Lifestyle

8 Diets You Should Avoid and Why

8 Diets to avoid and why

Dieting is one of the surest ways the food industry continues to try and convince us of eating things we shouldn't. They claim "healthy, low-carb, ketogenic, gluten-free, fat-free, less sugar, vegan," and the list goes on. Ever since dieting came into play as a strategy in getting people to buy certain products, it has morphed with the times, evolving with our lingo and lifestyle. We have become a society that thinks WAY too much about what we eat, which only fuels the fire. So what should we do about it? I'll tell you. Be informed, but stop thinking so much about your diet! I swear before I gave birth to my son my mind was constantly consumed with the latest diet trends, in efforts to lose that last ten pounds I could never seem to shake. I mean, I was obsessed! What happened was, my mind got in the way of me succeeding. In efforts to stop thinking about not eating food, I would, in turn, eat it, and in excess, because in a way, I wanted to rebel against my diet. Then I started using diet pills, starving myself, etc. After I had my son, I didn't have the time anymore to think about such things, and lost all of the weight I couldn't lose the previous years and then some! This is no news to most of you. It's the whole idea behind "stop dieting and start living." But here's the thing. That's a strategy as well! The industry says, change your lifestyle, not your diet, which is true, but they also attach to it a "do it this way" solution. Here are some things to be aware of in the food industry, and how they suck you into the next diet fad without you realizing it. 

I know I won't be super popular on this subject because our society thrives on diets fads, but I guess I don't care about popularity here. I first want to talk about some things that the industry does to make you think a certain way before they present you with their drug of choice.

 

3 things the food industry will try and convince you of.

 

1. You're not good enough.

Again, probably not news to most of you, but yet we still give in. Obviously hitting people where it hurts has long been a tactic of theirs, but why do we let them keep winning in our minds? Why do we continue to let them tell us who we should or shouldn't be? I am living proof of the fact that when you stop consuming your mind with changing yourself for the wrong reasons, you may actually succeed in making lifestyle changes. I used to be one of those women who would go the whole day eating healthy, only to get home from work and stuff my face full of ice cream. When I wanted a salty finish, I switched to chips, then back to sweet. Then salty again. Not only did I put my digestive system into shock day after day, but I also ended up feeling once again like I had failed, and because of failing I would never be desirable, and if I wasn't desirable, I would never get married, and down the rabbit hole, I went. This article I wrote touches on some ways to stop believing lies and understanding how it physically changes your brain. Dr. Carolyn Leaf is a neurologist who wrote a book about it called Switch on your Brain. I'm not going to go in depth right now, but if you're interested in working on changing thought patterns that are detrimental, it may be a helpful article for you. It also goes hand in hand with the fact that our body will process food differently if we think about it differently. Our brain is a powerful tool in our efforts to change our body physically.

2. You're not healthy enough.

When I moved to Germany a few years back, my eyes were opened to a few things when it comes to food. Germans eat so much bread, but they aren't overweight. What!? So carbs don't make you overweight? Maybe. They do if you eat too much of them. In fact, if you overeat anything, it could quite possibly make you overweight. So why aren't many Germans overweight if they eat so much bread? Why aren't most of the French overweight if they consume so much butter? Or what about Italians? They eat fried foods and pasta every single day, and the majority of them aren't overweight. How? It's called, a healthy mindset, portion control, and eating things in moderation. I believe it goes much deeper as well. America is SO quick to find a solution to cover the symptom, instead of dealing with the actual problem. This goes for pharmaceuticals, mental health, politics, etc. We tend to OVERTHINK EVERYTHING because we are focusing so much on covering up some "problem" our society is telling us we have to fix. We hear daily, "be healthier with these new diet tips," or "the keto diet is for you," and slowly but surely we start to believe we aren't healthy. I eat very healthily, but when I see an add or Pinterest pin for some new eating fad, I get sucked in! Wake up! When are we going to start thinking for ourselves when it comes to food instead of believing what social media is telling us? Perhaps you aren't healthy, and you need to lose weight, but what are your reasons behind it? Is it because society says you need to look or be a certain way? Or is it because you as an individual who thinks for themselves wants to live a healthy lifestyle, and be your version of healthy?

3. There is something wrong with you.

I don't even know how many diets are out there, but the number is staggering. So what makes one better than the other? What makes a Vegan diet better than a Ketogenic diet? Who's to say that I need to eat only raw food? It's enough to make you go crazy. It's enough to make you feel like you're doing something wrong! Like you need to jump on the next diet train to be doing the right thing. They want you to think just that, that you are wrong, because if you're doing something other than what they think you should be doing to consume their product, then you are wrong. I'm not a doctor or nutritionist, so I'm not going to say whether a Vegan diet is better than a Ketogenic diet, I'm merely trying to open up your eyes to the dysfunction of it all. We no longer know who to believe, what is the truth, and what is best for us. 

What is the solution to being healthy?

I don't know, and that's precisely my point. I am just another person writing another article about what you should be doing with your life. This time, I'm encouraging you to start thinking for yourself. Find ways to get healthy from the inside out, starting with your thought patterns. This I do know, it all starts there, in your mind. The world feeds off of our insecurities, and these companies would lose a significant amount of money if we started thinking for ourselves. This comes to politics, medicine, mental health, etc. Here is my solution, if any, but please don't believe it because I say it. 

What if our diets came from our healthy minds? Do you think an unhealthy mind fuels an unhealthy diet? No.

I know this doesn't come easy for some of you. Those of you who's addiction is food. If it is your addiction, then what will a diet change about it? It may work for a little while, but there is nothing to back it up. No change of heart or mind. 

If the only reason you are doing a diet is to adhere to who society thinks you should be, then avoid it! They don't care about you, they care that you buy their products.

I guess I should clarify. Not all diets are bad. I'm talking about the ones that make you think if you do it their way, you will somehow change your life and be happier. I guess that can go for any diet. News flash, just because you lose weight, will not make you more confident or comfortable in your own skin. It can help, sure! But still, there is another layer that goes deeper. Your mind. That being said, I've researched a few diets that are particularly absurd. Again, this is my personal opinion. I'm not judging anyone. I've been on a lot of these diets myself. I just want to shed light on some things that maybe won't help you in the long run because they sure didn't help me.

 

 

8 diets you should avoid in 2018 and why

 

The Atkins Diet 

Why? Not a balanced or sustainable diet. Once you lose the weight, you will most likely put it back on because you will go back to eating normally. Anything that is strenuous makes you think too hard about what you should eat, is never a good option. You will get bored, frustrated and give up.

 

Paleo Diet

Why? Too much meat. Again, is not a sustainable diet that one can always follow on a daily basis. It does encourage natural ingredients, which is good, but not a lifestyle you can efficiently manage, which causes you to, once again, obsess about your diet. 

 

Weight Watchers Diet

Why? Too much counting. It will give you a headache and cause you to give up because no one can sustain such an annoying way to live. I think this is the one Oprah advertises for, right? Do you remember how many times her weight has fluctuated over the years? Just sayin.' "I LOVE BREAD. I love it!" - Oprah 

 

5:2 Diet

Why? Skipping meals for two days? Are you kidding me? I'm sure you get results for those two days of losing water weight, but what about putting your digestive system into shock and then eating an entire refrigerator on day three? At least that’s what I would do after murdering someone because I’m so hangry.

 

Slim Fast Diet

Okay, I’ve done this one. Not only did I get the worst sharts in the world, but I felt like I didn’t lose any weight as my stomach bloated to twice the size it was before. I kid you not, I was on a date when I sharted myself and needed to end it early. This actually turned out to be a good thing because he wouldn't shut up about himself. I told him I had the sharts and he was glad to let me go. And did you see the ingredient list? Yikes!!!

 

Lighter Life Diet

Why? Meal replacements are never a good idea. Expensive, and boring. You also get a counselor. I guess that’s good, but again, what happens when I run out of money?

 

Ketogenic Diet 

I know this one is SO popular, but what person can eat like this for long periods of time? Sustainable? Nope. High fat and meat content? Yes, and also not so good for your health because they don't discourage bad fats. Supposedly this is a diet for people who suffer from epilepsy. So, why have we decided it’s now good for us? Again, not sustainable and when you finish it, what happens then? Results? Sure! But for how long? Could this perhaps be a glorified Atkins diet that makes you pee on a stick? Anyone?

 

Slimming World Diet

They give you a list of foods you can choose from and connect you with a support group.  There’s nothing necessarily wrong with this diet, but what is right about it? I’m just confused. How is this different than trying to eat healthily and talking about it to your friends? It's not. 

 

In Summary

All that to say, nothing offers a different solution that causes you to be healthy and start changing the way you think and live FOR GOOD. I had never been exceedingly overweight, so I don’t know what that’s like, but I’m pretty sure it goes deeper than just a change in diet for a few months. It all starts in the mind. I believe the most important thing is to be confident in who you are as a woman. No matter what. Start there, and the results will come. Also, stop thinking so much about what you should and shouldn't eat. Just remember that moderation is essential. That if you eat an entire cheesecake instead of one piece, you will suffer consequences more than just not pooing for a week. Support groups are great. Counselors are great. A healthy mindset is a healthy lifestyle, and that goes for anything in life. It's a journey, but do your best to be confident in who you are. 

 8 fad diets to avoid and why you should!

This goes to say, what we eat, why we are overweight, why we don't work out, has so much more to do with our minds than anything else. Once we tackle this aspect and start to realize those wrong motivations WILL NOT MAKE YOU HAPPY or content, then we can begin to have healthy diets and change for good.

Easter Table Setting Ideas - Easter Terranium for The Table

How to create your own unique Table Decorations for Easter

Easter always sneaks up on me. It must be the change of weather and spring cleaning I get distracted with, but sure enough, I find myself ordering a lamb shank at last minute and running into the forest to scrounge around for an interesting table decorations. This year, my trusty mother-in-law gave me a beautiful terrarium. Germans are somehow miracle workers when it comes to utilizing their beautiful forests for their table decor during the holidays. It is not only less expensive but brings in a fresh scent of spring into your home. Easter represents new life, so what better way to acknowledge that than to bring in the first signs of Spring with this beautiful terrarium. That being said, you can make this terrarium with elements from a forest if you live near one, or just stop at your local craft store for the materials. If you're lazy like me and need to order everything, I will create for you a list that you can purchase everything off of Amazon.

