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Blank note card surrounded, framed by candy hearts

Valentine’s Day Apparel Ideas – From our “Love Never Dies” Ouija inspired set to our “Love Me” set and More

The smell of love is in the air as Valentine’s day quickly approaches!  We are ready to have you outfitted with the cutest quotes, art, and apparel ideas.  These work as gifts for him too, or yourself!

This holiday has roman festival origins which comes I’m sure as no surprise to most.  They were an amorous group and loved the idea of romance and Gods and Goddesses and even hedonistic parties and rituals.  A Pope eventually renamed it from the roman festival Lupercalia, which was a strange love fest celebrating spring and fertility and the sacrifice of goats and a dog, to Saint Valentine’s Day.  Valentine was believed to originate from two tales of two different men doing love deeds, like marrying off couples and curing a jailors daughter of blindness.  It was later believed that it’s possible all the stories were about one single man.

Formal cards or messages otherwise known as Valentines appeared in the 1500’s, and the tradition has grown over time.  Now celebrated over various parts of the world, a gift of love on February 14th is now widely accepted.

We know that this is also a time to remember loved ones from the past, those that might no longer be with us, and that more marriages are performed on this day and marriage proposals than any other date.  We also many a times have sought out a person to share the day with, and not always a lover.  Sometimes good friends get together and celebrate being single, sometimes we want to hold a séance and try to cross the veil and lament a lost love, and sometimes we just want to be full of impish tricks and mirth like the God Cupid.

Without further ado, we present the Love Never Dies collection.Be sure to use the coupon code VDAY20 to get 20% off of these items (valid until 2-17-2019).  Inspired by our love of the occult and the Ouija board, this is the perfect thing for our less than frou-frou crowd.  Mystical, edgy, and spiritual; this hand drawn design has been brought to life digitally to help seek out your fellow cosmic kindred peoples.

Want to wear you heart on your sleeve and let everyone know where your head is at?  You can with the Love me set.  Featuring bold graphic hearts and font, people will know exactly what’s up.  Comes in a rainbow variety as well as red, so you can find your perfect person, and they can find you!

Feeling dark and emo and not wanting to be bothered as you sullenly pine for the love that’s not there by your side?  Try out our Hate to Love shirts.  Curious what that means?  Click here to go and read between the lines…

In the mood for going out on the town and making dreams come true, breaking some hearts, and being a love taker?  You can give fair warning in this Heartbreaker set. 

Lastly, feeling single and ready to mingle?  Just want to link up with some friends and enjoy being single, celebrating your independence and freedom with other alphas who don’t need no man or otherwise?  Check out our Single Celebration shirt set.  Comes in two varieties so that no matter what you’re into, you can get the word out!

Valentine’s comes once a year, make sure you get these limited edition pieces!

pentagram

The Invoker Set – An Inspired Look at Our Latest Logo Apparel, Our Company Goals, and Walking Together in the Light

Everything I make here takes inspiration from things I love.  Since I was small, I’ve had a love of books, art, and always had my head in the clouds.  One of my favorite things I realized early on was that costumes, makeup, hair, and the right attitude can take you down so many wonderful paths and opportunities.  My favorite things to watch on tv or in movies was anything fantasy based.  I marveled at how cosmetic changes could make your wildest dreams seem alive on a big screen. 

It didn’t take me long to feel that urge to want to express myself through my hair and clothing.  I of course wasn’t a movie star or a famous anyone, but when I stopped caring about what others thought and started to try different things out, that’s when I found I felt at my best.  There is nothing better than especially young kids asking to touch my pink and blue “princess/mermaid/unicorn” hair and going along with it as their eyes light up.  It’s also a great way to inspire others to dress and be who they want to be.  Too many people fall into the trap of thinking there’s some expectations for how an adult should dress or look.

That said, all our projects come from a place of authenticity, love, light, and inclusion.  All my critters I’ve hand drawn are poor spooky little guys that just need some love. When it came down to designing a logo set for our business, I wanted something of course that would again push the limits and be a statement piece that would raise eyebrows and look provoking. 

I set out to find something that would encompass our love of the occult, a love for nature, a love for creation, and I wanted to package it all in something that looked mildly intimidating and edgy.  Why?  Because I want to tear down the stereotypes and judgements.  I wanted to educate and prompt discussion.  Not everything is as it seems on the cover.  Some of the nicest and most influential people have tattoos, or wild hair, or other physical expressions.  One of my favorite things is to discover actors that always play extreme bad guys or are in the media for being “out there” only to hear them talk in an interview and discover they’re poised, well spoken, and secretly fund many charities, and rescues kittens or whatever.

So, I designed exactly that.  I wanted to break down some misconceptions about the pagan religions, Wiccans, early science, and even todays religions.  The result has been an occult style logo that is actually full of old runic and pagan symbols of all the nice things.  I took the pentagram which was inspired from Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man.  Leonardo had a keen interest in perfection in Gods work and nature and used this drawing as a way to connect man, God, and nature.  He believed that this was proof of Gods perfection in the sense that all these measurements fit perfectly into a perfect circle.  Lines could also be drawn along each appendage making a perfect star. 

It is believed that the star stands for the top point meaning the spirit, and the other points represent the elements.  We also have five fingers, five toes, five senses. It’s not surprising that older pagan rituals utilized the star symbol, and so does more modern religions.  The star symbol is often used around Christmas to symbolize the birth of Christ. 

There are some common misconceptions, that paganism or Wiccan or witchcraft is somehow anti-Christian or goes against the belief of one God, as is true for modern religions.   However, this is technically false, as most of modern religions came after paganism and other spiritual practices.  Paganism was not designed to try and hurt or insult anything, especially since they came before Christianity.  There are many current practices that perfectly marry Christianity and other God based faith perfectly with other earth-based rituals.  The thought process being that most alternative practices are element based and earth based, celebrating connection to the earth and the sky, and it’s easy to see how if one believes God has created everything, then anything you’re doing to further his creation, is only an extension.  There is a thriving population of Christian pagans; who knew?!  I do know that this isn’t for everyone, and some might balk at the comparisons or consider it blasphemy, but truly the aim of the more modern spiritual practices and modern religions share a remarkable amount of similarities, and symbols.  If all of this doesn’t sound like its right for you, that’s also perfectly ok!  Our goal here was to inform about the history and influences, and for how we have interpreted the core values of all religions to create a cohesive and inclusive piece as our logo.

Armed with all this new exciting information, I began to look into old symbols, and selected a few to recreate in the spirit of all these positive things.  On the logo, you will find the axe, a symbol for protection.  You will find the symbol for balance, love, earth, sky, male and female.  You will find a symbol for the moon and rebirth, and blessings, and an older cross for faith.  I put it all together with my graphic designer, and when I was done, I ended up with something that would make everyone’s white witch jump for joy.

