cultivate your life

Month: March 2018

March Favorites

March Favorites

  March was  a whirlwind punctuated by a seriously big snowstorm in the middle. It was teasing us with warmer temps and all the daffodils and crocuses started to bloom and then BAM, giant snowstorm! That’s ok though. We’re still at the very beginning of […]

What Bible Journaling Looks Like for Me

What Bible Journaling Looks Like for Me

  For Christians, this week is Holy Week, the final week in Lent when we remember Jesus’ last week of humanity and all the good and bad that went with those seven days. When we think about Holy Week and Jesus’ journey, it’s sometimes hard […]

DIY: Fabric Freshener

DIY: Fabric Freshener


I don’t know about you, but I love finding natural, DIY alternatives to store-bought cleaning products. Even though so many cleaning products do make a difference in how clean and sweet-smelling my house is, I like to have alternatives that don’t effect my baby or my dog in a negative way. With all the amazing smells from essential oils and the natural cleaning power of simple household products, you can really get a lot done!


For today’s edition, I thought I would share my simple recipe for a DIY Fabric Freshener. Who doesn’t like nice smelling sheets? I also use this on shower curtains, bathroom rugs, my mattress pad and mattress, curtains, pillows, blankets, and anything else I don’t wash every week. I even use it on my fabric headboard! I love that it’s customizable too. You can add just about any scent you like. I like using fresh scents that brighten up my home like lemon, orange, mint, and grapefruit.


I always use tea tree essential oil in any natural cleaning product because of its antiseptic and detox properties.




DIY Fabric Freshener


1 spray bottle (I love the one I bought from Dollar Tree!)

1 bottle tea tree essential oil (use this for all scents and formulations)

1 bottle of lemon essential oil

1 bottle of mint essential oil

Water (distilled works best)


Fill spray bottle with water leaving a little space on top to shake the bottle. Add 10 drops tea tree essential oil. Add 5-7 drops lemon and 5-7 drops mint essential oil. Shake and spray!



Tiny Tip: Avoid spraying on delicate fabrics like silk. You can always try a spot test in a hidden area, but I avoid using it on any fabrics that don’t react well to oil.



For another DIY natural cleaning product with essential oils, check out my post on DIY Carpet Cleaning Powder!  I especially love to use Pharmaca essential oils in projects like this for their staying power and reasonable price. Nope, not sponsored. I just love them!



Let me know what scents you’ve discovered! Leave a comment below.



For more tips, tricks, and inspiration head over to my Pinterest board , my Instagram, or my lifestyle and fitness Instagram.

Taking Pride in Everything You Do

Taking Pride in Everything You Do

  There’s something special about Japan. I taught English in very rural Japan years ago, but something has always stuck with me about the lifestyle of the Japanese that is really special. Anyone who pays attention to the Japanese for any length of time sees […]

When Language Leaves People Out

When Language Leaves People Out

  In religious studies, religions can be loosely categorized as universalizing faiths and ethnic faiths. Ethnic faiths are for a specific people in a specific time and specific place. Shintoism and Judaism are good examples. Shintoism doesn’t go around looking for followers, trying to appeal […]

On The Menu: Bloody Mary Deviled Eggs

On The Menu: Bloody Mary Deviled Eggs


Easter is just around the corner and it’s my favorite time of year to make deviled eggs. I mean, they’re always a win at any party, but Easter is a great excuse to make good use of all those hard boiled eggs!


I love making deviled eggs because they are super easy and easy to make look elegant and like you put in a ton of effort. Bloody Marys are a popular brunch drink, so adding that flavor to eggs is a fun spin on a classic appetizer. Any time you add spice to deviled eggs you take them from boring to bold!



:: Bloody Mary Deviled Eggs :: 

Makes 6 servings


6 hard boiled eggs, peeled*

2 tablespoons plain mayonnaise

1 tablespoon tomato juice

finely diced chives

1 tablespoon mustard

1 teaspoon prepared horseradish

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon celery salt

splash of original Tabasco



smoked salt

smoked paprika


Slice eggs in half lengthwise. Remove yolks and place in a bowl. Add sea salt and mash egg yolks with a fork. Stir in mayonnaise, tomato juice, chives, mustard, horseradish, paprika, celery salt, and Tabasco and mix until smooth and creamy. Spoon the filling into each egg white. Top with a sprinkle of smoked salt and smoked paprika.


Make them pretty!

Place the filling into a zippered plastic bag. Cut off a small corner and pipe the filling into each egg white.


A quick tip: To hard boil eggs easily, put 6 eggs (the longer they’ve been sitting in the fridge the better) in a saucepan with enough cold water to cover the eggs in a single layer by about an inch. Add salt and a splash of white vinegar to the water. Heat on high until rapidly boiling. Boil for about 30 seconds to a minute. Remove from heat and cover the pan. Let the eggs rest in hot water for 12 minutes for large eggs (time it!). When the time is up, drain immediately and let the eggs rest in a bowl of ice water until they totally cool down. Peel by cracking each shell on the counter or a dish in a million different pieces. Peel slowly. Rinse and dry each egg to make sure all shells are removed.


