SLIDER

Using an Acupressure Mat & Pillow for Stress, Tension, & Pain Relief

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Sometimes I casually lie down on a bed of needles to release tight muscles & relieve stress. What the hell am I babbling about?

This magical invention is called an acupressure mat & pillow. It only costs $20. It's spectacular! You can buy it from Amazon & you totally need one in your life. Keep reading to find out all about what it does, how to use it, & where to buy one.


At its core, an acupressure mat is a self-applied acupuncture device. You can lay on it, roll on it, sit on it, stand on it, stretch on it. I've been using the acupressure mat for over a year, so I developed an understanding of how to use it & how it benefits me. I use it frequently, especially when my back acts up.



* Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links.

I first heard about the acupressure mat from Lauryn Evarts of The Skinny Confidential. It intrigued me with its intimidating, spiky look, so I searched for it on Amazon right away. As you know, I love Amazon, especially for practical blog props to elevate my flatlays & photography. Once I found out the set only costs $19.99 I bought it right then & there. Bing bang boom! 

I chose the grey acupressure mat & pillow set. Chic. Timeless. It goes with the grey rug I bought from Target. But the mat comes in a delightful range of colors like black, blue, green, pink, purple, & orange. Which color would you pick?



What are the benefits of an acupressure mat?

I roll out my mat, lie down on it, then roll gently side to side to help release tension in my upper back. Essentially, you relax on this “bed of needles” to massage various pressure points on your body.  The little spikes can potentially help you self-massage, relieve stress, tension, or pain. It might even help you fall asleep. 

It helps relieve pain in my right shoulder blade from an injury I got in college. It relaxes my muscles in a way nothing else has (other than the equipment my physical therapist used during my semester of rehabilitation. The acupressure mat & pillow set turned out to be one of my favorite Amazon purchases of all time. So worth it. Use it again & again for only $19.99.

On average, I use my mat once per week but you could easily utilize it more frequently, if not every day. That said, mine is well preserved with no stains or anything. The mat & pillow both have removable covers. Spot wash & you're ready to go.

ProSource acupressure mat and pillow set

I bought my mat on Amazon from a brand called ProSource. Made from 100% thick cotton & plant-based eco-foam, the ProSource acupressure mat has 6,210 acupressure points & the neck pillow has 1,782 acupressure points. That's a lot of spikes!!

When shoulder acts a fool, I bust out the acupressure mat because of its benefits relieve some tension. It truly makes the area feel better, relaxed, relieved. Buy an acupressure mat & pillow set only $19.99. Grab one for a friend; it makes a great gift!!

* Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you click &/or make a purchase through certain links on this site or my social media platforms, I may make a commission from that click &/or purchase. It's at no additional cost to you. Learn more about my disclosure. :]

Let's Talk About Sexual Health: HPV, Pap Smears, Home HPV Screening Tests, & Cervical Cancer

Friday, January 25, 2019

This post is sponsored by Nurx, but the content & opinions expressed here are my own.

Let's talk about sexual health! January is Cervical Health Awareness Month. Do you know the status of your cervix? How often do you think about Human Papillomavirus (HPV), pap smears, home HPV screening tests, or cervical cancer? Sexual health is often regarded as a private, taboo topic. But not here, not today. We're all friends here; it's incredibly important to chat with each other so we can learn & be our best selves. Let's talk!


About Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

HPV, or Human Papillomavirus, is the most commonly transmitted sexually transmitted infection. Did you know 79 million Americans are currently infected with HPV? Each year 14 million people are newly infected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Get Pap Smears Every 3 Years

Whether you're 25 or in your 30s, it's important to schedule a pap smear every three years. As an almost 29-year-old, I am due for a pap smear this year! My last one was right before my 26th birthday while I was still under my parents' insurance. I did everything under the sun since it was covered — blood work, dental cleaning, dental x-ray, pap smear, physical, eye exam. It gave me such peace of mind. It's almost been three years for me so I'm scheduling a pap smear!

