How I Kicked My Seasonal Allergies

I don't see myself as a sneezy, allergic person. I grew up with two cats, had cats as an adult, and now we have two furry dogs who share our house, bed, and last name. I don't run from dust, or panic when things start to bloom in the spring.

But once or twice a year I get hay fever something awful. 

My allergies get so bad that I literally can't think straight. My mind is muddled and I feel like I'm trying to hear from under a deep, murky water.

I can't breath, so I'm lethargic from lack of oxygen coursing through my veins (Or lungs. Whatever. Science is so last administration.) 

I can't sleep for all the stuffiness and sneezing.  I can't be my magical, high-functioning, get-it-done, and get-it-done-quickly gal.

I don't know about you, but when I get sick I suffer not only from the ailment itself, but from a hopeless sense of defeat and frustration. Why did this happen to me? I'm healthy! I do everything right! I take bone broth! I get enough sleep! I avoid processed foods! I do yoga!

I end up sick, sad and cranky. I'm super fun to be around during these times.  You should come over.

Enter Jonathan with his helpful idea that I take Claritin.

I don't like prescription medication, and I avoid over-the-counter pharmaceuticals. I like natural remedies. The kinds that  don't do more harm than good while they address symptoms. But I was so desperate for relief that I decided to try a Claritin, followed that night by a Benadryl chaser.

The results were not good.  Unless you think shaky hands and yelling at your young child sound appealing.  Oh, and the allergy symptoms were still there.

So Jonathan went back to the medicine cabinet, as desperate as I for the relief that would restore our happy household. This time he came out with an old bottle of something I'd bought years ago when I had spring hay fever.

This stuff wiped out my allergies right away! 

This stuff wiped out my allergies right away! 

It's a homeopathic remedy, and before you roll your eyes I'll cut to the punchline: In less than 24 hours it wiped out my misery.

Allergena works by including up to 40 tree, weed and grass extracts from "Zone 9."  That's what grows in California where I live.

If you suffer from allergies related to pollen, grasses, etc. I urge you to grab a bottle at once for the zone where you live. If you're suffering on vacation, get the formula for wherever you are. They also make a concoction for dust and mold, so there's something for everyone!

I'm so grateful for this stuff. I've been talking to strangers about it. Anyone I see who seems like they are suffering from the crazy pollen load we have around here gets my tip. And now you have it, too. 

Love,

Jennie

P.S. Forward this to to the people you love with allergies!

 

Why I Did a Whole30

Jonathan and I have been “doing the Whole30,” which is what people who “do the Whole30” say to each other.

If you’re lost, don’t worry. Like all popular health crazes Whole30 has its own weird language and odd rules. 

In plain English it means that we’ve cut the processed junk from our diets, and are focusing on eating whole, healthy foods for 30 days.  After 30 days we can go back to our old eating habits, or decide if we want to make new ones.

We’re three weeks in, and I can say without hesitation that this way of eating does a body good. Inside and out.

Jonathan looks super slim, and someone told me I looked “fresh faced” after seeing me on a video call. I was pretty much hooked after that.

But healthy on the inside is what really matters for the long haul, not how we look. So I'm happy to report that Whole30 eating has also made us healthier. Yay!

My friend Stephanie and my sister-in-law Michelle were the first two people to tell me about the Whole30. I tuned them out as fast as I could.

The very idea that I wouldn’t drink wine or eat sugar for a month was so hateful. It was all I could do not to stick my tongue out at them while I walked away.

Perhaps some of you have felt that way about me in recent weeks.

Since this is a blog about happy things, and since feeling like you should be doing something is the opposite of feeling happy, you might just want to stop reading now.  Because there is nothing you should do.  You’re perfect and valuable and awesome, just as you are. You can visit My Happy Place Blog again when I write another post on purses or Palm Springs – perky, happy things. No judgement from me.

So much has been written on the Whole30 that I’m not even going to cover the details here. Check out the website and read about it yourself. The book It Starts With Food is great. Even if you don’t ever want to do a Whole30, you’ll be smarter after reading it.

And it’s okay if the concept doesn’t speak to you. It didn’t speak to me for years. And then suddenly I was excited to try it.

Why I Wanted to Do the Whole30, and What Happened When I Did

Bloat. I didn’t feel fat exactly, but I had a bloated, puffy look to my face and body. So I knew my insides were not in a healthy place. Inflammation looks as bad on the outside as it is bad for our insides, and I really want to stay healthy and vibrant for my family’s sake. Whole30 is designed to reduce inflammation.

Pain. I have recurring back pain, and a chronically painful neck and shoulder. I wake up uncomfortable every morning. Some days it gets better, and some days it doesn’t. Whole30 claims to reduce mystery pains.

Brain Fog. I wondered if the fuzzy mental state I’ve been chalking up to age was food and inflammation related. Whole30 eating is supposed to banish brain fog.

Low Energy. Working moms are notoriously tired, but shouldn’t I have more energy than this, I wondered? Boundless energy is a Whole30 promise.

