2017 | NESHEAHOLIC

Monday, June 26, 2017

Why you should get pregnant in January

This post contains affiliate links. 
why you should get pregnant in January

My husband and I are avid planners. There aren't many decisions we make that aren't planned out and we have spreadsheets for most parts of our lives. When we decided to have a child we aimed to knock me up at the beginning of the year. I purposely got pregnant in January. Starting your pregnancy in January means: 

You'll be the most pregnant in summer.  

On the surface this sounds like a horrible thing, but being the biggest in the summer means spending way less money on maternity clothes than you would in the winter. Maternity clothes are expensive, and the more fabric you need to clothe yourself, the more expensive they're going to be. There is no need to buy maternity outerwear or sweaters when you're pregnant in the summer. I was able to stretch many of my summer dresses into maternity dresses. Also, flip flops. By the end of my pregnancy the only shoes I could fit were my Nike flip flops, I don't know what I would have done if I needed to wear closed shoes. 

You'll start breastfeeding in colder months. 

This is going to come in handy because you can get away with draped and heavy fabrics in the cooler months which can help you cover up while feeding if needed, and hide those wacky breast pads or surprise leaks.

You'll still be bundled up while you lose the baby weight. 

 I was glad to have a few months before I had to be in a tank top again. The fall/winter months gave me a chance to shed some of the baby weight before less clothes and thinner fabrics were a must. 

No matter what month you get pregnant in, you get a baby at the end, and that is spectacular. 



When did you get pregnant? What were the advantages of the time frame?
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Sunday, June 11, 2017

3 Ways to Keep Kids Interested in Their Toys


It used to feel like BabyCakes had a boatload of toys but we still found ourselves trying to figure out ways to entertain her. We do have a lot of toys, but they weren't keeping her interest. I stopped buying new toys and tried three things have that proven to keep her playing with the toys she does have.

3 Ways to Keep Kids Interested in Their Toys

Rotate Toys 

A great way to keep kids interested in their toys is to rotate them. Don't have all your toys out at once. Have a group of toys out and rotate them occasionally. Because BabyCakes is at school during the day and doesn't play with much during the week we rotate toys about once a month. If there is a long stretch of time when we are stuck in the house I may rotate them more often. Most people suggest 6 weeks as a good amount of time between rotations. This makes kids re-engage with items they haven't played with in a while and it's like they have a new toy!

how to keep kids interested in their toys


Use Toys in a New Way

If your child doesn't seem interested in a toy anymore try using it in a new way. If they are tired of building with blocks try having them sort blocks by color. Create a homemade ramp to race toy vehicles down. Hook vehicles together with pipe cleaners and create a long train of vehicles to push around. Think outside the box!

Play in Different Spaces

Playing with a toy in a different area can be all a child needs to get excited about the toy again. If it's warm bring some toys outside for play. Set up a play space in the kitchen or any other room where your child doesn't normally play. This will give them the opportunity to interact with the toys in a new way!

Even with trying these techniques there may be toys that your child is just not into any more. Check out my tips for decreasing toy clutter.

How do you keep your child interested in their toys?

Related Posts: 

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Sunday, June 4, 2017

Corner Bakery Cafe Giveaway

Corner Bakery Cafe was gracious enough to send me $30 in gift cards and I'd like to gift them to one of the lovely Working Motherhood readers!



Corner Bakery Cafe started in downtown Chicago creating artisan breads and freshly baked sweets. Neighbors began to ask for sandwiches made with that fabulous bread, followed by homemade soups and salads. As guests' requests grew so did their menu and business.

Today they are serving ingredient-inspired, prepared-to-order food in 26 has states. Their menu includes salads, sandwiches, breakfast items, soups, chili, bakery goodies and more. Their kids menu is also very diverse.

Credit: Corner Bakery Cafe Facebook Page

If you live near a Corner Bakery Cafe enter to win $30 in gift cards below!
Giveaway closes midnight June 11, 2017. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Monday, May 15, 2017

5 Reasons You Should Go to Therapy

Today's post is in honor of Bloggers for Mental Health Awareness. Follow the hashtag #B4MH for more content from Bloggers in support of Mental Health Awareness. 



I've been going to therapy for six months. There. I said it. Actually, if you interact with me IRL you probably already know this. I am a huge proponent of therapy. I'm not ashamed to say that I need help. I acknowledge that I am privileged in my ability to be comfortable in that confession. For many, having to seek therapy is something taboo or embarrassing.  Life can be overwhelming. Don't be ashamed to seek help. Whether you keep it to yourself or shout it from the rooftops you need therapy. Here are 5 reasons you should go to therapy:

Mental Health is a Part of Self-Care
I am a self-care advocate and an essential part of self-care is mental health wellness. Mental health is just as important as physical wellness. Maintenance of your mental health should be as routine as eating right, going to the gym, and brushing your teeth.

