the real us

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Creating Inspiration Week 1

One of my favorite things about social media is the opportunity to find inspiration from something a friend shares or from an image quote posted. I'll be sharing my own and some I come across that simply must be shared.

Here are a couple I created recently.

This Seek Balance image quote was designed for 6 Ways to Improve Your Skin and I've found that it has been a great reminder every time I look at it.

I created this for my twitter header last week.... the rainbow was inspired by my friend Melissa and my daughter Amberly who both love rainbows so much and remind me how much I love them and how they spread happiness.

image credit

When I saw this in my facebook stream the other day I immediately saved it. The quote just matches the image so perfectly.  And I believe this concept to be true.

Did any of these strike a chord with you? Let me know in the comments! That will inspire me to keep this up.

I've linked this post up here.....

Cuddle Fairy

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Red, White and Blueberry Simple Yoghurt Parfait

Today it was all about the yoghurt parfait. And simplicity. We've been trying to find simple, yet healthy snacks to mix things up a bit. Since Amberly loves helping in the kitchen I recruited her for this healthy snack mission and she happily obliged! With berries in season, this was a good time to recreate a personal favorite....

First, we headed to our local grocery store to purchase items for our Red, White and Blueberry Simple Yoghurt Parfaits. Red, white and blue make it perfect to enjoy for 4th of July celebrations you have coming up. Simple means you don't have a lot to fuss over and you can put the kids in charge of making it themselves.

1. Fresh Strawberries (Red)
2. Granola (for crunch factor!)
3. Mountain High Vanilla Yoghurt (White)
4. Fresh Blueberries (Blue)

Once we got home we were sure to rinse our berries.

Next, I had Amberly mash the strawberries to release more of their juice since that juice lends it's sweet flavor to each spoonful.

We found our strawberries were a bit tart. So we added 2 tsp. of sugar to the 1 pound of sliced strawberries before mashing them.

Now we have our layers lined up. It made sense to use ice cream scoops for simplicity

Now for assembly of the Red, White and Blueberry Simple Yoghurt Parfait!

Strawberries and granola. Check.

Mountain High Vanilla Yoghurt. Simple.

Then, blueberries. And repeat!

Now that is a beautiful and simple parfait!

She had so much fun creating this!

She can't wait to make these again! And neither can her brothers, whom she shared this with since we went a little overboard on layering. Good thing it is a healthy snack!

I love the idea of getting kids in the kitchen. The trick is to start off simply. We hope you try it with your kids this summer!

Thank you for checking out Mountain High Yoghurt. Doing so makes it possible for me to continue blogging. Be sure to download your coupon on their site HERE.

For more simple inspiration and healthy recipes visit Mountain High Yoghurt on their Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest pages!

I've linked up this post over at....

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Cuddle Fairy

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Operation Feel Better

Generally speaking my kids are healthy and for that I am grateful. For the past few years I have been fairly diligent in giving the kids vitamin D3. Except for when I don't. We get busy and I forget to make a stop to replenish our supply. So, that's when my kids get sick! Every. Damn. Time.

Kyle started with a cold last week and stayed home one day from school. He seemed to be getting better so he went back to school, but then this week it got worse. By today the cold had spread. Poor Amberly started really feeling it while she was on the softball field in the midst of a tournament. Directly after the game we headed to our neighborhood Sprouts to restock our medicine  get well cabinet.

There's a saying "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" but if you fail at prevention, you need to arm yourself with some effective treatments. I started to explore natural remedies and homeopathy when I became a mom. I think that is pretty common. We want to protect their little bodies from chemicals or additives that may negatively affect them. So here I share with you what we used for Operation Feel Better!

Boiron makes an entire line of homeopathic remedies and their products' effectiveness has made me a loyal customer for several years. The important thing with Coldcalm is to take it at the onset of symptoms for it to be most effective. I have found myself being able to nip a cold in the bud very effectively with Coldcalm.  HOT TIP: Always have some of this on hand to nip the cold in the bud.

All that coughing was leaving their poor throats sore. A friend told me about this particular tea from Traditional Medicinals a few months ago and it did the job. HOT TIP: They have a tea for just about everything and I love that they are organic!

