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Breanna’s Journal

Breanna's Journal

Moving Into The Bus

josiah-driving

11 Days in a Bus

It has really been crazy living in our school bus for the last week & a half. We love it. We hate it. We never regret it. The 9th of September we set out on our voyage to Campbellsville, KY. It took us in total about 8 hours between two days to get to the place we now call home. On Friday night we slept at a truckstop in Seymour, KY. At about noon on Saturday we arrived at Green River Stables where we will be staying till the end of December.
Once we picked our spot, the fun began! I have been waiting for this moment for months. Finally, I could decorate and place all our knick knacks on display from past travels. It took about 3 hours to get everything set up in just the right place. Over the next week we would spend time reorganizing + pitching things that we just didn’t have room for. There’s several ten minute projects that we would continue throughout the week. Some of those projects were; leveling out the bus, putting more caulk on the roof (specifically on the screws), leak proofing the plumbing to the sink, mounting the tv, & hanging up the curtains.

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While here, we will be working for Amazon in one of their fulfillment centers as pickers. Hopefully we can make some decent money while here and leave with some great memories. Everyone that we have met so far has loved the bus. We expected a lot of hate from the Rvers parked around us who have spent well over 40K on their rigs. The only rude comment we received was “Do you have air conditioning in your bus?” Anyone could tell from simply passing our bus that we do, since we have a vent out the drivers windows. Apparently, the guy told Josiah he was worried about our dogs, as if we would leave them in a hot bus all day. That really upset me, because I would never do that any animal + especially not my furbabies.


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On that note, our dogs seem to really love it here. We have an end spot so there’s not too much traffic our way & they get to explore the woods and trails often since they’re only a minutes walk away. They’ve been getting along great. I do think their favorite part was the drive, because they would occasionally stick their head out the window, even on the highway.
Overall, the bus has been fun for last 11 days, we have deff thought of high tailing it home, but we won’t give up that quick. We know this is the life we want to be able to travel & not spend our life working away. I’m sure as the days go on, we will learn to love our bus more & more.

Till next time,
XOXO Breanna

Breanna's Journal

Saying Bye to My Left Kidney

It’s been a couple days now since my surgery took place, but I wanted to give everyone an update and let you all know what it was like for me to be a kidney donor.

Wednesday July 26th I arrived at Northwestern Hospital in downtown Chicago at 5:30 in the morning. This is when the nerves started to kick in. Up until this point, I thought everything would be fine, I’ve seen the statistics and know that there is barely any risk involved. But what if? What if I don’t wake up from the anesthesia, what if I woke up during the surgery?

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Once I made my way to the 5th floor of the Galter Pavilion, I was swept off to my pre-op room where I changed out of my clothes and into the dreaded hospital gown and non-slip socks. I gave them a urine sample + an IV was then placed into my left forearm, about an inch above my wrist (this would stay in until Thurs AM). All my vitals were taken and I got to meet with the surgeon, physician assistant, anesthesiologist, and his assistant. They came to explain to me what to expect during surgery and immediately afterwards. Everyone was very friendly which helped calm my nerves.

At 7:30AM the physician assistant came to wheel me off to the operating room. Josiah + I said our goodbyes, and I was headed off to surgery. The ride there was nerve wracking and as soon as I got into the room anesthesia was put through my IV and the next thing I knew, I woke up in the recovery area.

As I opened my eyes, there was a nurse standing right next to me. He had exactly what I needed, pain medicine. My abdominal area felt as if I just did a million sit ups and I had gotten stabbed in my stomach. Greg was my main nurse while in recovery & he was always there when I needed him. He provided me with pain & nausea medicine + all the ice chips I could dream of. From 11:30AM when I awoke to 1:30PM, I was in the recovery area. They didn’t have a clean room ready for me yet, otherwise I would have left at 12:30PM.

My ride from the recovery area to my room was very bumpy. It seemed like the CNA who moved me got joy out of hitting every bump she could and she wasn’t very skilled at maneuvering the bed. Once we got to the room I was in too much pain to move myself from one bed to another, so they used a transfer board. The CNAs who moved me could definitely use some more practice at transferring patients. It seemed like I was a learning experience for them and I didn’t appreciate it. Josiah could have picked me up and put me on the other bed by himself and it would have caused me less pain.

