Thursday, March 20, 2014

Whole30 Challenge: Half-Way There!

Yesterday was day 15 of my Whole30 Challenge. I was feeling pretty good about it all until around 10 or 11am. Then I got a terrible headache that lasted all day and most of the night. I have no idea what set it off (I don't think it was anything I ate). But I was pretty much miserable all day. Other than that though, I think things have been going pretty well.

Chris and I did make "dessert" the other night which consisted of a banana and one tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder mixed up in the food processor then chilled. It was delicious. Technically on the Whole30 you're not supposed to have "dessert" but I'm PMS-ing and wanted chocolate (really the first very strong craving that I've had so far). 

Again, I haven't noticed any drastic changes, but I'm optimistic (maybe that's the drastic change!). I have noticed that I'm starting to sleep better and I seem to have more energy in the mornings and throughout the day. Still not quite enough when combined with cooking at night but I think I will get there eventually. 

I haven't noticed a significant change in my asthma or allergies. I'm still taking my allergy medicine almost daily. That's kind of disappointing, but I'm still holding out hope that it will get better toward the end. 

Aside from all that, I really do feel pretty good overall. I've enjoyed almost all the foods/meals I've been eating (some weren't great, but could probably be improved with some more seasoning). If this continues to go well (or if I feel like the extra time might help improve my allergies and asthma) I might stretch it out to the end of Lent. Maybe even beyond that. 

I know I definitely don't want to go back to eating all the fast food and junk I was eating before. And I do want to experiment with certain foods when this is over to find out what I'm truly sensitive to so I know what I should avoid on a daily basis and what might be ok for me to have daily or just occasionally. (I'm really hoping I can have cheese and Greek yogurt again!)

We made beef stew the other night with carrots and sweet potatoes. I've never been a big fan of stew, but this one was pretty good!

I am starting to get slightly bored with what we've been eating lately, even though we've only repeated a couple meals so far. I'm getting extremely bored with my standard breakfast of a hard-boiled egg and a banana. I found a recipe for an egg, sausage and sweet potato casserole that sounds amazing, so I think I'll try making that soon so I can have the leftovers for breakfast. 

Chris will be out of town most of next week for work (lucky duck gets to go to California). And while I'm slightly upset that he gets to go enjoy nice weather and I'm stuck here taking care of the pets and whatnot (and of course, I'll miss him), I'm trying to look on the bright side of things: I get to make whatever I want and buy whatever groceries I want because he won't be here! :p I'll probably be eating a lot of variations on eggs...those are the easiest things for me to make when it's just me. 

In other news, Chris and I went to our first Blues game together Monday night for St. Patrick's Day! 

The first two periods were pretty slow, but the third period was awesome. It turned out to be a really great game and we had a good time! :)

It's almost the weekend! Who's excited?! My sister is celebrating her birthday this weekend--complete with lots of food and alcohol that I can't have! It should be fun though. 

Have a great one! 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Whole30 Challenge: Week 1 Complete

Week 1 is in the books!

It has not been quite as difficult as I expected. I don't feel deprived or starved. Everything we have eaten has been surprisingly delicious (even the stuff we thought we wouldn't like!). I eat until I'm full. And although I always knew that I got "hungry"/ate when I was bored, I now understand that it's really just boredom and I'm not truly hungry.

I think the biggest obstacle of this challenge (for me anyway) is just getting used to cooking almost every single night. We generally planned our meals in advance before starting this challenge, so it wasn't a problem to do that again. Adjusting to cooking every single night has been tough though. I don't enjoy cooking (although I am quite proud of the things I've made recently) and having a tiny kitchen with zero counter space doesn't really help that.

I haven't noticed any significant changes yet. I have gotten myself down to taking my allergy medicine about once every other day instead of every day. Unfortunately, I feel like I still need my inhaler quite a bit. I think my asthma and allergies (at least the past few days) is probably more caused by the weather changes than anything I'm eating though. On the day it got up to almost 80, Chris was off work, so he moved some furniture around and painted our bedroom (sorry, no pics yet). I think the combination of having the windows open, the ceiling fan on, and all the dust that got stirred up is what's really been causing me problems.

