Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Xfinity's Work for Accessibility, Sponsored by Xfinity

*I was invited to an event with Xfinity to celebrate Autism Awareness Month. All opinions are my own.

Last week, I attended an event with my friends at Xfinity, this time for Autism Awareness Month and I gotta say, this wasn't just fun, it was also moving. I am not personally affected by autism but as a mother of two young boys, I know how hard it can be to raise children. It's hard to raise kids, let alone children who have developmental delays, communication challenges and sensory sensitivities. With help, families living with autism can certainly increase the quality of life for everyone- parents, kids and other family members so that everyone is able to live happier lives... so you're probably thinking, what does Xfinity have to do with families living with autism? Well, more than you'd think! Xfinity is working on a lot of great things to help families have access to technology that enriches their lives. Have a look at Anne, an Xfinity Product Market Manager, and her son Jake's story. 

Did that give you the feels? It gave me the feels. At the end of the day, I just want to see everyone living happy and fulfilled lives, not matter what they're doing. Anne, along with the Xfinity team, as well as representatives from the New England Center for Children were on hand to show us in person, the great new technologies and features that Xfinity has created to help their customers. Using the Xfinity Home Camera and her cell phone+Ipad, Anne was able to have more freedom while also giving Jake more independence... and those aren't the only things that Xfinity has to offer those looking for more accessibility in their home. Looking for more security? Xfinity's Home security system will keep you connected and protected. Their completely customizable smart home devices are a game changer for parents looking for security and peace of mind... and speaking as a parent, those things are of the utmost importance.

You know Xfinity's trusted X1Voice remote? It's been a game changer for those living with disabilities and illnesses. I didn't know that and it's something that I take for granted but to think that something as simple as a remote, is giving someone more accessible entertainment, well, it's pretty amazing. In April, simply say “Autism” in your X1Voice Remote and select Autism Awareness Month to see a variety of curated content specifically for this event. They're really offering customers the robust experience that is not just about our entertainment but also about adding value to our homes in ways that we need, curated to our needs.

You can learn more about what Xfinity is doing for home entertainment as well as mobile, home security and more on their website. They really do such a great job marrying all of their different technologies so that you're able to be connected to your home through your phone and tablets, even while on the go. Be sure to keep updated on their new offerings to ensure that you're learning about exciting new features that can make your life easier! Thanks again to the folks at Xfinity for hosting me, and teaching me all about the awesome things you're doing!

PS. Right now is #Watchathon (Xfinity's annual weeklong bingefest). Xfinity customers can enjoy access to the top shows from Netflix, HBO, STARZ, NBC and more — for free with Xfinity On Demand on Xfinity TV or the Xfinity Stream app through April 22nd... looks like we have some TV to catch up, am I right?

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

prAna - The New Fit

*This post is in collaboration with prAna

You guys know by now that I am a big fan of prAna, their mission, their commitment to sustainability, fair wage practices, and their style, baby! They've been gracious enough to partner with me again and this time, we're talking about a new fit and fabulous new fabric that the prAna designers have been working on!  You know that I live an active lifestyle from running after these kids, to running to the grocery store, to running errands and then maybe, if I'm lucky, I'll run to the gym or yoga class... what I love about the new line from prAna is that they've got me in mind. Well, maybe not specifically me but they've taken the everyday woman into consideration when actively designing a line that can take you from workout to preschool pick up and on. Check out this video from prAna designers that highlights what they love about the new fit and what drove them to work so hard on bringing us the best product.

My Spring 2018 Picks:
Cybil Knit FedoraNatassa TunicPillar Printed LeggingElixir Bra
It's totally possible for you and me and every person out there to be comfortable in our clothes and our skin. We can be badass yogis who also do the cooking and paint and change diapers and return library books on time. We can do it all, if we want to. I love when a brand is so easy to support. PrAna really doesn't give me any choice but to love them and I'm hoping the feeling is mutual!


Monday, February 26, 2018

My Morning Routine Sponsored by Wayfair

*This post is sponsored by Wayfair. All opinions are 100% mine.

Just recently, something horrible happened... our coffee maker started spewing black sludge type liquid from the bottom of the unit, while it was brewing coffee. Our morning starts with a cup (or two) of joe and the fact that we were left with an under performing coffee maker, well, it was disappointment to be sure. We have two young kids, if you didn't know, and as ashamed as I am to say it, we have to start our day with a strong cup of coffee to fuel us through the often hectic breakfast, teeth brushing and getting everyone set up for the day. It was almost as if I was putting our need into the universe because Wayfair emailed and said "hey, how do you start your day?!"  I was like "with coffee but our coffee maker is breaking my heart!" and so here we are... talking about bringing some new life to the Light mornings...

