Sweet, Sweet Sunday

National Dress Gaudy Day

Today is National Dress Gaudy Day, a national “holiday” inspired by the TV show “Three’s Company”…a day that gives us an annual excuse to wear the most unstylish things that we can find.

But sadly there are people every single day wearing terrible clothes who have never gotten the message that dressing “gaudy” is only acceptable one day per year, not all 365.

Sadly, you find people…

  • Showing up to PTA meetings in cut-offs…
  • Wearing “hooker” clothes to church…
  • Finding themselves on websites such as “People of WalMart”…
  • Being nominated for TV shows such as “What Not to Wear”…

And as for me personally, I don’t care to be the latest “talk of the town.”

Nowhere has the fact that many of us have very little, if any, knowledge when it comes to fashion..even though most of us have enough sense to actually wear clothes to Walmart?…been more noticeable than when “business casual” and “casual Friday” became part of the work world.

So what exactly does “business casual” mean? And how can you add a “business casual” to your budget?

Obviously, “business casual” will mean different things from job to job, industry to industry, office to office, and state to state.

And even though there is no “official” rulebook for dressing “business casual,” there are basic principles such as…

First of all, when starting to create any type of wardrobe, you should strive to…

  • (1) eliminate the amount of time spent folding, organizing, buying and washing clothes
  • (2) fill your closet only with clothes that actually make you feel fantastic, that you absolutely love, and that make you happy
  • (3) keep you from mindlessly shopping despite the fact that you clearly have tons of clothing already
  • (4) keep you from staring at a closet full of clothing each morning, and yet feeling that you have nothing to wear

(5) weed out those pieces that you actually never wear now, and probably never will wear again

1. Face the Facts…Be completely honest with who you are now…not the person you used to be, the person you hope to one day become, or some other type of person that you honestly are not.

Don’t think about what you wish you could afford, wish you could fit, and wish you had the lifestyle to wear.

Dressing professionally means dressing to do your job in a well-groomed and non-distracting fashion.

Never wear denim, shorts, miniskirts, crazy makeup, or anything vinyl or sequined.

Get tips from your coworkers.

Ignore the “dress for the job you want” thing. Dress for the job you actually have and for what is right for you. You don’t want to look like the geek who is trying way too hard.

2. Fewer But Better…Quality pieces, taken care of properly, will generally last much longer than cheap pieces It makes sense to invest in things you know you’ll actually wear often…such as black trousers, pencil skirts and blazers.

Buying fewer clothes will allow you to purchase higher quality, longer-lasting pieces that would otherwise be too expensive.

Establish a color palette.

Invest in a few keys pieces. Add other items slowly…. It’s much better to have a smaller wardrobe full of great pieces than a closet full of junk. Don’t try to build a wardrobe all at once. First buy the bare minimum pieces, and get a sense of what your office is like and what feels right on you in that environment. Then you will have time and money to make better choices.

Sell old clothes to offset the costs….Selling old clothes on eBay or at consignment stores will help the people currently needing that item and provide you additional cash for the new items you need.

Shop online….Even though shopping online means that you obviously will not be able try the clothes on before buying them, you can often find really great deals.

Stay away from full-priced department store items….Great pieces can be found much cheaper at stores like T.J. Maxx and Ross, and consignment and thrift stores.

3. Figure Out What You Actually Need..Having a list of what you already have and getting rid of those things that are simply occupying space enables you to actually see what you already have, figure what else you need, and create different outfit combinations.The following list of items might give you some idea of what your wardrobe might consist of.

  • Tops…1 trench…2 blazers…3 dresses…1 cardigan…2 lightweight sweaters…5 blouses…a layering tank…4 T-shirts
  • Bottoms..1 skirt…2 pairs of shorts…1 pair of white linen pants, full length…3 pairs of cropped pants (one colored, one khaki, one black)…1 pair of boyfriend jeans
  • Accessories…2 scarves…3 necklaces…1 set of bangles…1 cocktail ring…1 pair of sunglasses…1 neutral handbag…4 pairs of shoes

4. Find Your Favorites…Your capsule wardrobe should consist only of those items Thad you absolutely love…Notice what gets the most wear and why. This can help you figure out what NOT to purchase in the future.

Dress comfortably…Feel free to be yourself…If you feel uncomfortable, you won’t look very professional.

Choose slightly more structured versions of what you already like to wear.

5. Find Your Niche…Your lifestyle, tastes, job, budget, and even the climate will all play a role in defining what works for you. Define your own “personal style” and color palette. This will allow you to be more specific and selective when shopping.

Create a “uniform.” This takes the work and the panic element out of getting dressed every morning. Two examples of “uniforms” would be almost always wearing A-Line skirts, low heels and blouses…or wide-legged pants, Oxfords and a sweater.

Know your brands and what you’re looking for.

6. Fit the Puzzle Together…..Never buy anything if it doesn’t go with at least two to four other pieces. .Look for those retailers who best fit your figure, your budget, and your lifestyle.

Don’t worry too much about what everyone else is wearing. Business casual runs the gamut in any given office.

