The Power of Crystals

Crystals, gems, and stones... oh my!

The very first time I ever heard of crystals was curtesy of Spencer Pratt and his slight mental breakdown on reality TV 10 years ago. Right then and there I made a mental note to never do drugs because then I might talk to crystals and cause havoc in my friend group... if only my 13 year old self could see me now. Like Spencer, I have found something magical in tiny rocks (totally sober, too, by the way).

If you take away all the stereotypes and negative stigmas, crystal healing truly is majestic. The ideology is essentially the belief that certain crystals have healing capabilities. Whether or not you believe in the healing power of crystals, that's totally up to you, but we all have to agree on the fact that crystals are beautiful. Amethyst especially. Gorgeous.

My sister gifted me a bunch of crystals and the beautiful box I keep them all in from The Magickal Cat. You can find the box by clicking HERE!

Now I'm obviously a newbie to the world of crystal healing, but I'm still totally into it. And even if the healing part of all this is just an elaborated placebo effect, I'm still totally into it. 
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Vegan Valentine's Snacks

Fruit, chocolate, and pink themed vegan snacks!

I love finding excuses to put together festive/seasonal posts and Valentine's Day is no exception. I put together a few of my favorite year-round snacks that are either fruity, chocolatey, pink, or all of the above.

Cherries, chocolate, and almonds all combined to make one deluxe chocolate bar??? Yes please! When I was looking for potential snacks to include in this post, I knew this bar had to be included before I even tasted it. I just knew it would be amazing and taste like Valentine's Day. And I was right. This bar is delicious.

Certified Vegan

Continuing with the chocolate and fruit theme, the Chocolove raspberry chocolate bar might just be my favorite chocolate bar. I love dark chocolate and I love raspberries so this chocolate bar was practically made for me. Definitely.

May contain traces of milk

Nothing says Valentine's Day like fig bars... am I right????? All jokes aside, Nature's Bakery's Fig Bars are my all time favorite snacks. These bars aren't your typical V-Day snack, but they're still delicious and they fit in with the theme of this post so I had to include them. I would recommend eating them everyday of the year. 

Certified Vegan

I never thought the combination of pomegranates, vanilla, and cashews would work out together, but I can't get enough of this combo. I think I finished this pack almost immediately after I opened it and I'm not the biggest fan of nutty snacks. But these cashews are incredible.

Not certified vegan, but doesn't contain any non-vegan ingredients

This chocolate bar isn't fruity or pink, but the packaging is purple and it's delicious so I thought I'd throw it in here. If you're looking for genuinely tasty chocolate, Madecasse is the bar for you. I also saw Madecasse has a coupon code on their website for Valentine's Day... bonus! (not sponsored)

Certified Vegan

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Love Is All You Need...

Marching for equality

After the success of last years Women's March, my grandma told me she would love to go to a march for women one day. I'm definitely all for equal rights and I definitely have my grandma to thank for that so I was 100% willing to make that happen for her. I'm not one for big crowds either, but still, I kept her request in mind, hoping there would be another march the next year and hoping maybe my anxiety would subside by that time.

Flash forward to the day before the 2018 march. I had to go into Philly that Saturday to pick up my dog's medication and I googled directions and realized I'd be driving through Philly on the same day as the Women's March. So I called up my grandma and the next day, before I had anytime to over think it, I was driving to Philly with my mom and grandma en route to Logan Square. 

By the pictures, I think it's safe to say my anxiety wasn't an issue this year. Though, I'd rather say it was more like I had a lapse in anxiety. I wasn't thinking of myself, but instead thinking about how much I'd like to share this memory with my mom and my 92 year old grandmom. Oh, yeah... Did I mention my grandma is 92???? She's honestly such an inspiration.

My grandma loves Eleanor Roosevelt so at 10:00 pm the night before the march, I whipped together a sign with my favorite Eleanor Roosevelt quote which is "A woman is like a teabag - you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water". For me, I went with a Beatles quote with some 2018 modifications.

This time last year, I couldn't even imagine an alternate universe where I'd be completely willing to walk into a massive crowd, but still, I did it. I did it for my grandmom. I did it for the US Women's Gymnastics team. I did it for the women who've suffered but weren't taken seriously. I did it for the women who aren't yet strong enough to use their own voice. Despite my own personal reasons holding me back, I did it. And I'm so glad I did.

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Vegan Stocking Stuffers $10 & Under

A little something for everyone!

