52 Weeks of Gratitude #3

Week #3: Family

This post is late going up, but it doesn’t take away from my unending gratitude for my family.

I. Love. Family. It is the most important piece of my life. I talk to my immediate and extended family members regularly and I am so grateful to be able to do that. I am quite introverted, so I find it reassuring and comforting that I have a strong support system without having to go out and meet a bunch of new people. My people were provided for me ūüôā

My family is close, my mom’s side and my dad’s side. I spent every summer growing up traveling around with my cousins. It was the best childhood I could ever dream up.

Now, into adulthood, my treasured family time happens less, but it is so special when we can all get together again like when we were kids. 127 11036701_10153357117875982_5631754264827811298_n52154505_542042262475276_1391897012_n473350_435642306460875_678583239_o 002

Gluten Free “Bread” Sticks with Quinoa

IMG_0524

These are super tasty and easy “bread” sticks made from quinoa!

I’ve explained this before, but my cooking style is very free-form. I don’t usually follow a recipe, I add whatever I feel like, and I taste-test as I go along. So, I don’t have set measurements, but the ingredients I used were:¬†quinoa, eggs, cheese, baking powder and Italian spices. I cooked the quinoa and let it cool then added 2 eggs, a couple handfuls of shredded cheeses (I think I used mozzarella and a 3-cheese blend), about a teaspoon or so of baking powder and then seasonings to taste. I used spices like thyme, parsley, garlic, salt & pepper, and my trusty Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning!

I then laid it flat in a casserole dish and cooked it until the edges started to turn golden. About 30 minutes at 350 degrees (I’m cooking at a high altitude so this may vary). Then I added more cheese on top, spinach, and tomatoes and baked again until the cheese got bubbly! We dipped them in marinara sauce. Mmm! Mmm!

Mini Van Camper

Well, we did it! We managed to build a bed in the back of my hand-me-down mini van, and there’s enough room for my 6’1” hubby ūüôā

I’ve seen different blog posts for this kind of structure on Pinterest and circumstances changed so that I inherited my mom’s old mini van. We first decided to try to build a bed in the back of our van because we want to do a super mega road trip one day. We have our route planned out and everything, but we know that the most expensive part of traveling is the lodging/accommodations. That’s when I started scouring the internet for inspiration. I came across a few helpful blogs and YouTube channels, and when we decided to go for it, my hubby sketched out our plan.

It took us about 2 days total to make our camper van structure. I think if the weather wasn’t so hot or we had AC in the garage we could have had it completed in one full day.

Here’s the supplies we used:

  • 1 1/2 inch PVC pipe (5 pipes at 10 feet each)
  • 1×4’s (2 boards at 8 feet each)
  • 3/4” plywood (cut into the dimensions of our van)
  • 6 long zip ties
  • 1 King size bed sheet

Here’s the tools we used:

  • Hand saw
  • Measuring tape
  • Screws and a drill
  • Staples and a staple gun
  • Rubber mallet
  • Protective eye wear!

IMG_0557 IMG_0572 IMG_0573 IMG_0574 IMG_0576 IMG_0578

IMG_0584

IMG_0585

IMG_0583

Here’s how we did it:

We meticulously measured out the pieces of PVC (and then re-measured) to fit inside the van. Our Honda Odyssey was about 4’x8′ so that was our starting measurement.

The most time consuming part of this was tweaking the length of the PVC pipes (we don’t have any fancy saws or PVC pipe cutting tools). I think with better tools and/or measuring it wouldn’t be so time intensive.

After we had the PVC cut correctly and all the corner pieces and legs secured, we glued both ends and the middle part of the frame. The only reason we didn’t glue all the pieces is because we may want to disassemble the bed one day. Cutting the PVC pipe took up 1.5 of our 2 days of work!

The next few steps were simple. We went to Home Depot and asked for the nice people there to please cut us a piece of plywood the size of the frame. For us, that was 4′ by 7’9”. We opted to go with plywood reinforced with 1×4’s because it is lighter, but you could get a stronger piece of wood (or another sheet of a different material) and it would be fine. Then we secured the 1×4’s to the plywood, screwing one every 1-1.5 feet length-wise across the frame. Then we wrapped the plywood in a cheap sheet to protect from splinters. We just stapled the sheet down.

