Sunday, January 26, 2014

Whipped Body Butter

Anyone who knows me knows that I am obsessed with healthy eating (not that I always do it) and natural stuff. I've already spoken about my love of coconut oil. I am also obsessed with beauty and anti-aging products. I religiously apply eye cream and anti-aging moisturizer every night. I'm scared of wrinkles and am doing my best to prevent them.

Anyways, I love to moisturize. I love my skin to feel soft and smooth. I also discovered through self-diagnosis that I have skin writing disease. It's not really a big deal, just very annoying. Basically, whenever I scratch my skin, I'm left with red welts that itch/hurt like crazy. I've figured out that I can lessen the symptoms by keeping my diet in check and keeping my skin soft.

The long list of ingredients in most lotions scare me.

For example, here is a list of ingredients in Vaseline Intensive Rescue Repairing Hypoallergenic Lotion.

      Water, Glycerin, Petrolatum, Stearic Acid, Glycol Stearate, Dimethicone, Isopropyl Isostearate, Tapioca Starch, Cetyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, Magnesium Aluminium Silicate, Stearamide AMP, Carbomer, Ethylene Brassylate, Triethanolamine, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Titanium Dioxide

Ew. Our skin is our largest organ and everything we put on it is absorbed into our body. We really shouldn't be putting stuff on our skin that we wouldn't, ideally, eat. I realize that's unrealistic, but we can definitely do the best we can to limit our exposure to chemicals and fake products.

I'm really not down with putting all of those chemicals on my skin and have been exploring natural skincare products. Unfortunately, a lot of the natural skincare lines can be quite pricey. Are they worth is? Yes, but there's really no need to buy them when you can whip up simple amazing products in your very own kitchen.

The recipe I used is a combination of recipes I found after perusing Google and Pinterest. I already had raw shea butter (learn why it helps African women here), but they stuff was so thick that I wasn't sure how to use it. I would try to warm it between my hands, but it would leave a thick sticky layer on my skin. I wasn't sure if I was using it right.

I also had coconut oil (why it's good for skin) and olive oil (other uses for olive oil), which have both been shown to be very beneficial for skin. I love moisturizing with both, but I've found that sometimes the oils sit on the skin, rather than absorb like a lotion purchased at a drugstore would do.

So, I combined all three of these ingredients and after some trial and error, the finished product was the fluffy looking body butter pictured above. It's not greasy, absorbs well and only has three ingredients.

Britni's Whipped Body Butter
1/2 cup shea butter (I found mine here)
1/2 cup coconut oil (always use organic virgin)
1/2 cup olive oil (try to use a higher quality oil)
A few drops of essential oils, optional for scent (I didn't have any)

Combine all three ingredients in a double broiler (or in my case, a glass bowl over a pot of water). Heat until all three ingredients are melted. Place in refrigerator for an hour to two hours. The oils should start solidifying, but still be soft. It will be a light yellow color. Take out of the fridge and beat with a hand mixer for about 10 minutes, until fluffy. Place back in the fridge for about 10-15 minutes, to let the mixture set. Take out and place in Mason jars, or your choice of container. If you keep your house warm, you may need to keep this in the refrigerator or else it will liquefy. Enjoy!

A few notes: Make sure that it is ready to take out of the fridge before you begin whipping it. I waited an hour and took it out while it was still a liquid. One of the recipes I read said an hour, but the mixture was not ready. I tried whipping it, but nothing happened. I put it back in for about 45 minutes and I knew it was ready when it was starting to become a solid. Use essential oils if you don't like the smell of shea butter. It doesn't bother me, but my husband told me it smelled weird. 

Let me know if you get a chance to make this! I am planning on making more of my beauty products in the future and will keep you posted if I make anything spectacular. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

*Friday Favorites*

It's finally Friday!!

I love Fridays, because it's the only weekday that I don't have to travel to Stillwater. It gives me a chance to clean the apartment, work on my thesis, get caught up on laundry, and Chase and I usually have a date night.

I also had my hair done today, which I always enjoy. I just touched up the red-black ombré thing that I have going on and had her cut some bangs.

              Photo: Obligatory #newhair #selfie #bangs

I usually never stray too far from black, but when I do, it's never too long before I return to the dark side. I've always wanted to dye my hair platinum blonde, but I'm afraid my locks would break off in protest if I did. And since Chase loves long, dark hair, I would hate to break his heart :).