I do think I'm sleeping a little better. I've only had one night where I didn't get much sleep. Other than that, I've been getting close to 8 hours and sleeping almost the whole night. I have been having some crazy dreams lately though, so I'm not sure what that's about.

I haven't been working out, which sucks. But, for the past week or so, I haven't really had the energy or time for it. I'm planning on getting at least two or three meals made on Sunday so that I've got two or three days that I can go for a run or work out after work rather than coming straight home and starting to cook almost immediately. My legs have been killing me lately and I think it's just from sitting so much. I need to get active again.

So far, I'm enjoying the Whole30 challenge. Like I said, I don't feel starved or deprived. Sure, I occasionally wish I could have regular food, but the meals I've been eating for the past week have been pretty delicious. Chris and my family have been very accommodating. We had dinner with my parents on Sunday night and they altered a few things so that I'd have something to eat. And it was delicious! We had ribs, roasted broccoli and asparagus, and spicy sweet potatoes (which everyone liked, but thought were maybe a little too spicy).

A couple nights this week as a "treat" I made myself and Chris some frozen banana "ice cream." All it is is frozen bananas chopped up and tossed in the food processor (Chris put some chocolate syrup on his). No, it doesn't taste exactly like ice cream. But it is pretty darn good.

The other night we had Zucchini Soup. We were both pretty skeptical about it, but it turned out to be delicious! You can find the recipe here:

Sorry my posts lately have been kind of sporadic. Like I said, it's been hard trying to adjust to cooking every night on top of work and my part time job. Hopefully with enough meal prep this Sunday, I'll have a little more time next week!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Whole30 Challenge: Days 1 & 2 + A Couple Recipes

So as of this writing, I'm on my second day of this challenge and pretty much feel normal. I did break out in hives (not sure if it can really be called that, but I'm going with it) again today and since I had the same thing for breakfast today as I did yesterday and the same thing for lunch as I had for dinner last night, I'm thinking it's not the food. At least not food I've eaten recently. I have no idea how long food can affect you (it could be from something non-Whole30 I ate Tuesday night). But I took some allergy medicine anyway because I don't want to lose sleep constantly itching all over.

Other than that, this has been good so far. I sort of started this on Monday night with an incredibly delicious dinner I made. I made roasted chicken thighs, roasted spicy sweet potatoes, and green beans. Chris had seconds so it must have been good!

Seriously, delicious. I've never loved green beans and sweet
potatoes so much in my life. 

I've never actually liked sweet potatoes (and Chris said neither did he), and I've never been a big fan of green beans (especially frozen or canned). So this dinner was a whole lot of experimentation to see what we'd like. Surprisingly, we liked it all.

I've already been asked for the recipes for the spicy sweet potatoes and the green beans. If you want to read the official recipes and instructions, you can click on those links. Here are my versions: 

Roasted Spicy Sweet Potatoes
2 medium-sized potatoes (mine were slightly larger, and by that I mean they were huge)
2 1/2 tbsp. olive oil (light-tasting, not EVOO)
2 tsp. coarse salt
2 tsp. black pepper
1-2 tsp. cayenne pepper (I did about 1 1/2 tsp. and they were definitely spicy)

Preheat oven to 375
Wash and cut your potatoes into even pieces (mine weren't even--oh well)
Put the cut pieces into a big bowl
Drizzle the olive oil over the potatoes and then add your other ingredients. Stir to coat (add more olive oil if they aren't getting coated)
Place potatoes on greased baking sheet
Bake for about 40 minutes, flip with a spatula after 20-30 minutes (we sort of flipped these the best we could and I can't remember exactly how long they were in the oven for)
When done, the edges should be golden-brown and should be crispy with a soft, buttery interior