No matter what you believe or practice, we all hold a bit of white witch in us all.  We all follow a path of kindness, light, healer, and love.  We all believe in helping our fellow man, those less fortunate, and the small animals and creatures that don’t have a voice.  We all treat each other with kindness and respect and hope to find unity and support with others on our same path in our chosen houses of worship.  You can support us and each other with ease and pride, knowing you carry all our love and light.  We hope you love our Invoker set as much as we do, and let it represent whatever it means to you!

Below are links to the Invoker products

Invoker Short Sleeve Fitted T-Shirt

Invoker Unisex Hooded Sweatshirt

Invoker Unisex T-Shirt

Invoker Crop Hoodie

Invoker – 12×12-Poster-Matte Finish

Close up of long beard and mustache man

Men’s Face Care – How to Maintain Soft and Healthy Skin and Beards

Kind of a weird topic to get into, and oddly specific right?  I decided to nose-dive into this after reading an article about the top women’s products that were “must haves” for this winter.  I was talking about skin care in general with my husband and asked him about what he does exactly for his skin.  He immediately got that deer in headlights look, as if I was jumping him with some weird test.  He replied that all he does is shave as needed, and use an after-shave balm, and otherwise just normal soap on his face.  I asked him why he doesn’t grow out his beard, ( I myself am quite partial to a glorious well kempt beard or even smaller goatee) and he replied that it just itched to grow, and that he can only let it go so far before it feels he said like itchy fire ant are just everywhere and he needs to shave it off.

I pondered this new info, and asked him if he ever moisturized his face, or thought about why his beard itched as it grew out.  He thought about it and told me that it had just not occurred to him.  That men teaching men about skincare the way a dad might show his son how to shave, is just not stressed.  I tended to my evening online video game sessions, and asked my guy friends about this, needing to know more.  I was horrified to find out that their skincare is pretty much neglected.  I wasn’t really that surprised.  The beauty and fashion industry are mostly geared towards women.  The largest makeup stores like Sephora and Ulta are catered to mostly women.  How sad for men that they can wear nice clothing, look at ads with buff sexy men telling them what dress shirts they should wear and what sports shoes they should spend hundreds of dollars on, and that most men that enjoy dressing decently trendy, still have no idea about where to start with their skin, or what to do when it itches, flakes, or misbehaves.  Now I’m curious, so here we are.  I present, the list of stuff I discovered about man skin, and how to keep it itch-free, flake-free, and looking as sharp as your new Jordan’s.

The first thing to remember is that a man’s facial hair is not the same as a woman’s.  Their hair tends to grow in much thicker, darker, and with more density.  Hair grown is primarily testosterone driven which is why men grow facial hair and chest hair and such.  Men that shave all of their face tend to have smoother skin with less issues, because the act of shaving actually constantly removes the top layer of skin, acting as an exfoliation technique.  It is thought that this is why men’s faces can age nice with less fine lines, because this act of exfoliation can also prompt your bodies collagen rebuilding response.  Woman have a similar procedure now called microdermabrasion, which is fancy for, shaving their face.  It can be done at a medical spa by a professional to remove the top layer of peach fuzz and dead skin, but really, you can pretty much get the same thing if you shave like a dude.

Secondly, male skin tends to have different levels of oils and bacterias.  Often men that get patches of flaky dryness around their nose, on their cheeks, or flaky skin in their eyebrows or beard, seem to have a face dandruff.  It can actually be seborrheic dermatitis, which is a type of yeast.  But don’t worry! Its easily remedied by a face and beard wash, as long as it contains something for dandruff.  My favorite go-to for this stuff as well as many other ailments, is tea tree oil.  I’ve recommended many a shampoo and facewash with tea tree oil to many guy friends and they have happily reported that their issues have cleared right up.  Not only is tea tree oil a great antiseptic and an antibacterial agent, but it’s natural and not harsh, and has a natural clean type smell.  It also has positive effects on acne!  For the full treatment and general scalp and skin well-being, I suggest this shampoo set, and for beard washing and face washing, this beard wash.  Both utilize a natural approach and are healthy and safe.  However as with anything, if a reaction occurs, discontinue use!

And lastly, lets move on to that glorious facial hair, and what you can do about keeping it lustrous, soft, smelling nice, and of course, being flake-free and itch-free!  One of the things men don’t know they should do, is supplement their natural skin oils.  Beard hair is course and thick and can irritate the follicles and surrounding skin, as well as deplete your natural oils.  This leads to itching and mild flaking.  The correct method for keeping your beards and skin happy, is to wash thoroughly with a beard wash first.  Part the hair along as you go, making sure to get down to the skin, and to rinse thoroughly with warm water, not hot.  After drying, apply an unscented beard oil.  I ordered some off Amazon to make sure it wasn’t gross or smelling too frou-frou.  I loved this beard oil, as it was unscented, and carried no chemicals or bad stuff.  Not only did my husband find that it worked great, but it can even be used on your hair!  So, feel free to apply a few drops to your fingertips, and reach inside your beard and apply it to your freshly dried beard, while the skin is still warm from washing.  Just a small thin layer is all you need, rub through to the ends of your hairs.  Rub any excess to your head hair to keep it shiny and healthy and prevent split ends!  Next, use a boar bristle brush to help make sure the oil is distributed evenly, and to help smooth and detangle.  Use the brush every morning and night to help distribute your natural oils to keep your beard shiny and healthy.  Here’s a great brush and comb set to consider. Lastly, don’t be afraid to use a bit of a beard balm to help give your beard some hold and style!  This is a great extra step when you need to look extra well put together, for like a job, or a date.  It has a heavier hold than oils do.  I’m huge on only putting natural stuff on my skin, so here’s a good highly rated beard balm to try!

If the rest of your skin is still feeling dry and textured, or tight and uncomfortable, look for an affordable high-quality natural ingredient facial lotion.  One made for faces, not just any generic lotion will do.  I like the Marlowe brand facial moisturizer because it’s light on scent, paraben-free, and helps reduce redness as well as soothe razor burn. It’s made for dudes and should be applied to anything not covered by hair; like cheeks, forehead, and nose.  Apply a thin layer after a shower or face washing.  Yes, there are more expensive brands out there, but for the average dude, these tools will give you everything you need to beat the dry skin blues and keep an amazing beard all year round. 

I’m adding a final side note, as it isn’t related to simply products.  It’s not uncommon for all beards to be a tad patchy or uneven.  Some other factors to consider, is that the longer it grows, the thicker the hair will get. Trim the ends regularly. Clean and healthy skin which we covered also plays a huge role.  Because hair is testosterone driven, a healthy diet, tons of water, and a good mix of cardio and or weights will greatly boost your testosterone naturally.  Eating right as well as making sure you eat healthy fats and protein will also go a long way. If you can’t eat as balanced as you’d like, take a biotin supplement, or a good quality multivitamin and an omega supplement. Finally, hydration starts from the inside. Chug that water!  That’s sound advice in general.  There are apps and even water bottles out there to help keep you on track with fluid intake.  Keep up with all these tips, have some patience, and you will see results.  Good luck and let me know how it goes below!

