Posts in Lifestyle

How to Meal Plan for a Month

Meal planning was consistently one of the scariest challenges for me. It always felt overwhelming to take it on, with grocery lists, recipes, and cooking schedules it’s a lot to manage! Between my full-time job, running my company, Cody’s work schedule, Levi’s schedule, and doing it all around staying social with my friends, planning my meals out has been essential. It took a little bit to figure out my ideal system, but now that I go into each month with a plan, it’s much easier. 

After honing the planning process and figuring out my system for a whole year, I narrowed it down into three(ish) steps; Review, Select, Shop. These might seem pretty obvious, but for meal prepping newbies, it’s hard to see the easy strategy. 

This post contains affiliate links to items I use and love. If you make a purchase after clicking one of these links, I make a small commission. Your clicks support this blog and this dog, we both thank you!

What is Meal Planning?

I saw meal planning super easily explained as asking the what’s for dinner question once, instead of every night. For some people it’s asking the question once a week and for others it’s once a month. The simplest way to approach it, no matter what your planning period is:

  1. Review your calendar
  2. Review your pantry
  3. Select your recipes
  4. Build your grocery list

Bonus Tip: you don’t have to start your meal planning on a “normal” day, like Sunday or Monday. I build my weeks around when I can grocery shop, which is Thursday nights. So when I plan my weekly grocery trips, I will shop for all planned meals from Thursday to Wednesday. 

Other things to remember while meal planning:

  • You don’t need a big fancy binder of meals and post-its and planners and organizers to make this work. I pop my calendar right into Google Calendar and write my list in a cute notebook!
  • It’s not just for big families. You always see the mom of 8 kids, 4 dogs and a husband and a half planning all these meals, which definitely gives meal planning big-family-energy. But for me it’s just myself and Cody, occasionally cooking for our family or friends. 
  • You don’t need to be an expert chef. You want to plan for take out twice a week and a frozen meal on Tuesdays? You do you! Your meal plan doesn’t have to be fancy home cooked every day! 
  • It’s not set in stone. Have a bad day at work? Go for takeout. Forgot to take chicken out of the freezer? Swap today’s meal for tomorrow’s pasta. As a matter of fact, my #1 meal prepping tip is to always have a few go-to emergency meals on hand, just in case! For us, that means noodles and frozen meatballs!

Review Your Calendar

Ironically, the first stage of meal planning has nothing to do with meals. It has to do with figuring out what in the world you’re actually doing for the next month. For me, the key things to work around are Cody’s work schedule and pre-planned social things. That looks like me being the primary chef Monday through Wednesday when Cody is commuting, planning quick meals on Fridays before game night, and, for November, doing a big shop before my business trip to prep for a lot of cooking and baking right after.

What my November calendar looks like before meal planning
What my November calendar looks like before meal planning

When you look at your calendar, whether paper or virtual, always keep in mind what nights you’re out of the house, how often you want to be doing takeout, any busy night, any traveling days, etc. And don’t forget to double-check with anyone else you’re cooking for/with! I keep a separate calendar of what Cody is up to just to help decide whether we have the time for a new long meal, or stick with a quick favorite.

Review Your Pantry

The thing I see so many people forget when meal planning, eat down what you have! Chances are, you have a built-up stock of some foods, or if you’re like me, a bunch of mostly-eaten boxes of pasta. See what you have started and what needs to go, what produce is on its way out. And most importantly, what food items did you buy and never ever get around to eating? Take those as a sign of food items you could probably pass on next time around! Make a mental note or grab a sticky note to keep track of the base items you need to get through ASAP, so you don’t forget to incorporate them in recipes earlier in your plan. 

Bonus Tip: use this as the time to clean out your fridge too. I try to do a mini sweep every week, just tossing out empty containers or funky produce. But once a month when I do my meal planning, I empty each shelf, wipe them down with whatever cleaner I have on hand, and refresh the organization and drawer set up. It doesn’t usually take too long to do, but it’s definitely a cleaning task we put off for too long!

Select Your Recipes

This is where you get to make meal planning more custom for you. Focus your recipes on your meal plan goals, whatever they may be. These could include focusing on saving money, adding some variety to your diet, reducing food waste, or just making it easier to deal with every day. You can also plan out whatever meals you choose, just breakfasts, all three meals, just lunches, whatever works for you. For me, I focus on making daily planning easy, and primarily plan our dinners. 

First and foremost, I always add in our goto recipes on busy days first. For us, that usually means spaghetti and meatballs or some pasta variation. This just guarantees us a good, easy meal on days where dinner has to be reliable and quick. Then adding in any special requests that Cody has for meals and some of our favorite seasonal meals (especially this vegan Penne Vodka!). I have an objectively terrible memory, so every year I make a new cookbook and I keep a spreadsheet with recipes we love. Then I add in new recipes to try. I keep a goal in mind here, whether it’s using up the last of an ingredient, wanting something sheet-pan, or just taking on a new challenge in cooking style. I’m not a great chef, so my best tip here is to keep it reasonable! The first time cooking a new recipe will take longer and will definitely be harder than it looks. Just make sure your eyes aren’t bigger than your cooking skills!

The biggest perk for planning meals is that you can chain your meals. This could be as simple as a double batch of chili to make plenty of leftover lunch on busy weeks or finding two recipes that use zucchini so you don’t have to waste half of one. Or it could be more complex and use all parts of an ingredient to make multiple meals. This can be a little tougher, but it’s not terrible to plan!

The best starter meal chains start with a grocery store roasted chicken. We’ll eat chicken and rice with gravy and a veggie for one meal. Then I’ll remove and save all the leftover meat, and boil the bird down to make a stock. I will save veggie scraps for a couple of weeks in the freezer and add them to the boiling bones for flavor, things like carrot heads and scraps, parsnips or squash ends, or that start to go a little squishy, and always a couple of onion tops! Boil for a few hours, strain and you’ve got chicken stock! I’ll save two-thirds of the batch, dividing it into reusable containers, letting it cool, then freezing until I want to use it. For the rest, I’ll add some fresh soup veggies, egg noodles, and the leftover meat, and boom! Easy soup, good for a week’s worth of meals. 

