An Uncomplicated Life Blog: 2020


Thursday, February 13, 2020

5 Books To Read This Year

On the hunt for a good book? Check out this short list of entertaining, inspiring, thrilling or just plain good books to add to your reading list this year

One of my goals for 2020 was to watch less TV. I'm always amused by TV, but I never feel particularly great about myself after I watch, say, The Real Housewives of New Jersey. In fact, I actually DO feel much better after I've spent the night reading. I feel like my brain was actually exercised. I also notice that my vocabulary is improved, even if I'm reading a relatively "dumb" or merely entertaining book. If you want less screen time, or simply to enjoy yourself curled up with a good book, I couldn't recommend reading more. It's really a great hobby to enjoy. Even if all you do is carve out 15 minutes a day to read before bed, I bet odds are you'll be happier than watching TV until you go to sleep! With all that said, if you're looking for some good reads to embark on a new reading/less TV spree like me this year, I have this post that has some great titles in it. I've also got these 6 books to read this year, all of which I've enjoyed:

Like it? Pin it!

In A Dark, Dark Wood
I'm a fan of a good thriller. Why? I don't know because I read before bed and when my husband is gone traveling for work, it becomes challenging to fall asleep at night. This one is about a bachelorette party that starts weird and gets weirder, with secrets between friends and a few dead participants to boot. If you want a fast read with twists and turns, this one is for you!

The Woman In The Window
Another thriller. It was after reading this one that I realized I needed to cool it on the thrillers because it was getting hard to sleep! I got this as a recommendation from a girlfriend's book club. It didn't disappoint! A heavily medicated shut-in woman witnessed something, but what did she really see, and how does she convince people she really saw it when she's so heavily medicated? When this book gets to the culmination, you absolutely can't put it down! I stayed up until midnight reading it one night, which is saying a lot because I usually get up at least once a night with a child and then get up for the day around 6am. So if it's worth it to lose that much sleep on a book, it must be good.

Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Cafe
I can't believe it took me 35 years to read the book behind my favorite movie of all time, Fried Green Tomatoes. For my 30th birthday, a girlfriend and I took a trip to Georgia to see the town the movie was filmed in and eat at the cafe (the fried green tomatoes and the fried chicken were indeed delicious!) It's an endearing story about an unlikely friendship. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll think of yourself as one of the characters in the book, just another friend following along the story. This classic stands the test of time, and is a sweet read (that, if you also are a fan of the movie, will give you so much more insight to the film, so definitely read it).

The Alchemist
My mom handed me this on one of her visits, and told me that the woman on the plane next to her had given it to her to read. It starts out a little slow, but I have to say - this book is inspiring, and it has some one liners that really get you thinking about your own life. It's a super fast read; I think I finished it in a matter of days. If you're looking for a simple book with a simple story that, somehow, gets you thinking about your life and the choices you make, this is your book.

The German Girl
I really wasn't sure if this one was going to make my list. It starts out SLOW. And perhaps just as bad as being a slow starting novel, it's repetitive. So it repeats the slowness. However, about a quarter of the way in, I found myself unable to put it down! It gets really good. You get invested in the characters. And it's a deeply emotional story that makes you think about WWII, The Holocaust, and Nazi Germany in a whole new way (at least for me, a non-Jewish woman who, frankly, never considered the details of what 1930's Germany was actually like). It's an intense book! It's not uplifting. But I think it's a really important story to read. If it doesn't leave you a more compassionate person, nothing will.

I've now rounded up all the titles that I've enjoyed lately, and am in need of more titles to read! We're creeping up on summer though, and I find that I like happier, cheery novels that are quick reads. I can handle dark thrillers in the dark months of winter, but in summer I want romance and comedy and all things light and airy. If you have any recommendations, let me know! Otherwise I'll blindly get a list of books together and likely craft a list next spring for some easy going summer reads. Happy reading friends! I seriously recommend turning your TV off and turning your mind on to enjoy yourself, even if it's just a few minutes before bed every day.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Favorite Mood Boosters

When the winter months seem to drag on and on, use these tips to boost your mood

At least we're no longer in January, amirite? Man, that's one long month. I feel like January, February and March all need to max out at 28 days each. Even down here in the South, where we barely have "winter", it felt long and dragging for me. Hubby was gone traveling for the first two weeks and then we've had nonstop sick kids since then. One week is was upper respiratory infections that landed Theodore in the hospital for four days, then it was double ear infections for Otto, Knox and Teddy and then I got a message from my kids' preschool telling me that hand, foot and mouth disease was confirmed in the twins' classroom... And the following day I was called to come get them both from school as they had symptoms! When will it end?! All the sickness has gotten me feeling the winter blahs, and a bit "cabin feverish" because I've been constantly at home with sick children. I thought this would be the perfect time to focus on some activities that help me get out of "a funk" and share them with y'all, in case you're feeling the winter blues too. Here are some of my favorite mood boosters. *affiliate links used*

I keep an arsenal of books by my bed: my devotionals towards the back, and some titles I'm working on for my next list of books to read (plus essential oils - I have those stationed all over the house!)

- Curl up with a good book
I'm working on my next list of great books for y'all, but if you don't have anything you're loving right now, check out the list of entertaining books I made two years ago. All of them were great reads that went fast and didn't require a lot of "brain power" - not that they were juvenile or dumb, just that they're written clearly so you can follow along easily. I'm a big fan of books like that to read for about a half hour before bedtime. Gets the blue light of my phone or TV screen away from my eyes so that I sleep better, too. If you're interested in learning more about the devotionals I have pictured, I wrote a whole post on them/finding spirituality, which you can find here.

- Soak in a mineral bath
There's nothing better on a cold day than a hot bath! One of my non-negotiables when we remodeled our master bath was that I needed a soaking tub. Even in the hot summer months down here I'll usually take a few baths a month, and in the winter I take one or two a week. I like to add Epsom salts, a sprinkle of baking soda and a few drops of lavender essential oil to my baths. A great way to warm up and unwind!

- Go for a walk outside
After dropping off my kids at school recently, I drove by White Rock Lake in Dallas and thought, "I used to go here nearly every day, and I haven't been here in months! What's my deal? I need to get outside to exercise more!" I was reminded how much I loved walking by the lake and promptly put a "walk date" on my calendar (with four kids, nothing gets done if it isn't scheduled on my calendar!) Granted, if you're in Minneapolis or Chicago, this one could be tough. However, even in the deep darkness of winter I got outside daily when I lived up there. I had a dog who needed to get walked, so there wasn't a choice! Even when it was cold, it was great to get outside and get some fresh air. Now that I've been in the South for so long, I love that I can get outside year round - usually with minimal bundling up. Even if it's just a stroll around the block, the fresh air an exercise does a body wonders!

