Happy (late) New Year!

We haven’t quite gotten back into the swing of things just yet, even though it’s mid-January. If you’re one of those that bounces back quickly after the holidays, then hats off to you. I’m not one of them! It seems like every year, the holidays consume me more and more, and I’m so wrapped up in the preparation that I never stop to enjoy the moments! This year, since we moved right before Thanksgiving, I did much, much less that I normally do. In terms of decorations and hosting events, I chose to spend more time at home with my family than partaking in ALL OF THE FESTIVITIES. We didn’t even stay up for New Years! Although, that could be a sign of being over 30 and having young kids than actual lifestyle change-by-choice. I hope to be more involved in the holiday fun next year, especially since we’ll be 100% settled and unpacked. That’s the plan anyway…

It’s also different this year because while I love the fresh start of a new year and I always make resolutions, I didn’t go crazy setting specifics this year! Rather, I chose to make broader focus changes, which all come together and form one big resolution: Overall Wellness. I’ve always geared towards a natural lifestyle, but this year I’m taking it further than I ever have. Between learning more than ever about toxins, carcinogens, etc and deciding that I want to do more in eliminating those risks for myself and my family, I’ve made a few key changes this year.

Saying Goodbye to Conventional Deodorant

Mainstream deodorants are filled with parabens and aluminum, both of which have been linked to breast cancer and other health issues. I’ve tried many brands over the past few months, but the two that I’ve liked the best are Native ( I love the Lavender and Rose one) and Primally Pure Charcoal.

Removing as Much Plastic as Possible

We’ve slowly started switching to glass and stainless steel only in our kitchen. So much petro-chemicals and toxins leak out of plastic and into our food/drink. I’ve changed to stainless steel cups and bowls/plates for the kids, glass tupper ware and tea pitchers, and glass/steel water bottles for us and the kids. I’m not all plastic-free yet…I can’t bring myself to get rid of all the melamine dish and drink ware sets that I’ve collected over the years from West Elm and Pottery Barn!

Trying New Vitamins and Herbal Supplements

Photo via MoonJuice.com

I will write a separate post on this topic soon, but I do want to sure a bit about my routine. I have always believed in taking vitamins and supplements. We grew up learning about natural wellness from our parents, and always took vitamins. In the past I have overdone it and taken too many vitamins that ended up being bad for my health, such as compacted tablet forms. At this point in my life, I’m finally feeling like I have a good system! My daily regimen is this: Ritual Multi-Vitamin, Young Living Life 9 Probiotic and Super C, AshwagandaCollagen Powder, and Moon Juice Adaptogenic Protein. I also love their Spirit and Brain Dusts.

Adding Teas and Kombucha to My Routine

Photo via BigEasyBucha.com

I’ve always loved tea, but I just never bothered to make it very often, especially hot tea. I tend to gravitate towards cold beverages, since I live in Florida where it’s perpetually Summer. Plus, I like to drink as many of my non-water beverages that I can through a straw…because teeth stains aren’t my cup of tea. BUT lately I’ve been loving hot tea! My favorites are organic Green Tea, which I make hot or iced and keep in a glass pitcher in the fridge, Organic Matcha Powder that I make into cold lattes with unsweetened almond milk and a scoop of Moon Juice Spirit Dust, and Get Clean Be Well Tea, which I drink every night. The health benefits to drink tea are numerous, plus they’re an amazing replacement for sugary drinks like juice and soda. Even diet sodas are terrible for your health, so I cut out my occasional Coke Zero this year too.

Kombucha is a fermented tea that is loaded with healthy-for-you bacteria. A good immune system starts with your gut, and I take a probiotic each day on top of drinking kefir and kombucha. I love Health-ade and Big Easy Bucha brands (brewed in my home state of Louisiana!). They’re both small-batch breweries and don’t have a ton of added sugar. I aim for 8 grams or less in one bottle. I’ve noticed that when I drink kombucha, that I tend to stay full longer, and I crave less random crappy foods.

