Four Natural Ways To Reduce Body Pain

Living with chronic pain is something I am very familiar with. Experiencing body pain day in and day out can be very taxing, both mentally and emotionally. There is a growing number of people who also experience body pain every day. Stress, vitamin deficiency, and lack of adequate sleep can be the most common causes of frequent body aches and pains. Fibromyalgia is another growing cause of body pain. If you are unfamiliar with this unpleasant “mystery” illness, fibromyalgia affects a growing number of people each year. Symptoms of fibromyalgia include extreme fatigue, sensitivity and pain of the entire body. Sometimes, a more serious health condition could be to blame for frequent body pain. Arthritis, Lyme disease, and multiple sclerosis (MS) are just a few of the more serious agonizing conditions that can physically break down the muscles and joints over time if left untreated.

Get to the Root.

If you are someone experiencing frequent body pain, it is important to first figure out the root of the problem. Seek the help of a physician who will test you for potential illnesses. Some individuals prefer to visit a holistic doctor to avoid taking prescription medications that may lead to more serious problems or unpleasant side effects. If, like in my case, your physician is unable to make a diagnosis through testing, do not be afraid to get a second or third opinion. That way you can be sure to receive proper treatment, if necessary. It is not to say that we should live every day in constant fear or worry, but carelessness about our health is not wise either. We only have one life to live, and our health is not something to take lightly.

There are some illnesses that may lead to more serious problems if left untreated. Lyme disease is just one example. There are many others, but I am using Lyme as an example because it is an illness I have experienced all too well.  Lyme disease, an illness caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi through a tick bite, can cause a host of problems later in life if left untreated; some of these problems include: facial paralysis, arthritis, joint and neuromuscular conditions. So, I will mention it again, before you seek treatment for your pain, it is important to first figure out what is causing it.

Join a Support Group.

So now, you have figured out the possible cause of your pain. Or maybe you are still left wondering what is wrong because the doctors have no explanation? I did not know what was wrong with me for many years. I dealt with other alarming symptoms, such as random dizzy spells, blacking out, gastrointestinal problems and terrible insomnia. I was tested for Crohn’s disease, lupus, and even cancer. But the pain alone was enough to make me feel sad and hopeless some days.

Joining a support group is one of the most recent things I have done that I wish I’d done way sooner! I stumbled across a Lyme disease support group on Facebook one day. I am not a super active member of the group, aside from making random comments from time to time, but just reading what other people are experiencing has made me feel so much less foolish about my thoughts and emotions through this challenging journey. And so much less ALONE in what I have been feeling. As someone who began experiencing constant body pain more than half my lifetime ago, finally being a member of a community of people who share similar experiences is refreshing. It can build you up by realizing you are NOT alone in your unique situation, and by understanding you can rise above the illness in order to live life to the fullest.

Here are some natural lifestyle changes that have helped me naturally reduce my body pain:

1) Get Moving.

I’ll admit that when I’m in pain, sometimes the LAST thing I want to do is get up and walk around. It is hard to find the motivation to get moving when you are tired and achy. But moving and exercising does more than help your muscles.

Sometimes all you need to lift your mood and ease some of your body pain is a daily 15 minute walk outside in the fresh air and sunshine; or walking around the mall on a gloomy day can do wonders to help your mind and body.  Other beneficial forms of exercise include stretching–such as yoga, strengthening exercises like squats or wall pushups, or other cardiovascular exercises besides walking (swimming, riding a bike, or using an elliptical trainer). Remember not to overexert yourself, as doing so may lead to injury. The key is to get your blood flowing and your body moving, which will help raise your body’s natural seratonin levels and release those feel-good endorphins.

Exercise may not be a possibility for those who suffer from truly debilitating illnesses, so please consult with your physician if you any have any concerns. There are plenty of other natural treatment strategies you can take to cope with frequent body pain.

2) Eat More Plants.

No, I’m not trying to convince you to go completely vegan. Some may argue that a vegan lifestyle is best for health and the planet, and I agree in some respects. With some exceptions. For one, processed foods do not promote good health. This is why I avoid foods that are sometimes deemed as “healthy foods” by the natural community, like tofu. Sugar, processed or raw, is also a big no-no if you want to decrease body pain. Processed foods and sugar cause acidity once they are digested, which in turn, magnifies body pain. Whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables, nuts and legumes (like beans and peas), on the other hand, reduce body pain because they cause the body to be more alkaline. To figure out other foods that are alkaline in the body once consumed, you can simply Google “food alkalinity chart”, and find one easily accessible to refer to.

While I am still nursing my daughter, I opt to make every effort to eat whole plant-based foods while keeping saturated animal fats to a minimum. Foods high in saturated animal fats are linked to higher levels of body inflammation because they contain arachidonic acid. Higher body inflammation can cause body stiffness and trigger muscle and joint pain. Inflammation-worsening animal fats include dairy, red meat, and eggs. These animal fats are fine in moderation, but higher consumption of them can also lead to a host of chronic illnesses and cancer.

Foods rich in magnesium, as well as other vitamins and minerals, can help ease sore muscles and joints, making body movement easier in general. Magnesium-rich foods include sesame, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds, oats, green leafy vegetables, beans, and dried fruits.