Wayfair sent me this new Cuisinart Coffee Maker and we didn't know what we were missing. Our coffee was super hot! Our previous coffee maker had been a gift from our wedding over 5 years ago,  so we had a good run but what we realized was that over time, the coffee maker was just not up to the challenge any longer. I'm a proponent of keeping things as long as they are working so that we aren't just buying new to have new things but a good lesson I learned was that sometimes, you can just get that new coffee maker that brews super hot deliciousness that starts the morning off right. Yes, I am writing a post, an ode to coffee makers.

I have been so excited about starting our morning the right way, that I made some apple apricot and ginger biscuits which are the perfect morning treat. I very rarely make things from scratch for our mornings unless it's the weekend, that's how stoked I am. We're certainly extremely happy to be able to ensure that we have sludge free coffee that tastes fresh and is piping hot! Wayfair has an amazing selection of coffee makers so if yours isn't cutting the mustard any more, consider upping the game and jump starting your morning the right way!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

I Tried It: Prim Botanicals

I have been on a bit of a hiatus in trying new beauty products. It's not that I haven't wanted to but the right brands just haven't come along. I am very picky when it comes to new items that I want to try because there are standards, people! I need to know that what I'm putting on my body (or my kids' bodies) is safe, natural and actually works. When my (new) friends at Prim Botanicals offered me the opportunity to bring some of their gorgeous products into my routine, I immediately said yes, because they embody what I appreciate in a brand.

"We are lovers of all things lovely, fresh, restorative and fun. We believe in seriously effective products that never take themselves too seriously. We believe in real beauty and the importance of feeling happy in one's skin."

The Prim Body Oil, $54: Ingredients, Corylus Avellana (Hazelnut Oil), Camellia Oleifera (Camellia Oil*), Prunus Dulcis (Sweet Almond Oil*), Carapa Guianensis (Andiroba Oil), Pentaclethra Macroloba (Pracaxi Oil**), Proprietary Blend of: Jasminum (Jasmine Oil), Rosa Centifolia (Rose Oil), Piper Nigrum (Black Pepper Essential Oil*), Citrus Bergamia (Bergaptene-free Bergamot Essential Oil), Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary Essential Oil*)

Seriously, you guys, the smell (essential oils like jasmine, wild rose, bergamot and black pepper), oh the sweet, fragrant body oil. I haven't ever had a body oil quite like this before. It's silky smooth when applied and absorbs rather quickly but I like to add to my bath (upon Prim's recommendation) or immediately post-shower to really optimize on the moisturizing. It works great as a spot treatment for my dry Winter skin but this oil almost feels too special to use every day. It's lush and luxurious, I absolutely love it, end of story.

Potion No 1, $26: Target Blemishes. Detoxify. Balance. Ingredients: Nigella Sativa (Black Cumin Seed Oil*), Calophyllum Inophyllum (Tamanu Oil), Hippophae Rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn Oil) *Organic

These little bottles are meant for targeted effects not every day use. Fortunately for this review but unfortunately for my life lol, I used this for a recent hormonal imbalance that was manifesting on my face. Since having the baby, my skin has been all out of wack but it's hard to find a natural option for a clear up that doesn't burn when you apply it. It applies orange but can easily be rubbed in to blend and has a light scent that fades shortly after application. I guess the only real question here is did it work? Yes, yes it did and so super gentle on the skin unlike other topical treatments I've used in the past.

Potion No 2, $26: Hydrate. Preserve Youth. Soothe. Ingredients: Carapa Guianensis (Andiroba Oil), Pentaclethra Macroloba (Pracaxi Oil**), Sclerocarya Birrea (Unrefined, Virgin Marula Oil**) **Wildcrafted

This particular potion offers a lot in a little bottle. After the afformentioned breakout or any breakout for that matter, my face goes a little dry. At my last facial, my esthetician also told me that I was "wicked" dry (my words not hers). Sometimes, I feel like my skin is moisturized when it actually isn't. I bet there are other people who feel the same way and so it's important that we keep an eye on things. There's a pleasant, light scent and I got a touch in my mouth, and it doesn't taste good so don't do that lol... but it's great, really. Not only did this help to restore some moisture back, I could see a noticeable difference in some areas of discoloration around my mouth. Yes, I know, so glamorous but seriously, it's like a little jar of magic. I guess there's a reason that it's been called a "mystical" beauty product.

I think the next on my list of things to try from Prim Botanicals would have to be the Hair Oil and the Face Oil but to be honest, I can't imagine that they aren't amazing. Prim Botanicals sent me these products to try and as you know, my opinions are mine, but seriously, I mean it, these are gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous products in every sense of the word.