*disclaimer - This article may contain affiliate links. If you click on an image and purchase from Amazon, I will receive a commission with no extra cost to you. I will never recommend a product that I don't stand by and believe to be useful. Thanks for the support!

easter terranium.jpg

Materials:

Glass bowl - A fishbowl (first image) would work just fine and is your least expensive option but I also included some more options.

Wood Chips

Moss and Sticks - This include some natural wood which would fit nicely as well.

easter terranium 2.jpg

White Stones

White Bird Feathers - I bet you anything you have a feather pillow laying around. Pick a few from there and you're all set!

Robin Eggs - I have real ones, but those can run you more money. Here are some plastic guys that look pretty real. Don't go stealing any from nests nearby ;-)

Flowers - This one you will obviously have to go to your local gardening center. The more delicate, the better. you also want something that is growing in its own little pot. Bulbs are probably the most sturdy to work with. I am a little embarrassed because I don't know what these are called in English, but you can get an idea from the picture. 

Music Sheets

I understand that not everyone has this laying around, so you can easily rip out some pages of a book you got from someone that you will never read and burn the edges to make it look vintage.

 

directions

1. add wood chips

2. put in your flower pot

3. arrange moss, sticks, and stones in laters around the pot. 

4. end your layering with moss, and put on your eggs, feathers, and paper strips.

 

Viola! Now you have yourself a beautiful table decoration for Easter! 

easter terr.jpg
 Easter Egg hanging Decor

Easter Egg hanging Decor

 Easter table setting decor

How to Keep Your Blonde Hair From Looking Yellow - Blonde Hair Secrets From a Hairstylist

Want the secret to keeping that expensive blonde highlight you just got at the salon from looking yellow?

Here are a few tips without needing to make a toning appointment every two weeks. 

 Secrets to a beautiful blonde tone for your hair

If you aren't a natural blonde and need a little help getting that beautiful creamy blonde tone with some highlights, then this article is for you. Do you know that moment about a week after you get your highlight at the salon and you start to realize that gorgeous shade of blonde you left with is slowly turning yellow? Yikes! Don't panic. It's so normal. If you aren't a natural blonde, this happens pretty quickly, but there is hope to having it stay the tone you want without making another hair appointment. But here are some things to consider to make sure it isn't the hairstylist's fault. 

If your hair is yellow from the moment you leave the salon, it's the hairstylist's fault and you will not be able to apply these tips. 

Make sure your stylist knows what she is doing when it comes to highlighting hair that is not naturally blonde. I can't stress this enough. It's always your best bet to go to someone recommended by another person with good-looking blonde hair, otherwise, you could have an expensive disaster on your hands.

*disclaimer - This article may contain affiliate links. If you click on an image and purchase from Amazon, I will receive a commission with no extra cost to you. I will never recommend a product that I don't stand by and believe to be useful. Thanks for the support!

Here are a few tips that might be helpful in choosing a stylist.

  1. Try and find someone who is experienced with blondes. Not only with highlighting but working with clients who aren't naturally blonde. Word of mouth from someone you trust and who's blonde hair looks good is always the best.
  2. Ask them to take very small sections or weaves for each highlight. Too much hair in the foil will not turn out consistent and probably won't lift to the shade you want.
  3. Make sure you show her a picture of the specific blonde you want, down to the tone or shade. Pictures will always help your stylist know what you want.
  4. If her hair looks bad, so will yours.
  5. See if she uses Olaplex or a similar product that is a two-step process put in the color lifter to decrease damage done. If she doesn't, you can also buy your own and bring it for her to use. You might actually save money in the long run if you do this. 

My anti-yellow blonde hair formula

Kevin Murphy has always been a favorite product of mine as a stylist. They have so many natural ingredients, with essential oils that give nutrients and shine to your hair. You don't have to use very much to get the results, so a little goes a long way here.

kevin murphy

Buying in bulk is a better way to go. These suckers are expensive, but they will last you for about a year! In the end, you save money! Leave on the conditioner for a few minutes if things are looking really yellow and rinse with cold water!

Shea Moisture - oh the miracles of Apple cider vinegar

I usually rotate and use my expensive shampoo & conditioner every other time with a less expensive product. But just because it's less expensive, doesn't mean it's less productive. Shea Moisture is one of my favorite hair and beauty products. Not only do they use natural ingredients that work, they are affordable! I also include a mask once a week to keep the blonde moisturized

Keune Blonde Enhancing Mousse

Last but not least, this blonding mousse by Keune will be sure to tie up any loose ends on the yellow side of things. Just be careful! I usually had to put it in when my hair was pretty wet and then comb it through. If you don't you could get uneven tones and possibly a purple spot. Don't worry, it rinses out in the next shampoo, or put a little water on any spots that seem yellow.

I hope these are some helpful pointers in keeping your blonde hair looking radiant!

 Keep your blonde hair from turning yellow with these 5 things!

Identifying the Lies You Believe - Week Two of Gaining Confidence in a Critical Environment

 how to discern lies from truth

week two 

Identifying the Lies You Believe

Hello and welcome to week two of my six-week series, Gaining Confidence in a Critical Environment. Last week we touched on some important steps to experience healing from your past. If you haven't read or gone through it, I would encourage you to take a look and see if your past is something that has played a role in your insecurity and self-doubt. 

Part of this process will include identifying the areas in which are hindering us in experiencing true freedom and joy in who we are. Many of you already know that our feelings, emotions, and actions link directly to our thoughts. Sometimes our thoughts bring about feelings and sometimes our feeling bring about thoughts. In order to learn how to better understand ourselves and see who we truly are, we need to first eliminate the lies we believe that sometimes come from those thoughts or feelings. Lets first refer to some scripture. As I have said in last week's post, much of what I discuss here has a lot to do with my belief in God. Feel free to email me if you have any questions or comments on the matter. 

"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." -Philippians 4:8

This is one of my favorite verses. I know that God has created me as an emotional, sensitive, and creative person. I know he has created me to think and to reason. To have emotion and feelings. To utilize my talents for his glory. I know that he knows me better than I know myself. Every thought and action I have ever have and will have won't go unnoticed by him. It is why I trust that he gave me this verse to take seriously. Even though I have all of these wonderful capabilities because of how he created me, I also know that my heart is at times deceptive. How do I know that? Because time after time I have given into my emotions and feelings, which has lead me to believe lies about myself and others. I know it is a very popular idea in this world, that we should always listen to our hearts, and do whatever your heart is leading us to do. That's great and all, but what if your heart is telling you to kill yourself or someone else? What if you are so overcome by anger that your heart feels like abusing your children? Just because we feel something, and our heart is expressing itself, doesn't mean we should act on it. This is why it is vital to filter our feelings and emotions and begin to identify the thoughts that aren't true. Now, as I have said in last weeks post, it is also important when we take something away, like our negative thoughts, we need to then put something else on. Like this verse, we need to think about things that are true, noble, lovely and so on. It will do us no good to tell ourselves, "stop thinking that way." We can't. It will take time and effort to begin to change our way of thinking. We need a plan and a strategy.

Let's begin our take action section with identifying exactly the things we believe that aren't true. 

*disclaimer - This article may contain affiliate links. If you click on an image and purchase from Amazon, I will receive a commission. I will never recommend a product that I don't stand by and believe to be useful. Thanks for the support!

Take action

Identifying what ISN'T true about you

Have you ever looked in the mirror one day and thought to yourself, 'I am so ugly.' But then on another day you looked in that same mirror and thought, 'I look so good!' As women, not only do our hormones play a role in how we feel about and see ourselves, (I wrote a little on that matter here) but also the lies that we have unintentionally ingrained in our minds. Feelings, which lead to thoughts, in and of themselves are not a bad thing. It's when they lead to lies, we need to step in and take action. Feelings are a signal to your body to acknowledge that something is happening that needs a reaction, whether good or bad. We then have a choice in what we will do with that feeling if we are in a healthy headspace. Sometimes there are situations in which one feels hopeless and helpless when it comes to being able to make good decisions when our feelings are out of whack. They are incapable of knowing how to filter reality from deception. I have been there, and I know how difficult it is. If you feel this way, please seek help. It's okay to admit we need someone else's help in knowing what exactly it is that is going on in our bodies. For me, it was hormonal, which was something I didn't have control over. What I am discussing here is for those of you who are able to filter healthily what thoughts are good and bad. If you can't do that, know that it's okay. But also know you don't have to be stuck there. Many times I have struggled and been entrapped in the feelings of depression. It took someone else's loving hand to guide me in the right direction, but you also have to be willing. 

The first step in identifying those lies for me begins with prayer. When I have a thought come up that makes me fearful or angry, it helps when I ask God to show me if that thought is truth. The next step is what I am about to show you, but I first want you to go through these questions and answer them the best you can. They might be helpful in identifying what the lies are. Last week we worked on our past and what areas might be causing us to feel insecure. Now I want you to keep those things in mind as you answer, and realize that how we have thought about our past has everything to do with feelings of insecurity in our present.

1. Write down how you see yourself physically, such as your weight, looks, hair, etc. 

2. Write down how you see yourself as a person, such as your personality, social skills, knowledge, education, job. 

3. Are you a person who likes to please others and will do whatever it takes to gain their approval? 

4. Are you afraid that you will fail in life?

5. Write down the specific thoughts you have in correlation to these questions and begin to form a list of the unhealthy thoughts you have about yourself or others. If it is a feeling that brings forth thoughts of inadequacy, fear, jealousy, etc., then it is most likely a lie. Again, pray and ask God to dig deep in your heart so that you can unveil these deeply seeded lies you've been believing. 

A New Perspective

Keep in mind all of those thoughts you have and lies you believe as we move on to the next section. The most important thing for me to understand if I want to see myself how I was meant to be seen, is to fully understand who God is, so that we can begin to replace those lies with truth. So often we come up with our own version of who God is instead of relying on a source that is trustworthy. I know that there is a lot going around about truth whatever you want it to be. In my opinion, this is dangerous and makes truth seem like something that is interchangeable. Since how we think about ourselves has proven to be fallible, how can our view of God or anything for that matter be true? If we are so prone to believe whatever our emotions want to believe how can we trust ourselves to think we know anything about God just from how we feel? We need a source. I believe that source is the Bible. Sure, it's offensive and sometimes confusing. It's a topic of mockery and thought by many that those of us who believe it are stupid and uneducated. I'm okay with letting them think that. Part of this process is to discover that caring how others think of you, especially in what you believe, will only hinder you in your journey to overcome insecurity. If I were on the outside looking in on this "religion" called Christianity, I would be very confused. It is sad and unfortunate the way many of us Christians have failed the world in showing others who Christ really is. It is important to know that as Christians we aren't perfect, and the last person you should depend upon to get a REAL glimpse of who God is, is a Christian. Sure, we strive to show the world who God really is, and sometimes we succeed and are  good examples, but you will only truly know him by opening the Bible and reading it for yourself. What better way to get to know someone then by opening their diary, reading their love stories and their hearts poured out onto the pages. That is how we should read the Bible. As if it were Gods diary.

