Pup Mom Crate Review

I don’t know about you, but I myself love an excellent subscription box! I think it’s the fun of not knowing what’s coming inside the box, so when you open it, it’s like Christmas!

I came across Pup Mom Crate and couldn’t help myself. Things for my pup and me?! Yes, please! You’ll receive 5-8 items for you and your pup in the box each month (you can also choose to skip months if you’d like). These goodies are fantastic and fun! 

The box is charming, I love the attention to detail, and the colors catch your eyes and spark curiosity.

I did an unboxing for you guys with my first box so you can see the greatness that awaits. As you can see the crate was full of neat things (I’m wearing my “World’s Best Dog Mom” hat right now) for Yamper & myself.

Pup Mom Crate

Let’s start with the treats that arrived in the cute colorful box. Although Yamper is only nine weeks old, I did a little research to see if he could have these delectable delights. As I stated before, I got him a “medium” box instead of a “small” crate. The Side By Side Salmon & Sweet Potato chewy treats will be saved until he’s a little older. The Side By Side website states the treats are for happy, energetic, strong stomaches, and pink tongues. Since he’s only a puppy, these will wait until he’s adapted to everything and the foods we feed him. The Vitakraft Meaty Morsels don’t state if they’re for puppies or not, but I think those will wait until he’s a little older too.

Onto the toys, the fun part! He got a ball that glows in the dark, which will be fun when we go camping this summer if he’s big enough to play with it by then (I’m disappointed in me that I ordered the wrong size box). The other toy is an alien from Alien Flex that is soft and squeaky. Yes, it scared me when I picked it up to squeeze it and didn’t realize it squeaked. In the picture is the awesome tumbler they sent.

Next up are the fun gifts for me, the pup mom. I got an awesome Tumbler (that I’m using for my 2nd chocolate mocha – this thing is 16oz’s) that says “send dog pics,” A hair wrap for after a shower, and a “Dog Mom Parking Only” sign. All of which will get used after a walk or a day outside.

There is such a wide variety of toys, treats, and accessories on the market for puppies and dogs today it can be hard to decide which is best for your pet. Be curious about what’s in the treats and foods you give them to keep them safe, happy, and healthy.

I like ordering subscription boxes because everything is researched and defined. You’ll find subscription boxes most of the time cater to a specific need like sensitive skin to gut health.

Use this link to take 20% off your first box (in all transparency: crates are $39.99 each month you decide not to skip. I am not an affiliate of this company), plus you can also see if they’re giving away any freebies for that month, which is an even bigger win!

How To Allergy Proof Your Home

It’s that time of year again when allergies are high due to all the pollen, dust, and mold are upon us. I don’t know about you, but for me, this season sucks, and I hate it! I think this is another reason I favor the winter, fewer bugs, less pollen, and other allergens.

What are Allergies?

Allergies are an immune system response to a foreign substance that isn’t typically harmful to your body. These foreign substances are allergens. They can include pollen, certain foods, or pet dander. Your immune system’s job is to keep you healthy by fighting these harmful pathogens.

We are exposed to allergies every day we breathe, so it’s essential to have allergy prevention in place; this is especially true if you have family members prone to allergic reactions. Have you been sneezing a lot lately? Yup, thanks to pollen!

Just because it’s allergy season, don’t avoid the outdoors; you still need that vitamin D after all. 

