16 May 2017

Summer is almost here.

Well summer is almost here and I am getting really busy.  I may not post on here much but you can always find me on Facebook at Better Version of Me (@bvofme)  and on Instagram betterversionofme.tracie

Thanks! Tracie

08 May 2017

Where did the time go!

My first car.  
Today my 15-year-old starts driver's training!  Last month, I sold off the last her Barbies and Little Pet Shops.  I don't know where the time went.  I am sure a lot of parents feel this way.  I think it is hard for me, because she is my only one.  Only a few short years and she will be off to college and starting a life of her own.  It makes me sad for me and excited for her at the same time.  Some of my fondest high school memories are of driving around with my friends.  We would take road trips to Grand Haven to go to the beach.  We would meet up at Hudley's Pizza and see what was going on for the night.  Sometimes, we would just cruise. (Do teens even do that still?) We had freedom!  I think one of the hardest things for me is going to be letting her have the freedom I did.  But, I am trying really hard not to be a helicopter mom.  I guess this is the first stage in the letting go process.  I have at least a full year until she can get her license.  So, I still have a little time before I need to start letting her go, letting grow, giving her freedom.  Are your teens driving yet?  Any tips?

01 May 2017

Meat Free Monday: Healthier Ramen

I love ramen.  I even love those really unhealthy, high sodium brands.  So, I was really excited a couple of months ago when I discovered Lotus Foods Millet & Brown Rice Ramen in bulk at Costco. These are just the noodles so you can control what else you make with them.  I have been using miso and/or Better Than Bouillon vegetarian line.  I cook whatever veggies I want in the water before adding the ramen.  I then add the ramen and cook for 3 minutes and it is done.  Today I did button mushrooms, green onions, ginger, garlic, cauliflower, and broccoli with miso and no chicken bouillon.  I then added a couple drops of Young Living Lemongrass Vitality, kim chi, and pickled ginger.  So easy, yummy and healthy!!

30 April 2017

Oils that make you photosenstive

In light of the articles going around about the woman who went in a tanning booth after using essential oils , I really feel the need to write this post.

Even though essential oils are natural, they are still chemical compounds and can be dangerous if not use properly.  One of the things I love about Young Living, is the support we get a users from the people that introduced use.  I have numerous sources of information at my finger tips.  You should always, and I can't stress enough, ALWAYS, research each and every oil before using it.  Here is a list of UV photosensitive oils.  Please use oils responsibly.  If you even have any questions, ask the company you purchased your oils from.  Let this woman's mistake be a lesson for all of us.

25 April 2017

I traveled 1169 miles to meet my neighbor in Fort Collins, Colorado OR My fabulous trip to Colorado.

Sometimes you just know things were meant to be.  That is how my whole vacation felt.  It started off with me trying to minimize the items that I own.  While packing, I decided to bring some items to leave where we are staying.  I do not know why I did this as it is not something that I normally do.  I brought an painted owl stone that I bought on Drummond Island (one of my favorite places), a tiny owl figurine, and a felted wool bag that I made a few years ago.  I love all of these items but I have similar items and do not need more than one of each.  I will get back to why I am mentioning these items later.

Rob and I departed on Friday afternoon starting our 20 hour trip.  It was pretty uneventful but I do need to mention the nice little cafe we stopped at for dinner Spoons, in Princeton, IL  The food and service were excellent and the town is really cute.  We drove through the night, only stopping for gas and for a couple of hours at a truck stop to sleep and at a diner to have breakfast.  We took I-80 out and I always love the approach to the mountains.  There are a ton of wind turbines, miles of prairie with cattle and deer, and watching the mountains get bigger as you get nearer just fueled my excitement.

We arrived at The Solarium International Hostel on early Saturday afternoon.  This photo above is what we walked into after we checked in and I was immediately in love with the place.  It is truly like being in the tropics.  The air is warm and soft and you can tell it has more oxygen.  All of the plants are beautiful and there are statues and interesting planters everywhere.  There are so many hidden gems that I didn't even notice there is a Koi pond until we had been there for 3 days!

