Galentine’s Day 2022!

Hi friends!!

There are so many exciting things in the works this year to share!! I hope to ramp this blog up a lot to detail them all. Of course I always love to share my passion for clean beauty, but there’s more! I’ve also applied to graduate school! Are you shocked?! I think I have shocked myself by finding something I am actually interested in for a career…now if we can just help fund this little venture…

If you are in the market for changing up your beauty routine or just simply want a little treat yourself for Valentine’s Day gift then look no further. Perhaps you’ve never tried Beautycounter before and just wonder what the products are all about?? Enter the Galentine’s Day Spa packet!!

I’ll be packaging three of our best sellers:

So, Valentine’s weekend you can treat yourself with a face mask (honestly, you can easily get two uses out of this sample), followed by the resurfacing peel overnight, and then wake up to glowing skin with the Vitamin C serum! These guys are our best sellers for a reason! The charcoal mask and overnight peel work gloriously together to purify and clear up skin. You will not be disappointed! I promise…these products have an annoying cult following for a reason!

If you’d like to be dropped a packet fill out the form below:

The best medicine…

A few years past my diagnosis and surgery I have finally begun to process a lot about my cancer and ensuing treatment. Make no mistake about it, rectal cancer treatment is awkward and weird (for me at least it was, but I don’t let that shame own me anymore).

There are quite a few instances of things that stick out in my head: the rectal examinations from different doctors (so many), rectal contrast, having doctors constantly coming in the room to ask if you can roll over so they can look at my butt and ‘flap’ (this is what they called the reconstructed part of my vagina). Oy vey, I do not miss the hospital!

Rectal cancer is not funny. At all. But I would be remiss if I did not think back to some moments during my journey and laugh.

…coming out of the bathroom on one of those first visits to MD Anderson and exclaiming to my husband and mom “I pooped!” They both cheered! At first we thought a stent might have to be put in so I could continue to pass stool…that never happened…

…My surgeon, Dr. You at MD Anderson, reminding us this was going to be a marathon not a sprint, to which my husband replied we really don’t even like walking out to check the mail…

…the time after surgery when I commented I literally never had a reason to get up with my ostomy AND catheter both in. My husband immediately remarked how wonderful this sounded and confided he was jealous!

The truth is, medical providers giving you this treatment have done this so many times. It’s my hope in sharing this that we realize the worst things that happen to us, we can get through. We can endure. Often times in the moment with tears and anxiety and afterwards with tears of relief and laughter. Not always. But sometimes.

It was a few days after surgery and my team had finally removed my catheter. I was expected to pee a certain amount to signal my bladder was working. Initially, I thought nothing of this. However, as the day ticked on, the nurse came back in and casually mentioned catheterization if I couldn’t pass a certain amount of urine.

WHAT?? No.

That’s definitely going to hurt. I started drinking water and began to slowly realize that…my bladder was not working…I couldn’t really feel any sensation of having to pee. A lot was going on post surgery, so it took a while for this to dawn on me. As the hours wore on, I became increasingly anxious of having to have the catheter put back in. I know it might seem silly, but all these little things I viewed as set backs and it was hard not to spiral. I dedicated a lot of time sitting in that bathroom with various audios of rivers and streams playing. I willed it. I meditated it. I remember at one point David followed me into the bathroom and told me to calm down. I remember turning back around and exclaiming, “Don’t tell me to calm down, its not YOUR body!”.

At some point I realized my body was not doing this naturally and paged the nurse. An ultrasound was done on my bladder, which confirmed lots of pee. My bladder wasn’t working. The nurse indicated sometimes the bladder took longer to wake up from surgery and they would just catheterize me to give me some relief and give my bladder more time to wake up. Don’t worry, in the small time frame here I did lots of google searching. No message board was left untouched. The nurse asked if she could bring another female nurse in to help. Sure I thought, invite the whole floor please.

The nurses came back to the room and I entered full blown panic mode. It was going to hurt and I knew it. I knew it. I had my legs spread, my mother holding my hand on one side of me and my husband holding my hand on the other side of me.

