Wellness Wednesday: Lets Chat About Tea Tree Oil

TeaTreeOil

 

Happy Wednesday, Folks! As you know, on Wednesdays, we wear pink I talk about something I’m doing (or using) to improve the quality of my life. I like to call this little series: Wellness Wednesdays (because I really am that clever) and today I want to tell you about Tea Tree Oil.

TeaTreeOil

 

For those of you who know me or have been following along with my blog for a while, you’ve probably figured out that I’m all about using all natural, sustainable materials in lieu of chemicals for just about everything in life. I recently heard about an essential oil that has tons and tons of uses for body and soul (just kidding).

Tea Tree oil can be used to help treat acne, to help with cuts and burns, and even to help treat colds and bad breath (among many, many other things). It can also be used around the house as a cleaning agent, with your laundry, or to help control mold issues (not that you have those, of course).

Disclosure: I found this on Pinterest with no link to a website or blog. I did not create this inforgraphic.

I’m using Tea Tree Oil from Apothecary Extracts. According to their website, a single 4 ounce bottle (like the one I have) should last well over a year with regular use (check back with me on that one). When you order from them, they’ll also include a FREE 100 page guide to help you understand the many uses of tea tree oil to improve your life as well as tips for replacing the harmful cleaners you’ve undoubtedly got around your house (hey, I’m not judging, I’ve got them too). Since I was given a generous discount on my tea tree oil (full disclosure here), I didn’t get the guide with my order but, based on what they’ve told me, it looks like it would be really helpful for novice users.

TeaTreeOil2

 

You can learn more about this product and everything else Apothecary Extract has to offer by visiting them on Amazon.

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Let’s Chat About Lemurs

Island Of Lemurs Madagascar

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words…

When I look at pictures of one of my absolute favorite animals on Earth (I’ll give you a hint, it’s the Lemur) a few words come to mind:

Amazing | Fascinating | Incredible | Adorable

Island Of Lemurs

Happy Sunday, Folks!

After a crazy, busy week I was beyond ready to settle in and enjoy the weekend with my loving family. On the docket was some much needed poolside R&R, a fun Saturday night with great friends, and an afternoon with some Lemurs in Madagascar (note the lack of chores included on my list, looks like I’ve got some catching up to do). That’s right, I said “…an afternoon with some Lemurs in Madagascar”.

Now although I didn’t actually have the time or the resources (hello expensive plane tickets) to physically travel to the island of Madagascar, I was able to experience it through the lense of IMAX 3-D, which came in at a close just kidding second best.  A few of the AMC theaters in our area are playing the 40 minute documentary highlighting these fascinating creatures called “Island of Lemurs: Madagascar” right now and it’s a pretty neat and educational experience for families. Check out the trailer:

The film, which follows the story of Dr. Patricia Wright, a scientist who has made it her life’s mission to help these unique and amazing Lemurs survive, is narrated by none other than Morgan Freeman himself. “Island Of Lemurs: Madagascar” captivates audiences and aims to gently remind everyone of the impact we have on the creatures of the World. You see, Lemurs are the oldest living primate still in existence today. Dating back nearly 60 million years, Lemurs have survived a myriad of worldly events including the collapse of the dinosaurs and the evolution of the human species. As incredible as their story is, these amazing animals are facing the possibility of extinction…and that’s pretty sad.

Island Of Lemurs

Now, I’ll admit that I am the type of person that’s into documentaries but I think “Island Of Lemurs: Madagascar” is a great resource for caregivers and educators who are looking for something to help teach young children about one of the oldest living creatures known to man.

Island-of-Lemurs-logo

The journey this film takes you on is both beautiful and extraordinary. It gave me a greater appreciation and deeper respect for an animal that I already adored. So check it out at an IMAX theater near you.

Island Of Lemurs

“If I Stay”: A Movie In Review

If I Stay (2014) Poster

Release Date: Friday August 22nd, 2014

Run time: 106 minutes

Starring: Chloe Grace Moretz

MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and some sexual material.

