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Marley’s Monsters Eco-Friendly Haul #1

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I often joke that the older I get, the more of a conspiracy theorist I become. What’s actually happened is that I’ve just had a shift in my values and priorities.

Over the past year and a half, one of the new priorities in my life has been cutting back my waste as opposed to reaching for what is the most convenient. According to the EPA, in 2015 the average amount of waste a person produces each day is nearly 4.5 pounds. 4.5 pounds of GARBAGE EVERY SINGLE DAY. I can’t handle that, and neither can our precious, miraculous earth.

Thanks to the magic of Instagram, I became aware of ways to reduce that number for myself and my family. Marley’s Monsters is a semi-local company to me that creates adorable reusable, waste-diminishing products. After nearly a year of showing Justen every product on their website once a month, I took advantage of their Earth Day 25% off sale and made a purchase!

Marley's Monsters eco friendly reusable products review

Here’s what I purchased:

-16 facial rounds
-1 mesh wash bag for facial rounds
-12 UnPaper towels
-1 linen travel straw pouch

We currently live in a small cluster of apartments and share 1 washing machine with everyone. Because of that, our transition over to being waste-free is less of a cold turkey-ing paper products and more of a “use these less often.” As of now, we’ve already stretched out one roll of paper towels by having a cloth rag available for wiping the counters. If we had easy, guaranteed access to a washing machine, I’d have less reservation about completely cutting ties with paper products. For now, I’m trying to be at least 80/20 with waste – 8 out of 10 times reaching for something reusable before something disposable.

Marley’s Monsters Facial Rounds in Vintage Lemon

I’ve been using these facial rounds to wipe off my oil cleanser, and I love them! They take a little more energy than a washcloth because of their size, but they’re really soft and work really well. I have plans to one day make a bunch of lemon/witch hazel wipes in a jar to cut back on the cotton balls.

I also got one of these little mesh laundry bags to keep my dirty rounds in so they can be thrown in the wash without getting lost in everything else. It’s super convenient!


UnPaper Towels in Blue

The UnPaper towels were the first thing I fell in love with. Just by being aware, we’ve cut our paper towel usage in half and I’m hoping these can help even more! There’s only 12, so not enough to completely replace paper towels but enough to help us create new habits. We’ll probably reserve these (for now) for wiping off spills and water. Eventually I’d love to have enough to put on a roll and completely replace our paper towels.


Reusable straw pouch

aaaand my personal fave: a reusable straw pouch! I’ve been awkwardly carrying mine in my purse in a reusable plastic bag, but this one is SO CUTE! I got an extra large one because I have a few tall straws. My favorite part? There’s a removable dirty pouch that snaps on the inside. This is a game changer.

This is only my first purchase but it definitely won’t be my last! If you’ve hopped on the reusable train like I have, check out Marley’s Monsters! Use this link and get 15% off your purchase πŸ™‚

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Baby Spanx bump

Here’s something crazy: right now, I’m creeping up on being HALFWAY THROUGH my pregnancy. There are a lot of feelings to dive into with that, but let me start by sharing this:

Being overweight and pregnant is a super weird experience.Β 

After years of struggling with my weight, I found myself at my highest weight when I got married. Then I went ahead and topped that and hit my highest weight when I found out that I was pregnant.

When I was younger and I imagined getting married and starting a family and such, I would imagine that by then I’d have my life together. I’d eat so many vegetables every day and like exercising. I’d love being in pictures with my person and then people and my hair would most likely always be brushed.


SO ANYWAY, now that I’ve set the stage.

I’m a part of all of these pregnancy forums and I started noticing that people were posting about their growing little baby bumps. In high school, there was an old lady at my church who would come up to me EVERY SUNDAY and touch my stomach and ask if I was pregnant. I’d laugh and say “no, these are oreos,” but man. So I know that I’ve got me a round little midsection.

Y’all I’m over here on PHYSICAL PROOF OF PREGNANCY watch 24/7. Thanks to a smaller appetite, I’ve actually been LOSING weight. My pants fit the same. Everything is basically the same except I can’t have runny egg yolks or ride on rides at Disneyland.

On Easter, I woke up to Justen saying “if you wore that one pink dress today, we’d match.” Usually if I try to match him, he changes his clothes. You can imagine how excited I was to wear that pink dress.

The last time I’d worn it was on our 1 year anniversary in October.

I put on my trusty Spanx, the pink dress, and set off on my day.

ps I actually have a full set of fingers on my left hand, inc are you were concerned.Β 

and then.


Then came the “oh my gosh, you’re starting to show!” comments. Wearing a dress that fit and looked no different than it did in October, under the watchful eye of someone dying to see or experience any actual signs of being pregnant.

