Be sure to follow me on Instagram for more!
Last year I took Nick on a surprise trip to Mexico for his 30th birthday. And when I say surprise, I mean he didn't know where we were going or what we were doing until we got to our gate at the airport and I let him look at his plane ticket! It was pretty amazing, and I was super proud of myself for pulling it off!
We stayed at an all inclusive resort in Riviera Maya, and had a complete blast!
Barcelo Maya Palace is absolute perfection. See for yourself this paradise on earth!
The bathroom in our room!
There is little I love more than free food, and hardly anything Nick loves more than free booze, so we were in absolute Heaven our entire stay!
Me getting to cross off number 75 on my Bucket List; Eat tacos and drink tequila in Mexico!
Ahhhhh the beach...I feel wonderfully at peace by the ocean, and the little slice of beach that our resort sat on was no exception!
We had the incredible opportunity to visit and spend part of a day at Emotions Native Park.
Zip lining was an adventure!
We also got to ride ATVs throught the jungle which Nick was crazy excited for.
We also swam in a cenote, which is a body of water in an underground cave, and I was absolutely obsessed with the experience!
Thanks for coming over and enjoying our pictures!
Be sure to follow me on Instagram for more!
Pssst! Don't forget to check out my book I wrote, "Creating Your Dream Life; A Road Map" on Amazon to learn how you can take fabulous vacations like this, and also rock your everyday life!
Peace Love and Mexico
I don't know about you and your summer plans, but for me, I like to put in some serious reading time! And I am always searching for that next great summer beach/hammock/airplane/bathtub/porch read...
If that sounds like you (and if this place looks like the closest thing to Heaven on Earth to you [and yes, this is a real place, it is inside a mechanic shop back in Navarre, Ohio]) then get excited, because I have here for you 10 of my favorite summer reading material that will be sure to keep you company all summer long!
The Arsonist by Stephanie Oaks
The skillful way this author weaves together historical fiction with the modern day story of two young people each searching for something, absolutely and completely blew my mind! I could not put this book down! The Arsonist by Stephanie Oaks is a gripping, heart-pounding, jaw-dropping, must-read that will leave you gasping out loud!
Nights of Rain and Stars by Maeve Binchy
When I picture summer, I think of travel. Nights of Rain and Stars gripped me because it truly brought alive those beautiful emotions that only travel can bring out.
The Rope by Nevada Barr
The Rope is a great whodunit, but with the added twist of howdunit, and whydunit! An intense and thrilling read that I highly recommend for anyone who loves the creepy and mysterious.
The Testament by John Grisham
What an entertaining story! I was enthralled, enraptured, and so entertained from this book's exciting beginning, all the way through to its satisfying ending. This is a story so different from all other books I have ever read!
A Walk Across the Sun by Corban Addison
Corban Addison is a newer author with only four novels to date, but he quickly made it on to my list of favorite authors with his book "A Walk Across the Sun" (definitely read his other three books as well!). It is inevitable that I will end up sobbing uncontrollably while reading any Corban Addison book, and A Walk Across the Sun was no different. This fictional book tackles the very real and daunting subject of human trafficking-the global trade in human beings. In preparation for this book, the author actually traveled to India and spent time with a human rights agency that combats forced prostitution, interviewed investigators who roam the red light districts looking for tips about minor girls, met children who were rescued from exploitation, and actually went undercover in a brothel. Says Corban about this experience, "At the end of my trip, I went undercover into the brothels of Mumbai. Behind closed doors and drawn shades, I met girls who were not free to leave. I will never forget shaking the brothel owner’s hand after I declined to make a purchase. In our world of shifting shadows, the face of evil is often hard to discern. But I saw it that night. Then I came home and wrote the story." This is not a light beach read, you will cry, but it is such an important subject, written so incredibly, you will not be able to put it down.
The Rules by Nancy Holder & Debbie Viguie
This psychological thriller was, to my delight, reminiscent of one of the best selling mystery novels of all time, "And Then There Were None" by Agatha Christie. When reading "And Then There Were None" I could not get enough of the terrifying notion of being stranded with ten strangers, all of whom are being picked off one by one by an unknown murderer-presumably one of you! That to me, is the absolute height of terror, and one of the most exciting things you could read! So when I began to read The Rules, I could hardly believe my eyes! The Rules definitely followed all the rules of a great terrifying thriller!
Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
I have been crazy about the Jurassic Park movies since I was a kid, and was so stoked to finally be reading the book! The book (per usual) goes into so much more detail than the movie, and I was ecstatic to be discovering these new details! Both the process of how they make the dinosaurs, and Ian Malcom's Chaos Theory, are explained in such wonderful detail that I had a whole new understanding of both subjects, as well as Jurassic Park as a whole! This book is packed full of a crazy amount of things that weren't included in the movie, as well as a completely different ending! You think you know Jurassic Park? You're wrong!
I can't wait to read the second book!
Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
I absolutely adore this book! I have read it three times already, and don't plan on stopping there! To me, Eat Pray Love is a quintessential summer read-travel, self discovery, love, adventure, it really has it all! Each time I've read this inspirational true story, it speaks to me. Each time speaking something different, and every time giving me all the emotions. I know one of the reasons that this book speaks so loud to me, is that I myself have traveled the world, doing several solo trips. I think this book brings back to me those feelings that only being a solo female traveler can give you. This book will give you confidence, self-realization, and a heaping dose of wanderlust!
The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost
This book entertained and thrilled me to no end, telling about far off lands and grand adventures! The author's wit and writing style is something absolutely wonderful on its own. I laughed out loud at this true and hilarious account of two expats living in Tarawa, a remote South Pacific Island in the Republic of Kiribati. If you've ever wanted to just pack up your life and move to a deserted island, pick up this book and live vicariously through Maarten and his girlfriend Sylvia, as they navigate a completely new world and way of life.
The Great Brain Series by John D Fitzgerald
I have been reading and re-reading every book in the Great Brain series since I was a kid. They are young adult books but are super entertaining, with tons of heart. These are great quick feel-good reads.
Peace Love and The Books of Summer
As most of you who read this blog know, about six months back the husband and I spent two glorious weeks in sunny Vietnam!
The first week was spent attending the yoga and mindfulness retreat with saigon om. I wrote all about this life-changing retreat if you would like to read that.
The retreat was in Mui Ne, Vietnam and was held at the fabulous Full Moon Village Resort.
If you are traveling to South Vietnam, this place is a can't miss!
Here's why you need to book your room at Full Moon now;
Ok first let's start with the room! And when I say room, I mean an entire villa! To ourselves! Completely fenced in! With an outdoor hot tub! Yeah this is it right here!
As you can see, to say this space is luxurious is an understatement indeed!
And housekeeping is wonderful!
Pretty romantic huh?!
And don't even get me started on this pool...too late! You got me started!
But for real, have you ever seen a more luxurious pool?! And let's face it, at least half of a resort's must-stay factor lies in the Instagram worthy-ness of its pool! And with this incredible view, you will have all the Instagram pictures you need! Don't believe me? Check these out!
Swimsuits hand-picked by me
Now let's not overlook the ocean in all of this (pun intended!)!
A resort on the beach needs...a great beach!
Sadly with so much pollution the beach was littered with trash, but the resort staff did a great job of clearing the debris from their beach every morning! So that left us with a beautiful beach to relax on, and take lots of great pictures.
One of my favorite things about this beach was that you could see ocean and mountains at the same time. Breathtaking!
The Full Moon beach is the perfect place for some early morning qi gong and mindful walking, both of which we did every morning during our retreat.
Speaking of mornings, the sunrises here are definitely something special!
The path from our room to the beach.
The food and drinks were absolutely gorgeous! Prepared by an on-site chef, everything was fresh, healthy, and delicious.
Everyday I got to feast on freshly prepared pho, while sipping fresh squeezed watermelon juice, and the darkest most perfect Vietnamese coffee, as well as plenty of other fresh fruits and some of the healthiest and best meals I have ever experienced.
Side note, if you are vegetarian or vegan, Full Moon has plenty of options for you!
We loved staying at the Full Moon because it is located at the very end of the long stretch of seemingly un-ending ocean side resorts that the southern coast of Vietnam offers, so it was nice and secluded. The other reason it was perfect is that they have a van that runs multiple times a day between the resort, and their sister resort that is located in downtown Mui Ne! By staying at Full Moon you have access to the other resort, and can simply hop on the (free!) shuttle bus and be whisked downtown!
This aspect was so perfect because after our retreat was over Nick and I wanted to explore downtown Mui Ne (as you definitely should, read about our experience). The bus not only took us into downtown Mui Ne free of charge (even though we had already checked out of the hotel!), it also dropped us off directly in front of our new hotel (that was not the sister hotel)! This was especially incredible considering we don't speak the language!
The owner of The Full Moon Village Resort, Pascal, is a Frenchmen. So if you speak French or English, no need to worry about communicating, as you will find plenty of people there who speak both languages!
And the best part? Rooms at Full Moon Village Resort start at less than $70 a night! You can't beat luxury living for that price!
Full Moon Village Resort's Facebook.
You can also find them on Booking.com, and Expedia!
Send me a postcard when you're there!
Peace Love and Full Moon Village
Lately I've become kind of obsessed with taking a good hard look at my environmental impact. My family has always been into recycling and various other earth friendly practices, and so I in turn have always recycled, and try not to be too wasteful. However lately, I've decided that I can do more! Here's why;
We found this, and plenty more trash that had washed onto shore while in Vietnam a couple months ago. Human trash is threatening our oceans, our environment, our animals and sea life, and our own health! Over 100,000 marine mammals and 1 million seabirds die from plastic pollution every year. Yes, disposable plastic products make life simpler, but at what cost?! We are destroying our planet! And ourselves. Are we that lazy, that convenience is more important than the well-being of ourselves, our children, and this planet?
I say no more!
I have embarked upon a journey! To stop using as many plastic and single-use items as I possibly can, and instead, start using reusable items whenever possible! Follow me and join me on this fabulous journey, and we will find ways to work these items into our everyday life, without spending a ton of money, without inconveniencing ourselves, and maybe even saving some money! We will take that one extra step, and make a huge impact!
