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Dec 21, 2017

How Being Middle-Aged Has Changed My Life

I have been going through so many changes this year. It has been an unfortunate year filled with loss in a lot of different ways. I have really learned who is truly in my corner, through good and bad. It turns out that number has tremendously dwindled, and I struggled with it. I have been taking time out for myself to rest, refresh, and reset almost daily. If I'm not close to 100% emotionally and physically, well then I'm simply no good to anyone.

I have experienced some really great things this year. When I chose to stop focusing so hard on what I have lost, it opened my heart and mind to clearly see how much I have gained.
  • Worrying- I had to put a stop to this. I became so immersed in worry/anxiety/panic that it started to affect my well-being. I had to pound into my head that I can't change or control everything. Obsessing over things that might go the wrong way, or maybe go the right way isn't living. I had to come to a point where I say to myself, "Whatever the outcome may be, I will deal with it". As small as that might seem, it has helped me a lot. Things are going to happen the way they are intended. I can't do a thing about anything that has happened in the past. I can only focus on what's to come. 
  • Putting myself first- Most women don't know what this even means or how you even do it. I have made my health and happiness a priority. That is not negotiable. I no longer feel guilty doing nice things for myself or even indulging in what I want. As long as I don't go above my means, I allow myself the pleasures of life. I don't skimp on things for myself any more. 
  • Eating and sleeping- It's so hard sometimes to eat properly when all you want is cheese fries and sushi. I still fight hard to maintain balance, but don't deny myself of what I really want on occasion. I do drink plenty of water daily, and know if I haven't had enough by the way I feel. I find myself taking naps as I need. I don't worry about the dishes in the sink because they will still be there when I get up. Some nights I go to bed before 10:00. A well-rested Shelly is a happy Shelly. 
  • Protecting my spirit- I have been staying away from watching the news. The negativity really gets to me, especially when it deals with sexual abuse. It has come to the point where I have to deactivate some of my social media accounts for short periods of time. If it's not positively feeding my spirit, I steer clear of it. 
  • Saying no- For most of my life, I have felt a deep obligation to doing things for people. I would feel so guilty to not help. It has come to a point that if my gut tells me to say no, I say just that. The best part is I offer little to no explanation. Now that's some real growth right there! 
  • Ditching the planner- I have spent way too many years planning every single moment of my life down to the minute. I dumped my planner somewhere in my office and life has gone smoothly since then. Sometimes my husband will ask me if I want to take a ride to the beach or up north on a whim. This normally would have freaked me out because it wasn't planned, but now I don't care. I grab my shoes and bag and GO! 
  • Getting in pictures- I learned some time last year that my husband has been sneaking photos of me every time we travel. He would take pictures while I was applying make-up or cooking. I saw some of the photos and was like, you better not let anyone see these awful pictures of me! He didn't see it that way at all. He explained that my true essence shined through as I did the things I would normally do. I was being ME. He simply wants our children to have photos to look back on of me doing things either for myself, with them, or with him. Memories is what it's about. I've stopped being so hard on myself and started hopping in front of the lens instead of behind it. All of my 'imperfections', belly pooch and all are perfectly me, and I have grown to accept them.

Although I have experienced significant growth over the last year, I know I still have more to go. I'm open to it and not letting fear get in my way. So what's next? I don't know, and I don't intend on planning for it. I will let things be. Thanks for stopping by today.
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Dec 14, 2017

The Four Most Common Cosmetic Surgery Procedures for Women

Women all around the world have turned to cosmetic surgeons to help them achieve the physique and face that they desire. There are many different procedures available to women that feel they would like to change some aspect of their features and appearance.

Cosmetic surgery provides women with an option to take control of their body and eliminate their insecurities by improving their self-image. Here are the top four most-requested cosmetic procedures of 2017.

#1 Breast Augmentation
One of the most widely requested and well-researched cosmetic surgery procedures is breast augmentation. Many people know this by the term ‘breast implants’. However, an augmentation procedure is not meant to be thought of as just inserting some implants. Breast augmentation can also include lifts and tucks of the breast, as well as work on the aureole and nipple area.