Our first time decorating for Valentine's Day. Otto and I are into it!

- Engage in a favorite or try a new hobby
One of my hobbies is seasonal decorating. Typically, it's just been Halloween and Christmas that get the glory, with a few decorations on our stroller for the 4th of July parade, and this wreath I made for patriotic holidays. Otto also shares my love for decorating, so this year we did our fireplace mantel in pink and red. I'll likely pick up a few Easter decorations too. It's cheesy, but it's a fun way to bring a smile to my kids' faces and we all had fun doing it. Maybe your hobby is cooking, so get out there and try some new recipes or buy a new kitchen gadget you've been eyeing. Plan your spring garden. Take up a sewing project. It's ok if you don't have time to finish it, the important part is that you're starting and that you're spending some time doing something that makes you happy. That right there is a mood booster.

- Diffuse happy oils
For me, citrus oils are so bright and cheery with their fresh scents. When it's too cold to open windows for fresh air, create your own with some aromatherapy! You could diffuse just a straight up citrus oil, like lemon, orange or grapefruit, or do one of these combos that I love:
If you're new to oils or don't have any in your home yet, I highly suggest trying out Revive. They're high quality and affordable - no need to spend $160 on a starter kit like you do with wholesale club oils! Buy what you want, when you want it. This diffuser is my all time favorite, although I also have Revive's diffuser and it's also excellent. New customers get 10% off with code Paige10, and shipping is always free to the US and Canada!

I have oil diffusers running constantly in my living room, dining room, bedrooms and at my desk. Aromatherapy FTW in winter (actually, year round...)

Dunno about you, but we're definitely feeling the winter blues over here! With all the colds we've had and a recent bout of cold weather, I'm feeling bound up and cagey. I'm longing for the days of spring and summer that we get to spend outside, gardening and splashing around in a pool. I know I'm not alone in these feelings! I hope some of my favorite mood boosters work for you too, and that we all get get through these final weeks (if you're in the South) or months (sorry Northerners) of winter with as much health and happiness as possible. 

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Managing Your Children's Internet Use

It's common for young children to own their own phones and tablets. Here's how to keep your kids protected in a digital age.

This post is sponsored by OurPact. All opinions are my own.

My two older children, Henry and Otto, both have their own tablets. I'm fairly strict about their use - definitely more so than my husband is! During the week, they can have them for about a half hour a day; on the weekends it's up to an hour, sometimes even a little more if it's a rainy day or the twins happen to be taking a longer than usual nap and I need them to sit quietly. At Henry's school, everyone has an iPad and there's a SmartBoard in each classroom, so technology is solidly integrated into their classrooms and education. But just because it's pervasive in our culture doesn't mean I want my children having free access to not only the content of the internet, but also unlimited screen time! It's very important they learn how to interact face to face, learn how to build "real life" relationships, practice imaginative play and get outside often. That's why I was thrilled to learn about OurPact, and download the app to help me manage my children's device usage.

OurPact is an app that works across iOS and Android devices. It was so easy to download and install on my kids' tablets! Then I have the app on my iPhone that enables me to set controls for each child. I can set parameters around how much time the device is used, what sites they go to, establish geo-fences and I get alerts sent to me on each child's use. What I thought was really cool was that I can do different uses for each child, as they both have a profile and I can set up a schedule that repeats itself week after week or I can go in and manually make changes or adjustments. So, I can set up M-F usage and different usage levels for the weekend, or if someone has had their tablet privileges taken away, I can go in and block them out for the day.

Yup, my kids aren't angels. They've both been in tablet time out before... In fact, many times!

This has come in enormously handy lately. Henry's new "thing" is to get a stool, climb up to where I keep the tablets and take off and hide in his bunk bed with his eyes glued to a screen without me noticing. He'll do this if I'm preoccupied with the twins or busy cooking dinner. Sometimes he'll get a solid 30 minutes of extra screen time before I think, "wait a minute, it's been too quiet! He's not playing with Otto... There would have been a fight by now! Dangit, he grabbed his iPad again!"

With this, I can set his usage limit. I'll get notifications if he exceeds it. I don't have to wonder if he's snuck off to his room to sneak some YouTube videos of kids opening toys up and reviewing them in a foreign language. Please tell me he's not the only child that loves watching that stuff? What is with that, anyway?! Why is that so fascinating? Otto seems to stick to English games and Frozen videos but Henry ventures out to some weird stuff. I digress... OurPact helps me keep him in check, even when I'm busy working myself, managing 15 month old twins, or fixing one of the seemingly 953 meals a day I make for all four of my children.

Here's an embarrassing admission: I'm not exactly tech savvy. It's actually a tad pathetic, considering I'm a blogger and run my own website. I've learned a lot along the way, but my brain just isn't wired for high-tech stuff. I regularly text friends/family or Google how to do even rudimentary things.  That's the good news - OurPact is SO easy to use! You can download it for iOS here or here for Android, and you get an email that walks you through how to put it on your child's device. Then from your phone, you set everything up and it's all cut and dry. Click here to make it a weekly schedule, set said schedule by doing this, click save. It's literally that simple and easy to use. And if you do have a question or get confused, they have customer support seven days a week to help you out. 

Every generation of parents have had, and will continue to have, their unique challenges. For me and other current parents, it's managing our children's technology use and their online consumption. OurPact helps us all out with a great, easy to use app that controls your child's usage and online whereabouts. It's easy for us to use, easy to set up a schedule and easy to set up a "one time use" website block or time limit. If you're a parent who's child has a tablet, download OurPact so that you feel better about your child's online presence and have control over their screen time.

Monday, February 3, 2020

UPDATE! Coming Back From A Fitness Break

It's been three months since I re-began my focus on fitness. Here's an update on progress and thoughts and feelings on re-focusing my efforts on fitness

Three months ago, I wrote this post where I declared my attention back on my fitness. I had taken a "break", more or less, from fitness classes. I was breastfeeding the twins for their first 14 months, but once I began weaning them (actually, they self-weaned - I wanted to nurse for 18 months but they both gave it up at the 14 month mark!) I had more time to focus on myself, because I wasn't constantly attached to an infant and I also wasn't worried about what working out would do to my supply. Thus began my reentry to the world of working out regularly and consistently. Here's a three month in check in, with some surprising results. Here's what it's like coming back from a fitness break, three months in.

I think the hardest transition in fitness is when you start to put ON weight, because you're transitioning fat to muscle. When I wasn't regularly working out, my muscles inevitably disappeared. Fat weighs less than muscle. So, when you begin to work out again to build up your muscles, you're likely going to see a weight INCREASE instead of a decrease, even if you're seeing inches fall of your waist, thighs, arms, etc - and even if your clothes are fitting better than they did before. 