In “If I Stay”, Mia Hall (Chloe Grace Moretz) is a smart and talented teenager whose life changes in an instant. After she and her family are in a head on collision, she is left in a coma and has an out of body experience. Her family did not survive the crash and she must decide if she stay with her boyfriend and grandparents or move on and be with her family.

I do not always watch the trailers for movies before I watch them. I did happen to catch the trailer for “If I Stay” and I will admit that I cried. Yes, I cried during a trailer. Stop judging me. So, going into the real movie I was preparing myself to shed all of the tears.  The problem is, the movie is paced so slowly, that I found myself looking at my watch more often than looking for tissues.

A sign of a really good movie is that two or three hours can go by in the blink of an eye. “If I Stay”, by hyped wide release movie standards, has a relative short run time at 106 minutes but it crawls by. Chloe Grace Moretz gives it her all in a strong performance, but it was not enough to make up for a lackluster script and thin story.

On my scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being the worst, 5 being the best, and 10 being the worst again, I give “If I Stay” a 9.1 with an emoticon based sub-ranking of: simultaneously yawning and sobbing.

“The Giver”: A movie in Review

The Giver (2014) Poster

Release Date: Friday August 15, 2014

Run time: 1 Hour, 34 Minutes

Starring: Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Brenton Thwaites

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic images and sci-fi action violence

Imagine a society where people did not remember war, racism and sadness. Picture a world where no one fought over social status or money because everyone owns the same things and lives in the same size house. Or, are the things that make humanity so self-destructive (lust, love, anger) the very emotions that make us human?  These are the questions that “The Giver” asks.


I’m a sucker for young adult novel adaptations (excluding Twilight…boooooo).  For fans of the genre, “The Giver” will hit a lot of familiar notes.  If one were not aware of the timeline, it might be tempting to accuse this movie of borrowing ideas from other source material.  For instance, as teenagers kids are assigned into their profession in a ceremony very reminiscent of “Divergent”.  The only thing is the source material for “The Giver”, a 1993 novel of the same name written by Lois Lowry, predates pretty much all of the movies that you might be tempted to say “The Giver” borrows from.

Even so, those works had the good fortune of making it to the big screen first and it is hard to watch “The Giver” without feeling like you’ve seen it before.  Movies like “Equilibrium” and “Pleasantville also explore a seemingly Utopian society that has thrown the good out with the bad with a hero who sees through it and must bring the rest of society to their senses.

Jeff Bridges plays the titular “Giver”, and although he is not the central character (that would be the “receiver of memories” played by Brenton Thwaites) he steals the show. This is a very personal project for Bridges, who has been trying to make this movie for 18 years, and it shows in his performance.  He originally intended to direct his father, who passed away in 1998, in the role that younger Bridges eventually took over.  Bridges plays the wise mentor well and is great to watch, as always.

Overall the movie is well cast and directed with a visual flair. Having not read the book (at least as far as I remember) I went in with no expectations and felt that it was reasonably thought provoking and enjoyable.

On my 1-10 scale with 1 being the worst, 5 being the best and 10 being the worst again, I give “The Giver” a 6.8942 with an emoticon based sub-ranking of: verrry interesting.

Wellness Wednesdays: Foxbrim Products

Happy Wednesday, Everyone!

As you know, on Wednesdays we wear pink I introduce you to a new product aimed at improving your health or wellness. Today, I want to take the opportunity to share my thoughts on Foxbrim, a company that’s on a mission to provide YOU with a more youthful glow to your skin. Foxbrim offers a myriad of products available for purchase through Amazon.com. I recently had the opportunity to try two of them: The Hyaluronic Acid Serum and their Youthful Radiance Eye Cream. While both of these products claim to combat the impacts of aging on the skin, I prefer to focus more on my thoughts on the product itself instead of the long term effectiveness of it (we’re all so different, results might vary from person to person). That said, Foxbrim products come with a guarantee so if you’re looking for results, it’s worth testing them out to see if they’ll work for you.

