Friday 31 March 2017

The Stuchberry's.

It's been almost a week, and I'm still pinching myself thinking this can't be real. I don't know what sort of good karma I put out into the world to be the recipient of all this happiness, all at once, but I am just embracing it and enjoying this amazing feeling for as long as I can. 

We're getting married! I'm going to be Mrs. Brianne Elizabeth Stuchberry, my signature just got 10x longer and my smile got 10x wider. 

So the weekend we were set to move in, we had spent the whole week painting - we being my dad, mom, Jake's dad & Uncle Den and myself, because Jake was pulling 13 hour days to be able to take some time off, all while dealing with a pulled groin.. #thankshockey - so that we could get everything moved in on Saturday. Jake & I took Friday off to do most of the moving of boxes and things so that the heavy stuff was left for our helpers the next day.  Excited to sleep in on a "work day", we of course both promptly woke up at 6:30 AM, as you do. We went for breakfast close to our new 'hood, and got crackin'. It was raining and I really hate moving boxes to begin with, but we felt like a little team and the excitement of setting up the new house with our things that we hadn't seen in MONTHS (some of it since July! It was like Christmas with our own stuff) was enough to cancel out any "my hair is getting wet and I'm over this", at least for most of the day ;)

So we spent the entire day moving boxes and unloading our priority pieces, for Jake it was setting up the television area and for me it was unloading the coffeemaker ;). Peppered in there were trips to Wal-Mart and other places, picking up things homeowners need - like a garbage can & dustpan, all so glamorous. By 5pm on Friday we were wiped, feeling accomplished and excited seeing everything coming together so great. Since we signed the papers for the house, I knew that I really wanted to "camp" in our house the first night, with no furniture except our bed & few odds and ends, and nothing but a DVD player & some takeout food. Jake only had DVDs from when he was 15-20, so our options very mature & diverse - you can imagine. Our choices ranged from Saw to Jackass to Date Movie, except somehow my copy of Thelma & Louise, and Serendipity snuck in there, and both were promptly vetoed. We agreed on Dodgeball, settled in to our set up of couch cushions, pillows & popcorn, and I promptly fell asleep on his shoulder 20 minutes in, as per usual. 

We went to bed, exhausted but fulfilled in our productive day, and so so excited about our new home. Jake was cool as a cucumber and I was just in heaven about how perfect our new home was. I laid in bed absolutely giddy about how amazing the wall color matched our white furniture and our bedding, and we both marveled in how spacious our room was!! The bed that ate up our entire master bedroom in the condo now looked small in this room. Jake of course mentioned that we were of course going to need a bigger TV for the room now, (no, we don't) and I went to bed thinking about how perfect my life was, in this moment. 

The next morning we woke up early again, like 6:15 early. None of our friends were set to start helping with the move until 10, so we were both hoping for a sleep in. Either way, Jake was extra cuddly and chatty, which is just not really like him, especially not first thing in the mornings when he didn't get to sleep in. But this morning he was, and I was loving it and soaking in this wonderful feeling of serenity & happiness, listening to the birds chirping outside as the sun started warming up the mountains. Still not able to fall back asleep, and after we both agreed, yep I'm awake now, he all of a sudden goes "don't move, stay right there just don't move". And still in my totally oblivious state, I'm thinking to myself "oh my god this morning just topped the perfection scales, he's going to go make me a coffee and bring it to bed!", so I didn't move a muscle. Jake doesn't drink coffee no matter how many time I've tried to convert him, so making me a coffee was like, woah man are you ever getting brownie points. 

Instead, he just started chugging water like he was a freakin' camel, and I was laughing in my head thinking like, okay you weirdo simmer down you just woke up! And when he laid back down beside me, his heart was beating damn near out of his chest. Looking back on it now it just makes me laugh because I was SO concerned, like Babe are you okay!? Your heart is going crazy!! He tried to shrug it off and tell me he was tired, and changed the subject. I said to him after, the next 5 minutes are a blur, us talking about how happy we were, and me saying how this was just so perfect and this moment felt like one of the happiest I've ever had. Next thing I know, he's opening a box infront of my face containing my absolute dream ring, and says, will you spend the rest of your life with me? Cue the waterworks, the "are you serious!?", the uncontrollable nervous/esctatic/overjoyed giggles, and finally the "yes yes yes yes!!!" I think he may have had to ask me that first, because I was so overwhelmed I didn't even think to say yes.

