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July 30, 2014

Wellness Wednesday: What "No" Really Means

Many things are the inevitable norm when you have a chronic illness, among them being pain of any level, pacing yourself and accomplishing comparatively little every day--or sometimes nothing at all based on how your body is treating you--and never knowing how you'll feel day to day and hour to hour.

But another thing that is the norm is having to say no. A lot. To anything from family dinner on Sunday, to going out to eat with your spouse, to your best friend coming over to visit.

My family and close friends have pretty much come to expect that more likely than not, I probably won't be able to come to             . I frequently have to say no, whether from exhaustion, stomach issues, or my messed up sleep schedule landing me finally in bed when whatever event is taking place.

To those who aren't sick, hearing no much more often than yes could make it seem like either I'm just not really putting forth the effort to make it, or I don't really mind saying no so much and that the event I'm missing isn't all that important to me. But none of those are the case.

A few months ago, on one of many mornings when I was exhausted and miserable, I somehow found it in me to get up, get ready, and make it to a certain event. I decided to just try and get through it. And I got there, sat down, was absolutely miserable, and in the middle of it looked up at Daniel and said, "This is not worth it." No one knows one's body better than oneself, and I know when I cannot and should not say yes.

As far as my frequent no's possibly implying that I don't mind saying no or that the occasion I'll be missing isn't that important to me, that is the absolute opposite of the truth. Every single no I give leaves me with guilt--guilt that maybe I'm not really trying hard enough (even though I know deep down that's a lie) and guilt over the disappointment I'm causing those affected by it--like my husband, my family, and my best friend. Every time I have to cancel on my best friend, which feels like 75% of the time, I feel like an absolutely terrible friend. And even though I know she knows and understands, I don't feel any less bad about it.

And yet, with the endless cycle of feeling awful so often, having many limits, being left with no choice but to say no so often, and feeling guilty about it all, I've come to learn that I have to give myself permission to give myself a break. To learn to be able to say no and not feel like the worst friend/wife/granddaughter, etc. for disappointing people because of something I cannot control. That's certainly something I'm still working on, but something I know I have to learn to do for my own attempt at health and well-being and sanity.

So if you know me "IRL" or have someone in your life that has a chronic illness and you hear no and get cancelled on a lot, please know that what's behind our "no" is not lack of care or love or not trying hard enough but rather an answer that we don't get to choose, plenty of disappointment and guilt, and one more necessary attempt at self-care.

Love the Here and Now

And today, I'm wishing for fewer no's, the ability to not beat myself up when it can't be a yes, and for those I disappoint to understand as best they can.

Also linking up with Link Love.

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July 28, 2014

I've Got Raleigh Down, Y'all ... Not Really

I'm back! Did y'all miss me? ;) Between pre-moving's madness and life in general, I gave myself a much-needed week off from my blog. But here we are again for Grateful Heart Monday!

Last, last weekend, as I mentioned we would be doing, we did fit a massive apartment-hunting spree into 2 days. Let me just say, if you or anyone you know needs advice on any apartment in the vicinity of Raleigh, send them my way! I seriously had to have looked up at least 50 apartments on my phone just while Daniel drove us around, in addition to the gobs that I went through online ahead of time. Even though I'd exhausted the internet resources on the topic, one landlord gave us a thick booklet of apartments in surrounding areas, so I proceeded to go page by page, find each one that listed either a good price or no price, Google map it to see if it was close enough to Daniel's job, then if it was, try to find prices on their website, and if the prices were good, call them for any availabilities. All as fast as my fingers could fly, let me tell you, and while my battery got lower and lower. It was in.san.ity. I knew we only had so much time, and it all really depended on me getting to the bottom of every possibility as fast as possible.

We probably drove by and/or visited 15 maybe? I don't remember at all. But the reason for the rush was that, first of all, Daniel was still at his old job in WV all week, so we only had weekends to get things done, and the new start date was coming fast. So we had two options: find an apartment that happened to be available immediately so we could both move in, or find one available in the semi-near future and he would stay with some distant relatives in the area until we could move into the apartment, and I would stay back home with my parents in the meantime. The latter, while the option lending to less panicked packing and moving, was obviously not the preference, but the one that we ended up with.

