Organic Living (on a Budget!)

Clean eating and do-it-yourself tips from a newly married couple's persepective

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How We Stay Organized in One Small Townhouse

Gooooood afternoon! I hope wherever you are, it’s not rainy and gloomy like Central Florida is today. Yucky! Unless you like rainy and gloomy, of course 😉 Today I’ve been laying low and grinding out a lab report (last assignment before Spring Break officially starts! Woohoo!). Perfect rainy day “activity,” I suppose.


This was my morning…last minute pre-lab writing, and a nice rainshower (no umbrella with me!) to start the day. It only got better when I arrived at lab and had to wait 45 minutes for a solution we made to evaporate down to 20 ml (sarcasm). Glad that’s over!

The past week I’ve been slowly moving in to my fiance’s townhouse to prepare for the “big move-in day” when we start to live together–aka Wedding Day, aka SATURDAY! He’s been so kind to let me slowly but surely “take over” his place with my stuff and reorganize everything some things. My favorite spot is definitely my little reading room/office downstairs.






It’s close enough to the kitchen that I can snack at a moment’s notice (Snofrisk spreadable goat cheese is on sale at Whole Foods! We stocked up for my snacking impulses 😉 ), far enough from the TV that I can’t hear it when I’m reading/studying/writing. And the natural light! I’m in heaven ❤

But the problem with combining two lives in one small townhouse is you run out of room fast. I’ve had to get creative and realllly stay on top of cleaning to make all our stuff fit. Here are some of the ways I’ve made it work:

1. Handle mail only once.

4 stack of letters


If you don’t, this happens ^ on every flat surface in your little townhouse…like the dining table. And coffee table. And desk. Kinda makes it hard to eat, work, or put your feet up 😉 So when I get the mail, I choose “trash” or “keep” during my initial look-through,  and if it’s “keep,” I file it/take action as necessary right away.

2. Take it one room at a time.


We took a day to “makeover” the bedroom, and added a dresser for me and two new lamps. The whole day was set aside for assembling the new stuff, cleaning out the nightstand I’ll be using (which was extra “storage” previously), cleaning the top of his dresser, dusting the bedroom, and vacuuming the carpet. Breaking down the huge task of moving in down to one room per day made it much more manageable.

3. Create a cleaning schedule

Cleaning schedule

I created a schedule of some of the “bigger” chores around the house, dividing them by days of the week. This way, none of those annoying really important cleaning jobs get put off more than a week. Also, I don’t get that “where do I even start?” feeling on the weekends, where everything used to pile up because I hadn’t cleaned anything during the week. On days when I have more time, I do bigger jobs like cleaning the bathrooms. Doing the laundry and cleaning the wood floors downstairs don’t take long, as long as I’m home for a big enough chunk of time to do those multi-step jobs, I can study or write in between steps.

4. Put things back where you got them


(this was from when I was moving out of my old bedroom…no, I did not normally just drop everything on my bed when I got home at night!)

This tip is HUGE. If, for example, I bring home a lunchbox, empty coffee cup, purse, notebook, and iPad from class every day and drop everything on the coffee table, it will inevitably stay there. But if I take a few minutes to put each item away immediately upon arriving home, the table stays clean plus I always know where to find my stuff. Otherwise, it gets buried under the stuff I bring home the next day, and so on.

What are your organizing tips for small spaces?

Leave a comment and let me know!

❤ Gina



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Thrifting for pennies

Hello! Long time no see 🙂 With classes starting, planning a wedding (!), and having two jobs, life is BUSY right now! But I (can) thrive on busy-ness (when I get a little downtime now and then)! Yesterday was some of that downtime I needed. After training at the gym in the morning and doing a quick core circuit with another trainer, my sister and I headed to a continuing education series on essential oils. This week’s class was on how essential oils work with our body systems.

Did you know lime oil aids absorption of iron? And rubbing DigestZen (a blend for tummy issues) clockwise in the front of the stomach as well as counterclockwise on the lower back is more effective than randomly applying to the stomach? Pretty cool!

After the class, we had a date with one of our favorite thrift stores! Plato’s Closet is a great place to find brand-name clothes for cheeeeap. Check out some of the pieces I found and the prices!

