Current Favorite Things

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When I find nontoxic and holistic products I love (after trying products over and over that don’t work) I want to share what I find! Here is what I have been using and loving lately.

Magnesium Lotion

Since I have a 6 month old (so crazy!), the sleep that I do get needs to be amazing. Therefore, I must do all means necessary to get that quality sleep! Enter, magnesium lotion! Magnesium is hard to get enough of, especially since our soil is so depleted. It is also best absorbed through your skin. This magnesium lotion is awesome. I used to try and take baths with Epsom salt or use magnesium oil to get my magnesium intake up. However, baths are hard to take when you are a mom and the oil spray can easily sting and it is really hard to wash off. This lotion however, is so easy. I put one pump on each foot before bed and rub in. Within minutes I feel more relaxed and I totally notice a difference when I forget to use it! For more on how important magnesium is read this article.

goop G.Tox Himalayan Salt Scalp Scrub Shampoo

Okay. This is THE BEST shampoo I have ever used. Nontoxic or not. When I hit 4 months postpartum, not only was I losing hair but my scalp was extremely dry! It is something I have struggled with before but never this bad. This shampoo however, not only deep cleans your hair but it leaves my scalp fresh and not flaky. It strips away oils, dirt and any product residue. This stuff is seriously a Godsend. I use this once a week and I usually only wash my hair twice a week.

Dry Brushing

Dry Skin Brushing has been kind of a fad the past couple of years but I haven’t really tried it until now. After having a baby, my hormones are all crazy and my skin has been taking the brute of it. I ended up getting keratosis pilaris (tiny bumps) on my arms and a little on my legs. I tried dry skin brushing twice a day, with this brush and within two days I saw relief! Dry Skin Brushing is also extremely good at detoxing your lymphatic system, helping it rid your body of toxins. Learn more about it here. I also use the face dry brush for my face twice a week to fluff off any dead or damaged skin. I use in a circular motion before I was my face and it does wonders! My face is always so soft after using it.

Acupuncture Mat

This is so random how I found this mat, but I am so glad I found it! My back was killing me and bored one day on Amazon, I searched “back pain” and this acupuncture mat popped up. This was at least a couple years ago when I did the search and the mat was only $15 back then. I thought, “it cant hurt to try for only $15.” Low and behold, both Cory and I use this thing daily. We now have three mats total in my house and I have bought it many for friends and family members. My husband and I use them EVERY night when we are ready to go to sleep. I have also brought them on road trips and it really helps your back when you are driving long distance (this was my husband’s saving grace when we drove to Montana a couple years ago).

If you are looking at this thing and thinking, “no way” I feel you. At first, it really hurt. I won’t lie. It is best to use on bare skin but it gets better, I promise! You just need to get yourself into a position you can handle, and commit to laying on it for 5 min. Then the next time 6 or 7 minutes and so on. Before you know it you will fall asleep on it you are so relaxed. This mat is so helpful since I store all my stress in my neck and shoulders, not to mention breastfeeding! I can position it to help all my problem spots and I love the pillow it comes with, since it fits right under my neck.

Follain.com

This website is what I have been looking for! They dubbed themselves the “Sephora of Clean Beauty.” They have so many products that I have never even heard of. I am so excited to explore all of them! For my first purchase I bought the Clean Essentials Kit which is a little sample kit of their best selling skincare products. I actually love everything that came in it and I want to get the toner in a regular size. Everything smells incredible too! I have heard great things about some of their shampoos and conditioners too. I will do another post reviewing some products I have been trying.

What are some of your favorite products you are using right now? Comment below!

All pictures by Jessica Walla.

1st Trimester Must Haves

img_6215img_6222img_6228img_6237img_6238ACVACV 2B&CSince this is my first pregnancy and it has been over 20 years since my mom was pregnant, there was a lot that I needed to learn about having a baby. I really didn’t know what to expect, but soon realized there was a ton to learn. Can I eat cacao powder? (Yes, it’s ok!) Can I use essential oils? (You can!) What can I expect?

