Christmas Eve Adventures

For Christmas this year, my husband and I traveled to Colorado to visit my side of the family. My dad wanted to have a very “traditional” Christmas with many common old traditions, and one of those activities was cutting down a real Christmas tree!

My family has always used fake, reusable Christmas trees. Many of us suffer from seasonal allergies, had pets, and didn’t want the hassle of cleaning up after a real tree. But since everyone was together this Christmas, we decided to go do it!

We drove up to a place in the mountains that had designated areas for cutting down Christmas trees. The whole family went together, it was fun! I’m glad we bundled up a lot, since the snow got deep and the wind was cold!

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It was about 29°F out with some wind. Pretty cold but it could’ve been worse!

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Beautiful nature!

A few of us took turns with the axe to cut down the tree. I didn’t do it since my feet were already numb from the cold and I was afraid I wouldn’t have a good footing. I wore extra-thick double socks, fleece-lined leggings under some jeans, and boots but my toes still froze!

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We were going to use a saw but all the boys wanted to use the axe lol

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After we got the tree home, we all worked on decorating it. I didn’t take many photos of making the decorations, since the cousins mostly made them and I have many cousins who are minors (literally ranging from ages 2-14), so I didn’t want to share their faces since I’m not their mom!!

Dad really wanted some “traditional” decorations as well. We all made paper chains, strung popcorn on thread, and used tinsel (none of that would ever fly in our house with three cats lol!). The little cousins loved putting the ornaments on the tree as well!

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All decorated!

Side note: That “Go Tell it on the Mountain” print above the fireplace is an original piece of mine and is available in my Redbubble shop!

The tree turned out beautifully! It was nice to have it in the corner since one side of the tree was a bit bare, so we could hide it easily. It was very cool to have a real tree with all those different decorations! I started to hope that maybe someday Mitch and I could do that in our house, but we plan to have cats for a long time (and kids someday too) so it may not be the most kid/cat-friendly haha. But this was a great memory to add to the books!

We also have a tradition of just making a bunch of different appetizers and finger-foods to snack on for Christmas Eve dinner instead of an actual meal. Mitch and I made vegan “pigs” in blankets and tomato-spinach pinwheels! I’ll share the recipes next time, so stay tuned! ❤

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Delicious pinwheels by Mitch! They were a hit!

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Vegan “pigs” in blankets by me! It was an experiment but people liked them!

After that, we attended the Christmas Eve service at our church. As for Christmas Day, we just opened presents and spent the day relaxing. It was nice!

Here’s the vlog I did of Christmas Eve if you’d like to see things in action!

What did you do for Christmas Eve and Day? Do you have any traditions you enjoy doing every year?

~Laura ❤

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It’s Not Hard To Not Be Lazy

Sometimes you just gotta get going.

If you have a dream or a goal, don’t just think about how nice it’d be to achieve it. Do something about it to achieve it.

This is difficult for me, and I know it’s something I struggle with. Yet I continue to not do anything.

Often times I will have an idea that I want to follow through with. But then I’ll only work on it halfheartedly, or work really hardly on it at first and then never finish it.

I know there are things I ultimately want to achieve in life. But when I know there aren’t going to be instant results, it’s difficult for me to just get going and start working toward the ultimate goal. Which, therefore, results in doing nothing at all.

Mitch and I talk about this a lot. We even had this conversation tonight! And the problem is, we’ve had the same conversation multiple times but nothing has changed on my part. Mitch is fantastic about finding a goal and starting the steps to get there. I, on the other hand, will find the goal, but I’ll be too lazy or overwhelmed to start taking the steps to get there.

There’s literally no reason for me to not get started now. In fact, I’m in the perfect position to! If I want to do something new, I am fortunate enough to have the time and resources to start doing it. But instead I just sit around and think about it instead. Why.

Like cleaning the house, for example. I would love to have a nice, clean, tidy house at all times. And I have plenty of time to do so. But then I think about how I’d rather be doing something else (less productive probably) and then I just don’t do it. I wait until I’m overly stressed about the dishes not being done for a day or two, or the laundry having not been folded for over a week. Or I wait until Mitch has mentioned it for the tenth time before I feel guilty enough to actually do it. Which is not okay.

It’s not fair to him, as we are equal partners in this marriage. While he’s working hard 40+ hours a week to make an income for us to survive, I should be using my 28 free hours a week to do the things he doesn’t have time to do, like clean and run errands and pay bills, etc.

And I don’t have a problem with doing those things! I would gladly do them, if I could stop being lazy. It’s literally not that hard to not be lazy. Yet I do it anyway.

It’s not until we realize where we are in life that I suddenly decide I should probably be more productive. If I had been this productive all along, cleaning the house, working on my art business, saving money, etc. we could be way better off now than we are! I literally just need to do it. It’s not that hard.

Mitch suggested I make a log of everything I do in a week, and how many hours I spend on it. Doesn’t matter what it is–something productive or not–as long as I log it. This will allow me to see what time I waste on doing nothing, and will steer me in the direction of finding productive things to do with all the free time I have.

