Where Have I Been?

Good question. You may or may not have wondered what happened to the ol’ website that is frecklesandfigs.com for the last couple of months. I have, even if you haven’t. I’ve asked myself way too many times, How long can one avoid blogging until they need to remove “blogger” from their Instagram bio? The truth is, every time I’ve sat down to brainstorm topics to write on or started to click away on my keyboard, one of several rotating excuses pops into my mind.

First, though, let me say how much I hate when people in my life make excuses for things I understand they want to prioritize. For example, when my boyfriend expresses that he wants to workout but simply doesn’t have the time, in my head, I’m like, You’ll have the time when you make the time, buddy.

Isn’t it sad and hilarious how the things we tend to harp on about others are often the things we dislike in ourselves? So, yeah. I’m going to be honest about the excuses that have been keeping me from this place that has been such a wonderful and powerful outlet for my all-over-the-place thoughts and musings.

Before we get to those, I’ll tell you where I really have been. I’ve been traveling: home for my grandpa’s 90th birthday celebration and to Texas for a girlfriend’s bachelorette party in the hill country and to Asheville, NC, for a trip full of card games and delicious food with my boyfriend’s family. I’ve been adding freelance clients to my roster, whom I write several pieces of content, including blog posts and social media copy, for every week. I’ve been spending time with my sister, who has lived in Nashville for the summer doing travel nursing, going to concerts, drinking too much rosé, and talking about life face to face, which we haven’t done so regularly since high school (the chats, not the wine and concerts). I’ve been tip-toeing more and more out of my comfort zone — I joined a small group at my church, have done some volunteering, have attended way more spontaneous social get-togethers than I would prefer. (I’m a planner; have you noticed?)

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Easy + Effective Health Hacks

I haven’t done a post about health and wellness since my Whole 30 experience, and a lot’s changed in my routine since then. I generally try to adhere to the 80-20 rule now, where 80 percent of my diet is clean, whole foods and 20 percent is more splurge-y items. Healthy weekday habits help get me to that 80 percent mark, and then I most definitely go balls to the wall on the weekends.

Speaking of the weekend: Last weekend was CMA Fest, a wonderful and exhausting four days of country music concerts, lots of walking, lots of beer, and little sleep. To kick off the weekend, my brother was in town for a night on his was to Bonnaroo, and I thought it would be a good idea to show him and his friend downtown Nashville (that place with a hundred honkytonks and live music and late nights where I also spent the following four days). So, when I said I “generally adhere to the 80-20 rule,” last week did not count whatsoever. I pretty much lived on Michelob Ultra for those several days, and I am feeling it now.

So, a good sit-down about health could not come at a better time, since I really, really need some of that in my life ASAP. Prior to Beer Fest 2017 — or, I mean CMA Fest — I had started incorporating several new wellness tricks into my weekly routine. Many of them come from blogger/everything goals extraordinaire Lauryn Evarts of The Skinny Confidential. (Do I mention her in every blog post? It feels like I mention her in every blog post. Again, because GOALS.)

Most of them are easy and only require a quick trip to the Internet wonderland that is Amazon. These hacks mostly revolve around food and diet habits, but I also strive to get a few weight-lifting workouts, yoga classes, and jogs in throughout the week to balance everything out. Here are my most recent favorites.

1. Put it in a smoothie. I recently bought a blender, and it has changed my entire (breakfast) world. Pretty much every day, I’ll throw a banana, a handful of frozen mango, a cup of spinach/kale OR a half avocado (something for greens), some coconut milk, a spoonful of peanut butter, a quarter cup of raw oats, chia seeds, and a scoop of collagen powder into my Ninja.

I used to make eggs and toast or Greek yogurt with fruit and granola every morning, but I love these smoothies now as an everyday thing because I can kick off the morning with just about everything I need– protein, complex carbs, fiber, good fats — and I can drink them on the go. You can put almost anything in there (I’ve seen people put charcoal powder in them for hangovers, among other supplements), and I love these travel glasses and these reusable straws from, you already know it, Amazon.

2. Speaking of collagen, this one from Vital Proteins has been a savior for my skin. I have had breakouts since I was in high school; they were horrific back then, and although they’ve tamed some since, they would still pop up on a weekly basis. Even though I care way less about what someone might think of a zit on my chin than I used to, it’s still annoying. But, I swear, since eating collagen every day, it has almost completely cleared up any acne and reduced some of my scarring. It also reduces joint pain; strengthens nails, hair, and teeth; boosts metabolism and muscle mass; is anti-aging; and improves liver and cardiovascular health. It’s magic. You can also mix it into your coffee or tea if you’re not a smoothie person, too.

3. Suck it up (literally) and drink your ACV. A shot of apple cider vinegar is worse than a shot of whiskey, and I will not take a shot of whiskey — EVER. ACV is absolutely revolting, but it’s so, so good for you that I’ve been forcing myself to down it almost every day. I’ve heard you can mix it with honey, water, and a little lemon juice, which I did the first time I tried it and still dry-heaved. So, now, I have to mix it with a pure, no-sugar-added fruit juice and some water to be able to stand it. There’s a good beet-strawberry juice from Trader Joe’s that I’ve been loving as a mixer.

