A Cute Little Story..

Today I have a funny little story to share. If you’ve shopped at the Target located off of Las Posas in Camarillo, CA within the last few weeks, then you might have noticed something particularly fascinating while walking through the parking lot on your way in or out: a family of birds have decided to build their nest in a rather problematic location. While anyone can appreciate the rare sighting of a bird nest and the adorable baby birds that comprise it, this nest is different.

This nest was built in a small parking lot divider right in front of the store. For this reason, almost every individual that entered or exited through one of the two doors at Target would walk near its path. For these birds, a 15 foot radius around the nest was MUCH too close. The mother [or father…I’m not the best at distinguishing bird genders] would sit atop the handicap sign and guard the invisible perimeter around their nest. If ANYONE got anywhere near them, it would fly off its ‘throne’ and attack the person relentlessly. It didn’t matter that the nest was hidden underneath bushes outside of the view of any passersby. It didn’t matter that Target had noticed the bird nest problem and had surrounded the circumference of the “danger zone” with caution tape. This bird didn’t discriminate. Anyone was fair game. Anyone could be their target.

bird2

bird1

My boyfriend, Ben, and I found this amusing. We caught on to the bird situation rather quick, and sat down on a nearby bench to watch other, oblivious people get harmlessly “attacked”. We had never seen such an aggressive bird.

A few days later, Ben called me to report a new finding at Target. Target had hung up a sign (in addition to their caution tape) to ward people away from getting anywhere near the nesting area. They mentioned on the sign that a protected species would be in danger if people got too close. Now this took me by surprise and really impressed me. The bird had conveyed his/her message loud and clear. There had been a successful inter-species dialogue between the bird and the Target staff. Target had created a sign on the bird’s behalf, to send the same message in writing to people who missed the previous attempts of caution tape and attacks. This made me feel warm & fuzzy inside, as it took an act of teamwork between the bird and Target to keep the nest safe from harm. Not only that, but it also takes the continued cooperation and understanding of the Target customers to respect the sign by giving the nest the space it needs.

bird3

The environmental community works together. Animals communicate without the use of a common language. I thought I would share this story, as it really depicts the beauty of nature and the harmony that exists amongst species. Respect knows no bounds when it comes to Mother Nature.

xx allie

Appreciation Post: Hot Water

hot water

One of the main reasons why I live a happy and fulfilling life is because I have learned to be grateful for even what seems like the smallest of blessings. When you take the time to FEEL grateful and actually count your blessings, even the biggest of disappointments begin to feel small.

Recently, I was given a reason to be EXTRA thankful for easy access to hot water. Our water heater malfunctioned, and left us without hot water for nearly a week and a half. While this may not seem like the biggest tragedy (and, of course it’s not), it was definitely a large inconvenience that I had to learn to adapt to.

I make it a priority to go to the gym at least 4 times a week. When you’re breaking a sweat and getting dirty, it’s absolutely essential to shower. Every day that I went to the gym while our water heater was out, I had to pack a shower bag: clean clothes, shower flip flops, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, face wash, hair brush, detangler…the whole shebang. While this was undoubtedly a hassle to me, it made me feel grateful for even having access to the gym showers. Because no matter how many germs were infesting those shower walls, it still beats a watering hole in murky, muddy water that must be the solution elsewhere in the world. I showered happily and contently in those showers, thinking about the lesser alternatives that I might have if I lived in a different, less fortunate country. In fact, I began to see the bright side of my gym showers: a feeling of nostalgia for my college days, when bringing my shower caddy to the shared bathrooms was the norm.

I was also fortunate to be able to shower once or twice at my boyfriend’s house—thanks Ben! I even had multiple friends who offered to let me borrow their showers, if I preferred (thanks Noosh and Al!). My predicament was a reminder of the fortune and kindness that surrounds me when I need it.