*This post contains affiliate links.  This means that if you make a purchase through a provided links below, this site makes a small commission at no extra cost to you!  This helps support our content, and we only provide links to products we believe in.  Want to read the full disclosure? Click here.

Menstrual cup

Everything You Need to Know about Menstrual Cups – This Single Item Changed My Life

For years, from talking to many other women, we have been made to think that there’s a certain product selection for dealing with our menstrual cycles, and that’s all she wrote.  When we were teens, I remember talking a small bit with my other female friends as we were all going through these awkward times and trying to get support without embarrassing each other or seeming too “gross”.  I remember coming home, mad at my mother, because I had heard a friend’s older sister talking about tampons, and that they were another solution to those giants two-foot-long thick diaper pads.  I was surprised to hear that my friend’s sister and all her friends used tampons, as for some reason I had it in my head that those were only for older grown up career type women.  As if pads were the kids’ stuff, and you needed to be some kind of established woman to graduate up. 

Well you bet I marched right home and told my mom I needed to talk to her, and dragged her to their bedroom bathroom, and demanded to know why I didn’t have these. 

Now to be clear, my mother was an awesome mom when it came to our bodies and their functions.  All of us kids were raised to know that our bodies do body stuff, and the more educated we are about its function, the less stressful it will be to keep our bodies healthy and happy. 

So, she sat me down, brought out a tampon, and explained to me how to use one, using her hand to demonstrate where they go.  Now…. this was the early 90’s.  I was only in 7th grade.  There was no internet, and all we learned was from our mothers if we were lucky to have a good one, or older siblings or friends. 

We never thought to question our feminine products.  The go-to moves are, huge pads, and then tampons.  For years no one really asked about what they’re made of.  What chemicals are in them?  Why are those ingredients not listed?  What exactly are we putting into our highly absorbent vaginas?!

Within the last few years we have seen an influx of new companies providing various healthier organic cotton alternatives.  A lot of them were founded and run by women.  They even have subscription services, so you don’t need to run off to the store for emergencies, and you can even customize your packs of tampons!  How great is that??  But what if you wanted to take it a step further?  Enter the menstrual cups.

 I first heard of the Diva Cup.  They’re now available at all sorts of retailers, including Walmart.  So, what are they and what do they do?  Let’s get to it.

The menstrual cup device is a soft flexible cup that’s about the size of a shot glass.  They are supposed to be made from body safe silicon and should be latex free.  The idea is, you fold it a certain way to expel the air and make it small, relax yourself, and insert in the same way you would a tampon, into your vaginal canal.  Release your hold and let it spring open.  Depending on the style you purchase, it’s designed to either sit flush around your cervix, creating a sort of seal around it so that basically the cup catches all your blood, or some are designed to simply open and create a seal against your vaginal walls, and catch everything.  Here was my experience, the pros, and the cons.

I purchased the Lena cup off of Amazon.  I went with one that was top rated, had a good amount of reviews, and seemed like its function would work with my body.  I decided to look into these mostly because ( here are some personal period stats, so you might feel weird reading this, but I feel like it’s a body function, and my particular function led me to find a better path), my flow is really heavy.  Like I’m burning through a Super Plus tampon every 2-3 hours on the first day.  Sleeping at night is a leaking nightmare.  It’s expensive because I’m going through a box of tampons every month, plus panty liners.  There’s the extra laundry and just the general discomfort and concern over leaks.  I saw a random ad on YouTube about menstrual cups and I thought, I owe myself to investigate this.

I made my purchase.  They have 4 options.  A smaller cup for if you’re younger, and/or have no kids, or just need a narrower cup, and then they have a larger cup, which Lena recommends if you’ve had kids (I’ve had 2 vaginally) or have a super heavy flow.  They also have a sensitive set, which comes in a small or large.  I also love that they offer a combination set, where they give you both the small and large in one box so you can find one that works.  They’re recommended for all ages, even teens.   I threw the larger sensitive cup into my cart.  It claims to have a softer rim, and therefore is more comfortable to wear.  I also liked the fact that I didn’t need to try and find my cervix with it, which sounded extra intimidating to what I was already considering.  The Lena cup just needs to be inserted and allowed to open and seal against your vaginal wall.  So basically, it functions exactly like a tampon, however instead of absorbing, along with absorbing your natural lubrication and adding to irritations, the cup simply catches it.  When you’re ready to change it, or remove it, there is a small pull tab it has attached to its bottom.  You can grasp that and use it to gently guide it almost out as you relax, and then you simply grab the bottom of the cup, give it a tiny pinch to release the seal, and carefully remove it.  You dump the contents down the toilet, wash it, and reinsert.  Sounds pretty much the same as a tampon with a few twists, right?  Here’s how it went for me.

I won’t lie, I was nervous. Mostly because I just didn’t know what to expect.  I received my Lena sensitive large cup, and anxiously awaited my next period.  The day came, I washed it in warm water and soap to make it feel more comfortable and clean, and tried a few folds.  In the end I found folding it over from the top in what’s called the “seven-fold” was the best.  That fold makes it the smallest for inserting.  I found through trial and error that standing with a slight squat made it easier to insert.  You place it inside, let it go, and then wiggle the end tab to make sure it doesn’t budge.  You should feel it not really move, and you can feel the sort of suction effect if you tug on it.  I was ready to rock!  Here’s what happened after a few hours.

Nothing.  Nothing happened.  I was overjoyed.  No random leak that you feel and that dread moment when you know your tampon is failing.  No run to the bathroom or feeling like I couldn’t safely go anywhere without being close to a bathroom.  No crazy mess every time I went pee.  I wore it for 4 hours and had not one issue.  I was now excited to see what it had been up to in there and decided to do a remove and replace.  I was shocked at how much was in there.  It was ¾ full, which is quite a lot.  But it wasn’t as gross as you’d think.  It’s all contained in a cup.  It doesn’t smell horrid like a tampon does.  I simply dumped it into the toilet, leaned forward to my sink and washed it with hot water and soap, folded it back up, wiped down really quick, and reinserted.  Did it feel weird as if I was hyper conscious of using a new device?  Yes, it was.  Was the process a bit foreign and weird?  Yes, it was.  Was I having good results?  Yes…yes, I was. 

So, everything has a learning curve, just as when you start anything new.  By the second day I had it all sorted out.  I woke up overjoyed because for the first time there was no overnight leaks.  As the day progressed, I got faster, and it got easier to dump and clean and reinsert.  I knew I needed to tell people about this.  So here we were!  Let’s go over the final list of why we should all be using these.

First up, the cost.  You can have these for years, and it probably pays for itself after only a few months.  I have a household of girls, so the thought of buying tampons in bulk was terrifying for me.  Which brings me to the next point, waste.  You also have to throw away all those tampons too.  You’re never supposed to flush them, so you end up with a garbage full of human body fluids, and that’s pretty gross.  I can’t even imagine the waste output of female hygiene products from public bathrooms.  With a cup, you reuse it, and you can buy containers to store them, and in the case of my Lena, it comes with a breathable storage fabric bag. 

