Currently On Repeat

Thursday, January 30, 2014

It's been awhile since I've done one of these.  I have a post about struggles with anxiety and depression that I've been trying to write all week, but the words that I keep writing just don't seem right.  Too long. Too short. Not eloquent enough. Trying too hard to be funny (story of my life) Do you ever feel that way about blog posts?

Anywho, an Ed Sheeran cover of this song has been popping up on Pandora a lot lately but I will always love this Wailin' Jenny's version best.  It takes me back to Scotland and that makes my heart very, very happy.

Staying Healthy Through The Season- Part 4

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Happy Tuesday, friends! Did you have a nice weekend?  We finished up our two week cleanse (which I will have a review on later this week) and indulged ourselves wholeheartedly. Homemade french bread? Um, yes please.  But more on that later.

This week I'm talking about another great, all-natural way to fight off illness this season.  I don't know about you but it seems like everyone around me is sick this week.  I have managed to avoid any would-be sick days and, in addition to the previous things in this series, I attribute that fact to an old friend called oregano oil.

Let me tell you a little bit about how I came to be introduced to oregano oil.  Rewind  6 years: I was a freshman in college, I'd just been broken up with, and spring break was two days away.  I was dreading spending a week in my hometown so when a random acquaintance asked if I wanted to go on a camping roadtrip up to his hometown with a group of people I jumped at the opportunity.  I showed up to the parking lot bright and early with my sleeping bag in hand to meet up with the "group"... which turned out to be the aforementioned random acquaintance and his random friend.  Me. Two dudes. Road trip. Sounds legit.  Had I not been in such a volatile place of post-breakup desperation I might have stopped to think about the fact that this is precisely how most horror stories start.  But I'm really glad I didn't because that turned out to be one of the best weeks of my freshman year.  And that random acquaintance turned into one of my closest college friends.

Spring Break, 2008, lost in the woods.

Did I mention his name was Phoenix? True story.

So oregano oil-  I'm getting there.  I had a minor cough at the beginning of the road trip which, after a few nights of sleeping on the cold hard ground, turned into a full blown hackfest.  Phoenix explained to me that his dad was a chiropractor and his mom was a witch doctor (this was a joke; please don't burn me at the stake) so between the two of them I could get fixed right up.  We arrived at their Santa Rosa cottage and as soon as his mom heard me cough she busted out the oregano oil.  She instructed me to take four drops straight.  Wowza!  It burned like heck (for the record, I don't recommend taking it straight) but the next day I was feeling improved.  I took it every day I was there and when we left on the third day I was feeling back to full health. Witch doctor, indeed.

I've since used oregano oil any time I'm going to be around large crowds or sick people.  It's a natural antibiotic & immune system booster.  It has been credited in treating bronchitis, diarrhea, and rheumatism.

If you're interested in trying out oregano oil, look for one that contains at least 80% carvacrol.  Dilute four drops into a glass of water and drink once a day.  Children are not advise to ingest oregano oil directly; instead it can be rubbed onto the soles of the feet to be absorbed into the skin.  I've never tried that method, but you can read more about it here.

As always, check with your doctor before making any major changes to your health routine.

Check out the rest of the series here:

The House on the Hill

Friday, January 24, 2014

I haven't talked about this much on here, but Ty and I have a pretty unique living situation.  For the past year and a half (and for me during my last couple of years in college) we have been living in a house that once belonged to my grandmother.  It's a lovely little house that is nestled in the hills of Los Angeles but that was abandoned for many years.  We cleaned it off, fixed it up, and spent many hours pouring work into this little house in order to make it feel like home.  My grandmother passed away about two years ago and after a long & ugly legal battle the time is drawing near when we will have to move out of our house on the hill.

