A Mom's blog about wellness, self-growth, natural living, following passions, spirituality, working from home and family travel. Reviews too!

Thursday

7 Things to be Thankful For

It's so easy to be negative and to complain isn't it?  There's traffic, bills,taxes. There's the common core and health insurance issues. Not to mention the normal every day stress of getting several kids to activities, doing homework, keeping the house clean and managing to buy enough food to actually cook a nutritious meal. And then all that Christmas shopping in the drowds, with the traffic! But taking time out to feel gratitude puts everything in check doesn't it? You've probably seen your friends on Facebook ovet the months listing daily gratitude posts. It's a GREAT thing to do year round, not just in December ( though nothing bad about a little EXTRA gratitude!)
Here's 7 things to be thankful for.

1- Facebook. Yes, for all the ads and sometimes drama and spam in the inbox from gentlemen that find me lovely, I LOVE Facebook. I can keep up with my cousin and her beautiful family. I can grow my home business. I can shop local buy and sell groups. I chat with friends about their days.I keep up with events in my town. I read funny cartoons. I learn a new recipe.It's an open 24/7 party and I just love it.

2-Pets. I'm blessed to have 3 wonderful cats and have had others over the years. My heart smiles when I see one of my children bent over, petting our cat, talking in a super sweet voice and showing love and compassion. Pets teach us so much. They offer unconditional love. They are our friends where no words are ever needed. If I had more money, and more room, I'd add another few cats, 2 dogs, some bunnies and even a horse. There's nothing like our animal friends.
Things to be grateful for
3-Children. Goes without saying right? God's gift to us. There are no words to explain the love a Mother feels for her child. A Father too, but this is TODAYSMAMA and I know who is reading this. If you,like me, look at your children and remember the days with their little chubby feet, sticky hands, mispronounce words and heart melting smiles, and yearn for those days, you are not alone.  But EVERY age has it's joys, and as the teen years settle in at my house for my oldest, I am learning to cherish every single minute, every kiss, every time they don't pull away from a hug and every single family game night, movie night or day on the soccer field. Remember, "these are the days".

4- The people that fight for you. The people that protect our country.The ones that fight for our freedom. The ones that march to get GMO's labeled or to have a new law passed. You may be doing it but chances are you're not. Be grateful for those strong enough and demanding enough to fight for change that keeps us safe and healthy.

5. Authors. Man, I LOVE a good book! I'm always blown away how moved we can get, how they can bring us to tears, touch us in unique ways, make us think, teach us, make us laugh. Heartwarming stories like a new Debbie Macomber's Christmas story, hundreds by Nora Roberts, Kristen Hannah's beautiful reads about friendships and families, Harry Potter's life at Hogwarts, oh and about 3 million others! It's the perfect season to stock up and read to your heart's content. Or start a family tradition. I read On Christmas Eve each December with my daughter. We love it! And the shared time taking turns reading is wonderful.

Sunset

6. Things that mesmerize us. You know, that feeling of sitting by a crackling fire , just staring at it, thinking absolutely nothing, but reveling in the warmth on your face and getting lost in moment. The mesmerizing pull of gazing at the ocean waves rolling in, the fog over a mountain or lake, the sun rising or setting. It's things like this that make us live in the moment and live by FEELING through our senses and our hearts, not thinking. And really, is there a better way to live?

7. Food. Real food. Not from a box, bag or factory. But REAL food, in it's natural state; fresh,organic, unsprayed, grown with love and eaten mindfully. Biting into crisp apple, slicing into a red plump tomato, the creamy goodness of an avocado, a bowl of gleaming blackberries or luscious strawberries. Freshly baked homemade bread like Grandma used to make. Garlic roasted broccoli. Whatever it is that you love, it's the sensations, the tastes, the smells, that bring meaning to a meal. It's the memories you make while enjoying that meal. With all the talk of pesticides, GMO's and processed foods, once you go "back to nature" and start enjoying fresh, organic, in-season, home grown or local grown, prepared with love  foods, you may never want anything else again. Enjoy!

fresh organic food

Tuesday

Hershey Park insider tips

 This is a post from my old Todaysmama blog. It's gotten the most views of any blog I have ever written so I figured I'd share it here. We've been to Hershey about 8 times, having traveled with my kids from when they were 1, until now, ages 13, 11 and 7. We just love it there!


