Sunday, June 24, 2018

A break from Reality but not the Backstreet Boys

This past weekend, I listened to nothing but the Backstreet Boys. Before you start questioning my coolness, please be aware that I was a teen of the late '90's/early 2000's and my musical tastes grew from that era. It's not often that I listen to boy bands and the like but as I headed to Vermont for the Wanderlust Festival, I just had a hankering for some BSB... so I fired up my google play and just let it go nuts on their catalog.

You'd think I would have switched to something else once I tired of BSB but it was actually quite the contrary. I spent A LOT of time reflecting as I listened to songs from every album, shuffling at Google Play's will. When I first started listening to their music, I was what like 13 years old (don't do the math please) and I can vividly remember each albums cover and songs that bring me back to a moment or moments in time (except the entire album I missed in 2009 because I was busy being a bad BSB fan) sharing a lot of this love with my sister. I have grown up with their music and really, I can't say that *Nsync or 98 Degrees or any of the others have been along for the entire ride... OK, so why am I spending my time writing a blog post about the Backstreet Boys and have I no shame? Short answer, I don't know but I am putting it here because I had a lot of time to think this past weekend and for some reason, the spark was a boy band.

I was excited for some time away for various reasons, but mostly, I wanted to turn off the bad news for a couple of days because I have literally felt it tearing me up inside, feeling helpless and distraught... it turns out that Vermont is the perfect place to find some peace... Y'all, I listened to 93 Backstreet Boys songs on my trip and it was most certainly unplanned. Did you know there were that many? If you would have asked me I would have guessed they didn't have more than 50 but I just let that list play every time I got in the car and even when I got back home, until google would give me no more songs... I seriously think that I took some refuge in this music as I drove and drove and drove, being jolted back to happy memories, remembering songs I had forgotten, B sides, laughing at some of the ridiculous lyrics but allowing myself to really enjoy the music that I love, whether you think it's cool or not.

What was once music that a 13 year old listened to, I was now listening with 35 year old ears (OK well now the cat's outta the bag). Any girls of my age can relate to the boy band era and how we were engrossed with our "favorites" (mine has always been Kevin, sorry not sorry), planning our next concert (I can remember waiting in line at ticketmaster that's how old I am), swooning at sappy lyrics... and as I listened to these songs, I let myself feel that shit. As the shuffle hopped around to different albums I also equated them to different times in my life.  I was able to reflect, uninterrupted, on the past 20 years of my life, geesh... are you still with me here?

I thought about complex relationships, both mine and the men of the Backstreet Boys (I know, I know) and how life can just throw some crazy stuff at you. What was the reason that Nick didn't sing on the track "The Perfect Fan" from Millenium (1999) which was dedicated to their Moms? Was their relationship that strained? It made me sad to think about... I remember watching the guys on Oprah when they were on her show to support AJ in rehab and recovery and at the time didn't appreciate the kind of relationships that they must have had to get them through that kind of tumultuous time. What must those relationships have looked like? Kevin left the band but then returned and there isn't any of that *Nsync level BS imho. And also, I feel like Howie did not get the love he deserved all these years... that man has kind eyes and that counts for a lot. ... as a kid, these were just hot guys singing in a haunted house about being "back" (I still don't know where they went) but as an adult, it is most definitely a different listening experience.

I thought of riding in the car with my Mom and sisters in High school, literally forcing that poor woman to listen to Millenium more times then she ever probably would have wanted to... but she did it and it made me think of all the things my Mom has done for us over the years that I just didn't appreciate in the moment and have probably forgotten about... but perhaps my Mom secretly liked BSB? We'll never know because I could ask her now and she will have no idea what I'm talking about. I thought of their most recent album In a World Like This (2013) and how I listened to it in its entirety a couple times through while I was driving for business, while also pregnant with Wesley, and it amazed me that I could listen to this group in two totally different times in my life and appreciate them at both stages.

Anyways, I could go on for hours and really, I can't remember all the deep thoughts (and I mean, legit deep thoughts) I had while on my BSB VT Trek, a lot of which had nothing to do with the music, but after a zen couple days of yoga and the good stuff that happens when you have some time to yourself and all the BSB there was to offer, I really think that I was able to have a valuable self check in... Maybe I will do this again in a few BSB albums because with any luck, we are not at the end of this road together. And if you were wondering, I listened to the album I missed, This Is Us (2009), because like an old friend, I made sure to catch up.

For your listening pleasure, a spotify playlist with my favorites (which took forever) but I tried to choose something from every era, please listen and enjoy and you don't have to tell anyone or tell everyone because the Backstreet Boys are fantastic, whatever!