Drinking 2-6 Tbsp of Apple Cider Vinegar Daily

Okay…if you’re following my Instagram stories, you’ll know that I LOATHE ACV. I hate the way it smells, tastes, even looks. However, I can no longer deny that the health benefits far outweigh my aversion to this super-drink. So I set out to test the best way possible to ingest this nasty drink. First, learn from me; do NOT drink this straight. I figured if I could just get it over with in one shot then I’d be able to handle it for 5 seconds each day. Nah. Vinegar is super stringent on the esophagus and I couldn’t talk for about 10 minutes. It was awful and it burned. Then I tried adding 2 tbsp to my 32oz water bottle…that was still gross, and just as annoying to drink since it takes me a little while to finish. So lastly I added 2tbsp to a 16oz glass of water, mixed in a little agave, and chugged it. It doesn’t taste like cupcakes, but I could at least stand to drink it. Voila!

Working Out and Eating Right

These really are no-brainers when it comes to health and wellness, but 2017 as not my year…let’s leave it at that. I not only put on a ton of unwanted pounds, but I was unhappier than ever! I really missed getting in a good workout sesh and the good feeling that I get from eating lots of whole, healthy foods. It just took a new outlook on life to get me to open my eyes and pay attention. So I cut out beer completely, and I just drink a bit on the weekends. Mainly I stick to vodka tonic with lime…I love the all-natural Fever Tree brand! I’ve also been making sure to eat mostly whole foods to eliminate the junk they add to processed foods (like bad-for-you soy), as well as mostly being gluten and cows-milk free. I took a food sensitivity test and learned that I have moderate reactivity to cows milk, wheat, gluten, brewers yeast, spinach, and  malt. I knew some of them, which is why I drink almond milk and stick to kale instead of spinach. I’ve always reacted very strongly to beer, I get the WORST hangovers from just a few beers, and now I know why…I’m allergic! I recommend DNA testing for food sensitivity for sure. Common reactions are skim problems, joint pain, fatigue, inflammation, digestion issues, headaches, weight gain, and more!

And Always, Always Essential Oils

Photo via Jessica Garvin

I’ve been using Young Living Essential Oils for about a year and a half now, and I’ve never looked back. The only thing I regret is not starting sooner. I use them in every aspect of my life, for skin support, good sleep, pest removal and preventing, clean home, laundry, healthy hair, ingesting for health and detox properties, purifying, creating smell-good diffuser blends, YOU NAME IT. You can read more about getting starter with them here, because literally EVERYONE needs oils. I never buy essential oils from a source other than Young Living, because I cannot trust where they’re sourced from or the quality. Most store brands are perfume quality, which really means that they’re not 100% pure oils that are safe to enter your bloodstream through ingesting or skin contact. If you’re interested in learning more, my essential oils Instagram page is here, I would love for you to follow along!

 Always consult your doctor before starting a new regimen, and trust your instincts! If something feels wrong then it may be. That’s why I sought out the DNA test, and I’ve never felt better after cutting those foods out of my diet. I hope these notes help if you’re looking to introduce some wellness into your life. I am a reader at heart, so I tend to research a ton before I add something new to my life. I love reading product recommendations and reviews. This is NOT a sponsored post, and all of my opinions are my own.

I think what’s always made the holidays -or more accurately- Christmas so special to me is the magic that we’ve always kept alive for our kids. My parents made each Christmas special in that way, and it was really more about the warm feeling we all got than the gifts. We never asked them if Santa was real, we just enjoyed all of the festiveness and togetherness we shared. To me, Santa is the Christmas magic! It’s special that you don’t see him, or get to know all of the secrets of Christmas. We always knew the real meaning and reason for Christmas, of course, and we’ve made sure that Laila and Carson understand that as well.

Laila is 9 this year, and she takes after my Logical Lacey side so much! I know that she has been wondering if Santa is real. Last year, one of my girlfriends told her 9 year old the deal, and she made it so special! She took her to Disney and wrote this amazing letter, and I just thought, wow! That’s the way to go. Talking about how Santa is love and magic and hope and happiness. I gave it a ton of thought and even thought, this is the year! She is way too logical to keep falling for the Elf on the Shelf or Santa anymore.