If you have a sweet tooth, opt for natural sugars found in fresh fruit to satisfy your cravings. I find that making a smoothie in the morning or midday satisfies my sugar cravings and provides extra fuel for me to get through a long day. Here, I list some of my favorite easy smoothie recipes.

3) Take a Weekly Soak.

The bathtub has become my sanctuary over the years. Daniel and I joke about it often. What do I want when I get bad news? Take a bath. Got a stubbed toe? Take a bath. Where do I retreat to when the baby falls asleep for the night? Most often than not, the bath. I take baths way more than once a week, but they have really become a natural pain and stress reliever in my life.

Taking a soak in the tub may seem like a simple relaxing–maybe even selfish–indulgence from time to time, but really it can be very beneficial for your health. Take a bath with Epsom salts, and your body will thank you. Allow 1 to 2 cups of Epsom salts to dissolve in the tub water while drawing your bath, and soak for at least 12 minutes. Simple as that. Once they are dissolved in the water, Epsom salts break down into sulfate and magnesium. Soaking in the warm bath goes beyond loosening stiff joints and relaxing muscles. Bathing with Epsom salt boosts the body’s magnesium levels, a mineral crucial for healthy muscle and nerve function. Magnesium reduces body inflammation which can greatly reduce pain. Epsom salt baths also eliminate toxins from the body, flushing the body cells of toxins and heavy metals found in the environment, plastics and the foods we eat.

For added benefits, add a few drops of essential oil to your bath water. Here, I list my favorite essential oils and why.

4) Use Herbal Remedies.

Herbal medicine can be very effective in decreasing inflammation and providing pain relief. Herbal medicine is a form of medicine made from plants that is used for treatment of health problems. Herbal medicine, or herbalism, is becoming a more popular approach to managing pain. incorporating herbs into daily recipes or taking certain supplements may help reduce pain on a daily basis. For example, ginseng has been listed by the American Pain Foundation to possibly help reduce fibromyalgia pain.

Some other herbs that are thought to help reduce body pain:

  • Ginger: The phytochemicals found in ginger extract are thought to help reduce inflammation of the body and reduce muscle and joint pain.
  • Turmeric: Turmeric contains a chemical called curcumin which is believed to have anti-inflammatory effects. When taken small doses, turmeric may be very helpful in alleviating heartburn and arthritis pain. Avoid turmeric if you have certain conditions such as gallbladder disease.
  • Feverfew: This herb may be effectively used to help relieve arthritis pain and migraines. Feverfew has been used throughout history for the treatment of tooth and stomach pains as well as headaches.

I am a fan of drinking tea daily, and I explain why and which ones are my favorite here.  I believe drinking certain teas every day have done wonders to alleviate my body pain and help me feel more balanced mentally and emotionally.

*Please take caution when using herbal medicinal remedies while taking certain medications or substances. St. John’s Wort, for example can cause interactions when taken with antidepressants or other substances. Also, be aware of quantities you are using. High quantities of even plant substances can be toxic. Just because something is “natural” does not mean it is always safe. Please do research before using natural remedies on yourself or others.

*Also, keep in mind that herbs are not regulated for quality by the government. It is for this reason, I prefer to use herbs that are certified organic whenever possible.

 

If you experience frequent body pain, what are some natural and healthy ways you cope?

 

 

Travel New York Part 2 – Letchworth State Park

 

Taking a day trip to Letchworth State Park was like a dream. There is a reason why Letchworth State Park was voted one of the 10 best in the nation by USA Today in 2015!

It was the first road trip we took after the baby was born. I had finally recovered from giving birth at the end of July. It was a long, tiresome and grueling recovery, and Daniel and I were so thrilled to go out somewhere out of the ordinary, stretch our legs and breathe in the fresh autumn air. We also couldn’t wait to take our daughter (we’ve nicknamed her “Bethie Bean”) out on our first adventure as a family of three.

We packed our little car with a full diaper bag for Bethie, drinks and snacks to share on the road, and our favorite music playlist, and off we went! We made a few stops for gas and to feed the baby on the way. The trip took us several hours, but it was well worth the drive. The air was slightly crisp, but we were so glad to have a clear, beautiful day to revel in the views. When we finally arrived at Letchworth, we stopped along the long windy forest road to take in spectacular views of the gorge. The sights were simply breathtaking.

Overlooking the cliffs, you can hear the rushing waterfalls and see dozens of colorful hot air balloon’s floating off in the distance.

 

View of the Lower Falls of the Genessee River.

 

Also known as the “Grand Canyon of the East”, Letchworth State Park features about 17 miles of jaw-dropping cliff views and three stunning waterfalls–the Upper, Middle and Lower Falls. There are several restaurants within the state park so you can admire the views while enjoying a nice meal. The highest waterfall drops an impressive 600 feet; and the variety of activities offered by the park include tours, guided walks, kayaking, hot air ballooning, and whitewater rafting, as well as winter sports programs like snowmobiling, snowtubing, and cross-country skiing. Letchworth also includes two large swimming pools, several playgrounds, picnic tables, pavilions, campsites for tents and cabins. So much to do and see! The Genessee River flows through the park’s roaring gorge, surrounded by 66 miles of hiking trails and abundant forests.


 

 

 

As we continued to drive deeper into the park, there were quite a few scenic overlooks along the way. We drove a little further and were greeted by the beautifully restored Glen Iris Inn, which overlooked the magnificent Middle Falls of the Genessee.

View of the Middle Falls.

