Health and Wellness

REI Inspires Change and Balance this Holiday Season

On Wednesday October 28th, national outdoor and sporting goods store, REI, announced that they would go against the grain this upcoming Black Friday by closing its stores across the country. Instead of opening early with major door busting sales like most retail stores do on Black Friday these days, they are encouraging Americans to #OptOutside on this day which normally marks the beginning of the crazed-holiday-shopping season. They are promoting friends and family to stay out of the stores and instead be outdoors; or at least spending more time with family and friends instead of mowing strangers down with shopping carts for the chance to save $20 on low-quality clothing and toys that have been imported from China for our consumerist enjoyment.

When I heard this news, I literally exclaimed aloud in triumph. A move like this from a major and well respected company is long overdue. In this past decade, I have been consistently saddened by the greedy fiasco that Black Friday has become in this country. First of all, the concept of Black Friday is twisted and morphed to begin with: immediately after we express our gratitude for the blessings in our lives on Thanksgiving, we rush out to the stores to buy and consume more and more goods, most of it that we don’t need, and are willing to be rude and even violent to others in order to do it? I mean, really people? There have been “Black Friday Deaths” where shoppers have been trampled by other shoppers in their rush to find their savings; there was even a shooting at a TOYS R’ US one year when two shoppers were fighting over the last toy that was apparently a hot commodity that year. Are you kidding me? This is the country and culture we’ve become?

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Review: Be the Miracle – 50 Lessons for Making the Impossible Possible

Want a great, inspiring read? Be the Miracle – 50 Lessons for Marking the Impossible Possible by Regina Brett is for you! I don’t remember how a copy of this book came into my possession, but it has sat on my bookshelf for years and I finally decided to pick it up one day to give its pages a good honest try; I was floored. I cannot accurately describe how much I enjoyed the book and how insightful I found it to be.

This non-ficition book is divided into 50 chapters which comprise the 50 lessons referenced in the book’s title. What’s really great, besides the fact that you get to read 50 life lessons, is that each lesson is a decently short 3-5 pages which makes this book an easy read during the week; pick it up and read 1 or 2 lessons in your only free 20 minutes before bed and then put it down to continue the next day. These lessons vary widely and are based on Brett’s own experiences and stories that she has heard from other people’s lives.

This book is real and honest, it is incredibly deep and moving while at times also exceedingly humorous; it is a book that I would venture to say will enrich your life. If you read my last review of a health/lifestyle/spiritual based book, you will know that I keep my own book in which I write down quotes that I find to be particularly wise; I took almost 50 quotes from Be the Miracle – 50 Lessons for Marking the impossible Possible because I found so much meaning in the lessons that comprise this book! So, read it!

Johnny Goes to Paris!

Hello, or I guess I should start saying, Bonjour!, because I am headed to Paris today! I will be exploring the city of lights over the next week as it has always been a top destination of mine. And bonus! I am even taking a quick side trip to Munich, Germany to meet some friends at THE Oktoberfest! Lots of adventures ahead!

Travel is something I am incredibly passionate about. In fact, I find myself dreaming all day at my desk at work about the different places I want to see in the world; there are just too many! I’ve reached a point in my life where I have decided to stop waiting for the right time to travel. I am only young and single once so I have decided to make the time and just go for it as much as I possibly can.

Last year, I went all over Italy, and it was literally the greatest time I have ever had in my 24 years of life. I went by myself, but hopped onto a great tour titled “Simply Italy” through Contiki Holidays, and it was there that I made a host of new friends and lifelong memories. Check out my guest blogs for Contiki here:

As I travel to Paris now, I travel alone once more. This time, there is no tour to hop on. I think there is much to be said about traveling alone; you are forced to be by yourself and figure out what the venture throws at you on your own, while at the same time you are also free to meet new people and quite possibly even new friends.

I am simply going to wander and see what this historic and iconic city that is Paris has for me. I honestly couldn’t be more excited. I feel so free and invigorated to be embarking on this journey.

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram: @johnnylapasta I can guarantee you that you will see many, many snap shots of my trip! You can also keep up with me by searching the hashtag #johnnynparis which I will be using to tag all of my photos.

I am sure I will have lots to blog about upon my return to the States! But for now, au revior!

Being Whole On Your Own

The world of relationships and love is a strange and confusing one; this we all know to be true. I myself have not had an exuberant amount of luck in this area. While I have dated and have had girlfriends, I have not been so lucky as many of my friends who have found young love that would appear to be the kind that will last. Even though my time in the relationship and dating world has not been extensive and I have spent most of my early 20’s single, I feel I have made some important observations about relationships based on the ones I have seen and paid attention to as well as my own relationships. I believe that I have found a common theme in my relationship studies that can make or break a couple – whether or not the two beings involved in the relationship are whole and complete on their own.

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New Remedy for Cooking Burns? I think Yes.

