The Best All Natural Hack for Allergies

It’s Earth Day today, meaning I saved this post especially for today because….THEMES. So if you’re like me, springtime rolls around and instead of frolicking in the fields and sunshine you hide inside your house because pollen is actually trying to kill you. I’ve been sneezing and congested all week! It’s debilitating at times not to mention I absolutely HATE taking medicine. I don’t know anyone who does but I will do anything to avoid it. Which is why I was so happy to learn this hack!

 

When I was living in New Hampshire, back in 2014, I was performing six days a week. My allergies were hindering my ability to sing, dance, and ultimately exist. I hated it! I was taking Zyrtec every day and feeling so drowsy. One weekend I went to the local farmers market with some friends and I came across a stand selling local honey from a bee farm. I love using honey as an all-natural sweetener so as I was chatting with the farmer and mentioning how the pollen here was so bad. He immediately laughed and told me this hack that I’m still using four years later.

 

He recommended eating a tablespoon of local honey every day. Local honey helps aid in allergies by acclimating your body to local pollens in the air. So a honey made from California is going to contain different pollens than the ones you’d find in New York. It’s essentially an all natural allergy shot and let me tell you it works! I eat organic raw honey from my local farmers market in NYC or I purchase it from whole foods. Pasteurized honey does not contain any pollen so raw and locally sourced is key!

 

The benefits of raw honey, however, aren’t just limited to allergies. Raw honey is great for your skin! I use it in my homemade body wash and it’s done wonders for me. It’s an antioxidant powerhouse. Plus so many other benefits which you can read more about here. I highly recommend keeping raw honey as a staple in your pantry. Unfortunately, Bee’s are currently on the decline. Honeybee colonies have slowly started to decline over the last few decades due to pesticides, industrial agriculture, parasites and climate change. Bee’s are responsible for pollinating our earth and promoting biodiversity. Which is why it’s so important to support ecological farming and supporting politicians with this same goal in mind.

 

Have you tried this hack? If you have any questions leave a comment down below!

 

unnamed.jpgHappy Earth Day,

Riss

 

DIY Body Scrub for Smooth and Cellulite-Free Skin

If you’re anything like me and are counting down the days until summer, you’ve probably started to panic about your summer body (or lack thereof much like myself.) My body may be a work in progress, however, my skin is always ready with this incredibly easy body scrub. I’ve been using this recipe for YEARS and not only is my skin incredibly smooth but my stretch marks have nearly vanished and my skin is super firm.

Now, there is no way to banish cellulite and “thigh jiggle” without exercise and a healthy diet but the caffeine in this scrub reduces the appearance of dimples and divets by stimulating blood flow which aids in collagen production thus leading to a visibly tighter and firmer texture. Recently, you may have seen caffeine appearing in eye creams and facial products meaning not only does it work but you can use this scrub on your face too. Grapefruit essential oil is my other miracle ingredient that helps to firm the skin and provide healthy antioxidants. “Toxin buildup and fluid retention create cellulite in fat cells. When toxins are not flushed out of the body, they accumulate in cells. Grapefruit oil flushes out the free radicals that create cellulite.” For even better results, or if you’re just as extra as I am, try dry brushing. Dry brushing promotes healthy blood circulation, rejuvenates the nervous system, reduces cellulite, exfoliates, helps define muscle tone, unclogs pores, and gives you a boost of energy.  Just always be sure to brush towards your heart and counter-clockwise on your stomach (helps with digestion.)

 

I use this scrub three times a week but you can use it more or less depending on your skin type. I would suggest no more than four times a week as over exfoliating can actually damage your skin. For best results, I always recommend using organic products.

DIY Coffee Scrub

 

1 cup of Ground Coffee

  • Don’t use instant coffee. I use leftover coffee grounds from my morning coffee. The caffeine does absorb into your bloodstream, however, I use this at night and find it has no effect on me although I am an avid coffee consumer.

1 cup Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

  • Liquid or solid form is fine but you can use any carrier oil of your choice. In the summertime, I use grapeseed oil.