Sautéed Green Beans
1 tbsp. butter softened (I used clarified butter)
1 tbsp. garlic ( I used garlic powder I think)
1 tsp. thyme (I used ground thyme)
1 tsp. olive oil
Salt/black pepper to taste
1/4 cup water
Fresh lemon juice (I used about half a lemon)

Combine the butter, garlic, and thyme in a small bowl and set aside
Heat the olive oil
Add the beans and salt and pepper
Cook/stir for 4-8 minutes or until the beans are spotty-brown
Add 1/4 cup water, cover and cook for 2 minutes
Remove the lid and cook until the water has evaporated
Stir in the herb butter and cook 1-3 minutes longer
Toss with lemon juice

I think that was by far the best meal we ate all week (minus the one on Tuesday at my parents' house--that was amazing, but not Whole30). We've also had chili which was ok, but not the best. I think if we want chili in the future we will just modify our regular chili recipe (no beans allowed). 

It has been a challenge trying to balance working again, plus writing for Community News (if you click that link you can read my latest cover stories--yes, there's two!), and cooking. I've been really tired the past few days, but I'm hoping my change in diet helps improve my energy levels soon. 

I know it's only day 2, but have I convinced anyone to give this a try yet? :) If you're thinking about doing a Whole30 Challenge or if you've done one in the past, tell me about it! 

And don't forget to read the book--it really changes how you look at food!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Preparing for the Whole30 Challenge

I spent the weekend preparing for my Whole30 challenge which will officially begin Wednesday (for Lent). But most of my meals prior to that will be Whole30 just because I didn't want to buy a couple days worth of regular food plus all the food for the Whole30.

My preparation started on Saturday with a long day of grocery shopping. I already hate shopping, so having an extra long list of lots of specialty items I needed to find was frustrating. On top of that, everywhere was packed because of the "Big Storm" that was coming Saturday night/Sunday. I hated every second of that shopping trip. But after going to two separate stores, I managed to get all but two or three items on my list, so I decided that was a win.

I decided if I'm really going to commit to this, I need to keep track of everything so I can measure my results. (Whole30 rules dictate that you cannot weigh yourself during the challenge.) So I weighed myself, and although it's definitely not where I want to be, it's not as bad as I thought it would be either. And I'm going to show you a picture of it, just to make sure I'm really, super committed. I'm not making a weight loss goal, but I would like to lose weight. I know that it's not all about the number on the scale, and I want to focus more on how I feel throughout this process and see improvements in my overall health, but I'd like to see the number on the scale go down too. So, here it is:

151.5. Yikes. 

Again, I'm doing my best not to focus on the number and I want to focus on other things like if my allergies and asthma improve during this challenge and what my energy levels are like. I also took measurements so I can see how many inches I lose. And, I took some "before" photos, which I absolutely hate and I don't think I'm quite ready to share them. I'm hoping I'll see some good changes after this challenge is over and I can share my before and after photos at the same time (and I'll feel good enough about my after pics that I won't mind sharing the before pics).

Since I'm doing this Whole30 Challenge for Lent, it will be more like a Whole40. If it is extremely difficult and I don't think I can stick with it beyond the 30 days, I'm not going to push myself too much. I just want to make sure I hit the 30 day mark. I'd like to do it for the full 40 days of Lent though (and obviously carry some of these new healthy-eating habits on beyond that). 

I'm hoping I'll be able to start working out/running more regularly, but so far the weather is not cooperating (I don't mind running when it's cold, but when it's 3 degrees? No thanks). Plus, I started that temp job last week and I'm working 8am-4:30pm there, so I'm trying to figure out a balance between that, fitting in exercise, being home for Copper, cooking every night (yeah, this Whole 30 Challenge pretty much requires cooking every.single.night), and writing for the Community News. I'm sure once the weather warms up I'll be more inclined to find ways to fit exercise in my schedule. 

After I finished all my shopping on Saturday, I cleaned out our pantry and fridge and got rid of all the foods I can't have during this challenge.