I found out I was pregnant and literally the next day I came down with an awful cold. I usually don’t get colds and when I do, I usually get over them within a couple days. This cold however, lasted about 10 days! I was miserable. I did not want to risk taking anything and I have always wanted my pregnancies to be as natural as possible, taking no medication if I could help it. While sick, I usually bulk up on vitamin C, take oregano pills and drink lots of lemon water with Manuka honey. However, I knew that there are certain vitamins you can take too much of and right on the bottle of my oregano pills it says “DO NOT TAKE IF PREGNANT.” I wanted to kick this cold but do it without hurting the baby. So I did what I knew was safe, I drank fresh squeezed lemon with hot (not boiling) water every morning (sometimes with a little Manuka honey), I made chicken noodle soup with bone broth and ate lots of other fruits that are full of vitamin C.

Although my pregnancy started out a little rough, I knew I didn’t want to be this unprepared through out the whole nine months. As I approached 8 weeks I noticed that things were really starting to change and I needed help. I have “The Bump” app and I LOVE it but it didn’t give me all the info that I was craving. After my first doctors appointment and ultrasound, I drove straight to Barnes & Noble in search of some pregnancy books. The book I had in mind was “What To Expect When You’re Expecting” but what I found was even better! This brings me to my number one must have for your first trimester (and the rest of your pregnancy).

1.“The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth”

This book has so much amazing info packed into it and is so easy to read. Mama Natural takes the more holistic approach to pregnancy and she also has exerts from midwives and doulas to get you more familiar with them and their point of view. She has home remedies for colds, stretch marks and many other things that change in your body when you get pregnant as well as recipes and a week by week of what is happening to you and the baby. Without this book, it would have been a lot of endless searching on the web for answers to questions I had/have. Mama Natural also has her own website and YouTube channel which are also marvelous.

2. Belly Armor

One of the first things I read when I found out I was pregnant was read Food Babe’s blog post on the top pregnancy questions she got. One thing that she was adamant about was Belly Armor. Your cell phone, laptops and wireless routers emit radiation which has been shown to cause birth defects and even miscarriages. Belly Armor blocks 99% of radiation so when you are constantly on your cell phone, tablet or laptop, you can have peace of mind that you aren’t hurting your baby. They have blankets, shirts, tank tops, etc. I choose a blanket (wearing it now) because I can use it while pregnant but also the baby can use it when born.

3. Apple Cider Vinegar

I could not live without this stuff. Towards the end of my first trimester, I started having acid reflex (which I have never had in my life) and I would take a tablespoon and just shoot it. Even though it tasted gross going down, it was totally worth it. It made my acid reflex go away and you take take it up to 3 times a day while pregnant. I have tried other kinds and Bragg is just the best. I will only buy their apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is amazing for many, many other things too. Lately, I have been taking a warm bath with 1-2 cups of apple cider vinegar in it to help with achy joints, softer skin and hair, plus other reasons why (you can read about it in “The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth”.

4. Peppermint, Ylang Ylang and Lavender Essential Oils

I was extremely nauseous pretty much all the time while in my first trimester. There wasn’t much I could do about and the only thing that kept it at bay was peppermint essential oil and vitamin B6. I did drop one drop of peppermint oil in my mouth at times. I know people say not to do this but I use the highest quality essential oils and would make sure I didn’t over do it. I also would drop it in my palms and cover my nose and breath it in, which also helped. Vitamin B6 also helped when I took it before bed and with meals. I don’t know why this works, but it does!

If you have trouble sleeping like I did, vitamin B6 will help you too. Before getting pregnant I would always have to take melatonin and/or GABA to be able to sleep but I wasn’t sure if they were safe or not so after some research, I found out that Ylang Ylang essential oils helps you sleep when you add a drop or two to the bottom of your feet before bed. I could not sleep right after I found out we were pregnant and when I came across this I tried it and BOOM, I was out like a light and had the best nights sleep I had had in awhile! Needless to say that I use this on my husband too. I also almost always diffuse lavender at night too. It is so calming and promotes relaxation and combats restlessness.