15 – 30 drops of Grapefruit Essential Oil

  • You can get creative and add other oils like tea tree or lemon. Grapefruit is an energizing essential oil so it’s great for morning showers. Again, I use it before bed and find it doesn’t hinder my nighttime routine.

 

Have you tried a coffee scrub before or have a different variation to this recipe? I’d love to hear it! Let me know in the comments below or ask any question you might have about beauty or skincare.

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Xoxo,

Riss

 

How to Find Out What Vaccines You Need Before Vacation

I posted this “travel tip of the week” on my Insta stories but since this tip is an important one I thought it was worth mentioning on the blog. To be honest, this is the first time before a vacation I’ve gotten all my vaccines and shots. I usually just take my chances, however, since I’ll be traveling to Africa and malaria is very prevalent I decided to take my chances with the doctor this time. Unfortunately, this past week I caught a bad virus and the antibiotics would have made my current vaccines and medicines less effective so I had to let the virus pass on its own. So, that’s why I’ve been quiet on social media lately. After chatting with my doctor I found out before going to any country you should check the CDC website, Center Disease Control. From there, you can search your exact destination and the CDC will provide you with their recommendations for vaccines and medications. Some vaccines and medications need to be taken in advance so best to check the website first and book an appointment with your doctor as soon as your destination is picked. Some destinations might not require any vaccines, however, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. With that being said, travel insurance is always a good idea!

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Happy Traveling,

Riss

How To Take Your St. Patrick’s Day To The Next Level

Call it the luck of the Irish but St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Saturday this year! So for all you Irish natives and wannabes, you can raise a glass knowing you won’t have to begrudgingly trek into work the next day. Although I am Irish, the thought of heading to a much too crowded pub in New York City is actually what my nightmares are made of. Of course, when I say nightmare I’m referring to waiting in line forever for the restroom and getting a beer spilled on me by someone yelling, “Kiss me, I’m Irish.” True Story. So I’ll be choosing to spend my time elsewhere this Saturday, however, if you still want to celebrate but feel the same way check out these articles I wrote or CBS. From hosting your own celebration to celebrating somewhere other than the local pub, I’ve got you covered. Most of these articles were inspired by my trip to Dublin and the Irish countryside. Enjoy.

5 Ways To Take Your St. Patrick’s Day Celebration To The Next Level

 

DIY Tips For The Perfect St. Patrick’s Day Party

 

5 Recipes For Awesome St. Patrick’s Day Drinks

 

5 Irish Cocktail Recipes

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day,

Riss

 

Three Tips for Better Breath

Recent Harvard studies show that when someone offers you a mint, it’s not to be nice but rather a passive way to hint that yo breath stanks. Okay, so that’s not actually a true study, however, it should be because I am a subtle hint mint peddler. Bad breath is unpleasant, unattractive, and it’s killing your social skills. However, all is not lost, with these three simple tricks, you could totally change the overall health of your mouth with just a little effort. Of course, the utmost basic steps for a healthy mouth are brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing daily, and getting a cleaning every six months.

 

So what causes bad breath? Bad breath is caused by a build-up of bacteria in the mouth. According to WebMD, “If you don’t brush and floss teeth daily, food particles can remain in your mouth, promoting bacterial growth between teeth, around the gums, and on the tongue.” Which is why brushing, flossing, and cleanings are so important. However, even with the basics, bad breath can still occur. So here are my three tips for better breath and an overall healthier mouth…

Oil Pulling

If you haven’t heard of oil pulling you’ve been missing out! Oil pulling is the process of swishing oil around to detox your mouth. What are the benefits? Coconut oil is said to detoxify by pulling out impurities and bacteria that over time build up in the mouth. It eliminates bad breath bacteria, whitens teeth, reduces inflammation, soothes sore throats, prevents cavities, heals dry cracked lips, strengthens gums, and more. It’s recommended to do in the morning before even brushing your teeth but occasionally I skip this when I’m in a rush. So, if you do it mid-day or before bed, that’s okay too. I like to oil pull while I’m in the shower or getting ready. Plus it’s easy. You take a tablespoon amount of extra virgin coconut oil, swirl it around your mouth for 10-15 minutes, spit it out (in the garbage), brush teeth as normal.  You can do this 3-5 times a week, I typically do more than that but I’m OBSESSED with having good oral hygiene. So oil pull to your heart’s content. This is the coconut oil I use, Trader Joe’s Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil.