Let's get back to who God is by figuring out what IS true about you.

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 how to become your own lie detector test

Identifying what IS true about you

  • God is Love

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son. That whosoever believes in him will not perish, but have everlasting life."   John 3:16

"But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness."  Psalm 86:15 

"Through him, we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."  Romans 5:2-5

and that's just the tip of the iceberg of how much he loves us.

  • God wants us to be real with him

There have been so many moments in my life where I have been angry with God. When I have cried out to him in bewilderment as to why something is happening in my life.Those moments usually become a turning point in my life. I'm not completely sure, but I think it's because God just wants me to be real with him. He wants to hear my feelings and emotions. He wants every part of me, and when I hold back and try and put on a facade that I have all my shit together, he can see right through it. He doesn't want perfection. He wants my love and obedience to him. he wants my heart, and not just a "sure yeah, I believe in God," but every nook and cranny that I've hidden my emotions in. Whoeve said that our God isn't someone who wants to listen to our feelings and cries for help? If you read Psalms, you will know that David was a very emotional person, and cried out to God in every kind of way. 

"3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him, we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory."

- Ephesians 1:3-14

What more could we ask for? If you are like me and have experienced the highs, the lows, and all the in-betweens, you will know that life in this world has everything to offer, yet nothing at all. We are bombarded with the world telling us we aren't good enough. That we need to get on a certain diet to be a certain weight, look a certain way, read another self-help book, meditate more and the list goes on. It's funny because the world will also tell you that Christianity will only make you feel guilty and ashamed to be you. How contradictory is that? Sure, some Christians are judgmental, but some atheists are also judgemental. I'm pretty sure all of us have been judgmental at some point in our lives. That's exactly why I don't look to other Christians to see my worth, but only in the word of God. Has anything up until now offered you something that is actually freeing you from yourself and the standard that everyone has around you, or does it offer finding within yourself the answers? I don't have the answers for myself! God help me if I ever rely on myself to get myself out of the many snares I have created. I have tried and still do from time to time, but I always land back at the reality that I cannot do this life on my own. Not to say that there aren't also things you can do physically or mentally to help you feel more confident about yourself. Working out and eating right is definitely a great thing for the health of your body, and is only taking care of what God has given you, but it shouldn't stop there. 

Take action

What can we relpace the lies with?

Go back to the list you made of the lies you might be believing that cause insecurity and self-doubt. For every thought you have that is a lie, come up with a thought you would like to replace it with. New thoughts will most likely come up daily. Have a journal handy by your bed, and before you go to sleep, keep up on what those bad thoughts were. Write them down and then keep thinking of counter-thoughts you can replace them with, and dwell on the good thoughts. Sometimes it's just replacing a bad thought with gratitude and naming things you are thankful for.

With time, those thoughts will start to change, and you will begin to have victory in filtering your thoughts and feelings that are taking captive your precious mind. I would love to know if this is helping you. Maybe you aren't the one struggling, but your partner or a friend. Feel free to share this with others who could benefit from it. 

In Summary

By knowing who we are in Gods eyes, and how much he loves us will help us replace the lies with truth. In order to do this, we need to get to know him more. The more we know him, the more we will be able to see ourselves how we were meant to be seen. Remeber this, if anything else. God loves you, just the way you are. But he also loves you enough to know you don't need to stay where you are, in a thought process that is filled with lies, opposing his truth. 

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Easter Bunny DIY Decoration - On Natural Wood

easter bunny pin.jpg

DIY Easter Bunny Decoration for your home!

Simple, affordable, and easy

 

I love making something for the holidays that are classic and can be used year after year. This project has even more to offer than that. I turned my Christmas decor into my Easter decor, just by turning it over! Let me show you what I mean.

This was my Christmas project from a few years back. I thought of a way to utilize them for more than once a year. 

File Mar 20, 11 40 57 AM.jpg

I had a bit of trouble finding a picture of a rabbit that was simple and easy to do, so I ended up just googling "fairytale rabbits" and came up with some ideas. 

Here is the clean slate that I started with on the opposite side of my trees.

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I then drew out my bunny freestyle. I know a lot of you can't do this, so I attached a great stencil you could get beforehand to help make things easier. I wish I would have done mine this way, but I got impatient ;-) If you can't find similar wooden slabs to mine just lying around, I gave a few ideas here for something you could purchase.

*disclaimer - This article may contain affiliate links. If you click on an image and purchase from Amazon, I will receive a commission. I will never recommend a product that I don't stand by and believe to be useful. Thanks for the support!

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After I first put the idea down with pencil, I then painted over it with white paint. Depending on the texture of your wood, it can be hard to get straight lines. I didn't mind mine being a little jagged, but if you want straighter lines, you can get these awesome painting pens which will help keep it a bit cleaner. I also added some gold highlights to make it more interesting. 

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There you have it! You can adjust this however you like to make it your own. 

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I did an egg decor DIY project last week, and a wooden candleholder project a month ago, so I combined the three and had myself a nice little Easter fairytale display. All I have to do for Christmas is flip it on over!

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Healing From Your Past - Week One of Gaining Confidence in a Critical Environment

Healing From Your Past

About

Welcome to week one of the six-week series for learning how to overcome insecurity and gain confidence in a world that is constantly telling us we are not enough. This series is for those of you who struggle with insecurity, self-worth, and the symptoms that come along with that like depression, jealousy, anxiety and not experiencing joy or peace in your life. I am not a licensed counselor or psychologist. This series is advice from my personal experiences while adding inspiring stories from a few other women. I do not claim to know everything and would love to be held accountable if there is something you see wrong in what I am saying. Feel free to email me personally, and we can discuss it further.

I struggle with insecurity on a daily basis, so I’m not coming from a place of “I have overcome this," but rather because I know how detrimental it can be I can say, “I am doing something about this.” I also come from a place of wanting to help other women know what to do with those emotions that are evoked from our past. When these things were and are applied to my life, it has helped me to see myself how I was meant to be seen.

Before we begin, you should know that this advice is based on my faith in God. If you do not believe in God, I think you can also learn something here as these aren’t only spiritual steps, but practical things that can help everyone, whether you believe in God or not. That being said, let’s dive in! I hope you can learn something. Feel free to email me or comment and let me know if there is something specific that you might want to know from me. It may be helpful to print this out so you can keep it in your journal, or someplace you can have it handy and always refer to.

What is insecurity and why is one prone to struggling with it more than another?

Insecurity uncertainty or anxiety about oneself; lack of confidence.

We are all susceptible to feeling insecure, but there are those of us who struggle with it more often than others. Why? Is it because we were raised a certain way? Is it because of our past and current circumstances? Maybe it’s because we have done it to ourselves by continually believing lies. I believe it is a combination of all of those things. Let’s start with the past.

Healing from your past

Our past is part of what makes us who we are, but it shouldn’t define us. We still have a choice in our present to not let the negative things from our past continue to steal our peace and joy. If you have had trauma or abuse in any way that you haven’t healed from, or if you struggle with suicidal thoughts and have not sought professional help, please do that. Call 911, a counselor, or someone you trust to help you work through those things, especially before you begin this series. Reading this article can assist you in your journey, but if you are at a place right now where you are feeling hopeless, please go and find help. It is nothing to be ignored or shoved down. Your feelings are valid, and it is best to deal with them in a healthy environment where you feel safe.

That being said, yes we have a choice, but it may sometimes take the help of someone else or even medication to bring us to that point. Only a professional will know, so again, please see one if you are severely struggling.

It is essential you go through this series in a healthy headspace; otherwise, it could be counterproductive and cause you to sink deeper.

So, back to our past. Right now, you have a choice to stop letting your negative past dictate your joy, happiness, and peace in the present. How do we do that? Let’s do a little project.

Take action

Identifying excess baggage

This will be your part in taking action to identify the things that might still be affecting you from your past. Do this when you have a quiet moment by yourself as to eliminate distractions. Write down in a journal or a piece of paper and answer these few questions. Remember, the goal here is to identify things that are causing you to feel insecure about yourself. If you believe in God, I would encourage you to first pray and ask for him to show you what could be hidden deep inside that you aren’t aware of. It is important to be as specific as possible.

1.     Is there something that has happened in relation to how you look or who you are from your past that has caused insecurity in your life, such as being bullied for made fun of for a certain physical feature? Try and dig deep to name those things, the people who did them, and how it made you feel.

2.     Was your family environment a place you felt safe and comfortable to be yourself in? If not, express how you couldn’t be yourself and how that made you feel.

3.     If applicable, has your past experiences with being abused, molested or raped caused you to think less of yourself?

4.     Is there a specific hurt or wound inflicted on you from someone you care about, like them having an affair, or being emotionally or physically abusive? Write down those hurts and how they make you feel.

5.     Do you think that your past has caused you to become insecure about yourself? If so, why?

6.     How often do you find yourself dwelling on the past, reliving pain someone has caused you or thinking about something someone has said about your physical appearance? Write it down, if you know, to the times/day and days/week.

7.     How do you see yourself physically? Do you see yourself as someone described by someone else who has hurt you from your past? For example, someone from high school made fun of me and said I had a big nose. To this day, I still struggle with thinking that there is something wrong with my nose. Before that point, I thought my nose was just fine. Write down any negative ways you see yourself because of someone else’s hurtful words.

8.     Do you see yourself as less than (beauty, talent, smarts) others? In what ways?

Okay, now that you have identified some things from your past write down anything else that may be hindering you from seeing yourself in a positive light.

Now, I want to share a story of a woman that who inspired me a few months back. I was having one of those days where nothing looked right, felt right, fit right. I was sinking, and fast, into the thoughts that align with thinking I am not good enough.

I opened up Facebook and caught sight of a video with the headline “She Was Named the Ugliest Woman Alive.” I was immediately overcome with so many feelings that I can’t even begin to describe. This woman was born with a rare condition that keeps her from gaining weight, no matter how much she eats. It causes her to look different from the “norm,” and why she was named the ugliest woman alive. Her parents instilled in her a belief that she was perfect and there was absolutely nothing wrong with her. She believed it until she was met with relentless bullying of others at school. Today she is known for her optimism when staring cruelty in the face and has become a motivational speaker and advocate for anti-bullying. Her book, Lizzie Beautiful: The Lizzie Velasquez Story, as well as a few others, tell her story and how her faith has brought her through to where she is today. I encourage you to search for her on YouTube and watch what she has to say.