5. Bread and Cheese (in almost any form)

That’s right, bread and cheese. I try and eat so healthy and even before I was pregnant I was practicing the ketogenic diet, really limiting my carb intake. But with this pregnancy my body wants bread, crackers, pasta or something of the like at least once a day. During my first trimester, I was so nauseous that saltine crackers and cheese were all about I could get down. There were days that I could not even get any veggies down because they were just too much and they would just come back up. I wanted to give my baby the best and eat as healthy as I could, and because all I wanted was bread and cheese, I was getting a bit discouraged.

Then, I had a friend tell me that during her first two pregnancies she listened to her body, ate what she wanted in moderation and she gained about 50lbs with each. Then for her third pregnancy, she decided she wanted to do it differently. She hired a personal trainer and ate no sugar and limited carbs and she ended up gaining 70lbs and she said she was miserable! Her advice to me was to just listen to you body and the baby will tell you what it needs. This was the single best piece of advice I have received while pregnant!

I am at the end of my second trimester now and I have been living by this advice and I have gained a healthy amount of weight and other than being tired all the time, I am doing and feeling well!

Birthdays.

Last Friday I turned 31 on the 31st. My golden birthday. For my 30th birthday I had to work all day and I had the flu. I didn’t feel like having a party or doing anything really. Before I got sick, my mom did take me to lunch with one of my best friends and her mom. We made it into a day with shopping and custom facials. It was perfect and very relaxing with lots of laughter. However, I didn’t have a party and I thought to myself that next year, I would do something really special for myself on my golden birthday.

We planned right after Christmas to travel to Kona, HI over my birthday. I was so excited! Unfortunately, life happened and because of work issues, we had to cancel our week and a half trip. Even though we had to cancel, I was hoping that maybe my husband and I would still be able to sneak away for a couple days over my birthday weekend.

Let’s take it back to the beginning of my birthday week…

I walk into work Monday morning and the very first thing I see is my mother-in-law’s 12 year old dog having a terrible seizure! It was traumatizing! Thankfully she was alright and I was able to go home early. It was a beautiful day (finally no rain) and I was about to take my dog for a walk when I received a call from my dermatologist. I found out I had Melanoma.

What?

I went for a walk and while I was walking, I listed to a sermon. Cancer hadn’t yet really sunk in. I felt it wasn’t that big of a deal. Then, when I got home, it started to hit me. I noticed right away that I started feeling different stages of grief. I was angry that this was happening (especially right before my birthday). I was sad I let it happened. I felt depressed I was going to loose a chunk of meat off my leg. All these emotions started to overwhelm me, and I broke. The thought of having the flu on my 30th birthday, and now finding out I had skin cancer so close to my 31st birthday made me SO sad. I started bawling and couldn’t stop. Other things have been happening to test my self worth and some family issue arrised during this time, so to say the least, that Monday was a bit too much.

I finished the night, crying it all out, but I was determined that everything going on was not going to take away from my special day. I was reminded of Jeremiah 29:11-13, “‘For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart.'” God also showed me Psalms 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

I know God has a plan and it is not for me to sit and worry and get depressed. No matter what life goes on, and I must take the time to enjoy it and live it.

Last week had its ups and downs. It has hit me though, I have skin cancer. I am so blessed and thankful they caught it early. I know that without a doubt it was the Lord who ordained catching it before it was too late. I went to my regular doctor for a referral for massage and she had asked me if I ever went to the dermatologist she referred me to. I said, “I don’t remember you referring me?” I told her that I did need a check up so she referred me and I went in a couple weeks later. They found a mole and did a biopsy and low and behold it was cancer. If my doctor hadn’t of brought it up I probably would have never gone in or I would have gone to the dermatologist too late. Therefore, I know God was orchestrating catching it at the early stages.

Thinking about this is terrifying and it can easily overwhelm you. Your mind is a powerful thing and when you let your thoughts run, it can start to consume you. I can see how people can easily become depressed, loose hope and are filled with worry. “What if they don’t get it all?” “What if they are wrong?” It can go on and on and on! I am determined not to let my mind and heart be filled with fear. God has brought me this far and He will continue to be there to the end. I have so much to be thankful for and I will not let the enemy take over my life with fear.

