Weekend of Thrifting

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Nicer weather means it’s flea market time! I stumbled across my new favorite store in Maryville called Vintage 159. They were having a flea market outside the other day and I stopped by. There’s something so fun about looking through a bunch of old things and trying to think of a use for them. The first thing I noticed was this funky looking shelf. It’s the long, brown wooden shelf in the photo. The guy selling it was not even sure it was a shelf. He said he had never brought it out before because he didn’t think anyone would buy it. I plan to pain it and them decorate it with some old bottles and flowers on every other opening.

I picked up a few flour sacks, too, finally. I see them everywhere and I finally got a good deal on some nicer ones. I have no idea what I am going to do with them yet, I have just always wanted some. The windows are going to be added to my growing collection. I hoard old windows and slowly, but surely, will start to finish painting them for decoration. I have a done a few before and they turned out really pretty!

I saw the old, rusty, wheel on my way into the shop and had to buy it. It was so cheap! Only like $10. I figured I can do something with that, too, and get an Anthropologie look for way less. I found the fabulous suitcases inside Vintage 159. I could spend hours in that little store. They had the coolest items. Old, new, refurbished, redone, painted, destroyed, vintage, EVERYTHING. The prices were unbelieveable. I plan to turn the suitcases into displays for jewelry and accessories.

Now I just need to get to painting and selling! But I always end up wanting to keep everything for myself 🙂


The Veggie Life

I have been a vegetarian for about 5 years. (I still eat fish on occasion because of its health benefits). Being a vegetarian does not get brought up that often though. I am not a preacher of this way of life/food choice. People can eat what they want, it is not my place to tell people how to live their life. There is never a reason to bring up vegetarianism unless someone notices that I am not eating meat at dinner or something and then proceeds with a long list of questions, most often including “Why are you a vegetarian?” So I would like to go in depth as to why I am. I will start out simple and then get into the stats and facts that I have researched over the past few years that have stuck with me.


Before I get into the list, here is a book that I got in 2011. It was written by John Robbins, the heir to the Baskin-Robbins empire. It has everything, literally EVERYTHING there is to know about the meat industry in relation to your health, animal cruelty, and the environment. John Robbins also touches on world hunger and genetic engineering. I like that he doesn’t blame people for eating meat based on how they were raised. Instead, he investigates the industries that lie to us for more money, power, and greed. It’s just an awesome book. BUY IT AND READ IT PEOPLE.

 6 (Broad) Reasons I am a Vegetarian

1. Even when I still ate meat, my favorite foods were always everything but meat. I have always loved pasta, salad, beans, fruits and veggies. The transition was extremely easy for me. So I thought, why not just take out meat entirely, it can’t be that difficult.
2. I was not raised in a hunting family. We are not heavy heavy carnivores. Meals without meat were common at the dinner table. While it may have been annoying that I didn’t eat my dad’s steak or mom’s chicken enchiladas, my parents did not really mind going out of the way to cook something else for me (at least they didn’t show it). Often times they are even open to trying new recipes that are vegetarian friendly. It is also super easy and cheap to eat meatless. People who say it is expensive to eat healthy have no idea what they are talking about. Excuses, excuses.
3. I consider myself an animal lover even though I have never had any dogs, just a couple cats when I was really young. But anyway, I DO care about animal rights and yes I have watched Food, Inc. and Meet Your Meat. I am not a crazy, loud PETA activist shouting from the rooftops, but like I said, I do love animals. I wouldn’t eat my cat or a dog, so why would I eat a pig? Not to mention the horrific conditions they are ‘raised’ under before slaughter.
4. As the years passed, I gradually became grossed out at the thought of eating meat. I think about where it comes from and how that animal is tortured and killed. Then about all the hormones that are in the meat, as well as links to disease. I always think about that little note at the bottom of a menu that warns you that raw and undercooked meat may lead to foodborne illness. I just have no desire to put anything like that in my body anymore. I don’t even eat a ton of meat alternatives because the taste of meat is just not as satifysing to me anymore.
5. Not eating meat greatly lowers your risk of heart disease and cancer because you are cutting out animal fat and a whole lot of cholesterol. You are replacing it with antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables and excellent sources of protein like grains and beans. According to the CDC, heart disease is the number 1 leading cause of death in adults in the U.S. I don’t know about you, but if eating meat means I am likely to die sooner, I am not about that life.
6. Global warming is very real and meat production is a large contributor. A Prius driver who eats mainly meat is contributing more to global warming than a Hummer driver eating low on the food chain. Raising livestock for meat consumption aids in air pollution, loss of biodiversity, species extinction, climate change, water shortage, water pollution, and overall degradation of the land.