15 Ways to allergy-proof your home:

  1. Do a weekly cleaning. It can be hard to find a time when you’re busy, but in the long run, you’ll be thankful you did. I try to take an hour or two on Sunday to get this done; even when I don’t feel like it, I grab the bleach and get to work. 
  2. Use a HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filter throughout your house.
  3. Bathe your pet regularly. Getting rid of that pet dander will make your nose happy.
  4. Don’t keep the windows open, and if you do not, for too long – imagine seeing that huge yellow cloud of pollen dust covering everything in your room and across your house. 
  5. This brings me to my next point, make sure to dust. Dusting helps get up all the pollen and allergens that have accumulated. 
  6. If you have a house plant, you can cover the soil with aquarium stones to help control mold. 
  7. Clean bedding regularly – I clean my bedding every two weeks, whether it’s winter, spring, fall, or summer. I like knowing my sheets are clean, dust-free, and smell good for me to bask in their presence. Doing so is a great way to keep debris, dirt, and allergens off the bed and away from where you sleep. Mold, in particular, is often found in pillows and mattresses and releases spores that may trigger asthma symptoms.
  8. Keep windows closed and use the air conditioner. Fans only stir up dust. 
  9. Cover your box spring and mattress with an allergen-proof fabric cover.
  10. Keep the house dry – this will help prevent mold. Also, don’t leave wet clothes in the washing machine (I’m horrible for this myself).
  11. Clean up your clutter – get rid of old newspapers, magazines, and clothes. Go ahead and find a place for that too. That’ll also help you stay organized; look at that a twofer!
  12. Wash your walls regularly – this sounds like a weird one but think about it, everything that goes on in your house is between those walls. They see (and pick up) everything. 
  13. Wipe your pipes – look under your sinks in the kitchen, bathrooms, basement, and garage. Take a wet microfiber cloth and wipe the mold that might be lurking on those pipes. These don’t usually place you’d think to look. I didn’t anyway. 
  14. Deep clean the mudroom – this is where you take your shoes and hang your jacket up. While you’ve been out silently battling that pesky ragweed, it’s been attaching itself to your clothes.
  15. Clean toys and stuffed animals – by putting them in a ziplock bag and sticking them in the freezer overnight once a week to kill off dust mites. Store the kids’ toys and stuffed animals in bins to help with clutter too.

Allergy sufferers find fall is the most challenging season due to two major sources: mold and ragweed pollen. Ragweed can continue to be a problem in September and October and can be carried hundreds of miles by the wind. A single ragweed plant can produce up to one billion grains of pollen per season! How crazy is that?! Calm down, overachieving plant!

I hope these tips will help you with your allergies this season and throughout. If you found this post helpful, please feel free to share it with your friends.

Sausage, Egg, Cheese, Biscuits – Oh My!

Sausage, Eggs, Cheese, Biscuits – Oh My Goodness is right! Yes!

I’ve been dishing up meal plans for the last few months for my boyfriend for the week. I make his breakfast, lunches, dinners, and sometimes desserts.

Many recipes we’ve tried, but I haven’t had time to post them all, so I’ve decided to spread them out since this isn’t a food blog. 

Some have been significant others are better left on paper though, we won’t get to those because even with modifications, they were hopeless.

I try to feed him something that is filling in the morning, although he eats lunch at 11-11:30, depending on what shift he’s working that week. I like to make him hearty meals, so they’ll stick with him.

He wants to gain a little weight since his metabolism is so fast and he’s so tall. I try to find recipes to fill him up with high protein, and the more calories, the better. Of course, I don’t get to eat any of these delicious dishes because I am trying to lose 10 pounds.

Breakfast is his favorite meal of the day, so these recipes are the most important. He could be careless about what he eats the rest of the day unless mashed potatoes are involved; the man loves mashed potatoes.

This casserole is so easy to make it’s crazy, you’ll be back to watching that killer documentary on Netflix in no time. Oh, that just me?

Everything comes together so simply but the taste is so over the top, it tastes like you made the biscuits yourself because the gravy seeps in making the biscuits moist while the sausage sends flavor through every bite and the egg uses its fluffiness to hold everything together.

You guessed it, your taste buds will thank you!

Ingredients:

  • 1 (16 oz) can jumbo buttermilk biscuits
  • 1 lb hot sausage, cooked & crumbled
  • 2 cups colby & monterey Jack cheeses, shredded
  • 6 large eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 (2.75 oz) packet country sausage gravy
  • 2 cups water

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350f degrees
  • Spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray
  • Cut each biscuit into eighths.
  • Line bottom of the pan with the biscuits.
  • Sprinkle cooked sausage evenly over biscuits.
  • Then sprinkle shredded cheese over sausage.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs with milk (for two minutes) and season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Pour egg mixture over the cheese layer.
  • In a medium bowl, combine packet of gravy mix with 2 cups water.
  • Whisk until combined.
  • Pour gravy over egg mixture layer.
  • Cover and bake for about 45-55 minutes.
  • Slice and serve!

