Listen, do yourself a favor. Invest in your non-romantic relationships. They will be your saving grace in times of need.

I was in a pretty fucking terrible car crash last week. Like multiple impacts and hitting a semi’s fuel tank which then exploded, terrible. Thankfully, me, my brother, and my dog walked away with minimal injuries. Needless to say though, I’m pretty beaten up, bruised, and traumatized.

That being said, I have had the best, most amazing support system I could ever hope for. My husband, of course has been a dream with taking care of me and the logistics. But my friends, they have really gone above and beyond.

I have received so many calls and texts checking up on me it is insane. Friends have shown up at my door with coffee, treats, meals (I haven’t had to cook in literally 8 days), and groceries. People have traveled hours just to take me to doctors appointments, sit with me, clean my house, and help manage my exchange student’s school schedule while I’m unable to drive. I’ve received cards and boozy care packages in the mail from friends across the country. The support I’ve received is overwhelming. To say that I am grateful would be a gross understatement. 

Invest in your friendships. Romantic relationships are great, but friends keep you from falling through the cracks. So really, check up on your people, and take time for them. When you are drowning, they will be the ones to save you.

Top tip: Allergies

10 drops lemon essential oil
10 drops lavender essential oil
10 drops peppermint essential oil
Carrier oil (grapeseed, coconut, etc)

Mix into a rollerball and apply to temples. Create sigils for an extra oomph!

I also like to just put these oils (sans carrier oil) into a diffuser or vaporizer with water and let it run throughout my day and night when the pollen count is high or I’m just feeling kind of crappy. Bonus! The blend smells delicious, so it’s a great room freshener too.

Be wary- lemon is photosensitive, and the use of peppermint during pregnancy or nursing is under debate.

Canning Tomatoes

Canning tomatoes is a fantastic way to eliminate waste and chemicals from your household. This is the simplest and best recipe I’ve come across, and coincidentally it’s the recipe my family has been using for generations.

First, prep the tomatoes by washing them and cutting off the tops and any bad bits. Dice them, and put them in a large stock pot.

Heat the tomatoes while stirring frequently. In a pot this large, if you do not stir often enough, the bottom will burn and the top will not heat thoroughly.

While the tomatoes are cooking, heat your glass jars by filling them with very hot, but not boiling, water. This step is CRUCIAL. If you pour boiling tomatoes into cold jars, they will shatter. Seriously guys, do not skip this step.

When your tomatoes have been cooked thoroughly, (they will turn darker red and become more stringy), pour the water out of the heated jars. Add a little salt (and any spices) to the bottom of each one. 

Next, use a funnel to pour the tomatoes into the jars. Then wipe the rims and outside of the jars clean so that they can properly seal. 

Add the metal lids and rings and close tightly. Place filled jars on top of a wooden cutting board to avoid the jars cracking like they would on a cold countertop. Make sure that the jars are spaced apart and aren’t touching so that air can circulate. Cover the jars with a towel, and let them sit until cool.

After jars are cool and sealed (you will hear them popping), store them in a cool dark place to keep for winter.

A few other notes-

If any of your jars do not seal, (it’s not unusual to have a few; you can check by pressing the top of the lids, if they bounce, they didn’t seal), refrigerate and use them within the week. They will mold if you put them away unsealed.

You can add chiles or spices according to what you plan on using your tomatoes for. Add oregano, basil, and thyme to make spaghetti sauce; cooked peppers, chili powder, and a touch of oregano for chili; rosemary, garlic, and thyme for a savory veggie soup, etc.

Add some extra oomph by stirring clockwise and focusing your intent on a safe, cozy, and prosperous winter.

I swear, guys, know your laws and rights as tenants in your states. Our ex landlord never gave us our deposit back when we moved out in May, despite contacting her multiple times. After about the 14th time calling and leaving a message, my husband received a series of texts claiming (wrongfully) that we damaged the property and she was considering taking us to small claims court to recoup losses for our mess. Thankfully I covered our asses beforehand and thankfully we’re not intimidated easily. Instead, she unknowingly just made life for herself very difficult, because attempting to threaten me only results in pissing me off.

 SO because sometimes landlords suck, here’s a good list of things to do when renting a place:

-READ YOUR LEASE AND FOLLOW IT TO THE LETTER. Know what utilities are included and what are not. Know the policies for repairs, bug spraying, renovating, etc. Following all rules and regulations in the contract will help keep the landlord off of your back, but it will also help you if you ever end up in court.

-KNOW YOUR RIGHTS AS TENANTS. For example, in the state of Tennessee, landlords must give tenants an itemized list of damages ten days prior to the termination of the lease so that the tenants can repair or refute any claims. If they do not do this, they are required by law to refund the entire deposit. BUT if you do not contact your landlord within 60 days to claim that deposit, you forfeit it. In most places, the landlord must respond to repair requests in 48 hours and any lapse in safe conditions (like air conditioning being out or a door not properly locking) is a direct violation of codes. 

-DOCUMENT EVERYTHING. Take pictures and make a list of any preexisting damage before you move in. Make sure this is signed and dated. Keep any and all contact you have with the landlord including requests for repairs and even something as simple as a thank you note for paying your rent early. Keep everything. I mean it. When you leave, photograph it all again. Wear and tear (paint, scuffs, etc) is normal and is not something that should be deducted from your deposit unless otherwise stated in your lease. Having proof of the condition of your space both before and after leasing will go a long way in court if it ever comes to that.

-DO NOT FULLY TRUST THAT THE LANDLORD WILL DO THE RIGHT THING UNTIL ALL IS SAID AND DONE. People suck. We were literally invited to Christmas parties with our landlord’s family and maintained a great relationship for three years before she pulled this crap. This is a business, and money talks. Even if you think they’re great people, cover your ass just in case.

-DON’T BE AFRAID TO STICK UP FOR YOURSELF AND DON’T LET THEM INTIMIDATE YOU. If a repair is taking too long, speak up. If you don’t receive a deposit back, ask why. In most states, tenants have more rights than landlords, so don’t let threats of taking you to court, etc stop you from fighting back.

Garden haul. Since my own vegetable garden has been dismally unproductive this year, I’ve been relying on my grandparents’. Fresh tomatoes, the beginnings of butternut squash, jalapeños, and green beans (not pictured). It actually works out rather nicely as they cannot get any herbs to grow and I have more than plenty. Hooray for garden trading!