As a note: I feel like I have been at an elevated level of emotion, especially recently, and perhaps that contributed to this reflection on a youngish adult life lived (so far) via the discology de Backstreet Boys. You can think that this blog post stinks of cheese but I don't care. I am going to be who I want to be and listen to what I want to and raise the best humans possible who dance and laugh and love because damnit, this life is absolutely too f*&%ing short to do anything otherwise... and now that I have gotten this off my chest and heart, I am headed off to make some t-shirts for my family's protest on Saturday because I certainly recharged my batteries and am ready to be the good again.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Carotino Palm Fruit Oil- Sponsored Post

*This post was created in sponsorship with Moms Meet and Carotino Palm Fruit Oil. All opinions are my own.

As you now know, I am always on the lookout for new and creative ways to make our lives a little healthier over here. When Moms Meet offered the opportunity to try Carotino's Palm Fruit Oil, I had to do a little research. I had never heard of it before so checked out Palm Oil Health, for all the details. What I learned was that Palm Fruit Oil is a sustainable and is rich in natural chemical compounds that are important for health and nutrition. It's a natural source of Carotenoids & Vitamin E as well as supplying fatty acids and other important fat-soluble micronutrients. You're probably wondering why it's a reddish orange color? Well, think beta carotene, or carrots and you'll get a good idea of the nutrients that are packed in this Malaysian tropical cooking oil.

From the team at Carotino: Carotino is a healthy, natural oil which is ideal for all kinds of cooking, including frying, baking, roasting and making salad dressings, sauces and marinades. It’s zero trans fat, cholesterol free and is a great source of antioxidants, uniquely rich in natural Pro-Vitamin A & E and high in Omega 3 & 6 essential fatty acids.

So yeah, I was going to try swapping out my olive oil and yes, vegetable oil (for my baking) for something that seems like a healthier route to take. I had absolutely smashing results with my proteins. I made a chicken tender dinner for the kids and did a quick flash fry in the palm fruit oil, and it added flavor and wasn't too greasy. I made a coconut crusted shrimp and tossed them in my stir fry pan with the Carotino palm fruit oil and it was delicious and had that nice crisp you would want on you fried foods. If you're going to fry, you can try to use a better for you oil, am I right?

I had a little less success with baking, only because if you let the oil sit or it's combined with something cold like eggs or milk, it begins to solidify if you don't continue mixing it to keep it liquid. I made my ginger apple cake with this oil and I think I should definitely try to make it again, this time with my mixer moving on low to keep the batter silky smooth. The taste was definitely there, just looking for that successful bake. I will honestly buy this oil myself (I did a quick google and it's super easy to purchase if you're picking up what I'm putting down) because I feel like I am almost through this gifted bottle but not done with my experimentation!

Have you ever used Malaysian Palm Fruit Oil? Dish on your favorite recipes!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Vegan Smart Nutritional Shake Sponsored Post

*This post was created in partnership with Moms Meet. All opinions are 100% my own.

When Moms Meet contacted me about trying the Vegan Smart shake mixes, I was at first a little like, hmmm shakes, we've already got our shake routine set in the Propah household but then thought again, because I am always looking for new ways to get some extra vitamins into my kids. Over here, we do afternoon smoothies, full of fruits and veggies (shhh don't tell the kids) because #1 they are fun to make together and #2 again, I need to get nutrition into my kids.

We were lucky enough to try to Vegan Smart All in One Nutrition shake in Chocolate and Vanilla and let's just say that all the health elements aside, the shakes are delicious. Of course, you can find delish shake mixes just about anywhere but since we got that out of the way, let's talk about the health benefits of adding a scoop of Vegan Smart to a shake or smoothie:
  • Complete Protein Blend – Contains 5 different non-GMO plant based proteins providing all the essential amino acids in precise proportions, readily usable by the body, for building and repairing tissue and muscle.*
  • Whole Food Complex – Includes 9 different healthy colorful fruits and vegetables offering naturally occurring polyphenols, antioxidants and flavonoids to support overall wellness.*
  • 22 Vitamins & Minerals – Act as catalysts in thousands of biochemical reactions every day to support normal and healthy cell function.*
  • Fiber & Omega Blend – Provides 6 grams of dietary fiber to help keep you regular. Also contains over 200 mg of Omega-3 to support a healthy brain, heart and circulatory system.*
  • Prebiotics – Contains 150 mg ActivAloe® bioactive polysaccharides that stimulate the growth and maintenance of beneficial intestinal flora.*
  • Digestive Enzymes Blend – Assists in digesting foods more completely for greater absorption of nutrients and the good health that goes with them.*

We've used the Vegan Smart for the past couple of weeks and I have taken the adult serving and brought it down a bit because I do share the smoothies with my kids. I am always very careful when introducing new foods to my kids and so far, we haven't encountered any allergies (for which I am thankful!)... but when I am making myself a shake, I use an adult serving and have to say that this is the perfect breakfast before hitting the gym as I have energy and enough to burn after (when I pick my kids up from the childcare lol)

The Vegan Smart mixes are now a part of my routine moving forward because they are easy and add such value to my nutritional values on any given day. I am lucky to have been able to try them and encourage you to as well if you are looking for a non dairy, vegan option for your family. If you've tried them, I would love to hear your thoughts!