Even though my 31st birthday is not how I had thought it would go, it was still special as it was filled with family and friends. Life doesn’t always go as you plan but God always has a better plan and with that I am holding true to His promise 😉

5 Things To Do In Key West, FL

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My best friend, Lindsay, moved to Key West, FL about 9 years ago for an internship program. Not long after she was there she met a man, fell in love and married him a few years later. She now calls Key West her home. Because she has lived there for so long she knows all the must see/to do things in Key West and is my tour guide every time I travel to see her! Even though Key West is a 2 by 4 mile island, there is definitely plenty to do and see. Here are my top 5 things to see and/or do while in Key West.

1.Duvall Street

Duvall street is a mile long strut full of bars, shops and of course restaurants. It isn’t just on Duvall Street where all the excitement is, but there are so many hole in the wall spots just off Duvall Street that are sometimes even more fun.

On my most recent trip a couple weeks ago, Lindsay took me to 2 Cents, a restaurant and bar right off of Duvall. During happy hour, when you order your drinks and/or food they give you a dice to roll. If you roll a 1, 2 or 3 then you pay the amount you rolled! If you roll a 4, 5 or 6 then you have to pay full price. I ordered a drink and rolled a 1! I was so excited! BTW they also have amazing Moscow Mules and keep bacon on your table!

 

2.Southernmost Point 

This is the buoy that signifies the southernmost point of the continental United States. It is cool to see and take your picture by! There is ALWAYS a line to get your picture taken and it gets so hot standing in the sun so that is why mine is at night. No one else was there!

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3.Better Than Sex

Ok, sorry for the PG-13 name but I had to put this on my list! Better Than Sex is a dessert only restaurant that is only open from 6pm to midnight and it is ab-so-lute-ly AMAZING!!! It has a very alluring atmosphere, where there is very, little lighting and the walls are painted red. It is a pretty small restaurant and always busy so make sure you make a reservation. I have only been here twice but when I go home, I crave this place. I love “The Fever” it is a hot, chocolate brownie with warm chocolate pudding and two scoops of vanilla ice cream on top. It literally melts in your mouth and it is to die for.

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4.Mallory Square

Every night, Mallory Square hosts the Sunset Celebration where there are food booths, street performers, exhibitors, etc. It is definitely something to experience. The sunsets are absolutely gorgeous and there is a different sunset every night! One of the street performers I watched had a cat show. Yes cats. It was eccentric, that is for sure! There is always something to see down there.

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5.Earnest Hemingway’s House

This was a tour I did when I was there in April of 2015 with my mom. They have guided tours that last about 30 minutes (my mom and I just kind of went through or own and it took us about 30 to 40 minutes). It was interesting to see his estate because there are some unique characteristics about it. For example, it is home to about 40-50 six toes cats, and it has pool that has a 80,784 gallon capacity. This is astonishing especially since Key West has en elevation of only 18 feet. It is definitively worth the tour as you can also see his writing area. You can learn more about him and this estate here.

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 Hope you enjoyed and can find this info useful!

-Ericha

Happy 2017!

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I started reading “31 Days of Prayer for the Dreamer and Doer”this past year and it has been an amazing way to start my day and really get my dreams in line with God’s. The writers of this book also write a blog that I stumbled upon this week.

Instead of making goals for the year she created these “Reflection” and “Refocus” sheets to complete. I have been slowly working on them the past two days and I have to say, they are more helpful and insightful than I could have ever imagined.

The “Reflection” worksheet really mapped out my year in a way that I didn’t see before. While the “Refocus” worksheet gave me a place where I could write down what I truly want for the next year.

I encourage you to take the time to fill these out and really, well, reflect and refocus. You can find these worksheets here.

Happy 2017 to all of you!

The End of Whole 30

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Wine night at my house for my first day off Whole 30!

Week 4

Considering that it has been six months since I have completed Whole 30, all I remember about week four was that it was the easiest. I remember having little to no cravings and preparing meals was second nature. I do know that I was sleeping much better and I felt good.