I’m starting this log tomorrow, so we’ll see how it goes. I already feel much more motivated, and our conversation tonight helped me talk out all the stupid excuses I keep giving for not being more active in pursuing our goals. I guess we’ll find out how this week goes and if I get much done.

I’ll report back by the end of the week if I remember to post here haha.

~Laura ❤

My Experience with Relying on Medication

Back in February of 2017, I was diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder. Nothing major, nothing life-altering. But I was basically more anxious than the average person, which also caused me to deal with a lot of overwhelming stress and depression as well.

It made sense. Mom says I was always a very nervous kid growing up, always needing to know exactly what was happening at all times. I couldn’t do anything without feeling prepared first. I even remember one time when my dad went on a work trip to Finland, and I was so stressed about him traveling alone that I was nauseous the whole time he was gone, which in turn made me MORE anxious cause I hated throwing up!

One thing I always talk about because it impacted me so much is my negative experience with the youth group in my church. While there were cliques and favorites within the group and I was not a part of those cliques, I probably wasn’t left out as much as I remember. Any time the “mean girls” would invite me to do something, I would say no because I didn’t know what to expect. Over time, I said no enough that they’d stop inviting me. This made me think they were just mean and didn’t like me, but I probably gave them a good reason!

The final straw of my sanity was senior year of college. That year broke me. I literally thought I was going to die. I have never been and hope I will never be suicidal, but I really felt like that school year would be the death of me. Most of my friends were busy or gone, Mitch had already graduated and was working full time and living somewhere off campus, I wasn’t eating or sleeping well, my classes and assignments stressed me out so much that I couldn’t have a life outside of school, and more. I have horrible flashbacks when I think about college and I never ever want to go back. Ever. And it’s sad that it ended that way.

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One of the many days I spent by myself dying in the library, trying to pass my classes so I could graduate on time and GET OUT OF THERE lol

I didn’t start talking about all of these things with a counselor until a year later, when my counselor realized I was struggling with anxiety for much longer than we thought. She suggested the option of taking anxiety/depression medication, assuring me that it wasn’t the addictive kind or the “happy pills” that make you numb. They were the kind that would balance out the chemical levels in your brain so everything would normalize. I talked it over with Mitch and we decided that was the best course of action, so I began taking antidepressants.

It took a couple tries of brands and dosages, but the positive effects kicked in almost immediately. I had described before this prescription that I felt a dark “fog” in my chest that seemed to weigh down my thoughts and my literal breathing. My resting heart rate had been going up to the 140s due to panic attacks I didn’t realize I was having. After about 2 or 3 days of starting the medication, the fog disappeared and my heart rate went back to normal!

It’s been a year and a half since I’ve been on medication for my anxiety and honestly it’s been fantastic. Sure, I had to deal with a couple of side effects–excessive sweating at night, occasional fatigue, hormonal imbalance making my acne flare up, etc. But it was better than feeling stressed beyond belief! I can still say with complete confidence that this has been one of the best years of my life. I’ve learned to be a much more positive and kind person. I see the glass as half-full instead of half-empty like I used to. I still experienced emotions and wasn’t numb, but I have been on the happier side of things while on the meds. Unfortunately though, I didn’t really feel emotions as strongly as I would have before the meds. I’m not sure if I just didn’t have a reason to be sad or upset, or if the meds really did suppress those feelings.

However, I decided to start tapering off of the meds a couple months ago. I spoke with my doctor and after an examination she decided I was ready to try if I wanted! She’s a holistic doctor and gladly supports not taking medications, although she’s still also supportive of meds when necessary.

But why taper off the meds if they’ve been helping me so much? Well, when I agreed to start taking them, I was assured that this would be a temporary thing. These types of medications are meant to only be used anywhere from 6 months to 2 years (give or take), as they are bringing your brain levels to normal until you’re in a better state of mind.

Mitch and I have been married for almost 2 and a half years. At some point, we’d like to have kids haha. Not only that, but we’ve been striving to live healthier, more natural lifestyles with the food we eat, the cleaning supplies we use in our house, and using natural remedies for things like headaches or colds instead of medication. While my current antidepressant is safe to take while pregnant (although no, I’m not pregnant haha), I am wanting to avoid taking any medications if possible. The less meds one has to rely on, the better in my opinion!

Of course, I’m not anti-medication. Some illnesses need to be treated quickly and efficiently, and thankfully there are medications that can do that, but I would like to try to be someone who doesn’t need them if I can help it! The key is not avoiding meds when they’re needed, but to live a lifestyle that keeps me healthy so I never need the meds in the first place!

So. Here’s where it gets frustrating. When I started tapering off my meds, my doctor just lowered me to a half dosage. I alternated days accordingly until I was only on the half dose. Everything was still fine and great! But then, after another month, I began alternating between the half dosage and no dosage. That’s when things got bad.

