See Health Closer: 5 things I'm loving

I'm excited to be back for week two of my favorite things blog post and I realized I have so much health and wellness things I want to share I'm going to make the month of May all about it. Cheers to a great weekend and moving our bodies and resting well. I'm excited to try out a new trail in Missouri plus taking a nice Sunday nap - it's all about balance. :)

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Om and the City Blog

I randomly found Jules's instagram sometime within the last few months and I have become a quick fan of it and her website. I love the topics she covers, whether it's yoga, wellness, or her diet, and how she does it all in such an authentic way. I love following her daily insta stories and she might even get me to try match even though I hate green tea. The jury's still out. 

Motivate podcast

"After struggling with her weight her entire life, ABC News correspondent Mara Schiavocampo finally discovered the keys to living a healthier, happier life, losing 90 pounds along the way. She shares her journey in her bestselling weight loss memoir “Thinspired: How I Lost 90 Pounds: My Plan for Lasting Weight Loss & Self-Acceptance.” Now, in this podcast, she takes a look at all things health, wellness, nutrition and spirituality with top experts and regular people."

It’s scary how much this podcast actually motivates me to be the best version of myself. Whether it’s helping me not go through the fast food drive-through or actually show up to yoga class that day, it has been a great podcast to listen to while I'm getting back into working out, reminding me that it really is good for my body even if I don't feel like it at the time.

The hashtag campaign #doingthings

Outdoor Voices is changing the game (no pun intended) in the athleisure trend. If you don’t know them, Outdoor Voices is focused on “freeing fitness from performance and not being so serious” about activewear, according to founder Tyler Haney, who launched the line two years ago in Austin.

I’m also pretty obsessed with their hashtag campaign ‘Doing Things.’ “It is a super non-prescriptive, inclusive, and approachable idea,” and having a day (and a hashtag) devoted to the phrase is about “seeing how people use our clothes, instead of telling them how to,” Haney said.

To me, I translate this campaign into a life mantra, to just get out and move your body. Don't worry about looking a certain way or being a certain weight — it's just a celebration of moving your body, and to me, that is how we change our mindset of working out. It’s not a fitness goal, but more about being healthy and the best version of our self we can be and loving the skin we live in!

The best part? They’re sustainable. I love this question that is on their FAQ section of their website:

How do you ensure OV products are ethically produced?

"Before we craft a single pair of leggings, our partners agree to abide by our vendor code of conduct. On par with industry leaders in sustainability and social compliance, we support places where employees are safe, paid fairly, given benefits, and work regulated hours.

Our team visits each factory and mill in person a few times a year. Start to finish, we aim for OV to have a positive impact on the people and resources that bring our gear to life."

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My new Swell waterbottle

I’ve been a S’well believer for a little over two years now and I haven’t turned back. When I first heard it keeps your beverages cold for 24 hours and hot beverages hot for 12 hours, I thought to myself, “Does that really make a difference — would I really care?” but boy, have I come to love it, especially during the hot, humid Midwest summers.

And, not only does it have personal benefits, when you purchase a S’well, you are helping to reduce the use of single-use plastic bottles and supporting their Million Bottle Project. The Million Bottle Project helps demonstrate that we can create big change in the world by making small changes in our everyday lives, which I firmly believe in, and it’s an important step towards a zero waste lifestyle.

I also believe that if you get a water bottle you love, you will drink more water and treat the planet kinder along the way. Before you know it, you will completely replace buying plastic water bottles at gas stations, airports, and coffee shops because you're both stylish and you care about the environment. Win win.

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Thrive Market - Nut pods

I joined Thrive Market by default because I forgot to cancel my free month (lol) but I have currently saved $125 purchasing products on my grocery list I would be buying anyways. I have been shocked at how much I love Thrive Market. And, it's allowed me to try new products I see at Trader Joes or Whole Foods but don't want to spend full price on. My favorite finds so far have been the French Vanilla Nut Pods,  Siete Lime Grain Free Tortilla Chips, and the Cocokind MyMatcha Moisture Stick

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The Inside Scoop: Becoming a Noonday Ambassador

To celebrate my four year anniversary with Noonday Collection as a Noonday Ambassador, I thought I would share what it has been like being an Ambassador and why I've loved it and I'll start with introducing myself for any new faces around here.