Specialist surgeons will arrange a personalized consultation that gives the patient a choice of size and shape of their new breasts. The procedure is relatively complicated but comfortable enough for surgeons to complete without any severe complications.
Recovery time from breast augmentation is minimal, with most recovering in as little as six weeks. After the healing is complete, there is a follow-up process for the patient to complete to ensure no complications occur in the future.

Breast augmentation has been proven to have a lasting impact on the self-image of women and increases their confidence and self-image which is why it is the worlds most requested cosmetic procedure.

#2  Rhinoplasty
This procedure refers to cosmetic surgery on the nose. Statistics show that more than 220,000 women underwent a rhinoplasty operation in 2017. Colloquially referred to as a ‘nose job,' rhinoplasty offers women with insecurities around the size and shape of their nose, an opportunity to sculpt it into their ideal image.

Rhinoplasty is not always conducted purely for an aesthetic purpose. Some women may have difficulty breathing through their nose due to an abnormality such as a deviated septum. Rhinoplasty can reconstruct the nose and ensure the patient proper breathing ability through their nose.

#3 Abdominoplasty
Commonly referred to as a ‘tummy tuck,' Abdominoplasty removes unsightly cellulite and sagging skin from the abdominal area. Women that may have recently lost a significant amount of weight, or are recovering from pregnancy may have sagging skin. A tummy tuck removes the excess skin and adipose tissue from the abdominal area, returning the abdomen to its typical structure and shape. Abdominoplasty is the most popular form of cosmetic surgery in Australia, with many older patients requesting the procedure.

#4 Jaw Re-Shaping
This procedure is prevalent among Asian communities. Asians tend to experience a broad jaw-line in their genetic predisposition. This jaw-line creates the appearance of a round-face, even if the persons BMI is low. There are procedures available that shave down the jawline, however, this kind of intrusive surgery can be intimidating for many people.

There is a non-surgery alternative offered by top aesthetic clinics such as Dore Aesthetics. This non-surgical procedure involves jawline contouring sessions that are performed every week until the jawline is re-shaped to the desired ‘almond’ appearance.

The Final Thought
If you feel that your self-image could use a boost, then speak to a cosmetic surgeon about the options open to you. Remember to get a second opinion and only consider the surgery if you feel that it will improve your quality of life.
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Dec 11, 2017

Affordable Wine Gifts That Are Sure To Please

If you're still on the hunt for adult gifts, you should consider wine. Check out these brands that have a fun and familiar twist. As a matter of fact, any of these wines would make a great gift for the New Year.

Santa Margherita Sparkling Wines
From celebrations, to a lively dinner, Santa Margherita's Prosecco Superiore DOCG and Sparkling Rosé will pair perfectly with a variety of cuisines while adding a festive touch to any occasion.

Bachelor Wines ($15.96 per bottle)
Bachelor fans rejoice! The fan-favorite show has launched The Bachelor Wines, a collection of wines inspired by the award-winning television series. The Bachelor Wines features three varietals: The Fantasy Suite, One on One, and The Final Rosé. Available for purchase at

NPR Wine Club
This unique wine club was created for public radio supporters and wine enthusiasts alike, allowing listeners to enjoy premium wines from around the world and their stories - combining two of life's most enjoyable pleasures. As a member of the NPR Wine Club, consumers will receive a fully customized case of wine, shipped to the address of their choice every three months. As part of the introductory offer, new members will receive the inaugural releases of three NPR-Inspired Wines: All Grapes Considered Malbec, Weekend Edition Cabernet Sauvignon and NPR Uncorked Merlot. Alternatively, consumers can shop from a range of hundreds of different wines – and purchase in any quantity they wish (based on their taste and preferences) directly from the NPR Wine Club at