Like someone actually came up and touched my Spanx controlled stomach and said it.

Bless her.

So on Easter, my Spanx – which I often identify with smoothing and holding in and hiding lines and such – my Spanx betrayed me. For whatever reason, probably because the pregnant women on Instagram all look like they have firm, stretched out stomachs, the smoothness of my round stomach suddenly triggered the baby bump exclamation.

Bless all y’all.Β 

and bless you Spanx for the huge letdown for the first time in my whole entire life. You really betrayed me on this one.


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Thank you, Spring.

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Never in my life have I been more willing to wish winter a fond get the f*** out of my life farewell. Our winter was a whirlwind of quick downsizing, making ourselves at home living in a studio, finding out I was pregnant, finding out we had 4 days to move back to our old apartment (praise hands for the timing of that), feeling like “okay, this is finally back to normal”… just in time for Justen to find out his job was being terminated.

In the midst of all of that comes things like the unexpected days of crippling grief, a constant fear that our baby had died but my body hadn’t done anything about it, and honestly the off and on feeling of being a complete monster because I daily wished I wasn’t pregnant at this moment.

Finally it all broke when we were sitting in the car outside of the parking lot and Justen asked me a question that I’ve been asking myself for years, but man it stings coming from someone who loves you: Why can’t we just be happy? Why can’t this just be happy?

Through the chapped lips of winter, I responded that I didn’t know. I’ve watched other people excitedly announce their pregnancies while I wonder what’s so broken about me that I literally have started referring to it as a “medical condition.” To be fair, the app from my medical provider has a list of “Ongoing Health Conditions” and mine are as follows:

  • Gallbladder disease
  • Major Depressive Disorder, Recurrent Episode, in Partial Remission
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Supervision High Risk Pregnancy

It IS a medical condition I’ve found myself in, along other things that have caused me severe pain, crippling emotions and a fear of the most irrational things. It’s a neat combination.

But winter is literally the picture representation of what my life with depression feels like. It’s cold, often to the bone. Walking outside often requires so much more work: SOCKS AND shoes, not just flip flops or flats. Gloves. A jacket. Maybe a scarf.

Then going places requires so much work. Snow tires. Warming the car. Scraping the ice. Driving slow and cautiously.

It’s easier to stay inside. Alone. Secluded. Short, darker days.

So trust me when I say Spring is the most welcomed season of my year. It’s not my favorite, that’s summer for sure. But by the time I start going “wow, it’s 7 pm and still light out!” or “it’s so nice I won’t wear a sweater” or the first day of the smell of turning on the A/C in my car, I am living for it.

Spring reminds me of this:

  • Darkness eventually fades.
  • Spring is a season of transition, so the chill of winter doesn’t completely dissipate, but it’s more frequently accompanied by blue skies than a sheet of gray.
  • Rainy days help me appreciate breaks in the cloud.
  • Lots of things are burrowed into the ground during winter; they don’t die, they’re just waiting to bloom again.
  • The sight of the first tiny flower of spring can often bring more joy than a field full of flowers once you’ve started seeing them everywhere.
  • Spring keeps winter in check, the fall keeps summer in check, and life really is just a back and forth between both the predictable cold chill of winter and the blistering heat of summer.
  • Anticipation works best if we’re constantly appreciating and noticing what’s around us, otherwise we go from jackets and scarves to shorts and flip flops without even noticing that nothing has changed.

One day I believe I’ll be able to embrace the cold dark winter with open arms and a heart ready to learn from it. The past few years I’ve merely tread its icy waters waiting to get out, but the sun through the windows, the birds chirping in the trees and the plants coming up from the ground makes it a lot easier to feel hopeful about what will inevitably come.

But for now, let me say that I am so grateful for spring.


ps I’m pregnant. I’ve shared it on Facebook and Instagram but not officially on my blog. So there you have it.

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Super easy Whole 30 compliant cinnamon apples

We’re not on Whole 30 and we haven’t been on Whole 30 for… like two years. But whenever we’re looking for a new recipe, we tend to search “Whole 30” and then the thing we’re looking for. Whole 30 chicken recipes, Whole 30 taco recipes, etc. If we discover something that is 1. easy and 2. Whole 30 compliant, then we know we can make it a part of our lives on the regular and not feel bad about it. Enter these Whole 30 compliant cinnamon apples.

Honestly, I found this recipe years ago when I was babysitting a little boy who ate a LOT. I wanted to make him something easy and tasty. Since then, this has been a staple in our house AND is often requested by kids I babysit for.

Get ready because it’s the simplest.

