Trying to Maintain Balance with Visitors

Recently, my sister visited. Visitors mean I can not stick to my plan as well as I usually do when solo or with my partner because I want to show her a good time. Not that my plan is not exciting, I just want to show her things around town that are incredibly delicious! However, I do not let a visitor turn my whole life upside down.


I woke up before my sister as I typically do before most of my guests. I have always tended to be the only early bird in my family and group of friends. So I was able to workout like usual. Even if my guests wake up at the same time, I either offer that they can join me or they are understanding and use that time to get ready for the day. I have never had anyone question me on why I chose to workout while they are visiting. Exercise is important for your health and I would never expect someone to pass on something so valuable to hang out with me an extra 30 – 90 min.

My sister was in town for a conference, so she had lunch meetings planned. We had some meals at home because she did not feel up to eating out for every meal. Thankfully not too many of my friends and family can afford to eat out every meal. I like to show my guests the town in the way I enjoy it, on a budget! So we might splurge on a special meal, but mostly we hop around from place to place grabbing an empanada here, a vegan biscuits and gravy there to enjoy bites from the best places in the city.


I try to find a balance between my daily life and showing my guest a good time. For instance, if someone wants to visit you and they plan their trip during a work week, they can not expect you to just take those days off. You want to be a good host, but people can entertain themselves. I never want to turn a friend or family member’s life upside down when I visit and actually prefer to experience them in their natural habitat and state of life. So that is how I play things when folks come visit me. You want to listen to what they want to do, while also letting them know when you have your own things going on.

Do share how you try to maintain some balance when people are in from out of town in the comments below!

Natural Product Review – Keeping Your Home Smelling Fresh

I like many folks like to keep my home smelling fresh, ESPECIALLY because I workout at home and do not want it to smell like a gym. Also, with the long, intense winters around the Great Lakes region you do not get a lot of chances to air out your place for months. I have been trying to do this more naturally a few different ways using candles and essential oils. Although, keeping your home smelling fresh naturally could be as easy as picking up a pre-made room spray from a natural store like Whole Foods.

I chose to creating my own thing since a lot of the pre-made, natural room sprays I found were too similar to my perfume choices. I prefer to not blend in with the scent of my home.

Essential oils

I use essential oils in several ways:

  • If I need an invigorating shower I apply a few drops of eucalyptus oil to the floor before I start my shower. This is fantastic if you are sick, since eucalyptus is the scent of Vicks.
  • In the winter, I add it to the water in the humidifier. By morning, our bed room smells like rosemary. You could also get a diffuser.
  • I create my own room spray using water (8 oz.), rubbing alcohol (1.5 oz.) and essential oil of choice (15 drops). I really like the more herbal scents around the house, though I throw lemon or cedar in there to help with keeping bugs away.

I have found all of these options to be great! Yes, it takes more work to assemble the spray, but small bottles of essential oils take up much less space AND both Target and Meijer started having them on their shelves for very reasonable prices! The ones I have been buying are Natures Truth and they seem to run about $6.99 per bottle which lasts me quite a while since one drop goes a long way. Often find them on sale too. The same essential oils in other brands can run you anywhere from $8.99 to $24.99… ouch.

Scented candles

This are quite simple, select a scent, place it the middle of the room and light the candle. However, I have found some brands to be better than others.

  • My absolute favorite ones come from this woman at the farmer’s market who has a lavender farm. She makes her own essential oil, teas, beauty products, candles and more with the lavender she grows. She uses soy to make her candles because its plentiful in this region of the country.
  • We recently picked up a Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day lavender candle to go with our multi-purpose cleaner I mentioned in a previous home product post. They are also made with soy. It goes quite well with the cleaner and so far does not seem to burn too quickly.
  • Lastly, I love the Aromatherapy brand candles at Target! We have bought most of the scents, but Love and Peaceful are the ones we enjoy the most have have bought more than once. The candles last forever and are a mix of soy and paraffin waxes. I know getting paraffin wax treatments is considered questionably healthy, but I am not sure about burning it. These candles though have scents I have been trying to replicate in my room spray with essential oils.

How do you naturally improve the scent of your home?

Eating Seasonally

The farmer’s market is alive with fresh produce and I enjoy exploring all of it! My farmer’s market is open year round, but during the winter months (December – March) the options dwindle to apples, potatoes, kale and squash. While those are delicious items, having the sudden increase in variety allows you to create dishes you have been without for months. It also naturally leads me to a bit of weight loss.

