My Reading & Meditation Nook


beforeandafterA couple of months ago, I decided to convert a little step-up in my dining room into a reading/meditation nook.  The space wasn’t being utilized previously – we had a couple of plants sitting by the window.  I realized that it was a neat space to take advantage of and convert into a cozy spot for myself.  The floor space measures approximately 8x4ft – too small in some cases, but plenty large enough for books, a chair, small table and floor cushions.


I love my chair and chrome end table that set in front of the opened bookcase.  I also added a fabric curtain that you can see to the left of the chair – it is on a curtain rod, so if I want more privacy while I’m reading or meditating, I can just pull the curtain over.


It was a deliberate action of mine to keep the color scheme of the space as neutral as possible.  The color palette I primarily stuck to was shades of gray and white with a few accents of blue and green.  This also insured that the room would blend well into the dining room, which it is technically a part of as you can see in the before and after photos below:


Items I purchased specifically for my reading/meditation nook:

  • Plant $14 (Lowe’s)
  • Small decorative planter with faux roses $8 (At Home)
  • Small faux succulent $8 (Home Goods)
  • White metal tray $5 (on clearance at Meijer)
  • White lamp base $6 (on clearance at Lowe’s)
  • Sheer white curtain panels $10 (on clearance at Gordman’s)
  • White privacy curtain (actually a fabric shower curtain) $12 (clearance at Home Goods)
  • Curtain rods $6 (Meijer)
  • Throw pillows $24 (on sale at Big Lots)
  • Plaid throw for chair $8 (on clearance at Kmart)
  • Gray accent chair $114 (on sale on
  • Chrome & glass side table $33 (
  • Meditation floor cushion (actually a deluxe dog bed!) $30 (Home Goods)
  • “Follow Your Heart” accent pillow $17 (Home Goods)
  • Agate (dyed) bookends $20 (
  • Faux crystal decorative box $6 (Hobby Lobby)
  • Miscellaneous décor items $21 (Hobby Lobby)
  • “Funny Face” canvas photo (one of my favorite movies of all time) $5 (clearance at Icing)
  • Solar-powered hanging “candle” lantern $10 (Family Dollar)

Grand total, approximately $357.00

Let me first say that this amount of money is NOT a drop in the bucket to me.  Far from it – seeing that total actually makes me wince a little.  We have a very comfortable life, but we are not financially wealthy.  Also, I am a pretty frugal person and don’t enjoy spending a lot of money.  HOWEVER….                                                                                                                                    Once I made up my mind to convert this space into my own,  I knew I would have to spend money to turn it into the space I envisioned.  In a perfect world, I would have purchased most of my items from artisans on Etsy or other small websites, however, budget-wise, that was not practical for me at all.  Thus, I found most of my items at national retailers whose prices were more affordable.

I’m very happy with how my project turned out.  I think it will provide a lot of enjoyment for me as a place I can go and sit by myself and read or meditate.  I also enjoy sitting with a cup of tea and watching YouTube, I have to admit!  It’s also lovely to sit very early in the morning when everyone else is asleep and just enjoy the sunrise.


Do you have a special area or spot in your home where you go to have peace and quiet?  Do you have plans to turn a small space in your house into a meditation spot or reading area?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

My Fave All-Natural Aromatherapy & Scents


I’m a sniffer – I love it when I come in contact with a scent that really appeals to me.  There are lots of things I smell that are nice or OK – but sometimes products come along that really speak to my sense of smell.  While I’m not that educated in aromatherapy/flower essences/etc, I know that when I really like the way something smells, it can have a very positive impact on my outlook and wellbeing.  That being said, the scents need to be either 100% natural or extremely close to all-natural.  About 99% of the time, I am not a fan of synthetic fragrances and they can very often trigger nausea or migraines, thus I stick to naturals. The following products are some of the natural scents I really love.

Hurraw! Orange Lip Balm – I love Hurraw lip balms, and this scent/flavor is my favorite.  It’s a bright, citrus flavor.  I just love it.

Lotus Wei Infinite Love Annointing Oil – Every Lotus Wei product I’ve tried has been fantastic.  I’m drawn to their infinite love line because I’m an empathetic soul who loves love.  This anointing oil is great to put on my pulse points and deeply inhale. The scent is a mildly citrus infused rose scent.  I am a huge lover of the smell of roses – not an artificial rose scent, but the pure scent of fresh roses.