We then drilled small holes in the plywood (2 holes on each side, 1 hole on each end) and secured the PVC pipe frame to the plywood.

The last step was sliding it into the van. This took 3 people, but it slipped right in perfectly! I love when that happens.

Good luck and happy camping!

Sincerely,

Kelly

52 Weeks of Gratitude #2

Week 2: Spouse/Significant other

I am grateful for my sweet fianc√©. He is kind, thoughtful, brilliant, charismatic, driven, loving, supportive, encouraging, talented, playful, and just impossibly good looking ūüėČ

I love our love story. Here’s the condensed version:

We met in 2006, as 12 year olds, in a 7th grade Spanish class and became friends. We went to the 7th grade dance together that year. When we were 14 years old we decided to be “official” and we went out until high school. We went to different high schools so we decided to break up, but obviously that didn’t work out so well because here we are in 2016 and engaged to be married.

He is the person in my life who consistently reminds me to be in the present. He likes to remind me about how amazing our life is. He will point out the good things when I’m feeling low: have a full fridge, we have a comfortable and cozy apartment in a safe neighborhood, we have stable jobs, we have fun hobbies, and most importantly we have, in each other, a supportive partner.

When I get stressed or anxious, he likes to say “will it help?” Meaning, is worrying/panicking/obsessing/ruminating help? The answer is always “no” and I am so grateful for his gentle and loving reminders to center myself.

I’m thrilled to share my life with him.

38.jpg

3 Essential Oils for Skin Care

doterrabannerb

Beauty routines don’t have to be full of the most expensive products. I use 5 items in my skin care routine regularly:

Coconut oil, Baking Soda, Melaluca, Frankincense, and Lavender.

This includes cleansing, moisturizer, and help with trouble spots.

I prefer to use Doterra essential oils because I find them to be the most effective and they are also great quality.

So, for cleansing I add 1 part baking soda to 1.5-2 parts water or until it makes a paste-like consistency. I usually add enough to make about 1/3 of a cup so I can use it all week. Then, I add about 3 drops each of frankincense and lavender essential oils. Frankincense and Lavender are both great for the skin. They help heal scars, moisturize, and keep my skin looking healthy.

After I cleanse my face, I will apply melaluca to any troublesome areas. Melaluca will dry out acne quickly. Each skin type is different so test out the oil by mixing it with a “carrier oil” like coconut oil before putting it directly on your skin. Also never put essential oils near your eyes!! It will burn like crazy!

Then I moisturize with a small amount of coconut oil mixed with more Frankincense and Lavender. I make about 4 T. at a time and use probably 6 drops of oils total.

I love the way the essential oils make my skin feel (it smells great too!).

 

52 Weeks of Gratitude 

I am going to do something a little different by blogging on one topic consistently. I am going to post one blog per week about gratitude. Gratitude is a feeling which I find to be the most life changing. It brings me to the present, it reminds me of how amazing my life is, it shifts my mindset to positivity, it is a choice. I often forget to be truly, humbly grateful, but when I practice gratitude then I find that I am the most happy version of me.
Gratitude means appreciating the things, people, and circumstances that surround you, just as they are. Finding gratitude in your life as it is right this very moment is the essence of practicing a gratitude. To have an abundance of gratitude means to be at peace and not wanting for more, more, more.¬†I am going to practice 52 weeks of gratitude because I need to be reminded that my life is sooo good. I have it better than so many people, and I often forget that and find myself feeling like I’m lacking something. Money, stuff, fancy cars, or whatever it is, doesn’t matter and it won’t make me happy. Feeling grateful for what I have and being grateful for who is in my life will make me happy.

I found this challenge on localadventurer.com ūüôā

Join me on this journey of 52 weeks of gratitude.

Sincerely, Kelly

So, you’re a millennial?

Me, too! I am a baby of the 1990s and I am wondering why so many people from the generations before us have so many opinions about us. It’s not as if the “war baby”-“baby boomer”-“flower power” babies pondered their existence any less. Existential crises are not mutually exclusive to us.

