A Vegan Diet on a Budget: Harmonizing your Mind + Wallet

Have you ever arrived at the store and wondered, what the hell am I doing here?

I feel like it happens to all of us at some point or another. But what if I told you three easy steps to not only make food shopping an easier process but all of those foods were vegan and didn’t sacrifice on flavor either. Not only that but WHAT IF you could supply consciously bought food that’s good for you, your family AND your wallet – totaling everything out to around 100 dollars. Here we’ll go over three ways to switch to a low-cost vegan diet that WON’T kill your bank account. If ethical reasoning is more of a concern than cost, know that vegans spare the lives of about 190 animals a year, and their carbon footprint is about half of the average meat + dairy consumer. With that in consideration, even participating in Meatless Monday can make a huge difference.

It all starts at home believe it or not.

You might have heard the saying “abs are made in the kitchen” but maybe it might be easier to start with something a little less abrasive. Instead of your health movement focusing so much on the physical outcome, let’s tone it down a notch. We can further simplify this statement to the well-known Hippocrates quote “let food be thy medicine”. Though, if we think of it – that’s where it really starts – is in the kitchen!

Taking this time to slow it down does your mentality some good in my eyes. Making it more health-focused is a positive start on this journey. Honestly, if you don’t have your “why” down – it probably won’t stick. Even if you don’t have the time, energy, or funds to get into a gym, following even this ONE step can make a huge impact. Little changes can lead up to big changes. After a while, you’ll likely feel the difference in your physical and mental function after certain foods. Giving yourself the space to set yourself up to meet your goals for the whole week is a privilege in itself! I have vegan recipes like low-fat gluten-free pesto and buffalo seitan with blue cheese kale that I rotate in my own monthly meal planning.

Vegan food
Buffalo Seitan Blue Cheese Kale
vegan food on a budget
Vegan GF Pesto

It’s okay if you’re not the best at cooking either, that comes with time! The fact that you’re even reading this is opening the pathway to change! Being a vegan for over a decade has taught me so many things, and the biggest misconception about a vegan diet (besides the whole protein thing) is that it’s expensive.

Know that you’re taking this time to benefit your body with wholesome, delicious foods. By using a few hours once a week – you’re setting yourself up for sucess for the coming week.

Bringing a grocery list eliminates the chance of splurging on items you don’t actually need.

After shopping this way a few times, it’s second nature to me. I go in for exactly what I need, and nothing else. Since I’m pretty familiar with my local whole foods, I know what I’ll need to outsource. Offsetting the cost of boxed items in whole foods is a GAME CHANGER.

I utilize Thrive Market for all of my items I’d normally buy in the boxed and packaged section. Think dry goods, pasta, snacks, and supplements. You can get 25% off using my link, but under no obligation are you required to. I just want to share what I believe to be an awesome tool at budgeting a vegan diet. The only time I defer from using this app is emergencies, and every time that happens my wallet suffers. You can even toggle lifestyle choices like “vegan diet” or “gluten-free” for easy purchasing.

For in-store purchasing, I like to use the app Planny to go with my written list, and you can check off items as you go. You can digitize your daily check-list to help with optimal routine productivity.

Plan, plan, PLAN. I’m talking workbooks, excel sheets, pintrest folders – everything!

When done right, meal planning won’t be extremely difficult, and only involves minimal planning. Remember the goal is NOT a race towards health, its to enjoy the ride! When starting out, planning a different meal plan each week might be the best. I prepare two meals, and a snack for each day since I mostly intermittent fast through the week and don’t usually eat breakfast (I have an easy intro guide here!)

I make a monthly meal-prep list, which isn’t as daunting as it sounds. Since I buy in bulk whenever cost-effective, I prefer a months view to encourage variability with my meals. I source most of my meals from Pintrest, and even when I don’t directly source a vegan meal from there – I find a LOT of inspiration there, and in the vegan community on Instagram. As I said, I plan lunch, and dinner, with a snack to add in. Personally, I like to come up with some ideas well before the actual day I’ll be prepping to ensure a solid structure. I loosely follow my macros, and strive to have a 65-100g of protien depending on my daily activites.

I’m working on building a vegan meal plan that will be available soon! It’ll include a grocery list, nutritional info, and I’m hoping some video content sometime in the very near future! So make sure you’re subscribed to my newsletter, and following on your favorite social media for updates on exactly when!

Infront of Boca Raton Whole Foods

So what it really comes down to is this:

Following a vegan diet CAN be expensive – but doesn’t HAVE to be. When you shy away from processed foods and rely more on whole nutritious food, the difference can be life-changing.

1. A successful, proportionate vegan diet starts at home in the kitchen.

2. Bringing a grocery list and STICKING TO IT is essential!

3. Plan absolutely EVERYTHING so you won’t get tired of your prepped meals or run out of food.

A little bonus tip: don’t be afraid to get creative! If things don’t work out, odds are you’ll learn something from trying. I’ve created some of my best recipies in failed attempts.

