Bo and Belle » A virtual happy place

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lately …

lifelately

So, lately I’ve …

… had a renewed zeal for work (which feels good!) and even launched a new photography web site

… been “accidentally” caught out running in two thunderstorms (Last night’s storm may be my last time going out intentionally during a storm around here in the Hudson Valley. The lightening definitely strikes closer here than in Delaware!) …

… spent the weekend with my bestie …

… hiked to a gorgeous waterfall …

… picked wildflowers …

… eaten the most yummy fresh produce …

… thrifted the COOLEST purse I’ve seen in a long time …

… taken long drives in the countryside …

… and admired the amazing sunsets and rainbows we’ve been having.

What’s been going on in your neck of the woods lately?

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10 DIY projects I want to try this summer

10 DIY projects perfect for the summer months

This summer I’ve got BIG plans for the beach, the woods, a hammock, a huge stack of books, friends, bonfires, and maybe even a day or two at the pool. I’ve also got lots of plans for crafting! Here are the 10 DIY crafts on my summer-time to-do list.

1. Homemade natural makeup – I’m listing it first because it really is first on my list! I’m just about to run out of the natural powder I usually spend a small fortune to purchase and it got me wondering … could I possibly make this myself and save $40? I found a great recipe on Great Oak Circle blog and I’m excited to try it!

DIY crafts: how to make your own face powder

{ via Great Oak Circle }

2. Homemade candles - I can’t WAIT to try this and add in some citronella so they’re ready for an outdoor party!

DIY citronella candles

{ via Paper & Stitch }

3. White-Sharpie-Decorated Lamp – The thrift store up the road from me has a whole wall of lamps just waiting for me and my white sharpie!

DIY lamp

{ via Better Homes & Gardens }

4. Pompom and Flower Lamps –  I freely admit to enjoying crafts where you don’t have to be Marta Stewart to achieve gorgeous results. And I’m pretty sure these lamps fall into that category : )

DIY pompom lights

{via Crafty Nest }

5. Cutest Woven Rug EVER! –  My sewing machine has been collecting dust since it’s arrival into my possession. I just don’t excel with sewing, knitting, or like crafts. But … can I weave? I don’t know. I’m going to try because I WANT this cute little rug in my life!

woven pompom rug

{ via Sara Plath }

6. Festive Hanging Lights – The instructions for these lights are in Swedish. But the pictures are pretty self explanatory … and SUPER cute!

DIY colorful hanging lights

{ via Rebeccas DIY }

7. The Pom Pom Tapestry – You know how Free People stores always have TO-DIE-FOR window displays? You may have noticed their amazing hanging tapestries. Apparently so many people wrote in about them that they decided to offer instructions on how we can all make our own. Aw, so nice : )

woven tapestry

{ via Free People }

8. Decorated Jeans – Free People’s blog also teaches us how to dress up our jeans!

stitching for jeans

{ via Free People }

9. Seashell Candles – This looks so easy to do … and yet, so adorable and summery.

DIY seashell candles

{ via DIY Louisville }

10. Painted Tin Can Candles – These will look so perfect with my pots of veggies and other plants!

DIY can lights

{ via Lowes }

Happy crafting!!!!

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life without sugar — 3 months in!

why i quit sugar

A little over three months ago, I stopped eating sugar.

Crazy, right?! Ha … or trendy … depending on how you want to look at it. : )

My original goal was to go one full year before adding it back into my life. But something interesting has happened! I kinda have a feeling that I won’t ever add it back into my life … at least, not as something that I eat on a daily basis.

Now, by no sugar, I mean that I don’t eat any sweets, baked goods, candies, or sauces in which I add sugar or any sort of sweetening agent. I used to eat lots of baked goods that I’d make with honey or maple syrup instead of white or brown sugar. I’m not using honey, agave, or maple syrup during this year-long sugar cleanse. I do still eat fruit and there are some things I eat on a not-so-daily basis that definitely have sugar in them (jarred pasta sauce, for example).