I’m Brooke, wife to Aaron and a St. Louis transplant from Virginia Beach, Virginia — we moved here so Aaron could attend grad school and earn his Ph.D in Research Psychology. It’s been an adventure growing together in a city that is new to both of us! I work full time at Washington University in St. Louis for Olin Business School, but after work or on the weekends, you can find me partnering with women in St. Louis, sharing Noonday Collection with their communities, or cuddling with our labradoodle, Rosie.

Before sharing more about my journey with Noonday Collection, however, I should probably begin by explaining what it is for those who haven’t heard about the company before. Noonday Collection is a socially responsibly business that uses fashion and enterprise to create meaningful employment opportunities for people around the world. All of our pieces are handmade by 29 artisan business partners from 12 countries who earn a fair wage for their work.

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I’ve always loved jewelry. My first “real” job outside of cleaning my dad’s business growing up was at a local silver jewelry store called Hi Ho Silver. I loved helping my customers find that perfect piece for their friends or family and I especially loved the relationships we got to make with our repeat customers who soon turned into friends. Even though that job was only for a summer, it clearly left a mark on me as I embarked on my journey to be a Noonday Ambassador seven years later.

Noonday Collection first caught my eye at a local fundraising event at my church. There was a table set up with Noonday samples and lookbooks for us to browse the whole collection. I was immediately drawn to the creative ways the paper bead necklaces were made. I also owned multi-colored papered necklaces, but I had never seen them styled in the way Noonday was designing them: Solid color beads, some with gold accents, was a totally new way of designing artisan-made jewelry. I was hooked from the design aspect alone, but then I found out how it was made, how it was fair-trade and ethically made, and how it was helping break the cycle of poverty — and I knew I was done for.

I hosted my first Noonday trunk show a month later and had a blast. I gathered girls from my community group who I had just started getting to know and we had our very own grownup dress-up party, complimenting each other and changing the world right from my first little apartment in St. Louis, MO.

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A month after my first trunk show — and two months after the initial fundraiser at my church — my heart and mind wouldn’t stop thinking about the impact Noonday Collection was having on the world and how I could be apart of it: By purchasing Noonday for myself and for gifts, hosting a trunk show, or — best of all — becoming an Ambassador myself to share Noonday with anyone and everyone who would listen!

The first two options were simple. I love to shop, so purchasing Noonday was easy. I also love having people over and earning free jewelry, so continuing to host trunk shows was another no-brainer. But, becoming an Ambassador in a city I had just moved to eight months earlier? Now that was something I would need to think about.

Still new in St. Louis, I didn’t have the security of close friends and family to support me and show up at my launch party or host my first trunk show. What if no one showed up? What if I didn’t meet anyone to share Noonday with? I knew it would be a huge risk to begin selling this world-changing jewelry in a place where I was still building my new community — especially because I’ve always loved staying behind the scenes. Becoming an ambassador for Noonday would not only require me to push outside my comfort zone, but I would also need to find the courage to be vocal about the jewelry and share the vision and heart behind the beautiful jewelry I was wearing.

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After wrestling with my decision for weeks, I finally said “yes” to my new role as a Noonday Collection Ambassador and I can honestly say that my life has been changed forever for the better — and it is all because of one thing:

The incredible community of artisans that Noonday partners with around the world.

Over the past several years, two of my biggest highlights as a Noonday Ambassador have been the two opportunities I have had to travel to Guatemala and Peru and to meet our artisan partners who make our gorgeous jewelry in person. On both of those trips, I have seen with my own eyes and felt with my own heart the impact we can have when we decide to shop fair-trade with our money. Noonday also partners with leaders in the communities we work in, so we are empowering local leaders across the world to create change and help their artisans and employees break out of the cycle of poverty.