Mood swings/light depression. I kept hearing that sugar, in addition to feeding inflammation and cancer, was also a depressant. Could my BFF really be working against me? Whole30 is 100% sugar-free.

Vanity. I heard the Whole30 would make my eyes brighter and my skin glowy.  No use lying about it. There’s a chance this was my #1 motivator.

We're on day 22, and everything I’d heard about how great we'd feel and look has already come true. I sleep better, look better, feel better and I act better, too. My back pain lessened. My moods and energy are steady as she goes. I'm alert and think clearly.  I sleep well and wake up happy.  My rings are twirling around my fingers and I definitely lost the bloat. And my husband looks awesome! He had to get some new belts because his old ones don't fit anymore!

I could not have done the Whole30 without these ingredients.

  1. Jonathan by my side, shopping, cooking, cleaning, and having a cheerful attitude about it.
  2. Michelle Winton cheering me on, sharing secrets, and teaching me how to make a bulletproof coffee.
  3. Stephanie Swain giving me recipes, ideas, and a belief that I really could do it. (From an 11:00 p.m. email: "YOU CAN DO THIS.")
  4. A very light social calendar for 30 days.
  5. Lots of time to cook (and clean the kitchen.)
  6. All the lovely people who post their Whole30 recipes and ideas online.

If you’re thinking about doing a Whole30, I suggest you clear your calendar, replace dinners out with evening hikes, and surround yourself with supportive friends and family.

You can count me as one resource. Email me at jennie@myhappyplaceblog.com. You can also see some of the food we’ve been eating on Instagram @myhappyplaceblog.

It’s only 30 days. You can do anything for 30 days. It's really all in your attitude, and you'll feel so good!

Love,

Jennie

P.S. Forward this to the people you love, and sign-up for My Happy Place Blog updates here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Be Helpful During the Holidays

Every year during the holidays Jonathan and I look for meaningful volunteer opportunities that we can do as a family.  It's not easy to find something that's age-appropriate for a little one. Yet we know there are many people and organizations who need extra support at holiday time.  

This year we struck gold with our idea, so I want to share it with you. It checked all the boxes: easy, fun, meaningful, and great for Aspen.

There is a medical rehabilitation center for low-income seniors in our town. We frequently see the elderly residents going in and out, some in wheelchairs, others brought by ambulances. On a warm day you might see several of them outside enjoying the fresh air, but they sit alone, not with each other. We've often remarked on them, and sent a silent blessing their way as we drive on by.

This year we went in to ask how we could brighten the holidays for the 50 residents, many of whom don't have family.

Our original idea was that we'd bake cookies, and make a little bag of goodies for each person. But the director explained that the staff dietician wouldn't appreciate that sort of sugary elfin meddling. (And wasn't I relieved not to have to take on that huge task? Yes, Virginia, I was.)

So instead, we promised to deliver a holiday card for each resident, to help each one feel more seen and connected. 

Aspen loves making art. So instead of buying cards, she threw a party, and got her little friends to join in on the homemade card-making. (See how I committed myself to making 50 cards, then quickly schemed up a way to outsource the work to little kids?) 

They gathered around our dining room table with a plate of fresh Christmas cookies and got to work. We had simple card-making supplies laid out, and holiday music setting a festive mood.  In about 90 minutes they'd made 54 cards, each one hand-written and signed by a little girl.

What was so great about this is that -- all disguised as a party -- the girls had an opportunity to reflect on how it must feel to be alone at the holidays, and then to reach out to a real human being with her words and artistry.

If you like this idea for yourself, but don't feel artistic, buy some cards at the store and hand-sign them with warm wishes. And if you want to make cards, but your kids are too young to write the text, do it for them and let them draw pictures on each one.

Here's how you can easily put together a holiday card-making party like ours for people of any age:

Card-Party Checklist

Pre-Party Planning:

  • Reach out to a senior center or hospital in your town to ask if cards would be welcomed. Find out how many they'd like.
  • Set the date for your party.
  • Invite guests. (8 was the right number for us.) I used E-vite, but next year I'll just email parents directly to make it even easier.
  • Purchase blank cards and matching envelopes. Target had packs of red ones that were perfect.
  • Purchase Christmas/holiday stickers. (Target)
  • Purchase festive paper plates, cups and holiday napkins to set the mood (again, Target for the win.)

Day Of:

  • Put out blank cards, stickers, colored markers and pencils.
  • Create little cheat sheets kids can use if they are still learning to spell. For example: Happy Holidays! You are loved. From your neighbor, Aspen, age 8.
  • Put out snack foods, plates, cups and napkins.
  • Put on holiday music.
  • Enjoy!

Of course, making a financial donation is also a fabulous way to help, and volunteering shouldn't just be a holiday gimmick.  You've got resources to share all year round, so don't miss the opportunity to make a difference in your own way.

Tell me your family volunteering ideas so I can help share them with others.

Happy holidays to you!