 

Visiting the Middle Falls was my favorite part of the entire trip. The view was indescribable. We were there just at the beginning of autumn, but I can imagine the view must be even more incredible mid-autumn when the leaves are fully turned and the colors are more vibrant.

View from the Middle Falls, looking down into the gorge.

 

We passed little natural waterfall before we went back to our car.

 

We did not make it to the Upper Falls, as the sun was setting. We were also surprisingly exhausted from all the walking with the baby and excitement of the day, so we left as it was getting dark. We are looking forward to going back in the spring.

Do you have any favorite New York travel destinations. If so, please let me know!

 

You can email questions or inquiries to seasaltlavender@yahoo.com.


Travel New York Part One – Watkins Glen


We got a taste of some warmer weather today. The snow melted into big puddles, and this glimpse of warmer days ahead has me pleasantly anticipating good things to come in Spring. Although Daniel and I are not the type to enjoy winter sports like snowboarding or cross-country skiing, we are very active outside during the warmer months. There is so much of this state we have yet to explore. We both enjoy adventure, and we are looking forward to bringing the baby out on our nature expeditions and day trips.

New York offers far more than arguably one of the most famous cities in the world. This state is not just covered in urban landscape. In fact, it is rich in natural beauty. With such diverse geography, a majority of New York’s geographical landscape consists of farms, lakes, rivers, forests, meadows, and impressive mountain ranges of the Catskills, Adirondack Mountains and the Great Appalachians Valley.

Reminiscing

When I was about 23, our relationship became “official” New Year’s of 2013 (months after talking on the phone every night). Not too long after, we took a trip to Upstate New York from where we were living separately at the time in New Jersey. Most of Daniel’s family lives in New York, and I was feeling jittery and anxious about meeting them for the first time. But I was also overwhelmed with excitement at the prospect of venturing around areas that were new and unfamiliar to me. We walked through the pretty, quaint town of Canandaigua in New York’s Finger Lake region where we discovered one of my favorite little eateries in the area for unique crepes and coffee, Simply Crepes; we visited wineries along breathtaking Seneca Lake; and my favorite of all was our hike through Watkin’s Glen.


Watkin’s Glen is the most famous of the State Parks in the finger lakes. I could not believe that I had never heard of this magnificent place before our trip.

I mean, it is incredible! If you ever pass through Upstate New York, I highly recommend you stop for a few hours to visit this incredible state park. Passing through the winding gorge path, you witness 19 waterfalls–and even walk under some of them–and 200-hundred foot cliffs overlooking the jaw-dropping impressive gorge. Pictures DO NOT even do it justice.

There are railings, but if take caution if you are bringing children. Many people bring their children, but it is A LOT of walking, uphill and downhill, near steep cliffs and waterfalls. As much as we’d love to go back very soon, we know we will be waiting quite a few years before we bring our daughter with us.

You can even reserve a camping sight and camp overnight if you decide you don’t want to leave this magical place quite yet.

Daniel and I have a long list of places in New York we look forward to visiting once the winter weather subsides, one of which we visited in the fall–many years after our very first Upstate NY trip. Join me tomorrow as I share with you details of our amazing trip this past fall, along with future New York destinations we plan on visiting this year!

Have you ever visited New York? If so, where is your favorite New York state destination?


Easy DIY Roller Blends For Health



Essential oils have been a HUGE part of my life throughout my twenties. I discovered them in my early teens when I began experiencing frequent sickness (colds, strep throat, pneumonia, bronchial infections and other reoccurring respiratory infections) and chronic body pain that affected my daily life. I go into more detail about my favorite essential oils and how to safely use them in 7 Essential Oils You Need In Your Life.

These days, I rarely go a day without using my essential oil blends. My favorite blend to use currently during this winter cold and flu season is the immune support roller blend. If I am unable to fall asleep with the help of my favorite nighttime tea, the sleepy roller blend is also extremely helpful.

My essential oil cabinet was growing very full, when I realized I could be doing a lot more with essential oils than using them from time to time in my homemade sprays and beauty products. I started growing an interest in making my own roller blends to benefit my family’s health instead of buying them at the store for triple what it costs to make them. Here are some questions I had along the way that you may also have if using essential oils for health is something that interests you.

How can I make roller blends?

Roller blends are extremely easy to make. Simply purchase a glass roller bottle, add the essential oils to the bottle, and top it off with your favorite carrier oil (I like using organic fractionated coconut oil or almond oil as a carrier oil). Be sure to store in a dark cool place.

Where on the body should I apply the essential oil blends?

Before each use, be sure essential oils are properly mixed by rolling the bottle between your hands. Apply to pressure points on the body: insides of the wrists, behind the ears, the temples, and on the bottoms of your feet. For use on sore muscles, apply to areas of soreness in circular motions.

Always avoid direct contact with eyes or sensitive areas. Discontinue use if irritation or rash develops.

Can I use Essential Oil blends if I am pregnant?

There are not many findings on how essential oils affect pregnancy. Some essential oils are believed to be safe for pregnancy (such as lavender, citrus oils and German chamomile) as long as there are no pregnancy complications. However, other essential oils may not be safe (such as rosemary, clove, cinnamon) as they may cause early contractions. Please consult with your doctor and do some research before using essential oils during pregnancy.