Your Friends, Family, and Spouse are Bias
 Many people think they don't need therapy because they have a vast network of friends and family, or a partner who they can go to to talk about their problems. The issue with this is that friends, family, and partners will always be biased. It is essential to have a person who has no stake in your life helping you to sort through issues. Friends and family, even if unintentionally, will steer you in a direction that is best for them. Your therapist is 100% on your team. They have no biases and function completely to support you and no one else.

Therapists are Professionals
 Another deficit of friends and family is that they are not professionals. Therapists go to school for years to learn methods and tactics to help identify issues and work through them. While it is great to have someone to lend an ear, therapists are professionally equipped to help you. A huge component of their skill is that they are able to help you work through your problems without taking on the emotional burden.

It's the Ultimate in Me-Time
How often do you focus 100% on yourself? Therapy is one of the only times where the focus is completely on you. It is a brief opportunity to focus completely on yourself without distraction. This is very important.

You Need to Get Your Feelings Out to Deal With Them
Keeping your feelings and emotions bottled up inside is not healthy. That practice will leave you extremely unhappy or to an explosion of emotion. I really love journaling as a way to get my feelings out. The combination of journaling and then talking about the things I've journaled in therapy has really been helpful in sorting out emmotions and taking action to change things that make me unhappy.

I can't end this post without acknowledging that everyone cannot afford traditional therapy services. If you fall into that category, please check out this post: 81 Awesome Mental Health Resources when You Can't Afford a Therapist. 
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Monday, May 8, 2017

Unconventional Potty Training Supplies

This post contains affiliate links. For more information view my disclosure policy

We're currently in the process of potty training. While I'd hoped we'd skate through on the three day method it's taking us a little longer than that to really get this potty training thing off the ground. We've had some potty successes, and I've cleaned pee from the floor a few times, but we're getting there!

In preparation for potty training I got all the usual supplies - a potty chair, a potty seat for our standard toilet, panties, etc. Now that we've been in this potty training game for a little over a week there are some other items that have come in handy that I didn't see on anyone's potty training prep list.

Unconventional Potty Training Supplies




Grubhub

Do you know what's extremely stressful? Trying to watch your child for signs they need to use the potty, putting them on the potty at set intervals, and trying to cook, all at the same time. I saved a bit of my sanity a few days by ordering food via Grubhub and putting all my focus on my daughter. It really is an all consuming processes if you're being as present as you should be so not having to cook dinner simultaneously was a weight off my shoulders. Alternatives are planning some freezer meals or crock-pot meals ahead of time, anything that doesn't require you to watch the stove tentatively.

Prefolds

We have prefolds around the house because we started our diapering journey with cloth diapers. I've found prefolds extremely handy during potty training for placing on surfaces like her high chair and car seat. Those are situations where she's seated for a while and not taking a potty break so I feel more comfortable knowing there is a barrier. An alternative I've heard of is people using puppy pads this same way. But prefolds are washable so it's more economical to use them and toss them in the laundry with any other casualties of potty training.

Babylegs

Babylegs are another item we had around the house that we've pulled back out during potty training. You're encouraged to have your child in either nothing or just underwear on bottom when you're at home to make for easy removal when rushing to the potty. When it's cold weather or your have the air conditioner running it's nice to have something covering your child's legs for warmth that doesn't need to be pulled down. And in all honesty, they help to catch pee if accidents to happen as well.

I'm crossing my fingers that we'll be out of the potty training weeds within a month. Please feel free to share any potty training tips, tricks, or resources you may have!

potty training book and potty training chart


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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

6 Expired Items In Your Kitchen Right Now

This post contains affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase I get a small percentage of your order but your price remains the same. 

The other day while dinner was cooking I decided to go through my kitchen cabinets and refrigerator to toss any expired items. I filled almost an entire kitchen trash bag with expired items and I was amazed at how old some of the things I found were! I'm talking items that expired more than two years ago. There were some items that I honestly didn't think even had expiration dates. Here are 6 items to check the expiration date on today:

kitchen


Spices. 

I assumed because salt is said to never expire that all spices had an infinite shelf life, but that is not the case. Spices were the worst offenders in my purge. My issue is that I have so many spices in my cabinet that I often repurchase spices when I don't need them because I forget I already have them. I'm going to grab a couple of these revolving spice racks for my cabinet so I can better see what I have in stock and avoid double purchasing. I really don't need three containers of paprika lol.


Dried herbs. 

Similar to the spices, I often double or triple purchase dried herbs when I'm shopping for recipes because I forget I already have them. While dried herbs last much longer than fresh herbs they do expire! 

Sauces. 

Keep an eye on your sauces for two reasons. First, of course, is the expiration dates. Secondly, be cognizant of whether the sauce is to be kept in the cabinet or in the refrigerator after opening. While I was checking expiration dates I also found items that I'd kept in the cabinet for months that were supposed to be refrigerated after opening so I tossed them. Always rely on the manufacturers recommendation for how to store products. 