Next up is safety.  There are actually a lot of ingredients that go into pads and tampons, and they’re not obligated to disclose them.  For years because it was all we knew, we’ve been inserting and absorbing them into our bodies.  Medical grade latex free silicone cups do no such thing.  The one thing I will note though, is that there are a lot of these companies that boast you can wear a menstrual cup for up to 12 hours safely because you’re not absorbing anything and you’re not wicking away your body’s natural moisture and lubricant.  This is also amazing news, but there can still be a risk for TSS, or Toxic Shock Syndrome, which as you know from tampons, you’re at risk for because of bacteria.  So just be aware of the symptoms of TSS and remove your cup immediately and seek medical attention if you exhibit symptoms.  The risks are much lower than that of tampons and there has only been one cup related incident, however.  Any thing that makes my health less risky is good in my book!  Remember that all blogs are opinions and experiences, and do not substitute for proper medical advice.  If you are struggling in any way, seek medical advice.  I am in no way a medical professional, and everything expressed here is only my experience and opinions!

Lastly, convenience.  Not having to be tethered to a bathroom or stay home the first few days of my period now have been amazing.  Finding something that doesn’t leak, has been amazing.  I wondered about portability, and there is no shortage of accessories to make traveling with a cup easy as pie.  I purchased a silicone collapsible cup.  It folds flat or pops open to store my Lena.  It also doubles as a way to clean it when you’re on the go.  You can fill it with water from a sink, go into a stall in a public restroom, remove your cup, dump it, put it in the collapsible container you now have filled with water, give in a quick shake rinse, (it comes with a lid), remove and dump the water, and then use a travel menstrual cup wipe to sanitize.  If you don’t want to take the cleaning cup with you, you can throw a couple of these special cleaning travel wipes designed specifically for the menstrual cups, and then remove your cup, dump it, wipe it down, and reinsert.  Everything has been thought of, and there’s no excuse not to try it. You also never run out of product like you can with pads or tampons.  Nothing is worse than starting Shark Week and not having enough supplies!

In conclusion, I would urge every lady to give this a go.  Especially if you’re a tampon user.  Less cost, less waste, more safety, more convenience.  If you’re an active person, these are also great.  They do not budge or leak.  You can swim with them, and they will not absorb river, lake, pool, or ocean waters like a tampon might, introducing bacteria inside of you.  For teens in school who also get limited bathrooms breaks, this would also be a healthier safer alternative for them.  Pair these with a small organic cotton pantyliner just in case, and they can feel worry free and confident all day and not have to be worried of the dreaded school leak.

In fact, after I wrote this my teen daughter read it over and expressed an interest.  I was overjoyed, as getting teens to try new weird stuff especially period related it like training a cat to swim.  We purchased the two-pack Lena kit with the small and large cup.  She listened as I explained how to use it and stay clean and safe with it, and she tried it.  She loves it!  I also purchased some period underwear, which has built in extra thickness to absorb any leaks and are worn instead of panty liners.  I bought them initially for me to wear as backup to cut down on panty liner use, and now she would like a set.  The amount of cost and waste we have cut down on the last few months has been amazing.  This has made a normally uncomfortable time of the month a thousand times more tolerable.  Remember, up to 12 hours of wear depending on flow!  You just can’t beat that. 

The most important thing to remember, is that just because we’ve been doing something the same way for so long, that doesn’t mean it’s the best, the safest, or that it’s our only option.  When it comes to our bodies, we need to do everything we can to keep them safe and happy.  We must do everything we can for our earth and landfills.  These cups solve all these issues.  Lastly, as with all products in life, everyone is shaped differently, and has unique bodies.  What works for me, might not work for you.  This doesn’t mean you can’t use a cup, it just means that your body might need a different style of cup.  They all have a different thicknesses, flexibility, shapes, and sizes.  You’ll know you have the right one because you can’t feel it when you wear it.  If my brand doesn’t work for you, try another one!  I cannot express enough how worth it this is. 

Below is a list of the cup I use, as well as the travel wipes, and storage cup.   Try until you find one that’s works, and bask in the savings, and knowing you’re doing good by your body, and your earth!

*This post contains affiliate links.  This means that if you make a purchase through a provided links below, this site makes a small commission at no extra cost to you!  This helps support our content, and we only provide links to products we believe in.  Want to read the full disclosure? Click here.

The Lena Cup Sensitive

The Lena Cup 2-Pack (Small and Large)

The collapsible silicon storage cup

The travel wipes

Organic cotton liners pesticide and chemical free (You can get a pack of 2, 3 or 4)

Period panties (lines heavily up the back for overnight protection.  Follow their size chart as they run super small.  Wash in the washing machine with like colors, and I air dry)

Let me know how these work for you, and prepare to be blown away with comfort, convenience, freedom, and saving your health, the earth, and your wallet! This article is geared towards the average period having lady, if due to medical restrictions you are not able to use a cup then please make sure your products are pesticide free, sustainable, and organic. Most of the big box store and well known brands are not.

Autumn pumpkins with squash

Falling For Squash

Ok, ok, so I couldn’t help myself with that title.  I’m just too excited about fall squash season!  Why, might you ask?  Well let’s break it down.

As summer squashes like zucchini and yellow squash come to the end of their season, you should be seeing your local stores and markets starting to offer an assortment of fancy squashes.  They come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors.  Let’s talk about what I think make up the top three and talk about how to prepare them.

Before we dig into these yummy gourds, let’s talk about why I’m so excited.  If you’re anything like me, I’m a total foodie.  I love trying new things, but what I especially love is finding new healthy dishes based off old classics or finding out how to make new healthy dishes based off what’s in season.  Shopping and cooking based off what’s in season is great because not only do those items tend to be cheaper because they’re plentiful, but they will be in the best shape and nutritional value.

Talking about nutritional value, the top 3 squashes I’d like to talk about are Acorn squash, Butternut squash, and my personal fave, Spaghetti squash.  In regards to what makes squash an excellent healthy choice, you will find that they’re filling, they have a ton of vitamins and such, and they’re very low in calories. Let’s get to it!

First up is Acorn squash.  These are called so because of their acorn shape, although of course are much larger in size. They tend to be green in color and have ridges like a pumpkin.  They’re typically baked, and then the flesh can be eaten alongside whatever you stuffed the squash with and baked, or you can scoop out the baked flesh and add it to soups or make purees.

As far as nutritional composition goes, this squash is 82 calories cooked per cup of mashed.  Its carbs come in at 22 grams, and the most impressive is the list of vitamins and minerals and such, like being high in potassium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Magnesium, B-6, and finally a bit of iron and calcium.  Have a sweet tooth?  One of the best desserts that’s healthier than most are perfect for these little guys.

