Weeks In Review – July 29 – August 11

I’m back from my 9 day business/vacation and I must say it was a blast!

The first part of my trip was for business.  The National Gift Basket Convention was held in Orlando this year, which was perfect for me since we have property there.  The convention was for two days and it’s always full of great information for us to take back to implement in our businesses.  The best part of the convention for me is getting a chance to speak with new entreprenuers who are excited and ready to start successful business. I have been in the gifting industry for over 11 years and I must say it’s been a wonderful journey, so when ever I have the opportunity to encourage someone else, I jump at the chance.  I too get a boost and recharge while there, I learn so much about the latest trends, and simply just how to make my business better.

Gift Basket Convention

Second leg of my trip was simply family fun.  When I originally found out about the convention being in Orlando, I told my husband that we should turn this into a family vacation. Unfortunately, my husband’s work schedule prohibited him from being able to go and also my two sons were not able to go due to working and sport committments.  So I decided to make it a girls getaway with my two daughters and granddaughter. Unfortunately, I can’t say I got a lot of rest, but every outing was so worth it.  The freedom to get up and go where we wanted to each day, to eat at some great, delicious resturants, and of course…SHOP! We really had a great time together.

Florida Vacation 2013

Now that the pixi dust has settled, life has returns back to normal.

Stay Calm and Carry-On: Packing For Vacation

shutterstock_140455537

Packing has begun for my daughters (and granddaughter) and I to head to the wonderful world of Disney!   I’m very excited to be able to be spend some quality time with each of them and get some much needed relaxation.  With the the hustle and bustle of school being just weeks away, what better way to get ready than to spend some relaxing time at the most magical place on earth.  Even though, the first three days will be business for me, the the rest will be memories in the making.

I must confess, I don’t like packing for trips, it makes me anxious.  I’m always worried I’m going to forget something, so to help me take the edge off, I make lists.  Making lists keeps me focused on what I need and stops me from over packing or packing things I don’t need.

When making my lists, I break them up into categories: carry-on, purse, and luggage, once I have my categories, I can then branch off that list to make another list of things I need to buy.  Finally from that list, I make my shopping lists (for each individual store – since normally I have to go to more than one).

Below are my lists for this trip:

Carry-On:

  • Computer w/charger
  • Travel pillow
  • Snacks
  • Camera w/charger
  • Extra memory cards
  • Jewelry
  • Work (if traveling for business)
  • Extra pen and machancal pencil (with extra lead)
  • Itenerary (maps, directions)
  • Car rental confirmation
  • Hotel or resort information
  • Keys to car – at airport
  • Vitamins and any medicines
  • Extra femine products
  • Note pad
  • Idea books – I now have two books, one for my blog and one for my business. I write down any ideas I have for blog posts, gift basket designs or marketing strategies that come to mind.
  • Crossword and Sudoku puzzles (comes in handy for layovers)
  • light weight jacket or sweater
  • Small shopping bag (reusable)
  • Umberella
  • Magazines
  • TSA approved liquid items: lotion and hand sanitizer (inside ziplock bag)

Purse: There are other items inside my purse, however these are items I make sure I have.

  • Wallet (with extra cash for tipping)
  • Earbuds
  • Lip balms
  • Tissues
  • Gum and mints
  • Femine products
  • Pen and machincal pencil
  • Ear plugs
  • Comb and brush
  • Sunglasses
  • Business cards – always need to be prepared.

 Luggage:

  • Outfits – I always make it a rule of thumb to bring two more outfits than days I’m staying. I will be gone 10 days so I’ll pack 12 outfits. I also pack at least one pair of nice jeans – even if it’s hot weather.
  • Under garments – the same rule applies for these as my outfits.
  • Shoes – I try to keep this very simple since shoes can take up lots of needed space.  I make sure I take flip flops and a pair of tennis shoes no matter what season or reason I’m traveling in.
  • PJ’s – I don’t typically take a set of pj’s for each night (I don’t own 10 pj sets!)
  • First aid kit
  • Poncho or rain coat
  • Hair care products
  • Flat irons and/or curling irons
  • Bath products
  • Face cleansing products & makeup (also makeup remover pads)
  • Deorderent
  • Shower gel
  • Sunscreen
  • Shaving cream
  • Lotion
  • Toothbrush & toothpaste
  • Stain remover wipes
  • Belts & scarfs
  • Hair scarf
  • Lint roller

Since I’m traveling with my 11 year-old daughter, I perform this same process for her as well.  I use my list above as a master and delete items she does not require.  If my husband were going, I would modify this list to suit his needs as well.

