Bella And The Blonde

Our Past Is Our Future

All of us have pasts. Most of them are good [hopefully! LOL], and there are definitely parts of them that we sure aren’t proud of. For me, personally, I know there are huge chunks of my past that I wish I could just erase from my memory.

For years I was in a relationship with somebody that I never should have been dating in the first place. I got caught up in his “bad boy” image [a phase of life I think most of us gals go through, unfortunately], and inevitably got intertwined in his messy, chaotic world for longer than I would have liked. He was the polar opposite of me in every way, and we rarely got along. Our relationship consisted of constant arguments – we were angry more often than we weren’t. I was deeply unhappy, probably clinically depressed if I’m being brutally honest. I was in the darkest place I’ve ever been, and it’s because I was just a shell of myself. It’s weird to say, but looking back on it now, my memories of that time are like I was living outside of my body, just watching this crazy life happen that wasn’t even mine. The worst part of it all was that I had no idea how to get out of it. I felt completely trapped, and it was a feeling that I was not at all comfortable with. Fortunately, an opportunity arose for me to leave the relationship, and as much as I’d like to say that I’ve never looked back since then.. Well, that would be a lie.

It’s been over two years since I completely cut ties with that person, and yet that chunk of my life with him haunts me nearly every day. For years I’ve held onto so much anger about who he was in our relationship; who I was in that relationship. I’ve resented him for trying to break my spirit, for trying to control me and manipulate me, for trying to isolate me from my friends and family. He tried everything he could to turn me into who he wanted me to be instead of just accepting me for who I was. And I in turn allowed him to treat me the way that he did, and that’s what has weighed heavily on me all this time.

It’s not every day that I wake up with an anxiety about my past, and these days it only happens every once in a while. It’s a constant work-in-progress for me to find forgiveness for that person and the way he treated me, and for myself for allowing it to happen. I didn’t know it back then, but I completely had the power and the resources to get out of that relationship anytime I wanted, but I let the fear of coming clean to my family about the person I was spending my time with hold me back. I let the pride of needing to escape the relationship on my own keep me from seeking help. Pride and jealousy – humankind’s biggest enemies.

I have days where the anger just unexpectedly boils up inside me, trying to rear its ugly head. And the will to regret my past and the decisions I’ve made is always lingering. But the other night I had an epiphany, if you will. I was talking to my wedding coordinator about things suddenly just falling into place for me, as they had for her. And it got me backtracking and reliving the last few years of my life and how I got to where I am today. And as much as I hate the person that I was in that time of my life and the relationship I was in, every decision that I made, and the time that I devoted to that guy, led me to where I am today.

If you don’t follow me in Instagram, then you probably don’t know that I recently got a job working for my wedding coordinator as an assistant event planner and the lead writer for the company blog. It’s a huge deal for me – I have been trying for quite a while to get my own IG and blog off the ground as a source of income, but I don’t have enough of an “angle” to make anything of it. So it’s fallen a bit to the wayside, as my life is, generally, pretty boring LOL. Not boring, but there’s nothing worth writing home about, if you catch my drift.

This job, that seemingly just landed in my lap by the fate of some sort of career gods, really happened to come to me due to a series of events. Events that actually started because of the guy I used to date. Oddly enough, he was the one who encouraged me to leave my job at the restaurant where I was working at the time. He knew how much I hated the wacky hours and not having weekends off, so he told me to apply to some jobs on Craigslist – it couldn’t hurt, right? I remember vividly that it was a Wednesday night – I was up late updating my resume and sending it off to a handful of listings online. The next morning I received a call from one of them, an administrative position at an accounting firm. I interviewed, somehow got the job [in an industry I literally didn’t know anything about], and started immediately. And just like that, I kissed the restaurant world goodbye.

I was with the accounting firm for a couple of years. I’m a fast learner, and they noticed this immediately. They trained me in bookkeeping, and I ended up with several of my own clients that I was responsible for. One of them was an insurance broker for employee benefits, who I communicated with regularly and actually saw once a week to exchange documents for their books. As a very detail-oriented and organized person, it wasn’t long before I didn’t have enough work to do around the office. Tasks that initially took me a whole week now only took me a few hours. My boss could tell I was bored, but his client base was focused on small businesses, and he didn’t have any other clients for me to take on. As luck would have it, the insurance company suddenly had an administrative opening; since I already knew the COO via email, and, coincidentally, one of the owners knew my dad, I interviewed for the job and got the offer on the spot. I was whisked from one industry to another that I knew nothing about. Another job where I’d have to start from ground zero and learn everything there was to know.