Build Your Grocery List

Everyone has their own method of building a grocery list, but if you’re in need of a good grocery list system for your meal planning, I got you. The most important element is to properly organize your list so that you don’t have to run around the entire store like nine times. There’s nothing worse than having to walk the whole way back because you forgot like, one tomato. Always organize your list by section, and the order you walk the store in. And make sure you have frozen foods last, nothing worse than having squishy ice cream! This will depend on the layout of your grocery store. For me, this means to produce, deli, fresh meat, grocery aisles, dairy aisle, and ending with frozens. 

I go through each recipe in my meal plan and check the grocery list against my stocks. Sometimes I’ll skip ingredients like parsley (fun fact, I cannot stand parsley!) or sub in something new (like ground beef instead of sausage), but this way I know I have everything I need for the dish. While I shop on Thursdays for the week ahead, I will sometimes shop for a few extra days of meals, just in case I don’t get out on Thursday. Especially for November, my month ahead is a crazy one! After listing all the ingredients needed for the meal planned recipes, I move on to snacks and other non-food necessities. This includes things like breakfast that I don’t meal plan, snacks for Cody’s lunches at work, and the food items we keep in stock (eg spaghetti, diced tomatoes, frozen meatballs, coconut milk).

Bonus Tip: Keep a running list of these necessities between shops so you don’t forget! There’s truly nothing worse than getting home and realizing you forgot laundry detergent or toilet paper! I love using a magnetic notepad that I keep right on the fridge.

Learning how to meal plan for a month has truly changed the way I grocery shop and cook for the better. It was super intimidating to start, but having done it for a few months, it’s not nearly as scary as it seems from the outside with grocery lists, recipes, and schedules to balance. Figuring the ideal meal planning system has made cooking so much easier, especially as my schedule seems to get busier and busier every month!

My November calendar after adding my meal plan
My November calendar after adding my meal plan

Sound off in the comments, are you a meal planner? What does your system look like?

Check out the new Budget Friendly Living | Moira The Explorer Facebook group for tips, advice, and recommendations on living an amazing budget-friendly lifestyle!

Where Have I Been? Let’s Catch Up!

Summer 2021 has proven to be a busy one! So busy, that the blog unfortunately had to go on the back burner for a little bit. But now, a month has gone by, my schedule is starting to settle a little bit, and I’m adjusting to the new swing of things. It’s definitely been a tough adjustment, but having a full-time job has forced me to reevaluate my priorities, find what really brings me joy on my tight schedule, and most importantly, start addressing my more aggressive financial goals. And secondary perk, being creatively challenged so much every day has me coming up with new ideas for the blog all the time! But let’s get into all the new and exciting stuff going on!

Loppy smile brought to you by oral surgery and facial swelling!

Working Full Time

I’d been looking for a full time job since January 2020. It’s no secret that 2020 was a tough time to find a job, and in the marketing field? Even harder. I’ve enjoyed working for myself in 2021, but it wasn’t quite enough in terms of income and insurance, especially with 26 coming soon! The many (many, many, many!) applications finally worked out, and I got an offer! I started in early July and have been working there for over a month now. I’ve really been enjoying the work, and I’m grateful to have a great team of people to work with and to work for! 

Hygge House & Long Term Home Plans

One of the best things about my new company is that it’s based in Alexandria, Virginia which, if you don’t know, is located in the Washington DC area! C and I both went to college in the area and fell in love with the city and surrounding areas. We’ve always planned to get back to the city eventually and working for a company in the area is the first big step towards that goal. 

That being said, we aren’t about to up and move this hot second. My job is remote for the foreseeable future, so there’s no immediate need to go. Plus wherever we land, we need to make sure it’s got a good sized yard for Levi, which likely means looking at houses, which is a whole new mess of crazy that we’re not even almost ready to get into.

For the next year plus at minimum, we’ll be staying in Hygge House. We’ve made some updates and planned a few more, all of which you’ll see soon! It’s been fun and the house feels very much like a home nowadays and I’m really looking forward to our second winter in Hygge House. 

Running my Small Business: Explorer Media

While I am working full-time, I’m still running Explorer Media as a side-hustle. I’m lucky enough to have the flexibility and the ability to continue this work with my clients. One day I plan on taking my business full-time again, but now isn’t the time for that. Right now my primary goal is to better my skills, learn new ones, and explore a new industry with my work. 

If you want to learn more about my company, click here to head over to Explorer Media!

Exploring Personal Finance

Managing my personal finances has been something that has been a top priority for me since college. I was terrible about managing my money until I was almost 19, in college, and the weight of my impending debt. I’ve not always been the best with limiting my spending, but it’s always been important to me. With my increased monthly income and the federal student loans always changing, I’m looking forward to taking the opportunity to double down on my financial goals. And I’m excited to share that journey on MoiraTheExplorer!

I’ll be honest it’s not going to be the most exciting financial content in the world, but it will be, just like my other content, realistic, reachable, and honest. I’m not sure how much and what numbers I’ll reveal, but there will definitely be openness. Keep your eyes peeled!

The next couple weeks will see summer closing out, I’ll be taking a much needed vacation for a week, and hopefully, finding comfort in my new schedule. I’m very much looking forward to the next steps and seeing what the last half(ish) of 2021 will bring.

Social Media News: New Changes on Instagram’s + What it Means for Influencers and Businesses

On June 30th, Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri posted a video announcing some changes on the platform. Among many other things, the standout quote to hit headlines was announcing that Instagram is no longer just a photo-sharing app. The industry’s take? Instagram wants to be TikTok. Watch Adam Mosseri’s Video here before you read more!