Together we will save this planet!
So here I have for you ten disposable items to ditch today, and the alternatives to replace them, forever!
#1. Plastic shopping bags
When I was in China in 2008, I found these adorable little reusable shopping bags. I had never seen anything like it in the United States at the time, and it took a couple years before they started to catch on, but I am glad that they finally did!
This is definitely one of the most popular, normal, and socially acceptable item on this list. If you want to start small, this is a great one to start with!
Reusable shopping bags are super easy to find, and they are super cheap! You can find cute ones at craft stores and novelty shops, or plain ones at any grocery store. If you shop at Target, they will give you five cents off for each reusable shopping bag you present and use at checkout! Yes! Keep a few in your purse and the rest in your car, so you always have them with you when you stop at the grocery store.
While you're at the grocery store, you might also need...
#2. Plastic produce bags
I buy a lot of produce, as I'm sure you do. Every week the husband and I roam the produce aisle and buy a large amount of fruits and veggies. I have not personally bought reusable produce bags yet, since I have only recently started this journey and can't afford to buy all the reusables at once- So I decided to make my own! I made this cool, reusable produce bag out of an old t-shirt!
To make your own re-usable produce bag out of a t-shirt for free, cut the t-shirt into a tank top and cut the neck off, then turn it inside out and sew a straight line at the bottom of the shirt. Or you can do like I did, and cut strips with knots at the top and then without turning the t-shirt inside out, sew a straight line right above the knots. You will have the most stylish produce bag at the grocery store! Keep this bag with the rest of your reusable shopping bags in your car.
#3. Coffee filters
I know I am not the only one who loves to sit at home on my porch (or couch, or desk...) and drink coffee. If you are brewing your own coffee at home, then you are already saving money, and fighting against single-use items by skipping the disposable cup, lid, stirrer, sleeve, etc. at your local coffee shop. However, there is still a single-use item that you are using every time you use your coffee mate. The coffee filter! My mom gave me my own reusable coffee filters for Christmas a couple years ago, and I am loving them! By using a reusable coffee filter every day you are saving a good amount of money by not having to purchase packages of disposable filters every month. I love my organic Coffee Sock!
Speaking of coffee...
#4. Disposable Coffee cups
Construction workers have known it for years, put your coffee in a thermos (or travel mug)!
Reusable coffee mugs come in every shape, size, color, pattern, and style! Buy yourself one, and use it! Starbucks, Seattle's Best, and Peet's all offer discounts if you bring your own reusable cup, as do many other local coffee shops! Saving money, and saving the planet...score!
While on the subject of beverages...
#5. Water bottles
Using planet destroying plastic disposable water bottles is an absolutely crazy notion in my opinion. Don't be crazy, opt instead for a re-usable water bottle! I have a few, and I take them everywhere with me. While carrying your own reusable water bottle, you can also skip the disposable cups at fast food restaurants!
Bonus! If you purchase your water bottle from 4ocean.com you will help pull one pound of trash from the ocean!
#6. Plastic straws
I am absolutely loving my new reusable drinking straws from Strawesome, and Francesco Palmieri so much, I'm ashamed I didn't start using them years ago! I have bought one for me, my husband, and gave one to my mom. I will probably start giving these as gifts!
Plastic straws are so small, do they even cause any harm? That would be a big fat yes! Millions (MILLIONS!) of plastic straws are thrown away each day! Let that sink in! And one plastic straw takes at least 200 years to break down, but plastic doesn't actually decompose, it just gets smaller. And! It's toxic! Plastic straws send toxins into your drinks. Guess where they go next? Yep! Into the cells of your body. Enjoy that with your glass of water! Plastic straws are littering the ocean, washing ashore (like the one I found in Vietnam above), and have been found stuck in the nostrils of poor sea turtles. That does it! I am done with plastic straws! My glass drinking straw (with a lifetime guarantee!) is so enjoyable to drink out of, when I'm drinking something really cold, the straw gets cold too, and it just tastes better than plastic straws! Read my complete blog post about these great glass straws from Strawesome!
I believe in this product so much, that I actually became an affiliate with Strawesome, trying to help them sell as many re-usable drinking straws as possible! Click the banner above to buy your own beautiful re-usable glass straw, or click the link above to become a Strawesome affiliate!
The glass straws from Strawesome are a bit pricey, so I have also found some much more affordable reusable straws. The reusable rainbow colored metal straws from Francesco Palmieri on Etsy are absolutely incredible! And costing only $3.55 each, you have no excuse not to have several! Plus, use coupon code RECYCLE for 20% off! I have several different ones in different colors that I carry in my purse in the adorable draw-string bag that you can also purchase from his Etsy Shop.
Speaking of drinks...
#7. Anything restaurant related
I work in the food industry and goodness gracious you can not even imagine the amount of things wasted here-especially single use items! I am talking disposable chopsticks, spoons, forks, knives, to go containers, to go cups and tons of little plastic dishes with plastic lids for sauces and small items!