My doctor reassured me that although I would feel the general symptoms of withdrawal and some heightened anxiety, my body would adjust and I just needed to give it time. Unfortunately, the time was agonizingly long.

As soon as I was nearing the end of alternating days and heading toward taking no meds at all for multiple days in a row, my mood swings were INSANE.

I was angry, irritated, frustrated, and upset at everything. Poor Mitch had to endure my wrath lol. It was almost unbearable. I wanted to cry and punch someone all at the same time haha. And I’ve never felt that much anger before!! I was ready to just quit everything and hide away at home to wallow in frustration by myself. I knew it was from adjusting without my meds, and it killed me to feel like this and feel helpless about it too. All I wanted to do was just stay home and sleep until these mood swings passed.

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I was SO MAD this day lol. Poor Mitch XD

This anger and irritability lasted for maybe 3 days, just last week. I voiced my frustration on Twitter and many of my friends and followers reassured me that those feelings were normal. Many of them had gone through or are currently going through the same transition of living without antidepressants. They agreed that it was frustrating and exhausting, but reminded me that I would feel balanced soon. Their encouragement was exactly what I needed and I love my internet friends for that!!

Then one day, I woke up totally normal. I was back in the normal, positive, lighthearted mood I was usually in when on my meds, but this time I wasn’t on my meds! I still got occasionally irritated at things but nowhere near as badly as the week before. I started to feel so much more normal. My emotions didn’t feel suppressed or overbearing. I felt great!

Now it’s been about a week of no meds at all and I’m pretty much back to normal. I don’t feel anxious, I don’t feel depressed, and I feel appropriate levels of sadness and anger lol. The only feeling I still get is the withdrawal feelings in my head from time to time, but they’re starting to fade away. I also don’t have the excessive sweating, fatigue, or acne anymore which has made me feel much more motivated to get stuff done in the day!

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I feel much more normal and positive. I can even wear makeup and fix my hair again cause the acne and fatigue are gone!!

I wish I didn’t have to rely on medication for that long, but I’m still glad I did it. I’m in a much better place in life now and can start with a clean mental slate! There’s nothing overwhelming happening and we are in a stable family, house, and overall life. I’m also super super excited to be able to live a normal life without relying on drugs that alter my brain!

The tapering-off process was absolutely horrible and almost unbearable, and I fear that many people who struggle with worse anxiety and depression than I do would never be able to fully stop taking the medications. Even though the meds I took were non-addictive, my body freaked out when I started lowering them. It worries me how many people out there feel like they can never live a normal life again without the drugs. I was worried that I’d feel anxious again after stopping them but so far I’m okay and will be able to manage it better if I do. I hope and pray that anyone else taking antidepressants or anti anxiety medication will be able to live a life without those drugs someday, but until then, I hope you are heading toward the point where you can even consider stopping taking them at all!

I wish I didn’t have to rely on medication to live a normal life, but thankfully it’s given me the opportunity to acquire tools and exercises to maintain a normal life without them. I’m excited to live a drug-free life from now on if I can! ♥ ♥ ♥

~Laura ❤

 

Veganism Is The Best Thing That Ever Happened To My Health

OKAY. I need to talk about this. I know none of my friends on Facebook care, and Twitter won’t let me write enough lol. But you GUYS. I have been feeling absolutely FANTASTIC lately.

As some of you already know, I went vegan in November of 2016. I originally did it for health reasons, as I have developed a pretty painful intolerance to eggs and dairy. I didn’t ease into the plant-based* diet like many people do; I dove straight into it and so did my husband! I still remember the exact day I ate animal flesh for the very last time and never looked back. Biting into a huge hunk of pot roast while looking at my sweet kitten Mort sleeping next to me gave me all sorts of conflicting emotions. But while I have developed an incredible amount of sympathy for the animals forced to suffer for the pleasure of humans’ taste buds–and I will gladly give all the reasons why the animal product industry is horrendous and we as humans do not need to consume them–that’s not what I’m here to talk about today. I’m going to keep it strictly health-based for this post, since I have fantastic proof and amazing outcomes to share with you!!

1. Digestive system

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Let’s start with how a plant-based diet affected mine (and my husband’s) digestive system. P.S. it’s gonna get a tad TMI but hey, everybody uses the restroom!

I had struggled for years with stomach issues. I would always have to go to the bathroom almost immediately after eating and you could always count on me being in there for 20+ minutes. I often struggled with the constant back-and-forth of constipation and diarrhea. Many times I would barely have an appetite to eat because I knew I’d have a stomach ache afterward. Eventually I just concluded that I had IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and had to accept it for what it was. IBS would just have to be a part of my life and there was nothing I could do about it.

My husband had similar struggles. Due to an illness he caught while on a mission trip, he had many digestive problems as well and ended up having to take digestive enzymes because he literally could not digest his food. He too had to take many unwanted trips to the bathroom, which was very frustrating for him.

We both took probiotics to help with our stomach issues, but all those ever really did were make the issues not as noticeable. Missing one day of my probiotic was like a sentence to the bathroom for the next 24 hours. It was the worst!

