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Feb 29, 2016

A Blue Belt For William

Our little guy has been doing karate for a while now and recently tested for his blue belt. Not only was there a new belt, but he moved up to an all black uniform as well. This has been so exciting for William and he has worked very hard to get to where he is. He is home schooled now and we have a whole fitness routine set up for each day of the week. Doing push-ups, jumping jacks, and a variety of strengthening exercises have helped improve his karate skills tremendously. 

One very special thing about his karate instructor is that Mr. Mike also taught his big sisters, all the way to their black belts. Karate has been such a good sport for William and he has gotten to love it. Right now he goes once a week, but we plan to start him 3-5 times a week as soon as his classes are done for the school year. And speaking of school year, he is averaging a 97% overall. His favorite subjects are Math, Social Studies and Science. It's good seeing him love school and learning. He is the happiest kid!

William and his karate instructor, Mr. Mike Genova of Genova Family Karate.

Feb 24, 2016

Quit Rubbing Your Low Self-Esteem Off On Your Daughters

I have some things on my mind that I really feel the need to share. I have come to realize that I would be sorely disappointed if I met many of my online friends in person. Why? Because I know you won't look like who you look like on Facebook or Instagram. You know, the filtered or airbrushed version of yourself. I confess, when I first got Instagram I was most excited about having access to photo filters. I thought it was so cool when other women would post their super polished pics and wanted in on it too. I don't take selfies, but one day I took a photo of myself for a brand-related post and viewed my face in a variety of filters-- Valencia, Mayfair, Rise and more. I even added in a little tilt shift to soften the photo up even more. And then it hit me..... What am I doing? I look like some flawless Barbie doll or a wannabe Kardashian. I couldn't go through with posting a photo that wasn't authentically ME. Do filters enhance photos? Yes, they do. The problem I have is that my daughters follow me on social media and obviously know what I truly look like. What am I teaching them? It breaks my heart if I see them use a filter and I beg them not to. I make it a point to remind them how naturally pretty they are and that filters or airbrushing is never needed.

Some of you may have little daughters and think that they aren't paying attention to what you're doing. Trust me, they are! What you say and do has so much to do with how your kids will ultimately feel about themselves. When I was growing up, I watched my mother do whatever it took to fit in or to look better. Her bathroom was filled every beauty product that was available. Let me tell you, I grew up well into my 30's thinking I wasn't pretty enough. I too collected make-up and beauty products galore to make myself look better. Guess what? None of that stuff works! Until I fully accepted my flaws and imperfections, I was able to find the real me. It turns out that I am not half bad, dare I say that I am beautiful! I am 42. I have stretch marks, age spots, gray hair, bags under my eyes and probably more. None of that stuff bothers me any more. I refuse to airbrush myself. I refuse to let social media make me feel like fewer flaws means more likes or followers. I am who I am, and I am beautifully ME.

I urge you to post photos of yourself without any edits. Show your freckles. Show your grays. Show your authentic self. That is the person I'd love to meet- The real you. YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL! Thank you for reading.

Feb 23, 2016

Warm Up With Numi Organic Pu-Erh Tea

Are you a tea drinker? My husband drinks tea every single day, even if it's 100 degrees outside. When I received the Organic Pu-erh collection from Numi Tea, he was thrilled. 
The Pu-erh organic teas are exceptional and full of rich flavor. We received the ginger, chocolate, cardamom and Emperor's varieties. These teas are sourced from 100% real, non-GMO ingredients and that is it. Why would you want anything else? They use biodegradable filter paper for their bags and even the package can be recycled or composted. 
The flavors of these teas are so nice. I'm a strong cup-of-tea girl and these fit my taste just right. My current favorite is the ginger variety. It has a spicy, balanced taste. I like mine with a little organic honey. My husband loves the cardamom and Emperor's blends. He drinks a cup of hot tea after each meal. You certainly can tell the difference in quality from these teas. The fact that they are all made with so much care for the earth and fair labor practices makes it even better. You really can feel good about every cup. 

To learn more about Numi Pu-erh tea and to purchase them, you can order from their website or check their store locator for local stores that carry them. I was lucky to find a couple health food stores locally that carry Numi tea. I look forward to trying out their turmeric teas for the great health benefits. 

If you are a tea lover, you must try these out for yourself. Be sure to follow Numi Tea on Facebook and Twitter for product promotions and updates. 

I received product samples in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are 100% my own. 

Feb 19, 2016

Gear Up For Spring With NIC+ZOE

Today's post is sponsored by NIC+ZOE. All opinions expressed are my own.

