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  • LIFE Lifestyle

    Yoga for Self-Care: Why It’s My Go-To

    Looking for a new form of self-care? Try yoga! Yoga is great for healing your mind as well as your body. Here’s why yoga for self-care is one of the best things you can do for yourself.

    Yoga for Self-Care
    Image courtesy of Shutterstock

    Self-care is all about taking care of yourself and doing what feels good to you. It can be what feels good to you in the moment (taking a nap), or something that you know will help you in the long run. It doesn’t always have to be bubble baths and shopping, it can be eating a cookie, playing with your dog, filling out paperwork, literally anything that makes you feel good and happy. But my ultimate form of self-care, the one that I always turn to? Yoga.

    Yoga is one of the most popular forms of self-care. It’s great for calming down your brain, easing your stress, and helping you stayed centered. But on top of all that, it gets you in shape. And I don’t know about you, but easing stress while getting in shape at the same time sounds like a win-win to me.

    My favorite part about using yoga for self-care is that yoga is all about you and where you’re at that day.

    It’s totally tailored to you, and you can modify anything you need to. Feeling a little sore? Modify the poses! Feeling energetic? Push yourself to try new poses you’ve been nervous to try. Let me introduce you to my favorite yoga channel on YouTube: Yoga with Adriene. I’ve been hooked on her channel for about a year now for a few reasons:

    • There’s a wide variety of yoga routines, so there’s something for however you’re feeling. There are harder, strength-building routines like power yoga, all the way to slow-paced breathing exercises.
    • It’s easy to follow along to her routines without looking at the video because she describes everything so well. I’ve watched a ton of yoga videos where I need to be constantly watching the screen because they don’t call out the poses or explain how to do anything.

    I’ve followed along to a ton of Adriene’s yoga flows, probably about 90% of them, and I’m still enjoying them. Through Adriene’s channel, I’ve discovered power yoga, and now it’s the type of yoga I turn to most often. Power yoga includes all of the calm, relaxation, and breathing techniques of regular yoga, but it gets your heart rate up and keeps you moving. It’s a fantastic workout, but also great for keeping me distracted on those days when I need a little extra self-care.

    Once I started doing yoga regularly, I realized that it could be my self-care every day of the week. Some days I’ll get in a good workout, and some days I’ll enjoy a calm, easygoing, slow-paced yoga to give my muscles (and brain!) a break.

    Have you ever tried an at-home yoga routine? If so, do you use YouTube videos or just do it on your own? Let me know in the comments!

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  • LIFE Lifestyle

    Easy Zero Waste Swaps to Make This Summer

    I’ve been trying to become more eco-friendly this year, as I’m sure a lot of people have. Every day, tons of articles are published regarding the state of our planet and how we can help make it better. It can be overwhelming and cause you to feel helpless because you’re just one person. But one small thing we can all do to make a huge difference is to start implementing zero waste swaps, which means we swap out some of our everyday essentials for plastic-free or eco-friendly ones.

    Easy Zero Waste Swaps to Make This Summer

    This post may contain affiliate links, which means that I earn a commission if you purchase through those links (at no extra cost to you!). Thanks for the support that makes Panthers & Peonies possible!

    Landfills are one of the biggest contributors to pollution. By recycling or switching to no-waste products, we could prevent up to 80% of landfills. This type of information has caused a surge in no-waste living, and the materials to do so have become cheap and easy to find. Here are a few easy, stress-free, cheap zero waste swaps you can make in your own home!

    Reusable water bottles (vs. plastic water bottles)

    This is one of my favorite zero waste swaps, and the first one I really committed to. When I read that 2.5 million plastic bottles are thrown away every hour (in the US alone!), it really opened my eyes and I ran out to buy a bunch of reusable plastic tumblers. At first it can be a little tough to remember to bring your own tumbler, but soon it will become second nature. Bring your tumbler to work, to Starbucks (if you’re in the drive-through, just let them know that you brought your own cup!), to hang out with family or friends, or even to a restaurant.

    Reusable canvas grocery bags (vs. plastic bags)

    This is one of the most popular swaps, especially in California where they charge for plastic grocery bags. Not only does it save me money to bring my own bags, but my reusable canvas bags also store 2-3x more than a dinky little plastic bag! Plus you’re saving marine life, as 80% of the negative effects on ocean life are caused by plastic.