Intermittent fasting made easy – tips and tricks

Have you ever wondered what in the world is intermittent fasting?

 Does it just make you think of not eating for an entire day? That’s far from the truth – though I’m working my way to a day fast if we’re being honest. Intermittent fasting is a cycling pattern between eating and fasting.  

Some people report higher energy levels, less brain fog, and curbed cravings. I used to be one of those people that got hangry, you know – hungry and angry? Like to the MAX. Since starting intermittent fasting I really notice a difference when it comes to my appetite and how to control it. 

Common cycles include: 

16:8 (16 hours fasting – 8 hour eating window.)

18:16 (18 hours fasting – 6 hour eating window.)

12:12 (sunrise to sunset)

Extended day fasts

With the paleo diet on the rise, it’s no wonder more people are picking up intermittent fasting in hopes of going back to our early human kind roots.

It’s common knowledge that we’d have to forage for food, and with foraging comes having to go days with little to no sustenance. In doing this, we get rid of all the broken down, old cell parts when there’s no longer enough energy to sustain them. It is a regulated, orderly process to degrade and recycle cellular components. Fasting is thought to help this process along, sort of like an induced apoptosis (aka programed cell death.)

Think of this as your cells cleaning up around the house, Marie Kondo style. They’re looking around at their surroundings, and figuring out what is essential to keep since energy is at a higher demand for more functional cells. Intermittent fasting prompts your cells to do this function more often than when you’re not fasting, because you’re functioning in a deficit. 

Along with cellular repair, intermittent fasting is supposed to have other benefits too. One that I can personally attest to is improved insulin sensitivity. Like I said before, hanger was a HUGE issue, and I felt bad for anyone in my path when the time hit. Nowadays, that’s not the case, I’m resilient – ha!

Now, if you’re just starting to experiment with intermittent fasting, I personally recommend to take it slow. 

say you normally have breakfast at 8 am and get hungry again around looking around the office for snacks around 11 am. Try waiting until 9 am to have breakfast. You can even use an app like @zerofasting to help track your progress. They have preset fast ratios to choose from, and you can even set your own – they make it super simple for you! I used to write it down in a journal, and personally find this app to be VERY helpful and informational.

Once you’re comfortable bumping up the time you wait until breakfast, act accordingly to adjusting the time you eat lunch.

You may notice that with not eating right when you wake up, your food cravings may change as well. For example, something I’ve observed in my partner is when he doesn’t start his day with a carb-centric meal, he has an easier time waiting until the next meal.

You should be mindful during this process, there is no rush to health.

Be sure to drink PLENTY of water, and notice how you feel after eating certain foods. Maybe even break your fast with some vegan pesto or some buffalo seitan + dairy-free blue cheese massaged kale. If you’re looking for more on-the-go snacks or meals and don’t want to sacrifice your health, my favorite site is Thrive Market (hint: it won’t break the bank either.)

Like I mentioned above, there IS the option for a full day fast. I wouldn’t recommend this for the novice. If you’re doing this, I would try to make sure it’s at most a once a week ordeal. Because you doesn’t want to cause too much stress on your body and have negative effects, you need to take it slow.

If you’re new to this, maybe start out with a sunrise to sunset fast! And don’t forget, to take it easy, there isn’t a race to health! Besides, who wants to be known as the hangry person trying a new diet?

I personally love doing 16:8 on week days, and not fasting on the weekends.

Have you tried intermittent fasting before? Do you have any other tips? Let me know in the comments below, especially if you have a good app recommendation – we’re all about accessability and accountability here!

5 Tips for Your First Acupuncture Apointment

You might go to acupuncture for all sorts of reasons

which might include; anti-aging, general wellness, relief from headaches, or if you’re like me; maybe for hormone and thyroid balancing (you can click here for a detailed post about that). It was a little nervous (and that’s okay if you are too!), especially because I tend to have anxiety around new situations, sensations, or places (especially bad when it comes to health) – and this happened to be ALL those things including the cherry on top – health!

My first consultation went fantastic, and upon your first meeting,  you’re going to make sure you feel comfortable and trusted their competence. It didn’t hurt that one of my best friends works in the practice I went to, so I think that helped settle my nerves a substantial amount.

Make sure you look up the doctors’ credentials and thankfully had someone to personally ask about their experience at said practice!

He was well knowledged in my lifestyle diet and put all supplements into consideration that I was vegan. If you have certain ethical, lifestyle, or medical needs, you’ll want to put this into high consideration to increase your comfort levels. Instead of insisting I change my diet, we discussed some small changes that could take place to help me better my health. Something to take into consideration is most insurances won’t cover acupuncture, however some do. So, make sure you check to see if its covered or at least have your sessions go toward your deductible.

Before making the commitment, make sure you can afford your sessions.