There are several different facets of this thing, and thus several ways you can go about eliminating the use of these items.
The first facet is delivery. With the rise of food delivery services such as zifty and doordash, the use of disposable items are skyrocketing! Try to eliminate having food delivered to you as much as possible! The styrofoam containers, plastic utensils, and all the little sauce packets, I shudder! If you do have food delivered from somewhere, tell them either on the phone or on the app you're using that you do not want any sauce packets or plastic utensils. Also, look for restaurants that are more eco-friendly and use paper and cardboard instead of plastic and styrofoam. For example at my work, we do not use plastic bags, we use brown paper bags, and we do not use styrofoam containers, we use recycled cardboard boxes.
Next up we have take out. We have this awesome guy Josh, that orders food from my work at least once a week. We all know who he is, and we all know not to use any single use item for his order! When he comes to pick up his food he brings with him a glass tupperware container and lid, hands it to us, which we hand to the cooks, and they put his food in the container! We don't give him any plastic utensils, and we don't put his container in a bag-he brings his own!
Eating in. When eating in at any restaurant whether it be fast food or dine in, it is important to be prepared! I carry my Francesco Palmieri drawstring bag in my purse with me everywhere I go. This bag contains a set of reusable chopsticks, and my reusable straw. I don't carry any utensils because I don't eat at restaurants that use plastic utensils.
#8. Feminine hygiene products
Yes I am talking about pads! And how perfect and absolutely adorable are these reusable cloth pads from the Etsy Shop Mama in the Moonlight! I am obsessed!
These soft, absorbent, and beautiful handmade moonpads come in all sizes and designs. Are you tired of using crunchy bunchy disposable pads full of chemicals? Then shop around and see what many women are discovering to be completely revolutionary: a fun, chemical free, and comfortable moontime! Not to mention how much plastic you will be saving from being thrown away, oh and the money! The average woman spends $150-300 a year on pads and tampons-go buy yourself something nice with all that money you're saving girl!
And is it just me or is this another perfect gift to give all the ladies in your life?!
Don't forget to follow them on Instagram to see more adorable pictures like this one!
What if you don't like pads and prefer tampons? How about an eco menstrual cup? I haven't used one yet, but I have several friends who have and absolutely love them! No more waste, no more spending money on tampons, and no more toxins sitting inside your body!
Pssst use the code RECYCLE for 20% off your eco menstrual cup!
#9. Paper towels
Don't even get me started on paper towels! You buy these things, just to turn around and instantly throw them away! My mom (and now me) would cut up our old shirts for use as rags. After wiping up a spill, you can just rinse it off, and wring it out! Imagine how much money you will save after cutting paper towels out of your budget!
#10. Your toothbrush
In the United States alone it is estimated that over 850 million toothbrushes are discarded every year. Yikes...
Bamboo toothbrushes, while still disposable (I don't think anyone wants to use the same toothbrush for the rest of their life!), are actually compostable! Compostable means that a product is capable of disintegrating into natural elements in a compost environment, leaving no toxicity in the soil. Usually in only about 90 days!
I got this super cute rainbow compostable bamboo toothbrush from the same Francesco Palmieri Etsy Shop that I got my reusable straws from.
I have to tell you that I am loving this company! All their packaging is made from recycled paper, they only use all natural ingredients, and they try to keep everything zero waste!
On their Etsy Shop they have these toothbrushes, the straws I have on here, and some essential oils. On their website you can find all that plus the menstrual cups mentioned above, their own natural skin care line, and a bunch of other cool stuff (eco friendly pencils say whaaaa?!!).
Oh, and I have a coupon code for you! Use the code RECYCLE for 20% off!
The earth is all of our responsibility, let's get started today!
***This post contains some affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking one of the links, this blog receives a small commission. Also, I received some of these products for free in return for my feedback on this post. As always, I keep my opinions honest on all products, regardless of them being affiliate related, or given to me for free.***
Peace Love and Mother Earth
A couple weeks ago you read all about our yoga retreat in Vietnam with saigon om.
We spent five wonderful days at this retreat, but spent a total of two weeks in Vietnam. So what did we do the other nine days? I'm so glad you asked!
We split our time between Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), and Mui Ne, so I will split these two cities into two blog posts-here is the first one, welcome to Mui Ne!
Mui Ne is an adorable little coastal fishing and tourist town along the southeastern edge of Vietnam.
During our first five days in Mui Ne we enjoyed the luxury of the Full Moon Village, a secluded and glorious resort that we stayed at during the retreat. This place was so awesome it will be getting its own blog post soon!
We love the ocean, and there was no shortage of it here as you can see!
I absolutely loved watching the fishermen hard at work, their little boats bobbing around in the ocean, and cruising around the beach on their motorbikes!
Once the retreat was over, Nick and I hopped on a bus and headed into town, a bustling little touristy area with no shortage of restaurants, bars, convenience stores, and seafood. Downtown Mui Ne is divided in two- the ocean side of the road, and the non-ocean side.