 

My Favorite Things – July

This month, I have several products I’ve tried and fallen in love with.   I must say I concider myself to be a loyal shopper, that means when I find a product I love, I will buy it until they stop making it.  Now granted I do try new things, however I will hold on to my old faithfuls. So this month, I decided to share what I found to be three of my new favorites.

July Favorites

EOS Lip Balm:

As for lip balms, I’m addicted to carmax (I already know what you are going to say…), I have several tubes throughout my home, purse and car.  When my daughter went to camp last month, I bought her a few of these EOS lip balms to go in her camp survival kit and she raved about how good her lips felt. A few weeks ago I purchased Lemon Drop for myself with a coupon I had.  I really like it, not only does it make my lips feel great, I feel good about wearing it since it has SPF 15, it’s PABA-free and has vitamin E.

ECOS Laundry Deteregent:

A couple weeks ago, I wrote a post titled Getting Down and Dirty ~ A Healthy Comparison where I compared the ECOS and Clorox Green Works laundry detergents.  Well, I have washed load after load with the ECOS detergent and I think I can finally say, I have found our families new laundry detergent!

Talenti Caramel Cookie Crunch Gelato:

I’m surely not a gelato connoisseur and really can’t compare this to any other gelato I’ve tasted since this is the first. But what I do know is right now this is my one and only (gelato) guilty pleasure.  I was even at a loss just trying to pick which flavor I wanted to try, since Talenti has over 20 flavors to choose from, but this month it was all about the Caramel Cookie Crunch!

DISCLOSURE: I am not a sponsor in any way for any of the above products.  I’m only promoting the above products because of my personal enjoyment I get from using them on a consistant basis.

 

 

Adventures of My Week ~ July 15-21

A day late, but better than never – I alway say.   I want to get my week in reveiw posts out every Monday, and I am definitely working on making that happen going forward.  I decided to discontinue my Thankful Thursday posts since I can share it all in my week in reviews.

The couch the cat built

When we first got our cat Cinnamon, she would use our leather sofa as a spring board to jump from one location to another.  It was all so cute (at first) until one day I noticed her little back claws had began to make very slight slices in my sofa.  Now it’s one year later and she’s full grown and trained, so we took the seat cushions to be repaired by a leathersmith (which by the way, I’m not happy about). I should have my sofa back to normal in 3 to 4 business days – yea!

Painful memories of a good night sleep

We’re on mattress number 2 and about to purchase mattress number 3, all within one year.  Why you ask? I really loved the idea of having one of those memory foam beds, the commercials make them look like you can’t live (or sleep) without them.  We shopped around, found one we really liked (granted I only layed on it for 5 minutes in the store) and bought it.  about 3 months after, I could not get out of bed without help from my hubby.  My back would lock up and I would have to lay on the floor for a couple of minutes with my feet up the wall to relieve the stiffness. We called the company and expressed my discomfort – they graciously refunded us 100% and we began the quest again.  My husband convienced me that it was that “particular bed,” since he really wanted to stick with the memory foam style.  We ended up purchasing another brand of mattress and within a month…the same thing.  I think I’m all out of love with the memory foam.  So now we are starting over for the last time to find me a good night sleep.  I’ll keep you posted on this adventure.

Mini family getaway

We decided to plan a mini vacaction with my oldest daughter (and granddaughter) and middle son this past weekend, since our oldest son was away working in another state and our youngest daughter was on a week-long trip with some close family friends.  It’s more fun when we all are together for sure, but it was nice to get away and not have to worry about cooking, cleaning or working for three days.  The weather was nice and we stayed out of the hotel as much as we possibly could. Eventhough we stayed in the state, we got so see so many beautiful sites. I love Missouri.