Instagram’s four new focus areas are: Creators, Shopping, Messaging, and Video. But what does that mean for the platform? Let’s check in on the history of Instagram. 

Instagram’s History

Instagram was initially conceived as an app called Burbn, allowing users to check-in, post plans, and share photos of whiskey or bourbon. It took the location sharing aspect of Four-Square, and added a photo-sharing element to it. After the first round of VC funding, IG’s team studied other photo-sharing apps popular at the time. They ultimately stripped Burbn down to photos, commenting, and liking, and rebranded it as Instagram, a combination of instant and telegram. The initial product was a minimalist app design requiring as few actions from the user as possible. Instagram launched to the public on October 6th, 2010. The app hit 25,000 users on the first day and 1 million users before Christmas. 

Fast-forwarding to March 2012, Instagram had grown to 27 million users. They continued to release other versions of the app for Android, website, tablets, and more. In April 2012, Instagram was purchased by Facebook for $1 billion in cash and stock. 

Read the rest of this post on!

What do you think of these announced changes with Instagram? How will they affect your business or brand? Let me know!

Crate, Cages, and Pens, Oh My! Guide to Rabbit Housing

Welcome to The Rabbit Care Guides! This is a series of informative blog posts, each covering different topics in rabbit care and keeping. This includes things like proper nutrition, spaying and neutering, cage sizes, and more, and will feature information from veterinarians and rabbit care experts. This post is going to be covering different rabbit housing options including crates, Cages, and Pens.
Affiliate links ahead, I make commissions on these links to no extra cost to you.

Indoor vs Outdoor 

This guide primarily promotes keeping rabbits indoors. Rabbits kept indoors are safer from disease, bad weather, and predators, they’re easier to keep an eye on their health, and they like to be a part of your family! There are safe outdoor pen options for rabbits, but they won’t be covered in this post.

Indoor Rabbit Housing Needs

For 1-2 rabbits, their space should have at least 24 square feet of exercise space. You want to fit all your bunnies needs (litter box, water, hay, food, hides) into this space and they should still have room to completely stand up, stretch out, or run. Make sure the flooring is soft enough for their feet. Wire, hardwood, or fully plastic floors can be uncomfortable for bunnies, and at worst cause sores hocks on the feet. 
Check out this guide from, it’s a great rule of thumb for pen size

Indoor Rabbit Housing Options

The most commonly known types of rabbit housing options include Cages, Dog Crates, Hutches, Exercise Pens (aka XPens), and Free Roam. 


This is the one that most people know. Rabbit cages alone are not an appropriate housing situation. When combined with free roaming or Xpens, cages are fine. But keeping your bunny in a cage 24/7 would be like keeping a dog in the bathroom 24/7, not enough space!

Most cages you see at places like Petsmart, Chewy, or Facebook Marketplace are often too small for rabbits, despite being advertised for them.

Gus at just 5 months old, a small black and white Dutch rabbit eating lettuce, inside a rabbit cage, before I knew what the best rabbit housing options were for him.
Gus at just 5 months old in his cage, before I knew what the best rabbit housing options were.

Dog Crates & Rabbit Hutches

Dog crates and rabbit hutches are also not large enough on their own for most rabbits. If you have a very large set up and small rabbits, it might work, but it is likely too small. Attaching one of these options to an XPen can provide your rabbit with a great safe place to hide and keep their litter box while making sure they have plenty of space to run and play.

Crates can be easier to clean, as the plastic and metal can be easily sprayed down with a safe cleaner whereas a wooden hutch can be damaged by urine. Crates are also more chew-proof, which is a common past-time for bunnies!

Exercise Pens or XPens

An exercise pen or XPen as its commonly referred to are a great option for your rabbit’s enclosure. You can easily move the panels, add to the cage, and it’s very easy to clean. These XPens can be a cheaper option as well. My rabbit, Gus, is currently housed in a space made of two Xpens. We use the 36-inch high panels, but don’t forget these little guys can jump when they want to, so if you have larger rabbits, you may need taller panels.
Check out the exercise pen I use here

Gus checking out the outside world from the safety of his paper bag hide in his exercise pen.

Free Roam

Free roaming is often known as the best way to keep a pet rabbit, but it’s not the easiest way. This could be free roam in a space bedroom, a single floor, or your entire home. For giant breeds like Continental or Flemish Giant rabbits, free roaming is the only appropriate and ethical way to have them in your home. Free roaming requires your home to be kept bunny-proofed, making sure all dangerous or delicate things are up and out of reach, your bunny is litter trained and fixed, and you’ve provided them a safe, quiet home base. 

More Rabbit Guides

If you want to write for the Rabbit Care Guides, contact me here
If you have a topic you want to see covered in the guides, comment below and let me know!

Other Guides:

Diet for Bunnies: What Rabbits Can and Should Eat (coming soon!)
GI Stasis, Medications, and Recovery (coming soon!)
Emergency Preparedness for Rabbits (coming soon!)
Litter Training and Litter Boxes for Rabbits (coming soon!)
X Myths about Spaying and Neutering Rabbits (coming soon!)
Keeping Your Rabbit Outdoors (coming soon!)
Five Steps to Free Roaming Your Rabbit (coming soon!)

33 Things in 99 Days: Summer Bucket List Challenge

We’re vaccinated, CDC has lifted masking requirements, and a major life update is on the horizon for me, so gals (and guys!) Shot Girl Summer is in FULL swing here in the Hygge House. I’ve got a fire lit under my butt to get up, get out, and celebrate this summer like never before. Some time for my family, some time for my friends, and a whole lot of time to treat the most important person, me!

Years ago, I tried a 101 in 1001 inspired by Mackenzie Horan, but I could never come up with a full 101 to commit to. So, inspired by the 33 Things in 99 days by A Little Bit of Cheers, I’ve gotten my summer bucket list together! I kept it with shorter, more doable actions, including the things I had to put on hold since last summer.