I won’t get into all the details and scientific studies with references and such now, but it’s not unknown that dairy can be a large cause of stomach issues. A surprisingly large percentage of people of color are considered lactose intolerant because they simply cannot digest dairy. In fact, dairy is one of the worst things you can put in your digestive system if you struggle with bathroom trips–doctors encourage you to use dairy to force out constipation!!

As soon as I went vegan, my digestive system practically did a 180°. Not only did I stop suffering from constant constipation and diarrhea, but (TMI warning here) my poop….sank?? Allow me to explain.

Did you know that healthy stools are supposed to sink to the bottom of the toilet bowl?! If you’re reading this and thinking I’m crazy for not knowing, you’d be surprised! I had never seen my stools sink to the bottom in my entire life until going vegan. I just assumed everyone’s floated at the top! Turns out, a person’s stools will float if they contain too much fat. This can either mean you’re consuming too much fat and your body is getting rid of the excess, or your body isn’t retaining enough fat at all and is just expelling it instead. Perhaps this was a contributor to me being underweight my whole life? Who knows.

Anyway, along with my digestive improvements, my husband did much better too! He no longer has to take digestive enzymes or probiotics and has perfectly normal, no longer painful trips to the restroom. Unfortunately I’ve still had to take a probiotic until recently, which I’ll explain in a bit.

2. Periods

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Onto the next improvement! Periods, yay!! Lol.

From the time I started getting my period up until the end of 2015, my period was quite irregular. It would be about 3-4 months in between periods, which is obviously not healthy. Of course, I have to blame my underweight-ness for that, but I also ate horribly. I loved meat (especially bacon & ham), consumed lots of dairy all day every day, and rarely ate my vegetables if I could help it. Let’s just say I was not the world’s healthiest eater haha.

At the end of 2015, I started taking birth control pills so I could find the one that worked best for me before getting married in 2016. At that point, my period was “regular”. It was relieving, but also kind of annoying because I hated having it every single month instead of every 3-4 months lol. But here’s one of the many issues with birth control pills if you’re only taking it to regulate your period: the bleeding that occurs during the placebo week is not actually a fully-fledged period, but much of it is actually withdrawal bleeding due to the lack of hormones you’ve been taking the other 3 weeks of the pill. That’s why, if you’re wanting to mess with nature and skip your period for whatever reason, the doctor will tell you just to skip the placebo week and jump straight to the regular hormone pills, thereby suppressing your period. Now, obviously there are many reasons the pill helps lots of women for different reasons. But for me, it just wasn’t worth it (not to mention it gave me horrible nightmares, bad spotting, and weird mood swings!!).

When I finally stopped the pill around 8 months before going vegan, my period went back to being irregular. But once I went vegan, it began to catch on and I started having my period roughly every month, give or take a few extra weeks. Now it’s in a perfect cycle, exactly on time every single month! It’s great because now I can actually know to expect it lol. Plus whenever we decide to have kids it’ll be easier to try to plan!

3. Teeth

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Okay so I was already wanting to write this blog post earlier this week, but then I went to the dentist today and it made me wanna write about this even more!!

I’ve always had a horrible history at the dentist. Bad excessive plaque buildup, bleeding gums, cavities, threat of gingivitis, etc. Not gonna lie, I don’t do all the things I’m supposed to haha. Growing up, I didn’t always brush my teeth twice a day and only did it once a day (yuck, I don’t know how I did that lol). And even now, although I brush twice a day every day, I still don’t floss like I should. I do use floss picks about once a day but nothing super thorough.

The last time I went to the dentist was about a month or two after I went vegan. I still got a bad report, but I was used to that by then haha. Then life got busy and my husband and I moved to a new location, so I hadn’t gone to the dentist since then until today. That means it was about a year and a half, whoops!

When I went to the dentist today, I got a PERFECT REPORT. That’s a big deal for me!!! The dentist said my teeth looked great, there was no sign of gingivitis, my plaque buildup was average like anyone else would have, and I didn’t have a single cavity. I had warned her beforehand that I tend to have extra plaque buildup because I have an extra saliva gland (my mouth is mutated–I also have molars with 3 roots instead of 2 and only had 3 wisdom teeth instead of 4, weirdo). She said that although that was true, it seemed that my saliva glands were producing more calcium than average which was protecting my teeth from getting cavities as easily. WHAT!!!

Okay so I don’t know how true all of that is, since this was just from one source (although yes she is an experienced dentist). But HEY! You hear that, anti-vegans?? The biggest complaint I hear from people when I say I don’t consume dairy is “but you won’t get enough calcium!” Well hey listen to this, apparently I have plenty of calcium lol! For real though, there are many plant-based foods that are quite high in calcium, even higher than the average serving of cow’s milk: soybeans, broccoli, and kale are a few examples.

So let’s just say I was very very VERY excited to have a perfect report at the dentist after having a lifetime of bad reports, not going to the dentist for a year and a half, and not doing anything special or more than my regular habits. That’s pretty awesome.