Stocking stuffers are usually the easiest gifts to find for someone, but when that someone is also vegan, it's a whole different story especially if you aren't clued in on the world of veganism. If you find yourself struggling to find stocking stuffers for that vegan in your life, look no further. I put together a few gifts I think would be perfect for any vegan (or non-vegan honestly)! Also, everything on this list is either available from Amazon or Target which makes them perfect last minute gifts!

Stuff Every Vegetarian Should Know Book $7.78

This little book is jam packed with, you guessed it, things every vegetarian should know. I personally thing herbivores and omnivores would both enjoy this book equally because it's filled with golden nuggets of culinary information that anyone interested in cooking would appreciate!

Available on Amazon Prime

Chocolove Almonds and Sea Salt $2.79

Chocolove Strong Dark Chocolate $2.79

Anyone, vegan and nonvegans alike, would be extremely happy to find a Belgian chocolate bar in their stocking and that's exactly what these Chocolove bars are! It's important to note that these bars aren't certified vegan and they may have trace amounts of dairy in them. I'm not that picky, but if you're buying for someone with a dairy allergy, that's definitely something to look out for.

Available at Target Online/In Stores

Equal Exchange Dark Chocolate Mint Crunch $2.99

This chocolate mint bar from Equal Exchange would be on every vegan's wishlist because Mint + Chocolate = Christmas in edible form. This chocolate bar is perfect for the vegans who are also ethical shoppers. Equal Exchange offers coffee, tea, chocolate, and lots of other goodies that are all fair trade. They also are doing lots of other good things so it's definitely worth a read HERE if your into ethical businesses (which you should be).

Like the Chocolove bars, these bars aren't certified vegan and may have trace amounts of dairy in them.

Available at Target Online/In Stores

Elf Lip Balm $5

Elf Lipstick Bag $3

Elf has an endless array of items that would be perfect for stockings, but I thought the Lip Balm set and the Lip Stick Bag would be perfect for any vegan woman, or guy, who's into beauty. The lip balms fit perfectly in the lip stick bag which is a nice little bonus.

Available at Target Online/In Stores 

Ornament $3 ea.

I found these cute little crocheted ornaments in Target and I instantly fell in love. I decided to include them in this gift guide because, let's be honest, most vegans like house plants and veggies so obviously they'd be a fan of these ornaments.

Available at Target In Stores

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Anxiety and Antidepressants

Anxiety isn't a topic I've delved into yet on this blog and that's for a few reasons. The main reason being I wanted this blog to focus mainly on vegan related topics. It wasn't hard to write about vegan exclusive topics either, not at all. My everyday life is a vegan topic so I could go on and on and on. But what's the point of writing a healthy vegan blog if my mind isn't equally healthy? I haven't posted in a few months because I was going through an anxiety-filled period in my life and I lost all interest in writing about the very topic just a few months before I could go on and on about. I'm started to regain interest in these little things again and I felt like I couldn't just write up a new post on a vegan candle without explaining what's been going on in my head for the past few months. So for this post, I'm taking the plunge and diving into the heavily stigmatized, and sometimes glorified, discussion of anxiety and antidepressants.

I've had anxiety for as long as I could remember. Whether it was balling my eyes out on the bus on my way to kindergarten or a surprise panic attack at a truck stop while traveling as a teenager - I've had anxiety my whole life and I've always been fine with that. It was part of me. I knew that I didn't want to be away from my mom when I was having a meltdown on the bus and I knew there were waaaay too many people for my liking in that truck stop. My anxiety has always been, for the most part, what I like to call "situational anxiety" (this may be an actual term, don't sue me if it is). If I was ever feeling panicked, I would take a second, assess the situation, and take myself out of whatever setting was making me feel anxious. When it comes to fight or flight, 99.9% of the time, I am always flight. But, again, I was totally fine with that. I knew what to avoid (big crowds) and I knew where I felt safe (at home surrounded by my family).

I always knew antidepressants were an option to help combat anxious thoughts but I also always knew I would never take them. I like being in my normal state of mind, even if that normal state is filled with taunting thoughts, I never wanted to feel cloudy. I never wanted to feel like my choices weren't mine. I stay away from drugs, alcohol, and most medications, so why would I be willing take a pill that wouldn't just temporarily change my state of mind, but actually change the chemicals in my brain? No thanks.

That was until a few months ago.

Back in March, I started to experience major health anxiety. After having a pretty bad sinus infection, I developed swollen lymph nodes, which are lumps that develop in your lymph nodes throughout your body when you're fighting off an infection. I don't know about you, but when I feel a lump anywhere on my body, I instantly freak. I googled "lumps on neck", which gave the most terrifying search results. I was stuck in a labyrinth of google search after google search which only made me feel worse when I didn't get the answer that I wanted (which was "you're totally fine! Now go to sleep!"). When I finally talked to my doctor, he told me the lump was normal and I shouldn't worry about it. So I was fine after that, right? Nope.