After my thirty days were up I would introduce things back into my diet slowly like bread, cheese and maybe a glass of wine one day, then the next day I would revert back to Whole 30. Then I would eat bread, cheese and sugar again and revert back again to Whole 30. I did this for probably about three weeks or so, until I just started eating any foods I wanted. To be honest, I didn’t notice any weight gain, my sleep remained the same and I actually felt even better and I felt a different kind of energized by eating bread. Shocker I know.

I run 4-5 times a week (about 3 miles each time) and I am sure I wasn’t getting enough fast acting carbs. My body needed these fast acting carbs because it utilizes them most when running. While on Whole 30, I ate about 2 large sweet potatoes a day and I still felt more fatigued and slower when running. Sweet potatoes are slow acting carbs, thus why I felt better when I started eating fast acting carbs again. It makes sense why in week two I was extremely tired and why people on low carb diets get so sleepy with possible dizziness.

Obviously I am no doctor, but I think that the most important thing for your body is to listen to it. After completing Whole 30 I think even further that eating all things in moderation and that are high in quality (i.e. organic foods) are the key (unless of course you have a food allergy). Your body is smarter than you think and it is always changing, so rules you follow now, might not work for you down the road. More on this to come.

-Ericha 🙂

Whole 30: Week 3 Recap

Ohhhhh week 3. Week 3 for me was the hardest. Dealing with vertigo is absolute zero fun. I’ve had vertigo before but it went away within a week and it was not this bad. This time, it is like a ton of bricks hitting me and for a split second it is like I have to catch my breath. On top of all of that I was really hungry all week! I am not sure why but I could not get full.

Day 15 (Monday)

On day 15, I had to wake up at 5am and head to Bellevue for a doctor’s appointment at 7am. I had my espresso with homemade almond milk and I was good to go. The vertigo was mild and not totally making my life difficult. At my doctor’s appointment, I ended up getting a mole removed on my stomach so they could biopsy it. By 10am, I was back at work eating almost my entire lunch. Then for dinner I ate salmon, roasted sweet potatoes (amazing), and zucchini and red onions tossed in avocado oil and Himalayan pink salt that were BBQ’d on the grill. I was still hungry and really wanted something crunchy and salty so I ate some organic salted cashews. I couldn’t believe I was still hungry after dinner!

Day 16 (Tuesday)

Because I had a mole on my stomach removed, I had to make sure I kept it clean and put Vaseline on it. I woke up, walked in the bathroom and looked down to clean it and I almost passed out. Because I looked down I became incredibly dizzy to the point where I went pale, had cold sweats and thought I was going to throw up. It. Was. Awful. I had to go to work but I was basically out of it for the rest of the day because it took so much out of me. Because of everything that happened that morning, I had zero appetite all day.

Day 17 (Wednesday)

I woke up on day 17 and felt much better than the day before. I still very much had vertigo, but I knew better than to look down so much so I wouldn’t make myself sick. I am not a breakfast eater, but I got hungry about 10am and I ate 2 (Whole 30 approved) chicken sausages, two lemon Lara bars and a banana. At 2pm I ate a snack that consisted of bunch of grapes and some slices of roast beef. Then for dinner we ate salmon, green beans and sweet potatoes. I can not get enough sweet potatoes! I toss them in avocado oil, Himalayan pink salt, pepper and garlic. I put them on a cookie sheet and baked them at 400 degrees for about 30-40 minutes. They are my favorite, I can eat the whole cookie sheet! I still hadn’t felt any “Tiger Blood” and that might have been because of the Vertigo 😦

Day 18 (Thursday)

I woke up day 18 and for the first time since being on Whole 30 I didn’t feel energized even though I slept well. I was pretty tired and hungry all day and much dizzier than the day before. I kept with it though, eating whole organic foods.

Days 19-21 (Friday to Sunday)

By this time on Whole 30 I am used to eating all things Whole 30 approved and don’t really have any cravings. However, because it was the weekend I did have that urge to have a glass of wine but on a scale of  to  it was a 2. So I had some kombucha and it cured the craving..

By the end of week 3 it was really starting to become my norm to eat baked sweet potatoes instead of pasta or rice and to have some figs for dessert. Despite the vertigo I really was feeling much better overall and the cravings have definitely subsided.