been mixing a little coconut oil in with his meals.   I’ve also been using coconut oil to soothe this dry nose, and have been putting a small amount into his nose rope. Those of you with bulldogs know that they are prone to yeast infections in their face rolls, and cleaning out his wrinkles is a daily grooming ritual. Coconut oil is supposed to have antimicrobial properties, and said to be good for treating yeast infections… (though I might just let the dog try that one out)  The coconut oil hasn’t completely alleviated his yeast problems, but it has definitely slowed down the growth rate, and over all his snout seems healthier and happier.

     On my hair: I’ve been growing out my hair for what seems like forever, and I’ve been doing occasional hot oil treatments to help stimulate my scalp and hair growth.  Yesterday I used coconut oil on my scalp and hair as a moisturizing treatment. Today my hair feels great, but I will say it looked a little greasy yesterday even after I washed it.  As a disclaimer, I have never been the kind of girl who can pull off shampooing every other day. I know it is supposed to be better for your hair, and I’m sure that if I actually toughed it out and got through the initial week of greasiness, I would really love the results… but I’m just not that girl. Its fine when I’m camping… but back here in the real world, I like to wash my hair…  I remember being a little girl sitting at the dinner table and my mom looking at me and suggesting that maybe I should wash my hair twice the next time I showered… she wasn’t trying to be mean, I know it was coming from a place of “I don’t want my kid to be the greasy un-bathed child on the playground” but I think it has lead to a life-long insecurity about having greasy hair.  (sorry mom, I don’t hold it against you) Not to mention the fact that pretty much every morning when I wake up, I look like the cross between Tarzan and a rat terrier. I shower every day… and I wash my hair everyday… call it my fatal flaw.  I’ve always been jealous of the women who could go for days without washing their hair (I have always had these types of women for roommates… and I’m full of envy). I’m getting a little off-topic I know… but what I’m getting at, is that the coconut oil left my hair looking a little greasier than I would have liked… but, I still think using it as a hair treatment is a great idea, but maybe I’ll just do it on the weekends.

Ok, this post is getting long, and I don’t want to bore you with my new found love of coconut oil. Just a quick list of a few of the other things I’ve been using it for

-to protect and moisturize my tattoo

-as a lip balm

-on my eczema patches (with mixed results)

-on my cuticles