 Our room wasn't quite ready, because it was before check-in time, so we left our stuff there while they finished with the linens and decided to go grab some lunch in Old Town. We found this great deli, Backcountry, and split an Italian sub and some delicious potato salad and then headed back to The Solarium.   We debated whether or not to nap but decided to stay up and just go to bed early. And instead we cleaned up and went to hang out in the tee pee.  This is where we met Suzie for the first time.  She is a very outgoing, talkative, woman, with a heart of gold.  She pretty much was the unofficial greater to The Solarium and welcomed everyone.  She had been staying there for about a week when we arrived.  We spent the afternoon relaxing in the hammocks and the tee pee.  We then decided to go get dinner and walked down to Black Bottle Brewery and had an awesome dinner of Oyster Shots; a Salmon, Cheese and Crackers Plate; Sliders; and of course, a couple of beers.

When we arrived back at The Solarium, they had a bonfire going in the tee pee so we decided to check it out.  There were numerous guests hanging out and when I sat down the lady next to me asked me where we are from.  When I told her, "Michigan", she asked, "Sand Lake?".  I was taken aback and said, " Yes".  She went on to explain that she had checked in after us and saw our city, state, and zip on the registry AND that she was also from Sand Lake, MI!!!!  So, we traveled 1169 miles to meet my our neighbor!  Crazy how small the word is. Lisa and her sister, Laurie, were in town for a wedding and would be there for the week.  (We ended up playing Euchre with them later in the week and hung out with them on and off.)  We hung out for awhile but were exhausted and decided to hit the sack.

I am not going to bore you with all the details of the rest of our trip but these are some of the things we did:

Spring Creek Bike Trail and Biking in general:
Fort Collins is very bicycle friendly and there are paths, trails, and lanes all over.  The Spring Creek Trail runs right behind The Solarium and along Spring Creek which has had man-made improvements done to it to control run-off from the mountains.  There are parks all along it and it is beautiful.  The bike lanes make it very easy to get around the town.  We biked to Equinox Brewing and The Kitchen Bistro with no issues at all.

Emerald Lake Trail-Rocky Mountain :
We drove to Estes and then hiked the Emerald Lake Trail.  It was breathtaking, not only because of the beauty, but the elevation change makes it hard to breath!  At Emerald Lake the elevation is over 10,000 feet.  I had to stop frequently.  One of the things I really liked about CO is that everyone we met was incredibly generous and kind.  We had forgot our sunscreen in the car and my husband asked a lady we met on the trail if she had any.  She dropped everything, dug down into the bottom of her backpack and found us some.  I am so grateful because with the almost 4 feet of snow pack and a very sunny day, we would have gotten fried!  We hiked the rest of the way with her and her two friends and found out they live there.  I told them my plan was to move out there after our daughter graduates from high school and she said that was exactly what they had done.  As we were hiking, one of her friends noticed that I was struggling a little and that we did not have grampons or poles, and offered me one of her poles for the rest of the hike.  She said I could just drop it at Kind Coffee on the way back through Estes.  I am so touched by this kindness.  We ended up running into them in the parking lot on the way out.  It was such an amazing day.

I-70 to Eagle, Vail, and back:
My aunt and uncle live in Eagle and I couldn't make a trip to CO without visiting them.  We also have some friends from MI that happen to be in Vail, so we left The Solarium for Eagle for a couple of days.  The drive out there is worth it alone. In Eagle, we relaxed, went on a road trip to Sylvan Lake, where it snowed!  We were going to go to Hanging Lake but it was closed due to some idiots vandalizing the trail.  We also went to Bonfire Brewing, which is a great little, dog-friendly brewery in Eagle.  We also stopped on Oskar Blues Brewing in Lyons.