Kani Botanicals Petal Polish – I first tried this in a Petit Vour box.  Like a lot of sample products I’ve never heard of, I wasn’t excited about this product until I opened it and used it in the shower one day.  AMAZING.  This is easily one of my favorite scents of all time.  It is complex and just absolutely beautiful.  And it isn’t just a pretty scent – I actually love the results I get with this face exfoliator/mask – it exfoliates while moisturizing my skin with lots of great oils.  The rose oils, brown sugar, and essential oils create an aromatic blend that never fails to intoxicate me when I open the jar.

Essence of Vali Sleep: A Bedtime Ritual Oil – My husband and I typically put a drop of this oil on the corner of our pillows every night.  I’ve tried other sleep/calm/bedtime oils, and this is my favorite of the ones I’ve tried.  It’s also pretty affordable compared to some other brands that are upwards of $50 for a small vial.  I’m not contesting the quality of ingredients in other brands, but yes, I often look for more affordable options in my natural products.  This one is perfect – great quality and price point, and it smells amazing.  As I have learned over the years, not all essential oils are created equally.  You could try 10 different brands of lavender oil, for example, and they will probably all vary in scent and quality.  The Sleep: A Bedtime Ritual oil is great.  It really does help us calm down at bedtime.

100% Pure Coconut Body Cream – It’s odd because people tend to either love or hate this scent.  I’m a lover.  It definitely has the coconut scent, but also more subtle hints of vanilla and butter (though, no, it does not contain butter and is actually all-natural and vegan).  I typically gravitate to sweet scents with ingredients like coconut and vanilla, so it makes sense that I love this body cream.

Givescent Signature Perfume Oil – It’s a bummer, in all honesty, to give up those gorgeous perfumes that litter the counters of department stores and beauty chains like Sephora.  This natural perfume with a roller ball applicator is one of the closest I’ve come to that scent I remember from the days when I loved my Chanel perfume – deep, complex, feminine, sexy.  It has decent lasting power, too.  The company says this is a blend that includes citrus and vanilla (see a pattern?) but it is so much more than a basic citrus-vanilla scent – it truly is a beautiful, sultry perfume.

SkinOwl Mangosteen Beauty Drops PM Oil – The only ingredient is pure mangosteen oil – and does it ever have that WOW factor.  The scent is fruity and yummy.  You almost feel like a kid opening a box of fruity cereal…but surprise!  It’s all-natural.  Every single time I use this face oil, I fall in love with the sweet aroma all over again.

Andalou Naturals 1000 Roses Floral Toner or other high-quality rosewater (not pictured) – Again, I love the scent of roses.  I like to keep a bottle of this at work to mist myself with throughout the day – it really is an uplifting scent.  I love it for my face and skin, plus it is a nice, light hydrating toner for the face.

Not pictured – Peppermint Essential Oil – This is kind of a staple.  Peppermint oil is great for headaches but is also a pure, energizing scent for anytime.  Find a decent quality peppermint oil and do a search for all the ways you can use it.

What are your favorite natural scents/aromatherapy/essential oils/flower essences?

Vitacost Order #2

Another Vitacost Order with my thoughts on each item!  Most of the items here are food, specifically, vegan.


Arrowhead Mills Natural Puffed Millet Cereal — 6 oz – This is a very simple, plain cereal.  The only ingredient is puffed millet.  It has a somewhat similar consistency to puffed wheat, but smaller pieces.  I like to have this sometimes as a nighttime snack, sprinkled with a little stevia and almond milk.

BoBo’s Oat Bars BoBo’s Bites Apple Pie — 5 Bars – I bought these for my daughter’s lunchbox.  She can be very particular about foods, and given that she liked these, that was a good sign.  I never tasted them, personally, but she really enjoyed them.

Dandies All Natural Marshmallows Vanilla — 10 oz – I’ve wanted to try these vegan marshmallows for at least a year – or whenever it was that I first heard of them.  I’m a bit embarrassed to say that between my daughter and I, this entire bag was devoured within about 48 hours.  In other words, they’re delicious.  I can’t comment on their campfire roasting quality, etc. But they are great straight from the bag!

Dr. McDougall’s Quinoa Salad Tomato Pine Nut — 2.3 oz – I bought several varieties of the Dr. McDougall microwavable soups.  They are pretty decent as far as ingredients go, and not super high in sodium as with most similar soups.  The flavors didn’t blow me away, and the texture of the Quinoa Salad was a bit sticky and goopy.  However, they were all tasty enough and fine for a quick, easy, vegan lunch.