FoxBrim

Foxbrim’s Hyaluronic Acid is a mixture of vitamin C, vitamin E, MSM, Jojoba Oil, and Green Tea. This is the second time I’ve tried a hyaluronic acid and the major difference between what I’ve used in the past and this product is the thickness of the compound itself. A little bit of this serum really does go a long way and it doesn’t leave your skin feeling sticky after application.

I appreciate the fact that I can use just a few drops after washing my face each day and I expect that this small bottle will likely last me a very long time. At less than $20/bottle, it’s really not a major investment to make in an attempt to maintain a more radiant glow.

FoxBrim

Foxbrim also offers an organic moisturizer for your eyes that is a combination of vitamins C and E, aloe, and green tea. The Youthful Radiance Eye Cream aims to remove dark circles and reduce wrinkles around the eyes. This product also comes with a money back guarantee so customers can feel secure trying it risk free.

I’ll admit that the first time I used this product I was a little taken aback at how thick it went on my skin. I had to wipe some of it off (maybe I used too much, I don’t know) my eyes in order to comfortably open them. My advice would be to apply this before bed each night and see what difference it makes in the morning for you.

You can find more information about Foxbrim and their entire line of products on Amazon.

Disclosure: I received these products at a very generous discount in exchange for my honest feedback on Foxbrim’s products. All expressed opinions are uniquely my own.

Wellness Wednesdays: Let’s Chat About Gardening!

Ark Garden Seeds

Hello & Happy Wednesday, Everyone!  If you’re new here, welcome!  Allow me to introduce you to my Wellness Wednesday series.  Each week, I spend a few minutes chatting about something I’m doing to improve my overall health and wellness.  So far this summer I’ve covered a variety of topics from skincare to nutrition supplements.  One thing I haven’t touched on yet is the importance of eating whole, natural, real foods.

Garden

A couple of years ago, after the birth of my daughter, I started to research what was in the foods that we were eating.  As she transitioned from a newborn to an older infant (especially when she transitioned from breast milk to solids), I knew I wanted to provide her with the best, most nutrient rich foods that I could.  My goal was (and is) to start her on a healthy diet so she doesn’t have to learn how to eat better as an adult (it’s hard, trust me!).

Garden

Part of my goal to provide healthy, natural foods for my family included the desire to start my own garden with fresh vegetables and herbs but, until this year, I’ve never really gotten my feet wet with that particular part of living a more organic lifestyle. My love for sustainability, my desire to raise my daughter with an appreciation for home grown foods, and a yearning to try something new led me to plant my own garden in 2014 instead of waiting until I was “more ready” to dive in.

Garden

I started out small, growing several of my plants in pots on my deck (I’m absolutely terrified of even the remote possibility of snakes in the yard) and I’m really happy with how well they’ve done so far this year.

Garden

I started several of my plants from seeds (lettuce, summer squash, spinach, catnip, basil, cilantro, tomatoes, and a couple of other plants) and purchased a few starter plants (green peppers, jalapenos, and a supplemental tomato plant). Much to my surprise, most of my plants have done really well with the exception of a few that stopped producing once the Summer heat settled in.

Garden

Even though my little garden hasn’t produced enough home grown goodness to supply my family of three with all of our produce for the season, I’m really happy with how much I’ve accomplished.  As a novice gardener, I wasn’t expecting my plants to do as well as they did on my first attempt. Needless to say, gardening exceeded my expectations and I discovered that I actually (really, really) enjoy spending time tending to my plants.  If I can grow vegetables, herbs, and flowers in pots on my back deck, so can you.  I truly believe that anyone with a little outdoor space can grow their own food.  Gardening is such an incredible experience.  It provides me with an appreciation for this planet and the amazing power of nature.  There’s something truly magical about creating your own food and I can’t wait to grow my garden again next year.