The ocean side of Mui Ne is where you can find the luxurious ocean front hotels, ocean front dining, and one of the best clubs I have ever been to. The non-ocean side is usually made up of less expensive hostels and backpacker hotels.
Nick walking on the ocean side of the road.
We found ourselves smack dab in the middle of the long stretch that is Nguyen Dinh Chieu, the street dividing the ocean side and the non ocean side, staying at Cocosand hotel, a little hole in the wall on the non-ocean side. It only cost us $16 a day! We could have gotten an even cheaper room, but we wanted a private bathroom.
We absolutely loved it here-I mean look at that courtyard!
This drop dead gorgeous, magnificent, perfect courtyard was in the middle of the hotel, with a sidewalk going all the way around it, and the rooms branching off of the sidewalk.
This was our room!
Can you tell I'm obsessed?! We were so very happy with our stay here.
Oh yes, the food! Food and drinks are usually one of our favorite parts of vacation (ok life!). Add in an ocean view and crazy cheap food and drinks? We were in heaven!
This was our favorite place, with our favorite view, with our favorite food!
Speaking of restaurants! I am obsessed with this little hole-in-the-wall restaurant where you take your shoes off before you enter, sit on mats on the floor, and the waitress brings you newborn puppies to hold because her dog just had babies!!!
Goooooood morning Vietnam!
As you can tell, we had the best time during our stay in Mue Ne, Vietnam. I would whole-heartedly recommend it as a vacation spot! Why not join saigon om on their next yoga retreat here?!
Thank you so much for reading- stay tuned for upcoming posts about The Full Moon Village Resort, and our time in Saigon!
Have a wondeful week loves <3
Peace Love and Mui Ne Vietnam
"Sitting on our mats on the ground, joining in a guided meditation, listening to the birds chirping in the top of our shala, and the waves just beyond, I couldn't help but smile, and just be thankful to be alive, and to be spending a part of my life in this glorious slice of God's earth."
This was an entry I wrote in my journal I kept while at the retreat. I don't normally journal, but there were so many moments, and so many emotions happening, that I didn't want to forget a second of it. A good portion of this post has been taken from the journal I kept at the retreat.
As I am sitting here looking at my three hundred plus pictures, and going through my pages and pages of hand scribbled notes, I am wondering how on earth to truly share with you guys, and do justice, to the five days and six nights I spent with saigon om. I guess I will just share with you what our week looked like, and start by telling you our daily schedule while at the retreat. I know I wrote a little about the schedule in my previous post, where I told you all about saigon om and how excited I was to attend a retreat by them. If I'm being honest, when I wrote that schedule down, and then showed it to my husband, it left us both feeling a little overwhelmed. Neither of us were super advanced in yoga, had ever attended a retreat, or knew anything about mindfulness, and that schedule, while it looked amazing, was a bit daunting! If any of you felt the same way when you looked at it the first time, don't feel bad! But I knew it would be good for us, we wanted to do it, and so we did it! And wow, I can't even begin to explain how happy I am that we did! So with that in mind, here is what our week looked like while at our yoga and mindfulness retreat with saigon om in beautiful Mui Ne, Vietnam.
6:00-7 a.m. Qi Gong, mindful walking on the beach, and guided meditation
7:00-7:45 a.m. Fruit, tea and coffee
7:45-8:30 a.m. Lecture
8:30-10 a.m. Morning yoga
10:00 a.m. Brunch
11:00 a.m -4 p.m. Free time
4:00-6 p.m. Evening restorative yoga, mindful tea drinking, group sharing
6:15 p.m. Dinner
6:00-7 a.m. Qi Gong, mindful walking on the beach, and guided meditation
I am a bit embarrassed to admit that one of the things I was worried about, was our schedule beginning at six o'clock in the morning. I have trouble getting to bed before midnight, and getting me out of bed before eight is nearly impossible, so the thought of having to start my day every morning at six, was a bit troubling! However, I discovered with delight, traveling to a place eleven hours ahead of home, is the perfect solution for that! I fell asleep every night before eight, and every morning we arose before sunrise. Sneaking out of our villa, following the trail to the ocean, we would watch the magnificent sunrise, the clouds slowly peeking above the ocean, the sun casting its fiery rays. This was a beautiful moment for Nick and I every morning.
Once the sun had rose, we would wander up to our shala, which was a second story open-air hut with a beautiful thatched roof that housed a large number of birds, that had a breathtaking view of the ocean. Shala means house in Sanskrit-it is used in yoga to mean a house of yoga. This is me at the front of our shala.
The Chinese practice of Qi Gong was a delight! Qi in Chinese means energy, and Qi Gong is the practice of using breathing, meditating, and movement to get your energy moving (Sarah and Hang explain it much better!).
I loved learning about this thousands of year old art form, and getting to use the free flowing movements to wake up my organs, and even ease some of the tension in my shoulders!
The photo above and below are courtesy of Pascal Lefebvre, the owner of Full Moon Village Resort.
Our mindful walking was a beautiful time spent every morning walking in mindful silence, as a group, along the beach.