Earth Balance Vegan Cheddar Flavor Squares — 6 oz – I bought these with the intension of packing them in my daughter’s lunches…however, yours truly ate the whole box.  I’m not going to lie, I didn’t like them as much as a classic cheese cracker.  However, considering these are much healthier for me and are cruelty free since they’re vegan, I’d buy these again.

Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Probiotics Organic Kids Plus Berry Cherry — 30 Yummy Chewables – After my daughter had a UTI last month and was put on antibiotics, I bought this brand of probiotics that came with high praise.  These came packaged in a cool pack (high marks for Vitacost there…apparently, the same item purchased on Amazon was sent to people without a cool pack, which is very troublesome for a product that is meant to be kept refrigerated).  The thing with my daughter taking a probiotic is that it can be nearly impossible to know for sure if they are helping her.  My take is that, they shouldn’t be doing any harm at the very least, and if they do help her out, all the better.  I believe that a high quality probiotic is one of the best things I can give my child right now, based on the information I have on how crucial gut health is to our entire well-being.

Heritage Products Rosewater and Glycerin — 4 fl oz – I love the original Heritage Rosewater.  I wanted to try this one because glycerin helps the skin stay more moisturized by pulling moisture from the air.  However, I’m disappointed to say that the few times I’ve used it, it made my skin feel somewhat sticky.  Now I can’t bring myself to use it.  I may use it as a makeup primer, or mixed in to my face masks.  I’m still not sure how to use this product.

Navitas Naturals Organic Cacao Sweet Nibs — 4 oz – Yummy alternative to chocolate, cacao nibs are natural, unprocessed, and still have a distinct chocolate crunch.  My husband has been using them as a topper to things like toast and banana “ice cream”.

Navitas Naturals Organic Mulberry Berries — 4 oz – I bought these to use in a recipe for raw vegan rainbow cupcakes that Fully Raw Kristina made a couple of months ago.  I’ll be making them soon and if they turn out great, I’ll definitely post it either on my blog or Instagram.

Pacific Natural Foods Organic Baked Beans Vegetarian — 13.6 oz – Tasty!  For some reason they say vegetarian, but then on the back of the carton is specifically says “Vegan”, which they are.

Pacific Natural Foods Organic Non-Dairy Beverage Unsweetened Almond Vanilla — 32 fl oz – This is a good almond milk.  We always use unsweetened.  These are handy because this version is shelf-stable.

Pacifica Transcendent Concentrated Concealer Natural — 0.2 fl oz – I was worried that this concealer wouldn’t work for me, but I actually really like it.  For me it is medium coverage but also adds some brightness under my eyes.  It even works on a no-makeup day when I just want to cover up my under eye circles.

Primal Spirit Foods Primal® Strips Meatless Vegan Jerky Teriyaki — 1 oz – Love these for sticking in my purse for a snack when I’m running late or in a rush.

Raw Revolution Glo™ Bar with Raw Superfoods Creamy Peanut Butter & Sea Salt — 12 Bars – I’m in love with these vegan snack bars.  They are reasonably priced compared to similar brands.  They are high in protein and fiber, but very low in sugar.  They are a good calorie point – 180 calories for this flavor.  They have a nice texture and flavor.  Honestly, in all the vegan bars I’ve come across, this one is the best so far on the collective points of price, taste, quality of ingredients, and nutrition.

Simply Delish Natural Jel Dessert Sugar Free Strawberry — 1.6 oz – I haven’t made this yet, but bought it as a vegan gelatin dessert for my daughter.

Tree Hugger All Natural Bubble Gum Pomegranate Lemonade Wildberry & Watermelon — 2 oz – My daughter loves this bubble gum.  Mom likes it, too!

TruJoy Sweets Organic Coco Chews™ — 2.3 oz – Like a chocolate vegan Tootie Roll.  They lasted about a week.

Walden Farms Naturally Flavored Calorie Free Coffee Creamer Sweet Cream — 12 fl oz – Wouldn’t repurchase.  I wasn’t too thrilled with the ingredients or the flavor, for that matter.  It was just OK.

Weleda Salt Toothpaste Peppermint — 2.5 oz – My husband and I have been using this, and so far we agree that it isn’t bad and has a unique texture.  My daughter vetoed it immediately, but that’s OK.  She is very picky about toothpaste.
Have you tried any of these products?  What are your favorite natural and/or vegan products on Vitacost?  Let me know in the comments!