    Reusable produce bags (vs. plastic produce bags)

    This swap is becoming so popular that most grocery stores carry their own line of reusable produce bags, and they’re usually stored right next to the produce! Produce bags are super durable and made of natural materials, which means once you get home, you can keep your food stored directly in these bags.

    Metal or silicone straws (vs. plastic straws)

    I was a little late to the metal straw game, as I usually save my plastic straws and use them until they fall apart. Gross? Maybe. But it made me feel a whole lot better than just tossing them. But then I got some silicone straws and I’m obsessed. They fit perfectly in any of my reusable tumblers, plus you can throw them in the dishwasher to make it even easier on yourself.

    Glass soap dispenser and bulk liquid soap (vs. small plastic soap bottles)

    This swap is not just good for the environment, but also good for your wallet. Refilling your own soap dispenser can save so much money in the long run. Plus, whenever you want a new soap dispenser, you can buy a new one and recycle the old one. Did you know that glass can be recycled indefinitely without losing its quality?

    Waterpik (vs. regular dental floss)

    I finally bought myself a Waterpik (on sale at Target, $30!). I still use regular dental floss once a day (at night), but I use my Waterpik in the morning and any other time I need it. That’s still cutting down waste by 50%!

    A regular coffee pot (vs. non-recyclable K-cups)

    I’m going to be honest, I’ve never been a fan of Keurig coffee machines. They’ve just never appealed to me, mostly because I need a whole lot more than one cup of coffee in the morning. I’d rather brew one pot than keep coming back to make another cup! Plus the K-cups always seemed so wasteful. However, a while back they introduced a reusable plastic K-cup you can use every day with your own coffee grounds. I love that, but I still think the best option is a good old-fashioned coffee pot. Plus the filters and coffee grounds are compostable, so it really is a no-waste product!

    Disposable paper plates and silverware (vs. regular plates)

    The average American uses roughly two trees every year in paper products. Sometimes these paper products are unavoidable, but it’s best to cut down wherever we can. Use plastic, stoneware, or wood plates at home, and try to avoid plastic cutlery whenever possible. There are tons of portable reusable cutlery sets out there, most of which are $10 or less!

    Reusable silicone food bags (vs. Ziploc plastic bags)

    This is a huge one. Cutting down on Ziploc bags and plastic wrap can have a huge effect on our planet. Try switching to reusable silicone food bags to carry your lunch or store leftovers. The best part is that most of these bags and microwave and dishwasher safe, and some of them you can even cook in!

    Looking for more lifestyle articles?

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  • Home LIFE

    6 Must-Haves for a Relaxing Bedroom

    Do you feel stuck when it comes to creating a relaxing bedroom environment? Are you having trouble falling asleep? I created this short, simple guide to help you create the ultimate relaxing bedroom.
    This post is sponsored by Yogabed.

    6 Must-Haves for a Relaxing Bedroom

    Sleep and I have always had a complicated relationship. But 2018 unintentionally became a year of self-care, and that self-care has transferred over to 2019, where I’m actually learning how to take care of myself and doing a pretty good job of it. Except sleeping, the one area where I still struggle.

    Part of why I have trouble sleeping is because I’ve never taken a minute to actually set up my bedroom the way that I want it. It seems to be perpetually filled with clutter and piles of art that I have yet to hang up, which means I go to bed every night looking at a pile of things to do tomorrow. So finally, I said NO MORE.

    About a month ago, I did a complete overhaul on not only the bedroom, but also my office (still a work in progress). I cleaned out all the junk, hung up all the art, moved things around to create a big, open, breathable space. And wouldn’t you know it, I’ve been sleeping better. Here are my 6 must-haves for the ultimate relaxing bedroom!

    1. Plants, plants, plants.

    Plants not only create a happy, relaxing living environment, but they can also help you sleep. Certain indoor plants are air-purifiers, which means clean air, which means breathing easier and sleeping better.

    6 Must-Haves for a Relaxing Bedroom

    2. Comfy bedding.

    This seems like a no-brainer, but you won’t believe the difference it makes when you switch to sheets with a higher thread count. I slept on those awful cotton sheets from Target for way too long, and just recently upgraded to these olive green silk sheets. They breathe better, stay cool, and ultimately make me feel like I’ve moved up a little bit in the world.