When I had a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) a couple of years ago it helped me get into better eating habits. That was the same year I dropped 30lbs! I had never eaten that much fresh food before, which is just plain WRONG! Though I did not know any better yet. Since then I have made it my goal to move away from a grain and fat focused diet to something that is much more colorful.

For instance, watermelon season has started and I have been blessed to have enjoyed 2 satisfyingly sweet watermelons already this season! Plus, the 4 lbs of strawberries I bought helped make the best unsweetened strawberry rhubarb chia jam, which I heaped on top of some cinnamon scones this past week. 😉 I was also fortunate to pick up a lot asparagus for extremely reasonable prices at the farmer’s market, 3 lbs for $5. I used them as the side to our Bet It All On Black Garlic burger.


Eating more seasonally is more sustainable and healthy for our environment, communities and economy. Having every type of produce fresh year-round does not make sense. Each item has its season. When produce tastes better, I want to eat more of it and that is why it is included in my Spring Goals!


Since every produce is available year-round, so check out this Seasonal Food Guide! What is your favorite produce right now? What seasonal recipes are you cooking up right now?

Natural Product Review – Pest Repellants

Happy Mother’s Day!

I am in between my work trips and want to share with you a way I use all natural items around the house. As I have said before, my partner and I live in two different cities with household issues not everyone loves to talk about. Our place in the city I work in is a “garden level” room, i.e. basement. Spiders are an issue and man are they big! Then in the city he works in we have a 2nd story apartment across from a river. We have assumed our neighbors must poorly store their food, so not only have we seen a lot of spiders due to bugs around the place, but mice have been an issue.

Honestly, putting out to the world that we have had mice made me nervous because I had been taught it was something that made you dirty/messy, but we do not seem to have control over the presence of mice. We keep things clean and store our food in airtight containers. However! We were able to find brilliant natural solutions that does not involve traps or killing of any critters. 🙂

Pantry Bugs and Roaches

These are really all about proper food storage and cleaning up after yourself. First, you NEED air tight containers or at least bag clips like the ones from IKEA. Second, after you cook and eat, wipe down your counters and table, then sweep up at least the areas where food was prepared and eaten. Pantry bugs especially love to hang out in your flour or sugar, so air tight containers are a must! Though, I also store them in the fridge at one of our apartments which keeps them safe as well.


It is not as big of an issue in the Great Lakes region as it was for us growing up in Missouri and Louisiana along the Mississippi River, but you can still run into them in July and August. This year we are investing in a citronella plant for our balcony. I was talking with one of our neighbors who I noticed NEVER has cob webs hanging around, like the rest of us and she said it was all thanks to that little bush they bought. It keeps the bugs away and therefore keeps the outdoor spiders away. I am looking forward to finally enjoying that balcony.

Spiders and Mice

This really is our most common “pest” in both our homes. I personally do not have an issue with some spiders around, but I am concerned with possible infestation of and poison-ness spiders. Spider bites can be scary. Now, taking care of the other bugs do help with spiders, so that is why I started off with those. For this, I keep two things around:

When the hedge apples start popping up in the farmer’s market or I find a osage orange plant, I get about half a dozen of them to place in different corners of the apartment. In the 2nd story apartment they dry out and we keep them around all year. In addition, we use lemon and peppermint essential oils, drops of them, in the corners of the apartment and behind or under furniture. We have noticed a significant difference in the amount of spiders since starting to use these around our apartments.


Story time, about a year after moving into our apartment, my partner saw his first mouse. He had never experienced mice before and immediately felt panicked and stressed. Naturally, with that state of mind he just did what ever he could to get them out. After some research though, we found some more humane options.

  1. We tried traps to catch them un harmed, HA! Those clever mice escaped in no time.
  2. We tried to block where they were coming in and they just squeezed through our or CHEWED through.
  3. I tried sweeping and mopping daily to make it seem like an unappealing place. They would just come in to have a little walk around the apartment!
  4. Lastly, I saw hedge apples at the farmer’s market and a sign that said, “Naturally keep mice away!” I thought, if this works, we do not have to move. THEY WORKED! Ever since we bought some and left them one in each room, we have not seen or heard a single mouse! THANK GOODNESS!

Please share any natural pest control methods you use! Also, if you are a fan of Bob’s Burgers like we are… Hugs Not Bugs!