I don't know about you, but I am so ready for Spring to hurry up and get here. I can just feel the warmth, hear the birds chirping and I get excited about wearing lighter clothing. The layers and heaviness of winter is starting to get to me. I have been thinking about adding some new items to my wardrobe this spring. I was browsing around the NIC +ZOE site at their Spring Collection. Everything looks so airy and feminine. I am really digging the soft colors and materials.

The Batiste Flirt Skirt is simply gorgeous. I love the length, cut and color choices (ash, black onyx and midnight). It is conservative enough to wear to work, but also girly enough to for a date night or girl's night out. I really love it in the ash color, but I always feel like you can't go wrong with black! Just add a light blouse, a couple of chunky bangles and some strappy heels, and you'll have a beautiful look for spring.

The Tassel Top is the perfect feminine tunic style top for spring. I really like the sandstone color. It is a very classic and sophisticated piece. I think it would look nice paired with skinny jeans and slim pants and either heels or ballet flats. You can't ever go wrong with a classic look. 

One thing you must have in your wardrobe is a couple of cardigans and this Holey Cardigan is adorable! It is really different and versatile. You really can wear it with any type of pants or skirt. I really love the simple look of the Sketchbook Pant. Dressed up or down, it is perfect!

NIC+ZOE really has some great pieces. I love the modern and feminine style that they have captured so well. I highly recommend classic pieces that you can mix and match to get the most out of each garment. Check out this short video showcasing their Spring + Summer 2016 featuring Coco Rocha... It screams vintage mixed with modern sophistication!

Check out all NIC+ZOE has to offer and be sure to follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the latest styles and promotions.

Feb 18, 2016

Kid's Room Interior Design Guidelines

There are quite a few ways you can help work on room design if you have kids, but you will need to keep quite a few things in mind when you work on said designs. Kids will need a special place where they can sleep, play, study and generally have fun while being connected to their room. To make that work you will need to have a creative and practical solution that will serve a purpose for your kids and yourself when the time arrives:

• One of the more important parts and choices of what you need to do will be the colors of the walls you can choose as well as those of your ceilings and other smaller colors. You can make use of the softer hues and colors out there to make studying and sleeping far easier and free of distractions.

• You can keep your kids art around or some family oriented photos as well to fill the empty space on your walls, as well as possibly the ceilings too if you have what you think will work. You can work on this by yourself or you can combine your cleaning efforts by asking your kids about what they would like as well.

• You could get some chalkboard paint to make an art corner where the kids can draw and paint without worrying about making a mess. It will take some painting and thorough house cleaning, but in the end it will be a job well done and your kids will have a chance to enjoy a creative outcome you can rely upon.

• There is a great way to make your very own reading corner or even a gaming area, but you will still need to work hard on it if you want to make it last a long time. Make sure you have a nice set of seating spaces to work with and it will pay off quite nicely.

• You may need to consider using a set of organizers for potential school supplies, textbooks and so much more. Kids will often figure out the details themselves, but you can help them out to make cleaning after them easier to handle as well. Boxes for toys, as well as other organizing items will make it fun instead of some unbearable chore.

• Improving the storage capacity of your home and using a mirror to create the illusion of space will make things easier to handle. This will also serve to allow the kids to be able to see themselves and to have fun while you work on things together.

• You will need to also work on rooms that allow kids to move unimpeded as they go about their day. Ask some questions about potential design solutions so they can enjoy it. Kids will are shorter than grownups so that means you will have a great chance to use smaller and shorter pieces of furniture that would fit their size and needs more accurately.

Read more helpful tips and advice on:


Feb 17, 2016

Double Dipped French Toast Is Back At IHOP (For A Limited Time)

IHOP restaurants are bringing back their newest innovation, Double Dipped French Toast-- soft brioche bread first dipped in vanilla batter, then dipped a second time in a coating of corn flakes and oatmeal and griddled perfectly to a crispy golden-brown, raising the bar for French toast at an affordable price.

Double Dipped French Toast is yet another example of why America turns to IHOP for breakfast any time of day—and has for over 57 years.  When it was introduced last summer, it became one of our most popular dishes, and guests have been eagerly awaiting its return. And it’s back in two new sweetly indulgent varieties:

Blackberry & Vanilla – Thick slices of Brioche bread dipped in our vanilla batter, then in cornflakes and oatmeal, griddled, and topped with plump blackberries and drizzled with vanilla sauce.

Banana, Peanut Butter & Chocolate – Thick slices of Brioche bread dipped in vanilla batter, then in cornflakes and oatmeal, griddled, and topped with sliced fresh bananas, chocolate chips and a drizzle of peanut butter sauce.

Guests can enjoy two slices of hand-crafted Double-Dipped French Toast any time of day as part of a combo with eggs, done the way they like them, their choice of crispy bacon, pork sausage links or a slice of grilled ham, and IHOP restaurants' signature golden hash browns;  or as an entrĂ©e stacked three slices high.