Not sure where to start with your summer bucket list? Check out mine below for inspo, or the original post from A Little Bit of Cheers. Let me know in the comments or on social what you’re doing this summer and let’s keep that summer bucket list going together!

Check this post out in Web Stories below or keep scrolling to read!

33 Things in 99 Days: Summer Bucket List Challenge
Start Date: June 23, 2021 
End Date: September 30, 2021

  1. Spend a Day at the Beach 
  2. Have a picnic
  3. Go to a drive-in movie
  4. Take a weekend vacation
  5. Have a fire in the backyard (with the essentials, plenty of s’mores!)
  6. Go for a hike in a new place in NJ
  7. Watch a sunrise
  8. Learn a new recipe (Maybe from Molly Baz’s cookbook that I won?)
  9. Take a week’s vacation
  10. Visit a farmers market
  11. Go to a sports game (Nats, we’re coming for you!)
  12. Go for drinks, bayside
  13. Host a backyard BBQ with friends
  14. Take on a DIY project in the house
  15. Redecorate a space Done! Living Room Refresh on 6/25
  16. Learn to play Tennis
  17. Make homemade popsicles
  18. Spend a night car camping
  19. Take Levi to swim
  20. Try my first lobster roll
  21. Check out a new winery
  22. Have a girls-only weekend
  23. Make pasta from scratch
  24. Go to a new museum
  25. Host a backyard brunch
  26. Go fruit or flower picking
  27. Place or donate to a Free Little Library
  28. Have a backyard movie night
  29. Host a clothing swap
  30. Create and send a care package
  31. Create a new habit (Maybe taking Levi for park walks every week?
  32. Perform a random act of kindness
  33. Attend a summer concert or festival

Which activity on the list are you most excited for? Which is the first you’ll cross off your list? And what are you adding to your list? Sound off in the comments below or check in on social @MoiraTheExplorer!

My Budget Friendly Summer Skincare Routine

Back in January, I committed to taking more time for self care, which included developing a skincare routine for myself. I’ve never been a big makeup/skincare person, so building up the habit required time and patience on my part. Plus keeping it budget friendly skincare is tough! I was doing well with my winter skincare, as someone who is super dry 24/7 in the winter, it was practically mandatory! For summer skincare though, it’s high time to switch it up! So first, an update about my skin, then the products I’m using and last what I’m in the market for!

Before we go forward, I am not a dermatologist, esthetician, or skin care expert. This routine is what works for my normal to dry skin. I recommend these products based on my experience, but if you are unsure on products, you should do your own research or contact a professional for assistance on your skin. 

Affiliate links ahead, I make commissions on these links at no extra cost to you. 

About My Skin

As I mentioned in my winter skincare post, I’ve always been one of those people with decent skin. For the longest time my only skincare was some off-brand “morning hydration” face and body lotion and baby wash. And micellar water to take off makeup, when I remembered. And with that, I only ever had at most a couple pimples or a few light bumps. 

A couple years ago, the universe played an uno reverse card on me and took away my simple, easy skin. Replaced it with sweaty, oily skin summers and dry, cracking winters. I did the bare minimum to care for my skin, mostly just addressing things as they came up, instead of preventing the problems. Summer 2020, I started the process, washing my face more frequently, moisturizing regularly and wearing *le gasp* sunscreen! I aimed for moisture and glowy. Sweaty, but make it fashion, right? Then last winter, we shifted gears into a real skincare routine, adding more products to combat some serious dryness.

So here we are, Summer 2021, and what’s up next for my skin? Well the theme for the season is still simple, budget friendly, and moisture. And between allergies and sweat, glowy-on-purpose skin is important too. I use a lot of sunscreen every day too, especially because I abused my skin in the sun for so long. Not with tanning, but working outside for many summers with literally zero skin protection. It’s taken me a long time to rehab the damage I’ve done, and there’s still some pigmentation and weird texture spots from the sun damage. 

Morning Skincare Routine

Once again, mornings, not my strength. I’ve gotten better about waking up early and having plenty of time for whatever in the mornings. But the universe has blessed me with something new to keep my mornings busy, seasonal allergies! I don’t know what is going on with the pine trees this year, but I’m definitely feeling the pollen. So my mornings are mostly taken up by washing my face, eye drops, allergy pills, and sneezing into my tea. 

Most days, I’m not going far from my desk, my bed, or my kitchen, thank you Covid, 90° weather, and sweeping pollen clouds. On those days I keep my morning skincare simple, a quick rinse with water, pat dry and follow up with CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizer SPF 30. The CeraVe isn’t my favorite, but it does the job. I’ll finish the bottle, but I doubt that I’ll end up rebuying.

On the rare occasion that I do venture out, I’m still keeping it minimal.. I’m a real sweaty betty, so adding a bunch of layers of anything is just going to be an annoyance to me later. I stick to a glowy-on-purpose simple routine and that’s all. I picked out my routine after watching this video from the skincare queen, Charlotte Palermino.

Three budget-friendly summer skincare products: Blue and white bottle of CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion, orange and white bottle of CeraVe Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen, and The Ordinary Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil.

Sometimes I’ll pop a fresh coat on with the CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizer SPF 30 or Cetaphil first to refresh the moisturizer. I follow it up with The Ordinary Rosehip Oil on my face and neck, going real wild with 3 drops. I rub it out in my hands and then pat it on. After letting the oil sit for a moment, I’ll apply the CeraVe Hydrating Face Lotion SPF 50. I absolutely can’t recommend this sunscreen, it gives a terrible white cast, and I’m pretty pale to begin with. I’ve been on the hunt for a new one with no or less white cast to end my routine with. If I know I’ll be outside in the sun, I’ll just suck it up and deal with the white residue, but if I’ll be inside, I will occasionally use the CeraVe again or just plain sunscreen, neither of which really give you the glowy look.