After the happy FaceTimes, both sets of parents came over and more details emerged. Jake had been working with my parents for several weeks to have this ring specially made for me. The center stone is from my Grandmother's engagement ring, someone who is so special to me and so missed, I couldn't contain my emotions when he told me. My grandma & poppa were the ultimate relationship goals, they had a marriage based on fierce love, mutual respect and they were truly each other's best friends. My Grandma was my Poppa's caregiver during his last years when he was battling Alzheimer's, and she showcased what it really meant to honor your vows. The fact that I have this piece of their memory and soul in my ring & overlooking our marriage, I can't even put into words how important and special and cherished that is to me. The design is everything I've ever dreamt of, and the sentiment behind it is just, no words. 

All of the love and warm wishes and happiness that has been surrounding us for the past week has been wonderful, like I said I don't know what I did to deserve all of this, but it's pretty fantastic up here on Cloud 9. I'm marrying the insanely handsome boy from Lumby who absolutely made my day when he added me to Facebook 3 1/2 years ago. The guy who gave me butterflies daily when we were first falling in love, and to this day makes me laugh and so insanely happy I just can't believe my luck. The guy who turns my frustration into laughter when he warns me to be careful and not to trip on my attitude, and who knows that when life is getting too much for my anxious little heart, he just needs to bear hug me until he hears my breathing slow down. My best friend in the entire universe, my partner in crime. Now, to work on my new signature ;). 

Wednesday 22 March 2017

home, sweet sweet home.

It’s official; money has been paid, details have been negotiated, endless paperwork has been completed, keys have been exchanged, tears & hugs have been had, stress-filled “This ISN’T FUN and I DON’T LIKE THIS” have been uttered dramatically more than once, but it’s official! 
We bought a house! 

We. Bought. A. HOUSE. We’re HOMEOWNERS! We figured we were so good at being roommates, we should make it a forever kinda thing. 

After the old place sold in December, we moved in with my parents into their basement, to be able to live rent free while we searched for houses; to avoid having to buy something too quickly to do the proper research, and because the rental market in the Okanagan is bananas. My parents = angels. Literally, time & again they've proven that, but I could devote an entire blog post to all the many ways. And while it's been AMAZING, and I'm so thankful they got to know Jake so much over the last 4 months, we all want our own space back. I want to run a household again!! I miss it. Although I'm going to miss living with my wellness obsessed mom the most, for sure. Jake does not nearly share the enthusiasm for new grain free bread, or how potent my moringa powder is. 

We had been “looking” since last summer, but didn’t want to even think twice about a place until ours had actually sold. Unfortunately that meant we were looking in the dead of winter when the inventory could basically best be described as “meh, let’s jack up the price and see if it sells”. There was a rough patch there for about a month or two where everything we saw was just, not right. Or, literally the places we looked at were so old that we were basically guaranteed to be bunking in with future asbestos, but we'd be fine if we "didn't disrupt it" :|. We (okay fine, me) were starting to get desperate & despondent seeing the prices of houses rising continually, while the actual quality of the houses was declining at the same rate; I was trying to accept the fact that our house was going to cost thousands of dollars just to get it into this decade of d├ęcor & functionality, and that we would be left with no savings for any future adventures. Things were looking bleak, although silver lining was that if we were at my parents still come summertime, they do have a pool ;). it's much easier to be despondent poolside. 

But then, OH but then. This house came into our focus by accident (as ALL good things do, in my opinion), so we decided that yes we would go look at it, basically if nothing else to satisfy our parents. It’s more in the country as opposed to actually in town, which wasn’t our first choice but ideally we do want to end up in Coldstream, and this is Coldstream adjacent; so it was worth keeping an open mind and looking at. We both had our reservations about it, mainly Jake not wanting to add the commute to his day, but we decided why the hell not, let’s look. And, truth time, I broke the rule: don’t fall in love with the house before it’s a done deal. But it MADE ME. You guys, it made me. It hits every little wish-list item that I had, big or small - conscious or subconsciously. It has fruit trees and raspberry bushes in the back, as well as an old school clothesline. Sliding mirror doors on the closets, which I wanted in the old house the entire time we owned it. TWO closets in the master bedroom. A kitchen that we can both move around & putter in at the same time, with butcher’s block counters! I mean, it put down the vibe and I picked it up hard. I knew I was sold – and I'm pretty sure Jake did too – when we walked upstairs and saw that the living room had an exposed BRICK WALL. Are you kidding me?! I was picturing bathing my future babies in the kitchen sink, and daydreaming about drinking wine in the backyard on a hot summer day before we even said our goodbyes. Did I mention it backs onto an orchard? A peaceful, beautiful ORCHARD. Literally, I’m in heaven. This house was waiting for us; all we had to do was find it. 
What I was doing when we were supposed to be inspecting the empty house.. Opportunist, 101.