Try This:

Preheat oven to 350F (175C)

Cut acorn squash in half and scoop out seeds and stringy center (like a pumpkin)

Place open side down onto parchment paper on a baking sheet and bake for 30-45 minutes until the flesh begins to soften.

Make two coils out of tinfoil to place the squash now face up on so they don’t slide around (you can also trim a flat bottom by slicing off a small piece of the skin side to create a flat bottom, just keep it minimal)

Mix together 2 tablespoons of either vegan butter, or high-quality salted butter with 4 tablespoons brown sugar and divide evenly in bowl.

Now score the open side flesh in vertical lines and then across the opposite way to create a hatched effect.  This is necessary to allow the butter and sugar to flavor the squash and not just pool in the middle.

Spread the butter and sugar mixture evenly over the scored flesh.

Return the squash to the oven, now flesh side up on the foil coils, and bake for an additional 30-40 minutes.

Remove from the oven, allow to cool for a few minutes, and scoop and enjoy.

Coming in at 190 calories, it’s better than most desserts and you get a good amount!

 

The next guy on the list is Butternut squash.  This gourd has a smooth outer skin with beige toned coloring.  Its shape is like a long pear, with a smaller neck and a fatter round bottom half.  Like most other squash, it’s best roasted, it’s versatile as in it can be used for savory or sweet dishes, and this squash in particular has seeds that can be roasted and consumed.  In fact, these seeds are very healthy for you to eat, and have large quantities of good stuff like zinc, which is great for immune health.  Simply rinse them off when you’re scooping out the squash to roast and place them in a high side cookie sheet in a salt water solution.  Roast on low heat until the water is evaporated.

As far as the flesh goes, it also should be roasted, and then can be used to make savory dishes, and especially does well as a puree.  I often will boil some raw chunks in water till they soften, add vegan milk like coconut or almond, vegan butter, and then blend with an immersion blender.  You will get a wonderful warm thick sauce to use as a base for so many dishes.  I will add some extra sharp cheddar cheese freshly grated to make a mac and cheese type of dish.  You can add nutritional yeast if you prefer to keep it vegan!

Between roasting this squash with either savory spices and meats or doing a cinnamon brown sugar bake, there are so many options.  Again, it’s chock full of health benefits.  One cup has only 82 calories for one cup cubed and cooked. There’s 22 carbs, 7 grams of fiber, and has more potassium than a banana.  This one is also high on things like Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and such.

Vitamin A is especially wonderful to consume from squash as this vitamin comes from beta carotene.  This is converted in our body to retinoids and it has been shown that beta carotene can help lower your risk of certain cancers like lung cancer and breast cancer.  It has also been shown to help with eye diseases and skin damage from UV rays.  Who doesn’t need more of this good stuff?!

 

How to Roast Butternut Squash:

One way it can be done is roasted skinless and sliced into cubes.  For this you will need one butternut squash.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (175C)

Peel it*, cut it in half, and remove the seeds and strings.  Keep seeds aside if you wish to roast later.  Continue by cutting the squash into 1-inch cubes.  Place them in a large mixing bowl.

*Pro-tip for peeling and cutting.  Poke small holes around the squash and microwave for 3 minutes.  Let it cool, and then it will slice and peel so much easier.  If microwave isn’t an option, bake for 15 minutes and then proceed to peel and cube.  Use a vegetable peeler to remove skin, and then slice.

Add to the bowl 2 tablespoons olive oil, and seasonings to taste.  Salt and pepper are a good way to go, as well as some garlic that’s been peeled and minced, or you can go with a dash of cinnamon and a light sprinkle of brown sugar if you want a sweeter dish.

Toss all ingredients together and then arrange the seasoned and oiled squash onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Roast until the flesh is soft and tender, around 25-30 minutes.  They should brown slightly.

You can try this recipe with various herb combinations or combine it with other veggies. Try adding some baby carrots or small halved potatoes!  My favorite version is when I add some fresh rosemary, some fresh thyme, salt, halved baby potatoes, fresh crushed garlic and towards the end I’ll add some pats of Irish cream grass-fed butter like the brand Kerrygold.  They make a fabulous garlic and herbed butter that’s to die for.  It makes the dish taste like a warm fall day and fresh green gardens all at once.  High quality butter can make all the difference.

 

Finally, our last and my personal favorite on the squashes list is Spaghetti Squash.  This squash is pale yellow in color and an oval shape.  As with the other squashes above, this one is versatile, delicious, easy to prepare, but this one boasts the lowest calorie count.  One cup of cooked squash has only around 42 calories!  The only smaller downside is that its not as high as the previous squashes for potassium or vitamins.  However, as a low-calorie food, this makes a great option for those looking for a full meal that’s not calorie dense.  If you need to lose some weight with a calorie deficit and a healthy lifestyle, this is a great way to go.  If you were to add some of the other squashes listed as a desert item or a savory side dish with a lean protein for dinner, you can reap the benefits of all these squashes!

What really makes this squash amazing is how it ends up behaving once roasted.  When it’s finished, it should be slightly caramelized and fork tender.  Now comes the fun part!  Drag a fork across the flesh and watch it come out in strings like spaghetti.  This means you can stuff them with meat sauces or tomato sauces and mix in herbs and top with cheeses if desired.  One of my favorite things to do though, is simply to roast it, let it cool, and then remove it with the fork until I have a container full of “noodles”.  Then comes the fun part.  Since these are so neutral in flavor and leaning towards a mild sweetness, they can absorb and take on any flavor.  Two of my favorite go-to dishes are tossed together in a few minutes with easy to find ingredients.  These are perfect for a busy lifestyle, and they can be made in a huge batch and you can take as much as needed per meal.

Let’s start with how to roast:

Pierce skin with a fork along the line you will cute along later to cut it in half.  Place them in a microwave for five minutes, and then let them cool until they can be handled.  If a microwave isn’t an option, roast them at 400F for 15 minutes. Then remove and allow to cool before attempting to cut in half.

Cut the squash in half, scoop out seeds and strings.  Coat them in olive oil spray and sprinkle with salt.  Place them flesh side down!  This is very important so that it will scrape out properly.  Roast at 400F for 50-60 minutes.  The outside skin should be browned, and the inside will have caramelized edges lightly browned.  Allow to cool a few minutes and then scrape out flesh with a fork.  Allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container for up to a week.

At this point you can add your sauces or whatever seasonings and dinner is ready!  Personally, my two favorite dishes these days involve fast and easy prep from the container of cooled stored noodles.

The first dish will prepare a sort of Harvest salad and you will need:

1-2 cups of prepared squash noodles

1 grated apple and its juice

1 tablespoon pitted sliced kalamata olives

1 tablespoon of goat or feta cheese (if you want to keep it vegan, crumble some drained and pressed tofu and marinade it in some vinaigrette or Italian dressing)

A small handful of baby heirloom tomatoes sliced

1 tablespoon of sliced pecans or walnuts

A sprinkle of dried cranberries or cherries

At this point you can add a tablespoon of your favorite vinaigrette like a fuji apple blend, a high-quality Italian dressing, or simply a drizzle of balsamic glaze. Mix together and enjoy!