Anyways, in the spirit of blogging, I am going to try something new. I love theme days (such as What I Ate Wednesday) and I think Friday Favorites would be lots of fun to do. I am always trying new things, so every Friday, I will highlight a few of Britni's Favorite Things. (if you care!)

1. Urban Decay Cannonball mascara
I came in like a Caaaaaannonbaaaalll...   
     Sorry about the cheesy caption — I couldn't resist. First of all, it's a waterproof mascara. Usually I am very opposed to waterproof mascaras, because they tend to become dry and flaky and are a pain in the butt to take off. This one is none of those things. It also provides a crazy amount of length and for those of you who are like me and enjoy piling on the makeup, you can layer this stuff on without it becoming cakey or losing a curl. Unlike Benefit's They're Real mascara, it doesn't bring down your curl. I can curl my lashes (I use a blow dryer to heat up my curler first) and pile on this mascara, and my curl stays all day. I've tried a ton of mascaras and this one has been my favorite for awhile. The brush is great, because it's small, allowing you to grasp even the smallest hairs when applying. It's definitely a lengthening mascara, but I've also cocktailed it with L'Oreal's Voluminous, and that worked out well. And yes, it's amazing at being waterproof, but it also comes off very easily for me. I use coconut oil to remove my makeup.
This is my eye before mascara (please excuse my eyebrows, which are in severe need of a wax)

With mascara

2. Perfect Fit protein powder

Perfect Fit
  I really enjoy this protein powder. I've been making a shake everyday, especially during the week. It's so easy for me to throw stuff in a blender for a quick breakfast or lunch when I'm running out the door. I usually choose whey protein, but this stuff is brown rice protein and is organic, vegan, gluten free, dairy free and free of allergens. It's also sweetened with stevia, so it's low carb, which I love.  It has 15 grams of protein and only 3 grams of carbs. I like it best with almond milk, half of a frozen banana, a handful of spinach and raw almond butter. It tastes like a milkshake!
3. Bananas

  Usually, I'm all about low carb stuff, only because I know that my body responds extremely well to less carbs. I used to never eat bananas because of their high sugar/carb content, but lately, I just can't get enough of them. They're amazing with almond butter, dipped in dark chocolate and frozen, tastes like ice cream when they're frozen then put in a food processor, and they make protein shakes taste so good. I do try to limit myself to half of a banana a day, but I'm obsessed with their sweet creaminess as of late. If loving bananas is wrong, I don't want to be right.              

4. Coconut Oil

My Love
  OMG, y'all. I'm just obsessed. Chase teases me because I keep a tub in the bathroom and in the kitchen. I use it to cook my eggs and veggies, I put it in coffee, mix it with cocoa, put it in shakes, eat it straight off the spoon, use it for oil pulling, I cleanse my face with it, moisturize with it, use it as a shaving cream, put it in my hair, use it for flyaways....the list could go on. If you've never tried coconut oil for anything, you're missing out. I've noticed such a change in my skin and hair since using this stuff religiously. (I'm really a fan of all coconut products...coconut butter, coconut water and unsweetened coconut flakes are great with almonds and dark chocolate chips).

101 uses for coconut oil

 Seriously. Go get you some.                             

5. Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred
30 Day Shred
           Well, I don't know if this is really a favorite, but I'll admit it. I hate working out. As much as I love yoga, I don't consider it to be a heart-pumping workout (even though Bikram is quite challenging). I bought this DVD because the workouts are only 30 minutes, so I have no excuses not to do it. There are 3 levels, and you do each level for 10 days before moving on to the next. I'm only 5 days in to Level 1, but it's definitely challenging! Some of the before and afters of this DVD that you can find by googling are pretty amazing. She does so a lot of squats and lunges, so if you have bad knees, you might want to steer clear of it. I like how she uses intervals, since I hate working out, I don't get a chance to get bored before moving on to the next exercise. Some of the stuff she says is quite comical (If you've got it, flaunt it! No shame, ladies!), but overall, I enjoy her workout DVDs.

Those are some of the things I'm loving this week! What are you currently loving?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

WIAW #3: Back to the Grind

I enjoyed my break. Like really enjoyed it.

School started back up this week, and I have to admit that I'm less than thrilled about it.

It's my last semester of grad school, yay, but the thought of getting back out in the "real world" is a little daunting! I'm a little scared — what if I can't find a job? what if no one wants me?

Anyways, I have plenty of time to worry about that. After all, I have 16 (!!) weeks from Friday until I graduate.