Like what I mentioned earlier, I've always had situational anxiety. I knew exactly what caused my panicky brain and I knew how to make myself feel better almost instantly. But my panicky brain was caused by the fear of something being wrong with my body and how was I supposed to take myself out of that situation? I would see a doctor, but that would only make me feel better until I found something different that could've potentially been wrong with me. It was a daunting cycle and I knew I needed help. In August my doctor prescribed me antidepressants and, though I had such a strong opinion on antidepressants just a few months before, I was desperate for the cycle to stop. So I was finally fine after that, right? Wrong again.

A few days later I woke up having a panic attack. I've never had a panic attack out of blue so I was instantly even more panicked. After half an hour and the panic attack still didn't subside, I knew something was seriously wrong which just made the anxiety grow. That panic attack lasted a grand total of 5 hours, and it only stopped after I got a rushed prescription of xanax. Of course, I blamed the antidepressants since panic attacks were one of it's adverse side effects. The panic attacks didn't stop there, no, that would've been way too simple. I had panic attacks constantly for the week that followed. I would start crying out of no where and I was constantly terrified that I would have another spontaneous panic attack again. I was afraid of everything. I was afraid to take a shower... let me repeat... I WAS AFRAID TO TAKE A SHOWER.

So I talked to my doctor once more and he put me back on antidepressants. He reassured me that the panic attack wasn't from my medicine and, though I didn't have any tests done, he was fairly certain I had a serotonin imbalance which was causing my panic attacks and that I would feel 80% better after taking the antidepressants. That's when I realized no amount of deep breathing or yoga could've ever fully helped me if the chemicals in my brain were out of whack. All negative stereotypes of antidepressants went out the window at that moment.

It's been a little over 7 weeks now since I've started taking the antidepressants, and the fact that I've even typed up this blog post is a testament to how well I'm feeling. I'm now starting to feel interested in little things like writing, getting properly dressed, and frivolous things like shopping online (which my bank account isn't too happy about). I still need to visit a therapist, but as a major introvert with social anxiety (are you surprised?), talking to a therapist isn't on the top of my to-do list.

I'm definitely not on the other side of my anxiety and I honestly don't think I ever will be, but for me, antidepressants have helped so far. I never took antidepressants in the past because I thought, in some weird way, it would be like giving up on myself. Like I took the easy way out. But that can't be further from the truth. I was also always afraid it would change my normal state of mind and make me feel foggy, but again, that couldn't be further from the truth (at least for me). In hindsight, I feel like my constant anxious thoughts were causing a major brain haze that I was too scared to clear because I let my anxiety define me. I didn't know who I'd be without anxiety and that was terrifying. I've always known anxiety was a huge part of me, but I now realize that I don't have to settle and I can get better.

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Purifying Lava Mask

Purify your skin with volcanic ash!

Face masks are definitely my favorite out of all the skin care options out there. Whenever I find a new face mask I always think "this mask will definitely make my skin brighter", and even though few face masks ever actually make a noticeable difference, I think I mostly enjoy the calming and relaxing feeling that comes along with wearing a face mask.

While browsing Pacifica products exclusive to Ulta on Ulta's website, I came across Pacifica's Cherry Lava Purify Mask. We already know I'm a sucker for a good face mask, but combine that with cool ingredients like volcanic ash and I'm 100% sold. 

This mask is super moisturizing and, like all Pacifica products, it smells incredible. I don't think I've tried any product from Pacifica that didn't smell absolutely amazing. No pores with clogged while using this mask, which is always im-pore-tant (sorry). My only complaint would have to be that I expected this mask to harden like a clay mask, but it didn't. It never really dried which was kind of a bummer because my favorite masks are the masks that dry and harden so you can't move your face muscles. With that being said, it's still a really good mask with super good results. 

Pacifica is 100% Vegan and Cruelty-free

What's your favorite face mask?
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Hail Merry Desserts

Your new favorite vegan desserts...

I'm a huge fan of a good dessert. If it's vegan and it's categorized as a dessert food, I'll most likely eat it. I'm not too picky... but unless you're super into Oreos, there aren't many ready-to-buy vegan dessert options out there. That is until I stumbled upon Hail Merry desserts at my local grocery store. 

Hail Merry is a snack company that offers vegan, gluten-free, kosher, and non-gmo desserts/snacks. They recently had a packaging makeover and I'm totally into it. 