We did finally find ourselves an apartment, but it's not available to move in until mid August. So, I'm here, and Daniel is there for 2 1/2 weeks. I never dreamed this long-distance thing would ever happen again--we were long-distance for a large part of our time dating, and it killed us to be apart--even once he lived 25 minutes from me and we saw each other every day. We got rid of that problem when we got married! I'm really just trying not to think about it, or else I would be absolutely miserable. Plus, I ushered in this momentous weekend of him leaving with a cold that gave me the most painful sore throat I have ever had--his last day here I literally couldn't talk. Not ideal.

But my whining is over--ever since my sister's husband was deployed a couple years ago, I definitely have a new perspective on missing your spouse. Two weeks? I'll be fine. ;)

So this Monday, though it feels way too much like we're back in 2011, I am grateful:

~ I am getting better, and have a voice now.
~ I ate at Chickfilla (for the first time in about 9 months) while we were apartment hunting--without any stomach pain after. Can you say exciting? I just discovered their grilled nuggets and cole slaw are gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and everything! Who knew??
~ Moving near a big city will mean more allergen-free food options, both grocery stores and restaurants. And that, my friend, changes everything!
~ Daniel starts his new--potentially incredible--job today!! I felt awful for him every day he went to his last job, and he has deserved this new one for so, so long. He's excited, and I'm excited. :D
~ We did find an apartment--and secured it before someone else got it first! Those things go fast!
~ And we're moving! To North Carolina! Finally!

Grateful Heart linkup w/ Ember Grey

So how was your weekend? Have you had to be long-distance from your spouse for a few weeks at a time? Any advice, suggestions, warnings about anything in the vicinity of Raleigh?
{Oh, and don't miss out on my Katya Valera shop credit giveaway going on over at Sweet Southern T!}

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July 18, 2014

My Friday Five: Sweet, Crazy Summertime

Hey guys! I have absolutely no idea how it's already Friday again--really I've been behind all week. I think it's actually Wednesday, but I'll go along with the calendar anyway.

1~ Another weekend, another trip to NC, this time to attempt to find an apartment asap. Think it's possible to accomplish that in just two days? We'll find out! Prayers much appreciated. :)

2~ And another trip means I made more Breadless French Toast Sticks just like I did for last weekend's trip. Did you see that post on Wednesday? You have got to try them. Healthy + delicious is always a win.


3~ I am finally feeling better than I was this time last week (not to be read as "all better"), as I referred to in Monday's post, but I have a feeling that all the cooking I did for this trip (yes, yes, I had to make more of these cookies too), though much less than what I did for last week's, will have me limping around tomorrow. Seriously. Sigh.

4~ I may not be feeling awesome, but can I just say how much I love summer? Like seriously, it is amazing. A.mazing. And I vote that it's at its most beautiful right here in the heart of West Virginia. I may be leaving it behind soon, but a big part of my heart will always be right here.

5~ And finally, I wanted to let you guys know that my huge 30% off sale is still going on at Katya Valera! Just use coupon code Summertime30 at checkout. Here's a few juicy pieces--many, many more are to be found in my shop! I'd love for you to take a look! :)


Have a great weekend, y'all! =)

P.S. Linking up with Little Friday, Friday Favorites, Thursday Favorite Things, Treat Yo' Self Thursday, Anything Goes Linky, High Five For Friday, Friday's Fab Favorites, Link Love

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July 16, 2014

Wellness Wednesday: Breadless French Toast Sticks

I have been so eager to share this recipe with you guys! I happened to find the original recipe at The Scent of Oranges through a link up about a month ago. And I think I've made it five times since then... :O Needless to say, I've found yet another healthy recipe I can't live without. And it was invaluable to have ready to microwave and eat on our trip this weekend. Even my husband agrees, this stuff is awesome!

Now, as always, I've made some changes to the recipe. I will tell you that the original is called German Pancakes, but once I made my changes, it felt like French Toast fit it better in my case. Thus the new name. ;)

And as if they're not awesome enough, they are so easy. The hardest part is cracking open 6 eggs without making a mess everywhere--and having 6 eggs in your fridge!