4. Asthma

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I have a family history of heart problems, thyroid issues, and what seems like a million other things. When I was in 3rd grade I believe, I was diagnosed with asthma. After all, it was the only explanation for my struggle to breathe as easily as the other kids when I exerted myself (not saying asthma isn’t a real thing but I’ll get to my point). Whenever we’d have to jog the dreaded mile in gym class, I was always last. I would be heaving, coughing, and choking all while my chest felt tight and squeezy, my throat and mouth were completely dried out, and I felt like I was going to throw up and die any second. Even speed walking or walking to class with a backpack on would make me feel this way! Thankfully I only ever had a small handful of asthma attacks growing up, only one of which had me sent to the hospital and it ended up being a side effect of walking pneumonia.

Since going to college, I never really needed to use my inhaler. Yes, I would still get just as out of breath and have chest pains when I’d try to exert myself, but I was so used to it that I would just avoid any activities that may trigger those symptoms.

There are many studies that claim veganism can “reverse” certain diseases and illnesses. I honestly don’t know if that’s true, but if it is then that’s fantastic! I can say, however, that it has either reduced or potentially even eliminated my asthma. I suppose I shouldn’t claim the latter until I try jogging a mile again or hiking up a mountain, but I can proudly say that I no longer have those out-of-breath feelings or chest pains when I exert myself in any way! Now I can speed walk a full mile without even remotely running out of breath, and I can do a full yoga/weightlifting workout without breathing heavily or having chest pains at all. I can even visit my family in Colorado at a crazy high altitude and feel fine!! And I have to say, it’s one of the most amazing feelings!

5. Heart problems

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When I was in high school, I was diagnosed with Inappropriate Tachycardia: an unexplained naturally rapid heart rate. I got used to telling any and every doctor in college that I had this before they used their stethoscope. Unfortunately one time they took it too far, decided to run an EKG to investigate, thought I was having an arrhythmia, and sent me to the ER only to find out everything was fine. I got very used to my resting heart rate being in the mid-90s to mid-100s.

About 4 months into me being vegan, I was sitting at work one day and my resting heart rate had shot up to 145 bpm. I ended up realizing this was a panic attack, which I discussed and addressed with the counselor I had been seeing at the time. She ended up diagnosing me with a non-severe anxiety disorder and put me on medication to help balance out the chemicals in my brain. And while it did wonders, my heart rate was still on the higher side.

Earlier this year (2018), I ended up going to the doctor 3 or 4 times within a period of 3 months for various things. And every time, when I’d warn the doctor about my heart rate, it would always come out normal. My resting heart rate was always in the mid-70s, and she would say there’s no evidence of any Inappropriate Tachycardia. After this I began monitoring my heart rate regularly and sure enough, my resting heart rate is always between mid-70s and low-80s!

Again, not going to post all the references here, but I promise I’ve done extensive amounts of research on the subject haha. Studies have shown that many animal products have been linked to things like cancer and heart disease. Studies have also shown a significant decrease in risks for these things in vegans. Again, I don’t know if my plant-based diet has “reversed” my heart issues, but if anything it has reduced them to the point that I don’t even notice anymore and I feel fantastic!!

All my life I was convinced that I would never be able to do anything that required much endurance. I just assumed it was in my genetics–just the way God made me–that I would have heart and lung issues forever. The idea of carrying around my future baby scared me cause I feared I wouldn’t be able to do it without hurting myself. Or, in the event of some sort of emergency where I needed to run away, I just resigned to the fact that I wouldn’t be able to and I’d just be doomed haha. But everything is different now.

Of course, some people may say “well it’s probably not your diet, it’s other things.” But that’s just it! I haven’t changed anything else! My eating habits are the only change I’ve made to my body in the last year and a half. I’m reading a fantastic book right now which I will share with you another time soon, and it constantly reminds of the fact that what we put into our bodies is what we will get out of them.

If you’re choosing to ingest meat (which, by the way, takes up to 72 hours to go through your intestines because we have crazy long intestines unlike carnivores who have very short intestines, soooo yeah, dead animal flesh just chillin’ and rotting in your intestines for 3 days, yum), you may get some of those nutrients contained in the meat, but you can get them in a much purer, whole form in plants. Especially if you try to eat whole, raw foods as much as possible!

Meat is obviously heavily processed, and so is dairy. Processed foods in general (including vegan processed foods) are terrible for our bodies. The nutrients that would have been in the original food (if they were even there to begin with) have been stripped away, synthetic alternatives have been added, and they’re just not good for our stomachs either!

The Probiotic Thing

So let me address the probiotic thing I said earlier. Why do I still take probiotics if I’m vegan? Isn’t veganism supposed to be this magical cure I’m advocating for? Well hold on haha.