For instance, if you’re going to treating an internal issue, frequent appointments may be necessary at first (ask your doctor of course!) For myself, I know I should be going twice a week, but I can only afford once a week, knowing this I make sure I do my best to follow other protocols I was given (influx of many different kinds of mushrooms for amino acids, b12 spray, certain yoga poses, daily vitamin D tablets, DHA+EPA, and holistic thyroid support complex.)

You’ll want to wear loose and comfortable clothing

Which, I know most of us will jump to that offer! Each person’s points will be different during the session. You might wind up by dressing down to the basics (being covered with towels for privacy.) Since you might even have quite a few points on your legs, stomach, and chest (and one right on your forehead – a little scary but my personal fav!)

So, keep in mind that everyone’s experiences will be different.

One thing I can confidently say, is its doubtful you’ll feel any REAL pain.

Even if you’re very sensitive to needles (I know you’d figure with all these tattoos I’d be used to it but IM NOT!) Honestly, you’ll barely feel anything when it’s happening. When you do feel something, just remember to come back to breath, and the discomfort will completely subside. If it doesn’t and is causing actual pain, make sure you mention it to your doctor.

The third thing to consider is how long you’ll be alone with your thoughts.

Maybe if you don’t do much meditating if any at all, being in a dim-lit room for 30min to 1 hour will seem like an ETERNITY. Even as someone who meditates often, sometimes I can get a little restless. But THEN, I have times like my most recent session where I was able to lucid dream while getting acupuncture. When my session was over – I seriously felt like a new person. Just remember that you’re doing this service for your body and wellbeing.

No looking at your phone, worrying about what’s for dinner, your to-do list, or really anything non-essential.

Nothing matters during this time except yourself.

What matters during those moments is letting go, and when you feel your mind starting to wander – I go back to your breath and concentrate on that. I even have moments when that won’t work, and I like to envision my body actually being healed by a white light, or sometimes I’ll get creative and imagine spirit guides performing reiki on my body and conversing about the light healing my particular ailment. Sometimes this form of visualization helps calm my mind while getting some of that pent up energy out in a constructive way instead of ruminating thoughts. I heard this quote once saying if you don’t have 15 minutes to meditate, you should be meditating for 30 minutes. Does that resonate with anyone else?

Number four might seem obvious to some, and profound to others, but you might like to eat a few hours before, and afterward have a light meal. I’m going after work and it’s a little late by the time I get home, so adjust accordingly to your schedule. Also, to make sure you’re drinking an adequate amount of h20 the day of my appointment too!

The last thing is the most important and might seem like a hypocritical statement.

Expect NOTHING.
Don’t expect relaxation.
Don’t expect profound meditative states.

Don’t expect immediate results

Don’t expect all of your pain to be resolved after one session.

Go into it with a completely open mind!

What are some things you wish you knew before your first acupuncture appointment? Or even better, what’s something you learned along the way?

I Have a Thyroid and Hormone Imbalance

So, some of you may have seen on my Instagram stories, but recently I had an occurrence that I feel many women have, but few talk about it or question it.

Being 26, this is my last year on my mother’s health insurance, and you bet that I’m fully taking advantage of that. I decided to get a full blood panel done, test my hormones (I’ve been hormonal birth control free for just over a year – blog post here on that) test my thyroid for good measure, and cortisol levels.

Well, was I in for a surprise.

Upon sitting down with my doctor, it was as if she had never looked over my results until that very moment. She said everything looked fine except my vitamin D was low, and that I could be on my way. I gave her a puzzled look and asked about all the extensive tests I elected to have done, and their results. At this point, she seemed rushed and said “OH, YES, well, seems here your thyroid is on the low end” and proceeded to write a prescription. I exclaimed that I did NOT want a script, and her response is something that will always stick with me, “If you’re not on medication now, you will be next year. Our genes control us, we don’t control them.” Mind you, I was on the low end of the range within normal limits, and she refused to work out a more natural course of treatment or supply options.

She also couldn’t comprehend the fact that I was a vegan, and kept going on and on that my thyroid might be off from the hotdogs and cold-cuts I eat, to which I laughed because I haven’t had any of those items in over fifteen years, and mentioned 5 times prior that I’m a vegan (she was suggesting fish oil, suggesting less red meat, all to which I’d have to repeat my strict diet over and over.) I took this alone as a clear sign of the current office I was at NOT being the place for me, and how can any doctor really pay attention when they have so little time for each patient? In that very moment I knew I no longer wanted to be beneath her care, and that I would be going elsewhere.

My concerns were completely dismissed, was told that I haven’t been practicing medicine for 40 years, my past use of hormonal birth control had nothing to do with my hormones being off, and people don’t have repercussions from previous medications for years to come.
Now, I know damn well even without ever having kids, that even after childbirth, hormones can take a while to return to homeostasis (hello post-partum.) I am beyond thrilled I listened to my intuition and denied medication, when I wasn’t even explained the proper list of potential side effects or even given the option to give this a go without a script.

