The craziest 3 months of my life

Instead of flooding your inboxes with a bunch of smaller posts about what’s been happening in our lives, I’ve decided that a Top Ten List would be much easier to handle. This is going to be somewhat lengthy so you’ve been forewarned!

So here we go! This is in order of how each event happened:

10. My Sister in Law’s wedding

SIL's Wedding

Theres a lot that went on over the three day event (like my brother in law stealing the hotel security’s walkie talkie’s or the groom being so intoxicated he had to be escorted back to his brides suite) but the height of it had to be when a crazy French Canadian guest (the groom is from Nova Scotia) decided at 3 am to take a dip in the duck pond (yes you are reading that correctly).

Duck Pond

He donned the appropriate attire (a purple speedo) and did his best Tarzan impersonation as he swung on a willow branch into 6 inches of muck and duck filth. Not happy with the existing fountains at Cherry Valley Lodge, he decided to recreate one in his image. We all watched in horror as he gulped the pond water and squirted it in a graceful stream above his head. A video of this little excursion does exist…. but I think I’d buy myself a one way ticket to hell if I posted it.

9. We took a trip to Georgia

Brent and I weren’t entirely sure that Florida was where we wanted to be. Our highest concentration of clients happens to be in the South, two being in Georgia including one of our biggest client’s. So we took a trip to meet them!

8. Meeting Rhonda and Frank Duffy

By far the highlight of the Georgia trip was spending an evening with these two. Both are exceptionally gracious hosts and their home (which has been featured several times in Southern Living Magazine) was unbelievable. Over the past few months Rhonda has moved from being a client to something more. Shes been there for us as we’ve navigated some of the biggest decisions we’ve had to make. Her husband Frank is the single funniest guy I have ever met. Rhonda is the most driven, kookiest and honest person I have ever encountered and I feel privileged to call her a friend. Rhonda… this does not mean I’m ever going to let you anywhere near my silverware though!

7. The Business

The economy has really taken a beating in the past year but our business has been in a strange little bubble. We’ve had our best year to date and we have never been more busy than we are now. We are truly blessed because of this, as we know this is not what a lot of people in this country are experiencing.

6. I resigned

Brent and I have been married for 3 and 1/2 years now. Just about every three months or so during that time I have flown back to Jamaica to work. It finally caught up to us and I decided to be up here in a more permanent capacity.

5. Cleopatra passed away.


Cleo was diagnosed about a month and 1/2 ago with a condition called Megaesophagus. She went downhill very fast but we were able to make her comfortable in her last moments. I miss her every single day and I believe she is finally at peace tormenting rabbits in that big dog park in the sky. Losing her felt like losing a limb.

4. Grandma

One of my grandmothers had to have emergency surgery to remove a kidney! This was extremely stressful for me as I lost both grandfathers at the beginning of the year and was still grieving them. However, she came out of the surgery just fine and has recovered to near perfection!

3. We’re finally moving!

We finally chose a state and a city (Windermere, Florida!!!!) On December 17th a moving truck will be parked out front our place ready to be filled! This has been such a long time coming and I am so excited to get out of this state. The house is 95% packed and while it’s been stressful having our lives in boxes the past few weeks wouldn’t trade it for anything!

2. We bought a house!!!!!

We close on our first house together on the 15th of December. I cannot believe we are going to be homeowners. The house truly deserves its own post but here is a quick shot of the front of it:

Front of the house

and last but not least………………. the number one craziest thing is………………………………………………………. …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

1. I’M PREGNANT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

No turning back now

I’ll be 6 weeks tomorrow. New state, new house and new life. I have never been more excited in all my life.

Top 10… reasons to exercise!

I started a new workout routine that is kicking my butt all over the place. It involves running around the neighborhood and up flights of stairs, among other things. And even though I hate it every day, I come back for more like the masochist I am.

When I first went raw, I paid little attention to exercise. All my focus went to food. Reading about it. Making it. Conning Brent into eating it. And to be honest I think that was a major part of my downfall last year.

No diet will give you 100% health, 100% of the time. More than what you eat is how you live. The lifestyle that you have. A million juice fasts will not serve you best if you are puffing away on packs of cigarettes every day. And a dozen colonics every month will be like putting a band aide on a dam if you eat fast food morning noon and night.