One of the biggest internal struggles I faced was that I was doing this over the holidays... And I don't diet. So at a holiday party, you better believe I'm having that extra glass of wine, and if you've got a great cheese spread for an appetizer, I'm going to sample every piece of cheese possible. Oddly, I have zero sweet tooth, so I never had one Christmas cookie. But those parties were all well catered this year, and when I saw the cheesey glory, I dug right in! Because of that, I was suspicious that I wasn't just gaining muscle weight - I thought perhaps I was gaining real weight, too. Mostly because not only was I lifting weights again, I went from breastfeeding TWO babies to not breastfeeding at all, so I knew there was a calorie deficit that I enjoyed while breastfeeding that was no longer there.

After a bloated 6-8 weeks over the holidays, I can say that I'm honestly not sure what the culprit was (it was likely a little of both) but now, my weight is still up 5 or so pounds but my clothes are back to fitting great. In fact, they now fit better than they used to! When I was breastfeeding, I was thin but also had no SHAPE. Now, my butt fills my jeans out but I also don't have a "muffin top." My arms are far more toned and my abdominal muscles, despite suffering from Diastasis Recti, are starting to come back. I feel leaner, more toned and less "puffy" than I did over the holidays.

So outside of working out, what have I done?

Well, I did this juice cleanse back in the first week of January. I didn't lose weight from it, but I'll tell you - it was AMAZING. It helped me reset my physical body and reset my mind, it helped me de-bloat, and it enabled me to focus and reset my intention. As I said in that post, I plan on doing a 3 day juice cleanse every quarter to help my body detox and reset. Do I promote juice cleansing for weight loss? Absolutely not; it's not sustainable, just like a Keto/Adkins diet isn't sustainable. Eat everything in moderation, mostly veggies, and use small plates to limit portions. That's what will promote weight loss more than any juice cleanse or trick diet - that's what's sustainable!

Did I stick to at least three workouts a week? Yes I did! I love working out. It's not something I "have to do" but rather it's something I "get to do." Yoga, Pilates, and barre are my main workouts of choice. Adding in workouts wasn't an issue for me. I love working out and look forward to the days I make room for physical fitness.

Did I add veggies at every meal? Yes, I did this too! Even when my husband went to the donut shop with the kids on a Saturday morning, I added spinach to my breakfast sandwich. I don't like donuts (I know - I'm weird. I just don't like sugary things!) And instead of eating chips, which was actually necessary of me when breastfeeding twins to get enough calories, I switched back to my old standard of carrots and hummus as a "side" to my lunch sandwich. My go-to lunch sammy, btw, is whole wheat bread, half an avocado, a piece of organic cheese, tomato and spinach with a little spicy mustard on one side of the bread and mayo on the other.

Did I eat a protein bar for breakfast daily? Ughhhh, no. I didn't. I think it's finally time I just own up to the fact that I'm not a breakfast person, will never be a breakfast person, can't even stomach the thought of food before 11am and you know what? That's ok! That's just who I am. In the three months since I wrote my initial post, writing out my goals for a return to better fitness, I've had breakfast about four times. Four times in three months. That's it. Yeah, I'm just not a breakfast eater and it's time to accept it.

I feel like you can see improvement in my arm that's taking the photo and in my ab definition. It's a slight improvement, but it's there!

Did I consume less alcohol? Well... No. I didn't. It was a lofty goal to have during holiday party season, and I failed at it. Not only was it consumed at holiday parties, people gifted us wine, so hubby and I found ourselves opening bottles mid-week, which we rarely ever do. In fact, I probably drank more wine than normal during this period. I'm really looking forward to a non-holiday time over the next 6 months where I can reign my wine consumption back in. 

Looking forward to the next three months, what do I want to accomplish with my fitness/diet/lifestyle?

  • Make it to 3 fitness classes a week minimum; begin to shoot for 4 classes each week.
  • Meditate 3 mornings a week for at least 5 minutes
  • Consume alcohol three days a week or less
  • Read 4 nights a week as opposed to watching TV/movies
  • Spend an hour a day (or more!) outside - bike rides with the kids, gardening, walking to the park, etc.
  • Make 2 vegetarian suppers a week. I already eat them regularly for lunch, but I want to do more for family suppers.

Have you ever had to "get back into it" after taking a break from something? It's tough to get back into the groove! I've heard it takes 21 days to make something a habit. Fortunately I've managed to get back into going to fitness classes regularly, and hope to increase it to four times a week. It's adding the meditation (ahhhhh, does that mean I'll have to wake up earlier or carve out some other time in the day?!), ditching the TV (shouldn't be too hard as I'm not that big a fan of TV) and wine (which I am a huge fan of), and adding more vegetarian recipes that my whole family will eat that I'm ambivalent about. Ok 21 days, let's start now and create some new habits!

Thursday, January 30, 2020

3 Steps You Can Take TODAY To Live A Less Toxic Life

There's an overwhelming amount of information out there on living a"more natural" lifestyle that it's hard to sift though and comprehend it all. Here are 3 steps that have have a major impact on a healthier, less toxic life

There's so much information out there about what to eat, what to wear, what products to buy and not buy, how to compost, where to shop, and on and on that it's really easy to throw your hands up and just say, "forget it, I'm eating what I want and buying what's on sale at the cheapest or most convenient store!" Many times I'll see a friend post about new research on a food or a restaurant as a whole, and a common comment is, "Well, everything is going to give me cancer so I might as well enjoy life!" I get it. Starting on the journey of living a more natural, less toxic, more healthy and more connected/present/intentional life is daunting. Not only that, if you switch everything out at once, it's insanely expensive! I've broken down 3 steps you can take TODAY to live a less toxic life to enable making the change more manageable. *Affiliate links used*

1) Switch to a natural deodorant
Here's the thing about deodorant that makes it so important: you're applying them daily, you're applying them after you shave, and you're applying them directly over the lymph nodes near your breasts. So all the chemicals in traditional deodorants are going directly and immediately not just "to your system" but they're getting direct access to your lymph nodes. That's, ummmm, a HUGE problem. Breast cancer, fertility issues, autoimmune diseases, unexplained weight gain can all be attributed to using conventional deodorants daily.

Natural deodorants have a bad rep for not working. And here's what I've learned about them - you've got to find one that works for YOU. I've tried about 20 or so natural deodorants and have found two that work with my body's specific pH that don't cause irritation on my sensitive skin. Schmidt's Sensitive and Native work amazingly (even after several days of not showering!) but my skin would get an irritation rash from Native and I'd get ingrown hairs from Schmidt's. I now alternate between Pit Liquor and Nfuse Natural Deodorant and I also spray/roll them on when I wake up and before bed. Both of those brands have worked wonders for me, even in the Texas heat. I sweat, but I'm supposed to sweat, and it's not stinky. I've found that alternating them works best. Why? Dunno, I'm not a chemist, but I think it's akin to how when you switch up your shampoos, your hair is extra shiny and soft. I might be making that up, so don't quote me on it. If you're like me and can't use Schmidt's or Native, I'd highly suggest alternating those brands!