Apple cider vinegar, no matter my love-hate relationship with it, has so many health benefits: It helps with acid reflux, lowers blood pressure, aids weight loss, clears skin, helps with stomach issues, boosts energy, helps control blood sugar, and way more. Tip: Even if you can stand it, don’t drink it plain because the acidity by itself is so strong that it’s bad for your teeth and throat.

4. Take your vitamins. Ever since I overdosed on biotin when I was a sophomore in college and woke up covered in giant, burning hives (good times, good times), I haven’t been able to find a women’s multivitamin with a low enough dose of biotin/B vitamins that doesn’t make me feel itchy. (Side note on that: taking three times the suggested amount on the bottle, in fact, does NOT make your hair, skin, and nails three times better, to my dismay. Instead, it can create an allergic reaction to the buildup of biotin in your body, leaving you at an urgent care getting a steroid so you can go to class not looking like a diseased freak the next day. Fun fact!)

I guess I’m extra sensitive to that vitamin since then, but I recently started taking Vitafusion gummies, which don’t make me itchy or hive-y but get me all the good stuff. Score. I also started taking a probiotic, which helps with gut health, and a joint supplement that I found at Trader Joe’s, which has gelatin in it to promote joint strength. As a former dancer in high school who hyperextended my hips and knees on a way-too-regular of a basis, I’ve noticed I already get hip and lower back pain. I don’t want it to worsen over the years, so a joint supplement is the way to go. (Plus, gelatin is also good for skin and hair, too, so double-win!)

Let me know if you already do any of these or have different, simple tips to incorporate in my week. I’m all about adding fast and effective tricks to my routine!

This post was not sponsored by Amazon, but I sure wish it was. Yo, Amazon, wanna work together?

It’s All Good

Summer is here and good things are happening, friends. One not-so-good thing to get out of the way before the good things: John is in Austin all summer for an internship. I mean, it is really good that he has a wonderful internship that could lead to a career of his dreams and everything, but I miss him, you know? One more not-so-good thing: that thing I wrote about last week that I really don’t want to talk about again because I drained all my emotions into that one post and now I’m working on the healing stuff. So, let’s keep trekking along.

Good things. There are so many, but let’s start with this week — or this weekend, more specifically. This weekend marks the third CMA Fest in a row that my sister and I will attend together. This festival has all the things: FREE country concerts all day long for four days straight; beer; and my favorite city (which is also where I now live), Nashville.

The fact that I live here for this year’s fest may be what I’m looking forward to most. Last year, we stayed in a friend’s ex-boyfriend’s one bedroom apartment (there were four of us), and I slept on a chair — not a couch, a CHAIR — with an ottoman to support my lower half. But the ottoman would slowly slide further and further away as I slept, and I’d wake up with a foot of space underneath my lower back. Let me tell you, a chiropractor would have been a good idea after that trip.

And the year before that, we stayed in an Airbnb that, granted, was a great deal, but I’m pretty sure the rickety mattress we slept on was 80 years old, and we still had to take 20-minute Uber rides anytime we went downtown. (Chiropractor would’ve been sweet after that one, too.) So, to be in my own bed every night after standing in 90-degree heat for 12 hours every day sounds majestic. (Yeah, I’m basically 25 going on 87 years old.) Plus, I’m only 10 minutes tops from downtown! Bingo.

If you like country at all, I recommend this festival because you can go to free concerts all day, and you don’t have to camp (unlike several *cough* or all? *cough* other country festivals). If you want to see bigger-name artists, you can buy tickets to the nighttime concerts for a couple-hundred bucks, but honestly the day ones are more fun (again, grandma over here), you can get way closer to the performances, and you’ll still see performers you recognize.Read More

for my girl

Dogs are heroes. My border collie, Charlie, was my hero. She saved me. My mom got her for my birthday one year—I think I was turning 12 years old. It was in the middle of my parents’ divorce, and I remember coming home from celebrating my birthday with my dad and feeling sadness in my whole body. The weight hit me that I was now celebrating my birthday with my dad, and then I was celebrating my birthday with my mom. It would never be just one celebration, all of us together, again.

That day, I plopped on the couch and started telling my mom what we did at my dad’s. Her face was so lit up as she listened, and I remember thinking that there was no way she was this excited about me recounting the Dove ice cream sandwiches we ate and the video games we played with dad.

Then she asked if I noticed anything. I looked around our family room—a place I’d grown so used to that I suppose I didn’t even notice its details any longer—and against the far wall I finally saw a small crate with a teeny black and white ball of fluff.

My life changed instantaneously.

In the middle of what felt like the end of my world—our family was being ripped in half in actual slow motion—I had this wild, sweet animal to call my own. I called her Charlie. Today, Charlie passed away. She was 13, a year older than my age when I got her, and she lived the happiest and the quirkiest life.

Those early days with her are difficult to remember, but the day she became mine, the feelings I had that went from despondent to ignited are clear as glass.

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