 

Alcohol-Free Mouth Wash

No, Listerine is not alcohol-free. Why does that matter? Well, recent studies in the medical field have revealed that mouthwash containing alcohol can actually cause bad breath. Alcohol is a drying agent which means even a small amount can dry out your mouth making it ineffective at flushing out bacteria. Do you brush your teeth before bed and wake up in the morning to find that you have “morning breath?” You didn’t eat anything and your teeth are clean so how is this possible? Sleeping with your mouth open or in a room without proper humidity causes dry mouth which then leads to airborne bacteria that multiplies and causes a bad case of funky breath. Which is why you can find my humidifier and essential oil diffuser all the way up every night. However, I live in a pre-war apartment in NYC with an old heating system so I still have dry mouth in the AM every now and then. Most of the mouthwash products you buy at the local drugstore contain alcohol and even other harsh chemicals like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) which is used in ACT mouthwash to create a foaming effect similar to toothpaste. They do this so that you associate the foam to toothpaste and think, “It must be working.” However, this too is actually causing you to have dry mouth and has been known to cause microscopic damage to the lining of oral tissue, aka canker sores. My favorite mouthwash is TheraBreath Fresh Breath Dentist Formulated Oral Rinse. This stuff works and there’s absolutely no burning sensation like the classic Listerine flavors. Most mainstream drugstores now sell TheraBreath but if you can’t find it there’s always Amazon.

 

Tounge Scraping

Is this reaaaaal extra? Yes, but it works! Do yourself a favor and go to the closest mirror and look at your tongue right now. What color is it? Is it white, grey, or even a little yellowish? It’s covered with, you guessed it, bacteria! Yuck. Your tongue should be a pale pink or light reddish hue. Your dentist will tell you to brush your tongue but do yourself a favor and just TRY a tongue scraper. I’ve been tongue scrapping for years and I will never forget my first time seeing layers of a white film come off my tongue.  The appearance of a white coating is caused by debris, bacteria and dead cells getting lodged between the enlarged and sometimes inflamed papillae, fingerlike projections (papillae) on the surface of your tongue. After a few scrapes (think long brush strokes from the back to the front, rinse clean, repeat) your tongue will be unrecognizable, in a good way. I got mine from whole foods but a great option is Dr. Tung’s Tongue Cleaner, Stainless Steel. Stainless steel works best and is preferred over plastic and copper versions.

 

Do you already practice some of these tips? Did you learn something you didn’t know before? Do you have any questions? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear your feedback. If you have any other great tips please share! I love learning and trying new things. That’s all for now!

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Xoxo,

Riss

 

 

Swimming with Sharks in the Bahamas

The One With the Bloody Nose

Yup, you read that right! No better time to get a bloody nose than when you’re scuba diving with over 40 sharks. Earlier in the summer, I had two sinus infections as well as an ear infection. When you’re scuba diving and you descend deeper into the ocean, you have to equalize the pressure build up from your sinus cavities by popping your ears. Similar to what you experience when you descend on an airplane. The nosebleed was most likely caused by my left ear’s inability to equalize. Obviously, I made it through the experience in one piece but what I came away with was something far more valuable than just another log in my dive book. I finished my second dive, at Stuart Cove’s Dive, with a whole new outlook on a beautiful creature that once upon a time I feared to no end. When I think about it, in every shark movie I’ve ever seen, the tiniest scratch of blood will turn any shark into a cold-blooded killing machine. While it is true that some sharks have killed before, it may be possible that these massive creatures are just severely misunderstood.

So let’s look at some facts about the Carribean Reef Shark…

“While it is considered dangerous to humans, this shark does not have a history of attacks on humans.”

“Although laws ban the hunting or fishing of this species, the fishing industry in South America still finds these sharks in about 40% of their fish catch. While the catches are unintended, there has still been a drastic impact on the population and the population continues to dwindle.”

