Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Learning to Relax, Recharge and Reflect through Remission

*This post is in partnership with Cost Plus World Market.

It's pretty tough to find someone who hasn't been touched by cancer somehow. I know that personally, my family has dealt with a multitude of different kinds in different members with varying degrees of difficulty. Most notably, both my aunt and grandmother on my mother's side have battled breast cancer and won! To have two survivors is not just an inspiration to us but gives others hope when we share their stories. This post gave me the opportunity to learn more about my family and also brings to light the importance of self care after a cancer diagnosis. After going through cancer treatment, and then to be in remission, it's so important to take time to care for your needs whether physical or emotional. Both my aunt and grandmother are survivors but they are also thrivers, which I find to be amazingly inspirational. Through their personal journeys, I've realized that there are great ways to relax, recharge and reflect after a cancer diagnosis, which is very much needed after treatments that can be very traumatic.

Something that has helped countless people in channeling their feelings, is the power of journaling. A notebook and a pen can help in healing if given the chance. My grandmother has always been one to write thoughtful things to me, as long as I can remember. She battled breast cancer in the 1980's when I was a very small child so my experiences with her have always been when she was in remission. I think that in writing we can often express things, put them on paper, to release them from our minds and the weight of those things can be lifted. Easier said than done, I know, but there is something to it. Studies have shown that the emotional release from journaling lowers anxiety, stress, and helps bring better sleep.

You know that I am all about the wellness and self care rituals that keep us sane from day to day but after the stress of something as serious as cancer, in surviving there is the utmost importance placed on taking that time for yourself, even if you are not going through remission yourself but have been on the journey with a loved one. Cancer is no joke and the experience is most likely one that shakes your friends and family to the core. There is the mindfulness aspect to self care (mediation, journaling etc) but there's also the tangible things as well. Lighting some candles, spraying your pillow after a hot bath or taking quiet time to yourself over a hot cup of herbal tea can go a long way in feeling the love. Spa gifts to yourself count too, since everyone loves to relax a little, so pampering is always in style. In the relaxation, you can find the moments to contemplate your experiences to find better understanding and appreciation for the blessings that you've been given. In my conversations with family, that is one of the most common themes, is the feeling of being blessed. Even if it's hard to find the positives, we should always try to do so!

When my Aunt was first diagnosed with cancer, it was around the same time as Guiliana Rancic. Guiliana had partnered with LOFT to create a line of jewelry where the proceeds would benefit breast cancer charities. For some reason, it was important to my aunt to find a statement necklace that helped her to share her story. She says that people have stopped her to chat about her necklace only to continue talking and realize that they're both breast cancer survivors. Giving herself this small gift, a reminder of her fight, also gives her the opportunity to share her story. I find that to be pretty darn amazing, right? Something that seems so small or insignificant can be so much more. Finding these connections in remission can be a huge part of the healing process so find those special little gifts to yourself that reminds you how awesome you are and who knows what more it can bring to you.

Meditation isn't easy, especially if you have a lot on your mind. Something that I was talking to my Aunt about was being more thoughtful, or mindful if you will. She's taken workshops, that's how important it is to her. In remission, the need to be positive is important because there's always the worry that the cancer will come back. When worry creeps in, so do feelings of sadness. Meditation can help to center you and bring you back to basics, clearing the mind of these worries. Meditation can also help to relieve stress, decreases depression and anxiety while also helping your brain look within. It may sound hokey but it's not, I promise you.

Ultimately, we can help those in our lives going through treatment and in remission by being their support and encouraging them to take time for themselves to heal and to be happy. What I've learned through my family is that these are tippy top priorities. I'm so happy to have partnered with Cost Plus World Market on this post. They aren't just an amazing place to shop but they have initiatives that really show that they care about their customers and their families. Through 06/04/2017 you can enter to win $2500 for you and an amazing woman in your life through Cost Plus World Market's Amazing Women Sweepstakes. Also in May, you buy your favorite jewelry and 10% of the sales (up to $10,000) will be donated to the American Cancer Society through Dazzle and Donate! See? Those are two initiatives that are super fun but have substance so thumbs up to them! And if that wasn't enough, in honor of my Aunt Sandy and my Grandmother Barbara, I am making a donation to the American Cancer Society in their name. It's the least I can do to honor two amazing women in my life!

I love stopping into my Framingham, MA store but you can find your closest location here. Also to snag any of the awesome offerings that I have in my post, be sure to click through below and learn to relax, recharge and reflect in remission or just in your life. Being mindful, present. appreciative and aware are keys to happiness, if you ask me.