This is a strong woman, and in the direst of circumstances, she has decided to believe what God thinks about her is true, instead of what the world does. She is a beautiful example of what it means to live a full and joyous life, in spite of your circumstances and someone we can all learn from. Her past does not define her. Hurtful words do not define her. She is defined by her identity in her creator, because in his eyes she is perfect. In his eyes, you are perfect, just the way you are. Your flaws, your mistakes you’ve made, your past, present, and future. In his eyes, nothing will change the way he thinks about you. Isn’t that incredible?

My belief in God has a lot to do with the next steps of healing from your past. Look at these steps however you would like, and apply them how you see fit. If you’re wanting to know more about God and his love for you, email me privately and I would love to try and answer any questions you might have. 

Wouldn’t it be great to be free of our insecurity, fear, and everything that stems from that? I believe you can. It’s probably nothing that will ever go away completely, but you can do what it takes to take those feelings and filter them healthily so that you are no longer shackled by them.

So how do we begin to believe that for ourselves? How do we heal from our past to live in the present and trust God for our future (mother's wisdom)? Let's take a look at what you’ve written down and see if we can work through some of those things that are holding you back.

Healing from your past through forgiveness

Take Action

Take those questions you answered earlier. Now make another list and start with number one again.

1.     Whatever you wrote down, it’s time to try and forgive. Forgive the person who has hurt you. Say it out loud or write it down. Who they are, what they have done, even if they never asked for forgiveness, and choose to forgive. Forgiveness is a choice that is sometimes accompanied by "feeling like it," but most likely you won’t feel like doing it. With time those feelings will start to align with that very conscious choice. It will no longer have power over you. If you are living in unforgiveness of someone, you give them the upper hand. It is hurting you more than anyone else.

2.     If you have written something here, I believe this is one of the most important steps. If you have tried to live your life trying to be someone you aren’t, or trying to please your parents, siblings, or friends, then this could be a huge step in overcoming insecurity as it is deep-rooted and practiced since childhood. Someone I know has been very damaged by his relationship with his father. He always lived to please his dad, but in return, he never received approval for those things from him. This had left him scarred and insecure, not sure of who he is until he was able to FORGIVE and let that hold on him go. After forgiving his father, he was able to live in freedom, knowing he wasn’t accomplishing something just to please his dad. Forgiveness is again a vital part of healing and it is also important to see that what you do, you do it for the right reasons. For me, this is striving to live my life to glorify God and no one else. When I look at my life this way, it takes the pressure off to just be myself and live to please God. Not in a condemning be perfect kind of way, but because He loves me so much, I desire to love Him back. I know that even if I screw up, he will still love me and be pleased with me. In many cases, our desire to please our parents is the same, but our parents aren’t able to be perfect either. In essence, you are placing too much weight on yourself and your parent/s, or anyone else, to make you feel worthy. This can go for a husband/wife relationship as well.

3.     It's the best idea to seek professional help on this one if it's something you have been through. A woman I know was molested when she was young. She didn’t find out that it had happened until later in her life because of those memories surfacing. The process of healing was her being able to forgive the person that did that to her. Once again here, forgiveness is a big step to healing from even the most grievous of circumstances. Most likely your abuser will have never asked for forgiveness, but it will release you from your anger when you make that choice to forgive. Say it out loud or write it down. It is helpful in those moments when you feel that hurt rise up again.

4.     This is, unfortunately, a common occurrence in marriage, and it is also wise to seek counsel from an outside source, if not for both of you, then just for you. Many of you are still enduring it and are reminded of it day after day. If your spouse has had an affair, emotional or physical, it can be a detrimental blow to your confidence. Now that you have written those wounds down, forgiveness will play a huge role here as well. The most important step in overcoming your insecurity in this realm is to forgive. It will most likely come up again in feelings you can’t control which cause you to sink, but with time healing will begin and those moments will become less and less. Now, I want you to look at what you have written for this number, and put a big x through it. Next to it write, “Forgiven.” Leave the past in the past, and forgive even if not asked, because ultimately you are hurting yourself if you don’t. There is something about seeing that big X through it that will remind you that this person no longer has a grip on you. When those thoughts come up in your mind that you weren’t enough, practice turning those thoughts into ones that are true. Now I want you to make a list of all of the things you love about yourself. If you can’t think of anything because you are so hurt, then ask a friend or family member you trust to help you see those things and write them out. You can also look at these scripture verses that help you see yourself the way God see’s you. 2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 4:24, Ephesians 2:8, Matthew 5:14, Phillippians 2:15, Matthew 5:13, Romans 8:37, 1 Peter 2:9, John 15:16, Proverbs 18:21., and all of Psalm 139.

5.     Whatever you wrote here is probably the biggest reason as to why you are insecure. If you pray, then pray about it. Ask God to release you from this bondage and begin to understand why you think and feel the way you do. It was never his intention for you to feel this way. Ask him to help you see yourself the way that he sees you.

6.     This question will reveal to you just how much time it is you think about your insecurity. Try and tally that number up to know how many hours in a week you spend thinking about it. Sometimes becoming aware of how much time is spent dwelling on these things, you will become aware of the damage it can do, not only to your family who needs you but also to yourself. Don’t let this make you feel guilty or shamed. You are human and it’s completely normal. Just be aware and use it to help you make a change in your thought processes. I wrote an article about what negative thoughts do to the physical makeup of our brains. I referred to a woman, Dr. Caroline Leaf, who wrote a book called Switch on Your Brain. The more negative thoughts we have, the more we damage our brain and the harder it is to come back from it. Positive thoughts heal your brain and you can actually reverse the damage done. I don’t agree with everything she says, but it’s very informative and helpful to know that when you think a negative thought you are ultimately damaging your brain.

7.     So now you have dug a little deeper into how you think about yourself. Now, lets try and change that. From all of the things you have learned here, make a list. Name it “I am no longer a slave to insecurity and self doubt.” In this list I want you to include the names of the people you have forgiven and the ones you aren't able to yet. Write them down and if you have forgiven that person, write “forgiven” next to their name. Now write down from what you have discovered here all of the things you love about yourself. Your qualities, how God sees you, and who you want to become. Be specific. Write down your physical qualities that you love, your character qualities, your talents, your ambitions and passions. It is all apart of you, and it’s important to be aware of your beauty and the things you have to offer this world.

8.     If you compare yourself to others, then you are a part of 95% of the population. Most people do it, but that still doesn’t make it right. It only fuels that self doubt. So instead of comparing yourself, start thanking God. When a thought like that pops up, replace it with one that is true. For example, you have a thought like, ‘I wish my hair were as thick and long as hers.’ Replace it with. ‘Thank you, God, that you have made me beautiful just the way I am.’

In summary

Whenever we are putting off bad habits, thoughts, beliefs about ourselves, we then need something to replace it with. It’s not completing the whole task when we just try and forget something and put it in the past; we need to take another step in forgiveness and then put on truth, leaving the past in the past for good. Now that you have your plan written out, you can refer back to it. On the days you are feeling defeated, unworthy and insecure, go back to this list and remember who you are. The past is behind you and it will do you no good in reliving it. I guarantee, it will come up in your mind again, but now that you have some guidelines and truths written out, you can, with practice, begin to heal and put your past where it belongs. I am still on this journey, but I am living proof that the more you apply these things to your life, the more success you will have in healing. If you do nothing, you will be stuck in a reality that once was, and it’s possible that bitterness and resentment will rule your life. It's never too late to heal from your past.

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DIY Easter Egg Hanging Decoration

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DIY Easter Egg Hanging Decoration

Simple DIY Easter Decor in a few easy steps!

What I love about this decoration is that it is easily interchangeable. You can make it into whatever you want it to be by hanging little birds, or rabbits on it instead. Just add your creative touch and it will become your own version.  

Supplies Needed

1. Long Wooden Branch

2. Egg Decor of any kind

3. Fishing Line

4. Glue Gun or Super Glue

5. Scissors

6. Flexible Thin Wire

7. Two hooks for hanging

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2. Egg decor of any kind. I got mine in Germany, but I also found these felt eggs on Amazon as well as these really cute painted wooden eggs. You can really use anything you like, as well as your own homemade blown out eggs.  Click on the link and learn how. 

1. Long wooden branch - You can easily get one at Hobby Lobby or Michaels, as well as in a forest ;-) My son and husband like to carve wood, so we found one in the woods and they carved the bark off. 

 

 

 

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3. Fishing Line - I wanted them to be floating, but you could also use yarn or twine to hang the eggs. 

Fasten the string to the eggs. Since mine had twine already attached, I just threaded the fishing line through and cut off the twine. 

4. Glue Gun - Make sure you use extra glue from a glue gun or super glue to glue at the base of the string and the top of the egg. This will ensure the fishing wire doesn't come loose.

5. Scissors- cut off any excess fishing line or twine, but make sure you finish measuring where you want your eggs before this process.

*disclaimer - This article may contain affiliate links. If you click on an image and purchase from Amazon, I will receive a commission. I will never recommend a product that I don't stand by and believe to be useful. Thanks for the support!

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6. Flexible Thin Wire - With your wire tie a knot around each end of the wood. Mold your wire into loops that can hang from your ceiling hooks. There's my cat Bob getting fresh with the eggs.

pin and save for later!

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What I Found in my Belly Button...That Wasn't Lint

Pregnancy Humor 

Being pregnant for the first time can be quite trying. The first trimester you struggle with nausea, hemorrhoids, and mood swings, just to name a few. The second trimester you get a break from most of those things, except you start experiencing more physical struggles with your belly getting bigger and bigger. The third trimester, you get all of the symptoms from both the first and second, with a few added cherries on top. You know exactly what I'm talking about if you've ever been pregnant, unless you're one of those women who take on pregnancy like it's just another normal day in the life of you.

I'm going to tell you a story about a little treasure I found in an unexpected place. This article has no words of advice, but here's what I want to do with it. All of us women have embarrassing, crazy, and weird pregnancy stories. I would LOVE to hear them. So, I will tell you mine, and maybe it will give you a little laugh and encourage you to also share yours in the comments below. Here it goes.