Not only was it difficult to wash my body while the hot water was out, but it was also difficult to wash the dishes! My mom was able to boil water every morning to get the water hot enough to wash our dishes sanitarily. Inventive…I know. Lucky for us, we have large pots and fire that enabled us to boil the water so easily. While it was definitely an extra step in the process of cleaning the dishes, it was an extra step that we were ABLE to do.

While lacking hot water made life a little bit more difficult, I am actually grateful that this happened to us. It was a good reminder of how easily things can be taken away, and how lucky we are to be able to adapt. Losing the hot water made me prioritize something so simple…finding a place to take a shower. And yet, I have a newfound appreciation for the simple things in life. Because what seems simple to us, is not simple to everyone. And what is standard to us, is by no means standard to everyone. Be grateful for your hot water, today and every day. You never know when your tables may turn.

xx allie  

Update: 10 Months on Lexapro

allie

It’s been 10 months that I’ve been on Lexapro now, and let me tell ya, time flies when you’re happy.

Lexapro has undoubtedly changed my life. On only 5 mg, I am a different person. I am finally me. The effects of lexapro were, and continue to be, astounding for me. I see the world through rose colored glasses, and glean positivity from most all scenarios. Things that would normally bother me, still do, but I no longer ruminate on them and allow them to ruin my day. Small problems stay just that…small. Things no longer escalate into catastrophic emotional turmoil or a downward spiral with no end. Responsibilities no longer feel  daunting, overwhelming, or impossible. I welcome my responsibilities more readily, and do not feel angry or resentful to have them. I am more confident, as my self-esteem has greatly increased. Make no mistake…it is not inflated, but it is finally normal and exists! My irritability and anger has subsided, making my interactions with others much more pleasant than before. I am no longer guilty for carrying so much negativity around everywhere I went.

Lexapro is like a magic wand. It’s science, but it feels like magic. I didn’t doubt it’s ability to help me get through my depression, but I never imagined how drastically different I would feel in my day-to-day life. A good day before Lexapro, is a mediocre day on Lexapro. The bad is never as bad as the good is good. I still get sad. I still cry. I still care about all of the same things I used to. But now, things don’t seem as drastic. If something upsetting happens, it’s not the end of the world. I am more equipped to handle disappointment. I am more motivated to finish tasks I’m not excited to begin.

The positive effects of Lexapro last over time. I have been on 5mg from the very beginning, and have never felt a reason to increase my dose. My body does not get used to it, and then need more to get the same effects. The right dose is the right dose, period. (Or at least in my own experience).

Lasting side effects:

When you’re depressed, you often lose your appetite. Food isn’t appetizing, and it doesn’t taste nearly as satisfying either. As the lexapro kicks in and diminishes the depression, your appetite comes back. Food becomes enjoyable again. To me, this was a good thing. I had lost about 20 pounds while depressed (mostly because I was eating 1/3 to 1/2 of my normal portions). In the last 10 months, I’ve gained about 10 pounds back. I feel that I am at my healthy weight now. Do I think the Lexapro caused me to gain weight? No. I think getting my appetite back caused me eat regularly again. My body restored healthy weight back to my body. I’ve also been more motivated to work out lately, meaning muscle weight is most likely included. Lexapro didn’t cause me to gain weight. Lexapro restored my appetite.

Sleep: I have not had one night of bad sleep since I’ve started taking lexapro.  Sleep was never an issue for me even before taking the Lexapro, but it’s drastically improved nonetheless. I sleep very soundly throughout the night, and hardly ever stir. I struggled with crazy bad dreams up until lately, but they’ve slowly settled down and become less frequent. Night sweats were also relatively frequent after starting the Lexapro, but those too have become less frequent with time.

That’s about it. Lexapro has provided me with so many amazing benefits, and next to no long-term side effects. If you are struggling with depression, and have been thinking about trying an antidepressant, I would highly recommend trying Lexapro. One of the best parts about this pill is that it’s also an anti-anxiety pill. My anxiety has decreased substantially, and no longer gets in the way of my life. I am now living without any unnecessary or crippling constraints. Lexapro has given me the freedom to live my life happily.

xx allie

 

Sunday Brunch…Why You Should.

breakfy

Ahhh Sunday. The first day of a new week. What better way to start off a week than to BRUNCH?