Flours. 

If you don't use flour often opt for the smaller bags to fit your specific recipe needs. Getting the big bags may seem cost effective but if 90% of your bag of flour will expire before you can use it it's not worth it. 

Sugars.

In this cabinet purge I ended up tossing all my sugar! I had some brown sugar and coconut sugar that were both expired. I also made the mistake of putting my white sugar in a separate container and not making note of the expiration date on my new container. Don't be like me! Label your items if you move them from their original packaging. 

Teas. 

Who knew tea could expire?! I had such a large tea stash and ended up having to toss a lot of it that had expired. I'm going to stick to sampler or variety packs of tea from now on so I can have flavors to choose from but not such a large volume since I'm the only tea drinker in the house. 

Now that I know these items indeed do have expiration dates I'll make checking them part of my spring cleaning routine each year. 
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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Trip to LEGOLAND Discovery Center Philadelphia + GIveaway

Thank you to LEGOLAND Discovery Center Philadelphia for our complimentary tickets and the tickets I'm giving away! 



The new LEGOLAND Discovery Center Philadelphia  just opened and we had a chance to visit this weekend. We had such a good time. I love places where BabyCakes can run around and explore to her heart's content. The facility is much bigger than I thought it would be. The 33,000-square-foot Discovery Center features 10 LEGO Play Zones.



As an adult I was really impressed by MINILAND®. It showcases Philadelphia landmarks recreated from nearly 1.5 million LEGO bricks. It's pretty impressive.

LEGOLAND Discovery Center MINILAND

LEGOLAND Discovery Center MINILAND


There is also the LEGO 4D Cinema, LEGO Racers Build & Test area where you can build a LEGO vehicle and take it to the ramps to test, LEGO® NINJAGO Training Camp and Laser Maze which are great for older kids looking to test out their ninja skills, Pirate Adventure Island which is a really cool pirate themed play area for kids between 36" and 60", and DUPLO® Park which was BabyCakes's favorite area featuring special big soft bricks.


Click here for the full listing of attractions. I was disappointed that the Imagination Express, an interactive LEGO ride, was having technical difficulties while we were there so we didn't get a chance to ride it. I definitely want to do that the next time we visit. 

I highly suggest if you plan to attend that you purchase your tickets and reserve your time-slot ahead of time. There were people attempting to purchase walk-up tickets when we were there at 10am and they were told there were no time-slots available until 2:45pm, so plan ahead!

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Philadelphia

I'll make getting tickets even easier for you! I will be choosing two winners to receive 4 tickets to LEGOLAND Discovery Center Philadelphia. Enter in the Rafflecopter widget below. Giveaway closes April 28th. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Sunday, April 9, 2017

I Wasn't Ready to be a Mother to a Toddler

To my recollection I was a good kid. I can recall two spankings in my life - one for cursing, and one for saying our house was "ghetto." Because I was a good kid I assumed I would have a good kid. We had BabyCakes, she's a great sleeper, good eater, and says please and thank you. And then... the Terrible Twos hit.

flower nested in rocks

I suppose I should be grateful that they didn't come until 2 and a half. The tantrums, the intentional defiance, she became a tiny tornado in the house. Her daycare provider commented on her new level of noncooperation.  I had no idea what to do. Because I assumed I would just get a good kid, I hadn't deeply thought about discipline and behavior modification.

The reality is she is still a good kid,  great in fact, but I needed to step my parenting game up. Children NEED discipline, and I'd really only been intentionally disciplining about half the time. The other half I tried to placate  her to attempt to avoid a tantrum. She had been such an easy kid until 2.5 but she now needs more discipline and more structure. The toddler  years are really all about them exploring their boundaries, and if you let them, they will push you to the edge.

I've re-calibrated, and I'm putting more intentional effort into behavior management and I feel like I already see a change. I also picked up the parenting book (affiliate link) 1-2-3 Magic which was recommended by a lot of moms and I'm looking forward to reading it.

This is just one of many times I've wondered if I'm doing any of this motherhood thing right, and it surely won't be the last. Motherhood doesn't come with a manual and every child is different. I may not always know what's right but I'll always do the best I can to take care of BabyCakes and that's all I can do!



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Saturday, April 1, 2017

Why Moms Need a Good Night’s Sleep and How to Get It

I don't know if you could tell, but sleep is very important to me. Hence my posts:

How to get a good night's sleep as a couple & The three stages of pregnancy sleep

It became even more important to get a good night's sleep after I had BabyCakes. I'm the first one up in the morning so I set the tone on getting everyone up and out the door.