During our first morning guided meditation I sat on my mat, and participated in the guided meditation. I closed my eyes, listening to the sound of Sarah's voice gently guiding us on our meditation journey. Tears ran down my face as I listened to the birds chirping, the waves crashing, and focused on loving awareness towards myself. I was overcome by such deep feelings of joy, peace, and a love for myself and my surroundings.
7:00-7:45 a.m. Fruit, tea and coffee
Once the guided meditation was over, we all walked down from the shala where fresh fruit and teas were awaiting us. If that wasn't enough, we got to order a fancy tea or coffee from the wait staff. My iced Vietnamese coffee with coconut cream was probably one of my favorite parts of the day! I also loved the opportunity to sit and conversate with the amazing individuals from five different countries, and all walks of life that were at the retreat. Being in a group of like minded people, talking, sharing, and nobody on their cell phones (!!!) felt like paradise to me!
7:45-8:30 a.m. Lecture
After we had our fill of the glorious fruits, teas, and coffees, we made our way back up to the shala. I thoroughly looked forward to, and enjoyed the lectures. The word lecture conjures up for most hard chairs, fluorescent lighting, and a long-winded professor. More opposite of that this could not have been! We sat in a semi-circle in our shala, on our yoga mats, with the wind in our hair, and the ocean beside us, learning lessons that we would later practice on the mat, and in everyday life. Hang and Sarah enraptured and delighted us with their vast knowledge, humor, and contagious joy. We learned about the different doshas, mindfulness, the garden of the mind, and how words can affect us, and more! I took lots of notes and am so excited to keep applying these wonderful principles to my life.
8:30-10 a.m. Morning yoga
Ahhh morning yoga...can you think of anything more perfect?
Lying there on my back focusing on my breathing, hearing only the gentle sounds of Hang's voice, and the crash of the ocean, with its cool salty breeze blowing delicately on my face, I knew i was truly in paradise. And yes, this is the view from our shala!
10:00 a.m. Brunch
Brunch was an absolutely glorious time! After four hours of yoga, meditation, and lectures, we were all invigorated-and hungry! We made our way downstairs where a buffet of freshly squeezed watermelon, coconut and other various juices were waiting, along with a different vegetarian pho every day, as well as fresh salads, coffee, and other various brunch foods. We ate these with the glass doors wide open to allow the outdoors access to us. Sigh, heaven.
11:00 a.m -4 p.m. Free time
After brunch we had five glorious hours to do whatever our hearts desired. This included for Nick and I spending time at the pool, walking the beach, and spending time in our room.
A note about the hotel, I have never stayed in a place more secluded, delightful, and luxurious, all rolled in to one, than the Full Moon Village Resort in Mui Ne. It housed the most beautiful pool I have ever swam in, incredible and authentic vegetarian Vietnamese cuisine, amazing staff, the ocean right at our back yard, and don't even get me started on our room! It was not even a room, but our own private villa! A completely fenced off, perfectly private villa with a spacious kitchen, dining and living room, bathroom, and a bedroom with romantic netting surrounding the bed! This luxury was completed by our very own outdoor hot tub! I will be writing more about this amazing resort in an upcoming blog post about Vietnam.
4:00-6 p.m. Evening restorative yoga, mindful tea drinking, group sharing
At four we all arrived at Sarah and Hang's villa, yoga mat and couch cushions in hand.
We would start the evening with a mindful tea drinking ceremony, first reading the above mantra, then partaking in mindfully, gratefully, and with purpose drinking our tea.
Next was group share. I loved group share! We took turns sharing whatever was on our mind and heart. Some were joyful things, some had realizations and epiphones, and others were struggles and losses. We shared together, we cried together, we experienced together.
Last was restorative yoga. If you are a person who thinks yoga is too hard, then you must try restorative yoga! The lights were dimmed, soft music was played, and we all lay on our yoga mats using big fluffy couch cushions for comfort. Hang and Sarah took turns guiding us on this relaxing, and healing yoga session. Nick even fell asleep one day and started snoring real loud. And Nick never takes naps! It was that relaxing and good!
6:15 p.m. Dinner
The first fifteen minutes of dinner was spent in mindful silence. We first gave thanks to our higher being, and then gave thanks to the food. We were encouraged to say hello to each piece of food, imagine the journey they took to get to us, and to chew slowly and thoroughly. Doing this, we got to experience mindfulness and a different way of thinking in something we do every day, in something as simple as eating a meal. Truly amazing! I actually really enjoyed the mindful silence at dinner time. I got to really taste, and really enjoy every bite, instead of wolfing it down like I normally do. After fifteen minutes we were free to get seconds, and talk. Nick and I usually stayed until about seven thirty talking with all our new friends, then went back to our villa for bed.
The next morning we got to do it all over again!
I am someone who loves to totally immerse myself in things; cultures, languages, experiences. And being totally immersed in this culture of mindfulness was completely transformative! We got to listen to teachings about mindfulness, and then experience it during a yoga session, a walk on the beach, even eating! And that was just perfect.
And yes, yoga and meditation can be daunting. But Sarah and Hang guide you through it with ease. Giving you tips, helping your form, and always teaching you new techniques and sayings, it was such a special experience.
