What Have I Been Up To Lately?

Dear Friends,

It’s been about a week and a half since I posted on here, so I thought I would do a blog post to talk about what I’ve been up to.


Last week I started my final year at UMass — I’m on schedule to be done in December and I will have my journalism degree. This semester I am taking a class on visual storytelling, which is basically photo and video journalism. I’m excited about this class because one of my goals for this year is to start a YouTube channel and it should definitely help with that.

My other class is on Newswriting and Reporting, which will be beneficial in writing articles on the latest health news. New information and new studies are coming out all the time, and one of my main focuses will be on finding that information, analyzing it, and sharing it on this site for all of you.

I’m also deeply entrenched in my Holistic Nutrition certification program. It doesn’t have weekly due dates like my courses at UMass, but there is an overall timeline — I have six months to complete it. There is a handbook that breaks down what I should accomplish each week in order to finish in the given timeframe. I have been well ahead of that schedule, and since UMass started again last week I am still running about two weeks ahead of schedule. I have until July, but my goal is to be finished with it at the same time as my semester at UMass concludes. I’m basically looking at it as a third class this semester.


Something else I’ve done in the last couple of weeks is order some mineral makeup samples from Everyday Minerals. I used to use them years ago and fell away from it because I wanted more of a full coverage makeup to cover up my acne and redness. Since then my acne has cleared up significantly from what it was — partly because I’m under much less stress than I was a decade ago, and also because I’ve been able to finally kick my cheese habit, down from daily to maybe once per week. When they talk about hormones in dairy being horrible for your skin — they aren’t lying!

While I’m finding that I like the makeup, I still feel that the best thing for my skin is no makeup at all. One of my most recent posts was about dry skin (you can read it here). I spent so much time focusing on skin care in a sense of “what can I use to make my skin better?” After reading the first book for my nutrition cert, I learned that topical products don’t matter a fraction as much as what I’m actually doing to my skin in the first place. While diet plays a big role, so does how I treat my skin.

I stopped wearing makeup, not because of the toxicity of the makeup (which my drugstore stuff is, without a doubt, toxic, and that’s why I’m making the switch back to Everyday Minerals), but because of the skin washing. The biggest culprit in dry skin is over-washing. And when I wear makeup I have to scrub my face, twice, to get it all off. Then my skin is extra dry and I have to use oils and moisturizers to soothe it. So I stopped wearing makeup so that I could stop washing my face for a couple of weeks to see what would happen.

What happened is the dryness went away and I no longer needed moisturizer. I would just wipe my face clean with water in the shower, no soap. The natural oil balance and protective acid restored itself to the point where my skin was no longer dry and I didn’t need moisturizer. It was soft, supple, and less wrinkled on the forehead and under the eyes. It looked better than it ever did with moisturizer. I learned that the trick is not finding the right moisturizer, but instead getting out of my own way so my skin can do what it’s genetically supposed to — heal itself.

So what about that new mineral makeup? I like it. It is definitely much safer from a toxicity standpoint than the drugstore liquid makeup. It covers pretty well too, especially now that my acne is mostly under control (I currently have a couple of post-period spots on my cheek). And it’s certainly easier to wash off than the liquid makeup. But — I still have to have soap to wash my face clean. After my shower, washing my face with soap, the dryness was back on either side of my nose, above my lips, and the center of my forehead above my brow bone. I didn’t need to slather my whole face in moisturizer, but I did use jojoba oil on the affected areas.

So I plan to order the base shade, primer, color corrector and finishing dust that I liked form Everyday Minerals, but I will still mostly not be wearing makeup. The plan is to wear it when I dress up for a date, go out with friends, have some sort of event, etc., but I will not be wearing it for just normal, everyday use. I have a professional job with a required business causal dress code, but I also sit in an office by myself all day and only see a handful of coworkers when I leave to use the bathroom or go to the break room. My job is back-office, so I am not meeting clients or working directly face-to-face with customers. Makeup is definitely not needed.

In my personal life…

Last weekend I took Michael on a little road trip to meet my aunt and uncle. They live three hours away, and since my aunt’s cancer diagnosis (stage 4 lung cancer), she desperately wanted to meet Michael, but is in no shape to travel. She’s been having seizures due to the swelling around the tumors in her brain, and sitting in a cramped vehicle makes them worse.

My boys’ dad lives close to her as well and they were already up there for the weekend (we meet halfway every other weekend), so Michael and I made the trip Sunday so he could meet my aunt and we could also pick up Hunter and Logan. It was a long day with six total hours of driving, but I got to see my best friend for a bit, and my mom’s side of the family was all together at my aunt’s house.

My mom’s side is small – just my grandparents, my mom and my aunt, plus spouses and children. My aunt and uncle’s daughter wasn’t there, but the rest of us were. My grandparents, aunt and uncle, my mom and stepdad and sister, plus Michael and me, and my boys when their dad dropped them off. It was the first time Michael was able to be there together with all of us and it felt satisfyingly complete.