Have you tried Prim Botanicals before? I'd love to hear about your experience!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Experiences Over Things

So by now you know that I'm currently in the thick of a No Shop February and while it's not without some challenges, it's very much improving my outlook and my will power to boot. It's not hard to see that "things" don't bring me happiness but that hasn't stopped me from trying to buy my own happiness in the past. I love to shop but as I've examined that last few years of my life I've discovered that by purchasing anything that that's caught my eye. well, I've done myself a great disservice. Frankly put, I don't appreciate what I have, proven by the piles of clothes that sit in baskets that I inevitably forget about until they cycle back through to my line of sight. What I'm getting at is that there are better ways to spend my money and time than by buying things to add to the pile of things that I don't appreciate to begin with! I looked back through my instagram for photos (because I was too lazy to take new ones) and also to see if I lived by the mini mantra "experiences over things" and you know what? I have been doing it so really, now, it's about putting these goals here, cutting the spending on the unnecessary so that when I really do find something I love, when I buy it, it will truly be special. Here's how I plan to experience life, rather than fill it with things...

Learn Some New Skills

It's been almost two years since I learned to knit with the beautiful people over at The Third Piece. Even before that, I was always taking the occasional soap making or sewing class (to brush up on my skills) ... I just love to learn how do to new things because I've always enjoyed "making"! I have varying interests depending on my mood but one thing I know for sure is that taking in a class or learning something new from a friend, it feeds my soul. I recently learned to macrame with a visiting artist to The Third Piece and have been knotting at my leisure since... and since getting the coveted grape colored mixer this past Christmas, I've been baking up a storm. Boston Public Market Kitchen has great cooking classes with awesome themes using farm fresh ingredients from local purveyors. I have no business being as excited as I am to learn how to make a cheese souffle but well, I love cheese and baking so the Baking School Essentials is on my "to do" list! I plan to visit the Kitchen over the course of this Spring and Summer to really hone some of my cooking skills and maybe bring some friends along. You know I'm willing to do things alone but with friends, it's that much better.

No matter the area you live in any area of the country, all you have to do is search for community classes and you're sure to find that your city or town offers a wide variety of courses whether you want to brush up on your photography or try your hand at pottery. I think it's also really important to support your community in this way. A lot of people spend their valuable time preparing these courses for the public to learn and engage with one another.

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Go on Big or Little Adventures

Whether I have my kids with me and we're headed to the zoo, or I pre-schedule time away, I am a firm believer on taking little adventures or even big adventures but that's not really in the cards for me for the foreseeable future... which is fine, really. I have to say that taking the time to go places, experience new things, sights, foods, all of that is important even if it's right in your own backyard. This past year, I went to my first Wanderlust Festival in Stratton, VT and it was a joy, truly. I went by myself as you might remember and I reconnected with what I love, with my own thoughts and yes, I did a lot of yoga. I met some really cool people, some of which I have actually still kept up with and you know what? I think I might go again this year because the vibes are all there, I intend to spend more time outdoors this year and I want to see what they have up their sleeves for us.

Finding the fun in our every day is important too. We had a variety of museum and zoo memberships last year which we plan to renew this year because life is for the living even when the plans aren't "grand".

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Raise Money/Volunteer for Worthy Causes

I try to do this all year long. I makes me feel good to donate my time and/or  my money because as I have mentioned before, I am very fortunate to have what I do, that it's almost 100% necessary that I give back. It feeds the soul. There are causes and charities that are near and dear to my heart as I am sure there are organizations near and dear to yours. Spending your time and energy giving back is worthwhile in many ways, not just a different way to spend your time.  This year, I am focusing on a few different organizations that are worthy of my full attention. Yoga Reaches Out is headed into it's 8th year and I couldn't be any prouder to be on the planning committee again this year. If you are in New England, I encourage you to either register to join a team or to donate to someone (maybe at random?) who looks low on fundraising; it will make you feel good. I'm also looking forward to supporting Moms Demand Action as well as raising funds for Save the Children and Cradles to Crayons. What's your favorite charitable organization?

Music, Music, Music

Recently, I've really been making music more of a priority. Wesley (my three.5 year old) has really been showing more natural interest in music, playing instruments, dancing, singing... I can tell that it's going to be a passion of his. He asks me every song that comes on the radio what it's called and who is it by... yes, this can be as annoying as it sounds but truthfully, I will answer him every single time and you know what? He already has shown a love of artists. Every time Thunder by Imagine Dragons comes on the radio he says "it's our favorite song!" and you know what? I love that. I used to go to multiple concerts a year but as with many things, it's gone on the back burner because, KIDS... but now, I'm buying those concert tickets, I'm planning in advance for things I love. We're taking in a Guster festival this Summer and I'm hoping to hit up Kesha/Macklemore with my Swartz crew in the warmer weather. It may not be a million shows but they're enough to quench my musical thirst.