Today I'm sharing a contribution from freelance writer Jenny Holt about why moms need a good night's sleep, and how to get it. Jenny is a mother of two. She loves nothing more than getting away from it all and taking her pet Labrador Bruce for long walks, something she can do a lot more now she's left the corporate world behind.

sleeping mother

I used to sleep well. Really well. In fact, a little too well. Years of good, happy sleep felt beyond me after I became a mother. That’s what we do, right? We somehow keep on going, drawing on superhuman supplies of hidden energy to do all the things we need to do, look after the kids, and all without a good night’s sleep. However, this does not have to be the case. We can, get a good night’s rest, and here’s some strategies to help:

  1. Sleep Training for the Kids: Perhaps the most important one is their sleep, not just yours. By training your children early to sleep in predictable patterns and to not wake you up during the night, you too can sleep well. Start at the 4 month old mark and be prepared for sleep training, it won’t be easy.

  2. Make Sure Your Bed is Comfortable: A good bed is a necessity and not just a luxury. You want one which is comfortable, has good, soft sheets, and is a pleasure to lay in. Find a bed which suits your preferences to get the best sleep possible.

  3. Diet: Be careful of what you eat. Some foods, such as those full of sugar or caffeine will inhibit sleep. It’s ok to have a coffee or three in the morning, but keep off the caffeine after midday. Furthermore, promote wholegrains and vitamin rich foods in your diet. It’s ok too to use supplements such as magnesium which promote a natural, good sleep.

  4. Changing our Lifestyles: Exercise as a mother is not normally an issue, but if you feel you’re not getting enough, see if you can find ways to walk more or do fitness classes even if it means giving their father more alone time with the kids. This can make it easier for the body to shut off. A bonus is, if you get a good night’s sleep after exercising it promotes weight loss.

  5. Turning Your Mind Off: The mind can easily become overactive; especially if you are using TV, computers or smartphones late at night. Instead, switch them off an hour before bed, and read or talk instead. Furthermore, try deep breathing meditation as a means of clearing the mind and calming the heart.

  6. Stick to Your Schedule: Create a schedule for yourself, some studies even suggest having the same waking and sleeping schedule everyday of the week be it a work day, a weekend, or a day off. Keep to the schedule so your body falls into a good rhythm.
How are you working to get better sleep at night?
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Sunday, March 26, 2017

5 Ways to Declutter Your Life

a clean minimal desk

I am overwhelmed.

Is it just me or is it hard to focus on just one thing at a time these days? We're pulled in five different directions, doing three things at once, while two different electronics chirp, beep and buzz at us with reminders and notifications.

As part of my goals for the year I want to live a life of less. I want less of what I don't need so I can enjoy what I have more. I'm working on a minimalist journey. This is happening in multiple ways. I'm getting rid of obligations that don't serve me, I'm getting rid of physical items from our home that we no longer use or need, and I'm simplifying my online life.

5 Ways to Declutter Your Life


Unsubscribe from unwanted e-mails. Making a quick count, I manage four e-mail addresses every day and more than that on occasion. My inbox is one of the most cluttered spaces in my life. I am unsubscribing from e-mail lists from places that I no longer engage, or retailers where I rarely shop. It's very nice to see a manageable number of unread e-mails and not waste time deleting things that don't interest me.

Turn off push notifications on your phone. You don't need notifications every time someone posts into a Facebook group or tags you in a funny meme. Those notifications can easily derail you from your important tasks during the day. My phone only alerts me for calendar reminders, calls, and text messages. Anything else isn't urgent. It's very easy to get sucked down a rabbit hole from getting game or social media notifications. Avoid that all together by turning off push notifications and only engaging in the apps when you have time or when you've planned to. Turning off Facebook notifications in particular has made my life so much better. Speaking of Facebook...

Clean up your Facebook groups. For some reason Facebook allows your friends to add you into Facebook groups without seeking permission. The consequence is consistent notification of postings in a place you didn't opt-in to. Don't feel bad about ditching a group you aren't interested in, even if a good friend invites you.

Clean your work area at the end of each week. This was actually just suggested to me recently and I love it. It is understandable that you don't always have time to clean up your desk as the week gets hectic with deadlines and responsibilities. At the end of each week before you retire into your weekend clean and straighten up your work area. This sets you up to come in to a clean space on Monday morning which will help with your mood and productivity.

Clean out your fridge each week. One of my goals is to get better with eating leftovers. I'm not quite there yet, so I often have one serving of a meal leftover longer than it is edible. Cleaning out your fridge weekly keeps things neat and organized. This makes sure you can see what you have available so you remember to eat them and don't double purchase things.

Clutter - whether digital, physical, or mental - does nothing to serve you. I'm looking forward to getting rid of more excess so I can always be close to what is important. Live more with less.
---
Related: Four Ways to Decrease Toy Clutter

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Monday, March 20, 2017

Super Food Smoothie Recipe

I've had a lot of trial and error in developing my super smoothie. I think I've finally settled on a tasty, healthy, super smoothie recipe. Here's what I put in, and why. 

super food smothies

Half a container of plain Greek yogurt: Probiotics, calcium, potassium, protein, zinc, and vitamins B6 and B12. This provides a base for a nice thick smoothie. 