Hail Merry's bite sized snacks are super delicious. I'd probably obsess over anything chocolatey, if I'm being honest, so it was no surprise when I fell head over heals for the chocolate bites. I'm not the biggest fan of vanilla flavored snacks if I have a chocolate option in front me too, so I was pleasantly surprised when I kept reaching for the vanilla bites. They're both just extremely tasty.  

The first tart I tried from Hail Merry was the Dark Chocolate Tart, and let me tell you, it's a good tart. If you've read my Healthy Vegan Chocolate Snacks post, then you'd know I've loved this tart for a while now. I love dark chocolate so I knew I'd love it before I even took the first bite. It's super rich and creamy. I'm just obsessed. 

After obsessing over the chocolate tart for a while, I decided to give the Meyer Lemon Tart a try, and again, I wasn't at all disappointed. The tart surprisingly tasted a lot like what I remember lemon meringue pie tasting like, but don't quote me on that, it's been a while since I've had lemon meringue pie. It's still amazing either way.

What's your favorite Hail Merry dessert?

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Hippeas Chickpea Puffs

Healthy vegan puffs!

I'm a big fan of chips. Whether it's plain potato chips, barbecue chips, or the accidentally vegan Sweet Chili Doritos, I'm obsessed. I've been known to eat an entire family sized bag by myself on occasion, which is horrible but I can't help myself. I don't eat fast food and I don't drink soda so I gave myself chips... or at least that's how I justify my chip obsession to myself. But what if potato chips weren't made out of potatoes but instead something super healthy like chickpeas???? Those would be the chips of my guilt-free dreams and those dreams just so happened to come true when I stumbled upon Hippeas at my local grocery store.

Hippeas are organic chickpea puffs that come in a pretty large variety of flavors. I was originally drawn to Hippeas after finding the Vegan Cheddar Puffs. If anything has vegan and cheese in the name, I have to try it... and then I had to try all the other flavors, obviously.

Vegan Cheddar Puffs

The vegan cheddar puffs are incredible. It's been a while since I've had anything remotely close to Cheetos and I'm pretty sure these babies are the closest I'm going to get. They don't necessarily taste like Cheetos, but they do taste incredible. I just love them.

Sriracha Sunrise Puffs

I might sound like a wimp, but Sriracha is too spicy for me. So naturally, I was a little apprehensive to try these Sriracha Sunrise Puffs but I womaned up and took a few bites and I was in love. These puffs are kind of spicy and sweet at the same time. Again, I just love them so much.

Pepper Power Puffs

Lastly, I tried the Pepper Power Puffs. These are super basic but super tasty. I'd definitely get these again to have on the side with a veggie burger or I'd probably even eat them alone because, again, I have a chip problem. But it's okay if it's a chickpea puff problem, right? It's a healthy-ish obsession.

What are your favorite vegan chips?
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Pacifica Hair Products

Vegan and cruelty-free hair products!!

In the five years that I've made the concious effort to only purchase vegan and cruelty-free products, I've found it extremely difficult to find hair styling products. With that being said, I think it's safe to say my hair has seen more bad days than good in those five years. Lucky for me though, Pacifica changed the vegan and cruelty-free hair care game by releasing a whole bunch of new hair products at Ulta.

Invisible Powers Dry Shampoo

This dry shampoo isn't like any other dry shampoo I've ever used. Firstly, it has a pump. Usually when I've used all natural dry shampoo, I'd have to dump it on my hand and apply it myself. The Invisible Powers Dry Shampoo has a pump that is applied directly to the roots. Secondly, it has shimmery bits in it. I'm not sure what they do, because I don't notice them in my roots, but they work their magic somehow to mask my oily hair. Though this product is super strange, it works and I'm into it.

This balm is honestly the best ever. It's a heat protectant, texturizer, curl definer, and finishing cream, all in one. The product itself doesn't leave my hair feeling heavy or oily, which is something that happened all the time whenever I would use any type of product on my hair. The passionfruit scent lasts all day, which is incredible.

My hair gets lots of height from frizz, but it never has intentional volume, so I thought I'd give the Ginger Root spray a try. I definitely see a good difference in my hair when I use this product. It kind of tames my frizz, but still gives my hair volume, at the same time. And the scent, again, is incredible.

Before we even get into the magical powers of this hair mask, I need to talk about the scent. This mask smells like a banana dream and even if this mask wasn't amazing, I'd buy it again and again just for the banana scent alone. But the mask is incredible, too. I left the mask all over my hair for 20 minutes right before I took a shower and something magical happened. My hair was super soft, but not frizzy, on day one hair. DAY ONE. I'm amazed and in love.

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