When we look at facts about sharks as a populous…

“The odds of getting attacked and killed by a shark are 1 in 3,748,067. In a lifetime, you are more likely to die from fireworks, lightning, drowning, a car accident, or heart disease.”

“There are 70 to 100 shark attacks worldwide every year, 5 to 15 result in death.”

“Over 100 million sharks are taken every year by humans. That is approximately 11,000 sharks killed every hour.”

In conclusion, these beautiful creatures are being hunted to the point of extinction. Without sharks, the ocean’s ecosystem will collapse. With no large predators to monitor the fish population, the ocean’s plankton will, in theory, go extinct as well. Scientists believe that phytoplankton is responsible for creating 50 to 85 percent of the world’s oxygen. These tiny ocean plants use photosynthesize – that is, they use sunlight and carbon dioxide to make food. A byproduct of photosynthesis is oxygen. So for every other breath you take, you can thank these tiny ocean plants.

My hope is that by watching this video you’ll see just how majestic these creatures are and why they’re worthy of our protection. The dive master, Evan (who you can see feeding the sharks in the video), explains that not only do the sharks remember the boats that belong to Stuart’s Cove, but they also remember the dive masters. I witnessed one shark snuggle under his arm and sit on his lap waiting to be pet, just like a dog. The sharks are naturally inquisitive of you and their eyes will move and follow you, meaning they show signs of curiosity and intelligence.  You may even notice some of the sharks have scars and scratches from hooks used and left by fishing boats. I managed to get one close up of a shark who they’ve dubbed, “The Joker,” after the sides of his mouth were altered from embedded hooks. Once every few month’s, the dive masters will remove these hooks in their efforts to conserve and protect these species. I would rate my experience and satisfaction with Stuart Cove’s Dive a 10/10 and would highly recommend.

 

Thank you, Stuart Cove’s Dive!

Riss

Three Tips for Healthier and Longer Hair

The number one question I get asked daily, besides how do I travel with no money, is how do you grow your hair so long?  It looks so healthy, do you get it cut every six weeks? The short answer to that question is no. I just recently got a haircut and my hairdresser mentioned to me that it had been ten months since my last cut. TEN! Typically I cut my hair every six months but sometimes life happens, you know? What about the dead ends you might ask?  I keep my ends healthy with three simple tricks but first, let’s examine the every six weeks haircut myth.

I invite you to look back at a time when the world was obsessed with “The Rachel” haircut from friends. Jennifer Aniston’s hairdresser revealed that he trimmed her hair every six weeks religiously. Since Jennifer Aniston was hair goals, this became the status quo for haircuts. After some extensive research and my own personal experience, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this. If you have a specific hairstyle or short hair and want to maintain a certain look definitely get a trim every 6 weeks. However, if it’s length you seek, we have to look at some basic facts.

When you think about growing your hair, length isn’t really a factor since hair grows from the scalp. The average person’s hair grows about a quarter of an inch to an inch per month. So, if you trim your hair every six weeks you’re not giving your hair enough time to grow. This is why keeping your ends healthy is so important! I’d recommend getting a haircut once every two and a half to three months for starters. Then, once you incorporate this routine and remove excess dead ends you’ll be able to prolong the cut longer and longer each time.

So without further ado here are my three tips for keeping your ends healthy…

Deep Condition

Once a week, take an extra 10 minutes in the shower and treat yo self. A deep conditioning hair mask will add some much-needed moisture to your strands. Your hair gets easily dried out by heat from various elements, blow dryers, and any other styling products you may use. I like using the Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Deep Conditioning Mask.

Hair Oil

I didn’t learn this trick until much later in life but hair oil should be your hairs new best friend. There’s a reason why in recent years Moroccan Oil and various other lines all came out with hair oils, they work! Organic is best in my opinion. I personally make my own hair oil but you can easily purchase one at your local drugstore these days, Sephora, or a salon. When applying the oil, apply from the ears down and avoid your roots as a greasy scalp can look less than appealing. You can always use dry shampoo if you get a little heavy-handed. Your ideal oil will absorb into your strands and leave a light residue of shine.