Almost two full boxes worth! Our pantry is so much more
organized now though ;)

I probably should have taken a pic of all the food I bought too, but I was so happy to be done with my shopping that I put it all away and forgot about it for a while :)

On Sunday I did a little food prep. And by that, I mean I cut up some veggies. I didn't actually cook anything ahead of time. I might give that a try next week after seeing how the cooking for this week goes. A few of the things we're having this week are: 

Roasted chicken thighs with roasted sweet potatoes and a veggie
Italian Pork Roast
Zucchini Ginger Soup

I'm most excited about the chicken and the chili. 

I plan on keeping a daily journal throughout this challenge so I can keep track of what I'm eating, how I'm feeling, sleeping, how bad my allergies and asthma are, etc. I've never been great at keeping a daily journal, so that will be a challenge as well, but I'm going to do my best! 

Day 1 is tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

My Big Wake Up Call

First and foremost, if you haven't started reading It Starts With Food, I highly recommend it.

Second, this post might be a little (a lot) all over the place. Sorry about that.

I finally was able to get my car washed last week. It is shiny and beautiful! And on top of that, I got four shiny new hubcaps (I was down to just one). My car looks almost as amazing as it did the day I got it.

On Thursday I got a call about a temp job, did a phone interview, and then got a call later that day that I got the job, so that started yesterday. I wasn't super excited about it, but it was nice to get out of the house, and everyone was actually really nice.

Here's where the first of two (because I'm an idiot) wake up calls comes in:

Friday night we went to the fish fry with my family at the Knights of Columbus Hall. We had several beers and, of course, fish. (I should say that I had eaten extremely healthy the whole day, so I wasn't feeling too bad about indulging in some fried fish. Also, I should say that I had run out of my allergy medicine earlier in the week and since I wasn't feeling too bad, I didn't bother to buy more.) I got two pieces of fish, some fries, and some macaroni and cheese. Not. Healthy. But, like I said, I had eaten extremely healthy all day, so I figured a little unhealthy food wouldn't hurt.

Now, in the book It Starts With Food, they explain how certain foods are related to allergies, how some cause allergies, etc. A big reason I want to try a Whole30 is to see if I can improve my allergies and asthma and perhaps stop taking my allergy medicine and/or inhaler all together.

I realized later that night just how much (bad) food can affect my allergies. I began itching all over. My face, neck, arms, legs, hands, feet, etc. It was miserable and I couldn't sleep. Around 5am on Saturday I remembered I may have an extra allergy pill stashed in my purse. Thankfully, I did. I took it, and was able to get some sleep (that is, until Copper woke me up a couple hours later).

I had some broccoli mixed with yogurt and a little parmesan cheese for lunch and that evening we went to dinner with Chris's parents at The Fountain on Locust. It was packed, but I think it was worth the wait. I had a thin mint ice cream martini, which was delicious, and then I ordered a salad with grilled chicken (after the previous night, I didn't want to risk eating anything too unhealthy).

After dinner Chris's mom and I went to the Fox to see Jersey Boys and it was really good! And while we were there, Chris and his dad were busy at the casino not winning any money :p

Sunday was my cousin's baptism so we had to go to noon mass then stay for the baptism afterward. Thankfully, she was totally cool about all of it and never cried. And while we were there, my aunt and uncle renewed their vows. It was really sweet.

Later that night, since we forgot to buy something for dinner at the grocery store, we got Steak 'n Shake--cue second wake up call. The horrible itchiness came right back. I was miserable and didn't get much sleep (go figure, since I started my temp job the next morning).

I've pretty much been miserable since then. I don't want to go buy more allergy medicine and even though I haven't officially started the Whole30, I want to see if certain foods I eat this week might change it. And as miserable as I am, I want to see how long it takes for this to go away.

My plan is to start the Whole30 challenge next week for lent and Chris said he's going to do it with me! Well, he's going to sort of do it with me. Since St. Patrick's Day is during lent as well as a party for his company, he said he's going to drink and pretty much eat whatever he wants. And that's okay. Hopefully he'll still see some decent results from it (and hopefully I see amazing results) and we can stick with it even after lent is over.

