Favorite things · Lifestyle · Travel

The travel bug 

I can’t exactly remember when I got the bug, but sometime in my late teens/super-early twenties, I felt my first rush. You know the one you get when you realize how magical the world outside of your little bubble can be. The one you feel when you have an amazing meal surrounded by people you love in a place that you never dreamed existed. The one you experience when you do something crazy, that’s completely out of your element, and learn a little bit more about yourself in the process. 

I hope you know that rush, because it’s one of the best feelings in the world.

When I graduated high school, a few friends and I decided to take a trip to Florida. It was my first time traveling anywhere significant without my parents. It was the summer before I was going away to college, and it made me confident that I could do ANYTHING.

When I went to Italy the first time, I was 19. I rode the canals of Venice, got pooped on by a pigeon in Florence, went to a “disco” in Sorrento and used horrible Italian to ask how much a bracelet cost a street vendor in Naples. Again, I felt like I could rule the world.

A few years later in Barcelona, I climbed the Sagrada Familia, watched a futbol game in a bar, and ate the best paella of my life while pretending I lived in the city. Again, I felt invincible.

After college, I went to Ireland. I rediscovered the magic of music, found my happiness in the mountains and shared an amazing few weeks making memories with friends. I came back refreshed and excited and ready to take on graduate school full force.

Two years ago in Costa Rica, I rode a horse up a mountain and zip-lined down, went white water rafting, spent an afternoon kayaking, danced the night away during a stopover in Nicaragua, and truly lived the Pura Vida motto to its fullest. I felt like the world was in the palm of my hands.

I obviously can not do any- and every-thing since I still haven’t been able to lick my elbow or do a back handspring, but when you travel, you tend to gain confidence in yourself. I think that might be why I love it so much. I’m going to be pretty candid right now. My everyday life tends to be full of events that chip away at my confidence. In my career and relationships, I find myself constantly questioning if I’m good enough. And wondering how I could be better. I’m sure many people feel the same. The world has a shitty way of knocking you down over and over again. But when you have to truly fend for yourself and make decisions and stick with them, you learn that you ARE. 

Good enough, that is.

Traveling gives you those opportunities. You can hike that mountain that seemed too strenuous or ride that rollercoaster that scares you senseless or go rafting on those rapids that you’re sure you’ll break your neck on. And you’ll survive. And when you share those experiences with other people, it really only makes you stronger. Now you have stories to share. You’ve gone through life events together. And, more often than not, you’re devastated to leave those things behind for the “real world.” 

I think that’s the true test of a good traveling experience. If you’re sad to go home, it’s been a success. As I write this right now, I’m sitting on a boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, two days away from boarding a plane home, not looking forward to it at all. 

I won!

This summer, I urge you to book that hotel, take that flight and do that thing you’ve been meaning to but haven’t had the chance to. Try and not worry about the money you’ll spend and look at it as an investment to better you as a person. 

I can pretty much guarantee that you will win too.

Favorite things

Even more essential essentials

*Note: the following information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure , or prevent disease or illness. As is the case with most supplements, statements regarding the potential benefits of essential oils have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Please consult with a physician before using essential oils on your young child, if you’re pregnant, or if you’re nursing.


Welcome back to Essential Oils 101. If you didn’t read Part 1, go do that first!

Last we left off, Donna, Jenn and Bonnie were teaching us all about what oils are and the different ways they can be used. Now that we have some of the basics under our belt, it’s time to use them. If you’ve never purchased an oil at all or already have some oils and don’t know what to do with them, it can be kind of intimidating to use them in the beginning. When I first began experimenting with oils, I had no idea that they could be used for so much more than just aromatherapy. Although I was super skeptical at first (Could one of these oils seriously replace my trusty Advil?!), I was intrigued enough to purchase a kit that included several oils that could be used for everything from cleaning, to relieving heartburn, to helping ease sore muscles.

