*being more natural

In the past year and a half I have been working on becoming more interested in living in a more natural life. Obviously it has been a slow change, but it is a change I am working towards! I been in love with using coconut oil as a natural moisturizer and to heal cuts! The coconut oil seems to put a clear cover over cuts, I rarely have to use Bandaids! According to Real Beauty Spot there are many more uses for coconut oil!

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About once a week in the shower I use a homemade epsom salt with coconut oil scrub, to rehydrate my dry skin!

I’ve had had cold sores for as long as I can remember. None of the over-the-counter products were very successful. When I was younger my mom would scoop some of our pool water into a bowl and I would dip my finger (when I was a child I would get a cold sore on my right middle finger) in hoping the chemicals would kill the germs. Of course I take L-Lysine pills on a daily basis, but it’s not strong enough when I have an outbreak. I can’t recall which site, but a year ago I found an article online saying to use honey on cold sores. Everyday Root’s article on 16 Ways to Prevent & Get Rid of Cold Sores suggests using vanilla extract! The alcohol must help kill the germs. So when I feel a cold sore come on I wipe my lips with vanilla extract, let dry, and then put honey on top! I’ve even started caring small honey packets with me on trips!

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I’ve also started sleeping with Lavender to help me fall asleep and have a restful sleep. I tried the real thing, it was too messy. The lavender oil was too strong, even throwing it in the dryer for a few minutes. My sister, Ashley, introduced me to Scentsy Buddies. To save money, I just bought the pouch and put it near my pillow! Ever since then I’ve been sleeping like a baby!

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My mom is a big believer in milk of magnesia in treating blemishes and acne. I haven’t bought a bottle, but I normally use some when I’m at her house! She also likes cracking an egg and pasting it on her face. Egg has a lot of nutrients. My mom is in her 50s, never sees a doctor and she is the healthiest person I know!

 

 

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*the bright side of London

Daniel and I returned yesterday evening from our six day trip to London, England. For the past 48 hours I have been racking my brain on how to describe the trip to you! I definitely know six days was not long enough in such a historic and energetic city!

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I was extremely impressed with how friendly everyone was! From the hotel staff to those who worked at the tube stations. I am most shocked about the lack of trash cans, we carried some of our donut trash a few tube stations before we could find a clear bag meant for trash! You can tell many people were frustrated and threw their trash on the floor. If you ever visit London, please be respectful and throw away your trash! Help keep the city beautiful!

After getting to our room and getting situated we headed to the Tower of London. The goal was to take the tube 99% of the time. But the St James Station next to our hotel was closed the first four days. On the bright side it made us take advantage of the red double decker bus! The bus system is a lot easier to understand than I thought it would be. It was hard to know exactly which stop to get off that would be closest to our final destination, so we relied on Tube Station stops. Getting back to the hotel was easy, we just had to find a bus heading to Westminster (our hotel was only 2 blocks away)! I definitely recommend you taking the bus more than the tube, so you have a nice view of the city!

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To save money Daniel and I split a lot of meals. Although the places we ate at were reasonably price (under 15 pounds for a plate), you have to think of the pounds to dollar conversion. It probably saved us over $200. We ordered fish & chips at The Albert (a pub very near our hotel). The fish was as large, so we cut it in half and shared the fries. At the Olde Cheshire Cheese we split the beef dish, a cheese plate, and Spotted Dick (a small cake with a glaze- it was delicious, pictured below on right).

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On our last night we did not share a meal, we ate at the Spaghetti House a block away from St. Martin’s Theater (performs the Mousetrap play). I had the Linguine Vongole in Bianco Fresh (palourdes clams, white wine, chilli, garlic & extra virgin olive oil), it was the perfect sized dish and tasted amazing with a small kick. I definitely wouldn’t call it spicy though!

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We supported a new business that I luckily had heard of online before our trip. It as wasn’t the easiest journey, but we wanted the fresh and unique experience of Cereal Killer Cafe. I rarely eat cereal, because I don’t drink milk, so this was me trying new things! I had the Frankenberry Cereal topped with freeze-dried marshmallows, while Daniel had Rice Krispie Treat Cereal with freeze-dried marshmallows!

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We definitely recommend you visit one of the many locations were they sell Crosstown Doughnuts. I’ve never been a big fan of filled doughnuts, but I had their Autumn (Apple & Pear). “Just like a crisp autumn day, this little beauty is a complimenting dose of a cool breeze, crunchy leaves and warm sunshine for the tastebuds. Sharp Bramley apple and sweet pear mixed with warming spices are encased in a ball of Crosstown sourdough topped with a sweet maple glaze and crunchy pecan crumble”(describtion found on their Our Doughnuts page). Daniel had the their Peanut Butter & Jelly Doughnut. We both loved it so much that we visited it again before we left!