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Try New Things

It's hard to be BIG time adventurous in the #Momlife I'm currently leading but there are things that can be exciting to try! This past year, my cousin, our dear friend and I bought a Groupon for Pole Dancing/Aerial Acro/Flexibility and it most definitely pushed us out of our comfort zone but moreover it was really so much fun. Sometimes when we challenge ourselves, we can feel exhilarated by how well we do when we just muster up a little courage. Try indoor rock climbing, row, belly dancing, salsa, pottery... literally anything really. My motto is that I'll always try something once. I may like it, I may not but at least I tried.

Feed Your Soul with Relationships

This one is a big one. Finding people who truly "get" you is super important. I have found a group of people, my core people and I try to nurture those relationships. Some are family, old college friends, girls I grew up with or even people that I've met through blogging or my W.E.L.L. Summit community. These are people that have the same values, passions, love for life and most importantly, good hearts. Spending time with these people, tending to these relationships, is an amazing way to spend my time. Have you thought about the people who bring you joy even if you're just watching a movie in your pj's? How can you let these people know how much you care? How can you strengthen these bonds?

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I wrote this post to put down the ways that I plan to experience life rather than fill it with the unnecessary material things that I've grown accustomed to. It is my hope that perhaps I could give you guys some ideas on ways to incorporate more "life living" into your every day and this should hopefully result in some real happiness, which is pretty awesome, right?

Thursday, February 1, 2018

No Shop February

When Danielle of A Sequined Life and Natalie of Wear You are Now were like NO SHOP FEBRUARY, I jumped on board without a hesitation. It's become very apparent to me that as my children are getting older (and larger), the space that we are working with seems to get smaller. We are very fortunate, my family. We have a lovely home in a great community and we're able to have the things we want... but that doesn't mean that I need all those things. Actually, I have plenty of things (clothes, shoes, makeup, etc) that I almost have no right wanting more when there's whole lot of people who don't have what I do. Plus, the "things" don't buy me permanent happiness, they just don't... but I'm not going to take this down a depressing route lol, because it's really a fun challenge that these girls have put together, one that I am so happy to be embarking on... and who knows, No Shop February could turn into No Shop March (but let's not get carried away just yet)!

The participants are joining in for various different reasons and are aiming to do some fun things with the things they have already! Some are looking to build capsule collections with their versatile, classic pieces. Some just want to clean out their closets, weeding out the clothes that just don't get any play and therefore are kind of wasting space. It's really just a great way to keep some extra moola in our pockets though. When you really pay attention to what you're spending on coffees, shoes, makeup, little extra odds and ends... well, that adds up. If we're paying attention to everything for one month, it will certainly help us get better acquainted to where that money goes on a monthly basis and I'm betting we'll be surprised at how much we save and how much more mindful we can be with our spending, even when we're not taking part in a "NO SHOP" challenge.


I have become a sucker for clicking through email campaigns from my favorite brands. You're offering me a sale and also show me items that I've looked at in the past, well there's a pretty good chance I might buy it after you remind me how much I liked it in the first place. The thing is though, this online shopping thing give me only momentary happiness. Well, it also gives me happiness when it arrives but it's sort of only superficial. I've been thinking a lot lately about the correlation that I've always had between shopping and attempting to make myself happy. I'm putting this to the test this month... and I gotta start by unsubscribing from every dang email that offers me sales on the daily!

Also, I'm going to put this here as another way to maybe feel held accountable but I want to maybe make some things this month. I've been stockpiling fabrics for years and I need to make the sweaters and dresses that I've been thinking about. Or what about the jewelry that I've got the supplies for but just never make the time? I think that if I combine the will to keep myself from shopping with the will to make some new things, I won't just be proud of what I didn't do (shop) but of what I did do (make things). Again, I have two young children at home who sometimes push me to the absolute limits of sanity but on the days that they don't, I'm going to make something. That's a promise!

Follow along with me and the ladies who are on this lil' adventure this month:

Monday, January 15, 2018

Local Lovin': The Urban Grape + a Giveaway!