This herbal dietary supplement has saved us many sleepless nights when there's a persisting cough.
And Wish Garden serious cough herbal remedy kicks in quickly! The cool thing about something working immediately for your child, it helps them remember why they need to take the "medicine" when we say so rather than trying to spend all night avoiding it. Even though the kids are not particularly fond of the taste, they will come to me with ease to get a squirt because they know it will impact how they feel. HOT TIP: I spray this under the tongue for quicker absorption, but it can be added to a cup of water.

Honey is one of nature's medicines. I give the kids a teaspoon and it reminds me of the song from Mary Poppins "A teaspoon of sugar helps the medicine go down" but of course this is the combination of both. HOT TIP: Be sure to buy organic and save our bees!

I was coming down with the cold myself and remembered reading somewhere that a swig of Apple Cider Vinegar is an effective remedy so I added a teaspoon of BRAGG organic ACV to my water several times that day. So far I've escaped the miserable symptoms the kids have suffered. The taste may be rather strong, but I got my daughter to give it a try. HOT TIP: To help the taste dilute with more warm water and add honey and lemon for a more pleasant drink

I've seen lots of tincture recipes that can ease the symptoms of a cold, but I like have some things that I can administer without any preparation and give everyone a sense of relief.

Have you tried any of these before? I bet you have some proven cold remedies of your own, please share in the comments below!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Baseball in San Diego Family Outing

My husband was so excited when the Padres made some big trades this off season to round out their pitching and their line up. Personally, I can't keep up with all of it but understood from all the buzz and excitement that this season is going to be pretty special. I'm a sports fan by marriage. I couldn't sit through 9 innings without some other fanfare going on.  I fully appreciate a quality family outing and Sundays at PetCo Park are a whole lot of fun!

Last year I don't think we made it to a game all season.... well, scratch that. My husband and Amberly went for girls softball night, but the boys and I stayed home. So it had been awhile since I'd been to the ballpark and let me tell you, I was impressed with the changes that have been made.

Kidsfest on Sundays is bigger and better!

I insisted that I get a photo of them before we start exploring. Owen was waiting with Dad in the line for the Little League parade.

The Friar stands tall out at the park at the park making it easy to find the festivities.

Kids can practice their pitching and batting at Kidsfest.

Kids love going down a gigantic slide. Again. And again. And again!

Jumpy houses are the perfect way to let the kids blow off some steam before heading to the seats.

There is complimentary face painting and balloon artists, it was a popular station!

Amberly found her BFF from softball! I love this face painter's work. This picture ended up on the Jumbo Tron a number of times before and during the game which was exciting!

Little League day is so much fun for the kids! We are so grateful that the Padres sponsor the uniforms for Rancho Penasquitos Little League. Don't they look good?

The kids got the special kid lunches. They liked the bags!

One of our favorite additions to PetCo Park a couple years ago was Phil's BBQ. They always have a long line before the game, but it is worth the wait!

Classic ballpark snacks to enjoy the game.

Bringing in some San Diego favorites like Stone Brewing and Pizza Port is a total win! I told my husband we'll have to plan to check it out when we go back for one of our baseball date nights.

We all had a great time and plan to catch a few more Padres games this summer!

Healthy Team Snacks - Part One

This year my husband decided to coach our youngest child in Little League. I thought this would be my perfect opportunity to implement Healthy Team Snacks by taking on the Team Parent role. 

When we had our first parent meeting I was glad to hear that many of the parents were on board with keeping the snacks healthy. One mom even came over and said "and make the snacks organic!" That was music to my ears, I had to give her a hug.

Our kids have been involved in team sports for 5 years now and I had witnessed the trend of junk and overly processed food as the easy grab and go option become the norm. It was my goal to help parents see the value of healthy snacks and see that it didn't really take a lot of time and that our kids would really eat them. I'm of the mindset that we can effectively impact their long term health by providing opportunities to eat healthy, especially when they are among their peers, whether that be at playgroup, birthday parties, team sports or school lunch. 

I know I don't want to lug a cooler to the fields when it's my turn to bring team snack. An easy solution is to get an insulated carrying case that you might use for picnics. We happened to win this one at a silent auction filled with goodies from Humphries Half Moon Inn & Suites a few years ago and it has gotten its fair share of use!

This reusable Hot & Cold Pack from Rite Aid has been an integral part of our Healthy Team Snack Bag because I'm usually packing something that needs to stay cold.... and it's not drinks.... this season I explained that the kids had their water bottles in the dug out and they don't need sugary drinks.