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I didn’t do much shopping, mostly because of the price. I did find my nieces something for their birthday. With what I got them I took a picture of it with me in front of Big Ben, so they have the memory that it was special. I gave my niece who turned 10 on New Years Eve the two scarves I bought her today. She was so thrilled! Of course we had to find a Tardis in her honor (she’s a big Dr Who fan).

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I bought myself a tank for 3£, a sweatshirt for 10£, a backpack for my upcoming classes for 16£, and the ski hat Daniel and I wore on New Years Eve for 4£ each! Daniel got a tee shirt at the WB Harry Potter Studios and a James Bond coffee mug. We bought a few programs/guides of the places we visited.

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Daniel really enjoyed the London Film Museum where they had a special exhibit on James Bond. He was definitely in one of his childhood’s heaven!

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He was also very excited about WB Harry Potter Studios. He had read the first few books when he was in elementary school and has seen all of the movies. I have not seen the last two movies, but still enjoyed the behind the scenes! Plus the fountain Butterbeer was fantastic!

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On New Years Eve we left our hotel room just after 7pm. We were suggested to take the subway to the Westminster Tube Station, but since our hotel was so close, we should have just walked it. We were through the entrance gates shortly after 7:30pm. We were able to get in the front, with the Westminster Bridge just to our right! My feet froze, to the point of pain, for the next four and a half hours. I did have two pairs of socks on though. But I was going to suffer through the pain, definitely since the rest of my body was warm!

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The firework was show was fantastic and completely worth the wait! The BBC has already posted the firework show on YouTube!

My Favorites:

Museum: Museum of London (visit first because it walks you through the history of London)

Restaurant: Spaghetti House

Pub: The Albert

Play: The Mousetrap (yes, it was the only one I saw there but the ending was a great twist)

Check out my London Week Pictures Here & New Year Eve Firework Pictures Here!

“It is not the walls that make the city, but the people who live within them. The walls of London may be battered, but the spirit of the Londoner stands resolute and undismayed.” ~George VI

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*i’m in london

I hope everyone had a fantastic start to the new year! I just wanted to write you quickly. I’m on the free wifi at the Museum of London! Last night I waited 4 and a half hours to see the London’s New Years Eve Firework show! It was of course worth it because I had no one blocking my view! It was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I got to share with my best friend! The BBC has already posted the show to YouTube, so definitely check it out!

I’ll write more soon! We have an early flight tomorrow back to the States- please pray I arrive home safely!
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*merry christmas

I hope everyone’s holiday is off to a good start. I’m a little bummed that its raining instead of snowing, but at least it is not freezing and hopefully my plane won’t be delayed tomorrow!

Christmas has always been a big deal in my family. The night before Christmas we would attend church service. On Christmas morning my sister and I were always so excited to see the presents under the tree. Santa always delivered! Stockings are opened first, our stockings are stuffed with candy! After mom got her coffee we would sit under the living room tree to open gifts.

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We each took turn opening one gift at a time! I’m not sure what I received in the picture below on the right, but I was definitely excited! I remember asking for a boombox with CD and cassette player, one Christmas in the late 90s. But I loved getting Barbies, Laura Ingalls extras, and I went through a Titanic phase. A few years I asked Stanta for the internet, AOL dialup to be exact! Hours later we would have a huge meal prepared by my mom. When we were younger we would visit Grandparents in north east Indiana.

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Our Christmas traditions haven’t changed too much. We will be opening gifts this evening with my parents, sister, her boyfriend, and Daniel. I will still make everyone sit in their original spots. Dad is on a chair to the left of the tree, Ashley on the floor next to him, Mom on the couch, and me to the right of the tree on the floor. I’ll have Daniel sit on the couch above me, and Matt will be behind Ashley! I like traditions! Afterwards we are attending the 10:30pm Christmas Eve church service. My Christmas morning the past 5 years have been spent with Daniel’s family. We watch his nieces open presents from Santa. This year is going to be a little more crowded, we have 2 baby nieces. Christmas will probably start to change as the nieces get older or when me or my sister have kids.

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For lunch Daniel and I will be hosting our parents over for a late lunch! My mom is preparing the ham and I am taking care of the sides and the dessert! Of course I made a cheesecake, Peppermint Oreo! I’m excited to host, it’s kind of my thing.