Sugar: Best Time for Consumption Part 3

Since I can not consume coffee nor do I want to take energy supplements, foods with sugars can help me power through an intense workout. I plan my weekend workouts to be more intense and tend to be the first thing I do in the morning. Actually, first thing in the morning is typically when it is most convenient for me to do all of my workouts. So I plan out my meals to increase my glycogen stores to help me get through those rise and shine workouts.

Sugars are carbohydrates (carbs) and you need them to fuel your muscles. I have noticed that carbs in the morning help me feel more awake and ready to take on the day. I do try to limit the processed grain carbs I consume, but fruit and vegetables I will eat as much as will fill me up. On top of providing me carbs for energy, fruit and vegetables provide much of the micronutrients I need.


St. Louis’ Finest Indeed! One of the things I ALWAYS indulge for when I visit my family, Ted Drewes. Now you can even get it at the airport!

Now, when I treat myself to dessert (more than just a piece of fruit), I will often line that up with a moderate to intense walk or run following immediately to burn off the energy. Especially since added sugars give me quite the rush and can make it challenging to sleep.

For instance, on Pi day (March 14th) this year I indulged in half a slice of pie some coworkers brought in around 2 PM and within 30 minutes could not focus on my work and felt SUPER jittery! I ended up going for a 2+ mile walk after work, which helped bring me down from my sugar high. My digestion was not in it’s best state, but at least I was not up all night.

Now it may sound like I should just start my day with dessert if I am going to have it, but that just makes me feel sick the whole day. I have also had folks tell me I NEED to be eating something before I workout, but I really do not have the time to eat something, wait for it to digest, get my workout in, cleaned up for the day and out the door on time for work.

Also, there are arguments both ways on the importance of breakfast first thing in the morning. Personally, I have found that not eating as soon as I wake up works well for my lifestyle. Let me clarify, I NEVER skip breakfast! I just do not eat it before my workout. Since I workout in the morning I need to refuel afterwards with something nutritious for my muscles to recover and grow. Even if I do not workout in the morning, I find myself feeling sluggish and irritable without breakfast until I get my lunch. #NotProductive

This is just another reminder to do what works best for you and what I have learned about how sugars effect my body.


Fruit is one of the great ways to get in carbs 🙂

Natural Product Review – Method Daily Shower Cleaner

With Spring starting tomorrow, I thought it very appropriate to review a cleaning product. I have been using the same shower spray since I first started sharing living quarters with my partner. I love him and he cleans up great, but his products can leave quite a lot of soap scum… on top of the gross residue we had developed mold in our shower, which he is incredibly allergic to! The smallest amount of mold or mildew and he cannot breathe.

I picked up the Method Daily Shower Cleaner in the Ylang ylang scent at Target back in 2011 and I still use it. It looks like they even have another scent (eucalyptus mint), but I believe we have the same scent since day one. I personally find cleaning the shower to be exhausting, so I am happy to have found a product that can help me out with this. Here are my pros and cons:


  • The scent may take some getting use to. Initially, my partner was bothered by the scent and thought it too strong, but he now thinks of it as a sign of a clean bathroom. I have found this to be a case for many of our “uniquely” scented natural cleaning products, but we both agree that it is a huge improvement from the dizzy feelings we get around bleach agents.


  • Less frequent meticulous cleaning. Maybe some of you find this gross, but we wipe down the walls of our shower and the tub once a month now. This spray keeps the shower clean without the need for scrubbing. We only wipe the walls once a month and it is mostly just to get hair.
  • Ease of use. Just spray the walls and tub post shower. Thats it! So simple and takes less than 30 seconds.
  • The packaging. The initial spray bottle I purchased in 2011 is the same one we use today. Thanks to their refill bottles, you can skip purchasing the spray bottle all together if you already have one on hand!
  • Affordability. The initial spray bottle, I believe, cost just under $3. As I said, we now buy the refill bottle at $4.99. This lasts us on average 4 – 5 months.
  • Accessibility. Always available at Target and I have seen it in many other stores as well. I would say this is a major barrier to my using a product. I have received recommendations or samples in the past, but then could not locate the product in my area or even online.
  • Cruelty free. No animals were harmed in the making of this product.

We just love this product and have not been disappointed. Look for another cleaning product review next month, I think I will stick with this trend all Spring long. 🙂 Let me know if you have product suggestions in the comments below.