Two handfuls of baby spinach OR two frozen spinach cubes: Getting extra veggies in the form of a smoothie is healthy and tasty. Spinach is constantly on "super food" lists. It provides anti-cancer qualities, Vitamins A and K, and fiber, among many other benefits. 

A cup of frozen fruit that generally includes strawberries and blueberries: fiber, antioxidants, Vitamin C. 

One banana, fresh or frozen (I freeze them myself): I HAVE to have a banana in my smoothie. If there is no banana it doesn't have the thickness or sweetness that I like. Bananas are high in potassium, and great for cramps/pain from workouts and PMS. 

One tablespoon of honey (sometimes): I only use honey if the berries I've chosen make the smoothie too tart. 

One tablespoon of flaxeeds: Reduces risk of cancer and diabetes, fiber, and omega 3 fatty acids. 

1/2 teaspoon of Matcha Green Tea powder: Super antioxidants and energy booster. 
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Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Three Stages of Pregnancy Sleep

3 stages of pregnancy sleep.

A lot of people, upon hearing you're pregnant, throw around the old adage "sleep now, because you won't get any sleep when the baby gets here." This has to be one of the worst pieces of advice ever because most women begin to have sleep issues early on in their pregnancy. Here's how it goes: 

Stage 1: You are newly pregnant and can't sleep because A) your mind is like OMG I'm going to have a baby!, and that can very easily keep you up at night and/or B) the changes in your hormones give you insomnia. 

Stage 2: You can sleep again! BUT, now you are using the bathroom all.the.time. so your deep sleep is interrupted by frequent evening bathroom breaks and sometimes it can be hard to get back to sleep after the trip to the throne. 

Stage 3: You've gotten really good at sleep walking yourself to the bathroom. You can stay mostly asleep, keep your eyes closed, feel your way to the bathroom and make it back to the bed without really waking up. Great right? Yes, except now you have this huge belly, so you can't sleep on your stomach. Doctors recommend not sleeping on your back. So you're down to two sleeping positions, left side or right side. You've lost the ability to comfortably just roll over from side to side, so you have to fully sit up to switch positions when one side gets numb, which is likely to happen. 

One of things that did help with sleep for me was this (affiliate link) pregnancy pillow. Especially towards the end of pregnancy. Being able to have this between my legs and rest my stomach on it was great. 

All this sleeplessness, and the sleeplessness to come, will all be worth it though because you are magic, and you have a life growing inside of you. You are incubating the future, and I'd say that's pretty cool :-D

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

13 Snow Day Activities for Kids

Snow day activities for kids.

We are in the midst of a snow day. Snow days pre-kids meant relaxation. You slept in, made a big breakfast, and caught up on TV. Now the idea of a snow day comes with a little trepidation: how do I entertain my toddler on a snow day?!  Here is a great list of snow day activities for kids, some that I've tried and some I look forward to trying.

1. Read books. Here is my list of our top 10 books for toddlers.

2. Allow for some limited screen time. We love the Kidloland App.

3. Break out your magnet letters.

4. Create a sensory station from household items.

5. Utilize plastic balls.

6. Play with store bought play-dough or make your own play-dough.

7. Create an in-door obstacle course.

8. Try one of these five finger games.

9. Use this printable to play Superhero Tic-Tac-Toe.



10. Create a number path.

11. Do mess-free painting.

12. Paint the snow.

13. Make slime.



BONUS:

7 Sanity-Saving Indoor Play Ideas For Toddlers In Winter

18 Snow Day Activities to Keep Keeps Busy and Happy

20 Engaging Things to Do When You're Stuck in the House

50 Things to Do on a Snow Day with Kids
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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Trip to Adventure Aquarium (vlog)

ADVENTURE AQUARIUM

When you have a toddler it feels like a "lazy" Saturday or Sunday is harder to manage than a weekend full of activities. We've been trying to get out and have weekend adventures with BabyCakes on one day of the weekend and then do activities and play at home on the other.

A few weekends ago we were planning to go ice skating/watch the ice skaters and hang out at the Philly Bluecross Riverrink, but because of the unseasonably warm weather in the area the ice was actually broken so the rink was closed. On a whim we decided we would check out Adventure Aquarium in Camden New Jersey and I'm glad we did.

I think I may have been more amazed by the aquarium than BabyCakes. My favorite was the Nemo and Dory tank. It had a tank full of clown fish and one blue tang. It was so cool to see the movies represented in real life. I was also blown away by a GIANT turtle they have in the Ocean Realm exhibit.

We had a really nice time. I think we'll plan to go again during some off hour during the week one day so there are less people and we can browse more leisurely. Here's a vlog from our trip:


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Thursday, March 2, 2017

It's Shamrock Shake Season

It's March already. Two months of the year 2017 are gone. March ushers in spring, March Madness, Lent, St. Patrick's Day and Shamrock Shakes! McDonald's has some new and innovative things happening around the Shamrock Shake this year.