 

The other recipe I enjoy for dinner is an Asian fusion that’s delicious and healthy!

You will need:

1-2 cups of your cold squash noodles

1 tablespoon of your favorite Asian-themed marinade or sauce. You can alternatively use a tamari sauce, a soy sauce, or coconut aminos if you want alternatives.  You can even marinade again some tofu if you want to add some protein.

½ teaspoon fresh grated ginger

½ teaspoon of fresh crushed garlic

1 teaspoon peanut powder

A small handful of edamame

Some snap peas

A small handful of shredded red cabbage

Mix well and enjoy!  Feel free to bulk it out with any other yummy toppings like avocado, peanuts, tomatoes or even add some cooked lean protein.  Try some baked teriyaki glazed salmon if you wish.

 

If you tried any of these recipes, let me know what you thought!  Stay healthy and eat well.  A happy body and a happy mind equal a healthy life.

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What is Fortnite and Should My Kid Play It??

So as an avid gamer, I usually stay decently informed on the latest games.  However, I need to remind myself that not everyone is in the know.  One of my dearest friends had recently messaged me asking if I knew anything about this game Fortnite.  I was surprised because this game is everywhere.  I mean everywhere…  Have you seen your kids randomly dancing suddenly?  Does it seem like they’re all doing the same moves when you see kids dancing?  If you look around while shopping, you’ll see merchandise, kids dancing all over, you’ll hear them bragging about “kills per game” and asking each other how many wins they have, and an assortment of various gaming questions.  Being that this game is the hottest thing right now since sliced bread, let me break it down for you folks that are not sure what this game is all about that your kids are begging you to let them play.

Fortnite first released in 2017.  Unlike other typical shooters, where you have a team of players versus another team of players, Fortnite utilizes two game modes.

The first mode is Save the world.  This is more campaign based, meaning you play through with given objectives and you fight against generated enemies like zombies.  You do have the option to invite friends and let them help you in your quests.  As of right now, that’s an add-on that costs money.

The second and more popular mode, is what’s known as a Battle Royale.  This is a newer concept that a few other games utilize.  The principle is similar to the old royal rumbles that you could watch on wrestling on TV when wrestling was at its peak where many would enter and only one would emerge the victor.  In the game version, 100 players all online auto join a lobby.  After it fills with the number of players needed, it transports the players to a flying bus that allows you to overlook an island.  The island is the contained fighting grounds.  There are named locations, and players can skydive out of their bus and land at any location.  The island has a woods type vibe, very similar to Minecraft.  The main objective is to gather supplies like wood, brick, and metal by destroying trees and shelled out structures, and to explore abandoned building and forage for weapons and ammo.  One you’re sufficiently armed, it’s time to survive!

The player has many options of playstyle.  They can choose to creep along strategically and cautiously, or you can aggressively pursue other players.  The main goal is to be the last man standing, therefore winning the game.

I feel that the popularity comes from there being an easy control set and interface making it easy to move, build, and fight.  It’s not overly complicated and has mass appeal to the younger generation and adults.  They also have different modes within the game concept; for example, you can enter the island arena solo, or you can be paired with a friend on your friends list or you can opt to be paired with a random person.  The other option is to enter the arena as a squad, which means it pits your four-man team against other teams of four.

There are a variety of pros and cons though, so let’s get into that and sum things up!

Pros:

Battle Royale is free on all platforms, including Android and iPhone devices so you can play mobile

It’s an easy game to learn with a simple control layout and simple in concept

It encourages tactical and strategic thinking

It doesn’t push you to make additional purchases

Low on the violence scale, meaning that there is no blood splattering out or animated gore of any kind.  This makes it more like you’re “tagging” the enemy with bullets that either knock them down or eliminate them.  When eliminated, the game teleports out the character, leaving no “dead” bodies.

Finally, this isn’t so much a pro as a fun perk, but there is a paid add-on that I am fond of.  The game offers what’s known as a Battle Pass.  On PlayStation this costs $10 dollars.  What does it do?  It gives you a variety of weekly objectives for all skill levels from easy tasks like “open 7 chests” to “dance under a street light in a certain location”.  As you complete these challenges, you earn points to unlock cosmetics for your character.  Cue the dancing you see your child doing.  You earn outfits for your character, accessories, dances, and various other small cosmetic items.  Within the pass is also the in-game currency, known as V-Bucks.  With the purchase of the Battle Pass, you can actually earn enough V-Bucks to purchase the new battle pass for the next season! I personally don’t mind purchasing this since it supports the developers and after all, the base mode of this game was free!

Cons:

There are only two major cons I find for this game.

First, is that it’s easy to get really entrenched and spend entirely too much time playing this game.  I know kids who just can’t wait to get home and go right for their console or PC.  It’s so important to remember to set boundaries and time slots for your child’s gaming.  It’s not like back in the day when you got bored of the same tired level and instead looked forward to going outside with your friends for socializing. The majority of these games are online, which means not only is there an urge to keep playing to try and win, but if left unattended they spend their time dealing with online strangers all day.  Would you let your child wander around any old dark alley unattended?  Well welcome to the internet.  Kids especially seem to think they’re safe behind an anonymous character and the safety of their room.  This isn’t entirely true, and besides the obvious of your child being recorded and ending up in some horribly embarrassing YouTube montage where they get laughed at, other more sinister and tenacious people can coax out personal info that can have negative results.

 

Which brings me to my last but most important con.  There are a lot of adults that play this game and children that play this game. I’m frequently shocked and surprised at the words that come out of these young kids (I’m talking 10-13 year olds) and it is painfully obvious that they’re completely unsupervised and I’d bet their parents have no idea what’s going on.  There’s also a shocking number of adults that will mock and harass younger kids and leave them upset and not having fun anymore.

What can you do?  Always make sure your child has account settings in place to help protect them.  On PlayStation you can go into their profile within the PlayStation menu and you can turn off messaging and friend requests to help cut down on harassment.  You can change who’s allowed to message, as in, only friends can message your child. Other consoles also tend to have similar options in place to help avoid unwanted attention and harassment.  Even as an adult female gamer, I get a lot of nonsense sent to me, so these tools have been invaluable.  Always make sure you review who your child is adding.  Talk to your child about internet safety, like not giving away personal information. If you’re on a different console or PC, make sure you familiarize yourself with their parental tools and settings to keep you kid safer.  Lastly, I allow my kids to play, but since they’re only 11 and 13, I didn’t want them to be able to talk or listen to other players.  Within the Fortnite menu, you have the option to disable the chat and mute all chat.  This lets my kids still participate in any game mode without worry of random strangers.  Of course, the downside being it makes working as a team more difficult when you can’t communicate.  Personally, I recommend only allowing your child to add friends they actually know in real life, like additional extended family, cousins, and friends from school.  This will allow them to have teammates without worry.