What is Nurx?

Nurx allows people to take charge of their health by giving them access to affordable, convenient, quick health care options. If you don't live near a medical clinic, if you can't afford health care, or if you don't have health insurance, Nurx focuses on reaching women who lack traditional healthcare services.


What is the Nurx Home HPV Screening Test?

Okay, so Nurx’s home HPV test allows you to check your risk for cervical cancer from the convenience of your own home. The test kit checks for 14 strains of HPV that have a higher risk of leading to cervical cancer. It's the same quality as a pap smear, but it allows you to check your risk for cervical cancer between doctor's visits. Like I said, it's been three years since my pap smear & I'm due for one within the next few months. Taking the Nurx Home HPV Screening Test gives me peace of mind until I see a doctor. I don't have to lay awake at night worrying about my cervix. Just remember: this is preventative care, not treatment. The doesn't replace your doctor nor does it diagnose cervical cancer.

How the HPV Home Kit Works

1. Download the Nurx app to your phone or visit Nurx.com.
2. You'll be prompted to answer a handful of questions about your health.
3. Then bing, bang, boom! Nurx ships the kit straight to your door.
4. Follow the kit instructions, send your sample, wait for results.

The kit itself includes an extra long cotton swab, a plastic tube, a plastic bag, a sticker with a barcode, & a prepaid return envelope. Swab the wall of your vagina, inserting it just like you would with a tampon. Then drop the swab in the tube. Put the tube in the bag. Place the bag in the pre-paid envelope. Then simply drop it in the mail & wait a few days for the results from the Nurx medical team.

If your results are negative, it means your risk for cervical cancer is low & you don't need additional testing for another three years. If your results are positive, it doesn't necessarily mean you have cervical cancer. You can work closely with the medical team to help figure out the next steps.


How do you feel about your sexual health? Rather than worry, address your health head-on. Get tested & take it from there. Screening yourself is preventative care, not a treatment. Make sure you're still seeing your doctor because the rest of your body needs care too. The Nurx Home HPV Screening Test is a convenient, affordable option to check your risk for cervical cancer. Try the kit yourself by downloading the iOS mobile app! Check out the Nurx website to learn more.

So tell me: how often do you get a pap smear? Are you taking time to take care of yourself? 

* Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Nurx. As always, all opinions are 100% mine aka Carmen's. Learn more about my disclosure. :]

The True Story About Sourdough Bread Bowls

Monday, January 21, 2019

Rainy California days always remind me of when I worked at Panera Bread for three years in college. People would flock to buy the sourdough bread bowls at Panera anytime it was raining, which meant we ran out pretty fast. If management knew it was going to rain they'd make like five times as many bread bowls. 

But life doesn't always go according to the books. Sometimes rain comes out of nowhere & sometimes the swarm of people was just that intense in numbers.

And it was indeed intense.

So...like I said, I'm working at Panera. It's a rainy day. We sold out of bread bowls about an hour ago. I already turned down dozens of customers. My fellow coworkers at the cash registers turned customers down dozens of customers.

"No more bread bowls today. I'm sorry."
"We're out of bread bowls."
"No. We don't have bread bowls. We ran out."
"I apologize. We don't have any more bread bowls today."

There was one lady who came in. She asked for soup in a sourdough bread bowl. I told her "I'm sorry we're out of bread bowls."

Most people leave it at that, or make a funny (or sad) comment about how they were really looking forward to it.

But this woman...she was angry.

She demanded to know why we didn't have sourdough bread bowls. Where were they?

I told her that a rush of people came in when it started raining & a lot of them ordered the bread bowl. We'd run out. I'm sorry.

She started yelling at me & demanded to see a manager, who reiterated that there were no bread bowls. She actually wrote a letter complaining about me & how I'd ran out of bread bowls & ruined her day. In fact, she was so furious with me that my manager had to pull up the camera & look at our interaction on the security camera to investigate if I somehow provoked her or if she really went off because we simply didn't have bread bowls.