It's bittersweet, to be sure.  On the one hand, we are sad to leave the place we've come to love so much.  It has been a safe haven for us in the midst of hard times.  It has also been a place that we have been able to invite others over to celebrate and laugh and form great fellowship.  But on the other hand we are excited to move somewhere that will be a bit more stable.  I've been a wanderlust for most of my life but right now I feel so anxious to put down roots.  I know buying a house is a huge undertaking but it's a goal we are both shooting for right now.  I feel a bit stuck in that area of limbo between hope and certainty. Between wanting and dreaming and imagining but also rationalizing and reasoning and reality-checking. 

We are in the midst of a time of unknown right now.  And that's okay. For the first time in awhile we don't know what's going to happen next, but I feel a sense of peace despite the uncharted waters that are ahead.  We know Who goes before us, and that's all that really matters.

Have you been there? How do you manage to find balance? Also, if you have any first-time home buying experiences I'd love to hear about them!

Homemade Chicken Pad Thai

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Some of the best pad thai I've ever had in my life was, oddly enough, in Germany.  I was studying abroad in Heidelberg and living in a house with 45 other Pepperdine sophomores.  We lived in a four story mansion and every day on our way to school we got to walk the same streets that Mark Twain walked.  We fell in love with the city and grew obsessed with each other and with gluhwein and never ever wanted to leave.  It was an absolute dream.

Where was I? Oh yes, pad thai.  So our dinners were all served to us in this restaurant that was about a 15 minute walk downhill from the house.  Which isn't really a big deal unless it's snowing and the restaurant is serving currywurst yet again and you've grown plump from the excessive amounts of German beer and schnitzel you've been consuming and you're 19 years old and dramatic and just can't fathom walking alllll the way up that hill with a full belly after dinner.  And in that case, you order pad thai.  There were nights when 90% of the house would skip dinner and order Thai takeout from Supan's.  We had it on our Skype speed dials (it's still on mine... I can't bear to take it off.) They knew us by name.  Words can't express the sheer delight that came when that doorbell rang and bags upon bags of styrofoam boxes were delivered and we all sat on the floor with our plastic forks and agreed that, yet again, this was a very good decision.

The other night Ty & I decided to take a stab at making our own pad thai and that, too, was a very good decision.  The consistency of the noodles was a little off because we accidentally overcooked them (oops!) but it tasted fantastic.  Some of these ingredients may be found in your local grocery store but others might require a trip to a Thai market.

Homemade Chicken Pad Thai
Adapted from Darlene Schmidt
Serves 2


  • 8 oz thai rice noodles
  • 1.5 Cups chopped chicken breast
  • 1 tsp corn starch
  • 1/4 Cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 Cups fresh bean sprouts
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 1/2 Cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/3 Cup finely chopped unsalted peanuts

Pad Thai Sauce:

  • 1 Tbsp Tamarind paste
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 1-3 tsp Sriracha, depending on how spicy you want it
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp ground pepper

1.  Place chicken breasts in a shallow bowl.  Dissolve the corn starch in the soy sauce and pour over the chicken.  Set aside.

2.  Next mix up your pad thai sauce.  Whisk together all ingredients and adjust for taste.  Fish sauce will make it saltier, and tamarind will make it a bit more sour.  Set it aside.

3.  Heat a large pot of water on the stove until small bubbles begin to form at the bottom.  Blanch the rice noodles in the water for until they are soft enough to be eaten, but still firmer than "al dente" noodles- about six minutes.

4.  While noodles are cooking, heat up 2 Tbsp vegetable oil over in a wok over medium high heat.  Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds.  Add chicken pieces but do not pour in the soy sauce marinade.  Cook for a few minutes on all sides until chicken is white all the way through.

5.  Push chicken to the sides of the pan and add the beaten eggs to the middle.  Scramble until cooked through, then stir to incorporate all the ingredients.

6.  Once noodles are done drain and add to the wok immediately.  Pour the sauce over and use two wooden spoons or a pair of tongs to gently toss all ingredients as you would a salad.  Stir fry for 2 minutes, then add bean sprouts and green onions and cook for 1 minute more.