Nighttime Skincare Routine

Four budget-friendly summer skincare products in my nighttime skincare routine: Clear bottle of Garnier Micellar Water, Green and white bottle of CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser, short squat white and blue jar of Pond's Dry Skin Cream, and The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid.

My nighttime summer skincare routine is pretty simple. I’ll use the Garnier’s Micellar Water with reusable bamboo cotton rounds to remove any remaining sunscreen or makeup.

Two budget-friendly summer skincare products in my nighttime skincare routine: short squat white and blue jar of Pond's Dry Skin Cream, and The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid.

Next I’ll rinse with cool water and pat dry after, or some days I’ll use the non-forming CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser. After, I’ll use The Ordinary Hylauronic Acid 2% with B5. Hyaluronic acid helps replenish moisture in your skin and the B5 prevents moisture loss. This is really important in the winter, but moisture is still key year round. Lastly, closing it up with a nice thick moisturizer like Pond’s Dry Skin Cream or Cetaphil on the skin and Aquaphor on my lips. 

What I’m Looking to Buy

My summer skincare routine definitely still has room to grow!


I had a lot of recommendations for amazing sunscreens like Supergoop and Neutrogena Invisible Shield. I was definitely looking for a chemical sunscreen, the mineral leaves too much of a white cast. And finding a budget friendly option is key. Based on my research, I’ll likely have to sacrifice some budget to get a good product. For most people, the Neutrogena Invisible Shield would be a great, affordable find, but it doesn’t play well with my sensitive skin.

The product I’m considering adding to my summer skincare routine is the La Rochey Posay Clear Skin Dry Touch. It’s SPF 60, not a mineral sunscreen, and most reviews say no white cast. It’s $19.99 for 1.7oz, which is pretty pricey, but I have some Ulta points available and 3% cashback with Rakuten, so I can make the price a little more budget friendly!

Vitamin C Serum

I’m going to start here, finding a Vitamin C serum is hard! A lot of the top rated products are expensive. Like $40+ for 1 ounce of product. It is a lot of product, given that you’re using 1-2 drops per day and it’s a good quality product it’s a pretty fair price. But still, with some running upwards of $80, Woof.

I did some research and narrowed it down to three options, TruSkin Vitamin C Serum, Maelove Glow Maker, and L’Oréal Revitalift Derm Intensives. All three options are less than $30 each. I’m leaning towards trying the L’Oreal first, mostly because that way I can pop it onto the same Ulta order with the sunscreen and a few other things I need.

Let me know if there are any other summer skincare essentials I’m missing in my routine or products I should try out. What’s are your summer skincare essentials? Do you keep it budget friendly, or do you splurge on skincare? Let’s chat below!

Keep up with what I’m doing on the daily on Instagram, @MoiraTheExplorer and stay in the know by jumping on my monthly email newsletter here, coming soon!

The Rabbit Care Guides: How to Keep a Pet Bunny

Jump to Rabbit Care Guides Table of Contents

Almost 3 years ago now, on an absolute whim, I pulled a tiny, cuddle bunny from a small pet shop and brought him home in a small cardboard box. Back then, I was excited to have my cuddly carrot-eating little GusGus in his cute little cage. 

And then I learned more about rabbits. I learned a lot more. 

Young Moira, girl with banks and glasses holding baby Black and white Dutch bunny rabbit who inspired the Rabbit Care Guide in her arms and petting his nose.

I never realized how much I didn’t know about rabbits until after I had already gotten one. And that’s the case for so many other rabbit owners I know, some of whom unfortunately learned these things too late. 

Learning all the info has been difficult. So much of it comes from groups or forums online and contradict common sources of information people usually trust like chain pet stores, friends and family, or even some veterinarians. 

What is difficult about learning in these groups is actually sharing knowledge. Often the same common questions are asked, and it’s difficult repeating the same answers. Or worse, looking for new information and being unable to find any reputable or reliable sources.

This Guide

All of that inspired this series of posts, The Rabbit Care Guides. This will be a series of informative blog posts, each covering different topics in rabbit care and keeping. This includes things like proper nutrition, spaying and neutering, cage sizes, and more, and will feature information from veterinarians and rabbit care experts.

Black and white Dutch bunny rabbit who inspired the Rabbit Care Guide standing on his back legs and looking up into the camera

This post will serve as a table of contents for this series, continually being updated as new information is published. It is also the best place to ask any other questions about rabbit care that you may have. We can point you to a post that could help or write a post to answer your question. 

Who is the Rabbit Care Guide for?

The rabbit care guide is for anyone. Do you just love rabbits? It’s for you. Looking to get a pet? It’s for you too! New bunny owner? You too! Owned rabbits for years? Yep, it’s also for you. It’s never too late or too early to learn more about rabbits. 

Black and white Dutch bunny rabbit who inspired the Rabbit Care Guide hiding and peeking out of a paper bag

Animal care and keeping is always updating and growing. There are elements of rabbit care that we are learning about now that 5 years ago would never have crossed our minds. It’s important to continue to stay in the know for our pets, making sure we’re providing them with the best care possible, especially for rabbits, who can be a lot more at risk than other pets. 

If you want to write for the Rabbit Care Guides, contact me here

If you have a topic you want to see covered in the guides, comment below and let me know!

Table of Contents

Crate, Cages, and Pens, Oh My! (coming soon!)
Diet for Bunnies: What Rabbits Can and Should Eat (coming soon!)
GI Stasis, Medications, and Recovery (coming soon!)
Emergency Preparedness for Rabbits (coming soon!)
Litter Training and Litter Boxes for Rabbits (coming soon!)
X Myths about Spaying and Neutering Rabbits (coming soon!)
Keeping Your Rabbit Outdoors (coming soon!)
Five Steps to Free Roaming Your Rabbit (coming soon!)