Epicurious Wine ($15.96 per bottle)
Epicurious, the pioneering digital food brand and one of the most trusted voices in food, has recently launched a new collection of custom designed wines for culinary and wine enthusiasts alike. Perfect for pairing with your favorite meals, Epicurious Wine varietals include a robust Cabernet Sauvignon and a delicate Chardonnay - both work well with cooking and drinking. To purchase the Epicurious Wines, visit

Turner Classic Movies Wine Club
The TCM Wine Club curates originally produced wines inspired by classic films as well as expertly selected varietals from renowned vineyards around the globe – all with the convenience of home delivery. As part of the inaugural offer, new members will receive fifteen special bottles including the first-ever release of Café Zoetrope, a custom-crafted red from the Francis Ford Coppola Winery. Members will also enjoy True Grit Limited Edition Zinfandel along with The Essentials Cabernet Sauvignon – the first in a series of single-varietal wines, specifically curated for TCM Wine Club members, to showcase the world's great grapes.

Which ones would you want to try?
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What To Pack For A Winter Sun Holiday

The sun might not be shining in your hometown, but you do not have to stay there during the holidays. You can head to a sunny destination if you are looking to escape the winter chill. When the shops are full of winter boots and coats, packing for the beach can be a bit intimidating.

No matter where you are going, you need to pack light. To find the best hotels in your destination location, you should check out any travel website for some offers. Here are some things that you should include in your travel bag:

A Versatile One Piece Bikini
Pack a reversible bikini if you want to be versatile while keeping your bags light. Packing busy patterns and bold tropical prints will allow you to stand out. However, if you want to wear something elegant and classy, stick with a solid one-piece.

According to the owner of Wear Saga, if subdued elegance is what you are after, go for a plain black or blue swimsuit. Wearing classic colors will allow you to have the time of your life while looking stylish.

Stylish Cover-up
The ultimate beach accessory is an exotic and bright kaftan. If you want to lounge by the pool or sunbathe by the beach, head out in a colorful kaftan. Not only is this outfit stylish but it is also weather-appropriate.

A Chiffon Dress
In the hot weather, chiffon material is your best friend because it is light. You need to pack several lightweight mini dresses in a range of colors and styles to style up your beach wardrobe. Nude and white shades are flattering if you have a tan while bold and floral prints provide some flair.

You can slip on your chiffon mini dress when going to bask on a yacht. Moreover, you can wear it to lunch at an outdoor restaurant.

Beach-ready bag

A canvas backpack, quirky tote, and straw bag are all ideal for a day on the beach. You can use these carry bags to transform from a day on the beach to a night of drinking at the bar. You can use the bag to carry your sun block lotion, sunglasses, and a change of clothes.

Wide-legged Pants
You can opt for billowing, silky pajama style pants on breezy days when you are looking for more cover. Moreover, patterned wide-legged pants can add a touch of sophistication and style to your outfit. You should pair the pants with a flowing, loose blouse for a nonchalant yet classy style. Flat shoes will work just fine when navigating the sandy beaches.

Day to Night Heels
You do not want to sink in the sand as you enjoy some sun during your holiday. Moreover, you do not want to appear clueless as you trot along boardwalks in stilettos. Make sure to pack some chunky heels such as wedges and thick platforms when going on a winter sun holiday.

When it comes to holidays in the sun, accessories are necessary. Sunglasses are necessary for defining your beach style and protecting your eyes from the sun’s glare. A hat also protects you from the sun’s rays and adds an haute feel to your outfit.

Hair and Skin Protection
Carry sunblock with an SPF of over 30 for anti-wrinkle action and maximum skin protection. You need to buy a moisturizer with sun protection for some light coverage during the evening. Using a lip conditioner will protect your lips from the sun and prevent drying. As for your hair, you need to buy moisture spray. 
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5 Creative Ways to Use Cardboard Packaging Boxes

If you’ve just moved or bought tons of discount appliances during the Black Friday sale, you know how much of a struggle it can be dealing with all those boxes left behind. Chances are you have a lot of different boxes you don’t want to throw away but have no need for any more. Relax, so do thousands of other Americans. But what if you could use the boxes for creative purposes instead of having them gathering dust?