I started this new workout stuff only a couple of weeks ago. Already I have seen improvement in my muscle tone. But thats just the superficial aspect of working out (which I FULLY subscribe to by the way… I see nothing wrong with a little vanity). This morning as I was killing myself on the stairs I came up with my Top Ten Reasons to Exercise list. I know I know… you already know exercise is good for you right? Well did you know that more than 60% of Americans don’t exercise AT ALL??!! Yep… you read that right… thats more than half of all Americans. And more than 72 million are obese! It seems to me there is a major disconnect in what we know to be true and what we do about it. You probably already know that exercise reduces your likelihood for diabetes, heart disease, and a bunch of other stuff so I tried to refrain from rattling off a list of diseases and come up with some other benefits:

10. Sleep better

This is one of the benefits you don’t have to wait for. I was sleeping better the very first night. We spend a third of our life sleeping! Might as well be getting the most out of it! Interested in proof? Here ya go!

9. Reduces stress

There are tons of studies out there that suggest this… but we still don’t know WHY exercise reduces stress. Neuroscientists at Northwestern University are working on answering that very question. You can read more about it here!

8. Improves digestion

Exercising increases blood flow to your digestive tract and stimulates intestinal action. Constipated? Other treatments not working? Try taking a yoga class!

7. Me time

Working out allows me to clear my head and start my day on a positive note. Its time to myself everyday where I get to obsessively make lists of things I need to do without driving Brent crazy.

6. Cleansing effects

Some days I come home from working out looking like I got caught in the path of Hurricane Ivan. All that sweating is releasing toxins which has an overall cleansing effect on the body.

5. Better mood

You can read about the correlation between exercise and depression here!

4. Better mind

Improved memory, concentration and cognitive abilities. Studies suggest that exercise boosts brain cell survival due to the increased blood circulation, oxygen and glucose to the brain. If you have a history of Alzheimer’s in your family you have more of a reason to step up the workout routine.

3. Fun

As I mentioned above, I am a bit of a masochist. I dig the monotony of running up and down stairs. You, however, might not. But there are a million different ways to sneak in exercise throughout your day that are much more fun than my routine. You can take a martial arts class, sign up for ballroom dancing (and drag your partner with you), try adult gymnastics (to connect with your inner child), go to the park, join a local softball/baseball league, ride a bike etc. Not only will you be lengthening your life you will also be getting out of the house and away from the TV!

2. Sex (sorry dad!)

Luckily for me I don’t have to embarrass my father further than this as WebMD put out a great handy little video all about it: CLICK

1. Quality of life and self confidence

This is the clincher for me. Everyone has those days where their self esteem takes a nose dive. I have noticed a major difference in how I look at life and handle conflict and negative situations since I started exercising. That alone is enough to keep me going back for more (well that and the sex).

Top Ten….. uses for Aloe


Its been called the “plant of immortality” and the “wand of heaven.” Its been used for hundreds of years to heal and cure. But to a lot of people it is little more than a spiny weed. Science is really only now starting to understand the capabilities of this unassuming plant. They are now catching on to what the rest of us have known for years. Despite it’s cactus like appearance, aloe vera is actually a member of the lilly family. There are well over 200 varieties of aloe yet only a handful are recognized as having any sort of nutritional value. Just one leaf might contain almost 200 compounds including; 20 minerals, 18 amino acids and 12 vitamins!

Below is my list of the top ten uses for aloe vera.

10. Burn care

From minor sunburns to more serious chemical burns, this is probably what aloe is most used and known for. While it has been used in this regard for hundreds and hundreds of years, I was really quite surprised to find very little studies have been conducted on this plant with regard to burn care. There have been quite a few in Asia, including one where the healing time of patients with thermal burns was almost 9 days shorter than the control group not using aloe!

9. Constipation

There are three components to an aloe plant; the leaf (which is usually spiny and somewhat rubbery to the tough, the thick clear gel and a sticky bitter liquid (usually yellow or red) that coats the gel on the inside of the leaf.

This substance, commonly known as aloe latex, contains the anthraquinone glycosides aloin A and B, which are potent laxatives making it a good choice for those that suffer from constipation. Dried latex capsules can be found at most health stores or pharmacies over the counter. You can also use the gel straight from the plant blended with fruit juice.

8. Weight Management

Because aloe creates a strong cathartic response, aloe has been used for many years as a weight loss aid. Scientists are only now though beginning to study the effects of aloe in lowering cholesterol. Studies have found that aloe can significantly reduce cholesterol and triglycerides in patients!

7. Ulcerative Colitis

There is promising (albeit limited) research that suggests aloe vera (taken orally) can be effective in relieving symptoms of this disorder.*

A double-blind, randomized trial examined the effectiveness and safety of aloe vera gel for the treatment of mild-to-moderate active ulcerative colitis. Researchers gave 30 patients 100 milliliters of oral aloe vera gel and 14 patients 100 milliliters of a placebo twice daily for 4 weeks.

