Friday, September 19, 2014

Tips for Getting Better Sleep

We all know that sleep is vital for a healthy, happy life.  For years I deprived myself of sleep to finish exams or just because I didn't value sleep.  Finally dawned on me what sleep means to my body and how it could be doing more damage than I imagined by not getting enough quality sleep.  We put in so much effort during our waking hours to improve our brains and bodies, but without sleep, we'll never obtain the results we want.  When we sleep, our bodies repair our muscles, consolidate memories of whatever we learned that day, and release hormones that affect our appetite.  After realizing the true importance of sleep, I focused on how to maximize my sleep.  Here are my tips for getting better sleep.

 Admittedly, you'll look like a complete nerd wearing these wayfarer blue blocking glasses a few hours before bed, but it's absolutely worth it.  Humans are animals that evolved on a planet that revolves around the sun and we developed circadian rhythms, our biological clocks, in that natural environment.  The invention of electricity, television and iPads is awesome, but it's completely wrecked our circadian rhythms because of the blue light that they emit. Blue light blocks serotonin, the sleep inducing hormone, so your body doesn't realize it's time for bed.  You may have read that you should avoid all electronics for a few hours before bed, but with these glasses, you can do all your television watching and iPad surfing without fear!

It's best to sleep in a completely blacked out room.  At first I tried sleeping with a sleep mask, but that didn't work so well.  It's uncomfortable and your body actually absorbs light in your skin.  The mask just won't cut it.  You need full on blackout curtains to block any light from coming into your room.  You may be able to get away with regular curtains if you live in the country, but I live in the city and there's light coming in no matter what time it is. 

Do your legs twitch at night and wake you up?  I found that taking this supplement before bed helped my muscles relax.  The raspberry lemonade flavor is the best flavor. 

Sleeping in a cold room under the covers is like being on vacation because it's so awesome.  Set your temperature to 68 degrees.  I try to save on energy and set it to 70, and it's not as good.  68 is the optimal sleeping temperature. 

If your brain is full of a to-do list or stress, you need to empty it to relax into sleep.  Some people suggest meditation, and while I'm sure that would help for relaxation, I prefer a more tangible way of handling this issue.  Make an Evernote list of everything that's on your mind.  Then you can trust that you won't forget something on your list, and you can sleep peacefully. 

Note that this is not a sponsored post, and that I personally purchased and recommend each of these products. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Reality Check: Retirement

Today I received a swift kick in the gut about how much money it actually takes to afford to retire.  On a whim, I decided to use Merrill Edge's retirement calculator.  I could not believe how far behind I am. Take a look at my "Personal Retirement Number" according to the calculator.  I'm a mere 33 years and now I'm completely stressing out about how to afford retirement.

 Yes, you read that right, that's over TWO MILLION DOLLARS!!
Merrill Edge suggests that I dedicate 85% of my current salary to retirement.

Unfortunately, I'm not alone in being unprepared for retirement.  Today CNN published an article on a study done by Fidelity for CNN Money addressing relinquishing 401(k) funds by generation.  Perhaps unfairly, Millenials are nonetheless known for a lack of loyalty.  We switch jobs more than generations before us.  That's a great idea, because chances are you will not obtain a raise of more than the normal COL raise each year at most companies.  However, if you leave your job early, there's a chance that your 401(k) investment may not have vested.  If your 401(k) has not vested and you leave the company, you lose any matching contributions from your employer.  If you switch jobs frequently, that can have a huge impact on your retirement.  For example, "Let's say you forfeit $1,700 in company matches three different times early on in your career, for a total of $5,100. By retirement, the overall loss could be worth as much as $36,000..."

Luckily I'm only 33 and I have time to come up with a strategy to afford retirement.  I won't rely on Social Security - it may very well be gone when I hit an age I can finally retire.  My only chance is by being financially intelligent and proactive.  While it was hard to come to terms with the fact that I can't afford retirement, I know that I'll figure it out - or die trying! 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

you don't need so much to be so happy.

blogging is a weird thing.  its dark side is voyeuristic, self-important, and shallow.  its bright side is insightful, artistic and friendly.  i see blogging as a way to pour your insides out and share something with the world.  i stopped blogging because i was tired of sharing.  i wasn't sharing that much but i couldn't handle the idea of sharing more of my insides.  it's hard to put yourself on display and know that others will judge you.  it's easier to hide.  from here on out, this blog is a way for me to share my insides. my insides are mostly composed of recipes, fashion, makeup, politics, love, life and generally exploring the world so if you like those things, keep reading.

my last big post was hello 2011 and i hid for all of that year.  the entire year went to waste.  i was wrapped up in darkness and was barely hanging on.  my law firm job offer was revoked, i wasn't happy with my living situation, i was so far away from my closest friend and my family.  i felt like no one knew me and i didn't know what i wanted.   i had no direction and very little support.  i was lucky enough to have friends who cared for me but i felt like that's all i had.  life was bleak.

i was brutally snapped back into life on new year's day 2012.  my best friend suddenly lost her life.  i lost the person i've been the closest with in my life.  the sadness is gut wrenching and i won't bother trying to explain how awful it is.  i knew i could let this be the tipping point for me to completely give up on life, or it could be the moment when i stopped being dead and started living again.  it's sad it took the greatest loss i've ever experienced to remind me that i have to live.  THIS IS PRIME TIME. this is our one life and it's all we have.