Not a bad way to spend five days!
I 1,000% recommend trying a yoga and mindfulness retreat at least once in your life. Hang and Sarah hold retreats and trainings year round in Vietnam and Australia, if you've ever wanted to visit one of these delectable places, and also Canada if you live in Canada or the States and don't want to venture too far from home. It doesn't matter which location you choose (though I'm quite partial to Vietnam...), just go! Go on this transformative, once in a lifetime journey with saigon om.
If you have any questions about the retreats or different training courses, feel free to email them (firstname.lastname@example.org), Sarah and Hang are the greatest and will be happy to answer any questions. Just tell them Jessica from My Peace Love Life sent you! Go like them on facebook to see all the amazing things they are doing!
*A million thank yous to my wonderful husband Nick for going on this adventure with me, and for all of these amazing pictures he took, and also to saigon om for sponsoring this post and for being so so incredible*
Peace Love and saigon om
I am so excited to share that I have recently written an article that got published in the first issue of Peachy Keen Pinup Magazine! Not only were some of my waterfall photo shoot pictures included in the magazine, but directly opposite it was my article that I wrote specifically for the magazine! Go check it out, you can purchase a digital copy, or have the magazine shipped directly to your door! There are some beautiful girls in there!
So since I love you guys so much, I am sharing this article with you that I hastily scribbled down in a day to meet the deadline, but it actually turned out really good, and I am very pleased with it! Here you have, "Why I am a Modern Day Housewife", accompanied by the amazing photos I just received from my latest photo shoot at Dixie Pinup Studios. They were shot by the greatest pinup photographer around, Brooklyn Brat Images. Enjoy!
"As someone who loves 1950's culture, I have come to take the role of housewife very seriously. I have always been pretty good at cleaning, budgeting, and cooking the occasional meal, but it wasn't until I got married in 2015, that I began taking all of that seriously, and embarking on my housewife odyssey!
For those of you getting offended, saying that women aren't servants, and that the concept of a housewife is antiquated, just know that being a housewife isn't about being inferior, and treating your spouse as if they are your superior. Just the opposite actually! I feel such an overwhelming sense of pride and accomplishment when my house is spotless, the money is budgeted, the bills are paid on time, and there is a healthy, delicious meal made from scratch, waiting on the table. For me, being a housewife is about the most empowering thing I can think of. And of course there's that lovely Mother Teresa quote; "If you want to change the world, go home and love your family." Swoon! That is exactly what to me, being a housewife is all about. Showing my husband, our dogs, (and someday if we have kids) how much I love them.
I am a housewife but; I also work a part-time job as a waitress, I have my own blog which I
love, I donate time and money to different charities, I do pinup modeling and events, and
my husband and I are in the process of opening our own business!
I consider myself a modern-day hosewife; I am a strong, smart, independent woman who does a little bit of everything, while taking care of the people she loves. And I love it.
P.S I'm not always in the mood to cook and clean, so I found myself a man who also likes to cook, clean, and who does the laundry every week (because I hate laundry)! We are a team, and I wouldn't have it any other way."
Me with some of my beautiful Georgia Pinup Posse girls, embracing the nostalgia together.
What do you think?! Does being a modern day housewife resonate with you? If this is something that you want to delve more into, I have tons of great resources on this blog!
Check out my recipe section for some great food inspiration,
my money section for budgeting tips,
and my blog post "How to Host a 1950's Housewife Dinner Party" for inspiration!
P.S Go like my pinup Facebook page, or follow my Instagram for more great pictures like these!
Peace Love and Modern Day Housewife
Today's post is dedicated to bathrooms!
The humble bathroom; we all use them, hate cleaning them (well I personally don't really mind, but I'm a weirdo that likes to clean!), and simply can't live without them!
I have traveled a lot, both in the United States, and around the world, and have seen some crazy bathrooms! I never realized however, how many pictures of bathrooms I had actually taken, until I discovered Rate My Loo on Instagram. Rate My Loo posts great pictures of bathrooms from all over, if you need a daily bathroom fix, go check them out!
The first bathroom on this bathroom tour of the world, is one that I hold dear to my heart; the bathroom in my first apartment in China!
I absolutely adored this bathroom! There was no distinction between shower and toilet! You could literally turn the shower on, move the nozzle a little to the left, and shower while sitting on the toilet! What more could you ask for?!
This next one is a little (ok a lot) more primitive! But as I always say, the primitive-r the
fun-ner (ok this is my first time saying that, and I'm pretty sure neither of those are actual words but, you get the point!)! So check out this super fun bathroom! This gem was located in a remote village in Vanuatu called Takara Village.
No need to flush,everything just drops straight down into this hole in the ground!
Going in the complete opposite direction of the bathroom above, we move on to one of the most amazing bathrooms I have ever visited!
It's no wonder this beauty is so amazing, it is located in the best airport I have ever been in, South Korea Incheon Airport.
Now, if you've never been on a 13 hour flight before, then you simply can not realize the true luxury of a bathroom that has a shower in it, that is located in the airport where you are about to have a 12 hour layover, right after said 13 hour flight! Oh, and it was free to use! Yes, this bathroom was true bliss.
