Thursday, August 16, 2018

Yoga Mom Toolbox, A Guest Post from Jenny Ravikumar


I am so happy to welcome Jenny Ravikumar back to the blog for a very special guest post. If you don't know Jenny, she's a North Shore yogi with a beautiful spirit and stories to tell. I am happy to lend her Prim and Propah for the day, to bring some of new writing to life so please let's show her a little love!



As a single mom I often find myself trying to split my personality in two. On the one hand, I am myself: a spiritual badass who owns two businesses, rocks the crap out of having fun at life and has a hugely compassionate and empathetic heart. On side number two, I need to keep this little soul safe for the rest of his life and at times it requires this mama to do things she dislikes.

No matter if you’re one half of a parenting duo or doing this on your own, being the bad cop isn’t typically fun. When I’ve asked him to pick up his toys for the 100th time that morning, I often wish I had what my friend Rachel calls “the enforcer.” I wish I had a strong father figure who was able to swoop in after his 9-5 job and take over for a few hours so I could go to yoga.

Don’t get my wrong, I have incredible support. I call my brother, at times Rachel acts like an enforcer on the phone and we live with Papa and Mimi, so my son and I have most of the support we could need. But there are days.

And on those days, I use every tool in my box.

Yoga

I would live in an ashram if I didn’t need my son, our dog or my divinely comfortable queen sized bed. Yoga is what brings me back to me, it’s the light of my soul and the practice that keeps on giving. As a practitioner for over a decade and a teacher for most of that time, yoga is there for me even when I’m not in the yoga studio.

Breathing is my go-to. This sounds ridiculous as that’s the very thing keeping us alive, but it’s the practice of breath that keeps me vibrant and alive rather than existing.

When my nugget is throwing a fit, screaming at mama and trying his best to find words that fit his frustration, I breathe. I take a moment before approaching him and use ujjai breathing to calm my body, my mind and my heart. In ujjai, you breathe in through the nose and exhale deeply through the nose. As you exhale, your mouth is closed and you’re activating the whisper muscles at the back of the throat. This produces a Darth Vadar kind of sound. Ujjai quickly calms the nervous system and brings you back to the present moment. Breathing through the screaming moments makes me instantly calmer.

Ziggy is almost three and if I take a step back while we’re in the middle of an argument or upset, I realize that a grown adult and a toddler are screaming over a few trucks left on the floor. In other words; it’s not a big deal and I need to take a deep breath as much as he does.

This is where yoga comes in for him. Once I’m calm(er); it’s his turn. A few weeks ago, while we were enjoying a quiet car ride, I suggested breathing together and he said “Mama, I’m not upset, I don’t need to breathe.” It stopped me dead in my tracks and made me realize that I also need to use breathing practices when we’re calm to show him the balance of why and when we breathe.

Aside from the breathing, the movement of the practice makes me a better mom. Personally, I’m a better mama when I move my body, have healthy food nearby, am in any body of water or if a good book is within reach.

Find what it is that lifts your soul and makes you a better mama. And then lean into it.

Choice

I have the worlds best pediatrician. I may be biased, but he is amazing. At our second birthday appointment he said; “Toddlers can be challenging. It’s not this year, it’s next that will be a bigger attitude adjustment. Give him CHOICES. Always. And it’ll be a bit easier.”

As usual, he was correct. The closer we get to three, the more I’m realizing that the terrible twos are not actually a concept anymore. My son has a loud, vibrant personality (gee, I wonder where he gets it from) and he needs to be heard. Often our bits of tension revolve around me not giving him a choice. “We are going here” doesn’t sit well with my little. However, “we are running errands today, do you want a donut or would you like apples?” We are still arriving at our destination, nothing has changed. However, it gives him the feeling of having some kind of control in his environment.

As a former educator, I often remember the staggering statistic that our children understand around 500 words by the age of two but can only speak approximately 50 of them. How frustrating must that be! He knows exactly what he needs, why and likely even how to obtain it, but cannot explain to me any of this using the limited language he has.