Although I do hope to lose some weight and that my clothes will fit better, I'm much more concerned about how it will make me feel in other areas, like with my allergies and asthma. I think if I can get those under control--without medicine--that will be enough motivation to keep up with eating healthy long-term.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

V-Day Recap

How was everyone's Valentine's Day/weekend?

Mine was pretty great :)

I've never been all that into Valentine's Day, but when Chris and I were first dating, he really wanted to celebrate. So we compromised--we got each other gifts, but instead of going out, we stayed home, ordered a pizza, and watched a funny movie. And it's been our tradition ever since.

So this year, I got him some new pants from AE that he's been bugging me about since Christmas and he got me a gift certificate to get a manicure and pedicure. Then we ordered Domino's, pigged out on that, and watched Sex Drive. After that we met my cousins at a local bar for a few beers.

Saturday my sister went with me to get our nails done. It's been so, so long since I had my nails done. The guy who did them asked if this was my first time--yikes! But they turned out fabulous and it was so relaxing :)

I think the color goes nicely with my ring ;)

We did some shopping and then I went to church. We went out to Fast Eddie's that night and that was probably a mistake. It was so crowded! But we were able to share a table with some friendly strangers just before we got our food, and the food was delicious as always!

Sunday morning we had breakfast with my family, did our grocery shopping and then had dinner with Chris's parents. 

It was a pretty great weekend. 

Today hasn't been too bad either. I've had two healthy meals so far today and I feel great. Tomorrow I plan on going for a run (which will probably be more of a walk, but I'm gonna try) since it's going to be so warm! 

I've been reading It Starts With Food:Discover the Whole 30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways. I'm not finished with it (I'm not even half-way through with it), but it's already changing how I look at food. And while I'm not sure I'm ready to do a Whole 30 Challenge, I may be by the time I finish reading the book. My current issue with it is the cost. They want you to buy organic foods (mostly) and definitely organic meats, and that stuff is expensive. I'm just not sure I can spend that kind of money right now since I'm unemployed. Plus, if Chris isn't willing to do it with me, then we're buying food to make us each our own separate meals every night of the week and that will drive up the cost too. 

Either way, I'm really enjoying the book, and what it says makes a lot of sense. So even if I choose not to do the Whole 30 Challenge in the near future (or at all), the book has made me much more aware of what I'm eating and I'm really starting to pay attention to how the foods I eat make me feel.

Have any of you heard of/thought about doing/or done a Whole 30 Challenge? If so, let me know what you think about it! I definitely recommend reading the book if you're ready to change your relationship with food!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Heartbreaking, Soul-Crushing Job Search

It feels like the longer I'm unemployed and looking for a job, the more discouraged I get.

Almost two weeks ago I took an editing test for a job I applied for. The job sounded great, the company sounded great. So when I got an email saying that they'd like me to come in for an interview, I was extremely excited. My interview was Monday. I was nervous, but feeling pretty confident. During my interview, I was told that I was the only applicant to get a perfect score on the editing test.

I was ecstatic to find that out. It definitely boosted my confidence through the rest of the interview, which I thought went really, really well. I honestly thought it was the best interview I had ever done. I was confident I would get a call asking me to come in for a second interview and/or a job offer. I felt like I really got along well with my interviewers and one of them remarked several times that they felt I was very qualified for the job.

So when I got an email this morning, I held my breath, hoping and praying that it would be to ask me to come in for that second interview. Instead, it said that it was determined that my skills and experience were not a sufficient match for the position.

Needless to say, I'm heartbroken. And angry. I'm mad that I worked so hard and didn't get the job. I'm mad that getting a perfect score on an editing test and several years of editing experience wasn't enough. I'm mad that I let myself get so confident and excited about this job.

I have been busting my butt since October applying for jobs. All I have to show for it is a part-time writing job and a whole lot of rejection. It is frustrating and exhausting. It's really difficult to get out of bed every morning with nowhere to go and force myself to sit at my computer and search for jobs for a few hours every day. Almost every day of the week I comb through job after job after job trying to find something that I'm qualified for.