Branson Trip

We’ve decided to take another mini vacation once we are all back together again.

Menu for the Week ~ July 22-28

Well, we’re back home from our much needed mini vacation. Can’t say I got needed rest, but time with the family, without distractions is always a good thing. So, now it’s back to the reality of the daily grind. Here’s the menu for the upcoming week.

Monday:

  • Salmon Croquettes
  • Rice
  • Cucumber & tomato salad

Tuesday

  • Taco salad bowls

Wednesday:

  • Tuna Fish
  • Chips

Thursday:

  • Meatloaf
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Green bean (peas for the hubby)
  • Corn on the cob

Friday:

  • Left-overs 

Getting Down and Dirty ~ A Healthy Comparison

PicMonkey CollageI try to be conscious about the products (especially cleaning products) I use in my home.  I can think back tweleve years ago and it was almost impossible to find earth-friendly products on the shelves at my local box stores and now, they are everywhere.  Having more products to choose from doesn’t make finding one easy, it makes it harder. For over thirteen years my family has used Melaleuca products that we purchased from a distributor (mail order), but just recently I decided to cancel our membership and venture out to our local stores to find comparable products.  In my search for an eco-friendly laundry detergent, I found two that I’ve been using to see which I like the best.

Clorox Green Works – 100 HE loads

This was the first product I purchased after leaving Melaleuca.  I have been using the detergent for a little over 4 months and I can say for an eco-friendly product, I really love how my clothes feel and smell.  However, In my research of this product, I did find ingredients that were not listed on the label that have made me more concerned and prompted me to contiunue searching for other products.

Pros

  • 97% Natural – plant based ingredients, 
  • Does not contain bleach
  • No phosphurus
  • Biodegradable
  • Cleans well
  • Afforably priced

Cons

  • Contains colorants (dyes)
  • Contains sodium lauryl sulfate – found in many products like shampoos, hand soaps, make-up foundations however this product has been known to cause cancer.

 

ECOS – 100 HE loads 

I learned of this product online during my research of eco-friendly laundry detergents.  I purchased both the unscented and the magnolia, lilies, lavender & lemongrass scent (which I love).  I have used this product for a little over 1 month, and I’m overall satisfied with the performance.

Pros

  • Prosphate and formaldehyde free
  • 100% biodegradable
  • Plant based ingredients
  • Affordably priced
  • Does not contain bleach

Cons

  • Stains take more effort to remove

I’m really impressed with the ECOS detergent over the Clorox brand.  Overall, I feel it’s a better product and my family loves it too.

Menu for the Week – July 15-21

This week will be a short one since we’ll be taking a mini weekend vacation – so no cooking for 3 days! Last week we had so many left-overs from the fourth of July, I barely cooked a thing (which is alright by me).

Monday:

  • Bar Burgers
  • Oven Fries

Tuesday:

  • Chicken or Beef Burritos
  • Brown Rice
  • Refried Beans

Wednesday

  • Sloppy Joes (on toasted texas toast)
  • Brocolli

Thursday:

  • Left-overs

Friday- Sunday – NO COOKING!

The Gloves Are On! My Fight Against HBP

shutterstock_144640970I discovered I have prehypertension (blood preasure levels between 120/80 – 139/89) while getting my wisdom teeth extracted about 4 years ago.  Since then, I have been placed on medicine to keep the preasure under control which has worked, however my goal is the fight HBP by living a healthier lifestyle.

Per the American Heart Association, 1 out of  3 adults have high blood preasure and only 81% are aware they have it.

To fight against high blood preasure, I am choosing to:

Eat Better

Adding more grains, fish and nuts to my diet.  I’ve cut soda (for the most part) out of my diet.  I also eliminated a lot of the process foods – especially in my lunch menu (like Lean Cusine, Healthy Choice) that are very high in sodium. I’m a lover of anything salty and sweet, so keeping my hands away from the chips and the jelly beans and peanuts has been a struggle.  I’ve found other snacks that taste just as good but won’t send my preasure up. It’s when you know you can’t have something or as much of it that makes you want it more.