Do you have any special ways that you've celebrate life through remission or helped a family member do so? I'd love to hear your story!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Be Prepared for Outdoor Fun in the Sun

*This post was written in collaboration with the wonderful people over at Follain.

Hi it's me, Amanda, the girl who has gotten more than her share of debilitating sunburns in her 34 years on this Earth. The skin is fair and the carelessness that I exhibited in the past is embarrassing. All I did was damage my body's biggest organ, my skin, when I could have taken a moment to be prepared for the outdoors, even if I thought I was only going to be out for a "couple minutes". Now that I have kids, it's a TOTALLY different ballgame. I am charged with caring not just for my skin but for the fair littles that I brought into the world. Sun is super damaging but also, ain't no one got time for a sunburned toddler.

Erbaviva Baby Sunscreen at Follain

As we head into a holiday weekend, which is looking like gorgeous weather, it's super important for me as the household and people manager to ensure that I've got everything on hand/in my bag that we would need while being outside in the sun and elements. I've mentioned before that once my kid/s came on the scene, I totally cleaned up my beauty act. This most definitely includes sunscreen as well. Zinc Oxide is the important ingredient and unlike typical sunscreen brands, it doesn't have chemicals/UV filters that are hormone disruptions, yikes. Our top picks: Erbaviva Baby Sunscreen, Josh Rosebrook Nutrient Day Cream SPF 30, and Suntegrity Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30

Skincando Combat-Ready Bug Repellent at Follain

When you're outside in May, it's like c'mon bugs, leave me alone but really it's only the beginning. Those buggies will be out in full force come Summer and you'll need a healthy way to repel them. I like to have a lot of insect repelling plants around like citronella, geraniums, lemongrass and lavender. I've also made my own soy based essential oil candles with citronella as well... but sometimes that's not enough. There are some great brands creating insect repellent without all the disgusting chemicals. They're safe for you and the kiddos and will be in my Summer bag. Our Picks: Captain Blankenship Sail Away Bug Spray and Skincando Combat-Ready Bug Repellent  

Ursa Major Essential Face Wipes at Follain

Do you sweat? Yeah, me neither... but if I did, I know I would need something for after being out in the sun. Whether your got a little too much sun or you are grimy and greasy, there are some great options for your on the go needs. I personally love to have some face wipes on me in case I need to freshen my business. If I wear makeup and then sweat profusely, I tend to get grimy which is no fun, especially if you're out all day. Face wipes and sprays are fantastic to get a quick refresh. Our Picks: Farmastethics Cool Aloe and Lavender Mist, Herbivore Botanicals After Sun Body Mist and Ursa Major Essential Face Wipes

No matter what you're doing this weekend or any weekend this Summer, please make sure that you are preparing yourself and your family for great skincare. Not only are you saving yourselves from harmful UV rays and huge mosquitoes but you can feel good about the options that you're choosing, knowing that the nasty chemicals aren't present. When you're not worried about your sunblock, you'll only have to be concerned about eating all.the.watermelon. 😉

Friday, May 19, 2017

Bloggers Be Bruchin' at Marketstreet Lynnfield

Being a Mom is great and all but when you're invited to a blogger brunch, you don't turn down the time to get away for a little while, breathe, shop and talk with adults! When the folks at Marketstreet Lynnfield invited me for brunch and shopping last week, I couldn't turn them down. If you've never heard of the property, Marketstreet Lynnfield is a  FANTASTIC shopping/dining/all the activities destination on the Northshore of Massachusetts. I hadn't been since they added a ton of shops and now this is literally going to be my new favorite place to spend the day alone or with the family+kids.

There's literally something for everyone. We started our day at Davio's with Bloody Mary's and the most delicious of brunches. If you've never been to one of the Davio's locations, you are missing out. It's always a treat. We had the opportunity to eat then start a day of shopping, a shop hop if you will. We stopped by the new Amazon Books store to test out the Alexa, took a jaunt over to Pia to shop her absolutely lovely curated goods, grabbed some tea at David's Tea and discovered literally my new favorite store, FatFace! There are so many stores, restaurants and things to see, there was no way that we could do it all in one day. I already have a list of places that I want to stop into next time I head up there: I see you Pink Parkway, California Pizza Kitchen, Athleta and Blue mercury.