The health insurance industry is very small. I mean, it’s BIG, but it’s small. Everybody knows each other. I’ve made a lot of friends in my office, as well as in other companies. One of them is my friend Jenny – when we met we just vibed. We have the same sense of humor, and want the same things out of life. She’s one of the strongest women I know – she refuses to fail. She defines the word perseverance. It was through Jenny that I met Mitch – the man that in just under five months I will vow my love and my life to. And through planning my wedding I hired a coordinator who just so happened to grow up with my groom-to-be, and eventually found my niche in the wedding planning industry. And it all started because of a person who, despite all of our issues and arguments, actually is the reason that I am where I am today. How’s that for some perspective?

I have been so fortunate to meet a man who loves me just as I am. Who knows that I can be feisty and unreasonable and just works with me instead of against me. It’s because of my past that I appreciate what my life is today. And despite the occasional desperate desire to block out chunks of my past, every inch of it has defined me and put me on the path to my present and my future.

And the funny thing is, that guy is where he is today because he met me.

If I was a stoner I would probably get off on a tangent right now about how our entire lives are predestined for us when we are born, but that’s a different blog post for another day.

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Potty Training Otis + Why We Didn’t Use Potty Pads

One of the best things about spring is that it’s the perfect time to bring a furry friend into your home. With the longer days and the improving weather, it’s much easier than winter to exercise and train your pet.

When Mitch and I adopted Otis, it was late October. In Sacramento [lately, at least], this just means Indian Summer. The days are still very warm, and the nights are cool but tolerable. We weren’t expecting much, if any, rain until late December or January. With Mitch never having a puppy before, and with me never experiencing a small puppy before, neither of us knew what to expect when it came to potty training. The Dobermans weren’t fully potty trained until ten months old [much of this could be due to the fact that they lived in an apartment for the first couple years of their lives – it’s a pain in the butt to potty train dogs in an apartment complex]. With this in mind, we ended up buying some potty pads for our new pup, just in case. We figured that if he had an accident in the play pen we’d purchased for him, it would at least be an easy cleanup.

Within two days, Otis made it abundantly clear that he would not be confined. The pen we’d gotten him was soft and collapsible, like a camping tent, so even for a tiny four pound puppy, it was easy to destroy. He started biting, tearing and digging in the mesh siding, screaming at the top of his lungs, and trying to jump over the top of it. The potty pads became fun toys to rip apart instead of using them for their actual purpose, so we ended up abandoning the playpen idea altogether. It clearly wasn’t going to work. [Note to readers: if you get a new puppy, don’t buy the soft, collapsible playpen like we did! invest in a pricier metal one – heavier duty and impossible for a puppy to knock over, jump over and destroy].

Without the playpen, there really was no reason to keep utilizing the potty pads. With as much traveling as we do, we didn’t want Otis to learn that it was okay to go potty inside the house – any house. We knew that between Tahoe and Capitola, and leaving the dogs overnight with family and friends when we travel solo, that sporadically placing potty pads all over the place just wouldn’t be an option. So, with this in mind, we decided to brave regular potty training.

Since I had potty trained dogs before, I knew that Otis would need to go outside at least every hour. And with his bladder being half the size of any other dogs I’d potty trained in the past, he’d likely have to go out even more. It didn’t help that in his first day with us, he’d followed Bella to her water bowl and figured out how to drink out of it. This meant he could help himself any time he wanted, and that we had to watch him like a hawk. While he did have a handful of accidents in the house, he actually did really well considering his small bladder. It’s possible that it helped having six-year-old Bella in the house, since he definitely learned from her how to tap on the door when he needs to go out.

If you’re considering adopting a small dog, or recently have, and are trying to figure out the whole potty training situation, here are a few of my quick tips and tricks from a dog mama who’s just recently wrapped up that portion of the training.

Tip #1: If you can, monitor water consumption and take the pup out to go potty accordingly. The more water they drink, the more they’ll have to go. Also, small dogs can be put on a feeding schedule just like large dogs – feed your new pup three times a day until he/she is about 6 months old, then wean off of puppy food and switch to adult dog food and two meals a day. Keep in mind that smaller dogs not only have smaller bladders, but smaller digestive tracts, too. They will likely have to poop within 20-40 minutes of feeding. Every pup is different, so you’ll just have to watch and learn your puppy’s tendencies. The bonus of getting your dog on a set feeding schedule is that this creates high food motivation, which makes training easier! Dogs who free-feed are less likely to care about treats as a reward for good behavior.

Tip #2: Get your pup onto a potty schedule. Be sure to make him/her go #1 and #2 right before bed time. You may have to wait outside with the pup for a bit before you get both, but this will help prevent middle-of-the-night accidents. When you get the puppy up in the morning, go outside immediately and give praise for a successful trip. Usually a high quality treat [aka something that gets your hands greasy and leaves a residue] will mark the behavior pretty quickly.