And, um, y'all this step is SO easy. Even my conservative, financial services working husband switched to Schmidt's and loves it. Fear not! The brands I linked WORK. 

2) Swap out your all-purpose cleaner
What you use to clean your counter tops and table tops matters because odds are, food touches it before it goes into your mouth. Would you swallow 409? Would you let your kids take a sip out of a Clorox bottle? No? Then why you're wiping your counter tops and tables down with it makes no sense either. I know I've prepared a sandwich for my kids directly on my counter before, or buttered toast, or set an apple there before it goes into one of my kids' mouths. They also have put food directly on the kitchen table before (Henry has a real thing with food touching and sometimes places his food on the table to be separate from other foods.) 

Now if you're trying to kill a stomach bug or the flu is running through your house, I get it - Lysol those door handles and light switches, and thoroughly wash your hands after! But your everyday cleaner that regularly gets minimally ingested because you're cleaning food prep/consumption areas? Switch it. I'm on the wait list for this product and will be stocking up as soon as it launches (and still have some Thieves cleaner remaining in the meantime). You can also mix up white vinegar, lemon essential oil and distilled water in a glass container and use that to wipe down your surfaces.
  • boost this step! Speaking of cleaners that you're exposed to nonstop, switch to an all natural, fragrance free laundry detergent (we use this brand but fragrance free and I could only find lavender online). The smell of "fresh clean clothes" isn't so fresh when you realize those are harmful chemicals touching your skin hour after hour, day after day. Don't even get me started on the dangers of "pod" type detergent. I have four kids age 5 and under, so I'm not remotely stupid enough to keep those in my home.
Want your laundry to still smell good even though you're using a fragrance free detergent? I use Purify essential oil on my workout clothes and lavender on my regular clothes. Add a few drops in the detergent dispenser and you've got great smelling clothes!

3) STOP eating fast food
Most fast food chains serve highly processed (read: chemically preserved and served in a state that's far removed from it's original source) foods. Aside from also being mostly fried, making them high in fat and calories, fast food is so chemical laden that it's not even real food any more. Food exists and should be consumed to NOURISH your body. It gives you vitamins, minerals, fats, proteins and carbohydrates to energize and sustain you. You don't need - and in fact your body doesn't even have the ability to process - all the preservatives and chemicals found in fast food. Be mindful of what you put on your body, but also be aware of what you put IN it!
  • boost this step! Avoiding fast food lines is a great first step, but you can take it to the next level by consuming organic, local and free range food options. Buy local crops via a harvest co-op (google that term plus your location to find one), find out which local restaurants serve organic options for when you're out and about and hungry and best case scenario, look into planting your own produce. I have a few posts on how we do that in our small, urban yard!

It is absolutely overwhelming to read all the information out there on "living naturally", what products are good, which are bad, what sources are legit and which are all hype or someone trying to sell you their product. It's been fun for me to watch living more naturally become a "movement" that has gained major traction in recent years, but I'm also aware that movements cause misinformation. It's much easier to break living a less toxic life down into several steps. Should you throw out all your makeup, buy a complete new cleaning set, new personal care products, change your eating, and medicine consuming habits? Yeah, if you can do all that, all the better! But change comes in steps, not just one massive overhaul. These are 3 steps you can take TODAY to live a less toxic life. They're easy to do and affordable. Jump start a healthier life by taking them today. If you've got these down, take the boosted steps I suggested. Cheers to a healthier 2020!

Monday, January 27, 2020

Planting An Indoor Herb Garden

Enjoy fresh herbs year round with your own herb garden! Here's how to plant one that works for you

Even though I live where it's *mostly* warm year round, some herbs are more delicate than others and require indoor growth. I have rosemary and sage outside, and despite any level my neglect, they don't die - even when we have a week straight of 25 degree days here, they pull through! Basil, parsley and any other "leafy" herb, on the other hand, dies both when we get our first frost and when we have nonstop 100+ degree days in July and August. The good news is that you don't need to grow these plants outdoors to be able to enjoy them. They easily grow in small pots that you can keep in your kitchen. If you've got a windowsill with decent light, no matter your location, you can grow your own fresh herbs to enjoy during the winter months. Here's how to plant an indoor herb garden.

First, you'll want to take stock of what you use the most. What flavors do you normally cook? What dried herbs are your go to? Dried herbs work well in some dishes, but when you start cooking regularly with fresh, you never want to go back! If you're questioning what you should plant, look up your top 5 or 10 favorite recipes and what those call for. That's a great place to start. If you just randomly plant some herbs, odds are good you won't use them, you'll forget to water them or they'll just start to over-grow the containers and become a general mess. Plant the herbs you'll actually use!

For me, I regularly use fresh basil and parsley (the basil goes amazingly in this bolognese sauce recipe and the fresh parsley is key for the sauce of this Greek chicken burger recipe - both are favorites in my house!). I also realized that I was buying a lot of green onions/scallions from the store, so I wanted to get some of those. They're great for pasta salads, green salads, quinoa dishes or anything where a raw onion would be too strong but you want a hint of fresh onion flavor. I also got some thyme. Usually, this stays well in my herb garden outside, but for whatever reason its completely died in my outdoor herb garden, so I'm bringing it indoors to keep a closer eye on it. Fresh thyme is SO much better than dried and it's pretty easy to grow. Once you try it fresh, you won't want to even look at dried again.

After selecting your herbs, you've got to buy them. Most nurseries, whether they be chains or independently owned, sell herbs year round. We have a local nursery that I prefer to shop at and they were fully stocked with just about everything, already sprouted and ready to plant. (That'd be Calloway's Nursery, if you're in Dallas and are wondering.) You'll need some small pots to plant them in. There's two lines of thought for indoor plants: 1) you want the pot to have holes in the bottom to let out excess water. If you get this type, make sure there's a plate of some sort under it so that you don't water your counter, windowsill, etc! The other line of thought is to get a tall, more slender pot and to ration the watering with a spray bottle. This way the plant is kept hydrated in a pot that's designed to keep any excess water away from it's roots. You keep a spray bottle near it, and spray it every so often - either at prescribed times during the day or more random, like every time you walk by. The benefit to this method is that the humidity is more like what it'd be like if it were growing outdoors or in a greenhouse. Winter air is especially dry, even more so if you live in a climate that requires heat to be on regularly. If you live where it's really cold, I'd suggest doing this!