Dispensary Tour on 4/20
Being that cannabis is legal in CO and The Solarium was offering a free tour and because we arrived back at The Solarium at exactly 4:20pm when the tour was leaving, we decided to join them!  It was really cool because one of the dispensaries, Choice Organics we visited also grows and uses organic practice.  One of the growers took us through 4 different grow rooms where the plants were at different stages and he explained the whole process to us.  It was very interesting, being a gardener, to hear about how he builds the soil, insect control, and fertilization methods.  We also went to Organic Alternatives which is just a dispensary but very pretty inside.  The owner used to own an older bar in Fort Collins and took the wooden back of the bar with mirrors and stained glass and Tiffany style lamps and put them in the dispensary.  We also went to Mellow Yellow and another cool gift shop.

New Belgium Brewery and Odell Brewing
Our last full day was all about beer.  We did the tour at New Belgium and our tour guide Mindy was great.  We learned all about the history of NB, the brewing, bottling, and canning processes, their sustainability practices and how well they treat their employees (free bikes, free healthcare, trips to Belgium, etc).   We also got free beers along the 90 minute tour.  It was extremely cool and now I want to work there!

The Solarium International Hostel
I loved this place so much that it was really hard to leave.  Chelsea and Clayton have done an amazing job with the place.  They have numerous private rooms, a couple of apartments, and the dorm rooms.  We had a private room with an en suite bathroom so it was a little like staying in a small hotel.  The difference with a hostel is that it fosters the sense of community.  I think that is what I loved the most.  All of the shared spaces really encourage interaction with other guests.   I loved the kitchen, not only because we saved money making some of our meals, but because we had a lot of interaction with other people.
 In addition to the other people mentioned we got to know:
 Aaron, the truck driver who was just staying for the weekend, who was very generous and made extra breakfast to share.
Dan, the massage therapy student that was living at the hostel,  and brewing kombucha!
Val, the traveler and musician, that was just staying a couple of days and then going back to camping.
Gia and her husband who were also on vacation
A group from South Bend, IN
Others, forgive me because I am a terrible with names, two young men who were working as electricians for 12-16 hours a day and were spending a couple days off there relaxing. Numerous people from the neighborhood that would come and hang out at the almost nightly bonfires.

And, I have to mention again, Suzie, my soul sister, crystal loving. bohemian woman, who reminded me to be true to my higher self and practice inward integrity and self-love. We had many bonfire and hammock conversations and we are going to stay in touch and keep each other on track.  I gave her the felt bag I brought and she and Chelsea (the owner) came up with the idea of having people take a rock from the tee pee and sign and date it.  Rob and I instead signed and dated the back of the owl stone I brought and left that.  I also hid my tiny owl in a tree close by our room.  I don't know why but I knew before we even went to The Solarium that I would want to leave a little bit of me there.  It is a magical place, a tropical oasis in the dry mountains, a community, and was so much more than a typical vacation.  Our last night, Suzie quoted to me, my favorite poet, e.e. cummings, and unbeknownst to her the poem read at mine and Rob's wedding,  "i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)." 

The last day, I attended an amazing yoga practice held by Dana from Mahaṁūṇa Healing Arts with live music, palo santo incense, and tea.  It was an amazing gift for my last day and left me leaving The Solarium with light, intention, and gratitude.   Thank you, Chelsea and Clayton for the amazing space you have created, it is truly a gift that I will always carry in my heart.  

11 April 2017

Colorado Bound!

I started off this very busy week seeing my favorite band, Elephant Revival at Bell's Brewery in Kalamazoo.  Both them and the opener, The Dead Horses, put on fabulous shows!  EV is from Colorado, which happens to be where the hubby and I are headed on Friday.  So, this will be my last post until we return from vacation later this month.
photo credit from Solarium International website

We are headed to Fort Collins and get to stay at this gorgeous hostel, Solarium International, which is pictured above.   And we got a great deal through AirBNB from $69/night for a private room with a private bath.  This place looks amazing.  In addition to the beautiful atrium, it has an on-site yoga studio, community kitchen, hammocks, bikes for rent, and for those who want to partake a 420 friendly tee pee outside.