Give this one a pin and give it a try later! If you decide to try it out come back and leave me a comment letting me know what you think!

7 Important Steps for Breaking Unhealthy Habits

Habits usually start out as slow steps or small choices that lead to actions becoming a part of our daily routine. Before we know it years can go by as unhealthy habits can be our safe place, our crutch, our sense of sanctuary. We may not even realize we are performing some of these habits, they become part of our subconscious operation. Like most challenges in life, breaking old cycles and creating new ones in our habits and coping mechanisms requires a thoughtful holistic approach.

1) Identify the Actual Root Cause

It’s vital to not only identify what the habit is, but WHY you even perform this action in the first place. I can’t say I’ve ever met a smoker who claims to use tobacco products because they enjoy coughing or raising their cancer risk. Smoking is typically bore from the need for calm and stress relief, until it becomes a physical craving and need. Stress can manifest in a wide array of behaviors such as nail biting, over-eating, angry outbursts, smoking, drinking, I’ve even met people who had slowly removed their eyelashes from plucking them during stressful times. Stress is just one variable in unhealthy habits. Understanding why, can help you identify a plan of action.

Some examples of Root Cause of habits: 

• Overeating due to equating food with love and safety

• Smoking related to stress and seeking relief from our bodies nicotinic receptors

• Nail Biting, Hair pulling, Skin Picking due to anxiety

• Excessive Consumption of Sugar/Carbs can change your Gut Flora to naturally crave them more

• Excessive Screen time on TV or Phone as a need to escape reality

• Being a Pack Rat of items out of a fear of loneliness or loss

2) Identify Triggers

After Identifying the Root Cause, you want to prepare for urges by recognizing what triggers your habit. It’s easy to say you will rely on your will power, but if we’re not prepared for the moments of weakness we become easy prey to mental chains of comfort and habit. You can identify triggers by reflecting on what is going on when you perform the habit and journaling is a powerful way to keep track of and identify triggers. For example, maybe you pick your skin when you’re nervous, so you create a plan by buying a stress ball instead. This will keep your hands busy. Ideally, you can remove the trigger from your routine or environment. However, if you cannot entirely avoid the trigger you can create an action place for alternative steps to take. This leads to point number 3..

3) Replace the Habit with a Healthier Alternative

The Quitting “Cold Turkey” Approach to breaking a habit is often unsuccessful for many, and It’s not due to lack of willpower. If you look into how the human brain works we operate on complex systems, connections, and subconscious workings that direct all of our choices big or small. Willpower has nothing to do with it. By simply stopping a bad habit, you are creating a void in your routine and coping mechanisms that leaves room for over indulgence of said habit or you may even replace one habit for another. For example, folks who quit smoking may be prone to snacking to replace the time lost in their routine and lack of another healthy alternative. It’s true, we’re not actually “Breaking Habits” but what we are actually doing is exchanging harmful behavior for a more constructive one. If you love soda, consider seltzer or flavored water in replacement. Instead of smoking you may find relief with the oral fixation and (especially if you like menthol) chewing gum or mints for the minty shock to the taste palette.

4) Enlist a Support Person or Group

Enlist anyone you trust to be a support to you while you’re making changes in your lifestyle. Sometimes we indulge in our habits when nobody is watching, and this can make the indulgence even sweeter. However, if there are loved ones helping you hold yourself accountable for your behavior it becomes a little harder to mentally push aside the consequences of our actions. You can’t depend on another person to be your only motivation, but It does help to have a trusted shoulder to lean on to avoid temptations and celebrate our victories.