I originally took a probiotic capsule every morning to help with my digestive problems. And even when I went vegan, I still had to take them. I wasn’t finding any vegan foods that were “natural” probiotics like yogurt and sauerkraut are often known for (I’ve now discovered miso is a great probiotic!). Why did I still have to take them? Because I was eating waaaaaay too many vegan processed foods. Many vegans like to joke about the two types of vegans: the “junk food vegan” and the “healthy vegan” lol. I was most definitely the junk food vegan! There are just so many fantastically delicious vegan alternatives to meat and cheese and lots of yummy snacks out there! The only problem is that they’re all so processed!! Which is totally fine to have every once in a while, but I was having them way too often, which upset my stomach and made me afraid to stop taking the probiotics.

Recently I finally took charge and started eating fully organic, whole, raw vegetables and fruits. I eat whole grains, legumes, and raw nuts. The only things I’ve been eating that are already cooked would be breads and tortillas and things like that.

And oh. my. goodness.

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I FEEL AMAZING!!!! It’s incredible how eating healthy can make such a huge difference!!! I mean obviously I was already healthier by being plant-based in general, but being vegan without all the processed junk?? TOTALLY WORTH IT. I just told my mom on the phone the other day how this is seriously probably the best I have ever felt in my entire life. And I am seriously not kidding.

I have so much more energy, I’m in a fantastic mood, my stomach isn’t hurting, I’m gaining healthy weight and building muscle, and more! I can’t stop talking about how great I feel to Mitch and he’s happy for me haha.

YOU GUYS. SERIOUSLY. If you want to improve your health, you really need to start with what you’re putting into your body. You know what they say: you are what you eat. And it’s so true!! I’ve also started saying “consume death, and death will consume you.” A bit more of a morbid take, but think about it. Eating dead animals to stay alive and healthy? Why do that when you can eat plants that produce seeds and grow on their own so you can stay alive and healthy even longer, all while enjoying a higher quality of life?? What’s the point in God making all these amazing plants that do amazing things for our bodies if we’re not going to use them??

Please please PLEASE try eating plant-based for once in your life. You can’t knock it till you try it–correctly. I know many people who say “I tried going vegan and I hated every minute of it, I felt horrible!!” But that’s usually because they did it wrong! Instead of eating plants that contained all the nutrients they were attempting to get from meat beforehand, they just weren’t getting those nutrients from anything at all. Of course you’re going to feel horrible if you do that! But seriously, if you eat right you can really make a huge positive difference in your health. And I hope my experiences can be a positive testament to that!

If you have ever considered going vegan or even just vegetarian, and you have some questions, feel free to ask me or my husband! We’ve done a lot of extensive research on the subject to ensure we’re being as healthy and ethical as possible. But of course, with all things, make sure to do your own research on it as well and come to your own conclusions.

Thank you for reading, and remember to comment with any questions you may have on the subject! See you next time!

~Laura ❤

*I’m using “vegan” and “plant-based” interchangeably for this post since I’m mainly focusing on the food aspect. Plant-based refers to one’s diet. Veganism refers to an entirely cruelty-free lifestyle. I am entirely vegan in my lifestyle as a whole but am just discussing food here!
**all stock photos from pexels.com!

An Appreciation for Nature

As a Christian, I believe God created everything with a purpose. He created the plants, the animals, the humans, etc. I’ve always had a great appreciation for nature because it blows my mind that God made it all with such intricate detail. I have especially gained a unique love and new outlook on nature in the recent couple of years since I became vegan.

Although I originally became vegan for my health, it has grown into so much more. After deep research and prayer I’ve come to the conclusion that everything in nature is a gift from God, and we are to cherish and appreciate that gift to the best of our abilities. We are to care for animals and allow them to live their lives in freedom and safety. We are to sow and reap the seeds and plants God has provided for us to eat. But I’m not going to go off on my vegan tangent for my blog post this time around 😉

Growing up, I was raised to believe that I should always appreciate God’s creation. Just as Psalm 66:4 states:

“The whole earth will worship you and sing praise to you. They will sing praise to your name.”

All of creation inherently knows of God’s might and wisdom, and glorifies him through its existence.

However, growing up I was also under the impression that appreciating nature “too much” was a sign of paganism or any belief that placed God on a lower level. Which I now find very interesting.

Lately I’ve gotten very into nature in ways I never really explored before. I’ve tried my hand at gardening, started collecting crystals, allowed “pests” to take residence around our house, worked harder to recycle and reduce the amount of trash we throw away, and become more conscious of the materials I use in my everyday life. Allow me to expand upon these:

  1. Gardening. Ever since we went vegan, Mitch and I have been very interested in growing our own food. We’ve worked harder to purchase mainly organic produce at the store, but we would ultimately like to eat the food from our own harvest. There’s just something so cool about growing and eating your own vegetables, just how God intended for it to work! Plus it would reduce the amount of packaging materials we use, as well as the money we spend. It would also be much healthier because we would be in control of the chemicals that come in contact with the food.