I think, at age 22, it is perfectly normal to have the following monologue run through your head: “Yay! I’m an adult! Did I choose the right major? I’m not sure if this is what I want to spend my life doing…but I spent so much time on this degree. Wait! Wait! Seriously, what am I doing with my life? Oh, who cares? This looks like fun. I’m so young I don’t have to decide right now…but I chose a major when I was 18, have I completely lost focus? What? They bought a house and I can barely afford rent? What am I doing with my life? Hey, that looks fun!”

Anyone?

I have a secret for you: there is nothing surreptitious about growing up and there is no guidebook. We’re all navigating this world one day at a time. It is okay to¬†feel like you have all the puzzle pieces but you don’t have them all put together. You may have a degree, a job, a car, and a solid group of friends but you still aren’t sure what you’re doing with your life– and I am here to let you know that you’re not the only one.

This blog is a result of my own uncertainty. I am channeling all my unfocused ideas and energy into this website in the hopes that, one day, my existential crisis will subside.

Sincerely, Kelly

Easy Gluten Free Strawberry Cobbler

FullSizeRender (4)

My mom and I have very similar cooking styles. We go in with an idea of a dish and then wing it from there. My method is “Yeah, let’s put some of that in there” or “that needs to be used today” or “I wonder what I can make with¬†x, y, z.” I am messy in the kitchen, it is the one place that I actually feel okay making messes.

I started baking this dish because of my mom. She basically taught me everything I know about cooking and the manner in which I cook. This is a simple “dump” dessert. You basically cannot mess this up it is so low maintenance.

Here’s what I use:

  • 1/2 pound-ish of fresh strawberries, chopped
  • 4-6 T. Kerrygold unsalted butter (always use Kerrygold, it is the best butter!), sliced into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup-ish of gluten free flour (I use Namaste Foods Perfect Flour Blend)
  • 1/2 cup-3/4 cup of gluten free granola or oats (I prefer to browse the bulk bins at my local grocery store and buy whichever flavor sounds the yummiest!)
  • A drizzle of organic honey on top

Here’s the method:

Throw everything into a small casserole dish or baking pan and stir together. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until the granola starts to turn golden.

That’s it! Literally so simple. Delicious too!

Sincerely, Kelly

 

How I Donated 30” of Hair in 9 years

From the time I¬†learned that donating hair was a thing, I have donated my hair. In fact, I don’t go to the hair salon for casual hair trims at all anymore– if I get my hair cut, it is for donation.

The first time I donated my hair was in 2007 and I donated to Locks of Love. I donated 11 inches! If you donate hair to Locks of Love then it will go to a child of a low-income family who has lost their hair due to medical reasons.

26683_1494119958781_2453657_n

The second time I donated my hair was in 2011 and I donated to Pantene. I donated 11.5 inches! If you donate hair to Pantene, your hair will go to women who have lost their hair because of Cancer treatment.

24126_1442410939100_3489432_n

24126_1442464980451_4730781_n

The third time I donated my hair was in 2015 and I donated to Wigs for Kids. I donated 10 inches! If you donate hair to Wigs for Kids, it will get customized to fit a child who has lost their hair.

FullSizeRender (2)FullSizeRender (3) IMG_0197

These companies all use the hair donations in positive ways. I know that some people have stronger opinions about these companies, but my opinion is that if someone out there needs hair to feel more confident, then I’ll gladly share mine because I have an excess.

Donating hair is super easy, usually there is a form you can fill out with an address included where you¬†can send your ponytail of hair. These companies all require a minimum of 8-12” of hair for donations. It is a little unsettling at first, to see your hair chopped off in long lengths, but promise me when I say it is worth it. If you feel pulled to do so, I highly recommend donating hair.

Sincerely, Kelly

How I treated my Lyme Disease with Essential Oils 

I want to begin by saying that everyone experiences Lyme differently, and what worked for me and my body may not work for everyone. I was lucky and was diagnosed early and have had wonderful medical care since my diagnosis. Also, it took nearly 9 years of treating my Lyme before I stumbled upon essential oils. I cannot live without them now!