Build your own Bloody Mary Bar at Davio's
A shot from Pia's gorgeous shop
Friendly folks at FatFace
The Tea Wall is literally my favorite, David's Tea

If  you wanted to make a day of it, Marketstreet Lynnfield has a ton of great events for the family, fitness both on their green and in on site studios like Solstice Power Yoga, Pure Barre and Stretch Out Studios and of course all the shopping you might need to do. I can't wait to grab my Mom next time she's up to visit for a girls day of brunch, yoga and shopping. It's the perfect place to wrap it up all into one. Plus, I hear it through the grapevine that the Summer events for kids and family are top notch. I suspect this won't be the last you'll hear me talking about heading up to Marketstreet.

*Marketstreet Lynnfield organized a blogger's brunch with treats, discounts and eats. All opinions are still 100% mine as always!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Uashmama usa + a Giveaway!

Like a lot of cool things, I discovered UASHMAMA® through Instagram and immediately began crushing on this amazingly cool brand creating a very unique line with a classically cool point of view. If you were to take a look at the UASHMAMA  (pronounced wash•mama) goods you would never know that they were paper until you inspected closer/further. It's washable paper that looks like leather but is treated in such a way that it can be used over and over and over again. It's really quite interesting when you have the chance to check out this line of bags and accessories what the process is in creating them. Made from virgin fiber through cultivation, not deforestation (which I love!), the process is similar to that of leather, where the paper is stretched and tanned making it durable to withstand washing and daily use. What started in Tuscany as a bread bag, has now become so much more yet still stays so very true to the UASHMAMA roots. Bread bags, purses, wallets, aprons, backpacks and more, the UASHMAMA brand is stylishly chic while being sustainable and very cool. I've started with the Otti bag (pictured here) but I'm definitely going to pick up some of the all purpose paper bags, mostly for herbs in my kitchen because how dreamy, right?

The brand started in Europe but is now available in the US, so it's pretty much my job now to make sure as many people as possible know about it. The folks over at UASHMAMA US feel the same way so they've been super generous to us- I'm so excited to be working with them to offer one reader the chance to win the Otti bag (I picked mine in gray) in any color of their choosing. It comes in 12 colors, so you'll have to start daydreaming now about which one you'd choose! Head over to Instagram to enter on the picture below. Entering is SUPER simple, you won't want to miss out!

Let me know what you think of UASHMAMA!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Calligraphy with a Side of Fries

Last week, I had the awesome opportunity to see my girls of Sip and Script at an unlikely place, McDonald's! A calligraphy class with french fries, as it turns out, is one of my new favorite things. I'm a mother of a toddler so I know McDonald's and it's trustworthy fare; chicken nuggets and fries have saved me on more than one occasion. I'm not ashamed to say that we do partake in drive-thru fries in moderation over here. What I was excited to learn on this trip to the new McDonald's in Everett, MA, is that they are offering some new signature recipes that are made with delicious, fresh ingredients that I can feel good about eating on the go. We went behind the scenes to see how they were made and were able to taste the end results...which were so delish.

As of May 5th, there are 11 restaurants in New England that feature these great new signature crafted recipes (Pico Guacamole, Sweet BBQ Bacon and Maple Bacon Dijon). There are self ordering, touch screen kiosks that make ordering fun and ensures you're seeing what your order is before placing it. I usually grab my McDonald's to go but these new concepts have table service... table service at McDonald's! That's pretty cool and makes the experience more dining and less dashing. They are really working to make McDonald's not just your old stand by but offer new dining options, especially if you're looking for something a little different.

I was sort of obsessed with my grilled chicken sandwich topped with pico de gallo, guacamole, ranch and cheese all served on an artisan bun. It was pretty dang delicious and I was able to eat it slowly, because I was out without my children lol. When I was ordering, I had the opportunity to see the calorie counts as I was adding and subtracting ingredients to cater to my tastes and dietary restrictions. It's a great tool, especially if you're dieting at all (which I am off and on while trying to find sanity in this new SAHM lifestyle).

The fact that I was introduced to these new recipes with a Sip and Script class was basically just icing on the cake. I love what those girls are doing, teaching people the art of calligraphy and hand lettering so that they can take their craftiness into their own hands. I've done two classes with them and would recommend them any day of the week. This was certainly a night well spent away from my kids! You can search McDonald's for a location near you serving the new Signature Crafted recipes and check out Sip and Script for an event that you might be interested in!

*I received compensation from McDonald’s in exchange for writing this review. Although this is a sponsored post, all opinions my own.