This weekend we celebrate Hunter’s 15th birthday, and next week he will get his learner’s permit. It is unbelievable that I have a child old enough to start driving! I’m also encouraging him to put in his application at a couple of places close to home. We live a few blocks from a main highway and there are a couple of chain restaurants — Dunkin Donuts and Pizza Hut — within walking/bike riding distance from us. Many of those places will start hiring at 15, and he could work there without needing to have a driver’s license and a car.

We also have a superbowl party coming up this weekend at my friend Jenny’s house (I’m taking black bean salsa), plus plans to eat at Burritoville on Saturday. I haven’t been, and neither has my friend Caitlin. My friend Trevor is a regular there and is adamant that we go. It’s going to be a very full weekend, but also a satisfying weekend full of family, friends and celebration…and food prepping for next week!

Now for the exciting part!

I have decided to do a little kitchen renovation! I already did a big overhaul when I first moved into my house. My house had been completely remodeled before I bought it, but the one thing the former owners didn’t do was the kitchen. They’d replaced appliances and installed ceramic flooring, but the wood cabinets and yellow laminate countertop had been untouched since the house was built in 1967. So the first thing I did when I moved in was paint the cabinets inside and out, lay down a pretty liner inside the cabinets, replace all of the hardware, and paint my countertops.

Yes, paint them. For some before and afters:

Since then, things have changed. I’ve purchased a small table to use as a prep island in the center of my kitchen, because the breakfast bar is on the opposite side of the kitchen and isn’t convenient for prepping and cooking. I hung (and by I, I mean Michael) my crystal chandelier that I had originally purchased for the bedroom in my last house. I also stripped and refinished the wood breakfast bar. I’ve slowly accumulated things that fit my theme — pastel turquoise and pink, and shiny copper.

The countertop paint was always intended to be a temporary fix until I replaced the countertops. I painted a finish that looked good in the kitchen, but wasn’t exactly my dream kitchen. I decided at last that I’m ready to replace the countertop and sink. But then, I started pricing countertops…

What I found that I really liked was a white quartz countertop. So it’s basically mostly white, with a little gray veining with some copper flecks in the veining. And just the countertop alone, not including my island prep station, was going to be $1,200.00. And that does not include labor costs. I just couldn’t justify that cost with my inner frugal self. Not knowing that my existing countertop, aside from being not up to my personal tastes in appearance, is in perfect physical shape.

One thing I am, is good with paint. What you probably don’t know is that prior to starting this blog and focusing all of my extra attention on health and wellness, I had a short lived side-job refinishing furniture. I looked up videos on painting countertops to specifically look like quartz, and realized it’s something I can do.

There are kits sold by Stone Coat that I thought about buying, but decided not to for one reason — epoxy will only work on a horizontal surface, and my countertops are lined by a vertical 3″ built-in backsplash. So I’m going to have to hand paint it. I found some techniques that I liked, tested them out on cardboard, and they turned out well. So all I had to do was figure out my colors. I am still going to use the epoxy on the horizontal surface to make it as shiny as glass, because I just love that finish and it’s highly heat resistant. But I will have to use a gloss polycrylic for the backsplash portion.

countertopIn general I try to avoid gray. I know it’s trending right now, but to me it’s just cold and depressing. It reminds me of winter, and I hate winter. BUT — I’m realizing that warm tones — tans and taupes and creams — just aren’t going to give me the look I want. I want a bright and shiny white, and all of those colors just made it look off-white. So I decided I’m using gray for the veining, with the little dabs of metallic copper, to mimic this, only without the gray speckles:

kitchenI went back and forth between a copper sink and a white sink before landing on my final decision — I’m going with white. While the copper is beautiful and I really like it, I think it would end up just being too much and I would grow tired of it. I got on Pinterest and looked up kitchens with copper sinks and kitchens with white sinks, and I overwhelmingly liked the white better in the overall aesthetic of the kitchen. I am, however, going to get a copper faucet, and probably update the hardware to all copper as well.

The one thing I haven’t fully decided on is the countertop for the prep island. Currently, it’s too small. It’s 2′ x 2′, and doesn’t have room to spread out. I can’t go as big as I’d like or I won’t be able to open the refrigerator door or dishwasher. But I can go as wide as 3′ or 3.5′. And I’d like to increase the depth to 30″, but I can’t seem to find a top that will fit. They’re all a standard 24″, or they’re just massive. There is no in between. I’ve found a butcher block top that is 48″ x 24″ that I could cut down to fit width-wise. Then I can either finish it to match the wood breakfast bar, or paint it to match the countertops. That is what I haven’t decided on yet.

I can’t even tell you how excited I am for this! I decided to go ahead and do it now ahead of filming for YouTube, because a lot of the videos I will be making are going to be in the kitchen. So there is no better time than now to get it started. Since this weekend is already full, I am going to work on prepping the space next week, then start the painting (I’m also going to put a fresh coat of bright white and two coats of polycrylic on the cabinets) next weekend. I will have to remember to do some before, during and after’s for the blog, and also shoot some video so I can try to do a kitchen remodel video for the YouTube channel (which does not currently exist, but I will share the link on here when it does!).

So if you don’t see a lot of activity here on the Holistic Health with Loren website over the next couple of weeks, it is because I will be “under construction” on the kitchen. But don’t worry, I will be back here soon!


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