Friday Favorites

Today is a particularly happy Friday. My company (Porch.com) takes the entire week of Christmas off, so I’m about to head into a nice long chunk of time off. I feel like I’m back in school counting down the days to Christmas break!
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I’m kicking off the weekend with some fun and festive activities. Tomorrow, I’m heading to Mil’s to watch Christmas movies and decorate cookies. Sunday, I’m attending my friend Rachel’s Christmas show which poses the question “What if Santa and Jesus were roommates?” It should be interesting…have a good weekend and enjoy this week’s roundup.
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Time off for me always means catching up on my reading list. I frequently head over to Modern Mrs Darcy‘s for ideas for what to read next. Her most recent roundup has me interested in picking up a copy of Coming Clean: A Story of Faith for myself and Goodbye Stranger for my little sister.
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2. Good fonts make all the difference. Chaitra, of Pink Pot, is always a great resource for new design and blog resources. I love the festive fonts she shared this week.
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3. These deer sugar cookies are just darling. I wish I had the confidence to attempt the tutorial from Bakerella, but Pinterest fails keep dancing through my head.
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4. Have a hard time coming up gifts for everyone on your list? Why not buy the same thing for everyone?
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5. I’ve been sick this week and have found myself referring back to our guest post on natural cold remedies. Thank goodness for lemons, ginger, and oregano oil.
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XOXO,
Jules

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Don’t Worry, Be Happy: 5 Natural Ways to Kick Anxiety to the Curb

anxiety

Telling the truth about ourselves is a hard thing, especially when the truth doesn’t match up with our preferred version of reality. It’s hard to admit to weakness or mistakes. You have this image of what you want your life to be like and then are constantly trying to  reconcile all the messy bits that don’t seem to fit. It’s something I struggle with all the time – every day really.

One of my truths is that I struggle with anxiety. When you first meet me, I usually seem pretty laid back and low maintenance, which I am in a lot of ways. I can get ready in 10 minutes if needed and am usually happy to let others pick the restaurant or movie. I’ve also always gravitated towards high stress jobs that push me to the limit, which may seem odd for someone who gets anxious. Somehow I’ve become very good at showing a certain version of myself, but below the surface or in private, I promise you that I am quite frequently quietly freaking out.

Why share this now? I recently learned that anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorder in the United States, affecting about 1 in 5 people at any given time. That’s 100 people in my office or at least three of your close friends. It shocked me because you rarely hear it talked about. We talk about our allergies and injuries, but somehow talking about anxiety or depression is taboo. Or are we not talking about it because we think it’s normal to be stressed out and anxious? Stress is definitely normal, but at what point do we draw the line between normal and intolerable?

I’m starting to figure where that line is for me and what I need to do on a daily or weekly basis to make sure I’m on the right side of that line as much as possible. Here are a few of my strategies:
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1. Get your workout on
For me, cardio is one of the best ways to stabilize my moods and release tension. It can be hard to prioritize making it to the gym or hitting a trail, but I always try to remind myself of how relaxed and happy I feel once those endorphins start to kick in. Even a 15 minute walk around the block is enough to make a difference.
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2. Love that lavender
As my husband can attest, I’m a big fan of essential oils. I know this isn’t news to anyone, but lavender oil has an incredible calming effect on the body. It’s been used for centuries as a treatment for anxiety and depression and when taken orally has been shown to be as effective as certain prescription medications (1). I prefer to drink it in tea or to simply dab some oil on my wrists to take in its therapeutic effects.
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3. Sip on green tea (even in summer)
I know it’s hot, so tea is probably the last thing you want to hear about, but hear me out. L-Theanine, an amino acid present in green tea, has been shown to measurably boost moods and decrease stress (2). Personally, I like iced green tea with fresh mint leaves. It’ll make you feel good on a hot day in more ways than one.
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4. It’s all about the B’s
I take a daily Vitamin B-complex and for me it makes a significant difference in my energy levels and mood. Deficiencies in Vitamin B have been linked to depression, fatigue, and anxiety. While I take a supplement, I also try to eat foods that are rich in B vitamins as well. Dark leafy greens are one of my go-to sources; they’re easy to throw into a morning smoothie to get your day off to a good start.
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5. Make time for “me-time,” preferably in the sunshine 
It’s easy for life to become an endless whirlwind of events and responsibilities. Take the dogs out, go to work, hit the gym, meet friends for happy hour, make dinner, tidy up the house – it never stops and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. It’s important to make time for yourself. It’s important to give yourself permission to do something just for your pure enjoyment and relaxation. Maybe it’s reading on a blanket in the park, or walking down to the coffee shop down the street for that one special drink you love. For me, I make sure that my relaxation time is out in the sun, which has been shown to be mood boosting.
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Bonus: Strike a power pose. If you haven’t seen Amy Cuddy’s TED talk on the power of striking a strong pose, you should watch it here. Adopting a strong pose in a moment of weakness can help increase testosterone and decerase cortisol levels, making you literally feel stronger and more in control. Plus, it’s fun. Before a tough meeting or phone call, I like to find a place where I can ham it up a bit with a couple “You Got This” poses.
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The quadruple threat: exercise, me-time, sunshine, and a power pose. Victory is mine!

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How do you relax and manage your anxiety and stress? I know a lot of people who practice yoga for this reason, which I personally like better in the winter.
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XOXO,
Jules

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P.S. Please note that I am not a doctor in any way. This is simply advice shared based on personal experiences. 

DIY: Peppermint Lip Scrub

You guys, this winter has been real rough on my lips. I can’t remember them ever being so dry, even when I lived in the arctic tundra wasteland that is Chicago. Slathering on Aquaphor and other balms helped them feel better, but didn’t do much to fix the problem, and the scrubs I usually love just weren’t cutting it. So when I came across a DIY recipe for all-natural lip scrub, I immediately decided to give it a shot. Turns out it’s soothing, decadently moisturizing, and exfoliates like nobody’s business; it was exactly what my poor chapped lips needed.