I had this overwhelming urge to talk about my experience online, though I had tears in my eyes and was well defeated. I couldn’t believe the support and openness I received right back, and I am still so thankful and quite honestly still can’t believe how many people reached out to me. I had a synchronicity happening in my messages then too, a friend mentioned acupuncture being an option, and at the same moment, my close friend (who works at an acupuncturist’s office) said I should come in, as her doctor helped her with her own hormones.

I have been working more on trusting the universe, and letting go of control, and I saw the correlation, and took the soonest appointment.

Later that same day, after having a consultation at the Acupuncturists’, I felt like my doctor listened to me for the first time in my life.

I felt heard, accepted, and a sense of hope instead of just being thrown on medication and hoping for the best. Though it was just a consultation, we talked about a course of action for the time being involving different yoga poses, a small change in diet, and a new supplement to start before my first official visit the following week. He even took the time to make sure my supplements were vegan, and to give vegan recommendations on the diet portion, it all felt like a dream especially after what happened earlier that day.

As someone with a long history of anxiety, depression, autoimmune, migraines, severe allergies, and chronic pain from endometriosis, dissatisfying doctor visits are a reoccurring theme in my life.

At 26, to finally have a doctor say that my assumptions may be right, was amazing. I urge anyone having any issues at all, whether its chronic pain, mental health, autoimmune issues, anything really; please don’t just go off the recommendations of one doctor because that’s just what you’ve been conditioned to do.

If a doctor’s medication choice makes you uncomfortable, say something. If their course of treatment makes you uneasy, there is never anything wrong with getting a second opinion.

Personally, I would rather a more natural course of treatment be tried before having to go on medication, at the very least I could say “I tried”.

My acupuncturist said something very powerful that resonated so deep in my core about my hormones; “Picture your hormones going to work every day, and suddenly when they get there, their job is already done. Why would they keep going to work if they have no reason to be there?” I felt myself sit up straighter, finally having a sense of understanding for my body instead of feeling like a failure, and felt a deep sigh of relief.

The medical system failed me by blinding putting me on hormonal birth control at 14

Which I originally started because I had ocular migraines (plus many other ailments) during my time of the month, and was missing so much school from them. With each new birth control packet came more and more side effects (not to mention more severe mood swings, which I never realized until I was off it.) You would think they’d at least run a hormone panel to see if I had any imbalances while developing, but, instead I was just put on what was hot on the market, switched around from prescription to prescription, and for the following 13 years was told my symptoms are my bodies fault (AKA there was nothing I could do) or I was trying to get medication from my doctor for pain. When in fact, I was sick from the synthetic hormones I was putting into my body without any real explanation why, except that it would make my skin clear, even out my PMS, and stop the ovarian cysts. When in fact, since coming off the pill and switching to a menstrual cup (I say this because conventional tampons still make me cramp like crazy), my endometriosis pain has deeply subsided, and symptoms are less than half of what they used to be.

Of course, fixing my thyroid will probably change my cycle, but I’m at a place in my life where I no longer what to control my body, but give it everything it needs to run at an optimum level.

I’ve been apologizing to my body this year for the years of disordered eating, years of drug and alcohol abuse, and coming to a much better place of understanding, and quite honestly, I feel like even if my body doesn’t back to homeostasis on its own, my mind is reaping more benefits than ever expected.

Even during this time of struggle, I’m treating myself with love and respect, and I advise that you do the same in general if you’re not already. Take a moment today and be grateful for small things, and even more grateful for the bigger picture of being here in the first place.

Vegan Buffalo Seitan and Blue Cheese Kale Recipe

A crazy fact about me is 2018 was the first time I ever tried the combination of buffalo sauce and blue cheese. I know, absolutely wild.

My partner is obsessed with the pairing and after trying it, I get it.

Lately, I’ve been trying to take these typical combos and get a little more creative, you know, think outside the box. I think you’ll love this mix of spicy buffalo seitan with massaged, tender, kale tossed in creamy blue cheese sauce will hopefully be in your rotation of meal prep. I did sort of cheat this time around, and used pre-packaged buffalo dip as my sauce for the seitan – but it happens! I’m actually glad I decided to make the purchase in the first place because it helped satisfy my curiosity if I could really nail this – and I think I did it! A complete game changer was massaging the kale! Seriously – this is a MUST!


You’ll need to add about 2 tablespoons to ~ 3 cups chopped kale (stems removed!), and quite a few cranks of Himalayan pink salt.

If you’re anything like me, your favorite part will be getting to play with my food and massage the hell out of it! Really! Spend a good amount of time doing this, or until you get your desired texture. You’ll want to spend about 3-5 minutes scrunching the kale in your hands and just overall really working it all together. This helps break down the plant cell walls, as cruciferous vegetables can be well, you know, quite crunchy and sometimes surprisingly tough for a leaf.