I wish I could say my pain got better, but it didn’t. I had denied pain killers down in the recovery area, so I could see Josiah quicker. If I would have taken them I would have had to stay another 20 to 30 minutes, so they could watch my reaction. I figured as soon as I got to my room I would be able to get some. But I quickly found out that I was not in the system yet for unknown reasons and they had to track down my doctor to see what medicine I could take. Also, my stuff, including my backpack, clothing, and pillow was lost in limbo somewhere.

All I wanted was some painkillers.

Eventually I did get the painkillers and nausea medicine I needed, & every couple of hours my nurse would promptly come in and give me more. I have to say that the nurses that I met during my visit to the hospital, were extremely nice and gave me wonderful care. Whenever I used the call button, they were eager to help & they never acted as if I was bothering them. My second nurse Susana was nice enough to walk several laps with me around the hospital floor after Josiah had gone home. She made me feel like I was walking around with my best friend.

For the rest of the night I was on a Clear Liquid Diet and surprisingly they were very accommodating about my vegan diet. I had veggie broth, apple juice, tea, and 2 lemon italian ice. The next day I was able to eat regular food for breakfast and lunch. I had a fruit plate, applesauce, and apple juice for breakfast. A veggie burger, italian ice, and fruit for lunch.

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That night for some reason my nausea medicine made me feel well, nauseous. I stayed up past midnight feeling like I was going to vomit any minute. Eventually my nurse had the on call doctor came in and he administered a patch behind my ear to help with the nausea. The doctor then helped me from the chair to the bed. All day I had been too weak to swing my legs up onto my bed. This time was no exception, not only did it cause abdominal pain, but also intense shoulder pain after laying down. I was told the pain was from the positioning I was in on the operation table. For the next several days I would be nauseous and have intense shoulder pain.

During my hospital stay I was in a lot of pain. Most of the time I was an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10. Every time I moved, shifted, laughed, or burped, my abdomen felt like it was going to explode open. About 7PM the first night I was well enough to get up and start walk a couple laps. While doing laps, sitting down, and standing up I held a pillow up to my abdomen which really helped stabilize my abdomen.

I left the hospital Thursday at about 2PM. I was excited to leave, but sad to leave the nurses I made good friends with behind. Overall, I had a great experience at the hospital & couldn’t have asked for better care. Even the doctor who came to help me at 12AM the previous night was happy to help. They helped me in and out of bed, gave me updates about my father’s condition, and brought me everything I asked for, from a clean gown to pitchers of water. To anyone who is considering transplant surgery, I would recommend going to Northwestern Memorial Hospital as they gave me extraordinary care.

Hopefully this helps others know what to expect when getting kidney transplant surgery at Northwestern.

XOXO Breanna

Breanna's Journal

Shawnee National Forest

Exploring Shawnee National Forest

It was spring break for my long time friend Emily and I was itching to get away, so we decided to go on a hiking trip. After some debate and a coin toss, we started planning our trip to Shawnee National Forest.

We visited Shawnee March 14th-16th. We had perfect weather and decided to tent camp. Below I have descriptions of each of the places we hiked along with descriptions and helpful tips 🙂 Hope this helps you with your tip to Shawnee National Forest.

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Picking Up Maps

There are two districts within the national forest, Hidden Springs and Mississippi Bluffs. When planning your trip make sure to check which hiking places are in each district so you don’t waste too much time driving. Make sure to stop by one of the ranger stations of the supervisor’s office to pick up a overview map of the park and individual maps for each hiking spot. These will be helpful, as they describe the trail and give instructions on how to locate each area. Do not rely on signage to direct you where to go as the areas are spread out and brown recreation signs are a rarity. Also, there is horrible cell reception and very little data.

Hidden Springs Ranger District

Garden of the Gods: The views here are super gorgeous and will only take you about 45-60 minutes to explore depending on if you climb the rocks and explore a bit. This is a loop trail that will take you back to the parking lot. This place is definitely worth going to. The first night we also camped here for $10, just so you know there are bathrooms, but no showers.

