Sunday, July 8, 2018

Discover the Caribbean Coast at Stone Zoo- Sponsored

*This post was created in collaboration with Zoo New England, specifically Stone Zoo's new Caribbean Coast Exhibit.


You may remember last year's trip to Franklin Park Zoo to check out what was new, well this year, the team over at Zoo New England wanted to send the Propah kids to check out the Caribbean Coast exhibit that just opened this Spring. My kids were super excited to hit the road and meet some friends to take in some of the sights and sounds at Stone Zoo. We started our journey to the Caribbean in our walk-through aviary, Flamingo Flats, which is exactly what it sounds like... lots and lots of flamingos. We were greeted by friendly staff and a beautiful flock of flamingos, and are excited to come back because I hear it through the grapevine, we may be able to feed them in the near future!This exhibit also features scarlet ibis and colorful macaws (pictured). We also had the rare opportunity to see the critically-endangered Jamaican iguana, the island's largest terrestrial vertebrate which was thought to be extinct for decades.


One child was interested in the beautiful birds (and dressed to match) and the other child was all about the calypso drums that allowed him to make more noise than usual. This area of the zoo has definitely changed since I had last been there (when Wes was a baby) and I have to say for the better, for sure. The kids really enjoyed seeing the birds, the bush dogs, running along the "calypso trail" and onward towards the rest of the zoo. The way that it's set up, you can enter the Stone Zoo, and go directly into the Caribbean Coast exhibit, while the kids are still in a good, patient mood lol. As a mother, I like to plan to hit the animals and exhibits I most want to see, right out of the gate, to ensure that no meltdown has ensued before I see my bush dogs!


We were able to see a lot of the animals on our visit and I think that besides the Caribbean coast, we were really enthralled by the reindeer on this visit, don't ask me why but we came back to them a few times before calling it a day. The bears were hanging out, the company was great and I marked this off as another great visit to the Stone Zoo. I hear from my friends at The Boston Day Book that the Franklin Park Zoo has some great new exhibits as well, so we'll definitely be making use of our membership this Summer and took a map to plan our next trek!



Have you been to the new Caribbean Coast Exhibit at the Stone Zoo? 


Desert Essence Haircare

* This post was written in collaboration with Moms Meet and Desert Essence Haircare. All opinions are 100% my own as with every blog post that I write.


I've been afforded the opportunity to try a lot of bath and body products since starting this blog 8 years ago. A lot of them I've loved, some not as much and I have always been honest about my thoughts because when it comes to the products we are putting on our bodies, it's serious business for me. Moms Meet sent me a goodie box from Desert Essence and I was excited to try some haircare products because they aren't always a priority for me to ensure are 100% clean and effective. Desert Essence was founded in 1978 around a simple concept: beauty is natural, and nature is beautiful. By bringing the best of nature’s offerings to personal care regimens everywhere, they strive to strengthen the bonds between our planet and all the beings that call it home. Creating that they do. They believe in being responsible to others, honest, and forward-thinking to create and preserve a better future for us all. <--- Their words not mine... I dig it, Desert Essence, I dig it.

They sent a set of their smoothing shampoo and conditioner, their anti-breakage shampoo and conditioner, their smoothing primer, anti breakage hair mask and samples of all (which I promptly tossed in my gym bag) so I got to do a little testing on my colored strands in hot hot humid heat.


What's in my bath and body products is important to me. This you know about me. I don't want unnecessary chemicals, additives, preservatives and so on, especially because it's becoming easier and easier to find products that are better for us and for our environment. Taking a look at the Dessert Essence products, you'll be pleased to see that there is quite the care and consideration taken into what the team there has been using for years. Their ingredient list is extensive but nothing is foreign. It's all easy to understand so you know what you're putting on your body and your family's body (since I'm the one supplying everything for my household, the responsibility falls on me.) The products themselves, ingredients aside, do the work they are tasked to do. I love the way my hair looks after using the Smoothing shampoo and conditioner but if you have an aversion to the way that tea tree oil smells (it can be a touch strong), it may not be the best option for you. The Anti-breakage is welcomed in my routine as my hair has been colored more times in my life than I can count. I don't wash my hair every day so at less than $8 a bottle, this brand is bringing me value that will last for awhile. Dessert Essence brings in the product at a price point that you can try without feeling guilty if it doesn't work out... but I think it will; they've got a good thing going.


Want to try these products yourself? Get 20% off Anti-Breakage and Smoothing Hair Care Products on desertessence.com with the promo code DELovesMomsMeet

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

PlusCBD Oil

*This post was created in collaboration with Moms Meet and Plus CBD Oil

Have you ever tried any CBD products? I am not talking about marijuana but rather products with hemp derived CBD oil, created to bring all the benefits of hemp without the psychotoxic effects. I definitely had to do some research to see what CBD oil was all about but was very intrigued by recommendations from homeopathic physicians as well as seeing other influencers talking about their experiences. PlusCBD Oils says that phytocannabinoids like CBD, are plant derivatives that "communicate" with just about every organ system in the body, helping to restore balance and physiologic homeostasis. When I was offered the opportunity to try PlusCBD oil products, I jumped at the chance because I have been wanting to test the waters with various CBD products for anxiety, topical pain relief and the calming properties that I have seen other folks talk about. I received a pretty awesome care package from PlusCBD Oil and had some immediate favorites that for sure. There are multiple different options depending on what your body and lifestyle needs.