Hair Mask

When I say hair mask I’m not referring to the same deep conditioning mask as before. A hair mask is for when you’ve been curling and blow drying your hair multiple times in a week repeatedly. Our bodies are actually great storytellers and if you know what to look for you can read the signs. For me, when I use a lot of heat my hair starts to resemble a pile of hay. It gets really dry and it seems that no matter what I do I can’t achieve that enviable Victoria Secret straight off the runway flowy goddess vibe. A hair mask will fix this quick. If you visit your salon a glaze or a gloss would be the equivalent, however, if you’re boujie on a budget, like me, a DIY is the perfect remedy. There’s plenty of DIY’s out there but my personal favorite is organic carrot juice! Carrot juice contains vitamin A which is super hydrating. Leaning over the tub, I drench my hair with juice, wrap it in a shower cap with a towel around my shoulders (sometimes the juice will leak out), and let it sit for 20 minutes. Then wash it out, let it air dry, and enjoy your noticeably softer and shinier new hair! I do this once a month but once every two months works just as well too. Be sure to test a small patch on a small amount of hair first.

Let me know if you have any questions or any other great hair tips! I love learning new tricks. Also, if you try these tips and love them let me know in the comments below.

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Xoxo,

Riss

The Ultimate Valentine’s Day Roundup

Panicking for last-minute V-Day Ideas? I got you covered. From date ideas to DIY gifts to a delicious home cooked meal there’s a little something for everyone. Then on Thursday, we can celebrate the real holiday. You know, when all the candy at CVS goes on sale for 50% off. One time a CVS worker joked with me about how you could buy the candy half off now and save it for next year, HAHA. If you don’t want to be single for Valentine’s Day in 2019 I would advise against this. Regardless, wishing all you love birds a very happy Valentine’s Day!

 

The Best Free Valentine’s Date Idea in NYC

Valentine’s Day Dinner for Two

DIY Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas to Make for Your Loved Ones

Valentine’s Day Activities for Singles

Romantic Valentine’s Day Destinations

 

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(Photo of myself and my Galentine’s Day bestie, Brittany, on a beach in Norway under the Northern Lights. Our attempt at a heart, haha.)

 

XOXO,

Riss

The Best Free Valentine’s Date Idea in NYC

If you live or have ever visited NYC, you know that it’s one of the greatest cities in the world. However, in addition to being one of the greatest cities, it’s also one of the most expensive. Between rent, Ubers, and your seamless bill, a holiday that’s centered around celebrating your loved one via overpriced meals and novelty teddy bears can easily put a strain on any financial plan. Mix it up this year by taking your significant other to the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park. Bryant Park is the only free admission ice skating rink in NYC making it a great budget-friendly v-day spot. You can rent skates for a small fee or bring your own for free. Skating under the NYC skyline is not only romantic, it’s also fun!

Of course, after you work up an appetite you can stop by the Winter Village Eatery, Public Fare, for some casual cuisine and cocktails. Just be sure to save room for dessert as you indulge your sweet tooth at DŌ, Cookie Dough Confections. DŌ’s cookie dough concoctions are easily the most Instagrammed dessert of 2017 with their first store opening in NYC hosting lines that seem to be a mile long. In other words, it’s really really good. I’d say it’s the perfect way to end Valentine’s day.

 

 

Wishing all you lovebirds a Happy V-Day!

Riss

 

Super Bowl Sunday Party Recipes

The biggest football game of the year is almost here! I wrote this article for CBS in November but these easy to make recipes are relevant all season long. My personal favorite is my jalapeno bacon guacamole. My family is addicted and threatens to uninvite me to Christmas, yes Christmas, if I don’t bring it. They wouldn’t really do it but I think we can all agree guac is life! Plus seven other recipes that are just as good. Make your Superbowl the party of the year this upcoming Sunday. Who are you rooting for to win this year?

You can find the CBS article here.

8 Dishes to Enjoy While Watching Football

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Happy Super Bowl Sunday,

Riss