I chose that method because my kids can help me more easily with a spray bottle. Also, for where I'm storing the herbs, a plate underneath to catch runoff water wasn't feasible. I say do what works for you, your space, your lifestyle and your climate.

While you're at the nursery, pick up some soil. You won't use the whole bag, but that's ok - you can store it in your garage, basement, balcony or elsewhere until you're ready to do more spring/outdoor planting. I'm not a fan of chemical fertilizer, and I don't want the manure smell in my home so I skipped that. If you keep a compost you could bring some in to add it to your plants. If you're not opposed to chemical fertilizers, you could get some Miracle Grow. I knew these plants would be a 2-3 month investment, so a fertilizer wouldn't be necessary anyway. Right as the organic soil I planted them in needed a boost, we'd transition to all outdoor plants again. Pro tip: potting plants is messy, so if you live where it's too cold to do it outside, lay a tarp/newspapers/a piece of plastic down or you'll be grinding dirt into your floors!

After they're planted, they're pretty easy to maintain. Just water once a day, or spray with a spray bottle a few times a day. Keep them where you have great natural light. Most kitchens have a window above their sink. Sadly, my kitchen is not one of those! I have three floor to ceiling windows in my actual kitchen, which is lovely - but the fact that they go to about 6" above the floor means that my 15 mo old twins can access them. I also have plantation shutters on them, so that makes setting plants in the windowsills difficult.

What I decided to do was a tad high maintenance (but I love to cook, so I was cool with it) I move the plants in at night, and put them in the sunlight in our outdoor courtyard during the day. It's actually not much trouble - my kids are in and out all day, our days are nice and warm, and even if I almost forget at night, my dog has to go out before bed and I usually notice them. Even if I don't, it's a rare day that it gets to freezing here so if I totally space on it, it's not catastrophic. But I'm in the deep South. If you're mid South, you'll want to make sure you bring your plants in at night! Or, hopefully you have a kitchen with a windowsill that has light and can hold your plants.

Like it? Pin it

Planting and growing your own herb garden is not only easy, it's fun! If you enjoy cooking with fresh herbs year 'round, it's definitely a great way to have access to them. Have you ever bought fresh herbs at the grocery store? Not only are they expensive, they're always wilted! And many times, the store won't have exactly what I'm looking for. Skip the middle man grocery store and grow your own! Adding some greenery to your home in the dead of winter is a fun way to spruce it up, too. 

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Currently, January Edition

What's going down around here, currently

When it rains, it pours right?! Always. I have a bunch of cool posts that are 90% finished, but if you follow me on the 'Gram, you know that Teddy was in the hospital for a weird virus that caused him to be unable to breathe. Check out this post for the details if you missed it. Of course, that happened over MLK day, so all the kids were out of school, and hubby and I had to divide and conquer to get everyone taken care of. Does anyone else's school have TWO days off for MLK? Because we do. That was rough, on many levels! Anywhoo, I've had exactly zero minutes to finish those awesome posts, so here I am, scrambling on a Wednesday to get one out. I thought it'd be appropriate for just a good ol' fashioned life update! Here's what's going on, currently:

Teddy's health status:
He was in super rough shape for 24 hrs but turned a massive corner after a full day and night in the hospital, with the highest level oxygen they'd give an infant outside of the ICU and hourly to every-other-hour breathing treatments. He was negative for flu, negative for RSV, and the virus that caused this remains unidentified. After nearly three days in the hospital, he was able to come home to us! I was so thankful that my husband brought him into the ER when he did... I'm anti-ER trips. Since we have a nebulizer, my stance was to give him breathing treatments hourly until his pedi opened up (they open at 7am, so it would have been about a three hour wait) but he insisted that he should go in. I rolled my eyes and said, "go for it then" and stayed home with our other three kids. He showed improvement from our nebulizer and his lips or fingers weren't turning blue, so I didn't think it was a *true* emergency. Welp, I was wrong and he was right.

Look at that teething slobber! Also, the twins' eye color is insane - they change from green to grey to gold to blue daily

I can't help but think about what would have happened if I'd have been home alone with all four kids and this would have happened... Would I have called 911? Would I have woken up all the other kids, put them in the car and exposed them to all the germs at the ER? No, I wouldn't have. I'd have used our nebulizer and waited until morning. So while all of this was inconvenient timing, I'm SO SO SO thankful it happened during the first week that my husband was actually home in January! With four kids, you've got to divide and conquer to get everyone taken care of. If I was solo, I'm not quite sure how I'd have divided myself. It was a true blessing that this happened when both mommy and daddy were home and able to care for everyone!

A final note about Teddy's hospitalization: I was absolutely FLOORED at the generosity of my Dallas friends. Nearly immediately, I had friends coming over to help me with Henry and Otto, bringing me meals and calling/texting/messaging me if there was anything they could do. Here's something valuable I learned - if a good friend of yours gets into a stressful situation (kid in the hospital, sudden or random divorce/separation, deceased parent or some other tragic event), claim your space. The best things that happened were friends who were like, "I'm coming to take your other kids on a play date, be there in an hour!" or "I'm stopping by with supper for tonight! Any requests or food allergies?" When people asked if they could do anything, I wasn't sure what to say. But when people simply told me what they were doing, I was SO relieved - it was one less thing I had to do. Be that friend. Don't ask - just start doing. And to all the followers who reached out or commented on my post, with positive thoughts or prayers, THANK YOU. Teddy showed no improvement until all those started to pile in. I read every one of them, even if I didn't respond (still trying to catch up!) but felt so loved and supported and lifted up in prayer from y'all. You're truly the best people on the planet. Thanks for making a personality you know on the internet feel loved!

He was 7 or 8 months old here. What a little pumpkin!

Ok, on to lighter and brighter things that are going on this month!

My new skincare routine:
I'm not big on telling people to buy things - there's definitely enough materialism in the world. A few months ago, I crowd-sourced what skincare systems people loved. I got AMAZING responses, all of the brands mentioned were brands I'd be interested in. I went with K'pure Naturals because I loved that there were minimal ingredients, that I could actually pronounce and were all natural (think coconut oil, vitamin E, etc) and it was a four step system, so it included a face wash, toner, serum and moisturizer. It's also cusomizable, so whatever your skin needs are - acne, anti-aging, combo skin) you can change the products to reflect your needs. At checkout, I realized another bonus! It's a small company based in Vancouver, so the prices listed are in Canadian dollars! Currently, if you're in the US, that's a benefit to you. My total price with shipping was $102 for the four step program. But because of the exchange rate, it was only $83 US dollars! That was an unexpected *bonus* 25ish% off. If you're on the hunt for a natural skincare line that is natural, that uses glass over plastic, that you can pronounce everything in it - this is your brand! I cannot speak highly enough of it.

