Tea Talk .005 (Exciting News!)

October 24, 2016

It may have been a year since my last Tea Talk, but my love for tea and chatting has never waned. I love the open style and freedom of these posts so much, so I thought it would be perfect to chat about our recent home purchase, my slow switch to natural living, and our cat Max!

We're Home Buyers

(It should be easy to tell, but I photoshopped out the company details on our for sale sign and our future neighbor's for sale sign completely. In my opinion, it's never a good idea to advertise the specifics of where you live even if you don't live there yet! Better safe than sorry.)

In my last Tea Talk post I gushed about recently moving in with my boyfriend and all the exciting/difficult changes that come with that. I guess we must still like it each other a great deal because we just bought a house land together! After many months of searching for a home and having zero luck, we decided to build our first home. We scoured the housing market for over six months and saw some pretty unique finds (100 year old house with original wood floors, an updated kitchen, and a beautiful front porch) and some pretty awful ones too (one tiny bathroom, no closets in any of the rooms, and no central heating and air). However, nothing was jumping out and screaming for us to make it our own. For every house that had a major pro, there were a slew of major cons. We eventually found a home that checked most of our boxes, but we got cold feet after seeing the house. It still wasn't the "right" one and I couldn't really see ourselves living there long term. Call it nerves, timing, or intuition, but we walked away from that house and didn't bother looking at another house for over a month.

We were tired of scouring Zillow and Trulia. We were tired of meeting with our realtor only to discover another dead end. We were so tired of stressing over money and down payments. We were tired of bickering over finishes, locations, potential renovations, and what was "really" important to each of us. Needless to say we needed a house hunting break.

Over a month went by and we cautiously began looking again. Things hit an upswing as my boyfriend got a new job and we fell into a better routine. All of the prior stresses and worry began to dissipate when my boyfriend took me out to a cute, upcoming subdivision on the edge of town. A co-worker of his, who was very familiar with the home builders, had recommended that we check the neighborhood out. We went out and toured a model home the building company had on display. Then we took it upon ourselves to tour streets upon streets of empty homes in various stages of completion. I was over the moon with everything I saw and I had a great feeling in my gut about the whole thing.

We had never considered building, determining early on that it was most likely too pricey, overwhelming and would take far too long to complete. We didn't want to mess around with contractors, permits, and city codes. However, we were shown another way that rivaled our beliefs. We found out that by going through the home building company that we could leave the hard work up to the crews and just focus on making the fun decisions like the layout, location, and every single finish in the house. We got to completely customize our future home, which makes me think we will love it so much and be in it for a long time. They break ground on it this month and we will be in shortly after the new year!

In short, we are thrilled and I can't wait to begin blogging more about the home/interior design choices. Trust me, my brain has been swirling with paint colors, couch options, and room arrangements. I have been eagerly collecting inspiration and probably watching too much HGTV for my own good. One blog I've been loving to read amidst all of this has been The DIY Playbook. They make me feel like I can tackle the huge feat of having a stylish home. I'll keep you appropriately posted!

Natural Living

(Some of my favorite new natural products)

I've always been a little "hippy dippy," but this year I feel truly called toward living a more "natural" life. I guess I always knew that products (hair, body, makeup, cleaning, etc etc) were made up of chemicals and unpronounceable ingredients. However, I suppose I never really took time to consider what that actually meant. I thought surely there had to be regulations that would prohibit any unsafe ingredients from finding their way into my shampoo and face wash, right? Well...wrong.

I was exposed to the EWG Database and The Think Dirty App a few months ago via A Beautiful Mess. It was like a record scratch on my brain as I started reading more and more about chemicals and FDA regulations. I suddenly became so intrigued by the products in my own cabinet and desperately wanted to know more about the ingredients in each. I downloaded the Think Dirty app and started scanning, cringing with every "bad" result as I scanned the contents of my bathroom cabinet.

Initially, I rolled my eyes at the "bad" products and thought to myself, Okay, "fragrance" is bad?! It's in everything! People are too worried over nothing and are so overly cautious these days. The more research I did, the more discouraged I became. All of my tried and true products, the ones I had labored to find amongst thousands of other products lining the shelves, suddenly felt poisonous. It was like hearing the news that I would have to go on a strict diet of vegetables after living a life on cake, donuts, and ice-cream. The real kicker for me was when I scanned my latest face wash purchase. It had pretty packaging, rave reviews, boasted 80% organic ingredients, and worked well - but it rated a solid 9/10 on toxicity. How could this be? I felt totally duped!