“Do you mind if we tilt your legs up some? It will let us see what we’re doing better…”…..Sure I thought…perfect….my legs are now spread, tilted upwards somewhat with my mother holding my hand on one side and my husband on the other. As I prepare for mutilation, I suddenly hear they are commenting it’s working. The bladder is draining.

“Oh, I didn’t even feel anything,” I said relaxing my death grip.

“Well, then that means we did it right,” the nurse laughed back.

Of course I was embarrassed for making such a scene about it but the nurses were very kind and understood. Edit to add I always had good nurses. A lot of them were young and my age it seemed. I remember one writing me a special note on my board before she got off her shift when we didn’t see each other.

None of it was done gracefully or bravely. It was done messy through anxious tears and anger. Honestly, I sometimes still can’t even believe it happened to me. It’s been a lot to grapple with, the road taking that twist you never expect. I guess it’s the one thing we can come to expect. It will toughen you up for sure, but hopefully you can find some laughs along the way.

Much love.

Favorite Cleaner Hair Hacks!

In the spirit of sharing more clean hacks this year, I thought I’d share my favorite go-to hair products now! Cleaning up my products has been a journey and I’m certainly not perfect. I still use some that probably aren’t the cleanest but I’ve definitely cleaned up my hair act! I use products sparingly these days.

I dyed my hair for years going from blonde to black. Honestly, I probably should make a personal amends to my mothers bathroom cabinets for all the hair dye I inflicted upon them! Shortly before I was diagnosed with cancer, I decided I was over dying my hair.

It was so much effort, so much money and so much time when my time now is extremely limited after kids! I just couldn’t stand sitting in that chair! So. I chopped it all off! I chopped off all the dye left in my hair and started off with fresh virgin hair. I really do have fun with my hair and have embraced a lot of styles.

Here are my go-to’s in the hair department when it comes to cleaner products!

Primally Pure dry shampoo – clean, crisp and it works great! They have a version for dark & light hair. I guesstimate I wash my hair approximately once or twice a week. (Use code ‘wonderfully10’ to save 10% on your order!)

Less heat! I know we’ve all heard less heat is better but let me introduce you to The Sway. Yes, you need one now and if you have long hair, it is fabulous! I will add my hair is naturally on the thin and wavy side and does not typcially hold curl well. I have heard fabulous reviews on this working for thick hair too! I use this on both damp and dry hair. When I’m sleeping and I also wear this bad boy out because hello…it’s cute!

The sway in action

Beautycounter Shampoo and Conditioner – Ok I have to admit that hair is not my strong suit and I typically use just whatever cleaner drugstore shampoo I can find…typically Acure brand. Recently, Beautycounter had these full size on sale for $13 so you know I had to scoop them up! My hair has never been so soft! Honestly, I only wash my hair once to twice a week so it might not hurt to splurge a little more on my shampoo. The really fun thing about this is that Beautycounter has recently relaunched their entire body care line to include refillable and recyclable containers! They are aluminum which are easier to reycyle than regular plastic. The fillable part means you recycle your body container, keep the pump and reorder just a new can of product! Beauty should be good for you and the planet! You can check out the entire newly relaunched body line, including shampoo and conditioner, HERE!


I am not much for styling products at all, the only one I have reached for lately is the Moroccanoil Dry Texture Spray, this works amazing actually, I am going to upgrade to the full size for sure. It adds both texture and volume! Another great dry shampoo pick is this R+Co dry shampoo paste…if your hair is on the shorter side this is so great to add volume and texture! I use about a pea-sized amount and just rub into scalp.

What cleaner hair care products are you embracing these days??

That App Life

I know we all can end up with random apps on our phones we no longer use…right?… RIGHT?

I thought I’d list a few I actually use on a regular basis that I deem useful so here we go:

  • GetSorted – This is a great app to tidy up your photo library. I end up with thousands of photos on my phone so this app sets small goals for going through photos by date and month and deleting/saving what you want! It’s all about small goals and fun rewards along the way!