I highly recommend using their skincare line with this rose quartz roller too - it helps the toner and serum set in and feels GREAT, not to mention promotes circulation and the cool stone helps de-puff your face/minimize eye bags. It's on sale for $16 (HALF OFF) and there's an Amazon 5% off coupon to apply too! Yay sales. Def worth the money!

My thoughts on cleanses:
If you checked out this post, you'll know that I did my first juice cleanse ever. Well, not only that, but my first cleanse ever! I generally don't believe in diet gimmicks, and I definitely don't think it's a means for weight loss, but holy heck did I feel and sleep better when I did it and after! In fact, I plan on doing this cleanse every quarter. Next one will be after my trip to New Mexico to visit Jaelan from Making Mrs M at the end of March (I cannot WAIT to see you, my love!)

The BEST diapers we've found:
With Henry and Otto, we only had about 12 months of crossover of two being in diapers, and they weren't the same size at the same time, so both got organic cotton, fragrance free diapers (we used this brand with Henry and this brand with Otto). Having twins is diapers is another story! It's expensive. You burn through your whole stash quickly. I've found that the Kirkland diapers, which are chemical softener and fragrance free, are about the best diapers we've ever used. In fact, I wish I'd have discovered them for the older two, because we used to spend $240/mo on diapers and now, even with twins in diapers, we spend $35. A MONTH. Because you get 180 diapers (full disclosure, that lasts us about weeks so not quite a month) but the cost savings and the quality are so amazing, I just had to share! We've been wholesale club members at several places for years, but just really started using our Costco membership. If you have a large family and like organic products, I highly recommend them, both the diapers and everything else Costco offers. I'm sure soon I'll transition most of my weekly grocery shopping there - especially when the kids hit puberty and REALLY start eating (we already go through several loaves of bread, several gallons of milk and about 40 eggs A WEEK. Good grief, I can't imagine what life will be like when they're teens - and then they bring their friends over! Sweet goodness, we'll have to take out a second mortgage on our home just to feed them!)

Great reads:
I'm currently reading The German Girl, and don't love it. It's very repetitive and a rather distressing story, although I'm only 50 pages in. I'm hoping I get more into the story and it becomes less of a buzzkill. Two reads that I really enjoyed, though, were In A Dark, Dark Wood and The Woman In The Window. In fact, I finished The Woman in the Window in about 3 days, which when you don't have lots of spare or leisurely time (hello, four children) is fairly impressive! Both are thrillers and both are page turners for sure. If you're looking for more great titles, check out this post I wrote and stay tuned; I'm going to do a short list of my most current favorite reads soon! I shared how watching less TV and being on my phone less were goals of mine for better mental health in 2020, and so far I'm sticking to it! I only watch Hometown (I love them as a couple, don't you?) and Vanderpump Rules, because I just can't quit my trashy TV. I'm also in awe that most of the cast is my age or even older (Jax is the same age as my husband! I mean, how do you still act like that?!)

That's what's going down around here lately. I'm feeling good about sticking to my 2020 goals, but - it is still January. I'm looking forward to a healthier February. I hope. And I really, really just want spring to get here. After Christmas I'm like oooookkkkkk we can return to warm weather and long, bright days please! I know I'm not the only one. I'll check y'all next week with all that great content I have lined up, including how to have an indoor herb garden in the winter, a fitness update and some thoughts I have on "gender inclusive" parenting. It's gonna be good!

Monday, January 20, 2020

The Value Of Saying Thank You and I'm Sorry

It's common courtesy to say thank you, and we all know we should apologize when we're wrong - but are you using these two phrases enough?

I'm going to get real with y'all - this post isn't exactly a friendly PSA. This post comes from a place of frustration. I've recently been reminded just how important saying "thank you" is, and it also reminded me that coming out and saying "I'm sorry" is just as important. We all have people who do kind things for us, be it as small as holding a door open or as large as donating a large sum of money to a cause or donating a large chunk of time to help them with a cause that's near and dear to their heart. Saying sorry is equally as important; you've got to admit when you made a mistake and tell the people affected that you know you made that mistake and are sorry for it. But it seems like in today's day and age, people are really reluctant to say either of these things. In fact, I'm currently upset with someone because she has consistently NOT said either to me. I'm going to write about it in hopes that it encourages you to say one or both to whomever might need to hear it from you.

Keeping the details to a minimum to protect identity, let me share what's driving me so batty about this whole "thank you" business, or rather - the lack thereof. There's a person who is in the position to need not just a whole bunch of *my* stuff, but very specifically, stuff I already own and no longer have a use for. Not heavily used, worn or things in a crummy condition. Things that would still be insanely expensive to buy secondhand. Things that I owned and were in like-new condition. It wasn't just one thing or a one time donation to this person - it was a trickle of things over several months. Multiple installments of a wide variety of things. And not once did I ever get a thank you. Not. Once.

At first I didn't notice it. I think because part of me was just kind of relieved to get some of this stuff out of my home, and I was happy to help out. But then something weird happened; this person straight up demanded that I give her some things I was still using, because their situation was changing faster than anticipated. That's when I noticed the rudeness. The entitlement. And most importantly, the outright lack of a single thank you. We're talking THOUSANDS of dollars of stuff, all given for free. And not one damned thank you!

One day, a mutual friend sent me a text and asked me what was going on with the whole thing, and it was reassuring to know that it wasn't all in my head. The behavior of the one party was out of line and tacky, and other people were noticing as much as I was. That conversation got me thinking beyond the value of a thank you, and onto the larger scale of saying "I'm sorry" too. Both are equally important, and both things should be said every day. Yes, every single day.

That stupid book, "Girl, Stop Apologizing"? Sure, you don't need to apologize for yourself or the space you take up, but you absolutely should apologize for your behavior. When you do wrong, you say "I'm sorry" as you admit to your mistakes and the people you wronged.

My marriage isn't perfect, but one thing we both do really well is apologize to each other. It might be right away, it might be later that same day or even the next morning, but I'd say both my husband and myself are excellent apologizers. And a simple "I'm sorry" goes a long, long way - in a marriage, with a family member, in a friendship and perhaps most importantly of all, to your children.

I know I don't parent perfectly. Sometimes I yell way too loud or way too hard. Sometimes my punishments are too harsh. Sometimes I over-react. And in those moments, or shortly after them, I make sure to apologize to my kids. Whatever I'm doing I will stop, kneel down to my kids' level, look them in the eye and tell them I'm sorry for what I did, that I made a mistake and that I love them. I don't even ask for their forgiveness, but guess what? Me compassionately saying I'm sorry nearly always solicits a "That's ok mommy, I forgive you and I love you too!" back from them. And then we all move on and get back to playing.