Wine and food, literally two of my favorite things to be honest. Before we had kids, the husband and I used to go wine tasting, take our time choosing our favorite wines and food pairings and were once awarded most amazing wine buyers on a trip to the Finger Lakes (we awarded it to ourselves). Anyone who is in the throws of having young children and being tasked with maintaining your sanity knows that it's hard to keep up on your fine wines and what's the newest food craze that you've got to try... but when Hadley Douglas at The Urban Grape was like "Hey Amanda, do you want to try to regain some of that coolness again?" I was like yes, please and thank you. She didn't really ask me that but she might as well have! The folks at The Urban Grape, an awesome, eclectic wine shop in Boston, MA is not only a place to stop and grab the perfect bottle of wine. It's a store whose owners think about drinking in a different way. more progressively you might say. I met Hadley last year at a "real women" photo shoot with our mutual gal pal (Astrid of Tapered Collection) and to say that I had a crush from the onset, would be an understatement. She's cool, funny, smart and voices her opinion (which you know I love). I was thrilled to snag a copy of her and her husband's new book "Drink Progressively" and thought it would be wonderful to learn more about her, The Urban Grape and obviously, WINE!

Give us a little background as to how The Urban Grape came about. What initially drove you to start your shop/brand/book?

I really have to give my husband the credit for this one! It was his dream to open The Urban Grape, and I found myself along for the ride at first, but then jumping in with both feet. TJ had been in the restaurant industry for a long time, and knew he wanted to bring that kind of hospitality to Boston’s retail wine world. Our business partnership works because we are good at keeping what we do for The Urban Grape separate – I sell the store and he sells what’s in it. Building the UG brand has been one of the greatest accomplishments of my life. I’m so proud of how I’ve been able to help TJ articulate his vision for the store. Our new wine education book, Drink Progressively, really grew out of this partnership – it’s his knowledge, seen through my lens. It’s just kind of how we approach life!

What inspires you about wine?

No wine experience is ever the same, twice. Wine is so malleable. Your experience with each bottle is influenced by your mood, what you’re eating, who you’re drinking it with, what the weather is like. It’s widely known that terroir (the soil, air, temperature, etc) around the vines and grapes influences the wine in your glass. But it’s more than that. All of the experiences about that wine influence your pleasure with it. That’s why we wanted a beautiful store and an educated, friendly staff. Wine is grown in the most beautiful places in the world, it should be sold in beautiful places too! Your relationship with that bottle starts the second you walk into our store.

I love the way that you have shaped your business. You're making choosing your wine different than the average wine shop. What does it mean to "drink progressively"?

The concept of “Drink Progressively” is based on a system that we call The Urban Grape Progressive Scale, which categorizes wine by its body instead of by its varietal or region. Basically, we’re saying if you think about five principles of wine – light, medium, or heavy bodied, lemonade, and hot chocolate – you can understand the basics of wine without ever having learned the name of a grape or region. The Progressive Scale rates the body of wine on a scale from 1-10, with one being the most light-bodied (think skim milk), five being medium-bodied (think whole milk), and then being the most full-bodied (think heavy cream). From there, think about lemonade and hot chocolate. Light-bodied, brightly acidic wines have a time and a place, as do rich and full-bodied wines. Once you learn the principles it’s easy to pair wine to food and know what to drink, and when!

What do you love to do in New England, when you aren't busy running your business?

I’m a New England girl, through and through! I love to hike and snowshoe with TJ, our sons, and our dog Zeus. I love the beach just as much as I love the mountains. Yoga is my passion, and I wish I had more time for it – that’s my 2018 goal! JP Centre Yoga in Jamaica Plain is my favorite studio. I’m very into healthy eating, so you’ll find me in the kitchen every day, cooking for our family (a lot of my family recipes are in Drink Progressively!), so to that end I love farmer’s markets and my weekly CSA box delivery. I love my friendships with other women, a lot of whom are small business owners themselves. We’re a bit of a tribe. And as a family we have fallen hard for the Celtics this year. I want to adopt Jayson Tatum as my third son. I’m obsessed.

You have certainly found success and obviously I have a huge girl crush on you! You have a new book out which is awesome, where do you see The Urban Grape headed in the future?

Before I can get into the future, I have to say that the definition of success is a really tricky thing. I’m very hard on myself, and always striving to do better. So is The Urban Grape successful? Sure it is, but there is always something more to accomplish or fine-tune. But when I think of success, it’s not The Urban Grape that springs to mind. It’s my family. I’m really proud of who we are as a family, of who are sons are growing up to be, of our values, and our desire to make the world a place that works better for everyone. I can’t tell you where UG will be in a year, but I can tell you that my favorite part of every day will still be having family dinner around our kitchen table – paired with wine, of course!

PS. Special Treat time! Hop on over to my Instagram post to win a signed copy of Drink Progressively for yourself!

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