Now, to the important FOOD! I'm trying really hard to keep things healthy this semester. Last semester, I ate my feelings and every scone that I came in contact with (absolutely LOVE scones). My tastebuds were happy, but my waistline was not and I spent the semester feeling cranky, emotional and sluggish.

Aren't you jealous of my husband?

My What I Ate Wednesday is actually Tuesday's day of eats. This week isn't much more interesting than last week's Tone It Up 7 Day Slim Down WIAW (but I did lose 9 pounds last week!!), and I failed because I forgot to take pictures of everything. Ugh.
My day started out with coffee while writing in bed.

After a quick workout, I had scrambled eggs and hot sauce, and sauteed spinach, tomatoes, jalapenos, onions and mushrooms. I also had half of a grapefruit. I ate this while watching Downton Abbey. Did anyone else watch this??? Poor Anna! I may have cried. I just can't...

For a snack, I had a Kashi Chocolate Almond & Sea Salt bar. These are so yummy, and this flavor is exclusive to Target. I also had a Diet Coke. I am working on cutting out grains, so once these are gone, no more! Same for the Diet Coke :(

On the way to school, I had a shake that consisted of Perfect Fit protein (dairy free, gluten free and organic...I really like it so far!), frozen mixed berries, kale, coconut oil and almond milk. It was OK...I prefer to use spinach in my smoothies, because kale has such a strong flavor. 

Aaaaaand then I forgot to take pictures.

I had a hard boiled egg and some mini sweet peppers for a snack.

For dinner, I picked up Chipotle for Chase and me on the way home. Even though I usually get a burrito bowl loaded with everything, I had a salad with chicken, peppers, salsa and guacamole. So good — I've been wanting another one all day today.

I also had some dark chocolate almonds and a cup of sleepytime tea.

I hope everyone is having a fabulous week!! 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

WIAW 2: TIU 7 Day Slim Down

First of all, thank you everyone for your kind words about my last blog! It's so refreshing to know that I'm not the only one that struggles with guilt, especially wedding related, as silly as that might be.

So, in the spirit if the new year and the fact that I have been stuffing my face since my wedding, I have been doing Tone It Up's 7 Day Slim Down. If you don't know what Tone It Up is, look it up! I'm notorious for trying out different diets. I'm weird, but I actually enjoy trying out different types of eating. The creators of this program have rockin' bods, so I thought why not give their plan a shot?
Karena and Katrina!

A little bit of motivation for Lindsey and me. Our heads on the TIU girls' bodies. I don't have Photoshop, so I did the bet I could!
 Today's eats are from yesterday, Day 5. The diet is a little extreme and gets worse as the week progresses. The food is kind of boring, but I'm loving how light I'm feeling after one too many pieces of my mom's famous fudge.

The program focuses on 5 meals throughout the day. My bestie Lindsey has been following their plan also and has had great results. I'm doing OK so far, but I'm looking forward to jumping on their "normal" plan, rather than this extreme one.

Anyways, here we go!

A necessity
When I first woke up, I had coffee with almond milk...while working on my writing bed. Before you think I'm lazy (and you'd most certainly be right), I had already woken up with my husband, ironed his clothes, started his truck (because Oklahoma is absolutely frigid right now) and sent him off to work with a thermos full of hot coffee and some Cuties clementines. Can I just say that I love taking care of my husband and want to be a writer who works from home when I grow up?

Recycled (blurry) picture, but I also had a Meta-D drink, which is another tenet of the plan.

My first meal of the day was egg whites, spinach, mushrooms and tomatoes. They should be scrambled together, but I've been eating this every morning and was tiring of the combo. Usually, there would be hot sauce on this (Louisiana Hot Sauce FTW!), but I'm not allowed any salt the last three days, so sadly I had to eat my egg whites and veggies sans sauce. I ate while watching the new episode of Downton Abbey (!!!), so I didn't pay too much attention to breakfast anyways. Can I just say that I'm tired of all the sadness at Downton — I hope this is a happy season!

Meal 2 was half a grapefruit and it was super yummy. The plan allows stevia on your grapefruit, but I think it's silly to add sweetener to fruit. Fruit is nature's candy! :p

Meal 3 was just OK. Chicken, spinach, cucumbers...I could have added balsamic vinegar to it, but I've already had so much of it this week. Even though I love me some BV, I just couldn't, so I ate it dry.

Meal 4 was my favorite! I know it looks gross, so let me explain. They're unsweetened frozen berries, but I heated them up in the microwave for 30 seconds. It makes them taste like pie filling, all sweet and syrupy. Try it!