Garden

I am excited to have a starter kit for my 2015 garden provided by my friends over at Ark. They provide 100% USA, heirloom vegetable garden seeds in 30 varieties with over 7500 high quality seeds. Their seeds are non-hybrid, non GMO, organic and come with a lifetime guarantee.  Ark is a company that I personally use and am happy to provide them with my heartfelt endorsement for anyone looking to grow their own food.  You can find more information about Ark and their products by visiting their Amazon listing.

Join Me For Rugged Maniac 2014 (Discount & Giveaway Inside!)

For over a year now, it’s been a goal of mine to complete a 5k obstacle course (mud run) so for my birthday last year, I asked for an entry into this year’s Rugged Maniac in Kansas City. I was elated to discover a note from my husband in my birthday card telling me that I would be participating in the event in 2014. Fast forward several months and we’re rapidly approaching go time! Even though I’m no where near “ready” (athletically speaking) for the race, I’m still going to get out there and enjoy the afternoon. With great friends (and amazing readers) to complete it with, I’m sure it’ll be a blast.

Rugged Maniac

I’m so excited to participate that I wanted to invite ALL of YOU to join me in the fun and my friends over at Rugged Maniac want to offer It’s An Ordinary Blog readers a generous 25% discount when you sign up this week! In addition, they’ve provided me with two FREE Rugged Maniac race entries to giveaway to a couple of very lucky readers so you can join me in the fun!

Rugged ManiacYour 2014 Rugged Maniac race entry includes:

  • The opportunity to hang out with me for a couple of hours, let’s get dirty together!
  • 25 FUN obstacles including a massive 50′ slide, underground tunnels, and fire.
  • An Awesome Rugged Maniac Shirt
  • Professional Race Photos
  • A Beer (Ages 21+)
  • The opportunity to have a near death experience (just kidding!).

Rugged Maniac

Online registration for this event closes one week from today and the race is scheduled for Saturday August 9th, 2014 at the Snow Creek Ski Area in Weston, MO. In order to take advantage of the 25% discount offered exclusively to It’s An Ordinary Blog readers, simply enter the code: OrdinaryBlog14 at checkout.

Rugged Maniac

TWO lucky readers will be joining me for FREE! To enter, leave a comment on this blog post telling me what obstacle you’re most excited about. You can earn an additional entry by heading over to the It’s An Ordinary Blog Facebook page and commenting on my Rugged Maniac post! I will randomly draw two winners on Thursday morning at 10:00am CST. As always, good luck and may the odds be ever in your favor!

Rugged Maniac

Rugged Maniac Kansas City

Saturday August 9th, 2014

Sign Up Today By Visiting The Rugged Maniac Website

 

I Speak Italian (Sort Of) & So Can You!

Hello, friends! Take a look at that stunning image from a lake town in Italy.  I imagine the people who inhabit that beautiful place are friendly.  I imagine that the cobblestone streets are lined with small shops and that people sit outside of cafes, chatting about life while enjoying the company of their loved ones.  I imagine all of these things because I have never  actually been to Italy (at least not from what I remember).  In the late 1980’s, my family was stationed in Germany for a few years and we had the opportunity to travel throughout several countries in Europe but, since I was still a toddler, I don’t have many memories of our time living overseas.  The travel bug has bitten me and the only cure for it is more cowbell to either hop on a plane and go somewhere new or take some time learning about a culture from afar (with the hope of one day visiting).  For now, my only option is the latter.  From the rich history to the vibrant culture, I love all things Italy.

About a month ago, I was given the opportunity to learn something new. I was given the gift of learning the Italian language.  I will be the first to tell you that I was both excited and nervous about the prospect of learning Italian.  Having studied other languages in the past (Spanish, French, and Arabic), I am no stranger to the amount of difficulty associated with learning and the commitment it takes to become fluent in a language that’s different from your own.  While some may think I have an affinity for learning languages (trust me, I don’t), I wasn’t as confident in my own abilities.  Then I popped in my first Pimsleur Approach Italian I CD and I really felt confident that I could do it.  “Dear Universe,” I said, “challenge ACCEPTED!”