Here are our top 15 insider Hersheypark tips for your family to have the best trip possible.
IMG_3030
1- If you are going to the park for just one day and you are coming into town the night before, definitely get the free preview where you can enjoy the park for over 2 hours the evening you purchase your next day tickets.
2- There is A TON of walking. Wear super comfortable shoes and pack a spare pair of lightweight flip flops for the water park area.
3- Head to the the park early, when they open, and make a beeline straight to the biggest coaster you want to go on or to the back of the park. Most people stop at rides along the entrance and they can jam up quickly.
4- Do not bring food as they will take it away when they inspect bags. You can bring one water bottle (sealed) per person as per their website but an even more convenient deal is to get the souvenir cup at around $9.00 and then refills on soda and lemonade, for the 2013 season, are only 99 cents. Even better, they will fill your cup, or any cup you have, with water for free. No $3 waters! How cool is that?
5- If you don’t have a stroller but don’t feel like carrying a ton of towels for your large family, just bring one towel. They have these really neat family dryers, large plastic box things (for lack of a better word) that you all can step into and for $5, you dry off — hair, clothing, even your towel. It’s a very cool (or should I say warm?) concept (why didn’t I think of that?)
6- If you really want to see it all, allow two full days at the park and explore it at a more leisurely pace. Include Chocolate World since there’s a lot to do over there as well.
7- Wear your bathing suit under clothing for less to carry.
8- If you have young kids, stop by the booth on your right after you enter the park to get a bracelet for them that you write your cell number on in case your kids get separated from you.
9- Have the kids measure up after they enter the park so they know exactly which rides they can go on.
10- Try to visit on a Tuesday through Thursday for lighter  crowds.
11- Stay into the evening as crowds tend to thin after 6 or 7 pm when the park is open until 10pm.
12- Don’t use the Hershey phone app instead of carrying a map since apps drain cell phone batteries fast.
13- Consider the meal voucher to save on meal/drink.
14- Plan on eating in the “off” hours of 2-4pm to save time.
15- Travel light. Hershey is a huge park and you don’t want to lug more than you need. Or rent a locker to store valuables and just carry a small bag or backpack so you don’t end up with a backache or sore shoulder.
IMG_2990

Thursday

Spring Cleaning for your Soul


Now that the weather is warming up  and things are growing, how about growing right along with the flowers? We are getting ready to wipe away the winter cobwebs, and air out the houses, let’s do the same for our spirits! 564682_10200877692964120_1773593363_n What better time of year than now to reaccess things in our lives and say “Out with the old, in with the New?”
Now is a great time to rediscover passions you may have put aside or to take up new hobbies you have been dreaming of.  Now is the time to get rid of what is not working in your life and adopt new attitudes and new ways of doing things so everything starts flowing easily and going your way.
No more days  falling into bed exhausted yet feeling like nothing major was accomplished. When you carve out some “me time”, and experience things that give you joy and make time fly, then you WILL go to bed satisfied and already planning what the next day will hold.
It’s time to get a bit more  INQUISITIVE with yourself and ask : what makes me happy? what do I really want to do in my free time? what do I want to do for work? what am I not doing that I used to love? what do I think of all the time?
And then once you have  clear answers, commit to a change. Sweep away the old ways of thinking, the OLD YOU, and start doing fun and creative new things. That could be changing your wardrobe head to toe. It could be going to school, getting a new job or just taking acting lessons. Could be starting on the book you always wanted to write. Or maybe taking a gourmet cooking class. Maybe it’s committing to a daily 1 hour walk in the park , or starting a home business.
But whatever it is, there is never a better time than  now to get started, get focused and reclaim the things that make your spirit soar!

Tuesday

How to buy Organic and NON GMO on a budget


You probably have been hearing about GMO products everywhere- in magazines, on the news , even on Facebook. But have you really looked into what they are?  The first thing to do is to educate yourself about GMO’s. I know, it can be confusing and overwhelming even. But if you consume food (and who doesn’t?) or use skin care, even take vitamins, it may be a wise choice to at least make an informed decision about what you put in and on your body.  You can learn a lot here at the Non GMO project .
Organic non gmo foods
Basically, GMOs are plants or animals that have undergone a modification process where scientists alter their genes with DNA from different species to get “desired” traits such as resistance to disease or major tolerance to  pesticides. Which means MORE pesticides can be applied. Sounds lovely doesn’t it? No one is telling you to go 100% GMO free. Some people are. But of course, that is your option. I believe in “everything in moderation.”
So if you  want to make the move to healthier and organic living, at least buy as many non GMO and organic foods as you can (organic is non GMO)
I just found this book on Amazon and it looks fabulous! The NON GMO COOKBOOK
 “Recipes and advice for a Non GMO lifestyle”.
Want to learn more about how foods can actually HEAL and help your body? Yeah, me too. I find that fascinating. 
This new book from NYR Organic is selling like crazy. I’m thinking of a few people who may get it as a gift this year too. I think it belongs on every kitchen book shelf or living room table!
As a matter of fact, ALL NYR products are GMO free!  Did you know we absorb about 60% of what we put on our skin? Think about how some medicines come in patches now. It all enters your body so choose what you put on it with care. Especially with our little kids and babies.
Did you know that not every organic product is more expensive than traditional items? I know that is a COMMON MYTH, but if you shop carefully, you can buy organic foods for very similar prices as non organic and if you know where to look for coupons, you can eat more organic foods without breaking the bank.
I buy organic store brands at stores like Nature’s Promise at Stop N Shop and they are actually CHEAPER than some of the, um, garbage other brands they sell (think cereals, oatmeal, granola bars, carrots, etc.).
I can get a nice bag of organic apples for 5.99, got a bag of organic carrots just today for 99 cents, on sale from 1.49 and I ALWAYS and only buy store brand or name brand organic cereals and milk since my kids eat a lot of that. Organic “Cheerios” are called toasted oats and they are delish! At 2.99, how can you pass that up for the $4.00 box of name brand non-organic? There’s organic versions of so many-from granola, to Honey Bunches of Oats types to Raisin Bran types. Garden of Eatin organic blue corn chips were $2.99, about the same as non-organic brands. I buy canned organic beans for $1.00 on sale and boxed organic mac n cheese is  only 2 for $3.00. Always visit the natural food aisle in your grocery store first to get what is on your list.
Vitacost is an online store that offers many healthy brands, especially if you don’t have many health foods options close to home. I’ve shopped there for years now and save a lot of cash. With the price of gas, a $50 order, with free shipping, right to your door,  is much appreciated by busy moms. And they have very low prices too so you are really getting maybe $75 worth of stuff for $50. Can’t beat!  Here’s a $10 coupon 
Confused on what to buy? Some brands that have organic and non-GMO products within their line are listed here
Be a label reader as much as you can and support companies on a mission to offer non-GMO organic foods.
Taking small steps and making weekly changes, you’ll soon be eating and living healthier. Some organic companies have extremely informational websites likeebfarm.com and cascadianfarm.com.  
Another GREAT resource to save money is using coupons. You can get coupons for organic foods at mambosporuts.com 
The Center for Food Safety also is a wealth of  information about genetically modified foods.
Do your best to avoid the big 5 GMO crops (which sadly, are in something like 80% of packaged foods) corn ( 90%), soy,  sugar, cottonseed and canola oils.
Unfortunately, in the U.S, our foods do not need to be labeled as using GMO products,like in many other countries. But FORTUNATELY the battle persists for this labeling and hopefully it will be done soon.