Summer 2021 Swimsuit Picks

I wanna be upfront with y’all, I hate swimsuit season. Really just spring and summer altogether, not a big fan. It’s hot, it’s sticky, it’s sweaty. Then add on being in a swimsuit for potentially hours a day? Yeah not my definition of fun, wake me up when September ends and I can crack my sweaters out again.
Despite that, I really want to get out and enjoy the sun this year, self-esteem issues be damned (she says feeling confident now, but we’re working on it). I need a new swimsuit for this year, and I spent a lot of time shopping for the perfect one. It is literally the biggest pain in the you-know-what, but I wanted to share my work with you, and hopefully save you a little bit of time and frustration. Check out my favorite picks for summer swimsuits below!

About My Size

One thing that drives me crazy, is when bloggers share their outfits and picks without sharing their sizes. So in full clarity, these swimsuits and coverups are all ones that I feel would fit me and my body.

Swimsuit Picks

I shopped around to my favorite stores to find my new swimsuits and coverup including J. Crew, J. Crew Factory, Old Navy, Athleta, and Aerie.

J. Crew

Pro: I love J. Crew. They’re just my style and hit my goal wardrobe right on, every single time.
Con: I find that J. Crew doesn’t quite hit on two other major categories for me: price and model diversity. Price wise, it’s just a little out of range for me. When it comes to diversity, I find it’s a little lacking. A lot of thin and mostly white women. It would be nice to see some more diversity across the board.

LBI Region beach in the background. The foreground has four photos of swimsuits and coverups from J. Crew. First is a blue and white seersucker one-piece swimsuit. Second is a medium blue bikini with boy short bottoms and bow-like accent on shoulder straps. Third is a blue and white seersucker romper coverup paired with white sneakers. Fourth is a oversize white buttondown shirt coverup.

One Piece // Bikini Top // Bikini Bottom // Romper // Button Up

Why I Liked: The swimsuits are super cute and have decent coverage. The one-piece is not something I could wear strapless, out of fear of one (or both) of the girls escaping, but it’s a super cute seersucker and I love the look. The coverups are also right up my alley, cute, crisp, and easy to toss on as an outfit.

Why I Didn’t Buy: Primarily, the price. $100+ for a swimsuit? Not really in my budget. And while I would LOVE to have this romper, I am a long torso lady, and rompers just aren’t my jam, despite my best efforts.

J. Crew Factory

Pro: This is usually my primary J. Crew. The style, the goal wardrobe, and the prices are much closer to my budget, and I can hit the sales pretty well to the basics I need.
Con: I find that J. Crew Factory tends to have a lot of trendy pieces that stray a little farther from the modern preppy look I usually prefer. Which is fine, it just means that there are fewer pieces that are really up my alley, especially for coverups this year. And again, with diversity, it’s lacking here a well with again, a lot of thin and mostly white women.

LBI Region beach in the background. The foreground has three photos of swimsuits from J. Crew Factory. The first is a color-blocked one-piece swimsuit with a medium blue top over the shoulders and a navy blue lower half. The second is a green scalloped bikini with a small tie on the top. The third is a red bikini with a small white floral pattern throughout.

One Piece // Green Bikini Top // Green Bikini Bottom // Red Bikini Top // Red Bikini Bottom

Why I Liked: Cute designs, better prices, and better coverage. The bikini tops seemed pretty secure, and the red bikini and one-piece looked like they have really good booty coverage.

Why I Didn’t Buy: These suits are super cute, but they just didn’t quite do it for me! The price wasn’t quite right, and I feel that based on my sizing, the one-piece isn’t THE most supportive. It just. Eh? These are good picks for the right person, but just not for me!

Old Navy

Pro: More affordable styles, lots of stackable deals, and a much more diverse group of models!
Con: A lot of trendy pieces and colors, which isn’t my favorite thing in the world. And quality-wise, Old Navy isn’t setting any record here. But it’s a good quality for the price!

LBI Region beach in the background. The foreground has four photos of swimsuits and coverups from Old Navy. The first is a dip-dye bikini fading from pink to white to orange. The second is a white one-piece swimsuit with pink, blue, and green floral pattern throughout and a small tie at the waist. The third is a teal one-piece with a twist at the chest. The fourth is a black bikini with a high waist bottom and long line top.

Dip Dye Bikini Top // Dip Dye Bikini Bottom // Floral One Piece // Ribbed One Piece // Black Longline Bikini Top // Black Longline Bikini Bottom

Why I Liked: First and foremost, all of these swimsuits feel like they have great boob coverage. The black longline one might be a little more risky, but even then, it seems like full coverage tops. And again, the prices are super reasonable, especially when you stack sales!

Why I Didn’t Buy: These were almost the ones! My only issue is that I always need to try on clothes at Old Navy for size. And usually, that’s no problem. They have great returns and it processes really quickly. But if I didn’t have to likely do the exchanges, Old Navy might have been the one!


Pro: Price-wise, Aerie is right in the middle. Could it be a little cheaper? Yes, but it’s not breaking the bank. Diversity is also a big plus. A lot better size diversity and racial diversity, not that my picks apparently reflect that. I also really appreciate that Aerie models actually look like they enjoy wearing the swimsuits and are like, real people? Not just breathing mannequins, which is really a pet peeve.
Con: A lot of trendy pieces. Like, a lot. Which is tough, because I don’t love buying trendy items. I don’t often buy bathing suits, so I don’t want to get one that’s only good for one season. Lastly, cheeky swimsuits aren’t really topping my comfortable clothing list, and most of Aerie’s bottoms are more of a cheeky fit.

LBI Region beach in the background. The foreground has four photos of swimsuits and coverups from Aerie. The first is a kelly green, ribbed bikini. The second is a black one-piece swimsuit with a tie on the mid-back, and below it a keyhole cutout. The third is a light blue and white jacquard pattern bikini with a small decorative tie on the front of the top. The fourth is a solid blue bikini, with high rise bottoms.