Love,

Jennie

P.S. Make it a double party by inviting the parents to stay while their kids make cards.

My Turkey-Free Thanksgiving

This is not a post about how to be a vegetarian at Thanksgiving. I just don't like turkey.

There. I said it.

I don't enjoy eating it. I don't enjoy cooking it. (Oh, the stress of the last-minute discovery that a table full of people will have to wait just a little longer for dinner.....)

I don't like carving it. 

And I most certainly don't like picking the carcass the next day for turkey soup. 

So, for the last few years I've served a gorgeous pork tenderloin with an autumn spice rub instead. The rest of the menu is totally Thanksgiving-traditional, but the main course is delicious, plus easy to make, serve, and enjoy for leftovers.

I won't lie. It takes courage to buck the turkey tradition.

Even Jonathan, no fan of the prepping, cooking and cleaning up of turkey, was aghast by my proposal the first year.  

He made me warn -- warn -- our guests ahead of time that we wouldn't be serving turkey. Presumably because such upsetting news should not be sprung on them upon arrival.  Or perhaps he thought they might not accept our invitation, and deserved to know in advance of making a decision. Oh, brother.

Since switching from turkey to tenderloin I haven't heard any complaints. And I've had more fun. One guest asked me to reassure her that I'd be serving pork again, not turkey this year, bless her.

You can see the full recipe for a 1-1/4 pound tenderloin from the Food Network, but here's the gist:

Mix together 1 teaspoon each garlic powder, dried oregano, ground cumin, ground coriander, dried thyme, and salt for 1-1/4 pounds of tenderloin. Doesn't that sound good?  It is.  

I figure half a pound of meat per guest. So do the math to determine how much of the rub to make for the size pork tenderloin you need.  Then gobble gobble.

Love,

Jennie

P.S. Know a brave hostess who might want a new twist on Thanksgiving turkey? Please forward this to her!

 

My 5 Favorite Non-Toxic Beauty Heroes

I signed up for Beauty Heroes over a year ago, and love the subscription service.  It helps me discover the best natural beauty products out there, at a huge discount.

You can read my original post about the company and the wonderful founder  here.

I'm always looking for non-toxic beauty products -- that work -- so my friends and I compare notes on which products we like the best. Here's the list of my favorite non-toxic beauty products that I met through Beauty Heroes. Thought you might like them, too.

When I told the founder of Beauty Heroes I was planning to share my favorite non-toxic beauty products with you, she offered to give My Happy Place Blog readers a discount at her online store. How nice is that!?! So if you want to give my faves a try, read on and grab the discount code at the end of this post. 

$27 for the mist. Pretty bottle, priceless.

Phia Imagination Energy Mist is hard to describe, but once you smell it you'll understand. I keep it on my desk and spritz my face when I need a happy pick-me-up. Luscious! 

 

 

$85 to look like you got a few extra hours of sleep.

$85 to look like you got a few extra hours of sleep.

Mangosteen Beauty Drops from Skin Owl is a night serum I might never have tried without Beauty Heroes, but it smells so bright and happy that I love it.  It features two high-powered cold-pressed oils that work their magic while you sleep. So you wake up looking perky and dewey.

$30 to look like you're glowing from the inside

$30 to look like you're glowing from the inside

Modern Minerals Moonstone Cream Highlighter Of everything on the list this is my favorite.  It's a subtle cream shimmer like none other. I put it above my brow bone and just under my brows. Along with a big smile it brightens my face.  And it comes in a cute little orb that's fun to hold in your hand.

$24 for black clay that'll leave you super clean

$24 for black clay that'll leave you super clean

Osmia Black Clay Facial Soap This stuff works! It's a small bar of soap that leaves my face feeling really clean and detoxed. And it lasts forever! It's so small it travels well, so I want one near my bathroom sink, in the shower, and in my travel bag.

 

$54 for a mask so pure and fresh you could eat it

$54 for a mask so pure and fresh you could eat it

Laurel Honey Berry Enzyme Facial Mask You know how there are all kinds of recipes out there to make your own facial mask from ingredients you have in your kitchen? And how easy and fun it sounds? And how you never actually do it? Here's how to get that I'm-putting-honey-on-my-face-aren't-I-such-a-natural-beauty feeling without the mess.  I love this mask. It nibbles off dead skin cells and leaves your skin bright and glowy.

These products are all available at Beauty Heroes, and you can use code: HAPPY for 10% off anything in the store through December. There's a lot to love, and I had a hard time narrowing down to my 5 favorites. Everything there is safe, healthy, and effective.  

Since the holidays are barreling toward us, think about the Phia Imagination Energy Mist as a great gift for a friend or co-worker -- and you!

Love,

Jennie

P.P.S. I haven't tried this one yet, but I'm dying to. A primer, it's supposed to make your skin look flawless.

P.P. S. My blog is about sharing things that make me happy in the hope they make you happy, too. I am not paid by any person or company for promoting products to you. I just love sharing my finds.