Double Dipped French toast will be available at participating IHOP restaurants between February 15 and April 10, 2016.

Feb 9, 2016

Celebrating Your Mom on her Birthday

A mother is truly an angel on earth, and throughout our lives she’s the one making sure every one of our birthdays is celebrated as it should be. Now that we know how much work goes into motherhood, it’s high time to return the favor and give Mom the birthday celebration she deserves. Use these heartfelt ideas and make her feel amazing on her special day.

A Surprise Knock at the Door

If you live far away from your mom, try your hardest to shock her with a surprise visit. If you’re planning far enough in advance, book a flight or make any necessary travel arrangements. Once you arrive, head over to her house and knock on the door. Tape a bow to the top of your head, and wait for the look on her face when she opens up the front door—you’ll definitely be her favorite present this year. If you have siblings, try to coordinate with them to have your visits coincide. She’ll be so delighted to have all of her kids home at once.

Floral Fun

Who doesn’t love the fragrant scent and colorful vibrancy of beautiful bouquets? Stick with a classic celebration tactic and send along your sweetest sentiments in the form of a birthday flower delivery. Whether you send along an arrangement to her office or her front door, every time she sees the colorful petals she’ll experience a rush of happiness—exactly what Mom deserves on her birthday. Make sure you add a heartfelt note that will bring a happy tear to her eye and let her know how thankful you are to have been blessed with such a wonderful mother.

A Special Lunch Date

If you live in the same city as your mom, make sure you take her out for a surprise luncheon. If she’s still working, head over to her office and pick her up for a fun mother-daughter date. If she’s at home, consider picking something up and delivering it to her. If you’re in another city or you can’t get over in time to celebrate with her during the middle of the day, call in her favorite order to her favorite takeout spot, pay for delivery, and wait for her call of thanks when she finds the feast at her front door.

A Subscription Just for Her

One of the best gift ideas you can find for your mom is a subscription box you know she’ll love. If she’s always been a makeup maven that loves trying out all the new cosmetic releases, get her signed up for BirchBox. This popular service will deliver a box of the latest makeup samples to hit the market every month. If your mom loves to get her hands messy in the kitchen, check out Blue Apron. This organic food delivery system will send boxes filled with fresh ingredients and unique recipes each week to make sure she keeps her spatula skills in fine form.

A Mother-Daughter Pampering Day

Moms new and old can appreciate this awesome gift idea. Kick your feet up together and head to a massage parlor or spa resort to have a day of mother and daughter pampering. Whether you two elect for full body massages, manicures, or facials, treating your mom to some luxury treatments and your loving company will combine for a wonderful birthday treat she’ll truly appreciate. If you have a daughter, take her along as well for a multi-generational day of laughter and destressing.

Giving Back

This a great idea if you’re struggling to come up with a gift for the woman who has everything. If your mother has worked to instill a sense of generosity in you, show her the lessons stuck by donating money to a charity in her honor. Whether it’s a local cause you know she’s passionate about or an organization you know will do a world of good, she will no doubt appreciate your thoughtful gift idea.

Make sure your mom is properly celebrated on her birthday this year with any one of these fun surprise ideas and make sure her day is as special as she is.

Bring The Spa Home For Less This Valentine's Day

One of the things I'm sure many moms can agree on is that we never take enough for ourselves. We are constantly trying to shuttle kids around, cook, clean, tackling mountains of laundry, and we tend to feel frazzled by dinnertime. Going to a spa sounds like a great idea, but the reality is that it's just not doable for most of us. Besides the cost involved, there is that time issue. Well why not bring the spa home to you? 

By having some simple items, you can feel pampered and relaxed without stepping foot outside of your home.

The Home Spa Treatment System by Instrumental Beauty is a great first step. This amazing tool is a 4-in-1 and is made for your body, face and feet. It has 4 attachment heads that include an over-sized rotary brush for the body, smaller one for face, a micro-dermabrasion sponge and a pedi smoothing stone.

This tool come with 4 AA batteries and packs a lot of power. It is a great way to feel like you had a mini spa session. It scrubs away dead skin to reveal your natural glow and to restore smoothness. I keep mine on the side of my tub for daily use, because why not! This home spa system can be purchased for only $30. I know you or someone you love is worth that. I'm sure you will not get any type of spa service for that price. Also to go along with your spa system, you need a good bath and shower gel. The Yardley Lavender and Rosemary is perfect! It is made with lavender essential oil and will calm your senses. At only $4.99, it's a great value. Definitely way less than the boutique brands, and just as effective. It's available at Walgreens, Rite-Aid, Publix and more.