We are so excited to start this new chapter together, to take this house and make it completely, entirely, 100% ours. Our space. Not to mention, we have so much room for activities!! The old condo was cute, and had its charm, but big & spacious it was NOT. I'm so excited to have space to grow in. I've been pinning up a storm & fantasizing for hours about ways to put it all together. You know the "We're too excited to sleep" Disneyland kids? That's me, with this house. Now, if only Anthropologie would get its act together and not charge $20 shipping to Canada. Keeping all your prices in USD is one kick in the gut, but that kind of shipping charge when I KNOW you have Canadian stores? I mean, I’m not going to say I’m mad, I’m just disappointed. Get it together. 

Wednesday 15 March 2017

Started from the belly now we here.. part 2

Okay, part 2 – this one is all about the gut & healing from the inside out. I'm not going to lie, I love talking beauty products, but I LOVE talking wellness; any day, all day I will talk for hours about it. So, let's get started!

Now, we all know what is considered to be the "second brain" in men ;), but did you know that most health professionals refer to your stomach as being your second brain? Many health issues can be rooted directly to the gut, specifically an inflamed gut, and with this in mind I started doing more research on how a healthy happy gut can display in other parts of your body – biggest one being your skin. Truthfully this is because since the summer I was dealing with heavy inflammation that manifested as terrible stomach aches, swollen joints and of course, inflamed, irritated, blemished skin. So in the name of feeling better and having a happy belly, this meant doing 3 things which have all seemed to work miracles:
  • Cut out dairy. I have never been a glass of milk drinker, but probably ate greek yogurt daily, loved creamer in my coffee and LOVE cheese. While not everyone who consumes dairy will have acne problems (again, my cherub faced boyfriend being one of those with zero issues), for me since completely cutting out dairy about 3 months ago, I have noticed hands down that has been the best change for me. Clear skin, but no more belly bloat and congestion issues either, more energy & just overall feeling better. That’s not to say it wasn’t hard at first – try as they might, no vegan alternative to creamo can really replace the creaminess, sigh – but now that I’m a few months in, I don’t really miss it at all; not even ice cream! Milk contains growth hormones – not necessarily synthetic ones - especially in Canada, but literally just as it naturally occurs in women’s breast milk, it naturally occurs in cows. There is abundance of a hormone called IGF-1 in milk, which is really good for baby cows, but not for you. It makes baby cows grow up big and strong, but in humans, it tends to make your acne grow big instead. This particular hormone can lead to serious inflammation in your tummy, which manifests itself in inflammation of your skin, among other issues. So if you want to be serious about finding the root of your problem, try eliminating dairy for a month or two and see if that makes any difference. For me, going without cheese is worth having clear skin day in day out.
    • This is a secondary item to cutting out food items, but a big one (for me) is also cutting out sugar. No surprise, this is proving to be way more difficult than cutting out the dairy. I am a candy fiend and have the worst sweet tooth. If we go on a road trip, you better believe I have a bag of sour candies with me; I take a banana too, because balance. But still, sugar sugar sugar. So, because I flat out refuse to give up fruit, I am actively trying to reduce my processed sugar down as much as humanly possible. I can tell if I've been eating too many sweets because within about a week, my skin starts to look dull & bumps appear. 
  • Collagen & Bone Broth! Note – bone broth is NOT the same as stock. Bone broth is made from simmering the end joints, feet and bones of an animal (guess that answers the inevitable - "oh are you vegan then since you cut out dairy?" questions!), along with veggies herbs & spices, which releases the gelatin collagen, and creates a delicious broth soup. Consider collagen to be the “scaffolding” for cells, tissues, and organs; it is responsible for the strength, flexibility, and elasticity of all tissues. It comprises 30% of all the protein in your body, and 70% of the protein in your skin. Bone broth has been used as a magic elixir for centuries for its health benefits (as well as to ensure no part of the animal was wasted); it works in an anti-inflammatory capacity, it reduces digestive disorders (IBS, Leaky Gut), it promotes probiotic balance in your tummy, and it reduces the appearance of wrinkles while also promoting healthy skin, hair & nails. Drink it for the health benefits, continue because it’s delicious and is a beauty potion. I personally love chicken bone broth, with lots of lemon, chili flakes & garlic. To make sure you're checking off every necessary item, making sure the bones you get are from organic, grass-fed animals will make sure you're not inadvertently making bone broth with hormones, icky chemicals, antibiotics, etc. I also take powdered collagen almost every day, mostly in my smoothies but also dissolved into teas, in my avocado pudding, etc. It dissolves completely, and is tasteless. I love this brand, from Nature's Fare. 
Last, but certainly not least
  • Fermented Foods. Personally, I friggin love anything pickled or vinegary, so I am LOVING all of the research coming out that links a happy digestive system to fermented foods: sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi, kefir, apple cider vinegar, pickled vegetables, etc. I am the girl who literally eats sauerkraut and mustard as a snack, so this is right up my alley to know one of my favorite snacks is really good for me. Fermented foods deliver plenty of good bacteria (probiotics) to your gut, keeping your "microbiome" - the community of microorganisms in your stomach - balanced. A balanced microbiome regulates the immune system, metabolism, sustains the gastrointestinal tract, supports mood and brain function, produces crucial vitamins and nutrients, and helps us maintain a healthy weight. Probiotics are essential for good digestion, which in turn helps to keep skin clear. I eat sauerkraut as mentioned, but I also top it on my salads in lieu of dressing, I have been taking a tsp or two of ACV in my water first thing in the morning, and I love sipping kombucha throughout the day. I also take a probiotic every once in a while. 

