Wednesday, 26 November 2014

first snowfall & lessons lately


It snowed for the first time this season a couple weeks ago and I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am about Christmas. I love Christmas. It is without a doubt my favourite time of year. I started some Christmas shopping and I'm looking forward to the wrapping: this year I want to wrap my gifts with brown paper, and twine and ribbon and bow from the craft store. I used to always just use the wrapping paper my mom would buy, but I really want to decorate my gifts from scratch. I love crafty projects and I think I may even just blog some of my artsy DIY gift wrapping ideas.

This is a peculiar time, where the year is coming to a close. I'm always thrilled about the new year, the lessons that await, and the lessons that have already come my way. There are a few notable lessons I've learned lately, revelations actually, a perspective shift of sorts, and it has definitely been profound. Sometimes, it can be difficult to understand where it is that you need to improve, or shift.

I can be a stubborn person. And I can point the finger easily. And also, I make mountains out of molehills. But that's a different story.

Over the past six weeks I have learned that sometimes you need to look within and see where you could be less impatient, or more compassionate; where you could communicate better, or listen better, or love better, or understand better, or have more empathy, or sympathy; or where you could not act upon your anger, or speak with that tone of voice, where you could take a step back, where you could look at the bigger picture, and listen to their side of the story, too.

In essence I have learned that life isn't always perfect, and it isn't always going to match your expectations. In fact, expectations rarely equal reality. And that's a pretty big deal. Thanks, November.

Also, here's my new favourite word, aka the best character trait ever:

Noble
having or showing fine personal qualities or high moral principles and ideals.
"the promotion of human rights was a noble aspiration"
synonyms: righteous, virtuous, good, honourable, upright, decent, worthy, moral, ethical, reputable

Seriously. We should all be a little more noble.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Recipe: Beautifying Beet Juice


This is my new favourite juice recipe. I made it a couple weeks ago and deemed it one of the best I've ever made. My juices always turned out awful when I first began juicing several years ago, but now I enjoy plenty o' delicious juicy juices.

Beets are fun to juice because they are so vibrant and crimson. They are potent in antioxidants, and are known as a liver~loving, beautifying vegetable. One of the compounds in beets, betaine, specifically aid the liver in detoxification as it stimulates the removal of toxins by the liver cells. Beets are also naturally rich in nitrates, which improve blood circulation.

I love this recipe because of the addition of two large oranges, which gives the flavour a rich yet citrusy touch.

Beautifying Beet Juice
  • chunk of fresh ginger
  • leaf of kale
  • 1/2 - 1 medium-size beet
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 navel oranges, peeled
Juice vegetables one at a time, ginger & kale first (so the rest of the ingredients will pull the ginger and kale juice through). Enjoy!

Meg

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

October Favourites


A few of my favourite things from the month of October:

1. My new super cozy sweater (I'm on a mission for more) - Forever 21

2. These are my favourite moccasins in the world. They are on my feet the moment I step foot into my house. I got them earlier this winter up north.

3. "Thieves" essential oil blend toothpaste. Fluoride free. My favourite ingredient is the antibacterial clove oil - Young Living Essential Oils

4. Homemade lip balm made by my doula friend

5. Red nail polish. I will admit that the colour I like, but the quality not so much - Sante

6. Liquid Vitamin D supplement. I take 5,000IU/day. Health benefits here and hereNatural Factors

7. I love this deodorant. This is the only natural deodorant besides Tom's of Maine that hasn't gone on sticky, or completely dried out my skin. Citrus scent. - Green Beaver


Meg

Saturday, 18 October 2014

health benefits: vitamin D



The fall is my favourite, favourite season. I am always in my element each year when the leaves begin to change, and I can finally layer with scarves and boots. Although I will admit that I love cloudy days (sometimes even more than sunny days), I do reach a point here in Southern Ontario where I feel pretty deprived of some bright, warm sunlight, and some good ol' Vitamin D. Because truthfully, we need it!

Vitamin D is made from cholesterol when our skin is exposed to sunlight, but those of us living in the cooler climates with limited sun exposure need a bit of a boost, and can benefit hugely from supplementing with the sunshine vitamin this time of year. This little vitamin carries out some pretty big roles in our body, including influencing over 2,000 genes. There is a Vitamin D receptor in every nerve cell in the body!

