Monday, April 30, 2012

Abe's Market Samples Available!

I've heard about Abe's Market a few times, but honestly blew it off as something like Amazon. While I do buy some things online, I'm one of the few who like to hold a product and physically examine it before purchasing. Recently I took a closer look because Abe's Market wants to make it easier to know what you're buying before hitting that checkout button! Abe's Market is giving you the opportunity to choose any THREE samples in their Discover Natural store and they’ll deliver them to your door for just $2! With a variety of quality samples to choose from, I was able to identify products I'd really like to use and know that I'll be satisfied with my purchase. Take a look and see what you can find!

****This is not a paid post. All opinions are my own. Thank you to Healthy Child Blog Network and Abe's Market who supplied the products for the review!**** 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Must Have Food Item for Summer

I was so spoiled by our hot "Spring" weather a few weeks ago, and now we're back to our chilly weather again. So thinking about summer is really warming my soul!

My hubby is our gardener, and this year he's trying out a spring garden with broccoli, spinach, and bak choy. They're growing (not as quickly as I'd like), and some have gone to make a pesky groundhog a bit fatter. But I'm waiting for the scorching days of summer sun and the heirloom tomatoes that are going to be growing in that garden! Nothing is more wonderful than eating freshly picked cherry tomatoes from the garden -- I don't think there's a tomato more divine!

What summer food are you waiting for?!?

Photo Credit: Image: pigdevilphoto /

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Unjunk Your Junk Food Book Review

What's in your cupboards?
Since I've started blogging, I've also started learning to think through what goes into the foods that I eat and the foods that I purchase for my child to eat! So much of what is easy and convenient is definitely not healthy. With so much to learn, I was learning at a fairly slow pace, looking at several sites for information.

One thing I really appreciate about Unjunk Your Junk Food: Healthy Alternatives to Conventional Snacks is the ease of learning at my fingertips! So much of my time-consuming journey to knowing more about my food is packed together in this book! The authors provide easy access to ingredients to watch for, including several I thought were ok. We've tried to stay away from artificial dyes and flavors, but I didn't realize some "flavor enhancers" are red flags. Unjunk Your Junk Food: Healthy Alternatives to Conventional Snacks includes bright graphics to showcase what good options are.

Overall, I still have much to learn about our food! I am more compelled to read ingredient lists more carefully, more willing to pay more for quality foods, and more open to trading my time instead of purchasing convenient foods.

Take a look at the book -- it's worth your time and health! What's in your cupboards?!?

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****This is not a paid post. All opinions are my own. Thank you to Andrea Donsky and Randy Boyer who supplied the products for the review!**** 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Bloom Where You're Planted

This morning presented many challenges, from multiple places, aimed at different aspects of me. I think this has been the first time I've ever wept in front of my child. Feeling ashamed, insulted, and totally out-of-place.

As I spent some time recollecting myself and praying, I knew I had to change the direction of my emotions. Chocolate, and lots it, might be a temporary solution . . . but cause problems if I were to begin serious weight training --- that's a story for another day. Perhaps during nap time, I could put in an exercise video or read a book . . . which I still might do, but that could also be temporary escapes.  I decided I need to purposefully act in ways to develop confidence, joy, and connectedness.

It doesn't have to be a dazzling beauty, but flowers do bloom where they're planted. While I don't have have to be dazzling myself, I should bloom!

How do you handle a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad morning?!?

Photo Credit: Image: manostphoto /

Monday, April 9, 2012

My Wish List...

While I work very hard to live in a sense of contentment, a few things on a very wishful list would be . . .

  1. A Personal Organizer
I'd love someone to come to my house and organize it all for me!

2. An Interior Decorator
Since my house would then be HGTV organized, it can be HGTV designed too!

3. A Part-Time Nanny
Then I wouldn't feel so guilty about having Me-time!

What's on YOUR wish list?!?

Photo Credits: 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Vacation: Planning Activities

I'm a planner. Having a child has made me more relaxed, but in order for me to accomplish anything, I need a plan. The same is true with vacations -- I have to plan most of the details in order for anything to get done! Earlier I wrote about choosing a hotel, and today I have a few thoughts about planning activities while on vacation.

Again, to make the best use of vacation time, preparation is vital. Though it is a sacrifice of time (and for me, sanity too, as I get overwhelmed with all the information I'm reading), it's worth it not to have wasted time while on vacation, trying to figure out what to do next.

The Library
Visit the library and check out their selection of travel guides. I've found recent copies of Frommers or Fodors travel guides for our vacation cities; your library may also have eBooks available.
No, I'm not receiving any commission from Tripadvisor, but this site has been so helpful in planning all of our vacations. I like being able to read reviews from other travelers to see what their experiences have been. For example, I honed in on a great tip about arriving at Yankee Stadium at least 2 hours before the ticket office opened for their stadium tour; on doing so, we were about the 10th in line, and some disappointed tourists from Colorado who arrived 2 hours after we did were not able to acquire tickets.  

Plan, but Don't Stress
This one is hard for me because I don't like to deviate from plans. But planning is just helpful. Stress and worry takes so much away from planning and, obviously, your vacation. Leave some margins of time in between, but if things just don't work out as planned, enjoy anyways!

Photo Credit: Image: Stuart Miles /

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Family Travels to Big Cities

Vacations have been more stressful than relaxing with a toddler. So I had little to no good expectations of our trip to Chicago as a family. We were attending a wedding in the city and wanted to make it a short get-away for our family. But I was so pleasantly surprised by how we enjoyed ourselves, and I'll be sharing a few things about planning and traveling for budget-conscious families.

With Spring Break or even summer vacations approaching, what's the best way to maximize time and resources?

Before you go, it's helpful to prioritize because most of us are unable to have the luxurious hotel, lavish shopping, and unlimited budgets for the dream vacation. While it is quite possible to save to purposely splurge, we should think about what we're willing to pay more for.

First, accommodations. In choosing the right hotel, we considered price, location, and amenities.

1. Price
Obviously, it is important to compare rates. Check websites like or for specials. Also consider using AAA or other discounts. For traveling to big cities, parking costs should be considered. Does the hotel offer free parking? If not, what kinds of parking privileges do they have?

2. Location
How much are you willing to pay to be close to attractions? How much money is your time worth? In visiting Chicago, we stayed close the airport and took the train into the city. It took us 30-60 minutes, but was worth saving $100 each night.

3. Amenities
I like to eat, so a free breakfast is a huge perk for me! But what else is free? Wi-fi? Parking? Shuttle service?
For other families, the pool area is important. Suites are always nice for families too. Check websites to find out what's the best fit.

In doing research, my go-to site has been I find benefit to reading the reviews and also utilizing the forums to "ask the experts." Researching and gathering details about hotels sends my brain whirling, so make a helpful list or spreadsheet for easy comparison.

Stay tuned for more about vacation planning!

Photo Credit: Image: porbital /