I remember it like it was yesterday. My first pregnancy I was experiencing all kinds of things I never knew or thought could happen to my body. I don't make the most pleasant pregnant woman, and my husband can testify to that. Maybe you are one of those women as well, but you also know that even with all of the symptoms, once you hold your baby in your arms for the first time, it's all forgotten and forgiven. Every single sleepless night trying to soothe your hemorrhoids, peeing a tablespoon of pee every ten minutes, getting zits the size of grapes that never go away. It's all forgotten, and you can say with one hundred percent certainty, with all your heart, that it was all worth it.

Of all the things I experienced during my pregancy, this one was definitely the strangest. 

I am a person who loves to take nice, hot, long showers. Sure, it's expensive and irresponsibly earth unfriendly, but here's the thing. I don't care. If I can have twenty minutes alone, with hot water embracing me with its liquidy arms, I will take that over any session with a psychiatrist. It keeps me sane. I can think clearly, and when all those bad thoughts come out, they seem to wash away with the water, down the drain. 

To get to the point, showering while pregnant was especially important for me. Even though it did present its difficulties physically, like once I had sat down, I couldn't get up again. This is a picture resembling that problem.

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Even still, it was a daily routine I treasured. This particular evening, little did I know, my shower would bring about something very strange. A diamond in the rough, if you will. 

I walked out of the bathroom, to see my husband laying on the bed. I presented him with a tiny little pebble, the size of a pea, and asked him if he knew what it was all about. He gave me a look that expressed complete bewilderment.

So I said to him, "Do you know where I found this tiny little pebble after I took a shower?"

He said, "No. On the floor?"

"No." I said. "I found this little treasure inside my belly button."

"No way." He replied. 

"Yeah, and it gets weirder. I think it's been in there for who knows how long. Look here, I have a tiny little indent of where it came out. Like my skin formed around it. The only reason it came out is because my belly button is turning inside out. So, at some point in my life, this little pebble found it's way into my belly button, and made its home there for years!" 

He couldn't handle this one. We have never laughed so hard. 

I am guessing at some point when I was a child, I got tossed and turned by the waves on some family vacation, and somehow a pebble got lodged in my belly button. My skin then grew and formed around it, unbenounced to me. After the shower softening my skin in combination with my belly button turning inside out, it couldn't stay it its little home any longer. I wish it had somehow turned into a pearl, but I'm guessing since I don't have the mad skills of a clam, that's impossible. 

So, there you have it. What I found that day I put in a tiny little sample perfume bottle, and I now wear it everyday around my neck. Just kidding. That would be really weird. 

I would love to hear your pregnancy stories! Please, comment away.

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The Keys to Lasting Confidence - Six-Week Series to Gaining Confidence in a Critical Environment.

The Keys to a Lasting Confidence

Gaining confidence in something deeper

Starting March 15th!

One of the exclusive six-week series for women I will do here on Word From The Bird is called, Gaining Confidence in a Critical Environment. I'm always so encouraged by women who can live above this world's expectation of them and be who they are. I will be sharing with you some inspirational stories of other women who have experienced what it means to overcome insecurity. With it, I will include advice from my journey with insecurity and how to take steps in overcoming it. I want to help you be the woman you've always wanted to be and stop relying on others to make you see your worth. 

Honestly speaking, I don't believe that we as women can blame our society or even men for ingraining this deeply seeded insecurity in our minds of believing we are nothing more than how we look. They play a part, yes, but I want to dig a little deeper. This won't be your average approach on the matter.  When I look at what is going on with women today, I am astounded that the world is only now waking up to some of the dysfunctions of our sex-crazed culture and how women are being treated. The problem is, we are getting a little blame shifty. When I see women everywhere coming forward about their experiences, claiming #metoo and #timesup, I am saddened by it, because I know all too well how it feels. But shouldn't we also be addressing how the objectification of women has possibly played a role in that, and worst of all, that we as women have given into it? What is our solution, if how we decide to portray ourselves is exactly how men will see us, as objects? By that, I don't only mean women who are dancing around on stage wearing practically nothing at the Grammy's, but also those of us who think that changing who we are on the outside will somehow gain confidence in who we are on the inside. Those of us who think our worth lies in the hands of those we impress. We give into this mindset every single day, and you know it. So how can we rise above? The answer is, we have a choice. As much as I would love to blame everyone else around me for my insecurities or how the world sees women, I simply know that it won't help or change anything when it comes to overcoming my own battles. We need to start asking ourselves, what can help us change the way we are viewed and encourage others to see us how we were meant to be seen? As beautiful creatures who aren't defined only by outward appearance, but by our character's. God did not create you to be objectified, or insecure about who you are. He created you to be a warrior, and it all starts by not blaming anyone, including ourselves, but rather dealing with the root of our own personal issues from our past, our present, and how we view our future. Here are just a few examples of what we will be covering in this series.

Healing from your past through forgiveness

Recognizing your potential

Identifying the lies you believe

Changing how you see yourself

I will be the first to tell you that this isn't an easy journey. If it's a struggle of yours, it will most likely be apart of your life until you die. The only thing you can do is figure out what to do with it. We can't make men or our society change, but we can take responsibility for our actions, and be the women that we were created to be. It will take effort on your part, but if you'de like to follow along, get inspired by other women, and change how you see yourself in ways other than making your hair longer, or your butt tighter, then sign on up!  By subscribing to my email list you can journey with me in healing from the inside out and gain confidence, even in a critical environment. These will not be public posts, so in order to receive the series, you will have to subscribe to this imparticular email list. If you are already a subscriber to the weekly newsletters, go ahead and subscribe to this email list as well as it is a different list.

Take a step in becoming the woman you were meant to be. Stop trying to gain confidence from the outside in but rather from the inside out.

* Update - Weeks one and two now posted below!

Something else that might interest you from my blog!

Diva Cup - Why I Will Never Use A Tampon Again

 Diva Cup benefits, period awareness.

The Diva Cup and its benefits

Friends don't let friends use tampons

This story could quite possibly make you queasy, so if you have a weak stomach, or if you're a man, don't read any further.

*disclaimer - This article may contain affiliate links. If you click on an image and purchase from Amazon, I will receive a commission at no extra cost to you. I will never recommend a product that I don't stand by and believe to be useful. Thanks for the support!

One regular morning, a few days after my period I woke up to use the bathroom, but the smell I smelled, made it no longer a regular morning. The smell resembled death, at least what I think death would smell like. Rotten flesh, mixed with freshly risen dough. Was it a yeast infection? No. What could it be, I wondered. A few days went by and every time I used the bathroom, I was greeted by this unpleasant reminder, causing me to schedule a doctors appointment. I couldn't get into my OBGYN until the next week, so I did a few things to try and figure out what it was. To no avail, I was left dumbfounded, and started to worry. The smell only got worse. It must have been a miracle from God because I ended up talking my mother-in-law that week, and unusually mentioned what was going on. She said, "Maybe you forgot something up there?" "No way!" I said, shoving that idea aside until later that night. Perhaps she had a point, so I checked. Without going into any detail, she was right. I had forgotten a little something up there, and let me just say, it isn't normal that a tampon left to rot inside of someone for a week wouldn't cause Toxic Shock Syndrom (TSS). I have since read articles of various women who have horror stories, to say the least, of what this can actually do to you. I am fortunate I didn't lose my life, or even my legs, like this poor soul.  I'm only posting this to make you aware of how careful you need to be when it comes to this. Thankfully, God has given me a second chance, which provoked me to look further into tampons and why I should possibly convert to the Diva Cup

A woman's menstrual cycle is no longer a hush-hush subject and rightfully so. You can read other information I have written in this article, encouraging PMS health, written for those of you who suffer from PMDD, linked with depression. There are also great book recommendations for overall PMS health in there.

Once you get over the first initial "ew" of using the Diva Cup, you get used to it. You also need to follow strict procedures in cleaning them. The time has come to get your hands a little dirty and switch on over. These are the benefits I have experienced. 

  • Go all day long without needing to empty the Diva Cup. 

I used to think that when I had my period, I must have bled an entire gas tank's worth for the duration of my cycle. Wrong! You'll actually will be surprised how little we do bleed.

  • Feel comfortable traveling for long periods of time.

This goes along with not having to switch these suckers out much. 

  • Save money!

Tampons are SO expensive. Diva cups last for a few years!

  • Possibly save your life! And your legs.

Don't lose your legs, lose your tampons! That may be a bit dramatic, but still.

There is one thing to consider as with putting in tampons. Close the door and lock it as to not make your spouse think you just murdered someone if they walk in on you washing blood down the sink. Sorry for the gory details. The closed door will also help with the suction sound creeping anyone out. Trust me, I learned this one the hard way.

Good luck with your new endeavor! It really is a better option in my opinion.

The Period Repair Manual

By the way, here is a great book about PMS Health, and how to lessen your symptoms naturally! These are great tips that have helped me both mentally and physically!

Fennel Prosciutto and Melon Salad

Fennel Prosciutto and Melon Salad Recipe

When we went on our last trip to Elba, we made a sailing trip provided at the harbor about 10 min from our Airbnb. Included on this all day adventure was a delicious meal, cooked by our very own Captain of the sailboat. He was a simple man, from Parma (where Parmesan cheese came from) and cooked us his family recipes, learned from only the best…his Italian mother. It’s not like this was anything complicated or time-consuming, but like all Italian food, it was simple and honestly delicious. It was a fennel salad. In and of itself, fennel has a particular taste that is hard to compliment but paired with the right things; it comes alive.

I am going to show you how to make my version of the salad. His was pretty straightforward, which paired well with our pasta and sauce he made with it. I tried something a little more sustainable as to make it a whole, light, and healthy meal in and of itself.

 Fennel Prosciutto and Melon Salad

Fennel Prosciutto and Melon Salad

Fennel Prosciutto and Melon Salad

Inspired by the Captain of the Mediterranean seas.

Ingredients

Serves: 2

Time: 20 min

Salad:

1 fennel stalk

½ green melon, sliced thinly

125 g (about 2 bundles) of Endive salad (This adds a little bitterness to the mix)

150 g Prosciutto

5 sprigs of mint

¼ c walnuts

Creamy Walnut Vinaigrette:

2 tsp walnut oil

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp (or to taste) applew cider vinegar

2 tsp honey

1 tsp dijon mustard

1 tsp horseradish

1 tbsp crème fresh or mayonnaise

salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions 

Slice the fennel, endive, and melon into long thin slices. Layer all the different ingredients on top of one another, and top with walnuts. Drizzle with your vinaigrette and decorate with sprigs of mint. Serve with a dry, crisp white wine. 