We just entered March. I am not going to lie, my motivation in all aspects of my life is wavering. The surge of the new year inspiration is dying down. However, it does not seem realistic to be inclined to always accomplish what needs to be done. Motivation can come and go, but I have ways to keep myself coming back to feeling encouraged and determined. This blog for one.


I made a commitment to testing, researching and writing up material for blog posts at least once per week. It is something that no matter the status of my motivation I want to do for myself and those who read my blog. Its a goal of mine to keep this up, grow from this experience and help others cultivate the motivation they need to achieve a happy, health life within their means.


Speaking of goals, I have a white board in my home that only I have to look at everyday where I keep my short term goals listed. My short term goals are linked to my long term ones since those can not be accomplished without actions and improvements to my present self.

For instance, I need to provide positive words of affirmation each day to show my partner love in his love language in order to maintain a healthy relationship since a long term goal of mine is to have a strong, loving relationship. Especially after growing up with parents who were so clearly unhappy and expressed disdain toward each other daily. I saw first hand that your relationship status can impact overall happiness and how you interact with others.

Mood Booster

When I am not mentally in a good place, I try to recognize that. In recognizing that I push myself to change the negative emotions and take the time to heal my wounds. I will usually start off with cleaning, walking long distances (5+ miles), taking spontaneous day trips, meditating and cooking up lots of comfort food. These are actions that help me heal.

I learned toward the end of graduate school that just laying around, sleeping in and feeling sorry for myself did nothing for me. It felt like if I continued down that path that I would never come out of it. It also only made me feel more depressed. I know myself well enough to know I need forced motivation to boost my mood.

What helps motivate you? I would love to hear about your methods in the comments below!

Minimizing My Life

Since my last year of graduate school (2012/2013), I have come to find that owning less saves me a lot of money. It just makes sense that if you do not buy a lot and therefore own a lot of things you have spent less. There is also a lot of push to purchase things and do things that are luxuries. They are not necessary for your life. You can live without them and still be happy, especially in a small city apartment.

One of my goals this year is to simplify the products and material items I own. Not just to save money, but to refocus on what is important in life. I had gotten carried away at one point buying stuff to mask or “resolve” depression. It did not help. The item would only temporarily distract me from my pain. This realization helped me turn toward fitness.


My jumping on this sort of minimalist notion really grew in my head from an experience at the Henry Ford Museum. They have an exhibit that takes you through the history of the automobile and there is a section discussing the change in American society that brought about luxury features to your vehicle, I just had a “whoa” moment. I stood there surprised that one placard in a museum exhibit spurred an epiphany of how I was wasting money.

I am not looking to get rid of everything and be one of those Zero Waste movement folks, but they can be inspiring toward reducing your life, consumption and rubbish. To aid me in reaching this goal of mine, I have found some great inspirational minimalists I have started following and some helpful articles to guide myself to reduce the clutter:

5351835512165276400Do you have any resources you recommend on this subject? I am in the process of looking for a good book. I will be checking out a few this weekend from my public library. Please do share in the comments below any tips you have or your story of realizing you should minimize.


Natural Product Review – Shea Moisture Hair Care

In 2015, I had the goal to shampoo my hair less often, but struggled. I was finding articles and blog posts everywhere regarding how the many products dry out our hair and are toxic to us because of the parabens and sulfates they contained. However, my grappling came from the continued use of commercial hair products. They are pretty affordable and come in huge containers, but it is like they make my hair produce oil quickly.

Now, I know some folks are going to read this and ask, “Why did you not try using dry shampoo?!” I work out a lot and have dark hair, I have yet to have success with dry shampoo no matter what brand I use and how much I rub my scalp or crazily shake my head like gals in YouTube videos. My hair would be still be greasy and on top of that chalky from the dry shampoo. Not to mention I have textured hair and like it to remain that way so wetting it is helpful.