6 tips for glowing skin!


Everyone wants glowing skin right?  Knowing what to use to revive dry tired skin will bring back a healthy complexion and help combat signs of aging. Here’s 6 skincare tips I’ve learned over the years in the beauty industry to help your skin glow!

7 skin care tips

  • Start from the inside. Drink plenty of water. I know for some of us, the natural urge to drink is not the same when we are indoors in the winter as it is in the summer months. So filling a large water bottle and keeping it handy to sip frequently  is a great reminder anytime of the year, especially the cooler months. Or consider herbal teas if you like warm drinks. Don’t forget that water occurs naturally in fruits so eating a diet rich in varied fruits keep adds water content to your diet. Another great way to add glow from the inside is to add good fats into your diet. Recently, omega 3 fatty acids have been said to help skin look healthier. If you are not a frequent fish eater (especially tuna and salmon), you can add walnuts, flax seeds, olive oil and  avocado to your diet to get those good fats. And don’t forget to take a daily omega supplement, which is touted by many doctors including Dr.Nicholas Perricone, to help reduce the body’s production of inflammatory compounds and the way skin ages. I started fish oils about 2 years ago and even have many less break -outs since.
  • Don’t forget to exfoliate. In summer, I rarely need to do this but in the winter, wow, a good face and body scrub can make skin glow! Once a week, add a scrub to your cleansing routine to remove all those dead cells and reveal fresher looking skin. If you’re feeling DIY, make a scrub using sugar or brown sugar  mixed with a little oil and  a few drops essential oils like lavender or orange.  You can mix in a little honey for its moisturizing properties, too. Nothing like natural skin care without any chemicals. Or choose this organic line I represent and love.
  • Don’t forget to moisturize all over. Working in the beauty business, every week I hear complaints of dry skin and questions of “what moisturizer should I use?” There really is not one set answer since everyone has different skin and what works for some may not work for you. However, the older we get and the drier our skin gets, often calls for a heavier moisturizer in cream form. Oily skin has the benefit of natural moisturizers but can still benefit from lighter moisturizing lotions, not creams. Oils, balms and serums can be used on tough spots like elbows and knees. Try a decadent organic body butter before bed and wake up to refreshed and soft skin. Don’t neglect your chest and hands as these areas are prone to sun damage, wrinkles and dryness.
  • Learn to layer. Products like serums or oils go on first, followed by creams or lotions. Serums offer many extra anti-aging benefits and help kick your skin care routing up a notch as far as tackling problems like age spots, lines, dryness and radiance.
  • Take cooler showers. This one hurts me to even type. But hot showers are known to rob skin of moisture while luke warm is best. Since I love my hot showers, I opt for shorter ones and a good all over body moisturizer afterwards.
  • Use a safe mineral sunscreen daily, as experts agree it’s needed year round. Too much sun exposure can dry skin and cause premature wrinkling and discolored complexion.. Even if you don’t use a separate sunscreen, make sure your moisturizer and make up have SPF in them. Natural mineral SPF’s are safer. Avoid oxybenzone which is questionable in it’s safety according to most studies.