Breadless French Toast Sticks

You'll need:
6 eggs
1 cup gluten-free flour (I have used different versions [more on that below] but prefer this)
1 cup coconut milk (the cold, carton kind)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. olive oil to grease the pan

1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2) Mix the eggs, flour, milk, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl. (It will be runny.)
3) Drizzle the oil in a 9x13 baking dish, place the pan in the oven for about 30 seconds to let the oil heat up, then remove the pan and move it around to let the oil coat it.
4) Pour the mixture into the pan and bake for about 30-35 minutes. (The original says 20, and I've done it up to 40 before, so I think it greatly depends on your flour.)

As I mentioned, I've used different brands and kinds of flour for this. I almost always use Bloomfield Farms, but for these photos I was out of it and used Bob's Red Mill and could not believe the difference in looks. The edges shot up the sides of the pan!

 And here is how it looks made with Bloomfield Farms flour. 

Much prettier. :) But it still tastes good either way. And to add to the craziness, both of these look completely different than in the original recipe! So feel free to use whatever flour you prefer!

I like to dip these in real maple syrup and have them with Easy Fried Broccoli (yep, kinda weird I guess) and turkey lunchmeat fried up in olive oil until it's crunchy. Pretty stinkin' tasty! :)

July 14, 2014

A Break in the Clouds

I'm not sure I've ever had such a paradox of a weekend. Knowing we had a trip coming up, I proceeded to put on somebody else's Superwoman cape and cooked and got food all ready like there was no tomorrow. And I felt it the next morning... and the rest of the weekend. Traveling and lack of sleep also helped all that. By Saturday, every single inch of my body felt like it had been put through a ringer. And I still feel it now.

So as far as my body problems go, it was not a nice weekend. But in a completely different area, it was awesome.

Of course these cookies had to come with me... They're not the prettiest things, but they're quite heavenly...

We have passed this house for years while headed south. I've decided it's impossible to get a good picture of it whilst flying down the Interstate...

True love is letting your husband eat Red Robin in front of you, without getting mad that you can't have any of it. :P

;) <3

Look, more food that I whipped up for the trip! This amazingness is coming to the blog on Wednesday! :D

Pilot Mountain, aka Mount Pilot, in the distance.
Extra grateful for this guy--who's Superman every single day.

Daniel had a job interview in North Carolina, and long story short, he got the job! We've been in the job hunt mess ever since last summer when an opportunity we were banking on fell through, but not until after we had moved out of our apartment to stay with my parents for a couple months in anticipation of the move, just until he started the new job out of state in the fall. So we've been in limbo ever since.

It has really, truly felt like this day would never come. So for obvious reasons, this new job--and a lovely trip to North Carolina, including a stay at some relatives' gorgeous home--are what I am so grateful for today.

Grateful Heart Monday

We have got the craziest couple of weeks coming up. But man alive, let the long-awaited craziness begin!

P.S. Also linking up with Little Friday

July 11, 2014

My Friday Five: Minor Key, Recaps, and I Need Your Input!

Well, this Friday I'm on the road--but here's a peek from the trip down courtesy of my Instagram. (I'd love for you to follow me! ;)

And hopefully I'll get to say more about all that on Monday. But for now, it's time for my five!

1~ Have you seen this video yet? I think this is freaking gorgeous. I'm all about minor key, and I love this.

2~ This is my first summer seriously blogging, so maybe it's just what you do in the summer, but it seems like everybody and their mother are redoing their blogs! I can't believe it! Whether just a redesign or a total rebranding, I'm getting the feeling that summer is the time for change. So if you're jumping on the change bandwagon, I'm just gonna take this little opportunity to remind you that I am available for your blogger design needs (and content editing too) and I would absolutely love to work with you! Get all the info you need here.

3~ You may have seen me mention on here before about having issues with the ingredients in natural deodorants (yep, it's happened with two now). I'm allergic to shea butter, latex, probably cocoa butter, and evidently either tea tree oil or palm oil, in my latest adventure. So I wanted to ask you guys, do any of you happen to have a brand of natural deodorant you'd recommend that doesn't have those ingredients? I need some suggestions! (I've tried Primal Pit Paste and Jungleman.)

4~ Speaking of natural stuff, getting healthy, etc. (kinda same train of thought, right?), did you see my Wellness Wednesday post? I'm trying to do my little part in putting a dent in a popular misconception. Please take a look!