 

 

Dream Session - Michelle Obama, Wonder Woman and Scuffed Boots

Pregnancy is the best when it comes to dreaming. I could probably write a book of dreams that would only be funny to me myself and I, but I'm going to go out on a ledge here and hope that you think this one is funny as well. For some reason, it turned very political, but I will try and leave that part out of it. 

So, I'm five months pregnant at this very moment I'm writing this, and let me just tell you a little bit about my sleeping situation. My husband refers to it as my pregnancy throne, but to me, it's so much more. It's my nest. My shelter from the storm. What makes it so special is the pregnancy pillow that nestles me ever so softly as I drift off to dreamland. 

That's not me, but she looks really comfortable as well, especially since she's just floating there.

Anyway, I am ever so grateful for my pillow, but no matter what I do in efforts to get relief from my pregnancy insomnia, I just don't sleep deep anymore. It leads to weird dreams and angry mornings. 

My Dream

So, like any dream, it didn't make one bit of sense, so of course, it all started with Michelle Obama. She was there, and apparently was my friend, which is cool I guess. Sometimes in my dreams, I am me, but I'm not me. Does that make sense? I don't know how else to explain it. 

There I was or wasn't. I don't know, some version of me was there. I was watching myself like a movie and it was Halloween for some reason. I wasn't married and didn't have children like my life now, but I was single, fit, happy, full of life and energy. I was Wonder Woman. For real, I was Wonder Woman for Halloween. Anyway, I was on a mission from the gods. On a mission to find my Wonder Woman boots. They were something, those boots. Not only because they were impossible to find, but because they didn't look anything like the actual Wonder Woman boots but in fact just like the brown, scuffed, worn out boots that I wear almost every day in real life. So there I was arm and arm with this guy I used to work with. I looked at him and said, "The time has come for me to go find my boots so that we (a whole bunch of random people) can go Trick or Treating." He looked irritated like this was something I should have already done and the whole world was at risk because of it, but I didn't care, so I left to go find my boots. This is where things got real weird with my friend Michelle. I found myself in this warehouse full of, you guessed it, boots. You know the part in the Matrix where they show the field of all of those growing egg baby pod things? Yeah, it was like that, but full of boots. They weren't on shelves, but rather on scaffolding that was really high off the ground, and it was endless. I remember having this feeling like, I've got this because I'm Wonder Woman, but at the same time I was me, so it was a confliction in the feeling of capability. I knew that I, Hillary Hand, couldn't possibly find those boots, but Wonder Woman could. Was I actually Wonder Woman, or just her for Halloween? Don't know. I just was.

I started looking for those stupid boots and got distracted by this woman who appeared to be Michelle Obama. Low and behold it was Michelle Obama, also looking for boots. It's so crazy because I'm really not making this up. This dream was as vivid as real life almost. Michelle was dressed quite alarmingly, and I have an exact account of what it looked like in my brain. It's still there. She was wearing a lavender colored fluffy sweater, the kind that shimmers, with an outline in rhinestones of a kitty face on the front. Then, she had on jeans from the nineties, which might have been in style last month, I don't know. You know, the kind that has the pleats in the front and they are whitewashed with pockets on your lower back instead of on the bum? Yeah those. Then she had a very angular short bob haircut that resembled the wigs that secret agent spies wear to disguise themselves. I almost forgot. She was wearing the most ridiculous loafers you've ever seen. No socks, just loafers with tassels. Something like Tom Selleck would wear.

I remember in my dream having the thought, 'What is she doing here and what is she dressed up as for Halloween? An eleven-year-old homeschooler?' I can say that because I was homeschooled. No judgment, just observations of my past. I ended up starting up a conversation and it went something like this. 

"Hey Michelle," because we were already friends, "What are you dressed up as?"

She responded "Oh hey, yeah! I'm poor."

"What?" 

"Yeah, I'm dressed up as a poor person."

What did she mean and how offensive was that!?

"Um, where did you get your outfit?"

"At the ARC." 

"OH!" I responded, "I love the ARC." forgetting how wildly inappropriate it was that Michelle Obama was dressed up as a poor person for Halloween. 

Then I woke up to my son saying, "hey guys?" Which is what he says every morning, provoking a "hey buddy" right back. Very delicately he says, "I'm hungry, you know that?" 

"Okay, I'll be there in a minute."

"Okay" he says. "Can I play video games?"

"NO!!!!"

The Best Way to Travel Through Colorado and the Rocky Mountains

 Camping, adventure, travel, rocky mountains, pop up tent, colorado.

Adventure begins with this baby

I can't tell you enough how incredible this trip was. If you're traveling to Colorado and you want to know a little bit about what to do and where to go, then this is your stop. Colorado is in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, and when it comes to adventure travel, it's your place to go. Not only because you can hide away and not see a single soul for days, but also because there is just so much to do, while not having to spend money at campgrounds, or go where the tourists are. It is our dream to live in one of these suckers for a year and explore the Rocky Mountains, even beyond Colorado, but until we can do that, we had to settle for a sweet little taste by renting one for five days. And the best five days it was!

We started by making arrangements at this place in Denver called Adventure Travel Sports Rental. Disclaimer. It's not cheap. You pay for the rigged up monster you can literally climb rocks with, like ours here, but they also have a bit more modest and less expensive options. We booked about six months in advance, and even that was a bit tricky. I would book as early as you possibly can, especially if it's a summer trip you're planning. You can see all of the amenities on the website for each vehicle, but ours imparticular had everything we needed except food, clothes, etc.

If you're flying in from out of town, Denver would be the city you fly in to. It wouldn't be difficult to take an uber from the airport to their location in Golden, Colorado. If you're driving in, then talk to them about where a good place to leave your car for the duration of your travels. 

First things first when you go on trips like this. What do you bring?

I found it a bit tricky to know how to pack, so I've made a list here for you so you can plan ahead a bit better than I did. 

What to bring for one week- The necessities

Food and Drink

Thanks to all of the quaint little mountain towns along our trip, we were able to stop at various grocery stores along the way, so we weren't too worried about stocking up on every single thing. Our sports vehicle had a fridge, but a small one, so we brought a big cooler to compensate. If you need to make a refreshments stop before you head out towards the mountains, try our one-stop liquor shop, Tipsy's Liquor World. It's quite an attraction with every single version of local beers your heart could desire as well as every other kind of wine or spirit you might want. Water would also be among the important things to get.

Now for the food. We wanted to make our culinary situation as simple as possible, but at the same time, we were trying a vegan diet, so it made things a bit more complicated. We ended up deferring to Hobo meals, aka, various veggies, beans, and whatever you like (even meat and cheese if you're not vegan) wrapped in tin foil and thrown into the hot coals of your campfire to cook. Now, before you plan on having a fire, make sure you check the fire dangers for whatever county you travel to here. With Colorado being as fickle with weather changes as it is, it's likely that something can change from one day to the next. Just be prepared food-wise for something like that. Thankfully we were safe to have fires and made variations of these bad boys the entire trip. I'm going to list off some yummy things you can throw in them to give you a head start.

Hobo Meals for camping

  • potatoes- reg. or sweet
  • red onions
  • zucchini
  • corn
  • eggs
  • italian sausage
  • cheese
  • red/green peppers
  • tomatoes
  • broccoli
  • rice (something you can bring pre-cooked
  • quinoa
  • bulgar (my favorite)

The list could go on. We season with olive or veggie oil, salt, and pepper, then wrap in two layers of tin foil and cook for about 30 min. You can get as fancy or as simple as you want. We loaded all of our cooked ingredients in a giant tortilla, poured some hot sauce on it, and had ourselves an easy and healthy meal along with an ice cold local brewed beer. What is better than that!?

Campfire Breakfasts - Courtesy of our dear friends

  • oatmeal bulk mix (prepared beforehand) - rolled oats, chia seeds, flax seeds, shaved almonds
  • peanut butter
  • honey
  • boiling water

Add all ingredients together in a bowl and let sit for 5 minutes. Add milk if desired.

On this rigged up vehicle, they have everything you need for a fully loaded kitchen, so you can pretty much cook whatever. We also had meals like pasta and sauce or baked potatoes. 

 

Where we went - Our mapped out tour

Our first stop was Mc Cullough Gulch Rd., near Quandary Peak. Quandary Peak is a fourteener, so if you're feeling fit, there is that. We set up camp there for the following two nights. The first day we ventured out to do a hike called McCollough Gulch Trail. It was beautiful but full of tourists. I would say it's worth it if you don't mind other friendly hikers around. This location, in general, was a lot more polulated then we had hoped for. It's just a preference thing, but just so you know the details.

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Our second day in this area, we headed towards Quandary Peak to this sweet spot but weren't quite fit enough to take on that high altitude fourteener. We settled for a smaller hike called Monte Cristo Gulch, where we saw these guys.

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Apparently, there are minerals in the dirt they just can't get enough of. It was entertaining, to say the least, watching goats lick dirt for about two hours while we ate our leftover hobo meals from the night before. I'm not being sarcastic either.

From there we said goodbye to our friends who came along for the first two nights and continued down South through Fairplay, and a little deeper West into the mountains on County Road 22. There was literally NO ONE there (which is what we were looking for) except a bear running at full speed down the road in front of our SUV. Yep, watch out for bears! It's important in Colorado to follow procedures with keeping food up at night, etc. You can find all the information you need on it here. They are typically more afraid of you then you are of them. No grizzlies, thank goodness! Just black and brown bears which are considered fairly safe. Here is a picture of where we stopped for the night, right by a little creek. If we had known about these amazing little hideaway camping spots, we would have probably come here the first two nights and stayed along County Road 22. No one there, and much more to explore, as well as great four-wheeling spots to utilize with the massive rock climber you paid a pretty penny for. 

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From there we decided to do a lot of driving since we wanted to see the mountain ranges down south, into the infamous Sand Dunes. It was quite the trip but was accompanied by an amazing view making up for it. We stopped for a few hours at the Sand Dunes, where we took a little hike and ate some food. It was breathtaking. 