“But Amanda, I really just want something that smells pretty.” You might be thinking (or saying aloud if you’re one of those kinds of people that likes to talk to themselves).

Sure! That’s totally fine. Donna says: “You can start out using essential oils as aromatherapy if you’re hesitant. Try diffusing some lemon or any citrus,” she explains. “They bring down stress levels.”

“But Amanda, I don’t even own any essential oils, so this is all pointless for me to be reading about.” OK sassy pants, let’s get your few oils to start with.

Bonnie listed dōTERRA’s Top 10 must-have oils to start your collection:

  • Lavender – calm and relieve stress
  • Lemon – cleanse, purify and energize
  • Peppermint – energize, promote healthy respiratory function, help relieve upset stomachs
  • Melaleuca – (aka Tea Tree Oil) cleanse, soothe and rejuvenate skin
  • Oregano – cleanse, enhance immune support, promote healthy digestion
  • Frankincense – (aka “The King of Oils”) enhance immune support, promote feelings of peace, aid in overall wellness
  • DigestZen – aid in food digestion and soothes upset stomach
  • Deep Blue – soothe sore muscles
  • Breathe – maintain clear airways and breathing
  • OnGuard – support healthy immune function

The ladies also recommend adding two additional oils to your starting collection:

  • Purify – replace unpleasant odors and protect against environmental threats
  • Wild Orange – uplift the mind and body

*Remember, you can check out Jenn’s Wellness Advocate page to place an order.

So, now that we know the top must-have’s what oils can you not leave home without? I asked while we sat around Bonnie’s dining room table surrounded by dōTERRA products.

Donna shared first: “OnGuard and Peppermint beadles, definitely. As for oils, Peppermint, Deep Blue, Whisper, Motivate, Passion and Bergamot.”

Bonnie agreed with the beadlets. Pop one little OnGuard beadlet in your mouth and help shield yourself from all those snifflers that share your workspace. Peppermint beadlets are a great gum replacement and are amazing for freshening breath. Bonnie also added Lemon and Lavender to her must-haves, and for good reason. Lavender is known to help ease tension and promote relaxation, definitely helpful to survive the craziness that is 21st Century living. Lemon can be used for everything from cleaning to energizing, so having that on hand can be extremely useful throughout the day.

Jenn loves keeping DigestZen, Melaleuca, Peppermint and a citrus oil on hand at all times. She also carries veggie caps so she can easily ingest oils when needed.

The ladies stressed to USE WHAT YOU HAVE! Oils come in handy for so many different things, so before you reach for that hand sanitizer or allergy pill, check out some of Bonnie, Jenn and Donna’s favorite DIY essential oil recipes.



Seasonal Allergy Relief

Help ease the symptoms of seasonal allergies with the following recipe.

  • 5 drops Lemon Essential Oil
  • 5 drops Lavender Essential Oil
  • 5 drops Peppermint Essential Oil
  • 1 Veggie Cap

Drop each oil into a Veggie Cap and take with a cup of water.

Multi-Purpose Cleaner

Use this anywhere you would normally use a multi-purpose cleaner.

  • 16 oz. glass spray bottle
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1 & 3/4 cup water

Once you add the vinegar and water to your spray bottle, you have a few options of oils you can use. No matter what blend you use, the rule of thumb is 30 drops of essential oil to 16oz of water.

Recipe 1

  • 15 drops of Lemon Essential Oil
  • 15 Drops of Lavender Essential Oil

Recipe 2

  • 10 drops of Eucalyptus Essential Oil
  • 10 drops of Wild Orange Essential Oil
  • 10 drops of Peppermint Essential Oil

Recipe 3

  • 15 drops of Grapefruit Essential Oil
  • 15 drops of OnGuard proprietary blend

Recipe 4

  • 30 drops OnGuard proprietary blend


Hand Sanitizer

  • Empty 15ml bottle
  • 15 drops of OnGuard proprietary blend
  • 15 drops Lemon Essential Oil
  • Fractionated Coconut Oil

Drop the oils into the bottle, top it off with fractionated coconut oil, and shake. Place a drop or two on your hands, rub together and you’re good to go!