Vitamin D has a significant impact on brain, bone, and immune health:
  • Immunity: Vitamin D supports our immune system, and actually activates the T cells in our body which seek out and destroy different bacteria and viruses that can cause colds and flus.
  • Brain health: Vitamin D helps to effectively activate our "feel good" neurotransmitters, like serotonin and dopamine. This can be especially helpful for those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), where a lack of sunlight can adversely effect our mental health. Vitamin D also maintains our nervous system, heart function, and normal blood clotting.
  • Bone health: Vitamin D helps to absorb calcium into the bloodstream, increases absorption of calcium from our intestines, helps put calcium and phosphorus in teeth and stimulates the resorption of calcium and phosphorus from bone.
    • Vitamin D works synergistically alongside vitamin K2 and magnesium for optimal bone health, where D ushers calcium into the bloodstream, and K delivers it from blood to bones and teeth, and out of soft tissue. I like to take this Vitamin K & D supplement here.
Are you low in Vitamin D?

Dry skin, cracked heels, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), lowered immune function (frequent colds and flu), osteoporosis, nervousness, inflammation, and conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer, can be signs of low levels of vitamin D.

Supplementing with Vitamin D

There are two kinds of vitamin D you can take as a supplement: Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) and Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol). Vitamin D3 is derived from lanolin, the oil found in sheep's wool. D2 is a plant-based source and is therefore popular amongst vegans, however I recommend opting for D3 as it is much easier for the body to absorb and doesn't require your body to do any converting.

You can take vitamin D in a liquid, soft gel, or tablet form. Liquid and soft gel are the most easily absorbed and assimilated, as vitamin D is fat-soluble and absorbed better when taken in liquid or encapsulated in an oil, as opposed to a hard, chalky tablet. It is shown that you absorb much more vitamin D when taken with a full meal, so be sure to take your vitamin D with your biggest meal of the day.

Dosages vary depending on individual needs, but a safe amount to start with is 1,000IU, although many people require much more than that (2,000-4,000IU and higher). Be sure to speak with your natural health care practitioner for the right dose!

Where else can you get Vitamin D? Food sources include fatty fish, cod liver oil, and grass-fed butter.

In health,

Meghan

Friday, 19 September 2014

this too shall pass

morning tea
love is where compassion prevails
and kindness rules.
Today was the first day I've had off in what feels like six weeks where I have had no plans. No agenda. No to-do's or arrangements or deadlines. I'm off because I have come down with a cold. And isn't that always it - we push ourselves to the limit, hardly stopping for anything until we absolutely have to. 

This has happened to me plenty before and I find it pretty curious when we are forced to retreat and withdraw, with no voices but your own and if only for just a day to have little to do but sit, think, or perhaps even spend some time on something you wish you had more time for. Today was one of those days and so I went for a walk to take some foresty fall photos and I actually ran into some terrifying wild turkeys. Seriously it was so unexpected I didn't know how to react.

I have been in a very exciting place lately, doing (and planning) more than I've ever done before, truly leaping outwards and saying yes to most anything, which feels so good. Have you tried it? I think I have talked before about the importance of saying yes to things, opportunities, outings, whichever, and how I used to say no all. the. time.

I feel that what really drove me to start doing things and stop saying no was two years ago during the time I went through several months of extremely severe anxiety and depression. When you endure that degree of mental angst, you reach a breaking point. A point where you have no choice but to push through it and start doing things anyway. You decide that even though you feel completely bad, and uncomfortable, and afraid, that you are just going to feel all of it and move forward anyways. Those were undeniably the worst months of my life, and on the contrary, the most inspiring, the most empowering.

Over the past couple years after my experience, I would avoid doing certain (and sometimes very important) things in fear of having an anxiety attack. But I am so proud of myself now, because I have been able to do the very things that I feared I wouldn't be able to handle.

If there's one thing that I have taken from my shadow days it is that this too shall pass. That phrase is my most favourite mantra, and is on my mind frequently. Whenever I feel anxious I know that it will not always be that way. That my emotions will shift. And I take that attitude with me wherever I go, with whatever sort of emotion I am feeling: sadness, worry, guilt. I have so much more control over the things I feel because I've learned to be patient with myself and the various processes of simply being human. This too shall pass. This too shall pass. If I ever feel a strong, overbearing (and often convincing) emotion or thought, I ride its wave. I see where it will take me. I feel it, and I let it go. I am so much better at not acting impulsively on my emotions, just due to the nature that they have a tendency to shift and twirl and change. Just wait and see.