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To Americans, it’s a no-brainer that we earn at least minimum wage at our jobs, if not more, but in workshops and factories around the world, this is sadly an exception. Fair trade means Noonday artisan partners are paid minimum wage or higher, on time, every two weeks, and that they are only working 40 hours a week. This is a game changer in helping to alleviate poverty. Poverty often means living day to day, and doesn’t allow anyone to think about the future because they don’t even know if they will have money for their children the following day. Earning minimum wage or higher allows parents to dream about their future, save money for a house, and pay their medical bills.

The knowledge of Noonday’s impact never fails to give me fresh energy and encouragement. In the moments when I might feel tired of loading my Noonday Collection samples into the car one more time or asking again and again if someone in my community in St. Louis will host a Noonday trunk show, I simply think about meeting Ana in Guatemala and José in Peru, who are running incredible businesses in their communities. And I think about how lives are being changed by business — and by things as seemingly simple as earrings, necklaces and accessories.

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Being part of Noonday Collection has done more than help me be more connected to my local community in St. Louis — it has opened my mind, widened my worldview, and given me a passion for making every purchase count. Every sale matters — no matter how big or small — and they all help towards making positive changes around the world. So when you wear fair-trade jewelry in the future, you should always smile, knowing you are helping to end poverty right where you are.

If you would like to support myself & Noonday Collection, you can purchase through my Ambassador page here. Thank you for supporting fair trade & artisan made goods!

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See Health Closer: 5 things I’m loving right now

When I started my blog, See Things Closer, my hope was to share more about how I was learning what an ethical lifestyle looked like for me. But through some recent health setbacks, I have also really started looking into what a “healthy” lifestyle looks like for myself and learning more about how to naturally heal my body, so I have decided to add health and fitness to something I am also seeing closer.

Health is so unique to each person, so know that I certainly don’t plan on giving you any medical advice on what you should or shouldn’t do. Rather, my idea is simply to share about what I’ve found joy in and how it’s bringing meaning to me personally.

Another goal in these new weekly “things I’m loving” posts is merely to blog more. I hate writing (I know, I know…ohh the irony that I started a blog), but these posts will hopefully be a quick way to give you a few things every week that I’m enjoying and that I think you might enjoy, too.

So, to start us off this week, I’m focusing on 5 things in the “health/wellness” category that either make working-out more enjoyable or are helping me lower the noise of this busy world we live in. I’d love to hear topics you would like me to cover in the coming weeks, or if you’d tried any of my first 5 wellness ideas below in the comments! Here’s to being the best versions of ourselves possible.

Oh, and rest assured that none of these are sponsored ;)

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The Catalina Deluxe Tote

For a simple canvas tote, it’s kinda embarrassing how much I love this bag and find purpose in it. I sold my previous weekender on Facebook Marketplace and used the money to purchase the Catalina Deluxe Tote from Lo & Sons because it works as both a weekender and a workout bag.

The bottom pocket provides a separate storage compartment from the rest of your things, so I love that you can keep the germs from your shoes off your clothes. The best part, though? It has a convenient pass-through sleeve on the side that slides onto a suitcase handle, so no more worrying about wearing out your shoulder when you travel. Yes, please.

Apple Cider Vinegar + Lemon water in the morning

Now I know I said I wouldn’t offer any medical advice, so consult your doctor before you start this, but — my doctor recommended drinking one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and one tablespoon of lemon juice in six ounces of water every morning, 30 minutes before you eat. It not only helps hydrate your body after a full night’s sleep, but it also helps clear out toxins and gets your gut off to a good start every morning.

I can honestly say it feels like I just drank a shot of espresso after I drink this. Game changer.

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The Mindbodygreen Podcast

I think we all know the health and wellness category is trending BIG right now, but if you’re like me at all, you really don’t know what to believe. And that’s where the Mindbodygreen podcast comes in. It shares “motivational interviews with the people shaping the wellness world: pioneers, cutting-edge thinkers, and entrepreneurs who are changing the conversation. Topics include health, fitness, nutrition, self-help and more.” I love the insight it gives you into trending wellness topics.

Highly recommend. I’m hooked.

Pilates

My chiropractor and doctor both recommended I start Pilates classes to build up my core strength to help manage my scoliosis. I honestly didn’t know what to expect, but it has helped relieve so much of my back pain that I am shocked. Then again, the whole class is almost all abs so am I really that surprised? I have never done so much ab work (send help) but the relief I feel is worth it!  