Excerise

Another way I’m fighting against hypertension is dropping some poundage. I started a Zumba class once a week and added walking to my weekly regemin.  My husband and I are walking together which makes it much easier because we hold each other accountable.

Reduce My Stress Levels

I’m a work in progress when it comes to learning what to do with my stress when it comes (not if it comes, but when it comes).  Prayer and meditation on God’s word has been what keeps me.  Also taking time to be still – sitting in my backyard in the mornings when it’s quiet helps me alot.

 

To learn more about HBP visit: www.heart.org

5 Reasons Why I Love Being a Mom

I have been a mom for more than half of my life (yikes!!). It’s the hardest yet most rewardng position I have ever held…EVER!  I sit back in pure amazment to know I’m responsible for 4 lives – bringing them into this world, raising them up to be good, loving, responisble people, teaching, correcting and guiding them.  I stand in awe every time I think about it. Below are five reasons why being a mom is worth every bit of blood, sweet and tears.

1. Giving birth

After having my first child, I said I would never go through pain like that ever again, then 5 years later I did it again, and again, and again.  There is something about the experience – it’s the weirdest, most painful yet most awesome feeling I have ever had. Seeing my baby for the first time and putting a face with all the kicks, late nigh hiccups that kept me awake and source of my streatch marks cannot be compared to anything.

2.Watching my children grow

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “don’t blink or you’ll miss it”…well that definately can be the saying for watching my children grow up. Did you know that a child grows more in the first 12 months than at any other time in their life? I have witnessed this beautiful process 4 times and I’m  never tired of seeing it.  All the firsts, from the first steps, first words, first day at school, and even the first attitude (yes, even those). It all happens so fast.

3. Being able to speak into their lives

When we took my first son to college, at the parent orientation they wanted to know what kind of parent we though we were.  I discovered that I was an attachment parent with tendecies of helicopter parent.  To break that down for you, I have a close bond with my children, I believe that having this close bond produces trust and well-rounded children.  With that being said, I found out that having that close bond with my children, I have a harder time letting them make decisions on their own.  I may be a tid-bit guilty of that but I’m working on it : ).

4. Witnessing their uniqueness

Each of my children are unique and special in their own way.  I try daily to design my parenting to suit the needs of each one of my children since non of them are alike in any way.  The fun part is looking at the differences and seeing different parts of myself in each one of them (how cool is that!).

5. Having unconditional love

I never knew I could love anyone the way I love my children.  The bond that is formed even while I was pregnant is unimaginable.  I remember when my daughter gave birth to our granddaughter, she told me that she never understood that type of love until that very moment.  Being able to show them love in many different ways is what I live for.

Aspring Champion: Pickleball

Don’t know what Pickleball is?  Well until four days ago, I didn’t either.  Pickleball is a sport that incorporates tennis, table tennis, and badminton.  Close friends of ours challenged us to a game on the 4th of July and we have been hooked ever since.  It’s a great way to get in some fun and exercise to boot.  It’s one of those sports that doesn’t leave you feeling like you’re going to pass out from exhaustion, but you do feel it (especially the next day).  I have never been a tennis player, but what I think I like best about this sport is the ball is like a harder version of a wiffle ball, therefore it moves slower than a tennis ball would.  I like that because it gives you more time to get in front of the ball, but don’t let the slower ball fool you.  You are putting in some work, moving front, back and side to side, just like in tennis – you are definitely going to sweat!

PickleballcourtThe court is very similar to a badminton court, as you can see in the illistration to the left (but larger) and striped like a tennis court.  We haven’t played on a actual pickleball court, play at the local high school tennis court – which has worked just fine.  We use the same foul lines that are set for a normal game of tennis, except the center line is considered foul instead of the back line.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The paddle is really cool since it looks like a cross between a large racquetball paddle and a tennis racket without netting. The grip is easy to hold on to even for smaller hands (even our children can play).

Pickleball Paddle

Love this new past time and a great way to get the whole family involved.

 

Photos and information from web:

www.usapa.org

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pickleball

www.pickleballpaddlepeddler.com

 

 

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