Tip #3: Try not to let your pup roam freely through your entire home right away. Block off sections or quarantine an area that is easy to clean up in case of an accident. Bonus if the door to go out is accessible from this area – it will make it easier for your pup to learn where to go when he/she needs to go potty.

Tip #4: If you catch your pup in the act of having an accident, quickly pick him up and take him outside to where you’d like him to go potty. Likely he’ll already be done relieving himself by the time you get him outside, but this will help to teach him that this is where you want him to go, instead of inside the house.

Tip #5: Consistency is KEY! Don’t ever give up. Puppies are frustrating and, as grown adults, what seems like the simplest task for us is literally not understandable from a dog’s perspective. They don’t speak our language, which is why repetition is vital to successful training. Smaller dogs can be extremely stubborn, too, which is why it’s even more important to stay strong when it comes to their potty training. They will eventually understand what you’re asking them.

Good luck to you if you’ve just adopted a puppy! Or even a grown dog from a shelter! It’s an exciting step to take in your life, and dogs bring so much joy and happiness to the soul. Don’t be fooled – they are a lot of work and take a lot of time and energy, but they are so worth it!


As always, please do your research before you bring a furry friend into your home. Find out if the breed and its energy will be right for your family, how busy you are and your activity levels. If you’re adopting from a shelter, learn all you can about the dog’s personality and its odd tendencies before you bring it home. The reason so many dogs end up in shelters is because people give up on their dogs. So few of us actually know that dogs become “teenagers” at roughly six to nine months old. They become rebellious, destructive and hyperactive. They seem to never tire, and completely forget all of their training. Almost ALL dogs do this! It’s important as a responsible dog owner to push through the hard months until the wild phase calms down. It WILL calm down! Exercise is important, and getting your dog OUT OF THE HOUSE. Having a large backyard to run in is like a gigantic cage for a dog. This is not exercise.

Also, be sure to socialize your dog heavily from six months to a year old. This is a prime age for them to learn social queues, and often times they can turn aggressive if not socialized enough or properly [aggression due to fear of other dogs, lack of social knowledge, or anxiety felt from the owner are all common]. If you are afraid to do this on your own, take your dog to obedience training at your local Petco or PetSmart – the trainers there are qualified to socialize your dog properly.

I am not an expert nor am I professionally trained in anything, but I’ve raised a lot of dogs, two of which have been an “aggressive” breed. I’ve done enough of my own research, both online and through trial-and-error, to know for my own personal life and that of my dogs what’s right and wrong. I’m always open to answer any questions you may have, whether it be food, training, adoptions, etc. related.

[Current] Favorite Skincare Products From A Girl With Enough Facial Oil Production To Run A Car

For months I have been trying to write a post for my blog about skincare. And not just any type of skincare, but skincare for those of us with oily skin.

To be honest with you all, I have really been struggling with producing a good enough post to publish. I keep starting a post, taking a break from it, going back to it, erasing everything I’d previously written, and starting the process over again. And then again. And then once again. Why has it been so difficult for me to get this damn post going? If you have oily skin, you know firsthand how impossible it is to find products that work well. The last fifteen years of my life have been an ongoing search to find decent products for oily skin. Let me tell you, it’s been exhausting and expensive!

When you have oily skin, you can’t use any oil-based products [contrary to the popular belief that adding oil to your skin will reduce the need for your skin to product more oil – this is false! well, at least for me, personally]. You also can’t use any products with “dirty” ingredients [aka they should be paraben-free, sulfite-free, cruelty-free – basically anything that will clog your pores]. Oily skin is always a culprit of enlarged pores. Which also means lots of blackheads and clogging >>> acne [yuck!].

The last few years, I’ve become obsessed with my skin and finding products that work. After roughly 16 or 17 years of dealing with oily, acne-prone, and blackhead-ridden skin, I’m sick of it! I’m tired of having to reapply makeup midday, I’m tired of looking like I have giant black freckles all over my nose and chin, and I’m tired of having to wash my face with three different types of cleanser before finally ridding it of all dirt, grease and grime [and this only last for, like, maybe an hour until it all comes right back]. And after countless products and treatments and thousands of dollars spent, you know what I’ve discovered that works? Absolutely NOTHING. Well, nothing long-term, at least..