I am blessed for all the wonderful Christmases that I have been apart of. Although I’ve always wanted to take a trip with my family on Christmas, instead of buying one another presents. I feel next year we should partake in some volunteering at a local organization to help those who haven’t been as blessed. Luckily I have one of the greatest families in the world who is full of love!

Can’t wait to share my family photos with you!

 

*1 week until London

In 1 week I will be in London, England!

I’m trying very hard to contain my excitement! Our itinerary has gotten a little out of hand. I was only planning on doing some research of the places I wanted to check out. And we do what we feel like each day. But then I realized 6 days in London was not enough! I have our itinerary in a half inch binder full of times, places to see, tickets already purchased, and zoomed in maps of places will be visiting!

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Each day we will tear out that days itinerary, so we have our resources that will fit into my mini purse, instead of hauling around the binder! We used this method when we were in Paris, last November!

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When we arrive into Heathrow we will be having Blacklane car service pick us up. We used this company in Paris! I highly recommend them when you travel outside of the USA. The have many discounts through out the year. We are getting both of our rides to and from the airport at 30% off! You can do all your booking online, months prior. Both of our drivers in Paris were very polite and on time! I’m normally not such a high end person, I drive a cheap Fiat in my normal life. But I like have a driver in foreign countries. I don’t have to take a public transportation fussing with my bags or worried they will get stolen. Plus when I’m on vacation I want it to be better then my daily life!

Speaking of being better, the hotel we booked I can tell is going to be fabulous! We will be staying at the 4 Star St. Ermin’s, a part of the Marriott group! Check out there website to see their incredible inside!

(pictured below is St. Ermin’s entrance decked in Christmas lights for 2014,

picture found from St Ermin’s Facebook page)

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I’m excited to eat breakfast at the new Cereal Killer Cafe,  where they sale over 120 different types of cereal from around the world. To top it off, they have 30 milk choices and 20 different toppings!

“There’s nowhere else like London. Nothing at all, anywhere.” ~ Vivienne Westwood

 

*amaretto sour cupcakes

Cupcakes

Follow the instructions on the box except substitute (for water):

3oz amaretto

6oz sweet & sour cocktail mix

1/2oz Sprite or 7up

& DO NOT ADD any water!

*I put the timer on for 15 minutes (I have a gas oven), I tried the tooth pick test and they seemed done. I left them in for a few more minutes though.

Icing

1 stick unsalted butter (soft)

2 TBSP teaspoon sweet & sour mix

2 TBSP amaretto

4 cups confectioners sugar

1 TBSP heavy cream

*Mix butter, sweet & sour mix, and 1 TBSP amaretto on low

*Gradually add the confectioners sugar to you get the right consistency

*Add 1 TBSP heavy cream- mix on medium for amount a minute

*The cupcake themselves have a great amaretto sour taste, even the icing but I am trying to make the icing more workable. As pictured you see I just had to spread on. 

“A party without cake is just a meeting.” ~Julia Child

*strawberry lemonade cupcakes


I was trying to get rid of the Strawberry Daiquiri Mix and what is better in the summer then Strawberry Lemonade?! Even our wedding cake interior flavor was strawberry lemonade! I followed the egg white recipe on the box. With one box, instead of water I used the strawberry daiquiri instead of the water. With the other box, instead of water I used lemonade and a teaspoon of lemon extract. To get some more yellow color I of course added yellow food coloring. I filled the cupcakes about 3/4 full with the strawberry cake mix. Then I used a large spoon (not serving size) to top with the lemonade cake mix (See images below).

This is how they turned out! I liked how the pink peaked through! 

I could not decide on what to do for the icing- stick with just strawberry or lemon? So I ended up going with both and making my own recipe! 

Strawberry Lemon Cream Icing Recipe

1 Stick of butter

8 oz. cream cheese 

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (always use pure vanilla extract if possible)

1 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract  

1 1/2 teaspoon strawberry diaquari mix

4 cups powdered confectioners sugar (I ended up using a whole one pound box)

1 Tablespoon heavy cream, heavy whipping cream or milk

Hot Pink Food Coloring Gel

*Place butter in a large mixing bowl and blend until smooth. Add cream cheese and blend until well combined, about 30 seconds.

*Add extracts and drops of coloring (I didn’t want to make it too pink)

*Add powdered sugar (1 cup at a time) and blend on low speed until combined. Increase to medium speed and beat until it begins to get fluffy.

*Slowly add the heavy cream 

*Beat until fluffy, about 1 minute.

*Use at once or keep refrigerated. (This frosting will keep well in the refrigerator for several days, but you may need to re-beat it for the best texture.)

 “I love to take something ordinary and make it really special.” ~Ina Garten