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    Our tomato plant before the birds ate all the tomatoes…

  2. Crystals. I would like to get one thing straight: I do not believe in the healing powers of crystals. I am aware that there are many people who do, and I know of specific people who use them for Wiccan and Pagan purposes. I simply love crystals because they are so beautiful and I find their colors, translucence, and shapes to be very inspiring–especially for my art. Crystals are yet another form of God’s gorgeous creation, and I see nothing wrong with enjoying them! Just because a person collects crystals does not mean they are witches or devil-worshipers lol.

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    They’re so beautiful!!

  3. Pests. We have so many animals in our back yard. Wild rabbits, gophers, mice, birds, and even a stray cat will come to visit every once in a while. Because we are vegan and respect the lives of all animals, it doesn’t bother us at all! It is a bit frustrating when the gophers try to dig holes all over the yard, but we simply sprinkle some cat droppings over the mounds and the gophers stay away for a while haha. Ultimately our goal is to coexist peacefully with the animals around us, rather than kill or exterminate them. We believe we are to care for animals and allow them to live a safe and free life, so we do our best to let them be and not get in their ways. Unfortunately a couple of the rabbits will wander into our garage and die, which upsets me a lot. I feel like our living here has disrupted God’s creation and is causing more death to nature than necessary. 😦 It’s happened twice now, so we have just returned the bodies to the yard and nature takes its course. The rabbits are food for the stray cat and the other creatures that come by, as the circle of life goes on.

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    I can never get a clear picture of them without them running away lol

  4. Recycling. I grew up in Colorado, where we would get charged extra if we had more trash than recycling haha. So I’ve gotten very used to the concept. You can imagine my frustration when I moved to the south and recycling was practically non-existent!! I hated it! Thankfully Mitch and I now live in a neighborhood that does support recycling (the city has started to catch on in general which is great) and I make a point to actually do it.  Because of my growing appreciation for God’s creation, I would like to do my best to keep from destroying it further with garbage and pollution. Obviously I’m not doing a 100% perfect job at being eco-friendly, but I do try my best to be conscious of it.

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    The edgiest shirt I own lol

  5. Eco-consciousness. One of my friends recently shared an article about the “no-straws” movement, explaining how harmful straws can be to animals in the ocean. I knew this was definitely an issue, but I told myself “well, I don’t really use straws anyway so I’m good.” Then I realized I use disposable straws to drink smoothies all the time! I immediately went to the store to buy reusable, washable straws haha. I’ve also ditched plastic silverware and paper plates–which I didn’t use much to begin with, although I did use plastic silverware in my lunch at work. Now I only pack reusable silverware for lunch, and we only use our actual washable dishes for food in general. We also mainly use Tupperware instead of disposable Ziplocks, but my next purchase will probably definitely be reusable Ziplocks for those times we do use them! I guess what I’m saying is that if I really appreciate the nature around me, I should do my best to (as I said in the recycling point) reduce the amount of destruction I bring to it.

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    There are so many cute, cheap options for reusable dishes!

Some people may see these sorts of things as “pagan” or maybe I sound like a “hippie” lol. But I really see no problem with appreciating nature, as long as I remember who created it. Obviously I’m not worshiping nature or idolizing it in any way as far as I know, I’m simply doing my part to care for and tend to the earth God has given us. We only get one, so we might as well act like it! I may not be doing a perfect job and of course I can’t account for every single aspect, but I’m doing my best!

~Laura ❤

My First Attempt At Gardening

I’ve always loved gardens. Flower gardens and food gardens alike. My mom has always been very good at flower gardening, and my dad has been very successful with growing food like tomatoes, garlic, strawberries, and grapes (to name a few). My husband and I have dreamed of being able to grow our own food, and I’ve always wanted to have a flower garden of my own to admire.

We’ve been needing to do yard work for a few weeks now, but the weather hasn’t allowed us to. Finally we had a nice weekend so we went out to the store and got all of our supplies! We didn’t get as many plants as we would’ve liked, but we want to get the yard in better shape first before we embark on any large gardening endeavors. So we pulled and trimmed lots of weeds, and we’ll work on mowing the grass and spreading Weed & Feed tomorrow.

There’s an odd flower bed by our front porch. It has two medium-sized holly bushes on either side, and an empty gap in the middle. I’ve struggled to figure out what kinds of plants would match with the holly, and eventually my mom helped me decide to just get a planter to fill with annual flowers for this year until I get the hang of things.

I already forgot the names of these flowers lol. But they were super pretty! At first I only grabbed the pink ones (Lowe’s surprisingly didn’t have a huge selection, but they had more perennials than annuals) and then I saw the lavender flowers. I know they’re not called lavender, but I already forgot their actual name haha. I gasped really loud when I saw them because they’re some of my favorite types of flowers, and even though they were perennials I had to get them! I then found the cute yellow flowers when I ran back out to the store to get more supplies so I grabbed them.

 

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Here is a “before” picture of the garden bed. There were lots of tiny weeds and dead leaves in the dirt and the bushes were getting a bit unruly. Sorry for the bad lighting, I was just taking this quick photo to send to my mom to get her opinion on flowers before I went out to the store haha.