Pimsleur Approach Italian 1

Learning with the Pimsleur Approach has been an absolute breeze. The CDs, which total over 16 hours of learning, guide you through conversational Italian.  When you begin each section, you’ll spend a minute listening to a conversation (the dialogue increases in difficulty the deeper you are into the lessons).  Afterwards, the conversation is broken down for you part by part in a listen and repeat style manner which is easy to understand and allows just about anyone to quickly pick up the language (my three year old daughter repeats some of the words and it’s adorable).

I’m only about three weeks into my lessons but I already feel confident enough to at least introduce myself to an Italian speaker as an English speaker and to let them know that I don’t speak Italian very well.  My plan is to share my progress with all of you as I continue on through this first set of CDs so feel free to follow along with me (and keep me accountable for learning).  If you’d like to join in (it’s not too late!) and learn Italian with me, you can find more information about the Pimsleur Approach on Amazon.  I would like (and plan) to continue on through their more advanced language learning CDs and, hopefully, reward myself with a trip to Italy someday where I’ll feel confident having a conversation with a native Italian all thanks to the Pimsleur Approach.

Disclosure: I was given a generous discount on my Italian language CDs in exchange for using the Pimsleur Approach and discussing my experience on It’s An Ordinary Blog. All expressed opinions are uniquely my own and I wholeheartedly endorse their approach for my readers who are looking to learn Italian. Please feel free to connect with me any time if you have questions about this review.

“Lucy” In Review

Release Date: July 25th, 2014

Runtime: 90 minutes

MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong violence, disturbing images, and sexuality

Cast: Scarlet Johansson, Morgan Freeman

Lucy (2014) Poster

Coming off the weird but intriguing “Her”, and the brilliant “Under the Skin”, Scarlet Johansson is on a roll. In “Lucy”, Director and writer Luc Besson (“The Fifth Element”) capitalizes on this momentum and uses Johansson’s considerable charisma and talent to carry the audience through a series of logic gaps where one’s ability to suspend disbelief is thoroughly tested.

“Lucy” follows the story of a woman who is accidentally caught up in a deal, and ends up being exposed to a drug which unlocks 100% of the brain’s capacity.  This gives her all sorts of abilities which I will not reveal, but suffice it to say that it gets a little silly.  Time is stopped, gravity is ignored, etc, etc.

The premise, that humans only use 10 percent of their brains and could unlock other planes of existence by tapping into the other 90%, is a myth.  People use pretty much 100% of their brains, just not at the same time.  You don’t use all your body’s muscles simultaneously either (unless you’re using this), but that doesn’t mean those muscles don’t get used. There is no reason to use the entire brain concurrently because you don’t need all the brain’s functions at once.

With that said, the idea that a drug could let someone tap in to the brain’s full potential is intriguing.  A similar concept was executed well in the 2011 film “Limitless”, and it makes for a fun story here.  While the action is obviously unbelievable and over-the-top, it is entertaining and Johansson’s performance makes it work.

It is a little ironic that it is necessary to turn your brain off to enjoy a movie about using your entire brain, but sometimes that is okay for a summer movie.  “Lucy” doesn’t necessarily bring the ongoing Johanaissance to a new level, but it doesn’t derail it either.

On the It’s An Ordinary Blog movie review scale from one to ten where one is the worst, five is the best, and ten is the worst again: I give “Lucy” a 7.829735623 with an emoticon based ranking of:  “YAY! Physics-free fighting!”

Welcome To Kansas City, Welcome Home!

I am a military brat so, naturally, I’ve lived in my fair share of places throughout the years. It wasn’t until after college that I found myself really searching for a place to call “home”. I’ve been in Kansas City for seven years now, and so much of my (adult) life has happened since I’ve been here that I truly feel like it’s a place I can call my own. I absolutely love life in Kansas City. Our town has so much to offer and it’s great mid-way stopping point for almost anywhere you want to travel across the country (at least that’s what I tell my friends when I’m trying to encourage them to visit).