I hope you enjoy these delicious eggs at your next spring party! If you can find the smoked salt and smoked paprika, it really makes them special.


What are your go to recipes for deviled eggs? What variations do you like? Let me know in the comments below!






For more tips, tricks, and inspiration head over to my Pinterest board , my Instagram, or my lifestyle and fitness Instagram.
My #1 Key to a Good Morning

My #1 Key to a Good Morning

  If you’re looking at this pic and thinking, “Hugh Jackman and strawberries” are my #1 Key to a Good Morning, you would be half right. Not a bad way to start my day! The hotel next door serves a delicious breakfast that’s perfect during […]

A New Understanding of Repentance

A New Understanding of Repentance

  When’s the last time you apologized? When’s the last you repented? Was it in a formal way like the 12 step program or the sacrament of confession or a meeting with an elder? Was it in an informal way, “gosh, I’m so sorry”? Was […]

February Favorites

February Favorites


February, you’ve had a good run, but I am ready for spring! I recently changed my nail color from Valentine red to robin’s egg blue after enjoying a week full of 50 and 60 degree weather. I can’t believe on the last day of February yesterday I was wearing a tshirt and sandals!


To wrap up a kind of gloomy February, I wanted to share some of the bright points of my month.






+ things to check out


Photo: MyChelle Dermaceuticals



mychelle perfect C serum and perfect C eye cream


It’s no secret that I am a huge MyChelle beauty fan. I love their combo of effective treatments and planet-friendly natural ingredients. These two products, the Perfect C Serum and the Perfect C Eye Cream are real standouts for me! I’ve been trying to cure my very dark undereye circles with deep hollows for awhile now (see my post here to read about my coverup journey). I realized that I had some puffiness under my eyes that was making everything look a lot darker than it really was. MyChelle recently reformulated their Fabulous Eye Cream and turned it into the hugely effective Perfect C Eye Cream. This stuff works! I’m so excited. I’m also really liking the Perfect C Serum to correct dull skin and spots. I feel like my skin is smoother and more radiant after using these products for a month.



Photo: Target


aussie 3 minute miracle treatment


I did a post recently on 1980s beauty and fashion trends that deserve a comeback, and I don’t know how I left out the classic Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Deep Conditioning Treatment! I know, I am super, super late to the party and only recently bought this on the recommendation of a Target salesgirl. I am still very loyal in my heart to Macadamia’s Deep Repair Masque but I really balk at the high price tag… At just $6, the Aussie treatment was something I was happy to try. I love it! The classic Aussie grape scent is wonderful, it rinsed out nicely, and my hair felt smoother and stronger for a few days after using it.



Photo: LipstickCenter


almay one coat multi-benefit mascara


Almay, long considered the drugstore equivalent to Clinique, has been my guilty pleasure inexpensive makeup line for a long time. (Guilty because Almay can sometimes send off some older-lady, boring vibes.) From time to time I can have reactions to makeup, especially drugstore formulations, and I know Almay will always be gentle and sensitive-skin friendly. They recently relaunched their line with new packaging, new names, and some new formulations. It’s great! With the relaunch, I’m less likely to consider it a guilty pleasure and more likely to add it to my vanity. I find that waterproof mascaras can really strip my lashes and send them flaking and falling into my sink. Anyone else have this problem? The Almay One Coat Multi-Benefit Mascara stayed put, looked great, had a ton of color payoff, nice volume, decent curl, and was SO gentle on my lashes. I am very excited to start using more of their products since the re-launch.


Photo: Amazon


baby university physics for babies


I’m heading to a baby shower this weekend, and my friend registered for the Baby University series of books on Physics: Quantum Physics for Babies, General Relativity for Babies, and Newtonian Physics for Babies. I decided to page through these adorable board books before I wrapped them. They are so cute! I’m not a fan of this trend of filling our babies’ brains full of intense learning content, to be honest. Let them play and explore (with no motive) and save the ABC’s for when they’re older! That being said, it’s fun to have board books that are colorful, cute, and parents like to read. I don’t know a whole lot about physics, and I like having it broken down into baby concepts. My husband has the heart of a scientist, and the training of an engineer, so it’s nice to have a quick primer on that part of the world. From a baby perspective, they’re the perfect size and shape for chewing and the colors are bright and cheery.



Photo: Backyard Beans


+ oatly oat milk lattes


As a mostly-dairy-free person, I love checking out the full range of milk alternatives. When I visited Iceland last year, I discovered oat milk and love, love, love it! If you’re a fan of lattes like I am, it’s hard to get good foam payoff with alternative milks. Soy can form giant bubbles, coconut tends to get steamy rather than foamy, and almond has an almost savory taste I don’t like in my coffee. With oat milk, you get both gorgeous foam and creamy flavor. My favorite local coffee shop carries Oatly oat milk for their lattes. I’m going to try to find this milk alternative for myself soon. I like to dabble in latte art and it would be interesting to switch things up!