5) Small Goals are Much Less Daunting

I’m guilty of wanting results FAST. If I don’t see big change or the (often unrealistic) goals I set for myself I feel like giving up entirely. However, this isn’t the best way to be kind to yourself or create a long term plan! For example, if you are trying to find healthier snack alternatives but don’t like many fruits or vegetables start with slow and subtle changes. My guilty pleasure is potatoes!  And who doesn’t love a fresh cut French fries (or Chips for my UK Pals!). I allow myself to have them every once in a blue moon, but without self-restraint I could indulge in them multiple days a week. Instead of frying them you can consider baking them in the oven or air fryer with delicious seasonings. You’re still getting the potatoes, but it’s prepared in a better way by being baked rather than fried in grease. Small Steps for the win! If you wish to get more exercise, start small with only a few days a week at home rather than signing up for a gym, making extensive exercise regimens, and starting slow can prevent injury. Moral of the story here is, small changes are much easier to face than massive life upheavals. Humans naturally enjoy routine, changing the routine too fast can lead to failure.

6) Give Yourself Grace and Patience

Remember as I said at the beginning of the post, our unhealthy habits can form over or sustain themselves for many years. These habits may even feel like part of our identity. Celebrity Model Ashley Graham is a perfect example of this.  A few years ago, she was shamed online and in social media by many folks claiming her choice to lose weight meant she wasn’t an advocate for full bodied women. You may feel a loss of identity with you let go of certain habits. These habits that likely formed over many years of experiences, environmental factors, and maybe even forces outside our control will not go away overnight. If they took years to form, they will take time to break and replace. If you stumble and give in along the way, recognize even though it is a setback, it’s NOT the end of the line. Forgive yourself, be kind to yourself, as you would if you were supporting your loved one in your shoes.

7) Recognize When you Need Professional Help

It’s important to recognize that sometimes a habit is more than just some bad choices or behavior. If your habit has taken control of your routine to the point where you cannot function in daily life without it, you may be faced with an addiction or an issue such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. With an addiction or diagnosable disease you will require some form of support and need tools for coping and manifesting a healthy lifestyle. All the steps above are helpful, but they will not be sufficient for dealing with a serious condition such as addiction. It sounds cliché, but it’s very true that the first step to change is being able to recognize that you have a problem. You wouldn’t let your loved ones suffer in silence, so why would you do that to yourself?

This Guest post was written by Gigi Lee Of Guidance by Gigi. If you enjoy this blog piece you can find more on spirituality, lifestyle, and holistic concepts over at www.guidancebygigi.com/blog.

Lewis Ginter Gardens Lego Exhibit

Since all you hear about is Covid and it’s a little hard to travel I’ve decided to post about an adventure I had a year 1/2 ago (I was just starting my blog and wasn’t an “adventure” sharer then). This place was amazing and beautiful!

There was a lego exhibit that I couldn’t wait to get too. I know, I’m a big kid at heart. Who doesn’t love legos!? ..unless you step on one..

I decided to take my mom so she could tag along. We love going on adventures together, not only do we see neat stuff but we also get to spend time together.

The garden that hosted the LEGO exhibit had a map like a scavenger hunt for the LEGO masterpieces. There were so many and scattered around the garden, which was beautiful in itself. 

The exhibit we scheduled was in August and it was HOT, we in fact had 2 snow cones in one day! Hot weather and I are not friends, HATE the hot weather. During the winter at least I can bundle up and take off layers when I get hot but that’s frowned upon when you get too hot. 

I’d been working on my freelance business a lot and I felt I needed a weekend away to recharge, so I even left my laptop at home! Yes, left it at home. Miracles do happen. 

As I remember we walked around 6-7 miles in a couple hours in this hot weather. I hurt my knee a few years ago running a marathon (my first so far) so it really gave me problems when we got back to the hotel room and were relaxing watching the I.D Network (if you’re not familiar with the I.D Network it’s a network that only shows crime scene, FBi, and other forensic shows.), what can we say – we love catching killers.

The 3 days we were there checking things out we were exhausted to say the least so when we got back to the hotel room we ordered DoorDash (which I love by the way). We weren’t being lazy but it was dark and we didn’t know the area so we didn’t really want to get out and get lost even though ya know GPS. Don’t judge, ya know.