High Knob: High Knob can be difficult to find. Make sure to hang right when you come to the equestrian campground and follow the road up the hill. You come to a super pretty overlook and some picnic tables. It’s a great place to have lunch, but there is also a small tail that should take less than an hour. There isn’t much maintenance, so it can be tricky to find. As you look at the picnic tables from the parking lot, go to the right, and look through the trees a little bit. There will be some stairs that will take you to the base of the rock where you can explore. It is a loop trail and you will end up on the other side of the picnic tables.

Rim Rock & Pounds Hollow: The trail for Rim and Rock and Pounds Hollow can be done together. Rim Rock is a loop trail that will have an opportunity to go to Pounds Hollow. Pounds Hollow is not a loop, so you once you get there, walk the same trail back. Frogs + turtles can be spotted along the way. At first when approaching Rim Rock trail from the parking lot you will encounter 3 different trails, stay to left, this takes you on the lower trail to explore around the base of the rock, you will come out on the right side.

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Burden Falls: Burden Falls was awesome. The waterfall is beautiful but be prepared to get wet. It’s a good idea to bring waterproof shoes since most of the time you’ll be by the creek or in the waterfalls. Don’t be afraid to climb down the rocks and explore! The trail here can be tricky to follow. It stays close to creek and can be found at the top by the parking lot. When you are on top of the hill and feel the trail has ended, don’t worry, just go down the hill!

Bell Smith Springs: This was one of our places and would definitely recommend. It is also within 15 minutes of Burden Falls and has a campground as well. Once again there are no showers. Just note that if you grabbed a specific map for this area from a station it is not updated with the white trail info. There is a map at the trail head that shows the white trail. Emily & I got lost on the white trail. I definitely recommend taking the blue trail and then going onto the lower yellow. Once you come across the ladder it will take you to the upper yellow which leads into the white if you go to the right. Overall a great place to go hiking for hours with colored markers along the way.

Cave-In-Rock It is technically not a part of Shawnee, but is apart of it’s own state park, but since you’re in the area you might as well stop here. It one massive 55 foot opening of a cave. There is not much to do once inside but it’s magnificent to see. Also, sitting by the river is a great place to watch the sunset.

Mississippi Bluffs Ranger District

Little Grand Canyon: This is a great place to do a couple hours of hiking but make sure to bring your waterproof shoes. This is a gem that is easily missed due to sketchy trails and waterfall staircases. Emily and I entered the trail by the parking lot and then when we got to the overlook after wandering and climbing on the bluffs we found the slim trail to the right that takes one down to a waterfall and natural rock stairs. When you get to the bottom there are white trail markers and a defined path. To exit the canyon you will have to go back up another waterfall. You have gone just a tad too far if you hit “private property” signs. Overall, I would definitely recommend this hike.

Inspiration Point: This is one of the most scenic overlooks and makes you feel like you’re on top of the world. It is a very easy hike and suitable for most. Takes about 30 minutes total but words can’t describe it. The hyperlink to trail is the exact format of maps that can be found at the supervisor’s and ranger’s stations.

Pomona Natural Bridge: This is also a very easy hike and is family friendly. There’s a couple large rocks to play on, but honestly Emily and I didn’t find much reason to stay long. Glad we did it, because we were in the area, but left much to be desired.  

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Fountain Bluff: I can’t find much information on them about them on the website but there are some bluffs with a couple of trails. They’re pretty tricky to find and most areas have been covered with damage due to a storm in 2008. But if you want to find them there is a couple trails heading North on Gorham Road from Route 3. The first one will be .5 miles in and you just park on the side of the road where tire tracks should be. Go down a little bit and there will be another trail. There is waterfall and a ladder to climb. The damage made it hard to do to much hiking here. I’d bring a machete to cut branches out of the way. Go North again on Gorham Rd and there you will get to where the bluffs end. Park you car and walk the north line of trees until you come across the path. There’s not too long of a path or much to see but we were determined to find something. We never really figured out how to get to the top of the bluffs. There is a street off of Gorham that goes past a school and there’s a cool view there but not much else. Please let me know if you found how to get up there.

Overall, Shawnee was awesome & Emily was deff the best partner to do it with. We both had a great time & one day I hope to return again.

Happy hiking,

XOXO Breanna

Breanna's Journal Europe

Best of Europe

Everyone keeps asking me what my favorite part of Europe was and I just can’t decide on one!

SOOO. I decided to write my top favorites from each country!