7.  Forget Following the Trends..Forget following trends that will be gone next year and replaced with new trends. Classics, such as a white buttondown and khaki pants, are the basics

8. Forget the Forty…Forty is not some magical wardrobe number. No dress, skirt, or perfect 40-piece capsule wardrobe will magically transform your life or make you look ten years younger and twenty pounds thinner. What matters is that you have a wardrobe of clothing that you absolutely love and can’t bear to part with.

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Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Cruelty-Free and Minimalistic Makeup for Fall

I admit, I’m definitely not a makeup artist or fashionista, but I am a woman from Mississippi…

And being a woman from Mississippi, there are two things that all of us, or at least all of us that were born in my generation in my neck of the woods were expected to learn…

First of all, how to cook…which I’m having to unlearn all of the bad habits and cooking techniques that I grew up with now that my husband has been diagnosed as having type 2 diabetes…

And secondly, how to always look your best….even when you’re simply going to Walmart…

After all, you never know who you might run into…

 

This year one of my main goals has been to live a simpler and more minimalistic lifestyle…in all aspects of my daily routine, starting with my daily makeup routine.

BUT…

I have found myself with three different trains of thought as to buying makeup…

  1. Brand Loyaty
  2. Cheap as Dirt
  3. Cruelty-Free

Regardless which of these three options I continue to pursue in the months, and even years, ahead…

There is one main thing that I want to be consistent…My one big “key word” for the year…

Minimalism

 

So in this post I am going to talk about what makeup trends I have spotted this fall,, the different stess involved in each category, and which products I am considering adding to my makeup bag sometime soon.

 

1.  Face Primer..Primers seal in your skincare products, help fill in pores and fine lines, create a smooth surface on which to apply your foundation, and help your makeup last all day. Look for an oil-free, water-based primer…Cruelty-Free Pick…Vapour STRATUS SOFT FOCUS SKIN PERFECTING PRIMER

2.  Foundation..Opt for an oil-free foundation. Oil-based products improve the risk of your makeup “sliding” out of place. Use a beauty blender to apply light layers to create a smooth, natural look…Cruelty-Free Pick…Mineral Fusion Pressed Powder Mineral Foundation

3.   Concealor…Concealor should be lightweight and actually help get rid of undereye dark circles, allergy-induced redness, and occasional breakouts…not simply hide them…And of course, a natural concealor should contain no skin-irritating synthetics, chemicals, wax, preservatives, parabens, phthalates, or talc…all without looking dry or cakey.

Which concealor you use depends on what problem you are trying to cover…

  • To cover bluish undereye circles, use a yellow-tone concealer.
  • To cover brown or yellowish circles, peach-tone concealers are best
  • To cover fine lines around your eyes, pat moisturizer all around the eyes, using your ring finger. Allow it to sink in for a few minutes before applying concealer. Creamy, hydrating concealers work best for the delicate and dry skin around the eyes.
  • To cover redness, choose a concealer that matches your skin exactly.
  • To cover pimples, dot a pigment-rich, opaque concealer directly on the pimple. Sweep the brush around the base of the pimple, using tiny strokes in order to precisely blend the concealor without using your fingers.

Using Concealor..

  1. Place three tiny dots of concealor under the eyes from the inner corners to the centers, using a synthetic concealer brush. A synthetic brush is best for applying concealor. Applying concealer with your fingers results in creasing and caking. Applying concealer with a natural bristles results in applying too much color..
  2. Blend in with your fingertips.
  3. Apply a lightweight, loose translucent powder to set the concealor and prevent any shimmer and shine…Pressed powder can draw attention to fine lines by settling into creases.

4. Powder...A lightweight translucent pressed setting powder sets your makeup for longer wear and can easily be taken with you and used to soak up any excess oil throughout the day….Cruelty-Free Option.. Jane Iredale pure Matte Finish Powder.

5. Setting Spray...Setting sprays seal your makeup for a very natural look that lasts all day and refresh your makeup throughout the day…Cruelty-Free Option …Dr. Axe’s DIY Makeup Setting Spray with Lavender Oil

1.  Mix together…

  • 1Tbsp aloe vera gel 
  • 1Tbsp witch hazel
  • 5 drops of lavender essential oil
  • 2½Tbsp purified water

2.  Funnel into glass spray bottle. Shake well.

3.  To use…Hold the bottle a few inches away from the face and mist the face with one or two pumps of this spray after applying your makeup…Allow it to air dry.

6. Blotting Papers...Blotting papers may soak up oils during the day, but often take off more of your makeup than you would probably like. Try using Beauty Blender’s Bloterazzi Sponge instead.

7.  Blush…As far as blush goes for this fall, the two colors to look for are “earthy” tones”—more specifically peachy-pink and orange….This is great for those of us who want to embrace a “no-makeup” look.

To apply…Concentrate the color on the highest points of the cheekbones to give the face dimension and a more angular shape. Placing blush on the high points of the cheeks instead of the apples.

 

EYES

Eyeshadow

This year there seems to be several trains of thought as to eyeshadow…

  • Glitter
  • Pink
  • Shimmer
  • Statement
  • Tan

1. Glitter…Glitter eyeshadow may be the perfect way to transition from your everyday minimalistic makeup look to a more decadent look that is perfect for the upcoming holiday festivities.

2. Pink…Pink eyeshadow can range from a subtle and practical “neutral” to a wild statement piece. The best way to wear these, or at least for real women walking sidewalks instead of runways would be to think of this as if it were a tan eyeshadow and not a big deal.