Sampling Tips Direct from Moms Meet:


Every person is unique and has a different, ideal dose for them. PlusCBD Oil suggests starting low and slowly titrating up to find the perfect dose for
yourself. Here are some helpful tips on understanding the different formulations:
  • For those busy moms who are always on the run, PlusCBD Oil Capsules are the way to go. They contain a convenient 15 mg of CBD per serving and can easily be swallowed.
  • The PlusCBD Oil Balm revitalizes skin with a refreshing peppermint scent. The entire jar contains 50 mg of CBD and CBDA.
  • PlusCBD Oil Drops can easily be added to your favorite drink or smoothie as a fun and convenient way to get your daily CBD. Each serving contains 3 mg of CBD.
  • PlusCBD Oil Extra Strength Spray offers the perfect dose of CBD. It is great for beginners or those new to CBD. With 3 mg of CBD per serving, it offers a refreshing taste with each spritz!
  • PlusCBD Oil Softgels are formulated with an extra-virgin olive oil base. With 15mg of CBD per serving this is a great option for those looking for high intensity support.


Like I said, I have tried a variety of products and my clear winner is the Extra strength balm and the pepperment spray. The balm has been a literal lifesaver from sore feet to rubbing on my shoulders after a cupping session left me itching. I felt almost immediate relief and I may just be replacing my all purpose balm for this beauty. As for the peppermint spray, I have been using on my sensitive teeth and gum areas. I recently got a little rough while flossing and my mouth was left very achy. I thought I would try spraying a little CBD oil in my mouth and spreading around. I am not lying when I say that I felt relieft and the nausea that results from my oral sensitivities, also subsided. These are my top recs as I was able to see the immediate results that I could quantify. As for the soft gels and other tablet forms, I would have to really give them a solo chance without any other items in my routine (collagen, multi vitamins etc) to really give a good rundown but I noticed no negative affects from adding them to a day when I didn't use the peppermint oil. I am excited to continue tinkering with my items, bringing them into my life where they will be most impactful. Don'd be afraid to try something from the PlusCBD Oil line. I really do feel like there are ways to mitigate the amount of medications we are taking whether they are for pain, anxiety and the like. We can find things that work in our own individual situation, CBD included.

  Want to try PlusCBD Oil for yourself? Use promo code momsmeet17 to receive 15% off online orders.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Crafty Bloggers for a Cause

I don't know about you but, man, these are crazy times, and I find myself pretty much daily, being worried about our country's future while also feeling extremely helpless. In recent weeks, the feelings of helplessness have all but enveloped my thoughts and emotions as I almost cannot bare the barrage of news coming from the border. As a mother, this makes my heart break and ache and reach out to all these families simply looking for a better life. If you follow me on any of my channels, I think it is clear how I feel about the current state of things and to be honest, my blogging has fallen by the wayside in my endeavors to raise my kids right as well as use what platforms I have to speak up and out against the policies that I do not agree with.

When my blogging friend Cori (Hey, Let's Make Stuff) was like "Guys, we gotta use our platforms and voices to make change and raise money for good causes", I immediately said that I was IN IT TO WIN IT until all the other bloggers were like "creating printables is our game!" and my happy balloon deflated because, alas, Amanda is crafty, but creating printables is not something I know how to do. Along came, Erin (Printable Crush) who did not have time to do a blog post but wanted to submit a design so we teamed up and I love her for creating something for me. I told her that my printable (if I knew how to create one) would say "I Really DO Care", a not so subtle nod to the coat that FLOTUS wore this past week on her way to a children's detention center in Texas. She whipped it up for me and along with some other fantastic bloggers, we've created a bundle of printables that you can use for your protests, to make tshirts or simply print to hang in your home. This artwork was created to support charities that are doing the good, hard work at the border.



100% of your donation will be split evenly between three family-reunification organizations:
  • RAICES (Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services), the largest provider of immigrant legal services in Texas.
  • The Safe Passage Projecta legal advocacy organization for unrepresented children facing deportation. 
  • KIND (Kids In Need of Defense), a national organization that trains lawyers to represent immigrant children at no cost in connection with their immigration and deportation proceedings. 

As bloggers and designers, we've struggled with the intersection of the humanitarian crisis at our southern border and our online platforms. Our hearts are shattered watching families torn apart and it feels so disconnected from our day-to-day work of making beautiful things for our blogs. We're tired of people telling us to "stick to making crafts."
In speaking together, we realized we have a voice and an audience, and designed this justice artwork bundle of SVG and printable files to support family reunification efforts. It's one small way we're speaking out and supporting organizations doing the hard work at the border.
Use your own voice to speak out and share these images on social media. Use the SVG cut files with your Cricut or Silhouette machine to make t-shirts and protest signs, or simply hang these printables in your house to remind yourself that you can turn your heartbreak into action. Together, we can use our collective voices to raise awareness and help bring these families back together.
As TogetherRising.com says, "We know immigration is complicated and still we say: NOT THIS."
SET YOUR PRICE + BUY THE BUNDLE HERE
The files in this bundle were designed by:
Cori George, Hey Let's Make Stuff
Alicia Steele, Sew What Alicia
Erin Williams, Printable Crush
Heidi Kundin, Happiness is Homemade
Cheryl Spangenberg, That's What Che Said
Lindi Haws, Love the Day
Alexis Middleton, Persia Lou
Karen Kedzuch, Dragonfly & Lily Pads
Lindsay Fekitoa, See Lindsay
Sydney Andersen, Tastefully Frugal


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.