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LONDON

  • Going to the Borough Market. There was so much delicious food everywhere. This is where I go to try the Egyptian food for the first time & have been craving it ever since. It the biggest and best farmer’s market I have ever been to.
  • I’m not sure where we were, but we were on the other side of the channel + directly across from Tower of London at a viewing of an important soccer match. There were a couple pop-up bars and furniture space out for people to mingle. This is where I had the best falafel ever. It was a beautiful night out and we felt totally in with the locals.
  • During a tour one day, we had a 45 min break to go have lunch. While everyone else was headed to Express Pizza or Prett a Manger, we wanted to go to an authentic english pub. The guide directed up towards a place we would some delicious fish + chips. Not only did we receive fish & french fries, but very bland guacamole or green mash potatoes as well. We eventually found out about the mushy peas & laughed it off.

Notice all my favorites are surrounded by food LOL

PRAGUE

  • While being in Prague we had an awesome Jewish Quarter tour. Our guide was awesome + we wish he could have been our personal guide for our whole trip. There was some powerful history with us that day & it felt like the old city felt alive. Learning about people from such a different period of time and being able to see the same exact buildings as they did, was crazy!!!!!!
  • I never thought one of my best moments about Prague would be drinking Lemonade, but the lemonade here was fantastic!!! Nowhere at home can I find Lavender or Elderflower Lemonade. Josiah + I spent our evening in Old Town staring at the Astronomical Clock drinking different lemonades.
  • Staying in the hostel was one experience I will never forget. We stayed at Ritchie’s Hostel, the best part was that we were in a great location off the main street Karlova and in 2 minute walking distance to the Charles Bridge. Not only was it super cheap, but we got to meet other travelers as well.

 

ROME

  • Going to the Colosseum was one of the most exciting things on our trip. It was crazy to think about the events that happened there. There was an aura in the air from all the past history. Pictures of the Colosseum just don’t do it justice. Not only did we take a bike tour past it, but also got to take a guided tour inside as well. We got to look down into the depth of the center & see where the cages would have been filled with medieval animals.
  • While in Rome we stayed with Christina who we found through Airbnb. Her and awesome dog welcomed us with open arms. At this time I was feeling pretty homesick and missing my own puppies, so this came at a great time. Staying with others not only let us meet new people but also let us stay in authentic neighborhoods. Most locals in Rome knew English, but not everyone in the Sant Antonio did. It was awesome. This was a non-tourist area & had the best Tiramisu I have ever had in my life. 2 blocks away from Christina’s home was Bar Pompi. This place is like heaven for any tiramisu + speciality coffee drinker like me.
  • All the food here was also very delicious. They used wonderful spices and we really felt like we were eating ethnic food. The places closer to tourist attractions and pretty steep, but if you go a little outside the center then you can find delicious cheap food.

PARIS

  • Paris is by the far, the most beautiful place I have ever been to. If there was one thing I could change about our trip it would be, spending more time in Paris. Keep in mind that our flight there got delayed by 18 hours. Before visiting we had heard that Paris may not be a very friendly place, but that was just the opposite. Everyone was very friendly, and it was just one beautiful city. From our Air B&B we had a great view of the Eiffel Tower.
  • The food. OMG. The food was nothing short of outstanding. We tried snails, pastries, frogs legs, and macaroons. I also had a goat cheese salad that had roasted potatoes. While on our bike ride we stopped for ice cream. While everyone picked the usual chocolate, I had lavender. YES, LAVENDER ICE CREAM + IT WAS THE BEST THING I HAVE EVER HAD.
  • Josiah also planned one of the best bike rides I have ever been on. We used Big Fat Tire Bike Tours. Not only did we get to ride bikes by the Louvre, but the bike ride also included a river boat tour as well that drifted past the Eiffel Tower while we drank wine. The next time I am in Paris we will definitely book one of their bike tours again.

Dublin

Keep in mind we were only in Dublin for about 12 hours for a layover, but we also had many good times here.

