Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Shopping, a Propah Weakness

I have to say that shopping is my weakness and here I am in the midst of everyone talking about "tidying up" and organizing all of their belongings and getting rid of things that don't spark joy... and now I am facing something head on, that I suppose that I've known for a long time. I love to shop and when I am sad, upset, looking for purpose or bored, my first instinct is to pull up a website and shop, or go to a store and shop... and I actually think that now that I am acknowledging it, I can channel this energy better and more mindfully.

This isn't a new venture for me and it's something that I still struggle with. Now I am not saying that I will avoid all those sweet Spring dresses  when it comes time or I won't pick up a men's blazer for my husband but I am going to make an effort to be a better, more thoughtful shopper. Picking up only the items I need, maybe for a special occasion or when the kids are outgrowing the clothes that seem to only fit for a few days before it's too small. I am going to make shopping an experience, not a throw away exercise in spending money and time on things that won't "spark joy". If I am going to spend money, it will be a good use of all of those things.

I have been working on a low spend January, which is going OK, not great but not horrible. December was like a free for all and I sort of felt like I was hemorrhaging money in the goal to make our holiday more excellent. Now curbing those urges is proving to be a challenge. So moving forward this month, I am keeping to that low spend, avoiding places like Target (where I just buy so much we don't need), creating a solid food and household budget and then going no spend for February, much like I did last year. I need to do a detox of sorts, find different ways to fill time and find happiness... I want to make shopping fun again, not a weakness that I have to fight.

Any tips and tricks on curbing a mild shopping urge when the weather is cold and we're all hibernating?

Monday, January 7, 2019

Plant Based in 2019 with Alpha Foods

*This post was created in collaboration with Alpha Foods. All opinions are 100% my own.

I'll be 100% honest. In 2018, my husband and I, well, we might have made runs to a certain taco themed fast food restaurant once or twice (or ten times)... sometimes you have a craving for that yummy handheld food that you just don't want to have to share with your kids. As with a lot of people this time of year, we are vowing to make our meals more nutritious and also our easy food a little bit healthier as well! Enter Alpha Foods. I was just introduced to this brand recently and was able to snag some of their plant based frozen burritos and handheld pies so that we could try... and let's just say we have found an easier and healthier option for our occasional burrito craving!

Alpha Foods has created delicious, plant based, protein packed options for those of us wanting to find easier options to eat healthier. No GMOs, no cholesterol, no hormones, corn syrup, artificial flavors, preservatives or animal products without sacrificing any flavor. After the gym on Saturday, I had no desire to pick up lunch out so we just made a couple of burritos and pot pies and the whole family shared a couple of different flavors. We all have our favorites but I'll be working on the Philly Sandwich if you're wondering.

Seriously, I don't know why I didn't think of this sooner. What an amazing way for us to save money, calories, and the gas to drive by stocking up on Alpha Foods while I'm at Stop 'n Shop or Shaw's (find your nearest store here). With amazing flavors like Mexicali, Pizza, Philly Sandwich and Chick'n Fajita, we can consume less meat (one of my personal 2019 goals) while also getting the flavors that we crave on any given lunch, dinner or even weekend snack!

Want to try Alpha Foods yourself or get recipe inspo? Follow Alpha Foods on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, December 31, 2018

My 2019 Vibes

I am not into New Year's resolutions but rather setting intentions for a coming year or finding ways that I want to live better or in more words, find ways to adjust my lifestyle that will help myself and my family thrive. Some people will choose a word while others will make resolutions. Any way you slice it, I think it's an admirable thing to make an effort to improve your life, no matter what time, place or motivation.

A couple of weeks ago, I did a silly little thing on instagram, decorating a Christmas tree with gifs and I somehow landed on a bunch that seemed to set a vibe... so why not, right? I already try to live a life set by moral principles and kindness but trying to bring a couple other things into the mix is a noble intention set by a mother of two young male tornadoes set on bringing in da noise and da funk!