Here’s Why:

 Sleeping In

It’s Sunday…and if you’re like most, then you don’t have work today. It’s a relaxed day, where you have little to no responsibility. Take this opportunity to sleep in and catch up on the much needed zzzz’s that you’ve been missing throughout the week. The best part about Sunday brunch is that you don’t have to even set your alarm! Sleep in until noon if you wish, brunch usually lasts until at least 2pm anyways!

Different Menu

If you’ve ever brunched before, then you’ve probably noticed that brunch menus are usually separate from the typical breakfast menu. Specials, specials, specials galore! If you’re feeling something sweet, then go for the sugary plates: waffles, pancakes, French toast, etc. If you’d prefer to just skip the breakfast grub, then go straight for the burger! Basically, there’s something for everyone. Not to mention mimosas. Don’t mind if you do.

Value Meal

Alright let’s get real. We all know that brunch plates cost slightly more than the average breakfast plate. But have you ever stopped to consider why? At second glance, brunches are actually Value Meals disguised as trendy, high-end plates. You have now saved yourself from having to go out and buy your breakfast AND your lunch. Brunch covers you for two meals. Who doesn’t love a shortcut?

Cuteness

Most breakfast places are truly adorable. Many of them offer outdoor seating on cutely decorated patios. It’s extremely relaxing to sip on your coffee or latte outside underneath the sun and beside blooming flowers. This experience gives rise to the lyrics, “easy like a Sunday morning”.

In the Name of Brunch

Brunch is becoming such a ‘thing’ that you can’t go to any department store without finding “brunch” themed apparel. You might think, ‘I’ll barely ever wear a brunch shirt, since I only have the opportunity to wear it once per week’. On the contrary my dear, a better way to think of it is, ‘I’ll wear it at least once a week! Totally worth it.’ Purchase baseball caps, tank tops, backpacks, etc. Brunch seems like reason enough to dress up to me!

Catch Up

I said “catch up” not “ketchup”! Use brunch as the perfect opportunity to catch up with a friend or family member. Have a birthday to celebrate? Mother’s day? Take them to Brunch! Ain’t nobody gonna be disappointed about that.

Brunch is my motivation to get through the work week. Always remember…work hard, brunch harder. 

xx allie

Favorite Spring Products

Spring is an exciting time of year. It is the transition from the chilly winter months, to the ever-so-appreciated Summer days we all know, love, and look forward to. Below I’ve outlined a few of my favorite springtime products. I hope you love them as much as I do!

Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs, and Rosewater: Spritz this facial spray on after washing your face or applying your makeup for a refreshing and moisturizing cover. The smell of this is amazing—smells exactly like rose petals! Spray throughout the day to keep your skin hydrated during the dry allergy season! For only $7 a bottle at Urban Outfitters, you really can’t go wrong.

face spray.jpg

Coconut Water Mist Leave-In Treatment: Love this leave-in spray! Smells like fresh coconuts, and makes brushing through your tangled hair a breeze. I think I got this from Target, for less than $15. Perfect springtime hair essential.

coconut leave in

Argan and Vitamin E Facial Oil: Apply one to two drops to your beauty blender before applying foundation. It helps to eliminate any facial scarring and also moisturize your skin. It’s a great anti-aging secret as well. These can sell for upwards of $50…but I got mine for literally $5 at TJ Maxx. You can also order online.

argan

Too Faced Sweet Peach Palette: Normally I only use about 30-40% of any given palette…but I seriously love every color in this one. These tones are perfect for the spring & summer: golds, peaches, browns, greens, and purples. Easily go for a natural daytime look, or spice it up for an evening smoky eye. What makes this product even better? The shadows SMELL like peaches! Hands down one of my best purchases this year–$50 from Sephora.