This whole process is discouraging, depressing, infuriating, exhausting, and many other things. I don't want to have to start looking for jobs in retail just to have a job. I don't want to get stuck in a job I don't like because I couldn't find anything else. I want the dream job. Or at least a job that's a stepping-stone to the dream job. I don't want to have to settle.

It's so hard to keep going with this job search when I get rejected almost daily. It's incredibly hard not to snap at people who say "you'll find something," "keep your head up," etc. Those things are not comforting to hear. Especially after I've been hearing them for months now. It's hard to pretend that everything is okay and I'm not constantly worried about money. It's hard to keep going with this job search every day.

It's hard, it's frustrating, heartbreaking, soul-crushing.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Not Feeling Much Like Myself

My mom has been bugging me for a new post :p

Despite my best intentions, I have not gone for a run, I haven't even worked out at home, and I'm still eating a lot of junk.

A big part of the problem is the weather. It's just too cold to get out there and do anything. I have running clothes for the winter, but nothing warm enough for how cold it's been the past several weeks. And the few days where it's been decently warm I just haven't had the time or energy to go.

Another problem is my unemployment. I'd love to have a gym membership (which would give me a place to workout when the weather is crappy), but until I have a job, we can't afford it. And being unemployed gets depressing. Really depressing. I'm pretty much stuck at home all day every day, which I really hate. It's boring and my pets are driving me nuts. I try to spend as much of my day searching and applying for jobs and writing, but some days I don't have the drive or the energy. Other days there just aren't any jobs worth applying for and I don't have an upcoming deadline (although that has changed now that I'm doing weekly stories).

Looking for jobs and stressing about not having a job is exhausting. On top of that, since I'm the one at home, I'm doing most of the laundry, dishes, cleaning, and cooking. Not fun.

I just haven't felt like myself in a really long time. It's been almost a month since my job and my four-hour commute ended but I'm still exhausted. And yet there are nights where I just can't sleep. And although I hate being stuck at home all day every day, I also hate going out. I love my family, but it gets exhausting for me to be around so many people after just a couple hours. Everyone is talking at once and loudly trying to talk over one another and it just makes me tired.

I've been really irritable and moody lately, usually for no real reason. I'm just exhausted by everything lately and I'd really like to change that, but I don't know how. You'd think that while I'm not working I'd be getting a lot of rest and I've got tons of time to work out and make healthy meals but none of that is happening. I'm too tired to work out and cook, but I'm not getting much rest because I'm working part-time and looking for jobs as much as possible and stressing about not having a job.

I'm trying to stay positive. I had an interview with a staffing company recently and will hopefully have an interview with a different company in the next week or so (I passed their editing test so they just have to schedule my interview). And I'm hoping that once I do have a full-time job again--one that doesn't include a four-hour commute--I'll be a lot less stressed and maybe things will get back to normal...whatever that is.

On the plus-side, I have been making time to read more which has been really nice. I finally finished The Hangman's Daughter which was really good, but long. Or maybe it just seemed really long because it took me months to finish it.

  I also read Girl, Interrupted. I had seen the movie before and really liked it. The book was excellent.

I'm now reading Slaughterhouse Five. And I'm on the waiting list for several books from the library.

I've also decided I really want to learn to crochet or knit. Problem with that is I'd have to buy the stuff to do it. So if any of you would like to donate some crocheting or knitting supplies so I have stuff to do when I'm not applying for jobs and writing, I'd really, really appreciate it! Oh and I have no idea how to crochet or knit, so if anyone wants to teach me, that'd be great too :)

And finally: I let my sister cut my hair!

And I've got a new cover story in the North County Community News about the Myers house in Florissant. You can read it here:

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

I Made Soap!

Sort of.

In my last post I talked about how I wanted to eliminate more chemicals from our lives. My starting point was switching our hand soap. The chemicals in the soap we were using made my hands so dry and chapped it was painful and no amount of lotion, oil, etc. helped.