Floating

I’ve been hearing about “Floating” from friends for a few years and my husband even tried it before me last year, but I finally took the plunge (pun intended!) in February and danggggg, it was incredible.

Here’s how Sean Lavery from Float-Toronto has described the experience:

“You are floating in 850 pounds of epsom salt so you won’t be fighting gravity and the water is kept at 93.5 degrees which is skin-receptor neutral, which means you lose track of where your body ends and the water begins. Your ears stay just below the water, and the tanks are insulated against sound. After you shut the door and turn off the light, you float in total darkness. During your float the outside world is gone, and amazing things happen. It turns out that when you’re not fighting gravity or constantly taking in information your body has a lot of extra resources at its disposal. Your mind is free to mull things over without distraction, your brain pumps out dopamine and endorphins, and your body gets to rest, de-stress, and heal.”

Needless to say, Floating is 100% worth the hype. I have literally never experienced something where you can truly escape from being overstimulated completely. No sound, no gravity, no light. For living in such a tech-heavy world, the gift of disconnecting from all the stimulation is really surreal.

And, if you’re in St. Louis, I loved my experience at Float STL and they will give you $10 off with this code: pb-640692

Let me know if you try it and what your experience is like!

Home for the Holidays: 5 Essential Travel Tips

With the holidays coming up, I think it’s safe to say we will all be doing some type of traveling -- whether that be via the road or air travel style -- so here are a few ideas to make sure your journeys home are full of Christmas spirit and low on stress.

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Pack Light

If you can swing it, try to pack everything into a carry-on suitcase. It helps reduce extra baggage costs and also helps you avoid those infamously long baggage check-in lines if traveling by air -- but even if traveling by car, it gives you more space to stretch out during the journey. I always find it a little easier to travel light over the holidays -- we usually stay home more, so re-wearing clothing isn’t as a big of a deal and you can do laundry more often -- thus leaving more room for gifts in your carry-on or car!

Stay Hydrated  

Carry an empty water bottle to refill in the airport. Hydration is key for flying! Most airports are equipped with stations to fill your own bottle in order to save the plastic from going to landfills. I also love my non-chemical rose water mist for skin hydration. If you are as fascinated as I am by how dehydrated we get while traveling, I loved this article and this one.

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Go Tech Free

I love reading but often don’t make time for it so I usually try to bring a magazine I haven’t had time to read + my newest book. Bringing a non-electronic entertainment option (how about some adult coloring books or letters you’ve been meaning to write?) is also a good idea for possible delays. Nothing’s worse than fighting over an outlet at the gate when your iPhone dies.  

Don’t wrap gifts

As someone who loves being ahead of the game so that I can fully enjoy myself once I am with my people, this one is hard for me. But, it will help you move quickly through security.

“Wrapped gifts are allowed in both carry-ons and checked luggage, but TSA officials might need to open them during the security inspection, so if you can wait till you get to your destination to wrap, it's probably smarter. Wrapped gifts are less likely to get unwrapped if they're in your checked luggage as opposed to your carry-on, but by all means do not put anything valuable or irreplaceable in checked luggage: If the item is stolen, damaged, or lost, you will have little recourse.” - tip from the CN Traveler.

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Compression Socks for Travel

I can get really stiff calves while traveling so my newest favorite thing is my compression socks. I know I could be getting laughed at on the other side of the screen as you read this because I might sound like an 80-year-old women, but I’m owning it ha. Compression socks have helped me so much! They were created to keep the blood flowing in your legs and the fabric is stitched in a way that creates pressure and prevents deep vein thrombosis. Highly recommended!

For more great tips on travel, I am loving this blog. I hope you have a great holiday season and that all your travels go smoothly!

 

36 hours in Vancouver

This summer, Aaron and I had 36 hours in Vancouver before we boarded our cruise to Alaska. I had never been to Vancouver before, and as you will see in the pictures that follow, I was not going to let this opportunity pass me by without making the most of it.