After your kale is perfectly tender, just gently coated it with the Follow Your Heart Blue Cheese sauce (the best vegan one I’ve found to date.)

I also kind of cheated, and used a store bought buffalo dip as my base.

If you need the extra reassurance that this will be a good combo, or you’re low on time, or if you’re lazy, it’s just really freakin’ good. You could easily use this as a dip too (with a little sprucing up, perhaps some vegan cheese, or maybe even some smashed chickpeas for a heartier consistency – or BOTH!)

You’ll add this as the last step in preparing your seitan,

It’s just combining and heating essentially. You can add more buffalo sauce to the dip to thin it out a little, but I think that was more personal preference than necessity.

Seitan is something I’ve been experimenting with more and more as of late, and I really love it! I find it so much more versatile than the frozen meat replacement foods you usually find in the grocery store. Something I’m definitely going to work on in 2019 is getting my processed food intake way down. By no means do I eat processed foods a lot – but I really want to eat as clean and unprocessed as possible in 2019. You can even find seitan available online dried, in stores (by the tofu usually), or you can even make it yourself! I’m not that brave yet – but one day I’ll tackle the task! If you have any good seitan recipes, be sure to link them below! You can cook it on medium heat with a little olive oil, tossing frequently, and cooking until golden.

Overall, I think this meal idea is perfect for the seasoned vegan, and for newcomers alike! As far as cooking skills, you’ll want to be comfortable with cooking seitan (or just comfortable sauteeing in general), as it sometimes sticks (depending on your cookware and knowing when to add more oil).





Things you’ll need!

  • Seitan (I used about 1 cup total)
  • Buffalo sauce – 2 tsp
  • “Good Foods” Buffalo dip – 1 package
  • Kale, raw, stem taken off & chopped – 4 cups
  • Extra virgin olive oil – 6 tsp
  • “Follow Your Heart” Blue cheese vegan dressing – 2.5 tsp
  • “Follow Your Heart” Parmesan-style cheese ( I would have used nutritional yeast if I had some in the house, and would have probably preferred that)
  • Pink Himalayan salt
  • Cracked black pepper

Cooking Instructions

  1. Prep kale by taking off the stem, and roughly chop.
  2. Add ~ 2 to 3 tsp olive oil to kale and toss, add a good pinch of the Himalayan salt while you’re preparing everything else & let it hang out.
  3. Massage kale anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes. Time will vary due to individual kale toughness
  4. Lightly oil pan and add seitan, sautee until golden & crispy
  5. When seitan is done, turn the burner off, keep in the pan, add buffalo dip, and combine evenly
  6. (If the sauce is too thick, add some regular buffalo sauce at this point)
  7. Add vegan blue cheese style dressing to kale – be sure to add small amounts at a time to make sure you’re not drowning your kale. I like the kale to the be the main even – not the dressing.
  8. I kept my buffalo seitan and massaged kale separately, while my partner added his seitan on top of the kale – it’s all up to you!

That’s it! Pretty simple for the most part! I’m really excited to play around with buffalo and creamy dressings. I’m looking forward to experimenting and trying to make my own blue cheese style dressing.

If you try this out, please let me know! You can find me across the board @quartzandbees. Maybe chickpeas, next time. What do you think?

vegan food on a budget

Vegan Gluten Free Low Fat Pesto Recipe

So, growing up with a mother who had Celiac disease (I’m talking way before gluten was a hot topic) I had the “privilege” to try all sorts of grain free pasta fifteen something years ago. I’ve found red lentil pasta to be my favorite as of late, though, I try to switch up all the foods I consistently eat, that way my diet is never stagnant. I can go into pasta for an entire day, with pleasure, I mean, we ALL love pasta, right?

This weekend I made it my mission to get creative in the kitchen and figure out a creamy sauce that wasn’t high in fat. I’m a sucker for a good cashew-cream sauce, it’s kind of my go-to, but the fat content was absolutely demolishing any dreams of keeping my diet balanced. This recipe is down-right delicious and I didn’t expect to fall in love with tofu all over again. I do try to keep soy-based products at a minimum, however, it’s solemnly in my diet, and I personally feel the exchanging cashew-cream sauces for creamy sauces high in soy are quite alright. It’s safe to say I will be experimenting in the coming weeks and see what else I can do with this highly versatile food.

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Oh, I’ve been on a strict budget as of late, so I will be posting the approximate cost of my meals, as well as nutritional information whenever possible! I’d like to help crush the myth that living a vegan lifestyle doesn’t have to come at a high price tag.

Prep time for this green machine is incredibly quick (especially if you have a powerful blender aka the heart of my kitchen: my vitamix) Of course, you can change things around according to your dietary needs and your taste buds, feel more than free to merely use this as a guide of sorts!

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Prep time: legitimately under 5 min.