  • Rakuten – If you are spending money online and aren’t using this you are crazy! Especially around the holidays! You just pull up the app, see all the stores that offer cashback and then shop through that link. You can even link to your cards so it automatcailly credits you cash back when you shop in person. You can sign up HERE. It’s worth it! *Disclaimer that I do get some free cash if you sign up with my link, and so do YOU!

  • Dark Sky – I heard about this app from a podcast I listen to and have been using it since! This is apparently a super accurate weather app people in Hollywood use to track the weather for shooting movies (so they say). Anyways, its easy, it always pulls up to my city and shows an hourly breakdown of temp/rain chance so it’s convenient. Especailly in Florida where rain can come on quite quickly! Or when I spend two hours trying to decide if I should water my plants or not.

  • Dunkin DonutsDo not laugh! You need this if you’re a DD fan. There is one by my house and I have gotten quite a few free coffees earned by using this app! It’s super easy to order ahead and they often run deals for double points and other specials for app users only!

  • ABC Mouse – We subscribe to ABC Mouse and honestly, I do feel like it’s worth it. They have both preschool and kindergarten level for each of my kids. My 3yo doesn’t play it much, but my 6yo does! He enjoys the matching games, mazes, taking care of the pets etc. Worth It. He can’t really work a mouse but honestly…aren’t those probably going to be extinct by the time he grows up? Everything will be touch screen. He mostly plays this on the ipad and it’s way better than anything you’ll find on youtube kids!

What other apps are you liking these days? Hard to keep up with the constant new ones coming out. I’m always deleting unused apps from my phone! Time for a clean-up…

Top 3!

Standouts from each skincare line

Beautycounter has been running some killer deals lately in the skincare department! In honor of our upcoming flash sales all this week, I thought I’d detail my TOP 3 products from each skincare line at Beautycounter.

Skincare can definitely be a cocktail of different lines and products so it might take some time to nail down what works for you. Honestly, part of the fun of skincare for me is trying new things!!

Here are my TOP THREE from each line we carry:

Countercontrol is our line for acne or blemish-prone skin. This line is all about clearing up the skin without irritation while balancing skin. If you’re looking for the clean equivalent of the Clean & Clear Pore Cleanser, look no further! The Countercontrol Cleanser is where it’s at! This is an amazing, lightweight, exfoliating cleanser that is great for everyday use in the morning & at night. It has a great lather and just leaves my skin feeling fresh! I was slow to try this line because I thought I didn’t have oily skin but this has been a great addition to my routine every morning! It’s helped to clear up some small under the skin bumps I didn’t even think were an issue. Definitely a standout for me!

Countermatch is our line for more normal to combination skin that’s all about long-lasting (but lightweight) moisture and an everyday glow. Can’t argue with that! This Countermatch Overnight Recovery Cream is super rich and will leave your skin feeling ultra moisturized. You can mix this with our No. 1, 2 or 3 oil for even more hydration at night! Sometimes those nighttime cocktails are the best! I think we often underestimate how thirsty our skin is and this line is great at providing that rich moisture without feeling greasy! This has definitely been a constant in my routine ever since I got it a year ago. I have reordered it a few times!

Countertime is our anti-aging line made safer with the use of plant-derived Retinatural Complex. No more worrying about going out in the sun or harsh ingredients. This Countertime Mineral Boost Hydrating Essence is what you would use as your toner step. It’s honestly like botox in a bottle! (Ok, full disclosure, I’ve never had botox) BUT it does work to tighten skin, minimize pores, and prep the skin for the next step! It’s a different feeling product to apply than your usual toner but you can definitely feel a difference in your skin after applying! A small amount in your hand and press into skin…guarantee if you add this to your rotation it will quickly become your favorite! My bottle of this has lasted me a ridiculously long time as well, a little goes a long way!

What products have you been curious to try? You can take a skincare quiz here to find the line that’s right for you OR let me curate your cart for you!