Basically, the moral of the story is don’t mess with bread bowls people will kill for them or report you. Bread bowls are pure edible bliss. The people have spoken. Stay safe y'all & remember to say "thanks" to your food/retail associates because people are extra on edge when it rains.

Have you tried the sourdough bread bowls at Panera. Do you have any strange food service stories? Tell me tell me tell me! Leave a comment.




hello to you

How I Help People as a Blog Coach & Consultant

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

A blog consultant & blog coach offers feedback, guidance, & direction.

Ultimately, it's your blog & brand. You are free to call all the shots, execute any changes, & implement any strategies. As a professional blogging coach, I give you professional advice & guidance based on over 7 years of agency, corporate, & solo experience. 

My client Nicole says, "[Carmen] gave me guidance and direction that I never expected! I had to be myself - otherwise, she could not help me the way I needed. She was like an anchor while I was floundering around. She kept me grounded and on track."




A blog coach helps you prioritize your business & blog goals.

I work one on one with people to get them closer to their goals. I am a blog coach & consultant, which means the client is 100% in charge of their destiny. I sit back, look at the data, & allow the client to see their goals clearly. What do they want to achieve? How do they measure success? What needs to get done?

"Carmen helped me prioritize my goals for my blog and my brand as a whole. She provided me with skills to improve my decision making in everything from blog topics, gauging my audience, and making my personality really shine through in my work." says my lifestyle & travel blog client Kait of JustK8Things.

A blog coach helps you find your blog voice & establish your social media presence.

If you're feeling confused about your online presence, don't worry. You might be wondering how to start a blog & especially how to find a blog coach. What do you need to do? How can you stand out? Where do you even begin?!! A professional blogging coach allows you to delve deeper into your own fears & questions to discover who you can best reach & speak to!

"I reached out to Carmen a few months ago. She helped guide me by helping me find my voice and direction. She is an amazing mentor and friend. If you want to start a social media presence she is a good person to have in your corner." says Drea, my blog coaching client for over a year.

A blog business coach challenges you.

It's not easy. This is a blog coach & consultant after all. As a coach, I share information with you & ultimately, YOU put the effort forward to do the work. A social media manager, however, does the work for you. It depends what you need.

"I wasn't sure if I was going to learn much after the private coaching session but the challenge pushed me outside my comfort zone...The push was well worth it and much needed," says my client Stephanie.

With time & effort, a blog coach can get you results that matter (page views, event invites, income, etc!)

"I've already seen massive stat improvements on my blog (I had one post go 'viral' with over 10k+ views in the first 48 hours which is MASSIVE for me). And most of the companies I've reached out to agreed to sponsored posts or collaborations! I just received confirmation that I'll have a press pass to Dogapalooza this year and I'm friggin over the moon! Again, thank you so much for the challenge." says my travel, health, & lifestyle blogging client, Stephanie of Adventures in Aussieland.

What is Huitlacoche? Is it Safe to Eat? How do you eat it?

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

What is huitlacoche?

Corn smut is a plant fungus caused by Ustilago maydis. While most farmers would consider this fungal disease an infection worthy of eradication, corn smut is considered a delicacy in Mexico, more commonly referred to as "huitlacoche." If you're left wondering: well, is huitlacoche safe to eat? Yes! The fungus is considered a maize mushroom or type of edible mushroom. You might even hear it referred to as cuitlacoche, corn truffles, Mexican truffles, maizteca mushrooms, corn mushrooms, & bunch of other terms.



What does huitlacoche smell like, taste like, look like?

I first tried huitlacoche back in 2016; I even mentioned it in my July A - Z monthly recap & my July Favorites. My boyfriend's mom made a batch. I ate it by itself, as a side. It's earthy but not as stinky as mushrooms. It tastes like corn. The texture is a bit mushy, just like cooked corn. There might be an occasional fiber from the corn. It looks dark, like a blackish, brownish color, kind of the same color as a crimini mushroom or Portobello mushroom.