In our house we have choices as often as possible. Red shirt, shark shirt or happy face? Apples or strawberries? Waffles or eggs? Tub or shower?

It makes our lives a bit easier to navigate, gives him a voice and often takes the guess work out of my day.


Conversation

Every fiber in my being wants to be able to create logic in his mind. I want to help him connect the dots and help me to understand his emotions, his body and his day to day thinking. As such, we try and talk as much as possible. I ask him about his emotions, we talk about feelings as much as we talk about shapes, colors and the world around us. I’ve spoken to him this way since before he could communicate back to me. I am constantly talking in order to help him understand his world and continue to express himself and his wants/needs.

This morning was a prime example. He didn’t want to put the blanket away. I put away all our toys, helped him get dressed, made breakfast and cleaned his plate. Some of that is generally his responsibility. I told him that because mama took some of his jobs, it was now his responsibility to pick up the blanket. He flipped out: for an hour.

Eventually, I sat down on the floor and stared into his teary eyes. I got him to slowly begin to explain that he didn’t want to put it away because he didn’t want to leave the house. It was painstaking and exhausting, but after we took some breaths together, I realized he just wanted to be heard. By me continuing to scream “put the blanket away” - he was further enraged. All he needed in that moment was to be heard.

Knowing Their Love Language 


These little beams of light we brought into the world are a bucket of feelings. They have wants, needs, desires and questions just the same as all of us. And it is our job to listen.

One of my favorite things to do with him is when we both take an essential oil and place it over our belly or our hearts. And then we cuddle.

Each child has a love language, just the same as any adult. I know his is quality time and physical touch. He would love nothing more than to sit next to me and watch TV as we talk about the episode or simply breathe together.

Being in yoga makes me a better mom, but it doesn’t mean that’s where your strength lies. Perhaps it’s reading, working out, a single glass of red wine, a good book, dark chocolate, alone time, time alone with your spouse or time spent in nature. Find what it is that fills your cup and continue to rely on those tools.

Lean into them and then remember : You are already an amazing mama; don’t ever forget that.

~

Jenny Ravikumar is an e-500 hour RYT with yoga alliance. She is a single mama, studio owner and non-profit founder who runs multiple yoga teacher trainings and mentorships each year. Join her online at www.jennyravikumar.com or in person at Barefoot Yoga Shala in Middleton, MA.



Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Our Choices Matter, Plan Against Pain

*This post was created in partnership with Moms Meet and Plan Against Pain. All opinions are my own.

Our choices matter. Of course they do. As a Mom, what I do day in and day out, affects both my life and the lives of my family, the people that I support in my role as “household manager”. As a daughter of nurses, I have always been keenly aware of how important it is to take our health into our own hands and be proactive. I have strived to instill that in my husband as well as take my young children for the checkups, explaining the importance of being healthy. Something that I had not thought about up until recently, was the best way to manage pain for myself or how to appropriately encourage others to do the same. I was just introduced to Plan Against Pain and boy, I wish I had created a pain management plan before both of my births because truly, we were just winging it. In retrospect, I am extremely fortunate that my pain management solutions worked for me and my growing family. Moving forward, I will have a plan in place.


Every human experiences pain differently. We are all genetically different, have different cultural beliefs as well as different perspectives of pain in our minds-- simply put, we’re different. When we think about pain control, it’s important to note that it’s not just for your comfort but also to speed up healing, avoid complications and  to keep any post-op pain from becoming a more serious, long-term issue. With the seriousness of the opioid epidemic across the country, I find the Plan Against Pain site to be a valuable tool in being prepared for pain and then perhaps not taking as many opioid pills to manage it if possible. I have had multiple surgeries in my day (I played a lot of rugby in college and broke almost as many bones) and with each one, I didn’t discuss pain management, I just sort of let my doctor decide what was best. I think it’s important to empower ourselves and others to be active in our healthcare choices, right down to what we’re being prescribed (or not prescribed) for proper management of postsurgical pain or any pain for that matter.