The exhibit findings and other gorgeous photos, I actually took these with my iPhone. I was impressed with myself. ☺️

You can tell Lego photos because they look pixelated, another thing I think It looked pretty cool. The geek side of me is showing!

I hope you enjoyed this little venture as much as you could. We had a lot of fun and learned a lot about the gardens too.

7 Ways To Recharge Everyday

Everyday is different for everyone, some days are just too much to take though. Relaxing eases stress, helps relieve anxiety, depression, and sleeping problems. Some of us don’t recharge enough or destress enough to get the full results of the act.

When I get home I have a nightly routine (not so much a morning routine, I’m not really a morning person) and I don’t know what I’d do without it, I’d be totally lost. If you don’t have an evening/night routine I highly suggest you look into it.

(This post contains affiliate links, you can read the full disclosure here)

Anyway, when I unwind I watch a movie, paint, or read. I don’t check emails, scroll through Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, or do anything that can be done during “business hours” by doing this I keep a work life and home life balance. I keep things simple. Some nights I’ll have a lemon tea because it gets colder at night and you’ll find me huddled up on the couch with my fleece blanket.

Why Recharge Everyday?

Recharging isn’t just for electronic devices and cellphones, this tiny little habit may help you live longer as it reduces stress. You’ll feel better, you’ll be more creative, and another added bonus is it’ll help strengthen your immune system. 

It’s important to keep your focus and mind right everyday, wether you need to read a book, take a bath, or do a brain dump (such a weird phrase), or just watch a few episodes of your show. 

I personally listen to lo-fi tunes when I am trying to relax in the evening. The sounds are all different and you never know what will come out next but they’re interested and keep my mind occupied instead of running through my to do list for the next day or the things I’ve done today.


7 Ways To Recharge Everyday:

  1. Take a drive – it doesn’t have to be hours on end just a short 15 or 30 minute drive may help soothe you. I wouldn’t recommend doing this in the middle of rush hour though,
  2. Somedays you just need a day to recharge, ask your boss if you can have a mental health day. Most companies will let you use a vacation day for this but I am not too sure about a sick day.
  3. Turn off your cellphone! This is a huge one for me. Whenever I’ve had too much social media, drama from the social media and friends (Facebook) I like to turn off my phone for a few hours (yes I said hours) the silence is relaxing and it stops the need to be present in every single conversation, which is also a relief.
  4. Journal – I know this is so cliche but hear me out. You get all those thoughts that are rolling around in your head on paper so they don’t bug you anymore. You can look back later at maybe you’ve actually solved a problem for yourself without even knowing. 
  5. Lazy Sundays – I LOVE a lazy Sunday! I can do whatever I want with no rush, hassle, or urgency of any sort. I do meal prep on Sunday but that to me is relaxing, just in the kitchen for a few hours; just me and my glass(s) of wine. 
  6. Take a nap – if this is possible it always helps me, I usually wake up better than I went to sleep. This might include a power nap of only 20-30 minutes. I wish I could do power naps but my naps are like 2-3 hours long. Naps also help in creativity too. So it’s like a two-for one!
  7. Color – yes that might sound childish but adult coloring books are on the rise these days. I have several. Over Christmas my boyfriend surprised me with one of the picture from the trip we took to West Virginia a few months ago that just so happens to be a paint by number! How cool is that, he did good! There are about 29 different colors to work with but at least everything is numbered and yes some of them are microscopic so I may cuss a little but it’ll be worth it.

The trick is to find something that resonates with you, if one of these suggestions stresses you out then take a bath rather than coloring or go for a walk rather than taking a nap. That’s a plus too because you’ll be getting your steps in as well (sorry I recently got a new FitBit and I am a little obsessed with my steps and heart rate at the moment).

Luray Caverns, Luray Virginia

We had such a good time checking out Luray Caverns. I’d never seen one myself and it was just breathtaking really.

It started on a whim that the boyfriend and I decided to take a weekend trip (which turned into 4 days of adventure in Virginia & West Virginia but more on that later). I wanted to explore, discover, and get out of my comfort zone.. then I found the Luray Caverns!