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My husband's main reason for renting this bad boy was to find some key four-wheeling spots and scare the shit out of me while having a little "American adventure." You see, in Germany, that sort of thing is VERBOTEN! In fact, a lot of fun in general, when it comes to adventuring is not allowed there. In essence, this was my husband's way of experiencing a little freedom when it comes to adventure in nature. Following the Sand Dunes, there is a four-wheeling spot that leads you right back up East into the mountains, and it is terrifying. In fact, my husband was even freaked out by certain situations he put us in, not knowing if we would be stuck on our sides in a ditch somewhere no one knew we were. Okay, maybe I'm dramatizing it a bit, but still. This is where we set up camp, again in the middle of nowhere, about one hour up this terrifying trail. That's me clanking wood sticks together to keep the mountain lions away. If you've seen The Parent Trap you will know that I just made a really lame joke.

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That's my "Are you kidding me, I just woke up," face.

The next day we made our way back down, and this was the last obstacle we encountered before swearing to never go up that psychotic four-wheeling trail again. 

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That concludes our amazing adventure in the wild and rugged Rocky Mountains. From here, we headed back to Golden to return the truck! 

This was truly one of the best travel adventures we have ever had. It enabled us to relax at campsites, but at the same time explore, find amazing hiking spots created by an amazing Creator, see new creatures (thankfully not be eaten by them,) and adventure in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. Unforgettable.

 

 the best places to visit in colorado - a rocky mountain adventure guide
 best locations fro adventure in colorado.

Thyme to Beat the Flu! 5 Natural Remedies from a German Pharmacist

5 Natural remedies for beating the flu

 5 natural inflammatory, and antiviral remedies to beat the flu

If you're a person who always resorts to cold and flu medicine, then you'll want to read this. I was just like that, but now that I know that there are remedies out there to lessen your symptoms without drugging you or your children Breaking Bad style, I am a believer. 

I used to think that natural remedies didn't work, and even if they did, wouldn't last long. One thing I love about Germans and Europeans, in general, is that the absolute last resort of Tamiflu or antibiotics is just that, the last resort. We moved to Germany two years ago, and my desperate attempts to try and convince these doctors that we needed drugs to live through the night, just made me look even more American than I already do. Bribing didn't work, so I just had to accept it. Not once in these past two years have we been given any sort of antibiotic or Tamiflu, no matter how bad the fever got. It forced me to join the other hippie moms in dealing with this crap. 

I'm no scientist or doctor, but I know for a fact that when my husband (who was born and raised in Germany) gets sick, he maybe has the flu for two days tops. Me, two weeks. The difference between us? I have had a lot more antibiotics and Tamiflu in my lifetime than he has. I can't tell you how many times I've taken them. I'm not gonna lie, it was great! But I can't help but think that maybe, even if only a few times, I need to let things ride out while keeping the symptoms at a bearable level. Again, I'm no doctor, but I'm pretty sure it's good for your immune system to learn to fight sickness in order to get over it faster or fight it all together the next time. 

Almost two weeks ago, for the first time, I got the flu while being pregnant. Not fun. My husband got it, and of course, he was better after two days. Obviously, being pregnant, the only thing I could take was Tylenol, for comfort from the aches and shakes, and as a fever reducer. I have never in my life experienced what the actual flu really feels like because I've always resorted to Mucinex to dry up the sludge, or Nyquil to knock myself out. Man, let me tell you, it's awful! So if you're a hippie mom, or just pregnant and not allowed to take the good stuff, this article is for you.

1. Boost your immune system

Facebook and Pinterest are a moms best friend when it comes to these things. I haven't looked to see whether these tips are up there, so I'm not claiming them as my own secret recipes. I just know them from word of mouth or the lovely ladies who know their stuff at the German pharmacies. 

Ginger and honey booster 

1 tsp Ginger (antiviral, anti-inflammatory)

1 tsp honey (antibiotic qualities)

Juice of 1 lemon (reduces phlegm and has vitamin c)

1 tsp turmeric root (anti-inflammatory for your swollen glands, throat, sinuses, etc.)

Not only will this help clear up that mucus in the back of your throat, but also boost your immune system. I used to add Tumeric until I read an article that debunked any powdered version as helpful. If you happen to have turmeric root in its true form lying around (probably those hippie mommy's do) then go ahead and add that. Just make sure you research how much you're allowed to have during pregnancy.

*disclaimer - This article may contain affiliate links. If you click on an image and purchase from Amazon, I will receive a commission at no extra cost to you. I will never recommend a product that I don't stand by and believe to be useful. Thanks for the support!

 

2. Thyme steam bath

2 tbsp dried thyme, or 3 bags of thyme tea

Thyme is known as an antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial herb. So no matter what sickness you have, it fights it! It is used to treat various conditions having to do with the respiratory tract.

Put in a pot of boiling water and let steep for a few minutes. Drape a towel over your head and breath in the thyme steam for about 10 minutes. That annoying cough you've had for the past week will dissipate. It also encourages you to cough up all that mucus that needs to come out. Drinking thyme tea, in addition, will dry it up even more. This is seriously the best method I've used for clearing up all that nasty mucus. It works just as good as Mucinex, but it doesn't last quite as long. I do it about three times a day.

 

3. Eucalyptus Bath

Not only does this feel amazing, relax and detoxify, it will clear out your sinuses. 

 

4. Warm Foot Soak

Even if you have a fever, making your feet warm will keep your body from trying to warm them up and your fever getting even higher.  Soak your feet in warm water for about 10 minutes. 

5. Stay Hydrated and eat salty foods!

Eat Ramen or chicken noodle soup!

The sodium from the broth will help you retain electrolytes and keep you hydrated. It also feels great on your throat. I know it's hard to keep things down during the flu, but ramen for me is somehow manageable. 

 

 5 natural remedies to beat the flu FAST!

Other posts that might interest you!

Family Meals - How to Set Yourself Up For Success in Planning Them

 Family meals together.

When I was young, my mother always made an effort for us to be sitting down around the table together by six o clock. Most memories I have from when I was a kid are that from the dinner table. We would share how our day went, talk about how life was going, and just unwind from a crazy day. Sure, it wasn't always perfect, but it was a common space, a neutral place for us all to gather and share about our lives. I am so grateful for this example my mom made happen in my younger years. It has taught me to also make an effort in my family to keep the tradition alive, even if it takes an extra effort on my part.

Why are family meals so important?

As humans we associate specific memories with taste, smell, touch and all of the five senses. Food is something that ignites those senses and makes a basis to which memories are centered around. When those memories are good ones, you can bet that when the smell or the name of a meal comes up from your past, you are immediately taken back to that memory, and caused to think about and reminisce on. So, how perfect is it to create an environment around food that is positive and encouraging for your family at a mealtime together that will stick with them for their entire lives? Unfortunately, this can go both ways. If those meal times are spent fighting, then it could possibly become a relation to negative memories. All the more reason to make the moments special and positive for everyone involved. 

How to plan ahead and set yourself up for success

Life is busy, crazy and complicated. You know that. You experience it every day. So how is it you're supposed to make time to prepare a meal, set the table, and coerce everyone else into coming and sitting down at a specific time? My best advice is to make a plan. A meal plan in particular.

  • Make a meal plan for the whole week, and shop accordingly.

It will save you so much time and effort to prepare beforehand. It will also encourage you to not skip out on making a meal, knowing you will possibly be throwing food away what isn't utilized. Keep it simple and whole, as to not stress yourself out.

  • Make yummy food that everyone will want to eat

  • Be intentional about your questions at the dinner table

Don't ask rhetorical questions like "Did you have a good day?" but rather, "What happened today that was funny?" or interesting, or scary. How are they treating other kids? How are other kids treating them? Show genuine interest in their day's with asking questions that lead to more than a yes or no.

  • Make your kids help with setting the table, cooking, or cleaning up

My little guy loves to cook with me. It not only gives us something to experience together, but also helps him with his motor skills, learning how to cut veggies in a safe environment, and preparing him to take care of himself someday. Wouldn't it be great not to have to worry about your son eating nothing more than ramen every day in college? 

Having your kids help with chores and cleaning up, will enable them to succeed in something while also learning that they aren't entitled. It will teach them discipline, responsibility and awareness that life isn't always easy. We live in a society that is continually moving towards self-gratification instantaneously. We are moving away from taking time to make healthy and whole meals, towards shortcuts which leads to processed foods, and unhealthy choices. 

  • Don't expect perfection

I know it's hard when expectations aren't met, but it's important to have grace for yourself and your family in these moments as well. Life happens, and just because you don't get to sit down every single day to a meal together, doesn't mean you are a bad mom, or that your family is falling apart. Some days we are just so tired (usually Friday nights) that we end up baking a frozen pizza and watching a documentary together while eating off of our coffee table. These memories are some of the best ones I have! So cut yourself, and everyone else some slack if things don't go according to plan every single time. That's also a part of creating a good environment when it comes to family time. You don't want your kids to get the impression that they need to please mom, and that's the only point of family meals. You want it to be something they want as well. 

 

 

HEXBUG Nanobot DIY Racetrack/maze Made Out of Cardboard

Rainy Days happen a lot here in Germany, so I've had to get creative over the years. This idea came to me when we lost almost all of the 10 HEXBUG's we had, because they literally go wherever they want. So, to make things interesting, we built a racetrack/maze type thing so we could have two of them race to the finish line. If you make it maze-like, by creating gaps, maybe a Bot will end up going back. Who knows! It's an adventure waiting to happen ;-)

 hexbug, nanobot, racetrack, maze made out of cardboard.

HEXBUG Nanobot diy Racetrack/maze made out of cardboard

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Find an old box

Like one thats been chewed on by your cat. Make sure when you prepare it, it will end up having a ledge. 

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prep it

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Start taping in the racetracks

Make sure the width is big enough for the nanobot to fit through, but also not too big that it can turn around.

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Taping it down

Make sure the width is big enough for the nanobot to fit through, but also not too big that it can turn around.

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Create a maze

Make sure the width is big enough for the nanobot to fit through, but also not too big that it can turn around.

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Finished. 

Now all you need are some HEXBUG's!

HEXBUG Nano Nitro 5 Pack Toy
Innovation First Labs Inc.

Where to go in Italy - Elba, an Island worth exploring

 Italy, Elba, vacation, beach vacation.