3. Shimmer...Shimmer eyeshadow is another festive choice and is way more conservative than glitter eyeshadows.

4. Statement…Focusing on one area, such as your lips or eyes, and keeping the rest of your face with a neutral “no-makeup” look is almost always better than a full armor of makeup. This look offers a tension and contrast that adds interest to your overall look.

Just as higher hair doesn’t make you any closer to God, neither does a full face (“armor”) of makeup indicate that you have put on the “full armor of God.”

5. Tan….Another eyeshadow trend for this fall is tan shadow.  Tan eyeshadow is a practical and classier choice that flatters every woman,

These “tan” shadows offer several great options—such as deep golden tan, deep camel, golden brown, or pale cappuccino.

 

Eyeliner

Black

  • Black eyelinmeri is to eyes what classic red is—well, classic…
  • Black eyeliner has been used ince the days of Cleopatra and is always an excellent choice amd can run the gamut of looks—from dainty and sophisticated, to bold and daring000seductive.
  • Make sure that the black eyeliner that you choose is a deep midnight black.

Colored Eyeliner

  • For minimalists who actually take the time to still ut on makeup, there are two basic choices as far as eyeliner—black, obviously, and colored for those brave minimalists out there…
  • Colored eyeliners brighten your eyes and bring out your natural eye color.
  • Colored eyeliners are also an unexpected way to add some color into a minimalistic everyday makeup look.
  • As far as color, certain colors look better for certain eye colors.
  • Blue eyes look best with blue, pink, purple, and orange
  • Brown eyes look best with light purple, deep green, and navy blue….
  • Green eyes look best with purple, burnt pink, and light blue shades.

Waterlining

  • Waterlining and tighthlining your eyes will help define their natural shape.
  • Waterlining…Waterlining involves using eyeliner to line the tiny, little sliver of skin underneath your eyelashes.
  • Tightlining…Tightlining involves using eyeliner to line the skin above your lower lashes. Tightlining makes your lashes look even thicker.
  • These techniques can be done along with your normal eyeliner, or instead of your normal eyeliner.
  • BUT…
  • Waterlining and tightlining can both make your eyes look smaller….so if you want your eyes to look bigger, forget the idea.

White Eyeliner

  • Using white eyeliner to line your lower lashes, on the other hand, can make small eyes look bigger, and tired eyes look more awake.
  • Regardless if you are waterlining with a colored eyeliner or a white eyeliner, the product and technique will be exactly the same.
  • First of all, what type of eyeliner should you use?
  • Use either a waterproof pencil or waterproof gel/cream, not a liquid> Liquid  liners are too fluid and will not stay on your waterline.
  • If you’re brave, you could dip an angled brush into an eyeshadow that’s the same color as your liner, and press this over the liner that you applied to your waterline. Not sure as a contact wearer, that I’m quite that brave.

 

 

Mascara…As far as mascara for this fall, it run from one extreme to the other…

  • Colored mascara—such as blue or green—may seem a little bit of a very unexpected stretch for minimalists.
  • No Mascara…For minimalists, this is awesome news. ou don’t absolutely have to wear mascara to complete your makeup look. In fact, too much mascara can actually make your makeup look too “made up.”

 

Brows…Thank goodness that pencil-lined arches and bold painted silhouettes are now a trend that has come and gone. Fortunately the latest “trend” calls for undone, au natural, “textured,” bigger-is-better brows….filled in with an eyebrow combs and  brow gel.

 

 

Makeup Tips for Women Who Wear Glasses

Lately I have been walking around barely able to see. I ran out of contacts, so I had to wear my glasses…

But being cheap I had not ordered the bifocals that I should have ordered, and having glasses on, I obviously couldn’t put on reading glasses.

It took about three weeks for me to finally order my contacts and for them to come in.

But in the meanwhile I felt very self-conscious in my glasses, especially at first.

Eyewear makes your eyes the immediate focal point of your face, so it’s imperative to apply your makeup in a way that’s flattering to both your frames and your face.

Less is definitely more. Applying makeup to wear with glasses is not a matter of piling on more and more makeup. Instead it’s about using the right makeup and techniques…things like keeping your eye makeup simple, using a light hand, blending everything carefully, and keeping your makeup tidy, well-defined and as close to “perfect” as possible.

Yet putting on eye makeup can not be thought of as merely a waste of time because any makeup that you apply will simply be hidden behind your glasses.

 

 

LIPS

So in this second segment of trasitioning to  fall, I thought it would be fun to share a few tips on lips…

Even though choosing lip colors is a very personal thing…

When choosing your lip-whatevers, it’s important to consider at least five things…

  • Eye Color
  • Hair Color
  • Lip Color
  • Personality
  • Skin Tone

And being a minimalist, it would be so incredibly easy to stay stuck in a rut and simply wear the same neutral color of Burt’s Bees for the entire rest of my life…

So even though I am becoming more and more minimalistic with each and every trip that I make to Mission Arlington, I still feel a need to have more than one magic wand in my arsenal—including lipsticks, glosses and hybrid lip stains—to help create different looks for both everyday life and special occasions.