Serve immediately topped with peanuts and fresh cilantro.

Staying Healthy Through The Season- Part 3

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Did you have a nice long weekend?  We spent ours hanging out with friends & family and began the long & arduous task of cleaning out our garage.  Did any of you try taking garlic for the first time? I'd love to hear your stories! (Or what your significant other thought...)

This week we are talking about something that is a fairly new concept to me...

Fun fact: Did you know that between 70-80% of your immune system lives in your gut? When I think about someone who is in "good health" I usually think about the heart or the blood... but definitely not the large intestine.  Perhaps it's because health issues in that region tend to be of a more, um, personal nature.  I won't get too graphic today but here are the basics: Our large intestine is home to trillions of "good" bacteria.  These bacteria aid in digestion, help the body absorb nutrients, and fight off illnesses.  Obviously, it's important to keep these guys in high supply!  Probiotics are especially important after you've taken a round of antibiotics, as these can kill off the good bacteria as well as the bad bacteria.

There are many differing opinions on the best way to get more probiotics into your system.  You've probably seen yogurt companies advertising the benefits of the "live & active cultures" (aka probiotics) in their products.  There is some research that suggests that the changes in temperature of yogurt results in very few cultures being present by the time the yogurt actually hits your bowl.  I tend to avoid yogurt anyway because of the crazy amounts of sugar most of them have and I really can't stand the taste of just plain yogurt.  Sourkrout & other fermented foods (sadly, beer not included) are also good natural sources of probiotics.

There are also approximately a bajillion different supplemental forms of probiotics on the market.  Some brands tout that only refrigerated probiotics will do the job, but those tend to be the most expensive ones out there.  I personally use Safeway Select's Acidophilus Plus which is pretty inexpensive and I have been quite happy with it.  Dr. Oz recommends AdvoCare's Probiotic Restore, though I myself have not personally tried it.

This may seem like a lot of information at once but there is so much to learn about these good little bacteria.  I'm still learning about the different strains of bacteria that are out there (mostly I'm trying to learn how to pronounce them) and I highly encourage you to do your own research as well.  Knowledge is power, right?  And, as always, please please please check with your doctor before adding any supplements to your diet or before making any major changes to your health routine.  I am not a doctor...not even close... but I do believe that we as individuals should take steps be more informed when it comes to our health.

Have you ever taken probiotics?  What was your experience? I'd love to hear- sound off in the comments below!

Sources: 1//2//3//4//5
photo via medhealth

Friday Favorites

Friday, January 17, 2014

The weekend is almost here and I could not be more ready for it.  This week has been super hectic for both me and Ty so we are looking forward to lounging around, catching up with friends, and brewing some beer (and maybe sneaking in a couple of episodes of The Walking Dead while we're at it...) And come Monday when our fast is over you can find me face first in a bowl of Nutella frozen yogurt.  No kidding, I even had a dream about it last night.

Here are some links that I've been loving this week...

  • Have you seen Veronikas new shop yet?? It  just opened on Wednesday and I'm already in love.
  • Natalie posted some great info on copyright laws.  I'll definitely be making some blog edits this weekend!
  • Caitlin's post about being a cat lady.  This girl just gets it.
  • It's been SO hot here lately and all I want is to be living in this dress
  • Shayla spoke so much wisdom about overcoming lies and it really spoke to my heart. Go check it out and be filled with Truth.

    I hope you all have a great weekend!