+ things to read, watch, and listen to



Photo: MuchelleB



MuchelleB is a youtube vlogger from Australia and one of my favorite personal development youtube content creators around! She has short, simple, practical tips to increase wellness and productivity. As some who is very long-winded, I appreciate 5 minute nuggets of helpful advice. She also has an interesting e-book called 30 days to Simplify Your Life that I’ve been dying to check out. She embraces minimalism and gives so many cool tips to strip things away to their essentials and keep only the things that really matter. I love her sunshine-y zen vibes and always look forward to her uploads.



Photo: TV Land




Ok, I’m just going to put this out there: I used to be a card carrying member of the Madonna fan club. We’ve since parted ways, but when I heard that Debi Mazar, Madonna’s real life bestie, was on tv… EEEEK! So excited! I also really love Hilary Duff so that was a win. This TV Land show is a short sitcom about the lead character, played by Sutton Foster, lying that she is almost 20 years younger than the 40 she is to land a job with a publishing firm. Debi Mazar is her closest friend and Hilary Duff plays her coworker. It’s one of those comedy of errors/secret identity shows, which is always a good time. What I love most is the sendups of popular real life writers. They even include a fake Cat Marnell! It’s great having a sitcom to tune into that’s zero commitment, but fun and funny at the same time.



Gif: Tumblr


Hilary Duff “my kind”


I’ve gotten super addicted to music videos lately because my little guy loves to dance! After landing on Younger, I had to follow up on the most recent Hilary Duff music. I became a fan when she was the only grown up in the pop music business in 2007 with the release of Dignity. Then she disappeared for a few years and released Breathe In, Breathe Out when I stopped paying attention! Well, now I’ve found “My Kind” one of my favorite pop songs in awhile. She’s adorable, her song is adorable, the video is adorable. Well done Hilary.



Photo: Amazon


“the girl with seven names” Hyeonseo Lee


I haven’t even finished “The Girl With Seven Names” by Hyeonseo Lee yet, and I’m already recommending it! It’s so fascinating and Lee is a very engaging writer. Lee grew up in North Korea and at 17 escapes across the border to China. (I’m up to the point in the story right now where she is crossing the river to China.) I had some ideas about North Korea, but reading about it from a North Korean really gives the book such a different perspective. As I’m reading, I’m constantly engaged with new and surprising information about the Kim regime, how daily life operates in North Korea, and the conflict many North Koreans face between loving their home and hoping for their country to change. It’s so easy to see North Korea as this Team America caricature of a dictatorship or as the real life backdrop for the fictional world in the Hunger Games. Digging even an inch below the surfaces shows that our North Korean brothers and sisters live, love, laugh, change, grow, suffer, and find joy in everyday things just as we do. It’s always good to have that reminder. I can’t wait to finish this one.



+ memories




the Philadelphia Museum of Art


My in-laws came to visit the first week of February, and we were able to enjoy a visit to the Philadelphia Museum of Art while they were here. I’m a bit of an art nerd and have visited every other art museum in Philly but, you know, the main one, so I am kind of embarrassed to say that I’ve never been in the six years we’ve lived here! It was an especially exciting trip because it’s our first museum visit with our little guy. My husband had the genius idea to go to the gift shop first and buy our baby a small stuffed wool dog toy. Our little guy played with it the whole time he was in his stroller. Not a bad technique! The exhibits were great, especially the really expansive Modern and contemporary collections. I’m a big, big fan of early to mid 20th century art, so I was very happy to wander around there for awhile. They are really struggling with their Asian art exhibits as many older art museums do, but I can’t change the world in an instant, so I’ll take what I can get… All in all, it was a great visit in one of the most iconic art museums in the country, and I couldn’t be happier to share it with my family.




Valentine’s Day


This Valentine’s Day was extra special because it’s our first Valentine’s Day with the little guy! This year, we decided to forgo Christmas cards and do Valentine cards instead! It was an amazing excuse to get some family photos taken. I loved doing Valentine cards over Christmas cards because this time of year is a lot slower and less hectic than the Christmas season. It was easy to get the cards out (kind of) on time. I loved decorating the envelopes with stickers and buying “love” stamps at the post office. On Valentine’s Day, my husband brought home pretty flowers and a card. I love this guy! Valentine’s Day itself was in the middle of the week this year, so we didn’t go out for a romantic baby-free Valentine dinner until we could get a babysitter that weekend. We headed to one of our very favorite local spots Cantina Feliz. The food there is delicious modern upscale Mexican food with fun cocktails, delicious desserts, the best ceviche, and seriously the. most. amazing. nachos. I’ve. ever. had. They are life changing. No joke. I also got a few new little Valentine decorations this year at Target. After Halloween, Valentine’s Day is my favorite holiday, so I was happy to make the very most of it this year.



I guess that wraps up my February favorites! Now that the weather is warming up, it’s starting to really feel like spring. I’m excited for March and can’t wait to start decorating for Easter. Have a great first week of March and see you next week!



For more tips, tricks, and inspiration head over to my Pinterest board , my Instagram, or my lifestyle and fitness Instagram.