Here are some links I find interesting regarding pregnancy and essential oils:

NAHA (National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy)

Wellness Mama

Fit Pregnancy

The Hippy Homemaker

Now, here’s where I get to the good stuff. I love how easy these recipes are to make, and I cannot stress how much they help my husband and I physically, mentally and emotionally each and every day. No, they are not a cure-all, but once you start using them you might start wondering how you lived without them.


 

Five of My Favorite Roller Blend Recipes:

1. Exhaustion Blend

This is a blend for those days you need a major pick-me-up. I find this helpful in the morning or during the day when I am trying to avoid drinking too much caffeine and need a boost.

7 drops Eucalyptus

5 drops Rosemary

3 drops Grapefruit

2. Muscle Blend

Apply this invigorating essential oil blend in circular motions to alleviate sore, achy muscles.

5 drops peppermint

3 drops clove

5 drops wintergreen

3 drops black pepper

3. Headache Blend

Apply to temples or simply inhale to alleviate headaches and sinus pressure.

5 drops frankincense

5 drops peppermint

5 drops lavender

4. Motivation Blend

5 drops black pepper

5 drops orange

5 drops lime

5 drops orange

5. Healing Blend

Gently apply to minor skin irritations or blemishes.

10 drops lavender

10 drops frankincense 

10 drops tea tree (melaleuca)

 

This post is not affiliated with any brands.

Do you have any roller blend favorites?

 


Hot Cocoa, Made Five Ways



Feeling snowed in? I’m feeling you! Tonight, the weather here in New York has dipped down to three degrees (yes, only three degrees Fahrenheit) with a wind chill in the negatives. Meanwhile, family and friends in New Jersey are experiencing a bomb cyclone—just like the name, it’s terrifying; a strong, damaging storm with heavy winds and snow.

Luckily, the snow plows have been out, and the main roads aren’t terrible here upstate. But, the wind is creating some intimidating ditches and snow drifts. Needless to say, I took one quick drive around town to run some errands in my little car with the baby in tow, and I made my way slowly back home through a blizzard. New moms, you can probably relate when I say it is a nerve-racking experience driving through a snowstorm with your precious baby in the backseat. One of the first thoughts to enter my mind after I returned back home was, thank God we are home safe. The second thought on my mind: I am ordering new socks–tonight! Maximum warmth is a necessity in this frigid winter weather, and warm feet are a must!

And so I ordered new socks. While taking a warm Epsom & sea salt soak in the tub. After I placed the baby to bed. It’s the simple things really haha. I’m getting all the comfy feels just thinking about the new socks that will be arriving soon from one of my favorite stores. Best part of all? They were 50% off *jumping up and down with excitement*.

Winter is certainly not my favorite, but the shopping deals make it sweeter. You know what else makes it sweeter? Sitting inside with a warm beverage in your hand on a blustery day. If cabin fever has you feeling a bit loco, here are five hot cocoa recipes that might help you feel the warmth and relaxation you need. Sit down, enjoy a cup or two and watch your favorite movie. Or better yet, get a little boozy with your best friend and play a board game. Whatever you do, let me know how it goes!

  1. Snowman Melt. Irish cream and decadent chocolate liqueur make this hot cocoa extra-irresistible.
  2. Crock Pot Hot Chocolate. Make enough for a party of people in the crock pot. Hot chocolate is that much easier to make when you can throw all the ingredients in your crock pot, set it, and forget it.
  3. Blizzard Cocoa. A creamy, marshmallow-y spin on classic hot cocoa. This rum-spiked white chocolate hot cocoa also has a dash of vanilla.
  4. Red Wine Hot Chocolate. Yep, I said it. Hot cocoa WITH red wine. If you’re stuck inside all day, there’s no better way to play up a childhood favorite than to add vino to the mix.
  5. Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix. Make a big batch to keep handy during these wintry snow days. Also makes a great holiday gift (keep this in your arsenal of holiday gift ideas for the end of the year).  Made with only real ingredients, this homemade hot cocoa recipe calls for unsweetened cocoa powder and light brown sugar which adds a hint of caramel flavoring.

What is your favorite recipe to make on a cold day?

 

 

 

 

 

 


Four Teas That Can Transform Your Life in 2018



Tea is much more than a refreshing beverage. Drinking tea daily has the potential to transform your health. Teas of all kinds are naturally hydrating, and they contain free radicals that can help fight and prevent many varieties of cancer as well as chronic illness.

Teas in their purest form are sourced from the Camellia sinensis plant. These pure teas include black tea, white tea, pu-erh tea, green tea, and oolong tea. While experts may argue that herbal teas do not constitute as “true” teas, I would like to argue that herbal teas also have incredible health benefits. In fact, introducing herbal teas and other tea “concoctions” to my regular routine for the past several years has been a huge game-changer for my mental and physical health as a sufferer of daily chronic body pain due to Lyme disease and Endometriosis.

Here are the four tea beverages I swear by:

1. Kombucha

What the heck is “kombucha”?

This nutrient-rich fizzy fermented tea beverage is traditionally made of black tea and sugar. It contains beneficial enzymes, minerals and vitamins and can be made in a variety of different flavors with the addition of different herbs, fruits or spices. You may find yourself off-put by the taste at first. But, once you drink this naturally sparkling beverage more frequently, you will most-likely find it surprisingly tantalizing.

What is so special about this fermented tea drink?