As a woman, it is especially important to me that we encourage one another to speak to medical professionals without guilt and to ask the questions that we have, whether we view them as stupid or worry about being judged. Did you know that 44% of mothers who had C-sections were not satisfied with how their pain was managed after childbirth? That’s a pretty high percentage and, having been a new mom, pain and caring for a newborn are not the best mix. Imagine if while giving advice to our pregnant friends and family about which bottles and strollers are the best, we also offer advice on the best way to approach the topic of pain management after a planned or emergency C-section? I’m pretty sure that I could most certainly bring it up at a girls brunch out!


Pain shouldn’t just be “here’s a pill”- there should be a plan and per Plan Against Pain, pain management should be multimodal, using different types of treatments to alleviate pain. Of course, treatment plans are going to be different for everyone but just starting the conversation with your doctor is a super important step. I think the most important thing I want to convey is that asking your doctor questions is not a waste of their time. Asking your doctor to explain things in more detail is not a waste of their time. Your health and well being are of the utmost importance. Having a plan to keep you well is always a good choice.

Find great information on pain management, tool kits, statistics and more on Plan Against Pain.

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.




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.*
  • NO ACESULFAME K, NO ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS, NO ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS, COLORS, OR PRESERVATIVES, NO MSG, NO SOY, GLUTEN FREE, NO EGG, NO DAIRY, NO YEAST, NUT FREE.


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!


THE IDEA! 

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": https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MQ553VS


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!



Sunday, April 22, 2018

Earth Day Every Day Sponsored by Wayfair


Boom, all of a sudden it's Earth Day then it's not! I mean, every day should be Earth Day because we live on this planet and should take care of it each and every day. We can embrace the date on the calendar and use it as a catalyst to make some changes in our every day lives. We've been trying to make small adjustments in the Propah Household, as we go along, to make less of a footprint in our home. (recycling, consuming less, reusing, DIY with what we have instead of buying new, etc). No single family is perfect but we sure are trying! One thing that absolutely makes me feel close to the Earth is gardening. Every year, I get excited to start my seeds, buy flowers, really take my space up a notch. Plants in almost every shape and size, make me happy and I want to help preserve the Earth for my children and their children, am I right?

It has been something that I take pride in, using eco-friendly items to create a garden space that will last the whole Summer and into the Fall but doesn't create unnecessary waste in the process.


Items you can use to start seeds: 

I prefer items that will break down when planted in their "forever home" but reusing is also a good option when the alternative is ending up in a landfill.

Toilet Paper Tubes
Egg cartons (cardboard)
Stale Ice Cream Cones
Used Ziploc bags and wet paper towels (they started beans like this at daycare, just tape 'em to the window!)
Newspaper, think paper mache!
Egg shells, interested to try though would require me not to break them fully, which would be a challenge.
Old Muffin tins (just slip in cupcake papers!)
Old Ice Cube Tray
Old K-cups, though they won't breakdown, is certainly a way to re-use!


Items you can use as planters:

Milk Cartons or jugs
Soup Cans
Soda Bottles
Plant Sacks
Plastic Water bottles
Pretty much anything, just be sure you account for drainage!

Items you can use that are mindful:

Organic soil: it's a touch more expensive but if you're growing edibles, it's great for the environment and your peace of mind.
Reusable plant sacks and planters. Keep using them for years and years!
Also, When buying plants at your garden center, look for ones that are in recycled container or better yet ones that will break down when planted. You'll find a lot of brands offer this option!
Planters made from recycled materials
Natural Wood Stakes


My favorite gardening items that help me keep my business in order can be used year after year with proper care and increase my enjoyment in said activities:



Obviously, these are just a start and there are so many ways that you can make your garden more Earth friendly than it already is, I mean, it's already pretty earthy-crunchy! I can't wait to build my new potting bench that Wayfair sent (check out their potting benches here)We love this time we get to spend together and it's a real treat to be able to recycle, re-use and reduce when we're creating our garden! How do YOU celebrate Earth Day everyday?

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!


USE CODE AEALS18 FOR 15% OFF YOUR PRANA ORDER

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!