To maximize our time, we spent most of our 36 hours in Gastown, as we stayed a short 10-minute walk away, but we also made it to Granville Island and the Capilano Suspension Bridge which was so worth it. I don't regret any of it. I highly recommend a visit to Vancouver as it was one of those rare cities that offers both amazing food and culture and time outside exploring. 

Day 1

Tacofino - Gastown

I've had some good tacos in my time (that sounds hilarious coming from a 27-year-old) but Tacofino takes the cake. I also loved how there was a quick service option on one side and then a sit down option on the other side. The creativity was overflowing in this space. I love it when a restaurant wins at quality of food and aesthetics. 

Nelson the Seagull

Keeping up the theme of quality of food and aesthetics, let me introduce you to the most adorable coffeeshop you've ever seen. Meet Nelson the Seagull. Not only was it a beautifully designed space that welcomed you with a big bear hug when you entered, it serves the most incredible avocado toast. Served on their handmade bread, no other avocado toast stands a chance. It's a must when you visit.

And the best part? Tacofino and Nelson the Seagull are a two-minute walk from each other. It's a recipe for a beautiful day!

Frank + Oak

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If you need a break from eating your way through Gastown, you're in luck. Frank + Oak is just across the street from Tacofino. You can read why I love Frank + Oak here.

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Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

After lunch, we went back to the hotel to catch a quick catnap. I’ll admit, it was really hard to get up again but we rallied. We then got on the free Capilano Shuttle and enjoyed a gorgeous 30-minute bus ride from the city out to North Vancouver to the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. It was such a unique experience and we were really glad we rallied and got out of the city to experience this gorgeous part of Vancouver.

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Granville Island

Granville Island was a must see for me as it's gorgeous but also because it's goal is the be a zero waste island. How cool is that?! Granville Island is a peninsula and shopping district that is located across False Creek from Downtown Vancouver. We ate at The Sandbar and it was such a fun experience as it is located under the bridge of Granville Island.

Day 2

Aaron was a bit worn out from our day before (he was the real MVP putting up with my itinerary) so I had a morning to myself, exploring parts of Gastown I hadn't had the chance to see the day before. Coffeeshops are my happy place and make me feel like a local, so I always try to make it to a few local coffeeshops. The final two I got to see in Gastown were Buro Coffee and Timbertrain Coffee.

They both had such friendly staff, beautiful environments where I could have stayed for hours, and excellent coffee — which is what we’re all after at a coffeeshop, right? ;)

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Alley Oop

The last stop on my way back to the hotel before we boarded for our cruise was the incredible Alley Oop. I'm a huge fan of redesigning normal spaces and giving them new purpose and gosh, Alley Oop was no exception. They painted an alleyway and made it into a basketball court, making the alleyway a space for the community to gather. I don't play basketball, but I still soaked up the creativity in this space and was inspired by its theme of #beawesomenow.

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As I made my way back to the hotel, I couldn't help be grateful for our 36 hours in Vancouver. It was short but incredibly inspiring and fun to explore a new place all while making the most of our time there.

There are trips where I choose to rest after arriving to our destination, but with such a tight timeline in Vancouver, I decided sleep would come after we boarded the cruise. I still don't regret taking the time to see just a bit more of the city. If you can go, I highly recommend it and I would love to hear what your favorite parts of Vancouver are!

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A Chicago Apartment Tour

Growing up, Chicago was far away. It was a big adventure to get on a plane and fly to Chicago so it is a bit surreal to live 5 hours away from it now in St. Louis, MO. It’s even more surreal to have some of my very best friends living there who can make the experience feel like home.

After visiting them twice now, I knew I had to document their gorgeous apartment. Not only is it beautiful with all its character and history with its oak doors and hardwood floors, but they have totally made it home for themselves and their guests. They have filled it with so many special possessions that tell a story of where they’ve come from and all who have been a part of their story.

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From a basket full of love notes they wrote to each other while dating long distance, an art print of their wedding vows, or date night cards, their home is filled with so many special items to remind them of the community surrounding them as they pave a way in their new city without friends or family near.

I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I do and I dare you to try not to go out and buy a plant after looking at all of these. My friend is a plant whisperer. Teach me your ways.