Monday, 8 September 2014

5 Healthy Uses for Apple Cider Vinegar


One of my favourite things to have on hand is apple cider vinegar. I absolutely love the taste of vinegar, and I love that it is so useful and multipurpose. Today I want to share with you 5 uses for apple cider vinegar, and why you should always have a bottle in your cupboard!

Apple cider vinegar is made by fermenting the juice from crushed apples. It is rich in minerals and friendly bacteria (also known as the "mother"), so long as you choose a raw, unpasteurized brand. I like Bragg's, and Omega Nutrition is a good choice too.

1. Digestion

Apple cider vinegar is great to stimulate gastric juices. In fact, the acidic nature of apple cider vinegar mimics stomach acid and in turn aids digestion. That's why many people find relief from taking apple cider vinegar for heartburn -- often the issue is not too much stomach acid, but too little.

Just like lemon and water, a spoonful of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water is excellent as an alkalizing tonic. Despite its acidity, apple cider vinegar actually becomes alkaline internally after it has been metabolized.

1tsp in a little water before a meal is all you need to stimulate digestion.

2. Salad Dressings

This is of course one of the best uses of all - apple cider vinegar is a delicious addition to all kinds of salads, dressings and marinades. One of my favourite salad dressing combinations is olive oil, apple cider vinegar, tahini and basil. You can find my recipe here.

3. For Healthy, Silky Hair

One of my most recent uses for apple cider vinegar is as a hair conditioner in the shower, and it works marvellously. Two of my good friends can both vouch for this: it truly leaves your hair feeling soft and clean, and is great for detangling. Apple cider vinegar is also useful for dandruff.

I add equal parts apple cider vinegar to water in a spray bottle, spray it on wet hair in the shower, and leave it on for a few minutes before rinsing. This is my favourite new conditioner! You'll know what I mean if you try it. Best part is it's inexpensive, too.

4. Skin

If you're looking for super soft skin, try adding 1 cup of apple cider vinegar in your bath. Fun fact: the inside of our body loves a more alkaline environment, but the outside of our body - like our hair and skin - prefers more acidity. The pH of apple cider vinegar helps to balance us both internally and externally (and is also why #3 works so well!) Apple cider vinegar can also be used topically for a variety of skin ailments including insect bites, warts, and sunburn. Apply directly to skin, or dilute in a little water.

5. Fruit Flies

Apple cider vinegar works wonders for getting rid of fruit flies! I discovered this recently thanks to my brother: Simply pour undiluted apple cider vinegar into a small container, cover with plastic wrap, and poke a few holes in the top. The flies will collect in the container. It's actually pretty gross. But it works.

Sidenote: these tips are for apple cider vinegar and do not refer to white or other vinegars. Make sure to dilute apple cider vinegar when consuming, or when used topically if you have sensitive skin.

There are dozens of uses for apple cider vinegar. It is an inexpensive, highly versatile addition to anyone's lifestyle. What have you used it for? Leave me a comment below!

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

late summer


September has arrived and my favourite season is approaching, making subtle appearances in the chill of the wind, the crisp of the morning, the dull of the sky, the rusting of leaves. It is the utmost inspiring of all seasons, at least for me, where I am somehow propelled into a world of imagination, ambition, daydream.

Today it rained and my back yard was beaming wildly with the red and orange of the setting sun, droplets on leaves and florets by my feet. I am, in essence, changing once again. And maybe not so much changing but exploring, finding, who I am perhaps. The past year of my life was wobbly and imbalanced and sensational and perfect and took me where I didn't want to go, and at the same time, exactly where I want to be. I am a true believer that every single thing that we are presented with in this life is exactly what we need to take us where we need to go, to teach us what we need to know.

August was a test for strength and I am in fact stronger than I once was, in head and in heart: it's not always easy doing the right thing. But at least it proves to be freeing; a liberation of sorts, and there's no better feeling than looking ahead at the future knowing it is an entirely blank canvas, nothing and everything and neutral, perched atop an easel, awaiting creation from my fingertips, my footsteps.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

DIY: natural homemade facial moisturizer


For the video version of this recipe, click here.