Stay hydrated!

xoxo

Adventures in a Gallery Wall!

I did it! Me! This ultimately isn’t what I had in mind and maybe isn’t finished really? But that’s not the point. It looks good! THAT’S the point! The wall is an odd slope shape and I’m not sure how to treat that extra space? Maybe this gallery wall will grow but for now here she is, I’m proud of her!

gallery wall in kitchen/dining area

Created with a few simple things:

  • Gold frames that come in a pack together in variety of sizes (I bought two)
  • picture hanging set, hammer, nails
  • tape to hold the photo frames in place*
  • Gather your favorite art – from your children, local artist, make it yourself, create your own theme, this is the fun part! My own gallery includes art drawn and painted by my children and neices, some purchased from a local artist in my hometown (https://www.pressreliefprints.com/ – shout out!), some photos I took of my own garden and some art taken from a coffee table book I own that can be found here

First of all, don’t be intimidated because the wall can always be repaired; however, we are adults so planning is nice! I outlined all my frames to get an idea of where I wanted them placed.

Once I felt more comfortable with where they were to be placed, I hammared away, making sure each was level in between.

*If you have children you will find any frames you have on the wall rattle with doors being slammed. I secured the photos to the wall with this heavy duty wall tape, it works great and assures the photos don’t move!

I’m sure the artwork will rotate here and there. My additional ideas are to add some type of wall decal (geometic? I don’t want it to took too elementary) up in the corners where there is extra space. Or perhaps some larger sign with farmhouse vibe and/or saying above the gallery.

Give me all your suggesitons, what do you think?

Summer Faves

So to kick off July I’m going to share my current summer favorites as of this very moment

Beauty

Truth be told I have always mixed & matched my Beautycounter products and this is the first time I am using a complete regime! It is so luxurious and I honestly have a sacred nighttime routine I look forward to every night. This Countermatch line is gentle enough to use twice a day + is super hydrating but non-greasy. I know. The trifecta. It doesn’t really have much of a smell to me, which I like for my body products!

Primally Pure is another great clean brand I have been loving! Their dry shampoo specifically is great at absorbing + creating volume.

The Palo Santo Aromatherapy Mist is ahhhhmazing as well!!

Use code WONDERFULLY10 for 10% off your order!

SPF

My go to favorites for sun protection lately are:

  • Mineral face sunscreen – super lightweight, tube lasts me all summer for my face, no white residue
  • Badger Sunscreen is great – this comes in a pack with a face tube which is great for little faces – love that its unscented as well!
  • This long sleeved rashguard swimsuit was a great Amazon find and is super cute

Wellness

I have been consistently lifting weights now for going on six months! Go me! Here are a few favorites I have loved the past few months while on that journey:

  • These high-waisted leggings are an ostomate’s best friend and keep everything held in – I own them in multiple colors and patterns
  • These amazing grass energy tablets are great to drop into a bottle of water in the morning, gives me a super quick energy boost for my morning workout
  • Breakaway Matcha is another great alternative to coffee I have been loving, they have a cold brew blend. I was gifted it for Christmas and have been enjoying it in the afternoons for sure

Remember guys, we can take our power back by making the next right choice for our physical + mental health! Stay Well!

Rectal Cancer Symptoms

March is colorectal cancer awareness month and today I wanted to dedicate to symptoms. Specifically, rectal cancer symptoms. Because I did have colorectal cancer but my cancer was in the rectum, not my colon. I know this because when I was first diagnosed I remember asking, “So, this is colon cancer?” because that sounded way better than declaring to everyone I had rectal cancer. It was not in my colon, which my surgeon ever so eloquently and dryly explained to me.