For a limited time McDonald's is offering the Chocolate Shamrock Shake, adding chocolate to the classic minty flavor. In addition to the new flavor there is a new way to DRINK the Shamrock Shake, the STRAW (Suction Tube for Reverse Axial Withdrawal).

shamrock shake straw


the STRAW was created specifically for effectively drinking Shamrock Shakes. Only 2,000 of these innovative straws were manufactured and guess what? McDonald's sent me two, one for myself, and one to give away to one of my lovely readers along with some other goodies.

shamrock shake prize pack


Now through March 9th enter to win this Shamrock Shake Prize Pack which includes:

1 the STRAW
Small Shamrock Shake T-shirt
McCafe Tumbler
10 Shamrock Shake Coupons (must be used at participating Southeastern PA, Southern NJ and Kent & New Castle Counties DE stores)
$50 McDonald's Arch Card

a Rafflecopter giveaway

shamrock shake straw


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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

How to Use Henna for Healthy Hair

This post contains affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here
.
Dry, limp, fragile hair is a bummer. I can tell when I haven't been giving my hair the attention it deserves. When my hair starts to break on me I turn to my #1 hair TLC product - henna. Yes, the very same henna that is used for beautiful body art. After trial and error I have my henna routine down to a science. This is how you use the product for strength, shine, softness, and depending on the batch and your hair color, a reddish tint. The color is most noticeable in the sun and gets darker each time you apply the henna. 

I henna my hair about twice a year. I would do it more often but it's an all-day process and it usually takes some time to get that perfect Sunday where I both feel like and have time to do it. 

My henna mixture consists of about 3/4 a box of Jamila brand henna and two heaping spoonfuls of hibiscus petal powder. Hibiscus petal powder serves the purpose of being an acid in the mixture, making the henna's dye release faster, and aids in getting that reddish tint. 

I add not cold, but not hot water to the powders until they make a consistency just a bit thicker than pancake batter. I make the henna paste on Saturday night, then let it sit until Sunday morning. On Sunday morning I co-wash and de-tangle my hair. Wearing gloves and an old t-shirt (this is important, henna will stain your life if you let it lol) I apply the henna similar to the way you would apply hair color. Section by section I start at the ends of my hair, making my way up to the root. Once it's all applied I put on a plastic cap and let it sit for 5-6 hours. 

When it's ready to rinse, I rinse out as much as I can with plain water. I then follow up with rinsing with VO5's strawberries and cream conditioner. Once it's all rinsed out I deep condition with Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose Conditioner for a half our, rinse that out, and proceed to style as usual. Deep conditioning your hair after you henna is very important, as the henna can act like a protein treatment and cause the hair to be hard. 

That's it! Give henna a try on your hair if you're looking to boost your hair health. 
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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Upgrade Your Water: New Brita vs.Old Brita


I've had something in my refrigerator for more than ten years. As a matter of fact, it has come with me through five addresses. My Brita water pitcher is actually so old that I couldn't even find it online to get the proper item name for it. What can I say, I hold on to things that work for me for as long as they work for me. This includes clothes from high-school that I still wear lol.

I've had a Brita in my refrigerator for as long as I can remember. As a child my grandfather purchased one of the really big 18-cup Brita dispensers after his doctor recommended he get more water for his health. That is where my love affair with Brita began. When I moved out on my own Brita was the only thing I considered as an option for my water. Around 2005 I purchased the Brita pitcher I still have today.

Thankfully, Influenster sent me a new Brita Stream complimentary for testing purposes. I didn't think that I had any problems with my old Brita pitcher, but now that I have the Brita Stream I feel like I have significantly upgraded!

The new Brita Stream is awesome. I can absolutely taste the difference in the water. Hubs didn't believe that there was any difference in the taste of the water from the two pitchers (or in water in general) so we did a blind taste test, and I passed. I could indeed tell the difference.

The Brita Stream solves problems I didn't even know I had with my old Brita.

brita stream


First off, installing a new filter takes much less time and is much more convenient. The filters for my old Brita required you to soak them in a cup for a number of minutes before you could install it in the pitcher, and even then the first few batches of water would always have little filter particles in it. With the Brita Stream you just run the filter under water for 15 seconds, install it, and BOOM, delicious water.

Because the Brita streams filters water as you pour into your glass instead of when you fill the pitcher you can drink filtered water immediately, as apposed to the old Brita where you had to wait for the water to filter through before you could pour it. This also allows you to put ice water in the pitcher for filtering as well.