i sold everything i could and packed my little car to the brim and moved closer to my family.  i tried to take every pleasure life could give me.  i wanted love, connection and happiness.  i felt like moving closer to my family would provide that connection for which i'd been longing.  i spent time with my family and tried to heal myself.  i tried to channel esme every chance i could.  her excitement, pure heart and energy!  but my heart still aches and i feel like i'm only beginning to understand the depth of my loss. 

i'm still swimming! 

life is so tricky.  in one year i have experienced the greatest loss and the greatest happiness.  really, the most amazing thing happened.  i met someone amazing and fell over the top in love.  it changed my life.  after a few months i decided to move away from arkansas and to kansas city.  i'm this close to being on my feet again!  in a few days i take the missouri bar exam and i'm happier than ever.  my heart is simultaneously filled with love and sadness.  i miss my best friend but i love harder than ever.

loss inspired me to try harder at making life worth living. things are about to get really good.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

wednesday lunchbox! meyer lemon quinoa & pickled watermelon radish

Introducing a new segment on The Salty Girl - Wednesday Lunchbox!  Peep my lunchbox for new lunch ideas that are quick, healthy, seasonal and yummy.  Let me tell you, having a great lunch to look forward to really makes your day interesting.  Plus, it's a topic of conversation.  People at the office have loved my lunches this week!

This week's lunchbox has meyer lemon quinoa with cucumbers and tomatoes, edamame and umeboshi plum vinegar pickled watermelon radishes.

Are you wondering what umeboshi plum vinegar is?  What about watermelon radishes?  Read on for more about this week's lunchbox!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

hello 2011.

Happy New Year, friends.  Celebrating the new year is fun.  I love the idea of a fresh, new beginning.  Last year was hard, though it was dotted with positive accomplishments.  Professionally, I graduated from law school and I passed the bar exam.  Personally, I became a better person as I learned about how, who, and what I love. 

perfect new year's day dinner - seitan jambalaya, black eyed peas and collards eaten in my house robe.
I hope you aren't disappointed, but I won't be posting a recipe tonight.  Keep reading to learn about what I want in 2011, and why I'm changing my diet to a mostly vegetarian diet.   Also, listen to the soundtrack of my life right now.  Ten decisions change your life...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

strawberry balsamic jam for those without the benefit of a garden or summertime!

I only met my Grandma Taylor one time before she passed away, but she made such an impression on my 9 year old brain that I will never forget her.  She was a beautiful, delicate woman.  My dad always said that even when she ate potato chips you could not hear a sound coming from her mouth!  I remember that she put dots of lotion on her cuticles every night.  (I should really do that.)  My favorite Grandma Taylor memory was when she cut down all the strawberries in the strawberry patch and made fresh jam.  I was in awe.  I had no idea you could make strawberry jam from scratch, and it was so delicious.

Someday I swear I'll have my own home and a garden full of strawberries and kale and other delicious items.  Until then, I've learned how to make jam from frozen berries that are out of season.  And it's delicious.  I add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, and it doesn't sound like that would be good with strawberry jam, but let me tell you, this might be the best thing I've ever made!

strawberry balsamic jam on wheat toast with browned butter!
I think my friends and family are going to love these little gems!

i'm good at making jam, but not so good at making bows.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

a very spicy christmas - habanero peach hot sauce

Are you a gift procrastinator?  Yikes, I am! I've been very busy, friends.  I haven't had any time to post, let alone make Christmas gifts!  If you are like me, don't worry.  We have plenty if time to make awesome gifts - like this Habanero Peach hot sauce!

habanero hot sauce will heat you up this winter!

It's crazy spicy, even for me, so I know my little brother will love it!  (hi trenton!!<##)  It's also very, very easy to make.  Let me give you the directions now - blend the ingredients and pour into a bottle. It's that easy!  No worries about cooking the peppers, which can cause dangerous fumes.  Here are the basic ingredients:

habaneros, canned peaches, vinegar, and salt.

Keep reading for the recipe!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Week 4 Update on Homemade Skincare - Homemade Toner Recipe

After last week, I really, really wanted to give up homemade skincare and go back to commercial products.  I am so glad I didn't because my skin has transformed this week!!!  Now it's clear and glowing!  You will not believe the secret potion that really made the difference this week - apple cider vinegar!!!  For years I've read recipes for homemade toners from apple cider vinegar, but I could not bring myself to use that smelly stuff on my skin.  My skin was so tight and dry last week that I was willing to give anything a try.   There's no denying that the apple cider vinegar smells, but I timed it and the smell only lingers for about 3 minutes.  I cannot tell you why it works - it just does.   I'm willing to bear the smell for these results!

Click through for the recipe!

Friday, December 3, 2010

heart-shaped candy cane pops!

The Salty Girl believes that everything is better when it's heart shaped and on a lollipop stick! Especially candy canes.

These homemade candy cane heart pops are adorable. Just look at them!

Still not convinced? Keep reading!

Thursday, December 2, 2010