Meal 5 was OK. I made my husband sweet potatoes with coconut oil and cinnamon (my FAVE), broccoli and baked ranch chicken; I had chicken with Mrs. Dash and kale. No salt, no olive actually wasn't that terrible, but my husband raved about his meal and I was jealous of the cinnamony goodness on his plate.

I'm so excited that I have 2 more days of this plan! I know it's considered a "crash" diet, but I've always had success with crash diets in the past. I really don't see how they are "bad," as long as you know that you have to continue to eat healthily after. Trust me, a period of restricted eating is perfectly OK after all of the things I consumed during the holidays! 

I swear if I lived closer to my mom, I would be huge! I joked with my husband that when we know we're going to be visiting, we need to diet beforehand. The woman knows how to cook. While visiting my family during Christmastime, she made homemade buttermilk waffles with homemade buttermilk syrup (move over, maple!), her famous hashbrown potatoes, my dad cooked his amazing steaks, Mom made other hors d'oeuvres, and my family had a Mexican potluck for our Christmas dinner. 

Wow! I have driven this train straight off of the tracks! Haha. Can you tell I'm hungry?

The things I would do for one of her waffles right now...

Anyways, "crash diets" work for me, especially after periods of terrible eating. They help me get my eating in check and make me realize that I really don't need the amount of food that I had been eating. 

I'm very excited because I get to replace 30 ounces of my water today with coffee or green tea. I'm gonna be PUMPED!

And, tomorrow's my last day. :)  I'm not going to jump into how I have been eating; I'm going to follow the TIU plan for the rest of this month to see how it works for me. But, I've already planned Friday night's dinner: chicken taco salad and Chipotle guacamole (attempting a copycat recipe). Dinners are the plan are "lean, mean and green": protein, green veggies and healthy fat.

How do you handle holiday eating? How do you get back on track after one too many treats?

Sunday, January 5, 2014

NY Resolution: Trying to let go of wedding guilt...6 months later

“You can spend minutes, hours, days, weeks, or even months over-analyzing a situation; trying to put the pieces together, justifying what could've, would've happened... or you can just leave the pieces on the floor and move...on.”
Tupac Shakur

I do the above with every situation. EVERY situation. I analyze everything; I beat myself up about everything. I think about everything I would have done, should have done, could have done...and you know what that does for me?


In the spirit of the new year, I'm going to write about one of my new year's resolutions. Yes, I know resolutions are dumb and cliché, but I'm going to write about something that I really need to work on. Being a writer is not always easy, especially when you decide to write about something that pains you. It makes you vulnerable and it opens you up to critique from others. It's also cathartic and soul-cleansing. Therefore, I write.

I am inexplicably, overwhelmingly always racked with guilt. It paralyzes me, keeps me up at night, makes me feel sick, makes me cry for no reason and makes everyone around me, including my sweet husband, think I'm crazy. Except for my mother, because I seem to have inherited this unfortunate character flaw from my gorgeous mum. (Why couldn't I have inherited the gorgeous-ness?)

She's the only one that understands why I will cry myself to sleep over the dumbest things: things that don't even affect me or things that I can in no way control.

How do you stop feeling guilty about everything? How do you stop feeling guilty and badly for the things you have that others don't, or about things you should have/ shouldn't have said or done?

One of the main things I agonize about daily, six months later, is my beautiful wedding, which I understand is absolutely crazy.

Let me explain.

(Disclosure: This is sure to be a weird post, but writing is cheaper than therapy, which I probably need anyways. While writing this, I laughed, I cried, I became angry at myself and realized how dumb I was being, and I feel like I have a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. Continue with caution.)

Guilt: the gift that keeps on giving.
- Erma Bombeck

Guilt's a funny thing.
My wedding was beautiful, the people I loved were there and, yes I will say it, I looked gorgeous. My bouquet was perfect, my bridesmaids were gorgeous, I had a good eyebrow day, and we rode away from the venue in the kind of car I had always dreamed about that a couple from Chase's church generously offered to us free from charge.

Everything I wanted!

Except, there is a long list of things that I feel guilty about:

1. Not being able to enjoy it. In the days leading up to the wedding, I was running around the state of Oklahoma and trying to unpack that the day seemed to appear out of nowhere. I still haven't watched the recording of my wedding. I feel like my wedding should be a time I look fondly on. I do, for its beauty and getting married to Chase, but I have so much guilt, regret and anxiety about the day. RIDIC.