So I touched on health, animal rights, and the environment. Those are the three main reasons people choose not to eat meat. There is not really one area more than another that I lean towards. I believe in a healthy life for myself, animals, and for the Earth. Here are some other facts and statistics that are very eye opening and hopefully will make you think twice about the meat on your plate.


  • Animal protein has actually been found to decrease bone health. Consumption of meat is associated with decreased bone mineral density.
  • Eating more fruits and vegetables increases survival rates in women with ovarian cancer and reduces the risk of breast cancer.
  • Those who eat poultry four times a week compared to those who abstain are at a 200-300% greater risk of colon cancer. Americans who are aware that eating less meat reduces colon cancer risk: 2%.
  • Soy intake decreases the risk of hip fractures, breast cancer, and lung cancer.
  • Blood cholesterol level of vegetarians compared to non-vegetarians is 14% lower.
  • Vegetarians have only half the risk of heart disease compared to meat eaters.
  • Fat in a Burger King Whopper: 40 grams. Fat in an average veggie burger: 3 grams.
  • Annual medical costs in the U.S. directly linked to smoking: $65 billion; linked to meat consumption: $60-120 billion.
  • Antibiotics given to people in the U.S. annually to treat disease: 3 million lbs; given to livestock annually for purposes other than treating disease: 24.6 million lbs.


  • Newborn male calves born to dairy cows are chained at the neck and caged in such small spaces that they barely move at all during their short life. Their muscles often never fully develop since their neck and body can often never move. They are unable to walk, denied sufficient mother’s milk, and trucked off to auction at only a day or two old before being slaughtered for veal.
  • Length of time that baby calves suckle from their mothers in a natural environment: 8 months; length of time that U.S. dairy calves are routinely taken from their mothers and transported to veal stalls: 24 hours90% of U.S. dairy calves are taken after 24 hours.
  • More than 99% of the hens who lay the eggs eaten in the U.S. are debeaked and caged. Forced to stand on wire, they often become entangled resulting in the workers cutting off their toes and claws.
  • 75% of chickens are subjected to “forced molting” in which they are starved and denied water. This shocks the hens into losing their feathers.
  • Birds are being systematically bred for obesity. They suffer from congestive heart failure because their lungs and heart are not fully developed enough to support the rapid weight gain.
  • Mass of breast tissue of an eight week old chicken today compared to 25 years ago: 7 times greater.
  • 65 million of the 90 million pigs that are raised for meat in the U.S. are in total confinement where they never see daylight until they are trucked off for slaughter.
  • 70% of pigs have pneumonia at time of slaughter.
  • Pigs become so packed together that they become violent and bite one another’s tails and bodies. The industry responds by chopping off their tails and chipping their teeth.
  • 90,000 cows and calves are slaughtered every 24 hours in the U.S.
  • 14,000 chickens are slaughtered every minute in the U.S.
  • 10 billion food animals (not including fish and other aquatic creatures) are slaughtered every year in the U.S.