The technology to remind you to change your filter is totally new, improved and high tech. It used to just be a dial that you set manually. Now there is an electronic monitor that shows a green, yellow, or red light every time you pour so you know how close to needing a new filter you are. I am definitely guilty of going week...maybe even months... past the manual dial reminder. This electronic system should work much better for me.

brita water pitcher


The only thing I dislike about the Stream is the controlled pour. This is actually supposed to be a perk of the pitcher, making it easy to fill water bottles. The majority of the time I'm pouring into a glass, and the pour on the Stream with the controlled pour feature makes the pouring a little bit slow. My ideal situation would be if there was some sort of mechanic that allowed you to switch between controlled pour for bottles and a faster pour for glasses.

brita water pitchers

I don't need two water pitchers so I'll be gifting my old faithful to someone and enjoying my new Brita Stream from now on.

What kind of water are you drinking?

Disclosure: I received the Brita Stream complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes. All opinions are my own. 
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Thursday, February 9, 2017

10 Self-Care Commandments

I'm tired of putting myself last. I've been doing a lot of self-reflection and came up with this list of 10 Self-Care commandments, or guidelines, to keep on top of making self-care a priority. 

self-care

Thou shalt not neglect your self-care.
If you are reading this post you've either already committed to self-care or realize that you need to. That is a good start.

Thou shalt take off from responsibilities when you need to, without guilt.
If you are sick, take off from work. If you are exhausted, have someone else cover your volunteer position, and don't feel bad about it. You can't take care of others if you aren't taking care of yourself.

Thou shalt make time to eat with no distraction at least once a day.
It would really be great if every meal could be 30 minutes of uninterrupted time to leisurely eat, but that is really hard if you are also feeding children, working full-time, commuting, etc. So make an effort to have just one meal a day where you really take time for yourself to focus on your nourishment.

Thou shalt not work past 9pm on something that doesn't have an immediate deadline.
Sometimes life requires late nights. Despite this, you have to give yourself time in the evenings to decompress. If I don't have an immediate deadline I try to stop working at 9pm because I go to bed at 10pm. If you go to bed at 11pm, stop working at 10pm. The goal is to give yourself a work-free hour at the end of your day.

Thou shalt ask for help when you need it.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. It really takes a village to do anything if you don't want to burn out. Your spouse, partner, co-workers, family, friends, babysitters, virtual assistants, etc, should all be resources to you when you are overwhelmed.

Thou shalt say no to taking on more than you can or want to handle, without guilt.
You only have one life and time is not an infinite resource. Say NO more often. When you don't want to or can't accommodate something in your schedule say no, and don't feel bad about it. 

Thou shalt drink water every day.
Drinking water is the cornerstone to healthy eating. Drink more water than any other beverage you consume.

Thou shalt schedule time for yourself. 
It's nice when you fall into free-time, but it is important to schedule time completely for yourself. I mean really schedule it. Put it in your planner or your Google Calendar. Set a reminder on your phone. Really make it a priority. Realistically you may only be able to do this two times a week, but it's important that you schedule it in ahead of time or it may never happen.

Thou shalt not compare yourself to others.
Comparison is a thief of joy. There is no way you can fully enjoy your life if you're consistently wishing you had someone else's. Be inspired by others, but do not compare.

Thou shalt remove yourself from situations that bring negative feelings.
This could mean not sticking around at gatherings with negative energy or logging off of Facebook when the political discussions become too much. Be aware of people, places, and things that bring you down and remove them from your life in whatever way you can.

If you want a daily reminder of the 10 Self-Care Commandments you can download a printable version below:

10 SELF-CARE COMMANDMENTS PRINTABLE


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Sunday, February 5, 2017

Mom Confessions: I took the weekend off



I had SUCH a good weekend.

I've been having a hard time lately feeling stuck in routine and very constrained by my responsibilities. This weekend it felt great to not worry about time or responsibilities and just enjoy being with BabyCakes and Hubs. We played games, played catch and soccer, painted, colored, enjoyed cartoons, and had an overall good time.

It's funny because even though I also cleaned the whole first floor it wasn't a drag. Because my mindset since I got off work Friday was not to worry about things I need to do, I've been cleaned up when I wanted without the pressure of feeling like I NEEDED to get things clean.

You have to take time to recharge in order to succeed.

I hope to take the happiness from this weekend into the upcoming hectic week. I will remind myself to take breaks, and enjoy myself without looking at the clock when I can.



I wish you a week full of self-care, fun moments, periodic disregard for responsibility, smiles, and laughter. 

How was your weekend?



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Saturday, February 4, 2017

Score Sweet Rewards at Walmart with Diet Dr Pepper

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ColorMeSweet



Earn a $5 Walmart eGift Card when you buy $10 worth of Diet Dr Pepper®! Simply upload an image of your Walmart receipt at DrPepper.com/Walmart showing purchase of $10 worth of Diet Dr Pepper in a single transaction.