Kombucha is fat-free and contains fewer calories than other carbonated beverages. It provides quick and easy energy without tons of caffeine. This makes it a great alternative to coffee during the day. Some people with gastrointestinal problems experience intestinal disruption after drinking coffee or energy drinks, but kombucha can actually aid in digestion and improve healthy gut flora. Kombucha is naturally detoxifying to the liver and pancreas and may aid in weight loss as well as decrease the growth of Candida (yeast). One cup of kombucha contains about 20% of the daily value of B-Vitamins–which most of us are lacking, as well as beneficial probiotics and acids.

Kombucha may also increase immune support. It is a natural source of glucosamine, which help alleviate joint pain and support healthy joints.

Cautions to Consider:

  • While some may claim kombucha cures illnesses, there are no studies that prove this claim regardless of its wide array of health benefits.
  • Kombucha contains sugar and naturally-occurring alcohol. If you have serious health problems or are pregnant or breastfeeding, please consult your physician before drinking kombucha.
  • While kombucha has many health benefits, it may be as harmful as juice or soda to tooth enamel. Ora Wellness explains here how we can drink kombucha without destroying our teeth.
  • Caffeine is present in kombucha. If caffeine is a health concern for you, Wellness Mama explains how you can reduce caffeine content as well as how you can make kombucha here.
  • Remember: everything in moderation. Just because kombucha is healthy, does not mean that it is beneficial to ingest all day, every day.

How often to drink kombucha?

Start by drinking one cup of kombucha every few days. If you wish to drink it more frequently and do not experience any strange side effects (such as intestinal discomfort), increase up to once a day. If you do experience any unpleasant side effects after drinking, limit your drinking consumption or take a break for a little while before reintroducing.

 

2. Matcha Tea

What is “matcha”?

Matcha tea is a green tea antioxidant powerhouse that originates from Japan. It is made up of finely ground leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. Matcha tea has a great deal more antioxidant power than regularly-brewed green tea. This “miracle supplement” is the highest quality powdered green tea that is now considered to be one of the most powerful super foods of the modern age.

Why is matcha so amazing?

The antioxidants in matcha tea can prevent chronic diseases, certain cancers, and signs of aging while burning calories and boosting the metabolism. Just one cup of matcha is rich in vitamins A & C as well as iron, potassium and sufficient amounts of fiber and chlorophyll. It aids in concentration and mood-enhancement because it contains L-theanine, healthy amino acids and caffeine. Japanese zen Buddhists and Chinese Daoists have used matcha tea as a way to remain alert while at the same time enhancing calm during meditation.

How to Prepare:

Matcha tea can be an acquired taste. I prefer to drink it in a warm frothy latte form, but either way you prepare it will have beneficial health effects. To prepare with water, you can follow this simple recipe. If your preference is a frothy matcha latte, you can follow this quick and easy recipe by Living Well Mom.



 

3. Raspberry Leaf Tea

This tea has been a daily necessity to me! I first read about its benefits on a health blog years ago and decided to try it out when I was experiencing mood swings and painful symptoms from Endometriosis. My doctor had offered to prescribe me heavier pain medications and even a light antidepressant to use certain times of the month when my Endometriosis symptoms became almost unbearable, but I preferred to try a more natural approach. I also partially credit a healthy pregnancy and natural medication-free labor last year to this tea, as well as an easier postpartum emotional recovery.

Not to be confused with sweet fruity raspberry-flavored tea, raspberry leaf tea has a mildly fruity black tea flavor. It is refreshing any time of year, unsweetened or lightly sweetened with raw honey (I drink it prepared either way, depending on the day).

Why Drink Raspberry Leaf Tea?

Red raspberry leaf tea contains antioxidants, vitamins and a collection of nutrients essential for daily health. It has been known to balance a woman’s cycle, treat nausea during pregnancy, and prepare a woman’s body for labor and delivery during pregnancy. Raspberry leaf tea has also been used for centuries to naturally treat gingivitis, anemia, canker sores, diarrhea and leg cramps in men, women and children of all ages. Other benefits include a boosting of the immune system, soothing inflammation of the skin or body, regulating hormones and stimulating fertility in men and women alike.

Men can benefit from this tea by experiencing a boost in testosterone levels and support of prostate health, as this tea will detoxify the body of artificial estrogens absorbed via plastics, commercial foods and the environment.

How to Prepare Raspberry Leaf Tea:

Raspberry leaf tea is easy to prepare, and it is refreshing any time of year. To reap the benefits of red raspberry leaf tea, you can serve this hot or cold, unsweetened or lightly sweetened with raw honey (I drink it prepared either way, depending on the day), stevia or your sweetener of choice.

Below is a simple raspberry leaf tea recipe from Mama Natural. You can also find her recipes for a red raspberry leaf “pregnancy tea blend” and “labor day tea” blend here.

Basic Red Raspberry Leaf Tea Recipe:

  1. Simply use a red raspberry leaf tea bag or a ratio of 1 Tbsp. of loose leaf red raspberry leaf tea and 1 cup of boiling water.
  2. Pour boiling water over tea bag or leaves and steep for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Strain the tea, add sweetener (if desired), and drink.