A couple of years ago, I had my first ever facial. It was wonderful! My skin felt so clean after, and my esthetician praised my skin. “Oily skin is the keeper of youth!” She exclaimed to me. Apparently the overproduction of oil keeps the wrinkles at bay. Something that, at nearly 31 with almost no wrinkles to speak of [save for a few laugh lines around my eyes], I guess I should be grateful for [especially after years of cooking myself in tanning beds – yikes! note to younger generation, DON’T GO TO THE TANNING BED! if you must be tan, get a spray tan or use at-home self-tanners! stay tuned for a blog post on the self-tanners I love]. I ended up purchasing five products she recommended to help to minimize the oil production [only two of which I’ve continued to use], and a year later invested in a Clarisonic, another product she recommended I purchase, which I now use religiously every morning.

SO, since I’ve deduced that this oily skincare thing is an ongoing experiment with no foreseeable end in sight, I’m listing below the products I am currently using for exfoliating, cleansing and moisturizing. Stay tuned for posts to come on face masks I use and love, as well as makeup products I can’t live without.

AM PRODUCTS:

Circadia by Dr. Pugliese Micro-Exfoliating Honey Cleanser: This is one of the two products I continue to use from my esthetician that I absolutely LOVE. It’s a gentle exfoliant so it doesn’t scratch the skin or cause any irritation. It’s also not overly drying, which can be a huge side effect for many facial exfoliants. I use this first thing in the morning to start the cleansing process – it really helps to get some of the overnight grime off my face and loosens up some of the other, underlying stuff that it isn’t quite strong enough to remove on its own. If I’m running behind or only have time for a quick wash, this is my go-to. While it does exfoliate, it also cleanses, which is an absolute must for me.

Clarisonic Deep Pore Cleansing: The great thing about Clarisonic is that the products are completely customizable for your skin type. If you go to their website, you can locate the correct cleansers and brushes based on whether your skin is dry or oily, or if you are just simply looking for an anti-aging product. I use the deep pore cleansing brush and cleanser directly after the honey exfoliant to finish cleaning out my pores. Note that when you first start using these products you will likely experience some dry skin and peeling – just be sure to have good moisturizers on hand to help with re-moisturizing the skin properly afterward [<– I say “properly” because lots of moisturizers are cheap and won’t absorb into the skin – instead they just sit on the surface and cause buildup]!

Drunk Elephant Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser: I actually just started using this cleanser since I got a sample of it with a makeup purchase from Sephora and I love it! So far it’s been a great post exfoliating step in the cleansing process to really finishing wiping away all of the dirt and grime shaken out of my pores from the exfoliant and the Clarisonic. Another thing I love about this product is that a little bit goes a LONG way, which, when it comes to expensive skincare products, is ideal! I also like that it doesn’t overly dry out my skin, which is important for oily-prone skin types. Over drying of the skin can and will cause over oil production, which is what we are trying to avoid.

Thayers Witch Hazel Toner: This is the final step in my cleansing process. I’ve gone back-and-forth between whether or not toner is really a necessary step in the cleansing process – it’s supposed to help close your pores and balance the skin’s pH after cleansing. I can’t say for sure that it really does either of these things, not for me at least, but it does clean off any lingering oil, dirt and makeup which, for a large-pored, greasy skinned gal like me, is good enough! You’d be surprised how much dirt and grease can be leftover on the skin, even after three steps of cleansing! It’s actually pretty appalling. Another reason I love this toner is that’s alcohol free!

After my four-step cleansing process, I apply my moisturizer. During the winter, or if I’ve introduced a new cleanser into my routine and I’m experiencing more dryness than usual, I will sometimes apply several layers of moisturizer until my skin feels soft and hydrated again. As good as it feels to have dry skin when you’re accustomed to the opposite, this is the worst thing you can do when you have oily skin. Dry skin = oil production. When you’ve already got oil, the last thing you need is more. Also, I alternate between several different types of face moisturizers, depending on what I feel like my skin needs. They are all day and night friendly, so can be used either in the morning or at night before bed. I’ve listed them all below.

Youth to the People Eye Cream: I actually discovered this product while searching Sephora online for a vegan product. I’ve never used any thing fully vegan before, but I thought my eyes would be a great place to start a sort of testing process. So far, I love it! It definitely moisturizes without clogging my pores. One thing you need to remember is that regular face moisturizers won’t work for moisturizing around your eyes. Your pores are different sizes, and the face formulas will not soak into eye pores and therefore just end up resting on top of your skin and adding another layer of gunk – again, not oily skin friendly!

GlamGlow Volcasmic Matte Moisturizer: This product also came to me in a sample pack around Christmas time, and I love how moisturizing it is. During the winter, this product was a lifesaver for keeping my skin hydrated. As we move into warmer weather, I am starting the process of phasing this product out, as it has a little bit too much moisture for the summer months in Sacramento.

ModVellum Day & Night Moisturizer: This was the other product I purchased from my eshtetician that I’ve continued to use all this time. I absolutely LOVE this moisturizer – it’s just hydrating enough to make your skin feel moisturized, but not to the point where it starts to feel greasy. This is a great product for summer and for places that are a little more humid.

Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream: I just got this in a sample pack so I haven’t used to too much yet, but I love it’s “just hydrated enough” feel. Similar to the ModVellum moisturizer, it’s not overly hydrating, so it’s perfect as the weather starts to warm up and the humidity amps up a little bit.

Dermalogica Solar Defense Booster SPF50: Okay I lied, this is the third product I’ve kept from my esthetician. And this also is a “little goes a long way” product – all you need is two small dabs to mix in with your moisturizer! I use it in conjunction with all of my moisturizers, and I love it because it’s not greasy and doesn’t take ages to dry like regular sunscreens. It mixes easily with your moisturizer and soaks smoothly into the skin. Plus, I love that it’s SPF50 because as I’ve gotten older, my skin has gotten way more sensitive to the sun! While my cursed oily skin has been a blessing in the wrinkle department, I definitely do not want to fight the anti-aging qualities of oily skin by not using sunscreen.

PM PRODUCTS:

Neutrogena Makeup Remover Cleansing Towlettes: I’ve tried several different types of makeup removing wipes, but I like these ones the best. I keep a pack of these in my gym bag, and a pack of them in my makeup drawer. I always wipe my face makeup off before working out so the makeup on my skin doesn’t clog my pores when my body is trying to sweat. I also use one before I wash my face. Although the oil on my face tends to act as a self cleaner and most days my makeup ends up just beading away, my large pores also suck makeup into them. Using a wipe before cleansing actually clears the surface of my face of any oils and whatever makeup is left, allowing the cleansers I use afterward to actually clean the underlying layers. In the past, I’ve tried to just wash the makeup off my face with a cleanser, and there’s so much makeup left behind that it caused my skin to overproduce oil and my pores ended up getting clogged.

Dove White Beauty Bar: Yup, this is just plain ol’ bar soap! I honestly can’t remember how I came to end up using this everyday drugstore soap, but I love it. It doesn’t over dry my skin, and due to the fact that it’s designed to clean dirt off your hands, legs, arms, etc., I kind of figure, why can’t it work for the face, too? And it does! I use this after the Neutrogena towlettes because it’s terrible at removing face makeup, but it’s great at cleansing off oils and eye makeup. This Dove soap really leaves my skin feeling clean and soft, which is ideal for oily skin.

Kate Somerville Detox Daily Cleanser: I use this product about once or twice a week when I’m feeling like my skin needs a little extra cleansing. Every once in a while, after so many days of running and working out after work, I’ll start to get little tiny bumps on my skin – they’re not whiteheads or blackheads, so I’m not exactly sure what they are. But it’s a clear sign that my skin needs a little more TLC. I’ll lather some of this on my face after the Dove soap and it just adds another round of gentle cleansing to my skin, and, like the other products I love, it doesn’t over dry.

After my nighttime cleansing routine, I’ll either throw on a face mask [stay tuned for a post on all the masks I’m loving], or I’ll follow with my same morning toner and moisturizing products. Sometimes I’ll just use toner and let my skin breathe and be product-free overnight. It never seems to change the outcome in the morning [as in, my face is still a freakin’ grease ball], but I like to think it’s good for it to have some time every so often without the constant layering of products.

I can’t promise that any of these products will help you or work for your skin. And I’m only sharing what’s working for me right now. As I mentioned before, this whole skincare process is ever-evolving for me and I’m constantly trying new products [one of the many reasons I love the free samples that get thrown in when you buy makeup!]. My one piece of advice for you is that you do your own research when it comes to what works for your skin. As much as I’d like to trust a professional with their products and opinions, you have to take what they say with a grain of salt, as they are often trying to just make money off of you. Truth be told, they don’t always know what’s best. Know your skin, know what you’re sensitive to, and don’t continue using a product if it irritates your skin. Save your receipts! Most places will allow you to return products if they aren’t working for you.

Stay tuned for posts to come on makeup products I use, face masks, and other skincare treatments like chemical peels, facials and dermaplaning!

Springtime: Sunshine, Flowers, BBQs and.. Bugs?

Before reading the below, please bear in mind that I am not a licensed veterinarian, dog trainer, or doctor. I am in no way affiliated with any products or vaccinations noted below. All opinions are my own, and all facts and ideas mentioned in the following are due to my own personal research and conversations with professionals. As always, be sure to consult your own veterinarian and/or pet doctor before utilizing any new products on/with/for your pet. ALWAYS do your own research. It’s important to know your pets and to keep a close eye on how they react to certain lifestyle changes, medications, food choices, etc. Since they can’t speak to us, it’s our job to make sure we do right by them.