Cardboard boxes come in many styles and sizes, and all of them can be extremely useful if you know how to put them to use. If you want to repurpose those boxes instead of recycling them, in this article, we’ll give you a couple of creative ideas how you can use them.

Great Storage Alternative 
Obviously, the best way to use old boxes is for storage. You could use boxes to store things like old magazines, personal files, clothes you can’t fit into or don’t need this season, dishes you only take out for special occasions, old toys or Halloween costumes and other items you don’t use every day.

Of course, you wouldn’t want old, dull-colored boxes to ruin the look of your home. That’s why you should decorate them a bit before repurposing them for storage. Use paint or decorative paper to breathe new life into those old boxes.

Old-Fashioned Toys 
It’s hard to believe that children used to play with anything else other than smartphones once upon a time. Why not show them how kids used to play when times were simpler. Cardboard boxes make for excellent dollhouses, forts, playhouses or make-believe trains. You can also use them to build an obstacle course for a laser-tag game.

Boxes can also be used for a killer Halloween robot costume. All you need is a little bit of glue, spray color and a couple of markers. You could even go one step further and add led lights. The only limit is your imaginations.

Pets Love Boxes
Everyone knows cats and dogs both love boxes, and enjoy playing with them and taking a cozy nap there. They can be used to make great pet houses, but your cat will appreciate if you just leave it out like it is. The cardboard can also be used to create a cheap scratching post for your cat.

Christmas Gifts
Another fairly obvious choice is repurposing old cardboard boxes to create Christmas presents like those you see in commercials or on the Internet. A great part of the Christmas gift is getting to unwrap it, so why not do more than just wrap it in paper or put it in a fancy bag. Everyone, especially kids, will appreciate getting to unwrap a classic, bulky Christmas present.

Use them to Mail Items 
The main purpose of any box is to protect the item that came with it, so why not use them as originally intended. If you mail a lot of stuff all through the year, you can use the cardboard to protect the items you’re sending. You can also use cut-out cardboard to protect photographs or documents you’re mailing.
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Winter Giveaway $140 PayPal or Amazon

Hi everyone! I have teamed with an amazing group of bloggers to bring you one last giveaway for the year. This time the prize is the winner's choice of $140 PayPal or Amazon gift code. It's the perfect gift to treat yourself after the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, and a great way to start 2018. I hope you enter! All details are below. 

How to enter: There are 14 blog listed. Each comment is an entry and you may comment once each day on a different post. Only comments posted during this giveaway are eligible. This giveaway starts December 10 at midnight EST. Entrants must be USA residents and at least 18 years old. One winner will be randomly selected from all qualifying entries and contacted via the email they provide. The email will come from joannegreco at gmail. The winner has 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. The prize is $140 in Paypal or Amazon online gift card, winner’s choice.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Dec 7, 2017

Gifts For Guys Under $30

Are you are still scrambling around for ideas on what to buy for the guy in your life? My husband is a fairly simple man who tends to prefer useful, practical gifts over gadgety or trendy things. Any type of clothing or outerwear is usually a winner for him. I wanted to alert you all that Haggar is having a huge sale on December 9th, offering some of their most popular dress and casual pants for under $30. Haggar is one of our favorite men's clothing brands, and my husband has many pieces in our closet right now. Whenever I think of the Haggar brand, I think of a well-dressed, sophisticated man.

We generally purchase the brand at JCPenney, Kohl's, or Belk. This time we browsed the Haggar site and found exactly what he needed without getting up from the couch. Also, their prices are way better directly on their site. I was concerned about a specific fit of some of the pants, and tested out their live chat feature. I was quite pleased with how professional and helpful the rep was. My question was answered immediately, and she sent me some links of items that matched what I was looking for. I'm impressed with their excellent customer service.

Let me tell you about their big sale! The following styles are perfectly priced for gift-giving, and all under $30.

#1 Dress Pant in America: E-CLO (made from recycled water bottles) $27.99 These are a great addition to any man's weekly work attire and can go from day to night. And that price?!