Typically lip “stuff” falls into the following four color groups…

  • Clsassic Red
  • Colorful
  • Neutrals
  • Pinks

 1.Classic Red…Bold red lips are the classic icon of everything from being the perfect go-to accent for the LBD to being the most-important accessory of Hollywood legends.

Red lips are magical and mysterious, are great for waking up a tired look, brightens up your smile, and giveyou the appearance of whiter teeth.

All that being said, my three choices for “classic red” lips this fall are…

2. Colorful…Bold and colorful lipsticks—such as fuchsia pink, bold orange, or coral—are always fun, sassy, and playful.  Look for a richly pigmented creamy coral lipstick that has the following characteristics…

  • applies opaque in just one coat
  • basically an orange lipstick, yet very close to a neutral
  • bright, bold, and brilliant
  • gives good staying power
  • super hydrating

One of the best ways to wear the look this fall would be with the rest of your makeup having that “no–makeup look” that all minimalists love. The bold lips serve as a stark contrast with your bare skin.

  1. Brand Loyalty…Best 7 Clinique Options
  2. Cruelty-Free…Pacifica Lipsticks
  3. Discount Bin…Best Drugstore Red Lipsticks

3. Neutrals

One of the biggest trends this fall as far as makeup is concerned is the neutral lip. This means that even Mississippi women can dare to go to Walmart without wearing any liner, gloss, lipstick, or anything like that at all.-

So how’s that for true minimalism?

Neutral lipstick—such as matte shades of browns, light pinks, mauve, tan, and caramel—are the go-to lip choice for everyday life.

And needless to say you always take your own lips with you everywhere you go—with or without makeup.

Make sure that the neutral lipstick that you choose is not too matte or too beige…and one that you can apply even without a mirror.

  1. Brand Loyalty….Clinique
  2. Cruelty Free…Best Cruelty-Free Lipsticks
  3. Discount Bin…Best Drugstore Neutral Lipsticks

4. Pinks…Pink lips supposedly make you look younger….So from now on, I think that I will simply always wear pink lipstick.

And if pink lipstick makes you look younger, why not go for pink hair also?

Pink lipsticks truly run the gamut—from blush to magenta to burgundy to purple and beyond. This fall the “pink” lipstick of choice is wine. Wine lipstick is compelling, mysterious, and intriguing. Wine lips work great with dark eyes and messy curls or bare skin and nude eyes…

So go ahead and invest in a quality wine lipstick….Brand Loyalty…7 Best Clinique Lipsticks

 

 

Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

What’s Next?

When I started this blog, I had no intention of turning this into yet another food blog. There are enough of those out there already.

Instead I wanted to talk about my journey to take our family to a more minimalistic and healthier lifestyle, especially since my husband was recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Some of the topics that I have learned more about so far in this journey have included…

  • How to deal with insomnia
  • Which cruelty-free products in my daily so-called “beauty” routine
  • What clothes to include as you switch to a minimalistic capsule wardrobe
  • How to read nutritional labels
  • What foods you can eat on a Raw Foods Pyramid

Even so, changing our lifestyle from the typical “Deep South” menu where everything is deep-fried or has lots and lots of cheese and heavy cream on it has taken priority right now.

So in these next few posts I’m going to be looking at the next rung of the Raw Foods Pyramid…

Leafy Greens…

Growing up in the Deep South, I never thought that I would actually enjoy eating, much less, cooking…things like turnip greens or collard greens. But now I actually enjoy eating them…especially when they’re served with lots and lots of bacon.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that adults consume at least three cups of dark green vegetables each week.

Thankfully, there are several varieties of leafy greens out there…I find the idea of eating three cups of mustard greens or collard greens still repulsive, but my Mom would be so glad that I actually do eat them now instead of feeding to the dog while she wasn’t looking.

So which ones should you choose and how do you use these before they sit too long in your food rotter, if you’re anything like me…

All leafy are packed with important and powerful nutrients, and most can also be found year round. This makes adding them to your menu for the week quite an easy task.

As far as nutritional value, all leafy greens are typically low in calories and fat….and high in protein per calorie, dietary fiber, vitamin C, pro-vitamin A carotenoids, folate, manganese and vitamin K.

Studies have shown that eating leafy greens may lower your risk of type 2 diabetes by 14 percent, a fact that I wish that I’d known when I first got married 32 years ago. Leafy greens have also been shown to improve your eyesight, bone health and skin elasticity while helping your blood to clot normally.

And even better, there are so many more varieties that can keep you from feeling like you are simply eating the required bowl of bagged salad every single night, night after night…

Some options that we will be taking a look at are…

  • Arugula
  • Beet Greens
  • Bok Choy
  • Boston (Butterhead)
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Collard Greens
  • Edible Green Leaves
  • Endive
  • Iceberg
  • Kale
  • Microgreens
  • Mustard Greens
  • Rapini (Broccoli Rabe)
  • Romaine
  • Spinach
  • Swiss Chard
  • Turnip Greens
  • Watercress

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

What’s In My…School Backpack of Our “Resident Four Year Old”

Today the “resident four year old” starts pre-k for the fall…a moment that any fifty year old chasing a four year old 24/7 looks forward to all summer long.