Dublin

  • 1. It was kinda crazy getting a Taxi in Dublin. We had no idea that they often do not accept credit cards, unlike what we experience in the other countries. The driver gave us a ride home and we literally gave him everything we had & it still wasn’t enough cash.
  • We tried fish & chips in a bag from a local fast food joint, because by the time we were able to get on the bus it was already past nine + we couldn’t find anywhere else to serve us food. So we sat on a random stoop at ate the meal from the paper bag. As we made our way down town, we were able to get some drinks & see the crowded bars. One lesson we did learn is that soda is not included in the price of a drink. For example, I ordered a gin + tonic and received a mini Shepps bottle and a glass with a shot of gin + some ice. I ended up paying separately for the tonic, almost doubling my price of drink. Shots it is next time then.
  • Not only did we take a taxi home, but we took a bike taxi. It was so cool. We even convinced our driver to stop at McDonalds. Even though we were staying a couple miles from downtown, the biker ensured us he could make it, and he did. I still don’t believe he knew far really we were going, but the ride was awesome.
  • In the morning before we went to the airport we quickly went downtown and tried to get to Guinness brewery. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t let us go to the gift shop because it was part of tours only. We just didn’t have the time to go on a tour due to our flight schedule.
Breanna's Journal

We Collect Lapel Pins

Our Minimal Souvenirs

We are just like everyone else & want to have something we can take home with us to help remember our trips. But being minimalist we really try not to buy to much of the touristy junk. Every once in awhile I will get a t-shirt or we will find something from a local craftsman. We never though buy a t-shirt just to have a t-shirt from there. Only if the item can be used on a regular basis or can be used for decorating our home, then do we buy it.

There is one thing we always try and bring home from our trips and that is a lapel pin. Whenever we go somewhere we search shops in order to find these unique pin. Every pin is different and reminds of us of where we have been. The pins work for us because they’re cheap, small, and easy to organize. We have pins from almost all our trips. The only places we don’t have them from are Myrtle beach, Lake Delevan, Lake Geneva, Cocoa Beach, and the Dells. Some tourists shops just don’t have them sadly.

On our last trip to Florida we were able to get several. We bought 1 Universal Studios, 2 Islands of Adventure, 1 from the Kennedy Space Center,and 2 from Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge. Pins do add up quickly. Currently we have 33 pins. As we see it, it is easier to have 33 pins than 33 coffee mugs.

To display all of our lapel pins Josiah & I picked up some canvas from a local fabric store, inserted 2 doll rods, and sewed all the sides together. It was easy, cheap, and handmade. We can roll it up when we want to store it away. We have the rope that was supposed to be used at our wedding ceremony tied around  it to keep it shut. Below is a picture of our canvas!

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We have them all in chronological order so we can easily see the timeline of all the travels we have gone on. This canvas is really special to us because it displays all the adventures we have been on together. While we are traveling on the bus we plan to pick up as many lapel pins as we can along the way.

Breanna's Journal

Book Report On Untamed

While on Vacation in Florida, I convinced Josiah to stop at Barnes & Noble so I could pick up a book to read on the beach. I was looking for an inspiring book about adventure. Sitting on the non-fiction shelf was a book I was about to devour within 48 hours. That book is Untamed The Wildest Woman in America and the Fight for Cumberland Island by Will Harlan. Before I knew it I was on the beach completely digested into the fascinating life of Carol Ruckdeschel.

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Untamed tells the story of Carol and how she spends her whole life defending nature and doing whatever she can to preserve it. She is one true activist and the way she lives her life is true to her word. The book reveals how big corporations and the even the National Parks Service is money hungry. Apparently, even wilderness is for sale. It’s devastating to learn that people are more interested in filling their pockets, instead of protecting mother earth.

At first I was a little weary of her eating roadkill, as myself being a vegan. But at least she didn’t let them die in vain. Most of the meat she consumed had either been hit by a car, needed to be put down due to medical reasons, or it was seafood she caught in a small net. I suppose if you’re going to eat meat, then it should come from an already dying animal source.

The way she speaks about religion is so interesting and she doesn’t try to hide her blunt feelings. She views religion as just a way to cope with the thought of death. I suppose one doesn’t really need to live on earth or face themselves if they believe they are going to some afterlife. Carol knows death is death & there’s no redo. In the book the reader can observe how she really does live her one life to the fullest.

After reading the biography of Carol, I also learned how endangered sea turtles really are. Meat eaters do not realize that eating seafood is not only causing pain and suffering to the animal on the their dinner plate, but also endangering the species of other wildlife. Carol describes how mass fishing and scraping of the bottom of the ocean for shrimp is causing extreme environmental issues. Us carnivores are screwing up the ecosystem that so many different species count on. I hope people who read her book think twice before maxing out on a seafood trio platter.