For even more DIY recipes, check out the doTERRA Essential’s Facebook page!

I really hope that these posts helped you learn a little something about using essential oils. Whether you’re a newbie or seasoned pro, essential oils are amazing additions to your  health and wellness arsenal.

Until next week!



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Let’s get oiled up!

*Note: the following information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure , or prevent disease or illness. As is the case with most supplements, statements regarding the potential benefits of essential oils have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Please consult with a physician before using essential oils on your young child, if you’re pregnant, or if you’re nursing.


You may have never tried them, but unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past three years or so, you’ve at least heard someone you know rave about them.

“They cure my headaches!”

“My acne’s completely cleared up!”

“They help me sleep like a baby!”

“I’m not a crazy person anymore!”

I know that I, personally, kept seeing and hearing about them everywhere, but was afraid to give into the hype lest I become even more hooked on a new trend.

Have you figured out what I’m talking about yet?

Give up?

OK, fine, I’ll tell you.

Essential oils!

I’ve purchased a few here and there for purely aromatic purposes over the years, but I never knew the true power of them until my friend Jenn invited me to an information session about dōTERRA essential oils last summer. As you can probably guess since I have a whole blog post about it, I’ve been hooked ever since. Last week, I had the absolute pleasure of sitting down with Jenn along with Donna and Bonnie who are all dōTERRA Wellness Advocates, to talk about all things oil for this very blog! I’ll probably be splitting this entry into a few parts since there’s a heck of a lot of information to share, so let’s get rolling, shall we?

doterra2.jpgBonnie was kind enough to invite us over to her lovely home on Presidents’ Day. Her dining room table was covered in products – everything from face wash to supplements to cough drops – all made with oil…it was a homeopathic paradise! See the OnGuard products to the left? Those are made using dōTERRA’s proprietary blend for healthy immune function and cleansing. And yes guys, that’s laundry detergent! Anyway, we got to talking about our love of dōTERRA and sharing stories right off the bat, but I quickly backtracked us a bit to talk about some basics. Incase anyone reading is not even sure what an essential oil is, I figured I had to get that out of the way first.

“So ladies, tell me in your words…what is an essential oil?” I asked.

Donna started by explaining that essential oils are derived from plants and are made using everything from seeds to the bark of trees to leaves to petals. Oils have been used for their health and beauty benefits for a very long time. Jenn got sciencey on me and explained that the oils have a known impact on the body at the cellular level. Now, I’m not totally sure what this means, but it sounds fancy and I know that the oils I use haven’t let me down yet, so I believe her.

Not to sound like an add for dōTERRA, but they’re a pretty awesome company. They get their oils directly from their natural habitat.

“They’re indigenously sourced,” Donna said. “This means that the oils come from the areas of the world that they’re naturally grown in. Not on the side of the road in a country that they’re not local to.”

dōTERRA has amazing ties to the farmers they work with, and it just seems like they have really healthy relationships. Built on trust and support with the common shared goal of producing pure products with wonderful benefits.

Now, I don’t want to go on and on about how dōTERRA uses a third party to test their oils for purity and all that awesome jazz that may make some of you roll your eyes. Instead, if you’re interested in learning more about the company itself, check out the website DōTERRA.com! Moving on…

“How did you get into essential oils?” was my next question to the ladies. I knew how I got to be sitting here at this table, but I was curious to see what made them beliebers…oh wait, wrong blog post…

Every story has a beginning, and this one starts with Bonnie. Her husband has an annoying little habit of being a snorer and her sister-in-law introduced the couple to essential oils to help combat some of that. dōTERRA makes a blend called Breathe which includes Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Melaleuca, and Lemon, among other oils that have respiratory benefits. It worked wonders for Bonnie’s husband, and she was on the essential oil bandwagon right away. “I second the Breathe blend for snoring!” Jenn raised her hand after hearing Bonnie’s story. It’s the real deal!