So the other night, I placed some cooked quinoa that I prepped earlier in the week into a glass bowl to reheat in the oven. After all the components of my meal were done cooking or reheating, I pulled everything out of the oven and began to plate. During the plating process, I absent mindedly grabbed the glass bowl that I reheated the quinoa in without remembering that it had just been in a 400 degree oven and BURNT THE CAPITAL F out of my thumb on my left hand which had the most contact with the bowl.

I immediately ran my hand under cold water for a good minute, as you are supposed to do, but the burn was already bubbling and blistering. As soon as I pulled my hand out from under the cold water, I experienced agonizing pain as air hit the burn; I think the only way to describe what it felt like would be HELLFIRE.

I couldn’t believe how stupid I had been; I knew that the bowl had just been in the oven, how could I forget and pick it up like that!? I cursed myself as I felt like I had just ruined the upcoming weekend ahead; I’ve had burns like this in the past and they can be all consuming for days on end, depriving you of sleep and stripping you of enjoyment of anything as you are solely focused on the pain.

HOWEVER, there are home remedies to help with cooking burns that can help to minimize the aftermath, and I sought to combine two of them; and I think I’ve discovered something. I proceeded to fill a large bowl with cold water and then mix a cup of Extra Virgin Coconut Oil into the water; I then soaked my hand in this concoction for the next two and a half hours. Here is what happened:

The cold water soothed the burn and allowed my skin to prune which counterbalanced the stretching of the skin that happens on burn blisters. The coconut oil, seemed to seep into my skin, into the burn, and further sooth and also start the healing process.

Coconut Oil, in my opinion, is a magical substance. When it comes to skin, coconut oil is rich in Vitamin E which has skin healing properties. I use coconut oil on sunburns and it prevents discomfort, itching, and peeling. With this more severe burn, my thumb seemed to become super saturated with the water-coconut oil mix and kick the healing process into high gear! I couldn’t believe how much relief I was experiencing at such a quick pace!

By bedtime, I could barely feel the burn anymore. I lathered it with more coconut oil and wrapped it in a damp wash cloth, and that is how I slept. When I woke up, the burn was much more mild and the pain minimal. Once I wrapped it in gauze for the day, it never bothered me in the slightest. Today, it is still wrapped in gauze, but it seems like it is almost completely healed.

And so, I am thinking that if you can super saturate a cooking burn with a mix of water and coconut oil, it will act as a remedy to provide relief and quicken the healing the process! I felt compelled to share this because cooking burns are terrible and when they happen we all need ways to cope, maybe this one will work for you! So next time you are unfortunate enough to obtain a burn, give this a shot and let me know how it goes!

What are your home remedies for burns? Tell me in the comments!

Disclaimer: I am not a medical or health professional. My comments are based on my speculations and experiences. 

More Herbs, Less Salt Day

August 29th is unofficially celebrated as More Herbs, Less Salt Day. There are lots of “Food Holidays”, but I am particularly fond of the one’s that promote healthier living, like today! So what is More Herbs, Less Salt Day all about? It’s quite simple: it’s a day dedicated to raising awareness around the simple healthy swap of using more herbs to flavor your meals rather than salt.

In many countries, and especially America, people rely on obscene amounts of salt to flavor their meals. Salty fries, salty chips, salty meat, and even salty vegetables; it’s no wonder so many people have struggles with their sodium levels. Now don’t get me wrong, I love salt and good sea salt is a staple ingredient in my kitchen; but I know to add just enough to give the food a salty hint without stopping the blood in my arteries. Instead, I infuse flavor into my food through herbs and spices.

By including more herbs, fresh or dried, in our meals we are able to add even more flavor to our food, and get some health benefits along the way. Fresh herbs in particular all have really great health benefits. For example, fresh basil is packed with vitamin K and has anti-bacterial properties. Fresh parsley is rich in almost all of your essential vitamins, helps to detox the body, and strengthen the immune system. So each time you add fresh herbs to your meal, you’re benefiting your body and overall health! And bonus, you’re adding little to no calories to your food in exchange for tons of flavor! Who’s winning? You are!

See if you can start incorporating more herbs into your meals rather than salt and rejoice in the great flavors you will experience and the sense wellness you will experience afterwards!

What are some of your favorite herbs to use in your food? Tell me in the comments below!

You need to read “A Short Guide to a Happy Life”!

I’ve been trying to read Lord of the Rings, but good God is it a struggle; love the films, love everything to do with Middle Earth, but that book is a rough read! This past Sunday, I was looking to relax and read by the pool in my complex, and LOTR was not just not appealing at the time. Instead, I picked a tiny book off of my bookshelf that I had received in my stocking from “Santa” one Christmas but had never taken the time to read. The book was A Short Guide to a Happy Life by Anna Quindlen, at it touched me deeply.

Only 50 pages long (but filled with artsy black and white images on almost every other page so really it’s like 30 pages), this is a quick read with many valuable insights. Author Anna Quindlen admits, “I’m not particularly qualified by profession or education to give advice and counsel.” And there’s something charming about that; a normal person sharing the the practices and concepts that have made their own life happy and fulfilling.

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