If you look up ‘rectal cancer symptoms’ you will find a list to include:

  • A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation or more-frequent bowel movements
  • Dark maroon or bright red blood in stool
  • Narrow stool
  • A feeling that your bowel doesn’t empty completely
  • Abdominal pain
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Weakness or fatigue

In fact, colon cancer and rectal cancer treatment can be quite different because the rectum is such a small organ that sits barely removed from other important organs, so this often makes surgery quite difficult. It has been my experience that colon cancer patients seem to have surgery first to remove the tumor, while rectal cancer patients usually undergo treatment first in hopes of shrinking the tumor before going in to remove it. I actually wrote a post about a year about that detailed all my symptoms.

Being diagnosed young had me overlooking all kinds of symptoms just because I never knew. I didn’t know anyone with colorectal cancer (close to me). It was a distant thought in my head. I had heard of colorectal cancer before, isn’t the main symptom blood in stool?? Sure, I knew something was happening but I was also moving across the country, pregnant and postpartum so figuring it out took me a little longer.

The symptoms I experienced in varying degrees were:

  1. Urgency/Constipation – This is one of the symptoms that sticks out the most for me because I definitely remember it to the year prior to diagnosis.  I know it seems odd to have these two sensations together.  Know how when you’re pregnant you have to get up and pee multiple times a night? Well, I had that except it was to poop. I would frequently get up at night and feel urgency to go and then wouldn’t be able to empty my bowels all the way.  
  2. Change in Stool  – Somewhere along the way (I can’t exactly recall) I did notice my stools begin to change shape. They were longer and thinner.  But HELLO, I was constipated, doesn’t that make sense? It’s not like my stools morphed into some seriously weird stuff, they were just a little…different. The change wasn’t alarming to me, I just chalked it up to constipation.  
  3. Weight Loss – I did steadily lose weight but I was also postpartum and breast feeding so the weight was not an alarming symptom at that time in my life. It was also very slow. Slow but steady.
  4. Anemia – In December 2017 I went to a new OB in Florida when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter.  Took them about 1-2 months to call me back and tell me my routine bloodwork showed I was very anemic.  If I recall correctly, my hemoglobin level was at an eight or six, which is extremely low.  Oh, I don’t eat meat I told them! I was put on an iron supplement and my iron levels came up to normal and stayed that way throughout pregnancy.
  5. General Change in Bathroom Habits – I don’t really know how to categorize this one so we’ll leave it at this.  If I really think back I can trace to beginning to notice something being different summer 2017. I felt like I was beginning to deal with more gas, urgency , something was just different. During this time I was also smack in the middle of serious postpartum depression and drinking heavily so I also chalked these changes up to lifestyle at the time.  (Honestly, I could write a book about this period in my life, its very much a hard thing for me to talk about because I am ashamed of it).

In a nutshell, those are the symptoms I can recall experiencing prior to diagnosis. I didn’t realize how serious they were until I was smack dab in the middle of a cancer diagnosis. I had never read anything about colorectal cancer symptoms or known anyone in my life close to me who talked about it. So here I am, talking about it. It happened to me. You are never too young!

Quick, Kid Approved Smoothies

Happy Wednesday! I am a morning person through and through, often rolling out of bed between 4:30-5:00 a.m. Now, that’s not to say that I don’t have my mornings where my feet drag and I miss my alarm, I most certainly do! I find now; however, that often times my body wakes on it’s own internal alarm clock and I often find myself glancing at the clock and rolling out of bed before my alarm even goes off. I remember my father being like this as well.

In the spirit of talking about mornings, I want to share my three go-to smoothie recipes to grab in the morning. With the exception of the coffee one, my kids will drink these and they are packed with real food.

Coffee Time

This smoothie is one of my favorites and probably my most made recipe.

  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder (Orgain organic chocolate protein powder & Shakeology are my favorite)
  • 1 cup dairy free milk (I often use oat milk or almond milk)
  • 1 tablespoon powdered peanut butter (or the real thing, whatever is on hand)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • handful of ice cubes
  • top with coconut whipped cream

Ultimate Green Goddess Smoothie

  • 1 cup dairy free milk or water
  • hanful of spinach
  • 1-1.5 frozen bananas
  • 1 cup of frozen pineapple
  • handful of ice

Orange Dream Smoothie

  • 4 – 6 cutie oranges
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • splash of milk (if desired)
  • handful of ice

Lagniappe

Extras I always have on hand to add to smoothies are:

  • ground flaxseed
  • hemp hearts
  • chia seeds

Happy Blending!!