5~ And speaking of this week's posts, circling back to how I began the week with Grateful Heart Monday, I'd love for you to check out this week's post if you haven't yet.


And I hope to be back with some news for this next Grateful Heart Monday! :) Hope you guys have a great weekend! :)

P.S. Linking up with Little Friday, Friday Favorites, Thursday Favorite Things, Treat Yo' Self Thursday, Anything Goes Linky, High Five For Friday, Friday's Fab Favorites, Link Love

July 9, 2014

Wellness Wednesday: Healthy ≠ Deprived

There are two recurring things I continue to notice when reading blogs, Facebook posts, Instagrams, you name it: everyone and their mother is on the quest to lose weight, and way too many people equate losing weight and being healthy with depriving themselves of all the foods they love.

It seems to be assumed that we have to cut out every happy food there is and basically trudge through meals of vegetables in order to eat how we ought to.

And the latter bothers me greatly because it is nowhere near the truth.

In last week's Wellness Wednesday post, I shared the "diet" I went on that got me to the weight I need to be and, in the process, made me realize the deliciousness that is to be found in--shocker--healthy foods. I'm talking no gluten, no dairy, no soy, no corn, and no refined sugar, among other less-than-desirable components. I highly recommend taking a look at that post if you haven't and giving the "diet" some consideration.

But if you read that post and think it's just insane, or that you want to start out smaller, like with just cutting out gluten, for instance, I am happy to inform you that eating healthy is not about completely cutting out the foods you love. It's about finding healthy--and just as tasty--equivalents to replace them.

As a society, we are so unbelievably accustomed to convenience and driving by a fast food drive-through to pick up a burger, fries, and pop that it is literally second nature. The problem with that is certainly a whole separate issue in itself and more than I could attempt to cover in a blog post. But we've come to equate eating foods that we all know aren't exactly good for us with deliciousness, almost to the point of writing off the possibility of food that is both delicious and healthy.

In reality, there is pretty much a healthy--and tasty--substitute for anything. For example, you've probably noticed how often I use coconut in my recipes--canned coconut milk for cream, cold coconut milk for regular milk, coconut crystals for refined sugar, coconut oil for ... just about everything under the sun--but there are also tons of other switches that can be made: gluten-free flour for regular flour, sea salt for regular salt, real maple syrup for sugar-filled crap, corn tortillas for flour ones, homemade ice cream (tons of recipes in that department) for store-bought, and really homemade anything for store bought.

The only thing there isn't a healthy equivalent of is pop. Can't help you there--I haven't had it since last fall, and I'm still alive. But there are even healthier versions of candy bars, like this.

My point is this: if you want to eat healthy, yes, you'll need to eat more fruits and vegetables. But eating healthy does not mean no ice cream, no cookies, no pancakes, and no more delicious meals. It's just a matter of implementing healthier versions and sticking to it.

And if I can do that? You bet you can!

And linking up with Wednesday Wishes, I wish the mindset of healthy = deprived could be replaced in our society by the happy truth.

Love the Here and Now

I highly recommend this brilliant young lady's recipes. (Prepare to drool over her Instagram pictures.) She lives for figuring out how to make healthy versions of anything--even Little Debbie snacks!

July 8, 2014

Tank Top Love

If it were up to me, I would dress this way all the time: tank top, skinny jeans (or shorts), and sandals. Warm, warm weather is my favorite, favorite, favorite. Even if the sun is not my skin's friend.

So when the time came to finally break out these $3 skinny jeans and still-on-sale-but-not-quite-as-insanely-so tank top, I was stoked. And I've got the pictures to prove it.

Tank: Aeropostale
Jeans: No Boundaries
Bracelet and Necklace: Katya Valera

And by the way, I really need new gold sandals. Yeah, "need." But I have looked everywhere, at least in person, and I literally don't think they make gold sandals. The pair in these photos that I've had forever must be the only pair in existence, I've come to suspect. And it's unfortunately high time for them to move on, as they've seen much better days. Maybe by next summer a pair will turn up....

So, are you as thrilled to death with summertime as I am? Or are you one of those weirdos lovely people already longing for sweaters?

P.S. Linking up with Monday Bloom, Manic Monday here and here, I Would So Rock This, Style Sessions, Stylish Tuesday, Friday Favorites