Sponsorship Opportunities

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Happy Thursday, friends! I wanted to write a quick note and let you know that I've added some sponsorship opportunities to the page.  To be totally honest I was a bit wary of sponsorships at first,  but after sponsoring some other (amazing!) blogs I have come to realize what a great opportunity it is to connect with new people and expand your readership.  If you're interested click here for more info or shoot me an email at amandacjaynes[at]gmail[dot]com.  Orrrrr you could shoot me an email even if you're not interested... I love making new friends :)

Weekend Edition- The Watts Towers

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Los Angeles Watts Towers

This month Ty and I are on a very tight budget so as the weekend drew near we tried to think of a few fun & free things we could do around the city.  We decided to visit the Watts Towers and I'm oh-so glad we did.  They are an amazing historic landmark nestled right within our own city and I really can't believe it took me this long to go see them.

The towers were built by Simon Rodia over a span of 33 years and were completed in 1954.  They are decorated entirely with materials that Rodia found: sea shells, glass bottles, plates, and bits of pottery.

In 1959 the City of Los Angeles wanted to demolish the towers because they were deemed "unsafe" in the event of an earthquake.  A group of activists banded together to form a test that would establish the structural soundness of the towers.  They attached a cable to the tip of each tower and used a crane to exert force.  The towers were so strong that they caused the crane to experience mechanical failure.

I think these towers are aesthetically quite beautiful but I also admire what they stand for; creativity, pride in your community, and making something beautiful out of that which others have discarded.

We had a great time lolling around the property and taking pictures.  It was the perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon.


Thanks for reading!

Staying Healthy Through the Season- Part 2

Monday, January 13, 2014

Welcome back! Have you been drinking your water this week?  I slacked off majorly on Friday which led to a terrrrrrible dehydration headache. No fun.  Anyway, this week we are talking about one of my favorite cooking ingredients.  It not only adds flavor to food, but can also provide tremendous health benefits during the thick of cold & flu season.

Garlic! Have you ever thought about it in a medicinal sense? I hadn't until I read up a bit on this miracle food and then tried it out myself.

First some facts: garlic is both antibacterial and antiviral, meaning it can help fight off common ailments and perhaps even food poisoning.  It is packed with antioxidants and also acts as an anti-inflammatory.  It is loaded with vitamin B6 and can aid in cancer prevention.  It enhances the level of insulin in the blood and can therefore help regulate blood sugar.  The sulfur-containing compounds present in garlic prevent plaque from building up in the arteries and contribute to a healthy heart.  Garlic has been said to cure athletes foot, headaches, bronchitis, and ringworm.

Now for my personal experience: when we went up north for Christmas I noticed one evening that I was beginning to get a sore throat. We were going wine tasting the next day so it was a terrible time to be getting sick. (When's a good time, really?) So before I went to bed I pressed a clove of garlic and ate it raw.  It tasted terrible and made my stomach burn a bit.  I later learned that you are not supposed to eat it on an empty stomach... whoops! The burning subsided within five minutes and I immediately started burping. I've gotta be honest, it smelled awful! (That's those sulfur-containing compounds I mentioned earlier.) However, I went to bed that night and when I woke up my sore throat was completely gone.  I was sold!  Since then I have eaten a clove of garlic every time I feel a sniffle coming on or whenever I know I am going to be around someone who is ill, and it has come through for me every time.

Interested in giving it a shot?  Here's how. 
(Note: Raw garlic is not recommended for kids and pregnant women. And of course, contact a doctor before making any big changes to your health routine.)
Mince a fresh, medium-sized clove or push through a garlic press.  Let is sit for 15 minutes to maximize the potency of the allium.  Swallow the garlic without chewing, if possible, and wash down with water.  Learn from my mistakes and don't do this on an empty stomach or right before you're going to give your husband a New Year's kiss (never gonna live that one down.)  It takes a couple of hours for the garlic to fully metabolize and you'll have stinky breath until then but it's worth it! 

Have you ever tried using garlic as a health-booster? What was your experience?

Sources: WebMD//NaturalBlaze//India Health//Medical News Today//WH Foods

On Feasting & Fasting

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Over Christmas break I bought Shauna Niequist's newest book, Bread and Wine, and I couldn't put it down.  She paints such vivid pictures with her words and the recipes that accompany her stories are fantastic. (I've already made two of them!)  There was one chapter of the book that really stood out to me; it was the chapter about feasting and fasting.