For the longest time I've been on the search for a completely natural moisturizer for my face. I have used a moisturizer since I was really young and I'd have to say it's one of the most important parts of my skincare regime.

I have tried coconut oil, shea oil, shea butter, jojoba oil, safflower seed oil, vitamin e oil, and they all have a tendency to make my skin break out, so I avoid oils. Recently I realized that glycerin might be a good option: I figured it's the main ingredient in most lotions that have never caused me a problem, and it's water-soluble. And that's how this super simple, two-ingredient moisturizer spray was born. I love using it on my skin and it provides the same amount of moisture as any other lotion.

Vegetable glycerine is great for dry skin; it's a humectant meaning it helps to draw and retain moisture. It's water-soluble, which I love as it's not a heavy oil, and it leaves your skin super soft.

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 tbsp vegetable glycerine (I use Now's non-gmo glycerine)
  • a little under 3oz water
  • empty 3oz spray bottle (I got mine from the travel section in Target)




Directions:

Simply add 1/2 tbsp of glycerin into the empty bottle, add water, twist on cap and shake the mixture together. If you're looking for extra moisture, you can use 1 full tbsp. I just find it takes a little longer for your skin to absorb it. For an additional touch, add a drop or two of your favourite essential oil to give it a refreshing or soothing scent. Lavender, grapefruit or tangerine would work well.

Spray onto hands or directly on face, and gently massage into skin.

And that's it -- let me know if you give it a try! Do you moisturize? What works best for your skin?

Meghan

Friday, 1 August 2014

july reflection 2014


I have had a terrible month. I'm happy to say (crossing my fingers) that now that the first of August has come along, things are perhaps officially starting to look up. There is not one or two things that troubled me this past little while, but many. Too many. Too much. Unbearable overwhelm. The worst possible things. Or, at least, too many bad things all at the same time.

It all started with my 1 year old cat, Juniper "Junie" who spontaneously broke her hip on a sunday when all regular veterinary offices were closed. $2000 later, she underwent a femoral head ostectomy. The whole ordeal was maybe just a little unexpected.

Of course a day or two later, after many sleepless hours of managing her sedated, stubborn, aggressive refusal to take her pain medication or wear her cone, my car, in which I had only just purchased six weeks prior, decided it was a fine time to stall on me. This wasn't even the first time it happened. Needless to say, I was a combination of absolutely furious, hysterical, and hyperventilating all the way home whilst revving the engine in park to keep it from shutting off at red lights.

The day got even more fantastic when I arrived home only to discover Junie has torn out half her stitches, with a vet on the phone telling me this is an emergency. Keep in mind, all in one afternoon I've got a car that doesn't work, a cat in need of immediate assistance, and I just so happen to need to be at work in an hours time, all the while panicking about just how many more dollars I will need to put in to anything at this point.

My adrenal glands were definitely on the verge of exploding in July. I literally have never cried so many consecutive days in a row.

The other four or five unfortunate events I'm not even going to discuss, because things just got plain weird by the fourth week of the month. But as of now, I am finally finding my ground again, and things I think will be just fine. Things feel as a haze it seems, like when a terrible storm passes and it's all a mere memory.

If there's one thing I've learned this month, it's to breathe. And to remember that this too shall pass, and that there are indeed lessons in everything: like don't buy a mini cooper, and make good decisions. I was, in essence, robbed of too many dollars and on more than one occasion this month. Car purchasing is no walk in the park, and salespeople are terrifyingly greedy.

On a positive note, my car situation has improved dramatically, and I finally obtained the car I wish I got all along: my beloved Toyota Yaris! Hello reliability!

It feels good to rant.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

recipe: easy green smoothie


I used to be really terrible at making smoothies, but over the years I've learned a thing or two and now really enjoy throwing them together and playing around with different ingredients. I want to share a very basic but delicious green smoothie recipe that I shared on my youtube channel recently, too.
*Tip: I like to buy packages of frozen fruit and thaw what I need for my smoothies. I find frozen fruit makes them too icy and soft fruit makes them smoother.

Easy Green Smoothie

Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup mango (fresh or you can thaw frozen fruit)
  • 1/3 cup peaches or pineapple (fresh or you can thaw frozen fruit)
  • 1/4 avocado
  • handful baby spinach
  • few ice cubes (optional)
Add all ingredients to blender and blend until smooth!

What are some of your favourite smoothie ingredients?

Meg