Three ingredients for these Whole 30 compliant cinnamon apples:

1 apple, diced.
Coconut oil

Optional, non-whole 30 ingredient:
Coconut milk vanilla ice cream

Whole 30 compliant cinnamon apples

Whole 30 Compliant Cinnamon apples

STEP ONE: Put a scoop of coconut oil in a skillet and heat on medium.
STEP TWO: While that’s heating, dice the apple(s), preferably with two super funny, cute kids to keep you company.

STEP THREE: pour diced apples into the skillet. Move around occasionally.

STEP FOUR: When the apples start getting a little mushy, sprinkle cinnamon all over them. Cook for another minute or so.. or really however long you want.

STEP FIVE: Dish up! They’re so delicious on their own OR you can add a scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream (that part is not Whole 30 compliant!).

Enjoy πŸ™‚

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In His Hands

In the months leading up to our wedding, I started really thinking about the whole better or worse thing.

I thought about our friends whose baby was stillborn.

I thought about my friend who loved and served his wife until the succumbed to cancer.

and the whole “worse” thing took center stage.

My wedding weekend was really tough for me. In addition to being knocked over and off my feet by a huge wave of grief, I kept thinking… this declaration and ceremony is BIG. I couldn’t just stand there and think of some house with a white picket fence and 100% healthy children and a long life. I stood there and thought… what if I have to wipe your butt in 7 years? What if our dreams shatter right before our eyes? What if we deal with a loss that threatens to drive us apart? THAT is what the day was about for me. The hard, the unimaginable, the “worse.”

As my friends were grieving and I was still distracted by the sparkly ring on my finger, I kept thinking “did they imagine AT ALL that THIS would come? did they think the worse would be THIS WORSE?”

Right now we’re going through our own season of “worse.” It’s nothing super traumatic. It’s not cancer or an empty nursery. It’s just stressful and hard. The past 24 hours, I’ve cried more than I have the whole year, I think. Year being like 2019, not calendar year, to keep it in the right perspective.

I did that super girl thing where I looked in the mirror when I got a wave of calm (why do we do that?) and as I stood there, watching fresh tears fall down my sad little face, I suddenly remembered a moment of our wedding.

There was a lot I let other people choose. The flowers. The food. The date. But the one thing I had to have my way was the music. I walked down the aisle to By Two by Dave Barnes (sung by one of best friends, Ernie). We walked out to Ever Ever After from Enchanted (don’t judge me). and during our communion, our friend Tyler sang I’m In His Hands, by my friend Phil. It was the best way I could think to reconcile the promise of the “worse.” When that wave rolls, there’s something more and bigger than Justen and I.

I will not fear, though the darkened clouds may gather ’round me.
I trust the One who whispers “Peace.”
Although the wind and waves may threaten to confound me,
He walked upon the raging seas. He still can calm the storm in me.

I cannot see in the night that lies before me,
but I hold the hand that made the stars. …

I’m in His hands, whatever the future holds, I’m in His hands.
The days I cannot see have all been planned for me.
His way is best, you see. I’m in His hands.

I'm in His Hands

I’ve mentioned that song before on my blog because that line about Christ straight up strolling across a stormy sea like it is nothing so of course the storm in my heart and in my head is not a big deal for Him to come in and conquer.

BUT. That’s honestly not what popped in my head as I stood there amazed that my normal eyes could magically transform into such a deep, scary pink color. Instead I thought of these OTHER lyrics.

“You don’t have to worry, and don’t you be afraid.
Joy comes in the morning, troubles they don’t last always
for there’s a friend named Jesus, who will wipe your tears away
and if your heart is broken, just lift your hands and say

‘I know that I can make it, with Him I know I can stand
No matter what may come my way, my life is in His hands.
With Jesus, I can take it. with Him I know I can stand.
No matter what may come my way, my life is in His hands.'”

Which of course made me think of the OTHER lyrics which then just made me start crying EVEN MORE (plus I was staring in the mirror which has like an 80% chance of making you cry again) because I realized that this is what I knew would eventually come. And all things considered…. it’s not cancer or death or anything that rips your heart out and makes it hard to breathe. It’s just a storm, and I know someone who is so unbothered by storms He can nap through them.

These “worse” and stormy seasons are held in holy, holey hands that sleep through, walk on, and straight up shush storms. and I think I’ve done a lot of looking for an umbrella and trying to find a life boat, instead of crying out to the person who is able to shelter and save me from the chaos.

Something I’ve realized is that we’re a society of people who curate and create a feed or timeline that often neglects to mention the things that are breaking our hearts. Not always to hide it, but sometimes because it’s not appropriate to share or we want to hold it close to us. But because of that, I know there are people whose social media presence show life is carrying on as normal but there’s a storm raging on beneath the surface. This is for all of us who fall in that category. <3

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