I want to live the following:

Educate Myself to Be a Better Human (especially to marginalized communities)

Paying attention to what's happening around us isn't a choice, it's our duty. If you're not educating yourself on what is going on in the world, well, that disappoints me. I am not intending to take on all of the world's problems (I've been known to take on more than I can emotionally handle) but I do know that I have lived a life of privilege, wherein I have benefited from being white and from a family that was not poverty stricken. I have been doing some spiritual activism workshops, am planning to see Rachel Cargle in February and am looking forward to doing some hard work helping to be a better human and raise better humans. I don't know 100% what this looks like for my year but I know that it's at the top of my list to achieve.

Spend Less, Reduce, Recycle, Reuse, Mindful Shopping

I've been working on this for a few years now but it seems like every year, around the holidays, I fall into the trap of gifting my love. I know that I should be able to do this within reason but when I get festive, boy do I get festive. This year I am kicking off this goal anew by doing a low spend January and a no spend February. My end goal is to spend A LOT less this year, keep to our budget, recycle, reuse and just think before I shop- do I or someone in my family need this? Will this add value to my life (make me happy)? Am I contributing to pollution or negative effects to the environment? I am going to be taking much into account as I spend my money (in all areas) more mindfully than ever.

Be Kind

This should go without saying but truly, this reminder is always a good one. There have been many instances in this past year where someone has shown me kindness and it's meant a great deal to me. I plan to (try) bring kindness into all of my exchanges, as best I can. We never know what someone is going through and what a nice word or two can do for them. Be kind, it's important.

Make the Time to Create

Something I thought about every single day in 2018 was to work on creating something, specifically, whipping out my sewing machine and crafting something... something I was not good at in 2018 was making the time for all these ideas that I had. Looking back, I spent far too much time putting around on the internet, checking my phone or working on other people's projects. I am prioritizing my own stuff this year... so let's see what I can make!

Focus on Fitness and Movement

I really kicked it into high gear this year, going consistently to the gym multiple times a week, finding classes that I really enjoy and making it a part of our routine. I want to continue this into 2019 but perhaps focus it more on what could work to make specific changes in my body. I have plans to perhaps do a couple 5Ks and maybe even a trail run with friends. All I know is that I want to continue moving and shaking and getting stronger!

What a list am I right? It's not so much a list but ways that I want to bringing changes into my every day. I am looking forward to 2019 and seeing what comes my way. I'd love to hear what you've got planned for the upcoming year- leave me an old fashioned comment below!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

A Marvelous Evening with Xfinity, Sponsored Content

*This post is sponsored by Xfinity by Comcast. All opinions are 100% my own.

You guys know by now that every once in awhile, the team at Xfinity like to invite me to learn about their newest gadgets and offerings but this holiday season, they most definitely upped their game! This year, we were invited to learn about X1 and the Amazon apps by celebrating the Season Two premiere of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel at the Revere Hotel in Boston!

I met up with other local bloggers for drinks, treats of all kinds and a screening of the Season Two Premiere of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. The night was super fun, and the team at Xfinity and Amazon just wanted us to have a good time! After such a great evening, I was all on board to learn how Xfinity and Amazon Prime are working together. As avid Prime users ourselves, we know the value of our Prime membership and the Video App (learn about Prime video below). With Xfinity's new offering X1, it's a match made in holiday entertaining Heaven. Xfinity xFi simplifies the home network experience and provides many consumer benefits. Simply put, Xfinity xFi is an app that deserves to be on every phone (and in every home with an Xfinity xFi Gateway). After all, it’s an easy-to-use app that enables customers to see what devices are on their home WiFi networks, troubleshoot issues, and even pause their home WiFi connections during dinnertime.

 The features you need are at your fingertips when you rent an Xfinity xFi Gateway and download the app. Can you see how this would make life more streamlined, especially in a tech savvy household?  My kids know how to navigate our Fire TV remote and I feel like they'd be quick to pick up the Xfinity apps whether we are at home or on the go. With complimenting products like Gateways and Xfi Pods, you can set up your home however you'd like, based on your everyday needs. The X1 platform is an Entertainment Operating System that gives Xfinity TV customers an interactive TV experience, which is something I know that my husband appreciates... and as always, Xfinity is super thoughtful of how their mobile devices pair with everything they do in the home. They've got plans that include everything your family might need; they're there to help!