    6 Must-Haves for a Relaxing Bedroom

    3. Art that you love.

    Art is one thing that is not scarce in our home. Between my boyfriend and I, the walls are all covered in art that we’ve collected over the years. To me, art is something that truly makes a house into a home, and hanging art in your bedroom is no different. Having art that you love on the walls will put you in a better mood and a better state of mind. At the very least, it’ll make you smile. And at most, it’ll relax you and help you sleep easier.

    6 Must-Haves for a Relaxing Bedroom

    4. Essential oils or candles.

    I love having a small oil diffuser in the bedroom because it keeps everything smelling great (especially with my boyfriend’s stinky socks in the closet). I usually run the diffuser during the day, and right before bed I’ll spray a little bit of room freshener (I like the lavender scent from Mrs. Meyers).

    6 Must-Haves for a Relaxing Bedroom

    5. Lighting that suits you and your schedule.

    Light is a huge make-or-break for your sleep schedule. If total darkness helps you sleep, then invest in some blackout curtains. If you prefer to wake up with the sun, then get some breathable translucent curtains. My personal favorite thing to do is to leave the blinds on our windows cracked. This allows me to fall asleep while watching the traffic outside (weird, but soothing to me for some reason), and helps me to naturally rise when the sun comes up.

    6 Must-Haves for a Relaxing Bedroom

    and finally… 6. A good mattress (the most important thing).

    Buying a mattress is a huge expense, I know. It’s something I put off for a long time because I couldn’t justify the cost. But it’s something that we all need. How can you get a good night’s sleep if your back hurts the minute you lay down? True story, btw. My old mattress was a nightmare.

    I recently got this mattress from Yogabed and I have never slept better. Yogabed is a company with over 50+ years of experience making sleep products that are both comfortable and eco-friendly. They ship the mattress directly to your house, and all you have to do is take it out of the box, place it on your bed frame, unroll, and cut the plastic off. Within 5 minutes, my Yogabed was fully fluffed and ready to go. I literally plopped down with my book (Eating Animals, because duh) and read for a bit before I even bothered putting the sheets on!

    6 Must-Haves for a Relaxing Bedroom

    Not only is it crazy comfortable, but my new Yogabed mattress gave me the best night’s sleep I’ve had in years. The Yogabed Mattress has four layers of cooling comfort which cool you down 7x faster than your average mattress (which is much needed in San Diego summers). And above all that, the mattress cover is removable AND machine-washable. How cool is that?

    Thank you to YogaBed for sponsoring this post!
    All opinions are 100% my own. I only work with brands that I trust and use in my real life.
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  • Home LIFE

    5 Best Houseplants for Beginners

    Want to fill your home with plants but don’t know where to start? This is your foolproof guide to the best houseplants for beginners.

    5 Best Houseplants for Beginners

    I’ve recently started my descent into crazy plant lady territory. It started innocently enough, with my mom giving me a bag of succulent clippings to replant at my house. And one by one, we’ve added new plants to the house and good news: they’re all thriving.

    This is beyond exciting to me because I hate to admit this, but I’m terrible at taking care of plants. Animals? Great with them. Humans? Fantastic. But for some reason I just don’t have it in me to grow plants. Until! I got a Bromeliad and two Golden Pothos, and they’re going strong.

    5 Best Houseplants for Beginners
    Shane and Ethan, my little baby Golden Pothos

    Here is my foolproof guide to the best houseplants for beginners. All of these plants listed below require little water, thrive in low light, and (best of all) are almost impossible to kill.

    Golden Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)

    5 Best Houseplants for Beginners
    Image courtesy of Costa Farms, Amazon

    Golden Pothos are one of the most well-known indoor plants for a reason. They thrive off of dry soil and low light, and they’re almost impossible to kill. When they mature, they grow long vines and get beautiful mottled leaves.

    Bromeliad (Bromeliaceae)

    5 Best Houseplants for Beginners
    Image courtesy of Costa Farms, Amazon

    Bromeliads are easy to take care of because they don’t need frequent watering. They love light, but not direct sunlight, so they’ll grow well in any room with a window.

    Succulents

    5 Best Houseplants for Beginners
    Image courtesy of Amazon

    Succulents are known for being one of the easiest plants to take care of because they require so little. They rarely need to be watered, they grow in direct or indirect sunlight, and they’re incredibly hard to kill. Succulents add a nice pop of color or pop of green to any room in the house.

    Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)

    5 Best Houseplants for Beginners
    Image courtesy of Amazon

    Spider plants can grow with frequent or infrequent watering, and they thrive with indirect sunlight. They grow these beautiful long leaves, and best of all, they are air-purifying! This makes spider plants a great choice for a bedroom or office.

    ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)

    5 Best Houseplants for Beginners
    Image courtesy of Costa Farms, Amazon

    ZZ plants make a beautiful addition to any home. They grow quickly and easily with low maintenance and require infrequent watering. They aren’t prone to any pests, and they thrive in shade or indirect lighting.

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  • Animals & Veganism FOOD LIFE Vegan 101

    9 Vegan Chocolate Bars to Fill Your Easter Basket

    9 Vegan Chocolate Bars to Fill Your Easter Basket

    Easter is only a few days away. Which is crazy, because it feels like last week we were saying goodbye to 2018, and now we’re saying goodbye to April. But whether or not you celebrate Easter, it’s a chance to spend time with family, eat some delicious food, and most importantly, eat CHOCOLATE.

    It can be a little tricky to find vegan chocolate bars, especially when you’re in a rush. Ingredient lists can be so hard to navigate, and most brands don’t flat-out say whether or not their products are vegan. So I’ve compiled a list for you of my favorite vegan chocolate bars to stock up on for Easter. And the best part? Most of these chocolate bars can be ordered on Amazon, which means you’ll get them just in time for Easter 🙂

    Note: some of these chocolate bars are made in the same facility as milk chocolate bars, so if you have an allergy, make sure to double check the websites.

    Justin’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

    Justin’s is one of my favorite companies of all time. Not only are their almond butters out-of-this-world delicious, but they are also the nicest company I’ve ever talked to. Their dark chocolate peanut butter cups are one of my top 5 favorite snacks, for sure.

    Endangered Species Chocolate Bars

    Endangered Species holds a special place in my heart. First and foremost, my boyfriend gets me one of their dark chocolate bars on almost every holiday. But more importantly, Endangered believes in giving back. 10% of their profits go towards different charities and organizations that help with conservation.
    If you like dark chocolate, you’ll love their chocolate bars. Try the Salted Peanuts + Dark Chocolate bar or the Raspberries + Dark Chocolate bar. The 88% Dark Chocolate bar is crazy good too!

    Trader Joe’s Chocolate Bars

    Trader Joe’s, aka My Personal Heaven on Earth, has so many options for vegan chocolate. Not only are their chocolate chips accidentally vegan, but the Pound Plus Dark Chocolate and 72% Dark Chocolate bars are too. They also have a constantly-changing variety of smaller chocolate bars, but not all of them are vegan so be sure to check the ingredients list.

    Alter Eco Dark Chocolate Bars

    Alter Eco is another chocolate company that I love. My favorites are the Quinoa Crunch bar and the Salted Almonds bar. They even have a vegan variety pack of chocolate bars that you can order through their website!

    Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Bars

    Enjoy Life makes some of the best chocolate chips out there, but did you know they also have chocolate bars? And they’re delicious.

    Lindt Dark Chocolate Bars

    Lindt has a few dark chocolate bars that are suitable for vegans. The 70% Dark Chocolate Bar and the 85% Dark Chocolate Bar are both 100% vegan and 100% delicious.

    No Whey! Choco No No’s

    No Whey has a ton of vegan options: milk chocolate bunnies, cream eggs, truffles, brownies, and bars. But my personal favorite are the Choco No No’s: a 100% vegan version of M&M’s.

    Go Max Go Vegan-ized Candy Bars

    I was never really a candy bar type of person. Of course I ate them every once in a while, but it was never my snack of choice. But something about going vegan has me craving a candy bar every once in a while! In steps Go Max Go to make all my vegan candy bar dreams come true. They offer all the classics (Twix, Milky Way, 3 Musketeers, etc.) in a delicious, personal-sized vegan candy bar. The Twilight Bar (aka Milky Way) is my favorite!

    Chocolove

    Chocolove is a company making chocolate bars in some crazy delicious flavors. Coffee crunch? Pretzels? Grapefruit? Sign me up.
    For a delicious vegan option, try the Orange Peel in Dark Chocolate Bar or the Raspberries in Dark Chocolate bar.

    Looking for some homemade chocolate recipes?

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