Platos closet finds

(yes, those are LUCKY jeans! And that shirt was only $0.87! Doesn’t get much better than that)

Our next stop was Marshalls. I heard from another trainer at my gym that they had great deals on workout gear. She was so right! I tried on 8 pairs of pants…I wanted to buy them all but settled for 3. Next paycheck 😉

Color flower Marshalls running pants

Pink Marshalls running pants

Black Rose Marshalls running pants

I didn’t know this before, but Marshalls has a weekly sweepstakes on their FB page where anyone who shares a pic of their “fab finds” and tags it with #fabfound on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook is entered to win a $50 gift card! Don’t forget to snap a pic and enter the contest if you’ve been shopping at Marshalls lately 🙂

Lastly, I have to brag on this soup. It’s based on Oh She Glows’ Vegan Tortilla Soup. Obviously, there aren’t tortillas in mine (I made some and dipped them in the soup the first night I made it. I didn’t want them to stay in the whole batch and get soggy), but the veggie/bean flavor combo in there is perfect comfort food for chilly winter days.


Be back later with a post on grounding for pain and inflammation reduction, and pics of my new grounding mat! ❤


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I finished my last final exam and turned in my term paper today at 11:40am! I’ve been in school so long, I forget what it’s like to be myself! I’m a completely different person when school is out–no stress, I don’t feel guilty for spending time doing “nothing,” I go out and have fun with friends…I am really looking forward to the end of next semester, when I graduate with my B. S.! Literally, the moment I left the exam this morning, my world changed. I’m waiting for my brain to start working again and list all the books I’m going to read during the next 3 weeks…that’s literally what I wait for all semester long!

I was up past midnight last night finishing up my paper on Major Depressive Disorder for my biomed physics class. It’s a fascinating topic, but not at midnight. At that point, staring at the inside of my eyelids was all I wanted to do. I got up at 6:30am to finish it then headed to my exam at 9. It was a 10-question exam but it took me an hour and 40 minutes! And I was the second person to finish in class. Yikes. My hand was getting tired from all that writing. It was so gloomy this morning I thought winter had actually arrived. But by the time I stepped out of the classroom, it was bright and sunny again! Good try, Florida skies. At least I can keep my bedroom window open today! That’s a sure sign something is right with the weather.


Let’s be glad it’s so bright we can’t see how dirty the window is, K? 😉

First up after my exam was LUNCH. In the dead quiet of the exam classroom, my stomach was growling! Embarrassing! I made a simple sandwich with spicy mustard, homemade pickles (my boyfriend makes the BEST, even though he’s never tried them and he doesn’t like pickles…), ham, turkey, and cheddar. I grilled it to crisp up the gluten-free bread (the kind we get is pretty fragile).


And now I’m enjoying a cup of hot tea (something fancy & fruity from Teavana, I made it at my boyfriend’s house before I left) as I decide whether I should pack for my cruise on Monday or read a book. Hmmm.

TTYL! ❤ Gina

Currently loving:

The Jazz24 app! I discovered this radio station from Seattle online during my freshman year. It’s written my college papers with me ever since.


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Healthy Holiday Tips + Pantry Challenge

For a few days, I’ve started the morning with a cup of hot green tea with lemon before breakfast. I think of it as a gentle post-Thanksgiving detox. I was feeling so bloated after the holiday–I didn’t eat too much, but everything was high in sodium and fat, so it felt like I ate a ton! The tea has been really helping me feel lighter and slimmer again.

Want to know what I do to make sure the holidays stay healthy and I don’t un-do all my hard work at the gym?

1. Follow the 80/20 rule. Eat healthy, whole foods 80% of the time, but indulge and enjoy things that are usually off-limits 20% of the time. If eating healthy is a lifestyle, a few days out of the year are not going to ruin your weight loss goals in the long run.

2. Sample everything you’d like to try at the holiday dinner table. If your hostess insists you eat more, let her know overeating makes your stomach ache and you want to be able to try everything she made without being uncomfortable the rest of the day. This way you can taste everything, but still keep your meal on the lower-calorie side.

This pic is before the food made it into the dishes, but you get the idea…there was wayyy too much food going on! I somehow didn’t get a pic after the food was ready… hmm.


did get a picture of the pies! Pumpkin and apple, plus we had brownies too (my mom’s hybrid brownie Can’t Leave Alone Bars)


3. Exercise the morning before the big meal! My brother and I went running before Thanksgiving dinner, and like always it upped my appetite and made me feel much better about indulging. This is a semi-tradition in our family, my sister has gone running with me before Thanksgiving dinner a couple times too. I’m sure somebody will go with me every year 🙂 We might go on Christmas morning too, after the presents are opened!