2. Not being able to spend time with my loved ones. I'm sad I didn't get to spend more time with my mom in the months before my wedding. We lived 5 hours apart from each other, I was in my first year of graduate school, and she was in her first year of teaching. It just wasn't the best time to plan a wedding, therefore I didn't enjoy a lot of it.

3. Not being able to spend time with my bridesmaids. I had grand plans for this, but once my friends from out of state came in, we did last minute things, and since the night before the wedding was still full of running around for stuff, I didn't get to spend time with them like I wanted to. It was rush, rush, rush. But know that I love each and every one of you and can't thank you enough for standing with me on my special day.

4. Not being the nicest to my sister. I'll admit that I was a little bit of a bridezilla. My then 15-year-old sister was my maid of honor, and I would get irritated if she didn't reply immediately to my texts about flowers or shoes. I don't think I was outright mean, but she is a teenager and had her own stuff going on. She also lived 5 hours away, and I didn't get to spend enough time with her either.

5. Having my wedding in Norman. My venue was beautiful and I loved that decor and things were provided, but I also had the wedding in a location away from my family and where Chase grew up. I feel so badly that people had to drive, spend the nights, etc. I was trying to pick the best place for us, guests and my out-of-town guests. When you didn't grow up somewhere, it's hard to pick a spot, especially when everyone is all over the state. And I feel badly. Which leads to...

6. My wedding wasn't what I had envisioned, which is no one's fault. I moved back to Oklahoma when I was 18 and didn't really spend time developing any friendships, except for a few. I'm just not a huge "friend" person. I'm all about family (although my bests feel like family!). It wasn't a typical wedding, I don't think. It wasn't like Chase and I had mutual friends or knew a lot of mutual people. On my side, it was my family and a few friends. I probably would have eloped if it had been up to me (I begged Chase multiple times!), but it was important to him that his family and people from the church he grew up in be able to attend. I had an afternoon wedding and although I had a cute popcorn bar and cake, I didn't have a meal. And I feel guilty for that.

7. I didn't get to do everything I wanted. With some things that occurred during our engagement and the days leading up to the wedding, I just didn't get to do everything I wanted. That was my own fault. I should have planned better.

8. Not being thinner/eating less/working out more/getting beauty treatments, etc. Although I do think I looked good on my wedding day, I wish I had lost more weight. And, I was reminded of that by a person close to me when, during dinner a couple days before my wedding, I put a dress on and she told me, "Only skinny people like ********* can wear those kind of dresses." It was hurtful, but I wore the dang dress in all of my curvy glory. I also wish I would have had facials done, etc., but I just didn't have the money at the time. Like I said before, some things just didn't happen as I had wanted them to. Oh, well.

Me in said dress.

9. It's hard for me to watch wedding shows or talk about weddings with other people or even see things about weddings on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest. It makes me think of my guilt and regret about everything I did/didn't do. How crazy am I?

 NOW, here are some things I do love and I tell myself daily (because I agonize about my wedding DAILY) that a wedding is about marriage, not a wedding.

1. And, I have a great marriage. I've had people tell me about their first year of marriage and that it was difficult, but we haven't encountered that yet. Chase and I are best friends. We spend every moment we can together. I honestly never though a love like this could exist, as cheesy as that sounds. He just gets me. We respect each other and do things for each other. We love being around each other, we hardly argue, and marriage has felt like the most natural thing for us.
What matters: By the way, during out first dance, we talked about how long our song was and how hungry we were.
2. We have been so blessed this year. Chase has a great job, I've been blessed with my jobs and graduate school, we have a nice place to live, nice vehicles, we live in a great town, can afford the things we need and want, and we are both healthy.

3. We both have great families that would do anything in the world for us. We are close enough to drive to see our families whenever we want.
4. And SOOOO much more.

Don't get me wrong, my wedding was the best day of my life, because I became Chase's wife and get to spend the rest of my life with him. I'm just crazy.

In addition to everything about the wedding, I just feel guilt about everything (and, I mean EVERYTHING) and I'm tired of it. I constantly feel as though everything bad that happens is my fault. It drains me.

Does anyone else suffer from stupid-guiltitus or is just me and my mom? My mom will also feel guilty about the craziest things sometimes, and we both agree we need to find a guilt-anonymous group. Chase has threatened to slap me every time I say "I feel badly." But, I have yet to stop and he has yet to slap me.

How does everyone else handle guilt?