 

4. Chamomile Tea

Speaking from an insomniac’s first-hand experience, this tea makes a world of difference in my nightly sleep routine. I am a night owl by nature. Without the help of a sleep aid, I can easily stay up well past midnight, ESPECIALLY if I am feeling high levels of anxiety. My struggle to fall asleep at a decent hour presented itself as a huge struggle for me in high school and college. I mean, I truly resembled a walking zombie attending some of my early morning classes. I tried it all–prescribed sleeping pills, reading, prayer and meditation, journaling, yoga before bed…the only solution to my problem after all these years has been–yes, chamomile tea. Like clockwork, about 20-30 minutes after drinking chamomile tea, I will immediately start to feel relaxed enough to fall asleep. This chamomile tea with lavender is also a favorite of mine (sooo relaxing).

Benefits of Chamomile Tea:

Derived from the Asteraceae plant family, chamomile is an herb that has been used for centuries for good health: to calm an upset stomach or promote healthy sleep. Chamomile tea contains many potent antioxidants, sesquiterpenes, and flavonoids that positively effect the human body. In liquid form, chamomile can also be applied topically to help clear up skin issues and irritations.

Aside from treating insomnia and promoting healthy sleep, chamomile tea can help treat colds, strengthen the immune system, soothe a stomach ache, and reduce muscle spasms, as well as period pain in women.

 

Do you have a favorite tea or healthy beverage you can’t live without? I’d love to hear about it!



Hassle-Free Fashion for Nursing Moms



Pictured above, I’m wearing the Lift Up Nursing Tee in Cobalt by Motherhood Maternity

Before I gave birth, I remember laying on the couch 9 months pregnant, browsing nursing-wear on the internet. I spent a majority of that time thinking who really needs a shirt especially designed for nursing? It’s a waste of money, and I’ll get along just fine without a special nursing wardrobe. I laughed at the idea, really. It seemed absurd to me that a woman would spend $30 or $40 on a nursing shirt, when a regular shirt would be perfectly fine.

Fast-forward to several weeks later:

I have company over from out of state, and I am barely getting by on 2 hours of sleep if I’m lucky. I am stressed enough that my home is a mess, and now I’m panicking over a baby who is having trouble latching and my inability to nurse her discreetly. While I am certainly FOR mothers breastfeeding in public, I am not the type to personally want to flaunt it. I am sitting here red-faced, wishing there could be an easier way.

That’s where nursing-wear comes in.

Nursing-wear is more stylish than ever, with new and sleek designs. And once you get more comfortable breastfeeding, wearing nursing-friendly clothing in public will make your experience much less of a hassle if you are like me, striving to be as discreet as possible (although I’m sure I have still unintentionally flashed a boob more than once. And really it’s no big deal haha).



Take a look at these:

Lift Up Nursing Tee

This is the shirt that changed it all for me. My step-mother gave me this shirt as a gift in the cobalt color, and I became an immediate convert.

 

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Maternity Sleeveless Nursing Crossover Dress

A maternity/post-baby-friendly LBD with an easy fit. Wear with flats or dress up with some wedges or heels.

 

 

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Maternity Jersey Wrap-Front Nursing Top

The cross-front neckline makes nursing so much easier without the need to lift up your entire shirt, and ruching in the middle gives the illusion of a smaller waist while deterring the eye from a post-baby belly.

 

Web Only Pull Down Raglan Sleeve Nursing Tea

Cute and comfy is the way to go, and breastfeeding doesn’t get much easier when you’re wearing a stretchy shirt you can pull down at the neck.

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Maternity Stripe Nursing Dress

This dress is cute and versatile! Wear while pregnant or after having baby. Available in navy and gray striped colors.

Have any favorite nursing-friendly outfits? Please share!



5 Books to INSPIRE You This New Year’s



Well, Christmas is over, and it feels bittersweet. Daniel and I were very blessed with a day spent together with our daughter and family, and now it is back to our usual routines. We were able to make our rounds Christmas Day and visit Daniel’s family here in New York. We had a beautiful time and slept soundly that night. Unfortunately, I did not make it to New Jersey to visit my neck of the woods this year. A family member convinced me it’s just not worth the risk to drive five hours in my little car with a baby in tow through treacherous roads, and I truly appreciate him for it.

The weather here in New York has been chilling to the bone, dropping to the single digits, with an unpredictable wintry mix every other day or so. The baby seems to have taken to the cold pretty well. We have been bundling her up all cozy in her winter gear which may be the reason why she has welcomed winter so easily. While I have not grown any more keen on this snowy weather, I have learned to embrace these cold days by staying in and cuddling with the baby when a blizzard decides to make an appearance. It almost gives me an excuse to stop, breathe deep and take some extra precious moments to enjoy these times with the baby while she is still so young.

Is it just me, or does the New Year approaching feel like a refreshing new start? Some of us feel like we’re running on empty after the holiday madness of running around visiting family, traveling out of state, working overtime (like my husband)…There is something thrilling about starting anew.

Feeling burned out? What better way to kick off the new year than to cuddle up at the end of the night on the couch or with your other half to read a chapter of a new inspiring book?



Here are my current favorite reads:

1. Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover
If you really want something, you have to take it by the reigns. Daniel and I are really honing in on paying off our wedding debt and student loans. We have done all the loan consolidating we can, and now it is time to get “gazelle intense” when it comes to paying off these debts we have acquired. Dave Ramsey explains, we have to “live like no one else so that one day we can live like no one else”.
If you are looking for an extra inspiring way to transform your budget in 2018, look no further than this book. But I will warn you, it is not for the weary of heart! It requires sacrifice, dedication, and living “like no one else” (within or sometimes below your means) so one day we will be able to “live like no one else” (debt-free). But, I promise, if you are ready to take the leap of faith, this book is worth its weight in gold. I downloaded this on Audible because I appreciate listening to this aloud and taking notes for inspiration and as an outline for our family budget.