Make sure you don't forget your lips. Yes, even your lips should be pampered. Lypsyl Ultra Soothing lip balm is a simple way to make your lips kissably soft and smooth. Formulated from all-natural, pure Swedish beeswax, and a combination of natural and therapeutic ingredients like organic Shea butter, coconut oil, Vitamin E and Vitamin A, Lypsyl provides unsurpassed moisture and lip protection. It’s only $2.99 and comes in Chamomile & Honey or Original Mint. You can purchase it at Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Rite-Aid and other retailers nationwide.

These items would make a great gift for Valentine's Day or as a just because gift. I'm thinking ahead of Mother's Day as well. Don't forget your co-workers, moms, sisters, girlfriends, teachers and YOURSELF!

I received product samples in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are 100% my own as always.  

Feb 4, 2016

Keeping Up With Your Exercise Goals Without Accidents #TryImpressa

Today's post is sponsored by Poise, but all opinions are my own

We just started the second month of 2016 and I am doing my best to keep up with a healthy routine that includes a good diet, drinking tons of water and exercising as much as I can. I admit, I have had several slip-ups and have to get myself back on track. One road-block, or what feels like one, is in the exercise department. It's not that I don't want to do it or don't have the motivation,  it's something totally embarrassing. Sometimes when I run on the treadmill or jump on the trampoline... well... I leak a little pee. There, I said it! I feel a slight urge that I need to go, but it's a leak. It is best known as Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI). Thirty-five million women experience SUI, a common type of bladder leakage, which can be triggered by coughing, sneezing, laughing, lifting or even exercise. UGH!

So what do you do about a problem like this? It's actually easy. You run to Walmart to the feminine products aisle and grab a Poise Impressa Bladder Support Sizing Kit. Yeah, I know it doesn't sound sexy at all, but let me tell you, this can be the answer! This product by Poise is made to be used like you would a tampon and can help prevent leaks from happening in the first place. Genius, huh? The Poise Impressa sizing kit comes with 2 of all 3 sizes to help you figure out what size you actually need. Note: they do not absorb like a tampon would since they are designed exclusively to help prevent light bladder leakage.

I am so happy that there is a solution that can give you back your freedom to be as active as you'd like. Oh, and just in the event you have to cough, sneeze or laugh. My daughters have a little joke that every time we start telling stories and I am about to break out into laughter, they ask, "Do you have your Poise?". I have come to the point of having no shame about what is happening to my body. I am lucky that this product works for me. I suggest you give it a try for yourself. If you have any doubts, you can discuss it with your doctor. Also be sure to grab a coupon here

Check out this short video of these women sharing their stories.

For more details about Impressa, visit their website and be sure to follow Poise on Facebook and Twitter for product promotions and updates.


Feb 2, 2016

Home Cleaning as a Life Lesson for Kids

Home cleaning can be both a blessing and a trial, especially if children are involved. But what you have never thought of is making your kids a part of the home cleaning process and making it both productive and fun for all parties involved. Kids can despise cleaning, yes, especially since it goes against everything they are investing every single waking moment in: making messes and not cleaning up after themselves. But when it comes to the greater good, you should try and make them compromise for the one cleaning and help you with it – and the results can be uncanny.

One way to get children really invested in helping you get the home clean is giving them roles. Make it a game for them, have them do assignments and give them rewards – this is how they spend their video game time, so they should be accustomed to doing it, but only this time their own imagination will be in charge of keeping them entertained. Give your son “missions” and your daughter “responsibilities” and see how they change and act their parts to fulfil the given assignment.

You can combine the roleplay with actual costumes! Kids will love to really pretend to be in other people’s shoes. One of kids’ best pastime is pretending they are adults, so give them adult roles and adult clothes and see how they will do their best to play out the role of their lives. Don’t underestimate the power of their imagination and how it can stimulate them to do real chores with actual desire.

Teaching Responsibility
The house cleaning can be a very good way to introduce the children to adult life and show them why doing what they are doing is important. Don’t treat them as kids, treat them as learning adults and explain how if the floor is not vacuumed, the house will be consumed in dust mites that carry diseases and spoil the quality of life in the house. Give them reasons to resent dirt and reasons to actually want the place to be clean. When a kid wants something, you know that the kid will get it, even if it has to do it itself. Also, the earlier the child starts getting used to chores, the less complaining there will be once it starts growing up, and not to mention that much more work will be actually done – imagine all the responsibilities that will be taken off your own hands!

Cleaning the house can show your kids what to expect one day when they are away from home, away from mommy’s cleaning services, and it will be up to them to keep their surroundings dirt-free. It is a life lesson like any other, but if you get them invested successfully, then you will soon have not children, but small adults running around, helping you around the house, full of desire to learn. Teach them enough and one day you will be able to sleep peacefully at night, certain that they will be able to take care of themselves.

Read more helpful cleaning related tips on: Notting Hill Cleaner Ltd.
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