There you have it! A few snippets of the changes I've made that have made a substantial difference. The skin regimen I've been using has been icing on the cake to take my skin back to a glowy, vibrant texture - however I didn't want to band-aid the situation, I wanted to make little key switches to make it lasting. The picture below was taken last night, after my serums were applied, with zero makeup or retouching. Something I would NEVER have willingly done a year ago. A healthy gut is a very happy girl.

Now, let's hope that by blogging about it I didn't just jinx my skin, but of course I'll be sure to let you know :)

* also - "disclaimer" - the above worked for me, but I did not see a dermatologist, I am not a dermatologist nor am I a nutritionist (yet ;) ). Take all of this with  a grain of salt, because I am in no way an expert, just an expert of what works best for my body.*

Friday 10 March 2017

the search for perfect skin.. part 1

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know I've been struggling to get my skin clear since I stopped taking birth control, and my skin erupted like it apparently should've when I was a teenager. I tried just using coconut oil as a cleanser, African black soap (this actually worked the best out of everything for a few years, and it's literally $3), Rodan & Fields, the say yes to.. line, Vichy, all of it. It would all work for a bit, kind of, but truth be told there's not much that can cure hormonal acne, it just is what it is. I fought every urge to throw things at Jake when he would offer the suggestion of "just stop using all that crap on your face and use water, that's what I do", and the lucky little turd has skin that practically glows like a cherub. Nope, I just had to ride it out, and hopefully one day it would cease to be the thorn in my side. Truthfully, as vain as it is to say, it was really hurting my self esteem and was a massive insecurity of mine. To the point where I considered going back on birth control to just make it go away. If it wasn't for the fact that they make me legit crazy, I might have done it... Around the same time, while dealing with what felt like a never ending series of breakouts, I started to notice wrinkles starting on my forehead. Like, are you f-cking for real? Wrinkles & pimples?! No, no way that's utter bullshit. One or the other hormones, not both.

SO, I was not about to just let my skin continue to look this way, or slab it full of makeup, without trying everything. Mama didn't raise no quitter, or something like that. That means healing from the inside out, as well as continuing to find my HG product(s). After a few months, and clear skin now for going on almost a month (!! including a period cycle !!), fingers crossed, I've found my system. I want to give enough credit for both inside & out, so I'm breaking it down into two posts. Also, one long post would lose just about everyone, so you're welcome.
From left to right: at my very inflamed worst, red marks everywhere & cysts like no tomorrow; half way through Riversol & no dairy - even tone, small marks but greatly improved; this week - full Riversol everyday & my serum regime; clear skin, even tone and no wrinkles! All the Hallelujah emojis.

First up, what I put on my face.