You know those Disney princess movies where the girl is in the garden twirling around, or getting dressed by woodland animals and birds and is just singing a happy, upbeat tune? That’s how I feel when winter starts turning into spring. When the days start getting longer, the air stays warm well after the sun goes down, and the sunrise creeps up just a little bit earlier every day. I love it! I love spring and I love the warm weather. It puts me in such a good mood!

My dogs love the heat, too. Every weekday afternoon I come home for lunch to make a salad and to let the pups out to stretch their legs. When the weather starts getting nice, I’ll leave the slider open while I prepare my lunch, and the pups will just be basking out on the lawn, soaking in the glorious spring sunshine. There is something about that molten ball of fire that just makes the soul feel GOOD.

The one downfall about spring, though, is that it means bugs. Yuck! Unfortunately with the promise of heat also comes the onslaught of bees, flies, fleas, ticks and – the worst – mosquitos! Insects that we humans can at least wear clothing and repellent to keep away. Our dogs, though.. They don’t have such a luxury.

If it were up to me, I would vaccinate my dogs one time as pups and then never again. But, unfortunately, I do not trust other dog owners, and I board my dogs, so they must be regularly vaccinated in order to protect against diseases that other untreated dogs may possibly carry. Among these preventative measures are the canine versions of bug repellent [aka flea and tick ointment and heart worm prevention]. Unfortunately, these tiny pests bother our pets just as much as they bother people! And, just as they do for humans, they carry nasty diseases that can infect your precious fur baby.

As the majorly forward thinking and research obsessed dog mom that I am, I always want to give my dogs the least dangerous medications as possible. I’ve mentioned before how thankful I am for my vet, and this is yet another reason why I just adore her. She is avidly against giving your pets any unnecessary medications – in her opinion, this includes flea and tick and heart worm preventative. As a professional veterinarian, a breeder, and a woman who shows her dogs, she believes that anything unnatural can be harmful to your pet, which is why she does not administer anything to her dogs outside of regular vaccinations [bordatella (kennel cough), rabies and distemper/parvo]. While I agree with the good doctor, I know her show dogs are not out hiking on the weekends and running around off trail in muddy swamp water and unkempt fields. Places where mosquitos, fleas and ticks love to hang out and breed. Places where my dogs also love to frolic because, as one time wild animals, those sorts of activities speak to their goofy canine souls.

I’ve never used bottom-of-the-barrel flea and tick preventatives. I’ve always used Frontline or K9-Advantix (I or II), in addition to a heart worm preventative available only by prescription from my veterinarian. Recently, during Otis’ last trip to the vet [just for a routine, puppy bordatella vaccine, thank goodness], my veterinarian was educating me on doggy bug repellent. She advised me to stop using Frontline and Advantix, as the fleas are starting to become immune to them and they are toxic to dogs. As I mentioned before, she recommended I use nothing, but I told her I couldn’t due to the activities my dogs are involved in, and that I didn’t feel comfortable exposing them to the elements without some sort of protection. She recommended we stick to Revolution, which is not only a flea and tick preventative, but a heart worm preventative as well. A three-in-one! And not horrible for your pets, either. She gave me a few months worth for each of my dogs and sent me on my way.

If your dogs are active like mine, I highly recommend consulting with your vet about getting your pups on the proper preventatives for the upcoming spring, summer and warmer fall months. The bugs and the diseases they carry are only getting worse, and preventative care is always cheaper than treatment. ALWAYS. Also, always remember to check your dogs for ticks after you take them in a field somewhere. EVERY TIME! Even if you have your pup on a preventative medicine, ticks can still find their way onto your pet [they just won’t last very long if your dog’s been treated]. Especially if your dogs have longer hair, the ticks can get nestled up in all kinds of places – before they’ve broken skin and taken their fill, they are very small and hard to find [be sure to check yourself, too! especially if you’re a male – if you’ve got long hair, ticks can and will grab onto it, just as they do to dogs.. gross, I know!].

All-in-all, as always, treat your pets like equal members of your family. You’ve taken on the responsibility to care for them, therefore you should be okay with the financial backing it takes to keep them healthy [again, preventative care is cheaper than treatment]. If your pets are healthy, annual trips to the vet are all you’ll need! And with the internet, social media, and email, it’s so easy to be in touch with your vet at a moment’s notice if you feel like something isn’t right.

Whole 30: My Journey [Week 2]

You can’t ever really anticipate how difficult a change in eating habits is going to be. I mean, you think you know, but once you’re in it, it’s so much harder. Especially when, even though you live with someone, you’re ultimately on your own [my fiancé, who I love dearly, barely made it three days before deciding he could not go without grains or dairy].