Donna got into the mix next. One day, Bonnie overheard Donna talking about how her daughter, who had just started college, was having some issues sleeping. Bonnie recommended she try Lavender essential oil, a blend called Serenity (which I personally take in capsule form for those nights where sleep is a little harder to come by), and a diffuser. Donna’s daughter loved it and that was her in to this community.

Jenn was introduced to essential oils by Donna. The oil that hooked her was DigestZen, a blend that helps with digestion and settles upset tummies. Jenn explains: “The blend allowed me to continue eating my mozzarella sticks, burgers and fries!” And she lived happily ever after. *Cue the butterflies and bluebirds*

doterraOK, so let’s say I have these oilsyou may be thinking, how the heck do I use them? Do I just smell them and they make my troubles disappear??

There a few different ways to use oils. There’s the method of diffusing – you place some water in a diffuser, add a few drops of your oil of choice, and inhale the good stuff; ingesting – if you’re going to ingest your oil, avoid using styrofoam or plastic as your cup to mix with oil with the water because this stuff is so pure it will eat through your Dunkin’ cup; or applying topically – my favorite places to apply oils are the bottoms of the feet (super porous and gets into your body quickly) and behind my ears. A word of caution though: ALWAYS CHECK YOUR BOTTLES! Some oils can’t be applied topically without a carrier oil (fractionated coconut oil is a great one!), and some may be harsh to ingest without putting them in a capsule. Point is, do your homework. Oils are amazing, but a bad experience may deter you, so be prepared.

I’m going to end this post here as it’s getting a little lengthy and I want you all to really soak this stuff in and look up some information for yourself. If you’d like even more 411, which I highly recommend, check out Jenn, Donna and Bonnie’s Facebook group, dōTERRA Essentials, or visit Jenn’s Wellness Advocate page.

I’ll post Part 2 in a few days so be ready to learn all about Jenn, Bonnie and Donna’s “go to” oils, what they recommend newbies start with, and some DIY tips and tricks for oil use!



Favorite things

A few of my favorite things

There are a few things in my life that I just can not stop screaming from the rooftops about. Every few weeks, I think I’ll share one of them with you. This week’s obsession has been a solid part of my life for well over a year. It’s made me strong in ways I really have never been before, has given my mind a sense of ease and made my heart really happy.

I’ve always been really dedicated to physical fitness. I’ve tried every crazy new workout (Insanity alum, right here!), have been a member of two boxing gyms, love a good hot yoga sesh, and for a very brief period of time, thought “lifting heavy” was the way to a perfect bod (didn’t work for me, but more power to you if it’s your thing!). But it wasn’t until December 25, 2015 that I really found my soulmate workout. Barre3 is my ultimate favorite way to start my day. It’s gentle, but fierce…my favorite way to describe myself!

When I tell my friends barre is my workout of choice, they usually roll their eyes and say it’s not “their thing.” I WISH they would give it a try. I can do barre when I’m feeling sick and tired and happy and energetic and it’ll have the same amazing effects. My legs feel strong, my stomach feels toned, my arms are looking lean and my mind feels centered. If you’re looking to change up your routine and give your body some love, check out Barre3. Sadie Lincoln and her team have really perfected the art of safe, effective workouts. Just give this a try- I feel like you won’t be disappointed (and trust me, I’m not getting paid to say this!).

Right now, Barre3 is offering a program to subscribers of their site called B3 All In. It’s a 4-week guided program complete with meal plan and workout tracker and really helps you focus on your goals and track your progress. I’m not a huge fan of strict plans, but aspects of it are really helping me keep myself in check. So, if you’re interested in starting something new, this might be the perfect time for you to join. If you do, tell them I sent you =)

And remember, happy thighs, happy life!