Let me tell you a little something about myself.  I am severely lacking in discipline; especially when it comes to food.  I've done attempted fasts before and they typically end in failure.  I tried to go on a diet once and was eating out of a tub of ice cream within three days.  Whenever I resolve to give up some food item for lent I usually find some good, (and holy!) excuse to ditch the effort within a couple of weeks ("When I don't have coffee I'm mean to people... God surely doesn't want me being mean to people.")  I love food.  And I hate being told I'm not allowed to do something, even I'm the one telling myself that.

But after all of the feasting that occurred over Thanksgiving and Christmas I noticed that my body was feeling particularly sluggish.  My pants were feeling snug and I had grown accustomed to being able to eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted.  In no uncertain terms, I was living a life of gluttony.

So I found myself both inspired and also a bit relieved when I read through Shauna's times of feasting and fasting.  She explained how, after every season of "feasting" (namely Summer & the holidays) she partakes in a time of "fasting" during which she excludes soy, gluten, dairy, and added sugar from her diet.  It's not solely for health or weight loss; it's also a time to realign appetites and to get out of the habit of having exactly what you want exactly when you want it.

It sounded like precisely what I needed after a long (and emotional) season of feasting.  I think it's important to feast; to take part in a bounty and to celebrate and smell and taste and not even think about counting calories.  But I also think it's important to practice times of fasting; of obedience and self-control (and a whole host of other virtues I'm lacking in these days.)

So! Two weeks.  Ty (he opted to join me... whadda guy!) and I are omitting gluten, dairy, soy, and added sugars from our diets.  We are almost through week one and, though there are certainly more restrictive diets out there, I must admit it's been a struggle for us.  But struggle is good.  Those are the times you grow, right? (And in this case, maybe shrink a bit, too.)

Have you ever gone on a fast before? What was your experience with it?

The Great Christmas Exchange 2013

Friday, January 10, 2014

Last month I participated in a fun little thing called The Great Christmas Exchange.  It was such a great experience!  Beth and Samantha did such a great job of organizing a fun way to get to know other bloggers without adding stress to an already stressful season.  Sometimes when I sign up for things like this I find myself overwhelmed with the lists of rules and regulations but I really enjoyed the simplicity of this exchange.  The rules were simple- get to know another blogger, keep your identity a secret, and send them a Christmas present that will bless them.  It was a blast!  I had the privilege of stalking perusing Keizra's blog at 27th and Luxe.  Wow, talk about lovely! She blogs about faith, style, and design.  I had so much fun getting to know her more and had a lot of fun shopping for her.  I sent her a gold sparkly nail polish (for her love of all things white & gold), a statement necklace from forever 21, a compact mirror, a couple packs of her favorite candy, and two "his and hers" ornaments- one for her and one for her fiance.

I forgot to take a picture so I'm borrowing this one from 27th&Luxe

When my lovely package came in the mail I was a bit confused... wait... Shayla Cornett... why do I know that name?  Oh, that's right, because I'm already following obsessed with her blog and have plans to buy one of her mobiles whenever we have a baby.  Minor fangirling happening over here.  I really truly wish I had taken pictures of her lovely wrapping job (gold glitter washi tape? my kind of girl... head over to her blog to see pictures) but I have the patience of a 5 year old on Christmas morning so the paper was off before I could even think about grabbing the camera.

Seasonal recipes for small, intimate dinner parties?? It's like she's known me for years!  I stayed up into the wee hours of the night pouring over each and every recipe and melting over the gorgeous photos.

  My favorite part of this gift was the family recipe that Shayla included.  To me, family recipes are sort of intimate- like a teeny tiny glimpse into the system in which you were raised.  I am often hesitant to share my family's recipes because they feel like a secret, hidden gem that I can treasure and keep all to myself.  That being said, I was honored & touched that she chose to share one of her family's recipes with me.