4. Enjoy being with your family. Life isn’t about weight loss, eating, and looking good. It’s about love. Feeling guilty about overeating all day isn’t worth it when you could be relaxing and enjoying the company of great-aunt Louise and the cousins who are visiting from out-of-town.


That’s my little brother, Clay, my sister, Vanessa, and me.

5. Eat lighter, but not less after the big day. Yes, your body still needs food after you’ve overeaten. No, that doesn’t mean you should have leftover pie the next day for breakfast. But having a bowl of oats or some eggs and a veggie hash is necessary. No need to starve yourself after indulging…that will just confuse your body. Return to your normal, healthy diet on December 26th.

Speaking of December 26th…that brings up the Pantry Challenge.  At the fitness club I work at, we’re encouraging members to makeover their pantries the day after Christmas as the first step toward having a healthy new year and finally losing the weight they’ve been trying to for so long. It all starts in the kitchen, folks. We are what we eat. Where did you think your skin comes from?? Every 4 months (120 days) our entire body is “reconstructed” from whatever we’ve eaten during that time. And we all know by now that 100 calories from a doughnut look nothing like 100 calories from a chicken breast or a salad with dark leafy greens.

The trainers at the club are going to bring in empty containers of their favorite pantry staples to show members what to replace their usual pantry items with–since the first part of the challenge involves throwing away all the stuff that isn’t doing them any favors (like those chocolate kisses you made cookies with for Christmas, or the genetically modified microwave popcorn).

So I want to extend the challenge here on the blog, and add a twist–let’s makeover our pantries on a budget. Set aside whatever you’d like to spend on some healthy staples want in your pantry and stick to that budget. I’ll be doing the same, and posting as December 26th approaches with some of my favorite pantry items. Deal? Deal.

Here are the rules:

Email me a pic of your “before” pantry, or instagram it @eclecticflgirl

Post in the comments on my “after” pantry post with new, healthy items you put in your pantry and let us know how far under your budget you were. You can let us know how much it cost too, if you want.

I can’t wait to see your pantries “after”! I hope we can all get some good ideas from each other and try some new foods in the process. Remember, I’ll be posting “after” food ideas for you as we approach December 26th 🙂

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(Not) A Lazy Sunday

Good morning! I had a late start to the morning, but this girl is on fire! LOL I’ve cleaned the kitchen and living room already, and have big plans to work on a powerpoint and handouts for my team’s business training this Tuesday night (I have my own business educating and empowering young women and moms to improve their health and finances with doTERRA Essential Oils, and a huge part of that is mentoring/training my team of other product consultants). Right now I’m enjoying a plain latte with skim milk…mmm!



On a totally unrelated note, my 42 days to fitness are halfway gone! I can’t believe it. I’m so ready to finish this semester and get aboard our cruise ship! Just another 21 days to wait! 

My workouts have been going really well. I need to keep changing up the reps/sets to prevent a plateau. Yesterday my sister and I did 30-12-8-30 (reps) for biceps, triceps, and shoulders, and my arms were burning! They were exhausted by the end. Here’s the workout we did:

30-12-8-30 reps, increasing weight until you get back to 30 reps, then go light again:

Hammer bicep curls w/cable

Skull crushers on ball w/barbell

One arm lateral raises w/cable 


AMRAP (as many reps as possible) 1 minute:

Barbell bicep curls

Tricep press w/cable

Shoulder press w/cable


My diet, on the other hand, still needs some work. I’ve been better than before, but not perfect by any means. I see more salads in my future…it’s only 21 days, right? I can do this 😉 Here are some of my meals/snacks from last week, my new (short!) hair cut, and a wild onion that was left alone for too long in the dark…











TTYL! ❤ Gina

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42 Days to Fitness

I’ve finally settled on a new fitness goal with a measurable time frame to achieve it by! So that title isn’t exactly true…yesterday there were 42 days left until my cruise (!!) so today there are technically 41 days to hit my fitness goal: 15% body fat and visible abs of steel! Six weeks is the perfect amount of time to get where I want to be, since I’m at 18.5-19% BF now and I have a LOT of room to clean up my diet. Read: no more homemade ice cream sandwiches every other night, and no more excuses for not having salad with that dinner.