Clinical remission, improvement and response occurred in nine (30 percent), 11 (37 percent) and 14 (47 percent) respectively, of aloe vera patients compared with one (7 percent), one (7 percent) and two (14 percent), respectively of patients taking the placebo. It appeared to be safe.

Science suggests aloe is an acceptable aid in treating Ulcerative Colitis because it is anti inflammatory, contains wound healing properties, anti bacterial and analgesic.


6. Skin issues (such as acne and psoriasis)

A 1996 study published in Tropical Medicine and International Health found that after 16 weeks, a cream with aloe vera extract (30%) significantly helped to clear psoriasis in 25 of 30 patients, compared with 2 of 30 patients who were given a placebo.

Some of the reasons why aloe is so effective in aiding acne and other skin disorders are;

  • Aloe aids in the absorption of other ingredients into the skin. Lignin is a component of aloe that actually helps other ingredients of topical creams or gels, penetrate into the skin. Using aloe vera in combination with other active ingredients would help to accelerate the absorption of those ingredients into the skin, killing the acne bacteria.
  • Aloe is antiseptic. 3% of Aloe Vera gel is composed of saponins which are soapy substances that cleanse and have antiseptic properties. They also act effectively as anti-microbials against bacteria, viruses, fungi and yeast.
  • Aloe is anti-inflammatory. Aloe vera contains salicylic acid that has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. This makes it very useful against acne and is a common ingredient in topical acne creams.
  • Aloe vera has enzymes. Enzymes like Bradykinase, help to reduce excessive inflammation and consequently reduce pain. Other enzymes help digest any dead tissues in wounds.

Aloe also contains substances called polysaccharides which stimulate skin growth and repair (which is one of the main reasons why it is so effective on scars.)

5. Diabetes

A study reported in Hormone Research found that when given 1/2 a teaspoon daily for up to 14 weeks, adults with non insulin dependent diabetes had their blood sugar levels lowered by 45%!! Among its many ingredients (such as enzymes, amino acids and various minerals), aloe contains a sugar called glucomannan.

A long-chain sugar molecule composed of glucose and mannose, glucomannan is thought to have anti-inflammatory and antiviral actions in humans. Researchers suspect the compound interferes with virus replication and/or alters a process involved in the development of infection. Researchers at Tokyo Women’s Medical College have shown that certain proteins in aloe gel may stimulate the production of killer cells, which are naturally occurring white blood cells that defend against bacteria and other immune system threats.

Mannose opens blood vessels and generally aids blood flow while glucomannan promotes healthy levels of
blood triglycerides.**

4. Digestive Disorders (such as ulcers, heartburn etc)

The juice of an aloe plant can be very effective in soothing irritations of the esophagus and is generally effective for relieving acid reflux. Aloe has a long history of use in this specific regard in Europe.

If you suffer from heart burn or ulcers, you can try taking a 1/4 to 1/2 cup aloe juice (which you can either make yourself or find in most health food stores) about 20 minutes before each meal.

3. Dandruff

A lot of the shampoos and treatments on the market for dandruff sufferers contain harsh chemicals and can further irritate the scalp. This leads people to ask “is the cure worse than the disease?” Early studies into aloe’s effect on dandruff*** (or seborrheic dermatitis) have proved quite promising.

The gel part of the plant can be used as a pre-treatment before shampooing. Simply massage aloe into scalp and leave on for 10 to 15 minutes before using shampoo and styling as usual. This can be done as often as you wash your hair.

2. Yeast Infection

While there are a number of natural methods for healing yeast infections, including garlic (which I have personally used) and yogurt (not vegan though), aloe’s anti-inflammatory and antipruritic qualities can greatly ease the symptoms of a yeast infection, while at the same time it’s, bactericidal and fungicidal properties can actually heal it.

There are two ways to use aloe in this regard:

  1. Use the juice as a type of douche once or twice a day.
  2. Cut a sliver of the “gel” from the leaf and insert it vaginally.


And finally….

1. Oral Health

Most people are not aware that aloe can do a number of things to help with periodontal issues. There have been numerous cases of people who have used pure aloe gel in their mouths to actually regenerate receding gums!

There are eight main uses of aloe vera in dental practice:

1. Applications directly to the the sites of periodontal surgery.

2. Applications to the gum tissues when they have been traumatized or scratched by toothbrush-dentifrice abrasion, sharp foods, dental floss, and toothpick injuries.