Why no sugar?

I have eaten mainly gluten-free and dairy-free foods for the last seven or eight years; and as a result, my life-long struggle with sinus infections completely went away. Hooray! But I started to find that the more foods I eliminate from my diet, the more I react when I accidentally (or intentionally!) eat them. The problem seemed to grow worse over the years rather than better. I wanted to find out why!

Much of the research I uncovered points to poor gut health as a chief cause of food intolerances. I dealt with severe sinus infections my whole life (which finally led me to realize that I have food allergies!). As a result, I’ve taken antibiotics and steroids more times than I can even begin to remember. The more I read, the more I became convinced that my gut was in need of some TLC as all those antibiotics had no doubt adversely affected my good to bad bacteria ratio.

So how do you fix your gut? My research points to a few key factors:

1. Don’t eat food items to which you are intolerant.
2. Don’t use antibiotics unless absolutely necessary.
3. Add in lots of good bacteria to your gut by drinking and eating lots of fermented foods and consuming bone broth.
4. Take a good quality probiotic.
5. Actively seek ways to lower your stress levels.

I’ve been doing all the above for years. My acne cleared. My energy levels increased. But a clear sign that you have a problem with your gut is that your food allergies persist. So, I could only conclude that my gut is still not healed. And so that leads me to the final point that I’ve been reading about over and over again … but just couldn’t quite bring myself to do:

6. Stop eating sugar.

Aw, man. I think deep down inside, I’ve long realized that my high intake of sugar was a real problem. It may have been natural and organic sugar, but it was still sugar. It took a few years before I was mentally ready to tackle my sugar addiction. One day a few months ago, for some reason, I was ready.

By day three, I thought I was going to rip someone’s head off. My head hurt. I could feel my hormones spinning out of control. All I could think about was chocolate. And ice cream. And cookies. And sweetened coffee with cookies.

I kept going. 

By the end of the first week, things calmed down. But then for the next month, I still had days where the cravings would kick in SO hard that I hardly knew what to do with myself.

But I persevered.

Today, three months in, things are looking up!

1. I’m calmer.
2. I’m less stressed.
3. My skin is super happy! People actually come up to me and ask what I’ve been doing because there is such a noticeable difference in my skin.
4. I don’t have nearly as many food cravings.

It’s because of how positive I feel that I’m now thinking this might just be a better way to live my life … period … even after the year is up!! But we’ll see.

Separating emotions from food

Most importantly, however, is what I’ve learned about my emotions and sugar. I think most girls will joke about their food cravings … and how when they hit … LOOK OUT! But I was forced into realizing just how much of an emotional crutch sugar had become for me. Now that it’s gone, I’m able to look at my emotions in a different way and deal with any negative emotions that pop up in a calmer, more healthy manner. (No doubt the midnight checkout folks at the Stop N Shop up the road from me wonder what happened to the lady who would show up in her PJs in the middle of the night just to buy GF, DF cookie dough ice cream : )).

So, the bottom line is that I don’t believe in obsessing over health. At least, I try not to. But I do believe in trying to fix what can be fixed! So I’m looking forward to seeing how my body will continue to heal and respond to my efforts this year. And seeing how much money I’ll save now that my midnight ice cream runs are over!

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links i love: wine, braids, and boho wedding dresses galore!

links to articles about drinking wine, braided hairstyles, grilling, and health

1. This week Free People came out with a line of boho weddings dresses. As expected, they’re INSANELY over-priced … and yet I still want every single one of them.

2. New studies are showing that drinking a glass of red wine every night can also help you lose weight. Sign me up : )

3. Sweet Paul’s Spicy Burgers with Feta and Mint Pesto … YES!

4. This summer I want to try all 20 of these creative braids for long hair.

5. How DO those french women do it?! Empowered Substance blog explores 15 French Diet Secrets.

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