I also felt as though I was putting way too much effort into getting my hair to look nice. I want to move away from all the extra products, tools and accessories. Thankfully, I have not used my hair dryer in 2 years and why I still have my straightener and curling irons are perplexing to me, it has been so long since those have touched my hair. My hair is better for it. The texture is softer. #TimeToMinimize


With my goals to use less shampoo and switch to natural products, 3 months ago I started using Shea Moisture Fruit Fusion Coconut Water Weightless Shampoo, Creme Rinse and Texture Spray. First I want to say, do not expect natural products to have the same consistence as the commercial products. Commercial products add a lot of ingredients to make it seem like they are doing more than they really are. Do not expect natural shampoo to lather to the same intensity and natural conditioner to feel like a glossy coat over your hair. Now for my Pros and Cons:


  • The scent of the products does not stick around after my hair has dried. It is not that my hair starts to stink, but that you can not pick up the smell of the product anymore. So my hair smells like nothing, which is fine. Though it is nice when the scent of the product lingers.
  • The texture spray does not assist in holding my waves. With how soft my hair has become, it does not take much for my waves to be pulled out. For instance, with it being winter, I have to put on jackets and coats and when I pull my hair out from my coat I notice that it appears straighter. In Winter, my hair feels even softer from the dry, cold air so this may just not be a winter product. I may just need to try the mousse from the same line to get the hold I am looking for this time of year.



  • The shampoo and conditioner rinse out quickly. It takes less than a minute to rinse the product out.
  • My waves consistently develop without patchy straight pieces. Even with using commercial products meant for wavy/curly hair I struggled with the texture not being uniform around my head. I figured it was just my hair’s natural texture, but clearly it was the product.
  • My hair has not been this shiny ever. I quickly noticed after about a month of use that my hair had a healthy, beautiful shiny look. 🙂
  • My hair does not feel weighed down. At times my hair is curly instead of just wavy. I feel like the texture of my hair has really flourished with these products.
  • Pretty affordable. I needed to use more of the commercial products to clean and condition my hair, while the Shea Moisture ones require less of each use and less often. The amount of oil my scalp produces has decreased significantly. To clarify, I shower every other day and use a small amount of shampoo (quarter size amount) only on my scalp area every 4 days. The conditioner is what I use every time I shower (about a tablespoon amount) and it is only applied on the mid to ends of my hair. Also, I do scrub my scalp well with my fingers under the water every shower.
  • My scalp has less oil production! Recently, I was able to go 6 days without shampooing and my partner said he could not tell. He thought even on day 6 that my hair seemed clean. 🙂

I will likely ditch the texture spray until Summer and try out the mousse, but the Shea Moisture shampoo and conditioner have me total won over. Do you have use a natural health/beauty care products you recommend? Please share in the comments below!

Simple Meals to Stay Healthy the Easy Way

I have found the best way to clean up my diet is to keep meals simple. You do not need to make crazy elaborate meals to make a change and often when you do, you think, “I just cannot keep this up between cost of all the different little ingredients and the time it takes to prepare and cook.”

In the US culture today, both partners usually have to work to maintain a quality life and there are so many activities to keep up with. Even my friends who are stay at home parents, have shared with me the stress of all the tasks that need to be done on top of preparing meals throughout the day. It seems so easy to fall into the habit of grabbing the pre-prepared, processed foods.

However, a simple baked potato topped with breakfast sausage and steamed kale or mixed vegetables can be an affordable, well balanced and delicious meal! Plus, you can prepare many of them at a single time for the whole week. Reheat any day of the week for a bit in the microwave or toasted oven for a quick meal. #MealPrep If you like additional toppings it does not take much effort or time to add some mustard and sauerkraut; salsa and cheese; greek yogurt and ranch seasoning, etc..

On top of the time and financial savings, simple meals could be easier for you to digest. I learned that I do not digest multiple types of proteins well, specifically the combination of beans and animal proteins. My doctor explained that it could be resulting in me not absorbing all the protein I consumed! In addition, I know it makes me extremely bloated and gassy. When I eat beans without meat and cheese, I have zero problems.

So if you are finding it a struggle to keep up with your healthy eating goals, try simplifying your meals. Do you have any go to 5 ingredient of less meals? Share in the comments below! Here are 5 simple meals I like to prepare:

  1. Stir fry: 1 lb green beans + 1/2 brick of tempeh chopped / crumbled + 1 t sesame oil + 1 T Sriracha + splash of soy sauce
  2. Grain-free parfait: 1 c plain Greek yogurt + 1 piece of fruit + 1 oz chopped nuts + sprinkle of cinnamon
  3. Stuffed baked potato: 1 russet potato baked + 3 oz of ground turkey / turkey breakfast sausage + 1 c steamed kale + mustard + sauerkraut
  4. Oatmeal raisin cookie oats: 40g plain oats + 1 c water + 1 oz raisins + 1 oz nuts of choice + 1/2 t cinnamon
  5. Omelet: 2 eggs + 1 c steamed vegetables + 1 oz cheese + unsweetened ketchup