2. The Magnolia Story by Chip & Joanna Gaines
Chip and Joanna Gaines are like a breath of fresh air. They are honest about marriage NOT being a piece of cake. They share their lowest of lows but also inspire us with how they got where they are today: creating an extremely lucrative business through dedication and integrity and rebuilding Waco, Texas in the process.

3. 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman
This book is invaluable to couples. Period. If you find you just can’t figure out why your significant other sucks at making you feel loved, this book is for you. If you can’t figure out why you suck at making your significant other feel loved no matter how hard you try, this book is for you.

Daniel and I read this book together, and now he finally understands that yea, I like gifts; but what I cherish most is the time he spends with me. Oh, and maybe a back rub every once in a while. Those things are more important to me than the material gifts money can buy. I’ve learned what makes him tick. Together, we have grown stronger in understanding one another and understanding our friends and family as well. Each person has their own different love language, and you will never view love the same after reading this book.

4. Capital Gaines by Chip Gaines
Yes, I am one of those chicks who adores Chip and Joanna Gaines. But really, I admire their persevering spirits, their realness, and their humility in sharing their story in order to help others learn what it takes to become successful entrepreneurs. I’ll give you a hint, sometimes it just takes a huge (more like gargantuan) leap of faith and a lot of patience, but the end results can be well worth the wait.

5. Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman

This book may not be by any means as inspiring as the others on this list. BUT it was extremely fascinating to me. I read it at the end of my pregnancy. Frankly, it was a book I purchased used and as something to read just to pass the time when I was uncomfortable, super pregnant and still had longer than a week to go until my due date.

After reading the book’s description, I became intrigued in learning the differences between American and French child-rearing techniques. And I am so glad I did! I find that the “French” way of raising a child resonates with many of my beliefs in how a child should be raised. Even if you are not completely convinced to model your parenting after the French, you will find yourself laughing by Druckerman’s hilarious, self-deprecating stories.

What are some books that inspire you?



Cozy Sweaters That Will Keep You Warm ALL Day



Living in a climate with four seasons certainly has its perks–the beautiful blooms of Spring; the intense heat of Summer spent at the beach; jaw-dropping mountain views and cool breezes in Autumn; and the exquisite shimmering new-fallen snow of Winter. Here in New York, winter temps can easily fall below zero, and fast. I am a Jersey girl at heart. I grew up in the Appalachian mountains of northwest New Jersey, and the temperature there is similar to where I currently reside, with the exception of being maybe a few degrees warmer certain days. How do we stay warm in such cold climates without freezing our tails off? Many of us have made an art of it: sitting in front of the heat of a roaring fire, sipping on hot chocolate, wearing thick socks, leggings and layers, flannels–and, yes! Warm, cozy sweaters.

My pregnancy this past summer was a hot, sweaty one. A pregnant woman in her third trimester in the summer heat is normally not a happy woman. I was convinced I would never need a sweater again, as I experienced intense pregnancy sweats throughout the day and at night, FORGET it. Near the end, nights became almost unbearable. But, immediately after my baby was born near the end of July, I felt like a completely different person as we got settled from the hospital back into our little home. Yes, I was recovering from pushing out an almost 8.5 pound baby, so it would be natural to not quite feel like myself. Strangely, though, I felt cold. So cold. Even while I was sweating the night away under layers of blankets, I felt cold. Even though, I felt more or less back to my normal self a few months postpartum, the nights here quickly grew cooler, and–more than ever–I have felt like I need a sweater every second of my life. For this time being, sweaters are probably my most favorite wardrobe staple.

So, enough about me. Here are some super cozy sweater favorites that are also great for layering. AND they are currently all on sale for this time being, or available at a discounted price online with a discount code. Now, you have something else to spend those holiday gift cards on.



BDG Charlie Dolman Cardigan

An oversized super-soft cardigan is great for layering over a cute top when out with friends or cuddled up watching a movie on the couch with bae.

 

Wrapped V-Neck Sweater

Nursing mothers, rejoice. Wrapped-front sweaters make breastfeeding a breeze. Plus, they are super flattering for all shapes and sizes in general.

 

Fremont Pullover Sweater in Colorblock

Fremont Pullover Sweater

A vest and jeans would look super cute with this effortless and lightweight piece.

 

italian cashmere easy v-neck sweater : women sweaters

Italian Cashmere Easy V-neck Sweater

A luxurious Italian knit cashmere sweater, at 56% off its original price. Need I say more?!

Grey

Rib-Knit Merino Wool Sweater

This sleek ribbed merino wool sweater adds effortless warmth and grace when paired with a long skirt.

 

Stay warm.

Oh, and wish you all a very Happy Holiday!

 



The 4 Easiest Smoothie Recipes



Before my daughter was born, I remember leaving for work or college early in the morning. By the time I got showered, dressed, hair and makeup done, I just barely had a few minutes to spare before I had to run out the door. There were many mornings I would leave the house without breakfast and wouldn’t have a break until midday at the earliest. By then, I felt so depleted of energy that I wished I could take a long nap. Coffee and the granola bars I had laying around in my purse just didn’t cut it. Call me irresponsible or self-neglectful, but I truly did not consider at the time that I desperately needed more nutrients in my on-the-go diet to give me longer lasting energy.