I imagine that I will drop him off and then come home and sleep until it’s time to pick him back up…I’ll let you know…

So even though he’s only in pre-K and doesn’t need too many things to take with him to school other than his lunch, a stuffed animal, and a nap-pad…(oh year, teachers…good luck getting him to take a nap)…this made me think about upgrading out school and office supplies to more environmentally friendly options.

Even school and office supplies can be unfriendly to the environment, as well as toxic…

A few of the toxic chemicals that are sometimes included in school and office supplies include…

  • asbestos (a known carcinogen) in crayons
  • benzene (a probable carcinogen) in dry-erase markers
  • lead (a neurotoxin) in children’s water bottles
  • phthalates (linked to hormone and developmental problems) in 3-ring binders

Not only that many of the companies that make school and office supplies are not cruelty-free.

So it’s important to think about things like that instead of simpy running to Dollar General and buying the cheapest items so that you can cross them off that dreaded back-to-school school supply shopping list this year…

A few trains of thought as far as shopping for school and supplies include…

1.Backpacks…As far as backpacks are concerned, the main train of thought should be to choose natural materials, such as cotton or hemp. Never choose PVC plastic at all costs.

2.  Crayons and Markers…As far as crayons are concerned, the main train of thought should be to choose crayons that are composed from beeswax and soy products. Always avoid cheap crayons which may be laced with asbestos.

3. Lunch Boxes…As far as lunch boxes are concerned, the main train of thought should be to choose reusable and durable, PVC-free lunch bags and lunch boxes that will last more than one season. Another great options, especially for adults, would be stainless steels. But whatever you do, avoid using plastic baggies and plastic wrap. Invest in a stainless steel water bottle….(I will look at a few more great options as well as ideas as to what to put in your lunch boxes in a future post).

4. Markers…As far as markers are concerned, the main train of thought should be to choose water based markers. Many permanent markers contains chemicals such as xylene, toluene, and other VOCs…which stands for Volatile Organic Compounds, my “one new thing learned at school today” for today.

5. Paper…As far as loose-leaf paper, notebooks, and binders are concerned, the main train of thought should be to shop for items made with recycled paper, and binders that either do not have a plastic cover or are clearly labeled PVC-free.

6. Pencils and Pens…As far as pencils and pens are concerned, the main train of thought should be to choose pencils that are made from recycled materials or wood from sustainably managed forest…and pens made from recycled plastic.

Thankfully there are sources for better school and office supplies that you would typically find at the local dollar store…sure, they may be more expensive…and honestly, these options might not be way more expensive…but depending on how committed you are or are not about the above concerns in all areas of your family’s life, you may want to get out your debit card so that you can buy some really cool new gadgets for the new school year.

Finally, some really great places online to shop or at least browse at these other options include…

Getting Healthy

Back Where I’m From, Sweet Tea Flows Like Water

In an earlier post, we had look at the best teas for helping you get to sleep, but this time let’s look at tea as far as helping you stay hydrated. Later as we move up the pyramid, we’ll then look at tea again as we clean out our spice cabinet and learn what’s really in all those red and white McCormick canisters that have probably been there for how long?

 

Tea obviously contains water…

After all, tea is made by infusing dried, crushed leaves or herbs in hot water

 

And tea contains herbs…

Herbal tea has been used in medicine in southern and eastern Asia for thousands of years, and drinking herbal tea has many health benefits—such as settling your stomach, burning fat, curing a cold, relieving muscle tension and twitching, calming the stomach, improving your mood, helping to manage stress, helping you lose weight, and helping you feel less stressed, sad, or anxious.

The people of the ancient Shang dynasty in China first introduced to our side of the globe by serving it to Portuguese missionaries during the 16th Century. The popularity of tea spread quickly throughout Europe and Asia.

 

But which tea?!

There is such a wide range of tea brands and varieties that choosing which tea to actually buy can seem mind-boggling….almost like choosing coffee or your favorite donut at Dunkin’ Donuts…

 

So which teas are best for when?!

Just like everything else, each of us probably has an opinion on which tea is their favorite, which brand to buy, how to make it, and so forth…

So in this post I have decided to simply list as many different types of tea as I could think of, and start exploring these different types of tea before we reach the herbs/spices rung of the Raw Foods Pyramid.

 