Luray Caverns, Luray Virginia

I enjoy learning so it was neat that it was a self guided tour around the cavern. There was even a wishing well all the way under there!

I’d like to share a few things that made the trip more manageable, these are my favorites to take along on any outing. They’re comfy, convenient, and practical.


You can see more pictures below this post but I wanted to share a little information about the caverns, so consider this your history lesson for the day ☺️

4 Million Centuries in the Making…

Luray Caverns is the largest caverns in the eastern United States, yet walking through feels more akin to an unearthly experience.

Paved walkways lead visitors through cathedral-sized rooms with ceilings 10-stories high, towering stone formations, and natural wonders at every turn.

Wishing you were here?

Enormous chambers are filled with towering stone columns, shimmering draperies and crystal-clear pools. The National Park Service and the Department of Interior designated it a Registered Natural Landmark.

This is the largest body of water in the caverns. However, its deepest point is not more than 18 to 20 inches. This sparkling lake reflects a myriad of fantastic forms and creates a mirror image of the abundant stalactites hanging from the ceiling.

You Won’t Believe Your Ears

Can stalactites sound as unearthly as they look? They do at Luray Caverns. The Great Stalacpipe Organ is the world’s largest musical instrument. It literally makes stalactites sing by gently tapping them throughout three acres of the caverns. It’s a musical masterpiece that can’t be found anywhere else in the world … or under it. Hear the organ playing here.

More photos from our adventure!

Behind The Scene Of 2020

I’m not one to make New Years resolutions because I have a hard time sticking to anything longer than a few months. If I don’t see progress in 2-3 months then I usually move along to the next thing.. like crocheting, how on earth is it done?!

2020 was full of surprises and threw us all some curve balls in some of those we’ve not recovered. Just as long as we do the best with what we can that’s all we can do.

Adventures

After the crucial lockdowns, curfews, and loss of work I didn’t manage to have a little fun it i did have some fun. I tagged along on my first ever trail ride & rock crawl, we hiked the gorgeous Catawba Falls Waterfall, with a few other adventures that were had (you’ll see more of those in later posts).

Self Care

I’ve had a lot of time to think with being out of work and my freelance writing business pretty much non-existent now I was drowning in stress and anxiety.

I had plenty of time to search, read, and figure out ways to help with my anxiety and stress (I’ve decided to write an ebook for stress. You can preorder now and the ebook will go out the first week of January.)

I thought I’d share how I deal with stress, and had a wonderful guest blogger to share the 6 ways you can find confidence.

I’ve shared my bipolar story with the world as a way to relate to other mental health bloggers. I got a lot of blow back from that saying I shouldn’t be sharing my personal life online. Isn’t that what a blog is all about in a way though? 

Food

I’ve actually done a ton of cooking and baking over the last few months last year. I’ve been making a meal plan and cooking for my boyfriend for the passed 2 months. Although cooking 3 meals in one day is a little chaotic so I didn’t take photos of all recipes and if I did they came out looking like crap so I didn’t use them or publish the recipe.

I made some peanut butter protein bars which were good but what I absolutely loved making {and eating} were the chocolate strawberry boxes

I made for a dessert. Everyone that tried them loved them. I do think I’ll make the top layer of chocolate a little thinner as it was a little hard to crack open. I want to leave out the strawberry and try it with chocolate and orange which is one of my favorites too.

As for 2021 I think I might try something different and pick a word, I’ve put a lot of thought into the word I’d pick as I want to thrive along with that word this year.

The word I picked was abundant because that’s what I want. In everything I do I want there to be an abundance.

You might think it’s silly but I think I’m excited to try and fulfill my word. That would mean new opportunities all around the board. I thought it was a great idea since I don’t make resolutions. I could set goals but as I said I don’t really do well with those.

I think having a word will help because if at least one thing goes according to plan and turns out abundant I will be motivated to try the next and it’ll be one thing I can be proud of.

What’s your take on 2020?