But then…Laila caught me. She’s one of those sneaky cats who will go through my closet to try and find evidence, or who gets out of bed 1000 times to catch us in the act. At first it totally irritated me, but I know that she is just trying to work out what she thinks is happening with what is really happening. I’m an investigator by nature and a total over-thinker, so I can’t be too mad. However, I was totally crushed by her reaction. She saw me staging candy wrappers for Sebastian (that damn elf’s name that we gave him 5 years ago) and then came out of her room again to find that he moved to his new spot before she even went to sleep. Or before he had time to go back to the North Pole to snitch on her to Santa.

Y’all…she was so upset. She literally yelled at us, “Just tell me the truth”! We sent her back to bed for being extra, and honestly her reaction just really upset me. I’ve worked so hard to make Christmas special each year. From the freaking elf that is a pain in the ass to move each night, in the perfect spot that the cat, dog or 5 year old can’t mess with him. To carefully selecting the perfect thing each day for their advent calendar. Taking them to go look at all of the amazing Christmas lights every year, planning the best Santa gifts and arranging everything on Christmas Eve. And I finally had my out, I could just tell her!

But….I can’t. I’m not ready to take the magic away. As much as it takes up my time and energy every December, I don’t do it for myself. I do it for them! To have them experience that wonder and magic and amazement is everything to me. I feel like if I take that away, Christmas will be just a little bit less special. It may sound weird. But they won’t be little forever, and the best part of being little is BELIEVING. So I’m going to concoct the most creative damn way for Sebastian to come back from the North Pole, and I’m going to keep doing advent and making Christmas as magical as I possibly can. Because ya gotta believe!

UPDATE: my sister and I devised the perfect plan! Michael and I took the kids to dinner and to see some Christmas lights, and she came over to my house and set this up! She is a genius, I loved the letter that she wrote them! The kids freaked out, and let’s just say that the magic is alive and well.

When you buy a new house, the list of things to do seems endless.

At least to me. One of the things that sold me on the house was the cool double-sided fireplace that is showcased in both living rooms! I’ve never heard of this feature before and I think it’s so fun. My friends and family all joke with me about my love for fireplaces. “You live in Florida, you goose!” I’m not saying that I want a roaring fire going in July, but the chance to decorate two mantles was too good to pass up. However, I am NOT a fan of the outdated brass features. No thank you.

I have some ideas on new mantles and tile/brick on the outside to replace the current white tile, but for now I just wanted to get that brass metal covered up. So a quick one day project was born, just in time to decorate for Christmas! Here is the finished product:

The process was easier than I thought! I bought some black HIGH HEAT paint. That is the most important detail, you can’t just slap any paint on a fireplace or you’ll end up with a mess and hazard on your hands. I found the paint at Lowes or Home Depot, I can’t remember. Just ask the clerk, they’ll help you find it! I bought an actual paint brush, but then lost it in a sea of boxes, so I used a wide craft brush that I found in my craft bin. It worked great! The last thing you’ll need is tape, so that you can get both sides of the hardware on the glass doors.

To start, I took the doors off and taped BOTH sides. You can’t just paint the front, because you’ll see the brass on the other side and it will look unfinished. Tip: you’ll want to wait a couple of hours between coats. This paint dries very slowly, and if you do one coat after the other, it will just slide the paint all over the place and take longer to get the desired effect. It also dries to a very sticky consistency before it’s fully cured. I ended up doing three coats, but if you wait a good amount of time between coats, you may be good with just two.

After one coat of paint

Done and ready for Christmas decor!

 Sorry for the bad pictures. I still can’t find my camera (I’m sure it’s in one of the 1000 boxes in my closet) so I took these on my iPhone. BUT – I love how it turned out! The fireplaces look way more modern and clean. I can’t wait to share more holiday decor posts once I’m all set up! I cannot believe that December is two days away. 2018 is going to be here before we know it!