Ahh the squatty potty...No collection of bathrooms would be complete without it!
For anyone who has done extensive traveling in Asia, I am sure you've come across a one!
The squatty potty is actually a really healthy and smart way to poop (it's all about the pooping posture! You can actually buy a "squatty potty" to replicate this posture in your own home!) but sadly, as China is becoming more and more westernized, they are doing away with a lot of the squatty potties.
Here are some more pictures of the glorious squatty potty...
This is a bathroom in a bar/music venue in China! I'm pretty sure this was the owner's cat, he was just chillin' in there all night!
This is for real! It was hanging in a bathroom! I think in Singapore.
Some abandoned bathrooms in Vanuatu.
I thought this was cool! This was on the outside of a bathroom in Waihai, China.
Me and my friend Rachel goofing off in a bathroom on an airplane!
Hey there hilarious sign in a Starbucks bathroom in Xi'an, China!
I believe this was in Vanuatu.
Soooo....this is a real thing I found! A feet-washing point at a McDonalds in Singapore.
Our lovely shower and toilet area while we were staying in a little village in Vanuatu.
I still have no idea what this was about! Hahaha. I found this while at a music venue in Cleveland, Ohio when we were watching Panic! at the Disco.
This bathroom! Hehe. This was at an outdoor music festival in Xi'an, China.
Peace Love and Bathrooms
A short poem I wrote, called "Travel is my Education"
"Travel is my education.
Language books, are my text books.
Airplanes, my school bus.
The locals are my professors, fellow man, my classmates.
Watching the sunrise is my homework, and swimming in the ocean is my gym class.
This world is my classroom, and with pleasure each day I attend,
with eagerness I await,
and with joy I heed, the lessons it loves to teach."
Be sure to keep up with all my travels here!
Peace Love and Travel
I am beyond delighted to introduce to you the newest member of our family; Rocco!
He is a four year old terrier chihuahua mix, and he has completely captured our hearts!
I have been wanting a puppy for a while, and finally decided that now was the time; our lives are stable, we have good jobs and enough money, a place to live, and the Atlanta Humane Society had just taken in over 400 animals from shelters in Texas and Florida!
So on September 13th we made a trip to the Atlanta Humane Society. Tears filled my eyes as we walked up and down the aisles, all the dogs looking up at us through the glass, begging us to take them home and give them a family.
I wanted to adopt all of them, but unfortunately couldn't. But I found my precious sweet Rocco, and we have given him his forever family!
So adorable and so happy!
He loves to play and cuddle. He is so perfect for us, and I am so in love!
As of late I have become super passionate about animals; helping put an end to animal cruelty and neglect, stopping the vicious cycle of puppy mills, and ensuring that every animal out there has a loving and stable home.
Adopting Rocco was the third step I took in my fight for animals. I have also begun to take a closer look at labels, and not support companies who do animal testing. I also give monthly to the ASPCA, they are doing some amazing things in helping stop the abuse and neglect of this country's animals!
Each year, 2.7 million adoptable dogs and cats are euthanized in the United States, simply because too many pets come into shelters and too few people consider adoption when looking for a pet. The number of euthanized animals could be reduced dramatically if more people adopted pets instead of buying them. When you adopt, you save a loving animal by making them part of your family and open up shelter space for another animal who might desperately need it.
If you buy a dog from a pet store, online seller or flea market, you’re almost certainly getting a dog from a puppy mill. Puppy mills are factory-style breeding facilities that put profit above the welfare of dogs. Animals from puppy mills are housed in poor conditions with improper medical care, and are often very sick and behaviorally troubled as a result. The moms of these puppies are kept in cages to be bred over and over for years, without human companionship and with little hope of ever joining a family. And after they're no longer profitable, breeding dogs are simply discarded—either killed, abandoned or sold at auction.
These puppy mills continue to stay in business through deceptive tactics — their customers are unsuspecting consumers who shop in pet stores, over the Internet or through classified ads. Puppy mills will continue to operate until people stop supporting them. By adopting a pet, you can be certain you aren't giving them a dime.
My sister worked at a vet's office for a short time, and she got to witness the horror of puppy mills first-hand. She actually rescued a beautiful little chihuahua that a breeder brought in to euthanize, simply because she was to small to breed. That poor dog was traumatized, and months later is just starting to open up to other people besides my sister. She was definitely abused and neglected.
Here are some ways you can help;
-Give to the ASPCA
A monthly gift of $18 is nothing to us, but can make a world of difference to the hurting animals that the ASPCA helps every day.
-Adopt a pet!
Rescue animals make amazing pets. They will love you so much, and it is amazingly rewarding for you as well! Go to Adopt a Pet or visit your local humane society to find your new best friend.
-Begin boycotting companies who still use animal testing
Let them know that animal testing is not ok! Boycott them, and write to the companies as well, telling them they will not receive any of your business until they stop!
Volunteer at your local animal shelter.
Peace Love and Adopt don't Shop
I'm a crazy world changing, diy-ing, globe-trotting, retro loving, old fashioned housewife!