Thank you so much, Shayla, for the thoughtful gift.  And thanks to Beth & Sam for hosting such a lovely exchange! I'm already looking forward to round 2!

Staying Healthy Through the Season- Part 1

Sunday, January 5, 2014

I spent much of my childhood sick. Growing up I was constantly missing school due to some cold or cough or tonsillitis or something of the sort. Once I got into high school I got bronchitis every year, without fail. I assumed I just had a weak immune system and was doomed to be a sick little thing my whole life. Then I moved to Chicago. I assumed the terrible cold and wind would further weaken my immune system and that I would get sick even more often.  But something awesome happened during my year there- I didn't get sick once.  I was shocked when, during the height of cold and flu season, I was one of the few people in my office who didn't get sick. I attribute this to just a few simple lifestyle changes I made. Since then I've learned a few more tips for staying healthy (naturally!) even in the thick of winter.  I figured I'd do a little series here to share the things I've learned.

Please keep in mind that I am NOT a doctor and I have NO medical training whatsoever. The tips you will find in this series are all natural, but I feel the need to add that I am, in fact, a supporter of Western medicine and I believe you should always check with your doctor before making any big changes to your diet/ supplement intake/ health routine, etc. 

Okay, now that that's out of the way... I have a feeling this first one is going to make you roll your eyes and make half of you close your browser but hear me out.

Photo Credit
My number one tip to fighting off illness is to drink water, and lots of it.  I know you've heard this before. I know it's not news to you.  But how many of you can actually honestly say that you drink 2 liters (more if you're also consuming alcohol and/ or coffee) a day?  I always assumed I was decently hydrated but when I started working in Chicago I all of a sudden had a water dispenser close by.  I always had a glass of water by my side and this is the biggest factor to which I attribute my health that year. I was less sleepy and more alert throughout the day.  I never realized how frequently I was dehydrated until I began to feel what adequate hydration felt like. Simply staying hydrated made all the difference! So find some way to make sure you are getting enough water, and don't do it by just drinking some whenever you feel thirsty. Keep track. Wear rubber bands on your wrist. Keep a tally on your phone.  Do whatever you have to do to get two liters a day.  I promise you'll notice a huge difference!

What are some natural ways that you stay healthy? I'd love to hear!

On Resolutions & Waiting Rooms

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

I had lots of posts planned for this blog for the past two weeks, I swear.

I had recipes and outfits and a year-in-review and resolutions and other ideas that I had planned to post that seemed really important. 

And then we came up north and time slowed down a bit.  Suddenly spending time playing games with our family seemed just a little more important. And I felt a little guilty; like blogging and emailing and instagramming-so-I-don't-get-kicked-out-of-the-blogger-gift-exchange should have seem more important than it did. But it didn't.

And then we found ourselves in a hospital waiting room in the middle of nowhere, praying for the best but bracing for the worst. And none of that stuff was remotely important. Not even a little bit. In fact, it didn't even cross my mind. And I didn't feel a tinge of guilt about that because the cliche is true; that in those moments, everything comes into focus. In those moments of waiting and uncertainty and fear and tragedy and squeezing hands and prayer, in those moments all of the menial things that at one point seemed so so important just seem to fall off the face of the planet and only the truly, truly important things remain. Those moments hold a sense of sacredness that we just can't seem to cultivate in the busy-ness of everyday life.

For the record, our prayers were answered and things turned out okay in the end.

But that sense of importance has stayed with me. I had all these great new year's goals that I was pumped about accomplishing. I might still accomplish them, and that's great. But my resolution this year is not about doing more, or having more, or accomplishing more. It's simply to be present. To recognize the sacred in the everyday. To pick up the phone/ laptop/ tablet less and spend more time holding hands, looking into the faces of the ones I love, and focusing on what's really, truly important.