I fell in love with this book and after reading it, I hope to be able to explore the wilderness of Cumberland Island and see all the beauty Carol saw in it. She’s one hell of a fighter & an activist. The book is about a woman who shows no fear & sticks up for what she believes in.

 

Till my next book,

Breanna XOXO

Breanna's Journal

Florida was just what I needed!

I hate the cold weather & so Florida sounded like a great escape.

We awoke tuesday the 12th at 4:30 to be whisked away and boarded our plane by 6:00 am. As we stepped out of the airport and into the sunlight, we knew this was going to be an awes

ome vacation. 70 degrees and sunny, couldn’t get any better than that.

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Our hotel was located in Cocoa beach, but before checking in we decided to visit the Ocala National Forest. & I’m so glad we did. We headed straight for the Salt Springs which were about an hour from the Orlando airport. While at the Salt Springs we hiked the Bear Swamp Trail & Salt Springs Wildlife Observation Trail.They both provided an enormous amount of encounters with wildlife. We got to see manatees, turtles, several species of birds, and plants galore. Before making our way to the hotel, we jumper in for a quick swim in the salt spring. It was a bit chilly but the Fresh Water felt great. Best part it is, the whole experience cost us $12. Just goes to show traveling doesn’t have to be expensive.

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We stayed at the International Palms on Cocoa beach. The hotel room was far from a Hilton, but it gave us direct access to the beach. In less than thirty seconds we could have our feet in the sand & could hear the crashing of the waves. Most of the time we were hanging out on the beach; reading, swimming, playing frisbee, and just taking it all in. There was a Publix less than a mile away from the hotel where we picked up groceries for the week. We made PB&Js and stacked up on fruit. The only time we ate out was at Green Room Cafe, a vegan friendly lunch/brunch spot that also had amazing smoothies + wheatgrass shots. While there we also picked up a handmade bowl from a local potter.

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While being only an hour away from Orlando, we couldn’t not go to a theme park. We decided to spend a day exploring Universal Studios + Islands of Adventure. Josiah + I usually move at a quick pace at were able to see everything in one day. We went on all the rollercoaster & virtual reality rides. The Harry Potter areas were my favorite, as I read all the books as a kid. Josiah seemed to really enjoy the Jurassic Park area. In the end we were really glad we only spent one day here, as another would have been more $ and time away from the beach. Afterwards we ate at Ethos Vegan Kitchen. We a got hummus + chips, bay cakes, & the veggie burger. Everything was so good that we even took a couple cookies back to the hotel with us.

On our trip we also visited the Kennedy Space Center. The bus tour around their facility and seeing the rocket Apollo was breathtaking. The Rocket Garden was also very impressive. We chose to go to the center on the right day, because until about 2pm it was raining. While at the Kennedy Space Center we also learned about the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.

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The last day before heading to our flight, we stopped at the wildlife refuge for some up close views of native species in florida.We even got to see two gators, a few reptiles, and several kinds of birds. It was so naturally beautiful. They had a seven mile scenic drive that was as beautiful as the ocean. It was a vast landscape and had natural beauty They also had a manatee observation deck, but we sadly didn’t see any. Then while there we went to the Cape Canaveral National Seashore.  It was long but short sandy beach that had an ocean that never ended. The water was gorgeous & made it really hard to leave for the airport.

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Florida was amazing & can’t wait to go back. Why am I sitting inside hiding from the -5 degree weather when I could be on the beach? I hope to be visiting Florida a bit more often in the winter months.

XOXO,

Breanna

Breanna's Journal

Why I Love Picking Up Horse Crap

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I often get asked how I like working with horses. I always elaborate on how much I love it + usually the other person agrees that I must have a dream job. That is, until they find out I spend half my time picking up horse poop.

Now, what if I told you that’s one of my favorite parts of my job? You’d think I was crazy. But here my side first

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I grew up riding horses at a saddlebred barn in Shorewood, IL called Northern Tradition Farm. I called this place home for a many number of years. This is where I first learned how to ride, showed horses for the first time, taught lessons as an instructor, & became completely obsessed with horses. Growing up I was like most kids, self-conscious, awkward, and just wanted to fit in. During this time in my life, the barn was my “safe place”. All your fears about growing up get lost when you go to muck out a stall. Mucking out stalls is relaxing for me. It’s something you just can’t mess up. The poop gets put into the bucket, end of story. While standing in a filthy stall, your biggest problem is filling up a wheelbarrow.