We will also be going into the mountains to visit my aunt and uncle in Eagle and some friends in Vail. I can't wait to do some hiking and brewery tours!  I will, of course, blog about this when I return.  I will post lots of picks on my Instagram account.  You can find me there @betterversionofme.tracie

07 April 2017

Surviving Allergies

First I must direct you to my disclaimer page here as I am not a doctor and am not suggesting that what works for me will work for you, but as a life long allergy and histamine intolerance sufferer, I wanted to share my journey to wellness with you.

First a little history. I started having allergies when I was young.  Even in my third grade photo, one of my eyes are swollen shut because I was having a reaction to something.  I have been through 2 different rounds of testing and desensitization shots (age 14 and age 24).  Both times, the testing as excruciating.  They tested for about 200 things, placing a little drop of protein serum for all of those on your back in a grid pattern.  Then they take a needle and scratch the surface of your skin at each placement.  Then they make you wait 20 minutes to if you have a reaction. 1 is lowest 4 highest.  I had 4+ reactions on almost everything within 5 minutes resulting in columns of welts down my back.  I had to go in for shots on a weekly basis. 

 Allergies are actually a defect in the immunoresponse.  My immune system thinks that things I am allergic to are actually viruses or bacteria that would harm and react accordingly.  The shots are supposed to train your system to recognize that these are not harmful substances. They start you off with a very small dose of serum made from the proteins of the things that I was allergic to.  They gradually raise the dose until they reach a maintenance dose which will, in theory, desensitize your system.  I was told by an immunologist that this works in 75% of people.  It did not for me.  In fact when they tried raising my dose, I would go in anaphylactic shock and had to be given a shot of diphenhydramine and adrenaline. Antihistamines don't work well for me.  The 2nd generation ones, don't last 24 hours like they are supposed, only 8.  So my doctors but me on a regimen of larger doses that normal and I had to be on them year round with the addition of a steroid nasal spray.

When I was 24 was when I was at my worst.  I would break out in hives when I took a hot shower or got warm.  I would have oral reactions when I ate foods that had similar proteins to the things I was allergic to.  I would get weird rashes.  My system was in hypersensitive mode.  I ended up moving the the Virgin Islands for about 5 years and my symptoms improved because I was not allergic to as many things down there and I was each healthier and not using as many toxic substances or being exposed to pollution.  

When I moved back to the states, it took a couple of years for things to get bad again.  After reading an article about how there has been a rise in allergies over the years and they were attributing it to the use of toxic chemicals in cleaning supplies and foods, and being diagnosed with Endometriosis, which they are suspecting may be caused by dioxin exposure, I decided to start going "green".

About two years ago, I stumbled on the blog of Yasmina Ykelenstam, Healing Histamine My story sounded similar to hers.  She mentioned in her blog that controlling inflammation helped her overcome her symptoms.  I started talking Nigella Seed, Quercetin, Tumeric, and Holy Basil everyday. My symptoms improved but never fully went away and still had to take antihistamines but not as often,

Then last year, a friend of mine introduced me to Young Living. I switched more of my cleaners over to theirs.  I started diffusing oils.  I started using the "Allergy Trio" (Lavender, Peppermint, and Lemon), Frankincense, and Copaiba.  I noticed I was having to take my allergy meds less and less.  Then one day my eyes were itching really badly and I put the allergy trio on my cheeks and itching stopped within two minutes.  I started using their Allergy Trio in their Vitality (FDA approved for oral use) in veggie capsules and felt even better.  

Then last month, I started doing some research on NingXia which is made with wolfberries (Goji) and how it is full of antioxidants, which I know can help with inflammation.  I ordered a bunch of it and started drinking 2oz a day in the morning.  I am so happy to report that I have not felt better in years.  I have even reduce the amount of coffee that I drink from one pot to one cup a day.  I am so grateful that I was introduced to Young Living and wish this had happened years ago.  I am no longer talking the Allergy Trio orally as I don't need to. I have replaced with the Rescue Spray I posted last week and that is just as effective.  I can't believe it is April and I am not taking 2 antihistamines and a steroid spray!!!!  And I can breath and my eyes don't itch!  I am really looking forward to ragweed season.  