#1 Casual Pant in America: Premium No Iron Khaki $29.99 This one is my husband's favorite, and comes in a variety of colors. They wash really well and are a staple in any man's wardrobe. 
Cool 18 Pro (Wick Dry, UV Protection Lightweight Pants) $29.99 These are lightweight and can go from the office straight to the golf course. 

All of these styles come in a variety of colors. My husband has heavily hinted that he needs each style in every color. I guess I better make sure to hit up that sale on the 9th! The Haggar website is super easy to maneuver. It's as if it was created with a man's shopping brain in mind. You know, get-what-you-need-and-go!

Don't miss out on these great deals from on December 9th. The good news is that they always offer great sales and deals, so check the site often. Follow Haggar on Facebook and Twitter for the latest deals and updates.

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Dec 6, 2017

Stevia In The Raw Can Help Lighten Up Your Holiday Desserts

The product, information, and gift card have been provided by the makers of In The Raw® so that I could try the product and share my thoughts and information about Stevia In The Raw® Bakers Bag. The opinions expressed in this post are my own and do not reflect the opinions of the makers of In The Raw® sweeteners.

The holiday season means the time of year where many of us over-indulge in sweets and treats. Although we have made some significant dietary changes in my household, it won't stop us from the occasional dessert item. This year we are trying something new by adding some Stevia In The Raw for sweetening. Stevia In The Raw is a zero-calorie sweetener and contains an extract from the sweet leaves of the stevia plant.

I'm sure you are thinking that I am talking about those itty bitty packets. Nope, Stevia In The Raw also comes in a bakers bag which means measuring the correct amount is easy. Also, it is formulated so that 1 cup has the same sweetness as 1 cup of sugar. When using Stevia In The Raw Bakers Bag for baking recipes, it is recommended that the user replace about half of the sugar in order to achieve the proper browning, rising and caramelizing that only sugar can provide. Would you believe that up to 700 calories are saved for every cup of sugar that is replaced with Stevia In The Raw Bakers Bag?

Since this is the baking season, I'd like to share some festive recipes with you.

Chocolate Peppermint Truffle Tart

Cookie Crust
9 ounces chocolate wafer cookies
5 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon Sugar In The Raw®
1 tablespoon Stevia In The Raw®

Chocolate--Peppermint Filling
12 ounces unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
5 tablespoons cold butter, cut into cubes
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup Sugar In The Raw®
3/4 cup Stevia In The Raw®
1 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

Whipped Cream
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons Sugar In The Raw®
1 teaspoons Stevia In The Raw®

Preheat oven to 350℉. Lightly grease a 9” round springform pan with removable bottom and sides. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse chocolate cookies until fine. Transfer to a bowl and stir in melted butter, Sugar In The Raw and Stevia In The Raw until well combined. Press mixture into bottom and up the sides of pan. Bake crust until firm - about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.

In a medium bowl, add chocolate and butter. In a small saucepan bring cream, Sugar In The Raw, and Stevia In The Raw to a boil whisking constantly until Sugar In The Raw and Stevia In The Raw are completely dissolved. Pour cream over the chocolate and butter and whisk until chocolate has melted. Stir in peppermint and pour into crust. Chill at least one hour.

In a large bowl beat cream, Sugar In The Raw, and Stevia In The Raw on high speed until stiff peaks form - about 1 minute. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve tart.

Slice tart and top with whipped cream and dust with cocoa powder.

You also must check out the recipes for Chocolate-Espresso Pizzelles and Gingerbread Butterscotch Trifles for a festive addition to your holiday dessert table.

You can find out more about Stevia In The Raw, and other In The Raw products on their website. We are big fans of the Agave In The Raw. It has replaced sugar in our coffee and tea, with no difference in taste. Also, be sure to grab some valuable money-saving coupons here.