  • Water required to produce 1 pound of beef according to the University of California Agricultural Extension: 5,214 gallons; wheat: 25 gallons; lettuce: 23 gallons.
  • In California today, it has been noted that you may save more water by not eating a pound of beef than you would by not showering for six months.
  • More water is drawn from the Ogallala aquifer every year for beef production than is used to grow all the fruits and vegetables in the entire country.
  • America’s grain belt produces more grain for factory farm and feedlot animal feed than bread for humans.
  • The hog waste produced by a single plant in Utah is equal to the volume of human waste produced by the entire population of the state.
  • Livestock waste goes into soil and then runs into the water that many people ultimately bathe in and drink. Catastrophic cases of pollution, sickness, and death occur in areas where livestock farms are heavily concentrated.
  • Because of animal waste pollution, in the Gulf of Mexico there is now a ‘dead zone’ of nearly 7,000 square miles that can no longer support aquatic life.
  • 70% of the American west is used for grazing livestock.
  • Livestock compact the soil and trample plants making it harder for soil to absorb water freely. This leads to contaminated runoff.
  • Livestock impact on the soil has done more to alter the vegetation and land forms of the West than all the water projects, power plants, freeways, and subdivisions combined.
  • 55 square feet of tropical rainforest are destroyed for the production of every fast-food hamburger made from rainforest beef.
  • Members of 30 different plant species, 100 different insect species and dozens of bird, mammal, and reptile species are destroyed in the production of each fast-food hamburger.
  • Methane is 24 times more potent a greenhouse house than carbon dioxide. Methane’s concentration in the atmosphere is triple than what is was a century ago due to beef production.
  • Livestock account for up to 20% of overall global methane emissions.
  • Cattle, goats, and sheep graze half of the planet’s total land area. They, as well as pigs and poultry, eat feed grown on the the majority of the world’s cropland.

Check out my recipe for a healthy Mexican inspired vegetarian dish here!


Vegetarian Times magazine
Robbins, John. The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help save Your Life and Our World.



Tangled Up In Frozen

I believe I was about four years old when my parents first took my older sister and I to Walt Disney World. I lived in the blue Cinderella nightgown they bought me for weeks after the trip. When I met Cinderella, my parents said I cried and gave her the biggest hug ever. Each time I have gone back I still tear up when I see her. The whole place makes me tear up–it truly is magical. When TinkerBell flies out of the castle at the end of the night, the World Showcase light show over the water at Epcot, seeing Peter Pan running around FantasyLand and by the time you notice him he is gone…this list could go on forever.

I am always reading up on the secrets of the park and I have used research papers and presentations for school as an excuse to learn more about Disney. One of my favorite papers I wrote about Disney was called “Feminism in Fairytales.” I discussed how I believe Ariel, Belle, and Mulan are independent and confident young women who act as good role models for girls. So many people bash Disney for ‘too good to be true’ story lines or submissive and powerless characters. True Disney fans know that it is just not the case.

Last weekend I had the privilege of being Rapunzel from Tangled for the night. I work at the Edwardsville YMCA and we had a princess themed night for little girls. All of the Disney princesses were there for the event and we read stories and took photos with everyone there. It is so fun to see the youngest generation still watching the older classics like Cinderella and Snow White. I surprised myself with how much I got into the character. I was probably an awful actress but the 4 and 5-year-old girls really thought I was Rapunzel. I felt like I got more hugs that night than I ever have in my life.



I also recently recorded ‘Let It Go’ from Frozen. I had been meaning to record this song for weeks. I finally saw the movie over spring break and it has such an awesome storyline. Anna and Elsa are strong female roles that do not succumb to the typical ‘end up with Prince Charming love.’ They realize that the true love needed to bond them together and to break the winter curse is the love they have as sisters. The music is AMAZING. I knew all the songs before I even saw the movie. Here is my cover of ‘Let It Go.’


While Out West

3 weeks. 3 states.  1 National Forest. 2 National Parks. 1 National Memorial . 1 National Monument. 1 rock concert. 5+ cities. 1000+ photos.

That pretty much sums up my vacation last summer out west. It was the most eye opening and awe inspiring trip I have ever taken. You can take a million vacations to the beach and have a relaxing, sun-filled week, but how many times can you say you’ve seen three waterfalls in one day. Or a herd of 500+ bisons crossing the road right in front of you. Or 5 moose in a week, each about 20 feet away from you. Or cowboys trying to get a ton of cattle up the mountain by herding them with horses up the highway causing traffic to stop. Or spent the morning in the historic gambling town of Deadwood, South Dakota and then drove a few miles to see Mt. Rushmore and Badlands National Park all in one day.

The west is where America’s beauty lives. It’s not in St. Louis. The real beauty isn’t on the east coast or in the south. All of these places are too populated and urbanized. The beauty is in Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, and all the other states in that area. This is where the last bit of untouched nature lives. Mountains, waterfalls, rock formations, canyons, geysers, hot springs, rivers, wildlife, forests, history…the list could go on forever.