Cost: ~$16

  • 349g silken tofu (I used one small package)
  • ~3 tsp of nutritional yeast
  • 2 cups FRESH basil
  • ¾ cup of almond milk
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • Juice from ½ a lemon
  • 4 cloves raw garlic
  • The tiniest bit of yellow miso – it’s my secret! Gives the perfect hint of funk for vegan cheeses!
  • Salt and pepper to taste!

– BLEND INTO SAUCE-

That’s it! So freakin’ easy! Heres the nutritional info too! I made this for lunch for the week, and I was able to get 5 servings from it! Hope you gain some inspiration from this & let me know if you find any amazing additions!

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Getting Off Hormonal Birth Control + Using a Menstrual Cup

So mid year, I got off hormonal birth control, which I had been on for close to thirteen years! I was told time and time again, that it would be the “solve all” to my ocular migraines caused by my time of the month, plus it was supposed to make my skin clear and healthy looking! I have endometriosis in my family, so that was something to consider, and my deciding factor on starting the pill at around 14 years old. I had switched to just about everything on the market, different hormone leveled pills, nuvaring, every birth control besides the implantation device (both arm and uterine) and hormonal shots because my medical history didn’t allow for either of those. The last pill I was on caused the worst side effects for me, and ultimately pushed me in the direction to stop it altogether. I was on a brand that allowed you to have three periods a year, which sounds fantastic, but holy side effects was I suffering. My migraines came back with a vengeance, my cramps made it so I couldn’t function in daily activities, I couldn’t keep any food down, and my mood swings were at the point to where I was thinking of going on yet more medication to keep those in control.

I was missing more work than ever, which is embarrassing because people who have no cycles, or normal ones just can’t understand that you’re truly not being a drama queen. Trust me, I wanted to go to work, I didn’t want to stay in bed in the dark with a heating pad on me keeling over in pain. While in conversation with my boyfriend, he asked “So, do they test your hormone levels to see what works best?” and I realized, no, they never did any extensive hormone testing for any of my birth controls, before or after new brands, or anything like that. You’d think playing with something so essential to our bodies would be more carefully regulated, but hey, it is woman’s health care and all.

Once stopping HBC, I noticed a huge difference by my second cycle. Keep in mind, I’m one of the lucky few to have a regulated cycle after stopping this medication. Many women wind up with not getting their period at all and suffering major hormone consequences that they weren’t warned about. Around the same time, I decided to get off the pill, I also concluded that I wanted to use a menstrual cup too, just to avoid any other unwanted chemicals lingering around in my body. The more research I did, the more that I found it was the right choice for me as compared to a natural brand of tampon. As if skipping out on bleach, chemicals, and who knows what else is in commercial tampons (because companies don’t have to disclose exactly what chemicals are in them, suspicious much?) If that doesn’t weird you out, it should, seriously. I don’t want to add to any conspiracies, but from what I’ve read, it’s quite alarming, and from the difference I’ve felt, I know a lot of the pain/heavy bleeding I was feeling was influenced by whatever was in commercial tampons.

Since making the switch, on a pain scale of 1-10 (10 being the highest) I’ve been hanging out at a strong 6 on my very worst days, most of the time the pain doesn’t interfere with daily life, except when I have ruptured cysts, which is a whole other topic on its own! While on HBC, my heaviest days I’d hang out at a 9 or 10 in pain, all day. ALL DAY. Imagine not being able to even get out of bed, let alone work to make a living, or even have a social life during your time of the month. It was absolutely unbearable, and my only regret was waiting this long to get off it, it did its job though, so honestly, I can’t complain about that factor.

The cost difference just makes sense for me as well, plus they’re eco-friendly! Figure you spend about $10/month on your paper product of choice, factoring in at $120/year (and that’s assuming you don’t have to buy an extra box here or there.) Most menstrual cup products come in from 30-60 dollars, which I believe to be quite fair. I bought a Lunette cup which after doing some research seemed to be the best since; I have no kids and I have a pretty small lady area.

Lunette

I’ve found them ranging in price a lot, their website sells them for $39.99, but I got mine for $29.99 on Thrive Market (which I love, love, love using this site! Click here for 25% off your first order). I’m about to order a Ruby Cup (2 for $49.78) to keep as a back-up as well, because from the research I’ve done, seems to suit my body’s’ needs. If you’re not keen about shipping one to your house, or would rather an in-store purchase, I’ve seen cups even at Target & Walmart! I’ve noticed I’ve saved a substantial amount of money using this, and I feel great about not adding to all the waste that’s already being contributed on this planet. You can even donate on Ruby Cups website to help a girl in need of menstrual products, which I plan on doing for my next purchase.