Giveaway: The makers of Stevia In The Raw® are providing a Bakers Bag product sample and a $25 online Visa gift card to one lucky Mom Files reader to win. Enter below:

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This giveaway is open to U.S. Residents only and ends on December 17, 2017. Must follow rules in Rafflecopter. One winner will be chosen randomly. Mom Files is not responsible for any lost or stolen prizes. Good luck!
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Dec 3, 2017

Callaloo Box Makes The Perfect Gift (Giveaway)

I have been living in South Carolina for close to two decades now. It’s hard to believe that so many years have passed that quickly. I have watched the city of Columbia really grow and get a lot more diverse. Sadly it still lacks something very important to me, culturally. We have so few West Indian/Caribbean grocery stores, and the ones we do have aren’t great and don’t carry all of what I need.

A couple months ago, I was so lucky to get connected with Callaloo Box. If you'd like, you can read this post for a little background. Callaloo Box is a U.S. based subscription service that brings you many of those hard-to-find Caribbean sauces, snacks, and other food products right to your doorstep. I can’t even begin to tell you all how excited I get when a box shows up at my house. It’s like Christmas every time! Speaking of Christmas, the December box is themed for the holiday season and they didn’t miss a thing.

I felt so nostalgic the moment I saw the contents. It’s as if I was transported to my childhood during Christmastime. Here’s what is in the December 2017 Callaloo Box:
Dried Sorrel- which is dried hibiscus. You boil it with cinnamon sticks, cloves, bay leaves and ginger, then sweeten to taste. You can also make alcoholic beverages with it.
Mauby Bark & Spices- It is dried buckthorn bark, which is a species of tree found in many Caribbean islands. It’s been likened to root beer by many. You prepare it just as you would the sorrel.
Mixed Essence- Growing up, we called extract ‘essence’. This is a key ingredient in ice cream, baked goods and certain beverages like mauby. I remember my mom used to make freshly squeezed lemonade or limeade, and always added a few drops of essence.
Lime Flavoured Hot Sauce- A blend of hot peppers, lime & herbs, pickled in vinegar. It’s perfect with any dish, especially seafood and fish. It has the perfect zesty kick.
Hot Chow aka Chow Chow- It’s a spicy, mustard-based pickled relish that’s the Caribbean’s version of the English “Piccalilli”condiment. It contains small chunks of vegetables and tropical fruits. It’s got quite a kick!
Split Channa- It’s salted fried chickpeas spiced with pepper. It was a common snack in our house, and my dad used to make it for us and fill it in jars. This one tastes exactly like I remember.
Black Cake- This is a true sign of Christmas time. My mom made this cake every year and would soak her dried fruits in rum months in advance. I can remember the smell in the kitchen as they baked. She made the best black cake ever. Now let me tell you, this cake tasted exactly what my mom used to make. I got a little teary-eyed being transported back to my childhood. It is the star of this box!

The ladies of Callaloo Box did a great job with the items they chose to make this box perfectly themed for Christmas. I think this one is my favorite so far, but all of them are my favorite! You can tell that they hand pack the boxes with love, and leave no details out. They include an information sheet with descriptions and suggestions of how to use or serve each product.  I am also so happy that they are now offering items for sale individually. Their prices beat Amazon hands down! I ordered a couple packs of pholourie mix since I can’t find it anywhere locally. I'm also very proud to help support a small business at the same time. By the way, they have pretty speedy shipping, which is always a plus.

Not only does Callaloo Box offer monthly boxes, they also have a new snack box ($29.99) and product bundles (ranging in prices under $30). If you or someone you know is interested in Caribbean/West Indian cooking or simply can’t get many products locally, Callaloo Box is for you. It makes such a great Christmas gift, and the recipient would LOVE it. The monthly boxes are $39.99 and if you use this code: MOMFILES5, you will get $5 off your first box with subscription or a 1 time box purchase.

Our generous friends from Callaloo Box want you to experience a box for yourself. One reader will win the December box valued at $39.99. Enter below:
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This giveaway is open to U.S. Residents only and will end on December 15, 2017. Please follow entry rules in Rafflecopter widget. Mom Files is not responsible for any lost or stolen prizes. Good luck!

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