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While in a stall not only do you get to connect with the horse that’s in there, but you also get to make awesome friends. I promise you, the friends you make aren’t as poopy as the manure itself. Emily + I have been mucking out stalls for years together (she was even in my wedding) & plan to ride horses into the sunset one day with our hair waving in the wind. Without Emily I probably would have quit riding a long time ago. Whenever I was frustrated with a horse or myself she would encourage me to keep going.

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Working at Danada Equestrian Center has been fantastic. My biggest problem is I have to clean up manure after 19 horses and 6 of them being at least part draft. But I did get an upgrade, instead of scooping poop from stalls, I get to watch the sunrise + horses freely frolicking. Seriously, I have some of the best views from the top of the hill with shovel in hand. I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’ve met some great horses and friends along the way. Like Lindsey, were the terrible two when together. We’re exactly the same while being the exact opposite. She’s Eeyore + i’m tigger. She’s also vegetarian and loves kombucha as much as I do. They made the mistake of hiring us at the same time and now some of the volunteers can’t tell us apart.

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I’ll be honest, when I get to work at 8:00 in the morning after going to bed at 2am, I don’t want to work very hard or deal with anything complicated. I can be cranky and irritable in the morning so I don’t want to chat with anyone either. That’s why picking the mud lot is what I look forward to. It’s just a pick, the wheelbarrow, and me. We duke it out. I don’t have to wake up and make big decisions on how to save the world or end world hunger. All I have to do is pick up horse shit. Oh and look at the scenery.

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I must not get enough horse poop at Danada because on Tuesday each week I volunteer at the Hanson Center Riding Arena where I (drumroll please) pick up more poop! They hold horseback riding lessons for people who have special needs & disabilities. We as volunteers work with riders who have autism, down syndrome, behavior issues, and much more, but we love them all the same. This is our way of giving the love of horses to some people who need it the most. For some of our riders this is the highlight of their week and we do our best to give them a great time. Being a volunteer here has made me the appreciate my physical and mental health. 

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Not only do I get to work with some inspirational riders, but I also have made some great friends along the way. Our Tuesday group is one of a kind and I wouldn’t be as dedicated to going without them there. At the Hanson Center we’re like family. Goes to show how horse poop brings people together.

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Not only did I learn about working with riders with disabilities, I got to shareboard my first horse. It was love at first sight. During the first week of him being at the Hanson Center, I fell in love with his demeanor + sweet personality. Although I no longer shareboard him, I still throw him carrots on Tuesday nights. Shareboarding didn’t just bring me closer to Romeo, but I also met two new friends, Jackie + Cassandra. We all share boarded Romeo together, because 3 is better than 1. Please tell me you see the benefits now of scooping horse poop.

Breanna's Journal

Pumbaa is Here!

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I remember the first day I laid eyes on Pumbaa like it happened yesterday.

I was at home waiting for Josiah to get finished with his shift at Xerox. He called me on his break and said “Don’t look at Hinsdale Humane Society‘s website, but there’s chow mix puppies on there & they’re so cute.” Of course I had to look. & man were they adorable. So as soon as Josiah got off work, we headed over with Koro + met our future Pumbaa.

Her + Koro didn’t hit it off exactly how we planned, but after some tumbling they seemed to be doing well. The staff there assured us that Koro was just teaching Pumbaa the ropes and some well needed manners. That night we decided Pumbaa would be the next addition to our family. Pumbaa was nine-weeks old & barely weighed in at 1o pounds. I have to say Pumbaa is the cutest puppy I have ever seen. Go ahead and try to argue with me, I’m just going to leave these here.

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Once again we’re not so sure about Pumbaa’s breeding. She may be chow + german shepherd. Pumbaa is an awesome dog who is super friendly to whomever she meets. She can be weary of strange men and screaming children. Tantruming babies seem to frighten her the most, as she gets upset with the screams. She also loves meeting new dog friends. When we first got Pumbaa she got car sick easily and would turn green. Now she fights with Koro for window space. We aren’t sure how Pumbaa will like the bus, but we’re hoping that with time she will learn to love it and know it as home.