To be clear, there is a huge learning curve! This isn’t something that you’re just going to get the hang of right away, and if you do, I hate you. I gave myself a time frame of 6 months (6 cycles) to really give it a go. I remember not freaking out anymore around month 4 or 5, so have hope, and lots of patience!  Keep in mind that keeping calm will help you in more ways than one, I had a panic attack after not being able to get it out during my first cycle of using, which is embarrassing to admit, but after I calmed down I laughed at myself for getting so anxious in the first place (it’s not like it’s going anywhere, having a mom in law enforcement, I’ve heard stories of ladies fitting a whole lot more than a soft silicone cup in there!) I also cut a few centimeters off the “tail” off the cup on my Lunette, be careful though when you adjust it and don’t get overzealous with the cutting, as it might make it super frustrating to retrieve if you cut before knowing how much actually needs to come off! Just make sure that your cup has the ability to be cut and altered, I know the Ruby Cup tail isn’t able to be modified.  I’ve seen people even turn them inside out to eliminate any irritation from the tail.

So, make sure to stay comfortable, and if one brand isn’t working for you, know that you can always switch, there’s so many to choose from! This is your body, and you need to honor and listen to its needs! I know making a switch like this can seem scary, or even gross (which it isn’t, and is far healthier for you!!) Reach out to some girlfriends! That’s what I did, and I got some well-taken advice from them, for some reason most women don’t talk about these sorts of things, so many of my friends already made the switch.

But, we can be the change, make this kind of conversation normal between your friend group! Remember to take care of yourself, especially during your time of the month, stay hydrated and get plenty of rest (and maybe a bit of some dark chocolate, shhh I won’t tell!!)

Clarisonic Mia 2 Review

So I wanted to wait until I actually gave my skin some time to adjust before I gave a review because I’ve heard from a few fellow Clarisonic users that your skin goes through a “purge” process and I wanted to be as honest as possible. I have combination skin and I’ve battled adult acne and hormonal cystic acne through out most of my life. Thankfully, my skin didn’t get worse before it got better; it just drastically improved each and every day.

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I’ve been using the Mia 2 for a year with the deep cleansing brush head, and I couldn’t imagine my skin routine without it at this point. My skin is so weird; too much of the wrong kind moisture will cause my skin to erupt in cysts covering my entire chin (and just my chin, ugh). I took a chance last year and started using Lush Cosmetics “9 to 5” cleanser. Wow, wow, WOW do I love this freakin’ stuff. It provides all the moisture my skin needs, without causing me to breakout, and I’m able to achieve that clean feeling without my skin feeling stripped. It’s an oil-based cleanser that you work into the skin, get the impurities out, and wipe away with either a cotton pad or I use a washcloth. I really feel like starting with “9-5” helped my skin have as smooth of a transition as possible.

I currently gravitate toward Drunk Elephant’s Pekee bar (see my last post on my skin routine here for more about this). My T-zone during this whole process has been cooperating quite well; I have less oil, and just an overall healthier finish. However, my chin did become dry the first few weeks, so much so that I needed to pick up using a moisturizer (but I kind of didn’t mind, I should have been using a moisturizer in the first place)

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If you’ve never used one, fear not! This thing is completely fool proof (which is great in my case!) Charging is a breeze too, not to mention the battery lasts a very long time in my opinion.  When you turn it on, the power & speed button illuminates indicating that it’s on. Then you have the option to select between normal speed & high speed (I used high speed). Once you turn it on, the device does everything for you pretty much, you just have to move it around your face, ha! Everything is already timed, starting on the forehead, to the chin area, then the cheeks/nose. If any of this seems confusing, I believe my device came with a detailed instruction menu, (I’m not 100% sure though.) Every once and a while, once the first cycle is done, I’ll turn it on again to exfoliate my décolletage because yes, you should be caring for that area too ladies! I feel like it’s so easy to remember to take care of your face, but your neck and hands are equally as important (oh man, que the reminder to use more hand lotion!) I mean honestly, I’m not one for [face] fillers, but thinking of the skin on the back of my hands maturing has me cringing already, and there’s nothing you can really do about the damage on your hands once its there. Hopefully by the time that happens, the future will be on my side and have a cure for it, phew!

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Anyways, being totally new to the whole skin care scene, and being totally enamored with masks, I’d say this device is 100% needed for any facemask junkie. Personally, I feel the effectiveness of the mask is increased with using my Clarisonic beforehand, helping my skin soak up all the goodies that different masks provide. Once and a while, I do forget to use it before mask application, and I can feel a difference once I take it off.

Do you have a different favorite way to exfoliate at home? Different methods, maybe even different soaps? Let me know about it, I’d love to hear!

Cruelty-Free Skincare Routine

So within 2017, I got my health going toward the right path

I officially quit smoking (I feel like I needed at least a year before I could have announced that I quit, too many slip-ups) upped my water intake, you know, the whole nine yards.

Even though I increased my water intake, my skin was suffering.

Unfortunately, I don’t have many pictures properly displaying my skin, as you can imagine I was self-conscious about my acne, hyperpigmentation, and scars. I didn’t wear makeup every day because of my occupation, however, it seemed to be getting worse and worse.