Recently, it was our turn to bring team snack. This particular week I did have a couple of organic items on hand that were perfect for team snack. It was actually organic baby carrots from Costco that served as my gateway to buying organic.

The Organic Valley "Stringles" is just one of the small changes we made in our food purchases after I attended ShiftCon.

Costco doesn't have organic grapes (at least the one I live closest to), so I normally give them a water-vinegar bath. I was out of vinegar this particular day and used Apple Cider Vinegar with water to rinse off some of that chemical residue. It's an important step because grapes are on the EWG Dirty Dozen. Sometimes I can't remember which items are on the Dirty Dozen and find myself second guessing myself when I'm grocery shopping. Well, the EWG has made it easier for us mom....  offering a free Consumers Guide to Pesticides in Produce bag tag when you support them with a $10 donation. I just did this and will be sure to share when I receive it!

I'm glad I got turned onto Braggs ACV and had it on  hand because I end up using it for a bunch of things.

 As I've mentioned before, clementines are a staple in our house, so adding one of those to each snack bag would ensure there was something in there that every kid liked. Really, when you think about it, generally kids like all of these things!

Putting 12 of these baggies together took about 20 minutes because I had to let the grapes soak. Keeping the team snack cool is critical if you want it to be well received.

We don't keep score, so at the end of the game everyone is a winner. And I feel like I'm a winner too when I can help a bunch of kids embrace healthy eating! 

Monday, May 18, 2015

6 Ways to Improve Your Skin

Just recently someone gave me the best compliment a girl can get.... "Your skin is so beautiful! How old are you?" I lit up and loved having someone notice what I've been doing to take care of my skin so I thought I'd share what I've been consciously doing to help my skin over the last year or two..

1. Schedule Regular Facials

About 2 years ago I started to go twice a month to my esthetician, Karen. Being in my mid thirties I knew that it was time to up the ante on taking care of my skin again like I did before having babies. To make sure I stayed on track I have my facial appointments scheduled out for the entire year. I have been seeing Karen for over 5 years and love that she knows my skin well and evaluates what I need at each visit. Every single facial at Firefly Wellness is customized. I've had such great results with Karen that I've referred several friends to her over the years and it makes me happy to see other moms getting a little pampering and investing in their skin. After all, we only get one face!

2. Be religious about skin exfoliation

I have 2 different scrubs that I love and when I don't stay on my weekly regiment I can tell. Gentle exfoliation of dead skin once a week leaves my skin feeling great and looking even better. It is like my mini facial at home! Be careful not to over do it with scrubs as it can have the opposite effect. About 2 years ago I bought a Clarisonic and love it when I remember to use it. Lucky for me, Karen at Firefly Wellness, will use the Clarisonic as part of my facial from time to time.

3. Sleep on a bamboo pillowcase 

Some time ago I read an article asking if pillowcases could be causing breakouts. It made so much sense! I ended up finding a couple of different bamboo pillowcases out there that I love and know it has contributed to my skin clearing up. The one I'm using right now is by Ecocise Bamboo Clothes and is reasonably priced.

4. Drink Green Juice

I've been drinking green juice regularly for about 2 months and feel like it is helping keep breakouts at bay and contributing to my overall skin appearance in addition to all the other things green juice is known for.

5. Stay hydrated

This one is the hardest for me to do because I hate stopping what I'm doing to go to the bathroom so often! But, every time I get on a "drink more water" kick, my skin looks and feels better. Being dehydrated makes our skin look more dry and wrinkled, so be sure to stay hydrated!

6. Seek balance or reduce stress

As moms we are often over committed and leave little time to take care of ourselves. I made a mental note of how much my skin has improved since taking back "me time" to recharge or just do what I want to do. "Me time" includes my twice a month facials. Karen gives an amazing neck, hands and shoulder massage with the full hour facial so I end up feeling both refreshed and relaxed. When our minds are reset, people can tell just by looking at our face. The way our skin looks and feels can be an indicator of your stress level. For some solutions to this common problem check out this article or incorporate some of the

One of the best things about having regular facials (aside from the fact that I get to be totally pampered and relax!) is that I know Karen is going to ask me if I've been keeping up on my skin care regiment. She's sort of like a personal trainer for my skin because this keeps me diligent about exfoliation and moisturizing.

I'd love to know what you do to nourish your skin and keep it looking youthful? I'll bet there are plenty of good tips I haven't heard of, so let's swap ideas in the comment section below!