Then, I got angry. I couldn't believe that I had been putting toxic ingredients onto my body day after day for years - no, my whole life - and no one had bothered to clue me so that I could make an educated choice. My pricey shampoo rated horribly, in addition to my toothpaste, cleanser, leave-in conditioner, toner, self-tanner, my eye-cream, most of my makeup and my favorite expensive body butter. It was a scalding realization that even the "high-end" products contained some of the worst ingredients of the bunch. For example, my $40 Kiehls Creme de Corps had rated a solid 10/10 while my $8 Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara had only garnered a 6/10. I fought the urge to trash everything immediately since I definitely don't have the immediate cash on hand to replace my entire beauty and toiletry collection in one fell swoop. Instead, I started slowly and did a TON of research along the way about ingredients and eco-friendly brands.

Learning the green beauty / eco-friendly market is just as tough as learning the normal range of products. Just like in conventional product lines there are high end and lower end versions of green beauty. Some products have better ingredients than others. Certain products are more or less toxic than others. Products that work for you, may not work for others. It can be time consuming, confusing, and involve a lot of trial and error. Let's just say I've made a lot of visits to Whole Foods and Natural Grocers in the past few months to sample products in store.

If you're interested in learning more about Natural Living / Green Beauty here are some links I've found especially helpful:

Dirty List & Clean List From Beauty Lies Truth
Skin Cleanse by Adina Grigore
EWG Database
Think Dirty App
A Beautiful Mess's Archive of Clean Living Posts
Laura's Natural Life
The Organic Bunny

So far, I've replaced my face cleanser, makeup remover, night cream, toothpaste, shampoo, and foundation. Next up, I'll be replacing mascara, concealer, deodorant, general soap, house cleaners, and detergent. I'm hoping to write a post soon detailing the products I'm most eager to try! Stay tuned...

Meet Max, The Cat

(I may be biased, but he's the cutest thing in the whole world)

I don't think I've ever formally introduced this mischievous ball of fur here on the blog, but better late than never! Meet Max, our outdoor/indoor kitty with a big heart. Max came to us last October in the most unexpected fashion. My boyfriend was laying on the couch, taking a nap when a mid-sized orange and white kitty hopped into our window and meowed to the point of him waking up. My boyfriend was slightly startled, but immediately snapped a picture and greeted the kitty. It soon became apparent that Max was an abandoned stray kitty roaming our apartment complex. We figured he had an owner, but after days of stalking around the complex we began to worry. Pair this fact with the fact that he didn't have a collar and we were pretty sold that a former tenant had left him behind. You could tell he had grown up with an owner because of his mannerisms, which were a bit more dog-like than cat-like. He didn't fear humans in the least. In fact, he would walk right up to anyone and then proceed to meow until petted. He was and still is the most vocal kitty I know.

We took mercy on him and bought a tiny can of cat food to put outside our door. Despite the fact that I had never owned cat / never wanted one, I had the softest spot in my heart for this kitty. It wasn't long before neighbors a building over confirmed our suspicions that Max had been left behind because they were also feeding him. My heart broke for him. Who wouldn't want such a sweet kitty? Slowly, we let him into the apartment and began interacting more with him. We decided pretty easily that we should name him "Max." The more days that went by, the more we formed a bond with him. We quickly discovered that he loved being petted, snuggled, and played with. He loved to sleep in our laps and at the end of our bed. He began coming to our door and windows frequently. We got into a routine of calling for him (since it was obvious his first love was outdoor adventures) and him coming in to eat, play, and sleep.

In January, after months of caring for him, we decided it was time for a vet visit to formally "claim" him and for him to get updated on his shots. We were curious to know his age and the status of his health. We found out he was barely one years old and perfectly healthy. Our hearts grew bigger and have only continued to do so for the past year. It feels surreal to believe he's been in our lives for an entire year! He will also be making the move with us once the new house is built. I'm apprehensive about moving him from his home turf, but he's our forever pet and a permanent part of the family now. We honestly couldn't have picked a better companion for us if we had tried.


I know that was a to catch up on! So, enough about me. What have you been up to? Any exciting news or thing you're loving? Tell me all about it!

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