You know what else? My kids also know how to say thank you. Server brings them a meal? I help them get their shoes on? They get a gift? Yup, from small to big things in life, my kids know the value of saying thank you. And they're learning the value of a sincere apology.

I'm not sure when, where or why it seems like the social grace of saying thank you and I'm sorry fell off the cliff. I don't understand why it's a hard thing to say. Not only does it humble you, but when you humble yourself first, it makes people like you more, want to help/give you more and think more highly of you. There's a tremendous value in saying thank you and I'm sorry. Make it a point to say both of these things everyday and watch your relationships vastly improve. 

Thursday, January 16, 2020

The 10 Best Essential Oils For Under $10

High quality oils don't have to be expensive! These are the best Revive essential oils for under $10

The biggest myth I believed about essential oils for wayyyyy too long was that they had to be expensive to be great. The multi-level-marketing companies tell you that to justify the prices they charge you, but it's just that - a myth. When I found Revive essential oils, I found that quality (you can read all their GC/MS reports online, unlike Young Living or doTerra) with a price tag that didn't make me choke, balk or my husband roll his eyes. Yes, you can ingest them. Yes, they're legit. Yes, you'll save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars a year. If you've never tried oils, you're sick of the high MLM price tags or you're simply skeptical they work, I've crafted a list of the best essential oils for under $10, and provided ways on how to use them in your life everyday.


Tea Tree:
Easily, this is one of the oils I use the most. I use it on my face for breakouts, I use it to purify the air if there's a sickness in our home, I use it on cuts to keep infection at bay and I put it on the nozzle of my saline spray that I use up my nose every morning to help keep sinus infections away. Those are just a few of this oil's use - there are many more! I always have at least three bottles on hand, and actually have them stationed around my home for easy access. I use it that much!

This is the other contender for my most used oil. It's called the jack of all trades, because you can literally use lavender on or for just about anything! I use it on my skin to calm puffiness. I put several drops on my pillowcase at night to help me sleep better. I use it in my DIY bug spray that REALLY works, in my DIY acne face wash and in this allergy relief roller. It's amazing topically or in your diffuser. It blends extremely well with other oils for combined use or diffuser blends and it's gentle enough to use on a newborn. 

Another amazing, multi use oil (and definitely one that's in my top 5 most used - I always get the 30ml bottle and go through it within a month or two!) It's another one in my allergy relief roller. It's in my facial toner. It's notoriously exceptional at cleaning - add a few drops to hot water and vinegar and boom, you've got a great surface cleaner. I use it in my fridge freshener too. I diffuse it with Immunity Boost when I want to kill germs and bugs when all the kids have coughs and green snot pouring down their little faces. It's great for energy if you're dragging and when I was pregnant, I'd keep a bottle in my purse and smell it when bouts of nausea would hit. Something about the fresh, clean scent really helped lessen my prenatal nausea! A definite staple in any oil collection, and priced per ml's, one of the best deals too.

Lemon, Lavender and Immunity Boost are some of the oils I get the 30ml bottle of, because I use them so much

Sweet Orange:
This is one of my all time favorite smells! There's no way you can smell this oil and not be happy. It's an immediate mood booster. I love to use sweet orange and patchouli in my diffusers in the morning to set the tone for the day. It's also known to help whiten teeth, so if you add a drop to your toothpaste before brushing, it's a smile brightener. 

One of the best ways to use grapefruit is as a water flavor-er. Did I just make up a word? Probably! I like to add one to two drops to my water container. It freshens it up, and grapefruit is known for promoting weight loss/water balance in the body (ie - a de-bloater). Like most all citrus fruits, it's an excellent cleaner, and I used grapefruit in this DIY garbage disposal cleaner (ever have a stinky sink? Yeah, these are just what you need to clear that out!)

Now hear me out on this one, because I know this is an "acquired taste" oil. Well, not so much the taste, but the smell. When I started with oils, I hated this smell! I just thought, dirty hippy... Now I absolutely love it. It's a grounding oil, and pairs wonderfully with lavender and sweet orange in your diffuser. It's great for your skin, so paired with frankincense and lavender in your skincare routine is a great way to go. It's also a meditative oil, so if you're looking for calming, grounding and finding intention while you meditate, this is a great one for the price, as most other oils in that category go for $25-$80. Definitely the best grounding oil that's budget friendly.

This one goes on the top 5 list with lavender, tea tree,  and lemon (the 5th oil is Immunity Boost but that one is $14 so I can't put it on this list!) My favorite diffuser blend of ALL TIME is rosemary, peppermint and lemon. I diffuse that before we have people over and I'm regularly told my home smells like a spa. It's in my DIY bug spray. It works wonders applied at the temples and the nape of the neck for headache relief. If you have a stomach ache, add a drop to either hot tea or cold water and feel the relief. It's a wonderful oil for the summer months, as it's very cooling. Put a drop under your tongue for better smelling breath. Yup, this one is another staple in my home with all it's amazing uses.

This is the other affordable grounding oil. But the great new is that beyond grounding, it promotes hair growth. Just have a baby and are in that horrible postpartum hair fall out situation? Add some cedarwood to your shampoo. Want longer lashes? Add some cedarwood to your mascara. Hubby starting to go bald? Add some cedarwood to his hair routine. In fact, I have a whole post on hair care, so if you're looking for other hair-growth-promoting ideas, check it out! It's also a promoter of sleep. I have it on my nightstand and add a few drops to my pillowcase, along with lavender. Outside of hair growth and sleep, if sandalwood isn't in your budget, cedarwood is a great replacement that's budget friendly!

I got this oil in my Young Living starter kit, and didn't touch it for two years because I had no idea what to do with it, and it didn't smell good so I never added it to my diffuser. I learned via some oily mom groups that dilluting it (with coconut or a vegetable oil) and applying it to the gums of infants helps with teething. I later learned that it's like a "magnifier" for other oils, meaning if you use a drop of it with, say, lavender, it makes the effects of lavender stronger. If you want to super-charge your oils, add a drop or two of this with your desired oil.

Stuffy nose? Congestion in your chest? Simply want to bring in some "fresh air" to your home? This is a great oil for all of that! If you've ever walked around Northern California and smelled how refreshing that air is, you know the smell of eucalyptus. This oil works wonders for winter colds and congestion, and is a cooling oil so it's great in your diffuser in the summer. FYI - because I know someone will email me about this - this oil is NOT safe for cats, especially if your cat climbs on counters where diffusers are and drink the water/breathe the air directly coming out of it.  