eyeshadow

Origins Out of Trouble 10 Minute Mask: If you know me at all, then you know that I’m a huge fan of origins skin products. After trying out quite a number of their skincare items, I always come back to this particular mask. Why, you ask? This mask dries nicely on my skin, and washes off leaving a soft clean feel. It seems to be medicated, so is perfect for drying out breakouts as they begin appear. I also really like Origins active charcoal mask, but this one is a serious winner. $26 from Sephora, Nordstrom, Macys, or any major department store. Smaller versions are also available for less $$$.mask.jpg

Hair, Skin, and Nail Gummies: You’ve probably heard of these, as they’ve been getting quite popular. These things are no joke. I can honestly tell that my hair grows faster, and my nails are getting stronger. After getting a number of gel manicures in a row, my nails were becoming thin and sensitive. I stopped getting the manicures, but still needed strengthening. These vitamins did the trick in just a few weeks. I definitely recommend these gummy vitamins. Purchase them from Target, CVS, Amazon, etc.

gummies

Spring/Summer Handbag: Now that it’s the warm season, it’s time to store your winter bags and transfer to a spring/summer one. I chose this one because the beige/white color combo will go with all other colors, making it the perfect everyday bag. The medium size is perfect for all of the necessities: wallet, sunglasses, lip glosses, on-the-go makeup products, hand lotion, etc. This Kate Spade bag retails for $360, but I got it from the outlets for $125. Not a bad price for a good quality, everyday bag!

kate spade.jpg

If you use awesome spring products that you’d like to share, please comment on this post!

xx allie

The Secret to Happiness

happiness

There is one thing that we all have in common. We all just want to be happy. Some people spend their entire life trying to discover what brings it about. Some people travel the whole world seeking to fill an emptiness in their spirit, and failing to ever do so. Some people work 70+ hours a week, trying to earn enough money to bring about a sense of ecstasy and elation. But what if I told you that happiness is easier to find than you think?

I think I’ve found it.

You may find that this answer is unsatisfactory. You may respond by saying, “Are you kidding Allie? That’s it?”. And I’m here to reply, “Yes…it’s that simple”.

Happiness is directly a result of allowing yourself to feel grateful.

Yesterday I visited the pharmacy to pick up my acid reflux prescription. As I was fishing out my credit card to pay for my $1.50 pills (thank you insurance), I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the low cost of my daily pills. I smiled to the clerk who was helping me and made a remark like, “A buck fifty? I guess I can do that”. She then proceeded to tell me that earlier that day she had witnessed an elderly man pay $470 for his Alzheimer’s medication, which he needed monthly. I took a moment to think about that poor man. Not only is he suffering from a debilitating and horrific disease, but he is also forced to continue paying for the ability to simply function in his day-to-day life. In that moment of compassion, I felt selfish to even feel grateful for my situation in comparison. I was lucky to be young and healthy. I was lucky to have good coverage by my insurance. Heck, I was even lucky to have access to the medication I need. The moral of this story is that we are lucky. Luckier than we may think sometimes. Luckier than we might even deserve in some cases.

When you really take the time each day to allow yourself to be grateful, happiness floods in. I am thankful every night for the opportunity to sleep in my warm, safe, and clean bed. I realize that what I have today, may not be what I have tomorrow. Each day I allow myself to feel grateful all over again. Feeling grateful for even the smallest of things makes the largest difference. Noticing the world around us, and mindfully taking the time to acknowledge it is something that a lot of people miss. Stop and smell the flowers, feel the sunrays warm upon your skin, gaze up at the stars in the sky, and watch the ants carrying each other on their backs. Be mindful. Be gracious. Be happy.

xx allie

The Upside to a Debilitating Headache.

headache_0

For the last 4 days, I have had a moderately bad headache that will not let up. From the moment I wake up, to the moment I go to bed, I am plagued with a pain in the middle of my forehead that persists no matter what attempts I make. Thinking it was allergies at first, I tried Claritin-D. I also tried the homeopathic route and took some natural sinus issue pills. Neither worked to remedy the pain. Then I decided to give Tylenol a chance, again to no avail. And although Excedrin reduces the intensity of the pain, it still lingers in the background…trying hard to emerge from the smothering of the pill. Although I’ve been struggling to bear the ongoing discomfort brought about by this migraine (for lack of a better term), I have grown to appreciate the days where I feel good, with a new level of gratitude.