Where to go in Italy

Elba

Italy has always held a special place in my heart. There's something about it that I can't put my finger on. It doesn't apologize for what it is and that's what makes it so genuine and real. When I'm there, I seem to forget that there is another life waiting for me when I return. I cook and drink wine like an Italian. I relax like an Italian. In a small way, I sort of become Italian, even if I'm only there for a week. The past ten years I have discovered many places in Italy, but this is by far my favorite. Marciana is a town on an Island called Elba. With abundant vegetation and breathtaking beaches, it is my top place to go during the offseason. I haven't been there in high season, but I heard it's hot, crowded, but of course, still fantastic. We happened upon a quaint little area via Airbnb, that is just a 5-minute drive into the hills outside of Marciana Marina, and another 10-minute walk from your car to the house. The hike down to the beach from our place took about 15-minutes and is definitely not for older people or kids under 5. If you're willing to be a little more active on your vacation, it's well worth it. For me, I got my work out in, hiking early mornings on the path ride outside or house, and this little extra journey to the beach helped me justify that giant serving of Gelato and Aperol Spritz I had every night. Here are some pictures of our adventures.

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Take the day and go sailing. The Captain was also a learned cook from Parma, who made us simple pasta and sauce dish with Parmesan, (from Parma of course) a fennel salad, and gave us all the wine we wanted, right on their boat! Another great adventure we have had on a previous trip there was snorkeling with Stefano. A forewarning on this, you won't see an abundance of fish due to, well, lack of fish from over fished seas. The experience was still worth it for me, though.

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We shared the boat with a few other travelers, and the small family of the Captain. Our day consisted of stopping at different bays throughout the day to take a dip in the ocean, as we circled the Island. 

RoamRight cruise travel insurance
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We had our own private beach

Even the rocks were comfortable

It wasn't actually a private beach, but the entirety of our stay we didn't see a single soul, except other boats that would sometimes come in and port for an hour or so. This happened twice.

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We pretended we were Swiss Family Robinson for the week and built ourselves shelter form the sun.

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The best thing about the mediterranean is there hasn't been a shark attack since 1964. No sharks, but plenty of jelly fish! Not deadly. At least the ones we saw. 

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There was a hiking path right outside our door. I discovered all kind of treasures, beaches, and absolutely NO PEOPLE. It was wonderful.

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I love this, only because we did the tourist thing made friends with a few wild cats. I do agree, though. Cats are NOT trustworthy, but I still love them.

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I do recommend bringing  your own wine if you drive there. It's quite expensive on the Island. Local made pasta and sauce, however, is quite affordable and easy to just bring home and make yourself. We stopped at this little gem where the owner makes everything himself.

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We did splurge a little. If you want to call it splurging. An amazing meal for a great price. Bar Monilli was inland, on the top of a slope in Marciana. When you get to this there, don't stop at the first restaurant you see. It will be full of tourists. Keep going deeper and see what you can find. It's worth it! 

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Elba was the Island where Napoleon was exiled, which makes it only proper to have a beer named after him. 

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The freshest gnocchi you will ever eat. I kid you not. Italians don't have to try very hard to make something that is out of this world. 

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The most relaxed you will ever see me. Go to Marciana, Elba! You won't ever forget it.

Grandma Hand's Soft Sugar Cookie

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Soft Sugar Cookie Recipe 

Simple and yummy

I know that you may not believe me when I say there are literally the best sugar cookies you will ever eat, so I guess you will just need to make them to find out.

When I was younger, our visits to my Grandmas house were always greeted with a warm, soft sugar cookie. My favorite version was and always will be just plain, but there are so many different cookies you can make them into! But I think they are that good they don't need anything except a glass of milk, and you will literally be blown away. This lady is a rockstar when it comes to making the most simple dishes into something amazing. She even wrote her own cookbook back in the day that sits on my self and is frequently used. I, of course, asked her permission to share it with you all and she said yes. You should feel special because this one is a family treasure.

 

THE SOFT SUGAR COOKIE

Recipe by Grandma Hand

Yields: 2 1/2 to 3 dozen
Prep and baking time: 1 hour


INGREDIENTS
1/2 c (1 stick) softened butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c sour cream
3 c all-purpose flour 

 soft, delicious, sugar cookie. easy. simple.

PREPARATION
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees
2. Mix butter and sugar, followed by the egg, vanilla, and sour cream.
3. Mix dry ingredients and slowly incorporate into wet ingredients.
4. Form into golf ball sized balls; roll in granulated sugar. Place on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. 
5. Flatten to about 1/4 inch thickness with the bottom of a drinking glass.
6. Bake 6-8 minutes or until cookies just begin to brown around edges. Tops should spring back when touched with your finger.

VARIETIES:
M&M - After cookies are flattened, press M&M's into them.
Lemon - Substitute 4 tsp lemon extract for vanilla.
Peanut Butter - add in 1/2 c peanut butter to wet ingredients. Flatten with a fork instead of glass. 

 

 

 

 

Natural Wooden Branch DIY Hanging Planter

 Hanging Planter on Natural Wooden Branch. Simple. Elegant. Decoration. Easy. Affordable.

This hanging planter on a natural wooden branch is simple, easy and affordable project will add that wow factor to any room, corner, balcony, or pretty much anywhere you want to put it! Here's how I did it.

 Hanging Planter on Natural Wooden Branch.

How to make a hanging planter on natural wood branch in no time flat! DIY project. 

Supplies:

1. 3 Pots that you are able to fasten metal wiring on. I got mine at Ikea a while back. I wanted to add a something to it to make it more exciting, so I decided to put a gold accent on it.

2. 3 hanging plants - I decided to go with Ivy's. I like that they hang down.

3. A natural wooden branch - 3 in. diameter, or large enough to hold your three pots without giving or snapping. I found mine in the good old fashioned woods. You can save $20 by finding it and not buying it!

4. Gold Paint if you wish to add an accent color. Any color works, but I love the combination of the metallic gold and the natural wood.

5. Gold flexible wiring. I just made a simple loop, attaching to two sides of the pot and hung it over the piece of wood. 

6.  Pliable thick wiring for making your attachment holding the wood. 

7. Two ceiling hooks. Here is a picture of how I used the flexible wiring to make a holster for the wood to attach to the hook.

8. Wire cutters.

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A natural wooden branch 

3 in. diameter, or large enough to hold your three pots without giving or snapping. I found mine in the good old fashioned woods. You can save $20 by finding it and not buying it!

P1010065.jpg

3 hanging plants - I decided to go with Ivy's. I like that they hang down.

3 Pots

Ones that you are able to fasten metal wiring on. I got mine at Ikea a while back. I wanted to add a something to it to make it more exciting, so I decided to put a gold accent on it.

P1010086.jpg

Which turned out like this!

P1010069.jpg

Gold Paint

If you wish to add an accent color. Any color works, but I love the combination of the metallic gold and the natural wood.

Gold flexible wiring 

I just made a simple loop, attaching to two sides of the pot and hung it over the piece of wood. 

File Jan 30, 10 36 05 AM.jpeg

6. Pliable thick wiring

File Jan 30, 10 41 10 AM.jpeg

7. Two ceiling hooks

Here is a picture of how I used the flexible wiring to make a holster for the wood to attatch to the hook.

8. Wire cutters

 

Something else that might interest you!

diy hanging planter.jpg

Healthy Rustic Chicken and Bean Soup Recipe

 healthy rustic chicken and bean soup. fresh veggies.

 

In my first trimester of pregnancy, I made bean and chicken soup for dinner, hearing that beans are healthy for you, especially when pregnant. They are filled with protein and fiber, and that's just what a prego lady needs. I made about 3 gallons of this soup, thinking we could eat some and then freeze it for later. I had needed a little variety from my regular egg and mayonnaise or grilled cheese sandwiches which proved to be the only foods I could keep down, so I decided to make this delicious bean filled chicken vegetable soup. Come to find out; I couldn't even bear to smell it, let alone put it in my mouth, so later that night I just ended up stashing it in the freezer. Over a month went by and every time I opened the freezer that Tupperware full of disgusting looking soup haunted me. Finally, I got myself to put it in the fridge to thaw for the next day. It was time to bring out the soup. 
Christoph got home that night around 7:00, and we sat down for our chicken and bean soup dinner. He looked at me and said,"Did you know that if you eat beans while being pregnant, our child with have hooves?" I replied, "No I didn't, that's so awful, I have never heard that. Oh No!" Now I was terrified and started to get paranoid, imaging our child galloping towards me like a centaur and not running into my arms. Christoph continued to say. "Yup, then we will have to name it "Chalf" because it will be half child and half calf. 
Chalf? Oh, this is not good, not good at all. Poor Chalf. I will still love it.
I woke up, and it was about 3 in the morning. After realizing it was just a dream, I laughed, got up to pee again and took note of this dream, because it was worth retelling.

Here is a recipe for that delicious chicken and bean soup I was telling you about ;) Seriously, it's good. Maybe not to a pregnant lady, but it tastes absolutely normal and worth making. My husband always has about three servings of it. 

 


Healthy Rustic Chicken and Bean Soup Recipe

Ingredients:

Serves 8-10  

Cooking and prep time - 30 min prep, 1 hour cooking.

Produce:

  • 2 (14 ounce) cans Kidney Beans
  • 1 can Artichokes - roughly chopped

  • 3 large Chicken Thighs 

  • 1 medium Yellow Onion

  • 1 Finely chopped Leak

  • 2 Finely chopped Carrots

  • 2 Finely chopped Celery Stalks

  • 4 cloves minced Garlic

  • 2 cups Spinach

  • Italian Parsley - roughly chopped (garnish)

Spices

  • 1 tsp Black pepper, freshly ground

  • 2 tsp Salt

  • 1 tbsp Herb de Provence

  • Siracha to taste (optional; I always add it directly to my bowl becasue my kiddo doesn't like spice.)

  • 1 tbsp pwdr Chicken Broth (also to desired taste)

Oils & Vinegar:

  • 2 tbsp Olive oil, extra virgin
  • a Dollop of Daisy - Sour Cream (garnish)

Liquids:

  • 6-8 cups water (I add water to a desired consistency of soup. You may need to add more at end)

Instructions:

  1. In a large soup pot, saute onions, leaks, carrots, celery, and garlic in olive oil over medium heat. 
  2. After 5 minutes Add Herb de Provence, salt, and pepper and saute 5 more minutes or until the onions turn translucent.
  3. Add water, broth pwdr, and chicken thighs. Make sure the water covers the chicken completely. Cooking the chicken in the soup will add good flavor to the broth. If you want to make a even healthier version, use 3 chicken breasts, but don't cook them in the broth; grill or saute to avoid the chicken getting dry.
  4. Bring to simmer and cook covered for 30 min. After Chicken is done, remove from broth and let cool.
  5. Remove chicken from the skin and bones and add back into the broth. 
  6. Add the kale and cook another 10 minutes over a low simmer.
  7. Add artichokes and beans and desired Siracha.
  8. Serve with garnishes and buttered bread.