Visit Vegan Smart online!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Owning Your Body

It's #OwnYourBodBabe day, y'all (follow the hashtag on social) and in addition to shouting from the rooftops about what we love about ourselves, I have asked a couple of the ladies taking part to impart some of their self love wisdom on us. It's not easy to look in the mirror, see what you perceive as flaws and then be like "but I love it!" and really, every day can't be a love-fest but if we are really committed to loving our bodies for the amazing things they do for us, we can see positive changes in ourselves as well as in the people in our circles!

As someone who has always "struggled" with her weight, it's up to me to change my own mind about how I look. It really isn't about how others view me, it's about how I view myself. I will be the first to tell you how wonderful you look but I won't offer myself the same love. That has started to change as I have been committed to finding positives even when I'm not feeling it. I look in the mirror and I find something that I am happy about, then build on it. Amanda, your hair looks great today or Amanda, your skin is so clear and bright... giving myself compliments, helps me to be more confident in what I have got going on. It's just about consistency!

"My road to body positivity was akin to pretty much any other trek I've taken in life- bumpy and filled with twists and turns, but with a heck of lot of scenic views and beauty to be appreciated along the way, too. And it's a journey I'm still on. There are days I feel like I could carry the weight of the world on my shoulders, and there are days where I feel like I fall short. But the most important thing I try to remember is that it's a journey- a day at a time, step at a time experience that my body, in all its perfections and flaws and beauty and strength, is carrying me on. I am the decisive element on how successful this adventure will be. My body and my mind and my spirit are the vessels that are going to carry me there. And that's a positive, beautiful thing." - Natalie of Wear You are Now

"For me, practicing what I preach is so important. I am a registered nurse that works in a residential treatment center for women with eating disorders. Every day, I educate my patients on gratitude and daily practices to implement that can help one to love and embrace their body. The more I practice this, the better I get at it and the easier it becomes. Yes, I still have body-negative moments. Yes, I still look at pictures and think "Ugh, if only I had ___" BUT, there are plenty of things I really like about myself so when I start to feel upset about my body I bring myself back to all the lessons I teach others and practice them for myself." - Olivia of Style by Liv

"I’ve recently made a promise to myself to spend more time celebrating my body than trying to “fix” it. I really believe our bodies hear everything we say, and feel everything we do. Our positive thoughts, words and action hold so much power." - Elizabeth of On Tap for Today

Do you have any advice on remaining body positive? I'd love to hear it!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Join Us: #OwnYourBodBabe

So I decided to put the story I've been sharing in a blog post so it's easier for people to refer to if need be... It's all about the body positivity, yo! I've been having a lot of conversations lately about body positivity. I posted an instagram story the weekend before last about a crop top (as in I was wearing one) and in all honesty, I have never had so many people respond so positively while also admitting that they don't give themselves enough love. In talking with close friends and even ladies that I only know online, one thing rings true... we can all build one another up, but we aren't the best at giving ourselves the love we deserve. I had an idea and it's really quite simple. We embrace what we have and we own it, because it's awesome no matter the jiggle or the wrinkles or our height or the perception that we have of our flaws. I want to encourage myself and also encourage every lady in our lives to do the same because we are all perfectly imperfect and beautiful and so so worthy!


I am coordinating a day (May 14th, a Monday) to coordinate a campaign to spread self love, because I am sick of shaming myself because I don't feel like I'm "enough" or when I look in the mirror and see my age showing thinking "bleck". Where do you come in? Post a picture (wherever you want Instagram, facebook, twitter, text or email) on this same day using the hashtag #OwnYourBodBabe and talk about what you love about YOU. I'm thinking white shirts and jeans, the most basic palette of you (but also, I totally want us to be matchy matchy). It can be a professional shot, a selfie, a snap of you running (for exercise or after your kids), a video of you dancing, ANYTHING!... but what I think is most important is the messaging, what example you're setting, who you might encourage by being proud of what your Mama gave ya. Two out of Two Elizabeth's I polled agreed this was a good idea!

If you are interested, I will totally remind you a few days before. Fill out this veeeeery short survey. Survey monkey says this survey will take you one minute. It is basically "yes I'm interested" and "here's a good email address to remind me when May 14th is nearing":

Let me know if you have any questions. This is for fun but also for encouragement, for ourselves and the people around us. No pressure if this isn't for you but obviously you know I would LOVE LOVE to have you involved- this is my community and I love the support I've received so far!

Comment with any feedback or questions below!