5 Tips to Reduce Your Toxic Load

Long before cancer creeped it’s way into my life (well, long before I knew it was growing inside me) I had already begun to make lifestyle changes to help to reduce my toxic load. At the time, I didn’t realize this is exactly what I was doing, I just knew I had been becoming more aware of how toxic so many things in my environment were. The processed foods, meat industry, personal care products, even baby food has been found to have high levels of arsenic! “Toxic load” refers to the accumulation of chemicals and toxins in our body that are ingested or absorbed.

I think it’s also important to point out that we are far from perfect as a family on this. No one can practice perfection in this area, it’s too hard! We make safer swaps where we can all while remembering we are human trying our best to navigate this. My kids nutrition is not perfect and I’m sure there will always be areas to clean up. Progress over perfection my friends!

Here are five ways I help to reduce our chemical exposures in our family

  1. Eat vegetarian whenever possible & buy organic fruits and vegetables

    This one is kind of a no-brainer as we’ve all heard it a hundred times. I get it, buying all organic everything isn’t financially possible and that’s when you stick to buying organic items that are on the dirty dozen list. Buy organic when you can and be sure to always thoroughly wash produce (we use a 3:1 water/vinegar solution). In addition, I always lean towards recipes that are vegetarian. Eating vegetarian is cheaper, better for the planet, your health etc. My favorite cookbooks that got me into plant based eating are The Happy Herbivore and Everyday Detox

2. Transition personal care and makeup products to safer alternatives

Our skin is our largest organ and believe it or not, we are absorbing all the products we slather onto our skin and face. I have been using Beautycounter for over a year now for my skincare and makeup products. Beautycounter delivers high performing personal care products while banning a plethora of ingredients. In addition, they are also a B Corp, meeting the highest standards of social and environmental performance. I will also link a great article by one of my favorite beauty bloggers, This Organic Girl, that goes over cleaner beauty options available at Target. Cleaner, safer options are out there and I hope to continue to share all those things I come across on this platform!

3. Never wash plastsic in the dishwasher – switch over to glass storage containers instead of plastic tupperware

Did you know that back in 2018 the American Pediatric Association stated to, “avoid microwaving food or beverages (including infant formula and pumped human milk) in plastic, if possible, don’t put plastics in the dishwasher, and use containers made from alternative materials like glass or stainless steel whenever possible.”

That means that all those cute plastic kid plates, cups, snack containers you have should never be going in the dishwasher. Ever. Even if plastic is labeled ‘dishwasher safe’, it is not. On a personal note, we do still have and use plastic kid plates and cups. I wash them by hand and yes, it is a pain in the butt. We have some stainless steel kids cups we use as well. Will slowly transition over to stainless steel but it’s a process.

4. Take care of your gut

This perhaps seems like a random one but I have never been more aware of how my own gut functions since getting my permanent colostomy. Your bowels are how your body expels waste and toxins from your own body. It’s imperative to keep them working regularly and treat them well. This means drinking a lot of water (I personally aim for a gallon a day) and basically not killing yourself with crap food. I don’t think I need to go into this further. Another huge component of this is getting adequate exercise so your gut can actually process and absorb what’s needed and expel what’s not.

5. Switch to a natural laundry detergent

After trying quite a few more natural laundry detergents I have finally found one that is unscented, comes in small recyclable packaging and actually works on kid stains and sweaty clothes, Earth Breeze laundry sheets! You can get $10 OFF your first order here. This company is great, focusing on zero waste products that actually work. Ditch the scents and opt for unscented as well. I practice this in most products, when there is an unscented version, I will grab that. The less synthetic fragrances, the better.

Small and steady action cleaning up our toxic load can go a long way in improving the health of our families! What are some of the ways your practice this in your home?