How do you eat huitlacoche?

I loooove a huitlacoche quesadilla. Delicious. If quesadillas aren't your thing, you can add huitlacoche to your soup or burrito. You can make a huitlacoche taco or sope. Basically, you can add huitlacoche as a filler or side, the same way you'd integrate something like black beans or mushrooms. 


What's the nutritional value of huitlacoche?

High Protein
Huitlacoche is higher in protein than most maize or corn, & could be considered as an alternative protein source for vegetarians (or anyone), according to a research study published in Food Science and Technology (Sociedade Brasileira de Ciência e Tecnologia de Alimentos).

High in Minerals like Magnesium & Phosphorus
The study also shows that huitlacoche is high in minerals magnesium & phosphorus. Higher magnesium intake may reduce the risk of stroke, diabetes, & osteoporosis (National Institutes of Health). So load up on that huitlacoche!

High in Fatty Acids like Oleic Acid & Linoleic Acid
Huitlacoche is high in fatty acids like oleic acid & linoleic acid. Due to the plant fungus & how it alters the corn, huitlacoche is loaded with nutrients corn doesn't normally have, such as lysine, an amino acid.

High Carbohydrate
At the end of the day, huitlacoche is still corn, so it has a high carbohydrate content. The great news is that huitlacoche has a high cellulose content (a type of carbohydrate), which can be beneficial for digestion. Sounds like a win to me!

Low Fat 
Huitlacoche is low in fat, which makes it a great choice for anyone looking for lower calorie & lower fat foods.

So tell me, would you try huitlacoche? Have you? How do you like to eat it? Leave a comment below if you have any questions! :]

Your Guide to Fresh Eucalyptus Leaves in the Shower

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

I love eucalyptus. Maybe it's because I was born in Australia. Maybe it's because it smells like a warm embrace on a cold morning, soothing yet invigorating (kind of like fresh mint). Maybe it's because this fragrant green plant is the perfect addition to your next shower. 


Hang Eucalyptus in Your Shower

Hang fresh eucalyptus leaves in your shower to freshen up your bathroom. Simply tie it with a string or rubber band near your showerhead. The hot water hits the leaves to create a eucalyptus steam, kind of like an all-natural shower diffuser. The oils from the leaves give off an incredible scent that can last for weeks.





Where Can I Buy Eucalyptus Leaves?

I'm based in Southern California, so I find my favorite eucalyptus bouquet at my local farmers market, flower shop, or grocery store. I've seen eucalyptus fresh leaves at Trader Joe's, Vons, & some grocery stores by the flower section. You might be able to find it at craft stores too!

Care Tip: Shake off the leaves after every shower to avoid gnats or rotting. 

The fresh eucalyptus leaves can be flat & hold a lot of water. Shake it, shake it, shake it like a Polaroid picture! Hey yaaa! After you turn off the water, shake as much water from the leaves as you can. Then you're ready to go.

How Long Do Eucalyptus Leaves Last in the Shower?

It ultimately depends how frequently you shower & how you care for the bundle of leaves. If the eucalyptus shower gets used multiple times a day, it may last 3 weeks or so. We had our eucalyptus bundle for 2 weeks, went on a 3-week trip, & came back to the most fragrant, fantastic scent of eucalyptus wafting through the bathroom. We used it for one more week before heading to the farmers market for a new bundle.


Can I Use Eucalyptus Essential Oils Instead?

Of course! You can use whatever you have on hand. I dabbled with eucalyptus essential oils for several years. It all started in 2014 with my very first bottle of eucalyptus essential oil. I prefer the fresh leaves because the scent is much more potent than the essential oils. But the eucalyptus essential oil is convenient & travel-friendly since you can take a small bottle with you wherever you go.  Click here for my favorite eucalyptus essential oil (*affiliate link).

Do you use eucalyptus leaves in the shower? Leave a comment! Tell me about your experience. Feel free to ask a question!

* Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Learn more about my disclosure. :]

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