Do you use Xfinity and X1 and if so, are you ensuring that you are making the most out of your system, at home and on the go? Check out all the services and how they work together to make the ultimate in entertainment for you and your family!

Extra! Extra! Read All About it!
X1 Customers Will Be Able to Search and Navigate All the Prime Originals Like Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Homecoming,The Man in the High Castle and The Grand Tour Via Xfinity On Demand and Watch Them in the Prime Video App. Prime Video Catalog Will Be Integrated with Live and On Demand Services Throughout the Emmy Award-Winning X1 Interface!

About Prime Video
Prime Video is a premium subscription streaming service that offers customers an unmatched collection of digital videos—all with the ease of finding what they love to watch in one place.
·         Included with Prime: Watch thousands of popular movies and TV shows, including our award-winning Prime Originals such as Emmy-winning The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, Homecoming, The Man in the High Castle, Bosch, Academy Award-winningManchester by the Sea and The Salesman and Academy Award-nominated The Big Sick, exclusives, live sports and licensed and self-published content available in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide.
·         Watch more with Prime Video ChannelsPrime members can add 150+ channels like STARZ, Showtime, and more—no extra apps to download, and no cable required. Only pay for the ones you want, and cancel anytime.  View the full list of channels available atamazon.com/channels.
·         Rent or Buy: Enjoy hundreds of thousands of titles, including new-release movies and entire seasons of current TV shows, available for all Amazon customers to rent or buy.
·         Instant access: Watch where and when you want with the Prime Video app on your smart TV, mobile device, Fire TV, Fire tablet, Apple TV, game consoles or from the web. For a complete list of compatible devices, visit amazon.com/howtostream.
·         Enhanced experiences: Make the most of every viewing with 4K Ultra HD- and High Dynamic Range (HDR)-compatible content. Go behind the scenes of your favorite movies and TV shows with exclusive X-Ray access, powered by IMDb. Save it for later with select mobile downloads for offline viewing.

In addition to Prime Video, the Prime membership includes unlimited fast free shipping options across all categories available on Amazon, more than two million songs and thousands of playlists and stations with Prime Music, secure photo storage with Prime Photos, unlimited reading with Prime Reading, unlimited access to a digital audiobook catalogue with Audible Channels for Prime, a rotating selection of free digital games and in-game loot with Twitch Prime, early access to select Lightning Deals, exclusive access and discounts to select items, and more. To sign-up for Prime or to find out more visit: amazon.com/prime.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

What it Means to Shop Small

As we head into the heavy gift giving season, everyone has gift giving on their minds. I hope to make mindful movements and purchases, especially now that I am gifting something that took thought when choosing. One of the best things I think someone can do when shopping for gifts is to shop small and local if possible. Shopping small is one of the best ways to contribute to a business owner out there hustling, working their buns off to succeed. You know that product has been made with love and passion. Shopping small AND local will ensure that you are contributing directly to your local economy and the people who are your neighbors. I took a little poll of some of my friends who also happen to run small business. I asked why they viewed it important to shop small and I've got some great answers that will encourage you to shop more mindfully than you may do already!

Face/Food Natural Skincare
"I love to support small and local biz here in my town. Newburyport, MA is full of creative and passionate entrepreneurs, it’s what keeps the pulse of our little city beating! Of course I love to receive orders and have people shop in my store but what really makes me do a happy dance is when I get sincere feedback about how much a customer or client is loving their product and how it makes their skin feel or look . Literally what keeps me feeling passionate about my craft." -Khaki Paquette of Face/Food Natural Skincare ( I love Khaki's Flower Power Healing Toner!)

“Small business don’t have thousands to millions to spend on marketing and promotions like the big box stores. But what we do have are unique products that we work hard to promote and offer great customer service. Small businesses help the local and entire economy with tax dollars and jobs. Nothing makes me happier than when I get an email or a review telling me how much of a difference my products have made to them. And what really makes me happy is when my products are given as gifts. That is such a compliment. “ - Andrea Pierce-Naymon of OY-L (My fave product right now from OY-L is the body butter!)