Since I started reading Wheat Belly a few days ago, I’ve decided to go mostly gluten-free for the upcoming 6 weeks, and maybe forever. Sticking to that will be a huge part of reaching my goal for the cruise, since gluten raises blood sugar and causes visceral fat to build up around our organs (conveniently located in the abdominal region), getting rid of it will help define my abs and the rest of my body.

Honestly the last two days haven’t been hard. I haven’t had to do much differently, just added in a dose of healthy discipline to my snacking habit and pushed myself a little harder at the gym. Setting a purpose for my workouts and the food I eat is what I was missing before–the motivation and focus I have now just because I set a clear, measurable goal is amazing. “Losing weight” or “toning up” is something I hear my personal training clients tell me when I ask what their goals are, and that just doesn’t cut it. Those are way too ambiguous to instill any kind of drive or commitment to make the right choice when the alarm clock goes off at 5am for a workout, or when those bagels in the snack room at work are calling your name. But put a date on the calendar and a number you want to see on the scale and it WILL make things happen!

If you’re struggling with your weight or health, don’t be afraid to step out the door and go for a run. Go to the gym and lift weights. Find a sport you love and train hard at it. But think about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it first. Write it down on an index card and look at it every morning and every night. On the back of the card write how you’ll feel when you achieve your goal. Visualize it. Often. And ask for help from the trainers at your gym. We’re there to serve you!

My workouts for this week:

Sunday–HIIT plyometrics & bodyweight exercises

Monday–Upper body weights & interval running (20 mins)

Tuesday–Spin class & abs



Friday–Yoga & upper body weights


Here are a few pics of my meals lately (and my adorable puppy 🙂


I love the spicy sushi at Whole Foods! I could eat this all day.


Finally she stood still long enough to take  pic! Seriously, that’s hard to get her to do.


I used some leftover enchilada filling to make eggs and a corn tortilla that much better. Filling is just sautéed veggies and black beans with cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper.


The sky after Sunday’s workout with my sister was gorgeous!


This morning I had doTERRA’s Vanilla Trim Shake with a drop of Cinnamon essential oil (balances blood sugar), two eggs, and coffee with almond milk. Plus my Lifelong Vitality supplements of course! These give me tons of energy, help me sleep better at night, cleared up my skin, and remove brain fog! Love them ❤ Learn more about them here. They’re FREE this month with qualifying orders, comment and let me know if you want to try them!

What are your goals? Fitness related or not, comment and let me know!


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Lunch from today + things I like

After my fabulous workout today (bi/tri/shoulders + 30 mins tempo cardio), I headed home from work and made lunch. At the time, salad, kiwi, and sweet potatoes were enough to fill me up, but I grabbed a Larabar & made my afternoon coffee a few minutes ago because I was getting hungry again. Here’s my beautiful lunch (part of the rainbow of nutritious foods I try to eat every day!):


On top of my salad I drizzled some of this on as a dressing, and a way to get my omega-3’s (which promote heart and brain health, and reduce inflammation). It has a clean, mild, orange-y flavor (from the Wild Orange essential oil).




These pics aren’t from today, I took them last week…just some things I like. And, keeping in mind my blog’s “money-saving” theme, these are (almost) all free (OK, the latte and the enchiladas cost a few bucks, but I made it at home, which is MUCH cheaper than buying while out).


Rich, red, Florida sunsets (this isn’t edited!)


Doggie kisses 🙂 right when I’m trying to take a picture!


Veggie enchiladas! That one covered in jalapenos on the left? That’s mine 😀 I make these almost every week. Dice veggies (onion, bell pepper, zucchini, garlic) and saute in olive or coconut oil, stir in a can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes, and a can of chopped green chilies. Fill each tortilla with a little of the veggie mix and wrap them up. Cover in enchilada sauce and cheese and bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Perfect!!


My afternoon latte–this is a luxury I get over the weekend when I can finally sit down and study/read at home. I’m on the go way too much for this during the week.


Learning about the effects of essential oils on our emotional health. This book is Emotional Healing with Essential Oils, by Daniel MacDonald. Great book! Each oil gets a page, so you can find things quickly.