My sister and I spent a week and a half on our own with our Aunt in Buffalo and Sheridan, Wyoming. They are very small towns, but full of natural beauty and the old west feel. It sits in the Big Horn National Forest. Crazy Woman Canyon is in the area as well, which is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.

Crazy Woman Canyon

Moose in Big Horn Moutains

Overlook of Big Horn Mountains

Veteran’s home pond looking out at Big Horn Mountains

From there we went to Montana and visited Yellowstone National Park. There are so many things to see in the park. We saw the main sites like Old Faithful and the Grand Prismatic Spring. The park is full of natural wonders that are nothing like you have ever seen. Bubbling hot springs that plunge into darkness some 100 feet deep, waterfalls in the middle of the forest or off a canyon, and herds of bison and numerous elk around every turn. The amount of tourists there are also overwhelming. It was always a struggle to take my photos without having people in them.

Near the Grand Prismatic Spring

Grand Canyon

Mammoth Hot Springs

Tower Falls

Hayden Valley

Devil’s Tower was another sight unlike any other. It takes over an hour to walk around the giant rock formation and each step you take you become even more in awe of how this formation occurred over time. It literally looks like it was pushed out of the ground with the vertical lines down the sides and the millions of rocks surrounded the perimeter.

Devil’s Tower

Mt. Rushmore should be on everyone’s bucket list. I thought I wouldn’t like it that much. I figured I’ve seen it in photos and I get it, some presidents carved out of stone. I’m not dying to see it. Well I was wrong. It was amazing to see in person. The heads are much more massive than they appear in photos. Learning about the construction of it was so interesting.

Mt. Rushmore

Badlands National Park was probably the most obscure park we saw all trip. The whole area looks as if you are on a planet in Star Wars. There is really no other way to describe the park other than the photos.


If you love the outdoors, traveling, hiking, sight seeing, nature, wildlife and pure amazement, then you MUST plan a trip out west. See if you can do it all in one trip. It was a challenge, but my family did it. Then again, we are a bunch of vacation freaks. We drove straight home to Shiloh without an overnight stay from Badlands National Park in South Dakota. But that’s another story.


Photo by Mollie Rittenhouse

Photo by Mollie Rittenhouse

Like every other college student, the red and white logo of Netflix has been permanently burned into my sight. After a long day of classes and work, Netflix is just a given when I sit down with my leftover pasta that I have been trying to finish for three days. Recently, I started watching the series “Freaks and Geeks” that aired back in 1999 to 2000. Not only does it have an awesome, comedic cast with names like James Franco and Seth Rogen, but IMDB gave it a 9.0 rating. The show follows two groups of teenagers (the freaks and the geeks, of course) in the 1980s, dealing with everything from first love to embarrassing parents and everything in between.

It is a highly relatable show regardless of if you grew up in the 80s. I am almost finished with the first season and nearly every episode has nostalgic qualities. Innocence is everywhere in the show, like a boy having a huge crush on his best friend’s older sister and awkward dancing between hormonal teens at Homecoming. The show constantly reminds me of high school. I cannot believe I am already halfway though college. It seems like yesterday morning I was freaking out because I forgot my P.E. clothes at home or got turned around as a Freshman in my high school’s extremely confusing hallway system. It is hard to believe that was over three years ago. Nothing makes me feel more old than saying “I have not seen you since high school!” to an old friend.

The innocence of high school is something to be cherished. No matter how many people say they do not miss it, somewhere deep down you know they do (unless maybe they were severely bullied or never made the soccer team). In college you still have a little bit of innocence left, but you are so much more on your own than you were in high school. Decisions are forced down your throat every second about your future. What will you do with your degree? Where will you live? How will you pay off your loans? You ARE going to get your Master’s aren’t you? Classes fill up quickly and you realize you might not finish in four years. Even though you earn above average grades and work really hard, scholarships are hard to come by when you are an average white girl with two working parents who are happily married. Sorry I’m not sorry. The world is so much bigger and scarier than high school. The real world is fast approaching and it terrifies me. I just have a couple more years of my parents being my own personal bank, summer and Christmas break, and late night Taco Bell runs. Cheers to making the most of it while I still can. Innocence is bliss.