I haven’t always felt this way about my city. The first year that I lived here, I was confident that KC was just a stepping stone to another place (Alaska? Ireland? Maine? Colorado?). Looking back, I suppose that was the military child in me who was used to being stationed somewhere different every few years. Part of the issue, though, was that I never made the effort to really explore what Kansas City has to offer. In the six years since, I think I’ve done a pretty good job at trying new things throughout the metro area and it’s really given me a deep respect for this town. My friends over at RelayRides recently asked me to share what I think some of the best “hidden gems” are here in Kansas City. In case you’re unfamiliar, RelayRides is a peer-to-peer car sharing network that connects travelers who are in need of rental cars with owners who are looking to put their otherwise idle vehicles to good use.

I spent a few minutes browsing through the listings here in Kansas City and compared them to what you might find booking through a big box car rental company. If you find yourself in need of a vehicle here in KC, be sure to check them out before your visit and, while you’re here, check out some of my favorite spots:

The Historic City Market

City Market

Located in downtown Kansas City, The City Market has a lot to offer residents and guests alike. From their great casual dining options and the weekend market that features local farmers and unique vendors to the family friendly entertainment available in the area, The City Market is truly special.

A few years ago, through my membership with The Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri, I had the opportunity to take a behind the scenes look at how the year round farmer’s market works and absolutely fell in love. With a focus on sustainability, supporting the local economy, and encouraging Kansas City to be healthier, the farmer’s market is a great way to spend a Saturday or Sunday morning. While you’re there, grab a cup of coffee from City Market Coffeehouse or a pastry from Bloom Baking Co for breakfast and stop by Al Habashi Market for some Middle Eastern treats before you head home with your fresh, locally grown produce.

Westport

Westport Kansas City

Kansas City boasts a fairly broad nightlife scene which is sure to please just about anyone. Younger millennials who enjoy dancing, loud music, and overpriced drinks served in plastic cups will undoubtedly enjoy everything that Kansas City’s Power & Light District has to offer (“Yay! Shark Bar!!!”). The rest of us, the ones who enjoy a more down-to-Earth atmosphere, will find Westport to be a much more suitable option for an evening out.

From Blanc Burgers + Bottles (When you go, order the truffle fries, trust me) to Beer Kitchen there is an abundance of dining options in the area each of which provides incredible food and a wide selection of craft beers on tap. If you’re feeling particularly energetic in the morning, Beer Kitchen serves brunch on the weekends beginning at 9:00am. Included on their menu are items such as drunken donuts, green eggs and ham, and red velvet waffles. The drunken donuts alone are worth getting up early for (because we all know anything before 11:00 on the weekends is early).

Historic Small Town Downtowns (Liberty & Independence)

It's An Ordinary Blog

Travelers staying in Kansas City might not realize how much history the area has and, although places like the Negro League Baseball Museum and the Jazz Museum are wonderful, the small downtown areas of Independence, MO and Liberty, MO are often overlooked by tourists. Both places, which are relatively equidistant from the heart of Kansas City, are rich in history and have nice downtown areas to explore. As United States History nerd, I particularly enjoy the connection between President Harry Truman and his hometown of Independence.  With the Truman Library and the Truman Home nearby, there is a lot of opportunity to learn while you’re visiting.

While exploring downtown Independence, MO a few months ago, we had the opportunity to eat lunch at a little place called Up Dog on the Square. Of particular note during our lunch was their Peanut Butter Bacon Dog, which we felt adventurous enough to split between our group. I won’t deny…it was actually really good.

These are just a few of my favorite lesser known places here in Kansas City but our town has so much more to offer. Even though I’ve been here for seven years, I feel like I discover new places and fall in love with KC again and again all the time.  The heart of the Midwest is my home and I hope that you all love it as much as I do.