Now, in addition to having hormonal acne, my skin is beyond sensitive. Acne products don't work for me because generally they burn my face. So, no harsh products, they had to be gentle. I of course learned this after repeatedly waking up with rashes on my face from the terrible concoctions I would try. Enter, Riversol. Riversol is a Canadian company, located in Vancouver BC. So right out of the gate, I was pre-disposed to loving it fully. My mom had been using it and gave me a few samples to try, and I was blown away at how fast it brightened up my face, even with visible spots still there. The stubborn forehead wrinkle that has been taking up residence for the last few years is all but gone, and my skin tone is so even. Dare I say it, I finally have the glowy skin I have been coveting for what feels like years. The line is super gentle & formulated for sensitive skin, but still effective by using sun damage reducing anti-oxidant Beta-T. It's all about the anti-oxidants people.

Beyond a product that works for me, customer service and how I'm treated as a customer will always determine if I continue on a product or not. The staff at Riversol were incredibly helpful for me, answer questions and their newsletters are always informative - never spammy. If you're unsure, you can order a 15 day (!!!) sample for the cost of shipping to try it out for yourself. Win win, really. For the cost of a coffee, you can start a two week trial that I guarantee will see you just like it sold me. My skin is glowy, soft, wrinkle free and just keeps getting better.

Next, serums. I truly honestly consider serums to be the fountain of youth for how well they work. Some might bawk at the price of good, cold-pressed organic oils, but considering how little you use, well #costperuse - you'll have them forever. I've been using 3 in rotation in addition to my Riversol regimen (which already has a freaking great serum to begin with), and they are Vitamin C, Rosehip Oil & Retinol Oil. Vitamin C & Retinol are little powerhouses that work best when used together for regenerating skin cell turnover and re-texturizing skin. I put my Vitamin C serum on in the morning before my Riversol serum, and my Retinol oil on at night alongside Rosehip - some use it during the day too but I find it makes my skin a bit too oily. Rosehip oil is fantastic for moisturizing, but is also great for reducing scars, stretch marks, dark spots and reversing sun damage. It's almost as if I'm learning that years of tanning my face sans sunscreen wasn't a great call...

One little tip I recently learned, is how to layer serums. Start with the thinnest formula, allowing ample time to dry in between products (few minutes), and finish with a moisturizer to "seal" everything in. If they're all similar consistencies, start with the most potent and work your way out from there. And, don't exceed more than 2-3 products per application (morning application, evening application), as they'll begin to dilute and then you're just putting lipstick on a pig - aka it's becoming a little useless. And to finish it all off in the morning - SUNSCREEN! Don't even think about going through all of this if you're not going to protect your skin from further damage afterwards!

Whew, what a novel! Thanks for making it this far ;) Next up, superfoods for super skin..

Tuesday 7 March 2017

the black hole has my pictures.

A few years ago I decided to move over to a (free) new blogging platform, for two reasons:

1. I didn't make a penny off this online diary of sorts, and I didn't want to fork over $600 for 3 more years of hosting when I could easily use a free domain, which also gave me the chance to...
2. come up with a new blog name because truth be told, I didn't love love my original.

For a fairly technologically impaired lady, google really helped me easily package up my blog, pictures and all, and unload them into this new site, with a fancy new theme to go with it. It was perfect, seamless & easy! Too easy...

Because fast forward me ignoring all of the "your account is about to expire! click here to renew" emails for 4-6 months, and not backing any of my archives up into something OTHER than the internet - can you feel where this is going yet?

I went for a creep sweep of my blog posts as I sometimes do when I want to relive my thoughts circa 2-3 years ago, and ALL of my pictures were replaced with white boxes & broken links. In my noobiness (technical term), I never stopped to think that my pictures were still hosted along with my account I (now, in hindsight) so callously ignored and allowed them to go into the abyss that is the forgotten black hole avenue of the internet, & never thought to find an alternate way to also save my old posts/pictures somewhere useful & safe, before I didn't have the option anymore.

Silly as it admittedly sounds, I was devastated. If I spend too much time thinking about it now, I get a pit in my stomach. I love pictures, pictures are my favorite way of keeping memories. Much to the detriment of anyone around me. A part of me feels like my memories from 2012-2015 were just wiped away in a sense. I of course still have my posts, but the accompanying pictures, gonezo. And I mean like, the memes I used? You guys, some of them were borderline genius placement.

To accurately paint the picture of how devastated I was, I will of course use the most iconic crying face of our generation:
 So, moral of the story is: 1. the easy way is generally the wrong way, and 2. back your shit up. Lesson Learned. Take it away, Kim.

F-ck you confusing internet background with confusing archiving process!