The first week of Whole 30, I was strong. I was excited about the challenge of cooking meals without grains, beans, dairy, sugar and processed food. I started off with a major bang, and was on such a high from immediately feeling the positive effects on my body from cutting out all of these food groups.

The second week, though.. I felt like I’d hit my max on creativity. Even though I’d purchased the Whole 30 cookbook, I felt like everything was the same. The truth is, none of the recipes are even remotely similar, but because I was already getting burned out, I was getting lazy. It wasn’t too hard to avoid dairy or gluten, since I don’t eat much of either of those on a daily basis anyway, but avoiding all grains and even corn on top of that? That was difficult for me. In situations where I’d normally substitute quinoa or add a corn product for flavor, I couldn’t! Also, most of the recipes I found were calling for a slow cooker, which I don’t have [yet.. there’s one on my registry! – *hint hint* to those of you invited to my wedding :)].

Luckily, I know something about myself that will hopefully keep me going with this diet – I have a tendency to cop out when things get “difficult.” I give up, I throw in the towel. I fall off the wagon, if you will. But having a track record of this and having a resolution to have more willpower this year is what’s helping me to maintain my motivation to climb this 30 day mountain [of which I have 23 days left.. but who’s counting?].

In short – week two of Whole 30 has been hard. But I have to remember that it’s mind over matter. I have survived much more difficult obstacles in my life than temporarily cutting out certain types of food.

Any of you guys have recommendations on how to keep my momentum going with this diet [and continuing to eat healthy moving forward]? Would love to hear thoughts and recommendations!

Also, a little sidenote, if you’re considering doing W30, I highly suggest doing it in the winter! Almost all of the recipes are heavy and winter-y and, in my opinion, seem like they’d be way too filling and uncomfortably warm for the summer months.

Whole 30: My Journey [Week 1]

Earlier this week, I came home from a run with the dogs, took a quick shower, and, upon surveying  the current state of my body in the nude, had a full-blown meltdown to my fiance. “Our wedding is in six months! My arms are fat and my stomach is disgusting! I’m eating healthy, I’m working out, and nothing is happening! I don’t know what else to do.” [I know all you ladies can relate to this].

He, of course, thinks I look beautiful, and assures me every single day that even if I actually got fat [because, let’s be honest, I’m definitely not even close to “overweight” in any sense of the word], he would still love me as much as he always has. Of course it feels good to hear praise from your S.O., but let’s be honest – regardless of how many people tell you how good you look, you ultimately have to feel good to yourself. When I explained this to him, he threw out a suggestion, “Why don’t we do Whole 30?”

I’d heard of Whole 30 before. A couple of my friends had done it before and had huge success with it. I agreed to give it ago without doing any research beforehand. How hard could it be? I was pretty sure all you had to do was eliminate gluten and dairy. I could do that for thirty days, no problem.

It turns out it’s much, MUCH more than that.

When we decided to the Whole 30, I immediately went online and ordered the book and the cookbook, and start scouring Pinterest for any Whole 30 friendly recipes I could make in the meantime while I waited for the books to be delivered. I found three right off the bat that looked delicious, and prepped for the next three dinners of the week. My fiance [who really only ever eats dinner due to his work schedule and doesn’t actually need to do any sort of dieting], didn’t even last one meal without adding cheese and sauces that were on the no-no list. That was fine with me, as long as he was okay with me making the base of the meal, he could add all the crap he wanted. In my mind I was sure that I could make it 30 days without dairy and gluten NO PROBLEM.

The books finally arrived on the third day of my “diet,” and within the first two chapters of learning about Whole 30, I quickly realized there were a lot more things on the bad food list than I’d anticipated. Anything underneath the grain umbrella was restricted – including quinoa, corn and rice. All beans and legumes, peas, processed dairy and unnatural sugars were also not allowed. I immediately panicked. I’d anticipated cutting out two food groups, not FIVE. After reading a giant list of foods I couldn’t eat, I wasn’t even sure what I had left to choose from.

It turns out, there’s a lot more than I thought. Any type of meat, greens, eggs, veggies [minus peas], and potatoes are all on the approved list of foods. Pre-made sauces and dressings were out of the question due to added sugars, but I discovered plenty of recipes teaching you how to make your own. Instead of feeling disheartened, I started to see the fun challenge that the Whole 30 would bring for me. I had the opportunity to make fun new dishes with homemade sauces! And the first three days of trying new recipes had been extremely enjoyable for me, not to mention I had already noticed little changes in my body: I wasn’t waking up starving in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning. I wasn’t having cravings, I wasn’t feeling bloated after meals, and I didn’t have an energy crash in the middle of the day. Even my mood had improved, despite it being my “PMS” week. I decided that if three days could make that much of a difference, ten times that could only be something short of miraculous.