Great quality essential oils DO NOT HAVE TO BE EXPENSIVE! There is absolutely no need to spend over $100 to get your oil collection started - or even maintained. All of these oils are staples in my collection and all are under $10, which means you could buy all 10 and not spend $100! Plus, Revive has free shipping. Don't like the oils? That's cool too, you can return them. If you've never tried oils or are skeptical about them, I highly suggest starting with a few of these inexpensive oils and simply play around with them - diffuse them or use them as suggested under each oil. Just switching out your scented candles for diffused oils will make a difference in your home.

Monday, January 13, 2020

I Tried A Juice Cleanse. Here's What Happened

Juice cleansing: what it does, who should do it and why it's NOT a diet or weight loss mechanism 

Last week, I did my very first juice cleanse. I read up a lot on "cleansing" before I did it. I think the most common misconception is that people do it for weight loss, or it's a "diet technique." I had absolutely no intentions of using a juice cleanse to lose weight. Rather, I had a very indulgent holiday season and was looking for a way to help my liver rid my body of excess toxins. Kind of like helping my body hit the reset button, if you will. So I tried a juice cleanse. Here's what happened, from what I thought, what I felt, how I altered it a little, and the end results.

Like I said, my goal was to help my liver detox my body. Over the holidays, I didn't hold back and consumed far too much wine, cheese and refined carbs. We attended a good number of holiday parties this year, and I went for it. At each party. See, while I was breastfeeding twins, my body could easily handle the additional calories because I was burning so much from just making milk for two tiny humans. But I fully weaned the twins in November, and since then my metabolism has slowed wayyyyy down... Which is fine, that's what it should do! But I continued to eat like a trucker. January first rolled around and I was just grossed out with myself! I felt sluggish, I was tired, and I knew I needed something to kick start a healthier lifestyle. My liver needed some help processing all the alcohol and refined foods I had consumed.

Dandelion root, milk thistle and turmeric are all herbs that help your liver do it's job, so when I was looking into what cleanse to do, I knew I wanted to find one that also had those ingredients in it. I found this cleanse from Amazon, and really liked how I could adapt it to me and my goals - I didn't have to commit to a long time period (some cleanses are five days long! No thanks) and I liked how there was a schedule to follow: every two hours, you were making a different juice. That way, you were well hydrated and changing up what flavor you were drinking to keep it interesting. It seemed like a great fit for me, so I went ahead and got the two day cleanse because I wasn't sure if I could handle three full days of juice.

Day one started, and I learned from the first juice packet to stir as you add it to the water! My first juice was rather clumpy. But it tasted fine, which was a relief. I had barely finished the 16oz when it was already time to mix up my second juice. This one had greens in it, and while I mixed it correctly to not have any clumps, it definitely wasn't my favorite flavor! After my third juice of the day, I noticed I was getting a nasty headache. This could be because I didn't have my morning coffee, but I looked at the sodium in the juice and realized perhaps I was diluting my electrolytes too much (there's hardly any sodium in the cleanse). I decided to have a cup of chicken stock to add some sodium back in. This was a great decision, because it changed up the flavor dynamic and my headache lessened. I had another cup of stock after my fourth juice, too.

The way this cleanse is set up, you have a juice at 7am, and continue every two hours until your last juice at 7pm. I actually never ended up having my 7pm juice because I didn't want to have to pee all night, so I ended my day with the 5pm juice. Then I hit the sheets early so that I wouldn't be tempted to snack! I was surprised that when I did wake up in the night (I'm a light sleeper and wake often) I wasn't hungry. My stomach wasn't growling and I didn't crave any food. That was a total shock!

I knew I could easily do one day of cleansing, but I figured the struggle would come on day two. Except... there wasn't a struggle. I found it entirely easy to keep on the two hour schedule. Just like on the first day, I added in two cups of chicken stock. It was definitely nice to add that in. Having a "savory flavor break" was much needed.

I decided not to work out while cleansing, because I didn't want to do anything that would make me hungry. What I did end up doing was a Hatha yoga class that was purely an hour of deep stretching. That felt amazing, and I'd highly recommend adding that to your cleansing regimen! I felt like the breathing and deep tissue stretch assisted my body in detoxing. And yup, I brought a juice with me to the class and sipped as I stretched.

So how was only consuming juice and chicken stock for two days? I'm surprised to say, but it was so much easier than I thought it'd be! I wasn't hungry as long as I kept on the two hour schedule the cleanse outlines. I still cooked dinner for my kids, but had my husband sit with them while they ate so that I wouldn't be tempted to eat off their plates. I didn't wake up hungry in the night, and my stomach never got upset. The actual physical aspect of only consuming juice for two days was a breeze! I thought for sure I'd want to eat, or crave a glass of wine (I did the cleanse over the weekend, when I typically have wine) but I didn't miss any of it. The only craving I had was for a morning cup of coffee.

What were the outcome(s) of the cleanse? One of the biggest things I noticed immediately was how my sleep was greatly improved. I suffer from chronic insomnia, and I had two nights of some of the best sleep I've gotten in years while doing this cleanse. I'm also currently suffering from hormonal acne from weaning the twins, and my skin started to clear up. When I woke up the morning after the first day, I was surprised how much clearer it looked, and by the second day, my skin looked great! I lost a pound and a half, which I'm sure was just water weight and is already back (I don't own a scale - I only weigh myself occasionally at my gym). I did notice that once I started eating again, it took very little to get me full. It's like this juice cleanse re-set my portion control, which is exactly what I needed to get me back on track now that I'm not burning so many calories breastfeeding.

Who should do a juice cleanse? I think if you're looking for a system reset like I was, it's a great thing to do! Maybe you just had a vacation and need to help your liver detox your body, or perhaps you want to get into eating healthier and/or smaller portions of food. Maybe you recently learned of a dairy or gluten intolerance and want to help your body rid itself of those substances. A juice cleanse is a great starting point for all of those scenarios.

Get the juice cleanse here (and be sure to check the box to apply the coupon, too!)

Who shouldn't do a juice cleanse? If you're only looking for weight loss, this isn't for you. Since it's a one, two or three day affair, if you want true weight loss, you've got to alter your entire diet and add in exercise. Will you lose weight with a cleanse? Probably, but it's not sustainable. Juice cleansing strictly for weight loss is a bad idea, in my opinion. There are far more effective and long lasting ways to lose weight. 

Would I do it again? ABSOLUTELY. In fact, I woke up on day three and wish I still had another day of cleansing left (weird, huh?) so I've already bought the three day for my next cleanse! I plan on doing this once a quarter, just to have a system reset. I slept so good and my skin looked great, so I think doing a cleanse four times a year is a great addition to living a healthier life, which was a goal of mine for 2020. If you're looking for a system reset, I'd highly recommend doing this cleanse - and yes, you CAN manage the full three days (but you'll also see benefits from the one or two day, too!)