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I spent about 30-45 minutes pulling all the clovers and weeds and clearing out the dead stuff, and Mitch trimmed the bushes. Here’s how it looked after, along with the new planter and some extra soil scattered around the sidewalk from re-potting the plants lol:

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Unfortunately the planter is smaller than I would’ve liked, but the next size up seemed too big at the store. This will have to do for now, but I may scoot the security sign to a different location and center the planter so it doesn’t look too lopsided. The soil in the garden bed was actually not bad, so I suppose I could’ve planted the flowers directly in the ground, but I already don’t trust myself to keep these flowers alive so I didn’t wanna put too much effort into it this first time lol 😉

Mitch also bought a tomato plant and put it in another pot in the back yard, but I forgot to get a photo of it! I’ll have to take some photos tomorrow and over time to show the growth!

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This wooden planter was used for the tomato plant, which is that tall one in the back of the pot.

I also got a couple pots of succulents. I really like succulents, but the last time I got real ones to keep in the house my cat Obi insisted on killing them! He would pick them up by the tips with his teeth and fling them across the room, getting soil everywhere! We don’t know if he was trying to eat them or play with them (I researched beforehand to make sure they weren’t toxic to cats just in case) but yeah. Those were a different kind of succulent than the ones I got today though.

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I’ve wanted to get real succulents again for about a year now, but I didn’t want Obi to destroy them again haha. I finally just went ahead and got some this time, making sure they were safe for cats, and these ones are actually less poky than the ones I had before. I’m hoping Obi doesn’t have any interest in chewing on them or messing with them, but I guess we’ll just have to see!

I also love geometric terrariums, so these succulents were a perfect excuse to finally get one! Unfortunately I did an awful job re-potting the succulents and leaves were snapping off here and there. I don’t know why but I was really beating myself up about it, saying I was already a terrible plant owner. But I read that you can grow more succulents from the leaves that break off, so I just placed the broken leaves in the dirt with the intact ones. They may not take root but at least I tried!

I don’t love how the terrarium ones came out, but I am proud of the ones in the glass vase. I ended up using that one as a centerpiece for our dining table because I’ve been wanting a new centerpiece for a while now!

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Ignore the silly little tray under the vase, I ended up removing that haha

So there you go! Honestly I’m not super proud of my work, but I am proud that I actually went and did it. I’ve been saying I want flowers and plants for a while now, but I never actually did anything about it. Now that I’ve tried it at least once, I have the experience and I’ve already learned a lot from it! I can’t wait to have an even bigger, better, flourishing flower garden someday in the future when I get the hang of it! I also can’t wait to see that tomato plant grow and maybe we can make some homemade salsa like my dad used to make! 😀

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~Laura ❤

Will College Be Relevant Anymore?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately. Do you think college/university will be relevant in 20 years?
College is insanely expensive, and many college graduates are finding themselves unable to get jobs relating to their majors (or any job at all), leaving them in thousands of dollars of debt and a lack of job experience in their mid-20s or later.
Lots of young adults end up being diagnosed with severe anxiety and depression after the stress of college.
And with the amount of online courses available at affordable prices (e.g. Skillshare) , as well as free education like Youtube videos and websites (for example, CodeAcademy for web coding lessons), with the amount people may change their minds or majors throughout college it almost makes more sense to forego college altogether and learn at your own pace in a more accessible manner. Tech/trade schools seem to be more popular as well.
I’ve also found that many people end up finding a job in a completely different field than their college major anyway, and many find that those years of college education were wasted.
Of course, this does not account for the other aspects of college. College can, sometimes, allow one to discover themselves personally, expand their social circles, network with professionals and teachers, and take their time to become adults rather than jumping straight into adulthood immediately after high school graduation. But still…
 
As far as education goes, yes I did learn a lot in college but I wonder if it really made up for the amount of time and money I spent on it.
I’m just writing down my stream of thoughts as they come so it’s not perfect, but seriously. I wonder how college/university will be viewed in 20 years whenever our kids reach adulthood? Whenever my husband and I have kids, will college be a goal for them, or will there be a different adulthood goal by then? Will it be easier to learn whatever we want whenever we want? Will it be more realistic for our kids to want to be “content creators” or “social media influencers” and have that be their main, steady source of income? Will they be better off with their money if they don’t go to college, because they used those four to six (or more) years to work and save money instead of spend it on college classes, room/board, textbooks, and supplies? Perhaps they’ll be able to afford a house at an earlier age (or even afford a house at all unlike many people currently in their mid-20s to 30s).
Idk, it’s just interesting to think about. I’ve thought many times that I may not want to encourage my future children to go to college when they grow up. Not that I’ll tell them not to, but I won’t make it like that’s the only option either. Or maybe I will? I guess we’ll just have to see.
Please comment with your thoughts, I’m interested to know! And remember to keep it friendly 🙂 Thanks for reading!
~Laura ❤