With these feelings and hopes in the forefront of my mind, I am embarking on this new food journey with end goals, a plan in mind, and a new cookbook to boot. I would love to hear from anybody who has tried Whole 30 or something similar like a paleo or vegan diet [since there is a lot of crossover]! Part of my success will be learning what has worked for other people and what hasn’t.

Yes, It IS Possible To Keep Your Bachelorette Budget-Friendly!

The time has come. It’s almost springtime, the weather is about to warm up. Your best friend is getting married and her last wish as a bride-to-be is to have all of her closest gal pals with her to celebrate. The only problem? It’s a destination bachelorette weekend and cost is shaping up to be about $2,000 a person. Not only does your budget not allow for that, but you also can’t afford to take two full days off of work to travel.

How can we remedy this? How can we make it so everyone can afford to celebrate you without breaking the bank? I’ve been invited to a few destination bachelorettes that ended up being pretty costly, and while I enjoyed every minute of the trips, there was an underlying stress of finances the entire time.

The truth is, I love any excuse to travel, especially with a group of friends. In fact, I am doing a destination bachelorette of my own! But I am also doing everything in my power to make sure it’s affordable for everyone.

If you’re hoping to do a destination bachelorette, be okay with less-than-swanky accommodations. Keep in mind that your friends are already shelling out some major dough on travel alone, and if you’re hoping to partake in some fun activities wherever you go, cutting corners when and where you can is ideal. AirBnB and VRBO are great go-to’s for finding a place to stay. Remember that you will probably only be at the house or in your room for sleeping and getting ready, so you and your friends should be more than okay with any place that’s clean and liveable.

Compiling a list of things you want to do during your bach is a new norm, but that doesn’t mean everything on your to-do list has to be crossed off. If you have girlfriends planning the weekend, be sure to stress to them that you don’t expect everything to be done. Again, everything costs money! And we’re approaching an age where the friends who can’t afford to do stuff will actually refuse to participate due to cost. It’s no fun for you or your friends if not everyone can afford to be in on the fun!

Even though you are the bride and your friends want to pamper you, take any and every opportunity you can to offer to help pay for things. Your friends may not let you, but at least you tried – believe it or not, this gesture will be hugely appreciated by the women in your life.

As ideal as a destination bachelorette would be, it’s totally okay to find something fun to do closer to home. You could do a spa night at someone’s home, complete with brand new bathrobes, face masks, manis/pedis, massages. There are crews you can pay to come to your home to do all of that! And at a cost that’s much cheaper than a weekend getaway. It’s the perfect way to pamper yourself right before your wedding. You could rent a limo and go wine tasting for a day. There are tons of options to keep it close-to-home and still lots of fun [scroll to bottom to see my list of bank-account-friendly bachelorette ideas]!

If you can’t part with the idea of going out of town, try heading to a place within a couple hours drive of your hometown. It cuts down on travel costs for your gals, which provides a little more cushion for being able to afford doing fun activities over the weekend.

Matching bachelorette tanks are all the rage right now, but it’s a completely unnecessary expense. Instead of making everyone pay $20+ for a custom screen tee [that, let’s be honest, nobody will ever wear again], tell your buds to hold onto the cash for brunch and mimosas on the town, or an Uber ride home from the bars. [Or, offer to pay for the shirts yourself].

If having some sort of bachelorette weekend memorabilia is a non-negotiable for you, try treating your friends to a fun souvenir like wine glasses with their initials, or travel cups with their names. I’ve also seen custom beach towels, which would be really fun for a bach weekend in San Diego, or a poolside spot in Palm Springs [check Etsy! tons of great ideas].

One of the best ways to cut down on cost for a destination bach is to bring in your own food. This will really only work if you’re renting a house or a hotel room with a kitchenette, but if that’s the route you go, definitely plan on cooking at home one night. This can be turned into a fun game night, and the evening when the bride opens her lingerie gifts.

Remember that your bachelorette weekend isn’t about topping other girls’ trips, it’s about making memories with your best girl friends. Keep that in mind when you’re trying to decide what to do for your big event. Regardless of where you go or what you do, if you have all of your friends there, you will have the time of your life.


Bachelorette On A Budget:

  • limo rental + wine tasting for the day
  • at home spa night – hire a company to come in and give manis, pedis, facials and massages
  • brew bike
  • 3 day cruise [there are tons of these through Carnival and they are very affordable!]
  • food tour of your local city
  • cooking class
  • hiking
  • wine + painting class
  • travel to destination locations during off-season when prices are lower
  • ski/snowboard day
  • rent a pontoon boat on your local lake and tool around listening to music and making memories