"Each time an order comes in, I most certainly do a little happy dance! It truly means so much to me that I have loyal customers and new customers who enjoy shopping Pretty Pure. I truly put all of my passion and love into this, which I think is true for all small business owners- there’s a lot of heart there that just makes shopping more meaningful, which is also something we look for when curating our brand selections. Also knowing that my little ones will grow up seeing that you can do anything that sets your soul on fire is something that drives me in the day to day. It’s not easy balancing it all, you tend to wear many hats and have your hands in all aspects of the business where larger companies have a single person for each job, but it is so worth it. It’s worth the connections we have made with our customers, the joy that customers may get from the small notes we include in the packages and the ability to support other small business owners through our shop." - Kristen of Pretty Pure Beauty (If I were you, I'd snag some holiday lip stuff from Kristen's fab collection!)

"As a small business owner I of course do a happy dance every time we sell something! :) However, here at Trellis Beauty the most rewarding part is building long term relationships with our guests through education. Education is empowering, far more than selling a product to someone for us. As a small business we are passionate about every piece of the business which translates to amazing customer service for the guests, and at the end of the day translates into repeat business for us, which translates into sales for us. It’s a win, win!" - Tracy Trellis Gori of Trellis Beauty (In Raleigh, NC? Book a Facial Steam at Tracy's gorgeous little shop!)

"My favorite thing about small businesses is their ability to build community. Behind every small business success story is a team of supporters who pitched in to offer help, advice, funding or became early adopters themselves. Small businesses have the flexibility to choose their suppliers and make sure that everything from the ingredients and packaging they source to their manufacturing and distribution is done ethically and sustainably. This holiday season, we're teaming up with two of our favorite Boston-based businesses for our Think Global, Shop Local Holiday Gift Box featuring Taza's Peppermint Dark Bark, MEM Tea, and our True Moringa Oil" - Emily Cunningham of True Moringa (Snag that holiday gift box, y'all!)

"Small businesses give a personal feel to your shopping rather than just being another customer. When I receive an order, I drop everything to get that order out as soon as possible! I love to hand write thank you notes with every order. It sounds strange but I enjoy clicking the "fulfilled" button on my site and dropping it off to the post office. I track the order like I'm the customer rather than the business to when it was received and then anxiously wait for feedback. Products are made or sold with care and attention. You have the ability to communicate with the owner or a small team rather than a hotline. They appreciate your business and realize that you have many choices so when you're shopping with them, you're promoting something I call "genuine shopping". The products are not mass produced and you're not a number on a customer list, rather a real client to the business." - Sabeen Zia of Muskaan Makeup (Sabeen knows I love her lipstick in Bougie Brunch!)

"We love the trend towards small business and supporting makers. It is something we highly value as a brand and also love to support others. All things are made by someone and to know exactly where, who, and how it was made is a real joy for us. It helps us to respect and value the things we buy and also show gratitude to the makers. It's why we love to shop small! For our shop, when we know customers are happy with the product and also the experience, it makes it all so worth it. We strive for excellence in our shop and it means so much when people have a good experience!" - Rebekah Twinem of Found Shop Vintage  (Rebekah's vintage collection is ever changing, follow her on Instagram for the latest!)

"Being a small business is so hard and so worth it. What we hope people understand is that when you shop locally, in locally owned businesses, you're literally putting food on our tables. You're contributing in a tangible way and spending your money intentionally. When you spend money at small shops, you can rest assured that your dollars are appreciated and that you're investing in your community." - Rachel and Meredith of Forty Winks Lingerie Boutique (You know this Mama is ALL about the lounge wear!)

So tell me... where are you shopping small this holiday season? 

If you're stopping in a brick and mortar shop, be sure to chat up the business owners and tell them what you love about their shop! Shopping online? Leave a little note in the notes section to send a smile over the nets. I guarantee you that someone in that shop will love it! Spread the love and goodness this season, my friends!