3. Chemical burns are relieved quickly from accidents with aspirin.

4. Extraction sites respond more comfortably and dry sockets do not develop when aloe vera is applied.

5. Acute mouth lesions are improved by direct application on herpetic viral lesions, aphthous ulcers, canker sores, and cracks occurring at the corners of our lips. Gum abscesses are soothed by the applications as well.

6. Other oral diseases chronic in nature respond with Lichen Planus and Benign Pemphigus. Even gum problems associated with AIDS and Leukemia patients receive relief. Migratory glossitis, geographic tongue and Burning Mouth Syndrome are improved.

7. Denture patients with sore ridges and ill-fitting dentures and partials can benefit as fungises and bacterial contamination reduce the inflammatory irritations.

8. Aloe vera can also be used around dental implants to control inflammation from bacteria contamination.

Studies cited:
* Langmead L, Feakins RM, Goldthorpe S, et al. Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of oral aloe vera gel for active ulcerative colitis. Aliment.Pharmacol.Ther. 4-1-2004;19(7):739-747.
** Glucomannan minimizes the postprandial insulin surge: a potential adjuvant for hepatothermic therapy. Medical Hypotheses , Volume 58 , Issue 6 , Pages 487 - 490 M . McCarty
*** Vardy AD, Cohen AD, Tchetov T. A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of Aloe vera (A. barbadensis) emulsion in the treatment of seborrheic dermatitis. J Derm Treatment 1999;10(1):7-11.

Top Ten….. uses for Coconut Oil!

10. Leave-in conditioner

Shampoos and soaps have a tendency to strip the natural oils in our hair and skin. Because coconut oil absorbs so well it replaces what harsh hair products remove without making your hair greasy.

So theres a few ways you can do this. You can add 1 to 2 tablespoons of the oil to your regular conditioner, leave on for a few minutes and rinses well. Or you can use it as a pre-shampoo treatment, evenly distributing it throughout the hair and then shampoo and condition as usual. If your hair normally looks like an oil slick just avoid putting the oil near your scalp. Remember that a little goes a loooooonnng way.

9. Anti-dandruff treatment

Coconut oil contains anti-septic fatty acids that help to prevent to a certain extent fungal and bacterial infections. A small amount of oil can be used as a pre-wash conditioner and can be a much more gentle alternative to harsh medicated shampoos.

8. Lice killer

Gross I know but lice are a fact of life… particularly if you have young children of school age. Coconut oil has been used for ages to treat infestations of lice. Its anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial.

  • Permeate the hair from root to tips with about 5 mls of melted coconut oil before bed.
  • Place a towel on the pillow (as the oil will suffocate the live nits and the eggs by the time you wake up
  • Shampoo hair thoroughly in the morning

Follow up treatments can be done every two to three days. For a maximum of three weeks (as the nit incubation cycle is about 17 days.)

You can read more about the anti-microbial aspects of coconut oil HERE.

7. Weight loss aid

Numerous studies have been conducted on coconut oil and weight management. It has been found to reduce appetite and aid in digestion.

6. After sun treatment

Sunburns are the easiest way to ruin a vacation. Along with the short term pain and discomfort far more troubling are some of the lasting damage they can have on your skin. Ideally, you should limit your exposure (particularly between the peak periods of 10am and 3pm) however this is not always possible. Packing coconut oil along with aloe vera gel is a solid preemptive move. Along with gently soothing the burn, coconut oil can help to prevent the formation of damaging free radicals and assist in the healing process.

5. Bio diesel

I could write a whole entry on just this alone but I’ll refrain. This article is a solid start if you want to know more!

4. Eye makeup remover

Don’t take my word for it… watch this video!

3. Shaving cream

This one I can personally attest to. It sounds a bit strange and you do have to remember to rinse your tub down but if you have sensitive skin and are prone to ingrown hairs give this tip a try.

2. Toothpaste

I have super sensitive teeth… I once tried one of those god awful whitening stripes and was in agony for a week afterward. One of the things that became very apparent when I had been on the raw food diet for a few months was how much more in tune my senses became… particularly my sense of smell. Chemicals affect me more now than ever so the less I use them the better and this includes toothpaste.

You can make your own toothpaste by combining equal parts of coconut oil, bicarbonate of soda and water (you can adjust the amount of water till you achieve your desired consistency) in a small container.

*drum roll*

1. Lubricant

Brent and I selflessly placed ourselves into the role of guinea pigs and are pleased to report that this one works very well. Its a dirty job but someone has to do it…….

Coconut oil

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