  1. Banana Tea—Dr. Oz RecipeNot only will banana tea help you fall asleep quicker and stay asleep longer, but bananas are rich in both potassium and magnesium, two minerals that can help your blood vessels and muscles relax.
  2. Basil Tea…Basil tea is made with fresh or dried herbs. Basil tea is perfect for helping with digestion.
  3. Black Tea…Black tea contains a lot of caffeine, which will obviously, or hopefully, help you stay awake and alert throughout the day….as well as other health benefits—such as repairing lung damage caused by cigarette smoke exposure and reducing the potential of stroke.
  4. Catnip TeaCatnip Tea?! Really?! Before now I only thought that catnip was just fun to give your cats, but the organic compound nepetalactone that is found in catnip is actually used in medicine to treat many things, including insomnia.
  5. Chai Tea...The traditional Indian spices in chai tea serve as a natural stimulant—helping to facilitate energy production within the body, boosting energy and mental clarity—all without that afternoon, post-caffeine crash.
  6.  Chamomile TeaChamomile Tea does the opposite of black tea…instead of  providing you with a huge dose of caffeine to keep you overstimulated and hyper all day, chamomile tea helps get rid of all that anxiety and stress. Chamomile tea has also been shown to provide many more health benefits—such as boosting blood circulation, getting rid of bloating and indigestion, and helping you get a good night’s sleep.
  7. Ginger Tea…Ginger tea provides just enough of a boost of natural energy boost to keep you feeling like you can tackle the world, improves circulation, and helps whenever you are feeling nauseous,
  8. Green Tea…Green tea can calm you down and make you feel relaxed. It contains L-theanine that boosts the brain waves, giving you a similar sensation that is experienced during meditation.Green Tea will help relieve a whole host of ailments including a slow metabolism and icommonly called the ‘wonder tea’….It’s packed with antioxidants, lowers cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure and even fights tooth decay.
  9. Honeybush Tea…This caffeine-free tea has a sweet, fragrant taste. Honeybush has a calming effect, reducing stress and easing the mind. It is also a powerful antioxidant, potentially reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer.
  10.  Indian masala chai…can keep your mind positive every day. It has properties that can lift up your mood and make you feel happier. This chai promotes positivity by stimulating your body to generate serotonin, a chemical that stabilizes the mood.
  11.  Lavender TeaLavender tea treats a variety of ailments, like agitation, anxiety and insomnia. Lavender is known for its mood stabilizing properties, reducing stressful feelings and acting as a muscle relaxant.Usually the first “natural” ingredient that I think of when thinking about ways to help relieve stress and calm down for the night is lavender, but I never knew that you could buy lavender tea…actually I’d never looked for it before…Lavender tea is your best option whenever you are sleepless. It promotes relaxation that places you in a sound and undisrupted sleep. Drinking lavender tea can also help improve blood circulation, and keep your nervous system in top condition. You can drink a cup every day before bedtime.
  12. Lemon or Orange Tea….to boost your mood. These two teas taste great and are effective in relaxing your body. Their scent will also calm you down.
  13.  Lemon Balm Tea…Lemon balm is an herb in the mint family. It has been used for thousands of years to induce a clam state. It promotes restful sleep, improving impulse control and reducing feelings of rage…Lemon Balm TeaLemon Balm Tea…Lemon Balm tea is good for anxiety, panic attacks and if you are feeling stressed. Adding a little honey to herbal teas is also beneficial and can make them a little more palatable too….Lemon balm is a herb commonly used to treat insomnia and to help with anxiety and stress. Lemon balm is often combined with other herbs, such as chamomile and valerian, to create a very powerful tea for insomniacs.
  14.  Lemon Verbena Tea…Lemon verbena is a plant native to South America. This herb, also known as lemon beebrush, is a powerful anti-inflammatory that helps regulate hormones. It’s mood-boosting properties help to reduce anxiety and depressive thoughts.
  15. Lemongrass tea…. This tea contains essential oils that help your body calm down. It is the best natural anti-depressant.
  16. Oat Straw Tea…Oat straw tea is made from the grassy stem part of the oat plant. Oat straw is considered a “nutrient dense” herb and is especially great for soothing the nervous system, helping to manage everyday stress, cleansing the liver and gallbladder, and supporting a healthy circulatory system.
  17. Oolong Tea…Oolong tea is high in antioxidants and is known to reduce bad cholesterol levels. For years, it has been considered the best tea for weight loss for both men and women. For the most optimal benefits, it is important to consume at least one glass, 2 to 3 times every day.
  18. Passion Flower TeaPassion flower tea is made from the leaves and vines of the passion plant, which is native to Mexico and Central America and was named “passion fruit” by  Spanish missionaries in Peru, who saw the flower’s design as being symbolic of the Passion of Christ. Passion flower tea contains many important nutrients—including vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, potassium and antioxidants.
  19. Peppermint Tea…Peppermint tea can help calm your mind and body. It is the best tea for your emotional wellness. If you have been suffering from a heart-breaking experience, all you need is a sip from peppermint tea. You should feel better after emptying a cup….Peppermint tea is the tea of choice whenever you are looking for something to help calm stomach problems such as indigestion before you go to bedPeppermint tea is known to soothe an upset stomach. It helps reduce nausea, stomach cramps, heartburn and motion sickness. It is also a known antispasmodic, reducing the chance of vomiting…Peppermint Tea….If you are feeling bloated, you can’t go past good old
  20. Rooibos Tea…This sweet, nutty tea is popular in South African countries. It is naturally caffeine-free, yet boots memory, focus and concentration. Rooibos tea also relives nervous tension and improves mental clarity.
  21. St John’s Wort TeaSt John’s Wort is a popular natural anti-depressant that helps relieve anxiety and stress, two of the most common causes of insomnia. But before using St. John’s Wort, make sure that is safe for you to use, based on your current state of health and any other medications you are currently taking.
  22. Tart Cherry Tea…Tart cherry tea is for the anxious people. It is effective against anxiety or restlessness. Drinking a cup of tart cherry tea will slow down the blood flow, just like how the lavender tea works. You will begin to feel more relaxed afterwards.
  23. Valerian TeaThere has been much debate as to the effectiveness of valerian and valerian tea, in helping people deal with insomnia and anxiety, even though people have been using the root of the valerian plant for its sedative properties for centuries.
  24. White Tea…White tea is both unfermented and uncured. In addition, is known for its potent anti-cancer properties, and is also shown to be highly effective for weight loss.

 helping you feel refreshed and optimistic….

Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Now What?!

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Okay, I have ADHD…I keep getting off track from my original plans and ideas…Happens all the time…Welcome to my world!!!

Anyway, my original plan in writing this blog was to talk about the changes that I am making in each step of my day to live a more minimalistic, simpler, and healthier lifestyle.

The first topic that I highlighted was Taking the Perfect Shower. Taking the perfect shower or bath is important because that is one of the best ways to prepare for a “good” night’s sleep, get rid of any “bad” moments of the day that you just went through, and help you from being stinky and “ugly.”

The next topic that I highlighted was Getting a Good Night’s Sleep. So many of suffer from insomnia and have bad nighttime habits—such as staying up way past midnight and midnight munching. Yet a good night’s sleep is important because…

From there I moved into the topic of the Raw Foods Diet and why it is important to stop eating processed foods and to start eating healthier in general. That is where I feel like I got sidetracked.

We all get the point. In order to improve our health and get more energy to chase a “resident four year” old, there are certain things that we must do—such as cut processed foods out of our diets and replace sugar with healthier substitutes.

But how do these facts affect our daily lives? Sometimes too much information can be overload. So instead of remaining on my textbook-like journey, I’d like to pause my “What Next” segment on the Raw Foods Diet…or at least not necessarily pause it, but to break this segment into four different “What Next” segments…

  • What’s for Breakfast?
  • What’s for Lunch?
  • What’s for Dinner?
  • I’m Still Hungry!!!

So let’s start with “What’s for Breakfast?”…

Why do we even need to eat breakfast in the first place? Won’t skipping breakfast allow me to hit the snooze button on my alarm clock enough times to get some more rest that I won’t need breakfast at all.

Wrong!

There are so, so, so many reasons that we should all be eating breakfast, but instead of dwelling on these reasons in order to avoid starting to sound too much like a textbook again, let’s look simply at what we should be eating and accept the fact that we should be eating in the first place.

So what should we be eating for breakfast?

This is the second step in my creating a Master Grocery List for my family. The first list of foods that I should keep on hand can be found on my Midnight Snacking post about what to eat before bed in order to help you sleep. 

Now let’s add to this Master Grocery List by focusing on what we should actually be eating for breakfast.

Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Essential Essential Oil Essentials

Way back in March, I had decided to choose one essential oil per month and discover just exactly what this particular oil is, what it’s used for, and so forth.

Well, this hasn’t happened…

So my goal in these next few posts is to catch up on these oils so that I can hopefully stick with my original goal of highlighting one essential oil per month.

Having written this blog for a short while, it seems like the “Muffins and Magnolias” mission has become…

—to begin living a healthier lifestyle and develop new habits that will simplify and improve your quality of life every single day.

I really believe that this is important, and that everyone—or at least almost everyone—wants to accomplish and learn about how to do this.

I also believe that developing the habit of using the right essential oils for the right purpose can be an important part of achieving this goal.

We began our venture into the world of essential oils with a list of the best essential oils for helping to cure insomnia. These essential oils are…

  1. Bergamot
  2. Cedarwood
  3. Frankincense
  4. Juniper Berry
  5. Lavender
  6. Marjoram
  7. Roman Chamomile
  8. Sandalwood
  9. Vetiver
  10. Ylang Ylang

This last series of posts about sugar substitutes and processed foods is starting to become to academic and serious…I need to take a short break from this topic myself, especially today while I will be preparing desserts for our 4th of July cookout tomorrow, right?!

So join me as we catch up on these essential oils that should have been included in posts from the last four months–cedarwood, frankincense, juniper berry, and lavender…and don’t feel guilty about eating that entire gallon of Blue Bell all by self tomorrow…I won’t…

 

Getting Healthy, Instruments, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Coconut Sugar

Okay, so now that I’ve started shopping at stores like Sprouts and Whole Foods, I think that I’ve seen every product imaginable made from coconut and learned several really good reasons to keep a good supply of castile soap and coconut oil on hand, so why does it surprise me that the almighty coconut can also be used as a sugar substitute.

Coconut sugar, made by drying out the sugary sap of coconut trees, has been used for centuries in many countries, including Indonesia and Cambodia.

This syrupy liquid has a taste much like brown sugar…and though coconut sugar

may often be more expensive than regular granulated sugar, coconut sugar is a much better option than many other sweeteners currently found on the market.

Coconut juice, which is where a lot of coconut sugar comes from, is full of potassium, electrolytes and nutrients…coconut sugar has many benefits that you will not find in regular table sugar, it may require large amounts to really make a positive affect.

Like plain white sugar, coconut sugar contains vitamins, minerals, trace elements—such as iron, zinc, calcium, potassium—as well as short-chain fatty acids, polyphenols, antioxidants, and phytonutrients—such as polyphenols, flavonoids and anthocyanidins—that help reduce blood sugar, inflammation, and cholesterol.

Coconut sugar also contains about twice as much iron and zinc as the same amount of granulated table sugar…as well as 25% DV of potassium per four ounces…(okay, when you sit down to eat 1/2C of coconut sugar at one sitting, please call me…right?!)