I have to say Pumbaa is the most loyal dog I know. She will wait at the back door for you to come home. Even on nights I get home from work at 2am, she won’t go to sleep till I get home. She knows the sounds of our cars pulling in and runs into the kitchen turning on the sensor light for us.

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Her and Koro are pals. She’s his annoying little sister and whenever she gets nervous she looks to him. On walks she always has to smell whatever he is investigating. She actually didn’t sniff at much until observing Koro do so. When we go to park she always follows Koro and won’t venture off without him. It was Koro who taught her about going into the brush and chasing the squirrels up trees. They don’t always agree but at the end of the day, they always snuggle up.

Having two high energy dogs always creates chaos at home, but we wouldn’t want it any other way. Thank you to Hinsdale Society for making our house a home.

Breanna's Journal Veggie Life

My Favorite Pain Free Beauty Products

Beauty is Pain. But that pain doesn’t have to involve cute + innocent beagles.

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I had heard the rumors several times about beagles being used for testing makeup, but it wasn’t until I read the book “The Dog Lived (and so will I)” that I made a commitment to using cruelty free products. Teresa L. Rhyne inspired me to become a vegan like herself. Through reading her book I learned that being a vegan isn’t just about the food we eat, it’s actually a lifestyle. She gave me the drive to find products that I’d love from brands I could trust to be cruelty free.

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Finding cruelty free products can be difficult at first, but once you get started it’s easier than you think. I generally get everything from Ulta. They have several brands that are cruelty-free & vegan. Just be careful because as helpful as their employees may seem, they don’t always know about cruelty free products. I made a mistake a while back trusting a sales rep, she told me Lancome was cruelty free. She had assumed they were because they’re both under the same parent company, L’oreal. Totally cruelty-free products are hard to find. Some companies are cruelty-free except when they mandated, like selling to China. So if you know different about the products I use below, please let me know in the comments.

These are the cruelty-free products that I use on a daily basis + my review of them:

Body Wash:

Hempz Pomegranate Moisture Herbal Body Wash. I love the way this stuff smells & how it lathers up really nice. It’s Vegan + Cruelty-free.

Body Scrub:

Anatomicals The Buff Stuff, Citrus Body Scrub. It’s okay, it smells good but doesn’t lather well and I feel like I have to use a lot to get a good lather. vegan + cruelty-free!

Face Wash:

Pacifica’s Kale Detox Deep Cleansing Face Wash. My husband and I love the way it makes our faces feel afterwards. The only thing I don’t like is that it advertises it removes makeup, but it has this weird way of smudging my mascara under my eyes. Maybe it’s because I use waterproof mascara. Beside’s that it keeps my acne away and my face feeling awesome. I also love how on their products they make it easy to see that they’re vegan + cruelty-free.

Face Wipes:

I also use Pacifica’s face wipes as well to remove makeup from my face. These also don’t work the best for getting off mascara and other eye makeup. On the upside they are vegan +cruelty-free.

I just purchased and have yet to try Tarte’s Fresh Eyes Waterproof Makeup Remover Wipes. They were a little pricier but should be able to wipe my eyes free of mascara and eyeshadow. They were $12 for a pack of 30 at my local Ulta. Not everything from Tarte is vegan, but this specific product is vegan + cruelty-free.

Shampoo + Conditioner combos: 

Paul Mitchell’s Color Care Daily Shampoo & Daily Conditioner. I no longer use this product due to how greasy it made my hair. Paul Mitchell is cruelty-free but not completely vegan due to using beeswax and select other ingredients.

Active Products is my current prefered brand. They are color safe and never fade out my color. It’s hard for me to find products that don’t make my hair greasy, but these never do. The only downside to this brand is that I have only been able to find them for sale at the Colorific near my house. They also sold at a limited number of salons. Check their website for locations. They are vegan + cruelty free.

Deodorant:

Tom’s of Maine Wild Lavender Deoderant is what I currently use. It’s nothing exciting but it gets the job done. Sometime it can wear off if I’m having a very active day, so double application may be needed. The upside of this product is that I can find it at my local Walgreens + Meijer. Tom’s of Maine is vegan + cruelty-free.