FullSizeRender (1)paint

My Lyme story starts in 2006. In May 2006, my sixth grade class took a field trip to the YMCA of the Rockies to hike, do ropes courses, careen down the side of a mountain on alpine slides, and roast marshmallows over a fire. It was an all around, grand, end-of-the-year field trip. Prior to this trip, I never thought twice about ticks and I really thought they only bothered dogs and deer. Then, during our afternoon hike my teacher found a tick on the back of his vest and he showed it to all the students with a cautionary tale about why these itty-bitty critters are actually no good, blood sucking, evil arachnids. I assume the tick that my teacher found was a black-legged deer tick, and because the Rocky Mountains are densely populated with deer, I’m sure there were ticks everywhere. (I would like to say here that, YES, Lyme Disease and other tick-borne diseases do happen in the western United States).

So, I had a great time on the field trip and then about a month later I started having odd symptoms, especially for a 12-year-old. My neck was stiff, I was lethargic, I lost my appetite, my left elbow stiffened up, and my left knee swelled up to the size of a cantaloupe. That was when the doctors visits started. Luckily for me, I have a wonderful primary care doctor who practices as a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) and utilizes natural forms of medicine and was open to looking at less common illnesses.

My dad thought to check for Lyme and my doctor confirmed it with a blood test. My diagnosis came in August of 2006 approximately 3 months after the bite. I was diagnosed with Lyme,  Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichia, and Babesia. It was obviously one very nasty tick.

The diagnoses came from my primary care doctor after being misdiagnosed by the Denver Children’s Hospital with Juvenile ¬†Rheumatoid Arthritis and/or Lupus. I was misdiagnosed for several reasons. One being that the MD’s simply said that Lyme Disease doesn’t happen in Colorado, it only happens on the east coast. Another reason was that we never saw the classic bullseye rash (later my mom found a streak of white hair in my otherwise blonde locks and we learned that tick bites can kill hair follicles, leaving the hair without color). I had been bit on my scalp and, because of that, never saw a rash.

Immediately after diagnosis I began¬†several course of antibiotics. I will be honest, the antibiotic treatment was intense, 4 days per week in an IV alternating with oral antibiotics and I got sick. At my sickest, I was about 5’3” and around 88 pounds. I continued antibiotic treatment for several years. Occasionally taking a break before beginning a new round.

That’s when my love for my wonderful primary care doc comes in– she always ensured that I was doing supplemental treatments to offset the effects of heavy-duty antibiotics. I took probiotics, digestive enzymes, supplemental vitamins and minerals, I spent time in a ¬†hyperbaric chamber, I got regular chiropractic adjustments, I ate a high-fat diet (when I had an appetite, that is), I used Colloidal Silver, I used aroma therapy and massage therapy, and most recently I used essential oils.

It has been a 10 year battle to rid my body of the spirochete bacteria. The spirochetes like to hide out in the lining of the red blood cells. We are talking microscopic bacteria. When I was first diagnosed, if you looked at my blood under a dark spectrum microscope, you would’ve seen over 500 spirochetes per slide. If you looked at my blood today, you would see 2…maybe even less. My point is that these spirochetes are stubborn and resilient. They will fight back against any antibiotic invasion, and because of that (in my case) we had to use a dozen different antibiotics and no traditional methods of killing the bacteria.

Using essential oils is something that I did lots of research about on my own, with the support and guidance of my primary care doc. The oil that worked the best for me was frankincense. I started using 2 drops under my tongue in the morning for the physical symptoms (knee swelling, joint pain, neck stiffness) and within 2 months my symptoms were nearly gone. I used to have to take 1200mg of ibuprofen daily, but I stopped taking ibuprofen and completely replaced it with  frankincense.

The reason essential oils are so effective is because, on a molecular level, they are so small. The molecules that make up essential oils are small enough to fit easily inside my red blood cells, for example, or to go through the blood-brain barrier.

I would recommend doing research about using essential oils medicinally if you are interested in making some changes in your medicine cabinet. Frankincense was tremendously helpful as an alternative medicine for me.

Sincerely, Kelly