So I searched around on Pinterest and found several different ways to make hand soap. The simplest one I found was to use Dr. Bronner's soap.

I bought the 18-in-1 Hemp Peppermint at Target.

I dumped the rest of our Bath & Body Works soap down the sink and rinsed the bottle/dispenser out really well. I had to "pump" it several times to make sure all the old soap was out of it. It's a foaming dispenser which seems to be what works best according to Pinterest. 

All I did was fill the bottle about 1/4 with the Peppermint soap (which is organic), then filled the rest with water (not all the way to the top or it will make a mess when you screw the dispenser back on). You can also add some essential oils like tea tree, which is an antibacterial oil, or some other oil. I didn't have any essential oils, so I just used the soap and water (the soap does have a lot of oils in it). Then I gently shook the bottle to mix the soap and water. 

Voila! Organic hand soap that won't destroy your

I have loved it so far. Chris seems indifferent to it. He liked the way the Bath & Body Works soap smelled (vanilla) and apparently wasn't having as many problems with dry hands as I was. But he's tolerating it for me :)

If you're having issues with dry skin like I was or just want to rid your household of harsh chemicals, I highly recommend using this method. My hands haven't transformed overnight. I wash my hands a lot throughout the day, so by the time I was able to make this soap, my hands were in really bad shape. But there has been a noticeable difference, and I think with some more coconut oil at night, my hands will be in much better shape!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Trying to be Chemical Free

I have officially applied for 50 jobs since the end of October 2013. Of those, I've received 10 rejection emails. So most are either still considering me (I can hope) or they've rejected me without bothering to notify me.

Luckily I found my part time writing position. It doesn't pay much, but it at least gives me a little something to do each day, and it's writing. That's very important to me. It's almost like being in school again. I get an assignment. I procrastinate. I write it. I turn it in. The only difference is, I get paid for these.

Aside from not having a full-time job, life is pretty good. Except for that whole being home all day, every day thing. That's not so fun for me. I'm getting bored. I can only search for and apply for so many jobs in one day.

I love her to pieces, but I am really not enjoying
being a stay at home dog-mom!

So I'm looking for other things to occupy my time. I should be exercising, but thanks to the foot of snow outside covering most sidewalks, I think I'll wait until it starts to melt. I've been spending a lot more time on Pinterest. Looking at wedding stuff, food stuff, workout stuff, etc. etc. As you may know, I'm working harder to eliminate chemicals from my life (and Chris's and our fur-babies).

It's adorable how much she loves the snow.

We've already switched from traditional body washes and facial cleansers to Herbaria, handmade, natural soaps. We love them! It's been fun trying different bars of soap. We finally went into the store the day before Thanksgiving and again the Friday after Christmas. It smells lovely. And it's on the Hill. I love that place. In addition to their bars of soap, I've switched from regular deodorant to a natural spray deodorant they have. I think I'd like to try making my own deodorant in the future as well. (In case you're wondering, regular deodorants contain lots of chemicals, plus most contain aluminum which has been linked as a cause of breast cancer--no thank you!). It is way different from using regular deodorant (which is why I think I want to try to make my own), and it doesn't work as an antiperspirant (that's what aluminum does), but sweating is good for you!

Herbaria also makes a soap for dogs! We plan
to use it on her just as soon as it's warm enough!

We've also switched to laundry detergents that are of the "free and clear" varieties. Currently we're using Arm & Hammer. Eventually I'd like to try making my own of this as well and see how it turns out.

The first thing I plan to "diy" is hand soap. It won't be hand-made or anything, but it will be organic which means no cancer-causing chemicals or anything else bad that painfully dries my hands out. (We're currently using soap from Bath & Body Works which does contain cancer-causing chemicals and is the reason this is the first thing I'm making!)

The Bath & Body hand soap has made my hands so dry that they hurt and are about to start cracking. No amount of lotion or coconut oil (from Herbaria and usually works great) has helped. So I'm heading to the store later today to get some organic castile soap and I'll add some essential oils and our hands will be so much better off!