I decided to try making a smoothie every morning whenever I had a couple minutes to spare. I say “try” because I can be forgetful and go back to old habits if I am not careful. I noticed my energy was higher and my mood brighter on the days that I started off with a smoothie. I also seemed to be less prone to frequent allergies and colds. And, did I mention, I was less grumpy?! Who would think that something so quick and simple could truly change someone’s entire day?

Smoothies provide a myriad of health benefits. Not only are they quick and easy, but they allow you to receive your daily allowance of fruits and vegetables to ensure you meet your body’s nutritional needs. It is easy to sneak detoxifying ingredients into your daily smoothie such as a handful of baby spinach, kale, flax or chia seeds. Smoothies contain dietary fiber to aid in improved digestion. The powerful vitamins and minerals in smoothies can also give your skin, nails and hair a radiant glow while at the same time improving your immune system and amping up your energy.

I used to make my smoothies with cow’s milk or sometimes orange juice. Now, I prefer using organic almond milk because I have noticed that too much dairy can wreak havoc on my digestive system. I’m just a more pleasant person to be around without the constant belly ache. I usually steer clear of orange juice because even if you are not diabetic, most bottled juices contain more sugars than the body needs, especially when combined with the natural sugars from fruit. When I do desire a little more sweetness to my smoothies, I am a fan of adding raw honey, especially around cold & flu season. One of the major reasons I am such a fan of raw honey is because it is not heated and processed like pasteurized honey, therefore it keeps its incredible health powers. Local raw honey also boosts immunity to sickness, certain diseases and seasonal allergies; it is an excellent source of antioxidants; it soothes a sore throat; and, unlike sugar, it can be beneficial to healthy blood sugar management. Bringing up the topic of almond milk, there is controversy about bottled almond milk because most almond milks contain some form of preservative or thickener, such as carrageenan or xanthan gum. If you are wary of the store-bought kind, you can quickly make your own at home (I intend to try it one of these days but still have yet to do so).

During this cold and snowy season, tropical-inspired smoothies are my favorite. Don’t get me wrong, I love cuddling inside on a cold, snowy day with lots of layers and warm blankets. But, to be outside on a warm tropical beach would be my ideal destination. Sometimes I find that the energizing scents of citrus and tropical fruits jolt me awake in the morning (especially when my husband and I are sleep-deprived because the baby has been up several times throughout the night). A mixed berry smoothie tends to be my favorite in the summer. As a sufferer of daily body pain, I find that a smoothie containing cherries helps alleviate some of my pain throughout the day. Finally, banana was not only one of my favorite flavors during pregnancy, but it provides enormous benefits to mind and body health. Bananas are high in vitamin B6, which can help you get a more restful sleep. This nutrient-dense fruit is high in magnesium as well, a key mineral that most of us are lacking that helps relax the muscles and keep the body functioning properly. Bananas also contain high levels of tryptophan, which converts to the mood-boosting brain neurotransmitter seratonin in the body.

My favorite part of making smoothies is that once you get a knack for the ratio of each ingredient to reach your desired smoothie consistency, you really don’t have to measure the ingredients out next time to end up with a drink that is super easy, delicious and filling. I prefer to use frozen organic fruit in my smoothies because it tends to be more simple for me, quick and inexpensive, but you are welcome to use fresh fruit and ice cubes if you so desire.

These smoothies are not overly sweet, so you can add honey, agave, stevia, etc. to taste until reaching your desired sweetness. Ever since I cut most sugars out of my diet for health reasons, the sweetness from natural fruit is normally enough for me. Also, you may have noticed I am a HUGE vanilla fan. Feel free to opt for vanilla-free ingredients (such as vanilla-free protein powder, almond milk, and yogurt) if you prefer little to no vanilla flavoring. Be Creative. Have fun with it!



 

Tropical Smoothie

Ingredients:

Add frozen fruit to blender. Top with just enough almond milk that it covers the top of the fruit, and add protein powder last (to prevent powdery chunks). Blend until smooth, and enjoy.

 

 

Mixed Berry Superfood Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups Organic Frozen Mixed Berry Blend
  • Handful Organic Baby Spinach
  • 1/2 Scoop of Vanilla Protein Powder
  • Dallop of Organic Raw Honey (optional)
  • Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk

Add frozen mixed berries, handful of baby spinach, and honey to blender. Top with just enough almond milk that it covers the top of fruit & spinach mixture, and add protein powder last. Blend until smooth and evenly mixed. Enjoy!

 

Pain Reducing Cherry Smoothie

Ingredients:

Add frozen cherries, greek yogurt, and honey to blender. Top with just enough almond milk that it covers the top of fruit, and add protein powder. Blend until smooth, and enjoy.

 

Banilla Smoothie

Ingredients:

Add frozen sliced bananas, greek yogurt, raw honey, and cinnamon to blender. Top with just enough almond milk that it covers the top of fruit, then add protein powder. Blend until smooth, and enjoy.

 

Well, those are my 4 super easy go-to smoothie blends. Have any easy smoothie recipes you’d like to share? I’d love to hear!