 

Fortnite draws more than 125 million players annually.  It’s a powerhouse of a game and has a fun tactical element that encourages teamplay.  With the right tools you can make sure your kid can enjoy this game no matter what age they are.  Stay safe and game on!

halloween make up sugar skull

Upgrade your Fantasy Makeup Game for any Occasion

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If you’re anything like me, I love an alternative look.  Or any excuse to dress up and do some crazy face painting or makeup in general.  How we present ourselves can add a powerful mind boost and confidence boost.  The right look can transport you into a whole new persona or character.  If you’ve ever watched a drag queen themed show, I don’t think anyone can deny that sassy severe change that comes from normal 9-5 Bob, to a swishing and sashaying of Valinda the Fabulous, all from some amazing makeup and clothing skills.  If you carefully consider it, makeup is simply an art form, on a three-dimensional canvas.  It takes patience, an eye for color and proportion, and a working knowledge of basic color theory.  These days, people of all ages and identity are getting in on the fabulous world of face art.  Go ahead and throw some makeup related words into Instagram, and you might be pleasantly surprised to see a lot of people of all creeds, colors, and genders dolling it up, and there are some men just killing it, far more skillful than I can hope to ever be!  Some have even made it into national makeup campaigns and represent major makeup brands. (James Charles I’m looking at you!) James became the first male face of CoverGirl!

That said, with Halloween looming, and with having kids in general, face painting seems to come up a handful of times a year as they celebrate various occasions. I have terribly sensitive skin, and I have found that cheap makeup not only tends to dry hard and flaky, but it also makes my skin itchy.  Both of my girls also have very sensitive skin.  This year I decided that’s it, I’m going to suck it up and search for something a bit better in quality, that won’t break the bank, and that will carry over maybe for a few years.  After some scouring and reading reviews on Amazon, I sucked it up and made a choice.

I selected the Mehron Makeup Paradise AQ Face and Body Paint and color palette.  This is a basic color set of eight colors.  The colors within are black, white, red, yellow, blue, green, orange, and brown.  They’re water activated.  I selected this set because this was a brand name I’ve heard a few times within tutorials of fantasy makeup and body paint. They’re also no strangers to the game, having been in the makeup making game for over 90 years!  This set is semi-soft, water activated, and when I did add water with a brush and swirled it, it turns that layer into a beautiful thick creamy paint.  I found it to be very opaque, and it has a slight pleasant smell.  The white was a very true white, not that weird yellow hue that some cheaper paints can have.  The black as well was super solid.   I also applied a blend of white and black with a sponge and was not disappointed with how they blended to grey.  There are various sets for purchase online, so pick accordingly to the project at hand.

Reading further, I was pleasantly surprised to see these are vegan, and made in the USA, so there should be less worry about quality control and questionable ingredients that may not be up to our standards here in the US.

I armed myself with a few other tools to make the job easier.  I prepared by having a clean makeup and oil free face.  I got two glasses, each filled with water.  One was rinsing water or dirty water, and then the second was for adding water to the cakes or to do a final brush rinse.  I folded some paper towel, but you could use an older washcloth if you want to be more eco-friendly.

When it came to application, there are a few basic tools everyone should have to make the job easier.  The brush included wasn’t my favorite, and if you do need to texturize, stipple, blend, or even to cover a large area, a brush won’t be enough.  At least not the one included.  I additionally purchased an imitation beauty blender sponge set for larger area applications and blending, which I ended up loving because they came in a few different shapes, plus there were 6 in a set so I could use them for different colors without worrying about contamination or color bleed.  I also bought a synthetic brush set for doing detail face work and lines and such in a 10-piece set.  Finally, I purchased a mid-range quality Ink Liner pen by Nyx, because those make life so much easier for super fine detail, and just for outlining in general.  It’s especially great for around the eyes since that’s what its designed for, and you have less chance then for irritation from any paints.

As I experimented, is was abundantly clear that these are prime quality paints. They smelled lovely, a light clean smell.  They felt so soft as a dry cake and went velvety and creamy when I added the water.  I didn’t find it to dry hard and it didn’t crack.  The colors stayed crisp and bright.  When you’re finished, I would suggest a light powdering with a normal translucent makeup setting powder, and/or your favorite makeup setting spray.  A good misting should seal it.  Mehron also makes their own barrier spray, but I think there are gentler sprays out there, especially if kids are using it.

In the end it was well worth the price.  I feel like every year we spend more on cheaper one time use makeup sets and always need to buy a few of them because everyone will want different looks.  This way it’s a small investment for years of enjoyment and happier skin.

Have a happy and safe Halloween and let me know if these worked for you!

Halloween Pumpkins

Non-Candy Halloween Treats That Don’t Suck!

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Ok, I know you saw the title and immediately thought, “Why on earth would anyone want that?!”  So, let’s just hop right in.  Candy has been a long-standing tradition for Halloween since the 1930’s-40’s in America.  It wasn’t uncommon to get small toys, coins, homemade food, trinkets, and such.  In the 1950’s, candy manufacturers started to catch on and began making and marketing special small sized bags of candy specifically geared towards the Halloween festivities.  In 1970, a huge push for safe candy made the final transition from homemade goods and cookies to fully sealed manufactured treats as the only acceptable and safe candy.  When I was a kid, and even to this day, our mom always made us dump out our candy to sort through before consuming.  Anything that was opened or homemade looking was tossed.

Here we are now in modern day.  One thing has become clear, and that is that now as a parent with a child with mild sensory issues, and having friends with special needs children, children with sensory perception disorders, and allergies severe enough to warrant sitting at a special nut-free table at school at lunch, that Halloween can be downright difficult and alienating for some of these children.  What can we do that isn’t just lame pencils or erasers for cool non-candy items?  How can one make sure these kids that have restrictions still get to participate?  I have a few ideas, so let’s get to it!

First up, lets talk about various small “treat” ideas that are safe for kids with food allergies, and that appeal to the kids as being a reasonably hip “treat” and not a lame one.  Having two children in middle school, we scoured the internet and brainstormed ideas based off their encounters with the kids at their schools.

Here’s our list of the top items:

First up, Squishies!  If you don’t know what these are, they’re small toys that are shaped like all sorts of cute animals, or food items like sushi, and they tend to have cute cartoon faces on them.  You can buy these in bulk sets, and some come with key chains, so they can be clipped onto backpacks and stuff!  They’re pretty gender neutral, and a great thing to take to school to give out to friends and not set off any food allergies.  They’re also as the name suggests, a hoot to squish up, and then watch them expand again.  They’re great for fidgeters, and they’re quiet!