Another reason that coconut sugar is better for diabetics than regular table sugar is the fact that it contains inulin, a fiber that helps slow glucose absorption and keep glucose levels in check.

Just like coconut oil and coconut water, coconut sugar is becoming a very popular item at health food stores across America. Coconut sugar is being used to sweeten everything from coffee and tea…to cookies, cakes, and pies.

The American Diabetes Association states that even though coconut sugar is a great alternative sweetener for those with diabetes to use, coconut sugar has the same calories as regular sugar and should be used in moderation.

When shopping for coconut sugar, remember that many products that are available on the shelf combine both regular sugar and coconhttps://www.texanerin.com/perfect-paleo-chocolate-chip-cookies/ut sugar…so remember to take time to check the label before tossing the coconut sugar into your cart. Avoid these brands.

Also take the time to look for organic coconut sugar that is unrefined, vegan, non-GMO.

So  I AM adding coconut sugar to my routine grocery list or tossing it out the window as another “What Not to Eat Now That You’re a Diabetic” item?

As far as the following Chocolate Chip Cookies made from coconut sugar, not sure if they’re really healthy or not…

But they taste great!!!

 

Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Sugar Ain’t So Sweet After All

Another problem with processed foods in that the main ingredient in most of this processed food is a whole lot of sugar. The typical American today consumes seven tablespoons of sugar a day in processed foods, more than half as much as thirty years ago.

Grocery store shelves are crammed with all sorts of foods that contain way too much sugar. Yeah, these foods—such as sugary snacks, refined grains, pizza, canned soup, fruit drinks, canned foods, and sweetened yogurt—might taste better than healthier choices…(no, not might taste better…most actually do).

But are the possible health risks of eating too much sugar really worth that moment of decadence.

For years, nutritional guidelines have focused on saturated fats and cholesterol, but perhaps this has been one huge mistake.

We have found that in order to meet consumer expectations as far as fat content, food companies have added more and more sugar in order to make their foods still taste good. Some of these foods get about 25 percent of their calories from added sugars.

In fact, at least forty percent of the money—more than $1 trillion annually—that we as Americans spend on  healthcare each year are spent treating diseases that are directly related to the overconsumption of sugar. The sugar epidemic in the United States has gotten to the point that the FDA has set an “official” recommendation that we should all be limiting our daily sugar intake to a no more than ten percent of our daily calories.

There are actually many health risks associated with eating too much added sugar. These include…

  • Cancer….Sugar is responsible for an estimated 500,000 cancer cases worldwide each year.
  • Diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • Liver Disease
  • Obesity

And remember, just because the ingredient list on any food item that you might be looking at doesn’t actually contain the word “sugar,” there may be tons of sugar in that product anyway.

Food manufacturers like to avoid the taboo word “sugar” by listing ingredients such as…

  • Dextrose
  • Evaporated Cane Sugar
  • Fructose
  • Glucose
  • High-Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Lactose
  • Sucrose
Getting Dressed, Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Vegan Hair and Skin Care Ideas for Using The Rest of Your Avocados

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Okay, so now we’ve covered about twenty different ways to incorporate avocados into your daily diet, the reasons why you should add avocados to your family grocery list, and the choosing and care of avocados…

But wait…that’s not all…

 

Avocados and Skin Care…Avocados are good for your skin. Avocados are rich in nutrients—such as fat-soluble vitamins monounsaturated fats, various minerals, and essential fatty acids.Avocados have been shown to improve both the health and tone of your skin, as well as  eliminate signs of premature aging. Avocados are especially great for skin that is dry, chapped or damaged.

Many cosmetic manufacturers add avocado to their products for this reason, but given the fact that the avocados that you can purchase from your local grocer or market are relatively cheap, cruelty free, and contain no added synthetic chemicals, why not use real avocados to enjoy the real benefits of using what might be nature’s best moisturizer.

 

 

Avocado Body Scrub…Avocados can be easily paired with many different ingredients to make a healthy body scrub at home. Most of the following scrub ideas can be used not only in the shower as a body scrub, but also as a scrub or mask for your face, depending on the consistency of the second ingredient.

Here are a few ideas…

Almonds….1C smooshed avocado, 1/4C ground almonds…great for dry skin

Coconut…1C smooshed avocado, 1/4C grated avocado…great for healing scars

Coffee…1C smooshed avocado, 3Tbsp coffee granules…great for getting rid of stretch mark

Honey…1/2C smooshed avocado, 1/4C honey…great for dry skin

Lime…1/2 smooshed avocado, juice of 1 lemon, 1tsp baking soda…great for getting rid of tan lines

Oats…1C smooshed avocado, 1C oats…great for acne

Salt…1/2 smooshed avocado, 4Tbsp rock salt….great for exfoliating

Sugar...1C smooshed avocado, 4tsp sugar, 1tsp olive oil…great for acne

Yogurt…1C smooshed avocado, 1C plain Greek yogurt, 1Tbsp salt…great for moisturizing

 

 

Avocados and Hair…Avocados are also great for nourishing dry and damaged hair. The following avocado hair mask include smoothing and moisturizing your locks without weighing down fine hair, adding shine, and restoring natural luster to your hair.

Avocado Hair Mask…1/2 smooshed avocado, 1 egg, 2 drops peppermint essential oil, 2Tbsp olive oil