I really wish I had some photos of my skin at its worst, but hey, in the moment who the hell wants to document that?!

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My skin 2016

I started off using some drugstore basics, to make sure I could stay in the routine of it all.

What really helped me is my boyfriend gifting me a clarisonic mia 2. I didn’t seem to have a purging period with my skin, it took quite well!

It took a few solid weeks to figure out what products were agreeing with my skin, and which ones didn’t seem to be doing anything at all.

After about 6 solid months, I finally have a whole morning and night routine that seems to be working on my problem areas: blemishes, hyperpigmentation, cystic acne (during menstruation), and pore size.

Alright, so I usually use my clarisonic every other day (well I try, I am human after all.) Which I feel really helps with overall softness from the exfoliation. I also make it a point to use it before mask application because, in my mind, it really helps your skin soak it all in.

I used to have oily skin, which then progressed into combination after getting off hormonal birth control mid-2017. That was my main reason to really start a routine, I heard all the horror skin stories of coming off ‘the pill’. None of those horror stories happened to me thankfully, however, my skin did change.

I start every day with a clean face.

Right now since I’ve been traveling, I haven’t really been sticking to one product. I’ve been kind of gravitating toward Drunk Elephant’s Pekee Bar, which I find perfectly balanced and doesn’t leave me with that dreaded “squeaky clean” feeling (I find that sensation to be too drying and uncomfortable.) I also use Avalon’s vitamin C liquid face wash too! I like them equally, it’s just a pain to travel with any sort of liquid.

I always [try to] follow cleansing my face with a toner, for me, this step always somehow gets missed! As of recently, I’ve been doing okay (thanks to bullet journaling), so I’ll take it! Again, if you’re looking for a toner to give you that squeaky clean feeling, this probably isn’t for you. This is the only part of my routine that has a scent and its so beautiful & light, I love it!

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Pacifica kale waterAs far as mornings go, that’s when I use my vitamin C serum. I used to use Drunk Elephants’ C-firma however, with the price point it’s just not a practical option for me (it kills me though ’cause it was my fav.) I looked around for some comparable serums, as I feel this step is necessary for the lightning I’m looking for.

I found The Ordinary’s brand, and while I can confidently say I don’t like the formulation, I do like the percentage of active ingredients. They do have other formulas, but silicone and my skin just don’t get along, so I’m stuck with this one. I’ll live, I’ll live. The Ordinary Vitamin C suspension (and honestly the whole line) comes at an unbeatable price, however, like I said, the formula is a little bit odd. I find this pills on me quite easily.

I wait for everything to soak in so I have a nice dry application onto the face, and I’ve tried using small amounts and working it area by area into my face, I’ve tried everything and it still pills. On me, there is a slight tingling, which the packaging warns you of, I take that as the product working.

Also, do not forget that you NEED sunscreen with this product. But seriously, put your sunscreen on everyday y’all.

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Drunk Elephant [left] & The Ordinary [right]After that, I moisturize if I’m wearing no makeup.

The days I do wear makeup, I’m sure to use a moisturizing primer to keep everything balanced. Assuming I’m not wearing makeup for this entire post, I usually use Pacifica’s cactus & kale moisturizer. If you have dry skin, this will not be enough hydration for you. It’s just light enough for all-day wear without being too slick looking and it holds up all day. This is my go-to, of course, some days I need to adjust, but I can safely say even though this is a fairly new purchase for me, it’s staying in my arsenal.

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Pacifica cactus & kale moisturizerMy night time routine is the same, up until the serums! After I wash & tone, I’ll go between Drunk Elephant’s TLC serum & The Ordinary’s retinoid. I don’t feel any skin sensitivity with either, as I alternate which one I use and really pay attention to my skin in the morning to anticipate it’s needs. My skin is super soft after using both, I personally prefer the TLC serum, but this puppy is pricey, so I try to stretch it out best I can. Also, you might notice tiny sizes of the Drunk Elephant, that’s because I bought “The Littles” bundle which I really recommend if you’re new to their line, and I travel a lot so I had them handy already.

My last step for night time is my all time favorite marula face oil by Drunk Elephant, seriously, this stuff is holy grail material. My skin just soaks it up flawlessly. I believe this product is the sole reason I haven’t had any sensitivity or dryness when using harsher serums. I have tried a handful of different face oils and they always break me out (with cystic acne, gasp), especially on my chin. Not only does this stuff apply seamlessly, but my skin also looks flawless in the morning too.

To say I’m obsessed is an understatement. I’ll put it on my face, hands, anywhere needing a super boost of moisture.

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Drunk Elephant Marula OilThat’s it! This is my everyday skin routine, and I honestly believe in these products. I think my skin speaks for itself!

Do you use similar products? Do you have a cruelty free skin care line that you’ve been curious about, but haven’t tried? Email me! I’d love to hear about it!