I credit my improvement to:
1.) reducing my exposure to toxins in my home by using eco-friendly non-toxic cleaners
2.) reducing my stress through aromatherapy
3.) trying to eat organic and whole foods
4.) taking suppliments that support my immune system and reduce inflammation so my immune system works properly.  

If you are curious, this is what I use on a daily basis.  This might not work for you as everyone's systems are different.  You should consult a your physician before changing your regimen. 

2 ox NingXia
800mg Quercetin
2 Gaia Adrenal Health (Rhodiola and Holy Basil)
2 Sprays in each nostril of Rescue Nasal Spray

1 Veg cap of Ground Nigella Seed

800mg Quercetin
2 Gaia Adrenal Health (Rhodiola and Holy Basil)

Bed Time
2 Sprays in each nostril of Rescue Nasal Spray 

I am sharing this information because I believe it will help people but I must disclose that I am Young Living Independant Distributor.  I am because I believe in their products because of how they have improved me life.  You can email me at betterversionofmeoils@gmail.com if you have any questions or if you are interested in trying any of the Young Living products.  

01 April 2017

Mother's Day Gift Ideas

Young Living Announced these sets for their Spring Collection!  

Essential Oil Basics Gift Set   $43.09
Our three most loved and most versatile essential oils all in one place! This collection includes Lavender, Peppermint, and Thieves® essential oils, as well as a usage booklet filled with helpful tips for everyday use. Order one set or a few to stock up on these favorites!
Water Bottle & Citrus Fresh Vitality  $25.99

Citrus Vitality Set   $23.68 
Get our most popular citrus Vitality™ oils—Lemon, Orange, and Grapefruit—at a discounted price! These dietary oils make it easy to add fresh citrus flavor to your favorite spring recipes, including roasted veggies, marinades, flavorful salads, and specialty drinks. 
Lemon Vitality
Orange Vitality
Grapefruit Vitality

Pedicure Set  $29.00
Treat yourself to a relaxing pedicure without visiting the salon! Our Pedicure Set comes with everything you need to pamper your feet in time for sandal season. Put your best foot forward with Peppermint, Stress Away™, a pumice stone, and cozy slipper socks.

Message me to place your order!  These won't last long.

28 March 2017

Inexpensive Non-Toxic Laundry

Over a year ago, I switched to using soap nuts for laundry soap and wool dryer balls instead of fabric softener and never looked back. I had been making my own laundry detergent but this is so much easier and cheaper.  I got a 5lb bag of soap nuts on Amazon for about $55.00 with shipping.  1 lb lasted me a year.  At that price it is about $11 year for laundry soap!   The dryer balls were $19.99 for 3 and have lasted me about a year and half.

Soap Nuts:  "containing saponin - a highly effective cleaning agent. Saponin works like most detergents & soaps WITH NO CHEMICALS!"  I just put the total of 6-8 nuts in a the muslin bag and toss them in the wash.  I use each bag full about 4-6 times.  

If I do have something especially stinky, I add a squirt of Dr. Bronners Sal-suds.  

Dryer Balls:  I add a couple of drops of Young Living Essential Oils to each ball and through them in the dryer.  I added the safety pins to cut down on static cling.  

That is it!  Super easy, non-toxic, Eco-friendly, and INEXPENSIVE!

Luckily Young Living is having a special right now because I need new balls.  $23.50 for 4 balls, one Lavender 5ml and Lemongrass 15ml!!  So you are basically getting 4 balls for 50 cents.   Send me a message if you want more information on these deals!  OH NO THESE SOLD OUT!! Click here to see how you can get a free Better Versio of Me Clean Laundry Kit instead  Shown below.