Green Bikini Top // Green Bikini Bottom // Black One Piece // Blue Jacquard Bikini Top // Blue Jacquard Bikini Bottom // Solid Blue Bikini Top // Solid Blue Bikini Bottom

Why I Liked: So many color and pattern choices! It took me a long time to narrow down which swimsuits I put in my cart, and these colors and patterns were so cute. I love that all these suits have pretty good coverage on top and a lot of different fit and size choices for the bottoms, coming from someone who prefers a higher coverage suit.

What I Bought

LBI Region beach in the background. The foreground has two photos of swimsuits from Aerie. The first is a black one-piece swimsuit with a tie on the mid-back, and below it a keyhole cutout. The second is a solid blue bikini, with high-rise bottoms.

Black One Piece // Solid Blue Bikini Top // Solid Blue Bikini Bottom

After a very long search and many arduous hours of online shopping, I finally found the ones! Sarcasm aside, I’m super excited to get these Aerie swimsuits. I love the fuller coverage bottoms, the tops seem pretty supportive, and they have pretty reasonable prices.
The black one-piece was a real winner because it was the only one I found that had more pizzaz to it. Lots of the others were pretty simple, with little bows or nothing at all. This one, despite being plain black, has a cute tie and a little keyhole back.
The bikini was a tough choice, I really had a hard time picking which one to get, because I just couldn’t buy three bikinis, I just don’t go to the beach enough to warrant it, despite the fact that I live like 20 minutes away from the ocean. But I went with the blue bikini because it’s my favorite color, the model looks like she has good support up top, and the matching bottoms were my favorite style!

Keep an eye out on my Instagram in the coming weeks to see how these Aerie swimsuits fit and look, I’ll be posting about them soon! In the meantime, check out similar posts here.

First Three Months of Explorer Media: Thoughts, Goals, + 4 Tools I Love

Cheers folks, Explorer Media has made it through its first 90 days! That’s right, I made a real business, and it has survived the first quarter, pop the champagne folks, we raked in a bucket o cash too. Not really. But it’s been fun. I love my clients, I love my job, and I love working for myself (okay, like 98% of the time). But I made it my first three months and dang it, I am proud!

Hands typing on a Dell laptop in the background. In the foreground a white computer mouse with an American flag pattern sits on a white legal pad next to a tortoise shell phone case with Explorer Media printed on it.

First Thoughts

I’m pretty happy with how my work through Explorer Media is going these first three months. My website came out really well, my major client is pretty happy, and I’m starting to invest some money back into the business. Investing sounds so serious. I bought some really simple desk gear to up my workspace. Keep an eye out on to see more on those soon. 

On the whole, I think there are a lot of places where I can do better, but I’m not totally unhappy with it.  

Goals for Q2

Add more to my portfolio

I’ve been really slow to write up case studies for client work on the Explorer Media site. It doesn’t look so hot to new clients checking in on the website, and it just doens’t look great to have missing blocks on the portfolio. It’s something I’m trying to make a regular habit of. My goal is posting one new portfolio element every week. 

Attend More Networking Events

Now that I’m finally realizing where my strengths and passions are when it comes to clients, it’s time to hustle and go get a few more! Explorer Media launched a new program for businesses in the LBI Region, and it’s time to put in the legwork and go out to meet new clients. I’m working with my local chamber to boost my reach and find events, I’m ready to go with virtual business cards and cute masks, and I’m finally getting COVID-19 vaccine too!

Be More Active on my Social Media

You know the adage about the shoemaker’s kids? They’re the last ones to get new shoes? It’s the same for digital marketers. Explorer Media socials (and my personal socials!) are always the last one to get posts! I’ve been working on producing more reels, building up my personal following, and just plain being active on my social. It’s definitely a work in progress, but I would really like to get more consistent and have a better showing online!

4 Tools I Love

Affiliate links ahead, I make commissions on these links to no extra cost to you. 

Adobe Creative Cloud

Adobe isn’t a must-have for social media, but for my communications work, it’s essential. It’s helped me client adjust logo colors, develop print media elements, build annual reports, and more. If digital or print communications are essential to your business like they are for Explorer Media, Adobe is a need.


While Adobe Creative Cloud is the best software for design, 80% of the time as a social media manager, I’m using Canva. Canva is great, it’s affordable, it has SO many amazing things available for free, easy to learn, and it’s where I can provide clients with elements so they can learn to grow their business independently too. Canva is an absolute must have for me. Canva Pro is also huge. The free plans are great, but with the pro plan there is access to so many more templates, fonts, images, graphics and more. 
Join Canva Pro today!

Constant Contact

I have been using Constant Contact for years and I love it. Most of the Explorer Media clients are small and medium-sized businesses, so Constant Contact is perfect for them. It’s easy to use, it scales to some really great automations, integrated with a ton of other programs, and I really do love it. I was really excited when I was accepted into the Constant Contact Partner Program too, and I’m working on getting my platform certification!
Get a free Constant Contact trial!

Creator Studio

I have tried and tried to find the best social media scheduling software. But I’ll let you in on a secret. Creator Studio is unfortunately the best. Other platforms are exceptionally pricey, have rumors or reduced engagement, or are just a PITA to learn. Creator Studio, is the best so far for scheduling IG and FB content. But I really do need Zuckerberg to figure out how I can schedule stories and reels there too!

I’m really proud of myself for launching Explorer Media. It wasn’t something I really saw myself doing for a few years, but with the difficulties finding a job during the lockdown, I took the leap. I’m nervous and excited and really really looking forward to what I can do!

Welcome Levi + 8 Puppy Essentials

Blog, meet Levi! If you follow me on Instagram you’ve already seen the news, we adopted a puppy! Levi is a pitbull mix puppy that we adopted from our local Humane Society. We were told he was 4 months old, but our vet thinks he’s closer to 6 months old. He’s an absolute sweetheart and we are so so so excited to have him here with us. The process of getting Levi was a long one, but we had 2 days warning that he was coming home, so er had to scramble to get all his puppy essentials in time!