I bought two different styles to check out, one set has 30 pieces, and is made from foam.  The set I bought retails for about $14 bucks, which for a classroom worth of “treats” anyone can use, that’s not a bad investment, especially since it won’t be consumed, and they can keep them till they squish no more! Find them here. Pack of 30 Squishes

The second set is a different style.  They come individually wrapped and have an almost sticky quality to them.  They’re more stretchy because of this different material, plus they’re fun to throw at a wall and watch them stick!  The shapes of the characters are adorable.  These can look like candy though!!!  To remedy this, I bought a cheap pack of labels from a dollar store and added a label that says, “This item is a toy, Do Not EAT!” These Mochi squishy toys retail on Amazon for about $10 bucks and have 20 pieces! Find them here. Pack of 20 Squishes

The next item on the list is a fun and detailed set of pull-back cars and trucks.  As a kid, I loved anything remote controlled, or that went by itself across the floor.  You can get a whole set of 20 pieces for about $12 bucks!  Vroom vroom! This set uses nontoxic materials and moving parts like shovels and truck beds.  Personally, I would mix these with the squishies for variety.  Find those here. 20 Pull Back Trucks

Finally, life wouldn’t be complete without at least one fun set of items that really put the “trick” in trick-or-treat.  That would be the wonderfully titillating and giggle-fit inducing fart sound slime!  If you’re thinking, “Ew gross!”  Don’t worry, it’s not as bad as it sounds.  It’s basically a small container of slime, that when forcefully pressed into itself or the container, it needs to release the air that gets trapped, and because of the soft nature of the slime, it makes a rather impressive crass-sounding noise.  I can’t remember a time when this item hasn’t made a child giggle hysterically and run off to show their friends.  This item is also excellent for children who thrive on sensory experiences, as it’s pleasing to touch and the audible noise is grin-producing.  These come in a set of 12, and retail for about $11 dollars.  Find them here. 12 Pack of Fart Slime

There are a few ways one can utilize these items.  You can either be the one offering an alternative candy bucket for trick-or-treaters just to be prepared, or, you’re the parent with a child that would benefit from these and need a plan to make sure your kid can participate fully.  If you’re just offering an alternative, there’s a few different avenues you can go down.  My small town does what’s called a trunk-or-treat, meaning the local church organizes a street lined with cars with open trunks for the kids to trick or treat at.  When you’re living in a rural area this helps kids have a place to go.  You can always buy some containers from the dollar store, divide these items among some buckets, and offer them to each vehicle for any kids that come along that can utilize this.  The other thing you can do is if candy can be brought to school for Halloween, you can donate it to the classroom, or allow your kids to pass them out to everyone, making sure then that everyone can be included.

If you live in a more normal suburban neighborhood, ask a family member or friend to dress up so that your kid doesn’t know it’s them.  Maybe they wear a small mask and go about three houses ahead of you, and have your helper let the house know that a child with restrictions is coming, and if they could offer them this certain toy.  A friend did this, and had her sister walk ahead a few houses, and explained that the little girl with glasses in the pink princess outfit had allergies, and to please offer her this item, and they handed the neighbor a toy or safe candy to give to Claire.  Claire was tickled to be able to walk house to house still and get safe candy and toys, and the neighbors were thrilled to help and more than willing to participate.  It feels great to know you’re helping another person after all, and this world needs all the love we can give!

In the end, I’m not opposed to candy; in fact, my girls know to hide their bags, or I’ll demand first pick as payment for taking them, ha-ha!  However, I feel strongly that every child should be able to participate.  Hopefully you find some of these items and ideas helpful this year! Happy Halloween, and safe travels!

Office workplace with open laptop on wooden desk

Pretty Dirty Dark & Nerdy

So I’ve been nervously circling my laptop for two hours now.  In my procrastination and fear I’ve managed two  loads of laundry, watched a kettle boil for tea, washed all of the dishes I had planned to let soak overnight, and now snickering mentally as I type this, I have to admit that I read three different articles on how to start a blog post…ha!

 

The takeaway here folks, is I’m more productive avoiding something I fear than if I had just sat down and gritted through it.  But I realize now, isn’t that how it always is?  Trying to manage our time, be the best human we can be, hope we threw enough karma into the universe for the day, and repeat it the next day?

 

That said, let me now near the end introduce myself and go over what we will be doing here.  My name is Liz, I’m an old lady in internet years at 38, and I’m fairly certain I’m having a pre-midlife crisis.  And it’s the best thing  that’s ever happened to me.

 

I am a stay at home mom of two amazingly different girls.  They entered middle school together for the only year they will share, as one is going into 6th grade and the other 8th.  This whole blog and website adventure started just before they entered school.  I was having a moment where I was having an argument with my husband, and he said something that literally blew my brain into a deadly and angry silence.  And let me tell you, my brain is never quiet.  He at one point had said to me that he would “take care of it (insert issue here) like he takes care of everything!”

 

Now let me assure you, this was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.  At this time, I, like I’m sure most mothers that get to stay home and raise their kids, have given up a lot of freedom, events, hobbies, work and so forth to stay home and make sure your kids are growing up the right way and your house stays clean and everyone is happy right?

 

Well, I thought that I was doing a good job.  I do suffer anxiety, and at that time I wasn’t driving.  However my mother lived here and was around to help, and we usually  went shopping on the weekends anyways.  Because I carried heavy guilt for my restrictions, I went out of my way to try and cater to everyone that I could.  I called all our bill companies and tried to get lower rates for insurances and utilities.  I made sure dinner was cooked, kids were clean, and did whatever yard work I could.

 

So when that fateful day came, and he said those words, my brain sort of snapped.  It went quiet, and I didn’t know what that meant exactly.  I remember thinking, this must be what it feels like to truly feel crazy.  I knew it was bad, because somehow, I was okay with this sensation.  This was my catalyst.

 

I realized, after speaking and crying to my mother, to friends, my two best friends, one male and one female, that I wasn’t alone.  I started to feel better about the situation if only that we as adults were all having our struggles.  It’s funny, things seem hunky-dory on social medias, but it had been a long time since I actually had sat down and talked with my mouth to friends.  What surprised me even further was finding out I wasn’t alone.  The men I spoke with had worries and frustration, same as we ladies did.

 

I sat down and started to think.  I began to really take a look around me, and became horrified to realize that I was stuck in a rut.  I wasn’t sure I was actually doing a good job with my kids.  I wasn’t sure I was a good mother or wife.  And I began to fear that time was flying by, and I had nothing to give to the world.  No way to leave my mark, nothing to be said that was amazing about my happiness or contributions.  At those moments, I realized I was worth more than just being a mother, a maid, and housewife.

 

I have gifts I want to give the world.  I want to talk about kids and social media and video games ( Did I mention I’m super geeky and nerdy as well as punk and have played video games since I was about 7?  I currently own multiple Playstation systems and play avidly when I can.) I want to have a safe space we can discuss issues and fears and be supportive.  I want to talk about anxiety and society and tell you about how I have a whole website counterpart of products I just launched.

 

So let’s buckle in, be kind, laugh at our mistakes, groan at the latest social media trends, talk about mom stuff and nerdy stuff.  Most importantly of all, lets inspire each other, and be okay with sometimes having  a not so great day.

“Failure isn’t a bad thing, it just means you haven’t found the right way to do something yet.”