I'm also looking for an organic shampoo (one that's not super expensive!). I've just been using a "shampoo bar" from Herbaria and while it does the job, my hair still feels dry and looks dull. I've found a couple options I plan to try so I'll let you know how that goes!

It is really difficult to find organic stuff, especially things like shampoos. And many claim to be organic when they're really not. Read labels/ingredients on everything is what I've learned in researching this stuff. You can't trust something that says it's all-natural or organic to really be those things. It's very frustrating.

Anyone else trying to eliminate all these chemicals from their lives? I'd love to hear any tips, products you use/love, and anything you've diy'ed!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

2014 Goals

In case you're wondering how I did with my 2013 goals, well I failed miserably with almost every single one of them. It was kind of depressing to look back at those and realize I had attempted a few of them and failed, and others I apparently immediately forgot about.

2014 isn't off to a great start either. I think my biggest goal is to get healthy. And the junk I've been eating lately isn't going to get me anywhere near that. Chris and I have both been feeling like crap lately and the crap we've been eating is probably at least 95% of the reason why. (The other 5%, at least in my case, is allergies/asthma.) And I'm tired of feeling like crap. The best way to change that is to change my eating habits.

Which is where this gets really tough. I don't care what people is expensive to eat healthy, especially when you're unemployed. Then there's also the problem of getting Chris on board. He pretty much hated when I tried going gluten-free last year, although he was nice and sort of did it with me. That was temporary (mainly because it just didn't work). This is a permanent change I'm talking about though. Eating primarily fruits and vegetables, less meat and carbs, and basically zero junk. He won't like that one bit.

I won't lie, I'm not sure I'll like it either. At least not at first. But I do know that eating crap makes me feel like crap. Eating healthy on a daily basis makes me feel great. I want to feel great all the time. I haven't quite figured out how I will afford all this, but I want to do it.

So that's my main goal, but here's a list of them:

1. Get healthy.
I plan to do this by eating clean and working out. The working out part hasn't really happened yet because it's been too cold to run outside and I can't afford a gym membership. That will be one of the first things I do when I get a full-time job though.

2. Get a full-time job.
It sounds kind of bad, but I'm to the point that I just want a full-time job. I don't care if it doesn't involve writing and editing. I can't afford to be unemployed and I really don't want to have multiple part-time jobs.

3. Start planning our wedding. 
This is a really daunting, overwhelming task. There are so many decisions to make and weddings cost so much money. If I could afford to, I would just hire a wedding planner so I wouldn't have to do it all myself. Wishful thinking.

And that's it. Honestly. I'm hoping that fewer goals means I can really focus on them and accomplish them. The first two are the most important to me and sort of go hand in hand. But the third one ties in to the second one as well. I refuse to really start planning until I have a full-time job. There's no point in making plans before I can afford them.

If any of you have any tips to help me reach some of these goals, I'd love to hear them!
How to eat clean on a budget. Job search tips. Wedding planning tips. Send 'em my way!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Happy New Year!

How was everyone's holiday?

Mine was excellent. I got to spend a lot of time with family and friends.

I also had a job interview, and I got it! It's a part time writing position, so I'm still looking for something full time, but I'm still very excited about it!

With all the time off I've had, you'd think I would have started working out and running again, but I'm a total slacker and I haven't. :/ I really do want to start running again, but temps for the next few days are going to be way too cold. Like the high for one day next week is 2 degrees I think, with a low of negative-whatever-I'm-not-going-outside. So while I do have some nice warm clothes for outdoor winter running, that's just too cold for me. I do plan on doing some more at-home exercises in the meantime though. I'll let you know how that goes.

Here's a few pics from our holiday! Hope yours was great! I'll be back next week!

Chris's bday/NYE...isn't he handsome ;)

Copper with one of her new toys...which she
destroyed shortly after.

Another Christmas present for Copper. This one's
supposed to be "indestructible." We'll see.

The adorable ornament Chris gave me for
Christmas :)