Lip scrub

I based my scrub on this recipe, with a couple of modifications. Most of what you need is probably already in your pantry!

Ingredients:

2 tsp granulated sugar

1 tsp coconut oil

1/2 tsp honey (raw honey is ideal)

A packet of raw cane sugar (optional)

Peppermint essential oil

A small jar (I used an empty eye cream jar)

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Combine granulated sugar, coconut oil and honey in a small bowl and mix well. Add 5-6 drops of peppermint essential oil for a light minty scent.

Edit 3

If you prefer a grittier scrub (which I do!), add a few pinches of raw cane sugar. This is will boost the exfoliation powers of your scrub considerably. But if you want a very gentle scrub, stick to the granulated sugar (or use brown sugar instead, which is even softer).

Finally, mix the ingredients thoroughly and transfer to your jar. This recipe makes exactly enough to fill a .5 ounce container.

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Scoop out a tiny little bit and apply to clean, dry lips. (Pro tip: applying the scrub with a spare toothbrush will help buff off dry skin.) Scrub vigorously and let it sit for a minute or two so your lips have the chance to soak up moisture from the honey and coconut oil. Then rinse off with a washcloth and apply your favorite lip balm to seal in hydration.

Real talk: I have tried a LOT of different scrubs and balms this season, but nothing has helped as much as this stuff. It’s incredibly effective, cheap, and super easy to make, which has earned it a permanent spot in my beauty routine. I promise it will rock your world!

Do you have a favorite DIY beauty remedy?

♥ Mil

Guest Post: Tips for a Healthy and Happy Winter

While I’m in the process of moving, I’ve asked a few of my friends to play guest blogger. As I mentioned before, my friend Nuni and her family are very into healthy eating. Over time, they have also gotten more and more into natural remedies. Nuni will send me these boxes with dried herbs from her garden and medicinal tea to help with whatever my issue is at the time – usually stress.

As Nick and I head to the Pacific Northwest, we are preparing ourselves for the winter weather. All things considered, Seattle doesn’t get all that cold during the winter months, but compared to Arkansas it does. And of course with cold weather comes the season of colds. I thought it’d be fun for Nuni and her sister Amina to do a guest post with tips on staying healthy and happy this winter without overdosing on Nyquil. – Julia

 

Nuni & Amina

Nuni and Amina

 

As the cold months have come around again, so too has the flu season. Nothing bums us out more than being stuck in bed moaning while everyone else has all the fun. Plus, we believe that the key to looking good is feeling good! So we wanted to share some of our favorite ways to keep yourself in good health this season.

In our family we have always used home remedies among other medicines to treat ourselves. Recently our dad went even further and started making his own tinctures. There are many easy at-home remedies that can be used to help prevent and treat cold symptoms. Here are a few of our favorite tips using ingredients from your home or that can be found in your local health food store.

Oregano tea. Oregano is good for treating cough, congestion and easing sore throat. Add lemon if desired and sweeten with honey or agave.

Sage tea. Also good for cough and congestion.

Chamomile tea. A calming herb that promotes relaxation.

Oregano oil. Good for treating cold symptoms. You can get them in capsules from your local pharmacy or natural food store. It may have a nasty after-taste, but it does work wonders! My dad makes his own, so I always have it in the house; it isn’t that potent, so you can take it straight from the dropper.

Oregano collage

Apple Cider Vinegar. A spoonful of ACV will help relieve chest congestion. ACV is also good for any issue from the mouth to the bum: gas, constipation, upset stomach, etc. This is pretty much a must have in your fridge all year around.

Onion. Eating a few slices of raw onion will also help relieve chest congestion. My younger sister gets sick ALL THE TIME and this year we tried the raw onion and in minutes she was breathing better. (I am so never doing this! – J)

Garlic. Garlic is an antimicrobial that is helpful in treating ailments such as sore throats, upper respiratory infections, ear infections, sinus congestion and lung congestion. Mince garlic and swallow with a spoonful of honey. Or make garlic tea by steeping a few garlic cloves in boiling water. Sweeten with honey and add lemon if desired. To treat an ear infection, heat a little olive oil in a pan and add minced garlic. Cook for 2 minutes and remove from heat. Let the garlic oil cool and place a few drops in the ear and place cotton to keep the oil in.

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Steam baths. Great for treating upper respiratory congestion. Add a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil to a bowl or pot of boiling hot water. Cover head with towel and breathe in the steam. Sage, thyme or mint leaves, which may be among your spices, or any of these as essential oils will work well too.

Elderberry syrup is useful to ward off colds. I always keep a bottle around and take a few spoonfuls if I am feeling a cold coming on.

Vitamin C. Same with vitamin C. I will start taking it if the beginning symptoms of a cold or flu present. You can get a good source of vitamin C from foods like oranges, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, lemons, etc.

Ginger. This is also a good remedy for congestion, colds and chills. Boil sliced ginger with lemon in a pot to make a tea. Sweeten with honey of desired. (My Vietnamese mother swears by fresh ginger tea – J)

Lemon. Lemon water helps to fight off fever. A spoonful of honey and lemon juice helps relieve sore throat and ease coughing.

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For fevers, especially with little ones, placing slices of lemons or onions on the bottom of your feet helps relieve a fever. Simply place slices on the soles of the feet and cover with heavy socks.  The Lemon Calf Wrap works in the same way but with a few extra steps.

Do you use natural remedies or are you an over-the-counter type?

Have a happy and healthy winter!
Amina & Nuni

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