When you’re feeling good, you often don’t stop to think about the alternative. You don’t stop to think, “Wow how much different would I feel right now if I had been suffering from a headache for the last 4 days?”. You don’t stop to think how lucky you are, to not feel the need for ancillary pain medication. You don’t consider the blessing that’s been bestowed upon you, to be able to think clearly and effortlessly, without a daunting and miserable head bringing you down and distracting your focus.

Obviously this goes for just about any impediment. We don’t think about how lucky we are to be able to walk easily, until we break our leg. We don’t think about how easy it is to see long distance, until we start to need glasses. We don’t think about how lucky we are to be able to hear, until we meet someone who is deaf.  

I am challenging myself, and any readers, to take time every day to be mindfully grateful for something that seems inherent. Because truth be told, it’s not inherent. Just as easily as it was to be blessed, it can be just as easy to lose. We are not entitled to anything. We are all living in the same world, with all of the same vulnerabilities. Take time to notice the lucky things. Take time to revel in feeling good.

xx allie

Must Love Peanut Butter

How To: Homemade PB Oat Snack Bars

 pb bars   

As a snack, I love to eat nutri grain or protein bars with nuts, oats, or chocolate to satisfy my cravings, sustain my appetite, and provide me with some energy (typically in the afternoon). I enjoy Lara Bars, Nature Valley Bars, Kind Bars, Fiber One bars, and more. Recently, however, I’ve been starting to get tired of my go-to choices. None of them sound particularly appealing, so I’ve set out to my make own snack bar!

Only one problem: admittedly, I’m not the best chef. That’s why I tend to look for recipes with few and simple ingredients. I came upon one recipe that seemed simple enough for even ME to succeed at.

Here’s what you need (Makes 10 Snack Bars):

1 ½ Cups of Oats

1/3 Cup of Crunchy or Smooth Natural Salted Peanut Butter

2 Tablespoons of Chia Seeds

2 Tablespoons of Honey or Agave

1/3 Cup of Chocolate chips

1 egg

Here’s what to do:

Preheat the oven to 350.

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. You may need to heat up the peanut butter in order to mix it properly (Be careful not to get it too hot, as it will melt the chocolate chips).

Place the mixture in a greased pan, and pop in the oven for 10-12 minutes!

Cool, cut, and enjoy!

Note: I store my extra bars in the refrigerator to keep them cool and fresh.

I hope you enjoy this simple and delicious treat. If you have any easy recipes to share, please comment on this post!

xx allie

Acai Bowl–How To!

acai

 

If you’ve ever had the opportunity to try an acai bowl, then I’m sure you understand their allure.

Every week I venture out to a little local coffee shop to purchase one of these delectable treats, often spending upwards of $8. And while that’s not too bad of a price to pay for a superfruit meal or filling snack, I’ve found a cheaper way to satisfy my craving.

Thanks to the all-fabulous Trader Joe’s stores, you can now purchase unsweetened organic acai puree packets for only $4.50. They come 4 packets per bag, and are separately portioned out to be just the right amount for a smoothie or bowl.

So now here’s what I do to make the perfect bowl:

Blend 1 half-thawed acai packet w/ a handful of frozen mixed berries, a smaller handful of frozen mango chunks, half of a banana, and a splash of almond milk.

Voila! You’ve made the perfect, thick n’ creamy base.