Earning rewards is sweet! You know what else is? A FREE digital adult coloring book. Check it out today!
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Thursday, February 2, 2017

Candied Strawberry Martini

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #JustAdd7UP

I am so excited for Valentine’s Day! I love the decor. I love the love. I love the Valentine’s Day themed drinks and treats. Because Hubs and I can’t always afford to get a babysitter, many of our special holidays are spent with an in-home date. In-home dates can be just as special as going out if you put in effort to make things nice. You can make a favorite meal, or order delivery with something special. Take the food out of containers and serve it on nice plates at a candlelit table. You can make a special Valentine’s Day themed drink. Today I’m sharing my recipe for a simple 7UP Love Potion with candied strawberries. The strawberries these are garnished with are like candy apples, but better, because you get the sweet, crunch, and softness all in one bite every time!


7UP Love Potion Ingredients
three handfuls of strawberries
12 ounces of 7UP®
6 ounces of lemonade
blender

Clean and cut the tops off your strawberries and add them to your blender. Pulse just your strawberries until they are pretty well pureed. Add the 7UP and lemonade. Continue to blend until you have a smooth liquid with very little strawberry solids.

At this point, if you have made your drink ahead of time you can chill it in the fridge. If you are in a rush you can shake your Love Potion in a martini shaker with ice to chill it. Serve in martini glasses. This recipe makes four servings.

While it only takes one can of 7UP to yield four servings, if you plan on entertaining you can pick up the 7UP 12oz. 12-pack from Walmart like I did so you have plenty of 7UP on hand. 7UP is really versatile when it comes to adding a pop to drinks and cocktails.

*If you want to kick it up a notch, add 6 ounces of vodka along with the 7UP and lemonade.


Candied Strawberry Recipe
approximately 20 strawberries
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
¼ cup corn syrup

Rinse and cut the tops off your strawberries. Dry them thoroughly. Pierce each one with a toothpick. Line a baking sheet or plate with parchment paper. 

Mix the sugar, water, and corn syrup in a small saucepan. Heat on medium-high until it reaches 300 degrees on a candy thermometer. Stir occasionally until all the sugar is dissolved.  This took about 25 minutes for me. Once the mixture is at 300 degrees remove from heat and dip your strawberries as quickly and safely as you can. Dip as many strawberries as you can before the mixture seizes up on you. At a good pace you should be able to get 15 - 20 strawberries dipped. Allow the strawberries to dry and harden on the parchment paper. 



To garnish your 7UP Love Potion with the strawberries add an additional toothpick to each to balance on the rim of the martini glasses. 



Both of these recipes are super simple and all the ingredients can be picked up at your local Walmart. 


Make your Valentine’s Day festivities special with this 7UP Love Potion!

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Easy Oatmeal Bowl

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SpoonfulsOfGoodness #CerealAnytime #CollectiveBias

Mornings with a toddler can be very hectic. Anything I can do to get everyone ready, dressed, fed, and out the door efficiently and on time is something I need in my life! I try as much as possible not to sacrifice nutrition for speed. They always say breakfast is the most important meal of the day and that is because it is. It sets your energy and tone for the day.

For a quick, filling, and nutritious breakfast I turn to oatmeal. It is very easy to make oatmeal with fresh ingredients in 10 minutes. For the recipe I'm sharing today I kick my basic oatmeal recipe up a notch with a banana and Post Cereals Raisin Bran topping. It is so tasty, Spoonfuls of Goodness.

easy oatmeal bowl


Ingredients
1/2 cup Old Fashioned oats
1 cup vanilla almond milk
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
a few dashes of cinnamon
half a banana
Post Cereals Raisin Bran Cereal

Note: This ingredient list makes one bowl. You can double or triple the recipe exactly depending on how many people you need to serve. I like my oatmeal thick. If you like a looser oatmeal I'd use 1 1/2 cups vanilla almond milk per serving instead.



Bring the almond milk to a boil. Ddd in the Old Fashioned oats. Cook on medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes, until you can see the oats are cooked through and you have the consistency you want. Stir in maple syrup, cinnamon and brown sugar. Serve topped with Post Cereals Raisin Bran and fresh banana.

oatmeal bowl


Some additional toppings to include are other Post cereals, strawberries, granola or chocolate chips! I like toppings that add crunch or a cool element to the soft and warm oatmeal.




I grabbed all my ingredients including the Post cereals from Walmart. Post cereals contain fiber that prepares your body for the day and keeps you full until lunch.

Post Cereals Raisin Bran contains 23 grams of whole grain and 8 grams of fiber. Plus every box is filled with hundreds of tasty Sun-Maid California raisins.

Honey Bunches of Oats Honey Roasted has an awesome combination of textures and flavors and is very heart healthy with 0 grams of trans fat, saturated fat, and 0 milligrams of cholesterol per serving.

Great Grains has 36 grams of whole grain per serving and 12 vitamins and minerals.



Visit the #CerealAnytime Pinterest Board for more creative ideas on how to have cereal for every meal!

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