Medium sized Pitbull puppy, Levi, with black body, white feet, and a white face with a large black spot over his left eye sitting in a hallway with oak LVP flooring while wearing some of his puppy essential gear, the  blue Kong collar.

How We Got Levi

We have been reaching out to rescues and shelters about dogs for adoption for a couple of months to no avail. Mostly rejections, a few ghosts, and one straight up asked for our marriage certificate (like, what??). Finally, I sent one email I swore would be the last application to the local Humane Society. We got an email back that the dog we applied for wouldn’t be a good fit for us with the rabbit, and we were disappointed, but not surprised. But then, the next day I got another email from them saying they recently got in a puppy named Cash who tested really well with cats and could be a good match for us.

The new puppy Levi the first time we met him, the day we took him home.
Medium sized Pitbull puppy with black body, white feet, and a white face with a large black spot over his left eye.
At the Humane Society when we met him for the first time

We applied right away and were accepted. We put our application in on Monday, completely sight unseen! We ran out to grab his supplies on Tuesday night after work and clean the house, puppy-proofing everything. On Wednesday, we arrived to meet him for the first time and take him home!

Real Talk: Levi’s First Week

Y’all I knew puppies were tough, but puppies are tough. The first three days, Cody and I got max 4 hours of sleep. Levi had accidents once a day. He developed a nipping issue. He hated the crate. It was and still is a pretty legit struggle. 

Then, after a week in, Levi got sick. Vomiting five times in two hours, refusing to eat, completely lethargic. I had spent the morning driving my parents dog out for a specialist surgery, and right after I turned around and had to bring Levi to our local vet. Luckily the vet wasn’t super worried about him, and we left with two weeks of medication to get us through until his next appointment for the rest of his vaccines. (Shoutout to Rancocas Vet for squeezing us in on short notice and taking amazing care of all my pets).

I’ll level with you all, there have been many many tears the last week, especially the past couple of days. It’s been really really difficult, but it finally feels like we’re making a few steps forward. We tried a new food, Levi ate, and he’s been playing again. And with the warm weather moving in, we have the windows open in the house and I’ve been sitting outside writing this post in the sun on our porch.

Puppy Plans: Going Forward with Levi

Going forward, we have big plans with this little dinosaur. He has another vet appointment this coming week for his last couple shots. We start training with a local trainer next Friday, which is for training us more than Levi!

Medium sized Pitbull puppy, Levi, with black body, white feet, and a white face with a large black spot over his left eye on the beach at Manahawkin Lake walking towards the camera in the sand while wearing some of his puppy essential gear, including blue Kong leash, pink Kong Harness, and blue Kong collar.

We’re working on practicing manners during car rides, we’re going to check out the local parks and work our way up to visiting the beach before they close to dogs. In November, Cody and I always take a trip out to the Poconos, and we want to get his car manners down so we can take him with us for the 3 hour drive. 

8 Puppy Essentials

I’m far from an expert, but a week in, we learned very quickly what we actually needed, used, and missed. These are the 8 puppy essentials that you definitely need for your pup!
Affiliate links ahead, I make commissions on these links to no extra cost to you. 

Kong Comfort Collar 

We purchased the in Comfort Collar in Blue for Levi.We’ve been happy with it so far, it’s pretty soft on his neck, has a built in loop for tags, and Levi looks so handsome in the blue! 

KONG Reflective Pocket Dog Harness

This wasn’t our first choice of harness, but it’s been really good! Levi is working on his leash manners, so right now we use the harness for a little more control on our walks and car rides. We picked one that had a lot of reflective elements for night walks and could carry his own poops when we eventually take him on short hikes with us. Only downside, it wasn’t available in blue! Levi now wears a handsome pink harness, because he’s secure in his masculinity

KONG Weave Padded Handle Comfort Traffic Dog Leash

10/10 Love this leash! We got it in blue to match his collar and I’ve been super happy with it. This leash comes with two handles, one is a traffic strap lower down on the leash which we mostly use right now. The other is at the end of the leash (duh), but what’s notable about it is that the end loop can be expanded so that it could be a waist loop. It’s like everything you need in one leash!

MidWest Quiet Time Fleece Dog Crate Mat

We initially bought this as a crate mat, but that didn’t go over well, so it ended up being a regular dog bed for Levi. It’s great because it’s washable but it doesn’t go in the dryer, so it’s not super convenient. Levi likes the bed though, he occasionally sleeps in it, mostly loves to play with it or hide snacks in it!

Nutro Mini Bites Dog Training Treats

These are a lifesaver! We jokingly call them motivators, they’ve been really helpful in training Levi, keeping him focused on walks, and conning him to finally get into the house after playing outside. I have NO clue on the actual health value of these, but Levi loves these and they make training so easy!

Fab Dog Floppy Octopus Squeaky Plush Dog Toy

We got this after Levi straight up rejected all his other toys. I’ll be honest, I picked this bad boy because it was pretty cute and I thought it would look nice when I get my home actually put together again. This is one of Levi’s favorites with 9 squeakers and it’s been pretty indestructible so far!

Frisco Fold & Carry Single Door Collapsible Wire Dog Crate

I bought this crate years ago for Gus and we ultimately phased it out for him. Luckily I saved it and we’re attempting to use it with Levi now. While it’s not going well, it’s definitely a must have for puppies. 

Frisco Wire Dog Exercise Pen with Step-Through Door

This is probably more helpful for smaller puppies, hard to contain a 40 lb baby! We’re going to give this a try next 

We’re so excited to have Levi here, and we’re looking forward to the next step in our lives with him. Or at least wrangling him! I hope anyone looking to add a puppy to their life finds this list helpful, we completely winged it when we found out we were getting Levi