Now for the toppings:

Drizzle of peanut butter, handful of granola, the remaining half of the banana, a pinch of coconut, and a drizzle of honey or agave.

DE-LIC-IOUS. And literally all of these ingredients can be purchased at Trader Joe’s…your one-stop shop.

Of course, you are totally encouraged to mix and match ingredients for a different flavor that satisfies your own unique cravings. I also recommend chocolate chips, yogurt covered raisins, chia seeds, almond butter, goji berries, blueberries…and the list goes on!

While I normally spend $8 on a bowl… I would venture to say that my homemade bowls don’t cost more than $3 apiece.

Do you have a great Acai recipe idea? Feel free to share by commenting on this post!

xx allie

 

Adulting 101: Tips n’ Tricks to Being a Kick-Ass Adult

  1. adulting-logo1.jpg

    Get Enough Sleep: So you used to go to bed at 2am? Those days are over! Now more than ever your body needs the proper amount of sleep, so that you can function at the optimum level each day. If you wake up early to get to work on time, then consider making a bedtime for yourself around 10:30 or 11 pm. The next day your head will be clear, and your focus will be sharp.

  2. Read: You’re not in school anymore, and no one’s forcing you. However, finding a good book and reading it over the course of time is more rewarding than you might realize. Finishing a few books a month helps to improve your vocabulary, and gives you a feeling of accomplishment. Reading is good for a happy soul.
  3. COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE: You never used to need coffee, but now it is essential. Waking up at 6:30am might never be easy, but it’s definitely easier with the help of some java. Enough said.
  4. Self-Care Routines: There are a number of things that you should get in the habit of doing as you get older.
  • For one, it’s important to take supplements. Some people take a multivitamin, while others take select vitamins for specific purposes. I’ve recently begun to take biotin gummies, which are meant to improve the health of hair, skin, and nails. Other people take fish oil pills, Vitamin C, etc.
  • Get in the habit of flossing! If you don’t already…it’s not too late! Flossing REALLY helps to prevent cavities and decay, and also preserve the health of your gums. It feels good to give your mouth an in-depth cleaning every night before bed.
  • Skin Care: My absolute FAVE. I have so many masks, lotions, exfoliates, hydrators, creams, etc. I look forward to giving my skin the attention it deserves every morning and night. There is NOTHING better than taking off your makeup at the end of the day, and allowing your pores to breathe once again. Seriously…if you don’t take off your makeup before bed, then you have NO RIGHT to complain about breakouts. I can’t stress enough just how important your skin routine is. Prevent aging, blemishes, redness, and more with a relaxing and refreshing wash.
  1. Purchase a Planner (and then actually use it!): I would be a mess without my daily planner. I keep track of appointments, friend get-togethers, workout days, etc. with my nifty little book. Some people choose to schedule events in their phone, but I just love handwriting my schedule. Do whatever works for you…but make sure to stay organized and on track!
  2. Fitness: Let’s face it—you are busy as can be. But it’s SUPER important to make time for a workout a few days per week. It’s too easy to cut out your gym time as soon as life gets hectic. However, the gym can be a great stress reliever. It helps you to clear your mind, and break a sweat! Staying active is important, even if it simply means going for a 20-30 minute walk. Go hiking, play tennis, swim…but whatever you do, try to have fun!
  3. Maintain Important Relationships: Now that you likely don’t run into people you care about on an everyday basis, it is important to maintain regular contact with your close friends and family members. Plan a time for a phone call with out-of-reach friends, or schedule a lunch date with someone close by. Whatever you do, try not to lose touch with the ones that matter. It takes effort!
  4. Start a Savings: If you receive a paycheck regularly, allocate a portion of it to your savings each pay period. Building wealth at an early age will help you to achieve your financial goals in a timely manner.

These 8 life hacks have been vital for me in succeeding as a busy adult. While they work for me, they might not necessarily work for you. Figure out what it is that will spur your day-to-day success and happiness. Then go for it.

xx allie